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Absolutists vs. Incrementalists

Jay takes on the issue of gun rights absolutists and those who take an incremental approach:

Over at Kevin’s place, there’s a storm brewing between the 2A absolutists and the pro-2A incrementalists. The 2A absolutists want nothing more than VT-style gun laws, and nothing short of that is good enough for them. The incrementalists see our progress as a good thing, with more to come; they point to the passing of the dreaded Asssault Weapons Ban, the “Stand Your Ground”/”Castle Doctrine”/etc. laws in various states, Protection of Lawful Commerce Act, and concealed carry passing in KS & NE.

I am somewhat of an absolutist but, as a matter of policy, it’s not the best means to an ends. So, I guess I’m an incremental absolutist, meaning I’ll take the smaller victories with a goal toward said absolutism.

Remember, gun owners can be their own worst enemies.

16 Responses to “Absolutists vs. Incrementalists”

  1. beerslurpy Says:

    I’m an incrementalist because I recognize that it is the only way to make progress. I found the Eugene Volokh’s slippery slope paper (google for it) to be an excellent way to gauge the effectiveness of incremental measures. Many incremental measures are weak, but some can open the door to far more lasting changes down the line.

    CCW is huge in this respect because it inculcates such a profound respect and love for keeping and bearing arms in the general populace. Nearly 20 years after Florida passed CCW, there is now extremely high gun ownership rates amongst soccer moms and other people who are usually gun phobic. At least in my narrow personal experience.

    That being said, gun owners shouldnt accept weaker than necessary reforms just because they blindly accept the rule “small steps are the only way to make things happen in the world.” Some small steps are less small than others.

  2. Phelps Says:

    This principle is the reason that I left the Libertarian Party. The Party is run by absolutists, and absolutists are only marginally effective at best. They are great for riling up the base, but piss-poor at converting people. I think that an LP that took credible positions on national security (rather than “if we leave them alone of course they will leave us alone”) and proposed incremental rather than revolutionary changes would be very powerful. Instead, we have stoners, libertines, and blue-skinned whackaloons running that party.

    That is why I have thrown in with the libertarian Republicans — they can actually get SOMETHING done rather than just stroking each other’s egos. Gun control has to be approached the same way. Our country was designed by the founders for slow change, not fast.

  3. bjbarron Says:

    Hmmm, incremental absolutist is a good way to put it. I’m sick of getting nit-picked by gungrabbers myself, and want to RESIST…but you’re right. This is the best way to an end.

    And to that point…what’s next. We’re getting down to barking moonbat states with ‘deny’ and ‘may’ issue rules and will probably never get another one to the side of free America…at least any time soon.

    Without giving in to my absolutist tendencies….and believing that wins occur more frequently at the state level:

    I think the Vermont/Alaska model is problematical…you can’t get your CCW recognized by another state if you don’t have one. We need to work on getting more states to recognize each other’s CCW. The ’86 machinegun law, the ’68 law? The ’34 law is out of reach, I think, much less the Sullivan Law.

    Wouldn’t if be nice to drive from Florida to Washington State with the same CCW? And with a new machinegun in the trunk!

  4. Sebastian Says:

    I agree on the incremental absolutism. Someday I hope to be able to mow targets in half with a legally-owned machine gun that didn’t cost $40,000 bucks. But we’re not going to get there all at once.

  5. Xrlq Says:

    I think the Vermont/Alaska model is problematical…you can’t get your CCW recognized by another state if you don’t have one.

    AFAIK that’s a problem for Vermont but not for Alaska, where you don’t need a permit but can obtain one volutarily if you want.

  6. Sebastian Says:

    As less and less people take an interest in the shooting sports, there will be fewer and fewer to continue the fight. I cannot imagine that this is sheer coincidence – that we’re making major inroads with only token resistance from the anti-gunnies. Not without paying a price – the culture war. Which we are losing, quite handily, without even firing a shot.

    Is it true that the number of shooters is dropping? If so, by how much? I agree with him about the culture war though, but I’m not sure how much we can really do about that. I note that the author is from MA, which is cultarally pretty far left. If he lived in TX he might have a different outlook. I would find it easy to imagine that MA’s gun laws are effectively destroying the shooting culture there, much like they have in New Jersey. We do need to fight onerous requirements for owning firearms tooth and nail, because if don’t, a lot of people will find other hobbies. That’s exactly what the anti-gunners want, and what they are counting on when they tell us “we just want reasonable gun-safety measures”. They want to reduce our numbers. That’s the first step. Then they’ll crush us.

  7. E. David Quammen Says:

    “We’ll take one step at a time, and the first is necessarily – given the political realities – very modest. We’ll have to start working again to strengthen the law, and then again to strengthen the next law and again and again. Our ultimate goal, total control of handguns, is going to take time. The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal.” – Pete Shields, founder of Handgun Control, Inc., New Yorker Magazine, June 26, 1976, pg. 53, (His shoes were filled by Sarah Brady).

    Don’t know about anyone else, but the above is a good enough reason for me to be an absolutist. Read Federalist #78, which outlines how they NEVER had the power to regulate the Right to begin with. Do you play cards with someone you knows who cheats? These Usurpers have used ILLEGAL means to STEAL from us. You dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change – but you will.

    Men died for us to get away from tyranny. It is a cold slap in the face, to their memory, by playing games with the petty tyrants of today. Look at our Bill of Rights – what do we have left? First – gone, Second – heavily regulated, Fourth – Gone. How much more do we allow them to take? From something they were NEVER supposed to meddle with in the first place?
    Anybody remember Hitler, Mao or Stalin? Or, how about Waco, Ruby Ridge or NEW ORLEANS?

    ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY. Our Founders knew this and allotted for it! As James Madison said, in Federalist #46 “These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error.”

    Here is absolute PROOF that what they are doing is USURPATION: http://gunshowonthenet.com/SecondAmend/TheRight.html

    It has been reviewed by a number of Constitutional Attorney’s, and it IS the TRUTH – THE WAY IT SHOULD BE. Do you actually think our supposed representatives have our best interests at heart? If they won’t even obey the Supreme Law of the land? The states have NO right to interfere with our right – PERIOD. Nor does ANYONE else.

    This is the way it should be;

    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.”

    – St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries

    And that man should know – BECAUSE HE WAS THERE! Compromise = slavery and death.

  8. NateG Says:

    I think the Vermont/Alaska model is problematical…you can’t get your CCW recognized by another state if you don’t have one.

    AFAIK that’s a problem for Vermont but not for Alaska, where you don’t need a permit but can obtain one volutarily if you want.

    Or, you get an out of state permit from Florida, Utah, New Hampshire, etc. that’s recognized in a bunch of states.

  9. NateG Says:

    Oops, dorked up the formatting in that last one… the middle permit is quoting Xrlq.

  10. Captain Holly Says:

    “Incremental absolutist”. I like that.

    I’m an “IA”. My fondest dream is to be able to legally buy a brand-new Tommy gun over the internet and have it delivered to my door the next day, no paperwork required.

    But barring that, I’ll settle for revoking the prohibition on carrying concealed in National Parks.

  11. Jay G Says:

    Okay, now I *really* feel like small potatoes. My post? 0 comments. Unc’s post linking my post? 10 comments.

    FTR, Unc, I love the Incremental Absolutist description. Fits me to a T.

  12. Sebastian Says:

    It has been reviewed by a number of Constitutional Attorney’s, and it IS the TRUTH – THE WAY IT SHOULD BE. Do you actually think our supposed representatives have our best interests at heart? If they won’t even obey the Supreme Law of the land? The states have NO right to interfere with our right – PERIOD. Nor does ANYONE else.

    I totally agree with you E.D. – the constitution meant for firearms ownership to be a right beyond politics, where we gain some and lose some through that type of horse trading. But we need to get the Supreme Court to actually say that. And it helps, before you go to the courts, to have a consensus favoring your position among the public and legislatures. I think we’re getting there.

  13. tkdkerry Says:

    Throw me in with the Incremental Absolutists. My end goal is for the absolute recognition of rights, but I see the futility in childish demands for everything now. I would like to see just how the absolutists would go about converting the populace and the government, in some reasonable detail.

  14. E. David Quammen Says:

    Sebastian – Actually according to Federalist #78, (The Federalist was he means used to ‘sell’ the Federal Constitutional Republican form of gov. to we the people – so it has direct bearing). The court has no such authority. They were never supposed to let the Repugnant, perverse laws pass to begin with. So now, We The People have no form of redress.

    Here is a link to an article about the most recent Amicus Brief filed with the upreme court;

    http://gunshowonthenet.blogspot.com/2006/03/rtp-lawsuit-update-powerful-amicus.html

    In it, John Wolfgram tells the Supreme Court, that if they do not listen or redress. It leaves the People with NO other alternative than to resort to our Second Amendment Right – AND TAKE IT BACK!

    Imagine, HE FILED THAT IN THE SUPREME COURT.

    Alexander Hamilton expresses it LOUD and CLEAR in Federalist #16;

    “If the people were not tainted with the spirit of their State representatives, they, as the NATURAL GUARDIANS of the CONSTITUTION, would throw their weight into the national scale and give it a decided preponderancy in the contest.” The same principle applies to the Fed.

    In the Federalist, the People are WARNED to NOT let these politicians get away with these acts. By so doing, we our showing ourselves complacent, as if we don’t give a rat’s behind.
    Gov., being the perverse monster that it is by nature, (also in the Federalist), will TAKE as much as WE ALLOW it to.

    We need to be making a HUGE PUBLIC OUTCRY and tell them to CEASE and DESIST IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do so will be at our own peril, (AND OURS CHILDREN’S)!

    We The People ARE THE ULTIMATE LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY! The people in gov. are OUR SERVANTS! WE TELL THEM WHAT TO DO, not visa-versa!

  15. SayUncle » Gun Show Stuff Says:

    […] That said, being the incremental absolutist I am, if it’s trade they want, I’ll do that. I’ll trade it for either repeal of the sporting purposes language or the 1986 Hughes Amendment. […]

  16. SayUncle » Says:

    […] […]