Monday, October 05, 2015

Gun control debate, comparing US to Europe, could affect debate on free speech issues

The arguments for more aggressive gun control, rather like that in Australia and Britain, are back.  Look at this New York Times piece today by Charles M. Blow, “On Guns, Fear Is Winning” here .

In the Washington Post Monday morning, there are op-eds by Fed Hiatt (“On guns, aim higher”)  (with buybacks and a gun-free society) and E. J. Dionne Jr. (“Call out the gun nuts”), and a stinging main editorial “The Price We Pay.”  And Vox (Dylan Matthews) also laid it out, "What no politician wants to admit about gun control", that only massive buybacks (mandatory) would reduce violence in a way that has reportedly happened in Australia and the UK, although under different circumstances, here

One concern of mine is the psychological parallels between gun control, and control of user-generated speech on the Internet, out of fear of the real harm done by some people (revenge porn, cyber bullying, terror recruiting), as a result of a permissive environment that allows easy profits for some and social disconnection for others (like me) .  It seems that some of the underlying dichotomy about individualism and the common good is similar.  In Europe, some say, these problems have been solved with some degree of moderation (although Europe is still probably under a much bigger radical terror threat than is the homeland US). (See a related post on my main blog today.) It is significant that Hillary Clinton has proposed downstream liability for gun manufacturers and retailers. 
Indeed, there is a group moral case that no one should have weapons.  But there is also a moral case that any able-bodied person should be able to defend others, with firearms if necessary.  That’s how it is in Switzerland.  People have told me that they feel safer if they think all their neighbors, as well as themselves, could defend themselves if necessary.  There is real fundamental disagreement on this, so tied to life circumstances. One place these ideas come together is the hard reality: a victim of violence pays for the crimes of the aggressor.  Individualism doesn't process this hard fact very well. 

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