Once again gun “control” advocates are screaming for the government to DO SOMETHING. Anything. It doesn’t matter what the measures are but they must be swift and drastic!!

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I found this cover to be supremely ironic. The statists who mock those offering thoughts and prayers DEMAND that their own personal God, the Almighty State, extend His all powerful hand and solve the violence problem!

If anything the tragic history of the War on Drugs and the War on Terror is one long winding series of epic failures on the part of the State to protect people from the very boogeymen who allegedly justify these tireless crusades.

And once again in San Bernardino we have another failure to stop an attack despite the all encompassing dragnet surveillance and myriad of police powers granted under the name of “security.”

The problem is clear. The State has no monetary incentive to keep anyone safe. When they fail no one gets fired and no competing security company swoops in to grab up all their disaffected “customers.”

In fact, the more they fail the more the conventional wisdom is shouted from the rooftops that government just didn’t have enough money and power to do its job. The diagnosis and the cure are always the same. More State power. More laws. More enforcement. More restrictions on individual liberty.

SHOW ME THE DATA

There is an obsession with accumulating numbers to show “evidence” for one’s theory about how to deal the gun situation. This is not surprising as currently the scientific method as a whole places the greatest emphasis on correlations and prediction. Mathematical models and graphs and data tables. Far less stress is placed upon trying to tackle the issue from an explanatory perspective.

Many want to “prove” their argument with evidence. The reasoning of the gun “control” advocates is pretty straightforward. The government passes laws restricting gun ownership in one way or another and that translates into less violence. The “evidence” then is the endless statistics to “support” their claims.

The fatal flaw with this approach is that it ignores gazillions of alternative factors. Don’t get me wrong — I have no issue with using numbers in an argument. But that cannot be the bread and butter of your theory. More important is explaining any alleged trends or correlations. How does the presence of guns lead to violence and also how do government enforced gun restrictions lower violence?

Gun “control” advocates don’t seem too keen on explaining. They’d rather list statistics in order to elicit an emotional reaction without having to produce a causal theory or consider alternative factors.

Of course depending on how you define things and dice the data you can come to just about any conclusion you want. Recently the “355 mass shootings this year” stat is being passed around as an emotional plea . The number depends on how you define a mass shooting and will vary wildly depending on your source.

More importantly, simply citing numbers does not constitute a reasoned argument for any course of action. Numbers need to be explained. And if you’re trying to explain data I would argue that major trends are the first order of business rather than hand selected data points which aim to elicit emotional shock.

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How is it that gun ownership per capita has steadily increased while gun homicides per capita have steadily decreased? This does not automatically mean that more guns is the cause of fewer gun homicides. For all we know looking at this graph more guns still cause more gun violence but there was another factor which overwhelmed that influence.

But first a word on proof.

“PROVE IT”

I’m sure you’ve had someone demand that you “prove” something to them during an argument.

The thing about “proof” is that the person demanding it gets to set whatever arbitrary standard they want. You’re not “proving” something in a vacuum your are proving it to them (in other words, according to their personal opinion). The second you show them “evidence” they will find something to disagree about.

And to their credit they will always have a point because it’s impossible to prove an explanation. A seed of doubt can always be interjected. The person requesting proof is setting you up for failure from the get go. The best we can do is to try to propose explanations that are as clear and illuminating as possible. Whether they are “proven” is a matter of someone’s opinion.

If anyone disagrees they are free to define the term “proof” such that it can consistently distinguish in a black and white manner that which does or does not qualify under the definition in all conceivable scenarios. How does one draw a clear distinction between proven and not proven?

What constitutes “proof” for one person fails to do so for another as proof boils down to a matter of degrees and opinion. Ultimately there is no possible way to objectively resolve any such disagreement.

OTHER FACTORS

Endlessly comparing gun violence rates and government enforced gun “control” measures is not a scientific approach. First let’s recognize the subject matter in order to appreciate the magnitude of the question.

Earth is occupied with billions of people who cumulatively make trillions of decisions every day. The complexity and detail of this interconnected network of human actions is unfathomable. It would be ludicrous to automatically preclude all other possible factors than mere gun laws in theorizing about what determines the level of violence in a society. Holding up correlations as “evidence” does nothing to explain how gun laws actually lower violence if indeed they do.

Let’s say a country had a certain level of gun violence. Then they passed a bunch of gun laws and the violence decreased. Does that prove that the laws were the cause of that result? No! Just because an increase in B follows A does not mean A caused the increase. For all we know A actually had a decreasing effect on B but was overwhelmed by another factor.

Correlation does not equal causation. For all the lip service paid to such a basic principle it seems to be ignored a lot.

The gun “control” folks simply need to explain how gun laws lower violence. The connection is not automatic. Surely this has to transpire in the real world somehow, just give us a point by point account of how it might happen!

GUN-FREE ZONES

The most obvious retort to gun laws lowering violence is that criminals don’t follow gun laws. Indeed it seems the vast majority of mass shooting incidents occur in areas where there are strict gun “controls.” According to one stat 92% of mass public shootings between 2009 and 2014 occurred in “gun-free” zones. Most recently the shooting at the “gun-free” Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, as well as the attacks in Paris demonstrate this.

Of course this trend does not prove anything, it simply needs to be explained. Why is it that “gun-free” zones are targeted so often assuming the statement of the facts is accurate? Could it be that the assailants feel less at risk that one of their potential victims might be able to defend themselves? And could it be that declaring a gun-free zone doesn’t magically prevent people from bringing in guns?

Not surprisingly simply declaring an area “gun-free” does not make it so. You might as well declare it “violence-free.” If only it were that easy to solve the world’s problems.

APPLES AND ORANGES

Gun “control” advocates will often try to compare the US to data from other countries like Australia or the UK. Doing so ignores important differences and is an example of comparing apples to oranges.

Culturally it’s pretty clear that Americans are not going to just hand in their guns. Any serious curtailment in the number of guns in the US would require confiscation by brute force (read: men with guns) and would be impossible not to mention insanely totalitarian.

Estimates vary but the number of guns in the US is at least in the hundreds of millions. Politicians scribbling laws on paper won’t magically make all those guns vanish into thin air. SWAT teams going door to door to enforce gun confiscation would probably result in quite the uptick of gun violence.

Of course I don’t think most gun “control” advocates have door to door SWAT raids in mind. Nevertheless I fail to see how any measures would impact the level of violence (more on that below).

To further elucidate the problem with comparing apples to oranges what if instead we compared the US to Mexico? Mexico has much greater restrictions on gun ownership and yet Mexico has seen well over 160,000 homicides since 2007, much of which results from gun violence. Should we then automatically conclude that stricter gun laws make violence worse?

Clearly there are other factors at play, namely the War on Drugs and the resulting drug cartel issue.

Alternatively one could point out as many so often do the strict gun laws in Chicago and the level of violence there. If gun laws place a downward pressure on gun violence then what accounts for the Windy City?

Simply comparing countries based upon a few isolated data points ignores crucial considerations which most definitely have an impact on the levels of violence.

THE CAUSE VS. THE TOOL

Guns don’t kill people by themselves, a human needs to pull the trigger. Guns are a means to an end. Focusing on one possible means to commit violence does not address the causes of violence. In the recent San Bernardino incident the alleged attackers apparently also had pipe bombs. Making pipe bombs is illegal. That doesn’t stop someone from making them.

There is simply no way to address violence by focusing on the tools of violence. If every single gun disappeared from the face of the Earth overnight a terrorist would still have gazillions of options at their disposal to kill lots of people. The deadliest school massacre in US history for example was committed with bombs.

INCURABLE CAUSES

To the extent that gun “control” advocates assess the causes of violence oftentimes they end up explaining it with some kind of incurable ill. Racism. Political extremism. Radical Islam or some other religion.

In one form or another these can be grouped under the umbrella term “hate.” But how do you stop hate? How do you even define hate?

The State is a one trick pony — the only tool in its toolbox is threats of violence to compel others out of fear. I fail to see how fear and force can stop hate. And I especially think the State of all institutions is the least qualified in any society to address the world’s hate problem, if indeed there is one. What are they going to do, door to door SWAT raids to reeducate people in the ways of love through a police baton or a bullet riddled dog?

If hate cannot be cured then apparently the next best thing is to remove hate’s tools of death. We must move up the chain of cause and effect where there can be a tangible impact! Hate can’t be beaten with force, but force can be used to remove hate’s claws!

Setting aside the irony of using men with guns to enforce restrictions on gun ownership once again it’s incomprehensible how gun laws will magically stop violence. Removing one set of tools does not remove all tools. It’s not possible to even make a dent in the number of the guns in the US much less remove ALL the possible tools which could be used to commit violence.

“REASONABLE” GUN CONTROL

We all know this guy. He begins his editorial with, “I own several guns and like to hunt…” to make sure you know he’s “one of you.” But being a sensible, reasonable man he reasonably recognizes sensible gun control measures. His view is “balanced.”

The left-right dichotomy seems to have fostered this idea that it’s “balanced” to stand between two arbitrary goal posts. What constitutes “reasonable” or “balanced” is someone’s opinion. All of this talk is nothing more than pure rhetoric.

The advocate of “sensible” gun control just needs to explain in detail how his proposed measures will impact the level of violence in society without relying on emotional pleas.

THE STATE

The State is a group of people who effectively maintain privileges over the provision of criminal law and justice in a given geographic area. It’s their job to not only keep all non-state actors in line but also to keep themselves within the boundaries of the law.

The boundaries of the law are fluid. The State creates the law through precedent and through decree. Precedent law is the body of information detailing the facts of cases, the procedures of dispute resolution, and the decisions of the arbitrators or jurists, as well as the reasons behind those decisions. Legislation is law by sheer decree. The State produces, disseminates, and enforces laws and naturally those laws tend towards the expansion of State privileges at the expense of individual rights.

States are funded through taxation (which is a euphemism for mass extortion). The State finds various ways to extract money from the population with threats of force. This causes an immediate breakdown in the usefulness of the system — if they get your money essentially no matter what then it kills most of the incentive to provide quality “services.”

Additionally, the State’s monopoly over the provision of criminal law and justice places it in the unique position of not only passing laws to expand its privileges but also using its system of courts to protect its members from criminal and financial liability. It is wholly impractical to expect the State to keep itself in line.

So how exactly do proponents of gun “control” expect this organization to protect us?

It’s important to point out that there is no such thing as gun control only gun monopolization. Gun control advocates don’t want to eliminate guns they want to monopolize ownership in the hands of the State under the pretense that this will make us all safer. There are quite a few reasons why this is preposterous.

First, as I pointed out, the State has no monetary incentive to keep you safe. The extreme devil’s advocate may argue that if 90% of the population died the State would take a hit on tax revenues. Okay sure but barring nuclear annihilation they don’t care if you die. Your tax contributions are minuscule and they have much more efficient ways to extract wealth, like inflating the money supply.

In fact failures to keep you safe often result in increased State money and power. 9/11 at the very least represents a monumental failure to protect Americans and demonstrates mind boggling levels of incompetence. Yet no one got fired and no one went out of business. The State rewarded itself with increased power under the auspices of “security.”

It’s no different at the local level.The State is never the problem it’s the lack of power and resources. The police department just needs more guns and tanks to combat the violence. They are rewarded for failure. What could go wrong?

President Obama in his address to the nation on the San Bernardino incident said,

I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, no matter how effective they are, cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual was motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do and must do is make it harder for them to kill.

Of course you can’t identify every would be mass shooter. This is precisely why we need guns. Let me break this down more thoroughly.

Police make up ~0.28% of the population in the US (900,000 sworn officers out of 316 million people). The chance that a cop will be in the proximity of a crime, such as a mass shooting, close enough to be able to respond more quickly than a potential victim is near zilch.

Obama’s conclusion (borne from the same line of thinking discussed above — you can’t cure hate you can only de-fang it) that we need to restrict private gun ownership ignores this basic fact. The State, no matter how totalitarian in its measures, cannot magically prevent mass murder.

A gun carrying population has a vastly greater chance of intervening should something happen because they are on the scene and are the true “first responders.” Private individuals can and do stop shooters.

But lack of police at every corner is not the essential problem. To summarize:

  1. Police have no financial obligation to protect anyone (thanks to taxes)
  2. Police departments don’t experience the threat of going out of business and being replaced by a competitor
  3. Police have no legal obligation to protect anyone (see Warren v Colombia and Castle Rock v Gonzales, among others)
  4. Police are rewarded for failure to decrease violence levels (look at all this violence, we need more police and police powers!)
  5. Police are not financially liable for lawsuits arising out of abuse as that cost is externalized onto taxpayers (the NYPD costing taxpayers $428 billion in a five year period alone)

That last one is important. Police are naturally insulated from criminal and financial liability for their actions due to their being employed by the organization which has monopolized criminal law and justice markets. Their working relationship with prosecutors further cements that insulation.

Not only can police not protect anyone in the vast majority of instances oftentimes they are the aggressor. Gun “control” advocates want to monopolize gun ownership within the only institution in society uniquely situated to protect its members from consequences should they commit gun violence.

Gun “control” advocates can’t have it both ways. If the mere presence of gun ownership expands the potential for violence then that same principle must be applied to agents of the State (in fact much more to the State). They might argue that there are hiring standards for police!

Unfortunately the Supreme Court has ruled that police departments cannot be held liable for isolated bad hiring practices (pg 179-180). Once again we see the State using its monopoly to protect itself. The risk of consequences arising out of committing violence are greatly diminished for State agents and thus it’s only to be expected that, compared to private individuals, they are more likely to further exacerbate gun violence. Indeed, police are 18 times deadlier per capita than private individuals in America. In fact in 2014 police in the US killed more Americans than all the mass shootings combined. Perhaps giving them all the guns isn’t the best option.

The gun “control” advocate will still think that passing laws, despite all of these problems, will somehow translate into less violence. Maybe we can’t impact existing guns but we can impact future guns by regulating manufacturers or restricting gun/ammo sales. Perhaps the gun “control” advocate agrees that you can’t stop every determined person from getting a gun, but if you make it harder then it will impact some would be attackers.

I will grant the possibility that in some extremely narrow circumstance a gun law could stop a would be attacker for this reason. But at what cost? In how many more instances did an assailant arm themselves and attack anyway in a place where law abiding people were rendered defenseless due to those same gun laws?

As the Paris attacks illustrated so clearly gun laws are useless against determined people but great for leaving innocent people exposed.

“MODERATE” GUN CONTROL

Surely I will be accused of overstating the aims of more “sensible” gun control advocates who only want “moderate” laws. That might include more stringent background checks, a more difficult process to obtain a weapon, gun registration, waiting periods, etc.

Unavoidably these measures will deter law abiding people from obtaining guns and learning how to properly use them. In addition they will fail to prevent people willing to break the law from obtaining weapons if they have sufficient determination which, considering the number of guns in the US, is not required to be all that high. Such “moderate” measures are more likely to impact people with no intention of harming anyone. They also place the State in the position of determining who should or shouldn’t be able to defend themselves.

Who does the State consider “insane?” Who do they consider a “criminal?” How many felonious individuals have been disarmed even though they’ve never committed a violent act in their life? How many violent criminals or psychotic individuals within the ranks of police weren’t disarmed or fired because of who their employers are? There’s no reason to think that the State is qualified to make these distinctions or that the power to do so won’t be abused.

These sorts of “moderate” measures constitute a sort of pre-crime. They are an attempt to identify would be attackers before any violence has occurred. How exactly does one know with any certainty who is going to commit an attack and how many will be unjustly disarmed who never had any intent to attack?

These measures will almost certainly fail to stop a determined attacker and will have the effect of disarming innocent victims of said attacker. A much more efficient means of dealing with mass murderers or terrorists is to be able to stop them in their tracks when they attempt to commit an attack. That requires a well armed populace.

“ASSAULT” RIFLES

One of the prime demands of gun “control” advocates is that “assault” rifles or certain types of magazines or ammunition be banned for private individuals. A painfully stupid front page New York Times editorial about gun control that reads like emotionally based propaganda designed for six year olds wrote,

They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did. But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.

There you have it. We have to DO SOMETHING, we have to wield the State threats of violence to compel the serfs even if it ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. At least those countries are trying? These yahoos can’t be serious!

In a response to the editorial Reason.com wrote an article in which they stated,

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2014, rifles—the entire category of rifles, of which the ones the Times wants to ban at such great cost are but a subset—were used to commit 248 murders. That’s in a country of around 319 million people. That’s around 2 percent of the total number of homicides that year.

Reason also pointed out that there are an estimated 3.5 million “assault” rifles in the US. Given Americans’ penchant for guns it is unlikely that any significant dent could be made in that number regardless of the measures taken by the US government. But even if there were a 100% success rate in removing “assault” rifles that would only stop 2% of homicides assuming, wholly unrealistically, that the black market would not furnish those same weapons from elsewhere or that those homicides wouldn’t be committed anyway with other weapons.

Indeed, as the NYT editorial points out, such laws did nothing to stop massacres in France, England, and Norway. What the strict gun laws did manage to accomplish was disarming the victims.

Gun “control” advocates who want to ban “assault” rifles need to realistically and without relying on emotional pleas explain how that will stop violence, and they also need to explain why agents of the State like police should be categorically regarded as being more trustworthy than private individuals with such weapons (especially when police routinely commit egregious gun violence and get away with it).

TECHNOLOGY

One interesting development more recently are advances in technology which will make gun “control” obsolete.

3D printing is making rapid improvements in the printing of guns. Another initiative is Cody Wilson’s Ghost Gunner which is a CNC mill that comes prepackaged with the ability to automatically complete an 80% lower receiver for an AR-15. Dot onion sites on the deep web are also operating which facilitate anonymous arms sales using digital currencies.

Ridding the world of guns is already completely impractical but technology will eventually ensure that any such measures are utterly impossible.

MY RIGHT TO NOT BE SURROUNDED BY GUNS

Gun “control” advocates sometimes assert that they have a right not to be surrounded by people with guns, or something to that effect. It’s unclear what their theory of rights is.

You have a right to not be killed and you also have a right to defend yourself. Carrying a gun by itself does not constitute a crime with a victim. You are not a victim because someone near you has a gun and you don’t have the right to disarm others and prevent them from defending themselves in order to gain a false sense of security.

PACIFISM

I often see gun “control” advocates saying they don’t want a gun because they could never kill someone. While I admire their adherence to Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” policy I don’t see how they can justifiably expect everyone to adopt the same willingness to be a victim. Your pacifism is your own. And of course it’s hardly pacifist to clamor for the State to enforce gun restrictions using threats of gun violence.

THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE

The inability of the State as an institution to provide security is just the beginning of the problem. That inability makes organized crime less risky for non-state actors. Organized crime is when two or more people collaborate to harm persons or property. Organized crime as a business revolves around profiting from doing that which is prohibited by law.

I would distinguish between two types of prohibition: natural prohibition and artificial prohibition. The former is prohibition of crimes for which there is a clearly identifiable victim whereas the latter is prohibition of actions which don’t result in any victim.

Inevitably black markets will arise around both types. Assassins, blackmailers, extortionists, saboteurs, terrorists, etc., can provide their services just like gun runners, drug dealers, pimps, etc. The State makes the former easier to get away with and completely enables the latter as such prohibition wouldn’t exist in the first place without the State.

But it’s more than just sheer lack of incentives that exacerbate these problems. Being that the State monopolizes criminal law and justice it is not only in a position to protect its own members from criminal liability it can also sell those privileges to organized crime through bribery and corruption. The State and organized crime form a symbiotic relationship. Organized crime gets protection and State agents get paid off. They also gain access to black markets.

In particular artificial prohibition creates unnecessary black markets where criminal elements take over. The reason for this is when something is prohibited like guns or drugs those who attempt to provide them anyway cannot use normal avenues of dispute resolution to deal with business partners or competitors. Those criminal organizations which are both ruthless and cunning will win out. Intimidation and violence become the methods of enforcing territories to maintain customers.

The goods that are being sold could just as easily be provided in white markets with access to the law and civil courts. There is nothing inherently violent about producing or distributing guns or drugs. It’s prohibition that drives markets into the hands of professional criminals.

At a very low level you have street gangs which have the distribution and sale of drugs as one of their prime revenue generators. Gangs are reportedly responsible for 48 percent of violent crime nationwide and up to 90% in some jurisdictions. Those touting gun crime statistics should be aware that many of those homicides result from unnecessary black markets artificially created by the State. Disarming law abiding people who are unaffiliated with criminal gangs will not stop that violence (Chicago serves as a classic example).

Beyond local distribution and sale by street gangs there’s also producers, traffickers, and higher level distributors. Like the low level street gangs they are in constant conflict over territories and business disputes. Intelligence gathering, spying, assassination, sabotage, intimidation, and other evils become the methods of capturing the biggest possible market share.

One of the most useful competitive advantages to have in this environment is collusion with the State. That lowers the risk of committing crimes for a syndicate and also allows them to use State resources to target competitors which the State can do under the auspices of “fighting the War on Drugs.” It also expands the extent to which crime networks can systematically suppress evidence related to their activities.

I would argue that crime networks could never achieve the level sophistication and organization without State control of criminal law and justice markets. The size and scope of organized crime would simply be impossible without State protection and collusion. Just how much violence and mayhem results from this?

Undoubtedly natural prohibition is necessary and would happen without States since victims or their families would have the opportunity to pursue monetary restitution and thus would have the incentive to pursue justice. But natural prohibition enforced by a State is unworkable due to lack of incentives as well as the temptation of State agents to simply shield themselves from any criminal liability. Organized criminal networks can thrive in this environment and their power can be magnified by State collusion.

And when you add on top of that artificial prohibition you end up with criminal networks that are in one way or another involved in all of the above. Drug producers and traffickers know assassins and saboteurs who know gun runners who know politicians and intelligence operatives. What emerges is a multi-tentacled beast, an organism of global proportions whose many appendages are not necessarily in contact with one another.

I think this can adequately explain why States, especially empires, become so incredibly corrupt and evil. The State at its core hijacks criminal law and justice in a society and in doing so sets off a chain of events which will ultimately devolve into marauding and unaccountable criminal networks, mass carnage, war, and all around lawlessness. All it takes is time for the structure of production and network connections to become thoroughly established.

In our present situation the War on Drugs has paved the way for the War on Terror. And where do we find ourselves now? Mired in drug and terrorism related violence. The State can’t stop it because the highest levels of government have been compromised by the symbiotic relationship and the insatiable lust for power and domination. Global drug and terror networks have infiltrated and are infiltrated by State intelligence agencies.

Trying to ban certain guns or all guns will only create yet another black market trade, especially in the US where people really like their guns, and the criminal networks who will take over (as opposed to legal gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellers) will undoubtedly be involved in committing violence and attempting to further corrupt elements of the State in order to gain protection.

THE PLANK IN YOUR OWN EYE

Even the staunchest gun control advocate has to be able to appreciate the absurdity of the US government of all institutions lecturing others on what guns they should or shouldn’t have. The USG invades foreign countries, violates airspace, drone strikes innocent people, bombs hospitals and wedding parties, not to mention it happens to be the largest arms dealer on the planet providing billions of dollars in military grade weapons systems to brutal dictatorships like Saudia Arabia which has been bombing civilians in Yemen and which beheads more people than ISIS.

Let’s also recall that at home the police in the US kill well over a thousand people a year (one every 8 hours on average). There’s also an estimated 50,000 – 80,000 SWAT raids per year, the vast majority of which are carried out to service narcotics warrants that could result in civil asset forfeiture. All of this is greatly enhanced by the Pentagon’s 1033 program which transfers military equipment to local police such as grenade launchers, aircraft, watercraft, and armored vehicles.

These are supposed to be the individuals who are going to enforce the gun laws to keep us safe? Clearly both at home and abroad the various US States (whether federal, state, or local) are either directly or indirectly responsible for vastly greater gun fueled mayhem than any group of private individuals could ever dream of. As discussed above the reason for this is not a mystery: the State can turn its crimes into legal actions with a wave of its magic wand and externalize the cost of its crusades through taxation and its control over money and banking.

Before the USG tries to tell other people what guns they shouldn’t have perhaps they should get busy arresting and prosecuting the war criminals and terrorists within their own ranks.

THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE IN SOCIETY

I submit that the prime factor in determining the level of violence in society is the ability of that society to deter violence, defend against it, and sanction the offender afterwards. As I’ve argued the State is wholly incapable of achieving these aims and is in fact grossly counterproductive toward them. I would like to further elaborate.

First and foremost it’s important to be able to deter violent crime. One way to do this is private firearm ownership.  It’s estimated that Americans use firearms almost 7,000 times per day in one way or another, whether that be simply brandishing a gun, pointing it, or firing it, 2.5 million times per year in self-defense or defense of a third party. Criminals are not worried about police they are worried about potentially armed victims.

In addition to that one study done in the 90s estimated that Americans spent $300 billion annually on private security efforts such as personnel, alarm systems, surveillance systems, locks on doors, bulletproof glass, bars on windows, etc. Also, in the 1970s the ratio of private security personnel to public police was about one to one, whereas now it’s somewhere between two and three to one (pg 88). The explosion of the private security industry and the growing prevalence of alarm and surveillance technology provides significant deterrence and helps explain the trend noted at the beginning of the article showing the consistently decreasing gun violence as private gun ownership has increased.

Equally important as deterrence is the ability of victims to defend themselves should something happen. Private firearm ownership allows people to do just that. But there’s also many other options: knives, mace, martial arts, etc. For those criminals with guns however we should allow ourselves to be evenly matched (and that includes “assault” rifles).

Lastly there is the sanctioning of the offender which is typically considered to be the providence of the State. Due to the lack of incentives there is abysmal failure here as well.

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, in 2012 44.2% of violent crimes were reported to police. The study states that police reporting can “come from the victim, a third party (including witnesses, other victims, household members, or other officials, such as school officials or workplace managers), or police being at the scene of the incident.” Of those, according to the FBI, in 2012 46.8% were cleared by arrest, or by “exceptional means.”  That means almost 80% of violent crimes did not lead to an arrest and the placing of the alleged perpetrator before a prosecutor.

The BJS report states that many victims do not report violent crimes because they believe the police can’t or won’t do anything. Victims also know that in the case that something was done they’d have to spend precious money and time dealing with a court process dominated by lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who will more or less ignore the desires and plight of the victim. At the end of it all it’s highly unlikely that the victim can expect any monetary restitution. It’s simply not worth it for most victims to try to obtain justice.

This generates an atmosphere of lawlessness and emboldens criminals. I would argue that the most crucial element in any justice system is maximizing the extent to which victims report crimes. Otherwise there is an immediate breakdown in dealing with crime. There is no other way to more efficiently increase victim reporting rates than by fully legalizing restitution as that provides a monetary incentive to pursue justice. Not surprisingly the highest category of reporting for crimes is vehicle theft (78.6% in 2012) arguably because the victim can expect an insurance payout.

A country which has retained some tradition of restitution is Japan. Gun “control” advocates like to point to Japan as a shining example of the success of harsh gun restrictions. Once again they compare apples to oranges and ignore important alternative factors.

In Japanese culture, criminals are expected to admit guilt and seek to make their victims whole again. Japan has largely retained the right of the victim to make arrangements with the offender outside of the State system of law and justice so that the victim can be compensated.

The offender then pleads with the victim to write a letter to the prosecutor or judge suggesting leniency on the part of the government. Additionally, the victim oftentimes plays an active role in decisions regarding charges, prosecution, and sentencing. Economist, historian, and Professor of Law Bruce Benson explains,

The vast majority of the cases that are prosecuted are settled in a summary procedure based on documented evidence, for which the maximum public penalty (on top of the privately negotiated restitution) is a fine. For example, in 1983, 85.8 percent of the adult criminal cases in Japan that were prosecuted were through summary procedures while only 5.1 percent involved ordinary criminal trials. (pg 86-88)

Such proceedings are not allowed for more serious crimes, such as murder, however. The restitution based system, and the focus on the victim rather than punishing the offender, arguably contributes to the fact that Japan has substantially lower crime rates in practically every category than any other industrialized nation. Criminals in Japan are also much less likely to become recidivists because the vast majority show repentance and admit responsibility.

The article arguing the “success” of Japanese gun policies states,

It’s true that in Japan, a large percentage of firearm homicides are related to the Yakuza crime syndicates.

Of course, the State created artificial black market gives rise to a criminal network with State protection which is then responsible for much of the gun violence in Japan. Whereas restitution and private arbitration bring peace the State creates fertile ground for aberrant violent elements within Japanese society.

I think that the extent to which law (the facts pertaining to dispute resolution) and justice (activities aimed at dispute resolution) are handled privately is the extent to which there will be order in a society. The State “monopolizes” criminal law and justice in the sense that it is granted de jure and de facto privileges over their provision, but the State cannot stop private law and justice from happening in its midst and outside of its knowledge. In fact, while there’s no real ability to gather evidence on this, I would wager that a significant portion of dispute resolution in the world already happens outside of the purview of the State. Private markets for law and justice typically utilize the same basic elements. Benson outlines them in his Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State:

1. Predominant concern for individual rights and private property

2. Reciprocal arrangements for protection and support in a dispute

3. Standard adjudicative procedures established to avoid violent dispute resolution

4. All offenses treated as torts with restitution payments to the victim

5. The threat of social ostracism used to enforce laws

6. An evolutionary process of developing customs and norms

Insofar as these methods are adopted voluntary interaction will be maximized. They are what typically arise in polycentric systems of law as well as those which occur outside the State. In my opinion the inescapable conclusion is that it is the pre-existing desire for law and order combined with the extent to which private law and justice already exist that we have any order at all in the world despite the chaos machines known as States whose evil machinations have somehow been held at bay and prevented from enveloping all of human life in lawlessness and disarray.

CONCLUSIONS

I feel that I have barely even scratched the tip of the iceberg. I have not even touched on items like the prison-industrial complex or how State cartelized pharmaceutical markets have led to the prevalence of psychotropic drug use (which factors into some of these mass shootings). The existence of States fosters violence and mayhem in so many ways that it would require an entire library to detail it all. As long as there are States the world will not know peace.

The US has the highest per capita gun ownership rate in the world and yet is ranked 91st in intentional homicides. Somehow the hundreds of millions of guns including millions of “assault rifles” hasn’t led to the total breakdown of society. Guns, if anything, deter violence and place a downward pressure on crime rates.

Gun “control” advocates just need to explain in great detail how guns cause violence and how restrictions on private gun ownership lower violence. Simply listing off statistics to elicit an emotional knee jerk response is not a scientific approach. They need to establish causal connections in order to make their argument and, in my opinion, they have utterly failed to do so.

I believe the biggest steps to take towards lowering violence levels in the US would be (1) removing all gun laws and restrictions, (2) eliminating any State enforced “gun-free” zones, (3) legalizing the production, distribution, and sale of all drugs, and (4) fully legalizing restitution and recognizing the rights of the victim.

Unfortunately I highly doubt this is a likely course of action.