The Gun Politics Thread

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eumaas
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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 3:28am

101Walterton wrote:You win. You drew me in to what I knew would be a completely pointless fantasy ridden load of bollocks dressed up as a 'gun debate'.
Christ, you're the mirror image of Steve.

Well, at least Steve cited studies.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by 101Walterton » 16 Mar 2009, 3:48am

eumaas wrote:
101Walterton wrote:You win. You drew me in to what I knew would be a completely pointless fantasy ridden load of bollocks dressed up as a 'gun debate'.
Christ, you're the mirror image of Steve.

Well, at least Steve cited studies.
Nice dig. I'll stick to living in the real world, I can't have a logical discussion with you whilst you claim to need a gun to protect you from the government. I dont know who or what you are trying to portray yourself as however you are far more likely to need it when the bailiffs come knocking for your overdue library books.

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 4:14am

I've attempted to be less snarky than you throughout this, but your mischaracterization of me and my positions is obscene.
101Walterton wrote:
eumaas wrote:
101Walterton wrote:You win. You drew me in to what I knew would be a completely pointless fantasy ridden load of bollocks dressed up as a 'gun debate'.
Christ, you're the mirror image of Steve.

Well, at least Steve cited studies.
Nice dig. I'll stick to living in the real world, I can't have a logical discussion with you whilst you claim to need a gun to protect you from the government. I dont know who or what you are trying to portray yourself as however you are far more likely to need it when the bailiffs come knocking for your overdue library books.
No, you can't have a logical discussion full stop as you seem to be willfully avoiding such a thing and seem to either wholly misunderstand or purposefully misrepresent your opponent's posts.

I haven't portrayed myself as anything in particular. My reference to the threat of government has consistently been a reference to the general threat the state poses to everyone. The four cases of government massacres of American citizens were used to illustrate this point, as well as the case of the teenage girl abused by police (and that link in turn can send you on to other cases of similar abuse). You do not seem to be living in the real world as the idea of a government killing its citizens seems wholly unfamiliar and preposterous to you. I don't understand how you could have lived to middle age without hearing about the Kent State shootings, police brutality, or Tienanmen Square etc., but I guess you've had the happy accident of doing so. I don't know what sort of windmills you're tilting at and what sort of straw men you're burning, but you seem to not understand my position at all despite post after post explicating it.

You also don't seem to understand the concept that a group (say the armed American populace) is composed of individuals (the armed American individual). You favor a gun ban. That means disarming the group. Disarming the group means disarming every individual, which would include me for example. I started from the right to self-defense, which applies to every individual who isn't aggressing against another. That whole argument formed one part of my ethical objection to the gun ban. That side of the broader argument works wholly on an individual level, which means a personal level, but it universalizes to a group as the group is composed of individuals each possessing the same universal natural right to self-defense. The second side of the argument has to do with exercising self-defense against government as a group. It's much easier to do this with guns than it is without. Just to make this clear, a gun ban would mean taking guns out of the hands of the populace and restricting the possession and use of guns to the enforcement arms of the state, i.e. the police and the military.

You said something to the effect of me having a gun would mean nothing against the government should it decide to oppress the people. Well, if you assume they'd only come after me, and I'd be the only one defending myself, then yes, I would die in short order. But that's not how it works when governments turn oppressive. People form resistance movements. Read about the French Resistance against the Nazis. I cited guerrilla warfare as an example of effective resistance against a larger enemy--try reading about Cuba, Vietnam, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq. There is also the extraordinary case of Simo Häyhä who was able to kill over 500 Soviet soldiers with a simple bolt-action rifle. I provided a link so you could verify that fact, but if you want to deny it, then you can feel free to live in a fantasy world as those were confirmed kills, recognized the time by both the Finnish and Soviet militaries and now by historians.

I was in no way suggesting I am anything like Simo Häyhä; I do not have anywhere near his level of expertise. You have to fucking twist and twist what I said to even get the idea that I was "portraying" myself as that. I cited him as an example of what one individual with relatively minimal support can do against a trained army. These are all citations relevant to the topic of a smaller force resisting a larger, more powerful force. If the US government turned fascist and started oppressing its people (more than it already oppresses them, but that's another topic), you can bet your ass that a resistance movement would spring up. American individuals, as part of that group called the American populace (are you still following me here?), who are armed will have an easier time of violently resisting this oppressive government.

But whatever. I'm sure the government always knows best, and if it decided to start killing innocent people, it would be their own damn fault. Right, Wally?

Oh, and as far as overdue library books, I don't have any. Five days a week I work a job, earn my wage, and buy the books I want to read. See, I believe that applying reason and seeking knowledge and wisdom is a good thing, so I read books and papers and follow the news and try to learn something new every day. I don't just believe that vague feelings are all that matter and that asserting a feeling is the only form of "logical discussion." I don't believe that I'm correct by the virtue of my feelings. I challenge each one of my opinions on a regular basis and actively seek out opposing material so I can see if I'm holding to a view on the basis of its own merit or just because of my feelings. This has led to an uncomfortable process where over the course of six years my opinions have changed radically. I have tested and rejected many beliefs. How many times have you managed to change your mind on something, Wally? Was it because of feelings, or because of facts and rational argument? I'm refining, revising, and rejecting all the time because I believe truth and wisdom are ends in themselves. Reason is a virtue. Try to practice it sometime.
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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by Inder » 16 Mar 2009, 7:18am

<snip> People form resistance movements. Read about the French Resistance against the Nazis. I cited guerrilla warfare as an example of effective resistance against a larger enemy--try reading about Cuba, Vietnam, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq.
I think your position is theoretically sound but utterly untenable in practice within the current Western context. Where were the militias when Cheney put the constitution through a shredder? When there were fucking teams of covert assassins whose alleged targets included American citizens reporting to the VP? When Bush set himself up as what political figures are increasingly describing as a dictator?

I haven't gone to any of the links you've posted (just been skimming, tbh) but I'd be interested if you could name any specific incidents where private gun ownership did anything to prevent your government from doing whatever it wanted to.

It's one thing to believe that you should have the right to own guns, but the whole "to protect us from the government" line of argument annoys me. We've become so deeply entrenched in the constructs that govern society that I honestly think that it doesn't matter whether you have guns or not. It just doesn't work like that anymore. Tanks and missiles, on the other hand, would be quite useful to a resistance movement.

IMHO, of course.

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 8:15am

Thanks for the intelligent response. I was worried the thread might die after my late night rant above. By the way, people should check out that wiki article on gun politics--loads of links to studies. I think now we're kind of straying into different territory, but I'm OK with that.

Inder wrote:I think your position is theoretically sound but utterly untenable in practice within the current Western context. Where were the militias when Cheney put the constitution through a shredder? When there were fucking teams of covert assassins whose alleged targets included American citizens reporting to the VP? When Bush set himself up as what political figures are increasingly describing as a dictator?

I haven't gone to any of the links you've posted (just been skimming, tbh) but I'd be interested if you could name any specific incidents where private gun ownership did anything to prevent your government from doing whatever it wanted to.
I'm skeptical that it actually works as a deterrent against government intrusion, just for the reasons you've listed. I believe that the state will grab for power at any opportunity, just as it's doing right now. The US government is more powerful now than it's ever been. Since 9/11 we've dropped into a bizarre world.
It's one thing to believe that you should have the right to own guns, but the whole "to protect us from the government" line of argument annoys me. We've become so deeply entrenched in the constructs that govern society that I honestly think that it doesn't matter whether you have guns or not. It just doesn't work like that anymore. Tanks and missiles, on the other hand, would be quite useful to a resistance movement.
It's certainly possible that the masses would capitulate to fascism. It's been a trend for the public to go along with the empire builders and centralists. No argument there. Bush eroded the hell out of our protections, and the Bush-Obama bipartisan partial nationalization scheme is part and parcel of the same erosion. The logic behind that sort of thing is inexorable.

However, I don't think we can dismiss resistance with common firearms altogether. Even if the majority capitulates, I can't imagine there wouldn't be some folks willing to violently resist, and while tanks and missiles would be great, that's no argument for taking rifles, shotguns, and pistols out of circulation. If your enemy has revolvers and you have knives, and you don't have access to revolvers, you don't chuck the knives and use sharp sticks instead. People like Simo Häyhä certainly show how much can be done with an ordinary rifle and small scale support. I think an actual resistance movement would rely more on explosives than guns, though.

I think the military might of the United States is somewhat overstated. Yes, it's huge and quite powerful, but the US has run into such a terrible time over in Afghanistan and Iraq, and besides that, operating within your own borders puts constraints on the level of violence to which you can escalate.

I didn't sleep so this is very scattered. I have in mind some papers and the like I've read on this subject, and if you'd like I can track them down for you?
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 8:21am

And lest anybody think I'm fetishizing violence, here is a list of some successful nonviolent resistance movements:
http://www.hermanos.org/nonviolence/nvhistor.html
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 8:48am

The best arguments for gun bans I've seen use empirical evidence and utilitarian ethics. Since I reject utilitarianism across the board, I'm never convinced, but they're certainly good arguments. I just can't sign on for utilitarianism as I believe it can be used to excuse anything depending on the measure of good.

For people who aren't into ethics, a utilitarian believes that sacrifice is fine if it secures the greatest good for the greatest number. So you can (in an extreme case) kill innocent people if that would save the world from destruction. A deontologist, on the other hand, sees each individual as an end in herself, and so (again, extreme) wouldn't sacrifice innocent people for the sake of saving the world from destruction (and I think would argue that there is an alternative solution, just not immediately apparent, that would save the world without killing the innocent). I'm actually a virtue-ethics guy, which sort of harmonizes both, but that's a little too complicated to describe so just think of me as a deontologist. Hey kids, pull out your copy of Watchmen and figure out which characters at the end favor utilitarianism and which favor deontology/individual rights!

Anyway:
A utilitarian might see the gun ban as taking inherently harmful things out of circulation such that crazy and angry people don't have it as a first option. A deontologist (a person who believes in individual rights) might see the gun ban as the state, itself an armed entity, stepping in and violating the inalienable right of self-defense. That's why we kind of talk past each other.

I don't think deontological arguments for gun control work because deontology's respect for the individual means that it kind of cheats to allow the state, and recognizing that just leads to philosophical anarchism and anarchism renders the question rather moot as it's illegitimate for the state to do anything.

That said, very few Americans are pure deontologists, so I think a utilitarian argument might hold some sway. However, if you want to get this gun control thing through, you have to address the constitution hurdle. It'd need to be amended, and I don't know if that can happen.

EDIT: Christ, I'm sleep deprived. Sorry for all this jumbly mess. I was up very late reading econ papers and rolled into work without a moment of sleep.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by Dr. Medulla » 16 Mar 2009, 9:37am

Inder wrote:
<snip> People form resistance movements. Read about the French Resistance against the Nazis. I cited guerrilla warfare as an example of effective resistance against a larger enemy--try reading about Cuba, Vietnam, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq.
I think your position is theoretically sound but utterly untenable in practice within the current Western context. Where were the militias when Cheney put the constitution through a shredder? When there were fucking teams of covert assassins whose alleged targets included American citizens reporting to the VP? When Bush set himself up as what political figures are increasingly describing as a dictator?

I haven't gone to any of the links you've posted (just been skimming, tbh) but I'd be interested if you could name any specific incidents where private gun ownership did anything to prevent your government from doing whatever it wanted to.

It's one thing to believe that you should have the right to own guns, but the whole "to protect us from the government" line of argument annoys me. We've become so deeply entrenched in the constructs that govern society that I honestly think that it doesn't matter whether you have guns or not. It just doesn't work like that anymore. Tanks and missiles, on the other hand, would be quite useful to a resistance movement.

IMHO, of course.
Were you accessing my PM's last night, Big Brother? You cover a lot of what I mentioned last night privately. You also allude to what I described as the other slippery slope. That is, if banning access to assault rifles, for example, is the first step to banning all firearms, as the pro-gun side sometimes suggests, if accepting the premise that a person has the right to a gun under the principle of self-defense, why should it stop at guns? Shouldn't a person be able to own a bazooka, a flame thrower, plant landmines all over their property, equip their yard with rocket launchers, or armoured vehicles? If the principle is that more weapons leads to greater security or that a person has the right to take any steps to maintain their security, then there should be no limits. And, as you suggest at the start, while theoretically sound, in practice it's obviously ridiculous. And that's where the obsession with guns has gotten the US—a theoretically sound principle of self-defense, but in practice one that has only encouraged paranoia and violence. Theory and principle is fine, but people don't live in theory.
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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 9:46am

Why can't a man own a nuke? Well, at the heart is proportionality. Walter Block explores a theory of geographic proportionality here:
http://www.walterblock.com/publications ... ontrol.pdf
This is a very interesting piece and well worth reading and considering.

Michael Wiebe outlines the case against gun control from the position of individual rights based in self-ownership and draws on Block:
http://libertariananarchy.com/articles/ ... n-control/
This is also worth reading.

EDIT: The libertarian case against owning a nuke is the same against war: the less it can be pinpointed and the more likely it is to spill over and kill innocents, the less permissible it is as a weapon. See here for a typical libertarian case against war.
Last edited by eumaas on 16 Mar 2009, 9:49am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by BostonBeaneater » 16 Mar 2009, 9:48am

I like guns. I rarely see guns in day to day life unless it is on a cop's belt. Cars, tobacco, and drunks kill a lot of people too but I'd be damned if the government tried to tell me I can't have them. It's an ugly world and bad stuff happens. Most of the bad stuff would never be heard about without the media commanding you to be outraged.

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 9:53am

BostonBeaneater wrote:I like guns. I rarely see guns in day to day life unless it is on a cop's belt. Cars, tobacco, and drunks kill a lot of people too but I'd be damned if the government tried to tell me I can't have them. It's an ugly world and bad stuff happens. Most of the bad stuff would never be heard about without the media commanding you to be outraged.

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by BostonBeaneater » 16 Mar 2009, 9:55am

eumaas wrote:
BostonBeaneater wrote:I like guns. I rarely see guns in day to day life unless it is on a cop's belt. Cars, tobacco, and drunks kill a lot of people too but I'd be damned if the government tried to tell me I can't have them. It's an ugly world and bad stuff happens. Most of the bad stuff would never be heard about without the media commanding you to be outraged.

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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 10:04am

I wouldn't hold to an individual rights position if it were silly.

You can't own a nuke, and it's also illegitimate for you to shoot somebody if they step on your grass. The best option there is to just yell "get off my lawn!" You also can't invite someone into your home and then kill him for being there. The invitation changes things. You can change your mind and eject the person, though. Now, breaking into your house is different in kind. I think it can be legitimate to respond to such an act with deadly force even if the trespasser is unarmed, but I would advise caution as it's easy to make a mistake in such circumstances. If you know the person is unarmed, and they don't go on to attack you or brandish an object, i.e. if he is clearly subdued by you as you brandish a weapon, it's illegitimate to kill him as he has aggressed against your property but not your person and isn't posing much of a threat so long as you've got the gun trained on him. If someone aggresses against your property by trying to burn down your house, it's legitimate to use deadly force against her**. Proportionality, common sense.



EDIT: ** I've had a woman threaten to burn down my house, but I probably wouldn't shoot her even if she did.
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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by Dr. Medulla » 16 Mar 2009, 10:18am

BostonBeaneater wrote:I like guns. I rarely see guns in day to day life unless it is on a cop's belt. Cars, tobacco, and drunks kill a lot of people too but I'd be damned if the government tried to tell me I can't have them. It's an ugly world and bad stuff happens. Most of the bad stuff would never be heard about without the media commanding you to be outraged.
More bad stuff seems to happen in the US when it comes to gun violence than in countries with tighter gun laws. It's one thing to acknowledge that a lot of awful stuff happens in the world, but another to facilitate it.

As for the media "commanding" me to be outraged, that's a rather dim view of our discerning abilities. If, in fact, the media wanted people to be outraged, they'd run stories non-stop every day about each and every one of the thousands of gun deaths in the US. Just constantly, numbingly, from every county in the country. To the contrary, when I watch American local news broadcasts, apart from the sensational ones like Columbine, what's striking is how blasé the news stories are about gun violence. It's routine and anything but shocking.
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Re: The Gun Politics Thread

Post by eumaas » 16 Mar 2009, 10:27am

Brazil has tighter gun laws and 25% more gun deaths than the US, despite having a smaller population. I'm not sure about the relative strictness of their laws vis-à-vis European nations, however, so they could still be relatively lax while more restrictive than the US.

There's also the case of Switzerland, which has a high gun ownership rate and low gun crime. I don't think the ownership rate and the low gun crime exist in a causal relationship, but I think it demonstrates that high ownership doesn't automatically equal high gun crime.


EDIT: Missed a word!
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

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