Why "Shall Not Be Infringed" Isn't The Best Argument For Gun Rights

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“What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you not understand?”

I’ve seen this presented as an argument against gun control many times. I agree with the sentiment completely and totally. However, it’s also an argument that doesn’t really need to be made.

You see, in the gun debate, there are three kinds of people. There are those who support gun rights, those who oppose gun rights, and those somewhere in the middle.

When talking about gun rights, who do you think that phrase actually resonates with? It resonates with us. We love it. The thing is, we already believe it. We have accepted it and are prepared to cheer when we hear it.

No one else is, though.

I’m sorry, but it’s true. Asking such a question is a great way to get a round of applause from a pro-Second Amendment crowd, but beyond there, it’s just not enough.

Think about it for a moment. How many times have you taken part in a debate where you use some variation of that phrase and the other party sits there and goes, “Oh, crap. You’re right. I’m going to change my views entirely” in some way other than sarcastically?

Just what I thought.

See, while “shall not be infringed” should be a sufficient argument, there are legions of people who don’t see it that way. For whatever reason, they’re not willing to accept that argument, and if that’s all you’ve got, you’re never going to win anything.

Oh, you’re not likely to win the anti-gunners over. They’re generally just as entrenched in their positions as we are in ours. They’re not going to budge.

It’s the third group you have to win over. You have to make it clear to them that gun rights are worth defending. Yet, they don’t accept that argument either. I’m quite sure they’re familiar with the text of the Second Amendment, but they’re not swayed toward gun rights. If “shall not be infringed” was all you needed, they’d already be on our side.

They’re not.

So, to win them over, you need more. You need facts. You need statistics. You also need to frame some appeals as emotional, because whether we like it or not, that’s part of how anti-gunners have made such strides over the years. You need to hit those folks with the whole gamut of arguments if you want to win them over to the pro-gun side or, at the very least, lure them away from the anti-gun side.

See, while I agree with “shall not be infringed” with every fiber of my being, it’s not about what I believe. It’s not about what you believe. It’s about what the other guys accept and how they can be debated in a way that loses ground for the anti-gun side.

If you want to be a good advocate for the Second Amendment, it’s fine to remember “shall not be infringed.” You just can’t expect that to be your trump card. You can’t expect it to be the rhetorical nuke that wins the debate.

If that’s the totality of your arsenal, you’re completely unarmed for this fight.

Jul 27, 2021 12:30 PM ET