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How we must frame the debate about gun control

Discussion in 'Activism Discussion and Planning' started by GlockFan1954, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. GlockFan1954

    GlockFan1954 Well-Known Member

    I think we need to focus a lot on how we frame the discussion on gun control.

    Before you even worry about whether gun control would actually result in a net benefit to society, whether it's actually possible, whether it would only mean criminals have guns....put all that aside.

    When somebody expresses a desire or at least is open to banning all or certain classes of guns, you should immediately ask:

    "What about alcohol?"

    "What about cigarettes?"

    "What about automobiles?"

    Alcohol kills about 75k people per year, many in auto accidents but surprisingly many also in falls, etc. And the cost of alcohol doesn't end with accidents - people get violent, beat their wives, lose jobs, commit crimes, etc. all because of alcohol.
    Yet nobody is calling for prohibition again.
    Ask people why this is. Why do they reflexively freak out about guns, which kill many less people.

    Or how about cigarettes? Literally millions of people died from cigarettes in the last decade.

    What about automobile accidents? Why aren't there calls to reduce the national speed limit to 45 mph? When we reduced it to 55mph many less people died - it actually worked!

    The point of this framing is that it puts guns into perspective. Alcohol and cigarettes serve NO valuable social function, other than base pleasure. Guns at least have a function (hunting, defense), as well as pleasure from sport.

    You can grant them, for the sake of argument, that gun control would be both desirable and possible. Putting all that aside, there are much more serious issues we could devote our energy on. Yet very few anti-guns talk about alcohol. We need to start demonstrating the huge and irrational cognitive bias people have against guns....because they are "scary" and "foreign" to their mentality.

    The car analogy isn't as good to use because cars are part of everyday life and most people see the function they serve. But alcohol is a great contrast, because it conforms to the bias people have against guns: it serves absolutely no valid function, other than pleasure. And it causes many more deaths.
  2. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Well-Known Member

    I'll disagree.

    That concedes that we have no rights, only privileges and that at government whim any of these privileges is revocable if its "for our own good".

    The two pronged argument for guns is as follows:
    1) We have the God given and Constitutionally Reinforced RIGHT to keep and bear arms.
    2) An armed law abiding civilian population is more of a benefit than a liability.

    Any other arguments allow them to position themselves against our guns AND alcohol, cigarettes and automobiles.

    #1 is hard to argue because they don't agree, or don't care, but #2 is easy to win because the facts back up our side.

    Go here, download the book, print a copy out to carry with you and memorize as much as you can.
  3. JImbothefiveth

    JImbothefiveth Well-Known Member

    You're all ignoring a very important detail, while ciggarettes are harmful and do result in needless deaths (I'm not saying they should be banned), allowing guns generally reduces crime. Your argument makes it sound like allowing them does increase crime
  4. GlockFan1954

    GlockFan1954 Well-Known Member

    Let me clarify, based on these two responses.

    I agree that guns at worst keep the crime rate neutral, and do not increase crime (since no serious study has shown it increases it) and at best decreases crimes or at least shifts them to other areas because of the deterrent effect of an armed populace.

    The problem is that this is statistical/mathematical thinking and many people don't understand it (literally - many lay persons think of statistics as hocus pocus that can easily be manipulated) or don't want to take the time to understanding it.

    This framing CONCEDES to them (for the sake of argument - you should stipulate you're just conceding this for the sake of argument), and even if they are right that it would reduce crime, why don't they freak out about these worse problems? It exposes a mental bias. It frames the whole debate as one side is irrationally targeting at worst a minor public health problem and at best a deterrent to criminality, while the other side is saying there are much more serious public health concerns that are easily addressed. It's much easier for most people to understand than the statistical or rights-based arguments.
  5. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Well-Known Member

    Anyone not smart enough to understand some very basic stats (for example the FBI says 800-900 thousand gun crimes a year, but 1.5-2.5 MILLION self defensive uses of firearms each year) isn't worth arguing with.

    This is a basic fallacy of logic called a "Red Herring" (specifically a variation on the Red Herring Fallacy called Tu quoque), and anyone worth their salt is going to call you on it.

    Plus you set them up to crush you with "Well we were just talking about guns, but yes we should ban alcohol, cigarettes and make getting a drivers license significantly harder." You have nowhere to go from there.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  6. SpecialKalltheway

    SpecialKalltheway Well-Known Member

    my new way of arguing is to tell them that I support their right to want to ban all guns, but I do not support their methods. I tell them that what they re doing is unconstitutional and I won't stand for it. If they want to amend the Constitution so it says I don't have the right to own guns I wish them the best of luck, but to press for unconstitutional laws is wrong. If we can make laws that are unconstitutional about the 2A, then what's stopping laws being passed that got against any of the other Amendments?
  7. GlockFan1954

    GlockFan1954 Well-Known Member


    it's not a red herring rhetorical fallacy because it's used to demonstrate the very point we want to make - an irrational bias. I'm not suggesting using this as a distraction.

    And 99.9% of people who say "fine ban alcohol" are being intellectually dishonest because very few anti-gun people support that position.
  8. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Well-Known Member

    Anyone that says "fine ban alcohol" is an idiot not worth arguing with. But your argument is still a "Tu quoque" Red Herring and you will be called on it ... in general once one uses an obvious fallacy of logic they just lost and the debate is over.

    Thing is the facts back the "guns do more good than harm" position ... stick to those and you can't lose.
  9. SpecialKalltheway

    SpecialKalltheway Well-Known Member

    while your way might be the way to go with some people, I wouldn't call it or any set way the "how to" of debating gun control.

    You have to go at each person as an individual. You can't have a canned answer to sick on them once the conversation is started. I know many people that would refuse to discuss the issue if I choose to bring the examples of alcohol or cigarettes into the conversation. They'd say "we're not talking about alcohol or cigarettes, we are talking about guns." Which they are right we are. I will use those examples from time to time, but if they aren't working I don't accept defeat. There are many angles to go about this.
  10. GlockFan1954

    GlockFan1954 Well-Known Member


    not all uses of tu quoque are fallacious. Commonly, fallacious uses are in the form of a syllogism, like a modus ponens or modus tollens, which invalidly draws universal logical conclusions from the premises. So if I were to say "you say X is the case but you also believe Y which is incompatible therefore X is false" that would be fallacious - the conclusion simply does not follow from the premises, since it there is no logical reason why it couldn't be Y that is false rather than X.

    HOWEVER, there are perfectly legitimate uses of tu quoque* to make a point about the inconsistency of the speakers position, in order to say that "Since you take X as a given, this position Y that you advocate cannot logically be sound you must move on one of them." This argument would be in the form of a conditional: IF X is true, THEN Y cannot be true (X--->-Y). Since the speaker is taking Y as a given, he is logically bound to reject X, or else change his position on Y (Y ---> -X, by the law of contrapositive).

    *See, e.g. the wikipedia article on tu quoque (or any other rhetoric text).
  11. CPerdue

    CPerdue Well-Known Member

    While I appreciate the logical approach I'm afraid we are often dealing with emotional decision making. How do we reach someone operating from a few, incomplete or inaccurate, facts and a whole bucket load of angst? I've said before, we need an emotional approach. If we can get the feelings at least neutral then logic may have room to work.

    In the successes I've had, I first make friends then other issues come up as part of life. Maybe we have to do it this way, slowly but with heart. Still, I'd love some slick ad campaign that made a difference. I think some of Oleg's posters are probably the best tools I've seen but I don't carry a stack of them with me. Bottom line, a few melodramatic talking points might be good to have.
  12. Mikil

    Mikil Member

    Part of the problem I,ve found with anti,s is they associate guns with violence and believe by banning guns it will stop a lot of it. We know this isn,t true but getting them to see the truth is like butting your head on a rock. They don,t associate alcohol or cars with violence and use at least one of them themselves on a daily basis
  13. CPerdue

    CPerdue Well-Known Member

    Yes I've noticed that. Specifically, they see guns as designed only for negative violence. A first step seems to be engendering an understanding that there can be such a thing as positive violence (or threat thereof). Perhaps a shock to some superficial pacifism may be required, some sort of tear-jerking story along the lines of, "oh that poor person, if only they had the means to ..."

    Ironically I believe there are true pacifists who are not simply blissininnies, but you are not going to find one outside a monastery.
  14. TheProf

    TheProf Well-Known Member

    The best way to against gun control is to sway the other party EMOTIONALLY...not logically. Psychologists say that people make decisions with their emotions and then justify them with logic.

    So...how does one sway others emotionally... I usually approach the argument from a "how does 120 pound grandma defend herself from a 220 pound criminal that just broke in her house?"

    You wouldn't want her to be defenseless would you???
  15. cbrgator

    cbrgator Well-Known Member

    I have another suggestion as well. Change the word god-given to inherent/innate/intrinsic. Many of the very liberal folks are not religious, be it atheist or anything else. Telling someone like that its "god-given" hurts the credibility of the argument to them. Using the words inherent or intrinsic makes it sound better and they will be more likely to listen.
  16. Lou McGopher

    Lou McGopher Well-Known Member

    To reach someone emotionally, ask them what they think is the best way for their daughter/sister/mother/wife to defend herself from a couple of knife-wielding rapists, muggers, or burglars?

    And don't use "gun-wielding"... it's important to point out that violent crime is frequently committed with a weapon other than a gun. This avoids the retort that more gun control would prevent such attacks from happening.

    And I don't mean to portray women as weak, but it's true that women are more often the victims of men than men are of women, and it's true that the average man is physically stronger and larger than the average woman. (Don't use this argument if the person's daughter/wife/mother/sister is Joanie Laurer.)
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  17. MisterMike

    MisterMike Well-Known Member

    Hmmm. I'm not sure I agree with the OP. My belief is that when we start getting into the efficacy of gun control, arguing statistics, or debating the pros and cons, it becomes an unwinnable debate:

    -I say guns protect the law-abiding. You say guns kill innocent kids.
    -I say guns reduce violent crime. You say America's high rate of murder is directly attributable to people being shot with guns.
    -Etc., etc., etc.

    I think that by debating the efficacy of gun control, you have glossed over the fundamental reason why gun control measures should fail: they violate the Constitution, which, above all else, sought to limit the encroachment of government into what were viewed as the most basic and essential human rights.

    In my view, that's not only the correct argument; it also brings the debate back into the proper realm: Our nation's founders created what we believe to be the most nearly perfect expression of government. The most sacred of the rights that define freedom are found in the Bill of Rights. As a nation, we later determined those rights to be of such importance that we determined that the Consitution should be amended to prevent the states from encroaching on those rights. If you believe that all or some portion of the Bill of Rights is undesirable, then the proper way to address that is through constitutional amendment, not by hacking away at sacred document.
  18. Lou McGopher

    Lou McGopher Well-Known Member

    Too many people on both sides of the issue like to pick and choose what they support in the Constitution.
  19. AKElroy

    AKElroy Well-Known Member

    Arguing is a useless exercise; I do not see people often swayed by talking. Take them shooting. Exercise your rights. Live free, and let them know it. They either get it or they don't, and ultimately they are the ones who will need to do the persuading should they seek or support a limitation on our RKBA.
  20. thebaldguy

    thebaldguy Well-Known Member

    I love to tell gun banners that the police are under no obligation to protect you as an individual.

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