Thursday, April 13, 2006

Absolutism vs. Incrementalism

Recently there was a bit of a conflict between some commenters at David Codrea's place and Kevin Baker of The Smallest Minority on partial victories (and partial defeats) in the battle to regain our gun rights. It more or less boiled down to absolutism vs. incrementalism -- or, if you will, compromise vs. no compromise. I tend to lean towards the "no compromise" position, myself. While it may not be the best course of action, the fact is that any kind of compromise in the battle for gun rights means that at least some people are going to be stripped of their rights -- for example, starting in 2007, Nebraskans will be able to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Nebraska, but they won't be able to carry in Omaha or Lincoln. There are those who would say that it should have been all or nothing -- that either everyone gets to carry or no one gets to carry. And I'll admit I's absolutely unconscionable that those in charge in Omaha or Lincoln could actually get away with such a blatant usurpation of their citizens' natural right (Yes, I know, it's happening in many other places too, but I really expected better in a place like Nebraska.)But, here's the thing. The pro-gun forces in the Nebraska legislature should not stop there. They should look the gun bigots in the eye and say, "This isn't the end...we won't stop until we get total victory." How well that would work, I am not sure; it may well be that the gun bigot mentality is so entrenched in Omaha and Lincoln that their representatives in the Nebraska Legislature would not ever consent to lifting the ban on concealed carry there. But incrementalism really shouldn't necessarily be thought of as a bad thing. After all, we all know the gun bigots have succeeded in eroding our gun rights over the years. And how do you think they did it? A little at a time. In increments. The same strategy could work just as well for us. We can always give ground with the intention of going back for it later -- but that's the key: going back for it later...not giving it up entirely. And that, I think, is what folks like David Codrea are worried about. I can't blame them, as I worry about it myself, because if you keep on giving without even trying to take back, you're just going to keep giving and giving and giving until you have nothing left. Compromise? Sure, go right ahead...with the ultimate goal of advancing a little further. They've taken our rights away, a little at a time. And we can get them back, a little at a time.