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On the Sky Guns Fall From

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12/28/2012 10:50:17 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The gun control debate tends to focus on the consequences, positive and negative, of guns themselves. It's implicit in such debates that if the positive consequences outweigh the negative, guns are a good idea and thus gun control a bad one. I've seen no one mention the production cost of guns.

Now, if we were talking about a commidity with no negative externalities, such costs wouldn't be worth mentioning; they would be real, but demand would indicate a general preference for the commodity over the factors of its production. Guns, however, have obvious negative externalities.

The pro-gun side says the positive consequences of guns are greater. Confusing the issue further, one of the positive consequences, self-defense, can be measured in the same terms as the negative consequences: crime. But self-defense, like the guns' positive consequences generally, are internal to the exchange. They inform price and thus what value of resources are consumed and depreciated in production.

Victims of gun violence (i.e. those who were either too intelligent to or simply couldn't afford to spend thousands of dollars entertaining fantasies about a white citizens' uprising in the indefinite future, or who simply got outgunned like the Newtown children), on the other hand, are rarely compensated by the buyer in a way that would reduce demand and thus free up capital for the next most profitable use.