Another bedtime gun control story

What are you thinking about so somberly, Abbé Boulah?

Old stories.

Tell me. It’s almost bedtime.

Okay. Not sure they’ll live happily ever after on this story though.

Once upon a time, in the dark ages, life was hard and dangerous. Wild animals in the forests often attacked and killed humans. So they invented tools they’d carry around to protect themselves against the animals, and kill them instead. They also used these tools against other – ‘bad’ — humans who occasionally liked to take their women or livestock or fermented fruit juices, or because they looked or talked funny. Or because there weren’t enough wild animals around anymore. Even for no particular reason. Now soon, those ‘bad guys’ would invent bigger and more effective tools.  So people had to invent even bigger and more deadly tools — they called them ‘weapons’ — and things they’d wear to protect themselves — shields, mail coats, body armor, helmets. Inevitably, the bad guys would develop even more effective weapons, better armor, and start their attacks from big horses they also protected with armor. So the good people got even bigger horses and longer lances for their protection. This went on until all the stuff they had to put on and carry became so heavy that they needed several servants to even get up on their horse. If they fell off the horse in the course of an altercation, they were totally helpless. Not good.

No. Sounds more like insanity.

Yes. So they decided to try a different tack. They agreed that — at least in everyday civil life — nobody would carry any weapons. And that they’d settle disagreements by talking, or calling upon referees or an assembly of neighbors, explain their grievances and abide by their decision. Of course, they had to designate some people — guardians of the peace — to make sure everybody adhered to these agreements. In some places, these folks did not carry weapons, — they were only protected by the people’s promise that if anybody did use weapons or force against them, they would face very unpleasant consequences.

Sounds better. Did it work?

Not everywhere, Bog-Hubert: not everybody believed it would so they didn’t even try it. Other places followed a different reasoning. They thought that guardians who had to ensure that nobody would use force to violate their agreements they called ‘laws’ must necessarily be stronger, and have more force at their disposal than any would-be violator. So they gave their peacekeepers weapons.

Not entirely unreasonable, huh?

Arguable. But not only did this start that escalating process all over between the police and the bad guys. But it also tempted some people in charge of ‘government’ to enact and have the peacekeepers enforce laws that were benefiting themselves more than the citizens, which was easy as long as those didn’t have any weapons. (Those people most likely had come into power by not so peaceful means themselves.)

Those pesky unexpected consequences, eh?

Right. The citizens did not like that, and in some places found ways to kick those people off their thrones, and try a different set of rules. First, they would designate people from their own ranks to be the government. People they trusted — but only to some extent, so they were allowed to govern only for some time. And who could be recalled if they didn’t govern the way the people wanted. And secondly: that citizens would be allowed to keep weapons themselves — to protect themselves and their homes against bad guys if the peacekeepers couldn’t get there fast enough, but also to ensure that the government wouldn’t start any funny business. Weapons were needed, of course, because the government was in charge of peacekeepers who had weapons — according to the abovementioned reasoning. What happened now was that the bad guys were getting more effective weapons than the peacekeepers, who inevitably had to respond by getting better weapons themselves, plus protective gear and vehicles. This left the average citizen behind, the old muskets wouldn’t do the job for either one of the two protection reasons we mentioned. So they had to get better weapons too.

Sounds familiar. Back to the drawing board?

Not yet. What was new was that this was very good business for the people who made all those weapons and protective gear. They provided both — or rather, all three — parties in this game with ever-increasingly effective weapons and ammunition. And they became rich. So they, or some of them, anyway, were tempted to buy themselves some government.

Buy the government? I’m shocked, shocked…

Of course they wouldn’t crudely say that out loud. Wouldn’t be proper. Not good PR. They would just finance the ‘democratic’ election campaigns for candidates who wanted to govern — in return for a promise that they would not pass any laws that could hurt their business. And business was very good. Everybody got weapons. And the weapons got better — more deadly and destructive — every year, so everybody had to keep buying better weapons. And whenever somebody would fall into the strange temptation to start killing other people for no particular good reason…

Or because they had lost their job, or gotten a bad grade in math, because their parents hadn’t bought them the toys they wanted when they were kids, or because the girl they liked didn’t like them back, or, so cowardly, because their victims did not have any weapons, like school kids, and were easy to kill, or to get on TV even if they got killed themselves?

Like I said, no particular good reason. Then the business and government leaders would solemnly pray for the victims and argue for more people getting and carrying weapons around everywhere, for their protection. And then, for the peacekeepers to get more effective weapons than anybody else, of course. Business, you know. Elections coming up, you know.

Ahh.

These are of course much more advanced and enlightened times than those old days we call the dark ages, when the heroes in shining armor kept falling helplessly off their horses. Today, many more people get killed much more efficiently. And business is good.

Hmm.

What’s that you say? You’d think that some of all the creativity and invention and hard work that goes into the making of better weapons might be used to figure out other ways to make this problem go away? Other than just to make guns illegal, and lock up people who have any? Or let everybody get more and better guns every year? You’d kill for it, you say? Well. Figure of speech, I know you didn’t mean it that way. Based on experience, you’d get laughed out of the room to argue for that. Or get killed. Humans are funny about that gun business.

So what would you do?

Me? I have some ideas. Didn’t we talk about that some time ago? But … Experience, you know?

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Gun Control by Abbé Boulah

Good evening, fellow Taverniers. What is the topic of your heated discussion tonight?

Oh. we were talking about this latest speech on gun control..

Good grief. I am getting so tired of this endless gun control discussion that doesn’t get anywhere. Didn’t Abbé Boulah come up with the solution to the gun control issue a while ago?

It must have been a very foggy night, Bog-Hubert. Do you remember what it was?

A foggy night it was indeed. But the solution was great, as well as impossible.

You speak in foggy riddles, my man. Try to explain, will you?

Okay. I’ll try. The solution was a bit technological. It involved fitting all the guns with a WIFI device that would make the gun usable only at a person’s home, where the WIFI router is located. Well, maybe at designated other places such as shooting ranges.

Now how in the world would that be a solution?

Don’t you see, Renfroe? It would allow people to have guns at their homes, for protection. That would take care of the argument that people must be able to protect themselves against criminals, that the NRA is using in its polemics against gun control — as well as the argument they can’t use but that is the big elephant in the room, that the gun industry wants to sell guns. They can even make more money by making and selling those WIFI devices, and pretend to go along with the gun control idea while protecting their interests… Why are you shaking your head, Vodçek?

I see. That seems to take care of one of the issues in the second amendment: protection against criminals — ‘if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns…’. So guns without such devices are automatically outlaw guns — but you can’t really prevent their existence with that policy, can you? So will it really help?

Damn, you are right. But at least the criminals can’t count on people having no protection in their homes. That ought to make a difference. And then deranged people can’t take their home protection guns down to the school cafeteria or their workplace and start shooting kids or coworkers. Or to serene places of civilized communication like this Tavern…

True. But you used the word that’s really the problem: Aren’t many if not most of those shootings done by people that are, as you said, ‘deranged’? If I remember correctly, many of those were using various kinds of medications — antidepressants, right? So how would you deal with that aspect? I know the buzzword is ‘background check’ — are you going to force doctors and psychiatrists to report patients to whom they are prescribing such drugs, so that they have to give up their guns? Good luck. You’d be fighting the medical professions as well as the gun lobby.

Hey, maybe the devices should be in the ammo; combined with the home or shooting range WIFI, or even just instead of those, they would detect if somebody is using such drugs, and simply not work for such people?

Good idea. That would take care of a lot of police and military types as well.

Wait. Those conditions are building up by people’s situations and jobs and relationships — perfectly sane people — until they snap. Even before they have been diagnosed with anything and prescribed medication?

Well, you can’t win them all, obviously. But if all the mass shooting incidents where such drugs were involved could have been avoided, it would make some difference. Do we have enough data on all that?

Not only that: what about the second amendment asserting the right of the people to bear arms to protect themselves against the government going berserk?

Aren’t you forgetting the missing part of that statement, the one that would make any resistance to out-of-bounds government meaningful and effective in the first place?

What’s that?

Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that part: ‘a well-regulated militia’. Renfroe?

Yeah, I keep yelling that to my neighbor who keeps shooting at my dog anytime that poor critter gets anywhere near the fence: “You ain’t a militia, and you ain’t well regulated!” And that goes for the entire NRA, if’n you ask me…

So Bog-Hubert: why were you saying that the solution Abbé Boulah was talking about is not feasible?

Well, isn’t it obvious: it’s too bipartisan, but not enough? Neither of the parties — I mean the gun control people, nor the gun lobby can claim the idea as theirs; it lets people keep their guns and the gun industry sell more, which is unacceptable to the gun control people, and it restricts the use of the guns with things that must get registered or added to guns or ammo, which is unacceptable to the NRA…