Magician comedian and gun rights supporter Penn Jillette gets owned on a Comedy Central’s Nightly Show debate on gun rights. For one thing, it looks like he’s struggling (#tonematters). In this clip, Jillette attempts to draw a parallel between the “technology means the Second Amendment is outdated” argument by his millennial antagonist and the technological enhancements since the First Amendment was drafted. It’s the right approach, but incomplete – thanks to an interruption. He switches gears and concedes that “we’re evolving as people.” Which is where things go seriously wrong . . .

The Second Amendment to the Constitution works today because we’re not evolving as a people. Violent crime is down, but Americans face the same threat of government tyranny that they faced on May 29, 1790, the date the document was ratified. And there’s no guarantee that violent crime will stay down. And no guarantee that any individual American won’t face an individual act of violence – whether from a criminal or his or her government – even with violent crime rates at such a low level.

Jillette really loses the plot when he states “the First Amendment has been broadened tremendously beyond what the Founding Fathers intended.” I know what he’s trying to say, and don’t get me wrong I love this guy, and I’ve been in televised gun control debates and done worse, but the First Amendment has not been broadened. It’s the same First Amendment as always. It was broad enough back in the day and it’s broad enough now. Just like the Second Amendment.

Again, I don’t think Jillette should have given his assent to the idea that humans are evolving to being less violent. If anything American society may be evolving to be less violent – although there are parts of this country plagued by all manner of violent crime. The larger point: human nature is human nature. Just as human rights – including but not limited to the right to self-defense – remain human rights. Regardless of time, technology or social structures.

The question here: how do you shut down gun control advocates on TV, where time is limited and sound bites are all?

I don’t think we should engage them in a war of statistics. Point-counterpoint also seems pointless. These days, I began any interview with the Bruce Krafftian statement “Before we begin, I’d like to point out that the right to keep and bear arms does not depend on arguments about whether or not it’s dangerous for society. Nor is it subject to the democratic process. The ability to defend yourself with a gun is a fundamental human right. OK, so . . .”

Any other ideas? [h/t DrVino]

58 Responses to Question of the Day: How Do You Counter Gun Control Advocates on Television?

  1. I don’t love him-I don’t hate him. He is seriously NOT the go-to guy for guns. Just a very loud libertarian.Trying for a laugh… BTW what happened to the last post? I KNOW I saw something and not an episode of dementia…

    • Yeah. There was a post about some supposed Navy Seal threatening bodily harm on a someone. with his 300 confirmed kills and his legion of spies.

      Very funny actually.

      • He used his gorilla warfare tactics to bring down the might of the USMC on that post, which is nothing less than you’d expect from the top US sniper ever. He had 700 ways to kill that post (and that’s just with his bare hands), but he just black bagged it instead.

        What I want to know is what comment was that in a reply TO? That’s gotta be some hilarious stuff.

        • Yeah, but since he has the availability of the full arsenal of the Marine Corps, he will only use his hands as a last resort.

        • @Shandower
          “What I want to know is what comment was that in a reply TO? That’s gotta be some hilarious stuff.”

          Your comment was pretty good as well. Darn censorship

          A threat upon any of us gun owners on this forum can’t really be taken seriously by some of us unless that threat is from the state. WE are all armed men with armed friends, and most of us believe in BRING IT not BAN IT.

          Plus, most of us are hunters who take pride in making efficient kills within about a 16 inch lethality zone on a target hundreds of yards away. My deer rifle’s drop at 500 yards becomes negligible when that lethality zone is man sized.
          .

        • What I want to know is what comment was that in a reply TO?

          Me, too. Someone ‘fess up!

        • The one with the picture of the cop lady bending down looking at the cute little owl. It asked for captions. Most had to do with hands.

    • The comment in question in that missing article was a five-year-old internet meme someone had cut-and-pasted here. Apparently, TTAG’s editors hadn’t seen it before, so when it was pointed out to them that it wasn’t a real threat, but just somebody trying to be funny, they seem to have deleted the article.

  2. Well, in Canada we can point out that for all the fears and emotions brought up about gun misuse by legal owners, we had a far lower rate of crime back when the laws were far more lax. Time and time again we see laws based on irrational fears, and when unconstrained by those laws, we don’t see the violence imagined.

    Of course it would have to be rephrased to something that fits a soundbite.

    Maybe the simplest position is that group punishment for individual misdeeds is wrong- especially when the individual (some gangster) has nothing to do with the larger group (law abiding gun owners).

  3. Just do what they do when losing: ridicule. Penn is usually top form and crushes with logic, which this little wet-nose uses none of. He’s all emotion and zero reason, as is the norm with his ilk. If we hold the 2nd amendment to their arguments, then we have to do the same for all of them, and honestly, I really don’t think this is about the 2nd anymore; I think millenials like this kid want the entire constitution done away with from the 1st amendment straight on down the line.

    • Honestly, though, as with any debate, just stay calm, don’t elevate your voice and avoid machine-gunning responses to give yourself time to think. Let them argue based on emotion; they’re better at it. Play to your strengths: logic, reason, facts and statistics.
      Logical people are at a disadvantage in this Internet Age. We have to prepare and have things in order; statists just have to yell and get emotional. Oh, and lie, lie, lie.

    • “I think millenials like this kid want the entire constitution done away with from the 1st amendment straight on down the line.”

      Close, but what they really want is for the Constitution’s protections to only apply to themselves and people with whom they agree.

    • Penn & Teller’s “BS” show on gun control was much better-produced.
      Look at it this way. Penn was made Johnny-on-the-spot on this clip, which isn’t in his favor. He’s not good at improvisation. He’s a stage magician ferchrissake, improv isn’t really in his wheelhouse. When he has time to prepare and construct an argument he can be extremely convincing, but thinking on his feet is clearly not something he’s particularly good at doing.

      It’s not a slam against Jillette–I really like the guy and find him entertaining and intelligent. It’s just that this kind of verbal sparring takes time and practice, and it’s not something he ever took the time or practice.

  4. Maybe the approach should be to stop them with a question, “What problem are you trying to solve?” If the answer is “gun violence”, then respond with, “Does that make other violence ok? Such as the 25% of murders committed without guns?” Of course not, but we can stop those 75% of gun murders from happening. “There’s no actual evidence that background checks reduce murders. Why can’t we focus on the people committing all types of violence, rather than the implements of their violence?”

    • In my experience it’s sometimes even easier than that.

      People focus on the “trending death(s)” in the media and forget that people get shot to death all the time. At a much greater frequency than spree kills. Big difference is that the guns used are illegal. Any type of new check or law might make you feel good, and might stop a few spree killings a year, but it does nothing to stop the thousands of killings that occur with illegal stuff. It might actually CAUSE a few deaths when people in bad areas get denied access to self protection, but that is a guess.

      Check this out:

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/04/new-jersey-gun-laws-dont-curb-violence-in-camden/2113737/

      In spite of NJ’s iron-fisted gun regulations Camden is still a hole of violence and crime. Criminals DGAF about any laws.

      • “…people get shot to death all the time. At a much greater frequency than spree kills. Big difference is that the guns used are illegal. Any type of new check or law might make you feel good, and might stop a few spree killings a year, but it does nothing to stop the thousands of killings that occur with illegal stuff.”

        First point – where does the Second Amendment say anything about which arms are legal or illegal? If the government that the 2A was intended to restrain retains the power to decide which arms the RKBA applies to then the entire amendment is moot, since they can just go ahead and make every weapon that might be effective against their tyranny “illegal”.

        Second point – The focus again on the tool utilized is a wrong target. The target is the fact that injuring or killing people, other than in self defense, is illegal, regardless of the weapon or means utilized by the criminal committing the act.

  5. You cannot.
    Liberal arguments involve a shouting match in which you must be the loudest in order to be heard. And the moment you make sense, the moment you use logic over emotion, the anti-gun side of the debate devolves into a hydra of logical fallacies and even louder screaming. They ignore any valid points, and cry about feelings and fear.

    Then make penis jokes.

    So quit giving them a voice, and quit being there to listen.

    • Internet arguing and TV arguing are spectator sports. The lib/progs already have a voice, whether we show up for the game or not — heck, they own most of the arena.

      You’re right in that it’s impossible to win an argument with people who are impervious to logic and fly into hysterics the second they suspect someone else might agree with you. But we’re not arguing to convince Jon Stewart or any other progressive talking head. We’re arguing for the people who are watching.

      If some of the spectators come away thinking that the gun guy made some points that are worth thinking about or that the anti-gun guy was an ass (as they almost always are), then you’ve succeeded.

  6. Not impressed with the replacements…the musket logic. Suppose the “musket” had a bayonet, which was just as effective as said musket. And as RF noted, nothing says violence will remain low. And back in my day we had the McDuffie riot. It ended on a bridge when the rioters cross a bridge and the civilian neighborhood armed with shotguns blocked their way. That’s how you end violence…threat of deadly force.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Miami_riots

  7. The best way to argue with anyone anywhere is to force them to think, or over think. When confronted with an outlandish position typically proposed by a liberal elitist, respond with a question. You do this because it forces them to back up what they have to say logic or facts, of witch they have little. For example, liberal screams the second amendment is outdated. Don’t automatically counter- calmly ask them, “now why do you think that?” Then they’ll state something false, or raw emotion, and you can begin to pick a part their argument in piece meal. Think of arguing as a battle, where your goal is to draw your enemy out into the open as much as possible, because out in the open, faced with reality, the liberal argument will collapse. The goal should be for you to force this argument out in the open in a calm matter, where you can then destroy it, while they throw a temper tantrum.

    • “Think of arguing as a battle, where your goal is to draw your enemy out into the open as much as possible, because out in the open, faced with reality, the liberal argument will collapse.”

      This just might be the most critical element that I have ever come across. Force them to expose the silliness of their thinking. In other words give them enough rope to hang themselves.

  8. We’re evolving as a people? How, prey tell? Yeah, prey, not pray. Because we have the most blood per population within living memory, by those denying that there is a G-d.

    Predators on other human being, including the systematic extermination of the unborn. Over fifty million and counting, in this country alone. Do you think someone that could justify the murder of the most helpless among us, could just as easily justify the murder of those that have survived the womb?

    Piracy on the high seas, Human slavery, the mass slaughter in the name of Allah(or G-d) and no G-d alike, rape, pillage, plunder by criminals in the street and by those in the halls of government.

    History will look back at this time and call it one of the bloodiest and most savage times of human existence, and some of the greatest savagery has been and continues to be perpetrated by the countries supposedly the most “Civilized”.

    So, no, debating from the place that says we have “evolved” as a society is debating from a place of delusion. And the need of effective weapons to defend oneself from the predators, both in the street and the predators in government is as needed as it ever was.

    • “Predators on other human being, including the systematic extermination of the unborn. Over fifty million and counting, in this country alone. Do you think someone that could justify the murder of the most helpless among us, could just as easily justify the murder of those that have survived the womb?”

      Where to start? At the risk of annoying the religious, let me point out that He, that is God ( not G-d) seems fine with ignoring the murder of 50 million unborn babies. I do not care to pursue that any further. Another debate for another time.

      Those same Liberal/Progressives that justify the murder of unborn children are the folks you will find outside prisons and courthouses protesting capital punishment. Go figure.

      Those same Liberal/Progressives are the ruling elite, and have been for half a century, of the major urban areas of our country and have done nothing effective to end the gang violence and other crime in those cities.

      It would certainly seem that, G-d nothwithstanding, they have other agendas than protecting human life and I strongly suspect that their gun control stance has much more to do with protecting their positions of power and privilege than it has to do with “saving even ONE life!”

  9. The long and the short of it. TV is an old medium. The internet is the new medium, so keep publishing good/interesting articles, and supporting great Youtube channels.

  10. Please correct me if I am wrong, but the musket arguement used by liberals is incorrect.

    I know the army issued muskets as they were cheaper to produce and designed for bayonet use after volleys.

    But if I remember the Volunteer miltia often brought they own rifles which where far more accurate and better distance weapons. I believe a large number, if not all of the early cannons came from private owners.

    So when the founding fathers wrote the 2nd amendment they has witnessed the benefit of having the masses have BETTER weapons than what the government had.

    • I would say private citizens had access to better small arms than what the military typically used up to WWI, or maybe even the 1930s. Right around the time the government started legislating what kind of guns people could own. Hmm…

  11. I like what the author stated in an article that was posted a few days ago: Screw you. I’m waiting for the L.A. City gangbangers to turn in their now illegal high capacity magazines.

  12. If you don’t already have a verbatim ready rebuttal for the top twenty anti-gun arguments, then you shouldn’t have a seat at the table.

    There’s nothing wrong with statistics, either. The antis employ them, except they just toss out something they made up or at best something published by other antis. You need to have ready a concise three point deconstruction of the flaws in the study or stat mentioned, showing that you’ve done your homework while the anti has only regurtitated a talking point.

    Follow up with a single and succinct counter statistic, then stop talking. The anti will fume and flounder. The audience will note the difference in performance and equate it with rectitude on the underlying topic.

    • This is a good point. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with responding with hard facts. A few simple things we should all be prepared to respond with in public is some of the more simpler pro gun facts such as: The crime rate has been dropping for 20+ years, law abiding gun owners account for very little crime, “scary black rifles” are rarely used in any crime, and most importantly the “gun violence rate” is grossly inflated by suicide, officer shootings, self defense, and gang violence. None of which will be changed by gun control.

    • I’d love to see this list. Can TTAG make such a list? Can TTAG posit “We want to make a list, what are your inputs” so the assertions can be vetted, then summarized, then posted?

      It would just be great to see a, ahem, “living document”, of top 20 arguments, responses to them, and one more round (responses to responses) – vetted, with sources. Maybe it gives the anti too much ammunition, but the faster you can reduce them to the babbling “if it saves just one child”, the faster you win, because that’s an intangible.

      • Yes, this would be a valuable resource and could be a jewel of the “Facts About Guns” information resource page on TTAG.

  13. Terrible arguments on both sides, “nation of laws”….really? He was double teamed and he would done badly even if it had been 1 on 1.

  14. I’m still waiting for someone on the pro-gun side to ask an anti a simple question….

    “Why isn’t there a push to ban digital cameras whenever a pedophile gets caught with child pornography? No one needs 20 megapixels to take family photos. 64 gigabyte memory cards only have one purpose…to make it easier for pedophiles to take advantage of their victims. Why can’t we pass common sense legislation and stop these predators from buying high-powered zoom lenses online with no background check whatsoever? No one needs an fully-automatic focus camera to take pictures of their vacation. These cameras are for professional photographers only. We’re better than this.”

    I can’t foresee any possible comeback for it.

    • It is no more difficult to kill someone with a 20MP camera than a 5MP camera. In fact, either would have to be used contrary to its design to be a weapon. I get your point, but it is not comparable.
      However people DO get killed all the time with automobiles. There is no reason any automobile needs a large capacity bomb (gas tank) on board. We need to limit their capacity to 10 liters or less. Larger tanks will be confiscated on sight, oh, with the vehicle they are attached to of course.

      • I disagree PeterW. Criminals use firearms without firing a shot all the time to gain compliance from their victims. Thus their firearm is a critical tool that enables their violent crime. This is an EXACT parallel to the pedophile that uses digital cameras to capture still and motion picture images of heinous violent crimes on children. The digital camera is the pedophile’s critical tool that enables their violent crime.

        That fact that criminals sometimes shoot and kill their victim is irrelevant. Violent criminals use firearms in 100% of their attacks where they used a firearm and that firearm was a critical tool in their attack. Pedophiles use digital cameras in 100% of their attacks where they used a digital camera and that digital camera was a critical tool in their attack. Does this make the parity apparent?

        The intended purpose or design of the criminal’s tool matters not.

  15. There isn’t much you can do when the other side is so entrenched. I usually ask what’s the point of more laws if the ones we have aren’t being enforced and follow up with asking how their proposed measures would prevent the shootings we’ve already had. Mentioning that the Sandy Hook shooter broke 42 laws that day usually shuts them up. Considering that the big points they are asking for are already laws (background checks for instance) when you ask for specifics their arguments fall apart quickly. You run into trouble when you let them spout generalizations and wander around to avoid getting into specifics.

    Most of the “common sense gun control” arguments are built on lies and half truths so it’s just a matter of backing them into a corner on specific points. Going point to point doesn’t work because it allows them to get away with hitting flawed talking points without actually defending them. If you just get to the chase it’s harder for them to run from the reality of their arguments.

  16. Disclaimer: I am an alpha male, who happens to be humble and actually cares about the well being of strangers.

    I cry a little bit when I am in the presence of a hoplophobe, and am glad I a have a gun for these encounters with irrational individuals. I enjoy being engaged with lively conversation everyday with armed Americans, who are exercising their civic duty.

    The hoplophobe are not Americans and they will never be able to understand what it means to have the choice to say, “No I do Not Consent”, to any man, which is what America was founded upon.

  17. I don’t know how this would work on TV, but I’ve shut a few people up by focusing on the logic of punishing the law-abiding. Start with the question “If I gave you a gun, would you use it to kill someone?” Most people have high opinions of themselves and won’t admit they can’t be trusted with a gun. Next ask them “Imagine you were angry enough to kill, would a lack of a gun stop you?” Most would agree there are plenty of alternate methods available to would-be assailants. Question three is “Tell me again how limiting law-abiding peoples’ access to guns will make a difference?”

    I won’t say this converts people on the spot. But, it has worked to shut out the arguing. I’ve even had people wander into uncomfortable territory by suggesting it is only some kind of people that shouldn’t have guns…absolutely priceless when they realize what they just said!

    • Stop watching television. I did 30 years ago, and since then mostly dont find much there that is useful.

  18. Although the quote from Jeff Snyder is long, I think it’s that principle that needs to be put in a sound bite:

    “”For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to
    accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals.
    Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate
    themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding.”

    “To ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and
    law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own
    conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the
    law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the
    lawless will allow…” ”

    Because you can apply it to other amendments. If due process and the right to a fair trial allows some criminals to get away with crimes, should we do away with that?

    If some folks urge others to violence, do we all lose the right to free speech?
    Because criminal hide things, do we all give up the right to privacy and unreasonable search and seizure?

    Do we allow rights to be defined and limited not by the conduct of the law-abiding, but by the criminal?

    • Ding ding! I’ve been slowly testing this point out for a while now. If you ask an anti “Should we get rid of any constitutional rights that potentially harm public safety?” They will, in the heat of the moment, say yes. Then you say: “what about the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments? Do you really think requiring judges to sign warrants, jury trials, miranda rights, etc. are making the public safer? Of course not. They make it way harder to put criminals in jail. So let’s repeal those too!”

      If anything, gun rights are better for the public safety than those three. We can point to tons of self defense stories. But if you watch police shows (almost all produced by liberals) the bill of rights is basically the show’s main villain.

  19. Try it this way:

    The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental human right. It is even singled out for special protection in our constitution, along with a few other basic rights. Because it is a fundamental human right, it cannot be taken away by passing laws. This is just like gay marriage or abortion, which are not even specifically protected in our constitution.

    If the opponent tries to say keeping and bearing arms is not a fundamental human right, point out that every right in the bill of rights is a fundamental human right. That’s why they’re in there. Other fundamental rights like gay marriage and abortion get protection from government infringement through the restrictions imposed on the government by constitution in the exact same way as gun rights get protected.

    Many, if not most, people in America don’t like gay marriage or abortion, but the government’s not allowed to stop you from getting either one because of our constitutional system. Guns are no different.

  20. How do you counter gun-control advocates on television? You have to put in the time and do your homework. It is a test and you have to study and prepare for that test just like any other test.

  21. You don’t. You can’t. They believe that only the state can be trusted with lethal force, so you must be disarmed and they will take whatever they can get by whatever means necessary. They are blind to the larger threat of the state because the state is their true deity. You can only tolerate them until it’s time not to.

  22. As for specific points and arguments, just point out their failures. Examples:

    (1) Gun-control proponents favor creating various laws to stop violent crime with firearms as the weapon — or at least to punish offenders and “get them off the streets”.

    We have concrete rock-solid facts that tell us such a solution is utterly impotent. We have laws on the books that prohibit rape, assault, robbery, and murder. And yet victims reported more than 1 million violent crimes to law enforcement agencies last year according to FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Obviously, laws do not stop violent crime. Furthermore, the recidivism rate among criminals is more than 90%. How many times have we seen stories about violent criminals who had multiple previous violent crime convictions and were in prison — and yet they were out on the streets to commit their latest heinous violent crime? Our criminal justice system failed to “get them off the streets”. The net result: our revolving-door criminal justice system does not come anywhere close to stopping criminal attacks, regardless of what weapon a violent criminal uses.

    (2) Gun-grabber says that we don’t NEED a certain type of firearm or feature.

    Tell the gun-grabber, “How DARE you tell me what I need or don’t need! Where do you get off thinking you have any authority over my decisions for MY life?!?!? What I may or may not ‘need’ is none of your damn business! Do I proclaim that you don’t need a car and then demand that government use violent force to take your car away? Do I proclaim that you (or your wife/mother/daughter as appropriate) doesn’t need certain feminine products and then demand that government use violent force to take your/their feminine products away?”

    Furthermore, what makes them an expert on what sort of firearm you may or may not need to adequately defend yourself or your family in the situations that you face? What knowledge, training, and experience do they have? Show them that they are not even qualified to determine what you need — above and beyond the fact that it is downright disgusting that they would dare to tell you what you do or do not need.

    (3) Gun-grabber claims that statistics are not in your favor.

    Whether the statistics are or are not in my favor is NOT your (gun grabber’s) concern. I will evaluate the risks and benefits of firearm ownership and choose for myself. Who the Hell are you to decide the best choice for me?

    When you boil it all down, it is patently offensive that gun-grabbers try to disarm us. They insult our basic humanity. We need to call them on it. It is patently offensive and an insult to our humanity when a “supremacist” denigrates a target demographic. Whether that “supremacist” is a Neo-Nazi white supremacist talking down to a black person or a Progressive talking down to a firearm owner is immaterial. Their attack — and it is an attack on our humanity — is rude, impolite, and offensive. We need to hold them accountable for the attack. In other words we need to counter attack.

  23. Here’s the minimum…

    – Have the wording of some points crafted ahead of time. That’s not cheating. It’s TV, and will get edited three times: during the interview, during the “editing”, and while people watch. It’s like the big deal physical laws – great amounts of thinking to craft something clear, concise, accurate and universal.

    – Look at *all* the thrusts of a “question.” On TV there are almost always 3 or more. Then respond to the one you want to. “But we shouldn’t have crazy people getting guns, surely you agree with that?” “Yeah, it looks like we knew that guy was crazy a long time ago. I don’t see the word ‘crazy’ in anything you are proposing, which makes it kind of a side show. Or did I miss that part?”

    – Don’t accept the premise of the question, or any statement or assertion. “So, as a gun rights advocate, I assume you have a different view…” It’s usually not that blatant, but always there if you listen hard. (There’s a pretty good canon on *implied meaning* mainly of things *omitted yet understood*. It’s a standard propaganda trick. Start with the Suzette Hayden-Elgin.)

    The thing is if they don’t say it outright, you get to understand the implication any way you want; whatever’s best for your: “Gun rights advocate? Good lord, no. I’m not a professional advocate. I have a day job.”

    Thing is, even spokesthings for the NRA – generally idiots, but still – aren’t “advocates” in the most extreme meaning. “Gun rights advocate? Advocate? With guns, I mostly teach target shooting if you mean things involving the NRA. I do go shooting on my own all the time, to keep my skills up for hunting season.” “Member of the NRA? Well, sure. I meet a lot of other people who shoot, through them. Also, ammo discounts, sometimes.” “Industry sponsorship? – I pay dues. I don’t work for the NRA, they work for me. Good thing, too. You seem to have some strange ideas about my hobby.”

    – Use images, and mockery in the form of a joke wins. Since TV is a performance, that’s OK. One problem is that inexperienced people treat a TV “discussion” like either a “discussion” or a “discussion in public.” You don’t mock another one of your host’s guests while hanging around the grill. That’s rude. Thing is, TV “discussion” is theater – it’s a morality play. Different rules.

    – Always, always, always make them make their point. It’s similarly polite in regular social situations to accept the obvious implication or assumption of what someone else is saying. BUT, on TV, advocates always *assume* their weakest point or argument. Make them own it.

    Here’s an example:
    The schtick around “evolved” is to recognize that it’s a ploy to shift the turf of the argument. And that it’s ill-founded: “evolved” can mean whatever they want it to mean, and will end up meaning whatever supports their point, makes you look like a buffoon, or both if they can.

    So, agree with them, and reductio ad absurdum: “Oh, of course we have evolved. Indeed, one thing we like about modern sporting rifles — the kind you can’t get under the SAFE act, for example — is there’s a place to put your third hand.”

    And now, they’re on the back foot. Evolved how? Well, *society* has evolved so it’s less violent. “OK, then why do you need to ban guns?” Oh, no, society has evolved to become more violent & nihilistic. “OK, so more guns for the good guys to protect themselves?” Oh, no, we need to get rid of the guns. “Really why do you want people to get killed by BG’s, given that we’re more violent now, or haven’t evolved so are just as violent as ever, or … I’m confused, what’s your point, again?” Oh, no, because good guys don’t and can’t protect themselves. “Wow. That’s a pretty low opinion of your fellow humans. Who do *you* know? Maybe you and your friends shouldn’t have guns, if you are that irresponsible.”

    But, but, but, the good guys having guns net doesn’t protect them. “Really? That doesn’t track with any of the data I’ve seen. So, you’re saying if there’s a gun around, grandma is more likely to shoot herself in the foot than any of us is to protect ourselves with it?”

    The thing is, if they don’t have a case, make them make the case they don’t have. But do it with jokes. It’s unkind improv. “Yes, and…” but make them your straight man every time.

    But, but, but, study with people going through police combat training… “Oh, I saw that. I wonder, how many of the ‘perps’ would have just left when they saw a gun? In real life, I mean?”

    Specific to the “evolution” argument and first amendment “expansion”…
    “Well, technology *has* evolved, while the principle has not, not at all. Because the principle is well stated, and universal it keeps being relevant. You get to say what you want even on Twitter, even though there wasn’t a Twitter 200 years ago. The point is you get to say what you want, however that works for you, and whoever you want to talk to, and the government doesn’t get to decide what you can’t – ‘infringe’ is the word.”

    God help them if they give you any excuse to continue, by responding…

    “The point is entirely that *the people* have first an inherent right to ‘free speech’, whatever the medium (– optional “and the bill of rights enumerates some of the rights that already exist. It doesn’t ‘grant’ or even ‘confer’ anything, but let’s let that one go for now…) and that the absolute worst people to determine when there might be an exception are the government. Can you see it? First, everybody who doesn’t agree with me, shut up, it’s the law. Hey, if it’s something the people want, they’ll ask for it.

    “It doesn’t say ‘haggling for prices, written on sheepskin’ precisely because it’s a principal that applies as our technologies and habits evolve.”

    But, but, but everybody’s asking for gun control.

    “Well, no, or it would have passed either federal chamber. I do think the 100,000,000-or so Americans in households that own guns might be a bit miffed at not counting as part of ‘everybody.’ Good thing for you they’re remarkably peaceful people. Were they as violence-prone as non-gun owners you might get shot.”

    But, but, but second amendment isn’t free speech. Guns.(!)

    “The second amendment works exactly the same way as the first: inherent right, enumerated in the constitution to restrict the people prone to forget that.”

    There is no move from here for the BG’s, especially if you have some sound bites t-ed up.

    But. but, but an assault weapon isn’t a musket, which is what they had back then.

    “Oh, you’ve been listening to ‘musket’ Morgan, haven’t you. It doesn’t say ‘assault weapon’ right were it doesn’t say ‘musket’, which is the point. It’s ‘arms.’ It says ‘arms’ because you have the right to get yourself whatever degree of parity you’d like with BG’s, who are unlikely to use muskets these days. This is that evolution thing you brought up. (<- In polite conversation that riff would be just mean. This is theater, so go for it. – ed) The point isn't that you can have a musket. The point is that *we* shouldn't force you to be at a disadvantage to the BG's you encounter."

    The game is to go with them, and judo it, playing to the audience, because it's entertainment. And *don't be nice like you would in a dinner conversation in polite company* because *this isn't that.*

    But, but, but, pacifism. Defense through violence is horrible.

    "Well, a whole bunch of people disagree with you. You gonna shoot them so you can take away their guns – sorry have cops shoot them for you? 'Pacifism' – I do not think that word means what you think it means."

    etc.

    It's a shame about Penn. He thought he was having a discussion, seeking understanding and common ground, when he was playing a role in an entertainment set piece. Ironically, this stuff is essentially doing magic.

  24. Given the environment, I think Penn did a credible job defending gun rights. The producers put together a show segment that was deliberately structured to be a viper pit – – – with Jillette as the target. Gun-controllers tend to hew to a well-worn narrative that’s dictated by a strong confiscatory dogma. When you get into an argument with those folks, they’re rarely going to spring anything on you that you haven’t heard. What they will do, as we saw in the segment, is try to punch all of your emotional buttons. The key strategy to success in one-on-one or even pile-on arguments like this is simple: Don’t. Get. Mad. If your opponent can get your torqued up emotionally they’ll soon have you making mistakes and the emphasis will shift to your emotional state and not the topic at hand. Then you lose.

    It was interesting to watch the woman in the video smugly trot out the close-the-loophole meme—which her producers had obviously spent time coaching her to do—-and present it as though it were an Ultimate Truth. It obviously isn’t but, by that point, Jillette was so frazzed that he missed the most obvious counter argument: With 250 million plus guns already in private possession, what purpose will increased gun registration measures hope to accomplish? At best it’s a symbolic gesture, nothing more.

    So who could have done a better job? Ted Nugent is a formidable debater. He uses his intelligence and radical bombast to win arguments against even the best prepared libtard opponents. If you want a good example of how it’s done without throwing thunderbolts, watch how Ted Cruz operates in an argument. He’ll be calm and deliberate where the ‘Nuge is anything but calm. It’s always interesting to see how Cruz can maneuver an argument so that with his last question he calmly and happily hands his opponent their head. What these two entirely different personalities have in comment is that they are excellent debaters because They Never Get Mad. For a master-class in how debating is done, spend some time on Youtube watching The Oxford Union debates. They seldom fail to impress.

  25. Big toys for big boys…….. but I never met a gun owner that had any sense or any brains. They all must be high school drop outs…… that’s been proven over a million times already in the last 25 years. How can you trust a moron with a gun? People aren’t safe enough to have a gun….they drink, take drugs, have tempers, have jealous rages, have mental issues, get pissed off in traffic, they like to argue, beat their wives, fly off the handle, smoke, and see black helicopters in their dreams and over their shoulders. They hate the government and law enforcement, and are scared of their own shadows…… How can you trust a person with a gun when 90% of us are covered by one or more of the above.

  26. “how do you counter gun control advocates on television”

    I don’t think they can hear me no matter how loud I yell.

  27. I don’t counter them unless pressed, usually better to let the baloney fade away. Typically I keep it simple and not get involved in whatever they may spout because I can’t. I can’t because I can’t counter propaganda and lies.

    However: I remind people the Bill of Rights are Rights, not privileges and how different this is. I also might remind them the BOR’s is a foundational structure which evolves time, time does not evolve the BOR’s. Evolving the BOR’s would amount to completely changing what the US was designed to be and would in effect end what is known as the USA., e.g. it is what it is and if you don’t like it, move out.

  28. There is nothing you can do. The other panelists shut him down, and the audience was on board with it.

    Is there a teevee equivalent of a Kangaroo Court? Because that’s what it was.

  29. The decision to defend myself, my hearth and those under my care is a human right. What tool I choose to carry upon my person to accomplish those ends is none of anyone else’s business unless I have occasion to employ it. If I create trouble or harm someone with that tool who is not involved in the conflict then I must answer to the justice system for that. You cannot manufacture the right to be forcibly protected from random harm by violating already existing rights which are granted to all humans which cannot be given away or taken. You can hold those who cause you injury or violate your rights responsible and we have a pretty well developed legal system that is quite useful for such things.

    or to put things massively more simply in a single reasoned argument based on a pair of simple axioms:

    Nobody can protect you from evil by removing your ability to defend yourself from it. Some people like being evil. That being the case, it follows that it’s a good idea to at least admit that sort of thing to yourself even if you don’t like it or do anything in your own life about it.

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