What If Government Does Not Work?
Laws And Regulations Are No Guarantor Of Efficacy
Shout out to fellow Substack writer and commentator Sage Hana for suggesting this article.
In a discussion thread posted earlier today, Sage posited that the “fate of the world” will be decided by a few crucial US court cases:
But it occurs to me that the fate of the world may now hinge on a few judges scattered throughout the United States of America.
Certainly with Canada’s recent handgun ban legislation, and the vote by Canada’s Parliament to continue discriminatory and bigoted travel restrictions based on COVID-19 inoculation status, it requires no great leap of imagination to believe that authoritarianism in one form or fashion is very much on the rise, even among “liberal” political circles. Government, we are being told around the world, is the answer to just about everything.
But is it really?
Gun Bans Do Not Stop The Use Of Other Weapons
In the wake of the horrific Uvalde school shooting, politicians from the President on down are talking up the virtues of various gun bans, ranging from assault weapons to handguns. Such restrictions, we are assured, will end mass shootings and mass casualty events in this country. Gun control is claimed to be the best—indeed, the only means—to ending violence and violent crime.
But is that really likely?
Consider the following mass casualty events:
On April 15, 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated two pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring hundreds.
On July 14, 2016—Bastille Day— Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a rented truck into a crowd in Nice, France, gathered to watch a fireworks display. 86 people were killed
On April 7, 2017, a truck driver drove a beer delivery truck through a crowd in downtown Stockholm, Sweden, killing four and injuring 15.
None of these mass casualty events would be prevented by any sort of firearm control legislation, because firearms were not used in Boston or Stockholm, and while in Nice Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had a firearm with him, his primary weapon was still his vehicle.
In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tsarnaev brothers assembled their bombs from largely generic components, including the gunpowder explosive. How could any government possibly hope to regulate such materials?
Moreover, according to the FBI’s “Crime In The United States” survey report for 2019, in every state in the Union rifles of one kind are another were used only in a small minority of homicides. Hands and feet as well as knives are far more popular for committing murder than is a rifle.
Banning “assault weapons” would be ineffective against the vast majority of homicides, which are committed with all manner of weapon save an assault rifle. Even if one assumes that such prohibitions are an effective means of preventing the murders committed each year with the proscribed class of weapon—a dubious assumption at best—their potential impact on the homicide rate overall could never be anything more than marginal.
In fact, a study of a previous “assault weapons” ban in the United States, which lasted from 1994 through 2004, conceded that its impact was problematic and minimal at best.
Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.
How can any sort of weapons ban work when those who intend harm against another can simply choose another weapon?
The Cities With The Strictest Gun Laws Have The Highest Homicide Rate
When contemplating the practical efficacy of gun control legislation, one statistical reality that must be acknowledged straight away is that Mexican cities are demonstrably the most violent in the world, with the highest rates of homicide per capita.
This is significant, because Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world:
In the entire country, there is exactly one legally authorized gun dealer: the Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales in Mexico City.
Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution establishes a constitutional right to own firearms, but only those weapons allowed by the government, and even legally owned weapons can only be carried when and where the government allows.
Mexico bans ownership of rifle calibers larger than .30, and handgun calibers larger than .380—while also banning the .357 and 9mm parabellum calibers.
Specific carry licenses are required to carry firearms outside the home. Although the population of Mexico was ~112 million in 2014, only 4,300 carry licenses were issued for that year. Quite simply almost no private citizen in Mexico is allowed to carry firearms.
If the purpose of gun control legislation is public safety, Mexico’s gun control laws are a public failure. In cities such as Tijuana and Acapulco, government control of firearms is clearly not working.
Not Just Public Safety Failures, But Also Public Health
The Pandemic Panic Era has been notable for one thing: a near universal insistence on not just the propriety but also the efficacy of government mandates.
Yet time and again, coercive government diktat failed to produce the desired result: control and reduction of COVID-19.
From the beginning of the pandemic, coercive lockdowns failed everywhere they were tried.
Shanghai’s recent lockdown experience under China’s “Zero COVID” policy merely reiterates that failure of government edict to contain infectious disease.
In November of last year, Austria became the first European country to mandate COVID-19 inoculation, in addition to physical lockdown protocols.
“There are too many among us who haven’t shown solidarity,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said in Tyrol after meeting with provincial governors. “Raising the vaccination rate is the only way to break this vicious circle.”
Yet despite raising Austria’s inoculation rate from 64% on November 19 to 72-73% by February of this year, Austria’s COVID case rates rose and fell during the winter Omicron wave without any apparent impact from the inoculations.
Such failures of mandatory inoculation schemes were not confined to Austria. Mass inoculation has been an unmitigated failure everywhere at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Reality Check: Government Does Not Always Work
The tacit presumption behind all government laws and mandates is that of efficacy. Gun laws are supposed to control violent crime. Inoculation mandates and mandatory lockdown protocols are supposed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Government is supposed to “work”.
Yet time and again, the claimed efficacies are simply not there.
Mexican gun laws have not stopped murderous violence in Mexican cities.
China’s Zero COVID policies have had Zero Success at containing COVID-19.
Lockdown measures around the world failed to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 2020.
Inoculations mandates likewise failed to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 2021.
Merely passing a law or instituting a regulation does not guarantee that law or regulation will achieve the desired result. The examples of the failure of government regulation to achieve its stated goals go on far beyond the few I have detailed here. In virtually every arena where government chooses to wield authority, evidence exists highlighting the failure of that authority at solving problems.
Government does not always work. Some might argue that government never works.
The utility of government is therefore limited at best. The facts and the data are conclusive in this regard: government, like all human inventions, is imperfect. Sometimes it fails to measure up to the task put before it. We cannot look at the world around us and conclude otherwise.
Indeed, not only does government fail to measure up to the task at hand, but sometimes government goes completely wrong, and so the limited utility of government presents us with the moral necessity of limiting government.
Government does not always work. When it doesn’t, it falls to the people to fix what government breaks.