The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

In the United States, private ownership of handguns ought to be banned.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/1/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 845 times Debate No: 89057
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (33)
Votes (1)




This is the first debate I've had on this forum - so please pardon the delay in finding this portion of the site - and any other mistakes my unfamiliarity with the rules causes me to make. The subject is gun control in the US - and I'm arguing against gun control. It's kind of ironic this topic should be chosen by Uniferous, as both famousdebater and I are British - and when I thought we were going to have this debate in the forums, I was going to ask how far it's possible to get from civilization in the UK? How many wild animals there are wandering about? My intent in asking this question was not necessarily to suggest that all guns in America are owned for this reason. I'm quite sure famousdebater wouldn't let me get away with that. But the US is a big country, and there are dangerous wild animals wandering about loose, and people do own guns for this reason. The strategic aim of this line of questioning was to force famousdebater to admit from the outset, that there are some valid reasons to own guns in the US. Given this change of form, my first question now is, will famousdebater acknowledge this fact - and if so, who's guns would he want to ban? How would he decide who legitimately held firearms, and who had no valid reason to own a gun?

My second question is about the gun trade in America. Given that there are over 50,000 licensed dealers, selling 5.5 million guns per year to 47% of US households - and given that overall, the firearms industry is worth over $30bn per year to the US economy - what overriding imperative requires all this business be forgone?

My third question and final question is perhaps the most simple - yet the most difficult to answer. How do you suppose the estimated 310 million guns already in private ownership in America can be accounted for and confiscated - if that is indeed, what you are suggesting is done? If not, what should be done - and how would this account for the 310 million guns already out there?


Thank you autocorrect for agreeing to debate this topic with me. The forum posts that you have made show me that you are extremely intelligent and I hope that this is an interesting debate. I'd also like to thank uniferous for choosing the topic.

My opponent and I have agreed that this round will be for arguments; the next round will be for rebuttals and the final round will be for counter rebuttals and a conclusion of the debate. So without further ado, I will begin with my arguments.


I'm am going to running the affirmative equivalent to a counterplan (ie. a plan). My plan will consist of 2 sub-sections.

a) Over the period of 30 years we will gradually increase gun restrictions, this way the impact of an immediate change to a gun ban from the current system would be mitigated.

b) After 30 years gun usage should be extremely restricted. At this point a change from the current point of restriction to a ban will be so small that the change will create minimal concern and anger. Furthermore there will be no major impacts to gun culture in the US.

Since my counterplan ultimately leads to a gun ban it is still sufficient to fulfill my burden since my burden requires me to prove that guns should be banned and under my plan guns are still being banned, just over a long period of time. By introducing my plan it increases the feasibility of the plan as well as the fact that it reduces the negative response that would occur if a gun ban was immediately introduced at this point in time.


I’m going to begin by proving moral realism (which I have been researching since my last debate on the subject) as my metaethical framework. So now I will present my argument to prove objective morality.

I will be using the ontological argument for moral realism by Michael Huemer, Professor in philosophy. His ontological argument for moral realism is as follows,

(1) The probabilistic reasons principle

(2) If we know that action X is objectively wrong, then we get a reason to not perform action X to be moral

(3) Even if we don't know that action X is objectively wrong, it doesn't provide us a reason to *do* action X

(4) There is some non-zero probability that moral realism is true (i.e. moral realism is possible)

(5) It follows that, in order to not risk X being objectively wrong, we ought not to do action X

(6) Also, we have a reason to avoid performing action X

Action x is the action that we are trying to prove objectively wrong (in this case guns).

The probabilistic reasons principle (PRP) is described by Huemer: “ [I]f some fact would (if you knew it) provide a reason for you to behave in a certain way, then your having some reason to believe that this fact obtains also provides you with a reason to behave in the same way." [9]

P2 is a truism.

P3 is also a truism.

P4 is a truism.

P5 may require further explanation so I’ll briefly talk about it. Since action X is an action that we think could be objectively wrong (since this is why we are testing it out in the ontological argument). Since it is debatable the consequences comparison is evident. If X is objectively wrong and we treat it as objectively wrong then we are correctly identifying it as wrong. If X is objectively wrong and we treat it as objectively right then we are are identifying it incorrectly. Ergo, since it is possible that X is objectively wrong then we ought to consider it as objectively wrong so as not to violate morality and moral principles.

P5 means that C1 (P6) is true.

Now that Moral Realism is affirmed I will move onto the normative ethics of my framework. This will be based on individualism, the ideology that prioritizes the moral worth of the individual [10]. The syllogism will work as the following:

P1. The individual's opinion ought to be considered in society, ergo, you ought to agree to an individualist view. Laws must be in the best interest of the citizen. Voters ought to buy the individualist framework.

P2. The individualist has the right to life and we should be prioritizing them (as per the framework). If I am able to prove that guns cause deaths and violate the needs of the individual then I fulfill my burden and fulfill the debate.

C1. Provided that I am able to show that guns cause more deaths than it saves lives. You ought to affirm and thus presume Pro.

The Murder Rate

All we need to do is analyze this graph to understand that the murder rate via guns in the US is significantly higher than we need it to be.


The trend is evidence. In Japan there is a full gun ban [3](for citizens which coincides with the resolution) and Japan has the lowest gun related murders as shown on the graph. South Korea has ‘one of the most restrictive gun policies in the developed world,’ [2]. South Korea is the second least on the map. In Iceland guns are only allowed for target shooting and you need a special license for this. All other guns are strictly forbidden in all circumstances [4]. The list goes on and it surprisingly goes almost completely through the list in order from the most gun restrictions to the least. There are, of course, a view fluctuations but there are few. The correlation is clear, the countries the more restriction on guns, the less deaths. The countries with complete bans on citizens have gun deaths of extremely low quantity. The less guns, the less deaths.

Furthermore, multiple reliable studies have shown that guns result in death. Harvard T.H Chan, School of Public Health, concluded from their studies,

“a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries.” [5]

In the US there were 372 mass shootings, 64 of which were school shootings [6]. This ultimately means that babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, adolescents, adults and the elderly are being killed by guns. 13 toddlers accidentally killed themselves in 2015; 18 injured themselves; 10 injured other people and 2 killed other people.

In the United Kingdom they have a complete gun ban for citizens, which is what I am affirming [7]. In the UK the youngest person to ever kill somebody in recorded history has been 12 [8]. In 2015 alone 2 toddlers killed other people. The comparison is notable, in one year two toddlers kill two people (as a result of guns) which is something that has never happened in the history of the UK (a country with guns banned).

Accidents and Consequences

15,000 to 19,000 deaths are as a result of accidents in the United States [11]. Causing a gun related accident and being the person responsible means that you could suffer from mental health problems.

Proceeding an accidental shooting with a gun, suffering from mental health problems is not uncommon [12]. By banning guns, you make virtually impossible to kill somebody accidentally since accidents are not committed by murderers who may have illegal guns, they are usually committed by people with legal guns who are law abiding citizens (hence why they suffer from mental health problems afterwards in most cases).


I have shown that moral realism exists and that individualism is the best perspective to view this debate upon. I have also shown the high death statistics caused by guns (which is a clear violation of individualism). Whilst I do have some more characters, I believe that I have said enough to support my side in the debate with the argument that I have presented. Ergo, you ought to vote in my favor. The resolution is affirmed. Vote Pro!

Debate Round No. 1



famousdebater's argument depends on Moral Realism.
This is the contention that there are moral facts.
Were there such things as moral facts, we should be compelled to act upon them.
This is a specious argument - as shown by David Hume, among many others.

The is-ought problem, as articulated by Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume (1711-76), states that many writers make claims about what 'ought' to be on the basis of statements about what 'is.' Hume found that there seems to be a significant difference between positive statements (about what is) and prescriptive or normative statements (about what ought to be), and that it is not obvious how one can coherently move from descriptive statements to prescriptive ones. The is-ought problem is also known as Hume's law, or Hume's guillotine.


Is and Ought.

"According to the dominant twentieth-century interpretation, Hume says here that no ought-judgment may be correctly inferred from a set of premises expressed only in terms of is, and the vulgar systems of morality commit this logical fallacy. This is usually thought to mean something much more general: that no ethical or indeed evaluative conclusion whatsoever may be validly inferred from any set of purely factual premises."


Perhaps sensing the difficulty of his position, famousdebater raised the question of moral realism, and adduced the work of Micheal Huemer, Professor in Philosophy at the prestigious University of Colorado Boulder. (Where Mork landed in his giant egg!) No doubt, it is in response to David Hume's observation, that Huemer devised his ontological argument for moral realism.

(1) The probabilistic reasons principle

(2) If we know that action X is objectively wrong, then we get a reason to not perform action X to be moral

(3) Even if we don't know that action X is objectively wrong, it doesn't provide us a reason to *do* action X

(4) There is some non-zero probability that moral realism is true (i.e. moral realism is possible)

(5) It follows that, in order to not risk X being objectively wrong, we ought not to do action X

(6) Also, we have a reason to avoid performing action X

The fault in Huemer's argument is direct contradiction of Hume's Law - at step 4, with the unsubstantiated assertion that there is some non-zero probability that moral realism is true; when to the contrary, there is an overwhelming weight of argument that shows it cannot be true.

On this basis, it's possible to simply dismiss the facts adduced by famousdebater in support of his argument; but I think that would be unfair - not least because, we frequently break Hume's Law, by arguing because of A, B and C - we ought to do D. Bearing in mind it is not a fact, nor logically necessary that we ought to do D - let us now consider famousdebater's A, B, and C - and then we will consider his D, his plan for 'what we ought to do.'

The Murder Rate.

Directing attention to the first graph posted by famousdebater (at this point he has only presented one graph, but may or may not present more in round two) we see the terrifying statistics on the murder rate in the US. Or do we? It's certainly an impressive looking graph - but what does it actually tell us? You will have to use the slider at the bottom of the page to see the statistic for the US - in red, souring above that of almost every other country in the developed world - to a staggering 3.2 deaths per 100,000 people. To put this in perspective, there are 16.2 deaths from flu, 37.0 deaths from accidents, and 179.8 deaths per 100,00 people from heart disease.


This has the startling implication that you would save upto five times more lives by requiring people carry a handkerchief, than you would banning them from owning guns!

The Plan.

Basically, famousdebater's plan is to proceed with such glacial caution no one notices that their Second Amendment Rights are being stripped away. I'm not an American, but I understand the National Rifle Association is somewhat sensitive about the issue. Further, given that electoral terms are limited to five years - this idea, (I cannot keep calling it a plan when it's not a plan) is problematic in that - either the government publishes its so-called plan, or keeps it a secret from 'We, the people.' Recall if you will, from the statistics presented in my opening argument - that 47% of US household own a gun - and a good proportion of them speak of 'prising it from my cold dead hands.' Because you couldn't find a politician in the world who'd ignore his electoral interest - in favour of a philosophically weak argument for moral fact, this so-called plan would have to be a secret plan, or conspiracy across no less than 6 terms of government.

It cannot be ignored that this so-called plan lacks any detail about who's guns would be taken away when, or how the 310 million guns in circulation would be accounted for and confiscated. It says nothing about the 55,000 licensed dealers in the US, or the $30bn worth of trade. It says nothing about exemptions - for lions and bears that may be encountered, roaming free in the US. Nor does it say anything about criminality - and the frequent observation that taking guns from law abiding citizens would do nothing to disarm criminals.

Further, assuming we accepted that 3.2 deaths per 100,000 people constitutes a moral fact, that is, assuming we ignore Hume's Law, and accept it is a fact we are compelled to act - how can it be moral to take 30 years to take action? Clearly, there are competing imperatives famousdebater neither acknowledges or solves; and if there are competing imperatives - there can be no moral fact. It's like saying A, B and C - compel action D, while ignoring E, F, G, H....and so on long past Z. It is not a moral fact, nor even a very compelling case. I consider the argument presented by famousdebater comprehensively rebutted.


Thank you autocorrect for posting your rebuttals. I will address them in the final round. In this round my focuss will be on refuting my opponent's first round arguments.


My opponent provides no framework and therefore due to the fact that there is no alternative framework presented you ought to view my framework as the correct framework for the debate since it is the only framework presented. This is problematic for my opponent since under my framework guns are bad since they are designed to kill people, and they do.

The Resolution

Let's take a look at just what the resolution says because some analysis is required. The resolution requires me to prove that there should be a ban on PRIVATELY owned guns.

Now let's look at what the definition of a PRIVATELY owned possession (in this case guns) is.

"belonging to an individual person or people, as opposed to belonging to a government or to a business." [1]

Now that the necessary clarifications have been made I will begin with my rebuttals.

Positive Acknowledgment

I do acknowlegde that there are positives of owning a gun. That is why this is such a highly controversial and debated topic. However the debate resolution is structured in the form of an "on balance" resolution. Meaning that with all points considered guns should be banned because overall (with both positives and negatives included) we see guns as having more negatives than positives.

I am sure that both me and Con understand that there are positives and negatives to this issue however the disagreement here regardes whether the positives outweigh the negatives or vice versa.

Since I am advocating the private ban on guns only, I am willing to allow the police and hunters to keep their guns on them as their guns are not privately owned and therefore they can still have guns. So to answer my opponent's questions:

Autocorrect: who's guns would he want to ban?

Everyone that has a privately owned gun (as the resolution clearly states).

Autocorrect: How would he decide who legitimately held firearms, and who had no valid reason to own a gun?

I would view those that own private guns as illegitimately holding guns and I would view those that don't have private guns as legitimately owning them.

Since hunters, the police, the army and other state owned operations will have guns, people will be safe from wild animals. Unless my opponent can put a figure on how many people will die then this contention bares little weight upon the resolution since the normative ethics based framework is how voters should be juding (since it's the only debate framework set) and due to the fact that it is based on individualism this means that we need to balance lives and without a clear number the argument has no impact.

Balance Of Priorities

My opponent lists the money that the firearms industry is worth. However, again, if we look back at the framework (which still stands because there is no alternative and we need a debate framework for this to be voted on), we can clearly see that under individualism, lives matter and should be considered as a priority. Money should not (and is not) considered as superior to human lives.

The Plan

To answer the final question regarding confiscation of guns I will redirect my opponent to my arguments where I state my plan. Since it willl be done over a long period of time this means that collection of guns will not all be done at once. There will be minimal protest and riots and the ones that do occur will be done in small quantity across the 30 year period. This makes it easier for the police force to manage. Those that do not hand their guns in will be jailed if they are found with one because (just like drugs) they should be considered as dangerous and as illegal items. Just because some will not give their guns in, it doesn't mean that they should remain legal. The issue is comparable to drugs. Yes some people have drugs but that doesn't mean that we should make them legal just because some people will keep on using them illegally. Just like murder, some people murder but that doesn't mean that we should make it legal.


Debate Round No. 2


To quote famousdebater from round 2:

My opponent provides no framework and therefore due to the fact that there is no alternative framework presented you ought to view my framework as the correct framework for the debate since it is the only framework presented. This is problematic for my opponent since under my framework guns are bad since they are designed to kill people, and they do."

This counter rebuttal begins with the suggestion that I don't need a framework to argue nothing should be done. Indeed, some elaborate philosophical framework - with the conclusion, therefore we should do nothing - is likely to distract from the inevitability of this conclusion.

Next, I'd like to post some links that were deleted when I posted my round 2 arguments.
In order they are:


I hope they are not deleted again.
That would be embarrassing.

Next, I'd like to take the time to congratulate my opponent on arguing a very difficult position with style, if not much actual substance. Bit of a backhanded compliment - as it turns out, but it wasn't meant that way. His familiarity with the format of these formal debates is just about his only advantage - and equally, my only disadvantage. At first I thought maybe I was getting an easy ride first time around the track - but I'm beginning to suspect famousdebater made the mistake of thinking that something he believes is right and necessary would make his an easy position to uphold. In fact, it's not.

I'm not suggesting, dear voters - that you should have no sympathy for the difficulty of famousdebater's position, nor am I suggesting that you should not admire the skill with which he has executed the task as he sees it, but I do urge you to punish his errors, the first of which was, thinking it would be easy to do right - and see through his style to the the fact that he has not proven the contention that private ownership of handguns ought to be banned.

Further, I would ask you, the voter to recognize that he had no need whatsoever to set his arguments in the terms he did; no need for an unprovable philosophical understanding of the word 'ought' - when a common idea of the term was employed throughout the opening remarks I made, and posted first - despite his familiarity with the format, and my ignorance. It is to famousdebater's detriment, not mine, and I think you must agree dear voter, fatally detrimental that he has failed to mention the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America - that establishes the right to bear arms, but instead spent his time and energies formulating a plan to achieve a ban he believes is right. He had no need to formulate a plan. The question is not how handguns would be banned, but whether they ought to be.

I knew this of course, which is why I asked the question: How do you suppose the estimated 310 million guns already in private ownership in America can be accounted for and confiscated - if that is indeed, what you are suggesting is done? If not, what should be done - and how would this account for the 310 million guns already out there? He is an intelligent young man, but perhaps yet lacks for the intellectual confidence to refuse to be led down the wrong path - as he has been here.

These are his errors, and I ask that you punish them - not because there is not much to praise here - and certainly not because you think perhaps something should be done about gun violence. I'm asking that you vote upon the debate rather than the issue, and punish famousdebater, ultimately because he has not proven the contention that handguns ought to be banned. He has not even presented a very compelling case that they should be banned - in common parlance, but presented statistics as facts, as evidence of a philosophical idea of moral fact. The dry statistic that 3.2 people per 100,000 are killed by gun violence, fails as a moral fact in contrast to the statistic that 16.2 people per 100, 000 die from flu. All of which, brings me to this:

'This has the startling implication that you would save upto five times more lives by requiring people carry a handkerchief, than you would banning them from owning guns!'

This is why there's no such thing as a moral fact, and if you accept that, I would suggest you cannot but vote Con.
Thank you for your time.



My opponent states that they don’t need a framework because they propose no change in the status quo. This is fine but if they have no framework then they must concede to mine. Meaning that the debate must be viewed under individualism. My opponent does critique the framework here but a critiqued framework is better than no framework at all.

My opponent critiques step 4 of the argument, stating that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence showing that the argument cannot be true. The problem that I find with this claim is that Con states this but makes no attempt to actually prove this. My opponent isn’t negating the argument by saying that there is a lot of evidence against this. My opponent can only negate it by actually providing that evidence. Besides, Con never actually attempt to negate the claim that there is a non-zero possibility that moral realism is true. He states that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence contrary to this claim but that isn’t enough to counter the point since to prove that there is zero possibility of moral realism being true would require a large amount of evidence which Con isn’t able to provide.

The framework based on normative ethics is dropped and conceded.

The Murder Rate

My opponent concedes all deaths and statistics. Under the individualistic framework this is an automatic win for Pro since the framework clearly states that lives matter and they should be valued. The comparisons are faulty and do not stand.

If my opponent’s logic is true then we should allow children to carry knives because that won’t cause as many deaths as the flu does. Or maybe we should all kids to carry guns too because they might not kill as many people as the flu does. Just because guns don’t kill as many people as other things do, does not mean that they should remain legal. The framework is very clear that in stating that lives matter. Comparisons are not relevant since lives are still being lost and Con does not dispute my statistics or my framework.

Just because I affirm a gun ban, that does not mean that I don’t encourage people to carry a handkerchief and increase flu prevention research. Yes, doing this would potentially save more lives however just because a gun ban will save less lives, doesn’t mean that we can’t do that too.

The Plan

We seem to have a resolutional misunderstanding. The term that I am going to focus on here is the term: ‘ought’. The term ought isn’t about feasibility. It is about the morality behind the issue [1]. Yes, doing it across 6 terms will be difficult which is why this debate is not centered on how feasible the issue is, it is about how moral it is. Of course it’s unlikely that the US will have a gun ban in the next few election terms. It is also unlikely that it will occur over 6 electoral periods of 5 years. However the resolution is specific in addressing that the issue is an issue of morality as opposed to likelihood.

The reason that I stated that we should do it over a long period of time is so that it would result in less chaos. I understand that people will be upset (as my opponent has stated) which is exactly the reason why I have decided to do this over a long period of time.

The money is irrelevant. The framework is based on individual lives. Not about the economy or about benefit for the government. If my opponent wanted this debate to be based on the economy he should have made a suitable framework based on this. Since he did not opt in to form this kind of framework the argument regarding the economy should have little, if any, impact.

My opponent asks how 30 years can possibly be the moral thing to do. My answer is simple. By making the process occur over a 30 year period I am minimizing violence and riots and the ones that will occur will not all happen at once (since the people with there guns will not be complaining). They will happen in small quantities over the 30 year period. This means that ultimately the moral aim is achieved (banning guns) and it is done in a way that reduces violence as a form of protest.

My opponent brings up the common objection regarding criminals failing to hand in their guns. My response here is that the process will be long. As I state in my framework, it will not be easy and it will take a long time. However, when guns are illegal that means that anybody found with a gun will have it confiscated and removed. Over a long period of time (longer than the plan itself), guns will slowly decrease. I will reiterate the argument that I made in the previous round. Drugs are illegal. People still use drugs. Does that mean that drugs should be legal? People kill people, murder is illegal. Does that mean that murder should be legal? Just like drugs and murder, guns will still be used however just like if murder or drugs were legal, deaths and usage of drugs would be significantly higher if they were legal than if they remained illegal as they are now

Additionally, my opponent brings up wild animals (again). As I have already stated. The resolution refers to privately owned guns. This means that police and hunters will still have their guns and wild animals will not be any more of a problem than they currently are with guns legalized.

The resolution is evidently affirmed. All of my opponent’s arguments are refuted, they fail to provide an impact analysis of any of their contentions. Due to the shared burden of proof, voter’s ought to be voting off of whose arguments create the most impact under the framework. My opponent chooses to make arguments irrelevant to the debate framework and then he goes on to say that he does not need a framework. This seems contradictory to me and it should be viewed as such. I strongly urge voters to vote Pro. Thank you for debating this topic with my autocorrect. May the best debater win.



Debate Round No. 3
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wewiusladius 6 months ago
Should have just pointed out how homicide raes in the UK rose after the handgun ban.
Posted by famousdebater 6 months ago
- unless your a chef or somebody that deals with knives as a part of their job.
Posted by famousdebater 6 months ago
No knives are allowed to be carried on you outside of your house if you are below 16. And if you are at school (or work) then you can't carry a knife, regardless of your age.
Posted by famousdebater 6 months ago
I wouldn't generalize it to Europe but definitely not in the UK.
Posted by Quadrunner 6 months ago
Your kids can't carry knives in Europe?
Posted by autocorrect 6 months ago
Much appreciated Quadrunner. Thanks for the tip.
Posted by Quadrunner 6 months ago
For me, just deleting > was enough for my computer to get close enough to find the actual sight. Sometimes weird characters are necessary. For this Wikipedia article, they are not.

Site after paste
:https://en.wikipedia.... org/wiki/David_Hume%3>

Corrected address
https://en.wikipedia.... org/wiki/David_Hume

Attempt at corrected link
Posted by Quadrunner 6 months ago
Copy and paste manually into the address box and delete any weird character you find at the end like > before hitting enter.
Posted by famousdebater 6 months ago
The links from your sources still don't work.
Posted by autocorrect 6 months ago
Maybe you can't post links in the comments section? I don't know. I fear I may have to accept the fact I have not sourced my arguments, and let voters decide for themselves how detrimental this is.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 6 months ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD: