Shannon Watts took the 2016 election hard. But like any good marketing executive, she’s figured out that adversity is good click bait and has expanded her horizons to the readership of Teen Vogue, a magazine that’s been going through a transition from a purveyor of celebrity “news” and advertising in the guise of articles about cosmetics and clothes to a print and on-line location for some serious journalism and political opinion.
But Teen Vogue hasn’t given up on fluff, as is illustrated in this piece by Watts, titled, “7 Things You Don’t Know About the NRA Gun Lobby and What You Can Do About It,” with the even more ominous assertion in the subtitle that “The NRA may be more influential than you realize.”
She may be right in one respect here. In almost twenty years of teaching, I’ve seen time and time again that “common knowledge” is a term created more out of optimism than demonstrable sociology. But the seven assertions that Watts makes do nothing to alleviate ignorance on the part of any reader who hasn’t studied the subject for herself.
Her list starts off with a favorite hobby horse of the gun control crowd, the claim that the NRA has blocked funding for research into what she refers to as a “gun violence crisis.” I’ll take this moment to remind everyone that we’re at the least violent period in the history of this country, from the colonial days into independence and nationhood. And while we can debate the finer points of the assertion, since the CDC is in fact only barred from advocating for gun control, let’s take a different approach. Watts spent years representing Monsanto and health insurance companies. She should be used to selling unpopular positions by now, so why isn’t she raising money for the research she wants? At the very least, she could encourage Michael Bloomberg to spend some of his.
She also spreads confusion about how the laws of the United States are supposed to work, since she tells us that it’s the NRA’s fault that “felons, domestic abusers, and even suspected terrorists” are able to buy guns and that there’s yet another loophole, this time the “boyfriend loophole” that in her view allows domestic abusers to be armed. We in the gun community get accused of only reading the second half of the Second Amendment, but I wonder if Watts has read the whole Bill of Rights, including the parts that cover the rights of the accused and the need for the government to provide evidence and secure a conviction before punishment. If she wanted to get law enforcement to take domestic violence more seriously and get prosecutors to seek longer penalties for that crime, I’d support that. But when she wants to toss out significant portions of the Constitution, and when she fails to grasp the fact that terrorists, for example will get guns, just as they did despite the strict laws of France, I can’t go along with her.
In the interests of the First Amendment, I’ll agree that doctors should be free to talk to their patients about guns, though I doubt Watts will understand that the real concern here isn’t the idea of healthcare professionals discussing a potential health concern, but is instead a question of what gets recorded in medical records and who has access to those.
Now some of the things that Watts accuses the NRA of doing is accurate, at least if we strip away the hand wringing that she does about it. According to her, the group wants people able to be armed throughout the country and wants women to have access to effective self-defense tools. I realize that she regards being able to take care of oneself as counterrevolutionary, but just like the rights of the accused to confront the evidence against them and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, it’s the right of Americans to defend themselves, and the more of us able to to that—women and minority groups that are targeted because of who they are especially—the better.
What all of this does illustrate is that we need to spend more time teaching gun handling and gun rights to the up and coming generations. The temptation right now is to relax, thanks to the results of the 2016 elections, but politics is never forever—or even for all that long—and if we believe in the benefits of being in the gun community, we want as many people to join us as possible.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.