Thursday, February 03, 2005

The death of gun-control?

The Hill has a pretty fascinating article today discussing how the leadership in the Democratic party is becoming more gun-rights oriented. As a Democrat, gun enthusiast and former gun owner, I have to say that I find this trend heartening.

Growing up, I was taught to use and respect firearms. They were not toys, but nor were they something to be feared. It wasn't until I moved to Washington, DC, in 2000 that I came across something I believe to be an urban, definitely liberal, phenomenon: knee-jerk anti-gun attitudes. By this, I mean the uniformly, often violently, negative response I've heard when discussing guns and gun laws with people with whom I usually agree (i.e. urban, East Coast Democrats). These folks, usually my friends, are often shocked when I mention that I think the 2nd Amendment encompasses more than just a collective right, and that I don't think gun bans are good policy. Generally, after this revelation, we never discuss gun control again. Usually, I think, because my friends don't think we have common ground on the issue.

What I find heartening about the article is the suggestion, however faint, that the Democratic party might be working to find a middle path and articulate that common ground. I think that for too long the Handgun Control, Inc. crowd has had too much influence on the party's approach to gun control and dictated too much of the internal debate. With any luck, Howard Dean, Harry Reid and others will be able to bring a moderating influence into play. I don't know the mechanism by which this might occur, but maybe then progressives and liberals might be convinced re-consider their absolute aversion to firearms.