The Gun as the Scapegoat

My condolences go out to all of those who were affected by the recent Connecticut tragedy, and the recent Chinese tragedy. Of course, most Americans (particularly the ones sharing their opinions about gun control on Facebook) will pay no mention to the latter tragedy (I apologize for being in a rather cynical mood this morning).

Anyway, here are several thoughts that I’ve had related to the two tragedies.

1) Heinous crimes happen even without guns. [1]

2) Accidents happen and gun accidents happen.  Accidental deaths, however, are a silly reason to ban something.  Fact: almost three times as many children drown in bathtubs than die from accidental gun deaths. Should we outlaw bathtubs too? [2]

3) Hypothesis: We’d save more lives in this country by getting rid of McDonalds than we would by getting rid of guns. (HT: Guru Anaerobic).

4) If legally registered guns are the problem, why do we see so few murders at shooting ranges? (Hint: Legal gun owners aren’t the problem.)

5) It appears the American killer was also autistic, are we going to blame guns and Autism, or just guns?

6) I wrote a piece called “Guns & Epistemology” on Rationally Speaking after the Aurora massacre that seems relevant to share. [3]

The commonality behind all massacres is that the individual committing the crime against humanity was mentally ill. It’s easy to blame guns for the problem, but we ought to focus on the real issue here which is how we deal with mentally ill people.  Of course, many people often use times of tragedy to create an emotional case for their irrational beliefs (there’s that cynicism thing again).

Notes:

[1] “Man slashes 22 children near China school”
[2] More Guns, Less Crime
[3] “Guns & Epistemology” 

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4 Comments on “The Gun as the Scapegoat”

  1. Bob Rush says:

    Greg,

    Love your posts in general. I can’t help but think you’ll regret these statements.

    > Heinous crimes happen even without guns

    Yes, but the gun crimes are typically more heinous, as shown here in your contrast between the Chinese and American incidents. Guns are much more efficient at killing people than knives. (Guns, Germs, & Steel)

    > Fact: almost three times as many children drown in bathtubs than die from accidental gun deaths. Should we outlaw bathtubs too?

    Of course not, but is there something else we could do to reduce that statistic? And are we only allowed to work on one problem at a time?

    > Hypothesis: We’d save more lives in this country by getting rid of McDonalds than we would by getting rid of guns.

    Again, if problem B has higher statistics, can you not work on problem A? I’m not sure all these different problems are competing for the same budget dollars.

    > If legally registered guns are the problem, why do we see so few murders at shooting ranges? (Hint: Legal gun owners aren’t the problem.)

    No one is arguing that the problem is as simple as that placing a gun in someone’s hand causes them to murder. 

    > It appears the American killer was also autistic, are we going to blame guns and Autism, or just guns?

    Most real-life problems have multiple causal factors. No reason to throw up our hands.

    Bob R. 

    • Greg Linster says:

      @google-c2e167e459c430b9216a921e74c8034c:disqus : Thanks for the comment, and for the kind words about my posts. 

      Anyway, in this post I threw out some random thoughts and reactions I had after thinking about the tragedy on Friday night.  What I’ve realized is that this is such a difficult issue to talk about because it is so politically charged.

      I think you’re right to suggest that the cause of this tragedy is multifaceted.  However, since I am a person who greatly values liberty and freedom, I naturally get upset when I hear calls to take away an important freedom, i.e., the right to bear arms.

      The phrase “gun control”, however, is nebulous.  Does it mean take away all guns?  Just assault rifles? Something else?  I’m not sure that the right to bear arms entitles you to have a rocket launcher at your house.

      I guess my point is that we (myself included) should try to make it very clear as to what we are arguing about.  My point is that more legally owned guns don’t necessarily mean more crime (in fact, it may mean less).  In other words, simply taking away the right to bear arms from law abiding citizens is a silly solution to this problem. Look at what happens when we make certain drugs illegal — do you really think changing the laws about guns will be different?

  2. To side with NNT on this one: we can control f(x) more easily than x.  I don’t know how we’re supposed to “deal with mental illness” in a way that obviates violent outburst.  I haven’t heard one proposal, and probably because there’s nothing to do short of crossing our fingers and hoping for a techno-fix along the lines of Minority Report (which of course would have its own moral consequences.)

    Guns, namely autos and semi-autos, provide a means of multiplying the consequences of these violent outbursts.  A psychopath with a knife simply can’t do nearly as much damage.

    Also, while people are saying “hey, look, gun deaths aren’t that bad compared to [McDonald's/bathtubs/etc]!”, it doesn’t come off to me as a case to not tighten gun restrictions.  The issue at hand is whether tightening gun control will save lives or not, not whether the amount of lives saved compares to other types of fatalities.  So far, the people who say “well if everyone was allowed guns this wouldn’t happen” don’t seem to have much evidence to back this idea up.

  3. [...] and the other blog I write for, Rationally Speaking.  There were two interesting comments on my “The Gun as the Scapegoat” post (thanks for the thought provoking comments Bob and Alexander!).  Anyway, I want to address a [...]


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