Gun rights don't need to be revamped, just enforced

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Why does support for gun rights go up and support for gun control go down after mass shootings like the recent killings in a movie theater in Lafayette, La., and a church in Charleston, S.C.? In the Washington Post's The Fix blog, Amber Phillips tries to explain why, as the headline on her blogpost reads, "Americans increasingly see more guns as the solution, not the problem."

Phillips presents the data fairly, including Pew Research Center polling showing increasing support for gun rights and the idea that increasing gun ownership could prevent people from becoming crime victims, but you get the feeling that she is genuinely puzzled that, as she writes, "Increasingly, Americans see guns as the answer — not the problem — to mass shootings."

Why is this happening? She points to "powerful and well-organized pro-gun lobbies like the National Rifle Association" and "their mobilized and politically active group of supporters." The implication is that the pro-gun lobby is something like the hospital lobby, which just hired the former Obama administration head of the Center of Medical Services as its president.

But the NRA is different. It's a mass membership organization whose members have little or no financial stake in government gun policy. If it is "well-organized," well, there is nothing sinister about that. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to petition the government for redress of grievances and it applies to groups of citizens that are well-organized as well as to those that are not.