12 perfect responses to irrational pro-gun arguments

With the gun control debate hitting a fever pitch, a handy how-to guide for dealing with gun rights extremists

In a recent discussion about gun control on Thom Hartmann’s program, my opponent suggested that gun control advocates like me really have a cultural aversion to guns. That’s a standard ploy for the gun set: when reason isn’t on your side, deploy emotional and personal arguments instead.

“Anti-gun”? I could’ve brought up my own recreational gun use, or even brought out the firing range pass I carry in my wallet. But I’ll admit that I’ve lost a little of my taste for it as our national killing spree continues unabated. What’s more, that would’ve been disrespectful to the millions of Americans who do have an understandable aversion to guns. Personal habits should have no part in a rational policy discussion.

Now that President Obama has made his initial gun control proposals, the crazy’s being ratcheted up to a new level. Rational Americans in all walks of life will be confronted with these kinds of arguments. We’re going to need a playbook. Here are 12 responses you can use when you’re confronted with some of the standard illogical, irrational and emotionally overheated statements that gun extremists use.

1. I’m not anti-gun, I’m pro-kindergartner.

After Newtown, what person in his right mind thinks it’s irrational to propose some common-sense measures to prevent similar tragedies in the future?

2. Saying “If we have gun control only outlaws will have guns” is like saying “If you outlaw drunk driving, only outlaws will drive drunk.”

Rush Limbaugh’s recent variation on the old “only outlaws will have guns” line went like this: “If you have gun control laws, the law-abiding will be the only people that don’t have guns.”

This anti-gun control cliche makes absolutely no sense. We lose our driver’s license if we’re arrested for drunk driving, or if we commit too many other moving violations. But law-abiding people are free to drive. Gun control laws aren’t any different.

3. If dead children are a “distraction,” what subjects are important enough to be worthy of your attention?

As Media Matters reports, an increasing number of gun-extremist righties have suggested that attempts to prevent more deaths, including the deaths of young people at Newtown, Aurora, Columbine and elsewhere, are really just a “distraction” from more important matters.

Try convincing the parents of dead kids that their personal tragedies aren’t important. And if dead kindergartners don’t deserve your attention, what does?

4. So you’ve got “Second Amendment” rights? Where’s the rest of your militia?

The text of the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Where are the other soldiers? Who’s in charge? And which state are you protecting?

5. Oh, and congratulations on keeping the Lanza kid so “well-regulated.”

Along with Crazy New York Hermit Dude, the Columbine killers, the Tucson shooter, and all the other members of your “militia.”

6. If I can’t drive without decent vision, I shouldn’t be able to purchase weapons of mass killing after beating my grandmother to death with a hammer.

Maybe I’m off base here, but that just seems like common sense to me.

7. “Freedom to own a gun”? I have the freedom to own a car. But I don’t have the freedom to buy an M1A1 Abrams tank, or the many kinds of rounds — armor-piercing, incendiary, point detonation, delay, airburst, and shotgun-like antipersonnel tungsten balls — manufactured for its 120mm smoothbore cannon.