The simple meaning is "rigorous; unusually severe or cruel: as in Draconian forms of punishment." Wikipedia has the whole story of Draco, from whom the word comes.
Of all the words misused by the pro-gun crowd this one takes the cake. They call people "liars" for their opinions and they frequently misuse the word "hypocrite," but nothing beats the silly repetition of the word "draconian" when referring to American gun control laws.
We have to use a little common sense to arrive at this conclusion, which I realize is a problem for some of the very offenders, but here goes.
Numerous gun laws, even the oft-vaunted tens of thousands they talk about, are not draconian when they are in large part ineffectual, unenforceable or easily circumvented. Draconian would be severe and cruel. Furthermore, in certain places where there are fairly serious restrictions on guns, driving an hour or two to the neighboring State where laws are lax, makes that a joke. Those so-called draconian laws in places like New Jersey and California are ineffectual because they are easily circumvented.
Requiring background checks on gun transfers is not onerous when you can simply step over to the next booth or car trunk and buy guns without any check at all.
So, why the frequent use of this inappropriate word to describe the situation? Well for one thing, by exaggerating the problem they can more easily resist additional laws which might indeed be effectual. It's the-best-defense-is-a-good-offense mentality. Another reason is that many who use this word are mindlessly repeating what they'd heard from some charismatic pro gun speaker. Maybe Wayne was the first to use it, although I'd bet it predates even him.
Of course, we have to admit, the word is cool. Let's face it when folks quote Latin they seem scholarly, but when they drop a little Greek, they can fantasize about being Oxford Dons or Harvard Fellows. Let's not underestimate the fantastic imaginations of the gun folks.
What's your opinion? Do you agree that it's a bit silly to use the word "draconian" to describe gun laws that obviously don't work?
Please leave a comment.