The “Third Way” Plan for Gun Abolition

by Richard Poe
Thursday, August 2, 2001

12:00 am Eastern Time
1 Comment

THERE IS no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Jesus was talking about Satan in that famous passage from John 8:44. Yet he could have been describing gun prohibitionists, a group that lies more fluently and shamelessly than any other in public life.

Take Joe Lockhart. In the July 31 Washington Post, Bill Clinton’s former flack pretended to offer a moderate new approach to gun control. But his “new” approach smells as fresh as a year-old carton of eggs.

Lockhart started on a humble note. Indeed, he has plenty to be humble about.

Inspired by polls showing that gun control would be a key issue for two-thirds of U.S. voters in the 2000 election, Democrats trumpeted their hostility to firearms.

“I think they should be banned, yes,” said Al Gore to Larry King on Sept. 16, 2000. “These semiautomatic handguns … they really have no place in our society.”

Americans responded by joining the National Rifle Association in record numbers, swelling its ranks to 4.3 million by year-end. More than half of U.S. voters stayed home on Election Day, but almost 19 out of 20 licensed hunters who were registered to vote made it to the polls, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

“I believed in the issue and thought it was good politics,” Lockhart admitted. “Put simply, I got it wrong.” Lockhart now concedes that “gun control cost Al Gore the presidency and the Democrats control of the House and Senate.”

So what’s a Democrat to do?

According to Lockhart, they should abandon their radical anti-gun stance and embrace a “third way” — a compromise that respects gun rights while “supporting common-sense gun safety laws.”

How reasonable! Yet, on closer inspection, Lockhart’s “third way” gives off an aroma strangely redolent of the snake oil that gun prohibitionists have been peddling for decades.

Nineteenth-century British socialists would have called Lockhart’s strategy “Fabian,” after the Roman general Fabius Cunctator — Fabius the Delayer. When Hannibal invaded Italy in the third century B.C., the Romans were too weak to beat him in open battle. So Fabius wore Hannibal down through small attacks.

Renouncing open revolution, England’s Fabian Society likewise pushed for small “reforms,” designed to move England step by step toward socialism.

The gun ban movement in America has long followed a Fabian strategy.

“We’re going to take this one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily — given the political realities — going to be very modest,” said Handgun Control Inc. founder Nelson T. “Pete” Shields to The New Yorker on July 26, 1976.

The first step, said Shields, would be “to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country.” The second would be “to get handguns registered,” while “the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition … totally illegal” for ordinary citizens.

Sarah Brady appears to share her predecessor’s radical agenda. “To me, the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes,” she told the Tampa Tribune.

Lockhart’s “third way” is an old Fabian trick.

In the May 23, 1999 New York Times, David E. Rosenbaum argued that there had once been two “extremes” in the gun debate — those who wanted to ban handguns, and those who wanted “the right to own and carry guns more or less at will.”

Now both sides had found a “third way,” he exulted. Both had agreed that some “common-sense” gun control was necessary. Sound familiar?

Rosenbaum compared the situation to the fight over health care. Some extremists had wanted to socialize medicine, he noted, while others had opposed government meddling altogether. Eventually, we got Medicare and Medicaid, said Rosenbaum — the perfect “third-way” compromise.

Or was it? Decades later, Sen. Hillary Clinton is still demanding national health care. Those who want government out of medicine altogether have become an extinct species.

When Hitler marched on the Rhineland, the Allies did nothing. When he took the Sudetenland, they did nothing again. At each step, the Allies hoped to appease Hitler with “compromise.” But each compromise only brought the Fuhrer closer to his goal.

Mr. Lockhart’s “third way” is just another name for the strategy of Fabius Cunctator. It remains to be seen whether the defenders of gun rights will, like Hannibal, succumb to this ploy or whether, like the Allies in World War II, they will finally awake to the danger in the nick of time.

Cross-posted from FrontPage 08.02.01
Cross-posted to 08.03.01


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