File this under 'Thank Heaven for Science' (my emphasis):
Only no one really knows what video game violence does to children and adults. Studies sway between simple causation and direct correlation.
Researchers at the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have pointed to numerous reports that show a causal connection between media violence and antagonistic behavior. A study published in Developmental Psychology last year recognized increased aggression with children who play video games.
But a 2008 study by Harvard professors found that most children who played M-rated video games did not exhibit hostile behavior.
And in related news, most gun owners don't go off on murderous rampages. Problem Solved! Or maybe, if video games are tipping one person in a hundred into madness, we have a problem.
When I have more time I hope to spin the full tirade but for now, do keep in mind various points that have been abandoned as Washington and the media chase the current "crisis":
1. The Trend is Your Friend: Crimes rates have been plunging in this country for twenty years. If increased gun ownership and violent video games are the problem, why is crime down?
2. OK, Maybe The Lack Of A Trend Is Not Your Friend: Per crime expert Alan Fox, the incidence of mass shootings has been roughly trend, less for the last thirty years. Why are they resisting the overall downward trend in crime?
Possible answers might include de-institutionalization of the mentally ill, increased use of psychotropic drugs, and increased popularity of desensitizing video games propping up the mass shooting rate at a time when other forces should be pushing it down.
3. Not To Be Tedious, But Just What Is The Problem? Handgun homicides account for about 10,000 deaths per year; all rifles (with "assault weapons" as a subset) account for about 400; shotguns are another 400 and "Unclassified" is about 1,200 (sorry for the no-links, that is my steel-trap wool memory reciting the FBI UCR stats.) If we are talking about reducing gun violence, surely we should be looking at handguns rather than rifles cosmetically tricked up to look like a cool Hollywood prop.
4. There Is No Trust: The NY Times had a LOL article a while back exhorting gun owners to calm down - following the 2008 Heller decision, the Supreme Court now recognizes that the Constitution protects the right to own guns. In TimesWorld, this means that with ownership secure, gun owners should stop worrying about confiscation and be constructive on topics like a national ownership database.
For heaven's sake - in the last few months the Times has also run repeated editorials reminding their readership that the election of Mitt Romney could change the Supreme Court, with Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance. Gee - Roe v. Wade is forty years old and still tenuous. Yet 'Heller', a 5-4 decision, is rock solid and won't be threatened if Obama manages to replace one of the conservative justices.
Really? Obama wouldn't 'evolve' on that topic and decide he opposes it? Justices Ginsburg and Breyer won't need to evolve, since they were on the short side in 2008, and Kagan and Sotomayor will need to find their inner liberal and vote to overturn. Tough call.
And it's not like 'stare decisis' will be a problem, as Lawrence v Texas (2003) and Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) illustrate. When the liberal winds are blowing precedent gets blown away.
As to how our government could persuade the citizenry that their rights are secure and confiscsation is not an option, well, I may come back to that. But let me continue this non-tirade...
5. Nobody Will Be Shooting Any Law Officers or Tyrants. The Revolution Will Be Tweeted. This sort of talk - "I’m not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people” - is insane. And these impressive arguments about natural law lead to a daft conclusion:
To assure that no government would infringe the natural rights of anyone here, the Founders incorporated Jefferson’s thesis underlying the Declaration into the Constitution and, with respect to self-defense, into the Second Amendment.
Welll, yes, 'Heller' spoke to legal self-defense, not armed insurrection.
There have been practical historical reasons for the near universal historical acceptance of the individual possession of this right. The dictators and monsters of the 20th century -- from Stalin to Hitler, from Castro to Pol Pot, from Mao to Assad -- have disarmed their people, and only because some of those people resisted the disarming were all eventually enabled to fight the dictators for freedom. Sometimes they lost. Sometimes they won.
The principal reason the colonists won the American Revolution is that they possessed weapons equivalent in power and precision to those of the British government.
Please, nobody is going to be shooting law enforcement officers or going up against tanks, helicopters, artillery and automatic weapons with a semi-automatic rifle kitted out to scare Diane Feinstein and impress Arnold.
And I recently saw folks mentioning that tyranny in the US is a real possibility, citing the Japanese internment during WWII as an example. Work with me here - worried that the Japanese civilian population in the US represented a dangerous 'enemy within' we passed a deplorable law interning the Japanese in America. Fortunately, they had not availed themselves of their gun right so they went peacefully.
But had they armed themselves and fought back, we would have... concluded that they really weren't that menacing and let the whole thing slide? Really? My guess is we would have gone to a Plan B involving severely escalated violence.
Or maybe there is a deterrent factor to the armed civilian population concept - if we had known the Japanese civilians were heavily armed we would have concluded that they really weren't so menacing, or that neutralizing the possible threat would be too painful, so we would just let them carry on. Again, really?
Look, if the majority in this country really takes into their head the notion of oppressing a minority, the minority is in dire trouble (which is essentially the situation of roughly every minjority in history). We could look to the Mormons as a different example, and wonder about their odd treatment in a country founded on religious liberty.
As a practical matter, gun owners need to ask themselves just how close they are to oppressed minority status in their area. My impression is that some of the people screaming the loudest have the least to worry about.
Did Jefferson write "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"? Yes, but he went on to suggest it must also be refreshed from time to time with bullshit.
Guns for lawful self-defense - fine. Guns for hunting and sporting recreation - fine. Guns as preparation agsint the day we rebel against our government - that sort of talk sounds crazy and will only energize the already-committed. Please don't expect to win many converts with it.
LEFT UNSAID: The rationale for our alcohol laws is that a ban would be ineffective, most people enjoy it responsibly, and if 80,000 deaths per year are alcohol-related, well, waddya gonna do? That logic follows a similar course to the logic of the video game manufacturers (where the death toll is obviously lower and less directly linked, if at all), violent movie makers, and gun makers. Hey, people like violent video games, gory movies, and shooting at targets, and who are we to say them nay, even if a few extra deaths are a predictable consequence? No fair asking me if I have any point here other than the absurd inconsistency of our national 'conversation'.