From the Comments: Guns and Truth

I often think that reading through the ‘comments’ section of a post or an article online can tell me much more about an idea or an event than can the original article. Oftentimes the nitty-gritty details of an article or post can be illuminated in the ‘comments’ section if the author is kind enough to wade into the pool of hoi polloi and defend his argument. Dr. Delacroix is an expert in this regard, and I thought I’d reproduce his defense of the Second Amendment here (since he is being uncharacteristically humble out it!). A European drive-by commentator left the following comment bragging about the superiority of Europe’s gun control laws, which sparked the following brilliant response from Dr. J:

Thank you and a fairly disjuncted response because I would need several days to provide a response that would both be fairly complete and well organized.

History matters. The US was born in revolution, Unlike the case of France, for example, the American revolution was never confiscated. Many Americans, including me, believe that insurrection against a government gone rogue is a remote but possible scenario. Those who scoff at this possibility should remember that totalitarian regimes are eager to control even one-shot, small caliber shotguns. Maybe fascists know something liberal gun-control advocates don’t understand. Even, if the scenario is utterly unrealistic, it could give the American people backbone, as sacred myths often do.

At this point, it takes some self-discipline for me to not respond to the intimation of European superiority in your last paragraph. Well, I couldn’t resist in the end; I yielded; here I go: The disarmed condition of the European population (except the Swiss) might contribute to the lack of backbone they often demonstrate when faced with a violent threat.

In this country, the US, the police by and large acknowledge that they are unable to protect citizens against physical aggression by the criminal, the insane and the insanely criminal. For whatever reason, (including possibly the existence of many individually owned weapons) the law-abiding should be able to protect themselves against aggression. The alternative it to live in fear and in dishonor.

Remains the issue of the net effect of having a somewhat armed populace: Does it do more harm than good? (I think the general European intellectuals’ presumption is that it does more harm.) At this point, I think the book cited in my essay: More Guns, Less Crime answers the question: It does more good. Another book could turn me around. It does not exist, or not yet.

You don’t really have to read the book if you are in a hurry. A little thinking about recent horrors points to the same idea: In the theater massacre in Colorado in July of 2012 the shooting lasted for fourteen minutes. The theater was “gun-free zone” by design. One single redneck movie-goer with a small revolver would probably have cut the death toll somewhat. And I hate to sound cynical but the massacre in peace-loving Norway in the summer of 2011 lasted an hour and a half, I think. One single Texas woman with a small gun in her bra might have reduced with a single lucky shot the death toll to, say, a reasonable 42 instead of 85 defenseless victims.

Broadly, I agree with the proposition that if we can reduce avoidable risk, we should. I think we should begin with alcohol-related traffic accidents. There is no downside to doing it, unlike the case with gun control. The US was not born from a traffic accident; we have no cultural investment into driving drunk. No one defends the practice, not even habitual or convicted drunk drivers. In addition, the path to reducing the number of such deaths is clear, simple, and cheap.

Sorry to repeat myself: I have to keep wondering why the many and highly motivated anti-gun crusaders do not crusade against drunk driving. Could it be that there is the answer to this question lies in vastly different view of what is a good society? I suspect, without being able t demonstrate it that the category “gun control advocate” overlaps much with the categories “collectivists” and “statist.” I also suspect I cannot convince you for that reason. We are not really discussing gun control but, at bottom the benevolence of government.

I agree with your closing remark. Of course, there is no way Europe can be a model for the US. For one thing, it will soon be little more than a melancholy graveyard because of its poor fertility. My, my, my, what a bitchy way to end! High-Five!

I think a better option than toughening up our drunk driving laws would be to simply privatize the roads, but other than that all I can say is: High-Five!

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