Friday, May 31, 2013

Guns and Ricin

Fox News is reporting (here) that ricin-tainted letters sent to President Obama and New York Mayor Bloomberg were in response to their support for minor gun control legislation that would merely broaden existing gun registration requirements. Other gun registration opponents have sent death threats to legislators (see here). 

The resort to ricin-tainted letters and death threats says something, I think, about the quality (really, the lack of quality) of arguments against universal gun registration. While all other rights in the Bill of Rights are subject to balancing against the needs of public safety - for instance, you can't cry "fire" in a crowded theater (unless there actually is a fire) - at least some gun-control opponents decry any balancing of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. They want it to remain as unbalanced as they themselves appear to be. 

I wonder whether Wayne LaPierre and his fellow gun salesmen at the NRA will speak out against attempts to kill President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg and death threats against legislators. If not, we can only assume that they consider violence and threats of violence as legitimate forms of argumentation.


  1. I don't think you want to judge the quality of arguments in an area by the most extreme, least articulate views available. Nor should the NRA necessarily feel an obligation to condemn these actions. "Guilt by association" is pretty sloppy moral thinking, and here there is not even evidence of association. If the responsible party turns out to be a member of the NRA, the the NRA should be expected to speak out (and even then the association is pretty weak. We can't judge the AARP by the extreme political views of some of its members, and the same seems true for the NRA).

  2. Hi Mike, I respectfully disagree. I don't claim that NRA officials "cause" criminal behavior, but their often extreme rhetoric certainly helps to create a climate in which such occurrences become more likely.




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