Saturday, July 21, 2012

GUN LAWS AND THE MYTH OF THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

When I drive a car, how many serial numbers am I required to carry with me? The car has a government-issued license-plate number. It has a vehicle identification number that I'm not at liberty to remove or obscure. I have to carry a government-issued driver's license with a license number. If I'm stopped by the police, I have to surrender this license and a registration form. And on and on.

And yet no one, apart from a tiny handful of ultra-libertarians, ever argues that we're on a slippery slope to the seizure of all private vehicles by a totalitarian government. Even car-related laws that generate public outrage -- red-light cameras, GPS tracking of cars by the police -- don't lead to fears that the freedom to drive itself is on the verge of being taken away. People get drivers' licenses, stop at red lights, pull over when the cops demand it -- and mostly still feel that they have the freedom to drive where they please. They still look at cars (some models, at least) and imagine liberation on the open road.

Why is it impossible for gun owners to feel the same way?

What's odd is that gun owners don't even seem to feel tyrannized by hunting regulations. Think about it: we have hunting seasons and hunting licenses and restrictions on the numbers of certain animals you're allowed to shoot -- and while quite a few people flout these laws, there's no well-funded mass movement arguing that all of these laws should be abolished, that anyone should be able to hunt any animal at any time, and that failure to allow this is jackbooted fascism.

We see that one of James Holmes's weapons in the Aurora massacre was an AR-15, a gun that would have been illegal to purchase under the now-expired federal assault weapons ban. We see that he purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition via the Internet over the past 60 days, and that he bought four of his weapons at local gun shops over that same period, and that his AR-15 may have had a once-banned high-capacity magazine.

But, see, we can't even consider reinstating the assault weapons ban, or the ban on "large capacity ammunition feeding devices," or consider one-gun-a-month laws or tighter regulation of online ammo sales, because, we're told, every restriction of this kind is a step on a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to confiscation of all privately owned weapons, and turn America into a brutal totalitarian dictatorship.

Yet we never say anything like that about cars, or even hunting rifles. We don't say it about regulations on other consumer products -- we may not like, say, restrictions on the sale of Sudafed that are intended to try to slow meth production, but we never say that such laws will someday lead to the banning of private Band-Aid and aspirin purchases. We don't think the banking system is totalitarian because there are reporting requirements on large cash transfers.

I'm not saying everyone agrees with these laws, or should. I'm just saying we pass them on the assumption that they won't lead to full-blown fascism and, if we decide they're pointless or abusive of our liberties, we can alter what we've done.

We're not allowed to consider that possibility about guns -- not anymore. Try to tighten any gun law a tiny bit in most of the country and the response is that all liberty is disappearing. So we can't try anything.

That's crazy. The gun-law slope is not maximally slippery. If anything, it's the least slippery slope we have.

32 comments:

juliagrey said...

his AR-15 may have had a once-banned high-capacity gun barrel

I think you mean a high-capacity magazine for ammunition. It was a "drum" type, IIRC.

Steve M. said...

Thanks -- fixed now.

Victor said...

Conssrvative POV:
Beautiful, Steve.

And very well reasoned and written - for a Socialist/Fascist/Pinko/Heathen/Communsist/Subsversive/Liberal/Un-American//Gun-hating/Negro-loving/Gay-hugging/Mexican-tolerating/Environmentalist/Whacko!

There's a lot of things I can be told I have to do, and what rules to follow - but no one, and I MEAN NO ONE!, can tell me what kind of guns and ammo I can own, how many and what size, and where I can bring them; or the kind of electric bulbs I use in my house; or how much and how long I want to run my electricity.

And you can take my guns and bulbs when you can pry the former from my cold dead hand, and the latter when you pry my other hand off my light switch!

trnc said...

Steve,
Wayne LaPierre actually did float the idea that the feds would potentially gather up our cars when Chris Matthews asked him, "Well, what about registering automobiles?" It was about 10 years ago, but I remember it well because I laughed and laughed.

Steve M. said...

I guess, after being backed into a corner and forced, for once, to see his arguments through to their logical conclusion, he felt he just had to stick with the argument.

Reminds me of the guy Dave Weigel interviewed who just can't let go of the "one hero with a gun could have ended this" argument, and ties himself in knots trying to explain how someone could have taken Holmes down with a concealed handgun even though Holmes was firing off an AR-15 and had set off gas canisters and it was a darkened movie theater and Holmes was wearing head-to-toe body armor. Hey, pal, just admit your brilliant theory doesn't apply in this case, OK?

pbriggsiam said...

They will always say that gun are mentioned in the 2nd Amendment. They are for protecting against federal government tyranny. Cars not so much.

Your logic is very good but what do we do about the above reasoning?

Victor said...

pbriggsiam,
My suggestion is muskets for hunters, and flint-lock pistols instead of handguns.

Hey, they were good enough for out Founding Fathers, weren't they?

Burr killed Hamilton with a flint-lock, not a Glock.

And when the FF hunted, they used muskets to kill game.

That takes a lot more skill than sitting-up in a deer-stand, with cammo, doused in deer musk, sandwiches and beer in a cooler, coffee in a jumbo-Thermos, with a rifle and scope that can shoot the pecker off a Mayfly at 300 yards.

And no more compound bow's, with all sorts of levers and scopes, that are priced at about what a small car was 20 years ago - and high-tech arrows that each cost as much as a Ping golf club.

Today's hunters are pansies compared to their late 18th Century counterparts.

Steve M. said...

Your logic is very good but what do we do about the above reasoning?

Move to another country?

To me the NRA is like a crime cartel at the peak of its powers. Trying to fight them is like trying to fight the Mob in Capone's Chicago, or like trying to fight Whitey Bulger in South Boston in the '70s, or like trying to fight the drug lords in Sinaloa now. It would require far more resources than anyone is prepared to marshal now. The NRA and its members won't kill you if you put up a serious challenge -- probably -- but they'll kill you politically. They'll destroy your career. We need people who are willing to endure that, or who don't have to worry about it. And we need money. (Hello, Mike Bloomberg?)

1776er said...

What you are arguing for, outside of your awareness I suspect, is for the government to have complete control of your life, and the lives of everyone else. I am sure you know this, but I will state it anyway. The Founding Fathers gave us the 2nd Amendment not so we could shoot game, but so we could defend ourselves against a tyrannical government, which is very close to the government we have now. If you would like to be completely controlled by government, that's your business. Think Cuba or Iran. But thankfully there are too many of us still in this country to let the government usurp or abridge our 2nd amendment rights.

Have a nice day.

Michael said...

Since when is driving a car a constitutional right?

Victor said...

1776er,
You are a talking point-spewing moron.

Is this government any MORE tyrannical than the last one?

What makes it so?
The Ledbetter Act?
The Stimulus?

Oh, that's right - HEALTH CARE! - trying to give citizens access to that makes it the greatest tyrannical Fascist move since Hitler opened up Concentration Camps.

Now, US the government here IS getting out of control - but that's because Conservatives are trying to make it less and less responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, and instead, the Conservative politicians and their voting enablers, are acting like sycophantic sphincter-lickers, willing to follow corporations and their "Rock Star" CEO'S over a cliff.

The way this country is going, with Warlord and Cannibal Capitalism, and every smug, righteous, moron like you, who think you're some sort of patriot, forget Cuba or Iran, fool - AD THINK SOMALIA!!!!!!!!!!!!

FECKIN' IDJIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice day, back atcha...

Victor said...

Oops, forgot to add this in my last paragraph:
"...and every smug, righteous, moron like you, who think you're some sort of patriot, ARMED TO THE TEETH, forget Cuba or Iran, fool - AND THINK SOMALIA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michael said...

Victor the sheeple has spoken...

Victor said...

Now I'm a plural?

If anyone wants to see real tyranny, wait to see what might happen if Mitt Romney wins, had a Republican Congress - more that heavily influenced by corporations and Dominions Christians, and it'll make W's "Free Speech Zones" look like 'the good old day."


These aren't Daddy's Conservatives.
They're not even George W. Bush's Conservatives.

Conservatism recently has been following Moore's Law - in that the insanity doubles every two years.

Steve M. said...

To a right-winger, "sheeple" means "all the people who disagree with me."

Victor said...

I know that Steve.

Maybe I read what Michael wrote incorrectly.

If he and I traded places, I would have written, "Michael, the sheeple have spoken." I think that might have made clearer to him that I wasn't referring to him, but to the right-winger.

Sorry, Michael, if I misunderstood.

Michael said...

No, Steve. "Sheeple" refers to those who can't think for themselves and have to be told what their opinion is (or will be). I believe you are referring to "Libtards" ...which is the result of being pussified sheeple who can't function without the Government providing for them.

Steve M. said...

"Sheeple" refers to those who can't think for themselves and have to be told what their opinion is (or will be).

You mean, the way you believe every word posted here?

Michael said...

No, I am referring to the way you take two unrelated issues and try and compare that to the gun control issue, making it seem as if they are related.

Driving a car and hunting are privileges not protected constitutionally. Gun ownership is protected. The issues are completely unrelated.

By the way, I am not a member of the NRA, same as with the majority of gun owners. But you go ahead and keep on living in your stereotype driven world. The government will save you...

Herb1949 said...

"How will stricter gun laws bring an end to criminals having guns, when the laws against murder have not been able to stop them from killing innocent people?

Currently in Aurora, Colorado, where the shooting took place, it is already unlawful to carry a concealed “dangerous weapon,” discharge firearms, unless by law enforcement on duty or on shooting range, and have loaded firearm in motor vehicle.

Yet these laws were unable to stop James Holmes."

http://patdollard.com/2012/07/aurora-co-already-had-strict-gun-laws/

Besides that, it was against company policy for anyone to carry a firearm into the theater.

As for one guy having a problem with stopping this asshat, maybe he wouldn't have been able to stop him, we will never know because it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Aurora, CO.
At the same time, the smoke and confusion could have worked in favor of someone trying to get a shot at the evil one.
Consider this, the shooter was not picking targets, he was shooting at random, with the smoke, dark and confusion he had no idea where his shots were going, and he could not have spotted someone trying to get off a shot.
As for body armor, it will protect from penetration, but not form the force of a bullet. Even a .38 or a 9mm will knock the wind out of person.
I am also willing to bet that if bullets started flying around him and even striking him, he would have run like the CS coward he is.

Then add to the fact that if the law and theater policy didn't prevent law abidking citizens from being able to protect themselves, there may have been many people able to bring guns to bear on this guy.

Keep in mind that he chose a venue that had the least amount of a chance that someone could fight back. If he wasn't afraid of other people having the means to fight him, he would have chosen a police station, at shift change, as his target.

The whole reason this happened there, and was as bad as it is, was because of the disarming of the citizens.

When seconds count, the cops are minutes away.

Herb1949 said...

BTW Steve M, He was NOT wearing head to toe body armor. He had on a balistic helmet, a gas mask (that will not even slow down a bullet), a neck to thigh vest, and tactical trousers (which won't stop even a blowgun dart.
the majorith of his head, face, arms and legs were vulnerable to gunfire. That is not even to count that the vest has weak spots in many places.
It appears that you don't have a clue about the performance of firearms, protective clothing, or the constitution, that makes your whole argument suspect and a waste of time.

Victor said...

Herb 1949,
"I am also willing to bet that if bullets started flying around him and even striking him, he would have run like the CS coward he is."

It's YOUR life, go ahead and bet it!

"...the shooter was not picking targets, he was shooting at random, with the smoke, dark and confusion he had no idea where his shots were going, and he could not have spotted someone trying to get off a shot."

Yes, and you can see through the smoke and dark because you have X-ray vision.

I don't know when the last time was that I read this much moronic macho-man bravado in one comment.

Ok, Herbie - you go play Dirty Harry and tell the rest of us how it turned out for ya!

Make your will out to me first, though.
Steve will give you my e-mail address to contact me.

Macho, macho, MAN!

Michael said...

Drunk drivers kill more people than handguns each year...but you don't see anyone trying to ban cars and alcohol..

Victor said...

Is it too much to ask for some NEW talking points?

These are so old, their nutsacks hit the water in the toilet when they sit down to shit.

Michael said...

Yes of course, if you lack the intellectual skills to debate a topic, just change the channel...right after you toss out a 5th grade joke...

Victor said...

Michael,
Remind me again please of the "intellectual skills" it takes to label people who disagree with you "sheeple" - itself, an old phrase.

And frankly, I'd rather debate a geranium than someone with your "intellectual skills."
I suspect if the plant has nothing new to say, it would say nothing at all - which is more than I can say to you.

Just a hunch...

Go back to your Conservative blogs, where I'm sure you're complimented daily on your wit and "intellectual skills."

Have a nice evening.

Michael said...

Owned.

Steve M. said...

Drunk drivers kill more people than handguns each year...but you don't see anyone trying to ban cars and alcohol..

Um, we did ban alcohol in this country, for more than a decade.

But I forget -- to you guys, the Constitution consists of (a) the Second Amendment and (b) a whole bunch of fine print.

Steve M. said...

Owned.

I'm just skimming the discussion here, but really, I think the whole point of all this for you is the desire to feel tribal and superior, in a totally adolescent way. "Ha ha, I won the argument!" It's all a big fucking game for you.

Victor said...

Michael,
I'm not owned.
YOU are.
By the talking points given to you.

Please come back when you have something original to say, and I'll be happy to have a debate with you.

Debating someone who brings out the same old talking points, is like debating a doll which, when the string is pulled, has a limited range of sentences it can "say."
In other words, it's pointless.

Now, have a nice day.

city said...

thanks for sharing.

Sarah David said...

Very valuable conversation being done about guns law.