The Risk of Any Gun Control Victory

I mentioned in the previous post that I understand that “sometimes you have to cut deals so that you get slapped around instead of beaten up.” Of all the bills being thrown at us, I can’t tell you that I think they are all equally bad. There’s some I’d suggest charging the machine gun over, and others I’d take as a loss, but life would go on. You likely feel the same way. But there’s a real risk in letting them walk away with any victory, and I want to expand on that principle a bit to make people understand why you don’t want to concede anything out of the gate, and that sometimes being “unreasonable” is a better strategy than being “reasonable” (a.k.a. a sucker).

I’ve touched on some of these reasons previously, during years when I was in a more reasonable mood:

We don’t agree to put this issue to the political process, because there’s no guarantee once the political process starts, the bill that comes out the other end looks like anything remotely acceptable. There are people out there, powerful people, both in and out of Congress, who hate the idea of private citizens having guns and will do everything they can to prevent or frustrate it. There’s no denying that without willfully inserting your head into the sand. There is no reasonable way to work out a sensible compromise through the political system. We didn’t get here by having reasonable discussions or by trying to or together to come up with a solution. We got here through struggle, with both sides advancing and retreating at different times, and in different areas. That’s how the political process works, and it can work no other way.

But I want to touch on a different phenomena in this post, which can be best summed up as “since I have already sinned,” or if you don’t like that, perhaps, “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Once legislators have already staked out their position as being pro-gun control, there’s not much that’s going to bring them back if the vote was severe enough. At that point, your recourse is voting them out of office. If you fail to do that, they will likely remain against you forever, unless you can change the political calculus. You could use the analogy of sleeping around on one’s spouse. Sure, there are spouses who will have a single one night stand, and then feel guilty and never do it again. But there are probably more spouses where a one time encounter turns into a protracted affair, or multiple affairs. Once the fidelity has been violated, it’s been violated. The 102nd Congress passed the Brady Act, and then quickly followed up with an Assault Weapons Ban. It was only the 1994 elections that prevented even worse from being brought up. Once positions have been staked out, and votes cast, that creates a basis for further action. You might think allowing, say, a ban on private sales through wouldn’t be the end of the world, but if that goes through there’s little reason to think that will be the end of it, and our opponents will already have a base from which to work. I don’t see any reason to make it easier for them to get something through that would truly be devastating for us.

19 thoughts on “The Risk of Any Gun Control Victory”

  1. Speaking as a fairly recent gun owner (and even more recent NRA life member), the fact that the word “control” is in any sort of legislation here is disturbing. The idea that there is a means of control by legislative fiat that could effectively deter people from exercising self defense is downright criminal.

    This can’t be said enough, and there is no reason why we should settle for anything less. There are lots more issues other than gun rights we should push back on. Domestic use of drones, search and seizure, technology and privacy, etc. are a few others.

    Right now guns are one of the last remaining speedbumps in the way of pacifying the country completely in preparation for something far worse to be forced down our throats, and it must stop.

  2. I’d love to heard a talking head ask an anti this question:
    “If the government institutes every single restriction you’re asking for, will you be satisfied and stop pushing for more?”

    Their goal is nothing short of total disarmament, even if the useful idiots don’t recognize it.

    Imagine if the original AWB had been renewed permanently, and Lanza had used a ban compliant rifle. Right now we’d be hearing cries of “no one needs a 10 round clip to hunt!” and “close the grandfathering loophole!”

    Their goals are long-term and their strategy is incrementalism. We can’t give up a single inch with fighting tooth and nail.

    1. Right. Which is why we’ve said many times that we need to push back twice as hard. Just because an AWB appears to be off the table doesn’t mean the fight is over. We have to push to make it so that that a ban on anything gun is unconscionable to any politician who wants to stay in office. Now background checks don’t fall neatly into that category and I’m sure over the next few weeks we’ll hear every proposal under the sun that sounds “reasonable”. I think any encroachment into our territory right now must be stopped. And I think you’re exactly right when you mention the loopholes.

      Gun owners are the most vocal public defenders of the bill of rights today that I’ve seen. Many of them aren’t single issue (as I’ve said before).

      After the bills go through the sausage grinder no one knows what will come about and how they will be enforced. Much of that depends on who does the enforcing.

    2. “If the government institutes every single restriction you’re asking for, will you be satisfied and stop pushing for more?”

      With an obligatory nod at Godwin’s Law, I will say that I expect the response would be the same as Hitler’s response to Chamberlain, when asked if he would be satisfied with getting the Sudetenland.

  3. Rl, CT still has a 94-style ban on the books. He did perform his shit under an AWB.

    1. And it hasn’t stopped talk of further restrictions, which is precisely my point.

  4. The leaders of the gun control movement in congress are in “safe districts”. That is to say, the people out in front have zero chance of facing a primary challenge, or a serious general election challenge. These people will never be on our side. They were not impacted in ’94, and they won’t be impacted by elections upcoming. However, the neo-socialists from ‘purple’ states, swing districts, and competitive areas ARE in danger of losing their seats.

    Communications to congress need to emphasize that there will be zero forgiveness, and gun owners will not forget betrayal. They need to be reminded that this is not 1994 and that we OWN them in social media, online activism, boots on the ground activism and grassroots support. Let them know that the Schumers, Rangles, Feinsteins & Morons of congress are leading them down a path to unemployment and irrelevance.

    Where they currently own us is division. We as a community have been all too willing to accept infringements over the years. The current defensive fight is not sufficient for us to win, we have to push to repeal laws on the books and push it hard. It’s not just about stopping the proposed restrictions, it needs to be more. Or the situation will be how much we will lose.

  5. I’ve ceased to care what the ribald branch of the government does or says. The others have already branded us as idiots, lacking in penile mass and beer-swilling rubes. What’s the old saying “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns?”.

    Though 100% legal, I’ve gotten used to seeing myself through their eyes. Don’t push first, but push back HARD when required!

    (i’m pretty sure I paid that “no u-turn” ticket back in the ’70’s.)

  6. First, our position has to be “give no quarter.” Whatever the proposal, the answer is “no.” Not “maybe,” not “we’ll discuss it” but “no.”

    Second, Dave (above) was only half right when he said gun control leaders are in “safe districts.” They may be “safe” against pro-gun conservatives, but they’re not “safe” from other leftists. There’s nothing wrong with assisting a primary candidate from the other side if that candidate can replace a seated anti-gunner. Consider Schumer; were he to be replaced with a young, wild-eyed commie what would be different? The newbie wouldn’t have Schumer’s seniority or pal-to-pal connections in the Senate and would have to spend time building a rep. And, in 6 years, we find a different wild-eyed commie to replace the first one with a primary victory. If it becomes known that we’ll do anything to get our opposition voted out, and that we’re willing to expend time, money and energy to keep churning seats, and are successful at it, we stand a chance of getting some level of control over the process.

    Think offense, not defense. A great defense can keep you from losing the game, but it takes offense to put points on the board to win with.

    1. The leftists tend to stick together better. I don’t see crazy primary challengers willing to knock of these folks. Their party would not allow it.

  7. Where can everyone see a posted list of the democrats that vote for gun control and all these stupid forced down your throat bills, that these idiot Liberals are demanding. So we can all see the democrats that have upcoming seats, that can be yanked out from under them. That way something like this crap that is being forced down our throats with no say in the matter. Will never happen again. If it does, they will fully know they are a one and done term in office holder. Lets target all of these guys up for re-election. They work for us!!! Make them not forget it.

    1. Look after their name. If there’s a “D” behind it, they are probably anti-gun. If they are from a red state, check with the NRA around election time to see if the Dem is a rare Blue Dog exception to the antigun rule.

  8. “sometimes you have to cut deals so that you get slapped around instead of beaten up.”

    The trouble with that is, when you start to maneuver to promote the “slapped around” legislation over the “beaten up” legislation, well, you’re pretty well assuring that you’re going to get slapped around.

    I would say, cut no deals, and deny them the “sanction of the victim.” They will do not one iota less to you than they have the power to pull off, anyway, and your approval improves nothing at all. You just feel good for saying “It could have been worse.”

    This reminds me of December 1993, when an AWB was pending in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Democrats were beating us up with a bill that banned 67 specific weapons. The Republicans helpfully proposed to just slap us around a little, passing an amendment to reduce that number to 15. It wasn’t until a leaderless (IMO) grassroots exploded over the holidays, and called for the hides of all the legislators involved in the deal-cutting, that what was really desired happened — the legislation was driven back completely. It would take a lot of recitation of ancient history to explain, but the fact is we have never had a close approach to a state-level AWB since.

    1. What I’m saying is that there are situations where there is only a choice between the two, and relatively little chance to avoid getting beaten up. I think you can look at a legislature and generally get an idea for how the players are going to vote on various things, and have an idea about what the intent is. For instance, there might be broad agreement that some new law or rule has to be passed on the topic of gun regulation, and not a whole lot of consensus on what.

      If consensus starts building on something you really don’t want, and you’re pretty sure you either can’t stop it, or stand very little chance of stopping it, you can either pull out all the stops and hope you can pull off a miracle, or you can try to redirect the debate onto something that is more acceptable. What power they have to do things to you is more fluid thing than a fixed thing, because if a legislature is intent on acting, and you’re not willing to be part of the debate, you’re just going to lose votes get steamrollered.

      That didn’t happen in Pennsylvania because the grassroots were mobilized, and when they are mobilized, I get a lot more skeptical of maneuvers like this, because a lot of angry people communicating with and making demands of lawmakers improves the options for the people in there lobbying on our behalf. That’s one reason I questioned whether this was really an acceptable and necessary deal, because it seemed to concede an awful lot of ground for a requirement that seemed flimsy, given our experience with PICS and the registry here in PA. We’re always going to have different opinions about how to minimize damage when things go badly for us, but I do think there are no win scenarios, where the only choice is how badly you lose.

  9. “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to — and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong, which will be imposed upon them.” —Frederick Douglass, August 3, 1857

    I’m not quoting that in response to Sebastian’s last comment. It is only coincidental that I was reading something else just now, and was reminded by it of this discussion.

    I guess I’m saying there is no need to negotiate getting slapped around; our opponents will not impose one thing less than they have the power to impose. Is there some advantage in saving face, pretending that getting slapped around was what we really wanted all along? It sometimes seems that our people often take that approach, so I’d guess so.

    I guess I’m not comfortable with the whole idea of “negotiating.” We either have the clout to impose our will or we don’t, and that won’t be known until election day. With many issues, and not just the RKBA, I’ve watched too many self-important activists style themselves as playing cagey games with legislators, when really what they were doing was, being set up as patsies to carry crafted political messages and excuses back to the grassroots whose ears they had.

  10. We agree with you completely.

    We can NOT allow any changes for those demanding them are trying to destroy the 2nd Amendment ENTIRELY as well as other portions of our Constitution.

    We are forwarding this page, keep up the good work!

  11. The current gun control leadership is old and has invested in gun control as part of their legacy.

    Get new blood in, without legislation with their names on it to defend, and without the benefits of entrenched incumbency, and we can maneuver them.

    1. If I can paraphrase what I think you’re saying, it is to somehow get the old and entrenched out of their safe seats, after which the seats will be less safe, and their occupants more vulnerable to confrontation.

      That I agree with, though I’m reminded of the old chestnut about the recipe for rabbit stew beginning with “First catch a rabbit. . .” That can be the hardest part of the recipe.

      The thing that always makes me nervous is when someone says something like “We can maneuver them. . .” Figure that before someone wins a seat in a legislature, they are already themselves adept at maneuvering somebody, because they needed the backing of a lot of people to get where they are. Never be at all confident that we will be better chess-players than they are. Better for those of us who should admit to being amateurs — at least to the extent that we don’t make a living at politics — to stick to direct confrontational tactics, the things that sway elections.

      1. Yeah, the elephant stew issue. =)

        Frankly I’m hoping more of them die off or retire. Hughes is gone, Lautenberg is retiring with Booker coming up as likely replacement. That sort of thing.

        In terms of maneuver: if they don’t have a legacy law, a gun control law they put their name on, to protect we are in a position to keep them from looking for one.

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