Ah, the NRA. The Gun Culture. What a whole bunch of strange, strange motivations lead people to own guns. But I won’t get into that here. My intent in this essay is to follow an NRA argument to its logical conclusion, which will become, in effect, a reductio ad absurdam. I will construct this argument in classic Socratic form.
Q. I’m sure you have good reasons for owning your guns. One might be hunting, which you call sport; another might be what you’d call self-defense, both from criminals and from a tyrannical government. These two reasons are among yours, are they not?
A. They are. To which I would add the purely aesthetic aspect of gun ownership: the feeling that comes with owning a very high quality precision instrument.
Q. I would like to ask you about the self-defense from criminals and tyrants. Is a pistol good for such work?
A. Well, that all depends on the number and a whole lot of other factors. But basically yes.
Q. Is a rifle better suited to fighting a tyrannical government?
A. Absolutely. The more caliber, the more shots, the better.
Q. I thought so. Then a semi-automatic rifle is very well suited to this purpose?
Q. But not hunting.
A. I’d hope not!
Q. But if your enemy has a fully automatic weapon with 500 rounds per clip, would it not be best for you to have equal firepower?
Q. You have just stated a need for equality of firepower. Since this is a requisite for self defense in the face of a tyrant, is it also true that you would hold that owning such weapons is well within the rights of an American, under the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of arms ownership?
Q. Then the need is unlimited, because the struggle for equality of armaments will always be subject to one-upsmanship. Eventually, you will have to argue for legal ownership of nuclear weapons.
A. That’s ridiculous! I never said I supported any such thing, and you’re stretching your logic to extend to an area in which it does not have reason to be.
Q. I think I’ve backed you into a corner, and now you’re trying to create a new room. You lose.