Arguing Gun Control with New York Mothers

Much like the noble salmon returns to its spawning grounds (no matter how fetid), I’m currently back in the New York City area to visit the folks. Shortly after I landed I was in a full-on gun control debate with my mother and after about an hour I had gotten her to understand my point of view. While I eked out a marginal victory, it didn’t last long. The next morning was my Mom’s annual tea party for all the local women she likes. That meant a flood of the most rabid Democrats you could possibly imagine. And they all knew about my gunpowder-fueled hobby. I didn’t stand a chance . . .

I tried to stay locked in my room watching the NRA’s press conference, but eventually I poked my head out to try and angle my way to the delicious mini-bagels with cream cheese (they just don’t taste right outside New York). It was about that time that I was cornered by the three most (politically) active women in the room, and they wasted no time.

“After what happened in Sandy Creek, how can you still own guns?” one asked. I replied with the Clinton-era statistics on defensive gun use, hoping that the reference to their favorite son of Arkansas would catch them off guard. It didn’t — they defaulted to the “if we can just save one life” argument. I countered with how many lives would be lost every year because of the inability to defend one’s self. I closed with the recent example of the woman in England who was murdered despite asking for police protection, and that seemed to resonate a little bit.

“I don’t believe that concealed carry could have stopped that guy,” one of them said. I used the recent examples of the mall shooter that was confronted by the CCWer and the San Antonio movie theater shooting, two cases where the body count would have been much higher if a good guy with a gun wasn’t present.

They seemed to concede the point, that an armed good guy could make all the difference. But as soon as we started to apply that same logic to schools, I hit a mental block. I used the same line from the NRA press conference about arming banks and members of Congress, but they waved off my attempts. Anything to do with schools and guns was a non-starter — even armed police.

I tried to make the point that they’re armed every single day anyway and we don’t hear any problems coming from that, but they defaulted to the old chestnut of “you want to have shootouts in the middle of the hallway!” It didn’t matter when I reminded them that someone shooting back is preferable to students being slaughtered, they didn’t like the idea. “It doesn’t feel right” they would respond.

That’s when I realized that I could never win. There is no logical argument that these women would listen to that would ever get them to change their minds. It doesn’t matter if a proposal would actually save lives and benefit society, they were letting their emotions run the game. Emotions colored with a touch of disdain for any Americans who don’t live in New York, that is.

When they asked me about my new friends in Texas, their first question was if they have all their teeth. It was something a different group remarked on when they visited North Carolina (“I’m surprised they had all their teeth!”). It was like a code word, asking for confirmation of their bias that the rest of the country was nothing but gun-owning, cousin-marrying white trash that doesn’t know any better and needs to be protected from themselves with laws.

We’re fighting an enemy that believes themselves to be morally superior, to be “better” than those who disagree. One who will not listen to any logic. They’re running on pure emotion and no matter how much education they’ve received, they aren’t ready to consider alternate points of view to their own — because their own point of view is the only “correct” groupthink that they will accept.

Facts, statistics, and human history are on our side, but this is still going to be an uphill battle because our opponents aren’t interested in any of those things.

We’ve been hoping that debate would work, that if we could simply discuss the issue with those who oppose us in a calm and rational manner that we could make them see the light. Well, I’ve done exactly that and I can officially report that it doesn’t work. Even after they accepted my facts and conceded to my arguments, their emotions still demanded disarmament.

This is going to get ugly.