“So you conservatives think regulating guns won’t end gun violence, but that regulating abortions will end abortion? Isn’t that hypocritical?” This question can sometimes be asked by liberals when they are told that gun restrictions or gun bans have a negligible and sometimes catalytic effect on gun crime.
However cleverly put this question is, it is still very simplistic, and it is also important to realize that it is a red herring fallacy – it is not an actual rebuttal to a conservative’s objection on gun restrictions, but an attempt to distract from the topic altogether, and so far, it works! After they pose this question, liberals can exit the debate triumphantly because conservatives usually don’t have any good answers for it. The question suggests that conservatives are hypocrites for wanting to end abortions by making it illegal while denying that same principle to liberals for gun crime. Yet if liberals and conservatives understood the massive difference between gun control and abortion in this respect, they would see that conservatives aren’t hypocrites at all.
Firstly; conservatives aren’t so arrogant as to believe that there is some utopia free of evil we can attain if we just had the proper government regulations on human behaviour. As lovely as ridding the world of abortions sounds, we are very aware that making abortions illegal won’t put a stop to all abortions. The reason pro-lifers, American specifically, want government to overturn Roe v. Wade is because the precedent re-labels that which is immoral as moral (or at least, amoral). So not only do we find ‘evil women’ (for lack of a better phrase) committing evil, but otherwise good women are given permission by the law to do evil. Making abortion illegal would discourage otherwise good women from doing evil.
Mass shootings, on the other hand, are committed by evil people through-and-through, without any regard for the law, and so, banning guns or restricting them further would only affect the behaviour and gun-usage of law-abiding citizens (good people). It is absurd to believe that a man willing to shoot up a room full of defenseless people is going to all of the sudden care that he will be fined $500, let’s say, should he be caught carrying the gun with which he intends to shoot them!
Abortion and gun control are very different in light of how good and evil people react to laws preventing them from and permitting them to do evil.
Let us look at some numbers regarding abortion and gun control.
The rate of abortion sky-rocketed from mere hundreds in the early 1960’s to over 700,000 after Roe v. Wade, then to a million three years afterwards, and has remained over a million ever since. To say that this increase in abortion was solely the fault of its legalization is irresponsible; we must also take into account the sexual revolution and the changing perspectives of women and the family in the 1960’s as well as the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies that had also been steadily climbing from the 1950’s. But it would not at all be unfair to believe that abortion has been and remains a sort of ‘fail safe’ for women who are irresponsible with sex. Even Obama unabashedly says abortion has and will allow women (especially his daughters) to correct their mistakes and escape the “punishment” that is child-bearing! Do you suppose one million women – and even more considering the number of children being born to unwed mothers – would be so frivolous with sex if they could not be absolved of their punishment for a mere $300 – $500?
It is not at all hypocritical for conservatives to take the position that making abortion illegal, encompassing a complete cultural shift, would decrease the rate of abortions on this basis.
In 1996, a year after a mass shooting similar to that of Sandy Hook, the UK resolutely decided that they were going to ban all gun ownership among citizens. Since then, gun-crime has increased 300% – from 2,636 gun-related crimes to 9,974 gun related crimes. In Lancashire in 2009, gun crime had been shown to increase almost 600%! Not only has gun-crime increased in the UK, but Britain is also reported to be the most violent county in the world!
In Mexico, citizens are not permitted to carry guns in public – they must remain in their homes. Somehow Mexico, having only a third of the American population, outranks America in gun related deaths at 12,768 deaths a year. These high numbers are obviously due to drug war in Mexico, but if anti-gun Americans won’t consider myriad of underlying causes for mass shootings and high gun-related deaths in America (like mental illness and gang activity), then the drug war shouldn’t be considered for Mexico either.
And lastly: In the state of Illinois, no one is permitted to carry a concealed weapon, and yet Chicago – the largest city in that state – has had 487 homicides in 2012, about 440 of them being gun related, as well as 2 364 gun-crime incidents. The Huffington Post reported that the death toll in Chicago is higher than the death toll in Afghanistan – a war zone!
Considering that even strict gun-control does absolutely nothing to stop gun-crime, it is not hypocritical for conservatives to reject harsher gun-control laws.
In the case of Abortion, we have good reason to assume that with making it illegal, the number of abortions would decrease, but with gun control, we have absolutely no reason to believe making certain guns illegal or further restricting them will make gun crime decrease. This along with how good and evil people respond to laws preventing or permitting evil show us that gun control and abortion are unalike … that you can be for restricting one and not the other without being hypocritical.
Avey Owyns | University of Windsor (Ontario) | @AveyOwyns