Tag Archive | gun control

People Sometimes Do Bad Things

No one (least of all libertarians) wants mass shootings to happen. In fact, libertarians are among the loudest of the people who speak out and condemn violence, whether it’s orchestrated by random lunatics, police officers, or soldiers within the military. The libertarian position has decades of consistency and history that reveals itself to be loudly and explicitly pro-defense and anti-aggression. The means by which a person commits aggression, and the means by which a person exercises their right to self-defense, are not terribly important, as long as the Defender has weapons equal or greater to the weapons held by the attacker.

One day, that attacker will be the United States Government, and the more we allow them to disarm us, the sooner that day will come. When the Germans surrendered their weapons to the Nazi Regime, they did not expect that their government would ever turn so viciously against them, and this has been the case repeatedly throughout history: very shortly after a population has been disarmed, the illusion of government benevolence is wiped away, revealing a nightmarish, brutish totalitarian thug underneath.

In an era when Nazis are marching, when leftists ransack businesses, when the police murder more than a thousand people every year, it is lunacy to surrender our guns. Don’t the people who suggest this say that Trump is a fascist? Why in the name of all that is good would anyone surrender their means of defense to a fascist regime? It’s certainly true that a shotgun or 9mm pistol is not going to do a lot of good against the true might of the military, once it comes to that, but one stands a much better chance with even a 9mm than one does with a baseball bat. Just because you’re unlikely to defeat Mike Tyson if you step into a ring with him is no reason to have your hands cut off.

I wrote The Power Gap about exactly this reality–when push comes to shove, it’s true: we won’t have much chance against the military. They’ve already effectively gutted our defensive capabilities, and we let them do it in full violation of the Constitution. The Second Amendment protects your right to own claymore mines, drones, cluster bombs, and, yes, even nuclear weapons; it makes absolutely no distinction between one type of weapon and another type of weapon. Further, contrary to popular belief, there was a range of weapon power back then–if the founders had intended We the People to own guns of lesser power than those held by the government, that could have been achieved even in 1787. They didn’t ban cannons from the public, which had already existed for centuries, though, because they never intended the government to possess weapons that the people didn’t. To do so would defeat the entire purpose of the Second Amendment.

Imagine if, today, We the People were still under British rule and sought our independence. Would our shotguns, AR-15s, and revolvers do much good against the awesome power of the UK’s military? No. Our rebellion would be crushed, decimated within minutes as jets we couldn’t even see soared high overhead and dropped bombs on the location of our forces. Whisper, Signal, Wire, the Onion network, cryptocurrencies–even these are not yet enough to allow us to successfully circumvent their awesome technological might, not if push came to shove, because these technologies rely upon satellites that they could (and would) blast from the sky, or simply shut down. EMPs would wipe out our laptops and other communication equipment while we resorted to primitivism and what would be recognized as “terrorism” by most people, because those would be the only tactics left available against such a juggernaut. And we would ultimately be unable to do much damage to the behemoth, just as Al-Queda, ISIS, Boko Harram, and other terrorist groups have been unable to do much damage to American military power.

I’ll even cede, at this point, to let the American government regulate who can and can’t acquire things like fighter jets, nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, and the like–but to have them banned entirely makes us infants before Mike Tyson. But none of this is my point, not really. I’m just explaining my position, and the importance of having weapons capable of truly defending ourselves against the government. Our entire nation was founded by people who did exactly that. And now you want to throw away our ability to do so?

No One Wants Mass Shootings

The question isn’t, “What should we ban?” Anyone who thinks that is the question is being disingenuous. The question is “How can we stop mass shootings?” The answer is difficult to hear, but it’s one that people have to face:

You can’t.

Today, four people in China killed 29 people and injured 130. They didn’t use guns to do this. They used knives. Could it have been worse, if those four people have had guns? Certainly. But you know what else? This little incident wouldn’t have happened if the citizens of China had owned their own military-grade weapons:

It’s simply a part of the human condition. Sometimes, people do bad things. There’s never a way to know beforehand that an otherwise ordinary person is about to do something horrific and evil. Even though I’ve warned extensively about the dangers of data mining and putting every bit of information about ourselves out there into the open, because this can lead to terrifyingly accurate predictions, no predictive algorithm will ever be 100% accurate. We’re already at a point where algorithms can predict whether a person will turn out to be gay, or whether they are on drugs, and they do this with accuracy better than human intuition, but they’ll never be accurate enough. Chasing after the red herring of preventing some Ordinary Joe from losing his mind one day with 100% success will result in each and every single one of us being watched, monitored, probed, and explored by the government at all times. What you’re asking for is, and I hate to pull up the cliche, Orwellian.

Because that’s what it takes to identify which of the 60,000,000 Americans who own a gun is about to lose their mind and shoot someone–and to be sure that everyone who has a gun is registered with the government. Because…

Gun Control Requires Closed Borders

It’s not just people coming across our borders, and that’s a fact. Drugs and guns also come across our borders. If you want to control guns in the United States, the only way to do this is by ensuring that each and every gun in the nation is registered with the government, and this means preventing any new guns from coming across our borders. This is why the UK has been more successful with gun control than other nations–they’re reasonably isolated, with water on all sides. The only way to get in is through an airplane or a ship, and both of those will involve metal detectors at some point. This isn’t the case in the United States–we have lengthy borders to the north and south, and there are many ways into countries on the other side of those borders without passing through such screening processes. To control guns in the United States, you must both control the borders absolutely (again, a red herring) to ensure that no guns get across, and you must have a reasonably tough, watchful eyes on all countries in North and South America.

How effective is this? Not very. We can’t even keep guns and drugs out of our tightly controlled prisons, which are much smaller and much more contained than “the entire country.” But the prison system is the only one even theoretically capable of achieving this task, so we must turn the entire country into a prison to achieve gun control. Once this is done, you might be more successful at keeping guns out, but you won’t be successful enough to justify having imprisoned yourself and everyone in the country.

3D Printing

And even if you manage to do all of that, you have to carefully monitor anyone who is even capable of making a gun. My grandfather has made guns. Even if someone lacks that level of expertise, in modern times all they need is a 3D Printer, some aluminum, and the blueprints. This, while expensive, allows them to create their own totally untraceable gun. How do you aim to stop that? By banning 3D printers? In a world that has P2P networks and the Onion network, it’s not possible to round up and eliminate every copy of the plans to “print” a gun.

In purely logistic terms, the idea of gun control is ludicrous and impossible. It can’t be done. It’s not government regulations that are keeping nuclear weapons out of citizens’ hands–it’s how damned expensive they are. Even so, there are rumors that there are, in fact, nuclear weapons loose within the borders of the United States. We know that the U.S. government has lost some nuclear weapons. Yes, lost. As in, misplaced. Or, far more likely, sold to Pakistan or stolen.

Back to the Question

If gun control isn’t the answer, then what is? Well, as I said, there really isn’t one. People sometimes do bad things, and if they don’t have a gun, they’ll use a knife. The 9/11 hijackers, after all, did not have guns. They had airliners that they improvised into weapons by smashing them into buildings. Even Paddock had improvised explosives that he intended to use. Several people in recent years have used automobiles as the means of mass murder–are we going to ban automobiles because some lunatics notice that they can be used to murder people?

No. That’s insanity. That some lunatic used their vehicle to drive through a crowd and murder people doesn’t in any way suggest that vehicles are the problem. There’s a much larger problem, and one that we would be ignoring if we attempted to ban automobiles: humans sometimes do bad things.

Ohio State: Gun Rights Advocates Jumped the Gun

My condolence, whatever it is worth, to everyone who was injured, and to the families of the murdered, in today’s attack at Ohio State University. There are never any words to ease the aching heart of those affected by such tragedies, and I’m not going to attempt to. Nothing but time will heal the wounds suffered today, and there is no amount of time that will wipe away the scars of it. If you are one such impacted person, click away. It’s not because I’m about to say anything insensitive, but because you have better things to be doing.

I’m pissed off at Second Amendment advocates and libertarians for jumping the gun on this attack. Fueled solely by media reports of a shooter at the university, people pounced and immediately started blaming Gun Free Zones. I’ve seen it primarily on Facebook, but it’s hardly limited to Facebook. It was also on every news article about it that I saw–the comments were absolutely filled with people blaming Gun Free Zones and bitching about how liberals were going to use this to create more gun regulations.

prick

Then something very, very bad happened.

It was revealed that it wasn’t a shooter at all, but a lunatic who committed vehicular homicide and who then went on to attack people with a knife.

The New Media

It immediately occurred to me this morning why traditional media is dying: it simply can’t compete. The “shooting” was still freaking happening when I learned about it, when people all over the Internet were still talking about it. It made me aware of several other things, too, like the fact that here in America we now politicize mass shooting while they’re still happening. Of course, most of the people who do this–who argue against Gun Free Zones while a mass shooting is “taking place”–insist that they’re not politicizing it, and that they’re just defending against the liberals who will politicize it and attempt to regulate guns further.

However, I’m not sure that it’s really a good thing that we gain access to such news while it’s still happening. Even before I knew that it wasn’t a shooter at all, I remarked to a friend via email that it causes us to jump to conclusions with little-to-no information. I can’t guess how many people jumped to the conclusion that this shooting wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been a Gun Free Zone. With traditional media, we wouldn’t even learn about the attack until the evening news tonight, at which point we’d hear that a lunatic with a knife did it. Without social media, the Ohio State incident would never have been called a mass shooting.

Gun Free Zones Are Bad

The narrative was that this mass shooting took place in a Gun Free Zone, and, because it was a gun free zone, no one on site had a gun to put a stop to it, and they had to instead call the police, which includes a delay. Instead of a student going, “Oh, hell naw!” and whipping out a gun to put a stop to the shooting, they had to wait, hide, cower, and run, unarmed, and wait for the police to come and rescue them. Their point is one that I adamantly agree with. I’m a member of the Bear Nukes Caucus of the Libertarian Party–I advocate total freedom of arms. Tanks, nukes, whatever, yes, I think you should be allowed to buy it. No, I’m not joking.

So that’s the context for everything I’m about to say. I’m as anti-gun-regulation as a person gets. I’ve got several guns. I’ve made a flamethrower. I’ve got the Anarchist Cookbook, I am armed, and I am ready.

If it had turned out that this was a shooter, they would be absolutely right. The criminal, after all, doesn’t care that it’s against the rules to bring a gun somewhere. Only people who care about the law will abide a law that says they can’t carry a gun somewhere. This is Common Sense 101. The only way to have a Gun Free Zone work is with absolute gun control and zero gun ownership. Obviously, this requires closing down the borders, since people can and do smuggle weapons across the border; you can’t have gun control when you have insecure borders.

However, the moment it was revealed that the attacker had a knife, not a gun, the entire argument got flipped on its head, and the pro-gun crowd had handed liberals evidence that gun free zones work on a silver platter.

The Attacker Didn’t Have a Gun

The moment that it was revealed that the attacker had a knife, libertarians and pro-gun people went from arguing that the victims should have had guns to defend themselves to arguing that the attacker should have had a gun rather than a knife. They don’t realize it, but that’s precisely what they ended up arguing. Abolish Gun Free Zones? In a Gun Free Zone that was just attacked by someone with a knife, almost certainly because they couldn’t get a gun? So you wish they’d have had a gun for their rampage?

I know that isn’t the argument that libertarians and pro-gun people are trying to make, but it doesn’t matter what they’re trying to say, not when “what they mean to say” conflicts so spectacularly with what they’re actually saying. Abolish the Gun Free Zone? Oh, yeah, because it would have been so much better if the attacker had a gun, right?

Once more, I completely agree that gun free zones are ineffective, and that the attacker could certainly have gotten a gun if he’d been willing to wait or shell out the money. But these arguments don’t matter! If guns had been cheaper–because they weren’t black market–or more readily available, then this would have been a shooting. If you’ve fallen so far into your dogma that you can’t see that basic fact, then please, for the love of god, stop arguing for libertarianism.

Because you are arguing that the attacker should have had access to guns.

circle-jerkAnd while I totally get your point and agree with what you’re saying, the fact remains that people who don’t already agree with you will not be persuaded.

In your hypothetical, Lunatic buys a gun, and goes to shoot up Ohio State. Instead, he is shot by another student who has a gun for self defense. The only person who dies is the lunatic. Yeah, I get it. I agree. A properly trained population of people acting as their own defenders, their own police force–that is the only way to curb murders and mass shootings. However, your hypothetical is too far removed from reality for the liberal to agree, and it’s the liberal who must be convinced.

When you say that, the liberal hears “The attacker should have been able to get a gun.”

You’re thinking about this only from the perspective of a victim; the liberal is thinking about it only from the perspective of an attacker. That’s an interesting distinction worth analysis for another day, though. You’re thinking about all the victims who could stand up and defend themselves instead of being victims. The liberal is thinking about the attacker and all the damage the attacker can do with a gun. That’s how the liberal sees the world.

And if you want to persuade people, you must be willing to look at the world through their prism. This is not optional.

You absolutely will not persuade them that it would be a good idea for the attacker to have had a gun, and the moment it became known that this was a stabber and not a shooter was the moment you found yourselves arguing that the attacker should have had access to guns. Whether that is what you meant or not, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s what you’re arguing.

A Lesson Learned

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I only emailed a friend about the “shooting” at Ohio State. And while I am not minimizing anyone’s suffering, it is almost certainly true that the violence would have been much worse if the attacker had been wielding a gun. Compare it to the tragedy in Orlando, where 49 people were killed by a guy with a gun. At Ohio State, the only person who is dead is the attacker.

Contrary to what you are saying, this is strong evidence that the Gun Free Zone, the mandatory wait times, and the high prices of guns… actually work as methods of deterring gun violence. You can’t say otherwise. Even in our system, the attacker could certainly have gotten a gun if he wanted to. Maybe he would have had to take a second job to afford it, but there’s no doubt he could have gotten one. But instead he attacked the university with a knife. And you’re arguing that more people should have guns. Your “more people” now includes that guy who attacked the university with a knife. Why didn’t he use a gun? I don’t know, and I’m not going to pretend to know. But there are good chances it had something to do with the cost, the mandatory wait times, maybe the background check he might not have been able to pass, who knows?

Whatever is the reason that the attacker didn’t have a gun, the fact remains that he didn’t have one when he attacked.

And you’re arguing that he should have been able to get one.

So please, I beg you, stop trying to argue for our side. You’re not helping.

Or continue arguing for our side, that’s fine. But for the love of fuck, please learn the valuable lesson from this experience that:

  • You should not politicize an issue at least until the event is actually over.
  • You should not attempt to hold a tragedy up as evidence of your ideology until the facts are in.
  • Wait until a shooter is confirmed before you start railing about why everyone should be able to have a gun.

I think that last point is the disconnect that people aren’t seeing. Once it was revealed the attacker didn’t have a gun, they suddenly were arguing that “everyone should have a gun, including the attacker.” That is not an argument that is going to persuade people.

We have to be willing to see the world through the eyes of people who disagree with us. And those people who disagree with us were just handed evidence that gun free zones work, that gun control regulations prevented the attacker from getting a gun, and that one mass shooting at least was prevented by these measures. Additionally, you backed up their position that you would rather attackers have guns than knives. It is irrelevant whether you believe what they believe or not; you have to understand what they believe and why they believe it. How else could you possibly show them that they’re mistaken?

When Push Comes To Shove

I do want to take a brief moment to say goodbye to Toni, who I actually just mentioned by name in a post. She died yesterday. She was found dead in her home, and the cause is probably an overdose, but that’s just conjecture on my part, based on what I know of her. She wasn’t murdered, at least. And while I’m not going to fall into the mindset of “She had such a bad life!” and “Heaven gained another angel!” the fact is that the last decade of her life was tragic.

And self-caused.

Worse yet, I was a way out for her, and I wasn’t going to let her fall back onto that path. It was the reason that her family loved me to death. I owned my own company, had my own place, had fought my own battle with drugs and knew how vicious that could be, and kept my eyes on her. But it was for nothing. She slowly slipped back to it, and, to my knowledge, she never tried to climb back out again.

Anyway.

I want to expand on something I’ve mentioned several times, because a lot of people are still arguing that the solution to the problem, the problem that caused the shooting in Orlando, is more gun control. While I’m not going to say everything on that front is fine, I am going to say: that’s a red herring. It can never work.

The reality is that a law can do two things: it can punish a crime, and it can make it a little harder to do something. But if human history has taught us nothing, it should be that a law will NOT prevent anything. Just look at how easy it is to get marijuana in the United States. Marijuana is illegal. Yet people want to smoke it, and so they do. When abortions were illegal, we had back alley abortions. People wanted abortions, and so they got them. In the 1920s, we established Prohibition and outlawed alcohol, and it created two years of horrifically violent crime and people like Al Capone. We attempted to throw more cops, more laws, and more federal agents at the problem, but it was for nothing; we could not weed out all of the Al Capones. What did? Repealing Prohibition. As soon as we repealed Prohibition, people like Al Capone vanished, replaced with Anheiser-Busch and Budweiser.

Outlawing something that people want to do will not prevent them from doing it.

Okay, now take a deep breath.

Deeper.

Be calm, and say it with me.

There are some fucking psychopaths out there who want to kill people.

Okay, so let’s apply everything we know. Murder is already illegal, and the law certainly isn’t preventing murder. People are murdered every single day. Not all of those people are murdered with guns. In fact, a fair portion of those people are murdered with hammers, baseball bats, crowbars, knives–whatever the murderer can get their hands on. Whatever the murderer can get their hands on.

Making it harder for these people to acquire guns is not going to stop them. What do you imagine happening? Do you think Marteen would have sat there in his apartment, thinking, “I sure would love to wage Jihad against the infidels and kill a bunch of gay people, but damn! I just can’t find a gun!”

Of course not. Such an argument is silly.

Radical Muslims have been using homemade bombs for ages, and the availability of guns and ammunition did not really make things easier for Marteen. It meant only that he had to do a little less legwork, but there is no chance that the inability to get a gun was going to stop him. And trying to prevent him from getting a gun is another red herring–a lot of people seem to not understand how extremely long American borders are.

Gun control requires a fence on both borders, and it requires illegal immigration to be totally and completely nipped in the bud. The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants (Note: I think borders are ridiculous, and think anyone who wants to come to our country should be allowed to, no questions asked–if they can get here, then… then they can get here.) are great, ordinary people, but you’re a fool if you think that smugglers aren’t using those very same channels to sneak drugs and weapons into the country. They simply are. No, these are not the same people trying to find a job at the Home Depot, but they are using the same channels and coming from the same place, and you cannot stop one without stopping the other. If one is possible, then both are possible.

Nor do we even have the resources or manpower to station someone every 50 yards along both borders to make sure that no one is sneaking in guns–and they are sneaking in guns. You can buy unmodified AK-47s in the United States. You just have to know where to go. Gangs in Chicago know where to go. Don’t get into the habit of denying these realities; you will never fix the problem if you deny the facts. And I’m not making a judgment assessment of this. I’m simply pointing out that: it is the case. So even if we outlawed all guns and confiscated everyone’s guns, it really wouldn’t be that difficult for Marteen to get one.

And if he, for some reason, couldn’t get a gun, he would have simply built a bomb. It’s not really that hard to do. And by that point, he obviously didn’t care about whether or not he was caught, so all cards were on the table; he was going to do whatever he had to do, because he wanted to kill people. No law was going to stop him.

When he walked into that club and opened fire, that is the exact moment when push came to shove. There is not a law that could be written that would have protected the people in that club when Marteen walked in and opened fire. Even if security guards and armed police officers had been stationed in that club, they would have been Marteen’s first targets, and he had the element of surprise. Even armed police officers being present would not have stood a chance of stopping Marteen before he gunned them down.

Fuck this asshole.

Under the “best” of circumstances, this disarmed population of 300 people would then have immediately called the police. And, after a 7-10 minute delay, police would have arrived outside the building. Meanwhile, Marteen and his guns are inside the building, with 300 innocent people who are being killed and held hostage. At the very least, there would have been more delay as the police prepared and executed a plan to take out Marteen. And we’re looking at 14-20 minutes with this maniac and his gun having totally free reign over everyone in that club.

What would have stopped him? A law obviously wouldn’t have. None of the present laws stopped him, after all. They were probably no more than inconveniences to him, and it is irrelevant how tight the laws could have been–criminals have spent all of human history finding ways around laws. See Prohibition, marijuana, abortion, homosexuality. So what would have stopped him?

Well… what did stop him?

A bullet.

Hours later, and after fifty people were dead and fifty more injured, someone was finally able to put a bullet into this piece of shit. Is it not obvious? Is it not inescapably clear? What we needed, what would have stopped Marteen and saved a bunch of lives, was if even 10% of the people in that club had been carrying their own weapons and knew how to use them. Marteen would have come in and pulled his shit, and absolutely people would still have died. As we’ve agreed, it was impossible to prevent. All we can do is minimize the damage. And as soon as these 10% of people realized what would happen, one of them would have put Marteen down.

How many lives might have been saved?

I’m not blaming the people in that club for not having guns or for not knowing how to use them. I’m simply pointing out that, yes, the presence of guns and a group of people who knew how to use them would have put the bullet in Marteen hours before the police finally did. His little escapade of terror would have been over very quickly, and it’s extraordinarily probable that fewer people would have died.

The question isn’t “How can we stop this from happening?”

It’s “How can we stop it when it happens?”

Because trying to answer the first question… is impossible. It simply can’t be done. Even a totalitarian police state with absolute control over its citizens wouldn’t be able to accomplish it. Even the Orwellian nightmare of Big Brother in 1984 wasn’t able to stop random criminal acts like those perpetrated by Goldstein. Focusing on that question leaves us distracted and not answering the real question:

How could lives have been saved?

That is the question. How could lives have been saved?