In 1968 it was almost impossible to get a license to carry a concealed weapon in the vast majority of the United States. A few states, like my home state of Virginia, had legal open carry, but people in the most rural sections of the state rarely saw someone exercising that right. If asked, few knew the right existed and wouldn’t have been much interested if they had.
Veterans knew about semi-automatic rifles, but even among those who hunted or did a little target shooting, few owned such a weapon, and even fewer wanted them.
The NRA was a group of collectors, target shooters, and hunters with no political clout, and less political interest.
Almost fifty years later, due to the efforts of the Giffords, and like-minded organizations, who have done everything in their power to scale back the right to self-defense, we have a law being debated in Congress that would vastly expand concealed carry on a national level, even in states where the political possibility of winning that right in-state is impossible.
A huge percentage of the expanding rifle market goes to semi-automatics with large magazine capacities. When asked why, the new owners invariably say, “Because I still can.”
Most of the people reading a comment on an article by the Gifford Foundation will believe in strict gun control. On a typical day, you will get up, go to work, go to whatever recreational function you choose, and never see or hear anything about a gun, or have to think about one. It’s just not a part of your life, and you don’t want it to be.
Instead of successfully restricting firearms you’ve aroused a conservative population, caused liberal politicians who espoused views you cared about in areas like health care and women’s rights to lose their jobs in most of the South and the West, and caused people who otherwise would have shown little interest in arming themselves or carrying a weapon to seize upon rights they never thought about.
In recent years, in a large part due to gun issues, an aroused conservative population has elected Republicans in most state legislatives, governor’s mansions, both houses of congress, the Presidency, and they have a 5–4 advantage in the Supreme Court. If in a year’s time, when you ride the metro into work, if you want to be able to look out across the crowd and assume a high percentage of the people you see are armed, the best way you could assure that is by sending a check to the Giffords.