Of Civil Disobedience and the High Road


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klyph
December 30, 2012, 04:31 PM
I was recently chastised for encouraging illegal activity on this board. My wording was thus (omitting the vulgarity): "They cannot pass legislation infringing the RKBA. If they do, it is illegal and we need to let them know that it will not be tolerated or followed." I clearly am no supreme court justice, IANAL, etc. I will admit from a certain point of view that what I said does indeed encourage the violations of laws that individuals deem unconstitutional. My confusion is due the fact that I assumed this was a vital part of the legal process. Admittedly, advocating disobedience of malum in se would be irresponsible. However malum prohibitum are often overruled by the supreme court after an individual is arrested for civilly disobeying such laws. Historical figures such as Susan B Anthony, Rosa Parks, and Dr Martin Luther king used civil disobedience to non violently overturn unconstitutional laws. We regard them as heroes, yet they were very clearly criminals by definition. Their criminal activity was held by courts to be illegal and many were convicted of crimes and punishment was carried out. This did not negate the fact that a later surge of such criminal activity served to sway the decision of the courts in the opposite direction. The notion that it takes a team of lawyers and a decade of court battles to reestablish natural rights that, being natural rights, were never actually legally prohibited regardless of the enacted legislation seems obsurd to me, given that history demonstrates the very effective technique of non violent civil disobedience in large numbers as an arguably superior method of reform. Why then, is such discussion shunned and prohibited by this site as verboten? Shouldn't we discuss and use all the tools available to us, especially those that have been historically proven to be effective? I hope this thread can remain open as a discussion of why we prohibit such discourse rather than an advocation for the technique itself.

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Yo Mama
December 30, 2012, 06:40 PM
I didn't see your other post, but I have a few points. It's not illegal, if the law passes. We had an election, there are consequences. It sucks, I hate it, but it's reality.

We also look at the ruling for Heller, which many did not like as Scalia decided to add the you can't own anything you want, there can be legislation to decide what is allowed. I don't agree, but it's the law of the land now.

nazshooter
December 30, 2012, 06:49 PM
Civil disobedience normally attempts to be both peaceful and public with the full expectation of punishment. I haven't seen any attempted discussion of that sort of thing but I expect it might be allowed until it turned to discussion of violent or hidden resistance.

How would one go about traditional civil disobedience in the context of registration or confiscation?

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hso
December 30, 2012, 06:53 PM
Read the posted rules for Activism.
This isn't a forum for discussing THR (that's in Technical).
This isn't even the forum for discussing Activism (that's in Activism Discussion).
We present practical plans of action that other members can follow in support of RKBA in Activism.

klyph
January 1, 2013, 07:00 PM
Thank you for moving and reopening this thread.

Civil disobedience normally attempts to be both peaceful and public with the full expectation of punishment. I haven't seen any attempted discussion of that sort of thing but I expect it might be allowed until it turned to discussion of violent or hidden resistance.

How would one go about traditional civil disobedience in the context of registration or confiscation?
I suppose should, for instance, Senator Feinstein's bill pass as written and millions of law abiding citizens are criminalized, there would have to be a sufficient percentage of these millions of people to march with their arms and demand arrest and confiscation. This would require more personal sacrifice than most of the historical instances of civil disobedience since the punishment is severe and it also involves the loss of property. I would take my least expensive "assault weapon" with me, but that still would mean many hundreds of dollars of lost property, years in prison, and thousands of dollars in fines and fees.

However, this thread was not meant to be about how to go about it, or to organize or advocate for such practice. It is meant as a question: why are these discussions prohibited and what is the reasoning behind disallowing the discussion of such activism?

Frank Ettin
January 1, 2013, 08:46 PM
I was recently chastised for encouraging illegal activity on this board. My wording was thus (omitting the vulgarity): "They cannot pass legislation infringing the RKBA. If they do, it is illegal and we need to let them know that it will not be tolerated or followed." ....I will admit from a certain point of view that what I said does indeed encourage the violations of laws that individuals deem unconstitutional. ....Historical figures such as Susan B Anthony, Rosa Parks, and Dr Martin Luther king used civil disobedience to non violently overturn unconstitutional laws. We regard them as heroes, yet they were very clearly criminals by definition. ....a later surge of such criminal activity served to sway the decision of the courts in the opposite direction. ....history demonstrates the very effective technique of non violent civil disobedience in large numbers as an arguably superior method of reform. Why then, is such discussion shunned and prohibited by this site as verboten? ......this thread was not meant to be about how to go about it, or to organize or advocate for such practice. It is meant as a question: why are these discussions prohibited and what is the reasoning behind disallowing the discussion of such activism?...

The short answer is that you were not advocating or opening discussion of civil disobedience. You were simply advocating violating the law.

You had written:...They cannot pass legislation infringing the RKBA. If they do, it is illegal and we need to let them know that it will not be tolerated or followed...And that in good English is simply advocating threating to refuse to abide by laws we don't like. And you also wrote (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=8606919&postcount=62):Last time I checked, there were illegal laws all over this country that infringe upon an enumerated constitutional right to bear arms.

And there are free men all over this country that refuse to abide by them. Their numbers are growing.So by clear implication you were condoning the widespread and surreptitious flouting of firearms laws.

Simply refusing to abide by firearm laws, and hiding your unregistered, sawed-off shotgun under the floorboards of your house waiting for "the balloon to go up", is not civil disobedience. Civil disobedience as an instrument of social change must he open and organized, and to hope to be effective it must be well thought out and part of a larger strategy.

So your claim that this site disallows the discussion of civil disobedience because you were taken to task for the posts referred to above is utterly fatuous. Nothing you wrote or were chastised for laid any kind of foundation for a serious discussion of civil disobedience as a tactic in the struggle for the RKBA.

As an (http://www.thehighroad.org/announcement.php?a=20):...online discussion board dedicated to the discussion and advancement of responsible firearms ownership...the simple advocacy or condoning of violation of the law is unacceptable here.


Since whether and what forms of civil disobedience could materially advance the RKBA, exploration of that subject would need to go far beyond mere reference to refusing to follow the law.


Civil disobedience as laying the foundation for litigation.

One common use of the tactic of civil disobedience has been to get an issue in front of a court. To be effective for that purpose, the violation of the law should be carefully chosen and planned to get the issue before the right court in the right way. This has been shown to be very important in Second Amendment litigation. Much unfortunate Second Amendment case law has come out criminal defense attorneys routinely tossing in a Second Amendment challenge whenever they have a drug dealer or armed robber client facing a weapons enhancement.

There is also the question of whether this would even be useful to us at this time. There are currently over 70 major RKBA cases pending at various stages in various federal courts around the country. Many of these cases are part of an organized litigation strategy designed to begin to add clarity and dimension to the ruling in Heller and McDonald.


Civil disobedience to sway public sentiment

This was a core and very effective part of the overall strategy of the Civil Rights Movement (referring to the struggle during the 1950s and 1960s for racial equality). Let's think about why and how civil disobedience worked so well in that context.

The acts of civil disobedience, violations of law, involved very normal, benign, human acts: taking a seat on a bus for the ride home after a hard day at work; sitting at a lunch counter to have a meal; a child registering to attend school; registering to vote; voting; etc. These are normal, every day thing that White folks took for granted. And it became profoundly disturbing for many White to see other humans arrested for doing these normal, benign things simply because of the color of their skin.

A tired black woman arrested for taking a seat on a bus is something that many ordinary people could respond sympathetically to. Does anyone really think that a man arrested for the illegal possession of a gun is likely to produce anything like a similar degree of sympathy in a non-gun owner -- especially after Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook?


Indeed the Civil Rights Movement in many ways is a poor model for the struggle for the RKBA.

Different times, different causes, different social, political and legal climates.

When Rosa Parks shook things up, her actions won wide support in editorials in major newspapers, from pulpits in houses of worship across the country and on college campus.

The Civil Rights Movement of the '50s was the culmination of 100+ years of abolitionist and civil rights activity. It had broad and deep support. The goals of the Civil Rights Movement were promoted regularly in sermons in churches and synagogues all across the nation. The Civil Rights Movement had charismatic leaders like Martin Luther King who could inspire the country.

During the days of the Civil Rights Movement of the '50s and '60s, civil disobedience, as favorably reported by the mainstream media, and as favorably commented upon on college campuses and in sermons in houses of worship across the nation, helped generate great public sympathy for the cause. That sympathy helped lead to the election of pro-civil rights legislators and executives. And that led to the enactment of pro-civil rights laws.

How has the public thus far responded to the thus far minimal "civil disobedience" of RKBA advocates? Where have there been any great outpourings of sympathy for the plight of gun owners, especially from non-gun owners -- as whites showed sympathy for the plight of non-whites during the days of the Civil Rights Movement? Where are the editorials in the New York Times and Washington Post lauding the courage of gun owners in their resistance to the oppression of anti-gun prejudice? Who has heard a pro-gun rights sermon in his church? Where are the pro-gun rights rallies on college campuses? Where are non-gun owners joining with gun owners in pro-gun rights demonstrations, just as whites joined with non-whites in marches and demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement? Where are our charismatic leaders inspiring the nation?

During the Civil Rights Movement a largely sympathetic media was able to build widespread public sympathy for the cause. Today a popular media largely hostile to the RKBA helps build fear and antagonism.


Perhaps there are ways in which some forms of civil disobedience could help further the RKBA.

There may be no reason to a priori completely dismiss civil disobedience as a tool to further the RKBA. But any effective use of that tactic will be more complicated than just violation gun laws we don't like; and any serious discussion of the topic must also acknowledge and address that complexity.

klyph
January 1, 2013, 11:38 PM
Thank you, Mr. Ettin for the very thorough explanation.

The public sentiment portion is certainly a valid consideration as to whether such demonstration would help or hurt our cause. Indeed, Waco Texas did not have a polarizing effect on our opinions of ATF enforcement as the general sentiment was that they were dangerous religious nutjobs, and not peaceful proponents of liberty.

I remain confused on one point, isn't civil disobedience by definition, the violation of law? If this site prohibits advocation of such violations, wouldn't civil disobedience be included? At what level of organization and strategic implementation would discussions of criminal behavior be permitted? I'm very interested in this subject and look forward to discussions within the regulations of the forum.

Texan Scott
January 1, 2013, 11:43 PM
Excellent response, Mr Ettin... well thought out and well written. All I might add is that these things must be discussed carefully and circumspectly by people with clear and level heads. Where firearms are involved, the line between advocating and committing civil disobedience vs. allegations of seditious speech and treason may grow dangerously thin.

beatledog7
January 2, 2013, 12:03 AM
Frank's discusion of civil disobedience is profound as far as it goes, but klyph does ask a very important question with no easy answer:

isn't civil disobedience by definition, the violation of law? If this site prohibits advocation of such violations, wouldn't civil disobedience be included? At what level of organization and strategic implementation would discussions of criminal behavior be permitted?

I'll take a stab.

Civil disobedience can be defined by looking at the two words separately.

Disobedience is the easy one. It is simply noncompliance with an existing rule or law or the failure to undertake direction from a legitimate authority.

Civil is more problematic. It is much more than "by civilians." It is something like, "undertaken and carried out in a manner that is generally regarded as civilized by those who take part in it and by those who observe it." Nothing we can do as RKBA advocates that is technically illegal will ever be viewed as "civilized" by the antis or by the media. Much of what we do that IS legal isn't seen that way. So civil disobedience won't work wrt RKBA.

Frank Ettin
January 2, 2013, 12:05 AM
I remain confused on one point, isn't civil disobedience by definition, the violation of law? ...The point is, and on which I thought was clear, that civil disobedience isn't just violation of the law. I'm sorry that point seems to escape you.

Frank Ettin
January 2, 2013, 12:14 AM
...It is something like, "undertaken and carried out in a manner that is generally regarded as civilized by those who take part in it and by those who observe it." Nothing we can do as RKBA advocates that is technically illegal will ever be viewed as "civilized" by the antis or by the media. Much of what we do that IS legal isn't seen that way....A good point. And I would extend that issue to many non-gun owners as well.

There are, I believe and have observed, many non-gun owners who, while perhaps are tolerant of guns and gun owners, are still somewhat afraid of guns and guns owners. I think such people would have difficulty accepting gun law violations as "civil." And a major concern with that is that those are the people we will ultimately want to reach.

klyph
January 2, 2013, 12:33 AM
I understand that in order for civil disobedience to be effective, the points you laid out must all be considered. The black panthers used civil disobedience in very ineffective ways and are still villainised to this day. I think what you are saying is that if criminal activity effects a meaningful change for good, it can be considered civil disobedience. However wanton violation of unpopular laws without public support is merely criminal behavior and cannot be classified as civil disobedience. The question then becomes what methods of violating firearms laws would increase support of RKBA? I suspect your answer may be: none that I can think of.

Frank Ettin
January 2, 2013, 12:47 AM
...The question then becomes what methods of violating firearms laws would increase support of RKBA?...You're correct, I can't think of any. If someone has an idea, I'll surely listen; but it better be good and well supported with real evidence.

...The black panthers used civil disobedience in very ineffective ways and are still villainised to this day...Actually, when the Black Panthers showed up in Sacramento openly carrying loaded guns, it wasn't civil disobedience. What they were doing was perfectly legal. But it so upset enough members of the public that the open carrying of loaded guns was made illegal in California.

History tells us that it's possible to engage in lawful conduct in a manner found sufficiently obnoxious by enough people that the conduct will likely be outlawed or at least restricted.

nazshooter
January 2, 2013, 01:04 AM
It seems to me that the difference between civil disobedience and simple law breaking has more to do with the goal than the action. One person refusing to register may just be seeking to help himself but 50 million people taking the exact same action could well change both the law and public perception.

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krupparms
January 2, 2013, 03:52 PM
Thanks to the mods.for opening this tread back up! We must talk about this issues now before it's to late! Clearly the founding father's knew that they were breaking the law &were commuting treason &sedition! And they didn't have popular support of all the people. They also clearly understood that Force would have to be used to retain those rights! Hence. T. Jeffersons comment on the tree of liberty! I am not advocating the use of illegal tactics, just pointing out how they saw it! Clearly the founding father's were criminals to the leagle government at the time.The question is how do we see it &what should we do now? Things have changed a lot sense then &now! I don't have an answer to this eather &would be glad to listen to any that make sense! But letters & talking with reps didn't work then &won't work now! History bears this out!

crazyjennyblack
January 2, 2013, 04:12 PM
Civil disobedience would be quite difficult in the firearms struggle. Why? Civil disobedience usually doesn't involve carrying weapons. Simply by this fact, gaining support in such a peaceful movement will be difficult. If you're disobeying a law by carrying a weapon in public view of a type or in a place that is not allowed (just an example) the mere presence of weapon makes the disobedience no longer seem peaceful.

So, while I agree that civil disobedience should be discussed here on THR, I sympathize with the difficult task the mods have in shepherding the discussion.

Frank Ettin
January 2, 2013, 06:19 PM
...History bears this out!What history bears out is that revolution as a mechanism for promoting freedom has a really lousy track record.

To illustrate that we of course have the French Revolution. We also have the Paris Commune of 1870. How about the Russian Revolution? The Chinese Revolution that gave us Mao, perhaps? How about the ouster of Basitsa in Cuba? Pol Pot in Cambodia? Anyone know what's happening in what used to be Burma? And let's not forget Iran. Then there have been the various revolutions, often protracted, taking place with dismaying regularity in one third world country or another. The vast majority of revolutions wind up simply replacing one despot with another.

It's as if there is something inherent in the nature of a revolution that seems to most often yield a bad result. The American Revolution was unique.

And while we can discuss here peaceful ways available for effecting social and legal change in furtherance of the RKBA, violent revolution is off limits. Keep that in mind and steer clear.

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