Category Archives: gun control

Would More Guns Have meant No Hitler?

I keep seeing this claim that banning guns was part of Hitler’s rise to absolute power, and the claim we need freely held and available guns as protector of freedom.  Do the claims make sense?

On the face of it a rebellion against a tyrant is almost certain to be illegal under the laws as created by a tyrant.  It is hard to see how a law against guns is anymore of a barrier than  numerous other restriction on liberty that would be expected under a tyrant.  If an armed rebellion is needed it would seem to me that we’d be outside the structure governed by laws and constitutions in the usual sense  How does gun regulation matter more or less?

Here’s a detailed review on the issue of Nazis and guns.  The claim that Obama is Hitler, as usual, seems silly.


Gun Control 2013 and Abortion 1973

We’ve all suffered from the hyper partisanship that has become our politics in 2013.  We used to expect politics to recognize that we didn’t agree on things, but attempt to organize society in a compromise that all could live with, at best anyway.  Now polarization is the order of the day, and politics is just blood sport:  endless conflict with little compromise.  How did this happen??

I think we can trace some of it to the rise of abortion as an issue.  This single issue has proved beyond compromise in any meaningful sense; but pro-choice has carried the day so far.  Pro-life advocates have none the less pushed an agenda of ending choice.  Little discussion has focused choice perhaps in the early months, but protection of the fetus there after.

The state of the pro-life pro-choice fight came I think at least in part from the imposition of ‘choice’ by supreme court ruling.  That happened of course in 1973.  Abortion rights were emerging before that.  California under the governor ship of Ronal Reagan signed expanded abortion rights into law before the court ruling.  Had stated moved ahead with different laws and the political process moved toward a more organically derived abortion result:  I think our politics today would be less polarized.   the political process should drive to avoid splitting the nation into armed or nearly armed camps.

Now I think we potentially face a similar cross roads in 2013.  There is talk of executive action to limit gun rights.  Many would proclaim it a great thing if gun rights were so curtailed.  I can see why.  We have a gun cult in the United States, and an obsession with guns and weapons in general.  Dear reader:  I am no fan of guns.  If I had God like power to make them all go away, I would.

If executive order is used to curtail guns I think this will enflame a huge gun rights movement that will further split and enflame our body politics.  David Frum says it pretty well:

If the president — any president — inserts himself into the gun debate, he will inevitably polarize it. Supporters of the president will rally, but opponents of the president will become more obdurate. Because the president has many items on his agenda, and often needs the votes of Democrats from districts where pro-gun feeling runs strong, his opponents will probably outlast him. …

Instead, progress to more rational gun laws must be led from outside the political system. Look at the success of the campaign against drunken driving.In 1980, 13-year-old Cari Lightner was struck and killed by a drunken driver. That driver had recently been arrested for another driving under the influence offense, but he remained on the road to kill again. Cari’s mother, Candice, threw herself into the cause of stopping drunken driving. A powerful organizer, she founded a group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that not only changed laws at the federal and state level, but also changed the larger cultural context.

My sense is that this issue especially will rise with Obama.

Your ideal World and Guns

It occurs to me that you could look at gun control two ways.  One is that it can’t be done effectively, and thus you oppose it.

Folks who think this focus on the if guns are illegal only criminals will have guns.  As a practical matter this has a lot to recommend it.  Rounding up the dangerous guns completely will almost certainly be impossible.  That said gun control likely wouldn’t have save the children of Sandy Hook.

But I find that I wonder something about gun advocates.  If you had God like power to eliminate all lethal weapons would you?  Do you oppose gun limits even if they could be made effective?

I tend to feel that aside from the practical difficulty of gun control, I’d favor no guns.  My thinking is the strong pro-gun folks even in principle like a heavily armed world.  Here’s a related take.

[UPDATE below.]

Suppose someone says, “You know, rather than waiting for the politicians in Washington DC to solve the nation’s drug problem, maybe parents ought to focus on keeping their own kids from using pot.”

Or, suppose a short guy said, “Be the change you to want to see in the world.”

Not only do I think the above statements are correct, I think the second one is downright profound.

And yet, apparently that makes me a non-economist. Here’s Russ Roberts commenting on the subject of today’s two-minute hate amongst libertarians (HT2 DK):

This short piece by Amitai Etzioni captures the difference between economists and non-economists. He says that rather than wait for gun control laws, we should just ban them in our own homes and post signs outside announcing that our homes are gun-free thereby becoming “ambassadors for gun control.”

I am reminded of the Hillaire Belloc poem:

Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight.
But Roaring Bill who killed him thought it right.

Look, I’m not being coy. The Etzioni piece is ridiculous, but not because of his opening line. That was actually one of the most sensible things I’ve heard since the awful events last week–if you’re for gun control, instead of asking the politicians to do it, do it yourself! Amen brother. I don’t have guns in my house, and I haven’t kept that a secret.

No, I don’t put up a sign about it, but Etzioni’s point with that was to make it clear to everyone that you personally will not tolerate guns on your property. Russ–and I’m just picking on him because 99.99% of libertarians undoubtedly shared his hilarity at Etzioni’s wide-eyed article–captures the difference between general and partial equilibrium analysis. I’d love to live in a society where 99% of the property owners have a big sign that nobody is allowed to enter the property with a gun. Oops no standing army or SWAT teams in that society; they’d have nowhere to stand. Are we sure it would really be so horrible a place to live?

I know, I know, violence is just so seductive that most of you are still sure I’m speaking nonsense. OK let me end with a poem myself, just like Russ did:

Pale Uncle Sam thought it wrong to use drones.
But Red China didn’t and caused many moans.

What’s the moral today, kids? Often times someone’s argument sounds “from the Onion” only because you disagree with his conclusion. The exact same argument in defense of your position would sound great, and you’d be exasperated with the “idiots!!” who dismissed you with glib poetry.

Last thing: I hope the above post doesn’t come off as an angry young man. Believe me, I understand why people are laughing at Etzioni, and I understand why Russ was just having a quick bit of fun. But by the same token, I can understand why people at MSNBC thought it was hilarious when Ron Paul suggested going back on gold or that US foreign policy might have invited 9/11. “What the heck?! What a weirdo thing to say, ha ha who is this old guy?”

UPDATE: I should be clear that I am not “for gun control” in the way most Americans would mean it. I don’t want armed guys from the government trying to make society gun-free, since that would be using violence to try to change the world–something I oppose as a pacifist.

Also, apparently Gandhi may not have actually said that famous “quote.”

Shooting Down Russ Roberts
Bob Murphy
Sat, 22 Dec 2012 04:44:39 GMT