26 June 2015

Jim Jeffries and Gun Control

Big Cheese sent the attached video and asked what I thought about it. I had some thoughts, which I have reproduced here. It's a funny video!

He's not wrong.

Anti-gun advocates like to talk about Port Arthur because Australia enacted legislation and they have not had a mass shooting since then. There is actually a disturbing amount of overlap between Port Arthur and Sandy Hook, the two shootings that white people seem to care about. (Note that white people only care when other white people get shot - more on this shortly.)

Left unmentioned is that Australia, despite all its bluster, is a pissant country comprised of mostly empty space. And they had a lot of shootings! That place is fucked up. Australia has about half as many people as California, and less than 1/10th as many people as the US as a whole. Nice place to visit but it is basically Florida, with worse food. So, yeah: Australia banned guns! :: wanking motion ::

Setting aside the very real problems of scale: yes, constitutional arguments are dated and reductive and feeble in the extreme. It is just as bad as pointing at the bible when you are having a religious discussion; complete non-starter. Also the constitution has a proud history of being impressively wrong about important things: slavery, equal rights for women, booze, etc.

That a gun owner is more likely to use their gun on themselves than someone else is not an impactful argument against gun ownership. So what if they do? The people most likely to die of gun violence are either 1. Young black males, or 2. Older, unattached white men in their 50s and 60s. If you remove suicides from gun death statistics then the people most at risk are young black men, and it is not even close. When white men agitate for gun rights they are, statistically speaking, fighting for the right to shoot themselves. I'm fine with that. Free will is free will.

Guns are too easy to get. The recent massacre in South Carolina highlights this fact all too well. I think owning a gun should be like getting a pilots license. Everyone can apply but it requires a demonstrable level of proficiency and commitment in order to take one home. If you can get through the screening process and demonstrate proficiency then you should be able to own whatever gun you want.

As for Sandy Hook, no one gives a shit about the black kids getting killed around the country every day but when a mentally ill, mentally retarded kid uses a gun his mom bought him (legally) to shoot a bunch of white kids it is the end of the world. Soccer moms across the nation are afraid for their little angels, and the NRA says they should put an armed guard at every school. Both reactions are incredibly dumb. Your kids are not at risk, and an armed guard is just the first guy to get shot.

People want to enact legislation on anomalies. What cascade of legislation is going to effectively prevent a mother from buying an expensive gun and making it available to her sociopathic, autistic child? I suggest: none. That was a catastrophic failure on too many levels. Legislating and adjudicating for anomalies leads to extreme reactions that may or may not solve future anomalies but almost always have unintended consequences. (The militarization of the police in the US saw its genesis in large part as a result of the North Hollywood shootout. That was two guys, one time, and now we have a country literally overflowing with wannabe soldier-cops and provincial SWAT teams.)

Let's address the real epidemic: gun violence in inner cities and urban areas. It has been ongoing for a generation now and shows no signs of slowing or stopping. Let's address the root causes of the violence (poverty, lack of opportunity, the drug war) and instead of taking away guns let's see if we can find a way to give poor people a reason to stop shooting each other.

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