Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gun control: Politics without reason

In 2000, Jews For the Preservation of Firearms Ownership posted an article by Dr. Sarah Thomson which explained in psychological terms exactly how gun control advocates shield themselves from reality. When I read this, I thought it was an interesting idea, but it seemed a little extreme to say that the bulk of gun control advocates feel the way they do not merely because of ignorance, but because of complete irrationally.

My experiences with antigun nuts since then, and a bit of thought, have made me realize just how nutty these people really are. For example, one time when a libertarian friend and I were doing outreach at my college, two obnoxious socialists started trying to talk us into corners on a variety of issues. They would not address any of our rebuttals with anything more than a derisive "interesting" or "I see" and quickly fired off more questions. When they randomly got to September 11 and we explained how armed passengers or pilots could have prevented the tragedy, one of them asked something like "What happens if people just start shooting in the air around the plane?" to which my friend replied "I don't think people are that retarded." I sat there wondering if maybe these guys were.

Amusing anecdotes aside, such comments are typical in the gun control debate. Too often, claims are made that armed passengers or pilots would shoot each other over minor disputes and bring down the plane in doing so, or that guns are too complicated for anyone not trained by the government to use. Of course, these claims are ludicrous.

1. Armed people interact on a daily basis without shooting each other. I am one of the estimated 80 million gun owners in the United States. Sure, people anger me sometimes, but that does not mean I (or over 99.9% of gun owners) want to shoot them over it.

2. Large commercial aircraft would not be destroyed by a few holes in the fuselage. Even if cabin depressurization occurred, this would only rip the airplane apart if it happened to be in a movie at the time. Passengers and staff who wished to carry firearms aboard planes would probably be restricted to frangible ammunition that would not penetrate the fuselage anyway, but even if someone were to break the rules, a huge catastrophe would not result.

3. Firearms are not very complicated to use with a little bit of training, which can be received at courses offered all over the country. It is especially silly that antigun nuts would trust their lives to a pilot's ability to fly a complex aircraft, but would not trust him to be able to possess a simple handgun without randomly killing someone.

Of course, none of this is groundbreaking to seasoned defenders of the right to keep and bear arms. Such people are used to hearing the hysteria and misperceptions of hoplophobes. But is such hysteria the result of mere ignorance, or of irrationality?

When the arguments in favor of gun control are examined for their underlying premises, all that can be found are ridiculous ideas that would be funny if they weren't so widespread. We will first examine the above example a little more.

1. Could someone reasonably be ignorant of the fact that most gun owners do NOT shoot people over disagreements? You could say hoplophobes might not realize just how many gun owners are in America, but they must know that there are a lot of them. America is, after all, that scar on the face of otherwise gun-free Western Civilization. I would submit that gun control advocates are just not thinking rationally about the world around them.

2. Perhaps it is ignorance fueled in part by Hollywood that leads people to believe that airplanes will be ripped apart by depressurization resulting from small arms fire. But is it rational to actually believe that airplanes are this fragile? I would not say so. How are these machines able to fly if they fall apart so easily? And who would travel on them?

3. I will accept that a person who has never used a firearm might rationally believe that they are complicated to use (although it is still a bit outrageous to think so). However, this relates to a premise commonly found in the gun control debate, and in debates involving libertarianism in general. This premise holds that government agents are somehow mentally and perhaps physically superior to common citizens.

This premise is also ridiculously irrational. Government workers are merely individuals who happen to work for a certain employer. Their badges do not make them any more capable of making life or death decisions than the individuals in the seats next to them. Are they better trained? Maybe in some cases, but is a cop who passed a pistol certification course ten years ago and then requalifies annually really more capable of using firearms than a jewelry store owner who practices at the range almost every weekend? I would not expect this to be the case. This is obviously not meant to bash police officers, but to bash the mentality of always depending on them to save us.

We see the belief in the superiority of government officials throughout the arguments of gun control advocates. "What could a private citizen need an assault rifle for?" they ask. Well, what do government agents need them for? To engage multiple targets in a gunfight. Sometimes private citizens need to do this. Why should a person be denied the chance to defend himself with the best weapon he can afford (or to defend himself at all, depending on what the specific debate is) simply because he is a privately-trained or self-trained shop owner and not a government-trained police officer? (Of course, taxpayers buy guns for the government, and a lot of gunfights result from inhuman government policies, but don't even get me started on this.)

Much more here

Texas: Clerk Turns Tables On Would-Be Robber: "Dallas police say a store clerk came face to face with a [black] would-be robber, but this time it's the suspect that ended up in the hospital. On Wednesday police say a man came into the store at 4 a.m. and found that clerk Benny Brown was more than a match for him. Police say what Brown did was defend himself when he saw the suspect with a semi-automatic handgun. Brown took a gun, that's left at the store, and fired it three times. The suspect staggered away from the store empty handed and hours later a man, matching the suspect's description, showed up at Parkland Hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. "Parkland Hospital called us regarding this gunshot victim," explained Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse with the Dallas Police Department. "We're not sure if he had been in the hospital that entire time or if he tried to tend to his own wounds." The suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Christopher Marquis Wade. Wade, who was listed in fair condition at Parkland, will be charged with aggravated robbery. According to police reports Brown had seen the suspect several times in the past. He told authorities that when the man showed up at the store today it seemed 'suspicious'."

Another Texas clerk shoots at would-be robber: "A Bosque County store clerk refused to be a crime victim for a second time in less than a year by shooting at a masked man who tried to rob him Tuesday morning. No customers were in the Lake Stop Store at 340 State Highway 22 in Laguna Park at 10:16 a.m. when a man wearing a mask entered, said owner Balbar Deo, who wasn't at the store at the time of the attempted robbery. The masked man was carrying an unknown weapon under his jacket, according to a Bosque County Sheriff's Department press release. When the clerk saw this, he reached under the counter and pulled out a .22-caliber gun and shot twice at the would-be robber. The store clerk, in his mid-30s, left early because he wasn't feeling well, Deo said Tuesday afternoon. Deo said the clerk had been robbed and badly beaten at the store last summer. But Tuesday, the would-be robber fled the store after the clerk fired. The man drove away in a silver vehicle, according to the sheriff's department. A vehicle matching that description was stopped later that day by deputies in Hill County. Officers arrested Stafford L. Jones [above], of Waco, in the case. Jones, 28, confessed to the attempted robbery and told deputies he had been grazed by the clerk's bullets, the release stated. He was treated at Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Clifton, then booked into the Bosque County Jail on a robbery charge, the release stated."

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