From the Firearms Coalition
The Past Illuminates the Future
By Jeff Knox
(June 3, 2008) Now that all practical doubt has been removed as to who the Democrat and Republican candidates for President are going to be, let’s look forward to what the future might hold. Is there doom and gloom on the horizon or is tomorrow a bright new day?
I haven’t found anyone in the firearms rights community who is looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. All of the arguments I hear are about which candidate is more of a threat to gun rights. While most believe Obama, with his far-left philosophy and horrible record on guns must be defeated at all costs, there is a vocal minority who are convinced that McCain, in spite of his solid pro-gun voting record, is more dangerous, citing his past betrayals and “maverick” deal making. A third camp suggests that the only thing that will bring our country back from the brink is a disastrous Democrat presidency, pointing out that it was Jimmy Carter’s train wreck that swept Ronald Reagan into office and Democrats overreaching that led to the “Republican Revolution” in 1994.
Those arguments will continue right into November and beyond and I won’t try to settle them here. What I will do is look at the political realities and probabilities and offer some prognostications about how future threats are most likely to unfold and how the dominoes will fall – if they fall.
Let’s take an imaginary stroll into the future. It’s late 2009 when a deranged wacko with an AK-47S walks into a school, or shopping mall, or some other “Gun Free Zone” and opens fire, killing several and wounding many more. The media coverage is wall-to-wall. Each of the four major networks and the cable outlets make the “Assault Weapons Crisis” their lead. The coverage even overshadows the recent drug overdose death of a once-promising former child actor.
From the media coverage, it seem like everyone in America is clamoring for Congress and the president to take immediate action to make sure such a tragedy never happens again. Carolyn McCarthy and Chuck Schumer make the rounds of the talking head programs touting their new Assault Weapons Ban which they have named to honor the memory of gun control hero Ted Kennedy. The legislation declares virtually all semi-auto firearms to be “Assault Weapons.” It also labels lever-action and pump-action guns capable of carrying more than 7 rounds to be “Assault Weapons.” It calls for a complex registration system and extensive background checks on purchasers and it bans the sale and possession of any ammunition feeding device capable of carrying more than 7 rounds – with no grandfather clause for guns or magazines already in private hands.
NRA’s fundraising machine kicks into high gear declaring that McCarthy and Schumer’s “Kennedy Bill” must never pass and that the members’ help is needed immediately. As they always do in a crisis, NRA members reach for their checkbooks. NRA membership almost doubles from 3.5 to nearly 6 million in just a few months.
Meanwhile, a bi-partisan coterie of “pro-gun” members of congress, meets quietly with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. In that meeting they say that the Edward M. Kennedy Memorial Police Protection Act is an unstoppable freight train that is destined to pass. The only hope, they say, to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and hunters is for NRA to agree to a less onerous alternative, a much more reasonable, less restrictive “compromise” bill which simply reinstates the old Clinton Ban with only a few minor enhancements to close some of the loopholes in the old bill. “You must help us pass this bill” they say, “or we’ll have no chance of blocking the Kennedy bill.
NRA, seeing a crippling defeat on the horizon, makes the deal and NRA lobbyists quietly begin telling most of their regular supporters in the House and Senate that any vote which blocks the Kennedy Bill will be considered a pro-gun vote. Congress quickly passes the compromise bill, accepting a few additional amendments to appease Schumer and McCarthy. NRA declares victory for successfully blocking passage of the onerous Kennedy Bill and labels all of their “friends” in Congress who voted for the compromise as heroes of the Second Amendment.
The bill then goes up to the White House where President McBama signs it with a statement about how important this compromise is and how it’s proof that Congress can work together in a bi-partisan fashion to solve the nation’s problems.
A few “extremist, fringe” gun rights groups raise vocal objections, and a handful of “irate radicals” even try to stage a protest march on Washington while carrying their soon-to-be-banned rifles – for which they lose all of their gun rights and spend several years in federal prisons – but NRA continues celebrating their victory and supporting the politicians who sealed the deal..
This is not the future, merely one possible future. A future based on the lessons of the past; lessons which some refuse to learn. This is how the Gun Control of 1968 was passed, how the Brady Law was passed, how the ban on “armor piercing” bullets was passed, and how countless “compromise” bills in state legislatures were passed. If not for the strong voices of principled leaders within NRA, this is how the Nixon “Saturday Night Special Law” and the NRA-sponsored “Assault Weapon Compromise” would have been passed.
Forewarned is forearmed. It is up to the members of the NRA and their Board of Directors to ensure that this vision of the future never comes to pass. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and sometimes losing a major, principled battle is preferable to conceding sacred ground. The British had Chamberlain and “Peace in our time,” we had Pearl Harbor and rallied to win the war.