Kevin Hoover: The Folly And Fallacy Of The Freedom To Mass Murder

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I’ve spent some enjoyable time trolling Ted Nugent’s Facebook page over the last few weeks. The great patriots there have very little sense of humor, and tend to react to whimsy-tinged argumentation with short words rich in consonants. One of them did figure out a vacuum cleaner joke to go with my name, but he would be among their intellectual elite. Anyway, Uncle Ted’s minions eventually shut off my ability to comment there. It was fun while it lasted.

I was surprised to see the same Nugent-level pro-weapons of mass murder talking points at hand in the piece above. They’re just about all misleading and desultory.

I do agree with Sid about the local Democratic Party, though. It, like the local GOP and Greens, is a sick, sorry organism rife with personal rivalries, dunderheaded doctrine and anti-democratic practices. That’s the nature of parties.

But beyond that, the piece is an exercise in hand-waving and misdirection.

First, arguing statistics after Sandy Hook and Aurora is a great way to advertise that you haven’t got a compelling moral argument. The recitation of numbers might be better summarized by the statement, “the  dozens killed and injured by military-grade weapons are statistically insignificant.”

But to any of the victims’ parents, whose lives will never be whole again, one assault-weapon murder is all the wonderful numerical data they need.

Imagine going to Newtown and making the statistics case. “Sorry, but your dead children aren’t even a rounding error.” You wouldn’t do that there; what makes it any more acceptable here?

“Criminals ignore the laws.” That’s a great argument for having no laws, isn’t it? People are running stop signs and speeding right now in Arcata, so by that logic, we may as well rescind all the traffic laws.

“How about disarming felons instead of going after law abiding citizens?” Where this argument fails is, if the law is changed and these citizens have 100-round ammo magazines like the one used in Aurora, they won’t be law-abiding citizens.

Particularly disppointing was the invocation of the failed Fast and Furious operation is straight-up FoxNews talking point fashion. That was a well-intentioned effort with a worthy goal – to track firearm infiltration to drug cartels. Police sell drugs and stolen merch to bad guys all the time, with productive results.

Unfortunately, this op went awry, allowing right-wing extremists to demagogue it and waste all kinds of time on more of the chest-thumping nothingness they so expertly traffic in.

Anyway, what is the essential argument here? A high-risk law enforcement operation failed – therefore don’t regulate high-capacity ammunition magazines? We even get the Muslim Brotherhood in on the situation. That’s relevant, because, you know… Muslims!

Whatever your opinion may be of the U.S. continuing to provide military assistance to Egypt’s democratically elected government, how is it again that flooding American streets with battlefield-ready weaponry addresses that issue?

Apparently regular firearms don’t work any more, making mass murder weapons necessary for self-defense by rural residents. If statistics are so definitive, let’s see some stats on how many folks in remote cabins have fended off intruders with Smith & Wesson M&P15s and 100-round clips (as opposed to say, shotguns). I’m guessing it is even fewer in number than those 20 statistically meaningless little kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It’s odd that to protect “freedom,” opponents of military weapon control would rather meddle with free expression in movies. Violence has been part of popular fiction since the form was invented – just look at a Road Runner cartoon, or the Bible.

If you think that our choice is between regulating weapons designed for military combat and “rebuilding our aging infrastructure,” one or the other, you’ve been ensnared in a classic “false dilemma” logical fallacy.

One of the things I’ve noticed about the Nugent fans and gun zealots in general is that for all their high-and-mighty, red, white and blue All-Americanism, they have very little comprehension of, or faith in, American institutions. To them, mere bullets are all that keeps ’Merca intact. What a sad, shriveled conceptualization of our country.

Sure enough, the above piece buys into this limited vision, suggesting that regulating high-capacity ammo magazines is “destroying our freedoms.” The fact is, the only people empowered by mass-slaughter weapons are the angry, armed psychogoobers.

We were free long before those heinous devices were ever invented and will remain so after they are outlawed. Why doesn’t the freedom to live beyond age five count for anything?

What I’d like to know is, if these combat rifles are so grand, why don’t we allow people to own bazookas? And RPGs? How about hand grenades, napalm and nerve gas?  Surely it is destroying our freedoms to limit use of these weapons of mass death.

Seriously, all those things – unlike handguns and shotguns – are very well designed to take out whole neighborhoods worth of people in one efficient stike. And that is just what assault rifles and hi-cap magazines are being used for – in schools and movie theatres.

The extremist hyperbole has run its course. The majority of Americans are ready to enact sensible reforms that give law enforcement the tools to take away mass murder weapons.

Reasonable gun restrictions are finally going to happen, and the single freedom that will be destroyed is the freedom for lunatics to wipe out crowds of innocent people before someone can stop them.