In many ways, Sarah Palin mirrors the ethos of the gun-rights
movement she promotes: never back down. Criticized for her rhetoric
in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, she's since posted a
combative defense on Facebook and signed up to speak at a hunting
and gun convention.
Say one thing for Sarah Palin: She heeds her own advice.
Coming only days after Ms. Palin was drawn into the Arizona
shooting drama, news that the former Alaska governor and potential
presidential aspirant will headline a gun-friendly hunting
convention Jan. 29 fits her famous stump phrase: "Don't retreat,
It is a philosophy that defines Palin as a political figure and
also points to how closely her own public persona echoes that of the
American gun culture she promotes. Just as the gun-rights community
has prided itself on not backing down from any challenge but rather
thriving on adversity to win broader victories, Palin has once again
answered her critics with confrontation this week.
To critics, it is one of the traits that makes Palin unlikely to
succeed as a presidential candidate. To backers, however, it sets
For Palin, perhaps, it was only natural to envision 20
congressional districts ripe for a tea party takeover last November
as targets marked by cross hairs. The fact that one of those targets
was Arizona's Eighth District, and the fact that the district's
Democratic representative, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in an
apparent assassination attempt Saturday, made Palin and her map a
topic of debate only minutes after the shooting.
Palin acknowledged she had prayed about what happened in Tucson.
But in taped remarks issued Wednesday on her Facebook account, she
also lambasted her media critics for committing "blood libel" by
making a "reprehensible" insinuation.
She might as well have taken a page from how the gun-rights
movement has reacted to challenges against it during the past 20
The gun lobby's relentless campaign
Despite mass-shooting tragedies like the one at Columbine High
School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007, for instance, the gun
lobby and gun owners never paused in a concerted campaign to expand
so-called "shall-carry" gun regulations, which mandate that states
automatically have to approve a gun license if a person clears a
In 1980, nine states had "shall-carry" laws; today, 37 do.
Moreover, Palin's use of Facebook to carve out her own narrative
apart from the mainstream press is reminiscent of the strategy used
by gun-rights advocates to turn the national momentum against gun
control during the past two decades.
In the 1990s, gun-rights activists were among the early adopters
and pioneers of blogs, online bulletin boards, and listservs, says
Brian Anse Patrick, a gun-culture expert and author of "Rise of the
Anti-Media." Often ignored or ridiculed mainstream journalists, gun
owners - not always in lockstep with the National Rifle Association -
spread news, analysis, and philosophy across the Internet, posting
items like "Gun news the media didn't report today. …