How Conservatives Are Winning Drastic Change on Abortion and Guns, One State at a Time | Opinion

Parts of America are changing, with new conservative laws brewing on guns and abortion. These laws, enacted on the state level, could ultimately end up in a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court, delivering dramatic impact nationally. Yet barely anybody has noticed the movement as a whole beyond individual state impact.

It is a brilliant strategy that has caught many off-guard while Donald Trump distracts them. Much like the box-and-one defense was to basketball when it first arrived, conservatives are using an isolation tactic, designed to create smaller change that leads to a more significant victory. In other words, while the fixation on Trump and unwinnable fringe wars rage, conservative operatives are busy getting gun laws and abortion laws changed in several states -- a sort of grassroots rising.

And it is working. This effective, back-to-values strategy focuses on the core of conservatism including guns (Second Amendment) and abortion in states including Michigan, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.

State lawmakers are making the push, backed by the type of lobbying power that used to get things done in Washington. But amid the kind of finger-pointing gridlock that has struggled to get adequate federal funding for the Florida panhandle in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Michael, the box-and-one is working across multiple states this legislative season.

Consider gun law as an example. While the federal battle rages and shooting deaths add up, we get little political movement in either direction amid a bipartisan stalemate. In Michigan, however, Republicans have been busy this session moving toward newly relaxed gun laws, expanding gun owner carry rights and erasing long-standing regulations across the state.

For instance, under proposed new laws Michigan gun owners could carry concealed weapons without a license or training, and gun licensees could carry loaded weapons into gun-free zones. The bills are among "a general grouping from Republicans looking to expand gun rights and peel back regulations," according to "The caucus named protecting Second Amendment rights as one of its top priorities this session."

For decades, gun lobbyists have tried to get Michigan's concealed carry permit erased to no avail, failing to get the needed legislative focus. But something changed this year as loose efforts became a focused strategy. It's the same thing happening in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi regarding abortion laws. These conservative states have long been ripe for stricter abortion law because one swift political push swiftly gets them up, up and on their way away.

They've just not focused momentum with an eye on the more significant result – the Supreme Court -- until now. Buoyed by hopes that Republican Donald Trump's Supreme Court appointments will give the needed conservatism to address these new state laws in their favor once elevated in a legal battle, conservatives have gotten smarter and more organized on the offensive, one key state after another.

That's why in Alabama the House passed a bill last week that would make it a crime for physicians to perform abortions at any stage of pregnancy unless a woman's life is threatened. If it ultimately becomes law – it is reportedly highly likely -- the sponsor makes no apology of how and where she hopes it will end.

Rep. Terri Collins, of Decatur, said she is aiming for the highest court in America.

"I hear it has a good chance," of getting to the Supreme Court, Collins told ABC News. "We've had a lot of the pro-life lobbyists working on it. We have a lot of national groups working on it."

That's exactly what just happened in Georgia this week when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill to ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected. The American Civil Liberties Union says it will challenge this new law in court.

And, that's exactly how strategic conservatives hoped it would go.

David Magee, Managing Editor of U.S. Operations, is a former publisher of The Oxford (MS) Eagle daily newspaper, vice president at Alabama Media Group (, and publisher of Birmingham magazine. He is the author of a dozen non-fiction books, including How Toyota Became #1 (Penguin) and profiles of John Deere, Bill Ford Jr., and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.