The End Zone

Joe Huffman noted my explanation of an “endzone” analogy in my post yesterday about being taken seriously, and notes that we might be pretty close to getting there:

I find it telling that no mention of any anti-gun organization is made. When 54 percent of those surveyed have a favorable view of the NRA what percentage could possibly have a favorable view of the Brady Campaign? And what percentage has even heard of the Violence Policy Center or Coalition to Stop Gun Violence?

For those that don’t read comments, my definition of endzone was, when we get our opponents to the point that they are no longer at all relevant in the public debate, and are unable to seriously influence public policy. I think we’re heading in the right direction, but I don’t think we’re all that close, for a couple of reasons:

  • Our opponents still have plenty of allies in traditional media that are willing to raise awareness of their issue.
  • Our opponents still have plenty of politicians that are willing to be leaders on their issue, though their old die hards are getting up there. Lautenberg is so old he’s starting to fossilize on the Senate floor.
  • Our opponents mine tragedy for political gain, and the law of averages says there will eventually be one they can be successful at exploiting if they can hold on long enough. Assassinations and murder of public officials or high profile celebrities are among the kind of tragedy they are particularly prone to exploiting.

Even if our opponents strongest leaders retire and are replaced by new leadership that don’t have enthusiasm for gun control, and the media collapses or loses interest in the subject, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to buy a submachine gun, cash and carry, at the local Home Depot, for a couple of reasons:

  • The vast majority of the public, including gun owners, do not support legal machine gun ownership.
  • The vast majority of the public, including gun owners, support background checks.
  • The vast majority of gun owners only understand gun ownership in a very broad sense. There is a lot of rational political ignorance among gun owners, even when it comes to firearms public policy.
  • Politicians are going to be wary of enacting laws that to a majority of voters, are going to seem extreme. Politicians mostly care about getting re-elected.

I would even wager this would apply to a majority of NRA members as well. Most gun owner organizations have a small number of people who are remarkably dedicated, but the vast majority pay their dues, read their magazines or other literature. Many do not even vote regularly. These are people who are willing to rise when there’s real danger, but they are not day to day allies, and you generally won’t get anything out of them unless our backs are to the wall.

The people reading this blog are actually quite remarkable within the firearms community, because you pay attention and care enough about the issue to read regularly, semi-regularly, or at least be reasonably informed about what’s going on. Ilya Somin’s writings on rational political ignorance apply every bit as much to gun owners as they do any other group of people. The vast majority of gun owners are rationally ignorant about the debate on firearms policy and gun control that’s raging on around them.

Just looking at NRA members as a more engaged subset of gun owners, if I had to wager, based on what I understand from polling data various people have done, your average NRA member doesn’t much like the idea of banning guns (that are not machine guns), and is generally with us on most of the contemporary issues in that regards. They don’t want government to make it difficult or impossible to buy guns and ammunition, or generally make gun ownership a hassle for the law abiding. They also, by and large, support right-to-carry laws.

But when you get to specific policy they are relatively ignorant. They don’t really understand our guns laws. They don’t understand NFA issues. They don’t understand the private sale issue. They definitely don’t understand the “terror watch list” issue. In fact, if you look at the history of gun control, our opponents have only been successful when they either manage to confuse gun owners into inaction (in the case of assault weapons bans in the 90s, cop killer bullets, etc) or win their outright support (background checks).

Boiled down to the essence, the equation is simple really: most people don’t want gun control that will affect them. Legalize suppressors? Most gun owners, even NRA members, don’t have them, have no experience with them, and don’t understand why they need to be legal. Even if they wouldn’t complain if they were legal, it’s outside their current experience as gun owners. Same for machine guns. Same for SBRs and SBSs. These are just not issues they understand or care about. Some gun owners and NRA members are outright hostile to the idea of legalized machine guns as suppressors, which was evident when NRA posted on their Facebook about gaining ground on suppressor use, when a minority of FB followers of NRA protested.

In conclusion, even if we eliminate our opponents from the public debate and political sphere, we are still our own worst enemies. Some my respond that this is why we can’t rely on NRA, but they are what we have. There is no pool out there of 4 million gun owners champing at the bit to legalize machine guns and suppressors. GOA has minuscule membership in comparison. NAGR and JPFO even less. SAF has many, but doesn’t participate in politics, and is highly unlikely to be able to do much against the NFA in court any time soon. You have to make the most out of what you have to work this, and this is reality. We can still accomplish much, but miracles require more gun owners on board with the program, and at least being educated, voting and communicating with lawmakers. This is not the end zone, it is merely the beginning of the end zone.

43 thoughts on “The End Zone”

  1. I don’t think this analogy works. “This is not the end zone, it is merely the beginning of the end zone.” The end zone is the end zone, there is element of being farther along in the end zone that means anything. You score or you don’t.

    From Wikipedia: “A team scores a touchdown by entering its opponent’s end zone while carrying the ball or catching the ball while being within the end zone. If the ball is carried by an offensive player across the goal line, it is considered a score as soon as the ball crosses the imaginary vertical plane of the goal line…”

    Perhaps a different sport? Or not sports at all?

  2. The “beginning of the end zone” is more properly “the red zone”*; we have our opponents back on their own goal line and we’ve got possession.

    Or maybe we should use Calvinball analogies? ;)

    So Sebastian, you’re saying that for things like NFA items and such we should actually take the time to educate our friends, family and other shooters on a personal basis and engage in a positive tone with our political leadership?

    Things like taking folks to the range, maybe shelling out the cash if we have it and getting a suppressor and showing what a nice safety device it is?

    That’s starting to sound a lot like “work”.

    Ranting on the internet is so much easier.

    * The area between the 20-yard line and the goal line

  3. I see the possibility of getting Vermont like laws everywhere at the state level via the courts with perhaps some legislative help. Suppressors restrictions will probably require legislation but is still quite possible. SBRs and SBSs shouldn’t be particularly hard either.

    Machine guns and DDs will be tough. I could see the ’86 ban being lifted or at least changed via the courts. And in another 10 years, with the right people in power, the registration and tax requirements might go away too. What is the point of the LEO sign-off when we have NICS? The whole NFA dance will become particularly pointless if we get high inflation and $200 becomes the equivalent of todays $2, budget cuts are needed, and we have enough people in power to block that “tax” increase.

    Two major things have the potential to swing things our way on the tough items:

    1) Increasing the percentage of people owning guns. The more people that own guns the more likely that machine guns legalization will be seen as non-threatening.

    Keep taking new shooters to the range and make it fun.

    2) Budget cuts. If government simply doesn’t have enough money then programs that have no measurable value and little support from the public are likely to be cut. Even NICS could be chopped when it is repeatedly pointed out there is no measurable improvement in public safety due to it.

  4. NICS is forever and we should all accept it and get used to it and work to get carry permits to exempt us.

    The hughes amendment can die as a tack on to some bill with the right mix soon Federally. NFA can be modernized and if we couch those changes as “regulatory” – like moving supressors to AOW status and drop CLEO sig – the latter the ATF supports, then we can get a lot more of this.

    However we still have real work to do to just make it so that everyone can own and carry all non FA weapons. California/IL/MA/NJ are a veritable lawyers playground and it will take time…

    But it looks like we’ll have the irreparable harm standard so maybe it moves faster :)


  5. Beyond having fun on the range and philosophical reasons (our troops have them, so members of the militia out to be able to have them too) , I’ve never understood the point of machine gun fire. Indeed, during WWII, Switzerland did a lot to educate their militia citizens that it’s better to have six well-aimed shots, than 30 “spray-and-pray” shots.

    Having said that, Switzerland also issued fully-automatic rifles to their citizens. Still do, actually. Thus, there is something there about machine gun fire that I don’t understand.

    Even so, they should be legal!

  6. I see the possibility of getting Vermont like laws everywhere at the state level via the courts with perhaps some legislative help. Suppressors restrictions will probably require legislation but is still quite possible. SBRs and SBSs shouldn’t be particularly hard either.

    Machine guns and DDs will be tough.

    I think Constitutional Carry is doable, though some states are going to be tough. I think suppressors are doable too, but it’ll take time. I think machine guns are lost, absent a major sea change in public, legal, and political opinion. I’m afraid the time to fight for that was eighty years ago.

  7. Alpheus:

    Machine gun fire is generally useful either for mowing down massed troop formations, or as suppressing fire. The reason the body count in both our Civil War and World War I were so high is that technology had pushed weapons technology way ahead of tactics, and military commanders were still using mass troop formations, even into the machine gun era.

    Today it’s pretty much suppressing fire… keeping your enemy afraid and pinned down while your other troops can flank and move in for the kill. Heavy machine guns are also useful for just tearing the shit out of equipment.

    I think the reason we lost machine guns is that most people in America were interested in using guns for self-protection, and in the context of the 1920s and 1930s, when the movement to restrict machine guns gained the most steam, people weren’t really using machine guns commonly for self-protection. Under the Heller “common use” standard, that would put them outside of constitutional protection. Under the Miller standard, probably not. The Court did not explicitly overturn Miller so it’s still an open question.

    I tend to think machine guns should be protected, but nor do I think it’s a terrible burden on the effectiveness of the universal militia, which depends on numbers more than raw firepower. In the event our government started stuffing people into cattle cars, if you didn’t have a machine gun starting out, you’ll probably have one in a few days.

    What’s most important for the citizen militia isn’t necessarily full parity with a professional army, but parity with civil authorities (which we largely have), and an ability to make life difficult enough for a professional army that the cost of despotism becomes unacceptably high. It’s often noted by our opponents that modern armies have tanks and aircraft, but you can’t live in either. At some point people have to get out of them, and it’s at that point the odds even, and it doesn’t take a machine gun to make that happen.

  8. NICS is forever and we should all accept it and get used to it and work to get carry permits to exempt us.

    I agree with Gene on this, and have largely accepted background checks, and think they’ll be ruled constitutional. Reason being they are a relatively insignificant burden, which is about on part, I think with how effective they are.

    That is to say, for most criminals, they can get around the background check. The check will not stop them from becoming armed. It will stop a few dimwitted criminals, or impulsive or mentally incompetent people who are either too stupid, un-resourceful, or crazy to find a black market source. For most gun owners, it’s a trivial burden. For those in the system mistakenly, it’s a hassle, and for that reason perhaps it should be ruled unconstitutional. But I doubt it will be.

    The only way I see NICS getting tossed is if the government refuses to run it, or operates it in a haphazard manner, such that it becomes a significant burden.

  9. Remember what Professor Reynolds said at the lunch at Pittsburgh?

    “The courts will not go where the culture has not.” He gave the example of Bowers v. Hardwick compared to Larry v. Tejas. Same for politics.

    If we want NFA modification/reform/repeal then we (gun culture we) are going to have to get far more aggressive in demonstrating NFA weapons to make them cool and not frightening or unusual. Go out and preach, and shoot, among the heathen.

  10. If ID were required to purchase a firearms and all government issued ID had a “firearms endorsement” check box just like “corrective lens required” then NICS as we know it would fade away.

    My objection to NICS is that it is a firearm and firearm owner registration system in waiting. It would take relatively little to extend it to a database of firearms owners and all their purchases. I want it dismantled so that threat is not looming over us.

  11. “The only way I see NICS getting tossed is if the government refuses to run it, or operates it in a haphazard manner, such that it becomes a significant burden.”

    Or . . . we riddle it with exemptions, e.g. my collector’s license idear.

  12. “If ID were required to purchase a firearms and all government issued ID had a “firearms endorsement” check box just like “corrective lens required” then NICS as we know it would fade away.”

    You mean like how we buy ammo across state lines now? Yes, that would work.

    Or, the buyer’s affidavit that NRA tried to substitute in 1968.

  13. Joe:

    I agree with you. I’ve also heard the suggesting that plastering “Firearms Prohibited Person” on the state IDs of those convicted of disabling offenses, which I think I like better, since you can force a license re-issue with that stamp as soon as someone earns the conviction.

    In a constitutional framework where you could have a simple licensing regime, as you describe, or as I’ve described previously, you could actually effectively get universal background checks, as our opponents claim to want badly, without NICS. You would also eliminate the need for a lot of burdensome regulations, like restrictions on buying in-state vs. out of state, etc. It would also be possible to make the same license a license to carry as well.

    But licensing has been a taboo subject because there was always a completely justifiable fear that it would be used to discourage gun ownership, and to track gun owners. But I can think of ways of handling licensing that would be completely non-burdensome. Certainly less burdensome and problematic than now.

  14. There is no reason we can’t have machine guns. Public opinion does not count for nearly as much as most think when it comes to making legislative policy.

  15. “What’s most important for the citizen militia isn’t necessarily full parity with a professional army, but parity with civil authorities (which we largely have), and an ability to make life difficult enough for a professional army that the cost of despotism becomes unacceptably high.”

    Except that the civil authorities have more and more machine guns these days. If I could bring that to parity, I’m not sure which direction I’d choose. I think MGs should be protected arms, but if I could trade MG rights to undo the militarization of our police, I’d likely do it.

  16. NICS doesn’t -need- to have any gun info sent. Take that away and it isn’t really a registry at all. it would just be a database of prohibited persons that sellers could check at potential time of sale even if no purchase ends up being made.

    If you aren’t prohibited you potentially have a gun, so not being on the list isn’t really probitive of ownership. Sure some sort of sub-rosa data mining could occur when checks are made, but I don’t think that’s avoidable, in theory, with any system. Anyway, if you allow the checks without ever sending in whether the transaction occured the data set would be huge, at most you would know that some names get checked more often.

    The ID concept has the issue of getting back the “good guy” ID when someone becomes prohibited. What happens if they, when “good”, say they lost it and get a copy made then hide the original? When they get their disqualifying offense how do you prove you got -all- the “good” ID’s?

    Say they go down for a year, and their old DL is still current when they get out, so they use that to go back to the store.

    Sure its far-fetched but it is easy enough to not be simply dismissable against even neutral on the subject persons concerns.

    If you are going to screen purchases at all, and claim it can remotely work for such purchases, you have to do it at the POS every time.

  17. I could be wrong, but I don’t think NICS sends that information currently. The problem is, it doesn’t need to identify the gun. It knows who, when and where. All they have to do for the what is go to the shop and pull the 4473.

    But just having a record of how many guns someone bought is a problem, because in theory it lets them know how many guns to come confiscate, or which houses represent, essentially neighborhood arsenals. There could be legitimate reasons that this information could be useful to authorities, but the illegitimate uses of it are significant, and consequences quite dire.

  18. Gun owner unity is irrelevant. All that matters is effectiveness. Right now there isn’t an effective gun group pushing for machine guns.

  19. Why aren’t you pushing it in New York then? I think effectiveness relates directly to what gun owners think about it. When politicians notice distention in the ranks, on an issue that they know is going to make them look extreme to the average voter, they are going to bet on surviving whatever challenge you mount to their seat on that issue. Chances are they will probably win that bet if your people aren’t in line.

  20. Sebastian,

    When they do the NICS in my experience they call in and give my info over the phone as well as weapon type (long gun / handgun) and number.

    What I’m envisioning would be, type in name, DOB and SSN (I guess). No firearm info at all. If there is no match between my info and the list the sale can go through. There’d be no storage of the request unless it came back questioned.

    They’d have to set up an illegal data mine to even know how many checks of my info were made; but even then there’s no requirement there be a sale in the first place.

    I could have them run me every time I go into the store and it wouldn’t correlate with any number of guns actually purchased. If they broke the law to see how many checks I had, it would be in the tens of thousands with no gun info associated. If there were 4 million people doing the same the numbers would be functionally useless, they might as well get a copy of the NRA’s membership list for all the good it’d do them as a basis for search.

    The 4473 issue is valid but as long as there are 4473’s that is an issue with any system. If they got froggy they could go into every shop right now and start looking.

  21. If that is how you measure effectiveness, then explain how NRA is able to get their way with Congress when they do not by any measure represent the majority opinion of gun owners?

    As an aside, in the display used at our lobby day, in between the warm and fuzzy pictures of women and children with guns was one of me with a submachine gun.

  22. You’re looking at the machinegun issue from the wrong end.

    Who is going to fight – actually lobby and fight – AGAINST machineguns?

    Which interest group is invested in keeping them illegal?

  23. “Which interest group is invested in keeping them illegal?”

    I’d hate to say this, but the “Brady Bunch” and the “CSGV” are two such organizations. They currently have no voice right now, but there’s a small (or is it not-so-small?) chance that an attempt to legalize machine guns would certainly push their shrill-factor up a few notches. They may even gain some traction that they have lost!

    Which is why, if we were to attempt to push machine guns politically (either in courts or in legislatures), it *could* be dangerous. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, of course, but it’s best if we had public sentiment on our side, or had strategies to get it rather quickly.

  24. MG’s run up hard against the human impulse to ask “but why on earth do you NEED one”.

    Suppressors do too, but at least there’s an easy “cause they protect your ears and don’t annoy folks and doesn’t that make sense” practical argument right at hand.

    MG’s don’t have one of those, they go right to “because it’s my Right and I want one”.

    Which is not an argument that plays well on human nature.

    We are getting as far as we are because we have arguments beyond the strict “right’s basis” that can resonate with undecided or non-gun owners when presented calmly and rationally.

    If you have one of those for MG’s I’d like to hear it, particularly when we have been winning on “assault rifles” by pointing out they -aren’t- machine guns.

    We ourselves reinforced the “semi good / full auto bad” dichotomy in the larger attempt to prevent losing it all.

  25. @Sebastian: Thanks for helping me to understand machine guns better. Although I really would like to see them legalized, I won’t lose sleep over it! For now, at least…

  26. I think our best shorter-term “win” on full auto will be to get the list opened again.

    If the list opens prices will fall. If prices fall more folks will buy them, which will desensitize them to society at large, much like we’ve seen as EBRs have gotten more popular.

    SBR and SBS are not hard to justify, “It’s a rifle/shotgun like yours, just shorter. How does increasing the price change anything?”

    Suppressors we can push the hearing safety and noise issues to replace the, aging, “mob hitman” negatives in the public mind. To that end we already have a lot of positive media and games with suppressors in use by “good guys”.

  27. Which interest group is invested in keeping them illegal?

    A lot of NFA owners who won’t want to see their collections instant become nearly worthless, as s starter.

  28. MG’s don’t have one of those, they go right to “because it’s my Right and I want one”. <- Look at the original ads for machineguns made before 1934. They're aimed for civilians who planned to use them in self-defense.

    If we got to repealing the Hughes Amendment, and the prices came down, I bet the same phenomenon would return.

  29. Micro,

    I see ads for all kinds of non-real uses of products all the time.

    That’s marketing, in that case the manufacturers had military products they wanted to sell in a period right after the “War to end Wars”. So they marketed them primarily to law enforcement but also to civilians, note though that most of that civilian marketing was for use against Southwest bandits, auto bandits and criminal gangs in an era when your alternatives were handguns, bolt-actions and lever guns. Most of the ads weren’t set in suburbia.

    Try that tack with the PTA today and they will, quite justifiably, say, based on our own words, “Wait, I thought gangs are what you needed those semi-auto “assault rifles” with 30 round magazines for. NOW you want to “spray bullets” around my neighborhood with a machinegun?!?”

    Seriously, there are no professionals who are going to go on record as saying that a full auto is the best choice for any realistic civilian self-defense scenario. Particularly if you havbe access to a semi -EBR with aimed fire.

    MG’s are a “rights only” product in the really real world of America, particularly when you bring moral responsibility for misses into play.

  30. Moral responsibility for misses? Let’s see. The room I am in now has an external wall, which is concrete and is a full 15 inch thick. My internal walls are 5 inch thick at their thinnest. They’re part-concrete.

    I could shoot a submachinegun in this room and be vaguely-certain I won’t kill any neighbors. Certain enough that I’d risk it if my life were at stake.

    In addition – what do you think a PDW is if not a gun designed for use by a person with a limited amount of training, for personal defense?

  31. >A lot of NFA owners who won’t want to see their collections >instant become nearly worthless, as s starter.

    But wait! I was told this sentiment was mythical and actual NFA owners will happily do this ? HAS THE BLOGOSPHERE LIED TO ME?! :D

  32. Many NFA owners would gladly surrender the value of their collection for the right to buy more MGs. But not all. Many would not.

  33. Micro,

    I agree with you. It just won’t work in the real world.

    Anyway, none of the ads you.mention are in the basement, they are outside. Further, in the house a pdw has few advantages over a handgun, or in a room defense scenario a shorter shotgun or rifle.

  34. Matthew:

    Guns don’t work like this. In the sense that you cannot come up with a single definition of a self-defense firearm and say: “nobody needs anything but THIS”. Some people’s home-defense needs are best served by a rifle, others’ by a shotgun, others by a machinegun. But you already know this.

    Let me ask you this: If you were capable of purchasing either an AR-15 or an M16 made by the same manufacturer, ad the same price, which one would you choose? We both know the answer.

    Even at a $200 difference I suggest many people would choose the latter. This isn’t because people are stupid.

    An automatic weapon provides a firepower advantage over a semi-auto weapon. A slight one – they do not present the superweapons the antis believe in – but such an advantage does exist, and is best presented in the really, really close range.

  35. Of course, there have been incidents machineguns have been used, in self-defense, even in America. Gary Fadden is one that I know of, but far from the only one.

  36. Narrative of the Fadden incident (by Mas Ayoob) here.

    Note that one of the statements reported said by the decedent was “F*** you and your high powered rifle! I’m gonna kill you motherf***ers!”, this said after Fadden let loose a 9-rnd warning burst.

    I don’t know about you guys, but any assailant who is undeterred by a 9-rnd burst is not anyone I want to let anywhere near me, and no weapon short of my custom .50/105mm (a ’05 howitzer shell necked down to .50 cal firing a depleted uranium projectile)* is going to make me feel good about that encounter.

    My over-riding philosophy about things firearms-ey is ‘I’d rather have and not need, than need and not have.’

    *Peace through superior firepower :-)

  37. Re-opening the machinegun registery would help spur new development of small arms. Right now, MG improvements or new designs are nearly worthless- or a financial liability- since a person’s ability to actually sell it to anyone is vanishingly small.

    If the registry was re-opened, inventors could sell to NFA collectors, and earn enough to develop their product for eventual sale to the US military.

    Consider firearm suppressors- there are small groups making lots of new and improved products, because they can actually earn a living doing that.

    MG design? Not so much. Our troops pay the price for it and don’t even know it.

  38. Gun control and global warming are two issues which are failing intellectually but have constituencies which feed off them and keep pressing for more government intrusion into both areas.

    In CA, there are plenty of policians who are virulently anti-self-defense and they are working to do all they can to make owning firearms as expensive and difficult as possible. CA is out of step with the rest of the country, and proud of it.

    Interestingly, as the “science” supporting global warming has cratered, both federal and CA government are still moving ahead to implement the prescribed agenda. Perhaps it is being sped up in case the unwashed figure things out, so that a fait accompli can be presented. Look at a new car and the global warming rating stickers on them. A failed ideology which is very much alive, AGW.

    Similarly, the contortions of Rahm Emmanuel to maintain citizen disarmament in Chi is intellectually bankrupt and legally anachronistic, but he and his cadre continue, too clever by half in the range ban gambit.

    I think gun control is just one of those emotionally appealing things that makes some people feel safer in a chaotic world, or satisfies their busybody quotient…whatever. It, and loons who figure Elvis is actually running a moon colony, will be with us for a long time.

  39. Before Packetman provided a link, I had to google the Gary Fadden incident. In the process, I learned about the Harry Beckwith Incident, hat-tip to Say Uncle.

    The Fadden incident doesn’t quite convince me that machine guns are useful for self defense, but the Harry Beckwith incident does–complete with shooting up a potential getaway car, and supression fire. Incidentally, the only death in this particular case was caused by a round fired from an AR-15!

    So, yeah, now I’m convinced that machine guns have an important role to play in self defense.

  40. @Harry Schell, The gun control people are much worse off than the AGW people. They aren’t getting government grants. They have Supreme Court decisions that cut the heart out of their platform. They don’t have but a handful of politicians at the Federal level willing to carry their water. They only have one state willing to fight us on carrying guns in public.

    There is a threshold of public acceptance beyond which it is virtually impossible for a false idea to be revived. There are still people that believe in a flat earth, the moon landing was a hoax, and there was no Holocaust. But the beliefs of those people are irrelevant to our society.

    I believe the anti-gun supporters have dropped below the sustainability threshold in our country. I believe they are about as relevant to U.S. politics as the KKK was 50 years ago. In another 10 years or 20 years and we will just have bad memories and use past affiliation with them as smudges on the careers of politicians.

    I believe the AGW crowd is likely to have the same fate but it will take a decade or more to get them to where the anti-gun people are now. It is also possible the AGW movement will persist as some sort of cult religion for a century or more. But I doubt it. New generations typically challenge the accepted beliefs of their parents. And because they have little to loose by forming a different set of beliefs they tend to conform more closely to the facts. Unless there is coercion (including such things as repressed information in the education process) I expect the AGW cult will fade away in a generation or two. It is unrealistic to expect it to disappear in a half dozen years or less. Too many people in power have too much invested in that belief. See also the Newton physics versus relativity. It takes a generation to change the accepted beliefs even when the facts are clear.

    If a belief is undercut by irrefutable facts the believers may increase their proselyting (see When Prophecy Fails) and I think that is part of what we are seeing with the AGW crowd. But in the Internet age the conditions to sustain those beliefs is harder and harder to maintain.

    Long term I’m optimistic for the truth to rise above the superstition but it doesn’t happen in a year or three. It can take a generation to two. When we are plodding along in real time it is frustrating slow and it can be very difficult to see the progress being made until you do the comparisons with a decade scale rather than in regards to weeks or months.

  41. micro,

    Again, we are in agreement that there is no “good” argument against MGs, but that isn’t enough.

    We can’t win on the issue without convincing the undecided middle to at least not oppose us. For that we need more than an “it’s our right” and “well, in a couple of cases they came in handy” anecdotes to counter the very arguments we ourselves made against the AWB and which will be leapt on by our opponants.

    I’m talking reality here, which involves incrementality and at least temporary compromise. Purely doctrinal arguments will get us exactly as far on MG’s in the public eye as pure libertarian doctrinal arguments do politically. Which is nowhere.

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