In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and anti-gun nuts’ rush to force through draconian gun restrictions while the nation is ripe for manipulation, liberals have been whipping out all sorts of clever analogies to persuade shallow thinkers of their stance:
“If the logic is, it’s useless to regulate guns because criminals will still break the law, then why have traffic laws?”
This was a post from a Facebook friend of mine—reposted from the Being Liberal fan page—to which I replied, “I didn’t realize cars were used for self-defense, or that traffic laws prohibit people from owning cars.”
A liberal comrade stepped in: “Yeah, well people also don’t drive cars into classrooms and theaters to kill people intentionally,” to which I replied, “I didn’t realize by ‘why have traffic laws’ the poster meant ‘why have laws against driving cars into classrooms and theaters to kill people intentionally.’ I believe we already have more general laws against that.”
Another Facebook meme declares, “If a preschool child hits another child with a rock, the solution is not for every child to have a rock.” Is that so. I didn’t know the Newtown shooting had been carried out by a child, or that anyone was advocating arming children with guns as a way of preventing schoolhouse murders. What does schoolyard sparring have to do with mass shootings?
A third post asks, “So you want to talk about the effects of mental illness associated with gun crime? Let’s start with the paranoid delusion that your handgun is going to help you rise up against a tyrannical government,” to which I would query, “Ever hear of the American Revolution?”
Keep ‘em coming, libs. We have all day.
Inane as these analogies are, at least the posters are trying to make actual arguments. Most mainstream news analysts have been using the less subtle tactic of cutting off gun control opponents before they can make points.
Last week CNN’s Soledad O’Brien interviewed John Lott for the purpose of trying to understand his work researching and debunking gun use myths. Lott has talked to dozens of unarmed gun crime victims who regret that they weren’t able to arm themselves. He made the devastating point that virtually all public shootings have occurred in places where guns are banned; for example: (1) James Holmes shot up the one movie theater in Aurora, Colorado out of seven that banned guns, and (2) Dylan Klebold of Columbine infamy had been lobbying a state legislator to ban concealed handguns.
O’Brien interrupted Lott to offer the complete non sequitur that all public shootings involve people with guns.
O’Brien then made the specious but slightly more relevant point that we can’t know for a fact whether almost all mass shootings occurring in gun-free zones is just a coincidence. She concluded by shutting Lott down and gasping, “Your position completely boggles me, honestly. I just do not understand it.” Maybe if O’Brien let Lott talk instead of repeatedly interrupting him to tell him that all gun crimes involve guns, she would get a better sense of where he’s coming from.
Piers Morgan was less subdued than O’Brien when he interviewed Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt, who graciously refrained from insulting the brain-damaged Morgan after the latter called him “an unbelievably stupid man.”
After Pratt made the absolutely true points that gun rights allow people to protect themselves, police often don’t show up in time to save endangered victims, and gun control laws have never worked anyplace they’ve been tried, Morgan responded with the following taunts: “You’re talking complete and utter nonsense,” “What you just said was an absolute lie,” and “You don’t give a damn about the gun murder rate.”
Morgan again displayed his bombastic ignorance in a panel discussion on gun control with Steve Dulan and Christiane Amanpour in which Morgan asked Lott to justify his argument for fewer gun restrictions. When Lott sensibly noted, “Every place that guns have been banned, murder rates have gone up. You cannot point to one place, whether it’s Chicago or whether it’s D.C. or whether it’s been England or whether it’s been Jamaica or Ireland,” Morgan called this a “complete lie,” because gun violence in Great Britain is lower than in the United States—a point that has absolutely nothing to do with anything.
Amanpour similarly demonstrated her inability to use facts to make a point by stating that Great Britain’s gun crime rate had declined in recent years—to which Lott replied that it had risen sharply immediately after the ban, had started to come down after police forces had been increased, but was still higher than it had been before guns were banned.
All of this liberal grandstanding in the face of conservative rationality reminds me of Jonathan Haidt’s fascinating finding that conservatives better understand liberal positions than liberals understand conservative positions. To wit: conservatives who aren’t naïve about criminal psychology can nonetheless see why a simpleton would think banning guns would keep everyone from acquiring them, whereas gun-averse liberals just cannot get it through their heads how allowing people to arm themselves deters would-be criminals.
Conservatives often sigh that there’s no point arguing with liberals, that they’re never going to come around and it’s useless to try to persuade them. I’m not sure. I think the human tendency is to get emotional and defensive, not when you’re right, but when you’re wrong and your belief system is vulnerable. You don’t usually feel the urgent need to prevent someone on the other side from making his point if it’s patently obvious he’s making a fool of himself.
I suspect that with liberals who haven’t shut themselves off from reason, sanity occasionally seeps in, even if it takes years to manifest itself in reasonable policy positions.
Guns are an emotional topic. Conservatives should keep making the arguments we’re making, even if liberals lash out at us in rage—especially if they lash out at us in rage. It’s a sign we’re getting through.
Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics
- Piers Morgan berates another pro-gun advocate on his show, calls John Lott a liar (redalertpolitics.com)
- Piers Morgan and Christiane Amanpour debate gun control with guests Steve Dulan and John R. Lott, Jr. (cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com)
- Soledad O’Brien Clashes With Gun Advocate John Lott: ‘Your Position Completely Boggles Me’ (mediaite.com)
- Newtown: Why is gun advocate John Lott doing his best work on CNN? (washingtonpost.com)
- Lott schools CNN’s O’Brien on ‘Gun-Free-Zones’ (humanevents.com)