27 December 2012

Gun Control Roundup

This will likely be my final word on the subject, in part because the coverage has been exhaustive, and because it looks like gun rights will live to fight another day.  Anyway, here are a couple more stories and commentary related to the Newtown shooting and gun control.

The NRA calls for armed cops in every school.  Basically the NRA is selling out its principles on this one.  The solution to most problems is not giving the government more power and authority.  Since the whole point of owning guns is to keep tyrants in check, calling for more government is philosophically identical for calling for increased gun control because the result of both processes is the same:  more government power, which is then used to harass and suppress innocent civilians.  In the name of keeping them safe of course.

Karl Denninger on Killing.  This is definitely a must-read post.  I would bet that quite a few of those clamoring for gun control have never killed anything.  Killing animals, in my experience, can be a very disgusting task.  I have shot and killed several animals in the last couple of years.  I’ve mostly killed chickens, as an act of mercy when they were injured and unable to take care of themselves (mostly broken legs and the like), and I’ve killed several raccoons that had attempted to kill some of my mom’s chickens.  Most of the animals I’ve killed, I killed with a .22, and most of my kills have required multiple shots.  There is nothing more disconcerting than watching an animal suffer and knowing you have to put a bullet in its brain because that’s the more merciful thing to do.  You quickly realize just how fragile life is, and you become more aware of what mercy truly is.

Over Christmas my youngest brother and I killed a squirrel.  We had never killed an animal for food before, and so we decided that we would clean and gut this squirrel so we could cook it.  It was a remarkably disgusting process.  We got blood all over our hands and completely dismantled the squirrel’s body.  Tonight, we will cook it.  This is the first time we will have been directly and personally responsible for our food, and it is certainly a humbling experience.

Killing and gutting an animal is nothing like the simulated violence on television and in video games.  Killing is dirty, violent, and visceral.  Nothing compares to it, and nothing can prepare you for it.  Quite simply, nothing compares to taking the life of a living thing.  Perhaps one reason why people are so callous to killing is because they don’t understand how violent it is, and how necessary it is.  Perhaps that is the reason why neo-cons who have never gone to war are so eager to start them (paging Newt Gingrich).  Perhaps people are able to treat school killings as talking points because they simply do not know how killing works.

Guns Save Lives.  An excellent resource that aggregates reports of people preventing crime by using guns in self-defense.  Now, these sorts of stories might seem obvious (seriously, does anyone with a functioning brain doubt that weapons of any sort can be used defensively?), but it’s always good to have this sort of resource on tap, bookmarked for handy reference.  Some people are apparently so obtuse that even the obvious must be proven as fact before moving on to more productive conversations.  This is the perfect resource, then, for proving that guns can be used defensively.

Paul Craig Roberts on Agenda Drive News.  Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media appears to have quite an agenda behind its coverage of the Newtown massacre.  In addition to misusing jargon to confuse people, the media has apparently been rather quiet on following up on the mental health aspect of the story.  (I noted in a prior post that the drugs Lanza took for his Asperger’s were intended to be used by schizophrenics.)  The media has also demonstrated an extreme reluctance to follow up on why the official story of the Colorado movie shooter differs so much from eyewitness accounts.  It’s really quite puzzling, at least if you assume that news organizations are supposed to give dispassionate accounts of the facts of a news story.

Bill Powell proves that there was a conspiracy behind the recent mass shootings.  As I noted before, the respective fathers of the Newtown and Aurora shooters were supposed to testify in the LIBOR scandal.  Apparently neither shooting had demonstrated any firearms proficiency prior to their respective shootings.  Incidentally, the news site Bill linked to pulled its story shortly after publication.  It’s a coincidence, I’m sure.

Andrew Ross Sorkin notes that Wall Street is heavily invested in firearms.  This is the one good thing about Wall Street, at least these days, and bodes well for the future.  Unfortunately, this may prompt soft forms of gun control if the government decides to pressure major investment firms into divesting their investments in gun manufacturers.  The NRA and other guns’ rights organizations may want to bone up on investment laws, and may want to start their own mutual funds that invest in guns and weapons manufacturers.  In fact, if the NRA is intelligent, it may offer members opportunities to invest in owning stock in gun manufacturing companies, which would help to force the government to be more overt in its attempts at banning guns.

Stephen Williamson displays his ignorance on gun ownership.  He asserts that people buy guns for three reasons:  1) they want to shoot animals, 2) they want to shoot people, or 3) they want to threaten people. This is, of course, a very shallow view.  There are some people who purchase weapons as collector’s items, and there are some who engage in competitive target shooting.  Thus, there are more than three reasons why people would buy guns.

From there, Williamson notes that sometimes guns may be used to harm people, even when harm isn’t intended.  This is rather obvious, but the conclusion that this should lead to either gun bans or extremely strict regulation is highly dubious, to say the least, even by economists’ standards.  In the first place, Williamson ignores the unintended benefits of gun ownership (reduced crime rates, e.g.).  In the second place, Williamson ignores the fundamental rule of tradeoffs that is the foundation of economics:  sure, we could have more gun safety, but at what price?  What is the tradeoff equilibrium between the costs of gun ownership and the benefits?  In the third place, there is no way that Williamson would ever apply this logic to things like cars or swimming pools, which also account for a rather significant number of deaths.  Williamson can recognize the concept of tradeoffs for cars; why can’t he do the same for guns?

John Fund on mass shootings.  He makes two important observations.  First, he notes that there are lots of potential preventive gains to be made by addressing mental health issues.  Second, he observes that gun-free zones effectively turn people into blindingly obvious targets. This should seem obvious, but it often is not to those with an agenda.

Vox Day on why US gun deaths are so high.  Unsurprisingly, minorities account for a disproportionate amount of gun violence.  If you divided up America by race, White America would have a gun rate death in line with most Western European countries, Tan America would have a gun death rate similar to that of most South American countries, and Black America would have a gun death rate similar to that of African countries.  All this is simply a fancy way of saying that whites don’t commit a lot of gun violence, while Hispanics and blacks do.  Maybe we could reduce overall gun violence by taking guns away from minorities.

David Masciotra on the culture of narcissism.  David does a good job of pointing out the fatal conceit of gun control, which is the idea that all problems are solvable.  Since we are dealing with a complex system, the appropriate way to view the problem is to think in term of tradeoffs.  We can never eliminate gun deaths; we can only reduce them.  It’s highly unlikely that we would have been able to prevent Adam Lanza from going on his spree, unless we had the precogs from Minority Report to tell us specifically that he would do it. Adam was dedicated to the idea of shooting up a school, and his plan was not deterred by gun control laws or signs stating that the school was gun-free zone.  The only way he would not have gone through with his plan would be by divine intervention or by locking him indefinitely from the time he was of age.  There will always be violence, and we can never eliminate it.  At best we can reduce it, but even reduction has its limits.

Why Grandpa Carries AGun.  Like the Guns Save Lives link above, this is another helpful resource in the gun control debate, as it lists the various historical attempts at gun control.  Funnily enough, every time gun control is enacted, it is generally followed by mass killings at the hands of the government.  Liberals are too blinded by their faith in government (and authority in general) to see this, but I will have more to say on this later.

Yahoo has a propagandistic hit piece.  One thing that I think is important to note in this debate over gun control is how it is argued on pragmatic grounds, that is, the frame of the debate is whether people are safer with more or less gun control.  The Yahoo piece subtly builds on this by trying to speak reasonably on the subject, in that it represents both views (i.e. strict gun control works; strict gun control doesn’t work).  In America, though, the real debate should be about the constitutionality of gun control.  Pragmatism should be ancillary to that.  What I fear most about the NRA’s statement is that it focuses more on the safety issue of gun ownership rather than on the inherent right of gun ownership.  This small concession may be significant later on.

Also, another thing this article ignores is gun violence that occurs at the hands of the government.  I wonder why this never gets brought up...

Obama calls for more gun control.  Obama wants the assault weapons ban back in place, as well as stricter background checks and limits on high capacity clips.  The impact of the assault weapons ban would be to drive up the price of existing assault weapons; its impact on reducing violence would be marginal at best.  The impact of the second requirement would likely be nil, unless applicants were asked about mental illness.  The impact limiting high capacity clips would be minimal as well, since there are already a good number of high capacity clips, and since lower capacity can be switched out quickly and easily by any experienced shooter.

Are Mass Shootings Increasing?  Maybe, maybe not.  Shooting sprees, of the sort witnessed at Newtown, seem to be on the rise, while overall mass gun violence is stagnant. I think what’s happening is that rational killers are becoming a little more cautious, probably due to increased conservatism in the criminal justice system (judges are not as lenient today as they were forty to fifty years ago), while crazy killers are becoming more bold.  I would imagine that this is evidence that American society has become increasingly perverse, and this development is masked by the fact that America has one of the world’s largest incarceration rates.

Brian LaSorsa on enlightened wimps.  While I ultimately think that the mental illness aspect of the Newtown Shooting is significant, I also think it may be best to simply look at Adam Lanza’s actions and say that he and he alone is to blame for them.  And it may well be the case that Adam was simply evil.  Not crazy; evil.

Karl Denninger on mental illness.  Karl brings up another good point, and one that I suspect is relevant to the matter at hand:  the mental health profession has continued to increase its base of defining illness.  For some reason, psychologists have this idea that he human brain is to have a stagnant, non-fluctuating emotional state of quiet happiness and confidence at all times, and that any deviation from this state is a disorder.  Depression, moodiness, lack of focus, social awkwardness (basically, an autistic spectrum disorder on the lighter end of the scale) are all considered diseases, brain malfunction.  To me, this is nothing more than ignoring basic facts of human nature. Sometimes we’ll be depressed.  Sometimes we’ll lack focus.  Sometimes we’ll be moody; sometimes we’ll feel awkward.  That’s life, we move on.  We don’t need to go on meds the second our confidence is challenged or the second we find ourselves be less than perfectly happy.  And constantly medicating everyone for every last minor, abrupt deviation from that which is perceived as normal is simply foolish.

Eric Peters has some perspective.  Here’s a helpful reminder that the worst mass-killing at an elementay school didn’t involve guns.

Larry Correia on gun control.  It’s deep and thorough, and well worth bookmarking for future reference.

This op-ed on Nancy Lanza contains the interesting observation that Adam Lanza does not appear to have had any significant gun training.  Now, you probably don’t need a whole lot of gun training to effectively kill a decent number of defenseless people at close range.  However, you’d think someone who spent a lot of time planning an attack would, you know, practice the most important part of carrying it out.  Again, I’m starting to smell a conspiracy here.

Gun control advocates apparently know little about guns.  Here’s a good way to start a debate with a gun control advocate:  ask them to define their terms.  If they can’t tell the difference between a clip and a magazine, a revolver and pistol, an automatic and a semi-auto, or a rifle and an assault rifle, then they clearly have no clue what the hell they’re talking about.  Make sure everyone is aware of their ignorance before you proceed, and the discussion just might go in your favor.

On a personal note, both my mother and sister—both of whom are schoolteachers, and both of whom are rather squeamish about guns and violence—are now considering buying handguns.  I recommended Walther P22s to start, but would also recommend a compact 9mm, like the Kel-Tec P11.  Anyhow, I only mention this as anecdotal evidence that even those among the half of the population less inclined towards logic are not convinced by the nonsensical and unrealistic argument that gun control advocates have been offering of late, so maybe there is hope after all.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you kindly Simon for the linkage. It didn't surprise me the LIBOR link was pulled down so quickly, I was sitting in my living room when one of my contacts sent it to me and my girl freaked out when I ran up the stairs to my office to confirm it. At least I got it posted so some of our readers could see it before it was pulled down.

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  2. @Bill- you're quite welcome. I enjoy reading your blog, by the way. You didn't happen to cache the entire page you linked to, did you?

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  3. Hell, even the cache has been scrubbed. That I didn't expect but I've seen it happen in the past. I had a guy there who I talk with regularly when all this happened but from what he tells me, this incident is destined to go down the memory hole. Did you notice how quickly any coverage of this has gone away? No explanations, just the message that the MSM wants us to hear.

    We used to be linked to each other in my past incarnation and I'm going to link you again, I read your articles every time you post. And thanks for reading mine also.

    Happy New Year to you and yours, 2013 is going to be an interesting year. There's a one hundred year anniversary coming up and you know as well as I do the the PTB loooves symbolism.

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  4. @Bill- yeah, the MSM ran its propaganda machine and moved. I don't think it worked, though, because I've been unable to find ARs and AKs in gun shops for about two weeks now.

    Thanks in advance for linkage; I've amended my blogroll to include you. Best wishes to you for the new year.

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