My Job as the Economist Here Is to Do the Numbers...

Will Wilkinson: Why an Assault Weapons Ban Hits Such a Nerve With Many Conservatives https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/opinion/assault-rifle-ban.html: "They’ll tell you their foreboding 'predictions' of lethal resistance are really about preserving the means to protect the republic against an overweening, rights-stomping state. Don’t believe that, either. It’s really about the imagined peril of a multicultural majority running the show. Many countries that do more to protect their citizens against gun violence are more, not less, free than we are. According to the libertarian Cato Institute, 16 countries enjoy a higher level of overall freedom than the United States, and most of them ban or severely restrict ownership of assault weapons. The freedom to have your head blown off in an Applebee’s, to flee in terror from the bang of a backfiring engine, might not be freedom at all...

...I’m not too proud to admit that in my misspent libertarian youth, I embraced the idea that a well-armed populace is a bulwark against tyranny. I imagined us a vast Switzerland, hived with rifles to defend our inviolable rights against… Michael Dukakis? What I slowly came to see is that freedom is inseparable from political disagreement and that holding to a trove of weapons as your last line of defense in a losing debate makes normal ideological opposition look like nascent tyranny and readies you to suppress it.

So it’s no surprise that the most authoritarian American president in living memory, elected by a paltry minority, is not threatened in the least by citizen militias bristling with military firepower. He knows they’re on his side...


#noted #2019-10-06

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