Tiny Thoughts 007 — Guns and gun control

I’ve been silent on many important news stories mainly because I’m tired of debating sound bites and the oversimplification of complex subjects. Plus, it’s unlikely my effort to shed light on a topic would influence anyone into changing their minds.

For instance, the abortion discussion (what little I’ve forced myself to read) is supremely ‘dumbified’ with both sides resorting to hyperbole in attempts to garner justification for their position. For the record, I favor a woman’s right to choose, mainly because I recognize the decision is rarely frivolous and often the last resort. I would be pro-life if sex education and contraception were widely available and administered. But, in the end, it’s personal autonomy that’s foremost in my mind. The term ‘forced labor’ has a double meaning for this topic but carries the same connotations.

But today, it’s back to guns, specifically school shootings and gun control. FSM knows I’ve written a lot about it, all easily found in the menu or by a simple search. When I heard about the latest shooting, I resolved, much like with abortion, to let things pass. Instead, I follow a site where I thought — erroneously, as it turns out — a reasonable discussion was shaping up. So, I contributed.

I don’t know if it was a coincidence or whether I brought them out (either is possible), but that’s when the “It’s simple!” and “Just do this!” factions came out in force. Thus, I let myself get dragged into conversations about stuff that, were it simple, we would have solved decades ago.

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to provide some previously shared references and new references so that people who think “It’s simple!” might educate themselves. And because my tone might grate on people who have no respect for me as a person, I won’t use my words; I’ll just point you to other people’s words that I mostly agree with.

I start with three essays from one of my favorite thinkers, Sam Harris.

The first, The Truth About Violence, attempts to educate readers about a subject that — I believe — few anti-gun activists are familiar with. They might be somewhat knowledgeable about violence in the abstract, but not personally, viscerally. Of course, I could be wrong, in which case I don’t understand their reaction to that experience.

The second, The Riddle of the Gun, is something the anti-gun crowd needs to read to get a glimpse of the thinking of many people — like me — who see the usefulness and necessity of owning a gun.

The third, FAQ on Violence, addresses criticisms Harris received in response to the first two articles.

I’m not asking anyone to agree with him (or me), but at least be familiar with the thinking. There is another link from Harris to a video of THIS podcast. I also link the YouTube VIDEO because I’m not sure the podcast is available to non-subscribers.

The nearly two-hour interview deals with police shootings and people’s behavior when dealing with police officers. That’s in the first half. The second half deals with civilian ownership and use of guns. If you’re only interested in the civilian part, go to the one-hour mark, but the first hour is also very informative if the police ever stop you.

Next up, Beau of the Fifth Column. The first few videos are from three years ago, around the time of another shooting. The fact these videos are still relevant is a source of frustration to me and anyone who wants to see progress toward lowering (even if not eliminating) the number of mass — and especially school — shootings.

THIS LINK will bring up the series of videos.

One note of caution; Beau looks like a MAGA poster child and has the speech pattern to match (I believe he’s from Georgia). He is, in fact, pretty far left of center in all social and political issues. Whether you agree with him or not, his videos on nearly every topic are worth watching. If you don’t want to watch all the videos, watch at least the first three. It will give you the background you need for an intelligent conversation regardless of which side of the gun debate you favor.

For those who are impatient, I’ll warn you that Beau has a slow Southern drawl. You might want to change the playback speed to 1.25 or even 1.5 (most people these days have the attention span of a gnat), but regardless of how you listen, make an effort to do so.

I considered commenting on a few things he says that I don’t wholly agree with, but my readers are adults; they can form opinions without them having to hear mine.

One thing that always comes up in these discussions is comparisons to other countries. I don’t know why I should even have to say this, but you cannot compare countries without considering a multitude of factors besides their gun laws. We are not in the UK or Canada, where the right to self-defense doesn’t exist. We are not Japan, where a city like Tokyo sees maybe 50 muggings a year.

And so it goes.

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