On December 23, Bloomberg Business responded to the post-San Bernardino rejection of gun control by suggesting gun control was beaten the same way it has been beaten since 1968; by a “gun lobby” led by an NRA that is a force to be reckoned with.
Bloomberg Business describes President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) as a president with “legendary powers of persuasion,” but a president who was largely defeated on gun control even though he came into office after a President John F. Kennedy was killed by a gunman.
Bills to ban “mail-order guns” like the one used to shoot Kennedy were introduced and went nowhere for years. Opposition to this new gun legislation came from the South and the West–much as it has continued to do in the decades since–and from the NRA. But after a string of high profile deaths took place–adding Malcolm X (1965), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968), Robert Kennedy (1968) to JFK–the Democrats were able to interweave LBJ’s “powers of persuasion” with the tactic of shame and secure the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA).
The GCA banned the mail-order guns LBJ had failed to ban in years prior.
And the GCA did something else–it gave rise to a stronger, more focused NRA that has been winning since 1968. Bloomberg Business shows this by pointing out that the next significant piece of gun control passed did not come until 1993, during the Clinton presidency. That is 25 years of the NRA holding sway.
In 1994 Clinton enacted a federal “assault weapons” ban that lasted until 2004, at which point the NRA was able to defeat its renewal–and they have been able to defeat its renewal every time it has come up since.
Bloomberg Business suggests President Obama’s current push for expanded background checks, magazine capacity limitations, and banning “assault weapons” mark the new ground zero between gun control Democrats and the NRA. It is a fight that goes back for decades, and one which the NRA has been winning since 1968.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.