Guns and Black Markets

So yesterday in Philadelphia a man with a long gun held off like 50 police officers for hours -- although, it should be said, this was mostly because of their election of restraint. They certainly could have assaulted his position much sooner had they chosen to do so, and I think the whole department deserves praise for their choice to take the time to bring the matter to an end with no deaths. That was a good, moral choice and I appreciate them for having the discipline to carry it out.

Today the politicians are calling for gun control again, because that's always their answer no matter the question. The gunman in this case, though, had priors that prevented him from legally owning a gun. There are strong laws -- Federal laws -- against him possessing a gun. There are also such laws against possession of the narcotics that the officers showed up at that house to arrest people for possessing and distributing. Turns out they had guns and drugs too.

The big story is not that laws don't work, but just why they don't work. Crowds spent the afternoon jeering at the police officers after they were chased off by gunfire. At least one young man got arrested for mocking and harassing the cops. The ability of the police to stop a black market's operation, always limited, depends on their respect and friendship with the community. Here they clearly do not have such friendship, and thus the black market will be unstoppable even if they can manage the occasional raid on good information. What Mao says of guerrillas is as true of gangsters: the population is the sea in which they swim. If that sea is friendly waters to them, there's no way an occupying army (or police force) can finally root them out.

What the gun control politicians don't see is that the ultimate effect of their actions -- should they be successful -- will be to create a much bigger black market, this time for deadly weapons. They'll convert a much larger part of the population into a friendly sea for that black market. They'll alienate the people from the police, and thus make large parts of the nation hostile to their own authority.

More to the point, the People won't be wrong. The People are the sovereigns, after all, and they are free to decide when the government no longer legitimately represents them. It may well be that the drug war itself represents a kind of violation of popular sovereignty, proven by its unenforceability. The 2nd Amendment is encoded in the Constitution. Violations of your right to do what you want with your body isn't as plainly unconstitutional as infringements on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Beware, politicians. Much more than you appreciate is at stake in your lust to take the people's arms.


David Foster said...

Of course, guns can be smuggled across borders: one would think that advocates of comprehensive gun control would also be in favor of border control, but apparently not.

Also: progs seem to think that guns can only be made in official factories run by eevil corporations, but they can also be made in small workshops, which would certainly proliferate in any black-market environment. 3D printing is an additional enabler, but conventional machine tools work fine for those who know how to use them. Will be progs be calling of licensing of lathes and milling machines?

Grim said...

They may assume their opponents are lazy.

A neighbor I used to have, who was a High School science teacher, built a still at the school in order to make 95% pure alcohol to clean the instruments. The principal was aware, and approved the matter as a cost-saving measure provided that (of course!) none of it was ever drunk.

My neighbor told me that one of the things that happened regularly was that his students would explain to him, when he was demonstrating its operation, how their family stills differed in this or that particular.

People own machine shops, too. More people, soon, it could be.

E Hines said...

Which brings me to a question I often ask in this sort of context. What is the Progressive-Democrats' limiting principle?

Licensing lathes and mills? Licensing 3D printers? Their "ink?" Licensing metals refineries? Metal ore mines only operated by Government or by GSEs?

One natural limit (not the only one) is "when we have no more guns in the hands of honest citizens, for their own good."

Eric Hines

raven said...

They don't care, and most don't have the steam up to comprehend. (most will not have the historical knowledge to understand the last sentence). The ones that do, have no interest in stopping terrorism- they want MORE, as it provides Rahm's convenient "crisis". They want to disarm the political opposition to one party rule.

Pro or con, discussing the efficacy of gun control in reducing crime is simply playing to their script.It obscures the main point.

An aside- two main points about terrorists-
Most of the surveillance will be ineffective, because they do not care if they get caught- there is no deterrence possible in a western republic, against a suicide attacker.

And complete elimination of firearms will merely shift the choice of tools to something with more punch-

Grim said...

Wretchard was making that point last week. It turns out that the most deadly attacks don't use guns -- they use bombs, vehicles, or matches. Chaining the doors and setting a building on fire kills a lot more people than going in and shooting folks until the police show up.

raven said...

Other choices are more effective in attacking defenseless civilian targets.
But firearms are the very best choice of defensive arms-bearable, accurate, selective, effective at a distance-

So essentially the gun control zealots are saying, we don't want to stop attacks, we just want you unable to defend yourselves.