Finding a Common Premise in the Gun Argument

As much as people say they hate politicizing tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary, it only took hours before political arguments were being made.  And much too quickly and eagerly, people begin debating their conclusions before deciding whether or not they agree on the premises.

Everybody agrees that what happened in Newtown, CT is a tragedy.  NOT everybody agrees that it could have been prevented.  This, I think, is the root of the argument’s divergence.

Will banning assault weapons and their magazines prevent their use in crimes?  If the answer is yes, then I am all for it.  I certainly have no use for an assault weapon and it is my belief that nobody else in the country has a need for one as well.  From my world in my perspective, nobody needs assault weapons.

But I respect and understand that the world does not exist solely from my perspective, and I do not believe that banning assault weapons will eliminate assault weapons.  And when somebody making the gun-ban argument concedes this point, then we need to move the discussion elsewhere.  If the argument is to continue on gun limits, then it must be with the admission that it will not prevent this type of violent crime.  Neither new laws nor existing laws will stop people intent on breaking the law.

On ABC’s This Week, Mayor Cory Booker went down this fine line, and I want to thank him for the retweet :).  And looking at some of his other mentions on Twitter, I’m not the only Tea Party-type to agree with argument that legally armed people are not the problem with violent crime.   I’ll even link to his article on the Huffington Post where talks about laws regarding second-hand gun shows, mental health, gun trafficking.  But before I stick on my “Booker for Senate” button, we ought to make a clear line between responsibly sacrificing liberty and actively promoting tyranny.

For over a century, we’ve given progressives inch after inch and they have never relented from their goals.  There is a vocal minority that wants to ban all guns.  This minority was vocal decades ago and they are vocal today.  Even if they get temporarily silenced at this time by a responsible majority, they will see any gun ban as one of a long line of victories.

So am I a TeaParty nutjob for putting everything into a Liberty and Tyranny framework?  Progressives think so – Progressives in BOTH parties think so (and I’m talking about you, Steve LaTourette)!  When I hear arguments on talk shows, I hear conservatives speaking from this framework and liberals “just wanting to do something.”  I hope Booker can speak with the language of liberty.  Maybe it will encourage Republicans to do the same.

Jim DeMint Moves Onward and Upward

I shared the reaction of all conservatives when I heard that Jim DeMint was going to resign from the Senate – I was shocked and discouraged that one of our own was leaving a position of power.  Maybe he was discouraged as well and was going to leave public life and live in the mountains.  Maybe he was being chased out or chastised into thinking that his brand of Republicanism was no longer welcome.

This feeling lasted about ten minutes.  I thought about the “power” a Senator really has versus the influence of a group like the Heritage Foundation.  A think tank like Heritage has the sole power of communicating information and persuading people to their side of an argument.  Conservatives certainly need help in persuading voters, and I think that’s exactly his plan after listening to DeMint and current president Edwin Feulner on various talk shows.

Neither of them seem to want elections to simply be “turnout” elections.  Looking back at Reagan (as we often do), we see that 1980 was not a turnout election.  Sure the media and social culture as it was back then had favored Carter and the Democrats in general, but the Reagan landslide was a result of winning the argument of ideas.  Those people who came out to vote simply decided that Reagan was a better choice than Carter.  Reagan was able to turn Democrat voters into Reagan voters.

For the next few election cycles the Democrats needed to work to change people’s minds back to voting Democrat.  Clinton was able to change people’s minds in 1992 as he was running as a more conservative New Democrat, although it is difficult to get an accurate reading of its influence because of the additional effect of Ross Perot.  The Bush-Gore race was so close, I’m not sure we can say if there was more choice that caused the Bush win or if it was turnout.  Beginning in 2004, however, I think the Bush and Kerry camps were much more motivated by the turnout of their voters than they were about changing minds.  The Obama victories have further proven that Republicans are not winning on ideas, and they seem to have big problems with turnout.

So Jim DeMint is going to Heritage to help design the conservative argument for America and its limited form of government.  In this role, I think he could have more power than he had as a Senator.  People like Jennifer Rubin and Dana Milbank are predictably blind to anything beyond their next bowel movement.  The Jim DeMint they know only exists as a Senator, as if nothing he has done before matters.   Like dismissing the fact that  “freshman” Allen West was a Lt. Col. in the Army, they ignore DeMint’s 15 years of running a market research company.

For them, it’s all politics.  Milbank, one of the many progressives in Washington media, can only see conservative arguments as simple-minded and hackneyed phrases from generations gone by.  Rubin, the progressive on the right for the Washington Post, only values a Senator for what laws he has passed.  Well to any extent that Jim DeMint has stopped destructive and inane legislation from either side has been a victory for conservatives.

And as many have pointed out, DeMint can take deserved credit in getting Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio into the Senate.  Many of us saw the necessity of DeMint-style conservatism when we saw the establishment get behind Arlen Specter in 2004 and only a brave few souls supporting Pat Toomey.  Toomey lost that race, but won six years later.  And if DeMint is replaced by somebody like Tim Scott, then the Senate is ideologically unchanged.

All forward momentum that I felt during these last four years have been negated by the totality of 2012 election: the presidency, the two seat loss in the Senate, and the eight seat loss in the House.  The GOP lost and we need to regroup.  I’m sure that DeMint will continue to be a stong voice for conservatism and we can start winning arguments again.