This piece from Current Affairs makes many of the same errors of gun control screes past. So, let’s begin.
Gun control challenges core tenets of their ideology. To convince them to support it, you’d have to convince them to abandon right-wing ideology altogether. That’s why they just need to be thrown out of office.
Well luckily for us I suppose, but irritating to Nathan J. Robinson, more than just Nathan’s opinion is considered when it comes to whose ideology gets to stand in the legislatures of the state and nation. The whole one ideal to rule them all thing hasn’t worked out so hot in previous iterations.
The subheading establishing firmly where our grounding in reality is for this rant shallowly posted as discourse, let us continue.
There has been another horrific mass shooting, once again in Texas.
California is at 4 mass murder level mass shootings for the year, this brings Texas to only 3. So “once again in Texas” certainly appears more hyperbolic than helpful.
Senator Ted Cruz has generously offered his prayers (no word yet on his thoughts) to those affected. There is a debate over whether pictures of the victims should have been permitted on Twitter. (Were they gratuitous and offensive to the families or a necessary confrontation with the reality of gun violence?) But there is little sign that we will see a major policy response, especially not in Texas. Unlike in Serbia, where two recent mass shootings caused the president of the country to consider disarming the whole country, in the U.S. these killings are becoming a sickeningly “normal” part of the culture.
Our President talks about disarming us and banning guns all the time. It doesn’t help here and it’s unlikely to help there either.
The major political obstacle is, of course,
The Constitution of the United States.
the Republican Party, which is staunchly committed to guaranteeing every citizen the right to possess heavy weaponry.
Define ‘Heavy’ you hyperbolic twit.
Not only do Republicans consistently refuse to consider even the most basic and sensible gun policies
Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
(Maybe require people to be trained to use guns?
Like with public education?
Maybe keep them out of the hands of those who appear homicidal?
Keep felons incarcerated for their full terms?
), but, in fact, after these mass shootings, they tend to argue that we need even more guns.
No, they tend to argue we need more realistic security policies and to stop pretending the ‘gun free zone’ is a thing that matters. It’s about as impregnable as a speed limit.
They’d rather loosen than tighten gun restrictions, in total defiance of both public opinion and the available evidence showing that states with tighter gun controls have fewer gun deaths.
I’ve hacked those numbers apart before. ‘Gun Deaths’
I’m sure a few obvious questions have crossed more than one person’s mind: Why?
Common reasoning skills?
Why are they like this?
The Constitutionally protected rights to one’s own autonomy and the absolutely unassailable right to protect that against severe harm with force?
Why does the right’s commitment to flooding America with guns seem downright pathological?
Flooding America with guns? Commitment to? What wonderful words we use to describe a motivation the Republicans don’t have.
Why don’t they?
Well, I’ve said the Constitution enough so maybe I’ll throw in good old fashioned greed too. There is no money in “flooding the streets” with guns. Now drugs, well…
Why won’t they support even the most modest measures,
Our definition of ‘modest’ probably differs.
or simple safety regulations like making guns more difficult for children to fire?
How? How would you go about ‘child proofing’ a gun? Going to add a twist cap to the safety like we do pharmaceuticals? The problem, consistently, with people like Nathan Robinson is that they’re just saying words. They are just spewing bullshit at lawmakers, gun companies, and the computer screen that sounds maybe vaguely smart if you don’t know any better, then they fail to follow a single proposed thought through to a logical conclusion.
Do you want solutions or do you just want to be mad? Do you want to improve safety or do we need to keep yelling at each other in a circle when I and experts like myself tell you the thing you’re asking about is fucking impossible.
Why do they do nothing after these mass shootings except lament them and pray?
They don’t, they also field endless mind numbing commentary from you lot with your utopian non-ideas.
Do they want us all to live in a dystopia where our kids could be massacred at the mall any day?
That has literally always been a risk of being alive and the human race having free agency. That isn’t dystopia, that’s reality. The reality is that society and social order are fragile, they can be wiped away with little prompting and no requirement that you consent or understand why the world around you has suddenly become hostile.
Why can’t we have a normal country where this hardly ever happens?
That doesn’t exist. ‘Hardly ever’ is so relative and circumstantial as to be meaningless. Why are you comparing the third largest nation in the world to more homogenous European states? Why are you ignoring the warfare of the 20th Century? Why do we conveniently ill define, filter, or select out inconvenient facets of context just to make you feel better about blaming this nation? Why don’t we acknowledge the separation of the causatives?
Like our number of ‘mass shootings’ and levels of ‘gun violence’ being forever framed to be both somehow unique (with highly racist qualifiers, like ‘developed’ nation) and yet also decidedly average and certainly on the better end of the world scales when it comes to homicide and suicide. Those two problems are very different if you reference the heat maps above.
The answer conservatives will give, of course, is that they are committed constitutionalists, and the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, and that’s that.
Yes, it is.
But that can’t explain the pathology. After all, speaking of the Second Amendment, Ryan Cooper notes that “James Madison himself, who wrote the dang thing, thought it was compatible with a ban on carrying firearms outside of your own property.”
Potentially compatible and only to the absolute and most limited parameters required for the government to be compelled to enforce. Which they can’t. The government is incapable of enforcing a prohibition on the carry of arms. They cannot even enforce it on the known and legally processed group of the citizenry known as felons. So what does ‘banning’ it prevent?
The Founding Fathers could not, of course, have anticipated the invention of the AR-15,
Why not? Repeating firearms were already in existence in 1791. Less than a century later we had the machine gun. An autoloading rifle would make perfect sense to the founders and the AR-15 with 5.56mm moderately powered ammunition is much less gastly a weapon than the 17.5mm (.69 caliber) muskets and bayonets that were standard. It is and would remain, recognizable, a rifle. It has the lethality of a rifle.
and so the Second Amendment cannot possibly have anything to say about whether we ought to allow them on the streets.
Shall not be infringed? Does the fact you are raving this yarn online mean that you and I are not protected in our speech debating the subject? Of the two, I think the internet and what goes on upon it would be far more disturbing and baffling to the Founders than the AR-15.
The right doesn’t appear to be making a good faith attempt at constitutional interpretation.
Bruen… Heller… McDonald?
There has to be something else going on that’s causing them to adopt the most extreme possible interpretation of the Constitution.
For some gun control proponents, the answer is that people who enjoy playing with guns don’t care about dead children,
Ah, yes. Morons.
or care about their own right to do whatever they want
That’s a stretch. There are plenty of politically left leaning activities that might be filed under concerning behaviors but ‘whatever they want’ would apply.
much more than they care about saving other people’s lives.
Why should they care vaguely about “saving other people’s lives” in some abstract way when the number one cited reason for gun ownership is saving their own life. Self defense. Home protection. The absolute right to defend oneself against violence in an effective manner.
Comedian Jim Jefferies, in a classic viral rant about guns in America, said the argument against gun restrictions ultimately boiled down to “I like guns.” Thus you’re not going to persuade them to change their minds by showing a bunch of statistics on how countries and states with more gun restrictions have fewer gun deaths. There’s no way to refute “I like guns.”
Oh, you mean like “If it saves just one life…” which these restrictions, where enacted, have not with anything approximating certainty shown in the slightest? Which state leads in mass shootings and school shootings again? Oh yeah, California. What is the leading cause of ‘gun deaths’? Oh yeah, suicides. Suicides which are provably independent of method and heavily concentrated among the older white male demographic which tend to inhabit states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona and heavily skew their ‘gun death’ rates. The homicide rates and volumes tell a much more informative story in the grand scale. Funny that the gun laws didn’t help much.
I think Jefferies was onto something, but there’s more to it.
Obviously. Jefferies is a comedian. His hot take is to illicit laughs and entertain his audience, not be a nuanced policy discussion on the viability of erasing more modern firearms from existence from a population that will resist and be hostile to the notion than the entire population of the world’s third largest nation.
To understand the level of intransigence, it helps to think about the ideology that conservatives subscribe to. Fear and a sense of futility are central to right-wing thinking.
Right-wing? I think you’ve just defined rhetoric in general their, my dude. Doomsaying is political diatribe 101.
For the right, the world is a dangerous and terrifying place in which Evil is lurking around every corner.
And for the left Evil is seems to be lurking in the hearts of anyone who doesn’t agree with them all the time or asks questions in a manner seen as too aggressive or demeaning. Additionally the left, or certain particularly annoying aspects of the left, have blinders on to the realities of the world. They are selective of the real threats and real risks inherent in the world. They lack huge swaths of information and tend to believe the world thinks and values things as they do, and that those that don’t are all just stodgy conservatives and not actually at fundamental odds with their values and worldviews.
Everything has a simple answer in the liberal mind, it will just go right because I/we said it should.
Such Evil could be in the form of “groomers” coming for your children (by reading to them while wearing makeup) or it could be the “China threat.” Paranoia about globalists, communists, immigrants, criminals, and other Big Scary Others is ubiquitous on the right.
And paranoia at right wing authoritarianism, behaviors lumped under “Trump derangement syndrome”, COVID-19 extremis, ACAB, phobic rhetoric and so forth are all products of normal and well adjusted minds, correct? If your argument is that the right fear mongers, then… yes? Everyone does. A lot. Like an absurdly annoying amount. But pointing the faults of a group without owning your own is a great way to have your points dismissed as more ungrounded noise instead of discussion to be taken seriously.
If your mental world is already one of extreme (and delusional) fear, mass shooters do not seem like an aberration.
No, wrong. Mass shooters are an aberration. That’s literally what we keep saying. They are a unique collection of extremes and stresses that manifest violently.
They are just another threat among many.
They are. They are a low probability high impact threat.
The natural state of life, in much conservative literature, is “nasty, brutish, and short,” and the forces of order and civilization only just barely keep the forces of evil chaos at bay.
Yes. I know you are saying this sarcastically, but yes that. The natural state is one where violence is a currency, our fairly recent and naturally unique concept of agreed upon social norms written (laws) or unwritten (traditional behaviors) is still ultimately backed up by the capacity for violence. The state exists as an agreed upon (democratic) or otherwise monopoly on legitimized force. If you go against it severely enough, aka breaking the law, force is brought against you.
This is additionally true in social spaces where violence of one form or another, canceling, doxing, swatting, boycotting, or even a drive by shooting or mass shooting indicate social strife and retribution for it. These forms of retributive force sometimes work within the law and social norms but often exceed it by varying degrees. However, depending upon your viewpoint, how egregious that violation is can be debated.
The mental disconnect in idealist left leaning thinkers, in that they are somehow not using violence to gain their goals because they tend to urge the state to be violent on their behalf, is fascinating. Additionally, that certain violent expressions so long as they ideologically are aligned or are from a certain population segment are expected and dismissed or encouraged after a fashion.
Conservatism is characterized by an extreme pessimism about our ability to improve the world; the standard argument is that progressives are naïve and hubristic in their desire to effect change through social policy and whatever they do will “hurt the very people they are trying to help.”
No, that is a proven concept through the analysis of policy. Gun control hurts minorities the most is a well known fact, one that is not openly acknowledged but that must be back room corrected for with things like arrest proportions or releasing violent offenders so as not to seem prejudicial in their enforcement of the law.
The view of human nature that underpins right-wing thought is false, but it’s a compelling story.
The view of human nature that underpins the hyper-privileged first world left is equally as false and equally as compelling, in a delusional, wouldn’t everything be awesome if you just agreed with me type of format.
If you view the world as a place full of virtually uncontrollable menacing evil, it’s easy to see why gun control doesn’t make sense. Under a conservative framework, it’s hard to understand why gun control would ever work. After all, we’re up against the forces of Pure Evil. Surely Pure Evil would not let mere laws stand in its way. If it was determined to kill, it would find a way to get a gun. As Arjun Byju noted for this magazine in a piece on the normalization of “active shooter drills” in schools, “we cannot legislate away evil” is a common GOP refrain, with shootings treated “like the fates and furies of Greek mythology, something horrible that may strike us from without, and to which we are all but consigned.” But as Ryan Cooper notes, in reality, it turns out that a lot of gun violence is spur of the moment, and can be disrupted just by putting inconvenient obstacles between would-be perpetrators and access to a gun: “If you can get a gun in a day or even a few minutes, then it’s easy for a stupid argument or moment of despair to end in a shooting death…But if you make it an expensive, annoying, and time-consuming process to get a gun, then this process is disrupted.”
Except that it isn’t. We outright prohibit felons from possessing firearms and attach stiff penalties to their being caught with them, yet they willing subject themselves to the risk of those penalties, often the very moment the leave the custody of the state. So how disruptive are the myriad of laws? What law would we enact amongst all those currently in place to disrupt this ‘spur of the moment’ gun violence.
Should we implement a law that requires a background check to shoot a gun? We have a bunch of other unenforceable and under enforced laws in place to “disrupt” the violent decision cycle but sure. Why not? What’s one more increasingly asinine law that will be ignored?
I love that your argument in response to mass shootings, usually planned (sometimes extremely well) events is that if we just make the process mildly more annoying we can fix it. Not all of it, obviously no solution will solve all gun violence, but some vague and untraceable fraction of gun violence will be controlled by making legal gun buying more annoying.
This ignores the effectively unassailable unlimited supply of firearms this nation has always possessed too. But I won’t tackle that right now.
This view sees perpetrators as fundamentally human,
Of course they are, what the left fails to understand is that not all of humanity sits in foppish ivory tower minded ignorance of the variety of social orders that use violence regularly, especially among their own voting blocks.
and reduces the distinction between the Bad People and the Good People. Gun control cannot work in the conservative view because, to use a favorite NRA slogan, “if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” The idea being that “outlaws” are a class of people to whom the law will be no obstacle. But as the U.K. and Australia show, it turns out that many would-be “outlaws” can in fact be deterred by extreme inconvenience.
Is that why firearm offenses in the UK jumped by 12% 2021 to 2022? The extreme inconvenience? Do we think that the we can replicate the socioeconomic conditions of the UK or Australia? Islands? How about the 11% increase in knife crime too which is 5 times occurrence rate of firearms despite their laws against either?
Is that why if we compare the UK violent crime victimization rate of 1.3% (2022) it is comparable with the US rate which oscillates between 1% and 3%? Hooray for extreme inconvenience right? Let’s just ignore little realities like implementation or the vast swath of difference between our sociopolitical and socioeconomic realities because our incomes are sorta comparable to make ourselves feel morally superior?
For many people on the right, I don’t think it’s possible to change their position on gun control without changing their entire ideological worldview.
Yes, I would have to completely divest myself from reality for pseudo-intellectual modernistic viewpoints with glaring holes in their logic.
Their fear and pessimism are not grounded in reality. To support gun control, they would have to believe in a very different kind of world, one where many of our problems were solvable through policy,
Despite plenty of evidence that policy actively harms instead of helps.
perpetrators were human beings subject to ordinary human incentives rather than just Forces Of Evil,
That was never and is never in question, but we don’t get to judge human action and response on a weighted scale with a handicap if you have enough demographic victim points.
and where it is conceivable to not be afraid all the time. But for the American right, the world is teeming with antifa terrorists and BLM rioters, and there’s no choice but to arm yourself to the teeth (and possibly shoot anyone who rings your doorbell).
No the world is not teeming with them, but the reality is that it doesn’t take many people to cause significant harm. Seattle was literally annexed during the CHAZ/CHOP incident for a full month. On June 16, 2020 Seattle’s KIRO-TV quoted an eight-year tenant of an apartment near the East Precinct: “We are just sitting ducks all day. Now every criminal in the city knows they can come into this area and they can do anything they want as long as it isn’t life-threatening, and the police won’t come in to do anything about it.” Frustrated by blocked streets, criminal behavior and lawlessness, some residents moved out and others installed security cameras. A man who said he “100 percent” supported the protest told KOMO-TV, “I don’t even feel safe anymore.”
But I’m sure seeing those offenders as human beings makes the victims feel better and safer.
I am generally a proponent of trying to have constructive political conversations with people and find common ground.
You could have fooled me.
I believe in trying to argue and persuade. (I have previously been called “the left’s debate bro.”) I’m actually teaching a class this weekend (come join us!) on how to effectively respond to right-wing arguments and change minds. But one of the things I’ll be emphasizing is that often, dialogue is in fact quite hopeless, because a person’s ideology is very deep rooted, and you’re not going to change their mind on one issue without getting them to radically alter their entire worldview.
Agreed, especially when pesky little things like facts in context won’t sway someone who likes facts from their point of view instead and does not care to be challenged to put things into context.
I think gun control is an issue like that for many on the right. They don’t think mass shootings can be stopped, and it’s not because they are misreading the statistics, it’s because they don’t see how the forces of evil could be kept at bay by something as trivial as a regulation.
Evidence suggests strongly and repeatedly that it cannot, and that over regulation is often its own evil as the government, the regulator, is often the greatest abuser. The fact that the left cannot see that criminal violence, especially retributive, is its own form of regulation (just outside the approved method of law or policy) is willful ignorance.
Just as they’re skeptical of diplomacy with China
Huh? When did this turn to U.S. China relations? Also do you believe that warfare is not a tool of diplomacy? That just because people or nations talk does not mean an agreement will be reached or honored? You realize, do you not, that every criminal and every crime is just a breach of diplomacy and social contract, right? And that the selective enforcement of various portions of the contract, greed, corruption, and bias, have all undermined the faith in regulation right?
I cannot fathom why the left has so much faith in regulation when it has a long and repeated history of failure. The selective belief in good or bad regulation is mind numbing as well. The Supreme Court decides something you don’t like? Bad! Something you like? Good! Same with Congress or an Executive order. Your belief in regulation or its efficacy is directly tied to whether or not you like it… that’s amazingly disconnected from reality.
and rehabilitation in the criminal punishment system (How can you negotiate with evil? How can you reform it?), they think that the only thing you can do to stop violence is kill the perpetrators.
A gross misrepresentation, but why would we stop doing that now?
The right’s world is a world of menace, where all we can rely on is Good Guys using violence to stop the violence of the Bad Guys. (This is why many on the right see the murder of Jordan Neely as the act of a Good Samaritan. For them, Neely was, in part for racist reasons, coded as one of the Bad Guys, and white ex-Marine Daniel Penny is coded as a Good Guy.)
Maybe Neely’s 42 arrests for violence, history of erratic and threatening behaviors, publicly visible posts of people afraid of him, the City’s failure to keep Neely out of the way of harming others when he was either between a menace and at least unwell, and the New York attitude toward people publicly threatening harm after an event like 9/11 contribute a little more to the overall perception of Neely as the less sympathetic of the two figures. But whatever, let’s show that years old video of him dancing to Michael Jackson again instead of the more recent posts of people being threatened and harassed by him. Let’s equally ignore that two other people, including another Black man, also restrained Neely or that when Neely became unresponsive Penny rendered first aid instead of celebrating the ‘ Coded Bad Guy’s’ demise and his triumph over evil.
But, you know, that might take some intellectual honesty and a recognition of the utopia fallacy, neither of which is likely from people who still believe regulations actually matter to the non-compliant.
In situations where it’s hopeless to persuade people, and they’re doing harm, the only choice you have is to restrain their power.
We. Literally. Just. Talked. About. Neely…
This is why the only hope for ending mass shootings involves reducing Republican political power. They are never going to change. If they changed, they would cease to be Republicans. They must be thrown out of office if we are ever going to build a country where we can feel safe going about our daily lives.
That certainly is an opinion. Full of holes and logical inconsistency, but it is an opinion.
Your half baked holier than thou attitude, Nathan J. Robinson, does not for good or effective regulation make just because you feel its all the Republicans fault or that your ideas feel good. The blinders which you are still wearing won’t let you follow simple and obvious, but inconvenient, logic chains to explore the second and third order effects of your ‘regulations’ on the populace. Your willful ignorance of the harm gun control and over regulation has had on minority communities and the errors and abuses of the very government’s you want regulating is disappointing. Pack your lukewarm IQ hot takes and take a long walk off a short dock into some cold water so you can wake up and join the real smart kids in recognizing the scope and complexity of the problems.
This isn’t red team bad, blue team good. If you think that, then go home because the adults in the room need to keep talking. If your support for regulation can be guessed merely by your red team/blue team affiliation, you are a lemming and nobody needs to take you or your opinions seriously.
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