28 May 2022

Try to solve the problem

Having people about their lawful occasions get shot is intolerable.

We're doing a poor job of dealing with it. (I mean Canada.  The US is actively not dealing with it.)

Right now, in Canada, "gun control" is understood to mean "this thing makes the RCMP nervous and they don't want you to have it".

That's a terrible basis for policy.

Right now, in the US, "gun control" is understood to mean "they're trying to abolish white supremacy and we're going to murder them if they try".

That's a terrible basis for policy, too, and the Canadian version is only just sorta a layer over the US version for Canadian purposes anyway. (Look at the response to the long gun registry; "how dare you say I'm bad?" as a wedge issue to mainstream white supremacy, and the wedge issue response worked, politically.)

The general case of the terrible basis for policy is "it's OK to murder people who upset you".  It's an essential component of white supremacy. (Look at how killing people with a car is viewed.  Guess where that set of "it's OK, mostly" beliefs leaked in from?)  (The general cultural drift as the money gets more and more nervous about experiencing consequences is "only cops are white".  That's highly suboptimal.)

"I should be able to murder people who upset me" is a belief.  You cannot fix a belief with legislation, and you surely cannot fix a belief quickly; changing beliefs is a long-term project.

The correspondingly unhelpful belief that somehow you can suppress firearms comes down to failing to notice that enough policing to suppress firearms ownership is inherently oppressive; structurally, it risks a recapitulation of drug policy as a mechanism of oppression.  (If we're finally having a collective rush of sense to the head about drug policy, the systems that exist to enact the current policies want to keep existing; they're going to look for another basis of oppression because oppression is profitable.)

What can you do?

Find a competing belief and "give it salt"; figure out what your measurable objective is, and pursue it; remember that rights isn't a stable construction, and obligations can be, if done with care.

Making it less abstract:

The competing belief is safety; modern sport shooting cultures are really big on safety practices.  There's a lot of people with self-image invested in being competent with firearms where competent includes being safe.

The measurable objective has three parts; people aren't getting shot, the police have less power, and the means of achieving this has a broad social consensus supporting it.

Any gun is an expensive wall hanging without ammunition.  The point is not "you can't own that", the point needs to be "you can't have sole control of that"; most especially, you can't have sole control of ammunition and a gun.

When should an individual have control of both the gun and the ammunition?  When they're on a range; when they're hunting; when they're sufficiently rural they might have to do their own animal control.  (Indigenous persons are presumably subject to their band or nation's policies.)  "Hunting" and "rural" involve small amounts of ammunition.

There's a gun club.  Gun club members have collective civil responsibility for each other's use of firearms, whenever and wherever.  You can buy ammunition through a gun club or through the ministry that issues hunting licences.  If you have ammunition in your home, that's limited in amount and applicability (for what you have in your home and only for what you have in your home).  If it's in your home, it's a long arm, and it's not self-loading.

At the gun club, nothing is in sole control until you're on the range.  But you can own anything; if you are sufficiently in to turning money into noise that you want to own an M2 Browning HMG, you can do that.  You just have to go through the club armorer to get the thing out of storage and you have to go through the club check in procedure to get on the premises and you have to go through a your-key-and-two-other-officers-of-the-club process to obtain ammunition.  (It can be your ammunition; you just can't have sole control of it.)

Transportation to and from ranges is between gun clubs; it's done by the gun clubs, it involves some kind of bonded courier, and individuals aren't involved.  

Transportation for hunting involves separate transportation of arms and ammunition; never the same vehicle.  (You're not going  hunting alone, are you?)

Transportation on purchase to your rural abode is by the same kind of delivery courier who would deliver to the gun club for both arms and ammunition.

All of this is logistics.  It's commercial regulations; there are commercial regulations for the transport of chemicals that are all of mutagenic, carcinogenic, teratogenic, corrosive, explosive, and hypergolic.  Commercial regulations can handle the logistics part just fine.

So the folks into shooting sports get something they want -- unrestricted small arms ownership -- in return for undertaking a collective obligation of safety.  They're already into safety.  That's the salt and the obligation.  It also turns firearms regulation into a matter of civil regulation in which the police aren't involved; expensive, but not a lethal risk.

The police get something they want -- an expectation that no one is carrying -- but they aren't responsible for firearms regulation; they're subject to it, and it's the same rules as the general population. (Making the police a special armed caste is intolerable to democracy.)  No armed police reduces the number of people getting shot, too.  (You wind up with a judicially-controlled military branch to do armed response on those occasions this might be required, and they are intensely not police.  They exist to deal with your rebellion against the Queen's peace. They're embedded in a budget that doesn't want to spend on them, which is important.)

If you're unable to convince a gun club they're safe with you on the range, you just can't have a firearm at all.  That's your obligation if you want to own a gun.  (If you're rural, you're going to have some logistical burden about this, but that's manageable.  So is the bureaucratic overhead of harmonizing all the safety standards and making sure there are safety standards.)

The core safety policy -- no sole control of a weapon and ammunition -- is what militaries the world over use. This is because it's the simplest thing that works.

Gun control would be a stupid thing to fight about, politically, when we need to be decarbonizing.  But it really does look like nigh-all of the proposals are trying for control, instead of success.


Moz said...

I'm kinda half way to being convinced of the goal you describe.

But I'm not at all sure of how we get from here to there. Right now in Oz you need a firearms license to buy ammunition, and you have to do it in person (and show your license at the time). But there's no real quantity restriction.


The problem with ammo control is going to be cost. All those extra people and controls will have a big impact. Which is fine for competitive shooters who have sponsors, but sucks for gun club people who now have to spend a lot more time and money dealing with bureaucrats. Regional centres are struggling now, so this would just be one more straw... if selling ammunition takes more expensive paperwork and certification some places will drop out. Then farmers will have to drive further to buy, so they'll want to buy more at a time.

It's all very well saying no-one is allowed to hunt alone, but the first counterpoint is going to be farmers who carry guns to deal with large animals (hurt farm animals or predators). Expecting them to leave the scene, find a second person, collect the weapon, then return and shoot the hurt cow/angry bear ... there will be protest. Ditto country cops, except that for them it may be half a day before they can get a second cop on scene. Not great if someone has hit a camel/moose with their car and broken its legs.

In Australia the kangaroo meat industry is already marginal, and from what I know that's typically a solo hunter with a fridge on the ute. Doubling the cost of the meat is going to make people unhappy (and as usual the cost will flow up - adding slightly to the cost of acquisition will double the retail cost rather than adding the same amount to it).

The issues we have round hunting are loosely "idiots with long guns" and they'd be much less inconvenienced. Especially the rich wanker version who are the main problem AFAIK. Buy an expensive gun, drive out somewhere remote, shoot at shadows... half the point is having some mates there to impress. Getting 10 rounds each and going for a drive is already the problem.

Actual criminals I don't think would have any real issues. They typically fire very few shots, and especially with pistols they're already smuggling them into the country or stealing them from law enforcement. Neither source will be handicapped by extra paperwork for legitimate users. And when the total rounds fired per weapon is tiny will they even care if they can't reload?

But that's the Australian perspective, where gun control is popular with the public and fairly well accepted by the gun nuts. We don't have mass shootings (cross fingers), and we don't have a long land border with gun nuts. The last Australian mass shooting was in Aotearoa... because he couldn't get the guns he wanted in Oz. I think clamping down on guns works?

Graydon said...


Sale of hunted meat is illegal in most of Canada. (Not in Quebec, but there it's already tightly regulated.)

I'm talking about _travel to a hunting location_, rather than "you can't hunt on your own" or "rural persons can't have firearms by themselves". The ammo and the long arms can move separately at plausibly no increase in inconvenience.
At Canadian scales, rural usage isn't going to involve lots of ammunition. "Having to shoot a bear" is extremely rare; coyotes after the sheep much less rare, but also better handled through guard animals. (Mules or llamas in the case of sheep.) (also, defense from bears? there's enough statistics to be sure bear spray is more effective than firearms!)

Note that the rich wanker needs a gun club, and needs the other people in the club to be willing to assume mutual civil responsibility with them. They can probably manage that the first time, but it's going to cost them. And since there's going to be a strict liability setup -- no such thing as an accidental discharge -- that will presumably function as a deterrent.

Note that as proposed, individuals cannot purchase ammunition directly; they're buying through the gun club. The gun club -- which is a highly specialized insurance company, much as 19th century fraternal orders were life insurance schemes -- can deliver. Overall individual cost may well _decrease_, since the gun club can negotiate bulk prices.

The major problem in Canada is the white supremacy wedge issue; the US Second Amendment narrative of violent opposition to tyranny has way too much mind share.

The way to get around that is to split the "shooting sports" folks from the "insecurity management through violence" folks, and the obvious way to do that is to treat the shooting sports folks as inherently legitimate (we after all treat motorsports as legitimate!) if a certain set of procedures are followed to, in effect, localize the social insurance costs on the folks in the sport.

Oh, and the point is not the _amount_ of ammunition; it's to avoid _sole control of ammunition_. Accepting that "out hunting" is a legitimate circumstance for sole control, well, that needs to not be a loophole, so there's both "is that a hunting arm?" (that is, it's not self-loading, it's a long arm, it's in a plausible cartridge) and a carried ammo restriction for liability purposes. There doesn't have to be an attempt at direct control -- a constraint in the system -- to check everybody; a feedback, as the shit of the world falls on you (and your whole gun club) should you be found in violation, would suffice.

Anonymous said...

With the present state of 3d printing and speech restriction circumvention technology, successfully restricting gun ownership (not just passing laws, but preventing people from owning them) is impossible, the bird has flown the coop. There are some demons you cannot put back in the bottle without giving the state intolerable levers of power.

Graydon said...


I am not even a little worried that the sort of person able to go on a murder-spree is the sort of person able to engage in complex machining, additive or ablative.

You can have success, or you can have control. "Success" in this case is a gun community copying into the future a belief in the illegitimacy of violent expressions of feelings.

That will necessarily involve there being a socially legitimate construction of firearms use. We've already got it; it's not popular, in part because it's more work, and in part because there's a deliberate attempt to create rage and fear as marketing tools. So, well, legitimize it. Benefit the people following it with some tangible benefits. Include them in the system.

(Solve the other real problems; make it clear that collective solutions will help you. It is all of a piece.)