31 July 2012

The Gun Control Debate

It rears its ugly head again, in the wake of *James Holmes’ rampage in Aurora, Colorado:
In his broadest remarks on gun control yet in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, President Barack Obama called late Wednesday for tougher background checks designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

"A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals -- that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities," the president, who has called for reimposing the Assault Weapons Ban, said in a speech to the National Urban League.

"I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily," he said. "These steps shouldn't be controversial. They should be common sense."
Let’s play a game I like to call “Spot the Logical Fallacies.”

First fallacy:  Appeal to Authority.  It doesn’t matter if a lot of gun owners agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers.  Their consensus is not constitutional law, nor does it necessarily make for a functional policy.

Second fallacy:  False Dichotomy.  There are plenty of places other than a field of battle where guns might belong.  A hostage situation, for example, or a home robbery.  These aren’t fields of battle per se, but guns should surely be welcomed there for the purpose of self-defense.

Third fallacy:  Non Sequitur.  It does not follow logically that writing some words on the federal register that ban guns will make guns go away.  Murder, for example, is statutorily illegal, but that in and of itself does not preclude its occurrence.  In fact, that law is generally enforced, occasionally harshly, yet murders still occur.  Likewise, merely banning guns or assault rifles will not inherently prevent them from being used.

Fourth fallacy:  Appeal to Authority.  Again, it doesn’t matter if a majority of gun owners think it wise to preclude criminals from owning guns.  The viability of this proposal stands or falls on its own merits, not on the merits of its defenders.

Fifth fallacy:  Non Sequitur.  The assertion that mentally ill people shouldn’t be able to get their hands on assault weapons, even if granted, does not require the conclusion for stricter gun laws.  It could be the case that preventing the mentally ill from getting guns is as simple as reopening asylums for the insane.  There are likely other policies that can cause the desired outcome.

By now, it should be obvious that Obama is completely out of his league in this debate.  If this is the best the anti-gun crowd can muster (five logical fallacies is really the best they can do?), then I think it’s safe to say that it’s time to stick a fork in the anti-gun crowd.  Alternatively, the anti-gun crowd may want to consider getting a different apologist.

Nearly six months after Jeremy Atkinson was shot and killed by a Kroger store manager during an attempted robbery, his mother is seeking more than $75,000 in damages in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the supermarket chain.

The complaint filed July 13 in U.S. District Court argues that Kroger neglected to enforce its own policy that prohibits employees from carrying firearms while on duty. Experts are saying this could be a tough battle for the plaintiffs to win.

Not only do they have to establish that Kroger was negligent by failing to enforce its gun policy, Indianapolis attorney Drew Miroff said they also have to prove that that negligence — not Atkinson’s own actions — led to his death.
Basically, this woman’s complaint is that her son was shot while trying to rob Kroger’s.  Kroger’s, of course, should be held responsible for her son’s death, because how dare anyone try not to be robbed.  Basically, a criminal’s mother is complaining that someone resisted her criminal son’s attempted crime.  Make of this story what you will.

* Here’s a fun story on how there are a ton of women who find James Holmes attractive.  I wonder what can be inferred about women from this.


  1. 11,000 deaths by firearms per year. Compared to 455,000 deaths by tobacco per year. The anti-gun lobby should be made aware.

    I would not be surprised if 90% of those deaths are gang-related.

  2. @olivierb- of course, there is quite a bit of overlap between the anti-gun crowd and the anti-smoking crowd. And these people are the sort who argue that even one death is too many.

    Assuming that you are correct about gang-related deaths, maybe the more prudent thing would be to outlaw gangs. That way we don't have to worry about stabbings or bombings in addition to shootings.

  3. people in gangs shouldn't smoke. it's just too dangerous. it's like they don't even care about how they affect life insurance rates for the rest of us.

  4. We need to outlaw women who think murderers are cute.

    Or maybe just outlaw cuteness?

    I'm not sure. In any case, for heaven's sake we need to outlaw something.

    (Maybe just outlaw the practice of referring to Kalashnikovs generically as AK-47s. I mean, what is likelihood that he was carrying a weapon, in 2012, that was declared obsolete in 1959? I am a pedant; it is my nature; I cannot deny my nature.)