The Violence Problem

David A Musick (
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 18:14:53 -0500

I have paid much attention over the past couple years to many
debates on the issue of who should own guns and why. At first, it seemed
like a very important debate to me and I followed the arguments with
interest. But a simple realization gradually began asserting itself more
and more insistently: The only reason guns are a problem is because
people kill each other with them. But the real problem is not that
people are using guns to kill each other but the fact that they're
killing each other at all. The really important issue isn't guns; it's
violence itself. If we could get rid of violence, nearly all of our gun
problems would disappear. Now when I hear gun control debates, I am
mostly disgusted that so many intelligent people are wasting so many
hours and so much money debating gun issues, which seem so trivial
compared to the more encompassing and more important issues of violence
itself. What people ought to be doing is studying violence, working to
understand why people behave violently and how we can prevent young
humans from developing violent behaviors.

Solving the violence problem is a very extropian goal. Humans
are simply not as productive in a violent environment as they are in one
where they don't have to worry so much about their personal safety.
Also, the people engaging in violence could be using their time more
productively than by harming or destroying intelligent systems. We have
no idea how many societies could have flourished and contributed
immensely to the progress of Civilization but were held back by the
violence of oppressive governments. How many thousands of years was the
industrial revolution held back because of the oppressive violence of
monarchies and other violently suppressive social systems? We have no
idea how many geniuses were sent off to war to be killed or how many
geniuses were abused so severely by their schoolmates and parents that
they had no self-confidence to develop their abilities and help pull
Humanity forward immeasurably. Violence has cost us far more than we

I think this forum is an excellent one to discuss the violence
problem. Violent acts have a great potential to disrupt our visions of
the future. I don't think we can pursue our extropic ideas for long
without doing much to solve the violence problem. We need to consider
why humans are violent. From there, we can discuss ways of effectively
deterring violent behavior. I think discussing the violence problem will
be more interesting and more productive than discussing the issue of who
will be allowed to possess firearms.

David Musick (

- Continual improvement is the highest good.