The Exasperating Gun Control Debate
by Rand Lennox
Recent school shootings have again reignited the gun control debate.
With The Debate occurring so often, one would think that participants would move their arguments away from emotion and toward fact. But they do not.
Effective debating demands a thorough knowledge of both sides of an issue. Nonetheless, gun control debaters persist in their ignorance of firearms and firearms law basics, with the most passionate often remaining the most ignorant.
For example, after decades of assault rifle vilification, anti-gunners finally learned that what they wanted to ban were not really assault rifles. So they invented the term “assault-type rifle” (say: “not–assault rifle.”) Those anti gunners who researched the topic learned that assault rifles have been strictly regulated since 1934. It is no wonder that the expired assault weapons ban was ineffective; it was formed around an inaccurate premise.
The anti's finally learned to differentiate automatic from semi-automatic weapons, and, of course, redefined the demon to be semi-automatic weapons, again proposing restrictions, again with minimal understanding. An ineffective result is again entirely predictable.
Pro-gunners are equally culpable. Bill O'Reilly, from his bully pulpit claiming moderate gun control views, continues bloviating about peoples' right to own ordinary rifles but demanding that "heavy weapons, such as AR’s" be registered and regulated. In fact, the AR, is a light infantry weapon. Despite having a full research staff, O'Reilly remains ignorant, continuing to make self-contradictory statements about controlling "heavy weapons such as the AR."
A little study by both sides of the debate could yield an understanding of that which they would control; nonetheless both sides persistently rely on emotion instead of information.
Except for one notable organization: The NRA.
The media maligned NRA, is accused of buying politicians and yielding too much lobbying strength. However, many politicians state privately that the NRA has so much strength because it one of the few lobbying organizations that consistently brings facts instead of emotions to the argument.
For example, "Cop Killer Bullet" hysteria occurred in the 1980's when the media became aware that Teflon coated handgun bullets could penetrate police officers' protective vests. Despite no officer ever having been killed by Teflon bullets penetrating his vest, media coined "Cop Killer Bullets," demanding legislation banning all ammunition that could penetrate police vests. Politicians responded dutifully. The NRA opposed the legislation.
A major media frenzy emerged with headlines saying NRA thugs wanted to arm criminals with Cop Killer Bullets and make them able to mow down police. The NRA was thoroughly maligned.
The NRA responded with facts: police vests were designed to protect only against handgun ammunition and that almost any rifle ammunition would penetrate them. The legislation as written would have outlawed virtually all rifle ammunition. The NRA worked with legislators on revised legislation addressing the real issue and supported it. The bill passed; armor piercing handgun ammunition remains banned to the public today. The term "Cop Killer Bullets" was a media creation developed to stir public emotions. Does the term "semi-automatic assault weapon" ring a bell?
NRA bashers seemingly form their opinions on media hype. Yet, actual NRA positions are readily available for research and legitimate criticism.
Facts prevailing over emotion yields good legislation.
Best discussed together, are the "need for such weapons" and the "if just one life would be saved..." arguments. All are free to hold their own opinions on both subjects, but certain perspectives should be considered.
Do Americans "need" cars that achieve 100 mph, or sky diving, or NASCAR racing, or air shows? How many pairs of shoes, colors of lipstick, sets of golf clubs and televisions does one "need?"
Is "need" valid criteria for possession in a free society?
People will continue to die in 100 mph crashes, at NASCAR race accidents, while sky diving and by planes crashing at air shows. Children drown in swimming pools. Is the media demanding banning any of them?
In fact, societies place arbitrary values on human life every day. Thousands of Americans died to save Europe in WWII. People die protecting other’s lives every year. Whose life is worth more?
Whether something is "worth one human life" is a complex question, but it is clearly not a rhetorical one, nor can it be an endpoint to gun control debates.
People arguing a proposition without understanding its basic facts move their opinions from credible to emotional and conjecture.
Anyone desiring a legitimate voice in the gun control debate must come armed with facts and check his emotions at the door.