Common Sense pills
Take a handful and call me in the morning. (Bigstock)
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By MarkPA

Gun control advocates speak constantly about “common sense gun laws.” The phrase runs trippingly off the tongue.

Gun rights advocates respond that most existing gun laws, and all proposed laws, defy “common sense.”

This phrase “common sense”, as used in the gun debate, contradicts the plain meaning of the term, so it obscures any honest search for truth. A definition of the phrase is: “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”.

But to be characterized as “common”, a belief or conclusion must be a consensus, at least by a super-majority of those polled. It need only be a “simple” “perception” of the facts, not the result of thorough dispassionate investigation and analysis.

In any case, common sense may boil down to either:

1) the best we can know of the subject under prevailing circumstances, or . . .

2) nonsense, complete error

There is much that meets the first definition. There is a consensus that Presidents Trump and Clinton are womanizers. And, that Vice President Biden cannot speak without putting his foot in his mouth.

Likewise, much meets the second definition. For example, the common belief that the human body breathes to satisfy its craving for oxygen. It needs oxygen to function, but that’s not what drives respiration. We breathe because our bodies abjure carbon dioxide, which is the byproduct of consuming oxygen.

That we so vigorously debate the wisdom of gun control proposals, requires rejecting their characterization as “common sense”. There is no consensus.  

Expert opinion and “scientific studies” don’t necessarily reveal whether a common sense proposition is truth or nonsense. The public health community holds a virtual consensus that every conceivable gun law is effective. Criminologists and economists who have studied the topic from their disciplines’ perspectives remain unconvinced.

The “science” of gun control is not settled as public health professionals wish. It can only be settled by logic and facts—and at this point in the debate the evidence for gun control effectiveness is wishcraft.

Most “gun violence” research published in public health journals is junk science and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If it did, researchers from other fields would produce similar analyses and come to similar conclusions.

All that sort of so-called “science” is political. The mathematical concept known as “statistical significance” was created by Sir Ronald Fisher. It became a mainstream synonym for validity, but today is seen as of more dubious “significance”. (Statistical significance at the 95% confidence level means that there is a 5% probability that a study’s results are coincidental, not a guarantee that they are correct.)

Why is there such diversity of beliefs about matters causing such fierce political debate?

We are all convinced that we reason our way to correct conclusions based on evidence and logic. But psychologists assure us this is nothing more than an illusion. Our decision is based on feeling.

If psychologists were mistaken about this, there would be little reason for diversity of beliefs. We would all mostly agree on any topic where there exists a reasonable body of evidence and a rational basis for reasoning about it. But we do not.

Should we be making life-and-death public policy based on how we, as a body politic, “feel” about an issue?  That certainly doesn’t seem like “common sense.” But if we answer “Yes”, we have to accept the consequences that follow. Law-making based on feelings would have no objective Constitutional basis.

We would do well to ponder the remarks of Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention in 1787:

“. . . [T]he older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them, it is so far error.

“. . . . [W]hen you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.  . . .

“On the whole, sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the convention who may still have objections to it, would, with me, on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility . . . .“

If Ben Franklin recognized that all men have “prejudices, passions, errors of opinion and selfish views”, how can anti-gun scientists and politicians feel so arrogant about theirs?


‘MarkPA’  is trained in economics, a life-long gun owner, NRA Instructor and Massad Ayoob graduate. He is inspired by our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and holds that having the means to defend oneself and one’s community is vital to securing them.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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    • Yes, I agree that voting should come with the requirement of proving you are a citizen and that you live in the legislative/political district where you are trying to exercise your duty as a citizen.

      Apparently, it is claimed that there are citizens who do not have the required means of identification available to them. This is used as an argument to claim that requiring voters to identify themselves is a form of discrimination.

      My response to these claims is “Please explain these problems?” and “Proof of citizenship is not something I am willing to budge on, so how do you propose to help these people get the documents they need?”.

      My angle is simple common sense. In our representative democracy (yup, that’s a REPUBLIC), it is essential that all those eligible to vote do so. So if there really are people who are eligible but somehow excluded for lack of documents, those that claim such are responsible to offer up a way of fixing the problem.

      • …and if we can’t be burdened to prove who we are and where we live to vote, why must we be burdened to prove who we are to purchase a gun or to carry one (in certain jurisdictions)?

        • Or take part in any /gov program for aid? Or travel?

          It’s the racist socialists and their beliefs that poc can’t navigate the world without a benevolent white big brother guiding them.

        • Got me, I don’t understand it either. But if it is a problem, those claiming it should be asked to explain it in detail.

          I want citizens to vote, if any citizen is prevented from doing so for some bureaucratic unintended consequence short of being a prohibited felon or the like, then explain it to me.

          Just don’t do this “DISCRIMINATIUON!!!!” song and dance, tell me how the the problem happens and offer up a fix.

          Simple enough.

      • That problem has been solved in many places by the simple and expedient measure of registering people to vote when they get or renew their drivers license or ID. Of course many of the places that do that also gladly provide drivers licenses and IDs to non citizens, and register them to vote at the same time.

      • If these politicians that you speak of cared so much for those poor, helpless souls that just can’t get a government issued ID, then I’m sure those politicians and community organizers are working furiously around the clock to solve this problem, right, Right? If they aren’t, then it’s obvious how insincere these people are. Why doesn’t the media call them out on that every single time they go down that road? Hmm.

      • Enuf,

        Enthusiastically agree. All those folk out there registering people to vote can help make sure the registrants have proof of citizenship.

        There is no good reason not to require it. It is common sense. Oh, wait, that is a different TTAG thread. 😉

      • AFAIK, every State DMV will issue you a State Photo ID free of charge, or at minimal cost. I’m sure those who cannot drive can find a friend or relative to take them to the DMV. There is no excuse for not have a Photo ID.

    • Leftists will call you racist, while they insist that certain race of people is not smart enough to get an ID card or DL. Makes total sense to nobody. But hey, requiring equality of opportunity is already called sexist, racist and homophobic by leftists, nothing new there.

      As for my opinion, only eligible citizens should vote. And if someone can’t be bothered to get the ID, or is too mentally challenged to do so, maybe he really is too stupid to vote, whatever color his skin might be.

  1. Common sense is not a blessing. It is a curse. It’s a curse because those of us that have it have to put up with those that don’t.

    • “If Ben Franklin recognized that all men have “prejudices, passions, errors of opinion and selfish views”, how can anti-gun scientists and politicians feel so arrogant about theirs?”
      Anti-gun scientists and politicians are not interested in facts, they hear but they don’t listen. Instead they rely on feelings and the belief that the end goal desired relative to guns justifies the means, including: turning a deaf ear, lying, using misinformation as if it were factual and accepting conclusions and opinions based on generalizations that are totally void of a significant number of examples. If the anti folk accepted the facts, they would not be anti nor arrogant in their opinions.

  2. Once they have found a way to disarm criminals while eliminating aggressive tendencies we can discuss disarming the weak and vulnerable. Until that day arrives guns are the best way to even the playing field and convince those with ill intend to back off.

    There is little sense in gun bans and restrictions aimed at the law abiding. About as useful as a sailboat in a desert.

    • “There is little sense in gun bans and restrictions aimed at the law abiding.”

      Oh, no, there is a use. Those that are law-abiding might listen to their conscience and use them against whoever is currently in charge.

      “About as useful as a sailboat in a desert.”

      See above…

    • Geoff is right. The gun control is aimed at law abiding citizens to take power away from them and increase power of the government.

      Crime, suicides and accidents are only a convenient pretext for implementation of ever tighter public disarmament schemes. Don’t get fooled, if leftists cared about crime, they would go against gangs which commit large majority of violence.

  3. All existing gun laws, and all proposed laws, defy “common sense.” and are unConstitutional,PERIOD.

  4. When I used to teach construction safety and do accident investigation as part of my job one of my pet hates was the person who said safety was “common sense”. My polite reply was “then why am I here investigating a injury”.

    Grabbers try to use all sorts of pseudo science to justify their beliefs. Sense and science have nothing to do with it.

  5. Quote: “We are all convinced that we reason our way to correct conclusions based on evidence and logic. But psychologists assure us this is nothing more than an illusion. Our decision is based on feeling.”

    The psychologists I have known have convinced me to ignore anything they say. They have all been psychotic individuals with no “common sense” in the whole bunch. Lack logic and don’t recognize it.

    Referencing what psychologists say stains the whole article.

    • As Sigmund Freud would say – let’s all do some coke and bang our moms…

      That’s the godfather of modern psychology, thanks but I’d rather not take advise from anyone who subscribes to his brand of nonsense.

  6. Why not just point to statistics. Number of accidental “gun” deaths + number of gunshot murder victims divided by number of guns in the USA. That would yield an infinitesimally small number. I’ll warrant. See, there is no problem. No emotions, no rational arguments necessary. Just math.

  7. We already have “Common Sense Gun Safety”. The four rules got it covered and are just overflowing with heaps and heaps of common sense.

  8. If you need to advertise so hard it’s “common sense,” it probably isn’t. It’s similar to college majors ending with the word “studies,” such as gender studies, it’s a word designed to trick the lost souls into believing it’s something serious. When you’re not certain you’re doing or supporting the right thing, I am assuming you need those words to feel better about it.

    • Or which toilet seat to lick.
      I’m not making it up, the geniuses managed to come up with something even dumber than tide pods eating.

  9. They have to talk about the common sense they perceive themselves as having because in reality there is little abundance of it in their minds.

  10. i would have preferred some examples of how “common sense” gun laws can be arbitrary, capricious, and counter-productive to their stated goals.

    For example, are Californians safer because the laws currently don’t allow Gen 4 or 5 Glocks to be sold there, but Gen 3 apparently can be sold there?

    It’s a kafkaesque regulatory regime called “common sense”.

    • Didn’t you get the memo? Any law that makes gun ownership harder, more expensive, onerous and legally dangerous is a good thing, as it dissuades existing and especially prospective gun owners from exercising their RKBA. If it saves just one person from turning to the dark side (gun ownership), it’s worth it.


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