Informed Man vs. Irrational People

Dick Metcalf

Dick Metcalf

It’s hard to have a rational debate with irrational people. Ask Dick Metcalf.

A noted man of guns, Metcalf wrote a column for Guns & Ammo magazine proposing that, maybe, there should be rules for getting a concealed-carry permit.

He was then fired.

Regardless of what a person believes, if they’re irrational about their beliefs, it’s impossible to talk to them about anything. This is why Metcalf — even for proposing something so modest as requiring a person wanting to carry a little machine of most-efficient death secretly in their pocket to take a test — got canned.

It didn’t matter that Metcalf has decades of experience, as well as an all-around gun gravitas that even the most devoted gun-control advocates respect. Irrational people — irrational people who buy guns from people who advertise in Guns & Ammo — made up his readership.

“I believe that everyone I knew, even the people who worked for the companies responsible for the advertising pressure — because they are hearing [from customers], ‘We’ll never buy another one of your products if you continue to advertise in this magazine that has this anti-American traitor in it’ — but they all believe it,” Metcalf said in the Atlantic story, “Why We Can’t Talk About Gun Control,” which ran online on June 29, 2014. “I can’t tell you how many senior executives at firearms companies, over a beer when no one’s watching, will say, ‘You do know we realize that, of course, at least a third of our customers shouldn’t be let within five miles of a gun.’”

These are not rational grownups. This is the kind of thing that retards humanity’s march toward the colonization of Mars and warp-speed travel. With black and white, no-budge, absolutist thinking like this, we’d never have the wheel, the printing press or ice cubes.

Everything has rules. Metcalf compared gun training to driver instruction. Both guns and cars can kill — although guns are specifically designed for it; killing is more of a side effect for cars — but the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license are considerably more stringent.

Irrationality is what makes gun control taboo. The second amendment, adopted in 1791, is viewed as holy scripture and above criticism, despite the fact that humans are a lot smarter in 2014 than they were in 1791. We also have rocket launchers now. How many things that we thought to be true in 1791 do we still think to be true in 2014? George Washington wasn’t speaking ex cathedra.

The most disturbing part of the Atlantic‘s interview with Metcalf isn’t that Metcalf was fired (although that is bad), or the readership was so outraged that Metcalf, an Army veteran, was deemed un-American, but that quote in which Metcalf claims gun manufacturers knowingly sell guns to people they know should not have guns.

This comports with things we know about corporations. Profit > ethics. Look at Chick-fil-A. As soon as it realized its president’s anti-gay opinions might hurt spicy chicken-sandwich sales, it caved. Corporate morality is pliant. Also, now that gay-marriage bans are being ruled unconstitutional in more and more states, corporations are starting to endorse pro-gay causes — and because most Americans under age 35 (Americans who spend a lot of money) are pro-gay.

But there are still irrational people — like Mike Huckabee. To make Dan Cathy feel better, the former Arkansas governor and (loosely) presidential candidate helped organize a day on which everyone with “traditional family values” (it is unclear if these values include the part where, historically, marriage could be a contract between two men, one of whom was bartering his daughter for things like land or goats, or land and goats) ate at Chick-fil-A. Based on the principle of corporate moral pliancy, this must have been mortifying to Chick-fil-A.

While gay rights have fared better, there is no middle ground for gun control, as Metcalf found out for sharing his extremely rational opinion.

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