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Cryo Chamber

SCOTUS Poised To Change Gun Debate

The Supreme Court is poised to forbid cities and states from banning handguns, stomach bringing an anti-climactic end to a political firefight that petered out decades ago.

Court watchers expect the ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago to have little immediate policy impact outside the Windy City. And the ruling is unlikely to alter the policy agenda of gun control advocates, online who haven’t pushed handgun bans for 30 years or more.

But the ruling could open the door for a long-overdue public reckoning about the place of firearms in civil society. Such a debate is especially timely as gun rights advocates increasingly exert their political muscle by staging armed “musters” — or assemblies — in national parks and by openly carrying pistols to public meetings, to legislators’ offices, even to Whole Foods and Starbucks.

For decades, gun politics has been fought on two battlefields: a policy battlefield and a cultural one.

On the policy battlefield, gun control and gun rights advocates have sparred over issues such as background checks on gun purchases and protocols for granting permits to carry concealed weapons. Each side assembled favorable data, studies and analysis, all of which mattered very little because the real battle — the one that influenced political decision makers — was occurring on the cultural battlefield.

To date, gun rights forces, led by the 4 million member National Rifle Association, have dominated that battle. Many on this side base their civic identity on the belief that they alone can save American democracy from the designs of power-mad politicians backed by an easily swayed, civically emasculated populace.

The pistol-packing patriot narrative hinges on a core argument: that any gun regulation, no matter how modest, is one step down a “slippery slope” to inevitable tyranny. With unwitting help from early gun control supporters, who advocated handgun bans as the only sensible approach to spiraling crime rates, the slippery slope argument by the 1970s had become gun rights advocates’ political trump card.-[source]

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