The observant among you may have noticed anti-gun messaging start to change as of late. Gone are calls for gun control, now replaced by the same insidious concept under a different name— “gun safety.” In his speech on February 1st, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the state’s already flawed and overly restricting concealed carry laws. Instead of calling it a “gun control” measure, however, he and others present at the speech repeatedly referred to it as “gun safety reform.” This pattern is echoed throughout the civilian disarmament complex across the country, but why?
Motivated by surging violent crime during the pandemic, millions of Americans became first-time gun owners so they could protect themselves and their families. Even before that, young women and ethnic minorities made up the fastest-growing market for firearms, directly contradicting the old narrative that we gun ownership is a form of racist oppression by old white men. With so many people opening their eyes and gaining a new appreciation for the right to self-defense, anti-gun groups are facing a huge credibility problem. The fact of the matter is, more and more Americans now see “gun control” policies for what they really are—a threat to their individual liberties. Just to name one example, public support for “assault weapon” bans has reached its lowest point in eight years. The legal face of the 2A community is changing as well, with the stodgy and corrupt NRA superseded by a diverse array of ambitious new organizations who actually get things done instead of laundering donors’ money into Wayne LaPierre’s champagne fund.
In the face of such reinvigorated opposition, the leaders of the civilian disarmament complex have been forced to change their tactics. Instead of openly championing “gun control,” they now attempt to seem more moderate by using sanitized terms like “gun safety reform” and altering their most prominent policy recommendations. Due to dwindling support for “assault weapon” bans, more emphasis is now placed on criminalizing concealed carry and creating more soft targets in the form of “gun free zones.” While those of us who have spent years researching and studying the topic understand the critical flaws in such ideas, they sound innocuous enough on the surface as to fool the otherwise uninformed.
The ongoing sanitization of anti-gun messaging will be an interesting new challenge for the pro-2A movement in the near future. It will become increasingly important for us to educate the public on the flaws of new anti-gun proposals and poke holes in the propaganda. Pro-gun media campaigns must focus more on outreach to the uninformed and clear, concise explanations of the myriad problems with gun control. We should be optimistic, though: the fact that the anti-gunners have been forced to change their tune and disguise their true intentions means we’re winning, and as long as we can adapt along with them, we can continue to win.