No Room for 'Politeness' in 2A Advocacy



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By Kurt Hofmann, April 2nd 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

Image Oleg Volk

As an NRA board member and the head of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Tom King is admonishing gun rights advocates to soften the rhetoric, and hope that the courts see fit to restore the rights that lawmakers have trampled. From an email he sent to NYSRPA members, as quoted in the New York Daily News:

We will never convert the 22% rabid anti-gunners, we don't have to convert the 32% avid pro gunners but we must convert a sizable portion of the 46% of those somewhere in between if we want to retain our 2nd Amendment Rights long term. These are the soccer moms, the guys who say I've never shot a gun but would like to try it and the people worried about their safety. How do we do that? Not by standing on stage screaming obscenities at Cuomo and certainly not at large rallies where people stand on stage, pound their chest and tell the attendees to prepare for war. That frightens the very people we want to attract to our side, the people who will insure [sic] 2nd Amendment Rights for our grandchildren.

In other words, we cannot retain our Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, unless we politely persuade a sufficient number of the people who have so far not bothered to even form a strong opinion on the gun rights/"gun control" debate. Furthermore, we must depend on the courts to protect our rights. On what grounds we are supposed to base any confidence of that happening, King is oddly silent.

As gun rights blogger Herschel Smith explains, this is precisely the wrong way to go about it:

But second, this letter is as emblematic of everything that's wrong with the NRA as I've ever seen. It's the perfect example of how not to think about our rights.

The strategy he advocates is why we're where we are, among other reasons like loss of our national moral conscience. He wants first to turn to the black robes, and failing that (as it certainly will fail and has already failed), he wants to turn to popular opinion.

The idea that we must be more "polite," lest we frighten "the very people we want to attract to our side," ignores the nature of the right we are fighting for. The Second Amendment exists to guarantee the people's right to the means of killing aspiring tyrants and their hired muscle. There is no polite way to say that, as insurgencies tend to be more than a little "rude."

We must be "frightening," because the people who would trample our rights will only lose interest in doing so if they perceive a very personal risk to themselves in continuing on that course. They will have no reason to perceive such a risk if they see that our strategy is to cross our fingers and let judges tell us what our rights are, and when those judges tell us that those rights are effectively nothing, we then reduce ourselves to hoping that our liberties can win a popularity contest.

When the Founding Fathers flew the Gadsden Flag, they did not rally under a banner saying "Please Don't Tread on Me, Unless the Courts Say You Can." Indeed, the choice of the rattlesnake as their emblem was calculated for its implied threat, or, more accurately, for its explicit threat. As Benjamin Franklin wrote in the Pennsylvania Journal:

Conscious of this, [the rattlesnake] never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.

To attempt to hide the fact that we will fight any effort to disarm us is to withhold that "generous" warning that Franklin so admired, and will indeed make the fight's eventual necessity inevitable, because we will have given up on deterrence.

That is a course badly flawed both strategically and morally.

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