This week, Vice President Joe Biden had a message for those faith leaders and clergymen seeking to bring about immigration reform: “Don’t let your issue die like gun control did.”
According to Politico, Biden gave them the advice during a conference call with immigration reform advocates, organized by the Catholic justice agency Network, which sent out thousands of pro-immigration reform postcards to members of Congress on Wednesday.
Biden told them to get active in their communities and to be persistent with their efforts to ensure that lawmakers know where the public stands.
“Work the districts so these members understand how all their constituents feel, not just the loudest ones,” Biden said.
“This kind of reminds me of the gun control kind of fights we had, and gun safety. You know, the people who don’t want anything changed to have a more rational position, they’re the ones who show up in large numbers,” he continued. “The ones who strongly support us, they don’t show up. You guys have to show up.”
Biden’s certainly right about gun owners and gun rights advocates having a loud and resonate voice in the national debate over gun control.
Back in May, a Pew Research Center poll found that 25 percent of those who prioritize gun rights say they have, at some point, contributed money to an organization that takes a position on the issue, compared with just 6 percent of gun control activists who’ve done the same.
To put it another way, gun rights are four times more likely to put money where their mouth is than gun control proponents. This should be reassuring, especially if one subscribes to the “golden rule,” i.e. who has the gold makes the rules.
Though efforts go beyond just money, gun advocates also do a better job reaching out to local representatives and lawmakers. The May 2013 poll found that, overall, 16 percent of gun rights advocates have contacted a public official to express an opinion on gun policy, compared to 11 percent of gun control supporters.
With respect to social media, they’re more outspoken. Pew found that 22 percent of gun rights supporters have expressed an opinion on gun policy on a social network, like Facebook or Twitter, compared to 14 percent of gun control supporters.
Political Activism Gap
Gun rights advocates are also more inclined to sign a petition supporting a cause, beating out gun control proponents by a margin of 6 percentage points, i.e., 18 percent compared to 12 percent — those number hold up even when factoring in a recent petition backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, that garnered 1.5 million signatures in support of expanded background checks.
Lastly, and perhaps most strikingly, 41 percent of gun rights supporters said that they would not vote for a candidate who is pro-gun control. Only 31 percent of gun control supporters saw a candidate’s position with respect to guns as a make-or-break issue.
Bottom line: gun owners are more politically engaged when compared to the opposition. Biden knows this. And he knows that’s why the Senate failed to pass sweeping gun control legislation in April, including bans on magazines holding more than 10 rounds, firearms defined as “assault weapons” and a bill that would have expanded background checks to private gun sales or transfers made over the Internet or at gun shows.
Like gun control, the battle over immigration is a battle of wills. Whoever wants it more will win out in the end.