Elvis Syndrome

Tam describes the phenomena here. I haven’t been covering the James Yeager issue very much, because on one hand, I think such pronouncements are unhelpful, but on the other hand, there’s a lot of folks out there on the left that don’t realize the seriousness of what they are proposing. I much prefer the Wyoming approach for pushing back against the feds than I do actions by lone wolves or private militias acting outside any lawful authority.

There are many people out there who feel the same way James Yeager does, even if they exercise more judgement than to put it on YouTube, and probably would not seriously follow through on their anger. But the anger is there, and not all of them are suffering from Elvis Syndrome. Like I said earlier in the week, I’ve seen some ordinarily serious people talking about things are getting uncomfortably close to their line in the sand, and it may be worthwhile for people on the left to know these people are out there. How many Americans are you willing to jail and murder to achieve your fantasies about a gun free society? How many?

I ultimately endorse the Wyoming approach because I think the answer for most people is “none.” They aren’t serious enough to escalate this to that level, so I don’t believe it’ll be necessary. The Wyoming approach provides a lawful framework for a confrontation, which does not necessarily have to escalate into violence. It is far more responsible than the approach originally advocated by Yeager. The first step is to beat gun control back politically at the federal level, and failing that, to beat federal gun control back through our state governments by demanding they nullify a clearly unconstitutional law. The Second Amendment may not have its own tanks, but the Federal Judiciary doesn’t have them either. Our federal system works through cooperative action between the federal government and fifty separate sovereigns. Mutual cooperation is fundamentally essential for the scheme to work. If that cooperation is withdrawn, it becomes nearly impossible for the federal government to maintain enforcement of an unpopular law, even if the states do nothing at all other than withdrawing cooperation. States that have recently legalized pot should also take note of this.

38 thoughts on “Elvis Syndrome”

    1. There was an awful lot that lead up to 1775. It didn’t happen in a vacuum, and it’s also worth nothing that the Continental Congress met for the first time in 1774. While the Continental Congress was not a recognized legal body, it was a civic body, and it was composed of representatives from the colonies. There was some degree of republican control over the Continental Army, and the Congress acted as a lawful body. It’s one of the reason our revolution was successful, as opposed to say, the French Revolution.

      My concern today is that the population lacks sufficient virtue of that nature, and anything erupting today would merely be a lawless rabble, rather than anything acting through any civic or legally constituted authority. Otherwise when you smash your existing lawful authorities, the spoils go to the group most willing to use violence to seize power (think Russia, 1917).

      1. Darn if that doesn’t make sense. Thanks. You expressed my concerns about a new revolution as well, namely, would we get back to the Constitutional Republic, or would something completely antithetical to American ideals take over. Looking back through history, it seems our American Revolution was the only one to succeed in gaining a large measure of freedom for the people.

        But, I worry that our government is now broken beyond repair, and we have no civic body that acts in a legal fashion. I also remember John Adams saying, “Our Constitution is made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly unsuited for the governance of any other.” We are not a moral and religious people anymore; we are far from it.

  1. I’m definitely near my line in the sand. While I do like the WY approach, what do those of us in states like IL do? Sounds like it is either move or turn them in. Or?

    1. Keep fighting, you beat them back once. Absent that, work with your county government, or local governments. Also, if your state is the one that screws you, we still have remedies through the courts.

  2. “How many Americans are you willing to jail and murder to achieve your fantasies about a gun free society? How many?”

    90 million. And their children. We all know that they are evil beyond words and would do anytthing to make their wet dream a reality. Of course they wouldn’t be doing the genocide personally.

      1. There are enough to get a good start; my question remains, what will be the American people’s reaction to a thousand Ruby Ridges and Wacos getting reported on the Internet?

        I suspect those who predict a passive response are wrong; what form it takes remains to be seen. Sebastian likes the 1770s and 1860s approach, I wonder if this won’t evolve into a “dirty” civil war, making those options nonviable before they get a chance to get going.

        1. Well, the Wyoming Approach isn’t really passive, or doesn’t have to be. It has the potential to be engaging in brinkmanship, if each side is willing to take it that far.

  3. I think that Rahm’s recent crusade should disabuse anyone of the notion that gun control advocates will be satisfied with ‘reasonable’ restrictions. Chicago has all of the things he wanted to take state-wide. So when he fails he goes after us again with even more strict ordinances. Our ‘Neville Chamberlains’ need to pay attention to what is happening in Chicago right now. They’ll never be satisfied.

  4. Only crazy people are going to die over this. It’s real simple. They pass laws, you’ll either peacefully obey the laws and voluntarily do what they tell you to, or you’ll peacefully hide your guns in your closet. You’re too comfortable to do anything else. They won’t come looking for them, and you won’t carry them because if you get caught you’ll go to jail. My line in the sand is registration. I won’t even fill out product or warranty registrations on new guns. They’re not going to use registration to come knock on your door. They’ll send you a nice letter saying we know you have it, now come turn it in or you’re a felon. Next time some traffic cop runs your license plate or you need a background check for a job, surprise, there will be a warrant sitting there. slowly but surely. You say it’s stolen? Ok cool, now if we catch you with it you’re a felon times 5. Up to you. I’m willing to take the risk and hide a few guns somewhere, but honestly what good are guns to me on a day to day basis if they’re under the floor boards? Mission accomplished.

    Good read with a little historical perspective. It will play out the same way here if it comes to it. There will be laws, rights will be lost, but not much will have actually been accomplished either way.


    1. You’re assuming an awful lot of good behavior on the part of the idiots in charge. So far, they haven’t demonstrated that they’re capable of backing down. And they havne’t been punished for some pretty egregious line crossing, so what’s to stop them from trying to take a little more?

      They’ve been racking up debts in more than one way.

      If you pay attention to their behavior, it’s illogical to think they won’t try something. And registration exists already. Running that NICS check is data transmitted. That’s scooped up. Anyone who doesn’t think that is deluding themselves.

      There’s some pretty intense simmering rage right now judging by things I’m hearing and seeing.

      If this does blow over, as I hope, there’s a chance the left is done for a while. Too many factors to accurately predict.

      Add in an economic implosion and there’s no way it won’t turn into a gun grab.

  5. Everyone has their own line in the sand. Quite a few have there’s behind mine, the rest ahead of mine.

    We all know there are some ready to start revolting now. From the lack of shooting, I suppose they are not quite as committed as they posture.

    At any rate, here is what happens:

    – govt passes some new horror
    – a few who’s line in the sand is crossed ‘revolt’ and are quashed
    – a few more see this and rise up.
    – they are quashed and govt imposes even more restrictions
    – a few more people’s lines get crossed
    – lather, rinse, repeat

    1. James Yaeger is a perfect example of why there will be no revolution. He talks as tough as anyone, and the second the government quashes him, he’s sitting next to a lawyer apologizing. Nobody rushed to his defense because the government quashing Yaeger was their line in the sand, nobody cared, because everyone who reads about it is sitting on a comfortable couch holding their laptop while their flatscreen TV plays in the background.

      The laws won’t be written as to provide a reasonable opportunity to revolt, even if your line is crossed. They will not be the aggressors, at all. They will be passing laws from inside an office building. If some guy starts shooting up a federal building because he disagrees with the new law, essentially nobody will see it as unreasonable when the government smacks him down for this. They won’t impose more restrictions, they’ll just hold steady, and they will have already quashed the few people who found that state intollerable. It won’t inspire the next wave of anything. There isn’t going to be a revolution. They can walk our line in the sand back for years and we will basically tolerate it because overall life is pretty damn good, especially when compared with prison, dying a noble death and leaving a wife and kids behind to take care of themselves, war, etc. Show me any society that has offered up any sort of revolt while in the midst of such relative comfort in life. People need to get over this fantasy of a revolution and spend a little more time studying history. Read the Reason article, not sure why anyone would believe it’d be any different here.

      1. Nobody rushed to his defense because the government quashing Yaeger was their line in the sand, nobody cared, because everyone who reads about it is sitting on a comfortable couch holding their laptop while their flatscreen TV plays in the background.

        Honestly, I think it’s more that most people think he crossed a line he shouldn’t have, plus the fact that he’s a raging arsehole.

        Personally, I think that they should either charge him with a crime, or have him committed. If they can’t do either, they should give him his permit back. Unfortunately, it looks like TN’s CCW statute is written so that they can get away with it.

      2. motomed,

        He talks as tough as anyone, and the second the government quashes him…



        Quashed my ass.

        He still has his guns. He’s still walking around loose.

        You wanna know why he got his toter’s chit yanked? I’ll bet five bucks that it’s because when the folks at DPS Googled him following up on the complaints about this latest video, they found all that stuff about the dueling contract. You know, where he was specifically threatening to kill specific people, and offering to pay their airfare to him so he could do it. (One way airfare, of course…)

        1. There’s probably anti-dueling laws still on the books in Tennessee. They exist in many more states than people probably realize.

        2. This is my point, he’s sitting there with his head down next to a lawyer apologizing. The fight has left him. Quashed indeed.

      3. That’s essentially why I’m advocating people channel their will to defy the feds through their state governments. I don’t really think most people are going to take any action if it’s not coming from a lawfully constituted body, because you’re absolutely right about this:

        The laws won’t be written as to provide a reasonable opportunity to revolt, even if your line is crossed. They will not be the aggressors, at all. They will be passing laws from inside an office building. If some guy starts shooting up a federal building because he disagrees with the new law, essentially nobody will see it as unreasonable when the government smacks him down for this.

        OK, so we pass some more laws from inside an office building, only one in Cheyenne, Helena, Boise, Austin, Baton Rougue, Montgomery, etc, instead of Washington. Withdraw the voluntary cooperation. Be serious about making it a crime to enforce this unconstitutional law.

        1. agreed, however this plays out, it’s ultimately going to be decided by grownups in court rooms and voting booths.

        2. I would like to hear from Rick Perry on this sort of thing. I realize a bunch of people around here probably dislike him for other reasons, but with the talk this past week of EOs of dubious legality, it would be nice to see someone push back (“no our state won’t co-operate with unconstitutional EOs” for instance). Wyoming is nice and all, but Texas could walk the walk.

        3. Heh, an insight from an acquaintance on a mailing list: used to be the gun grabbers assured us the 2nd Amendment was about the states. Now, we suspect, not so much.

      4. And our response will be to sit with folded hands?

        I think not. As noted by Sebastian, the 1860s model is already in play. We’d also see the 1770s model further develop as we establish our own Committees of Correspondence, and in response the government will … well, that remains to be seen, but what happens after is of course path dependent on it.

        Not that there also won’t be outsized effects in future elections, that we can be very sure of.

        1. people weren’t universally sucking on the government tit in 1860. Life wasn’t that comfortable and it was literally the livelihood of an entire region that was being challenged. The proposals of the day would (and did) devastate half a country. Nothing even close to that magnitude is in play here. The government also had far less opportunity to make lives miserable without firing a shot back then, their opportunities today are limitless. Behavior is determined by incentives, not principles.

          1. Hmmm, you know, I’m entirely comfortable with your implicit prediction that your response to anything happening will be to sit with folded hands.

            Your certainty that everyone else will … well, without getting past the vague hand-waving stage, not to mention the things that are demonstrably wrong, it’s entirely unconvincing.

            1. I think he’s right, because they aren’t going to come for anyone’s guns. People may not sit on folded hands, I certainly don’t intend to, but I don’t think you’re going to see government agents going door-to-door, and therefore you’re going to see massive non-compliance, rather than people shooting it out.

  6. I’m just thinking out loud again without necessarily knowing where I’m going — I think my bottom like is, lack of confidence in potential allies.

    When the militia movement started, c. 1994, it was the kind of thing that was right up my alley, attitude-wise. But, when I heard who its local principals and initial recruits were, except for one exception, they caused me to roll my eyes and sit tight. I was glad I did. Since the Bucks County Militia was more or less open about its activities, I’m told the State Police dropped by to visit every identified member, just to have a chat. That was enough for the local movement to melt away. Getting involved would have accomplished nothing and put my name on a list I’m sure still survives, somewhere.

    Think about 1775 and the Battle of Lexington. Nobody on earth knows who fired “the shot heard round the world.” But that first unidentified shooter — maybe some jackhole in the bushes shooting into the air — set off a firestorm. Or maybe the few who knew who fired it later said “Shit, with what happened, we can’t now say it was that asshole XXXXXX, defying what Captain Parker actually ordered. . .”

    With communications as they were in those days, what did some of the men flocking to Concord really know about what had happened at Lexington? Were there rumors of atrocities? (Apparently one or two atrocities were committed upon British soldiers retreating to Boston — why were the people who did it that motivated?)

    I guess where I’m going is, anyone showcasing our own assholes is doing their part to erode our confidence in each other. But there is a social phenomenon that assholes always rush to the fore, whatever is going on. So, how do we really assess where the center of gravity of our dissidence lies, once we start to weigh doing more than writing long, thoughtful letters to legislators, and letters-to-the-editor?

  7. I think that the best course of action is to work through the democratic process to prevent unacceptable laws from being passed at the Federal level. If any slip by and get enacted, we can use the courts to protect us. At the same time, we can make sure that the states pass laws to refuse the authority of the Federal government to enforce those laws.

    I see the magic number as FIVE states. If that many states are refusing to allow enforcement, the Federal government has a choice to make: Fight, and potentially lose big, forever yielding authority back to the States, or give up and repeal the laws. The Federal government has too much to lose from a legal fight and a contest of wills with the States.

    1. Sincere question: How did the number of states affected influence the civil rights era? It seems there were more than five resisting desegregation, though to my recall of the time Mississippi and Alabama were the poster-children for resistance. That it was regional (“Deep South”) and aligned with the historic Confederacy may have made a difference.

      1. I think the people who were committed to desegregation were very committed to it. I’m not sure that people who support gun control are all that committed to it.

  8. From the Australian experience, Federalism is just another name for bribery and extortion.

    When the Australian Federal government wanted to impose new gun laws after Port Arthur, they were advised that they couldn’t – gun laws in Australia are constitutionally a matter for the States.

    So they called a meeting of all the State and Territory Police Ministers, and told them what gun laws they need to pass in order for their respective governments to continue receiving Federal money for roads and other infrastructure – and yes it WAS that blatant.

    Needless to say, all the States knuckled under.

    1. There are some similarities here, but some differences. Our federal system is a bit more diverse and a bit stronger than the Australian model. Our federal government can’t withdraw funding to coerce the states. Actually, the recent health care decision upholding Obamacare reenforced that decision. They can only entice the states with funding. They can put conditions on that funding. But they can’t radically “alter the deal,” to use a Star Wars context without running afoul of the Constitution. So the United States government is a bit more limited in how it may coerce the states.

      1. One would hope so, and that part of the decision was 7-2, Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissenting, “Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan, would have ruled that the Medicaid expansion could survive, but that states must be given the right to opt out of the expansion without losing their pre-existing Medicaid funding.” and “Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito would have struck down the Medicaid expansion completely (along with the entire Act).” (Wikipedia.)

  9. While I think the states putting up resistance is probably the best route from a moral, legal, and practical standpoint I think the “lone wolf” possibilities are dismissed to quickly or at least for the wrong reasons.

    How many weeks did it take law enforcement to catch the D.C. snipers? And those guys were not very smart and were deliberately leaving clues. Imagine a dozen “lone wolves” with real sniper, explosives, and covert ops training, and sense enough to “stick to business” and not play games with law enforcement. Inside of a month you wouldn’t have any politician or media representative in this country even mouthing the words “gun control”.

    Remember what Abby Hoffman had to say on the general topic.

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