THE ANTIGUN MESSAGE OF TEACHERS’ UNIONS MISSES THE MARK ON GUN VIOLENCE.
Antigun activists must take Americans for fools. When a terrorist, gangbanger, lunatic, or your garden variety criminal seriously injures or murders innocent citizens, be it with a knife, a bomb, a car or truck, a baseball bat, or a firearm—no matter the object—the answer to stemming violence of all kinds is ever the same: “Get rid of the Guns!” That’s the long and short of it. Many members of the American public feed on such misguided, imperious and impertinent anti-Second Amendment slogans, manufactured by and pressed into service by the destroyers of our sacred rights and liberties, taking them to heart. The mainstream Press obliges, churning these slogans out regularly, incessantly. The verbiage may change a bit, but the message does not.
Members of the public, who succumb to the antigun rhetoric and propaganda, espouse enactment of ever more restrictive firearms legislation—firearms legislation targeting the law-abiding American civilian population. Individuals who buy into the rhetoric and propaganda believe strongly, although wrongly, that the solution to societal violence is as simple to understand and to effectuate as recitation of the antigun slogans themselves. It isn’t. Contrary to the implication behind these anti-American slogans, no simple cause exists for today’s endemic violence. Accordingly, no simple solution exists for curbing it.
But, one point is poignantly clear if a person would just stop to consider it. It is a point antigun advocates won’t mention. It is one antigun advocates would never countenance; and it is a point the mainstream Press—the willing bullhorn of the antigun establishment—would not so much as intimate. Societal violence is a manifestation of human conduct, not inanimate, non-sentient objects.
Guns do not go on shooting sprees on their own volition. Knives do not stab individuals on a personal whim. Cars and trucks do not, themselves, ponder jumping curbs to run down bystanders. Yet antigun advocates convey the impression that inanimate objects, firearms, especially, are the innate causal agents of violence—that they “work” a sort of sorcery on individuals who, themselves, become merely the vessels for carrying out acts of violence. So, it is guns—those in the hands of law-abiding, rational American citizens and civilians—that are targeted for unceremonious eradication.
“Get rid of guns!” That is the battle cry. And, the antigun advocates count on the public’s wholesale acceptance of their agenda, shaping and molding opinion to their cause; playing on emotion; stoking fear and anger. There is no reflection; no consideration; no debate. Antigun propagandists, activists, and zealots want none of it, believing that serious reflection, consideration, debate to be unnecessary, irrelevant or, more to the point, dangerous, as even a modicum of thoughtful reflection would bring immediately to light, the legal and logical weaknesses of their position.
Americans who fall prey to and buy into simplistic antigun messaging and proselytizing operate unthinkingly, mindlessly, reflexively, like a village mob, brandishing pitchforks and torches, hell-bent on destroying Dr. Frankenstein’s monster—believing that ridding the Nation of firearms will in fact stem gun violence and curb most societal violence. They fail to realize that the “monster” they seek to destroy will not be destroyed—cannot be destroyed—because it is no more than a creation of the antigun propagandists. It is a shadowy figment, existing not in the “gun” at all, but in themselves. The monster manifests in and takes on form and substance, and life, as they wish it to—in their own weak, benighted natures.
Of course, some Americans, certainly the antigun perpetrator activists who seek public acceptance of their antigun agenda, would like to see civilian gun ownership and possession substantially curtailed and eventually eliminated from American society, even though realization of their goal wouldn’t reduce societal violence one iota. They know this. Indeed, if pressed, they would likely acknowledge this. Antigun activists’ abhorrence of guns rests as much on aesthetic grounds as on social and political ones. They simply do not like guns; see no benefit to having them in “civilized society;” and, so, do not accept that American people have a fundamental, natural right to keep and bear arms. For antigun activists, zealots and those members of the public that fall prey to the messaging, the idea that Americans have a natural fundamental right to keep and bear arms is repugnant; an anathema; not simply arguably wrong, but heretical, even nonsensical.
Yet, many more Americans—most Americans—believe fervently in the right of the people to keep and bear arms, as did the founders of our free Republic, the framers of our Constitution, who sensibly realized the importance of codifying that sacred right in the Second Amendment. This is an article of faith. The antithesis of which—that no American has an unalienable right to keep and bear arms—is truly heretical. So long as the concept of natural rights remains a bedrock principle of our Nation, all the chanting, ranting, and prattling, for yet more restrictive gun laws, will be rendered moot, as well such sanctimonious posturing should.
On April 5, 2018, the United Federation of Teachers (“UFT”)—a teacher’s union that represents New York City Schools—posted two articles in its publication, in support of the antigun “March for our Lives” demonstration that took place in Washington, D.C. Similar antigun protest marches took place in New York City, and elsewhere around the Country, drawing hundreds of thousands of high school and middle school students, as well as public school educators and administrators. The mass shooting incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, served as the impetus and pretext for the marches. Michael Bloomberg’s antigun advocacy group, “Everytown for Gun Safety,” and other groups, sympathetic to the goals of Bloomberg’s group, provided funding, organization, and logistical support for the students.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who authored one of the articles appearing in the Union’s publication, titled, “Time for common sense on guns,” says that the protestors “demand sensible gun laws to keep weapons out of our communities,” and that students “don’t want to live with fear and [that] they are tired of waiting for Washington, D.C. to stand up to the National Rifle Association.” To emphasize his own abhorrence of firearms, the UFT President added this weak attempt at a play on words: “teachers should be marking papers, not being trained in marksmanship.” Rachel Nobel, UFT Staff Reporter, who authored a second article, that appeared in the same April 15 publication, titled, “Taking a stand against gun violence,” reiterated the UFT President’s comment that arming teachers was a bad idea. She asserted: “Many teachers had come to protest President Donald Trump’s proposal for licensing teachers to carry weapons in schools.” In her article Rachel Nobel quotes Larry Sachs, a teacher at PS 57, who asserted, “If taking one gun off the street saves your child from being shot, then it’s worth it.” As can be seen, a cascade of antigun slogans tumbles through these UFT articles.
The overuse of slogans, in support of the position for further gun restrictions against the civilian populace of this Country, is aptly and abundantly illustrated in the titles of the two UFT articles and in the articles’ content. Slogans invariably fill mainstream news and opinion articles as well. Slogans serve, at best, as a feeble substitute for vigorous, sustained argument. At worse, they are inane, doing the American citizenry a disservice, playing simply to one’s emotion, rather than to one’s intellect. Use of slogans rather than cogent argument promotes intellectual laziness–both in the author of an article and in the reader. Author and reader are encouraged–nay, expected–to suspend critical judgment.
The principal, albeit tacit, point of the two UFT articles is that popular support exists for yet further gun restrictions. Apparently, the UFT President and UFT Staff Reporter, and, evidently, many teachers and school administrators across the Country, believe that, although this Nation suffers from hundreds of Federal, State, and local restrictive firearms’ statutes, codes, regulations, and rules, many more are needed. Obviously, those who espouse further restrictive gun measures won’t be satisfied until civilian possession of firearms in this Country is ended.
Of course, tens of millions of American citizens do not support further gun restrictions. But, even if we assume, for purpose of argument, that more Americans than not, do support ever more gun control, does popular support, in and of itself, constitute a sound argument for it? No, it doesn’t!
Among the informal fallacies known to antiquity, argumentum ad populum, is a common one. The argument, “appeal to popularity,”—also referred to in common parlance as “appeal to the people”—rests on the fallacious claim that, because a significant number of people believe a proposition to be true, the proposition is true.
In the present case, the idea conveyed is that, because hundreds of thousands of people, taking part in the recent antigun protest demonstrations, believe that further restrictive firearms’ measures will reduce gun violence, it follows that further restrictive firearms’ measures will, in fact, reduce gun violence, and that further restrictions on civilian ownership and possession of firearms will reduce all forms of societal violence. These notions are false, blatantly so. No matter. Yet, the mainstream media insists on presenting these false notions as fact; as self-evident truth.
This is a prime example of the argumentum ad populum fallacy. The fallacy proceeds from the idea that popular opinion constitutes good and sufficient evidence to support a claim. Consensus, among the masses, though, does not, in and of itself, provide evidence in support of the truth of a proposition. Shouting loud and long does not make a claim true, or “truer,” contrary to what many Americans —including all too many young people, who are particularly sensitive to emotional messaging—may happen to think.
Apparently, many young Americans, as well as all too many older ones, feel that whoever shouts the longest and the loudest is one whose judgment is correct, and who, therefore, is to be believed over someone—anyone—who operates through calm reflection, who articulates a point clearly, cogently, softly, rather than through bombast.
The American public should not, in any event, be subsidizing, with its tax dollars, student protests during school days and hours. Better it would be if high school students debated the issue of societal violence, calmly and intelligently, in the classroom, not in the public forum. Doing so would allow for more sensible and productive use of time.
Yet, rather than seeing teachers and school administrators beseeching students to operate through restraint, we see all too many of them taking part in group excesses, along with these students. We see teachers and administrators, at the behest of the leadership of antigun groups, indulging students’ baser instincts; unconscionably encouraging, abetting, and exploiting raw emotion in young people, rather than encouraging restraint on emotions.
Teachers should be cultivating each student’s critical faculties, cautioning each of them of the dangers in allowing emotions to hold sway over rational intellect, especially in moments when the rational mind is overwhelmed by senseless tragedy. But, that is where personal strength, fortitude, and indomitability of spirit come into play—where a person checks his or her emotions at the door, preventing those who hide an ulterior motive from making use of a student’s understandable anger and fear, to promote an insidious and deceptive agenda—one detrimental to the preservation of our Nation’s sacred rights and liberties. Oh, but wouldn’t that be a shame!
Copyright © 2018 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.
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