If Congress sent one message to America's gun owners in 1993
it was ... "YOU ARE THE ENEMY." Indeed, bearing Congress
rant and rave about gun control in recent weeks was enough
to make any freedom-loving American sick.
From a letter to NRA members, produced by Institute
for Legislative Action, NRA, 1993
WE MUST GET THESE KILLING MACHINES OFF OUR STREETS!
From a flyer depicting six semiautomatic weapons, sent
to members of Handgun Control, Inc., 1993
4. Political Fury: Gun Politics
WHITE-HOT rhetoric is no stranger to American political discourse. Yet
one would be hard pressed to find an issue that provokes more anger
and vitriol across years and even decades than the gun debate. The National Rifle Association's (NRA) Institute for Legislative Action (ILA)
summary of Congress's legislative activities for 1993, printed above, and Handgun Control, Inc.'s (HCI) communication to its members are typical of the tone and style of the messages these groups transmit to their
members, as well as much of the political discourse on gun control.
Admittedly, these strident appeals are not unusual in the world of
targeted mailings; in fact, the standard wisdom on effective direct mail is
that it be both emotional and personal.
Needless to say, the NRA and HCI are likely to pull out all the stops when it comes to mobilizing their
members. Yet the point is that this kind of rhetoric spills beyond the
groups themselves and into the national gun debate, as is true of other
examples of social regulatory policy. To state the matter in its simplest
terms, rational policymaking recedes from view when the political combatants spend most of their time screaming political obscenities at each
other.As I argued in chapter 1, these traits are symptomatic of social regulatory policies, where the primary focus is on social relationships rather
than economic transactions. The political traits of social regulatory policy, which are the focus of this chapter, include the following:
|1. ||The prevalence of single-issue groups. The significance of these
groups, which have proliferated in recent decades, is that they maintain|