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When all else fails …

If all the approved policies fail, but a disapproved policy looks like it might work, then the disapproved policy is what might very well end up being done. Discuss.

While you’re discussing that, allow me to throw in this titbit of news, from the Czech Republic, which I encountered in the Washington Post:

Now the country’s interior ministry is pushing a constitutional change that would let citizens use guns against terrorists. Proponents say this could save lives if an attack occurs and police are delayed or unable to make their way to the scene. To become law, Parliament must approve the proposal; they’ll vote in the coming months.

From the bit linked to in that paragraph, this:

… it is not always possible for the police to guarantee a fast and effective intervention and fast action from a member of the public could prevent the loss of many lives.

Indeed.

Spotting Muslim terrorists is hard because so many Muslims behave like about-to-be-terrorists that it’s hard to know which ones to pick on and stop. And when one of them does strike, it could be anywhere, and the government can’t be everywhere. Only people can.

One of the bigger long term impacts of Muslim immigration into Europe could prove to be an armed European citizenry. Discuss some more.

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21 comments to When all else fails …

  • If all the approved policies fail, but a disapproved policy looks like it might work, then the disapproved policy is what might very well end up being done.

    Sadly, this is true even when the goal is “making the poor richer”, the disapproved policy is an earnings cap, and the reason voters think it looks like it might work is because “teh wealthy be hoardin’ all da monies”.

    Of course, this scenario also posits that policies that work are also disapproved, because they don’t give enough opportunities for graft.

  • Paul Marks

    The forces of the government can not be everywhere – people need to be able to defend themselves, AND DEFEND OTHER PEOPLE, against raiders (terrorists).

    It looks like the Czech government minister has come to the same conclusion that Charles the Bald did in France in the mid 800s (facing both Islamic and Viking raiders).

    Well good for the minister – I hope he succeeds in restoring this old right of self defence and the DEFENCE OF OTHERS.

    The reason I keep stressing the defence-of-other-people point is because some political philosophers, such as the late Thomas Hobbes, never consider the possibility of individuals defending other people (not just themselves).

  • staghounds

    Tyrants prefer murdered citizens to armed citizens.

  • QET

    Maybe the Arthur Conan Doyle approach is best: when you eliminate the impossible policies (a just conclusion based on actual evidence), then whatever policy options remain, no matter how improbable, must be tried.

  • John K

    One of the bigger long term impacts of Muslim immigration into Europe could prove to be an armed European citizenry.

    Not in Britain, I fear. Civilian disarmament has been in the institutional DNA of the British state since 1920, and it will take more than a few terrorist outrages to change that.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    John K

    So, I guess the next question is: How many is “more than a few”?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    John K, I have argued before that the only way strict gun control would be reversed in the UK is if something happens that no sane person could want, a collapse of civil order. Politicians all fear that if they put their name to any measure allowing people to carry guns, a massacre by someone who had legally obtained a gun as a result might happen the next week and they would get the blame. Which politician would dare make gun rights their signature issue with those sort of incentives?

    And yet. Some unexpected sea-changes in public attitudes have happened in the last year (not all of them to my liking). Maybe I need to revise my estimate of what is and is not politically possible.

  • bobby b

    I’ll guess that more than a few of you Europeans will look on this with some horror, but I consider the relatively high weapon-ownership rate of the USA one of the strengths of our system.

    Many of us hunt and target-shoot and what-all with them, but those are just happy incidents of gun ownership. The prime reason many of us own them is something else.

    Our Constitution makes it clear that all political power that exists in our country resides only in the actual people, and within that Constitution we parcel out specific incidents of power to our hired managerial staff to use for our benefit, and only for so long as it works to our benefit.

    An armed populace gives us two main benefits:

    1. We do not need to rely upon our hired managers as our only protection against threats such as hostile jihadis or criminals. Although they are quite good at cleaning up messes, investigating once the bodies have been removed, and issuing press releases, it is seldom possible for them to stop such attacks. They simply cannot be everywhere at once. As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

    2. Our managerial staff should never make the mistake of considering themselves to be in charge of us. Ultimately, should our staff and our people conflict, the people must prevail. Historically, the only way to ensure this is to maintain the people’s power to physically toss them out. Our Second Amendment makes it clear – to both us, and our staff – that we always retain the right to do so.

    An armed citizenry just makes relationships that much clearer. Y’all could do with more of that clarity.

  • William O. B'Livion

    In general the best way to stop a bad man with a weapon is to put a slightly less bad man with a weapon in his path.

    @Mr. Micklethwait:

    How many terrorist incidents happened in Britain during “the troubles”, and what were the response of the political and chattering classes vis-a-vis an armed citizenry?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex), January 10, 2017 at 5:39 pm: “Maybe I need to revise my estimate of what is and is not politically possible.”

    There is now discussion of our police being armed, i.e. routinely, all of them, e.g. in London. That discussion will prompt/compel admissions and discussions that will force many who have never thought about this to do so.

    Were that discussion to end in the overt, admitted end of Britain’s unarmed police, it will next be noticed that there are not enough police and they often arrive when it is over. It may then be asked: should some carefully-vetted civilians also be armed, to give better odds that terrorists meet someone who can do more than hide from them? And so things might go.

    Pointing out that ‘Our police are now armed – another bit of Britain we’ve lost (unfettered free speech was the first)’ might help revise what is politically possible. For sure, the “you can’t think that” of modern Britain will be stressed, but when ‘stressed’ will translate to ‘changed’ is hard to call.

    (I’d guess we will get our de-facto first amendment rights back before we get our de-facto second amendment rights back, because the first was very recently lost, the second longer-ago lost.)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    bobby b, I am sure your view would be looked on in horror by large majorities in the UK, but not by most of those commenting on this site. As for Europe, it’s complicated. The Swiss have a tradition of armed citizenry that equals that of the US. I regularly go to Belgium to shoot pistols. There’s quite a hunting tradition in Germany.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Niall Kilmartin,

    “I’d guess we will get our de-facto first amendment rights back before we get our de-facto second amendment rights back, because the first was very recently lost, the second longer-ago lost.”

    I like your optimism about the direction of travel!

    I agree that the prospects for the restoration of free speech are much better, but not only for the reason you say. There is also the simple fact that lots more people want to speak freely, and have already experienced or think it likely that they will experience a time when not being able to speak freely affects them adversely than do the same for armed self-defence.

    Another thing closer to Brian’s point: a lot of people have noticed that suppression of free speech has done harm (e.g. Rotherham as you have often said) and also that suppression hasn’t even done the good (i.e. promoting community cohesion) it was supposed to have done. More people now have a blanket hatred of Muslims than would have done if the subject of crime and terrorism among UK Muslims had been honestly discussed for the last two decades.

  • George Atkisson

    As I understand it, the EU is moving to make the actions of the Czech government illegal, and possibly demand the surrender of many of the firearms currently in civilian possession because the EU considers them assault rifles. There is a slight problem with enforcement of these rules, of course.

  • QET

    As I understand it, the EU is moving to make the actions of the Czech government illegal, and possibly demand the surrender of many of the firearms currently in civilian possession because the EU considers them assault rifles. There is a slight problem with enforcement of these rules, of course.

    Can’t wait until they send the Bundeswehr in to relieve the Czechs of their weapons. The EU was supposed to prevent that sort of thing from happening ever again, and yet 70 years on, here we are.

  • Richard Thomas

    Natalie, given the increasing ability of people to make their own weapons, I wonder whether a particularly helpful use of an illegally held weapon might also have the required effect.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Perhaps a trollish campaign to ‘promote’ gun control by (slanderously) emphasizing the irresponsibility and incompetence of the average European?

    “Wot? Give me mate Larry a gun? Don’t make me larf!”

    “My wife would only hurt herself with a gun.”

    “You’d let a German have a gun?”

    …and so on.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Armed Euro-peons? Armed with what? I think even Mace will soon be illegal! How soon before Britains will be allowed to own and use guns?

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Brian Micklethwait:
    Many thanks for a thought-provoking OP.

    I reckon that @Niall Killswallow sums up some of the relevant independent (non-political) arguments for civilian weaponry pretty well.

  • the other rob

    Can’t wait until they send the Bundeswehr in to relieve the Czechs of their weapons.

    Per Natalie’s mention of the Swiss, above there’s a (probably apocryphal) story that the Kaiser one asked the Swiss ambassador “What will your 50,000 militia do, if I march 100,000 infantry over the border?”. To which the ambassador replied “Shoot twice and go home.”

  • How many is “more than a few”?

    As soon as members of the political classes are among the victims, and not before.

  • John K

    Natalie:

    The points you make are valid.

    Having banned, say, pistols, it is hard for any politician to risk allowing pistol ownership again, because any subsequent misuse of pistols will be laid at his door.

    However, there is also the problem of “events, dear boy, events”. I suspect that the time will come when there will be some sort of major breakdown of order in Britain, possibly amounting to a civil war. In that event, the views of politicians will no longer be relevant, because they will no longer have power.

    Historically, in Britain we have felt that arms belong in the hands of the people. The current experiment in civilian disarmament has only existed since 1920. I do not think it will last forever.

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