In light of the recent shootings, I suppose I have a duty to provide some gun control commentary.
A poster on the libertarian Reddit boards had this to say:
I will make the concession that restricting access to guns in a society that is already brimming with guns is ridiculously stupid. It’s too late in the US to start taking them away – there are too many guns that banning them would create an enormous black market.
I know all the common Libertarian arguments against gun control. But on a philosophical level, I reject the notion that “an armed society is a polite society.” Do you really think that a society in which there were NO guns would be safer than what we have today in many parts of America?
Do you really think it’s necessary to own a machine that exists for the sole purpose of putting holes in human beings?
The statistics simply do not lie: gun crime is a much, much bigger problem in the US than it is in other places where the vast majority of people don’t have access to guns. Of course you’ll point to Switzerland, but they also don’t have the socioeconomic issues that we have in the US.
Obviously there is a disconnect between the kind of world the majority of us would like to live in, and the actual world that we do live in. I’m sure if most people were given the choice of magically teleporting themselves into world where violence was impossible, they would do it. Of course, if they stopped to think about it for more than a few seconds, they would realize that such a world would always be in a state of peaceful anarchy. No one could ever stop someone else from engaging in consensual behaviors through the use of violence, and taxing people would be impossible. That said, we do live in a physical world that is pervaded by scarcity, and with that comes the possibility of violence.
It’s important to remember that guns are inanimate objects. Guns are tools that extend mankind’s capabilities. They allow for the projection of our inner desires on to this world of form. If people wish to project harm on to others, the most economical way to do so is through the barrel of a gun. Likewise, if people wish to defend their physical bodies and possessions from violent aggression, the gun is one of the best tools to do so.
Wishing that things were different is all fine and good, but we must face reality when it comes to dealing with guns. I think one of the most overlooked attributes of the gun is its ability to equalize force between individuals of disparate physical strength. A 200 lbs male rapist is going to think twice before tangles with a 100 lbs armed female. In a world without guns, the strongest would have total dominance over the weak, as it was for most of human history. Such a situation would not be a step forward for humanity, but rather a step back.
The pervasive violent culture that we live in is a temporary blip in human history. Banning or restricting guns isn’t going to solve the problems of murder and violence. In China, where guns are harder to come by, mass murders take place using bladed weapons. Recently a man in China stabbed 22 children and an adult. Two years prior to that incident, another man stabbed 28 children in a nursery school attack. To solve the problems of mass murder, the underlying problems with the human ego must be addressed. Restricting weapons isn’t going to change a person’s violent tendencies or somehow make them less dangerous to society.
Humans are really good at assigning blame to everyone but themselves. They like to blame politicians, inanimate objects, business executives or anyone else who seems like they might have had the power to do something about any particular “problem” that arises in their life. Mass murders, along with all other violent crimes, occur because of a confluence of events that create a person capable of committing such atrocities. How does a murderer come to be in the first place? Does anyone honestly think gun laws will prevent a murderous rage?
The truth of the matter is that all of us play a role in every violent event that takes place in this world. Individuals shape the world we live in. Individuals shape the culture of our society. Individuals promote an attachment to the material world that is so powerful it drives people to commit acts of violence. Gun laws are just another means of avoiding personal responsibility. “It’s the state’s responsibility, not mine! I didn’t create that murderer! And even if I did, it’s not my responsibility to stop him! The state should have stopped him, and it should have prevented him from getting a gun to commit his violent acts!” – How ridiculous does that sound? What is the state? It’s nothing more than a group of individual human beings, all of whom have the same faults as the rest of us.
Now that I’ve made my emotional and metaphysical arguments against gun control, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t also include all of the purely logical arguments against it as well. In my opinion, there is no other person more knowledgeable on the subject of gun control than economist John Lott, who has spent a large part of his life studying this issue. If you’re still up in the air about gun control, take the time to listen to his lecture on the subject.
John Lott speaks at the 18th annual Doctors for Disaster Preparedness conference, San Francisco, CA. July 2000: