Let me state up front that I’m a moderate on this issue – I don’t own guns, but I also don’t believe they should be entirely banned. Also, I’m not making any claim to know exactly what the correct answer is in this debate.
The real problem with discussing the issue of gun control is out-of-control rhetoric. Any time the topic of gun control comes up, you get straw-man attacks on these two extremes. Yes, there are probably a few people who hold these extreme opinions, but I believe that it’s likely not really very many. When we focus on those extremes, though, it makes it nearly impossible to have any kind of actual discussion. Let me explain.
I recently saw the following post on Facebook:
The problem with memes like these is that they completely miss the point of the gun control debate. No one, Obama included, is saying that all guns should be eliminated and that they cannot ever be used in ways that actually increase protection. But someone thought they were being clever by creating this image and now it’s making the rounds and helping to prevent any actual discussion from happening.
Think about alcohol for a moment. I’m a long time member of Mississippi’s Raise Your Pints, an organization that has worked to raise the legal alcohol limit for beer and to legalize home brewing. In that sense, I’m very pro-alcohol. However, I also believe it’s a good idea to have laws, for example, that prohibit drinking and driving. The image above, would be similar to taking a picture of me having a beer with dinner at home, drawing a red arrow labeling the beer, and then giving me a word bubble that says, “Drinking and driving makes us less safe.” Does that make sense? No! It misses the point.
In logic, we call this a straw man attack. Essentially, what it means is you prop up an argument that no one is actually making and refute that argument as if you’re addressing the actual point. In reality, you’ve not even addressed the arguments that are being made! Why should you care? Because you’re not convincing anyone of anything. Remember, I’m a moderate, and I’m thinking that maybe there should be some additional gun control, but I certainly don’t think all guns should be banned. The only thing the image above does is make me think those who are against gun control are not very intelligent. Is that really the message you’re trying to communicate?
Can we please, as a country, stop being distracted by these straw men arguments and actually start discussing things that matter?
Are there things we might all come close to agreeing on? Check out the info-graphic below and let me know what you think!