Is anybody else as tired as I am of the phrase ‘gun violence’? Is gun violence worse than other kinds of violence? If I club a guy to death, is that somehow not quite so bad as shooting him?
Of course the phrase is meant to engender support for gun control laws — not abolition, of course; hell, the cops and the soldier boys and the people with enough political juice to get pistol permits clearly need them, right? How would they shoot us, otherwise? But control. Ordinary crazy people shouldn’t have guns. Only official crazy people should have guns.
Personally I’m fairly unexcited by guns, one way or the other, though I grew up in a gun culture, and learned how to shoot quite early, and was rather good at it, oddly enough. Guns don’t scare me, and they don’t much excite me, though there is a certain pleasure in the sounds they make — not so much the final bang, but the complex many-voiced click of the round being chambered, for example.
Even so, if I were Emperor For A Day, and could indulge myself, I’d prohibit all guns except single-shot bolt-action rifles and double-barrel shotguns, suitable for hunting venison and duck, and for dispatching varmints.
I would, of course, completely disarm the cops. Heh. Bottom rail on top dis time, Massa.
But what deplorers of ‘gun violence’ seem to miss is that the abundance of guns here in the City On A Hill is in fact one of its few triumphs of electoral ‘democracy’, as that phrase is understood on these shores. If you like legislatures, and elections, and so on, then you’ve got to accept your creepy neighbor’s arsenal of a dozen assault rifles as an entailment of our extravagant Ptolemaic system of elections: community boards, school boards, city council, not one but two houses of the state legislature, ditto for the federal.
Gun nuts are a minority; but they are more committed to having guns than non-gun-nuts are about taking them away. Consequently the gun nuts are more powerful, electorally speaking, than their neighbors who would only sorta kinda rather people didn’t have guns. This is the way electoral politics works. And it’s the reason why, if you’re going to go in for elections at all, you should decide what your single issue is, and not vote for anybody who isn’t good on your issue. Take a lesson from the gun nuts.
My issue is imperial war. I won’t vote for anybody who’s for imperial war. Of course in New York, where ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ both love imperial war, this means I don’t have anybody to vote for. Therefore I don’t vote.
Other kinds of democracy are not only envisionable, but historically attested. There is, for example, the scheme of picking legislators by lot from among the public, and dispensing with elections altogether.
I’m liking this one more and more. One of the things we would certainly get out of it is gun control; and I bet we’d have less imperial war, too.