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"NO-COMPROMISE means our rights and liberties are not bargained for, ever, especially when we get nothing in return. Giving something up without getting anything in return is not "compromise," it's surrender."

Armed Females Mission Statement

By Nicki Fellenzer

NickiMuch has been debated lately on the subject of compromise. I’ve heard some claim that since we lost our rights gradually, the only way we’re going to get them back is bit by bit. I’ve heard claims that small victories are better than no victories at all. And I’ve heard assertions that just because someone believes in giving a little to protect the bigger picture – the right to keep and bear arms – they aren’t traitors or without principles.

I’d like to address this today, because it appears personal attacks within the gun rights movement regarding this particular issue have reached a fevered pitch. Reputations are being smeared, personal lives are being dragged through the mud, character assassination abounds.

And quite frankly, I’m sick of it!

So please allow me to explain. Compromise in and of itself is not an evil or unprincipled thing. Mutual concession between two entities who each have different desires is not wrong, in and of itself. The only time compromise becomes unprincipled or lacking in moral fiber, is when the objective principle of good and bad is at stake.

Some folks will argue that the objective principles of good and bad do not exist. They are wrong, and it is this relativist lack of virtue that has gotten us in trouble today.

What are objective principles of good and bad? Life, personal property, freedom – those who would compromise away those principles are the ones I want to take aim at today.

Listen, friends. I have no problem with differing approaches to restoring our right to keep and bear arms. I have no problem with fighting to gradually restore our rights, or coming out full force, guns blasting. What I DO have a problem with is the following:

I take issue with compromise for political expediency. No one has the authority to trade our rights like so much raw beef on the open market. Our rights are not a commodity. They are not owned by the government, by the courts, or by the NRA. You may not use something that doesn’t belong to you as a tool of exchange. It’s like using stolen money to buy you your heart’s desire. You may be able to do it, but it’s immoral and wrong.

I cannot stand the thought of turf wars when it comes to our rights. Restoring our right to keep and bear arms does not belong to one person or organization. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us. It is my right to disagree with your approach. It is my right and even my duty, as an honest individual, to point out errors in your tactics. But it is certainly not appropriate to condemn you in public, decry your incompetence without concrete proof, smear your good name, assassinate your character or try and destroy, devastate or hamper your efforts in any other way. It is the mark of a miserable mediocrity. It’s the mark of a thief. And it’s the mark of an unprincipled swine intent on protecting its own turf. People who cannot argue issues rather than issue personal attacks obviously don’t have very strong defenses for their positions, or they’d debate the issues

So what of compromise?

As I said earlier, I don’t mind compromise, as long as it doesn’t do long-term harm to the rest of us. I don’t mind compromise, as long as it isn’t a compromise with evil at the expense of good and wrong at the expense of right.

The NICS Improvement Act is not an NRA compromise I can live with. I don’t in any way, shape or form agree with being forced to pass a background check to exercise a basic human right. Not only is it costly and ineffective as a crime deterrent, but it further fosters a black market for “illegal” guns. If you actually believe that a background check will keep a firearm out of a violent criminal’s hands, you’re sadly mistaken. Those who want to purchase a firearm to commit crime will do so legally or illegally, and no background check will stop them.

But the NRA is all gung-ho behind spending more taxpayer money to bribe states into allowing feds access to even more of their records. Why? Because this move allows relatively easy passage to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. (S.659). With Tom Daschle’s blessing, this bill – legislation the NRA has sunk a lot of effort into – now has a chance of passage.

I call this a compromise for political expediency. No thanks, I’ll pass.

Recently NRA attorney Stephen Halbrook defended his actions in a recent motions hearing Seegars v. Ashcroft by claiming that he and the NRA are fighting for our Second Amendment rights one small battle at a time.

Our strategy is a narrowly-focused effort to encourage the court to recognize the Second Amendment as an individual right and to declare the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional, so that residents who are daily threatened by criminal violence may keep handguns in their homes to defend themselves. To a defenseless people, the ability merely to possess a handgun would be a giant step forward. But it's just the first step. If we can persuade the court to invalidate the gun ban, the next logical step will be attacking the registration of firearms as a violation of the Second Amendment.

This strategy is similar to that used by the NAACP in the decades leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. They didn't go into court trying to overturn all Jim Crow laws at once, and instead picked one specific blatantly offensive part of the law for each case that actually had a chance to be struck down, and then they used that decision in subsequent cases to bolster further arguments.

Well, Mr. Halbrook, I have to emphatically disagree with you. You have every right to fight the Second Amendment battle incrementally. I don't necessarily believe it's a bad thing to take victory in pieces. But your emphatic plea to the judge: “YOUR HONOR, WE ARE HERE WANTING TO REGISTER HANDGUNS. WE ARE NOT HERE WANTING UNRESTRICTED ACCESS. WE'RE NOT HERE ASKING TO CARRY THEM, OTHER THAN IN THE HOME.” – while a possible baby step forward for DC residents, could end up being a gigantic step backward for the rest of us. It legitimizes registration, and puts you and the NRA firmly in the gun-grabber corner.

And no, Mr. Halbrook, the NAACP didn’t go into court trying to overturn all the Jim Crow laws at once, but they didn’t concede that any part of those odious laws was acceptable to them, as you did, Mr. Halbrook.



You didn’t see the NAACP attorneys begging the judge:


And you didn’t see the NAACP implying that “reasonable regulation” of African Americans’ access to white facilities was tolerable, did you, Mr. Halbrook?



That’s the difference between your compromise and the NAACP’s incrementalist approach. You, Mr. Halbrook, conceded to evil. The NAACP fought it one case at a time and won. And as much as you want to spin your words as comparable to the NAACP’s strategy, they aren’t even close. You compromised on principles, Mr. Halbrook. This is an unacceptable compromise in my book, and one that you and the NRA should be ashamed of.

So has compromise been an effective strategy in the gun rights movement? That would depend on what your ultimate goal is. If your ultimate goal is the restoration of our absolute right to keep and bear arms, thus far it has been an abysmal failure.

Does Sarah Brady compromise? When has the Brady Center and the “Couple of thousand misguided mommies” ever gone half-assed on any gun control issue? They fight until their knuckles are bloody. They go in charging. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose, but I have never seen them publicly concede to the gun rights movement in order to get their pet legislation passed. Brady may win some and she may lose some, but a thorough examination of her organization’s website has never revealed any concessions to the gun lobby.


She’s not afraid to lose. She’s singularly devoted to fighting for her cause, misguided and tyrannical though it may be. She knows what she wants, and she fights tooth and nail to achieve it. And when she loses, regardless of her attempts at spin, she can at least go home at the end of the day proud that she hasn’t compromised away any of her principles.

And you know what, people? She’s winning. A little bit at a time, the Brady Center is getting what it wants – gun control. Take a look at the past few decades. Has our situation gotten better, or has it gotten worse? Have we seen any improvement for gun owners in this country, or have we seen a gradual deterioration?

Brady hasn’t compromised an iota. She and her flaming band of miscreants have marched on, a little step at a time, on the road to relieve us of our rights.

Meanwhile, the gun rights lobby has compromised a little at a time, supposedly to protect what’s left of our rights.

Take a look at the progress that has been made. Who has been more successful? Have your gun rights been restored at all in the past couple of decades? How about the past century?

So tell me again, how effective has compromise been?

Nicki Fellenzer

Nicki is a US Army veteran, who spent nearly four years in Frankfurt, Germany on active duty at the American Forces Network. She is a former radio DJ and news anchor and a Featured Writer and Newslinks Director for Keepandbeararms.com. She is also a former contributing editor to the National Rifle Association's newest monthly magazine, Women's Outlook and writes occasionally for the Libertarian Party. She resides in Virginia with her family. We are also proud to have Nicki as regular contributor to Armed Females of America.

Copyright © 2003 by Armed Females of America. All rights reserved. Permission to redistribute this article for noncommercial purposes is hereby granted, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety and appropriate credit given.

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