Logic, And The Lack Thereof
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
Login or register to improve your experience
Main Navigation
Sarah's Resources You Should See
Full-Text Search & Archives
Leverage, the book
Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions. For investment, legal or other professional advice specific to your situation contact a licensed professional in your jurisdiction.


Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility; author(s) may have positions in securities or firms mentioned and have no duty to disclose same.

The Market Ticker content may be sent unmodified to lawmakers via print or electronic means or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media, to republish full articles, or for any commercial use (which includes any site where advertising is displayed.)

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must be complete (NOT a "pitch"; those get you blocked as a spammer), include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.

Considering sending spam? Read this first.

2015-12-05 17:37 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 1553 references Ignore this thread
Logic, And The Lack Thereof *
Category thumbnail

The we must ban guns meme is of course cranked up once again in the wake of California's terrorist attack.

I am willing to and in fact claim we must as a society have a public and open debate about what we should do in regards to terrorism, the Second Amendment, immigration and all other facets of what happened in California -- and in the other incidents across this land.

I have only one rule: All points of debate must be grounded in and resort to logic; those that do not must be discarded and those who refuse to debate on that basis must be ignored.

This is a serious time for serious people.  Getting shot or blown up is serious.  But our Constitutional Republic is also serious; it is a unique political experiment among the various governments of the world, and to dilute or worse lose it over an un-thinking overreaction not only risks destroying our way of life it is likely to make our lives more dangerous rather than less.

Now let's look at the alleged "reasonable" response that the NY Times ran this morning.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.

False.  A right is immune from prior restraint.  The First Amendment is absolute.  This does not absolve you from responsibility should you exercise that right in a blatantly and grossly irresponsible manner.  This is the infamous "fire in a crowded theater" example so often cited.  But what is being intentionally mis-characterized is that you cannot be forced to wear a muzzle when entering a theater because you might utter the word "Fire" when there isn't one.

There is nothing wrong with punishing someone who falsely claims there is a fire in a crowded theater when there is not, just as there is nothing wrong with punishing someone who brandishes or otherwise uses a firearm for an impermissible purpose.

However, the mere possession of firearms is a right just as is free speech and until and unless it is misused and by doing so one harms others you cannot inhibit a right.

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

Utter nonsense.

First, let's talk about the ammunition.  Here are two actual bullets next to each other just so nobody can claim that games are being played with scale to make one "scarier" than the other.  Incidentally, the picture is scaled to be of approximately actual size on most monitors.

 by tickerguy

One of them is the "evil" type that the NY Times is referring to, and is probably identical to the ones used by the San Bernardino shooters -- if it's not identical, it's damn close.

You probably would say that you'd ban the one on the right; it's bigger and scarier. You would probably also be shocked to discover that the bullet on the right is commonly used to hunt deer and, if it's not obvious by its size and mass, you definitely would prefer to be shot with the one the San Bernardino shooters used if someone is going to give you a choice!

Now let's talk about weapons for a minute.  The firearms used by the San Bernardino shooters are no more dangerous to the person or animal shot than any other.  In fact they're less dangerous than many other common rifles simply because the bullet they shoot is of .22 caliber -- less than a quarter of an inch across.  They are also autoloaders, which means that they fire one round for each depression of the trigger.  There are probably a hundred million said autoloading weapons in the United States today and they are not "weapons of war"; those typically have the capability of "select fire", which means they can shoot more than one bullet for each press of the trigger, the common settings available being three (a "burst") or until you let go (the latter is usually called a "machine gun" but the legal definition includes any weapon that fires more than one round per trigger press.)

It is currently unlawful for any civilian to posses a select-fire weapon manufactured after 1986, and for those made earlier you must first apply with the BATFE, submit a full set of fingerprints and a (relatively large) tax payment and then wait for them to approve the sale before you can take possession.  This typically takes six months to a year or more.

There are a decent number of select-fire weapons in civilians hands; people are willing to go to that much trouble to buy and keep them.  Due to their scarcity and legal restrictions they're very expensive and shooting one is extremely expensive as well simply because of the quantity of ammunition they consume (cartridges are not cheap!)  Of the lawfully-owned machine guns in civilian hands I believe the count used in a crime since that law was passed number two, with one being committed by a former police officer.  These actual "weapons of war" have never been involved in any amount of criminal activity that one can actually find in the statistics.

That doesn't mean machine guns haven't been used in crimes; they have. In fact the San Bernardino shooters were reported to have attempted to convert one of their civilian rifles to select fire (there was apparently evidence of that found in the weapon) but failed at doing so.  It is quite difficult to successfully do this, with success being defined as "it shoots bang-bang-bang when you pull the trigger and doesn't blow up in your face" -- a very real risk if you do it wrong.

Civilian semi-automatic 22 caliber weapons, including the type used by the shooters in San Bernardino, are extremely popular in America.  They're popular because they have myriad legal and proper uses, including depredation (that is, the taking of small invasive animals that damage crops and similar), target shooting and smaller-animal hunting.  They are in fact illegal to use in the hunting of deer and other larger animals in many states because they are not lethal enough to be reasonably certain of a humane kill and no sportsman wants to see an animal suffer unnecessarily.

What the NY Times is talking about is the appearance of weapons.  That is, a gun that looks scary.  The idiocy of this sort of "regulation" has been tried and found wanting, specifically during the "assault weapons ban" of the Clinton Presidency.

That ban failed to produce any verifiable positive effect.  This should not surprise given that only about 2% of all crimes committed with firearms use these sorts of weapons in the first place.  Never mind the impossibility of "removing" them from America -- or anywhere else.  Note France flat-out bans civilian ownership of pistols, any automatic weapon and requires strict licensing of semi-automatic firearms of any sort.  All gun sales and transfers must be documented and are subject to license and registration there.

Of course this didn't bother the terrorists that shot up Paris despite them not having lawful firearms.  It did, however, prevent any of the Parisians there, who obey the law, from having a usable defensive firearm on their person so they could attempt to defend their own lives.

They were slaughtered, just as occurred in San Bernardino where again, nobody in the room was armed.

In fact despite Obama's and other claims the United States is not the "mass shooting" capital of the world. You've probably heard that enough that you take it as truth, but it isn't.  Adjusted for population we're somewhere between 8th and 10th depending on what you exclude (e.g. does some sort of civil insurrection count?)  But just in raw numbers, not adjusting for population, France has had more people killed in mass-shootings this year than has the United States during the entirety of Obama's Presidency and yet they have some of the strictest gun laws in the Western Hemisphere.

Indeed, it's quite idiotic for anyone to argue that we could actually ban guns and get rid of them in the hands of anyone other than law-abiding citizens when we have banned a huge number of drugs since the 1920s and yet you can buy damn near any illegal drug you want on virtually any street corner of any city in America.

And this is where we come back to logic and the truth.

There is evil in this world.

There always has been and there always will be.

The Second Amendment exists because in The Declaration the founders declared that you have a natural right to life; that is, you have a right to live simply because you are human.

No right is real unless you can defend it for yourself and those who you love (such as your children.)

The Second Amendment codifies a pre-existing right to defend your life, and the life of your loved ones, against any evil individual or group that would attempt to take life by unlawful means.  That right is absolute and thus so is the Second Amendment.  It is only when that right is abused by criminal action with said firearm(s) that one may be sanctioned.

The security of a free state does not only require that an invading army be able to be repelled.

Security also includes internal threats within a nation whether individual or collective.

The Security of a Free State was violated in San Bernardino just as certainly as it is when a thug breaks into your home in the middle of the night.

There are those who argue that we should have a list of prohibited guns, persons and the like. What those people are arguing is that those persons have no right to either their life or that of their loved ones.

Think about what you're saying if you hold those beliefs very, very carefully:

You are declaring some people to be so much lesser than you that they do not have the right to live and further, you are declaring that someone else gets to make and update that list -- which could quite-easily wind up with your name on it.  Further, you have managed to collectively get some fifty thousand gun laws on the books of this nation and every one of them, and thus every one of you, has directly contributed to the lack of security of a free state exhibited in San Bernardino and elsewhere.

If that is truly your position then you are not an American. It's that simple.

I understand the argument on the other side when it comes to persons who have committed a crime. However, the problem with a former criminal having guns does not come from them having committed a crime because a criminal by definition does not obey the law. Rather the problem lies in our refusal to keep dangerous people who we identify as dangerous by their criminal activity locked up until they're not dangerous any more. Since a criminal by definition doesn't give a damn about the law whether it's legal for him or her to buy and have a gun is immaterial; either he or she is not going to do something criminal with that gun (in which case they can only contribute to the Security of a Free State by owning one) or they're going to acquire said weapon anyway to commit their next criminal act. The only means by which we can deal with that problem is that once we identify someone as a criminal dangerous to others through our judicial process we do not let him or her out until he or she isn't dangerous any more. This is logic, not politics and if we wish to solve problems we must apply logic to them.

As an example of why so-called "gun control" doesn't work and can't Tashfeen Malik and Sayed Farook obviously did not give a damn about the law; they not only committed murder but they apparently constructed and amassed a number of bombs, every one of which was very illegal to make and possess.  In fact they had roughly four times as many bombs as they did guns. The only saving grace in that regard is that they were piss-poor bomb-makers and their instruments of destruction failed to explode.  Neither of these individuals appears to have been known to be dangerous beforehand, although again as usual we seem to be ignoring the negligence of our government, just as we did after 9/11, after Boston's bombing and in myriad other cases, a few of which I've documented such as the three-time jackass in central Florida who killed a Marshal that was attempting to serve papers on him.

In this case there are allegations that Malik at least misled the government about where she lived when she applied for her Visa to enter the US.  It appears probable that she not only was the radical intent on jihad and stoked its fire she may have come to the United States for the explicit purpose of committing jihad and her "marriage" may have been nothing more than a vehicle to accomplish that.  That we do not yet know and may never find out with certainty, but the timelines and acts involved certainly appear to support such a belief.

Who will be held accountable for that?  Nobody. They never are, just like we've never held anyone accountable for the hundreds if not thousands of guns our government knowingly trafficked to drug lords in Mexico (including at least one that was used to kill a border agent), the former Florida Governor Bush (now Presidential contender) who gave Driver Licenses to people here in the state who were neither citizens or permanent residents (who continued on to kill 3,000 Americans in part facilitated by that state-issued ID), and of course the Boston Bombers who we had explicit warning on from foreign governments and ignored same.

But leave that aside, because even if we closed all those loopholes, even if we punished everyone involved in all of these "oversights" or even went to the degree of charging them as accessories before the fact to terrorism (which in my view we ought to do) it doesn't matter because you can't detect them all.

In short not all evil presents itself before you in a way you can determine before the fact. Most of the time it does, but not always.

And this, inevitably, comes back to the Second Amendment.

You see, at San Bernardino they had a nice "gun free" zone -- an office party for government employees at which nobody was armed -- except, of course, the two shooters.  The assault wound up being terminated before everyone was murdered only because one of the shooters either got unlucky with a ricochet or was a crappy shot and hit a fire sprinkler, setting off the fire alarm, and then their lack of skill at bomb-making kept others from death as their IEDs failed to explode despite the remote for them allegedly being found in their rented SUV.

There is of course no guarantee that if some or all of the people at that party had been armed the outcome would have been different.  It might have meant nothing.  But then again when faced with evil it is not a question of guarantees, it is a question of time before an effective response can take place.

Watch an MMA fight or boxing match for one 2-minute round.  That's the minimum amount of time you can expect to pass before the police can show up if something bad happens right here, right now wherever you are.

Contemplate the pounding that you would take from mere fists during that intervening time; as an untrained individual would you be alive?  Now consider that the person doing the pounding isn't using fists, they have acquired a gun -- whether legally or not.

What is the only thing you can do to improve your odds?

There is only one thing you can do and you know damn well what it is.  Carry a gun yourself as a means of attempting to deter evil should the quite unlikely but possible gravest extreme arise.

If you do not support and are not willing to stand and demand a literal, word-for-word recognition of the Second Amendment as written it is your responsibility to explain why in the comments, using only arguments that can be validly addressed and either confirmed or refuted through logic.

Good luck.