Thoughts on "The Riddle of the Gun"

My friend Matthew read about my exercise wager where the penalty is an NRA donation.

He wrote:

On the topic of firearms, however, I've become an unlikely late-in-life convert.  Flies in the face of my positions on virtually everything else, on which I've become increasingly liberal with age.
I think the best summation of my thoughts on the subject is this Sam Harris article.   Sam Harris continues to annoy me by being able to describe my own thoughts more completely and eloquently than me in a number of realms: 

So go read the Sam Harris piece!  It is super interesting.

Then come back and let me know what you think.

Here's my take.

First of all, it's very refreshing to engage with a rational mind on an issue that seems only to attract the crazies.

I suppose the good news is that gun deaths are such a small part of preventable death in Amerika.  I wish Sam had tried to grapple with the puzzle of why American gun deaths are so much higher than in other places.

He's an excellent writer, so it was only on the second reading that I noticed him sneaking back and forth between the ideal and the practical as it suited his argument.  It was most noticeable when he pointed out that it's impossible to prevent bad guys from doing bad things by taking their guns away, because there are just so many guns in America.  On the other hand, the only thing keeping us from putting an armed guard in front of every school is "entirely a question of money".

Is it not likewise a question of money (and political will, as with armed guards) to reduce the level of gun ownership among bad guys to whatever level we deem desirable?

However, my interest in achieving a satisfactory resolution to the gun debate pales in comparison to my interest in putting the gun debate in proper perspective among the other national debates.  It ranks about #100 on the list, well below another strong libertarian concern that happens to enjoy strong agreement among anti-fascist citizens of both the red and blue variety: namely, the extent to which our government should be allowed to unaccountably spy on us.

In other news, my buddy failed to exercise enough last week, so I've made my first-ever contribution to the NRA, in his honor, $25.

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