In March 2023, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser sent out a distress signal: “Protect Hawaii and our peaceful culture from tyranny of guns.” The Supreme Court’s Bruen decision had made it legal to carry firearms outside the home in all 50 states, and laws were pending to apply the ruling to Hawaii. “So, guns are coming,” warned the authors: to churches, schools, shopping malls and restaurants. Between “this dystopian future” and Hawaii’s peaceful traditions there were few remaining options. – Time Essay
Time Magazine, a location I once and on certain subjects still do consider an authority and source for quality information has fallen here. Like NPR, Time authors and editors refuse to acknowledge a fundamental human truth.
Violence is useful.
Violence has value. Violence is and has always been a method, for good, ill, and indifferent, of getting wants and necessities. Violence is just as much a tool of the developed world as the primitive corners. Violence is the only thing that ultimately backs law. The Force of Law is violence.
Progressive, usually highly affluent and first-world, spaces like to pretend that the worlds choice are not backed by violence. Even as we are re-stone-aging Houthi’s and other Iranian proxies in the Middle East and sending a stream of weapons to Ukraine to grind away Putin’s warfighting capacity to something NATO need not concern themselves with, progressive spaces seem to disassociate that reality from the local scaled variations of the same reality. Realities that have always been. Realities that still are, even if we all pretend to be nice about these things because we are ‘cultured’ or ‘democratic’. This dismisses the full availability for someone to go counter culture to the democratic choice, to change their minds, to not play by the rules, and to do so violently if they want.
It is a choice and it was available long before the invention of the firearm.
Guns have not brought tyranny to the United States, Time. Guns are merely the current simplest method to project a level of force. What we see thanks to technology, is all the places and ways that force is and always has been projected. Some of those ways upset us greatly because we like to pretend we are ‘beyond’ them.
The oversimplification to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of things like race, economics, religion, culture, and violence as a tool in society have regressed us. The selective marginalization by oversimplification various topics in the name of ‘equity’ or ‘inclusivity’ continue to highlight that if we do not respect the complexity of the issues we make things worse, not better. Our intentions of bettering things do not matter much if the resultant state is worse.
The Time essay specifically calls out Hawaii’s fear of a “dystopian future” now that the tyranny of the freedom to buy and carry a firearm has been thrust upon them but…Hawaii Murder/Homicide Rate 1979-2018
It’s almost like Hawaii was following the national trends on violent crime, to include homicide, along with everywhere else before Bruen. Everywhere else includes places where carry has been normal for decades. It is highly unlikely this will change very much after Bruen, because that isn’t how legal carry and legal restrictions work on violent crime. When adjusted for the fact that Hawaii, while a state, is also a lower population island, all of this makes sense. They are a smaller population and have isolation factors and economy factors that help to maintain their below national average violent crime rates that nonetheless parallel the national trends in scale.
Remember, the ability to carry a firearm and the legal right you hold to do so isn’t to ‘fight’ violent crime. That is actually the job of the elected government and law enforcement, to promote conditions that disincentive violent crime through a combination or minimizing its value and maximizing its penalty. You do not have a seatbelt and an airbag in your vehicle to prevent car accidents, you have them for when an accident occurs. The same logic applies to the carry of a firearm, it is emergency equipment for a specific emergency but other factors drive the violent crime rates.
Well are carriers themselves a separate problem? This headline might lead you to believe so.
More Than 2,500 Non-Self Defense Deaths Involving Concealed Carry Killers Since 2007, Latest Violence Policy Center Research Shows
Except if you do the math… that is 147 deaths per year over those 17 years. A license, as we well know from accident and homicide statistics with vehicles, is not a guarantee of good/non-reckless behavior or to be free from danger. In this case it works out to about 0.6-1.1% of unjustified homicides in a given year (likely a more stable average of about 0.7-0.9% as they are likely to scale and trend with the national homicide rates of the year) were committed by a licensed to carry individual. Meaning 99% of the problem is not with licensed concealed carriers.
To put this into further perspective, for every unjustifiable homicide by a licensed individual (as if 100:1 unjustifiable homicides by unlicensed individuals already didn’t make this comparison absurd) there are between 10 and 14 justifiable uses of force defensively, according to the Gun Violence Archive, per homicide.
The GVA’s reporting, for clarity, when compared to studies on DGU’s from other sources, only report ~1,100-2,100 DGUs (that they can verify through reporting to be fair, to the GVA) vs the low end estimates of 55,000–88,000 annual occurrences of defensive gun use from sources like NCVS and NSDS.
So that means the roughly 10:1 positive ratio we can extrapolate and verify with the GVA data is likely undercounting by a factor of 40 to 50 the number of DGUs. Now those DGUs aren’t all by licensed to carry individuals either, but if we apply the national average of 8.4% of adults to the factor of 40 to 50 (which is still undercounting because we should probably do it by gun owning households/adults and not the population at large) we still get the a factor of roughly 3 to 5 times undercounted DGUs by the GVA to licensed carriers resulting in a 30:1 to 50:1 positive firearm efficacy.
Again, this is me speaking off the cuff with very raw data that is loosely bracketed.
But Time, you’re off here and the data exists to show that. You just do not want to hear it. You do not want to hear it because violence as useful, violence as a tool, does not fit the worldview you wish to see and it is a common and very human tactic to ignore the things we do not wish to acknowledge to try and ‘will’ the world into our preferred view of it. The problem with that is there are roughly 8 billion wills on the planet and only a tiny fraction of them align so flawlessly with your own (or mine) that it would not eventually generate conflict.
Violence is, always has been, and always will be a solution to advancing and resolving conflicts. How preferable that solution is can be debated, but we must remember that our preferences are under no obligation to align with others.