Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gun control

Jason Alexander posted an essay on TwitLonger in response to yesterday's mass shooting in Colorado. Among his concerns was the hyperbolic tone of those who disagreed with him. (I don't blame him. I've spent a WHOLE lot of time around gun-rights advocates, and many of them really are alarmingly immoderate in tone, not to mention embarrassingly simple-minded in analysis. And I say that even though I mostly agree with them in substance.) So I whipped off a partial reply that I hope he will think sufficiently thoughtful and respectful to be worth reading. I think he's a person who can be reasoned with.


It obviously has nothing to do with poker, and it is hardly a comprehensive or rigorous argument, but if you want to read the points that I dashed off quickly, it's here:




Addendum:

Jason Alexander read my reply. (How great a tool is Twitter, anyway?!) He retweeted it, then said, "Thanks4 your tone & information &thoughts. Complex subject but it is this kind of exchange that makes change. best wishes."

It pleases me greatly that I accomplished exactly what I had hoped to, which was to show him (and his many, many Twitter followers) that there is a non-crazy basis for holding a public policy position that he had come close to ruling out of decent society, and to do so without rancor. I'm sure I didn't change his mind, but if I taught him a few facts that he didn't previously know, and got him to make room in his mind for the possibility that an opposite conclusion could be a reasonable one, well, that counts for something, and it was well worth the 30 minutes or so it took me to produce it.


Addendum 2

I just reread the Eugene Volokh article that I referenced in my piece, and noticed that among the people he thanks for assistance is one "David Sklansky." There can't be that many people with that name. Does anybody know why the guy I know for poker writing would have been involved in helping research an academic article on constitutional law circa 1998?


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great response, but someone much smarter than me put together this tweet-friendly anser:

If gun bans work, why don't we just ban criminals instead?

Anonymous said...

Chicago has had a ban on guns for decades -- all guns. So what city has the highest murder rate, mostly from gun violence?

Chicago. Gun bans work great.

There are some who call me... Tim said...

Oh my gosh - reasonable discourse on gun control?!? INCONCEIVABLE!

But then, I just read it, so I must not think that word means was it means....

{of course, then I read the simplistic non-arguments of comments 1&2, and felt a much more traditional gun control discussion was in hand}

Rakewell said...

In 1999, just after the Columbine shootings, I wrote an op-ed in the St. Paul, MN, paper, which caught the attention of the local NPR affiliate. They invited me on the next day as the sole guest on their daily public-affairs program. When it was over, the host told me, "That was the most calm, rational discussion of gun control I've ever heard." I remain very proud of that.

Mike h said...

I'm originally from the UK where gun control is very strict and works (mostly). You can still obtain guns and the fact that people can still get hold of them is proof that strict gun control doesn't work totally. When living in London I knew exactly where I could go and rent a gun (illegally). and it cost twice as much if it was returned used....

The biggest problem the USA would have in bringing in more gun control is how to stop the use of the guns already in circulation. That would be impossible. Plus there would be some big chunk of irony with the US Government being the largest arms supplier in the world turning around and telling its citizens that they are banning the use of guns. Not that being hypocrits would be a step into the unknown for the Government..

I don't have an answer. Maybe the best route is for society and peer pressure to show its disgust at the use of weapons for such hideous crimes. I'm not sure that can be organised - or if it was then how do we then stop political groups fighting over claiming credit for such a reaction...

The Neophyte said...

Unfortunately you cannot ban nuts who feel they have to shoot people to make some point. It happens here, it happens in Norway and Sweden and Canada where gun control is much stricter. The fact the shooter had an AR 15 means relatively little to me. He also used a Glock handgun and a shotgun as well. For damage the shotgun probably did more to people, especially at short range inside an enclosed area. If some clown wants to shoot up a movie theater there are numerous weapons he can use that are not "assault weapons" and do as much damage. Hell the Va Tech shooter didn't have an assault weapon and he killed a lot more people. Instead of outlawing "guns designed to kill people" we would be better served by keeping tighter regulations on who can buy guns. Even then a guy like Holmes would slip through the cracks. No criminal record, no mental health issues, etc. I am more worried by the Tampa tow company owner who was recently convicted of manslaughter and had a weapon when he shouldn't have been allowed to own a gun but his numerous aliases apparently foiled the system.

Wolynski said...

And to think people are so rude to me about my smoking - second-hand smoke kills, they say. Not reliably, I answer.

Mike Heffner said...

This was quite impressive. I also read Jason Alexander's tweet and was pleasantly surprised by how sharp it was. Excellent response. It's a shame more public discourse and discussion can't be accomplished this way.

Gary said...

Well done for a reasoned discourse on a very thorny issue. I pride myself on approaching this matter from both sides, as both sides are utterly responsible for not only the lack of civility but also the lack of substance in the arguments. My recent comments on "the gun argument," albeit before this most recent tragedy, went thus:

"I fucking hate the game each side plays with firearms. The left imposes stupid rules, like mag capacities and waiting periods (at one point a good idea but with computers, now obsolete), and the right throws up ridiculous arguments against laws designed to increase safety, like trigger locks, background checks, and other common-sense laws. I believe the NRA does its members a great disservice by being so intractable concerning any legislation along those lines, and I think Progressives overreach when they try to ban things like large-cap mags and certain weapons for no other reason than they look menacing. If both sides would just calm down and (God forbid) take a common-sense approach, none of this would be an issue. But then the NRA would be irrelevant, so it has to foment a paranoia in its members about upcoming assaults on the 2nd amendment. And the anti-gun lobby has to do ITS thing. Meanwhile, no actual governance takes place. It's enough to make a man sick."

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have a policy of approving all Anonymous commenters (that aren't blatant spam) but I lolled at the first two.

1. "If gun bans work, why don't we just ban criminals instead?" This is the kind of red herring which derails public discourse. Criminals are already banned; removing gun bans just because they don't fully work makes no more sense than decriminalizing murder because laws don't fully work. The "tweet-friendly" part makes it extra funny - after Grump went the extra two miles to applaud Jason Alexander and write his own extended post, it's considered a good thing that you can boil down your thoughts on a 230-year-old debate down to 140 characters?

2. "Chicago has had a ban on guns for decades -- all guns. So what city has the highest murder rate, mostly from gun violence? Chicago." (a) Chicago no longer has a gun ban (it was declared unconstitutional in 2010), and (b) Chicago doesn't have even close to the highest murder rate (a simple Wikipedia search brings up Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwalkee, New Orleans, Newark, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Stockton, and Washington D.C., the highest of which is over three times what Chicago's is - e.g., it's not even close).