As expected, this got long and grim. Sorry.
Saturday Claire posted one of her patented think pieces, and I’d probably have commented on it here before now except I never know how long that’s going to take and I’ve been rationing electricity. It’s titled “Sometimes I am so afraid,” and she nailed the one real gun control fear so squarely I wanted to tell her to shut the hell up about it lest the PTB figure out that this is where they should concentrate their efforts to corral us in.
At least since 1968, life as an American shooter has been an endless series of workarounds. They ban one thing, we substitute something else. They mandate some behavior we find obnoxious, we substitute with some other behavior that gets us where we want to go less painfully. Most of the time it’s possible to do what we’re going to do anyway while remaining within at least the letter of the law. You know what I’m talking about: They ban pistol grips and thumbhole stocks suddenly become popular. I know a bunch of people – maybe more than you – who hold gun control laws in complete contempt but never actually set out to break those laws. We just spend energy finding workarounds.
That’s where private sales come in. Some of us have purchased our weapons and gear privately for a long time, because we’re allergic to paper trails. Yes, yes, I know it’s paranoid. I’m not a big Alex Jones fan, but the fact remains that registration is and has always been a quiet reality. The 4473 form is a disease. It’s a plague. And private sales are the cure.
For years we’ve heard the gun grabbers decry the dreaded “gun show loophole.” Maybe the people who just parrot the latest talking point actually think gun shows are their problem, but we know they’re not. I don’t remember the last time I bought a gun at a show. It’s possible I never have. But I’ve bought guns from friends, and friends have bought guns from me. Nary an ATF form was to be seen in any of those transactions. That’s the way we like it.
Take that away, and we have a stark choice. The playing field just got too small for legal workarounds. We can either relax and enjoy DiFi’s brave new world, or we can become willful felons. Quite understandably, nobody’s anxious to face that choice.
The hell of it is, this would be a real dividing point among gun owners. A ban on private sales would leave many unaffected – or at least not fundamentally affected. There are FFLs who would actually be in favor of it, for obvious reasons. I would expect the NRA to see no problem with it. The rest of us would be left swinging in the wind.
Ban “assault weapons,” and life would pretty much go on. Even I have considered that I could probably get by with a lever carbine as my “public” long gun, and I’m a wacko. Ban private sales, and sooner or later I’ve got a real problem. I not only would have to be prepared to commit a federal felony next time I wanted a new gun, I’d have to find somebody else who had the gun I wanted and was also willing to declare himself a felon. Not so simple. What are the chances that person is a snitch?
So yes, it’s worth worrying about. And I don’t have a solution. People inclined to write letters to congressvermin are encouraged to do so, though I’m skeptical it’ll do any good. Maybe some of them still fear voter wrath.
In a way, though, part of me almost welcomes it. I’ve spent my entire adult life waiting for the action that finally, definitively, divides freedom-loving Americans from their would-be masters. They’ve chipped away at our wiggle room for decades: giving a bit here, taking a bit there, but always leaving us that little “loophole” that lets us stay just barely on the reservation. This would end that tacit truce, and sooner or later it has to end.
The pattern then will be the drug war. The feds have waged a vicious, committed – and futile – war against drug dealers and users for decades. When they’d filled the prisons, they built new prisons. People kept doing what they wanted to do anyway. Being a drug felon has practically become mainstream. Ex-cons are so common they hardly even bear a stigma.
That’s where committed gun owners are going. And yes, I fear it.
But it wasn’t me that put us here. It wasn’t Claire. It wasn’t you. And I sincerely hope that at last the situation will become so intolerable for enough people that a question will be asked, loud and often: Just where the hell do these people get off doing this to us? At what point does a government stop being accepted as “legitimate?”
That’s the kind of question no sane person wants to face. But if it comes, it won’t be us that brought us there.