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Mass Shooting in America

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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08 September 2019 18:23
 

I find myself in the unhappy position of supporting the right to bear arms as a matter of constitutional liberty and natural rights while at the same time being thoroughly disgusted and ashamed of America’s pro gun culture. Specifically the broadcast wing and those who repeat boilerplate cliches online. I tend to vote for public servants who endorse gun control even though I don’t because I cannot respect or endorse the politicians who pander to the ammunition enthusiasts. It is, in my opinion among the most toxic and stupid factions in this nation. I tore up all my memberships years ago. I’ve now reached the point where I can go either way. I don’t want a culture that prohibits its citizens from owning guns but I am equally unenthusiastic about a culture that seems to love guns more than it loves people. Both of these things are an active threat to liberty. The latter is possibly more so.

 
Billy Shears
 
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08 September 2019 19:21
 
burt - 08 September 2019 05:10 PM

The point is that it’s not an either/or issue. The examples you give are pretty flagrant, why not look at, say, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and Canada?

Partly because in some of those cases, you are comparing small, racially, ethnically, religiously homogeneous countries with one of the largest and most racially, ethnically, religiously diverse countries on the planet.  It’s an apples/oranges comparison.  But they’re not entirely ill-taken.  Yes, by all means, lets look at England.  It’s our mother country, and the one we share a language with, as well as our foundational political philosophy and tradition of individual liberty.  A hundred years ago, the right to keep and bear arms in England was as robust as ours was, as well as the rest of the civil rights we’ve come to take for granted here in the West.  Well, a century ago, mostly in response to the Red revolution in Russia, and out of fear of a similar one there, the Brits enacted their first gun control measures.  They ratcheted them up gradually, but consistently over the next several decades, until Dunblane, and they pretty much swept the last of their right to keep and bear arms away.  There is no written constitution and bill of rights there, parliament is sovereign, and they can legislate any right straight out of existence anytime they can drum up a majority.  And so, at the same time, their other civil rights have been slipping away.  The gun control measures have NOT had the promised effect on violent crime, which has been rising, and the natural response of the elites is to impose more controls.  And now they’ve banned not only guns, now they are banning knives, swords, even blow guns for Christ’s sake—how many crimes do you seriously think are being committed with blow guns?—and putting cameras on every street.  Big Brother is watching you.  And now?  Post a video on YouTube that offends someone, and the police will show up at your door.  Free speech is, make no mistake about it, under threat.  And three years ago, the British people voted, in the single biggest voter turnout in UK history, to leave the EU.  Three years later, it still hasn’t happened, and it’s not clear it ever will, because the political elites who were against Britain leaving have frustrated it at every turn.  This is what happens when a people surrender their rights: they end up with an arrogant, out of touch elite, ignoring the will of the people they’re supposed to represent.

burt - 08 September 2019 05:10 PM

But the NRA, as a tool of gun manufactures and the radical right, doesn’t want any sort of compromise at all. Of course there are a few total abolition nuts on the left, but most people want some sort of reasonable compromise to take place.

That would be a lot easier to believe if, from time to time, democrats actually listened to the other side.  They don’t!  Conservatives have all sorts of suggestions for dealing with this problem, including gun violence protective orders, expanding and improving NICS checks, more uniform enforcement of current laws (under which offenders are often simply not prosecuted), training teachers who volunteer under a program similar to the FFDO program.  No interest from the left.  None.  It’s always more restrictions.  More regulation.  More prohibition.  What can we take from you this time, or what will enable us to grow some federal apparatus?  And you’ve got democratic presidential candidates talking about mandatory confiscations.

[ Edited: 08 September 2019 19:26 by Billy Shears]
 
 
burt
 
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burt
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08 September 2019 19:30
 
Billy Shears - 08 September 2019 07:21 PM
burt - 08 September 2019 05:10 PM

The point is that it’s not an either/or issue. The examples you give are pretty flagrant, why not look at, say, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and Canada?

Partly because in some of those cases, you are comparing small, racially, ethnically, religiously homogeneous countries with one of the largest and most racially, ethnically, religiously diverse countries on the planet.  It’s an apples/oranges comparison.  But they’re not entirely ill-taken.  Yes, by all means, lets look at England.  It’s our mother country, and the one we share a language with, as well as our foundational political philosophy and tradition of individual liberty.  A hundred years ago, the right to keep and bear arms in England was as robust as ours was, as well as the rest of the civil rights we’ve come to take for granted here in the West.  Well, a century ago, mostly in response to the Red revolution in Russia, and out of fear of a similar one there, the Brits enacted their first gun control measures.  They ratcheted them up gradually, but consistently over the next several decades, until Dunblane, and they pretty much swept the last of their right to keep and bear arms away.  There is no written constitution and bill of rights there, parliament is sovereign, and they can legislate any right straight out of existence anytime they can drum up a majority.  And so, at the same time, their other civil rights have been slipping away.  The gun control measures have NOT had the promised effect on violent crime, which has been rising, and the natural response of the elites is to impose more controls.  And now they’ve banned not only guns, now they are banning knives, swords, even blow guns for Christ’s sake—how many crimes do you seriously think are being committed with blow guns?—and putting cameras on every street.  Big Brother is watching you.  And now?  Post a video on YouTube that offends someone, and the police will show up at your door.  Free speech is, make no mistake about it, under threat.  And three years ago, the British people voted, in the single biggest voter turnout in UK history, to leave the EU.  Three years later, it still hasn’t happened, and it’s not clear it ever will, because the political elites who were against Britain leaving have frustrated it at every turn.  This is what happens when a people surrender their rights: they end up with an arrogant, out of touch elite, ignoring the will of the people they’re supposed to represent.

burt - 08 September 2019 05:10 PM

But the NRA, as a tool of gun manufactures and the radical right, doesn’t want any sort of compromise at all. Of course there are a few total abolition nuts on the left, but most people want some sort of reasonable compromise to take place.

That would be a lot easier to believe if, from time to time, democrats actually listened to the other side.  They don’t!  Conservatives have all sorts of suggestions for dealing with this problem, including gun violence protective orders, expanding and improving NICS checks, more uniform enforcement of current laws (under which are often simply not prosecuted), training teachers who volunteer under a program similar to the FFDO program.  No interest from the left.  None.  It’s always more restrictions.  More regulation.  More prohibition.  What can we take from you this time, or what will enable us to grow some federal apparatus?  And you’ve got democratic presidential candidates talking about mandatory confiscations.

Regarding England, I doubt it’s as horrible as you paint it. Nevertheless, I recommend the film V for Vendetta. My point is that there is an acceptable compromise. Whether anybody can agree to get there is another question. But it it doesn’t happen then there will just be more mass killings and arming teachers, or running shooter drills in schools won’t do squat
. Living in Canada things seem pretty good, but I’ve got to admit that when I’ve been in Arizona I feel very nervous when, for example, I’m sitting in a book store or coffee shop and some guy comes in wearing a sidearm. Even in the old west some of the towns required people to check their guns at the edge of town.

 
Billy Shears
 
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08 September 2019 19:58
 
burt - 08 September 2019 07:30 PM

Regarding England, I doubt it’s as horrible as you paint it.

Oh it’s every bit as bad as I paint it.  The UK is still a very, very far cry from being some kind of police state, but it’s a lot less free than it was a century ago.  And crime’s worse despite all the additional controls.  It’s a textbook example of James Madison’s warning that liberty is lost more by “...abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”  You and I probably won’t live long enough to see the end of this road, but it’s tyranny if the Brits don’t take their freedom back.

burt - 08 September 2019 07:30 PM

Nevertheless, I recommend the film V for Vendetta. My point is that there is an acceptable compromise. Whether anybody can agree to get there is another question.

Well, I pointed out some of the things being proposed by the other side, and you pretty much threw them away unconsidered.  Yes, I do agree that compromise looks unlikely when one side views “compromise” as getting some of what it wants, while the other side gets none.

burt - 08 September 2019 07:30 PM

But it it doesn’t happen then there will just be more mass killings and arming teachers, or running shooter drills in schools won’t do squat.


Sorry, but I reject this assertion out of hand.  On just what expertise do you base it?  You see, we heard precisely the same claims when the FFDO program was under consideration.  It “wouldn’t do squat.”  It was dangerous.  It was likely to result in horrible accidents when some pilot who imagined he was Dirty Harry acted recklessly.  None of those alarmist warnings has been born out in practice.  Starting in 1987, we heard precisely those same sorts of things when states (starting with Florida), began making it easier for citizens to get concealed weapons permits.  It wouldn’t reduce crime, and people would be shooting each other at traffic accidents, in disputes over parking spaces, or in long lines at the grocery store.  Again, none of those alarmist warnings has been born out in practice.  And we are not ignorant of what happens when teachers are allowed to be armed—Utah is one state that already does.

On the other hand, we have seen, over and over and over again, these mass shooters, immediately upon being confronted with serious armed resistance, are either killed, surrender, or commit suicide.  And private citizens HAVE intervened to stop these monsters before they could kill even more people, Sutherland Springs, Texas, was just one example.  So why on earth should I believe you when you assert that an armed teacher who could confront one of these murderers would be totally ineffective?  The actual record suggests otherwise.  And meanwhile, we don’t have to guess how it might turn out when one of those mass murderers has a building full of helpless, unarmed victims to toy with.  We’ve already seen how that turns out.

burt - 08 September 2019 07:30 PM

Living in Canada things seem pretty good, but I’ve got to admit that when I’ve been in Arizona I feel very nervous when, for example, I’m sitting in a book store or coffee shop and some guy comes in wearing a sidearm. Even in the old west some of the towns required people to check their guns at the edge of town.

And yet the Gunfight at the OK Corral still happened.  The prohibition didn’t stop the Clantons, did it?  This is what I really can’t figure out—why you think this will work.  Why do you imagine a criminal intent on violence will obey a gun ban?  If someone is about to commit a couple of dozen felonies including murder, he really doesn’t care about the additional misdemeanor gun charge.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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08 September 2019 20:33
 

No one is arguing that psychopathic murderers will abide by regulations on firearms. That’s just a boilerplate NRA strawman. It’s older than I am.

The question is whether or not further regulations and restrictions on firearms and especially on certain types of firearms will result in fewer deaths overall. I think that given all the data we have on the link between total proliferation and total shootings its worth considering. Especially the number of shootings that have occurred with legally acquired weapons.

Truthfully, I wonder if this retort is in good faith? You seem smarter than that. No offense.

 
no_profundia
 
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08 September 2019 21:11
 

Yes, there are a lot of problems with the argument that gun laws won’t work because criminals won’t follow them:

1. Criminals don’t go around breaking all laws all the time simply because they are willing to break some laws. In fact, criminals in prison who were not carrying guns when they were arrested were surveyed and asked why and a large majority said because it was illegal. Criminals choose when to break laws based on risk and reward just like everyone else. Increase the risk and some will choose not to carry guns when the reward is small.
2. Lots of gun violence is not pre-meditated but happens simply because guns happen to be present. Someone gets into a fight, someone brandishes a gun, and to avoid being shot first someone else pulls a gun and someone winds up shot. Focusing only on the criminal who is on their way to commit murder and trying to decide whether such a person would be inclined to obey a gun law is a red herring (and isn’t it likely that whether a person already owns a gun or not might influence their decision on whether to commit murder?).
3. There have been studies done that suggest that a very high percentage of people who carry guns do so because they feel they need protection against other people who carry guns but would prefer if no one had guns. A law that reduced the number of people with guns would reduce or eliminate this incentive and, hence, further reduce the number of people with guns, further reducing the incentive, and so on.
4. Well designed gun laws are not predicated on the idea that criminals will willingly agree to follow them. They are meant to reduce the number of guns available to criminals which will raise the price. Whether criminals are willing to obey a particular law or not raising the price is almost certainly an incentive that will reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals.

And there is no reason to think there is any kind of causal relationship between the gun restrictions enacted in the UK (and the other countries you mention) and their later history (and I don’t agree that the UK is on the way to serfdom anyway). I think it is ridiculous to base our current policies on these kinds of long-term forecasts. There have been studies done where experts are asked to predict the future - in the Middle East, or wherever they are an expert. It turns out they do worse than chance. That means you would be better off throwing a dart at a dartboard if you want to figure out what was going to happen in the future.

It is possible that instituting gun restrictions today will make it easier for a country to fall into some kind of despotism in a hundred years. It is also possible that not instituting gun restrictions today will contribute in some way to a future fall into despotism. You can construct equally plausible (or implausible) stories for either scenario, and deciding which will happen is basically a matter of throwing a dart at a dart board, so I don’t think we should give a lot of weight to such long-term forecasts when deciding what policies to pursue.

I think we should base our gun policies less on what might happen 100 or 200 years from now and more on their likely effects on things like gun violence, suicide rates, homicide, school shootings, etc. in the more short-term future. That is something we can actually gather real evidence about. We can actually present some statistics rather than simply inventing stories.

 
 
Billy Shears
 
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08 September 2019 21:11
 
Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

No one is arguing that psychopathic murderers will abide by regulations on firearms. That’s just a boilerplate NRA strawman. It’s older than I am.

So how does that somehow make it invalid?  That’s clearly the implication you’re making, as indicated by your contemptuous use of the terms “boilerplate” and strawman.”

Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

The question is whether or not further regulations and restrictions on firearms and especially on certain types of firearms will result in fewer deaths overall.

And the evidence suggest that it won’t.  This is what the gun banners consistently ignore.  This is why they usually inflate their numbers by lumping suicides committed with firearms into gun deaths, which leaves people with the mistaken impression that the statistic represents murders.  It’s why, when they cite the number of “children” killed with guns, they very often lump gang-related juvenile shootings in, which causes people to take away the erroneous impression that thousands of small children every year are finding dad’s gun in the nightstand drawer and shooting themselves.

But will bans on certain types of firearms result in fewer deaths per year?  Actually the evidence suggests it won’t.  In fact, it suggests that there might actually be more.  The problem with defensive gun use is that it is exceptionally hard to quantify.  In the vast majority of cases, no shots are fired.  When a would-be mugger or rapist pulls a threatens someone and finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun, in most cases he flees.  Sensibly, he doesn’t want to be shot.  And many if not most of these cases are never reported.  Most people don’t want the hassle (as well as risk) of dealing with authorities.  So we can only estimate.  The high number is 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year.  Even the lowest usual estimate is around 800,000.  The very, very lowest estimate was put out by the Brady Center, which is a gun-ban advocacy organization with a definite agenda, and that estimate is still 108,000.  Compare that with the figure of around 16,000 firearm-related homicides (CDC) and you will see that ever with the absolute lowest estimates, promoted by the most biased, anti-gun organizations, defensive gun use outweighs gun-related deaths by a factor of almost ten to one.  The actual figure is almost certainly much higher, as the actual number of defensive gun uses is probably much, much higher than the lowest estimates.  So yeah, if you can actually make a gun ban work, you will probably prevent a number of homicides a year…  But you will also enable anywhere from five to ten times as many homicides per year (if not more) at that hands of criminals, because you have deprived honest citizens of their best means of defense.

Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

I think that given all the data we have on the link between total proliferation and total shootings its worth considering.

I agree.  Problem is people don’t seem to consider the actual data coolly, rationally, and dispassionately.  They are more swayed by emotional reaction.

Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

Especially the number of shootings that have occurred with legally acquired weapons.[/quote[
See above.

Truthfully, I wonder if this retort is in good faith? You seem smarter than that. No offense.


I am smarter than that.  I am smart enough to consider all the evidence—even that which may seem counterintuitive, or go against my preconceived notions.  The fact that you are already moving toward casting aspersions as to character, motive, intelligence or some other outside factor, on the other hand…  Well, it goes back to my earlier suggestion that maybe compromise is not possible.  And maybe that’s the case because one side is not prepared to be completely rational about the matter, but rather insists on engaging in self-righteous moral preening when its arguments are challenged with factual data.

 
 
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08 September 2019 21:27
 

The very, very lowest estimate was put out by the Brady Center, which is a gun-ban advocacy organization with a definite agenda, and that estimate is still 108,000.  Compare that with the figure of around 16,000 firearm-related homicides (CDC) and you will see that ever with the absolute lowest estimates, promoted by the most biased, anti-gun organizations, defensive gun use outweighs gun-related deaths by a factor of almost ten to one.  The actual figure is almost certainly much higher, as the actual number of defensive gun uses is probably much, much higher than the lowest estimates.  So yeah, if you can actually make a gun ban work, you will probably prevent a number of homicides a year…  But you will also enable anywhere from five to ten times as many homicides per year (if not more) at that hands of criminals, because you have deprived honest citizens of their best means of defense.

I don’t think banning particular sorts of guns would probably be the most effective policy but this argument above is seriously flawed for a number of reasons.

First, I suspect the number of DGUs is much higher than 108,000 but lower than the highest estimates. But they have done studies on DGUs and determined that a pretty high percentage of them would actually qualify as illegal. Most of the estimates are based on surveys where the survey responders answers questions about whether they used a gun in defense but many of these supposed “defensive” uses are not really defensive. I believe it was Philip Cook who conducted the experiments or gathered the data on this so I would recommend taking a look if you’re interested.

Second, when you say that banning guns would potentially enable five to ten times as many homicides you are assuming that every defensive gun use is a situation that would have resulted in homicide. In fact, the vast vast majority of DGUs are almost certainly not situations that would have resulted in homicide without the gun. I suspect every gun researcher would agree with that. The source for the higher estimates that you mention is Gary Kleck and I promise he would never claim that a gun ban would result in five to ten times as many homicides a year though he would argue that it might increase violent crime rates slightly. This estimate of five to ten more homicides is way off what the true figure would be. There is no data anywhere that would support such a claim.

I am smarter than that.  I am smart enough to consider all the evidence—even that which may seem counterintuitive, or go against my preconceived notions.

Since you are willing to consider data contrary to your intuitions I recommend reading Private Guns, Public Health by David Hemenway.

 
 
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08 September 2019 21:44
 
no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

Yes, there are a lot of problems with the argument that gun laws won’t work because criminals won’t follow them:

1. Criminals don’t go around breaking all laws all the time simply because they are willing to break some laws. In fact, criminals in prison who were not carrying guns when they were arrested were surveyed and asked why and a large majority said because it was illegal. Criminals choose when to break laws based on risk and reward just like everyone else. Increase the risk and some will choose not to carry guns when the reward is small.

And many will.  I can tell you, as a cop with more almost 20 years experience, the vast majority of people I ever arrested were locked up because they were shortsighted and completely lacked impulse control.  That’s the number one reason people get arrested: not because they’re intent on evil with malice aforethought, but because they’re too stupid/shortsighted to control their passions.  Their calculations are often not rational.  They’re emotional.

no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

2. Lots of gun violence is not pre-meditated but happens simply because guns happen to be present. Someone gets into a fight, someone brandishes a gun, and to avoid being shot first someone else pulls a gun and someone winds up shot. Focusing only on the criminal who is on their way to commit murder and trying to decide whether such a person would be inclined to obey a gun law is a red herring (and isn’t it likely that whether a person already owns a gun or not might influence their decision on whether to commit murder?).

Yes, lots of crooks have guns.  And they will willingly relinquish them when you pass a ban why?  Perhaps you could make an argument that we’d be better off with no guns out there (I would disagree, since that puts women, children, the elderly, the disabled, etc. completely at the mercy of criminals—who tend overwhelmingly to be young adult males; in other words the most aggressive and most physically capable segment of the population), but the reality is there are so many millions of guns already in circulation that getting them all is simply not a realistic proposition.  Guns are abundant, and criminals will have them because they don’t respect bans.  Deal with the facts as they are, not as you wish they would be.

no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

3. There have been studies done that suggest that a very high percentage of people who carry guns do so because they feel they need protection against other people who carry guns but would prefer if no one had guns. A law that reduced the number of people with guns would reduce or eliminate this incentive and, hence, further reduce the number of people with guns, further reducing the incentive, and so on.

See above.

no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

4. Well designed gun laws are not predicated on the idea that criminals will willingly agree to follow them. They are meant to reduce the number of guns available to criminals which will raise the price. Whether criminals are willing to obey a particular law or not raising the price is almost certainly an incentive that will reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals.

See above.  There are already as many guns in the US as people, and basically they don’t wear out.  I own firearms over a hundred years old that are still fully serviceable.  Military organizations may fire enough rounds through a weapon to wear it out.  Civilian owners really don’t.  And then there is the matter of arms smuggled in from outside.  And even if a gun ban can be effective, then you’re depriving women, the elderly, the disabled, etc. of their best means of defense against violent criminals, who are overwhelmingly young, adult males—the most physically capable, and most aggressive segment of the population.

no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

And there is no reason to think there is any kind of causal relationship between the gun restrictions enacted in the UK (and the other countries you mention) and their later history (and I don’t agree that the UK is on the way to serfdom anyway). I think it is ridiculous to base our current policies on these kinds of long-term forecasts. There have been studies done where experts are asked to predict the future - in the Middle East, or wherever they are an expert. It turns out they do worse than chance. That means you would be better off throwing a dart at a dartboard if you want to figure out what was going to happen in the future.

Hogwash.  No, experts can’t predict specific outcomes in the short term, which is what these unnamed “experts” of yours fail to do.  On the other hand we most certainly damn well can observe broad trends over thousands of years of human history, one of which is that ruling elites tend to gather more power unto themselves over time, and to hold onto it for all their worth.  The trend, throughout history, has been toward authoritarian rule.  Where people had freedom, they had to wrest it from the autocrats by force, and guard it jealously from further attempts at encroachment.

no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

It is possible that instituting gun restrictions today will make it easier for a country to fall into some kind of despotism in a hundred years. It is also possible that not instituting gun restrictions today will contribute in some way to a future fall into despotism. You can construct equally plausible (or implausible) stories for either scenario, and deciding which will happen is basically a matter of throwing a dart at a dart board, so I don’t think we should give a lot of weight to such long-term forecasts when deciding what policies to pursue.

See above.

no_profundia - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM

I think we should base our gun policies less on what might happen 100 or 200 years from now and more on their likely effects on things like gun violence, suicide rates, homicide, school shootings, etc. in the more short-term future. That is something we can actually gather real evidence about. We can actually present some statistics rather than simply inventing stories.

We can.  Problem is, as I indicated in my post just before this, people won’t be honest about the data.  To further their agenda, they massage the information.  List suicides among gun deaths and you can make people think there are more gun-related murders happening.  List gang-related homicides as gun-related “child deaths” and you can make people think that more preventable, tragic, child-negligent shootings are happening, when you are actually dealing with a violent, inner-city gang problem.  This is why people say “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  You can present numbers in a misleading way, so as to give a veneer of truth and legitimacy to data that is actually being used to deliberately lead people to an erroneous conclusion.  Even these mass shootings are misleading in that way.  They are horrific, and they understandably provoke a deep, visceral reaction.  But honestly, they are anomalies.  You could totally eliminate every mass shooting from now until Doomsday, and it wouldn’t have the slightest noticeable effect on the homicide rate, statistically speaking.  You are far more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to encounter a mass shooter.  You are orders of magnitude more likely to be killed or injured in a car accident.  Even as relates to crime, it is vastly more probably you will encounter a common mugger than you will a mass shooter.  But mass shootings are like airline crashes, and they frighten people for the same reason: they are spectacular, emotion-stirring, headline-grabbing events, even thought they are actually rare in the overall scheme of things.  People who are consequently terrified of flying drive everywhere without a second thought, despite being hundreds if not thousands of times more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash.  It’s much the same with mass shootings, horrible as they are; they aren’t the real threat around which we should base policy.

 
 
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08 September 2019 22:09
 

I need to go to sleep so I am going to make this quick.

And many will.

The question is not “Will lots of criminals still get guns if we institute policy X?” The question is “Will policy X significantly reduce the number of criminals with guns?”

There are lots of policies that have already been tried that have been relatively successful at the latter task. I recommend taking a look at the edited volume Reducing Gun Violence in America or simply doing a Google search for effective gun laws if you are interested in learning what types of policies have proven to be effective in this regard.

Yes, lots of crooks have guns.  And they will willingly relinquish them when you pass a ban why?

No one, I repeat no one claims that criminals are going to willingly relinquish their guns if a ban is passed. That is not how the laws are supposed to work. Again, if you are interested I recommend doing a Google search for effective gun laws or looking at the aforementioned book if you want to understand how gun laws actually are supposed to work. None of them rely on criminals lining up to hand in their guns.

Guns are abundant, and criminals will have them because they don’t respect bans.

Some criminals (or people who might become criminals) will respect a gun ban by not acquiring guns in the first place but no criminals need to for a law to be effective. If a gun law is successful in reducing the number of guns on the streets that raises the street price of guns and this reduces the number of criminals with guns. This is a simplification, but again, this does not require criminals to willingly obey laws to work.

Also note, I am not necessarily talking about a gun ban. I am not convinced gun bans are the most effective policy. I am simply talking generically about laws meant to reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals and there are all sorts of different laws that fall under that umbrella.

On the other hand we most certainly damn well can observe broad trends over thousands of years of human history, one of which is that ruling elites tend to gather more power unto themselves over time, and to hold onto it for all their worth.  The trend, throughout history, has been toward authoritarian rule.  Where people had freedom, they had to wrest it from the autocrats by force, and guard it jealously from further attempts at encroachment.

No one understands the political dynamics that lead to democracy or lead to its collapse. Simply pointing out that there has been lots of tyranny in history does not tell us about the causes of tyranny and it certainly does not suggest that restrictions on gun possession are going to be a major causal factor in future tyranny. Simply pointing out that lots of people have died of diseases in history does not tell us about the causes (or remedies) for disease.

Also, the dynamics in history are not purely circular. Things like demographics, national income, etc. were basically steady for most of human history but then went crazy around the start of the Industrial Revolution. We have never lived through a period of history like the one we are living through so predictions about the future based on the past are not worth much.

To put this point very simply: saying “power elites are always trying to gain control” (which I think is true though a huge simplification of historical dynamics) does not logically imply the statement “allowing private citizens to own guns will reduce the probability that a power elite will successfully gain power.” That statement might sound reasonable to you, it sounds somewhat reasonable to me, but what sounds reasonable to you or me is not a real strong basis for policy.

Sometimes it is all we have but when we also have stronger evidence suggesting a given policy will have lots of positive short-term effects I think we should give more weight to that. My point is not that we should completely ignore the long-term future but we should give far more weight to other considerations when thinking about policy. If we have good evidence that a policy will reduce the homicide rate, but we can invent a story that sounds plausible to a few people about how such a policy might lead to some catastrophe 200 years in the future, I don’t think we should let that stop us from instituting the policy.

Problem is, as I indicated in my post just before this, people won’t be honest about the data…

I am honestly not sure what the point of this last paragraph is. It is possible to lie with statistics. Agreed. So what? People on the right and left both engage in this. I honestly don’t know what your point is other than: we should be careful and try to understand the statistics correctly. I agree.

It’s much the same with mass shootings, horrible as they are; they aren’t the real threat around which we should base policy.

Well, I agree that we should focus just as much energy on reducing other forms of gun violence (and violence in general) as mass shootings but I don’t agree with simply subtracting the terror that mass shootings inspire from the equation and pretending mass shootings are insignificant because they make up a statistically insignificant portion of total murders. The terror they inspire, and collective grief, is also something we should care about.

This is not an either/or question: either we do something to prevent gun violence in general or we do something about mass shootings. We can do both and we should do both.

[ Edited: 08 September 2019 22:48 by no_profundia]
 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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09 September 2019 05:57
 

How about closing the the gun show (and other private transfer) loophole:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8/text

 
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09 September 2019 07:05
 

Welcome back, Billy.  I take your argument against gun restrictions boils down to a fear of a future without guns is worth:

10,000+ homicides and 20,000+ suicides by guns per year.
A general fear among everyone of someone with a gun who may take something the wrong way and shoot up the place.
Trusting mentally unstable people people guns (at least until they prove themselves mentally unstable and have their constitutional right to a gun removed with or without due process,
Getting away with killing someone with the facile excuse, “I feared for my life.”
Children as young as two killing themselves or others with an unsecured gun.
Schools holding live-shooter lock-down drills

I could go on, but you’ve made your point that a maybe-future apocalypse of endless suffering and horror is worth the human sacrifice today (which apparently has no limit or restriction on the number or how the sacrifices are made).  However, I remain unconvinced because we have heard the argument many times before:

Women can’t vote because. . .
Slavery must not end or else society will fall in a heap of ashes.
Blacks and Whites must not mix because. . .
Japanese need to lose their property and constitutional rights for their safety.
Allowing gays to live will bring God’s wrath down upon the country.
Witches are among us and will do great harm.
McCarthyism
The War On Drugs
Revelations in bible
etc.

Too many times the great predictions have been spectacularly wrong, and yours of guns reeks of the same boilerplate fear mongering.

Also, stop putting the word “ban” in our mouths.  That’s your word.  I have repeatedly called for removal of the right to own a gun and change the law to treating guns like every other country by requiring registration, insurance, and licenses to own them.  Keep your gun, but treat it like everything else which is dangerous to lives.

Has anyone checked the status of getting a gun from Australia’s black market?  Are they cheap and easy to get, or expensive and fraught with difficulty and risk?

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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09 September 2019 08:15
 
Billy Shears - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM
Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

No one is arguing that psychopathic murderers will abide by regulations on firearms. That’s just a boilerplate NRA strawman. It’s older than I am.

So how does that somehow make it invalid?  That’s clearly the implication you’re making, as indicated by your contemptuous use of the terms “boilerplate” and strawman.”

Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

The question is whether or not further regulations and restrictions on firearms and especially on certain types of firearms will result in fewer deaths overall.

And the evidence suggest that it won’t.  This is what the gun banners consistently ignore.  This is why they usually inflate their numbers by lumping suicides committed with firearms into gun deaths, which leaves people with the mistaken impression that the statistic represents murders.  It’s why, when they cite the number of “children” killed with guns, they very often lump gang-related juvenile shootings in, which causes people to take away the erroneous impression that thousands of small children every year are finding dad’s gun in the nightstand drawer and shooting themselves.

But will bans on certain types of firearms result in fewer deaths per year?  Actually the evidence suggests it won’t.  In fact, it suggests that there might actually be more.  The problem with defensive gun use is that it is exceptionally hard to quantify.  In the vast majority of cases, no shots are fired.  When a would-be mugger or rapist pulls a threatens someone and finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun, in most cases he flees.  Sensibly, he doesn’t want to be shot.  And many if not most of these cases are never reported.  Most people don’t want the hassle (as well as risk) of dealing with authorities.  So we can only estimate.  The high number is 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year.  Even the lowest usual estimate is around 800,000.  The very, very lowest estimate was put out by the Brady Center, which is a gun-ban advocacy organization with a definite agenda, and that estimate is still 108,000.  Compare that with the figure of around 16,000 firearm-related homicides (CDC) and you will see that ever with the absolute lowest estimates, promoted by the most biased, anti-gun organizations, defensive gun use outweighs gun-related deaths by a factor of almost ten to one.  The actual figure is almost certainly much higher, as the actual number of defensive gun uses is probably much, much higher than the lowest estimates.  So yeah, if you can actually make a gun ban work, you will probably prevent a number of homicides a year…  But you will also enable anywhere from five to ten times as many homicides per year (if not more) at that hands of criminals, because you have deprived honest citizens of their best means of defense.

Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

I think that given all the data we have on the link between total proliferation and total shootings its worth considering.

I agree.  Problem is people don’t seem to consider the actual data coolly, rationally, and dispassionately.  They are more swayed by emotional reaction.

Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

Especially the number of shootings that have occurred with legally acquired weapons.[/quote[
See above.

Truthfully, I wonder if this retort is in good faith? You seem smarter than that. No offense.


I am smarter than that.  I am smart enough to consider all the evidence—even that which may seem counterintuitive, or go against my preconceived notions.  The fact that you are already moving toward casting aspersions as to character, motive, intelligence or some other outside factor, on the other hand…  Well, it goes back to my earlier suggestion that maybe compromise is not possible.  And maybe that’s the case because one side is not prepared to be completely rational about the matter, but rather insists on engaging in self-righteous moral preening when its arguments are challenged with factual data.

Fair enough. I should not have personalized it. I’m happy to retract and apologize for that bit.

On point of concept. It is absolutely is a straw man when its offered in retort to statements that are not claiming the contrary. In my OPINION it is a hasty and convenient generalization crafted to appeal to the intuition of people who are settled in a particular ideology.

Further, it is a speculative digression in a conversation about killings done with legally acquired fire arms. The frequent implication seems to be that persons who commit crimes with legally acquired fire arms would not be diminished if they had to seek them through the black market or steal them.I don’t think that has been demonstrated at all. OR, that repeat offenders generally disregard the law in regards to fire arms. I don’t think either case has been demonstrated.

I will concede that there is a lot of self righteous moralizing but its absolutely false to say that it’s ‘one side’.

I guess I’m just weary of the phrases we’ve all committed to memory. Every polarized social issue has it’s set of ready made talking points. The ones you see on bumper stickers. I think we all know them by heart at this point. Even if they were true they simply add nothing to the conversation.

 

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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09 September 2019 08:43
 

The argument that an armed population either insures non-infringement of civil rights or is a necessary prophylactic for maintaining them made sense in 1789, where the population would be armed with the same weapons as the standing army, but it is patently ridiculous in modern nation states, where the military has weapons and training so far in excess of the population that armed insurrection of the later against the former is a non-starter.  Every man, woman and child in the US could have a legal weapon and this would only marginally diminish the power of the state relative to “the people.”  For the argument to work, “the people” would need military-grade weapons, and even that wouldn’t offset the lack of military training.  If modern history shows anything, it shows that the failure of the state to monopolize military power makes “the people” worse off, not better.  What made sense as a “well-armed militia” in 1789 is utter nonsense today. Put another way, faith in civil rights is not insured through the barrel of a gun.

I think that gun control experience in Germany is instructive—but not decisive—for the US, and the argument that Germany is religiously and ethnic homogeneous and the US is religiously and ethnically diverse is a non-starter because it presumes without evidence that this diversity is the root cause—on in any case a principle cause—of gun violence in America.  And the evidence suggests the contrary.  In any case, Germany’s modern gun control laws went into effect in 1972, and while I can’t find data for 1972-1994, in 1995 there were 804 gun homicides but by 2015 there were only 52.  While it’s unclear that gun control laws specifically account for the decline, it’s clear that something had an impact, and gun privileges as opposed to gun rights is a likely candidate (Germany continues to be relatively well-armed, not to US standards, but then their gun violence is disproportionately lower despite that difference as well). 

To own a gun in Germany one must be 1) 18 or over, 2) “trustworthy”, 3) “personally adequate”, have 4) “expert knowledge,” and ownership must be a 5) “necessity” (and hunting qualifies).  However 2-4 are determined for them, it seems to satisfy both gun owners and the people at large, as even more controls have been put in place since 2002, yet gun ownership has not declined and complaints have not increased.  To own a gun in the US, one need only not have a criminal record (age for purchase varies by state). 

However, the experience of Germany noted, every military-aged male in Switzerland has a fully-automatic assault weapon in his household, and there were only 14 gun homicides in 2017.  To be comparable to US rates, there would be need to be 373.  So, a better armed population than the US has 1/26th of its gun violence; thus gun violence seems far more complicated than “gun control,” or a the lack thereof.  Something cultural—or in any case specific—to the US is driving its gun violence, not just the availability of guns.  And of course, not likely a single causal factor…. 

Crime in the UK:

Violent crime peaked in 1995 (about when it peaked here) and has declined since—from 4.2 million violent crimes to 1.32 million in 2015 (and this in conjunction with a 7 million increase in population). From 2015-2019 there has been no significant change in overall violent offenses, any only marginal increases and decreases in specific categories of offenses.  As such, it is hard to see how “crime’s worse despite all the additional controls” in the UK.

[ Edited: 10 September 2019 11:51 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
burt
 
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burt
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09 September 2019 08:44
 
Billy Shears - 08 September 2019 09:11 PM
Brick Bungalow - 08 September 2019 08:33 PM

I think that given all the data we have on the link between total proliferation and total shootings its worth considering.

I agree.  Problem is people don’t seem to consider the actual data coolly, rationally, and dispassionately.  They are more swayed by emotional reaction. And maybe that’s the case because one side is not prepared to be completely rational about the matter, but rather insists on engaging in self-righteous moral preening when its arguments are challenged with factual data.

One of the main reasons we don’t have really good data on gun use and gun violence is that under the thumb of the NRA, congress has prohibited the CDC and other agencies from studying gun violence. And your comment about people being more swayed by emotional reaction and not being completely rational cuts both ways, but I’d guess that it’s more characteristic of the folk who are terrified that the government is going to take their guns away and put them in internment camps. People on both sides cook their data and engage in self-righteous moral preening. Do you really believe that background checks, registry, and insurance are going to lead to a totalitarian state, or is that just a slippery slope sophism? The examples you gave (e.g., Venezuela, 1920s Germany) all involve far more powerful economic, political, and other social factors. Here’s my own slippery slope: it I’m worried about a totalitarian government taking over I don’t just need military style assault weapons, I need grenades, mortars, tanks, a few nukes, some cruise missiles and more. So why can’t I have them?

 
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