I’m always surprised by how many people think the political process involves Very Smart People of good faith gathering ’round the table to try to solve the problems of the people. They are often shocked and dismayed when the actual process is explained to them, “That’s just not how it should work. Everyone should work together in good faith.”
Usually those folks have had zero or very minimal involvement in civic society. There’s nothing quite as eye opening as being involved with an organization that is run by committee. I’ve been either directly or peripherally involved in organizations like that since I was a teen, and so were my parents, and their parents before them. Decisions don’t come about because Very Smart People work together and problem solve, decisions come about by managing personalities and their interests. Even when the organization has leaders that are effective at managing those things, decisions are usually very suboptimal.
For example, very recently at my club we had the clubhouse repainted in a very drab, neutral color, without any accent coloring. It needed to be done to protect the building. But why not do an accent scheme that really makes it pop? Have you ever tried to get a body of people to agree on a color scheme? Drab doesn’t offend anyone, and no one has strong opinions one way or another.
So I get tired of people who say, “Why don’t you get in there and write some good legislation if you know so much about this?” Are you fucking kidding? I’m not jumping into that shit show unless you force me into it. Â I’m not conceding anything because “it’s the right thing to do.” People who approach democratic institutions with that attitude get eaten alive. That’s not to say I’m not willing to trade or make deals: that’s how things get done in a democratic body. But why would I concede something I don’t have to? Because it’s the right thing to do? Please. Any time you hear a politician talking that language, they’re blowing smoke up your ass. They know better, and are hoping you don’t.
It is with this in mind we approach the issue of bump stocks, which The Daily Beast is reporting is effectively stalled out in Congress. NRA needed to buy time, and kicking the issue over to ATF for a bit accomplished that. In the mean time, bills were introduced that predictably banned much more than bump stocks, and instead focused on any parts or modifications that affected the rate of fire, which includes nearly anything you can put in a semi-automatic firearm. Can a match trigger let me shoot faster? Sure it can. That might not be its intent, but it can. Can a lighter bolt carrier make the action of a semi-automatic cycle faster, theoretically increasing the rate of fire? Absolutely. These kinds of modifications are common, and while they are aimed at accuracy, they do incidentally affect the “rate of fire,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean in something that isn’t a machine gun.
So why not just jump in and give them better language? Because I’m not a damned fool and neither is the NRA. I’m not going to preemptively trade something because it’s “the right thing to do,” I’m going to trade for something else I want. And what if I can still get what I want without having to trade anything? I’ll do that too, and hold onto the bargaining chip because it might be useful at a later date.
On the other side of the argument are the folks on our side who think just shouting “no” very loudly is a legislative strategy. How much impact do you think Ron Paul had on the overall direction of Congress? Because that’s effectively what he did for his whole career. People who do that in deliberative bodies get ignored, and worked around. For these people, the question is this: would you rather sulk in the corner and take solace in the fact that you believe you’re right and righteous as you lose one thing after another, or do you want to actually play the game and win? The latter is what you’re seeing now.