Friday, July 27, 2012

Dangers of dialectic: No, Mr. Schumer, it isn't reasonable


Chuck Schumer is at it again. Exploiting the most recent case in which a mental patient got a gun, he sought, according to this article, to

...make it illegal to transfer or possess large capacity feeding devices such as gun magazines, belts, feed stripes and drums of more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of .22 caliber rim fire ammunition. 

He finds this reasonable.

“We can debate where to draw the line of reasonableness, but we might be able to come to an agreement in the middle,” Schumer said. “Maybe, maybe, maybe we can pass some laws that might, might, might stop some of the unnecessary casualties … maybe there’s a way we can some together and try to break through the log jam and make sure the country is a better place.”

The trouble is it is not reasonable at all. If we have violent gangsters rolling around with 30-round, normal capacity magazines, or 100-round, additional capacity drums, and there may be several of said criminals, then no, it is not reasonable that I be limited to a 10-round magazine. I take it as reasonable that I be at least as well armed as the bad guys and crazies and terrorists. The country is not "a better place" if the honest man is routinely outgunned by the lawless.

The Aurora, Colorado shooting is tragic, of course. If the suspect's psychiatrist had flagged him as dangerous, thereby keeping an insane man from arming himself, that would make the country a better place. As the law is now written it takes a formal finding of mental incompetence or commitment to an institution to deny the right to arms. If either of those happens to someone, it is supposed to show up on his background check. But many psychiatrists prefer a low key style of treatment that does not turn the patient's world upside down. A strong intervention, involving a sanity hearing or a commitment, even if timely and called for, will wreck the patient's life in several ways beyond his ability to buy guns. It will probably nix his ability to form contracts and get credit, for example. It may mean he can never get a decent job again. So, often, the psychiatrist will err on the humane side and try gentler means.

Still, there is such a thing as a doctor's word to the wise, a whisper in the proper ear, an off the record phone call to the chief of police that Patient X is unhinged, in potentially violent ways, and you probably want to keep an eye on the guy--and the gun sales records. It didn't happen in this case. Perhaps making that phone call violates medical ethics, but it is a narrow technical violation if it does. It is done for the patient's good. The patient's good is not served if he ends up with dead bodies piled up and unable, as the suspect now says, to account for the matter. He  says he doesn't remember.

If you heed Mr. Schumer's remarks, it would seem that he does not know that we already have thorough background checks (as thorough as the information that goes into the system, anyway) and laws intended to prevent the insane from arming themselves. From there he proceeds to a bill against sane people having normal sized magazines, a non sequitur.

“Maybe we could come together on guns if each side gave some,” Schumer said.

The trouble with dialectical reasoning like Mr. Schumer's is that each side must have something it can give up. Schumer is offering nothing and we on the other side have given up quite enough already. The problem here isn't gun control or magazine control. It is nut control. No compromise is possible on the basis that honest citizens, sane ones responsible for their conduct, should be treated like crazies. The sane, honest, law abiding citizens shall have weapons suitable for their own defense. Neutered Clinton magazines are inadequate.

No, Mr. Schumer, there is no reasonable compromise by which the sane are tasked for the acts of the insane, or the law abiding for the acts of evil people. Arms, as in the right to keep and bear them, mean the efficient kind, credibly able to deal with real world threats.

Let me try to put this magazine capacity issue into a perspective the Congressman will understand. Let us suppose we make it a rule in your district that people of a certain party may vote once each, but people of the opposing party may vote three times to their once. Oh, wait. Never mind...


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