Quote of the day—Paul Koning

Why should it be your responsibility as a seller to verify the intentions of the buyer any more than it is for the seller of a car or a crowbar?

The basis of this background checks notion is the idea of collective responsibility, the uncivilized idea that you should feel responsible for the wrong acts of someone else.

Paul Koning
January 23, 2015
Comment to Carrots versus Sticks?
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]

11 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Paul Koning

  1. The average person will never run across a more dangerous substance in their lives than gasoline, yet we allow any moron to purchase it. Why no background checks ?

  2. I don’t know how many vehicles I’ve test driven in my 40+ years of driving, but it’s been a lot, and I don’t recall ever being asked to show my driver’s license beforehand. The only conversation involving intent has been for the purpose of matching the vehicle to the customer’s wishes.

    “Here; take the keys, take it home, come back tomorrow and we’ll talk” is what led to my last purchase.

    The point of all this talk of course is to demonstrate, and to get people to realize, that the anti gun movement was fabricated. The anti gun fervor has been carefully and methodically engineered over the last 80 years or more, rather than having arisen as the result of objective observation and perception of reality.

    No one wants to believe that they’ve been played, that they’ve fallen for some trick or other, yet I submit that every one of us has been played at some point, and probably many times, in our personal and professional lives. When this sort if thing is perpetrated on a state-wide or nation-wide scale we call it Social Engineering.

    It’s happening all the time, and just as with competition in the business world of advertising, there are competing Social Engineering programs, each vying for your allegiance. The more cynical view, and I believe it is largely correct, would divide us up into groups according to the various Social Engineering ruses each group is falling for.

    That’s the authoritarian system. Anyone bold and audacious enough to simply quit the system, just quit playing the games, will be attacked by all sides. They’ll put aside their differences until after they’ve dealt with you. It is almost impossible to quit though, so we’re fairly safe in that regard.

  3. Hmm, I’ll bet if you were to ask the question the right way, you could get pretty good public support in a poll question of whether background checks should be required to buy a car or crowbar.

  4. Not saying that should be the case, but if one got strong favorability, it would illustrate the uselessness of polling in shaping public policy.

  5. Let’s play around the edges of these attitudes and beliefs with some hypotheticals.
    You friend Fred drops by. He’s pissed off. He says, “Please let me borrow your gun. Or you crowbar. Or your car. I’m going to use it to murder my wife.” You do and he does. Do you bear any responsibility? Feel any shame?
    Your friend Fred drops by. You’ve known him since grade school. He’s obviously in a deep depression. He says, “Please sell me your gun. Or you stepladder. Or your car. I’m going to shoot myself. Or hang myself. Or drive into a bridge abutment at 100 miles an hour.” You do and he does. Do you bear any responsibility? Can you look his mom in the eye without shame and say, “It’s all him.”
    If your answers are no, no, no, and yes, then chances are the ethos you’ve chosen to defend a very principled individualism will score highly with the like-minded. Folks within two standard deviations of the mean will think you fail the Voight-Kampff test. This may not trouble you. You know you’re not a replicant or a sociopath. But in a Judeo-Christian culture that at least pays lip-service to a communitarian spirit, shouting something that sounds like “Am I my brother’s keeper?” invites comparison to Cain. This will cost you influence.

    • I don’t mind exploring the issues, but the purpose of the quote is to focus on the rule, not the exceptions.

      Sure, we shouldn’t give a dangerous object to someone who declares that thery are about to do something evil. But if someone seems like a nice person, and asks for a dangerous object, there shouldn’t be any reason to withhold that object from the person.

      Background checks, though, suppose that it’s our responsibility to have a perfect understanding of the person’s state of mind before giving them the gun. This is impossible, but we have this silly idea that a person who has had any sort of mental issue in the past, however minor, and any person who’s committed a “felony” (however non-violent) will automatically cause harm; alternatively, we have this idea that those who have NOT had any evidence of this, will have perfect motives afteward as well.

      Not only does “background checks” represent a collective esponsibility, it also represents a potential failure endemic to collective responsibility: Fred may have been acting a little “off” that day, but he passed his background check, so I sold him a dangerous item anyway, and he went and did something horrible. (I may be wrong, but in certain jurisdictions, it may even be required by law to sell a gun to the person, if they pass the background check!)

      Finally, if word got out that my favorite merchant sold Fred an implement of death after what Fred just said to him…I don’t think that the merchant should go to jail over it, but I doubt that the merchant would be my favorite person to go to afterward…

      Although, now that I think about it, if I were a clerk in the supermarket, and some stranger coming through my line was buying rat poison, and said, “I’m going to poison my wife with this tonight!” would it be my responsibility to deny selling him the rat poison? How do I tell if he’s serious, or just joking? Should there be background checks on rat poison?

      I somehow doubt that background checks are the best solution for this issue: we’re creating a bad law to try to address the rare corner cases (as horrible as those corner cases may be!).

  6. Good question. Conspiracy to commit a crime requires an agreement between two people and an overt act. That overt act can be buying burglar tools at a hardware store, such as a crowbar, a screwdriver or a hammer. Without intent from the agreement, it’s just buying tools. Considering the school murder with the highest body count was done in the 20’s with gas bombs, the singling out of firearms is not based on their use in crimes (long guns used in crimes are in the low single digits, IIRC), but to prevent a repeat of the American Revolution, or the Warsaw Uprising, or the actions of the French Resistance in central France, or the actions of the Belgian civilians in August 1914, if you believe the German Army.

  7. Sean: you make good points. But I would argue that it’s not about issues of conscience. The proper question is not “would you have difficulty living with yourself if you sold someone a gun, or a rope, or a bottle of rat poison, and he killed himself or his spouse with it?”

    Speaking for myself, sure I’d feel guilty, in all three cases. But that’s not the question. The questions is whether it should be illegal for me to do so.

    The theory of background checks is that, yes, you bear some responsibility. And let me add: I’ve never heard of someone doing a background check and later being prosecuted anyway — although I’m sure it could happen, and probably has happened — but the fear is that, no matter how thoroughly you do the background check, if something awful happens, you’ll be told you didn’t check thoroughly enough.

    • Thanks Daniel. Yes, that’s what I meant. Sean is quite correct in the points he raises, but none of those translate into a legal duty.

      • Cool. I was worried that y’all were limiting responsibility to legal duty. We do agree that having a legal responsibility for every indirect or unintended consequence of our actions is a bad idea.

        Daniel: My point is that the quote of the day appears to deny any sort of responsibility. It classifies “verifying the intentions of the buyer” as a form collective responsibility, and rejects that as uncivilized. (Minor quibble: background checks have never been sold as verifying the intent of the buyer. They are sold as a means of enforcing a prohibition against persons who have a history of misbehavior. The Precautionary Principle trumping rights. Which is bad in its own way. ) On the parent thread, Rolf brought up the value of being able to use _a_ background check to satisfy a personal (non-legal) sense of responsibility prior to transferring a weapon to a stranger. Paul’s response is the QotD. Rolf had a broader view of responsibility and Paul was focused on legal duty, specifically as encoded in I-594. Even in context, the QotD can come across as Cain-ish. Even though Paul is not Cain. Or a replicant.

        Don’t worry. Things will get better when I am God-Emperor and compel everyone to speak in an unambiguous, context-free grammar. It’s there. In Prophecy.

  8. And more than a few crimes are committed by people who pass the background check. In these instances the Powers that Be bloviate about “mental health” and talk about making health records public and doing away with doctor-patient privilege, and about making “mental health screenings” a mandatory step in the many hoops one must jump through in order to get a permission slip to pay the fee to exercise a Constitutional right.

    And when they’re done admitting that they can’t make this work without turning America into a police state, then they start saying about, for example, Jared Loughner: “well, OBVIOUSLY something was wrong with this guy, they should have KNOWN, even if he passed the background check, and refused to sell him a gun!” Only, if you refuse to sell a firearm to someone whose background check comes up clean, you and your business are now on the receiving end of a “civil rights” lawsuit for “unlawful discrimination,” and if you do sell it and something happens thereafter, MAIG sues you anyway for “negligence.” I wonder if any of the licensed firearm dealers that BATF strongarmed into selling guns to people they knew were smuggling them to foreign gangsters under Operation Fast and Furious have been sued by MAIG, and, if not, why not.

    As noted Leftist philosopher Noam Chomsky says: intent can readily be inferred from predicable outcome. They wish to make it impossible to buy, sell, or guns legally and use lawsuits to put all FFL holders out of business. Then when everyone who currently owns a gun dies, their property is seized by the state for destruction rather than being inherited by the lawful heirs–this is already happening in Massachusetts and New York–and “the gun problem” is solved.

    I’ve said it before: drunk driving kills tens of thousands of Americans every year, but DUI isn’t even a felony and people who are convicted of DUI are almost never stripped for life of the privilege of having a drivers license and operate a motor vehicle, despite having amply demonstrated that they’re not sufficiently responsible to do so without being a menace to the public. Every Monday morning rush hour in any metropolitan urban area there are multiple multiple-care pileups, some days with a net body count in the two digits. Nobody cares. But every time some sad sack five states away shoots his ex-girlfriend and then kills himself, that’s a “mass shooting” and you can’t see anything else on the news or hear about anything else on the radio for days. Every time some thug shoots another thug over who’s going to deal rock cocaine in which playground, it’s “gun violence” and there’s a candlelight vigil full of welfare recipients and weepy college kids to “raise awareness” of the “tragedy” and it’s all over TV and the newspapers. College professors write newspaper editorials about how they yearn to see all those working-class white Üntermenschen who own guns getting rounded up, put on cattle cars, and made into lampshades and candles.

    We live in interesting times. We will not be voting our way out of this.

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