Ethics Alarms’ eccentric philosopher Michael Ejercito, who excels in asking provocative questions, ends his Comment of the Day regarding the attack on gun ownership with the query, “Why do people use such discredited arguments?”
There’s certainly a lot of discredited arguments in the air. A writer named Michael Pusitan wrote a risible post (inspiring a very funny Animal House referenced take-town by the Instapundit) about getting rid of his guns, ending with this passage:
Last week, I sat in a hotel room and watched the President talk about the latest mass shooting and how they had become routine and the concern that nothing would change. I started to shrug it off and pretend in my mind that there was nothing I could do. But the idea that gun culture doesn’t bear some responsibility for these killings didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore.
I was never going to use these guns for self-defense, they were safely locked and out of reach. I don’t hunt. I don’t shoot clays. There are no dangerous animals where I live. There are no zombies. I’m not a police officer or soldier. I am not part of a well regulated militia. There’s no reason for me to have them.
So I got rid of them. Firearms are no longer a hobby of mine.
This well-exposes the logical disconnect of virtually all the “WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!” rants from political exploiters of the recent shootings, where the tragedy is used to insist on measures that will have no effect on preventing the tragedies at issue. Pusitan getting rid of his guns is grandstanding, that’s all. His action won’t save a single life, and if he snapped and decided to go shoot up a church he’d still be able to buy the guns to do it. Meanwhile, the statement “I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore” is pure, distilled ignorance. It’s not the gun culture, you fool, it’s the culture, and unless you want to book a slow boat to China, you’re part of it whether you like it or not, because you live here, and derive the good and the bad from the uniquely vital and productive individual initiative and freedom-based culture that is the United States of America.
(Instapundit’s joke quotes Otter: THESE TIMES CALL FOR A REALLY STUPID, FUTILE GESTURE. And he’s just the guy who can do it.)
The answers to Michael’s question are many: because they don’t know what they are talking about, because they have no good, honest proposals, just bad, dishonest ones, because they are preaching to the choir and not really interested in changing anyone’s mind, because the whole debate is framed by emotion, not facts.
Here is Michael Ejercito‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Continued)”
A column from George Skelton on this issue, and my response.
It is really quite simple: Guns are designed for killing. The more guns there are, the more people get killed. That’s not just simple logic. It’s simple fact.
The same thing have been argued with regards to alcohol- or black people.
And no other developed nation comes close to us in firearms fatalities. We’re at 10-plus per 100,000 people. One third are homicides, two thirds are suicides.
I wonder if George Skelton even heard that California has legalized assisted suicide. The state thus declared that suicide is a good thing.
No, it’s not necessarily true that if people didn’t kill themselves with guns, they’d do it with poison or rope or razors.
“Firearms are very easy to use,” says Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. “If you shoot yourself with the intent to kill, chances are 80% to 90% you will. Not many people mess that up. But use any other method and the chances of success go way down.”
Again, California, by law, declared suicide to be a good thing.
The gun death rate in France is 3 per 100,000 people. In Italy and Germany it’s 1-plus. In Britain, India and Japan, it’s way under 1.
No mention of Russia, Jamaica, South Africa, or Mexico. Of course, no mention of how those other countries grant much more leeway to their police regarding searches and seizures.
We have, of course, the 2nd Amendment. The Founders didn’t want to maintain a large standing army so they inserted this into the Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” A good copy editor would have deleted that third comma.
Last time I looked, we had a pretty robust standing army.
And yet, this standing army does not protect the American people from criminal gun violence.
Imagine that. Of course, Skelton here is completely dishonest about the history of the Second Amendment.
“We are unique in our regulatory approach,” Wintemute says. “We allow pretty much anybody to buy any firearm…. Our approach is permissive. In most other countries, their primary approach is restrictive. You can’t buy a firearm unless you show a need for it.”
In America, the government is supposed to be the party that has to justify their need to restrict the people’s rights, not the other way around.
Fortunately, California has good gun laws, perhaps the toughest in the nation. We ban the sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds. We have 10-day waiting periods with solid background checks. We require gun-handling tests, among other restrictions. But we’re vulnerable to other states on our border, where people can buy weapons willy-nilly at gun shows and cart them into California. Like Chicago, despite its tough gun controls, is vulnerable to downstate Illinois and Indiana. And Washington, D.C., is defenseless against Northern Virginia. That’s why we need a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines — so common in mass shootings — and universal background checks to try to weed out the criminals and crazies.
Similar arguments were used to justify taking Prohibition nationwide. We abandoned Prohibition for some reason. I wonder what it was.
We also need the Republican-controlled Congress to resume federal funding of gun-violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bowing to the National Rifle Assn., GOP lawmakers cut off the money two decades ago, claiming there was a hidden gun control agenda. Well, maybe such research would result in an acceptable partial cure to the killing epidemic.
Wintemute is an emergency room physician who was inspired to research gun violence after treating countless shooting victims. He used to receive CDC grants. When they ceased, he spent $1.2 million of his own money to continue his research.
An emergency room physician has as much expertise on this issue as the issue of the stricture of the core of neutron stars.
“This is not insoluble,” Wintemute says. “Americans don’t throw up their hands and walk away. They go find the answer. Americans are really good at that.”
George Skelton also neglects to mention that homicides are at an all-time low since 1993.
Seriously, why do people use such discredited arguments?