Thank you for the compliments!
I suggested that the most important benefit of gun control, which cannot significantly affect gun crime rates in the short to medium term, “ would be to begin a change in the social psychology of gun ownership, from normative to transgressive.”
I think this is very likely the unstated underlying animus behind the modern gun control movement in the United States. To make gun ownership itself a social stigma.
I don’t think that’s healthy here, for two reasons.
One, is that there are pretty good reasons for people to own guns, not only here but in your country as well. I don’t talk about that much on this publication, but the one time I did, it was featured on the front page of all of Medium and it’s my most popular article in terms of traffic.
The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper
Or, “Who Needs an AR-15 Anyway?”
The second, deeper reason is the primary focus of the rest of this publication. Namely media criticism and culture war analysis. A third of this country owns guns, in both rural and urban settings. I don’t know what the culture war is like in Australia, but media echo chambers, smartphone addiction, and outrage porn articles have taken over the media space indoctrinating our country here, and people are becoming more and more isolated into two literally diametrically opposite world views, which are being pushed into direct conflict for nothing more than to farm pennies per click. It is a huge problem and is going to continue to get worse. I think there’s a significant chance that violent revolution may be right around the corner here, and gun control efforts might well be the tipping point that causes a lot more people to die. Here’s a good primer of three articles talking about that issue, the first of which was the finale for my initial series on gun statistics:
Currently our homicide rates in the USA are at historic lows. We’ve only had a plateau of homicide rate this low one other time in our country’s history, and that was the 1950s. But public perceptions of that are the exact opposite, because of clickbait outrage porn.
The Gun Homicide Epidemic Isn’t
Or, “How lying about reality doesn’t engender cross-cultural cooperation.”
My greatest fear is that this time of literal, verifiable, peace and prosperity turns into something nasty on the level of Syria, because of the media, and specifically because of a gun control push to solve a problem that isn’t actually a problem, historically speaking. We’re quite safe here right now.
I pointed out that most guns in Australia are in rural hands. US has surprisingly few large cities; only New York is larger than Sydney, while Los Angeles is about the size of Melbourne. The 48 contigous US states occupy slightly less area than Australia, with 15 times the population. These people are distributed widely in modestly sized cities. Our population (89% urban) is far more concentrated in large urban centres than US. Rural concentration of gun ownership therefore equates to guns in far fewer hands with far better separation from urban populations.
That is fascinating. I really had no idea how urbanized Australia is, in terms of urban:rural population ratios.
It is relevant, I think, that military ‘service’ is valourised in US. There, it is almost a requirement for high office; here, it is almost a disqualification.
I don’t think that’s particularly healthy for a nation, personally. I was raised a Quaker and a conscientious objector to war, and still am, but unfortunately I know enough math to identify that war is a Nash Equilibrium in game theory from which you can’t escape. A lot of our modern problems are. Choosing to play this game suboptimally will eventually cause a country to lose the game to someone else who’s playing optimally. More on that here:
I accept that US gun & violent crime rates have their etiology in culture rather than mere availability of guns. Put simply, US has a culture problem that’s costing lives. I wish it well.
At the risk of falling into a horrible pro gun trope that I truly dislike, this is the cost of living in a free society. For us anyway.
I think Australia can certainly continue to do what Australia’s doing and be just fine. We crossed the gun Rubicon a very long time ago, and our results on the ground today aren’t any worse than they’ve been the past century. They’re arguably much better that most of our history.
One thing I think about, that I’ve never penned into a significant article because it would be difficult to support with hard math, is the tipping point from a free to an unfree society. Unfree societies tend to have a bundle of features, and the more of these you check off, the closer you get to tyranny. Those features include:
- Big military
- Domestic surveillance
- Militarized police
- Strong nationalism
- Gun control
- State atheism (or worship of the state itself)
- Large prison population
- Cronyism (or monarchy or single party control)
Australia has very few of these. North Korea and China have basically all of them. If you run through historical democides, basically all of the major players had many or most of these things. USSR, Pol Pot, etc.
The USA already has quite a few of these things in place. We’ve got the big military, domestic surveillance, militarized police, nationalism, prison population, and cronyism in spades. Those horses are already in the stable, and aren’t going anywhere.
When folks on the right in this country freak out about socialism or gun control leading to tyranny, and folks on the left point to Australia or the Nordic Socialist Model as a counter argument, they’re forgetting how many other items on the list we in the USA have checked off. Once you get most or all of them checked, a tyranny manifests as if by magic. It can’t not.
I think there’s a good argument to be made that gun proliferation may end up being the last bulwark against tyranny here, because of all the other ways we’re different than Australia.
I understand if you don’t agree with that analysis, but I’m just trying to give a different perspective.
And thanks for the dialog. This has been instructive.