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Gun protests should not eclipse sound judgment

New York Teacher

The New York Teacher ran two articles in the April 5 issue in support of the anti-gun March for our Lives demonstration.

Individuals who buy into the rhetoric believe the solution to gun violence is as simple to understand and to effectuate as recitation of the anti-gun slogans themselves. It isn’t. We should instead be asking: “How do we curb societal violence?” No simple cause exists for today’s societal violence. Accordingly, no simplistic solution exists for curbing it.

The existence of popular support for imposing further gun restrictions does not constitute good and sufficient evidence for curtailing a fundamental right. Reliance on the will of the masses to push through more gun legislation is an example of the argumentum ad populum fallacy, known to antiquity. The fallacy proceeds from the false idea that popular opinion or consensus by itself constitutes sound evidence to support the truth of a claim. It doesn’t.

Those taking part in recent mass anti-gun demonstrations clamor for further restrictive gun measures. But throngs of people holding fervently to the belief that imposition of further restrictive gun measures would reduce gun violence does not logically entail that further restrictive gun measures would, in fact, reduce gun violence. People, by sheer dint of numbers, shouting in concert, cannot make a false proposition true, or “truer,” much as they might wish.

As educators, we should be mindful of the danger in allowing — during the intoxicating heat of the moment, while in thrall to horde exuberance — raw emotion to eclipse calm deliberation and sound judgment.

Stephen L. D’Andrilli, retired

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