A deep-seated fear by gun owners is overwhelming the gun control debate.
A poll of American adults recently conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University stated:
“In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.” Those surveyed were asked whether they agreed with that statement. What percent do you think agreed?
Maybe 5 percent? Ten percent? Surely, not more than that.
Yes, far more than that. An astounding 29 percent of Americans agreed with that statement. An additional 5 percent were unsure.
Breaking that down, 44 percent of Republicans — more than four in 10 — believe an armed revolution might be necessary. Of independents, 27 percent. Democrats, 18 percent.
It is no wonder Congress does not pass bans on assault-style, semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15.
If a gun owner believes a rebellion might be necessary, he will want all the fire power he can get. Furthermore, though not asked in this poll, if you believe an outside invasion might be in our future, having an assault-style weapon may be what you need to fight the enemy.
The fear does not stop there.
There is a real fear the federal government will try to take away guns by executive order.
As articulated by a Missouri legislator, “The president could issue an executive order to restrict access to firearms.” That is precisely why Missouri, Kansas, and other states are trying to pass laws, or have passed laws, that would make it illegal — a felony, in fact — for U.S. authorities to enforce federal firearm laws within their states’ boundaries.
That fear was the rallying cry at a recent convention of the National Rifle Association. Its dynamic speaker was Wayne LaPierre, well-known Executive Vice President of the NRA, who declared, “We will never surrender our guns, never!”
That applies, of course, to high-capacity magazines. Banning those is out of the question.
When it comes down to it, the NRA wields a huge influence by tapping into the anxiety that pervades a big chunk of its 5 million members — far more, by the way, since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The NRA is considered to be among the top three most powerful lobbyists in Washington. The NRA is known to have knocked off many candidates who have voted against their policies. They not only spend lots of money to elect or defeat candidates, but their ground troops are extremely effective. When the last gun control legislation was passed in 1994 — which has since expired — several Democrats who voted in favor lost their seats. It is widely believed the NRA was behind their defeats. So, fear of the NRA in Congress is very, very real.
It was also the NRA that helped kill the recent effort to expand background checks.
The NRA believes universal background checks could lead someday to registration of guns, which would give the federal government a total list of who owns firearms. If there were going to be an armed rebellion, that list could be very dangerous, indeed.
In 2009, there were approximately 310 million firearms in the United States. A third of those are rifles, and millions of those are the AR-15, one of the most popular weapons today.
The NRA will tell you the assault-style weapons are used for sporting (which they are), as well as protecting families from criminals (which they probably would).
But what the NRA has not told you is that tens of millions of citizens are afraid of an armed rebellion.
In addition to the clout of the NRA, polls indicate that 56 percent of American white men oppose stricter gun controls laws, and they are a group that can be quite vocal and quite influential. If President Barack Obama and some in Congress think they can push through any kind of gun control legislation, they are deluding themselves and wasting time.
President Obama and certain senators who are still leading the charge for some kind of gun control have a total disconnect with the extraordinary fears of gun owners.
Fear, after all, is more significant in this debate than even the existence of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms. Fear gives millions of Americans the strong motivation to fight tampering with the ownership of those arms, in any way whatsoever.