Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Abandoning Logic

After 9/11, we banned knives and box cutters on airplanes. We then banned liquids of more than 3 ounces. We understood the connection between these things and the loss of life that followed.

So why can’t we understand the connection between assault weapons and mass shootings?

This is an illogical and absurd argument, but I’m not going where you think I’m going.

The connection between box cutters and loss of life was a “one off” event, one which depended entirely on the element of surprise and which cannot be repeated now that we know what can happen. Even if knives and/or box cutters made it onto the airplane, the chain of events would not and could not take place as they did on that fateful day.

The connection to liquid is even more absurd. No liquid explosive has never been successfully deployed for a terrorist attack, or even developed for use outside laboratory conditions. No liquid explosive has ever led to one single loss of life, so “the connection between these things and the loss of life that followed” is a completely spurious argument.

The TSA search process is almost entirely “security theater,” and serves almost no purpose other than to deliver a sense of comfort to the flying public, and a false sense of comfort at that, since there is often cargo which accompanies passengers on those flights which is not screened or searched.

The loss of life caused by assault rifles is fairly clearly documented, however, and there is little doubt that more stringent regulation would significantly save lives. We need, though, to have cogent and reasonable argument to that point, not absurd appeal to unreasoned fear.

1 comment:

  1. The argument, which clearly takes aim at the irrational mantra, 'Guns don't kill, people do,' is neither illogical nor absurd, though it relies on you to infer its unstated major premise; namely, that killing becomes much more difficult when you remove the tools that facilitate it. The argument relies on no appeal to unreasoned fear.