O.P. Recommends: Texas Picked an Ominous Date to Arm Its Public Colleges, by Rosa A. Eberly

Charles Whitman's rifles and sawed-off shotgun used in University of Texas massacre of 8-1-1966, image free use under CCA 3.0As you may know, dear reader, I’ve long expressed deep concerns over my country’s obsession with guns, over the widespread conviction that guns are the solution to many problems that the proliferation of guns, in fact, manifestly worsens. We’re so awash in guns, culturally and historically, that we take them for granted and forget that there are other possible ways to live. Even the fact that high rates of gun ownership rarely correlate now or throughout history with relatively low rates of gun deaths, be it by state or country, doesn’t seem to matter. Our culturally-induced intuition that bad guys with guns will behave themselves out of fear of good guys with guns seems to render the preponderance of available evidence irrelevant, time after time after bloody time. There’s a particularly telling illustration of this going on right now, as Rosa Eberly writes in her recent piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education:

‘In what appears to be an audacious act of public forgetting, a controversial Texas campus-carry law allowing concealed guns in university buildings is scheduled to take effect on Monday, August 1, the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas tower shootings.

The first mass murder on a U.S. college campus, the tower shootings left 14 people dead, plus the gunman, and more than 30 wounded. As in other more recent examples of mass gun violence, the shooter first used deadly force in a domestic setting — he killed his wife and mother before ascending the tower with an arsenal…’

I dearly hope the students that don’t suffer the possible worst consequences of this very dangerous social experiment. But the evidence of history gives us very good reasons to worry that they will.

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O.P. Recommends: Make it Stop, a Boston Globe Piece on Banning Assault Weapons

Assault rifle, image CC0 Public Domain, no attribution required, via PixabayI came across the link to this article on Leiter Reports, one of my go-to forums for news and ideas in the philosophy world, by Brian Leiter. Thanks for the share, Brian!

The Boston Globe editorial ‘Make it Stop‘ contains statistics on deaths inflicted by assault rifle, a list of senators who block gun control reform, and an essay on modern gun culture and how much has changed since the passage of the Second Amendment. You may find it helpful if you believe, as I do, that we Americans need to change some of our policies and attitudes about guns.

I believe a ban or serious restriction on assault weapons not only would save some lives, it would show how much we value the lives of our fellow Americans. And even if a ban on assault weapons fails to stop mass shootings since they may still be acquired illegally, I believe that signaling our moral commitment to protecting innocent lives, to each other and to the world, is a worthy goal in and of itself. Especially given that there’s no good reason for most civilians to own assault rifles that I can see. They give us no significant protection in case our own government turns tyrannical (the most paranoid among us think it already has) since those who promote Second Amendment literalism tend to be those who vote to keep our military and our police forces among the largest and most powerful in the world, the most well-equipped, and the most omnipresent. And for those who insist their rights to their fun little gun hobby takes precedence over all… well, I question their priorities.

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!