Gun control arguments

The gun control debate is perhaps one of the more heated in modern American politics.  Those who favor stronger gun control believe that such regulations will lessen gun violence, leaving us all safer.  Those who oppose gun control seem adamant that 1-the government is out to disarm them (in preparation for some grand takeover) and 2-that loose gun laws actually make us safer by ensuring more armed good guys keeping bad guys on their toes.

Unfortunately, opponents of gun control use a laundry list of logical fallacies to argue their point, often dishonestly.  We will go through a few of the more common arguments they use in order to argue their points.

American cities and counties with loose gun laws are safer

The argument here is that, because American cities and counties with loose gun laws generally have lower crime rates, the former must have caused the latter.  What they leave out is that the cause-effect relationship is actually the reverse.  Areas with higher crime rates (which often coincide with higher poverty levels), pass stronger gun laws in an attempt to curb these crime rates.  Areas with lower crime rates are less driven to pass stronger gun laws.

“If gun laws work so well, why is Chicago (or some other poverty-ridden Metropolitan area) so violent?”

This rhetorical question is related to the first argument.  The assumption here is that gun laws are the only (or at least the dominant) factor in determining violence when in fact it’s clear that other factors such as poverty levels are a much larger factor.  Furthermore, gun control opponents often exaggerate the strength of these laws (sometimes claiming guns are banned in Chicago, which is not the case) and overlook the fact that guns can always be transported from neighboring cities with less strict gun measures.

The gun show loop hole is a “myth”

The reality is that in most states, private sellers (as opposed to actual businesses) can forego such measures as background checks, should they choose to do so.  Gun shows are a common (but not the only) place for such transactions, hence the name.  In an attempt to claim that the gun show loophole is a myth, gun control advocates argue a strawman, and actually argue that there’s no gun show-specific loophole, and will often point to the fact that companies (as opposed to private sellers) that attend gun shows DO conduct background checks (or they’ll point to cherry-picked instances of private sellers that choose to conduct background checks).

Conflating stronger gun measures with gun bans

Several different arguments fall into this umbrella.  One example is the labeling of anyone in favor of stronger gun measures as wanting a gun ban.  Another example are the reduction ad absurdum arguments like “Well, knives kill X% of people each year, may as well ban knives!” (this argument might have merit against an opponent’s arguing for an outright gun ban, but for gun law measures it’s a strawman, especially given that there does also exist restrictions on the sort of bladed weapons people can carry).

These are just a few of the dishonest tactics used by gun measure opponents and the right in general.  It helps to be prepared in advance, as it will be easier to dismantle these arguments.

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