Thursday, January 31, 2013

Magical criminals and anarchy

Step 1: Someone shoots a lot of people.
Step 2: Someone else calls for gun restrictions.
Step 3: Someone else says "criminals don't follow laws."
Repeat endlessly

Given the prevalence of the third step, I am getting scared.  Criminals don't follow laws.  Ever.  In fact, any attempt to restrict their activities only harms us more.  Apparently criminals are magical beings who do not merely attempt to defy laws with varying degrees of success, but are in fact entirely immune to them.

Given that criminals are magical law-immune beings and therefore laws only affect law-abiding citizens, then it is clear that there should be no laws.  Consider this: if we restrict guns, then only criminals will have guns, and all criminals will have guns, because that's what they do: break every law.

But why stop there?  I'm worried about theft.  If someone robs my apartment, how can I get my stuff back?  The police will take too long to investigate.  Instead, I should find the person I think did it and take it back.  When you criminalize taking things without permission, only criminals will take things without permission.

While we're at it, get rid of laws on bribery, since all they do is hold back us non-bribing citizens.  Apply the same logic to all forms of corruption, but of course they'd not be corruption if they were legal and considered acceptable.

Alternatively, it might be that Step 3 was stupid and in fact, criminals are not magical.  It is possible that there are links between the legal and illegal markets.  It is possible that discouraging straw purchasing will reduce the supply of illegal guns.  It is possible that fewer legal guns will reduce the potential for stolen illegal guns.  It is possible that "enforcing the existing laws" could help, and it is possible that "enforcing the existing laws" is a blatantly deceptive false argument when delivered by the same people who do everything they can to prevent the enforcement of existing laws.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Yet another problem caused by failing to define God's property rights

A North Carolina judge quoted Scripture that refers to the Lord’s 'vengeance' in sentencing three men to de facto life prison terms for a robbery [of a church service] that netted less than $3,000. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case Tuesday.
- CS Monitor

In all our nation's legal history and battles, we've somehow failed to explicitly define property rights for divine beings.  What is God's property?  We all have opinions, but there is no clear legal standard.  Some say everything.  Others say nothing.  I can see that some property has been given to God by private citizens, but it is managed by individuals, so there still needs to be some definition of powers.

It seems reasonable that the stolen property is God's.  What are the implications of that?  The judge thinks that theft from God mandates greater penalties than from others.  That's clearly not right.  Neither the Constitution nor any laws define deities as a special class of citizens, entitled to greater protection of their property or greater punishment for those who take it.

This judge gave an excessive sentence.  Worse, his justification, that God is entitled to special treatment, is entirely without legal backing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stray bullets are a thing

Safety devices sometimes cause people to act more recklessly.  For some people, this makes the safety device less safe overall.

I don't think this means we should ban motorcycle helmets.

But what about guns?  They're cited as everything from safety device to tyrant protection.  The latter is completely absurd (ask the Saudis about all their guns, but I suggest not questioning their local family of tyrants).  The former?  Maybe.  The statistics on crime all mixed.  Earlier I proposed running simulations on arming teachers as a way to get something more specific than generic crime.

But let's get back to the helmet.  If you drive your motorcycle recklessly because you think you're safe, am I harmed?  Well sure, I am harmed by the increase in recklessness if you cut me off and damage my bumper, but the fact that you get yourself killed is not a harm to me, ignoring psychic costs because those are potentially infinite and all-encompassing.

Now let's imagine that your recklessness is with a gun.  Shoot the bad guy?  Fine.  I'm not going to debate whether shooting someone who is stealing your wallet is okay (though if they're in your house, that's your house).  What about the misidentified person?  What about the strange thing that bullets don't hit a person and magically stop?  What about imperfect aim?

Notice how those all aren't your problem or the assailant's problem: they are the problem for everyone else.

Guns might help in a few specific situations.  They might cause harm in others.  These should be looked at altogether, rather than cherry-picking the one time when someone happened to be saved by one, or harmed by one.