NRA: Let’s compare apples to oranges and hope no one notices.

This was was updated to clarify an argument. 

A Straw Man Sighting.

There’s an epidemic in this country. No, not the flu, but a disease that cripples its victims’ abilities to make fallacy free arguments. This disease has hit the American people hard of late. Since the tragic Newton massacre, no one has been safe from this disease. Pundits, politicians, lobby groups, and impromptu watercooler discussion groups have fallen like flies. Really this affliction has affected any national debate for what seems like the entire existence of politics. Abortion, gun control, gay marriage – you name it and the major arguments are based not on fact but on a host of frail, one dimensional foundations.

“If you support gay marriage then you must be gay.”
“If you support gun rights then you must be a crazy stockpiling militiaman.”
“If the Jews had had machine guns, Hitler never would have come to power.”

And now:

The NRA has fallen to the classic fallacy – comparing apples to oranges – in a shameless 30 second video where it asks loudly “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” And then, assuming the answer to be an immediate red-necked “AW HELL NO”, it continues on to question why the President is against armed security in schools when his children are protected by tax-payer funded secret service.

(If the video does not work click here).

Let’s rewind that for a second. Is the President of the United State’s family more important than my own? Maybe not, but are they in more inherent danger than my family every single day that he’s in office? Let me hear a HELL YES! The President is a very public target on a huge spectrum of dangerous threats from terrorists to whack jobs trying to impress their favorite actress.

In response to being called cowardly by the White House an NRA spokesman said, “Whoever thinks the ad is about [President] Obama’s daughters are missing the point completely or they’re trying to change the subject.”

Apple: The President and his family are highly likely to be the target of a specific attack. Government intelligence does its best to stomp on that potential, but cracks are always slipped through.

Orange: The American populace, including our children, is highly unlikely to come under a specific attack. Again, government intelligence does its best to weed out the mass attacks but it’s the scary truth that we are vulnerable. Weapons are easy to get; Unlikely targets (libraries, grocery stores, your cul-de-sac) are unguarded sitting ducks. I am not going to feel safer if there is an armed gunman on every corner in this country. Guns can only stop a physical threat. Stronger mental health nets, better school programs (art and music classes, more efficient administrations, less crowded classrooms), and gun safety campaigns will do more to prevent the disenfranchised from becoming threats to our society than any gun toting, hall prowling guard has the chance to.

The US Government wastes an insane amount of money on lost causes. 

I find it perfectly reasonable that the President has armed security for his family (and I didn’t hear the NRA complaining about it when Bush was in the White House). I do not find it reasonable that by arming teachers we are making our schools safer. These meta-physical wars – on drugs, on terrorism, on the slim chance that you’ll be shot by a crazy gunman rather than killed in a car crash – will never be won with armed response. We may spend billions of dollars on drug raids, we may kill Bin Laden, we may put armed guards in schools, but for every head you cut off another will grow in its place and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

As the pen is mightier than the sword, the only long term solutions will come from well educated, well thought out, and efficiently carried out responses. As the Daily Show’s John Stewart correctly points out, we did not dramatically decrease drunk driving by outlawing alcohol. We enacted serious campaigns to educate the public about drunk driving and enforced severe repercussions for offenders. How do we combat teenage parenthood and STDs? Widespread public sex-ed campaigns and easy access information and protection (some places are still working on the easy access part, but you get the idea).

So what will it take for our politicians and lobbyists to shut up, take a step back, and realize that the death penalty is expensive; wars are expensive; fighting terrorist mindsets with guns is not only idiotic but playing into their delusions; keeping abortion legal is good for society. Need I go on?!

The White House published a 23 item Gun Violence Reduction to-do list today. Many of the points directly tackle mental health background checks. Notably point 7: Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

I’m not a gun enthusiast, so I’m not going to squeal indignantly if the government decides to go ahead and outlaw semi-automatic guns for the public market outright. But I hope that we put the most effort into efforts like item 7. I would rather spend $4 billion dollars on a campaign like this than in putting more guns willingly in our schools.

Like I said, I’m a big believer in logic beating brawn every time. Our fabled heroes made a habit out of it.

4 thoughts on “NRA: Let’s compare apples to oranges and hope no one notices.

  1. I’m a gun owner and I agree with you on most of your points. In fact, almost all of the 23 executive orders are things that most gun owners agree on. I take arguments from both sides of the debate with a grain of salt. Each of them have an agenda. People with an agenda will try to persuade you and sometimes it’s best to look at the facts and make up your own mind.

    There is one point that I think you missed the mark on. The quote below tells me that you don’t understand the difference between semi-automatic (on round per trigger pull) and full-automatic (hold down the trigger and fire rounds repeatedly until you release the trigger). The latter is also known as a machine gun. Very few of those exist in the U.S. I fear that you might have some misguided support for the assault weapons ban.

    Here’s the quote:
    “I’m not going to squeal indignantly if the government decides to go ahead and outlaw machine guns for the public market outright.”

    Machine guns have been heavily controlled since 1934 (tax stamp, very rigorous background check, local law enforcement sign off, and very long waiting period while the ATF works to approve you.) Their importation and manufacture has been outright banned since 1986. Any machine guns that were “grandfathered” are in private collections and their sale is extremely rare. You literally need about $20,000 to even start to think about getting a decent one and you better have a squeaky clean record. You can’t cross state lines with one without ATF approval (which takes 4 to 6 months). If you carry them to the range you have to keep some paperwork on you so you don’t get in trouble with local law enforcement. You have to be real good with legal paperwork to pass them to your heirs. If you don’t get the paperwork right your heirs must surrender your machine gun to the ATF for disposal when you die. Obviously, they have dwindled over the years.

    Today’s assault weapons ban isn’t about machine guns. Those are already covered. This is about an incremental step to take the already neutered versions of them away from us. If we let this happen, then they will likely come back in a few years and want to take something else away. Here’s the history: NFA of 1934, GCA of 1968, Hughes Amendment of the FOPA in 1986. Every 30 years or so it’s take a little more. Each generation concedes a little. We don’t know where it will end so we adamantly oppose further restriction.

    • Greg, you are correct. I have no solid knowledge of guns. Although I am no severe gun rights advocate, I would not call myself a supporter of wasting money on strict gun bans. I do not believe that gun bans will solve our problem. I still do not see the need for the American layman to own even one semi-automatic. Rent them for hunting, rent them for shooting ranges, but I see no reason to have them in a home.

      I am hopeful that the renewed vigor behind background checks will at least make it harder for an unstable person to purchase a gun. I am more hopeful however that awareness campaigns will be successful in educating people on how to safely use and STORE their guns (away from children away from children away from children).

      Thanks for your comment and pointing out my mistake!

  2. We all agree that keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and children is a priority. The fact is that despite the reality that there are millions of guns in this country, they rarely fall into the hands of children. This is because the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and keep them stored safely. More education will help keep these figures as low as possible.

    The need for semi-autos is a little more difficult to address. If you study firing under duress during home invasion you’ll probably find that it takes many more shots to neutralize the threat than you might expect. I think that the primary reason for this misconception is that the only time we really see this type of defensive scenario is on TV. The Hollywood version is not a good representation.

    In the real world it takes many shots and the bad guy usually still runs away. Take the example in the link below. This woman fired all 6 shots in her dual action revolver (which is semi-automatic by the way) at her assailant. She hit him 5 times and he still had enough energy to run out of the house and drive away from the scene. This is how it plays out in real life. Many shots per assailant is what it takes. She emptied her gun and had no more bullets. Fortunately he ran away. If this guy had an accomplice, she and her daughter could have been in serious trouble.

    The element of surprise and the victim’s adrenal reaction to imminent danger really puts them at a disadvantage. Having to mess with extra steps like reloading during the violent encounter is not very easy when you’re on the receiving end. A semi-auto with a sizable magazine is one of the few factors that can put the odds back into your favor. It doesn’t require you to worry about anything besides neutralizing the threat. Minimal reloading (which is really, really awkward under duress), and minimal chance for human error to cause the gun to stop operating.

    In short, there is no better defense gun than a good semi-auto and a sizable magazine. That’s why police carry them. They are on the front lines of violent encounters everyday and they arm themselves with the best gun for the job.

    I’m not trying to argue with you or even suggest that you’re wrong. I’m just trying to help you understand this issue from our point of view. Hopefully this is helpful.

    • No, I thank you for your comments!

      Guns may rarely end up in the hands of children, but they are often in the hands of people ill equipped to own let alone use a firearm. I’m not worried about responsible gun owners. But in my opinion for every responsible gun owner who wishes to use his firearm for legal protection or recreation, there are three other irresponsible people toting guns around and liable to create a no good situation.

      I am concerned with the people that react to a gun related tragedy like this by saying that more guns will prevent more violence. (Not at all saying this is your position). Yes certain people are in positions where guns are a necessary tool of protection (e.g. police) however I staunchly do not believe that placing guns in public places (schools, malls) is the right way to address these tragedies.

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