[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 3 May 2013. I have included an extensive addendum to memorialize the structure of the current gun control debate in our country’s widening ideological schism, and to illustrate key factors in the asymmetric understanding and approach taken by the Left and Right when they meet in a public forum such as was provided by the 1may13 edition of ‘Breaking Bread’ on NCTV. To view this and past episodes go here and search archives with 'Breaking Bread'.]
Last month our community television station NCTV launched Breaking Bread, a new independently produced program airing monthly and available online. Breaking Bread is an hour-long program featuring discussions of national issues and current events. At the start I want to emphasize that the program’s objective is to present and clarify the different perspectives in our socio-political landscape from which people view the issues that “alter and illuminate our times”.
The program will feature co-hosts and guests who as a group will represent a diversity of views and seek to make them understood. And where possible, we will also try to reach some consensus. Therefore Breaking Bread is not intended as a debate but an open, unformatted, and unrehearsed get together wherein the participants offer their own views on the topics discussed.
The program debuted on 5 April during which its five co-hosts were introduced discussing ‘Language and Labels’. You can access the inaugural edition on NCTV’s website at nevadacountytv.org or from this commentary’s transcript posted on my website. The same will be true for all subsequent editions of the program – after all, this is the 21st century.
We recorded the second edition of Breaking Bread, titled ‘The 2nd Amendment and Gun Control’, on 1 May, last Wednesday. The program was co-hosted by Paul Emery, KVMR news director, and me, George Rebane, introduced as “a conservetarian blogger and commentator with a lot of birthdays and, some say, a contentious ideology.”
Joining as guests were Nevada County’s Sheriff Keith Royal, Mr Norm Sauer, a retired lawyer who lectures on constitutional affairs, along with Mr and Mrs Nick and Amanda Wilcox who tragically lost their daughter Laura to gun violence. They are prominent gun control advocates and supporters of the Brady Bill.
In framing the discussion that followed, I reminded viewers that people of the Left, who advocate for stronger gun controls or even confiscation, approach gun ownership from an episodic or topical point of view. Their stated objective is to reduce gun violence, or more specifically, gun deaths. And the statistics they cite, along with descriptions of horrific episodes of murder and mayhem, are designed to grossly simplify the issue, and get the listener to focus on events that everyone wants to prevent, and wishes that had never happened. Liberal academics have identified this common and effective tack of public debate as ‘issues activism’, basically a bottom up approach that the Left uses to induce the desired public opinion.
The Right approaches gun ownership top down through the 2nd Amendment, arguing the intent and writings of the Founders in their drafting of our Constitution. They see the real purpose of grassroots gun ownership as necessary to keep government from going rogue, and if it does, then as a last resort, to launch a successful revolution. This, after all, was the explicit intention left to us in the legacy of our country’s early years. While the Right does admit to the need for some regulation in who gets to own what armaments, it points to history that records tyrannical governments killing their own citizens in the hundreds of millions during the 20th century - all as a matter of intended policy, and not related to wars or combat. Such killing by governments is called democide, which took over 260M lives during the 20th century.
So, of gun violence one must ask, ‘Would you sacrifice ten lives to save 10M lives?’ Yes, of course. Or ‘Would you sacrifice 10M lives to save ten lives?’ Of course not. But for such a trade-off the correct answer for each of us lies somewhere in between, and in the realworld the numbers are never known for certain, but must be estimated using probabilities. For those who don’t understand the role of probabilities in assessing realworld uncertainties, as is required in making public policies, then any reasoned discussion of such policies will be inaccessible to them. Instead, we will hear from them nothing but their emotional outpourings on the matter. But then, reasonable discussion has never been a necessary prelude to legislation or regulation.
My name is Rebane, and I expand on this and related themes on NCTV and on georgerebane.com where the addended transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However these views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
Addendum: The Asymmetry of Information and Tactics in the Gun Control Debate
With this addendum I want to reflect on the experience from taping the second edition of Breaking Bread (BB2) covered in the above transcript of 3may13 KVMR commentary. The experience of that telecast both confirmed and expanded on the asymmetry of information and tactics used by the Left and Right in today’s gun control debate.