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What the Movement for Marriage Equality Can Teach Gun Sense Advocates

06/29/2015 03:24 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2016
TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images

The day after the SCOTUS announced Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Shannon Watts was to speak at the national PTA convention in Charlotte, NC. And if you don't think these two events aren't connected in a way that tells us a lot about the future of guns and gun violence, then think again.

The linkage happens to do with the fact that opposition to gay marriage and support of the 2nd Amendment usually go hand in hand. For that matter, support of gay marriage and opposition to the 2nd Amendment also link together in most public-opinion polling and fundraising efforts that accompany political campaigns. With a few exceptions, political liberals never bother to use a mailing list from the NRA; political conservatives wouldn't get caught dead sending out appeals via any of the pro-gay groups.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not expecting the anti-gay culture or the gun culture to change overnight. And the response of the various Republican presidential candidates to yesterday's decision made it clear that law of the land or no law of the land, conservative audiences will continue to be provoked by opposition to gay rights. But when Shannon gets up in front of the national PTAs, she says what she always says, that the battle against gun violence won't be won overnight. And her precedent in this respect will be the fact that less than 20 years ago, coming out of the closet as gay was still big news. I'm not saying it will take another 20 years for Congress to pass some sensible gun-control legislation or for the NRA to get real about gun safety and stop peddling the nonsense about how armed citizens protect us from crime. What I am saying is that you can't jump into the gun debate and assume that things will change overnight.

Actually, the PTA organization first began talking about guns back in 1999, which was almost a decade after then-Senator Joe Biden introduced the Gun-Free School Zones Act that was signed into law by then-President George H. W Bush. The law has gone through numerous iterations since then, but it basically imposes requirements on every school district which receives federal aid to set up and monitor a program to keep schools as gun-free zones. And despite the stupid notion that gun-free zones are less safe, legal efforts to allow teachers and students to bring guns even onto college campuses haven't gotten all that far. Currently the PTA position on guns goes far beyond whether they should be allowed in schools. Among other things, it calls for restrictions on internet gun sales, waiting periods, safety locks to prevent juveniles from accidentally discharging guns -- Shannon should feel right at home.

But the real importance of her appearance at the PTA convention is not so much the fact that what the Moms and Everytown organizations promote in terms of guns and gun safety aligns with the PTA position on guns which nobody's going to read anyway. What's really important is that she's at the meeting, talking to Moms, Dads, teachers, school administrators and others about guns. What I have always liked about Shannon and the gals is that they get out there to meet and talk to Mr. and Mrs. Average American who, thanks to Friday's SCOTUS ruling, will increasingly be the same sex.

Back in April, the Moms held a rally at the NRA meeting in Nashville, and the pro-gun noisemakers like Breitbart immediately assured their followers that the rally was of no consequence because only a few hundred people were outside the convention hall. I've been going to NRA meetings since 1980, and this was the first time that anyone other than some crazy guy with a 'Jesus Saves' poster ever walked outside at all. Want to talk to average Americans about guns? I don't notice Wayne-o talking to the PTA.