This feature appears in the May ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Illustration by Court Jones
The anti-gun lobby’s latest buzzword is “enough.”
You might have heard it during the Oscars, where some Hollywood luminaries wore “awareness bracelets” tied to the Twitter hashtag #Enough, demanding more anti-gun laws—while they promenaded with more armed security than an average prime minister.
“Enough is enough!” We hear it over and again from politicians and their backers as they push for “universal” background checks, or closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” or this or that gun ban or restriction on your Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms.
Sure, #Enough might be a catchy hashtag. But what, exactly, would “enough” look like?
At what point does the gun-ban lobby win just one more so-called “common-sense” solution—and then say, “Enough”?
For nearly 50 years now—since the Gun Control Act of 1968—they’ve been telling us, “All we want is just one more law.”
Yet as soon at they win “just one more law”—whether it’s a waiting period, a background check, a ban on this or that gun or ammunition, or anything else—they immediately turn around and say, “It’s just a first step.”
So if each of these anti-gun laws is “just a first step,” then what’s the last step? Where do all these “first steps” lead, both logically and legally?
If you look at it all in context—from the anti-gun lobby’s endless rebranding of itself and its message, to the openly admitted aims of its leaders going back decades, to the legislative proposals in states across the country—you realize, as NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “The only ‘loophole’ they want to eliminate is your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
Dozens Of New Anti-Gun Bills In Statehouses Nationwide
Look at the states around the country where they’ve passed “just one more” law on the promise that it would solve the problem and complete their agenda.
In Washington state in 2014, with millions of dollars from Michael Bloomberg backing them, the anti-gun lobby pushed through a ballot initiative mandating so-called “universal” background checks.
In reality, all that Washington law did was transform law-abiding citizens into criminals, as it turned perfectly innocent activities—like lending a gun to your friend so he can go hunting next week—into crimes.
Was that “enough” for Washington state’s gun-ban crowd? You tell me. Since then, they’ve pushed everything from a so-called “assault weapon” ban that would ban most modern firearms, to a Seattle city ordinance that would slap a $25 tax on every firearm and a 5¢-per-round tax on ammunition. Nothing is ever “enough” for the anti-gun lobby.
The fact is, it’s easy to illustrate that nothing is ever “enough” for gun-banners by noting that many of the most extreme proposals come from states that already have the most extreme anti-gun measures in place.
Want proof?“It will happen one very small step at a time, so that by the time people have ‘woken up’ to what’s happened, it’s gone farther than what they feel the consensus of American citizens would be.” — Stockton, Calif., Mayor Barbara Fass
In New York, after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled Statehouse passed a gun ban in the dark of night—the so-called safe Act, which banned semi-automatic so-called “assault rifles” and magazines with capacities higher than 10 rounds. If you already owned one of the guns that was banned, you could keep it—but you had to register it. Was that “enough” for the New York gun grabbers?
Not by a long shot. Now New York lawmakers are pushing “safe storage” mandates forcing you to lock your guns away in your home, making them useless for self-defense; ridiculous limits on how much ammunition you can buy; a requirement that gun owners buy $250,000 worth of liability insurance or give up their guns—the list goes on and on. It’s never enough.
Like New York, Maryland banned so-called “assault weapons” and the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. They also required fingerprinting and mandatory training for handgun buyers. Was that “enough”? Was it the “just one more law” that would fix everything and get the gun-ban lobby to declare victory and go away? Nope—now they’re pushing 16 gun bills in Maryland, including one that would ban BB guns, air rifles, and even toy guns. So when does it stop? The answer is obvious. Never.
In California, the anti-gun lobby first said it only wanted a one-day waiting period for handgun purchasers ... then three days ... then five … then 15. First, they said they wanted to register only handguns brought from another state ... then all long guns ... then any and every newly purchased firearm. First, California said they were only banning certain semi-automatics, and you could keep others if you registered them. Then they said many of those registered semi-automatics were retroactively illegal under the law they’d already passed—and officials used those registration lists to start knocking on gun owners’ doors.
More recently, California politicians pushed so-called “universal” background checks as the magic pill for crime. But apparently that wasn’t “enough” for the anti-gun lobby. Now they’re pushing to force gun dealers to record video of every gun or ammunition purchaser, as well as their gun and ammunition storage areas, their parking lots and the surroundings of their stores—and retain all that video footage on the premises for at least five years. Guess who will be forced to pay the price of all those video cameras and hard drives? Honest, lawful gun buyers like you.
Shutting Down Gun Sellers, Barring Gun Buyers
Some of these schemes, like Seattle’s gun tax, or New York’s liability insurance scheme or California’s mandate to videotape all gun purchasers, are intended to dry up the supply of guns—both by making guns more expensive, and therefore less available to people on a tight budget, and by driving dealers out of business under the weight of all the expensive mandates. That’s what happened when San Francisco imposed a city ordinance requiring gun buyers be videotaped: The last gun shop in San Francisco was forced to close its doors forever.
Indeed, it’s the same strategy President Bill Clinton used when his Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) changed the rules for gun dealers and thereby cut the number of Federal Firearm License holders by more than 60 percent. If you can’t find someone to sell you a gun, how can you buy one?
But in addition to attacking supply, the anti-gun crowd is also trying to dry up demand for firearms—by slowly adding more and more people to the list of “prohibited persons” barred by law from owning firearms. That’s what California is doing with its new misdemeanor offenses that bar citizens from owning guns. In fact, police in California are now assigned not to solve crimes, but to go around knocking on doors and collecting guns from these newly defined “criminals.”
It’s the same thing President Barack Obama is doing by barring gun ownership to Department of Veterans Affairs benefit recipients who need someone to help them with their finances. And he is looking for ways to do the same thing for those on Social Security. Since when does your right to defend yourself in your home depend on your ability to balance a checkbook?
It’s never enough.
The irony is that even as firearms sales have broken record after record, and as the vast majority of states have restored the right to carry, violent crime rates have fallen to the lowest levels in 40 years in this country. So have fatal firearms accidents—which have fallen by more than 90 percent over the past century.
Yet still these zealots push every anti-gun scheme under the sun: bans on cheap guns because they’re easier to afford. Bans on expensive guns because they’re more effective. Bans on bullets because they expand. Bans on bullets because they don’t expand. “Smart” gun mandates that make firearms more expensive and less reliable. Microstamping. Bullet serialization. Gun owner licensing. And the new holy grail of the gun-ban movement: “universal gun registration.”
Is it any wonder that their latest scheme, which they call “universal” background checks, can work only if the federal government has a paper trail to follow—through a national, central federal database of every gun in America and who owns it? Even the Obama administration has admitted that for so-called “universal” background checks to be effective, it “depends on … requiring gun registration.”
New, Improved Labels For The Same Old Insidious Schemes
The only reason you don’t hear about schemes and statements like these anymore is because the anti-gunners have changed their tune and their tactics.What’s frightening is how quickly society sometimes forgets the danger, the damage and the permanence these freedom-destroying schemes bring.
Yet if you mention the principle of the slippery slope—the truth that one failed anti-gun law just paves the way for more—you’ll be shamed, if not shouted down.
For example, at the CNN “town hall” hard-sell for Obama’s anti-gun executive orders in January, Obama sarcastically asked host Anderson Cooper, “Are you suggesting that ... we are creating a plot to take everybody’s guns away ...?” He then went on to ridicule the notion, answering, “Yes, that is a conspiracy!”
But is it really so ridiculous? It might seem so to some younger observers. But not that long ago, politicians, media executives, even U.S. Supreme Court justices openly admitted their prohibitionist beliefs.
Here are just a few in their own words:
“Banning guns is an idea whose time has come.” —U.S. Sen. [now Vice President] Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Nov. 18, 1993, Associated Press
“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it.” —U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Feb. 5, 1995, CBS “60 Minutes”
“There’s no reason for anyone in this country, anyone except a police officer or military person, to buy, to own, to have, to use, a handgun ... And the only way to do that is to change the Constitution.”—NBC News President Michael Gartner, Jan. 16, 1992, USA Today
“The NRA ... was right all along in fearing the waiting period was a camel’s nose under the tent. Brady has now passed and it is time to reveal the rest of the camel!”—Handgun Control Inc. President Richard Aborn, Dec. 8, 1993, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Search the Internet and you’ll find pages and pages of statements just like these. You’ll also find bills proposed in Congress to do everything from banning all handguns to repealing the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The only reason you don’t hear about schemes and statements like these anymore is because the anti-gunners have changed their tune and their tactics.
In 1974, the National Coalition to Ban Handguns was formed. In 1989, when the word “ban” fell from favor, the group renamed itself the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. In the same way, after handguns became the fastest-selling type of firearms in America, Handgun Control Inc. renamed itself the Brady Campaign.
So “gun ban” became “gun control.” Now that even “gun control” has fallen from favor—Bloomberg News advises, “To Get Better Gun Control, Don’t Use The Phrase”—the new-and-improved gun-ban brand is “gun safety.” Now, whenever you hear the media discuss one of the scores of anti-gun bills pending, they’ll call it “gun safety” legislation.
What’s ironic is that none of these groups—and none of their schemes—do anything to teach anyone “gun safety” or make anyone safer with firearms.
But just because they change their names, update their theme lines and shift their strategies doesn’t mean they’re not driving toward the very same endgame. Indeed, some of their anti-gun schemes appear specifically intended to pave the way for more.
As Stockton, Calif., Mayor Barbara Fass said of her state’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” which was the first such ban in the nation: “It will happen one very small step at a time, so that by the time people have ‘woken up’ to what’s happened, it’s gone farther than what they feel the consensus of American citizens would be.”So: How much gun-ban zealotry is “enough”? A ban on the most popular-selling rifle in America? A repeal of the Second Amendment?
Indeed, commenting on the Clinton semi-automatic gun ban that followed, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote in 1996: “Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.”
The Supreme Prize Of Election 2016
If you think our 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court victories for the Second Amendment bar the door to such radical anti-gun policies, you could be in for a frightening surprise—and soon.
The sudden death in February of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—perhaps the most effective and successful defender of your Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms in the Court’s history—makes the stakes of this year’s presidential and U.S. Senate elections truly monumental.
The next American president is likely to choose three or even more U.S. Supreme Court justices. Those justices are sure to be asked to decide whether your right to keep and bear arms actually means anything, or whether it is redefined out of existence. It could very well happen.
Both of the Supreme Court’s recent landmark decisions upholding the Second Amendment as your individual right—Heller and McDonald—were decided by just one vote ... and Justice Scalia was one of those votes.
For a look at where the Supreme Court could go, just look at where it’s been, in the words of some of its members: Supreme Court Justice
William O. Douglas, in a 1972 dissent joined by Justice Thurgood Marshall, wrote: “There is no reason why all pistols should not be barred to everyone except the police.”
In 1991, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said, “[The Second Amendment] has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
Even Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has made her position on your right to keep and bear arms very clear. “The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment,” she told a group at a recent fundraiser. “And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
Furthermore, she’s vowed to ban semi-automatics such as the AR-15, and to do so, she has said that Australia’s gun confiscation regime “would be worth considering on the national level.”
So: How much gun-ban zealotry is “enough”? A ban on the most popular-selling rifle in America? A repeal of the Second Amendment?
With the death of Justice Scalia, will the U.S. Supreme Court have the one vote it needs to defend your Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms from death by a thousand cuts?
Your vote on Election Day this year may be the one vote that makes “enough” of a difference.