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One More Round on Guns

Megan McArdle has responded to my earlier post criticizing her for her stand on guns at presidential events, although I think we may be talking past one another. She thinks liberals should stop demonizing those people who do bring guns to Obama events (although, contra McArdle, people brought guns to two Obama events, not just one, last week); I'm willing to grant her the point that the people openly bearing arms at Obama events probably aren't going to try to take a shot at him, but my main concern is that their presence at these events makes the job of the Secret Service that much harder--and therefore increases the risk that the Secret Service won't be able to stop someone (presumably carrying a concealed weapon) who does want to try to assassinate the president. McArdle never really bothers to address my point, although she does propose the compromise that if liberals stop demonizing people who bring guns to presidential events, then those people will stop bringing guns to presidential events. Deal!

There's one thing about McArdle's post, though, that's just too bizarre not to comment on--and that's the strange weight she continues to give to betting. In her original post, McArdle argued that since no one who says these gun-toting protestors pose a threat is willing to wager $500 with her that one of them will try to shoot Obama, they don't really believe what they're saying. I said this was an offensive argument, to which McArdle replies:

Well, I'm betting on good behavior, which doesn't seem that offensive to me.  Zengerle et. al. are the ones claiming that people openly carrying guns have a significant probability of hauling off and shooting someone for no good reason.

Is this really that hard to understand? People very seldom bet on something they don't actually want to happen; if and when they do make that sort of bet, it's usually as an emotional hedge about something that's not that important (like the NCAA tournament bracket I fill out every year that has UNC losing in an early round so that, if that does come to pass, my correct bracket will cushion the blow of UNC's loss). So the fact that no one is willing to enter into a contract with McArdle under which Obama being shot nets them $500 from McArdle is hardly proof of lack of conviction on their part. I think McArdle really needs to come up with a better test for determining what's a real belief and what's a symbolic belief.