The perfect is the enemy of the good

The title of this post is a quote from Neal Knox. For those of you that didn’t know him he was a wonderful pro-gun activist. He was very politically savvy and someone I admired tremendously. He died last January (see this post for more detail about his contributions). It was a great loss.

I’ve heard variations of that on numerous topics over the years. One of my favorites, because I’m an engineer, is, “There comes a time in the life of every project when it’s time to shoot the engineers and ship the product.” I think it was Isaac Asimov (not sure on this) who wrote a short science fiction story about a planet or alliance that lost a war and became slaves (?) to a technologically inferior opponent–because of their technological superiority. They wasted time building more advanced weapons and ships to “win the war sooner”. There were schedule slips and unforeseen problems that came up and their inferior enemy with “good enough” weapons won the war.

It’s very easy for people to ignore our fourth dimension–time. What will or might happen while we are waiting just a little bit longer to make things ‘perfect’? This applies in politics as well as business, self-defense, and war.

I wrote up a long post the other day about the bill commonly called Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms in which I hinted at this but probably didn’t go into enough detail about why I both agree and disagree with the Gun Owners of America on what actually got passed. It was listening to Neal Knox and Alan Gottlieb debate tactics at GRPC 1999 that I had my epiphany on this. What I learned in a few short minutes was the “tools” they had available to them in Congress were far more complex than what we might think they are. They are more powerful in some ways as well as far weaker in others than we, non-lobbyists, understand. Giving an ally something you considered a “sell out” could be far more important long term than insisting they strictly adhere to the principals you both shared.

I like what the GOA said. I like that they are a “No compromise” pro-gun organization. I want them screaming bloody murder each time the wimps at the NRA let “the tiger eat a friend” so the rest of us get to “live just one more day”. And I think it was right for them to complain in this case too. Trigger locks are not for everyone and it is a “tax” on gun sales.

I also think that, as said in my previous post, “It’s just a couple of old dried bones. Let them have their bones until after the next election. We get some real meat out of this law.” The NRA-ILA, the CCRKBA and the others were right. Defeat the wolf at the door of the firearms manufactures, distributors, and retailers. Let the snakes in the grass have some bugs to eat. When we regroup and come back we can focus on killing snakes without a wolf gnawing on our butt.