I was going to reply to the following response to my June 24 blog, Beware of Politicians Bearing Gifts, but the author has raised enough issues that I felt it worth making my response to her response into its own blog. (I have no idea whether the author is male or female, but I have to use a designation and I have opted to use the feminine gender.) She is clearly an intelligent lady, and clearly distressed by the terrorist attack in Orlando, but she differs from me in her hope for a solution. Here is her letter:
Why, the old “slippery slope” argument trotted out again. Some of the reforms being proposed were so common sense and benign, and VERY limited to specific scenarios, yet gun rights people like yourself claim to want to fix things, but resist every single possible attempt to try to do ANYTHING. Every politician on the other side automatically must have a hidden agenda designed wholly for the purpose to take away your rights bit by bit and take away your guns, (guns, guns, guns, they want my guns so they will have absolute control like Hitler!). There is no possible way that anyone in politics could possibly just be seeking a better way, especially those dirty Democrats who just want all your guns and really nothing else, save for medical care for brown babies, and maybe to let immigrants into our country, which is a new thing, not something that America actually stands for right?
Do some people here even listen to themselves? Do they even see reason any longer? Or are they so fully entrenched in ideology that nothing could possibly mean more than an idea or a liberty that is actually more illusion and conceptual than anything. Lets keep drawing lines in the sand and getting more firm in our beliefs, that’s how it ends for all of us you know, not how we move forward as a nation and solve our actual problems.
Mr. Parker, I’ve been a fan for a long, long time, but as someone who seems pretty well read and educated, I thought you of all people would see more reason. Yet the last couple years on this blog I have seen you progressively get more one sided and closed minded. No one is ever wholly right, or wrong. Us average people live our lives in the grey areas, and to be so far on one side or the other does more damage to our ideals than anything else happening today. Dismiss me as some liberal or other easy label, but it won’t make it true, I am a person who looks for truth, and I say to you that your words are only your version of the truth, and that you have stopped considering anything else that doesn’t fit into that version of the truth. Shame on you, and shame on us all who don’t look for answers, and a better way forward. If all people can do is parrot other people’s words, then they have no voice that is worth hearing. If you don’t like something, how come your only answer is to do NOTHING? Where are your ideas, where is your light in the darkness? To do nothing is a greater evil than updating a few outdated liberties that have become passé in a very different world than the one our founders could ever have conceived. If the answer is “more guns” or “leave it alone” then clearly you haven’t heard the question.
The true slippery slope is the one where you do nothing to stop your decent into the abyss.
Doubt this gets posted, but I hope at least one set of eyes reads it.
Let me start at the end: you do me wrong. In all the years I have been writing this blog, I have never refrained from the posting a comment from someone who criticized or disagreed with me. In fact, I not only post comments from people who disagree, frequently strongly, but I have also always posted comments from people correcting me on this, that, or the other. The only comments I do not post are the profanity-laden ad-hominem attacks written by people with low IQs. (If you have to use profanity to make your point, you have not succeeded in making your point and you clearly haven’t anything intelligent to say to begin with.)
I’m going to ignore your comment about “babies with brown skin” and the mention of immigrants because I have no idea what you are referring to and I assume it was just an anomalous outburst. I made no comment about immigrants or about babies of any color, nor are either of those issues affected by any aspect of the gun control/due process debate.
With those two items out of the way, let me try to address your concerns.
You seem to dismiss the concept of “slippery slope” as a fallacious argument. I could honestly, without exaggeration, utilize more words than I have written in the history of this blog giving you examples of well-intentioned legislation that descended into either unenforceable chaos (the Eighteenth Amendment would be a good example) or into something that was never intended when the law originally passed. An obvious example of the latter would be the Sixteenth Amendment which, when it was passed was intended to range solely from a one percent income tax on the low end (up to $20,000 which in today’s dollars would translate to about $300,000) to seven percent on the high end ($500,000 then, approximately $8,000,000 in today’s dollars). Who among us would not relish a return to those income tax rates? And yet, when one congressman rose to protest the very concept of any federal income tax with the words (I’m paraphrasing; it’s been over fifty years since I took this particular history class): “My opponent claims a starting tax rate of one percent. That’s today, but I can foresee a time when it will rise to two percent, then three, perhaps even someday as high as ten!” he was literally laughed off the floor as being unrealistically preposterous. So slippery slopes are far too real, too slippery, and too numerous for me to have to defend myself on that issue.
I know all too well some of the politicians arguing in favor of “no fly, no buy” do in fact have hidden or not so hidden agendas (Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Diane Feinstein—who once famously stated that if she could she would confiscate all the guns in the land, “Mr. and Mrs. America, too bad, turn ‘em in,”—would be good examples), while some are probably well-intentioned, but good intentions do not mitigate or compensate for a badly-crafted law.
“Or are [the readers of this blog] so fully entrenched in ideology that nothing could possibly mean more than an idea or a liberty that is actually more illusion and conceptual than anything.” I assume you are referring to the Second Amendment, which I would argue is a good deal more than mere illusion or concept, but I was actually discussing due process. Due process is such a critical part of our legal system it can be fairly said that without it America is no better than, oh, let’s say Venezuela, where people are starving in the streets, or Saudi Arabia, where a raped woman can be and usually is both flogged and imprisoned for having been raped. Due process applies specifically to the Amendments I mentioned in my original blog, so forget about the Second Amendment for a moment and ask yourself about those other amendments and liberties that would be jeopardized by doing away with the concept of due process. Are you really willing to so casually surrender rights that are dependent upon a fundamental aspect of the law that protects every single one of us? Because if you give up due process in the instance of the Second Amendment, it will be that much easier for it to be taken away in other instances, just as a tax of one percent can be raised… But no, that’s a laughable idea.
“Mr. Parker, I’ve been a fan for a long, long time, but as someone who seems pretty well read and educated, I thought you of all people would see more reason. Yet the last couple years on this blog I have seen you progressively get more one sided and closed minded. No one is ever wholly right, or wrong.” On the face of it, you are absolutely right, no one is ever wholly right or wholly wrong, but let me tell why I am one-sided and close-minded on this issue. If you disagree with me after I explain myself, we can then debate further.
If I lie to you, you would be a fool to trust me any further. I believe that’s a reasonable statement, and expounding on that, only a fool trusts a proven liar. Starting well before the creation of this blog, I researched every statement, pro- or anti-gun, that had any relation to magazine articles I was writing. Since starting my blog, I have even more assiduously tried to track down the truth of every statement I repeated or made myself. The final arbiters of truth I use vary from issue to issue, but when the issue is the Second Amendment, which probably accounts for ninety percent of all the arguments I have had to make, I rely on the FBI. They are arguably the finest law enforcement agency in the world, and they are the only completely non-partisan organization in this country to track and record the facts of all kinds of violent crime in America, breaking them down into every conceivable category and demographic you can imagine and a lot you probably never dreamed of. In close to fifteen years of doing this by utilizing the internet, and for longer than that before I had a computer, I have never once—not one single time—caught the NRA lying. I have caught the NRA using partisan studies that anti-gun sources deride (even when they can’t counter them) and I have caught it making tone-deaf comments when silence might have better served the purpose, but I have never caught them in a lie, even on topics where I personally disagreed with them. By way of contrast, I am not going to waste my time or yours by laboring over the stony and uneven ground of falsehoods that are repeated ad nauseam by politicians, the mainstream press, and every anti-gun organization out there; instead I will cite just one source for you to check up on: our president, Barack Hussein Obama. I’ll make it easy for you. Go to the virulently anti-gun Washington Post and look up their “Fact-Checker” column. Virtually every time the president opens his mouth about the gun issue, the Washington Post awards him another one or two or three or however many Pinocchios for, shall we say, taking liberties with the truth. If you are more ambitious and have a taste for doing your own research, read practically any statement or statistic quoted by other liberal politicians or on any of the various anti-gun organization websites (Everytown [sic] for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, Violence Policy Center, too many others) any of them, and then check those statements and those statistics against the dispassionate and objective numbers on the FBI Uniform Crime Report. Tell me what you find.
So when you say that I am becoming progressively more one-sided, you are absolutely right, because I would be a fool to trust a liar. The day I hear an honest statement from the other side, you will read me rejoicing right here on this blog. Until then, I will base my decisions about right and wrong and what is in the best interests of this country that I love so much on the truth, not on emotionalized spin or weary reiterations of deliberate dishonesty. My words are not “my version of the truth.” My words are the truth I find by doing the best research I can possibly do. And my words are written in good faith; if you catch me in a mistake, tell me and I will rectify it. Until then, don’t let yourself be fooled by those who have proven themselves unworthy of your or anyone’s trust.
“To do nothing is a greater evil than updating a few outdated liberties that have become passé in a very different world than the one our founders could ever have conceived.” The US Constitution was written precisely to protect your God-given, “unalienable rights [including] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those rights, and the liberties enumerated in the Constitution, were not passé when Aristotle wrote about them 2300 years ago, nor will they be passé 2300 years from now. The founding fathers knew both from history and from bitter experience that those rights could be taken away, either by sudden violence, or by gradual erosion, and they designed and crafted the Constitution as a bulwark to protect those rights, both by delineating certain liberties—liberty to worship as we choose, to speak our minds, to own property, to defend ourselves, and so on—and, at least as important, by severely curtailing the reach of government and limiting its power over those liberties. The founding fathers realized the necessity of that bulwark because they knew what so many seem to have forgotten today: that man’s essential nature is immutable. To deny that is to deny both human nature and the laws of evolution. Look around. Where do you see man so evolved that you can safely dispense with your liberties? In any of the strains and permutations of radical Islamic terrorism? Indeed, anywhere in the Levant other than Israel? In China’s saber-rattling and expansion of territory into international waters? In North Korea’s development of one nuclear weapon after another? In Iran’s quest for their own nuclear weapons, or in their stated desire to wipe America and Israel off the face of the earth? On the continent of Africa, where tribal animosities still erupt into the kind of wholesale bloodshed that occurred in Rwanda? In which corner of the globe will you hide with your rights, after you have relinquished your liberties and due process to the use and misuse of mere men who have all the same evolutionary instincts for good or ill as the rest of us? Or do you believe America is somehow immune from the laws of nature and evolution? Man is what he is, and the Constitution reflects man as he is, not as we would like him to be.
Finally, you have challenged me to offer my own solutions, my light in the darkness. I would humbly suggest that encouraging dialogue in this forum is one way to grope toward a solution. But beyond that, I do have a suggestion that would go a long way to curbing the violent criminal use of firearms. It would be to enforce the laws that are currently on the books. According to the Syracuse University Transitional Records Access Clearinghouse project, which tracks, among other things, ATF prosecutions, under Barrack Hussein Obama prosecutions of gun crimes have dropped to forty-five percent of what they were under George W. Bush, and it was too damned low even back then. (Interestingly enough, the ATF districts with the cities that have the strictest and most draconian gun laws in America—Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles—are the districts with the lowest rate of federal gun law enforcement, so we could start right there.) That’s one suggestion. Another novel concept might be to enforce the law that makes it a felony to lie on a federal form. Whenever a person wishes to purchase a firearm, he or she must fill out a National Instant Criminal Background Check System form 4473 (NICS, the background check that anti-gunners would like you to believe does not exist). Of the millions of applications to purchase a firearm in recent years, only 1.2 percent (76,142) resulted in a refusal (which reinforces the argument that the vast bulk of law-abiding gun owners are just that: law-abiding), and of those refusals, while some were overturned upon appeal, only sixty-two cases were referred for prosecution. Sixty-two. Total. Even the anti-gun, pro-Obama New York Times urged the government to pursue such cases. (To give the Times credit, it admitted that this was a step pro-gun organizations like the NRA have called for for decades.) I could give you more examples, but the bottom line is that if the government can’t be bothered to enforce the laws already on the books, why should anyone be in favor of yet more laws?
So when I see the president weeping in a news conference even as he claims a terrorist attack was “workplace violence,” or “a hate crime,” or a case of “gun violence,” when he knows damned well what the attack was and what the laws are and how they could be enforced; when I see anti-gun politicians sitting on the floor of the congress, wringing their hands and shrieking for more laws when they know damned well it is only political theater to suck in those who don’t know how many laws are already on the books, or what the reality of violent crime is, I am indeed moved, but only to contempt.
For the record, I am a survivor of so-called “gun-violence.” I was shot twice, so I have some skin in this game. I know all too well what the cost of violence is, both physically and emotionally, but I also know that punishing the law-abiding for the crimes of a tiny minority is as unethical as it is ineffectual. These are things worth thinking about over the Independence Day weekend.