So…my original plan was not to even touch the pro-gun/gun-control debate. This plan was formed not so much because I don’t have thoughts, but rather because I largely see the whole debate as less of a debate and more of two incongruous groups of people loudly spouting often unrelated arguments to a fan-base of their peers. Which is to say that mostly, it’s not a debate at all. It’s hardly even a decent conversation.
What changed my mind was this video. It is one of many videos that I have seen posted by pro-gun advocates attempting to bear witness to their part in the debate. From the start of the video onward, however, no more than lip service is paid to the idea of actual debate. Here were some thoughts I recorded immediately after watching.
1. Just because this girl received/is going to receive a scholarship for her shooting prowess doesn’t imply shooting is a good thing. When I was applying for college, I applied for a ‘tall person scholarship’, though I’d like to believe that that passed neither positive nor negative judgment upon tall people world-wide (perhaps this is why I didn’t get that scholarship(?)!). Further, odds are even if there were a ban on certain grades of assault weapons, or gun control measures such as background checks, that still wouldn’t stop the NRA or other similar organisations from recognizing excellence in gun accuracy/use with non-assault weapons.
-Further still, there are many quite skilled people who get passed up for scholarships each year, and no one says (all that seriously) that they were robbed of anything or had otherwise deserved it. At the end of the day, aside from academic-merit and need-based scholarships, scholarship money is awarded to those that appeal to donor groups, and there is no legal requirement that these donors give fairly or in accordance with any external schema of giving only to those that are ‘deserving.’
2. It is wrong to compare Chicago and Afghanistan without qualifiers (in the first place), and certainly wrong when using incorrect numbers (both by excluding Afghani death-counts and [possibly more pertinent] by focusing on absolute numbers of deaths rather than deaths relative to total population [as well as taking into account the number within the population with guns]).
3. This girl functions as a talking head for several NRA sound-bites (found nearly *anywhere* one might look for pro-gun arguments), but the fact that she is a 15 y/o matters both in the sense of deniability (“oh, well of course we didn’t mean it exactly that way, after all, she’s only 15” when someone calls her out) and as a safeguard against criticism from liberals (“how could you, as a progressive type, possibly discredit someone based on age…shame on you!”). In essence, she is presented as a strawman inviting ad hominem attacks that can then be countered by shaming you for picking on/not caring about/belittling etc. a 15 y/o girl while diverting the argument from the logical discourse that could/should be happening.
4. The serial stabbing that happened in China on the same day as Sandy Hook left 22 students and one staff member *wounded*. Sandy Hook left 20 students, 6 staff members, 1 mother, and one gunman *dead*. Both are atrocious, but they are also quite incomparable!
5. Her mention of ‘liberating American citizens of our Constitutional Rights’ appears to refer to the ‘right to bear arms’ as interpreted by those suggesting the need to be able to use those arms against an oppressive government. The (excellent) myth debunking article and info-graphic with point number 1 here seem pertinent to her (and other’s concerned about losing their 2nd amendment right’s) fears.
6. Unregistered weapons in Chicago (from a time when registration was less strictly enforced) don’t prove that registration (if more strictly required and enforced) won’t do anything. In other words, the fact that rule breakers exist does not mean we should stop making rules. If anything in this case, it suggests we need to ramp up enforcement of those rules.
7. Based on how she argues it, it would appear that the only rights “We the People” actually have in the Constitution are contained in the 2nd Amendment. Interpret that amendment differently than some conspiracy theory small-gov/no-gov-interference fanatics, and we’ll have taken away *all* our rights!
First off, it should be noted that none of these thoughts attempt to posit a view for or against gun control. Rather they are only meant to point out logical traps, errors, and mis-directions found in the above-linked video.
Secondly, I wish to remind us that all this analysis came from trying to examine a video. A 3 minute video of a speech not very unlike *many* other short persuasive videos claiming to contribute to one discussion or another. A lot of talking-points can be expressed in 3 minutes. But in order for this to continue (start) being a rational conversation/debate, we need more than good talking-points. We need transparency, logic, and a desire to actually communicate with *all* actors in the conversation. Further, if we are being honest with ourselves and not just vainly shouting our views into a void, we should be willing to adapt our views when we encounter clear, logically superior arguments that are still consistent with our world-view.
Thus, I will leave this review, not as a point of condemnation or praise for a specific side/argument, but as a semi-critical review of our overall failure to actually converse on the matter of guns. While I have learned not to have too high of hopes in matters like this, it remains a sincere desire that my posts and those of others like me will encourage conversation (whether here in the form of comments, through sharing with others, drawing traffic through likes, or possibly most usefully by providing a starting point for discussions with real people in the real world about the subjects as they effect us and what concrete measures can and should be taken in our local and national policy).