Bloomberg’s The Trace author goes for another round in caliber debate

Ordinarily, when I’m arguing with advocates of gun control, I’ll carry on the conversation as long as it goes on that day—in other words, a continuous exchange until one of us gets tired of trying to convince the other.  But once it’s over, it’s over.  Yes, I feel at times what the French call l’esprit de l’escalier, the wit that comes to us on the staircase that we wish we’d said before leaving the party.  But most of the time, it’s best to move on.  Sometimes, however, a follow-up is needed, particularly when the conversation is happening in a public forum in which others are listening.

An example of this is the back and forth of articles and discussions that has been going on between Alex Yablon and several of us in the gun community.  His article, “America’s Obsession with Powerful Handguns Is Giving Criminals Deadlier Tools,” was an illustration of the lack of knowledge so often to be found among those who oppose private ownership of guns, and it drew criticism on Twitter and from gun writers such as Bob Owens of Bearing Arms and me.  I also had an interview with Cam Edwards of the NRA’s Cam & Co. in which we both made ourselves available to journalists who want to learn about guns.

Yablon responded on Twitter to several of us, defending his article and attacking us for being uncaring.  He does the same in an article on The Trace, titled, “The Author of ‘The Second Dumbest Thing You’ll Read About Guns Today’ Responds to His Critics.”  Much of his response article is a repetition of what he wrote previously, and on that, I’ve had my say.  But there are a couple of points worth addressing.

According to Yablon, ordinary Americans who are buying handguns for self-defense are making choices on the basis of marketing by gun makers.  “Safety is, of course, equated with the ability to incapacitate or kill adversaries. The qualities that guarantee safety are those that make it easier to kill: greater ‘stopping power’ provided by faster, larger rounds, and more ammunition.”

All right, I do have to repeat one point:  People who bought .45 Colt revolvers in the second half of the nineteenth century were doing the same thing Yablon thinks we’re doing as a new trend today, buying guns that work.  He conflates, though, two things that should not be so glibly muddled, incapacitate and kill.  As I’ve explained before, shooting in self-defense, in legal terms, is to stop an attack.  That must be proportional to the threat being made and only as long as the threat exists.  This is not mere verbiage.  An act of self-defense is morally justified when it’s to save an innocent life.  By contrast, murderers hunt down their victims.  And when people on the gun control side confuse these two actions—a deliberate confusion, I suspect—they’re implying that there is no qualitative difference between them.

My suspicion is confirmed by the second new point that Yablon makes to close out his article.  “We at The Trace strive to understand how the types of lethal instruments in Americans’ hands—all Americans, be they law enforcement, law-abiding civilians, or criminals—are changing, because that may have public safety implications.”  I’ll take him at his word on that.  But he goes on to say that those of us in the gun community who criticized him have a “different framing” of the subject.  I’ve discussed the implications of framing before, and I’ll suggest here that Yablon is doing that to pull a fast one.  He says that we’re “ardent enthusiasts, passionate advocates, and have a wealth of knowledge,” but claims that our “command of technical details should give them some insight into what causes tens of thousands of Americans to die violent deaths every year. Instead, they wave that concern away.”

In the interests of professionalism, I’ll refrain from writing the first words that came to mind while reading this falsehood.  I’ll let others speak for themselves, but if Yablon would read my articles, he’d learn that I do address the numbers of Americans who kill themselves or are killed by gunfire again and again.  I even offer solutions.  Perhaps from Yablon’s perspective, I appear uncaring because I haven’t adopted the faith of gun control, but I prefer solutions that have the advantages of offering some promise of working, rather than being the failed attempts of the past, and respect rights at the same time.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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