Kathleen Parker’s column, “Stopping the next mass shooter,” claims that mental health is a big factor that people must consider and focus on. Warning signs for future mass murderers, including disruptive behavior and threats on social media, must be taken seriously in order to prevent these tragedies from happening in the future. Kathleen emphasizes mental health disorders using rhetorical strategies, such as data and statistics, modes of discourse, and rhetorical questions, in order to bring about mental awareness.
Parker provides her readers with data and statistics to build credibility and further her argument logically. For instance, after explaining that Connecticut passed stricter laws following the 2012 shooting, she states, “Although this decrease may correspond to a national decline in violent crime, Connecticut’s [gun death] rate has dropped more than any other state’s over the past four weeks.” Skeptics cannot fight the facts because facts are proven and true. No matter how opinionated Parker may be, the moment she pulls out the statistics, she can no longer be attacked by disbelievers. This builds the trust in Parker and her response following these facts. Furthermore, when arguing to notice an archetypal lone shooter, Cruz, and his behavior, she describes, “Not only did teachers flag his disruptive behavior as far back as middle school, but also, Cruz had posted messages on social media, including an announcement that he intended to become a ‘professional school shooter.’” This evidence proves that people should have caught him and done something early on to prevent this child from taking the lives of his peers. The signs were laid out for them; only no one bothered to care about it. The fact of the matter is that Parker’s arguments were solid because they were effectively built on a foundation of truth and facts.
Modes of discourses are also used to convince the audience that Parker is not close-minded and is aware of the other factors that might weaken her case, showing more credibility for her argument. Moreover, after receiving emails about how Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws, and yet they also have the highest number of gun deaths, she replies, “This is explained partly by a thriving black market, which flourishes among gangs, as well as factors that may be unique to Chicago.” She admits that this counterargument is indeed true, but it is also ineffective in defeating her argument because there are other outside factors that contribute to this observation. This classification averts the attention away from the fact that strict gun laws may not be beneficial and defines that matter for what it is.
When Parker asks a string of rhetorical questions, it allows the readers to think in the direction that she wants them to think. Additionally, when she introduces the idea that mental-health professionals should notify the state when a patient presents as someone who shouldn’t buy a gun, she asks, “Wouldn’t everyone sleep better knowing that a person with serious mental problems could be identified before he shoots up a school, office party or nightclub?” This question brings to mind how her proposal was a reasonable and practical solution. It makes the reader feel unintelligent or heartless if they were to disagree with her point, so this rhetorical question is an effective way to bring the reader to an agreement. This pathos method gives Parker the advantage to strengthen her argument.
Ultimately, Kathleen Parker strategizes her argument using facts, modes of discourse, and rhetorical questions to appeal to people’s trust, logic, and emotions. The reason why she is so convincing is because she uses the right techniques to further her argument. In the end, people will understand her point of view on the topic of gun control and mental health awareness, nodding their heads at the valid points she makes.
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