Of Laws and Men

Recently on my friend Brad Torgersen’s Facebook page, an anti-civil-rights advocate presumed to educate us by telling us that no one wanted to reduce the gun-owning rights of the law-abiding, only the criminals. When we didn’t kowtow to his massive wisdom he challenged us to tell him what effect new “sensible laws” would have on law-abiding citizens.

Of course, the answer was “all of the effects they might have.” The original commenter didn’t seem to get that. This is emblematic of what leftists can’t grasp about laws: that laws aren’t magical and words don’t compel obedience.

Look, in my day job I write science fiction and fantasy. I can write a world in which laws can’t be disobeyed; where a law passed by our legislature has the same force as the laws of physics. (Of course, it would be a pretty boring world for stories, unless I find a way for someone to break that effect.) But I also know, as most people have to know who work in fantasy universes for a living, that this is not in point of fact the world we live in.

If — in the world we live in — laws compelled obedience in and of themselves, murder would be unheard of since almost every human society since the dawn of time has had a law against it.

And yet murder, theft, and all the other lawbreaking imaginable still happen, which proves to us it is possible for people to ignore and contravene the law.

Sometimes, in fact, you have to ignore and contravene the law to survive. The black markets in various communist countries sprang up not out of the contrariness of the citizens, but because it was vital for survival. (And this is why capitalism is not an economic system. It is simply what the sub-race of apes that call themselves homo sapiens does. We trade for the goods we need. When stupid governments possessed of fantasy ideas try to regulate that, it works about as well as regulating rain. The real commerce just goes underground and becomes a black market.)

But the left piously believes in laws and that laws have the power to change people’s behavior. It’s part of their fanatical devotion to a society organized by the numbers and from the top down.

So when things go wrong – as they will, since the world is still inhabited by humans, and humans are still fallible – they say “there ought to be a law.”

Look at where this has got us, in child care, for instance. Do children get beaten to death? We should make it illegal to even give your child a smack on the behind. Do children get kidnapped while walking to school? Well, no child shall walk alone. Children get into horrible accidents on their bikes and get mangled? Your three-year-old shall have a safety helmet to ride his tricycle in the yard. Coming soon, I’m sure: Children fall down? There ought to be a law that children have to wear helmets while walking.

But the end result of this is always the same. Yeah, sure, suburban parents who are scared to death of having their children taken away now have an almost impossible burden to raise their one child and can’t even think of two, but you know what? In isolated and dysfunctional communities, be they rural or urban, kids will continue to get beaten and neglected. Why? Because their parents don’t care about the laws.

This is getting to the point of ridiculousness, where everything is regulated to the nth degree, and yet – shockingly – people who break the law don’t care about how many new laws there are. It’s the rest of the society that’s being twisted and crippled.

So, take guns. If you make it illegal to own guns, some number of Americans will turn in their guns (I almost want to say would have turned in their guns, since at this point I don’t think anyone is that naïve, but all the same) and leave themselves defenseless, because they’re good people who are horrified at the idea of doing something illegal.

But will your gang banger turn in his guns? Why? What he’s already doing is so illegal that doing it with a gun is irrelevant. If he’s already selling drugs and engaged in gang warfare, why would owning a gun scare him?

And that’s what we keep coming up against. The left’s certainty that if we just pass the RIGHT law then people will stop using guns inappropriately, or beating their children, or anything else the left hates has been driving them ever zanier since the Parkland shooting.

Take a look at the meme above, which has been making the rounds of social media. What do they think they’re saying, even? Do they really think it’s not illegal to shoot at humans with any size magazine? Do they think the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is the entire body of U.S. law? No, of course they don’t, but they think there should be some kind of a law, and if the law we have against murdering people doesn’t prevent crazy people from shooting up schools, then we obviously need more laws. More laws. More and more laws, because somewhere lies the magical word that makes all this stop and brings about paradise.

They’re by and large decent people – the followers, not the leaders – who really want everyone to live in harmony, and since they wouldn’t dream of breaking laws, then it must be a matter of finding the right law to fix everything.

Only the world is not full of people who are terrified of breaking laws, and all their piling on of laws against gun owners does is leave the law-abiding defenseless before the lawless.

To have these people learn the error of their ways in a practical fashion will only destroy the world for the rest of us. And besides, judging from Europe, they’ll never learn. They’ll just refuse to admit their plan failed and pile on more laws and more regulatory bodies, till someone’s whole job is regulating the curvature of a banana. (You only wish that were euphemistic.)

So we need to educate them. We need to educate them better when they’re younger. We need to teach them history and psychology. Not the stuff edited by their own luminaries, who are as blinkered as they are, but real history and real psychology. And we need to teach them how humans are now and have always been lawless animals. We can’t be tamed, we can’t be domesticated, and even in the most oppressive regimes devised there will never be enough to make everyone obey. There are dissidents even in places where dissidence costs you your life. There are black markets where the regimes punish them and spend most of their time suppressing them. Because when the alternative is death, humans are really good at breaking the law.

So all laws passed, everywhere affect only the law-abiding. And even the law-abiding stop being so when life is at stake.

The answer to “Your gun is now illegal” is always, in practicality “Says you and whose army?” and “Come and get it!”