A modest proposal related to firearm safety

There are several major related social problems in the united states right now: a political division along geographic lines, a set of self-reinforcing communication barriers along that division, an asymmetry of firepower along that division, and a set of minority groups whose acceptance is asymmetrical along that division. I propose a programme, along the lines of the mandatory short-term military service found in Scandanavia and Israel, to directly address all of these related problems. I expect it to offend all major entrenched interest groups roughly equally.

To summarize the problem: broadly, we have nominally ‘left’ and ‘right’ cultures — the blue and red tribe, respectively. The blue tribe is more common in urban areas while the red tribe is more common in rural areas (although the strength of this geographic division is debatable, and better debated elsewhere). More importantly, the blue tribe aligns itself strongly with social justice for marginalized groups yet is largely opposed to mechanisms by which such groups might defend themselves, and even in areas that are blue-tribe-dominated, weapons and minor positions of political-executive power (such as placement in law enforcement) are red-tribe-dominated. All of these associations are accidents of history: movements like the Black Panthers show that embrace of weapons for self defense are no less compatible with both left-leaning politics and a position as a persecuted minority than they are with white male right-libertarianism.

I propose a programme by which, in early adulthood (say, age 20), all people who are not too ill to participate would be required to attend two months of intensive firearm safety and training. Locations are assigned at random, rather than by convenience: after all, transportation will be provided by the government, and we would like to use this program to acquaint people who are from different geographic regions and who have different perspectives on life. These training programs will not be segregated by gender (including sleeping arrangements). Because this training program is non-military, there will be no religious or moral exemptions. At the beginning of the program, each participant will be issued a firearm, a portable gun safe, and a gun lock; at the end of the program, participants keep their firearm. (After the end of the program, they may of course sell their firearm, or discard it.)

Immediate results: all minorities are armed with a suitable weapon for self defense and a legal justification for having it (so a law enforcement officer can no longer consider being armed as sufficient for considering a POC a threat); people outside a general culture of firearm safety (like that which exists in the red tribe, where children are drilled on firearm safety from a young age by their whole community) are introduced to it, limiting the rate at which people outside a culture of firearm safety make dangerous mistakes when they are exposed to firearms; people from all walks of life are guaranteed at least one experience with living for an extended period with a group of people very different from them in the presence of deadly weapons without violence.

Written by

Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net

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