The Interminable Character of the Gun Control Debate

Daniel Lattier | December 8, 2015

The Interminable Character of the Gun Control Debate

The debate about gun control is raging once again, and to be honest, I’m already bored of it.

By saying that, I don’t wish to belittle the seriousness of the issue. It’s just that the issue of gun control has that “interminable” and “irrational” character that philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre says marks so much of contemporary debate:

“The most striking feature of contemporary moral utterance is that so much of it is used to express disagreements; and the most striking feature of the debates in which these disagreements are expressed is their interminable character. I do not mean by this just that such debates go on and on and on – although they do – but also that they apparently can find no terminus. There seems to be no rational way of securing moral agreement in our culture.”

Above all, those for no (or very few) limits on gun ownership point to the right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, and the right to defend oneself.   

Those for greater gun control claim that Americans have a right to safety that is threatened by citizens owning powerful weapons.

What is there to rationally mediate between these competing invocations of rights? What deeper principle – based on a commonly-held view of truth and life – can answer for us which side is correct?

(Crickets)

If there’s no rational way to reach a resolution on the gun control debate, the only means left to resolve it are propaganda and other forms of coercion, e.g., legislative, judicial, etc. Then it's eventually "resolved" through one side strong-arming the other and eventually getting the upper hand.    

Sadly, I fear that we're past the point of rationality when it comes to gun control. Perhaps ironically, the issue will most likely be resolved through force.