Monday, February 4, 2013

Gun Control, Disappointment, And Systems Theory

President Obama was in Minneapolis today, launching his initiative to limit shootings like the Sandy Hook Elementary slayings.

Everybody has an idea about gun control. Expect to be disappointed.

And not just the people who expect to forestall tragedy by limiting the kinds of arms citizens can own. I had a boss -- kind of an overbearing guy, and one who was two or three inches taller than I -- who gave me a lecture, with harrowing anecdote, on his Second Amendment rights. I hadn't expressed an opinion and he mistook what that opinion was.

What a dick. I hope I'm never in a crowded theater, with him, when some maniac pulls out a weapon. Caught in the crossfire.

Let's think about mass shootings like systems analyst Donella Meadows would have. Meadows wrote an essay, "Places to Intervene in a System."

The places (in increasing order of effectiveness) are:

Numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards)
Material stocks and flows
Regulating negative feedback loops
Driving positive feedback loops
Information flows
The rules of the system (incentives, punishments, constraints)
The power of self-organization
The goals of the system
The mindset or paradigm out of which the goals, rules, feedback structure arise.

I'll go through the essay, trying to define each intervention point in terms of gun control. My next post will be a recap of Meadows' sidebar explanation of systems theory.

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