kurt_w wrote:Arturo, I'm curious. Is there anything in your response there that couldn't equally well be applied to, say, drunk driving laws?
Obviously, there are differences outside of the scope of your argument here (in particular, the 2nd amendment and its interpretation by the courts give gun control laws certain hurdles to cross that anti-drunk-driving laws don't have to face).
You've already found where the drunk driving and gun laws are distinctly different - one is dealing with an incursion into an activity explicitly protected by a Constitutional right, where the other (drunk driving) is not specifically mentioned as a right of the people. There is overlap between the two arguments though, but I don't want to turn this into a conversation about drunk driving laws necessarily.
kurt_w wrote:But the kind of argument you're citing here looks pretty non-persuasive to me. We don't normally require laws to be 100% effective, or perfectly enforceable, or capable of solving social problems entirely on their own rather than in combination with other forms of social action.
Sure, laws may not be 100% effective. But if we could rate the effectiveness of laws in quantitative terms (for instance, if the goal is to reduce gun deaths, we can count gun deaths), we'd find that some laws are not only poorly effective, but have negative effectiveness
(e.g. gun deaths increase after gun control laws). We should work to avoid this sort of law or program.
My suspicion is that gun control laws that could actually work would be extremely authoritarian and harsh, as in, if you aren't a police officer and are caught with any gun, you are imprisoned or flogged. This would probably need to be accompanied by outright confiscation of existing firearms. I'm not advocating such a program, indeed I am offended by the idea of such a program, but I think that's mechanically how gun control would need to function in order to be effective. Partial/half measures may have positive effectiveness, or maybe negative, I'm not sure. I prefer freedom accompanied by risk.
kurt_w wrote:People still do drive drunk. And part of the reduction in drunk driving has come from non-governmental action (social pressure, basically). But ... does that mean laws against drunk driving aren't useful?
The other factors that have helped reduce drunk driving do not mean that dd laws aren't useful. They are (effectively) unrelated factors. I'm not informed well enough to isolate and measure the impact of drunk driving laws in relation to other drunk driving trends.
kurt_w wrote:We don't have to choose only one single way to reduce gun violence. Better gun control laws might only solve part of the problem, but the same is true of all the alternatives that conservatives have been promoting in the aftermath of Sandy Hook (better identification and treatment of mental illness, reducing gratuitous violence in media and entertainment, better security in public places, etc.)
None of those would solve the problem on its own. But so what? We can walk and chew gum at the same time, right?
Sure, but we can also chew gum and play in traffic at the same time. It doesn't matter how many actions are taken, but whether some or all of those actions are more harmful than inaction. I don't think that any of the proposed causes or solutions are going to have much effect, if any, including most of the lame-ass proposals by conservatives. It will be hard to measure both the costs and benefits of the laws. I tend to adopt an attitude something akin to the precautionary principle when it comes to new laws of uncertain efficacy. There are too many ways for things to go wrong, especially when you are dealing with police powers granted to humans to be wielded over other humans. I see no evidence that actions taken on the basis of an attitude like, "well, we have to do something
," will not turn out worse on net than doing nothing at all.