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Defining the Slippery Slope Gun Rights Argument

What Is The Argument?

Those in favor of stronger regulation of firearms often run into the “Slippery Slope” argument from gun owners and those that are pro gun rights. The argument is essentially the “if you give a mouse a cookie” argument that suggests that we generally fear that any little gun law that further restricts firearms rights will ultimately lead to confiscation and the removal of the 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms.

These proposed regulations are often times referred to as “common sense” gun regulations, and while that sounds great on the surface, because nobody wants a psychopath to open fire at an elementary school, they end up turning into a slippery slope that can lead to the destruction of American Rights. Let's explore this in more detail.

If you are a person who just desperately wants one of these “common sense” gun laws to be passed but do NOT want the ultimate repeal of the 2nd amendment, I imagine this whole argument would be very frustrating.

You likely want to say something like:

We aren't trying to take away your guns … just make it harder for bad people to do bad things, so please calm down and get on board!

I'm sorry to say, but I don't think you actually know what you are asking for, and every end needs a beginning.

The Intent Could Be Debated But Doesn't Matter

Let me clarify that there are various different intentions among those who want to pass additional gun laws that further restrict ownership or use of firearms.

Some people and politicians legitimately do want to confiscate and remove firearms from the public. We know because they tell us so. This includes high level politicians who make comments about wanting to “follow the example of Australia” or “confiscation could be an option” or “if I could have banned them all, I would have.”

That said, I generally believe that many Americans who currently support laws like Universal Background Checks, Firearm Registration, Magazine Capacity Limitations, and others — don't actually want to fully disarm America. They simply see these proposals as solutions to a “gun violence” problem that wouldn't necessarily remove the right of the public to own firearms.

So, we can all agree that not ALL those in support of these firearm laws are intent on the full confiscation of firearms BUT I'm here to tell you that your intent doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because the premise is flawed. The premise consists of these two beliefs:

1: These proposed laws will stop violent crimes

2: These proposed laws are not meant to and shouldn't lead to confiscation

Both premises are false both independently but also one because of the other. Why?

Because proposed laws will not stop violent crimes and therefore will lead to gun confiscation.

How Then Does This Slippery Slope Work?

Lets begin with the first part of the premise which is the primary focus of this article. You believe that passing laws will stop violent crime. It won't. You don't have to believe me or agree with me … it's a topic for another day but understand that those of us who fight back against these legal proposals feel strongly that those proposals won't stop any of the violent crime AND because we don't feel it will work, we think it will lead to confiscation. Let me explain.

If you will, for a moment please accept my premise that your legal proposals won't stop the crime (don't worry when you finish reading this you can go back to thinking I'm wrong) then you may be able to comprehend the slippery slope argument we speak of.

What, for example, will happen if we pass all the current gun restriction proposals and the crime keeps happening? You will want more gun laws. When those laws don't stop the violence then what will you do? More laws right? You see, ultimately, you will pass laws until you confiscate guns because everything else you did up to that point had no affect on deterring violent crime (including firearm related violent crime).

Let me give you an example of how this could work:

First you pass a Universal Background check law. Yay … now everybody has to pass a background check in order to buy a gun, right? Violent crime continues and you discover that criminals either steal guns, pass background checks, or ignore the law and continue to buy/sell guns without conducting background checks.

So next you pass a law to create a firearm registration database. After all, this is the only way to enforce the Universal Background check law you passed. Plus, this way law enforcement can check any given gun in any given citizen's hand (or at a crime scene) in the database to find out who last registered/bought it, and verify if a background check was performed when it was transferred to the person currently in possession.

Sadly even with all the guns that exist in the country somehow magically tied to their rightful law abiding owner, violent crime will still continue because, just like before, bad people will steal guns, pass background checks, register their guns, or start making their own guns at home with tools and materials from Home Depot.

So what do you do now? You still hate all this violent crime taking place. So you decide you have to remove the really scary guns. Semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Pump action shotguns, and magazines that hold more than some arbitrary amount of ammunition. This is, in part, is a form of confiscation, but you can't really think of anything else to do to stop the violence. After all, you have tried everything else, right?

Let me also address the other premise, Namely That These Laws Aren't “Meant” To Lead to Confiscation

Maybe you are a wonderful American citizen who really does respect the 2nd amendment and as I stated before, legitimately doesn't want to see all guns taken away from American citizens. To you I say, not everyone standing beside you in this debate feels the same way. Many Americans really DO WANT TO GET RID OF ALL THE GUNS. Many of those Americans are in positions of power and influence. Consider for a moment that you are one of those folks. Pretend for a moment that you want to get rid of the guns. How would you do it?

Work backwards with me:

I want to get rid of all guns …

First I must be able to identify all guns. If I don't know where the guns are and who has them how can I force citizens to give them up? So I need to get all guns registered into a database and eliminate the clause in the 1996 FOPA law that prohibits such databases from existing.

In order to create the database I need to find a way to get all firearm transactions and transfers reported to the government and allow that those transfers can be recorded. Since the law already requires that guns purchased from licensed dealers be run through a background check the easiest way to reach the goal is to just require that all transfers (not just those by dealers) also go through background checks and then repeal the law that prevents those background check records from being kept permanently.

So thus I start by campaigning for Universal Background Checks.

So You May Not Agree With Me But:

OK, I understand you may disagree with some of my arguments, but at the very least I hope this gives you some insight into understanding why pro gun rights people and supporters see so many of the current firearm proposed restrictions as a slippery slope to eventual and inevitable confiscation.

If you want to learn more about why these specific proposals won't stop the violent crime from happening please consider these other relevant articles:

Everything You Need To Know About Universal Background Checks

Why High Capacity Magazine Bans Won't Help

Are Guns Registered In A National Database?

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4 Responses to Defining the Slippery Slope Gun Rights Argument

  1. Scott Peltin December 5, 2017 at 8:10 am #

    Thank you Jacob for this article it is very helpful. The bigger issue though is, how do we reduce gun violence and prevent these mass shootings. I agree with your logic but unless we, as gun owners, start engaging in the discussions on gun violence we appear to be blind to a real problem. How can we participate in solving this problem? Love to hear your thoughts.

    • Jacob Paulsen December 5, 2017 at 8:13 am #

      Scott, that is a super valid point and one I’ve often thought about. We need to be anxiously involved in the solution. Instead of being constantly on the defense we need to be on the offense. I don’t have any simple solutions to propose. I think the violence is a bi-product of weak families and low morals in our society.

    • Matthew Maruster December 5, 2017 at 9:00 am #

      Scott, I am in agreement with you 100%. Gun owners, by and large, are responsible and don’t want people to be injured or killed any more than those who dislike guns. The idea of providing solutions is so important.

      Like Jacob said, be it guns or knives or any weapon, it is first an issue of morality. A lack of respect for human life allows people to kill and injure others. Taking away all guns will do nothing if we continue towards a secular society, more concerned with ‘money and disrespect’ and less concerned with loving thy neighbor.

      Working on the morals of society is something that people do not like to look at because it requires introspection and change in ourselves. It is far easier to have the government pass a law that will erase all of societies problems. However, there are things gun owners can engage in as far as legislatively to be part of the solution. First, oppose laws that do nothing to reduce gun violence, and instead take away good people’s ability to defend their lives. Gun free zones have to be one of the biggest examples of this. By disarming people, and giving them a false sense of safety, these laws have created the perfect setting for nearly every mass shooting. But we can’t just oppose laws, we have to provide solutions as well.

      First, we all MUST do better to secure our guns from getting into the hands of those who should not have them, such as kids, felons, and those with mental illness. We have to stop leaving so many guns in our cars overnight, where so many are stolen. We have to secure them in our homes properly so our children don’t become accidental victims.

      Legislatively there are things we are missing out on. We should be pushing to stop gun violence like those opposed to guns, but do it in a different way. How about calling for enforcement and prosecution of federal gun laws, in addition to local ones. Fewer gun cases were brought against straw purchasers, drug dealers in the possession of a firearm etc under the Obama administration than under Bush. And it wasn’t because they weren’t there to prosecute, they just failed to bring charges against them. We have to force legislators to pass laws that result in mandatory sentences for felons in possession of firearms, straw purchasers, increased penalties for using a gun in a crime. Stop releasing these people for doing 1/3 of a 2-year sentence so they can continue to commit crimes.

      We have enhanced sentences for gang members, we need to push for even harsher sentencing for these gang members and for felons who are found in possession of a firearm. If we can’t get them to be harsher, we have to push them to actually enforce existing law, instead of turning their backs because they don’t want to incarcerate too many people. Our justice system should have elements of rehabilitation, but it has to be done logically. When you are a 5 time convicted felon, gang member and you get caught again with a firearm, why are we trying to rehabilitate these people? And how has releasing them to society become a form of rehabilitation?

      Finally, we need to educate people. Seriously put down the Molon Labe signs and engage these people with logic and not emotion. The average citizen and especially millennial is being fed falsehoods and propaganda that warps their idea of violence, guns and gun owners. All of this makes it easier to accept gun control measures that will do nothing to make them safer. When people say, let’s reduce gun violence it sounds great, but what should we reduce it to? What is acceptable? Zero probably, but as long as we have a free society and access to firearms there will be some who choose to use them in evil ways. That brings us full circle to addressing our moralities.

  2. Eric Bruns December 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

    Jacob: I can’t think of anything we can do to alleviate “weak families and low morals in our society”. It certainly can’t be done by passing laws. To do so that way leads to a “hitler” type leader convincing everyone that he “has the solution”. It has been tried that way for countless times leading only to individuals who don’t want their law abiding citizens firing back at them.

    It’s no different in the US. Virtually no other nation of any size has anything equivalent to The US Constitution and its Amendments. And we have an entire group of politicians (rulers) already champing at the bit to get rid of our protections. This includes judges, too, who were sworn in to protect those documents. They lied. They, too, are terrified of The People.

    Fortunately,more and more citizens are finally getting the word – especially women – who are acquiring weapons and training. If this trend continues – we can only hope! – we just might be able to vote in saner politicians, bureaucrats and others in federal, state and city governments. I know this is wishful thinking, but targeting anything less is a guarantee of failure.

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