Gun Laws and Other Acts of Folly

This is several days old, but since I greatly enjoyed David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge: The Dismantling of American Culture (Have you not read it? You must), it would be remiss of me not to link his brilliant, hilarious essay for the Daily Beast, “Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm.” It contains many useful arguments about the nonsense surrounding the gun control debate, such as this oft-quote graph:

The Left loves a phantom statistic that a firearm in the hands of a citizen is X times more likely to cause accidental damage than to be used in the prevention of crime, but what is there about criminals that ensures that their gun use is accident-free? If, indeed, a firearm were more dangerous to its possessors than to potential aggressors, would it not make sense for the government to arm all criminals, and let them accidentally shoot themselves? Is this absurd? Yes, and yet the government, of course, is arming criminals.

Of course they are. Because if it was not a perverse unintended consequence, the government would not be doing it. To wit:

All of us have had dealings with the State, and have found, to our chagrin, or, indeed, terror, that we were not dealing with well-meaning public servants or even with ideologues but with overworked, harried bureaucrats. These, as all bureaucrats, obtain and hold their jobs by complying with directions and suppressing the desire to employ initiative, compassion, or indeed, common sense. They are paid to follow orders.

This is the truth the progressive cannot admit. Forever they call for “sensible” laws, “reasonable” regulations, emphasizing the adjective in unspoken testimony to their own sense and reasonability, even though they may have little or no knowledge about the law passed or the thing to be regulated. Then the law and regulation is handed over to an indifferent functionary who knows perfectly well that if he fails utterly to achieve a goal, his superiors will insist that lack of funding is to blame. Forms will be filled out, and reports will be filed, and we will be exactly where we were the day before. Except the paper Leviathan will be that bit bigger, and we that bit less free, just as fifty years of Drug War has made drugs exactly as available as they were in 1960, except for the massive expenditure, slow erosion of the Fourth Amendment, and a prison population to rival Stalin at his most paranoid.

Such a thing can not be explained as public policy. It even strains ideology. There is something deeper in this, a surrender to fear that I remember the Left warning us about incessantly after 9/11. This bespeaks and emotional need to “do something” when tragedy strikes, and an almost willful ignorance of whether the thing done will accomplish anything at all.

An “assault weapons” ban will not prevent a single murder from happening on the streets of Baltimore tomorrow. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that. It will not prevent a single robbery. It will not prevent a single rape. And it will not prevent a single mass shooting from happening anywhere in the country. And when that mass shooting happens, as it will, we will fall all over ourselves being sensible and reasonable and attempt to ratchet up the regulations a step further, like Johnson dropping ever more and more bombs on North Vietnam, because what’s been missing is more of the same.



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