“People can still kill without guns” is a stupid argument against gun control

Some people argue against gun control on the basis of other methods to kill existing. To put their argument in a valid form:

  1. We should control guns only if no other methods to kill people exist.
  2. Other methods to kill people exist.
  3. So, we should not control guns.

They state 2, which is obviously true. The problem is that 1 is obviously false. The generalization, “We should control X only if no other method to do what X does exists,” entails not controlling almost anything. Now perhaps someone wants to go in on that, but the only way I see that happening is if they are just anti-control in general. But then 2 is irrelevant.

Killing people is also just one feature of guns. Guns can also do other things. Guns also kill people differently from how other things kill people. On the second point, guns are different from knives in how efficiently they can be used for killing. On the first point, the uses of guns and knives are very different. So, consider a refined argument for gun control:

  1. If something is a particularly efficient tool for killing people and also is not much better than alternatives at some good function, then access to it should be restricted.
  2. Guns are a particularly efficient tool for killing people and also are not much better than alternatives at any good function.
  3. So, access to guns should be restricted.

To this, the objection that other methods of killing exist does not apply. Any of the following would be applicable objections:

  • Guns are not particularly efficient tools for killing people.
  • Guns are much better than alternatives for some good function.
  • Something is a particularly efficient tool for killing people and also is not much better than alternatives at some good function, and access to it should not be restricted.

The first option is just silly. Guns are great for killing people. That’s most of the appeal.

Some people do go in for the second option (they point to hunting, collecting, etc.), though that those are sufficiently good functions is very unclear.

I think the third option is right. I will not dive into it in this post, but an objection of that form needs to find one or more examples of things that are good for killing, not great for anything else, but should not be restricted. Of course, to just say guns fit the description would be to beg the question. Some other example, like bombs, needs to be given, and an argument for that made.

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