Explaining the USA Pro Gun Position to a Foreigner
In the wake of a school shooting, no less.
I was asked by an intelligent rationalist lady who will remain anonymous to explain the USA pro-gun position. She’s from a European country and recently moved to the USA. This is what I told her, with a bunch of linkbacks to prior HWFO and Open Source Defense material. You may find this post useful over the next few days.
There are probably only two or three laws that would help, and those laws wouldn't help much. Here's an exhaustive analysis of that:
The gun control side continually passes laws which don't work because they don't know anything about guns, and the laws they do pass are not focused on things that work at all, they're focused on attacking gun owners and gun ownership itself. They are culture war attack vectors instead of sensible “common sense” policy, which makes legal law abiding non-murderous gun owners feel defensive. “Common sense” would dictate that you pass laws that actually have some sort of effect, instead of passing laws that hurt others just because they make you feel good to pass laws.
Many of the laws the left pushes here literally make the actual problems worse, because they don't identify the actual problem, which is mostly (male) suicide. Male suicide doesn't fit the gender war narrative they're pushing, because of their target demographic. Waiting periods and the inability to entrust a gun to a friend, for instance, increase suicide rates which are two thirds of the problem.
We also see this with assault weapons bans themselves, because the very best weapon to shoot up a school full of kids is actually a pistol, not a rifle. Magically evaporating all the rifles would increase the kill count of these things, not decrease it.
There are good important things that need to be done in this space. When you peel the onion back and look underneath they have nothing to do with reduction in gun ownership or guns per capita, or law at all, they mostly have to do with socioeconomic and mental health stuff. The biggest overall problem is suicide, and the biggest problem with homicide is what's going on with erosion of social stability in the black community.
You can even see this in maps.
But the left can't see that because they've been lied to by their media sources, into believing there is a direct bivariate connection between "guns per capita" and gun homicide that literally isn't there locally or internationally in the data.
The media lies about not only this, but also about the rates of homicide in the country in historical contexts.
The reason the media lies about this stuff is because they have a profit motive to do so, related to Nash Equilibria in the attention economy and the profitability of outrage porn. Folks in the rationalist sphere know this as the Moloch effect, after Scott Alexander’s “Meditations on Moloch,” a concept he went deeper on related to media incentives in “Toxoplasma of Rage.” This explains that dynamic within the gun conversation:
So we can't get to where we need to be with this because of smartphone addiction, and the smartphone addiction drives media incentives to cover mass shootings in a certain way that gains them more profit, but also literally increases mass shootings by 33% according to mathematical modeling. It leads to copycat shootings exactly like we just saw two days ago in Texas.
So the whole thing is a trap, that will very likely spiral out of control, and has more potential to tear the country apart than Floyd or Covid-19 or anything else, and when the gun argument gets hot here, things really get hot. Right before Covid the state of Virginia attempted to reclassify hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens as Class 6 felons because of these dynamics.
And when it spirals out of control, it just so happens that the most important thing to own will be, both mathematically and ironically, an AR-15.