Why don’t they live by it?

E.J. Dionne tries out an argument against concealed carry laws, with disastrous results.  He writes:

Isn't it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation's Capitol?

I've been studying the deep thoughts of senators who regularly express their undying loyalty to the National Rifle Association, and I have decided that they should practice what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do nothing to stop violence.

If they believe that, why don't they live by it?

. . . . 

Don't think this column is offered lightly. I want these guys to put up or shut up. If the NRA's servants in Congress don't take their arguments seriously enough to apply them to their own lives, maybe the rest of us should do more to stop them from imposing their nonsense on our country. 

This argument has the sour flavor of the ad hominem tu quoque: If Senators in favor of concealed carry laws were serious, they would not permit gun restrictions at their own place of work (they don't, so their argument is wrong).  That criticism is silly and misdirected.

I think these senators would consent to people carrying weapons around them at other places (say at their local Qwik E Mart in their home state)–at least that's what the laws they support allow.  The US Capitol is an exception to such laws (for reasons too plain to mention).  So the other part of this argument is a nearly textbook fallacy of accident: applying a general rule to an obvious exception.

As one who opposes relaxing gun laws (most of the time), I find this argument (and this endorsement of it) embarrassing.


**7/28/09 edits for elegance–

6 thoughts on “Why don’t they live by it?”

  1. Good point here. An analogy might be to say that people who would disallow gratuitously yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater don’t really believe in freedom of speech.

  2. I think it’s a great idea.  In fact, that is how we do things here in New Hampshire.  Not only are the state senators and representatives routinely armed, so are the citizens who file in the gallery to watch.  We are both carrying openly, and concealed, depending on personal preferences. Believe it or not, some people actually don’t have a weapon!  But there are enough law-abiding gun owners present such that there has never been a mass murder here (unlike so many gun-free zones around the US).

  3. “The US Capitol is an obvious exception to such laws (for reasons too obvious to mention).”
    Obviously not that obvious.

  4. Hey Nevyn,

    Obviously one too many “obviouses” in the sentence about how obvious that obvious thing was.  I’ll edit it out.  Obviously inelegant!

Comments are closed.