“Dear Dan, I’m wondering what you make of gun control,” an alleged reader allegedly named Skyler allegedly asks The Wall Street Journal’s know-it-all Dan Ariely [above]. “Obviously, it is in everyone’s best interest to have a safer country where you’re less likely to be shot in public. But since the massacre in Oregon, gun sales have only gone up. Is there anything we can do to reduce gun violence?” Dan’s answer . . .
This all strikes me as a case of over-optimism. When we hear about gun violence, we tell ourselves, “If I didn’t have a gun, I might get attacked—but if I had a gun, I could protect myself.” We can imagine the benefits of gun ownership, but we can’t imagine the stress or panic we’d feel while being attacked. (In wartime, in fact, many guns never get fired because of the stress felt by people under fire.) We also can’t imagine ourselves as hotheaded attackers or imagine our new gun being used by people in our household to attack others.
After all, we’re such good, reasonable people, and those surrounding us are similarly upstanding and calm. So people buy guns, often with good intentions—but these guns make it easy for someone having a moment of anger, hate or weakness to do something truly devastating.
Since humanity will keep having emotional outbursts, what can we do to lessen gun violence? One approach would be to try to make it less likely that we will make mistakes under the influence of emotions. When we set rules for driving, we’re very clear about when and how cars can be used, which involves heeding the speed limit, obeying traffic rules and so on. Maybe we should also set up strict rules for guns that will make it clear when and under what conditions guns can be carried and used. And we could require gun owners to get licenses and training—again, on the model of car safety—with penalties for breaking the rules.
TTAG reader RN provides the analysis:
Skyler says that a safer country would be good. Sounds OK. But, apparently, only in public. Risks at home? Not his problem. He sees no possible positive correlation between increased gun sales and a mass shooting. Like maybe guns could be used to stop such an event. And the use of the media term “gun violence”? I’ll let that go. I’m pretty sure that Dan touched on all of the main anti-rights points in his answer.
Regular citizens can’t/won’t be able to defend with a firearm? Check.
Even Armed Forces members can’t properly use their guns (no citation)? Check.
“Regular” gun owners are powder kegs waiting to go boom? Check.
Gun owners are unable to control/secure their firearms? Check.
Good intentioned people buy guys vs. “someone” who could do “something”? Check.
“Gun violence” comes from emotional outbursts? Check.
Car driving has rules and gun ownership/use is unrestricted? Check.
There are no penalties for firearm misuse? Check.
With “information” like this being widely disseminated, I can see why we’re struggling in the culture and the battle will probably never be won.