Ammo and a high capacity 30 round clip sits on the table at the "Get Some Guns & Ammo" shooting range on January 15, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lawmakers are calling for tougher gun legislation after recent mass shootings at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:57PM
When it comes to guns in America, there is no slippery slope. There is no chance, and never will be, that stricter regulations on guns will lead in time to wholesale bans and confiscation.
The National Rifle Association would have you believe otherwise. The NRA would have you believe that even the most commonsense proposed gun control measures, such as a criminal background check on anybody who buys a gun, will lead to a day when crazy lefties and jack-booted federal agents crash down your door to take away your deer rifle.
But that will never happen. The Second Amendment will never allow it. The American people will never go for it. Only 15 percent of Americans, according to a December CNN/ORC poll, want to make all guns illegal except for use by cops and security professionals.
Guns will always have a place in American culture, for purposes of protection, hunting, target shooting and collecting. And the sooner that truth becomes more widely understood and accepted, despite the bogeyman talk of the NRA, the sooner reasonable steps can be taken to reduce the use of guns to slaughter our children and commit everyday crimes.
Gun owners and gun opponents can and must find common ground.
President Barack Obama said as much Wednesday in urging Congress to pass several new gun control measures: “The only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”
We only wish Obama had driven that point home by sharing the stage with police officers and hunters and other legal gun owners — hardly the anti-gun zealots of NRA nightmares — who agree with him on the need for greater controls. Gun-owning proponents of reasonable gun limits are out there, in large numbers even, and their voices need to be heard more than ever.
Obama and other political leaders, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn, are asking for nothing in the way of gun control that remotely threatens the gun rights of law-abiding Americans.
The president called for universal background checks for anybody who buys a gun, whether at a store or at a garage sale. Eighty-four percent of Americans, according to an AP poll last week, support that idea.
The president called on Congress to limit the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips, the kind that allowed the shooter at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last July to spray bullets into 70 people, killing 12, within minutes. Sixty-five percent of Americans, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll last week, favor that measure.
The president called on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons. Fifty-eight percent of Americans, according to the ABC/Post poll, favor that.
But while solid majorities of Americans support those three specific gun control measures, they also express an overall unease with additional gun laws, even after Newtown. Only 43 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup poll released Monday, are “dissatisfied” with current gun laws and want stricter regulations.
We are dismayed by this. We would have expected that the horror of 20 first-graders being mowed down might have stirred a far greater demand for stricter gun control. The fact that it did not is perhaps proof of the effectiveness of propaganda by the NRA, which last year spent 10 times more money on lobbying than every gun control group combined, according to the New York Times.
Or perhaps it is proof of the point we made at the outset of this editorial, that guns are deeply ingrained in American culture and in no danger of sliding down a slippery slope to prohibition.
Ignore the extremism of the NRA. Gun owners can safely stand up for gun control, too.
And it is time that more of them did.