Guns Guns Guns

Baltimore Sun Publishes Garbage Anti-Gun Op-Ed

Last week the Baltimore Sun published an op-ed on gun control which defeated their own arguments about crime and guns. This week, they’ve really topped themselves

In what might be the hottest of hot takes on gun issues, the Sun published an op-ed by a David DeGrazia, a professor of philosophy at George Washington University entitled “Self-defense is not a good argument for owning a gun.”

The entire premise of the cockamamie article revolves around this paragraph:

When others threaten your security or rights, certain measures may be necessary to protect you. But it doesn’t follow that you may take those measures if another party has assumed responsibility for taking them on your behalf. As Thomas Hobbes argued centuries ago, when we leave a “state of nature” and enter civil society — which features the rule of law rather than anarchy and vigilantism — we transfer some rights to a government whose job description includes protecting us from various common threats. For example, the police, an arm of the government, are permitted to pursue criminals, forcibly apprehend them and bring them to justice. As private citizens, we generally lack the authority to perform these actions.

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So in DeGrazia’s view of the world, individuals do not have gun rights because we have the police and the military to protect us. That of course is a dangerous and totalitarian view of the world. A view of the world that views government as the only legitimate source of peacekeeping authority.

Now, any civilian who has been in a situation where deadly force may have been a requirement knows that there is a certain truism that DeGracia ignores:

Law enforcement is not going to stop a crime in progress from happening. Law enforcement may very well not be able to get to the scene until after the crime has been committed. That a philosophy professor thinks you shouldn’t have a gun because there are police officers probably won’t be a comforting thought if a bad guy has already shot you dead. Certainly the lack of guns in gun-free zones such as Sandy Hook and the Orlando Nightclub Shooting certainly did nothing to protect innocent lives.

DeGrazia also complete ignores the entire intent of why the Second Amendment exists in the first place, which is to protect individuals from tyrannical governments. It may seem fanciful in this day and age but Hamilton argues in Federalist Number 29 and Madison in Federalist Number 46 that one of the most important reasons that citizens have the right to bear arms is to protect themselves from the tyrannical arms of government. Under DeGrazia’s argument for totalitarianism gun bans, DeGrazia just trust that the government is there to protect the people and that government will not disarm people and do something untoward toward them.

So after declaring the 1. People have no rights to guns and 2. That the government will always take care of you, DeGrazia turns over to a few more insane arguments to say that gun ownership is not an effective means of self-defense:

First, in our current American milieu of minimal gun control, gun ownership is associated with an increased likelihood that someone in the household will die a violent death. Assuming the spirit of “self-defense in the home” includes defending not only oneself but other household members, this evidence-based generalization suggests that gun ownership, on average, is not an effective means to personal security; rather, it tends to be self-defeating.

DeGrazia immediately shows how off-base he is by assuming that there is “minimal” gun control, which anybody who has spent more than thirty seconds looking into gun laws knows is factually untrue. No citation is given to show that “gun ownership is associated with an increased likelihood that someone in the household will die a violent death”. Nor is any credence given to statistical data that shows that gun crime has increased as gun ownership has increased, evidence that has been studied for decades.

Second, is gun ownership necessary in the event of an attempted break-in? That is uncertain. Some evidence suggests that calling the police and hiding are more frequently sufficient for a good outcome than is brandishing or using a gun.

“Some evidence” is right up there with “some people” when it comes to an academic citation.

Third, does gun ownership avoid wrongly harming others or violating their rights? Not if, as I believe evidence suggests, gun ownership more often leads to injuring or killing innocent persons than to appropriate defensive use.

Again, “I believe evidence suggests” is not even a remote approximation to statistical analysis. In fact, a Harvard study had this to say about gun ownership:

“There is no reason for laws prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law‐abiding responsible adults because such people virtually never murder. If one accepts that such adults are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than to commit it, disarming them becomes not just unproductive but counter‐productive.”

So why does DeGrazia make such senseless, stupid assertions? It’s probably because he’s got a book to hock, though if it’s anything like his op-ed it won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. It could be the fact that he does not have a background in actual sciences, and instead if a philosophy professor. Statistical studies on gun violence have often been conducted by criminologist. Instead his other books include:

  • Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction
  • Creation Ethics: Reproduction, Genetics, and Quality of Life
  • Human Identity and Bioethics
  • Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status

His published articles get even more esoteric involving chimeras, the grief of non-persons, and more animal ethics. A few previous instances of papers on guns stick out. one for a strict gun control regime and one arguing that gun control makes everybody safer.

The real question is why the Baltimore Sun would publish an op-ed such as this? While the Baltimore Sun editorial board has always been in support of confiscatory gun policies, this op-ed makes no arguments that make any sense, provides no evidence, and takes a radical view of gun ownership that’s contradictory to even most “mainstream” gun control groups. The crime problem in Baltimore shows that his views have already failed when applied in the real world.

This op-ed was the hottest of hot takes and one that nobody on either side of the gun debate can take seriously.

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