Thursday, November 24, 2011

Will they be armed?

Recently, I heard a relative of my wife tell a story of how she visited her brother on a kibbutz in Israel, back in the day. Her brother was a philosopher genius, who lived a reclusive life on a kibbutz in his own world of ideas.

"I will never forget", she said, "how one time he had to go somewhere. He got up, took out his gun, put it on his shoulder, and left. And after that experience — seeing my quiet, thoughtful brother with a gun — I have always hated guns. I hate all wars, all violence, and I hate guns. Gun control. That's right."

Now, it's quite obvious to any intelligent person that my wife's relative's logic has topology of a Möbius strip. We can agree that violence in and of itself is bad. But, presumably, her philosopher brother was picking up a gun not to go hunt some Arabs, but to defend himself from them. That is a very good argument against gun control. Obviously, if even he had to carry a gun, the government was powerless to protect him. So, he had to protect himself against the Arabs who had guns. Imposing gun control on him would take his protection away from him. Arabs, obviously, would still keep their guns.

This is a very good illustration for one of the standard arguments against gun control: making guns illegal will take the guns away from the hands of law-abiding citizens. The law-breaking criminals will look for a way to obtain a gun whether or not owning one is banned (if they are not afraid to risk life in prison for murdering someone, surely they will not be afraid to risk whatever punishment they'll get for owning a gun).

(By the way, I told my wife's relative that the states with the lowest amount of gun control have also the lowest amount of crime. Her retort to this piece of statistics was an expression of incredulity which I shall not quote here.)

But the reason I am posting the above story is that it reminded me of a quote from Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels:
Eddie: They're armed.
Soap: What was that? Armed? What do you mean, armed? Armed with what?
Eddie: Err, bad breath, colorful language, feather duster... what do you think they're gonna be armed with? Guns, you [moron]!