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Helping Gun Grabbers Write Better Legislation

I think we might be helping the other side write better legislation. I’m just as guilty of this too, and likely one of the biggest offenders, but I’m hard pressed to not notice that every magazine ban proposed doesn’t have the obvious flaws we pointed out in previous bans. They’ve also learned not to ban this. Previous magazine bans proposed in the Congress and in some State Capitols were so broad they covered things like tube fed .22s and lever action rifles, which commonly hold more than 10 rounds. What’s worse is that we made these arguments on bills that weren’t going to go anywhere, and weren’t going anywhere. All that was accomplished was teaching the other side how to write better legislation so that now, some very effective arguments against the current bills are off the table. It’s making me think.

I will continue to do reporting on bills that have legs, and offer legislative analysis. But for bills that aren’t going anywhere, I’m really going to have to think twice about tearing apart the flaws, because the next bill, one that might start to move, won’t have those flaws, and I scuttled those arguments for no gain. Gun owners today are much harder to divide than they have been in the past, but it definitely helps when you can point out to someone, say, in the cowboy shooting community that it is in fact your guns they are after. People are always going to be more fired up when they are directly affected than when it’s the other guy who’s ox is getting gored, even if they still oppose what’s happening. I will try to think carefully from now on about what I’m saying.

24 Responses to “Helping Gun Grabbers Write Better Legislation”

  1. Alien says:

    Sebastian, I understand the angst, but will disagree: Is it possible to be slightly pregnant?

    I think it’s past time for us to review proposed legislation with the the simple view “does it or does it not infringe?” If it does, then full court press, take no prisoners, etc. to defeat it. Should be an easy decision, since almost everything the other side proposes does constitute an infringement. And, there is no such thing as a “slight infringement.”

    Either we’re pregnant or we’re not. It’s completely binary, make our response dependent upon that. Whatever discussion we have that offers aid and comfort to the enemy – and make no mistake, the other side is the enemy – we fall into their trap. When we try to talk in code so we don’t give them information they can use against us we’re playing their game.

    It is, or it isn’t. Act accordingly, and offer no quarter.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying. I’m saying that it’s bad tactics to tear apart a bill that has no chance of passing, only to help your opponents write a better bill (from their point of view), thus shutting down some very effective arguments that can be use to mobilize our people when an anti-gun bill really does get legs and start moving.

    • Ko I says:

      Well, we also need to stop acting like the opposition is The Enemy. That is the rallying cry of politicians and organizations who pretend to support our rights, but are really just out to make money off of our outrage, and stoke our outrage to increase their income.

      Are they wrong? Yes. Are they out to violate our human rights? Yes. The average citizen that is opposed to gun rights isn’t doing it to pave the way for the Fourth Reich. They’re honestly doing it with the best of intentions, naive as those intentions may be.

      Politicians, on both sides, are exploiting this subject. “Anti-gun” politicians are pandering to their constituency, and write laws that only worsen the issue so that their constituency, seeing an ever increasing need for someone who will “do something about gun crime,” will re-elect them. “Pro-gun” politicians would have less value if there wasn’t gun control hanging over people’s heads, so they’ll never actually try to eliminate it.

  2. Bill R. says:

    The rules of engagement have changed. Before we could attempt to have rational discussions because most people believed the other side was genuine and honest with they wanted to do. Now it should be completely obvious that they are out to destroy the 2nd Amendment outright.

    We can’t give an inch and really must go on the offense at some point to get our rights back if want to have a chance.

  3. Andy B. says:

    This is somewhat related to my observation in other recent threads that we should not communicate too much in our letters to legislators, lest we educate them how best to get around us.

    I’ll also again reference my old essay, “Educating the Enemy,” which I cite now not only out of vanity, but also because this is one of the rare times that I can document that I was saying something, a long time ago.

  4. Scott Connors says:

    This is a problem that we’ve had to face in California. It turns out that antigun legislators have been trawling Calguns and other forums for discussions of proposed legislation, then fixing flaws or weaknesses in their legislation that they learned about from these postings. We need to remember that not everyone who reads blogs like these is on our side. We monitors the antis’ sites for intelligence, we need to expect that they do the same. “Loose lips sink ships.”

  5. Tom says:

    I encourage any anti rights fanatic I speak with to pursue his argument to its logical conclusions, which is the complete disarming of American citizens. The more these people reveal themselves, the more the public understands the extremity of their beliefs. I really don’t think I can change any of their minds, so I just try to get them to self-destruct.

  6. Robert says:

    ‘Without Infringement.” Even well-written legislation is bad legislation. Recognize it for what it is: an attack on our liberties.

  7. Sean says:

    Paranoid. You have valuable analysis skills and are helping to educate us. This reasoning is flawed, and may lull you into complacency on the issues.

    In the prepping community, there are some who are against vegetable gardens, as it would “make them a target” during SHTF.

    Guess what, in the meantime they get to eat fresh healthy vegetables.

    • Peter Hamm says:

      I agree with Sean, Sebastian. This is America. You can be against something, but you can’t expect to be taken seriously if you refuse to say why something is a bad idea simply because it might lead to a better idea. Or eventually, people might think that your cause is absolutist, narrow-minded, paranoid and not really interested in having a meaningful dialogue. As if.

      • Sebastian says:

        Why would I want to give away information that will help your side avoid pitfalls? Keep in mind my position is that bans get fought with the utmost ferocity. You’ve gotten all the bans you’re going to get. I’m not sure why I’d want to help your side not make mistakes that help me expand my coalition to oppose it. So really, the answer is I don’t think a narrower ban is a “better idea.”

      • Andy B. says:

        Here’s the reason why a gun control measure is a bad idea: Because we are going to vote out any legislator that supports it. Case and discussion closed.

        To steer the “debate” in the legislatures, that is all they know on earth, and all that they need to know, to see the merits of our position.

        • Peter Hamm says:

          Andy, I would agree with you that that is what your side has been capable of doing for quite some time. I’m a cynic on whether or not this time is different and whether any meaningful legislative package can be passed. But the very nature of political discourse in America is that the dynamics shift. When this dynamic shifts, whether now or whenever, then the “accept nothing” strategy that the gun rights side is now employing successfully will be like carrying a cinder block in the water. Honestly not trying to start a row here, just offering food for thought. I’m out of the issue.

          • Andy B. says:

            Peter: Please understand that I state what I do objectively; as an extremely amateur Machiavelli. I.e., “You wanna win, here’s what you gotta do.”

            Actually I am in favor of not only being obstructionist to new laws, but to rolling back the old ones. That needs to be placed on the table. What that has been done before, that demonstrably accomplished nothing, should be repealed?

  8. m11_9 says:

    I was just buying two gun raffle tickets from a Legionnaire, and it made me think of this post.

    The guy says (we are in IL), “You need a FOID card and it will be registered to you in Springfield.” I say “They don’t register guns, they register gun owners here, but they don’t really know what you own.” He says: “That’s whats wrong, they should know everything you have.”

    Obviously this discussion is going nowhere at this point. I consider him a friend, so not going to get too deep into it and argue gun policy. But this guy thought that we have full registration now.

    I guess I should not have corrected him, now he knows that the gun laws here are not strict enough for his views.

    There are a lot of under-informed people out there, they vote, and I don’t know whether keeping them in ignorance gets me a few more years of gun freedom or not.

  9. JeffS says:

    Well, someone will tear the bill apart, if not during legislation, then during litigation.

    But, yeah, you are correct. Play against a good chess player long enough, you’ll get better.

    An alternate approach is to question their assumptions, studies, and facts. Or to compare the proposed bill to the current state of affairs in other states.

    In the end, though, there’s little choice in any sort of “civil” discourse. You’ll just have to be careful about what to say when, and to whom.

  10. Glen says:

    More than a few gun rights proponents subscribe to the notion that one of our most effective weapons is the ignorance of the gun controllers. This notion is then used to squash discussion about pending legislation, in the hopes that if any bills pass, they will be bad ones that can be circumvented.

    Well, that’s crap. And everyone should know it.

    We live is a free society where information is freer than ever. There may have been a time in the past when this was a legitimate tactic, but those days are long gone. Today, any marginally competent legislative aide can find whatever information they need to draft ironclad laws without resorting to “anonymous trolling” on gun boards.

    There’s also a very dangerous side to squashing discussion: in California, the leaders of the Calguns Foundation and the Calguns.net website have instituted a cult of so-called “operational security” that not only censors technical discussions but also shuts-down policy debates. Questions or complaints about tactics or strategies are rebutted with the admonishment that any disclosure will reveal sensitive information damaging to the cause of gun rights and civil liberties. Their approach could be summarized as, “Shut up – we’re winning.”

    Needless to say, previous civil rights campaigns never relied on censorship. Nor did they succeed because of secrecy. And self-selected individuals planning and implementing strategies behind closed doors didn’t win them, either. Instead, these earlier efforts relied upon broad principles that enjoyed majority support and tactics that could be easily explained to any concerned citizen. They succeeded when millions of individuals chose to work together with each other, collaborating to achieve liberty for all.

    One of the most powerful aspects of the Internet is its capability to foster collaboration. Rather than succumb to reactionary thinking, we should harness the power of millions of individuals to secure our constitutional rights to armed self-defense.

    • jake says:

      well said (and well written) Glen. How awesome are your posters Sebastian?

    • Sebastian says:

      Well, to be fair, the censorship I’m speaking of is self-censorship. I’m not going to forcibly shut anyone else up. This post actually didn’t come out of thin air. I’ve had discussions about this with lobbyists. You’d be surprised by how bad the legislative aides of anti-gun politicians really are. Most urban legislators don’t have staff composed of gun nuts. They don’t really know anything about the subject they want to regulate. So I do think there’s something to be said for thinking twice about whether you’re helping improve your enemy’s knowledge.

      • Glen says:

        As civil libertarians and defenders of the Second Amendment, most of us are familiar with our opponent’s calls to impose as much gun control as necessary if it “could save just one life.” We passionately argue that the benefits of civilian firearm possession outweigh the costs, and accuse gun controllers of ignoring the unseen or unintended consequences (from Frédéric Bastiat and the Parable of the Broken Window).

        Let’s not lose sight of our principles simply because we imagine a short-term tactical advantage. What are the costs of stifling discussion? And dissent?

        Also, most legislative aides are no doubt woefully ignorant about guns. But there’s little that a dedicated person cannot learn today from available open sources. Hoping to keep our opponents ignorant by suppressing our own discussion is a tactic of the past.

        • Alien says:

          I’ll go with Glen on this. Given the absolute ignorance about guns on the anti-gun side, and the passions the ignorant can excite, we have just as much chance of a very stupid anti-gun bill being introduced, or passed, as a very intelligent one.

          Principles are principles. Either the unalienable rights of American are respected or they are not. The end result of stupid or intelligent anti-gun legislation is the same: we have to fight for our rights, and we’ll wind up in court to do so, at our expense.

          The more we know the more we can combat the enemy, and make no mistake, anti-gun proponents, in or out of government, are the enemy of the American people; you may think those who seek to eliminate our rights are just misguided, and perhaps they are, but they are also our enemies.

          We will not defeat our enemies with secrets, as Calguns is doing, or by restricting access to information. Bottom line is, we’re right, they’re wrong, and with facts and the truth – and a lot of time and money – we’ll prove it.

  11. jake says:

    without putting too fine a point on it, there’s no way we can make solid arguments without someone trying to consider the counterargument, and it’s really only a temporal consideration on some level I think. this fight has been going on for decades, and is not going to hinge on a sun-tzu strategy by gun bloggers of choosing the ground on which to face the enemy (at least that’s my opinion). I hear what you’re saying, we’re waisting ammunition (as it were) on ineffectual legislation, but this is a protracted battle of ideas. additionally, you can second guess anything. e.g. maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t fight everything tooth and nail? if we’re relying on the outrage of SASS shooters to push us over (which we’re certainly not, they should be and likely are on our side as it is) on future legislation, then the battle is lost eventually anyway.
    i say keep up the good work on tearing apart everything. eventually they’ll hone and hone their legislation to ineffectual legislation, like where it came from and like the people who draft it. i’m thinking we’ll stop fighting at exclusion of felons and adjuticated mentally defectives from buying firearms only… oh wait…

  12. dustydog says:

    In Maryland, the definition of weapon: “.04 Weapons.

    A. Definition. In this regulation, “weapon” means:

    (1) A device capable of propelling a projectile at high velocity by mechanical means, by explosion, or by expanding gas, including but not limited to a firearm, crossbow, or longbow”

    This definition of weapon includes nerf guns, squirt guns, and garden hoses (I guess a power washer would be an assault weapon).

    The definition of firearm is supposedly “Public Safety Article, §5-101, Annotated Code of Maryland” but I can’t find that actual document on their website.

    One tactic would be to include everyday items into the definition of the items to be banned, and get the law overturned. Maybe define magazine as “any container, holder, pouch, concavity or convex surface with an opening less than 6 inches in any dimension, regardless of material or use”, and then sue because children have mouths smaller than that.

    The assault weapon bans like to list specific guns, and then include clones and look-alikes. If the language clearly included human hands, because a hand can be quickly made to look like a gun without any machining – lawsuit.

    Maybe ban ‘any item which has historically been confused with a firearm based on likeness or coloring’, and then point out that this is a ban on wallet and cell phones. And black people’s hands.

    Language describing the functioning of a firing pin could sneak in language banning spark plugs.

    “No computer system or program shall be sold or licensed which does not prevent unintentional discharge of a firearm” bans computers, music and movies.

    On the one hand, I’m sure smarter people can come up with better language than me. On the other hand, the GOP is the stupid party.

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