The ridiculously flawed argument: “The latest mass shooting would have happened even with background checks, so therefore anonymous, untrained, unlicensed people should still be allowed to buy unregistered deadly weapons.”
By David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)
I Thought I Had Dealt With All The Flawed Assault-Weapon Arguments
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Michael Corleone, Godfather III
I’ve been writing about gun issues for some time now and I thought I was done. My last (I thought) gun column was going to be The Reasons Why Assault Weapons Should Not Be Banned Or Restricted in which I set out and replied to the laundry list of arguments made by the supporters of anonymous, untrained, unlicensed, unregistered gun ownership.
Then they came up with another one: Prove To Me That Unlicensed Guns Owned By Untrained People Are Actually Dangerous
After responding to that nonsense idea I thought, “OK, I’m finally done with these silly gun-people arguments and I can get back to writing on other topics.”
Yet Another Silly Gun Argument
But no. Now the “all-guns, all the time” people have resurrected one of their favorite false theories in support of protecting anonymous, untrained, unlicensed, unregistered gun ownership, namely:
- “The latest mass shooting would have happened even if the guns’ owner had had to pass a background check, so therefore we should continue to allow anonymous, untrained, unlicensed people to buy unregistered deadly weapons without background checks.”
I’m sorry, but I can’t let that sort of sophistry pass without a few remarks.
This particular iteration of that stale argument was made in a May 21, 2018 column by Michael Graham on CBSNews.com titled: The Problem With Common-Sense Gun Laws.
Step One: Mischaracterize Your Opponents & Legitimize Your Supporters
The flaws in Mr. Graham’s argument begin in the first two sentences:
- “‘Okay, gun haters — now what?’ That’s the question many Second Amendment supporters are asking in the wake of the horrific shooting at Santa Fe High School.”
Demonize Your Opponent
First rule of debate: Demonize your opponent with a straw-man mischaracterization.
Following that strategy, Mr. Graham labels people who’ve proposed common-sense gun laws as “gun haters.”
If any untrained, unlicensed person could buy and drive an unregistered automobile and a group of citizens proposed a law that required potential drivers to take and pass a driving test, get a driver’s license and put license plates on their cars, you couldn’t fairly call those people “car haters.”
But Mr. Graham starts out labeling everyone who supports “common-sense gun laws” as “gun haters” in an attempt to demonize them as people who are unreasonable and irrational.
Here’s a flash: Lots of people who own guns, including me, want common-sense gun laws in the same way that common-sense people want common-sense vehicle laws, common-sense explosives laws, common-sense prescription drug laws, and lots of other common sense licensing and registration systems.
Legitimize Your Supporters
The second sly gimmick Mr. Graham employs in those first two sentences is to characterize the people on his side of the argument as “Second Amendment supporters.” Not people who support the sale of unregistered military-style deadly weapons to untrained, anonymous, unlicensed individuals including people who may be criminals, teenagers or mentally ill.
That doesn’t sound very responsible or reasonable does it? Of course, Mr. Graham didn’t want to do that. So instead he decided that the people on his side would sound much more reasonable and responsible if he characterized them simply as supporters of the Second Amendment.
The Pro-Assault Weapon People Don’t Actually Support The Purpose Of The Second Amendment
Of course, that skips over the fact that the Second Amendment was adopted specifically for the purpose of maintaining an armed, state-sponsored militia available as an alternative to an almost non-existent and certainly unwanted standing American army.
Madison’s sole reason for writing the Second Amendment was to ensure that Congress had access to an armed, on-call military force, in the words of Article I, Section 8, “… to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” [emphasis added]
It also skips over the fact that the National Defense Act of 1916
- turned all the Second Amendment’s “well-regulated militias” into the National Guard,
- made it illegal for any state to create a new militia,
- required that all guns used by these “well-regulated militias” could only be weapons furnished by the Federal government
- limited membership in the National Guard to only those people who qualified for membership in the United States Army
- forbid the members of the militia to use their own guns even though guaranteeing the existence of those militia guns was the sole purpose for which the Second Amendment was created in the first place.
Today, the real supporters of the Second Amendment are the members of the National Guard, not untrained people who want to anonymously own unregistered AR-15s.
The 2nd Amendment Was Not Adopted To Facilitate Armed Insurrection Against The Federal Government
The nonsense that the Second Amendment was adopted so that people would have guns to use in mounting an armed insurrection against an overreaching federal government instead of the actual purpose as set out in Article I, Section 8 to “suppress insurrections” is a lie invented and repeated today by anarchists of various flavors.
A Mass Killer’s Guns Being Bought By Someone Who Could Have Passed A Background Check Doesn’t Mean That Background Checks Are A Bad Idea
After Mr. Graham finished mischaracterizating people who support common-sense gun rules as “gun haters” and euphemistically calling supporters of untrained, potentially criminal and mentally ill people continuing to be able to anonymously buy unregistered military-style weapons “supporters of the Second Amendment” he made his central argument, namely, that none of the “common sense” gun laws would have stopped the Sante Fe, Texas massacre and therefore, we should not enact any of those common-sense gun laws in the first place.
Let’s examine that logic.
Let’s suppose that women in a particular state decided to mount a campaign for the enactment of a law requiring convicted rapists to be registered as sex offenders, something they called a common sense sex-crime-prevention policy.
A group of men who characterized themselves as supporters of the Constitution opposed requiring convicted rapists to be registered as sex offenders as in infringement on their right of privacy.
A serial rapist was caught and the men opposing the forced registration of rapists said, “See, that whole idea of making rapists register as sex offenders is stupid and wrong because even if there had been such a registry this particular rapist wouldn’t have been on that list anyway.”
The so-called logic takes the form of: “If Mr. Smith, a convicted felon, committed a murder with a knife, then it’s obviously a waste of time to prohibit felons from owning guns.”
Making Mr. Graham’s argument even more general: “If Mr. Smith committed a murder in spite of the law against homicide, then there’s no point in making murder illegal at all.”
The fact that a law doesn’t work perfectly every time to prevent a particular crime doesn’t support the conclusion that the law should not exist at all.
If Mr. Graham had made such an argument in his freshman Logic 101 exam, his teacher would have given him an “F.”
Someone Being Killed With A Pistol Doesn’t Mean Everyone Should Be Able To Buy A Machine Gun
Not content with making this flawed argument once, Mr. Graham doubles down on it when he argues that because handguns and shotguns are themselves deadly and can kill people, there is no point in banning assault weapons with large magazines.
His theory is that even if you ban assault weapons the bad people can just use a less powerful gun with a smaller magazine to massacre people anyway so you may as well let them have the assault weapon in the first place.
By that logic we should also allow people to buy fully automatic machine guns because if we ban them, the bad guys can just use a semi-automatic firearm which is almost as deadly.
And, if that logic is right, then if you can still make bombs with gun powder and iron pipes, there’s no reason we should prevent people from buying dynamite and hand grenades.
I repeat, Mr. Graham gets a big fat F on his Logic 101 final.
Actually, Common-Sense Gun Laws Might Have Prevented The Sante Fe, Texas Killings
But Mr. Graham’s argument is even more flawed than claiming that because this crime would not have been prevented by a set of “common-sense” gun laws that therefore common-sense gun laws should not be enacted at all.
Even if true with regard to this crime, that doesn’t mean that other shootings wouldn’t have been prevented by common-sense gun laws. Examples wouldn’t be difficult to find.
Beyond that, Mr. Graham is factually wrong when he claims that this crime certainly would not have been prevented by common-sense gun laws.
One of those common-sense gun laws is requiring that before you can buy a gun you have to take and pass a course in the safe use and ownership of guns. That course would include rules instructing the gun owner to secure their firearms in such a way that other people in their household would not be able to get their hands on them.
Had Antonios Pagourtzis, owner of the guns allegedly used by Dimitrios Pagourtzis, been required to take and pass a gun ownership class before he was allowed to buy those guns he would have learned that you’re not supposed to leave unsecured loaded weapons where untrained people, leastwise high-school kids, can just grab them up.
Had Antonios Pagourtzis been required to take and pass a gun ownership class before he was allowed to buy those guns he would have learned that if he was going to have guns in his house that the other people in the household would themselves need to take a class in the safe use of guns.
If you leave your car keys lying around and your unlicensed teenage son takes them and runs down a bunch of people you are financially liable.
If you give your unlicensed teenage son permission to drive your car and he runs down a bunch of people you could be facing criminal liability.
But, since neither Mr. Pagourtzis nor anyone else is required to learn how to use and store a gun or about the legal liabilities and responsibilities of owning a gun or about the risks of allowing untrained and immature people to have access to your deadly weapons, his guns were there for the taking.
If the common-sense gun laws that Mr. Graham views with such disdain forced gun buyers to treat the ownership, storage and use of deadly weapons with the same prudence we treat the ownership and use of automobiles, airplanes, construction equipment, explosives and lots of other dangerous items Dimitrios Pagourtzis might not have had the access to, or perhaps the immature attitude toward those guns that he displayed in today’s gun-promoter’s utopia where untrained, unlicensed people are able to anonymously buy unregistered deadly weapons.
Mr. Graham Didn’t Admit The Real Reason Gun People Oppose Common-Sense Gun Laws
Very often when people make an argument they don’t tell you the real reason for their position, especially if they’re a little ashamed of the actual reason why they’ve taken it.
In that case they give you “a” reason, a cover reason, but it’s not “the” reason, the real reason.
Your teenage daughter asks if she can go to a late screening of an old movie on a school night. She tells you:
- The movie ties into a paper she’s writing for school (Cover Reason).
- It’s a classic movie that’s won numerous awards (Cover Reason).
- One of the actors is now a big star who’s active in ending starvation in Africa (Cover Reason).
- Upon some questioning she admits that, oh, yes, a certain boy she likes will be there (Real Reason).
Mr. Graham didn’t reveal the real reason why his so-called “Second Amendment supporters” oppose “common-sense” gun laws.
All his straw-man characterizations and fallacious arguments were merely cover for the real reason his “Second Amendment supporters” want to continue the untrained, unlicensed, anonymous ownership of unregistered military-style weapons with large magazines:
In their minds, those Second Amendment supporters are pretty sure that all those minorities and immigrants and liberals are going to wreck the country and steal their freedom and that someday they’re going to have to take back their “rights” by force of arms. Didn’t you see The Hunger Games?
But to do that, they’re going to need as many guns as they can get their hands on. And they’ll need them to be unregistered so that the government won’t be able to track them down and take them away.
If people have to pass a gun-safety test and pass a background check before they can buy a gun then the government will have their names on a list. Then, when the Red Dawn Russians or the New Gestapo or the Black Helicopters take to the skies, that list can be used to track them down and take away their guns.
They don’t want to say that out loud because they have a suspicion that some people will think that it sounds more than just a little crazy. Lots of people already call them “gun nuts” and publicly saying that they want the anonymous ownership of unregistered military-style weapons so that they will be ready to mount an armed insurrection against the federal government when it “finally goes too far” just might reinforce the “gun nut” label a little too much, so they generally shy away from admitting that too openly.
Instead, they make these silly arguments that unregistered guns and anonymous, untrained, potentially criminal or crazy gun owners aren’t really dangerous at all because they don’t want to admit the real reason they don’t want gun owners to have to demonstrate their competence and register their weapons.
Come on, own up to it. Just say it out loud:
“The so-called ‘Second Amendment supporters’ want unregistered, military-style weapons in the hands of unlicensed, untrained, anonymous people so that they can be ready to fight an insurrection against the federal government. Long live The Turner Diaries.”
At the very least, be honest. Stand up for what you believe, no matter how paranoid or nut-job crazy it may sound to people other than yourself.
–David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)