Intent vs. Utility: One Argument for Gun Control

The fact that gun control is a volatile topic is no surprise to any of us. With that, I’d like to make my intention clear.

My intention is to counter one specific pro-gun argument I’ve come across in the past few days.

I’m not opposed to taking on other facets of the gun control epidemic. In fact, I’m devoted to learning more and talking about this. It’s just that this post is not my place to do it yet.

Finally, I’m certainly not interested in any conversations which aren’t civil.

Let’s go.

The argument I’m concerned with popped up on my Facebook newsfeed yesterday. A friend of mine posted this tweet from Madison Gesiotto, a columnist and advisor to President Trump.

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At first glance, this may seem like a solid pro-gun argument. However, it’s illogical. It comes down to two concepts I’m calling intent and utility. Simply stated, every tangible thing has an intent and a utility to it.

For example, the Vans that I’m wearing right now are staying on my feet due to my shoelaces (Vans’ laces are ridiculously long, but I digress). Now, I could unlace my shoes and utilize them as a weapon. If I really wanted to, I could strangle someone with the very same laces used to keep the shoes on my feet.

I always have a pen in my pocket. I could utilize that pen as a weapon as well. Though I could gouge someone’s eyes out with it, I prefer to write terrible poetry with it. I don’t strangle people with my shoelaces or gouge eyes out with my pen. I use these items to their intended use.

Gesiotto’s tweet likens guns to two things: (1) cars and (2) bombs. Let’s explore those two comparisons.

Guns and cars. Yes, cars can be used as weapons (as we’ve seen in terrorist attacks in the past). They can also be turned into unintentional weapons at the hands of a drunk. However, no one would argue that cars are intended to be used in that way.

Bombs and guns. This equivalency of Gesiotto’s has more substance to it, in that both of these items are dangerous; the intended uses of these items is for one thing: destruction. Now, when I say “destruction,” that doesn’t necessarily mean killing 17 innocent people in Parkland, FL. One could buy a gun to destroy targets at a shooting range or clay pigeons soaring through the air. However, the common denominator in all gun-related activities is that something is destroyed when all is said and done. I would be very interested to hear an intended use of a gun that doesn’t end in some degree of destruction.

And, if something people can get their hands on has an intended use of destruction, it should be strictly regulated at the very least.

“In a bombing, we blame the bomber.” Gesiotto is right. We do blame the bomber. We blame him for getting his hands on a device of destruction and using it to its intended use. Furthermore, I doubt very much that Gesiotto would argue that just because the bomb isn’t what killed people but that it was the bomber that killed people that we should all have the right to stash C4 in our garages.

The fact is, every item has an intended use and a way (or ways) in which it is utilized. Gesiotto’s tweet (and those who agree with it) should consider this before assuming that guns are somehow exempt from being controlled.

2 thoughts on “Intent vs. Utility: One Argument for Gun Control

  1. Cutting to the chase;. the right to defend oneself, is undisputed.The US Constitution, has an amendment, that guarantees me the right to choose how and when I can defend myself, any restriction on these rights is a violation and will have tremendous negative results on the very foundation of our Freedom. Beyond this, we are witnessing the consequence of our chosen path of progress, children need structure in order to develop, society today is a rats nest of conflicting value systems that produces a void of fundamental standards, diminishing the ability to grow in the understanding of what is right, and what is wrong. If you don’t think that this is true, just look at how many high court decisions are either reversed or completely thrown out. We live in a world that makes no sense, and we send our children to a school where they are targets of disturbed individuals, who are looking for an easy way to exact their revenge, and we can’t decide if it’s right or wrong to pick up a gun and defend them! This conversation on whether or not I have the right to defend myself, would have been inconceivable 50 years ago, right along with many other ills that plague modern day life. Oh and guns are often used for purposes other than destruction, mostly as a deterrent, and target practice.


    1. Alan, thanks for reading and responding. Just so we’re clear, I don’t dispute our right to carry a gun at all. “Shall not be infringed” is about as clear as language can get, There is just an obvious problem with attacks like in Parkland, so I am curious what we do about that.


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