Incrementalism in Guns and Abortion
By Steve Byas“A good first step,” is what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the recent agreement he reached with ten Senate Republicans on restricting firearms for American citizens.
The proposal includes funding for school-based mental health and supportive services, but also provides penalties for “straw purchasing,” an “enhanced review process” for young gun buyers, and protection for victims of domestic violence. Neither of Oklahoma’s senators signed on.
Of course, Schumer wanted more – much more. But one must wonder. While we all want to protect victims of domestic violence, is that not a state and local responsibility? An “enhanced review process” for young gun buyers is clearly age discrimination against adult American citizens. A person at 18 can vote, sign legal documents, get married, and must register for a military draft. Yet, when it comes to the Second Amendment, these young adults must undergo an “enhanced” review process.
Here is what will happen. There will be another mass shooting, regardless of these restrictions. And when that happens, Schumer and his fellow gun-grabbers will argue that “more” is needed.
And so we will go through this all again. They will argue for additional restrictions on the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
This is incrementalism. What many of these civilian gun control advocates ultimately desire is for gun confiscation as has happened in other countries. Once the constitutional right to keep and bear arms by American citizens who have not been convicted of any crime is taken away, because of young age – even though the person is legally an adult – the precedent has been established to add more restrictions. Then more restrictions, and even more restrictions, until finally all guns in the hands of private citizens are confiscated.
The incremental approach has been used on the Left for decades, in other areas. This is how the Welfare State has ballooned in the last century. Among Marxists, there is a difference in methods, but not in goals. Some Marxists advocate violent revolution, but many others, such as the Fabian Socialists in Great Britain said the pen was mightier than the sword. They would enter the fields of influence, such as teaching, journalism, politics, religion, literature, entertainment, and so on. The process would be long, but it would eventually be successful, they believed.
The method is certainly effective, and it can be used to fight for our causes, as well. Back when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that there was a “right” to an abortion hidden somewhere in the “shadows” of the Constitution, the pro-life movement initially took an all-at-once approach of seeking an amendment to the Constitution to over-ride the nefarious decision. Of course, as I told some pro-lifers at the time, if we could garner the necessary two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress, plus three-fourths of the state legislatures to enact an amendment, we would probably have the political clout to end abortion without such an amendment.
Finally, the pro-lifers began to chip away at the decision, attacking it at the edges at first, with such efforts as ending public funding of abortion (the Hyde Amendment), parental notification followed by parental consent, and other such efforts that, of course, fall short of actually restoring decisions on what to do about abortion to the place it rightfully belonged – the state legislatures. These early measures were actually inadequate, in the saving of the lives of the unborn (although it did save many, no doubt), but they laid the groundwork for more substantive restrictions.
Here in Oklahoma, one of the best bills was establishing the requirement that mothers view an ultrasound of their unborn child in their womb before they go through with the abortion. This bill saved more unborn children.
A bill to revoke the medical license of an abortionist actually passed the Legislature. This would have effectively ended the grisly practice in our state, but Governor Mary Fallin, who ran for office several times claiming to be “pro-life,” vetoed the bill.
What all of these bills did, however, was chip away at the concept that there is a legal right for the killing of an unborn child. This type of pro-life activity was going on all over the country, in several states, using an incremental approach to chip away at public support for abortion.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has finally reversed Roe v. Wade, restoring the issue to the states, where it belonged, constitutionally. Incrementalism worked. Sadly, millions of unborn babies have perished in the meantime.
There are some who argue that this incremental approach – which has now worked – is wrong. Why? One, they argue that incremental approaches was just “regulating” abortion, not abolishing it. But as I said, it did much more than “regulate” abortion, it moved the public opinion on the issue to more and more restrictions, until now when Oklahoma has abolished abortion, legally. Two, they argue that even this law is not “justice,” because it does not put the mother in prison.
There is no “right” to abortion, and on that they are correct. There was no “right” for the National Socialists of Adolf Hitler to kill millions of Jews, either, but they did have the “power” to do it. Eventually, another power – American soldiers – liberated the death camps and ended the Holocaust. In the meantime, non-Jews like the Ten Boom family in the Netherlands, Catholics convents in Italy, Oscar Schindler in Germany, and others worked to save individual Jews in Europe.
Should Schindler have bothered with his “list,” saving some Jews, when he could not save them all?
I understand the view of those who did not like the incremental approach, preferring instead that Oklahoma take an “all or nothing approach.” But had we done that in Oklahoma and in other states, demanding that women be incarcerated along with the abortionists, and until that happens refuse to take the incremental steps, there are many people alive today who would have died in the womb under the “all or nothing” scenario.
Steve Byas is Editor of the Oklahoma Constitution and author of several magazine articles and books, including History’s Greatest Libels. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org