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Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:50 PM

If it's about guns, cool. If it's about people, count me out. [View all]

Last edited Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:26 PM - Edit history (10)

There is an ugliness running through some of the more self-righteous anti-gun positions that suggests that to some people gun control is not a serious policy issue about guns, but rather a cudgel with which to gain supremacy over people who are considered enemies.

Any serious discussion of gun violence would have a lot to say about guns in cities, for instance. Big cities have the toughest gun control laws for a reason. Extreme population density and entrenched poverty are a dangerous mix. But guns are sometimes discussed as if they were a uniquely rural southern white male christian republican problem.

And among those southern christian republican white males, there is great emphasis on gun enthusiasts and NRA members. But I find ten people with one gun a lot scarier than one person with ten guns. (That's ten families worth of kids that can find a gun. Ten families of people that can commit impulsive suicide, shoot an unfaithful spouse in a moment of passionate turmoil, shoot an 'intruder' that is trying to deliver a pizza to the neighbor's house, etc..

Most people who shoot other people are poor and working class people who do not have a vast arsenal. Most people who shoot other people don't vote, or belong to dues collecting interest groups.

If encountering a person with a gun, hearing the the person was a member of the NRA should be a relative relief. It would make it liklier that the person voted for Romney, but would also mean the person was probably not going to shoot you. (Similarly, I fear everyone having concealed weapons, but if I saw a guy at the mall with a gun in his pocket, knowing that he had a concealed carry permit would suggest that he was somewhat less likely to shoot me than a guy packing without a permit. But having said that, my overall preference is that the people at the mall not have a gun at all. I am not a fan of an armed populace in the world of everyday life. More guns does not make us safer.)


An uncomfortable amount of gun control rhetoric is in the form of revenge fantasy and humiliation fantasy and dominance fantasy... pretty much the same mind-set being pathologized as the presumptive reason the gun fanciers fancy guns.

Notice how much is about people, personalities, cultural factors.

Note the reliance on infantile slur names (the use of which is a badge, to indicate what 'side' one is on.). To claims of the enemies sexual inadequacy and cowardice. A personalized dehumanization of 'the other.'

The NRA say that guns don't kill people, people kill people. If that is wrong, then what's with the endless posts about the personal failings of people who own guns?


I am NOT saying that the average gun control advocate thinks in these counter-productive terms. It is that the loudest voices that drown out more nuanced discussion do so.


If controlling guns is about achieving a humiliating victory against well-heeled rednecks as part of an overarching idealogical/sociological/regional conflict then it is not an effort worth diminishing anyone's existing rights.

One can say Americans should not have that constitutional right. One can say, as I do, that Heller was probably an error that potentially opens a can of governmet grab-ass on other rights that do matter a lot to me.

But there is no question as to whether the US system of government holds, in 2013 AD, that there is a constitutional right for individuals to own guns. It does.

And that means that a lot of what anyone says about guns could, as a matter of LAW, be said about speech or religion. This is a serious issue with complex legal implications.

And any approach that starts with, "I prefer to ignore US law in this discussion of changes to US law," is not a serious discussion of anything. It is just sophomoric alternative history... what if Germany won WWII... what if the Heller decision didn't exist...



If controlling guns is about reducing the real number of real pointless shooting deaths in the real world (which I support as a legitimate balancing test in the case of weaponry) then the debate would be about the entire spectrum of real-life shootings.

Whenever somebody starts talking about banning assault weapons it suggests that they are more interested in attacking gun hobbyists than in reducing the number of actual shootings.

A gun control discussion that does not start with handguns is mere theater.


I would suggest that we make people register all existing guns, within a window of 2 years, and at the end of that period any unregistered firearm is legally defined as contraband. (Contraband is something the police can confiscate and keep. You have no right of possession of contraband.)

Similar to the old idea of calling in currency (where you have to trade in your old bills for the new bills) to wring untaxed black market money out of the system.

What I suggested there is sweeping and dictatorial and is the nightmare of the black helicopter set. It is also an effective method to greatly reduce, over time, the number of guns out there in the hands of people who are likely to shoot you.


I am quite willing to consider measures that would do a lot of real good. (Easy for me to consider them since I have never owned a gun.)


But if the point is to discomfit ones political/sociological enemies, then I am not on board. The diminution of rights, even the rights of those one hates (actually, especially the rights of those one hates) is a somber and weighty thing.

Whenever any government bans anything it is an admission of a failure. It's nothing to be proud of. It may, in some circumstances, be a grim necessity but it is a last resort.

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