I've been debating with some friends on gun rights in the US. One standard argument therein is the slippery slope argument that once we start taking away gun rights, it will never stop until they are all taken away. The rational answer I've seen is to point out that the slippery slope is a fallacy, not an argument.

Challenging my own position: is there any example of gun rights being increased in a population without a corresponding revolution (e.g., the US Revolutionary War)?

Examples might be a nation or state which relaxed a magazine capacity limit or permitted a new class of sales. This would exclude rights that were a trivial product of things like technological advancement (e.g. it was impossible to own a machine gun before they were first invented). A lack thereof would be strong evidence for the slippery slope.

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    it will never stop until they are all taken away - And ? That's bad because... ?
    – Lucian
    May 3, 2020 at 10:09
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    Mostly without revolution, just economic interest and construed arguments and lobby work. And this is a national 'Murrican question. Most civilized countries make sure that people don't just run around with guns and that is rarely questioned at all. When there's no hill, there's no slope, very simplistic spoken.
    – user43870
    May 3, 2020 at 10:09
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    I downvoted because the question is applicable to a single country only. Many countries had their revolutions, none derives such a right from that.
    – user43870
    May 3, 2020 at 14:40
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    The concept of slippery slope is slippery at best. You could as well say that the last 150 years of history have been a slippery slope towards human rights (first they banned slavery, then they allowed poor men to vote, then women and then even non-white people!) But that would not mean that emancipation caused or facilitated femenine suffrage anymore that taking those both movements as examples of a common general trend towards individual freedom, or even completely unrelated events.
    – SJuan76
    May 3, 2020 at 19:28
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    I'm sort of interested in a related assumption that's embedded in this question. That the American revolution was victory for gun rights against the pro-gun control redcoats. Is that a thing people actually believe? Is it important to the argument here? Would you like to see an answer to that question?
    – Nathan
    May 6, 2020 at 12:45

5 Answers 5


Surely. Just in 2008-2010, the judgments in Heller and McDonald and the settlement in Guy Montag Doe all expanded gun rights in the United States by constraining local authorities' ability to regulate firearms. No revolution needed!

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    Well, you could argue that since those were rulings stating that the restrictions imposed were illegal to begin with, they did not increase gun rights but only restored them to the same level that they should always have had; the judiciary power is in general reactionary in that it follows the established legislation but does not create new laws.
    – SJuan76
    May 3, 2020 at 10:53
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    @SJuan76: Further: the presence if speed bumps on a slope is unrelated to how slippery it is. May 3, 2020 at 12:51

Germany in the 20ties and 30ties. Even if you count conservatives delivering political power to the Nazis as a revolution. I'll paraphrase German Wikipedia:

  • Immediately after WWI, private gun ownership was outlawed, however this was impossible to enforce because guns were not registered. Especially post Freikorps right wing militias (Schwarze Reichswehr) were well armed

  • In 1928, Germany got its first unified gun law. Private gun ownership was allowed. However, prospective buyers had to prove their "reliability" and an actual need for the weapon. Weapon owners needed a Waffenbesitzkarte and a Waffenschein (a license to be carried on the person)

  • After 1933, the Nazis used the existing laws to harass Jews and political enemies: the police would withdraw the permit and use this as a pretext to search someones premises for weapons. This was targetted widely at Jews (in '33, Berlin's police chief withdrew all weapons permits from Jews) but also at other political enemies.

  • Later, the Nazis would control who gets a gun: gun laws were relaxed for party members (a license was no longer necessary to carry a handgun, starting at certain ranks within NSDAP, SA, SS or Hitler Youth among others), while "Gypsies" and other were banned from gun ownership. Jews were excluded from gun or ammunition manufacture and sale. at the same time, the restrictions on longarm ownership were relaxed, permits were only required for handguns. A specific goal of this law was Wehrhaftmachung des Deutschen Volkes, to ready Germans for war.

  • Later in 1938, after the November pogroms, a bylaw specifically forbade Jews guns or any other form of weapon ownership

So you certainly can say that in the 20ties, Germany increased gun rights - from none at all to legal gun ownership, based on permits.

Starting with the Nazi regime, the picture gets more complex. For a majority, the change in '38 meant easy access to long guns. For some organized Nazis it eased the carrying of a handgun. But at the same for many the regime deemd enemies, legal gun ownership had become impossible.

I don't know if the Nazi or Hitler ever systematically laid down their thoughts on private gun ownership, if they even were that coherent on that issue. They certainly didn't envision a disarmed population.

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    I had the same idea. You could also add the develpoments after the war (again first fully disarmed, later relaxed, new Waffengesetz 1972 and reform (easier to get amrns) 1976).
    – K-HB
    May 6, 2020 at 17:40
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    This is definitely the kind of example I was looking for. Its a case where gun restrictions were put on tightly, and then things walked towards the relaxed direction (in this case, to benefit the Nazi regime)
    – Cort Ammon
    May 7, 2020 at 1:38

Most gun legislation may add regulation, but not all of it does. The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 created new gun rights for two classes of individuals, the "qualified law enforcement officer" and the "qualified retired or separated law enforcement officer". The Wikipedia article on the act lists several cases in which individuals were allowed to carry firearms, after establishing that they belonged to qualifying classes, in situations where same would otherwise be prohibited.

As a law, not a ruling, I believe that this change passes the strict test proposed by SJuan76 above.


Bliss v. the Commonwealth (of Kentucky) advanced gun rights in the US:

Bliss stated, "But it should not be forgotten, that it is not only a part of the right that is secured by the constitution; it is the right entire and complete, as it existed at the adoption of the constitution; and if any portion of that right be impaired, immaterial how small the part may be, and immaterial the order of time at which it be done, it is equally forbidden by the constitution."[15] The "constitution" mentioned in this quote refers to Kentucky's Constitution

The importance of Bliss is also seen from the defense subsequently given against a murder charge in Kentucky against Mattews Ward, who in 1852 pulled out a concealed pistol and fatally wounded his brother's teacher over an accusation regarding eating chestnuts in class. Ward's defense team consisted of eighteen lawyers, including U.S. Senator John Crittenden, former Governor of Kentucky, and former United States Attorney General. The defense successfully defended Ward in 1854 through an assertion that "a man has a right to carry arms; I am aware of nothing in the laws of God or man, prohibiting it. The Constitution of Kentucky and our Bill of Rights guarantee it. The Legislature once passed an act forbidding it, but it was decided unconstitutional, and overruled by our highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals." As noted by Cornell, "Ward's lawyers took advantage of the doctrine advanced in Bliss and wrapped their client's action under the banner of a constitutional right to bear arms. Ward was acquitted.

This is the basis of much of the "can't regulate guns" thinking in the US today.


In Visigothic Hispania, only the Visigothic ruling class could bear arms. When the Moors invaded in 711 AD, only the Visigothic ruling class could offer resistance. After the Moorish conquest, restrictions on arms were relaxed and the tax burden was lightened. Once the tax burden was increased, the ongoing Christian Reconquista gained momentum.

Work in progress. Recalling what was stated in a documentary I watched years ago. Please consider the above highly dubious until I have found corroboration by reputed historians. If corroboration is not found, this answer will be deleted.


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