Those who sell guns to criminals should not be held responsible for crimes committed - Politics | PoFo

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Those who sell guns to criminals should not be held responsible for crimes committed

This could easily fit into the "Morals & Ethics" section, since it involves the philosophy of "blame" and "responsibility".

I came across a comment in a political discussion where someone, presumably a gun control proponent on the Left, stated that they think those who give guns to known criminals who later go on to kill someone should be executed, placing a primary share of the blame for the murder on the one who illegally provided the gun.

I emphatically disagree.

Now, before I start off I just want to clarify that I'm not saying the one who provided the gun holds no blame whatsoever for the murder, but I am saying it's very inappropriate to attach primary responsibility to them for the murder. (And let's keep in mind this was a murder committed by someone else.)

Just because something is illegal DOES NOT automatically imply that the person who committed the illegal act should be held responsible for all of the indirect effects of their actions.

First off, some people assume a known criminal has no other reason to have a gun than to commit a robbery or murder someone. That's not necessarily true.
One of the primary reasons criminals have guns is for protection, from other criminals. (It's not like they can go to the police for help, and they often have to worry about rival gangs or organized crime groups trying to secure a monopoly on an illegal undertaking)

Then there are different types of criminals. Providing a gun to a white collar criminal convicted of fraud isn't exactly the same as providing a gun to someone you know has already gone on a murderous random killing spree.

And here's another perspective to consider. There was a time in America before these type of gun control laws existed. You could sell a gun to anyone who was free and walked into your store. Those who murdered someone were executed. If a criminal who had committed robbery in the past was released, they could purchase a gun again. (Whether they were released depended on exactly what they had done, and the rate of reoffense for those with long prison sentences was low because most of them were so old by the time they got out)
So, there was a time when providing a gun to a "known criminal" was not illegal (in general, it could still be a crime in certain specific types of situations, such as if you were trying to aid someone in the crime). Obviously these people (back at that time) were not responsible for a murder the criminal chose to commit with that gun.

Now some will argue utilitarian justifications rather than deontological ethics.
But let's keep in mind this is the law here, being imposed with force. Once you abandon morality you become as bad as the lawless.

There is also of course the argument that even if the criminal had not been provided with a gun it might not have stopped them from being able rob/steal a gun, or committing the murder (a gun isn't always required to commit a murder, obviously). You can't say for certain that if the gun hadn't been provided the crime wouldn't have happened (or another similar type of crime).

But perhaps the strongest argument of all is that the one providing the gun wasn't the one committing the crime. (other than the fact that providing the gun was made a crime in itself, of course)

I'm not particularly making the argument here that providing guns to criminals should be legal, necessarily, but you can't (or shouldn't, I should say) lay a primary share of the blame for the crime on the one who did not commit it.

Look, if the one who provided the gun is 40 percent responsible for the crime committed with it, let's say, does that make the criminal only 60 percent responsible?
Or are you going to hold the people involved a combined total of 140 percent responsible for a crime?
From a morality justice perspective that just doesn't make sense.

If the one who provided the gun is responsible for the crime, that has to imply that the criminal who actually committed the crime is less responsible. (And of course maybe that seems to be the way those on the progressive liberal Left side feel)

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