When trying to imagine a game-theoretic model for gun-owners and non-owners in Stand Your Ground states, I was rather intrigued with the difficulties in developing a complete model. But, I was also stumped by the kinds of assumptions that had to be made in order to assign relative pay-off values and risk probabilities.
Does the gun-owner value their life more, and so carries a gun, but only for when they feel imminently in danger? That may change their assumptions to try to force a more peaceable outcome. However, what if the gun-owner didn’t value their life anymore than the non-gun owner, but does value their general security more. Then that would weight it more towards shooting first, even under uncertain circumstances. What if the gun-owner is biased towards seeing strangers as threats, rather than neighbors? Or the non-owner as OK with minor scuffles, but would be shocked to even think the other person may have a gun.
And then I came up with repeated trials of multiple games, or changing the game to a more ambiguous “force application” vs “maintaining ones liberties to do as they were”. In this way, the game is how much should the gun owner apply their rights over the non-gun owner, and the non-owner in their ability to maintain their liberties. Taken even further, we can play with models of whether or not both parties know the other has a gun, and their expected use of force and likelihood of a shooting or a back down occurring first. Of course, this is all possible because I was taking into account all kinds of perspectives and trying to model all the kinds of human interactions and things people do. It wasn’t that Game Theory failed me, but rather that the Game is deeply complex, with many unknowns substituted with risk-assessments and pay-off speculations.
But none of this was the enlightening part. No, the enlightening part was in realizing how absolutely absurd all this is.
If we take for granted that most people do use the basics of Game Theory in estimating potentially violent situations, and what actions to take, then we can assume that such people will go to varying depths of the model I described above. Unsurprisingly, some may never go further than the simplest model, in which much heavier handed assumptions must be made.
But, who wants to live in a society where every interaction with a stranger requires solving this Game? Why should I worry that a simple traffic accident may result in a shooting? Why should I worry that a poor or misjudgement on my behalf may result in my death. Why should I have to guess at how my adversary may assess me as a risk, misinterpret my intentions, or misinterpret the law? Why should the gun owner constantly feel the need to carry a gun around, to always assess each situation as a potential threat, to weigh the risk of killing someone only to have the courts rule it was an unjust application of force, and that Stand Your Ground doesn’t apply?
Its even easier if the Game is really just about the Use of Force to maintain one’s Liberties, against the non-force user’s Rights to maintain their own Liberties. In what situations may force be used, or self-defense, or murder?
Its excessively complex, and its disappointing to live in a society where people feel the need to arm themselves, and have not only the Right to use that force as they interpret the law, but also the expectation they can apply that force with legal protections. But I also hate living in a society where I am unable to use a baseline of force to protect myself from unknown assailants.
Which really gets to the crux of the problem: Why is our society like this? Are other societies like this, and why? Is it racial and economic homogeneity that other societies don’t need Stand Your Ground, or even the pretense of it? Is it simply because our World is arranged that violent altercations are inevitable, regardless of what Human systems may be in place? Is it that our species is hopelessly violent?