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.

76 Responses to “Kevin Hoover: The Folly And Fallacy Of The Freedom To Mass Murder”

  1. Kevin Hoover

    Those are great points, and there is some overlap there with what Sid says in his reply to my reply, to which I don't plan to reply, which will be in next week's paper.

    #67321
  2. "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. "
    Ben Franklin

    #65184
  3. "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. "
    Ben Franklin

    #67306
  4. "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a WELL ARMED lamb contesting the vote. "
    Ben Franklin

    #65185
  5. "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a WELL ARMED lamb contesting the vote. "
    Ben Franklin

    #67322
  6. Kevin Hoover

    Speaking of lambs: Charlotte Bacon (6), Daniel Barden (7), Rachel Davino (29), Olivia Engel (6), Josephine Gay(7), Ana M. Marquez-Greene (6), Dylan Hockley (6), Dawn Hocksprung (47), Madeleine F. Hsu (6), Catherine V. Hubbard (6), Chase Kowalski (7), Jesse Lewis (6), James Mattioli (6), Grace McDonnell (7), Anne Marie Murphy (52), Emilie Parker (6), Jack Pinto (6), Noah Pozner (6), Caroline Previdi (6), Jessica Rekos (6), Avielle Richman (6), Lauren Russeau (30), Mary Sherlach (56), Victoria Soto (27), Benjamin Wheeler (6), Allison N. Wyatt (6).

    #65186
  7. Kevin Hoover

    Speaking of lambs: Charlotte Bacon (6), Daniel Barden (7), Rachel Davino (29), Olivia Engel (6), Josephine Gay(7), Ana M. Marquez-Greene (6), Dylan Hockley (6), Dawn Hocksprung (47), Madeleine F. Hsu (6), Catherine V. Hubbard (6), Chase Kowalski (7), Jesse Lewis (6), James Mattioli (6), Grace McDonnell (7), Anne Marie Murphy (52), Emilie Parker (6), Jack Pinto (6), Noah Pozner (6), Caroline Previdi (6), Jessica Rekos (6), Avielle Richman (6), Lauren Russeau (30), Mary Sherlach (56), Victoria Soto (27), Benjamin Wheeler (6), Allison N. Wyatt (6).

    #67307
  8. And?
    Lets just scrap the constitution then.
    If all of the adults there were armed it wouldn't have happened.
    We are NEVER going to agree on this issue.

    #65188
  9. And?
    Lets just scrap the constitution then.
    If all of the adults there were armed it wouldn't have happened.
    We are NEVER going to agree on this issue.

    #67308
  10. Wounded Knee
    The following synopsis of the Wounded Knee Massacre comes from u-s-history.com.

    On December 28, 14 days after the brutal shooting of Sitting Bull, the U.S. Army sought to disarm and relocate the Lakota people, who failed to stop their Ghost Dance.

    The U.S. authorities ordered the arrest of another Lakota chief, Big Foot. Big Foot’s band, which consisted mostly of women who had lost their husbands and other male relatives in battles with Custer, Miles and Crook, had danced until they collapsed, hoping to guarantee the return of their dead warriors. Big Foot and about 350 Lakota marched to Pine Ridge Reservation to seek protection from the military. At Pine Ridge they surrendered on December 28, 1890, and were escorted to Wounded Knee by the military, where they established a camp at Wounded Knee Creek.

    The following morning, December 29, 1890, the military ordered all Indian weapons to be relinquished and burned. A medicine man advocated armed resistance telling the other Indians that their Ghost Dance shirts were bulletproof.

    A shot was fired by an unidentified gunman.

    On the frozen plains at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, government troops opened fire on the mostly unarmed Lakota people, and massacred 290 Sioux men, women and children, including many trying to flee, in a matter of minutes. Thirty-three soldiers died, most from friendly fire, 20 Medals of Honor were presented to surviving soldiers.

    #65189
  11. Wounded Knee
    The following synopsis of the Wounded Knee Massacre comes from u-s-history.com.

    On December 28, 14 days after the brutal shooting of Sitting Bull, the U.S. Army sought to disarm and relocate the Lakota people, who failed to stop their Ghost Dance.

    The U.S. authorities ordered the arrest of another Lakota chief, Big Foot. Big Foot’s band, which consisted mostly of women who had lost their husbands and other male relatives in battles with Custer, Miles and Crook, had danced until they collapsed, hoping to guarantee the return of their dead warriors. Big Foot and about 350 Lakota marched to Pine Ridge Reservation to seek protection from the military. At Pine Ridge they surrendered on December 28, 1890, and were escorted to Wounded Knee by the military, where they established a camp at Wounded Knee Creek.

    The following morning, December 29, 1890, the military ordered all Indian weapons to be relinquished and burned. A medicine man advocated armed resistance telling the other Indians that their Ghost Dance shirts were bulletproof.

    A shot was fired by an unidentified gunman.

    On the frozen plains at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, government troops opened fire on the mostly unarmed Lakota people, and massacred 290 Sioux men, women and children, including many trying to flee, in a matter of minutes. Thirty-three soldiers died, most from friendly fire, 20 Medals of Honor were presented to surviving soldiers.

    #67309
  12. Amidst all of the squawking I keep coming back to one fundamental question with regard to gun control: How do laws that restrict gun ownership impact the mental health crisis that has caused these latest travesties? You know, it is really easy to pass a law banning something. How bout we pass a law that bans the practice of denying our citizens basic health (including mental health) care? Hmm? I would feel a whole lot better if we started improving our safety by helping our citizens than to just incarcerate a whole bunch more…

    #65200
  13. Amidst all of the squawking I keep coming back to one fundamental question with regard to gun control: How do laws that restrict gun ownership impact the mental health crisis that has caused these latest travesties? You know, it is really easy to pass a law banning something. How bout we pass a law that bans the practice of denying our citizens basic health (including mental health) care? Hmm? I would feel a whole lot better if we started improving our safety by helping our citizens than to just incarcerate a whole bunch more…

    #67301
  14. Kevin Hoover

    "How do laws that restrict gun ownership impact the mental health crisis that has caused these latest travesties?"

    The false dichotomy logical fallacy is, apparently, a mainstay of the anti-gun control side. So are straw men, etc.

    There's no reason I can think of for a binary, one-or-the-other choice between addressing mental health issues and stemming the proliferation of hyper-lethal weapons. Both could play a useful role in carnage-reduction.

    #65202
  15. Kevin Hoover

    "How do laws that restrict gun ownership impact the mental health crisis that has caused these latest travesties?"

    The false dichotomy logical fallacy is, apparently, a mainstay of the anti-gun control side. So are straw men, etc.

    There's no reason I can think of for a binary, one-or-the-other choice between addressing mental health issues and stemming the proliferation of hyper-lethal weapons. Both could play a useful role in carnage-reduction.

    #67323
  16. Kevin Hoover

    You disagree 100 percent that there are already sensible restrictions on the First Amendment, such as those against libel and slander. Do you live in some alternate universe or something? I thought you were the big legal/constitutional expert around here.

    #65203
  17. Kevin Hoover

    You disagree 100 percent that there are already sensible restrictions on the First Amendment, such as those against libel and slander. Do you live in some alternate universe or something? I thought you were the big legal/constitutional expert around here.

    #67314
  18. I disagree with YOU on this issue 100%. The only restriction I favor ON the first amendment is child porn.
    Any weapon that the military issues to soldiers should be available to the public.
    Again, I am not here to argue with you.
    Have a great life.

    #65205
  19. I disagree with YOU on this issue 100%. The only restriction I favor ON the first amendment is child porn.
    Any weapon that the military issues to soldiers should be available to the public.
    Again, I am not here to argue with you.
    Have a great life.

    #67315
  20. Ian Ray

    I try to stay away from this highly emotional argument… but, anyway…

    People commonly use "muskets" as an example of why the 2nd Amendment exists. That does not capture the spirit for me. Keeping government power perpetually in check by having a legally armed population is more of a reason why the 2nd Amendment exists.

    Brazil manufactures banned weapons, exports them, and they are smuggled back into Brazil. Maybe people don't think that would happen here with our airtight land borders.

    We can talk all we want about how it would be a good thing to get 100-round drum magazines out of circulation just like getting methamphetamine out of circulation would be a good thing. Not to be too snarky, but good luck with that.

    #65219
  21. Ian Ray

    I try to stay away from this highly emotional argument… but, anyway…

    People commonly use "muskets" as an example of why the 2nd Amendment exists. That does not capture the spirit for me. Keeping government power perpetually in check by having a legally armed population is more of a reason why the 2nd Amendment exists.

    Brazil manufactures banned weapons, exports them, and they are smuggled back into Brazil. Maybe people don't think that would happen here with our airtight land borders.

    We can talk all we want about how it would be a good thing to get 100-round drum magazines out of circulation just like getting methamphetamine out of circulation would be a good thing. Not to be too snarky, but good luck with that.

    #67302
  22. WOW, Kevin deleted his replies…will wonders never cease.

    #67316
  23. Charles Applegate

    Why, Mr. Hoover, do so many gun control advocates hew to this same false dichotomy by proposing only to restrict access to firearms? Where is the hue and cry from your allies demanding – DEMANDING! – that mental health care be funded?

    #65246
  24. Charles Applegate

    Why, Mr. Hoover, do so many gun control advocates hew to this same false dichotomy by proposing only to restrict access to firearms? Where is the hue and cry from your allies demanding – DEMANDING! – that mental health care be funded?

    #67324
  25. Since I can’t speak for other gun control advocates, I don’t have an answer for you Charles. But it sounds like we agree that a false dichotomy is diverting the discussion away from meaningful action, and that both sensible restrictions on lethal weapons and aggressive mental health outreach are necessary. That’s a start.

    #65247
  26. Ian, if laws are ineffective, shall we just do away with them altogether? Or just not pass new ones?

    #65248

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