It’s that time of year, time for the National Rifle Association national meeting. As one might expect, the national gun control debate is getting big play at the convention.
Today, cnn.com had a headline:
“CEO of NRA slams Piers Morgan”
I continue to wonder why we are so concerned about who slams who, but arguments directed at the person rather than the issue are not terribly useful.
So, I looked at the story. It showed CNN commentator Piers Morgan talking about a snippet of the speech given by National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre:
Morgan:NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre attacked me personally for my stance on gun control. Listen to this.
LaPierre:We know how they play the game. Pres. Obama or Michael Bloomberg or some other official trots out on national television to scold and shame us, suggesting that there’s something wrong with law-abiding people who want to own firearms. And then what happens, all the Piers Morgan’s, Lawrence O’Donnell’s and Rachel Maddow’s, they pound the message over and over again.
Morgan:That’s right, Mr. LaPierre, and I’ll continue to pound that message and continue to show shocking footage [and footage is shown from a police dash-cam of a guy exiting his car and opening fire on the police] until people like you realize the damage that guns do to Americans every day. This man used an assault rifle. He also used a 40-bullet magazine, two things that you don’t think should be banned. Try telling that to those police officers.
That was it.
That’s a personal attack?
(By the way, I'd never heard of Lawrence O'Donnell.)
There is no doubt that Piers Morgan is one of the louder and more articulate voices against the widespread presence of firearms in America. Indeed, I have heard personal attacks on him, but this isn’t one of them. Most of those that attacks start with the fact that he is a British citizen, which under American law is no more relevant than any other personal attack. The Bill of Rights does not “give” any sorts of rights. It restricts government from infringing on the rights which the people – including foreign nationals present in the United States – already have. Free speech is one of those.
It disturbs me that anybody is supposed to believe that this is a personal attack or that somehow it gives credibility to anybody with reference to the merits of the gun issue.
Do you want to hear something of a more effective personal attack? Some official from the “Gun Owners of America” appeared on the program of, you guessed it, Piers Morgan. This fellow, one Larry Pratt, was sincere but not really well armed for a battle of wits. Among Morgan’s observations to him:
You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?
You don’t give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America?
I know why sales of these weapons have been soaring ... It’s down to idiots like you.
You wouldn’t understand the meaning of the phrase “high level argument.”
You are a dangerous man.
Even so, I’m not really shocked by that, either. You play, you pay. You make an appearance on an “opinion,” program, you take your chances that the host will be a bit of an asshole.
But it’s still all terribly tiresome. Waving the bloody shirt is an American pastime and it’s quite useful for those occasions when rational argument will interfere with political plans. Gun controllists are hardly the first to reach for the bloody shirts and they won’t be the last. And some of us will to be dumb enough to disengage our brains and react without thinking.
The problem violence in America is anything but simple. Anyone who thinks it is, anyone who thinks it will be solved by eliminating guns or by arming everyone, that person is the dangerous one.