I’ve often written about Leftists that write, what might appear to the casual reader, conciliatory essays about conservatives. Such essays seem to suggest we should all reason together, and even though conservatives are obviously morally and intellectually inferior, most unpleasant to be around, and as Hillary observed, irredeemable, leftists, for the good of everyone, should suck it up and not be quite so negative about lesser beings. The usual subtext is leftists should better conceal their arrogance and hatred because it’s not helpful in electing enough Democrats to establish a permanent Democrat majority.
One doesn’t normally see this when guns are at issue, I suspect because the law-abiding that believe in the Constitution—the whole thing—have blood on their hands, want to kill children, are murderers, racists, racist murderers with blood on their hands, etc. Who wants to even pretend to be nice to such monsters?
Now comes just such an essay, written by one Adam Weinstein, who is billed as a Navy veteran, gun owner and collector and professional journalist, having worked for Mother Jones—certainly no leftist bias at that journalistic endeavor—among other outlets. He begins, in The Washington Post—another absolutely non-biased outlet—thus:
The phenomenon isn’t new, but in the weeks since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a lot of gun-skeptical liberals are getting a taste of it for the first time: While debating the merits of various gun control proposals, Second Amendment enthusiasts often diminish, or outright dismiss their views if they use imprecise firearms terminology. Perhaps someone tweets about ‘assault-style’ weapons, only to be told that there’s no such thing. Maybe they’re reprimanded that an AR-15 is neither an assault rifle nor ‘high-powered.’ Or they say something about ‘machine guns’ when they really mean semiautomatic rifles. Or they get sucked into an hours-long Facebook exchange over the difference between the terms clip and magazine.
Has this happened to you? If so, you’ve been gunsplained: harangued with the pedantry of the more-credible-than-thou firearms owner, admonished that your inferior knowledge of guns and their nomenclature puts an asterisk next to your opinion on gun control.
It can feel infuriating, being forced to sweat the finest taxonomic distinctions between our nation’s unlimited variety of lethal weapons.
Weinstein goes on to tout his gun ownership and interest and to suggest, however mildly, that accuracy in discussing such things is at least a little useful. What he ignores is when one leaps into the public square demanding the infringement of a fundamental, unalienable, express Constitutional right, they had better be able to demonstrate knowledge, not only of the relevant terminology, but of the facts and implications of their point of view, because they’ve just made themselves fair game for rebuttal. Weinstein argues that any attempt to return such discourse to accuracy and reason is “gunsplaining,” and is by nature condescending, a distraction from the real issues, and inherently done in bad faith. For example, he admits rifles of all kinds are used in a tiny proportion of all crimes committed with guns, but lumps those committed with AR-15-like rifles into that group, demonstrating the kind of dishonest discourse he claims to dislike. It is absolutely necessary, if the national debate—which Leftists always claim to genuinely want—is to proceed based on fact rather than emotion, to “gunsplain” that so-called “assault weapons” are used in only a tiny portion of that already tiny portion of guns. Might one reasonably suggest hiding that pertinent fact is arguing in bad faith?
Weinstein suggests that if only both sides were “a little more honest”
…we could have a serious debate on the finer points of a gun violence policy, instead of a bad-faith propaganda race.
But of course, those thinking accuracy and actual knowledge a good thing are fundamentally evil:
Gunsplaining, though, is always done in bad faith. Like mansplaining, it’s less about adding to the discourse than smothering it — with self-appointed authority, and often the thinnest of connection to any real fact.
There is a constitutional concept known as “void for vagueness.” For any law to be constitutional, the average man must be able to read it and understand what is and is not lawful. In average man language then, if a law can’t be understood, it is, for that reason alone, unconstitutional. Also in average man language, words matter. If one is seeking to ban a specific weapon, or entire class of weapons, they must be described in precise, correct terms so as to include only the specific weapons to be banned, and to exclude all others. When anti-liberty/gun advocates are screaming “assault weapons”–which do not exist–must be banned, anyone pointing out their inaccuracy is merely asking for an honest, accurate, constitutionally valid debate. One should also keep in mind that anti-liberty/gun groups have long purposely tried to manipulate the public by keeping terms vague, hoping to convince the uninformed that any gun that looks like a machinegun, or looks “scary,” must be a machinegun. They—and “they” also include the media–also commonly portray semiautomatic rifles as fully automatic weapons. This, rather than an interest in accurate terminology, would seem to be exercising bad faith.
Weinstein also attacks NRA Spokesman Dana Loesch for answering a question during the recent CNN “townhall,” which turned into a progressive near-riot:
There, the mother of a teacher who died protecting his students from gunfire asked Loesch: How could she possibly believe the Founding Fathers, who ratified the Second Amendment in 1791, anticipated legal AR-15s?
“At the time,’ Loesch replied, ‘there were fully automatic weapons that were available — the Belton gun and Puckle gun.
Taking Weinstein at his word, and not understanding the full context of the question and the crowd, which was so hostile Loesch noted she would not have left the hall unharmed without her three-man private security detail (progressive good faith?), Weinstein claims Loesch’s argument “bunk,” and quipped:
Loesch doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She’s gunsplaining.
While Loesch is technically incorrect, in the apparent context of the question and issue she was right. The Founders wrote the Second Amendment not to designate a specific type of weapon, but upon principle: foremost, that free men must be able to keep and bear arms to overthrow an oppressive government, such as one that would try to disarm the law abiding. Recognizing the right to self-defense is also obviously implicated. The weapons she mentioned were the equivalent of modern machineguns, her point obviously that the Founders were aware of weapons more advanced and potentially effective than muzzle-loading flintlocks, and were content that the common man keep and bear them. Considering principle, rather than contemporary gun banning lust, the Founders would have no difficulty whatever with AR-15s or similar arms.
In attacking Loesch, Weinstein was certainly not “gunsplaining,” and was doubtless speaking in good faith.
Weinstein also attacked Tomi Larhen, who dared to tweet—gunsplain–that “AR” does not stand for “assault rifle,” but is a reference to Armalite, the company for who AR-15 designer Eugene Stoner worked, thus gently correcting a common leftist error. Weinstein wasn’t impressed:
She failed to note that the family of Eugene Stoner, Armalite’s onetime chief engineer and the brains behind the AR-15, insisted in 2016 that he would be “horrified and sickened” to see his military rifle pattern become so common in civilian households and school shootings.
Again, taking Weinstein at his word, this is hardly good faith. Larhen was tweeting—an inherently space limited forum–not writing a feature article on every possible aspect of the invention of the AR-15.
Weinstein’s attack on Lahren is akin to someone explaining “Vette” is short for Corvette, and being scolded because the family of the deceased original designer thinks they might be horrified and sickened by the styling and power of contemporary Corvettes. Opinions of members of the family of Stoner, who died in 1997, and not at all in response to Lahren’s tweet, about what he might think about a gun control argument nearly two decades after his death, do not shed light on the issue about which Weinstein writes. In fact, Weinstein failed to note:
They [Stoner’s anonymous family members] also stopped short of policy prescriptions or legal opinions.
But Weinstein wasn’t done with Lahren, who, like Loesch, is an effective and likeable spokesman for conservative issues:
Lahren’s tweet is bad-faith gunsplaining par excellence. Its point is not to foster deeper understanding of these weapons, but to further a group identity of firearms owners as beset upon by a dumb or dishonest adversary, to flatter their insecurities and tell them they don’t need to take gun controllers seriously because you can’t reason with ignorance.
Let us, gentle readers, consider Weinstein’s projection. Whose default to any conservative argument is “shut up,” as Andrew Klaven explained. Who treated Loesch with extraordinary rudeness, and actually became violent and threatening at the CNN gun-bashing fest? Who is suppressing, by threats and violence, conservative speech on college campuses? Which presidential candidate actually ran on changing the First Amendment to suppress the speech of their political enemies? Who cries out to restrict “hate speech,” which means “any speech with which we disagree”? Progressives; progressives one and all. Oh, and what was Loesch doing at that CNN debacle? Refusing to reason with progressives? Conservatives are virtually always willing to debate progressives, but progressives are commonly not willing to return the favor.
Weinstein makes a few conciliatory comments, and a plea for understanding, but reverts to form:
…clearly, this rifle [AR-15] and its relatives are go-tos for a certain kind of American-bred killer. That’s worth at least addressing in a public policy forum.
Once again, Weinstein is not being honest (take the link and read his entire piece). He earlier noted rifles of any kind are used in only 4%–and I think that figure high—of shootings, but neglected to clarify AR-15’s or similar rifles are used in only a fraction of that tiny portion. School shootings, though highly publicized and exploited by anti-liberty factions, remain rare, and most are not committed using semi-automatic rifles of any make or model. In fact, Virginia Tech, one of the most deadly attacks, was done with two common handguns, one in .22LR caliber
But before any of that can happen, we need to take away the incentives for gunsplaining, for spurning conversation in favor of condescension. Can that happen anytime soon? I’m not optimistic —not as long as the pro-gun camp continues to suppress debate with heavy rhetorical firepower, instead of just shooting straight.
And who is accusing their opponents of bad faith, of condescension, of “spurning conversation” and wanting to “suppress debate”? Weinstein. But he’s not alone. The Virginia legislature was recently shaken by a speech, as PJ Media reports:
A Virginia lawmaker’s fiery speech on gun rights triggered some Democrats in the state legislature to leave the floor in an ‘emotionally shaken’ state on Friday and has since gone viral on Facebook.
The video of Delegate Nick Freitas’s hard-hitting speech has garnered over 12 million views on Facebook since it was posted by Conservative Review on Friday. Freitas is running in the Republican primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va).
In his speech, Freitas urged his fellow lawmakers to have an “open and honest debate” that relied on ‘data, facts, evidence, analysis, reason, logic, etc., etc.’ (No wonder Democrats were triggered).
He pointed out that most mass shootings seem to occur in ‘gun-free zones’ and that the shooters tend to come from broken homes.
By all means, read the entire article. The Democrat’s responses are classic, and by Weinstein’s standards, in bad faith:
A true conversation, he added, ‘starts with a certain degree of mutual respect.’
There were reportedly ‘audible groans’ on the Democratic side of the Virginia House as Freitas was making his points.
‘House Dems seem genuinely stunned by these GOP gun speeches. Toscano asks for recess,’ a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter tweeted.
Many Democrats even left the room because of Freitas honest expression of historical facts,’ wrote Jim Jamitis at Red State.
In response to the familiar histrionic litany of accusations against Republicans including association with Nazism and segregationism—calumnies now amplified by the present gun control fever—Freitas corrected the historical inaccuracies and it was too much for Democrats to bear. They needed a recess to calm down.
According to the Times-Dispatch, Delegate Lamont Bagby said he viewed Freitas’ remarks as racial ‘dog-whistling.
Well of course. Whenever leftists can’t respond–other than “shut up,” they play the race card, in good faith, naturally. One can see what bad faith really is by merely announcing a gun lecture or debate on just about any college campus. It won’t take long to see who is willing to debate without preconditions, and who makes free debate impossible. These are the kind of people Weinstein urges us to dialogue with, but It’s rather hard to gunsplain when fact and logic cause them to be “emotionally shaken” and forces them to run for a safe space. It’s harder when their default response is “racist!” or “shut up.”