I'm a gun nut and I include hunting in my nuttery. A large portion of the spring and summer is taken in my quest for the perfect hunting load in one of a number of cartridges. I spend Sundays at the range and week nights poring over targets and measuring bullet holes looking for that perfect load. However, whenever we talk about gun laws, the two catch-phrases of the gun banners come to the forefront. One of them is "compromise", and the other is "reasonable gun law". Scheider hits on both of them in the same sentence.
Even after enduring the name-calling, I admire the dedication of gun nuts. Guns, guns, guns--that’s all that matters to these people. They’ve closed their minds to compromise. To them, there’s no such thing as a common sense gun law. Because of their single-mindedness, they get it done. Ask any politician who has proposed a “reasonable gun law.”To my way of thinking, we've already compromised. A couple of examples of legislation come to mind. First of them is the National Firearms Act of 1934. We agreed, as a nation, that certain classes of firearms should be regulated. We regulated them. While we might dicker over the particulars, the law was a compromise. Lots of firearms were made illegal at the stroke of a pen.
Next, we come to the Gun Control Act of 1968. We agreed after the shootings of some high-powered activists and politicians that it probably wasn't a good idea to allow people to order guns through the mail. That was a compromise and it's still on the books. We've learned to live with it, although some of us don't particularly like it. That law set up a number of restrictions to owning a firearm and is still the law today.
Next we find the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, also known as the Assault Weapons ban. Our Congress agreed, in compromise, that it would sunset in 10 years if no action was taken to extend it, and after the great 10 year experiment, it was found to have done nothing to reduce crime. It was not re-enacted and expired. All of that was compromise.
There are plenty of laws currently on the books that are the result of compromise and that are reasonable on their face. It's still illegal to murder someone, regardless of the weapon used. It's still against the law to harm someone with a firearm and numerous jurisdictions offer enhanced penalties for the use of a firearm in connection with a crime. These laws are compromise and are readily available for use.
The problem is that when someone wants compromise they don't want to give up anything. So, I ask Bill Schneider, what are you willing to compromise on? What are you willing to give up? Or is all the talk of compromise and reasonableness just an excuse to further erode my right?
We've compromised and it's gotten us nothing.