01 Mar 2007

Derbyshire Says: The Zumbo Affair Proves Gun-Owners are “a Pack, Not a Herd *”

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John Derbyshire has some words of wisdom for would-be Republican nominees. But they obviously come much too late for Giuliani.

As the Zumbo case illustrates, the point of maximum friction is between hunters and the rest. There is a lurking suspicion among non-hunting gun sportsmen that the hunters will sell them down the river, if some clever politician can clinch the deal:

A problem with the duck hunter crowd is that politicians try to take away our handguns or my black rifles, but insist they’ll never go after your over-under. The duck hunters nod and let the confiscation proceed, and before long all that’s left are the duck hunters, who have no support as their shotguns are confiscated…

What the Zumbo case shows is that these minor differences will be brushed aside when gun enthusiasts sense a threat to their rights. Hunting-outdoor sportsmen piled on with the rest — though in general, like Steve Bodio, with a bit more regard for civility. As I started out by saying, for all the magnificent achievements of the NRA in keeping gun rights secure, gun hobbyists and sportsmen live in a state of mild, if permanent, insecurity, and our natural posture is defensive.

The political lesson to be taken by any contender for the Republican nomination who is seriously short of creds on gun rights issues — no names, no pack drill — is that Second Amendment enthusiasts stand head and shoulders above other conservative groups in their passion and solidarity on behalf of their constitutional rights. You will need to work very hard and tread v–e–r–y carefully if you want the support of this large and well-organized constituency. Set a foot wrong and you could find yourself being zumboed!

* in Glenn Reynolds‘ felicitous phrase.

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