Friday, March 27, 2009

On Guns and Governments

I was wondering the other day about guns and government.

The 2004 Democratic National Platform for America's strategy for keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists goes like this:

• lock away existing nuclear weapons and material
• stop the creation of new nuclear material for nuclear weapons
• lead international efforts to shut down nuclear efforts in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere

I could be wrong, but the principle underlying these steps seems to be something like "make it difficult to access things that have massive destructive power".

What I, at face value, interpret to be the principle of the matter also seems to me like it could be the basic motivation behind some of the gun control policies that DNC members advocate.

And to me, details about gun policy aside, the principle seems basic and intuitive enough.

I personally intend to keep any firearms present in my house at any given time secure. It just seems foolish to leave things that have massive destructive power lying around, easy to access, and easy to operate.

I began wondering the other day whether, in addition to nuclear weapons and personal firearms, there are other things this principle might apply to.

What's even more destructive than guns or tanks, and gosh, what could be more destructive than nuclear weapons?

The old adage "guns don't kill people, people kill people" came to mind. But instead of reflecting on it and drawing the conclusion that guns are therefore harmless and shouldn't be controlled, I reflected on the fact that people are the ones who have manufactured guns, tanks, and nuclear weapons, and it is only by human beings that those things are used to destruct. Humans are responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all the other historical nuclear detonations and accidents. Humans are responsible for every armed robbery, every homicide, and even every accidental injury resulting from a firearm. Guns, tanks, and nuclear weapons are all pretty destructive, but human beings are the most powerful things on this planet, and are therefore the most capable of destruction.

"Yes, the DNC is right about nuclear weapons" I thought. But I went on to reflect on just how much more destructive large powerful human organizations can be.

So what would it look like to apply this principle to organizations of people?

I'm not talking about organizations that are currently oppressive, just like the DNC isn't talking about nuclear weapons that have already been fired. I'm talking about preventing organizations from being big, powerful, and easy to operate just like the DNC is talking about preventing nuclear weapons from being common, powerful, and easy to operate. And just like the DNC wants to lock away nuclear material and prevent more weapons from being made, should we too want to prevent larger organizations from being constructed?

So which organizations are the biggest and most powerful? Which, even though they might be docile now, are the most capable of destruction? How can we mitigate against their growth in size, and most importantly, power? How can we keep them from becoming easier to operate, and swifter to act?

Do you have any ideas? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. by the way, i read this the other day. i had no ideas. i had no thoughts.



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