Thursday, May 9, 2013

Viewing the 2nd Amendment from a Free-Market Perspective

Free and unfettered markets: That's the ticket!

I think I'm onto something here.

Here are my premises:
  • Politics and economics are often interchangeable, in the sense that the economic ramifications of a public policy usually trumps other considerations. The obvious exception might be moral values. Yes, religion sometimes mucks things up, but even still it helps to follow the money.
  • A principal public-policy divide that defines Liberal/Conservative, Democratic/Republican, Left-Wing/Right-Wing is free markets versus regulated markets. In this analysis I lump the libertarians in with the conservatives (libertarians are conservatives who smoke pot and go to Rush concerts) (just kidding) (maybe not!).
  • We can analyze the 2nd Amendment debate as a free market versus regulated market divide.
  • An important caveat: In my opinion, free markets are beloved (by those who love them) primarily because, unregulated, they open up opportunities for conning, scamming, grifting, and otherwise scooping up wads of cash you don't readily obtain the old-fashioned way (earning it).
Here are, in the gun-policy debate, my conclusions:
  • Powerful forces want a lot of markets to be free, including the market for guns.
  • A free market for guns is supported primarily by the NRA, with help from other gun lobbying groups, and, I suspect, the various chambers of commerce.
  • The fight against any and all gun regulations are centered on how many guns and how many varieties of guns -- along with accessories and ammunition -- can be sold or otherwise traded.
  • Any gun control regulation is seen as an encumbrance to more gun-related commerce.
  • Any "freedom" argument, or "fight tyranny" argument, or "they're coming for our guns" argument, or "guns make us safe" argument, or any other such argument are actually offered as obfuscation. The true driver in the gun debate is money, money, money. Using politics, religion, hysteria, cultural symbols, historical contexts -- while sometimes reflecting something akin to core values that do influence and motivate gun buyers -- are just techniques, tried and true, for marketing gun products.
  • The thousands of citizens of all ages who are killed and injured annually by guns are considered, in the free-market context, collateral damage or, perhaps, an externality. Gun merchandisers and those they draw into their market don't think of reducing this gun violence as one of their core values.
  • To subjugate these core values, a doublethink is employed: We need guns because of gun violence.
Liberal progressives easily find themselves on the other side of the argument because:
  • They believe in regulated markets, and they believe the gun market in the U.S. is yet another example of a market failure.
  • They don't wish to employ a doublethink: they believe we need to strictly regulate guns to stem gun violence.
  • Limitations on gun ownership, gun marketing, gun design, etc. are necessary to stem the chronic violence and death surrounding gun ownership.
  • Gun-control advocates are up against a marketing problem: Selling "My first rifle!" is easy; selling "You'll never have a rifle!" is hard. Selling "I'm fucking Rambo!" is easy in our culture; selling "You won't need a gun if nobody had one" is impossible. Even "Just the one will be fine, thanks," won't do and never will.
If you believe free markets are rational and efficient, then you believe that the gun market, unencumbered, will sort itself out. Of course, this shows no signs of happening.

If you believe that free markets are often irrational and inefficient, then you'll be looking at the gun deaths and accidents as unconscionable market failures. And I'm with you.

Also, if people like Wayne Lapierre, David Keene, Ted Nugent, Alex Jones, and Jim Porter strike you as con men who would sell you antifreeze as cough medicine, you're on to something. They're not gun "advocates," they're salesmen, and they love them some free markets. This might not directly apply to Ted Nugent, but then I don't know exactly what applies to Ted Nugent. But he is selling something, and for whatever reason, guns help.

Guns, guitars, Ted Nugent, and the American flag. Yeah,
that sounds about right. Unless, of course, you're sane.

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