The importance of civil discussion

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Kenneth Pancake

Recently, a student organization (of which I serve as chairman) took a few of its members and set up a table on campus. It was the sign on the front that sparked discussion from passersby for nearly six hours: “PRO-GUN: Change Our Minds!”

Unfortunately, civil discourse is not as valued as it once was in the U.S. Some students are so afraid of the vitriol in politics that they appear unwilling to listen to an opposing view, making matters worse. In the spirit of civil discussion, I offer this non-traditional piece, where I provide the most frequent arguments given to me in support of gun control, and I address them, as a pro-gun conservative.

“Guns are the problem.” A gun is just a tool; the real problem is the person using it. Guns are used 80 times more often to protect a life than to take one. People with an intent to kill will use bombs (Manchester), knives (common occurrence in China), acid, cars, anything… the list goes on.

“More guns equal more crime.” The United Nations and a recent Harvard research study would disagree. The nine European countries with the lowest gun ownership have a murder rate that triples that same rate from the nine with the highest gun ownership. While America has the highest gun ownership rate, it sits at 108th in the world for intentional firearm homicides per capita.

“I don’t buy into the ‘good guy with a gun’ idea. What about the Fort Hood and D.C. Navy Pier shootings?” The idea of a good guy with a gun is simple: the only way to defeat a bad guy with a gun is to confront him or her with a good guy, who also has a gun. In both named instances (on military installations), the shootings began his rampage in areas where firearms possession was prohibited. The premise that ‘if it’s a military base, everyone must have a gun’ is a faulty one. The Washington Post reported after the fact that Fort Hood weapons carriers, per policy, must leave their weapons in one ‘arms room’ – after seeking approval from their commanding officer.

“Of course gun control will work – look at Britain.” There is a common misconception that Great Britain’s gun control policies reduce violent crime. The UK is actually the most violent country in the European Union, according to the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. There are roughly four times more violent crimes per capita in Great Britain than the U.S. After the handgun ban of 1997, violent crimes increased by 77 percent. Criminals have learned to simply seek out other weapons of choice.

“The Second Amendment was written when there were only muskets. You don’t need AR-15s to hunt.” The Second Amendment wasn’t written so that we could hunt, it was written so that we could defend ourselves against a tyrannical government. The inspiration for that right was the very tyrannical England in 1776 (see the Declaration of Independence). The First Amendment, on the other hand, was written before Twitter and blogging, or even television; yet no one reasonably seeks ‘hate speech control’ and suggests banning those sites. Finally, while someone may not “need” an AR-15, there is an important side note: the first ten amendments are called the “Bill of Rights,” not the bill of ‘needs.’

“We wouldn’t stand a chance against a tyrannical government anyway!” The Revolutionary War was an example of an oppressed underdog facing a military giant. Fortunately, we’re all here to tell the tale. Also, increased gun ownership is a good deterrent against a government who could want to abuse your rights, in fear of an uprising or retribution.

“The NRA is responsible in part for these mass shootings.” This was addressed comprehensively in an article last week, entitled, “It’s Time to Stop Shaming the NRA.”

“You don’t care about dead children!” While this argument is not often seen face to face, it (or a variant) has been used often, such as on CNN’s Town Hall on Feb. 21. Ad Hominem attacks do not make good civil discussion, and claims such as these usually come with no evidence.

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