Fayetteville, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- The comment section to my last article erupted in a blaze of friendly—and not so friendly—fire over my identification as a liberal and a progressive. According to many who responded, my position is one of compromise and communism, one that endangers the purity of the bodily fluids of the gun rights movement.
Where to begin? On the question of identifying the American left with Marxism. Some politicians—Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example—call themselves democratic socialists, by which they mean something different from what was meant by the now-defunct regimes of the Soviet Bloc, but most members of the Democratic Party in this country would fit in well with parties like the Tories in Britain.
I don’t expect many readers to agree, and the question is really a side issue in any case.
The central points are the nature of rights and how much anyone is willing to compromise on them.
One problem that shows up when we try to answer the first of those is that we all seem to have our own personal lists, and the conversation gets bogged down in the details before any unified field theory of rights is agreed upon. In my view, generally speaking, if what I’m doing does not force you to be involved, you have no justification for telling me not to do it. I think that is a point we can all agree on.
The succinct formulation of this is that I support the ability of a married same-sex couple to defend their legal pot farm with AK-47s—real ones, too, not just the semiautomatic versions that are within the price range of ordinary people in this country. Or AR-15s or whatever firearms they believe would best serve their interests. Which is to say that when they are on their private land doing their own things, I might be an invited guest, but in general terms, it’s none of my business.
Now if, let’s say, they are spraying some toxic chemical on their plants that flows downstream and gets into the environment, the situation has changed. That would mean that others are involved. Even in many cases in which others are made to participate to some degree, we should all be restrained in how much we feel entitled to tell others what to do. The car at the gas station that is pulsing with what its driver believes to be music is annoying, but this too shall pass. If, by contrast, ordinances that forbid the blasting of noise that wakes people up in the middle of the night are an acknowledgment that those sleepers also have rights.
How does this apply to gun rights?
It means that if you’ve spent your own money to buy firearms, ammunition, sighting devices, reloading equipment and parts, and sundry accessories to all of the above, congratulations and go in peace. I will do the same. The AK-47 was designed for people with shorter arms than mine, so I’ve given them a pass (yes, I know there are aftermarket stocks), but I love my Yugo SKS. I’ve learned to enjoy my ARs—15 and 10—and they have standard capacity magazines. As do my carry guns. I have no use for bump stocks, but banning them is plain silly and a slippery slope.
My point? The choices that I make regarding my armory are my right, as are the choices that you make regarding yours. Please don’t point your guns at me, and refrain from firing them without knowing where your shots are going—in other words, don’t harm people who aren’t trying to hurt you—and it’s all good. The law should reflect that.
I see little point in talking about compromises with the other side. Since gun control fails on pragmatic grounds—it doesn’t work as advertised and rarely does anything at all other than making life more difficult for those who aren’t doing anything wrong—and I’ve yet to meet a gun control advocate who understands that compromise means that both sides give some to get some.
The bottom line, the point that I’m sure I’ll return to in the future, is that the fight to protect gun rights is a coalition of the willing, not something that we can only do if we all agree on every plank of a particular party’s platform. Will most readers here agree with me on healthcare, a border wall, or taxes? Probably not. And so what? The more important subject here is gun rights, and working across the aisle whenever possible is a better way to preserve the exercise of those rights.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.