Friday, December 11, 2015

It's Christmas So -- Guns!

The words "gun control" are all around us this holiday season, but the real debate here is about reducing massacres of innocent folks by heavily armed villains. But getting past the easy slogans about weapons is tough - that's why slogans work.

New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik tackles and exposes the many factual, real errors in the prevailing slogans in this essay. Some excerpts: (And be sure to read my NOTE below) --

"Gun laws solve nothing because terrorists, whether in Paris or San Bernardino, aren’t the sort of people who care about or obey them.This might properly be restated as follows: if a pickpocket steals your wallet on the bus, repeal the laws against pickpockets. If terrorists and criminals do still get guns, despite existing gun laws, there is no reason to have gun laws at all. But the goal of good social legislation is not to create impermeable dams that will stop every possible bad behavior; it is to put obstacles in their way. The imperfection of a system of restraints is an argument about the imperfection of all human systems. It is not an argument against restraints. What’s more, the special insight of recent criminology is to show that low walls work nearly as well as high ones, and are obviously much easier to build. Making any crime harder usually makes it much harder. If the terrorists in San Bernardino had had to work as hard at building guns as they did at building bombs, perhaps the guns would have worked as badly as the bombs did."
"There are already so many guns in circulation in the United States, and their owners are so determined to keep them, that introducing limits would have no practical effect. ... Piecemeal social reform tends to be slow, but it tends to be successful. (Many manageable middle-range changes, from ammunition control to “smarter” and more secure guns, have been suggested as passable paths to gun sanity.) One need look only at the history of smoking or of car safety to see that this is so. Cancer caused by cigarettes and deaths caused by traffic fatalities, which were once fixed and ubiquitous features of American life, have been vastly reduced by gradual reform."
"Even if gun control were a good thing, the Second Amendment renders its achievement impossible.  ... Does anyone believe that Madison and Mason, stumbling into the first-grade classroom where modern assault weaponry had blown apart twenty six-year-olds and six of their terrified caretakers, would then say, “Well, too bad—but, yes, that’sexactly what we meant by the right of the people to keep and bear arms”?"

NOTE: Whether guns or other ills which bring problems, I'm on the side of seeking solutions rather than giving up on any useful resolution. Problems have solutions. I endorse the right to keep and bear arms - it is a basic right. Reducing mass murder is the goal, as is public safety. Whipping up hysteria and rage at the mere thought of discussing this issue, framing such discussion as open warfare, is dangerous and pointless. We don't live in a cartoon. 

Merry Christmas.