Monday, August 7, 2017

Target Practice

The NRA got what it wanted: Republicans in control of all three branches of government.  But it’s actually bad for their business.  Without a president who supported gun law reform, they would seem to have no one to rail against and use as their fund raiser.

Oh, but there is one fat target left: the media, of course.

Data from the FBI gives us a hint of why.  Since January 2009, when Obama took office, 46 of the first seven months of the year have seen increases over the prior year’s gun sales, as roughly measured by the number of federal background checks performed. (This isn’t a precise metric, but it’s a decent estimate.) That means that, in 17 of those months, there were fewer background checks relative to that month the year before.

Six of those 17 declines happened over the first seven months of 2017.

Part of this is certainly that the first seven months of 2016 saw a big increase in background checks relative to 2015, itself in part a function of the looming threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency. But even after the big increases in 2013 that followed the Sandy Hook shooting (and Obama’s reelection), sales were up in March of 2014 relative to the prior year.

The goal of the NRA isn’t directly to affect gun sales, but there’s a clearly a correlation between how urgently people want to buy guns and how urgently they feel the need to give to LaPierre’s group.

That means that there needs to be a threat that necessitates both gun sales and NRA memberships. With Obama gone and Clinton back home in Chappaqua, that role is now filled by the “violent left” and the media. Since the violent left is a bit nebulous, it seems that the media will enjoy the majority of the NRA’s focus.

The “violent left” is a dog-whistle; it really means anyone who isn’t white who owns a gun.  And attacking the media is an oldie but a goodie; it worked for Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, and Spiro Agnew, and it will always get the pigeons fluttering.