Representative McKinley is doing the same thing on guns as he did on climate change
Earlier this year, I wrote an extended post on how our local representative, David McKinley, had apparently moved away from being a climate-change denier. I argued that McKinley had changed his position because, given the preponderant amount of scientific data out there and the public attention that it and the extremes of weather have received, it had become increasingly difficult to be taken seriously if he continued to deny that the world’s climate was changing. While I applauded the admission, I saw the change as strictly a rhetorical one – McKinley would appear to be more reasonable. Since then, and despite his words to the contrary, our congressman has done nothing in Congress to suggest that he has actually abandoned his anti-climate change stance. Instead, McKinley continues to oppose green legislation while supporting a pro-coal/anti-EPA agenda.
On the gun issue, National polls have indicated that a majority of the public has been in favor of some type of gun legislation at least since Sandy Hook. A recent Gallup Poll (taken before El Paso and Dayton) suggests that the numbers have been increasing dramatically:
Even before the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Gallup recorded the highest level of support for stricter gun laws in 25 years.
The Washington Post elaborates:
In a recent GQR survey of 2,000 likely 2020 voters, more than 1 in 4 say their views on guns have changed within the past five years. This number includes 1 in 3 Democrats, but also 1 in 4 independents and 1 in 5 Republicans. Among these voters, 78 percent — and 70 percent of Republicans — have moved toward supporting stronger gun laws.
Yesterday, numerous rallies in favor of gun control took place around the nation (including West Virginia) as an AP report documented:
Demonstrators in Providence, Rhode Island, where several dozen people gathered. Some held signs that said, "Disarm Hate," ''Enough" and "No One Needs a Weapon of War at Home." In Baltimore, activists organized a march.
Protesters in Charleston, West Virginia, carried signs that called for changing Congress if it didn't change gun laws.
(Note -- this AP story was not in this morning’s News-Register.)
As with our attitudes about climate change, the public is changing its views on gun control and Congressman McKinley has apparently noticed. Today’s News-Register carries a front-page story that
McKinley Backs ‘Red Flag’ Gun Regulations
If you read the article, McKinley does a lot of hedging on that position and it will be interesting to see what happens, given the NRA’s opposition to most gun-related proposals, if McKinley must actually vote on the issue. My hunch is, if it comes to a vote, that the bill will need to be significantly watered down or, if it isn’t, he’ll ultimately vote against it citing his concern for the “rights of gun owners.”
Not unlike the climate change issue, Congressman McKinley would appear to know which way the wind is blowing.
Editor Myer shoots down his straw man
The “straw man” argument “is a fallacy in which an opponent's argument is overstated or misrepresented in order to be more easily attacked or refuted.
(If you check online, you'll find similar definitions to this one for the “straw man” fallacy.)
Reading Mike Myer columns for many years, I would contend that “straw man” is his favorite form of arguing and probably his weakest. When a column begins with “Liberals say,” “Democrats back,” or “Radical environmentalists support,” I usually don’t expect any actual names or, on the rare occasions that Myer uses one, an explanation of how that person is typical of liberals, Democrats, environmentalists, or whatever. Here’s today’s example:
If you could somehow could gather up and melt down every AR-15 or AK-47 clone in the United States, you would have virtually no success in preventing mass murders. My guess is that they’d occur about as frequently as they do now.
But the gun control advocates say that if we could just get “military assault rifles” out of the hands of nutcases, we’d be home free, right?
Sorry, but that’s only one of many proposals that gun control advocates make, and I don’t know of anyone that argues that this would totally solve the problem. It doesn’t matter to Myer, however; he gets an entire column out of knocking down his straw man.
Some quick thoughts on the current gun debate
The current arguments used by gun defenders take a couple of different forms. For instance, Myer and Intelligencer editorials, as well as many gun control opponents, frequently tell us that “this proposed law would not have prevented _____” as though a new law must be 100% effective otherwise it should not be passed.
More common lately (especially among Trump, his various supporters, some Republicans and Ogden editorials), is the argument that guns are not the problem -- we need to concentrate on mental illness in order to effectively deal with the problem. Apart from a new stigma that has been attached to mental illness, it has occurred to me that what these critics usually fail to address, since mental illness is not something confined only to the United States, is why gun violence isn’t a problem throughout the world? Could our easy access to all kinds of firearms make it easier for those who want to do harm? Just asking.