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E176: On Debating guns… Arguments Against Gun Control

In this episode, we discuss tips for having a product and persuasive debate on guns and rights. It’s easy to throw talking points at one another, but how can we make our time well spent?

We’ll break it down with 7 tips and share a recent letter to a friend you may find helpful both in points made and things not to do.

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How to Discuss Guns Productivly:

First, there are questions you should ask yourself before you get into one of these conversations or debates.

Why is this important to you?

Why should others care about it?

Is what you know hearsay? Are you just regurgitating someone else’s talking points? Or have you done the fact finding for yourself?

On this last one, statistics get thrown around a lot. It’s often easy to find numbers that add up to “I’m right.”

But you have to ask the hard questions of the numbers you’re using. Can you poke holes in them ?Can they be legitimately argued against?

The 7:

  1. Don’t bother with those you have no hope of reaching. (pigs roll in the mud. You get dirty and they love it.)
  2. Don’t dogpile on a person.
  3. Listen carefully.
  4. Understand people are speaking from a place of fear and ignorance.
  5. Remove name calling and otherwise ad hominem attacks from the way your approach conversations.
  6. Have depth to your points and stay away from the “because the 2nd”.
    • Why is it important?
    • What can it mean to the other person; not you.
    • Remember, you’re wrapping a lot of knowledge into little packages. The only people who really know what you’re talking about are the people who already agree with you.
  7. Don’t verbally vomit on people–use proportional responses.

Response to a long time friend about guns:

Below is the response to a friend of 26 years mentioned earlier. You may find some of the points here useful. You’ll also notice some of the things I did wrong–starting with verbal vomit. It was a disproportional response to something she said consisting of roughly 100 words. But again, you may find it useful.

So let’s take it by the numbers here. But first, let’s readdress the things that seem not to have come across.

“Extremist” is an Ad Hominem attack and promotes nothing but poor communication and, more importantly, a weak argument, [NAME REMOVED]. So let’s lay off the name calling.

But what are extremes in this discussion? That is a good question.

On one side is the repeal of the 2nd by the introduction of a 28th amendment. Thus, total gun confiscation. Zip, zilch, nada, caputs, no soup for YOU!

On the other end of the extreme is a complete embrace of the zero gun laws or regulation–if we took “shall not infringe” all the way. That would mean you get to have whatever your heart desires and your wallet can muster: Rocket launchers, armed tanks, armed fighter jets, fully automatic M4s (the modern m16), etc.

A semi-automatic rifle falls somewhere around the middle or just below in this spectrum. And that’s what an AR15 and other modern sporting rifles are.

Some argue the founders couldn’t have foreseen modern weapons and didn’t mean for citizens to have such things. Look up the Puckle gun invented 58+ years before the Constitution.

There were also canons, yes cannons, in private ownership pressed into service during the war of 1812. So private citizens not only owned the largest small arms of military service, the musket and smooth bore musket, they also held the most powerful weapons available at the time.

As an aside: The constitution no more contains the word “musket” or “hunting” as it does hand-cranked press. You didn’t bring up muskets, but you did bring up hunting. And you mentioned hunting after already bringing up you’d use your guns for defense. So I’m not sure how the hunting thing got in your side of the discussion, but we’ll get to that in more depth later.

This line of thought that the founders couldn’t foresee such arms also assumes the founders were raging idiots who could not possibly predict advancements of any kind. I would imagine Franklin, and a few others, taking great offense to this line of thinking. Franklin may even tell them to fly a kite in a storm.

(Yes. I know the kite in the lightning storm thing is a myth, history buffs. Lighten up.)

Just to get that out of the way before we go there.

Back to the use of Assualt Rifle, this IS an important distinction. Not only is it being incorrectly applied intentionally; it’s intended to paint a picture in public opinion, which is what it has done for you and many many others. We call this “Marketing” in the negative sense. And this is very important here.

In simple terms, an assault rifle shoots many rounds when the trigger is pressed. An AR15 fires one round, and only one round, when the trigger is pressed. Nomenclature matters.

I’ll break this down another way for you.

An AR15 is as close to being an assault rifle as a pre-op transgender person is to a woman, in the conventional biological sense. They have on a dress, makeup, and maybe even a fabulous pair of heels. But if we strip them naked and strip you naked, then stand you two side by side… well… we see there are no lady bits on them. You. You have lady bits. Our friend, the pre-op transgender individual, has manly man bits.

I’m not just using this analogy because it made me laugh. It is the most accurate way I can convey the differences because what you see is cosmetic and surface deep. The inner workings and parts are not the same. The differences are huge.

Being able to identify the difference accurately also has a considerable amount of meaning. Would you trust a mechanic to fix a Toyota Prius if he called it a Ford F350 pickup truck? If you set up one of your husband’s straight single friends with our pre-op transgender friend, would he ever forgive you? So can you trust people to have an intelligent, knowledgeable, and productive discussion about guns if they’re making rather large mistakes accidentally or purposefully? More importantly, can you trust people to take away fundamental constitutionally protected rights who don’t know what they’re talking about or purposefully misleading you?

Now, about those cosmetic differences…

The AR15 is wearing a slinky black dress it borrowed from, its second cousin, the M4’s closet. However, it’s pre-op and still has a penis and no boobs. Before coming out of the closet, it wore a nice wood suit. Yep, it was a hunting rifle.

Wait a minute. Wait a cotton picking minute. A hunting rifle?!?

Yep. An AR15 is functionally the same as a semi-automatic hunting rifle. It just has on a black dress.

Here is a side by side comparison of a similar rifle which is commonly dressed up both ways:

Same rifle. Different dress.

What you’re looking at is referred to as a ranch rifle. It’s a semi-auto with a wood stock. Recently, they put a black dress on it in some models for people who think “if it’s black it’s tacti-cool!” Surprisingly, this did not make the gun a weapon of mass destruction or any more deadly.

But an AR15 has on those heels… I mean a box magazine!

Yep. So do some hunting rifles and plinking rifles as you saw in the picture in that link.

Most people prefer not to use a box mag on a semi-auto hunting rifle because it introduces potential accuracy inconsistencies. In a nutshell, the slamming around of the semi-auto bolt can damage the cartridge a bit and throw shots off by small amounts which translate it large amounts down range. But this is a longer and unrelated discussion.

Why do some hunters use box magazines?

Typically this is for one of three main reasons:

1) They’re on horseback where reloading can be tricky.

2) They’re doing pest control on a ranch and reloading often is an annoyance.

3) They’re hunting wild pigs in big groups and this is also pest control–eliminate as many as you can as fast as you can. Here there’s also a safety issue. Ferril pigs are tough mothers. If one charges you, you will want ever round available to you possible.

Magazine capacity trips up the totally ignorant and the “I’m a gun owner, but don’t shoot and train much” crowd. It’s something else that sounds scary. But in reality, it means very little. With a minimal amount of practice, and I mean minimal, it makes no difference.

The magazine capacity myth is best demonstrated. Here’s a good one worth a watch:

(In full disclosure, but with no real bearing on our discussion, I think that guy got caught with a hooker later and had to step down.)

Before you say it’s not the same, the principles are the same. I can inform you from lots of the first-hand experience.

Someone could do as much damage with quality ammo and a handgun from your personal collection as the recent murder did. Or, for that matter, they could use a run of the mill shotgun. I’ll get to why the AR turns up in shootings in a bit; at least my opinion.

Your statement about hunting brings up another point: animals tend to have thicker skulls and hide than humans. So most hunters opt for something putting out more powerful rounds than the AR15 uses.

Yes, the .223 round an AR15 uses is not very powerful, in the rifle world. Here is the .223 next to a .308 and a .30-06, arguably the two most popular hunting rounds these days:


But size inherently does not mean anything. So…

Here is a comparison of the typical energy they put out:

* .223 = 1,281
* .308 = 2,648
* .30-06 = 2,872

The .30-06 hunters are so fond of will punch right through most police issue body armor like it’s nothing. It’s armor piercing and in just about every hunter’s cabinet in the country.

But some AR15s use a 5.56!

True. Some higher quality AR15s are rated to use the slightly beefed up brother to the .223: The 5.56. It still only pushing out at around 1,326. Meh.

There is a caveat here which addresses hunters not using them: AR15s are used by some hunters. In Texas the deer aren’t very big you can use an AR with the right premium ammo. This is becoming more and more popular as more people are becoming familiar with the platform and when it makes sense with what you’re hunting in mind. They’re also good for hunting and pest control of feral pigs and coyotes.

The AR is also not a “big gun” as you put it. It’s sort of light and puts out a small round by comparison, as we discussed above.

Why do some people prefer the AR15?

There are a few common reasons for those that shoot often:

1) The ergonomics make it a comfortable to operate rifle in most shooting positions. It’s also relatively light and these two things make it popular in many of the shooting sports including three gun competitions.

2) It’s a bit like the Legos of the gun world. You can get all kinds of parts to customize to the individual’s liking.

A common reason people who don’t shoot often have them is this: They look scary and feel like holding the real thing. And it is my opinion this is the same reason some mass shooters use them.

Why would anyone want one for home defense?

There is no one size fits all gun for everything. They are tools at their core. And like any tool, there is a right one for a job. Many may do ok, but one will excel.

Shorter shotguns, 18-inches or less, are great for a lot of people. They live in a standard suburban size home. A pump action shotgun is very reliable, people on the other end know you mean business, and they’re simple to operate under stress.

But a shotgun that’s good for home defense tends to have a limited range. Many people are also under the misguided notion you don’t have to aim them carefully; not true. And they think buckshot won’t go through walls; also not true. Buckshot consists of 6 to 9 .38 caliber size balls. Interior walls don’t stop buckshot very well.

Handguns are ok. If you train a lot with them and it’s what you’re most comfortable with their use makes sense.

This is also true for AR15s: if you train a lot with an AR and it’s what you’re most comfortable with it makes sense. Then there are other instances. I have an usually shaped house with large expanses. One of them is 25 yards in length. I also live on over an acre. A handgun or shotgun could do, but an AR platform would be a better choice given my background and the configuration of the house. And I use something other than your standard .223/5.56 AR, but that’s getting into the weeds. Using a handgun or shotgun in this scenario introduces a higher probably of me doing more damage to property and potentially not putting a shot where it was intended to go–a very bad thing.

But can’t we make them harder to obtain?

My first question is this: What do you think that’s going to accomplish?

Again, in the 1990s we banned them and banned magazine capacities over ten rounds. We discussed this early; it did nothing.

Then there’s the whole constitutionally protected rights thing.

Shall we make voting harder with IDs and other hoops? Voting in many ways is a force on others.

What rights get the harder or softer treatment and who gets to decide?

What stricter guidelines would you propose?

Shall we do away with the fifth and sixth amendment to restrict ownership on suspicion with no due process or ability to face your accuser?

Will these erosions of rights make us safer?

Did the government spying stop any of these mass casualty events?

No. They’ve said it has resulted in no positive gains. Still, your rights and liberty be damned. The government keeps peeking in on everyone’s naughty texts. And they only admit to the extent when they’re caught.

There’s also four recent events we can review..

The first is the terror attack in France known as the Charlie Hebdo attack. The terrorists used pistols and true assault weapons–fully automatic AKs. But it didn’t stop there. The terrorists also are reported as having an M42 rocket launcher, smoke grenades, hand grenades, dynamite, and maybe C4 explosives.

They weren’t using spitballs in the recent Paris attacks either.

France is not exactly known for being a gun-loving country. In fact, they hate guns. No soup for you [insert French accent]. France is considered to have some of the most restrictive gun laws and regulations in the world. There are some exceptions, but they are extremely limited and narrow.

Next, up we have the recent Kenya mall attack. Similar situation.

Then there are the Tsarnaev brothers and their homemade pressure cooker bomb. Our restrictions on bombs didn’t stop them. You can’t hit your local bomb-mart and pick one up.

The funny thing about most criminals, they don’t care about your laws and restrictions. And, we have over 20,000 gun laws in this country. And we have background checks–providing all the agencies fill shit out correctly.

Bombs and chemicals…

DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). They watch some chemicals, but not those kinds of chemicals. That’s more of the meth world. You’re thinking of BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol Tabaco Firearms and Explosives.)

The BATFE is alerted about certain chemical purchases. They’re also alerted when someone buys several guns at once. However, there is a laundry list of chemicals one could use to make a bomb not being watched or watched carefully.

Someone could use these chemicals to make a small bomb as an ignition source. Then they could place that bomb on a liquid propane truck and drive it into traffic. What happens if they set that off in rush hour traffic on a busy highway? What happens if they set it off in rush hour traffic on a busy highway in a spur with lots of interchanges?

There’s a way around just about everything you ban or mark harder. Evil is like water: It will keep pressing and find a way. You can take away “stuff”, but you can’t solve the problem if you don’t address evil. And evil resides in people, not things.

We’re focusing on the wrong thing.

In his free time, he enjoys hogging the remote, surfing, scotch, mental masturbation and debate over philosophical topics, and shooting stuff--usually not all at the same time.

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