The Wall Street Journal ran a section entitled "Voices of the Future" this week, and surprisingly, it included a brief column about guns. The author was sociologist Jennifer Carlson, and she had some surprisingly well-taken points to make.
She posited a future where gun rights would be even more restricted in states like California, Connecticut and New York, while expanding in the remaining states.
"With the gun debate focused on state-level politics, high-profile shootings will exacerbate the division between these two Americas: in restrictive states, a demand for more laws; in permissive states, a demand for more guns." Can't argue with that one: it's already happening.
"In states with weak gun-control lobbies, expanded gun rights will be limited only by more centrist contingents of the gun lobby — for example, gun-rights proponents who speak out against the open carrying of firearms, which has been the subject of heated debate in Texas and elsewhere." That's an interesting notion. In states where gun owners have been successful, there is a tendency for the debate to head toward a vanishing point of where and how concealed or open carry is permitted. In the more free states, the debate is whether you can carry in church or public buildings or bars.
Concealed carry has also led to an active and growing industry of instructors and private for-profit ranges. That didn't exist 40 years ago, and it alters the political equation. It's not just some grizzled guys from the gun club lobbying the state legislature: it's people who make their living from the shooting sports.
The push for concealed carry laws has been our way of being on offense for almost 30 years, and now that it has been successful most places, we need to find new issues to stay on the attack rather than taking the defensive posture of the 1960s or 70s.
"Polarization will result in greater diversity among gun owners. Aggressive marketing of guns to women, racial minorities and other groups underrepresented within American gun culture is likely (although white men will still predominate). In line with recent survey data, whether one views guns as everyday objects or as a taboo may have increasingly less to do with gender or race and more to do with regional differences and political affiliation." That's underway already. The first SHOT Show in 1979 was a clubby gathering of white guys. Today, it's a wildly diverse collection of all sorts of people from all around the world. The fact that our enemies and their enablers in the media can't recognize that is a big secret weapon for us.
Carlson posits that "smart guns" will become popular, and I think she's wrong on that one. So long as politicians in places like California or New Jersey hope to use them to relieve us of our current guns, "smart guns" are going nowhere. She's on a little stronger ground in suggesting that economical 3-D printing will lead to non-traceable guns made by hobbyists.
In all, it was a pretty well-crafted piece of crystal ball-gazing. Of course, it was appearing in the relatively conservative Wall Street Journal. The day something like it runs in the New York Times, we'll be getting somewhere.