Thursday, January 08, 2015

All We Are Saying Is Give Appease A Chance

Let us take a look into a fairly reliable crystal ball I like to call history and see what will happen if we choose appeasement by supporting "universal" background checks in exchange for other concessions...

Let us assume we can get some modest gains in exchange for supporting some sort of "universal" background check. National CCW reciprocity is most likely, and perhaps another bone or two, such as suppressors or short barreled long guns being removed from the NFA,  It's possible we could see some sort of "restoration of Rights" process for non-violent offenders. There will of course be a provision that makes a federal database of guns illegal, as well as exemptions for family and spouses. It would likely only apply to sales or long term loans, gifts and trades. The devil being in the details it's no use to speculate about all the possibilities so let's just go with something general for this discussion.

So we support "universal" background checks at the national level. What then?

In 2 to 5 years the anti's will start complaining that the "universal" background checks aren't effective, and reform is needed. "Close the loopholes" will be the cry, even though there aren't any actual loopholes to close. It'll be a signal for a more stringent implementation of the idea that every transfer of a firearm be state approved, and you, I, & little Timmy down the street all know that there's no way to accomplish their purported goals without a centralized data base of guns and gun owners. We also know that their method - restricting the Right to arms - won't ever accomplish their stated goals - reducing gun violence. So they'll bemoan any area not left heavily restricted and claim that lack of restriction, rather than human nature, is why they haven't been able to usher in that gun violence free utopia they promise if we just do it again, only harder.

Oh we'll argue, at least I'm sure some of us would argue, that making things harder on "law abiding gun owners" wouldn't address the problems they claim it would, but then someone will trot out polls. "70% to 95% of the public want to close the loopholes" they'll invariably say. And a segment, possibly an influential segment of gunowners or gunowner groups will cave, proclaiming as they did the last time that we cant fight public opinion and we have to support this or else it'll be worse.

Oh, that bit of law saying that a database is off limits? Would that be the same sort of thing that keeps the federal tax agency from using its power against political enemies of the administration? Or the kind of rule that makes government agencies back up communications in case congress ever asks for them during an investigation? Or that keeps the federal gun police from smuggling weapons to foreign drug cartels to use as propaganda to increase its power and budget and the number of laws it wants to enforce? Or the type of provision that keeps the federal government from hacking into a journalists computer when that journalist is digging too deep into government abuse of power?

I have no concrete proof but given what I know of the nature of humans and government I'm fairly damn certain that at this moment there is a data storage device of some sort with records of every transaction that has went through the NICS along with all the information from form 4473's that have been handed over to government. It may be illegal and it may cost someone their job, or at least a 2 week suspension with pay, but it would seem illogical to conclude otherwise.

Therefore expanding background checks to include private and non retail transfers of firearms would add to that illegal database even if it's forbidden by law to exist in the first damn place.

That national reciprocity for CCW holders would also add to the information in that database that exists despite the laws prohibiting it. If not included as part of the initial deal, at some point someone would suggest having states share their CCW holder info to a central database to be accessed by law enforcement when checking the validity of someone's permit to protect law abiding gun owners of course.. This is why I think that after some ceremonial protestation that the anti's would agree to nationwide CCW reciprocity - it'd further their ultimate goals to have all CCW holders in a central database.

As an aside, I predict that with national reciprocity of CCW permits, it'll make it even more difficult than it is now to enact constitutional carry or even permitless carry laws. It will effectively cement the notion that the Right to carry is to be treated as a privilege, and provide more incentive for governments to claim they have the power to regulate our Rights. 

When the anti's start craving more - and they will, they always do - we will have eroded our base. Not our political base or our demographic base, but the principles upon which we fought gunowner control laws in the first place. We would have already cede that owning a firearm isn't a Right, that it was subject to governmental approval and therefore no more than a privilege or entitlement. As sappy as it sounds, having a sound principle upon which to justify your actions is important. Without it we're just squabbling over things we want with no objective determination as to what we want or why we want it. Not only does it weaken our will to fight and scatter us when we might gain strength from a unified purpose, but it gives ammunition to our enemies. If you don't think the anti's will use that against us, then I have a "Greedo Shot First" shirt I bet would look good on you.

In the mid 1990's the NRA caved on background checks. By the turn of the century they were clamoring to "close the gunshow loophole". A few states did. I see no indication that 2 to 5 years after gunowners cave on "universal" background checks that they won't be demanding more.

Remember, incrementalism is their strategy. It works for them because they want to take something from us. It works for them because they are inherently weak, attacking a much stronger adversary.  (I'll note that the same strategy won't work for us as we're in a different position with different goals, but hopefully I'll expand on that someday in another post.) They can't use a full on frontal attack because they'd be massacred, so they chip away bit by bit. It's worked for them so far and they'll stick to that strategy. They won't stop and they won't be satisfied until "gunowner" is synonymous with "government".

So they'll come for something else after a "universal" background check bill is passed. What exactly depends on what is included and excluded from this hypothetical compromise, but likely it won't be any of the boons we think we received in exchange. They won't concede anything that they think is important to their overall goals. If they agree to short barreled shotguns and rifles being removed from the NFA (or the NFA process being merged with the NICS system) it won't matter as their goal isn't to keep "dangerous" weapons out of the hands of people, it's to keep all weapons out of the hands of people. Shifting one type to another category isn't a hindrance to them with this current direction they're taking.

So in 2 to 5 years let's say we fight, we really put our foot down and try to keep whatever they want from becoming law. Let's even say that we win. All we've accomplished is a stalling action, as they'll be back the next year and the next. In 7 years let's say they get 1/4 of what they want. In 15 years they'll get the remainder.

In the meantime whatever administration is in power will execute the laws as they see fit. Think Obama gets a little happy with executive orders when it comes to gunowners? Just wait til president Schumer moves to Pennsylvania Avenue. There's an old adage that you should never vote for a law you wouldn't want to see enforced by your worst enemy. In our system our worst enemy could come into power no later than 4 years from any given January. Even if we beat back attempts to expand the expanded background checks, we'd still have to deal with a potentially hostile method of enforcement.

The anti's goal is to eliminate civilian gun ownership. They cannot do this in one fell swoop, not in a head on contest. So their method is to enact barriers piece by piece. In 1938 the feds passed a law prohibiting folks convicted of a violent felony from possessing firearms. In 1968 the feds passed a law prohibiting folks convicted of any felony from possessing firearms. In 1996 the feds passed a law prohibiting folks convicted of certain types of misdemeanors from possessing firearms.  You see where this is headed don't ya?

As long as it doesn't interfere with their overall goal of civilian disarmament they won't mind granting certain concessions to us on the bargaining table. Some of those concessions would even help them further their goals. For example, any "restoration of Rights" process may sound good to us, but they aren't gonna put Gun Owners of America in charge of the paperwork now are they? It'll be agents from the federal gun police.

What will be accomplished after 5 years, or 25 years, is nothing that benefits us. In the short term it may seem that we got something out of the deal, but compared with what it will cost us in the medium and long run, it won't be such a bargain.

Now some of y'all know me, from my writings or even in person. You know damn well I'll never go along with any attempts to support any sort of gunowner control law. Hell, some of y'all likely get a might uncomfortable when I start talking unfavorably of the NRA. If such a compromise is negotiated and they follow through with it, do you think that's going to increase or decrease my support of any associations involved? And not just me - there's a helluva lot of gunowners who to varying degrees don't like gunowner control laws, and are still pissed at the NRA for supporting them back in the '90's.

Folks like me would become even more vocal critics of allegedly pro-gunowner orgs that supported such a compromise. And that would mean that in 2 to 5 years, if the allegedly pro-gunowner orgs did want to fight, we wouldn't trust them. They'd get much less support than they do now, and efforts to stop more gunowner laws would be less effective as we all splintered off into various factions (even more-so than now).

I'd guess at least a tenth if not a much higher percentage of gunowners would stop supporting whatever groups they supported if said groups backed compromise on "universal" background checks. Perhaps it'd give rise to some no-compromise group that could replace the others, but that's not as likely as I'd wish.

A lot of the gun culture as it's called is simply the modern evolution of the Scots-Irish culture. In that culture (or both, if you choose to distinguish betwixt them) certain things are valued; a "from the bottom up" construction of institutions, good whiskey, admiration for leaders who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, a principled foundation to back up arguments, good whiskey, and a disdain for surrender.

I see no way that any allegedly pro-gunowner organization can explain a decision to support an expansion of background checks that will not appear as a surrender from a top-down institution that strays from its supposed principles. Not even copious amounts of very good whiskey could convince all of us that it was the only course of action or even a well intentioned one. They wouldn't lose everyone that supports them; indeed a lot of gunowners seem to think that "they know best" and will go along with whatever is called for by the influential figures in the gunowner community. But they'd lose a considerable portion of their base, and their support, and their revenue. They'd lose some amount of power and influence, making fighting the next round more difficult.

If history is an effective guide, then I am led to conclude that any short term gains made in exchange for support of "universal" background checks will be irrelevant when measured against the harm that it does gunowners in the long run. Not only will it further fracture the community of gunowners, but it will further the goals of our enemies, making it easier for them to achieve their next step while making it more difficult for us to combat such attempts.

Remember, appeasement is for chumps. 

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