I’m still working on my response to James Kelly, because – frankly – he deserves my best effort.
Don’t read into that something that isn’t there.
I’ve started and restarted the essay at least a half-dozen times, and during that period James has written not one, but two new pieces, as have others.
One piece I think everyone should read is by Nate of Guns and Bullets!, In conflicts of vision, temperament wins the day. Some of you will recognize yourselves there, I hope.
I have said more than once that we are often our own worst enemies, but that I understand the anger and frustration that results from what has been described as “a decades-long slow-motion hate crime” against gun owners. I have endeavored to avoid that here unless provoked first, and James has not provoked.
So I owe him an honest and thorough response. I find it interesting that when we started this exchange back in April of last year, James characterized it as :
. . . an utterly pointless discussion . . .
but he agreed to engage, and did so in a follow-up post, which was followed by 84 comments at the end of which he declared:
My position is now that the debate is closed at this site.
However, since then he has written an additional seven posts (to my, I believe, three) and he has remained civil in all of them. (A bit snarky, but civil.)
I have accepted that James and I have different first principles, and that our discussion on the topic of gun control will not (nor did I ever expect it to) convince either of us to change our position on the topic. The purpose remains to provide a forum for those looking for understanding to see the two sides presented as well as possible, with all warts and flaws exposed, so that they may decide for themselves.
I remain convinced, as does James, that my side of the argument is the most compelling. I’ve met very few people who have gone from being gun-rights supporters to gun control advocates, but many (like Nate and Weer’d Beard) who have been convinced by exposure to the facts that gun control – well, let Nate say it, since he did it so well:
I was turned from collectivism to individualism during several years’ worth of disastrous college experiences in communal living and unpleasant but forced interactions with a sociopathic collectivist. My faith in my new beliefs was further reinforced by enrollment in several economics courses, and when I landed a good job that earned me more money than my friends, I was dismayed by their jealousy and resentment. Then I bought my first gun, and things snowballed from there.
You could show me all the facts in the world that individualism and gun ownership make society unsafe and I still wouldn’t be convinced that human freedom is worth curtailing. Just as we tried bombarding Mr. Kelly with facts showing that his favored restrictions were the culprit of the UK’s rising crime wave, it didn’t make a difference to him. I can’t blame him for this because we all do the same.
In James’ latest piece, he asked:
One of the issues I raised with Kevin Baker’s Fan Club the other day in my ten question challenge was suicide, and whether restrictions on gun ownership wouldn’t be an effective way of making it harder for people to take their own lives. This (remarkably) is the only one of the ten questions that anyone has felt able to respond to so far, seventy-two hours into the challenge, and the response came from Kevin himself, in the form of a link to a long blog post he wrote on the subject in 2004. With characteristic theatricality, the post claims to establish indisputable proof that there is no problem whatever – despite this being an issue over which, on further investigation, it turns out there is significant academic dispute. However, when I thought about it some more, the question that really intrigued me was why Kevin would have gone to all the trouble of writing that post six years ago.
Because it’s people like Nate I want to reach. It’s for people like Nate that I started writing this blog seven years ago.
I’m not at all surprised that what James took from that piece was the (mistaken) belief that my intent was to prove “that there is no problem whatever.” It was not. It was to illustrate that the claims of the other side are not provable. That those claims do not stand up to investigation. That those simple, obvious, commonsense propositions aren’t so simple, obvious, or commonsense when examined against reality. That when you dig into the facts, it can cause honest, undecided, openminded people to reconsider their positions. To once again quote Colin Greenwood from that piece that James found “incomprehensible, logic-bending,” and “pseudo-scientific”:
At first glance, it may seem odd or even perverse to suggest that statutory controls on the private ownership of firearms are irrelevant to the problem of armed crime; yet that is precisely what the evidence shows. Armed crime and violent crime generally are products of ethnic and social factors unrelated to the availability of a particular type of weapon.
The number of firearms required to satisfy the crime market is small, and these are supplied no matter what controls are instituted. Controls have had serious effects on legitimate users of firearms, but there is no case, either in the history of this country or in the experience of other countries in which controls can be shown to have restricted the flow of weapons to criminals, or in any way reduced crime.
As James said in his opening piece, his arguments are honest, and come from “deeply-held principles.” Of this, I have no doubt. But I am used to being lied to by my opponents, and admit that this is the default reaction I have developed over the years. So my apologies, James, if I offended.
And my apologies to my readers (my “fan club” as James styles them) for once again delaying the next Überpost. James will, undoubtedly, find it “incomprehensible” and “logic-bending,” but I’m expecting that. I’m not writing it for him. I’m writing it for people like Nate who I hope will join us in the fight against those who wish to curtail human freedom in the name of making us feel safe.