Liberation From Fear in The Age of Trump 5: Gun Violence

1. Guns R Us

As I pointed out in the four earlier essays in this series, on poverty and economic oppression, on the job dilemma between either unemployment or shit jobs, on healthcare hell in the USA, and on cultural conflict and closed borders, 8 November 2016, the fateful day on which Donald Trump was elected President of the USA, was the dawning of The Age of Trump-POTUS.

The Age of Trump is going to last at least 4 years, and perhaps 8 years.

Now President-Elect Trump is adamantly and explicitly pro-gun and pro-Second Amendment.

But, guess what folks?

Gun violence results in thousands of deaths and injuries in the United States annually.[1] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, there were 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries (23.23 per 100,000 U.S. citizens);[2] 11,208 homicides (3.5 per 100,000);[3] 21,175 suicides;[4] 505 deaths due to accidental/negligent discharge of a firearm; and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with “undetermined intent”,[4] included in a total of 33,636 deaths due to “Injury by firearms”,[4] or 10.6 deaths per 100,000 people.[4] Of the 2,596,993 total deaths in the US in 2013, 1.3% were related to firearms.[1][5] The ownership and control of guns are among the most widely debated issues in the country.

In 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 67% of all homicides in the U.S. were committed using a firearm.[6] According to the FBI, in 2012, there were 8,855 total firearm-related homicides in the US, with 6,371 of those attributed to handguns.[7] In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides.[8] In 2010, there were 19,392 firearm-related suicides, and 11,078 firearm-related homicides in the U.S.[9] In 2010, 358 murders were reported involving a rifle while 6,009 were reported involving a handgun; another 1,939 were reported with an unspecified type of firearm.[10]

Firearms were used to kill 13,286 people in the U.S. in 2015, excluding suicide.[11] Approximately 1.4 million people have been killed using firearms in the U.S. between 1968 and 2011.[11]

In 2010, gun violence cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $516 million in direct hospital costs.[12]

Gun violence is most common in poor urban areas and frequently associated with gang violence, often involving male juveniles or young adult males.[13][14] Although mass shootings have been covered extensively in the media, mass shootings account for a small fraction of gun-related deaths[15] and the frequency of these events steadily declined between 1994 and 2007, rising between 2007 and 2013.[16][17]

(Source: “Gun Violence in the United States”)

President-Elect Trump, who received 46.3% of the popular vote, is a billionaire — a greedy, ruthless billionaire.

So for most people, the act of supporting Trump, and voting for Trump, was what is called internalizing your oppressor: kissing the foot of the person who is stepping on your head.

The gun and ammunition industry in the USA is BIG business, with an annual revenue of $13.5 billion USD.

So do you really think that, over the next 4 or 8 years, Trump and all the other rich people in the Trump governing elite are even going to attempt to fix the problem of gun violence in the USA?

Hell no. Of course not.

So, for as long as Trump is POTUS and nothing is done to fix the problem of gun violence in the USA we’re all constantly at risk of being coerced or killed by guns.

2. Against Guns

I’m now going to argue that

· not only (i) owning or possessing and using guns, but also (ii) the Second Amendment, are both rationally unjustified and immoral.

In order to do that, however, and for clarity’s sake, I’ll quickly introduce some terminology.

By coercion I mean:

· either (i) using violence (e.g. injuring, torturing, or killing) or the threat of violence, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (primary coercion), or (ii) inflicting appreciable, salient harm (e.g. imprisonment, termination of employment, large monetary penalties) or deploying the threat of appreciable, salient harm, even if these are not in themselves violent, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (secondary coercion).

So all coercion is manipulation.

Therefore, whether it is primary or secondary, coercion should be carefully distinguished from what I will call minimal sufficiently effective, last resort, defensive, protective, and preventive moral force:

· As a last resort, only either using the smallest sufficiently effective level of violence or threat of violence, or deploying the smallest sufficiently effective threat of appreciable, salient harm, in order to defend against, protect against, or prevent, oneself or someone else being primarily or secondarily coerced, or having their rational human dignity directly violated.

All human persons, aka people, are

· absolutely intrinsically, non-denumerably infinitely valuable, beyond all possible economics, which means they have dignity, and (ii) autonomous rational animals, which means they can act freely for good reasons, and above all they are (iii) morally obligated to respect each other and to be actively concerned for each other’s well-being and happiness, as well as their own well-being and happiness.

Therefore it is rationally unjustified and immoral to undermine or violate people’s dignity, under any circumstances.

People have dignity as an innate endowment of their rational humanity.

Dignity is neither a politically-created right, nor an achievement of any sort.

Nor can anyone lose their dignity by thinking, choosing, or acting in a very morally or legally bad way.

The primary function of guns is for their owners/possessors or users to manipulate, threaten, or kill other people for reasons of their own, namely, coercion.

That coercion really and truly is the primary function of guns, is clearly proven by the history of firearms.

Indeed, that coercion really and truly is the primary function of guns is even explicitly stated by the history of guns provided by the American Firearms Institute, who of course would be exceptionally unwilling to admit anything they thought would be somehow prejudicial to the pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment movement.

Notice that I said that the primary function of guns is coercion.

Please do not let the fact that guns can have secondary or tertiary functions, say, for hunting non-human animals, or for recreational shooting, or for holding doors closed on windy days, conceptually confuse you.

Notice too, that if it turns out that owning/possessing and using guns according to their primary function is rationally unjustified and immoral, then owning/possessing and using guns according to their secondary and tertiary functions will be equally rationally unjustified and immoral.

If it is rationally unjustified and immoral for you to own/possess and use a bomb that would blow up the Earth, then it is equally rationally unjustified and immoral for you to own/possess and use that bomb for hunting non-human animals, for recreational bombing, or for holding doors closed on windy days.

Now arbitrarily coercing other people is rationally unjustified and immoral because it undermines and violates their dignity.

Notice that I said “arbitarily coercing other people.”

That means manipulating, threatening, or killing other people

· either (i) for no good reason,

· or (ii) for no reason at all, much less a good reason.

“For no good reason” does not imply that there could be a good reason for coercion: all manipulation is inherently bad.

People who act coercively either have bad motivating reasons for so acting (e.g., selfishness), or simply coerce without a reason, in a spontaneously bad way.

And please do not let the fact that in some circumstances minimal sufficiently effective, last-resort, defensive, protective, and preventive moral force is rationally justified and morally permissible, conceptually confuse you.

Defending and protecting yourself or others from bad things aimed at you, or preventing bad things from happening to yourself or others, is not coercion.

Therefore, since it fully permits arbitrary coercion, owning/possessing and using guns is rationally unjustified and immoral, other things being equal.

Notice, again, that I said other things being equal.

Please do not let the fact that under some special critical (in the sense of “involving a crisis”) conditions, when other things are not equal, when all else has failed, and when the only way to stop someone doing something horrendously immoral, and in direct violation of human dignity — e.g., rape, torture, murder, mass murder, genocide — to you, to someone else, or to many other people, that it is rationally justified and morally permissible to use a gun for the purposes of minimal sufficiently effective, last-resort, defensive, protective, and preventive moral force against that evil person, conceptually confuse you.

No one may permissibly own or possess a gun, but sometimes, under some special critical conditions, it is morally permissible to use one.

But this permissible use is only for last-resort, defensive, preventive, and protective purposes: it is never morally permissible to use a gun for coercion.

One very important moral and political consequence of the preceding argument is its direct bearing on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which says this:

· A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In other words, focusing on the material in boldface, the Second Amendment says that “the people,” i.e., all Americans, have the moral and legal right “to keep and bear arms,” i.e., the moral and legal right to own/possess and use guns, unconditionally.

This means that the Second Amendment fully morally and legally permits arbitrary coercion.

The further historical question of whether the original intention of the Second Amendment was to establish a legal right to own/possess and use guns for militias only, or for all Americans, is irrelevant.

But arbitrary coercion is rationally unjustified and immoral.

Therefore the Second Amendment is rationally unjustified and immoral.

More generally, no one, which includes all Americans, and which especially includes all members of the police and the army, i.e., the “Militia,” has the moral right “to keep and bear arms,” i.e., to own/possess and use guns, other things being equal.

3. Universal Basic Income, Fifteen-Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs, Eco-Jobs, Universal Free Healthcare, Two-Phase Universal Open Borders, and Universal No-Guns

According to The Wake The Fuck Up! Party , aka The WTFU Party, and its Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal:

· Anyone 21 years of age or over and living permanently in the USA, who has a personal yearly income of $50,000.00 USD or less, and who is capable of requesting their UBI, would receive $25,000.00 USD per year, with no strings attached.

Over and above UBI, The WTFU Party is also proposing a Fifteen Hour Workweek for Understaffed Non-Bullshit Jobs (FHW-for-UNBJs), which says:

· Anyone 18 years of age or older who is living permanently in the USA, who has completed a high school education, and is mentally and physically capable of doing a job, would be offered an eco-job, paying a yearly wage of $25,000.00 USD, for fifteen hours of work (three 5-hour days) per week.

So anyone 21 years of age or older with a high-school degree and who is also mentally and physically capable of working, would have a guaranteed yearly income of at least $50,000.00 USD if they chose to do an eco-job.

***

Here are a few more details about UBI and eco-jobs.

(i) The UBI is to be paid by a monthly stipend check.

(ii) Eco-job income is not taxed.

(iii) For all individual yearly incomes of $50,000.00 USD or under, no tax will be levied; hence for someone receiving their UBI and also doing an eco-job, no income tax will be levied.

(iv) For all individual non-eco-job incomes, for every $1.00 USD earned above the standard UBI of $25,000.00 USD, the monthly UBI stipend is reduced by 50 cents, until the recipient’s UBI is reduced to zero; hence for those individuals with yearly non-eco-job incomes equal to or under $50,000.00 USD, the maximum UBI + non-eco-job income sum is always $50,000.00 USD.

(v) For all individual yearly incomes over $50,000.00 USD, for every $10,000.00 USD earned, that surplus income is taxed at the rate of 1%, with the highest surplus income tax rate being 50%; hence the maximum surplus 50% tax rate starts at individual yearly incomes of $550,000.00 USD, and applies to all higher surplus incomes.

***

In addition to UBI and FHW-for-UNBJs, The WTFU Party is also proposing Universal Free Healthcare (UFH), which says:

· Every human person living permanently in the USA will receive free lifelong healthcare.

And The WTFU Party is also proposing Universal Open Borders (UOB), in two phases:

· Phase 1: Starting in 2021, there will be universal open borders with Canada and Mexico, and everyone who moves across those borders and then claims residence in the USA, will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs, eco-jobs, and UFH in the USA, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents to depend on the current availability of (i) adequate funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the USA, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

· Phase 2: Also starting in 2021, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will collectively form a Global Refugee Consortium (GRC), with three-way open borders to any political refugee, economic refugee, or asylum seeker from anywhere in the world (aka “global refugees”), who will receive temporary or permanent residence in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, and also full membership in the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs, eco-jobs, and UFH in the three GRC countries, with the precise number of new temporary or permanent residents, and the precise distribution of new residents among the three members of the GRC, to depend on the current availability of (i) funding for UBI, eco-jobs, and UFH , and (ii) adequate living accommodation, in the three GRC countries, provided that all new residents also fully respect the human dignity of everyone else in the GRC and elsewhere in the world.

Finally, and most importantly for the purposes of this essay, The WTFU Party is also proposing Universal No-Guns (UNG), which says:

· No one in the USA, including police, internal security forces of all kinds, armies, and intelligence forces of all kinds, has the moral right to possess or use guns of any kind, for any purpose whatsoever, because the primary function of guns is coercion, and coercion is immoral.

· UNG would be implemented by repealing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 2021 and then universally banning the possession or use of guns thereafter.

Many countries already seriously restrict the possession and use of guns, with significant benefits for all involved; therefore UNG would radically extend and increase those benefits.

It is of course obvious that UNG would have to be implemented in very carefully-designed stages, so as to ensure a non-violent, safe transition from gun-free sub-zone1 to gun-free sub-zone2, etc.

Whenever I describe the very idea of UNG to American acquaintances and friends–including the most thoughtful, open-minded, left-leaning, or politically radical among them–they initially or typically get a wide-eyed, horrified look on their faces, shake their heads convulsively, and say that repealing the Second Amendment is “impossible.”

As they do this, I’m vividly reminded of the mind-controlled characters in The Manchurian Candidate who, when questioned, automatically intone that “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life,” even when they know in their hearts that this is completely false.

So it is important to point out explicitly what every American already knows in their hearts, namely, that there is a perfectly clear and effective democratic procedure for repealing Constitutional Amendments; and that other Amendments have actually been repealed: so in that sense, repealing the Second Amendment is actually easy and not in any way “impossible.”

The people of the USA created and instituted the Second Amendment; and the repeal process is written into the Constitution itself; therefore, the people of the USA can repeal the Second Amendment.

The WTFU Party knows full well that pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment people are very apt to fulminate against those who disagree with them, in an attempt to silence the anti-gun “public enemies,” even to the point of threatening to shoot them, or actually shooting them.

But that these pro-gun, pro-Second-Amendment people would be willing to shoot people for disagreeing with them and rationally defending the contrary, in view of the First Amendment, which politically protects freedom of expression, only provides a further self-evident proof of the political goodness and rightness of UNG.

4. Two Decisive Reasons for Implementing UNG Together With UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs, Eco-Jobs, UFH, and Two-Phase UOB

First, although it is true that, under the system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs, eco-jobs, UFH, and two-phase UOB, no one would ever suffer from poverty or economic oppression again, no one who is capable of working and who wants to work would ever be unemployed again, no one would ever suffer from healthcare hell again, and no one would ever suffer from cultural conflict and the pathology of closed borders again, nevertheless, if UNG were not implemented starting in 2021, then everyone living permanently in the USA would still be constantly at risk of being coerced or killed by guns.

Second, under the collective system of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJS, eco-jobs, UFH, two-phase UOB, and UNG, not only would no one ever suffer from poverty or economic oppression again, not only would no one who is capable of working and who wants to work ever be unemployed again, forever, not only would healthcare hell in the USA would be ended forever, and not only would cultural conflict and the pathology of closed borders in the USA be ended forever, but also gun violence in the USA would be ended forever.

5. Two Things You Can Do Right Now

In order to make UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs, eco-jobs, UFH, two-phase UOB, and UNG a reality, you can do these two things right now:

  • Publicly demand The WTFU Party’s version of UBI, FHW-for-UNBJs, eco-jobs, UFH, two-phase UOB, and UNG

That’s only four years away.

Only four years away from no more fear of being coerced or killed by guns, forever.

Mr Nemo, Nowhere, NA, 12 December 2016

***

The WTFU Party is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, aka PWB, which is home-based on Patreon here. The WTFU Party and all the sub-projects of PWB are supported entirely by the generosity of patrons who think that the world would be a little bit worse if projects like these didn’t exist.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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