Comment Of The Day: Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org [#1]

Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org:

I have largely been silent on the issue this time around. I have seen nothing that contributes to the debate and thought I had nothing to add since the Vegas incident. Mostly, if someone asks, I just refer them to my earlier points on why banning bump stocks and strengthening the Brady Law  not will not change anything.  However, it seems today my more liberal and conservative friends have been posting quite a bit on the subject and I thought now might be a good time to tackle the issue again by looking at problems on both sides and finding a solution.

First, let’s start with some of the conservative talking points.

  • “If someone is determined to hurt people and commit a felony, what’s to say that they won’t break a law to get their hands on a gun to do it?”

This may be true, but it is doesn’t move the dialogue forward and is often used deceptively. It is basically saying that since criminals don’t obey laws, anyway, why have a law? By this logic, we could apply the following to Trump’s desire to build a wall. Walls have not proven to be effective in stopping people wanting to come in, so why build a wall? I don’t understand why conservatives who use this logic don’t apply it elsewhere. Laws are largely there as deterrents. People will not do something because it is against the law regardless of how pointless they see it (I guess this is why I always get stuck behind that Kia doing 65 on the interstate). A psychologist found that most of the population is motivated to do things by one of two factors: sympathy and empathy. or law and order (I think this sums up the current gun debate).

Second,

  • “Cars kill more people than guns do, yet we don’t ban cars.”

This is a strawman argument, and not even good one. Cars are highly regulated, require an age limit, require a permit of sorts, a registration, require training and safety ((things the left claim to want for guns) and are designed for transportation, not to kill. They can and have been used to kill people, but that is not their primary purpose. In fact, it is a gross misuse of their purpose. The argument falls further apart because while you have a right to a gun, you do not have a right to own a car. The government could decide to remove all cars (for whatever reason); this is an apples to oranges comparison.

Third,

  • Arm teachers; that will fix the problem.”

Well, maybe— we’re not really sure. Recent evidence has shown that a good guy with a gun can quickly stop a bad guy with one in a school. The sample size is too small to draw any broad-based conclusions. However, teachers’ primary responsibility is to teach. We put hundreds of hours into training military and police personnel to make sure they are properly trained to deal with these situations, to identity, de-escalate, and protect, not to mention constant training, upkeep, and psychological evaluation. So the solution is to let a gun carrying amateur take over the job of a police officer because they are willing? I’m not sure I’m ready for my kid to be in that school. The armed teacher might be  Rambo, and a great protector, but I would much rather they stick to their real job, which is hard enough.

Now let’s look at some of the liberal points.

  • The NRA is a terrorist group” or “the NRA has blood on its hands”

I’ve seen a lot of this in various forms today and has made me cringe each time. The NRA, like the ACLU, is an advocacy group. Like the ACLU, they have often taken an extreme position for their cause. They have no more blood on their hands than I do (well, maybe they do). To make these claims about dedicated rights advocates shows that a critic knows nothing about NRA, advocacy, the Second Amendment, or how to debate credibly.

Second,

  • “Countries like Japan and Australia have proven gun control works.”

There is a lot of debate regarding whether gun control actually does work in Australia, but that is besides the point. Japan only proves that gun control works for Japan. Brazil proves gun control doesn’t work for Brazil. Both countries are radically different from the United States, and as such make these apples or oranges (in the case of Japan apples to steak) comparisons as well.  Never mind that countries like Japan are highly focused on collective mentality where the USA is an individualistic society: there are so many material differences between the two countries that it would be impossible say, let alone prove, that the U.S.could have similar results (and this is before you even get into the mess of completely reworking our current laws).

So what can we do to fix the problem? As I already mentioned, the Brady Law expansion and the bump stock ban would do nothing to fix the problem. Outside of banning guns, other measures have been discussed. I know some Senators, such as Diane Feinstein. have proposed using the No Fly list as a way to stop gun purchasers who might be potential law-breakers.  But here you run into other problems such as false positives, lack of due process, or as the ACLU put it, a measure that ” does not provide meaningful notice of the reasons our clients are blacklisted, the basis for those reasons, and a hearing before a neutral decision-maker.”

I would really like to hammer the issue with using breaches of due process as route to solving the gun control problem. It seems like more and more of society is moving away from “the right to a fair trial” and “innocent until proven guilty” for  quick and easy solutions. I can only see this resulting in more “Dear Colleague” letters, kangaroo courts, and witch trials. When have these kinds of methods ever turned out positively?

So what can we do?  I have three things to suggest to at least move the dialogue forward.

First, be willing to communicate, listen, and accept you might be wrong in your position. As Jack pointed out, emotion does not help an argument. Hurting people need time to grieve, not to be exploited. We do a lot of stupid things when we are hurt, angry, or upset. These are the best times to step away, not step forward. This conversation needs to happen, but we need the right people who are qualified to do it with civility, reason, power and restraint. This leads me to my second suggestion.

Stop giving people like David Hogg a platform. He adds nothing but anger, and only destroys dialogue. As with the the NFL protests, no one wants to listen to someone who has no idea what they are talking about. Being forced to listen to him and people like him convinces those on the other side of the issue that the objective is to harangue and annoy, not to persuade.

Third, we need be more diligent as a society. It is becoming a common thread that shooters were not stopped by law enforcement before the incident happened (See Fort Hood shooting, Charleston church shooting, Texas church shooting, 2014 Washington shooting, and the Parkland shooting). A NYT article listed all the f mass shootings in the last 15 years and showed multiple times where people were able to acquire the deadly weapon only because some form of law enforcement failed to do its  job. I hope this was because of the problems with due process, and not laziness, or “kicking it down the road.”

I doubt the  problem of mass shootings will never be fixed (please prove me wrong), at least not without removing the Second Amendment, and even then I doubt it. But some progress has be made and I want to do it the right way.  At the rate we are going the lines of communication between the two sides are going to stop entirely, and something even worse is going to happen.

 

15 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

15 responses to “Comment Of The Day: Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org [#1]

  1. “Cars kill more people than guns do, yet we don’t ban cars.”

    This seems like a very simplistic version of the conservative argument. The argument, as I see it, is more along the lines of: If the *real* concern is to save lives, even if that means taking away rights…if you *really* adhere to the phrase, ‘if it saves one life…’, then why focus on banning rifles? Why devote so much of a limited resource (congressional time and money) towards a problem that only takes a relatively few number of lives each year? If “saving lives” is the goal, regardless of the rights that must be trampled in order to do so, then why does the tool’s “designed purpose” matter? Doesn’t the phrase, “If it saves one life..” inherently imply that the right to life supersedes all else, including rationalizations of what a tool that takes away life is “designed” to do?

    You’re telling me that alcohol serves *such* a great purpose (like cars actually do), that its benefits outweigh the lives lost through drunk driving crashes? Why do people value their right to BEER more than they value HUMAN LIFE? I shouldn’t have to drive in fear every time I get behind the wheel, should I?

    Why allow a tool that gives people who use it responsibly, great pleasure, but is still not a necessary part of living, if that same tool simultaneously enables people who misuse it to easily take the lives of others?

    • I agree, Chris. The car/alcohol comparison is used to highlight the selective hysteria over gun-related deaths and the “if it saves one life” nonsense. The real divide is that anti-gun zealots refuse to acknowledge the value of guns to those who value them. That leads to the alcohol analogy: alcohol has minimal societal value even accepting the most positive view, and kills many more people than guns while doing lots of other damage besides. We regulate alcohol—it doesn’t help much. We tried to ban it, and that didn’t work.

    • Doesn’t the phrase, “If it saves one life..” inherently imply that the right to life supersedes all else, including rationalizations of what a tool that takes away life is “designed” to do?

      What can’t be justified by “if it saves one life”?

  2. To be clear, Im not actually making any of these arguments towards JP, but rather at a fictional person who makes the “If it saves one life…” argument.

    Though, I do believe that the “Cars kill more people than guns do, yet we don’t ban cars.” argument is a very watered down version of the actual conservative argument.

    • JP

      Your clarification is more valid than the comparison. My point addresses the lack of rational thought being employed by the conservative side.

      • I know you address the lack of rational thought on the conservative side. My point is, is that “Cars kills people” is not a point that I ever really hear conservatives make; cars are a necessary part of life, and in theory, guns are not.

        However, comparing alcohol (mixed with the use of cars) to guns, *is* an argument I hear conservatives use, because alcohol is much more of a non-necessary luxury..or, as Jack put it “alcohol has minimal societal value”.

        My point is, is that some conservatives can and do make irrational points with regards to gun control. I dont think this is one of them, if the goal (as stated by the anti-gun side) is to simply save lives.

        • Chris

          I’ve seen lots of conservatives make the car comparison; I’ve never once heard the alcohol comparison until just now.

          You’re right that it’s a better comparison, though.

  3. JP

    Thank you for the honors Jack and thank you for fixing it up.

  4. crella

    In Japan, the average citizen was never allowed to be armed. Only the soldier class and nobility were armed. When Japan disarmed the upper classes in the Meiji Era, it was about 8% of the population max, and a group that was likely to obey government edict. It isn’t at all comparable with trying to take guns away now, at the present level of gun ownership in the US, in a nation that has always allowed its citizens to be armed. Japan really isn’t a template for gun laws for the US, with weapons for the average citizen banned before they’d ever had any…

  5. As with the the NFL protests, no one wants to listen to someone who has no idea what they are talking about.

    Nobody seems to be taking a knee anymore.

  6. Chris

    Excellent comment, JP. I appreciate that you skewered bad arguments on both sides.

  7. “If someone is determined to hurt people and commit a felony, what’s to say that they won’t break a law to get their hands on a gun to do it?”

    This may be true, but it is doesn’t move the dialogue forward and is often used deceptively. It is basically saying that since criminals don’t obey laws, anyway, why have a law? By this logic, we could apply the following to Trump’s desire to build a wall. Walls have not proven to be effective in stopping people wanting to come in, so why build a wall? I don’t understand why conservatives who use this logic don’t apply it elsewhere. Laws are largely there as deterrents.”

    I don’t think I’ve heard this.

    I’ve heard: if someone wants to kill someone, they’ll find a way to do it, gun or not. Or if someone wants a gun, a law isn’t going to stop them.

    Yes, there will be people who will break laws regardless of whether or not they are laws, and yes there will be people who would otherwise engage in conduct that is currently illegal but won’t because of the Law.

    But when we make the argument I mentioned, it is not analogous to any other law, because gun ownership is tied to a fundamental right. Making ownership of firearms illegal must be justified in light of infringing on Man’s most basic right.

    I don’t have a right to take someone else’s life, which is why there’s NO buzz over making homicide illegal.

    I don’t have the right to someone else’s car, which is why there’s NO protest over making theft illegal.

    I DO have the right to self defense, which as a community translates into grassroots defense of our liberties and security. Which is why there’s absolute protest against making firearm ownership illegal, in which case, yeah, if you are going to punish GOOD people (which is what you are doing by infringing on a right), you better prove that BAD people aren’t going to just do it anyway.

    And the gun-grabbers cannot.

    This is not a flawed argument.

  8. ““Arm teachers; that will fix the problem.””

    Never heard this one either.

    I do think I’ve heard “Permit teachers to be armed” because allowing good people to choose to have a gun to defend themselves is better than forbidding good people from having the means to defend themselves.

    Which is factors different from the rewording you use in your essay.

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