It turns out the anti-gun people have similar problems and internal debates. Dennis Henigan from The Brady Campaign, devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 3: “But What You Really Want …”) in his book Lethal Logic. In part he complains the VPC (see pages 79, 80, and note 9) causes them problems because their advocacy of total handgun bans can be effectively cited as evidence that a “slippery slope argument” is valid. Henigan claims the Brady Campaign does not advocate a total ban on handguns. I will give him the point that Pete Shields (chair of the National Council to Control Handguns, which later became Handgun Control, Inc., which later became the Brady Campaign) saying in 1979 that the ultimate goal was banning handguns is insufficient evidence that the present day goal is the same as it was 30 years ago.
But if the Brady Campaign wants to appear as moderates and neutralize the slippery slope argument they need to reign in some of their allies. Case in point is what is being said in California about Jerry Brown filing a brief in the Chicago case arguing the 2nd Amendment should be incorporated:
In July, before the court agreed to take the case, Brown went so far as to file his own friend-of-the-court brief asking that Chicago’s gun ban be overturned – arguing that if the court doesn’t act, “California citizens could be deprived of the constitutional right to possess handguns in their homes.”
His stance has angered a number of gun control proponents.
Julie Leftwich, legal director of Legal Community Against Violence, said this isn’t simply about Brown defending the Second Amendment – it also marks a dramatic turnabout from the administration of his Democratic predecessor, Bill Lockyer, a staunch gun control advocate.
“Jerry Brown hasn’t shown leadership in the legislative arena related to the issue of gun violence prevention … and he hasn’t sponsored or weighed in on any significant gun bills,” Leftwich told The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci.
It’s possible Leftwich hasn’t read Brown’s brief (I haven’t either) but if the article cited above is correct then Brown is merely trying to protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms in their homes. Leftwich apparently is opposed to this. Has the Brady Campaign contacted Leftwich and company to asked them to tone it down? She’s hurting their cause, right? If they haven’t then their silence is very telling.
Even if the Brady Campaign leadership is opposed to the banning of handguns and they only want “reasonable regulations” they risk making themselves obsolete if they were to get everything they want. At that time they would have to either adopt new, more extreme goals, or existing “extremists” such as the VPC and company will rise to power in their place.
This is the reason why the Brady Campaign’s claim of the Heller decision will make gun control legislation easier is false.* In essence the “slippery slope argument” was working and if that end goal was unobtainable they believed they could make progress toward something that, only coincidentally, was in the same direction (such as gun registration). But those extremists will always exist. If the Brady’s were to fall from power because of near complete success in their present goal either they would change their goals or others would fill the power vacuum. Hence the “slippery slope argument” will always be valid.
*Alan Gottlieb recently told me this in a single, somewhat obscure, sentence. But I didn’t immediately understand what he was saying. It took a number of days before I figured out the essence of his insight.