Monday, July 12, 2010

Intellectual Dishonesty In The Gun Control Debate
NYT Editorial Edition

Intellectual dishonesty in this debate is hardly even worth pointing out anymore. (Especially after the Mona Lisa of intellectual dishonesty, Diane Sawyer's nauseating/laughable/astonishing piece on 20/20, "If You Only Had A Gun")

But the NYT just can't resist.

The topic is Chicago's new handgun law, which prohibits more than one handgun in any house. Opponents of the law point out that this isn't a great law, noting that if, say, Smith's grandmother lives in a dangerous neighborhood and owns a gun to protect herself, then, if, say, granny receives some harassing phone calls, Smith can't take his own legal handgun and stay over at his grandma's house for a few nights to make sure things are o.k. The NYT editorial responds like so:

"Putting granny in the middle of a neighborhood firefight is preferable to having her simply call the police?"

This is a fairly good microcosm of the debate about guns.

The initial imagined scenario is a bit far-fetched, but not terribly so. The NYT's response is just plain stupid, and typical of anti-gun arguments (e.g. some of those repeated in the godawful 20/20 episode aforementioned).

Now hear this:

Owning a firearm does not mean you cannot call the police.

(Similar point re: the 20/20 episode: carrying a gun does not mean that you cannot also carry a cell phone, nor that you cannot run away from trouble if you so choose.)

The two strategies are not mutually exclusive. But take it from me, writing on the heels of our own dust-up with some local junior drug-dealers: the police won't do anything until criminal activity has already been initiated. Basically no matter how clear it is that trouble is brewing, the police won't act until it's happening. Having a firearm is a way to take care of yourself, your property, and other innocent people in the time between the onset of hostilities and the arrival of the police. This is not a complicated point, and my guess is that the only way to miss it is to be so committed to the anti-firearm side of the debate that you simply aren't thinking clearly nor honestly about the matter. The point is simply not complex enough to evade ten seconds of serious thought.

Here's my standard disclaimer: I'm not a gun nut. I think we need different--and in at least some ways stricter--gun laws in this country. I don't belong to the NRA, and am not arguing that firearms are an unmitigated good.

But legal firearm ownership really isn't the problem. And aggressively irrational arguments never help.


Blogger Myca said...

Yeah. Even as someone who's generally a lefty, I think it's a good thing that the firearms debate has mostly fallen by the wayside over the past decade or so.

Of course, you wouldn't know it to listen to the NRA, but ...


11:12 PM  

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