Skip to comments.On Guns and Abortion
Posted on 08/09/2004 2:20:27 PM PDT by neverdem
Academically, the "slippery slope" argument is considered a logical fallacy; its the unsubstantiated belief that one action will inevitably lead to a worst-case conclusion. In politics - which is seldom logical - the "slippery slope" is used with wedge issues, trumpeting the undeniable disaster that will follow any compromise on a matter of morality. Its used to inflame and manipulate voters, to encourage distrust and the fear of mutual concession.
So lets turn down the flame and apply some common sense to two such topics - gun rights and abortion rights. First, the guns.
The Second Amendment, in its awkwardly worded entirety: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." The ultimate question - is this right conferred to the people, or to the state? - has never been resolved by our highest court, despite recent efforts to force their hand: "The Supreme Court passed up a chance to rule on the Bush administrations assertion that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to bear firearms." (NewsMax.com, 6/11/2002)
In the absence of such judicial clarity - and accepting that the Supreme Court has generally upheld federal gun laws - the issue of private gun ownership could be effectively addressed by the United States Congress. One reasonable approach might look something like this:
Consider firearms as the rough equivalent of a motor vehicle. Both require a degree of maturity and skill for proper operation. Both face concerns over safety and lawful application, since both are potentially deadly weapons. Both have restrictive provisions for their use (such as age, criminal background, drug abuse, etc.). Using the template of a drivers license, we could explore federal legislation on firearms that would involve a test-based license - one for simple ownership, with a more extensive test for a concealed-carry permit. These exams - uniform, and nationally administered - would encompass knowledge of gun safety, gun laws, and a shooting-range assessment of minimal skill levels.
An effort at such legislation would no doubt be attacked from both sides. Advocates of gun rights would claim that such testing is an abridgement of the Second Amendment; that the tests would not be devised or administered fairly; that the licensing records would be used as a national registry for eventual gun seizure by a restrictive federal government. Gun control supporters would reject any law that endorses private gun ownership, even if its intent is to ensure responsible gun ownership; they would insist that such an action would see a soaring rate of handgun deaths.
And, perhaps, thats our cue: The merits of such a compromise might indeed be measured by the volume of the outrage from both extremes.
Philosophically, the debate regarding abortion is more complex than that of gun ownership. The basic question, however, is pretty straight-forward: At what point, if any, do the rights of a fetus supercede a womans rights?
There are three basic categories within the anti-abortion population. The first group opposes abortion under any circumstances. They believe that life begins at conception, and the right to life of a fetus takes precedence over all other concerns - including the life of the woman. Their beliefs, and efforts, are aimed at making abortion illegal, period. Within this group - a small percentage, one hopes - are those who find it heroic to murder doctors who perform abortions.
The second group opposes abortion in all cases, except when the womans life is endangered. This is a quantum leap from the first tier, since the rights conferred to the fetus have become negotiable. One may disagree with the position, but at least it shows an attempt to rationally reconcile conflicting values. The third group - those who would allow abortion in cases of rape or incest - have staked out a bizarre corner in the debate. Their moral interest is not in the fetus itself; instead, they would use pregnancy as a punishment for willful sex - a woman is only eligible for an abortion if she didnt consent to the act. Those that support abortion in these cases are - from their logic - inflicting the death penalty on the fetus itself, as if it were a guilty party to the means of its own conception.
The flip side of the argument, succinctly stated by Judith Jarvis Thompson ("A Defense of Abortion," Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1971): " nobody is morally required to make large sacrifices, of health, of all other interests and concerns, of all other duties and commitments for nine months, in order to keep a person alive."
Even in the face of such a emotional issue, surely there is some common ground to at least begin a discussion. If, to the pro-lifers, abortion is the ultimate evil, shouldnt their efforts - concurrent with encouraging anti-abortion legislation - also entail broadening birth control knowledge and availability? Even if they find this morally distasteful, surely it is a minor sin when weighed against its greater good - the minimizing of abortions. In addition, to be true to their values, they should be supporting scientific efforts to expand contraceptive reliability.
Surely, to the pro-choice faction, there is leeway on the question of the "Intrauterine Cranial Decompression" procedure (termed, by the pro-lifers, "partial birth abortion"). Allowing for certain exceptions - when the womans life is endangered, or when the fetus suffers from serious genetic defects - couldnt an agreement be reached that, at some point late in the pregnancy, the woman has sacrificed the right to "abortion-on-demand?" After all, every "right" - including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms - has its legal limits.
Those on the extreme edges of both these controversies will find all attempts at compromise unacceptable. For the rest of us - living in an increasingly polarized America - finding common ground on such divisive issues may be the key to our survival. There is a limit on how much damage a foreign terrorist can inflict on this nation. Unfortunately, there is no such limit on the damage we can do to ourselves.
Charles Cutter can be reached at http://cuttersway.com.
© Copyright 2003 by Magic City Morning Star
No one holds this position.
Straw man argument.
Pro-Life: to be wrong means one has willfully taken part in the oppression of ones neighbors, and invited tyranny on us all.
Pro-Choice: to be wrong means one has willfully taken part in the murder of babies, and advocated that others do likewise.
If one must be wrong, which is best to be wrong about....
The right to life is a Constitutionally protected right, as is the right to keep and bear arms.
Here's Cutter's original article. He sounds like a reasonable moderate. /sarcasm
The author misses a key problem in his analysis of pro-lifers versus pro-choicers (who really should be called pro-deathers!) Pro-lifers do favor education, but this author implies we don't--that's why we want it to be mandatory that a woman gets information on exactly what abortion entails and all the risks it poses to her physical and mental health before having an abortion. We don't favor sex ed for school children as young as kindergarten, but we don't oppose reasonable and responsible sex ed for the public in general. Pro-lifers don't just want the number of abortions to drop, we want the number of unplanned pregnancies to drop, too. Pro-choicers, on the other hand, are opposed to education if it might cut down on the number of abortions performed. They say that they want sex ed, but they don't want abstinence to be presented as a viable option when that would certainly cut down on unplanned pregnancies. They want abortion on demand to extend so far that women are actually endangered by not going into it with all the info about the risks and the high rate of depression for post-abortive women.
Whoa! Stop right there! Read no further.
Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. You cannot compare the two.
Do we license the Chicago Tribune and require them to pass a fairness test? Do we license Dan Rather or Peter Jennings?
"Whoa! Stop right there! Read no further."
"Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. You cannot compare the two."
The last I remember reading from you was that the 2nd Amendment was a fairly lame notion since it has never been incorporated by a specific ruling from SCOTUS. Have you changed your mind, or is it a right without teeth except as recognized by state constitutions?
Dream on. He's a lunatic Leftist. He'll never back off so long as any of us have the power to overthrow the dystopia he and his fellow lunatic Leftists have in mind for we "little people."
This is something that's always puzzled me about Liberals. They think the solution to all sex-related things is more education and availablity of resources to the kiddies, but if you try to solve issues regarding firearms with more education and availability, those same Liberals will rail against it with a fervor unparalleled.
For some reason, they think sex education should be required so that everyone can make informed choices about sex, but guns and gun education should be banned because it will turn those same people into maniacal mass-murderers.
Makes me wonder what color the sky is in their world...
So much for the tenth ammendment.
They were always partial to red, IIRC, at least until 2000. Then some subversive switched the traditional pubbie blue for dem red.
If I might correct your wording.
Im a law abiding citizen if i want to buy a semi-auto ar-15 and go target shooting I have that RIGHT!
The author reveals himself to be an idiot before he even gets started making his argument.
if guns killed as many people as cars do, they would have banned them years ago. so why no car bans?
if you get a DUI (or 3) , most places you don't lose your
car. try doing something stupid with a gun and see how long
you keep it.
IF GUNS WERE TREATED LIKE CARS :
1. You could get a simple license from the State for a nominal fee and only have to take a test that any idiot could pass. You'd only have to renew it every 10 years for 40 years and maybe retake the test if you move out of state.
2. You could kill and injure people with your gun while drunk and still have your lawyer get your gun back because you need it for work.
3. You'd have half the tax burden of the county and State dedicated to improving the shooting ranges and facilities. The public agrees this is never good enough to suit them and with all the gunowners from California moving in, the range capacity will never catch up. Lines at the range are always shown on TV with the newsies deploring the crowding.
4. You could carry in any State at any time because carry and possession of your gun is honored nationwide and is considered a basic American civil right.
5. You would see commercials on TV pushing the newest, latest guns which you could lease for just $25 per month subject to the fine print.
6. You could finance a fancier gun than you can really afford by taking a 5 year loan with approved credit.
7. You would have a gun safe built into every house. In the upscale houses you would have 3 gun safes. Inexpensive houses and mobil homes would just have a gunrack by the door.
8. You'd have gun storage lockers at the shopping mall in which to store your rifle while shopping. This in order to free your arms for packages. The convenience of the shopper is paramount.
9. You could buy ammunition at the 7-11.
Full-service station means they'll reload your magazines for you.
10. The news would stop reporting gun accidents unless more
than 10 children were killed at one time. Onesy-twosey would only be notable in small towns or if Princess Di's bodyguard shot her while aiming at paparazzi.
11. If the price of ammunition rose 20% the Federal Government would release war reserves of ammo to bring the price back down to the consumer's comfort level.
Ammo would carry a 50% tax to finance public shooting ranges. Teapot Dome scandal would have been about a lead mine.
12. We'd teach gunsmithing in vocational-education programs.
13. Every 16 year old would be looking forward to the day when he could take the family revolver to school. The rich kids would get high-capacity semi-auto pistol on their 16th birthday and endanger everyone when they learn to use it in public.
14. High schools would have large gun lockers to store student's arms while they attend classes. Administrators would try to charge for the service to discourage teen-age gun carrying to school.
15. Schools would have shooter's education classes to make sure the kids could pass the test. They would show gory films of gunshot wounds. The squeamish would throw up.
16. Old people who can hardly see would still be permitted to shoot in public because to disarm them would be to damage their self-esteem. Familes would wring their hands over holes in the walls and ceiling. Occasionally an oldster would fire into a schoolyard when they mistake
the trigger for the safety. Legislators would refrain from criticizing because of the AARP's influence.
17. Congress would be debating alternative weapons systems for people who can't afford their own guns.
18. There would be such a thing as "public weapons" for the masses.
19. Congress would be subsidizing weapons for people too limited in means to afford their own.
20. Congress would be willing to float a loan to Colt's in order to ensure the survival of an American company against unfair foreign competition.
21. We, except for Ralph Nader, would dismiss 40,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries per year as "the price of freedom."
22. You would have MADS. Mothers Against Drunk Shooters (instead of HCI).
MADS would conduct a campaign of public education instead of trying to
use the force of government to prohibit irresponsible drinking and shooting.
23. You could rent a gun at any airport if you are over 25 and have a credit card.
24. You would have the fringe-greenies advocating bows and arrows because they think gunsmoke is damaging the environment. Al Gore would write a book about the damaging effects of gunsmoke. Al Gore would also claim to have been a handloader before his sister died in a powder fire.
25. You'd have huge outcry in the Press and Congress over our dependence on cheap, imported, foreign ammunition.
26. Ted Kennedy would have shot Mary Jo Kopekne instead. Ted would be a few thousand dollars richer (bullet:$0.25 vs car:$3000)
Ted would stop carrying his own gun and instead, hire bodyguards to carry fully-automatic weapons under their coats for him.
27. You'd have businesses like "Jiffy Gun-Clean" to make life convenient.But you'd always worry that they might not have gotten the magazine
fully seated afterwards.
28. You'd have "Classic Gun Events" with parades on public roads as everyone
with such a classic carries it for all the public to see.
29. You'd have huge eyesores where piles of guns are left to rust in
the open at "Gun Junk Yards". They would charge you outrageous prices
to go out back and pick off a hammer or sear which is probably also
worn out like the one you want to replace.
30. There would be a booming business and debate about substituting
non-OEM parts in the gun repair business.
31. You'd have TV news crews going under cover with hidden cameras to
ferret out "unscrupulous gun smiths." This story would be "old
reliable" and works every year.
32. The Japanese would be trying , and succeeding at taking over the market
for efficient, reliable high-quality guns.
The Koreans would be trying to sneak in at the low end of the market.
The Germans would be selling premium brands based on better workmanship,
longer life, and brand cachet. But their guns would require you to
take it to a gunsmith every 3 months for a complete tear-down and
dimensional inspection at outrageous labor rates.
The Italians would paint their guns flaming red and they would have
a reputation for being finicky.
The State Department would be applying pressure to get Japan to allow
more US-built guns into their country.
The Japanese would resist the US by saying that Japanese shooters
have extra-special safety requirements that only Japanese manufacturers
33. You'd have an entire section of the Saturday Coloradoan devoted to
ads for new and used guns.
34. You'd have a pair of fun-loving gunsmiths on Public Radio doing a show
on gun problems. They'd be named "Tap & Rack"
35. There would have been a terrible TV show back in the black & white
days named "My Mother - The Gun" It starred Jerry Van Dyke and
ran just one season.
36. Dean Jones would have made a series of stupid movies starring Herbie
the Love-Gun. Herbie was an adorable anthropomorphized cheap German
Saturday Night Special. Dean Jones would never show his face in
public again after these movies.
37. Competition would be carried on TV all day on Saturdays. The Daytona 500
would be round-count instead of miles. There would be speed contests,
endurance contests, and off-range marksmanship events.
NASGUN would create big heroes in the South and extravagant marketing
38. High-schools would paint up a gun in the colors of the opposition
and charge $.25 for you to swing a sledge hammer at that gun during
39. John Elway would own half the gunstores in the Denver Metro area.
40. Wellington Webb's wife would be carrying the finest English Double
shotgun money can buy while Wellington has body guards to carry
his semi-auto pistols for him.
41. Back in the 1970's during the ammo crisis, Congress would have set
a maximum cyclic rate for autos and semi autos in order to conserve ammo.
42. After Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait, the national cyclic rate was
raised to something all semi-autos can be comfortable with.
43. The Coloradoan would be publishing the locations of range repair work
every week to be sure no one would be inconvenienced.
44. The Beachboys would have released some songs about guns:
"Spring little Cobray gettin' ready to strike..... Spring little
Cobray with all your might....."
"She's real fine my Wonder Nine, she's real fine my Won-der Nine."
" Fun, fun, fun 'til Daddy takes her Kel-Tec away......"
45. Letters to editors would be written decrying that all those Soccer Moms
are lugging .50 cal machine guns around town, wasting ammo and getting
in everybody's way.
46. Letters to editors would be written responding that putting one's
beginning driver son or daughter behind a .50 cal would mean that
the writer's offspring would survive any conflict with lesser
47. Al Gore would claim he invented the .50cal cartridge and say he was
48. Cities would be experimenting with electric guns but would be
surprised to find that people would step in front of them at the
range because they were too quiet so no one knew the electric gun
49. President Clinton would demand that electric gun manufacturers
put a cowbell on each one to prevent senseless accidents.
50. The National Rifle Association would be reduced to selling travel
insurance for your guns because the rest of society will have seen to
it that there would be no chance that firearms would ever be banned.
Not in my world!
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