Referring again to the discussion thread previously, and over at Weer’d World, and Common Gunsense, in regards to compromise: I think it’s important to understand the nature of compromise to know why it can’t really work even if we could find some. This is a topic I’ve covered before, or at least I feel like I have, but it’s worth renewing the conversation, I think.
You have to start with the base assumption that neither side wants to give up anything. This is a true state. We’d obviously just like to get, say, suppressors deregulated, without having to give up anything. Our opponents, meanwhile, would love to pass, say, a ban on all private transfers of firearms, without having to give up anything. The art of compromise is figuring out what’s most important to you, and seeing if you can trade something you don’t care that much about for something you do. If what you don’t care so much about is something your opponent values highly, then a deal can be struck, especially if what they are giving up is something important to you. In that case a deal is quite likely. The problem is that doesn’t happen too often.
One of the rare cases of something that was at least somewhat close to a true, brokered compromise was HR 2640, where we agreed to funding to improve state reporting to NICS for mental health, in exchange for some important easing of the prohibited persons laws, especially as it applied to people adjudicated of mental illness. The Bradys, in my opinion, actually gave up more in that deal than we did, because what was really important to them at the time was being able to tout a legislative victory. But if Brady could have rammed that bill through without making any concessions, it surely would have.
Most of the time compromise happens through struggle rather than agreement. You start with what you really want, which may not have the votes to pass, and then agree to change it to something less than that to pick up votes. If you’re still looking at improvement once you get to a majority, you have something that can pass. This happens on both sides. HR822 today does not go as far as the effort in the Senate a few years ago. That’s because the Senate effort failed by a few votes, so you need to make changes to pick up the extra votes. On the other side, the Assault Weapons Ban never would have had a sunset provision in it if it wasn’t necessary for our opponents to concede that to pick up needed votes for passage.
So any collaborative effort of a democratic nature is going to tend to, by the nature of the beast, be a compromise. It won’t be something forged on blogs, or by discussion between the sides. It’ll happen through the political process of either trying to pass or defeat a piece of legislation. Both sides will struggle for their own interests, and through lobbyists, will do what they need to achieve a victory, and to scuttle the other side’s best laid plans. The Brady folks don’t want to compromise, and neither do we. That’s why we’ll never be marching, hand in hand to Congress, embracing us each giving up something.