Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Changing Society

I am about to say something that is going to scare a few of you who oppose gun safety.  The view on guns in this country is changing.  The battle over gun safety did not end the filibuster vote.  It actually has, I think, just begun.

You see, I've seen this change before.  I saw it in the 1970's.  Those of you who were around then saw it too.  In 1975, I saw for the first time a group called GASP.  They were reasonably funded and organized.  GASP stood for Group Against Smoking Pollution.  They opposed second hand smoke.  We smokers made fun of GASP.  If we would have had the ability for memes, I am sure we would have used social media to make fun of them just as the memes do of those wanting gun safety.  You see, we didn't know. We believed that second hand smoke was an over-blown myth.  We had missed the change.  There was a fundamental shift coming in America, and many of us missed it.  GASP got it.  Like now, there was an organization that fought to protect our fundamental right to smoke.

The smoking lobby was one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States.  IT protected the smokers. It represented us.  At least, that's what we thought. They had money, and they contributed to political campaigns. In the 60's they had made fun of methodology used to show cigarettes caused cancer.  They had their own doctors and studies, but a shift had begun. They were very possibly the reason that modern lobbyists still operate the way they do.  People were dying and then word leaked out that the big tobacco industry had known about the dangers for years. It also became patently obvious the smokers' lobby was funded by the tobacco industry.  They didn't support smokers; they were a shield for big tobacco.

We watched as great movie actors fought cancer.  It became for the lobby a PR disaster.  GASP saw this change, and as the first real force to oppose smoking, especially second hand smoke, began the push.  They lost the battle here and there but ultimately they won the war.  Don't believe me?  Light up in a bar.  There are even cities now planning on going smoke free.

I see this change again.  With the deaths in Newtown, there was a fundamental change in this country.  Just months before, even after Aurora, almost every pundit and politician agreed that the gun debate was over.  The NRA had won. When those little ones died, suddenly the debate came blazing back from the dead.  What is more where before stood only the NRA and its single issue voters on gun rights there was suddenly not just one group but many demanding change.  Like GASP, these organizations are organized, funded and are building their own lobby.  The Newtown Promise, Mothers Against Gun Violence, Women Against Gun Violence, Parents Against Gun Violence, The Coalition Against Gun Violence, Mayors Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign are just a few.  They are not going away, and like those who oppose gun safety measures, they are building a base of single issue voters.  Some are even establishing rating systems like the NRA.  All they need is one successful election. Then senators on the left and right will live in fear of them too.

Just as true is the arguments offered by the NRA which in one breath opposed background checks and then put out a recommendation to put armed guards at schools once they had passed, you guessed it, a background check. Even more devastating is information is starting to leak that the NRA does not actually represent gun owners, but just as the smokers' lobby, the NRA is well funded by gun manufacturers.  Now with an organized opposition, it is a matter of time.

Fundamental change is actually pretty rare, but this country is changing.  Less than two decades ago, no one would believe that we would have a majority of the society supporting same sex civil unions or that we would have an African American President, and the current front runner for the next presidential campaign is a woman.  There is a fundamental change.  The background bill did not fail.  It actually passed 54 to 46.  It was killed by cloture or the silent filibuster.  You see the vote was not on the bill, but whether it would be filibustered.

Change is slow.  The battle has been joined.  Who will win? I do not know.  All I know is in 1975, I laughed at GASP.