I Feel Safe In My Padded Cell…So Long as the Inmates Don’t Have High-Capacity Mags
A FRIEND of mine posted this picture on Facebook. Like most arguments by analogy which only take up the size of a photo, there’s a fallacy here. (A picture does indeed say a thousand words. The trouble is, one can never quite arrange them into a syllogism.) Interestingly, though, the fallacy of this argument also gets to the heart of the issue surrounding our nation’s discussion of gun control in the wake of Sandy Hook.
The fallacy here, of course, is false analogy. Schools aren’t similar to the White House, a bank, or a jewelry store such that armed guards are presumptively appropriate. So, we aren’t “defending” our children with a “gun free zone” sign instead of a guard. Instead, we demur to post armed guards at school and also post signs that says students ought not be armed either. The wisdom of this choice is debatable of course, but that’s not the subject of this post.
The picture illustrates a deeper truth, though. Why is it that we guard the President, the Supreme Court, or even some office buildings with guns? Because it is “reasonable” to suspect that someone with a gun will go to those places to murder and steal. All evil acts are, in one way or another, unreasonable. However, we typically recognize that a safe full of gold is likely going to attract a few criminals, and we see no way of fixing this other than to guard the gold with appropriate force.
That it should seem reasonable to compare an elementary school to other places which reasonably attract armed aggressors should give us pause. It’s one thing to live in a society where we recognize that there are those of low moral character who will stoop to rob banks. It’s quite another to live in a land where average children are recognized as similar targets. We can at least see the reasonableness of trying to get rich through theft, while still condemning the choice and guarding against it. But we have to call child-killings for what they are: the expression of complete, pathological depravity.
These events are not the result of a failure to post armed guards in schools, they are not the result of the general availability of firearms. They are the result of a single fact: there are enough psychopaths in our midst that school shootings have become a trend while the rest of us have so-tightly shut our eyes to the notion of human depravity that we believe that we’ll be fine in the madhouse so long as the pathologists don’t have assault rifles with thirty round clips. Perhaps our calling the child-killers insane is calling the kettle black.