The HWFO Gun Argument Tree
Unpacking how to use the HWFO material in arguments
Today I’m going to present a bookmarkable example of how to use the HWFO material, which is largely mathematical in nature and not emotional or ideological, to “win” a debate about guns. Please be aware, this will not change anyone’s mind. People’s beliefs about guns are emotional, not rational, so persuading someone that guns aren’t evil takes an entirely different approach. To change someone’s mind, you have to build from shared core values (we all want to reduce deaths) and build a consensus with baby steps, and is a much more noble and beneficial endeavor.
But if you wanted to simply beat someone to death on Twitter with irrefutable math, here’s how you’d do it.
This is how basically all modern anti-gun people open the discussion.
On HWFO we always respond with this.
From here we go different directions depending on how they respond. Rocky Mountain Views was kind enough to go many different directions at the same time, allowing us to showcase many of the different argument branches.
Path 1: Doubling down on “if no guns.”
There’s not any real direction we can go from here except to repost the fact that there is no magic gun evaporation fairy, or post the link (below) to the firearms ownership visualization article.
Path 2: Other Countries
This is part two of a two part response. Either you go with “there is no magic gun evaporation fairy” which means that comparisons to other countries literally don’t matter, or you go with the “guns are the bulwark against tyranny” argument, where you put them on their heels repeatedly pointing out what a shithole Europe actually is when it comes to gun deaths (if we also include genocide as a gun death). Or, perhaps, go with both.
Path 3: The self righteousness of not owning a gun.
Here you ask them to actually read the article linked, since it literally talks about that, and see what they do.
Path 4: Yes but suicide is bad.
We obviously can’t go any further from here, but if his response was more on-topic you’d also point out that gun control laws don’t have any impact on suicide, on a multivariate analysis, using this link.
Path 5: I just hate guns
We obviously can’t go any further from here.
Rocky Mountain News then blocked me so I couldn’t run any more argument trees off of him, but let’s highlight one more from the past few days.
Weaker Gun Laws create more gun deaths
Note the weaseling in the headline. It’s phrased as if there’s an association with higher rates of both homicide and suicide, but that’s not true. There’s an association with higher rates of [homicide+suicide]. In other words, it’s the same old trick yet again. So open with pointing that out.
To be explicitly clear, Everytown’s analysis actually showed that areas with more gun ownership vote for fewer gun control laws. And areas with higher gun ownership have higher rates of gun suicide and lower rates of suicide by other means, since guns are a very convenient way of committing suicide. The causality chain is backwards.
This is a pretty unhinged response from someone who’s bio claims to be Folio Award Winner. Let’s see where this goes.
Poisoning the well fallacies are apparently all you need to win a Folio Award nowadays.
At this point we could go back to the beginning, since this entire thread was spawned off of the “everyone’s lying about the relationship between gun ownership and gun homicide” article, but that would just be circular woozling.
You’ll notice a theme at this point. When you hold someone’s hand and carry them to the mathematics, they attack your value as a person because it’s all they have left to attack.
But Spree Shooters
Any time spree shooters come up, run these three in succession.
Reduce the incidence of spree shooters by 30% by making it illegal to carry them in major media outlets. Reduce the body count by 79% by going nationwide constitutional carry and getting as many people to carry concealed as possible, so there’s always someone on site ready to return fire. Now the anti-gun crowd may not like those two things, for various reasons, but those are the two things that would help.
This post is already too long for email so we’re going to cut it off here.
I have this argument with my parents when we discuss guns. I'm a pro-gun guy, and they are very much not. The problem is you're arguing logic vs. emotion, and from an emotional sense, numerous small, invisible issues (that wind up being a far bigger deal, like the suicide epidemic) are negated by the MSM screaming, "53 KIDS DIE IN MASS SHOOTING. AR-15 GUNS DOWN INNOCENT LIVES." I use a bit of hyperbole there, but not that much...
I think there is also a classist element to this as well, especially amongst the very rich and the very poor. Among the poor, especially those of color, owning and carrying a gun is a risk due to the widespread view that police target minorities and carrying a gun, even if legal, may cause issues. Thus, the only ones that are willing to risk it are those who are most likely to need it, someone who is going to quite possibly get in a gunfight, like a gang banger. This is a strictly anecdotal view, but it has been expressed by several of the drivers that work at my company, especially among the men of color.
The more interesting argument is among the well off. My parents are doing well, live in a nice area, and consider themselves 'safe.' Their neighborhood is 25-30 miles from the nearest bus stop, in an area that requires a car, and the police watch for vehicles that are a little too run down. They never have to deal with a homeless man drawing a knife on them, or a carjacking at a stop sign. They never go into the city because they don't think it's safe. They live in a bubble. I think why spree killers scare them so much is the randomness. It is the one instance where the reality of violence can invade their bubble of security, and potentially impact their lives directly, even if they do everything "right."
Unfortunately, I've lived a bit rougher than they have, though I'm doing well now. My time living rough taught me a few things, though. There are people in the world that will resort to force to get what they want, and the only way to stop them is to have an equal or greater force to stop them. I'm old, I'm fat, and there's only one of me. If a group of young in shape people attacked me, I'd be in serious trouble. That's why I carry...but my parents are convinced it couldn't happen to them.
Nicely laid out. Most gun opposition is purely emotional reactions to guns, without any logic or reason. If we really wanted to reduce gun deaths in America, we would engage in policies to improve the lives of poor blacks and help the mental health of men. Such policies are not well-appreciated by TPTB. And most anti-gun activists would rather scream about guns then solve the problem.