Forty years ago, I boarded an airliner and took my first plane ride. It was back in my smoking days and I recall walking around the plane while puffing on a cigarette. Ten years later, I took another flight. Things had changed: Smoking was only allowed in the back half of the plane. Ten more years went by and I flew again. By then, it changed to smoking only on flights of more than two hours’ duration. Another 10 years passed and I took another flight. What do you think changed this time? You guessed it … no smoking at all.
For lack of a better word, I call the above method of change “creeping conversion.” The do-gooders of our world learned their lesson during Prohibition: If you want to get your way, you’ve got to be patient. Move slowly. The new way is to spend 40 years making slow and subtle changes. So slow that no one notices, and by the time they do, it’s too late.
Forty years ago, I bought a Playboy calendar. I enjoyed seeing a different pretty girl on my office wall each month. Ten years went by and the girls in the calendar began to go topless. But the change occurred so slowly, so subtly, I didn’t notice. I just kept buying them. In 10 more years, they began to go bottomless. I still didn’t notice the change and kept buying them. Another 10 years passed and the girls were now doing naked pornographic poses. And … I still didn’t notice the change. But my wife did and made me stop buying them.
It was then I realized that smut peddlers had pulled off a biggy. By using creeping conversion over a 40-year period, they achieved their goal of making pornography legal. Nobody tried stopping them and they got away with it!
Forty years ago, the Kennedys were assassinated, and out of the ashes rose a new threat to my favorite sport: Anti-gun people. When they scored a victory with the 1968 Gun Control Act, I thought, “Here we go! They’re going to use creeping conversion on guns. In 40 years, my guns will be gone.”
Well, guess what? Forty years have passed and I’ve still got my guns. What happened? I can sum it up in three letters … NRA. The group’s unwavering determination to battle creeping conversion before it gets a start is the reason I still have my guns.
Some say the NRA is too militant, or they say the NRA shouldn’t resist bans on “limited use” military-style guns with high capacity magazines, etc. Well, if the NRA is too militant, that’s fine with me, because the struggle between pro- and anti-gun groups often resembles true warfare. In a real war, the number one rule of warfare is “Never give up ground.” I’m happy to see the NRA stand firm and hold its ground.
Every time a lone lunatic threatens the sport loved by millions of law-abiding, peace-loving Americans, the NRA jumps into the fight with full force – beating back creeping conversion with the club of common sense. I pray they keep winning these battles so that 40 years from now, my children can enjoy the same sport that I love dearly.
Larry Ahlman is the owner of Ahlman’s Gun Shop and is a resident of Morristown.