June 18, 2003

The guest commentary in today's Seattle Times is from Matt Rosenberg, a regular contributor to the paper. He is a thoughtful writer, with whom I often agree. He sometimes covers gun issues, usually with a pro-gun viewpoint (he isn't reflexively anti-gun). However, in a piece urging for a ban on pit bulls, after a series of vicious attacks in Seattle and elsewhere, he tacks on this dismaying throwaway line:

You might own a docile, loving pit bull. Others may responsibly harbor a perfectly legal Bushmaster XM15-A3 assault rifle. Neither should be allowed.

Overlooking the factual error of calling the gun an "assault rifle" (true assault rifles are fully automatic weapons, and have been banned in the United States since 1933), there is a fatal flaw to the analogy. Guns cannot attack anything without human intervention, unlike a pit bull. A gun will not escape from its enclosure and maul the mailman, the toddler next door, or the shih-tzu down the street. Guns will simply lie there until a human intervenes. (If you are wondering why Rosenberg specified the particular weapon he references, I believe it is because it is the weapon used by the Maryland snipers, one that provokes the desired set of responses in many people).

I am curious as to why he added the totally unnecessary rhetorical flourish to his piece. In my opinion, it weakens his argument, by trying to tie it to an unrelated issue with significant support. I have sent off an e-mail to Mr. Rosenberg, and if he responds (either here, or through an e-mail intended for publication), I will post it.

(Edited 20 Jun 2003 to correct ugly prose. No significant changes to content.)

posted on June 18, 2003 06:03 PM


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