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We live in an instant gratification society, and this mentality tends to spill over into political activism.
Most people involved in the political process seem want immediate solutions to every problem. They expect legislation to pass on the first try, and if it fails, they either give up or lash out. And half-measures don’t cut it. They want the whole loaf of bread. A single slice won’t do.
They miss the fact that a bunch of slices form a loaf.
For example, consider the frustrated response of some Second Amendment advocates after a recent bill passed in Tennessee. The introduced versions of HB1341/SB1110 would have prohibited the state from using any assets to enforce federal gun laws, regulations or orders.
But an amendment limited the prohibition, only putting it into effect “if the expenditure of public funds would result in the violation of Tennessee statutory or common law or the Constitution of Tennessee.”
The amendment led many activists to withdraw support of the bill, arguing that it effectively rendered the legislation ineffective. One former supporter pointed out, “The bill does nothing unless another law or a court determines that the federal action violates another provision of Tennessee law.”
But it does represent a solid first step.
What these nay-saying activists fail to recognize is that one must usually take a first step before taking a second. In most cases, we don’t get from here to there in one giant leap.
Passage of the Tennessee bill won’t end state cooperation with enforcement of federal gun control laws on its own. But it most certainly set the stage for further action, and it put legislators on record as willing to confront federal violations of the right to keep and bear arms.
That’s a good thing!
Consider this. In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly began debating the use of drones by law enforcement. Initially, some lawmakers pushed for immediate limits on warrantless drone surveillance. But it became clear that wasn’t going to fly. So, privacy advocates took what they could get – a two year moratorium on drone use while the legislature studied the issue. But some activists cried foul, asserting the compromise was a cop-out, and people would forget about the whole thing in two years.
But that didn’t happen.
This year, before the moratorium expired, the Virginia General Assembly passed a strong bill placing permanent limits on drone surveillance. Step one led to step two.
It did in Florida.
In 2013, the Florida legislature was the first to pass a bill requiring a warrant for drone surveillance in most situations. It wasn’t a perfect bill, but it was certainly better than the status quo – no limits on drone use at all. This year, the assembly revisited the issue and passed a bill placing additional restrictions on drone surveillance by prohibiting drones with imaging capabilities in most situations..
Again, the first step led to a second. And that could very well lead to step three.
Back to Tennessee – the legislature just took step one. No, it didn’t end state cooperation with enforcement of federal gun laws. But it certainly puts Tennesseans in a better situation than they were with the status quo – complete cooperation with federal gun law enforcement in all cases. Now a mechanism exists to challenge specific federal violations of the Second Amendment, both present and future.
It’s up to Tennesseans to move the ball forward and push for additional legislation to put teeth in the new law. The stage is set. The foundation is laid.
They got step one in place, now on to step two.
Stacking enough slices of bread and eventually you’ve got a whole loaf.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
-Chinese philosopher Laozi
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