Continuing on yesterday's theme, let's talk about gun control. Or rather, let's talk about how people talk about gun control. There is no issue about which public debate is more universally absurd in a specific, technical way. Here is where I borrow a term heavily used in the economics blogosphere. Perhaps you have encountered it. "Derp." It's true origins are unclear, but best stated, it translates to: responding to counterarguments or counter-evidence by loudly restating your "priors."
Priors: a term from Bayesian statistics, meaning your initial beliefs before observing evidence.
So, "derp" means imperviousness to logic or evidence. And on gun control, derp is universal. Yesterday, I picked on the liberals a bit harder, so I'll start with the conservatives today.
The standard conservative argument on gun control generally goes as follows. Gun control is a slippery slope. Once you start, the inevitable result is the Third Reich, concentration camps, the whole deal. There is, of course, a big problem with this argument. Nearly every industrialized country in the world has much stricter gun laws than we do, and despite decades of such laws, they haven't slid into fascism. Point this out to NRA members, and they simply have difficulty wrapping their brains around the concept. Instead, they revert to Nazi references. Derp!
Now it's time for your medicine, liberals. The liberal line these days is that background checks are just obvious and indisputably a good idea. Here's the problem. So, a convicted criminal, prone to reoffend in a violent way goes to buy a gun from a legal dealer, and is turned away. So, he leads a life on the straight and narrow because that violent crime he would have committed? Doing so would have required going to a black market gun dealer rather than a legal gun dealer. Well, sure, more violent crime would be a great idea, but not if I have to buy that gun illegally!
The ridiculousness of background checks, of course, is that the people who are affected by them are the very same ones who know how to skirt them. Convicted criminals are the ones who have the easiest time finding black market dealers.
Point this out to a gun control advocate, and what do you get? "People are DYING!!!!!!" We need to do SOMETHING!!!!!!!! Why can't we just have background checks?! They're so simple and obvious!" Derp.
Why does gun control bring out the derp in everyone? I don't know. I'll think about it.