Gun Control Legislation & Obama’s Emotional Appeal

In an address directly from the White House, President Barack Obama describes his vision for the country with regards to gun control legislation, particularly in the wake of the tragedies of recent history. He states that the United States faces a “gun control epidemic” and does not shy from emphasizing the extremity of the necessity for stricter gun control for American gun holders. He continues to remark that, “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency…it doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close”. So how does he hope to add a new perspective on this issue that can be heard differently?

The answer is a major emotional trigger. He mentions individuals such as Zaevion Dobson in his heroic act to save girls from a gun rampage as well as a number of cities in reference to major violence tragedies of American history. He recalls the incidents in movie theaters, schools, and more. He emphasizes the young ages of the victims, the lack of safety in the most common public places, and the absence of “pursuit of happiness and liberty”. Eventually, he even moves to wipe a small tear from his eye. All of this goes to serve his attempt at generating an emotional connection to his audience.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take to Twitter to respond to the President's remarks.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take to Twitter to respond to the President’s remarks.

Only later does the true suggestion for legislation come. He calls for required background checks, stricter enforcement of laws, full disclosure about mental health of those pursuing ownership, and increased technology to better control who is firing the weapons.

The President’s strategy is ultimately very effective through the way that it slowly builds the captive audience’s attention and direct emotional connection to the speaker. There is no immediate mention of legislation or policy nor listing of statistics. He restates and connects all of the facts concerning the recent tragic gun-related attacks and builds a close conversational aspect of his speech. Despite the fact that the liberal agenda can frequently be fought by the GOP, there is no denying that the Republican candidates will have to overcome a lot of popular opinion concerning this “much needed” call to legislation from President Obama.

“Gun Violence”: The Background of the Statistics

As we fall subject to the myriad of statistics that come pouring from news sources and politicians, we must stop and think about more than just the numbers and percentages. What is the framing of the fact really saying and is it really generating the true meaning of the number? Am I really absorbing the entire context behind a statistic or simply the surface-level rhetorically-aimed information that a politician or campaign wants me to believe?

A New York Times article posted June 2016, “Compare These Gun Death Rates: The US Is in A Different World”, covers the homicide rates in the United States in relation to other countries around the world. Blogger for Mises Wire Ryan McMaken describes this “tactic” of gun control advocates to incorrectly frame data in a way that can create a false stance in regards to the issue of gun rights in the country.

The New York Times graph, depicting the death toll rate in the US compared to other Western democracies.
The New York Times graph, depicting the death toll rate in the US compared to other Western democracies.

The Times article depicts a scale in which a number of countries are plotted on an axis in relation to their respective number of homicides by firearms. The US is in fact demonstrated as a far outlier with a high number. Though, McMaken attempts to debunk this depiction in demonstrating what a graph would show if instead countries were compared against overall homicide rates. He argues, that while the countries with increased legal ownership of firearms definitely has increased homicides due to firearms, they do not necessarily have overall increased general homicides. His point is that firearms also prevent homicides.

Here, McMaken demonstrates the actual low homicide rates of the states relative to other countries globally.
Here, McMaken demonstrates the actual low homicide rates of the states relative to other countries globally.

Through his research and efforts, McMaken attempts to describe the powerful phenomenon of the way that media rhetoric can impact our perception of these statistics and graphs. As a flippant reader and less context-aware reader of the New York Times, a simple gloss of the article would lead one to think of the “loose” gun control of the US as an incredibly dangerous and lethal component of our laws. In another frame, an opinion could drastically change. The persuasive ability of our definition of “gun homicides” vs. “homicides” in its very simple distinction has a powerful effect on the way that we as citizens can comprehend our belief in the issue and current state of the country. This raises even more interesting questions about the way that we intentionally listen to the policies describes by our candidates amidst this coming election which greatly points to a gun control clash.

“Gun Control”: What Exactly Have We Been Saying?

It is interesting that such a hot topic for debate among modern politics, particularly the 2016 election, can actually offer such a misunderstood dimension of the common argument points. When we talk about the Second Amendment and the issue of “gun control”, do we even really understand how this rhetoric can transform our views and ultimately lead to real legislation?

Greg Hartman of from the Polizette describes the enormous gap in the way that politicians talk about, and we respond to, the debate of citizen gun rights. Amidst the sensitivity of the age-old Constitutional right to bear arms, experts have advised liberal candidates to stray from the term “gun control” as it paints a negative, anti-freedom picture of those who are actually pursuing “gun safety”. This idea has particularly obvious benefits in that, in essence, every person can acknowledge an ultimate belief in safety, when some may have a problem with “control”. Cornell University’s Jonathon Schuldt notes that “Those who are for tougher gun restrictions should favor the ‘gun safety’ frame, which may be especially powerful in the wake of the recent tragedies.”


What is also compelling about this argument is the level to which we discuss Trump and Clinton and their respective stances on the Second Amendment. We so frequently talk about their policy and strikingly different views about legislation should they win the Presidency. Now, it is as if we take ten steps backwards just to see how the framing of the words can in themselves, direct some perceptions about the issue.

What isn’t new is Hartman’s discussion about politicians and candidates alike raising points about the alarming number of mass shootings in the country in recent years. Though, he moves to describe how a definition problem could also be in play. When the Washington Post stated that there is a mass shooting in the United States every day, it caused a heavy turbulence of response. Now, Hartman describes the difference in definition of “mass shooting”. Both included in this word association are the incidents of guns involved with robberies and gang activity as well as those involving Islamic extremism. Though we can all acknowledge that an case of gun violence is certainly one necessary to address when it comes to gun rights, the true definition of a “mass shooting” could really skew the way that candidates campaign and also pursue legislation. This notion of a mass shooting “epidemic” creates an undeniably fear and somewhat false sense of where the issue could really originate.


Schuldt’s description of these implications of misunderstood and misused terminology promotes a slight stretch in suggesting that these liberal policymakers are just trying to completely disarm citizens with the use of more extreme terminology. Though, I think that his article raises very interesting points to consider when we both discuss and absorb the debates concerning the Second Amendment. This rhetorical analysis gets right to the core in even studying the true meaning and definitional accuracy behind these commonly used terms. It also beckons towards the possibility of other major hot words that could also need some understanding.


An Emotive Rhetorical Battle on Gun Control

In order to stay rhetorically consistent in the midst of this heavy and controversial election round, Republican candidate Donald Trump is making bold statements about the Second Amendment. Following years of dispute regarding the correct action in response to violence of “unrestricted” gun laws, this topic creates a major point in the debate this election season. Accusing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton of trying to “abolish the Second Amendment”, Trump takes his argument far further.

This time around, he attempts elicit an emotional response in voters’ minds when he brings up the matters of recent mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, California. He argues that, if people were able to carry handguns with permits, these shootings would not be as deadly. This is powerful counter argument and rhetorical strategy uses Clinton’s (and many other Democrats’) basis for stricter laws. Instead of suggesting that people could have protected themselves, the opposition claims that these permits are exactly what facilitate these incredible and devastating acts in the first place.


This issue is even hotter in 2016 due to these even more polarizing and radical candidates for change. While President Obama had maintained a softer fight against gun rights in the two previous elections, Clinton shows no signs of softening her stance. She has geared her rhetorical strategy in effective and unique ways in order to pivot and respond to different audiences of voters. In attending black churches and presenting statistics to families of victims while also steering clear of any address of these stricter regulations in blue collar regions in Ohio and Pennsylvania who hold closely Gun Rights, she intelligently adjusts her emotional tactics with response to a crowd.


Even more controversially, Trump suggests gun-free zones at military bases and schools, with schools being one of the most horrific settings for gun violence in the past years. Obama and Democrats have attempted to affect legislation that would expand background checks and ban assault weapons. Mr. Trump fired back with saying, “The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own”.


Through his typical bold and seemingly rash rhetorical tactics in this election season, Donald Trump undoubtedly elicits a unique response in voters’ minds. He attempts to remind Americans that the right to hold these handguns can provide an added level of protection that cannot possibly be guaranteed at all points and relying solely on law enforcement. He suggests that there are real genuine and trustworthy people that can, if we simply agree, protect our families and loved ones just as the early Constitution suggested in the Second Amendment. At this point, the determinant factor is whether his emotive argument can “trump” hers.



Newsflash: Trump Remarks Sparks Outrage, Gun Rights

When Hillary wants to “essentially abolish the Second Amendment”, you can bet that Trump and his loyal supporters have some things to say. At a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina on August 9th, Trump cited Hillary’s impending choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a judge that undoubtedly would assist her intentions to create major legislation with regards to gun control rights in the country. Amidst a clearly controversial election that has flooded media every which way for months, the so-called “surprises” out of Trump and Clinton’s mouths aren’t even surprises anymore.

Trump’s outstanding record of mouthing jaw-dropping, “can-you-believe-he-said-that” remarks continues with this saga related to gun control. He not-so-subtly noted that, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is [something you could do]”. So, now people think that Presidential candidate Donald Trump is suggesting that citizens use *gun violence against candidate Hillary Clinton. Not really holding up the “positive vibes only” side of the deal.


Many take to Twitter to express outrage over the comment.

There likely isn’t much that Trump regrets about this remark. We know from an exemplary record that these comments are rarely followed without a disregard for apologetics and retraction. Rhetorically, we know this is right up his alley. Through the initial response to the citizen masses, it is reasonable to think that the intention can even be to target these strong right-wingers, particularly the heavy gun rights supporters. If we assume that nothing is voiced from a candidate that is not intentional to some degree of audience, there could be *some* understanding to the process behind the remarks. There also is some credit given to the simplicity and straightforwardness of such a statement. With the short mention, Trump successfully paints his stance on gun control, the focus on the Supreme Court nomination, as well as his super unknown opinion of Hillary Clinton.

On the other, far more significant side, this comment has the real potential to make citizens question his actual level of sanity. The harsh suggestion is blows far past painting an enemy picture of an opposing candidate and instead begins to approach a real question about Donald Trump’s fitness for an office of such respect, stature, and responsibility. I would doubt few listeners could believe he is telling gun activists to really attack Hillary Clinton, but you can bet that there are debates circulating around this man’s position to even run for this office, let alone win it. Former Democratic House Representative from Arizona, and victim of a 2011 shooting rampage, Gabrielle Giffords, summed up an accurate description of the comment’s implications when she says, “We must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence…Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy.”

Others, including the Former Head to National Security, Anti-Trump groups, a former GOP Senator, the President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and many more have responded furiously calling out the inappropriate, offensive, and even illegal aspects of Trump’s statement. Ultimately, the disastrous and terrible negative effects from this statement outweigh any possible advantages it could have been intended to accomplish. Instead of a picture as a strong, authoritative, relatable conservative figure, Trump can really just find himself facing a new title: dangerous.

If there were any hope whatsoever that he could dispel some of the instability association so widely painted by Democrats and perceived by voters, it is continually obliterated by these type of comments from the Republican candidate. It seems as though this possible attempt at a joke to rally support and elicit some strong emotions from those opposing Clinton’s plans to affect gun rights has merely steered in a terrible dark and unforgiving territory. And that, I can’t imagine is a rhetorical objective in a campaign.

Like None Before Him: Trump on Gun Control in 2016

As haunting news flashes continue to stain the media over the last few years concerning another mass shooting report, one begs to wonder how these terrorizing incidences can be avoided. Amidst the events at Sandy Hook Elementary school, the movie theater in Denver, Colorado, and various more in malls, schools, and places of worship, the question of gun rights remains a hot debate. The perfect time for it to reach boiling point? The 2016 Presidential race.

Following the Sandy Hook shooting in Newton, Connecticut, President Barack Obama pledged efforts towards modifying gun control reforms. Since then, he has been, at times, loosely drifting from a strict adherence to modification of these regulations. When approached with the question about his Second Amendment pursuit, he merely stated that he aimed “to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction—not just of gun violence, but violence at every level, on every step, looking at everything we can do to reduce violence”. Now, after years in development and following a multitude of traumatic gun-yielding murders, this issue about the regulations for those owning and possessing these weapons will be on everyone’s election radar.

In the Clinton vs. Trump face up, there lies some obvious benefits towards the left. A major focal point of the Clinton campaign has been highlighting stricter background checks and hard regulations surrounding the right to bear arms. According to polling from the Americans for Responsible Solutions, sixty percent of women voters want stronger gun laws. This statistic alone represents an integral piece of the upcoming Presidential race, as this group of voters has already represented a key demographic when it comes to campaigning. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton alike have undeniably faced the fact that the independent women voters can have the power to decide much of the results in November.

As a woman and mother herself, Clinton definitely wins the ability to appeal to the familial aspect that haunts every woman in America’s mind when it comes to protecting their children and families through stricter rules. Trump’s only true response strategy to this is through an attempt to appeal to the female population’s ability to defend themselves. In his inverse appeal of his own, he attempts to flip the cards bysaying, “In trying to overturn the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton is telling everyone, and every woman living in a dangerous community, that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself”.

A Post from the NRA Twitter page, endorsing Trump following an address to the group.
A Post from the NRA Twitter page, endorsing Trump following an address to the group.

And, in usual Trump fashion, he takes the matter far further than this claim in highlighting Obama’s release of criminals from prison, Hillary’s support of the same, and tying them to the illegal immigrants that have represented an ongoing issue in the country for years–which, if you had even stepped out of your home in the last year, you would know to also represent a whole separate campaign hot topic. Ultimately, Trump claims that the solution is more guns: ones for protection, security, and natural-born American rights. He represents a campaign style in the issue in which no candidate has previously ventured. He is offensively and unsubtly pushing against any of the regulations proposed in recent politics–even when it’s incredibly unpopular to the citizens of the country.

Like virtually every issue in this November’s election (and seemingly the last year of news coverage), the debate over gun-control and Second Amendment Rights remains incredibly salient and polarizing. It is hard to tell whether Trump’s aggressive statements and strategies relating to the issue will prove to support his candidacy. Though his ideas and arguments are admittedly harsh and seemingly insensitive due to recent events, he undoubtedly knows how to respond with an emotional appeal to these women voters and everyone in between. So, BREAKING NEWS: Trump and Hillary are extremely opposite on an issue.