Parkland and the Trouble with Appealing to ‘Common Sense’

Signs at a “March For Our Lives” rally in Sacramento, Calif., March 24, 2018. Since the shooting in Parkland, Fla., gun-control advocates have escalated the vitriol in an already polarized political climate. These activists publicly berated Marco Rubio at a good-faith debate and brandished $1.05 price-tag stickers : allegedly the value of a Florida student’s life in NRA contributions. Abetted by the media, they essentially claim that Republican legislators all knowthat we could eliminate school shootings, but choose to do nothing because the NRA is so deep in their pockets — or because they simply do not care enough about kids being shot in class. After Parkland, Barack Obama also shared his thoughts, once again calling for “common-sense gun safety laws” on Twitter. While Obama’s favored policies certainly lack sense , it is the rhetoric of his pet phrase, now widely assimilated into the gun debate, that has committed the greatest harm, toxifying our discourse to its current post-Parkland state. It is not, you see, that gun-control advocates expect lawmakers to take drastic measures such as repealing the Second Amendment and confiscating all firearms (although some would certainly like that). Rather, critics lambast legislators for failing to pass the type of legislation no one could reasonably object to — unless, that is, one had ulterior motives. When a faction promotes its ideas as “common sense,” it necessarily generates a destructive corollary: Opponents to “common sense” no longer hold different values or just see things differently. It now follows that […]

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