Failures of Gun Control

Now, off the bat, I will admit the title could be misleading – after all, it is not about how a failure to control guns has created a new problem, but rather, it is about how some liberal academics would like to frame the gun control argument.  It is actually the absurdity of the far left and other educational elites, that continues to hurt their causes the most. Where a more centrist liberal would greatly advance a cause, the left seems to err, and give a soapbox to the most ardently progressive members of their party. Ironically, it is the same problem as the GOP faced repeatedly, in the 2012 election (the wrong people and poor communicators).

I came across a post, by one of the aforementioned academics. Jeff McMahan, a philosophy professor from Rutgers University, penned no doubt what he thought was a brilliant solution  to the gun violence problem in the United States. Using his own onerous versions of faulty logic, numerous straw men, and just a skosh of conjecture, Professor McMahan has the simplest way to fix gun crime. Most insidiously, the professor makes sense occasionally, and that may build a sense of credibility within some readers for his further madness.

Take all the guns. Yes, it is that simple – just take each and every gun. Complete gun prohibition, except for police forces, which he argues should be more highly armed than the American people. You see, as the professor puts it, criminals and gun rights supporters are working toward the same goal: higher gun availability. You see, if the legal gun owners get the guns, eventually, they will trickle down into the criminal underground (McMahan’s implication, not mine).

Gun advocates and criminals are allies in demanding that guns remain in private hands.  They differ in how they want them distributed. … Gun advocates prefer for both rather than neither to have them.


The problem would further grow, when the legal owners will re-buy arms to replace the stolen ones, ostensibly replacing the stolen arms with better ones. Repeating the process, ad infinitum, the criminals will eventually be able to outgun the police, and then the unarmed will be forced to buy arms to defend themselves. Even if the criminals are not able to outgun the police, McMahan tells us that public expenditures would have to expand to maintain any advantages over the criminals and the legal guns owners!

McMahan assumes that the already armed Americans would like all unarmed Americans to buy firearms too. And as a result of so many newly armed (and unprepared) citizens, gun crime rates would rise. The professor further suggests that increased armament would lead to fire fights, where previously there might have been fist fights or stabbings. That is right – instead of the defensive saviors that so many people know that firearms are, McMahan tells us that they will suddenly be used more for aggression, and become people’s first responses.

But when more citizens get guns, further problems arise: people who would once have got in a fistfight instead shoot the person who provoked them; people are shot by mistake or by accident.


As if those points were not egregious enough, the good professor attempts to further bolster his no-gun aims by recycling the talking point that only trained police forces should have firearms, and that a no-firearms policy would provide a safer environment, and additionally, he actually claims that the 2nd Amendment is “obsolete”. Yes, the 2nd Amendment, long enshrined as a protector and guarantor of a most cherished American right of absolute self-defense for some 200+ years, and which stands as a bulwark and last line of defense for American freedoms, is obsolete according to McMahan.

…we would all be safer if no one had guns — or, rather, no one other than trained and legally constrained police officers…We no longer accept, as the authors of the now obsolete Second Amendment did, that “a well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free state.


Finally, sensing that perhaps his words may lead to anger and disgust of academics and the left in general, McMahan makes his attempts at goodwill and tries to make (small) concessions. He tries to minimize the effects that his prohibition would cause, by offering that American people would not be left as helpless as babes in the woods – that his measures would only deprive them of one form of self-defense. The belief that a person could not defend himself to their satisfaction is faulty. Therefore, it is really not that bad. He expects that a gun prohibition would necessarily have 100% compliance, and that supplies of illegal guns would dry up overnight, in order to make his “substantial reduction in vulnerability to attack” a legitimate claim.

Imposing a ban on guns, they argue, would be tantamount to taking a person’s gun from her just as someone is about to kill her. But this is a defective analogy…A policy that unavoidably deprives a person of one means of self-defense but on balance substantially reduces her vulnerability to attack is therefore respectful of the more fundamental right from which the right of self-defense is derived.


There is plenty more misguided and confused “logic” in McMahan’s piece, but I feel I have stooped sufficiently to cover the worst examples. His entire piece seems to fly against the majority Americans’ beliefs about guns – in a new Rasmussen survey, nearly 2/3 of Americans hold gun ownership as a protection against overbearing government. If McMahan speaks for anyone other than himself, it should worry Americans, and demonstrate to them, a serious and willful misunderstanding of both human behavior and intentions of how the legal system should operate.