torin3: (Pyro-baby)
[personal profile] torin3
Just because you want to distort the argument, doesn't mean it is stupid.

A friend of mine on facebook linked to an article that puts forth the argument that those that people who "oppose additional gun laws because criminals already don't obey laws" are stupid (or are at least making a stupid argument).

I've seen this put forth in a lot of places recently, and I've decided to point out that this article, and others like it, are dishonest and deliberately missing the point. I'm writing it here as it it will probably be a bit long for facebook, and I'd like to be able to point to it when it comes up again. This isn't a direct reply to the article, but more of a general reply to the meme.

First off, in the age of soundbites the 'criminals already don't follow the law' is verbal shorthand for an idea that takes too long to explain in detail in a news clip or limited space comment field. So, let me actually explain what it means where I won't run out of space.

Laws can make illegal quite a few types of activities. Some are obvious wrongs that everybody will agree are crimes. Murder, rape, battery are such. Someone is actual harmed and injured in these crimes. Others can criminalize actions that hurt nobody. Lets say your great grandfather bought a machine gun in the 1920s. It was legal then. He kept it in the attic and never used it. When he passed on it was part of the property he willed to you. You aren't up on guns or gun laws and you don't know it was never registered in the '30s and never got the proper tax stamp. But it looks nice, so you put it and a few other rifles your great grandfather had in a display case. Well, your neighbor sees it through the window and reports you to the BATFE. Congrats, you have injured or hurt nobody, but you are now going to Federal PMITA prison for 20 years.

Switching over to a different amendment, let us say that muggers start carrying a bible with them. For some reason, they believe it will protect them from harm, but only if they break the arm of their victim in the process. This spreads to about 75% of the muggers. So, the legislatures start passing laws that require background checks before you can purchase a bible. Bibles are required to be printed large enough that it is difficult to carry on your person. You are required to have a home inspection to make sure your bibles are all accounted for. There is a yearly fee to be allowed to own a bible. There are exemptions for clergy.
Will this reduce the intance of muggings where the victim gets a broken arm? Possibly. But you have now made it harder and more expensive to own a bible, and fewer people will do so, even though they have never comitted a crime.

Jumping back specifically to the types of laws, the people who are talking about 'criminals don't obey laws' are opposing only the regulations that are being proposed to tack on additional penalties, and to make it harder and more expensive to own/purchase firearms. They are not opposing laws that punish crimes that actually harm people. Their point is that the thought process that decides it is ok to shoot up a school, or burn down a nighclub isn't likely to bother with the mental calculus about the consequences of violating an administrative type law that might add a few years onto their sentence. For a somewhat funny example,

A reason that the 'criminals don't obey laws' crowd tends to be as active as they are is that they are fighting a creeping incrementalisim. The people who are opposed to guns owned by citizens are proposing and supporting laws that gradually erode the right, and make it more expensive and harder to own guns.

(still working on this...will add more)


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