If you are like me, your social networks have been blowing up with Gun Memes. These are snappy little captions meant to show to absolute stupidity of gun control, or the wisdom of those who do not. They really don’t do either. Over the next month or so please allow me to explore some of my favorites. Today’s meme is:
What I like to Call: “But Cars kill people, too.”
This was, for me, the most interesting and unusual of memes. I guess someone on Fox must have started this (its the news channel I don’t follow, and this has not figured on any of the others I do watch). The argument goes like this:
A) Cars kill people in accidents everyday.
B) We don’t ban cars.
C) Therefore we should not ban guns.
First, let me say this for the record: cars don’t kill people, people kill people. If you are going to argue elsewhere that instruments do not factor into the actions of people; then you probably shouldn’t get to do the same to support your case. It just seems like you’re making the rules up as you go along. Couldn’t resist the slam, sorry.
Point A exhibits what we call the problem of category confusion. Cars are not like guns. The entire purpose of a car is a total good. It’s gets people or things from point a to point b. That is it’s purpose. The purpose of a gun is a net bad. A gun exists to kill things. Granted sometimes those things need to be killed, but in the end the purpose of a gun is to kill (a bad for both the thing being killed and/or the society that must deal with the death). One could run this argument without the category confusion with say, knives (but even those have a mitigating good purpose).
Point B presents its own confusion with a false argument. Yes, we do not ban cars as a matter of transportation; but we have many regulations regarding their use (speed limits, traffic lights, drunk driving laws). These regulations are actually enforced as anyone who has been pulled over by a cop or passed through a sobriety checkpoint can attest. When I worked at the DuPage County Courthouse researching crime, everyday I processed 10 to 15 drunk driving arrests. Everyday I saw 20 to 25 traffic violations. As the use of cars rose, we as a country decided that deaths from auto accidents was unacceptable, so we began to institute real regulation and enforcement of those regulations into place. As we have done so, accidents have gone down. True, we cannot stop every person from violating the law; but we can and do punish offenders. True, when these things happen we can point to the fact that we have been doing something to make it harder to kill people with your car.
All of this confusion is leading to concluding error is Point B. Here is the problem is that Point A + Point B do not equal Point C. The geometry of the argument is like saying 2 + A = 4 (where A =A). In fact one might propose that the following argument could be reworked in the following way:
A. Cars are used as instruments in the deaths of innocent Americans.
B. Guns are used as instruments in the death of innocent Americans.
C. For the greater good, we have agreed to regulate the use of cars (to minimize this potential misuse) and to punish offenders.
D. For the greater good, we should agree to regulate the use of guns (to minimize this potential misuse), and to punish offenders.
There is no category confusion as I have stipulated how the metaphor works. Second I have not created a false argument. And this is the kicker: most of us are not arguing that we ban all guns. We recognize that guns have a value. We recognize the important place guns have in our society and that protections exist in our best documents (the 2nd Amendement). The argument is for more regulation. We want to make it harder to kill people. We want to limit access to the kinds of guns that can kill multiple people before anyone can respond. We want to do what MADD did in the 1980s (those halcyon years when Americans were free and America belonged to the right people). We want to see realistic legislation passed and enforced to make gun violence less a part of American life. It fact along these lines someone might post the following meme:
See no one is saying ban cars or guns. Just maybe, I don’t know, regulate them like we do cars. Now if you want to argue about that regulation go ahead. Let’s just not besmirch each other’s intelligence with false logic, category confusion, and non-existent arguments. Or we can keep posting stupid inane memes to FB to prove our lack thereof. Your move.
EDITORS NOTE: Please keep your besmirchments of my intelligence related the issue I have raised as I will be dealing with some other memes later.