You can’t argue with an ideologue — the gun control edition

NRA LogoSince the Sandy Hook shooting, I’ve written several posts about interactions with liberals who refused to believe the facts I cited them about guns.  (The facts I rely upon are here; a good example of a fight with liberals is here.)  Clearly, I am not persuasive.

As I learned today, though, when you’re arguing with an ideologue, nothing is going to be persuasive.  Today was the day I opened my “real me” Facebook page and saw, much to my surprise, that one of my uber-liberal friends (someone with whom I was once very close, so I continue to “friend” on Facebook), had linked to this article from Mediaite (a hard left-leaning outlet):

A study published in the latest issue of the academic journal Applied Economics Letters took on many of the claims made regularly by advocates of stricter gun laws. The study determined that nearly every claim made in support of stronger restrictions on gun ownership is not supported by an exhaustive analysis of crime statistics.

The study, “An examination of the effects of concealed weapons laws and assault weapons bans on state-level murder rates,” conducted by Quinnipiac University economist Mark Gius, examined nearly 30 years of statistics and concluded that stricter gun laws do not result in a reduction in gun violence. In fact, Gius found the opposite – that a proliferation of concealed carry permits can actually reduce incidents of gun crime.

Along with the link, my friend included his own statement to the effect that this was certainly food for thought, but that he still believes that guns should be as tightly regulated as cars.  I couldn’t resist adding my mite to this, because I thought that, with his having cited the article himself, his liberal mind might be opening just a crack to let in the light of pure reason.  We ended up having a polite back and forth that I’ll summarize so as not to destroy his privacy.

I noted, as I always do when the car comparison comes along, that cars are not constitutionally protected, while guns are accorded the highest protection possible (“shall not infringe”).  Otherwise, you can compare cars and guns:  both are useful, both are fun, and both are dangerous.  I added that life overall is dangerous and governments are the most dangerous of all.  I even threw in the fact that, as a predicate to committing mass murder against their own people, totalitarian governments always disarmed them first.

My friend replied that he wants a constitutional amendment so that guns can only be in the hands of people the government pre-approves.  He believes government can commit mass murder without first disarming its people.  To him, it was irrelevant that those governments that actually (not hypothetically) murdered their people all began with disarming them.  Somewhere, somehow, he’s sure there’s a government that successfully committed mass murder against its own well-armed citizens.   He then threw in the usual trope that guns are made solely to kill, while cars are not.

That last comment left me with an opening:  his statement seemed to belie the very study that he had posted in the first place.  It said that fewer people are killed when more people of good will had guns.  That means guns are made for protecting people, not killing.

My friend’s response was to launch into a laundry list of shooting stories — drive-bys, robberies, fights, etc., all of which explain (to his mind) why guns should be banned.  Once again, he’d totally forgotten about the study he cited.  He then repeated that guns are meant only to kill and that the only way to save society is to get rid of guns.

I came back with fact:  as the study he cited shows, places that ban guns have more crime, including gun crime.  Places that once banned guns and then un-banned them (as happened in Washington, D.C. after the Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller) had less gun crime.

He opted for sarcasm:  So, do we give everyone a gun?

I suggested that doing so is reasonable, based on the conclusions from the study he cited.  I also said that Hollywood is a problem.  Even as its people demand gun control, they make pictures rife with guns and hide behind armed guards.  They might want to change the message in their movies.  I also pointed out that gun crime is an inner city problem and that we should look at the culture there, rather than at the guns themselves.

His bottom line had the virtue of being honest:  I don’t really care about the study.  Guns are bad and should be done away with.

And that’s why you can’t argue with an ideologue.  Data is irrelevant.  Blind faith is everything.

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  • Jose

    He opted for sarcasm:  So, do we give everyone a gun?
    Yes.  Just read this post which includes an eye witness account by a Marine fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.
    “Every family had a fully functional, fully automatic AK-47.  It wasn’t a problem.  I was never shot at except by the insurgents, and mainly the foreign fighters – bad people from Syria, Egypt, Iran, blacks from Africa, and some fighters with slanted eyes from the Far East.  I looked in the face of every man I killed, and some of them had slanted eyes and were of Far Eastern descent.
    We did confiscate some weapons caches, but only the ones hidden by the insurgents when the people gave us the intel.  The AK-47s were used by some of the people to fight the insurgents, but they weren’t used on us.  We were fighting the insurgents, and mainly foreign fighters.  We were not afraid of the AK-47s owned by the families.  The families helped us shut down the insurgency when we made it clear that they had to do that.”
    Because…. guns aren’t the problem.

  • Robert Arvanitis

    You cannot reason a manout of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place — Jonathan Swift

  • ferninphilly

    Hi Book, 
    So- when I get into these debates I first always try to get my opponent to start from an honest place. The person who says “I support the second amendment BUT…” is NOT starting from an honest place- the second amendment is fairly binary (“…shall not be INFRINGED”).  If they want more gun control legislation I simply ask them which tragedy that would have stopped (Aurora, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Arizona?) or what effect they think that will have. Look to practical answers to this (Chicago, Philadelphia). They will hem and haw and search for some study (usually produced by Mother Jones) that states that less guns = less crime but again: that is not gun control- that is the elimination of guns (and these studies are consistently debunked).
    So step ONE in these debates is to force your opponent to admit that they think that all guns should be banned (note: a person raised in a foreign country (Australia or England, for example) is much more likely to openly admit that they believe that “all guns should be banned”). 
    Now- once you’ve got them admitting that they are anti second amendment, Book- you have them. There are VERY few Americans (or Westerners in general) who are comfortable agreeing with this statement: 
    “I fervently believe that guns should be exclusively in control of those in power.” 
    There’s a facebook meme going around that states that gun control is a myth because you can’t “put the toothpaste back in the tube”. Guns exist. Period. So by “gun control” you mean “only the government should have guns” (unless you believe that your government should also disarm- which makes you a laughable dunce). There are very few people in this country naive enough to be willing to agree with that statement- that the best possible society will come about when ONLY those in power have weapons. History is pretty clear on this point (again and again and again). As you’ve said: the “it would never happen here- we’re good people” argument is easily debunked by you asking “so you were saying that the Germans in 1932 who elected Hitler were what…BAD people?” 
    I always say to my liberal friends that the first step in becoming conservative is realizing that people in history are NOT caricatures. They are not silly cartoons- they were real, living, breathing people- and had you (or I, or any of them) been born in that time (1919 Germany, or 1770 America) we probably would have made decisions very similar to those people based on a combination of societal pressures and the desire to do WHAT WE THOUGHT was best. Those people did not have the advantage of hindsight that we do today- so to say, looking back, that “of course we would never end up in a totalitarian Nazi regime” is stupid. No one who cast a ballot for Hitler could foresee what was coming. No one who supported the Bolsheviks could see Stalin in the future- so they did what they thought was right at the time- as any of us would have done (side note: it is only the truly, truly extraordinary people: Churchill, Lincoln and their ilk- who have the moral clarity to resist the societal pressures of their day to do what it universally RIGHT despite unbearable costs. If your liberal friends claim that they would have that level of moral clarity then, well…they have very high opinions of themselves). 
    To tie this back to gun control: the argument that “…but we are defended by a piece of paper against totalitarianism” is silly. Tyrants always pay lip service. They change the meanings of words (as Orwell showed). Ask a peasant in North Korea if they are “free” and they will say “but of course we are, thanks to dear leader”. In the end you can’t depend on words (which are fungible and changeable- as Hannah Arendt said: the first casualty of totalitarians is objective truth) or laws (see how easily our current president brushes aside those he does not agree with through executive fiat). You MUST depend on force of arms- which is why the second amendment is there. 

    • Bookworm

      You’re correct, ferninphilly.  I’m too careful when I have these debates.  In part, it’s because I’m lousy at confrontation, and I do know these people.  More importantly, I want to keep these people as Facebook friends.  Since they’re sensitive flowers, if I’m too obvious, they un-friend me.

      As to why I want to keep these sensitive flowers as friends, it’s not because I value their friendship.  I haven’t seen some of the them in decades, and I know I wouldn’t enjoy their company if I did.  I have two reasons for hanging onto them:  (1) I find interesting what they post.  It’s my window into the core liberal mind.  My day-to-day friends, although they vote Democrat, are all studiously apolitical in ordinary interactions. 

      (2) Throughout the day, I carefully plant ideas.  I put out things with innocuous labels such as “this is certainly counter-intuitive” or “another one for the ‘why do people lie when the internet is there to show what they’re doing?'” or “imagine what it would have been like for us to go to college with this class as a requirement.”  I always primarily use articles from politically neutral sites or articles from their favorite venues (NYT, NPR, etc.).  Since these uber-liberal friends usually comment on these posts, I know they’re reading them.  

      I therefore view my Facebook friendships as a slow indoctrination.  Maybe they’ll learn something and start to think.  The friend of mine who fought the reality of the statistics article he posted may find, as I eventually did, that it’s exhausting to live in a state of constant cognitive dissonance.

  • Ymarsakar
    There are several interesting 38s commercials I see on youtube. That supports my view that the internet using generation and people have longer attention spans but higher incidences of energy attention deficit against boring stuff. These videos, the commercials on these videos, aren’t short. At least, they had a more consistent theme than tv commercials.
    People raised on tv, passively staring at the brainwashing box, now those people I think are truly bored of anything longer than 5 seconds. Because they aren’t used to interacting or absorbing large amounts of information. They’re just used to being conditioned by the idiot box.
    As for guns, all I know is that Obama ordered us to bring a gun to the fight. That’s all I know. Well, maybe not all but you know how it is.
    If a leftist dares to disobey Obama, if they dare Disobey the Authority of the US Government… who knows what’ll happen to them. Who knows what we’ll have to do to them.

    • Ymarsakar

      Whoops, mistake, those weren’t 38s commercials I saw on youtube. They were 3 minutes long. But they felt like watching a 30s commercial.
      I found the link, finally. It’s a good story about a person helping Vietnam veterans recover from being called baby killers and monsters. Many vets succumbed to the Leftist pressure and became monsters. Others were still living life while being tortured mentally by the Left’s evil fangs.

  • Ymarsakar

    “As I learned today, though, when you’re arguing with an ideologue, nothing is going to be persuasive. ”
    Oh but you haven’t tried the mind control techniques I know of, Book. See, what you got to do is to find an audio clip of Obama saying “bring a gun”, then keep it on your I whatever droid and then replay it as you prime the pump. Prime the pump by setting it up beforehand by saying that Obama’s authority shouldn’t be challenged, that the US President needs people to obey in order to help people. Then Hit them. Hit them hard with that clip. Watch as their eyes roll over and their zombie conditioning activates.
    It’s fun. Try it, and see.

  • Ron19

    “He then threw in the usual trope that guns are made solely to kill,….”
    Since guns kill people, not people kill people, the gun control advocates are barking at the wrong tree.
    What is needed is for guns to go through training for safety, competence, and classroom training on the applicable legal statutes.

  • bizcor

    And the global warming people are just as stubborn. The MSM never  bothered to tell us those “scientists” trapped in the ice in Antarctica were global warming experts there to observe the melting ice. Even after being trapped in ice that was said to be as much as 13 feet thick the “scientists” insisted that the ice was old ice and a result of global warming.
    This week in New England we are “enjoying” some of the coldest temperatures on record. On my Facebook page I sarcastically posted “4 degrees in New Hampshire, further evidence of global warming.” Someone replied “actually… it is”. I chose not to engage for several reasons but first and foremost  because I knew I could cite facts and figures until I was blue in the face and would have gotten nowhere.

  • jj

    Hell yeah, everybody gets a gun!  There are nine houses on my street, and I bet that translates to well over thirty guns.  I know at least seven are AR-15s, American weapon of choice for varmints of all kinds.  (I know that because sometimes a few of us shoot them together.)  A very safe and well-mannered neighborhood.

  • Matt_SE

    The way to hit a leftist is with their own standards. Alinsky got that one right.
    Leftists think that cops can somehow be trusted to be better people; that they and only they should have guns. Get your friend to admit that…it shouldn’t be hard. Then ask him to comment on the African-American or Latino-American community’s experience with the cops in Los Angeles. Rap is full, up to its eyeballs, with songs about “the Man’s” racism, coming down on innocent people.
    Are these the “better people” he was talking about?
    Come up with your own examples of oppression that fit into the leftist narrative. Run the gamut: racism, sexism, age-ism, “genetic purity” against the retarded. Then make the point that there is no way to get rid of all prejudices. It’s too easy to make someone into the “Other” (as they like to say). Some excuse will always be found, and it doesn’t have to rely on the pet issues that the left holds dear.

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  • P.M.Lawrence

    … as a predicate to committing mass murder against their own people, totalitarian governments always disarmed them first… He believes government can commit mass murder without first disarming its people. To him, it was irrelevant that those governments that actually (not hypothetically) murdered their people all began with disarming them. Somewhere, somehow, he’s sure there’s a government that successfully committed mass murder against its own well-armed citizens…

    As a matter of actual historical fact, he’s right and you’re wrong – but in a way that actually supports your underlying ideas, in a way, since the way they went about it ended up controlling the people who were armed.

    Before the Armenian genocide, the Ottoman government actually armed and trained Armenians of military age, which tended to allay the fears of the Armenians. But when it came to the crunch, they couldn’t offer any resistance through those men as they had all been called up and removed from the playing field.

    Likewise, but less genocidally, when the French first went into Indochina, they crowded out existing armed groups by co-opting them and equipping them as a government-sponsored militia (they did indeed disarm everybody in a later stage, but not as part of taking over).

    And both Iraq and the U.S.S.R. had quite high rates of private gun ownership (by western European standards) during the regimes of Saddam Hussein and Stalin respectively.