I have been spending a lot of time since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre thinking about gun control. I looked for groups that I could join to perform direct, legislation-supporting action; finding nothing immediately (beyond groups which I could – and did – support financially), I started my own outlet for my need for direct action. I have no illusions that it’s actually leading anyone to do anything but it does make me feel better. To the extent that it adds another small rhetorical pebble in favor of gun control to the larger social media environment, that’s also good and worth my time.
I called my daily direct-action site “Not Talking, Just Acting” because online argument-based persuasion is not a strength of the gun control movement. Because of the lack of effective infrastructure at the national level, the rhetoric of gun control is terribly underdeveloped relative to the rhetoric of gun ownership. However, this rhetorical problem doesn’t correspond to actual opinion majorities. Most households in the US don’t have guns. Most people in the US don’t have guns. Most people support a ban on assault weapons, armor-piercing bullets and high-capacity magazines.
The biggest reason to focus on action rather than persuasion, however, is the demonstration of the effectiveness of turnout-based efforts by Democrats in the 2012 election. When opinion is strongly polarized, you cannot hope to sway large numbers of adherents to your cause. What you can do is identify and mobilize your supporters. The first step to achieving effective gun control movements will be rallying the majorities who believe in taking some reasonable steps forward.
Then we can figure out our order of operations.