Betting on Children and Mass Shootings

 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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22 May 2018 00:52
 

This is a continuation of a discussion that I was having with Qwadrewple in the “Another sacrifice to the gun god at a Texas high school” thread. Anyone who is interested in the context can read starting at post 51 here: https://forum.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/71018/P45

I assumed that was obvious enough to go unstated.

And yet you don’t seem to understand the implications of it. You claimed in your last post that any parent who refused to take your bet was “pretending they have little to no influence over their child’s psychological development, and that whether or not their child becomes a murderer or rapist is essentially a random roll of the dice the parents have no bearing on.”

The fact is, unless parents are 100 percent responsible for the future character and behavior of their child then it absolutely is a random roll of the dice whether their child winds up a murderer. Good parenting might significantly reduce the risk but whether I roll a 6 sided die or a 64 sided die I am still rolling the dice and I still do not have control over the outcome.

That is a fact that you seem now to agree with and I am saying, given that, it would be stupid to accept your bet. That means, a parent who refuses your bet is in no way, shape or form pretending that they have little to no influence over their child’s psychological development. If this was the point that you were trying to prove with your “thought experiment” you failed. Get it now?

Do you have any solution for that logistical problem?  Or are you simply satisfied with shooting down my attempt?

What logistical problem? If it is the “logistical problem” regarding whether the mother should have reported her child, well, I don’t know. What would/could have happened in your mind if she had reported her child? If it is the “logistical problem” of what to do about mass shootings and homicide in general I would support tighter gun regulations since…you know…I provided evidence a few posts back that there is a correlation between gun availability and mass shootings.

I’m not sure why you think that’s an intelligent point to make.

Because you seem to think it is irrational to refuse your bet. Presumably because the expected value of the bet is positive. I am explaining why it is not irrational to refuse your bet.

In my example, the parents have already had kids so they’ve already chosen to assume all the risks associated with that (which includes that one’s child might grow up to destroy the lives of others).

A parent who decides to have a child is not automatically assuming the risk of having to pay you $1 million or go to prison if their child grows up to be a murderer. That is an additional risk you are asking them to take on by accepting your bet. I am saying it would be stupid of them to assume this additional risk. This is not rocket science.

So the only logical conclusion is that every parent who has children either doesn’t care whether or not they grow up to be a murderer, or thinks it is so unlikely that it’s not even a risk worth concerning themselves about.  Unless you’re going to argue most parents wouldn’t care if their child became a murderer, you have to rethink the line of argumentation you’re using here.

No, this is not the only logical conclusion. Here is another (much more logical) conclusion. Parents are willing to assume the risk of having children because it is required for the perpetuation of the species, it is probably a biological imperative of sorts that is hard wired into us, and because it is life-fulfilling. They accept the risk that their child might become a murderer because they have no choice. If they want to have kids - i.e. perpetuate the species, fulfill their biological imperative, lead fulfilling lives - they must accept that risk. It is not because they don’t care whether their child grows up to be a murderer and it is not because it is so unlikely it is not even worth thinking about. It is very unlikely but the reason parents have children is because the risk-reward is much better than in your contrived scenario.

In your scenario, you are proposing a parent chooses to take on an additional, potentially life-destroying, risk for a ridiculously small reward. Assuming the first risk makes sense. Assuming the second does not.

Hell, raise it to $1,000,000 - would you take the bet then?  Why or why not?

I might take that bet. Now what do you think that proves? I honestly was not sure what answer you expected us all to give to your thought experiment or what point you thought our answers would prove. Since you did not seem to like my “no” answer I am guessing you expected us all to say “yes” and this would somehow prove, in your mind at least, that bad parenting and not gun availability is the real cause of mass shootings? Was that it?

Now it is unclear to me how raising the possible reward affects whatever mysterious point you are trying to make. Perhaps you should stop trying to lure us into a devious trap and just tell us what answer you were expecting us to give and what point you thought it would prove?

If you choose to have a child when your circumstances are X, that doesn’t excuse you from the effects environment X has on your children.

Okay, imagine this scenario. A couple has a child. Both parents have good jobs but a couple of years after the child is born the father dies and the mother is laid off. The economy is in a downturn and unemployment is high so she has to take a low paying job and move into a bad neighborhood, with a poor school system, where there are a lot of gangs. This kind of thing happens all the time and these outcomes are totally unpredictable. If her child joins a gang and gets in a knife fight and is convicted of murder should she be held responsible?

It is still not clear to me what point you are trying to make. Are you trying to argue that people who live in societies with high income inequality, or who live in poor neighborhoods, should either choose not to have children or be punished for the actions of their children?

Here is what I think. I don’t think you really give a damn about solving the “mass shooting” problem. I think you just have a thorn in your side against parents that you deem unfit, either because they do not subscribe to your own personal parenting philosophy, or because they are impertinent enough to be poor, and you just want a reason to blame parents and ignore the roll that other societal factors, including gun availability, play in exacerbating these problems.

I think that was the sole purpose of your thought experiment.

Parents know they have no effect on the level of inequality in society when they have children…...that cognizance is baked into the decision.

Well, not all parents know what the inequality level in their society is or know that levels of inequality affect homicide rates. Did you know that before I told you? Should you be held responsible for the actions of your children even though you did not know about this risk? There are certainly tons of variables that affect homicide rates and we don’t know what all of them are, so no parent knows what the risks of their environment are.

But, for the sake of argument, even if they did, I am still saying it would be stupid for parents to take on the additional risk that your bet represents. What are you not understanding about that exactly?

Either that or you’re assuming an amazing level of stupidity in parents, especially poor ones.

What the hell are you talking about? I don’t think it is stupid for poor people to have children. I think it would be stupid for any parent to accept your bet as you originally proposed it. How you got from there to the idea that I am “assuming an amazing level of stupidity in parents” is beyond me. You are taking logical leaps that only the gods could follow.

[ Edited: 22 May 2018 00:57 by no_profundia]
 
 
Quadrewple
 
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22 May 2018 09:52
 
no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:52 AM

The fact is, unless parents are 100 percent responsible for the future character and behavior of their child then it absolutely is a random roll of the dice whether their child winds up a murderer. Good parenting might significantly reduce the risk but whether I roll a 6 sided die or a 64 sided die I am still rolling the dice and I still do not have control over the outcome.

I think the use of the word random is ridiculous.  Do you think the odds are the same that a child will become a murderer if they are lashed with a whip every day of their lives as if they are not?  If they are verbally abused every day of their lives as opposed to not?  To what degree can those odds scale?  I know you don’t have a study backing your answers…..I’m asking for your opinion.

More specifically to the case at hand, is it more likely someone goes on a killing spree if they are bullied at school?  Is it more likely they will be bullied if they smell atrocious (which apparently other students said about him)?  Isn’t it the parents’/schools’ job to make sure kids are not getting bullied?

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:52 AM

If it is the “logistical problem” regarding whether the mother should have reported her child, well, I don’t know. What would/could have happened in your mind if she had reported her child?

It’s illegal to brandish a weapon at someone else…..a minor would’ve been sent to a juvenile corrections facility of some kind, and an adult would have been put in jail.

The fact that the mother of Nicolas Cruz (I had mixed up these two stories in my mind) had no legal obligation to turn in someone who was financially dependent on her threatening her with murder is the first problem.  The second problem would be that (in my view), there are not serious enough punishments for such behavior.  If someone is willing to essentially threaten their own mother and brother with murder, why would any reasonable person think they can be trusted to walk the streets without hurting people?

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:52 AM

If it is the “logistical problem” of what to do about mass shootings and homicide in general I would support tighter gun regulations since…you know…I provided evidence a few posts back that there is a correlation between gun availability and mass shootings.

Okay, and in this most recent Texas school shooting, Dimitrios Pagourtzis used his father’s legally owned shotgun and .24.  What gun regulations would you have supported that would’ve prevented this mass murder?  Dimitrios is 17…..no one is legally allowed in Texas to sell him a gun, he would only be allowed to own a gun with his parents’ cosign (which he apparently didn’t have).

I guess his father isn’t responsible for not locking up the weapons?  If you’re going to claim that my responses in the other thread were off topic, then let’s stick to the topic of the shooting that prompted the initial thread…....

Here’s my proposal for a law change that could help prevent this exact type of situation in the future:  If your son or daughter (who are we kidding though?) uses your weapons to kill people, you get prison time.  That mean you either keep your weapons properly locked up and secured, or you’re on the hook. 

Now you tell me a better alternative to my proposal that is relevant to this most recent case.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:52 AM

Okay, imagine this scenario. A couple has a child. Both parents have good jobs but a couple of years after the child is born the father dies and the mother is laid off. The economy is in a downturn and unemployment is high so she has to take a low paying job and move into a bad neighborhood, with a poor school system, where there are a lot of gangs. This kind of thing happens all the time and these outcomes are totally unpredictable. If her child joins a gang and gets in a knife fight and is convicted of murder should she be held responsible?

That is actually a good question.  In my ideal world it would work like this:  If a parent feels they are no longer willing to take legal liability for any murders their kid might commit, they can choose to give up custody.

You might then bring up the fact that the foster system is dysfunctional and oftentimes a crapshoot, and I agree.  That’s why it’s so important that gets fixed.

See, the thing about my proposed solutions is that they are not isolated to something as simple as a gun law (which in this shooting case would have made absolutely ZERO difference, unless you can correct me there).  There are countless failures of society, parents, and the legal system that have to take place for someone to go on a killing spree.

Consider this:  If your son or daughter does X amount of property damage, in most states the parents are liable for the payment of X.  There is already a strong legal precedent for parents being responsible for the damage their kids enact on the world. 

Is whether or not one’s kid goes on a property destroying spree also a “random” roll of the dice?  If so, why does it make sense for parents to be held responsible for that, but not for infinitely more serious crimes committed by their children?

All I’m asking for is some logical consistency.

[ Edited: 22 May 2018 10:01 by Quadrewple]
 
 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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22 May 2018 12:06
 

Do you think the odds are the same that a child will become a murderer if they are lashed with a whip every day of their lives as if they are not?

No, that is why I referenced the difference between rolling a 6 sided die and rolling a 64 sided die. The odds are different but it is still a roll of the dice. I have no idea to what degree “good parenting” reduces the odds of a child committing homicide and no one else does either. But, as a made up example, let’s say good parenting reduces the odds your child will be a murderer from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000.  That is a pretty big difference.

But, all parents are still rolling the dice when they have kids. In one case they are rolling a 10,000 sided die and in the other they are rolling a 100,000 sided die. Unless you have 100 percent control there is an element of chance involved which makes the analogy of “rolling the dice” completely appropriate. There are a number of legal principles that your proposed law violates that I think we should adhere to and one is people should not be punished for the results of chance.

Okay, and in this most recent Texas school shooting, Dimitrios Pagourtzis used his father’s legally owned shotgun and .24.  What gun regulations would you have supported that would’ve prevented this mass murder?

It is a red herring to ask what policy we could have adopted to prevent some specific incident. We cannot say with any certainty what policies would have prevented a specific incident but we can say what policies are likely to reduce the overall number of incidents. Asking for a policy that would certainly have prevented a specific incident is asking an impossible question that no proposed legislation could possibly live up to (though some of the policies I am about to propose might have prevented this incident there is no way to know for sure).

Also, your proposed bet would apply to all homicides so I am not just addressing the problem of mass shootings but homicide in general (they are separate problems). So, here are some policies that make sense to me that come from the book Private Guns, Public Health by David Hemenway and that I think would potentially reduce homicides:

Create a new agency or provide an existing agency with the power to regulate firearms as a consumer product. The agency should be able to set and enforce safety standards on all guns manufactured or sold in the U.S. as we do for other consumer products. For example, there are companies that have developed “smart guns” that only fire when an authorized user is using the gun. There are some potential issues and kinks with these but, if they could be worked out, a law that required this on all guns would potentially have a very large impact on homicides and mass shootings and would have potentially prevented the Texas shooting.

Even if smart guns do not work out there are other safety standards that should be enforced on guns that might not prevent mass shootings or homicides but would potentially reduce accidental deaths. Safe storage laws would also potentially help. Parents who do not safely store their guns, preventing access to their children, might face fines. This also might have prevented the Texas shooting.

Requiring the licensing and registration of firearms and inspections of gun dealers could potentially have a large effect on reducing the black market for guns. There is data showing that corrupt or irresponsible gun dealers are responsible for close to half of all black market firearms. Targeting those gun dealers would potentially reduce criminal access to guns and homicide rates.

We don’t need to have a draconian society where parents are sent to prison for the crimes of their children, or have their children taken away when they fall on hard times, to prevent gun violence. There are bad parents in every country and yet the homicide rate and mass shooting rate in the U.S. is much higher in the U.S. than in all other developed countries. None of the other developed countries had to institute draconian laws like the ones you are proposing to reduce homicide and gun violence.

If your son or daughter does X amount of property damage, in most states the parents are liable for the payment of X.  There is already a strong legal precedent for parents being responsible for the damage their kids enact on the world.

Is whether or not one’s kid goes on a property destroying spree also a “random” roll of the dice?  If so, why does it make sense for parents to be held responsible for that, but not for infinitely more serious crimes committed by their children?

There are a few things I want to say here. First, it is necessary to understand the reasoning behind parental liability laws. Parents are not being punished for the crimes committed by their child. They are being punished for failing in their perceived parental duty to provide adequate supervision for a minor child. In other words, they are being punished for a civil offense that they committed.

A parent can be held criminally responsible for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” but in this case the parent is actually persuading or helping their child to commit criminal acts. Again, they are being punished for their own crime, not the crimes of their children. This might seem like semantics but I think it is important.

Your proposed law would make parents criminally liable for actions their child undertakes up until the age of 35. This is making a parent responsible for crimes committed by their child which goes against another legal principle that I think we should adhere to: one person should not be punished for crimes committed by another person. A society that punished one person for crimes committed by another person is not a society I would want to live in.

Second, I would not necessarily be opposed to some monetary penalty if the child is young enough to be under the supervision of the parent (it makes no sense, in my opinion, to make a parent responsible until their child is 35) and there was some proven negligence on the parent’s part (like failing to properly secure their gun). But, in this case, parents are being charged for their own negligence, not the crimes of their children and the punishment should fit the crime. Leaving your child unsupervised for an afternoon does not warrant jail time. And parents can already be charged for child abuse which I support because, again, it is a crime committed by the parent, not the child.

Third, I don’t think even draconian parental punishments for crimes committed by a child would be very effective at reducing homicide or gun violence because I don’t think bad parenting is the only - or most important - factor explaining gun violence and homicide. I recommend taking a look at the work of Herman Daly. His book Homicide is one of the most well respected works of criminology ever published and in the book sociological and evolutionary factors are paramount in explaining all forms of homicide. I happen to think that human beings are naturally prone towards certain forms of violence. Culture and education are supposed to curb some of those tendencies but war and competitive violence are probably a part of human nature.

Based on what little information I have, it seems likely to me that the parents of the virgin killer, or Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho were basically decent parents. In the latter two cases, the parents had other children that did not go on to become mass murderers. You really have two choices. You can make all parents liable for the actions of their child and, in that case, you are punishing good parents who were the victims of a bad roll of the dice, or you can try to only punish the bad parents, in which case you are really punishing the parents for a crime they committed (negligence, child abuse, etc.). We already do that latter and the former is punishing parents for something that is genuinely beyond their control which is not a legal principle that I think anyone should support.

If I instituted a law where parents were punished for earthquakes it is not going to reduce earthquakes because parents have no control over earthquakes. This is an extreme example. Unlike earthquakes, parents have some influence on whether their child becomes a murderer but I think it is much less than you imagine. Whatever the exact degree of influence is, the less influence a parent has, the less effective these laws are going to be, which is why it makes much more sense to punish parents for things they have actually done that they do have control over (like negligence or child abuse) than things they don’t (future actions of their child).

There is no good reason why we should violate the two legal principles I listed above, especially when there are other more effective methods for preventing gun violence and homicide that don’t require violating these legal principles.

P.S. I would also add, there is essentially no evidence that parental liability laws are actually effective at reducing crimes by minors that I could find. There is evidence that certain gun laws reduce homicides and gun violence. Another reason we should support the latter over the former.

[ Edited: 22 May 2018 13:15 by no_profundia]
 
 
hannahtoo
 
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22 May 2018 12:56
 

Quad:
If someone is willing to essentially threaten their own mother and brother with murder, why would any reasonable person think they can be trusted to walk the streets without hurting people?

They can’t be trusted.  However, honestly, you can’t understand the anguish and confusion that goes on in the mind of a parent when they discover their child is out of control unless you have experienced it.  Should they report to authorities?  Was the threat or assault bad enough to justify pressing charges?  Or was it a matter to be handled within the family?  Would a restraining order or incarceration help in the long run?  Or would the child become further alienated and exposed to bad influences?  Our society is good at punishing people and locking them up.  We are not so good at rehabilitating offenders.   

Yes we need to “fix” the Foster Care System to help children whose problems arise from being abused or neglected.  Ideas?  Currently, difficult teens bounce around the system, and no one knows how to help them.

People who are abused or threatened do not always seek help.  Usually there is a tragic psychology going on, with the love the person felt getting all tangled up with the fear and pain.  What behavior is over the line?  When is a threat credible?  And trying to prove whether an indecisive parent was legally negligent seems like an impossible psychoanalysis.  Yes, if guns and ammo are lying around the house, that’s obvious.  (I would be in favor of a law requiring safe storage of firearms in the home.  But I betcha that could never pass in my lifetime.)  But what if the teens are hiding their incriminating evidence?  Will parents be held responsible for not locating their journal?  For not reading their online posts and texts?  Not following them around after school?

Quad, are you a parent?

 

 
no_profundia
 
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22 May 2018 14:22
 

I went back and found a video panel I watched a long time ago where David Hemenway gives a brief (7 minute) overview of policies we should adopt to reduce all forms of gun violence. If you want a better (but still fairly quick) summary of policies I would support watch this video from the 9:30 mark to 17:00 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnhCYBze4q8

 
 
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23 May 2018 11:55
 
no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

It is a red herring to ask what policy we could have adopted to prevent some specific incident.

How is that a red herring? I gave a specific policy which would punish the negligence of this kid’s father in the future (not properly securing his shotgun and .24).  Surely you don’t disagree that consequence is at least theoretically preventative…. I agree with you on the smart weapons front - that is obviously a beneficial technology.  I’m more than willing to look at other cases of mass shootings and look at what legislation could have prevented those individual instances as well, I just happen to want to discuss the psychological roots of violence as well.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

Create a new agency or provide an existing agency with the power to regulate firearms as a consumer product. The agency should be able to set and enforce safety standards on all guns manufactured or sold in the U.S. as we do for other consumer products. For example, there are companies that have developed “smart guns” that only fire when an authorized user is using the gun. There are some potential issues and kinks with these but, if they could be worked out, a law that required this on all guns would potentially have a very large impact on homicides and mass shootings and would have potentially prevented the Texas shooting.

 

If I saw more specifics, I could be persuaded to support that.  That seems like more of a long-term solution to unauthorized weapon use - I don’t see why it would have to be that OR what I’m suggesting (putting more skin in the game for parents to secure their weapons, as well as potentially holding them criminally liable for murders their children under 18 commit).

I just want to point out that my thought experiment was to illustrate a point about parental influence on children, not to say that I would support a parent holding criminal liability for who their 34 year old murders.  I still believe that any parent who would refuse the bet is not fit to be a parent, as they clearly don’t trust either their genetics, the environment they’re raising their children in, or their own parenting skills.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

Safe storage laws would also potentially help. Parents who do not safely store their guns, preventing access to their children, might face fines. This also might have prevented the Texas shooting.

Apparently some states have those laws.  I’m suggesting stricter consequences than what currently exist.  But I’m fine with things happening on the state level in regards to that - I wouldn’t presume to tell other states what they should do in regards to that.  I think if they didn’t adopt those stricter consequences they’d be foolish though.

 

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

We don’t need to have a draconian society where parents are sent to prison for the crimes of their children, or have their children taken away when they fall on hard times, to prevent gun violence.

The thing is, I don’t care about gun violence in particular.  I think if this guy hadn’t had access to his father’s gun, he would’ve used explosives or something else (I think there were even explosives found on the school campus).  I am convinced that in this particular case (as well as many others), this kid was a ticking time-bomb which everyone chose to ignore for their own convenience, and due to their general ignorance, hence my call for more skin in the game for parents.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

There are bad parents in every country and yet the homicide rate and mass shooting rate in the U.S. is much higher in the U.S. than in all other developed countries. None of the other developed countries had to institute draconian laws like the ones you are proposing to reduce homicide and gun violence.

Gun violence in the US is overwhelmingly a gang thing.  As for mass shootings, as horrible as they are, they barely scratch the surface of the overall problem of gun violence.  Their impact is felt more strongly because random people are attacked, and I understand that.  None of the other developed countries have nearly as many guns as the US.

Also, asserting a law is draconian is not an argument.

If your son or daughter does X amount of property damage, in most states the parents are liable for the payment of X.  There is already a strong legal precedent for parents being responsible for the damage their kids enact on the world.

Is whether or not one’s kid goes on a property destroying spree also a “random” roll of the dice?  If so, why does it make sense for parents to be held responsible for that, but not for infinitely more serious crimes committed by their children?

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

There are a few things I want to say here. First, it is necessary to understand the reasoning behind parental liability laws. Parents are not being punished for the crimes committed by their child. They are being punished for failing in their perceived parental duty to provide adequate supervision for a minor child. In other words, they are being punished for a civil offense that they committed.

So would you say Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ parents provided him adequate supervision?  If yes, then how could you possibly support inadequate supervision as justification for a parent being held financially responsible for their child’s graffiti?  If no, then why wouldn’t the same logic apply to his murders?

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

A parent can be held criminally responsible for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” but in this case the parent is actually persuading or helping their child to commit criminal acts. Again, they are being punished for their own crime, not the crimes of their children.

Yes, I’m saying the laws are logically inconsistent.  If you can explain to me, in principle, why the logic would change when the crime escalates from property damage to murder, then fine.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

Your proposed law would make parents criminally liable for actions their child undertakes up until the age of 35.

No, that was not my proposed law.  That was a thought experiment in order to illustrate the point about parental influence on the outcomes their children have.  Let me be explicit - the only age I would support criminal liability for parents is below the age of 18.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

This is making a parent responsible for crimes committed by their child which goes against another legal principle that I think we should adhere to: one person should not be punished for crimes committed by another person. A society that punished one person for crimes committed by another person is not a society I would want to live in.

And yet, that’s what happens with children who engage in property damage, an infinitely less serious crime than murder, let alone mass murder.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

Second, I would not necessarily be opposed to some monetary penalty if the child is young enough to be under the supervision of the parent (it makes no sense, in my opinion, to make a parent responsible until their child is 35) and there was some proven negligence on the parent’s part (like failing to properly secure their gun).

So we basically agree that if the laws were just, Dimitrios’ parents (or father I suppose) would be seeing jail time for his son using his guns to murder people?

Again, the age of 35 was regarding the bet, I never proposed that as a law.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

I recommend taking a look at the work of Herman Daly. His book Homicide is one of the most well respected works of criminology ever published and in the book sociological and evolutionary factors are paramount in explaining all forms of homicide. I happen to think that human beings are naturally prone towards certain forms of violence. Culture and education are supposed to curb some of those tendencies but war and competitive violence are probably a part of human nature.

I’m not here to dismiss people who’ve studied the issue at an academic level.  I’m just saying if there is skin in the game for parents whose children tag up a building or ransack a supermarket, there has to logically then be skin in the game for parents whose children murder others or go on killing sprees.  If you can logically explain the difference to me, I’ll rethink my position.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

Based on what little information I have, it seems likely to me that the parents of the virgin killer, or Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho were basically decent parents.

Have you read the writings of the woman who apparently treated both Adam Lanza and Seung-Hui Cho, as well as Jared Loughner and Eric Harris and all of their mothers?

I Am Adam Lanza’s Therapist

First off, you’re very unlikely to find deeper insight into psychological problems than that article.  Secondly, this is her comment on the parents of these mass murderers:

” Of course none of this means that the parents of RAD kids were mean-spirited. Mostly, they have been misguided by bad advice. Some of these parents are regular or almost regular people, or at least they seem so. They may be defensive. They are usually not very good communicators, themselves. They are predictably not open and expressive, as a rule. They are not good with hearing their children’s feelings. They may even be secretive. These characteristics become family traits that impede self-reflection and healing.”

The following paragraph describes the bad parenting advice which is culturally accepted these days.  So while logically, it makes complete sense that if parents are ethically responsible for kids’ property damage, they are ethically responsible for kids’ murder - perhaps I am attempting to get the laws too far ahead of culture.


The problem is, what would necessitate widespread cognizance of RAD (reactive attachment disorder) other than skin in the game for parents?  When you have guys like Skipshot (original OP) pretending this recent shooting is an issue of gun worship, and society spends all its time having mostly unproductive debates about gun laws, where is the opportunity for KNOWLEDGE?  Where is the opportunity for discussion about parenting practices which are based on science?

The answer is, basically nowhere.  Society as a collective is more interested in political games than solving the problem of violence and psychological dysfunction.

no_profundia - 22 May 2018 12:06 PM

Unlike earthquakes, parents have some influence on whether their child becomes a murderer but I think it is much less than you imagine.

Technically no, I think they have basically 100% influence over the child’s environment, and certain environments psychologically damage kids and make them more likely to engage in violence and/or self-destructive behaviors.  The ACE Study (which you can Google if interested) has demonstrated a very clear correlation between adverse childhood experiences and negative outcomes in life.

The ACE Pyramid

[ Edited: 23 May 2018 12:13 by Quadrewple]
 
 
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23 May 2018 12:04
 
hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

They can’t be trusted.  However, honestly, you can’t understand the anguish and confusion that goes on in the mind of a parent when they discover their child is out of control unless you have experienced it.  Should they report to authorities?  Was the threat or assault bad enough to justify pressing charges?

I have a pretty good approximation of that feeling, arguably worse, as my parents were both extremely violent and my mother was a bipolar schizophrenic.

Did I ever report my parents? No - that was a risk I was unwilling to take as a 4-9 year old who was financially dependent on them.  Was Nicolas Cruz’s mom financially dependent on him?

At the end of the day, feelings are very often unreliable in choosing the best course of action.  I’m quite sure you’d agree.  I think you’d also agree that looking back at the trail of bodies behind Nicolas Cruz, the threat was absolutely worth getting the police involved…..it would be interesting to ask the mother about that.

hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

Or was it a matter to be handled within the family?

If the family environment (or lack thereof) fostered that type of violent behavior, why would it make sense to expect that same environment to fix it?

hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

Would a restraining order or incarceration help in the long run?  Or would the child become further alienated and exposed to bad influences?  Our society is good at punishing people and locking them up.  We are not so good at rehabilitating offenders.

Yes, which is why I’m so interested in looking at what happened before Nicolas Cruz and any other murderer actually killed people - what red flags there were and how we can prevent people from even getting into the psychological state he was in once he threatened his mother and brother. Progress in this area will not only affect mass shootings and gun violence, but violence in general, as well as a host of other social problems.

hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

Yes we need to “fix” the Foster Care System to help children whose problems arise from being abused or neglected.  Ideas?  Currently, difficult teens bounce around the system, and no one knows how to help them.

I’m only one person.  I believe that if all the time that was spent talking about gun legislation was spent talking about this, it would get solved.  I also lean more towards prevention than cure….once someone is behaving this way as a teenager their chances of being rehabilitated are extremely low, even if we assume they want to change.

hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

And trying to prove whether an indecisive parent was legally negligent seems like an impossible psychoanalysis.  Yes, if guns and ammo are lying around the house, that’s obvious.  (I would be in favor of a law requiring safe storage of firearms in the home.  But I betcha that could never pass in my lifetime.)

Then one of my proposals is the perfect compromise.  The reason your law probably won’t pass is that a properly secured firearm might be impractical for home defense in the case of a home invasion.  With my proposal, you can leave your firearms unsecured as much as you want…...the catch is, you are responsible if someone uses those weapons to kill people.

See my point?

hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

But what if the teens are hiding their incriminating evidence?  Will parents be held responsible for not locating their journal?  For not reading their online posts and texts?  Not following them around after school?

I’m saying if the result is that your kid kills people, there must be skin in the game similar to the skin in the game which parents face when their children commit property crimes.  However parents want to react to that skin in the game is their business - I have my own opinions about that, but there would be a massive conversation between parents which would take place if a law like this were to pass (which I recognize is as about as low as the odds can get).

hannahtoo - 22 May 2018 12:56 PM

Quad, are you a parent?

No, but I would be willing to sign the bet I initially proposed in a heartbeat if I do have kids.  You can even be the beneficiary of the $1,000,000 reward if you want…..I can promise you if I have kids, you won’t be winning any money.

[ Edited: 23 May 2018 12:11 by Quadrewple]
 
 
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23 May 2018 16:25
 

This is going to be a very long post that I am going to have to break up. I am going back to work tomorrow and so I am going to attempt to make this my “magnum opus” on this particular subject for now at least. I may not have a chance to post again for a while.

Surely you don’t disagree that consequence is at least theoretically preventative.

Of course legal consequences theoretically have a deterrent effect. That is the basis of much of our legal system. I don’t think this particular law would have much of a deterrent effect for a number of reasons:

First: There is no evidence that parental liability laws in general have any deterrent effect or effect parental behavior in any way. There is plenty of evidence supporting the effectiveness of gun laws, and there is no evidence supporting your proposed law. I don’t understand why that is not more of a factor in your thinking.

Second: You are drastically over-estimating the degree to which parents have control over the future behavior of their children. I am NOT saying that child abuse, or adverse childhood experiences, have no effect, just that you are drastically over-estimating them (the ACE studies were primarily about health effects, but I am talking now specifically about violent criminal behavior). There are biological/genetic, evolutionary, sociological and economic factors that contribute to violence (and other factors as well):

a. Biological/Genetic: A good book to read regarding the biological/genetic factors that effect criminal behavior, that has been purged of all the racist bullshit that discredited biological theories of criminal behavior in the past, is The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine. I will give you just two examples from the book, one genetic and one biological:

It turns out that the resting heart rate of very small children is a pretty good predictor of future criminal behavior. Children with low resting heart rates have a hard time finding stimulation, they are bored easily, and will often grow up to engage in risky criminal behaviors. There are other possible outlets. These children might become adrenalin junkies, world travelers, or heart surgeons (where a calm resting heart rate is imperative) but a decent number of them become criminals. The important point is: a parent has no way to predict whether their child will have a low resting heart rate ahead of time, so punishing them for a bad roll of the dice makes no sense, and is not going to prevent anything. For laws to be effective, people need to be able to alter their behavior in response to them. How should parents alter their behavior to avoid this risk factor? They can’t, which is why it is idiotic to punish them for it.

A non-genetic, biological factor that potentially contribues to criminal and violent behavior is lead in the environment. We used to burn leaded gasoline and as a result there was a lot of lead in the soil that children played in and this has a potential effect on their brain development since lead is neurotoxic. There was a study done that found a very strong correlation between trends in lead exposure and violent crime and unwed pregnancy (another issue I know you worry about). It is quite possible that the crime wave from the 70s and 80s, and the drop we saw in the 90s, could be explained (at least partially) by the timing of when children who had been exposed to high levels of lead entered the ages when most crimes are committed (15 – 24).

Here is a link to the actual study:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10845777

Obviously, parents have no control over the amount of lead in the environment, and parents at the time did not even know this was a risk factor. There are a million other factors like this that we don’t even know about. So, again, punishing parents for this makes no sense, and is not going to alter behavior at all. That is what my earthquake example was meant to show. If you decide to punish parents for earthquakes how is that going to alter behavior? It won’t. If you decide to punish good parents, because their child grew up to commit a violent crime as the result of lead poisoning when they were a child, how is that going to alter parent behavior? It won’t (at least in this scenario where parents did not know about the lead or that it was a risk factor). This is idiotic policy. Instituting punishments that will not effect behavior.

b. Sociological: I am going to discuss a collective action problem that leads to homicide – and has nothing to do with parenting – later but here is one sociological factor that increases the risk that a child will become a mass shooter or commit homicide: gun availability. I showed you evidence that gun availibility is correlated with mass shooting rates. So, should parents be punished for choosing to have children in the U.S. since there are a lot of guns in the U.S.? The homicide rate in the U.S. is much higher than other countries. If you were to have a child the chances that your child will become a murderer are much higher since you live in the U.S. then they would be if you lived in Britain. Are you personally responsible for this fact? Should you be punished for choosing to have children anyway? Again, that is idiotic and is not going to effect behavior at all.

c. Economic: I already mentioned the possible correlation between levels of income inequality and homicide. Would you recommend that parents quit having children until we get levels of income inequality down to a level where the risk is acceptable?

Third: I don’t think such a law would be effective at altering parent behavior for three reasons:

a. Parents all have different parenting philosophies and the vast majority of them already think they are doing what they should to prevent their children from becoming murderers. The person who whips their child every day probably believes (wrongly) that children need such hard discipline in order to prevent them from misbehaving. We know enough about child development to know that the parent who whips their child every day is wrong which is why such abuse is illegal. But, instituting a new punishment is not going to alter this parent’s behavior if they sincerely believe what they are doing is right, and there are (unfortunately) a lot of parents who believe this sort of thing.

b. There is already a strong incentive operating to motivate parents, namely, it really sucks to have your child grow up to be a murderer. If this incentive is not strong enough to alter parental behavior I seriously doubt adding another punishment on top of it is going to have much of an effect.

c. People rarely change their behavior based on extremely low-risk future events. The chances that any child will become a murderer are very small, even if you are a terrible parent. People in general tend to discount these low-probability events. We are not very good at thinking about the future. Look at all the people who refuse to alter their behavior in response to the threat of climate change. The murder rate is pretty high in the U.S. but it is still only around 4.8 per 100,000 per year. That probabiliy expressed as a decimal is .000048. Whatever your views on global warming, the chance that the scientific community is right are much higher than .000048 and yet people don’t want to alter their behavior even at the risk of making the earth largely unlivable for humans. The notion that a parent is going to radically alter their behavior in the face of something so improbable is not realistic.

Now, even if your law was likely to be effective it is totally unworkable. I presented you with the following option in my last post but you didn’t really respond. If you are going to institute this law you have two options:

a. You hold all parents liable for the actions of their children. As I explained above, there are going to be parents who wind up having children who become murderers through no fault of their own, unless you consider choosing to have children in the U.S. even though there are high levels of inequality or a lot of guns a crime worthy of jail time (which is really stupid). So if you are going to punish all parents, then you are going to be punishing some parents who did absolutely nothing wrong. Punishing people even though they did nothing wrong makes no sense. This should be one of the absolute foundations of our society.

b. You only hold some (bad) parents liable for the actions of their children. If you pursue this option, you are going to need criteria for determining what a “bad” parent is. You are going to have to have some legally defined definition of a “good” parent and a “bad” parent. You are essentially going to be legislating parenting, which I assure you, a lot of parents are going to have problems with. We don’t know enough about child development yet to do this except in the crudest of ways. We know violent physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc. are bad, but there is a lot of debate about the specifics of parenting.

And, even if we could reach an agreed upon definition of “bad parenting”, which would be impossible in this country since a very large portion of the population would not at all be willing to alter their parenting philosophies even in the face of the clearest scientific evidence, we would have to know where to draw the line in the sand. If I hit my child once and they commit murder am I liable? What if I hit them for a few years but then change my ways? And, even if we could answer a million questions like that, how are we going to know whether the parent was a good or bad parent? How are we going to know how many times they hit their kid?

This law is totally unworkable even if it was desirable, and it is not desirable.

Let me ask you this: do you think that parents in the U.S. are worse parents than parents in Britain or France? I think that is very unlikely, and the study I already referenced found no difference in mental illness between different countries, and mental illness is correlated with child abuse. And yet, Britain and France have much lower homicide and mass shootings rates than the U.S. If parenting were as important a factor as you claim, then altering the number of guns in society should not make that much of a difference. The fact that it does, is strong evidence you are wrong.

[ Edited: 23 May 2018 17:37 by no_profundia]
 
 
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23 May 2018 16:33
 

I think if this guy hadn’t had access to his father’s gun, he would’ve used explosives or something else (I think there were even explosives found on the school campus).

I want to point something out. Virtually all of your arguments are of the “I think” variety and are based entirely on what you happen to find reasonable. These are not strong arguments. The fact that “you think” this person would have found another way to commit violence carries absolutely no weight. It carries as much weight as me responding with “I don’t think this guy would have used explosives if he didn’t have guns.” Do you find what “I think” persuasive? I hope not.

What carries weight is actual evidence and there is actually a lot of evidence that you are wrong about this. We cannot predict what a specific individual would do, but we know that, in general, if there were fewer guns in society, there would be fewer homicides and mass shootings. These people do not just choose other means when guns are not available.

A large percentage of homicides are impulsive – arguments between friends or family members, arguments at a bar, etc. – that only become deadly because a gun happens to be present. The presence of a gun on its own can be a factor in escalating a potentially violent confrontation into actual violence. So, a lot of homicides would not take place by other means if guns were not as readily available or prevalent.

In regard to mass shootings, I already posted a study showing that there is a correlation between gun availability and mass shootings. If what you were saying were true then countries with lower rates of mass shootings should have more bombings since these disturbed individuals would find other means to commit their atrocities. That is not what we see at all. What we see is, a lot of these people don’t commit mass acts of violence at all when they don’t have ready access to guns.

Also, we know that by far most violent crime (and crime in general) is committed by perpetrators between the ages of 15 – 24. These are the high risk ages. Once people are out of that age range criminal activity drops considerably. So, we have every reason to believe that keeping guns out of the hands of people in this age range (or at least until 21) would likely reduce mass shootings. Some of these people would leave the high risk age range and go on to lead non-violent lives though they may still suffer from all kinds of mental health issues.

Gun violence in the US is overwhelmingly a gang thing.

Well, first, this is not true. The National Gang Center estimates that around 13% of homicides a year are gang related. The CDC studied five high gang cities and found that around 29% of homicides from 2003-2008 were gang related. So, the majority of homicides are not gang related.

Second, gang violence is largely a collective action problem and this is another sociological factor that leads to homicide that has nothing to do with parenting. In case you are unfamiliar with the concept of a collective action problem, here is the Wikipedia definition “The term collective action problem describes a situation in which multiple individuals would all benefit from a certain action, but has an associated cost making it implausible that any individual can or will undertake and solve it alone.”

For example, bank runs present a collective action problem. If I have money in the bank, and I believe it might fail, it is rational for me to withdraw my money before it fails. However, when all the people who have money in the bank act “rationally” you get a bank run which actually causes a bank to fail. It would be better for everyone to leave their money in the bank but, the problem arises because, if I decide to leave my money in the bank, while other people withdraw theirs, the bank will still fail and I will lose my money. The solution to these kinds of problems often involves government regulation (like the FDIC which largely solved the problem of bank runs).

There was a survey that was done in Boston and Milwaukee that illustrated a classic collective action problem. The survey asked middle school students whether they had carried a gun and almost 1 in 4 said yes. When asked why, the majority said for self-defense or protection. The interesting bit is, when asked if they would prefer to live in a society where there were more or fewer guns 87 percent said fewer and only 2 percent said more. When asked if they wanted to live in a society where it was easy, very difficult or impossible for teens to get guns, 76 percent said impossible, 19 percent said very difficult and only 5 percent said easy. These preferences held true even among teens who carried guns themselves. 

So, what caused this collectively undesirable situation? Well, you have a small minority of high-risk individuals who carry guns. This creates a situation where other people have to carry guns to protect themselves. The more people carrying guns, the more dangerous the situation becomes, which incentivizes even more people to carry guns. The more guns there are, the more likely it is that a momentary disagreement is going to lead to homicide. So, you have a situation where a few high-risk individuals create a collective action problem that winds up increasing homicide rates.

This is a classic collective action problem. The students would all be better off if no one had guns, as expressed in their preferences. However, if some people have guns then it becomes rational for me to have a gun as well, otherwise I am the only person without a gun, and this leads to a collectively undesirable result. This is a perfect example of a situation where tighter government regulation of guns would solve this problem.

One reason I don’t like your law is it assumes all these kids carrying guns are “bad kids” who are the result of “bad homes” when, in reality, many of them are doing what is rational given their environment and the prevalence of guns. Punishing parents does absolutely nothing to resolve this collective action problem. It might satisfy your thirst for revenge, or your moral sense, but the law does not exist to satisfy your personal desires for revenge. It exists to solve collective action problems like this.

The following study found that the esalating murder rates in underclass neighborhoods in the 1980s and 1990s was at least partially explained by such an arms race:

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ455268

Unless you solve this problem, admonishing parents is not going to do anything.

Also, asserting a law is draconian is not an argument.

It is for people who don’t want to live in a draconian society. We used to live in societies with collective punishment but we have happily moved on. I have no desire to go back and collective punishment, which includes punishing family members for crimes committed by their family members, is now considered a war crime. Politics is about deciding what kind of society we want to live in so it absolutely is an argument to say “those laws would be draconian and I would not want to live in a society with those laws.” All political arguments ultimately take that form.

Yes, I’m saying the laws are logically inconsistent.  If you can explain to me, in principle, why the logic would change when the crime escalates from property damage to murder, then fine.

You wrote this in response to my explanation of the crime of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” but I don’t think you understand what that crime is. The crime of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” applies when an adult helps a child commit a crime or actively encourages it. If a parent helped their child commit mass murder then I absolutely believe they should be very harshly punished (more harshly than the child). If their crime is that they leave their guns unlocked, I believe they should be punished if it is a law where they live that they need to lock up their guns, but in that case they are being punished for leaving their guns unlocked, not for the mass murder committed by their child, and the punishment should fit the crime.

And yet, that’s what happens with children who engage in property damage, an infinitely less serious crime than murder, let alone mass murder.

No, it’s not. You did not understand my explanation of the difference between punishing a parent for something they do versus punishing a parent for something their child does. Let me put it this way, if my child commits mass murder, what law have I broken? You can’t just charge people with crimes if there is no law that they have broken. That would be anarchy. If you want to hold parents responsible for leaving their guns unlocked then you can pass a law that parents have to lock their guns and then punish them for that if they fail to do it but you can’t charge a parent with a mass murder committed by their child.

When a child commits property damage the parent is not being charged with committing property damage. They are being charged with negligent supervision – which is “when a parent knows or has reason to know that it is necessary to control the child and the parent fails to take reasonable actions to do so” – and in the case of property damage we have decided an appropriate punishment for the parent is liability for some fraction of the damage done. But, the parent is NOT being charged with or for the crimes committed by their child.

Now, if you want to devise a law where a parent is punished when their child commits a mass murder I would not necessarily oppose it but two conditions need to be met, 1) You need to show that the parent is actually guilty of something (not locking up their guns or something analogous to negligent supervision), and 2) The punishment should fit the crime. Destroying a parent’s life by sending them to prison or fining them $1 million is not a reasonable punishment for forgetting to lock up your guns.

But my point remains the same: the logic behind parental liability laws is not based on punishing parents for crimes committed by their children but is based on punishing parent’s for a failure of their own. So, there is no logical inconsistency between my legal principle and parental liability laws. There is a contradiction between my principle and the law you are proposing as you have phrased it.

I think they have basically 100% influence over the child’s environment

Really? Parents have 100 percent influence over their child’s environment? So, parents have control over who a child sees and talks to at school? They have control over the amount of lead in the dirt where they live? They have control over the quality of the air they breathe? They have control over the number of guns in their environment? They have control over all the stressors their children face (violence at school, mean teachers, etc.)? They have control over all the socio-economic factors operating in society? They have control over the splitting and recombining of their chromosomes and any and all random genetic mutations that effect their child’s genotype? They know their entire genome, and the genome of their partner, they know exactly what protein each sequence of DNA codes for, and how all the genes in their genotype will work together and express themselves in the phenotypic characteristics of their child? They have control over all the random encounters that produce the trillions of neuronal connections in their child’s brain? They know about and have control over everything their child sees or is exposed to? They have control over the other children that live in the same neighborhood and whether those children’s parents are good parents?

Come on, man. This is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard.

[ Edited: 23 May 2018 18:04 by no_profundia]
 
 
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23 May 2018 16:37
 

The ACE Study (which you can Google if interested) has demonstrated a very clear correlation between adverse childhood experiences and negative outcomes in life.

I don’t deny that parenting and child abuse have long-term effects on a child’s health, well-being, prospects and even on their tendency for violent behavior. What I deny is your ridiculous assertion that parent’s have 100 percent control over their child’s environment or that they should be held legally liable for their children’s actions simply because they decided to have children in an environment with risk factors for violent behavior. EVERY environment includes risk factors for violent behavior. The ACE studies you referenced found correlations between all kinds of child abuse and health problems but the correlations they found were not 1. If they were, then it might make sense to charge a parent with murder if their child got cancer, but no one thinks that.

Since the correlation between parenting and violent behavior is not 1, there is an element of chance involved in the outcome. This follows of strict, logical necessity. Unless you believe the correlation between violent behavior and parenting is 1 – which is ridiculous, no one would claim that – then you have to admit there is chance involved in whether a child becomes a murderer. Which means your supreme confidence that any child of yours would never become a murderer is misplaced and based on a mistake. In fact, I can explain the mistake you are making with your over-confidence.

The annual murder rate in the U.S. is about 4.88 per 100,000. So, the chances that any person will murder someone in a given year is .0000488. Now, let’s say if you are a parent who physically abuses your child the risk goes up by an order of magnitude. I think that is an unrealistic assumption. I doubt the effect is anyone near that high but I am being generous. So, the chances that a child born to a physically abusive parent will be a murderer go up to .00048. As you can see, in either case the chances are very slim.

Here is the mistake you are making. You are right to have a high degree of confidence that any child you have will not turn out to be a murderer but you are wrong to think that high degree of confidence is based primarily on your parenting skills. Assuming you are a good parent, you are in effect taking 100 percent credit for the fact that the chances your child will turn out to be a murderer are .0000488 but, in reality, your good parenting skills are only responsible for the difference between the .0000488 figure and the .000488 figure. This leads you to drastically over-estimate the effect that parenting has based on the fact that it is very unlikely for a child to be a murderer if they have good parents while ignoring the fact that it is also very unlikely for a child of bad parents to be a murderer, and this accounts for almost all of the low-probability.

To put it very simply, you are right to be very confident that your child (if you have one) will not be a murderer. You are wrong to think that is primarily a result of some personal virtues that you possess. Most of it is simply a result of the fact that it is very unlikely for any child to grow up to be a murderer.

I find it amazing that earlier you accused me of not caring about the victims….I care enough to actually do research

It may have been uncharitable of me to say that you don’t care. But, I think your desire to punish parents is outweighing your analysis of the evidence in this case. There is no evidence that your policy would work and lots of evidence that gun laws are effective and yet you dismiss discussion of gun laws as “unproductive.” In this respect, I do not think you are being guided by your desire to end gun violence, but rather by a desire to punish parents.

I should add, there is lots of evidence that child abuse produces all sorts of harm, and I am all for policies that would be geared toward the reduction of child abuse. But I don’t think your policy of punishing parent’s for the crimes of their children would be effective at reducing child abuse or gun violence.

[ Edited: 23 May 2018 17:32 by no_profundia]
 
 
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23 May 2018 23:48
 

There’s a lot there, but I still don’t think you have a convincing argument for why a parent having to pay for their child’s property damage makes sense, but having the parent suffer legal consequences for their child killing someone is somehow unjust.  Writing a long, well researched post (as much as I appreciate the effort) doesn’t persuade me as much as simply answering my questions, which were meant to cut to the heart of our disagreements (so we don’t get stuck in the weeds).  I asked several very easy to answer questions in my last post, which will enable me to understand your position much more than simply going into what you’ve researched about guns and violence in general (even though I find a lot of what you’ve presented interesting and worth looking into).

I have seen different statistics for gun violence (in this case homicide by gun)- the most recent statistic I saw was around 80% of gun homicide were gang related in 2011 (done by CDC).  I haven’t seen any years since then, but I highly doubt that the % is significantly different.  Perhaps I should have been very specific in what I meant by “gun violence.”

National Vital Statistics Report - CDC

no_profundia - 23 May 2018 04:25 PM

To put it very simply, you are right to be very confident that your child (if you have one) will not be a murderer. You are wrong to think that is primarily a result of some personal virtues that you possess. Most of it is simply a result of the fact that it is very unlikely for any child to grow up to be a murderer.

Who said anything about virtues?  Since we are not in a position (practically) to genetically identify a child who is at risk for becoming a violent person, if my law passed, parents would have to treat every child as if they are at risk, until we can see their tendencies enough to behave accordingly.  As far as I know, resting heart rate is predictive of athletic performance and ability to remain calm under pressure - in other words it may predict capacity for violence but not willingness to engage in it.  I could be wrong though, and that is a topic I’m interested in learning more about.

As it pertains to the topic, how expensive is it for a parent to get their child’s heart rate tested?  I would imagine it’s pretty cheap so if this law would encourage parents to get this type of relevant information about their children - that’s great.  That’s my entire point…..

no_profundia - 23 May 2018 04:25 PM

As I explained above, there are going to be parents who wind up having children who become murderers through no fault of their own, unless you consider choosing to have children in the U.S. even though there are high levels of inequality or a lot of guns a crime worthy of jail time (which is really stupid). So if you are going to punish all parents, then you are going to be punishing some parents who did absolutely nothing wrong.

Well, in my last post I expressed that maybe I’m trying to get the laws too far ahead of cultural awareness of child psychology (that general awareness lags far behind what the experts know).  And then I wondered what would possibly precipitate such an awakening in our culture, other than legal skin in the game for parents whose kids murder people.

Since you haven’t addressed that, I don’t see the point in repeating myself.

no_profundia - 23 May 2018 04:25 PM

You only hold some (bad) parents liable for the actions of their children. If you pursue this option, you are going to need criteria for determining what a “bad” parent is. You are going to have to have some legally defined definition of a “good” parent and a “bad” parent. You are essentially going to be legislating parenting, which I assure you, a lot of parents are going to have problems with. We don’t know enough about child development yet to do this except in the crudest of ways. We know violent physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc. are bad, but there is a lot of debate about the specifics of parenting.

You’re using terms like good and bad….I haven’t used those terms.  I also never expressed the desire to legislate what a “good” or “bad” parent is, even though laws around neglect and abuse which have a moral element to them already exist, and I am not against them.

I only expressed that parents should be responsible for preventing a certain outcome (murder).  I didn’t say we need to add a bunch of laws legislating parents’ behavior.  I do think banning spanking would be a good thing, and there’s tons of evidence it’s bad for children.  Beyond that though, I can’t think of any laws I would change regarding parenting other than that and the one I mentioned in this thread.

If parents want to take the risk not doing research about child psychology (because they trust their genes, trust the environment they will raise their kids in, and trust their parenting skills) - so be it.  In most cases their children will turn out fine.

no_profundia - 23 May 2018 04:25 PM


This law is totally unworkable even if it was desirable, and it is not desirable.

Almost every objection you made to this law was emotional in nature and involved you making assumptions about me wanting to legislate various aspects of parenting which I never suggested.

There is nothing “unworkable” about this law - it is simply emotionally unpalatable to you.  The grey areas around this law (such as children who suffer head injuries or trauma by no fault of the parents and become violent) are rare and I already suggested that if parents are no longer willing to take legal liability for their child’s actions, they can give up custody (which is already a thing by the way).

If you can give me anything other than emotional objections I’d be happy to continue the discussion.

 
 
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24 May 2018 09:25
 

I have seen different statistics for gun violence (in this case homicide by gun)- the most recent statistic I saw was around 80% of gun homicide were gang related in 2011 (done by CDC).

As far as I can tell, that number is a myth. I can’t find the word “gang” anywhere in the report that you linked to and here is an article claiming the 80 percent number is a myth:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/evan-defilippis/do-we-have-a-gang-problem_b_5071639.html

Do you see the 80 percent figure anywhere in what you linked to? I don’t have time to do more searching this morning.

I also never expressed the desire to legislate what a “good” or “bad” parent is

No, you didn’t. But, unless you want to punish all parents for things that are beyond their control, then you are going to need to make this distinction and put it into law. The heart rate example was only one example. There are tons of risk factors that we don’t know about that parents can take no actionable steps toward mitigating. And I don’t think they can do much about heart rate, sending them off to foster care is not going to decrease their chances of becoming a murderer, quite the opposite. Why would you want to tear parents and children apart if it is only going to increase the chances that the child is going to have serious problems in the future?

Do you believe it is possible for a parent who does nothing wrong to have a child grow up to be a murderer? You should say yes, because there are a ton of risk factors beyond parenting that effect a child’s chances of becoming a murderer. Do you believe parents should be punished even if they do nothing wrong? You should say no if you want to live in a civilized society.

If you can give me anything other than emotional objections I’d be happy to continue the discussion.

My objections were not emotional. They were practical and based on two principles: people should not be punished for the results of chance and people should not be punished for crimes committed by other people. These are not “emotional” arguments but are foundations of our legal system. And I guarantee if you sat down to actually write this law into legislation you would find it so unworkable you would give up. But I don’t really see much point in continuing the discussion.

I don’t think there is any chance this law or anything like it will be enacted. It would be much less popular than some common sense gun regulations which actually have some evidence behind them.

Until next time…