April 18, 2013

Victory You Say?

So Reid has shelved the gun control package after not securing enough votes to pass a background check amendment, or any other gun owner control amendments. Obama and his companions are visibly upset, blaming the nefarious "gun lobby" for interfering with their agenda. Some gun owners are reveling in this, seeing it as a decisive rebuke of the gun owner control movement, and a victory for our side.

Victory? Victory you say?

Not victory.

The "assault weapons" ban and a magazine capacity limit received less than 50 votes. Some apparent pro gun owner proposals attained a simple majority. Two seeming pro gun owner amendments garnered super-majority support. The rest of the gun owner control proposals attained a simple majority, though not enough to overcome the 60 vote threshold.

But the overall bill has been set aside. It can be brought back to the floor at any time, though likely it won't be touched unless there's a chance of gathering 60 votes to pass any amendments as well as the overall bill.

That the enemy did not win outright does not mean we won.

What we did was hold the line. We kept from being pushed back into the sea, but we did that from the beach. We did not advance inland, we merely stopped the enemy's advance. For now.

We did suffer losses. That there was even a debate about further impositions on gun owners was a point for their side. Think about this; we discussed whether or not our culture should be diminished. We allowed that to be a legitimate topic of conversation. That subject should have never been allowed the legitimacy of debate. Yet in the senate of the united States that's exactly what happened - we talked about what level of diminishment of our culture would be acceptable to us. That no action was taken may seem like a win, but in the long run this is all about the premise, and we once again sat down at a table to negotiate our own demise.

A simple majority in the senate would have been enough to pass some of the anti gun owner proposals. Think about that; over 50% of the senate was okay with further restricting the Right to arms. That they didn't win outright was only because we used procedural maneuvers to require more than a simple majority to approve of something.

But that it was even up for a vote should be disconcerting.

In the past the anti gun owners have gained the initiative, and in the 1990's our reaction was to accept as inevitable some form of gun owner control and try to mitigate the effects. Appeasement in other words. Well appeasement doesn't start with saying "let's make a deal", it starts with accepting that we cannot advance and we will be pushed back. That perspective leads to the deal making forays that some of us decry so loudly.

Have you stopped beating your wife? Hopefully y'all are aware of that example of a loaded question. A yes or no answer is equally damning as you'd concede that at some point you had in fact beat your wife. Well, having a debate on what form the destructor will take is just as fallacious and damaging.

Y'all are opposed to slavery right? I presume no one who may read this thinks it's okay to own another human being. I think I can safely extend that presumption to a vast majority of Americans. But would you not be outraged if a ballot question showed up that asked for a yes or no vote on re-instituting slavery? Even if you were certain that 99.9% of voters would vote no, wouldn't the mere fact that such a question was asked strike you as wrong?

Well what happened in the senate was wrong. It's happened before, and with worse results (the NFA of '34, the GCA of '68, the "assault weapons" ban, the Lautenberg amendment, etc.) but the problem is not whether we can garner enough opposition to keep gun owner control bills from passing, it's that we've been treating this as a legitimate question. By responding at all we've ceded ground to the enemy.

Our list of allies grows thin.

We lost some allies. Cheaper Than Dirt and Alan Gottlieb came out in favor of appeasement and compromise. I figured GOA would stand firm, and it seems to my surprise that the NRA held the line as well. But having two of our allies, one of whom that's deeply involved in some previously good gun owner groups, take up the enemy's position will hurt us in the long run. I no longer trust Gottlieb or the Second Amendment Foundation or the Citizens Committee on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Manchin and Toomey were both seen as at least moderately pro gun owner before this bill came about, and their proposals on a compromise became known. Now we can't rely on them. While not a crushing blow it's still a setback for our side, as we could use all the solid supporters we can get. That we'll have to try to replace them not only expends more of our resources, but provides less deterrent to them going totally over to the other side.

A victory you say?

This setback did not stop the enemy. This merely redirected the enemy's efforts. Action at the federal level seems unattainable at the moment, but that does not mean it never will be possible to rally 60 votes for our destruction. I'm certain the next even where an evil act involved guns and the loss of innocent life that they'll renew their push.

Meanwhile they'll use other means to achieve their ends. Action at the state level will continue where they think it's possible. I eventually expect Obama to flex his muscles with executive orders, which could be very damaging to the markets we rely on. They'll try to purge any pro gun owner democrats they can with primaries, and there'll be a hard push in the 2014 elections to retake the house as well as maintain the senate. I fear blue dogs are an endangered species if Obama, Bloomberg, et al get their way.

Even if they don't accomplish anything directly, they can wait us out. In a year or ten they can always renew their attempts. This is because, aside from a few court cases that yielded somewhat positive results and one repeal of an executive order, we do not try to gain any ground. In fact we help the enemy dig their fortifications.

"Enforce the laws on the books". That has been the first retort to any calls for more gun owner control. That concession ensures that we're not going after any gun owner control laws that are already established. It means we will not advance, and that we've conceded that some prior restraint based gun owner control is not only acceptable but desirable. It's a mistake that will keep costing us as it has.

The laws currently enacted are unconstitutional. They impose upon a fundamental natural Right when they punish or prohibit mere possession or portage. When anyone calls for vigorous enforcement of these laws, they're supporting gun owner control. That gives ground to the enemy, and makes any real gains on our part more difficult than it already is. It's one of my biggest problems with the NRA, because how can we move for a repeal of a law when they've been championing its enforcement since their inception? How can we even begin to sway public opinion toward our side when we've been condoning such laws for decades? That the NRA is taking somewhat of an absolutist stance these past few months is encouraging, but they have to overcome many, many years of being in favor of at least some gun owner control before I can count them firmly in the "allies" list.

No, we did not have a victory. We did not gain any ground. We did not lose any ground pragmatically, but we did lose the same ground we always lose, which is accepting that "how much can we impose upon your Rights?" is a valid question. When we legitimize the premise that the gun culture should not be protected, we lose.

"Victory? Victory, you say? Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has!"

Those words, from a diminutive Jedi Master correct someone when they see things only in the short term. While Yoda is a fictional character from a fictional galaxy dealing with a fictional storyline, that does not negate the applicability of his reasoning; that what seems like a victory right now may in fact be simply the opening salvo in a war that has an uncertain outcome.

To put things further in context, as I type this I'm taking a break from scrounging for magazines. I moved here years ago partly because the political climate was more friendly to gun owners than all but a handful of states. It was not perfect by any means, but I'd contend it was no less than fifth out of fifty when it came to a respect for my Right to weapons. Now, I'm juggling finances, rearranging priorities and scanning retailers for sign of magazines I find useful, because in a few months I will not be able to buy them while I remain here. Further, after a certain date, if I let someone handle my weapons I may be breaking the law, and letting them handle my magazines will certainly be breaking the law.

So no; from my perspective I see no victories at present. I see some states making progress towards winning a battle here and there, but overall the culture war has not gone in our favor politically. Our numbers have grown, and that's a very bright side, but until we start winning on the legal front I can claim no victory, and in fact can count some losses.

We did hold the line, pragmatically and in the short term. But we ceded ground (by treating their premise as legitimate and merely arguing degrees) and did not make any gains, not even in the short term. I fear this was just part of the beginning, and the battles will escalate as this war progresses. Being as optimistic as I can, I count this as a tie between the Gun culture and the Eloi culture. Nothing more, and possibly a bit less.

Remember, while we won't have a universal background check law that passes the senate today, that's no guarantee that a deal won't be reached next week or next month or next year. And come July, I'll be living under a universal background check law no matter what the feds do.

When prior restraint gun control laws are not only repealed but derided as a point of discussion, then I'll see a victory. Until then we have a very long hard fight ahead of us, on many fronts and with no certain outcome. Relax for a while if you can, but don't stray too far from your trenches. And think of ways for us to go over the top - no war has ever been won by forsaking offense.

Posted by Publicola at April 18, 2013 11:25 PM | TrackBack

Obama himself said that this was only the first round. It is not often that I agree with the Communist-in-Chief but this time I do. They will be back at a more convenient time.
Don't forget the Boston bombing was our fault.

Posted by: harp1034 at April 19, 2013 02:42 PM

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