Thanks for the great response.
When you really listen to the anti-gunners, they tend to some interesting value-judgments. A hardened criminal with a history of violence is seen as a victim of society, childhood trauma, etc. It’s not particularly worth going to any great efforts to disarm him or punish him. He’s seen as a less sentient being, a victim of circumstances, and his life is worth preserving as a symbol of our collective humanity. An armed citizen who would willingly use violence to defend himself is seen as more sentient, a person who has made choices, and those choices are so reprehensible that he is seen as a blot on our collective humanity.
I think this is true for some of them, but not all of them. I definitely think there are different fundamental architectures of value and judgment going on, which causes people in the red tribe and blue tribe to talk past each other, and you point out one symptom of this overall schism in value structure.
And that schism in value structure is the root of many disagreements not only in gun policy, but in everything within the culture war. What I attempted to do with my series on guns (in total) was to skip that argument entirely, and just look at math. The simple fact is that the guns are out there, and no matter what your value structure is, there’s no reasonable means to get them back, so we as a society do not have the luxury of focusing on the tool, even if we wanted to. The only way we can reduce gun deaths, should we decide to do so, is by focusing on the reasons people are shooting each other or shooting themselves. It’s the only avenue, mathematically speaking.
Statistics can tell us many things. As you’ve noted, though, it’s such a temptation to manipulate them that you’d almost have to be a practicing professional with time on your hands to find the truth through the smoke and the mirrors.
You might freak out some of the less educated NRA members or the gun control people who are more shrill than sophisticated. You’re not going to change many minds. I can just see this scene: a gun control marcher going to an Everytown for Gun Safety staffer and telling him, “I really don’t know how to counter BJ Campbell’s arguments.” And the staffer sitting him down with a smile and explaining, “This is how we handle these argument.”
Truth won’t much matter. Once people become so invested, change is practically impossible.
I think there’s a lot of truth to that as well.
In an introspective sense, I don’t know that I wrote this series of articles to change anybody’s mind who is emotionally invested in the argument. They aren’t going to change their minds no matter what, because they’ve absorbed an indoctrination about guns, and indoctrinations are not thought out. Indoctrinations are ways to not have to think. Challenging someone’s indoctrinations means they might have to think more, and thinking is hard, so people tend to react emotionally.
I think the reason I wrote the series was not to change others minds as much as it was to justify my own positions, both to myself, and to others who hold different positions than mine. Honestly, I was getting pretty sick and tired of defending myself on Facebook in the same way, over and over, so I figured I’d simply compile some of those defenses into an article format so I could simply cross-link them later. It was a time saving device. I’m glad that the device has been beneficial to some others. The traffic these articles have gotten has been a blessing, and an intriguing one.