from the mail bag.

Here’s an interesting comment left on my “Why the Gun is Civilization” essay this morning:

“Although you make a good argument for why reasonable people should have guns, you say nothing about unreasonable people with guns.
These are the people that gun control laws are targeting. Unfortunately, reasonable gun owners get caught in the crossfire. “

Well, Anonymous, here’s where you’re wrong: gun control laws don’t just target the unreasonable people, they target everyone.  The law doesn’t make exceptions for the reasonable folks.

There are over a hundred million functioning firearms in private hands in this country.  The percentage of these guns used for robbery and murder every year is very, very low–less than one half of one percent.  Gun control doesn’t just limit the people who would use their guns to rob and kill, but also the much larger percentage of gun owners who wouldn’t.  It’s collective punishment, and not even a particularly effective one at that. 

Gun control is like a principal ordering his teachers to put tape on the mouths of all the kids in the elementary school because one or two children out of a thousand can’t keep their mouths shut in class.  When the two kids in question simply pull off the tape and continue talking, the principal reacts by having the other kids’ mouths double-taped.

Unreasonable people are, well, unreasonable.  Anyone who ignores the laws against murder and robbery is not likely to obey the laws prohibiting them from owning guns, or magazines that hold more than ten rounds, and they’re not likely to give a damn about whether they’re allowed to own and carry their guns.  Collective punishment for the actions of a very small subset of a group is immoral, unjust, and ineffective.  It just causes resentment on the part of those unjustly punished.  It also doesn’t have the intended effect–if you’re punishing everyone, you’re not punishing the offender, because he’s no worse off than those who didn’t offend.

And on the subject of “getting caught in the crossfire”:

Isn’t it funny how the same people who are in favor of gun control laws that punish the 99.9% of good people to get at the 0.1% of bad apples work themselves into a rabid froth every time the military accidentally detains or kills a civilian who was mistaken for a terrorist?


11 thoughts on “from the mail bag.

  1. “…kids’ mouths double-taped”.

    VERY good analogy.

    “MORE TAPE”, sayeth the ruling powers…

  2. M. Philbrick says:


  3. MarkHB says:

    Amazing bit of synchronicity between you and Cory Doctorow today, Marko. I’ve cribbed the Duct Tape Image, with attribution, if that’s OK.

  4. angus lincoln says:

    That is a perfect application of the proverbial hammer to the proverbial head of the nail.
    and that amounts to another arrow in my quiver of anti gun medicine. Thanks Marko!

  5. Turk Turon says:

    Most sources say that there are about 270 million privately-owned firearms in the U.S. But that is based on an ATF survey done in the 1990’s, with sales of new guns added on each year, so it’s not very precise. But in a typical year
    there are about 30,000 deaths from gunshot wounds in the U.S. from all causes: homicide, suicide, accidents, law-enforcement, self-defense, etc. All of this in a population of 300 million people, so every year guns are associated with the deaths of one one-hundredth of one percent of the population.

    So that means that, if we were somehow able to “freeze” the population at 300 million, at this rate guns would kill everybody … in ten thousand years!

    Meanwhile, about 40% of Americans are said to own guns. So we’re going to disarm 40% of the population because of 0.01%?
    It doesn’t make sense.
    It doesn’t make sense as a crime-fighting tool, it doesn’t make sense as suicide-prevention and it doesn’t make sense as accident-prevention.
    And it ain’t gonna happen.

  6. perlhaqr says:

    Your point is sound, and your analogy is good, but it’s aimed at the wrong audience. We already agree with you. But the other team is generally composed of about the same proportion of reasonable, invisible people and highly visible whack-hats as we are. Those guys we laugh at and say “Boy, he’s not our best ambassador”, well, I get the feeling that’s the VPC and Brady Bunch. Most of the anti-gun people don’t want to take guns away from the reasonable people, so in a very real sense, Anonymous was correct when he said [Unreasonable people] are the people that gun control laws are targeting. Unfortunately, reasonable gun owners get caught in the crossfire.

    Ultimately, a lot of these people don’t care about guns. They’re afraid, and concerned for their safety, and the gun is an easy thing to focus on. You’ve made 90% of a great argument here, but (IMO) it’s lacking the key ingredient; A means to refocus their concern on something other than guns. (Which, frankly, should probably be on “the criminals”, but I can’t guarantee that’s completely the right solution either.)

  7. Very well put Perlhaqr.
    Speaking as an enthusiastic gun owner and collector, the last thing I want is to see more anti-gun legislation but we, as pro-gun people rarely do our selves any favors. Mostly, we stand behind the 2nd Ammenement and thumb our noses at the rest, foolishly thinking that we’re safe. The few times we do feel threatened, we do and say things that freaks the other side out. I’m thinking of “…cold, dead hands” here. Yah, it sounds good and makes the die hards cheer but in the long view, it undermines our efforts terribly.

    People are afraid and most of the folks who fear guns have no exposure to them except through popular media and supposition. Taking the “fear” out of firearms is one step that we ALL need to do if we want to keep our rights.

    Don’t think they can ever take that right away? You bet your ass they can. When fear is involved, 95% of the population will give up what ever they have to feel safer.

    So, find a friend who knows zero about guns, (a little afraid of them is even better) get out your .22 and take them shooting! We all know it’s fun. Now show the ones who are scared.

    -Turkish Prawn

  8. Blessed says:

    thanks for the good post – I think the comments about fear are right on target – I know several people who are simply afraid of guns so they support any bans and etc… on them without really thinking through the consequences of those laws.

    It’s up to us, the “reasonable” gun owners to educate them so that it will be easier to maintain our rights under the 2nd Ammendment

  9. sasu says:

    I highly recommend the book Cass R. Sunstein: Risk and Reason. The book is written in tense academic style, but it explains how and why people judge risks very poorly and make silly or downright dangerous decisions, both at personal and political level. The book is quite an eye opener.

  10. Larry says:

    If everyone is armed, that little unreasonableness problem will pretty much take care of itself.

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