Nan Desuka’s article entitled “Why Handguns Must Be Outlawed” represents an exercise in rhetoric that utilizes the techniques of logos, pathos and ethos. Likewise, Sarah Thompson’s article “Gun Control: Would It Really Help” argues the topic using similar rhetorical techniques. The two writers effectively present the arguments for and/or against gun control by citing no only the logical reasons for the use or control of guns, but also ethical concerns that make the widespread presence of guns in the United States a threat or comfort to those who live here.
The two writers also employ the technique of pathos as a method of garnering sympathies for those who have been saved because of the presence of a gun in a critical situation. However, the technique of pathos is also used to argue the opposite point by demonstrating how innocents have been harmed because of the presence of a legal gun. The arguments made by these two writers represent the logical, ethical, and sentimental (pathos) discussion of the topic surrounding gun control and demonstrate the serious yet complicated nature of the issue.
Nan Desuka begins by examining the pathos surrounding the campaign slogans of those who argue for and against gun control. She cites the alternative slogans used by those who lobby for continued freedom to acquire guns: “Guns don’t kill people: criminals do,” and “Guns don’t kill people: people kill people. ” By examining the effect of these two slogans on the sentiments of the hearer, she identifies the reason why one might be chosen over the other. The idea that criminals kill people represents an attempt at pathos.
It evokes the sentiment of hatred against the criminal who would dare to use the well-meaning gun tool to commit acts of murder. However, Desuka also makes an appeal to pathos when she identifies the fact that the slogan containing the phrase “people kill people” is closer to the truth as it stands. In making this appeal, she redirects the sentiments of the reader from hatred toward criminals to hatred of the carelessness involved in making guns so available to the public. And in making this pathetic appeal, she also uses the rhetorical device of logos.
Desuka uses logos in her systematic laying out of the evidence that shows how criminals are not the only ones who end up killing persons using hand guns. While criminals do commit murders, the percentage of those murders committed by persons who are strictly criminals is low. Desuka writes, “Everyone knows or should know that only about 30 percent of murders are committed by robbers or rapists” (549). She goes on to write that “more than 60 percent of all murders are caused by guns, and handguns are involved in more than 70 of these” (550).
She makes the point that most of the other murders are committed by persons whose assailants are well known to them, and the acts of murder may be termed crimes of passion or accidents. She also cites the common scenario of the shopkeeper “protecting” his enterprise and accidentally killing a bystander in a failed attempt to defend his shop against robbery. In addition to this, she cites as evidence the example of the children who find their parents guns and in playing with it accidentally kill themselves. In using this example, she hopes to demonstrate that logically, guns are just too dangerous to be present in homes.
Yet this example does cross over into the area of pathos, as it evokes the sympathies of the readers for the innocent children and the misguided parents. All these examples represent the author’s use of logic by explaining that guns that are meant to protect or increase safety are ironically the ones responsible for most of the murders or killings that take place in the United States. These rhetorical techniques are effective in prompting readers to think more deeply about the consequences of having such relaxed gun control laws.