Re: Guns and Transhumans (Was:The End of Privacy ?)

Michael Lorrey (
Sun, 05 Jul 1998 14:51:29 -0400 wrote:

> We've had many discussions of guns here over the years, often associated with
> a strangely un-extropic national chest thumping, most especially as between
> folks in the U.S. and Europe (with the Antipodean growl a more recent new
> theme).

Which is why in my recent posting of notable quotes on gun ownership, only the first quote, by a USAF officer I know personally, was made by an American. All of the others were Europeans of note in history.

> In my view, it's an issue of liberty and rationality. By and large,
> extropians seek solutions to social problems that are premised on maximal
> individual liberty. On the other hand, extropians should be open to consider
> any rational proposal for addressing an issue such as social violence.

Yes, we are starting to see the anti-gun lobbyists pushing to have gun violence made into a 'health' issue, and they are filing lawsuits against gun manufacturers much like the recent lawsuits against the tobacco industry, in an attempt to drive gun makers out of business.

I would put the situation differently. I would say that individuals who did not take reasonable measures to protect and defend themselves, their loved ones, and their property, are putting an undue burden on society at large in terms of the health care costs to take care of these irresponsible people, and their dependents, orphans, etc. It is they who should be getting the subpoenas.

This idea is paralleled in the situation in Washington State, where you have the rurual counties have passed county ordinances requiring every household to posess a firearm and ammunition, and undergo training in their use, while the urban counties are pushing greater gun control meausres. It is interesting that in that state alone, crime in rural counties has gone down, while crime in urban counties has gone up....

> The context of gun ownership is obviously very, very different in the US and
> other parts of the world. Many non-Americans seem to begin their analysis of
> gun issues by looking at the existing "background" level of violence in the
> U.S. As I look at European societies (and Australia and New Zealand, for that
> matter), I see groups of people that are orders of magnitude more ethnically
> and culturally homogenous than what one finds in many areas of the U.S. In
> fact, one has to look very hard to find any other society in history that has
> been as culturally and ethnically heterogenous as the U.S. is now. That there
> is a relatively high level of violence among such a disparate grouping of
> people isn't surprising, especially one that, at least in principle, eschews
> central governmental control as much as possible and has had, at times, one of
> the most open immigration schemes of any society in history. Couple that with
> the extreme growth in numbers of young people (and hence, young men) that has
> characterized the last 30 years, and one could hardly come up with a better
> prescription for violence.
> As was pointed out here recently, all forms of violence are decreasing in the
> U.S. The very obvious cause of this is the relative decline in the proportion
> of young men in the population. Regulation of gun ownership seems to have
> little to do with this, although the statistics showing a positive correlation
> between violence of all types and RESTRICTIONS on gun ownership in the U.S.
> appear to be fairly compelling.

Please clarify this. You are essentially saying that violence goes up when gun restrictions are increased?

> Every state that has instituted a "concealed
> carry" law has expereinced a greater than average drop in violent crime over
> the last ten years in the U.S.


> As an American who travels abroad frequently, I do find some non-American
> attitudes toward gun ownership a little annoying at times. There is little
> chance that European countries will liberalize their gun laws any time soon,
> so I wonder at the vehemence with which some Europeans voice anti-gun
> sentiments. Why such strong sentiments?

The best I can figure, having starting off with a population that has been filtered of its dissatisfied elements (emigrated to the US, as opposed to Australia and NZ populations, which started off with prisoners and shifted to plantation owners) in the last several centuries, while the remainder lived in feudal societies that recognised that the only people with a right to bear arms were the aristocracy (yet they forget that here in the US, one of our goals is to give everyone the power of the aristocracy). Also, you have a population that has suffered through two world wars (while they ignore that Switzerland, a country where every household is armed, did not suffer thus), that ought to make any right thinking descendant of the peasants/serfs a little phobic of arms of all types, while they ignore the fact that the reason they were so easily conquered by agressor nations is that their governments had policies of requiring registration of firearms, which made it that much easier to locate and confiscate the firearms that were held by the 'deviant' members of the population when the nogoodniks marched into town.

> I wonder. And, as a matter of
> personal anecdote, I find that many of these strong sentiments are based on
> the grossest misconceptions of the quality of life in America: Just so the
> record is clear for folks who haven't been here, in most of the U.S. gun
> violence is non-existent. There are not shootings on every street corner and
> Hollywood movies and television shows are NOT an accurate depiction of life in
> the United States. There's certainly a firearm in far more than half of the
> houses on my quiet, multiethnic street, and I haven't heard a gunshot in my
> neighborhood in the eight years I've lived here. There also hasn't been a
> burglary and people often leave their houses unlocked.

Yes. It is much the same up here in New Hampshire. People leave their cars and houses unlocked as a matter of habit. Even with such lack of security, our level of robberies is far lower than in the cities where people use all manner of security systems. Amazing what one gun can do as a deterrent, eh? My parents live in one of the more wealthy neighborhoods in town here, and all the neighbors are typically as lax, yet there has not been a robbery since the late 70's in that neighborhood, and most residents are armed.

Drunk drivers kill more people by far in our area than all categories of mortal violent crime combined, yet only in the most eggregious cases are murder charges filed. As for personal knowledge, several freinds of mine have died in drunk driving accidents since we graduated from high school here in 86, yet the last person I personally knew who was murdered was killed in 1976, and they lived in Massachusetts.

   Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------ Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
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