Regardless of what you think of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the D.C. gun ban, one thing is pretty clear: the ruling takes away one of the National Rifle Association’s biggest fund-raising incentives. For decades they have been able to cash in on the fear that some crazy liberal president or Congress would take away people’s guns. They ran ads against anyone who ever suggested that common sense about firearms might be a good idea, and every time someone shot up a workplace or a schoolyard, Wayne LaPierre and the NRA spin machine went on the offensive to ensure that the public revulsion against such slaughter didn’t end up with the wholesale rounding up of everything from Glocks to great-grandpa’s souvenir flintlock from the French-Indian War.
But now that the Supreme Court has affirmed that Americans have a right to individual gun ownership — which to me has always been a reasonable interpretation of the law — the NRA will need to come up with some other way of raising money and maintaining their position as one of the most powerful and feared lobbying enterprises in the country. Perhaps they’ll turn their considerable energies to coming up with common sense laws in cities that keep the worst of the weapons out of the hands of wackos but don’t infringe on the everyday rights of people to own a lethal weapon. Even Justice Scalia noted that nothing in the ruling should be interpreted as saying that the Second Amendment is absolute, any more than the First Amendment prohibits the regulation of such things as child pornography. Perhaps the NRA can turn their attention to building a consensus between gun owners and law enforcement as to the real meaning of “well-regulated.”
Somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m sure that they’re already working on some new campaign to scare the bejesus out of bazooka owners.