Friday, December 28, 2012

The Lesson Continually Never Learned

Chicago has reached a grim milestone this year with only 12 less murders than the entire year of 2008; which was a record I believe.  Now many will mention that Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, yet it has had no affect on crime. This is true though more liberal, looser, gun control laws allowing more citizens to own firearms wouldn't make a difference.

This isn't to say that I am not for more liberal gun control laws, I very much am, but you have to recognize the root cause for Chicago's problems.  The inability for citizens to own firearms legally for their protection isn't the root cause for Chicago's problem, though it certainly doesn't help, it is corruption, economic stagnation, and ineffectual enforcement.  The simple truth is that Chicago has high crime because Chicago is rotting from the inside. It's institutions, its ethics, the police, and civil ethics have all degrading tremendously.

 The lack of focus on the root causes of crime is were gun control efforts get it wrong, and were gun rights advocates should start their arguments from.  My opinion, after reading many studies on gun violence, is that looser firearm laws won't necessarily have any impact towards decreasing crime, gun violence, or violence in general. More firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens won't necessarily reduce crime, but that is irrelevant. The fact is that it is societal decay this is the cause of violence and crime in America. It is also a fact that firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens absolutely does not increase crime, and that it gives would be victims of crime a fighting chance.  The argument for firearms, comes down to two simple arguments.

The first argument is do you want citizens to be able to defend themselves or not? It is that simple, doesn't matter if we are talking about crimminals, corrupt government, or foreign invaders, it is all a matter of defense. Those who argue for complete firearm prohibition do not want people to defend themselves; they want the government to do it. Now many will call my comments unfair, that they are not arguing for people not to defend their lives and property from aggressors. Here is the simple truth, telling someone that they cannot be equally armed to their would be aggressors might as well be arguing for them to not be armed at all. If an assailant was coming after you with a firearm would you want your fists, a bat, a knife, pepper spray, a taser, or a gun? I think we know the answer. Let me reiterate, in principle, asking an individual to be less armed than the person assaulting them is akin to asking them to not be armed at all. Or to use a more graphic example, to ask those being raped to not resist the person raping them.

You will have some individuals that do not argue for complete prohibition, but do not want individuals to be armed with 'miltiary style' weapons.  They will give you all sorts of reasons why Americans shouldn't have, or don't need, them (assault weapons) but that simply leads me to my next argument. Argument number two is this, do you or do you not believe in liberty? American society was founded on the concept that someone should be able to do something unless there is absolute proof that what they do will harm others, and even then there must be compelling evidence that restricting that action or item would provide a demonstrable good to society.  If you cannot provide definitive proof that certain actions do harm to others, and if you cannot demonstrably prove that laws against such actions will do any good, then you cannot in good conscious advocate laws restricting someones liberty and still consider yourself a lover of liberty.  You cannot  equivocate this, it is a simple truth, any excuses you make will ring hollow. Is the act of owning an assault rifle harmful to society? And would preventing that act actually benefit society?

So let us examine assault rifles. Now I could go on and argue how there is no definitive proof that legal assault rifle ownership is detrimental to society, but that is a futile argument to make to gun control proponents. So let us assume, for the sake of the argument, that assault rifle crime is a problem and that limiting legal weapons is a realistic option to stifle that social ill. Senator Fienstein claims based off a study on her website, which I will not link, that from 1994 to 2004 crimes committed with assault rifles fell by around 6% and that this is evidence that the ban was effective in reducing gun crime. Ipso facto the assault weapons ban is a boon to society and a morally justifiable limitation of a person liberty.

This claim is weak, and frankly, absurd considering the myriad of items that would factor into crime with assault weapons. There is no way any person can say in all seriousness that we can construct a model that would accurately show us the effect that legal assault rifles would have on assault rifle crime, it is an impossibility. There is no such thing as Hari Sheldon's psychohistory and there never will be. All we can do is infer, and the greater the shift in movement the more likely our inference will be correct.  Given that this is the case, a 6% drop in ten years means absolutely nothing because a whole host of other items, prison sentences, convictions, economic growth, so on and so forth, could have played into that rather small drop. Remember a 6% drop is about a six tenths of a percentage point each year, absolutely minuscule. If there were say 30% drop in assault rifle crime, then her claims would have some credibility, but there wasn't, so her claim doesn't.

Given that we cannot definitely say that assault rifle crimes will be impacted by an assault rifle ban, then you cannot argue for additional restrictions for them and call yourself a lover of liberty. But wait, someone might, this is about stopping gang bangers from killing each other with AKs, this is about preventing horrible atrocities like the one in Connecticut or Colorado. OK fine, let us examine this.

First off, as terrible as these acts are, they are anomalies, and history is replete with events like this.  Here is something for you to ponder. What is the difference between a mass killer, who kills a bunch of people at once, and a serial killer, who kills a bunch of people over time? The only difference I can think of is that one type of killer emphasises the statement that his actions makes, while the other just may like killing individuals, psychologically there probably isn't a big difference between them. And are serial killers somehow less terrible than mass killers? The answer is no of course.

Now, the claim that banning assault rifles would prevent these atrocities is rather weak. First off, even if we assume that it would have a measurable effect on mass killings, there is no promise that the mass killer won't simply opt to go the route of the serial killer. Secondly, while someone might be able to make an argument that this last shooting would be prevented by an assault weapons ban. The idea that it would prevent other mass shootings, or mass violence in general, is completely unfounded. Colombine happened in the middle of an assault rifle ban. The Oklahoma city bombing was done without an assault rifle. Gun free Japan experienced a mass killing via Sarine gas. And the worst mass killing at an American school was done with dynamite. You will never entirely prevent these events from happening, it is an impossibility. Evil exits, and as sad as it is, we must accept that.

So we come to the conclusion, and that conclusion, assuming that you are being intellectually honest, is given that an assault weapons ban does not have any measurable affect on assault rifle crime as far as we know. And given that we cannot prevent mass killings. Then the only reason why someone continues to argue for an assault weapons ban on legally acquired assault rifles is because it would make them feel better.  Feeling better is not a good reason for policy, and it is not an acceptable reason for restrictions of individual liverty for those that love, and understand, liberty. There are people who would feel better about America if there was no interracial or gay marriage, or if gays couldn't adopt, or if we taxed the rich at 100%, if we completely outlawed religion, or if we forcibly deported anyone who wasn't a white protestant from England, Scandinavia, or Germany; yet we don't enact laws based on those individuals feelings, because we as a society recognize them for the absurdity that it would be to do so.

Someone who wants to say that they love freedom and liberty, or even that they respect peoples fundamental rights, cannot in good conscious argue for an assault weapons ban. Even if you do not like assault rifles, can't understand why someone would want them, or dislike guns in general, the fact is, you cannot support this ban simply because of your feelings about guns and how nasty and icky they are. You need to look at the issue rationally. And someone, who actually uses rational and not emotive reasoning, will be forced to draw the conclusion that this ban serves no good purpose.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.