Contemporary discourse

The debate over gun control is somehow becoming even less rational, thanks to polarized positions and unstable advocates.

by Matt Hoy


Last weekend marked the 142nd annual National Rifle Association Meetings and Exhibitions. It was held in Houston, Texas, and featured such esteemed guests as Glenn Beck, junior U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Sarah Palin.

The past couple years have seen the already heated gun control debate combust. The highly publicized mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., have inspired gun-control advocates to author and attempt to pass the most comprehensive gun-control measures in two decades, an attempt that was defeated by a minority in the U.S. Senate.

Three weeks ago, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev used homemade pressure-cooker bombs, which  killed three people and injured 264 at the Boston Marathon, adding fuel to the fire for both sides of the debate. At the 2013 Members’ Meeting, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre articulated the gun-rights position and said, “Boston proves it. When brave law enforcement officers did their jobs in that city so courageously, good guys with guns stopped terrorists with guns.”

Lost in LaPierre’s remarks is the fact that no one is arguing that police officers should be disarmed.

The weekend was filled with remarks ranging from earnest to hypocritical to downright idiotic. In a moment so ridiculous it may have been satire, Beck, making an impassioned plea to the audience to view those who advocate for gun control as “either living in self-imposed ignorance or … living an argument of control,” revealed his new ad campaign for New York with Mayor Michael Bloomberg clad in Nazi regalia and performing a Hitler salute, giving the command: “You will love New York!”

The ad was followed by laughter and applause.

This is what the debate has come to. One side can only muster the courage to challenge the NRA in the aftermath of a horrific school shooting, and the other paints its opponents as Nazis during a victory lap.

People I discuss this with often argue that it’s not about the gun lobby but about responsible American citizens who just want to own their guns and be left alone. The NRA didn’t receive that memo.