Editor’s Notebook: Why, Virginia?

Feb 26, 2020

You wonder why legislative events in the Commonwealth are in the shape they’re in? We could talk about the urban vs. rural component, a feature in states from New York to Nebraska to Washington, with many in between. There is that, but the problem runs deeper.

Legislators there are doing what the voters want them to do; ‘voters’ is defined as “those who voted.” If you “sat this one out,” or “protest voted for the (non-Republican),” that’s a problem. You can clog Richmond with protestors – and you did – and those inside the statehouse seem to have taken some small note of it. You’ve temporarily avoided the ‘gun ban’ bullet, but it’s not gone forever.

Before someone points out that the party of Lincoln really isn’t much about which to write home regarding the issue of individual civil rights, I have to say that many of them forgot where they came from and they forget who voted them in. Still, the other party is well known now by correspondent Stephen Wenger’s moniker for them, “the Party of Infringement” (#partyofinfringement). Their position is well known, as shown in his news digest recently, when he noted “how solid a plank the eventual eradication of the RKBA is in the Progressive platform.”

There is no relevant Democrat on the national stage who’s not on record as being against the Second Amendment in some manner fashion or form. If that causes one to default to the party of Lincoln . . . then, sadly, it does.

Now someone will point out the position of Ronald Reagan on the subject. "The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor . . .” he’s alleged to have said.

More to the point is a similar claim by New York City mayor Ed Koch: “Agree with me on 9 of 12 issues, vote for me. Agree with me on 12 of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.” There’s something to that. I don’t have to agree with them on everything.

But there are bedrock issues upon which I resist ‘compromise.’ The natural rights of man – that’s human in ‘current-speak’ – are foundational. You want to horse around with various other things or nibble around the edges, let’s talk. If it’s, say, national gun registration -- that’s a NO.

Part of the problem is our lack of engagement. We’re reluctant to engage with people who hate us and that’s exactly where the clown-fringe of the left is; simply read what they say, listen to what they say. Too often, we sink to that level ourselves.

At least I have. That’s not going to move the needle and it needs moving.

In regards to that mindset, I read a book that’s arguably not the most positive toward the Second Amendment generally. Written by a cartoonist, Scott Adams, he explores ‘the bubble,’ the place we all seem to live. We all seem to have our own bubble, though my bubble is different in some measure than yours or his. We get into a circle of ‘reasoning’ which often isn’t – and even if it is reasonable, it’s often not persuasive.

And that gets us to the point. Persuasion is critical. We can’t persuade someone wrapped up in emotion by use of reason, but the clear majority will wander into reason periodically. We do . . . and they’re no less human. You just never know when a particular sample will slip into the mood for reasoned discourse.

The book Adams wrote is Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America. Of course, we’re not really ruining anything but our own lives and our own potential. He raises some of the arguments we tend to rely on and tries to demonstrate why it’s not a winning strategy. Consider the slippery slope: this makes it appear that once an infringement is in place it sets the stage for more infringements – that’s our argument and there’s historic evidence in place for its existence.

While the new regulation certainly makes it easier for the next one, it only has to be if enough people call for it. When they become aware of the decided lack of prosecutions under the latest regulation – or the previous one, the one before that and the one before that – it becomes apparent they’re being taken for a ride. Before you say that people aren’t smart enough to see that, consider the reason this book was written in the first place. It’s a best seller because people tend to want to be smart enough to see past that and other con games.

When pressed, the “I passed this new law” argument becomes “I have little control over individual US Attorneys’ offices and individual cases.” You know. It’s not my fault, I did my part. Now, let’s do more!

Consider binary thinking. “Common sense gun restrictions will help prevent the next (fill-in-the-blank)” opposed to “The proposed new law wouldn’t have prevented that particular case.” Scott argues that “friction” – making it tougher for the marginal types to be armed – causes less of them to be armed. This excludes the obvious point that they find other ways; it’s apparently impossible to keep inmates in prisons from fabricating shanks. Adams uses NFA 1934 by saying it’s the ‘friction’ that prevents more crimes with machine guns. Actually, that’s not true either. First, true machine guns are comparatively rare – and can be fairly easily fabricated, but seem to only rarely be illegally made. Why?

Machine guns are of limited utility even in the modern military (excluding crew-served and vehicle mounted applications). The offenders we are facing tend to be people who aren’t out trying to get something that will draw undue attention before they can express their violent criminality.

The ones who do are low-hanging fruit, getting nailed by one of the few infringements that will actually be prosecuted. Still enforcement should be tried; as long as we have NICS, it’d be helpful if those denied would be followed up on and some sanctions exacted. It’s here, let’s see if it could be relevant. Still, the ‘firearm genie’ is out of the bottle. Thinking you can stop it now is profound loserthink.

Speaking of ‘friction,’ there’s another bit of it to be considered. According to FBI-UCR, “Preliminary figures indicate that law enforcement agencies throughout the nation showed an overall decrease of 3.1 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention for the first 6 months of 2019 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2018. The violent crime category includes murder, rape (revised definition), robbery, and aggravated assault.”

Some of those events involve firearms and the data are trending generally down since the early 1990s. Is NICS the reason? The Clinton gun ban?

I can’t say. I can say that the “shall issue” concealed carry movement began in one of the states with high numbers of crimes involving firearms use – Florida – in 1986. The number of citizens opting to have permits has grown ever since. Perhaps the ‘friction’ of running across the armed citizen when doing crime has slowed it down . . . but correlation doesn’t prove causation. It’s just an interesting coincidence.


Consider your filters, the lens through which you see life. You may not be able to completely escape your bubble – why would you want to? – but you can use clearer filters to see what others think. That’s a start to changing minds.

You can persuade if you learn persuasion. And try to be the person you’d like others to be.

In any event, stay involved. Vote. Encourage others like us to vote.

- - Rich Grassi