My Take on the SNBI Thing

I’ve avoided the debate up until now, but I figure it’s probably time to say something.  I haven’t had too much liking for the pejorative, but I obviously have sympathies to the argument that lies behind it, which is that it’s not accomplishing much if you don’t develop a serious, well thought out strategy for promoting you particular view of what the Second Amendment means.  Kevin Baker says, in the comments over at Uncle’s:

Well, from what I’ve read voting is useless, the courts are useless, and anything other than “SNBI!!!!” is for pussies in public discussion, so trying to convince the (reachable) General Public with anything other than “SNBI!!” is useless. Final arbiters abound.

The only useful thing seems to be Physical Training, militia drills, and collecting ammunition, MREs and barter goods for “the Time.”

I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is the way it appears.

I don’t think it’s harsh.  Either politics is still a worthwhile endeavor, or we’re hopelessly off the rails and it’s time to start a revolution.  You don’t get to sit on the sidelines and claim “Oh, but we’re preparing for revolution, and the rest of you guys are just a bunch of cheese dicks.”

I won’t claim to know for certain that the political process will end up exactly where we want it, but it’s a far better path forward than preparing for revolution, and writing off the process that could avoid it having to come to that.  The outcome of the political struggle is most decidedly uncertain, but it is far less uncertain than revolution.

And for those who claim they aren’t writing off the political process, then what are you doing to influence it?  What anti-gun legislators have you identified, and are working toward defeating?  Are you supporting pro-gun candidates for public office?  From a lot of the hard core folks, I have to admit, I see a lot of bitching and moaning, but precious little action.

I took up the role as a volunteer in my district because my Congressman signed on to McCarthy’s assault weapons ban.  That was enough for me to put aside whatever differences I had with the Republican Party and sign up to help defeat him, or at least make him pay attention to gun owners concerns, and treat them seriously. I don’t care if the guy running against my congress critter isn’t a perfect picture of shall not be infringed, as long as he’s an improvement.  The message to politicians is, “Poke the bear, and he’ll bite you.”  Sometimes that’s all it takes.

I understand the desire not to compromise one’s beliefs. I wasn’t involved through much of my 20s because of the mind sickness that the absolute righteousness of the Libertarian movement infects people with.  No compromise, no way.  Except that compromise is what politics is about.  Almost every interest is a minority interest.  Take any issue, and you will have a hard time finding a majority, but you can often find a majority in coalition with other issues.

My challenge to the hard liners isn’t necessarily to stop being hard liners.  I think that can provide a useful vehicle for getting people who are currently disaffected back into the being active in the movement.  But what is the next step after getting them interested?  After making them realize that there are others out there who think as they do?  Is it to make them more angry?  To convince them that it really is just all hopeless, and they better start digging out the machine gun nests now?

Or is it to get involved?  Some of the more hard liners are legitimately trying to go this route, and that’s positive.  We may not always agree on candidates, we may not always agree on methods of participation, but we can agree on some things, and that’s often enough.  I can work with someone who can’t vote for McCain, but who might be willing to point out to other gun owners that Obama would essentially ban guns in the United States.  I wouldn’t suggest to both sides “Can’t we all just get along?”  Because the answer, if we’re really honest, is no.  But there’s no reason we can’t work together on common goals when our political interests align, which probably happens more often than it doesn’t.  The real question is, what are we all willing to work toward?  More anger, or more political progress?  November is fast approaching.

17 thoughts on “My Take on the SNBI Thing”

  1. I can’t help wondering how many of these “SNBI! To the barricades!” types have EVER called, written or E-mailed their representatives. Would it not be worth a trip down to the gallery of OUR Capitol Building in D.C. to voice dissatisfaction before attempting what has to be a far more difficult job (i.e. ditching our government and starting a new one)? I believe that the vast majority of these people would NEVER rouse themselves from behind their computers to actually DO anything…they would expect others to do it…and THAT problem (the worst of those our government has created) must be fixed before anything else happens – within or without the system. -JW

  2. I’ve seen this sort of apathy first hand. While recruiting and promoting new gun bill here in Georgia, which by the way passed. A fella came by to let us know how the Good ol’Boys under the Gold Dome will never allow it to pass, there for why bother. I stood there, idle listening to him bitch and moan, yet not willing to do anything about it. I would love to meet up with him again, just to see if his disposition and apathy have changed. Personally I doubt it, but one can never tell. In short, you can either sit on the side lines or join the game. If you choose the former over the latter, please either cheer us on, or shut the fuck up.

  3. Whether Baker was “harsh” or not isn’t important to me. If, as members of a despised minority (and lately, it seems that folks on my side of this issue are a despised minority of a despised minority), we’re too thin-skinned to deal with a little “harshness,” it’s probably time to pack it in.

    I do think Baker is an efficient toppler of straw men. I challenge him to find one case of the people whose efforts he so disparages saying “SNBI!!!!!” (or with even one exclamation point). If any of us have referred to anyone involved in this argument as “pussies,” I must have missed that, too.

    As for our efforts on the political front, I don’t think I (or anyone else) owes anyone an accounting of those efforts, but I’ve worked damned hard in gun rights politics in Illinois, and I sometimes even flatter myself with thoughts that my efforts have made some small difference. Anyone for whom that’s not good enough–long walk; short pier–figure it out.

  4. I’ve seen this sort of apathy first hand. While recruiting and promoting new gun bill here in Georgia, which by the way passed. A fella came by to let us know how the Good ol’Boys under the Gold Dome will never allow it to pass, there for why bother. I stood there, idle listening to him bitch and moan, yet not willing to do anything about it.

    That’s exactly the kind of thing I speak of, and the attitude is definitely out there. I wish I could say it’s rare, but it’s not.

  5. Kurt,

    I agree with Uncle that no one despises you. I think what Kevin meant isn’t that someone is literally going up to someone’s face and shouting “Shall not be infringed!!” so much as the argument that if we’re just loud enough, or angry enough, or say it with enough force, that politicians and judges are going to listen. The fact is, they aren’t. Few others will too.

    I’ll use the example from my local congressional district. I have not vetted Tom Manion, who is the Republican candidate, to assess his purity on the gun issue. My only real concern is that he’s mostly with us, which he appears to be. But I have no issue railing against Murphy, and helping Manion replace him. The message I want to send so politicians in my district is “Sponsor gun bans, and you’ll piss off enough gun owners to lose your seat.” Even if I don’t defeat Murphy, if it’s closer than he thinks it should be, it might be enough to give him pause. In fact, he’s been signing pro-gun bills for cover for the past several weeks. That’s not a reverse course, but it’s a sign he’s worried, and I don’t intent to relent.

  6. My comment on the Georgia guy: He’s the only one you met like that? Work enough gun shows and you’ll find about 4 in 10 gun owners are that way. Of the remaining six, five are just too polite to say it and will pretend to take action because they feel sorry for you. :)

  7. I am capable of a more nuanced message, you know. True, I don’t make much effort to hide the strength of my convictions when writing a gun blog, or commenting on one, because that’s one place I thought I could express my positions without the world coming to an end.

    When I communicate with elected officials, and I do quite a lot of that at the state level, my approach is considerably different.

    I am, in short, not disputing the assertion that saying “shall not be infringed” isn’t by itself going to defeat the epidemic of gun laws, but I don’t think anyone is claiming that it will.

  8. Kind of like the christian debate of a pre or post Trib rapture…. (or no rapture for some). But I used to put the debate this way. You should expect a pre-Trib rapture but be prepared for a post-Trib.

    My views are the same, I would love to see America return to it’s founding principles. A free moral society with protected rights, and one right to protect all others. A society not taxed to death. Etc.

    I would love to see that return occur through peaceful and political means. However, at the same time. We need to be individually prepared to prevent a similar path as happened to Germany and Russian in the mid-1900’s.

    So my thoughts are buy your guns, ammo, gold, silver, copper jacketed lead, food, water, MRE’s, vitamins, etc.

    But vote, speak, stand publicly, share your thoughts, vote, speak, share your thoughts. Pacifism is a noble concept but foolish in most cases. That said, we should desire peace over conflict.

    Remembering that our founding fathers pledged their lives, and their fortunes. And many gave that up. Look to your wives, your sons and your daughters. Are you ready to give them up? Would you give them up…

    To give up such precious objects one truly needs a hope that something better will be formed and a fear that something much worse is upon it’s way.

    – The Saj

  9. Bitter, no he is just the one that stands out the most prevalant. I have met plenty of these folks who complain about guns laws, or anything for that matter.

  10. Wee, another round of pragmatism v. confrontational-ism for the Brady Bunch to farm for quotes from both sides which will be taken out of context in order to scare the proverbial white people.

    /makes some popcorn

  11. Sounds like a good opportunity to use the old good cop/bad. Deal with my moderate demands and I’ll see what I can do about my partner.
    I am not sure how long I can hold him back. You gotta give me something to work with here….

  12. I’ve made that very point in the past, Vinnie–although I didn’t state it as well as you did.

    We don’t have to choose between a “moderate” message on one hand, and a “hard core” one on the other (with both “pragmatic” and “SNBI” having both gained negative connotations, depending on to whom one is talking, I changed the terminology a bit–but the meaning is the same).

    If both messages are delivered, they can complement one another, rather than compete.

  13. I wouldn’t discount the value of the good cop/bad cop routine. You might find me playing that angle more often if we start having to retreat again.

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