“The notion that I, or Hillary, or Democrats, or whoever you want to choose, are hell-bent on taking away folks' guns is just not true -- and I don’t care how many times the NRA says it.” – Barack Obama, June 1, 2016.
The former president’s statement was a lie when he said it. Less than a year earlier, the 44th president had lauded Great Britain and Australia’s confiscatory gun control policies. Fittingly, this praise was offered from the White House Press Briefing Room, which shares a name with an organization founded with the explicit goal of prohibiting the civilian ownership of handguns.
Like Obama, the more clever anti-gun activists, eager to curry favor with moderate Americans, have sought to assure the public that they seek only minor, “reasonable,” or “common sense” changes to current policy. According to these con artists, they only want to restrict a small subset of extremely dangerous firearms, or keep firearms away from unpopular demographics.
What these gun controllers don’t tell you is that the guns they really want to ban are yours, whether that is an AR-15, a pump-action shotgun, or a .38 revolver. The unsavory demographic they want to prohibit from owning firearms is you and all other law-abiding Americans. Aside from being bad policy on their own merits, each incremental step that well-meaning Americans acquiesce to facilitates the next and brings gun control advocates closer to their ultimate goal of civilian disarmament.
When confronted with such charges, anti-gun activists are quick to accuse gun rights supporters of advancing a logical fallacy - a slippery slope argument. However, the charges merely acknowledge gun control supporters’ stated strategy.
The blueprint was laid out by National Coalition to Control Handguns (now Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) Founder Nelson T. “Pete” Shields in a 1976 interview with the New Yorker. Shields explained, “I’m convinced that we have to have federal legislation to build on. We’re going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily – given the political realities – going to be very modest.” Elaborating, Shields went on to say, “So then we’ll have to start working again to strengthen that law, and then again to strengthen the next law, and maybe again and again. Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal – total control of handguns in the United States – is going to take time.”
In their more candid moments, gun controllers from across the political spectrum have confessed to this approach. In a 1996 piece for the Washington Post titled, “Disarm the Citizenry. But not yet,” columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, “Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic -- purely symbolic -- move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.”
Such brazen admissions used to be infrequent. If anything good can be said about the ugly tenor of recent anti-gun outbursts, it is that by embracing fanaticism our opponents have betrayed the terminal goals of the measured strategy pursued by more prudent gun control advocates.
Take the New York Times, which has long served as the chief propaganda arm of the gun control establishment. In 2015, a Times editorial declared that “large categories” of commonly-owned firearms “must be outlawed.” Endorsing confiscation, the Times declared that a law must be enacted that “would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up.” In October, Times columnist Bret Stephens advocated for the U.S. to “Repeal the Second Amendment.” Stephens reiterated the position in February.
Not to be outdone, in February the Washington Post published a piece from commentator Max Boot which argued that the country should “rethink the Second Amendment.” The Boston Globe ran a piece in November in which writer David Scharfenberg contended that gun control supporters will “have to persuade more people of the need to confiscate millions of those firearms.” That same month, former Obama Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer called for Australian-style gun confiscation.
Like their friends in the media, more and more, anti-gun politicians have revealed the full scope of their ambitions. In recent years, each session of the California State Assembly has degenerated into a perverse search for the most severe gun restrictions the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will sanction. In 2013, New York City officials sent permit holders letters ordering them to surrender their registered semi-automatic rifles or remove them from the city. As of press-time, the Illinois House had just voted to confiscate commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles held by the state’s 18 to 20-year-old Firearm Owner Identification card holders. If enacted, these young adults would have 90 days to turn in their guns.
We know where the gun control measures that our opposition market as “common sense” lead, because our opponents have told us, and shown us, time and again. Law-abiding gun owners must recognize that the so-called “reasonable regulations” proposed by more savvy gun-control proponents are nothing but a foothold for greater restrictions on our rights.