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A hard progressives take on the current gun debate

Basically this is an assembly of a few posts I wrote on the Voices facebook group in a gun ban discussion.

Summary - my key point is at the bottom, that republicans will just use a gun ban as a political football to appeal to the independents, the centrist dems, and to motovate their base. They will use gun bans as a key issue in the elections, may win, and will just overturn gun bans. They did it before.

So, a gun ban hands them a political opportunity, and plays to  their strengths.

I think we should instead impose heavy pigouvian taxes on guns, by class, with the heaviest taxes on military style weapons.

We should police gun crimes and gun incidents much more severely and strictly.

We should criminalize gun mishandling. Letting minors access guns unsupervised should be considered a crime. Gun accidents should be treated as crime.

We should be teaching gun wisdom and gun awareness, probably thru a series of well designed PSA's and television shows and other venues. Try to reduce the fear and paranoia, rather than increase it.

All of these things are constitutionally allowed, and will appeal to the rights love of punishment and morality theatre.


Excerpts from the group discussion

The problem is, simply repeating the well known arguments doesn't really further discussion, and has no effect on the issue.


Why not try to write a synthesis proposal? Or model out some parts of a synthesis?


It just seems a waste of an opportunity to simply repeat the existing arguments.


Ot does raise some difficult issues. the core of the right's argument, particularly with regards to military style weapons, is that private ownership is constitutionally guaranteed as a deterrent to tryanny.


One has to face the question of wether or not this is a legitimate interest and legitimate concern.


If it is a legitimate interest, then the conversation is entirely different than if it is not deemed a legitimate interest.


Then there are the problems of rage and paranoia - we talk about violent video games and movies - but don't talk about the rage and paranoia which is so deeply engrained in our culture.


And, we don't talk about war, and the casual way we accept the killing of other people's children but are shocked and horrified when our children get killed.


Anyways, it's probably a waste of time, chances are good we can't escape the limits of the tribal war.





I have my doubts that a collective boycott of fantasy violence is in any way likely.


(said in response to the suggestion that we could collectively boycott (as a nation) violent movies and video games.)


As a culture and civilization, we have a very poor sense of the roles violence places in our psyches and economies - and repression by taboo does not work very well.


My position is, we need to integrate the violence and violent impulses, try to raise the problem up into the light, not push it down into the darkness where it will fester and pop up at the worst possible times.


We, the best educated people in the world, presumably with the best developed and integrated psyches in the world, are uniquely positioned to lead and guide and facilitate this discussion.


But, well, we may have the most integrated psyches in the world, but that is just by comparison, our psyches may not be integrated enough to handle something primal like rage, paranoia, and violence - let alone lethal violence.


And, doomsday preppers is NatGeo's top rated and most profitable show, lol - talk about an eruption of rage and paranoia.




I think the statistics argument that Karl makes is a good one - what amount of average risk are we willing to accept, in exchange for a perceived good?


One of the comments often heard (after Sandy Hook), in some corners, was the irony that we happily accept the many many gun murders of brown kids in schoolyards parks and cities, none of which get much media coverage, as a cost of our drug war and violence-and-guns fetish - but we get really worked up when it's a bunch of affluent younger white kids, in a much smaller number collectively, but all shot at once, with huge media coverage.


How many mexican kids have been killed because we like having a war on drugs, while at the same time like being the world's largest consumer of south and central american pleasure drugs?


Is this rational, on our parts? Have we made a proper moral and ethical assessment? 


From a somewhat older article - I picked it because it was npr. 


"Fox said the homicide rate for blacks — especially teenagers — has risen steadily and across geographic regions. He said one reason could be the profound shift in priorities since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which means police departments have taken on homeland security duties — often at the expense of community policing.


"Now, I don't want to weigh one life against another, but when you look at it, many more people are murdered every single year in ordinary street violence than were killed on Sept. 11, 2001," Fox said.


Fox also said communities' complacency because of the overall decrease in crime may also be a factor. The study found the number of police officers in major cities has dropped more than 8 percent, and funding for crime prevention programs is down."




In theory, about gun control. Seems to be mostly a restatement of the right argument 'guns dont kill people blah blah'. But talks about about pur cultural denial and immaturity, and the law of unitended consequences.


"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sometimes those reactions take a while to have an impact. I have said for years that the idea to ban kegs in downtown State College, while seeming like a good idea at the time, has pushed many students to hard liquor. We’ve never addressed why they drink and how we can make that less attractive. We squeeze the balloon on one end and the other side stretches and breaks."




One of my concerns is that we may, through the law of unintended consequences, give the republicans a political football that they can easily use to motivate their base and flip the independents for a series of elections.


I think dem/progressives deeply under appreciate the fanaticism and violence of the repub/retrogressives.


I think we should go another route - which is, to strongly increase enforcement of gun crime, and make gun mishandling a crime. To focus on gun wisdom and awareness - for now.


By focusing on gun crime and gun mishandling and gun awareness, we use the right's strength, and their moral rage, AGAINST them. We cut away their base rather than giving them a political prize they can use against us for the next decade.


The constitution, and the repub/retrogressive moral codes, ALLOW us to focus on punishing gun mishandling, so we get the maximum benefit for the lowest cost.


We might also try a pigouvian tax. Tax guns in relation to their perceived risk to society. Also not unconstitutional, and also not something the the right moral code rejects - the right has been accepting of pigouvian taxes.


If all we do is a gun ban, what will happen is what happened before - the repubs will run candidates that promise to overturn the ban, and if they win, they will.

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