This page, the petition for gun control to “save our children” is what earns the “honor.” I see many Facebook friends, many on whom are genuinely gifted intellectually, surrendering to emotion and signing this junk, as junk it is. The petition neatly encapsulates the serial intellectual dishonestly, misleading rhetoric and appeal to emotion that we will see bloviated all over the National Mall this weekend: I guess that has some value for historical purposes. Otherwise, it is an engine of ignorance designed to either attract the ignorant, make the less ignorant more so, or deceive.
Let’s look at this mess, shall we?
In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now. Created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country, we will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.
Nobody is saying that “now is not the time to talk about guns.” Who has said that? The statement is straw man. Agreed: now is a good time to talk about anything: guns, pangolins, acne, cabbages and kings. We have a First Amendment as well as a Second, something those Other Civilized Nations that are always being extolled in the gun debate don’t have.
Created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country, we …
Not to be pedantic, but a serious petition should be written by someone who can speak the language. Signers are created by students? It’s bad enough that they are being led by students, who are after all, students. They do not know enough, either through knowledge or experience, to be seriously participating in a complex policy debate, much less leading it. “We, the undersigned adults who are duty-bound to be teaching and leading our rising generation, are allowing them to dictate to us.” Good plan. How can anyone sign such a petition and not hide their head under a bag?
…will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.
This is pure appeal to emotion rather than reality. The existence of the right to own guns no more “risks lives” than the existence of anything else that is dangerous when misused. There are 10.6 deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens due to guns according to latest statistics, including those of suicides and those killed by law enforcement. Three times that many die in alcohol-related automobile accidents. Nobody argues that we risk our lives because “someone” hasn’t taken “action” (aka, “do something,” “make it go away” “make us feel safe when nobody in a free society is ever safe”, aka. “ban and confiscate guns.”) regarding that risk we accept as part of living in a free society that includes jackasses, fools and criminals, and that’s just one of many.
There is no “epidemic” of school shootings. Students in school are safe; if they don’t feel safe, it’s because of fear -mongering from activists and the news media.
“We support the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution.”
No, you obviously don’t. This is a pure lie (or inexcusable stupidity.) A movement called “Never Again” is either lying in its title by implying that any public policy, laws or regulations will guarantee no more gun deaths, in schools or anywhere else, or it is telling us its real purpose in the name, while lying about the movement’s real intent.
Many, many, if not most mass shooters were “law-abiding” until they started shooting. This statement either endorses pre-crime measures, profiling citizens to decide if they are a risk to eventually abuse gun rights—unconstitutional—is magical thinking, or is, again, a lie. The statement—and while it is always a fine time to talk about guns, it is never a fine time to resuscitate this zombie tautology that the NRA has been knocking down for decades—is self-rebutting. Laws only affect law-abiding people, as long as they obey laws. Restrictive gun laws are violated by criminals, because they don’t obey laws. Nobody has ever explained how a law will not infringe “ the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms” while somehow keeping the same kinds of arms out of the hands of those who are not law-abiding. This is because it’s impossible.
“But with that right comes responsibility.”
As an ethicist, I object to a cynical use of the language of ethics to deceive, which is what this is. If the topic is responsibility, then we are talking about law-abiding citizens again, as well as ethical ones. They usually don’t use guns irresponsibly, or if they do (like killing themselves), such irresponsible use is not addressed by the measures proposed here. If I am a law-abiding citizen, I won’t be more likely to abuse my gun ownership whether I have had a background check or not. Irresponsible gun ownership includes not keeping guns where children—you know, citizens the age of the people “leading” those who sign the petition—can find them and hurt themselves and others. It includes not learning how to use a gun safely and appropriately. This petition isn’t about promoting responsible gun ownership. It’s about replacing the right to own guns responsibly with the right to own sling-shots.
We call on all the adults in Congress elected to represent us, to pass legislation that will protect and save children from gun violence.
There it is: “Think of the children!” A pure, unadulterated, inexcusable appeal to emotion over facts and reason.
Our elected officials MUST ACT by:
1. Passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Sandy Hook and, most recently, to kill 17 innocent people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.Of the 10 deadliest shootings over the last decade, seven involved the use of assault weapons.
Those weapons were not assault weapons. Semi-automatic weapons are not assault weapons, though the Congress in another one of its sloppy drafting exercises has called them so in the past. (But as Abe Lincoln so sagely pointed out, if you call a dog’s tail a leg, that doesn’t make it a leg.) An assault weapon is an automatic weapons, and these are banned, have been for a long time, are not protested by the Second Amendment, and are used only by criminals. A petition that includes misleading a factually false statements and terminology is telling us one of two things:
One: We are really passionate, but we don’t know what the hell we are talking about, or
Two: We’re lying to you so you will sign our petition.
It doesn’t matter which is at play: either one should disqualify a petition as legitimate. Lately, the news media and some of the dishonest anti-gun fanatics who are tired of being corrected have been using the term “assault-style” weapons. This literally means, though it is still deliberately misleading, that the semi-automatic weapons look like assault weapons. That is to say, they are scary.
No civilian should be able to access these weapons of war, which should be restricted for use by our military and law enforcement only. These guns have no other purpose than to fire as many bullets as possible and indiscriminately kill anything they are pointed at with terrifying speed.
False. FALSE. This describes automatic weapons, not the semi-automatic weapons that were used in the mass shootings named. Meanwhile. “weapons of war” is dishonest, and indeed ignorant rhetoric, as I explained here.
2. Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines such as the ones the shooter at our school—and so many other recent mass shootings used. States that ban high-capacity magazines have half as many shootings involving three or more victims as states that allow them. Limiting the number of bullets a gun can discharge at one time will at least force any shooter to stop and reload, giving children a chance to escape.
False. The Parkland shooter did not use magazines larger than 10 rounds. He had 150 rounds of ammunition in 10-round magazines. The consistent theme of all the angry accusations, declarations and “simple solutions” is that the measures being proposed have nothing to do with the shooting used as an excuse for reviving them.
3. Closing the loophole in our background check law that allows dangerous people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows.
Ask someone to explain what they think is the “gun show loophole”—they won’t be able to. There is no loophole in federal law that specifically exempts gun show transactions from any other laws normally applied to gun sales. Nicholas Cruz bought his gun legally, and not at a gun show. The Sandy Hook shooter’s guns were also bought legally, though not by him.
97 percent of Americans support closing the current loopholes in our background check system. When Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks on all handgun sales, they saw a 40 percent reduction in gun homicides. 22 percent of gun sales in this country take place without a background check. That’s millions of guns that could be falling into dangerous hands. A background check should be required on every gun sale, no exceptions.
- The “97 percent of Americans “have no clue what those “holes” are, and neither does the petition’s authors or its signers, Over 50% of the American would eliminate the First Amendment. We don’t have government by polls…and we saw in 2016 how reliable they are. Citing polls is cheap, and not an argument.
- That 40% figure, used prominently by Barack Obama, is a fake statistic, referring to a law that was passed before Sandy Hook, so it obviously wasn’t a measure that stopped Sandy Hook.
- Background checks area are fine, but they didn’t stop Parkland, or Vegas.
The children of this country can no longer go to school in fear that each day could be their last. Please sign our petition and demand a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.
Non-sequitur. None of the measures would have stopped the Parkland shooting. If they would eliminate student paranoia, then it would be through dishonesty: nothing much will have changed. Or those “comprehensive and effective” measures are not the ones this petition is really aimed at. Either way, the document is dishonest.
Meanwhile, smart friends, some of them lawyers, are putting their names on this digital primal scream, because it feel good, and they want to signal that they care. Shame on all of them. They are trained to insist on precision of language and thought. They are professionals whose duty to society is to prevent the kind of free-floating, loosely-reasoned rhetorical fog epitomized by this petition from doing damage to laws, rights and society. Instead they are writing about how they “support” the sentiment, because after all, children good, guns bad.
Cut it out. Be serious. Be an adult. If there are honest, strong, persuasive arguments to be made, make them. The fact that you are embracing the juvenile collection of half-truths and political talking-points indicates to me that you have no legitimate points to make, or have been, inexplicably, too lazy and irresponsible to develop them.