Dear Professor Hoplophobe (pseudonym):
First I would like to thank you for your willingness to discuss Second Amendment issues despite our deep disagreement about the scope and applicability of this important constitutional right. The first time we broached the issue, the tenor of our discussion was less than civil. Since then, you have agreed to continue our dialogue and I believe we would both agree that it has been constructive. I enjoy the opportunity to speak with professors from other departments, especially those with different educational and employment backgrounds. I also enjoy the opportunity to challenge political science professors because, in my view, the field focuses too much on the “political” and too little on the “science.”
I would like to start by sharing my concerns about a remark you made in our last conversation. You indicated that in one of your classes there was a vigorous discussion of concealed weapons permits. You summarized the discussion as follows: “We didn’t really get anywhere. I will never change my mind on the issue and I will never change theirs either.”
This statement of yours is problematic for at least three reasons. I dissect each one below:
1. You refuse to consider the evidence of the side you seek to influence. During our first discussion of this issue you asked what evidence I had to support my contention that concealed weapons permits reduce violent crime. I told you there were fifteen refereed scholarly publications supporting my position. I offered to share them with you but you declined. A couple of years later we discussed the issue again. By then, a sixteenth refereed scholarly publication came out supporting my position. I brought this to your attention but to no avail. You expressed no interest in examining the evidence. Today you continue to ignore it while clinging to the position that concealed weapons permits increase violence. This position of yours is not supported by a single refereed publication. I believe it is time for you to either a) review the evidence or b) stop referring to yourself as a “social scientist.” The terms “advocate” or “visionary” are more appropriate for those who deem all contrary evidence to be irrelevant.
2. You base your own opinions entirely on ideology. On more than one occasion you have said “I just don’t like guns.” On another occasion, you added that a world with guns was “just not the kind of world you want to live in.” Well, that is the kind of world you live in. There are guns. And when law-abiding people are allowed to carry them crime goes down. But you do not like the fact that we live in a world where guns are required to maintain civility. You think we should be able to “talk out” our differences. This is because you think people are good and that conflict is a function of misunderstanding or miscommunication. You so cling to this vision that you admit that you “will never change (your) mind on the issue.”
What you fail to understand is that by bitterly clinging to your gun-less religion – and it is a religion - you actually confirm my worldview. You prove that people are so selfish that they will jeopardize the public good just to avoid admitting they are wrong. You can call it arrogance. You can call it pride. You can call it hypocrisy. But I just prefer to call it selfishness. It is confirmation that people are not fundamentally more concerned with others than with themselves. That is precisely why we must have guns. It all goes back to the fallen nature of man.
3. You continue to teach the ideas that are contradicted by the evidence you ignore for ideological reasons. You are entitled to your views. But you also have an obligation to your students. They pay a lot of money to sit in your classes. They are also living out the most vulnerable period of their lives. The data consistently show that people between the ages of 12 and 25 are far more likely to experience violent crime than those below 12 or those over 25. So they need accurate information to make it in this “society,” which you concede is a dangerous place. They need more than your vision of what the world could be or should be. They need to navigate the world as it is. So, please, hear my plea: when a female student of yours asks whether getting her concealed weapons permit will decrease her chances of being raped just tell her what the published evidence says. But telling her the truth implies that at some point you will take an interest in learning what the published evidence says.
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