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Schoot shootings: what is the proximate cause?

 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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19 May 2019 11:32
 

@TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher

Turchin’s argument strikes me as too general to bear much on school shootings in the sense intended here (he talks of political unrest, targeting groups—not individuals—and “instability events”)

Yes, I don’t think mass shootings are in any way the primary focus of the book. I suspect that political unrest would be a symptom of the same underlying issue rather than the cause for mass shootings and I am not sure what Turchin means by “instability events.” I do think it is important that mass shootings target groups although I am not sure what the significance is.

I know that Turchin’s book deals with elite dynamics. I am not sure what role growing inequality plays in his story - if any - but the kind of story I had in mind would be something like: growing inequality and elite competition produces increased status anxiety and this status anxiety effects high school kids and young adults which leads to an increase in mass shootings. Obviously an overly simplistic analysis but that is the direction I was thinking. Adolescence is a period when people are generally acutely conscious and concerned about one’s social status.

It is interesting as burt noted that this is largely a US phenomenon while growing inequality is a world wide phenomenon so perhaps the availability of guns can at least partially explain the distinctiveness of the US. I know I saw a study a year or so ago that found at least some correlation between the availability of guns and mass shootings (which, of course, encompasses more than just school shootings) but I can’t seem to find the same study when I search now.

Perhaps the underlying causes are similar—one ‘consistent with the times’— but provisionally I think the proximate causes have more to do with the changing nature of adolescence than social turbulence and political unrest in the wider sense.

I absolutely think examining the changing nature of adolescence would be very worth exploring and is very likely a large part of the answer. This is not something I have actually seen any studies on but I would very much like to. I think there have definitely been societal shifts recently and I have no doubt these shifts have taken place among young adults. I always tend to correlate the rise in mass shootings with the rise in social anxiety. Not that I think people with social anxiety are more likely to commit mass shootings but that they are both symptoms of a similar social problem. That is based on nothing other than a hunch really.

Social anxiety is something I have suffered from and it seems to have peaked right around the years that I think a large number of school shootings take place - mid to late high school and early college years. I remember in one of my first college classes we were assigned to read The Red and the Black by Stendhal. For those who have not read it, the main character is a bookish provincial lad who attempts to rise in French society around the period of the Bourbon Restoration and I think it was just before the 1830 July Revolution. There are scenes in the book where Julien seemed clearly to me to be suffering from intense social anxiety and it seemed clear to me reading it that it was a symptom of a kind of sickness that pervaded French society at the time.

There was clearly a great deal of concern about status in the period following the French Revolution, it was no longer clear who was a noble, what being noble meant, or whether there should even be nobles. The clear status hierarchies that had existed before the French Revolution were breaking down with competing factions, those who wanted to return to pre-Revolutionary status hierarchies, and those who wanted to demolish them. French salon society, from the books and movies I’ve read/seen, seemed particularly vicious as people jockeyed for status by trying to humiliate each other. The character in the The Red and the Black seemed to me to be a character who was internally torn between a desire to see such hierarchies abolished while also being ambitious and wanting to rise within them.

This is just a personal feeling but I often feel like something similar may be happening in high school cultures today in the US.

@burt

This was an interesting article. I followed the link to the original article that got rejected by two male editors and it was interesting too:

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/17/gun-violence-masculinity-216321

This quote was interesting:

our culture is saturated in messages—whether in the media, in our military, in sports, at the workplace, or in our education and health care systems—that embrace and even endorse a distorted view of masculinity, which tends to value and encourage expressions of aggression by men.

Even those men who might be suffering from mental illness are unlikely to seek out counseling because it is often stigmatized as “weak” for men to seek out help and admit vulnerability.

This reminded me of a trope in television shows and movies that I absolutely hate. I used to watch a lot of procedurals and often the lead character - usually a man, but sometimes a woman - would get injured and they would refuse to go to the hospital. Sometimes it would be a serious injury that any sane person (other than Teddy Roosevelt) would immediately seek treatment for.

There is also the related trope in procedurals of the officer who is involved in a shooting and is forced to get cleared by a psychiatrist and the police officer always thinks its a waste of time and is angry and uncooperative with the psychiatrist.

I absolutely think these signals or cultural codes have an effect. The notion that the real hero just bears their pain, doesn’t seek help, even for physical injuries, and is totally resistant when help is forced on them, is definitely a common message that you find in all sorts of media, and I don’t think it is a particularly beneficial message to be sending.

Out of curiosity, do you think these messages are less common or pronounced in Canada?

@Skipshot

When all other forms of machinery dangerous to people and society are heavily and strictly studied and regulated, it is telling that guns have a specific, legal proscription from such regulations.

Yes, one of the best things I think we could do in terms of gun control would not be an isolated ban. I have read, for example, that the assault weapons ban was not very effective partly because it was so easy for gun manufacturers to get around. They could make a small alteration to a restricted gun and the ban no longer applied.

I think it would be far more effective to have a government agency that was devoted to overseeing the manufacture of guns and imposing safety standards on guns the way we do with toys, food, drugs and all sorts of other things - and the agency could also sponsor studies of gun violence. It is bizarre to me that guns have constituted an exception in this regard. I have trouble imaginging what principle someone could have for supporting an agency that makes sure toys are safe but opposing one for guns.

 
 
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21 May 2019 13:27
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 14 May 2019 04:42 AM

Even more disturbingly, gun control laws don’t seem to be the problem.  Background checks—a weak but not entirely ineffective preventative measure—have steeply increased from 1999 to 2018 (the only years for which I could find data), going from ~9 million annually to ~26 million annually.  So, even as the number of household owing guns has steeply declined, a weak but not altogether ineffective preventative measure has steeply increased over the same time, presumably keeping pace with sales.  Yet school age kids are getting access to guns in these household that are minimally not criminal.

This data and analysis immediately jumps out to me as being suspect.  Only Federal Firearm Licensees are required to conduct background checks on new gun purchases (by federal law, states have separate laws).  Gun transfers, and private sales are exempt from federal background check laws.  I think Washington is the only state that requires all private transactions be conducted through a licensed dealer, who then submits the background check.  The number of guns sold in the United States exceeds the number of federally reported background checks for gun purchases.

 
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21 May 2019 15:07
 
Garret - 21 May 2019 01:27 PM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 14 May 2019 04:42 AM

Even more disturbingly, gun control laws don’t seem to be the problem.  Background checks—a weak but not entirely ineffective preventative measure—have steeply increased from 1999 to 2018 (the only years for which I could find data), going from ~9 million annually to ~26 million annually.  So, even as the number of household owing guns has steeply declined, a weak but not altogether ineffective preventative measure has steeply increased over the same time, presumably keeping pace with sales.  Yet school age kids are getting access to guns in these household that are minimally not criminal.

This data and analysis immediately jumps out to me as being suspect.  Only Federal Firearm Licensees are required to conduct background checks on new gun purchases (by federal law, states have separate laws).  Gun transfers, and private sales are exempt from federal background check laws.  I think Washington is the only state that requires all private transactions be conducted through a licensed dealer, who then submits the background check.  The number of guns sold in the United States exceeds the number of federally reported background checks for gun purchases.

I’m talking about new guns manufactured and sales (the preceding paragraph you do not quote), not total of all sales, including those between private citizens on the Internet or at gun shows.  Since no one knows (as far as I’ve been able to tell) just how many transactions are private (no background check) by new gun owners (as opposed to gun-owning sportsman and fellow collectors) composing what kind of household (the kinds these kids are coming from, etc.), there is no way to tell what impact disallowing these sales would have on school shootings.  But, prohibiting them is probably a good idea, since those new guns are almost certainly getting into the eventual hands of criminals through these non-regulated sales.  In any case, anyone selling a handgun (the vast majority of these shootings) to a minor (the vast majority of shooters) is breaking laws already on the books, so new ones against these transactions—however they are being conducted—are unlikely to be effective.

 
Garret
 
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21 May 2019 23:46
 

Yes, I agree, a big chunk of data is missing (and most likely unobtainable).  Where my doubt springs up is you going from a lack of data to a conclusion.  Square that circle for me.

 
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22 May 2019 04:37
 
Garret - 21 May 2019 11:46 PM

Yes, I agree, a big chunk of data is missing (and most likely unobtainable).  Where my doubt springs up is you going from a lack of data to a conclusion.  Square that circle for me.

The missing data on what you bring up is not particularly important because the likelihood as a proximate cause can be ruled out on other grounds.

The idea that 6-18 year olds are illicitly buying handguns in what amounts to unregulated markets without parental knowledge or consent, then using them in school shootings, is a logical possibility, to be sure, but not a realistic one on which to hang one’s causal hat.  And this is the only direct way gun show and private sales can be a factor in school shootings.  An argument to this effect can be made, I guess, but I suspect if this channel was open and a factor, someone would have noticed it by now.  In any case, any argument to this effect should address the point already noted, specifically: “anyone selling a handgun (the vast majority of these shootings) to a minor (the vast majority of shooters) is breaking laws already on the books, so new ones against these transactions—however they are being conducted—are unlikely to be effective.”  Yes, eliminating all private sales, period, would eliminate (mostly) that channel of illicit guns to minors (there would still be a black market, since this presumable one is already dark), but that channel is so unlikely to be the source of guns for school shootings (as opposed to household guns obtained by parents) that we should be focused on the parents and the households, not the mix of public and private transactions that have concentrated more guns in fewer and fewer of them.

Unless I miss my guess, all I see here is you invoking the lack of data on an extremely remote and mainly formal possibility to re-invoke the non sequitur that the availability of guns due to lack of gun control laws causes school shootings.  But that argument, as I see it, is trivially true as the ultimate cause (granted in the OP), and but as a proximate cause it is belied by the data here (covered in the OP) and in Germany (covered above).  Since households owning guns has declined steeply over the same period school shootings have risen, it doesn’t make sense to say that ‘availability of guns’ is causing school shootings, as correlation in the opposite direction generally rules out one phenomena causing the other.  So, there is no need to square with a conclusion the circle of missing data, just eliminate a remote and for the most part merely logical possibility from consideration while we focus on the more likely proximate factors—whatever they may be.

Again, unless one argues that 6-18 year olds are engaged in what amounts to a black market of illegal gun sales, as opposed to getting the guns used in school shootings from the parental household…

 

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 06:44 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Garret
 
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22 May 2019 06:52
 

I see a lot of assumptions, I don’t see information.

If you get to pick whatever assumptions you like, then of course you can reach a conclusion you are comfortable with.

anyone selling a handgun (the vast majority of these shootings) to a minor (the vast majority of shooters) is breaking laws already on the books, so new ones against these transactions—however they are being conducted—are unlikely to be effective.”

This is an argument against all laws by the way.  Murderers continue to murder people, even though murder is illegal.  By your standard then, the law against murder is irrelevant.  Not all laws and crimes have the requirement of affecting outcomes.  Some laws and crimes are deemed necessary by society in order to acknowledge limits on behavior.  It doesn’t matter if people will still break those limits, the point is that society says it is not acceptable.

In addition, until all of society (ie, every jurisdiction) adopts a similar stance with regards to the sale of a material good, that material good can always travel across jurisdictional lines.  The country of Mexico literally has one legal gun store.  Guns are strictly controlled by law.  Law enforcement officials estimate that roughly 85 percent of the guns in Mexico are illegally obtained, with the vast bulk of those coming from the United States (another estimate is that on average 2000 guns per day flow south across the border).

All of that said, have you checked your statistics by state and compared states against each other?

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 07:08 by Garret]
 
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22 May 2019 07:05
 

Anal, your thesis question in the title is asking a lot, and you have been using a process of elimination to answer it.  After re-reading the thread I am not sure what your point exactly is.  The easiest way to answer your question is to ask the shooters themselves, which has been done, then compile the responses.

It sounds like you are defending the 2nd Amendment by looking for the common motivation of mass shootings but dismissing an obvious reason.  Does it not seem strange to make deadly weapons freely available and then not expect them to be used for their explicit purpose?

 
EN
 
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22 May 2019 07:37
 

The “proximate” cause is 1) a person shooting 2) a gun. You gotta have both, and without one of them, there is no school shooting. With both of them, you have a shooting that leads to deaths, which is foreseeable. Cause in fact (a cause that is a substantial factor in leading to a particular consequence) plus foreseeability satisfies the definition of proximate cause, at least in the legal sense.

 
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22 May 2019 08:16
 

Garret

Look more carefully.  There’s plenty of information, very few assumptions, and I reached a conclusion I am uncomfortable with, to wit: something about how these kids self-regulate is probably causing them to use catastrophic violence towards one another, not simply the availability of guns.  If only the problem were so simply solved as more gun control laws…

As for bringing up illegal transactions—or otherwise questionable ones (Mexico, jurisdictions, and what not): did you fail to note that Germany has roughly 20-45 million illegal guns in circulation, roughly 5-9 times the number of legally owned guns, yet they have virtually no school shootings?  If the failure of gun control laws was the proximate cause of school shootings, why does this failure of some of the most restrictive gun control laws in Europe not lead to school shootings?

Skipshot

I would be the first one to be surprised if I were defending the 2nd Amendment because I am in favor of repealing it.  As for my point, I would think it is stated clearly enough (from the OP): “something about the nature of youth has changed that’s causing this kind of violence to one another, not simply the availability of guns.”

As to that availability, just what does this “make deadly weapons freely available” even mean?  Just how freely available are they?  It’s not like any school age kid can just go out and get one.  In any case, I’ve already pointed out that absent guns, there would be no school shootings—a trivial and obvious proposition.  But, as Germany shows, with guns present, even widespread, there can still be no school shootings—an interesting contrast to the US.  So, my question addresses: what are the causes for this difference, as opposed to the obvious—and misleading!—factor that guns are present?  For clearly, that obvious factor isn’t explanation enough.  In fact, I would say: address those causes and one might not even need to repeal the 2nd Amendment to solve the school shooting problem (though I’d still be in favor of repealing it for other reasons).  Fail to address them and as Garret unintentionally indicates, one will fail to stop the shootings, even if one repeals it and passes restrictive laws like Germany (Mexico, for all its gun control laws, is rampant with gun crime).

Other than this and what I have posted already, I don’t know how else to explain myself.

EN

The way I am using “proximate cause” is related to the legal use, in that there can be any number of but-for causes for an event or behavior—in this case, but-for available guns, there would be no school shootings.  But as you indicate, the proximate cause needs more: what specifically is it about the person shooting and his or her circumstances that causes the school shootings? On what are we going to hang causal liability?  In this case, there are plenty of guns available to non-shooters, yet they do not shoot.  So the but-for explanation is unsatisfactory; some other factor is needed to explain the difference, not just in the US (for the variation between shooters and non-shooters exists here despite the same availability) but the difference between places like the US and Germany (which has considerable gun availability, less but still comparable to the US, but virtually no school shootings). 

As I see it, saying “gun availability” is the cause of school shootings is the social scientific equivalent of saying natural selection is the cause of my marital happiness.  Obviously “but-for” natural selection and the role of sexual reproduction, there would be no marriage, and I would not seek a mate.  But the causes of why I chose this one and have made it work so well are more proximate to the effect in question than the ultimate explanation of natural selection.  As with these kinds of “ultimate” or “but-for” causes in biology and law, so, I say, with the social science on the “gun control laws and the availability of guns” re school shootings. 

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 08:21 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
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22 May 2019 08:36
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 22 May 2019 08:16 AM

Garret

Look more carefully.  There’s plenty of information, very few assumptions, and I reached a conclusion I am uncomfortable with, to wit: something about how these kids self-regulate is probably causing them to use catastrophic violence towards one another, not simply the availability of guns.  If only the problem were so simply solved as more gun control laws…

As for bringing up illegal transactions—or otherwise questionable ones (Mexico, jurisdictions, and what not): did you fail to note that Germany has roughly 20-45 million illegal guns in circulation, roughly 5-9 times the number of legally owned guns, yet they have virtually no school shootings?  If the failure of gun control laws was the proximate cause of school shootings, why does this failure of some of the most restrictive gun control laws in Europe not lead to school shootings?

Skipshot

I would be the first one to be surprised if I were defending the 2nd Amendment because I am in favor of repealing it.  As for my point, I would think it is stated clearly enough (from the OP): “something about the nature of youth has changed that’s causing this kind of violence to one another, not simply the availability of guns.”

As to that availability, just what does this “make deadly weapons freely available” even mean?  Just how freely available are they?  It’s not like any school age kid can just go out and get one.  In any case, I’ve already pointed out that absent guns, there would be no school shootings—a trivial and obvious proposition.  But, as Germany shows, with guns present, even widespread, there can still be no school shootings—an interesting contrast to the US.  So, my question addresses: what are the causes for this difference, as opposed to the obvious—and misleading!—factor that guns are present?  For clearly, that obvious factor isn’t explanation enough.  In fact, I would say: address those causes and one might not even need to repeal the 2nd Amendment to solve the school shooting problem (though I’d still be in favor of repealing it for other reasons).  Fail to address them and as Garret unintentionally indicates, one will fail to stop the shootings, even if one repeals it and passes restrictive laws like Germany (Mexico, for all its gun control laws, is rampant with gun crime).

Other than this and what I have posted already, I don’t know how else to explain myself.

EN

The way I am using “proximate cause” is related to the legal use, in that there can be any number of but-for causes for an event or behavior—in this case, but-for available guns, there would be no school shootings.  But as you indicate, the proximate cause needs more: what specifically is it about the person shooting and his or her circumstances that causes the school shootings? On what are we going to hang causal liability?  In this case, there are plenty of guns available to non-shooters, yet they do not shoot.  So the but-for explanation is unsatisfactory; some other factor is needed to explain the difference, not just in the US (for the variation between shooters and non-shooters exists here despite the same availability) but the difference between places like the US and Germany (which has considerable gun availability, less but still comparable to the US, but virtually no school shootings). 

As I see it, saying “gun availability” is the cause of school shootings is the social scientific equivalent of saying natural selection is the cause of my marital happiness.  Obviously “but-for” natural selection and the role of sexual reproduction, there would be no marriage, and I would not seek a mate.  But the causes of why I chose this one and have made it work so well are more proximate to the effect in question than the ultimate explanation of natural selection.  As with these kinds of “ultimate” or “but-for” causes in biology and law, so, I say, with the social science on the “gun control laws and the availability of guns” re school shootings.

Anal, I think your most relevant line is: “I reached a conclusion I am uncomfortable with, to wit: something about how these kids self-regulate is probably causing them to use catastrophic violence towards one another” and that ties into the fact that was discussed in the article I posted, but which has since been ignored: Almost all of the shooters (both in the US and the few that have taken place elsewhere) have been young white males. And the ones who were not young have been older white males. In the article I posted the writer used the term “toxic masculinity” which I disagree with (it ignores the “white” part for one thing). Rather, it seems as if there is something about the American gestalt that leads this one subset of individuals to be particularly vulnerable to a deadly cognitive disorder involving, as you indicate, self-regulation. I don’t know what sort of external and internal conditions produce this, perhaps you have some ideas here.

 
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22 May 2019 08:47
 
burt - 22 May 2019 08:36 AM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 22 May 2019 08:16 AM

Garret

Look more carefully.  There’s plenty of information, very few assumptions, and I reached a conclusion I am uncomfortable with, to wit: something about how these kids self-regulate is probably causing them to use catastrophic violence towards one another, not simply the availability of guns.  If only the problem were so simply solved as more gun control laws…

As for bringing up illegal transactions—or otherwise questionable ones (Mexico, jurisdictions, and what not): did you fail to note that Germany has roughly 20-45 million illegal guns in circulation, roughly 5-9 times the number of legally owned guns, yet they have virtually no school shootings?  If the failure of gun control laws was the proximate cause of school shootings, why does this failure of some of the most restrictive gun control laws in Europe not lead to school shootings?

Skipshot

I would be the first one to be surprised if I were defending the 2nd Amendment because I am in favor of repealing it.  As for my point, I would think it is stated clearly enough (from the OP): “something about the nature of youth has changed that’s causing this kind of violence to one another, not simply the availability of guns.”

As to that availability, just what does this “make deadly weapons freely available” even mean?  Just how freely available are they?  It’s not like any school age kid can just go out and get one.  In any case, I’ve already pointed out that absent guns, there would be no school shootings—a trivial and obvious proposition.  But, as Germany shows, with guns present, even widespread, there can still be no school shootings—an interesting contrast to the US.  So, my question addresses: what are the causes for this difference, as opposed to the obvious—and misleading!—factor that guns are present?  For clearly, that obvious factor isn’t explanation enough.  In fact, I would say: address those causes and one might not even need to repeal the 2nd Amendment to solve the school shooting problem (though I’d still be in favor of repealing it for other reasons).  Fail to address them and as Garret unintentionally indicates, one will fail to stop the shootings, even if one repeals it and passes restrictive laws like Germany (Mexico, for all its gun control laws, is rampant with gun crime).

Other than this and what I have posted already, I don’t know how else to explain myself.

EN

The way I am using “proximate cause” is related to the legal use, in that there can be any number of but-for causes for an event or behavior—in this case, but-for available guns, there would be no school shootings.  But as you indicate, the proximate cause needs more: what specifically is it about the person shooting and his or her circumstances that causes the school shootings? On what are we going to hang causal liability?  In this case, there are plenty of guns available to non-shooters, yet they do not shoot.  So the but-for explanation is unsatisfactory; some other factor is needed to explain the difference, not just in the US (for the variation between shooters and non-shooters exists here despite the same availability) but the difference between places like the US and Germany (which has considerable gun availability, less but still comparable to the US, but virtually no school shootings). 

As I see it, saying “gun availability” is the cause of school shootings is the social scientific equivalent of saying natural selection is the cause of my marital happiness.  Obviously “but-for” natural selection and the role of sexual reproduction, there would be no marriage, and I would not seek a mate.  But the causes of why I chose this one and have made it work so well are more proximate to the effect in question than the ultimate explanation of natural selection.  As with these kinds of “ultimate” or “but-for” causes in biology and law, so, I say, with the social science on the “gun control laws and the availability of guns” re school shootings.

Anal, I think your most relevant line is: “I reached a conclusion I am uncomfortable with, to wit: something about how these kids self-regulate is probably causing them to use catastrophic violence towards one another” and that ties into the fact that was discussed in the article I posted, but which has since been ignored: Almost all of the shooters (both in the US and the few that have taken place elsewhere) have been young white males. And the ones who were not young have been older white males. In the article I posted the writer used the term “toxic masculinity” which I disagree with (it ignores the “white” part for one thing). Rather, it seems as if there is something about the American gestalt that leads this one subset of individuals to be particularly vulnerable to a deadly cognitive disorder involving, as you indicate, self-regulation. I don’t know what sort of external and internal conditions produce this, perhaps you have some ideas here.

because whites can’t be victims, everything is their fault, and without a villain to rage against they rage against the machine.

 
 
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22 May 2019 08:56
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 22 May 2019 08:16 AM

Garret

Look more carefully.  There’s plenty of information, very few assumptions, and I reached a conclusion I am uncomfortable with, to wit: something about how these kids self-regulate is probably causing them to use catastrophic violence towards one another, not simply the availability of guns.  If only the problem were so simply solved as more gun control laws…

As for bringing up illegal transactions—or otherwise questionable ones (Mexico, jurisdictions, and what not): did you fail to note that Germany has roughly 20-45 million illegal guns in circulation, roughly 5-9 times the number of legally owned guns, yet they have virtually no school shootings?  If the failure of gun control laws was the proximate cause of school shootings, why does this failure of some of the most restrictive gun control laws in Europe not lead to school shootings?

US population: 326 million
Number of guns (registered and not): 392 million

German population: 80 million
Number of guns (registered and not): 15 million

The 20 million illegal guns citation is from the German police union, a source that has a strong interest in overestimating the number of illegal guns in Germany.  Researchers at impartial institutes (such as a university in Switzerland) places the number closer to 10 million (roughly twice the number legally registered guns).  That said, the availability of guns with your higher estimate is still dramatically different from the ratio of guns:people in the US, but if we take more impartial sources, the ratio difference becomes even more stark.  And again, with open borders to their neighbors (which Germany definitely has), the flow of unregistered guns becomes much easier and is now a confounding variable for the effectiveness of gun legislation.  If you can’t control for confounding variables, you cannot speak to whether something is causal or not.

Your earlier response to me is riddled with fallacious arguments.  I’m not even saying that your conclusion is necessarily wrong.  I am saying that your argument for your conclusion is crap.

Wait, are you implying that you think a fallacious argument should be convincing?

 
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22 May 2019 10:44
 

Garret, I’m not really saying anything to you, much less hoping to convince you of anything.  I’m just elaborating on a point at your expense because you’ve missed it.  Your [sic] argument here has already been covered above.  I’ll quote the entire passage for your edification:

“…. extrapolating from the numbers, Germany has a household gun ownership rate roughly one fifth that of the US, plus an estimated 20-45 million illegal guns in circulation.  Ceteris paribus one would expect something like one fifth the per capita gun violence in Germany compared to the US, but it’s actually (in 2016) 14,415 deaths in the US versus 25 in Germany— 99.2% below the expected value. 

One explanation for this is that Germany and the US are not ceteris paribus because Germany has some of the strictest gun control laws in Europe, and the US gun control laws are comparatively lax—strenuously so.  And this is true.  But this explanation is unsatisfying as an explanation of school shootings because although these laws have clearly impacted overall gun violence in Germany (from 57% of homicides in 1995 to 8% in 2015), school shootings have never been the problem in Germany that they’ve been in the US.  As far as I’ve been able to tell, there is only a handful (less than 5) of school shootings on record. 

This suggests that although stricter gun control laws will reduce gun violence overall—as it clearly did in Germany—school gun violence among ages 5-18 is a separate problem.  Specifically, it’s a problem Germany’s never had, even when guns accounted for 57% of homicides (in the US today, guns account for 67%).

This suggests that new gun control laws aimed at gun violence generally will not impact school shootings, as these shooting appear to have a different cause than gun violence generally.”

Whether the number of illegal guns in Germany is 10 million, 20 million, or 45 million is immaterial to this argument, and to the overall point just made, which is: “if the failure of gun control laws was the proximate cause of school shootings, why does this failure of some of the most restrictive gun control laws in Europe not lead to school shootings?”  So what if they failed 10 million times, or 20 million times, or 45 million times: they have still failed, a lot, yet there are no school shootings. Ergo the problems are separate.  If they weren’t, one would expect a frequency of school shootings pro-rated to one fifth of the frequency in US (that way household gun ownership between the two countries would be comparable).  But obviously that’s not the case.  Not even the 99.2% less than gun violence generally case.  Not even close.

(FYI the per capita statistic is irrelevant, both for Germany and the US.  What’s relevant is households with guns, and that proportion has been declining in the US even as school shootings have risen.  It doesn’t really matter that more guns are being concentrated in these fewer households because all a school shooter needs access to is one gun.  And that access, for minors, is the household, not the per capita amount or amount relative to population as a whole.  Those statistics are just red herrings.)

In any case, I’m done elaborating points at your expense because all I’m doing now is quoting myself on the ones you’ve missed.

 

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 10:54 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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22 May 2019 10:46
 

burt

The racial/ethnic demographics of school age shooters is the one piece of data I’ve noted conspicuously absent from all sources I’ve found.  But let’s assume for the sake of argument that white young males are disproportionately school shooters (I’m all but certain without seeing the sex data that males outnumber women, vastly, since males are responsible for roughly 90% of violent crime generally).  So, if disproportionately young white males, why?

The short of it is, I have no idea.  Whatever the explanation, it has to be intergenerational to some extent, I think; something common but increasing across several of them.  I’ve seen data on behavioral and psychological factors about Boomers, GenX, Millennials, and iGen (what this new one is being called), not related to school shootings per se, but just generally, and while there are clear up and down trends across these generations, I can’t see any connection to the self-regulation disorder than seems to me the almost self-evident basis of school shootings.  What in the American gestalt accounts for them?  Some specific technology or changing social-institutional structure?  Is there something specific to the schools themselves?  I just don’t know, and I can’t even come up with an anecdotal account of what the cause(s) might be (but no_profundia’s point seems as good a place as any to start).  Instead, it just seems possible to eliminate certain ones, like “availability” or “per capita” or “household” ownership of guns.  If we get that far, I think, we can start addressing the underlying problem.  As you’ve thankfully picked up on, that was my intent here.

Like I suggested to Skipshot, I think this can be done by focusing generally on self-regulation and a tendency toward ‘violence’ in general in school age kids across generations, absent making gun violence the primary issue.  If the focus were broader than guns (school shootings of course would have to be mentioned, being the elephant in the room)—say, instead, on bullying, fighting, suspensions, expulsions, etc.—then maybe we could put two and two together without running afoul of the idiotic Federal prohibition against funding gun violence studies.  I think the causes of school shootings are separable enough from gun violence generally to pull this off.  Anyway, I hope someone does this.

If you have any reference to the professional literature beyond stuff like the Lott/Levitt debacle, I’d love it.  This is not something I’ve really looked into, beyond what I’ve posted here. 

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 10:53 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Garret
 
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22 May 2019 11:57
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 22 May 2019 10:44 AM

Garret, I’m not really saying anything to you, much less hoping to convince you of anything.  I’m just elaborating on a point at your expense because you’ve missed it.  Your [sic] argument here has already been covered above.  I’ll quote the entire passage for your edification:

“…. extrapolating from the numbers, Germany has a household gun ownership rate roughly one fifth that of the US, plus an estimated 20-45 million illegal guns in circulation.  Ceteris paribus one would expect something like one fifth the per capita gun violence in Germany compared to the US, but it’s actually (in 2016) 14,415 deaths in the US versus 25 in Germany— 99.2% below the expected value. 

One explanation for this is that Germany and the US are not ceteris paribus because Germany has some of the strictest gun control laws in Europe, and the US gun control laws are comparatively lax—strenuously so.  And this is true.  But this explanation is unsatisfying as an explanation of school shootings because although these laws have clearly impacted overall gun violence in Germany (from 57% of homicides in 1995 to 8% in 2015), school shootings have never been the problem in Germany that they’ve been in the US.  As far as I’ve been able to tell, there is only a handful (less than 5) of school shootings on record. 

This suggests that although stricter gun control laws will reduce gun violence overall—as it clearly did in Germany—school gun violence among ages 5-18 is a separate problem.  Specifically, it’s a problem Germany’s never had, even when guns accounted for 57% of homicides (in the US today, guns account for 67%).

This suggests that new gun control laws aimed at gun violence generally will not impact school shootings, as these shooting appear to have a different cause than gun violence generally.”

Whether the number of illegal guns in Germany is 10 million, 20 million, or 45 million is immaterial to this argument, and to the overall point just made, which is: “if the failure of gun control laws was the proximate cause of school shootings, why does this failure of some of the most restrictive gun control laws in Europe not lead to school shootings?”  So what if they failed 10 million times, or 20 million times, or 45 million times: they have still failed, a lot, yet there are no school shootings. Ergo the problems are separate.  If they weren’t, one would expect a frequency of school shootings pro-rated to one fifth of the frequency in US (that way household gun ownership between the two countries would be comparable).  But obviously that’s not the case.  Not even the 99.2% less than gun violence generally case.  Not even close.

(FYI the per capita statistic is irrelevant, both for Germany and the US.  What’s relevant is households with guns, and that proportion has been declining in the US even as school shootings have risen.  It doesn’t really matter that more guns are being concentrated in these fewer households because all a school shooter needs access to is one gun.  And that access, for minors, is the household, not the per capita amount or amount relative to population as a whole.  Those statistics are just red herrings.)

In any case, I’m done elaborating points at your expense because all I’m doing now is quoting myself on the ones you’ve missed.

 

Okay, you aren’t trying to convince ME… are you trying to convince someone?  Do you think that they should be swayed by a fallacious argument?

Also, I don’t see household data for Germany.  But even households that owned guns, owned them at a rate similar to say 1970 America, that is still far fewer households owning guns in Germany.  For registered guns, only 2.5% of the population owns a gun, if we assume that no registered gun owner owns an unregistered gun, then we get to about 7.5% if the number of guns per person stays roughly consistent.  In comparison, the US 32% of people own a gun.

I am not claiming this is the primary, or sole, causal factor, but I think your dismissal of it as influencing the problem is illogical.  If fewer homes owned guns, fewer kids would be capable of shooting someone at school.  The rate would necessarily go down if the number of guns is reduced.

Your search for a SINGLE cause is fallacious.  In a country of 326 million people, it is far more likely to have multiple factors.

Using suicides statistics, we know that access to means directly impacts the number of suicides.  For example, when cities/counties/states, put in place safety devices that prevent people from jumping to their death, the suicides don’t shift to a different location (unless a very close proximity alternative is left unchanged), but the rate of suicide just goes down.  A similar thing is shown with guns.  States that enact Child Access Prevention laws see reductions not just in teenage gun suicides, but teenage suicides in general.

The fact that you haven’t even considered to compare states with different laws to prove your point tells me that you haven’t actually investigated this issue, but rather have relied on your own assumptions.  So, feel free to declare victory on me for all your sick burns, but you sound like someone who hasn’t actually researched the topic, but have declared yourself an expert.

 
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