Sunday, December 23, 2012

JS Bangs: A Call to Inaction

Bangs inks to this and shares a few of his own thoughts.

I'll quote from part of the linked article:

Unlike many libertarians, I am fine with a ban on automatic weapons. But no need to hop over to to start a petition to ban them; machine guns have been illegal in the United States since 1934, and since the 1980s, it has been illegal to manufacture and sell any automatic weapon. Apparently unbeknownst to Twitter, we have also already made it illegal for the mentally ill to buy or have guns, and have background checks aimed at prevented just that.
But beyond the strange calls to make serial killers pray more and outlaw things that are already illegal, the most interesting thing is how generic they were. As soon as Newtown happened, people reached into a mental basket already full of "ways to stop school shootings" and pulled out a few of their favorite items. They did not stop to find out whether those causes had actually obtained in this case.

So a ban on things that are already illegal wouldn't have made what happened less likely to happen.  Armed schoolteachers would not have made a shooter less likely to shoot a bunch of people.  Violent video games can't be construed as necessarily having caused what happened.  Even if we account for a synergy of all the independent variables there's no way we can really say that what happened was something that could have been prevented by any one magical policy change any of us would like to see implemented.  There will be no end, however, to ideologically driven idiots left, right or even libertarian proposing that now is the time to exploit the occasion to push for something that seems reasonable to one proponent and insane to others.  But perhaps the real insanity is imagining that in a world as big as ours with the possibilities it has that these kinds of massacres either "shouldn't" happen or "couldn't" happen even after we've done everything possible. 

Some of my married friends have said that there is no form of birth prevention that is 100% failproof.  Sometimes despite all odds a baby is conceived and born.  Death is the same way, it can burst in upon us no matter what reasonable precautions we may take to forestall or completely evade death in any given circumstance.

At close enough range with enough velocity even rubber bullets can kill people. 

There's a terrible syllogism that tends to follow on tragedies like this:
1. Something must be done
2. This is something
3. Therefore this must be done.
. . . and hello, Gulf War II.

And everything with it.  What is sad is that I've seen people who backed Gulf War II and the War on Terror eight and ten years ago who, now that a Democrat is in office, believe that the things they backed years ago as necessary are civil rights violations now.  Why is this sad?  It should be obvious but it probably won't be to everyone--ideologues don't care that solution A to problem B seems like a tyrannical act just so long as group C didn't come up with it or isn't able to implement it but if "my" group does, then it's necessary. 

There is, as Bangs puts it:

I understand that we want to do something. But sometimes we must consider the fact that there is nothing to be done.

Those people died and that's as obvious as it gets that there is nothing now that could be done to have saved them and there's not necessarily anything that could be done that is constitutional that will prevent such a thing from happening in the future.

There could be a disturbed young man here in my town. Tomorrow he could steal a weapon, go to the preschool, and kill my boys. There is nothing I could do to stop him.

This is the fear that haunts the calls to action. This could happen to any of us. And if it did, there is nothing we could do about it—but we desperately wish that there was.



Len said...

Machine guns are legal. If you have the $$, here are some for sale right now:

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

And then there is the view of the Kyle's Mom, the Activist with the Righteous Cause:

"25 kids killed in a Schoolyard Massacre by the latest Do-it-Yourself-Reality-Show Star? WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO PUSH *OUR* AGENDA!!!!"

"Never let a crisis go to waste."
-- Rahm Emmanuel, Chicago Dem Political Machine Boss