Piling on–Part II

Yesterday I reported on getting involved in a gun debate. The guy responded to me and to a few others. Then Kevin entered the fight with his usual overwhelming force. And here is my response:

“Why not champion the right of an individual to…I don’t know, walk down a street naked if he wishes? Or to use hard drugs? There are probably any number of individual freedoms that are curtailed in both our countries because society has taken a collective stance on them for habitual, cultural or (sometimes extremely spurious) moral grounds – why place the semi-mystical significance on guns in particular?”

I do champion those rights. Just not as much as the right to keep and bear arms. My wife and I have been members of nudist clubs for years. And, as I told my employees (when I owned my own company) when asked about a dress code I told them that, yes, we do have a dress code here, “You need to dress such that you avoid getting arrested.” I have never used illegal recreational drugs and in fact I’m reluctant to even use over the counter drugs such as aspirin. But I advocate making recreational drugs legal and letting Darwin deal with those that abuse them. I focus on guns in particular because they protect all other rights. The right to keep and bear arms in a specific enumerated right guaranteed by our constitution and is the most clear infringed upon.

“if it’s a sub-population in a state where the majority population is supporting the regime (as in Nazi Germany) the position is fairly hopeless anyway.”

Then you should be able to show where the victims had arms and were exterminated. Such examples don’t exist. In every genocide the butchers constitute only about 1% of the population (see also On Killing for reasons why that might be a constant and nearly unchangeable). Given the natural advantages that the defenders have such as fighting from behind walls and having much higher stakes in the outcome the defenders have reasonably good odds if they have reasonable access to arms.

“The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising might have ‘done better’ – do you mean they might have improved their own survival prospects, or just killed more Germans in an ultimately heroic failure? The latter possibly, the former seems thoroughly improbable.”

With only a handful of small arms they tied up thousands of the German army equipped with artillery and other heavy weapons for six weeks. Had they been better armed they probably would not have been in the ghetto to begin with, had they ended up in the ghetto they would have been much more likely to break out, and had they not been able to break out they could held off much longer and tied up more of the German army and perhaps held out until help arrived.

“And I must admit I do find it mildly galling to be chided about playing the ‘game’ of anecdotal evidence by someone who just a few paragraphs earlier had resorted to introducing a ‘movie’ into the discussion as some kind of evidence!”

The movie was based on a true story. I read the book several years ago before I saw the movie. The movie held fairly close to the book. I would have suggested you read the book but I thought there was a fair chance you had seen the movie and it would be fair less effort to see the movie than to read the book.

I’ve been studying genocide by one’s own government for many years. I can’t tell you how many books and papers I’ve read. The evidence is overwhelming. The victims were always disarmed first–often for generations. The mindset that “the government is our protector” contributes to the problem in a massive way. They do not have the mindset such that they are capable of fighting back. Some of the saddest cases I have read about were in Russia where people wrote to and desperately tried to contact Stalin “to tell him what was happening” so he could stop the killing. Often, the very people that wrote to him were explicitly put on the list of people to be killed by Stalin himself.

“Privately-owned guns are not a credible defence against nuclear or chemical weapons (and the Second Amendment most certainly isn’t), therefore the American populace has to take it on trust that those weapons will never be deployed against them.”

You don’t understand the mindset of an armed people. In the U.S. if those weapons were used against the people the survivors and others on the targeted lists would make it impossible for the perpetrators and their leaders to survive by any other means than leaving the country with a new identity. The politicians of the U.S. are the public servants and when they attempt to establish a monopoly on the possession and use of arms they are attempting to change the relationship between those that granted them their power their position of public servant. Such servants will be dismissed, either by the ballot box, the jury box, or, as a last resort, the cartridge box.

“When real people are attacked by real guns held by real-life legal gun-owners, would you describe the very real fear engendered in society by such an occurrence as rational or irrational?”

Numbers please. It’s about benefits versus hazards. See also Kevin’s analysis of the numbers. Although he does unintentionally understates things a bit. I can’t seem to find the reference right now but the murder numbers are computed differently in the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.K. it’s only counted as a murder after there is a murder conviction. In the U.S. it’s counted as a murder/accident/suicide based on the investigation of the situation. You appear to base your conclusions on the justification for banning weapons (not just guns but knives too it turns out) on the possibility that just one person might do wrong with such a tool. Do you use that same logic to all tools including computers, fire extinguishers, and automobiles? If not, then why not? I would posit it’s because you see the benefits of computers, fire extinguishers, and automobiles. You apparently cannot accept or deliberately overlook the benefits of gun ownership. Even dismissing the prevention of the somewhat rare instances of genocides numerous studies put the instances of guns being used defensively in the U.S. approximately two million times per year.

“Oh dear. You do realise the overall murder rate in Britain is more than two-and-a-half times lower than in the US, don’t you?”

See Kevin’s response then get back to me with your sources for that claim. By then you should realize that you still haven’t successfully answered Just One Question. And I hope there is a glimmer of realization that until you do successfully answer that question you have no basis for advocating the further restricting the access of weapons by individuals.


5 thoughts on “Piling on–Part II

  1. Joe: I my understatement was quite intentional – I even noted that I used CDC data rather than the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data just so the US homicide rate would look worse.

    Didn’t matter. Water of a duck’s back. Which is typical for his type: “My mind’s made up. You can’t confuse me with facts!”

    The really sad thing is, he thinks he’s a libertarian!

  2. Kevin – Well of course he thinks he’s a Libertarian. Easily done when you don’t understand what “Liberty” is.

  3. Joe, this was a very interesting and even moving piece. I have only one disagreement.

    For me, it’s not an analysis of benefits versus hazards. I don’t care if gun ownership endangers us. It’s about rights – it’s about liberty.

  4. John, I agree. But that is a more difficult arguement to make. And by staking out the position that he doesn’t even have justification liberty is still preserved.

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