To hear the spokesmen of the National Rifle Association tell it, American gun owners [[rights]] are constantly under siege. In their world, even President Obama's lack of action on gun violence prevention measures indicates that he's on the verge of destroying the Second Amendment. The United Nations is waiting right behind him with plots for gun confiscation. And of course, "jack-booted thugs" are everywhere.
In a lengthy report, the Center for Public Integrity details how gun activists across the country are using similar tactics, creating a cult of victimhood:
Borrowing organizing and advocacy techniques from the civil rights movement, these activists are casting gun owners as victims, denied the right to defend themselves and their families against violence, even as the parameters of that right under the Second Amendment remain far from clear under current Supreme Court precedents.
CPI explains that gun groups have used these talking points to conduct a nationwide campaign to expand access to concealed carry permits:
In just the past three years, 22 states have weakened or eliminated laws regulating the possession of concealed weapons, according to the Legal Community Against Violence, a public-interest law firm in San Francisco that supports more restrictive gun laws.
These measures are easing testing and eligibility requirements for obtaining a permit, opening up new public and private places where people can have concealed weapons, and giving new legal clout to those who use guns to defend themselves.
Many states now give concealed carry permit holders the right to have their guns in parked cars at work -- and some have extended the right to parents picking up their children in school zones. Landlords are being told they can no longer refuse to lease property to someone who owns guns.
The liberalization of concealed carry laws in the states is also helping drive legislation on Capitol Hill for a federal concealed carry law that would require states to recognize each other's permits. The measure, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, is slated for a House vote as early as today.
A 1998 book, More Guns, Less Crime, purported to find a statistical link between concealed carry laws and declines in violent crime in states adopting them. Its author, John R. Lott, an economist and visiting professor at several universities including the University of Chicago, was widely celebrated as concealed carry's leading intellectual.
But his work has been disputed by several other academics who believe other factors, such as sentencing laws and the number of police officers on the street are more important determinants of crime.
Using Lott's model, John Donohue, an economist and lawyer at Stanford Law School, found that more guns may actually increase certain kinds of violent crime, though even Donohue concedes that concealed carry laws have not led to the bloodbath some of its opponents once feared.
A 2004 review of various studies, including Lott's, by the National Research Council found "no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime."
With their facts in shambles, all the NRA and their allies have to fall back on is victimhood and conspiracies. But they've used those tools to great effect.