by Martin Harris
The old saw about two ears and one mouth, meaning that one should listen twice as long as one might speak, was proven true a few nights back at an informal Tea Party discussion-group meeting here in Central Appalachia. The subject was, of course, the proposed Progressive/Liberal/Left/Democrat plans to neuter the Second Amendment, using the recent Connecticut school shooting as the “crisis too good to waste”.
Here in the redder part of recently-turned-politically-red Tennessee, there wasn’t sympathy for the various gun control measures –licensing and registration for hand guns, outright prohibitions and eventually confiscation for long guns– now being floated by the usual PLLD activists, and there was a lot of support for the Jackson County, Kentucky, Sheriff Denny Peyman who recently held a meeting to re-assure his constituents that his office wouldn’t enforce any such requirements. It was widely-publicized afterwards. There was considerable discussion of the statistics of gun mis-use, with citation of a number of sources showing that some 96% of gun crime turns out to have been committed in rigorous-gun-control jurisdictions (think Chicago and the District of Columbia) and a similar percentage turns out to have been committed with small hand guns, not long rifles.
Like mostly suburban/exurban/rural gun-owners in fly-over country anywhere else –even Vermont is, in high gun ownership and low gun crime, a “red state”– the group was made up almost exclusively of long-gun owners and there wasn’t a gun-crime type, long- or hand-, in the bunch. The pattern was nicely illustrated by a recent Wall Street Journal chart: at the top for “fire-arms homicides” are “minority central community types”; at the top for gun shops is “tractor country”. It was no surprise when the inevitable question came up: “why doesn’t the government focus on the places where, and the types of, guns are actually being criminally used, instead of focusing on us non-criminal types and our non-criminal gun ownership?” One answer was offered. It was a listening moment.
The speaker suggested that the “usual PLLD activists” (Humble Scribe label; he used some more colorful adjectives) don’t care much, all their own elaborate gun-control laws notwithstanding, about what happens nightly on Chicago’s South Side or in DC’s SouthEast quadrant, so long as the mayhem stays in the “hood” and doesn’t expand North to the up-scale Lake Shore Drive area or the two Gentry-Left NE and NW quadrants, but that they are increasingly apprehensive about anticipating what could come out of increasingly disaffected middle-class citizenry everywhere except the central cities.
He bases his argument on the remarkably sudden post-Election emergence of the Tenth Amendment Centers across the country, and the equally remarkable phenomenon of the Secession Petitions coming out of all 50 States, even the politically-blue ones, both with the promise (or perceived threat, perhaps) of morphing from symbolic to serious status, and argues that the PLLD’s perceive (us) middle-class heartland citizens with long-held Constitutional beliefs and long-held rifles as more of a long-range threat to their power and status than the gangs of semi-literate urban-center street thugs who actually depend on (and reliably vote for, even if illegally in-country) a re-distributionist government for food, clothing, shelter, and a bit of walking-around-money as well, via street sale of, say, surplus Food Stamps. Then he segued into a discussion of “asymmetrical warfare” (Humble Scribe phrase; he used “local resistance”) and his basic argument: under such conditions, hand guns are next to useless, but semi-automatic rifles, with large-capacity clips, are essential.
He didn’t make the usual historical references to Roger’s Rangers, Marion’s Swamp Foxes, or Quantrill’s Raiders, but did bring up his first-hand Viet-Nam experience as illustrative of insurgency, even when under-equipped compared to an occupying force, making the cost-of-stay (a little HS lingo, originally from a quite-different context, there) pricier than the PLLD occupiers would be willing or even able to bear.
He did make reference to his view of the underlying political calculus: the PLLD leadership postures for gun control (in urban areas, where the city councils are more-than-amenable) so that when, less-than-rigorously-enforced, it fails; and then the failure can be used to argue for more of the same; which explains why failure-to-enforce is policy. The two-part goal is calculated ordinance failure, enabling more severe ordinances; and a calculated enforcement failure, thereby avoiding voter hostility. Thus, the original policy decision to focus on long guns held by law-abiding non-urban types, not usually the natural PLLD constituency and therefore not a vote-loss risk; as opposed to urban-preference hand-guns held by reliable “voters-for-stuff.” It helped, originally, that M16-type rifles could be characterized as mean-looking assault rifles (which they are) while the appearance and function of, say, six-shot revolvers, which have been in widespread private ownership since the mid-19th century, and are just as semi-automatic as their long-barrel cousins, could be, and has been, conveniently disregarded.
His thesis is that the PLLD focus on long guns started out, originally, as a typical Progressive we’re-smarter-than-you and will care-for-you campaign based on image (military appearance) and political safety (owned by a non-PLLD electorate) but was shifted quietly for a new and unspoken set of reasons: heartland-voter discontent with recent governance actions regarding debt and deficits, currency debasement, re-distributionist philosophies, destructive energy and environmental regulations, and so on. It was the earlier, unexpected, grass-roots resistance to various management and budgeting aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which triggered (forgive the verb-choice) the pre-Election PLLD concern over a possible grass-roots rebellion (which has since become quite real, with more than half of the States now declining to participate in the local aspects of it) and then the even-more-worrisome post-Election emergence of the Tenth Amendment and Secession movements, however symbolically they might have been originally intended.
Aside from a handful of questions during his brief presentation, there wasn’t any response afterward: no agreement, no rebuttal. The discussion moved on to a quite-different subject. Maybe that’s because his thesis wasn’t all that new and innovative to the discussors, even if it was definitely so for your Humble Scribe, to whom, as a first-time listener, it seemed quite persuasive. In Eastern TN, where the voter coloration is 70% red 30% blue, you’d expect a different evaluation from, say, VT, where the voter coloration is 70% blue and 30% red. How you see it –another old saw– depends on where you stand.