Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Political.

Warning:  The forthcoming blog post contains some of my socio-political beliefs. 
Warning:  If you think me some sort of monster because of them, not only am I not sorry, I am actually quite happy to have offended you so.
Warning:  You have been warned.

The media coverage in the aftermath of last week’s incident leaves me somewhere between shock and rage.  In less than 48 hours, ABCNews had already begun framing the “debate” for “gun control” with (mis)leading “facts,” including a Gallop poll with absolutely no indication of the sample size or demographics involved.  When I watched the other night, I literally threw up in my mouth a little.  This brings me to my first point.

Freedom of Speech does NOT equal Freedom from Responsibility.

“But Cydearrm,” you may ask, “what does that mean?”  Because I’m an opinionated guy, I’ll be happy to explain.  A mainstay of codified journalistic standards, alongside accuracy (among other things), is objectivity.  Sadly, most news sources have completely abandoned this tenet.  I’ll reference ABCNews again, as that was what I actually watched.  During the broadcast, the anchor repeatedly emphasized that the weapons used were “high-powered rifles,” and mentioned “America’s appetite for guns.”  It’s bad enough that the media glorifies the people who commit these atrocities by putting their names and faces on national television and the internet (don’t forget applying catchy monikers like “the Batman killer”), which can only serve to motivate others to perform their own violence, but then they push an agenda with their reporting.  This all happens, of course, while not reporting an attempted hospital shooting that was stopped by trained, armed, law enforcement personnel.  Also not reported:  a school attack in China where over 20 people were killed.  The weapon used?  A knife.

In case you weren’t paying attention, the not-so-objective media outlet is not-so-subtly pushing for the not-so-objective agenda of more gun laws.  Apparently, making it more difficult for the sane, responsible, law-abiding majority of Americans to own weapons will stop these things from happening.  Here’s my second point.

Criminals, by definition, are not deterred by laws.

Case in point in current events:  Drugs.  Case in point in American history:  Alcohol.  The only thing the “War on Drugs” accomplished was to strengthen the most organized drug cartels.  Prohibition only made organized crime richer and bolder.  Restricting gun ownership or purchasing is only going to make gun dealers richer.  Supply and demand.

I suppose now would be a good time to point out that Switzerland’s gun ownership rate is very high due to its mandatory military service.  The vast majority of weapons owned there are the very same “high-powered rifles” that the media was so kind to demonize the other night.  Their rate of gun crimes is absurdly low, as well.  What I’m trying to get at is that there isn’t a correlation one way or the other between gun ownership and gun crime.

Next, I think I’ll rant about the legality of limiting the ability of Americans to own guns.  To put it bluntly, it isn’t legal.  I’ll point you to both the traditional interpretation of the second amendment, and to District of Columbia vs. Heller.  Both state that the second amendment refers specifically to an individual’s right to a weapon.  “But Cydearrm,” you might ask, “what about the safety of our children?”  To which I might reply, “why not arm teachers?  Israel does, and they don’t have problems with school shootings.”  I might also reply “why not detail armed, uniformed, law enforcement personnel to the schools?”  The high schools in my area have them.  Not only are serious investigations (drug dealing, bomb threats, etc) handled more quickly, but the students at my alma mater genuinely liked and looked up to my stepfather during his several years on detail there.  Sounds like a win-win situation. 

I think gun control should be one of the hard questions we look at as a society.  However, I don’t think this is a problem you can legislate away.  I’m convinced that taking guns away from the rest of us won’t actually help things, and I think giving up our constitutional rights is about the worst possible thing to do right now.  This finally leads to my last point, which I’ll close with.  A quote, from Ben Franklin.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.