The goal of gun rights advocates is to allow individuals the right to own and carry firearms. That seems clear, even if it results in such questionable policies as allowing convicted felons or those who are a danger to themselves or others because of mental illness.
One of the immediate objective of many gun control efforts is to keep guns from those two groups. Other objectives are to prohibit the sale of “military style” rifles (as opposed to military rifles). A more long term or larger goal is to address “gun violence” (as opposed to violence per se, oddly). But simply “addressing” gun violence does not define a logical stopping point. According to the FBI, firearm-related homicides have fallen from 17,075 in 1993 to 10,869 in 2008 – more than a 40% decline. The number of nonfatal gun violence incidents has declined from 1,222,701 in 1993 down to 331,618 in 2008 before rising to 414,562 in 2011 – a two thirds decline.
As an example of the problem, Michael Bloomberg’s new effort Everytown for Gun Safety has an immediate goal of increasing the number of background checks performed prior to gun sales, with a special emphasis on gun shows and internet sales. But his prior support for “assault weapon” bans suggests that this is simply a first step in a longer run process. I don’t see any benchmarks or performance measures anywhere on the website, so it is impossible to know in advance when or how the group will accomplish its goals.
Some gun rights advocates believe that the long run goal is complete confiscation of guns. That seems overly paranoid to me, even though Dianne Feinsten has stated her desire to confiscate “assault weapons” and a New Jersey state senator expressing her wish for a bill that would “confiscate confiscate confiscate” . I think that gun control groups would be more successful if they were upfront about their long run goals and included benchmarks and performance measures in their public statements. That would allow gun rights groups some measure of comfort that background checks are not simply the first step towards confiscation.