Monday, May 13, 2013

Gun Control: The Paralyzing Price of American Freedom

America's biggest problem is that it fatally overvalues its freedom.


Guns. Guns! Everywhere. The news feed coming out of the freest country in the world is starting to read like a play by play for the war in Afghanistan. Why is there so much gun violence in America? At this point, there is no point in arguing against the right for law abiding citizens to own guns. Doing so would be pointless. Rather, this post seeks to highlight that America's biggest problem is not its guns. Guns are only a symptom of the actual problem.


An Allegory of Earth 2

In the distant future, we may populate a world like this, but our behaviour will remain the same.
Image © T. Pyle Caltech/NASA

Six hundred years from now when mankind has finally built faster-than-light engines that would enable space ships to explore the universe, we will colonize a bevy of Earth like planets. Eventually, large corporations will rise back home on Earth, effectively replacing the sovereignty of governments. People will start to migrate from Earth to these new worlds in an attempt to escape the overreaching socio-economic oppression of these super corporations.

When pioneering humans colonize these new worlds, there will be new establishments, new laws and new governments. There will be wars. They may even have to fight off primitive alien species in their bid to colonize these worlds. As a result, these pioneers will need to be armed to the teeth. Every man, woman and child will be walking around with automatic plasma rifles, thermonuclear detonators and tachyon powered seeker munitions. This is all about survival.

When the initial chaos of colonizing a new world eventually subsides in 500 years for every 3,000 square miles, these governments will unite and form a new planetary alliance. We are now 1,200 years into the future. The year is 3213 AD. The new planet is christened Earth 2 while it's capital is designated as New Washington. It becomes history's first planetary nation.

The large corporations on Earth feel that this new proto-nation of Earth 2 is a threat to its sovereignty when its inhabitants refuse to pay trade taxes for their investment. In response, they launch an armada of frigates and planet scorching warships into space to reclaim this new breakaway colony formed on Earth 2. This becomes humanity's first interplanetary war.

Since Earth 2 humans have evolved to look a little different and speak slightly differently from their Earth ancestors, they are fairly easy to identify. The war will rage for years. Millions of casualties occur on both sides. Eventually, Earth 2 triumphs, gaining independence from the large corporation now controlling the home world. This is possible through the development of a terrible new kind of weapon of mass destruction that was created specially for the war:

The Terraformer.

Now free from Earth's corporations, Earth 2 will form its own constitution, becoming an autonomous sovereignty. Among the many rights in this constitution, it will make the ability to harness weapons of mass destruction a fundamental right of every inhabitant of Earth 2. Long after the defeat of the tyrannical Earth 1 corporations, Earth 2 will forge an alliance between other pioneer colonies, allowing free trade. The galactic alliance is formed. Earth 2 is now rich.

Due to the massive number of friendly casualties that occurred during the planetary war, WMD authorities form the Galactic Warhead Association. It consists of mining and energy corporations as well as scientific research bodies who actively use weapons of mass destruction for retrieving valuable ore from roaming Asteroids to power Earth 2's cities as well as pioneers who use them to terraform uninhabited new worlds, thus making them habitable.

The GWA's initial aim is to train people on the proper use of WMDs. Soon they find themselves on the defensive when New Washington is forced to react to rival criminal organisations and terrorist groups who use WMDs against each other, destroying entire moons or terraforming planetoids where rival criminal / terrorist organisations are holed up, killing many innocents.

The GWA is the galactic alliance's only advocate for Earth 2's inhabitants constitutional right to bear weapons of mass destruction. They are caught in a long debate in the Galactic Senate where they have to remind them that if it weren't for weapons of mass destruction, Earth 2 would never have its freedom. This freedom, they argue, is secure, because Earth 1 knows fully well that an attack on Earth 2 is suicidal. Such an attempt would be met with a swift and brutal retaliation which would resemble the fury of being struck by the fist of an angry god.

New Washington kills the WMD control bill. This happens several times in the history of Earth 2. The year is now 3375 AD, and the unthinkable happens: A thermonuclear warhead is set off on a moon orbiting a gas giant, completely terraforming the planetoid, stripping it of the lives of millions of living there. The attack is traced to a madman with a racist agenda against the new phenotype of humans living on Earth 2. This causes an outcry not only on Earth 2, but across the entire galactic alliance, as similar events occur on parts of Mars, Triton and Phobos.

Even politicians on Earth 1 start to become critical of Earth 2's Laissez Faire attitude toward the control of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The entire galactic alliance is in uproar, but it can only be critical of Earth 2 politicians. Earth 2 is not only three times the size of Earth 1, but it is also richer in resources and has enough interstellar warships with Weapons of Mass Destruction powerful enough to collapse entire stars. It could wipe out the colonies of Mars, Jupiter's moons and Alpha Centauri's planetoids with a few strategic wormhole deployments. Earth 2 even has technology to create black holes that could swallow entire solar systems. The alliance can only criticize Earth 2 — but it is merely a chihuahua barking at a brown bear.

The Allegory, Explained

In case you haven't seen the obvious allegorical parallels, let me be clear: The events described in the previous paragraphs are not a treatment for the next blockbuster Hollywood Science Fiction movie franchise. I have merely taken the events of the last 300 years of American history and adapted them to what will probably happen in human history in the next 1400 years. Why have I done this? Because history, if nothing else, consistently repeats itself.

The fictional Earth 2 is obviously today's America. The events described in Earth 2's future occurred in very much the same way as the events of the last 300 years of American history. Earth 1 (which is in reference to our current home) is the allegorical future of yesterday's United Kingdom. The Galactic Warhead Association is a futuristic National Rifle Association.

The Allegory of Earth 2 is a science fictional demonstration of why America has become a gun culture. America's love of guns was not born out of a love of violence—it was born out of a necessity. It was born out of a need to survive in a promising new world that early European pioneers had every intention of conquering to escape the economic hardships and religious oppression of old Europe. Early America was in a state of evolve or die. They simply evolved.

When the Civil War finally came around, it effectively cemented America's gun culture and permanently transformed it into a nation that needed to cling to its guns in much the same way a man who almost drowned still clings to a log, long after he has found dry land. In this environment, weapons were a no-brainer. It was a  fledgling nation that was still trying to find its foothold in a swampy, unfamiliar territory. It was in no way inclined to let go of its deliverer.

Europe had gone through exactly the same transformation process, when it emerged out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. Only then, they had swords and cannons, not guns. It didn't change the fact however, that madmen from the likes of Nero to the despotic tyranny of King Henry VIII had access to weapons that were just as effective in war as they were in peace.

The only difference between today's America, yesterday's Roman Empire and tomorrow's Earth 2, is that the weapons are progressively more effective and much, much more efficient. However, in every society where weapons have changed the course of history, they will inexorably become a part of society in some way. Banning the use of assault rifles in a country that was born by them could create exactly the same effect as banning the consumption of liquor did during the prohibition era. The current gun excess requires a management strategy.

Chicago is one of the few US States where owning a weapon without a badge is difficult. Chicago is also the murder capital of the United States. Can you see that correlation? Banning assault weapons in a nation that was essentially created by assault weapons is like trying to stop a bomb from going off by detonating an even bigger bomb. It's basically a zero sum game.

While Chicago's gun murder problem is more a legacy of racial segregation (today's rival gangs are descended from Black Panthers of the civil rights era who sought to arm themselves against racist white oppressors), America's gun problem has already spiraled out of control. More Americans die by the gun than through all of the terrorist events in its history—combined.

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While I am very much in support of an assault weapons ban in America (simply because most people are naturally stupid and thus, most people should not own a gun), I can also recognize why this would be a challenge to put in place. Guns define America. It's an indelible part of its culture because of its history. That's why no atrocity committed with a gun will ever be enough to sway US politicians into collectively coming together to do something about the wanton and indiscriminate proliferation of high powered assault weapons. Americans really love their guns.

There is no logical reason why there shouldn't be a ban on high capacity clips and military style bushmasters or background checks on individuals purchasing such a weapon. No sensible argument can be made for why people should be allowed to own piles of M16 assault weapons in their homes. No rational explanation can be made to justify the right to bear arms. The US 2nd Amendment is woefully outdated. If you're still making these arguments then you're just a gun nut. If you deny this is true, then let me help you sort out your identity crisis:

Top 10 Signs You're a Gun Nut

I've been watching the gun debate in America for a while now. It blows my mind that a country so progressive in its social agenda could also be so retarded. Perhaps it is this liberal thinking that is at the heart of its failure to control the wildly abundant availability of killing machines. If you're a cognitively dissonant gun enthusiast, then you probably don't realize that virtually all of your arguments are clutching at straws. You're so desperate to hold on to your guns that you will make up any asinine argument to hide the fact that you're a gun fanatic. You can bet you're a gun nut if you have ever made any of the following arguments:

Argument #1: The second amendment defends that right

The second amendment was produced in a very young America that was trying to unite several states after fending off invasion from the British by bands of brothers bearing arms. Naturally, the amendment spoke to that specific event in US history. Little did they know that America would eventually evolve to become the most powerful military nation on the planet.

At the time, the title of most powerful nation in the world belonged to Great Britain. The British Empire was virtually the same size then as the American empire is today. Try to put that into perspective. That's why 250 years later, the second amendment is obsolete. If you're still having trouble understanding this basic idea, then allow me to tackle your next silly argument:

Argument #2: Your gun is a part of your right to form a militia

You think your well armed militia is any match for a predator drone? Don't kid yourself.

That right is moot. Consider Syria. If the US government decided to turn against its citizens, all of your privately owned cache of arms would be no match for the single most powerful army in the world. A single predator drone strike could clear out an entire rebel militia hiding away in the forest. These bad boys regularly take down entire terrorist organisations for breakfast.

If you and your band of brothers decided to rebel against the US government (or alternatively, the US Government somehow lost its mind), they could take out you and your militia, remotely even, without sparing a single marine. I mean think about this: What do you have, a cache of AR-15's with 100 round magazines? They have thousands of freaking armor plated TANKS.

The US Army not only has an over abundance of Tanks. They have Humvees, Black Hawks, Ospreys, Stealth Bombers, Sky Fortresses, Thuderbolts, Spectres, Lancers, F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightnings all armed with an assortment of guns and missiles (some of which include nuclear warheads), a crap load of stratospheric surveillance craft and unmanned drones. Then to top it all off, the US arsenal is supported by hundreds of thousands of Marine, Navy Seal and Special Forces teams who spent their entire adult lives learning how to kill insurgents with blind, cold blooded efficiency—not just on the weekends.

You can spout your "right to bear arms" and your "right to form militia" all you want. But unless you spent most of your lives training in the marines, and you have the dough to buy tactical nukes, tanks, or an arsenal anything short of what Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark has in their closet, then your second amendment rights don't add up to much. That's the same thing as Bambi chortling that because it's a deer, it can run faster than Godzilla. Good luck with that.

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