In 2013, the grassroots of the Minnesota human rights movement – pro-Second-Amendment groups like GOCRA, the Twin Cities Gun Owners and other genuine grass-roots organizations – dealt the gun-grabbers a humiliating defeat. Even though the anti-rights groups were lavishly funded, were supported by a purchased media narrative, and controlled the entire apparatus of Minnesota government, they were unable to jam down any of their useless legislation.
It was an epic victory of an army of Davids over a phalanx of obese, arrogant Goliaths.
But 2014 is a whole new year.
Since the last session, the anti-gun movement has made some roster changes. In place of last year’s leadership – “Protect” MN’s credibility-free Rep. Heather Martens, Moms Want Action’s shrill, self-caricaturing Jane Kay, and the hysterical, deranged Joan Peterson, a flood of Joyce Foundation and Bloomberg money has enabled the anti-rights movement (in this case, “Mayors Against Illegal Guns”) to hire Richard Carlbom, the architect of the campaign to torpedo the Marriage Amendment, and then to pass Gay Marriage in Minnesota.
And this is going to change the game here in Minnesota.
Unlike the Minnesota gun grab movement’s previous leadership, Carlbom is a smooth, polished PR fixer with great talent at running a nuanced, effective campaign – and he’s already got one improbable win against (at face value) longish odds under his belt.
As a result, this is going to be a different campaign, unlike any that Minnesota’s Second Amendment movement has ever faced.
My hunch? Carlbom will replace Kay/Martens/Peterson’s club-footed yapping, and Michael Paymar’s wide-front legislative bludgeoning, with a more subtle attack:
- Emotional cruise missiles replace carpet-bombing: the anti-rights movement has long bludgeoned their audiences with a ham-fisted appeal to emotion. To be fair, it’s their only argument; to be honest, they haven’t done it well. Carlbom won the gay marriage debate in part by personalizing the gay marriage issue – showing that gay couples were Just Like The Rest Of Us. I think you can expect the emotional assault to be much more focused and personalized than in the past; fewer “schoolrooms full of children”; more “let’s talk with this mom, whose son was…[fill in tragic shooting]. Expect those attacks to be far harder to undercut – Carlbom is less likely to focus on the story of a “child” who turned out to be a gang thug than were the hapless Martens or Kay.
- The friendly face of “reasonable” authority: The anti-gun movement lost a lot of credibility points by using as its public face the scolding, unctuous, unfluent Martens, the hectoring and red-faced Kay, and irrational Peterson. Expect those faces to be replaced by Minnesota’s very definition of “reasonable”; lots of Lutheran ministers (ELCA, natch), with their Saint Olaf-bred diction and their carefully-trimmed beards, and liberal-but-not-too-liberal, Jewish-but-not-too-jewish rabbis, carefully and calmly asking for “common sense” measures to “prevent violence” and “promote safety”, and lots of other carefully-focused terms calibrated not to alarm tens of thousands of phone calls and thousands of protesters.
- Trying to build the “reasonable” brand: Expect less (overt) talk about attacking puffy-faced white suburban caricatures, and more about how “gun safety” and “violence prevention” appeals to our better natures; the things that make us human, and Minnesotan. This campaign has, in fact, already begun, with Strib columns by Lori Sturdevant and Scott Gillespie (see this space tomorrow morning) that stake out this emotional, intellectual space (in a campaign that just can’t be coordinated, and I’m sure is just a fluke that won’t, no, won’t get re-iterated in turn by every other Minnesota mainstream media outlet, nosireebob).
It’ll be a campaign calculated not to alarm, and to appeal on at least a shallow level to the conceit most Minnesotans have that we’re a thoughtful, deliberate people, not given to unseemly rash emotionality and open to “reason”.
Underneath and obscured by it all, of course, will be the facts; that none of the measures they’re proposing will affect actual violence in any way. Nor are they intended to.
But it’ll be done in a way intended to gently gull the gullible, and lull at least a part of the crowd that rose up to repudiate Representatives Paymar, Hausman and Martens in the last session.
So it’s almost time for a new session – one that may be the most dangerous yet for Minnesota’s Real Americans.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em.
CORRECTION: This past session was 2013, wasn’t it?