Well-regulating the militia

I enjoyed this take on the 2nd Amendment from NC’s favorite Libertarian, Duke Political Science professor, Mike Munger:

My own view is that the Supreme Court got the Second Amendment right, finally, in the 2008 Heller case, overturning some remarkably dumb aspects of the 1939 Millerdecision. Heller recognizes (it was always there!) a presumptive individual private right to own — and “bear,” meaning actually carry — arms. But Heller preserves substantial latitude for legislative assemblies to impose restrictions, rules, and conditions.

So the only actual question is which restrictions, rules and conditions? …

To me, “well regulated” sounds like a driver’s license. No one can be banned from driving, without cause. But behave irresponsibly, or fail to get enough training and skills to drive well, and you don’t get to drive. I think guns ownership is analogous. We can’t impose universal, and foolishly vague, restrictions on the ownership of modern guns. But we can require registration, background checks, classes and tests to show proficiency, and threaten forfeiture if the right is used irresponsibly or to endanger others, even through negligence…

We can’t prevent individual events after they have happened. We should be developing a comprehensive vision of what the right to keep and bear arms, and regulating it well, would look like. We should go back to the Second Amendment, both parts.

Actually, we disagree on that “both parts,” but damn would it be awesome if we actually regulated guns as thoroughly as driving.  Heck, if we actually had that, I’d be mostly just fine with the “not be infringed” part.

And speaking of that well-regulation, here’s an interesting idea– find ways to keep guns away from angry people.  Seriously.  No, this will never be perfect, but there’s plenty of stuff we can do.  Alex Yablon in the Atlantic:

But as that debate plays out, policymakers might also focus on a far more common precursor to gun violence, one that applies nearly universally to shooters of all types: anger…

A 2012 analysis by psychiatrists at Oxford University and Maastricht University compared studies of angry, impulsive personalities and found that such people have “substantially increased risk of violent outcomes” compared to the general population.

People with personalities inclined to violence are usually obvious to their peers and coworkers and have a documented history of antisocial conduct, said Jeffrey Swanson, a Duke University psychiatry professor who studies behaviors associated with violence. They often progress to deadly violence after committing smaller acts like making threats, smashing objects, and assaulting others, he says.

“Most people who commit serious crimes, that’s not where they began,” he says. “They didn’t just start committing gun homicides.”

The roster of America’s most notorious mass shooters is populated by young, angry men who regularly displayed antisocial behavior before they carried out attacks…

Keeping firearms away from angry, violent people is a formidable challenge, made immeasurably harder by loopholes that allow gun purchasers to arrange weapon sales online, at gun shows, and from private sellers without screening. But understanding how rage can boil over into violence, and searching out ways to calm the anger and remove guns from people most likely to use them in acts of violence, should be a public policy imperative, researchers say.

Well, then, that seems pretty clear.  Let’s start by eliminating these loopholes and actually “well-regulating” who can possess a gun.

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Photo of the day

From Josh Hydeman’s instagram:

Strawberry Moon rising over the craters

A post shared by Josh Hydeman (@josh_hydeman) on

Least surprising chart of the month

I love this Reuters‘ “Exclusive” on the racial views of Trump voters.  I don’t know that these particular survey questions have been asked of Trump supporters, but the unenlightened racial views of Trump supporters is not exactly news.  Anyway, here’s the not-surprising chart:

Brexit and the human problem

Though I enjoy posting Bill Ayers thoughts on a variety of different topics, his political science expertise is in ethnic conflict and identity.  Thus, I found his take on Brexit particularly compelling.  Really good stuff, so I’ll excerpt and highlight liberally…

While he doubtless disapproves of spitting on people in parking lots, George Will signaled his approval for this sort of nationalism in a recent column (which you can read here), which he titled “Britain’s welcome revival of nationhood”. He couches his argument in terms of the political centralization of power and control in Europe, but it’s really an argument about identity and community. He rails against “cultural homogenization” and lauds the desire “to live on our land, under our laws, our values and with respect to our identity”.

What Will is blithely assuming here, of course, is that we have a common understanding of who is “us” and who is “them”. Moreover, he is also assuming (without saying so) that the best way for humans to live is for all of “us” to get together in our community, and all of “them” to go live somewhere else. [emphases mine]

This notion of homogenous, exclusive communities is popular with some (though not all) “conservative” thinkers. It’s usually rooted in an unexamined base of primordialism – the notion that “nations” have an “essential” character that is deeply historical, often ancient. Britons are British, therefore, because … well, because they’re British. The history behind these groups is usually fantasy and myth, but people like it anyway.

The instinct for gathering communities of like-minded people with whom we are comfortable is an understandable one. Social psychology has long established that this is in the nature of the human-as-social-animal: the desire both to be connected to others and to be distanced from others, which social identity theorists identify as the primary purpose of groups. If I’m in a group, by definition there must be some other people who are NOT in my group – there is an “us” and a “them”.

While he doubtless disapproves of spitting on people in parking lots, George Will signaled his approval for this sort of nationalism in a recent column (which you can read here), which he titled “Britain’s welcome revival of nationhood”. He couches his argument in terms of the political centralization of power and control in Europe, but it’s really an argument about identity and community. He rails against “cultural homogenization” and lauds the desire “to live on our land, under our laws, our values and with respect to our identity”.

What Will is blithely assuming here, of course, is that we have a common understanding of who is “us” and who is “them”. Moreover, he is also assuming (without saying so) that the best way for humans to live is for all of “us” to get together in our community, and all of “them” to go live somewhere else.

This notion of homogenous, exclusive communities is popular with some (though not all) “conservative” thinkers. It’s usually rooted in an unexamined base of primordialism – the notion that “nations” have an “essential” character that is deeply historical, often ancient. Britons are British, therefore, because … well, because they’re British. The history behind these groups is usually fantasy and myth, but people like it anyway.

The instinct for gathering communities of like-minded people with whom we are comfortable is an understandable one. Social psychology has long established that this is in the nature of the human-as-social-animal: the desire both to be connected to others and to be distanced from others, which social identity theorists identify as the primary purpose of groups. If I’m in a group, by definition there must be some other people who are NOT in my group – there is an “us” and a “them”…

But there is an argument here which goes beyond the economic to the moral and social. Simply put, what kind of society do we want to live in?And what kind of citizen do I want to be within my community? Do I want to only interact with people like me and avoid others as much as possible? How do I think the stranger, the “other”, should be treated? Is it OK if I draw the boundary of my identity narrowly and reject everyone outside of those lines?

These aren’t “liberal” questions or “conservative” questions – they are fundamentally human questions. The answers have political implications, but the questions are not essentially political, they are moral and social. In my view, I cannot square narrow nationalism with any understanding of the Christian faith, and any attempt to do so would simply be selfishness on my part. The value and worth of every human is the same in the eyes of God. How we negotiate living nearby and interacting
with each other is a matter of details, based on (hopefully) mutual respect for a common humanity.

The only other alternative, despite Will’s attempt to deny it, really is isolationism. If you want to be honestly isolationist and not interact at all with people who are different, that’s fine – have at it. But if you want to live in modern society, you don’t have much of a choice. And being angry at, or afraid of, other people is simply a recipe for violence.

Great stuff.

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