moldybluecheesecurds 2

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Democracy and guns in the blogosphere

Note to self: want site traffic, post gun control screed. I did some off-the-cuff research on gun issues before that post and landed on a couple other blogs where gun control people go to die. At any rate, their readers came over to talk and the comments show the results:
  • I had my ass handed to me on the Brady Bill. Note to self, do not link to advocacy site for "data."
  • These guys are smart. They've read the research and have cogent things to say. When you are debating survey methodology, you are beyond a shouting match.
  • It made me think. Here's what one commenter had to say:
  • CRIME is the problem, not crime with guns. And the causes of crime are social, cultural and (probably mostly) economic. Treating one of the symptoms—gun crime—as the main problem is clearly the wrong approach.
Okay, so where does that leave me? First off, I need to do my homework. The internet is large and so there's a good chance someone on the "other side" did their homework.

Second, there's evidence in both directions. Some surveys show that gun ownership is higher in states with higher suicide rates and that gun suicide rates are higher in these states. And yet, countries with much tougher gun laws have compelling evidence that restrictive gun laws don't necessarily stop people from committing crimes with guns.

Third, the Second Amendment thing complicates the issue. I still firmly hold to the existing Supreme Court interpretation of the amendment, which to my understanding does not support the kind of individualized gun rights often advocated by groups like the NRA. However, neither does the 2nd Amendment preclude "conceal and carry." In other words, even if we all read the amendment as I'd like to, it doesn't really change the ground game (a gun control advocate can't argue that it's a right to carry a gun, but I can't argue that it's constitutionally prohibited).

Maybe we're left in the middle (like most good American public policy). You can own a gun, but we have restrictions and background checks. You can carry it in public, but are held responsible for the damage caused by it. You can demand more freedom to carry a gun and I can demand more no-gun areas.

In some ways, given the evidence, we're at the level of perception. I perceive that I am safer when I feel that nobody's packing than when anyone is. Others clearly feel either indifferent or the reverse - that they are safer being able to, or that we're generally safer. Of course, some feel it's a right, so who gives a hoot how anyone feels about it (much as I feel about speech).

How's that for equivocation?


Anonymous said...

You end your post in a false dichotomy: there will never be a time when either no one is packing or everyone is. My view is to look at who the laws will affect, and decide from there.

Gun control will make law-abiding people less likely to carry guns, and it will raise awareness of the risks of owning a gun. These risks are the key: I view accidental firings as the key issue here. If a criminal needs a gun, he or she will likely be able to acquire one. *shrug*

I'd like to equate this with our system of driver's licenses, but that system is broken. My grandmother admits that she shouldn't be allowed to drive (and she typically doesn't), yet it's trivial for her to get her license renewed. Poor driving, poor gun ownership skills... these are areas where one's freedom can conflict with public health. A bit of regulation can go a long way in these cases...


thirdpower said...

Thank you for the compliment. We have to do our homework because of groups like the Brady Campaign and the VPC intentionally misleading the public. If you go over to the BC website blog, you'll see thier president being taken to task for the many mistatements he makes. Most gun owners respect basic provisions for safety purposes (background checks, no felons, etc) but resist more restrictions because these restrictions have been used to deny those who haven't committed crimes and have confiscated firearms, as much as the BC says they oppose that.

Interestinly enough, the entire SCOTUS arguement on "individual v collective" rights is based on the US v Miller decision which had no defendant present and was historically innacurate. The DOJ recently did a paper showing the historical analysis of the 2nd as an individual right.

Guav said...

It's always a pleasure to discuss the topic with a rational person who can concede a point or two if the situation warrants it. Thank you for being that person.

In regards to what you wrote about the 2nd Amendment, why wouldn't it refer to individual rights? Does the 1st Amendment refer to an individual right when it refers to "the people?" Does the 4th Amendment refer to an individual right when it refers to "the people?" Does the 10th Amendment refer to an individual right when it refers to "the people?" Of course they are referring to individual rights—so why is the 2nd Amendment any different? There is plenty of evidence to show that the founding fathers intended individuals to have this right.

"I perceive that I am safer when I feel that nobody's packing."

But there's an excellent chance that you've never even been in such a situation in public—almost every state now allows citizens to carry concealed firearms, and of course, the criminals in our midst are rarely unarmed. So I believe you perceive that you feel safer when you THINK nobody is packing. Whether they really are packing or not is a different story. What's really more important: the perception of safety, or the reality of safety?

"I can demand more no-gun areas."

But why would you? Who will that prevent from carrying? Only law-abiding gun owners, who are not prone to murder and mayhem. Haven't you noticed that every recent public shooting has occurred in a "Gun-Free Zone"? VA Tech was a Gun-Free Zone. How do Gun-Free Zones make you safer from someone with ill intent?

Gun-Free Zones, like Drug-Free School Zones, do not actually exist. They are concepts—they are signs we put up to make us feel warm and fuzzy. But are we really expected to believe that people do not bring guns or drugs into them?

Unless Gun-Free Zones are ringed with a razor wire fence and you have to go through a security checkpoint and body search to get into them, there's no such thing.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. As a gun nut myself, I do enjoy a rational debate. Thanks for the reasonable discourse.

Xrlq said...

"I still firmly hold to the existing Supreme Court interpretation of the amendment, which to my understanding does not support the kind of individualized gun rights often advocated by groups like the NRA."

The "existing Supreme Court interpretation" to which you refer does not exist. Contrary to BC propaganda, the Supreme Court has never endorsed the "collective rights" theory, though most circuits have. In U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, they made it pretty clear that if the Second Amendment is a phony "collective right" no individual has standing to assert, so are the First Amendment, the Fourth, and every other amendment that references "the people" generally rather than individuals specifically. Be careful what you wish for.

Sebastian-PGP said...

Moldy Blue,
We do commend you for at least being willing to admit you'd made some booboos. We don't see many folks on the other side of the fence willing to do as much. Maybe this'll prompt some much needed dialogue with antis willing to concede the policy points we pro gunners have right.

I still have to take you to task on a few things...

Kevin said...

I'll echo Xlrq on the Supreme Court comment. If you'd like to inform yourself on that topic, I strongly recommend you read the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in U.S. v. Emerson from 2001. The court in that case does a very thorough "original meaning" study of the Second Amendment with particular attention being paid to the 1939 U.S. v Miller Supreme Court case that subsequent Appeals Courts (mis)interpreted (I think deliberately). It is actually quite readable, and will help you understand the topic much better.