The national Rifle Association, as I pointed out in mine previous post, is top top the offensive. No content v its recent victory in Congress, that is currently looking front to the 2014 midterm elections, as soon as it hopes to sink the prospect of reliable gun control for an additional decade or more. Therefore what, if anything, can be done? How have the right to supporters of cautious measures to stop the proliferation of fatal firearms—a group that includes the majority of Americans—hope to defeat the pistol lobby?

In seeking answers come this question, I’ve to be conversing through some persons in the gun-control movement, and the conversations were more encouraging than I had expected. Having spent a few weeks gaining over your setback in the Senate, the N.R.A.’s adversaries are acquisition President Obama in ~ his word the it was simply the “first round” in a an extensive fight. Realistically, castle can’t expect to knock out Wayne LaPierre and his four-million-plus members (the precise variety of N.R.A. Members is hotly disputed) at any time soon, but they space looking to loss them top top points. And they see signs of encouragement. Indeed, few of them think that the N.R.A.’s historic victory could become viewed as a historic blunder.

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“I think the gun lobby will concerned regret the it didn’t execute what Wayne LaPierre promoted in 1999, and also accept much more background checks,” Dan Gross, the chairman of the Brady campaign to stop Gun Violence, called me. “This poll really exposed come a many of world just just how outrageous the case is. I think background will show that this was the moment when the American civilization decided they’d had enough.”

Gross’s dispute assumes that famous opinion can adjust political outcomes, i m sorry is specifically what didn’t take place in the Senate. Because that he and also anyone else that would choose to tame the N.R.A., the question is how to make certain the very same thing doesn’t take place again. Native the perspective of the armchair pundit, it’s straightforward to sell an answer: develop an “anti-N.R.A.”—a populist and also fearsomely reliable national lobbying group that frightens the bejesus the end of senators and congressmen who room thinking that toeing the line of the gun lobby. In a fragmentized political device that is beholden to an effective interest groups, the influence of single-issue organizations, such as the N.R.A., Grover Norquist’s americans for tax Reform, and also even planned Parenthood, has been demonstrated over and also over again. Why can not an “Americans for Gun Control” be added to the list?

There are plenty of answers to that question, one of which is historical. The many successful single-issue organizations have actually deep roots. The N.R.A. Dates earlier to 1871, and well prior to it became a Washington enforcer it was a popular membership culture for hunters and also target shooters. The origins of plan Parenthood, which currently has about four million members, deserve to be traced back to 1921, when Margaret Sanger, among the heroes the the feminist movement, set up the American Birth regulate League. American for tax Reform is a more recent creation, yet it walk go ago almost thirty years—the Reagan administration created it to lobby for its 1986 tax reform, and also since then it has actually been continual by donations native corporations and also rich individuals that favor lower taxes.


History has left the gun-control activity with a more fractured nature. The biggest group is the Brady Campaign, which arised from a group called Handgun manage Inc., i m sorry was established in the nineteen-seventies. In 2000, it was renamed in honor of James Brady, the previous press secretary in the Reagan management who was partially paralyzed after being shot in a 1981 assassination attempt on the President. According to Gross, the Brady campaign now has around a million members and also supporters. Then there is the Coalition to prevent Gun Violence, which bring together nearly fifty medical, religious, and also community groups. There is likewise Mayors versus Illegal Guns, an significantly aggressive and influential company that Michael Bloomberg set up in 2006, and also a number of smaller groups, such together the national Gun Victims activity Council and Stop Handgun Violence. ~ the Newtown massacre, a brand-new organization appeared on the scene, Moms demand Action, which do not do it be puzzled with Million mom March. (That’s part of the Brady Campaign.)

If this perform of organizations sounds a bit confusing, it can not be helped, gun-control supporters say, and also it doesn’t preclude efficient action. “It’s not around creating a single, monolithic organization” like the N.R.A., gun insisted. “It’s about expressing the voice the the American public—from moms come mayors to people who live in influenced communities.” Arkadi Gerney, a former head that Mayors versus Illegal Guns, that is currently a senior fellow in ~ the facility for American Progress, agreed. “There is no ‘silver bullet’ organization on our next of the debate,” he wrote to me in an e-mail. “It’s going to take a bunch that actors and a the majority of voices—mayors and moms, cops and faith leaders, victims and also responsible pistol owners—to engage. This will be much less unified, much less command-and-control. But it is coming together—and as soon as it does it will stand for a much broader swath the the American public 보다 the NRA’s lobbyists could ever expect to engage.”

On first hearing this argument, ns confess, ns didn’t buy it. If you were a democratic senator representing a west state, whom would certainly you fear more? The N.R.A. Or an unwieldy coalition the gun-control groups? but Gross and Gerney both insisted the the splintered nature of the anti-N.R.A. Movement available some advantages. The various groups can occupational together come take advantage of your over-all scale, while additionally engaging various sections of the public and dividing the job of politics campaigning. For example, the Brady Campaign, v its wealth of volunteers, can emphasis on call politicians and other labor-intensive tasks, conversely, Mayors against Illegal Guns, utilizing Bloomberg’s money, can run target ads in an essential districts. “There is a heightened sense of anyone needing come fill details roles—more so than in the past,” gun said. “I think over there is a fundamental respect for the value that other groups carry to the table. It’s good for united state that us don’t need to spend ten million dollars in advertising because somebody rather is act it.”


At the state and local level, i beg your pardon is where many gun-control initiatives are being rolled out, over there is additionally a most coöperation between the assorted groups. “Our fragmented method has that is advantages,” Leah Gunn Barrett, the executive director of new Yorkers versus Gun Violence, said in one e-mail. “Moms Demand activity is grassroots and also sprang upnationally after ~ Sandy Hook. Right here in NY we have been able to help them with policy, data and making relations in the state and also they have helped energize us v their newfound passion and energy. This is happening in various other parts of the country. Us are also connecting with doctors’ teams such as doctors for America who treatment deeply around the publicly health prices of total violence. Our teams represent the ideal in America. The NRA represents the pistol industry and also a few gun fanatics. They don’t speak because that the country. ”


In a brand-new report for the facility for American Progress, Gerney and one that his colleagues, Chelsea Parsons, point to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and also Colorado as various other states where grassroots campaigns involving too many of different organizations room enjoying success. Traditionally, the N.R.A.’s big advantage has been the is supporters bring a better level the intensity come the fight, but today “(t)here is substantial evidence the the intensity gap has closed,” Gerney and also Parsons write.

That might be a slight exaggeration, however the space is certainly closing. And also for gun-control advocates, sticking with the coalition strategy rather 보다 trying to build a brand-new organization may be the natural thing come do. Gun owners often identify themselves together gun owners first and foremost. Gun-control advocates usually check out themselves as something else first: moms, doctors, mayors, victims of crime, and also so on. By permitting each of these groups to come together and also then coalesce, the gun-control motion is able to elicit much more diversity, spontaneity, and also enthusiasm.

That’s the theory, anyway, and gun-control activists urge that the is working, notwithstanding the poll in the Senate. The an extremely fact that a number of senators v A qualities from the N.R.A. To be willing come defy the organization, and vote because that background checks, they take as an important pointer. And they room even much more uplifted by the backlash the the vote inspired, particularly in states where political leaders hitherto concerned as moderates sided through the N.R.A. In new Hampshire, for example, Kelly Ayotte, a first-term Republican, faced hostile questioning in ~ a series of town-hall meetings, and her approval ratings have actually taken a battering. “It’s not just around sympathizing through the Newtown family members anymore,” pistol said. “It’s about: How have the right to you therefore blatantly fail to represent us and also protect our safety?”

According come a report in the Washington Post, over there is even a possibility that extending background checks can return come the Senate’s agenda in the coming weeks and also months. At least two Republicans—Johnny Isakson and Jeff Flake, the junior senators native Georgia and also Arizona—may be ready to readjust their votes if some changes are made to the initial proposal put forward through Democrat Joe Manchin, that West Virginia, and also Republican pat Toomey, the Pennsylvania, the Post report said.


That’s definitely encouraging. But, when it comes right down to it, will sufficient Republicans and also Democrats be willing to defy the N.R.A. And its allies? A brand-new report indigenous the center for windy Integrity confirms that, regardless of Bloomberg’s efforts, the pistol lobby tho dwarfs its opponents in the lot of cash—forty-six million dollars because 2010—it deserve to devote to its cause, and also the misery and fear that can produce in the psychic of politicians on Capitol Hill. “Whether that fear is justification is an attractive question,” the report said. “But it clearly exists.”

Gun-control advocates understand this, that course, and they room trying to handle it head on. Gerney said it’s necessary to exert public press on the N.R.A.’s partner in the total industry and the investors the finance it. An additional thing the would assist would it is in the development of a moderate different to the N.R.A. For gun owners. One such group, Bullmoose Sportsmen, already exists, however it’s nice small. “The NRA is reliable in large measure due to the fact that they’ve developed a well-crafted myth around how efficient they are,” Gerney wrote to me. “Why space there so many calls to Congress? because the NRA spends countless dollars on direct mail and also paid ‘patch-through’ call vendors to generate the calls. That’s not a bad thing necessarily—our side has actually things to learn on generating engagement of ours supporters—but in inflates the NRA’s power.”

Gross discussed that the N.R.A.’s member only contains a little minority the America’s hundred million total owners, many of whom support expanded background checks and also other procedures to limit the it is provided of guns to criminals and nuts. “It’s about an altering the narrative in Washington, and also showing the it’s not simply the N.R.A. That holds human being accountable,” the said.

Is together a revolution really possible? The next few months will provide part of the answer, and so will next year’s midterms. But I, because that one, am feeling a bit much more hopeful 보다 I to be a few weeks ago. Pistol reminded me the it took six years and also seven votes to happen a 1993 bill developing a national mechanism of background checks. Last month, once the Senate voted down widening background checks, he to be sitting in the chamber with Sarah Brady, James Brady’s wife. “I was heartbroken,” he recalled. “She turned to me and also said, ‘Sometimes the takes a great defeat.’ ns genuinely think the that’s what has happened here.”

Above: Dan pistol of the Brady project to protect against Gun Violence speaks in Washington. Picture by invoice Clark/CQ roll Call/Getty.

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John Cassidy has actually been a staff writer in ~ The brand-new Yorker because 1995. He additionally writes a column about politics, economics, and more for lasignoralaura.com.