The 2nd Amendment Diet

Imagine ten hypothetical democratic and prosperous nations of the world, nine of which adhere to similar diets. The tenth nation follows a radically different diet than the others–it consumes far more sugar—and it alone suffers from an epidemic of obesity and obesity-related diseases.

This information alone is insufficient to conclude that the tenth (obese) nation MUST adopt the diet of the other nine nations if it wishes to solve its obesity problem. But if that nation were to consider consuming less sugar, it would be unreasonable to fault it for being simply wrong-headed. On the other hand, if that nation were to double-down and insist that the ONLY way to solve its obesity problem was the consumption of ever greater quantities of sugar, one might sensibly conclude that this nation is more attached to sugar than solving its obesity problem.

Okay, so…

It’s an analogy, and as such it’s limited. I get that.  And it’s stylized and hypothetical, and the real world isn’t so simple.   Sure.  I’m on board with that.   But when one considers the relatively unique role of the 2nd Amendment among democratic nations of the world as well as the U.S.’s  unique rates of gun ownership and gun violence–at least among advanced democracies–the analogy may be revealing about our oft-misguided way of thinking.

If the analogy is misleading in a significant way, please let me how.  I plan to continue using the analogy unless I’m persuaded it’s a faulty or weak analogy–but one cannot know that unless it’s first vetted a bit.

Go.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Michael Bailey
About Michael Bailey
Michael is Associate Professor of Government and International Studies at Berry College in Rome, GA. His academic publications address the American Founding, the American presidency, religion and politics, and governance in liberal democracies. He also writes on popular culture, and his articles on, among other topics, patriotism, Church and State, and Kurt Vonnegut, have been published in Prism and Touchstone. He earned his PhD from the University of Texas in Austin, where he also earned his BA. He’s married and has three children. He joined OTB in November 2016.

Comments

  1. Andy says:

    I think your analogy has a couple of major flaws. The first that many people won’t agree with the assumptions you’re implying, which is that more guns/sugar is inherently bad and less sugar/guns is inherently good:

    But when one considers the relatively unique role of the 2nd Amendment among democratic nations of the world as well as the U.S.’s unique rates of gun ownership and gun violence–at least among advanced democracies–the analogy may be revealing about our oft-misguided way of thinking.

    A non-trivial number of people in this country don’t agree that it’s “oft-guided.” They believe the 2nd Amendment is every bit as important as any other amendment or right. They believe that mass shootings can be addressed without limiting gun ownership rights. Based on this analogy people will assume you have a certain position on this issue and that you intend to frame the issue in such a way that there is only one logical choice. They will reject that framing.

    The second, bigger problem, is one of choice. Sugar in high quantities may be bad, but the government doesn’t ban sugar or regulate it in a way remotely similar to guns. So if you are going to use that analogy, be prepared for people to turn your analogy backward and say guns should be regulated like sugar – ie. minimally. The analogy suggests that expert opinion should not be turned into a government mandate, nor should it trump individual desires. And, people will naturally point out all the failed attempts to use government power to regulate sugar intake by individuals (soda taxes, drink size limits, etc.) and they will note that most of the “common sense” gun reforms that get repeated after every major shooting will, similarly, lack effectiveness.

    And what about moderation? Sugar in moderation is perfectly fine. An occasional sugar binge is perfectly fine. What does moderation look like when it comes to the 2nd amendment? What does an occasional “gun binge” look like?




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  2. @Andy:

    A non-trivial number of people in this country don’t agree that it’s “oft-guided.” They believe the 2nd Amendment is every bit as important as any other amendment or right. They believe that mass shootings can be addressed without limiting gun ownership rights.

    The thing is, though, that rights can be limited. Speech can be limited (commercial speech is regulated, as is libel, slander, and incitement).

    As such, the notion that guns cannot be regulated because of the 2A is simply wrong.

    And what about moderation? Sugar in moderation is perfectly fine. An occasional sugar binge is perfectly fine. What does moderation look like when it comes to the 2nd amendment? What does an occasional “gun binge” look like?

    Perhaps unfettered access to semi-automatic rifle with large capacities magazines is a bit bingey?




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  3. TM01 says:

    You assume that the ONLY difference among these nations is sugar intake.

    Also, next week Dietary Experts will tell us that more sugar is good for us. Because Settled Science and all that.




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  4. Hal_10000 says:

    This is … not a very good analogy. To show why, just extend it a bit. Over the last 20 years, the bad nation has consumed more and more sugar while seeing its weight go *down*. Maybe not as much as if it cut the sugar? Hard to tell at this stage.

    Pulling it out of the analogy, you also have the problem that the US leads the world in non-gun murders. In fact, our non-gun-murder rate on its own exceeds the total murder rate of most of our peer nations.




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  5. Michael Bailey says:

    @Hal_10000: Your first point is an especially good one.




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  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @TM01:

    You assume that the ONLY difference among these nations is sugar intake.

    Also, next week Dietary Experts will tell us that more sugar is good for us. Because Settled Science and all that.

    However, then we will find that the “Dietary Experts” Will have been funded by the National Sugar Association (NRSA) so they can continue to sell more and more sugar, even though it’s killing kids.




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  7. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The thing is, though, that rights can be limited. Speech can be limited (commercial speech is regulated, as is libel, slander, and incitement).

    As such, the notion that guns can be regulated because of the 2A is simply wrong.

    I assume you made a typo there and meant “cannot” in that final sentence.

    I think this, and the separate post you made in response, is a misreading or a strawman (or both). Stating that people believe the 2nd amendment “is every bit as important as any other amendment or right” is a statement of fact and not a statement that guns cannot be regulated. Obviously, guns can be regulated because they currently are regulated and have been for a very long time.

    The details and scope of the regulation or limitation obviously matter quite a bit. The obvious fact that rights have limitations and are subject to some amount of regulation doesn’t mean they are subject to any regulation.

    Perhaps unfettered access to semi-automatic rifle with large capacities magazines is a bit bingey?

    Hence the problem with the analogy. Everyone’s answer/opinion will be different.




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  8. @Andy: Thanks, yes, that should say “cannot” (and now does).

    I think this, and the separate post you made in response, is a misreading or a strawman (or both). Stating that people believe the 2nd amendment “is every bit as important as any other amendment or right” is a statement of fact and not a statement that guns cannot be regulated. Obviously, guns can be regulated because they currently are regulated and have been for a very long time.

    The thing is: this is what a lot of people saying. Again: look at the bump stock issue.

    Everyone’s answer/opinion will be different.

    Sure, and that’s politics. I fully get that.




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  9. gVOR08 says:

    There’s the old standby:

    Nothing can be done about this problem, says the only nation that has this problem.

    I can’t embed it, but look at the third chart here at VOX . It’s a simple plot of gun related deaths per 100,000 people v guns per 100 people. The US is all alone at top right at 100 guns per hundred and 10 gun deaths per 100,000. No one else comes close. Seems to get the point across to anyone who isn’t innumerate, blinded by ideology, or both.




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  10. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The thing is: this is what a lot of people saying. Again: look at the bump stock issue.

    A lot of people are saying what exactly? And the bump stock issue? What issue exactly? I’m not following you here.

    Sure, and that’s politics. I fully get that.

    Agreed. My original comment was about Michael’s analogy, I didn’t intend for it to spill over into a general discussion, not that there’s anything wrong with that.




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  11. Bookdragon says:

    I think using smoking and its accompanying health risks would make a more apt analogy.




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  12. Kathy says:

    1) Nutrition is an iffy subject. Beyond calorie intake vs calories expended, there’s no very certain indication about weight gain. I’d go for a different analogy, for example smoking and lung cancer.

    2) I think the problem of gun violence isn’t so much gun rights, but the availability of guns. Why, for instance, is it not too hard for convicted felons to obtain a gun? Because someone with a clean record can buy one for them, or because some other felons steal lawful guns and resell them in a black market. All that would be harder if guns weren’t so easily available.

    So how about, for example, making ti a misdemeanor to fail to report a stolen gun? Or a felony to buy a gun for someone who can’t pass a background check?




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  13. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    I can’t embed it, but look at the third chart here at VOX .

    I can already hear the gun apologist response: “Yeah, see, we’re not as bad as Argentina, so there’s nothing to see here. Move along.”




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  14. Christy says:

    I like your analogy as a response to those who argue that “the way to prevent deaths by guns is arm more people with guns.” Personally, the Parkland shooting made me determined to never use the word ban in relation to guns again. It will always ‘trigger’ a second amendment response, and although I don’t personally care about my right to own guns – I do care about things like free speech, etc. and would be upset with discussions about ‘banning’ or making illegal certain types of speech (I know you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater – but it is also illegal to shoot someone for fun). From now on, I think taxes are the way to go on guns. The National Firearms Act of 1934 placed a huge tax on the manufacture and transfer of things like machine guns and mandated a federal registration of those kinds of weapons. Let’s to do that again. Maybe even a property tax on guns. Taxes aren’t bans, we already do it for some weapons, let’s just do it some more.




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  15. teve tory says:

    Imagine if Obama had said that we should confiscate guns first and then have due process second.




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  16. Michael Bailey says:

    @teve tory:

    Imagine if Obama had said that we should confiscate guns first and then have due process second.

    I agree. It was very troubling, and the last thing proponents of reasonable gun control measures should seek is the appearance, whether real or imaginary, that they’re willing to subvert the Constitution for policy ends.




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