by Joe Waldron
I had a long telephone conversation this morning with a political party county chairman from another state. He opened the conversation with, Why cant you guys moderate your stance? It would help more of us get elected.
What would you suggest, I responded.
Well, every little gun law doesnt mean theyre coming to take away our guns, he went on. It just makes us look like extremists. And I dont really believe theyre after our guns anyway. I own two shotguns and a 9mmand I dont think they want to disarm me.
Where to begin?
Do we cite the history of gun control in America: an incremental and ever increasing loss of what was once viewed as a near-absolute right? Or the fact that its a one-way street? Or that the operative word in gun control is control? Whether its control of freed slaves in the post-Civil War South? Or control of poor southern and eastern European immigrants in the Northeast a few decades later? Or control of angry, unemployed World War I vets called Bonus Marchers in 1932
And to come full circle, we could cite the Gun Control Act of 1968, and how the real target of that act was the ban on the mail-order sale of guns, guns that Congress feared would end up arming disenfranchised and disheartened African-Americans in our major cities in the mid-1960s.
We could explain that there is no intellectual honesty on the other side of the gun control debate. Whether its Sarah Brady saying, Just pass the Brady Act and I can go home knowing Ive made America a safer place. And four months after Brady passed, there was Sarah, along with Charles Schumer and Joe Biden, out on the Capitol steps calling for passage of Brady II.
Or California Sen. Diane Feinstein, offering a guaranteed list of 450 good guns safe from banning, if only the Senate would pass her so-called assault weapon banshe would never have gotten the needed votes without that safe gun list. Several years later, we have that same Sen. Feinstein seeking to ban additional gunsguns on the Feinstein-certified good gun list.
We could explain that waiting periods that begin with two or three days soon become five, or 15. Or that under a needs-based licensing system, bureaucrats soon determine that only they and their friends have a legitimate need. Or that none of these laws has any impact on crime or criminals; they only serve to deny law-abiding citizens access to a constitutionally-guaranteed right.
These are the people were supposed to negotiate with in good faith?
But lets be reasonable. Lets talk about it.
Politics is the art of compromise. That bit of wisdom is passed out just after election day at every new legislator orientation in the country. According to my dictionary, compromise is defined as a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.
Is that how gun control works?
Not yet, it hasnt. With rare exceptions, compromise in the gun control area means I want all of your rights, but Im willing to compromise and only take half today. Or one third. . . . Or one fourth. . . .
Sorry, folks. That doesnt cut it. Not any more.
Ill be happy to sit across the table from you and discuss gun control. After all, reasonable people can be civil and discuss things rationally, right? Right.
But understand that when you come to the table, for every new gun control law you propose, youd better be willing to repeal an older one as well.
For every existing gun control law you want to expand, youd better be willing to narrow another existing law.
Compromise is a two-way street. If you want something from me, youd better be willing to give something of equal value in return. Otherwise theres no incentive for me to talk with you. Im just being reasonable, after all.
Whats that? Thats not what this discussion is about? Not narrowing restrictions on gun ownership, just expanding them?
Now whos the extremist? Now whos not being reasonable?
The author, Joe Waldron, is the executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the nations second largest gun rights advocacy group.