Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Armed Society

There have been a few shootings in Denver lately. In one incident, two cars were firing at each other, and a bullet hit an eight-year-old girl playing nearby. She'll live, fortunately. The police caught the shooter, and a local TV station interviewed him in jail, where he's all weepy and remorseful, explaining to us that it wasn't intentional, that he would never have shot at a little girl. He, his girlfriend, and their eight-month-old daughter had been in a nearby park when he got into an argument with some men, one of whom is his cousin. He, his girlfriend, and their daughter left, but as they were getting ready to drive away, his cousin pulled up beside them.

"And he pulled out a gun," the weepy perp told the camera, mimicking putting his hand in his pocket and pulling out a gun. "Like this! So what was I supposed to do? I had to protect my family. I had my little girl in the back seat. I couldn't just pull over and let him shoot at me. So I pulled out my gun." Mimicks pulling gun from pocket, pointing it. "I put it out the window and went bam, bam, bam, just like that." Bursts into tears again. "I didn't mean to hurt the little girl! It wasn't intentional! I'd never do that!" He was just trying to kill a grownup, which would have been okay.

Libertarians like to say that an armed society is a polite society, quoting one of their heroes, Robert H. Heinlein. Noooo. An armed society is a society splashed with blood, littered with corpses, and filled with broken hearts.

In my ideal society, neither of those men would have had a gun. And each of them would have had a vasectomy.

Update: On the way to work this morning (Thursday, 6/26), I saw a local paper in a vending box with a headline reading that the shooter in the above story has a felony (conviction?) and therefore should not have been able to get a gun. This illustrates a whole separate problem. We need to agree on what laws to have, but they also have to be enforced; gun control laws seem to be particularly susceptible to not being enforced.

Update 2: This evening (also Thursday), there was a story about a local one-car accident. The car rolled multiple times, for some reason. The driver was thrown out and severely injured. But the car then rolled into the path of a freight train and was smooshed. So if he had been wearing his seatbelt, he'd have been smooshed too! From which we conclude that drivers shouldn't wear seatbelts, right? No. We conclude that that driver was a very, very lucky idiot. The relevance is that whenever someone does defend himself against bad guys with a handgun, certain types say that that shows that handguns are the best defense for the individual, and never mind the far greater number of innocents who get killed by idiots or bad guys with guns. I call that the Adolescent Red Dawn Fantasy Bullshit argument.


Travis Erwin said...

Sad story and I agree with you about eh vasectomy, but not necessarily the guns.

I'm all for responsible gun ownership and I realize not everyone is responsible but you can't stop stupid and an idiot behind the wheel is capable of just as much if not more destruction than one behind the trigger. Yet no one ever advocates banning cars.

Of course I expect a counter argument from you as well so I'll check back. It has been a while since I've been in a debate with a lively and intelligent fellow such as yourself.

David said...

Travis, thanks for reacting that way. This is one of those subjects that ... well, ya never know!

I'm not naive about banning guns. I'd like it to happen, but I know that the result would be like Prohibition and the evil War on Drugs. Maybe worse, since the equivalent of secret drinkers and drug users would, by definition, be armed.

The comparison with cars is appropriate. We accept the need for regulations and rules regarding cars, and I would grudgingly accept the equivalent -- adequate laws regarding ownership, trafficking, licensing, tracking, etc.

I'd expect arguments over the details, but I'm astonished at those who insist there be no regulation at all. Depressingly often, they quote the second half of the Second Amendment and a Hollywood version of American history to support their position.

Travis Erwin said...

As a hunter and a guy who tried to be a responsible gun owner I think the key lies in education. I'd actually liek to see some kind of mandatory exposure to guns for all teenagers. A real honest look at what a fired bullet can do.

Video games and movie scenes where people fire countless rounds without anything happening give a false sense. A kid who grows up hunting knows the power of a bullet. He understands what goes on after the bullet leaves a gun. Maybe we should treat it like health class. Show what a bullet does to a body in impact.

Lahdeedah said...

I think there should be stronger regulations.
There are too many innocent people who get killed, yet those innocent people oh how DARE they suggest that we perhaps take the means to 'accidentally' shoot people away... yeesh.

However, saying that, I do believe there are responsible gun owners. What I don't understand is, why aren't more responsible gun owners fighting for more regulations?

David said...

lahdeedah, I've met some responsible gun owners who want more regulations, but the NRA seems to be able to drown them out.

travis, that's an interesting point about video games. The standard explanation for a long time was that violent movies had desensitized people to the real effects of violence. But as you say, in video games, the player actually does the shooting, but with no real, awful effects. I like your idea of including such education in health classes.

Mydadisdeath said...

so lahdeedah your saying a mobster who got caughtand has gone straight get to carry no protection from his old mab enimies? that seems extremely unfair. we have a right to protect ourselves.

David said...

mydadisdeath, I've never seen the debate couched in terms of the needs of mobsters who've turned. That's an interesting and curious approach.

But seriously, that's what the Witness Protection Program is supposed to be for.

Mydadisdeath said...

so they get to take one loved one and leave the rest of their family freinds behind? look it up they can only take one person.

And what if the judge decides that said mobster doesnt qualify for witness protection?

David said...

I'll assume you're serious. I don't think we can base a national debate about such a serious issue on the problems of former mobsters who have turned against the mob.

At the same time, I'd have no problem, if we did have strict gun control, with allowing certain individuals to be armed. That would open up opportunities for fraud and graft, of course, which is another can of worms. I don't have a magic answer. I don't feel that not having regulation is the answer, however.

Mydadisdeath said...

ok not mobsters then what about the one inside man in almost every organization that the authorities manage to get to work for them? in most major smuggling busts they play an important role.

i have no social life i read lots of stuff. :)