Compromise Happens

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.

9 thoughts on “Compromise Happens”

  1. I’m not a member or much of a fan of GOA, but it seemed to me they described HR 2640 pretty accurately. Basically, from what I gathered, it stated that any military member or veteran who had ever seen a psychiatrist was banned for life from owning firearms, unless they spent years jumping through paperwork hoops. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. That’s not correct. The bill actually protected against that. VA used to be fast and loose with adding people to NICS for trivial reasons.

  2. [Compromise] won’t be something forged on blogs, or by discussion between the sides.

    No, but the boundaries of the “playing field” are often set through these types of discussions. If we refute their best arguments with objective analysis and fact-based responses, the discussion can be framed for the politicians before they even start the political process.

    1. Oh, I agree there. My argument isn’t that engagement is useless, it’s that engagement isn’t likely to result in a legislative solution

  3. @Ken: Reading Sec. 101(c)(1)(C) of the bill pretty much refutes that position:

    101(c)(1) IN GENERAL- No department or agency of the Federal Government may provide to the Attorney General any record of an adjudication related to the mental health of a person or any commitment of a person to a mental institution if–

    (C) the adjudication or commitment, respectively, is based solely on a medical finding of disability, without an opportunity for a hearing by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, and the person has not been adjudicated as a mental defective consistent with section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code, except that nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall prevent a Federal department or agency from providing to the Attorney General any record demonstrating that a person was adjudicated to be not guilty by reason of insanity, or based on lack of mental responsibility, or found incompetent to stand trial, in any criminal case or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    1. This is one of the reasons that I stopped listening to GOA–they completely reversed the actual effect of HR 2640. We gave up nothing that mattered, and what the gun controllers received was nothing that we should care about very much: making sure that those who are seriously mentally ill are excluded from gun ownership.

  4. Thune/Vitter Amendment vs. H.R.822

    Thune/Vitter missed passing the Senate during the last legislative session by 2 votes. We picked up at least 2 pro-gun Senator during the last election.

    I am making the assumption the once H.R. 822 gets voted out of the House, the Senate would be a cake walk.

    The only challenge I see is appending it to a bill that Mr. Obama will not veto, like was done with restoring the right to carry in National Parks by appending it to his credit card bill.

    Only time will tell, I am hoping we can get this passed prior to January 20, 2013. If not, hopefuly we will get a President that will sign it on its own merits, someone like Ron Paul.

    1. If failed by two votes because once Shumer had enough votes to defeat it, he allowed some votes he had in his corner to switch to yes. Casey was one of them. So it failed by two votes, but that’s not to say we’ll pass it with two more seats that are a solid yes.

      1. Those Senators will have to explain why they voted “Yes” on a less restrictive bill, though. Tactically, allowing those Senators to “vote their conscience” may have been an error.

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