Friday, February 26, 2010

Gun Rights

I found this letter on gun rights somewhat compelling. Basic gist is this. Gay guy wants the right to carry a gun in DC because displaying his handgun has scared off would-be gay bashers on several occasions.

The letter author responds thusly:
Yet I wonder what Mr. Palmer will do if his new lawsuit succeeds, and it gives violent gay-bashers, too, the right to legally carry loaded handguns in the streets. The next time Mr. Palmer is walking with a male companion down a dark street in a dodgy neighborhood, will his attackers simply shoot both of them on sight, rather than attempting the more cumbersome route of assaulting them with fists or feet?

This sounds like a plausible retort, but for this to work you have to make a whole host of assumptions. First, that the law actually prevents his attackers from having access to guns. If somebody wanted to go around shooting gay guys, then I seriously doubt that access to guns is a problem. Second, that the transition from assault to murder is something you crossover without any compunction. Both are acts of violence, but there's a big different beating somebody up and killing them. Maybe the sadistic fucks like the visceral nature of beating even more.

Outlawing guns disproportionately affects law-abiding citizens. If Mr. Palmer follows the law, then he's vulnerable. The people he's worried about, his would-be attackers, are already, by definition, not concerned about the law. The are intent on committing assault. If they aren't worried about the law against assault, then presumably they aren't too worried about lesser crimes, like illegal possession of a handgun. Therefore, legalizing handguns in DC makes almost no difference to the threat that Mr. Palmer faces, but provides him much greater additional protection.

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