Gun debate "antagonism" isn't help by disingenous framing

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The culture wars are a part of American politics, and the gun debate has been dropped squarely in the middle of those wars.


Because some people don’t like guns and others do.


Now, I get why some don’t like them. I disagree, but I understand that it’s easy to blame the tool when that tool has been used to take human life. It’s easy to figure that without that particular tool, maybe the life would have been spared.

Sometimes, they’re even right. It might well have been spared.

What they miss is that there are a lot of people alive right now because they had a gun, and those lives that were spared would have been lost. A lot more lives, even.

There’s a certain degree of antagonism between the two sides. A recent op-ed is right in noting it, saying that the solution to the gun debate is “cooperation, not antagonism.” The problem is that this rings hollow with the disingenuous nature of everything else he wrote.

Starting by talking about Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” the author soon transitions to the gun debate:

The recent dust-up over Aldean’s song got me thinking about another aspect of the culture war that also involves two diametrically opposed sides: guns. One on side are gun advocates who see gun ownership as an unassailable right; on the other are gun-control proponents who believe gun ownership requires oversight such as permits and background checks. Just like the overall culture war, this debate will never declare one side the “winner.”

Especially when the debate is so disingenuously framed.

It’s not people who think the right is unassailable versus a few who just want a little permit and a background check. That’s not even close to what we’re talking about here.


First, let’s talk about permits.

The author isn’t really clear what he’s talking about with regard to permits–whether it’s a permit to buy or a permit to carry–but the difference matters. In fact, a lot of people who support gun rights actually are OK with permits to carry. I’m not a fan, but a lot of others are.

Permits to buy are different because yes, the right to own a gun is a right. We don’t make people get permits to speak out or to voice their opinions on the internet. Sure, we have them for protests, but that’s a logistical thing. No one can be denied a permit to demonstrate except for a handful of pretty understandable reasons, and most of those can be handled by simply rescheduling the demonstration.

So they’re different.

The term “background checks” is a little misleading because we already have those in place and few are clamoring for doing away with them. What he’s wanting is universal background checks, which have significant problems because it means I can’t even loan a gun to a friend who I’ve long known and know isn’t prohibited. I can’t loan one to my son, even, without a background check.

But mentioning those policies isn’t what’s disingenuous.

No, what bothers me is that the author pretends that’s all gun control advocates want; as if the whole debate would go away if we’d just institute those two pieces of legislation.

That’s not remotely true.


First, we’ve seen states pass these exact measures. The gun debate in those states doesn’t vanish. It shifts.

I have yet to find a single gun control advocate who got the policies they pushed for, then said, “OK, that’s enough” and called it a day. Instead, they pick the next things they want, always taking away from people’s rights and never willingly yielding anything back.

My friend LawDog has a great metaphor describing this by comparing our gun rights to a cake and these folks keep demanding more and more of our cake.

We want our cake back.

But these people keep pretending they don’t want the whole cake, while never once doing anything but taking from us.

What’s more, let’s not forget that a few folks are letting the mask slip. There was the whole rally to try and repeal the Second Amendment in Colorado not that long ago. There was Gabby Giffords saying the quiet part out loud.

Yeah, this whole “it’s just about permits and background checks” is nothing more than an attempt to try and frame the anti-gun side as being the reasonable ones when there’s a lot more to their side of the gun debate.

But that wasn’t the only place this author screwed up. He decided to try and use numbers to make his point, too.

“America has both the highest gun death rate (12 per 100,000 persons) and the highest gun circulation rate (about 121 firearms in circulation for every 100 persons) of any developed country,” according to a recent summary of articles in the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science(AAPSS). Moreover, “in 2020, the nation saw 45,222 firearm deaths, of which 54 percent (23,941) were death by suicide and nearly 46 percent (20,958) were homicides – nearly a 40 percent increase from nearly a decade ago.”


Now, he’s quoting someone else, so this isn’t all on him, but he accepted these numbers uncritically, which is.

See, anti-gun folks love to use these in the gun debate to try and show that we in the United States are wrong for embracing gun rights and that this embracing of them results in needless deaths.

What they don’t tell you is that our non-gun homicide rate is also higher than other developed countries.

If the issue were really about guns, that wouldn’t be the case. But why worry about reality when you can reframe things however you want as part of the gun debate?

It’s not hard to see why the cooperation the author wants isn’t happening and why there’s such antagonism in the debate. It’s because at least some people are disingenuous when they approach this very debate.

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