My friend John C. Wright…

co-founder of the extremely exclusive Wright/Shea Mutual Admiration Society raises some objections to my somewhat cheekily titled post “Americans Suddenly Favor Limiting Right to Keep and Bear Arms“.  Quoting me saying “So what’s the basic difference between this and our own domestic debates? As near as I can tell, it boils down to acceptable losses.”, he offers a thoughtful reply:

2013/02/13 at 8:08 am

Friend, you are letting rhetoric usurp logic here. It does not boil down to ‘acceptable losses’ and no one who argues in favor of an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment has ever said it does.

Are you honestly unaware of what the arguments are in favor of a republic maintaining an armed citizenry? I am not asking if you agree with the arguments, merely if you are aware of what they are. If you are aware of such arguments, then answer them. Answer our arguments at their strongest point, if you think your argument can carry the day. But to pretend we say something we did not say, and to answer that instead, is what is called a ‘straw-man’ argument. It is a trick of rhetoric, not something a serious man does when pondering a question seriously.

Here are the arguments you have to address: First, an armed citizenry is the best guarantee of maintaining the liberty of a free people Second, even if this first consideration is secondary to the safety concerns which require some reasonable regulation of arms, the Congress has no authority to pass any such regulation. Third, even if state and local governments (who do possess that authority) wish to pass such laws, it must be done in a fashion which has the smallest possible effect on the legitimate ownership of arms by law-abiding citizens — this is a principle of the common law extending back to the Twelfth Century, namely that no law should be overbroad. Fourth, if a proposed law or regulation is found that places a minimal burden on lawful ownership of arms, whether the law will be efficient or inefficient? Both common sense and scientific studies show that areas with the most restrictive gun laws (Chicago, DC, LA) also have the highest rates of gun violence, whereas those with the least, have the least. See, for example, John Lott’s MORE GUNS LESS CRIME. Finally, the analogy between me, a law-abiding and honest citizen of a free country who has both the right and the duty to defend myself and my family from crime, assault, and tyranny, and the mad dictator who is himself one of the tyrants the whole point of civil society is meant to fight, and, with God’s help, abolish, is an analogy that looks at the shallowest possible surface phenomena and ignores the substance. Please resist the temptation to indulge in merely rhetorical scoring of points. Our current public discourse already suffers from far too much of this nonsense, and it generates emotion without addressing the logic.

Fair enough.  I often get the sense in these discussions that broadcast and reception happen on different wavelengths, so let me try to make clear here that I really do hear what is being said by folks like John and Dale Price and others.  I get the fear of the state and the conviction that an armed citizenry is harder for Caesar to push around.  I get that the second amendment, as currently read by the court makes tinkering with gun rights a dodgy legal problem.  I get that law tends to be a blunt instrument and that legislation in the states is an affair that risks harming innocents by taking away legitimate rights.  I get that there are people out there who really would like to confiscate all guns.  I get that the state gives worrying indications of morphing into a truly oppressive and potentially murderous police state.  I get the sense of frustration at being regarded as a criminal maniac by a goodly portion of the media when one is innocent of all wrongdoing or malicious intent.  I get the reality that people just want  to defend themselves and their loved ones from crime, assault and tyranny.  I want to make clear, since it seems I have failed to do so, that I hear and acknowledge and agree with all these concerns.  I want to make that clear, since so often it appears that people think I dismiss these concerns.

Where I have been unclear, it appears, is that I am not drawing any analogy between a law-abiding and honest citizen of a free country and a mad and evil dictator.  Rather, I am drawing an analogy between a mad and evil citizen of a free country and a mad and evil dictator.  I am not–at all–saying anything about the right of good people to own guns.

So–and this is crucial and must be emphasized and recalled throughout all I will say next: I am not suggesting–and in fact I oppose as unrealistic, impractical and counter-productive–the confiscation of guns.  This needs to be kept in mind because, in my experience, that seems to be what is instantly assumed when any mention is made, as I will make, of the Church’s teaching that the state has the right and obligation to regulate arms (CCC 2316).  I agree with the Church’s teaching here.

That said I am making a  few somewhat disconnected points.

My first point is that, for me at least, the gun debate needs to situated first in Church teaching, and only secondarily in Constitutional law, since the former participates in divine revelation, while the latter is wise, but ultimately human tradition and prudential judgment.  Recently, I had a reader declare that the second amendment was essentially “sacred tradition” and attempt to elevate it to the level of revelation.  This is profoundly mischievous and is exactly what Paul warns against when he tells the Colossians:

See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. (Col 2:8)

The tendency to elevate some piece of human wisdom or prudential judgment is with us always and one of the vital jobs of the Magisterium is to help us distinguish sacred from human tradition.  In the gun debates, and particularly with people like the reader who tried to claim the second amendment is equal to sacred tradition, it seems to me that what is happening is that one particular aspect of sacred tradition–the right to defend the innocent from harm–is being exaggerated in unhealthy ways at the expense of the rest of the tradition and correllative to this, assertions of the common good are taken as attacks on the right of self-defense and the gun rights that flow from it.

A number of things go unconsidered in that process.  The first is that, in the Catholic tradition, it’s not a slam dunk that *self* defense, much less self-defense with deadly force is an unalloyed good.  The Church’s long tradition of martyrs is sufficient witness to that fact.  We tend to want to imagine the martyrs have died because, despite efforts at self-defense, they were overpowered by the forces of evil and compelled to martyrdom.  But in fact, many martyrs have embraced the cross while eschewing both means of escape and self-defense–beginning with Jesus who could have called down twelve legions of angels. Augustine affirms the right to defend *others*, but is skeptical about defending ourselves.

Beyond that, of course, is the question of how defense is to happen.  The second amendment envisions guns  as the main recourse and this is certainly an obvious route.  But  we are now one step removed from the basic Church principle of the right to defend innocent life and into a prudential judgment about how best to do that.  The second amendment is therefore concerned simply with prudential judgment about a human tradition rooted in a single aspect of the Catholic tradition that can itself be debated to a degree.

Meanwhile, the question of the common good still weighs and the common good includes the problem of roughly three 9/11′s worth of murders each year, as well as woundings, cripplings, armed robberies and so forth (I leave to the side people who get shot by cops doing their duty, people legitimately defending themselves, etc.).  The point is, there’s a real problem and at least part of it has to do with people who should not have their hands on a gun having their hands on a gun.  Note, once again, that I am not talking about law-abiding people here.

As I noted before, I am, as a Catholic, committed to the truth that it is from the heart that sin and evil proceed.  I’m also fully on board with the truth that, apart from sin and evil, various pathologies can also move less culpable people to violence.  It may even be that the shooter at Sandy Hook was among these less culpable people, tormented by who knows what sort of demons and mental illnesses, not to mention a broken family.  I absolutely applaud and support the truth that sin, sickness, and evil must be addressed if we hope to curb gun violence and that that is where the lion’s share of the work of a civilization must be addressed if we hope to address the problem.

The problem is that an awful lot of rhetoric from people afraid of the state encroaching on the second amendment tends to veer toward saying things the Church does not say, such as the the suggestion that the state should have *no* role to play in regulating arms. (You clear-headedly acknowledge that states do have some role there, though what that looks like calls for caution.).  Others invoke a sort of mystical passivity and treat the matter of gun murders with nostrums about the mystery of evil, even gong so far as to repeat such canards as “You can’t outlaw evil”.  The obvious reply to this sort of antinomian worldview is that law has no other purpose than to limit evil, even if we can’t eliminate it (though, of course, sometimes law can eliminate evil, which is why there is no chattel slavery in the US anymore and the English slave trade has fallen on such hard times since an Act of Parliament in the early 19th century).

And that brings me to my point about North Korea’s acquisition of nukes.  I repeat: my point is not to draw an analogy between a mad and evil dictator and law-abiding Americans.  It is to draw an analogy between a mad and evil dictators and mad and evil domestic criminals.  When a mad and evil dictator threatens to acquire really big arms capable of taking out LA, people like Drudge and his audience clearly grasp that prudence counsels trying to figure out some way to keep maniacs from acquiring the technology of mass slaughter: in a word, regulation of arms.  We do a quick cost/benefit analysis and immediately conclude that the right to bear arms is not limitless and that the dangers of treating it as if it were so are far too great to tolerate a mad and evil dictator getting his hands on the power to nuke LA.  In short, we situate the right to bear arms in the context of the common good, just as the Church urges us to do.  It is by means of this same moral calculus that domestic gun owners likewise conclude that the risks of gun ownership by good and honest people are outweighed by the risk of suffering tyranny at the hands of Leviathan, or the death or rape of their loved ones.  I have no quarrel with any of that.

My point is different: it’s that because the debate has been framed for so long as a fight between absolutes: between mass confiscation vs. Liberty, that nuance has, it seems to me, largely disappeared.  The sole concret proposal I have made–given that I disbelieve in the practicality or wisdom of repealing the 2nd amendment and taking everybody’s guns–is that (in addition to addressing things like sin in the heart, broken families, our mental health system, the lunacy of letting paroled murderers amass arsenals, violent media culture, and all that end of things) we have the technological wherewithal to invent gun technology that just flat won’t work in the wrong hands.  It’s the sole proposal I have made.

Can it be done? Hey, I’m an English major and you’re a science fiction writer.  We both know that just because somebody cooks up some interesting tech idea like transporters or faster than light travel that doesn’t mean The Future[TM] will deliver it up.  On the other hand, we also know that the first step toward scientific advancements has often started with somebody saying, “Why doesn’t some smart engineer try inventing one of these?”  So Jules Verne anticipates an awful lot of the American space program (not to mention submarines and a lot of other tech) long before it happens, just by deducing from what he already knows.

So, I proposed the basic idea, not of confiscating guns (which can’t be done and is counter-productive) but of building a better gun: one that can only be fired by the person or persons who are supposed to be firing it.  Is it  a panacaea?  No.  But will it help (assuming it can really be designed and function just as well as present firearms)?  Of course it will help.  It would render an entire class of guns useless to criminals if stolen.  Is it The Answer?  No.  But it is, quite obviously, part of the solution and not part of the problem to have guns which function perfectly in the right hands and not at all in the wrong ones.

So what was the response to this (admittedly tentative) suggestion?  Essentially a fusillade of “Can’t do.  Won’t work.  Give up.  Don’t Try.”  The spirit of Verne would be, “Hmmm… Interesting.  I can imagine any number of bugs, tweaks, fixes, and possible glitches, depending on what sort of security coding you might use.  But it seems like it would be worth a try.”  The spirit in my comboxes was almost entirely to declare the idea DOA, to denounce it as ‘fairy tales” and “science fiction”.  Almost every question directed to it was of the “asking questions in order to keep from finding things out and dismiss” variety not of the bold and curious, “That’s an interesting idea.  I wonder how it could be achieved” variety.

And that was my point.  I’m willing to grant that *of course* any attempt to invent such devices is bound to be fraught with complexities and difficulties and *of course* if such devices didn’t work as well as or better than current tech, they are no good.  But the sense I got from my readers was that they would oppose such devices *even if* they worked perfectly well, apparently because they would entail the nuisance of upgrading and/or expense.

So: Whereas Drudge and his audience very clearly were convinced that the death of, say, Los Angeles was an unacceptable loss that required some sort of action to limit his access to the technology of slaughter of innocents (action that typically involves both nuisance and expense for somebody), my readers were making it equally clear that the death of thousands of innocents domestically was not worth the nuisance and expense of so much as exploring the possibility of creating guns that can’t be fired by anyone but the authorized user(s). It was shouted down as “science fiction” despite the fact that at least one manufacturer is already marketing such a device.  I honestly don’t get that.  And so, I conclude that, for many Americans, the mindset is simply that their private cost-benefit analysis is that taking concrete steps to keep *big* weapons out of the wrong hands is worthy it, but taking concrete steps to keep *little* weapons out of the wrong hands is not worth it.  I don’t know what else to make of it.  If you can find some other analysis that makes sense I’m happy to entertain it.  But from where I sit, it looks an awful lot like even perfectly functional Intelligun would somehow be seen as a Bad Thing, and I can’t understand why.

Thanks for your typically intelligent, courtly, generous, and charitable spirit when you write, John.  You are a breath of fresh air.  I hope you and yours are well.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    “Thanks for your typically intelligent, courtly, generous, and charitable spirit when you write, John.”

    Personally, I find many of the comments here to be intelligent, courtly, generous and charitable. Sometimes more than they receive in return. Perhaps read more comments that way, and it will be obvious that many are saying things Mr. Wright said, and doing it in a manner Mr. Wright did.

  • Cinlef

    This may come off as sarcastic and I apologize as that isn’t my intent, I’d sincerely like an answer: Considering that Obama asserts the fight to execute any US citizen (and also anyone else) any time, anywhere, via drone as long as he gets the approval of a secret unaccountable panel of people he’s appointed,and this revelations has elicited minimal controversy in the USA well doesn’t that tend to undermine the whole”Second Amendment will prevent tyrannical overreach by the State” argument?

    You know since it has not in fact done so?

  • Michael

    Sorry, but when I read that paragraph from the CCC I get the impression that it is refering to the production , sale and trade of arms to other nations on a scale that could equip an army. Not as you seem to imply the production and sale of legal arms between honest gun manufactures and the citizens of a country.

    Michael D

    • Mark Shea

      The passage refers to *private* and collective interests. It is patient of an interpretation referring to domestic regulation of arms as well. And both Rome and the US bishops favor gun regulation in some form.

  • Jamie R

    The other difference is that North Korea is a sovereign. It’s right to arms is due to being a sovereign. There’s no analogy between North Korea and a citizen, since their respective rights to have arms are from different sources.

  • Michael

    I see it this way, any law abiding citizen of this country should be able to purchase and own any weapon that any law enforcement person has the right to have. I have yet heard an argument that is not found wanting to change my thinking on this. Law enforcement respond to crimes the citizen is there when the crime is happening. So if the secret service and the swiss guard can have “assualt rifles” to protect people, why not me?

  • ivan_the_mad

    The two of you are quite reasonable here, and I don’t see your positions as mutually exclusive. The status quo sucks, and I’m sure there is some kind of reasonable middle ground between doing nothing and confiscation. Being by disposition a conservative, I agree with Kirk: ” … change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.” We can start by closing the gun show loophole, which will put at least a dent in criminal weapons. I think your idea should get a fair shake too; but I would start with encouraging state and local legislatures to require biometric trigger locks for guns now owned. I think that some of the efficacy of your proposal could be deduced from a period governed by such a policy.

    • Blog Goliard

      I don’t get this “the status quo sucks” argument.

      In recent years, crime is way down. Violent crime is way down. Gun crime is way down. Murder is way down.

      Clearly, what we are doing is, in the broad picture, already working. (All one has to do, in order to see this, is give less attention to sensational and horrific stories of the day as obsessed on in the media, and more attention to aggregate data and policies.) People who shout “SANDY HOOK! GABY GIFFORDS! WE MUST DO SOMETHING!”, while either not realizing or refusing to recognize this, are not to be trusted to make policy no matter what side of the aisle they’re on.

      In addition to being familiar with and acknowledging the overall realities of crime in America, anyone agitating for change must also be prepared to meet a Hippocratic burden of proof: can you give us solid reason to believe that your proposed reforms will, at the very least, not stall or reverse the decline in crime that we’re already seeing?

      I think there’s a good chance that a fully-functional, highly-reliable “Intelligun” would meet this burden. The funny thing about unintended consequences is, of course, that they are generally both unintended and unforeseen–but I certainly can’t see many potential sources of mischief and grief here. (Maybe that’s just because I haven’t thought it through enough yet.) Mark is right, I think, to be frustrated with those who simply dismiss this idea out of hand.

      But waving bloody corpses around and talking of “collateral damage” is only a proper part of this argument when one is arguing with people who explicitly argue that they’d rather have more murder victims than contemplate any regulation of firearms whatsoever. (Are there many? I haven’t read through all the threads thoroughly enough to be sure.) It seems to me that the rest of us non-lunatics are simply trying to identify which proposed policies are most likely to keep the crime rate falling–or offer the best promise of continuing and/or accelerating its fall–while also doing as little violence as possible to our Constitutional republic and the liberties it is designed to protect (which is an important consideration in guarding against other sources of grave collateral damage).

      • ivan_the_mad

        I don’t equate “rates are down” with “rates are acceptable”, hence my judgement that the status quo sucks. Furthermore, my state’s gun show loophole is frequently still exploited for criminal purposes, and stolen guns are a substantial source of guns used for the same. My suggestions address those two areas.

        You’re also attributing a hysteria and knee-jerk sensationalism to me that I neither appreciate nor possess.

        • Blog Goliard

          I didn’t mean to attribute all, or even most, of what I described to you personally; sorry that that wasn’t clear.

          • ivan_the_mad

            No worries, BG. Thanks.

      • Stu

        Always be skeptical of the notion that technology will solve all of our problems claim. First, it does bring unforeseen side affects as you noted. Second, technology is not static and it cuts both ways. Increasingly, technology is becoming such that people in their own homes can fabricate functional mechanical components (3D printing) and creation of electronics. I think even things like the Intelligun will be overtaken by this ability. People are just going to make their own firearms (0r substitute parts) on a greater scale.

        • Mark Shea

          Nobody’s saying technology will solve all our problems.

          • Stu

            Nobody is saying “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t Try.”

            • Mark Shea

              Not in so many words.

              • Stu

                LMAO!
                Mark, you have tickled my funny bone for the day.

                On the down side, I think you are actually serious.

                I will admit that my choice of words above could wrongly give the impression that you believe technology will solve all of our problems. For that I apologize. That was not my intent and should have chosen my syntax more carefully. Now in return, I would ask that you stop with the continued and intentional mischaracterizing of my critiques to your proposal as simply being ““Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t Try.” Seems like the reasonable and gentlemanly thing to do. At least, that is how my father taught me to discuss such things.

  • Dan C

    “First, an armed citizenry is the best guarantee of maintaining the liberty”

    I claim this is false. I claim Second Amendment advocates have failed to demonstrate this is true.

    I can think of plenty of examples in which individuals are harmed and freedom is reduced because of an armed citizenry. I think this is not a postulate which fails to require proof and evidence because it is true in some other realm.

    I think plenty of evidence suggests this is likely not always true. Or maybe not even often true.

    Defenders of this statement use the loss of weaponry and the correlation of the rise of varied dictatorships to demonstrate causation. I think this is not “proof.”

    I suggest that plenty of populations in this country and other countries are armed and the populace, both armed and unarmed, are not safe, have freedoms sacrificed due to the promulgation of arms, and, while menacing the authorities (which is the image of most Second Amendment adherents), an armed citizenry does not at all add to the common good.

    I do not think that in this country tyranny has been stopped since at least 1820 due to the citizenry’s possession of arms.

    In short, I say the experiment has failed. The Second Amendment however has become a barrier to the common good. A very reasonable Catholic opinion can suggest and support its repeal.

    • ivan_the_mad

      I’ve always thought that the arguing for gun ownership as a defense against tyranny is a weak argument given the, shall we say, infrequent use of citizen arms for that purpose. It is a reason, but if I were ambivalent about or opposed to private arms, that wouldn’t convince me, especially since leaping to the thought of shooting some agent of a tyrannical government is distasteful to say the least. It’s pretty far down on my list of reasons for private arms. We have an excellent example of tyranny overcome in this country – Jim Crow. This was done via non-violent civil disobedience. Other good examples elsewhere include Ghandi’s Swaraj and Poland’s Solidarity.

      In short, I agree that defense against tyranny is a poor argument for private arms, given its infrequency versus the much higher frequency of domestic gun violence.

      • Michael

        Ivan, infrequent here in our safe little ranch house and tree lined neighborhoods, but if we look at the world at large, a disarmed citizenry have been lead to the slaughter house by the millions by tyrants. BUT could it happen here? Don’t be a fool, sure it could. Move along folks nothing to see here…

        • Dan C

          Sudan…heavily armed citizenry.
          Haiti…heavily armed citizenry.
          Inner city US…heavily armed citizenry.

          Armed Vichy: no victory against tyranny.
          In the eyes of Confederacy-supporter: armaments did not result in a victory against tyranny, or its prevention, and likely created the environment for an even worse outcome we are still living out.

          I think the empiric evidence is lacking on the statement that such avoids tyranny, and empiric evidence is what this entire argument is based on, from those over-quoted George Washington statements to the “Hilter took all the weapons before he overran Germany” commentary.

          Empirical evidence is obvious to the contrary.

    • Michael

      Well Dan, I’m sure all the armed psychopathic predators that would eat your family as lunch will take into consideration the very reasonable Catholic opinion before they take the first bite.

      • Dan C

        I claim that an armed citizenry does nothing for safety. I claim it reduces safety and creates opportunities for other types of tyranny.

        Catholics in America rely on Second Amendment rights to support their claim, and false corellations as I noted. I think a Catholic argument can be made for overturning the Second Amendment, and that there will be more safety, not less.

        • Blog Goliard

          It depends a great deal on which citizenry is being armed.

          An armed citizenry seems to do a lot for safety in Switzerland (on both the personal and national scales).

          An armed citizenry seems to make Somalia even worse (again, on both the personal and national scales).

          • Dan C

            Agreed about Somalia, and the Sudan, and in Columbia, and on and on…

            While Switzerland is safe, would it be so without armaments? I propose that it would.

            I claim the threat of disorganized violence and chaotic uprising from a handgun and rifle wielding populace is not a deterrent for any government of any size. Nor, actually, does the community want it to be. The community does not want the authorities yielding to the most armed group. Threat of violence 1) likely does not promote the common good nor 2) should it promote the common good.

  • JH

    Two points, Mark:

    1. There is a difference between gun homicide rates and overall homicide rates. The one is credibly linked to gun ownership rates and lax gun control legislation in some analyses. The other is not. The same is true of gun violence and overall violent crime. In fact, some analyses I’ve seen equate widespread civilian gun ownership with lower overall violent crime and homicide rates.

    *It’s not that we pro-gun folks consider the Sandy Hook kids “acceptable losses” – it’s that we have looked at all the information and concluded that, on the whole, we are better off without restrictive gin control laws.* Imagine if I started proposing we ban private ownership of automobiles, pointed at the 40,000 car deaths every year, discpunted all the kids fed by commuting parents and taken to the hospital in cars, and then accused you of considering crash victims “acceptable losses” when you objected to my proposed restrictions?

    2. If you’re not saying people should have their guns taken away, then why are you criticizing those who support civilian gun ownership? What is your solution to the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings? If you don’t have an opinion on the matter, why so, many posts on it?

    I find the idea of biometric-controlled gun locks intriguing, but if that’s your only opinion on the matter, why not confine your posts to that subject alone? I’m left with the impression that you do have an opinion on reducing gun ownership, but don’t want to get held to it. Please set me straight.

  • http://www.sff.net/people/john-c-wright/ John C Wright

    “When a mad and evil dictator threatens to acquire really big arms capable of taking out LA, people like Drudge and his audience clearly grasp that prudence counsels trying to figure out some way to keep maniacs from acquiring the technology of mass slaughter: in a word, regulation of arms. We do a quick cost/benefit analysis and immediately conclude that the right to bear arms is not limitless and that the dangers of treating it as if it were so are far too great to tolerate a mad and evil dictator getting his hands on the power to nuke LA.”

    This is precisely my objection to your statement: keeping maniacs who are the leaders of sovereign nations from getting nuclear weapons is not the regulation of arms, if by that we mean the type of gun control provisions being discussed in the daily newspapers, that is, background checks, limits on magazines, outlawing of scary-looking folding stocks and bayonet lugs.

    If by this comment, you mean only that we in the NRA (I am a member) object in principle to the idea of preventing dangerous criminals from obtaining and using firearms, all I can say is that I have never once heard that argument put forward. Perhaps you have heard it; I have not. I believe all men of good will on both sides of this debate agree that at least some state regulation of arms, particularly military-grade weapons is both reasonable and constitutional. The regulation of semi-automatic weapons (semi-automatic is not a machine gun; it means one bullet per pull of the trigger) based on surface features of the gun that do not influence its performance is nonsensical.

    No man of good will on either side of the debate does a cost/benefit analysis of denying an enemy of the United States and the human race access to nuclear weapons versus some supposed right of sovereign nations to possess such things. I am not sure why you would characterize the debate in this way. When looking at domestic laws, we can and must ponder how to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals while allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves, and in that case a cost/benefit analysis is pertinent. When looking at foreign policy, particular at a rogue state that is outside the community of civilized nations, there is no reduction of our nation’s own legitimacy in owning nukes because we pressure or force or enemies not to own them.

    That said, I am not in a position to argue in support of the various other sloppy arguments you denounce. As for the suggestion of having fingerprint locks on guns, you and I both saw that such things are for sale here and now. My only comment is that it would not have stopped the Sandy Hook murders, since the current brand of fingerprint lock can be unlocked with a key.

    As a science fiction writer, I can also suggest that equipping a gun with a radio circuit that sends out a signal on the police band when it has been fired might deter some crime. Other technological fixes are possible.

    But I also suggest that the real problem is not the guns, it is the lax punishments, and the lack of support, at least among a certain influential and liberal segment of our society, for the police.

    Like you, I am a committed Catholic and take the Catholic approach to the question. I certainly, certainly do not take the Second Amendment to be anything other than a prudential human law prohibiting the federal government from disarming the states or the individuals.

    And, like you, I am frustrated by the lack of nuance and the lack of healthy skepticism which characterizes this, and most, public debates. For example, I have heard no one except myself point out the difference between urban and rural gun use and gun crime rates, and therefore suggest different laws of different levels of strictness for the two. This is an idea well in keeping with the notions of the Founders that the federal government should only possess enumerated powers, and local authorities deal with local issues.

    I notice the Church also approves of putting local issues under local authority, which she called ‘subsidiarity’ There is an analogy between that and Federalism.

    So, it seems to me that you and I overlap on this issue. I am concerned about the same things you are and approach the question in much the same Catholic way (except only that I am a lawyer, and I have actually read the Second Amendment cases, such as Walter v Miller, and so on, and this puts things in a different color for me).

    In any case, I think the Mark Shea-John C Wright Mutual Admiration Society can continue in its complaisant mutual admiration for many years to come.

    My only caution is that you not be so quick to give your credence to quick-fix arguments. Despite the horrific nature of Sandy Hook, the Virginia Tech shootings, and Columbine,the number of gun crimes at schools has been going steadily down for decades. Earlier school shootings were most black on black crime which received no national press attention.

    The cries that we must do something are disingenuous: we have been doing something, and it has been slowly working. We have been reversing the disastrous policy of lenience toward criminals which afflicted our elite governing classes like some brain-destroying venereal disease in the 1960′s.

    The idea mentioned by Dan C that an armed populous is as easy to cow into submission as an unarmed one flies in the face of history and common sense. See the events of the Twentieth Century, particularly the disarmament schemes of various socialist regimes, for reference. One can, if one seeks hard enough, find scattered examples of armed slaves, Janissaries of Egypt, for example, or tyrants who subjects are heavily armed tribesmen: I assume one can also find examples of tyrants who tolerate a free press.

    From this it does not follow that the statement is false that best defense against tyranny is an armed citizenry. It merely means that the best defense is not a magic talisman which requires nothing else.

    There are also cases of men in lifevests who drown, or who died in car accidents dispute wearing a safety belt: this does not mean we should drive unbuckled, or jump naked into the sea during a shipwreck.

    • Dan C

      An armed population cancreate a level of anarchic tyranny.

    • Dan C

      An armed Confederacy did not prevent their defeat, which from their view point was the victory of tyranny. In fact, the availability of armaments likely worsened all outcomes.

      Two, correlation and causation are described with regard to population disarmament schemes and the rise of dictators. One can argue that the only way the population disarmament occurred in the beginning is because a degree of authoritarian rule developed which required such compulsory release of weapons to the government. Which actually indicated that the armaments to begin with did nothing to prevent the tyranny. That when the tyranny rises, the possession of armaments and this time period preceding such a matter were all for naught. Deaths due to guns for no results.

    • Dan C

      The argument I quoted requires empiric evidence. I claim enough is present to indicate that it is false.

    • j. blum

      Who doesn’t support the police, Mr. Wright, and how do they not support them?

    • Mark Shea

      I believe all men of good will on both sides of this debate agree that at least some state regulation of arms, particularly military-grade weapons is both reasonable and constitutional.

      Agreed. And yet here in my comboxes, I have a reader who is demanding the right to these on the theory that he should have access to anything the cops have. His mentality, and the mentality of a lot of people I run into in this debate, appears to be that the state really should have *zero* power to regulate arms. It is that mentality that I address the point about our willingness to regulate Kim’s access to arms. Obviously there are differences between domestic regulation of little arms and international regulation of really big ones. But the basic principle at work is simply that access to the technology of killing is situated within the common good and not independent of it. Many people, in my experience, treat the access to arms as though it exists in a vacuum without regard for the common good. That’s what I was trying to get at in my blog entry.

      My reader’s demand for military grade tech, by the way, illustrates something that often gets overlooked in the “guns are morally neutral” argument: namely, that technology changes the way we think. Once you have a weapon that can get off 45-60 rounds a minute, you start thinking about how you might use it, fantasizing about dreadful scenarios in which it might become necessary to use it, and (as the LAPD demonstrated recently with its trigger-happy pursuit of Chris Dorner) risking using your guns when they aren’t necessary on people who weren’t even close to being threats. Technology changes us (wrote the pear-shaped man on the laptop where he makes his living). By the way, as a complete aside, I don’t get the controversy about background checks. Can somebody explain this to me? Why would we not want to know the background of a gun buyer?

      No man of good will on either side of the debate does a cost/benefit analysis of denying an enemy of the United States and the human race access to nuclear weapons versus some supposed right of sovereign nations to possess such things. I am not sure why you would characterize the debate in this way. When looking at domestic laws, we can and must ponder how to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals while allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves, and in that case a cost/benefit analysis is pertinent. When looking at foreign policy, particular at a rogue state that is outside the community of civilized nations, there is no reduction of our nation’s own legitimacy in owning nukes because we pressure or force or enemies not to own them.

      Hmm… I still don’t seem to be making myself clear. I’m no thinking in terms of sovereign states. I’m simply thinking in terms of “Here is a dangerous homo sapiens. He wants a weapon called a nuke. We other homo sapiens say, “It would not be wise to let that man have that weapon.” and take step to stop him from getting it. Meanwhile, at home, we also have dangerous homo sapiens who want much smaller weapons and have much easier access to them, resulting in thousands and thousands of gun deaths each year. Even the smallest suggested changes to the status quo are met with fierce resistance. That suggests to me that our cost/benefit analysis is different concerning the access of domestic monsters acquiring small arms vs. foreign monsters acquiring big ones.

      That said, I am not in a position to argue in support of the various other sloppy arguments you denounce. As for the suggestion of having fingerprint locks on guns, you and I both saw that such things are for sale here and now. My only comment is that it would not have stopped the Sandy Hook murders, since the current brand of fingerprint lock can be unlocked with a key.

      I’m glad you grant the possibilities of the tech. To be sure, the current tech would not have stopped Sandy Hook. Nancy Lanza was fool enough to teach her son to shoot and give him access to the guns. Build an idiot proof system and they’ll build a better idiot. But still, the tech is in its infancy and there are lots of improvements that could be made and likely will be.

      This reply is inadequate to all you wrote because I am badly underslept and have to get stuff done. But I don’t think we are too widely apart on things and I look forward to indulgence of mutual admiration for years to come.

      Your prayers, by the way, that I find time to work on The Yarn would be appreciated.

      • Stu

        Mark said…”My reader’s demand for military grade tech…”
        —————–
        Define “military grade tech.” A Bushmaster .223? Hardly. Looks like one, but isn’t one. My surplus M-1 Garand (an actual military weapon) that is also a semi-automatic weapons that I obtained from the Government sponsored Civilian Marksmanship Program? Not nearly as “scary” looking as the Bushmaster .223 and only has a 8 round clip (yes, it is a clip) but a 30-06 which packs much more of a punch. Bought one for each of my sons. They are tough in construction and make good hunting rifles. Now I could get off 45 rounds in a minute with that rifle but never once have I started “thinking about how I might use it, fantasizing about dreadful scenarios in which it might become necessary to use it.” Heck, I’ve carried much more deadlier munition under my wings and I never “fantasized” about that.

        Mark said…” By the way, as a complete aside, I don’t get the controversy about background checks. Can somebody explain this to me? Why would we not want to know the background of a gun buyer?”
        —————-
        I don’t think people have any problem with the background check. What they don’t like is that in doing such checks, there is now a record of that individual having a firearm. And people generally have a distrust of the government especially given their track record over the last decade.

        • Mark Shea

          You need to ask him. He didn’t specify.

  • http://www.sff.net/people/john-c-wright/ John C Wright

    “The spirit in my comboxes was almost entirely to declare the idea DOA, to denounce it as ‘fairy tales” and “science fiction”.”

    Well, as a writer of fairy tales and science fiction, to me that would be a plus, not a minus. Do your combox guys know that there are fingerprint locked guns for sale now? Also for sale are guns than cannot be fired unless a the shooter is wearing a ring that electronically shuts off the safety.

    • Stu

      I’m aware of them. I can also point out some huge shortcomings in them as well. So much so, that as an experienced gun owner I would not choose to have one. And I think the marketers realize that because they appear to be geared towards “noobies.” I think if someone wants to have such a device for their self-defense that adds an extra layer of technology in the loop, then that is their choice. And if the technology is so rock-solid and inexpensive, then everyone will get one on their own in time. Let’s put the onus on the people advocating such technology to prove it works. address and overcome objections to the approach and convince everyone else that it is the better way to go (won’t do more harm). It’s not for those us who are skeptical to prove anything.

      • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar

        Those are actually magnetic rings.

    • Steve

      In my view, the biggest disadvantage to the “fingerprint gun”, or whatever variation thereof, isn’t the technology issue. I’m certain that there are a plethora of technological changes that can be made to firearms that will “work” (depending upon your definition of “work”.) The biggest roadblock is the fact that very few people will want them. I know I don’t want one. I especially have no intention of trading in my trusted Glock, or my hunting rifles, or any of my firearms (or my reloading equipment) for one. I suspect most gun owners do and will feel the same way if any such idea is implemented.

      “Also for sale are guns than cannot be fired unless a the shooter is wearing a ring that electronically shuts off the safety.”

      Since we’re talking about fairy tales and sci fi, I wonder if there is some geek sitting in his cellar, or in some military R&D lab, at this very moment who is working on a transmitter that will block the electronic ring. Technology is funny that way. There is always a measure and a countermeasure, and so on and on. A lock, stock, spring and slide are not nearly as vulnerable.

    • Mark Shea

      I thought you’d like the scifi denunciation. :)

      Yeah, they know. They simply declare by prophecy that all such security measures will be hacked so, “Can’t do. Give up. Won’t work. Don’t try.”

  • Stu

    “Of course it will help. It would render an entire class of guns useless to criminals if stolen.”
    ——————-
    No. It would simply provide another step for criminals to overcome in using the weapon. And they would overcome it. This is classic problem with technology “solutions.” They oversell the impact.

    “So what was the response to this (admittedly tentative) suggestion? Essentially a fusillade of “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t Try.”
    —————–
    Why do you feel the need to keep employing this rhetorical broad brush to anyone who thinks your personal solution has some big flaws?

    • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar

      The science fiction isn’t a two-minute lock, or a ten-minute lock, or perhaps even a 1-hour lock. It’s the idea of an undefeatable lock.

      One thing to bear in mind about engineering is that a design is not perfected by adding things on, but by taking them away. Firearm designs are simplified very thoroughly, because the less there is, the less there is to go wrong. There are few use-cases where things going wrong is more potentially catastrophic than defensive use of arms.

      That brings us to the technology Mark envisions. I still maintain that it’s significantly trickier than he thinks. If a firearm is going to work for some and not for others, you need to have what amounts to a self-selecting safety, that locks itself in safe when not in the authorized person’s hands. Given the simplicity of firearm mechanisms, replacing a self-locking linkage, lever, or transfer bar with one that isn’t is something anyone with minimal skill as a machinist can do. Firearms have been really thoroughly engineered, and as I said, that means nearly everything that they do not need has been removed.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    The spirit in my comboxes was almost entirely to declare the idea DOA, to denounce it as ‘fairy tales” and “science fiction”.

    I never got that impression. It certainly wasn’t mine. I merely asked questions. What could such innovations do? Could things go wrong? Could innocents be hurt? That seemed to be what others wondered. The proper response, in such moments, would be: They do thus, they could go round but only rarely and the good would outweigh the bad, most likely not, far fewer than could be saved. That’s how to answer questions about such things. Not begin with: I’ll bet you chafe at the idea of round wheels, can’t, can’t, can’t, or whatever similar response.

  • KM

    “In short, we situate the right to bear arms in the context of the common good, just as the Church urges us to do…the debate has been framed for so long as a fight between absolutes: between mass confiscation vs. Liberty, that nuance has, it seems to me, largely disappeared. ”

    Just on Wednesday 2/13/13, Wayne La Pierre of the NRA published a long opinion piece called “Stand and Fight” at The Daily Caller (conservative site) which was breathtaking in the amount of fear it was promoting.

    What has happened to America’s character since the 1930′s when Roosevelt proclaimed “We have nothing to fear but fear itself?” Why are we more fearful, when we have gone through so much as a nation and yet survived it all?

    Back in the 1920′s and 1930′s, gangsters were killing other gangsters with machine guns. In response, Congress passed the National Firearms Act of 1934 which regulated “gangster weapons” (machine guns and short-barreled shotguns). The national response was *not* to arm every American with a machine gun as a solution to gangster violence. The nation at the time thought of the common good differently than we seem to today. And today’s national debate continues to about two absolutes (not here at this blog but all over the mainstream outlets) with a heavy dose of fear.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    They simply declare by prophecy that all such security measures will be hacked so, “Can’t do. Give up. Won’t work. Don’t try.”

    Who? Who exactly says Can’t do, give up, won’t work, don’t try’? Who? In reference to what?

    • Mark Shea

      Stu. Repeatedly. His entire argument has been that the idea won’t work and is a waste of time and energies should directed elsewhere. Haven’t you been reading these arguments? At every turn, his argument (and yours, a few days ago) was “What about this problem? And that one? And the other one?” Yes. There will be problems and challenges. I think them worth attempting to address and overcome.

      • Stu

        Mark,
        Attempt those ideas all you want. Invest your money in them. Sell them on the free market. Provide a good product and sell it. Answer objections and critiques that people have in a forthright manner instead of complaining that someone comes around and take the time to actually shoot some holes in your ideas. And don’t throw out a solution and then hide behind the excuse, “Hey, I’m just an English major.” In my world, which has involved technology introduction and system integration, that’s how iron sharpens iron. At this point given my experience, I have no desire for such a device and I certainly wouldn’t support Big Government mandating a entire change in the firearms industry to the delight of Big Business when quite simply the idea hasn’t even been justified as having any possible positive affect. You want the change, justify without appealing to “let’s give it a try.”

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        I don’t know if it’s can’t do, as much as make sure if the goal is to eliminate 1000 gun deaths we don’t end up with 1100 gun deaths when the dust settles. I can’t speak for Stu, though the overall picture seem to be that. I doubt anyone thinks the technology can’t be done. Of course it can. Russia can put men on the moon after all. But should it be done, would it help, would it cause problems? Asking those questions isn’t obstructionism. It’s not bemoaning a string of inventions that began with round wheels. It’s prudence. It’s finding things out (because I don’t know) before the event rather than reading ‘new tech device causes X’ in the papers later. If the answer is ‘of course, there wouldn’t be problems, it wouldn’t hurt anyone and it could reduce gun violence by Y’, then by all means.

        • Stu

          Agree with Dave completely.

      • JH

        Personally, I don’t see this technology stopping premeditated shooting sprees or other violent crimes. But I do see it preventing a certain number of kids from figuring out the combination to Mom’s gun safe, finding her bullets, and… parent’s worst nightmare. I can see this selling well to parents, and maybe some people who are keeping a handgun for self defense that they don’t want turned against them in combat.

  • RC

    Making straw-man arguments? Who does Mark think he is, the President?

  • JH

    @Dan C: In a comparison of the “rate” of private gun ownership in 179 countries, Sudan ranked at No. 93.

    In a comparison of the “rate” of private gun ownership in 179 countries, Haiti ranked at No. 164.

    Source: http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/sudan

    Is that what you mean by “heavily armed citizenry?” The vast majority of civilians in those countries do not have weapons. Try again.

    • Dan C

      Vet the source: the Haitian figures account for no illegal guns. Guns were uniformly present this past Fall and travel internally within the country by Americans is difficult due to the constant presence of guns.

      Sudan figures are closer to 8% of gun ownership, rocketing them up the gun ownership rankings. That is substantial in a place in which poverty is so common. The first citationon the refernece list is the source for many of the figures, relying heavily on one methodology and source.

      That list fails to penetrate real gun ownership for countries without infrastructure and extensive illegal trade in guns.

      • JH

        @Dan: I checked the sources, and I disagree with your assessment. The sources claim to refer to both legal and illegal possession. I have no idea where you’re getting the 8% figure for Sudan – can you clarify?

        If you have a source that better measures how widely distributed guns are in these countries, please share it. From what I can tell, these countries are on the LOW end in terms of civilian gun ownership.

        Naturally, I’m much more interested in the proportion of gun owners to total population than I am in average number of guns per 100 people. In a town of 100 homes, 1 gun in each home and 100 guns in one home are two very different situations.

  • Gilbert

    >>>Since we’re talking about fairy tales and sci fi, I wonder if there is some geek sitting in his cellar, or in some military R&D lab, at this very moment who is working on a transmitter that will block the electronic ring.

    Working on a transmitter that will fire the gun.

  • j. blum

    I haven’t seen a response to the post that asked why, if an armed citizenry protects us from the erosion of civil liberties, have these liberties been eroded. How did a people numerous and armed allow the Patriot act, the Military Commissions act, the kill lists, etc.?

    • meunke

      They are there to serve as a stop to tyranny, etc. However, that means they are a last resort. Are you asking why the reaction to the terrible Patriot Act was not for people to start shooting feds?

      Again, last resort, not first idea.

      • j. blum

        No, though I remember Liddy calling for “head shots” in the 90s as a response to Clintonian tyranny. It’s really this simple: we are less free despite the enormous number of firearms in private hands. How do guns keep my library card safe from government surveillance?

  • Ronald King

    What is the source of the desire to own guns? I suppose that each person must answer that for her/himself. I have no need or desire for a gun even though my home was robbed 2 years ago while I was in a hospital in Seattle with my spouse at my side.

  • meunke

    “it’s that because the debate has been framed for so long as a fight between absolutes: between mass confiscation vs. Liberty, that nuance has, it seems to me, largely disappeared.”
    - I don’t quite agree with this. I have not sampled the opinions EVERYWHERE, I will admit. If you ask people in general they know perfectly well that doing something like demanding confiscation would result in levels of bloodshed that would stagger the mind in this country. Heck, you don’t even hear demands like that coming from the CPUSA (Yes, I read their site once in a while. Nothing gets you through the day like smiling at crazy).

    This resistance to continuous increases in regulation is not even limited to firearms, and it actually gives us a better perspective when we step back and look at it in general. For example, software and web development is my primary field and I can assure you that people resent and howl against government encroachment in this arena just as forcefully, if not MORE so, than in the 2nd Amendment circles.

    We both agree that there good and just limits that may be applied to all freedoms. What I think is the major problem is that average people are seeing government, mostly at the federal level, using this language to excuse regulations and intrusions that are not just, do not actually do what they say they will do, slap onerous burdens on the law abiding while doing nothing to prevent actions by law breakers, and in the end serve only to increase federal power at the expense of citizens. We also notice that gun control is used by our government as a mirage, a cop out to say they’ve ‘done something’ so they don’t have to address real, actual problems. (For example, in all the hubbub about this in the national news, besides gun control, have you seen our leaders propose ANYTHING else? Anything to address the moral/cultural/social rot in our cities that generates these killers and criminals? I sure haven’t. And they never do, neither party.)

    “It is to draw an analogy between a mad and evil dictators and mad and evil domestic criminals.”
    - I still think your analogy is off here for two reasons: 1, we already have laws preventing the mad and the evil from buying or making firearms. As of now, I know of no one who advocates the removal of those restrictions. 2, and this may be just me more than anything, but I don’t think ‘good guys’ having nukes is ‘good’ either.

    “But will it help (assuming it can really be designed and function just as well as present firearms)? Of course it will help”
    - Here is the point of disagreement. I say no, it will not help. It will not help because you are purposefully adding extreme complexity to an extremely simple tool, merely for the sake of having that complexity. The disagreement is not if the tech can exist (as I have pointed out, it does exist in some form now), but if it is a good idea to FORCE hundreds of millions of people to use it instead of what they have now. I’m sure as the tech improves there will be people who will buy it. Heck, it actually MIGHT get so good that they will buy tons of it (people have moved on to smokeless powder cartridges instead of black powder after all).

    In like manner, I happen to think that at some point in the future electric cars will be the norm. They are here now, but are FAR too expensive to be viable option for replacement of internal combustion. Can engineers in the future get around this problem? Probably. And when that happens, I’m sure they will become affordable. But using that as a base to ask for the production of gasoline to stop so modern cars become unusable and force everyone to go buy an electric car is not a good idea.

    There are also numerous other, non tech related problems I have pointed out before.

    I am also against the idea as it is advocating blowing massive political capital and pushing for huge government intrusion (let’s be honest, that’s what that law would be) when better means are available for reaching our ends. We both agree that the end we should see is the safety of society and the protection of the innocent. The last time I commented here I didn’t have a chance to finish my thought regarding gun control vs other means, and I think that caused some confusion on your part. I think you misread what I meant as being we ONLY have the capability to push gun control OR fix social/cultural issues. Sorry for the confusion. We both agree that the root causes are social/cultural in nature and MUST be addressed. What my main point was is that if we fail like we are doing now to address these root issues, then all the gun control in the world will solve NOTHING and will never help. BUT, if we REALLY begin to address the real problems, then I believe further gun control will be totally unnecessary.

  • tz

    “a mad and evil citizen of a free country”.

    They seem to be doing such a good job at defining marriage, that they could define madness and evil as well?

    I favor no law that I would not wish to be honestly interpreted and enforced by someone who is LITERALLY demon possessed. That they want to twist the wording and authority to destroy life and all that is good.

    If you believe that a government that gave us no-fault divorce and allows same-sex couples to marry can properly judge who can properly defend themselves and who is mad or evil (e.g. perhaps those who oppose paying for contraception), then there would be no problem with those same people regulating guns.

    I have other standards as well – Heinlein (moon is a harsh mistress) had one I’ve not been able to break – government cannot have a right that does not first belong to individuals – it is merely a collective, efficient, and convenient expression of an individual right. If I cannot prevent you from having something or take it from you, I cannot do it by proxy (even if the proxy is “government”).

    The last element is martyrdom. It is better to suffer evil than to induce it. If your desire to regulate would produce evil – or you are doing evil so that good might result – is that in line with Catholic doctrine? Denying it is evil (or would require evil to be effective) is a cop-out. Perhaps the victims of gun violence are mostly martyrs, but to replace them with different martyrs of greater evils is not a gain. The world is fallen and we look through a glass darkly. Our best intentions must be weighted against the unintentional and/or undesired evil without ignoring or diminishing that which is likely to occur.

    It is fine to wish a miracle, a universal illumination of conscience, a Harry Potter like magic wand to wave and fix everything. But in the real world where it rarely happens, and if it doesn’t, we must weigh the evils a practical solution entails. Any evil must be both unintended and minor compared with the evil it is to address. Or is Obamacare acceptable because it supposedly fixes health care although it imposes a requirement to pay for intrinsic evil? The devil prefers to be in the details, the mouse-print, the unanticipated but predictable consequences of a compromise.

  • Mike in kc, mo

    Blum,

    First, who is liddy? Is she like some early version of ann coulter?

    Second, we are less free because we have voted to make ourselves such. I think perhaps you’re assuming that gun owners see firearms as a magical wand that cures all social/government ills and maybe even prevents crab grass from getting in your lawn. This is not the case. Guns aren’t penicillin, and even that, as great a it is, can’t be used for every single thing.

  • j. blum

    “Liddy” is G. Gordon, Nixonian criminal and 90s radio barker. I leave it to you, with your nice distinctions, to determine whether he (don’t think he’d appreciate the “she,” Mike in KC) was a Coulter precursor. I don’t recall voting for John Yoo, or Ashcroft, or drones–or Obama, for that matter. “We” did not vote for these kill lists or rendition or the TSA. And I am not anti-gun or pro-gun law. I do not understand either the devotion some have to their bang-bangs nor the “magic wand” argument so like the one you falsely attribute to my surname, for I love being addressed as “Blum,” it reminds me of my pervert gym teacher from high school, that the would be gun controllers use. I am merely someone unconvinced of the assertion that guns keep us free, or less unfree. I would like to be informed of how and why this is so, if it is so, and how one determines it it is so. I have no interest in having your guns taken away.

  • tz

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020373291_westneat17xml.html

    If I could create a gun that in military conflict, the enemy could not fire but our soldiers could, I would be filthy rich. I cannot although I know all the security, crypto, biometrics, electronics, etc. necessary.

    Many police are shot with police issued weapons. It would be nice to have them there too.

    1. A false negative can be fatal, as would a false positive.
    2. Anything can be done if you can spend enough, but a gun that costs more than your house would not help. The DoD might have a budget for it. DHS turning the neighborhood constable into federal blue-coats might too. Individuals don’t. The existing systems can find police trying to catch speeders, but cost more than even a Ferrari, so aren’t deployed in cars.
    3. Generally it has to be quickly accessible. “Please wait while I enter my complex password for the 3rd time” doesn’t cut it.
    4. If you can simply or quickly tamper and negate the security system, the game is lost anyway. Either you propose a tyrannical ban on tampering (how well does it work against bittorrent?), or the security is even more theater than the porn-scanners and the TSA master baiters.

    Cheney and Rumsfeld said the end justified the means, so encouraged evils as great if not greater than the original problem. That is what makes “gun control” difficult. If you wish to turn the USA into the USSR under Stalin, it would be easy. If you don’t, it is impossible.

    Any right you would give up to achieve your goal would make paying for contraception a minor evil in comparison. How you oppose or mitigate evil is as if not more important than merely desiring to accomplish it.


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