I haven't engaged much in the Sandy Hook discussion. Naturally, I find this attack very upsetting. On a personal level, I work with a number of schools, and don't always go through the front door. If you're a familiar face, or project the right kind of friendly confidence, you can often get in a side door, which is much more convenient. I expect things to be different, at least for awhile. I certainly don't mind the inconvenience, in the interest of safety, but the profound erosion of trust, and the reinforcement of a fortress mentality, is going to have a significant impact on students, teachers and schools across the country. That's not something I experienced when I was in school, although during the Cold War, sometimes what we thought were air raid sirens would go off, and I'd wonder if we were about to get nuked.
I'm sure we're all on mailing lists that rely on threat-based fundraising, eg "(insert opponent here) is trying to destroy/subvert/undermine/erode (insert beloved cause here) - please donate to help us stop them". I'm not in a financial position to provide that kind of support, but I'm sure it's quite effective. I'm not on the NRA's mailing list, but I'm pretty damn sure they rely quite heavily on threat-based fundraising, and the enemy is us. Which is the point of this diary.
I've shot a gun once in my life, and I'm pretty sure that's the gun my friend used to kill himself with. I have friends I respect who are committed, responsible hunters and gun owners. I'm not comfortable around guns, but I can appreciate "gun culture", by which I mean people for whom guns are a part of their lifestyle. Maybe we'd be better off without guns, but I can accept living in a gun culture where participants are careful and responsible. I drive a car, and cars kill a lot more people in the US every year than guns, but I've gotten used to that.
I do feel that the NRA leadership has gone way overboard in promoting and supporting gun ownership "rights" that go far beyond what's acceptable. They have been the driving force in making increasingly dangerous guns more available, and that's unacceptable. I've followed their influence on politics and US culture since the Brady Bill, and I honestly don't know how they sleep at night.
That said, I know that the NRA also is very significantly involved in promoting gun safety, through training classes, certifications, and so on. Responsible gun owners are very careful and aware of the risks involved with using guns. I recommend spending some time with a responsible gun owner - you will find it very reassuring. I'm pretty sure that the majority of NRA members are responsible gun owners.
So that's the preamble. My concern about the current calls to shut down the NRA and set much more restrictive gun laws is that this is perfect fodder for the NRA's threat-based fundraising machine. Their marketing team can and likely will raise millions, just cut & pasting from DK posts the last few days. While calls for action strike strong resonance within most of the DK community, this is exactly what the NRA thrives on.
I'm not saying that these discussions on DK are wrong, I'm just not sure whether it's the most productive approach. I've been through a number of opposition-based campaigns, where I'm working with allies to try to stop a juggernaut - it's pretty exhausting. Over time, I've found that direct opposition is less productive than taking the time to build partnerships and alliances with those who aren't directly aligned with my mission, and working to build and maintain meaningful communication with "the enemy". This is a slower and less satisfying path, but one that builds towards much stronger solutions.
Opposition-based tactics push your opponent into a corner, where they focus their energy on stopping or ignoring you. When you're up against a powerful entity, you're usually going to lose the battle, although with time and effort, you may win the war. More and more, when I approach a conflict, I think about how I can redirect my opponent's energy. Instead of forcing them to comply with what I want, I try to find effective pressure points, where I can encourage them to spend their energy more constructively. That involves practicing awareness and compassion.
No point in getting all preachy. I think we are within a moment of opportunity, that can result in meaningful change on this topic. A big part of that is the aggressive push-back against the NRA. But I also feel that exclusively focussing on oppositional tactics may win us some points, but still feed the monster, long-term.
A few thoughts:
-This diary, emphasizing a focus on gun violence prevention as a common cause, makes a strong point: http://www.dailykos.com/...
-I'm sure there is a strong faction of NRA members who are committed to gun safety. Finding ways to build common cause with them could be much more effective long-term in transforming the NRA.
-I've certainly witnessed acrimonious RKBA diaries on DK, but I also see a consistent commitment to responsible gun ownership. I feel that demonizing the RKBA group at DK burns a bridge to constructive progressive engagement with responsible gun owners.
-It's much easier to make enemies than allies. When I'm in an oppositional dynamic, I always try to keep in mind that my opponents are primarily motivated by the same human emotions that I am - love and care and commitment. They may be misdirected, but when I attack them, I attack what they care about. Maybe they're committed to their job because it lets them support their family. Maybe they're motivated by a core ideal, that's close to core ideals that I have. When I attack them, they put all their energy into opposing me. When I work to find areas of understanding and mutual concern, they put at least some of their energy into finding ways to work together.
And to take this all the way back to the beginning, the 2nd Amendment was written by individuals who were committed to building strong and guiding principles for the nation. It may have been misdirected and exploited by well-intentioned and/or irresponsible individuals over time, it may be out-dated, but there remains a core commitment to protecting a nation founded on democratic principles. We can definitely work with that.