Odds and Ends
Armed to immobilize
9 10, 9:37pm
""do you believe every life to be of the same value...). "
No, on economic, practical and moral scale. "
Well most moral systems don't though... Because life's worth is highly subjective, it is pretty hard to value one life more than another in an objective manner (and utilitarianism as an accounting moral theory certainly works that way).
On a practical and economic PoV it is debatable too. For example most terrible leaders never killed anybody, leaving the despicables acts themselves to no-name soldiers. But who's the real culprit, the actual killer or the ruler who decided people had to die ? Is the soldier really a bad person when he never really had a choice in what he had to do ?
Is a billionaire that built his wealth by enslaving children and polluting the environment a good person ? The orthodox economic view says he is, but I think he's not. All in all it's much more simpler to count a life as a life and be done with it. That being said, that does mean that a life that ends people lives is better dead (because if I count all lives as equal then a people that kills people has a negative value unless you prevent him from doing so), so part of your reasoning still stands, but it just doesn't translate to other minor offenses that easily.
On a side note most criminal activities have an economic value. It is illegal, but they do provide a service for their customers (like providing people with drugs, alcohol, weapons...). It could be argued that some of those are beneficial for the society as a whole, just not accepted by the government (the classic example would be a smuggler providing food in a dictatorial state, but even in more democratic societies, there are examples that kinda work, like providing weed to help with psycholigical pain). On the other end, some "respectable" businesses have a negative moral value like those who don't respect their employees rights or that are polluting the environment.
Now about the self defense argument, I suppose the first good question would be to wonder wether there is a correlation between gun ownership and crime rate (not violent crime). If there is no such thing, then it seems rather unlikely that this is a good argument to a pro-gun stance. If there is then we'll have to wonder wether this is causality or something else (consequence, simpson paradox... ) and then we would have to ponder wether the benefits are worth the losses (the offenders killed or seriously injured, the suicides, the accidents...) . Sadly, I didn't find much about that and studies seem to be contradicting themselves wether they are pro or anti gun.
My opinion on the subject at this point is that guns probably don't really have a big impact on crime (wether positively or negatively) BUT they do have an impact in the total death toll (suicides and accidents) so I'm probably slightly in favor of anti-gun policies (though considering the amount of those death, I suppose if I had to choose someone to elect based on that, this probably wouldn't be a deciding factor).
Also at a personnal level (and this is completely subjective and probably a little bit irrational), I feel safer knowing there is not a gun in every single house, and I feel very uncomfortable when I'm next to people who wear weapons (policemen, soldiers). So I suppose it's a good thing I don't live in Russia or the US.