Drawing Lines

The Knox Report

From the Firearms Coalition


Where’s Your Line?

It’s hard to draw in shifting sand.


By Jeff Knox


(November 4, 2008)  Last week in this space I painted with a broad brush and general terms on the topic of armed revolt.  The trouble with speaking in broad, general terms is that the author’s general intent and the reader’s general perception can turn out to be pretty far apart – generally speaking.  That causes unnecessary conflict and is just sloppy writing.  I’ll try to do better.  In this installment I’d like to try to clear up a few things and hopefully get you thinking about what matters to you.

First, about last week’s column:

In no way did I intend to suggest that anyone who quotes Jefferson or wears a “MOLON LAVE” T-shirt is just guff and bluster.  I quote Jefferson and wear a “MOLON LAVE” T-shirt and I’m absolutely serious about them.  I know I’m not alone in that.  I think that sending that message loud and clear to the powers that be is very important and useful.

My suggestion that 99.995% of the time the slogan will be removed before it is lived up to was intended as hyperbole, but when you consider the thousands of people whose gun rights are temporarily or permanently revoked each week by traffic cops, divorce courts, and criminal indictments, that figure might not really be that far off.

Finally, the three key points I was trying to make were:

1. The time for violent revolution is when all other avenues and options have been exhausted.  We are not there yet. 

2. With a small portion of the coordination and commitment (not to mention pain and heartbreak) that would be necessary to win a violent revolution, a political revolution could be waged and won. 

3. Any act of violence against the government or politicians in the current environment will do nothing but hamper efforts to regain and restore the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

Writing about the subject of armed rebellion, and when and whether people would or would not participate, is complicated because different people draw their lines in different places.  It is easy to say, “I will never give up my guns,” but what does that really mean?  Does it mean refusing to temporarily surrender a sidearm to a paranoid cop writing you a speeding ticket?  Does it mean disobeying a court order stemming from a domestic restraining order (a routine move among some divorce lawyers)?  Does it mean disobeying a law requiring registration of “assault weapons?” One man’s inconvenience is another man’s last straw.

The question then is, “Where do you draw the line?”  “When do you fight?” 

Most of the people I have spoken with about this have an image in their head of government teams with 4473’s and NICS reports going house to house searching for and confiscating all weapons they find.  The scenario usually includes one or more Waco-style stand-offs leading to masses of gunowners rallying in defense of their fellows. 

The problem with such scenarios is that the gun banners in Washington know how that story plays out too.  While some are arrogant and stupid enough to push forward with a confrontation, cooler and smarter heads generally prevail.  Incrementalism isn’t just about only getting what they can when they can, it’s part of the slow boil strategy to keep the frogs from jumping out of the pot. 

Playing into the hands of those who gradually turn the heat up are those who would make deals to accept legislation that is “less bad” rather than standing firm for “all or nothing.”  Anytime someone speaking for the Gun Lobby signs off on a bad bill to avoid a worse bill, they are signing away the right to reasonably resist the resulting law. By conceding the principle, they also make the next turn of the ratchet that much harder to fight.

At some point in the incremental erosion of your rights each of us will have to make a choice regarding what we will and will not tolerate.  The good thing – perhaps the only good thing – about incrementalism is that your first choice probably won’t have to be one of life or death.  It might be to refuse to register a firearm you already own. 

The bad thing about incrementalism is that where a major step like confiscation would clearly cross the line for a lot of people and precipitate a broad response, some would see a little step as no big deal.  It is difficult to rally opposition to “minor” changes.  The key is to draw specific, realistic lines in advance. 

Consider the various gun control schemes that are likely to be put forward starting with those that would have the least impact on the fewest people and work your way up from there.  For each scenario, decide what you think the public reaction will be and what your reaction will be, then move on to the next.  It’s an exercise in core values and taking care of this soul searching before you are placed under the stress of the moment will make it easier to make the right decision at the right time.

What are your core values?  Where do you draw your lines?


Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes is hereby granted provided this credit is included.  Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org.  To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA  20108. 

©Copyright 2008 Neal Knox Associates