Does Gun Registration Lead To Gun Confiscation?

              Perhaps the single most cherished myth floating around Gun-nut Nation is the idea that gun registration has always led to gun confiscation which then leaves citizens defenseless, allowing dictators like Hitler and Stalin to impose tyrannical rule. It’s a myth usually referred to as the ‘slippery slope,’ and it briefly appeared in last week’s Congressional hearing when Andy Harris (R-MD) asked the panel whether they supported national gun registration, and all three gun-control ‘experts’ said or mumbled ‘no.’ Had any of them – Morral, Stewart, Webster – been honest enough to respond to Harris’ question without first measuring their answers against what they believe is the politically-correct point of view, a national audience might have learned that the ‘slippery-slope’ argument has no basis in history or truth at all. So much for how we can rely on the practitioners of evidence-based gun research to align their advocacy with the facts.

              The slippery-slope fantasy was most recently in full display when Alaska’s long-time Congressman, Don Young, told an audience last year that the Holocaust happened because Hitler had disarmed the Jews. You can’t really blame Young for saying something that dumb; after all, the Republican Party briefly flirted with the idea in 2016 of running a Presidential candidate named Ben Carson who said exactly the same thing.

              If you think, by the way, that the murder of six million ‘defenseless’ Jews was originally the handiwork of some nut-job, far-Right conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones, think again. In fact, the argument can be found in a detailed, scholarly work by Stephen Halbrook, an attorney who argues many 2nd-Amendment cases for the NRA.  In this book, Halbrook argues that  the Nazi Regime used the gun-control laws previously passed by the Weimar Government to identify and disarm domestic ‘enemies’ like Jews and Communists, thus making it easier to consolidate fascism which led to both the Holocaust and World War II.

              Granted, the Nazis made full use of gun-control lists compiled by the Weimar Government after they took power in 1933. But what prompted the Weimar Government to institute a gun-control system in the first place were threats against the government’s authority posed by widespread political agitation from the Left, largely the handiwork of Germany’s Communist Party, which happened to enroll substantial numbers of Jews.

              Where Holbrook’s argument falls apart and the myth of an ‘armed citizenry’ as representing the first bulwark of protection against tyranny collapses as well, lies in the fact that the Weimar Government made no effort to disarm the Nazi Party’s street militia, known as the SA, which Hitler formed in 1921. Over the next 12 years, the SA became increasingly violent in its attacks on opponents. By 1931, its 400,000 members, mostly otherwise unemployed street thugs, were engaged in armed battles with government authorities, as well as committing physical assaults on political opponents and Jews.

              The point is that the SA armed itself not as a defense against tyranny, but as part of the Nazi strategy designed to create widespread distrust and anger against a democratic state. The disarming of the Left after 1933 wasn’t a slippery-slope at all. The Nazis imposed a military dictatorship with the support of the army and the help of a trained, armed and organized citizen’s militia known as the SA.

              Funny, but the only time the NRA and its apologists like Holbrook get concerned about protecting America from government tyranny is when the government happens to be in the hands of the gun-grabbing, tree-hugging liberals who most recently staged a coup d’état and took over what had previously been a bastion of freedom, a.k.a. the House of Representatives, on November 6, 2018. And worse, now they are trying to extend their coup by running a ‘legally-elected’ President out of town.  

              The only thing which will stop this mad power-grab are the patriots who stand fast with their God-given AR-15s to protect us from the tyrannical, liberal elite. They did it at Lexington and Concord, they can do it again.

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Obama And The Conspiracy To Disarm America: The Washington Post Weighs In And Gets It Wrong.

So for the very first time in the lifetime of everyone who is alive today, a President devoted an entire hour of prime-time media to a discussion about gun violence. And it was a discussion, I might add, that was largely shaped by a series of questions which, vetted or not, were asked by members of the audience at the Town Hall who weren’t particularly in favor of any of the President’s gun-control ideas.  Which was the whole point of this event, namely, to show the average American that Obama simply wants to have a sensible conversation about guns.

bomber              And in that regard, the President knew his stuff and spelled it out clearly and effortlessly.  He knew the difference between gun ownership and concealed-carry (the former regulated at the Federal level; the latter regulated by the states).  He knew and didn’t disagree with the notion that people wanted to own guns for self-defense.  He knew the difference between public and private sales.  In fact, I didn’t hear him make one, single statement during the entire event that couldn’t be supported by facts.

The moment that the event ended, of course, the ‘other side’ was rearing to go, with comments such as “law-abiding gun owners don’t trust Obama,” and Obama as “bully” flying through right-wing channels.  Not that any of the pro-gun, anti-Obama rhetoric was unexpected, because that’s what the digital news and political commentary environment is all about.  But what provoked the greatest amount of attention on both sides of the political spectrum was the discussion at the end of the event when the President derisively dismissed the idea of gun confiscation as a ‘conspiracy theory’ that had no basis in reality or truth.

Now here is where Obama was treading on a landscape that represents Gun Nation’s most sacred cow.  This notion that any kind of gun control is a harbinger of gun confiscation has gotten to the point that the NRA, for example, uses the phrases ‘2nd Amendment’ and ‘disarming America’ interchangeably; i.e., if you don’t believe in the former, the latter will surely occur.  And this has become the degree to which any attempt to talk about gun violence is debased insofar as any gun-control law by definition reduces protections afforded by the 2nd Amendment, which raises the possibility that you might lose your guns.

Now I don’t care and obviously Obama doesn’t care either if this nonsense about gun confiscation continues to generate an immediate backlash from the most committed members of the pro-gun crowd.  But when it’s taken seriously by liberal opinion-makers such as the Washington Post’s Max Ehrenfreund, it needs to be responded in kind. Ehrenfreund is a bright, young man, Yalie no less, who quickly produced a commentary on Obama’s talk about conspiracies based largely on some ersatz academic theories about conspiracies which basically argue that political powerlessness makes people prone to believing in conspiracies, which is why all those conservative-minded gun owners are susceptible to believing in conspiracies.  Right – politically powerless gun owners.  Yea, right.

When you run a daily blog you have to come up with new content every day. But I would hope that the editors of a Washington Post blog would occasionally ask themselves whether their contributors know anything at all regarding the issues about which they write.  Because the whole point about conspiracies is they usually grow from the ground up; somehow people start believing in something whether there’s any reality behind their belief or not.

Which is simply not what the gun confiscation conspiracy is all about. It’s about a concerted, organized and continuous effort to promote the sale of guns – an effort led and directed by the NRA and others for the past thirty years.  Ehrenfreud doesn’t perceive this at all, but Obama certainly does.  His dismissal of the confiscation theory as reflecting “political reasons” and “commercial reasons” demonstrates an understanding of the gun debate that even the Washington Post hasn’t figured out. Which is why Obama is President.  Thank goodness for that.

 

Why Did Bill O’Reilly Call For Comprehensive Background Checks?

Did I really hear what I thought I heard Bill O’Reilly say after Obama announced his agenda for additional controls on guns? So I waited until Fox posted O’Reilly’s remarks from his Wednesday night show and here is exactly what he said: “The NRA and the gun owners should be reasonable. The FBI should background check anyone buying a firearm in America. That just makes sense. If you are paranoid and believe the government is stockpiling information so they can come to your house and take your guns — that’s your problem, your problem.”

oreilly               Is this the Bill O’Reilly whose nightly talk show always leads the ratings for Fox News?  Is this the same Bill O’Reilly who has either excused or justified virtually every racist attack on Obama over the last seven years? Is this the selfsame Bill O’Reilly who, following the shooting at Umpqua CC, told Obama that he could “never change” the 2nd Amendment?  Yup, it’s the same, old Billy-boy, and while I wish I had been the first one to pick up on this remarkable statement, I have to admit that you can also see the clip on Salon and Media Matters, along with a quickie from Trump (on the Salon website) commenting on Obama’s speech by saying, “Don’t worry folks, they’re not going to take away your guns.”

So all of a sudden, after months of the most outrageous and pandering lies, the Republicans turn an about-face and decide it’s time to be reasonable as regards guns.  And don’t make the mistake of thinking for one second that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News in general can be counted on to get out in front and take a positon on any political issue that runs against the Republican grain.  If all of a sudden someone as influential as Bill O’Reilly dismisses the idea that background checks will lead to gun confiscation, if this dismissal is then repeated explicitly by Donald Trump, then what has happened is that the single, most important idea used by the NRA to block any kind of sensible gun regulation – regulation leads to confiscation – has just disappeared.

The NRA and other pro-gun organizations have been promoting this slippery-slope crap since the 1990s, if not before.  The NRA usually trots this bromide out in their fundraising pitch, but there are some quasi-serious scholars out there like the NRA counsel Stephen Halbrook whose book, Gun Control in the Third Reich, also argues that gun registration in Germany then led to gun confiscation with the utmost, tragic results. I knew that Ben Carson didn’t have the wherewithal to be a serious Presidential candidate when he stated and then defended the idea that millions of Jews were killed in the Holocaust because they didn’t own guns.  But he didn’t say anything different than what has been floating around gun circles for years.

So what’s going on?  How come people who until a week ago were promoting the sine qua non of gun stupidity by warning us about how the gun-grabbers are hard at work trying to take away our guns, are now lining up on the side of reasonableness, on the side of common sense?  Should the GVP community take O’Reilly seriously?  Should Mike Bloomberg offer to appear with Trump if The Donald is willing to repeat his promise that nobody’s going to lose their guns?

What’s going on is what I have been saying is going on in the period since Sandy Hook; namely, for the very first time since guns became a public issue, the terms of the debate are no longer being set by the NRA.  I’m not saying that the playing field is exactly level.  I’m saying that the GVP movement is finally forcing the other side to consider whether what it says will continue to sell.  Because you don’t change a thirty-year public stance because all of a sudden you see the light.  You change it because otherwise your own bulb might just burn out.