Even more voodoo!


My thoughts on guns

It was gun policy in class the past couple days and after picking on the gun nuts (deservedly so) in a few posts, I thought I’d lay out more clearly my own thoughts on the issue.  Like much in criminal justice policy, I’m pretty much in accord with what Mark Kleiman suggests in When Brute Force Fails.  Why, because Kleiman ruthlessly uses objective, non-emotional, empirical analysis in his approach to criminal justice policy.

1) We spend way  too much of the debate on policies that actually make very little difference.  Given the existing prevalance of guns in America and the very strong cultural attachment, we are simply never going to be Canada or the UK and have the benefits of dramatically less guns.  The evidence is pretty clear that gun control (i.e., prohibitions)  on the level we could ever possibly implement consistent with the 2nd amendment just isn’t going to make much difference.  Yes, we should try and keep legal guns out of the hands of the wrong people. but we’re just not going to get much benefit from stringent restrictions on guns.  Furthermore, whether we have concealed carry laws or allow guns on college campuses, etc., just isn’t going to make much difference.

2) What does/would make a difference would be to dramatically curtail the underground market in guns.  That is, guns that end up in the hands of the wrong people.  The problem as I see it is that it is way too easy to buy a bunch of guns and them simply re-sell them privately with no regulation.  In some ways, we regulate Sudafed more than we regulate guns.  This is because the gun nuts are so afraid that better government databases means that the government is going to come take their guns.  That is nuts and it makes it far too easy for black markets and illegal sales to questionable people to thrive.  We regulate Sudafed purchases to the amount one person would reasonably need in a month– how about the same for guns.  Pretty much every illegal gun started out as a legally-purchased gun.  Let’s simply make that much harder.  All that by way of saying, we need much better tracking of gun ownership and purchases and that all gun sales– just like the private sale of cars– should be regulated.

3) Just want to mention I find the whole guns protect us from tyranny argument so tired and so obviously absurd when you just look at some data.  Tell that to the people of Yemen or of Iraq under Saddam.  I find the portion of the table that goes: Turkey, Italy, Pakistan, Argentina, Spain, Russia especially interesting as obviously these countries have dramatically different levels of freedom despite very similar levels of gun ownership.  There may be a small positive correlation between gun ownership and freedom as most really oppressive regimes don’t like civilian gun ownership (i.e., Tunisia), but that’s far from universal.  It’s quite clear that the widespread prevalence of guns fails to keep a nation free not does the lack of guns necessarily a people under tyranny.  So, Tea party gun nuts and Sharron Angle types really just need to shut up about that whole business.

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