“We’re uncomfortable about considering history as a science. It’s classified as a social science, which is considered not quite scientific.” —Jared Diamond
I had lunch recently with a close friend with whom I attended college some years ago. He continued his education and is now a PhD. He is not a “lefty” sort of guy, but he isn’t a conservative-libertarian either. But with Social Scientists now weighing in on the gun debate, attempt to convey clarity, ambivalence is the net product. In our conversation over lunch he conveyed his thoughts about guns. Specifically, this thought:
“All too often following one of these mass shootings that garners national attention, the attempt to meaningfully discuss solutions to gun violence in America is muted and we fail to find any meaningful consensus regarding what we as a society can do to address gun violence.”
To qualify his remark he added,
I have not committed myself to a position one way or another because part of the difficulty I observe is the pro-gun cadre’s ability to mute the discussion on, “how guns affect society…by denying that the possession of guns indeed,… “affects society.”
He brushed off my inquiries when asked, “What he had been smoking, Peter” along with my opinionated hypothesis that PhD really denotes, “Piled Higher and Deeper.” with laughter and dismissive acknowledgement he pontificates further, eating the lunch and drinking the cold tall beer that I, a fellow social scientist purchased. But, Academic welfare is a topic for another day.
Ah yes…The “Social Scientist.” Perhaps the term, “Witch Doctor,” might be used interchangeably. That might offend Witch Doctors in our current social political correctness climate (a strong argument for that climate change). When I use the term, “Social science” I am referring to the academic disciplines concerned with society and human nature…Much to the ruination of modern society and I do not exclude myself in the assigned culpability.
Knowing me he defends himself asserting,
The pro-gun movement is not wrong to oppose gun control, but the manner in which second amendment proponents present the issue prevents a fruitful and productive discussion on the role of firearms in America. While focused on discussing what we do with guns, Society has nearly and completely overlooked what guns might do to us.
Brace yourselves, this is sounding like a chicken and egg argument.
Dr., (We’ll call him ‘Sniffer,’ because he does have a huge nose) hypothesizes this notion:
Firearms in possession alter fundamentally the overall dynamics of violence. A weaker individual now finds a level playing field to face a stronger, more physically powerful opponent. (his word) Dr. Sniffer is both correct and at the same time, incorrect. He is correct because to when a person is able to avail him or herself of an attack from another by use of a tool, clearly, that is a change in dynamics. But to accept that on its face is both amoral and ignores externalities. If we accept violence in society as a mere battling opponents, lacking any definition of good versus evil, right versus wrong, we devolve back to survival of the fittest. We as human beings have a right to go about our business acting in society as not to harm our fellow man and when an arbitrary attack is thrust upon us, we should not be left at the mercies of our physical limitations.
Dr. Sniffer then counters that guns allow the meting out of violence instantaneously and at a distance. Spoken as a person who, despite my repeated invitations to go to the range, has repeatedly declined. Fancy that, a PhD who does not inquire into the pathology of shooting guns.
Finally, Dr. Sniffer asserts that firearms in society change how we view power and violence, claiming that these very dynamics are ignored within the framework of discussion surrounding a tragedy. Either society errantly presumes the gun is fully responsible for violence, or as proponents insist, fully blameless. I think he is nuts. Ignored in his examination is the long litany of anti-gun rhetoric, glorification of gangsters and visceral emotional responses from politicians, the lame stream media and anti-gun liberal interest groups who tend to dominate the national conversation. Fear of guns today rarely arises out of an actual gun incident, but rather what we are conditioned to believe by the dominant anti-gun media culture.
I made a bet with Dr. Sniffer. I said, “Peter, you read my blog entries on, ‘Granite Pediatricians and Guns.’ About seventy-eight pediatricians signed that open letter. In the context of caring for children, they were, ‘appalled by gun violence in our country.’ I challenge you to find me at least six of those pediatricians that have treated even a single child in New Hampshire for a gunshot wound. Some, if not most, have never likely treated a gunshot wound.”
Take the case of the Jovan Belcher murder suicide. A former NFL linebacker shot his wife and then shot himself in a murder/suicide. Many are saying if Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and wife may well be alive today. Ballocks! The gun was one factor that contributed to this murder/suicide. There was a great deal more going on. To know for sure we need only recall Nicole Brown Simpson case.
He counters with the Florida case of Michael Dunn who fired eight shots into a car containing a group of teens. Dunn claims he felt threatened and fired his gun at the car, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis. No one in the vehicle had been armed. Now what I believe is that if Michael Dunn didn’t possess/own a gun, Jordan Davis would be alive today. Dr. Sniffer is correct. But the overarching premise is flawed. The overwhelming majority of those who carry guns will never likely find themselves in such a conumdrum.
I have been the holder of a New Hampshire Pistol Revolver License for over twelve years. The license means that I can carry a loaded firearm on my person for protection and I most often do. Dr. Sniffer is correct (but not based on his premise) when he says, “Firearms in society change how we view power and violence” In my case, as the overwhelming majority of us who carry firearms, it does. I submit that because we acknowledge and understand what firearms can do, we behave better. Most of us avoid confrontation. Most of us avoid road rage incidents. Most of us avoid engaging obnoxious people who have no regard for courtesy for others like playing loud music that nobody else cares to hear. Most of us, because we have a gun will seek to diffuse a situation because having the gun is force of last resort. Using a gun is deadly force. That does not mean everybody adopts that view. Robert Heinlein once said, “An armed society is a polite society,” and for lawful and responsible gun owners that is largely true.
A common cliché is, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Guns do change the dynamic of force and the reliable lame stream media will always put guns in the context of killers of people, shaping the societal paradigm of how society views killing. Societal fear of guns is overwhelming born out of main stream media culture and its portrayal of guns.
With progressives ruling the day, we clearly live in a society of winners and losers. Criminals commit crimes with guns and all the laws, no matter how many we make, will not change that dynamic. Criminals do however, respond extremely well to the immediate threat of opposing force when a law-abiding citizen they seek to victimize suddenly whips out a gun. There are countless grossly under reported examples of citizens who change or modify instantly criminal behavior by producing a firearm. And they often do so without a shot ever being fired.
Dr. Sniffer asserts that change in the power dynamic that guns provide is the discussion on which we as a society needs to be focusing the conversation. Questions like whether or not guns make individuals more or less inclined towards violent confrontation. Have you been asleep for the last twenty years, Peter?
Gun control would not have prevented these tragedies. Inversely, Fear of gun control will not prevent us from understanding them either. Gun ownership is not just a cultural thing, It is the second item in our bill of rights. As I have stated ad nauseum, No other nation or society has trusted its people with guns. No other country has a constitution which affords the individual the right to keep and bear arms. And so far the national conversation on guns has sought to denigrate, eviscerate and macerate that hard black letter principle of our constitution.