Inevitably, after every mass shooting in America there’s the same public outcry: it’s time to ban guns. To those who say that, I respond: the gun didn’t shoot itself. There are many out there who agree with this sentiment, and many of them say that it’s an issue of training responsible gun owners and dealing with mental health issues. I wouldn’t go that far, though. I don’t know what philosophical school you subscribe to, but do you really believe in free will? Do you think we have any say in the choices of others, let alone our own choices? Do you think these gunmen are anything but predetermined to make their decisions based off of their chemical makeup and the unbroken chain of prior occurrences dating back to the origin of the universe? In this deterministic reality we live in, I am of the opinion that guns don’t kill people, but the boundary conditions of the universe kill people.
Sure, you could go ahead and make all of the laws you want to keep guns out of people’s hands. You could increase counseling in schools and access to mental health services. What you can’t do, however, is change the fact that we are are essentially natural robots who can calculate fast enough to have the illusion of choice. Do you think there’s something magic about people that give us the ability to choose? If that were the case, wouldn’t we be making better choices? Think about it: gun violence is a horrible problem, with a super simple solution (ban guns) and yet things are getting worse and worse every year. I think the fact that we haven’t done anything about it as a society is proof that there is no free will. If there were, I’m sure we would have used it to solve this problem.
To those who say “the gun didn’t shoot itself” I say “the person is a causal actor and had no choice in shooting the gun.” At this point, you may be wondering, what we can do? I mean, if there’s no free will, what are our options? Well, remember, we don’t have options; however I’ve come up with a few potential deterministic outcomes that would solve the problem.
- A person genetically predetermined to make not horrible decisions comes into power and implements basic, common-sense gun control legislations (least likely)
- We somehow go back to the Big Bang and rearrange the infinitely dense ball of mass just right to create an identical reality minus the out of control gun violence
- Giant asteroid wipes out humanity
- We jump to a parallel timeline in the multiverse where gun violence isn’t an issue. That’s right, I’m talking about moving to Iceland
As you can see, gun violence in America is a tricky subject with no easy solution. Not only is there a large gun lobby and a partisan, entrenched gun culture, but we also are not free to make any choices, either related to this problem or anywhere else in our lives. Heck, even if you are a probabilistic determinist the odds are slim that you could solve this problem. Some of you may not agree with me on everything; you may be a rabid anti-gun activist, or even a quantum indeterminist. Either way, I’m sure we can agree on one thing: gun violence in America is completely and utterly hopeless.