Thursday, January 5, 2012

Major Logical Disconnect

I feel really bad about the shooting of Mt. Rainier National Park Ranger, Margaret Anderson.  Please do not take the following rant as in any way an attitude of disrespect for the deceased.  In fact, the reason I've been following this story is because of the way the story pulled at my heart strings.  Ms Anderson had two young children; it is a tragedy when any young children are left motherless.  It is also hard when any law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty.  Certainly a two-fold tragedy!

However, a quote included in the Huffington Post article by Mike Baker, portrays a major lack of cohesive thought. I can't see why Mr. Baker even included it unless he was hoping the Huffpo readership is so anti-gun that such readers would not stop to think about the content.  I suppose to be fair, I could imagine that he only wanted to highlight the stupidity of the anti-gun crowd, ... but ... somehow ... well ... it is Huffpo ... sorry if I have trouble stretching my imagination that far.

Let me set the stage here, according to the information included in Baker's article.
  • Benjamin Barnes was under a restraining order, because of his violent tendencies, thought to be due to post traumatic stress disorder related to his military service.
  • Barnes was released from his army service due to driving under the influence and transporting private weapons illegally.
  • Barnes appears to have fled to Mt. Rainier National Park to escape investigation regarding a shooting at a house party south of Seattle at which four people were injured.  The article stops short of alleging Barnes was the shooter, but only just.  It is certainly implied.
  • Barnes disregarded the Park Ranger checkpoint set up to enforce vehicle chain requirements.
So, we already know Barnes was given to violence.  He didn't respect weapons laws. We are lead to assume he had recently shot several people.  And he blew through a Ranger checkpoint in the moments preceding the shooting.

And yet according to the article, this tragedy is refueling debate over a 2010 law that allows legally permitted gun carriers to carry their weapon in national parks.

As proof of this refueled debate, Baker found Bill Wade, outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.  Hmm.  Already I'm convinced.  Nothing against Mr. Wade; I'm sure he's a decent guy.  But by including this big long position title, "outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees," the author calls upon readers to listen carefully to the quote.  To respect the opinion.  But instead, I think to myself  sarcastically,  "Oh, a prestigious position, indeed! Kind of makes me wonder how long Baker had to search to find the opinion he wanted." 

(For any couch logicians out there, Joe just informed me this is called the fallacy of appeal to authority.  It actually has a name.  The gentleman has been the chair of a reitree group.  He is a former Park Service Employee. The title says nothing about his knowledge of guns, gun laws or gun crime statistics.  But the man's title is included to give credence to the assertions being forwarded.)

According to Mr. Wade, as quoted in the article, "The many congressmen and senators that voted for the legislation that allowed loaded weapons to be brought into the parks ought to be feeling pretty bad right now."

Mike Baker continues the article with more of Mr. Wade's opinion, "Wade called Sunday's fatal shooting a tragedy that could have been prevented. He hopes Congress will reconsider the law that took effect in early 2010."

So, in spite of Barnes' violent tenancies, a previous firearms citation, the fact that he was fleeing a crime scene at which numerous people were injured by gunshot, and the obvious disregard he showed for Park officials by ignoring their checkpoint, we are supposed to believe that were it illegal to bring weapons into a National Park, Barnes would have stopped somewhere along the way to deposit his guns for later pick-up.  Or perhaps he would have turned around when he got to the park entrance.  Or maybe, if he simply forgot about the law until the checkpoint, when he got there, instead of racing through it, he would have stopped, apologized for having weapons in his vehicle, and surrendered them at that time.

But sadly, history shows people are swayed by such arguments.

Reminds me of the Gun Free Zone parody that circulated a few years back.

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