Opinion | ‘Do something’ is a poor antidote to our problems

By on February 27, 2018

In 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new policy. They would not require young children to use child safety seats when flying on commercial aircraft, citing safety concerns. This was an anathema to activists, who had hoped to see regulation of such nature passed. Didn’t those heartless folks at the FAA understand that if it saved even one life, it was worth it? After all, a young child had died because he a flew out of his seat in turbulence recently beforehand.

This is the “do something” mentality at its core. It is never specified if the “something” to be done is going to be intelligent, or would fix the problem described. But those on moral crusades do not let mere facts or evidence get in their way, nor are they bothered by the damage they inflict on other people with their “solutions.”

In fact, the FAA had commissioned a study into the regulation proposed. As they noted in their press release, they found that mandatory safety seats would drive up the cost of plane tickets. Aside from that obvious downside, it would cause some people to simply not buy plane tickets and travel by car instead. And because cars are, on average, more dangerous than planes, it was found that the proposed “solution” would not only result in increasing prices of plane tickets, it would cause more children to die, not less.

What does this have to do with anything? It has been more than a week since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the fervor has not died down at all. The most common refrain is, as usual, to “do something.”

Not something intelligent, or something that would fix the problem without infringing upon people’s rights. Just “something.” Perhaps it should be pointed out that vehicles kill more people than firearms, according to Investor’s Business Daily. There are certainly many “somethings” than could be done about that.

What if, for example, we were to reduce the national speed limit to five miles per hour? That would surely decrease the number of people killed in car accidents.

“There’s a direct correlation between higher speed limits and more serious crashes on these roads. That’s the trade-off,” Russ Rader, a representative for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told Life’s Little Mysteries.

The problem, however, is that would destroy the economy by preventing tens of millions of people from getting to work. You would crush people’s freedom to go where they please.

This is the problem with knee jerk, “do something” solutions; they have no pity for those who would be negatively affected by them, when those people are every bit as important as the ones the “solution” is designed to help. The hard truth is that there are no political solutions. There are only tradeoffs, and they must be weighed on the benefits and the costs.

But this does not stop professional commentators. Late night hosts and the mainstream media, again, went into full blown political activism aimed at the three or so Republicans that still watch them.

On a CNN town hall, one of the students from the high school said that he pictured Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as holding the weapon that killed his friends, describing how it was “hard to look at [Rubio] and not look down the barrel on an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz.” Nobody will deny sympathizing with the child’s plight, but this kind of rhetoric is, for lack of a better word, disgusting.

Imagine for a second that somebody who had friends or family killed in a terror attack said that we should deport all Muslims from the United States, and that anybody who was against that was complicit in what happened. You might sympathize with the fact they had been through a lot and their emotions were clouding their judgement, but it would be a disgusting thing to say nonetheless.

This is the real danger; the criminalization of political differences. Not only are you morally wrong simply for disagreeing politically, you may as well have commited the crime yourself.

Another person yelled at NRA spokesman Dana Loesch at this same CNN town hall that she was a “murderer.” You have to be out of your mind if you think the NRA likes these shootings, if you remember, it was an NRA member with an AR-15 who took down the Sutherland Springs shooter.

Ignore how arbitrary the gun control crusade is for a second. Ignore that, per capita, you are more likely to be killed in a mass shooting in Norway, Serbia, France, Macedonia, Albania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium, or the Czech Republic than in the United States, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.

Ignore that Australia’s semi automatic gun ban did not cause a decrease in homicides, suicides, unintentional firearm deaths or even mass shootings, a study published just last December by Professor Gary Kleck of Florida State University found.

Even ignore that fact that you would have to deprive innocent people of their right to own a firearm, as laid out in the second amendment.

Ignore all the facts, data, and evidence that one might see as reason to doubt pious assurances that gun control is the answer. What is more disturbing than even that is that if you are not part of the moral crusade, you are an enemy, a heretic to be burnt at the stake.

Talking last year about the Las Vegas shooting, I think late night host Jimmy Kimmel said something very revealing on his show:

“When someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Kimmel said. “When an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, we say there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Aside from the fact that there are plenty of proposals aside from gun control on the table to prevent this kind of thing from happening, the shocking thing is how Kimmel undermines himself. He opposed Trump’s wall. He opposed Trump’s travel ban. Does that mean that Kimmel doesn’t care about people killed by illegal immigrants or Islamic terrorists? Of course not, it simply means he thinks the proposed solutions are poor tradeoffs.

Why can’t those who favour gun control attribute similar goodwill to those who oppose it?

Comments

About Stephan Kapustka