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Rhetorical Analysis of 'Get a Knife, Get a Dog, But Get Rid of Guns'

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“Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns” is written by Molly Ivins, an American political satirist with a widely syndicated column. She also wrote for Dallas times herald for ten years and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice. At the height of her career, Ivins writes an article regarding the contentious topic on the right to keep and bear arms. Her argument begins by bringing upon the idea of knives as a replacement for guns and the resulting impact on everyday life. She portrays a clear stand against gun use and bearing arms. Although Ivins sheds some light on the needless violence guns bring about in a civilian populace through her iconic style, her all-inclusive arguments are more flash than substance.

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Ivins irony and rhetorics are what empower her prose. She begins the article with an attempt at lighthearted humor by saying “substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness.” Ivins indirectly takes a stab at the growing rate of obesity in the United States. Her irony and satire are not only entertaining, but also a great way to grab and keep the reader’s attention. Moreover, Ivins uses rhetorical questions such as in paragraph 11, “did the gun kill someone”, to trigger the reader’s mind. Also, she uses real life examples to make the text relatable such as the comparison of a car to a gun. She states that weapons are used to ‘wreak great carnage just like cars, but they are still legal even for those lacking ‘enough common sense’ to correctly handle them. Nevertheless, they have not yet banned vehicles. Moreover, they license them and their owners, restrict their use to supposedly sane and sober adults and keep track of who is selling them to whom. They should at least do the same with weapons. She talks about the counterargument that vehicles are as bad as guns, but nobody asks if they should be safe. Writing style aside, there is some merit to her argument. While other weapons are available that cause comparable damage, Ivin emphasizes that the use of a gun is much easier and more fatal. An accidental death caused by a gun is much more common than one caused by a cold weapon. When an argument or a heated conversation ensues between individuals, the presence of a gun increases the possibility of a fight or argument to end up with death or severe injury.

There are multiple loopholes that can be easily traced in the article which ultimately discredit her argument. Even though Ivin provides a possible replacement to guns, her alternative choices have major flaws. She underestimates the fatal power of cold weapons. A highly motivated person can easily get away with committing a crime using a cold weapon. Not only are cold weapons widely accessible, but are also silent and hard to track. Ivin fails to mention any statistics in the article and the statistic she relies on are false. “But if there had been no gone, no one would have died.” Ivin believes the banning of guns would decrease the fatality rates, but she fails to realize that the statistics are directly related to the availability and accessibility of the weapon and not the weapon itself. So even if guns are banned, the next widely available weapon will take its place, the knife.” You want protection, get a dog” is Ivins’ next suggestion. However, dogs are not bulletproof and definitely aren’t invincible. Ivin ends her text by saying “Ban the damn things. Ban them all.” Banning guns at this point is unrealistic. Criminals will not be stopped by simply banning guns. They will always find a way to get their hands on a gun whether legally or illegally. They are outlaws after all. By banning guns, you keep more guns in the hands of criminals than law abiding citizens. This will give the upper hand to criminals. Moreover, absolute abolition of civil gun ownership marks the beginning of a tyranny. If guns are only permitted to be used by well regulated militias such as the “armed forces” and “national guard” like Ivins suggests, this will in time give supreme power to the government and police to do what they like without accountability for their actions. Also disarming the populace of a nation will consequently strip the entire nation of power. Furthermore, If the author’s intent was to persuade gun supporters to change their views and not just to entertain readers who share her point of view, her approach would have been a great weakness. When discussing a sensitive topic people are deeply passionate and opinionated about such as the topic at hand, satire and irony are not a wise approach.

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All in all, I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun read as they’ll enjoy Ivins’ sarcasm and irony. Although she brings up some valid points, her argument is lacking and implausible. However, if you are looking for a more comprehensive and rational take on this subject, I suggest you look elsewhere. 

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Rhetorical Analysis Of ‘Get A Knife, Get A Dog, But Get Rid Of Guns’. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from
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