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Post No.: 1004firearms


Furrywisepuppy says:


Following a mass shooting incident, some urge for fewer guns in civilian hands so that there are fewer guns that can do any shooting. Simultaneously, others urge for more guns in civilian hands to better protect against those who have guns.


According to the evidence, the first group make a better case.


This post is chiefly going to comment on the USA compared to a country like the UK, wherein the former is a country where firearms are relatively more easily accessible than in the latter…


According to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine in 2023, the USA experienced a >40x higher death rate from gun violence compared to the UK.


The UK isn’t perfect regarding gun crimes and deaths because the highly motivated can still source firearms from the black market – yet I prefer living in the UK than the USA because it’s safer regarding the threat of firearms. If you wish to cite countries like Finland and Switzerland, which exhibit relatively high gun ownership but low gun crime rates, yet simultaneously wish to reiterate the motto that ‘guns don’t kill people, people do’ – then pro-gun politicians and supporters in the US are basically saying that there’s something particularly deficient with American people. Because if it’s not the high firearms ownership rate that explains the high gun crimes rate in the USA then it’s the American people. ‘Guns don’t kill people, Americans do’! Even more reason that America should not be a country where guns are easily accessible. If it’s down to the generally poor mental health of Americans then sort out the US healthcare system. Sort out your own domestic concerns.


The rationale of ‘criminals will find a way to get hold of firearms if they really want them anyway’ isn’t a good reason to make or leave them relatively easily legally available – just like we still shouldn’t let child abusers abuse children just because they’ll find a way to access abusive images if they really want to find them anyway. If the dark web weren’t available, child abusers wouldn’t be able to abuse so easily and frequently. Indeed, child abuse has risen with the availability of this technology – just like homicides are higher wherever there’s the easier availability of firearms technology. A reduction in harm is surely better than nothing? It’s the combination of our genetics, our past and our present environment that influences our attitudes, choices, behaviours and outcomes – and firearms will be a part of our present environmental influences if they’re commonly around us. Post No.: 0997 by Fluffystealthkitten elucidated how objects play a mediating role that influences our decisions and actions, thus aren’t merely passive things in our environment. It’s worth reading it if you haven’t done so already.


Person A wishes to harm Person B and Person C, perhaps due to revenge, but doesn’t have enough physical strength to overcome the latter pair with just melee objects. Person A’s intention or desire to take revenge is thus constrained. But introduce a firearm and this affords or empowers Person A with the ability to take revenge with a higher chance of success. The functions of objects affect the decisions and actions of their users. Both the gun and person change – the person is different with the gun than without it; and the gun is different with the person than without him/her. It’s their combination – they’re transformed in their relation to one another.


Now Persons B and/or C could also get hold of firearms. This may make Person A think twice about shooting Persons B and/or C. However, shooting reasonably accurately and rapidly from range, which is afforded by firearms, allows Person A a greater chance of carrying out the attack(s) without being spotted first or possibly ever. When soldiers get the drop on an enemy, they’re not going to think ‘I’m not going to shoot them because I can see that they’re holding a gun or they might have one somewhere near them’(!) They’ll decide to make that shot, and the enemy won’t have an opportunity to react once they’re dead or severely incapacitated.


So an aggressor always has a big first-mover advantage of surprise over even multiple defenders when they all have firearms. This means that premeditated murders require a little more planning but unless the targets or their bodyguards are constantly brandishing their own firearms at their surroundings, paranoid of every dark or shaded corner or window, in hyper-vigilance (which would actually make them the threat to the peace hence it’s illegal), cocked and ready to shoot anyone who might surprise them – then possessing a firearm in such a situation isn’t much of a deterrent or protection. Drive-by shootings are one method – surprise, spray, slay then scarper fast – no need to engage in a two-way shoot-out, even if the targets were carrying three firearms on their persons each.


If the solution is for every citizen to carry a gun ready in the hand so that even if the first innocent person gets shot, others will instantly pounce upon the assailant – this will actually help the criminals with guns hide in plain sight even better until they spot a relatively safe opportunity for them to attack and stay stealthily hidden or rapidly flee. As a case in point – because many demonstrators during a protest in Dallas, Texas, in 2016 were openly carrying their firearms, it made it extremely difficult to identify the shooter(s) when shooting was heard. Pro-gun supporters there evidently couldn’t use the usual rhetoric of ‘if only everybody were carrying guns then the attack would’ve been deterred’ either(!)


And it’s a relative dystopia for any citizens to feel the need to constantly carry firearms and have itchy trigger fingers in an attempt to pre-empt potential perps from firing first. Well this precisely happens too frequently when US cops fire at and kill unarmed citizens whom they thought for a split-second were holding or trying to withdraw a firearm but weren’t. Everybody’s on edge in a country where guns are commonplace.


‘Bad citizens’ shoot first because they’re the ones who start fights, hence they always have the first-mover advantage. The ‘bad guys’ will shoot before the ‘frightened innocents’ even have a chance to get their own firearms out. A good citizen cannot shoot first otherwise they’ll by definition become the aggressor, or they’ll at least probably be using disproportionate force. So we should leave the shooting to law enforcement or the military – although, as stated, they sometimes make grave errors themselves, and this partly explains why certain segments of the public don’t trust the police to protect them. Public trust in the police must be raised.


Believing we’re the ‘good guy’ not the ‘bad guy’ can be subjective too, like nationalists who believe the threat are foreign people ‘invading their country’ through excessive immigration, so they arm themselves. Meanwhile, legal citizens who are ethnic minorities can believe that the threat are the former group, so they arm themselves. Everyone acting on their own individual self-interests and getting armed makes for a less rather than more safe place to live. We’d become a part of the problem we’re trying to defend against. It’s the ‘defect-defect’ prisoner’s dilemma equilibrium, which produces a lower payoff than the ‘cooperate-cooperate’ outcome.


In more detail, the absolute most powerful position for you as an individual is for you to have a gun whilst no one else has one. If others around you have firearms (or you suspect they do or will) then it’s probably best for you to have one too. But when lots of people (with various motivations and/or temperaments) have firearms then that collectively makes for a worse outcome for society overall than one where relatively few people or no one has firearms. Many US neighbourhoods are places where many people own firearms hence they have (as a ‘simplification’) fallen onto that Nash equilibrium. And since they have settled in this equilibrium, it’s going to be quite difficult to change the situation without something drastic. (This kind of game theory applies to (alliances of) countries and desiring or possessing e.g. autonomous drone swarms, space weapons and weapons of mass destruction, too.) So don’t be surprised to find others arming themselves if you’re arming yourself.


Fearing that others have guns, so one buys a gun, then more others buy guns because you’ve got a gun, just escalates an arms race where no one wins. Everybody ends up living in constant anxiety, stress and suspicion of others. Guns create and exacerbate the problem that more guns aim to solve(!) Everybody interprets each other’s ‘acts of defence’ as ‘acts of offence/escalation’. Fear is at the root of all aggression.


If ‘bad guys’ will always do bad things no matter what – then stop allowing them easy access to firearms that make their harms more destructive and easier to commit. And when hardened or organised criminals know that civilians might carry firearms, they’ll make sure they’ll always carry them – increasing the odds of lethal crimes that had no plan A to commit homicide, like when a criminal only wanted to steal something then escape (aggravated murder).


The cycle of fear, leading to shows of force, leading to more fear, and shows of force – in the end, the main winners are the firearms industry and lobby $$$. The social price for the liberty to keep and bear arms is colossal.


Some forward the argument ‘there are so many millions of guns in America yet only a tiny percentage of those guns are used in crimes hence banning guns would make little difference’. Alright then, according to that logic, ‘there are so many millions of people who are regarded as illegal aliens in America yet only a tiny percentage of these people would commit crimes with firearms hence background checks that take into account people’s permission to stay in America before they can own a firearm would make little difference’ too. In other words, if making this little difference in saving lives in the latter case is a worthwhile difference then restricting gun ownership more heavily to make that little difference in saving lives ought to be similarly worthwhile.


In America, the number of people killed per year by US citizens with firearms dwarves the number of people killed per year by terrorist attacks perpetrated by foreign actors. It’s hence irrational to spend more resources and pass tougher laws for trying to tackle the latter than the former if our aim is to save as many innocent American lives as possible. If firearms are about protecting lives then we should do whatever’s best to protect lives i.e. reduce the number of firearms out there.


A safer and better country for your kids is one with fewer firearms around – and laws and regulations can help a society reach a higher-payoff state that overall benefits everybody individually as well as collectively, by altering the payoffs of the options for ‘defect’ and/or ‘cooperate’ (e.g. by making it much harder (i.e. costlier) for anyone to obtain a gun, along with obviously punishing those who illegally possess one).


Even if guns aren’t the root problem for a society’s ills – they’re not the solution to them. A greater sense of community trust with all fellow beings and a more tolerant community that excludes no one out of mere fear would be heading in the right direction. Be less individualist. Most people are good people. The problem is in thinking that other groups aren’t good but are threats that need violent forms of protection against. Many citizens who carry guns think they’re going to be the hero, but it’ll take more courage and heroism to collectively put the guns down – for you, your children, and your children’s children. You can use the Twitter comment button below to share your own views on this.


Woof! Making friends for your children’s generation is the bravest and most heroic thing you can do.


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