Every now and then I receive a comment along the lines of, what’s the use, we can’t win, they’re too powerful, Putin can’t be stopped, our leaders are too weak and decadent, the left controls everything, the media is out to get us, etc.
I just stumbled across the best antidote for this breed of defeatism I have yet heard. It is a PJTV video of famed law professor Glenn Reynolds, covering the recent NRA convention in Nashville. The clip is short, only 2 minutes long, but it packs a punch. Here is a partial transcript for those who don’t have time to watch the whole thing:
“The real reason they’re happy is because they’re winning. It hadn’t always been that way.
I have been writing about gun rights for 20 years and 20 years ago people weren’t winning. And they weren’t happy. 20 years ago, the media was all against people interested in gun rights, they were losing battles and there was a real temptation to hunker down and to see how long you could hold out. Instead, they fought back. They won. …
The reason why they are winning is simple: it’s because they fought. You can’t win without fighting and they fought. They fought everywhere, they didn’t give up, they made arguments year after year, they campaigned in elections, when all they could get was half of what they wanted, they took it and went for the rest later. They fought and they won.
That’s a lesson for people in other parts of the conservative and libertarian movement. … I think gun right is a real model of what you can do if you are just willing to fight. … If you don’t show up, you don’t win. If you want to win, you better show up and you better fight. That’s the lesson here from the NRA convention.”
In Canada, in the early 1990’s, the odds against gun owners were even worse. The first round of gun laws were passed by the Progressive Conservative Party and Canada’s then-Justice Minister (and future Prime Minister), Kim Campbell. We were in a real pickle, because the closest thing that Canadian gun owners had to a political ally - the Progressive Conservatives - had just declared total war on us. We had no allies and we were under assault on all sides, including by a uniformly hostile media. But we had one advantage. We were on Death’s Ground. We had no choice but to fight - no matter what. And we did. And we won.
To see how hard the road facing us back then was, consider this: our first order of business was to destroy the ruling Progressive Conservative Party. And we did that. Gun owners were the shock troops of the newly formed Reform Party, which led to vote-splitting in the 1993 federal election. This was followed by 10 years of Liberal dominance – and even more draconian gun laws. But in the fullness of time, we defeated them too. And the newly reconstituted Conservative Party that replaced them proved to be friendly to us – because we were involved, from the get-go, in reconstituting the party. As a result, the long-gun registry has been repealed and significant deregulation of current gun laws are in the works. So don’t tell me it can’t be done. If scattered and disorganized and politically inexperienced Canadian gun owners could do it in the early 90’s, so can you today.
So here is my message to pessimistic, defeatist conservatives: Go Away. Far away. Your weakness and fecklessness means you won’t accomplish much good even if you stay, and your cowardice might spread to others. Fear is contagious.
Instead, go join the Liberal Party. I’m sure you will do some good for our side over there.