By Ben Langlotz | September 20, 2019 | Opinion Pieces | 0 Comments
Thanks to some nice encouragement from prominent social media presence, author, and attorney Kurt Schlichter, I submitted and had my first column published by Townhall.com, one of the most esteemed internet opinion venues. They host the columns of geniuses like Thomas Sowell, so I hope some of that rubs off!
So-called “Gun Safety” advocates don’t really care about public safety, and it’s easy to prove that all they really fear is an armed populace who opposes their political agenda.
Here’s the deal: They could have the “Universal Background Checks” (UBC) they’re fighting for, if they made just one small compromise.
Now, Second Amendment supporters understandably cringe at the word “compromise” because for generations the GOP dictionary has defined it as: “Giving the Democrats half of their ridiculous demands and then hoping they say nice things about us on TV for a few days.” But that’s not real compromise, it’s capitulation.
An artful deal gives each side what it most wants, with concessions that shouldn’t be painful for either side.
Gun-controllers claim to worry that many states allow individuals to sell firearms privately without background checks, and they say that this puts guns in the hands of “prohibited persons” who’ll use them criminally. They probably figure that a background check requirement would mean some of these criminals are turned away by law-abiding sellers. Maybe. But we needn’t debate whether this happens often enough for UBC laws to have a meaningful effect on public safety. They say yes, we say no. But with the right deal it doesn’t matter – let’s let them have their way. Almost.
We gun rights advocates actually believe that Universal Background Checks can enable tyranny. The other guys think that’s crazy and paranoid. But our logic is that if the would-be gun banners in government knew exactly who has what guns, a ban becomes more tempting because it’s easy to enforce – just knock on the listed owners’ doors. But when, say, 20% of all the semi-auto rifles are in unknown hands, a ban must rely on voluntary compliance, and they know that’s never going to happen. Nancy Pelosi knows there’ll still be millions of ARs and AKs out there even after the confiscation raids she might envision, so enforcement of a ban becomes a waste of political capitol and pointless bloodshed –why bother? Tyranny averted.
If they don’t think gun confiscation can enable tyranny, they forget what real Democrats like Hubert Humphrey argued on the presidential campaign trail not too long ago (and never got a peep of criticism from extremists in their own party): “The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”
It doesn’t matter whether they’re nuts to think that Universal Background Checks will meaningfully help public safety. Or if we’re nuts to think that we can prevent tyranny by having guns the government doesn’t know about. With true compromise, it simply doesn’t matter.
All we ask in exchange for Universal Background Checks is this: Stop collecting data about who’s buying what guns. It’s like HIPPA privacy for gun owners. A background check doesn’t require a database on gun owners and serial numbers any more than liquor laws require the government to know how often I buy my preferred spirit.
For ten bucks, any seller could phone in a buyer’s driver’s license number to find out whether the buyer’s prohibited from buying a gun (appallingly, the current check system is off limits to responsible private sellers wishing to conduct a check.) The new system could even be used by anyone to check out a babysitter or contractor. This system would record only that the ID was checked and issued a confirmation number. The seller can keep the confirmation as a defense to a false charge of selling to an unqualified buyer. The system knows only that someone was checked but has no idea if they even bought a gun, let alone what model or serial number.
Stop there, and that’s the compromise we usually get: They get most of what they want, and we get nothing. So here’s the real compromise: even firearms dealers will no longer have to keep a record (known as Form 4473) of who bought what – those eventually end up in government hands for databasing. The dealer verifies his customer by ID, (just like a liquor retailer who cards a customer) but gun purchases are private.
Win-win. We win our tyranny insurance, and they win the public safety they swear is their goal. But their opposition to this type of genuine compromise belies their true goal of political control that requires their opponents to be disarmed.
Cue the Crickets.
This got lots of comments in many venues. One of my favorites was to include national carry reciprocity. But the real point is less optimistic, and that’s that proposing real compromise will reveal the left’s true agenda, and this “comprise” simply won’t happen.
Some commenters missed the point, but hopefully impressed their Facebook friends at the awesome purity of their understanding of your liberties: “The compromise is the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Similarly: “All gun laws are an infringement. Want to save lives? Ban abortion.”
I liked the style of one comment by someone who obviously hadn’t read the column and missed the point: “Ben needs to wear a hat more in the sun. Gun grabbers would need to collect data on who is buying guns. With universal background checks, they would achieve their Holy Grail, a national gun registry. There would be no need to collect data. They would already have it.”
I learned something interesting about Facebook in the process. Knowing that they might share the post with only a few percent of my many Facebook friends, I thought I’d spend five bucks getting it more widely promoted. To my surprise, Facebook rejected my “political advertising” (the link to the column) without my jumping through major hoops. These included them mailing a letter to my residence with a code number I had to enter. And then giving them an image of both sides of my driver’s license! I honestly wonder whether anyone advocating for gun control faces the same scrutiny, and I haven’t had the time to run a test (nor am I interested in spreading views I disagree with).
As I posted on Facebook:
You know you’re a conservative when you yearn for the good old days when the dangerously mentally ill were institutionalized (after a judicial process) and not let out on the streets with monthly government checks to abuse on drugs and alcohol, but…
You automatically oppose any judicial process to determine whether someone is too crazy to safely possess guns.
It ain’t easy…
But the reality is that while we oppose “Red Flag” laws we don’t oppose due process to determine whether someone is competent to possess guns. Politically, I suggest that we can comfortably support “Red Flag with Due Process.” That’s taking the high ground, and helping to actually address real issues of mental illness that are ruining lives, not to mention turning cities into cesspools.
I don’t know how accurate this next one is, but I think the recent decades reflect reality:
None of us really believe we need another social media outlet to waste time on. Yes, they’re for marketing, and many of my clients know what they’re doing with Instagram and other sites. But if there’s one site where I find I actually get SMARTER, it‘s Twitter. I’m serious. If I want the same silly meme I’ve seen a dozen times before, I’ll go to Facebook. Same for those “letter from Tim Allen” and “what Dianne Feinstein said” posts that are enjoyable, but total fakes (some of my favorite people post these and are stunned when they find out the truth – I’ve stopped being helpful and just let them go.) On Twitter, I actually learn things and get good analysis from authors, pundits, and people I’d never heard of, but turn out to be smarter than those I have heard of.
I get the best marketing and persuasion advice from one source, and the best reality-check political and election analysis from a historian whose book you might have seen but never heard of otherwise. All the leading gun-rights advocates are present, interacting (including with me) and honing the message. It’s where the real influencing seems to take place, and I learn a lot. It’s where something I wrote triggered a respectful friendship with the lawyer who helped get me published at Townhall. I follow lawyers who appear before the Supreme Court.
Think of Twitter this way: If you’re a Tucker Carlson fan you can wait to see what he says for 20 minutes each evening on TV. Or, you can follow his Twitter feed for stories he thinks are interesting, many more than will appear on TV. An astute comment might well influence his evening presentation.
Every author who wrote a book you admire is on Twitter (when I first joined I realized that everyone I followed was an author.)
But new social media is a pain to get oriented on. It takes time to figure out how to navigate, and then how to decide who to follow. (You can also follow topics associated with a hashtag, but I haven’t figured that out quite yet.)
I won’t be the most important or interesting one you follow, and I’m suggesting it only for one reason: if you like the kinds of things (especially news and politics) I write about here, then you’ll like the stories I link to (by “retweeting”). I don’t have a big following, but I’ve been investing in creating an interesting feed that should expose you to the best sources I think are out there. If you like someone I link to, then you can follow them (and easily unfollow if it turns out that they mostly post about urology or some other uninteresting topic). If you follow me, it will be like looking over my shoulder as I share what I think is “the Best of Twitter.” You can take the best of my best and add much more of your own.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to seeing many of you next month in Orlando at the NASGW show.