Thursday, February 28, 2008

Guns Save Lives

In some of my recent postings on the NIU shooting, I have raised the question of what unarmed citizens should do when they are attacked by gunmen. There is no easy answer to that question because obviously gunmen have an unfair advantage when they attack unarmed citizens. These unarmed citizens can call the police. But by the time the police arrive, many people are already dead.

This problem becomes acute particularly for "gun-free zones" like schools and shopping malls, which have become the favorite places for crazed gunmen to go looking for easy victims.

There is an alternative: allow citizens to defend themselves by carrying concealed handguns. In fact, as John Stossel has argued in a recent essay, there have been some recent cases where gunmen going to schools and malls have been stopped by citizens with guns.

If there are any natural rights at all, there must be a natural right to defend oneself against homicidal violence by using whatever weapon will stop the aggressor. So why shouldn't law-abiding citizens have the right to use guns to defend themselves?


Mark Frank said...

"there must be a natural right to defend oneself against homicidal violence by using whatever weapon will stop the aggressor"

I would think most people would support this. However, very few people would say this right applies whatever the cost to others. So this adds nothing new to the usual discussion about balancing the benefits of self-defence against other factors such as the difficulties concealed weapons present to the police, the affect on overall culture, and the danger that the right to own a concealed weapon will eventually turn into pressure to have one even if you don't want to .

Memetic Warrior said...

"...the difficulties concealed weapons present to the police"

True, but this may be also an advantage when political conditions derive into dictatorship.

USA has a incredible record of political stability, whereas many european countries passed troug revolutions, dictatorships and state wars. Maybe the ban of arms in Europe has some influence on that. In contrast, Switzerland, where private arms are not only a right but a constitutional obligation, is also very stable.

In general, countries shaped by anarchical emigration with no previous state power have retained the right to use arms after the state has formed. Now the elite in power, as expected, is promoting disarmment for obvious reasons, as occur in old nations. But I think this will end up in political instability. Self defense is not a panacea, but state monopoly on that matter facilitates the road to dictatorship.

Mark Frank said...

memetic warrior

My main point was that establishing a right to defend yourself against homicide adds nothing to the debate, unless you are arguing for a right to defend yourself whatever the cost.

Your point is one of the many pros and cons for gun control of various kinds. It is pretty hard to prove the political consequences of more or less gun control. The UK, Canada and Australia are all just as stable as the USA (maybe more so, none of them had a major civil war in the last two hundred years)and have more gun control. Switzerland has been stable since before guns were ever an issue. I live in the UK and I would say that our level of gun control is a result of political stability. My (unproven) feelins is that most people just don't see any need to own guns and would prefer not to live in a country where ownership is expected/approved.

Memetic Warrior said...

As far as I know, Canada laws about arms are similar to USA. I don´t know the case of Australia, but I gues that it is more like USA and Canada because it is a frontier country. People in switzerland keep his military arms in house. I guess, from the beginning of switzerland.

I do not say that arms are a panacea, nor that people with arms are the solution for all conflicts.

Uk and scandinavian countries have bans over arms and yet they are very stable. I have my own weak theories about why this is so, It does not matter here and now, but perhaps armed people would not admit 90% of marginal income tax such these countries have had, without a popular revolution.

Count this 90-95% as (consented) state tyrany.

"My (unproven) feelins is that most people just don't see any need to own guns and would prefer not to live in a country where ownership is expected/approved."

True, most people like that, specially the people that have other means to protect themselves, more specially the ones that have people with arms around them paid by us. for example, politicians, lawyers, and the rest of the governing elite.

Don`t count among them the people that have been killed roobbed, raped etc..


Memetic Warrior said...

Don't get my point as strong as it seems: I admit that there are valid arguments agains my position. But essentially, the point of Mr Arnhart is that you can not prohibit people to defend themselves, and there are tragic examples of how NOT to legislate.

Mark Frank said...

memetic warrior - in caes you are interested -

This Wikipedia article gives a nice summary of international gun control.

And this gives international taxation rates (the 90% figure is about 20 years out of date and only applied to Sweden as far as I know)