Friday, May 27, 2022

A Comfortable Place To Sit

The various states have different laws about firearms, some with more registration requirements, some with greater penalties for misuse, allowing or forbidding open carry or concealed carry - there is variety. Some municipalities have additional restrictions. These have changed over the years, so there are comparative numbers in the same places. You don't need any special training to research this or special permissions to get the important information. Other people have even assembled a lot of the comparisons for you if you like, or if you don't trust them you can do the digging yourself. A bit tedious, perhaps, but doable right in your own home. You can move the pieces about, looking at the differences in violent crime or homicide in states that allow X, and some trends of what might happen if you do Y or Z.

What you will find is that the laws make very little difference, if any. You will find things you may consider counterintuitive, such as easier access to guns or ammunition actually resulting in less crime occasionally.  Not a lot less, but you were surprised to see any at all. We could have long and controversial discussions about what does change crime rates in a place, which is how I keep getting off into long essays, unable to get the wagons in a circle.

Nor is there any evidence that making laws restricting guns will change our culture away from our violent history to a peaceful and gentle people. No, not even gradually. Europe's internal crime rate went down long before they changed the laws. And they didn't even get a final reduction when they did get around to making it very difficult for people to own guns or to account for all ammunition. The rates had gone down already, didn't move any further.

Once you grasp this you will see how deeply offensive it is to take the attitude after a tragic shooting that it's just obvious what we need to do, but all those terrible villains, those gun lobbies buying politicians, or our gun-obsessed culture, or the gun manufacturers making all that money, or the cowards who refuse to stand up to them, all refuse to do the obvious. This shows that those villains are stupid or evil or both, not caring about little children and deserving to be publicly confronted and shamed. As with so many things, we say, we could do it if we only tried.  If we only had the courage and the nerve to do X - in this case, one of a dozen things about guns - If only we really cared, it would get done easily.

Whenever you find yourself thinking such things, understand that it could be a projection, or at least an irony. It could be you who has found a comfortable place to sit, requiring no courage or caring, but getting the benefit of feeling like a crusader, an opponent of evil. Please notice that this supposed evil just happens to coincide with cultural groups you don't like, cultural groups that are in fact in competition with yours for political and status dominance in America. Huh, funny thing.  I wonder how that happened? 

I am hard on you because I once sat among you and know now my own darker motives. Perhaps not yours? I hope so for most of you, but the national behavior and the individual comments even from Nice People over the years has convinced me I was not unusual. Gun regulation outrage with disdainful cultural comments is a comfortable place to sit.

The belief in the obviousness makes it more insulting, and thus morally offensive. Complaining at politicians "You should have done something, this is your fault" is just vile. Fun, though, I imagine. Asking what the church's response to this should be - isn't that a question that has already assumed the only answer it wants to hear? "The church has failed if it doesn't show the courage to do something about this." Wait, what's your real religion again?

The protest will come "Well can't we even try?" We have tried, many things. One of the difficulties is that once you have a regulation in place and the means for effecting it, it tends to stay in place forever. Not always.  Massachusetts passed a very restrictive mandatory incarceration law in the 90s and crime went up. It was still hard to get rid of - ask yourself why people would still want to keep it and you come up against the fantasies of people who think that it should work, and would, if we just tried harder - but they managed it.

I very much liked Aggie's comment under "Expectations."  It was in the context of the continuous-improvement work they needed to do in drilling, and in that industry it had gone well, because people wanted safety, not to find others to blame.  Yes. When there is a society-wide problem, the first thing that is required to improve matters is honesty and good faith in communication, usually the last things to become apparent - and even then, in deficit. The biggest task in creating a proactive safety culture is gaining acceptance that this is the priority at the outset. Once people buy in, the culture of continuous improvement takes wing. Ironically, to work safely one has to first feel safe in being able to communicate their observations and ideas without fear of criticism. Shame is a very powerful emotion. 

So sure, we can try. But it has to be about real-world change, in the context of costs, whether there is infringement on freedoms of the innocent, and acknowledgement that it's not magic.  It can't just be another one of those things where we Do Something in order for people to feel they have made things safer when all they have done is won a cultural battle by manipulative means. I'm not even a gun owner and I find myself continually moved to defend them against unfairness.


Douglas2 said...

There's a book I stumbled upon via a review: Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings that I think I should be getting due to my spending lots of time looking at data after such events. Its authors look to be very much academic left -- the lead author is now some sort of 'chancellor' in the MA state university system. Yet in the initial review that I saw (and a few other reviews I searched out), access to firearms isn't even mentioned in the analysis of the factors common to perpetrators of such events.

I caution against analysis of differences between USA high-access and USA restricted-access jurisdictions, because - although Manhattan is an island, like Great Britain -- there are not customs checks of shipments and packages and people entering. As with authorities in Canada and Mexico complaining about guns crossing the border and being used in crime, the authorities own data shows that this problem is VASTLY exaggerated , but it is not non-existent.
I was living in the UK post-Dunblane as all the changes to UK firearms law took place, the initial result for the next few years was opposite of what one would expect. From my reading and memory gun crime statistics only started going down in the UK after the very expensive and extensive had been in operation for several years. It really was looking at the relationships between criminals who used guns and how guns were accessed and transferred within that group that solved the problem -- and this in a country where they really could highly-effectively stop guns from coming across their international border.


Mike Guenther said...

The problem with the left and their "We have to do something" canard, is that there are already a vast myriad of gun laws and regulations on the books. As is well known, criminals don't obey the law...and another law or regulation isn't going to change that, although it will hurt law abiding citizens and encroach on their rights.

The progressive left doesn't enforce the laws we have now. DA's in several democrat controlled cities are releasing violent criminals with little to no bail all the time, only for them to go out and commit another crime of violence.

It has always been about control. The progressive left wants the monopoly on use of force. The only way for them to get that is for citizens to be unarmed.

Grim said...

A tangentially related comment: Reviewing my Google stats the other day, I found that they estimate my education at the high-school level. Looking into why, I found that it was because of my YouTube video habits, which mimic those of people who have a high school education. I assume they mean my frequent habit of watching videos about how to repair motorcycles, Jeeps, and trucks, which is a task I undertake regularly.

I think it would be a good discipline for highly-educated people to understand how the machinery that makes their life possible works, and to develop self-sufficiency in ordinary repairs. I think it would likewise be good to undertake responsibility for providing your own security, another technical matter that requires study and training. These things both increase your own understanding and personal responsibility while providing society with a resiliency against the troubles of the world. Both are, however, déclassé.

Mike Guenther said...

I'm afraid to look at mine. I jump down the rabbit hole of woodworking videos all the time, with an occasional foray into movie clips and comedians, mostly Drybar videos.

But truth be told, I do only have a HS education with some college in the mix.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Grim, the algorithms work in terms of selling us stuff, so people assume they must be accurate about politics and culture as well.

And then they believe those stereotypes.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Douglas 2. I forgot to mention what an excellent comment that was. I have people with a remarkable range of experiences here.

james said...

On a different topic (one that came up tonight), what effect has legalizing marijuana had on organized crime in those states? My prediction was that there'd not be much impact (tax avoidance, special additives).

I haven't checked the overall crime rates yet, much less tried to parse out what component of that is organized crime.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't know. If no one else here does I'll have a look.