The latest tactic of the anti-gun Left is especially bizarre, but it nicely exposes the desperation and the essential dishonesty of the Parkland shooting extension of the Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck, which started its long journey of ethics carnage when gun control advocates decided to jettison fair and civil debate as well as any mooring to reality in exchange for demonizing, emotionalism, and hysteria.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post, gun-opponent Adam Weinstein accused pro-Second Amendment defenders and of bullying and deflection by what he called “gunsplaining.” The term was originally coined by Cosmopolitan four days before the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, though Cosmo’s version was that “gunsplaining” is just a sub-set of “mansplaining,” where men, the theory goes, inherently condescend to women by pointing out when they are wrong about anything. Weinstien’s version was a different, and even more foolish, a rationalization for ignorance:
“While debating the merits of various gun control proposals, Second Amendment enthusiasts often diminish, or outright dismiss their views if they use imprecise firearms terminology. Perhaps someone tweets about “assault-style” weapons, only to be told that there’s no such thing. Maybe they’re reprimanded that an AR-15 is neither an assault rifle nor “high-powered.” Or they say something about “machine guns” when they really mean semiautomatic rifles. Or they get sucked into an hours-long Facebook exchange over the difference between the terms clip and magazine.”
The Horror. In fact, what Weinstein is complaining about is that mean old gun-ownership supporters point out when a knee-jerk, emotion-filled gun control advocate obviously doesn’t know what he (or she!!!,Cosmo) doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about. Note the Post’s Eric Wemple, in the tweet above, calls this a “bad faith” tactic. It’s funny: pointing out that an opponent is full of malarkey has always been a valid debate tactic before, and for good reason. It means that that an advocate’s position is based on ignorance and laziness rather than sound research and facts. Why is this suddenly bad faith. “bullying” and below-the-belt tactics now?
The reason is that the anti-gun Left has bet all its chips on the power of children claiming moral authority to finally lead the anti-gun army to victory over the Second Amendment, and those children wield passion and anger but little else. Despite proclaiming themselves as “experts” on gun policy, as David Hogg recently did on Bill Maher’s “Real Time,” their expertise extends only as far as “Guns Bad!” Thus the “gunsplaining” dodge: who ever said you actually need to know what you’re talking about to be a respectable advocate?
Well, abortion defenders and feminists, to name one group, except when the topic is guns. Remember the ridicule justly heaped on Todd Akin, the idiot Republican candidate for U.S. Senator in Missouri, who told a local Missouri radio station in an interview that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy? Akin was discredited, mocked, and rejected by all sides of the issue. In the gun deabte, however, pointing out that a vocal advocate is flying on hot air is unfair. Writes David Harsanyi regarding the casual ignorance of the anti-gun spokespersons, young and old,
How dare Second Amendment advocates expect that those passionately arguing to limit their constitutional rights have some rudimentary knowledge of the devices they want to ban? To point out the constant glaring technical and policy “faux pas” of gun controllers is to engage in “gunsplaining,” a bad-faith argument akin to intimidation.
“If you don’t know what the ‘AR’ in AR-15 stands for, you don’t get to talk,” explains the sarcastic subhead on the piece. If you don’t know what the “AR” in AR-15 stands for, you still get to talk. But if you want to ban or confiscate AR-15s and you haven’t taken the time to learn what the “AR” stands for, then gun owners have every right to call you out.
Not just the right, but the obligation. We are not talking about “gotcha!” debate points, where using general rather than technical parlance is asserted as a material gaffe. “Failing to understand the distinction between a semi-automatic and automatic weapon tells us you’re dishonest, unserious or unprepared for the debate,” as Harsanyi says, and as I say, the public needs to be told when they are being misled. Heaven knows the news media won’t tell them.
At Reason, Christian Britschgi has another cogent justification for “gunsplaining” besides the shocking assertion that half-baked and ignorant arguments shouldn’t prevail
But sloppy language doesn’t just turn up in Facebook debates. It exercises a heavy influence on actual gun control proposals. In that context, pushing back on sloppy terminology isn’t just legitimate; it’s essential to the wider debate about gun ownership.
Take the 1994 assault weapons ban—the last major federal gun control measure, which banned all manner of weaponry because of their style, not their lethality. Modern-day opponents of gun control probably wouldn’t spend so much time railing against invocations of “assault weapons” if such a hazy term were not currently being used as the basis for state and federal legislation.
More recently, there’s the bump stock ban introduced by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R–Fla.) and Seth Moulton (D– Mass.) after the Las Vegas massacre of October 2017. Their bill was written so hastily, and so vaguely, that it not only retroactively criminalized the possession of bump stocks; it banned “any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle”—which could include anything from binary triggers to heavier recoil springs.
Something similar happened after the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012, when the New York state legislature passed a bill banning non-existent “muzzle breaks” (as opposed to muzzle brakes), semiautomatic pistols that are “semiautomatic version[s] of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm” (it was unclear what this was supposed to mean), and loading more than seven rounds in a ten-round capacity magazine. These provisions were later struck down by a U.S. District Court Judge for their incoherence. The difference between “brakes” and “breaks” may be a mere typo on Facebook; in legislation, it’s enough to undo a segment of a law.
Yup. Ignorance Bad. Laziness Bad. Guns not bad, but if you are going to make the case that they are, opponents insisting that you avoid misleading terminology and can demonstrate that you are supported by knowledge rather than outrage alone should force you to sharpen your case, if it can be sharpened. If you bristle at that, its clear that you want to frighten and deceive, not convince. Harsanyi:
In a debate imbued with emotion, gun control advocates rely on this ignorance. When then-President Barack Obama told a crowd that a mass shooter used a “fully automatic weapon,” he wasn’t concerned with the finest taxonomic distinctions of a gun; he was depending on the yawning obliviousness of a cheering crowd. When CNN featured an alleged gun expert explaining that the AR-15 he was about to fire was “full semi-automatic,” he was making the functionality of the firearm sound scarier to those who are ignorant about guns…When you claim that the streets are rife with “high-capacity, rapid-fire magazines” or “jumbo clips,” you’re trying to fool your audience with a veneer of expertise. When you claim that we need to ban “gas-assisted receiver firearms,” you’re trying to make a semi-automatic weapon sound like a machine gun for a reason….All these people use a moralistic fallacy, which is often predicated on the ignorance Weinstein rationalizes.
The gunsplaining dodge is built on a massive foundation of rationalizations, 19, to be precise:
1 The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”
8. The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”)
10. The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
13A The Road To Hell, or “I meant well” (“I didn’t mean any harm!”)
19.The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
33. The Management Shrug: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”.
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
48. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”
50. The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”
50A Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”
55. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”
57. The Universal Trump, or “Think of the children!”
57A The Utilitarian Cheat or “If it saves just one life”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”
63. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”
This is what the current anti-gun campaign has sunk to: using rationalizations to defend ignorance. But when the current push fails, it will all be the NRA’s fault.