Challenging the opposition

The last couple of weeks I have been watching the Liberty First Foundation Facebook group and paying attention to posts that ask the members to defend that Second Amendment or posts where a member acts as a “devil’s advocate” in order for people to exercise their critical thinking skills. SecondDebate To some these challenges have been productive and they use these exercises to improve their skills of debate.  Others respond with the same old tired clichés and really do not offer arguments that will actually defend the Second Amendment.

I see comments like “Come and take them”, “The AR-15 is not a military rifle”, “there is no such thing as an ‘assault weapon’”, or “assault weapons have already been banned, it is already illegal to assault someone”.  While all of those statements are true they really do not address the arguments put forth by someone who is misinformed about guns.  Some of these statements actually hurt our ability to defend the Second Amendment.

3a732df3ccdd5afc4ed5fa9067fd9790We need to reevaluate the way we address the arguments that the anti-gun control group is using to promote their agenda to disarm the American Public.  The arguments they are putting forth can easily be rebutted but you have to actually listen to them and then offer an argument that will actually produce some results instead of offering the same old rhetoric.

One tactic that can be used is to have them explain their position and then tell them that it doesn’t make sense and offer a statistic or fact that shows that position cannot work and then ask them to help you to understand their position.  As you do this, they will start to understand that their position actually does not make sense.  This will be accomplished without divisiveness or resorting to rhetoric.  The self-realization that the arguments that they are basing their position on are not valid can be a powerful realization.

In the comments of this post, I will demonstrate how this can work.  One of the members of the Religion of Arms group will be playing the role of the anti-gun zealot while I offer the counterargument to their statements.  The goal is to show how this type of debate can work to change the position of someone even if they have been firmly entrenched in their position when the debate starts.

If we go into these arguments with our minds made up that they won’t listen or that we do not want to hear their position then we have already 1.) Further entrenched that person against firearms and the Second Amendment or 2.)  Pushed someone that was on the fence over to the side of gun-control supporters, we cannot afford to strengthen their ranks.  Our position needs to be one where we are using the facts and using them to help them come to the realization that their arguments do not make sense.  The Second Amendment and the Constitution are at stake and the stakes are very high if we lose this fight we will lose everything.debate-quotes-2

Remember the mission of the Liberty First Foundation is to effect policies locally, creating lasting change nationally, developing enduring acceptance of the Second Amendment, removing the negative stigma associated with firearms.  We will utilize grassroots efforts facilitating the organization and assembly of those that wish to impact political decisions affecting the Second Amendment, through community involvement and educating individuals as to the safe and effective handling, maintenance, and use of firearms.  A large part of this mission is to change the negative stigma associated with firearms and firearm owners.  We cannot do that if we are divisive in our debates with people about the Second Amendment or firearms.  The only way we can do this is to lead them to discover the answers themselves through directed challenges to their arguments.

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7 thoughts on “Challenging the opposition

  1. Devil's Advocate

    The US is a republic, but it uses a democratic process. Interpretation of law by elected or appointed representatives is the form this democratic process uses to represent the interests of the general public.

    Society’s use of guns is different today than it was in 1788. It’s important for our current society to use the tools created by our constitution to adjust or laws to accommodate the changes that have occurred over the last 230 years.

    We are a more diverse society today. Our government is more centralized and powerful than at its origin. Our nation is nite extremely wealthy, and has a significant, hegemonic influence on the world. We have a strong and well funded military. Our cities are well policed. In general, we have a very safe society and a very stable government.

    All of this is very different from what or founders were dealing with at the beginning of our nation. Today, we need a government that reflects Alexander Hamilton’s philosophy more than Thomas Jefferson’s. Even Jefferson himself began to see that during his presidency.

    Our society and government have evolved. Our laws need to evolve as well to remain relevant. Judicial interpretation is part of that process.

    • Michael Marshall
      Michael Marshall Post author

      Yes we have changed as a society but some of the problem that we face today is that our government is powerful. That was never to be the case. The power was always supposed to lay with the people and not with the representatives. Because of that one principle it is even more important that the people have the means at their disposal be able to defend themselves if government ever becomes oppressive. The Second Amendment is one of the measures that was put in place to provide for that defense.

      While our police force has grown over the course of our history it is still not enough to be able to protect every citizen in a time of crisis. This can be shown by looking at crime statistics. In places like Chicago where gun control is very strict we see that violent crime is growing and is higher per capita than in places where where gun control is not as strict.

      We will never get rid of criminal activity nor will we be able to stop violent crimes from happening. We can give the citizens that are effect by this crime the chance to defend themselves against the criminal element.

      The other necessity that requires us to be able to have at our disposal a means to defend ourselves is the breakdown of the “soft-society”. We are continuously under the threat of natural and man-made disasters that can lead to this breakdown. We only have to look at our history to see examples of these breakdowns (though on a small scale) to see what effects a breakdown of this type can have. If we look at the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict we see this breakdown and how law enforcement was not able to respond adequately to the tragedies that were occurring. The same holds true after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Having the means to defend ourselves in these situations is why the Second Amendment is still relevant and needed.

      As you say in your comments our society has evolved and with that the tools that criminals use have evolved. Why should the ordinary citizen not have access to the same tools that criminals will use to threaten their Life, Liberty, and pursuit of happiness?

      So again I ask you to help me better understand you position as it does not make sense to me given the examples that I have shown.

      • Devil's Advocate

        You touch on several different topics here, so I’ll try to address them separately.

        Our founders did originally intend for a weak central government. The Articles of Confederation reflected this philosophy. Unfortunately, a loose alliance of individual states didn’t work very well. That’s why the state’s agreed to a constitutional convention. The resulting documents allowed for a very strong central government. There certainly were people who resisted, but people like Alexander Hamilton, the writer of more than half of the Federalist Papers, argued for a strong, powerful central government, as well as a central bank. Gun owners tend to only study Jefferson’s criticisms of Hamilton. They often forget Hamilton was also a founding father and the founder of one of the two original influential political parties. Hamilton would have argued for the authority of the federal government to restrict even BOR rights as necessary to balance the needs of society.

        Restriction of gun rights doesn’t mean a loss of safety. We live in a very safe society by historical standards. Gun owners seem to believe only a complete absence of crime is an acceptable level of safety. Police are capable of maintaining a reasonable level of public safety without armed civilians. Yes there will be individual tragedies, but these occur regardless of whether private citizens possess guns. Rare criminal tragedies do not justify the increased risk to society posed by having unchecked access to guns.

        Riots and hurricane are also rare occurrences. Even in these events, police and the military are able to provide reasonable safety without the help of unsupervised armed individuals. Isolated incidents don’t justify dangerous public policy.

        Limiting access to guns reduces criminal access even if it doesn’t completely stop it. This can reduce the lethality of criminal acts. These laws also provide police with cause for arrest of violent criminals, removing them from society. Again, adding unsupervised armed private citizens to the mix only adds more chaos to an already difficult environment. Society is better served by allowing professionals to deal with crime. Yes there will be occasional incidents of tragedy, but overall, crime is better controlled by police than by vigilantes.

      • Michael Marshall
        Michael Marshall Post author

        @Devil’s Advocate the main reason for the Bill of Rights was to bring this country together as a Nation and not a loose band of States. James Madison negotiated this with the Anti-Federalists that were not going to ratify the Constitution without a promise of adding these protection of rights. The rights are not granted by the Constitution they are granted by our humanity and as such can not be taken only infringed upon. The first Continental Congress deemed that the human rights were rights that needed to be protected and they Drafted the first amendments to the Constitution. Of the amendments that were passed by super-majority of both houses of the Congress 10 of them were ratified by, not just the required number of States, but by all of the States. So the protection of these rights were considered to be a necessity to for the citizens of this nation. Through these rights the power of the Government was limited and shows that the first Congress saw a necessity to limit the power afforded the Government, not only to the Government of the time but of Governments in the future.

        Yes we do have a highly trained police force throughout this country but the limited man-power of this protective force means that the average response time for an emergency call is roughly 11 minutes nationwide.

        ” Individual cities may measure response time differently because there is no national ‘standard’ for measuring them. This can cause a great disparity in numbers.
        Not many cities ‘advertise’ their response times. Of those that have numbers that have gone public, the most recent data shows that emergency calls dispatched through 911 are not generating the quick response times the public would like:
        Denver: A 2014 report shows that average response times for Denver from 2008 through 2013 increased. “Priority 0-2 calls, response times increased from an average of 11.4 minutes to 14.3 minutes. For Priority 3-6 calls, response times increased from an average of 20.5 minutes to 23.3 minutes.”

        However, they may know why response times got worse: Our data analysis confirms that the majority of the increase in Denver’s police response times can be explained by the decreasing size of the City’s police force, which shrank by approximately 225 officers between 2008 through 2013.

        New York City: Data from 2012 shows the average response time is 9.1 minutes. That’s the longest response time since 2003, and the wait time has been increasing every year.

        Dallas: Violent crime is on the rise, as is the response time. As of Augut 2015, average response time sits at more than 8 minutes.

        Milwaukee: 2010 data showed that it took almost 14 minutes on average for officers to respond to priority one emergency calls, such as shootings and armed robberies in progress.” -

        That is 11 minutes for a criminal to have their way before they have to worry about police interfering. 11 minutes is a long time and if the threat is to your life then when police do arrive they will be drawing a chalk outline around your body.

        “At the community level, a range of factors appears to be related to
        high levels of gun use. These factors include high rates of poverty, illicit
        drug trafficking, and substance use. For example, increased firearm violence has been associated with drug markets. A number of situational level factors are also associated with increased risk of violence in general
        and firearm violence in particular. For example, the presence of drugs or
        alcohol increases the risk of firearm violence. Moreover, criminals often
        engage in violence as a means to acquire money, goods, or other rewards.”- Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of
        Firearm-Related Violence, Centers For Disease Control 2013 This statement shows the need for some type of self-protection is needed for average citizens when you consider the response times of law enforcement.

        I am a 6′ 2″ 230 lbs. male. A friend of mine is 5′ 2″ 120 lbs. female. I have military training and was a wrestler in High School and have had some martial arts training. If I were to assault her, she would have little recourse other than to submit. Now if she has a firearm she now has the advantage and can prevent someone of my size and skill from attacking her. A firearm is an equalizer and is very effective in preventing violent crime.

        “Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence,
        although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996;
        Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive
        gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by
        criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to
        more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent
        crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).” – Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence, Centers For Disease Control 2013. This data from the CDC shows that between 500,000 to 3,000,000 more people would have been the victims of violent crimes if these people would not have had access to a firearm. That is potential 500,000 to 3,000,000 lives were save because of firearms. This also shows that were are not safe and that law-enforcement is unable to provide adequate protection for the general population. This gets worse during major catastrophes as I pointed out in my earlier reply.

        So knowing this information the arguments that you are presenting still do not make sense to me so I ask that you please help me to understand your position in light of these facts.

      • Anonymous

        My arguments are continuing to become less supportable. They are based on a theory that law is evolving and that society holds a greater value than the individual. These are common arguments from the anti-gun crowd, but they are difficult to defend.

        Evolution of law assumes that a law’s foundation, its original intent, is irrelevant. This concept automatically negates the concept of law by allowing rules to be fluid. Fluid laws are not laws at all. A law without a foundation is an oxymoron, since it has no inherent rules. All laws are based in original intent or they cease to be laws. Fluid law is simply arbitrary authority.

        Valuing society above the individual is a valid philosophy, but it is in conflict with US culture, tradition, and history. Our founding documents are based on a concept of “Natural Law,” a concept first documented by Aristotle. Countless philosophers have added to the body of discussion regarding natural law, but our founding fathers drew most heavily from John Locke. Locke’s discussion of how natural law applies to personal liberty and government limitations reflects a philosophy that values the individual above society at large. To abandon this foundational principal and replace it with one that diminishes the value of the individual is to abandon our national origins. This cannot be done indiscriminately nor arbitrarily. Changing culture should never be done lightly.

        Until next time.

        –Rich (The Devil’s Advocate)

  2. Devil's Advocate

    It’s really hard for the gun crowd to create valid arguments when they continue to claim original intent as the only valid criteria for interpretation by the courts.

    Our form of government is based on Democratic process. Judges are elected or appointed by elected representatives specifically to represent the will of the governed. Our constitution was deliberately written using broad language so that judges could interpret based on cultural change and the changing needs of our society.

    There is a preponderance of legal precedence supporting an interpretation of founding documents using a “living document” philosophy. This precedence is at least as valid as any original document.

    The second amendment, as well as any other part of the constitution, is subject to modern interpretation by duly appointed or elected judges and justices. This is part of our established democratic process.

    • Michael Marshall
      Michael Marshall Post author

      So you are claiming that the United States is a Democracy and as such we should bend to the will of the people? Is this what you are telling me and if it is then your position does not make sense to me as the United States is a representative republic and as such we elect officials to represent us to enact laws. These representatives are bound by Oath to the powers detailed in the Constitution and as such they are limited to those powers and those powers alone. As a people we do not get a vote on what laws are passed and what laws are rejected as such we have to trust that our representatives will abide by their oaths and not exceed the powers established by the Constitution.

      Secondly by your reasoning you are saying that the legislation should evolve with the times and that original intent does not apply in today’s situations. Again this does not make sense when we look at the other Amendments of the Constitution and how they are applied the original intent is upheld. It is only with the Second Amendment that people attempt to change this reasoning why is the Second Amendment different than say the 4th Amendment?

      Please help me to understand your position more clearly as it does not make sense to me and I am trying to understand your position.

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