The Missouri Senate voted to eliminate all funding for the state’s driver’s license bureau on Monday due to concerns about its keeping records of concealed-carry holders. The Raw Story reports that the chairman of the appropriations committee, Kurt Schaefer (R), admitted that the cut was made to send a message to Governor Jay Nixon (D) and his administration, and said, “They will not be able to issue any drivers’ licenses.”
The state of Missouri is reportedly only state to have its driver’s license bureau also be the agency that issues concealed carry permits. According to The Raw Story article, the state gave that power to the bureau ten years ago for the purpose of allowing law enforcement to be able to identify people who carried concealed weapons. However, Missouri lawmakers have gotten more concerned about the possibility that these records would be shared with the federal government, leading ultimately to confiscations of guns from law-abiding citizens.
Gun-confiscation paranoia has been around for quite awhile in our society. Much of this is due to the widespread slippery slope argument that the NRA makes, and that lawmakers, particularly Republican lawmakers, parrot, when it comes to universal background checks or other records tracking gun ownership and purchase, or any tiny bit of regulation regarding firearms.
Probably one of the most pertinent facts that people who trumpet the slippery slope argument regarding background checks and other recordkeeping ignore is that a national gun registry is illegal. Furthermore, the bi-partisan background check amendment that failed in the Senate last week, despite widespread support in the populace, made creating a federal gun registry an actual crime.
Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the NRA has stood strongly against even the smallest new regulation of firearms. According to an article in Time’s Swampland, in 1982, when New York proposed a ban on armor-piercing bullets, the NRA’s response was a fundraising plea that said the issue “was a Trojan Horse waiting outside gun owners’ door [sic].”
Also, in 1994, Wayne LaPierre said, of proposed waiting periods, “Waiting periods are only a first step toward more stringent ‘gun control’ measures. It is just one more step in the march toward national disarmament.”
Currently, the NRA is issuing dire warnings of a conspiracy to launch a federal “gun-grab,” despite the fact that various Supreme Court rulings and laws make it extremely difficult for anybody in the White House to even propose such a move on law-abiding citizens. The organization recently got hold of a memo from the Department of Justice, which was an analysis of the potential effectiveness of already-proposed policies, such as the bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and universal background checks.
It was not, as the NRA and various right-wing news sources reported, a statement regarding how the White House intended to make such policies effective, nor how they were planning on moving towards a federal “gun-grab.”
You can read the memo itself here. [PDF]
The main problem with the slippery slope argument, for any issue, is that it assumes one specified action will follow a previous action, and another specified action will follow after that, and so on. It completely ignores the possibility that there are other actions that could occur, that things could easily stop far short of the fateful endpoint, or that nothing further will occur after the initial action is taken. Firearms regulations don’t necessarily lead to disarmament and tyranny; there are many nations with various types of firearms regulations that are far more stringent than ours that are still peaceful and democratic. In other words, it’s an extremely narrow viewpoint to take on an extremely complex issue that requires a much broader view.
A state legislature voting to shut down essential services because they’re angry over, and afraid of, recordkeeping regarding concealed carry is one of the poorest possible actions to take to address this issue. The Missouri Senate would have been well-advised to either find another agency to handle issuing concealed carry permits, or look for the reasons behind such records and possibly repeal the part of the law that required records for law enforcement purposes, instead of succumbing to paranoia to the point where they’d hurt every resident in their state for the purpose of sending a message.
|Rika Christensen is an experienced writer and loves debating politics. Engage with her and see more of her work by following her on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her blog, They Need To Go.