Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Putting Murphy’s Law to the test?

This scene represents more than appears in it: People who feel that the Second Amendment implies an unconstrained right to carry firearms have presented arguments on this theme countless times. And, as in every other such case, the reasoning is fatally fatuous.

Fatuous fantasy: armed airline passengers

Fatuous fantasy: armed airline passengers.
[ Image Source ]

The trouble here lies in the premise: that violent crime is the rule and not the exception. Quite ignoring for the moment the steady stream of reports showing such crime to be actually declining over time, it should be obvious that this is false; if it were not, then we’d have news anchors breathlessly telling us of each occasion on which a crime wasn’t committed.

Let us assume, however, that we accept this “Second Amendment remedy” in the hope of deterring whatever crime might otherwise occur. It seems to me that this tempts fate. For every crime so prevented, I would anticipate an unknown but significant number of incidents in which citizens discharged their guns with disastrous results. Whether by accident, derangement or outbursts of passionate rage, far more innocent people would be harmed than saved.

And as to letting passengers bring guns on airliners: What do you think is most likely to happen? How many planes will be saved from hijacking (which is, despite media hype, a staggeringly rare event), and how many will explosively decompress because something went wrong with this idea? (And this is quite apart from the necessary consequence of such fatuous “freedom”: Terrorists, too, would be allowed to bring guns on board.)

I think we all know what will happen. Sooner or later, one of those people who occasionally makes the news for shooting himself in the privates while showing off his brand-new, armor-penetrating “toy” will do so while en route from Los Angeles to New York. Sooner or later, deranged or enraged, someone else will perform a Jared Loughner impression. Sooner or later, yet another someone will simply accidentally hit the trigger while trying to reach a bottle of water. And all of this will occur six miles aloft, with predictable consequences for everyone on board.

Even cartoonists should think before they draw, but obviously they don’t always do so. That alone should make us ask: If we can’t rely on human reason to operate a pen, how can we trust it to wield a gun in public?

Originally published as an adverse review of a cartoon advocating firearms for airline passengers.

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