Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Single issue voter? Not exactly!


Because the right to keep and bear arms thus closely relates to the question of the place of the individual in society, anyone who is consistent in his thinking will have views on gun control that are indicative of his views on the larger question.


I am not exactly a single issue voter myself; there are many political matters that interest me. However, as others have observed before now, gun control is a pretty good indicator of how a candidate really feels on a variety of other issues. If he is for strong and intrusive anti-gun measures, it is nearly certain that he likes the nanny state and is okay with the surveillance state. Why is that consistent? It relates to how that politician views the individual and the power of the state.

If you do not think the individual ought ever wield deadly force on his own behalf, but should wait for the cops to arrive, that indicates a specific relationship in your mind as to the individual's safety and where decisions about it are properly vested. You will be distinctly uncomfortable with the idea that the state does not and should not have a monopoly on deadly force. Indeed, as an extension of that, the Jeffersonian idea that the people should always retain the means to throw off the yoke of government will seem bizarrely wrong to you.

If you think the whole point of society is that the government shall direct everyone in ways that are useful to society as a whole, you will never be comfortable with the contrary view. That is the view that society is made up of individuals who ought make their own choices; government ought be minimal, empowered in a way that is consistent with good order but not instituted or empowered to manage our lives. It is the second view and not the first that gave rise to the idea of the armed citizen as final guarantor of  individual choices and privacy.

Because the right to keep and bear arms thus closely relates to the question of the place of the individual in society, anyone who is consistent in his thinking will have views on gun control that are indicative of his views on the larger question.

If you pragmatically realize you cannot ban private gun ownership outright, though you think that would be a good thing, then it is perfectly self-consistent with your thinking to support things like the misnamed assault weapons bans and limits on magazine capacity. The net effect is to leave the citizenry substantially less capable than they were of defending themselves. That is why you feel satisfaction at such laws even though they have no impact upon crime and criminals. The criminals still have thirty shots in their rifles, but that is another issue for another day. You can feel good that Joe Citizen does not. What if Joe needs to defend himself against the criminals? He shouldn't do that! What if he someday needs to fight off tyranny and oppression? Same answer!

I am no psychiatrist and I am not attempting to play one on the Internet. What I am pointing to goes only to the question of logical consistency, which is something anyone can judge. If you take someone's ideas and line them up side by side, most people's are consistent.

As I said, I am not a single issue voter. But all my politics come down on the side of the individual and his rights deserving precedence over the state and its tendency to micromanage and intrude. I am not at all persuaded that a politician holds views consistent with my own on other matters if he does not possess a solid "A" rating from the NRA.

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