A Conservative Case for Gun Control

I think this guy has exactly one good point, so let's give it up front.
Classical republican theory restricts arms ownership to those it deems responsible enough to uphold public order. Our system of guns as a consumer good, and our democratic presumption of good citizenship, puts guns into unsteady and untrained hands.

Making sure a person is qualified to own a gun is something responsible societies do. Many families, gun clubs, and organizations like the NRA do the work of training responsible, conscientious gun owners. It's plausible that some kind of mandatory socialization in gun clubs for potential gun owners would be a good first step at preventing gun violence. It's more plausible than simply wishing for more 'good guys with guns' at every possible location for a tragedy. As things stand, this constructive, social gun culture does not encompass the totality of gun owners; gun shops certainly don't inquire about your sociability and training.

I know what conservatives are thinking: "So you think the government has the power to disqualify citizens from gun ownership?" The government will prove terrible at this task, and it defeats the purpose of an armed citizenry. And to be sure, I don't want a government that can put a gun owner in prison for having the wrong politics. And of course, this power of restricting guns — like restricting the franchise to "responsible, invested citizens" — echoes a historical tie between gun control and racist efforts to confine blacks to a lower status. And yet, we still ought to consider stronger guarantees of responsible gun ownership. Perhaps tests that aim at qualifying the character of a gun owner, rather than searching only for a criminal disqualification.
He's right about what classical theory suggests, and the wisdom of it. He's also right that the government as it stands is completely unfit to exercise this responsibility. The compromise he suggests is pushing it to the NRA. Virginia, oddly enough given that it's the site of the latest famous killing, had exactly that kind of law: a concealed carry permit is not "shall issue," but requires demonstration of being properly trained by an organization like the NRA. When I lived there, I hired an NRA instructor to come and "teach" me proper gun handling and safety so I'd have the certificate on file in order to get a license to carry.

If we had a better government, the best way to do this would be to revive common militia service. If we get back to a small, limited government on real constitutional principles including the right to bear arms, that might be the right way to proceed. For now, I wonder if it can be pushed to private organizations like he suggests, or if we're stuck with "consumers" instead of "citizens" because the government is already too untrustworthy to be allowed to determine who counts as a "good citizen." We can't trust them to prosecute clear examples of misconduct if the 'citizen' is well-connected politically, like Mrs. Clinton. We can't trust them to prosecute nobodies fairly, as in Orange County.

There's a huge national crisis in government because the government has failed almost across the board. Currently they are talking about filibustering a vote against the Iran deal, rather than debating it and voting honestly. Even though their victory is almost assured by the math, they can't allow their opponents to have a debate and a vote.

The government is sick to the core. We can talk about what a healthy government ought to do, but we can't do so while failing to take notice of the disease in our own.


douglas said...

Used to be more people had some form of training, and more opportunities for exposure to guns and proper use. Many, maybe most high schools had rifle teams. The training used to be there. Now too many only know what they we in movies... Yikes.

Dad29 said...

And, by the way, we in Wisconsin cannot trust Government, either--witness the "John Doe investigation" which was really a scheme to intimidate and harass conservative supporters of Gov. Walker.

Trusting these people with the power to decide 'who can be armed' is unthinkable.

Texan99 said...

I don't mind (too much) the requirement of drivers' licenses, because I trust the government not to have a secret agenda to abolish car ownership. If we get a new administration that's clearly in league with the EPA to switch the whole country to mass transit and bicycles ASAP, then I'll start casting a jaundiced eye at all kinds of reasonable arguments about the need to ensure "responsible car ownership and operation."

Texas is an interesting state when it comes to oil & gas exploration and development: the law is 100% clear that the no. 1 priority is getting that stuff up and out of the ground. There are some concessions to surface owners who may have problems with their land getting torn up and so on, but you'd never in a zillion years mistake the process for one in which a regulator is looking for an excuse to shut down a drill. You can be pretty sure the regulators will exert the minimum necessary discipline on the drillers that's consistent with cheering them on. "Responsible O&G operations" are not synonymous with "switching to solar right away, there's a good fellow."

Ymar Sakar said...

The Japanese have an interesting trick. Their hospitals and high schools are privately owned by patriots as well as capitalists, so they output a bunch of people trained in X, Y, and Z, under the cover of "extra curricular clubs".

Technically they're designed to instill Japanese values in the junior adults or senior children. It just so happens a lot of them are martial sports like judo or kendo.

America, the infamous gun culture and mafia city shootout zone, doesn't have proper training for their children? Talk about a culture that's going to die soon.

Grim said...

The Japanese have had that trick for a while. They were doing that in 1945 too.

Edith Hook said...

Don’t you wonder why the polls never come out and passionately demand the enforcement of the laws already on the books! We all know why, don’t we?
I wonder what percentage of crimes are committed with “legally purchased guns” ? Amateurs buy guns at a dealers; which involves extensive paperwork, identification, FBI background checks, and so on. Pros buy guns on the street, where the only requirement is money – or other value.

Edith Hook said...

Sorry, the first sentence above should read: Don't you wonder why the POLS never come out and passionately demand the enforcement of gun control laws already on the books!

Edith Hook said...

This sorta brought to mind the recent Glenn Reynold’s article http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/08/23/americans-thwart-terrorist-france-column/32228597/
Bureaucracies have their place, but they don’t deal well with diffuse threats such as terrorism. By the time “first responders” get there, it’s usually too late. But there’s one group of “responders” who don’t have to go anywhere, and that’s the group already on the scene. In conventional analysis, and in the terrorists’ hopes, those people are called “victims.” But as the three Americans on that French train demonstrated, victimhood isn’t the only response.
And there’s more. The purpose of terror is to terrorize. But responding appropriately has the opposite effect. The response of British businessman Chris Norman, who helped subdue the attacker, illustrates this: “Norman said his first reaction was to hide," The Fiscal Times reported. "But after he saw the Americans fighting the attacker, he said he went to help them.”
Fear is contagious. But so is courage. People should respond not like a herd of sheep but like a pack of wolves. When the follow-up report on the 2001 attacks came out, J.B. Schramm noted in The Washington Post that "on Sept. 11, 2001, American citizens saved the government, not the other way around.”…......…Nonetheless, when the government reacted, the money went into enriching and strengthening those bureaucracies instead of, as Schramm urged, educating and training American citizens. Perhaps this latest incident will serve as a reminder that there is another way. At the very least, it should remind citizens that while you can’t rely on the government to be everywhere you are, you yourself are always there."

Texan99 said...

"People should respond not like a herd of sheep but like a pack of wolves."

Amen. I remember the first time I took a flight after 9/11: the pilot made an announcement about looking left and right and thinking about who your comrades would be if it suddenly came to a fight. They don't do that any more.

jaed said...

There is a relatively simple way to test the intentions of anyone who calls for mandatory training for gun owners: propose that such training be made a mandatory part of the public high-school curriculum. Mechanics of firearms, safe handling and storage, shooting practice, and the basics of self-defense law. Taking the high-school course to be considered sufficient for a carry license.

If the response is "Hey, that sounds like it would work," or some refinement about the details to be taught or whether students should be able to opt out, the person is serious about ensuring safety.

If the response is "OMG you BEAST how COULD you suggest corrupting the innocent CHILDREN with guns and besides they'll probably all SHOOT each other!!!"... well, then you know their true intentions

Assistant Village Idiot said...

jaed nails it. I'm going to do my bit to give that a wider audience.

Grim said...

When they say that, ask them why the advocate the opposite with regard to sex education.

Ymar Sakar said...

When I first saw Japanese high schools with bow ranges, I was like "hey, why don't Americans get this goody?"

Although historically, Americans trained their boys to shoot straight at six years of age. They were protecting their school teacher and what not, out on the frontier. Those were the days when America truly was the home of the brave.

These days, most schools are ruled by teacher unions who export children for sex, much as the welfare services did in England.

Grim said...

Yeah, well, the boys still shoot out here. In fact, my neighbor coaches the high school rifle team. They made the state championships last year.