Gun Control Debate: Pro vs Con

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Recent mass shootings have moved the gun control debate back to center stage. As arguments and protests heat up, there are a lot of misguided and fallacious arguments made by activists on both side, and all the political noise and stupid slogans and sound bites just confuse the issue. So here are the essential pros and cons of gun control distilled into an easy to understand format.

Gun Control Debate: Pro Gun Control Argument

The pro-gun-control movement has galvanized behind the high school students from Parkland, Florida, whose friends and peers were gunned down by another sociopathic, narcissistic, disaffected, angry, and resentful young man, who decided to take out all his frustrations by killing as many of his schoolmates as he could, as quickly as possible.

No doubt, as so many other school shooters before him, he was trying to make some kind of deranged statement that would survive him. (See, How to Stop Mass Shootings: Eliminate Rewards for Future Copycat Criminals). He probably imagined (correctly) that after his death, journalists and talk show hosts would be speculating about what made him tick, why he did what he did, what signs of trouble he may have shown that were ignored, etc. The next potential school shooter has seen that these tactics work to get the sort of personal attention and notoriety that some lonely and anti-social teenage boys seek, so we can bet that there will be other mass shootings at schools in the future.

The Parkland students are making a powerful emotional appeal. Every American voter has been a schoolchild once, and most voters either have children or plan someday to have children. So this emotional appeal hits most voters right in the gut. What if it was your child pinned down by gunfire at school, or worse, what if your child was one of the casualties?

Fear is a powerful motivator, more powerful than facts, logic, or even pleasure. And for most people that have children, they would rather suffer harm than see harm befall their children. Fear for the safety of your children is about as fundamental a fear as can be imagined, so people desperately want to address this fear.

But how do you protect your child from a school shooting? You can arm yourself, but unless you work at your child's school -- and even more, unless you are physically with your child at school throughout the entire school day -- arming yourself is not going to make a bit of difference if a sociopath decides to shoot up your kid's school.

So what do you do? Arm teachers? Well, that assumes that the teachers will actually want to be armed, that they will obtain the training and tools to face potential threats, and most of all, that your child's teacher will be among those who do so. From those I've known who teach, I would not rate this as a likely scenario. Most teachers support gun control, rather than expanding gun rights. And few people go into teaching thinking that they will be called upon to physically protect their students from gunfire. Some teachers may choose to arm themselves and get tactical training, but most will probably not.

So what choice does that leave you, as a parent? Get more police officers in schools? There have been police officers at many of the schools that have had mass shootings, and that hasn't stopped these mass killings from happening. And in some cases (like Parkland, Florida), the initial officers on the scene have held back, because they have been outgunned by a teenager armed with military-style assault rifles.

So what choice is left to protect your child, except lobbying your elected leaders to expand gun control laws. That will make you feel like you're doing something meaningful and effective. After all, the recent school shootings would not have been so deadly if the young shooters had not been able to buy a gun, or if they had not been able to obtain a high-powered semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines. If you restrict the would-be killers' access to guns, then you should be able to restrict their ability to kill so many schoolchildren.

That, at least, is how the pro-gun-control side of the debate goes. But the other side is not without its own powerful arguments, as well as forceful emotional appeals. Fear motivates voters to want gun control, but fear also motivates voters to want to own guns for protection.

Gun Control Debate: Anti Gun Control

On the other side of the gun control debate, advocates of gun rights also appeal to fear as a motivator. And this is not always illegitimate. Guns do offer protection. Violent crime is a fact in many American neighborhoods, and the police cannot guarantee your safety in all times and places.

Recently, the National Review had an anti-gun-control article by David French, entitled "Why the Left Won't Win the Gun-Control Debate," (accessible at, that succinctly and vividly conveys the primary reasons why so many Americans want to own guns, as well as the reasons why so many liberal attempts to promote gun control have failed, even as the incidence of mass shootings have increased.

Basically, people don't want to be robbed by the government of the tools they need to defend themselves and their families against criminal violence. Period.

And despite the disproportionate attention that the media pays to mass shootings, the reality is that mass shootings are much more rare than regular old crimes like robbery, rape, aggravated assault, etc.

Unless you walk around with your own posse of young toughs, or spend all your free time training in a dozen different martial arts, you will need a deadly weapon to protect yourself against a criminal attacker. If you are an average Joe or average Jane, who is middle age and a little out of shape because you work all day in an office or factory, you will not be able to fight off a criminal attacker bare handed. You will need a gun.

And if you have ever faced the very real threat of criminal violence or actually been attacked by a violent criminal, you will know that this is no idle fantasy of being Rambo or John Wayne. The right to keep and bear arms is premised on your most basic survival instinct.

Gun Control Debate: Pro vs Con Videos

Here are some videos that address the pros and cons of gun control.

Gun Control Debate: Conclusion

The gun control debate is not going to be over any time soon. It's dominated by extremists, who don't want to listen to the other side, who want to spend their time beating up straw men, rather than acknowledging any valid arguments the other side may have, and who don't want to compromise anything or give up their all-or-nothing positions. That's why normal, reasonable people need to make their voices heard too.

We should be open to some forms of gun control that can realistically prevent teenage sociopaths from getting ahold of weapons designed for infantry and police SWAT teams. At the very least, law enforcement alarm bells should be triggered when a young suburban nihilist starts stockpiling assault rifles, ammo, body armor, tear gas canisters, etc.

But we must also protect people's natural and constitutional right of self-defense. All law-abiding adults, who undertake to obtain the training and knowledge needed to own and operate a firearm responsibly, should be able to keep and bear arms freely.

For a more thorough analysis of the gun control debate, pro vs con, see Gun Control Arguments: Pro Gun Control vs Anti Gun Control.

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Gun Control Debate: Pro vs Con

Recent mass shootings have moved the gun control debate back to center stage. As arguments and protests heat up, there are a lot of misgui...