One of the more disturbing trends found in collectivist ideologies is the concept of collective punishment. Collective punishment is the idea that an entire group should be punished for the actions of a single member of that group. Not surprisingly this idea has generally found acceptance in collectivist ideologies, which view individuals are minor components of the grand social machinery. Socialism was founded on the idea of punishing the bourgeois class. At first the bourgeois class consistent of everybody who privately possessed means of production and, even if a particular member of the bourgeois class did nothing to harm another person, socialist doctrine generally supported punishing that private holder of production. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the bourgeois class quickly became a catchall for counter revolutionaries.
Fascism is another socialist ideology that ascribes to the idea of collective punishment. Nazi Germany is the pinnacle of fascist collective punishment. During the reign of the Third Reich entire groups; including Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals; were exterminated because, it was claimed, members of those groups brought harm to the German people. In German the term Sippenhaft was used to describe the idea of collectively punishing a entire family for the wrongdoing of a single member. Sippenhaft, as a concept, has existed in Germanic law since the middle ages but was made prevalent once again by the Nazi Party in Germany and, later, the Communist Party in East Germany.
The United States inherited the generally individualistic ideology of Britain. Due to the more individualistic nature of those societies the legal system has very few references to collective punishment. At one point in time was unusual to hear a person living in either society to directly call for collectively punishing entire groups for the misdeeds of individual members of those groups. Unfortunately both societies have move away from generally individualistic ideologies and have slowly adopted more aspects of collectivist ideologies. As traditionally individualistic cultures, specifically the United States, have progressed further down the collectivist road the idea of collective punishment has become more acceptable. Unlike collectivists societies that outwardly adhere to ideologies like socialism and fascism, the United States doesn’t not overtly perform acts of collective punishment. Instead of rounding up entire families and placing them in prisons the United States has opted for a more underhanded method of collectively punishing groups, legislation.
When an individual does something to harm others the common response in the United States is to find what groups that individual belongs to. Being social creatures humans are easy to connect to social groups. Once a connection has been made demands are quickly made to legislation against that specific social group. If the wrongdoer is an anarchist cries are made add anarchists to the list of known terrorist groups. If the wrongdoer is a member of the Tea Party cries are made to add the Tea Party, or so-called right-wing extremists, to the list of known terrorist groups. If the wrongdoer is a member of racist group cries are made to enact legislation that prohibits racist speech. Not surprisingly when a wrongdoer is a gun owner cries are made to enact legislation that punishes all gun owners.
Gun control is nothing more than a form of collective punishment. Enacting gun control legislation restricts the liberties of gun owners but doesn’t punish the person who committed the act that resulted in the demand for more gun control. If somebody shooters several people with a handgun gun control advocates start screaming for a ban, or at least tighter restrictions, on handguns. The killer faces multiple charges of murder but nonviolent owners of handguns, that is to say the majority of handgun owners, face future charges of possessing a prohibited weapon or are restricted from buying particular handguns in the future.
From the beginning gun control has been a form of collective punishment. The first gun control laws were implemented to prevent African Americans from obtaining firearms. In that case the entire African Americans community was being punished whether they brought violence against another human being or not. Gun control hasn’t changed much in its long history. From collectively punishing African Americans to collectively punishing gun owners the idea of gun control has always been one of punishing entire groups for the, oftentimes perceived, actions of individuals in those groups. To use the ever beloved car analogy gun control legislation would be akin to banning Ford Fusions because a single man got drunk, drove a Fusion, and killed another person in a collision. Instead of punishing the drunk drive a vehicle prohibition would punish car owns, specifically those who like Ford Fusions.
Collective punishment is a frightening idea. Since we’re all members of various social groups and it’s highly probable that somebody in every social group will commit an act of aggression against another human being it’s likely that every could face punishment under a collective system. I oppose collective punishment and believe only a wrongdoer should be punished.