Since the election we’ve been bombarded with the notion that gun owners need to present a united front against the prohibitionists who wish to restrict the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. I agree with the sentiment, but I think the idea of solidarity can be taken to an illogical extreme, and in fact has been.
When someone in our camp – like the gun store owner in Arizona who publicly declares that he doesn’t want Democrats in his establishment, or the trainer who states on video that he’s ready to start killing people – does something stupid, it’s our responsibility to make it clear that those views are not those of the majority of gun owners. If necessary, we need to cull them from our ranks so that they can’t do any more harm to our cause. I’ve been calling this the “Shut The Hell Up” movement; regular readers will recall several instances of late where I’ve called for someone to just Shut The Hell Up.
Now I’ve been told (and had at least two volatile discussions at SHOT on the topic) that this lack of solidarity will “embolden our enemies.” Folks, make no mistake: our enemies already hate us. The fact that gun owners exist at all is what drives them; they cannot be more emboldened than they already are. They do not derive their motivation from whatever discord exists in our ranks, because discord is always present in any group of more than three people. Their focus will always be on the stupid stuff which causes the discord, because it’s the stupid stuff we do (or allow to be done in our name) which gives them a political advantage.
For instance: if someone were to go on YouTube and declare that he’s ready to start shooting people if his rights are infringed another inch, and the rest of the community (properly) excommunicated him for being an idiot, which action do you think the prohibitionists would derive motivation from? Which do you think they’d focus on and issue press releases about – the crazy, radical statements of the nutcase or the sane, measured opinions of the people who no longer want anything to do with him? Right: they’ll focus on the former, because that’s where the real damage to our cause is done. The fact that others disagree with him gives them no advantage, and in fact weakens their contention that all gun owners are just a step away from becoming maniacal killers.
Discord is in fact an advantage to our side because it shows we are responsible. It’s not something we should fear but rather something we should embrace because it makes our case stronger.
The idea that the need to present a united front requires we not criticize those in our corner who do stupid things is self-destructive. Continuing a relationship with people or ideas that have damaged our public image or our political positions does far more harm than the small amount of internal angst that is generated by their exorcism. The former lasts; the latter is quickly forgotten, if it’s noticed at all.
Rob Pincus wrote a very good essay on this topic a few days ago, one which largely mirrors my opinion on the subject. I wholeheartedly encourage you to read it.
-=[ Grant ]=-