Gun control: batting down a few logical falacies

Gun control has always been a subject on which I tend to differ from my liberal friends. I have not generally had much of an appetite for trying to eliminate guns through legal means, and most gun control ideas that didn’t ban guns outright seemed to be half measures at best.

Much of this stems from my background: I was raised in a hunting culture and guns are very much a part of my history. Whereas a lot of the lefties I know who seek stricter restrictions on gun laws have never shot one, I was plinking cans off fence rails when I was ten. I went hunting once, but because I hate the winter in the first place, that didn’t end up being a thing for me. Still, having been raised on some particularly strict gun safety rules and having been taught to respect firearms, I think I have a different relationship with them than a lot of my friends of otherwise complimentary political mind.

After the Connecticut shootings and now the ambush in Webster, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on some of my arguments against gun control measures. I’ve had time to listen to a few in the public sphere with new ears. On balance, I have to say that the more common arguments are largely empty of substance. Lets go through a few of them:

There are already too many gun laws

This one works politically largely because it also squares with the Republican meta-platform of “less government.”

But law like government is not some homogenous fluid that can be poured into and out of our lives. It is not quantity, but quality that matters. Adam Lanza killed 27 people with a legally-acquired gun and William Spengler shot two volunteer firefighters and burned a whole neighborhood down with an illegally-acquired gun of the same type. It is fair to say that regardless of quantity, the quality of our gun laws leaves a lot to be desired. This leads directly into:

We don’t need more laws, we need to enforce the ones we have

Really? Where did I ever come up with this one?

I’m trying to imagine cops, seated on their cushions, smoking their hash pipes, deciding that they’re not going to bother enforcing laws designed to keep guns out of their faces whilst they do their jobs. I can’t quite make it happen.

What laws do we have re: gun control that are not being enforced, exactly? The logic is also similar to the Republican insistence that they can raise revenue by closing loopholes. I’m having a hard time imagining that either enforcing currently unenforced laws or collecting currently uncollected tax monies are any different from the alternatives that are so unpalatable. If you had a gun, but now you don’t, what difference does it make how that happened?

The fact of the matter is that the laws that we do have contain huge, gun show sized loopholes through which all manner of problems can slip. It isn’t that the law isn’t being enforced. It is that the law is unenforceable in the first place.

Guns don’t kill people, blah, blah, blah

I don’t think I’ve repeated this particular trope since middle school. Still, I think the largest problem with gun control laws is neither the quantity or really even the quality of those laws. It is the fact that “people kill people” is the lens through which we view gun safety. That we have statutes prohibiting mentally-ill or felons from owning guns is perhaps better than nothing. But the reason that these laws prove ineffective as they did with William Spengler is that the gun he wanted was available for purchase at all.

I still don’t support anything like a ban on guns. But high-capacity clips and guns with high rates of fire should just not be available at all.

Which of course leads to….

Well, if you can’t buy it here, you’ll just get it somewhere else

You know what? No sense locking your doors to your house, either. “They’ll” just bust a window.

The fallacy here is that, because it is physically possible to do something, that automatically means it will happen. If it will happen, that’s as good as saying it already is happening. Security experts know this to be false on its face. That is why security is generally not gained with one locked door or password protected file. It is gained through layers of relatively minor obstacles that keep all but the most determined criminals at bay.

I say if you want the gun, put a little effort in. Yes, some people will go the extra mile. Most won’t. What say we cut the numbers down a bit and see what happens?

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

5 replies on “Gun control: batting down a few logical falacies”

I’m happy to hear that you are leaning a bit towards gun control. Martin was a hunter as well and I have no problem with hunting rifles but no one needs an assault rifle unless your country is under siege and I’ll bet you a million bucks if our country was attacked, the gun companies would gladly and quickly come up with all the guns that our citizenry needs.

You know what? No sense locking your doors to your house, either. “They’ll” just bust a window.

Great line. There is power in creating deterrents. You may not eliminate something from happening, but you may reduce the occurrence or the damage.

Needless to say (but then I’ve been accused of stating the obvious), it’s complicated.

It’s not going to be a simple, slam-dunk solution that finally directs the barrel of the growing reality-show-seeking squadron of want-to-be-killers away from the unsuspecting passers-by.

I, too, grew up hunting but while I haven’t practiced such forms of providing for myself for many years, I still feel a connection with hunting tools. It baffles me to wonder just how the “right to bear arms” should equate to the sale of almost a quarter of a million weapons in a single day.

If we overlay the context of the thinking that probably existed when “The Right” (to bear arms) was invoked with the thinking that might have been in play with the purchase of nearly 250,000 firearms in one day, it seems to me that at this point we should have quite a militia at the ready to protect us from the Brits.

I have a significant concern for all those wanna-be-militia who anxiously fear more for their rights than they probably care about personal firearm training, securing of personal firearms, and having only collateral in their lives that they themselves will use productively, responsibly, effectively, and accurately.

What makes the most sense to me is that those fearful individuals first obtain a major dose of common freakin’ sense.

There is an entire school of Constitutional thought that challenges the notion that the “Right to bear arms” means the right to simply own or hold a gun. The actual 2nd Amendment actually says:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

That suggests – as indeed, many legal documents of the time also suggest – that “bear arms” suggests the ability of the people to form militias for the defense of the Republic. Not the right to just own any gun, anywhere.

Again, I’m just not a big fan of gun control in general. But a few common sense controls seem like a pretty good idea to me.

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