A rifle in one hand, a laptop in the other. Behind the scene with pro-gun bloggers
“If you compare the pro-gun activity in the blogosphere versus the pro-gun-control activity, the scales have just tipped tremendously in their favor,” says Josh Sugarmann, founder of the Violence Policy Center in Washington, which advocates for more gun control in the US. “There’s much more engagement, more involvement, and they clearly have more free time than people on our side of the issue do.”
In the process, gun bloggers are taking on issues like gun control preemption laws in Philadelphia and putting pressure on firearms firms for their choice of spokesmen. And while their reach can be argued, their rise appears to mirror polling data showing that Americans, sometimes by double-digit gains, increasingly favor more gun freedoms, not gun control.
Gun control groups have roughly 150,000 members in the US while gun rights advocates number closer to 12 million, with perhaps as many as 80 million Americans owning some 200 million firearms.
The Internet presence of gun rights advocates actually began in the early 1990s, making them early adopters of the Web as a social and information tool. They took the lead on issues like concealed carry laws which have now spread to nearly 40 states, says Mr. Patrick, the University of Toledo professor.
“If you’d asked a policy expert in 1987, ‘Twenty-five years from now, are we going to have liberation of concealed carry laws or more control?’ they would have said that we’d have more restrictions -- and they’d be wrong,” says Patrick. “The question is: How did they succeed? How do you succeed in the face of conventional wisdom, common sense and elite opinion?”
The answer, Patrick says, lies partly in the “horizontal interpretive communities” otherwise known as blogs. Largely ignored, criticized, and even ridiculed by mainstream media, gun owners started their own listservs and bulletin boards, often putting out releases with titles like “Gun news the media didn’t report today.”