There are a lot of potential threads to follow from the murder of nine churchgoers in Charleston’s most historic black church. I’m only posting historical links rather than new material in part to emphasize this crucial reality – we’ve seen this movie before.
The United States is the only place on Earth where violence of this character happens on a regular, ongoing basis. That is not an accident. Somehow we have become numb to this absurdity. We don’t even try to do anything about it anymore. Here’s a summary of a few topics around gun violence and psycho killers:
The Growing Risk of Political Violence
For starters, let’s be clear on what did and did not happen. The incident in South Carolina is not terrorism or political violence. It is vital that we understand the difference between the actions of isolated lunatics and the growing danger of organized, strategic political killing.
“Perhaps our normal (perhaps there’s a better word…) ecosystem of psycho killers is responding to something in the water that the rest of us are failing, so far, to notice. As we dump more and more toxic rhetoric into our political swamp, those tortured souls may be acting as our crazy advanced warning system of larger troubles to come.”
Politics, Gun Control, and Psycho Killers
America’s spectacular, unregulated private arsenals are a problem. Pouring that much lethality into the general public will make it impossible to contain the impact of weirdos on the margins on society. We are basically ceding our liberty to crazy people who can take it away more or less at random.
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. However, people kill a lot more people, a lot faster, with a Bushmaster.
Some would say claim that Americans aren’t heavily armed enough. It’s true I suppose, that if we all had minefields in our yards and Gatling guns mounted on our roofs we would, for example, suffer fewer burglaries. We would also have fewer limbs. Life is full of tradeoffs.
We are paying a price in public safety for my ability to play with serious firepower. That’s an unavoidable fact. The political question is whether that price is worth paying.”
Gun Control in the Ownership Society
There is no credibly defensible reason why America should be the world’s peacetime leader in mass, random slaughter. Would we continue to have lunatics shooting up our private spaces if we required insurance for guns in the same manner that we do for automobiles?
A properly structured market can solve, or at least mitigate, a wide range of problems. Creating a market for gun safety through a simple, enforceable insurance obligation could radically reduce gun violence while protecting and even expanding the rights of competent, responsible gun owners. There is no sane argument against basic liability for negligent gun ownership.
“New proposals add more symbolic regulation on top of existing symbolic regulation. For example, an assault weapons ban sounds useful until you look at how vague the restrictions are. It is easy to circumvent them and also easy to accidentally violate them. Background checks are a modest help at the moment of purchase, but they don’t follow that gun through its lifespan. Our thinking around weapons regulation fails to address the need for choice bounded by accountability, transparency, and responsibility.
We need a new approach, but the effort to craft better laws is complicated by relative indifference to gun rights on one side and tin-hat paranoia on the other. Here’s an idea that might work.”