Authored by Michael Owen,
No amount of statistics or facts will sway either side in the gun control debate, because they are all looking for simple solutions to complex problems.
The facts of those complex problems are uncomfortable and nobody really wants to come to grips with them.
For example, we don’t really have a single America with a moderately high rate of gun deaths.
Instead, we have two Americas, one of which has very high rates of gun ownership but very low murder rates, very comparable to the rest of the First World democracies such as those in western & northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea. The other America has much lower rates of gun ownership but much, much higher murder rates, akin to violent third world countries.
The tough questions are those like, why do we have these two Americas?
But that’s an uncomfortable discussion to have. So instead those on the left favor simple minded restrictions that target first world America, with its high gun ownership but very low murder rate, but don’t address the root causes of third world America’s violence at all. Meanwhile those on the right correctly feel their civil rights are constantly threatened, so they are constantly in a state of “better stock up before they finally ban it” and the guns and ammo fly off the shelves. The left’s constant gun control rhetoric is the greatest thing ever for arms manufacturers.
Meanwhile, over the past 40 years, while the number of guns in private hands has doubled, the murder rate has dropped by half. The left are constantly prattling about “assault weapons” which are almost never used to commit murders (about 1% of gun murders; all rifles combined are around 3%). More murders are committed with baseball bats than “assault rifles”; the vast majority of gun homicides are committed with handguns, but it’s easier to sell restrictions that target “assault weapons”, even though such restrictions, even if 100% effective, would make no detectable change in the murder rate (especially because of substitution effects). They favor ridiculous measures such as bans on “high capacity magazines”, as if magazines weren’t cheap and easily swapped out in a fraction of a second.
The uncomfortable fact is that roughly 80% of the US homicide rate is associated with the drug trade, and the drug trade is violent because the drug war reserves it for violent criminals.
We have a system in place where the government subsidizes poverty in urban areas, imposes economic blight in those same areas through heavy taxes and regulations, renders the residents permanently unemployable via the “criminal justice” (sic) system, and creates a lucrative black market in drugs by restricting supply (not to mention increasing demand as people are desperate to escape their circumstances by getting high), meaning the only game in town is often entering the drug trade. The drug trade is violent because those in it have no access to courts to settle disputes. Powerful industries lobby to keep the drug war going; the top spenders are law enforcement unions, the prison industry, big alcohol, tobacco, and pharma.
Guns are not the proximate cause of gun violence in the US. Childlike magical thinking and simple “fixes” to complex problems will not work. But it is comfortable, and self-righteousness feels so good. So I expect it to continue indefinitely.
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