James Wright’s article about how he was wrong about gun control and why it is doomed to failure, from the 90’s. The years change, but the song remains the same:
Came across this last night:
America’s decades long national argument about gun control is not a normal political debate about addressing policy to problems but about what kind of politics to have. It is fundamentally about how citizens should relate to each other and the state, and that makes it a matter of political philosophy, Politics with a capital P. That in turn explains why the debate has gone on so long without resolution and the division and frustration it inspires.
Of course it is up to Americans to decide what kind of society they should have, not philosophers, and certainly not foreign ones like me. Indeed, part of my argument is that even this most fundamental question must be decided politically, by the people, and not by appeal to the special authority of sacred constitutional principles or social science or even philosophy. Philosophers’ pronouncements of truth and rightness have no special authority over politics, nor should they. What philosophical analysis can do is offer new perspective and argumentative resources by which a political debate such as this one might be improved from its toxic stalemate.
I know what you are thinking. This is going to be a long winded argument about how guns are bad. WRONG!
So what does my philosophical perspective come down to? First a diagnosis. Both sides of the gun control debate know they are right. But only one side recognises it as a fundamentally philosophical dispute. The other has systematically evaded the real debate about values in favour of the faux objectivity of a statistical public health argument [See Hunt for a discussion of what the gun control debate is actually about]. Second some positive advice. The advocates of gun control need to take the political philosophy of the gun rights movement seriously and show that a society without guns is a better society not that it is a safer one.
It only gets better from there:
I’m going to have to be blunt. Gun control advocates rely excessively on a public health case that is not only much weaker than they believe it to be but also crowds out the kind of arguments that might actually win over their opponents. Their confidence that they are on the right side of history has blinded them to the fact that they have chosen to fight on the wrong ground. They keep harping on about guns killing people. As if guns were like cigarettes, and as if the numbers were big enough to matter
Guns are an excellent killing technology. They are extremely good at transforming an intention to kill into its achievement. However, that doesn’t mean that they are a particularly significant cause of death; only a particularly exciting one.The idea that forcibly removing guns from citizens would reduce death rates in any appreciable degree is a triumph of moral indignation over statistics. America is not 43rd in the world for life-expectancy because it kills so many people with guns, but, principally, because of the social gradient in health that follows from its shameful levels of socio-economic inequality .
Let’s go into this a little more.
We hear a lot about the large number of deaths caused by guns in America, around 33,000 per year. This sounds like a big number. But understanding whether a number is big enough to matter requires considering it in context. 2.6 million Americans die every year [CDC] . Gun deaths represent just over 1% of deaths, and two thirds of those are suicides. From a public health perspective, many other causes of death seem much more deserving of our worry, and also more likely to yield to government intervention.
So happy to see someone else making the same arguments I’ve been using for years. This one addresses a plethora of typical arguments: Guns vs Cars, Suicide, Mass Shootings, etc. I have to disagree with the author’s “Your gun isn’t going to stop the military” argument for reasons outlined in previous posts, but you can’t have everything.
Every time I see someone using an Uncle Mikes style bargain basement soft nylon holster, I try to educate them on why this is a bad idea.
Here’s living proof of why:
“I holstered the firearm in the new holster at home and made sure it was secure and comfortable, and then drove three miles over to our storage facility. I spent 10 minutes in the storage facility, just climbing around stuff and going through boxes. When I left, I walked outside and opened the car door. I went to go get in the car and just heard a loud bang,” Matt explained.
“There’s no way that just happened. That did not just happen. And then I grabbed by butt and felt a hole in my pants and said, ‘Ok that just happened.’”
Dude took a round right through his left butt cheek because his holster didn’t fit right and ‘something’ got in the trigger area. Draw your own conclusions as to whether the shirt is actually the culprit.
More than this, though, a soft holster won’t stay open if you have to draw the weapon and need to then reholster after the threat is over. You have to use two hands to reholster, or remove the holster entirely, insert the weapon, then put the holster back on. This is a no-go.
There are three essential pieces to carrying a sidearm:
- The pistol
- The holster, which keeps your firearm where you need it.
- The belt, which attaches the holster to your body.
Too many times I see people buy a quality firearm, then cheap out on the holster and belt. They will use a cheap cotton belt from Old Navy or Sears and then be surprised their pants don’t stay up and the holster flops around. Their holster doesn’t secure the weapon correctly (see above) or they can’t get a consistent draw. Etc etc etc.
The guy above has an expensive and painful reminder of his mistakes. Do yourself a favor and don’t repeat them.
I came across a blog entry that had been posted to Reddit today. I’ll admit, I’d tagged the submitter as the typical antigun nutjob, so I was quite surprised to find that the article was about the toxic hostility of the typical facebook antigun zealot and how language matters when discussing law:
If you don’t understand these terms already, why should you care? You should care because when you misuse them, you signal substantially broader gun restrictions than you may actually be advocating. So, for instance, if you have no idea what semi-automatic means, but you’ve heard it and it sounds scary, and you assume that it means some kind of machine gun, so you argue semi-automatics should be restricted, you’ve just conveyed that most modern handguns (save for revolvers) should be restricted, even if that’s not what you meant.
It’s hard to grasp the reaction of someone who understands gun terminology to someone who doesn’t. So imagine we’re going through one of our periodic moral panics over dogs and I’m trying to persuade you that there should be restrictions on, say, Rottweilers.
Me: I don’t want to take away dog owners’ rights. But we need to do something about Rottweilers.
You: So what do you propose?
Me: I just think that there should be some sort of training or restrictions on owning an attack dog.
You: Wait. What’s an “attack dog?”
Me: You know what I mean. Like military dogs.
You: Huh? Rottweilers aren’t military dogs. In fact “military dogs” isn’t a thing. You mean like German Shepherds?
Me: Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody’s trying to take away your German Shepherds. But civilians shouldn’t own fighting dogs.
You: I have no idea what dogs you’re talking about now.
Me: You’re being both picky and obtuse. You know I mean hounds.
You: What the fuck.
Me: OK, maybe not actually ::air quotes:: hounds ::air quotes::. Maybe I have the terminology wrong. I’m not obsessed with vicious dogs like you. But we can identify kinds of dogs that civilians just don’t need to own.
You: Can we?
Because I’m just talking out of my ass, the impression I convey is that I want to ban some arbitrary, uninformed category of dogs that I can’t articulate. Are you comfortable that my rule is going to be drawn in a principled, informed, narrow way?
So. If you’d like to persuade people to accept some sort of restrictions on guns, consider educating yourself so you understand the terminology that you’re using. And if you’re reacting to someone suggesting gun restrictions, and they seem to suggest something nonsensical, consider a polite question of clarification about terminology.
As usual, Larry hits the nail on the head in this great post:
Paris. Coming soon to a location near you. Mumbai, Beslan, and a thousand others, we’ve seen this before, and we’ll see it again.
On the personal, local level, this is another example of why you should carry a gun. No, we don’t expect every permit holder to be a Navy SEAL, just a speed bump. The best way to stop a mass shooter is an immediate violent response. At best, you drop them before they can hurt too many people. At worst, congratulations you were a distraction, but even distractions can save lives or derail plans.
Running is great. I’ll never fault somebody who chooses to run or hide when bad things happen. Every one of us has a different level of training, knowledge, and commitment, and what is the right answer for you, isn’t the right answer for your grandma. If you are the kind of person to get involved, you need to have a clue. However, since the only constant of gunfights is that they suck for somebody, you can do everything right and still die. On the bright side you at least bought everybody else some time.
For the pacifistic anti-gun dumb asses on the internet who always crop up in the aftermath of any violent event, bitching about imaginary crossfires, or how fighting back would just make things worse. Just shut up already. You’re children, with a child’s grasp of the subject. When people are being mass butchered, barring tossing hand grenades at the bad guy, it is pretty damned hard to make it worse.
I came across an article in the WSJ today that succinctly summed up the gun control situation in American politics.
It’s notable how much the rhetoric has changed since the peak of the national gun-ban movement, when politicians talked honestly about reducing violence by constricting the gun supply—and what that would require. In a 1989 Senate hearing, Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, a Democrat from Ohio, candidly explained: “If you don’t ban all of them you might as well ban none of them.” But gun bans proved unpalatable to American voters in even the most liberal jurisdictions. In 1976 Massachusetts voters rejected a handgun ban referendum 69% to 24%, with 86% of eligible voters going to the polls. In 1982 California voters rejected a handgun “freeze,” which would have barred their sale, 63% to 37%, with a voter turnout of 72%. (source)
Gun owners have long memories. We’re fully aware that despite the rhetoric softening slightly, the true desires of the antigun extremists is to ban as many as possible. After all, what else is “Australian” gun control without confiscation under the guise of buybacks?
We’re not stupid, as GeekyLiberal stated, and we don’t appreciate being lied to or lied about.
The WSJ goes on to say
Gun owners and Second Amendment activists understand that Howard Metzenbaum was absolutely right about the logic of supply-side gun control. So they resist incremental gun controls on the understanding that the latest proposal cannot be the last step. And when these half-measures fail, in either passage or effectiveness, progressives can always blame the “gun lobby.”
Yet despite the media push to make the NRA the biggest boogeyman ever, they poll higher than Obama and Clinton and support for gun banning remains low, no matter what push polls claim about background checks.
Still, President Obama’s open praise of the Australian gun ban is progress of a sort. It sets us on the path toward an honest debate about the confiscation policies that supply-side gun control inevitably requires. The challenge is to get the politicians who continue to crave the votes of gun owners to speak as candidly about this as the president has.
This reminds me of another article I read earlier this year where Charles W. Cooke called for antigun extremists to nut up or shut up:
When the likes of Rob Delaney and Bill Maher and Keith Ellison say that we need to get rid of the Second Amendment, they are not speaking in a vacuum but reflecting the views of a small but vocal portion of the American population. And they mean it. That being so, here’s the million-dollar question: What the hell are they waiting for? Go on, chaps. Bloody well do it.
As gun owners, we’re tired of the dancing around and hints the antigun forces keep dropping. As the WSJ post concludes:
So, to the glib critics of America’s gun culture: You cannot continue to have it both ways. If vast reductions in the supply of guns are the key to stopping mass shootings, tell us precisely what policies you propose. And then tell us how you intend to square those policies with the fact that Americans already own hundreds of millions of firearms.
If you cannot reconcile these two things, then you owe America’s lawful gun owners a different conversation: One in which you try to convince them that they’d be better off under policies that would disarm good people in a fruitless attempt to keep bad men from getting guns.
Just another example of a good guy with a gun:
Local 4 has learned the robber walked into the bank and announced a hold-up. He received money from a teller and then pointed the gun at the customer, who shot him. [The CCW holder] shot him in both arms and the leg.
If you are going to carry, carry everywhere. The gun does you no good if you leave it at home.