Random musings from a libertarian, tech geek...
I'm going away for a few days on a holiday trip so I thought I'd post something controversial and see what commentary it stirs up. I generally try to avoid the gun control debate because:
I'm a centrist when it comes to guns but, as with all polarizing debates, if you express an opinion, you're automatically tossed into a bucket with the most lunatic fringe either opposition can find. My personal position is far from Janet Reno's but also far from the Minnesota KKK. I can live with more gun regulation than your run-of-the-mill Libertarian but probably not as much as your standard Democrat.
This polarization does NOT make for healthy political debate.
You can guess my leanings but I'm going to avoid directly foisting my opinion. I'd like to instead select a single angle of attack out of the many on the issue -- Self Defense -- and frame the discussion into 3 summary, axiomatic questions. This is my attempt to boil away the complexities & propose a couple, simple questions I consider central, divisive and thus illustrative about why & where people agree / disagree with gun logic.
I am NOT trying to directly address these root differences; I'm trying to tease out the philosophic undercurrents beneath surface divide around guns. So, in logical order:
Strategically, gun control advocates can / need to "win" only one of the questions to "win" the overall debate while the framework burdens gun rights proponents with the need to prove all 3.
Folks who oppose guns 'fall off' this logic train at different points. Many SF'ers, for example, don't believe that violence lurks under the surface of everyday life and truly consider violence artificial to Nature (or perhaps they don't want to believe it?). Others may accept that Violence Happens but don't believe that it is occasionally ultimately solved only through the unpleasant tension of deterrence. As with many socio-political situations, they seek "a 3rd way" that is somehow neither forceful nor capitulating and avoids tension. And finally, being the good Urban Elitists they are, many SF'ers just don't trust the Common Man.
I'm expressly NOT invoking other decision frameworks or angles of attack - for ex., strict utilitarianism. The utilitarian framework lies beneath arguments like "guns should be banned because XXXX people were killed by guns whereas only YYY guns were used defensively"; or the infamous myth "a gun in the home is X times more likely to be used against yourself / a family member".
We don't make decisions about other individual rights like free speech or civil rights on a strictly utilitarian basis (for ex., "the world would be a better place if the KKK weren't allowed to speak & recruit"). I assert that dealing with the threat of violence (self-preservation) at the individual level is at least as native and merits similar philosophic treatment. At the very least, the utilitarian angle can quickly denigrate into statistical barrages levied by both sides and is just plain difficult to debate. Others do it better.
I'm also NOT invoking the "check the power of the government" decision framework (for ex. "If the government is the sole agent of violence, can it ALWAYS be trusted to NOT abuse its bounds?"). It is a framework I whole-heartedly believe in BUT it's harder for me to boil it down into the simple rhetorical framework like the one above. People like Bill Whittle are exceptionally eloquent on this angle.