L. Neil Smith's
Number 257, February 1, 2004

"It's up to you, Democrats"

Calling All Democrats
by L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to TLE

I must be a masochist or something.

The last time I offered advice to Democrats, the results were a bit disappointing, to say the least. In a column like this, I spoke plainly, as I always do—and the whimpering went on for months.

Now here I am again, with an idea that could easily win them the 2004 election, rid us all of perhaps the most dangerous presidential administration this weary nation has ever had to suffer, and alter not only the course of American history, but—I believe, and I believe you Democrats believe it with me—the history of humanity itself.

It's simple, really. Depending on who's telling the tale, Bush either won the last election, or lost it, by the narrowest of margins. Anything might have tipped the balance, allowing Democrats to win big enough that stealing the election would have been impossible.

We could waste lots of time and space arguing what that "anything" might have been. I know one thing that would have done it beyond the palest possible shadow of a doubt—and could again this November.

Require your presidential candidates (all of them, because nobody knows who's going to win the nomination, and I can't tell the buggers apart) to sign a written pledge that two laws—that would not have passed during the Clinton years without the enthusiastic help of Republicans—will not be renewed when they "sunset" later this year.

Those two laws are the so-called "Brady Bill", specifically meant to intimidate women out of purchasing the means of self-defense (it'll help if you remember that James and Sarah Brady are Republicans) and the ban on certain non-automatic weapons and magazines of adequate capacity. In order to work, the pledge must include a promise that no more gun laws of any kind will be passed during the next couple of Democratic administrations.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Just bear with me for a moment.

There are something like seventy million gun owners in America. You can find guns in about half of the homes in this country (although it might be unhealthy to look too hard). Somewhere between five and ten percent of the country's gun owners are political about it.

They continue to believe, despite the surreal pronouncements of the Ninth Circuit Court and the cowardly evasions of the US Supreme Court, that every man, woman, and responsible child has an unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human right to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon—rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything—any time, any place, without asking anyone's permission.

Yes, I know you disagree with that. But that isn't the point, is it?

These individuals, mostly Constitutional conservatives (as opposed to the body-snatching pod-conservatives presently wielding power) are outraged at the corrupt and unconstitutional excesses of the Bush Administration. The Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, election laws intended to maintain incumbents in office until the sun burns out, are only the latest items on a long list. And they're on the verge of voting Libertarian, or not voting at all. That's between four and seven million new votes that could be yours at virtually no cost.

Over the past several decades, despite massive efforts, mostly on the part of Democrats, to prevent it, the number of gun owners—and guns owned—in this country has skyrocketed. At the same time, more than half the states have enacted laws permitting ordinary folks to carry concealed weapons. Violent crime rates have plummeted. Vermont, which requires no carry permit, has the lowest crime rate of all.

These are facts that would-be gun controllers hate. But if you embrace them—instead of childishly denying them—they'll give you a good excuse to demilitarize the police, nationwide, and reduce their numbers, so that the money can be spent on something else.

And here's another thought. Most Democrats regard the National Rifle Association as their natural enemy, and with good reason. But not the reason they think. Veterans of the decades-long battle over guns recognize that the NRA is not on the side of gun owners. It's no more than a front for the Republican Party and it has been since its inception shortly following the War Between the States.

Life has become more and more difficult for the NRA ever since the Republicans began to show their true colors, beginning with the help Bob Dole gave the Clinton Administration during passage of the Brady Bill and the law against certain non-automatic weapons and magazines of adequate capacity. It is increasingly clear that the interests of gun owners and the NRA are not parallel, but diverge more every day.

If Democrats gave up trying to take everybody's guns away (no, no, save that "sporting use" crap for somebody who believes it), then what would the NRA do? Where would it go? How would it make a living?

They say that in politics, perception is everything. If Democrats accept my suggestion, though, they'd better be prepared to do better than that. People on this side of the issue have been fighting for generations, and we're tired of lies. Make us believe you, and together we can end one of the ugliest chapters in American history.

It's up to you, Democrats.

Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collection of articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at http://www.lneilsmith.org. Autographed copies may be had from the author at lneil@lneilsmith.org.


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