The NRA have issued a new video on the web that positions it for the coming fight over firearms regulations in the US.
The NRA have a fair reason to be worried given the US President’s position on gun regulation following the shootings at a school in Connecticut.
In short, the President is advocating a number of measures controlling the checks performed prior to the sale of a firearm and the capacity of ammunition magazines. These may seem to be benign, reasonable and commonsense reforms to you and me, but to gun advocates they are an unbridled attack on the very freedoms that make America a seven-letter word. Or a country. Anyway, their argument uses the words freedom and liberty a lot.
The video gives particular prominence to an argument at the mid-way point of the video. It presents it with the sort of dramatic montage that indicates the lobby believes this to be a slam-dunk argument that will win them the debate.
This argument goes as follows: The President’s kids go to a school that has a significant number of armed guards. The President is against an increase in the number of armed guards in schools nationally. This is therefore hypocritical.
The NRA are anything but stupid. The success of their attempts to influence public policy over the years is a testament to their ability to read public opinion and the political chessboard and then intelligently target arguments towards both national opinion and those parts of it that have direct influence over decisions taken in the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
They are a staggeringly effective lobby group.
It is therefore curious at first glance that the core argument should be so transparently wrongheaded.
It’s clear to anyone with a head on their shoulders that the President’s children are not protected in the way that they are because they are children, or because they are in a school, but specifically because they are the President’s Children, and that this exposes them to very specific and particular risks that must be mitigated. They are therefore not surrounded by armed guards for the same reasons as there are gates around schools in general, in their case we are not afraid of a random lunatic. They do not face the same risks as ordinary schoolchildren.
It is therefore completely nonsensical to draw a parallel between the security measures around the school attended by the President’s children and all the other schools in the country.
The NRA are well aware of this. So why did they make the argument in their video?
Because the individuals this argument is targeted at are not careful with their logic, and such distinctions matter little to them because they care more about the conclusion (I want a gun) than the argument. These people will happily latch on to such an accusation (“the President is a hypocrite”), without taking the time to wonder if it makes any sense at all. The NRA is speaking to them, and giving them a mantra. ”Hypocrite”. It wants them to repeat it. A lot.
I can disagree with the NRA without bearing a grudge, and I can accept their point of view as based on a different premise than my own. I can do this with no ill-will and no loss of respect for the integrity or intelligence of its members or its leadership, even as I disagree with them on every level.
However, when these same people start making arguments that they absolutely know to be wrong, when they lower their level to the point at which they preach to the fanatical and the ignorant using the language of propaganda, I can’t help but be shocked.
The power of that lobby group without any moral, ethical or intellectual duty to reason and sense is a frightening prospect, and an abuse of another amendement than the one they claim to defend.
The problem is that it only reveals what I feared all along :
To them, guns are more important than logic, than honesty, or than the Constitution. These are just arguments recruited for the cause.