Stefan Bauschard


Review of gun control arguments from Minneapple

I had the opportunity to judge and watch some debates at Minneapple this weekend and I must say that I was impressed both by the quality of argument, especially considering that for most debaters it was their first tournament on the topic. I posted my flows here, but will review some of the major arguments and offer a number of general comments. General Comments Depth. While there are fewer different arguments on this topic, the depth of coverage is much greater.   There are for example, many more detailed debates about the workability of UBCS than there were about the workability of THAAD. Debaters really need to understand the details of the UBCs debate to prevail. It’s just not enough to have a basic understanding of the gun control debate. Offense/Defensive. It is difficult for the Con to win offensive arguments against universal background checks. I don’t think that this is due to a lack of offensive arguments, but the simple fact that constructing them requires a lot more work, explanation, and articulation in the debate than the Pro’s offensive arguments do. For example, there is a massive body of empirical research over the impact the UBCs may have on reducing gun deaths, but there is no empirical research on how much of an impact that UBCs have on discrimination. So, teams that wish to win on the discrimination debate need to do a lot more work in the debate to explain the scope of the problem and the magnitude of the impact (as compared to potential solvency for gun deaths) that the Pro, who can rely on evidence that quantifies reductions to do that comparative work for them. Negative Arguments In this section, I will discuss some different Con arguments and their merits. Commandeering. As I discussed in the intro essay, there are two ways that a federal gun control policy could be implemented/enforced – the federal government could either require the states to implement it or the federal government could implement it themselves. I judged one debate where the Con argued that the Pro was unconstitutional because it required the states to implement the law and that federal commandeering of state officials was unconstitutional (US v. Printz). The Pro didn’t know how to respond to this argument and dropped the claim that UBCs are unconstitutional because they require commandeering the states.. While the Con is correct that federal commandeering is unconstitutional, this does not mean that UBCs are unconstitutional. First, the federal government has a background check system now (it just doesn’t apply to private sales). The Pro isn’t arguing for a new background check system that is enforced by commandeering state officials. It is simply arguing for an expansion of the existing system to cover private sales. The current system does not rely on commandeering for enforcement, instead it uses federal resources to enforce.   This is the same situation with immigration – the federal government cannot require the states to enforce federal immigration law, but the feds can

Space Colonization Update

Manor non-technical hurdles to space colonization Jessica Stillman,, 11-3-17, 3 Big (Non-Technical Reasons Elon Musk’s Mars Colonization Might Not Fail, If you want a thought-provoking peek at possible near futures, you could read a sci-fi book. Or you could just have a read through Elon Musk’s recently released plan for establishing a colony of a million people on Mars. The entirety of Musk’s September talk on SpaceX’s plans to get the Mars colonization ball rolling in the next decade (transcribed by an energetic Redditor) was recently published online. In it, space nerds of all stripes will find a ton of engineering to marvel at, including a 35-story space vehicle (and even the prospect the intercontinental rockets that could get you from London to New York in under a half an hour), as well as plenty of discussion of the many technical challenges to realize this dream. But according to Andrew Maynard, the director of the Risk Innovation Lab at Arizona State University, what you won’t find in the document is any information about some of the most likely reasons the awe-inspiring project might fail. While Musk is busy building rockets, he’s not addressing one of the most significant hurdles facing any attempt to establish humans on the Red Planet — politics (at least he’s not addressing it publicly). In a fascinating post on The Conversation blog, Maynard makes an argument that won’t surprise anyone who has read any fictional account of human’s interplanetary future — colonizing other planets probably won’t bring out the better angels of our nature, and any attempt to put people on Mars will require overcoming serious social and political problems, such as: ​ 1. Angry astrobiologists As a species we’ve spent countless hours worrying about the health of our home ecosystem. Certainly, we’ll need to think just as carefully before we go tinkering with whatever may or may not be alive (or once have lived and left a trace) on Mars before we arrive. “Imagine there was once life on Mars, but in our haste to set up shop there, we obliterate any trace of its existence. Or imagine that harmful organisms exist on Mars and spacecraft inadvertently bring them back to Earth. These are scenarios that keep astrobiologists and planetary protection specialists awake at night,” writes Maynard. Up to now, Musk doesn’t seem particularly concerned. Maybe he should be, Maynard suggests: “The last thing Musk needs is a whole community of disgruntled astrobiologists baying for his blood as he tramples over their turf and robs them of their dreams.” 2. Ecoterrorism Not everyone is super psyched about us meddling with our own planet. There is bound to be resistance to the wholesale transformation of another, Maynard warns. Perhaps even violent resistance. “Musk’s long-term vision is to terraform Mars — reengineer our neighboring planet as “a nice place to be” — and allow humans to become a multiplanetary species. Sounds awesome — but not to everyone. I’d wager there will be some people sufficiently


Background Check Updates

Access is free with free website registration 15- A good guy with a gun didn’t stop the church shooting, he massacred 26 people Richard Wolfe, 11-6-17, The Guardian, According to the local sheriff, the gunman was only confronted by an armed civilian once he emerged from the church, after the massacre was completed. The mass murderer died by killing himself. So along with the victims, let’s please bury once and for all the storyline pushed so hard by the . . . Access to this post requires a FREE registration


Resolved: NCAA student athletes ought to be recognized as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. (bibliography)

General Fourth myths about athletic scholarships. This article provides useful background information about the number of scholarships and how they are distributed. Court: Student athletes aren’t employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This article explains that no court in the last 50 years has found that students are employees under the FLSA and it cites the . . . Access to this post requires a FREE registration


What do lay judges vote on? Arguments, Speaking, Argumentation Skills

Join Bilal Butt and staff at Millennial Speech & Debate Institutes this summer!  $1995 Resident, $495 Commuter Highlights *Public Forum (PF) debates are often judged by “lay” judges — those with little to no previous experience debate experience *Lay judges generally decide debates on one of three criteria — overall truth of the resolution, overall speaking skills, overall debating skills.  There is obviously be implicit overlap between these and sometimes there is explicit overlap *Debaters should plan to excel in all three skill areas if they want to win awards *Judge training should incorporate topic knowledge so that judges can focus on arguments when making decisions *A link to the full ballots that have been reviewed is here In Public Forum debate, contestants will be evaluated a number of “lay” judges who will decide their fate. These lay judges may be community members who come out to support the tournament, parents of other contestants in the tournaments, and maybe even supporting teachers who do not have a background in debate. While many tournaments attempt to find judges with more significant experience for the other main debate events – Lincoln-Douglas and Policy – Public Forum (PF) debaters should expect to have a substantial number of lay judges at tournaments. While this feature of PF debate can frequently be frustrating for the students, a critical component of debaters’ success comes from adapting to these lay judges. But what are lay judges looking for? Do they vote primarily on arguments that establish the overall truth or falsity of the resolution (as judges with experience likely do), how well debaters speak, or the overall strength of their arguments throughout the debate? Many of the nation’s best PF debaters develop a sense of this over time and will attempt to figure out what type of judge they have before the debate. But even before they do that, they need to figure out what different types of judges are looking for. One way to look at what lay judges are looking for is to review ballots from tournaments. Just a few years ago, all ballots used to be posted publicly, but now debaters usually only get to see their own ballots at The New York City Debate League (NYCUDL), however, still uses paper ballots and they scan them to make them available to all debaters online after the tournament. Since the tournament also mostly relies on volunteer lay judges from New York Cares and other organizations it has a large pool of lay judges. In fact, since we (I work with the NYCUDL) have so many individuals come to volunteer to judge, we prioritize placement of the lay, volunteer judges in the debates. So, we have a set of publicly available ballots from (mostly (not all the judges were lay)) judges to review when to determine what they are looking for. Before I started to review the ballots, I made two mental notes — First, I thought most of the judges would judge primarily on


Universal Background Checks and Dangerousness: Stigmitization, Racial Discrimination, and Gender Discrimination

Join Bilal Butt and staff at Millennial Speech & Debate Institutes this summer!  $1995 Resident, $495 Commuter Highlights *If universal background checks (UBCS) are going to reduce gun/firearm deaths, more individuals who are likely to use these firearms to either kill themselves or other individuals need to be integrated into the UBC database *Determining who should be included is problematic because psychiatrists can’t accurately determine who is likely to be a danger to themselves and others *Including more people in the database risks increasing discrimination against those with mental health problems as well as women and minorities, particularly Blacks *Greater efforts to deny access to guns based on false determinations of dangerousness risks depriving individuals of their Second Amendment rights. There are approximately 30,000 gun deaths in the US each year and approximately 20,000 of those are suicides (Wikipedia), (60%). Of the remaining 10,000, some of the gun deaths will fall into a number of categories: mass shootings, domestic violence, and murders committed when people engage in criminal activity (robberies, selling drugs, gang activity, etc.). The only way a universal background check (UBC) system can work to prevent individuals from using a gun to kill themselves or commit a crime is for there to be a set of names of individuals who should not permitted to own guns and then have the seller deny them a gun when they attempt to purchase one. These names of individuals who are put into a background check database  have previously committed crimes (usually felonies) and/or suffer from mental illness, and normally a mental illness that requires that the person be involuntarily committed or at least was determined by a court to be “mentally defective.” One significant weakness of the current database is that it does not include many individuals who have committed felonies or who are mentally ill. As noted, this happens for a number of reasons – more conservative states opposes UBCs and are reluctant to provide the information, some doctors do not want to contribute information regarding patients’ mental health, and there is a lack of resources available for gathering and submitting the data. I think it is arguably fair for the Pro to advocate strengthening the database as part of their advocacy for UBCS and will leave any debate about that for another post, but the reality is there are two categories of people who would more likely be included in any strengthened database system – criminals and the “mentally ill”– and that more of them would need to included in the background checks database for the UBC system to significantly reduce gun violence. Including more criminals is not particularly controversial, as most people believe that those with criminal records, especially felonies, should be denied access to guns. What becomes more difficult, and where the Con can start to generate offense, is when more people who suffer from mental illnesses are included. Imagine this crossfire: Con: At least 2/3 of gun deaths are due to suicides and mass shootings, correct?


Improving Crossfire Skills in order to Win More Debates

Join Bilal Butt and staff at Millennial Speech & Debate Institutes this summer!  $1995 Resident, $495 Commuter Highlights *Crossfire is as important as any of the speeches *Performing well in crossfire requires preparation and practice *Since debaters both ask and answer questions in crossfire, they only have the opportunity for a limited number of questions. *There are important strategies for asking and answering questions that debaters should understand One popular question debaters ask is, “How can I perform better in Crossfire?” This is a good question, as Crossfire is a very important part of Public Forum debate. In fact, some judges will vote almost exclusively on the crossfire.  For example, it is not uncommon for a judge to say something like, “I voted Pro.  (Looking at the Con): They had had some really good questions and you couldn’t answer them.”  End of RFD (Reason for Decision). Such decisions can be frustrating, but they are a reality.  There are lay judges in Public Forum (and non-lay judges who love Crossfire!), so you must always take it seriously.  This is not a time for a mental break. So, take crossfire seriously and plan ahead. In this essay, I will offer some general tips, and then tips for asking and answering questions. General Tips Realize your time is limited.  Each crossfire period is 3 minutes. Let’s say it takes 30 seconds to ask a question and get an answer.  That means that each side gets 3 questions.  Even if the debaters somehow manage to double that, that’s only 6 questions per debater.  So debaters should think about likely only having three questions and think very carefully about what questions they want to ask – What are the priority questions? Prepare questions in advance.  The best way to make good use of your time is to make a list of questions ahead of time.  Now you may want to only use one (or none) of those questions, adapting your questioning to the debate you are in, but thinking of questions ahead of time will not only make sure you have questions to ask but it will also get your mind thinking about the topic and thinking of questions.  If you think about the topic and questions ahead of time, you will be even be more likely to think of good questions during the debate. Practice crossfire.  Debaters often do practice debates and then they often practice re-doing their rebuttals.  Sometimes they practice their constructive speeches.  But why not practice the crossfire? You can even practice the crossfire with yourself!  Write out the questions you might ask as suggested above and then think about how you will answer them. Look at the judge.  This is the simplest and most common piece of advice for any questioning period in any event – you need to look at the judge. It is the judge you are trying to convince, not your opponent. Make sure the judge is paying attention. I mentioned earlier that some judges place very high


November Public Forum Evidence, Video, Bibliography, Essay Available

Our 360 page PF evidence release is available for subscribers. [Essay — free with registration; Bibliography — free with registration] A video is here – Universal background checks from Stefan Bauschard on Vimeo. We also have specific starter contentions available. Please browse to the page to see this content. Our files are in Word and formatted for Verbatim, making them easy to navigate and integrate with your other files.