Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Scope of the Problem

After Sandy Hook, there's a lot of potential problems that come to mind:
(1) The problem is how to reduce mass school shootings by mentally compromised murder-suicide perpetrators.
(2) The problem is how to reduce the number of people killed by any kind of gun.
(3) The problem is how to reduce the number of people killed by assault rifles.
(4) The problem is how to reduce violence in the media.
(5) The problem is how to reduce the number of mentally ill people capable of becoming mass murderers that actually become mass murderers.

And of course, there’s many many many many more - not to mention combinations of several.

Some of these are tightly linked to Newtown, others are simply related to it, or encompass it.  I bring this up to make the following point:

Just because something doesn’t seem like it would apply to the problem you're interested in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not worth doing.

To expand: don’t reflexively resist someone who broadens the scope of the problem.  The solutions don’t have to directly relate to the incident that caused everyone to start thinking of them - as long as they’re solving something worth solving then they’re solving something worth solving.  If you want to resist someone who is broadening the scope of the problem (for instance, talking about all of gun violence vs just mass shootings in elementary schools), then do so on rational grounds of costs to freedom, finances, etc.  Don’t get caught in the trap of “well we had a school shooting, so we should only be doing stuff to avoid a school shooting.”

Bottom line: problems are problems, and solutions are solutions.

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