The Changing Face Of Gun Control

This month marks an important 25-year milestone for the nation’s leading gun control organization.

It was 25 years ago this month that Pete Shields, the founder of Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), laid out his three-step agenda for banning the private possession of handguns. Yes, he wanted to make handguns totally illegal in this country, including the ones in your home.

Many people erroneously think that Sarah Brady has always been the top boss at HCI. But until his death a few years ago, Pete Shields was the founder and head of the organization which last month changed its name to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

New name. Same goals.

It was in a July 26, 1976 interview with The New Yorker magazine that Pete Shields outlined his very ambitious goals for banning handguns in this country — a three-step plan that Sarah Brady has followed quite well.

1. “The first problem,” Shields said, “is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country.”

Sounds logical, doesn’t it? If you want to ban handguns, then you’ve got to slow down the production and sale of all new ones. Well, have Shield’s henchmen tried to do this over the last 25 years?

Oh boy, have they ever.

The Brady Bunch has helped many city and local governments to launch frivolous lawsuits against gun makers in an effort to financially cripple them.

Sarah Brady has supported legislation, such as the crime bill that President Clinton signed in 1994, which has helped the feds to shut down more than 200,000 gun dealers nationwide.

The Brady Bunch has supported bans on the possession and sale of certain semi-automatic firearms, such as the Feinstein-Schumer ban from 1994 — a ban covering more than 180 types of firearms.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg, and more examples could be given. But you get the picture. The Brady Bunch has done its best to curtail the sale and production of all kinds of guns. So what’s next?

2. According to Brady’s boss, Pete Shields: “The second problem is to get handguns registered.”

The term registration is taboo these days, since so many voters oppose it as an invasion of privacy. So Brady-backed politicians, such as presidential candidate Al Gore, usually talk about licensing instead — a true distinction without a difference.

Gore’s platform in 2000 called for licensing handgun owners, a position which ultimately cost him the election as pro-gun states such as Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia and Tennessee (his home state) defected to the Republican side of the aisle.

Why, you ask, would the Brady Bunch want to register and license handgun owners?

Well, historically, registration has been the first step towards confiscation. And perhaps that is what Pete Shields had in mind because his push for registration would be helpful in accomplishing his third and final goal.

3. Shields wanted a handgun-free America: “Our ultimate goal… is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal.”

In other words, he wanted to completely ban the handguns in your home.

When pressed, HCI staff will hesitate to affirm they are still pursuing this goal. But the facts speak loud and clear. Consider the draconian gun ban in Washington, D.C.

Since 1976, authorities in the nation’s capital have made it virtually impossible for law-abiding citizens to legally own any kind of firearm. Sarah Brady’s organization supports this law.

Oh sure, their spinmeisters like to say they just want to get the guns out of the wrong hands. But what they really mean is that EVERYONE’S hands are the “wrong hands.”

I debated an HCI spokesman this year and encouraged his organization to work with us at Gun Owners of America to repeal the DC gun ban since, obviously, the city bans guns from EVERYONE’S hands, not just the “wrong hands” as Sarah Brady likes to say.

No way. Their spokesman would not agree to help us repeal the gun ban.

But why should he? That would take HCI away from the goals Sarah Brady and her organization have worked so hard towards for the past 25 years.

Remember that the next time you hear a reference to the “new” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The truth is, their campaign to eradicate “gun violence” starts with you-by controlling the guns in your home.

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America.