June 21, 2016

Elevator Talk on Guns

The cavernous divide between Americans on Guns is startling. On many contentious issues, I suggest people understand the other side's position. They certainly do not accept it, and may likely not admit it, but in disagreements over gay rights and even abortion, down very deep, most interlocutors know the other side's arguments on some level.

On guns, I am startled that this is not the case. As a late-life convert to Second Amendment rights, maybe I can look across the divide one way. Guns are scary, and wishing a world without them is illogical but understandable. (My elevator talk on that aspect is "Yeah, we tried that. It's called the Middle Ages. The biggest meanest guy gets everything he wants.")

But on #commonsensegunregulation which 90% of Americans want if only the #meanoldNRA would let them have it, I have a new spiel. It's consequentialist and may not go over well here, but here's tryin'. Plus I'm certain my more knowledgeable peers can tighten the technical arguments as well.

Despite what the "do something" politicians say there's no low hanging fruity on gun legislation.

"Assault Weapons" are distinguished by cosmetic features. Standard hunting rifles are frequently much more lethal than the scary looking guns that are to be regulated. The AR-15 is wildly popular because it is comfortable, lightweight, and customizable. There have been 30 million guns sold on that platform -- not to 30 million serial killers, but 30 million sportsmen, hunters and self defense enthusiasts. I surmise that a lot of Toyotas are used in crimes. It's not a "criminal's car" but a popular car full stop.

Almost all legal sales are subject to background checks. The idea that multiple loopholes can be quickly plugged is simply not true. Private sales are still allowed. In a true story, I sold one and gave one away when I moved. It was to an ex-cop who was a good friend of mine. Trust me, those will not be employed in crime. Should I really have been forced to go to a dealer and pay money to run a background check?

If you want to discuss radially reducing gun owners' rights and access to weapons, fine that is a conversation to have. But do not accept this idea that "commonsense" measures will stop criminals' access and not affect lawful users. Everything that fits that bill has been done.

Elevator Talk Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at June 21, 2016 3:14 PM

It turns out that common sense isn't as common as it used to be. Now it's a different kind of sense that one typically encounters - nonsense.

Posted by: johngalt at June 21, 2016 5:15 PM

There's a bumper sticker I've seen that says: Common Sense is so rare it should be declared a super power!

Posted by: nanobrewer at June 22, 2016 12:11 AM


Perhaps "common sense" is the problem. It is sold on the same rack as "common knowledge:" no proof or reason required. You just know that guns are bad.

Posted by: jk at June 22, 2016 9:23 AM

I had wanted to include the only Heinlein quote I could find on common sense, and now that brother jk has teed it up:

"I was just trying to show you," he went on, "just how insubstantial a 'common sense' idea can be when you pin it down. Neither 'common sense' nor 'logic' can prove anything. Proof comes from experiment, or to put it another way, from experience, and from nothing else." Chapter 10, "The Method of Science" (p. 105)

From the book 'Rocket Ship Galileo' (1947) which I haven't read. dagny?

Posted by: johngalt at June 22, 2016 1:53 PM

Probably read it. Don't remember it.

Posted by: dagny at June 22, 2016 5:56 PM | What do you think? [5]