At the time of this writing, America’s collective heart is broken, reeling from the slaughter of 17 innocent students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The alleged killer is a deranged ex-student with a long history of behavioral problems and violence. His weapon of choice was a semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifle—a so-called “assault weapon,” in popular liberal parlance.
Coming so closely on the heels of other mass shootings, including the bloodiest in the nation’s modern history, the resulting backlash against guns, gun owners, and especially gun-rights advocates, has become startlingly rabid.
And Americans who care about the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms are concerned. Some are saying that the current environment is the worst for gun owners since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, in which 20 first graders and six educators were slaughtered by another deranged predator.
And that looks likely to be a wildly optimistic assessment of the current attitude toward gun ownership in the U.S. To me, it looks a great deal worse than in the months following Newtown, and perhaps even worse than in the early 1990s, when the federal ban on “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines went into effect, polluting the landscape of gun ownership in the U.S. for the next 10 years.
The rage directed at the NRA and legislators who have voted to protect gun rights has become as toxic as I’ve ever seen it, with even notoriously apolitical high schoolers joining in what might be described with the Orwellian “Two Minutes Hate,” except that it seems to go on nearly 24 hours a day.
Loud calls are being made for banks and credit-card companies to deny their services to any part of the gun industry, from manufacturers to retailers, that refuses to play by the draconian new rules the gun-ban zealots want to impose on gun ownership.
Some gun-rights advocates might scoff at these concerns, noting the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and the fact that Donald Trump sits in the White House, thanks in part to the $30 million spent by the NRA to put him there.
But that ignores the fact that a rather large number of Republicans in both chambers are looking quite vulnerable. President Trump also has a rather patchy history as a gun-rights advocate, and indeed once wrote of his support for an “assault weapon” ban. Furthermore, he has a quite consistent history of radically changing his position when he sees a benefit to himself in making such a change.
Even now, Trump has ordered the Justice Department to ban bump-fire stocks by diktat, without even the thin Constitutional veneer of passing a law through Congress. More dismaying is the fact that some support exists in the gun-rights community for this. The thinking apparently is that bump-fire stocks are little more than a silly toy in the opinion of most, rather than a serious self-defense or liberty-preservation tool, and would be at worst a small loss, but one that might help “buy off” the gun-ban zealots.
A “silly toy” they might be, but how can any gun-rights advocate support giving the BATFE the power to, in effect, write their own laws rather than enforce those passed by Congress?
It strikes me as very optimistic to count on the anti-gun jihadists to be satisfied with that, rather than be emboldened to erode gun rights further. Republican members of Congress are showing an increasing inclination to buckle on what they seem to think of as “minor” concessions on gun rights—perhaps banning purchases of “assault weapons” by young adults (who are still old enough to fight and die for the country, using machine guns, grenades, rockets, and more), again apparently in the hope of appeasing the forcible citizen disarmament lobby.
They will not be appeased. Any concessions we make will simply move them further along toward their goal of total government control of firearms. As contemptible as appeasers are, those ostensible gun-rights supporters who are on board with such concessions might actually be something much worse: collaborators.
Every concession we make gives the other side a beachhead from which to launch the next infringement on that which shall not be infringed. We gain nothing by surrendering an inch. To prevail, we must embrace the attitude of Winston Churchill, when he strengthened the resolve of the British people in the face of what appeared to be the unstoppable onslaught of the German Wehrmacht:
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender….
To do any less is to deserve to be disarmed. And why not? Anyone willing to do less is obviously not going to use those arms to defend liberty.
A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denied that right. This inspired him to become active in gun-rights advocacy.