More on the Gun Registry, and Some Other Unrelated Observations [UPDATED]

Someone the other day on Twitter referred to my post on the long gun registry (and by implication, me) as being “emotional” and “posturing” (as opposed to actually presenting argument.) I actually found this rather amusing: as I stated in the post, I was being a “little emotional” on the subject, and of course, it’s a time-worn tactic to minimize someone’s point of view by calling them “emotional”. (O, how many marriages have collapsed because one spouse called the other “emotional”?) But it is an emotional topic. At the end it all, when Parliament, the Conservative Party, and the twelve dissenting New Democrat MPs finally vote to abolish the long gun registry, people will die. As an Emergency Department nurse, I think you might grant me leave to be a little emotional, because it’s going to be me and my nursing and medical colleagues cleaning up the blood. Is this posturing? Perhaps not: it seems to me that particular term is applied whenever someone disagrees with you, but can’t exactly articulate why. As a label, it’s meaningless.

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On a completely different and happier matter: sometime overnight my stats meter rolled over 50,000 hits. Somewhat uncoincidentally this Friday is the first anniversary of this weblog. In September 2009 I had 28 hits, most of which, I assume, were accidental. I have a few more now. Again, thanks to all my readers for your support. Also thanks to my long suffering husband who has put up with my obsession with much grace and humour and has readily supplied synonyms on demand. It’s meant more than you can know.

Incidentally, I’m thinking of doing some renovations around here. Freshen the place up a bit, new coat of paint, wash the windows. I’m actually getting tired of my current WordPress template, and may well change it altogether in the interest of clarity and readability. I’d be interested in your opinion on this: should I change my template or not?

[UPDATED: Commenter ADHR, below, notes I neglected to make an appropriate link. So I did: I linked the main Twitter page instead. This has been corrected.]


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  1. #1 by Jo Ann on Wednesday 01 September 2010 - 1438

    I recently stumbled onto your blog via another (this is the way it goes, eh?) but unlike many blogs I have stumbled across I have continued to read yours. I’m not involved in the medical field in any way except (very) occasionally as a patient, but I find your blog really well written and interesting. Cheers to your first year!

    As far as template changes, I will say I’m not a fan of light print on a dark background. Yours is at least not bright white on black, but still. I find it more of a strain to read than dark on light. In your case, the content more than makes up for it! But if you are making a change, that’s one I’d appreciate as well as a bigger font.

    I hope if I ever find myself in a Toronto Emerg, it’s yours.

  2. #2 by Cartoon Character on Wednesday 01 September 2010 - 2321

    I am all for change :) it’s fun to experiment….

    As for the “posturing” comment….if they got to see what you and other RNs see in the ER on a daily basis….I am sure they would retract that word. Unless of course they don’t know the meaning of it………

  3. #3 by ADHR on Thursday 02 September 2010 - 1622

    It’s generally good form to at least link to the person you’re criticizing. I assume it was me; if not, it certainly could have been. Can I ask how much of an argument you expect in 140 characters? (By the by, my full arguments against the registry are here, from November of last year.)

    I find it rather rich to complain about being called emotional while simultaneously admitting that you were being emotional. That suggests I was describing you accurately. Thus, the complaint is obscure, at best.

    In any event, your point of view is one I dismiss because it was and remains a bad one. You have assumed and continue to assume that there’s a causal link between unregistered guns and increased deaths from gun violence. This has yet to be proven by anyone. I’m convinced at this point that if it could be proven, it would have been; the ongoing lack of proof is evidence that the registry is useless.

    The only evidence you have actually bothered to give are your own bad feelings from seeing death and violence. (And some passing reference to expert opinion which is no such thing.) Why, exactly, should your bad feelings have anything to do with policy? If there’s no reason, then you’re either engaging in special pleading (“my emotions should be taken seriously, but gun-owners’ shouldn’t!”) or argumentum ad misericordiam (“it makes me feel bad!”), neither of which is respectable.

    About the best sense I can make of it is that you can’t avoid feeling bad because gunshot victims will come into the ER and you will have to treat them. But that’s rather like the pro-life pharmacist complaining about having to give the morning-after pill. If your job makes you uncomfortable, why should other people have to make adjustments for it? Isn’t it, in other words, your problem?


    I retract nothing. Trying to make a policy argument based on personal feelings is posturing. If you don’t care for the word, I’d recommend not doing it.

    • #4 by torontoemerg on Thursday 02 September 2010 - 1855

      In good faith, I do have a screen shot of the tweet. I would be happy to post it with links to your Twitter account and blog and I have made the correction on the main post. This was an oversight on my part, and I apologize.

      As your complaints, both specific and general:

      1. “Can I ask how much of an argument you expect in 140 characters?” Probably not much. But then, maybe you shouldn’t attempt it and expect people won’t react to it.

      2. I think the nub of this discussion is is the nature of causal arguments. You “dismiss” the nature of the causal evidence here and call it “anecdotal” on your blog. On what basis? Neither here nor on your blog do you pose an argument why this might be true. There actually is some pretty good statistical evidence showing the correlation between the establishment of the LGR and the fall in the rate of gun-related deaths, some of which I wrote about earlier in the summer here. It was striking to me, at least, the number of deaths of women from firearms declined faster than the overall murder rate (which you might call the “control”). Is this sufficient evidence by itself for a correlation? No, probably not. There may well be other factors which account for this decline — and please, feel free to enumerate them. But then there’s this other study linked the decline on the rate of adolescent suicide to the LGR, and this other one which showed abused women at higher risk for homicide with guns in the house and so on, and all of a sudden we have a great big pile of correlation.

      3. “About the best sense I can make of it is that you can’t avoid feeling bad, etc.” Really. Here you are, in the prior paragraph lecturing me on logical fallacies, but you can’t leave without indulging in an ad hominem attack. In the event, I have seen far too many traumas to be “uncomfortable” with them. I was, however, trying to express my anger and disappointment with Jack Layton’s expediency as vividly as possible. Maybe you don’t understand rhetoric?

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