Obama abandons logic for emotional push on gun control

Tim Carney:
Whenever a politician proposes a policy surrounded by children, skepticism is in order. But skepticism, logic and sound argumentation are the enemies of President Obama in his gun control push, which kicked off Wednesday on a White House stage filled with kids.

After December's Sandy Hook massacre, Obama has reached deeper than usual into his bag of debater's tricks and rhetorical ploys. He assigns evil motives to those who disagree with him on policy. He tries to pre-empt cost-benefit analysis with facile assertions that any policy is mandatory if it will save "only one life." And the most contentious policy he seeks -- a ban on so-called assault weapons -- has near zero correlation to the problem he claims to be addressing.

Obama on Wednesday told voters to ask their congressman "what's more important, doing whatever it takes to get an A grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?"

Obama's direct and unmistakable implication: The only reason to oppose an "assault weapons ban" is for campaign contributions. In his press conference, he credited "an economic element" to "those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measures."

Obama rules out the possibility that some people deeply value the constitutionally enshrined right to bear arms. Concerns about unintended consequences? Obama doesn't acknowledge those. Anyone studying the 1994 "assault weapons ban" can see it did little to curb violence. But in Obama's mind, that argument is just another cover story for "I Want More NRA Contributions!"

Obama engaged in this same sort of argumentation during the health care debate. While he had the full backing of the drug lobby, the President described Obamacare opponents as those who "would maintain a system that works for the insurance and the drug companies."

Obama's most facile argument Wednesday was this plea for gun control: "[I]f there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try." Vice President Biden said a week earlier that "if your actions result in only saving one life, they're worth taking."

The flaw in this reasoning is pretty obvious. Thousands of Americans will drown this year in swimming pools. You could save many of those lives by banning swimming pools. That doesn't mean we have "an obligation to try" banning swimming pools.

We don't outlaw pools because -- however heartless this sounds -- we weigh other goods against the good of preventing deaths. In the case of a pool, we weigh the costs to health, fun and liberty against the lifesaving benefits of banning pools. When talking about gun control, we could weigh lives saved by outlawing guns against the costs to recreation, liberty and self-defense. But the Obama-Biden "just one child" rule precludes any two-sided analysis.
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Another problem with the "If there's even one life that can be saved," argument is that you could make the same case for concealed carry, but Obama does not apparently support that as a life saving opportunity, even though there are numerous examples of its efficacy.  But then his kids as props theme would not work so well would it.

Obama's rhetorical style is not longer fooling as many people and pointing out his logical fallacies maybe a full time job during his second term.

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