Prohibition Works (Sometimes)

Any analogy between prohibition of drugs and that of firearms is fundamentally fallacious. The desire to experience altered states of consciousness is (at least for a segment of the population) a primary drive that cannot be satisfied by other means*. Like any primary drive, people will seek to fulfill it regardless of the difficulty and penalties entailed. The desire to own firearms is a secondary or probably tertiary drive, i.e., it serves more fundamental drives (e.g., for safety, for power, “independence” etc.) that can themselves be met in any number of ways.

If you doubt this, simply look at the data. Drug prohibition has failed (to varying degrees) everywhere it’s been introduced, in that rates of use typically don’t significantly decline and the deleterious societal consequences of use (drug-related violence, untreated addiction) always increase. Firearms prohibition has succeeded (to varying degrees) in every case, as measured by rates of “use” (i.e. ownership) and the consequences of ownership (gun violence).

There are many complex issues facing American society, but this isn’t one of them. I truly sympathize with the vast majority of responsible gun owners who would be deprived of something they value because a tiny minority can’t handle their shit – I don’t minimize that loss. But I don’t think anyone would argue its tantamount to the loss of of life we saw yesterday. I’d love to have faith that we can address the underlying issues (widespread alienation from self and community, fetishization of violence, etc.) – and indeed, I believe we have no choice but to address those issues if we’re to survive much longer – but as an immediate palliative, the data are unambiguous that drastically curtailing access to firearms will drastically reduce the likelihood of what happened yesterday recurring.
*meditation and certain other forms of psychospiritual practice notwithstanding

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.