The Rhetoric of Gun Control

Andrew J. McClurg, The Rhetoric of Gun Control, 42 American University Law Review 53-113 (1992).

In a democratic, pluralistic society, action on any issue of social importance depends on acceptance of the action by many different audiences. Acceptance depends on the audiences being persuaded as to the rightness of the action. Persuasion depends on effective rhetoric.

Unfortunately, effective rhetoric is often fallacious and logically defective. A fallacy is a type of incorrect argument, and the study of fallacies is a sub-species of logic. A fallacious argument is one that appears to be correct and which may be very persuasive, but which proves on closer examination to be logically invalid.

In this article, the author asserts that fallacious argument dominates the gun control and gun rights debate on both sides. The author identifies and explains many specific examples of fallacious reasoning and argument in the gun debate, including fallacies of emotion, fallacies of diversion, and fallacies of proof.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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