” In April, the Senate rejected the Toomey-Manchin gun control proposal. In the wake of its defeat many asked why gun owners and their organizations resisted so limited a measure. Granted, it would have had little but symbolic benefit. Its core was to require background checks at gun shows (which Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded involved a whole 0.8 percent of crime guns) and on Internet gun sales (a miniscule proportion, most of which probably go through licensed dealers anyway). But why not accept something so modest, in light of the draconian ideas then being floated as alternatives?
Understanding the rejection requires understanding gun owners’ shared experiences. Compromise requires that both parties relinquish something. If your counterpart’s position is “give me this now, and I’ll take the rest later,” there is no real compromise to be had. Over decades, that has been precisely the experience of American gun owners.
Back in 1976, Pete Shields, chairman of what is today the Brady Campaign, candidly laid out the blueprint for The New Yorker:
” We’re going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily — given the political realities — going to be very modest. Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time. My estimate is from seven to ten years. The problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns sold in this country. The second problem is to get them all registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal.” “