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More on guns

I really don’t want to get into the whole gun debate here. It’s been done to death in blogdom, and frankly I find the whole thing boring. If there’s one issue on which a lot of bloggers (including myself) who otherwise consider themselves bastions of critical thinking do a lousy job of seeing other perspectives, it’s guns.

That said, I want to address a couple of points raised by Megan McArdle. First, as Megan says in the comments to this post, I did not and do not advocate a ban on guns. I’ll get back to this in a minute. My point in picking on Glenn Reynolds was that his argument about guns as a metaphor for cars can be easily turned around to support something he wouldn’t like. As this site shows, gun control advocates do exactly that. They try to turn it back around, but I think they get into hairsplitting. If the ultimate aim of registration and licensing is acheived, I don’t think gun control advocates will care whether it’s at the federal or state level.

I think the confusion comes from this statement that Megan makes:

Because the fundamental aim of the more prominent groups is to outlaw handguns entirely, and in some cases long guns as well. The fundamental vision of the gun control groups is that there is no legitimate right to self defense with a weapon.

Well, for what it’s worth, here’s the Mission Statement at Handgun Control:

As the largest national, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center are dedicated to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in their communities. The Brady Campaign and the Brady Center believe that a safer America can be achieved without banning all guns.

The Brady Campaign works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies through grassroots activism, electing progun control public officials and increasing public awareness of gun violence.

The Brady Center works to reform the gun industry and educate the public about gun violence through litigation and grassroots mobilization, and works to enact and enforce sensible regulations to reduce gun violence including regulations governing the gun industry.

Emphasis added. Of course, there’s lots of room for weaseling there, since they say “all” guns. But still, that’s what they claim.

Now obviously, their view of “sensible” gun laws and Megan’s are different. For that matter, their view and mine are, too. I think if I had a beer with Megan, we’d find we’re not too far apart on this issue.

I used to be very anti-gun. I didn’t grow up with guns, so I don’t have any of our “gun culture” in me. Perhaps that’s why they don’t give me the feeling of security they give some folks. For the record, to answer Swen Swenson’s claim that “[y]ou are far better off defending yourself with a gun than you would be going mano e mano with ball bats against some 250# goblin,” I’d rather face that scenario than deal with a goon with a gun. For one thing, I might be able to outrun the 250-pound goon. I might even be able to disarm him before he can get a good swing at me – all I need is some room, a rock to throw, and good aim. I ain’t outrunning a bullet, and if he’s got the drop on me my piece isn’t gonna help me much. I should say that I have had several opportunities to fire guns, both handguns and rifles. I still don’t much like them, but they don’t mystify me.

My position on guns began to change as I realized that a virulent anti-gun stance is not consistent with many of my other beliefs. I believe in abortion rights. As such, the argument that [a]ll of the gun control laws – some 20,000 of them – were proposed as ‘reasonable restrictions’ – ‘just between us folks of good will’ has some resonance with me, since it’s exactly the tactic that the anti-abortion advocates have been using. Of course, abortion rights has only a reversible Supreme Court ruling on which to hang its hat while gun rights has an actual by-god Amendment to act as a backstop. But still, I couldn’t reconcile the dichotomy, so I had to adapt. My strong feelings about the First Amendment took me further along this path.

Of course, as Megan herself has written, Constitutional rights are not unlimited. “Constitutional rights can be regulated, so long as the regulation is narrowly constructed to resolve a particular, definite harm,” says she. I like her approach to education as a prerequisite for ownership. I’d want some assurance that there’d be a way to prevent felons from getting certified, and to remove certification once someone gets convicted. That opens the background check can-o-worms, but you’re gonna have a hard time convincing me that the state has no compelling interest in keeping guns away from criminals. If we’re still talking after that point, then we can argue over the least intrusive way to make this work and still be effective.

Maybe the misunderstanding is mine. My stance on guns has moved away from close agreement with the Brady folks, perhaps far enough that they wouldn’t consider me one of them. Down here in a gun-loving state, I’m considered a gun control nut. Megan lives in New York City, which is a very anti-gun place. It’s also full of the elitism that she refers to. I grew up there, I recognize what she’s talking about. I suppose Megan stands out as a gun rights nut in NYC. It’s all about the perspective.

Anyway. I’d rather talk about sports. Is it baseball season yet?

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