Why would the compromise of absolute principles be considered desirable?
That question was posed to me in the comments section of this blog, and I think that it’s actually a worthwhile question that deserves an answer. In light of recent activities on the pro-gun front, there has been a lot of talk regarding 2nd Amendment absolutism vs. pro-2A stances that aren’t as hardline.
Uncle, Sebastian, and a few others including myself have all penned pieces recently on what kind of gun control we’d be willing to accept in the aftermath of the VA Tech shooting. The NRA has been merciless flagellated by some conservative blogs for supporting the measure before Congress to “improve” the NICS system.
It might come as a surprise to some that I’m actually a hardline 2A guy. I believe that “shall not be infringed” means precisely that, I believe that a great percentage of our current laws restricting the ownership and possession of firearms are un-Constitutional. The catch is that while I believe that “shall not be infringed” means exactly that; there aren’t a lot of people in positions of power that agree with me.
That’s why I’m willing to compromise on my absolutist beliefs. A quote that I’ve heard many times from several different people is “you have to know which hills are worth dying on”; or more succinctly: “Pick your battles”.
The essence of compromise is give a little to get a little. I’m willing to compromise a bit in my absolutist beliefs if I feel that giving in one area will allow me to gain in another area. Unfortunately, that brings me around to my concern lately. I worry that our the 2A compromises of late have been nothing of the sort, instead of giving a little to get a little, we’ve given a little and received nothing in return. That isn’t a compromise at all, it’s a surrender of liberty.
Just as an example of the kind of compromise I have in mind: I would like nationwide reciprocity for concealed carry permits. To get this, I would be willing to have a training standard placed on all states concealed carry permits. Additionally, I would be willing to see .50 BMG rifles reclassified as NFA weapons to get my nationwide reciprocity bill passed.
That doesn’t mean that I want to see .50 BMG rifles classified as NFA weapons. I’d rather they weren’t. What it means is that I personally place a higher value on the concept of nationwide reciprocity than I do on .50 BMG rifles.
I have a lot of absolute principles. The problem with my absolute principles is that I don’t live in an absolute world – there are a lot more shades of gray in my everyday life than there are black & whites. The compromise of my absolute principles would be desirable if by so doing I could achieve an outcome that I placed higher value on than I place on my absolutism.