Guns, Brexit, Anarchy?

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Since the Orlando shooting, I have been engaged in a few debates on Facebook with opponents of stricter gun control laws, some of whom seem to oppose any gun laws at all, claiming that they have an unfettered Second Amendment right to own guns.  Although I disagree with the current interpretation of the law, as set forth by the late and unlamented Justice Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller, even Scalia recognized:

nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. (Emphasis added)

And just the other day, Clarence Thomas, arguably one of the the worst Justices in history, even admitted, in his dissent in Voisine v. United States:

The protections enumerated in the Second Amendment, no less than those enumerated in the First, are not absolute prohibitions against government regulation. (Emphasis added)

So, let’s ignore the Second Amendment absolutists, since they are just wrong.  But beyond that, I have heard most of the arguments that you would expect–the need for people to protect themselves and their families, the “good guy with a gun” argument (which I, and many others, think is a myth), and the unreasonable fear that gun control is just a precursor to the government taking away even more rights.

The one argument that really pisses me off is the one that is usually referred to as “if guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns,”also known as the “Lawbreaker Paradox.” (I’ve also seen this argued as, “the current laws we had didn’t stop whichever tragedy is in the news.”)  In other words, why create strict laws preventing widespread gun ownership if criminals will simply ignore the laws.  In response, I have posed the question on Facebook and otherwise: If that is what you believe, why have any laws at all?  Why have a drinking age, when underage drinkers will just get around it?  Why have a speed limit, when people speed?  Why have drug laws, when we know people still use illegal drugs?  Why have laws making murder or stealing illegal, when criminals will just ignore them?

Why then, do gun laws have to be 100% effective in preventing harm, when other criminal laws, that are also ignored by criminals, are OK?  No one has even tried to respond (except for one clown who simply dismissed this question as “stupid,” demonstrating only his own lack of understanding of both logic and polite discourse), which is one reason why I’m throwing this out to a wider group than just my Facebook circle.  But I think the answer to why this fallacy seems to have such wide credence can be explained in three letters and one symbol:  N-R-A and $.

It seems to me that one main purpose of society is to determine what is legal and what is not legal, and to punish those who engage in illegal activity.  Saying that a law shouldn’t be enacted because it will not be followed 100% essentially means that no laws should exist, leading to anarchy.

Of course, in the absence of the rule of law, it is likely that more people will need guns to protect themselves.  Is that the end game of the NRA and its allies?

I’d also like to make a brief reference to the success of Brexit (and not only to tie this piece to the song), which was apparently based on two concerns–irrational xenophobia (which I won’t address here) and a desire to be free from EU laws.  Again, we see how easy sound bites can trump (pun intended) logic.  Certainly, leaving the EU won’t mean that Parliament will simply allow for anarchy.  To the extent that Britain decides to negotiate treaties to retain access to the EU market it would almost certainly have to accept, like Norway, the bulk of the EU rules that Brexit will allegedly free it from.  And where EU rules lapse, Parliament will have to either pass new laws to fill the gap (or not, presumably), or simply continue the EU ones.

So, how about it?  If you don’t think that gun laws should be strengthened, to include more protections to try to stop not only mass killings, but all gun deaths, because “then only criminals will have guns,” feel free to use the comments to explain why this doesn’t make you an anarchist, who would be fine making heroin legal, allowing 5 year olds to drive cars, and let food companies put sawdust in your food.

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3 Responses to Guns, Brexit, Anarchy?

  1. Mike says:

    I do not own a gun nor do I care to. That said my problem with this is we have a provision in the US Constitution on how to repeal or change an ammendment. Change or repeal the 2nd Ammendment the proper way. It should not eminate from the oval office or the court house.

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  2. But Mike, you apparently missed the part of the piece where I quote Justice Scalia, from the Heller case, when he clearly acknowledges that the Second Amendment is not absolute–“laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” are permissible. So the Amendment doesn’t need to be repealed or changed to permit the imposition of limitations on the sale of arms.

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  3. Pingback: Uncle Tupelo–Gun | Another Old Guy

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