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Post-Parkland Shooting Town Hall

by Andrew Jones

“Do you still beat your wife?” is the paradigmatic example of a loaded question. Responding “no” implies you did but don’t anymore; responding “yes” implies…well, there is no implication: you beat your wife.

This was the theme of the questioning during the town hall convened in the wake of the Parkland shooting massacre. The questioners included the students affected by the Parkland shooting, the questionee was Senator Marco Rubio, and the loaded question implicit throughout the deposition was “With all of this blood on your hands, Mr. Rubio, what do you have to say for yourself?”

The unchallenged premise is that Senator Rubio’s inaction (not legislating gun control) is the cause of the Parkland shooting (the deaths of students). And so, just as whether the husband beats his wife is assumed and not up for debate, Rubio’s legislative inaction is assumed without argument to be the cause of the Parkland shooting.

Once this ground is ceded to gun control advocates, the flood gates open: every legislator who opposes gun control legislation—or even fails to propose gun control legislation—is responsible for every gun death. Indeed, to see some examples of how far-reaching that supposed responsibility will attach, simply look at pictures of the signs wielded by protesters at the various March for our Lives events that took place in March.

All of this goes to show the importance of identifying causality. Would gun control legislation have prevented the Parkland shooting? Reasonable minds may disagree, and therefore this point should not be frivolously unchallenged. To quote Ayn Rand, “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow.”

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