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The social scientists ride again

Those concerned with legislative attempts to alter society may find this article on cnn.com interesting. It concerns recent and current efforts to have toy guns outlawed because they are sometimes used to commit real crimes. Even worse, the perpetrators of toy gun crimes sometimes end up really dead when their victim turns out to be a cop who reacts by defending himself with lethal force.

Surprisingly, the idea was discussed that the real issue is not the prop used but the criminal intent of the assailant. Personally, I take that as a given. If a perpetrator knowingly engages in an illegal activity it does not matter what is chosen as the crime enabler of choice. While it may engender discussion, the issue is not the criminal misuse of toy guns.

The real issue is why do lawmakers want to remove toys resembling guns from society?

The immediate answer is social engineering. This is a conclusion reached not only through logical thinking, but also through the words of the two city councilmen who have introduced a bill to ban toy guns in New York. One likens toy guns to toy cigarettes. Given the increasingly pervasive and invasive bans on smoking, it is not hard to see where that leads. The other, Albert Vann, is even more blatant when he states

“If they use toy guns there’s a greater chance they’ll graduate to the real thing when they grow up.”

Clearly, it’s not about the toys. It’s not even about the crime. It is about changing society one culturally legislating law at a time.

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3 comments to The social scientists ride again

  • Crosbie Smith

    They even admit it:

    “The support of the judicial system is needed in delivering meaningful sentences if a real impact on gun culture is to be made,” said the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John Stevens.

    Surely that should read ‘gun crime‘?

  • One obvious problem with heavily punishing criminals who carry fake guns is that this reduces their incentive to not carry real guns.

    If you’re going down for ten years anyway, fake weapon or real weapon, if you get caught, obviously you take a real shooter along so as to be less likely to get caught.

  • Sweet Lou

    Samizdata, your disapproving tone is both disrespectful and offensive.

    While social engineering has made great strides, much good work remains to be done in this area. My wife and I pride ourselves in providing our children with a toy-gun free environment. This is difficult to do, I assure you, and it is with some pride that I write of our accomplishments. Furthermore, the children play only in other gun-free environments, and the two nursury schools that my eldest son attends are gun free.

    Imagine my horror when at the park yesterday my eldest son picked up a branch and used it as a play gun!

    Some may call Austin a progressive city, but much remains to be done before such a title may be applied objectively. Specifically:

    –Branches, sticks, and all sources of same, such as trees or shrubs, should be removed from child play areas, as well as all areas where children might be expected to be. At the minimum, park personnel should do whatever it takes to ensure that such items are not available to children.

    –Construction materials, specifically wood, are also often used as pretend guns by children. Hardware stores should be prohibited from selling such items to children under twenty-one, and purchasers should be required to guarantee in writing that pieces of wood will not be made available to children under twenty-one.

    Need I note the other dangers to children from these items? Did your mother never warn you not to run with a pointed stick? Well, given the snide tone of your blog in particular, perhaps not. Probably because she didn’t really love you all that much. As for my wife and I, our love for our children makes no task to great a burden. I have called landscaping contractors to remove all trees from our property — one more step towards providing a safe environment for our most precious assets.