"“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.”
In "The Second Amendment: A History", Michael Waldman quotes that statement from Abraham Lincoln by way of explaining that judges, even Supreme Court justices, are not much different from politicians when it comes to public opinion: It informs, even where it does not direct, their actions and decisions.
The Supreme Court only got around to affirming the individual’s right to gun ownership in 2008—by then the court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller was more or less in line with public opinion, which itself had changed markedly over time, thanks largely to a two-pronged propaganda blitz by the National Rifle Association and the equally vociferous arguments of conservative legal "scholars".
In 1959, a Gallup poll reported that 60 percent of Americans favored banning handguns; by 2012, that figure had dropped to 24 percent. Waldman is not cynically suggesting that the Supreme Court is a slave to public opinion. Rather, he is pointing out what should be obvious but is too often ignored: The court does not operate in a vacuum. Our view of the Second Amendment, he writes, “is set at every stage [of the nation’s history], NOT BY A PRISTINE CONSTITUTIONAL TEXT , but by the push-and-pull, the rough-and-tumble of political advocacy and public agitation.”
I rest my case