Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Tie Between "Free Range" Kids And Guns

Gun advocates hang their hat on the claim that we're all in danger pretty much all the time from pretty much anyone, and people should carry guns in response to this paranoia. (Crime rates are actually quite low.) This attitude has resulted in more states passing laws that allow for more guns, despite clear evidence that tighter gun controls result in fewer gun deaths, a fact that keeps being lied about by pro-gun politicians.

As with most issues where people take a side, there is what I think is a largely subconscious effort to remain consistent to the declared principle(s) behind someone's stance. This fear of being seen as a hypocrite is strong because if an underlying bedrock reason for holding an opinion can be seen as being applied inconsistently, then the perceived support for the opinion becomes untenable.

One of the ways I think this has currently manifested itself has to do with children being able to be outside without parental supervision, most commonly on their way to and from school. This issue has become so prominent that a recently passed federal law permits kids to be outside on their own (but sadly doesn't supersede local laws.) The issue is part of what's called the "free range" movement, a unfortunately sad name that gives the impression that kids are to be equated with farm animals.

One case where this paranoia has made news is from a school in Texas that threatened parents with being arrested for trespassing for walking their own kids to school, letting alone having kids walk by themselves. The official claim for this bizarre policy is, of course, safety, the same claim made by gun advocates.

To me this is an attempt to remain consistent to the pro-gun idea that we're all in danger all the time. If kids are allowed to walk or ride their bikes to school on their own, there has to be an underlying understanding that they are safe in doing so, something that is counter to the pro-gun claim that we're not safe. So, in order to be consistent to pro-gun principles, kids getting to school on their own can't be allowed to happen.

We do ourselves such a disservice when we try to hold on to a declaration when we discover the basis for it has been removed or never existed. We should be open to the modification of our behavior and ideals based on evidence of what does us the most good, not what serves a false consistency to faulty claim.

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