“Have you heard the Good Word of our Lord and Savior, Sig Sauer today? Oh…if only you unbelievers knew him the way we do!” You know, there are at least a few pretty sound arguments for guns in America and elsewhere. Not necessarily valid argument, but at least logically sound. But among those that aren’t, this one has got to be about one of the dumbest out there. For several reasons.
Recently, the NRA has embarked on a campaign to “demystify” guns, in hopes of stemming the rising tide of support for actual gun control laws. Sort of the same way Evangelicals think they can win converts by “demystifying” Jesus door-to-door. Bill Johnson has for some time been proselytizer for Our Lady of Peacemaker, and he just can not understand why people have such a problem with others carrying assault rifles into Chilis.
In this video, posted by the NRA on October 20th, Bill says “guns are just bits of plastic and metal,” like a vacuum cleaner or a lawnmower:
“Somehow we have completely dehumanized gun violence, and have instead humanized guns. Guns kill. Guns strike fear. Guns intimidate. Seriously? They’re just bits of plastic and metal.” He hopes that, now with this cleared up, “we can have a civic debate over something other than those intimidating, scary, pesky things we call guns.”
Before we get into the nature of The Dumbest Argument Ever, bear in mind: The person writing this is an actual, for real gun enthusiast. One who’s had dozens of pistols, a SPAS 12, several assault rifles and at least one Barrett 50-cal to his name. That said:
Point 1: No, Guns Aren’t Just Bits of Plastic and Metal
Actually, if that were the case, most people would probably sleep a little better at night. Same way people would sleep better in the morning if the same were true of lawnmowers. But lawnmowers wake us up at 6 a.m. not because of the “bits of plastic and metal,” but more because of the hydrocarbon liquid fuel flowing into the cylinders. Without this fuel, which is functionally part of the lawnmower, there wouldn’t be a great deal of noise and thunder.
In the same way, guns, functionally, aren’t just plastic and metal (sometimes wood), because it takes something else to make them work. Specifically: a mixture of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate. Aka “gunpowder.” So, technical violation for you there, Bill. But, because we pride ourselves on good grace, here’s an equally technical compromise:
Anybody can have as many bits of plastic and metal as they like…but anything containing powdered potassium nitrate requires a license. Deal?
Actually…is potassium nitrate specifically protected by the Second Amendment?
Hmmm…there’s an idea.
Point 2: The “Deconstruction” Argument is a Logical Fallacy
Maybe in a case of “with friends like these,” gun nuts have been going to this argument for ages. The “deconstruction argument” is directly derived from the logical fallacy of “false equivalence,” and related to “quoting out of context.” The reason this isn’t a valid argument is because you can use it to argue for anything, whether the premise is right or wrong. You might remember this scene from the movie Blow with Johnny Depp, where “Boston George” tries to talk his way out of going to prison for smuggling pot from Mexico:
GEORGE: “In all honesty, I don’t feel that what I’ve done is a crime. And I think it’s illogical and irresponsible for you to sentence me to prison. Because, when you think about it, what did I really do? I crossed an imaginary line with a bunch of plants.”
JUDGE: “Unfortunately for you, the line you crossed was real, and the plants you brought with you were illegal. So your bail is twenty thousand dollars.”
It’s a clever argument, and always worth a laugh. But it’s worth a laugh because it’s ridiculous. Mostly because deconstruction can be used to justify anything.
- A nuclear bomb is made up of plastic and metal, just like a washing machine — so we should let Iran have nuclear bombs.
- Online kiddie porn is made up of electrons, just like electricity — so we should cease all child pornography investigations.
- Bill Johnson is made up of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, just like a pine tree — so we should be allowed to push him through a wood chipper.
It doesn’t matter how wrong your premise, you can always justify it using deconstruction and false equivalence.
Not that the premise is always wrong.
Point 3: We’ve already Heard the Good Word of Our Lord Sig Sauer
…and we still don’t care. The only people who think “educating” the public like this makes a difference are the ones who spend their free Sundays preaching to the choir. And those rational who just happen to like guns because guns are awesome…you’re only marginalizing the group further. Nobody with a brain wants to be associated with an organization that makes desperate, idiotic arguments like this.
But yes, by all means…preach to the choir, if you enjoy the adulation. Just understand that the only people dumb enough to listen to this garbage are already members of the NRA.