April 9, 2013

Pro-Gun Absolutism: or the move to privatize law and order

Always nice when a journalist echoes almost exactly what I said last December about this attack on our basic sense of community.  Take away the basic arguments about the second amendment, and replete through all the pro-gun rhetoric is this basic idea:  government can't (or won't) protect you, so you have to do it yourself.

This piece echoes that sentiment:

In the gun lobby’s dystopic view, Americans can no longer rely on government to keep them safe, so they have to do the job themselves. When everybody is armed and dangerous, the predators among us won’t be able to find any victims. Banning assault weapons and high-capacity clips is tantamount to unilateral disarmament, since it would leave law-abiding citizens outgunned in their confrontation with thugs and criminals.  
By this warped logic, it’s better to outsource public safety and law enforcement to private vigilantes than to curb public access to weapons of war. Conceived in paranoia, this mad project will make all of us more vulnerable to sociopaths with unlimited firepower. It would make America a less civilized country.
And this very good point that for the NRA, government is both all powerful and will take your guns, and equally powerless and incapable of law and order.
The NRA has a schizoid attitude toward government. In fundraising appeals to members, it fans fears that jackbooted feds are coming for your guns. In the political arena, it depicts government as pathetically weak, overwhelmed by the orgy of violent criminality and insanity engulfing our society.   

This, ultimately, is my biggest complaint with the gun culture argument.  I don't want to kill, and I don't want bars on my home.  I want to pay for police and good governance and good community that eases tensions and crime.  I understand that none of that guarantees that I won't be a crime victim (though me having a gun has no guarantee either).  As I have noted repeatedly, it is the height of cynicism to go out of your way to gut government programs and then claim that as a justification for self-arming.

Let's make this very clear.  The pro-gun lobby didn't used to make this their centerpiece, but every but of lobbying I have seen from that side suggests that Obama or some Diane Feinstein-led raid will join a UN raid to take away your guns. Or make you get healthcare.  I am not exactly sure which.  (And I can't reiterate enough that many of the people paranoid about government tyranny are crying foul because of getting healthcare to poor people.)

Steve suggested that I was naive about our system, and that I should not believe it works all the time.  I disagree with the charge of naivete and would suggest that I am probably more informed on the history of our country than he suggests--but at the end of the day, we are left with this suggestion that we should be planning for a potential armed revolution where we shoot at our fellow Americans in the Armed forces or Reserve--or at our community's cops, or at government agents (Americans) trying to enforce the law.

Smitty, in his fine Tyranny of the Lunatics, notes that this paranoid fantasy also disparages our military and military leadership:

Also, that fails to take into account that our troops are A) sworn to uphold the constitution; and 2) sworn to obey lawful orders.  So for your delusion to come true, that means American troops would have no problem at all firing on....other fellow Americans.  No.  That's just fucking stupid.
I want good government.  I want competent and trained police.  I am not trying to take away your gun, but don't tell me that my only choice for safety for my community and neighborhood and household is to buy an AR and hunker down.  Don't tell my neighbors that the only thing you will support to help secure their kids during the school day is to arm their teachers.  And don't tell me that people who constantly rant about tyranny are patriotic.


steves said...

I think that is somewhat of a stretch to say that people that want to be allowed to own guns = support for armed vigilantes. I think that most of these people (and I am not talking about the anti-gov't extremists) just believe that the police can't always be in a position to protect you.

I thought this was interesting:

"Of course an assault-weapons ban wouldn’t have stopped Adam Lanza. But don’t we have a responsibility to try to limit the carnage psychopaths can inflict? Is forcing them to stop and reload really a threat to American liberty?"

Then why does the president and some anti-gun people support an assault weapons ban? Makes my paranoia kick in and think that a ban has nothing to do with safety.

Streak said...

Again, if stopping Adam Lanza is the only standard, then we are doomed. That is starting to get really old. On one hand, we are told that the CT example shouldn't even inform our debate on guns. On the other hand, we hear this idea that whatever is suggested would not stop him.

No, it wouldn't have. I have said so many times--Seriously, Steve did you even read my post? " I understand that none of that guarantees that I won't be a crime victim (though me having a gun has no guarantee either). As I have noted repeatedly, it is the height of cynicism to go out of your way to gut government programs and then claim that as a justification for self-arming. "

I have to repeat myself often, it seems. No one is expecting a pure world where people don't kill other people in awful ways. Stop making that the standard.

But likewise, we can take steps that might make it harder for the next Adam Lanza to shoot up a school. Perhaps we will fail, but the fact that this individual response might not stop one future massacres--doesn't mean that it might not be worthwhile.

Your paranoia is part of the problem. As is your kneejerk assumption that only gun rights people care about what is right. some of us think that a well-crafted AW ban might actually work. As I said in one of my other comments, it is incredibly hard to talk with you when every possible or suggested restriction is automatically deemed ineffective by you.

Leaving us back to our only option is to arm ourselves and stop criticizing gun owners.

steves said...

Jiminy Christmas. I commented on a statement from the article that YOU posted. If you don't want me to comment on articles, then don't post them.

What would a well-crafted AWB look like? Wold it look like the 94 AWB? Would it look like the AWB that is in place in half a dozen states? If so, then they don't work. Possibly because so-called assault weapons are only involved in a handful (like less than 1%) of crimes.

Since we are talking about a right, then the burden is on the supporters of the ban to show a slightly higher standard than "it might work."

Streak said...

Hmm. So you don't read what I write and then get mad at me for objecting? I understand the sentence was in the article (did you actually read my comment back?), but the point was (as he made it as well) that the standard is not whether or not it would have stopped one individual shooter.

Actually, I think you know what a well-crafted AWB would look like. It would not focus on the cosmetic differences that the previous AWB did, but would focus on functionality.

Yes, a handful. Yes, only 20 or so children were killed. Yes.


steves said...

Yes, a handful, when we are talking about a relatively small number compared to the total. Should we use the word genocide?

Functionality would be an interesting take. The problem is that the things that make them good tools for self defense also make them good tools for murder. If we looked at how lethal something is then something like the AR, which fires a round that is used for varmint hunting and is marginal for deer, would not nearly be as lethal as grandpappy's M1 Garand, which fires a far more lethal round. Granted the M1 uses 8 round clips, but even with minimal training, a person can reload them pretty fast.

Streak said...

Of course not. My point was merely that when you minimize these deaths, you suggest that there is an acceptable number of dead children or passerbys that is an acceptable loss.

Again, when you use the word "right" I am confused. Do you have a right to as large of a magazine as you want? Is there a constitutional right to not have to reload? Is there a constitutional right to have a specific style of weapon?

Streak said...

BTW, I am not saying you are arguing that we will tolerate a certain number of dead kids. I understand that part of your argument is that these types of bans won't save any kids because they won't work. I am not completely sure I agree, but I understand that is your argument.

steves said...

No, there is a constitutional right to not have that right infringed upon.

What other infringements are you comfortable with? Despite the fact that parents murder just as many children in this country in one week than were killed in Newtown, we have very serious due process rules set in place before we remove children and a legal presumption that children are better off with their own parents. Maybe it is time to change that.

I am just saying that we need to have some level of caution before we tamper with a right and there needs to be more than, "shucks, maybe this might work."

Streak said...

So you are saying there is a constitutional right to not have to reload? Or to have a certain style of gun?

I am not sure I follow.

Streak said...

And by the way, I understand that kids die for other reasons. I think it is a little flip to say that because parents do kill their kids, this event means nothing.

Now perhaps it is reasonable to say that reducing access to assault weapons won't stop this kind of attack, but it is very hard to say that we should do absolutely nothing to make a future Adam Lanza's road to that school, or mall, or church, or theater just a little harder. Expanding background checks seems like a no-brainer in that context--even if it wouldn't have stopped this particular shooter.

There is a part of me who likes what I read about the Swiss--and I could be wrong on this, so please don't yell at me--where they have a lot of people who own guns, but they limit the number of guns and limit even more the number that can be kept in the home.

There is something wrong in my mind with people collecting arsenals. No, I am not sure how stop that. I read one article that said if we tracked ammo sales, we would have noticed the Aurora shooter purchasing a lot of ammo. That might have tipped some more people to his intention.