Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Creeping Up On Incrementalism

Regular commenter (and fellow Colorado resident) Publicola makes some really important points in his comments on yesterday's post. He notes that, in fact, we're all not on the same page when it comes to gun "we" I mean those of us who are considered "activist," e.g., the crazy uncles and aunts in the closet, and others who consider themselves "Conservatives," maybe even Republicans. Here's a bit, but read the whole thing:
Point is though, most Republicans & quite a few allegedly pro-gun folks would balk if you suggested anything too radical, like not requiring permits or background checks. Remember, incrementalism works for the other side because government naturally wants us disarmed, so few if any members of government want to take away governments ability to disarm the undesirables when they feel it's time to disarm them.
Publicola is dead-on. Which is why we miraculously seem to disappear after every election, especially those elections where we "go to the mattresses" for the Republicans. Which is why there never seems to be a pro-gun agenda, specific actions we expect our elected officials to perform in exchange for our unconditional support.

I agree with Publicola that the program he or I might prefer — the elimination of any and all impediments to the exercise of our Second Amendment rights — simply won't fly right now. However, I DO believe in "incrementalism," the working tool of the Left. Too often we eschew incrementalism, opting instead for some kind of cultural purity. I believe the reason the concealed carry revolution — and it is a revolution — succeeded is because for most of its life it flew under the radar. Not only were our blood enemies unaware of the size of the wave, but I think for the most part our allies also had no idea until it was too late to do anything but "get on the bus."

I will take whatever I can get...period. That's why I think it's so important to put some kind of agenda out there. If I may quote legendary romance writer Nora Roberts, "If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.” Sound familiar?

The first 3 items — reciprocity, gun owner protection and minor modifications of the NFA — should be slam-dunks. Yes, the usual scumbags will howl...ah, Shannon Watts, you bellowing harpie!...but it will allow us to put something on the scoreboard at a national level. Let the Great Fool veto it...then put it in front of him and let him veto it again...then attach each of the agenda items to an important funding bill, a la the "guns in national parks" bill...if we keep chipping, we'll get what we want. If we don't, we'll get another "More Funding For Wetlands" bill with a bunch of jerk-off Republicans patting themselves on the back for standing beside duck hunters everywhere. Hey...I've been in Washington and actually seen that happen (my ill-fated "Daffy Duck" speech)...and it will happen again if we don't make it clear that we do not give a DAMN about feel-good crap bills about ducks. It is all about GUNS & RIGHTS, boys and girls!



clark myers said...

We need more incrementalism at the state and local levels. One of the reasons open carry stayed under the radar was that it was a local movement repeated offering no national publicity to the gun grabbers and the prospect of a local loss for opposing it.

Gun Owners Action League had such success as was possible in Massachusetts and Marion Hammer did well in Florida " "When she says it, you know she means it, and you know her word is golden." Jeb Bush.

People look too much to the NRA which can't help creating some of its own opposition from fools and SJW types. Local first then state then national and finally international.

alfsauve said...

At the same time, I think there should be a credible group who says the starting point is to repeal:

Then compromise by saying, okay, meet us half way. (for now)

George said...

I learned this from a documentary on Ralph Nader. In that film, Larry O'Donnell mentions Democrats had become complacent about specific groups because they knew they would vote Dem no matter what. He said, "You must show them [major political party] you are capable of NOT voting for them."

This is what we must do if we are going to get the Republican's attention. Otherwise, it's going to be more of the same.

Publicola said...

Damn character limits. lol I'll send you an email with the full text of what I was going to leave here. In the meantime, I'll try for a brief summation.

I disagree with an incremental approach. It works for the other side because the other side is in a much different situation than we are. For us it is not the most efficient means of achieving our goals & is dangerous, as it erodes the principles that our goals are based on. (for example, folks confusing the Right to carry with getting a permit)

It's true, if a vote on straight out repeal were held tomorrow, most folks who vote against. But that's not an excuse to cede any ground.

Education is the answer. Informing people how prior restraint gun control laws do more harm than good, on a pragmatic as well as principle level, will eventually make repeal of most if not all gunowner control laws possible. We just have to start shouting from the rooftops & whispering in ears. & not just directing our message at republicans or dems or the proverbial low information voter, but at pro gun groups as well, as some pro gun groups have been the stiffest opposition to repeal of certain laws.

On the state level, Constitutional Carry is as good a place as any to start. Nationally I think chipping away at the prohibited persons list is possible, with the goal of eliminating it entirely. But again, we not only have to convince fence sitters & fight the anti's, we have to convince (& possibly fight) pro gun groups as well. Not easy, & in the short term victories will be scant, but in the long run it's the only way we can hope to see recognition of a Right, instead of just hoping for a minor boon to a privilege.

Unknown said...

Could you write up some more specifics for your 3 items. I agree with them all. A minor point would be to get concealed carry, or open carry legal in POST OFFICES! Not a "sensitive area". And getting the "only in your home state" prohibition on buying handguns. That would immediately help DC occupants. I think the RINO's are going to control Congress and we need to get what we can out of them. Who knows what will happen by 2016.

Vince Warde said...

In the past, the other side usually got a lot of what they wanted, and we got very little of what we wanted. We are now in a position to reverse that.

First, I have to agree with others, including Allen Gottlieb, who believe that we are extremely vulnerable on the issue of background checks. As long as this issue is "in play" we face the danger of horrible provisions being "piggy backed" onto such laws. This is especially true in states where initiative measures can be qualified and supported with millions from Bloomberg and friends. The best way for us to take this issue out of play and stop Bloomberg in his tracks is for us to support a simple expansion of the current NICS system to private sales. If we do not do this, Bloomberg will qualify and pass I-594 in 20-25 states in 2016, massively outspend us and win. The audio link below, from the Gun Rights Policy Conference discusses this in the second half of the recording.

Now, please understand, that I am not suggesting we give the other side a gift - because in addition to the NICS expansion, we can and should include most if not all the things Michael is suggesting. In addition, since we would be creating a uniform national system, the bill should preempt all state laws regulating the purchase, ownership and transfer of firearms. In other words, the bill would be a net win for us - both stopping Bloomberg AND rolling back a ton of bad gun laws. I say put such a bill on Obama's desk and let him sign of veto it. Either way, we win.

Publicola said...

Vince, with all due respect, not just no, but hell no.

A background check system inherently serves as a registration system. Extending it to private transactions would give us de facto firearm registration.

Gottlieb has done a lot of wonderful things for gunowners. This Chamberlain impression ain't one of them. Preemptive surrender is not a good negotiating tactic, especially when it erodes the basis of all your other efforts.

Owning & carrying weapons is a Right. It is not legitimately contingent on government (or anybody's) approval. By ceding that bit of ground we'd give up any notion of weapons ownership being a Right, & instead be reduced to begging "please sir, I want some more" for any little thing we might attempt. It would reduce the Right to the status of a privilege, & there's been too much of that already.

Pragmatically, do you really want the feds knowing who has what weapons? Think they'll be choir boys with angels at the G6 pay grade & above? No danger of a Lois Lerner doppelganger in charge of that database?

No, it'd be giving the anti's the best gift ever. No matter what we'd barter for now, in the long run they'd win & we'd lose.

We can beat bloomie the hut, but not by surrendering whilst telling ourselves we're being shrewd. What we have to do is educate. Explain what the consequences are of "expanded" or "universal" background checks. Point out the harm caused by the prohibited persons list.

But even if defeat is inevitable (which I don't think is our situation) it'd be much better to fight, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because not fighting this bit of evil would be the wrong thing to do.

Vince Warde said...

Sadly, I understand the opposition - but it makes absolutely no difference. Trying to oppose Bloomberg head on is EXACTLY what he wants. Please take a good long look at what just happened in Washington. The NRA opposed 594, and so did CCRKBA. The used social media. They urged members to talk to friends and neighbors and they TRIED to buying TV and Radio time. In the end, the other side won by nearly 20%.

Why did they win? Well, the news media almost all lied about what was in the initiative. They kept saying that gun rights groups were wrong, that it was a simple extension of current background checks. In other words, they were in the tank for Bloomberg. As far as paid media, they spent somewhere north of 10 million dollars. That was enough money to buy virtually all the available air time. When the NRA and CCRKBA tried to buy air time, they were often told, "It's all been sold."

Then there is the hard fact that most people in America believe that no one should be able to buy a gun without a background check. Sorry - that's what most people believe, and you are unlikely to change their minds. They won't write their Congressman about it - but put it on the ballot and they WILL VOTE FOR IT. In fact the reduction in 594 support from 80% to 60% was not because people were convinced that background checks are not needed - in was because they learned that I-594 was about much more than background checks.

Consider this - and this should be sobering news for all gun rights supporters - only 20 years ago, we defeated Tom Foley because he voted for the federal assault weapons ban. He was the first sitting speaker to be defeated since 1862! The bad news? His old district voted overwhelmingly for I-594. Yep, that means that many gun owners were duped into voting their rights away.

The scumbag Bloomberg first rammed his deceptive "background check" bill through in Colorado. We all know what happened after that. It became pretty clear that the route was not going to work elsewhere. Therefore he looked for another way - and he found it in the initiative process. His pilot program was I-594. He won big time. He has already qualified the same measure in Nevada for *** I think *** a 2015 election. in 2016, he will have it on ballots in at least 20 states.

We had better come up with a plan - and it has to be different than what we just did in Washington. It had better reflect the reality that for the first time we are going to be outspent, not by a little bit - but by as much as 10 times! It's not just Bloomberg's 50 Million (or more) - it's money from Gates and Buffet and many more of their billionaire buddies.

The NRA, and I am a proud member, appears to not know how to stop this scumbag. They are great at lobbying and they are learning about legal work - but they sure were ineffective in Washington state. Bloomberg is hoping that we will once again use the same tactics - just say no - because he knows that is a battle he will win.

So, my challenge to all my fellow gun rights activists is simple: If you do not like the idea of preempting Bloomberg by passing a background check bill written by us - what is your plan for stopping him? Remember if we loose a lot of Americans are going to get "Background checks" with a side of registration and flypaper laws. That is something we all should be afraid of!

Bill Lester said...

Sadly, so VERY sadly, Vince and Alan Gottleib are right. There are theoretical politics and practical politics. A highly focused, minimal "universal background check" supported by a majority of gun owners would go a long way to unfurling Bloomburg's sails. Certainly a bitter pill but far less intrusive than the widespread equivalent of I-594.

Bill Lester said...

Oops, meant to say "furling Blomberg's sails." See what happens when someone posts before the day's first caffeine!

Matthew said...

Incrementalism worked exactly as described with carry. VT is *not* a relevant example in this discussion, they got Con Carry via Court decision a century ago. Every other state got it/will get it, via incremental improvements to shall-issue.

I'm from Alaska, in my adulthood we went from no carry at all (in cities) in 1993, to shall-issue with near-Illinois level standards, to gradual improvements, to Con Carry in 2004.

"All or nothing", given the populace of today, equals "nothing." Getting our foot in the door on any given particular topic leads to incremental wins, as then the facts on the ground prove our central point, the exercise of our rights causes no harm. Yes, it shouldn't matter if a Right does, but the majority of people will never see it that way. We have to win them over with examples as much as theory.

Every example of "nothing negative happening" is another nail in the coffin of the anti-rights crowd, as more and more of the uncaring middle will have personal examples of just how innocuous gun rights are and that normal people they know exercise them.

nj larry said...

Just an observation. This article is on the front page of the NYTIMES.

Per my earlier comment, it seems that the anti side has its program and plan together. Organized, prioritized, delegated and funded. While we discuss, they attack. I caution that EVERY GAIN we have made of late is totally reversible. Even Heller can be neutralized or worse. I still don't see any entity on our side as "together " as our opponents. Where is our plan? Our strategy of attack?

Leadership is the missing piece. If we are to galvanize our side, if we are to hold onto the next generation of gun owners, if we are to build a bulwark or laws/judgements/votes then somehow we need leadership.

Michael Bane said...



Windy Wilson said...

Incrementalism worked for the NAACP until the SCOTUS "sprung" Brown v Board of Education on the country.

I also think that the surrender as a tactic as Publicola alludes is no strategy for winning at all, and to my knowledge only worked in Blazing Saddles.