Chad Perrin: SOB

11 April 2008

the truth about gun control

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 03:37

Take a multiple choice pop quiz.

Answer the following questions for yourself. I’m not collecting data or grading you. This is for your own benefit.

Which is most important to you? Choose one:
  1. Your money.

  2. The President of the United States.

  3. Your life, and the lives of your loved ones (children, spouses, et cetera).

Who should most be allowed to have guns and other weapons? Choose one:
  1. Your bank’s guards.

  2. The US Secret Service.

  3. You and others like you.

Guns aren’t going away.

You can try to ban guns by legislation and greater force of arms in the hands of agents of the government. You cannot succeed in any meaningful sense, however.

  1. Guns are numerous and durable. Hundreds of millions of them already exist in the world today, and a firearm that is properly maintained can last centuries. Trying to ban them would only limit how many new guns enter circulation, assuming any success in the banning practice.

  2. Well-intentioned, law-abiding citizens may give up guns when asked to do so, but ill-intentioned lawbreakers will not. Trying to ban guns will only ensure that the ratio of guns in the hands of good people to those in the hands of bad people decreases.

  3. Regulating firearms manufacturers will not stop new guns from entering circulation. Guns are, in fact, not terribly difficult to make. Simple tools allow the creation of both firearms and ammunition without too much difficulty.

Guns don’t give the bad guys an advantage.

Guns are equalizers. Only the utterly mad or the utterly stupid willingly enters a life-and-death situation where the odds are anywhere near even, or have a reasonable chance of being even. A would-be mugger with a gun is highly unlikely to ply his illegal trade among people who might be carrying firearms, while that same mugger is far more likely to do so among people who have been disarmed by the law. Things become even more dicey for the would-be mugger when all he has is a baseball bat, a knife, or his bare hands. The simple fact of laws friendly to the lawful ownership of firearms serves as a deterrent to violent and property crimes — far more so than strict sentencing and the threat of police investigation, according to polls of prison inmates (people who have reason to fear police investigation, one would think).

You may think that banning guns would make you safer, but you should consider the threat of an unarmed criminal when you are yourself unarmed. Is he stronger than you? Does he have any reason to fear you as a physical threat? Do you think he might target you specifically because he knows you are probably unarmed? The truth is that at best, banning guns only makes you feel safer, and even that only when you ignore the facts — unless you make it a habit of attacking or threatening people who would be directly affected by such a ban.

The common platitude states that “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” Even if you can strip guns from outlaws (which you can’t), however, you make the world a less safe place for the law-abiding citizens, because they cannot defend themselves effectively against outlaws who are stronger than they are. Far from making the world a more peaceful place, even if you could eliminate all the guns in the world, all you would do is ensure that those with physical threat advantages and a desire to do you harm are more likely to do so. Why would you want to give the physically strong such an advantage when they pick a fight with you?

Firearms are a private matter.

Even in US jurisdictions where it is extremely difficult to get a concealed carry permit, there are often ways to get such a permit. People considered sufficiently in need by the courts include those who must carry large quantities of cash, public figures, and people who have acquired restraining orders against those who have proven a desire and ability to harm them, such as battered former wives, homosexuals targeted by violent homophobes, and minorities targeted by bigots.

In such jurisdictions, anyone with a concealed carry permit is usually either one of the above or friends with a judge. Such jurisdictions also tend to be those where the privacy of concealed carry permit holders and other gun owners are most routinely violated by the government and its law enforcement agencies. Official lists of permit holder records are compiled and, thanks to common procedural regulations, often made public.

Should lists of people carrying large quantities of cash around with them, and thus assumed to be at risk of robbery, be made public?

Should the names and addresses of people who have gotten restraining orders against their persecutors be made public as well?

. . . or should they be allowed to maintain their privacy and, thus, some improved measure of safety from those whose threats have caused them to seek a concealed carry permit in the first place?

US gun control has its roots in racism.

In the United States, gun control legislation really began with the attempt to eliminate the ability of blacks to defend themselves against white racists. In short, the Ku Klux Klan — many members of which were well-known influential members of their communities when they weren’t wearing white hoods over their faces — was tired of having its members shot when they set out to tar-and-feather or lynch someone.

Many, though not all, advocates of gun control have had similar motivations since then, both in the US and across the rest of the world. Tyrannical communist and fascist regimes have had some of the strictest gun control laws in history, and have also had some of the highest mass-murder totals. Certain genocidal tribal groups in Africa consistently try to disarm their enemies through force of law in several countries.

Racism and similar bigotry toward minority groups may not be the most common motivation behind gun control legislation in the United States these days, but many of the effects of gun control and related laws are largely indistinguishable from bigotry motivated legislation. The areas most likely to be subject to strict gun control laws in the US also tend to be areas with larger than average black, homosexual, and other minority populations. Victimless crimes such as marijuana possession disproportionately target minority populations as well, and the enforcement of such crimes often motivates people to advocate for disarming those who would be subject to arrest through gun control legislation.

National security is personal security, and vice versa.

What is the purpose of “national security”? Isn’t it the personal security of a nation’s citizens (or even its subjects, in cases such as the UK where residents are more properly subjects than citizens)? Disarming individuals in the face of those who would harm them for the purpose of “national security” is akin to burning a village to save it.

Airline security is moving in exactly the opposite of the correct direction. Could you imagine terrorists being able to take over airliners with box cutters if half the law-abiding passengers were armed as well? The World Trade Center would be less likely to have been taken out by airplanes if passengers were allowed to carry concealed handguns with frangible bullets (so they wouldn’t pierce the skin of the aircraft and cause cabin decompression). Flight 93, the one that was brought down in an open field before reaching the target its hijackers intended, might have made it to a safe airport landing if the passengers had been thusly armed.

One of the reasons Switzerland remained largely unmolested during World War II was surely its neutrality. Another, however, was the fact that its citizens are armed. Essentially every adult male citizen of Switzerland becomes a member of its national defensive militia force, with a government-issued rifle on hand at home. All are trained both in conventional organized military operations and guerrilla tactics to provide for defense against aggressors from other nations. Private, non-militia firearms and ammunition regulation is notably lax, providing for even greater proliferation of firearms per capita. What crazy person would invade such a place? Sadly, the Swiss populace has bought into the scare-mongering tactics of leftist politics and the Swiss government is in the process of eliminating the rifle-issuing practice and tightening other gun laws, despite the fact that more than twice as many murders and attempted murders in Switzerland were committed with bladed weapons than with guns.

Guns are simple objects.

Like any other piece of property, a gun can be misused. It can also be used for good purposes. Guns have no moral character themselves. Oddly, a gun (which can serve the noble purpose of self-defense) is often viewed with suspicion and an eye toward governmental banning by many of the same people who (rightly) view drug prohibition as bad policy that infringes on the rights of the individual — even though many drugs in their recreational forms have no noble purpose I’ve ever encountered. Drugs like heroin and cocaine can be used to harm oneself or others too, and do not provide reasonable self-defense purposes at all. Just as with guns, however, criminalizing drug possession tends to cause more harm than good.

Because they can be simply made, because they are ethically neutral inanimate objects, and because they have positive, important purposes, banning guns is a policy with obvious negative consequences. More importantly, however, banning guns infringes the rights of the individual to acquire and dispose of his property as he sees fit, freely and without outside interference, through mutually beneficial trade. It not only infringes the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, but a broad interpretation of the freedom of association clause of its First Amendment as well.

Just as cars, knives, drugs, baseball bats, icepicks, and even hedgehogs can be used as murder weapons, but should not be outlawed for such a reason, so too should guns not be outlawed. Apart from their other, more ethically legitimate uses, all these things have something obvious in common: they are all subject to ethical possession by a human being (well, maybe not a hedgehog, depending on how you feel about pets), and banning their ownership because they might be misused is a violation of individual rights.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License