Fayetteville, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- Those of us who support gun rights often get accused of committing the fallacy of the slippery slope, the assertion without evidence that if we take one step in a given direction, we’ll inevitably end up in disaster. Assuming the angle and viscosity of the slope is at best lazy thinking and at worst a denial of the reality that most of the time, we muddle through, arriving neither in heaven or hell.
This is not to say that there are no genuinely slippery slopes. The opioid crisis in this country illustrates the fact that at times, the chain of causation is real and demonstrable. So what about gun control?
In this subject, there is good evidence to show that politicians seek to impose more and more control on the ability of good people to own and carry firearms legally. Australia is one example. The AU 1997 laws are well known in the gun community here, though we have to recognize that they were an agreement between the federal government and the states since the latter have considerable power. The timeline of gun laws provided by the Shooters Union Western Australia gives a good lesson of how things get worse over time. The same lesson is on display in the timeline of gun laws in Britain.
And as with Australia, Britain is cited repeatedly by gun control advocates as an example of what they want here in the United States.
What gets left out of such citations is an acknowledgment of the failure of each new law to reduce the homicide rate [the laws do not fix what they were supposed to fix].
When confronted with either of those nations as good guides for how we should change our laws here, it’s worth bringing up the facts that Britain’s homicide rate has been effectively constant since the latter half of the eighteenth century and that Australia’s rate also remained basically flat over the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In Australia, murders rose with the rest of the world in the sixties through the eighties and then began a minor decline—a decline that started almost ten years before the 1997 laws that supposedly did so much.
The ratcheting up of gun controls can also be illustrated here, California coming immediately to mind. Supporters of more restrictions like to point out that it was Ronald Reagan who endorsed limits on carrying in that state in response to members of the Black Panthers carrying their firearms openly.
That might bother me if I labored under the belief that Reagan was infallible, but raising this case undermines the argument for control, since it reminds us that so much about these laws comes from a racist motivation.
To return to the point above, it’s not a fallacy to say, on the basis of evidence, that a particular outcome is the predictable result of taking steps in the advocated direction. In other words, when we can show that in multiple examples, gun controls have moved to the point of making legal gun ownership and carry so tricky as to be akin to impossible, we can’t logically be dismissed as having errors in our thinking.
The good news is that we don’t have to accept this kind of creeping accumulation. Washington State played with the imposition of an “assault weapons” ban and “high capacity” magazine ban, only to have the bills stopped—in part by the opposition of a Democrat.
While some may suggest that this is the Californication of Washington State, things aren’t so simple. There’s a move afoot to split the former state in two, the desired separation that shows the divide between the rural bulk of California’s geography and the densely populated coastal cities. The merits of such a change should be debated elsewhere, but the movement suggests to me that even in the state with some of the worst gun laws in this nation, there is hope.
And the larger point is that observing the slippery character of the slope does not mean that we must accept it as inevitable. We can dig in our crampons, take a hardy swing with our ice axes, tie ourselves together as a group, and climb out of the abyss. The facts and logic are on our side, and we don’t have to surrender to the accretion of violations of rights.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.