Getting pulled over for no other reason than you weren’t wearing a seatbelt is now a routine thing. People accept this as normal, even reasonable.
Well, most people do.
I can assure you that the reverse was once true. Watch Mad Men, if you don’t believe me. It may be a TV show, I know – but it shows with extreme accuracy the way things were, attitude-wise, in the America I was born into. In the 1960s, there may have been a termagant or two screeching about seatbelts and such like – but they were regarded as termagants almost universally. Cops had better things to do – and so did most of us – than to worry about whether a grown man was wearing a seatbelt.
But the termagants kept at it, and by the 1980s, they finally got traction.The first mandatory “buckle up” law was passed – ironically enough, in the Orwellian year 1984. In – not ironically at all – New York. Fast forward to 2014 and only one (very tiny) state – New Hampshire – does not threaten adults with violence for electing not to wear a seat belt in their own car. In all the others, it is an offense for which one may be waylaid at gunpoint and compelled to hand over money. (Yes, at gunpoint. See what happens if you ignore the cop’s order to buckle-up, or – down the road – if you refuse to pay the fine.)
Unfortunately, a great deal.
This business in Connecticut – the draconian ban on “high capacity” magazines and “assault” rifles – sets exactly the sort of precedent that New York’s buckle up – or else – law did back in ’84. In each case, the state redefined what had previously been matters of personal choice as matters beyond personal choice. Or rather, matters to be decided by the personal choices of politicians and bureaucrats and then imposed on the masses at gunpoint.
Thirty years ago, there was outrage – and mockery – emanating from other states. Those silly New Yorkers! Yankees, don’t you know.
And yet, it flies everywhere now, just about (with the exception of tiny NH, a sliver of liberties past and now largely forgotten).
The same will happen with regard to the criminalization of various arbitrary categories of firearms and accessories. Precedent becomes practice. If they get away with it in CT, they will try to get away with it in other states. If the people of CT Submit & Obey – if they meekly hand over their weapons, accepting the premise that possessing a rifle or a pistol is tantamount to shooting up a school full of kids (in the same way, according to this warped logic, that possessing a vagina is tantamount to being a prostitute) it’ll be a bellwether – clear indication that while people will hue and cry over their gun rights – over their human rights - they will not (most of them) actually defend them once laws are passed rescinding them.
Just as they have with regard to seat belt laws. Just as they have with regard to being handled – literally handled – like felons being processed at a prison in order to board an airplane or attend a football game.
All these things would have sounded surreal, impossible, to the Mad Men America of the 1960s. And yet they are now part of our lives, routine. Some of us grumble under our breath – but few of us actively protest, much less openly resist.
Perhaps the time is coming for that. If it is not already here.
I won’t put my life on the line over the seatbelt law. I evade it, I ignore it – to the extent I can. But if I find myself waylaid by a cop over it, I’ll play along. I won’t argue, I’ll sign the damnable piece of payin’ paper and send them their extortion. Then I’ll go back to not wearing my seatbelt until the next time I get caught.
It may be time to accept “or else.”
Tens of thousands of CT citizens may have already come to exactly this conclusion. 350,000 of them, actually (see here). That’s how many “unregistered” – and now, banned – weapons are estimated to be out there, in the hands of citizens who – so far – have refused to Submit & Obey. They are now felons, under CT law.
For the moment, CT authoritarians are laying low – not yet going door-to-door in search of “illegal” weapons. But they inevitably will. They must. A law not enforced is a null law. (Would you “buckle up” if you knew no cop would bother you about it? Maybe you would – but but many people would not. I certainly would not.)
So, it’s either – or. The state backs down. Or the people submit. There’s no middle ground.
And that’s an explosive situation.
Throw it in the Woods?