Throughout the nation, debates continue on gun control and gun rights. However, what’s always amusing is when people prop up strawman arguments and pretend they’re dismantling the core of the gun rights debate.
Take, for example, this column from Rome, Georgia.
Two weeks ago, in my home state of Kentucky, two students were killed and 18 wounded in a school shooting at Marshall County High School. It was the nation’s 11th school shooting of 2018. 11 school shootings in 23 days. That’s one school shooting every other day in this country. And no one cares. No one cared last year about the Las Vegas shooting, and no one is caring now. If you heard about and remember this shooting in Kentucky, good, but I bet you can’t name the other ten that happened this year before it. No other developed nation in the world has this problem. None of them approach guns like we do, and we cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by complacency that this is at all normal or somehow tragically unavoidable. Most sickening to me is that for people to stand up and declare their right to bear arms apparently means we simply have to accept that sometimes innocent children have to die. It is repugnant, it is grotesque, and I am done with it.
I was inspired to write this piece after listening to a particularly tired argument I’ve heard many times before about how countries like Switzerland have liberal gun laws, like America, and yet they somehow don’t have this problem, and so we should be more like Switzerland and not like other developed nations who have more restrictive gun control. I’m not sure the people who say that actually know Switzerland’s gun laws. I think it’s a wonderful idea, and we should do that. So, let’s review Switzerland’s gun laws.
The strawman here is that no one in favor of gun rights thinks the United States should embrace Swiss gun laws. At least, not anyone I’ve ever encountered.
When Switzerland enters into the debate, it’s usually because the Swiss militia requires individuals to keep their service weapons at home. Further, with compulsory military service, there are a lot more guns than would normally show up in an accounting of firearms in private hands. Since these guns are military-grade weapons, and the Swiss don’t have a problem with them being misused as a general rule, it kind of gives lie to the argument that more guns equal more crime.
But what happening here is someone is taking one aspect of the gun rights argument, misrepresenting it in print, and pretending they’ve somehow scored points or something. It’s easy to knock down arguments when you make them up in your own head when they’re arguments no one is making in the first place.
This is the epitome of the strawman argument.
There’s nothing about this one, however, that doesn’t smack of an anti-gun crusader–despite the writer’s protestations to the contrary–trying to manipulate the argument to pretend that he’s somehow right. However, there’s a reason it’s considered a logical fallacy, especially when it’s such a clumsy attempt at a strawman.