Opinion By Anon Reader
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Once again, an op-ed published in an established Second Amendment blog has unified Americans against gun control. This is the second major publication, this month, to give screen time to opinions that are wildly out of step with gun owners. It is wholly appropriate for these outlets to give a voice – from time to time – to opposing views.
The editors in both outlets felt it necessary to issue statements about the need to publish opposing views and letting the readers decide.
This time we are considering an op-ed by Dan Gross and Rob Pincus in an AmmoLand News.
Dan Gross is the former President of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Rob Pincus is the Executive Vice President of Second Amendment Organization.
The Brady Campaign is perhaps the premier American organization dedicated to:
- Restricting purchase for “military-style assault weapons” (i.e., America’s most popular rifle),
- Banning ghost guns and the practice of making firearms at home; which is an American practice older than the Republic itself,
- Repealing stand your Ground Laws which allow Americans to use deadly force when they reasonably believe their life is in mortal danger,
- Enforcing and maintaining a narrow reading of the landmark DC v. Heller Supreme Court Case. Heller, in their view, should be no impediment to enacting more gun control.
- Preventing Americans from carrying firearms in national parks
Rob Pincus is known for his work in the Second Amendment community. Among other responsibilities, he is a firearms instructor and public speaker.
For the reader’s benefit, read the article they published in AmmoLand before reading this response. This will provide a better understanding of how their subtle rhetorical tricks can be used to disguise bad ideas with anapestic policy talk.
Their op-ed starts with what they think is a key insight into the gun debate,
[M]eaningful change begins with changing the conversation, from one defined by politicians, lobbying organizations, and the media as a partisan political debate, to one that truly reflects the interests of the American people, whether they own guns or not.
Changing the conversation to serve the American people, they write, should unite the American public and provide “the foundation that is necessary for real, lasting and fundamental change.”
All they want to do is give peace a chance!
Here we have the first rhetorical trick used by the authors.
Both gun and non-gun owners can read the above and agree with it in theory. Lasting change, solutions that reflect the interests of the American people, even a side shot at the media will garner a sympathetic ear from Americans who are tired of the political posturing on the Second Amendment.
They also blame the “polarizing political debate” on the “extremists on both sides”. But both sides of the debate include those who want to ban all firearms as well as the millions of Americans who support gun rights.
It seems that the national Pincus/Gross debate on guns doesn’t include me, my friends, and millions of law-abiding Americans.
But Gross and Pincus have framed their arguments is such a way as to put those who disagree with them opposite the American public and their best interests. They would have served their own interests better by being honest with the readers by asking for more gun control, which is what they want. More on that below.
They believe there should be a new narrative in the discussion on guns in America. Specifically, one that advocates “just [keeping] guns from the people we all agree should not have them.”
In case Pincus and Gross were not aware, there is nothing new about this. I had to read their “paradigm-shifting counter narrative” a few times to be sure I didn’t miss the point. But in the end, their plan is gun control, not even a new idea for gun control.
For this totally unoriginal idea, Rob Pincus teamed up for an op-ed with the former president of American’s premier gun control group.
After the world premier unveiling of the game changer, Pincus/Gross give reasons why both gun control advocates and gun rights supporters should get on board.
The gun rights groups can be assured by this new narrative, they say, because it will assure them that no one is going to take guns away from responsible gun owners.
Ok. But again, nothing new here. We’ve all heard that no one is coming for our guns since the 1934 National Firearms Act.
The more interesting part is when Pincus/Gross give the reason that gun control advocates should support their new narrative. I need to quote it in full so the reader can appreciate it’s majesty.
For gun control advocates, it (i.e., the new narrative) demonstrates an authentic respect for rights, and a compelling context for the most impactful proposed solutions, a context which creates a more powerful whole greater than the sum of its parts.
What the heck does that even mean?
They are not proposing a new idea. There is nothing transformative or bold here. If you read their article, you know the punchline, they want more gun control. If you haven’t, keep going and I’ll show you.
This was their second rhetorical trick. They pretended to unveil something that can cut through the politics and divisions. There is something here that everyone can appreciate, they say. It’s simple, deceptively simple according the Pincus and Gross. So simple even a child can do it! Let’s just hope that child doesn’t grow up and want to buy a gun. If we follow the Pincus/Gross plan, guns won’t be legal by the time that child becomes of age.
The next rhetorical trick is a slight of hand that should be obvious to most readers.
Pincus/Gross write that gun control advocates should advocate to keep, “guns from the people gun owners easily agree should not have them.” They write that “this may be a tough pill to swallow for many of the staunchest gun control activists” but that the possibility for “real and significant impact” (i.e., gun control) should be enough to get them on board with the new narrative.
Let’s look at what just happened here.
Pincus and Gross suggested that gun control groups jump onboard with their proposal, because in the end they will get more gun control.
Once again, nothing here that hasn’t already been debated before.
Pincus and Gross also briefly gave some consideration to the concerns of gun rights supporters. While still talking to gun controllers, they suggested that the messages the anti-gunners use not deter “members of the gun owning community that would otherwise be supportive” of gun control from joining the new narrative.
But they are begging the question (making a claim they assume is true) on what gun-owning Americans want. Do the millions of Americans want to be part of the Pincus/Gross new narrative? Working with non-gun-related groups or even across the aisle is great, but never when it means gun control.
And yet, I still have not really gone into their plan for gun control. There have only so far been allusions to it in their op-ed. I promise, it’s there and we will get to it.
But before we do, there’s one more skin-crawling piece to the Pincus/Gross path to total gun control and better wellness.
Here is the most important part of the Pincus/Gross plan that we are all going to have accept:
Most importantly, in the end, true change is going to require an unprecedented degree of empathy and open mindedness from everyone with pure intentions who agrees with the fundamental goal of doing everything we can to prevent gun-involved tragedies without impacting the rights of responsible gun owners. This means all of us accepting, without the appearance of judgment, those who make different choices around gun ownership; This means truly listening in order to gain a deeper understanding of how our words are being perceived and the many, avoidable subtle cues that belie our best intentions and make it easy for those with other motivations to undermine us.
When I took my friend, a good father and someone who only votes for candidates that support gun control, to buy his first rifle I was reaching across the aisle. But I was doing it on my terms and it showed him a new side to gun ownership.
When we take friends and colleagues who have never fired a gun to the range and pay for the lane and ammo (I’m not the only one, right?) that is great ambassadorship for the cause of the Second Amendment.
But what was proposed in the quoted paragraph above must be an intentional attempt to fool gun owners and Americans who support gun rights into conceding the Second Amendment. Why? Because we begin from the starting place that gun control is an answer.
Gun control is never the answer.
This brings us close to the end of the trip through the new – not so new – narrative.
Pincus and Gross propose three solutions – their words no mine – they think will elevate the discussion around guns.
But all three proposals are forms of gun control or are biased against gun owners.
The first is education. According to them,
Achieving success here requires fostering a deep appreciation among gun owners of the real dangers of owning and carrying guns and what can be done to mitigate those dangers.
We know guns are dangerous, that’s why we carry them for our protection.
It is also odd that Pincus and Gross want to talk to the gun-owning community about mental illness. Why is that odd? Because we already know that some gun owners can have a mental health crisis and need treatment. It’s also why Americans who support gun rights are quick to say that roughly two-thirds of gun death are suicides. Instead, the education should be directed toward gun control groups who think all gun deaths are a result of murders, and guns should therefore be restricted or banned.
Second, on the list is to enforce existing laws.
Pincus/Gross want greater enforcement measures against some FFLs, but FFLs did not exist as they do today in law prior to the 1968 Gun Control Act. Gun owners should not be advocating to enforce measures created to deny them their liberties.
Their third proposal is choosing the right policy to push.
According to Pincus/Gross, the chosen policy should be friendly to “responsible gun owners who overwhelmingly support the most impactful measures.” So, once again Pincus/Gross frame the issue in terms of responsible gun owners who want gun control and irresponsible gun owners who disagree with gun control.
All this finally brings us to where Pincus and Gross were leading us all along. Gun Control!
Specifically, expanded background checks.
This policy, say Pincus and Gross has “the most synergistic message” with “the greatest potential for impact.” Again, they write that since, “overwhelming majority of gun owners have already accepted that anyone engaged in the business of selling guns commercially, should be required to conduct a background check” that background checks are a viable option. So once more I say “so what?” we are all here to preserve our liberties. I will not concede on any control.
The focus, according to Pincus and Gross, should be on expanding the background check system on transfers to strangers. But they want enough exceptions for those of us who will gift a gun to a family member or let someone borrow a firearm temporarily.
That’s awfully nice of them to allow that. As long as there are exceptions carved into my natural, God-given rights I guess we’re all set.
So where does all this leave us with the Pincus/Gross plan?
The authors begin by writing that they understand that gun owners have legitimate concerns over their gun rights. But their article is polluted with nothing but gun control disguised as solutions.
Americans have already been victimized by gun control over the decades. The same kind that Pincus and Gross are advocating for in their op-ed. The kind where some politicians and their proxies said that gun control would unite us because it would make us safer if we would only just cross over and work with them.
But Americans have already crossed these lines. Too many times, in fact. We’re done giving inches away.
We want safety and we’re going to get it on our own terms. We will advocate, and push, and vote to undo the gun control that has victimized and made us weak over the years.