Should Consequences Be Considered?

One thing I’ve wrestled with, in thinking about whether our opponents on the gun control side of the debate are evil, misguided or just plain wrong (or some combination of the three), is the consequences of what they advocate. After all, “an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man,” so you’re putting an individual at some risk by taking away his ability to defend himself and his community against the criminal element, whether that criminal element comes under color of law or whether it is just commonly criminal.

It’s seriously business, restricting the tools of self-defense. To justify it to themselves, our opponents have tried to convince us that we’re misguided and paranoid, and that really, they only want to disarm us for our own good. They try to convince us they don’t want to do this, while trying to prevent us from exercising the right anywhere but our homes (and even there prior to Heller).

It is infantalizing, but America, since the first settlers hit Plymouth Rock, has always had an element that wanted to infantalize and control the population for their own good. It is a common streak through our history. Blacks were told slavery was for their own good. The Irish were told they were going to have to give up beer and whiskey for their own good. We were all told that people would go mad if we didn’t let the federal government ban reefer, among other things.

All these policies have grave and negative social consequences and have cost lives. All the people who advocated for them believed they were doing it for everyone’s own good. What was the mixture at work for these policies, between misguidedness and evil? I don’t think anyone can say for sure. Certainly slavery was evil. But were alcohol prohibitionists? People who advocate keeping drugs illegal? I think it’s much harder to say there. Since a great many Americans approve of these policies, there’s an awful lot of evil people out there if that’s the case. My grandmother, who had to live for many years with my alcoholic grandfather, was still to her dying day a believer in the value of prohibition, and I don’t think she was evil. Misguided, yes, but not evil.

I tend to think our opponents are more wrong and misguided than evil, though I do think their ideas are dangerous for a society that’s based on, and claims to value individual freedom.

13 thoughts on “Should Consequences Be Considered?”

  1. I’d agree that “wrong and misguided” is prevalent.

    I’d add that “incandescently ignorant” is, as well. See also, Miss Japete.

    But I’m not prepared to take “evil” completely off the table. There are certainly some to whom that adjective applies. I’m looking at you, John Rosenthal, you contemptible piece of garbage.

  2. I’m not sure it makes a difference what they are. What they do and what happens because of that is the important thing. If they were all simply evil statist control freaks things might be simpler. In any case the scenario reminds me of a favored quote.

    “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  3. “But were alcohol prohibitionists [evil]?”

    Well, Christ’s first miracle was making wine, and often used wine as a positive metaphor thereafter right up to the Last Supper. Abstention may be respected, advocacy of teetotaling unto bigotry misguided, but legislating and enforcing harm upon those who imbibe – and thus would jail God Himself – is evil.

  4. There are, I suspect, gun prohibitionists who are indeed evil–whose motivations are to make it easier to create a police state, or who want us all the be terrified of criminals, so we will more readily give into demands for an expanded welfare state. But I suspect that these are a vanishingly small fraction of our opponents.

    Far more typical is the person who has suffered a horrendous, completely unnecessary personal loss because someone used a gun criminally or (more rarely) negligently. Yes, I’m thinking of Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) when I write this.

    You can try and talk rationally to such a person, but their grief and their anger are going to win the battle inside their head every time. I deal with such people as compassionately as I can, by telling them that I understand their pain, their anger, their desire for a simple solution to what is often a very complex problem. (In the case of McCarthy, the intentional destruction of our mental health system in the 1960s was the base cause of the LIRR mass murder.)

    Where I get a bit exhausted is dealing with ideologues–the sorts who take a reasonable principle and then run wild with it.

    1. Guns are good, therefore everyone who is not in prison should be allowed to carry a submachine gun or hand grenades. (In the most extreme ideological cases: backpack nukes.)

    2. Attempts to restrict drugs produce severe problems of corruption and drug gang wars, therefore there should be no restrictions or even governmental discouragement of alcohol, marijuana, meth, heroin, cocaine, or tolulene (glue sniffing).

    3. Minors have human rights too. Therefore there should be no age of consent for sex, alcohol, drugs, body piercings, contracts, dropping out of school.

    All of these are wonderful theories. But an ounce of experience outweighs a pound of theory. That may be the reason that many libertarians become conservatives as they age, and those ounces of experience start to add up.

  5. “My grandmother, who had to live for many years with my alcoholic grandfather, was still to her dying day a believer in the value of prohibition, and I don’t think she was evil.”

    It’s amazing how living with such a tragedy changes your point of view. There’s a reason that Carry Nation became the symbol of militant prohibitionism: her first husband was an alcoholic.

  6. I agree. But, you must admit it’s serious business proliferating the availability of tools that end up in the wrong hands so easily. The consequences are great

    You can turn that whole argument around if you really wanted to understand who’s evil, misguided or just plain wrong.

    It always gets back to the question of do guns do more harm than good. You know what I think.

  7. Well, that’s the root of the fundamental argument. But even if you think they are a problem, we can’t uninvent the technology. It’s with us, whether we like it or not.

  8. The interesting thing about my grandmother was that she also told stories of when she was a little girl, how pretty much everyone on her block was making beer on weekends, so much so that the neighborhood smelled of a brewery.

  9. Most of the recipes used by home brewers today are derived from methods used during prohibition. Companies that made beer went into producing other malted produce, like malted milk, and malt extracts. Malt extracts are what you can make beer out of. It’s basically a malt syrup. Very sweet. Great for making candy if you have a recipe that calls for it. Perfectly legal during Prohibition. Lots of people must have been making candy in those days, since the bulk containers you could buy the stuff in were hard to come by in supermarkets.

    And you don’t think they’ll do the same thing with guns? They may not product Glocks in huge numbers, but it’s not terribly difficult to make a simple zip gun.

  10. But, you must admit it’s serious business proliferating the availability of tools that end up in the wrong hands so easily.

    There speaks the voice of experience, right MikeB302000?

    So, what law do you propose or support that would have stopped you from acquiring firearms illegally?

    What you wont’ admit is that no law will impact those wrong hands more then they will impact the law abiding.

    So, you either want the law abiding disarmed or you want to keep letting criminals break the law; which is it MikeB302000?

    The consequences are great

    Wrong, the consequences can be great depending on the person who ends up with the firearm.

    Some people simply own firearms illegally for protection (Was that why you illegally purchased them?) while others use them to commit violent crime.

    Again, the problem isn’t the firearm or the availability but the nature of the person using them.

    You know what I think.

    The problem becomes what you think can’t be backed up by fact, statistics or evidence.

    If I said that I think bloggers going by MikeB302000 shouldn’t be allowed to exercise their right to free speech; should that be enough to curtail your right?

    Absolutely not.

    Your thoughts are contrary to reality. Americans own more guns, more Americans own firearms; yet firearm related violent crime is going down even firearm related homicide, firearm related injuries are going down.

    Maybe it’s time for you to do something my father used to tell me when I was wrong about something — “Think Again”.

  11. “I agree. But, you must admit it’s serious business proliferating the availability of tools that end up in the wrong hands so easily.”

    You might ask why this became a major problem in the 1990s, but it was not a major problem in the 1950s. Hint: serious crimes were severely punished, so there was both deterrent and preventative effects. In addition, a much larger fragment of the psychotic fraction of the population was hospitalized in the 1950s.

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