I was invited to speak at a law school symposium in November at the University of Connecticut.  I was there to speak about the connection between mental illness and mass murder. (If curious, my presentation starts at about 2:20:00 in this video stream.) It was an interesting experience, and a reminder of how much trouble the gun control movement is in, and of how dishonest their arguments really are.

Richard Aborn, formerly chairman of Handgun Control, Inc. (now the Brady Campaign), spoke at the symposium. Aborn claimed that he supported reasonable gun control laws. Aborn even argued that the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in D.C. v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) show, by taking gun bans off the table, that reasonable gun regulation is now more possible than it was before. (See 04:07:00 – 04:09:22.)  Aborn claimed that the “gun reform movement” focuses on “illegal guns… because that is what this is about.”

This is about trying to keep guns away from criminals, and from those with mental health issues sufficient to indicate that they should not being possessing a weapon.  This is not, this is not, about banning guns. (04:01:00 – 04:57:00)

He was very emphatic about this – the “gun reform” or “gun safety” movement (they never call it gun control anymore) is not about banning guns.

Aborn also claimed that gun owners by large majorities support gun registration, licensing, bans on high-capacity magazines, limits on the number of guns you can buy at once, mandatory background checks – you know, the whole gun control agenda (04:13:00 – 04:13:30). But Aborn said the “b-word — the word ban” was being used by the NRA to achieve their agenda of scaring gun owners away from supporting the rest of the gun control movement.

All of this is a perfectly plausible claim – maybe the NRA and us gun nuts are paranoid. Why would we think Aborn and fellow gun control advocates are actually out to ban guns? Because less than two minutes after saying the NRA was provoking unnecessary fear about gun bans to prevent reasonable gun control, Aborn said,

One of the very tough burdens that we have on our side is to figure out how to break through this mental state that says, “Yes, you are out there seeking to ban all guns.” So what does the movement want, and why does this barrier exist? …  We do think that there should be a ban on assault weapons, we do think there should be a ban on large magazines, magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds. (04:15:00 – 04:16:27)

Wow. The NRA is ginning up fear of gun bans to prevent Aborn’s agenda… and then Aborn said that gun bans are part of the agenda.

The gun control movement is in serious trouble in this country, and I think that I can see why. When one of their principal leaders argues that gun bans are not their goal, and that the NRA is using this fear to prevent gun control laws from passing – and then makes the argument for gun bans – is it any surprise that so many Americans who might otherwise be sympathetic become skeptical? I used to be one of those gun owners who assumed that the gun control movement was made up of honest, well-intentioned people who simply did not fully understand the complexity of this problem – that they were seeking a quick and easy solution to a very intractable problem.

I still think this may well be the case for many of the gun control movement’s followers. Watching Aborn’s attempt to define fear of gun bans as paranoid while arguing in favor of gun bans makes me disinclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the leaders.