I've wanted to write about the always highly contentious topic of guns for a long time (RS has covered the issue before: here and here, but I have never written about it). The aftermath of last week’s horrific events seems like a good time to do it (despite repeated calls from conservative quarters that it is “too soon” to do so, whatever that means). This essay cannot come even close to being comprehensive enough to cover all relevant aspects of the debate, and as it is often the case for my writings here, it is more a way for me to clarify my own thoughts than anything else. Still, I hope people will find these reflections useful for further (much needed) discussion.
Nice summary of the arguments. I read an interesting article in the New York Times (I think) that talked about the intent of the second amendment was a citizen militia such as in ancient Greece and Rome where free people were required to own a sword. Gradually, such as in Athens and later Rome, they were forbidden from carrying their swords in public for exactly the reasons you cite in your closing paragraph.
I argue regularly with some folks who are a little right of Attila the Hun. When I’m talking about clip size and minor specifics they are agreeable that those are reasonable areas to control in order to keep the community safer, but when it comes to actually regulating anything about guns their brains turn off and it is all a matter of culture and blind faith.
Posted by Chrontius on 02/06 at 06:33 PM
I’m always wondering when I see a few of these arguments if people are comparing gun ownership rates to violence - more than half the time, they’re only looking at gun violence, and not equivalently violent acts using different weapons. Dead is dead, whether you got shot or hit over the head with a baseball bat.
I’m not going to argue against better laws and enforcement, but I’d like to be sure that the laws are actually lowering my *overall risk profile*, not just my chances of being shot, and unintended consequences are kept in mind - Australia’s rate of rapes spiked after their gun ban, and Britain is considering banning chefs’ knives - “knife crime” is the new “gun crime” there, and they’re also suffering from politically relevant levels of attacks with belt buckles (a nice improvised flail) and tightly rolled, wetted down newspapers (a surprisingly effective cudgel, comparable in effect to a sap or a blackjack). While gun crime is down, overall levels of violence have actually increased.
With the increase in violence came creepy Orwellian omnipresent CCTV surveillance - unintended consequences in action. It’s very easy to unintentionally make things worse overall by focusing too tightly on any one aspect of a political problem, and that worries me.
Posted by SHaGGGz on 02/06 at 10:36 PM
Another one worth mentioning is the notion that the real problem is violent video games and movies, not guns. The fact that other developed nations with similar availability of violent media have nowhere near the American level of gun violence is most curious.
@Alex: You mean “blind faith” can lead to faulty cognitive outcomes? You don’t say.