Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Victim Disarmament" Instead of "Gun Control"

I recently encountered an alternative to "gun control" that I immediately embraced as a better term: "victim disarmament." Most political attempts to restrict access to firearms do not "control" criminals very well, leaving the rest of us at the mercy of armed aggressors. "Victim disarmament" thus describes such policies more accurately than "gun control" does. And, not incidentally, "victim disarmament" focuses attention on the policy failure that should worry us most: Harming innocent citizens who want only to uphold the law and exercise their rights to self-defense.

I thank Professor Michael Huemer, of the University of Colorado's Philosophy Department, for introducing me to "victim disarmament." The term has been around a while, apparently. I don't think, however, that it has won the wide use that it deserves. Please help me change that!

(Long-time readers will recognize this post as yet another example of my interest in honest and effective rhetoric. In earlier posts, I argued for such terms as "lawmakers," "leftist," "drug war," and "statism." In those and other cases, I've tried to follow a policy choosing words that persuade because they reveal important truths.)


Anonymous said...

Ooh, I like that. I'll have to start using that term.

Unknown said...

This sounds like yet another positive externality of a certain week in Chicago.

Glen Whitman said...

I agree with Mike -- it's great, but you'll never get the policy's proponents to use it. The very wording assumes you agree with an argument against the policy that many of its proponents hotly contest. That argument may well be true, but that doesn't mean they buy it.

Anonymous said...

My Guru, Col. Jeff Cooper, calls it Unilateral Personal Disarmament.
That's what I call it because it's accurate. I may become a victim if forcibly disarmed, but not yet.

Tom W. Bell said...


That's a good point; thanks. I think there's still a need for one-sided rhetorical terms, mind you. We should still call mass murder "mass murder," even if its proponents insist on something like "racial purification." Some things don't admit compromise. But I wouldn't put victim disarmament, gun control, or whatever you want to put it into that same category. What compromise term can better bring out the costs of restricting access to firearms, though? That's one to mull over.