Free Markets, Free People

How do you argue a point with a side which hasn’t a clue how the real world works or what a logical “non-sequitur” is?

I think we all know which side that is.

Here’s the premise put forth by an article in The New Republic:

“Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control”

Here’s a sketch of the argument:

There is indeed agreement between many liberals and libertarians that the militarization of the police, especially in its dealings with racial minorities, has gone too far. But this consensus may crumble pretty quickly when it’s confronted with the obvious police counter-argument: that the authorities’ heavy firepower and armor is necessary in light of all the firepower they’re up against. At that point, many liberals will revert to arguing for sensible gun control regulations like broader background checks to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and the mentally ill (the measure that police organizations successfully argued should be the gun control movement’s legislative priority following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings) or limits on assault weapons and oversized ammunition clips. And liberals will be reminded that the libertarians who agree with them in opposing police militarization are very much also opposed to the gun regulations that might help make the environment faced by police slightly less threatening.

But it doesn’t “crumble” at all.  You have to buy into the premise that it is a more lethally dangerous out there for police than it appears to be.  But it isn’t:

The number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms in 2013 fell to levels not seen since the days of the Wild West, according to a report released Monday.

The annual report from the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund also found that deaths in the line of duty generally fell by 8 percent and were the fewest since 1959.

According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012.

Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms.

The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887.

And the drop is credited to bullet proof vests, not SWAT Teams and MRAPS. Pretending that the threat is any higher now than it always has been seems obviously wrong, given the facts.  Certainly there are toxic cultures within our society who believe that violence is the answer to whatever they encounter as a problem. And yes, police have to face that potential threat all the time.  Do I think police should be armed adequately?  Yes, but that doesn’t at all begin to cover what we see among today’s police forces in terms of both equipment and tactics.  In fact, I believe it is all of these “wars” on everything from drugs to terrorists which have had a hand in helping to militarize the police.

That said, agree or disagree with that point, gun control is essentially not only been shown to be ineffective but is a non-sequitur in this “argument”.  See Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC for proof the ineffectiveness of the ban.  But you have to ask, who in this day and age but a clueless journalist would even begin to believe that “broader background checks” are going to keep guns out of the hands of “violent felons?”  Have they in the past (their answer is they just haven’t be stringent enough)?  Honestly, do they really believe a felon is going to waltz into a gun store to buy what he wants knowing full well he’ll have a background check run?  Really?

Have these rubes never heard of a black market (they can buy guns from Mexican cartels, thoughtfully provided by the DoJ)?  Do they not realize that any “violent felon” who wants a gun isn’t going to even try to get one legally?  So, knowing that, why in the world would any libertarian grant the absurd premise knowing full well that doing so only limits the freedom of the law abiding citizenry?  It’s absurd on its face.  And, logically, it is a non-sequitur to any libertarian (again, libertarianism isn’t about shrinking rights and freedoms for heaven sake).  How does making it more inconvenient for citizens who aren’t “violent felons” to buy a gun for self-protection going to stop a felon from obtaining his gun illegally?  It isn’t.

Because, of course, that’s not what they really want (i.e. incremental change via “broader background checks”).  They want a total ban on guns, for government and felons to be the only people with guns and to essentially outlaw then outright.  Obviously they are oblivious to the danger of only government having guns and they certainly don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the fact that felons aren’t going to pay any attention to the law.  Nor will the black market in illegal guns.  So why, again, should anyone grant this argument credence?

I swear, you just wonder at times what goes on between their ears all day, because it certainly has nothing to do with the real world or reason.


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21 Responses to How do you argue a point with a side which hasn’t a clue how the real world works or what a logical “non-sequitur” is?

  • I think it should also be pointed out that most of the crazy people who got guns managed to either pass a background check or get the guns they used from people who did. They also, for the most part, went after soft targets: schools, movie theaters, public events (just off the top of my head). I can only think of one case where they went after the cops and they killed themselves shortly after the murders.

    This so called ‘common sense gun control’ fails any basic application of common sense. The point remains. The gun controllers want control regardless of how things turn out. Isn’t that kinda what got us into the problem of a militarized police force (the unintended consequences of the war on drugs)? It ain’t all the gun controller’s fault but they’re not helping with this sort of crap.

  • Here I thought that libertarians held the primacy of individual judgment, which would make “libertarian socialists” an oxymoron.

    • The author has no idea that most libertarians work from first principles.

      The liberal wants to strengthen the state by weakening the individual under gun control…how is that ever going to fly?

      Might as well tell the liberal that if we got rid of police unions it would make them more accountable.

  • I’ve always wanted the answer to to question you asked, then answered, towards the end of the post. The idea that making it harder for law-abiding citizens to obtain a firearm also makes it harder for criminals to do the same is a total fallacy. Arguing otherwise is to abandon logic completely,.

    • Well, …. maybe they believe that somehow the millions and millions of rifles, shotguns, pistols, revolvers, and Saturday Night Specials will all somehow magically disappear, so the bad guys will no longer have a huge supply of other-people’s-weapons to steal .

      Or maybe they plan to seize them.

      Y’know, “when the time is right.”

  • When reason, logic and persuasion fail (or are not available or meaningful) only FORCE is left.

  • According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012.
    Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms.

    How did the other 32 die? Heart attacks?

    Firearms-related fatalities are up 61% over 2013.

    • And why?
      Are there 61% more firearms?
      Or 61% more Obama policy?

      • Well, I dunno, but I’m going to take a wild flyer here and bet it isn’t the presence of “tanks” on our streets.

        You know…’cause there aren’t any unless you have a serious disturbance in the civil society.

        MRAPS are like the boats I see in Houston-area fire stations…you’ll never see one on the street under anything like normal circumstances. I wonder why people get so excited and loose their shit over something sitting in a garage?

        • I agree about the trucks. They don’t look especially dangerous. I wonder if they are expensive to maintain though.

          I think SWAT serving warrants is more worrisome.

          And most worrisome was the fact that Ferguson police manage to ticket every household for $321 . year on average. Its how Ferguson government pays the bills. That seems very high to me, and if its like California, produces an incentive to ticket the productive citizens to “make their budget.”

          • I feel the need to look under the hood of that “statistic” regarding “average” fines per household. As is commonly the case, in following up on links, you find that one link goes to another link, showing the “statistic” is in an echo-chamber. It is hard to find out where…and HOW…that number was generated.
            I will say this…and I’ve said it for a couple of decades now…municipal traffic courts are simply a tax-gathering exercise, and they subvert the rule of law in some rather bad ways.
            First, they are models of inconvenience to the accused. I’ve been to enough to know that the typical “cattle call” procedure is a literal zoo. And that’s in some of the JP courts in Harris County that are run by quite good JPs and their staff. If you are a working person, you will plan on at LEAST two full mornings of court procedure. This is just a burden a lot of wage-earners can’t afford. Night courts are a rarity.
            Second, the fines for some offenses are HUGE. In Texas, driving without insurance was on the order of $370 alone some years back. If the ideal was to get everyone to carry insurance, this was an APPARENT contradiction. That fine would cover most liability insurance for a year back then.
            Third, you used to be able to “sit out” a fine in jail. Not any more in Texas. They won’t let anyone do that. They REALLY want their money, honey.
            My bottom line has been that EVERYBODY needs to fight a traffic ticket as a matter of course. EVERYBODY needs to find a lawyer who does traffic as a speciality. Why? Because the chances are excellent they will represent you for a very low fee, and will get you off. Why? It isn’t because they are good trial attorneys. It is because they come in with 100-150 cases and announce “ready for trial” on a given day. The court has time for a handful of trials, so everybody else gets dismissed.
            As a general rule, municipal courts are a naked revenue-generation mill, and their activities simply disguised taxation. They TEND to be highly regressive, since the poor and uneducated simply pay the fines.

  • Bruce, of a kind with your apparent point is something I raised, incidental to the Ferguson thing…. strikes me that the people who have the biggest problems with this (shooting) are the ones seeking to give the government more power, and who think government can solve any issue, if we can just get the power to said government and tinker with the laws enough..

    Do such people not understand the inherent conflicts in giving government more power, and throttling the police, who are the first level enforcers of that law and that power?

    That is one of the better long pieces I’ve seen on Ferguson.

  • “How do you argue a point with a side which hasn’t a clue…”
    That’s just it. You can’t.
    The problem is part of the Dunning-Kruger effect. They don’t have a clue that they don’t have a clue.
    In fact, they often think they’re the smart ones, even as they say things that are patently ridiculous. They think they’re making sense, because they can’t tell the difference between sense and nonsense. Based on representatives from academia here in the comments section, many also completely lack the cognitive capabilities to *ever* comprehend that they’ve said something nonsensical.

    • It’s also fascinating to me that they just refuse to learn, even when directly challenged.
      From the piece Bruce quotes: “…or limits on assault weapons and oversized ammunition clips.”
      Seriously…??? This author is trying…VERY sincerely…to make an argument to people who understand guns. And it isn’t like there haven’t been about a billion pieces in print or pixel that define terms and rail against their misuse by people of the Collective. But THIS moron STILL uses “assault weapons” when he means “semi-automatic rifles”, “oversized” when he means “anything over 10 round”, and “clips” when he means “magazines”.
      Not only does it tend to self-marginalize, but it insults people who understand and correctly use terms. And, seriously, how hard is it to learn…especially when you’ve been CHALLENGED to learn?

  • The fundamental logical error is the assumption that a statistical approach like gun control can eliminate the odd situations that cause police to resort to SWAT teams. Even if 100% of guns were confiscated (which isn’t possible), there will be incidents where, say, an ISIS cell decides to kill people using guns smuggled in from Mexico. Essentially the same need for a militarized police would exist.

    Further, a disarmed society would reward armed criminals and terrorists. With their intended victims disarmed, an armed criminal has more reason to physically confront them and terrorists can expect to run up a higher victim count by engaging in an active shooting.

    Every year, more people in the US are killed with bats and other clubs then are killed with rifles of ALL types. We are talking a few hundred people per year, out of a nation of over 310 million.

  • Consistancy doesn’t enter into it. Ever.

    To back away from the gun control argument let me provide a related but less controversial anecdote. The city council in my area was acting, over the course of a couple of months, on two proposals. One was responsive to a newsworthy fatality after a police-felon “high speed chase” resulted in traffic accidents in two uninvolved vehicles, with injuries to the police driver as well as civilians and the killed child. So the city (a different suburb than the one in which the accident occured) was promoting an ordinance forbidding police from such chases. New policy — take pictures, radio ahead, cordon off routes — do NOT chase. Reasonable people can and do disagree with such a policy and the time immediately after a death may not be the most reasonable time to make such a policy but the policy was at least a deliberated decision the elected officials with community opportunity for input.

    Next up: a procurement action for new police vehicles. Budget austerity — always — and a very expensive set of vehicles. Ford Crown Victorias — mostly — with factory options AND after-market customization specific to police work. What kinds of options and custom features? A “package” marketed by the police-supply industry as the “INTERCEPTOR” package. Yes, the gimmick is taxi-cab like reliability and ability to idle for long periods etc…. but the concept of big engines supporting high speeds necessary to run down bootleggers before crossing the county line is built into the DNA of the vehicle — according to the maker! A racing chasing fine handling precision speedster –being considered by a community that has just chosen NOT to chase offenders.

    The policy is set forth for the force to tootle around town in a black-and-white Ford Focus, if not a Segway, but the implimentation is to bulk up the ride.

    Anyhow, I have the impression that if the city council voted that the local police should not club anybody, the local force would try procure heavy steel flashlights — and council would buy it. If council banned mace the cops will ask for pepper and get it. If council eschew radar traps the cops ask for and be approved cameras….

    What people actually do –cops, citizens, felons, and politicians — and what they say they are TRYING to do are always at odds.

    • Well, while taking your point, conversely…
      Do you want the LEOs responding to your burning car containing your family in a Focus that CAN go 80mph, but will have pistons flying through the heads?
      Pretty much every American LEO carries a powerful handgun…and a lot more stuff…that they never use. And that because of use-of-force doctrine. A cop with a powerful car is not impelled to chase a fleeing subject against policy, is he/she?
      One of the things mentioned in the “militarized police” histrionics was helicopters. Really…??? For how many decades have police used helicopters to good effect, including obviating the need for surface pursuits at high speeds?

      Several decades ago, I had an Army manual on the use of the baton and riot stick. It went over…at exquisite detail…the various ways you could kill someone by misuse of the weapon, and established a doctrine that it should only be used in certain ways. The Army still issued batons.

  • There’s an admonition against wrestling with pigs:  you only get dirty, and the pig likes it.
    Honestly, there really is no point in engaging Progressives; it’s a waste of time.  Quickly ID the ones open to reason, discard the rest.