Much ink (or perhaps many electrons) has been spilled since Sunday, in the wake of an announcement by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) that the gun rights group will support the Senate “gun control” bill, S. 649, as amended by Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Toomey (R-PA), with S. Amendment 715. As National Gun Rights Examiner Dan reports, a great many gun rights advocates are outraged by what they see as either an enormous tactical blunder, or worse, an outright betrayal on the part of CCRKBA.
Taking a very quick and cursory look at some of the “tactical” objections, many point out that what is perhaps the “flagship” provision of S. Amd. 715, the 15-year prison sentence for officials who attempt to abuse S. 649’s record keeping requirements in order to build a national gun registry, depends on the Department of “Justice” prosecuting itself for wrongdoing. Has “Project Gunwalker” already been forgotten?
Prominent and highly regarded Second Amendment scholar and attorney Dave Kopel argues compellingly that many of the “pro-gun” provisions of Amd. 715 (presumably due to Sen. Manchin’s inexperience with drafting this kind of legislation) would in effect be actually strongly anti-gun. And again, this does not scratch the surface of the “tactical” objections to this “compromise.”
The more fiery critics do not believe CCRKBA chairman Alan Gottlieb has miscalculated, but has instead deliberately stabbed gun rights advocates in the back. The Sipsey Street Irregulars‘ Mike Vanderboegh presents, that view, as does Western Rifle Shooters Association, and prominent libertarian commentator Claire Wolfe may be even more blisteringly critical–not an easy feat.
I personally have vast respect for these rights advocates, but like Mr. Codrea, am not ready to believe that Gottlieb is the second coming of Vidkun Quisling. I am still convinced that Gottlieb truly believes his course offers the best chance for a net gain for gun rights advocates Heck–seeing rabidly anti-gun Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in full spittle-flecked fury is always fun.
But however good Alan Gottlieb’s intentions are, and even if events end up showing him to be a tactical genius, securing major net gains for gun rights advocates, I argue that strategically, this is a serious mistake. Mr. Codrea outlines one reason for such misgivings:
As for Gottlieb’s contention that if the measures CCRKBA insists on are removed he’ll simply walk away from the deal, what makes him think that will matter, once the fear of voting for background checks has been removed in principle, and the very idea has been promoted as something that is supported by prominent gun rights advocates?
To explain my related, but perhaps more fundamental objection, I will repeat an old joke.
A man approaches an attractive woman in a bar, and asks, “Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?”
The woman allows that she probably would. The man then asks, “How about for one dollar?”
Furious, the woman sputters, “Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?”
The man replies, “We have already established that, madam. Now we are simply haggling over the price.”
The instant we put Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human rights (such as the right to conduct firearms transactions privately) on the bargaining table, subject to exchange for fuller recognition of other rights–even if on what seem very favorable terms–we have, to paraphrase the joke, already established what kind of Constitutional rights advocates we are.
We have now surrendered any reasonable expectation of respect for the sanctity of our rights, because we have shown no such reverence ourselves.
I will not, to once again paraphrase the joke, haggle over the price of my rights, and nor do I authorize anyone else to do so on my behalf. The price is blood–enough to refresh a certain famous tree. Any takers?
Update: Herschel Smith provides important perspective in “Surrendering The Constitutional High Ground.”
- Gun group ‘had hand in writing’ Manchin-Toomey background check amendment
- Prison for gun registration part of CCRKBA-backed bill
- Manchin-Toomey ends gun shows
- Alan Gottlieb Lobbies Grassroots to Support Toomey-Manchin Amendment
- No, There Is No Compromise On Guns
- Gottlieb the traitor
- Alan Gottlieb, “Useful Jew.”
- The New Rumkowski
- The “Pro-Gun” Provisions of Manchin-Toomey are Actually a Bonanza of Gun Control
- “It’s huge,” Manchin crows. The collectivist enemy loves a turncoat.
- Gun owners sharply divided over CCRKBA background check support
- Schumer goes nuts over alternative gun measure
- Alan Gottlieb And Support For Manchin-Toomey
- Surrendering The Constitutional High Ground