Ron Paul says, of the public debate following the most recent shooting in a school in the USA:
Many Americans believe that if we simply pass the right laws, future horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can be prevented. But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don’t obey laws.
But they don’t believe that, do they?
There’s a tendency, everywhere, to think that people who disagree with us are idiots. Comment threads on blogs mean I can’t deny some are, whatever the politics. But in the main they’re not. If they haven’t mixed with people who have other ideas, they can have unexamined opinions, but most people of an opposing view are reasonably rational about it. And that’s true whatever your politics are.
Nobody thinks that making guns illegal will mean every criminal meekly hands in their weapons. Gun control advocates think that reducing the availability of legal firearms will reduce the availability of illegal ones, that it will more or less eliminate very public mass murders – which do seem to be carried out with legally-held weapons.
There’s also an aesthetic. Some people viscerally detest the thought of people having guns. It presents a landscape they find appalling. That means it isn’t rational. Equally, other people pose with assault rifles and go to the shooting range, hunt, wear cammo clothing. That’s equally visceral and equally not rational.
Neither is irrational, they’re just not born of reason.
From what I can see, there’s a very irregular pattern in the world of gun ownership against factors of suicide, murder, other crime. This post isn’t about that evidence. As it happens, I tend towards thinking people should be able to own handguns, rifles and shotguns, but not assault rifles or ground-to-air missiles. But this isn’t a religious view, I’m open to persuasion.
This post is about not assuming, or pretending, that people who disagree with you are idiots. Because it gets in the way. We should want the best outcome, however that’s achieved.