Defending the 2nd amendment

by Guest Post

512px-Antique_Gun_and_CoinsIn response to today’s piece on gun control in the US, Linoge, a reader in the United States had the following to say in rebuttal

To follow the same pattern as the article, I see three primary faults in it.

First, America is not a democracy, and, in fact, was specifically designed to not be a democracy, but rather be a constitutional republic. Why? Well, I will allow the Founding Fathers to speak for themselves.

James Madison:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

(Emphasis added.)

James Madison, again:

There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore more needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.

John Adams:

Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

And there is Benjamin Franklin’s famous, and possibly apocryphal response to the question of what kind of government they had just fabricated:

A Republic, if you can keep it.

I could go on, but you get the point.

But that brings us to the second problem with the article; the Constitution is so very hard to change because the Founding Fathers, and we, their ancestors, consider some rights to be inviolate, above and beyond the wishes and opinions of the masses. They spelled out those rights explicitly in the Declaration of Independence, but then they got into the nuts and bolts of those rights in the Constitution.

Two of those rights they valued were the right to life and the right to private property. Extending from the right to life is the right to defend that life (without the latter, the former is meaningless), and when that right to defense is combined with the right to private property, one arrives at the right to bear arms.

Remember that the Second Amendment, when it was drafted, specifically and intentionally protected the right to keep and bear contemporary military arms. The federal government, such as it was at the time, was still writing Letters of Marque, still employing privateers, and much of their military hardware was borrowed, rented, or bought from private persons. They had no problems with individual citizens owning cannon, and arguably encouraged it.

But that is rather besides my main point; majority rule does not change an Amendment of the Constitution without going through the appropriate channels, which is precisely why America is a republic, not a democracy.

And, coming at it from the other direction, if ~85% of Americans really do support certain “gun control” legislation (and having seen how those studies were conducted, I rather doubt it), then why not make an attempt at amending the Constitution? You are already well above the required number of states to accomplish it (assuming an even distribution of the poll respondents, which is rather the problem).

But no one has made such an attempt. Interesting, that.

And as for the final problem, I will just quote this to make it clear what I am responding to:

It’s impossible to have a sensible conversation about something as fundamental as gun control with these intensely dogmatic folk.

Answer me this question: would you bother to have a “sensible” conversation with someone who wanted to enslave you?

Freedom from slavery is unquestionably a basic human right – as basic as the right to self-defense – and while it is one my own country chose to ignore for a not-insignificant portion of its history, if someone tried to convince me to surrender myself to slavery, I would instruct them to perform physiologically implausible acts upon themselves and go on my merry.

The same would happen if someone instructed me to burn my library of books.

The same would happen if someone demanded access to my home without warrant.

So why is it suddenly such a horrid thing to make a hard-and-fast stand on another Constitutionally-protected right? People are trying to unjustly limit, restrict, control, regulate, and outright destroy my rights; I fail to see why I have to be reasonable with them.

Well, nuts. Here I was not going to write a guest post, and this might as well be one. A few minor thoughts on my way out, though: first, calling people “loons” who “howl at the moon” is not a good way to put across the idea that you want a “sensible” conversation; if it were not for your remarkably reasonable Twitter conversation, I would have skipped this article in its entirety just on account of that. And second, limiting yourself to those two “fundamentally different groups” is a false dichotomy or hasty generalization, depending on how you look at it.

And, finally, just to leave you with an interesting thought: the Founding Fathers, when writing the Second Amendment, had just finished a nearly-decade-long war of brother-against-brother, liberty-against-tyranny, freedom-against-oppression, and, in the end, the disorganized and generally looked-down-upon colonists roundly spanked their orderly, organized imperial overlords. Is it really that bizarre of a thought that they would have protected their ancestors’ right to do exactly that themselves, should the need ever arise in the future?

If you wish to know more on this debate, then Linoge has a website with heaps more information on this tricky issue

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54 comments

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Gwynn Compton May 9, 2013 - 3:00 pm

I’m confused, there’s gun control in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, most of Europe, yet those people aren’t enslaved by any measure. Then again, if the 2nd Amendment is to be interpreted as allowing people to carry contemporary military weaponry, I’ll put in my order for a fully armed F-18 Hornet now thank you very much.

My absurdity aside, democracy refers to the voting mechanism to elect representatives. Thus the United States is a Federal Republic, with a representative democratic voting system in each of of the states making it up.

New Zealand is a Constitutional Monarchy, with a representative democratic voting system… you get my drift.

Democracy isn’t a form of government so much as it is the mechanisms used by the people to nominate and elect people to populate that Government. As a comparison, the Soviet Union was, in effect, a Federal Republic too, but one with a single party system to “elect” its representatives.

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Linoge May 9, 2013 - 10:55 pm

I would note that nowhere in my comment/post did I say that those who are disarmed are enslaved; rather, I pointed out the right to bear arms and the right to be free from slavery (in addition to other rights) are basic human rights and are protected by the Constitution, and that I am likely to be unwilling to sit down to a “sensible” conversation about unjustly limiting any of them, precisely because of their similar natures.

Likewise, I would point out that “protects a right to” does not make the exercise of that right automatically legal, which is quite unfortunate.

And, finally, I would not that the governing concept of a republic already contains within it the notion of the people voting for their representatives, and definitionally so. Likewise, pure democracies are unquestionably forms of government, and, as my Founding Fathers thought, poor ones at that.

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Lobby Lud May 9, 2013 - 8:33 pm

“First, America is not a democracy, and, in fact, was specifically designed to not be a democracy, but rather be a constitutional republic.”

As Gwynn suggests, this has always seemed to me to be a category error. “Constitutional republics” and “Democracy” aren’t the same type of thing. All democracies place some kind of fetter on a pure democracy.

In the UK, where I’m living at the moment, there’s an unelected upper house and of course, the queens role as head of state that act as a brake on “the tyranny of the majority” . In New Zealand, despite getting very close to full representative democracy, we still place limits on the way a party can be elected to parliament (e.g. a 5% threshold for entry via party vote).

And yet both countries are at the same time constitutional monarchies and democracies.

On your second point. I recognise that Founders intended to make the constitution hard to change, and that this is generally a good thing. But it also leaves you with an anachronism. Interestingly, your reference to the time when the second amendment was passed is exactly my point – there’s no need for people to own military style weapons anymore, so why is an amendment protecting that right still needed?

Why hasn’t anyone tried to change the constitution? Refer my second problem. The constitution (in political discourse at least) is treated like it can’t be questioned. That also appears to be your argument. I don’t live in the states, but I follow US politics closely and I am yet to hear any elected representative question the validity of the constitution – hence my analogy with “holy writ”. Your construction, that the founding fathers designed it this way, is simply an argument from authority. The founding fathers certainly didn’t think they were infallible – why should we?

And to the third point. The article was written as polemic – so I took some liberties for the sake of brevity – “howling at the moon” etc (though you try reading through http://www.infowars.com/ and then tell me that those guys aren’t seriously unhinged).

However, if you travel to just about any developed nation in the world and say to someone that restricting your right to purchase an AR-15 without a background check is tantamount to slavery, they’ll most likely look at you funny and then make their excuses to leave. In New Zealand, we need to apply for a licence to own a gun. And I can assure you, we are not slaves.

And I think this quote is where we fundamentally part ways:
“People are trying to unjustly limit, restrict, control, regulate, and outright destroy my rights; I fail to see why I have to be reasonable with them.”

They really aren’t – limit, yes. Unjustly? Until you can make a serious argument about why someone needs a semi-automatic rifle, or why someone should be able to buy a firearm without a background check, you’re going to struggle to convince me that these policy proposals are anything but eminently sensible.

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Linoge May 9, 2013 - 11:16 pm

I can only repeat what I said in the above response – America is not currently a democracy, and was never intended to be one, specifically because the founding members of its government absolutely despised the notion of a “tyranny of the majority”.

Cannot say as though I blame them.

That said, your argument – that the Constitution should be altered simply because a nebulous and poorly-polled “majority” seem to believe that a right needs to be limited in some particular fashion – is likewise an appeal to popularity. As I said, there are channels to alter the Constitution. They have been used in the past. They are not being used now.

Why? Because they will fail, which rather undermines the notion that the majority of Americans think gun control is a shiny idea.

Polemic or not, school-yard name-calling rather belies any claims to desiring “sensible” discussions.

Speaking of, again, no where did I said that those who are disarmed are automatically enslaved, any more than I said that those who are disarmed lose their right to free expression/press. I merely noted that I am not going to sit down to a “sensible” discussion to unjustly limit any of those rights, and all for the same reasons.

You are right, though, this is where we are going to part ways, because you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the basic concepts of freedom and liberty:

They really aren’t – limit, yes. Unjustly?

Unquestionably yes. I have harmed no one. I have damaged no property. I have broken no laws. And yet people, both in my country and abroad, want to punish me by limiting, if not outright stripping me of, my rights, simply because someone else has broken laws.

That is fundamentally unjust and a gross violation of the concept of “due process”; a process, I would note, that America was specifically founded upon.

The point of rights – the point of freedom itself – is that I do not have to provide you an explanation of why I want those rights or those freedoms or why I am going to peacefully exercise them, any more than I have to provide you an explanation for not wanting to quarter troops in my house, for wanting to worship as I see fit, or so forth.

You, on the other hand, do have to provide a compelling, reasonable, rational, and justifiable reason why I, specifically, should not be permitted to peacefully exercise a right as I see fit, and “because I do not like it” and “because I am scared of it” are both wholly lacking rationales on all counts indeed.

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Lobby Lud May 10, 2013 - 4:28 am

I still contend that you’re making a category error – Democracy and Constitutional Republics are not mutually exclusive.

I’m not sure how you can question the polling on this. That politifact article quotes four polls with overwhelming support for background checks. What exactly is it about them that makes you think the majority (not buying the scare quotes) were “poorly-polled”. Without that, it smacks of the Republican pre-election denial of polls (and Nate Silver).

The fact that people aren’t trying to change the constitution is entirely my point. You have a constitutional republic, but your method of choosing your representatives (democracy) is broken – gerrymandering is rife (and celebrated), candidates are entirely beholden to campaign contributors, The electorate college is far from representative, your senate gives someone living in vermont 30 times the voting power of someone in NY…

All of this means that it’s almost impossible to get anything done. Your system of government has come to a grinding halt. The mechanisms for change are broken. Even with overwhelming public support, gun control measures could be stopped by a minority of senators (I blame Harry Reid for trusting senate republicans).

If this is what the founding fathers intended, then I contend that they were wrong, but I don’t think it is – I don’t think they predicated quite how the checks and balances they created could be so fundamentally misused.

We have a disagreement about the fundamentals of freedom and liberty. However, I don’t think I’m the one with the misunderstanding.

I suspect our definition of liberty is most likely the same; your application of liberty is uniquely American. For me, it places too much of a focus on rights, and not enough on responsibilities.

Under your current system of background checks, terrorists can purchase guns, the criminally insane can buy guns, convicted violent felons can buy guns – all without any checks of their suitability. Those are three very good reasons to introduce a comprehensive system of background checks.

Just a thought: Do you think people should be forced to obtain a licence to drive a car?

If I was in the US, I would care much more. My somewhat tongue in cheek concern is tempered by distance. If I lived in the US, I would be concerned about the number of guns held by a limited class of people who are more concerned about their right to own military style weapons than they are about protecting innocents – and the fact that they keep talking about “2nd amendment remedies.”

Seriously. Asking you to submit to a five minute background check before buying a gun, or saying “sorry, you actually don’t need that assault rifle” isn’t punishment. It’s what the rest of the world calls the bleeding obvious.

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Linoge May 10, 2013 - 8:54 am

I’m not sure how you can question the polling on this.

Well, unless you somehow believe that 130% of the American population was polled, it really is not all that had to question it:

Americans are more narrowly divided on the issue than in recent months, and backing for a bill has slipped below 50%, the poll finds. By 49%-45%, those surveyed favor Congress passing a new gun-control law. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in early April, 55% had backed a stricter gun law, which was down from 61% in February.

If 45% of American oppose new “gun control” legislation, then how can 90% of them support it?

Or, given that 39% of Americans were “very happy / relived” that new “gun control” legislation was not passed (including the background check legislation that the “90%” poll specifically asked about), then how can 90% of Americans be unhappy about it?

Or, hey, another poll that indicates 26% of Americans were either enthusiastic or satisfied that the background check legislation was not passed (see the Quinnipac University, April 25-29 poll).

The simple truth is that if 90% of Americans actually supported something, it would happen. But I dare you to get 90% of any given sample of Americans to agree on where to eat for lunch.

If this is what the founding fathers intended, then I contend that they were wrong

That is fine. Then change it.

That is the absolute beauty of the Constitution – if the majority really, really wanted something that would necessitate an amendment to the Constitution, then that document allows for them to do so. Interesting points – did you know that the most-recent Amendment took almost 203 years to ratify (it took us a while to figure out the Founding Fathers were right about Congress not giving themselves pay raises), but the one before that took less than four months.

Four months. And on what essential, life-shattering, time-sensitive topic did we, the people, move so quickly? Fixing the voting age at 18.

Granted, this was in response to a recent Supreme Court hearing and was during the upward swing of the anti-Vietnam demonstrations, so Americans as a whole were a little politically charged at the time, but consider for a second – we, the people, pushed through an Amendment demanding a federally-mandated voting age in four months with 94 Senators and 401 Representatives voting for it and 42 states ratifying it, but you are honestly going to tell me that 90% of the American people are incapable of doing the same thing to day on an issue they supposedly feel just as strongly about?

Sorry, but that simply defies belief.

But all of this is just dancing around the core issue, which is thus: my rights are not subject to popular approval. To be certain, expressing my rights may be outlawed (as they are in numerous countries around the world), but I will still retain those rights all the same.

For me, it places too much of a focus on rights, and not enough on responsibilities.

I will say this very plainly, so I am sure I will be understood: I am not responsible for the actions of anyone else, and I patently refuse to be punished, have my rights limited, or, in any other way, have my life dictated to me due to someone else’s misbehavior.

Under your current system of background checks, terrorists can purchase guns, the criminally insane can buy guns, convicted violent felons can buy guns

Let us take these items one at a time, shall we?

I assume you are referring to the poorly-named “Terrorist Watch List” or any of its various analogs through various governmental departments? Are you aware that United States Senators and six-year-old children have been on this list? Are you aware that this list has no oversight, has no publicly available means of removing one’s self from it, and has no checks or balances, due process, or anything of the sort? And you want to use this arbitrarily-defined “list” as a means to whimsically deny rights to American citizens? See my above “instruct them to perform physiologically implausible acts upon themselves and go on my merry” comment.

Define “criminally insane”. It may be useful to you to take a look at ATF Form 4473 (*.pdf warning); I – and every other American – have to fill one of these out every time I purchase a firearm from a dealer. Note question 11.f. We do not simply prohibit the “criminally insane”; we prohibit the insane, the committed, and the otherwise mentally deficient. Why? What crime have they committed? Apparently simply existing was all it took. At least in their case, there was something approximating “due process”, but given the abject disgrace our mental health system has become, forgive me for not putting a great deal of stock in it.

Convicted felons, of any type, are federally prohibited from purchasing, touching, owning, or possibly even being in the same room (depending on certain interpretations) as a firearm. Period. Dot.

Now, all of this probably comes down to your objection to America not requiring private sales to submit to background checks as well, yes? It might interest you to find out that all of 4% of guns used in crimes come from gun shows (another *.pdf). 4%. On the other hand, 60% of guns used in crimes were procured at some type of dealer, where the criminals already had to undergo background checks… and, apparently, passed them. Whoopsies.

Forgive me for not being terribly interested in having to prove my innocence in the face of a supposition of guilt in order to exercise my rights (a) because someone else misbehaved and (2) in an ultimately futile gesture.

Just a thought: Do you think people should be forced to obtain a licence to drive a car?

Just a thought: Do you think it is the little plastic card in people’s pockets that actually makes them better drivers?

… who are more concerned about their right to own military style weapons than they are about protecting innocents

First, I own my firearms, amongst other reasons, precisely because I want to and intend on protecting innocents.

Second, when you say “military style”, you are referring to a firearm’s aesthetic features. Explain how those features make a firearm any more deadly.

Third, I have a right to own man-portable military weapons, period. The Second Amendment makes no distinction about what they look like.

Fourth, really, all we want to do is be left alone to live our lives and enjoy our rights in peace. Why is that so accursedly hard for people like you?

Seriously. Asking you to submit to a five minute background check before buying a gun, or saying “sorry, you actually don’t need that assault rifle” isn’t punishment.

Strange. When we take a toy away from a child, it is punishment. When we put criminals in jail and functionally deprive them of all private property, it is punishment. But when you arbitrarily and whimsically declare that I do or do not “need” something (as if “need” has any bearing on my rights), it is suddenly not punishment.

How convenient.

As for background checks, we are back to the world of having to prove innocence in the face of presumption of guilt (which is rather the opposite of what America was founded upon) and the notion of due process. I am afraid those are two sticking points I am not going to compromise on.

Or, to put in the words of someone who has been down this road long before I started walking it, “A right delayed is a right denied.”

P.S. The electoral college has jack-all to do with amending the Constitution, and, honestly, I cannot recall the last time a elector sent to the College did not vote the way his district(s) told him to. Seems like that part of the constitutional republic is working just fine.

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Jake May 11, 2013 - 4:05 am

“I’m not sure how you can question the polling on this.”

Here’s a concrete example. Assume for a moment that the 85% who support “universal background checks” is an accurate number. Now, let’s look at the recent NRA meeting in Houston, Texas, where there were some small anti-gun protests.

According to Wikipedia, the population of Houston is (as of the last census) 2.1 million. 85% of that would be about 1.78 million. If only 0.01% of that 1.78 million cared enough to show up to protest the NRA’s backing of universal background checks (UBC), there would have been over 1,700 protesters. Even if only 25% of Houston favored UBC, and only 0.01% of that cared enough to show up, there would have been over 500 protesters.

Instead, the best estimates I’ve seen place the number of protesters to have been somewhere around 60.

Reality doesn’t match the numbers being quoted. The polling is wrong.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 15, 2013 - 6:59 pm

So essentially you think that polling doesn’t work at all. I point you to four separate polls, all with very similar results, with a margin of error of 3-4% each, and you respond with: “But there weren’t enough protestors.”

Seriously? Because people are apathetic, somehow polling is wrong?

I’m betting that you didn’t believe Obama was going to win the election either.

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Steve May 10, 2013 - 8:12 am

So do you believe that it is perfectly reasonable for anyone who would like to purchase fully automatic assault rifles on the grounds of “personal protection” to be able to do so?

Technology has advanced well beyond anything the founding fathers could’ve perceived, lack of governance to take these advances is surely not a positive thing.

Given the lobbyist might of the NRA, I don’t see even an outcry from the “majority” gaining any traction any time soon.

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Linoge May 10, 2013 - 8:55 am

If you do not trust someone with a firearm, how do you trust them with gasoline?

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Erin Palette May 10, 2013 - 12:38 pm

Ah, the hoary old “The Second Amendment only applies to muskets” argument. Do you similarly feel that Freedom of Speech only applies to moveable type, and not the internet? That Freedom of Religion does not apply to Scientology? That your DNA does not require a warrant, because forensic technology has advanced well beyond anything the Founding Fathers could have perceived?

You cannot apply that argument to just one of our Rights and leave the rest alone. All at once, or none at all.

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MrHPlus May 10, 2013 - 10:16 pm

This has never been a question of technology. Even if it was, the framers of the US Constitution employed privately-owned warships, capable of destroying whole towns with sustained bombardment. The US had no navy until later and most of the framers specifically deplored the idea of maintaining a standing army. If you have a casual glace of Democide (governments killing their OWN people) just for the the most recent century, I think this is hard to argue with. A standing army is more a threat to the people it’s suppose to “protect” and, having just declared independence from a monarchy that included the world’s largest standing army, I’m sure the Constitutional framers knew that more intimately than you or I.

But let’s not start the conversational narrative in the middle. Start at the beginning. Let’s take the “muskets-as-technological-apex” argument to it’s fullest extent and assume that the 2nd Amendment protected ALL weapons: aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons, everything. In such a world, please tell me, WHO is it that has incentive to develop and use such large-scale weapons? Would any private organization, even to the heights of capitalist greed have ANY incentive to pose a constant threat to their trading partners? Would any family, no matter how wealthy, actually DESIRE to have radioactive ordinance in a ready-to-deploy format? No, of course not. It takes a STATE to create such terrible weapons. And it is STATES that develop them; STATES that use them; not just in warfare, but even against their own people. It takes a GOVERNMENT to maintain (by theft of taxation) the long logistical chain necessary to commission, build, maintain, transport, and deploy massively-destructive weapons. By contrast, the personal, man-portable firearm has not changed in any great degree for over 100 years. It is STILL a simple machine and it will remain so, as long as it is good enough to protect a person from physical threat. So, it would seem that the Constitutional framers aversion to the standing army was perfectly reasonable.

Some people hate guns because they represent “assault” and “violence,” and, honestly, I get that. I really do. But if people hate the instruments of violence so much, then what is the recipe for eliminating violence in its institutional forms? Surely, it is NOT to further centralize and further concentrate the power of a few individuals over the rest of us. Have we learned NOTHING from history!?

And, right here in New Zealand, we now have a Constitutional Commission taking submissions from the public. We have the opportunity to cement in place all of the individual liberties that are required to check the power of tyrannical governments. Are we enslaved? No, of course not. But we should not be so surprised when PM Key can discover for himself brand new spying powers! What have we done to prevent this? It’s a Democracy! Hey, we VOTED for this guy, right!? And therein lies the basic objection to democracy in favor of a constitutional government: democracy is nothing more than a softer version of mob-rule. We are LIVING this reality. We are ON that slippery slope as-we-speak. How much of your life are you willing to subject to popular opinion? Are you THAT confident that there will always be another political party to oppose the current regime? Would Sheerer give up those newly-proposed powers if he were elected tomorrow, or would he keep them in the “interest of the public”?

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 11, 2013 - 2:41 am

Okay – I should have stopped reading as soon as I saw “tax is theft”, and “A standing army is more a threat to the people it’s suppose to ‘protect'” but I will make one interjection: I’ll take your additional spying powers and raise you the PATRIOT act.

Oh, and one more thing – category error.

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Jake May 11, 2013 - 3:51 am

“Technology has advanced well beyond anything the founding fathers could’ve perceived, lack of governance to take these advances is surely not a positive thing.”

And you made that statement on the internet. How did the doublethink not make your head explode?

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 11, 2013 - 2:36 am

Linoge – I’ve dropped down here because the nesting is about to get unreadable.

I think the fundamental reason that we disagree is that you think owning a gun is a right (probably because your constitution tells you it is). I think of it as a privilege – something you have to earn. Why? Because guns are designed to kill and they are inherently dangerous. As I tried to suggest, gun licences are analogous to driver’s licences. But unlike you suggest, a licence is not a piece of paper – It’s evidence, a symbol if you will, that the person operating the vehicle has demonstrated that they are technically proficient and have a working understanding of the “code of practice”. Why should guns be any different? If your answer is “Because it’s my right”, then you’re not actually engaging in the fundamental question.

Here’s why I’m sceptical of your evidence.

My statement about overwhelming support was about the Manchin-Toomey amendment affecting background checks, which was the proposal put to the senate. I’m sure you’re aware that the different gun control measures were separated, so what we’re interested in is polling on the question of background checks.

This site: http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm collates poll results. The latest poll results in support of expanding background checks are as follows:
Quinnipac University – 25-29 April 13 = 83% ± 2.6%
CBS News/NYT Poll 24-28 April = 88% ± 3%
Fox News 20-22 April = 82% ± 3%
ABC News/Washington Post 11-14 April = 85% ± 3.5%

I can’t comment on the USA Today poll, because I can’t find a link to the actual question they asked. I can see the question for the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that’s also cited, but again, that’s a general question about whether laws covering firearm sales should me more or less strict, or stay the same. You simply can’t compare them, because they’re different questions.

Your Quinnipac poll is just a demonstration that people are either stupid or partisan. That’s the same poll where 83% of people wanted expanded background checks. So by my reckoning, 9% of the people who answered that poll both want background checks, but were, at the least, satisfied that the thing they want wasn’t passed in the Senate. That’s either some really odd cognitive static (my guess – partisan) or they didn’t understand at least one of the questions.

The ability to fetter the “tyranny of the majority” is the beauty of the Constitution. It’s also its fundamental failing. What defies belief is that the country that claims to be the greatest democracy on earth (no-one else gave you that title) can’t actually get sensible things done. The Manchin-Toomey amendment had the numbers to pass the senate, but was prevented from proceeding to a vote by a filibuster that required no effort from the senator doing the blocking.

I genuinely do not think that the voting law amendment would have been possible from the current Congress and Senate – particularly if the amendment was proposed by president Obama.

On the terrorist watch list – I recognise that there are problems with the list, but is this really a reason to not check? Here’s a suggestion – fix the list. Don’t use an administrative failing as an excuse to do nothing.

On the “insane, the committed, and the otherwise mentally deficient.” Yes. You have to fill out that form when you buy the gun from a dealer. The best information we have says that approximately 40% of gun sales are from someone other than a licensed dealer. That’s a pretty big gap.

“What crime have they committed? Apparently simply existing was all it took.”

No – all it took was that they were certified as mentally deficient. Sometimes we put restrictions on people when they aren’t capable of managing certain things themselves. That’s not a punishment, that’s sensible public policy. It’s the same principle as telling blind people that they aren’t allowed to drive.

“Convicted felons, of any type, are federally prohibited from purchasing, touching, owning, or possibly even being in the same room (depending on certain interpretations) as a firearm. Period. Dot.”

And without background checks, you’re not even trying to stop them buying guns. I prefer to park my ambulance at the top of the cliff, next to the sturdy safety fence.

I’m not only worried about the gun shows. I’m worried about any means of acquiring a gun that doesn’t have a background check. Your study would seem to support the suggestion that 40% of guns are acquired from somewhere other than a dealer – that’s a gaping hole.

Again – there’s a common thread in your argument that essentially argues “if a system isn’t working that well, we shouldn’t have the system”, rather than “this could work better – let’s improve it.” I know which approach I prefer.

You don’t have to prove your innocence. You have to prove that you’re an appropriate person to carry around something that’s designed to kill people. Or do you actually think that people have the right to drive a car without going through some sort of licensing process?

“Because I want to” isn’t an argument. “Because I want to protect innocents” is, but I contend that innocents are better protected by a well funded police force and lower gun ownership (As evidenced by a homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants of 1.2 in the UK and 1.5 in New Zealand compared with the US rate of 5.0 http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/safety/). Your gun is more likely a danger to you than it is to the people you’re protecting against.

Let me be clear. When I talk about military style firearms, I’m referring to guns based on weapons that were designed for the military (e.g. the AR15 – Used ). It fires many bullets in a very short amount of time – It’s designed to kill a lot of people. It’s extremely deadly.

You keep going back to your right. I don’t care. Yes it’s the status quo – surely the more important question is: “does the status quo deliver the best outcomes?”

It’s accursedly hard for me to accept that your right to own weapons (like the one that were used to killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary) is more important than the right of those children to live. We make trade-offs between freedom/liberty and safety all the time. As long as being “left alone” doesn’t affect anyone else – fine. In this case, it seems pretty clear that a lack of gun control really does contribute to the harm of innocents.

Again – as long as you conceptualise it as a right without responsibilities, you aren’t actually engaging. I can’t help but think your analogy to a child having his toy taken away is unintentionally apt.

And once more, it’s not about innocence. Do you think getting a driver’s license is analogous to proving innocence? It’s the same concept. As for due process, I’m not arguing. I think the second amendment should be changed. I think it should be done democratically. My thesis is that your democracy is too broken to allow for that.

The electoral college isn’t broken because representatives don’t vote the way that the district tells them. It’s broken because it’s not representative, placing much more power into the hands of the less populous states. You’ll note that my comment about not changing the constitution was more generally about your democracy being broken. However, while the President has no formal role in a constitutional amendment, are you really arguing they have no influence? If so, you might want to ask Eisenhower and Nixon why they bothered to get involved. You don’t think presidential support might go some way to swaying representatives?

Fundamentally, it comes down to this. If you refuse to engage with gun control on the question of whether it’s a good idea, rather than whether it’s a right that someone’s taking away from you, you’re essentially confirming my original thesis. You may be fine with that. I’m not. Hence the article.

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Erin Palette May 11, 2013 - 10:21 am

I’m only going to engage in part of your thread, Lobby, due to it addressing multiple (related) topics. One on one, we can whittle it down.

Regarding your desire that firearm ownership should be regulated, like a driver’s licence, for proficiency:

First, a right that is regulated is a right that is delayed, and eventually becomes a right denied via bureaucracy. To whit: “Oh sure, you can own a firearm, you just need 100 hours of training, a million dollars in liability insurance, and a$1000 non-refundable application fee.”

Voila! Regulation has now become soft control via economics. You’re a poor person and you want a firearm to defend your home from a string of break-ins? Too bad, you can’t afford the training, the insurance, and the fee. No gun for you!

Can you list a single other fundamental human right, listed in the Constitution or elsewhere, that would require such regulation? I dare say you cannot.

Regulation of ANY sort is unconstitutional. If there is indeed a national mandate, then the people are best served by amending the Constitution. Until that happens, there IS no debate, because the Constitution is still the Ultimate Law of the Land.

TL;DR it’s not about guns, it’s about rights, and rights are not up debate or discussion.

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Linoge May 11, 2013 - 3:29 pm

You keep going back to your right. I don’t care.

If you do not care about basic human rights, we have nothing further to discuss, since that is, at it’s core, what this discussion is about.

You go on bitterly clinging to the notion that you can dictate others’ lives based on your own misconceptions and prejudices. I will continue peacefully enjoying those rights you do not care about.

I am sanguine with that arrangement.

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Erin Palette May 11, 2013 - 4:03 pm

It seems like much of Mr. Lud’s argument boils down to “America is not like New Zealand/Great Britain, and that bothers me.”

I could reply with a similar “You folks still have a hereditary monarch as your head of government, and that bothers me.” I could go on all day long about how aristocracy is based on the premise that some people, by sheer accident of birth, are placed into a position of ruling others, and how that has no place in a modern day system based on merit. However, that wouldn’t change the fact that removing the Queen would render the England quite un-British.

Well, that’s us an our Constitution. It is the supreme law of the land, and as such, it effectively IS holy writ — with the all-important distinction that, should enough people will it, that holy writ can be amended.

That is the American process. To suggest any other way is un-American. You don’t like it? You don’t have to. We are, after all, a nation that was founded by giving the middle finger to an empire — and we won. Annoying Europeans is pretty much what we do.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 13, 2013 - 7:17 pm

Guess what. I agree. I think having a hereditary monarch is a terrible idea. Which is why I am a republican (in the “type of government I’d like to have” sense rather than the american sense”). When (I hope) we finally drop the monarchy, New Zealand won’t be any less New Zealand-y.

And that, fundamentally, is where we differ. It’s also the entire thesis of my original article. For me, treating anything as if it’s unchallengeable is a bad thing. If we can do things to prevent bad things happen, we should weigh up the effects of those approaches against our rights and freedoms. That’s a grown up approach to liberty.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you think is more important – being able to have your guns because the founding fathers of your country told you it was your right, or trying to prevent things like school massacres.

One thing we do know, is that we have at least one data point that demonstrates gun control works. We’ll leave it to John Oliver and John Howard to explain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9pOiOhxujsE#!

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Erin Palette May 15, 2013 - 4:15 pm

For me, treating anything as if it’s unchallengeable is a bad thing.

Except that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is, “We have a means to change the Constitution via amendment. If that 90% figure is close to accurate, then there should be no problem in passing it. But until that happens, any other form of law controlling guns is unconstitutional.”

We aren’t you. We aren’t ever going to BE you. And since you’re never going live here, why do you care so damn much?

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 15, 2013 - 6:53 pm

Except by accepting that it is treated as holy writ, you are essentially accepting that it is (in practical terms) unchallengeable.

“But until that happens, any other form of law controlling guns is unconstitutional.”

I think you’ll find that’s completely inaccurate. There are a number of federal and state laws that control guns – I don’t recall the supreme court striking them down. The 2nd amendment simply sets a framework within which gun control needs to work. Unless you’re suggesting that it’s unconstitutional for you to be prevented from buying a nuclear missile?

I care because I see a country that I love to visit doing nothing about the massacre of innocents. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a small country, but we do tend to care about what happens outside our borders.

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Jake May 13, 2013 - 3:29 am

That’s either some really odd cognitive static (my guess – partisan) or they didn’t understand at least one of the questions.”

Or they had read the actual bill and opposed one or more parts of it enough that they didn’t want it to pass even if they did want UBC’s.

What defies belief is that the country that claims to be the greatest democracy on earth (no-one else gave you that title) can’t actually get sensible things done. The Manchin-Toomey amendment had the numbers to pass the senate, but was prevented from proceeding to a vote by a filibuster that required no effort from the senator doing the blocking.

Here’s the thing: If you look at my post above, you’ll see the abysmal turnout the anti-gun groups had at the NRA meeting. And there’s the thing about polls. Even if the polls showing 85% support for UBC’s are accurate, that only shows passive support – i.e., people who will answer that on a poll, but may or may not be motivated enough to actually do anything about it, and likely won’t care enough to even remember the issue at election time. Polls do not measure active support – the people willing to actually advocate for a cause and make it an issue at election time.

The active support on this issue is actually pretty pitiful. Like I noted above, the people advocating for UBC’s couldn’t even get 1/100 of 1% of their claimed supporters to attend a protest in their own hometown.

We see this disparity frequently on gun issues, especially at the local level. The people advocating restrictions muster a small group to speak in favor of their proposals, while gun owners manage to completely fill – and even overflow – the venue. It’s not uncommon for many gun rights supporters to be shuffled off to another room or outdoor area with a video feed, because they simply can’t all fit in the actual meeting room.

With that kind of lack of active supporters, what’s amazing is that the bill had enough votes in the Senate that a filibuster was needed to stop it.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 13, 2013 - 7:23 pm

“Or they had read the actual bill and opposed one or more parts of it enough that they didn’t want it to pass even if they did want UBC’s.”

That’s a serious suggestion? You don’t think it’s straining credulity to suggest that even a miniscule percentage of people polled have actually read the bill? Bridges for sale etc…

So what if it’s passive support? Most western democracies don’t have lost their tradition of activism, that doesn’t mean that people don’t expect their elected representatives to act on their behalf.

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dave w May 11, 2013 - 1:44 pm

Hi, lot of reading to get this far, forgive me if i miss or restate a point.
Also, I’m not American, although i did live there for 8 years. I like to point this out as to save people time abusing me for it later on.

On the “insane, the committed, and the otherwise mentally deficient.” Yes. You have to fill out that form when you buy the gun from a dealer. The best information we have says that approximately 40% of gun sales are from someone other than a licensed dealer. That’s a pretty big gap.

This is a wonderful telephone poll from 1994, asking folks about guns they brought in the last year. So, parts of 1993 and 1994. The Brady bill came about at the end of 1993.
What does it really say? Here’s the real, honest title of that 40% figure you have.
“over a period of time where half of it didn’t require any background checks and half of it did 40% of guns were purchased in the do not need one segment.” Yep, that’s right, this figure is worthless.
Why isn’t it updated? Because the figure would be 99% purchased with background checks, the other 1% were brought by parents or grand parents etc as gifts.
And that my friends, doesn’t make a good sound bite.

Let me be clear. When I talk about military style firearms, I’m referring to guns based on weapons that were designed for the military (e.g. the AR15 – Used ). It fires many bullets in a very short amount of time – It’s designed to kill a lot of people. It’s extremely deadly.

OK, you know the military doesn’t use AR-15’s right. Are we talking black and scary looking guns? Sure they are almost the same apart from the fully auto part. There’s nothing on an AR 15 that hasn’t been in gun designs for over 100 years, except for the black plastic i guess.
If we go on guns based on military designs, well then thats about 90% i would guess, every shape, size, action and caliber. Couldn’t even try and keep the rabbits at bay with grandpa’s .22 in that case.
The AR is SO dangerous because it has been used at x,x, and x argument is like saying more people are run over by Fords annually than Ferrari’s therefore Fords are too dangerous and Ferrari’s are safer. There are millions (and possibly tens of) of AR style guns in civilian hands in the US.
There is no gun-show loophole.
Even in England you can buy and sell property (gun) between two people without getting the government involved.
That’s how i got my first gun.

I quickly browsed the OECD data, looking at countries i have lived in. Yep, feel least safe in the UK, that checked out. Safer in the US, that checked out. Looked up NZ for reference, wont be coming to visit anytime soon.

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Erin Palette May 11, 2013 - 3:22 pm

Ah yes, the “Gun Show Loophole,” a.k.a. the Federal Government really hates it when you sell your private property to another consenting adult. Never mind that it’s a crime to sell a firearm to anyone you know is: a felon, a domestic abuser, a substance abuser, an illegal alien, has been dishonorably discharged from the military, has a restraining order against them, is a minor, etc etc I’ve probably forgotten a few, and that if they trace that gun back to you it’s your ass for selling to Mr. Shifty McMurderface.

Also, I’m just going to leave this little link here: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/fv9311pr.cfm Kindly note the part where it says, in the 7th paragraph, that guns actually sold at gun shows account for less than 2% of all gun crime.

I do believe we can close the chapter on the “Gun Show Loophole,” mmkay?

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 13, 2013 - 7:31 pm

So if we’re only talking about 2% of sales, why filibuster it? What’s the harm? Either it’s a big deal or it’s not – you can’t have it both ways.

Here’s the reality. New Zealand and Australia have (what you would call) extremely restrictive gun laws. We don’t do gun massacres. If you’re interested in seeing how you could solve a problem, we’d be happy to show you, just don’t bring your gun.

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Erin Palette May 15, 2013 - 4:20 pm

The harm, as always, is in poorly-defined legal terms and in legislative creep.

Example: Let’s say I take a friend to the range, and I say “Here, try my gun out, it’s fantastic.” Under certain provisions of the bill, that would be an illegal transfer without a background check, and both my friend and I would have committed a crime. If you do not see how this is ripe for potential abuse by police with axes to grind or prosecutors looking to make names for themselves, you aren’t trying very hard.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 15, 2013 - 6:39 pm

And again, the reality is that this works in other places. Sometimes they’re not out to get you – it’s just paranoia.

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Erin Palette May 16, 2013 - 2:54 am

.. he says, in the same week that it’s been revealed that the administration has been using the tax man to harass political opponents.

In the same week that an open microphone in New Jersey catches legislators saying “We need to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate.”

Look, 80,000 American are killed each year through automobile accidents. I don’t hear strident cries for stricter car control. Why is it with guns, and ONLY with guns, we blame the inanimate object and not the hand behind it?

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Erin Palette May 16, 2013 - 4:39 am

Nesting has made it impossible to reply within the thread.

Except by accepting that it is treated as holy writ, you are essentially accepting that it is (in practical terms) unchallengeable.

Since the ratification of the Constitution, we have amended it seventeen times. This included both the outlawing of alcohol, and the subsequent undoing of that ban. Unchallengeable my arse. Again, your argument is simply “The USA doesn’t work the way I want it to work, and I don’t like that.” Well, tough.

I think you’ll find that’s completely inaccurate. There are a number of federal and state laws that control guns – I don’t recall the supreme court striking them down.

District of Columbia vs Heller, 2008: The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

The 2nd amendment simply sets a framework within which gun control needs to work. Unless you’re suggesting that it’s unconstitutional for you to be prevented from buying a nuclear missile?

Nice reducto ad absurdam logical fallacy you’ve got there. If you’re resorting to this, it’s a sign that your argument is weak to nonexistent.

I care because I see a country that I love to visit doing nothing about the massacre of innocents. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a small country, but we do tend to care about what happens outside our borders.

Oh, VERY nicely done, sir. You manage to work in the “ignorant, selfish, violent American” trope while at the same time making it seem like your concern for us is based on altrusim.

So let me dismantle your illusion. Our latest census was in 2010, and at that time we had 308,745,538 citizens. Our death rate was 799.5 deaths per 100,000. Now follow that link and look at the leading causes of death: Heart disease nearly 600,000, followed by cancer, and then waaaaay at the bottom we have intentional self-harm at 38,364, or .0123% of our population. That’s one hundredth of a percent that might, just MIGHT, involve firearms in their self-harm.

Kindly note that no other sort of “gun crime,” nor any form of violence other than self-violence, appear in the LCoD. (And before you ask about accidents, I’m going to point you here
where it says “accidental discharge of a firearm” accounts for a grand total of 606 deaths.) So the perception that the USA has a plague of gun violence is grossly mistaken.

So what ARE the numbers? Well, according to the FBI, there were 8,755 homicides in 2010 — and that number does not differentiate between criminal and justified (homeowners defending themselves, or police officers shooting criminals in the course of their duties.

8,755 out of 308 million is… 0.0028% of the population. In other words, the reports that the USA is a wild west full of shootouts is a media exaggeration. Some cities (I’m looking at you, Chicago) are dangerous, yes. But the rest of the country isn’t. Why, then, is the recommended course of action always to punish the rest of the country by inflicting onerous laws that will not stop crime (kindly note Connecticut had an assault weapons ban and numerous laws, and yet it failed to stop Lanza from exploiting the “Kill someone else and take their firearm” loophole, because — gasp! — criminals break laws) and only serve to restrict Constitutional rights and seize lawful property?

What you are suggesting, sir, is the punishment of the majority in order to stop a tiny bit of crime. Collective responsibility is a fascist concept, and as it is predicated on the belief that crime MIGHT be stopped by depriving me of my rights without due process, it’s also blatantly unfair and — here’s that word again — unconstitutional.

Kindly go away, sir.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 16, 2013 - 11:29 pm

“Look, 80,000 American are killed each year through automobile accidents. I don’t hear strident cries for stricter car control. Why is it with guns, and ONLY with guns, we blame the inanimate object and not the hand behind it?”

We regulate the use of cars… WIth a licensing system. The reason you don’t have an outcry is because you already have the type of sensible regulation that you should have for guns.

My original premise is that you cannot have a conversation about the second amendment or about gun control. You can’t question whether the second amendment is a good thing. Your refusal to engage on any other level than “this is a right, taking it away is punishing me” essentially confirms my premise. You may not consider that a bad thing. I do.

“District of Columbia vs Heller, 2008” How does that make the gun control measures recently passed in states all across the country “Unconstitutional”?

Ummm… you might want to brush up on logical fallacies. Reductio ad absurdum is a method that exposes fallacies, such as ““But until that happens, any other form of law controlling guns is unconstitutional.” You can clearly see the absurdity in claiming that nuclear weapons (arms) cannot be regulated, so you accept regulation has to work on a continuum. Consequently, you have to drop the absolutism. If you want to continue with an absolutist line, you have to argue for non-regulation of nuclear arms. That’s why reductio ad absurdum works.

““ignorant, selfish, violent American” trope” – Sensitive much? You’re the one telling me I shouldn’t care because I don’t live there. I can’t see how being more worried about holding onto guns than about school massacres can be described as anything other than “selfish”. As for ignorant, I’ve pointed you to at least two countries with stricter gun control that have significantly less gun crime (and overall homicides) – if you aren’t prepared to consider how that approach might actually work, what else would you call it? I’m not sure where you got violent from – every country has violent people – ours just find it much harder to get access to assault weapons.

My concern is entirely based on altruism. If people weren’t dying/hurting as a result of this, why would I care? Or do you think I’m motivated by a desire to squash “liberty” wherever I find it?

Wow – so you’re essentially writing the deaths of (in one example) 26 innocents (20 of them children) out of existence because: statistics? I’m not suggesting the US is the wild west – as I’ve said, I love the place. I just think your obsession with owning extremely dangerous weapons is bizarre.

“Why, then, is the recommended course of action always to punish the rest of the country by inflicting onerous laws that will not stop crime… and only serve to restrict Constitutional rights and seize lawful property?”

How many times do I have to tell you? Gun control does work. You can’t point to one example of failure and say that it never works. Please – watch the John Oliver piece. It nicely deals with your arguments.

“punishment of the majority in order to stop a tiny bit of crime”

Again with the minimisation. These types of arguments are stomach-churning. You just described Sandy Hook (and every other gun massacre that might have been prevented by sensible gun control) as “a tiny bit of crime”. Wow.

“Collective responsibility is a fascist concept”

We have a thing called society – it imbues rights and responsibilities. Or does that make me a socialist? Or a fascist? Again with the absolutism – it’s not principled. It’s unworkable.

Seriously. Comparing gun control to punishment is bizarre. It’s like suggesting that taking a toy off a child once we found out that it was a serious choking hazard is punishment.

“Kindly go away, sir.”

Isn’t that like walking into someone’s house and telling them to “get out”? Odd.

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Erin Palette May 17, 2013 - 3:28 am

So to summarize: I reply with facts, and you reply with feelings.

You accuse me of being harsh and uncaring, and yet you cannot see the abuses inherent in any law that is passed wholly on the merits of emotion rather than logic.

I suppose I should have stopped trying to debate you when you said “You keep going back to your right. I don’t care,” which is essentially the same as saying “I don’t care about the foundation of your government, I want what I want when I want it, procedure and rule of law be damned.”

So I’m going to cite irreconcilable differences and file for debate divorce. Neither of us will convince the other of the rightness of our perspectives. So I guess we can call it a draw.

Oh! Except for the fact that I’m a citizen of the country whose laws you’re debating, and you’re not. So I actually have a say in what happens, and you can only sit on the sidelines and complain.

Good luck with that.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 17, 2013 - 8:05 pm

Wow. I think that’s the first time in my life anyone has accused me of arguing from a position of “feelings”. Maybe that’s what nuance looks like to an absolutist.

You attempted to minimise the deaths of innocents by comparing their number with other causes of death. That’s simply callous (or “harsh” if you will). I’m not suggesting that gun control should be passed based on emotion – I’m suggesting it should be passed because it works. See Australia/New Zealand/UK. Those are facts.

I said “I don’t care”, because it’s not the most important question. The most important question is “what’s the best possible policy/legislative balance between protecting people and maintaining freedoms.” Once again, I point to the premise of the original article – that it’s impossible to have a sensible conversation about gun control in America because of the way Americans are taught to treat the Constitution. You’ve repeatedly demonstrated this to be true by using the constitution as a block to discussion.

“I don’t care about the foundation of your government, I want what I want when I want it, procedure and rule of law be damned.”

I can see why we’re having difficulties if this is how you’re reading my argument. You need to drop the mythology of the founding fathers. They were smart guys who had some very good ideas, but they weren’t infallible – and they certainly weren’t precognisant. And at no point have I advocated removing the second amendment without due process – I just pointed out that the treatment of the constitution and your the current state of your democracy prevents a grown-up discussion about a huge swathe of issues.

We were debate married? I suspect that in actuality, we’ll both individually go away believing that we won, but fair go.

You’re right, I don’t have a vote. I guess I’ll have to continue to watch in horror as more Americans die in gun massacres because regulating things that are designed to kill is “tyranny”.

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Jonathon May 18, 2013 - 6:46 am

After a brief statement to establish context I have one question for you Mr. Lud.

The context: I am preparing for one year in Afghanistan and am leaving shortly. In my absence, my girlfriend will be left alone in our home. She has her state issued Concealed Carry Permit and regularly goes to the range to maintain her marksmanship, practice immediate action in case of malfunctions and to practice her firearms handling skills. In other words, she is about as responsible and well-trained as a civilian can be.

The question: If a male much larger than her (and potentially armed) were to break into our home and attempt to harm her, should she be denied the right to defend herself with a firearm?

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 19, 2013 - 5:42 am

1. I’ll point you to the statistics that show that more people are injured by their own gun than prevent crime through the use of a gun that they own.
2. It’s hard to answer absolutely without knowing which state you are in (and thus the requirements for a concealed carry permit), but if you are in Michigan, for instance, it seems that you’d need to do considerably more than a background check to qualify. I think you’ll find that nowhere have I suggested that gun ownership should be illegal just subject to sensible regulation – the type that checks people out before they buy guns and stops them buying the type of guns that make it really easy to kill lots of people and have little utility in self defence.
3. Obviously, I’ve seen how gun control can prevent violence in society. I’d rather people didn’t feel like they needed to carry guns to protect themselves (most of the OECD), but I’m not suggesting reducing arms in the US is something you could do quickly. However, I do believe that if you took a steady approach to reducing the guns in society – you could increase safety in the US.

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Jonathon May 19, 2013 - 1:11 pm

You say you’ll point me to statistics yet you do not. To which statistics do you refer? Fair warning; I am a PhD candidate almost done conducting research for a dissertation concerning the impact of gun control laws on violence rates in America. I haven’t the hubris to claim that I’ve seen all of the gun studies but I would be pretty surprised if you found statistics I haven’t seen, considered and to which I have not subjected rigorous quantitative scrutiny. I have yet to see a peer-reviewed and unbiased study that supports your claims.

How, pray tell, do you account for Defensive Gun Uses (DGU) that cannot possibly be tracked?

For instance, I have “slapped leather” twice outside of my military service. Both times the bad guy suddenly realized that he had left a cake in the oven and departed in search of victims that were substantially less armed. I had no reason to call the police so no study, research nor poll is going to include my DGU. I am only one of millions of gun owners and concealed carry permit holders in this country. It is quite simply unfathomable that I stand alone in the use of a firearm as a deterrent without actually having to pull the trigger. Yet, the rate of accidental deaths to DGUs is incredibly low.

In other words, you, Lobby Lud, cannot possibly account for all of the DGUs that are not reported because the mere presence of a firearm prevented a crime. I readily acknowledge that you cannot prove a negative, nor can I. So, how do you propose that we measure that?

The state where my girlfriend and I live is irrelevant. We live in America. Our state’s regulations concerning the concealed carry of firearms, while unconstitutionally onerous, are not all that bad though they are far more robust than the requirements to drive a four wheeled 2000lb missile at lethal speeds.

Please describe the totality of “sensible regulation” in which you believe and provide evidence concerning the efficacy of said regulation.

While you’re at it, please also describe what “type(s) of guns that make it really easy to kill lots of people” and “have little utility in self defence(sic)”.

As to your final point, the data indicate that you are woefully misguided. At no time in the relatively short history of this country has there been a larger ratio of firearms to citizens yet the overall violent crime rate (I am not attempting to gloss over that some crime has increased a small amount year to year) has continued to fall. However, I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, your point and ask you what the correct ratio of firearms to citizens would result in the increased safety you proclaim.

Remember… hard numbers, citations and links to studies count… not feelings. My data come from WISQARS, the UCR and the FBI.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 20, 2013 - 8:58 pm

Here’s one:
“The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun. ”
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2009/09/gun-possession-safety/

And some more in support:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use/

Incidentally, I do hope you’re looking at the effect of gun control laws in other countries. Australia is a good example of a federal system that implemented some gun control measures with spectacular results.

I can’t account for the type of situation you speak of. I can only counter your anecdote with an anecdote. I have never been in a situation, not in New Zealand nor in the UK, where I have felt the need to even intimate that I had a weapon. In fact, in all my travels, I’ve never felt that way, and I’ve never met anyone who has – but I recognise that my individual experience isn’t of much value as evidence.

However, I’m sure you’re aware of this study that found “A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23467753

Of course the state you live in matters. It’s called the United States of America – different powers are afforded at the state and federal level. My question entirely related to the requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit. If they’re different in different states, then the state matters.

“Our state’s regulations concerning the concealed carry of firearms, while unconstitutionally onerous, are not all that bad”

Has the Supreme Court found them to be unconstitutional, or is that just your opinion? It’s fascinating how there are suddenly so many constitutional scholars in the US all of a sudden, who, when questioned, turn out to be no more than tea party talking point parrots (I’m not suggesting you are one of those).

“though they are far more robust than the requirements to drive a four wheeled 2000lb missile at lethal speeds.”

Really? Far more robust? I remember getting a drivers license being a fairly long and drawn out process, with multiple requirements to test both knowledge and competence. I also seem to be aware of significant enforcement of rules – with serious penalties if you use a car in any way that could be described as a “missile.” Maybe things are different in the states.

I’m not your research assistant, but I’ll let Salon respond to the issue of assault weapons:
http://www.salon.com/2012/12/26/banning_assault_weapons_works/

Here’s the reality. I come from a country where there aren’t many guns, where people are much safer. The US has a long way to go to address its gun issue. Sadly, the ultimate outcome of your “guns for self defence reduces crime” is that everyone is tooled up. Forgive me for thinking that’s a terrible idea.

Assault rifles with high capacity clips make it really easy to kill people – we’ve seen that demonstrated on numerous occasions. Unless you’re defending yourself against an armed siege? You certainly wouldn’t carry it around with you (Unless you’re one of those muppets who like to look tough by wearing their rifle to Walmart). So how do they provide any kind of self defence benefit (The zombie apocalypse hasn’t begun yet).

You’re right on the ratio of guns to citizens, but that’s a misleading and irrelevant statistic. What’s more important is the number of households with guns, which has dropped from 50% in the 70s, to mid thirties now. What we’re talking about is a smaller group of people who each own a shedload of guns.

What’s the correct ratio? It’s not really the point is it? Surely the point is to look at why people might need guns and go from there. If you have a country where people don’t carry guns around, where gun ownership isn’t widespread, it’s much harder for criminals to get their hands on guns. Lower gun ownership seriously works. As for a “correct ratio” – I suspect that it’s a disingenuous request, rather than a belief that naming such a thing is a sensible policy goal.

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J May 23, 2013 - 5:25 am

I am going to reply to the article since the nesting would make my reply otherwise unreadable. I look forward to your considered reply.

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Freedooooom! May 18, 2013 - 10:46 am

I always find statements like this kind of amusing.

“Look, 80,000 American are killed each year through automobile accidents. I don’t hear strident cries for stricter car control. Why is it with guns, and ONLY with guns, we blame the inanimate object and not the hand behind it?”

We regulate the use of cars… WIth a licensing system. The reason you don’t have an outcry is because you already have the type of sensible regulation that you should have for guns.
———–
On the one hand, you’re saying, “LOOK AT ALL THE DEAD PEOPLE BECAUSE OF GUNS!”, but “All those lives lost due to cars don’t matter because we have LICENSES for cars!”…despite deaths from cars being more than 8 times more common (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8).
Implicit in your statement is the assumption that further gun regulation will significantly decrease the number of homicides, which have been consistently falling for the past five years anyway.

This reminds of the discussions of “gun deaths” in different countries: how about we compare homicide rates instead and then look at where, geographically, those occur. California, for example, had 60% more firearm-related homicides than the next state (Texas, incidentally) (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20).
In case you’re unaware, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the entire country. Is this an example of gun control “working”?

The other common talking point re: guns is the whole “assault rifle” phrase. However, when you look at DATA (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-11) , you will find that rifles of ANY KIND accounted for 323 homicides in 2011: more than twice that number were committed with “personal weapons” (look at the link), and more than five times that number with knives or cutting instruments. So, when people talk about “reducing gun violence” and then proceed to talk about “assault weapons”, you’ll have to forgive me when I find that ridiculous.

I’ll try and post more later.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 19, 2013 - 7:03 am

I’m happy to discuss road safety measures that have proven efficacy. You’re not prepared to talk about gun control ones. That’s the difference.

“In case you’re unaware, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the entire country. Is this an example of gun control “working”?”

You have freedom of movement between states. Ever thought that gun control might not work where you let people carry their weapons across jurisdictions? You’re also ignoring a number of other very important factors – particularly population density.

Assault rifles made it easier for Adam Lanza to kill a heap of people in a very short period of time. That’s why people care. It’s one part of reducing gun violence – stop trying to minimise it because it’s not the entire solution.

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Freedooooom! May 19, 2013 - 1:17 pm

Re: “Freedom of movement between states”: yes, you do, but it’s illegal to sell hand guns to a non-resident: this is the case whether you’re an FFL or at a gun show. So, sorry, no.
I never said that there aren’t other factors, in fact, the factor that seems to correlate most reliably with homicides is poverty.

No, “assault rifles” did no such thing: semi-automatic firearms did that: this is like banning cars with large spoilers because they’re “faster” and “more dangerous”. The real reason you are focusing on this is because it’s easy to get outraged about it due to its high visibility: that fact that you’re so willing to blame an inanimate object while seemingly ignoring the person doing the, you know, actually killing puzzles me.
Do you blame pressure cookers for what happened in Boston? Of course, that would be stupid.

Plus, painting anyone who wants to look at actual data as a monster because, you know, IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN, is reacting emotionally.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 20, 2013 - 9:25 pm

But we’ve seen time and again examples of non-compliance for this type of thing at gun shows.

Yes – poverty is probably the best correlate (relative poverty, to be precise). And yet there seems to be a large overlap between people who really like guns and people who really like policies that will worsen and entrench disparity (I’m looking at you tea party).

The assault rifle he used absolutely made it easier. For a start, the 30 round clip that he used reduced the number of times he had to reload, which in turn reduced the number of opportunities for escape or to confront him. There will always be people who do bad things – I’m not ignoring them, I’m trying to reduce the likelihood of them getting more dangerous weapons so I can reduce the harm they can cause.

You’ve either missed the point of my comment or you’re being disingenuous. Looking at data to see what measures work to reduce harm in society is what we should be doing. Using data in an attempt to minimise the importance of gun massacres on the basis that they’re a miniscule percentage of deaths is sociopathic. When you care more about your unfettered right to own a gun than you do about the deaths of school children, you lack empathy. Other people aren’t being “emotional”, they’re being moral.

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Freedooooom! May 21, 2013 - 5:40 am

Actually, no, we haven’t, that I’m aware of. If we have, please provide a reference to back up this claim.

Agreed. This is a sweeping generalization, but let’s talk about that for a second. Since you’re not actually here in the U.S., I suspect that most of what you’re hearing comes from the liberal leaning media. As someone who interacts with large numbers of shooters on a regular basis, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Typically, shooters favor fiscal responsibility, and smaller government. Opinions on social issues run the gamut.

” Looking at data to see what measures work to reduce harm in society is what we should be doing,” Yes. I absolutely agree with this. I recently created a graph that shows homicides in the UK, frequently held up as a model for gun reform, vs. the US over the past 30 years. The truth is that homicides in the US have dropped dramatically over that time-frame while homicides in the UK actually *increased* after 1997’s gun ban. I would be happy to provide you with all of my data, including sources, if you’d like to investigate this for yourself.
I would also point you to this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/116417/hosb1011.pdf
Take a look at page 42 “Violence against the person offences”.

You seem to have kind of a split brain scenario here: on the one hand, you say that we should look at data, but on the other you criticize me for looking at and using data. Which is it?

I’ll also point out that the worst gun massacre in the US, to date, was committed by someone using pistols with 10 round capacity magazines. Yes, *obviously* a higher capacity magazine allows you to fire more rounds prior to reloading, but reloading is a 1-2 second event. It’s not like we’re loading a black powder revolver here.

Basically, your argument states, “If you care more about X than the lives of school children, look lack empathy.” This effectively says, “Any object used to kill children is open to a ban.” More children died to swimming pools than to so-called “assault rifles”. Should we ban those? Isn’t that the MORAL thing to do? After all, CHILDREN HAVE DIED. WE MUST ACT. It doesn’t matter what freedoms we must give up! SAFETY FIRST!

Also, let’s look at CT and what they did: they voted to put armed police officers in the schools. The very suggestion that the NRA was blasted for. I think that, when you get right down to it, people realize that the most effective way to stop a crazy person intent on harm, is with a firearm.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 21, 2013 - 9:43 pm

I was referring to the media investigations where guns were being sold without checking ID.
This CNN report is the type of thing I’m talking about
http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/10/tonight-on-ac360-gun-show-hidden-camera-investigation/
Here’s an example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baPgr_tw79Q
I didn’t have to look past wikipedia for more problems uncovered by the ATF.

“I suspect that most of what you’re hearing comes from the liberal leaning media.”
If you’re talking about MSNBC, then yes, some. If you’re claiming that the rest of the mainstream media is liberal leaning, then a big red flag just went up. If you really believe that the US media is left leaning, your political compass is off. Media has a sensationalism bias.

“Typically, shooters favor fiscal responsibility, and smaller government. Opinions on social issues run the gamut.”
I’m not talking about social issues, I’m talking about the direct effect of “fiscal responsibility” and “smaller government”. So you’re essentially confirming what I said. It’s not social policy that results in disparity, it’s fiscal policy. Defunding social welfare programmes, restricting healthcare, voodoo economics (trickle down), deficit obsession – none of these are helping disparity – they’re increasing the gap.

From the report you cite:
“Although there was an increase of 24 homicides between 2009/10 and 2010/11, there has been a downward trend in the number of homicides recorded in recent years. These falls have followed a pattern of increasing levels of homicide (at around 2% to 3% a year) from the 1960s through to the end of the twentieth century.”

“if the provisional figure of 642 homicides is confirmed when the final figures from the Homicide Index are published, this would represent a fall of 19 per cent in homicides since 2001/02.”

You claimed that “homicides in the UK actually *increased* after 1997′s “gun ban” which is (technically) factual, but extremely misleading. The spike to which you refer was part of an upward trend that peaked in the early 2000s and has been on the decline since. I’m going to assume you’re aware of effect lag. If you’re attempting to paint an accurate picture of homicides after 97, the truth is that homicides have fallen significantly.

Further, the homicide rate in the UK is 1.2, lower than the OECD average of 2.2 and much lower than the US rate of 4.8.

I think you might want to revisit your thesis.

Again. Data use is fine. Attempting to say something isn’t important because it makes up a small percentage of deaths is a misuse of data. The argument that: “We shouldn’t do anything about these gun massacres because only 0.0028% of deaths are by gun.” Is just an attempt to hide a lack of empathy behind statistics.

Surely a better approach is to look at the problem, see what measures would reduce/prevent/mitigate further harm and then balance the costs and benefits of the two. That’s when you use data.

See this is a fascinating argument. On the one hand, reloading is no big deal, and yet preventing the sale of high capacity clips is too onerous and will stop people protecting themselves (plus “tyranny”). You can’t have it both ways.

No it doesn’t. I haven’t said ban guns outright – we have guns in NZ, they are regulated. So are swimming pools. Children died in swimming pools in NZ, we acted. We brought in a requirement for pools to be fenced and introduced water safety to the school curriculum. That’s how you deal with problems – no-one is suggesting banning guns.

The NRA was blasted for acting like they were going to make a serious contribution to address the problem and then coming out with “Guards in schools, no measures to restrict access to guns.” I’m sure you’re be well aware that CT has done both – limited clip capacity, background checks, extension of assault weapon ban, registry of weapon offenders, legal duties on gun storage, etc… I’m not a fan of the idea of armed guards in schools, but you can understand why parents would be scared.

“I think that, when you get right down to it, people realize that the most effective way to stop a crazy person intent on harm, is with a firearm.”
I think that a better approach is to stop the “crazy person” getting a gun in the first place. Ambulances at the bottom of cliffs are inefficient and ineffective.

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Freedooooom! May 22, 2013 - 2:10 am

Getting too small. Replying out of line.

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SSmith May 20, 2013 - 3:28 pm

It’s taken me a while to read through all the comments 🙂 while I have a personal view on the question of private citizens owning guns, all I wanted to say is I think the writer of the original article that started this whole discussion was correct on the point that it is impossible for two (or more) people with opposing views to debate the question. Much use has been made of data, statistics, polls, research etc to attempt to “prove” one view or the other is the correct view, but these have had no effect, because, in the end, the only correct view about an individual’s view is their own.

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Freedooooom! May 22, 2013 - 3:27 am

In response to the youtube video you linked:
1st gun. The seller asks if he is a resident, asks for his address, and asks his birth date.
2nd gun appears to be a C&R Russian Tokarev. C&R guns do not follow the same rules as modern firearms.
3rd gun. This video has clearly been edited. We have no idea what happened in that time, but you have to wonder since it specifies, “Colin is a Virginia resident.”
4th gun is a Llama. Llama also manufactured many firearms that now fall under curio and relic status. We never see what the gun is, so it’s hard to say.

As for problems “oncovered by the ATF”, you are aware of the whole “Fast and Furious” scandal, yes? Where the ATF was telling FFL’s to sell to what they believed were straw purchasers?

True. Media does have a sensationalism bias. The majority of major media outlets in the U.S. are also left-leaning. Fox news on the other hand, is waaaaaaay right.

This is an interesting statement: “Defunding social welfare programmes, restricting healthcare, voodoo economics (trickle down), deficit obsession – none of these are helping disparity – they’re increasing the gap.”
If we look at U.S. policy in recent years, none of those things have been happening, yet the gap continues to increase.

I have data that goes further back than 1997, check wikipedia for it, if you like.
So, let’s break this down;
“if the provisional figure of 642 homicides is confirmed when the final figures from the Homicide Index are published, this would represent a fall of 19 per cent in homicides since 2001/02.”
Sure, 2001/2002 was the *peak* of the homicide rate in the U.K. The current homicide rate, per capita, has, as of 2010, only just returned to what it was in 1997.

Yes, there was an upward trend that appears to have started in, wait for it… 1997! Am I drawing a correlation between the increase in homicides and the gun ban? No. I’m not. Since, as of 2010, the homicide rate is the same as it was in 1997, you can, at best, say that gun control has had no measurable effect on the homicide rate, to date.
So to be clear here, since 1997 homicides in the UK have not fallen AT ALL and are the same in 2010 as they were in 1997.
If we look at homicides in the U.K. and the U.S. from 1980 to 2010, the U.K. is an overall increase of 18% (1.01 per capita in 1980 vs. 1.23 per capita in 2010), while the U.S. is down just under 54% (10.2 per capita in 1980 vs. 4.7 per capita in 2010).

The homicide rate is irrelevant to this argument: we’re arguing about the effects of “gun control” on homicide rate. Since the U.K. is the most oft-cited reference for “success”, that’s what I chose to compare to.
I will readily agree that the U.S. has “issues” with violence that need to be addressed, but that’s another discussion.

See, no one’s saying, “Do nothing.” We’re just not in agreement about the something that should be done. I’ll address this further down when I respond to your last point. You view guns as the problem, while I view the mentally ill as the problem.

Yes, I agree. My issue is that I don’t see the data supporting gun control as the answer.

No. Reloading is fast, but the issue here in the U.S. is the the government has no right to interfere is this fashion. Remember the soda ban that Bloomberg tried to pass in New York? Same thing.
You’re also ignoring my comment about the 10 rounds mags used. This demonstrates my point, I think.

Fair enough. Interesting to hear that pools are regulated in NZ. I would fully support bringing gun safety into the school curriculum.

So… suggesting the measure that was actually implemented wasn’t a serious contribution? CT already had all of that in place prior to the Lanza incident. Did it stop him from murdering his mother and taking her guns? No.
Also, do you think armed guards in schools will be ineffective?
As a side note here, I’m vastly in favor of government sponsored gun safety courses that include a module on proper firearms storage.

Ah. Yes. Crazy people. Herein, I believe, lies the crux of the issue: the state of mental heath care in the U.S. It’s not in a very good place right now and that is, imo, what needs to change. We need to remove the stigma of seeking mental help and find a way to report and follow-up on those that need help. To be clear, the U.S. needs to fix our mental health system.
As a side note, on the ATF form 4 (https://www.atf.gov/files/forms/download/atf-f-5320-4.pdf) there is a question that states: Been adjudicated mentally defective or been committed to a mental institution?
If you answer this in the affirmative, you are denied the ability to purchase a firearm. The problem, of course, being data: e.g. the government doesn’t necessarily have this data available to confirm.

I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this topic with me. Please forgive any typos or grammar errors in my response.

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Freedooooom! May 22, 2013 - 3:41 am

Oh, one more thing: yes, I am familiar with effect lag, specifically in an economics sense. I cannot find any data on effect lag for something like firearms legislation, but the outside of effect lag for economic policy is typically 1-2 years.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 23, 2013 - 4:36 am

Sorry – I don’t think I understood your response to the youtube video. Are you suggesting that the footage was doctored to mislead?
In none of the four situations was ID required by the seller. If there are loopholes for curios and relics, then the loophole is even bigger, which makes the problem worse.

I’m not sure what your point is about the ATF either? Are you suggesting that “Wide Receiver/Fast and Furious” invalidates any information from the ATF?

“The majority of major media outlets in the U.S. are also left-leaning. Fox news on the other hand, is waaaaaaay right.”
Well you’re certainly correct about Fox, but only in a political environment where people regularly call Obama a “communist” can you define the mainstream media as left leaning. The problem is the fact that the political discourse (particularly in the US) has drifted so far to the right, that people see centrism as far to the left, and anything left wing as “looney” left. Take a look at the political compass for a more balanced view of where your politicians lie.
http://www.politicalcompass.org/index
It’s worth doing to see where you sit as well.

The problems arise when you set up a false conflation of Democrats = Left / Republicans = Right. They’re both right, which might explain why it seems like the media leans left. If you incorrectly believe that the centre is halfway between Democratic and Republican talking points, you’re failing to realise that left and right aren’t measures of where Ideas are in relation to public attitudes, they’re measures of where ideas sit in relation to an objective model. It’s a pet peeve of mine that all sorts of debates get distorted by false balance of this kind.

On homicide rates – this is a better report (key graph pg 13): https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/116512/hosb0111.pdf
The trend doesn’t start in 2001/02, the upward trend goes as far back as 1960 on this graph. There is an upward tick, but that’s clearly explained by the deaths of 172 of Harold Shipman’s victims (they actually died over a period of 30 years – he’s believed to have killed around 250) all being coded in that year – the tick is a statistical artifact.

So what we’re actually seeing is an upward trend that appears to end somewhere around the early 2000s. I’m not trying to claim that the gun ban is responsible, but the factor that’s more important to policy makers is the reversal of the trend.

On Effect Lag – there will always be a gap between a policy change and when we can begin to see the effects. With monetary policy, changes can be quite quick. Other policy changes can take much longer to take effect (i.e. with anything to do with primary education, you’re unlikely to be able to quantify the more important effects – higher education, employment – for at least a decade or more). I suspect it takes a while to get guns out of circulation.

“So to be clear here, since 1997 homicides in the UK have not fallen AT ALL and are the same in 2010 as they were in 1997.”
Except they have fallen since their peak, and what we also see is the apparent reversal of the upward trend for the homicide rate. To point out the absurdity of your point, if I describe a hypothetical data set (let’s say assaults) that starts at 10 in year 1950, peaks at 100 in 1980 and then returns to 10 in 2010, by your approach, you could claim that assaults have not fallen at all, but I’m sure we can agree that such a contention would be farcical. We must make allowances for statistical noise, and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions too early, and it could be that the apparent reversal of the trend is just coincidence, or a collection of lucky years, or something else… But 8 years of year-on-year reductions (at least) suggests a pretty solid trend to me.

“If we look at homicides in the U.K. and the U.S. from 1980 to 2010, the U.K. is an overall increase of 18% (1.01 per capita in 1980 vs. 1.23 per capita in 2010), while the U.S. is down just under 54% (10.2 per capita in 1980 vs. 4.7 per capita in 2010).”

You’re talking about an increase in small numbers versus a decrease in significantly larger numbers. Comparison of those percentage changes is misleading at best. We’re talking about a country with ten times the homicides per capita of the other – are you surprised that there was room to move? When it comes to crime, and the difference you can make, there are bound to be multiple cases of diminishing returns.

“The homicide rate is irrelevant to this argument: we’re arguing about the effects of “gun control” on homicide rate. ”
How is it irrelevant? Guns are the most efficient (privately owned) tools we have for killing people. Why does it surprise you that a reduction in the supply of guns makes it harder for bad people to kill?
More importantly, this entire segue was in rebuttal of your claim that homicides increased – which I don’t think you can, in good conscience, claim anymore.

They’re saying “do nothing that would have any impact on guns”. That’s not participating in the conversation. I can name one country that clearly prevented gun massacres via gun control (Australia), one that reduced its homicide rate after introducing gun control (UK – note I’m only talking about correlation in this case), and another with very low gun ownership and a comparatively low homicide rate.

Perhaps even more telling is the international picture of the relationship between gun ownership and homicide. This study shows a strong correlation between gun ownership and homicide (with a high level of statistical significance).
http://www.psmag.com/culture/the-correlation-between-gun-ownership-and-homicide-rate-55467/
And here are some more studies showing a link between the two:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/dranove/htm/Dranove/coursepages/Mgmt%20469/guns.pdf

That would seem to be some pretty strong evidence that at least part of the problem is gun ownership. Wouldn’t it?

And there’s the problem. If you aren’t prepared to engage with all of the potential policy positions, no-one’s going to take you seriously as someone who actually wants to solve the problem. To your credit, this has been a far more productive conversation than the earlier ones with those who can’t get past the idea of rights being anything less than absolute.

“No. Reloading is fast, but the issue here in the U.S. is the the government has no right to interfere is this fashion. ”
Again – this is my point. From the start. You have an archaic provision in your constitution that’s been distorted by a partisan Supreme Court and is treated as something that cannot be challenged. The whole thing is a tautology. It’s in the Constitution because it’s an absolute right, and it’s an absolute right because it’s in the Constitution. I’m not surprised that people who’ve been brought up to believe that gun ownership is an absolute right struggle when someone questions this, and points out that it’s not treated this way elsewhere, and that those countries are less violent (and more importantly, less fatally violent), but we have to push past the cognitive static (and the anger, so much anger – though not on your part).

I note your point about the most fatal shooting being perpetrated with a 10 round mag – for me, clip reductions are a compromise. I don’t really think saying “you can also kill lots of people with a 10 round mag too” is much of an argument against reducing clip sizes – it’s like saying that we shouldn’t ban RPGs because “you can kill lots of people with an AR-15.”

I wouldn’t support bringing gun safety into the curriculum – unless it’s “here’s a gun – if you see one, don’t touch it and call an adult.” You aren’t suggesting kids should be using guns are you?

No – I’m saying that they had an opportunity to be a part of the solution, but refused to put any skin in the game. I don’t think armed guards will be effective (this article sums up why they’re both a bad idea and not very effective – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/21/nra-armed-guards-schools)

CT just passed the additional gun measures – how were they in place before they passed them?

In NZ, we have very strict rules about firearms – including the requirement to keep weapons and ammo locked away separately: http://www.police.govt.nz/service/firearms .
Makes it quite hard to steal your mother’s gun.

You’ve talked about two “solutions” to the problem. I agree with fixing the mental health system, but both of your solutions are very expensive. This seems to be a trend with fiscal connservatives – they want to cut taxes and spend money, as long as it’s a programme they approve of. The armed guard solution has a lower limit estimate of approx $4billion – where are you going to get money for that?

I absolutely agree that mental health needs to be fixed, but it’s just another symptom of the bizarre american attitude to healthcare. Forgive me if I don’t put much faith in a party who has tried to repeal Obamacare (a Republican invention) 40 times to fix mental health services.

It’s a little hard to collect information when the ATF has been blocked from appointing a permanent head for the last six years. Add to that attempts by republican congressmen to stop the census bureau from collecting information and you have an environment that says “these guys aren’t really interested in fixing the problem”.

The reality is, you can’t advocate small government and tax cuts, and then complain about how mental health services aren’t working properly. There’s another correlation here, and it’s to do with funding. The problem with being able to drown government in a bathtub, is that it might actually die (or at least stop functioning).

And I am keen to see your doctoral dissertation when you complete it.

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J May 23, 2013 - 5:27 am

In response to Lobby Lud’s comment here: http://ruminator.co.nz/defending-the-2nd-amendment/#comment-508

In reference to the AJPH study described in your first link, did you actually read the study, or just the text at the link? Let’s take a closer look at that study. First of all, it only measures the likelihood of Philadelphia residents being shot when they have a firearm in an assault. If Philadelphia was representative of violent crime in the United States this could have been useful in validating your feelings. However, Philadelphia “enjoyed” a violent crime rate more than double that of the national average for the four years of the study. In other words, it is hardly representative of the United States as a whole so, even if the study were otherwise valid, it would be of limited value in making statements concerning the whole population.

The control for the study sucks; “To identify the controls, trained phone canvassers called random Philadelphians soon after a reported shooting and asked about their possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. These random Philadelphians had not been shot and had nothing to do with the shooting.” How is that a valid control? Telephone polling is of very limited value because you aren’t actually sampling a total population. Rather, you are sampling the population of landline users (a population that decreased 7% over the course of the study with no controls built into the study for that) willing to discuss private matters over the phone during supper with strangers. In addition, some people are unwilling to be honest about certain things over the phone; firearms are widely acknowledged to be one of those subjects. That is, by the way, one of the inherent flaws in the count of homes with firearms in the United States. But we’ll get to that later.

The researchers operationalized their theory with this laughable assumption, “We assumed that the resident population of Philadelphia risked being shot in an assault at any location and at any time of day or night. This is an acceptable assumption because guns are mobile, potentially concealable items and the bullets they fire can pass through obstacles and travel long distances. Any member of the general population has the potential to be exposed to guns and the bullets they discharge regardless of where they are or what they are doing.” Are there places in New Zealand where it is relatively safe during the day but not at night? Are there bad neighborhoods in New Zealand? We both know the answer to both of those questions is yes, of course. For the purposes of this study we are to assume that Philadelphia has no bad neighborhoods and that walking around at night is as safe as walking around during the day? The third sentence is especially ridiculous. Guess who generally gets shot. Would you be surprised to learn that criminals are far more likely to be shot than the law abiding? In this study, 53% of those shot had prior arrest records. The study does not control for whether the shooter or the shootee legally possessed their firearm nor whether the person shot was committing a crime at the time. I have seen varying studies so I cannot give an exact percentage but, in the United States, commission of a crime is a great way to become a gunshot statistic. The study notes that it did not take into account “any prior or regular training with guns [as] a potentially important confounding variable” readily admitting that their “inclusion could have affected our findings.” So they have no idea whether the people carrying a gun when they got shot were actually trained to use that firearm nor whether they had any self-defense training. As a combat veteran that regularly attends training and goes to the range would you feel comfortable assuming that I am just as likely to get shot while carrying my firearm as someone with no training?

Let me summarize. This study basically says that from 2003 to 2006 residents of a single urban area with a violent crime rate more than twice the national average, regardless of the relative safety of the location or time of day, are far more likely to get shot and it really doesn’t matter whether they were legally carrying, trained to use that firearm, in the commission of a crime themselves and were felons.

So, yes/no question. Do you think that article supports your feeling that carrying a gun makes it more likely that you will get shot?

There are several studies at your second link. In order…
“Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths” comes to the not so startling conclusion that there are more accidental deaths in states with more guns. Importantly, the same is true of swimming pools for drowning. Did you know more children are killed in the accidental deployment of airbags in cars equipped with air bags than cars that are not? I imagine the incidence of hypothermia is rather higher in the north of the United States than in the south because that’s where it is much colder. Household gun ownership is a crude, at best, measure because it does not control for potentially confounding factors such as the number of people in the household, the number of guns in the household, the caliber of the firearms, the type of firearms, how the guns were stored or the general level of familiarity/training with firearms in the household. Also, it suffers from the same survey/poll based methodological flaw noted above. The study, notably, does not provide a ratio of accidental deaths to deaths prevented by the presence of a firearm (such as during a break-in, violent assault or unreported DGU) because there is no plausible way to estimate them.
“Firearm storage practices and rates of unintentional firearm deaths in the United States” finds that leaving firearms loaded and stored improperly correlates with an increased likelihood of accidental shootings. No argument there. That is why most manufacturers include a gun lock with new firearms purchases and I am all for the proper storage of firearms.
“Unintentional firearm deaths: a comparison of other-inflicted and self-inflicted shootings” finds that youth (though defining 18-24 year olds as youth is not only suspect but a common ploy used by researchers that can’t get the numbers to do what they want them to do) are generally shot by someone their own age that is a friend or family member. Doesn’t that make sense given that most of us spend the preponderance of our time around people we know or family members? The study also finds that older adults are far less likely to be victims of unintentional firearm deaths. There are already age restrictions on firearms in most states so how, exactly, would more laws prevent those sorts of unintentional shootings?

None of your articles support your feelings. Care to try again?

I have considered the effect of gun control laws in other countries but I don’t see how that is germane to this discussion. It is very difficult to compare countries on a 1:1 basis when it comes to gun control laws for a variety of reasons. Violent crime is measured differently in many countries. In Great Britain violent crime rates are actually “cleared” violent crime rates meaning that the crimes don’t get counted unless the perpetrator is found and convicted in a court of law. Comparisons between GB and places that calculate their violent crime rate differently would fall somewhere between misleading and meaningless. Australia is not a good example. Australians never had a constitutional right to own the types of firearms banned in 1997. Firearm ownership was far less common there than in the United States so even using a time series comparison and then trying to extrapolate the efficacy of similar gun control laws in America would be statistically meaningless. How would you want me to define “spectacular results”? 1%? 10%? 150%? By the way, that gun buyback netted about 640,000 guns leaving an estimated 6million in the hands of Australians. How do you account for that? For giggles, shall we discuss Sweden, where a large percentage of homes have an actual assault rifle with ammunition yet enjoys some of the lowest crime rates in the world? Shall we discuss Venezuela, where guns are effectively outlawed but suffers one of the highest violent crime rates in the world? I acknowledge that some countries have had success in reducing violent crime and also have draconian gun control laws. Establishing that sort of causal relationship when comparing country to country is problematic.

Fair enough, our mutually exclusive anecdotes only describe our own personal experiences. And, to be fair, I have yet to visit New Zealand… though I did live in Scotland in the ’80s and Glasgow was definitely the sort of place where I would prefer to be armed.
I’m so glad you brought up that JAMA article as it is one of the articles I’ve researched extensively for my dissertation. It was funded by the Joyce Foundation and uses data developed by the Brady Center. So, yeah, no bias there I’m sure. The “legislative strength score” is utter crap. It purportedly measure the relative strength of firearms laws at the state level. The score was determined by the Brady Center staffers that score various legislation based on how they think it impacts gun violence. Do you think that people who work for the Brady Center can be relied upon to develop unbiased legislative scores? The score, 0-28, scores Utah as a 0 and California as a 24 yet Utah and California had roughly the same rate of firearm-related fatalities. So, two states that have vastly different gun laws had the same rate. That sort of methodological flaw is notable. The study measures firearm-related fatalities from 2007-2010. The short timeframe is interesting and a regression analysis I ran on STATA using their data (well, what I could glean, their data are not available) does support their hypothesis. However, when I ran that same data through STATA but included a wider timeframe of 1990-2011, those years were anomalous. Feel free to repeat my time series regression analysis using STATA. Too, the study lumps suicides, homicides and justifiable homicides together. That is fairly common in gun control studies but is, again, problematic. I have yet to see any evidence indicating that people intent on suicide will not commit suicide if they can’t get a firearm. Since you like to compare countries, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world (even though they are underreported by a large margin) while simultaneously having one of the lowest firearms ownership rates in the world. Still think suicides should be included? So, again, your citation leaves much to be desired.

I’m well aware of the name of my country but thanks for the condescension anyway. Regardless, the matter of states is immaterial as you yourself call for federal regulation. If you want to talk about states then name some and we’ll talk about them.
“Has the Supreme Court found [my state’s laws concerning the concealed carry of firearms] to be unconstitutional, or is that just your opinion?” So the Supreme Court must find a law unconstitutional for it to be unconstitutional? I imagine there are a few African-Americas that would take issue with that perspective as every American purportedly enjoys the same rights yet their race was denied many of those rights for much of America’s history. The same is true for women and suffrage. Gay people are unconstitutionally denied the right to marry to this day. I do not know what your opinion on gay marriage is but would you be comfortable saying that laws forbidding homosexuals from marrying are constitutional just because SCOTUS hasn’t issued rulings related to them yet?

“It’s fascinating how there are suddenly so many constitutional scholars in the US all of a sudden, who, when questioned, turn out to be no more than tea party talking point parrots (I’m not suggesting you are one of those).” How do you plan on quantifying that? Can we agree that it is every bit as anecdotal as your experiences noted above?

“Really? Far more robust? I remember getting a drivers license being a fairly long and drawn out process, with multiple requirements to test both knowledge and competence. I also seem to be aware of significant enforcement of rules – with serious penalties if you use a car in any way that could be described as a “missile.” Maybe things are different in the states.” Yes, far more robust. In order to get a driver’s license at the age of 16 I had to take a class provided for free at my high school, demonstrate proficiency in piloting a vehicle through a practical and written exam and pay a $10 fee for the license. Since then I have had only to regularly prove that I have acceptable corrected vision and I can drive any car I want on any public road I can find. In order to get my toter’s permit, I had to wait until I was 21 (though a three year veteran of our armed forces by then and qualified to use pistols, assault rifles, machine guns and grenades), take a class that cost me $200, demonstrate proficiency with a firearm through both written and practical exams, submit proof of that training to a county Sheriff (who had the legal authority to deny my application at his discretion and with no means of appeal) along with a check for some amount in excess of $100 (I honestly cannot remember the exact amount) and another check to the state Attorney General for an amount closer to $50, wait while they conducted a background check on me (though I had a Secret security clearance issued by the Federal government at that point) and then proceed to pay another fee to get the actual license once it was all approved. At that point I had to apply for a permit to own a specific firearm. Once approved, I took that approval to a gun store where I filled out a Form 4473, endured another background check and was finally permitted to buy a firearm and carry it. But, wait, there’s more. That permit was only valid in a few other states. I could not carry in places where the owner decided I could not, including a long list of allegedly public land. There were (and are) some states where I could not carry at all. I also have to renew that permit every few years and pay the fees again.
As to the penalties portion of the above quote, the penalties for accidentally killing someone with a firearm are far worse than those for doing exactly the same thing with a firearm. Drunk drivers routinely continue to legally drive after killing someone. Try getting a concealed carry permit with a negligent homicide or manslaughter conviction on your record. If I park my car illegally I get a municipal ticket. If I carry my pistol in the wrong place and get caught I face jail time, hefty fines and will likely lose the right to even own a firearm for the rest of my life as well as find most professions cut off as due diligence would reveal my federal firearms conviction.

You are not my research assistant and I daresay that that is just as well as your citations have left much to be desired so far. At least you’re consistent… did you really reference a Salon article called “NRA misleads on assault weapons” and subtitled “Don’t believe the NRA spin: The ’94 assault weapons ban was full of loopholes, but studies prove it was effective”? You can smell the bias from New Zealand I’ll bet. Assault pistols? Way to move the goal posts Salon, noted font of knowledge regularly cited in academic papers by no scientists ever. You see, the term “assault weapon” is arbitrary at best and often refers to cosmetic features. How does a collapsible stock make a rifle more deadly? How does a bayonet lug make a rifle more deadly? How does a barrel shroud make a rifle more deadly? These are all banned features of Dianne Feinstein’s definition of “assault weapon” but, again, are just cosmetic features.

“Here’s the reality. I come from a country where there aren’t many guns, where people are much safer.” Is your contention that the only reason that New Zealanders are much safer just because there aren’t that many guns there?

“The US has a long way to go to address its gun issue.” Operating under the assumption that the US has a “gun issue” you’ve expressed an opinion/feeling and one that you have yet to substantiate.

“Sadly, the ultimate outcome of your “guns for self defence [sic] reduces crime” is that everyone is tooled up.” I do not believe that everyone should have a firearm. Some people have demonstrated that they are not to be trusted with firearms though I would submit that those too dangerous to own a firearm are too dangerous to be out of prison. There are times and places where I feel perfectly safe without a firearm.

“Forgive me for thinking that’s a terrible idea.” Sure, I forgive you, though I’m not sure what’s to be forgiven since you live there and will never influence our legislative processes.
“Assault rifles with high capacity clips make it really easy to kill people – we’ve seen that demonstrated on numerous occasions.” You’ve demonstrated your ignorance. There is no such thing as an assault rifle that fires from a clip. The largest capacity clip I’ve ever seen held 10 rounds. Shall we assume that you meant magazine? Let’s do that and but you tell me what constitutes “high capacity” so we can approach this from the same place. Can you tell me how many crimes were committed with assault rifles in the US since, well, they were invented? It’s an astonishingly small percentage and the data simply do not support your belief.

“You certainly wouldn’t carry [an assault rifle] around with you (Unless you’re one of those muppets who like to look tough by wearing their rifle to Walmart).” I don’t shop at Walmart so I cannot comment on the preferred firearm while shopping there. I don’t think carrying a rifle makes you look all that tough either. In my day to day life I would not carry an assault rifle around but that’s because even when I did I chose to keep my rifle on “semi”.
“So how do they provide any kind of self defence benefit (The zombie apocalypse hasn’t begun yet).” I personally believe that assault rifles are of limited utility in most defensive engagements but that’s because it’s difficult to land well-aimed shots with a rifle on auto and they tend to waste ammo. But, I imagine that you’re conflating imaginary assault weapons with assault rifles so we are probably not talking about the same thing. Zombies are the stuff of movies but multiple home invaders are not. The LA riots definitely happened. And, to be fair, Newtown happened too but the fact remains that I have never committed a crime with a firearm and will not be denied my right of self-defense because some crazy asshat shot his mother in the face, stole her rifle and pistols and then murdered 26 more people.

“ What’s more important is the number of households with guns, which has dropped from 50% in the 70s, to mid thirties now.” Citation?

“What we’re talking about is a smaller group of people who each own a shedload of guns.” Shedload hardly sounds polemic to me at all. Could you try harder to by hysterical?
“What’s the correct ratio? It’s not really the point is it?” Yes, it is the point. That’s why I asked. The question stands. You can chose to ignore it or you can tell me what that magic ratio is.

“ If you have a country where people don’t carry guns around, where gun ownership isn’t widespread, it’s much harder for criminals to get their hands on guns.” That is most likely true but there is no way to unring that bell in the United States. We’ve got a large number of guns and short of a gun grab that would almost certainly result in rebellion or civil war we’re not going to get to the number of guns necessary to parallel the utopic violence free life you enjoy in New Zealand.

To recap, you cited a bunch of terrible studies and even worse websites, made a bunch of baseless statements regarding your feelings and opinions and demonstrated remarkable ignorance with reference to firearms. Why should any American listen to your policy prescriptions?

Reply
Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 28, 2013 - 3:11 am

You’ve pointed out some problems with one study. Except I keep finding more that support my position… You can refer to my later post if you wish.

“There are several studies at your second link. In order…
“Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths” comes to the not so startling conclusion that there are more accidental deaths in states with more guns. ”

Bingo. And here’s my point, we do things to regulate swimming pools, or car seats… so why not guns?

“Household gun ownership is a crude, at best, measure because it does not control for potentially confounding factors such as the number of people in the household, the number of guns in the household, the caliber of the firearms, the type of firearms, how the guns were stored or the general level of familiarity/training with firearms in the household. Also, it suffers from the same survey/poll based methodological flaw noted above. The study, notably, does not provide a ratio of accidental deaths to deaths prevented by the presence of a firearm (such as during a break-in, violent assault or unreported DGU) because there is no plausible way to estimate them.”

Which doesn’t help your cause. You don’t get off the hook when a kid finds a gun a shots him/herself, or another member of the family.

““Firearm storage practices and rates of unintentional firearm deaths in the United States” finds that leaving firearms loaded and stored improperly correlates with an increased likelihood of accidental shootings. No argument there. That is why most manufacturers include a gun lock with new firearms purchases and I am all for the proper storage of firearms.”

And regulation thereof?

““Unintentional firearm deaths: a comparison of other-inflicted and self-inflicted shootings” finds that youth (though defining 18-24 year olds as youth is not only suspect but a common ploy used by researchers that can’t get the numbers to do what they want them to do) are generally shot by someone their own age that is a friend or family member. Doesn’t that make sense given that most of us spend the preponderance of our time around people we know or family members? The study also finds that older adults are far less likely to be victims of unintentional firearm deaths. There are already age restrictions on firearms in most states so how, exactly, would more laws prevent those sorts of unintentional shootings?”

Fewer guns. There’s a theme here. It should be obvious by now.

None of your articles support your feelings. Care to try again?

Lovely. “feelings.” I can assure you I’m one of the least likely people to succumb to feelings in an argument. You may wish to dismiss empathy as “feelings”, I’m prepared to accept that empathy is a fundamental to morality, without which we can’t make decisions about right or wrong.

PlusYou could read the later posts…

“I have considered the effect of gun control laws in other countries but I don’t see how that is germane to this discussion.”

Which is simply myopic. You really don’t see how you could learn from other countries?

It is very difficult to compare countries on a 1:1 basis when it comes to gun control laws for a variety of reasons. Violent crime is measured differently in many countries. In Great Britain violent crime rates are actually “cleared” violent crime rates meaning that the crimes don’t get counted unless the perpetrator is found and convicted in a court of law. Comparisons between GB and places that calculate their violent crime rate differently would fall somewhere between misleading and meaningless.

Which is why we’re talking about homicide rates – which have a very low dark figure. You’ll note that’s where I’ve focused all along for that very reason. Problem solved.

“Australia is not a good example. Australians never had a constitutional right to own the types of firearms banned in 1997.”

Yeah. That’s kinda my point. You did read the original article right? The obsession with a constitutional right is the problem. What you’re actually saying is that you can’t implement a proven solution to gun massacres because you’ve grown up being told that gun ownership is a right. You can’t see a problem there?

“Firearm ownership was far less common there than in the United States so even using a time series comparison and then trying to extrapolate the efficacy of similar gun control laws in America would be statistically meaningless.”

For someone who’s studying the impact of gun control laws on violence rates in America, you seem reluctant to actually look at situations where gun control has been successful. I don’t really understand the point of a dissertation if you aren’t interested in reducing crime…

“How would you want me to define “spectacular results”? 1%? 10%? 150%?

“Researchers at Harvard University in 2011 revealed that in the 18 years prior to the 1996 Australian laws, there were 13 gun massacres (four or more fatalities) in Australia, resulting in 102 deaths. There have been none in that category since the Port Arthur laws.”
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/files/2013/01/bulletins_australia_spring_2011.pdf

By the way, that gun buyback netted about 640,000 guns leaving an estimated 6million in the hands of Australians. How do you account for that?”

How do I account for that? Money well spent.

“For giggles, shall we discuss Sweden, where a large percentage of homes have an actual assault rifle with ammunition yet enjoys some of the lowest crime rates in the world?”

Sure – when you accept that these stats might have something to do with the fact that gun owners need licenses that are obtained from the police. Oh, and to apply “one must either be a member in an approved shooting club for at least six months or pass a hunting examination.” Wikipedia

“Shall we discuss Venezuela, where guns are effectively outlawed but suffers one of the highest violent crime rates in the world?”

You don’t think there might be other issues at play there? There’s a reason why we use the OECD as a comparator. I’m sure you understand why this is.

“I acknowledge that some countries have had success in reducing violent crime and also have draconian gun control laws. Establishing that sort of causal relationship when comparing country to country is problematic.”

You really need to look up the definition of “draconian”. Unless you think that requiring someone to obtain a driver license to drive a car is “draconian”, you can’t make that claim about a gun.

“Fair enough, our mutually exclusive anecdotes only describe our own personal experiences. And, to be fair, I have yet to visit New Zealand… though I did live in Scotland in the ’80s and Glasgow was definitely the sort of place where I would prefer to be armed.”

Congratulations for choosing one of the most dangerous places in the UK (particularly in the 80s).

“I’m so glad you brought up that JAMA article as it is one of the articles I’ve researched extensively for my dissertation. It was funded by the Joyce Foundation and uses data developed by the Brady Center. So, yeah, no bias there I’m sure. The “legislative strength score” is utter crap. It purportedly measure the relative strength of firearms laws at the state level. The score was determined by the Brady Center staffers that score various legislation based on how they think it impacts gun violence. Do you think that people who work for the Brady Center can be relied upon to develop unbiased legislative scores?”

You’re an academic (or at least one in training). You know that peer review doesn’t work by saying “they’re biased.” It’s pretty clear you too are biased, but i trust that your PhD won’t be judged by ad hominem. Or should I be able to dismiss your findings because it’s clear you’ve already made up your mind? Didn’t think so.

“The score, 0-28, scores Utah as a 0 and California as a 24 yet Utah and California had roughly the same rate of firearm-related fatalities. So, two states that have vastly different gun laws had the same rate. That sort of methodological flaw is notable.”

That’s not a methodological flaw, that’s a data point. As a PhD candidate, I’d expect you to understand statistical noise. It’s an attempt to measure the effect of gun control – I’m genuinely fascinated to see how you’ve elected to separate different elements in your methodology.

“I’m well aware of the name of my country but thanks for the condescension anyway. Regardless, the matter of states is immaterial as you yourself call for federal regulation. If you want to talk about states then name some and we’ll talk about them.”

You missed the point here. I’m asking about which state so I can judge the regulation that particular state has in place. You raised the question, but didn’t give me enough information to evaluate.

“Has the Supreme Court found [my state’s laws concerning the concealed carry of firearms] to be unconstitutional, or is that just your opinion?” So the Supreme Court must find a law unconstitutional for it to be unconstitutional?

Nice attempt to derail. I’m simply asking you how you’re sure it’s unconstitutional? It would appear that we agree on the rest of your examples civil rights, suffrage, gay rights, but I’m not suggesting things require a ruling by the SCOTUS, I’m just asking you how you can be sure that any type of regulation is unconstitutional? Is the ban on fully automatic weapons unconstitutional?

““It’s fascinating how there are suddenly so many constitutional scholars in the US all of a sudden, who, when questioned, turn out to be no more than tea party talking point parrots (I’m not suggesting you are one of those).” How do you plan on quantifying that? Can we agree that it is every bit as anecdotal as your experiences noted above?”

We can point to the number of tea party organisations who claim to be set up for the purpose of “educating” americans about the Constitution. For a start.

Can I or can I not go to a gun show and buy a gun without a background check?

““Here’s the reality. I come from a country where there aren’t many guns, where people are much safer.” Is your contention that the only reason that New Zealanders are much safer just because there aren’t that many guns there?”

I’d say it’s a pretty big factor. Unless you think it’s something else?

“The US has a long way to go to address its gun issue.” Operating under the assumption that the US has a “gun issue” you’ve expressed an opinion/feeling and one that you have yet to substantiate.

You have a very high homicide rate for the OECD and one of the highest gun-homicide rates. I’d say that’s a problem. Plus there seems to be significant links between gun ownership and homicide (and suicide):
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1485564/pdf/cmaj00266-0071.pdf
http://www.psmag.com/culture/the-correlation-between-gun-ownership-and-homicide-rate-55467/

“Sadly, the ultimate outcome of your “guns for self defence [sic] reduces crime” is that everyone is tooled up.”

What’s with the [sic]? If I recall correctly, I currently live in the country that invented the language – The fact that Americans decided they wanted to spell things differently doesn’t make the original (and current) spelling wrong.

“I do not believe that everyone should have a firearm. Some people have demonstrated that they are not to be trusted with firearms though I would submit that those too dangerous to own a firearm are too dangerous to be out of prison. There are times and places where I feel perfectly safe without a firearm.”

Except you oppose measures which would help reduce the number of guns in the hands of the unsuitable. “By their deeds…”

““Forgive me for thinking that’s a terrible idea.” Sure, I forgive you, though I’m not sure what’s to be forgiven since you live there and will never influence our legislative processes.”

And there it is again. “You don’t live here so you don’t have a say.” So much for your love of the constitution…

““Assault rifles with high capacity clips make it really easy to kill people – we’ve seen that demonstrated on numerous occasions.” You’ve demonstrated your ignorance. There is no such thing as an assault rifle that fires from a clip. The largest capacity clip I’ve ever seen held 10 rounds. Shall we assume that you meant magazine?”

If we can assume you’re a pedant. It’s the thing that holds the bullets – where you at any point confused about the subject of my concern?

“Let’s do that and but you tell me what constitutes “high capacity” so we can approach this from the same place. Can you tell me how many crimes were committed with assault rifles in the US since, well, they were invented? It’s an astonishingly small percentage and the data simply do not support your belief.”

Let’s start with 30 rounds (Sandy Hook). Again with the percentage argument – stop trying to minimise. Can you tell me why anyone needs a 30 round magazine?

““So how do they provide any kind of self defence benefit (The zombie apocalypse hasn’t begun yet).” I personally believe that assault rifles are of limited utility in most defensive engagements but that’s because it’s difficult to land well-aimed shots with a rifle on auto and they tend to waste ammo. ”

So why do they need to be legal? If they’re of limited use, what’s the harm in banning them?

“But, I imagine that you’re conflating imaginary assault weapons with assault rifles so we are probably not talking about the same thing. Zombies are the stuff of movies but multiple home invaders are not.”

So you need to be able to own an assault weapon to protect yourself from multiple home invaders?

“The LA riots definitely happened.”

And? You needed a high capacity magazine to protect yourself in the LA riots? Would you have opened fire in a busy street?

“And, to be fair, Newtown happened too but the fact remains that I have never committed a crime with a firearm and will not be denied my right of self-defense because some crazy asshat shot his mother in the face, stole her rifle and pistols and then murdered 26 more people.”

And here’s the problem. We deal with self defence through proportionality. If you were to pull a gun in NZ because you felt threatened, you’d struggle to argue self defence. And as for “stand your ground” laws, why would anyone want to encourage vigilantism?

““ What’s more important is the number of households with guns, which has dropped from 50% in the 70s, to mid thirties now.” Citation?”

General social survey:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/us/rate-of-gun-ownership-is-down-survey-shows.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

“What we’re talking about is a smaller group of people who each own a shedload of guns.” Shedload hardly sounds polemic to me at all. Could you try harder to by hysterical?

Shedload is UK vernacular. It’s more polite than the NZ version. It’s not hysterical to point out that if the number of guns owned is up, and the number of households with guns is down, that means more guns owned by fewer people. If you aren’t aware of these two factors, I’m not sure how your PhD can’t be seriously lacking.

“What’s the correct ratio? It’s not really the point is it?” Yes, it is the point. That’s why I asked. The question stands. You can chose to ignore it or you can tell me what that magic ratio is.

And once again, you’re imputing that there’s some “magic” to a ratio. When you construct a strawman, and get called on it, you can’t keep beating up on the strawman.

““ If you have a country where people don’t carry guns around, where gun ownership isn’t widespread, it’s much harder for criminals to get their hands on guns.” That is most likely true but there is no way to unring that bell in the United States. We’ve got a large number of guns and short of a gun grab that would almost certainly result in rebellion or civil war we’re not going to get to the number of guns necessary to parallel the utopic violence free life you enjoy in New Zealand.”

And another classic. We can’t do anything because we have lots of guns. Well it worked in Oz. And here you point out the insanity. You actually think that it would be sane to see a civil war if gun ownership was restricted.

“To recap, you cited a bunch of terrible studies and even worse websites,”

Terrible studies that seem to be cited numerous times by academics. I guess we can look forward to yours getting the same treatment. I look forward to reading it.

“made a bunch of baseless statements regarding your feelings and opinions and demonstrated remarkable ignorance with reference to firearms. Why should any American listen to your policy prescriptions?”

Remarkable ignorance? Because I used the wrong word for a “bullet holder”? That kind of rubbish only works in the gun fetish community.

The reality is that the US has a disproportionately high homicide rate and a very high rate of gun violence. If you don’t see that as a problem, I question your ability to identify any sort of problem. The reality is that plenty of Americans do see a problem, and that many are outraged at the way the gun debate has been shut down by vested interests. I’m just pointing out that other countries do it better. If you want to ignore that, fine, but don’t expect anyone outside of the american gun-osphere to take you seriously.

And that’s about enough on this, because I’m lucky enough to live in a place that fetishises gun ownership.

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Freedooooom! May 23, 2013 - 10:08 am

I’m not suggesting the footage was doctored, per se, to mislead, just that as an example of, “Here’s me buying firearms without ID.” at least two of those are questionable because they were transactions where no ID is legally required (the C&R sale and potential C&R sale). e.g. You’re not demonstrating the ease of doing something when the something you’re doing doesn’t require it. This would be like going to an ice cream stand and saying, “Look how easy it is to buy ice cream without an ID!”
Of the remaining two, one is clearly cut to edit out… something and the other one shows the seller at least attempting to ascertain if the sale is in-state by asking address and age info.
Whether or not you agree with the law is irrelevant, in this case and the C&R rule is in place because you’re, effectively, buying antiques: they are still functional, however.

I should have asked you for a source of your “problems uncovered by the ATF” comment, instead. My point was that the ATF, at this point, is a suspect entity when it comes to enforcing the laws they’re supposed to uphold.

Sure. Any discussions of left and right and purely arbitrary and entirely dependent on the environment: just as your comment of “the political… has drifted so far to the right.” is from the point of view of your environment.
That said, I took the little test you linked and here are my results:
Economic Left/Right: -2.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.41
You can argue that I didn’t take it in good faith, if you want to, but I did because I was curious to see what it would say. I’m frankly surprised that I came out so far on the left side.

See my comments about the environment from within which you’re viewing our political structure. This is also why I don’t like Democrats OR Republicans and am constantly annoyed that there seem to be no sane Libertarian candidates.

Your report is interesting, but it’s not using the same metrics: that’s a graph of absolute homicides (e.g. number of people killed), where everything I’m looking at is per capita numbers, which I feel much more accurately captures the problem.
Also, if we’re talking about trends, homicides world-wide have been on the decline: this is true both in the U.S. and the U.K.
My point still stands that the data do not support a strong correlation between firearms restrictions and homicides, per capita.

While I agree that different policies take different amounts of time to take effect, I’m still dubious that it would take that long to show for firearms if firearms themselves were the problem.

My point here was that, after the gun ban homicides continued to increase for several year s(see effect lag discussion), and while the trend for the last several years has been a decrease in homicides, that trend has been reflected more or less globally, so drawing a solid correlation between a gun ban and this trend seems shaky at best.
Also, if you say, “Assaults have fallen since 1950!” and your number of assaults per capita is the same as it was in 1950, then such a contention is factual, not farcical. Sure, you can say, “We’re trending downwards from our peak in 1980.” and I will have no problem with that factual statement, but saying that, “Homicides are down since the 1997 gun ban.” is not a factual statement.
I could also had made the argument in 2000 that “8 years of year-on-year increases suggests a pretty solid trend.” and I would have been wrong.
You mean, like jumping to the conclusion that a gun ban decreased the homicide rate?

Okay, on the one hand, I see where you’re coming from here and I say, “Bully on them!” for having a much lower homicide rate per capita than the U.S. Still, when you consider what we’re talking about here, the effects of a gun ban on homicide, then shouldn’t the U.S. homicide rate be increasing and the U.K. homicide rate have decreased dramatically? I mean, I realize we have issues with effect lag and sample windows, but this is hardly strong evidence supporting a gun ban.

I thought this was pretty self-explanatory: Country A has a homicide rate of 100. Country B has a homicide rate of 10. Country B bans gun and the homicide rate is unchanged.
Sure, guns are the most efficient privately owned tool we have for killing people, but most homicides aren’t multiple homicides: they’re one-of’s. Pretty much anything on-hand will do the job there. The assumption that “people will kill each other less often without guns” is one that has not been supported by the data.
Even if I cannot claim that “homicides increased” (despite them doing exactly that for approximately five years), you still can’t claim that they’ve decreased *either*. Only that they’re trending down and, again, since that appears to be a world-wide phenomenon, tying that trend to the gun ban seems a bit of a stretch; especially since we’re seeing the same trend in the U.S.

On the contrary, they’re saying, “We don’t think that guns are the problem here.”, which is what this whole conversation has been about and is exactly why having conversations about this is so difficult. You have one side that, to my mind, screams, “gun are the problem!” while the other side look at the data and says, “The data don’t support that conclusion.”

See, if we’re going to talk about things like “homicide” and “massacres”, let’s leave off the “gun” in front of it. This somehow supposes that people killed by something other than a gun are worth less than those killed by a gun: this is a pet peeve of mine. You either kill about people being killed or you don’t.

Interesting links. I appreciate the time to share these. I’ll go through one at a time.
1. psmag: Ha. This is a perfect example of an analysis that annoys me. The author is comparing guns per capita to *FIREARM* homicide rate, not total homicide rate. See my comment above. I should re-do this with guns per capita vs. total homicide rate per capita.
2. Harvard: Long story short, there are loads of qualifications in this piece and the most interesting one, to my mind, is that they “account for poverty”, which I believe we discussed as one of the driving forces.
3. NorthWestern: Wow. There’s a lot here to process. I was expecting to see some kind of breakout with actual States, but this appears to be on a national level? Also, this study appears to have been done in 1990, when there were more than twice as many homicides per capita that we see now. Is there an updated version of this study?

Isn’t what we’re doing here? Discussing the potential for restrictions on the sales of firearms?

It’s a right that stems from “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Specifically, life, or the defense thereof. I believe that the right to life includes the right to defend said life: this logically leads to a means of quickly and effectively disabling the person trying to take your life. So, it’s not an absolute right that stems from the Constitution, but an absolute right that stems from the right to life…. which is why it’s in the Constitution.
Furthermore, as a defense against “tyranny”, which was something our founding fathers had immediate experience with. There seems to be an underlying feeling of, “Well, those days are past, it’s unthinkable that tyranny would rear its head again!” that I honestly do not understand.

So, earlier in this discussion you said that you, “haven’t said ban guns outright”, but if magazine (Please, pretty please, “magazine”, not “clip”. A clip is a different type of ammunition carrier. I know it sounds silly, but it’s annoying.) restrictions “are a compromise”, then what are you advocating for? Or are you saying that it’s the firearms that should be regulated, not magazines? e.g. People should be allowed to own magazines of any capacity, while having to work with additional regulations on the firearms themselves.

Sure, that’s a good starting point when they’re very young. Talking about different types of cover and what to do in the case of an active shooter would be good, too.
Once they’re past a certain age, I have no problem with properly supervised kids using guns.

I understand your viewpoint here, but I think it boils down to, “Everyone wanted the NRA to suggest gun regulation and was upset when they didn’t.” They did however, suggest things (including mental health evaluations), that seem likely to help.

Well, sure. This is the nature of politics: any party only wants to spend money on programs they approve of; that’s hardly a conservative thing.
Well, we could start by closing foreign military bases: this is something that has, from what I’ve seen, widespread support from the “right”, but which never seems to happen.
Besides, if you want to start asking, “Where are you going to get the money for that?”, we can have that discussion about “Obamacare”, too.
Obamacare is an entirely separate discussion, which I’ll leave for another day.

Collect information for background checks? The NCIS is run by the FBI, not the ATF.

Sure you can. People do it all the time! :p
Seriously though, the two aren’t mutually exclusive and this ignores the massive inefficiencies in our government: how about consolidating redundant agencies, for example? The whole TSA, which is arguably a jobs creation program?
Sure, too small to get the job done, etc. I don’t think that’s something we’re in danger of running into anytime soon, though.

Ummm… doctoral dissertation? I’m not sure where this came from? Mockery?

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 28, 2013 - 6:02 am

“Ummm… doctoral dissertation? I’m not sure where this came from? Mockery?”

Sincerest apologies. I had you confused with the poster above. Entirely my mistake.

“Sure. Any discussions of left and right and purely arbitrary and entirely dependent on the environment: just as your comment of “the political… has drifted so far to the right.” is from the point of view of your environment.”

No – this is the problem. Left and right are objective points on a continuum. Halfway between these points is the centre. The centre of the discourse in the US is not the same thing as the objective centre.

That said, I took the little test you linked and here are my results:
Economic Left/Right: -2.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.41
You can argue that I didn’t take it in good faith, if you want to, but I did because I was curious to see what it would say. I’m frankly surprised that I came out so far on the left side.

I wouldn’t argue you took it in anything but good faith. What confuses me is that you lean to the collectivist, but side politically with the extreme right. Why do you think this is?

“See my comments about the environment from within which you’re viewing our political structure. This is also why I don’t like Democrats OR Republicans and am constantly annoyed that there seem to be no sane Libertarian candidates.”

That’s because “sane libertarian” is oxymoronic. Politics requires pragmatism, and you can’t be a conviction libertarian without taking some pretty offensive positions (see Rand Paul’s views on civil rights laws).

“Your report is interesting, but it’s not using the same metrics: that’s a graph of absolute homicides (e.g. number of people killed), where everything I’m looking at is per capita numbers, which I feel much more accurately captures the problem.”

Surely if you’re comparing like with like – which I did – then there’s no problem.

“Also, if we’re talking about trends, homicides world-wide have been on the decline: this is true both in the U.S. and the U.K.”

Just before you were saying that homicides in the UK weren’t.

“My point still stands that the data do not support a strong correlation between firearms restrictions and homicides, per capita.”

Except for here:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1485564/pdf/cmaj00266-0071.pdf

“While I agree that different policies take different amounts of time to take effect, I’m still dubious that it would take that long to show for firearms if firearms themselves were the problem.”

Firearm Certificates in the UK were granted on 5 year cycles (check wiki). As a result, it took 6 years for full reduction of valid certificates.

My point here was that, after the gun ban homicides continued to increase for several year s(see effect lag discussion), and while the trend for the last several years has been a decrease in homicides, that trend has been reflected more or less globally, so drawing a solid correlation between a gun ban and this trend seems shaky at best.

The correlation is clearly there. Causation is harder to prove, but seeing as guns are the most lethal weapons we have (much more likely to be fatal than knives) and the gun homicide rate dropped precipitously the maths isn’t hard.

“Also, if you say, “Assaults have fallen since 1950!” and your number of assaults per capita is the same as it was in 1950, then such a contention is factual, not farcical. Sure, you can say, “We’re trending downwards from our peak in 1980.” and I will have no problem with that factual statement, but saying that, “Homicides are down since the 1997 gun ban.” is not a factual statement.
I could also had made the argument in 2000 that “8 years of year-on-year increases suggests a pretty solid trend.” and I would have been wrong.
You mean, like jumping to the conclusion that a gun ban decreased the homicide rate?”

Do you really think it’s that much of a leap?

“Okay, on the one hand, I see where you’re coming from here and I say, “Bully on them!” for having a much lower homicide rate per capita than the U.S. Still, when you consider what we’re talking about here, the effects of a gun ban on homicide, then shouldn’t the U.S. homicide rate be increasing and the U.K. homicide rate have decreased dramatically? I mean, I realize we have issues with effect lag and sample windows, but this is hardly strong evidence supporting a gun ban.”

It really is. Especially when you look at the same results in Australia.

“I thought this was pretty self-explanatory: Country A has a homicide rate of 100. Country B has a homicide rate of 10. Country B bans gun and the homicide rate is unchanged.
Sure, guns are the most efficient privately owned tool we have for killing people, but most homicides aren’t multiple homicides: they’re one-of’s. Pretty much anything on-hand will do the job there.
The assumption that “people will kill each other less often without guns” is one that has not been supported by the data.”

Are you really suggesting knives or bats are as effective as guns? Really? If so, why is it so important to have them for self defence? You can’t have it both ways.

“Even if I cannot claim that “homicides increased” (despite them doing exactly that for approximately five years), you still can’t claim that they’ve decreased *either*. Only that they’re trending down and, again, since that appears to be a world-wide phenomenon, tying that trend to the gun ban seems a bit of a stretch; especially since we’re seeing the same trend in the U.S.”

From the same point?

“On the contrary, they’re saying, “We don’t think that guns are the problem here.”, which is what this whole conversation has been about and is exactly why having conversations about this is so difficult. You have one side that, to my mind, screams, “gun are the problem!” while the other side look at the data and says, “The data don’t support that conclusion.””

See that’s just rubbish. The other side doesn’t look at the data. It screams tyranny and gets hysterical about the most limited of regulation (background checks). I’m sorry, but the only group that thinks the NRA are the rational party to this discussion are gun rights advocates in the US. Not even all NRA members thinks the NRA are right on this one. And the rest of the developed world thinks that the NRA position is bonkers.

“See, if we’re going to talk about things like “homicide” and “massacres”, let’s leave off the “gun” in front of it. This somehow supposes that people killed by something other than a gun are worth less than those killed by a gun: this is a pet peeve of mine. You either kill about people being killed or you don’t.”

Sure. I’ve repeatedly pointed to the comparative homicide rates.

“Interesting links. I appreciate the time to share these. I’ll go through one at a time.
1. psmag: Ha. This is a perfect example of an analysis that annoys me. The author is comparing guns per capita to *FIREARM* homicide rate, not total homicide rate. See my comment above. I should re-do this with guns per capita vs. total homicide rate per capita.”

Please do.

“2. Harvard: Long story short, there are loads of qualifications in this piece and the most interesting one, to my mind, is that they “account for poverty”, which I believe we discussed as one of the driving forces.”

Which is what they should do if they’re trying to determine the cause of the difference. That’s good practice. Accounting for it means controlling for it.

“3. NorthWestern: Wow. There’s a lot here to process. I was expecting to see some kind of breakout with actual States, but this appears to be on a national level? Also, this study appears to have been done in 1990, when there were more than twice as many homicides per capita that we see now. Is there an updated version of this study?”

Dunno. Sorry.

“Isn’t what we’re doing here? Discussing the potential for restrictions on the sales of firearms?”

Apologies – to be clear, I’m talking about the NRA’s contribution, not yours.

“It’s a right that stems from “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Specifically, life, or the defense thereof. I believe that the right to life includes the right to defend said life: this logically leads to a means of quickly and effectively disabling the person trying to take your life. So, it’s not an absolute right that stems from the Constitution, but an absolute right that stems from the right to life…. which is why it’s in the Constitution.”

Self defence is a right – but most countries use proportionality. Guns immediately create problems for proportionality and lead to ridiculous legislation such as “stand your ground.” You don’t need a gun to defend yourself – another approach that works very well elsewhere.

“Furthermore, as a defense against “tyranny”, which was something our founding fathers had immediate experience with. There seems to be an underlying feeling of, “Well, those days are past, it’s unthinkable that tyranny would rear its head again!” that I honestly do not understand.”

You don’t understand why people think you’re just a little bit paranoid when you start talking about tyranny? Your founding fathers did know something about tyranny (though the US narrative about your war of independence is a little lacking in some of the pertinent facts). If you think the chances of tyranny in the US are anything but miniscule, you’re really not paying attention.

“So, earlier in this discussion you said that you, “haven’t said ban guns outright”, but if magazine (Please, pretty please, “magazine”, not “clip”. A clip is a different type of ammunition carrier. I know it sounds silly, but it’s annoying.)” restrictions “are a compromise”, then what are you advocating for? Or are you saying that it’s the firearms that should be regulated, not magazines? e.g. People should be allowed to own magazines of any capacity, while having to work with additional regulations on the firearms themselves.”

I’m saying you should have a proper conversation about the different options. I don’t have a full list, but licensing seems sensible to me, along with requirements to prove that you’re securing the guns that you have. I also have serious questions about why you need semi-automatic rifles at all. Stop sales of high capacity magazines.

“Sure, that’s a good starting point when they’re very young. Talking about different types of cover and what to do in the case of an active shooter would be good, too. Once they’re past a certain age, I have no problem with properly supervised kids using guns.”

When you say kids, how old are you talking? I think kids should be using guns at the age they can demonstrate they can obtain a license.

“I understand your viewpoint here, but I think it boils down to, “Everyone wanted the NRA to suggest gun regulation and was upset when they didn’t.” They did however, suggest things (including mental health evaluations), that seem likely to help.”

Upset that they implied they were finally engage in the conversation and then went back to what they’ve always done – distracting from the real conversation and being obstructive.

“Well, sure. This is the nature of politics: any party only wants to spend money on programs they approve of; that’s hardly a conservative thing.”

Except when you’re talking about small government, there’s a stated focus on reducing programmes, when what they’re actually doing is picking and choosing. It claims to be principled but is actually self interested.

“Well, we could start by closing foreign military bases: this is something that has, from what I’ve seen, widespread support from the “right”, but which never seems to happen.””

Try and get that past the republican congress. Remember that the Tea Party is only representative of the tea party.

“Besides, if you want to start asking, “Where are you going to get the money for that?”, we can have that discussion about “Obamacare”, too.
Obamacare is an entirely separate discussion, which I’ll leave for another day.”

Here’s the difference. I believe free healthcare is fundamental to a modern democracy, and I have no qualms raising revenues to do so.

Collect information for background checks? The NCIS is run by the FBI, not the ATF.

“Sure you can. People do it all the time! :p”

They do – and it’s incoherent. It’s a demonstration of how these small government, tea party types, don’t understand how government works.

“Seriously though, the two aren’t mutually exclusive and this ignores the massive inefficiencies in our government: how about consolidating redundant agencies, for example? The whole TSA, which is arguably a jobs creation program?”

It doesn’t ignore the inefficiencies in your government. You can deal with those too, but if you aren’t prepared to pay for health to be fixed, you’re not going to fix mental health – they’re part of the same system. Is it really surprising that people with mental health issues aren’t likely to be able to afford health insurance?

We’d quite like some focus on job creation in the UK. Instead, our government is focusing on reducing the size of government, and it’s failing badly.

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Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud May 28, 2013 - 6:04 am

And I’m going to have to leave it there – thanks for engaging, but I’m quite keen to write on other things, and I’m spending far too much time responding to multiple people.

Stay safe.

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