The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, September 07, 2007

On gun control, continued

Yesterday's post dealt with the right of governments like D. C.'s to pass gun control legislation. Today's deals with the desirability of such legisltion. For it's certainly constitutional to pass a lot of laws that make no sense, and many gun nuts attack gun-control laws on various grounds purporting to show that they are undesirable. On the other hand, I feel that we need gun control, probably stricter controls than anything on the books now, but certainly not the lax laws in, say, Virginia.
  1. First we have the "If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns" argument. When I first saw this one, I was inclined to simply dismiss it, saying, "Of course. They'll be outlaws because they have guns." But of course, what they mean, and I do need to address the point, is that criminals will find it easy to get guns and circumvent any laws. My position is that criminals can get guns by one of two means: by buying them and by stealing them. If guns are not available to the public, but are only sold directly by the manufacturer to police departments and the Army (or other branches of the military), then criminals cannot pretend to be legitimate purchasers and buy firearms. And if there are no privately-owned guns, who are criminals going to steal them from? Certainly, a police department or military base that is so incompetent that they cannot guard their firearm storeroom against theft has no business existing.
  2. Second, we have the "If a criminal attacks us, we need guns for self-defense" argument. I've seen this put forth by people after the Virginia Tech shootings, where they actually claim that the killer would not have been able to take out so many victims if some of the students had been armed. First of all, does anyone really think that college students (known for binge drinking, fraternity hazing, general prank-playing, and the like) could be relied upon to restrict their gun usage to legitimate self-defense? Second of all, how many of them have the knowledge to use a gun properly, and not hit fellow-students or their professor while attempring to shoot at the attacker? Getting away from the college situation, if people have guns lying around their home, do they really have the self-control to make sure that someone is really an intruder before shooting? I shudder to think of a case where someone hears a noise in the house in the middle of the night, gets out his gun, goes to confront the "intruder," and shoots his kid getting in from a late date, or his wife going to the kitchen for a midnight snack. These scenarios are far more likely than the noise being from a real criminal entry.
  3. Finally, we have the extreme libertarian argument that "We need to protect ourselves from a government that wants to enslave us, and so we can't rely on the government police to be our servants." I say, if you're really bent on a revolution, no laws enacted by the government matter, so this argument is not worth trying to counter.

I favor freedom, but not anarchy. And I really don't think anyone needs a gun (except if he's in the military or the police).

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