IN: Maybe Democrats should visit more gun shows


Harry Tuttle
November 11, 2004, 02:30 PM

Maybe Democrats should visit more gun shows
Pierre M. Atlas
November 11, 2004

We've all heard that "moral values" topped the list of voter concerns
in the exit polls. As numerous pundits have noted, same-sex marriage
was the ultimate wedge issue in this presidential election.

But the Second Amendment was another critical element in the cluster
of "traditional values" that President Bush successfully championed.
The National Rifle Association wholeheartedly backed Bush and played
a major role in mobilizing millions of gun owners against John Kerry.

For many Americans, this election was more about God, guns and gays
than about Iraq or terrorism.

I witnessed the passion behind the gun issue on the last weekend in
October when I attended the Indy 1500 Gun & Knife Show at the Indiana
State Fairgrounds, one of the largest gun shows east of the
Mississippi. Thousands of guns were on display, from rare
collectibles to the latest pistols and assault rifles.

I've been to many gun shows in several states, but this was the first
time I attended one just three days before a presidential election.
The gun show was Bush country. Almost every display table had Bush-
Cheney bumper stickers and signs. Many attendees wore Bush or NRA
hats and T-shirts. One T-shirt said, "The Second Amendment: America's
Original Homeland Security." If there were any Kerry supporters at
this venue, they were keeping their opinions to themselves.

Gun shows attract both the mainstream and the fringe. Randy Weaver of
Ruby Ridge had a book-signing booth. Next to him was a "My Man Mitch"
table. As is the norm, the attendees were overwhelmingly white, with
a few blacks and Hispanics in the crowd. But those who have never
been to a gun show might have been surprised by the number of women
walking up and down the aisles. There were uniformed police officers
from across the state engaged in small talk with civilians carrying
weapons for sale. At a gun show, the guns themselves are simply a
matter of fact, no more controversial or intimidating than cats would
be at a cat show. It is considered by many to be a wholesome
experience. I saw dozens of families walking around, with some dads
looking to buy their son or daughter a first .22 rifle or shotgun.

On the drive home that day, I put the radio on a local country music
station. It played the Toby Keith song, "Courtesy of the Red, White
and Blue," which is not just a hit on the charts, but served as an
unofficial anthem of the Bush campaign. When the song was over, the
DJ commented on its patriotic theme and said, "Keep that in mind when
you go to the polls on Tuesday."

Country music, like gun ownership, has long been one of the many
threads in the American fabric. But increasingly both have become
easy indicators of partisan and ideological affiliation. Partisanship
now permeates popular culture, with country singers on one side and
rock stars on the other. And conservatives have their own "political
correctness," as the Dixie Chicks quickly found out.

The cultural, regional and ideological gulf within the nation is, if
anything, wider now than in 2000. It is also urban versus suburban
and rural. Many Bush voters were endorsing the president's values and
beliefs, not just his policies. Bush received 51 percent of the vote
nationally but 60 percent in Indiana, one of the northernmost red
states. If the Democrats are to avoid being relegated to the
perpetual role of minority opposition, they will need to develop and
articulate an alternative, coherent set of cultural values that
resonates with, rather than alienates, a larger number of Americans
living between the two coasts.

Guns might be a place to start. In the Indiana House elections, the
NRA endorsed candidates in 77 of the 100 districts: 46 were
Republicans, but 31 were Democrats. On the other hand, the national
Democratic Party, which demonizes gun shows and ridicules gun owners,
has little credibility with the millions of gun owners who have been
willing to vote for local Democrats in the red states.

With guns in perhaps one of every two households in this country,
that's something Democrats need to consider as they begin their much-
needed soul-searching.

Atlas is assistant professor of political science and director of the
Franciscan Center for Global Studies at Marian College. Contact him

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November 11, 2004, 02:49 PM
This is the most neutral story I have seen from them in the 5 years I've lived there.
Another point for In residents I have wittnessed is indiference to candidates and siding with the AWB. There are the panicked soccermom and cheerleader camp moms to reactionarys to cop killings this year. One university officer killed with his own service gun and another who died from an ak/ar clone wieded by confirmed mental case who needed treatment.
This article is a streaching swing from recent election editorial opinions. I would take it with a grain of salt considering the press. Indiana re-elected a socialist senator.

El Tejon
November 11, 2004, 03:19 PM
If he was there, why didn't he buy my carbine for sale. :neener:

Henry Bowman
November 11, 2004, 03:40 PM
"It is considered by many to be a wholesome experience. "

Imagine that!

El Tejon
November 11, 2004, 04:00 PM
Well, yeah. I went with my father for my birthday. Warning: do not go with your father, he will stand there ooing and ahhing and not spending a dime of money (he asked me for the $7 to get him in and "allowed" me to buy lunch) and ask you [repeatedly] "are you really going to buy that?", "do you need that much ammo?", "don't you already have 5 of those?". ;)

Was nice to be out with him, otherwise he would be at home keeping in constant contact with the Weather Channel and running out to check his barometer and rain gauge. That's his work, for fun he walks around Lowe's or Menard's on weekends giving out free advice on home improvement projects.

"Excuse me, sir. Do you work here?" :uhoh:

Malone LaVeigh
November 11, 2004, 04:35 PM
Thanks, Harry. I have forwarded this to places it needs to be read.

November 11, 2004, 04:42 PM
It was an excellent show. I did not know at the time Weaver was there. I also didn't have any spare cash or guns to trade for some of the really nice firearms I would have liked to have gone home owning.

November 11, 2004, 04:51 PM
ET-- "If he was there, why didn't he buy my carbine for sale."

Maybe because you were asking $800 for a Universal with a drilled receiver. :neener:

November 11, 2004, 05:07 PM
Surely there exists a second Indy Star somewhere that I don't know about. It can't be the same one I'm familiar with. :confused:

El Tejon
November 11, 2004, 05:10 PM
Chipper, I see you are familiar with El Tejon's gun policies. BTW, there was a "1" in front of that "$800". :neener:

November 11, 2004, 05:38 PM
I've read any number of articles lately about how the Democrats need to do this or that to win in 2008. Embrace family values, other than homosexual marraige; downplay abortion; be seen in church and so on.

So I offer an old quotation to the Democratic Party for a new motto:

Sincerity is the key! If we can fake that, we've got it made.

Standing Wolf
November 11, 2004, 08:11 PM
Gun shows attract both the mainstream and the fringe...

...unlike Democratic (sic) party functions, which attract the fringe and the completely insane.

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