[F]or two strong and opposite conclusions drawn from limited empirical evidence, see Mark Duggan (“More Guns, More Crime”, Journal of Political Economy, 2001), and John Lott (“More Guns, Less Crime”, University of Chicago Press, 2000)
Gary Becker and Richard Posner tackle the issue of gun control in the wake of the NIU shootings, and they seem to agree that perhaps we can tax murderers out of the market. This is quite similar to a proposal made by the noted economist Chris Rock, and perhaps a tax is in fact the fastest route to the heart of, say, Gov. Blagojevich. Posner goes on to note, in the naive language of legal scholarship: “Moreover, it is apparent that a vast number of Americans like guns, rather than thinking of them merely as instruments of self-protection.” That America is neck-deep in gun mythology is a considerably more profound and difficult problem that Posner doesn’t really have an answer for.
It did, however, remind me of the book I happened to start last week, Oakley Hall’s Warlock, and its outstanding introduction by Robert Stone, which cites the following passage from Richard Slotkin (Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln):
“In American mythogenesis the founding fathers were not those eighteenth-century gentlemen who composed a nation at Philadelphia. Rather they were those who (to paraphrase Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!) tore violently a nation from implacable and opulent wilderness–the rogues, adventurers, and land-boomers; the Indian fighters, traders, missionaries, explorers, and hunters who killed and were killed until they had mastered the wilderness . . . .”
Stone concludes: “America, aspiring toward her self-generated pseudo-myths, remains a prisoner of her deepest true ones.”
Update: If the future of public radio is gory, contextless pictures of horror, I’ll stick with WBEZ.