11

I am attempting to write down my thoughts on the increasingly popular issue of gun control in America. I am generally disgusted by politics as a whole, as what I've seen of it generally devolves into a thinly-veiled name calling contest by representatives of either party. I don't want to be just another voice in that babble. I would like to logically evaluate the reasoning behind each party's claims and suggestions, and attempt to find a solution which is backed by simple logical deduction.

This is proving difficult. I am a Republican, so I understand the general reasoning of the Republicans (guns don't kill people, people kill people). It's the reasoning of the Democrats which I can't find, and would like to understand.

My friends are virtually all Republicans. If I try to ask them why the Democrats want to limit the guns rather than the people who have access to guns (which as best as I can tell is what they want), their answers usually follow the lines of: 'because they think the gun did it', or sometimes simply, 'because they're stupid.' This obviously does not help me.

It only makes sense that there is a logical reasoning behind the Democrats' desire to limit guns rather than the people. I can't believe, as my friends suggest, that they truly hold the gun responsible. If that was true, why would they ever arrest the shooter? There must be a reasoning behind their stance. I just can't seem to find it.

I went to the DNC to see what they had to say about it. Unfortunately, as is often the case with politics, what they had were their plans for what they wanted to do. Nowhere could I find why they wanted to do what they were listing, versus what the Republicans wanted to do.

I went to the GOP to see if they were any better. They at least opened with a short line about how they believed "Lawful gun ownership enables Americans to exercise their God-given right of self-defense," but, like the DNC, the majority of the section was about their plans. Nowhere could I find anything saying what I know they believe: that the person is responsible instead of the gun.

While this is of course a single issue, and I haven't researched others in this matter, I wouldn't be surprised if it is equally hard to find the official reasoning behind any goals of a party. That reasoning is what I would like to hear, and understand.

So that's my question: Where can I find the official reasoning behind a party's stance on a political issue? Preferably without having to read between the lines of them bashing the other side every five seconds.

NOTE: The "people kill people" philosophy I am using is only the most basic of reasonings on the Republican side. I am using it as an example. It is not meant to suggest that there are no other arguments, or that I know of no other arguments on the Republican side.

  • 2
    To have an "official reasoning" you need an "office" with some kind of authority. What authority would you like to hear from? The DNC and RNC are really just fundraising/campaign organizations -- they don't really pick the candidates or tell the candidates what to support. You will just have to go to the library and read the leading writers on either side. Preferably those who have lots of readers, not those with official titles. – user15103 Feb 26 '18 at 18:55
  • 10
    Before you answer: Please note that this is not a question about firearms policy. It is a general question about where to find the reasoning behind political stances in general. Please don't post answers where you just list anti-gun arguments, because that's not what this question is asking for. – Philipp Feb 26 '18 at 19:00
  • 1
    Are you interested in just the official party platform or perhaps would examples of important politicians who care to explain their views and how they came to them work? I don't think platform committee minutes are public, but many big shots have written books and articles. – user9389 Feb 26 '18 at 19:23
  • 1
    @notstoreboughtdirt Politicians explaining the logic behind their stances would be a great first step, as they are the ones most actively promoting the policy. The reasoning behind the official party platform would also be useful, as it would represent a reasoning (I would imagine) that most members of that party would agree upon. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Feb 26 '18 at 19:55
  • 4
    You could just google "arguments against gun control" and "arguments for gun control" (without quotes). This wouldn't give you official party positions, but would give you arguments to evaluate logically. I find your goal to "find a solution which is backed by simple logical deduction" laudable, but most likely impossible. At the very least, you'd have to establish some fundamental principles (equivalent of axioms in mathematics). – barrycarter Feb 26 '18 at 21:41
2

I have run into the same problem; in politics as with smooth-talking car salesmen, many people are urged to action without knowing the reasons why.

The best way is to talk with people and see what they think.

America is about protecting the rights of the individual, through each individual's fulfillment of corresponding responsibilities.

The Founding Fathers of the United States were strongly opposed to political parties:

One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. - George Washington's Farewell Address

Prophetically, Washington has identified for us one of the main reasons why official explanations, if they exist, are misleading more often than not. Don't trust them.

Searching for or giving credence to an "official" explanation is, I think, a misguided attempt to take the power of an educated vote out of the hands of the people and to place it in an untrustworthy organization. It is untrustworthy by its very nature of trying to replace individual thought with widespread programming of the masses. In fact, once we start searching for such explanations, we are likely falling into the trap that Washington warned us against. In practice, I have found that people vary widely in their reasoning from "official" explanations, and may support or object to a given policy or action for reasons that are quite distinct or divergent from any "official" stance, or for no reason at all.

Now, this does not mean that people are not entitled to listen to someone else's opinion, nor is publishing opinions or explanations categorically bad--including the opinions of prominent statesmen, philosophers, religious leaders, etc. We all are, of course, free to choose our sources of information and ideas. I have benefited very many times from the practice of consuming ideas, sources, rationales, discoveries and testimonies of very many other people as I try to form my own rational and moral views of the world. I interact with and learn from a wide variety of people, but I consider no one to be truly authoritative except God Himself. What is to be strictly avoided is taking any sub-divine being's "official" or unofficial explanation as true without any effort to reconcile with one's own rational faculties and moral compass. Parties often try to bypass that crucial step, leading to groupthink.

I hope we'd all conclude that we don't really have just two or three or even a few hundred political ideologies in this country. The ideal would be that we would have as many distinct political ideologies as we have people.

In my own political views, I do not endorse "official" explanations offered by members of the party I often find myself agreeing with. Instead, I form my own opinions on the basis of sound reasoning and good conscience. Outsourcing the responsibility for our own moral and policy judgments to someone else would be quite antithetical to the nature of a democratic form of government.

So in short, I am suggesting that (a) you're far better off engaging with individuals and sampling actual voters' worldviews and opinions rather than searching for an official explanation, and (b) since parties often focus on painting their adversaries negatively rather than appealing to reason, the official, reason-based explanations you are looking for might not exist.

3

I would suggest that you look into political organizations that support what the Democrats say. Wikipedia has a list of pro-gun control lobbies that you can further research. Off the top of my head there is the "Brady Campaign" which was named after Ronald Reagan's press secretary who suffered brain damage from a bullet fired during the Reagan assassination attempt.

I would also recommend Wikipedia's "Gun Culture in the United States" article which lists a neutral-ish stance of both sides of the issues.

I would also recommend looking at the historical arguments around the 2nd amendment including what the language of the time meant as well as the relevant Federalist Papers (#46 I believe talks exclusively about the Framer's opinions on why they thought the Second Amendment was necessary).

I would also recommend looking into the pro-gun rights side, as you seem to grasp some of the nebulous tenets, but not the basics of the argument (i.e. either you are not convinced by the Republican position OR you are not fully informed).

As further advice, I would double check any numbers that are not listed as "per capita" (per capita is usually "100,000 people" in statistics). Some sites will do per million or per 100. These are okay, but per hundred thousand is most commonly used. For all numbers that are per million, divide by 10. For all numbers that are per 100, multiply by 1,000. For all numbers per a population that is represented by a number not divisible by 10, toss them out). This is important because a lot of numbers will throw out incidents per country. The United States is the 3rd largest country by population, so any number by country will be higher in the United States as they can be about 5x to 40x higher than Western European countries.

I would also keep in mind that at a more individual level, the Democratic Party's position can run the gamut from "Repeal the Second Amendment" to actual political organizations like "Democrats for the Second Amendment". This isn't limited to the Democrats, as the NRA may be the largest Gun Rights lobby, but out of all Gun Rights legislation they only opposed two bills and partially opposed a third bill... their record on actual gun legislation is surprisingly okay with Gun Control... and they are criticized by some Gun Rights organizations for being too soft (notably the Gun Owners of America (in general) and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (because Hitler was Pro-Gun Control for the Jews... when you're the JPFO, every bit of Gun Control is too close to Hitler's policies for comfort).

Basically, look at the lobbies and support of the general Democrats decision position (and even the Republicans... just because they generally oppose doesn't mean they all agree on what level of gun control is needed. Remember, the NRA has endorsed more gun control regulation than it has opposed.) It never hurts to read as much as you can on this or any issue. More information never hurts your opinion.

  • "(i.e. either you are not convinced by the Republican position OR you are not fully informed)" ... Or I just didn't list the whole argument because I wanted to avoid sparking one. :) – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Feb 27 '18 at 17:09
  • @ThomasMyron: Fair enough. That was entirely guesses on my end, from reading your questions. Still, as I said, on any position always seek out the best arguments from both sides and never attribute to malice what is equally good faith argument that you just don't agree. – hszmv Feb 27 '18 at 19:14
  • 2
    @notstoreboughtdirt Care to explain? Per capita is typically given as 100,000 in most statistics, as far as I am aware. With two exceptions in looking for numbers, all data I found were rates per 100,000 people when looking at various useful information for other arguments. – hszmv Feb 27 '18 at 19:22
  • "[...] what is equally good faith argument that you just don't agree." I'm not sure what you meant to say here... – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Feb 27 '18 at 19:29
  • 3
    "Remember, the NRA has endorsed more gun control regulation than it has opposed" = though perhaps technically correct it's quite misleading as the NRA goes well out of it's way to prevent regulation from even getting proposed in the first place. – user1530 Feb 28 '18 at 0:40
2

One option I haven't seen explored here yet: go to the place where all they have to make their case is logical reasoning -- the courts. I'd recommend starting with the Supreme Court. These obviously don't represent party positions, but it certainly represents the height of what one would consider logical reasoning driving policy decisions.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinion/17

Find a case where an issue you're trying to understand was litigated and see what the courts have to say about it. For example, with gun control, the 2010 case D.C. versus Heller offers some insight:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller#Dissenting_opinions

Some excerpts from the wiki article that sum up the dissenting opinion:

The Breyer dissent looks to early municipal fire-safety laws that forbade the storage of gunpowder (and in Boston the carrying of loaded arms into certain buildings), and on nuisance laws providing fines or loss of firearm for imprudent usage, as demonstrating the Second Amendment has been understood to have no impact on the regulation of civilian firearms. The dissent argues the public safety necessity of gun-control laws, quoting that "guns were responsible for 69 deaths in this country each day.'"

With these two supports, the Breyer dissent goes on to conclude, "there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas." It proposes that firearms laws be reviewed by balancing the interests (i.e., "'interest-balancing' approach") of Second Amendment protections against the government's compelling interest of preventing crime.

  • 2
    Hi and welcome, this is an interesting approach which should turn up lots of very well reasoned arguments. But maybe not strictly official reasoning, since the people making these arguments are different than the people who proposed the policies. There is even some reason to suspect there are important differences; the commerce clause has been used to as legal justification to restrict guns while pretty certainly the point of the restrictions is always safety. – user9389 Jul 19 '18 at 17:53
  • @notstoreboughtdirt True, and I was going to mention something about that deficiency until I read the Heller dissent: Breyer argued specifically in favor of gun control from a pragmatic perspective (public safety). So while they are mostly charged with making legal arguments, they seem unafraid to mention pragmatic policy arguments as well. Plus, major parties often formulate their arguments around what they believe will be upheld in the highest courts, so there will hopefully be overlap. – bvoyelr Jul 19 '18 at 18:01
0

Where can I find the official reasoning behind a party's stance on a political issue?

One problem is here that you assume that there is an official reasoning of a party's stance on a political issue. It's also not clear what you would accept as official reasoning.

"Official" might mean that most (a decisive majority maybe) of the party backs that position. But often enough a party's stance is the result of internal compromises between different political factions. The reasoning might then be purely utilitarian (example: I support guns because they create jobs in my constituency.)

"Official" might also mean publicly available. While I agree that there must exist a reasoning behind every political stance, it may simply not be known to the public. It seems advantageous not to publish the reasoning behind every political stance (or the reasoning behind the reasoning and so forth) in order to limit the attacking surface to the political opponent. Even worse, one may even lie and publish fake reasoning in order to convince additional voters who one may expect not to be convinced enough by the true (hidden) reasoning.

Do you mean "official" in the sense of what they pretend might be the reasoning behind their stance or do you mean the true reasoning that they hold themselves?

The published "official" reasoning (which might not be the complete or even true) can nevertheless be found in:

  • party manifestos
  • debates on party conferences
  • contributions of highly ranked party officials
  • relevant publications on party platforms

Unfortunately these are usually noisy and often very vague.

Regarding the US: The Wikipedia page on the Political positions of the Democratic Party and Political positions of the Republican Party and particularly the references therein and the references of the references might be a good starting point.

For the true reasoning or for the parts that are missing, you have to guess like the rest of us. Maybe you trust them that what they say is what they mean, maybe you don't. Use common sense. Judge them by their past actions. If you have inside knowledge, that's probably the only sure way of knowing.

Finally, the reasoning (official or not) is quite volatile. It's not unheard of that parties change their position (and associated reasoning) frequently if they think it gives them an advantage with the voters. Any information you get, might already be outdated.

-1

The difficulties you have found is that he Democratic Party, like any human organization, will have a membership on a spectrum of various ideologies with indefinable borders. There are several factions that make up the Democratic party including a conservative and libertarian wing.

My guess is that the belief expressed on gun control come from the progressive wing (with a sprinkling of the liberal wing). But let me define what the most common belief is. Here is what Wikipedia says is the Democratic Party's stance on gun control:

Gun control With a stated goal of reducing crime and homicide, the Democratic Party has introduced various gun control measures, most notably the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Brady Bill of 1993, and Crime Control Act of 1994. However, some Democrats, especially rural, Southern, and Western Democrats favor fewer restrictions on firearm possession and warned the party was defeated in the 2000 presidential election in rural areas because of the issue.[143] In the national platform for 2008, the only statement explicitly favoring gun control was a plan calling for renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.[144]

To summarize, it is that the local and federal governments need to take a firmer and more direct approach to stand in the way between the citizen and danger in the form of keeping as many guns as possible away from the population.

This is to say that you will not find a stated reason why this is believed by the party because it is evident, from the liberal point of view, that only the power of the government can make this happen. And because it is self evident, there is no need to state it.

When arguing this point of view, I always give the example of Net Neutrality, something that is very similar but that can be examined clinically because it has not killed anyone that I know of. Yet people of both parties and all sections of the political spectrum will swear that it is by enacting laws and using the power of the government, can something as good as Net Neutrality succeed. Obviously, private individuals are powerless to do anything about the evils that Net Neutrality will protect the citizens from.

The short story is that you will not find a stated position on why gun control should be the law of the land, because it is self evident.

  • 2
    Worth emphasizing that it is only self evident from the progressive point of view, not a liberal one, not a conservative one, and obviously not a libertarian one – Ben Feb 26 '18 at 23:29
  • 1
    @Ben The reasoning is still obvious, but those people tend to think it is incorrect reasoning, based on incorrect facts, or not the right way for society to work. – user9389 Feb 27 '18 at 16:42
  • 2
    This doesn't answer the question of "Where so I find reasons?" See Phillpp's comment – Bobson Feb 28 '18 at 11:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .