On guns and gun control

This post will seem a bit out of place on this blog. It’s more of a philosophical discussion than anything related to things I’d say I’m actually interested in.

The reason I post this is because one of the things I’m interested in is history. And everyone who has ever studied history has noticed that some of the most remarkable moments in history, for better or for worse, have been wars.

Sure, many major human developments have come out of long, slow processes, where major groups of people around the world have collaborated to bring us where we are today. But in many situations sudden, abrupt change was caused by wars.

Wars have shaped history. Few people can deny that wars are bad: people die (a lot of people die). But sometimes in the aftermath of these wars positive changes happen: people realize that the original reason for the war was definitely not worth killing other people for, and humanity evolves (or so we hope).

Anyway, since one of the things I’m interested in is history, and therefore wars, I will publish articles related to history, wars, and even weapons used during these wars. Including guns.

So before everyone thinks of me as a “gun enthusiast”, I’ll try to clarify my position regarding weapons in general and guns in particular.

TL;DR:

I think that violence is morally wrong. In the interaction between two people, if you have to use violence, you’ve already lost the dispute. Killing people, as the worst form of violence, is obviously wrong.

As a result of this philosophy I think that weapons are awful devices and every time you think about any “wonderful” weapon you also think about the horrendous results of using this “wonderful” weapon against real people and the awful destruction and suffering this weapon has done.

The only two scenarios where I think using violence is allowed:

  • self-defense
  • preemptive violence against a party with a known history of violence in similar situations (and when I say known, I mean “convicted” or at least “widely known in the community for violence”)

Also, facilitating violence is also morally wrong. Violence is an innate human trait but its impact can be minimized. One of the best ways to minimize it is to restrict access to advanced weapons.

Anyway, getting back on track.

Despite the horrible use of weapons, the little boy inside me can’t avoid admiring the sophistication of weapons. It’s incredible what levels humankind has achieved in developing better and better tools to kill other humans. Just stop and think for a second. One of the most famous projects in human history, chock-full of Nobel winning physicians and chemists and scientists in general, the Manhattan Project, had as its goal the development of the “weapon to end all wars”. The highest known concentration of IQs in history in the middle of a desert, working around the clock to develop the greatest weapon of them all.

That’s why I’ll post quite a bit of articles about interesting weapons, especially ones used in the past.

If all you wanted to know was: “why is this guy publishing so many articles about weapons and guns?”, then that’s it. The rest is just a rant about things I’ve read, seen and listened to regarding gun control in the US. You can safely ignore the rest of the article :smile:

However, despite my admiration for weapons (and guns), I can’t really approve with some policies in some countries that allow the population at large access to weapons. The elephant in the room is obviously the United States.

The United States constitution has an amendment, the Second Amendment, regarding the right of individuals to have guns. As far as I understand, this amendment was meant to provide a method for ordinary citizens to organize themselves in militias and fight the government if it ever became tyrannical. Sort of like the American Revolution.

So that was the start. The current is situation is this: 112 weapons per 100 US citizens in 2014. I come from a country with quite strong gun control laws, according to the same source we had 0.7 weapons per 100 Romanian citizens in 2014.

What follows is obviously my opinion, but I personally think that the Second Amendment is obsolete. The reason the amendment was created no longer exists. The historical basis for it being created was the American Revolution, which was a guerrilla war waged by armed militias very familiar with their own land against the government of a colonial empire thousands of kilometers away, during a period when communication because this colony and the homeland took months.

The revolution also succeeded in good part because of foreign support (French one comes to mind especially, see Lafayette).

Today, against a resolute tyrannical government, armed with good knowledge of the territory, modern lines of communications, a well equipped army and without external support, I think that it’s impossible for any militia to win a war. If someone could provide an example of an internal uprising which toppled a powerful government with 0 external support, please point it to me, I’m always interested in learning more :smile:

Guns are no longer enough in the modern day. And starting a cottage military industry comparable with the state controlled ones is almost impossible.

As a result, the original reasoning for ordinary citizens having guns is basically gone.

There are three other valid reasons pro-gun people mention:

Preexisting rights

This is a right that has been granted by the US Constitution and people have been enjoying it for as long as the US has been around. I find this reasoning invalid. Rights can be withdrawn when people decide that there are more drawbacks than advantages to having them. Take smoking. Completely unrestricted a hundred years ago, not so today.

Sports and fun

This is actually the most valid reason I encountered. However, you can also have fun with BB guns and other less lethal shooting devices. Also “fun” as a factor does not seem to be a valid reason to own a killing machine such as a semi-automatic machine gun. Especially when that gun can do a lot of damage in the wrong hands. If you want “fun”, just find something like football, basketball, extreme sports or whatever everyone else does without greatly endangering the communities we are part of.

Plus, gun control does not mean “gun ban”. It means:

  • extensive background checks when giving a gun permit
  • extensive psych evaluations when getting the gun and every 5-10 years afterwards
  • mandatory training at least as long as driving school about gun safety and psychological factors involving guns

Protection

This is the most insidious argument. “The US is a dangerous place”. Well, I’d apply the “5 whys” or “Toyota method”.

  • “The US is a dangerous place”.
  • “Why?
  • “Because there are a lot of violent individuals.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because…”

The point is to get to the root cause and tackle that directly.

Some examples of some possible lines of questions/answers:

  • “Because of drug trafficking.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because a lot of people are making a lot of money from drugs.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because some communities have no sources of income.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because of still existing segregation and racism.”

Then tackle that. Out of the developed countries the US has one of the highest inequality levels. Gini Index Map ^(When you’re on par with Russia, China and Madagascar and below Afghanistan, something is wrong.)

Or:

  • “Because of drug trafficking.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because a lot of people are making a lot of money from drugs.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because the police is inefficient at catching them.”
  • “Why?”
  • “Because the police is understaffed and jails are full.”

Then, again, tackle that. Increase the budget for the police, legalize lighter drugs, change the drug policy from criminal action against users to helping them as you would help anyone with psychological issues.

Anyway, enough with all the serious comments, here’s something a bit funnier about the topic:

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Personal opinions about history, news, computers and programming.