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A Sober and Objective Summation of The Media Response to the NRA Presser…

“Guns are Bad. M’kay?

The NRA defends guns. They’re bad. Because Guns are bad. M’kay?

Putting armed guards in schools is bad. Because they’ll have guns. And Guns are bad. M’kay?

The Second Amendment is real bad.

Because the NRA likes the NRA. And the NRA is bad, so the Second Amendment must be bad.

Don’t be bad; don’t have guns, or like guns, or support guns. Then you’ll be bad. Because Guns are bad.


Micheal Moore and the Musket Fallacy

In 1789, the best available military technology was the musket. It was a cumbersome weapon by today’s standards, and had an involved process to load and fire.

However, it was not quite as slow to load as it would appear to modern eyes. A trained soldier, commiting the steps of the process to muscle memory, could be quite a quick shot.

This weapon is the Brown Bess Musket, the standard British infantry weapon for centuries. It had an effective range of about 50 yards, hence the need for volleyed fire. Rifled muskets could be much more accurate at longer distances, but they were comparatively rare until industrialization, and they did not come equipped with a bayonet, which was needful to fight at close distances. So this was the best available military technology of the day.

In writing the Second Amendment, the Founders certainly had in mind that citizens should own what was the best available military technology. That was the whole point of the Second Amendment: that the citizens should be armed, that they may defend their liberty from the grasping state, as the Founders had done themselves.

So Michael Moore is wrong: if James Madison looked into a crystal ball and saw an AK-47 in the hands of a citizen, he would only ask whether the weapon was comparable to that of the US Army. This technology fallacy that gun-control advocates offer relies upon two incorrect premises:

  1. The weapons of the 18th century were not that dangerous, indeed comical in their rate of fire.
  2. The Founders did not intend that citizens should be well-armed, only sort-of armed.

Both of these proceed from ignorance about 18th century warfare.

The Strange Birth of New York’s Gun Laws

Ernst Schrieber, commenting in the Protein wisdom post linked earlier, offers this New York Post article:

In 1911 — in the wake of a notorious Gramercy Park blueblood murder-suicide — Sullivan sponsored the Sullivan Act, which mandated police-issued licenses for handguns and made it a felony to carry an unlicensed concealed weapon.

This was the heyday of the pre-Prohibition gangs, roving bands of violent toughs who terrorized ethnic neighborhoods and often fought pitched battles with police. In 1903, the Battle of Rivington Street pitted a Jewish gang, the Eastmans, against the Italian Five Pointers. When the cops showed up, the two underworld armies joined forces and blasted away, resulting in three deaths and scores of injuries. The public was clamoring for action against the gangs.

Problem was the gangs worked for Tammany. The Democratic machine used them asshtarkers(sluggers), enforcing discipline at the polls and intimidating the opposition. Gang leaders like Monk Eastman were even employed as informal “sheriffs,” keeping their turf under Tammany control.

The Tammany Tiger needed to rein in the gangs without completely crippling them. Enter Big Tim with the perfect solution: Ostensibly disarm the gangs — and ordinary citizens, too — while still keeping them on the streets.

In fact, he gave the game away during the debate on the bill, which flew through Albany: “I want to make it so the young thugs in my district will get three years for carrying dangerous weapons instead of getting a sentence in the electric chair a year from now.”

Sullivan knew the gangs would flout the law, but appearances were more important than results.

What is done by politicians is done for political reasons to achieve a political end. Anyone who believes that they are motivated by the desire to effect change in society is quixotically naive.


Charles Cooke Quotes an Old Philosopher on the Wisdom of Gun Control

At NRO’s Corner:

The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? And does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons.

The philosopher is Cesare Beccaria, an Italian jurist who greatly influenced the penal theories of modern Europe and America. The quote is from his 1764 tome, On Crimes and Punishments. It is available on Kindle.

What makes me laugh is that progressives are perfectly willing to apply this logic to the Drug War, but somehow pretend that the same government that is unable to control the trade in crystal meth will somehow be able to prevent the trade in firearms.

Gunman Goes Nuts. Progressives Blame Guns. Nothing Changes.

The reaction of the progressive types to shootings have a quality of ritual to them. It’s rather like starting a witch hunt after a bad harvest or a cholera epidemic. A handful of bogeys are always invoked:

  1. We blame the Right. The killer may have been some Tea Party type. Because, you know, they’re so prone to violence.
  2. We blame Pop Culture. This guy was trying to be Batman, because Batman is known for his skill with a shotgun. Violent images make people violent. Or maybe it was the music that he listened to, or the video games he played.
  3. We blame the lack of regulation of the weapon. Guns make people use them. Never mind that making guns completely illegal stands about as good a chance of working as making heroin illegal has; if there were no guns, dangerous psychotics would have to use their fists. Or, you know, make a bomb out of fertilizer.

They cannot accept the plain truth that things like this are beyond their ability to prevent. Their ideology compels them to pretend that with just the right regulatory cocktail, these things would disappear. They probably privately suspect otherwise, but never mind. The creed must be proclaimed allowed, lest someone question your devotion to Social Justice.

In the meantime, 13 are dead and we still don’t know why. I fear we never will.