Emotion: The Deciding Factor in the Gun Debate

image via flickr.com

“Am I next?”

The sign taped to the front of a stroller in which a cute, innocent toddler sat, pushed by her activist father on 18th Street NW, in Washington, DC., relayed a sense of urgency. Is clinging to guns really worth having the blood of that sweet, little, blue-eyed girl on your hands? Guns kill. Supporting their availability makes you an accomplice to murder.

The anti-Second Amendment demonstrations across the country on Saturday presented another example of the Left’s acute awareness of the power of emotion in human action. From an intellectual standpoint, classical liberalism and the 20th-century conservatism that carried its mantle are far superior to Marxism, Progressivism, or any left-leaning ideology that seeks to improve the human condition through government. But people rarely make spiritual, amorous, or ideological decisions based on intellectualism. Intellectualism serves a long-term purpose, but in the realm of politics, it’s nearly useless. The Left gets this, and that’s why it wins politically far more often than the Right.

As great as it would be to focus on policy from a strictly philosophical perspective, maintaining that idealism against those who cast political victory in terms of light and darkness—good and evil—life and death—means perpetual drubbing at the polls, and, dare I appeal to emotionalism? the loss of constitutional rights.

The National Rifle Association understands these stakes and has adapted its strategy accordingly. Its propaganda campaign that it rolled out after President Donald Trump’s election with Dana Loesch casts the Second Amendment debate in exactly those terms. Are the stakes really that high at this point? Of course not! Is the NRA appealing to emotion over reason? You betcha! But failing to do so equals bringing a butter knife to a gunfight (no pun intended).

The Right has more cause to cast this debate in terms of life and death and the survival of American civilization than the Left. Think of all the underage girls that will be raped because authoritarians decided to deprive their families of the right to keep and bear arms. Think of the children that will die defenseless in classrooms because their teacher couldn’t legally acquire a gun. Think of the babies shot through the neck in their mothers’arms by psychopaths because the lady that would have saved their lives could not legally obtain a firearm; and therefore, could only watch helplessly while the killer completed his work.

Ridiculous analogies, many would say. Those who want common sense gun control don’t want to take people’s right to self-defense away from them. Handguns will still be legal!

But do those 16-year-olds, who will vote in 2020 and every election thereafter, who are demonstrating against guns in general, even know what laws are on the books already? Do they care? They’ve been brainwashed to be anti-gun, not anti-rifle. Besides, the gun-grabbers abroad have already shown that they won’t stop until it’s almost impossible to obtain any firearm.

We certainly need to revamp civics and history instruction in schools so that future voters will understand the value of a constitutional democracy and why an assault on the Second Amendment would imperil every freedom. But that’s a long-term project. In the short-term, gun-grabbers need a good beating at the polls; and the only way to do that is to emotionally convince voters that those kids and their plump, professional handlers marching in the streets threaten their children’s life and liberty.

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