Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thoughts on the current gun debate.

No one changes their minds based on stuff posted on the intertubes, and anyone who reads this ever will already have had access to all this info, but I'm going to try to pull it together for my peace of mind.

The first 50 years of my life I owned no guns.  I didn't hunt, I didn't shoot.  I largely "protected" my kids from guns, and was of the opinion in general that guns are sufficiently dangerous that I don't need them around any more than I need a chainsaw or an dune buggy or a motorcycle.  Guns are dangerous hardware, and I just didn't want to go there.  Note that I also didn't play with chainsaws, dune buggies or motorcycles.  I'm a geek.  I sat at my computer, and was content.

However, around 2003 something changed.  Perhaps, as I became more and more exposed to the gun community, as I  hung out with the 1632 writers and fans, as I met and socialized with other Baen authors, I became somewhat more acculturated to guns.  They moved out of the motorcycle category into the circular saw category  something that is dangerous, sure but not so intrinsically dangerous that they can't be handled and used.

At about the same time, my political position shifted too.  I'll never be a right-wing-ideologue but the longer I was a partner in a small business, the more I was forced to deal with out-of-state business regulations and taxes, the more I interacted with my customers about the regulatory difficulties that they had running their business, the more I came to the position that MOST of the regulations that apply to small businesses in the US are trickle down regs resulting from bad actions of a few idiots, and of large impersonal businesses.  More and more I came to ask why the government was involved in regulating things that I didn't see a need for them to regulate, nor an authorization for them to in the US or state constitution.

As I moved into that mind-set, I was asking questions like: Why do some places require a business license to start a sole-proprietor's business?  In Chicago, for example, if you want to sell something to the public, you have to have a Limited Business License. Why?  "Because there are regulations."  Ok, but why do you have to have me have a license to impose those regulations?  What does the license accomplish exactly?

Where I live, you can just open a business.   If you're selling retail, you need a state tax ID so you can pay your sales taxes, but that takes 2 minutes online.  Heck, if you want to form a corporation you can do it on line in under 10 minutes.  Many business regulations just seem like make-work for state, county and city workers.

These two influences, that guns were not as dangerous as I had believed before, and an increasing belief that the government is not there to help me, put me in a position to reconsider my overall stand on firearms.

Now, I'm a geek.  I think of myself as a scientist, even if I've never published, and the scientific method, and what practically amounts to a worship of data analysis lead then to step two: I started looking for information about guns, gun safety and crime.  I decided to let the data guide me.   This isn't any sort of unusual.  I did the same exact thing when I became a Baha'i at 15 years old.  I didn't particularly want to be a theist or a member of any religion. Secular humanism would have fit me just fine, except that the experimental evidence of the effect of prayer on my life resulted in a (grudging) acceptance of God and His manifestations.

So, I started in on the data.  There was a lot less available then, but I see no reason to re-has the last decade of research on the subject.  In the next rock I'll start to walk through the data and what it caused me to change my mind about.

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