If you have to lie to support gun control, how is it a morally viable position?

An ever-present dichotomy in the nation’s conversation over the place of firearms in our society is how the two sides chose to argue  their points in the debate.


Citizen control groups such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action, the Violence Policy Center, Brady Coalition (or whatever they’re on now), Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and their allies, tend to make the same anecdote-based arguments time and again in order to attempt to persuade people on an emotional level. They then reinforce their arguments with the entire raft of logical fallacies, and in some cases, simply choose to tell half-truths to blatant falsehoods.

A recent long-form ad hominem attack on the National Rifle Association by activist/journalist Bill Moyers is just the latest example of their style of argument.

Moyers started out with the sort of well-reasoned, rational headline we’ve come to expect.

The NRA has our children’s blood on their hands

This is, sadly, as rational as Moyers and his peers generally allow themselves to get.

Keep in mind that this headline could have just as easily been on the New York Daily News or Times, or on a CNN or MSNBC chyron appearing under a red-faced personality spitting at the screen in well-practiced rage. Citizen control arguments are based upon brute force frontal assaults, overwhelming reason, logic, and data with emotion and invective. The first paragraph is a shining example of this.

This grim anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., killings, with 28 dead, reminded us of that moment back in 2000 when Charlton Heston made his defiant boast at the NRA convention that gun control advocates would have to pry his rifle from his “cold, dead hands.” You would have thought he had returned to that fantasy world of Hollywood where, in a previous incarnation, he portrayed those famous Indian killers Andrew Jackson and Buffalo Bill Cody, whose Wild West, as Cody marketed it, still courses through the bloodstream of American mythology.


Moyers brings up Sandy Hook as an appeal to emotion in what is now a rote act for citizen control advocates. He then quickly devolves into a personal attack against a dead actor who was once the face of the NRA. Moyers manages to get a secondary dig in at Heston, choosing to curiously pick two of more than 100 characters Heston portrayed in a long career, grossly oversimplifying and mischaracterizing the lives of both Jackson and Cody in the process.

Perhaps it isn’t too late to mention that character assassination is also a favored tactic.

For sure, Heston wasn’t channeling his most famous role, as Moses in The Ten Commandments, striding down from Mount Sinai with a stone tablet on which had been chiseled God’s blueprint for a civilized society, including, “Thou Shalt Not Kill!”

Curiously, Moyers once claimed to be a Baptist pastor. He knows that he’s misquoting the Bible. The correct and most accurate translation, and the only one that makes sense with the rest of a Bible filled with warriors, is “thou shall not murder.” The Bible is against unlawful killing. Moyers knows this. He doesn’t care.

But the Good Lord seems not to have anticipated the National Rifle Association, its delegates lustily cheering Heston as his demagoguery brought them to their feet. Started after the Civil War by two former officers of the Union army who were disconsolate that their troops had shown such poor marksmanship in battle, its purpose was to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” Now, its conscience as cold and dead as Charlton Heston’s grip on his gun, the NRA has become the armed bully of American politics, the enabler of the “gunfighter nation,” as cultural historian Richard Slotkin calls it, whose exceptionalism of which so many patriots fervently boast, includes a high tolerance for the slaughter of the innocent.


Moyers goes from deceptively misquoting the Bible in the previous paragraph back to personally bashing Heston again, calling the NRA a bully… which is an interesting take on an organization of roughly 5 million members in a nation of 312,000,000, and which directly represents just a small fraction of America’s estimated 100 million gun owners.

Moyers also manages to name-check a fellow traveler that he has interviewed numerous times, Marxist literary theorist and historical revisionist Slotkin. And then comes a string of irrelevant statistical red herrings, giving the illusion of support for his arguments.

There has been a lot of killing in America since Newtown a year ago, perhaps more than 30,000 gun deaths since that fatal day. And gun purchases are way up. The biggest publicly traded firearms manufacture in the United States, Sturm Ruger, had more than half a billion dollars in sales for the first nine months of this year, 45 percent higher than two years ago, with a 67 percent profit rise over the same period. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that for the first eleven months of 2013, FBI background checks for gun purchases rose to more than 19 million, up from less than 9 million in 2005: “Not every background check leads to a firearms sale, but the direction of the statistics is compellingly clear.”

Moyers notes that there are “perhaps” 30,000 gun deaths, without mentioning that the majority of those deaths are suicides, not homicides, not discerning murders from justifiable homicides.  He notes that gun purchases are “way up,” but fails to mention that as gun ownership skyrockets, violent crime has plummeted, that child gun deaths of every kind are consistently declining, and that this year may have the lowest rate of law enforcement deaths in over a century.


Moyers seeks to deceive his audience by citing irrelevant statistics (a classic red herring), while ignoring the real data that destroys his emotional argument on an empirical level.

We could continue to dissect the rest of this deceptive rant on a line-by-line basis, but we’d only be providing the same sort of point-by-point rebuttal of this continued deception, and frankly, that bores us as much as it does you.

What really interests us is how Moyers and his peers at left-leaning news outlets and in political office morally justify their constant deception on the issue of firearms, crime, and gun rights. Moyers has been around a very long time, and he knows on a rational level that he is being needlessly inflammatory. Moyers knows that hard data, honestly viewed, undermines the core of his argument entirely.

Sadly, Moyers is entirely a creature of the pack. He thoughts aren’t remotely original. He is not alone in his deception, or his knowledge that he is being deceptive. Collectively, citizen control advocates have rationalized away their constant deception on this topic “on behalf of so called greater good.”

But how does a person who desires to be a moral and decent person dare claim that they hold the moral high ground, if the arguments for that position are based on intentional manipulation of emotions and outright deception?

That is a “man in the mirror” than none of them dares address.


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