Culture War Is All That’s Left When Gun Policy Battles Become Pointless: New at Reason

Forget the debates over laws that can't make a difference; the heat and noise is really all about political tribes attempting to inconvenience each other.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

Last year, I noted the growing tendency of the "dominant political tribes to effortlessly taunt each other by waving cultural flags—or putting the legal screws to lifestyle choices that aren't overtly partisan." Since then, the escalating strife between political and cultural factions has turned into economic warfare, as opponents of private ownership of guns pressure businesses to end relations with the National Rifle Association. The culture war is almost guaranteed to harden the sides rather than hand anybody victory. It's also unlikely to go away, since posturing and stigmatizing is all the combatants have as debate over actual policy slides toward irrelevance.

Ironically, predominately progressive gun opponents are adopting the conscience-driven boycott model—an exercise of free association rights—that many of them sought to deny to social conservatives who spurn the business of gays and lesbians (bake a wedding cake, anybody?). So far, Enterprise Holdings, Avis Budget Group, Chubb Limited, MetLife, Delta, United Airlines, and the First National Bank of Omaha are among the companies breaking ties with the gun-rights group, or just discontinuing discounts to its members. The end goal of this project seems to have less to do with policy changes than with flipping the bird to the five million members of the organization most closely associated with opposition to restrictions on self-defense rights.

"I think that the best way to describe the gun debate in this country is not as a policy battle but as a culture war," the conservative writer David French recently told an interviewer. "What you often see are two competing visions of a way of life, two competing visions of what it means to be a citizen in a constitutional republic, two competing visions of the kind of society and culture you want to live in."

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