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Free Minds & Free Markets

Tighter Gun Laws Will Leave Libertarians Better-Armed Than Everybody Else

In a politically polarized America, gun control is destined to be obeyed primarily by its advocates.

Has it occurred to anybody that when restrictive laws are imposed, they're likely to have the greatest impact on the people most willing to obey them?

The past week saw yet another invocation by the usual suspects of the supposed need for tighter gun controls. This time, we had a special emphasis from lawmakers on such "innovations" as banning people convicted of domestic abuse from owning firearms—which is to say, restrictions that are already on the books and have been in place for years, but which haven't had the wished-for effect. Honestly, so many of gun-controllers' preferred laws have been implemented that they can't be expected to know that their dreams have already come true. But laws aren't magic spells that ward off evil; they're threats of consequences against violators, enforced by imperfect and often incompetent people, and noted or ignored by frequently resistant targets.

Gun controls then, like other restrictions and prohibitions, have their biggest effect on those who agree with them and on the unlucky few scofflaws caught by the powers-that-be, and are otherwise mostly honored in the breach. As a result, gun laws intended to reduce the availability of firearms are likely to leave those who most vigorously disagree with them disproportionately well-armed relative to the rest of society. That raises some interesting prospects in a country as politically polarized and factionalized as the United States.

That gun restrictions are widely disobeyed is a well-documented fact. I've written before that Connecticut's recent "assault weapons" registration law achieved an underwhelming 15 percent compliance rate, and New York's similar requirement resulted in 5 percent compliance. When California imposed restrictions on such weapons in 1990, at the end of the registration period "only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in private hands in the state have been registered," The New York Times reported. When New Jersey went a step further that same year and banned the sale and possession of "assault weapons," disobedience was so widespread that the Times concluded, "More than a year after New Jersey imposed the toughest assault-weapons law in the country, the law is proving difficult if not impossible to enforce." That's in states with comparatively strong public support for restrictions on gun ownership.

Across the Atlantic, despite varying but generally tight laws on gun ownership, "Contrary to widely-accepted national myths, public gun ownership is commonplace in most European states," according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey. How can that be? "Public officials readily admit that unlicensed owners and unregistered guns greatly outnumber legal ones," possibly because of "a pervasive culture of non-cooperation with public authorities" in many places.

Just a thought, but existing examples of defiance of gun laws in the United States might be an indication that "a pervasive culture of non-cooperation with public authorities" is exactly what we should expect in response to any future successes gun controllers might achieve legislation-wise.

And restrictions don't affect everybody the same way. Some people embrace them, while others reject them. And no issue is as politically divisive as the gun debate.

In the United States, gun ownership and opinions on gun laws tend to divide rather starkly along tribal political lines. In last year's presidential election, gun-owning households voted overwhelmingly for Trump, while non-gun households went for Clinton. When polled, Republicans tend to be much more supportive of concealed carry, and Democrats much more supportive of restrictions, even in polling conducted after highly publicized and emotionally wrenching shootings. Unsurprisingly, surveys find that Republicans are more than twice as likely to own firearms as Democrats (49 percent vs. 22 percent), and conservatives almost twice as likely as liberals to own guns (41 percent vs. 23 percent). Less data is available for libertarians, but as you might expect the available results put us among the most overwhelmingly supportive political factions for the right to bear arms, and the most opposed to restrictions—to the point that the Public Religion Research Institute uses such opposition as part of its definition of libertarianism (along with opposition to domestic spying, support for noninterventionism overseas, low-tax and free-market views, advocacy for marijuana and pornography legalization, and more). As Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight puts it, "The U.S. Has Never Been So Polarized on Guns."

That has strong implications for a country in which political factions now view each other with undisguised contempt. "Democratic and Republican voters... despise each other, and to a degree that political scientists and pollsters say has gotten significantly worse over the last 50 years," fret Emily Badger and Niraj Chokshi at the New York Times. "Democrats and Republicans hate each other more than they hate the Russians," marvels Reihan Salam at Slate. "More than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them 'afraid,' while 49 percent of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party," according to Pew Research.

So, in an America that has an established history of widely defied firearms restrictions, how likely is it that people will voluntarily comply with laws that are intended to disarm them, and that are primarily sponsored by politicians they fear and despise?

It's worth noting here that, of all the political factions in the country, libertarians would seem to be the most naturally disinclined to knuckle under to gun laws—or any others, for that matter. In examining the moral foundations of the world views of conservatives, liberals, and libertarians, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues found that the first two groups view liberty as a means to an end. By contrast, "libertarians may not see liberty as a means, but rather as an end, in and of itself." Libertarians also tend to be dispassionate—except when faced with constraints on the liberty they hold as the highest moral value. "The only emotional reaction on which libertarians were not lowest was reactance—the angry reaction to infringements upon one's autonomy—for which libertarians scored higher than both liberals and conservatives."

Notably, it's not unusual in libertarian circles to call for disobedience in response to authoritarian laws. Charles Murray wrote an entire book to that effect, saying, "I want to put sugar in the government's gas tank." Philosopher Jason Brennan explicitly endorses civil disobedience as well as refusing to submit to punishment for defiance. Cody Wilson famously developed the first 3D-printed pistol and now sells the Ghost Gunner CNC mill—sort of an arsenal in a box—with the specific goal of making gun laws unenforceable. And I've explained why I'm passing disdain for the law on to the next generation, arguing that "making the world freer is always right, especially when the law is wrong."

It's not a huge step to assume that people who experience an "angry reaction to infringements upon one's autonomy" and who frequently endorse breaking the law aren't going to offer up a high compliance rate with policies that restrict liberty and that, polling shows, they oppose in large numbers. Would compliance be even lower among libertarians than it has already been in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere among the general population of gun owners? We can't know for sure, but if any group is poised to take that as a challenge, it's libertarians.

It should go without saying that a regime of restrictive laws that ensnare only the willing and the unlucky and are otherwise widely ignored is a less than ideal situation. It sets the stage for confrontation and, like Prohibition and the War on Drugs before it, could potentially fuel forms of illegality besides civil disobedience. But there's little room for doubt that millions of Americans will continue to exercise their liberty no matter what the law says. That will leave supporters of gun controls increasingly disarmed relative to their opponents in a politically factionalized country, with libertarians probably sitting on the biggest armories.

Gun control advocates might want to give this whole matter a little more thought.

Photo Credit: Brent Danley/flickr

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  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I know many people who have both backhoes and guns, plenty of experience with both, and also experience in hiding income, plants, and personal business from the government.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    WOLVERINES!

  • jogibew||

    I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

    This is what I do... www.netcash10.com

  • ThomasD||

    Yeah, but where do you stash your arsenal?

    Cosmoline, or no cosmoline?

  • Phos||

    I've heard fake sewer cleanouts might be a thing. Which pvc screw off top is the poop and which the horde?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "That will leave supporters of gun controls increasingly disarmed relative to their opponents in a politically factionalized country, with libertarians probably sitting on the biggest armories."

    THE REVOLUTION IS IN OUR HANDS

  • Mitsima||

    You do know that, historically, the supporters of gun control conveniently exclude themselves from said policies.

    Mad Burro and His Antifa Sturmabteilung

  • Vernon Depner||

    Yes, let's have the actors and politicians who advocate disarmament lead the way by taking away the firearms of their bodyguards and gatekeepers.

  • Eman||

    Those are licensed bodyguards, bro.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I was pointing out the ridiculousness of J.D.'s not-so-subtle implication that gun controllers should be uncomfortable being disarmed while living adjacent to armed libertarians. They already are disarmed, and whatever that means in regards to their safety from crime or terrorism, neither conservative nor libertarian poses any martial threat to them now, nor would we in the event of full-scale Prohibition; only the government agents so unfortunate as to be deployed into the hill country would face that. And if pro-gunners *were* to pose a threat to anti-gunner *civilian* populations, that would be the end of any libertarian support for such terrorists. And we *are* discussing anti-gun *civilians*, because none of these gun control advocates are planning to disarm their loyal 3-letter-agencies or national guardsmen- at least, not until such a time as the "pro-gun resistance" is exterminated (so, never).

  • Phos||

    If the proposed gun control does not apply to government first- then you know it is just statism.

    Any gun or weapon owned by any government agency or department for use inside the United States, can be owned legally by any citizen or legal resident of the United States. A list of these weapons will be published each year on USAguns.gov. This supersedes any state or local laws. Violation by this law by any legislative, executive or judicial action will be civilly liable for $10,000 per day per person or $50,000 per day for any imprisonment over 12 hours.

    Government officials who violate this law will be unable to hold any future government or government lobbying job, and stripped of any honors (titles etc).

    Additionally every elected official who voted for the law, measure, etc, or elected or other government official, or judge, who gave an order in violation of the law will be criminally liable for at least 6 months jail time without probation.

    Imprisonment or confiscation of weapons for over 72 hours will be criminally liable for at least 1 year per week of imprisonment or confiscation.

  • Mitsima||

    Up to this very point I eschewed all federal legislation.

  • Hello Clarice||

    This story puts me in a pretty chipper mood. I'm a big fan of any acts of non-compliance with stupid laws and ideas. Kinda makes gun-control seem like a nuisance rather than the end of a freedom now.

    Once you go Black-Market, you never go back, yo.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    So much for THE RULE OF LAW

  • Vernon Depner||

    Lex iniusta non est lex

  • Flaco||

    Chipper: adjective - Marked by or being in sprightly good humor and health.

  • CE||

    What kind of chipper?

  • zerofoo||

    Non-compliance with unjust law is a good start, but eventually the unjust laws must be overturned.

    Sure, you could have a nation of felons - but that just gives government an excuse to jail anyone at any time for any reason.

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    The only reasonable fight against injustice is to insult family, friends, and neighbors who support injustice. I had good luck with this at our municipal meetings. I passed out insulting flyers. I gave insulting orations before meetings started. This person-to-person confrontation causes more resistance than some Libertarian who writes an article.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "a nation of felons:" pretty much the premise of 1984.

  • Shirley Knott||

    and Australia

  • Rhywun||

    And Nazi Germany and the USSR and East Germany and ...

  • Mitsima||

    The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. -Ayn Rand, ~1957
  • Wizard4169||

    +1 Dr. Floyd Ferris

    "We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them...you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That gun restrictions are widely disobeyed is a well-documented fact.
    These gun control laws are unconstitutional, so why would Americans follow them?

    It defeats the whole purpose of a Bill of Rights, if the same government employees who get their paychecks from the same treasury can create gun grabbing laws, deem gun control laws "constitutional", and kill constitutionally armed Americans.

  • Zeb||

    These gun control laws are unconstitutional, so why would Americans follow them?

    Fear of punishment?

    Whether or not people follow particular laws has little to do with constitutionality (note that the same phenomenon happens in Europe where gun restrictions are constitutional). It has to do with whether a person was inclined to follow a particular law in any case, whether the consequences and likelihood for getting caught are tolerable risk, and sometimes a general sense of "respect for the law".

  • Rhywun||

    There is also nearly a century of anti-gun propaganda in blue areas.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It does have to with constitutionality because most people don't really understand what the constitution says or doesn't say and that relationship to laws coming from states and Congress.

    You are probably right about fear of punishment because it is scary to stand up for your constitutional rights and then be arrested for that.

    The "respect for the law" is good since rule of law is better than rule of man, but the Constitution is the highest law in this land and the power for Congress to make laws comes from the Constitution. Laws that violate the specific limitations described in the Constitution are not laws. The sooner Americans pay attention to this distinction and enforce the People's will on the government, the better.

  • Zeb||

    You are probably right about fear of punishment because it is scary to stand up for your constitutional rights and then be arrested for that.

    It's more than that. I think you put a bit too much into the constitution. The Constitution is great as far as constitutions go. But it isn't a purely libertarian document and there are plenty of terrible laws that are constitutional. Most state laws, for instance, are constitutional (unless you favor a more radical interpretation of the 14th amendment, which I do).

    Drug laws are the obvious easy example. State drug laws are almost certainly constitutional. Yet a very large number of people are happy to ignore them.

    rule of law is better than rule of man

    I understand why people say this, but I really think it's a lot of bullshit. There is only rule of man. Laws are just words that men wrote down and that men decide how to interpret and act on. People, especially politicians, are going to do what they can get away with. The law can't rule, it has no agency. You can only maintain the illusion of rule of law if most laws are things that most people would obey whether or not there was a law.

  • BYODB||


    I understand why people say this, but I really think it's a lot of bullshit. There is only rule of man. Laws are just words that men wrote down and that men decide how to interpret and act on. People, especially politicians, are going to do what they can get away with.

    You're not wrong, but at the same time if one takes it as a given that everything is simply the rule of man it makes it rather difficult to argue against a God Emperor handing down orders to the proles.

    It makes a difference if you actually believe in the 'Rule of Law', and there are certain underpinning requirements for such a thing to survive. One of them being that one would need to know what the actual law is which is functionally impossible today by design.

    It's almost certainly the end result of 250 or so years of additive law, with few subtractions, but the end result is an environment when the rule of man can flourish through selective enforcement and a labyrinth of codified law.

    Our current system is far from the rule of law, but that isn't a reason to abandon it as a principle.

  • marshaul||

    "Rule of law" is also a convenient excuse for the execution of gross immorality under color of law.

    I'm more interested in "rule of right". Laws in conflict with right are worth less than the toilet paper they're written on.

  • Jerryskids||

    It seems strange to see the same people who claim Trump is literally Hitler simultaneously demanding that the government he heads be given more power. I think that's pretty good evidence that there's no rational thought going on here, there's some sort of brain-washed cult thought process at work in these statist skulls.

  • Dinerboy||

    Awww, look at you, trying to find consistency in statists' arguments. Bless your heart!!

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Of course progs want power, and they believe they will impeach Trump any day now.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The lefties think they are in a position to boss around the Republicans eventhough Republicans control the House, Senate, and presidency.

  • ||

    They've got control of the mainstream media, so that gives them hope.

    Unfortunately, the mainstream media doesn't have the power it once had.

  • Rhywun||

    Good thing they control higher education, then.

  • Ron||

    and so far the left has controlled the republicans

  • Mitsima||

    Well, Republicans have no ideological anchor (and, of course, neither do the Democrats, but that is to their favor), so who pushes around whom is a matter of who can throw the biggest, longest, most covered, most irrational tantrum until they get their desired legislation. Winner: Democrats

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    And the tantrum has to have an emotional baggage claim attached.

  • <Unpastable>||

    It should be pretty clear at this point that Trump doesn't head shit.

    The formula is set. When a non-leftist is president, the entrenched leftists within the bureaucracy, deep state, and Obama-packed judiciary stymie anything he or she tries to do or avoid doing. The power can only be used by leftist presidents.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Yep. Not to mention the scum in the JournoList.

    Heck, even the RINOs, who make up probably about a quarter of the republicans in congress (but control most of the positions and levers of power there) don't support his agenda at all.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    RINOs have been the biggest obstacle to Trump's campaign promises becoming a reality.

    RINOs are blocking straight repeal of ObamaCare.
    RINOs are blocking serious tax reform.
    RINOs are blocking serious immigration and illegal deportation implementation. Plus, building the border wall.

  • Mitsima||

    Isn't that last point RINO? You know, free market, freedom of association, life, liberty, etc. etc.

  • ||

    I'm guessing the Left hopes/believes Trump will be removed from office, the Pence presidency will be ineffective/neutered, and in 2020, a Democrat will be elected to office and the Republicans will be reduced to a permanent minority party in perpetuity.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think they think this too. The cannot win more Senate seats, so they try and get a Republican bumped out of winning the election.

    Lefties live in such a fantasy world that they think Trump won't win re-election. That Trump won't be able to nominate replacements for Ruth Ginsburg when she croaks or when Kennedy croaks. That ObamaCare will survive being repealed.

    Lefties don't even realize that almost 2/3 of the states have Republican controlled Legislatures, making an Article 5 Constitution Convention possible. Then those constitutional amendments only need 38 of 50 state Legislatures to be ratified.

  • Fat Hubie||

    Give up your guns and you will be one stolen election away from statist rule.

  • CE||

    It's signaling all the way down.

  • Dinerboy||

    "Gun control advocates might want to give this whole matter a little more thought"

    *More* thought? In my experience, most gun control advocates go by *feelz* far more than rational thought.

  • Necron 99||

    In examining the moral foundations of the world views of conservatives, liberals, and libertarians, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues found that the first two groups [conservatives and liberals] view liberty as a means to an end. By contrast, "libertarians may not see liberty as a means, but rather as an end, in and of itself."

    Wait, what? What ends are the conservatives and liberals trying to achieve through liberty? I've only ever seen liberty as an end, I don't know what ends could be achieved via liberty beyond maximum liberty. Statists are somehow using liberty to create a police state?

  • Zeb||

    I think he is saying they are consequentialists. TO the extent they believe in liberty as a good thing, it is because of the positive outcomes it promotes.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberty is good when it results in things that they like, and it's bad when it results in things that they do not like.

  • Jerryskids||

    They both want humans to have the liberty to do good things, not the liberty to do bad things. They just disagree on what things are good and which things are bad. It's why, for all their talk about the evils of Big Government, government never gets any smaller when the GOP is in charge. It's not that Big Government in and of itself is evil, it's what the Dems propose to do with Big Government that's evil. The GOP wants to use the power of Big Government to do good things, don't you see.

  • Rhywun||

    Like "the liberty to receive free abortions" or "the liberty to police the bedroom".

    I.e. nothing to do with actual liberty.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Haidt is kind of stupid here. There are plenty of consequentialist libertarians, and the libertarian argument is very often presented in consequentialist terms.

    As for conservatives and leftists, liberty isn't their top value, so of course they see it as a means to an end.

  • John||

    You are absolutely right. Libertarians claim liberty is the primary or in some cases only value for society but as you point out, there are plenty of consequentialist libertarians. Conservatives value liberty but at least when they have integrity and are not just too dim-witted and unprincipled to be libertarians, have other competing values. Progressives do not value liberty at all, despite their claims to the contrary.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Ha ha! John called you guys a bunch of unprincipled dimwits.

  • John||

    No I called conservatives that.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    Conservatives value liberty but at least when they have integrity and are not just too dim-witted and unprincipled to be libertarians

    Come on now, you don't really believe this do you? Conservatives support the freedom of peoples to move and interact freely across borders? Conservatives support the freedom to do what you wish with your own body, be it prostitution, taking drugs, etc? Conservatives support the freedom to marry whomever you want?

  • Curt||

    you missed the words, "have other competing values".

    We're certainly free to be disgusted by the prioritization of those other values. I'm actually curious how John sees that Progressives don't value liberty at all; how he differentiates that from the conservatives and their competing values.

  • John||

    Progressives don't value liberty at all because they never support anything, liberty included for its own sake. Progressive support things only insofar as doing so is necessary to advance the Progressive cause. Liberty to Progressives is just a means to an end and not an end in itself.

    Conservatives, in contrast, do see liberty as an end in itself. And can be persuaded by the argument "this is right because it increases liberty", just like any libertarian will. The difference is that conservatives, unlike libertarians do not see such arguments as definitive in every case. So for example, a conservative will say that while legalizing drugs may advance liberty, the harms to security and common standards of behavior that results from legalizing drugs outweighs the increase in freedom that comes with it. Libertarians, if they are honest, should say that since Liberty is the only proper value to be protected by the government, those harms no matter what they are can never outweigh it. It is not that conservatives don't value liberty or don't see liberty as a good in itself. It is that they don't see liberty as the paramount good such that no other values can be considered in comparison to it.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    John, I think that you could make the counterargument that Progressives feel the same way. They value fiscal liberty so long as it doesn't create classes of society, and therefore they don't really value liberty at all.

    In reality, both groups in American politics (be it Conservative or Liberal) fall pretty highly on the authoritarian scale in most multi-dimensional political spectra that I've seen analyzed, be it Nolan, Politcal Compass, or whatever. In practice neither is really for liberty, regardless of how you might tend to convey their motives (which is heavily influenced by your own political bias by the way).

  • John||

    If you think even the worst conservative falls highly on the authoritarian scale, you are operating on a different scale than I am. I am not sure even the worst Progs in this country would get particularly high when compared to countries in Europe or real authoritarian countries like China or Russia. Get back to me when the evil Conservatives are creating a class of political prisoners and selling the organs for money or imprisoning political opponents.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    "Pretty high" is relative of course. If the bogey is to be better than the USSR or Mao's China, then I guess I would agree. I'll grant you that maybe that wasn't the best choice of words. I should have probably mentioned that most scales I have seen American Cons/Libs fall pretty much equivalently on the authoritarian scale.

    It's interesting that you didn't touch on my assertion that your own bias is clouding your judgement of the motives of conservatives vs liberals. In fact it's dangerous (tribal even) for you to try to defend limiting personal liberty based on one's motives, which you can't even pretend to know. However, it's pretty clear that when judged based on actions that neither party really values liberty on the whole much better than the other. They just value different freedoms than the other group. Your assertion that conservatives are more noble in their efforts is laughable, and based on your normal posts at Reason, I would say influenced by your own political bias.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    Fair enough, but I think in many of these cases "other competing values" are pretty much FYTW. The point being that you can't really value liberty but say that you can't be free if it interferes with my feeling good about societal mores or whatever flimsy excuse they use to trample your liberties.

    Conservatives say that they value limited government, unless the jackboots are enforcing their personal Christian social values. That is incompatible with "valuing liberty" by almost every possible definition.

  • John||

    Fair enough, but I think in many of these cases "other competing values" are pretty much FYTW.

    That is because you don't like conservatives. Maybe you shouldn't. Hell I don't know. But that doesn't change the difference. And Libertarians are hardly without sin in this regard. Libertarians love government when it is giving them their pony like gay marriage or forced acceptance of transgenderism. And just like conservatives have a hard time explaining why they are not Libertarians, Libertarians have a hard time explaining why they are not anarchists. Libertarians are very good at explaining what government should not do but often have a very hard time articulating what it should do and why. They just mumble something about the NAP and change the subject in many cases.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    Libertarians love government when it is giving them their pony like gay marriage or forced acceptance of transgenderism.

    The libertarian position on gay marriage AFAIK is that they should be afforded the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. Insomuch as the state awards marriage certificates to heterosexuals who want them, they should award them to homosexuals as well.

    I'm not aware of any libertarians that think transgenderism should be forcibly accepted, especially not me. Should they be treated the same in front of the law? Absolutely. Is it decent to respect their wishes to be called by whatever name or pronoun they choose? Of course, but it shouldn't be forced.

    Modern conservatives shouldn't have a hard time explaining why they aren't libertarians. Their (typical) position on drugs, prostitution, gambling, gay marriage, immigration, etc are incompatible with the libertarian world view.

  • John||

    Libertarians position was that government marriage was bad except when it came to gays and then it was a good that needed to be extended to all. Libertarians totally walked away from their rightful objection to government marriage when it came to gay marriage. Sorry, but you can't claim something is wrong and then turn around and argue for more of it in the name of fairness. You can, but it you can no longer credibily claim it is wrong after you have demanded it be expanded.

    And Libertarians demanded it be expanded knowing that doing so would do real harm to religious liberty. It will be a very long time before Libertarians recover any credibility on religious liberty issues after the gay marriage debacle. When a choice had to be made, they choose to expand government marriage to gays over religious liberty. Sure, they would prefer it not work out that way, but they knew it would and supported gay marriage anyway. And own the results.

    At this point, I wish Libertarians would just stop talking about gay marriage. Talking about it now is more insulting than anything else. And it certainly isn't helpful to those who actually do care about religious liberty.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    How is it an attack on religious liberty. I don't know any real libertarians that would force a priest to perform a gay wedding, if that's what you mean.

    While I don't support govt having any role in marriage beyond enforcing contract laws, if they do issue licenses, they better damn well afford it to everyone equally. What other contract or license would you support govt awarding based on your sexual preference? It's an equal protection issue, it's only religious because Christians think it somehow affects them when others want the same protection. It's not even really a big govt issue insomuch as the law already exists, therfore it should be equally applied to all. Even bad laws should be equal laws.

  • @TheBitcoinimist||

    This is ludicrous.

    You're context dropping and hopping between levels of abstraction in order to serve your point.

    The libertarian position is that gov't should not be involved in marriage (other than, of course, if you actually created a legal and binding contract and one party is in breach, but that's just contract law).

    Here, the most consistent libertarian position is a hope that SCOTUS would strike down all laws or restrictions on marriage, thus getting gov't out of the marriage business entirely. That wasn't going to happen. As a result, some libertarians took the position that if the laws were on the books, they should be applied without restrictions on gender. Others took the position that adding another layer of law to "solve" what other layers of law created was wrong.

    Regardless, you don't get to pick a position that some libertarians took, apply it blindly to all libertarians as if it were the 11th Commandment of libertarianism, indict the entire philosophy, then claim that it has no credibility.

    Some libertarians took the position you dislike because although it may have been the least philosophically accurate libertarian solution, it was one of only a very limited possible outcomes. That isn't a problem with libertarians or the philosophy, it's problem with gov't.

  • BYODB||

    Simply put, Progressivism is Collectivism and thus 'Liberty' is an alien word to that ethos.

    Recall that when people have varied competing values, some of those values will be measured as a negative.

  • CE||

    Conservatives are only libertarian because they revere the past and the USA had a libertarian founding. In other countries they would be Tories.

  • Curt||

    You say that the libertarian argument is very often presented in consequentialist terms. But, do you believe that's because the person making the argument views it that way? Or, is it possible that they are making that argument in terms that their listener/reader (probably either conservative or liberal) can understand and relate to?

    To say that differently, the libertarian may not need the consequentialist argument to believe in their philosophy. But they may still realize that this (liberty as an end not a means) doesn't affect the person they're arguing with. If there are fundamental philosophical differences between libertarians, liberals, and conservatives, the libertarian won't convince the liberal or conservative of something by making an argument that holds no appeal to them.

  • KobolCoffeeLord||

    Libertarian: Liberty for all.

    Liberal: Nah. Then I can't have my peaceful, free utopia.

    Libertarian: Okay. Liberty for all because it empowers women, the poor and minorities.

    Conservative: HOW DARE YOU. Welfare state! Socialist!

    Libertarian: Let's get rid of welfare and have lots of guns instead, for liberty.

    Liberal: HOW DARE YOU. Fascist pig! Uncaring monster!

    You make a very good point. Effective communication requires phrasing things around the intended audience. Effective communication is quite difficult as a one-way road, though. A fight needs one guy. A conversation requires the cooperation of all involved.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberals support personal liberty and oppose economic liberty.

    Conservatives support economic liberty and oppose personal liberty.

    Libertarians support economic and personal liberty.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Indeed, libertarians regard the two as indivisible. For instance you won't have a hell of a lot of personal liberty if the State controls your livelihood.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Liberals Classic Liberals support personal liberty...

  • operagost||

    If "liberals" ever truly supported personal liberty, that ended with the ACA.

  • ThomasD||

    "Liberals support personal liberty..."

    Some, at best. Permission, no matter how libertine, is not liberty.

  • ThomasD||

    I could also add that Conservatives often place serious limits on what they are willing to accept as "economic liberty."

    Libertarianism recognizes that the two are indistinguishable.

  • CE||

    Liberals may support personal liberty, but very few Democrat politicians do.

    Conservatives may support economic liberty, but very few Republican politicians do.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    OK, but plenty of libertarians are 'consequentialists.'

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    From much of what I read, I would dare say a very large portion of them are.

  • R.Dave||

    Curt wrote: "You say that the libertarian argument is very often presented in consequentialist terms. But, do you believe that's because the person making the argument views it that way? Or, is it possible that they are making that argument in terms that their listener/reader (probably either conservative or liberal) can understand and relate to?"

    I think almost everyone, regardless of their ideology, is a consequentialist when push comes to shove, but most never confront that fact because they conveniently also believe that their ideology will produce the most favorable outcomes anyway. There are vanishingly few libertarians who believe that a libertarian society would be a lawless hellscape of Road Warrior-style brutality but are totally cool with that because liberty is all that matters. Rather, most believe that a libertarian society would actually be more just, prosperous, peaceful, and broadly congenial to human comfort and fulfillment than the one we have now. In short, they indulge the pretense that liberty is the only end that matters to them by implicitly assuming that all the other good stuff they care about will just come along with it. Ditto for progressives, conservatives, communists, fascists, and everyone else, of course. No one thinks their ideology is both morally right and fundamentally harmful to human civilization.

  • marshaul||

    R.Dave is exactly right on this one.

  • Phos||

    For most yes. I would add the caveat that socio-paths don't really care about the moral or other humans as long as they are benefited. But the more intelligent are capable of faking it most of the time.

    And the higher intelligent socio-paths will then to congregate where they can wield the reins of power to benefit themselves and avoid consequences.

  • Curt||

    That also caught my attention. From the study:

    "The use of liberty rhetoric may have different psychological origins in different political groups. Autonomy is posited to be a universal basic human psychological need [73], and thus liberals may be attracted to liberty as a means of improving the psychological welfare of individuals. Similarly, social conservatives may be attracted to liberty as a means toward opposing redistributive taxation policies that challenge the status quo, yet still feel comfortable with the lifestyle liberty constraints that tradition and conformity require (see [22] for an explanation of this inconsistency). In contrast, libertarians may not see liberty as a means, but rather as an end, in and of itself, based on their heightened feelings of psychological reactance."

  • Necron 99||

    I appreciate you finding this Curt. So it seems that liberals and conservatives are only using liberty as a blunt object to attack the other side, thus the means (faux liberty) to an end (the other side are assholes). So neither side believes in liberty and freedom, just use it to scare people into voting for them and then doing what they are told or else the other guy will get liberty.

  • Curt||

    Obviously that's just the opinion/conclusion of the study authors, but I think it sounds pretty reasonable. I suppose a baseline question would be whether someone supports the liberty of their opponent.

    Does the conservative defending free speech of the racist also support the free speech rights of people blashpheming their god or burning the flag?

    Does the liberal preaching freedom for a woman to control her body also support the woman's right to sell her body (either sell her organs or temporarily sell access to other parts)?

    Yeah, there are other values that can decide someone's position on those alternate arguments, but the person who values liberty finds ways to balance that. The person who is only using liberty as a tool looks for the other values to allow them to take a specific anti-liberty stance.

  • marshaul||

    Like I always say, tribalism is the force most responsible for basically all the harm which derives from government, esp. the undamped partisan back-and-forth which monotonically increased authoritarianism from every direction.

  • Bubba Jones||

    "Safety" and "Security" might be considered higher ends than "Liberty" by some.

  • John||

    Under the right circumstances, they will be considered higher ends by most. What good is freedom if you are dead and can't enjoy it?

  • John||

    Under the right circumstances, they will be considered higher ends by most. What good is freedom if you are dead and can't enjoy it?

  • CE||

    What good is life if you aren't free?

  • markm23||

    What good is the illusion of safety and security obtained by enabling more government power? Keep in mind that governments murdered over a hundred million people in the last hundred years.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I still wonder why anybody thinks that gun prohibition would work out one bit better than alcohol prohibition or drug prohibition.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Ideals, as in "we have to try." Kind of important when you base one's existence on moral superiority.

  • ||

    The people who don't like guns also don't know much about guns or how easy they are to manufacture or smuggle.

  • chemjeff||

    Gun prohibitionists on the left.
    Labor prohibitionists on the right.
    And drug prohibitionists all around.

  • Longtobefree||

    Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    I always worry when I have to enter a business like a restaurant or doctors office with a no weapons sign. If necessary I will leave my weapon in my vehicle but I know someone with evil intent won't do the same. Many times my wife will go into the business and explain I'm a former cop and would like to keep my weapon with me.

    Well over half the time the owner will say something like the sign isn't for people like you, and allow me to retain my weapon. The businesses who say no, we thank and go to another business...

    All a no weapons sign does is let every bad guy know if he commits violence there nobody will be armed but them.... I saw this quote on the web...

    You may not believe in God that's your decision.
    You may not believe in guns thats you right.
    BUT when someone breaks into your home the first thing you do is call someone with a gun, and pray they get there in time....

    Guns aren't Bad and they don't hurt people.
    Bad people hurt people with guns, and good people stop them.

  • sarcasmic||

    explain I'm a former cop and would like to keep my weapon with me

    I've never met a cop, current or former, who felt that the rules applied to them.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Well, if I had a gun (I don't slew-foots shouldn't own guns or power saws, and for the same reasons) I would ask the owner to make an exception for me, and I'm not and never have been a cop.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I've never been a fan of the .380; low energy and shitty ballistics, and the small guns chambered for it snap like a little bitch; however, considering an LCP Custom [better sights and trigger] to carry in just those situations, where I am not supposed to. It can be my "church gun." Undeclared of course.

  • John||

    I wouldn't want to be shot by anything. So, in that sense all guns serve a purpose. But, I agree with you. If I am going to shoot someone, I only want to have to do it once.

  • sarcasmic||

    At point blank range a .380 will get the job done, especially if it is an expanding hollow point.

  • John||

    At point black, a .22 will get the job done if you hit them in the right spot. Many a mafia hit was done with a .22 behind the ear. Like I said, I wouldn't want to be shot with anything.

  • <Unpastable>||

    All a no weapons sign does is let every bad guy know if he commits violence there nobody will be armed but them

    Except they don't know that -- other presumably good guys like you are ignoring the signs just as you are.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Aren't "former cops" explicitly exempted from such signs in many jurisdictions?

    To the extent that those signs carry any force at all.

    Perhaps you should just ignore them, and if anyone notices, tell them you are a "former cop."

  • marshaul||

    Police can be barred while armed (the same as they may be barred outright) from private property, the only exception being in furtherance of duties.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    When polled, Republicans tend to be much more supportive of concealed carry, and Democrats much more supportive of restrictions...

    I have more than a few diehard Democrat, redneck acquaintances in deep denial about the gun control agenda of their Democrat overlords. "No one wants to take your guns."

  • sarcasmic||

    "No one wants gay marriage. Just more rights for gays."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Somehow their party has changed without them noticing. The Dems don't even focus on the labor protectionism that was the core reason the blue yokels supported them in the first place.

  • Rhywun||

    Maybe because all those jobs are gone. They sure as hell focus on that stuff where I am.

  • CE||

    They did notice. That's why Trump won instead of Clinton.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Battered wife syndrome.

  • ||

    "No one wants to take your guns."

    ...yet.

    I doubt if any Democrats have any plans for a door to door search and confiscation. My guess is they want to incrementally make it more difficult to legally own guns. I.E. the "boil a frog by slowly turning up the heat" approach.

  • <Unpastable>||

    They pretty explicitly wanted to back in the 80s and 90s.

    Now they're patiently waiting for the old hunters to die off. The YT gun community presents a nascient problem for the gun grabbers, but Google is working on that as we speak.

  • CE||

    I've seen plenty of proposals for universal licensing and door-to-door searches to confiscate unlicensed items.

  • ||

    Do a little Google searching and you will find plenty of Democrats who have spoken on record saying that they wish they could ban all guns.

  • John||

    Yeah, no one wants to take your guns. Ignore the hipster douchebag in the corner

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/ide.....story.html

  • Bubba Jones||

    Pelosi's quote has been purged from the WaPo article.

    "I hope so" quoted here:
    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/g.....s-n2391259

    No longer at this link

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....4df5bc1f7c

  • Ron||

    read the article and the comments scary people out there. anyone prepared to eliminate one right is willing to eliminate others as well and the Universities are doing a good job of getting ride of the 1st

  • ||

    And the only proof you need that the Democrat Party is in favor of confiscation is this: No Democrat at any level repudiates call for confiscation.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Do your acquaintances read?

    Can't you just facebook them some recent headlines from Pelosi and Feinstein?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Show me a Dem looter willing to strip the IRS of its deadly weapons.

  • Duke of url||

    You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fist!
    (of etiquette).

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I plan to maintain 98.6 through eternity.

  • Duke of url||

    You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fist!
    (of etiquette).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You can say that again.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I'll go further. When they start confiscating guns, I will acquire one and hide it. A government that denies the public the right to self-defense is a government that is not he path to being a damn sight more dangerous that my clumsiness.

  • sarcasmic||

    I would advise you to do that sooner than later, through a private sale so there is no paperwork. While it is still legal.

  • Ron||

    If you haven't already hidden a few guns then your to late, but now while the price is right

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I'll go even further. If they try confiscating guns, I will use the arsenal that I have to stop them. Once that civil war starts, it won't end well for lefties and tyrannical government types.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Americans today don't have the balls for a civil war. When the confiscation starts, the government will only need to have real soldiers shoot a couple of resisters and the rest will wet their pants and comply.

  • CE||

    Never visited Idaho have you.

  • Longtobefree||

    Buy one now 'on the record', so you will have one to give them when they come.
    Helps to move them along before they ask about all the new turned earth in the back yard.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    How do you prevent the most common cause of gun related deaths.

    Prevent their use for some 20,000 suicides a year, being a self inflicted gun shot consisting of one bullet.

    I believe that is the real and ultimate agenda of gun control.

  • <Unpastable>||

    We need special sensors on the trigger that can determine emotion from sweat content, and only allow the gun to fire if the person is happy.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The same social group that favors gun control also favors legal assisted suicide, so I don't think your reasoning holds water.

  • Zeb||

    They also favor the most invasive interventions on people who try to kill themselves, so I don't think that line of argument works very well either.

    I think that what you can say is that gun controllers will abuse the statistics in any way that makes their position look stronger.

  • sarcasmic||

    Assisted suicide is different because it is approved by authority, in this case a doctor. Regular suicide isn't done with permission or under orders, so it is not to be allowed.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "Assisted" suicide is State sanctioned and comports nicely with progressive agenda.

    Suicide by gun just provides a nice big fat inflated number so they can say "over 30,000 people die in the US every year from 'gun violence' and this is a national embarrassment so we have to do something to be more like Europe."

    It is nothing more than a talking point to promote gun control; once that is accomplished they can elect for assisted suicide, no problem.

  • KobolCoffeeLord||

    Offer folks an incentive to live.

    I dunno, maybe that's too obvious an answer. It doesn't seem that stopping gun-assisted suicide would do much, as we'd still be leaving the suicide. Folks killing themselves is more important than with what, I should think.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Economic liberty would greatly reduce suicide by firearm. A large portion of gun suicides are middle-aged and older men in despair over permanent unemployment and destitution. If they could freely offer their labor or goods or services for sale, many of them would have hope again.

  • CE||

    Ban taxation and regulation. You will have twice as much money and stuff will cost half as much, so everyone will be four times more prosperous and happier.

  • Otis B. Driftwood||

    OT: If you laugh at Louis CK's comedy, then you think sexual assault is ok. It should come as no surprise that this was printed in The Guardian.

  • Zeb||

    I hate this inability to separate artists from art. It seems like anyone who has done whatever the most prominent wrong thing of the moment is now has to be erased from public knowledge.

    If these people did something criminal, they should be punished. Other than that, I don't care if they are creepy assholes or whatever. If I like what they do to entertain me, then I like it. I don't give a shit about their fucked up personalities. Particularly in the case of comedians, their personality problems often contribute to their art.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah. If I had to judge art by the artist I wouldn't have much to watch or listen to. Life would get really boring really fast.

  • John||

    It would be a very deprived and stupid way to live.

  • Zeb||

    Just imagine if you refused to listen to music by people with stupid or offensive political views.

  • John||

    It is the absurd idea that a single bad act or acts somehow disqualify the person from having any other value. If we were to discover tomorrow that Michaelangelo had secretly tortured and murdered children, would we be required to pretend the David isn't great art? I don't think so.

    I was thinking about the Roy Moore thing. People keep saying it "disqualifies him from office". Really? So if Roy Moore held whatever you consider being perfect politics and his opponent was a Marxist Leninist who openly advocated the internment and murder of the middle and upper classes in this country, you wouldn't vote for Moore because he dated a 14 year old girl 40 years ago? Really? I certainly would vote for Moore under those circumstances. And so would everyone else getting their virtue signal on about the evils of the child molesters.

    People have a hard time thinking rationally and separating their emotions and politics and desire to feel virtuous from the truth.

  • Rhywun||

    If we were to discover tomorrow that Michaelangelo had secretly tortured and murdered children, would we be required to pretend the David isn't great art? I don't think so.

    I am not at all sure about that.

  • Alcibiades||

    It's more an "association" thing, revulsion over acts that seep over into into individual's artistic accomplishments.

    I revere the works of Beethoven, but he really was an unpleasant human being, fought for custody of his nephew when his brother died despite having no rights to guardianship over the kid and the boy clearly wanting to be with his mom. Screwed up the boy's life so much that he ended up trying to commit suicide.

    Newton's another one, in the standard biography the biographer stated that while he was in awe of Newton's intellectual achievements he came to loathe him as a human being for the way he behaved towards others in his lifetime.

  • Zeb||

    Geniuses are often difficult or unpleasant people. To me "Beethoven" just refers to the music. And "Newton" to they physics and mathematics he pioneered. Except for casual personal curiosity, I don't care what the actual men were like as people.

  • Alcibiades||

    On the other hand, child prodigy Mozart and music's greatest genius, was apparently an all-round decent human being, loving husband and father etc...

    I don't really care either, and anyway I learnt long ago to separate stupid and pernicious political beliefs and positions from the acomplishments of artists and musicians that I admire, e.g. Steve Earle etc.

  • John||

    Wagner is a good example of how the person can make the art troublesome. Wagner was a horrific anti-Semite. While I don't think it is fair to hold him responsible for how the Nazis used his music after his death, it is fair to see the anti-Semitic themes that run through his works and its later association with Nazism as taking away from its artistic value. At the same time, the Ring Cycle is a monumental artistic achievement. Intellectually, I fully understand the objections to it and Wagner in general. Emotionally, I cannot deny seeing the entire Ring Cycle played over four nights in 7 days as it was intended was one of the most amazing and powerful experiences of my life.

  • Alcibiades||

    Ditto, though I've only seen part of the Ring Cycle, was pretty awesome. Though all that god and warrior and archetype stuff going on, it's pretty far removed from the concerns of lowly mortal human beings as say depicted in Mozart's opera buffas. I can certainly see why the Nazis were attracted to Wagners's creations and his world view.

    Another thing I've learnt, people that put abstractions over actual, flesh and blood, human beings are to be avoided or monitored very closely. Beethoven again here, loved humanity in the abstract, just not so much real life examples.

  • John||

    My wife has been dragging me to the WNO for almost ten years now. I have seen a pretty large part of the repertoire. As much as I loved the Ring Cycle, Don Giovani and the Marriage of Figaro are every bit the artistic achievement. The music from those two kind of float above the hall. It is so surreally beautiful it is as if some creature from heaven has come down to earth to give us a glimpse of what heaven sounds like. The music may reach our ears but it never really comes down to our level.

    What separates Mozart from Wagner is that Mozart was a composer who happened to write a few operas while Wagner devoted his entire career to just writing operas. That Mozart could decide to write a few operas to pay the bills in between writing his symphonies and concertos and perfect the art form and leave works that tower over most works and measure up to even the greatest works by later composers who just wrote operas shows just what a genius Mozart was. Mozart possesed a genius that was beyond anything anyone else has ever achieved.

  • Alcibiades||

    Agree.

    Mozart is the God of Music, It's possible music will never see his equal again, what he accomplished is staggering, almost beyond comprehension. Mozart's learning curve was almost vertical with the first masterpieces being written in his teens. Many of his masterpieces are so beautiful and moving they're almost painful to listen to. The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte, with libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, for me are the high point of opera.

    Incidentally, Da Ponte who lived a very long life, was a real character, failed as a Priest then became a librettist and libertine, then emigrated to the US and started a grocery business plus becoming the first Professor in Italian here and overseeing the first US performance of Don Giovanni.

  • John||

    I have heard that. My favorite piece of Mozart opera trivia is that Beaumarchais, the author of the play which the marriage of Figarro is based, was a great Republican and one of the principle foreign funders of the American Revolution.

    If you ever go to Prague, there is a museum near the castle called the Lobchek Museum. the Lobchecks were the first family of Bohemia for centuries and one of the Lobcheks was Beethoven's primary patron. In this museum, they have Beethoven's original draft and conductor's notes to the 6th Symphony. Next to it is an original draft by Mozart of an orchestration of an older piece by Handel. The contrast between the two men could not be more apparent. The Beethoven work is full of notes, scribbles, cross-outs, and rewrites. You can tell he gave birth to it as much as writing it. He clearly obsessed over every note. The Mozart book is as if the hand of God were writing it. The penmanship is perfect. There isn't a single mistake or change in it. He just sat down and wrote it out as he wanted it like he was writing a letter or a grocery list.

  • Alcibiades||

    Yep, Da Ponte took out the contemporary references in Beaumarchais's work and universalized them in his libretto, it's very much a work with enlightenment values at its core and a rejection of the ancien regime, as is the founding principles and philosophy of the US. The last scene of Figaro has some of the most complex and moving ensemble singing ever composed.

    I love Beethoven's music as well but he's a different type of composer, Beethoven the lover of Nature, will lean on you with some of his works, kind of grab you by the scruff of your neck. Mozart never leans, the music is at once transparent and has infinite depth. There's a letter to his dad, Leopold, saying I've written these piano concertos, they're different but they're crowd pleasers. The musically literate will know what's going on but even those that dont will love them anyway.

    Yeah there are tons of stories of Mozart like that, from people thinking they were hallucinating seeing him play the keyboard as a child prodigy to performing one of his keyboard concertos without having any time to write out his part on a score for himself so he played from memory with blank music sheets in front of him.

  • markm23||

    Beethoven was composing an original piece. Mozart was transcribing Handel's piece into a different orchestration. That he made no errors in either transcribing the scales nor in slips of the pen is rather impressive, but this was not a fair comparison.

  • John||

    My other favorite fun fact about Mozart is that he wrote a lot of his music in pool halls. Mozart was an avid pool player and spent many afternoons in Vienna's pool halls writing music in between his turn. He didn't need a piano or violin to write. He could just write it from his head like you or I can write a letter without mouthing the words.

  • Alcibiades||

    Yeah, from all I've read about him he was all-round decent human being, liked to socialize and have fun with his many friends and could write masterpieces while doing so. Unlike Ludwig, who could be a real anti-social jerk. It's also interesting that Fidelio, Beethoven's only opera, gave him enourmous problems, had to go through many revisions and had to be told by someone, "you cant gave away the plot in the overture Ludwig". Beethoven, the lover of Nature, didn't have the dramatic instincts that Mozart had and that enabled him to write and create real human beings within his operas and not the archetypes in Fidelio.

  • John||

    Opera might be the most difficult art form to do well. It is one thing to write a nice tune. Many pop songs have beautiful tunes. It is another thing to write interesting lyrics. A lot of bad music has great and meaningful lyrics. But it is very hard to have meaningful lyrics and great music. That is very difficult to achieve at all. Writing a mass or an aria is very hard. Opera adds even another level of difficulty in that the lyrics have to be good and it has to further some kind of a plot. And very few operas do it. Some operas have great music but ridiculous plots, like the Magic Flute or Fallstaff. Other operas like Werther or Lucia Lamour have interesting plots but the music is interminable. Very few get all three. I would say there are less than 20 operas ever written that you can say had beautiful music, meaningful lyrics, and a compelling plot. It is just a monumental achievement to do that.

  • Alcibiades||

    This is true, opera has to seamlessly merge music, a purely abstract art form, with human drama, requiring a deep knowledge and appreciation of human psychology. Very few composers are up to these demands and can pull it off successfully.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, applies in politics. I pretty much expect anyone capable of succeeding in national level politics to be a piece of shit. You don't succeed at that by being a decent, regular guy.

    I dislike Moore for any number of reasons. But his being a creep 30 years ago isn't very high on that list. And if he was my perfect candidate, it really wouldn't change that. He's not up for election for Supervisor of Teenage Girls.

  • John||

    Mostly what people are doing with Moore are engaging in confirmation bias based on their opinion of his politics. If you don't like Moore's politics, you look for reasons to believe the accusations. If you do like his politics, you look for excuses not to believe them. The truth, whatever that is, has very little to do with most people's opinions on the matter. This is more so because any honest person would admit it is impossible to judge the veracity of 40-year-old accusations made by people you know nothing about against someone that the only thing you know about them is their politics.

  • Ron||

    If we start denying people the right to work do to something we disagree with then soon no one will be working. this is also very much along the lines of removing statues remove the statue remove the person and change the history good or bad.

  • Zeb||

    It is akin to removing statues, but much worse, I'd say, as this actually affects living people and their livelihoods and, in the case of entertainers any business people, the consumers of the goods and services they provide.

  • Ron||

    agreed and as others have said if they commit a crime they can do the time but once served they should enjoy full benefits and rights as everyone else

  • Rhywun||

    We're not even pretending to believe in "innocent until proven guilty" anymore. This pogrom is just the beginning if you ask me.

  • Alcibiades||

    There's little or no rational thought behind proponents of gun control, just blind emotion-driven rage. John Lott Jr. was regularly subjected to such when limey Piers Morgan had him on his, little-watched, CNN show. I used to wonder why Lott kept coming back for more of Morgan's verbal abuse and unprofessional conduct. He's still at it too, this most recent interaction apparently got quite a lot of attention in the UK, with the UK tabloids reporting that Morgan really sorted out that yank over their crazy gun laws:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hWs1UBlixA

  • John||

    People who advocate for gun control either are engaging in magical thinking that says words and laws can have effect in the real world just by saying them or they are cynically trying to disarm the public so that mob rule and political terrorism can be more effective.

  • Alcibiades||

    At the point in the above exchange where Morgan tells Lott to "shut up", Lott should just have taken out his earpiece and left the studio. No one has to take that kind of verbal abuse from a pasty-faced Brit.

    IMO the anti-gun crowd are mostly driven by a rage that others are able to voluntarily arm themselves thereby taking control of their own protection and are not solely relying on the almighty state. They hate the Second Amendment because it recognizes the pre-existent right of self-defense and a degree of individual autonomy that is abhorrent to statists of all stripes.

  • sarcasmic||

    Leftists love force. They love violence. That is why they worship the state. They love to impose their will on others through state violence or threats of state violence. That is why they don't want anyone except government to have guns. It gets in the way of their utopia where everyone they don't like is rounded up and shot.

  • Rhywun||

    And they know how to take advantage of the lower-infomation voter who just thinks "gee, guns are dangerous".

  • John||

    Self-defense is a human right. Gun control is as you point out a direct assault on that right. The point is to deprive people of the ability to defend themselves. The effect of doing that is to make them dependent on the state and easier to rule.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not so much dependent upon the state as defenseless from it. Remember that leftists do not draw a distinction between society and government. They want oppression, as long as they don't like the people being oppressed. That is why they want everyone to be disarmed. Because they imagine themselves to be the oppressors, and don't want their victims to be able to defend themselves.

  • Henry Smith||

    "Not so much dependent upon the state as defenseless from it." Roger that. The reason the state wants self-defense outlawed is to make its agents and enforcers safer from resistance and retaliation. Protecting "the public" is no part of the equation.

  • Ron||

    If one is denied the right to self defense then one is now the property of a government that can choose to protect you or not to protect you and as been shown our government can't protect anyone

  • sarcasmic||

    Morgan is a bully and a tool.

  • Alcibiades||

    His CNN show was a ratings disaster, he's probably the worst interviewer I've ever seen, either slobbering and fawning over guests he likes or heaping on verbal abuse and insults with guests he dislikes or when he's losing the argument as in the following with Larry Pratt from Gun Owners of America. I think Lott was expecting to humiliate Pratt and precisely the result was precisely the opposite. Pratt out-maneuvered and out-witted Morgan at every point until Morgan had to resort to petty name-calling. Pratt got in some pretty good zingers as well:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fHJcSsC0aY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C1d4onZsyw

  • Alcibiades||

    Oops, Lott = Morgan

  • Rhywun||

    I am not going to watch that but a country in Europe of all places not having learned the major lessons of the 20th century - one of them being "don't let the government disarm you" - is just something else. It's like step 1 in the totalitarian handbook FFS.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Jews learned this lesson the hard way.

    Its why Israel is armed to the teeth.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Quite frankly, I don't believe that the FBI doesn't keep a record of all the people they do background checks on for gun sales. I just don't believe it.

    The NSA was tracking the metadata of our phone calls,but the FBI isn't keeping track of the people they do background checks on? Seems unlikely.

    I know it's difficult to confiscate guns even when they know who has them. California has a ridiculous backlog of people whose guns are supposed to confiscated for whatever reason. No cops want to volunteer to go raid crazy, violent, and suicidal people's homes--when they know they're armed.

    Still, eventually, I wouldn't expect that to be necessary. They'll start doing things like refusing to renew your driver's license, or find other ways to make your life miserable like they do with people who don't pay their taxes--for not turning over the guns they know you have.

    They deny people who've been forced to register as sex offenders the right olive near schools, playgrounds, etc.

    Being a gun owner that hasn't turned in his or her guns may become a big deal in child custody disputes. "Please don't grant him visitation rights, your honor, my soon to be ex-husband has gins that he hasn't turned in--and they present a danger to our children".

  • Bubba Jones||

    They know you have a gun, but they don't know *how many* you have.

    One NICS check can cover multiple sales. And if you have a carry permit, you don't even need a NICS check.

    Given than almost 1/2 of households have a gun, it's not really helpful to have a list.

    So, yes, the government knows I have a gun, but that was easy enough to guess by the fact I live in Texas.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The point is that if they know you have a gun and they know if you turned on in, then if you don't turn it in when they tell you, they can make your life miserable.

    Surely, Texas is better than most states in terms of whether local law enforcement will even play by the gun grabbers' rules. In the future, Texas may be something like a "sanctuary city" for gun owners, where local law enforcement refuses to enforce federal law.

    That doesn't mean the feds can't make life miserable for people who don't turn their guns in--like they do for illegal aliens. It's hard to get a driver's license, it's a pain in the ass to get your right to work verified, paying taxes is a pain in the ass, having a bank account, etc., etc.

    And there are a lot of people who live outside of Texas. California might not have any reluctance to enforce federal gun laws--and those gun are supposed to be registered individually. If you own a gun in Chicago or Massachusetts, forget about it.

  • Longtobefree||

    And by the same turn, if you turn in a gun, that doesn't mean you turned in ALL your guns, does it?

  • ThomasD||

    Nope, not going that route. The idea I'm going to give up some, and stash the rest for use at some future date is absurd. What sort of occasion would that be? And how long do we wait?

    Rubicon.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I can imagine it becoming a problem for employment. If employers can check to see if you're a sex offender, why can't they check a California registry to see if you own a gun?

    Technology being what it is, I wouldn't expect old fashioned gun confiscation to work like it has in the past. There are all kinds of ways they can make your life miserable (did I mention no-fly lists) that could be applied to known gun owners, and if you've ever had the FBI run a background check to clear you for a purchase or registered your gun with a municipality, etc., then they know who you are.

    For goodness' sake, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook probably know if you're a gun owner by way of their advertising algorithms. That technology will eventually come to federal law enforcement if it hasn't already.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If I was ever not hired because of being a gun owner, I would be the first American to file a discrimination lawsuit based on me being a constitutionally protected class- firearms owners.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The point is about how they would go about confiscating guns if and when the progressives are able to pass gun control, and the answer is that they would make gun owners' lives as miserable as possible until they gave up their guns.

    If you file a lawsuit, good for you. They've already passed a gun control bill, and the Court has already either refused to hear a case challenging that law--or they've called it a penaltax and let it slide.

    So how do they confiscate those guns?

    Well, they make people's lives miserable in various ways--just like they do with sex offenders, people who fail to pay taxes, illegal aliens, etc., etc.

  • ThomasD||

    Their approach is the same as with tobacco.

  • CE||

    Not if you're on the "No Hire" list.

  • Rebel Scum||

    with libertarians probably sitting on the biggest armories.

    Like this guy?

  • enoriverbend||

    That is only an arsenal if you think this is an attack dog.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That is only one bag full of guns and a banana hammock at best.

    An arsenal would scare lefties to death.

  • ThomasD||

    Looks like a cartel soldier from south of the border. Especially the way he's representin' with the Wii guitars.

  • ThomasD||

    South of, you know, the actual border.

    Not the cheesy place on I-95.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "In a politically polarized America, gun control is destined to be obeyed primarily by its advocates."

    Has that ever stopped the government from trying?

    "The end of prostitution and illicit drug sales are right around the next corner" isn't even half of it.

    The rest is about beating up on the bad guys. Who cares if gun control actually works--so long as it works to make gun owners' miserable?

    Have you ever seen a gun owner in real life?

    They drive around in pickup trucks with confederate or gadsen flags, wearing their LGBT hating hats, killing the children of illegal aliens, voting for Trump, and perpetrating misogyny everywhere!!!

    The purpose of gun control is to flog that straw man--if it gets a few guns off the street, too, that's just icing on the cake.

  • Ron||

    Scientific American is calling for removal of guns from people who have DUI under the guise that drunkards are apt to be more violent which may be true but being more violent does not correlate into gun violence and they provided no proof of that either. Now locally if you get a DUI the sheriff will deny you a carry permit but not due to the potential violence but the under the idea that you are irresponsible

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I've also heard that jaywalkers are notorious self directed assholes and don't give a shit about rules; a lot like libertarians, come to think of it.

  • Ron||

    ok

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Nothing against libertarians, by the way, Or gun owners. Just suggesting that if "they" target people for DUI, might as well use that precedent to target everyone else, including libertarians.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You just summed up the gun grabber's strategy.

    Incrementally include everyone on the "no guns" list.

  • Ron||

    I understand now

  • CE||

    Scientific American should stick to science. It used to be a good magazine.

  • Longtobefree||

    I will believe that the gun control crowd is concerned with safety when they fire their armed guards.
    Until then, I thing they have a plan so monstrous that they have to disarm everyone else first.
    Something about abilities and needs?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    As a Libertarian without a gun I feel lame.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Gird your buns an' get some guns, son!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Feel free to buy one, but you're not alone. I don't have one either. Whether having a similarity with me is a good thing or a terrifying thing depends on your belief system.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Being a pathetic, castrated, estrogenic, globalist, JournoList snowflakey cuck" is neither.

  • ranrod||

    Marxists and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States into becoming an unarmed population. Unarmed populations have been treated as slaves and chattel since the dawn of history.

    The Second Amendment foes lying about gun control - Firearms are our constitutionally mandated safeguard against tyranny by a powerful federal government.

    Only dictators, tyrants, despots, totalitarians, and those who want to control and ultimately to enslave you support gun control.

    No matter what any president, senator, congressman, or hard-left mainstream media hookers tell you concerning the statist utopian fantasy of safety and security through further gun control: They are lying. If their lips are moving, they are lying about gun control. These despots truly hate America..

    American Thinker

  • ranrod||

    These tyrants hate freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and private property. But the reality is that our citizens' ownership of firearms serves as a concrete deterrent against despotism. They are demanding to hold the absolute power of life and death over you and your family. Ask the six million Jews, and the other five million murdered martyrs who perished in the Nazi death camps, how being disarmed by a powerful tyranny ended any chances of fighting back. Ask the murdered martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto about gun control.

    Their single agenda is to control you after you are disarmed. When the people who want to control you hold the absolute power of life and death over your family, you have been enslaved.
    Will we stand our ground, maintaining our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights, fighting those who would enslave us?

    American Thinker

  • ranrod||

    New Yorks 1,000,000 new illegal gun owners..

    REFUSED TO REGISTER THEIR GUNS....

    One million plus new felons, all armed with scary, high capacity, media labeled assault weapons!
    The deadline for New York residents to register their so called "Assault Weapons" and "High" (read standard) Capacity Magazines came and went.
    An estimated million plus, formerly law abiding, gun owners have refused to comply with Cuomo and down state Democrat's naive belief that the NY Safe Act, passed in a so called emergency session of the New York legislature, could force free people to register their hard earned property.

    And who can blame these once lawful gun owners, with a president that picks and chooses which laws he will follow or enforce, as well as an Federal Attorney General that operates daily with a Contempt of Congress charge and gun running scandal, "Fast & Furious", hanging over his head. Why should the average New York joe, bother to follow the law, especially when it is in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States, the one true law of the land.

  • Lester224||

    The biggest impact of more restrictive gun laws is a reduction in the rate of successful suicide, as depressed people still tend to be law abiding.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Not a big enough of one to offset the loss in hunting, crop defense and self-defense ability.

    Hanging is only 20% less effective than a gun, and most rural males (the gun suicide demographic in the US) in other countries use hanging. Or did you think that the 100 million Americans living in gun-owning households, and others over the last 2 and a half centuries prior, hadn't done the cost/benefit analysis for themselves?

    You don't know whether someone other than you benefits from taking opioids; you don't know whether they benefit on net from drinking alcohol or big-gulp sodas; you don't know how many immigrants, foreign goods, doctors or schools the market needs at any given time; and you don't know this either. By making the above comment, even if you didn't mean it as a bromide for gun control, you fed the fuel of popular ignorance that leads people who don't own, use or know anything about a given commodity to take control over the lives of those who do.

  • ThomasD||

    You have absolutely no valid data to back up that assertion. It is a counterfactual that can only be - at best - inferred.

  • ThomasD||

    (Addressing Lester)

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    His assertion is actually technically correct. All suicide lethality data from around the world indicates an average completion rate of +/- 86% for attempts with firearms, vs. a +/- 70% completion rate for hanging. Firearms are the most lethal extra-legal (eg, other than legally assisted) suicide method, and so reductions in firearms availability will by definition save at least some lives.

    The problem with Lester224's comment is that it is broad and presented without caveats, thus implying that A, the reduction would be large; and B, there would be no accompanying negative effects. As I outlined, the reduction would actually almost certainly be small, and the second-order effects would be significant and render the exercise destructive on net; however, his mistake was one of gross oversimplification, not technical falsehood.

    This all, of course, leaves out the most important question for libertarians, eg, "do we have any right to force someone to continue living". This question is easy to answer for us, and renders the entire subject moot; but to persuade others who care not for self-ownership, we have to do our best to not let simplistic, overbroad statements pass by un-confronted.

  • ThomasD||

    Sigh.

    No, he is not correct, technically or otherwise. Completion rates say nothing about what would have happened in the absence of the chosen method. That is a counterfactual requiring an inference.

    Not everyone who attempts suicide wants to die. This is a well established fact. People who attempt suicide can be broadly classified into two groups, those who mean it, and those who do so as a means to some other sort of attention.

    It is entirely reasonable to conclude that people who chose a gun did so because they wanted a reliable method of getting the desired result. Absent the gun it seems rather unreasonable to think that they would then choose a less reliable "gesture" method. When more people asphyxiate themselves every year I'd hardly call that a victory for gun control.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Absent the gun it seems rather unreasonable to think that they would then choose a less reliable 'gesture' method."

    This is obviously correct, which is why an honest assessment of suicide data from Australia indicates that most gun suicide attempters switch to using hanging- the most effective alternative method- thus preventing large reductions.

    But the desire to commit suicide can't make a less effective method more effective, any more than the "desire" to shoot down an F-15 with a Ruger 10/22 makes that outcome more likely. While it can't be said for certain that ex-gun attempters do not have higher lethality rates with hanging than those who were hanging themselves before, the data indicates that this is probably not the case: during the period when Australia's gun suicides were reducing (and hanging was increasing as a % of overall deaths), the lethality rate of hanging went *down*, for reasons statisticians couldn't pin down (improvement of rescuscitation techniques was one explanation). One would expect the completion rate of hanging to *increase* if the newly-gunless noose users were more motivated.

    Now, could that unrelated lethality reduction have disguised an increase as gun attempters entered the pool? Yes. But it doesn't seem likely, given the significance of the drop.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    PS when I said "we have to do our best to not let simplistic, overbroad statements pass by un-confronted", I was only referring to Lester's comment, not yours, in case that wasn't clear.

  • ThomasD||

    And tighter speech restrictions aren't a problem because nobody can stifle our thoughts!

    (Don't laugh, it's coming soon to a Reason article near you.)

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    Yep in Judas Priest's immortal words "Breakin' the Law" if a law goes against the Bill of Rights or natural law it is null and void no matter what legislative body, majority vote, official or cop says. Its your duty to break totalitarian "laws". Fuck em'.

  • Strelnikov||

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    What we need are more "gun free zones", so that the mad-men (and women) among us can carry-out their mayhem unhindered.
    Looking forward to when CA is a GUN-FREE ZONE! - and I'll have another reason to never again visit the state of my birth.

  • Octopher||

    All of these gun restrictions, if enacted, will simply drive the guns underground. The biggest danger to legitimate gun ownership in this country are the ATF Form 4473s, the background check forms, that gun dealers are required to keep for ten years. Though Congress has forbidden the government from creating or maintaining a gun registry, these filed forms are, in fact, a de facto gun registry. The government merely needs to seize them from gun dealers and they will have all the information they need to kick in doors. Perhaps the safest thing to do if the government begins to search for weapons is to arrange for catastrophic fires at gun store offices throughout the country.

  • Strelnikov||

    "Gun control advocates might want to give this whole matter a little more thought."

    I'm assuming this was offered in jest.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I regard with equanimity the possibility of libertarians outgunning looters of the nationalsocialist "religious right" and sovietsocialist "left."

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