Dan Popp
Conservatives arguing badly
By Dan Popp
December 18, 2012

The atrocity in Newtown, Connecticut has brought predictable calls for more restrictions on gun ownership. These calls aren't necessarily valid, based on the facts of the case, but they are predictable. In the wake of this slaughter there are two arguments that I believe conservatives should not be making, and one they should be making.

Bad argument #1: Liberals should be mourning, not using this event to push their political agenda.

This assumes, first of all, a lack of sincerity. If I believed that fewer guns would keep more Newtowns from happening, I might be pushing for tighter restrictions, too. The left's mistake here is on the facts, not the morality. Second, "politics" means power. It's always an appropriate time to talk about how the righteous use of force (in theory, government) can be used to curb the unrighteous use of force. If I can be frank, conservatives seem afraid that the emotion-driven left has a powerful emotional moment that it can use to override the reason of the electorate. But that's all the more cause for us to keep making rational arguments.

To slightly decrease the chance of misunderstanding, I don't believe that gun ownership should be further restricted; and I don't believe that government efforts to keep weapons out of the hands of crazies will ever be fast enough or efficient enough to prevent this kind of outrage from happening again. But the wish to, essentially, separate politics from crime prevention seems to reflect a misunderstanding of the purpose of government.

Bad argument #2: Laws do not prevent crime.

I recognize this as a bad argument because I've seen it coming my way from liberals. If I propose laws against abortion, someone will say, "You can't stop all abortions by making them illegal. People will always find a way to... blah blah blah...Prohibition!" The same thing is being said now by conservatives about gun laws. But the obvious truth is that no law prevents all crime; though almost every law deters some crime.

Again, I'm not advocating more gun laws. I'm only pointing out what I view as an invalid argument that confuses prevention with deterrence, some with all. No law could be justified on the grounds that no one ever broke it! Though all laws are broken, the fact remains that human beings operate according to incentives of reward and punishment. To deny this is to reveal that you don't know what a human being is, and excuse yourself from the table where the grownups are talking.

A good argument: Killing children is killing children.

While liberals want to link a school shooting to gun restrictions, conservatives should be pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of a President who sheds a tear for dead 6-year-olds after voting to kill 6-minute-olds who survive abortion attempts. If leftists care about dead children in a classroom (and I believe they do), they should also care about dead children in a clinic. Thousands of children are being killed every day in America, and the liberal response is to fight to get taxpayer money to kill more. They should be forced to reconcile the contradiction. It's no longer possible to argue that a fetus is not a living human being. Intentionally ending the life of an innocent human being is murder, whether it's done in the womb or the schoolroom. And it is the primary duty of government to protect innocent human life — as the leftists themselves show with their response to the Newtown murders.

I oppose school massacres as a matter of private conscience, but I won't impose my beliefs on others. That analogy may be insensitive and jarring, but it is coherent and appropriate.

Liberals, if you want to prevent lethal violence to the "least of these," you should start where it's most prevalent; not in the school, but in the abortion mill. Let's work together to write some laws to save some lives.

Follow me on Twitter: @FoundationsRad.

© Dan Popp


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