Smart guns are dumb

Legal questions to one side, the presumption that a government’s being able to make individuals safer means that a government should seek to make those citizens safer is itself inimical to the suppositions of the republic. Among the other “kinds of things that we see on a daily basis” are domestic violence (a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds or so), child abuse (a report of maltreatment is made every ten seconds), and alcoholism (which kills 88,000 people per year). Presumably, the federal government could reduce the instances of all of these ills by mandating the installation of telescreens in all private homes, putting ankle bracelets on children, and more closely monitoring the supply of booze.

It will, course, do no such thing. Why not? Well, because such measures do not comport with the expectations of a free population. The United States not only has a culture that tends to privilege individual liberty above dependent security but a government that is categorically forbidden from relegating every question with which it is faced to a cost/benefit analysis. Firearms, which represent a considerably smaller problem and are protected by name in the nation’s founding document, serve as no exception to this rule.

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