May 10, 2013


According to Shall Not Be Questioned, the SAF is backing gun owner control again. The specifics are that while Manchin is trying to drum up support for his and Toomey's universal background check bill, an SAF article is saying it's a mistake to oppose it. The article was in a magazine distributed at the NRA convention last weekend & was print only, so no direct links are available for it.

Alan Gottlieb, who heads the SAF and the CCRKBA, supported the Manchin-Toomey universal background check amendment until a restorative process for non-violent felons was dropped. That he wants to revive it isn't a surprise, as he likely sees something he can get in return, most likely the restoration of gun ownership for non-violent felons, or maybe some sort of national concealed carry law.

But it's quibbling and shouldn't be a shock to anyone. This is part of what compromise is, and this is why pragmatism is bad for gun owners.

It's about the principle, stupid! to paraphrase James Carville. If you lack a solid foundation then whatever you build on top is susceptible to being damaged or obliterated. So when you start off a negotiation based upon a built in concession then you lose. It does not matter what you think you gain at the time, it sets things up for eventual downfall.

When gun owners accept, condone or embrace some types of prior restraint based gun owner control they set themselves up for getting more of that. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of their lives.

A far too common complaint I've heard about the Manchin-Toomey amendment was that gun owners didn't get enough in exchange to make it worthwhile. That kind of perspective will doom us in the future, just as it has hurt us in the past. There is nothing to be gained by trading part of a Right you have for another part of a Right you've been denied. The pragmatists would argue otherwise, but they either misunderstand what they're getting into, or they lack principles beyond whatever is practically beneficial and possible.

Let's say in exchange for Manchin-Toomey they offered to repeal the NFA of '34 and all its respective amendments. If you didn't know, I positively hate the NFA almost as much as I detest the GCA of '68. I think it not only does damage to innocent gun owners but it hampers national defense (Automatic For The Free People is a post of mine that explores that issue a bit more in depth, if you're curious). But even I wouldn't accept that kind of deal.

Pragmatic types would, thinking that it's just an expansion of the background check system and could be worked around and dealt with, and getting a major gun control law off the books would benefit us more than what we'd lose (That is assuming you'd find some prags who wanted the NFA repealed. There are a few but not too many). But in doing so they'd have agreed to the premise that our Rights are negotiable; that what we'll accept is a matter of degrees and with the right bargaining chips we'd trade a bunch of things for some other things. The other side would merely work on the chinks in our pragmatic armor until they found a soft spot.

Taking a principled approach, that any prior restraint based gun owner control is unacceptable - even what laws are already in effect - is a heinous imposition upon our freedoms is a much more difficult position to tear down. If done correctly there aren't any chinks in the logical armor as it's not a self contradicting position, and the enemy has to resort to other tactics (which they'd use anyway but aren't as effective when we're not helping their efforts).

Getting non-violent felons off the prohibited persons list would be beneficial to us. Not because it'd put us less at risk for being denied our Right to own and carry weapons completely (though it would do that) but because it'd be resuming partial recognition of a Right that has been impaired for far too long. It'd be a step towards doing away with prohibited categories altogether and eventually eliminating background checks. But as cool as it'd be it's not worth ceding another chunk of our Right.

Gottlieb likely is too blinded by the pragmatic allure of getting non-violent felons out of the permanent penalty box so to speak. It's understandable in a few ways, but it's also wrong, and damaging. He's looking at this as a way to advance part of our cause and fails to see the overall expense it'd have.

If he is successful in reviving Manchin-Toomey in exchange for restoration of Rights for non-violent felons (which I speculate is his main motivation though I could be wrong) then we won't be able to stand behind the idea of it being a Natural, Fundamental Right. You don't' bargain with Rights, after all, no matter how politically opportune it may seem at the time. You do bargain with a privilege, which is what most folks in government act like the Right to own and carry weapons is.

In the long term, if we treat a Right like a privilege eventually it'll become no more than a privilege.

A lot of people in the gun owner Rights movement try to be clever about "strategy". They reason that politics is the art of the possible and worry about PR so they set their goals accordingly and usually end up outsmarting themselves. In doing so they actually help the enemy they're trying to fight in the long run, by giving the enemy the same moral footing as they have, which is none. They reduce themselves to the enemy's level and then it's just a slug fest of sorts, seeing who can out maneuver the other.

As the saying goes, never try to out-democrat a democrat.

In essence that's what this is - Gottlieb and those that support him on this think they can craft a deal that's more advantageous to us than it is to the enemy. They'd call that a win.

I just did a quick search of the database though and I cannot find one single instance where I even implied that Gottlieb, Lapierre, The Pope or anyone short of God His-or-Herself had my leave to bargain with my Rights in whole or part. I'll gladly take their help in defending my Rights, and I'll even help them in their efforts to defend my Rights, but they do not have my permission, approval, endorsement or blessing to divide my Right to own and carry weapon into poker chips to be used for a congressional round of 5 card draw.

If they end up trading one of those poker chips that my Right has been carved into, then they've lost. It's just a question of seeing how long they can hold onto a certain number of chips. But in the end the House always wins so the outcome is a matter of time, not skill or chance or luck. What they'd view as a win would be a loss. and not just any loss, but mine.

Even sitting down at the table as they deal out the cards is wrong as hell. The best thing to do is to stand back from the table, claim alumni-ship in Gamblaholics Anonymous and tell them point blank that my Rights aren't up for negotiation; in fact too much of it has been ceded, and would they give it back nicely or are we gonna have to get all 1775 about things.

If we fight and lose, then we fight and lose. Such things happen and are entirely possible. But fighting is a lot different than negotiating. Mounting a defense and/or counter-attacking is a lot different from retreating. And standing up for a principle is a lot different than haggling over a privilege.

The principle we must espouse, the only way we can actually have victory (which we haven't came close to yet) is and end to all forms of prior restraint based gun owner control, because they're harmful to an important segment of Property Rights. Anything short of that gives our enemy too much of a grasp on the rug we're standing on.

An imposition on a Right - any part of that Right - is immoral. By sitting down at the negotiating table we're passing up the chance to call out our enemy's immorality. That's like sitting down at dinner with a child molester to discuss how many houses down from you & your kids he can live, instead of kicking his ass out of the neighborhood when he rings the damn doorbell. After you let him in and serve him you've given up the chance to call him out as an immoral and evil actor; instead you've accepted him and his premise as equal to your own. So you're just haggling at that point. The devil certainly lives at the bargaining table, cause no matter how it turns out he wins.

Gun owners have to stop indulging our enemies. We have to fight, not to gain privilege or delay what some claim is inevitable, but to protect our Rights. And let me emphasize this once again - this is my Right we're talking about. It's yours too, and just as I cannot bargain away your Right for some magic beans and promise of a fair system when our enemy's write the laws in question, no one has leave to gamble away any part of mine.

If Gottlieb, or anyone else wishes to support further imposition on my Right, then they've become the enemy they claimed to be fighting on my behalf.

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