The “nobody needs” fallacy

Does anyone really need old family snapshots? Pictures of your child as a baby, or of your grandparents on their honeymoon have no monetary worth and nearly no practical value. What can you do with them, besides looking every few years. Would you be OK with government taking away by an arbitrary decree?

We don’t need apples. Pears are close enough and can be used in the same recipes. Would you be OK with apple growing being prohibited?

Nobody needs to read Jonothan Swift. Should the books be destroyed for their supposed advocacy of cannibalism?

When we are robbed of snapshots, apples or books, we are robbed of more than sentimental value — we are robbed of free choice! Applied to guns, the claim that we don’t need them — though faulty in itself — is first and foremost ethically offensive to the core! To have a master decide if you may have a pear but not an apple, or a smoothbore shotgun instead of a rifle, or any other personal aspect of your life is the very definition of slavery. It’s the major component in learned helplessness. When our government officials behave as domestic abusers, it’s time to start wondering why.

The gun banners are right on one thing: weapons are a special case, just not the way they think. I may have a gun that I do not need. It could be less than a wallhanger, just something taking up space in the attic. But that lack of purpose goes away the second somebody wants to rob me of it — defending against brigandage becomes that gun’s primary purpose.

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16 Responses to The “nobody needs” fallacy

  1. A good discussion of why we need assault weapons:

    —Question: Why would any citizen need an “assault weapon” or 30-round magazines?

    Answer: To fulfill the purpose of the Second Amendment, defense against tyranny. The Second Amendment is not a quick word about hunting in between nine other rights that limit government powers. The founders recognized man’s greed for power, and set up balance of power in the Constitution, between the three branches of the federal government, between the federal government and the states, and between government and the people via the Second Amendment. To deter tyranny, people must be able to balance governmental power, and hunting rifles cannot do that. “Assault” is the name of a crime given to inanimate objects by those with an agenda to mislead and bias those who are uneducated about firearms, when they are talking about essentially all semi-automatic firearms, which are 90% of firearms in the United States.

    —Question: How do we know this?

    Answer: An interpretation that gives a law effect in fulfilling its purpose is always accepted over one that does not effect its purpose. The purpose of the Second Amendment is clear: “Necessary to the security of a “free” state”. A strong military is necessary to the security of any state, even a totalitarian state. However, a “free” state, requires a balance of power between citizens and government.

    —Question: How do we know they weren’t talking about the militia as the military?

    Answer: Because the militia and military can be controlled by the government, and it would defeat the purpose. Interpretations of law that give language effect are always more valid than those that have give language no purpose. The wisdom of the Second Amendment is to balance power by distributing the only real power amongst all the people, who have not had a chance to be corrupted by power like those in authority and government, and thereby making power fluid, instead of monopolized.

    —Question: So what weapons do you need? Tanks, planes?

    Answer: Nobody is talking about those – don’t distort our argument. We are only discussing semi-automatic weapons. Semi-automatic rifles are absolutely necessary to fulfill the purpose of the Second Amendment, because its purpose cannot be fulfilled with bolt-action and single-shot rifles. Also, allowing the government to regulate the right to the point of making it incapable of achieving its purpose of defending against tyranny is also antithetical to its purpose, and therefore void as unconstitutional. George Washington said in his State of the Union speech in 1790, ”A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them…”

    —Question: What if some believe we could never defeat the American military with those weapons anyway?

    Answer: A hundred million patriotic, Constitution-loving gun owners are a powerful deterrent to a would-be tyrant with a 2 million person army. Besides, the U.S. military could barely control Iraq.

    —Question: What if we believe Tyranny cannot happen in the U.S.?

    Answer: Greed has not been erased from the hearts of men. Dictatorships, genocides, world wars, holocausts and other horrors plague the rest of the world, and Americans with our Second Amendment have to go bail out out the “civilized’ world every few years. History is not magically over, but will repeat itself.

  2. Andy says:

    I think the Jonathan Swift analogy hits closest to the mark. People see firearms as dangerous so if you’re not drawing a comparison to something that’s a potential danger to society, the argument will fall on deaf ears. Fortunately there are lots of examples of supposedly “dangerous” people and/or issues to draw on. For example, did gay men *need* to have sex back in the ’80s and ’90s when HIV was a big danger? Why didn’t we ban them from doing so? Did the American Nazi party *need* to march in Skokie, IL in 1977? It’s not hard to find more examples like this and they’ll play much better than baby pictures with skeptical people.

    • LarryArnold says:

      For example, did gay men *need* to have sex back in the ’80s and ’90s when HIV was a big danger? Why didn’t we ban them from doing so?

      Uh, “we” did.

      Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003),[1] is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court. In the 6–3 ruling, the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in thirteen other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory. The Court overturned its previous ruling on the same issue in the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, where it upheld a challenged Georgia statute and did not find a constitutional protection of sexual privacy.

    • squashpup says:

      My favorite is, “Why does anyone NEED a sports car that goes 180 MPH?”

      But, my second favorite is, “Why does anyone NEED to drink alcohol?”, because it comes in with a built-in example of how horrifying the consequences are when you try to prohibit something.

  3. LarryArnold says:

    Question: Why would any citizen need an “assault weapon” or 30-round magazines?

    Because in a free country I get to decide what I need and don’t need. In order to prohibit my possession of anything you need to prove first a compelling societal reason for the ban, and second that there isn’t a less-restrictive way to attain the same effect. In the case of a Constitutionally protected right, you need to prove those two things beyond a reasonable doubt.

    And I don’t mean, “Well, the AWB didn’t work last time, and Connecticut’s AWB didn’t protect Sandy Hook Elementary, and New York’s AWB didn’t protect the firefighters, but next time we’re going to have the right people in charge.”

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  6. Ritchie says:

    Once you start by answering the question, you have already accepted the underlying premise that the question revolves around “need”.

  7. Dean Weingarten says:

    How about: Nobody needs 24/7 media coverage of these mass killings. It is very dangerous and leads to the copycat effect where unbalanced people are given an incentive to kill masses of innocents in order to become famous.

    While many statists would agree to limit the First Amendment here, many others woud see the point.

  8. snoopycomputer says:

    I was trying to put together (with little success) some witty line that contains the basic illustration that “when the pendulum swings the other way and it’s leftists struggling to fight a government they see as oppressive, how will THEY hit the rest button?”

    Something like, “well, in 2032 when President Palin has removed abortion from the government’s Universal Healthcare plan, outlawed alcohol, and armed robotic quadrotors are rounding up homosexuals into green-electric-motor trucks, with which Assault Weapons will you fight to defend their rights?”

  9. Sigivald says:

    I occasionally think about rebutting such things with “nobody needs a car with a V8″.

    But then I remember that their kind want to (eg. as they kept pushing to in Australia) ban those too.

  10. Daniel in Brookline says:

    As a clever man once said: It’s the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Needs.

    And lest we forget, the purpose of those first ten amendments was NOT to grant rights to Americans. It was to limit what the government could do. That’s why it does not say “The people shall have the right to freedom of speech”; it says “Congress shall pass no law” etc.

    No, I don’t need an AR-15… yet. But my need being questioned certainly does make me WANT one. (A great many people apparently feel the same way, which is why AR-15s are so hard to buy nowadays. The dealers sell them as fast as they get them.)

    Daniel in Brookline

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