Validating Cases for Gun Control

Section 1: Introduction

The present study draws upon Campion et al. as a candidate argument proposing some plausible policy remedies in response to a ‘burning issue’ as well as to a recurrent downside trend that has shown some troubling evidence of worsening, supposedly nationwide. It has yet to be seen if this pattern in question (i.e. violence and its backlash amid gun control supposedly being very limited if any) is really that representative (large-scale as well as persistent) and policy-relevant, or if the means being suggested are necessary or sufficient or both. Since this is a joint or entwined issue, it will have to be made separable and tractable along either deductive or inductive lines, let alone stand to empirical or otherwise scientific scrutiny, should the core arguments turn out weak (induction) or unsound (deduction).

Section 2 outlines the general exposition as to how the basic rationale is constructed over and above whatever lies on the surface (whether at odds with rigorous scrutiny or not). Section 3 aims to decompose and zoom in on the argument with an eye toward the less intuitive detail while distinguishing between the deductive versus inductive layers as well as the ‘gray area’ of lesser soundness or cogency urging some extra evidence and inference. Section 4 approaches what appears as the core conclusion from an altogether different point of view while acting on the conjectured missing links or lax areas.

Section 2: Exposition

Campion et al., is a team of medical professionals who, in addition to holding doctorate degrees, boast a very up-to-date clinical expertise and field awareness of the major crisis mechanisms and an in-depth knowledge of how the stages are sequenced and cost items accrue to particular channels, like extra pressure on the personnel and facilities on top of outlook-based scoring, etc. In light of the stylized coverage of the recent Texan tragedy, featuring a single gunman having killed 58 and injured another 500 people, the study reasonably argues it is systemic crisis-prevention that might count most heavily in ensuring safety as key to peaceful civilian pastime—at odds with the decades of bipartisan ‘playing possum.’

The basic rationale could be recovered and detailed as follows. To begin with, the apathetic public and Congressional response may have been correlated with the repeat patterns of violence. However, even if this [flawed] impulse-response pathway were to be sustained, it is a major and extraordinary event such as the recent mass assault that might upend the status quo while calling for more of an active policy move—as aligned against and backed up with a public consent yet to be garnered.

In a sense, this emergency call has been made by an ordinary man who would not have been profiled based on an extreme religious or partisan stance, and nor did this murderer boast any special training for that matter. He may well have been an average-type person, but that only really questions the conventional background and psychic checks or their adequacy. If a person such as this was able to usher in that much suffering (and could have done ‘better,’ had it not been for the special ops’ prompt reaction and counter-assault effort), the implied force multiplier has grown easily too strong for it to be overlooked, or for the law- and policy-makers to look to the second-order (or are they?), more-general causes like counter-insurgency expertise.

Put simply, this force multiplier lends itself with the ‘enviable’ ease of switch in between semi- and full-fledged automatic shooting modes. For this reason, any sales of semi-automatic firearms should be restricted or inconvenienced. This could be the single most critical concern, actually gaining extra relevance, perhaps in light of the longer-term costs and indirect or latent and cumulative consequences as coupled with the urgent (surgery and reanimation) and posterior (intense therapy and rehabilitation) treatment, let alone loss of functionality or employment prospects. The nation cannot afford overpaying carelessly, in terms of the human capital being forgone for lack of policy consideration. And the latter is to be ‘nudged’ by the public signaling consensus on the above.

Or has the nation had to pay by overlooking the more ultimate linkage, while condoning sheer rent-seeking?

Section 3: Rebuttal of Argument

In actuality, the above rationale could best be reconstructed in inductive terms, with some deduction likely implied in the interim or middle-argument layers. It would appear that the study arrives at the corollary of semi-automatic gun control (dub it R for ‘restriction’) being a necessary condition, or a strong prerequisite for reasonable or acceptable safety S to obtain. All of the prior reasoning (X) is deployed to lend support or validity to this induction. As a first guess, it could be recovered as follows:

(X→R)AND (R→S)=(X→S)

Irrespective of whether the whole of X is valid (on empirical, logical, or ontology grounds): If this is the case (as is maintained), safety can be ensured (with good odds) by building on restrictions.

However, this is a sheer oversimplification of the likely (or best possible) argument structure being implied. In fact, one should bear in mind the chasm between the ‘is’ versus ‘ought’ (or ‘shall’) qualifiers, as there is no transitivity between naturalism and moralism, or the positive versus normative. Roughly stated,

is X→shall R

The other part would suggest that we need R to secure S, and one minimalist way of capturing it all without drawing on the modality operators would be to set the right direction for necessity: ‘Based on X (= insofar as X holds true), restriction is a necessary condition for safety,’ i.e.

[X→(notR→notS)=[X→(S→R)]

This might well be a valid argument—deductively as well as inductively so—as the key S-R implication holds irrespective of whether X is true and more so if it is, yet cannot be false just because (or if) X is either false or weak (empirically unsupported)—much less if true or valid (for the entire or higher-level argument to boast deductive validity). Needless to say, this does not make X irrelevant (or the entire argument a sort of fallacy); rather, the entire setup shows signs of being largely inductive, with cogency hinging on how valid or complete X is.

It is for this reason that X may have to be scrutinized from a variety of standpoints (with research questions listed below):

(XQ1) Is X true (empirically or factually) or valid (if decomposed as an argumentative structure)?

(XQ2) Can one think of any alternatives to X, or ways of either questioning or supplementing it?

(XQ3) If X is treated as a host or aggregate, would its standalone elements pose varying validity consequences, or can X be refuted wholesale by questioning the S-R validity?

For the same token, one may want to first check if R may have collapsed a set of very different remedies (some possibly being at odds with the rest)—and the same goes for S as safety criteria.

The X argument could be reconstructed in ways that call for rebuttal. Notably, Campion et al. argue that the recent episode stands out as anything-but-commonplace, which the less scrupulous observers or partisan tricksters might interpret as suggesting it is at odds with the long-term trend (‘lousy but tolerable’)—as if to be discarded as an ‘outlier’ or a ‘black swan’ which neither belongs in regular econometric analysis nor could have been predicted.

In any case, arguing for a major divergence might be a weak point on the authors’ part, and the ensuing logic (recurring again as the ‘dull man’ magnifier) may be taken with a grain of salt. ‘Black swan’ aside, anything of the sort could have been anticipated. Thus, failure to act on such odds puts too many agents at fault while diluting their personal or agency-specific liability. Or, if the more-general rationale (potential)  renders chance-events (some materializations of X) superfluous—along with the extra impulse-response at the law- and policymaking ends, whether excessive or gap-filling,–this could carry over to the entire X.

But, does that make the S-R channel unconditionally (trivially) valid? After all, a variety of R could have differing effects, some of these accruing to joint conditions once rethought. To illustrate this, suppose a more in-depth background check as backed up by (or reduced to) mounting suspicion in case of repeat firearms purchase (which is akin to second-strike criminalization despite mere [single-shot] purchase being legal) are likely to prevent similar crime from occurring. After all, carrying multiple weapons has a lot more to do with a deviant propensity than it does with the Second (possession) or Fourth (unreasonable search and seizure) Amendments while aggravating the odds of violating other peoples’ (e.g. music festival participants’) First-Amendment right to ‘peaceable assemble’.

Both qualifications (on predictability and repeat pattern profiling) may amount to thought experiments, even though they have not been drawn by analogy.

Section 4: Refuting the Conclusion

The basic X structure could informally be rethought as follows: ‘Even an average person, when armed, can usher in severe safety risks. By induction, these risks are even higher whenever the person is strongly deviant and/or excessively armed.’ The S-R implication steps in as, ‘Therefore, R (the less armed…) ensures S (…the better).’

However, it has been implicitly embedded from the outset (the ‘and/or’ clause) that the premise is complex (complementary, compensatory), e.g. the person may be less well-armed yet more-deviant while triggering similar outcomes. What may render one more or less deviant would pertain to a host of variables or dimensions either overlooked or collapsed to arguments that are neither deductive nor inductive, e.g.‘world-disclosing.’ The latter may have to do with ontological or cultural premises (not to be ‘refuted’ either logically or scientifically), e.g. with some or most religious groups pointing out that he was likely ‘possessed by devil’ as an nonreligious and evil person (in which case a lack of affiliation or identity is no control variable), or was downright cynical and inconsiderate of fellow human beings and their basic rights. One can in fact think of more-controversial ‘world disclosing,’ e.g. the US Constitutional right to carry firearms as derived from ethos—whether valid back in the late 1700s only or too immanent to be recognized or policy-altered.

In any event, it may be deviance and not arms sales as such that has to be controlled and scrutinized in greater detail first and foremost (hotel check-in not least), with R not sufficing even if necessary, now that the appetites of weaponry manufacturers are far harder to curb amid their lobby standing for the single gravest corrupt incentive (ethos flip-side?).

The above analysis may hold irrespective of whether the authors, too, reveal a partisan (self-selection) bias by implicitly cherry-picking on the Republican audience and agendas thus appealing ad hominem—and to authority, on the strength of their signatory-number and academic credentials (evidently non-philosophic).