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Gun Rights, Mental Health, and Violence

| 149 Comments

I heard NPR talking about mental health today, as if that were the big issue with gun violence.  I get more disgusted with them each time I listen.  A little while ago, a tweet came by from Counterpunch that was pretty spot on.  It quoted a tweet from the DOD in which they were gloating about their new gunship.  Counterpunch said: “The Department of Defense tweets about actually killing people like it is a sport, and some people still wonder where this country’s violence problem stems from.”  Ayep.

Of course, the reaction against the mental health obsession leads to confusion, but part of it is “mental health” and “emotional health” tend to get thrown into a big bucket that most of us don’t understand, leaving us talking about we know not what.  And this leads to places where it sounds as if disability advocates are saying that, yes, someone who opens up in a school with a semi-automatic rifle is emotionally healthy, which I’m pretty sure isn’t what they mean.  At least I hope it isn’t what they mean. But we live in an unhealthy society, one in which our leaders gloat about violence. “We came, we saw, he died,” said the Secretary of State, gleefully praising the cold-blooded murder of Gaddafi.

At the same time, police shoot down anyone they happen to feel like without punishment.  Do you know how many murdering cops were prosecuted by the DOJ over the last 16 years? Zero.  The message is clear, and you can hardly blame some poor over-stressed bastard for hearing it.

The illness of a society is, as always, manifested through individuals, some of whom, for various reasons, express it in horrific ways. Sensible gun laws? Sure. I’m pro Second Amendment, but I don’t have a problem with some reasonable limitations on military-style weapons, and making sure anyone with a firearm knows how to use it.

Also, cut it out with the idiotic arguments: Anti-gun people: pointing out that the Second Amendment was “passed by slaveholders” therefore we can get rid of it is reckless and stupid. So were the other nine. Also, you might want to remember that the most stringent gun laws this country ever saw were passed in California as a direct attack on the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Pro-gun people: Oh, come ON.  Thinking you can defend yourself against “the gummint” with a rifle makes as much as sense as the Dutch folktale of the woman trying to hold back the flood with a broom. And, if the Founding Fathers had somehow had the foresight to say, “A well regulated highway being essential for liberty, the right of the people to keep and drive cars shall not be infringed,” I don’t think that would have prevented states from requiring drivers licenses.

But the essential point is the one I started with: how can we expect to take on the violence in our society when it is praised, extolled, and demonstrated day after day, year after year, by those at the very top?  For the last 17 years, there has not been a day in which this country was not bombing people, and hardly a day in which a cop wasn’t shooting someone.  If you think this has nothing to do with the violence in our society, let me indulge in understatement by saying I think you are incorrect.

skzb

Author: skzb

I play the drum.

149 Comments

  1. 16 years ago, after the towers fell, I knew we had a choice and I knew which choice we would take. We could treat the attacks as a criminal act and pursue the criminals until we caught them and punished them. But no. Instead, our leaders chose a “war” on terror. Had we treated it like a crime instead of an act of war, and methodically and mercilessly hunted down the criminals rather than building them up into a scary enemy, imagine how different the world would be.

    But this is America. America won its independence through violence, unified the nation through violence, and expanded across the continent by violence. Violence is in the nation’s DNA.

    This is a country where a man physically attacked a journalist and pleaded guilty to it in court. A few days later, he took his seat in Congress with barely a peep from his colleagues.

    This is a country where a man said he could shoot someone in the street and not lose votes. He was elected president.

    Our government not only commits violence. It rewards violence. If the people we elect to govern us can threaten and commit violence, and not suffer the consequences of it, should we be surprised if people WITHOUT power start thinking that violence is the way to solve THEIR problems, too?

  2. Small correction: Clinton’s psychopathic comment was regarding Gaddafi, not Bin Laden, which makes it even more disturbing.

  3. skzb

    I stand corrected. Will fix.

  4. Lots of people who I talk with disagree with me (and you) that our eternal wars killing people are not better than killing our own.

  5. I was reading Neal Stevenson’s _Quicksilver_, and came across a line where the protagonist recognizes someone as being a nobleman – because he was wearing a sword. I immediately thought of how gun owners use guns as part of their identities.

  6. Gun control is a wedge issue. It is designed to prevent progress.

    We will not significantly reduce gun violence until the number of guns in circulation goes way down. That will not happen until we get a consensus that it’s OK to do it.

    How small does a group have to be before we agree that it’s OK to oppress them? We can’t get away with oppressing blacks at 14%. We can’t oppress gays at 6%. We can’t oppress trans at 1%. We CAN oppress NAMBLA, and I don’t know what percentage they are — they’re illegal to the point that they’re in hiding. It’s got to be way below 1%, though.

    Gun owners are around 30%. We’re not going to oppress them any time soon.

    So we can argue about symbolic legislation. We can fine-tune the registration process, which will have no practical effect. But on the one side we can argue that it is reasonable and rational and people who are opposed are crazy. And on the other side we can argue that it is a slippery slope, and that the people who want these “reasonable” goals consider them a stepping stone toward actual gun control (which is true). We can argue endlessly about it.

    And meanwhile the bankers and the oil industry and the military and all the rest go right on doing business as usual, destroying the world.

    It doesn’t even do any good to argue against arguing about gun control, though. That would only result in people arguing that it’s a vitally important issue, that each year 30,000 Americans die from gun wounds, that police kill several Americans a day with guns, that we have to DO SOMETHING. It just causes more useless argument about the wedge issue, without any good result.

  7. Jonah Thomas, asking people to change a behavior that is dangerous to themselves and to others is not remotely like oppressing a minority population because they are perceived as “other” for their differences. Being trans increases your health risk because of prejudice and oppression, not because of anything intrinsic in itself. Being black increases your health risks and dangers of incarceration not due to some genetic link with increased melanin, but because of prejudice and oppression.

    Gun ownership, all moral and legal questions aside, increases your risk of death by firearm. Widespread gun ownership, however beneficial it might be to the corporations that manufacture and market them, increases everyone’s risk of death by firearm.

    The math is very simple. More guns equals more danger. Anything that reduces the number of guns in a given population reduces the risk of gun injury, far more than any amount of training in safe practices. More powerful guns, weapons with higher muzzle velocities, larger magazines, higher rates of fire, multiply the damage from any incidents of gun violence exponentially. Just read the Atlantic story from a medical professional that treated the Parkland victims.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/what-i-saw-treating-the-victims-from-parkland-should-change-the-debate-on-guns/553937/

    I am a practical man, sometimes. I don’t think eliminating gun ownership in this country is an achievable goal, not in the lifetime of anyone I know. But I think we could reverse the trend of the last 20 years, that has seen it explode, so literally. I think we could take weapons like the AR-15 off the table, for both civilians and police forces. And I think that absolutely anything we could accomplish would be better than doing nothing at all.

  8. I’d add the death penalty to glorification of war and police shootings as a source of violence in our society.

    I’m not sure I understand your point about the message being clear and not blaming someone for hearing it. If you mean the Florida gunman, then I disagree. I don’t care how messed up a society is – humans should know not to kill other humans.

  9. “How small does a group have to be before we agree that it’s okay to oppress them?”

    I think you’re asking entirely the wrong question.

    The definition of oppression is “cruel or unjust treatment.” So first of all, “imposing gun control” isn’t oppression, any more than requiring automobile licensing and registration is. Second, unjust treatment is never “okay,” by definition, regardless of the size of the group.

    The question you seem to want to ask is, “How small does a reprehensible group have to be before we agree that they must be fought?” And, considering that smaller groups have fought (and won) over larger groups in the past, I’d say that no matter how large the group is, if they need to be fought, they must be fought.

  10. “asking people to change a behavior that is dangerous to themselves and to others is not remotely like oppressing a minority population because they are perceived as “other” for their differences.”

    Voters decide for themselves whether they are being oppressed. If you disagree with them, it’s the voters who feel oppressed you must convince, not me.

    “I don’t think eliminating gun ownership in this country is an achievable goal, not in the lifetime of anyone I know.”

    That’s what it takes to get significant improvement. No amount of gun safety training or gun registration will do it.

    “I think that absolutely anything we could accomplish would be better than doing nothing at all.”

    I wouldn’t mind except that it’s a wedge issue, designed to distract us from things we might actually be able to do something about. This issue will not go away in the lifetime of anyone you know, because we will not solve it. It will keep grabbing our attention, for the rest of our lives. Or until we stop getting a vote. Whichever comes first.

    “I think that absolutely anything we could accomplish would be better than doing nothing at all.”

    There’s a story where a man gets hit by a hit-and-run car, and he’s lying on the ground with a broken leg. The police arrive before the EMTs, and a policeman who has no particular medical expertise is warning away the crowd. A woman comes up with a thermos and starts trying to spoon it into the injured man’s mouth.

    The cop approaches her. “What the hell are you doing?”

    She replies, “This is chicken soup. I happened to have it.”

    “Lady, chicken soup won’t do anything for a broken leg!”

    “But it can’t HURT.”

  11. Jonah- No. Your arguments are non responsive and nonsensical. As a person who employs the rules of logic, you really should be better at seeing your own fallacies.

    Reducing the number of guns in circulation and reducing the firepower of the guns in question are both achievable goals that would reduce the number of gun related deaths. It’s not using chicken soup to treat a broken bone, it is installing traffic lights so the pedestrian doesn’t get hit in the first place.

    Defining any attempt to regulate guns as simultaneously oppressive and ineffectual is a weak rhetorical trick pushed by the NRA.

  12. The US police are currently essentially unconstrained from violence. This is clearly a big problem and as skzb says, clearly contributes to the underlying problems of gun violence.

    The US military is being used and has been being used very inappropriately for quite some time. Again, this contributes to the overall societal views of violence.

    Actual effective emphasis on good mental health support would help greatly with the suicide portion of the gun deaths and be good just in general. This is irregardless of guns.

    Mass shootings, while very attention getting aren’t particularly the problem as they are a small portion of the overall gun homicides. It would be good (of course) to eliminate them and the examples of the UK and Australia seem to imply how to do that.

    The US has much higher rates of gun violence and homicide than other comparable countries. This has been on a general decline and is back to approximately 1960’s level but is still wildly more than other comparable countries. Poverty and inequality account for some portion of this–the US Gini coefficient in 2015 was .39 vs .36 for the UK.
    The homicide rate (per 100,000) in the US (2014) was 4.88 vs .92 in the UK and of that, the gun homicide (non suicide) rate was 3.43 in the US vs. .06 in the UK.
    The UK has very strong gun control laws. The US doesn’t. I (personally) wouldn’t mind at all if the US had the same laws as the UK.
    You can also contrast policing methods with respect to guns in the UK vs the US in this respect.

    I believe the 2nd Amendment exists but I don’t believe the interpretation of the amendment in “District of Columbia v. Heller” in 2008 led by Scalia is correct. We’ll have to await a different Supreme Court make-up to get that changed.

  13. skzb

    Steve Halter: Yeah.

  14. A wise friend of mine, who works in DC attempting to improve public policy, has a saying: “Before it happened, it was impossible. After it happened, it was inevitable.”

  15. skzb

    That is generally said about revolution, and has been attributed to many people over the years.

  16. Steve Halter wrote: “The homicide rate (per 100,000) in the US (2014) was 4.88 vs .92 in the UK and of that, the gun homicide (non suicide) rate was 3.43 in the US vs. .06 in the UK.
    The UK has very strong gun control laws. The US doesn’t. I (personally) wouldn’t mind at all if the US had the same laws as the UK.”

    There’s a significant problem with comparing the U.S. and U.K. homicide rates based upon numbers published by the respective governments. The U.S. homicide rate is based upon the number of homicides identified in police investigations – one person killing another (but excluding justifiable homicides). See https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/murder.

    The U.K. homicide rate, on the other hand, is based on the number of homicide convictions: ” Since 1967, homicide figures for England and Wales have been adjusted to exclude any cases which do not result in conviction[.]” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmhaff/95/95ap25.htm The same report states the U.K. homicide rate would be higher if unsolved homicides were included.

    Comparing the U.S. and U.K. homicide rates based on these incompatible reports is not possible.

  17. kukuforguns:
    From the UK National Archive
    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160109193821/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/search/index.html?newquery=*&newoffset=100&pageSize=100&nscl=Causes+of+Death&nscl-orig=Causes+of+Death&content-type=Reference+table&content-type=Dataset&sortBy=pubdate&sortDirection=DESCENDING&applyFilters=true

    The table labeled: Injury and Poisoning Deaths by Mechanism and Intent – England and Wales, 2010 (Excel sheet 94Kb)

    Contains the figures for all deaths due to injury/poisoning. For firearms, there are a total of 23 total under Homicide/probable homicide, 90 Self-harm/undetermined intent and 8 unintentional. So, 121 total.

    For the US (from your link), in 2014, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 14,249.

    The US population in 2014 was 318.6 million. In 2010, the UK population was 64.61 million. So, the US figure is from a population about 4.93 times larger.
    Per 100,000, that would give a 4.48 rate for the US and either a .036 or .18 rate for the UK depending on how you want to slice that 121 total.

    Pretty easily comparable.

  18. Steve (Halter): I’ve never understood the desire to disaggregate homicides committed with a gun from the general group of homicides. I’ll explain. During gun control debates, someone frequently compares the rates of “gun homicide” rates between states with strong and weak gun control. And, voila, they find a strong correlation. Someone else then does a comparison of homicide rates between the states, and voila, there is no correlation between homicide rate and the intrusiveness of states’ gun control laws. If you believe strong gun control laws reduce “gun homicides” then you should also believe that strong gun control laws simply encourage people to use other weapons. I cannot say I would prefer to be killed with an axe or a gun. If you ever have some spare time, compare the survival statistics for ER patients suffering pistol wounds versus knife wounds.

  19. Violence pervades every aspect of American life. Spanking debate. The way we speak “I’m gonna kick your ass….” The military – let’s not forget they are ALL heroes worthy of respect – except some of them are real assholes not deserving of any respect like all other groups in the world. But some will want to take away my citizenship for saying so. Violent crime. The highest level of meat eating in the world – all of which requires violence at best and we do not care about humane ways of killing them. Pandora’s box when one considers the question of violence. But, that does not mean we must not take steps away from violence whenever we can. We have an opportunity to do so on guns right now. Every little bit could save a life. And if that life is yours or someone you love, you will be grateful. It’s not really a slippery slope. That assumes future inaction. We should act when we can to make the world better.

  20. kukuforguns:If it were true that restricting guns simply meant that people would merrily switch to a different homicide method, then one would expect the other homicide methods in the UK to make up for the lack of available guns.

    Going to the table we see:
    A total of 675 homicides/possible homicides in the UK in 2010. That arrives at a total rate per 100,000 of 1.04. Still, far short of the US rate by gun alone.

    Apparently, your hypothesis is not valid in this case.

    *In my previous post, I neglected to add in the 6 female victims of firearms in the UK in 2010, so you may adjust the rates minusculely upward if you wish.

  21. One other thought. The Dalai LLama (no idea if spelled right) and his brother talk a lot about the romanticization of violence in the world. America is a virtuoso here.

  22. Steve (Halter): As my original post established, you cannot compare homicide rates in the U.S. with the U.K. based on the information published by the countries.

    Moreover, different countries are . . . wait . . . wait . . . different. I mean, otherwise you would expect Japan to have the same suicide rate as the U.S. (actually, you would expect Japan’s suicide rate to be lower because Japan doesn’t have guns). But Japan’s suicide rate is higher than that of the U.S. Why? Because it’s a different country with a different culture.

    How do you account for the fact that some areas of the U.S. with high gun ownership rates have a homicide rate lower than the U.K.? You are aware that around 2% of the counties in the U.S. make up more than half of the murders, right?

    Did you totally miss Steve’s point (with which you agreed) that because the U.S. government (at all levels) is violent, it encourages violence in the general population?

    Yes, the homicide rate in U.K. is lower (by some indeterminate amount) than in the U.S. It remains lower even if you exclude “gun homicides” from both countries.

  23. kukuforguns:You made an assertion that the homicide rates were incomparable. I went to the primary data and found that not to be the case.

    Yes, I am aware that the population of the US is very unevenly distributed by county.

    Yes, I agree that all of the factors that skzb mentioned have an effect on homicide rates. The US has a lot of problems. I assert that unrestricted access to guns and the glorification of gun ownership is one of them. I am unhopeful that there will much change in this respect until we move away from the path of hyper capitalism we currently find ourselves in.

  24. “Reducing the number of guns in circulation and reducing the firepower of the guns in question are both achievable goals that would reduce the number of gun related deaths.”

    I agree those would likely reduce the number of gun-related deaths. If you think they’re achievable then go achieve them.

    “Defining any attempt to regulate guns as simultaneously oppressive and ineffectual is a weak rhetorical trick pushed by the NRA.”

    I am not using an NRA trick. I say that the regulation that’s typically under consideration — making changes in gun registration — is perceived as oppressive by many gun owners, and would be ineffectual.

    Maybe a lot of gun owners are changing their minds about those registration issues, and we will be able to get better regulation so it will not be considered oppressive but will still be ineffectual. The problem will still be with us, mostly unchanged, and the debate will continue. The argument will still be that something has to be done. Arguments will be made to do something else, since nothing effective has been done yet.

    Maybe somehow we will get effective legislation that will remove whole classes of guns from civilians, and a lot of guns will be taken from civilian gun owners so that we will have fewer guns total and lower-firepower guns. I expect that to result in a great big successful propaganda push to elect Republicans and repeal those laws.

    But I could be wrong. Maybe we will get legislation to take whole categories of guns from civilians, and also reduce the total number of guns in civilian hands, and there will be no bad effect. Maybe reducing the number of guns by half will reduce the number of gun deaths by half. Maybe nobody will object strongly, or elect Republicans intending to get it changed. Then you can tell me I Told You So and I will admit that you were right and I was wrong.

  25. Well said, Steven. Gun violence in the United States is a cultural, economic, and social problem — not merely a problem of individual psychology or gun rights. Everyone has an opinion on guns and everyone is wrong and right. There’s nothing to be gained by reducing the discussion to guns and mental health because it doesn’t address the root problem.

  26. I disagree with “Thinking you can defend yourself against ‘the gummint’ with a rifle makes as much as sense as the Dutch folktale of the woman trying to hold back the flood with a broom.” I can go into more detail, but some bullet points are: Military desertion/coups/spies/saboteurs, foreign intervention, infrastructure dependence… not to mention the Sisyphean task of subduing a population with just air power. It’s not as cut and dried as “one man and his rifle vs. one Abrams and a Predator”. There are many interesting hypotheticals to be delved into, many of which where the rebelling faction having access to rifles has a distinct effect, if not swinging the outcome in its favor.

    Not to mention, even if you’re correct, if the worst happens I would think depriving the people who keep society alive and functioning (farmers, manufacturers, etc.) the best options for defending themselves from rioters and looters as folly.

    I’ve heard the cars and driver’s license analogy before, but it seems more appropriate to point it towards carrying in public – One can buy a car without a license, one just can’t drive it on public roads. Similarly to firearms, one can buy, can’t carry without a license.

    I don’t like the NRA, it should have stuck to education and marksmanship and left the dirty politicking to other organizations, but its spot in the crosshair here is unearned. Given the Keystone Kops ineptitude of both the FBI and the local sheriff’s department in regards to Cruz, it is very difficult to me to blame anyone or anything but the three of them – in the reverse of reading order. The biggest threat to life and liberty in this country is the war on vice: DEA/police, cartels, gangs, pharmaceutical companies, the so called “correctional” system. Where’s the push against the biggest killers? Opioids alone killed 29k people by OD in 2014. Murder victims in the same year: 12k. By firearm: 8k, the majority of which were related to the drug trade, and by handgun.

    “Defining any attempt to regulate guns as simultaneously oppressive and ineffectual is a weak rhetorical trick pushed by the NRA.”

    Any attempt? Probably. The most famous and popular attempts were the Brady Bill and the ’94 AWB however, and I would assert they were both oppressive and ineffectual.

    Leaving a question: The AR-15 along with its other semiauto variants have been available to the public since the early 60s. The capabilities and availability of the Armalite (not to mention ANY other rifle) have basically not changed over the last half century – what’s different now? Why is it such a problem now?

  27. “Thinking you can defend yourself against ‘the gummint’ with a rifle makes as much as sense as….”

    You can’t defend yourself against the government.

    But here are two examples. In the Philippines, we chased the guys with rifles up into the mountains where they couldn’t get enough to eat. Then for 90 years the US Marines staged occasional “hunting trips” up there to destroy their agriculture and kill them. The Marines got a little combat experience out of it, and nothing significant ever came of any of it.

    In Iraq, the guys with machine guns could do nothing against our body armor. They could do something with IEDs while there was a lot of explosives lying around for them to use. It got harder when they had to get nitric acid to make their own explosives. What they could do was to keep us from setting up a puppet government. They could shoot Iraqi people that we didn’t protect enough, and without collaborators we couldn’t pretend the war was won, so we were stuck there and couldn’t pull out. We handled that by creating an ethnic conflict, getting a whole lot of ethnic cleansing, and then people didn’t want violence in their own ethnicly-cleansed communities and in Shia controlled areas accepted the puppet government, and in ISIS controlled areas they accepted the ISIS government.

    If it came to guys with rifles in the USA, they could prevent order until everybody got sick of them, but they could not scratch the shine on government munitions.

    “I would think depriving the people who keep society alive and functioning (farmers, manufacturers, etc.) the best options for defending themselves from rioters and looters as folly.”

    That is more to the point. If the US economy collapses and starving urban people come streaming out of the cities looking for food, it’s civilian weapons that rural Americans will need to slaughter them.

  28. Jonah: It’s an interesting exercise, and you make good points. I can’t get too far into a discussion regarding this at the moment, but think of the numbers if only a quarter of the gun-owning population decided to revolt, many of whom would be combat vets. 30 million, give or take. Total US Military is 2 million, and that’s including reserves. Infantry/actual “swinging dicks”? Tenth of that, generously. Can the revolt win, if winning’s even a thing in this scenario? Unsure. Enough to convince the powers that be that whatever action sparked the revolt was a very bad idea and should be rethought, and/or multiple sectors of the military to at the very least stop what they’re doing? Remember they would be killing their countrymen, their brothers-in-arms. I think it’s possible. At minimum the government munition paint job would be downgraded to semigloss or satin.

    “If the US economy collapses and starving urban people come streaming out of the cities looking for food, it’s civilian weapons that rural Americans will need to slaughter them.” Yep. Not trying to be flippant, but there are precious few good outcomes when the hand that feeds is bitten.

  29. “Can the revolt win, if winning’s even a thing in this scenario?”

    Probably, winning is not a thing in this scenario.

    But if a quarter of the civilians with guns is ready to revolt, and the reset of the civilians with guns are not ready to take any stand, there’s a fair chance the military will be split themselves. There’s a fair chance the government will be split. Some states will be ready to secede. Others will be undecided whether to fight them or declare good riddance. So by the time it gets to that point, the civilians with rifles probably will not be much of a factor.

    The way they could be a big factor is in ethnic cleansing. In places where the public is split around 70:30 in favor of revolt down to 30:70 the guys who want to revolt might kill and terrorize enough of the others to persuade them to run away. So they get more than their share of the land. That makes them look like assholes to the world, and increases the chance it will turn into real civil war.

    Say that the civilians with rifles have a different political philosophy than most people without. One that says fanaticism is OK, and ethnic cleansing is OK, and it’s OK for the conquerors to lord it over the conquered. Then the US military is less likely to be split (though it can still happen). The guys with rifles need a lot of logistics that isn’t easy to arrange. If they take over a big area and don’t organize well, they can’t arrange the logistics to defend it. If they organize the taxes etc and take from the locals well enough to defend themselves, but their leaders are secret, then you basicly have ISIS. The locals will be unhappy and won’t support them all that well.

    To make a scenario where “winning” makes sense, you need the US representative government to break down to the point that the government is utterly unrepresentative and does things that enrage a lot of people. (Rather than talk about doing stupid enraging things and then mostly not getting around to actually doing them, which is the usual approach.) The military would have to support the government in its stupidity. Politicians would have to fail to see the political goldmine this offered them, and would fail to present political solutions. So the disorganized riflemen would create an organization which….

    I have some trouble filling in the details at this point. But to get this far we need massive failures of government and government backup systems and probably some sort of weird military brainwashing that keeps the actual military from recognizing the truths that the civilian riflemen see.

    It doesn’t look very plausible to me, though far more plausible than it did in 2015. And in 1999 I couldn’t have imagined it. And in 1979 I’m not sure I would have even understood the concept. So even though it still seems unlikely, I have to admit we’re coming closer.

  30. I know for sure that the gun debate following the Parkland School shooting has helped to show how utterly bankrupt and unresponsive (to all but the .001% and their interests) the national political institutions, including congress, actually are.

    But I agree with those who argued that mass shootings carried out by lone weirdos grab a lot of headlines but are ultimately a small drop in the bucket compared to death tolls from opioid addictions and heart disease.

    The Parkland victims are impossible to ignore, discredit, or shout down so they are kind of running amok right now and that is a good thing. It may tend to show that regular people can make a difference.

    I am much more interested, however, in the state-wide West Virginia teacher’s strike going on now. Apparently the rank and file broke ranks from their “leadership” who had cut a deal with the school districts on a wage scale that had teachers qualifying for WIC and forced to choose between food and paying their health care premiums. Apparently the school employees (janitors, secretaries, para pros, bus drivers?) rank and file have joined in, too. Don’t tune in to MSNBC to catch the latest on the West Virginia stuff, though. MSNBC is running coverage of “Russiagate” 24/7.

  31. Shooting up a school used to be unthinkable. But when things start to happen, we think about them.

  32. Howardbreeze: At least one theory as to motivation is very much in line with your comment https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/thresholds-of-violence/amp

  33. Throw out the divisive voices of the arms merchants. You have nothing to lose but your fears.

  34. skzb

    Kragar: I’m with you on that.

  35. Kragar- “But I agree with those who argued that mass shootings carried out by lone weirdos grab a lot of headlines but are ultimately a small drop in the bucket compared to death tolls from opioid addictions and heart disease.”

    Mass shootings are also a small drop in the bucket compared to ordinary, every day, garden variety shootings. Gun owners shoot themselves, their friends, and their neighbors in staggering numbers. That is why, statistically, reducing the number and power of firearms is guaranteed to reduce the death toll.

    We might have just as many discontented killers attempting to murder masses of citizens, but both they and the law-abiding gun fans will do less damage. Wouldn’t it be great if mass homicides had to be carried out with machetes, like in the UK? I mean, still horrifying, but a lot more survivable.

    Aside from fixes to the lack of oversight and ridiculously low barriers to weapon ownership here, I am certain that creating a more just society would also help. No doubt billionaires think of themselves as oppressed any time we try to pass laws limiting their power, but still…

    An end to perpetual war. An end to the death penalty. An end to corporate domination of politics. An end to racial injustice in law enforcement.

    So many levers to push at to move the problem. We have an embarrassment of opportunities to increase our safety by increasing our liberties.

  36. larswyrdson:Exactly. There are a myriad of levers to pull and yet we pull none.

  37. Is there a problem?
    Yes.
    Does something need to be done?
    Yes.
    There are comments about how the governments actions are causing many of the problems. Police killing without repercussions (that definitely needs to be fixed).
    However, there are countless people that don’t trust the government (hitler had gun registration so he could confiscate them).
    No an individual cannot fight the government, but it wasn’t individuals that fought Russia in Afghanistan.
    Personally I think if “safety” was the main concern considering gun deaths are not in the top 15 causes of death shouldn’t the debate be about how to correct what is really killing so many Americans?

  38. @Dwight Walter “shouldn’t the debate be about how to correct what is really killing so many Americans?”

    That would be rational. But the debates are not about how to solve the world’s problems. The debates are about who the bad guys are, and how to punish them.

    If there’s no bad guy, there’s no debate. So the economic debate is about who the bad guys are. Conservatives want to say the bad guys are the welfare cheats or the homeless moochers, and on the other end the bad guys are capitalists. In both cases, the focus is on finding the bad guys and stopping them from being bad.

    With gun control we have the bad guys who want guns (who aren’t SO bad except that they harbor the bad guys who actually shoot people instead of just fondling their guns). And then there are the bad guys who want to take away our freedoms by taking away our guns.

    Half the people in the USA will get cancer, though a big fraction of them will die of something else before they die of their cancers. The traditional estimate is that 80% of this comes from environmental causes. We could very much reduce our cancer rates by reducing environmental pollution. Reduce our exposure to fossil fuels and their combustion products. Reduce our exposure to industrial chemicals which have not been thoroughly tested.

    The only reason not to do that is the expense — it would surely cost more to clean up the environment than the medical treatment for the cancers. Or maybe it wouldn’t. But there are no bad guys. We can say that capitalist industrialists spread poisons because they don’t care about anything but profits, but that’s more an argument to get rid of capitalists (or at least take away their profits and enjoy them ourselves) than to clean up. We can say that government regulation of widespread poison takes away our freedom to poison each other, but that sounds just too stupid.

    It’s hard to have a good debate about it, so the issue gets ignored.

  39. “But there are no bad guys.”

    Or when the bad guy is really ourselves, most strikingly (but not even close to solely) in regards to the obesity epidemic. Who wants to face that? It’s obviously someone or something else’s fault. Probably something nebulous, like societal pressure, so the can can be kicked around indefinitely without anything actually being done.

  40. larswyrdson: “Mass shootings are also a small drop in the bucket compared to ordinary, every day, garden variety shootings. Gun owners shoot themselves, their friends, and their neighbors in staggering numbers. That is why, statistically, reducing the number and power of firearms is guaranteed to reduce the death toll.”

    After the U.K. banned the private ownership of handguns in 1997, the homicide rate went up. I am NOT claiming causation. Instead, my point is that there are other factors that are more significant than the number and effectiveness of firearms that drive homicide rates. The experience in the U.S. over the last 25 years is another example. Over the past 25 years, the number of firearms (particularly the numbers of AR-15s) has increased dramatically. This increase in the number of firearms occurred at the same time as a dramatic decrease in the homicide rate. This is the mirror image of England, but again demonstrates that homicide rate is primarily driven by factors other than the number or effectiveness of firearms.

    On a practical level, I do not see how the U.S. can (in the short and medium term) reduce the rate of homicides in which firearms are used. The Supreme Court has stated handguns are protected by the 2d Amendment. Handguns account for the vast majority of homicides committed with a firearm. AR-15s are a drop in the bucket of blood. Accordingly, the first step to reducing the number of handguns in the U.S. would be to repeal the 2d Amendment. Check out Article V of the Constitution and how the 2d Amendment polls in individual states. Repealing the 2d Amendment is exceedingly unlikely. Moreover, even if the 2d Amendment were repealed, there are somewhere between 250 and 350 million firearms in the U.S., the vast majority of which are unregistered. When California enacted regulations on assault weapons, the compliance rate in registering the covered weapons was abysmal (predicted, since the number of covered weapons is unknown).

    Accordingly, even if the U.S. were to repeal the 2d Amendment and then pass laws prohibiting the private ownership of firearms, prior experience strongly suggests most of the guns in private hands would not be surrendered. In order to obtain the contraband guns, government agents would have to conduct searches of virtually every inch of the country, including private residences. Since most guns are unregistered, there would be no probable cause to search the vast majority of homes. Since the 4th Amendment prohibits searches of homes without probable cause (with exceptions), the U.S. would need to repeal the 4th Amendment in addition to the 2d Amendment.

    How many of you want to repeal the 4th Amendment and give government agents carte blanche to search homes without probable cause?

  41. Kukuforguns, I think your basic point is correct. We have too many gun-owners who want to keep their guns, for any sort of real gun control to work politically. So it won’t happen.

    Many of your minor points have major flaws. But your central idea is unassailable.

    If we had the political will to do it, we wouldn’t have to search a lot of houses. Just set a mandatory 30 day imprisonment for being caught having a gun while not associated with an official state-run militia, and confiscate the gun. Occasionally have gun-sniffing dogs point out guns to police, and the police could if they chose be nice about it and just take the gun and not bother with the arrest and imprisonment. You could still keep your guns hidden and not be bothered as long as you don’t have them in public and never in any way call attention to them. (Like by shooting them.) If you face a situation where you have a gun and you fear for your life, you can shoot it and what’s 30 days compared to your life?

    There are various practical ways to reduce the number of guns in use. A gun kept permanently well-hidden and never used, is not an issue. Like the tree falling in the forest that makes or doesn’t make a noise.

    But that doesn’t really matter, because we do not have the political will. Even though it could be done, it will not be done.

  42. Jonah Thomas: “Occasionally have gun-sniffing dogs point out guns to police . . .”

    The Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement officers from taking a dog onto the porch of a home (absent probable cause) to search for contraband. While 4th Amendment precedent might have a different result with respect to areas outside the curtilage, the safe bet is that law enforcement officers cannot walk a dog around your home to find contraband.

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-564_5426.pdf

  43. kukuforguns- why is it always all or nothing? Tobacco isn’t illegal, but every year there are fewer and fewer addicts still using it, due to incremental changes in law. Keep the 2nd and all the rest of the Amendments, I think they’re great! But every right has corresponding limitations.

    Scalia’s decision was, I think, dead wrong, as were nearly all of his legal opinions, but we must let it stand until a better decision comes out of some future Court. Even Scalia doesn’t say that all regulation of firearms is unconstitutional. A few off the top of my head:

    Make the background check process more rigorous and universal, with a longer waiting period.

    Raise the age limit to buy a gun.

    Require safety training and secure storage before allowing a purchase.

    Limit the size of magazines.

    Allow businesses, in all states, to prohibit guns on their premises.

    End Internet sales of firearms and regulate gun shows like any gun dealer.

    Limit the muzzle velocity and rate of fire of rifles.

    Impose a sizable tax on firearms and ammunition.

    Eliminate concealed carry except for licensed security professionals.

    Ban firearms from all schools, courthouses, houses of worship, and, most especially, bars.

    None of those would be unconstitutional, none of them would seriously infringe on your right to own a firearm, they just limit your choice of weapons and raise the bar of inconvenience. People respond to small inconveniences with changes in behavior. Making it harder and more expensive to arm yourself wouldn’t stop citizens from buying guns, but fewer would choose or, if they did, they would buy fewer. That does nothing to eliminate the arsenal already in private hands, but even without raids and civil war, we can slowly reverse the insane explosion of weaponry we are now being buried under.

  44. Dwight: “hitler had gun registration so he could confiscate them”

    I think it would be more accurate to say Hitler used gun registration records from the Weimar Republic to disarm Jews and other “subject races”.

  45. Larswyrdson: “None of those would be unconstitutional, none of them would seriously infringe on your right to own a firearm”

    We’ll have to disagree about most of the items on your list.

    The NRA and other civil liberty organizations have supported more thorough background checks. One of the obstructions is that a background check is not synonymous with registration, and many bills that would revise the background check process include registration. Gun registration is a hurdle too high for most gun owners. The fix NICS bill is likely to pass this session.

    The power to tax, is the power to destroy.

    Every school shooting (of which I am aware) was committed by a person who was in illegal possession of a weapon when the shooting occurred.

    Commercial sales of firearms at gun shows are regulated just like sales at a gun shop.

    Regulate velocity? Now you’re going to get the hunters involved.

    I have no problem prohibiting concealed carry so long as open carriage is legal. Which would you prefer?

    Limit magazine capacity? I think you overestimate the utility of large magazines. The deadliest school shooting in U.S. history (Virginia Tech) was committed almost completely with a .22 LR semi-automatic pistol equipped with 10 round magazines. The most important component of a weapon system is the operator.

    Rate of fire? This prohibits ownership of semi-automatic weapons – the most common type of firearm in the U.S. The Supreme Court specifically stated the 2d Amendment applies to weapons in common use (i.e., semi-automatic weapons). In any event, I can fire a revolver (double action) very nearly as fast as I can fire a semi-automatic weapon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLk1v5bSFPw). I can fire a pump shotgun almost as fast as I can a semi-automatic weapon. I can fire a lever action rifle almost as fast as I can a semi-automatic weapon. Even bolt action firearms can be fired extremely quickly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8d9k6pHqYw

    In most states, owners of real estate can prohibit guns on their premises. The only exception that comes to mind are laws that require businesses to allow employees to store firearms in their cars.

  46. larswyrdson: Amost all schools are “gun free zones”, as are most courthouses. I was talking to an off duty LEO and was told in Ohio even LEO’s cannot carry in a bar if they are drinking. Internet sales still have to go thru a licensed gun dealer.

    kukuforguns: I stand corrected on that my apologies., had/used

    Jonah Thomas: it’s not so much about who the bad guy is, it’s about money and power. The corporations/people that have the money control the power. Case in point bernie vs hilary, bernie was a much better candidate from a people stand point but hilary had the money behind her and we see how that worked out.

  47. kukuforguns “The Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement officers from taking a dog onto the porch of a home (absent probable cause) to search for contraband.”

    I don’t care if you keep a gun on your property provided nobody ever finds out about it. I don’t need the police to search your house or your porch without probable cause.

    What I want you to not do, is never shoot it, and never carry it off your property to someplace you might get into an altercation or something. Never do anything to let people know you have it. I don’t need the police to search your home for guns they don’t know you have.

    But if you carry a concealed gun off your property then you are fair game. If you leave your property smelling like guns then that’s evidence. If you shoot a gun and the sound or the smell is detected, that’s evidence.

    So long as you only fondle your guns in privacy and wash up afterward, and keep them hidden well enough that burglars don’t find them, and the criminals who sold them to you don’t rat you out, then it’s strictly your own business.

    If somebody else carries a gun in public on the way to confront you on your own property, I hope they get caught before they arrive.

    If they confront you on your own property and they don’t have a gun, I hope you won’t feel obligated to shoot them. If it’s a serious problem that’s worth 30 days and the loss of whatever guns the police find, and whatever other charges you get, then go ahead — you have to make your own choices about your own well-being.

    But this is all hypothetical. We don’t have the political will to do anything effective.

  48. “But this is all hypothetical. We don’t have the political will to do anything effective.” Well, darn, you just short circuited a long rebuttal. That was just cruel.

  49. kukuforguns- if you can call the NRA a civil liberties organization with a straight face, then there probably aren’t too many terms we can define in the same terms. The NRA is lobbying organization promoting the desires of gun manufacturers.

    In any case, you miss my point. You think that none of my proposed regulations would stop gun violence, and you are right. You seem to think they would be burdensome, and you are right. That us the point. The more annoying it is too amass an arsenal, the fewer people will bother.

    I really don’t care if you think that skill and practice would let you kill just as many people with a 5 round magazine as if you had a 10 or 20 round magazine. I would be thrilled if only shooters as skilled as you could manage it! If it is even a little harder, then the body count will go down. If what’s his name in Las Vegas didn’t have a bump stock, could he still have slaughtered dozens of people? Absolutely! Would he have killed 10 or 20 less than he actually did? Probably, and that is reason enough.

    In any case, I’d be happy with the NRA-purchased politicians supporting any legislation other than “put more guns in schools to fix gun violence”.

    Also, if there were less income disparity, I would personally feel less murderous. No doubt that would help other people too.

  50. Lars: My objections to your proposals to burden 2d Amendment rights stem from (at least) two different beliefs.

    One, is that I think the 2d Amendment on the whole is a good idea. It discourages tyranny and invasion.

    Two, is that I believe in the Constitution. A written rule of law that puts specific limits on the power of government and identifies rights of individuals. The Constitution does not indicate the 2d Amendment protects a lesser right than the rights protected by the 1st and 4th Amendments. Accordingly, if we decide laws (like your proposals) limiting the rights protected by the 2d Amendment are constitutional, we are endangering other rights protected by the Bill of Rights. For example, waiting periods. How do you feel about a law that requires you to wait 10 days before posting a comment here? Or a law limiting your political comments to 30 second sound bites (magazine capacity)? If we decide similar laws limiting 2d Amendment rights are constitutional, governments will use that as a justification for similar laws on other rights. Just look at the behavior the government wanted to engage in the cases in which the ACLU has successfully sued various governments. Our governments in the U.S. are not benevolent entities whose primary goal is the good of the people. We the People are in a constant struggle with our governments regarding civil liberty.

    So, yeah, I am a supporter of individual liberty. Any organization that fights government efforts to diminish liberty is doing a good thing when it does so. I have problems with all of the major organizations which litigate to protect civil liberties. I still support their efforts to protect and expand civil liberties.

    You also focus on my stated skill with arms. You bypass my observation regarding the oxygen thief from Virginia Tech. The evidence is that he practiced live fire once with his firearms before implementing his plans. Despite his inexperience, he was able to use a relatively weak cartridge in combination with limited capacity magazines to horrific effect.

    Do you really want to reduce the death toll from school shootings? Then tell your local schools their shooting drills promote high casualty rates. Currently, schools drill students to congregate in classrooms, lock/barricade the door, turn off the lights, and lower the blinds on the windows. Think about that. Schools are drilling students to assemble into a dense group within the target environment. Entry through a window is easy if you have a gun. Given that school shooters are typically current students or recent graduates themselves, they have undergone the same training. Schools are literally teaching shooters where to find victims.

    You are hoping less effective guns will result in a slightly lower casualty rate. You know there is nearly insurmountable political opposition to your plan. I mean, hell, Florida is going the other direction by designating funds to train armed teachers. I’d much rather you and everyone arguing for more gun control focus their efforts on reform that has a chance of succeeding and which is more likely to save lives. But that’s the beauty of a country with relatively strong protection for freedom of expression. You’re free to argue for more gun regulations and I’m going to express my concerns regarding current school drills.

  51. kuku- I’m not going to rebut you point by point. That would be pointless… well, an excess of points? Superfluous points?

    I’ll just say, I am not trying to end school shootings, but if I were, I would be basing my plans on sound research, shown to be effective. That is, don’t harden schools, change their culture to reduce bullying and support students that feel marginalized. Don’t arm staff members, hire more counselors and intervene with at risk kids. Don’t turn them into armed fortresses, turn them into communities.

    As for guns, meh. The Second Amendment? Double meh. I believe in the Constitution too, heck, I’ve seen copies! So, I am certain it exists. I know it was written by a group of men no more intelligent or public minded than the politicians we have today. Certainly men with absolutely no way of knowing what conditions would exist 230 years after they signed it. But even then! I absolutely do not believe they were enshrining an individual right to own tools of homicide. Why mention militia at all, if that were the case? The Second amendment was a compromise, just like the 3/5 rule for slaveowners, between federalists and anti-federalists. It enshrines state militias as superior to a national army. There is ample evidence of that in the written words of the men who actually crafted the amendment.

    Yes, it has been interpreted many ways since then, some of them quite unhelpful to our society as a whole. That is how legal precedent works, sometimes going in one direction for decades or even centuries (again, like all those slaveowner protecting laws) before flipping around and taking the opposite stance, because, well, times change.

    So, to sum up, do I think I can attack your right to keep and bear arms as you see fit without threatening my right to free speech? Why yes, yes I do. Just like the southern states don’t get to count 3/5 of their black residents as population without giving them the right to vote, but still, newspapers are allowed to publish without government approval of their stories. Do I believe that your entitlement to own any weapon you want will somehow protect my rights? No, in no way whatsoever. In fact, since I fear my fellow citizens are just as capable as my federal government of oppressing me and denying me the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness, I would really rather as few of them were armed as can be arranged. I’d include civilian police forces in that as well, if we could manage it. Cops prove time and again that they can’t be trusted with guns. Let them make do with night sticks.

    BUT… since this is a democracy, to some extent, and since all action must, and really should, take place by some sort of consensus that takes into account the majority will, I am willing to take baby steps. Regulate firearms like any other dangerous product, do not enshrine special protections for gun makers or owners, treat guns just like cars. Allow the CDC to track gun deaths so that they can make recommendations! If the debate weren’t so completely skewed by the black money from the NRA, I am certain that steps could be taken in the right direction.

    No law passed will ever end automobile accidents.That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t require seat belts, set speed limits, safety test automobiles. The majority of Americans support stricter gun laws. I am completely open to debate about what those might be, willing to listen to expert opinion, and even willing to listen to the preference of gun-owners. I am not willing to debate you, ad nauseum, about muzzle velocities and clip capacity. I am not a gun nerd. I just don’t care that much.

    Can we be completely honest about one thing though? Just for a minute? Leave hunters out of it completely, though, because semiautomatic weapons, clips that hold more than a few rounds, pistols of any kind… that’s not really about hunting, is it? No competent hunter should need more than two shots to take down their prey, and concealable weapons are unnecessary to sneak up on raccoons. We are talking about tools of homicide. That is their intended purpose, that is their design function. In your mind, of course, it would always be justifiable homicide. You aren’t evil, I am sure. You mean well.

    But honestly, why is preserving your ability to kill at your personal discretion a sacred right that preserves society against tyranny? How does that work? And, I always want to ask this, does that mean that James Hodgkinson is a hero? Sirhan Sirhan? Oswald? Booth? Hinckley? Maybe not him, since he wasn’t political. Just trying to impress a girl. Still, what exactly are we accomplishing by holding firearms as a sacred class of weapon that cannot be regulated?

  52. Oooh! Much better question!

    If the Second Amendment really does prevent government tyranny, why in the holy hell are so many Congressmen trying to preserve it! That puppy would have been drowned in a tin bathtub before it ever opened it’s eyes if that really were true.

    Think about it.

  53. Larswyrdson: “I would be basing my plans on sound research, shown to be effective. That is, don’t harden schools, change their culture to reduce bullying and support students that feel marginalized. ”

    I am unaware of any sound research showing that anti-bullying policies reduce school shootings. I am happy to review any such research. The Virginia Tech report reflects that multiple attempts were made to get the shooter to engage. His parents paid for counseling. He could not engage.

    “Allow the CDC to track gun deaths so that they can make recommendations! ”

    The CDC does track “gun deaths” and makes the data freely available in several different manners. https://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html There is a wealth of scholarly publications analyzing CDC data regarding violence involving guns.

    “what exactly are we accomplishing by holding firearms as a sacred class of weapon that cannot be regulated?”

    Your premise is wrong. The 2d Amendment protects the right to keep a bear arms. Firearms are a subset of arms. The 2d Amendment also applies, for example, to knives and body armor. Moreover, the right to keep and bear arms pre-exists tyrannical governments. The right to protect physical integrity is a human right. Without arms, the weak have no defense against the evil.

    As to your question regarding political assassins, individual liberty necessarily implies the ability to act in an evil fashion. The only way to prevent people from acting evilly is to remove individual agency (which is one of the rationales/goals of imprisonment). Moreover, guns are not uniquely dangerous – which addresses the argument that eliminating guns will significantly reduce an evil person’s ability to cause harm. Anyone with an IQ above (insert arbitrary number here) and a modicum of imagination can come up with ways to kill a lot more people than we see in these school shootings. Use your imagination: https://www.bing.com/search?q=200+gallon+tank&form=EDGEAR&qs=PF&cvid=3dc910ba3efa48d9aaeb0d9a303b951e&cc=US&setlang=en-US https://www.bing.com/search?q=high+pressure+pump+rental&form=EDGEAR&qs=AS&cvid=ef6c29cfb0814cceabe11f9b6d061cae&cc=US&setlang=en-US School shooters are following a script laid down by the Columbine oxygen thieves (well, actually, only one of the thieves). As more school shootings occur, the script becomes better defined.

    Your assertion that you’re not a gun nerd and that you don’t care to educate yourself about the mechanics of guns is something that drives proponents of strong protection for the right to keep and bear arms batty. It’s what led to the silliness of the first AWB and politicians saying a barrel shroud is the thing that goes up. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, why should anyone listen to your recommendations as to what laws would improve the situation? Please at least consider the possibility that when a gun nerd is willing to engage you in conversation, the gun nerd is genuinely interested in creating a safer society.

    And no, the design and purpose of guns is not homicide. Guns kill far more non-human animals than humans. http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/110232.html Guns are designed to project force. How that force is used is a human choice. And we’re back to individual liberty.

  54. Lars: “If the Second Amendment really does prevent government tyranny, why in the holy hell are so many Congressmen trying to preserve it! That puppy would have been drowned in a tin bathtub before it ever opened it’s eyes if that really were true.”

    That’s easy. Because it gets them elected. The reason the NRA is powerful is because it has millions of single issue voting members. Politicians will do anything to get elected. You can test this theory out. Chart public opinion about guns through the various election districts and then compare to the NRA’s grades of the politicians for the same districts. I have not done this myself, but I think we both strongly suspect the outcome.

  55. larswyrdson: “I am not willing to debate you, ad nauseum, about muzzle velocities and clip capacity. I am not a gun nerd. I just don’t care that much.”

    Yet you are willing to limit others’ rights in regards to them. You have a very strong opinion regarding a subject that you apparently just admitted both don’t care about and don’t know much about; that doesn’t seem conducive to persuading anyone of anything, let alone persuading someone on something this contentious. Learn these things – at the very least you will come out knowing more of thy enemy.

    I’d also read through the stories and statistics regarding defensive use of firearms. There’s a ton of info out there, if you care to look. Might change your mind on a few things, or perhaps just temper your rhetoric to a more effective Rockwell.

    “If the Second Amendment really does prevent government tyranny, why in the holy hell are so many Congressmen trying to preserve it! That puppy would have been drowned in a tin bathtub before it ever opened it’s eyes if that really were true.”

    Assuming this is snark, but: I haven’t got the optimism beaten out of me fully. I believe there are certain rights so supported by the people that even the tyrant-minded in Congress can’t touch them – the main ones of which are in the Constitution. Unless you are insinuating we are already under a tyranny… in that case I respectfully disagree.

  56. kukuforguns- The NRA is powerful because it funnels unlimited amounts of money from questionable sources into the pockets of politicians.

    Also the sheep voter thing, sure.

    Nathan- My take on the whole question really is just the economist’s solution to the problem of firearm proliferation, which is how I define the problem. Increase the costs associated with a behavior and you inhibit the behavior. With that as a methodology, then maximum utility can be achieved by figuring out whatever the most onerous legislation is that can be accepted by the majority of voters and pass that.

    So, yes, if I were actually a lobbyist trying to push through new laws, I would need to parse out all the language and insider knowledge of firearms, figure out what gun owners most care about, what they would be willing to give up. My list of possible regulations, as it was clearly labelled, was off the top of my head. I really don’t know which, if any of them, is passable, and which would have any great effect. I would also have to sound more sympathetic to gun owners than I actually am, and convince them I care about their gun ownership.

    Fortunately, I am not in that position. I do not expect to convert you to my view, that by buying a firearm you are only putting yourself and your loved ones at greater risk. I don’t think that is likely ever to occur. I hope, that whether you ever realize that or not, you are still reasonable enough to accept that there should be some limits on your hobby. I am perfectly willing to discuss what they may be.

    I just get bored talking about some of it. 😉

  57. Larswyrdson: “The NRA is powerful because it funnels unlimited amounts of money from questionable sources into the pockets of politicians.”

    The NRA’s contributions are peanuts compared to the total amount of political spending. Billionaires and labor unions outspend it. As far as questionable sources, all I’ve seen so far is innuendo. I’m willing to review legitimate news articles regarding the sources of NRA’s wealth.
    https://www.thetrace.org/2016/11/nra-big-bets-election-2016-results/
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/labor-union-election-2016_us_58223b92e4b0e80b02cd7259
    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

  58. kukuforguns:”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Note the well regulated Militia portion. As larswrydson mentions, prior to the Scalia decision, rulings regularly held that both regulated and Militia were critical portions of the text and that people’s right to arms could indeed be regulated.

  59. “You have a very strong opinion regarding a subject that you apparently just admitted both don’t care about and don’t know much about; that doesn’t seem conducive to persuading anyone of anything, let alone persuading someone on something this contentious. Learn these things – at the very least you will come out knowing more of thy enemy.”

    This is an admirable stand.

    If only the people who decided that we should have a war against Islam had spent at least 500 hours each learning about Islam first.

    If only the people who wanted war against Iraq had studied the Iraqi government and society in minute detail.

    Similarly Libya and Syria.

    The people who are opposed to porn should spend a good long time understanding all the details about the porn industry and how it works, and spend at least 1000 hours watching all varieties of porn — hetero, gay, trans, child. pretend-incest, pretend-blackmail, pretend-rape. oral, anal, eye-socket, ear, etc etc etc. BDSM, pegging, coprophagia, contortionist, body-piercing, head-shaving, all the emotional variations with multiple partners including no-emotion. Underwater, in snow, dry heat, moist heat, high winds, aerial silks. They should get a thorough understanding what it is they are opposing.

    People who oppose gun control should get a thorough understanding what it is they are opposing. Spend a good long time studying the topic without arguing. Time spent arguing and opposing does not count.

  60. larswyrdson: “I hope, that whether you ever realize that or not, you are still reasonable enough to accept that there should be some limits on your hobby.”

    I am, and there already are. If you are to suggest more limits, I’d probably refer to a number of states and cities that have already enacted some, to rather unspectacular if not completely opposite effect. If you’ve got something new, please feel free to share.

    Also: not trying to be semanticky here, but the means so many use for protection right along with recreation is not just a hobby. Police response time is an issue even in the best areas, and they seem to have no legal punishment if they do not do their duty (Castle Rock v. Gonzales, along with others. I’m assuming the Broward Kounty Kops are also going to be let off the hook). If I can’t be sure the cops will show in time, or that they will even do their job if they do, I accept the minuscule risk that I or my loved ones will end up on the wrong end.

    “Increase the costs associated with a behavior and you inhibit the behavior.”

    Do you support sin taxes? Guess a big point of our disagreement is the timeless one: Top down vs. bottom up solutions.

    “I just get bored talking about some of it. ”

    Happens to the best of us.

    Steve: “…people’s right to arms could indeed be regulated.” They are. Not necessarily agreeing with you that that is what the 2nd Amendment says, but they are. The extent of which is the debate.

    Jonah: Ooh! I got another one: Abortion is murder! Trisomy 18 and ectopic pregnancy? I’m not a doctor. Don’t know, don’t care, stop killing babies you monsters.

    And, prying my tongue away from its cozy nook in my cheek…

    kuku: I had forgotten about the shoulder thing that goes up quote. Thanks for the chuckle.

  61. The “Scalia Decision.” All nine justices agreed the 2d Amendment protects an individual right. Look at the first paragraph of Justice Stevens dissent. The opinion written by Justice Scalia is the opinion of the Court. You are attempting to delegitimize the opinion by calling it Justice Scalia’s opinion. Until it gets reversed, it’s the definitive interpretation.

  62. Jonah: I think you’re trying to be sarcastic. But, I agree it would have been a good idea if Pres. Bush and his advisors had done a little more cogitating before destroying Iraq’s government. I’m not aware of a war against Islam, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I also believe Sec. Clinton, Pres. Obama, and their advisors should have cogitated a little more before destroying Libya’s government. Pres. Obama agrees with me on that one. I agree that people who want to outlaw pornography should study the issue. I agree that people who want to discuss gun control (pro and con) should study the issue. I disagree with your apparent statement that one cannot learn about an issue by debate.

  63. kukuforguns:The first three paragraphs of Steven’s dissent read:
    The question presented by this case is not whether the Second Amendment protects a “collective right” or an “individual right.” Surely it protects a right that can be enforced by individuals. But a conclusion that the Second Amendment protects an individual right does not tell us anything about the scope of that right.

    Guns are used to hunt, for self-defense, to commit crimes, for sporting activities, and to perform military duties. The Second Amendment plainly does not protect the right to use a gun to rob a bank; it is equally clear that it does encompass the right to use weapons for certain military purposes. Whether it also protects the right to possess and use guns for nonmilitary purposes like hunting and personal self-defense is the question presented by this case. The text of the Amendment, its history, and our decision in United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939) , provide a clear answer to that question.

    The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.

    It is the scope and intent of the amendment that are in question. And, yes I both laugh and wave elderberries in the general direction of the Opinion that was largely written by Scalia.

  64. Steve Halter: “And, yes I both laugh and wave elderberries in the general direction of the Opinion that was largely written by Scalia.”

    Abortion opponents who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Roe v. Wade decision sometimes engage in criminal acts to obstruct women’s right to abortion. I condemn their actions. As long as you laugh and wave elderberries, I’ll just ask you whether you’d rather live in a country where the ruler is chosen by watery tarts throwing swords at people.

  65. “Do you support sin taxes? Guess a big point of our disagreement is the timeless one: Top down vs. bottom up solutions.”

    Well, I don’t believe in sin… But I believe that taxes can be used to inhibit maladaptive behavior. It is one of the primary ways that smoking has been suppressed. The parallels are obvious.

    Tobacco use causes immense societal expense, by destroying the health of both users and innocent bystanders, but, it was too popular and the tobacco lobbyists were too powerful for it to be banned outright. So instead, a long campaign to inhibit the behavior was begun, as part of a plan to improve public health. Public education of the dangers, regulation to raise the age of legal use, high taxes to make it more expensive, limiting where it was legal to smoke… It works. Smoking is still legal, anyone can choose to smoke. Fewer and fewer do.

    Look, I know you are sincere in your beliefs. If you want to convince me that your carrying around the means of easy murder is somehow beneficial to me, somehow increases my freedom, go ahead. It’s not going to be an easy sell for you, but I’ll give you an honest chance.

    As things stand, though, I’m going with the facts, as I see them. More guns owned means more gun deaths, period. Those are the statistics. Yes, I am including suicide, accidents, self defense. Dead is dead. As for freedoms?

    In Kansas, they just recently changed the ID rules to prevent “voting fraud”. 30,000 legitimate voters weren’t able to vote in the last election. Voting is an essential freedom, right? Did the NRA hold rallies to get those laws overturned? Did gun owners rise up and demand that all Kansans be enfranchised?

    After 9/11 and the Patriot Act, this whole country took a massive lurch towards police state status. FISA warrants gave the government broad new rights to engage in domestic spying. Fourth Amendment, right? Why, the aides of a Presidential candidate were recently wiretapped in search of foreign spies! Horrors! Did the NRA and all gun owners leap up and demand an end to secret courts and restoration of privacy?

    Tyranny? Our President seems to be in the middle of a relentless campaign to delegitimize the press as a whole, calling every story he doesn’t like fake news. That is a direct attack on the First Amendment! That is one better than the Second! Have guns owners risen up and threatened Second Amendment remedies if he says one more bad thing about CNN?

    Not that I’ve noticed.

    Yes, as a historical artifact, we have the right to own firearms enshrined in our core legal framework. I don’t deny it. Determining the limits of those rights depends on their value to us as a society, and to the dangers inherent in them. The dangers are obvious to me, although you would say I overestimate them. The benefits are not apparent at all.

    As near as I can see, the only right gun owners protect is the right to own guns.

  66. kukuforguns:No, I would lean more towards the autonomous collective end.

  67. With supreme executive authority assigned on a rotatory basis?

  68. Lars:Just so! As long as all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting.

  69. Lars “As near as I can see, the only right gun owners protect is the right to own guns.”

    The NRA is a single issue civil liberty organization. It focuses on the Second Amendment. Some gun owners are members of the NRA. But only a relatively small percentage. Some gun owners support the ACLU, which protects other civil liberties.

    As my comments above indicate, I support all the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and then some. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether I am a gun owner.

    I don’t see how it would help a voting rights dispute for me to announce, “Hey, I’m a gun owner. Let’s make sure poor people can exercise their right to vote.” It would be irrelevant and distracting.

    So, I’m going to say your conclusion is not supported by your facts.

  70. Kukufirguns-the rule in the real world is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs. The claim of 2nd A supporters is that gun ownership increases freedom of all kinds. Kindly make an attempt to prove it.

  71. Lars: I refer you to the Declaration of Independence, which identified some freedoms that we’re being infringed by a tyrannical government. I refer you to a period of disagreement between English subjects regarding the infringement of the rights referenced in the Declaration of Independence. I ask you to acknowledge that the private ownership of arms helped resolve the disagreement between English subjects. I refer you to the Constitution.

  72. “Anyone with an IQ above (insert arbitrary number here) and a modicum of imagination can come up with ways to kill a lot more people than we see in these school shootings.

    I agree. Luckily, mass shootings are always done by people with IQ below that arbitrary number.

    Or possibly the news is suppressed because the media and/or the government prefer that people not think in those terms.

    “US School shooters are following a script laid down by the Columbine oxygen thieves (well, actually, only one of the thieves). As more school shootings occur, the script becomes better defined.”

    Yes! So I say the most effective thing we could do to affect that is to minimize the news when it happens.

    And at the same time, publicize the hell out of attacks on courthouses and IRS buildings. Make something more socially appropriate be the script.

  73. kukuforguns-ok, to make that relevant to current events, you are saying that private ownership of arms are important in case we need to engage in civil conflict? I suppose I’d then point you to the obvious counter example, the Civil War. Although fought with the ostensible goal of resisting the tyranny of Federal authority, I can’t really point to the Confederacy as a bastian of civil rights. Some would, of course, but they are all assholes. Pardon my French.

    But what it all comes down to, doesn’t it, is the contention that sometimes you have to kill to assert your rights? And if you have to, you better be packing.

    The trouble is, weapons are neutral to causes. I can think of far more times when armed men have worked for their own good rather than anyone else’s.

    So, is that the freedom being offered? Because it sounds like freedom from democracy. The right of an armed minority to assert it’s will against the tyranny of majority rule.

    In any case, I completely agree with skzb. If you think a militia of weekend shooters, even armed with AR-15s (oh, and yes, I know it stands for Armalite 😉 is going to take down the Armed Forces of the US, please! Give me some of what you are smoking! I could use a hit or two.

  74. larswyrdson – “Look, I know you are sincere in your beliefs. If you want to convince me that your carrying around the means of easy murder is somehow beneficial to me, somehow increases my freedom, go ahead. It’s not going to be an easy sell for you, but I’ll give you an honest chance.”

    I suppose I’ll try the beneficial angle as kuku seemed to go for the freedom angle, athough you counting suicide and defensive uses by gun as damning as other deaths in your analysis makes me doubtful.

    Plenty of things fall under the category of means of easy murder. Precious few count as easy defense. I’m assuming you haven’t looked up the defensive gun use stats, the likely number of unreported crimes stopped by simple brandishing, nor read up on any of the more high profile cases… they don’t get much if any national press. Example with some video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A804A3WAbB0 . What do you think would have happened erasing the firearms in that situation?

    The very fact that criminals know the possibility exists that you are armed, even though you are not and seem to never want to be, gives you some measure of protection. Put yourself in a crook’s shoes: You’re seeking to steal an old lady’s purse using a knife. Exact same scenario, street, police presence, bystanders, lady, purse… only one is in Texas and the other in Chicago. Which one are you going for?

    Are you willing to put a sign up on your home, proclaiming it a gun free zone in big bold letters? If not, why?

    You’ve stated your fear of your fellow citizens “oppressing [you] and denying [you] the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness,” along with your distrust of both the police and government. Why aren’t you armed?

  75. Lars:

    You asked for an example of where private ownership of guns increased freedoms of all kinds. I gave it. You want more recent? Athens, Georgia. It still won’t satisfy you.

    There was a discussion earlier on March 3 in which Nathan said many of the points I would make in response to your questions about the results of an internal civil war. If your assertion is that a bunch of weekend warriors armed with AR-15s in a pitched battle with the U.S. military cannot win, I agree with you. That is not how it would be fought.

    How long did it take the U.S. government to defeat the insurgency in Iraq? Afghanistan? What were the ROE in Iraq and Afghanistan? Will the ROE be less strict against U.S. citizens than against Iraqis and Afghanis?

    In civil wars, isn’t it fairly common for a sizable percentage of the regime’s arms to end up in the hands of the rebels?

    In a society with admirable dedication to freedom of speech, aren’t there an awful lot of people who have read Mao’s and Che’s manuals on revolution? And the publicly available manuals on how to combat insurgencies? How is the U.S. government going to distinguish between rebels, sympathizers, and supporters. Why are so many people who distrust the government so intent on making strong cryptography so easily available?

    Isn’t it fairly common for foreign nations to stick their noses into civil wars? Can you think of any nations that might interfere if the U.S. became embroiled in a civil war?

    How long can a U.S. government wage war against itself before it loses the support of the patriots fighting on its behalf? Or the public financing the war? Do you think any of the armed forces might sympathize with the rebels?

    Some of those questions cannot be answered in the abstract. We won’t know until we know.

    With respect to your reference to the Civil War, so what? Yes, the Confederacy lost the war. One failure does not mean revolution is impossible. Given your logic, there never should have been a Revolution. The English traitors certainly didn’t know they were going to win. The odds were stacked heavily against the traitors.

  76. In connection with Nathan’s post regarding the utility of guns, I note the National Academy of Sciences – hardly a conservative group – has published two studies on firearms in the United States which both found defensive gun use occurred many times a day (hundreds to thousands). The first was published following the expiration of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in order to fulfill Congress’s mandate for a study regarding the efficacy of the AWB. That study found, among other things that “firearms are used defensively many times per day[.]” Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. In 2013, President Obama ordered a study shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre. That study, Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence, again concluded “Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).” People keep on saying Republicans have used Congress’ power of the purse to prevent studies on gun violence. While the accusation isn’t completely false, neither is it completely true. Read the 2 studies. They are relatively non-partisan. Neither “side” scores a knockout. If you read the studies, you will be better informed than the vast majority of people (which won’t matter since most people don’t care about the evidence).

  77. kukuforguns:The NAS study says on Defensive gun use:

    “Over the past decade, a number of researchers have conducted studies to measure the prevalence of defensive gun use in the population. However, disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection have resulted in estimated prevalence rates that differ by a factor of 20 or more. These differences in the estimated prevalence rates indicate either that each survey is measuring something different or that some or most of them are in error. Accurate measurement on the extent of defensive gun use is the first step for beginning serious dialogue on the efficacy of defensive gun use at preventing injury and crime.
    For such measurement, the committee recommends that a research program be established to (1) clearly define and understand what is being measured, (2) understand inaccurate response in the national gun use surveys, and (3) apply known methods or develop new methods to reduce reporting errors to the extent possible. A substantial research literature on reporting errors in other contexts, as well as well-established survey sampling methods, can and should be brought to bear to evaluate these response problems.”

    The lack of good, consistent rigorously obtained data is an general theme of the document.

    For the non-homicide intent crime portion of gun violence/defense, I would recommend reducing crime and the underlying factors thereof. If people aren’t committing crimes, there is no need to have guns to defend against them.

  78. kukuforguns- “With respect to your reference to the Civil War, so what? Yes, the Confederacy lost the war. One failure does not mean revolution is impossible. ”

    Umm, I think you missed my point a little there. I’m not criticizing the Confederacy for losing! I was illustrating that armed revolt does not necessarily lead to increased freedom. They were doomed to fail, since the Confederacy was just the last gasp of landed aristocrats trying to preserve the political hegemony that wealth and unjust laws had bought them. But if they had won, in some other universe where the forces of history weren’t quite so stacked against them, their revolt would not have improved anyone’s civil liberties. Context matters.

    I’m afraid I don’t know your Athens incident. When I google Athens Georgia and guns, most of what I see are road rage and guns at school stories. Are you talking about the Battle Of Athens in 46? If so, that at least had a better justification.

    As for self defense, I absolutely support anyone’s right to defend themselves. That does not mean they can use any means they like to do it, or that carrying a gun is the best way to do it. I hate to use anecdotes as evidence, but I will use just one to show why it is so difficult to use as a justification. George Zimmerman acted in self defense. If he hadn’t been armed, I really doubt he would have had the stones to walk up to a scary black teen with a pocket full of candy, but he was! So he felt emboldened to get in the kid’s face and start brandishing. When that didn’t work out like he thought it would, he shot Trayvon. Self defense.

    Nathan “The very fact that criminals know the possibility exists that you are armed, even though you are not and seem to never want to be, gives you some measure of protection.”

    You are making an assumption about the thought processes of criminals that doesn’t seem verifiable. I could argue that the possibility of my being armed actually gives them a more compelling reason to rob me. Guns are desirable, especially if you want to do some crimes. Stolen guns are often used in crimes, aren’t they?

    We can look at whether right to carry laws decrease crime though. The most rigorous study I know of is a Stanford University study that looked at 30 years of crime data in all 50 states. It showed a 15% increase in violent crime in any state after about 10 years of instituting right to carry laws. Why? That is a lot harder to say. Most of the increase was aggravated assault. Other studies have shown conclusively that carrying a hand gun tends to make you more aggressive and combative when faced with conflict.

    To get back to mass shootings, which again isn’t the main problem but does offer a useful lesson here, the FBI did a very intensive study of 160 mass shootings over the period from 2000 to 2013. There was only one case where an armed citizen successfully intervened to stop to the killer. There were 22 stopped by unarmed citizens.

  79. Steve Halter: “For the non-homicide intent crime portion of gun violence/defense, I would recommend reducing crime and the underlying factors thereof.”

    How am I supposed to discern the intent of someone committing armed robbery? Should I wait until they kill me before I use force to protect myself? Should I tell my daughter that when a man is trying to rape her that she can use only less-lethal means to resist a larger, stronger assailant? How about someone who is known to permanently maim his victims – should I use only less-lethal means to defend myself against an assailant where it is unclear I will prevail?

    I certainly support your intermediate goal of reducing violent crime.

    Also, I’m glad that you have started reading the more recent NAS study. It’s a good primer to introduce people to the complexities of the debate and the wealth of studies examining some of the issues.

  80. Nathan- I missed this before. “You’ve stated your fear of your fellow citizens “oppressing [you] and denying [you] the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness,” along with your distrust of both the police and government. Why aren’t you armed?”

    But I am armed! With my wits and moral certainty! 😉

  81. “You are making an assumption about the thought processes of criminals that doesn’t seem verifiable.”

    Criminals, on the average, don’t have the IQ of the general population, and I admit I don’t have the mind of one. Hard to believe that the majority of them wouldn’t make the more rational conclusion, however, although I’ve not seen any papers done on it. Would be interesting.

    As to the making oneself a target, this is why people don’t advertise their firearm status, one way or the other. It’s the reason I think open carry is silly, yet support licensed concealed carry.

    Would like links, or at least titles/dates to your studies if you wouldn’t mind. Every single CCW person I know is more likely to deescalate/retreat while carrying than not for multiple reasons, not the least of which is because none of them want to shoot anybody.

    “But I am armed! With my wits and moral certainty!”

    The pen is indeed mightier. 🙂

  82. larswyrdson: “I was illustrating that armed revolt does not necessarily lead to increased freedom.”

    If that was your point, then my response is “You’re right.” Why let tyrants monopolize force? Why do you think the South had laws prohibiting teaching Blacks to read or firearm possession?

    “Are you talking about the Battle Of Athens in 46?”

    Yes. This incident also demonstrates something both sides of the debate tend to overlook: tyranny doesn’t always flow from the national level. Tyranny can be local. For example, I am less concerned with the U.S. national armed forces than with local law enforcement.

    ” I absolutely support anyone’s right to defend themselves. That does not mean they can use any means they like to do it, or that carrying a gun is the best way to do it. ”

    This leads me back to individual liberty. There are more than 300 million people in this country, each of whom is unique. I do not believe a government is capable of deciding who needs what to defend herself. Nor would I trust a government that asserted it did have that capacity. The individual is best situated to make that decision.

    “George Zimmerman acted in self defense. If he hadn’t been armed, I really doubt he would have had the stones to walk up to a scary black teen with a pocket full of candy, but he was! So he felt emboldened to get in the kid’s face and start brandishing. When that didn’t work out like he thought it would, he shot Trayvon. Self defense.”

    First, you are misrepresenting the facts. GZ did not get in TM’s face and brandish his weapon. GZ was on the ground getting his head pummeled and beaten against pavement before he deployed his weapon. The testimony is undisputed on this point. The forensic evidence is wholly consistent with the testimony (GZ had multiple documented head injuries and TM’s only injuries other than the bullet wound were to his knuckles). Common sense supports the testimony – if GZ had brandished a gun, TM would have grappled for control of the gun rather than pummeling GZ in the head.

    Second, I agree GZ showed poor judgment. He should not have exited his car and followed TM on foot. Again, individual liberty necessarily implies the whole range of behavior from evil to good, including poor judgment. We have a whole body of law that determines both civil liability and criminal culpability. TM’s parents chose not to file a civil lawsuit against GZ, probably because of . . .

    Third, please don’t forget TM’s own agency in his death. He initiated the violence. He attacked a person he thought was unarmed and from whom he had successfully fled.

    “You are making an assumption about the thought processes of criminals that doesn’t seem verifiable.”

    Researchers interview prison inmates. The surveys show criminals are concerned with armed victims.

    “The most rigorous study I know of is a Stanford University study that looked at 30 years of crime data in all 50 states. It showed a 15% increase in violent crime in any state after about 10 years of instituting right to carry laws. ”

    As you know, the study did not in any way suggest people with CCW permits caused an increase in violence by acting criminally. Your argument is, therefore, that because of the potential that criminals will act more violently in a jurisdiction that allows CCW, we should prohibit CCW. Hard no. Violent crime still exists in non-CCW jurisdictions. Your argument means individuals should not have the right to choose how to defend themselves. Individuals have the right to defend themselves using the most effective means available. If an individual chooses not to arm himself, that is an individual choice. Your argument is antithetical to individual liberty.

    “[T]he FBI did a very intensive study of 160 mass shootings over the period from 2000 to 2013. There was only one case where an armed citizen successfully intervened to stop to the killer. There were 22 stopped by unarmed citizens.”

    Yes, the study demonstrates that fighting back can work. Do you think the 22 people would have preferred to have a weapon? Have you seen the run, hide, fight video? If you were a potential victim in a mass shooting event and you could not escape, would you prefer to use an improvised weapon like a fire extinguisher or a weapon with which you had trained? Regardless of your answer, I would prefer to have a weapon with which I had trained. Again, individual liberty. I do not cede my right to defend myself and how to defend myself to you and your generalized analysis.

  83. larswyrdson: “I was illustrating that armed revolt does not necessarily lead to increased freedom.”

    If that was your point, then my response is “You’re right.” Why let tyrants monopolize force? Why do you think the South had laws prohibiting teaching Blacks to read or firearm possession?

    “Are you talking about the Battle Of Athens in 46?”

    Yes. This incident also demonstrates something both sides of the debate tend to overlook: tyranny doesn’t always flow from the national level. Tyranny can be local. For example, I am less concerned with the U.S. national armed forces than with local law enforcement.

    ” I absolutely support anyone’s right to defend themselves. That does not mean they can use any means they like to do it, or that carrying a gun is the best way to do it. ”

    This leads me back to individual liberty. There are more than 300 million people in this country, each of whom is unique. I do not believe a government is capable of deciding who needs what to defend herself. Nor would I trust a government that asserted it did have that capacity. The individual is best situated to make that decision.

    “George Zimmerman acted in self defense. If he hadn’t been armed, I really doubt he would have had the stones to walk up to a scary black teen with a pocket full of candy, but he was! So he felt emboldened to get in the kid’s face and start brandishing. When that didn’t work out like he thought it would, he shot Trayvon. Self defense.”

    First, you are misrepresenting the facts. GZ did not get in TM’s face and brandish his weapon. GZ was on the ground getting his head pummeled and beaten against pavement before he deployed his weapon. The testimony is undisputed on this point. The forensic evidence is wholly consistent with the testimony (GZ had multiple documented head injuries and TM’s only injuries other than the bullet wound were to his knuckles). Common sense supports the testimony – if GZ had brandished a gun, TM would have grappled for control of the gun rather than pummeling GZ in the head.

    Second, I agree GZ showed poor judgment. He should not have exited his car and followed TM on foot. Again, individual liberty necessarily implies the whole range of behavior from evil to good, including poor judgment. We have a whole body of law that determines both civil liability and criminal culpability. TM’s parents chose not to file a civil lawsuit against GZ, probably because of . . .

    Third, please don’t forget TM’s own agency in his death. He initiated the violence. He attacked a person he thought was unarmed and from whom he had successfully fled.

    “You are making an assumption about the thought processes of criminals that doesn’t seem verifiable.”

    Researchers interview prison inmates. The surveys show criminals are concerned with armed victims.

    “The most rigorous study I know of is a Stanford University study that looked at 30 years of crime data in all 50 states. It showed a 15% increase in violent crime in any state after about 10 years of instituting right to carry laws. ”

    As you know, the study did not in any way suggest people with CCW permits caused an increase in violence by acting criminally. Your argument is, therefore, that because of the potential that criminals will act more violently in a jurisdiction that allows CCW, we should prohibit CCW. Hard no. Violent crime still exists in non-CCW jurisdictions. Your argument means individuals should not have the right to choose how to defend themselves. Individuals have the right to defend themselves using the most effective means available. If an individual chooses not to arm himself, that is an individual choice. Your argument is antithetical to individual liberty.

    “[T]he FBI did a very intensive study of 160 mass shootings over the period from 2000 to 2013. There was only one case where an armed citizen successfully intervened to stop to the killer. There were 22 stopped by unarmed citizens.”

    Yes, the study demonstrates that fighting back can work. Do you think the 22 people would have preferred to have a weapon? Have you seen the run, hide, fight video? If you were a potential victim in a mass shooting event and you could not escape, would you prefer to use an improvised weapon like a fire extinguisher or a weapon with which you had trained? Regardless of your answer, I would prefer to have a weapon with which I had trained. Again, individual liberty. I do not cede my right to defend myself and how to defend myself to you and your generalized analysis.

  84. Nathan- I don’t think the Stanford study is available online, but here is a synopsis:

    https://news.stanford.edu/2017/06/21/violent-crime-increases-right-carry-states/

    The effects of guns on aggression have been known since at least the 60’s. It is an effect confirmed by dozens of studies since. Here is a quick piece on the phenomenon:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-psyched/201301/the-weapons-effect

    Please think about the study they mention where the target of aggression (the driver being deliberately annoying) has the firearm. People were MORE likely to act aggressively toward the visibly armed person. That is the opposite of a gun making you safer.

    “As to the making oneself a target, this is why people don’t advertise their firearm status, one way or the other. It’s the reason I think open carry is silly, yet support licensed concealed carry.”

    I have to admit, combined with your other assertion about citizens carrying making me safer, this confuses me a little. Either the potential presence of firearms makes you safer or it doesn’t. Either criminals avoid armed victims or they don’t. Are you saying that criminals avoid victims if they can’t tell if they have a gun, but, I don’t know, preemptively shoot them if they can see a gun?

    Again, that strikes me as post hac reasoning, assuming a causality that fits your preconception of how things ought to be. It also falls into the fallacy that the criminal exists before the crime… many crimes happen because a “good” citizen has a bad day. If you want to break your heart, just google father-shoots-son-mistake. You’ll see stories from every state about dads shooting their kids who were coming home late from a party or playing a prank.

  85. lars: ” Other studies have shown conclusively that carrying a hand gun tends to make you more aggressive and combative when faced with conflict. ”

    In response to Nathan’s query, you identified a blog post which discussed studies that determined that bystanders react more “aggressively” when in the presence of a firearm. None of the studies discussed in the blog post dealt with the aggression levels of a person in possession of an article.

    For example, Hemenway’s 2006 study (Is an armed society a polite society? Guns and road rage), the study surveyed random people as to whether in the last year they had made a rude gesture while driving or followed another car aggressively. Survey participants were also asked questions about their political ideology and whether they had been in a car with a gun in the prior year. The study did not ask whether the participants had been in possession of a gun at the time they made a rude gesture or followed aggressively. This means that the survey participant could have been in a car with another person who was armed. It also means the survey participant could have engaged in the “hostile” conduct on a different day than when a gun was present in the car. In other news, the survey’s results indicate that progressives were 50% more likely to engage in hostile behavior than conservatives.

    Another study mentioned in the blog indicated that people behind a car with a visible weapon acted more aggressively than with respect to cars without a visible weapon.

    Another study found that when guns were present in a room, study participants subjected other participants to more painful electric shocks than when the guns were replaced with sports equipment.

    None of the studies you identified support your initial assertion that carrying a hand gun makes the carrier more aggressive.

    On the other hand, studies of people licensed to carry concealed weapons reveal they have a far lower rate of conviction than the general population (and also lower than police officers).

    I was unaware of the studies you identified. Thank you.

  86. lars: “You are making an assumption about the thought processes of criminals that doesn’t seem verifiable.”

    Nathan: “Criminals, on the average, don’t have the IQ of the general population, and I admit I don’t have the mind of one. Hard to believe that the majority of them wouldn’t make the more rational conclusion, however, although I’ve not seen any papers done on it. Would be interesting.”

    The Armed Criminal in America. A Survey of Incarcerated Felons, by James D. Wright for the Department of Justice. The researcher asked inmates “Was there ever a time in your life when you decided not to do a crime because you knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun?” Thirty-nine percent of the inmates answered ”yes.” Even higher was the percentage (80%) of inmates who chose not to burglarize a house because the inmates had been concerned inhabitants might have a gun. 74% of the inmates in the study. stated guns deter crime because criminals worry about getting shot. 58% of the inmates surveyed were more worried about being shot by citizens than by the police.

  87. kukuforguns- honestly, I’m not sure how you can carry a gun without being in the presence of one, but I get your point. Maybe being near a gun that isn’t under your control is what makes people more aggressive? That would still mean that your carrying a gun would increase your odds of a violent encounter.

    I think you are misreading the Hemenway study slightly. If the study is of drivers who have had a gun in their vehicle, the vast majority are going to be the owners of that gun. Still, I’m not aware of any studies that separate ownership effects from presence effects. I’d suspect the effect to be the same, but I can’t really say.

  88. larswyrdson: “That would still mean that your carrying a gun would increase your odds of a violent encounter”

    Which is why Nathan and I both prefer concealed carry.

  89. “… Are you saying that criminals avoid victims if they can’t tell if they have a gun, but, I don’t know, preemptively shoot them if they can see a gun?”

    I’m saying that the possibility of an armed victim deters any number of criminals from muggers to home invaders, and that concealed – not open – carry nullifies crimes of opportunity from the people who are looking for a weapon to steal. It follows that it would nullify any effect that the presence of a firearm would have on anyone but the carrier as well.

    “It also falls into the fallacy that the criminal exists before the crime… many crimes happen because a “good” citizen has a bad day.” Mens rea and intent are requisites for just about all criminality. So yes, in the vast majority of cases the criminal does exist beforehand. The rest are usually tragic to say the least.

    The Stanford study seems to have not been submitted for the academic review process. The claim on its face, according to the article: “15% increase in violent crime rate” refers to the actual data of the state compared to a 10 year “synthetic control” state… i.e. a 10 year projection on a multivariate social system. This seems… I’m looking for a better word than silly and can’t find one. Not being able to see the methodology Dr. Seldon *ahem* I mean Donohue used in his analysis, having no access to peer reviews, as well as knowing the statistics regarding crimes committed by CCW holders makes me extremely leery of taking this one seriously.

    I’ll probably activate OpenAthens again to read the two more interesting (to me) studies from the second link:

    “Naturalistic studies of aggressive behavior: aggressive stimuli, victim visibility, and horn honking.” Turner CW, Layton JF, Simons LS. (1975)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1142063
    http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.28.0a/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=fulltext&D=ovft&AN=00005205-197506000-00014&NEWS=N&CSC=Y&CHANNEL=PubMed

    “Is an armed society a polite society? Guns and road rage.” Hemenway D, Vriniotis M, Miller M. (2006)
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001457505002162

    And the link to kuku’s paper, thankfully available without subscription:

    “Armed Criminal in America – A Survey of Incarcerated Felons” James D. Wright, Peter H. Rossi (1985)
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Photocopy/97099NCJRS.pdf

    Thanks for these.

  90. kukuforguns & Nathan:If, as you say, guns deter robberies then you would expect some sort of correlation between gun ownership and rates of crime. There doesn’t seem to be one, however. Depending on the year and the chart, robbery rates vary but among comparable countries don’t correlate to gun ownership.

  91. Steve Halter: “If, as you say, guns deter robberies then you would expect some sort of correlation between gun ownership and rates of crime.”

    There is extensive and contradictory studies on this issue. larswyrdson referenced one of the studies (he refers to it as the Stanford study) above in this thread. Another study was performed by John Lott (More Guns, Less Crime).

    Both studies are based on the fact that over the past 30 years, many of the states have legalized public carriage of concealed weapons. Both studies start with the premise that given the change in CCW laws, criminality would change in response to the altered environment. Given that the states enacted the enabling laws at different times, the studies’ authors believe that a researcher can determine whether the laws reduced/increased crime by comparing crime rates between the states.

    All of these studies are extremely fragile. During the time these studies examine, violent crime dropped dramatically across all of the United States (in both CCW states and non-CCW states). Accordingly, the studies are trying to predict what the crime rate would have been but for the change in law (thus when somebody says the law caused violent crime to increase by 15%, they are really saying the violent crime rate would have fallen further without the change in the law). Because the states changed laws at different times, the studies use neighboring/similar states as controls. Both studies also use several other factors to try to control for differences between control and study states. Both studies are criticized because (among other criticisms) the results are highly dependent on which controls are chosen. This is what I mean by fragile. I recommend reading one or the other of the studies and then the criticisms of whichever study you choose to review.

    So, to get back to your initial observation, yes we do expect gun ownership/carriage to influence criminality. We just don’t have any consensus on what the impact has been.

  92. Multiple conflicting reports are exactly what I would expect from a complex area in which no particular correlation exists.

  93. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).”

    People have guns. Sometimes they show them to people. Sometimes they shoot people.

    Afterward the police etc decide whether they were criminals.

    More than half the time, the police decide they were not criminals.

    That’s what this statistic is about. Whether or not after some sort of incident, the police decide that you were a criminal, or not.

    Except wait, sometimes the statistic is not about that. Sometimes it is about people who remember using a gun in the past year or so, and they assert that they were not criminals. Since they got away without being arrested, typically without any police incident report, there’s nobody to say otherwise.

  94. Jonah Thomas:Exactly. The data we have, while voluminous, is chock full of methodology errors resulting from inconsistent labeling — sometimes through flawed memory, sometimes through different judgements, sometimes through poor recording and sometimes through deceit.

    The federal government is largely hobbled by the Dickey Ammendment that bans the use of Federal dollars in the advocacy or promotion of gun control and through Congressional budget cutting. Thus, we are left with the current morass.

  95. This particular example is particularly bad. If somebody gets shot and it isn’t an accident, then a crime has been committed. Either the shooter has committed a crime, or he has shot a criminal who deserved it.

    Similarly, most places it’s a crime to “brandish” a gun even if you don’t shoot, unless you are brandishing it at a criminal who deserves it.

    So other things equal, about half the time the police will decide that the guy who shot or brandished is the criminal, and about half the time they will decide that it is the victim who is the criminal.

    But when it’s people who take surveys, almost always they will think that they were not the criminal and the other guy deserved it.

  96. Jonah “But when it’s people who take surveys, almost always they will think that they were not the criminal and the other guy deserved it.”

    You know, sometimes I have a little trouble with how your mind works and your digressions in debate, but, Jonah, I think this is the best and most obviously true observation I have ever seen you make.

  97. Rather than standing here amidst the muck and trying to figure out how to extricate ourselves, let’s imagine (for a moment) that we are at the other end. We have reached a near perfect Utopia. It is post scarcity. Crime is non-existent. Health care, housing, food, energy and education are free and plentiful. There is no poverty. There is no discrimination. The State and the People are one in the same. There are no borders. Basically, if it’s good, this place has it and if it’s bad it doesn’t.

    What, in this thought experiment, would have been the final steps before achieving the utopia? Would it be the eliminating of the last recalcitrant diseases? Other than as an amusing occasional pastime is there any need for a gun in such a world?

  98. Steve Halter: “Other than as an amusing occasional pastime is there any need for a gun in such a world?”

    In such a utopia, what is the downside of having a gun? No one will misuse it. Yes, some people will be unintentionally killed. The same will be true for bathtubs. More people in the U.S. die getting in/out of bathtubs than are killed by people using assault weapons.

    Your description of utopia is so far removed from our reality that I cannot envision it. Will we be human in such a world? Is the capacity for violence any less meaningful to the human condition than the ability to appreciate/create art?

    A world without scarcity? How is that possible. The size of the earth is finite. I want the whole world for my private backyard. If I cannot have that, then there is scarcity.

  99. Kukuforguns:no bathtub deaths in the utopia. The exercise is to suspend your disbelief. Give it a try. Note that mental health issues such as the desire to personally own everything are also resolved. Also note that going pretty much anywhere that is a public space would be just fine.

    As a counter world, I can picture a post apocalyptic Mad Max world in which guns are useful.

  100. Steve Halter: My problem is not disbelief that at some point in the future humanity will somehow achieve a social singularity. My failure is of imagination. I cannot imagine a world in which I am happy living in a cube in BFE while someone else is living on Santorini. You call that mental illness. I call that being human. I’m pretty sure the majority of humanity would prefer living on Santorini than in BFE.

    I can theorize a world without violence/crime/mental illness. In that world, a gun will be as useful and as controversial as the Mona Lisa. Neither will be a threat to anyone else. But, if humanity has changed to such a degree that we no longer have the capacity for violence, won’t we have changed so much that it’s possible we won’t appreciate art (is there light without darkness)? I’ll tell you right now, I do not want to give up Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Given your utopia and the current world of pain/loss/suffering and Adagio for Strings, I’m staying put.

    In any event, yes, there will be no need for guns in your utopia. Neither will there be any reason to prohibit guns. So, I do not see the point of the hypothetical. We did not have utopia before guns. Guns are not delaying utopia.

  101. kukuforguns:I guess you missed the “if it is bad it isn’t in it” part. Each time you think of a downside, try to imagine the opposite or at least a minimization of the negative.

    Once you have that pictured, try to work backwards. How can we get from there to here?

  102. Steve Halter: You lost me. I theorized your utopia. Guns are not needed in your utopia. Similarly, guns are not bad in your utopia.

    How do we get to your utopia? We increase the means of production while reducing the labor needed to produce. At some point, production will occur with no human labor. But this only gets us to a post consumer products scarcity world. There’s still violence. We then lobotomize everyone so no one has the capacity for violence and we euthanize anyone with “mental illness.” Humanity has learned to welcome the fact that in order to achieve the greater good, some minor sacrifices (individuality) are beneficial. We then engage in several generations of targeted breeding (or genetic editing) aimed at producing perfectly compliant people. We succeed in eliminating greed, ambition, jealousy, anger, originality, and love. We eventually breed a person who is extraordinarily happy to live in an undecorated shipping container and who involuntarily orgasms at the sight of a flower. We decide it is too much effort to breed more such people and instead clone this individual. The resulting society of clones determines the optimal distribution of flower pictures. And utopia. Clones think it is funny to show flower pictures to each other whenever it would be inconvenient to orgasm. Everyone thinks this funny.

  103. kukuforguns:I’m not trying to lose you. You keep listing Many examples of badness. Now turn them around.

  104. The clones are happy. All is good.

  105. kukuforguns:Reflecting upon why you have a negative reaction to the exercise may be useful. Maybe not.

  106. I find your description of utopia incompatible with human nature. The only way I can envision a world without violence is to presuppose a drastic change to our most fundamental nature.

    Removing poverty will (IMO) reduce violence. But a lot of violence is not based on economic deprivation. Criminals come from all economic backgrounds. Eliminating poverty will not eliminated this crime. How do we eliminate this (IMO) innate propensity to crime? I do not see a means that isn’t scarier than the problem.

    Love is famously a trigger for obsession, jealousy, and violence in even mentally healthy people. Love/attraction will be unevenly distributed. It will lead to conflict. I cannot see a future where we have the capacity for love without violence.

    How do we eliminate mental illness? Does the government screen all fetuses for propensity and order the termination of fetuses that fail some threshold? Are all individuals required to submit to regular brain scans? Can you imagine a government you trust to wield these powers? The only one I can imagine is a benevolent AI. If our lives are regulated by a benevolent AI, do we still have free will?

    I am not claiming your exercise is useless. It is useful as a thought experiment (as witnessed by countless novels). All I see are dystopias. If your goal was to ruin my mood, you win.

  107. kukufor guns- see, that criminal thing… That is my main disconnect from people who insist that their right to protect themselves requires maximum firepower, because of “criminals”.

    Damned if I can even recognize the world you live in! Crime rates drop decade after decade, with some local, temporary variance. Yet you can’t leave your house without a pistol because today might be the day when the criminals attack?

    Maybe you just live in the wrong place. I have lived in NYC for almost 30 years, sometimes in some pretty poor neighborhoods. I did get mugged once, about 27 years ago. A bunch of teenagers with a lockblade knife surrounded me on the way home from waiting tables, around 3 AM. I figured $150 was nothing to fuss over so I gave it up.

    That’s it. 30 years living with 8 or 9 million people and they pretty much haven’t bothered me otherwise. How many armed thugs have attacked you?

  108. kukuforguns:I purposefully left the details of the utopia hazy so that anyone who wants can fill them in. Recall that this would be at the other end of a bunch of history. For all the negative questions, the existence of the utopia is such that a positive answer was found.

    A few things I, personally, would tend to fill in would be that there would probably be nothing we would particularly recognize as a government.

    Human nature and free will are both terribly defined concepts that tend to vanish like puffs of smoke when you look at them too hard.

  109. larswyrdson: Let me get this straight, several people armed with a knife said “Give us your money or we’ll gut you like a fish,” and you trusted they would honor this involuntary contract. Have you reviewed the statistics on injuries to robbery victims (search terms injuries from violent crimes)? You do know that some homicide victims were robbed, right? Why does the FBI categorize robbery as a category 1 crime (along with murder, aggravated assault, and forcible rape)? You don’t play Russian roulette because the risk of injury is unacceptably high, right?

    Why do you treat robbery differently? You got lucky. And you are predicting future outcomes on one lucky incident. The only control you had was whether to give them your money — which did not guarantee your safety. You left your safety entirely in the hands of people who you knew to be untrustworthy.

    I do not trust robbers. Given any choice in the matter, I will not leave the safety of my family or of myself to the good will of a robber.

    How many house fires have you been in? You still have fire alarms in your home, right? You wear a seatbelt, right? When we consider what type of safety measures are reasonable, we consider at least two primary factors: 1) likelihood, and 2) severity of the negative outcome. A house fire is extremely unlikely. But, the the consequences are so severe that governments across the U.S. require us to bear the expense of installing and maintaining fire alarms.

    Violent crime is analogous. Low probability with potentially devastating severity.

    I respect your choice to trust a violent criminal with your safety. You don’t trust yourself with a gun. No problem for me. But, I do not accept your desire to control how I protect myself and my family.

    There are more than 14 million ccw permits in the U.S. The violence policy center keeps a list of violent acts committed by licensees. The number of incidents in which a licensee misuses a lawfully concealed firearm is so miniscule the VPC inflates the numbers with crimes wholly unrelated to carrying a concealed firearm (search terms Violence Policy Center’s Concealed carry killers: less than it appears).

    The data is overwhelming: the people who lawfully carry a concealed weapon pose no statistically identifiable threat to law abiding people as a result of the concealed firearm. The number of negligent injuries and the number of violent crimes associated with lawfully concealed firearms is statistical noise. That’s a really long-winded way of saying licensees pose no risk to you. Why can’t you respect our choice to have options just like we respect your choice to be a helpless victim? It appears you’re more concerned about law-abiding armed people than you are with violent criminals.

  110. kuku- nope! wrong, wrong, wrong… I can always trust you to pull the worst hot take from anything I say.

    My point was, as a danger, crime as you are defining it is nonexistent. I am here in what you probably think of as one of the most dangerous places in the world, and I never see it! That 14 year old boy did try to cut me, as it happens, to impress his friends probably. I knocked the knife out of his hand and they all ran away like I actually had a chance in hell of catching them. I guess I wasn’t totally helpless.

    Know what didn’t happen? I didn’t kill a teenage kid out too late with his friends and trying to show off. Know why? Because I don’t spend every day armed for war and looking at everyone around me as an enemy.

    ” It appears you’re more concerned about law-abiding armed people than you are with violent criminals.”

    Yeah, baby, that is pretty much it! Because, there are a hell of a lot more “law-abiding citizens” than there are criminals, and you are all one bad day from killing yourselves, your loved ones, your friends. Those are the numbers. Most of the developed countries have roughly the same rate of armed robbery, but the US has 25 times the rate of gun homicide. Where are all those extra killings coming from?

    But, once again, since I am not advocating disarming you. I’d love it if you scrapped your iron on your own and recycled it all to make something useful, But I will work toward realistic goals. I’ll try to make the world a more equitable place so that everyone, even you, might feel a little less in danger and aggrieved. And I’ll keep suggesting we replace some of the sane limits on your choices, like where you can carry your weapon, and exactly whether military gear should be for sale to private citizens.

  111. CCW holders, who statistically never commit crimes: “… all one bad day from killing [them]selves, [their] loved ones, [their] friends”

    Robber wielding deadly force: “… teenage kid out too late with his friends and trying to show off”

    Talk about a hot take, larswyrdson. Whew.

    “… but the US has 25 times the rate of gun homicide. Where are all those extra killings coming from?”

    Inner cities, mostly in relation to the drug trade. I also notice you said gun homicide, and not just homicide.

  112. Be careful not to mix rate of homicide and number of homicides out there.

  113. larswyrdson: “crime as you are defining it is nonexistent.”

    How do I define crime? I don’t remember doing that in my comments above, so maybe we have a misunderstanding. I have pointed out that violent crime has drastically reduced in the United States at the same time as the number of firearms has skyrocketed. Just because violent crime has happens less frequently than previously does not mean we should make no efforts to prevent/protect against violent crime. Again, the consequences of violent crime are so terrible that it is reasonable to take preventative steps despite the infrequency. Moreover, I think it’s somewhat hypocritical to reference the United States’ elevated “gun homicide” rate and then claim that violent crime is nonexistent.

    “I am here in what you probably think of as one of the most dangerous places in the world, and I never see it! ”

    Nope. St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit and certain neighborhoods in Chicago.

    “That 14 year old boy did try to cut me, as it happens”

    OMG. You gave the criminals $150 and they still tried to cause you great bodily injury. Again, you were lucky (and I am very glad of this). This is one of those moments where I wonder whether our brains are fundamentally incapable of understanding each other. You are literally making excuses for someone who tried to cause you great bodily injury (at a minimum). I hope that 14 year old kid turned his life around and became a productive member of society. I know someone from NYC that turned from a youthful robber to a productive member of society. That does not excuse the prior violent conduct or your right to take reasonable actions to protect your life.

    “Know what didn’t happen? I didn’t kill a teenage kid out too late with his friends and trying to show off. Know why? Because I don’t spend every day armed for war and looking at everyone around me as an enemy.”

    You are mischaracterizing what defensive gun use looks like. The vast majority of DGU involves some level of display of a firearm (from saying “I have a gun” to deploying a gun). Faced with the prospect of armed resistance, the vast majority of criminals remember an urgent appointment somewhere else. No shots are fired in the vast majority of DGU. Of the small minority of cases in which a victim does discharge a firearm, the vast majority of times only one shot is fired which usually does not injure anyone. People shot with handguns usually survive. So, yeah, that is why there are so few justified homicides in the U.S. Not because DGU is uncommon. But rather because law-abiding armed people are extremely judicious in how they use force. You use the phrase “armed for war,” which reflects a concern that CCW licensees are looking for trouble and eager to use lethal force. Look at the data. CCW licensees are the safest demographic of people I have identified.

    “you are all one bad day from killing yourselves, your loved ones, your friends. Those are the numbers.” What numbers are you referencing? All the research I have read indicates ownership of firearms has very low costs caused by the ownership. Based on what I’ve read, gun ownership probably causes a slight increase in the rate of successful suicide. Gun ownership also raises the risk of a negligent discharge which causes injury. With respect to negligent discharges, the rate has plummeted (probably as the result of improved education) to the point the risk is comparable to bicycles. With respect to suicides, guns do not cause suicidal ideation. Instead, guns decrease the time between ideation and action. The longer it takes between ideation and action, the more likely a person is to decide not to act. The effect, however, is weak. It appears that by the time you are ready to kill yourself with a gun, you also are ready to kill yourself with a coat hanger. The means to effectively commit suicide are omnipresent.

    “Most of the developed countries have roughly the same rate of armed robbery, but the US has 25 times the rate of gun homicide. Where are all those extra killings coming from?”

    This type of response drives me batty. You reference the United States’ elevated “gun homicide” rate and then ask from where are all the extra killings coming. This reflects a naive belief that anyone killed by a gun would still be alive if a gun was not available (the “extra killings”). This gets back to a point I made earlier. States with oppressive gun regulations are correlated with low “gun homicide” rates but are not associated with low homicide rates. Criminals substitute weapons. Moreover, your argument suggests you believe the United States should deprive law-abiding people the right to use a firearm for self-defense so that we prevent criminals from using a firearm to commit crime. Even if we could deprive criminals of firearms by prohibiting private ownership of guns (a risible proposition), an end result would be to give criminals greater power to victimize the weak (the old, the sick, people of small stature, etc.).

  114. Here is a table:
    https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/expanded_homicide_data_table_11_murder_circumstances_by_weapon_2015.xls

    from the FBI that shows the murders in the US for 2015 that they have counted arranged by reason and type of weapon. It doesn’t appear that inner city drug murder is the most common type.
    You appear to most likely to be murdered in an argument that is not crime related.

  115. larswyrdson: “I am not advocating disarming you…. I’ll keep suggesting we replace [sic] some of the sane limits on your choices, like where you can carry your weapon, and exactly whether military gear should be for sale to private citizens.”

    You are advocating for disarmament. You want to identify new places where carriage is illegal. You want to regulate what kinds of arms I am allowed to use for self-defense – despite not having a deep understanding of firearms. Those are both disarmament.

  116. Steve Halter: Here’s (https://ucr.fbi.gov/nibrs/nibrs-user-manual) the handbook for the National Incident Based Reporting System. Look at page 118. Also consider that the reports are completed by multiple different agencies.

    Here’s a link to government analysis specifically relating to gangs: https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis/Measuring-the-Extent-of-Gang-Problems

    One of the conclusions from the national gang center is “In a typical year in the so-called “gang capitals” of Chicago and Los Angeles, around half of all homicides are gang-related; these two cities alone accounted for approximately one in four gang homicides recorded in the NYGS [National Youth Gang Survey] from 2011 to 2012.”

  117. “You got lucky. And you are predicting future outcomes on one lucky incident. The only control you had was whether to give them your money — which did not guarantee your safety.”

    You cannot guarantee your safety. There are no guarantees.

    If you depend on a concealed weapon to protect you from muggers, there is a possibility that in the process of pulling out your gun you will shoot yourself in the foot, and they will laugh at you. I hope that chance is small, but it is not zero.

    “I do not trust robbers. Given any choice in the matter, I will not leave the safety of my family or of myself to the good will of a robber.”

    If the issue is safety, you have to balance out the chance of meeting a robber against the chance of an accident with whoever is nearby. For a gun at home that’s mostly your family. If you have an emotional wife or a immature child, or if the chance of a burglar at home is bigger than the chance of a robber, then you probably need an expensive gun safe. Then if you want to get your gun quickly in case a robber shows up at your home, you need an expensive electronic lock. You can have the key inside a ring, maybe and when the ring is right there the door opens. It’s one damn thing after another. Easier to not think about the chance that your wife or child might shoot you, and just feel good about being ready for the robber. People aren’t very good at deciding about low-probability events.

    “Violent crime is analogous. Low probability with potentially devastating severity.”

    Yes.

    “The number of negligent injuries and the number of violent crimes associated with lawfully concealed firearms is statistical noise.”

    Per firearm, it’s clearly statistical noise. Totaled over the whole, how many is it a year? Is it more than 20? It probably isn’t low enough to avoid being statistically significant.

    One year when I was a kid we had 57,000 automobile deaths. People got upset about that and got all intent on bringing the number down. For any one person the chance of dying in an auto accident in one year was very low, but it was enough people total that they got upset about it.

    Later they got upset about drunk drivers. Drunk drivers were only a large fraction of the auto deaths which were already lower. But they made draconian laws to punish drunks, and the drunks responded. They didn’t want the punishment, and they started having designated drivers who didn’t drink that night, etc. They didn’t think they were doing anything wrong, but they recognized that society had no sympathy for them and they adapted.

    Now it’s guns. I don’t know what it will be after the guns are a smaller threat. I hope they might do something about bad prescriptions, or bad dosages handed out by nurses, etc. This is something that could be automated at moderate cost, and a lot of people are sickened or killed.

    Or pesticides. Very few people are directly killed by pesticides but a lot might be weakened. Get the pesticides out of our food and water.

  118. kukuforguns:Neither of the links support the assertion that most homicides are inner city drug related in nature. They do support, as has already been noted, that the data is complex and not consistently organized.

  119. Jonah: We’re largely on the same page here.

    “You cannot guarantee your safety. There are no guarantees.”

    I agree. To the extent my comment suggested a gun guaranteed a positive outcome for a victim, it was unintentional and wrong.

    “If the issue is safety, you have to balance out the chance of meeting a robber against the chance of an accident with whoever is nearby.”

    I agree. This is why I mentioned that there is no evidence CCW licensees negligently discharge their weapons in public and that the annual number of people injured by negligent gun fire has plummeted. Everyone talks about the NRA’s lobbying. The NRA also engages in public education (it’s original purpose). The NRA does good work providing free educational materials on how to safely store and handle firearms. I believe the NRA’s efforts are responsible for some measure of the plummeting rate of negligent injuries.

    “People aren’t very good at deciding about low-probability events.”

    I agree. There are an awful lot of Californians that don’t have a 2-week supply of water on hand.

    “Totaled over the whole, how many [negligent discharges in public] is it a year? Is it more than 20? It probably isn’t low enough to avoid being statistically significant.”

    There are no official figures. The NYPD publishes an annual report on all firearm discharges by NYPD firearms (other than at the range). It includes negligent discharges. The number of incidents of which I am aware is well below 20 annually. Ironically, all of the incidents I can recall involve law enforcement officers. 1) The police chief who tried to reholster his pistol while in a gun store. The holster was concealed by a light jacket with a drawstring waist. The drawstring got caught in the trigger guard. The chief forced the gun into the holster. Bang. Captured on video. 2) The detective who took his holstered gun off his belt in order drive his car. He put it under his seat. His toddler got the holster (this is the story, I have doubts) and somehow got his finger inside the trigger guard while the pistol was still in the holster. The detective is now a paraplegic. 3) The police officer giving a demonstration to a CCW class in Florida. He shot himself in the leg. On video. Public discharges in public are extensively discussed on interested bulletin boards (yes, I still call them bulletin boards).

  120. Steve: “Neither of the links support the assertion that most homicides are inner city drug related in nature.”

    The assertion was that the “extra killings” were in “Inner cities, mostly in relation to the drug trade.” I did not understand his assertion to mean that all gun homicides occur in inner-cities. I understood it to mean that homicides disproportionately occur in inner-city areas where gangs are active. This link (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/26/us-murders-concentrated-in-5-percent-counties.html) identifies research that more than half of the murders in the U.S. occur in 2% of the counties (all of which include urban areas). I think this supports Nathan’s assertion that the “extra killings” are disproportionately happening in inner city areas.

    The links in my prior post establish that many murders in densely populated urban areas are tied to gang activity. And yes, complex data poorly implemented.

    Another series of studies that supports Nathan’s comment is that murder victims in inner city areas frequently have extensive arrest records. This is useful because inner city murders have relatively low clearance rates. So, even when we don’t know who the murderer was we can make some educated deductions based on who the murder victims are. See here for an example: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-ci-cops-killers-victims-20160107-story.html

    Another source that supports Nathan’s statement is the breakdown of victims by race, age, and gender. Blacks make up the largest racial group of victims. Young males are the predominant victims. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-1.xls https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-3.xls Refer to the prior link from the national gang center for information on the racial makeup of gangs. I am not suggesting any particular race is predisposed to violence. I am noting that victims and perpetrators are disproportionately young, male, minorities living in inner cities. The great migration has, by at least this measure, been a disaster.

    In any event, I agree with Nathan that the “extra killings” are disproportionately localized in inner-cities and hyper-localized to minority neighborhoods.

  121. “Totaled over the whole, how many [negligent discharges in public] is it a year? Is it more than 20?”

    I don’t limit it to those in public. Over 2005-2010 it was about 3800 people killed by negligent discharges, an average of 720/year. But again these are people where the police ruled it was negligent and not murder or suicide. The police don’t always get it right.

    The CDC says there were 95,751 accidental gun injuries during the same period.

    15,928 accidental gun injuries in 2014. That’s much less than 2005-2010.

    When it’s murder, we can figure that without guns the killers would have found another way. If you don’t have a gun you can stick a sharp pencil through somebody’s eye into their brain and poke around until you’re sure they’ll bleed enough. But when it’s a gun accident there’s no reason to think that if it didn’t happen there would be more other accidents to compensate.

    Almost 16,000 accidental gun injuries in 2014, and only 461 accidental gun deaths. But there were 81,034 total gun injuries and 33,594 total deaths. This says that if you intend to shoot somebody you are far more likely to kill them than if you shoot them by accident. People really do aim. (Or maybe it says that if you claim it was an accident, the police are far more likely to believe you if the victim was not killed.)

    But these are injuries and deaths, not negligent discharges. I don’t know how likely it is that if you fire a gun in a random direction you will accidentally hit somebody. I think 20% is a fairly generous estimate, but I don’t really know. 10% is more reasonable, but still I don’t know. That would be something like 160,000 accidental gun discharges a year. Assuming 30 million active gun owners in the USA (people who shoot guns not including people who have a hunting rifle in the attic they hardly ever touch) that would imply a rate of around 0.5% per year. A lot of people actively carry guns, and on average each of them accidentally shoots only about once in 200 years. This is an excellent record! In general it’s very hard to get people to avoid accidents more than 99% of the time. Have you ever made a mistake with an automobile, and it was only luck or other people’s alertness that kept it from turning into an accident? I have, within the last year. Probably within the last month. I watched somebody else do it yesterday.

    This is a back-of-the-envelope guess, based on dubious police reports and reasonable assumptions. The real rate of accidental gun discharges could be anywhere from .005% to 5%. But it probably isn’t 5%, because the people who did it would announce it and everybody would call them dumbasses. Right?

    The numbers came from WISQARS, a CDC database, except for the ones I made up. I don’t include the link because it would probably get me moderated.

  122. Jonah- “When it’s murder, we can figure that without guns the killers would have found another way. ”

    No, we can’t. That is the other flaw in tossing around all these statistics. Just like with suicide, we can’t say, “If they wanted to die and didn’t have a gun, they would have found another way.”

    Guns make death easy. Premeditated, accidental, impulsive… think about killing while carrying a gun and you can make it happen before you have a chance to change your mind. It is a tool with major safety flaws.

    Alright, I’m bowing out. I just really hate guns, really do, and I’m deeply suspicious of anyone that would choose to have one around.It does, indeed, hurt my ability to argue these points unemotionally, but not obsessing about guns day and night, I don’t have pages of links ready to go to make my points… so, I’ll let the rest of you hash it out.

    A day will come when grown ups rule the world, that is my fondest hope, and then we won’t have to talk about these matters any more.

  123. larswyrdson: If you take nothing else from this exchange, I hope you at least agree that there are people on all sides of the debate who are not uninformed.

  124. “Just like with suicide, we can’t say, “If they wanted to die and didn’t have a gun, they would have found another way.”

    We can say it. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes not.

    But it’s obviously stupid to say “People who die from gun accidents would have died from some other accident if they hadn’t had a gun.”.

    That one takes some kind of kismet-predestination-new-age-woo-woo to believe.

    More than 16,000 accidentally dead or wounded in 2014.

  125. ” I hope you at least agree that there are people on all sides of the debate who are not uninformed.”

    That was neither my presumption nor my concern. We all have nearly unlimited access to information these days. It does not always lead to good choices.

  126. Extending on what larswyrdson said, there is a huge amount of information out there. Having access to information is not the same thing as being informed (see many texts on epistemology). Unfortunately, the looseness of the data for this particular subject and actual agents working to spread disinformation leads to the current impasse.

  127. The epistemology debate does not help proponents of strong gun control regulations. The people designing and advocating for these new laws believe:
    1) the AR-15 is uniquely dangerous because people are modifying them with chainsaw bayonets (USA Today)
    2) laws prohibiting sale of “large capacity magazines” will cause the current supply “to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.” (Rep. Diana DeGette)
    3) firing a shotgun through the door is the right way to keep unwanted visitors away (VP Biden, he has a lot of quotes one could reference)
    4) “Some of these bullets, as you saw, have an incendiary device on the tip of it, which is a heat seeking device. So, you don’t shoot deer with a bullet that size. If you do you could cook it at the same time.” (NY Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington)
    5) “This is a ghost gun. This right here has the ability with a .30-caliber clip to disperse with 30 bullets within half a second. Thirty magazine clip in half a second.” (Cal. State Senator DeLeon)
    6) “[I]t is easier for a 12- or 13-year-old to purchase a gun, and cheaper, than it is for them to get a book.” (Pres. Obama). Just barely out of context.

    These are the people advocating for a change in the current laws and the people who would draft the legislation.

    I’ll choose the reliability of my knowledge over these people any day of the week.

    This is really one of the biggest problems proponents of civil liberties have with the various calls for new and more restrictive regulations. The advocated regulations almost always have no relationship to the stated desired outcome. The politicians are being politicians. They say stupid stuff because stupid stuff impresses uninformed voters (search string: uninformed voters).

    Universal background checks. How is this going to reduce crime? If you can pass the background check (like many mass shooters can) then it doesn’t prevent the crime. If you cannot pass the background check, you acquire the gun illegally or make it yourself. What might make a change is to prosecute the people who fail the background check and who falsely state they can buy a gun legally. Tens of thousands each year. Not prosecuted. Let’s prosecute them. See if it makes a difference. If it does, I’ve got recommendations for a universal background check system.

    “Assault weapons.” No one can agree what they are. They are used in a tiny minority of homicides. If you are looking to reduce the number of homicides committed with firearms, they are pretty much the least relevant category of firearms. Hell, they’re safer than bathtubs in the U.S.

    Bayonet lugs. Because of all the bayoneting.

    Pistol and fore grips. Really? Yes, they do make handling easier. So the goal is apparently to make it harder to control millions of lethal weapons. Yes, let’s make guns less safe.

    Bump stocks. First, you don’t see a lot of push back from people advocating for the right to keep and bear arms. They are a gimmick. You can achieve the same effect without the device. That being said, in the Las Vegas attack, the oxygen thief fired more than 1,100 rounds. He shot 480 people (422 injured, 58 fatalities). His attack lasted 10 minutes. Notice something? The rates of lethality and injury are relatively low. More than half of the fired rounds missed people. Of the rounds that hit, they were lethal ~ 12% of the time. Compare that to Virginia Tech, or Parkland, or Sandy Hook. The reason the total number of casualties was so high was because of target density and the protracted response time. There is a reason the U.S. military decided to discourage the use of automatic fire from rifles following the Vietnam War. Deliberate, aimed fire is more effective than spray and pray. Automatic fire is useful for area suppression/denial.

    “actual agents working to spread disinformation” Amen to that.

  128. kukuforguns:I didn’t say any particular side wasn’t guilty of using information in an irresponsible way.

    If you’ll recall, way up above, I said I would be perfectly happy with the UK gun laws. Other sensible gun control laws might also be fine. All the quibble gun laws are just that — quibbling. I think from a public safety point of view that is the correct path. How about if we have a well funded comprehensive scientifically controlled study of the whole issue?

    Now, I also think that the US has many other problems that also need addressed in order to lower the total murder rate. Killing people is a bad thing but the US seems all too eager to glorify killing rather than working to prevent it.

    For the issue of “arms against tyranny,” I agree with skzb above.

  129. Steve Halter: Your willingness to implement UK gun laws in the United States doesn’t exactly fill me with joy and wonder. I find the UK laws to be oppressive and ineffective. Find me some consensus that the homicide rate in the U.K. decreased as a result of the 1997 ban on handgun ownership. There has to be a study, right? Moreover, surely 20 years after the ban the supply of contraband guns has decreased to the point where gun crime is decreasing. Find me that evidence. Convince me that the U.K./Australia laws were effective at saving lives.

    You’ll notice that whenever people talk about the U.K. and Australia changes to gun laws, they never talk about the laws effectively reducing homicides or mass killings. Instead, they argue the laws have reduced/eliminated mass shootings. Is the point of gun control to save lives or to reduce “gun homicides”? Why does the media go into full disaster mode when 17 White students are killed in a mass shooting but barely mentions a weekend in Chicago involving similar numbers of Black adolescents. My personal opinion is that the media is trying to effectuate an outcome and is not concerned about the humans harmed.

    There are a wealth of well-funded studies. Few of them are unbiased. That’s one of the things I love about the second NAS report – it identified specific subjects that should be studied. I am not aware of a rush from any group to investigate the matters the NAS identified as desirable for study. Everyone is engaging in studies they believe will further their cause.

    The reason Congress placed limits on how the CDC spends money is because the CDC publicly stated its goal of reducing handgun ownership by 25%. Congress lost confidence that the CDC was unbiased. The Dickey Amendment prohibits the CDC from “advocating” for gun control. The Dickey Amendment has been attached to legislation signed by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama (at this point, probably Trump too). The CDC can and does collect data regarding homicides/injuries involving guns. The CDC has given grants to study gun violence (I reference the second NAS report) to relatively neutral organizations.

  130. kukuforguns:Just restating my position. I find it unlikely that I could fill you with joy and wonder given that you can only imagine dystopia. Thanks for the debate.

  131. There’s a reason Thomas More used the term utopia, and it’s not because he couldn’t imagine anything other than the opposite of it.

  132. “Moreover, surely 20 years after the ban the supply of contraband guns has decreased to the point where gun crime is decreasing. Find me that evidence. Convince me that the U.K./Australia laws were effective at saving lives.”

    Here is a newspaper report that quotes a study to that effect. I’ll see whether it gets moderated. The firearms buy-back only got about 20% of Australia’s guns. So probably what happened was more of an attitude shift. Take away 20% of the guns, and gun suicide goes down 80%? Something else was going on.

    I don’t expect this (or any amount of evidence) to convince you. I’m not convinced myself. The various rates were already going down, and after that they went down faster. Maybe something else was working, and the gun laws were a second result of that something else.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/23/australias-gun-laws-stopped-mass-shootings-and-reduced-homicides-study-finds

  133. Nathan: I’ll happily restrict myself to the 16th century meaning of words as long as you restrict yourself to 16th century firearms.

  134. Tempting. But thy bargain, enmeshed betwixt jape and earnest, dost me no great pleasure.

    I have a hard time imagining the amount of trust in the goodness of people that utopianism requires, and yet you seem to have less than I. This says nothing about utopias having none of what gives people meaning – a requirement for true happiness.

    But this is academic, and better, more coherent arguments than what I can provide have been done by greater men than I… Sean Connery in a red diaper wielding a Webley-Fosbury for one.

  135. Well, that really does seem the essential disconnect, doesn’t it? Here you are, on a forum run by an avowed follower of Trotsky, arguing that since nothing can be done to improve human society, we might as well arm ourselves so we are ready to shoot the pesky humans when it all falls apart.

    If you cannot imagine the possibility of beneficial social change, then I guess I understand why you think you need to be armed. If you cannot see that the course of human development has always been a steady march towards non-violence and altruism, then of course you need a gun.

    If the very idea of working for a more humane society only makes you think of Zardoz or Katniss Everdeen, I can’t blame you for wanting something with more punch than a bow. Archery is really hard. Takes practice.

  136. I think this is the first time I’ve had my mouth so full of words that someone else has put there.

    Not believing in Utopia and working for and believing in good changes in society are not mutually exclusive. I just believe we should be very careful about what liberties (and responsibilities) we sacrifice in the pursuit of good, not that the strive towards improvement is futile… or unnecessary.

  137. Oh, and I think Stallone figuring out the three seashells is more appropriate compared to Connery with a ponytail, but thought a Zardoz dig would be funnier.

  138. Nathan:I wasn’t asking that anyone believe that a really good society actually existed. Just that they imagine one as a thought exercise. The exercise seemed to cause pain.

    This is actually really interesting as it seems to correlate with a number of recent studies on conservative vs liberal neural wiring and general brain make up. I wasn’t even thinking of that correlation for the question but it was interesting that it popped out all on its own.

  139. Steve: Apologies.

    And those studies are quite interesting, not the least in that they seem to indicate that humans evolved both sensibilities, and thrive most when they are in balance… or are at least cordially talking to one another.

    Perhaps I have gotten more conservative as I’ve gotten older, but I haven’t changed my mind on any pertinent political or social issue I can think of. Just more leery of some of the changes suggested to fix them.

  140. Nathan- sorry if I conflated you with kuku. ^_^

  141. larwyrdson: “Here you are, on a forum run by an avowed follower of Trotsky, arguing that since nothing can be done to improve human society, we might as well arm ourselves so we are ready to shoot the pesky humans when it all falls apart.”

    Wow. And you accused me of casting your words in the worst possible light. You seem to have overlooked the post where I said production will increase until no human effort is involved. I believe in a post-scarcity world. I think that has wonderful potential. So, yes, I believe strongly that human societies can improve lives of humans.

    It’s the idea of a utopia with no crime or unhappy thoughts that I cannot envision.

    “If you cannot see that the course of human development has always been a steady march towards non-violence and altruism, then of course you need a gun.”

    Here, you’re not even bothering to twist my words, you are writing my dialogue. I would take issue with the whole “steady march” conclusion. Mao starving tens of millions is technically non-violent but is incompatible with altruism. Stalin’s purges, mass imprisonment, and starvation were neither non-violent nor altruistic. Hitler’s incineration of “subject people” was violent and not altruistic. Two of those examples came from two of the largest societies on earth. The other example came from one of the most scientifically/industrially/artistically advanced nations on earth. Those societies were rather a significant deviation from the steady march towards non-violence. All three of them occurring nearly at the same time caused a global paroxysm of death and misery. The 20th Century is replete with other examples from smaller societies.

    But, on whole, I agree. Humans are living longer, better lives. I believe that trend will continue.

  142. Jonah: Here’s the concluding sentence from the study you mentioned regarding the effect of Australia’s implementation of gun reform : “[I]t is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms”

  143. Steve Halter: Your reference to the studies on progressive/conservative brains was an astute observation.

  144. kuku: Yes, they can’t decide what caused it because death rates from suicide were already going down, robberies were already going down, sexual violence was already going down, etc. Some of them went down faster after the gun reforms, but they can’t decide causation from correlations.

    It would be a harder argument that australian gun control caused robbery rates to go up, but for entirely unrelated reasons, people who otherwise would have done robbery chose not to.

    Similarly, you could argue that everybody who would have committed suicide with a gun instead decided not to commit suicide at all for entirely unrelated reasons.

    You could argue that everybody who would have committed suicide with a gun but who didn’t have a gun, instead killed people some other way — but for unknown but definitely unrelated reasons a lot of people decided not to kill people.

    You were arguing that people quote only the gun statistics. With fewer guns, fewer people got killed by guns. Duh. But just as many people still got killed. (You didn’t say it quite that way.) Well, fewer people got killed. There’s no proof why it was that changed faster after the gun control than before.

  145. Jonah: Essentially correct. I don’t argue the U.K.’s gun ban caused the ensuing increased homicide rate. I also don’t believe Australia’s decreased homicide rate was caused by its gun ban. Correlation is not causation.

    Since the status quo allows relatively easy (compared to the rest of the world) access to guns, it is the burden of those seeking to change the status quo to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed changes. Gun regulators need the cooperation of gun owners to pass new legislation.

    The study reinforces something I wrote above. The factors that drive homicide in any location are driven primarily by societal factors, not the weapons people use to commit homicide. skzb made the same point in his initiating post.

    People who favor gun control believe that if we remove guns, lives will be saved because guns are so much more effective at killing people than other weapons. It’s not a meritless hypothesis. Moreover, it’s a testable hypothesis. If the difference in efficacy between guns and fists (and knives, bats, garden shears, etc.) as tools to commit homicide were extreme, then it should be easy to see a reduction in homicides when a gun ban goes into effect. That is what the study you referenced was trying to do. There are lots of similar studies. The studies sometimes find correlations, but the consensus always is the evidence is inadequate to prove causation.

    It appears that, if the efficacy of guns does increase the homicide rate, the effect is minuscule in comparison to the dynamic societal factors that drive homicide rates. Accordingly, it is extremely difficult to prove causation (i.e., banning guns caused a decrease in homicide rate). If a hurricane is blowing in the same direction as a fan, how much does the fan contribute to the wind? Some advocates of civil liberties also argue there are other factors that counterbalance the reduced efficacy of substitute weapons (e.g., criminals commit less crime because they’re afraid of armed victims).

    If we really want to meaningfully reduce homicides, why aren’t we more assigning more resources identifying the societal forces that drive our homicide rate?

    Gun control is just that, more government control. I’ve already got more government than I want.

  146. “If we really want to meaningfully reduce homicides, why aren’t we more assigning more resources identifying the societal forces that drive our homicide rate?”

    I’m pretty sure people would object. Any conclusions they reached would step on people’s toes. Lots of important people’s toes.

    They step on enough toes about gun control.

    Gun violence causes gun control. It isn’t a question whether gun control is effective.

    Gun violence is bad.
    There’s a lot of gun violence and we have to do something about it.
    Gun control is something.
    We have to do gun control.

    It is stupid reasoning. But they feel like they have to do something.

    “Gun control is just that, more government control. I’ve already got more government than I want.”

    Under the circumstances, this is argument does not work.

    Gun violence is bad.
    There’s a lot of gun violence and we have to do something about it.
    *But there’s nothing you can do about gun violence. You just have to accept that a lot of people will get killed, and there’s nothing anybody can do. Just give up.*
    But we have to do something.
    *There is nothing you can do. Give up.*
    But innocent children are dying.
    *My right to have guns is more important than your children. You have to let me kill people with guns.*
    But we have to do something.
    *You can’t do anything. Give up. I’m in control and I won’t let you do anything. I won’t let you stop me from killing people.*

    It would be much better if it could instead go:

    Gun violence is bad.
    There’s a lot of gun violence and we have to do something about it.
    *Gun control won’t work, but here’s something that would work. Instead of doing the thing that can’t work, let’s do [insert something that would reduce gun violence to an acceptable level].*

  147. An idea so brilliant it could work.

    Legalize recreational drugs.

    That went over well.

  148. I like that! It might be impossible to persuade gun control activists that it would work, but a lot of them would be in favor anyway. And if it did actually work, that would help.

    A possible refinement — in some states, require gun owners to buy a minimal amount of marijuana per week from the government or some reliable source. They would have to use it, they could presumably sell it at a slight mark-down, but they would have lots of opportunities to try it. See whether states where all legal gun owners have weed, have less shootings than when some don’t.

  149. Oops, I didn’t notice the typo. “They wouldn’t have to use it”

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