Saturday, December 6, 2014

Last Call For The "Taxes Killed Eric Garner" Argument

Over at Outside The Beltway, Steven Taylor makes this observation on the notion that New York's laws against selling loose cigarettes untaxed is what really killed chockhold victim Eric Garner, and not police brutality.

While I need to formulate (and am working on it, in fact) more well developed response to the discussion of the role played by the law on cigarettes in the death of Eric Garner, I do have a simple response I want to note (it is a thought that has occurred to me more than once as I have read and heard assertions about the situation)

Jonah Goldberg serves as most proximate inspiration:

But only unreasonable people can deny that those laws are partly to blame. Without laws making cigarettes more expensive, Eric Garner would be alive today, period

In reading this (and similar assertions–i.e., that more laws equal more chances for law enforcement to go array, ergo, have so many laws is part of the problem) I have to wonder if the libertarian/anti-government types are willing to recognize that this is exactly the argument that many make about guns after a mass shooting (i.e., if guns weren’t so easy to access that event X would not have happened–both are vested in a basic assertion about probability). And, further, that libertarian/anti-government types always reject those probability arguments in that context.

It's an important point.  Glibertarian types are always stressing "personal responsibility" over law (the most obvious example of this being the infamous "Guns don't kill people, people do" riff) but in the Garner case it wasn't the police officer's fault, it was cigarette taxes.  I've pointed out the idiocy of this when Sen. Rand Paul said it, but the point is that you can't say taxes were part of why Eric Garner died without also admitting that availability of guns is why so many thousands of Americans die each year in firearm homicides and accidents.

That admission won't be coming soon from these guys, either.


RepubAnon said...

Perhaps the rapid expansion of gun ownership and legalization of concealed carry is another reason why the cops are so quick on the draw these days?

However, the "taxes are why the cop killed Eric Garner" argument assumes that the cops only tried to arrest him because of that law. From the evidence, it sounds as though their intent was to harrass Mr. Garner, and so would merely have chosen a different excuse had the law against selling individual cigarettes not existed.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

Jonah Goldberg is wrong? Unpossible!

I have lived in other countries, and every single one of them has both fewer shootings overall and fewer shootings of [people] by the police. Now, lots of other factors come into play but surely their tiny gun possession rates feed into this in an important way.

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