Beliefs Change Over Time

I’m short on things to write about, probably because I haven’t been paying as close attention to the news. It’s occurred to me that there’s a lot of things I believe now that I didn’t ten years ago. Ten years is an awful lot of time to be immersed in writing about a single issue, and there’s not much I haven’t thought through, thought through again, then thought through a third time just to be thorough. Thinking about a list:

  • The biggest threat to gun rights are from states like California and New York because for better or worse, these states control the broader culture and they’ve been very effective at stamping out their own gun culture. YouTube recently had a dust-up where ISIS videos were getting advertisers. After a backlash, they created a category of “objectionable content” to be starved of advertising. Unfortunately for us, they put gun videos in that category. And why wouldn’t they? Do you think very many New Yorkers or people in Silicon Valley, where most of these companies draw their employees from,  know many people who enjoy shooting? They probably know more people who disdain it.
  • The primary motivation of most people seeking greater control over firearms is cultural chauvinism. Public safety is just how they justify it to themselves and others. But in reality it’s primarily, “I don’t like those kinds of people. I certainly don’t want them having guns.” Sometimes it can be “I’m afraid of those kinds of people. I certainly don’t want them having guns.”
  • We’d all do a lot better to look after the gun culture in our local areas. These days I’m much more concerned about the future of the shooting sports in suburban Philadelphia than I am about the future of the shooting sports in general. Any time a club dissolves, a shop closes, or shooting programs stop for lack of places to shoot, that’s a resource that will never come back. The best antidote to the cultural chauvinism mentioned above is familiarity, and I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.
  • Social media is a vast wasteland and a huge waste of time. It’s not so much that people on Facebook disagree politically — I’ve never been able to get all that worked up that other people in my life don’t always share my opinions — It’s the fact that on Facebook, you see friends and family post ignorant, often vile, hateful things they’d never say to your face. I’ve been personally cutting back my presence significantly, and it wasn’t for the fact that I’m running my club’s Facebook page, the blog’s Facebook page, and that it’s Tam’s comment section these days, I’d probably just stop. Since giving up Twitter and cutting back on Facebook, I’m getting a lot more done.

Our side has our share of bullshit too, and I’ve come to acknowledge much of it.

  • For an ordinary middle-aged suburban dweller, you’re more likely to die prematurely from cardio-vascular disease than you are to need your firearm. If you work in front of a computer all day like I do, that’s probably far more likely. People who choose not to carry a firearm are making a fine choice. You might look at the balance of risk v. reward and come to a different conclusion, and that’s fine too, but someone whose calculation thinks carrying a firearm is too much of a pain in the ass isn’t making a foolish choice.
  • You don’t need to be the greatest gun ninja in the world to successfully defend yourself. Everyone should seek out some basic training, but I think beyond that it’s for fun. Like the link says, if you take care of the basics, you’re already way ahead of the curve.
  • A lot of people out there who have guns are complete idiots who I’d feel much better if they did not own or carry firearms. The difference between me and a gun control person is that I don’t think that’s a solvable problem, and you’ll do more damage trying. There’s a lot of people I wish didn’t have drivers’ licenses too, but that doesn’t mean I get to dictate my preferences, or that there’s any such thing as an idiot test.
  • There really are significant numbers of gun owners who support gun control. Even some of the very strict gun control you can find in the dozen or so bad states. Our side often likes to call these people out as false flags when they appear in media, and perhaps some are. But if you think they all are, you don’t spend enough time talking to other gun owners. This ties back into local engagement. There’s a lot of times I think New Jersey gun owners own a lot of the responsibility for their current sad situation.
  • The Second Amendment is nothing more than words in a piece of parchment on display at the National Archives. Those words are not self-enforcing. Their meaning might read plain as day to you, but you’re not a federal judge. The ghost of James Madison is not going to appear to make things right. Those words only mean something because people; people like you and people like me, have struggled to give those words actual meaning. That struggle does not end. In a way this should be first on a list of our side’s bullshit, because it’s the folly I run across most often.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot. But those are things I’m thinking about in terms of where I’ve come to with this issue in the decade I’ve been writing about it.

39 thoughts on “Beliefs Change Over Time”

  1. Wow. When you start calling out your own side’s bullshit, you know you’re really looking for trouble, right? Is “apostate” the word? ;-)

    “…there’s a lot of things I believe now that I didn’t ten years ago.”

    Here’s a possibly more interesting question to ponder; what did you believe ten years ago, that you no longer do? And maybe more importantly, why did you ever believe those things?

    I have observed there are some people who never seem to change their beliefs, for their entire lives. I haven’t figured out whether to scorn them, pity them, or envy them.

    1. Some of that is implied here, because several of them are things where I used to think differently. Probably most important on the gun issue: my days of calling out heretics are over. Early on in the blog I was a participant in a few Internet lynchings. I once inadvertently whipped up an Internet lynch mob against a Montana gun maker who endorsed Obama back in 2008. While I would still argue being a gun maker and endorsing someone who’d be happy to put you out of business is foolish, I would be much more careful today. I think the Internet lynch mob mentality is out of hand and it’s incredibly destructive.

      A lot wouldn’t be related to guns. Like, now I think Google and Facebook are problems, whereas I’m not looking at Microsoft as much of a threat these days. But anti-trust issues have always been one area I’ve differed with libertarians, so I wouldn’t say that’s a philosophical shift, so much as I’m worried about different companies wielding enormous cultural and economic power than I was ten years ago.

      I am actually far more pessimistic about the role technology is playing in society than ten years ago, which is a funny thing to say as someone making a living at it. When I started this blog, I thought new media was nearly an unqualified positive force of change. I am far far less sure of that today.

      1. “When I started this blog, I thought new media was nearly an unqualified positive force of change. I am far far less sure of that today.”

        What I think that boils down to, is something we all need to learn (and remember) along the way: Often we can be enthusiastic about something because it seems like a useful tool for our own little revolution, never thinking about how it can as well be a tool for someone else’s revolution, that we may not care for so much. We see it as a way to defeat one enemy, forgetting that it can create a new enemy we never anticipated.

        I once read that there is historical evidence that within a matter of a few weeks after its invention, photography was being used to produce pornography. Not that pornography is necessarily a bad use of technology, but the point is, that technology will often (always?) be used first and most often to serve humans’ baser instincts. For communications technology, that means it will be used indiscriminately for the acquisition of wealth and political power.

    2. On the gun issue I’ve stayed incredibly consistent- the only gun regulations I will agree with are prohibiting violent felons and mentally ill from purchasing, possessing, or using guns. After much research, I continue to agree with that.

      On other issues, I’ve changed my mind. Twenty years ago I was very much a neocon- let’s go in and fight other countries. After much research I’m anti-war. I also was very pro North, and again after much research I’m very anti North. Though those beliefs changed about 10 or so years ago.

      Ten years ago I was very much a right libertarian. After much research, I’d classify myself as anarcho-capitalist. I used to believe that at a minimum courts and police are functions that must be provided by governments, now I no longer believe. Of course if we ever got to that point, I would be pretty satisfied even if its not my “perfect” system.

  2. Re. the last, “Shall Not Be Infringed” is not an argument.

    I see that over and over on the Gun Innerwebs, and it drives me crazy.

    (It’s part of a good legal argument, don’t get me wrong.

    But people who just say “shall not be infringed!” about any gun law they don’t like, well, they aren’t making a legal argument, and they’re not convincing anyone.

    After all, nobody farkin’ knows what infringement is, exactly.

    A total gun ban plainly is, or the Amendment is meaningless.

    Beyond that, we have to make an actual argument about why law X is infringing, specifically …

    Because equally plainly “ever stops anyone from having any gun at all at any point” is not infringement, since the Founders seem to have had no problem at all with disarming prisoners.

    Somewhere between “ban all guns” and “you can’t even disarm someone in jail” is where the line must lie, and figuring out where it is is the role of argument and persuasion, not just saying “infringed!!!ONE”.)

    1. We must remember 4 out of 9 Supreme Court justices thought a virtual ban on owing a handgun was just fine. Yes, we won Heller, but only by one vote. It could easily have gone the other way. If a 5-4 split on one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation does not drive home the point that it’s not as clear cut as we would like it to be I’m not sure what would.

  3. Sigivald:

    My wife (who is a Libertarian) is fond of saying that she feels about guns the way she feels about abortions. She doesn’t want one, but doesn’t feel she has the right to tell someone else not to have one.

    You remind me of that, because of the way you talk about where to draw the line vis-a-vis gun laws. Most of us would NOT agree to ban all guns, all the time; and most of us would NOT agree to let everyone, including minors and felons and the mentally ill, carry firearms everywhere they please. So we’re looking for a sweet spot on the spectrum between those extremes… but where?

    Similarly, with abortion, we have the extremes of “life begins at conception” and “life begins at birth”. Problem is, biologically, we don’t have any good clear-cut landmarks OTHER than those two extremes. (“Viable” is one proposed landmark, but it’s a moving target. Some religious groups allow abortion up to 40 days, which coincidentally is about when a fetus starts to look human… but that’s not very clear-cut, and it’s a minority opinion. And so on.)

    But with gun control, I suspect we can find some clear-cut sharp boundaries between “all” and “nothing”. Forbidding gun ownership to violent felons, to the mentally ill, and to minors, is not quite clear-cut enough for me — who gets to decide what a mental illness is? — but it’s a place to start.

    One final thought. Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump, as a Presidential executive order, required all public elementary schools to teach Eddie Eagle once a year, and required all public high schools to teach an NRA gun-safety course as a requirement of graduation? I think an awful lot of opposition to guns, borne of ignorance and unfamiliarity, would go away, at least in part.

    1. Then there are those who believe that life begins with independence outside the womb, which affects a lot of peolle living in Mom’s spare bedroom or on the dole. That might change the family dynamic in a lot of households.

    2. Federal law does not prohibit gun ownership to the mentally ill; it uses a much more narrow definition that has been largely castrated by the near impossibility of getting someone involuntarily committed until there are chalk marks around bodies. (Pennsylvania is a bit weird in its 302 process.)

      1. Which isn’t a problem with the federal law prohibiting possession, but the deliberate destruction of the mental health system, because of some widely-publicized abuses.

        However, it does show that that subsystem was (and still is) set up to protect the individual’s right over a future chance of harm. The flip side of that coin is very scary.

  4. Great post, Sebastian, and good comments, gentlemen. I am bookmarking rhis for future reference. I am curious, if I should be permitted another ten years in this life, as to what response we’ll have looking back on this post ten years from now. What changes are in store for us, for the Country, for the concept of the right to arms? We live in interesting times!
    – Arnie

  5. “For an ordinary middle-aged suburban dweller, you’re more likely to die prematurely from cardio-vascular disease than you are to need your firearm.” Been there; heart attack and stroke induced by the repair. Unless you are very atypical for an American, working on weight reduction and improved cardiovascular fitness is far more important than carrying a gun to your safety. For what a high-end shooting class will cost, you can buy a treadmill and get started on both those goals.

    1. Well said. In a SHTF scenario, it’s likelier to run out of metformin than to run out of ammo.

  6. You sound tired, and I understand. Marathons suck.

    Take heart, we’re doing much better than anyone was willing to give us credit for.

      1. “When I became a gun rights activist in the 1990s, I assumed near universal handgun bans by now.”

        Try this: When I was in the Army in the ’60s, I was passionate that I’d go to gunsmithing school when I got out, and the dream often kept me going, day-to-day. But almost as soon as I got out, the flurry of anti-gun legislation from NJ to federal GCA ’68 hit, and I was convinced guns would be illegal in only a decade or so. The draft had turned me into a pragmatist, real fast. So, I became an engineer instead.

        I very likely would have pursued my first dream if I had known guns would survive as a popular hobby. No regrets today about my career choices, but no one can resist reflecting on “what might have been,” from time to time.

  7. Cultural chauvinism mated with leftist totalitarianism is the current state of play in places like CA and NY. It creates a clear and present danger to all of us out here in flyover country, not only for civil rights concerning self-defense but for a thousand other issues. This is not going to change. At this point the salient issue for me is how to do peaceful partition. The only other options are surrender or civil war.

      1. “We managed to enforce Civil Rights in the South…”

        For a few years, anyway. Civil rights anywhere don’t appear all that secure right now, so I’m not sure there are any confident examples to support your point, anymore.

      2. Worked in the 1960s, sort of but didn’t work so well in the late 1860s. I would consider deferment for almost a century as a surrender. Plus in both cases there was widespread violence (just) short of a civil war.

  8. Interestingly … I came from a more “Gun ownership is a thing of the past anyway so who cares” mentality, but gravitated to where you are now. Possibly partially because I’ve read your blog for most of its existence.

    But I agree totally. The few times I’ve seen state by state breakdown of the “Do you want more or less gun control” question it’s been consistent that people in highly controlled states want MORE and free states want LESS. I guess you get past a tipping-point of regulation and then you get whatever you want. Or as you realize how great it is to be enpowered by freedom you want more freedom.

    I’m getting old enough that I think with some constitutional supporting justices on SCOTUS I’ll at least be OK for the decades I care about — which doesn’t mean I won’t be arguing on, but it’s more and more on my kids to deal with it.

    I’ve seen us come so far, but the hard left blue bases on the coasts hang over us like a sword of damacles that will fall whenever they can get just enough voets — people who have no problem telling us rednecks that like it or not it’s time to turn ’em all in and we’re stupid if we don’t agree to shut up. Want to yell molon labe and hold on to ’em? NP — it’ll take awhile, but the ATF SWAT team will find their way to you some night. And you won’t be missed. And if you’re children survive they’ll be raised in a right (I mean left) thinking home with proper progressive control.

    1. “… people in highly controlled states want MORE and free states want LESS…”

      I think that’s as simple as people “voting with their feet.” People will stay, or move into, conditions they can tolerate, and tend to move away from conditions they can’t tolerate.

      But that works in bad ways as well as good. Right now the states with the greatest concentrations of overt racism remain largely the same ones that were recognized as racist fifty years ago.

  9. “The biggest threat to gun rights are from states like California and New York because for better or worse, these states control the broader culture . . .” Very thoughtful post; including the replies.

    The most important point is “The biggest threat”. Those of us who live in fly-over country are altogether too complacent. We got what we want where we live and where we travel to. We just don’t “get it” that the 10 remaining Won’t-Issue States have a very large chunk of the US population; and, therefore, the votes; and, therefore, the Congressmen. (And, we have urban centers here in fly-over; e.g., Austin TX with its refugees from CA. Seattle, WA. Oregon.) We are only creeping toward more urbanization, not less. No hunting, no ranges for target shooting, no plinking. Why should an urbanite have any interest in guns? Collecting?

    How about self-defense; oh, that’s right. No carry outside the home. So, why bother with self-defense if you can’t do anything about it?

    The Won’t-Issue States few remaining gun owners can’t tip their legislators any more than the slaves could free themselves before the Civil War. If the 2A is to be restored in the 10 Won’t-Issue States it will happen in Washington DC.

    We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity today. For 4 – 8 – 12 or 16 years we have someone in the White House who is likely to: drift the judiciary toward Constitutionalism; carry the down-ticket keeping Republicans in the Congress; gradually advance the 2A. Now is the time to get our Congress-critters to back National-Reciprocity specifically and gun-rights generally.

    Our main goal must be to restore the 2A in Won’t-Issue States. Next, we need to chip away on laws that frustrate carry; e.g., Gun-Free Zones. It must become practical to carry routinely, even if not literally everywhere. Only when that condition is restored in urbanized States will guns for self-defense be identified as a possibility that non-gun-owners accept as part of their culture; and, even as an option they would rather retain than vote-away.

    1. “Austin, TX, with its refugees from CA….”
      MarkPA, you revealed a powerful (and scary) truth I have witnessed through reports from dear friends in Colorado. Colorado used to be a very pro-gun State with rugged, outdoor frontiersman attitudes. But California urbanites fleeing the high tax mess they themselves created there emigrated to Colorado, bringing with them the anti-gun, Intrusive government values that led to their mess in the first place. My friends now say those transplanted liberals have taken over not only the I-35 corridor (Puebla-Denver-Fort Collins), but the State legislature and governor’s mansion as well, and laden them with anti-gun laws and high taxes approaching the tyranny of their former Sunshine State.

      So MarkPA, your call to influence won’t-issue States is good and necessary for the sake of all States to which those folks eventually emigrate.

      Meanwhile, though: To Texas, and all Red States with growing metropolitan areas being fed by Blue State emigres, codify your carry laws into your State Constitutions now, and make them unrepealable if possible, lest what is occurring in Colorado come to your State next. In this regard, no State is safe.

      Respectfully, Arnie

      1. Arnie, you make a great point I hadn’t thought of before.

        It had occurred to me that the USA’s scheme of “strong federalism” both engraved into the Constitution and observed by practice, tends to protect the 2A. (This scheme is to be contrasted with other “weak federalism” countries such as Mexico where the “Estados” are “independent” in relatively minor ways.) In our scheme, the 2A won’t die until it’s wiped-out in Wyoming and Alaska as the last 2 States. Bloomberg will have to spend his entire fortune to wipe-out gun rights one-State-at-a-time across 51 jurisdictions where he has just-about-succeeded in DC and NYC.

        Albeit only a “parchment barrier”, amending each State’s constitution in various ways – and to various degrees – will tend to raise the barrier to the long-march from the Atlantic to the Pacific. E.g., a State constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to fish and hunt is apt not to be particularly objectionable in most States, blue as they may be. Republicans will vote for it, Democrats won’t bother to vote against it. Now, innocuously, we would introduce an implied right to keep long guns for purposes of hunting. Any law the Democrats might try to introduce to curtail long guns would face a State constitutional objection as an infringement on the right to hunt.

        This is merely an illustration of a strategy. Once you get a right-to-hunt, go for a right-to-hunt with a semi-automatic; a right-to-hunt with hollow-point bullets; a right-to-hunt with lead bullets; a right-to-hunt with ammunition of any calibre, velocity and power sufficient to humanely harvest big game whether within or outside that State. Do you see how many kinds of creeping gun-control would be frustrated by such a series of – apparently – innocuous protections of “hunting”?

        I don’t presume to illustrate a realistic strategy with this example. The voters would tire of so many proposed constitutional amendments. I imagine that if we put our minds to the task we would find logical possibilities – e.g., right to hunt with ammunition to humanely harvest big game – would embed quite a lot of protection in one proposal. (Another example might be applied to feral hogs; a right to long guns well suited to destroying species that threaten agriculture. Another, a right to handguns suited to self-defense against dangerous fauna such as bears.)

        The very old doctrine of “Nullification” is being actively tested with several State pot laws. (I’m taking no position here about the wisdom of pot.) In the next couple of decades Nullification will become entrenched in our Federal jurisprudence. That will make it very difficult for Congress to legislate gun-control over State constitutional protections.

        Your idea – State constitutional amendments – is a brilliant strategy for PotG to play the long-game. Moreover, we have already built the infrastructure in so many States (e.g., to push for Shall-Issue or Constitutional-Carry) that we simply need to keep these “State militias” continuing their efforts in their home areas of political operations.

        1. Thank you, MarkPA. “Nullification” used to be a hate-word to liberals because of its former anti-civil rights use by blue dog democrats in the 50s and 60s. But it was originally advocated by Jefferson and Madison to contravene the gross violation of civil rights by the federal Alien and Sedition Acts of John Adams. And now the libs love it for the smoking of pot. There are calls by some respectable conservatives for its codification in the Constitution by the present move for an Article V Convention of States. I am definitely not a fan of pot-smoking, but after witnessing the prodigiously rampant growth of federal intrusion and overreach in my lifetime, I am inclined to approve Nullification’s addition to the supreme law of the land.
          Blessings to you, sir!
          – Arnie

  10. “For 4 – 8 – 12 or 16 years we have someone in the White House who is likely to: drift the judiciary toward Constitutionalism…”

    I can sympathize with everything you say, except I will not entertain that that thing in the White House has the first inkling of a concept of constitutionalism; and while the alt-right personalities he has installed around him may have an inkling, I reject the thought they have any respect for the concept, beyond how it can be manipulated to advance their own agenda.

    Also as I’ve commented a time or two, “constitutionalism” is always in the eye of the beholder, and almost always translates to, whatever advances my agenda by necessity must be constitutional; issues that I don’t care about, well — who else should care?

    1. Whetherman, I too often despair on such points. Nevertheless, “. . . how it can be manipulated to advance their own agenda” is the key.

      You must dance with the one that brung you. I can’t imagine that – novice a politician though he might be – the Trump administration must be generally aware of the importance of this old adage. If Donald Sr. doesn’t remember us, Donald Jr. will be there at holiday family dinners to remind him.

      I suspect that Trump is moving slowly on 2A issues because he has fish-to-fry that are bigger than our’s. Yet, as biennial elections approach, he will throw us bones that he can toss at low cost (e.g., via executive orders) to keep us voting for Congressmen who will support his bigger agenda.

      Those of us who firmly support the 2A are in a minority; and, our fraction of the voter pool is apt to decline. Today – at last – due to a confluence of a peculiar combination of circumstances – we have someone relatively friendly to our cause in the White House and his party in the majority in both chambers of Congress. Remember when it was the reverse? Those days are apt to return.

      It’s up to US to act TODAY – before the next election in 2018 and the following in 2020, to make the most we can of a relatively friendly confluence of interests that are NOT OPPOSED to the 2A. We NEED more justices/judges who are NOT OPPOSED to the 2A. We NEED more Congress-critters who are NOT OPPOSED to the 2A. We NEED successors to Trump who are NOT OPPOSED to the 2A.

      All we need to do is to continuously support Trump, and then his successor (probably Pence) loyally, and then remind this faction of the GOP that – THERE – by the grace of gun-owners – goes their political power. They must continuously look for a bone here or there to throw to us. They must beware that any bone they might like to claw-back will have a consequence of withdrawal of our support. “. . . how it can be manipulated to advance their own agenda” is the name-of-the-game.

      1. Something you need to understand about what I believe is, that no one with political power believes in gun rights, if it means people having the ability to resist their power and make it stick.

        I think that with few exceptions, almost no politicians believe in our issue, and it is most used as a “decoy,” an issue that is dependable for taking social conservatives (mostly) over the top and elect them so they can then pursue the agendas they really care about. We have to be the easiest constituency in the country to gull; learn a little rap about “enforce existing laws” and “get tough on crime” and we’ll proclaim any politician a reincarnation of James Madison.

        Only for a hypothetical, watch a “resistance movement” take out a few Trumpkin autocrats, and you’ll see how fast it is discovered that what the constitution really means is, that only right-thinking and appropriately patriotic people have the right to possess guns.

        I stopped buying the “stand by us for just a few more years/sessions/administrations” argument years ago. Decades ago, actually.

  11. Whetherman, “no one with political power believes in gun rights”; alas, this is so true that it goes without saying. Nevertheless, such things do need to be repeated to remind us all of the way politics works.

    Yet, we need not despair. Ironically, we have one HUGE advantage that most other petitioners for redress of grievance lack. We do NOT ask for MONEY! Nor do we ask to gore anyone else’s financial ox. Can you thing of any/many issues that share this advantage?

    Congress-critters can continue to sell their votes to the highest bidder knowing that a billion dollars for this boondoggle is a billion not available for that boondoggle. They can win and keep our votes so long as they don’t hurt the 2A and so long as they move a little legislation along that helps the 2A a bit. We PotG are a “cheap date”.

    Even so, we need to exercise our strength. Our organizations (NRA, GOA, SAF, et al.) need to remind the President’s political advisors and key Congress-critters that the 2A is a third-rail. They touch it at their peril. We expect them to do something every year to move things along. If they fail to do so then we will look for our opportunities to “primary” RINOs who are weak to replace them with defenders of the 2A.

    The Republican leadership won’t like our threats. They want to keep their hands on the controls of power so they can continue to sell their votes to the highest bidders. They should recognize that they must whip the Republican caucuses into doing the right thing for the 2A (occasionally) and never doing the wrong thing. If they behave, we will continue to vote Republican.

    Our problem, as PotG, is that we need to coalesce. There is a Congressional district somewhere; a State somewhere; that is not mine or yours or the next fellow’s. In this District there is a RINO who is weak AND another Republican who is strong enough to be a contender. This other Republican doesn’t need to be pro-gun; he just needs to be anti-Establishment; someone who won’t go along with the leadership. A Cruz or a Paul. If we – in 50 States – pool our $10 each, we could run that other Republican and knock-out the RINO. Even if we failed, the RINO was nominated, it would weaken him for the General election and the Democrat might win. The GOP Establishment would have to pump money into this particular campaign to defend their RINO. Why? Because they pissed-off the PotG in all 50 States. We don’t need to target the RINO because he voted against guns; he might have no gun record at all (didn’t appear to vote on any gun issue). He might even have voted pro-gun in cases that proved inconsequential. This target – in particular – doesn’t matter. What matters is that we PotG behave in a politically-EFFECTIVE way to threaten the GOP Establishment.

    Life was so much easier in the days of the Dixie-crats. The PotG could count on many Democrats to defend the 2A. We need to keep the eyes in the backs of our heads open for Democrats we could support. By way of illustration, Sheriff David Clarke who ran as a Democrat. Suppose we PotG in all 50 States got behind Clarke in a possible Senate race? Suppose we made a successful threat against the WI Democrat party’s Establishment candidate? Suppose Clarke won as a Democrat. That would threaten the Republican majority in the Senate. There won’t be many such opportunities; yet, if there is just one we can open a fissure in the Blue-wall of Gun-Control. It should not be hard to teach a few Democrat Congress-critters that there is no percentage in showing up to vote against gun-rights. There is so much work to do back home in constituent outreach to allow them to be in DC for every vote.

    It is in this way that we – every 2 years – will “take-out” enough victims of our wrath that the GOP Establishment takes us seriously.

    The Establishment – of any party – is only too happy to persuade any faction that politics is futile. Save your energy; stay home on election day. Your vote won’t count. We PotG are the perfect mentality to fall to such persuasion.

    It was something of a miracle – or a perfect storm if you prefer – that got the PotG to coalesce with populists, pro-life, anti-corruption and other factions to elect a Republican (with a NYC carry permit) to the White-House. If any one of the segments of this coalition losses faith (PotG, manufacturing workers, energy workers, pro-lifers, anti-corruption voters) then the Trump coalition will lose its majority. The Democrats will only too cheerfully resume power because they don’t care about conflicts in ideology among their sub-sects. The Democrats care about winning and winning only. After the Muslims and LGBTQ, Pro-Choice, Open-Boarders, Minimum-Wagers, etc. are in control of government they will figure out whether to establish Shira law or forbid heterosexual marriage.

    1. A good and thoughtful essay, but:

      “The Democrats care about winning and winning only…”

      I have to ask, that makes them different from Republicans, exactly how?

      I don’t want to digress from our main issue, but, I’m old enough to remember when being anti-protectionist was part of conservative (Republican) Scripture. Outfits like the Heritage Foundation were both authors and keepers of that Scripture.

      I don’t know exactly when the change took place, but it appears to me the moment Trump’s populist, protectionist rhetoric was detected getting political traction, those passages from Conservative Economic Scripture got scrubbed. Voices criticizing his offhand proposals for tariffs on foreign imports were few and muted, and ironically, often coming from the other side — the other side of course themselves arguing only from political motivation. To the best of my knowledge, nary a word of criticism coming from the Heritage Foundation, once (1980s?) a keeper of the anti-protectionist economic wisdom. I don’t hear Bastiat or Hazlitt being quoted all that much in the Trump camp.

      The man in power always defines his faction’s ideology.

  12. Wetherman, “. . . that makes them different from Republicans, exactly how?”

    At the substantial risk of oversimplifying, there are two kinds of political players:
    – Men of principle; and,
    – Men of principal.

    Two men of principle will coalesce when they find that their principles coincide – almost perfectly – on every point. One notable difference and they will perceive one another as in competition. Their adherence to their principles will prevent them from winning by combining resources.

    Men of principal care only about getting-the-gold; it’s all about the principal. Once they get the gold they will fight among one-another as to how to divide it. Even how to cut one or many out of splitting the pot.

    Every politician runs for office with the expectation that if he can be re-elected then he will gain more power. Each politician will run in a constituency where he expects his prior rhetoric is likely to be well-received. We can’t expect to find competent people with principles willing to make their fortunes in this business of politics.

    What we can do is loosen our grip on some of our principles so that we can bind together with others who might be able to do likewise. In so doing, such a coalition has a better chance of influencing whatever politician who may be relatively amenable to advance their mutual interests.

    As to protectionism, I agree. (I studied economics at the BA and MA level. There is pretty much a consensus that tariffs, quotas and the like are bad in principle and bad in practice.) OK, so, in principle I’m against Trump’s protectionism. Nevertheless, I think his bark is largely for show – to improve his negotiating position. And, to maintain his populist base. I doubt that his bite is nearly as nasty as he’d like everyone to believe. I’m willing to compromise my principle on protectionism to maintain a 2A+labor coalition to keep Trump in power.

    Will Trump destroy the economy with protectionism? I don’t think so; and, therefore, I’m willing to take that chance.

    Flip through the factions in the Trump coalition. I’m sure that you can’t abide fellowship with one faction. Are there 2 such factions with which you are unwilling to collaborate? Are there 3?

    Look among those sub-factions of the Right-to-Arms faction. NRA members; GOA members; SAF members; NAGAR members. So many of we PotG will have no fellowship with anyone who is a member of any group not their own.

    Compare ourselves and the members of the Trump coalition to the ability of the Democrats to close-ranks. After Bernie got the shaft from Hillary, Bernie came out and backed Hilary to the hilt. As factionalized as the Democrats are, they unite in claiming that every Republican is beyond the pale. Radical jihadis will march arm-in-arm with LGBTQs in solidarity. (They each think that they will prevail against the other after victory is achieved. Jihadis will throw the LGBTQs off-the-tall building; the latter will lower themselves safely to the ground on their rainbow boas.) One thing is clear to the Democrats. We, the Deplorables of all stripes, will be dispatched to re-education camps at the barrel of the state’s righteous gun.

    So, that’s how I see it. If we can’t coalesce around the ballot-box we will do so around the cartridge box. Gen. Sherman taught us how expensive that course will be. So, let’s do what we can to meet and compromise our principles at the ballot-box.

    1. “NRA members; GOA members; SAF members; NAGAR…

      Here is how I classify those organizations, though their members aren’t necessarily defined by the organizations they belong to; we have all been dupes and useful idiots at some time.

      The NRA: An outstanding shooting sports organization that politically seems to be moving into the GOA category; for which the description is below. (E.g., why did they rush to endorse Trump, who had no detectable pro-gun credentials beyond at least one carry permit he probably purchased, and sons who like hunting — which indicates nothing whatsoever?)

      GOA: A Dominionist Christian front organization that uses gun rights for a decoy; if you watch, they can turn any Religious Right candidate with established bona fides as anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, etc., into a sterling pro-gun hero. (E.g., they made a special road-trip to campaign for Lou Barletta, who as mayor of Hazleton had never done anything for gun rights, but had promulgated anti-immigrant ordinances sufficiently bad to be declared unconstitutional by the SCOTUS — which is what got him elected to congress.)

      SAF: Part of the Gottlieb causes-for-profit empire, that is non-profit while routing its services business to Gottlieb’s for profit businesses. Every now and then it files a lawsuit as a fundraiser, that accidentally accomplishes something; other times, they files suits that are poorly strategized, and dangerous.

      NAGR: Another Dominionist Christian front, made up of people who once were tight with GOA but later fell out; possibly there was a theological/factional difference but if so I don’t know it. Front men are Mike Rothfeld and Dudley Brown. Both are email fundraisers par excellence. Don’t leave your email address alone near them. Rothfeld is also a principal of Campaign for Liberty (C4L), and made really big personal bucks off the Rand Paul presidential campaign. Paul had an email account on NAGR’s servers, even before his campaign started.

      Here’s what “principles” are: They are something people like that invent to get you and me to give up a lot of our money and a little of our power in return for the bait of an idea; their “principles” are so much more polished than ours, you see.

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