thoughts on guns

I get annoyed by the US gun control debate for a few reasons:

1. No one cares until there is a mass shooting

Mass shootings are incredibly rare.  This honest piece counts 150 mass shooting since 1966 killing a total of 1,077 people. There are around 15,000 total murders in the US annually (mostly using guns), so in >50 years mass shootings have accounted for fewer deaths than normal murdering does in a month. By talking about gun control only right after mass shootings gun control advocates come off as shameless opportunists and also manage to accomplish nothing since by the next election everyone has forgotten about the issue.

2. The core conservative argument is terrible  

At some point in every gun control debate cycle conservatives have to actually make an argument as to why they think guns are very important. Guns, they say, are the main defense against tyranny. “The 2nd Amendment makes the Other 9 Possible”  is a typical way of stating the argument. Supposedly, the wise founding fathers knew that without a well armed citizenry, the evil federal government would simply enslave the entire population. Hitler, conservatives will eagerly point out, was kinda sorta a gun control advocate.  The problem with this argument is simply that if the federal government wanted to enslave us and got the military to go along then it could do so easily. Conservatives with their AR-15s are not going to be able to stand up to a helicopter gun ship, let alone a nuclear bomb. Our defense against tyranny is that the military has no interest in enslaving us. If politicians told the pentagon to subdue the US population by force, they would say no. Our deep cultural norms cultivated over centuries protect us, not our personal armories. The world when the US was founded was very different. Then, an armed populace made some sense. We had no standing military and militaries just weren’t that big or powerful back then. It was a poor world, and militaries take a ton of resources to maintain. Total world GDP in 1800 was basically on par with current US military spending! The main threat back then was not the theoretical tyranny of the US government. It was actual hostile foreign powers, like the native american nations, or the British, who burned our capital city to the ground not much later.

3. Gun control advocates advocate nonsense

After the Las Vegas massacre they advocated banning “bump stocks” which are devices to make semi-automatic rifles act more like fully automatic rifles. The were used in Las Vegas but usually mass shooters do fine with semi-auto guns. So banning them will have little if any effect on future mass shootings (let alone future murder in general).  Since the latest mass shooting the focus has turned to re-banning “assault weapons.” Those were banned from 1994-2004 but once the ban lapsed no one much cared to reinstate it. Assault weapons are basically a cosmetic category. They don’t include the majority of semi-automatic rifles or pistols that are all about equally capable of killing lots of people in short amounts of time.

So we are in this situation where one side doesn’t want to do anything based on dumb principles, and the other just wants to do something so at best they compromise and do something completely pointless. That’s how we end up with ethanol mandates!

On an optimistic note there is this proposal to require gun owners to carry liability insurance. If implemented properly I do think this could solve a lot of problems. For non-criminals who are responsible with their guns, the liability cost would probably be minuscule. The angry young men that tend to commit crimes with guns would be completely uninsurable risks. Private insurance companies could do a much better job of discriminating against the people we want to discriminate against than the law ever could.

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