Skip to main content

More Guns or No Guns, a thought experiment...

In the wake of the unfortunate events in Newtown, Connecticut, a gun massacre of mostly babies by a demented young man, much discussion has been had about the prevalence of guns in the United States. Among the arguments I've heard most often in the debate is that having more guns would make us safer because people would be able to defend themselves against attempts at violence against them. However, this argument is flawed and can be demonstrated as so with a simple thought experiment without any need to appeal to statistics on gun violence on the matter. The thought experiment proceeds as thus:

Scenario 1:

 If by fiat  I can snap my fingers and all guns would disappear, the number of those killed by guns would go to zero, indisputably. The rate of those killed by other means at all relative to guns would go DOWN.

Why? Because the guns no longer exist, those in anger situations would either find other means to exact vengeance if they really mean it OR they simply will cool down and not enact any vengeance at all. Thus potential killings that would happen in the heat of anger simply would not happen at all. Also, all the accidental gun finding their parents guns would not be possible, no accidental people shooting themselves. No intentional people shooting themselves. There would NOT be a 1:1 conversion from deaths by gun over to "death by other means", there would *always be* fewer total deaths as a result NOT more. ALWAYS.

Scenario 2:

If however I did the reverse, I snapped my fingers and every single person had a gun. The rate of murders would go UP.

Why? Because the random events that happen to all gun owners would increase relative to the available population. You'd have all of a sudden a bunch more people who shot themselves in the groin, or kids that found their parents guns and shot their friends by accident or other accidents. You'd have more self murder via suicides.  You'd also have more murders from people who get angry and use their personal gun to enact they would otherwise not have if I hadn't gifted to them with a snap of my fingers. Sure, it means they'd have to get the drop on who ever they are angry at (since they'd have a gun) but that's the problem...guns make it easy to go from anger to some one being dead. The opportunity cost for using them once they are had in such situations is lower simply because they are there will always be an increase here. ALWAYS.

Try as I might I can't find a flaw in the absolute rates argument as I'll call it above, it clearly demonstrates that  when comparing the two scenarios that the "all guns" scenario is ALWAYS worse in terms of deaths caused (by any means) so that being the case how can any one rationalize enacting it? I've found often the arguments are couched in terms of a desire to protect themselves against imagined evils (as was the case unfortunately for Adam Lanza's mother who trained him in shooting guns). This of course is a personal fear that stems from a paranoia over being the potential victim of violence but it neglects the fact that the "right" they claim to carry a gun to protect themselves comes necessarily at the possibility that a child kills himself with his fathers gun by accident or that a deranged teen gets a gun and kills dozens of babies while they are at school. Those are costs that are not worth any individuals "right" in my view...and to those that still uphold that right I say they also have the blood of the innocent on their hands for supporting it.


Popular posts from this blog

On the idea of "world wide mush" resulting from "open" development models

A recent article posted in the Wall Street Journal posits that the collectivization of various types of goods or services created by the internet is long term a damaging trend for human societies.

I think that the author misses truths that have been in place that show that collectivization is not a process that started with the internet but has been with us since we started inventing things.

It seems that Mr. Lanier is not properly defining the contexts under which different problems can benefit or suffer from collectivization. He speaks in general terms of the loss of the potential for creators to extract profit from their work but misses that this is and was true of human civilization since we first picked up a rock to use as a crude hammer. New things make old things obsolete and people MUST adapt to what is displaced (be it a former human performance of that task or use of an older product) so as to main…

Highly targeted Cpg vaccine immunotherapy for a range of cancer


This will surely go down as a seminal advance in cancer therapy. It reads like magic:

So this new approach looks for the specific proteins that are associated with a given tumors resistance to attack by the body's T cells, it then adjusts those T cells to be hyper sensitive to the specific oncogenic proteins targeted. These cells become essentially The Terminator​ T cells in the specific tumor AND have the multiplied effect of traveling along the immune pathway of spreading that the cancer many have metastasized. This is huge squared because it means you can essentially use targeting one tumor to identify and eliminate distal tumors that you many not even realize exist.

This allows the therapy for treating cancer to, for the first time; end the "wack a mole" problem that has frustrated traditional shot gun methods of treatment involving radiation and chemotherapy ...which by their nature unfortunately damage parts of the body that are not cancer laden but …

Engineers versus Programmers

I have found as more non formally trained people enter the coding space, the quality of code that results varies in an interesting way.

The formalities of learning to code in a structured course at University involve often strong focus on "correctness" and efficiency in the form of big O representations for the algorithms created.

Much less focus tends to be placed on what I'll call practical programming, which is the type of code that engineers (note I didn't use "programmers" on purpose) must learn to write.

Programmers are what Universities create, students that can take a defined development environment and within in write an algorithm for computing some sequence or traversing a tree or encoding and decoding a string. Efficiency and invariant rules are guiding development missions. Execution time for creating the solution is often a week or more depending on the professor and their style of teaching code and giving out problems. This type of coding is devo…