April 28th, 2007

Another take on guns

I think what people are concerned about is not being threatened with violence. Guns are a good tool for threatening people with violence, but do have other purposes as described in my previous post such as hunting, defense, and as tools to use in the art of sharpshooting, as several people pointed out to me.

Would eliminating guns eliminate violence? The safety record of British soccer matches suggests otherwise.

My conjecture is that the underlying values of our society have decayed to the point where issues that should ordinarily be trivial, such as who has access to what kinds of tools (including guns), have to be the subject of policy. I have a strong prejudice against policy; I think policy should only be made where there's no real feasible alternative to doing so.

My own iconic experience dealing with weapons was of getting on a bus in Jerusalem in 1979. Two stops later, a guy carrying an M60 machine gun got on the bus, sat down across from me, and started reading a book. A dozen or so stops later, he got off, still with machine gun and book. Just a soldier with the tools of his trade on his way to work. I was in Israel for ten months at that time, and saw a total of one violent encounter, in which a man put down a carbine to take a punch at another man. I like the attitude towards weapons that this demonstrated; while he wanted to indicate his strong displeasure to the other man, using tools to do injury was inappropriate.

To those who are arguing about the Second Amendment on this subject: When the constitution was written, a muzzle-loading single-shot musket was the height of military technology, and a bunch of men with such muskets were the most effective military force one could have. An armed populace *was* an army. This no longer applies; I notice a shortage of main battle tanks and attack helicopters in my neighbor's garages, and I doubt any of them would be able to fly a chopper or drive a tank if they had one. I think we have to argue from the perspective of what kind of society would we like to live in, and what rules can we make that will promote that kind of way of living. We haven't gotten near being detailed enough to make decisions about what constitutes a weapon and under what circumstances who should be allowed to carry one; I think we have to start with more fundamental questions like what is a society, why do we want one, and how do we tell if we've got it?

best,

Joel

Red Herrings

So I'd posted twice on the gun-rights thread. I don't own a gun, or have issues about owning one -- so why should I care?

I can't come up with a reason. I do think all of the major institutions in the country have gone completely off the rails, but they did that years ago and show minimal signs of considering a hypothetical return to hypothetical sanity. So I should focus on my own life and see what I can get accomplished right here, which may make particular sense to any of you familiar with C. S. Lewis's "sausage machine" analogy.