Built on Facts

Carrying Guns on Campus

Greg Laden responds to the recent change in policy allowing teachers with concealed carry permits to carry in one particular public high school in north Texas should they so choose. If only the teachers had guns…. (Texans = Morons). Here’s CNN’s original story.

The school is a 30-minute drive from the nearest police station, and the board decided that it was better to have somebody armed than waiting so long for the police to respond. Greg does not think this is a good idea, to put it mildly. Neither do most of his commenters. I have another perspective.

Every public college in Utah allows faculty and students to carry on campus if they have a state concealed carry license. So does Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia and Colorado State University. None have ever had a shooting.

Texas and more than 30 other states have had concealed carry laws for years. Anyone who has no criminal record may take a training class, pass a proficiency test, and get a permit to carry a pistol almost anywhere in public. When those laws were first proposed, gun control advocates predicted blood in the street and shootouts over parking spaces. Those specters have completely failed to materialize, and violent gun crime by concealed carry permit holders is statistically negligible.

Further, school shootings have been stopped by gun-carrying students and teachers. While it would be neither legal nor wise to allow underage high school students to carry weapons, the simple fact of the matter is that every day millions of legally licensed civilians carry firearms in the US without committing crimes. It has been estimated that those same civilians prevent numerous crimes every day. The fever dream of license-holders suddenly snapping and shooting has simply not happened. Teachers have not been exceptions. Nor has there been any outbreak of bystanders caught in crossfire.

This is a site where we’re supposed to discount magical thinking. Let’s not let snap emotion get the best of us when the facts point in the opposite direction.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike
    August 16, 2008

    I wish i could get a concealed carry here in CA, but i guess I’m just lucky to be able to purchase firearms….for now

  2. #2 Braxton Thomason
    August 16, 2008

    Kudos, Matt.

    While in general I agree with a lot of the scibloggers on science-type issues, it’s nice to see at least one that isn’t against gun rights.

    I’ll never comprehend how people can be for so many individual rights, such as gay marriage or freedom of speech, and then turn around and blatantly want to deny other rights.

  3. #3 Matt Hussein Platte
    August 16, 2008

    The fundagelical equivalent argument goes something like, “without religion there would be no morality…”

  4. #4 Lorax
    August 16, 2008

    Come on, is this really a good argument. Schools X, Y, and Z have allowed guns and have had no shooting deaths, ergo guns = awesomeness! How about schools A, B, and C that havent allowed guns and have had no deaths, ergo guns are definitely not necessary.

    We can argue that the Columbine and VT shootings may or may not have resulted in fewer deaths if the teachers were packing, but I do not believe it is reasonable to argue that those shootings would not have happened. The perpetrators did not plan on surviving the encounter.

    Should we also completely ignore the fact that in this country many more innocents are killed by guns by other innocents than guilty are stopped by innocents. Pulling out a case were a person wielding a gun helped but not including the thousands of times a person wielding a gun hurt is poor at best.

    Finally, the right to bear arms is in the bill of rights. But lets not forget the capacity of firearms at the time or the idea of militia in the absence of a standing army. Nope lets simply assume the founding fathers meant exactly what we want them to mean and then conflate the right to bear any and all arms at all times with the right to speak freely and the right to legally protect your significant other. By the way, being against some gun policy does NOT mean you are against all gun rights. I only see that type of argument from nut jobs used to communicating with idiots not people interested in healthy discourse.

  5. #5 Aaron
    August 16, 2008

    Should we also completely ignore the fact that in this country many more innocents are killed by guns by other innocents than guilty are stopped by innocents.

    The same can be said for knives, baseball bats, hammers, and pencils.

    The sad fact is that violent people will be violent regardless of whether they have a gun, a knife or a hammer. People in general need to understand that having or not having guns will not stop violent crimes nor will it stop people from killing other people.

    Nor will banning guns keep people from dying. Most terrorists kill people without guns, the most infamous serial killers killed people without guns, and people in prisons kill each other in the most ingenious ways without ever touching a gun.

    Banning a tool that kills, and a gun is nothing more than a tool, isn’t important because people will figure out how to do it regardless of what other tools are around.

  6. #6 Ace of Sevens
    August 16, 2008

    The theoretical problem isn’t that a license holder will snap and start shooting, it’s that they will overreact to something and also that it’s destructive to the learning environment.

  7. #7 Matt Springer
    August 16, 2008

    Should we also completely ignore the fact that in this country many more innocents are killed by guns by other innocents than guilty are stopped by innocents.

    Per the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, that’s not actually even close to true. Definitive stats are hard to come by, but this survey of several studies indicates that there are between 1 and 3 million defensive gun uses per year in the US. The vast majority do not result in shots fired, most shots don’t hit, and most hits aren’t fatal. As a result, the total number of fatal defensive shootings is low. Accidental gun deaths are also quite rare compared to other forms of accidental death.

    The vast majority of firearm deaths are from suicide and murder. The suicide rate of the US is lower than Canada, the UK, and most European nations so I’d rate it as unlikely that guns as a tool cause many suicides that would otherwise not have happened. The murder rate is largely the result of a truly stupid urban drug policy coupled with dysfunctional urban criminal justice and education systems.

  8. #8 nj
    August 16, 2008

    school shootings have been stopped by gun-carrying students and teachers.

    And mass shootings have not been stopped when armed and trained police have been present.

    millions of legally licensed civilians carry firearms in the US without committing crimes

    And in 2001, there were just under 30,000 firearms-related deaths, along with over 200,000 injuries. There are lots of people pulling triggers out there…

    Banning a tool that kills, and a gun is nothing more than a tool, isn’t important because people will figure out how to do it regardless of what other tools are around.

    So, how about you grab a knife, a baseball bat, a hammer and a pencil? Give me a 9mm, and we’ll stand 25m apart. Guess who is seriously injured first.

    Firearms supporters focus on the rare tragedies that may or may not be minimized by a higher density of armed people. But the real question is how to go about minimizing all firearms-related deaths and injuries.

    Believing that adding extra firearms to a country saturated with them is tantamount to believing that adding extra salt to a saturated solution will suddenly make more dissolve. So who is guilty of magical thinking here?

  9. #9 Matt Springer
    August 16, 2008

    Nj, a chemistry analogy and handwaving is magical thinking. Data is not. From the last link in my list:

    American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 134, No. 11: 1245-1260
    As compared with Americans, Canadians in the 1970s possessed one tenth as many handguns per capita. To assess whether this affected the total criminal homicide rate, the mean annual criminal homicide rates of Canadian provinces were compared with those of adjoining US states for the period of 1976 to 1980. No consistent differences were observed; criminal homicide rates were sometimes higher in the Canadian province, and sometimes higher in the adjoining US state. Major differences in the prevalence of handguns have not resulted in differing total criminal homicide rates in Canadian provinces and adjoining US states. The similar rates of criminal homicide are primarily attributable to underlying similar rates of aggravated assault.

    The other links provide relevant and more recent data as well.

  10. #10 penn
    August 16, 2008

    Oooh, fun with selective study citation:

    From the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Factsheet: Firearm Injury and Death in the United States

    Among 36 high-income and upper-middle-income countries, the United States has the highest overall gun mortality rate, 8 times higher than in other high-income countries. The hospitalization costs associated with firearm-related injuries in 1997 exceeded $800 million. In 2001, homes with guns were three times more likely to have a homicide of a household member than in homes without guns; the risk of suicide of a household member increased by about five times for homes with guns.

    Also, the claim that murderers will murder with whatever is at hand neglects the fact that most murders are aggravated, and killing with a gun is a lot easier than a knife. Incidents of domestic violence are 12 times more likely to result in death if a gun is involved.

  11. #11 Betsy
    August 16, 2008

    It’s also true that thousands of schools across the country BAN guns on campus and have not had a shooting. The number of shootings on college campuses is incredibly small in the first place, and living in fear that you will be attacked by a troubled 20-something while taking or teaching a college class isn’t healthy… or very much related to reality.

  12. #12 Matt Springer
    August 16, 2008

    The number of shootings on college campuses is incredibly small in the first place, and living in fear that you will be attacked by a troubled 20-something while taking or teaching a college class isn’t healthy… or very much related to reality.

    Attempting to prevent a full-blown school shooting is a very secondary goal – though an important one. The main one is just your basic, everyday self-protection. I did my undergrad at LSU, and we had violent crime on campus every semester despite the best efforts of the campus police. Last year two Indian graduate students were murdered in their on-campus apartments. LSU is a gun-free zone.

  13. #13 dkw
    August 16, 2008

    Okay, the Kleck and Gertz article used a phone survey asking about defensive gun defense use. There was no conditioning in the survey for dealing with cases where there was only perceived defensive use. Basically, anytime the respondent had a gun and it made them feel safer, they could respond as positive for defensive usage. If they shot at a shadow in the woods (or even brandished a gun at a shadow in the woods), that’s a defensive usage.

    Defensive gun usage statistics derived from police reports gives a much smaller number per year. I would imagine this number is more relavent, because if it was a serious crime that was prevented, it would be reported.

    Gun rights people love the Kleck and Gertz paper, while other find it deeply flawed.

    Finally, regarding your comment about the Indian grad students: don’t be all smug about statistics (“chemistry analogy and handwaving is magical thinking. Data is not”)and then use anecdotal evidence as a claim.

  14. #14 GAZZA
    August 16, 2008

    I have no real opinion on this – like most Aussies (and Europeans, I suspect), we’re all a bit bemused by the whole gun thing you Yanks seem to have.

    But there was an offhand comment @11:
    “It’s also true that thousands of schools across the country BAN guns on campus…”

    That just blows me away (pun intended). Not that it’s banned at thousands of schools; rather, the inverse implication – that there are apparently some schools where guns are not banned on campus.

    Even if you’re totally pro gun rights, surely nobody thinks it’s a good idea for teenagers to be packing heat?

  15. #15 Gelf
    August 16, 2008

    How many accidental gun discharges are there each year?

  16. #16 Winawer
    August 17, 2008

    Matt, if you’re going to drag Canada into this, let’s get a few things straight. First, you kill a lot more people with handguns down there than we do:

    Canada has always had stronger firearms regulation than the United States, particularly with respect to handguns. In Canada, handguns have been licensed and registered since the 1930�s, ownership of guns has never been regarded as a right and several court rulings have reaffirmed the right of the government to protect citizens from guns. Handgun ownership has been restricted to police, members of gun clubs or collectors. Very few (about 50 in the country) have been given permits to carry handguns for “self-protection.” This is only possible if an applicant can prove that their life is in danger and the police cannot protect them.

    As a result, Canada has roughly 1 million handguns while the United States has more than 76 million. While there are other factors affecting murder, suicide and unintentional injury rates, a comparison of data in Canada and the United States suggests that access to handguns may play a role. While the murder rate without guns in the US is roughly equivalent (1.8 times) to that of Canada, the murder rate with handguns is 14.5 times the Canadian rate.

    For that matter, though my skimming the stats suggests that Texas has a murder rate at least double that of Alberta. Hmmm…

    And as for your implication that places with concealed guns can are safer, my undergrad at the University of Alberta had exactly zero shootings, and we don’t carry guns around.

  17. #17 Noadi
    August 17, 2008

    How many of the people reading this have been in a highschool recently enough to have faced the ridiculous levels of “security” which some schools have. Requiring students to walk through metal detectors, searching their bags, etc. My high school started along those lines when I was attending and when I returned there as a substitute teacher it had reached that level. I should mention these measures were put in not because the school had had any serious incidents, but solely through fear. Students in many schools already feel like prisoners and for many students it kills any desire they might have had to be in school.

    Now this school doesn’t just want a police officer (which students generally respect and expect to be armed) but their own teachers now may be armed. Good job making the kids feel more like they are criminals just for being young and in school. It may not be aimed at students but they will see it that way regardless. hose who don’t see it that way will at the least believe that school is a dangerous, terrible place to be. What do you think that will do to their desire for college?

    The chances of a school being attacked is minuscule, probably less likely than being struck by lightning. For that tiny chance this school is willing to make what should be a learning environment one of irrational fear.

  18. #18 Matt Springer
    August 17, 2008

    That just blows me away (pun intended). Not that it’s banned at thousands of schools; rather, the inverse implication – that there are apparently some schools where guns are not banned on campus.

    Even if you’re totally pro gun rights, surely nobody thinks it’s a good idea for teenagers to be packing heat?

    The universities I mentioned allow concealed carry by licensed students, and you have to be 21 to get a license. High schools don’t contain any students of that age, of course. I am not even aware of any high schools other than the one in this article that allow carrying by anyone at all, including license holders.

    Re #16’s Canada stats, read the study comparing demographically similar cross-border Canadian and American communities. The murder rates show no correlation with gun ownership. Texas has a much different demographic profile and thus will have very different crime characteristics. Alberta’s suicide rate is much higher than that of Texas, would you attribute that to guns as well? And though the University of Alberta had no shootings (LSU had only that incident in my four years), it’s not exactly violent crime free.

    Re #13, I was responding to the claim that danger on campus was not “very much related to reality”. That’s an objectively testable statement, and only needs a counterexample. If you want statistical data though, here’s “gun-free” LSU’s crime stats.

  19. #19 CCPhysicist
    August 17, 2008

    You must be trying to build up your advertising revenue. ;-)

    So you wouldn’t mind if that kid failing your class was sitting there in the front row with a 9mm when you handed back the latest exam?

    As others pointed out, the statistical argument is pretty bogus, and they didn’t notice that your second example comes from a foreign country with universal service and where a cop also participated in killing the perp. Or that Utah is not New Jersey. Even your state had a memorable day down at the Texas Tower, one my Aunt will never forget. The difference between the response back then and the response last year is that the US has become ruled by fear, and fear mongers, magnified by every local TV station showing news about a rare occurrence that you never would have heard about 50 years ago.

    I can’t believe how much money our college is spending on Safety. It is a serious fraction of our budget. And now that they have the ability to disrupt class for every tornado watch 3 counties away, it will be interesting to see how much class time we will lose to cries of wolf.

    Quoting surveys of responses based on magical thinking is not scientific. Look at how many people still believe the racist e-mails that were circulated about Obama being a Muslim.

    I’d much prefer if the law required UN-concealed weapons. I always liked it better when I was in a state where you could carry a gun in a holster. You knew who was armed, and they had to check their guns going into a pizza parlor if it served alcohol.

    I’ll also observe that your answer in a previous blog about a related topic
    http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2008/08/theres_a_long_list_of.php#comment-1045809
    indicated you would consider the situation before shooting. That is why some civilians, not to mention the highly trained policeman who was the father of a former student, sometimes lose in those confrontations.

  20. #20 Matt Springer
    August 17, 2008

    Heh. :) No, actually I only wrote the GPS post because it was both interesting and safely uncontroversial by ScienceBlogs standards. This one I wouldn’t have written but for the topic having been brought up so inflammatorily elsewhere on the site. If Greg had said “Hey this is a bad idea”, I would have disagreed but passed over silently. “Texans = Morons” at least requires some defense.

    The UT Bell Tower shooting was an awful horror, but that too was an instance where armed civilians helped mitigate the scope of the tragedy. Wikipedia has a cited quote from Texas Ranger Ray Martinez, on the scene: “I was and am still upset that more recognition has not been given to the citizens who pulled out their hunting rifles and returned the sniper’s fire. The City of Austin and the State of Texas should be forever thankful and grateful to them because of the many lives they saved that day. The sniper did a lot of damage when he could fire freely, but when the armed citizens began to return fire the sniper had to take cover. He had to shoot out of the rainspouts and that limited his targets. I am grateful to the citizens because they made my job easier.”

    As for the failing kid, well, there’s nothing to stop him from being armed as it is. He’d be breaking the law, but if he plans to shoot me I’d say the comparatively minor firearms law violation isn’t going to deter him much. And as I noted a bit above, violent crime by permit holders is pretty close to nonexistent.

    I know I won’t change any minds, and in all likelihood neither will Greg’s opposite perspective post. I just felt that the pro-gun-rights perspective needed some balancing airtime. Either way, I promise to keep a lid on the politics for a while. Physics is more fun. ;)

  21. #21 razib
    August 17, 2008

    This is a site where we’re supposed to discount magical thinking. Let’s not let snap emotion get the best of us when the facts point in the opposite direction.

    matt, frankly, this is a load of crap. you are quite clearly supposed to accept magical thinking and conform to liberal cultural orthodoxy, OK? guns are evil. “facts” are irrelevant in the face of evil. get with the program :-)

  22. #22 Rob Schneider
    August 17, 2008

    I’m researching gun laws and statistics to figure out my own stance on the subject; I try not to have strong opinions on things until I’ve looked into them. The studies you liked to look interesting, I plan on looking over them carefully when I’ve had more sleep.

    Who, in your opinion, would you say gives the best, most reasoned stance for civillian carry and permissive gun laws, and who gives the best and most reasoned stance against the same? Thanks.

  23. #23 JM
    August 17, 2008

    Matt, your expositions of elementary physics are accurate, concise and erudite.

    Social policy? Not so much. Give it a miss, ok?

  24. #24 Ged
    August 17, 2008

    As a Brit I find this argument fascinating. It’s like listening to a discussion of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. You all seem to miss the point.

    The very idea that so many people would want be allowed to carry a firearm in public within a supposedly civilized society is deeply alarming.

    I can understand that law enforcement agencies need to have an armed response do deal with crazies but that should properly be viewed as a necessary evil. The fact that ordinary police officers are routinely armed in the USA and ordinary citizens feel compelled to carry weapons for ‘protection’ suggests to me that something is very wrong in US society.

  25. #25 Waterdog
    August 17, 2008

    As a Canadian my sentiments basically echo those of commenter #24. Matt, I enjoy your posts but you are definitely doing some selective citation here, as is everyone. Whether guns are a symptom or the disease I don’t know, but everyone carrying around tools that are specifically designed to kill other people seems antithetical to the whole idea of society.

  26. #26 PeterMorgan
    August 17, 2008

    Built on selected facts? In something as complex as the consequences of gun law and enforcement, it’s pretty abundantly clear from the above, if not from common sense before the fact, that different data strikes different individuals as particularly relevant.

    It sometimes seems not sufficiently recognized that Physics also involves heavy selection of facts (this claim is of course unsupported by data, maybe only 12.4% of Physicists and 19.6% of non-Physicists think that Physics is just facts). Particularly significant is the selection of what experiment we will carry out and what observations we will make of the experiment. For an apparatus with 10^20-something degrees of freedom, we collect a few megabytes of data (OK maybe gigabytes or terabytes, but big data-generating experiments probably have 10^30-something degrees of freedom and run for months; anyway, there are infinite DOFs in a field theory). It’s certainly true that by restricting ourselves to the domain of spheres thrown in a vacuum near a single large mass, the calculations of what will happen are simple and accurate, but real experiments require much heavier lifting.

    At a different level of analogy to this gun posting, it’s not so much what data we take in an experiment as how we write the paper, what papers editors select, and what papers we find interesting enough to cite. Even more fun is whether we talk about Charlton Heston or Peter Woit as if they make sense or not.

    I guess this is a little off the topic of the posting, but I’ve got used to this blog mostly being about reassuring and uncomplicated Physics. Facing the real world was never part of my Physicist mask, but perhaps it’s good to be confronted sometimes. On guns — I’m English, living in the USA — I feel more comfortable in the UK with relatively few guns carried by petty criminals.

  27. #27 Ramel
    August 17, 2008

    Wow, I’m so glad I’m British…. Ged is right, Americans seem to have a truly warped view on guns. And claiming that carrying a hand gun, a tool designed with the single purpose of ending life, is a right is seriously screwed up. Always remember: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but they would kill fewer people if they only had a teaspoon.

  28. #28 student_b
    August 17, 2008

    What Ged said.

    The idea of arming civilians is quite crazy, seen from an European perspective.

    Even though I come from a country where every second adult male has an assault rifle at home (per law even), the idea that carrying guns in daily life is somehow necessary is unbelievable fucking crazy.

    I dunno, but usually when people have to carry arms to defend themselves, such a place is considered to be a failed state where lawlessness rules and not a modern 21th century democracy…

    Really, sometimes you US-Americans amaze me quite a lot. -_-

  29. #29 Winawer
    August 17, 2008

    Re #16’s Canada stats, read the study comparing demographically similar cross-border Canadian and American communities. The murder rates show no correlation with gun ownership. Texas has a much different demographic profile and thus will have very different crime characteristics. Alberta’s suicide rate is much higher than that of Texas, would you attribute that to guns as well? And though the University of Alberta had no shootings (LSU had only that incident in my four years), it’s not exactly violent crime free.

    Matt, let me get this straight: you’re saying in the above quote that murder rates (as shown by the single study using 30 year old data) have no correlation with gun ownership. Yet you’re claiming in your initial post and subsequent comments that introducing concealed guns will help prevent murders and shootings through defensive gun usage, which would imply that gun ownership should have been inversely correlated with gun ownership. Can you comment on this?

    As to suicide, well, no, I would attribute suicide rates to the risk factors for suicide. There are plenty of ways to commit suicide, just as there are plenty of ways to commit a murder. And I never said that the U of A had no violent crime, so please don’t attack an argument that I’m not making. I just said that we’ve never had a shooting, despite our lack of gun-toting citizens.

    All this aside, I echo a previous comment when I say that I love coming to your blog – I think your physics posts are brilliant, even if I completely disagree with your ideas on gun policy.

  30. #30 Winawer
    August 17, 2008

    Gah, forgot to close the blockquote. If you wanted to edit that, that would be fine. :-)

  31. #31 David Marjanovi?
    August 17, 2008

    Even though I come from a country where every second adult male has an assault rifle at home (per law even)

    You’re Swiss, right? Switzerland has the draft, and the soldiers are expected to keep their guns at home.

    I’m from Austria, and here are my 0.02 €:

    – It seems to be ridiculously easy to buy a gun illegally in the USA. In that situation, how much sense does it make to talk about restrictions on getting one legally? Over here, the black market is so small that bank robberies are almost never committed with guns — toy guns are popular instead.
    – A gun-free zone in the middle of a place that’s awash in guns either needs airport-level security or is a tragicomedy (like Virginia Tech for example).
    – I don’t understand people who say they want a gun to protect themselves. What if the other guy draws faster? Do Americans as a principle not consider that possibility? Why isn’t a bulletproof vest an option? Surely it isn’t because kevlar was invented so long after Samuel Colt’s death?
    – More importantly, comment 28 is right. I was shocked to learn that in vast parts of the USA, even “bad neighborhoods” in big cities, the police don’t come if you call them, or only come after half an hour. Over here, they come within five minutes, period. If you haven’t got enough police for that over there, hire and train more. What for are you paying taxes? If the state can’t do anything for you, why bother having a state? Why not just live in anarchy like Somalia?
    – More police would also help make it possible to take the black market out.

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?
    August 17, 2008

    Incidentally, what you and I should probably see is a discussion by Germans about speed limits. You see, the best highways in Germany do not have speed limits, and this is defended the same way as universal gun ownership in the USA: freie Fahrt für freie Bürger — “free driving/freedom of movement for free citizens”. Occasionally leads to really spectacular accidents when collisions happen at 180 km/h or more.

  33. #33 Nomen Nescio
    August 17, 2008

    the more i read of our British and Continental commenters, the happier i get to have emigrated from there to the USA. i basically agree with mr. Springer; legal, licensed gun ownership may be however scary-seeming to foreigners, but in real-world statistics, it seems to do no harm. why not then allow it?

    the couple of percent of people who’ll go to the trouble to get licensed and (maybe) carry will be happy to be allowed, and judging by the stats, they won’t cause any real harm. let them be happy, unless you can prove it actually hurts the rest of us somehow. pearl-clutching and scandalized gasping about how it doesn’t seem “civilized” is indeed magical thinking.

  34. #34 Anonymous
    August 17, 2008

    Matt-

    From #18: “Re #13, I was responding to the claim that danger on campus was not “very much related to reality”. That’s an objectively testable statement, and only needs a counterexample. If you want statistical data though, here’s “gun-free” LSU’s crime stats.”

    Oh my god! LSU has crime!!! I didn’t know.

    All sarcasm aside, every single major college has violent crime. Even University of Utah and Utah State University (which have guns) have reported violent crime. They may be less than LSU, sure, but to support that guns are causal factor for this you need to look at the crime rates of the university versus the crime rate of the individual city it is in at the very least. Utah’s cities have notoriously low crime rates versus the average for cities of similar size.

    Universities are more often scenes of crimes than their surrounding cities due to the students being, on average, more affluent and to the open nature of the campus where strangers can just wander in. Add to this a lot of socializing and alcohol consumption of the students, and universities are a very attractive target for criminals.

    So yes, universities (including LSU) have crime. But throwing out a single example of violence at a gun-free school does not make your case at all.

    Here’s a link that shows crime statistics for some colleges and universities: http://www.securityoncampus.org/crimestats/index.html

    In regards to your post #12: Note in 2005, University of Utah (public Utah school, has guns) had 10 instances of violent crime (probably some each semester). Yet I wouldn’t claim that invalidates your pro-gun stance. I’m just saying some of the arguments you’ve thrown out don’t necessarily support your case either.

  35. #35 dkw
    August 17, 2008

    Oops, #34 was me.

  36. #36 Braxton Thomason
    August 17, 2008

    All of this arguing about statistics is stupid.

    The simple fact is that the government shouldn’t be allowed to limit *my* freedom because of how someone else might or might not abuse that same freedom.

    Arguing that guns should be illegal on the basis that some people might misuse them is just as stupid as arguing that cars should be illegal because some people drive drunk. Or, arguing that drugs should be illegal because some people OD or do otherwise stupid/illegal things while high.

  37. #37 MartinM
    August 17, 2008

    The simple fact is that the government shouldn’t be allowed to limit *my* freedom because of how someone else might or might not abuse that same freedom.

    Quite right. Nuclear warheads for all!

  38. #38 Braxton Thomason
    August 17, 2008

    Quite right. Nuclear warheads for all!

    I’ll take “Fake Slippery Slopes” for $500, please.

  39. #39 MartinM
    August 17, 2008

    I’m sorry, the correct answer was ‘what is an example of reductio ad absurdum?’ Thanks for playing.

    The simple fact is that the government can and does limit your freedom because of how someone else might or might not abuse that same freedom, where such abuse carries a sufficiently high cost. Hence all the arguing about statistics.

  40. #40 Braxton Thomason
    August 17, 2008

    MartinM: Please give me an example of where government *should* limit my personal freedoms (and I don’t want to hear anything like “The government limits your freedom to kill other people”).

    Saying that the government “can and does” limit my freedom is not an argument to give the government more power. That’s an argument to give the government less power, and in favor of more liberty.

  41. #41 Thinking Conservative Atheist
    August 17, 2008

    Utah’s cities have notoriously low crime rates versus the average for cities of similar size.

    I wonder why that is?

    From where I sit it seems obvious that in those states that restrict gun ownership (and you know who you are) the elites are concerned about certain groups getting too much access to guns, but of course, they can’t come out and say that some groups are not allowed to buy guns, because that would be racist.

    BTW, the groups the elites are concerned about are not the melanin challenged ones and not the East Asians.

  42. #42 CCPhysicist
    August 17, 2008

    I don’t believe that you would not call campus security if you saw an F student sitting in class with a legally permitted weapon on display on the day you were going to return an exam that would confirm that he would never get into his planned career.

  43. #43 Matt Springer
    August 17, 2008

    Well, your scenario is actually a few different scenarios. Under current real-world state law, there are no legally permitted weapons in class at all so I’d call the police. If hypothetically the law were changed to allow concealed carry, I’d still call the police because a visible weapon would still be against the law. Under many state concealed carry laws including those of Texas, your gun may not be visible at all unless your life is directly and immediately threatened.

    Under the extremely hypothetical legal open carry on campus scenario (there is no open carry anywhere in Texas under current law), I’d probably call security if he hadn’t previously made a habit of openly carrying. If he had, I probably wouldn’t unless he seemed like a disturbed person. As with the Virginia Tech shooter, it’s usually pretty obvious.

  44. #44 Onkel Bob
    August 17, 2008

    The elephant in the room has not been mentioned: competence. I carried a sidearm for 4 years but let me assure you, I was the last person you wanted with that damn thing. I had to carry it by virtue of position – NCO of Day – rather than occupation, such as an MP. (Communications sites were isolated and so required one person on command/operation staff to carry a sidearm) If the need to use a weapon arose, I would have been running for the telephone (or the M16 in the armory rack) rather than try to handle a pistol on which I barely qualified. Although a concealed weapons license requires a “competence” test, it is far less than the military training I received, and orders of magnitude less than a typical police officer receives.
    So what level of competence will you require? Responding to a situation as dire as an armed assailant requires a great deal of skill. An amateur is more likely to inflict more damage by hitting bystanders and creating confusion as to who is the “bad” and “good” guy. Wouldn’t the better solution to employ a small qualified staff, able to respond within reasonable time and capable of, if not handling any situation, at least holding it until the cavalry arrives? The reliance on an unknown, the dependence upon a person carrying a weapon, trusting that person to be able handle their weapon and the situation seems dangerous to me. You may have confidence in yourself, but how do you prove that the surrounding populace? How will disparate responders coordinate their efforts? Your citations are all in order, however, are the data complete?
    Weapons have traditionally been banned from certain places where people gather. It’s one thing to have your weapon in your private space, even when in public, e.g., your car; it’s another matter completely when you’re in a common area acting as an independent protector of society.

  45. #45 Aaron
    August 17, 2008

    Just a final comment more on the form of comments than the actual topic: the gun argument is WAY too emotional with ridiculous scenarios being concocted so that there is no answer but the posters. These logical fallacies have no place in a serious debate especially not in an academic/scientific community.

  46. #46 Nomen Nescio
    August 17, 2008

    An amateur is more likely to inflict more damage by hitting bystanders and creating confusion as to who is the “bad” and “good” guy.

    considering how concealed carry laws have liberalized over the past couple decades, if this concern was valid, i would think we ought to have seen such things happen by now. can we perhaps mine the FBI’s data for evidence for or against it?

  47. #47 Ski
    August 17, 2008

    I haven’t a formal education, nor can I claim that I’m particularly bright, but isn’t it the case that the odds that someone will be shot at in an environment that allows guns to be brought in increase dramatically over the odds of someone being shot at in an environment that doesn’t allow for such weapons? If not, please point out the evidence to me.

  48. #48 Onkel Bob
    August 17, 2008

    [I] would think we ought to have seen such things happen by now. can we perhaps mine the FBI’s data for evidence for or against it?

    Therein lies the rub – there are no reliable data points or places to begin. How do you account for illegal gun use and why should we exclude that weapon usage in the inner city? Are not the situations similar? The presence of a “license” does not change the situation enough to disregard in the analysis; weapons are being discharged between two or more persons. In those cases, bystanders and otherwise innocent targets are often hit. Otherwise, there are too few instances where a random shooting occurred along with a civilian armed response to determine a trend or predict outcome. (The former is an example where assailants seek a particular target – the more common situation.)
    You may be willing to take that chance, to attend or be employed at such a school, I am not of the same persuasion. I live in a nation of idiots, that’s the only explanation I have for the fools we elect.

  49. #49 Nomen Nescio
    August 17, 2008

    Onkel, i — and you, back in comment #44 — were talking specifically about legal gun ownership and carry, not illegal such. your concerns about illegal weapons use and the inner cities seems non-sequiturish.

    those two situations are not similar, for the same reasons that me withdrawing money from my bank account is not similar to Willie Sutton robbing the bank. the intents are dissimilar, the goals are dissimilar, and the psychological constraints on the people involved are dramatically dissimilar.

    quite frankly, arguing that violent criminals are necessarily “similar” to law-abiding citizens who simply happen to own and use the same tools is offensive. would you compare police officers to armed robbers, by the same logic? i see no reason your argument should not hold equally well (badly) for that comparison, also.

    perhaps there is no reliable statistical data to decide this issue on. let’s not, however, ban every conceivable activity for which we can find no reliable data to indicate whether or not the activity in question is actually harmful. ignorance should be a reason to investigate further and try to dispel our ignorance, not a blanket license to ban whatever we’re ignorant about.

    as for competence, by all means let’s ask concealed pistol permit holders to pass the same qualification tests as the police in their locality does. i would have no objection to that level of stricture, and off hand i can’t think of any reasonable way to argue against it.

  50. #50 DDS -- NRA Endowment member
    August 17, 2008

    Some interesting comments from both sides of this “debate”, and as usual a few rants from the religious zealots on both sides. Please allow me to throw in one puzzling fact I have found in a few of the studies I have read: American civilians seem to be shooting more bad guys and fewer innocent bystanders than our police officers do. Would we all be safer if we disarmed the police and encouraged more of our responsible civilians to carry?

    Also, some 230 years ago we decided we had had enough with the european way of doing things, and struck out on our own course. One of the european posters said they were often “surprised” by our behavior. Good! I hope we continue to surprise you.

  51. #51 Onkel Bob
    August 17, 2008

    @NN – If I understand the argument correctly, the contention is that we should allow concealed weapons to be carried in a public space that is generally considered weapon free zone. The need for the weapon is to “protect” us (not the individual, but society as a whole) from the lone shooter. This lone shooter will appear and start discharging his (it’s always a guy!) weapon(s) and the surrounding populace is at risk. Our knight with a weapon will as quickly appear and dispose of the danger.
    My argument is the introduction of weapons is excessive. The fear of the criminal is overstated, the confidence in the knight is unwarranted. The example of two shooters is indeed similar in that there are two people firing weapons among bystanders. One person has no regard who they hit, the other is intent upon hitting the first. The presence of the second weapon may or may not resolve the situation; however, it will undoubtedly increase the number of rounds flying. As for the comparison of law abiding or criminal citizens, there is no restriction from the criminal being a crack shot and the citizen being unable to hit the side of a barn or vice versa. As for law enforcement /security /police, it’s their occupation. They train on a daily basis to deal with such situations. When does the knight receive his training? How often is he subjected to refresher training and competency testing? What indemnity should society offer to this person. Who assumes the risk of failure – which in this case is terminal.
    Again, therein lies the rub, how do I obtain the right to not have the knight protect me? You have confidence in the knight that I do not share. Society has agreed that we hire people to perform that task, and I am willing to accept the risk of the lone shooter. What you are demanding is that I also accept the risk of the errant knight. That’s where we disagree.

  52. #52 Ged
    August 18, 2008

    The comment below seems to pretty well define the pro gun argument:

    #36

    All of this arguing about statistics is stupid.

    The simple fact is that the government shouldn’t be allowed to limit *my* freedom because of how someone else might or might not abuse that same freedom.

    Arguing that guns should be illegal on the basis that some people might misuse them is just as stupid as arguing that cars should be illegal because some people drive drunk. Or, arguing that drugs should be illegal because some people OD or do otherwise stupid/illegal things while high.

    The purpose of a car is to get you from A to B. The fact that it can also be used as a deadly weapon or cause injury through irresponsible use is secondary. What is the purpose of a gun? Oh yeah, to cause death or injury. It has no other purpose. It is inherently dangerous. Why would a civilised society allow its citizens to carry something whose only purpose is to facilitate a violent act?

    Really, this stance is so much like the one religious folks take in defending the faith – sweeping statements about the rights of the individual with no regard to the reality of the situation. What about the right of ordinary people not to be surrounded by deadly weapons?

  53. #53 Joseph O'Sullivan
    August 18, 2008

    Are the spree killings at schools good arguments for or against gun control?

    These mass killings are incredibly horrific, but the odds of them happening are astronomically small. If arguments are going to be based on facts not emotions shouldn’t the discussion revolve around statistically significant events?

  54. #54 Andrew
    August 18, 2008

    First up, bias and opinion proclamation, I think “concealed carry laws” and such like can be classified under the “fucking stupid” header, and so don’t think they should exist at all.

    However, having said that I also think that if you *are* in a legal jurisdiction that allows such thing then people who are properly trained and licensed should be able to carry in schools as well. My thinking being that I don’t see how that is inherently more (or less) dangerous than those people carrying in any other public space with a high concentration of kids – for example a shopping mall.

  55. #55 Nomen Nescio
    August 18, 2008

    if you’re done beating your straw men, Onkel, perhaps you can set aside your contentions and listen to the arguments i’m actually making?

    one: places “generally considered” to be “weapon free” are no such thing. unless you’ve got airport-style security barriers and inspections, they are places where people who obey social rules and taboos do not knowingly bring weapons, no more.

    two: most people have no desire to protect anybody but themselves and perhaps their immediate family from anything. i know i’m too much of a coward to intervene on behalf of anybody else; most others would term that prudence. if you want third-party help, you should indeed rely on the police. the question is what one is to do until he police can arrive. they aren’t posted on every streetcorner, and i wouldn’t want to live in a country where they could be.

    three: i’m not worried about lone shooters. i’m worried about scenarios of attack that i know actually happen; read your local police blotter for what’s most likely to happen near you. recounting what’s going on near me would not be interesting to you.

    four: wishing to own weaponry is not only nor exclusively any reaction to fear of anything. guns have other uses than defense, after all. carrying guns is a behavior with just about no other acceptable use that i know of, yet still many who do it (i myself do not) phrase their reasons more in terms of preparedness than fear. i see no reason not to take their words for it.

    five: your attempts at justifying your analogizing the police to the criminals are not convincing to me. you’re still not taking into account the differences in mindset between the attacker and the defender, much less between the criminal and the law-abiding. and where do you live, that your police officers get daily firearms training? i want to see some evidence for that claim — it’s wholly remarkable, in a world where most police departments do not practice shooting even monthly!

    six: let me restate my agreement to have concealed carry licensees subject to the same practice requirements and indemnifications as police officers, no less and no more, respectively. that seems quite reasonable to me, although were i such a licensee, i think i’d practice rather more than my local cops have to. i know they don’t go to the range monthly, which i’d take as a personal minimum.

    seven: how do you get “the knight” to not appear to help you out of a sticky spot? i’d recommend not calling the police, and they likely won’t come to your aid. simple.

    (hitherto unstated assumption of mine: there’s no radical difference between police officers and the rest of us. cops merely get paid for doing, and are expected always to do, what the rest of us would consider stupidly courageous to do. all of us can enforce the law, or at least try to; the police are only unique in that they seldom get sued for failures or overreactions in doing it. that, and their testimony usually carries more weight in court than ours does.)

  56. #56 Nomen Nescio
    August 18, 2008

    What about the right of ordinary people not to be surrounded by deadly weapons?

    where on earth would anybody get such a right?

    if you have that right, and yet see a deadly weapon regardless, who do you sue for the negligence in allowing it near you?

  57. #57 Kelson
    August 18, 2008

    I don’t know if I like teachers carrying guns for the sole reason of it making for a seemingly more hostile learning environment. However, that being said, a “gun free zone” where even law enforcement cannot be armed (many of our universities are this way, including my own UT and we have a horrible crime rate in east and west campus due to armed robberies by non-UT students because campus is only separated by a highway to the east from a very shady part of town) can lead to completely disastrous events. Armed trained members of law enforcement may not be able to stop the deaths of a few but in most cases should be able to stop the deaths of many. Furthermore, here in Texas concealed carry licenses require extensive training and registration. I agree with gun control but not with gun banning. If citizens are properly trained, registered, licensed with good mental and criminal background checks, I see no problem with them owning or carrying a gun.

  58. #58 Chris P
    August 18, 2008

    Oh great – lets move forward in society back to the old days of the gunslinging west.

    Why do Americans have to carry lethal weapons?

    Is this only way to solve problems? Most people are killed by relatives with guns.

    Not a solution for the future.

  59. #59 Braxton Thomason
    August 18, 2008

    Ged said:

    The purpose of a car is to get you from A to B. The fact that it can also be used as a deadly weapon or cause injury through irresponsible use is secondary. What is the purpose of a gun? Oh yeah, to cause death or injury. It has no other purpose. It is inherently dangerous. Why would a civilised society allow its citizens to carry something whose only purpose is to facilitate a violent act?

    No, you moron, the only purpose of a gun is not to cause death or injury. First off, you’re discounting “death or injury” as a legitimate use of a gun – self-defense for example.

    Second, shooting a gun is just fun. Target practice, skeet shooting, and other things are enjoyable on their own as tests of skill. Just because you don’t enjoy doing that, doesn’t mean that other people don’t. You seem to be saying that only strictly utilitarian things should be allowed. Let’s outlaw television!

    Third, many things are “inherently dangerous” — it’s not the government’s job to be your goddamned mother. Motorcycles are far more dangerous than a car, and carry no practical value (not talking about gas-effecient scooters) – do you want to outlaw them? I mean, the only purpose of a motorcycle is to go fast and be dangerous. Screw those people that enjoy riding them!

  60. #60 Ged
    August 18, 2008

    No, you moron….

    Ok, I’ll have one last go and then give up. No, I’m not discounting self-defence. I think you are confusing legitimacy with legality.

    I agree that target shooting is fun, I’ve done it myself but I don’t see the connection between that and carrying a gun in a public place. You don’t take a gun into a school for target practice. You carry it because you think others have them and you might need to use it in self-defence – isn’t that right? That is kind of my point.

    Just like a car a motorcycle’s primary purpose in a public place is related to transport. A gun has no legitimate purpose in a public place other than within a violent context.

    What is wrong with a society that allows people to carry guns in public places is not the fact that it is within the law, it’s the fact that people want it to be within the law. That is the difference between legality and legitimacy.

  61. #61 Nomen Nescio
    August 18, 2008

    What is wrong with a society that allows people to carry guns in public places is not the fact that it is within the law, it’s the fact that people want it to be within the law.

    i note you’re a Brit.

    you are, of course, perfectly free to think and believe whatever you please about the society we have here in the United States. but as a matter of political pragmatism, the rhetorical approach you’re using is extremely unlikely to convince any American of anything other than your rudeness and presumption. by U.S. standards, you — being an outsider — are being rude and presumptuous, in attempting to tell us not only how we ought to be running our society, but that the way we’re currently running it is inherently wrong and harmful. (without, i note, any real supporting evidence or logical argument, other than your own feelings on the matter.)

    you’re acting out the Ugly American stereotype in reverse, with the twist that Americans suffer it a lot less gladly. the likely reaction is going to start at discounting your opinion out of hand, and get rapidly more insulting from there. (as, i see, you have noticed.)

  62. #62 Chris P
    August 18, 2008

    Nomen

    That’s funny about being glad you came from Great Britain. I don’t know anybody (personally) that has shot somebody or been killed there.

    Several people I know in the US have either shot somebody or been killed.

    I think that is bad. The statistics are pretty clear – more relatives die from other relatives than in any other country bar none.

  63. #63 Nomen Nescio
    August 18, 2008

    clarification: i immigrated to the USA from a European country, but not from Britain. my decision to immigrate here had nothing to do with personal security, and indeed i’m not significantly more or less safe where i live today than where i came from. nor, i believe, have i made any arguments based on my personal level of risk, threat, or safety. i do not need to resort to such.

  64. #64 MartinM
    August 19, 2008

    Target practice, skeet shooting, and other things are enjoyable on their own as tests of skill. Just because you don’t enjoy doing that, doesn’t mean that other people don’t.

    Well, I enjoy building nuclear warheads.

    Seriously, do you have any arguments that don’t apply equally to weapons of mass destruction?

  65. #65 Nomen Nescio
    August 19, 2008

    Well, I enjoy building nuclear warheads.

    are you any good at it, or are you just dabbling in that hobby? how big a bang did your best design make?

    the reason this slope isn’t slippery is that target shooting is not inherently dangerous to bystanders. messing with WMDs (or even plain old explosives, if you’re not bloody damn careful) is. this is why target shooters can proudly show off their best grouping, whereas you can’t show off your best nuclear warhead; shooting a group can be done safely without harming anybody, but your nuke cannot be tested (can’t even be built, actually) without risking mass death.

    yours, then, is not a valid reductio ad absurdum after all; it is a slur intended to equate firearms with things they do not actually compare to.

  66. #66 MartinM
    August 19, 2008

    Ah, so you’d have no objection to me building and owning a weapon capable of killing millions if, hypothetically, there existed a completely safe way to construct and store it?

  67. #67 Nomen Nescio
    August 19, 2008

    Martin, that, and you’d have to convince me you could be trusted not to abuse it or use it recklessly. which convincing might be harder than finding a safe way to build and store it. (i’m all for multilateral nuclear disarmament, because looking at several of the governments that currently hold those arms, i’m far from convinced of their reliability.)

    but once you’ve stacked on all those hypothetical catches, then yes, i would hypothetically allow you to own a nuke. precisely because, once you’ve added all those on, then there is (hypothetically!) no longer any significant difference between that nuke and a regular firearm. of course, by then it isn’t really a nuclear weapon any longer, now is it? real nukes aren’t like that, and that was the point i was making!

    (George Orwell made a similar point way back in 1945, only he made it better. google “You and the Atomic Bomb”. though i’ve said it before, i’d like to second for the record Orwell’s ideas about weapons being inherently democratic or inherently tyrannical, depending on their complexity and cost.)

  68. #68 Matt Springer
    August 19, 2008

    While the nuke issue is a definitely a red herring given that even wealthy and well-equipped governments have difficulty building them, since we’re talking hypothetical situations how about this one:

    Two hundred years from now spaceflight has become cheap and humanity has spread throughout the solar system. Some very rich eccentric child-at-heart decides he wants to put on a nuclear firework show in the inky blackness between the asteroid belt and the orbit of Jupiter. Assuming an extremely secure way can be found to make sure the nukes are transported safely and only used at the fireworks site, why not?

    The problem is not the weapon itself – there are civilians in university labs near you now with biological agents that can kill billions, in theory. The problem is simply one of making sure the proper use of the dangerous thing is done with care proportionate to the danger. Right now that’s completely impossible with nuclear weapons. But in a hypothetical situation like the one a paragraph up, it could be done in theory.

  69. #69 Andres Villarreal
    August 19, 2008

    Having armed people in an environment where almost all the danger factors are already under control is different from giving weapons to most of those who ask for them. I am not surprised that people who live in a very protected environment, where few people are drinking like there is no tomorrow, and few husbands are finding their spouses in bed with others, will have a change from negligible shootouts to negligible shootouts.

    In the population in general things are different. You will find contradicting statistics everywhere.

    But please distinguish between the right to bear arms and the right to bear arms anonymously. If you do the course, get a permit for one specific firearm, leave some fired rounds and caskets for future forensic comparison and leave your gun outside your own reach when you drink, you might be a part of the solution. If you are one of those who can only read “the right to bear arms cannot be infringed” you are part of the problem.

  70. #70 Amar
    August 19, 2008

    As someone who by most people would be considered a ‘bleeding heart liberal’, i am not against personal gun ownership. However, I just do not think that guns are controlled enough here in the US. Like i said, i have no problem with people owning guns, the only stipulation is that they must be responsible with them. I think #69 is the first person to touch on the personal responsibility side of this argument. Because of the potential danger that the gun poses to the community, the level of expected personal responsibility for that gun and its use (whether by the owner or someone else) should be correspondingly high. So, similar to other very prevalent potentially dangerous objects which we use everyday such as vehicles, guns should be registered, insured, and monitored regularly. Your car must be checked for smog levels, manufacturers are fully regulated and must issue recalls when defects are found, you must pass driving skills and written tests at fairly regular intervals, as far as i know, none of these things apply to gun owners. that is a shame.

  71. #71 Matt Springer
    August 19, 2008

    Amar, you’re right that dangerous objects should be treated with respect. That’s why gun buyers have to pass a background check.

    Some of the car analogy doesn’t work, however. Vehicle registration serves zero safety purpose, it only exists as a tax. Gun registration would be a tax at best and a way to confiscate guns at worst. It wouldn’t serve to reduce crime at all. For that matter, you don’t have to pass driving or written tests to maintain a driver’s license. At age 23, I’ve passed a driving and written test exactly once, at age 16 when I was first licensed. Under current law I will never have to pass a test again. I’m not sure there’s any state that retests drivers.

    Unlike the considerably more dangerous act of driving a car, carrying a concealed handgun in most states (including Texas, my state) does require regular retraining and retaking the written and proficiency exams.

    Gun manufacturers are fully regulated, and in fact many manufacturers are legendary for their quality. Heck, it’s easily true that most semi-automatic handguns are actually of European manufacture and regulation in the first place. Glock, Walther, SIG Sauer, Beretta, Heckler & Koch, you pretty much name it.

  72. #72 Ged
    August 20, 2008

    #61 …the rhetorical approach you’re using is extremely unlikely to convince any American of anything other than your rudeness and presumption. by U.S. standards, you — being an outsider — are being rude and presumptuous, in attempting to tell us not only how we ought to be running our society, but that the way we’re currently running it is inherently wrong and harmful.

    I concede that is a fair point and well articulated. I’ve no wish to be rude and I apologise to anyone I’ve offended. You guys have the right to run your country as you wish. That doesn’t mean I don’t stand by my argument but I agree I don’t have the right to demand you listen to it.

  73. #73 Willy
    August 20, 2008

    #71:Matt Springer sez:
    That’s why gun buyers have to pass a background check.

    Um, that background check is only for dealers making a sale. I sell you a gun on a private sale basis? No check (or checks), just cash and carry. Anyone can get a gun at any time. I had students who could get me anything if I so desired.

    I don’t think this question has been asked yet: Have you ever been shot at? Standing up, whipping out your Glock and returning fire is a nice dream until you got live fire heading your direction. Everybody’s a hero until the time comes to actually be one.

    You wanna see what everybody having guns available to settle grievances looks like? Get thee in the middle of a gang drive-by.

  74. #74 Matt Springer
    August 20, 2008

    Private sale of a firearm to a person not qualified to buy one is a serious crime. While some criminals do manage to get guns via straw purchase, theft is the most common route.

    No, I’ve never been shot at. I never hope to be. I hope to go my entire life without defensive gun use. But the whole point is that you don’t use a gun unless you have no other choice – there’s no “being a hero”. If you’re being violently attacked, you will either have the means to defend yourself or not. Simple as that.

    And finally, that’s not even close to what “everybody having guns available” looks like. Chicago, LA, and NYC are effectively gun-free. Texas has issued almost 300,000 licenses. Florida has issued more than a million. Neither looks like a gang drive-by. Concealed carry has little effect on urban crime either way because criminals have guns regardless and the vast majority of the law-abiding don’t bother to carry concealed. (15,045 permits out of almost 4 million residents in Harris County (Houston))

  75. #75 Nomen Nescio
    August 20, 2008

    Um, that background check is only for dealers making a sale. I sell you a gun on a private sale basis? No check (or checks), just cash and carry.

    but how exactly could this ever be prevented?

    it could, of course, be outlawed. that would not work well as a prevention measure, however, as drug laws show.

    i would personally support making the National Instant Check System available for private sellers (it is currently not possible for private individuals to run a background check on potential buyers of their firearms, which seems stupid to me), perhaps even making it mandatory. but criminal buyers aren’t using legal means to get weaponry right now, so that would not stop them either.

    as far as i know, it’s already illegal even for a private person to sell a firearm to somebody the seller either knows or reasonably should have known to not be allowed to own a firearm. if by some chance that isn’t illegal, in my opinion it should be. but, again, that won’t prevent a thing; criminals do not purchase from sellers who would respect any such statute.

    You wanna see what everybody having guns available to settle grievances looks like? Get thee in the middle of a gang drive-by.

    because everybody behaves just like gangsters, and there’s no more responsible or sensible way to handle firearms than what homicidal criminals display during the commission of (attempted) premeditated murder.

    do you really not see how offensive your statement is to lawful gun owners?

  76. #76 Nomen Nescio
    August 20, 2008

    i have to add to my last comment, because i’m getting steadily angrier: Willy’s claim is not just an insult to lawful gun owners, it’s an insult — if we take him at his word — to everybody. his implication is that everybody, if given access to firearms, would abuse them in the manner of gangbangers doing drive-by shootings, and that such behavior is what we should expect out of the general population if only they had the tools (guns) to do it with.

    how is that not a base slur on everybody and anybody who ever decided to rein in their temper and obey the laws? regular people do not act like that, and frankly i don’t see how we could ever hope to build anything resembling a civil society if indeed they did. yet something vaguely resembling a civil society is exactly what we have built, so at least Willy’s claim would seem to be incorrect on the face of it.

  77. #77 Willy
    August 21, 2008

    Nice straw men folks. I’m not advocating a ban on weapons, just pointing out that everyone having weapons raises the chances someone getting hurt. If you don’t see that well it’s your myopia.

    So what good is a personal weapon to a citizen? Give me a situation where you would find carrying a gun useful. How does carrying a weapon make your own discourse with fellow citizens more civil? What makes you think that carrying a weapon is needed?

    Since you’re so hot on statistics, why is it you feel so vulnerable when the crime rate is much lower than 30 years ago?
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/viort.htm
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/house2.htm

  78. #78 Dunc
    August 21, 2008

    You wanna see what everybody having guns available to settle grievances looks like?

    Go visit Somalia.

    but how exactly could [unchecked private sales] ever be prevented?

    How about a national gun registry? If you sell a gun, you have to provide the buyer’s details to change the registration. If they buyer is ineligible, you get the book thrown at you, so it’s in your interests to check. If you don’t transfer the registration and the gun is subsequently used in a crime, it’s your responsibility. If the gun is lost or stolen, you have to register it as such.

    This is pretty much how it works with vehicle registration in the UK, and it appears to work.

  79. #79 Bexley
    August 28, 2008

    “#36
    All of this arguing about statistics is stupid.

    The simple fact is that the government shouldn’t be allowed to limit *my* freedom because of how someone else might or might not abuse that same freedom.

    Arguing that guns should be illegal on the basis that some people might misuse them is just as stupid as arguing that cars should be illegal because some people drive drunk. Or, arguing that drugs should be illegal because some people OD or do otherwise stupid/illegal things while high.”

    The Government does limit your freedom for the good of society and in ways I suspect you’d have difficulty arguing against.

    Why are people required to pass tests before being allowed to drive cars? Surely this is a restriction of the right to drive cars (for incompetent drivers) for the good of the rest of society.

    Therefore the argument is about whether the benefits to society (if any) of gun control outweighs the loss of individual liberty.

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