Last updated: 9/06/2004|GunCite Home|

Misrepresenting the Gun Control Debate


Before reading this page, readers should visit GunCite's, "Nobody Wants to Take Your Guns," which shows why those wishing to preserve our gun rights have every reason to be worried about losing them. A genuine "compromise" has never been offered or seriously discussed. This page builds on information from that page.

The biggest objection gun rights advocates have to any gun control measures is--the slippery slope. (A slippery slope is the belief that if we allow one event to occur, other harmful events will follow.) It is not a logical fallacy, it is not a delusion, it exists. As a result, until the Second Amendment is treated as normal constitutional law, the majority of gun rights advocates will oppose most or all gun control proposals. That is the key to understanding the so-called intransigence of gun rights activists.

Misrepresenting the Gun Control Debate

Bill Bradley's (ex-Senator from New Jersey and a former-Democratic Party presidential nominee contestant) statement below is a fine example of what sends gun rights activists scurrying to the bunkers.

"The NRA and its allies take the view that the Second Amendment is absolute--that any regulation of any gun, regardless of how deadly or destructive, infringes on their individual right to 'bear arms.' As a result, they have tenaciously and effectively fought all attempts to regulate the manufacture, distribution, registration, and licensing of guns. They have gone so far as to oppose the banning of assault weapons and cop killer bullets--all weapons that have no sporting or hunting purpose and exist for only one purpose: to destroy human life."
        --- Speech Against Gun Violence in America, at the Legal Community Against Violence Dinner, San Francisco, California, June 18, 1999.
Claiming gun rights advocates consider the Second Amendment to be "absolute" is absurd, yet the claim is often made. (Recall the citations in the introduction above as reasons for resisting further gun controls.) Aggravating the situation further is Mr. Bradley's accusation that gun rights groups opposed the banning of "cop-killer" bullets. For a rebuttal of the smear that refuses to die, please see GunCite's "Cop-killer Bullets".

Bradley mentions banning weapons that have "no sporting or hunting purpose", and demonizes a class of guns, "assault weapons," which are actually semi-automatic firearms. That is no way to start a dialogue with the other side, nor will a ban on those weapons lead to a reduction in violent crime or the lethality of it (see GunCite's "assault weapons"). More importantly, the gun control debate is not about preserving sportsmen's rights. Bradley doesn't seem to believe law-abiding Americans are entitled to posses arms for self-defense and Second Amendment purposes.

The Slippery Slope Becomes a Sheer Cliff

Some sportsmen are naively or selfishly willing to accept the kind of arrangement Bradley speaks of. By sacrificing handguns in particular, they believe their shotguns and hunting rifles will be saved. Banning handguns would not necessarily result in a significant drop in the homicide rate, and even if it did, rifle and shotgun homicides would still occur. Under this scenario, why should anyone be allowed to own deadly weapons strictly for sport? The obvious next and prudent step, would require "sporting" weapons to be stored at bona fide gun clubs and shooting ranges.

Once self-defense and Second Amendment rationales are abandoned as justification for gun ownership, it is only a matter of time before civilian gun owners succumb to extinction. Regardless of whatever assurances the current crop of politicians gives, without legal or constitutional guarantees, it is easy for subsequent politicians to abolish civilian firearms ownership. After all, how many lives are saved, and injuries avoided, by weapons used solely for sport? How can ownership of "sporting" weapons be justified after just one is misused in a shooting rampage?

For an excellent example of a nation, England, that slid down the slippery slope please see, "All the Way Down the Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition in England and Some Lessons for Civil Liberties in America", by Joseph E. Olson, and David B. Kopel. This law review article also identifies and discusses specific factors which increase the potential risk of moving down the proverbial slope.

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