Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Logic of Gun Control

The logic is unimpeachable. If no citizens had guns the massacre at Sandy Hook would not have happened.

Those who traffic in moral absolutes have skillfully led the assault on guns. They insist, as though it were not even subject to debate, that we can ban mass murder by banning some kinds of guns: assault weapons, semi-automatic assault weapons, certain kinds of ammunition.  

The self-righteous among us have discovered an absolute evil and they want to ban it. They believe that their strong emotions believe that their cause is just. 

In truth, they are lathered up because their solution is wildly impractical and impracticable.

When you are dealing in moral absolutes, facts do not matter. Besides, there is no such thing as a fact that can disprove the assertion that if no one had a gun there would be no gun violence.

These traffickers do not discuss and debate. They claim a monopoly on the truth. Thus, they are doing God’s work. Any time anyone proposes another, more practical solution they rise up en masse and shout him down.

Because… if there were no guns, there would be no gun violence.

Logically, it is unquestionably true. It is also irrelevant.

Perhaps not for the reason you believe. As a moral principle, it is impractical because you cannot create good behavior by banning bad behavior.

You may not remember what happened when we decided to ban alcohol, but you do know about the War on Drugs.

It feels good to ban things, and when you do, you will discover that taboos all have loopholes. Since miscreants are in the business of exploiting loopholes, they will surely exploit new gun control laws. Better yet, being miscreants they do not respect the law anyway.

If new controls on gun ownership does not prevent more gun violence the self-righteous moralizers will believe, more than ever, that all guns should be banned.

Some courageous souls have offered a different, and equally logical take on the massacre.

If the school had had an armed guard or if the principal had been armed, someone could have shot Lanza on the spot.

It is not quite as absolute as the anti-gun argument, but at least it would have given the victims a chance and might even have served as a deterrent.

It is worth noting that Adam Lanza, like James Holmes chose a place that was free of guns. In the case of Sandy Hook, the school seems also to have been mostly free of adult males.

When several courageous pundits and politicians have suggested that schools would be safer if they had armed guards, the blowback was fast and furious.

They were shouted down for suggesting, as the reasoning had it, that the solution to gun violence was more guns.

Many Americans are offended at the idea of armed guards patrolling the corridors of elementary schools. We are not the kind of people who want to have schoolteachers carrying guns. 

We are, however, the kind of people who are willing to make unarmed women the last line of defense between a madman with an assault rifle and a class full of little children.

The women who throw themselves in the path of Lanza’s fire were courageous beyond imagination. They are true martyrs.

And yet, a chivalrous nation, a nation that believed in protecting women in children, would have been willing to propose a different line of defense.

Of course, as the national conversation has been raging, more and more people have gone out to buy guns.

No one else is going to defend them, so they feel that they need to defend themselves.

While it is true that some people use guns to commit crimes, it is also true that most people who own guns buy them to hunt or to protect themselves and their families.

Those who want to use guns to protect themselves would be most subject to gun confiscation.

If a semi-automatic assault weapon is an efficient instrument of mass murder, then it is also an efficient instrument of self-protection.

[Addendum: Peter Wehner has a post on Commentary Contentions about how gun control advocates are engaged in moral posturing. Of course, no one denies the need for some control over gun sales. As Justice Scalia once said, the second amendment does not give you a right to own a bazooka, but that is not the tenor or the tone of the argument here.]


Anonymous said...

"Those who traffic in moral absolutes have skillfully led the assault on guns."

The irony of the statement is brilliant. I find it hilarious that they can't find any moral absolute to traffic in abortion or any number of morally abhorrent things.

Stirge said...

I think we can talk about gun control in an adult manner, not moral absolutes. At some point, more restrictions on the type of guns one can purchase should happen, as well as a change in our culture concerning firearms, a change in our mental health policies, etc. Over and over, people are getting massacred, and over and over, we hear guns are not the problem. I don't think its the entire issue, but lets at least talk about what we can do to reduce the number of guns available

Stuart Schneiderman said...

See also my addendum and the post by Peter Wehner on Commentary Contentions.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, your flawed understanding is the problem.



Too bad neither of these people with a gun were at Sandy Nook last Friday.

See my post for a different framing of the scenario:

Anonymous said...

Not this time. Americans are not the only people in the world who confront mental-health problems. We are the only country that regularly experiences horrors of this sort. The difference, as the writer Garry Wills has said, is that the United States treats the gun as a secular god, immune to rational analysis and human intervention.
E. J Dione

n.n said...

Nearly 20% of homicides are committed with knives (e.g. box cutters) and similar instruments. While approximately 1 million men and women are murdered with scalpels and vacuums.

When is a man or woman entitled to liberty, dignity, and life?

n.n said...

Chinese children injured in knife attack outside primary school
Police say villager is in custody after attack in which 23 people were injured in Chengping as children arrived for classes

When all you have is a knife... criminals are resourceful. They do not, by definition, abide by societal norms.

That said, the real problem is when criminal behavior is normalized in a society.

Dissociation of risk causes corruption. Dreams of instant gratification motivates its progress.

Memphis said...

I was just getting ready to write about this when I saw your post. I like the way you sum it all up very nicely. I notice that none of the gun control fascists pay much attention to cities like Memphis, where more black children are murdered each year by very politically correct individuals, than have been massacred by any students with assault rifles. Every year Memphis has far more children slaughtered, but this doesn't stir the emotions of the Religious Left at all. We have more human beings murdered in violence that could be reduced by cutting back on favorite government 'great society' programs of the Religious Left, but which they defend tooth and nail because it generates votes for their crusaders in government and thus is more important than life or liberty.

The gun control crowd is reactionary in the extreme. 300 Memphians die of murder each year, yet they don't care at all. 20 children die in a single day and suddenly they want to ban the Bill of Rights altogether because it feels good, it feels as if they are "doing something" about evil. All they do is enable evil to more easily slaughter, as Hitler and Stalin and Mao and countless other fans of disarming the citizens can attest. There is no problem so great that government can't make it worse.