This is why we can’t have nice things

I was recently called a “hypocrit” (sic) in Herald-Times comments for pointing out that citing the total number of gun deaths is misleading, since the debate is about preventing bad people from harming others and most gun deaths are the result of suicide. (This does not mean we should not work to reduce suicides, of course.) Furthermore,the focus of gun control right now is so-called “assault weapons,” but so-called “assault rifles” make up a tiny percentage of all gun homicide. More people are killed with knives than rifles.

It is worth a response here because it is worth pointing out the fallacies that too often litter our political discourse. Other portions of the comment:

So, it is ok to kill as long as it is not a fetus.

Nope. I did not say that. Not one single time. Never.

This is a complete and total fabrication.

Suicide is ok

Nope. I did not say that. Not one single time. Never.

This is a complete and total fabrication.

and hey it is only a small percentage that is done by an assult type weapon so all is good.

No, that is not what I said. What I said was that the numbers do not justify the rhetoric used by “gun safety” advocates. Banning so-called “assault rifles” will do virtually nothing to address the number of murders each year, much less the number of suicides. If someone wants to die, it is not that difficult to do, and taking away a gun will not stop that. It would, however, take away the liberty of law-abiding citizens to own a weapon for personal protection. The AR-15 is a popular weapon for home defense, for many reasons.

Going back to the fabrications about what I think is OK: This is indicative of a broader problem. We cannot have a rational discussion about statistics and what would be effective public policy because one side or the other has to immediately use an emotional appeal and accuse the other side of nefarious motives. Often the person making the accusation is the one acting immorally by lying about the other side, as I demonstrated above. This same person fraudulently accused me of saying that people protesting things are “thugs,” which I have never said. The false accusation against me is part of a fabric.

If we want to have a political system where we are not constantly at each other’s throats, then we have to stop this kind of behavior. We must aggressively call out people on “our side” who are liars or who make bad-faith arguments. Most importantly, we need to examine our own rhetoric to see that we are fairly characterizing the opposing side, and not being dishonest. We should be open to criticism of our rhetoric, especially from our own side. As the pop song says, reform starts with the man in the mirror.