Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Legal Fiat.

It's time we talked about "fiat."

Fiat is Latin for "let it be done."  

Merriam-Webster's first definition of the word is thus:
"1. a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort According to the Bible, the world was created by fiat."

It is used in discussions of policy to further the discussion without getting bogged down in detail.
Basically, it means, "For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that I have a waved a magic wand, and X has occurred."

Back when I was in  high school debate, we used fiat for all of our proposed plans to solve a topic.   An example would be, say, if the topic was on how to solve illegal immigration in the United States. The affirmative team would propose a plan, such as rounding up all the immigrants, or putting up a wall, or putting a border guard every fifty feet along the border, or whatnot, and the negative team would attack Significance, Harms, Inherency, Topicality, and Solvency (which was easily remembered by a lovely little acronymn) on the plan. Or, the defense could grant that the plan would work, but that there would be SUCH a disadvantage (such as lost cheap labor, or a shortage of cultural exchange (see: cheap taco stands)), that the plan wouldn't be worth it.

At no time, though, could the negative side attack that the plan could actually be effected. For the purposes of our discussion, the plan was put in place by fiat.

So here we are in the gun control debate, and everyone seems to believe that fiat is actually a workable thing.

"We will make it against the law to possess semi-automatic magazine-fed rifles!" would be the surprisingly-well-worded battlecry of the fiat-using gun banner.

Okay.  Let's pretend that passes, and federal law makes it illegal to own such a gun:
--There will be VIGOROUS attack on the law in the lower courts, and then the appellate courts, and then in the Supreme Court.  Let's pretend that the SCOTUS also upholds the law.
--Then, let's pretend that the executive branch mobilizes to enforce the law. How? Um, they'll put out public service announcements demanding that guns be turned in, else those with the guns will suffer severe federal penalties, with time in prison.
--And let's suppose that the good, law-abiding citizens of the U.S. do turn in their guns. Because they are law-abiding.
--And let's suppose that, everytime that they're caught with such a gun, a bad, non-law-abiding person goes to prison.
--And let's suppose that the prisons are able to take the influx of new prisoners.
--And let's suppose that a large quantity of guns remain in the public hands, against the law.
--How will the federal authorities, assisted I suppose by state and local police, get those firearms? 
--Will an order be given to go house-to-house? I assure you, the local cops aren't doing that. No, they will not.
--And remember that SCOTUS which affirmed the ban? They're NOT going to affirm a house-to-house search and arrest.
--And remember how all those good, law-abiding people turned in their guns? Just kidding. You just created a felony criminal class out of OTHERWISE good, law-abiding people. Now, they're legal-neutrals.
--And remember those actual bad guys, who don't follow the rules, and keep their guns, because, you know-- they're criminals? They're going to do what they want.

Fiat is a device for philosophy. Not for improving the nation that you have now.

While Fiats can be a lot of fun, they don't always work.
Photo by Tamara Keel. (Cropped.)

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