Response to a Brit on Gun Control

Over on a Social Media net I responded to someone who talked about how you have to have licenses to buy cars and have the cars licensed.  I pointed out the specific cases where such licenses are necessary:  to operate, and only to operate, the vehicle on public thoroughfares.  Want to buy a Formula One racer and drive it on your own property, or someone else’s private property with their permission.  No license required.  Want to buy a Main Battle Tank (demilled since we’re talking the “car” part not the “gun” part) and do the same?  Go for it.  Want to build your own super delux mega awesome monster power car?  As long as it’s on private property, you’re golden.

In his response I found out he was a Brit.  He said that motor vehicle regulations differed between there and here and then went on about dead kids and the old “if it saves one life” canard.  My reply (slightly edited–edits shown in italics):

“I guess motor vehicle regulations differ significantly between here and there.” Which is yet another way you demonstrate that you are used to being subjects, taking orders from your “betters” than self-directed citizens.

It would take more than 5000 years of murders for people using privately owned firearms to kill as many as governments have killed their own people in the last century. I’m not willing to bet that we will go 5000 years without the need for armed revolt against a government willing to do that again.  5000 years historically takes us from centuries before the pyramids were built to today and all the changes that have happened between.

We got the idea of an armed citizenry from Great Britain, an idea that still had power when George Orwell said: “That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

You’ve abandoned that principle, to your cost. We haven’t.

And we didn’t become the world’s only remaining superpower by copying everybody else.

As for your emotional rant about dead kids (wave that bloody shirt!) what about the people who come home safely because they were able to defend themselves effectively because they were armed? Department of Justice figures show that 83% of people in the US can be expected to experience at least one attempted or completed violent felony in their life (defined for purposes of the study as age 15-70). The vast majority of those felonies (murder, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault) aren’t committed with firearms. It’s not the guns that’s the problem. 83% and about half of those crimes will be completed, not just attempted.  Another study using DOJ statistics shows that in the vast majority of cases resisting reduces the chance of injury from the crime over the “compliance” that is so popular to advocate. Armed resistance works better. Armed resistance with a firearm works best. There was one form of resistance that increased chance of injury–unarmed resistance against an armed opponent (sorry martial arts proponents you’re really better off with a weapon, preferably a gun).

Numerous people have studied the use of firearms in defense against crime. In serious studies, the lowball estimate is about 800,000 times per year. The high end is 2.5 million. Most studies run between about 1 and 1.5 million. Even with the low estimate guns are used about as often to defend against crime as used to commit crimes. The “middle”, where most studies fall, guns are used about twice as often to defend against crime as used to commit crimes. Oh, people will point to the low number of “justifiable homicides” to try to rebut that but the goal of the defender is _not_ to kill the criminal but to stop the attack. If the criminal becoming aware that the putative victim is armed causes them to back away, crime stopped. Successful gun defense. If a shot is fired and misses but the criminal runs away. Successful gun defense. If criminal is wounded and rendered unable to complete the crime but survives. Successful gun defense. Any result which leads to the victim going home safely is a successful defense. Most of them never get reported to the police (which is the reason for the wide range of results from the studies).

So, while vents like those in Florida are horrible, there are many other events that don’t make headlines. Apparently you’re willing to trade my daughter being found dead in an alley, strangled with her own stockings, a rapists semen dribbling down her thigh instead of alive and explaining to the nice police officer how the rapist got several .45 caliber holes in him.

One of my favorite economists, Frederic Bastiat talked a lot about “the seen and the unseen”. He was talking in an economic context but the principle applies elsewhere as well. You see this misuse of guns because it makes headlines. The other side, the husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sweethearts, sons, and daughters alive and unmolested because they were armed don’t make headlines. They remain the unseen flip side.

Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between the two, dead school-kids and my daughter and the many others who are or might be victims of crime that don’t make national and international headlines. There are approaches to address the problem of violent assholes like the guy in Florida (refuse to name him) without stripping those fathers, mothers, et al of the means to defend themselves. But they don’t serve the real purposes of the people advocating “gun control” so they won’t be applied. Better to wave bloody shirts to push policies that won’t solve the problem they’re presented for but will serve other unspoken (because unspeakable) ends.

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