Column uses near-strawmen to discredit gun rights movement

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Psychology Today isn’t pro-gun by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve addressed several columns that appeared on their site over the years and all of them have been in favor of regulations on firearms. It’s kind of infuriating, to be honest.


The latest is just as infuriating. The reason? The author’s insistence that the gun rights movement is hypocritical by highlighting a small handful of voices.


  • It’s ironic that some gun rights advocates are willing to infringe on other important freedoms to protect their “absolute” freedom to own a gun.
  • Gun rights advocates have argued for a registry of buyers of violent video games in order to reduce violence, but this infringes on privacy.
  • Others propose a database of people living with mental illness, even though they’re 11 times more likely to suffer from violence themselves.

One of the common claims made by the gun rights movement in America is that guns make us free. Or, as some put it, the right protected by the Second Amendment—the freedom to own and use a firearm—protects the rights laid out in all of the others. There is much to say here, but let’s focus on the fact that often, the arguments made by some in the gun rights movement contradict this claim.

Now, I have to call this a near-strawman argument.


I say “near-strawman” because it’s not quite an actual strawman. For it to be so, he’d have to be making up the arguments and he’s not. At least not entirely.

However, what he’s doing is taking a few voices that are far from prevalent and amplifying them to suggest these are common arguments on this side of the fence.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, while these ideas have been floated from time to time, you generally don’t hear them from anyone who is actually part of the gun rights movement.

What you hear is often from people who support gun rights but it’s not a driving force in their politics. They’re not concerned about the implications of treating someone with mild depression the same as a paranoid schizophrenic, nor are they familiar with the fact that the rise in popularity of video games correlates to the drop in the homicide rate in the 1990s.

No, they’re political wonks who like the Second Amendment but aren’t really part of the movement itself.


Further, you’ll note that even these folks tend not to make this a hill they’re willing to die on, especially after the problems with these things are pointed out.

None of that matters to the author, though, because while he rightly argues these proposals are problematic, he finds no issue arguing for restrictions on gun rights apparently.

Then again, he also thinks Stand Your Ground laws defend people when lethal force isn’t actually called for. It’s proof you can be a Ph.D. and still not know what the hell you’re talking about.

Here, too, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. All he’s trying to do is paint folks like you and me as hypocrites, and doing a piss-poor job of it, too.

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