Compromise My Ass

by LF (10/13/99)

I'm tired of hearing about the glories of "compromise" from the anti-gun forces. Back when machine guns were outlawed from further civilian-accessible production by Reagan, was I sent some M16/AR-15 mags as compensation? When the importation of foreign semi-auto firearms were first knocked down by Bush, did Neo-Con authoritarian William Bennett enclose a Remington 1100 and a wink to let me know that after the War on Drugs eventually died down that we'd soon be best buds again? When Clinton signed the Brady Bill, did I get a Glock to stay my anger, since I'd been dutifully filling out federal forms for years and was obviously one of the good guys? When the high-cap mag ban passed, did I get a few cases of the military surplus ammo now rotting away in gubmint warehouses?

Nope, nope, nope, and nope. Of course my tormentors did nothing of the sort. There is no true compromise (which implies some sort of a trade-off) looming. It has been only take and take, and never give. The only reason that there has not been blood flowing in the streets is that most of the nasty old stuff has been "grandfathered", which means that those lucky enough to have owned the evil implements before the various bans could keep them.

Next up is crunch time. As in, "turn them all in, or else." The "or else" will not be a smooth ride.

What the anti's want to do would be analogous in a First Amendment case to ripping out our tongues so that we can't speak, breaking all our fingers so that we can't type, and anchoring us in place so that we cannot assemble.

Mention something theoretically along those lines to a hard-core Free Speech-type, and they'll spend hours going over what happened to folks like Eugene Debs, Wilhelm Reich, etc. But the thought of pulling an equivalent snatch on every goob with a gun just doesn't seem to get the same passionate response. I can only hope that they will be forced to kneel down in a ditch before it's my turn.

. . .

On a somewhat related note, something I would really like to see come to pass would be well-defined parameters on public debates. One of the most fun things I watched in the last few years was economist John Lott smashing his critics on CSPAN2 about two years back. A bunch of anti-gun pseudo-scholars tried to pull a fast one by atomizing his results. If he stated that a particular county's crime rates had dropped, they tried to sandbag him by latching on to the one city or town in the area where the crime rates either stayed the same or increased. Lott expected that sort of baloney, and slapped them back with the figures for the particular state as a whole. That's what statistics are all about -- Lott was working off the figures for the ENTIRE country, and while there are certainly some smaller identifiable regions that bucked the national trends, on the whole his thesis (that the introduction of concealed handgun carry laws reduced the overall murder and rape rates) has been overwhelmingly borne out. At best his critics were reduced to sputtering that maybe the impact of armed citizens on violent crime rates were a wash, a far cry from their previous position that average folks carrying concealed would lead to bloodbaths on every corner.

That lively panel discussion set me to thinking. The first thing that popped into my head was the "argument" given years ago by ACLU head Nadine Strossen as to why her band of socialist moles has ditched the Second Amendment. It was actually a pretty good one in that it laid out a straightforward proposal which could be invalidated by those who bothered to do some necessary research (see my Why the Right to Bear Arms is Still Relevant bit for some examples). The most frustrating thing about the way that most public policy debates are framed these days is that the proponents of Great New Things are wary enough to only talk about the wonderful benefits of their innovative thrusts and bold new paradigms, and never delve into their sometimes brutal consequences.

So that's exactly what I'm asking for here. Parameters just have to be set. Any zippy government policy undoubtedly has a swell X (at least for those who directly benefit from it, including of course the political class) -- but it will unfortunately generate a nasty Y, at the very least on the taxpayers who have to bear the immediate brunt of the costs of its enactment. How bad Y may get should be the measure. Back when Social Security was passed, there were thirty-some workers for every recipient. Nowadays the number of workers has dropped by a factor of just over ten, while the level of benefits granted to the check catchers have zoomed skyward. That's a truly bad thing, as evidenced by my current take-home pay.

So let's look at some other things:

Up the spout