Is there any rational argument for mass gun ownership?

Let’s play a game.

Imagine you need to walk to your car in the dark. There are 100 men in a grocery store and you will see 10 of them separately on the way to your car. And you know one of the 100 will try to rape you if he sees you in the dark.

Simply walking yields a 10% chance of being raped. Pretty terrifying.

If you ask a random person to walk with you it might be inviting the rapist to accompany you! That’s really scary too. You’re actively giving the rapist the access to rape you!

But rationally, you’ve reduced the probability of rape from 10% to 6% (including the 50% * 10% probability that the non rapist stranger will lose the fight in the parking lot).

If you invite two strangers you double the chance that you invited the rapist! But the probability of rape falls to 3.5%. Three and you get a 1% chance of rape. If you invite all 100 shoppers with you the chances fall to near zero.

“Mass gun ownership” is like inviting people to walk with you. There’s a chance that you’re inviting a rapist along, but statistically the more people are “armed” with access to you the less likely rape is. And as terror attacks in Europe have proven, Guns can either be obtained illegally (Paris) or other means can be used (Nice). Both those attacks occurred in a country with far stricter gun control than the US, and both claimed more lives than the recent Las Vegas attack.

8 Replies to “Is there any rational argument for mass gun ownership?”

  1. This question is a prime example of Begging the question – Wikipedia

    To beg the question is to assume the truth of the conclusion of an argument in the premises in order for the conclusion to follow.

    The assumed truths are as follows:

    1- That it is at all legitimate or rational for society to disarm private individual citizens without due process of law for no particular reason associated with that individual.

    2-That society or the questioner is in a position of authority over private individuals, and can require an explanation as to why an individual might own a firearm, or anything else, without having done anything criminal.

    3- That the questioner is in a position to decide what is and is not rational for millions of other citizens.

    Lets clarify what is meant by “mass gun ownership”. The implied meaning is the legal right of individuals to own firearms such that a large fractions of individuals own firearms.

    Is their a rational reason for mass gun ownership, yes millions of reasons, but we owe you no explanation.

  2. It’s a natural property right. Guns are property, just the same as cars, knives, hats, coats, bank accounts, houses, and all sorts of other things. The only requirements for the preservation of a natural property right is that I don’t use my property to violate your rights, I can’t tell you what to do with your property because it belongs to you, and vice versa on both counts. In other words, you have the right to do with your private property as you see fit as long as you don’t do anything to harm me, and I do as well. This is the only justification anyone needs to own property of any sort.

    Now…you’re probably asking this because you’ve heard stories where people get guns and go shooting up places and killing people. Guns are the problem, right? Here’s the thing…if guns were really a problem, most of the shootings wouldn’t be reported by the news other than as aggregated statistics for the simple reason that most of them as individual events wouldn’t be newsworthy. When you see a shooting that takes place in California that kills three people on the news and CNN is Breaking News on the topic, the reason is that it’s a highly unusual occurrence. The sensationalism of the media creates a culture among the suggestible and afraid that we need Gun Control and owning lots of guns is bad because everyone who owns lots of guns will go shooting everyone and we’ll all die. This is where irrationality enters the argument. A Good Group needs to come along and take things away from everyone based on the Bad Things That Could Happen if they don’t. In other words, they’re presuming an act before it happens. That’s not logical at all; it’s a guess.

  3. Well, America’s founders believed they were being rational when they wrote that a well-regulated (well-equipped and skilled) militia (armed general citizenry) was necessary to the security of a free state (society of free people).

    Otherwise, it is all too likely that they will stop being either secure or free. (E.g. they might find themselves at the mercy either of common criminals, or an all-powerful government.)

  4. Absolutely.

    There is a small but significant portion of individuals in the world who are more than willing to use force to impose their will on others if given the opportunity. Fortunately there is a straightforward way to deal with such individuals: meet force with force. While they have no qualms with threatening others to get their way, most respond to threat of force by seeking an easier target. Failing that they may just give up out of self preservation.

    As author Robert A. Heinlein put it:

    “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

  5. I have a problem with this question whether it relates to firearms or anything else. It appears to presuppose that rights are not inherent to all humans but exist only when doled out by a hopefully benevolent government. It is more reasonable to first ask whether there is a rational argument for restricting any human right, the natural default position should be “no restrictions”. Regulation should only be imposed when necessary to protect rights or maintain enough necessary order so people can go about their business (speed limits, traffic lights, taxes, etc.). It is not reasonable to restrict millions of peaceful people who do no harm because some might possibly do harm. If someone does harm, deal with those that cause harm or if possible, the root causes making them want to do harm.

  6. Yes of course. Boatloads. You can start off with the reasons that a couple of Dead White Men from the 18th century had to write mass gun ownership into the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

    What seems to elude your grasp is that disenfranchising the rest of the world of to match your personal shortcomings does not elevate yourself. Indeed, this kind of insistence condemned any patrons in adjoining rooms to the terrorists to running away and precluded any effective action until SWAT units arrived

  7. Use of the term “mass gun ownership” is in distinct contrast to “individual gun ownership”. I have never owned a gun. Two years in ROTC, two years active duty, I was never given ammunition or taught anything beyond how to clean it. But I have a hard time with the concept of “mass gun ownership”. What exactly does that look like? What is the nature of the perception in the eyes of those who perceive it that way? As an American not into guns, I find the concept impossible.

  8. Yes. The example of the massacre of Chinese citizens by government troops at Tiananmen Square, Beijing in 1989.

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