More guns, more homicide

A Harvard School of Public Health Press Release describes a new study by Miller, Hemenway and Azreal:

In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the February 2007 issue of Social Science and Medicine

Earlier studies on the relationship between firearm ownership and crime had to use proxy measures for ownership because there was no national survey data available at the state level. The press release continues:

Analyses that controlled for several measures of resource deprivation, urbanization, aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, and alcohol consumption found that states with higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher homicide victimization rates for children, and for women and men. In these analyses, states within the highest quartile of firearm prevalence had firearm homicide rates 114% higher than states within the lowest quartile of firearm prevalence. Overall homicide rates were 60% higher. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide was driven by gun-related homicide rates; non-gun-related homicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.

Naturally pro-gun bloggers have attacked the study. Glenn Reynolds says they were funded by the Joyce Foundation:


I’m pretty sure that these guys would call anyone who accepted grants from the NRA bought-and-paid-for. But the Joyce Foundation is every bit as biased as the NRA, and has a history of paying for scholarship that would be treated as a scandal if it were engaged in by pro-gun folks.

His “paying for scholarship” link goes to a post where he says that it isn’t unethical, so I guess he isn’t saying that it is scandal just that “these guys” would. Or something. Certainly Reynolds called it a “vicious smear” when people attacked John Lott because he was funded by the Olin Foundation.

Reynolds also links to criticism by Jeff Soyer. Unfortunately, Soyer has not read the study, so his criticism is very wide of the mark. Soyer writes:

In the current study, they claim they’ve “controlled” for factors such as unemployment, etc. I’d be interested in seeing how they accomplished that statistical dance.

No problem. They used negative binomial regression.

Once again though, this study uses the same flaw of lumping a bunch of states together, dividing all the states into just four “groups”. If you take the states with the highest gun ownership, and here’s a handy WaPo chart, you find that they must have lumped North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska (and Montana, Idaho, etc.) which have high suicide rates in with Alabama and Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, states with high homicide rates. In my opinion, that’s the only way for him to reach his statistical goals.

They only grouped states into four groups in an additional analysis that they did as a check on their results. Their results do not depend on such a grouping. The study looks at homicide, not suicide. The word “suicide” does not even appear in the body of the paper.

But here’s the clincher. From that same chart, the “state” with the highest homicide rate in the U.S.? By a factor of almost four times the rate of ANY other state? It’s Washington DC. It’s the place where gun ownership is for all practical purposes forbidden, that is, where gun control has become a total ban on guns.

Washington DC is not a state. It’s part of a city. It is simply wrong to compare it to entire states.

As long as Miller continues to lump suicide and homicide together, his arguments are specious at best and full of crap at worst.

Again, Miller et al did not lump suicide and homicide together. This study does not consider suicide at all.

Back to Reynolds:

I find much of the public health literature on guns to be highly biased and deeply untrustworthy. It starts with an agenda, rather obviously, and then constructs “research” to confirm it. In this it resembles far too much of the politicized social science we see today, which explains in part why people are far less persuaded by social science claims than they used to be.

Unfortunately the reference Reynolds gives to support his claim about the public health literature on guns is itself highly biased and deeply untrustworthy.

Comments

  1. #1 ben
    January 17, 2007

    I completely agree with you Chris.

  2. #2 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Mike

    …I want to get fire arms out of the hands of you Clint Eastwood addled boobs…

    LOL. In some ways, we have won the war for gun rights in the US when this is the best that gun control proponents can come up with.

    Mike, you make a great unwitting propagandist for the pro gun side – all we have to do is point to you and say: Imagine Mike in charge of gun licensing.

  3. #3 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Ian Gould:

    In many cases, [engineers] also seem to be convinced they are somehow unique in this regard and therefore possess some near-mystical ability to understand issues entirely outside their professional field.

    LOL. Are you limping into credentialism here? And is gun control advocacy a professional field now? Maybe it is at that.

    Funny, coming from someone who appears to believe that his experience in the semiconductor industry makes him an expert on gun control.

    “Gun control” is not some abstract academic theory like a discussion about the origins of the universe that affects nobody’s daily life. Gun control is used in this country to make it more difficult for ordinary citizens to own and carry guns for self defense, and in some extreme cases, to disarm them completely. I am one of those citizens. Gun control affects my daily life. Yes, I happen to be an expert on the gun laws of my state and my country, because – you know what – I can go to prison if I inadvertently run afoul of them, no matter how innocent my motive may have been. Otherwise law abiding gun owners go to prison all the time for some technical violation of the gun laws.

    In contrast, I have to ask the question: Do the authors of this study, Tim Lambert, and yourself, Ian Gould live in the United States and do any of the following:
    1) Own a rifle, shotgun or pistol
    2) Keep a firearm at home for self defense
    3) Carry a firearm to a shooting range
    4) Carry a firearm for self protection at your retail business
    5) Carry a firearm for self protection on your way to a night shift job
    6) Carry a firearm when hunting
    7) Own a semi automatic firearm with a detachable magazine
    8) Travel between states on the way to a shooting competition
    9) Attended a shooting match or shooting club and met other gun owners

    I suspect that you have done few of these things. Yet you still, for some reason, feel that your theoretical studies are superior to the practical experience of millions of law abiding gun owners who do the above and risk violating the law if they are not careful about how they do it.

    Contrary to your claim, engineers actually do study and use theory, but the theory has to compellingly explain the observations of the real world. It is much easier to verify this in the world of the basic sciences. In the social sciences, it’s much harder to do that.

  4. #4 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Chris Doan:

    If you guys would legalise narcotics you’d have “gun violence” more than half solved.

    I completely agree with this too. The first big burst of gun control in the US came around during the era of Prohibition, when soaring crime rates influenced the passage of the National Firearms Act, which made the ownership of machine guns, silencers and short barreled rifles and shotguns subject to expensive registration. Prohibition went away, and crime rates declined but the NFA remained on the books to this day.

    The War on Drugs is an all round disaster that has collaterally damaged the Fourth Amendment and the Second Amendment.

  5. #5 mgr
    January 17, 2007

    Ben–it’s inflammatory in that rhetoric using such devices as packing heat in public places irritates those of us who support your right, but disagree with the extent. This can, and will motivate someone as myself to actively participate in actions to limit the portions of your right that we percieve as a privilege.

    There is a sense that handgun ownership may have some connect to a need for macho posturing. It may be a stereotype, but let’s not engage in discussion that feeds it, if the desire is to educate. If it’s to tweak the lefty tree huggers, OK, but accept the consequences that follow.

    I will say it, I have no problem with rifles for hunting, but I draw the line at needing handguns for self defense, because I do not see the evidence justifying it. I have skimmed some of Kleck, but would like to see the actual survey response rates, rather that the conclusions he draws (some of which appear selective). I would be very interested by a survey of gun owners not members of the NRA. There may be a self selection bias in the recall of the past, both exaggeration and deletion in Kleck’s survey reguarding self defense, that such a narrower focus could address.

    The fear of being victimized by violence is manufactured by those with something to gain from it; and it includes playing to racism and ignorance. Those who argue they need a handgun to protect themselves were duped by the manufacturers of the same weapons, and by those public safety professionals who needed a second income by outsourceing renta-cops (at least for Los Angeles after the Watts riots).

    Mike

  6. #6 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Mike:

    If you wish to have folk take your position on gun ownership seriously, you need to stop the argument that it’s OK to carry.

    Our argument seems to be working quite well. 37 states now issue concealed carry permits on a “shall issue” basis and the number slowly but surely increases almost every year. In every state the heated debate goes something like this:

    1) There are dire warnings that blood will flow in the streets and “Clint Eastwood addled boobs” will reign supreme and murder women, children and adorable puppies :-)

    2) Concealed carry reform legislation may stall or be defeated for some years, but eventually some election comes around, proponents are elected and the legislation passes.

    3) Much hand wringing follows, usually from the mainstream media.

    4) After a couple of years, no mayhem has ensued, there has been no jump in crime and sometimes even a modest decrease. Everybody wonders what the big fuss was about.

    5) Over time, more reform legislation is passed that tinkers around the edges and make it easier to obtain permits and reduces the number of places where carrying is forbidden. I don’t believe that even a single state that has moved to restrict carrying once it is approved.

    6) We move on to the next state, lather, rinse and repeat. I predict that Wisconsin, Delaware and Rhode Island will fall into the shall-issue column within the next decade.

    7) Another development that may yet happen in my lifetime is to abolish the permit regime altogether. Alaska did this in 2003. Any law abiding person may carry a concealed firearm in Alaska and Vermont without any kind of permit. Since many states allow the open carry of firearms without a permit, this is not a big stretch legally.

    So the lawful carrying of firearms is actually becoming a legal norm in America, far from being an argument that needs to be stopped.

  7. #7 mgr
    January 17, 2007

    Kevin P–another slow day at the wastewater treatment plant? Excellent example of cherry picking 1, or is it that your comprehension skills can only address independent clauses, rather than compound complex sentence constructions, or paragraphs. Ben, I think, gets it. You enjoy your handguns only because many of us are agnostic, continue with the posturing, and you piss us off into the veto area; and then see how narrow your right to a well regulated militia is.

    Mike

  8. #8 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Mike:

    Frankly in the extreme, I see myself willing to accept the outright ban on handguns..

    In a later comment you say that you do not own any guns. Of course you are willing to accept an outright ban on handguns – it doesn’t come at any cost to you!

    Those of us who actually own and use them lawfully have much more motivation to defend their keeping. Perhaps we know more about how they actually work as well.

    Ben–it’s inflammatory in that rhetoric using such devices as packing heat in public places irritates those of us who support your right, but disagree with the extent.

    Do you actually support the right to keep and bear arms? Considering the language that you have employed in this thread, I would hesitate to accept your support. And saying that you support the right to own hunting rifles is meaningless. The Second Amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with hunting. This is like saying that you support the right of men to have an abortion.

    I will say it, I have no problem with rifles for hunting, but I draw the line at needing handguns for self defense, because I do not see the evidence justifying it.

    You will dismiss this as an anecdotal account, but for the rest of the readers, a two minute search finds this story:

    “On the morning of the incident, he secreted into the house and waited for her,” Sgt. Scott Tummond said. “She happened to be armed with a .38 pistol, and when he tried to grab her she brought the gun to action, firing once and striking him in the chin.”

    There are plenty of other self defense stories at the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog

    Kevin P–another slow day at the wastewater treatment plant?

    Heh heh, you are funny :-) And also losing…

  9. #9 mgr
    January 17, 2007

    Kevin P–nice bluster.

    I see that you still have not addressed my question regarding racial prejuidice underlying your impressions.

    My choices regarding guns and weapons are my own, but I would not make the assumption that handgun violence has not infringed upon my life–my brother-in-law lives in a persistent vegetative state because he was shot in the head, accidentally or intentionally is unclear. He’s african american, and was at work. A friend of mine’s twin brother lost his temper at a party, and was killed by a handgun. My maternal grandfather blew his head off with a shot gun.

    Hopefully these anecdotes aren’t too theoretical for you.

    Mike

  10. #10 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Mike, you didn’t ask a “question” about racial prejudice, you made a direct accusation. Let me quote you:

    I would say your scepticism a fancy way of saying I’m a bigot.

    Please be honest and admit that you made a dishonest accusation. We continue meeting you with civil debate and you continue responding with insult.

    I am sorry to hear about the violence that has affected your family. Clearly this must be painful to bear. Please allow me to point out that the gun, an inanimate object, was not responsible for causing your family members harm. If your maternal grandfather had taken his own life with sleeping pills, would you blame the drug company? Or the pills?

    Guns are certainly used to commit crime and cause harm. Every single gun owner knows this and also knows that in the hands of responsible citizens, guns are used to protect and defend. The two uses are and always have been two sides of the same coin, and this is true for most weapons.

    Most gun control laws such as those that you propose do little to curb crime and misuse. This is because, by definition, gun control laws are generally obeyed by only law abiding citizens. These citizens never have been the problem. The problem is caused by criminals, generally men who commit robbery, rape and murder, in violation of all laws and morality. These criminals don’t obey gun control laws. This is the reason why most gun control laws fail.

    I think that we share the goal of reducing the criminal misuse of guns. We differ in our methods. Your method is to take away my right to own a gun, even though I am not the problem.

  11. #11 Ian Gould
    January 17, 2007

    “LOL. Are you limping into credentialism here?”

    This from the man who critiques social science papers on the basis of his experience in the semiconductor industry.

    The only person engaging in credentialism here is you – certainly you’re the only one who has felt compelled to list their credentials.

    “In contrast, I have to ask the question:… ”

    So have you lived for any length of time in any country which severely restricts hand-gun ownership?

    If not, does this invalidate your opinion?

  12. #12 Ian Gould
    January 17, 2007

    Kevin P: “Do you actually support the right to keep and bear arms?”

    Kevin, feel free to show us the section of the Constitution which prohibits private ownership of artillery; chemical and biological weapons; surface-to-air missiles; heavy machine-guns and nuclear weapons.

    Either you believe that private citizens should be allowed to own these classes of arms or you believe in a selective interpretation of the Second Amendment to restrict “the right to keep and bear arms”.

  13. #13 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Ian Gould:

    So have you lived for any length of time in any country which severely restricts hand-gun ownership?

    Yes, actually. I am an immigrant to the US and grew up in a country where all gun ownership, not just handgun ownership is severely restricted. Gun permits are available, but only to the wealthy and connected.

    And there, as in the US, most criminality came from a tiny subset of the population. The vast majority of the populace was law abiding and disarmed.

    I visit my home country about every year. My home town where I grew up is quite peaceful and I feel safe in it. The larger cities are an entirely different matter. Most citizens try hard to get home before dark. If you are out after, say 10 p.m. and get mugged, your friends and neighbors will look at you and think you were stupid for being out that late. I feel safer in most big cities in the US.

    How about you? Have you lived in a US state or other place where the ownership and/or carrying of handguns is common?

  14. #14 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Ian Gould:

    Kevin, feel free to show us the section of the Constitution which prohibits private ownership of artillery; chemical and biological weapons; surface-to-air missiles; heavy machine-guns and nuclear weapons.

    Ah, the nuclear weapons strawman again. This isn’t very orginal, I’m afraid. I will engage you on this subject at the moment when the NRA proposes the first law to issue permits to carry surface to air missiles. Until then, I believe that we were discussing handguns.

    For the record: I would not oppose the regulation of phasers or other particle beam weapons with a yield greater than 10 Gigawatts :-)

  15. #15 mgr
    January 17, 2007

    Boy Kevin, when they handed out the chutzpah, did you go back for seconds? You’re real quick with the anecdotes to support your case, but go to people kill people, not guns when its the other way.

    Let me explain this real slow. My brother-in-law was shot with a hand gun, by a middle class white male in his thirties. A brain used a gun because it was scared of another human being’s skin pigmentation. He was never charged because of the extenuating circumstance that it occurred during the night shift, my b-i-l was in the alley repairing the telephone line, and he was not killed.

    An apology is in order, but I think it should be coming from you.

    Again, real slow:

    “I would say your scepticism a fancy way of saying I’m a bigot.”

    Was a conclusion from a post with four points (with links), and the third post in which I addressed your possible prejuidice towards african americans. The fact that you made uncritical statements equivalent to stating that all black culture was urban, disfunctional, and criminal and all of its own making strikes me as bigoted.

    But here’s my apology–I am sorry for addressing you as a rational human being, rather than the racist scum you appear to be.

    Mike

  16. #16 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Mike, I am sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. Your description of his shooting seems like a tragedy.

    I am also sorry that my conversation with you has angered you so much that you call me a racist scum. In this regard, I think that you are hyperventilating and will continue to lash out, so I will attempt to deescalate the situation by ceasing to communicate directly with you.

    I would do the same in any situation in real life, trying to avoid conflict until it became unavoidable. This is what responsible gun owners generally do. It is strange that I have to demonstrate this to you on the Internet. Perhaps there are anger management and conflict resolution classes available to you in your area.

    Best wishes and may you find peace.

    In the meantime, I am available for discussion with the other good Netizens of this board.

  17. #17 MarkP
    January 17, 2007

    SG said: Ben and MarkP, you are really eager to live the phrase “from my cold, dead hands” aren`t you?…

    MarkP may think this is a “reality-removed sneer” but I wouldn`t take his word for it if I were you. Give it a go.

    Yes it was, and thank you for making my point for me so eloquently. I come on here asking people to make rational policy decisions based on solid data, with the necessary skepticism that such a politically charged topic warrants, and you respond by basically calling me a “gun nut” and playing games with unrealistic scenarios. You sound like you formed your opinion of weapons and conflict from watching Kung Fu movies.

    In case you can stoop to be bothered with facts, my warm, living hands haven’t held a gun in many, many years, the one gun I own was a gift, and frankly, I don’t much care for them. I got interested in the gun issue because I kept seeing factually bereft, realistically removed, snide screeds like yours coming from the anti-gun side, and they offend my statistically trained, logistically honed sensibilities. Thanks for being Exhibit A in why so many anti-gun types must resort to baseless personal attacks, because they can’t make their case logically.

    Mgr said: The fact that someone comes to a party with realistic ordinance, probably to get a rise out of some of the guests; and you expect those targets to calm down after explaining that its all dummy rounds and empty chambers, is not a characterization of phobia, but of immaturity on your friend’s part and on you for rationalizing it as a phobia. What other response were you expecting? If it were me, I would have thown your sorry asses out without a by your leave by the host or hostess. Sure, I’m going to take your word that they are dummy rounds, after you pulled this stunt?

    And here we get Exhibit B. Mike, if you like facts with your screeds, the guy in question was the host of the party, is one of the most polite, nicest, self-effacing people one could meet, and is about the last person on earth who would intentionally provoke someone else. He was just raised around guns, as I and so many here were, and we just are not phobic about them as you admittedly are (and kudos for honesty on that).

    There is nothing wrong with having a phobia. Most of us have a few (mine is heights). The trouble comes when you think the rest of us should make public policy to accomodate your irrational fears. That’s over the line.

    Kevin is right Mike. The more people like you talk, the more reasonable the pro-gun side looks. And since I favor some level of gun control, I emphatically suggest you refrain from such ignorant ad hominems and stick to facts and logic.

    Ian Gould said: however, the massive difference in murder rates between the US and other developed countries suggests that PART of the difference is almost definitely attributable to the greater availability of handguns.

    I agree Ian, since guns are more effective at killing than any other hand-held weapon, at least once you get further apart than 3 feet. But I would place a lot of the blame for the high murder rate in America on the fact that we Americans are a violent people with a violent culture. We fight a lot, we play violent sports, we watch violent films. I notice this every time I travel abroad. The weapons don’t make us violent, we are violent, therefore we like weapons.

  18. #18 mgr
    January 17, 2007

    MarkP: My point was that you were attributing a woman’s reaction to wearing bandolera and having weapons to a phobia. The description you originally provided suggests that your friend behaved like a jerk, and rather than acknowledge the woman was justified in being upset, attribute it to a phobia. I agree there was likely nothing wrong in doing it to you, however, there was to her, and it has nothing to do with phobia. Had you stated it was hysteria, and was typical of this person, then I might have responded differently. My reaction would have been different if you were apologetic, but I did not get that either.

    I am sorry, but American culture is no more violent than any other (I’m sure the Aussies have some stories to tell regarding their treatment of their native population), it is our acceptance of the use of guns that makes the outcomes of that violence more likely to be permanent.

    By the way, ever heard of a football (aka soccar)riot, or hooliganism? These guys make the black hole look tame.

    Mike

  19. #19 MarkP
    January 17, 2007

    I just read the rest of the thread, and Mike (mgr), I wish your brother-in-law the best, and offer my sympathies for the tragedy you all have gone through. I cannot imagine what that feels like. It’s one more reason we should all avoid personal attacks, and stick to the arguments. One never knows what one’s interlocutor has experienced. We could all use a few miles in each others’ shoes.

  20. #20 MarkP
    January 17, 2007

    I’m sorry Mike, I invite any other reader of this blog to reread the story I told and find a hint of him being a jerk. That’s your very understandable bias showing. Just look at your choice of verbs – wearing a costume with an unloaded gun becomes “doing it to” someone, as if it constituted acting on another person. To you, wearing a gun makes you a jerk, plain and simple.

    The fact is the woman was not justified in being upset after the demonstration. An unloaded gun is less dangerous than your average kitchen knife, and she wasn’t afraid of the kitchen knives. I doubt she would have been afraid of someone dressed like Crocodile Dundee, complete with the very dangerous knife, or a person dressed as a baseball player brandishing a very dangerous baseball bat.

    This is exactly why it is a phobia. Some people fear guns far more than other items which are as, if not more, dangerous, because they have an inherent fear of guns per se. Your bias is totally understandable from your experience, and I won’t claim I’d act differently were I in your shoes. But just like I don’t think we should base our drunk driving laws on the opinions of the mothers of kids killed by drunk drivers (who of us is capable of being rational in that situation?), IMO your personal experience taints your opinion on this subject beyond usefulless, and the content of your posts reveals this in technocolor.

  21. #21 ben
    January 17, 2007

    Wow, this thread has grown.

    I think this was aluded to above, but hopefully some clarification will result. If you look at the table here and compare, say, Finland and the USA, you can learn something interesting. The Fins own lots of guns (and sound suppressors are effectively unregulated compared to the USA, argh!). The Fins have a HIGHER non-firearm homicide rate than the USA. They have a vastly LOWER firearm homicide rate. If more guns = more homicide, and the Fins don’t seem to mind murder any more than us, judging from non-firearm homicide rates, why does a firearms ownership rate greater than half ours lead to a firearm homicide rate less than one quarter of ours?

    Now, it could be that there’s just a nonlinear relationship between the two, but why then, when you look at Caucasians only (sorry if doing this upsets some folks, but this is the data), do the USA and Finland have approximately the same homicide rates? It ain’t the guns.

    Most of the homicide rates in the developed countries in the chart on the link above have different homicide rates for the same reason they have different suicide rates: cultural differences. Not much more to it.

    Now, as for the “we should have nukes” baloney about the 2A, the purpose of the 2A is to ensure access by ordinary Americans to small arms. That is, arms appropriate to INDIVIDUAL members of the military or militia. This would be rifles, handguns, shotguns in all their configurations. You could draw the line at heavy machineguns, rocket launchers and the like, but some would argue with me that I’m wrong. In most states these are legal but regulated, so available none the less.

    There is a dearth of info available on why I’m correct. That was the original intent of the framers so that we wouldn’t have to show our bellies to tyrants, but could fight back.

    As to carrying guns in public. I look at my kids, and I remember Beslan. It is extremely unlikely that anything even remotely this terrible will ever involve me or anyone I know, but I’d like to make it even less so, and I always want to have the chance to fight back.

  22. #22 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Ben, the link you provided points back to this thread.

  23. #23 mgr
    January 17, 2007

    MarkP
    “There is nothing wrong with having a phobia. Most of us have a few (mine is heights). The trouble comes when you think the rest of us should make public policy to accomodate your irrational fears. That’s over the line.

    Kevin is right Mike. The more people like you talk, the more reasonable the pro-gun side looks. And since I favor some level of gun control, I emphatically suggest you refrain from such ignorant ad hominems and stick to facts and logic.”

    Do you know what an ad hominen argument is? In addition–

    1. Where did I state that unconditionally, hand guns should be banned? What I seemed to state was that if the study proves out, then may be we should consider tighter restrictions, in the extreme, may be we should do so with handguns.

    2. I don’t recall you stating you have a degree in psychoanalysis. My reason for not having guns around my home is as I stated–they are a risk to my families safety, they are noisy, and they pollute. I cannot with 100% assurance know that a gun in my house will not go off, intentionally or accidentally; since I let out that I live in a rural context, I am not fond of having neighbors use their yards on holidays, weekends, after work or when ever for target practice (my dogs like it less); and, god knows where the lead shot ends up. Explain how that is a phobia.

    3. The gun violence I have been exposed to (with the exception of my grandfather, which I found out even more recently) occurred while I was in graduate school. I had not even considered myself unique until Kevin challenged me on it. As to it making me irrational, I think I will let my words defend me.

    4. I consider my experience anecdotal, and would not allow it by itself to inform my policy opinions. If the science behind this new survey is consistent with my experience, my attitude towards gun ownership will change–and that is what I expressed here in this blog. My opinions towards the utility of hand guns were shaped by earlier gun studies.

    5. Racism is ignorance, based upon slavishly accepted premises built on the flimsiest of stereotypes. I am sure at this point someone can bring out Moynihan’s study of black pathology, but contrast that with work done by Bobo and others, and one will find that many of the premises of pathology are predicated upon comparison to white american society and culture as if they were the ideal, rather than from the historical outcome of exclusion and denial of economic, social, and political advancement and entitlement.

    6. The irrational fear of being a victim of crime to where one considers protecting themselves with a hand gun, is fueled in part by racism. Consider, that the hotbed of violent crime is always the inner city, and the inner city is where we left those with greater skin melanin, and that connection is clear. That violent crime is actually distributed more evenly though the population can be pointed out, but the diatribe never shifts.

    7.) One is racist if when pointed out the assumptions made about an ethnic group are wrong, but one persists in pursuing them still.

    8.) I think how you should view your own attitudes as apologist for the gun lobby, rather than as gun control advocate. I put up, not its your turn, just how do you intend to do gun control, or just shut up.

    Mike

    Mike

  24. #24 Kevin P.
    January 17, 2007

    Ben:

    Now, as for the “we should have nukes” baloney about the 2A, the purpose of the 2A is to ensure access by ordinary Americans to small arms. That is, arms appropriate to INDIVIDUAL members of the military or militia. This would be rifles, handguns, shotguns in all their configurations. You could draw the line at heavy machineguns, rocket launchers and the like, but some would argue with me that I’m wrong. In most states these are legal but regulated, so available none the less.

    Here are some fun pictures from the very gun friendly state of Arizona. Note: Not a single person was harmed by the ownership and use of these weapons.

  25. #25 SG
    January 18, 2007

    From MarkP

    you respond by basically calling me a “gun nut” and playing games with unrealistic scenarios

    What was unrealistic about my scenario, MarkP? Being threatened at knifepoint for money seems very realistic to me. Is there some other reason that one would carry a concealed handgun in the street for self-defense, other than this scenario?
    Ben has not yet indicated to me how your handgun will protect you in this situation. If you can`t explain your self defense method to me, I can only conclude that either a) you haven`t thought your self-defence options through very well or b) it`s not really for self defence. (Or c) you can`t be bothered explaining to someone who has never seen a gun outside a police holster how they can be used).

    Also your “statistically inclined” mind didn`t seem very interested in Ben`s tenfold exaggeration of self defense incidents, while my presumably emotive gunnut mind found the figures straight away. So spare me the rational high ground and indulge my “unrealistic” scenario of being robbed at knifepoint on the street.

  26. #26 Ben
    January 18, 2007

    KevinP, nice! I’m not saying they should be outlawed, but maybe a little more stringent stuff to owning than what I listed, maybe not. Besides, the ammo gets spendy in a hurry.

    Sorry, here’s the link.

    Mike, what you say about racism is true. The problem of young black male violence was certainly not caused by their race, not directly. I tend to side with Thomas Sowell and his contemporaries who consider it to have been caused by the welfare state which destroyed the black (and any other race, including white) family structure in the inner cities or wherever it took hold. I have first hand experience of this from when I was young.

    You think folks like myself have an irrational fear of harm? I think my “concern” is perfectly rational. Same that I chose to actively do something about it. Is it racist? I don’t think so, never really crossed my mind. I don’t have a mental picture of the type of person who might try to assault me.

    SG, you train for those types of scenarios, at least mentally. It is highly likely that you could, if you chose to be aware of your surroundings and situation, tell that something with this person approaching you is not right. Then you could try to avoid the situation by moving. Then it would be pretty easy to tell if the person is acting in an abnormal manner. If they continue, you can ask them while they are at a distance what is going on. It might be embarrassing if it is innocent, but if not then you have an advantage.

    If they surprise you, well, what would you do if you were unarmed? Armed, you could just give them your wallet. If they are out to do you harm, then you need to put distance between yourself and them. You also have two hands and only need one to access your firearm. The other one can be sacrificed to give you distance/protection while you draw your weapon or run to cover.

    It seems you have in mind a scenario where you wear blinders, have one hand tied behind your back, and have your feet glued to the floor. I’ve yet to experience that situation, but if I encountered it, well, you might be right, the gun might not help.

  27. #27 SG
    January 18, 2007

    My point, Ben, is that whether you are armed or not, the only situation where you can defend yourself effectively is the second one on my list – the one you now describe – of putting distance between yourself and the assailant and then brandishing.

    The most likely self-defense scenario people come across is the former – someone gets in close with a knife, baseball bat or other weapon (including, in some countries, a gun) before they reveal their intentions. In this case your weapon is useless, except that it is more likely to get you injured if you think you can use it.

    The latter situation, on the other hand, is more fraught with danger for innocent people the more deadly the weapon gets. This situtation involves the possibility of jumpy people feeling at risk, heavily armed. It is the situation which, I would guess, led to the shooting incident described by Mike. It is also a situation limited by arms control. In Australia you get out of that situation by pulling a knife, or just running fast – because the assailant also only has a knife. In the US, on the other hand, you have to be “packing heat” in order to escape it. And if everyone knows you are likely to be, why, they are just more likely to get better at manipulating you into the former situation or get a gun themselves, aren`t they?

    So MarkP, now that Ben has answered me, can you explain how my scenario is “reality-removed”?

  28. #28 Ian Gould
    January 18, 2007

    “How about you? Have you lived in a US state or other place where the ownership and/or carrying of handguns is common?”

    I have visited the US but haven’t lived there fro any length of time.

    Ironically, given your assertion that you feel much safer in big cities in the US, I was mugged at knifepoint in the US, something that hasn’t happened to me in 45 years living in the third largest city in Australia.

  29. #29 Ian Gould
    January 18, 2007

    “Ah, the nuclear weapons strawman again. This isn’t very orginal, I’m afraid. I will engage you on this subject at the moment when the NRA proposes the first law to issue permits to carry surface to air missiles.”

    It’s not a straw-man argument.

    My reading of the history of the Second Amendment make two things clear:

    1. The right to own arms was never intended to be restricted to the “well-ordered militia”

    2. One of the reasons for supporting private ownership of arms was to make ti possible for citizens to resist government excesses and, if necessary, to overthrow the government.

    In order to achieve this particular objective , it’s necessary for the citizenry to have access to weapons equivalent to those available to the state.

    Now the authors of the Bill of Rights clearly didn’t anticipate the technological advances of the 19th and 20th centuries, if they had and if they’d foreseen that weapons capable of killing thousands would become available they would probably have drafted the provision differently.

    All that being the case, the pragmatic argument for restricting ownership of certain classes of weapons in overwhelming but I think it takes a deliberate misreading of the Amendment to justify it.

  30. #30 Kevin P.
    January 18, 2007

    Now the authors of the Bill of Rights clearly didn’t anticipate the technological advances of the 19th and 20th centuries, if they had and if they’d foreseen that weapons capable of killing thousands would become available they would probably have drafted the provision differently.

    They didn’t anticipate the advent of radio, television, movies and the Internet and the disproportionate propaganda potential of these media either. Perhaps, given their potential and actual support for causing mayhem, these media should be exempt from the protections of the First Amendment? Interestingly, in many countries where newspapers receive fairly good legal protections, radio, TV and movies receive very stringent government oversight, including preemptive censorship on sensitive topics that may affect public order and national security. I am opposed to these limits on the First Amendment as well.

    As a practical matter, there is probably some outer limit to the weapons protected by the Second Amendment. Some have proposed that the line can be drawn at the weapons that individuals would bear as part of a military force – which in the US of today would include fully automatic M16s, pistols, various misc large caliber rifles, carbines, shotguns, grenade launchers, bazookas, and might stop short of crew served or vehicle-based heavy weapons.

    Thanks to the collective rights nonsense, however, this question has never been addressed in any meaningful way.

    You have still erected a straw man, however, because this thread is about weapons possessed by households – ordinary rifles, shotguns and pistols, and you are attempting to distract it into a discussion into nuclear weapons.

  31. #31 K-Romulus
    January 18, 2007

    “The irrational fear of being a victim of crime to where one considers protecting themselves with a hand gun, is fueled in part by racism. Consider, that the hotbed of violent crime is always the inner city, and the inner city is where we left those with greater skin melanin, and that connection is clear. That violent crime is actually distributed more evenly though the population can be pointed out, but the diatribe never shifts.”

    So, it is “irrational and racist” to fear violent crime in urban areas . . . but since crime is actually spread throughout the entire populace (to include suburbs), it is NOT irrational to be deluded into thinking that “crime won’t happen to me?”

    Crazy talk!

  32. #32 Kevin P.
    January 18, 2007

    SG, you are describing one of many scenarios in which a knife may be used an assailant’s weapon, and then attempting to generalize very broadly to claim that handgun possession is therefore useless in self defense.

    I have attended handgun defensive use training classes – which I suspect you haven’t – and have read about other accounts of other handgun training classes. In my class, and in every other class that I have read about, knives are discussed, and all instructors are very clear that you have to put distance between you and your assailant so that you can bring your weapon to bear. In my class, this included a demonstration of how fast the instructor could spring across a room with a rubber knife. The conclusion was to put either: a) A distance of about 21 feet and/or b) Run to place an obstruction such as a table, chair, parked car, in the way. If this was done, the gun could be brought to bear, and the knife assailant would likely retire since the odds had been greatly evened. If this could not be done, it was best to not brandish the gun or even give a hint that it was there, but rather to cooperate while looking for a opportunity to do (a) or (b). Bear in mind that the knife holder may not be interested in just your wallet, but might be interested in kidnapping and rape, followed by murder. Your cooperation and lack of defense also endangers you.

    I doubt that you know this either, but all handgun classes drill in the concept of mental awareness of self and surroundings, such as the concepts of the Color Codes of Awareness, which every citizen, not just gun owners should be aware about. Thus, you may have detected your knife-carrying assailant before he pulled the knife and may already have taken the precautions necessary and may be able to bring your gun to bear.

    So contrary to your speculations – which seem to come from watching many movies – there is a great deal of thought and training that goes into the conscious decision to carry a gun. If you live in Australia, there may not be many opportunities, but if you visit the US, I encourage you to visit and take a defensive handgun course. It will open your eyes and you will learn a good deal. You should do this even if you don’t intend to buy or carry a handgun – you will learn a lot about how to stay alert and safe.

  33. #33 Tim Lambert
    January 18, 2007

    [Gary Kleck](http://www.mppgv.org/special%20topics.htm):

    > … there is little or no need for a gun for self-protection because there’s so little risk of crime. People don’t believe it, but it’s true. You just can’t convince most Americans they’re not at serious risk.

  34. #34 Kevin P.
    January 18, 2007

    So if there is so little risk of crime, why are we even discussing regulating guns? Which is it?

  35. #35 Kevin P.
    January 18, 2007

    Gary Kleck from the same link:

    A statistic commonly cited in support of “shall issue” concealed-carry laws comes in the claim that 2.5 million defensive gun uses occur each year. Criminologist Gary Kleck arrived at this number via a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of 5,000 adults.

    Tim, since you endorse Gary Kleck in the one instance, I am sure you endorse him in the other :-)

  36. #36 Ben
    January 18, 2007

    The most likely self-defense scenario people come across is the former – someone gets in close with a knife, baseball bat or other weapon (including, in some countries, a gun) before they reveal their intentions. In this case your weapon is useless, except that it is more likely to get you injured if you think you can use it.

    You claim without proof.

    Then you go on to say that us gun nuts are jumpy, and as soon as we get some distance between ourselves and the bad guy, we’ll send a hail of lead his way endangering anyone in a quarter mile radius.

    This is not so, why would it be? With every passage of concealed carry laws in a US state, this is claimed. “Blood in the Streets” they cry. It never happens. You must be wrong, but why?

    The simple fact is that most of us, who choose to carry a weapon understand that the fact that you are under attack is NO EXCUSE if you inadvertently harm an innocent bystander. If you start spraying bullets and hurt an innocent, you will go to jail, you will lose your right to carry a weapon or even touch one, and your life will be ruined. The potential consequences must be weighed by anyone choosing to carry a gun. By anyone choosing to even own a gun.

    But then the same is true of owning a car.

    And yes, what Kleck says is true. I do not personally know a single person who has been the victim of anything more than simple “cold” burglary or theft. However, this is America, we like our guns, hate tyrants and desire self-sufficiency. Part of carrying a weapon is simple practice and familiarity should things ever become less desirable than they are now. Be prepared.

    In order to achieve this particular objective , it’s necessary for the citizenry to have access to weapons equivalent to those available to the state.

    The Vietnamese and Iraqis are proving you wrong. The US government would have a difficult time when there is a well trained rifleman behind every blade of grass. The country could always commit suicide by nuking itself, but then what good would nukes do the resistance at that point anyway?

  37. #37 Ben
    January 18, 2007

    Ah, darn it, I goofed my blockquotes :(

  38. #38 mgr
    January 18, 2007

    K Romulus: “So, it is “irrational and racist” to fear violent crime in urban areas . . . but since crime is actually spread throughout the entire populace (to include suburbs), it is NOT irrational to be deluded into thinking that “crime won’t happen to me?”

    so, do you always forget the precis to an arguement? The point is that to focus your fear of being victim of crime upon the inner city, is in part driven by racial fears. The fact that that crime rate is largely driven by non-violent crime, makes the argument even more irrational.

    What is your risk of being a victim of violent crime? Is it more or less on the order of being struck by lightning (the impact in both cases is devastating)? Should you also carry a lightning rod and grounding wire in case this should happen?

    It is irrational to prepare for an eventuality that is objectively unlikely, but you opine as possible.

    Mike

  39. #39 mgr
    January 18, 2007

    Ben–I actually did not consider your personal position as racist, you seem to apply greater self reflection as to your position.

    However, how is it that Sowell’s analysis only applies to dysfunctionality now, but not prior to 1964 when the same family and absent male parent structures existed? You may want to look over the link I provided above from Larry Bobo and others, whose argument derives in part from a series of studies done in the late eighties that point to the divergence in comparative wealth between black working class and white working class due in part to redlining, and suburban flight (in the case of Los Angeles).

    The divergence is fueled by property ownership, and the appraised value of the property. Whites can liquidate a greater amount of wealth simply by taking a second mortgage of their house, comparable to a black property owner. And when do familes most often take out seconds–most often it is to finance house mortgages of the children.

    Mike

  40. #40 Ben
    January 18, 2007

    What you say can be applied to the Chinese, Pols, Irish, just about any other immigrant group besides black Africans. The difference largely rests on white guilt about slavery and our reaction to that. In order to assuage our guilt, we have enacted policies that have been inadvertently detrimental to much of the black population.

    Otherwise, what’s the difference between minorities? And what explains the successes of other minorities, especially the Chinese?

  41. #41 mgr
    January 18, 2007

    “So if there is so little risk of crime, why are we even discussing regulating guns? Which is it?”

    Legally, risks acceptable to the public are values below 1 out of a million. The question is what is the risk to gun owners and members of their families that they may experience death through the agency of a gun. If the risk rises to a range of unacceptable, then gun control is on the table as a public health measure.

    Mike

  42. #42 mgr
    January 18, 2007

    Ben–you understand that you are comparing one ethnic group subjected to legal discrimination for almost 500 years to another subjected to legal discrimination for 50, and that legal discrimination ended with WWII?

    For the USA, the early Chinese immigration (Gold Rush) was primarily male, with the intention of making money, and returning to China. Some were successful to where they brought their familes here. Few Chinese emigrated after enactment of the Exclusion Act. After WWII, the principal immigration of the Chinese to the US were likely nationalist Chinese with merchant class connections, and some level of personal wealth.

    Overall, what the Chinese have, which African Americans lack, is a family connection to relatives living elsewhere.

    Mike

  43. #43 Kevin P.
    January 18, 2007

    Ian Gould:

    My reading of the history of the Second Amendment make two things clear:

    1. The right to own arms was never intended to be restricted to the “well-ordered militia”
    2. One of the reasons for supporting private ownership of arms was to make ti possible for citizens to resist government excesses and, if necessary, to overthrow the government.

    Ian, I do appreciate that you are willing to state that the Second Amendment substantially protects the private right to own arms. We can quibble about the margins of it, but we do agree on the substance.

    If gun control proponents ever actually accepted this simple proposition, then some dialogue might actually be possible.

    Instead, they insist there is no individual right to own a gun, or that there is a “collective” right but no individual right (nonsense), or that they have no objection to the right to own hunting rifles (irrelevant).

    My own litmus test for the sincerity of a gun control proponent is to see if he is willing to repeal the gun control laws of Washington D.C., where no law abiding citizen can own a handgun and where all firearms in the home have to be disassembled and unavailable for home defense. If the gun control advocate still defends this draconian level of gun control, then his objective is to disarm us. There is no point in negotiating with someone whose intention is to drive us into the sea. They claim we are “unwilling to compromise”, when in reality they only want unilateral concessions.

  44. #44 mgr
    January 18, 2007

    Ben said: “The difference largely rests on white guilt about slavery and our reaction to that. In order to assuage our guilt, we have enacted policies that have been inadvertently detrimental to much of the black population.”

    What policies were these? What before and after data do you have to show these detrimental effects?

    By the way, being the child of immigrants from around WWII, I don’t feel I share in this ‘white guilt’ silliness. I just do not like seeing oppression and I don’t like stereotypes that do not stand up to even the casualest scrutiny. I lived up in downtown Los Angeles between 1962 and 1965, so be aware I have some idea of what the before was like.

    Mike

  45. #45 ben
    January 18, 2007

    Here. More about white underclass in Britain, which parallels our inner city groups but shows the outcome of welfare is race independent.

  46. #46 SG
    January 18, 2007

    Kevin P and MarkP if you are still around, i do not get my ideas about self-defense from “kung-fu movies”. I have 15 years` experience in martial arts; I teach kickboxing; and I trained with various weapons, including knives, for 5 years. I am well aware of the self-defense principles you discuss. However, my training with knives makes me very aware of just how difficult it is to defend oneself against them by any means except running away. The self-defense method you describe (of awareness, etc.) is a very effective method, but the gun is very secondary to it (running being the prime part, and avoiding the confrontation to start with), and it clearly increases the risk of injury to innocent people if you misapply your situational awareness. I wonder how many people who learn the “colour codes of safety” happen to colour code them when they apply them, if you get my drift?

    And Ben, if you blame welfare for the growth of criminal cultures in black Americans, can you explain why the Finns have such a low rate of gun homicide? After all, those scandinavian countries are welfare heaven. Sit down money everywhere. Surely they should have similar rates of crime? Could it not be the case that in societies with easy access to guns (such as Finland, NZ, the USA), the level of welfare is protective against gun violence; and in societies with low welfare (e.g USA, Japan, China), restricted access to guns is protective against gun violence? And do you know if Finland has no gun control, or if Finns just happen to be willing to go to the trouble to get a license so they can have a gun?

  47. #47 Kevin P.
    January 18, 2007

    SG:

    I have 15 years` experience in martial arts; I teach kickboxing; and I trained with various weapons, including knives, for 5 years. I am well aware of the self-defense principles you discuss. However, my training with knives makes me very aware of just how difficult it is to defend oneself against them by any means except running away.

    Ah, but have you trained with handguns?

    My defensive handgun instructor is a active duty policeman who carries both a gun and a knife. The tactics that were taught to me and are commonly taught are often used by US policemen who do get confronted by criminals armed with knives and other edged weapons – they retreat to a safe distance and then challenge the knife wielder at a distance which he cannot cross without getting shot. Eventually, contrary to your claim, above, the person who brings a knife to a gunfight tends to lose. If that were not the case, your police officers would not need to carry guns – they would carry knives instead.

    Many policemen also carry knives, but only as a weapon of last resort.

    Again, I encourage you, train with handguns so you get an alternative perspective and a diversity of experience. Many handgun instructors also train in the martial arts and with edged weapons for that very reason. All these tools and skills have a place. You will notice that not once have Ben or I claimed that the handgun is the only defensive tool possible. Rather, our position is that it is an important tool, but not the only one. The most important defensive weapon is the brain – but it sometimes isn’t sufficient, which is why we need to help it out with deadly weapons.

  48. #48 ben
    January 19, 2007

    Right, Kevin P. Further, I was it you SG who seemed to think that we advocate the run away and then come back blasting approach? Whoever it was, and I’m not going back through all 147 comments (yikes!, like moore’s law), the fact is that most of us “macho” types subscribe to the “run away if you can and don’t look back” doctrine.

    But I’m getting older and slower, and while I might be able to make a quick move to get a couple yards of separation, there are many bad guys who could easily outrun me.

    Now, Finland is something I know a little about, having a bizzarely white skinned and haired brother-in-law from Suomi. Now, I think I’ll have to have my sister show up and answer something about that here. Yes, their welfare state makes ours look like a scrooge, but it’s to the point of being weird. Practically zero motivation to work for those even remotely tending toward laziness. Not a good thing. I suppose if you pacify the criminal element with free cell phones (why not, Nokia has a horde of them), cable TV and car payments, they have no motivation to work at all, honestly or criminally. See, at the heart of things, criminals above all wish to avoid work. They see crime as the best means of avoidance, in the USA at least. When you get free twinkies and Oprah, why bother even with petty theft, it’s too much like work.

    There’s more to it than that. They have a different cultural history than we do. Their ancestors had a work ethic, and it will take a couple more generations to completely take that out of them. But one thing they do have in common with the other Scandinavian havens for the lazy is that their immigrants, particularly, well, nevermind, but their immigrants are not so nice as the natives. There are whole cities that are practically overrun with the noobs where even the police won’t go. Give them a while, it will get worse.

  49. #49 Sarah
    January 19, 2007

    I can comment on the Finland/welfare issue, as my husband is a Finn. First of all, Finland has tight gun control. You need a license to buy a weapon, which then goes to the local police who make the decision about whether or not you can keep the weapon. Any handgun shorter than 5″ barrel is illegal to own. There is no such thing as concealed weapons permits for civilians.

    Unlike the U.S., Finland has an extremely homogeneous society: 98% of the Finnish population is of the same race and religion (white, Lutheran). Homogeneous societies tend to have less strife. That said, Finland is still an extremely violent country. It has one of the highest violent crime indices in the world, as of 2001 had the highest homocide rate in the EU, and rivals Japan for the highest suicide rate. But you have to understand something about the old Finnish culture to understand why the welfare system has only recently started to corrupt the culture. Finns typically prided themselves on their extreme work ethic. When, through hard work and modest lifestyle, the nation became wealthy enough they instituted the right to welfare as a safety net (essentially, my father in-law’s generation). Thirty years later, it has become a lifestyle option, and you have a new generation of Finns who take extended welfare vacations rather than work. Out of desperation, the Finnish government has instituted programs to try to get Finns back to work (especially immigrants, who have 70% unemployment rate). The generous welfare system has also attracted many undesirable types from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Russia, etc. — these are clansmen of Farah Aideed, Baathist henchmen, Russian mobsters, etc. — who come to live on the average Finn’s dime. Crime (violent, property, drug) has increased astronomically since Finland opened its doors and coffers to these people, who wouldn’t have otherwise bothered to relocate to a remote, sparsely-populated Arctic nation.

  50. #50 z
    January 21, 2007

    “None of those are what I had in mind. Kellerman’s data shows what it shows. I just found that his study was not very interesting, nor did it show anything that was relatively important. He was able to show a relative increase in risk that was measureable, but so what? It was small on an absolute scale compared to things that most of us do not care about, such as “a dog in the home” for example.
    Kellerman’s main contribution was the unintendid result I mentioned above, in my opinion”

    As I’ve noted before, if you google “Kellerman” you get one set of opinions. If you google “Kellermann” you get a quite different set of opinions, which are as one might expect, more closely related to the research of the guy who was actually named “Kellermann”. Try it sometime. It’s like googling “Einstien” and deciding on the basis of the results that he wasn’t as great as he is reputed to be.

  51. #51 Ben
    January 21, 2007

    z, I have Kellermann’s papers. I’ve read them. Sorry for the spelling mistake.

  52. #52 mgr
    January 22, 2007

    Ben said: “Here. More about white underclass in Britain, which parallels our inner city groups but shows the outcome of welfare is race independent.”

    Ben what you have linked to is a paragraph snippet of a Thomas Sowell column. Dalyrumple’s book (a collection of essays) unfortunately is a “I have a theory, and here is the data I have rallied to support it” type of argument. Many anecdotes of the ‘underclass’ does not make a population or a meaningful statistic. Might as well read “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”, or “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”.

    But I suppose one could, hey why not, blame boredom and ennui on modernity; and, if only we were to reinstitute serfdom, then they would see value in their lives.

    You still haven’t put up the specifics of how US policy towards African Americans has made their lot worse. (Oh, and don’t use Sowells’ reference to the wage increase for textile workers under the New Deal, context matters, the reason they were out of a job was related to an economic downturn at the time.)

    I would recommend you read Moynihan’s study from 1965 as a baseline for the statistics for what the African American poor were going through prior to the Great Society reforms (which should be the baseline for your argument, or are you going to reach all the way back to the Great Depression, and the urban migration when most agricultural livelihoods went down in flames?

    Mike

  53. #53 Ian Gould
    January 22, 2007

    Ben: “See, at the heart of things, criminals above all wish to avoid work. They see crime as the best means of avoidance, in the USA at least.”

    It’s 4.30 AM here so don’t ask for a citation but a few years back The Economist reported on a study that found the average hourly wage rate for people selling drugs in Chicago worked out to around minimum wage.

    But, of course, the minority who avoided serious prison time and getting murdered by the competition had a chance at moving up to the more senior ranks where the pay was much, much higher.

    In other words, the dealers were acting exactly like all those waiters in California looking to break in as actors
    - pursuing a high risk strategy with the potential for a major reward if they were lucky enough and worked hard enough.

    It’s the American Dream.

  54. #54 mgr
    January 22, 2007

    Sarah–yes, you can comment regarding Finland, but I like numbers and appropriate comparisons (they help in seeing pattern). In isolation, I guess Finland is a socialist hell hole. However, both the homicide and suicide rates are lower than Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania according to WHO mortality data. I guess a homicide rate of m–4.2/f–1.8 (2001) compares unfavorably to the USA homicide (1999) rates of m–9.5/f–2.9.

    Mike

  55. #55 SG
    January 23, 2007

    Um, Ben, your sister’s post both disputes your conclusions about Finland and probably on past experience needs to be taken with a grain of salt. You probably need to update your conclusions, since you used Finland as an example of a country where lots of guns does not mean lots of gun-crime; but Sarah has observed that Finland has very strict gun control. So maybe when there are lots of guns, strict gun control is good? Perhaps when comparing two countries with lots of a thing, the main determinant of how that thing is used would be the laws concerning that thing, not factors affecting the attitudes and lifestyles of those who use the thing? Car accidents, for example, tend to be heavily affected by things like speeding laws.

    In any case, Sarah once described the Japanese as a “puritan people”, so I take her opinion of Finland with a grain of salt.

    I was going to point it out but you said it yourself: your and your sisters views of the role of welfare seem to be heavily dependent on the idea that black people respond differently to welfare than white people (Sarah expanded this to include a whole bunch of non-American brown people). Can you explain a) why this is? and b) if people of different cultures respond differently to welfare, is it the welfare that is the issue, or the culture?

    Kevin P, my point about handguns can be made based on knowledge of edged weapons. The point is: you can’t defend yourself up close with a handgun against something as simple as a knife because you can’t get any weapon out in time to defend yourself; therefore a self-defense strategy based on handguns requires tactics for pre-emption and making distance (as you have agreed). Tactics for pre-emption rely on being jumpy and sketchy about strangers (otherwise they contain no pre-emption), as you have admitted; tactics about making distance rely first and foremost on skills outside the weapon (as you have observed) and make as much distance for your opponent as for you. In the former case (pre-emption) guns significantly increase the risk of jumpiness leading to innocent people being injured (please explain how this is not the case); in the latter case, criminals who are armed (as they can be in societies with lax handgun laws) gain the same benefit from your distance-creation tactics as you do.

    None of these considerations require any knowledge of firearms, only knowledge of how quickly someone can stab you before you can get a weapon out of wherever you are storing it. Your post disputing this simply reiterated the things that I had already said, and revealed that everything you have been taught agrees with them. So we can conclude that the only benefit of your “packing heat” is that you walk around in a perpetual state of fear.

    Which is probably why Australians consider the idea of carrying concealed handguns to be so crazy – a bunch of scared, jittery people with guns is just flat-out bad.

  56. #56 dopey
    January 23, 2007

    Just a spectator to this discussion and always felt that I was agnostic on the private arms issue, but that (SG) was pretty well put!

  57. #57 ben
    January 24, 2007

    I was going to point it out but you said it yourself: your and your sisters views of the role of welfare seem to be heavily dependent on the idea that black people respond differently to welfare than white people (Sarah expanded this to include a whole bunch of non-American brown people). Can you explain a) why this is? and b) if people of different cultures respond differently to welfare, is it the welfare that is the issue, or the culture?

    (a) Sarah and spent a few years of our lives living in subsidized housing with people on welfare. They were all white. They were mostly pretty scummy and they didn’t mind taking money for nothing.

    I’m actually pretty happy with most of the state of welfare in the USA as it is becoming the “safety net” it should be instead of a disgusting way of life, what with the time limits and all.

    Welfare as a blank check is a disaster in the long run, independent of culture, the only thing culture will do is influence how long welfare will take to have a corrupting influence.

    In the former case (pre-emption) guns significantly increase the risk of jumpiness leading to innocent people being injured (please explain how this is not the case);

    Not true. There is zero data to back this up. In fact, the data show that this is untrue.

    So we can conclude that the only benefit of your “packing heat” is that you walk around in a perpetual state of fear.

    If you say so, but I disagree. I occasionally feel moderately uneasy when I’m not armed coming home late from school at night, but I have yet to feel that way when armed.

  58. #58 SG
    January 24, 2007

    Ben, your time in subsidized housing signifies nothing. Nor, really, does Sarah`s rant about race in Finland. Finland has a high crime rate, but it can`t be due to welfare or immigration – France has a welfare state, no work ethic, heaps of immigrants and the same rate of gun ownership as Finland, but has a lower murder rate (half). An alternative explanation, provided by the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, is:

    As a result of recent changes in Finnish alcohol policy and of intoxicant abuse in our country, the violent crime rate for Finland will probably remain high by international standards. In most incidents of violent crime, the perpetrator and the victim know each other.

    Doesn`t sound like the sort of crime you protect yourself against by “packing heat” to me. Or much to do with immigration.

    As for race and welfare: can you explain why black people become vicious criminals in a welfare state, but white people don`t? Why does Finland (according to your Sister) have to import its criminals in the form of brown-skinned dole-bludging murderers, instead of home-growing white ones?

    Finally, you still haven`t explained how your move-away-and-pull-a-gun scenario is safer for innocent people than not having a gun. Note I said innocent people. Explain how this self-defense tactic does not lead to even a small increase in numbers of people who do not intend to rob you being shot by mistake.

    After all, the view of many people is simple: jittery people with handguns increase the risk of strangers getting shot. You need to explain how someone like you, tooled up and jittery, is no more dangerous to passersby than someone not tooled up and equally jittery in order to a) show we`re wrong in this thoroughly reasonable supposition and therefore b) provide us with a decent reason why this is not a theoretical explanation for the high rates of gun crime in the US. If you can provide us with b) then maybe we could consider your alternative “black welfare bludgers” argument, but until you do, well, it seems entirely reasonable to suppose that more people carrying more guns against more heavily armed criminals are likely to lead to more dead bystanders. Just like more cars usually = more traffic accidents.

  59. #59 Dano
    January 24, 2007

    Shorter SG (and Dano):

    That’s a great method to protect my children: crossfire caused by ignorance and lack of discipline.

    Best,

    D

  60. #60 ben
    January 24, 2007

    Yep, I agree, the evidence given by myself and my sister are purely anecdotal. I can’t answer your other questions about race, I don’t know. I don’t find any other answers given here any more satisfying than that either.

    Finally, you still haven`t explained how your move-away-and-pull-a-gun scenario is safer for innocent people than not having a gun. Note I said innocent people. Explain how this self-defense tactic does not lead to even a small increase in numbers of people who do not intend to rob you being shot by mistake.

    Lessee, I’m an innocent person in the event that someone tries to harm me and I move away and pull a gun. It seems as though you imply that I would not be so. As to other innocent persons, those not involved at all, the data does not even remotely support your position. You claim that there is a danger posed to innocent persons by others carrying concealed weapons. The data is available, the studies have been done, you are wrong, and the onus is on you to prove that you are right since you made the claim.

    You need to explain how someone like you, tooled up and jittery, is no more dangerous to passersby than someone not tooled up and equally jittery

    I need prove no such thing. You need to prove your unfounded claim that I am “jittery”. Right now it’s only based on your feelings, and that doesn’t pass muster.

    it seems entirely reasonable to suppose that more people carrying more guns against more heavily armed criminals are likely to lead to more dead bystanders.

    While it may seem reasonable to you to suppose that, it is not true. People fair worse in places with strict gun control, such as NY City, Chicago, DC etc. etc. than they do in perfectly well armed Seattle, Portland, Denver, etc…

  61. #61 ben
    January 24, 2007

    Also note that knife attacks don’t necessarily end with a single cut or puncture. I’d rather end up with one cut than with many.

  62. #62 dklsg
    January 24, 2007

    =]

  63. #63 SG
    January 24, 2007

    Ben, regarding yoru comments on guns, here is the basis of the rational thought on guns: guns are designed solely to kill or injure living things, therefore the presence of more guns is likely to lead to more killed or injured living things. Giving people the ability to use guns in public places will lead to more killed or injured people.

    This is a rational position which has led to gun control in many places. It is a similar theory to the idea (proven many years ago) that more cars = more car accidents, more alcohol=more alcoholism, etc.

    Your claim is that the truth is counter-intuitive, i.e. more guns will not lead to more gun-related injuries. Given you r claim is counter-intuitive, and contains a risk to public safety, the onus lies on you to prove that we should not institute controls on a dangerous device.

    In this particular case, I am presenting a subcase of this rational position, that people armed for self-defense with a ballistic weapon are more likely to harm bystanders than people not so armed. This position is not based on gut feeling but a rational appraisal of what will happen: jittery person A thinks person B is out to get them, pulls a gun prematurely, kills or injures B (see Mike`s life story as an example of how this might work). Alternatively, person A knows person B is out to get him, shoots him, misses and kills someone in a nearby house. You need to show me the evidence that this won`t happen. Note this is slightly different to showing me the balance of outcomes will be positive through, for example, a comparison of armed and unarmed states. I and other gun control advocates might argue this would not be a problem if we could institute Japanese-style gun control across all of the US, thus preventing criminals from being heavily armed. This is a different issue. My arguments here and now are about whether a) you are made safer by carrying a gun and b) whether your doing so endangers others around you (not the effect more broadly in society). By “you” in this case I mean you, Ben, not the collective thou.

    These comments are partly a response to accusations of gun-nuttery, partly to support my earlier jibe that you are a Barbarian, and partly to support the general view that Australians have that handgun carriers are a menace to society (by which I mean: in Australia, the practice of carrying a concealed handgun is considered, by 98% of the population, to be a highly criminal and dangerous act, and people who do it are viewed as extremely dangerous and unstable whatever their reasons).

    So here I am talking about individual encounters, not social statistics. The statistics arise when we get to the next layer of debate – is the benefit of you being armed worth the general level of extra collateral damage it causes.

    As for your final comment:

    I’d rather end up with one cut than with many.

    You again show your ignorance of knives. Once you receive one cut you will likely be paralysed or debilitated beyond your ability to think or move at more than a snails pace. You will then be stabbed as many times as your assailant chooses to. Comparing your situation to that of a cop is misleading – they also have body armour, and generally have more control of the situation because they have not been surprised (usually, and especially in the US, they are attending the scene of a crime, not defending themselves).

    For an example of what happens when you play with knives, I recommend you watch a Paul Vrunac knife-fighting video. At the end of these videos he usually finishes by demolishing the assurance that you can, as he charmingly puts it, “ride one on the jugular” with a quite disturbing visual example. His lesson: you need to defend yourself without taking a single injury in order to win a knife fight, no matter what you are armed with.

    (And again, by “knife fight”, I explicitly mean a situation where you are in close melee; we have already separated the make-distance-and-shoot strategy from this scenario).

  64. #64 SG
    January 24, 2007

    Ben, regarding race, I think yours and Sarah`s general arguments seem to be that race is an effect modifier for the effect of welfare on crime. I.e. welfare leads to increased crime, and some races have an even stronger relationship between welfare and crime than others.

    The role of an effect modifier in modifying the relationship between cause A and outcome B does not in itself give any strength to the claim that A causes B, although frequently including the effect modifier enables one to identify the causal relationship between A and B (since it improves statistical accuracy in testing this relationship).

    More importantly, however, the effect modifier is not necessarily causally related to A (in fact, I think it has to be not causally related to A, just as a confounder should not be). In practice this means you need to come up with a separate explanation (from the theory underlying the field you are investigating) for the role of the effect modifier. So for example in studies of asbestosis, the effect modifier of asbestos exposure on asbestosis is smoking, and the explanation is that smoking is a separate, independent cause of lung damage, and this lung damage accelerates the development of asbestosis.

    So in this case, you need to come up with a theory (for example, from social science) as to why blacks show a stronger association between welfare use and crime to whites. This is separate to your claim that welfare causes crime, a claim which in itself needs to be considered within the context of the potential confounding variable of poverty.

    People on this blog have given you that theory – slavery and its effects on black people`s history, culture and current wealth. Your theory seems to be that black people get more welfare than white people. If this is the case, then race is a confounder, not an effect modifier, and the correct conclusion is that welfare causes crime.

    In order to support this contention you need to exclude the obvious confounder, poverty. It could be that blacks receive more welfare because they are poorer. In this case, welfare is a marker for poverty (it is on the causal pathway from poverty to crime), and it is poverty which causes crime.

    As a good example of how you can prove this to me, you could find your sister`s mythical “index of violent crime” which Finns supposedly score very highly on. There is also an index of how closely targeted welfare is to poverty (Australia, for example, targets welfare very accurately to poverty according to this index). You could then show that inefficient welfare allocation as measured by this index leads to higher violent crime as measured by Sarah`s Mythical Index (the SMI). There is probably already a paper on this. But if there isn`t, you get me the SMI and the welfare-target index data (let`s call it SG`s Mythical Index, the SGMI), we can write a paper together and publish in Soc Sci Med. And we won`t have been funded by anyone called Joyce! (Although we may have to credit the Goddess Procrastination in my case).

  65. #65 ben
    January 25, 2007

    In this particular case, I am presenting a subcase of this rational position, that people armed for self-defense with a ballistic weapon are more likely to harm bystanders than people not so armed.

    On this I fully agree. I claim that the increased risk is minuscule, however. In the end, this is America, and we carry guns. We hate tyranny and will never stand for it. This requires constant vigilance and readiness. If non-Americans don’t like it, then tough. If other Americans don’t like it, then tough bananas. If they can ever get a supermajority of the people AND the states to agree with them, well then they can have their way. Otherwise, it’s tough bananas all over again.

    On what you say about race, yep, that is correct. Being black obviously doesn’t cause you to suffer more in a welfare system, not directly. Of course it has to do with many other socio-economic factors.

  66. #66 SG
    January 25, 2007

    We hate tyranny

    funny. Do you really think that armed citizens are going to protect themselves from government tyranny? And why is it only Americans who believe this? (Don`t quote the war of Independence – you had French help). I suppose, though, the view is catching on – Iraqis seem to agree with you.

    If non-Americans don’t like it, then tough

    Ah, Ben, if this is the case – why are you posting critical comments on a blog run by an Australian, to an anti-gun post by an Australian? Clearly there is more to your position than this sort of bravado, and I can`t help but think that you are falling back on this argument because you know that there is no rational defense of your right to carry a lethal weapon under your coat.

    Of course it has to do with many other socio-economic factors.

    which would be, what? A history steeped in slavery and struggle and poverty? And if so, why does your sister blame all those non-Finns for Finland`s crime rate? They aren`t black, after all. It seems that everyone except white people has some cultural reason to be a criminal in her worldview.

    And if this analysis is incorrect then you have to fall back on the claim that it is welfare which causes crime – against the evidence of the country being cited. Your arguments seem to be a mess of contradictions, while Occam`s razor would give us something like – heaps of grumpy poor people in America have uncontrolled access to guns; meanwhile, heaps of grumpy poor people in Finland, Australia and France (23% gun ownership, much lower murder rate than Finland, high ethnic intake, social tensions) do not have uncontrolled access to guns.

    In fact one key difference between these countries and the US is probably the handgun laws…

  67. #67 mgr
    January 25, 2007

    ben said–”Being black obviously doesn’t cause you to suffer more in a welfare system, not directly.”

    Gah–what is the metric by which you are making this measurement? Moynihan’s report should be your baseline:
    http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm

    The report is an easy read. In it you will find some interesting data on drug use, crime, depedency, etc. It’s failing is in its interpretationof the problem, as it implicitly presumes the model for economic success as the male domininant nuclear family, and assigns a pathology to black poor families as being female dominant (ignoring the extended nature of such family networks), and places its focus on uplifting the black male. My quick read is that its sexism fails to note that the target should be the adult female, and to ignore the puritanism of men and women living together out of wedlock–common law marriage regardless.

    The historical problem is that being black and poor causes you to suffer in the United States. One can fault affirmative action or welfare if one thinks that it provides false hope of overcoming the persistence of racism to the black poor thus bringing to them greater despair, rather than as a prophylaxis to the dominant class that they have done enough to remedy a problem of their doing, and now the problem rests with the subject class to go it alone.

    Mike

  68. #68 ben
    January 25, 2007

    I suppose, though, the view is catching on – Iraqis seem to agree with you.

    Thanks for making my point for me.

    Ah, Ben, if this is the case – why are you posting critical comments on a blog run by an Australian, to an anti-gun post by an Australian?

    Because he was referring to an American study and critiques of said study by other Americans. The post has political ramifications for America and Americans too.

    In fact one key difference between these countries and the US is probably the handgun laws…

    Not true. England has ALWAYS had a much lower homicide rate than the USA. This was true when England had no gun laws, and it is still true today. If your conjecture was true, England’s homicide rate would have dropped relative to the USA instead of what is really happening, which is that it is the same to increasing.

    mgr, the black poor (in general), like much of the poor (in general), have adopted a culture that is incompatible with the middle class. It doesn’t matter if it’s that M&M guy or anyone else, but the *gangsta* hip-hop, in your face and all that is abhorrent to myself and many others. Race has nothing to do with it.

    And yes, it is hard for people to change their culture. Supposedly it takes three generations of hard times to come into the mainstream. It was true for every other group who came to america, and they all assimilated because they couldn’t or didn’t play the victim game.

    Finally, if it is racism, then how do you explain the success of West Indian black people in America? If it was racism, then a simple difference of culture couldn’t make any difference in outcome.

  69. #69 mgr
    January 25, 2007

    Ben,
    1.) Your world view is logically inconsistent. You appear to hold two self contradictory notions–you seem to be saying there is no social mobility, and that there is.

    2.) “the black poor (in general), like much of the poor (in general), have adopted a culture that is incompatible with the middle class.”

    Do you recognize what is implicitly racist or classist in this statement? The criterion for assimiliation is for a large proportion of a ethnic group to be in the income brackets and professions consistent with the middle class. It says nothing about culture. You seem to be arguing that the poor (black and white) do not have a work ethic (classist). If you are not, then any aspect of african american culture can be determined inconsistent with middle class culture simply because it is not the way WASPs do it (racist).

    Do you take issue with punk and Goth as you do gangsta rap? Why or why not?

    3.) Let me see, I explain why comparison to Chinese was inappropriate as far as the personal wealth question goes, now you would like me to address West Indians. The same arguments apply, with the caveat that permit the West Indians to experience racism in the United States over several generations, and let’s see how well they are assimilated vis a vis the african american poor.

    4.) I conclude that your arguments and positions support my contention that you are in fact a Barney Fife, which to be fair, is only because I know of no caricature that captures my image of you as a prissy boy George Will on foot with a gun in a mixed neighborhood around sunset (It gives a whole new dimension to ‘made my knees knock’.). Your observations upon black culture strongly support my argument that hand gun advocates’–like yourself– need to pack heat is partially motiviated by irrational racial fears.

    Mike

  70. #70 ben
    January 25, 2007

    Do you recognize what is implicitly racist or classist in this statement?

    It is not even remotely racist. It might be classist, but then, I am classist. Class in terms of behavior, not in terms of economic status. There are plenty of rich folks who are low class. Paris Hilton and MM come to mind.

    How many white/black/asian/hispanic homies do you know who work in science and engineering? I know none. I know of none. All the affirmative action in the world cannot help someone who has adopted the “gansta” lifestyle.

    Yes, there are plenty of poor people with excellent work ethic. They are high class people, regardless of economic status or race.

    Yes, the punk and goth “lifestyles” are a pathetic waste of time. But most of that is entirely superficial. Just like when an otherwise middle class high school kid gets into the gangsta thing. It’s more or less harmless to that extent.

    Er, West Indian blacks are just as black as any other (by West Indian, I’m referring to Jamaicans and similar). So how can racism be directed differently toward them than to their non-West Indian counterparts?

    …no caricature that captures my image of you as a prissy boy George Will on foot with a gun in a mixed neighborhood around sunset

    Prissy boy? Heh, That’s not the first time I’ve been called something like that by commenters on this blog. Who’s George Will?

    Won’t this thread ever die? Die thread die! You’ve gone on too long. Hitler!

  71. #71 mgr
    January 25, 2007

    Ben–you are just digging the hole deeper. Switching the meaning of ‘class’ to refer to behavior from economic standing is a clumsy and dishonest rhetorical strategy, since the implications I pointed out still remain. Possessing an ethnocentric and provincial superiority regarding one’s cultures and practices is the soul of discrimination and prejuidice.

    I work for one of the largest engineering firms on the West Coast, and yes, we have ‘homies’, and in fair abundance too. Something to do with college grads over the last two decades having a penchant to dress and behave like their cohort. We focus on what they can do, and ignore the attire as long as it is field and office appropriate.

    “Er, West Indian blacks are just as black as any other (by West Indian, I’m referring to Jamaicans and similar). So how can racism be directed differently toward them than to their non-West Indian counterparts?”

    Playing the obtuse again? Primarily the West Indians coming to the USA are few, and mostly from Hispanola, and Cuba. They in their countries of origin were the middle or upper class. Because of the amount of melanin, the racism and discrimination they experience as part of their assimilation into this culture, might result in their being ghettoized in a manner similar to the african american poor currently. It is hard to be a discriminated against as a minority in a country where practically everyone shares that same history.

    Mike

  72. #72 Hellion
    January 25, 2007

    “firearm ownership and crime … because there was no national survey data available at the state level.”

    I find this implausible. Crime data on a state basis certainly exists. Do national firearm registers not include ownership details down to a level as basic as state of residence ?

  73. #73 ben
    January 25, 2007

    “Possessing an ethnocentric and provincial superiority regarding one’s cultures and practices is the soul of discrimination and prejuidice.”

    Discrimintation, yes. Prejudice, depends. Some cultures are superior to others. If you don’t like that, well, tough bananas.

    “Switching the meaning of ‘class’ to refer to behavior from economic standing is a clumsy and dishonest rhetorical strategy, since the implications I pointed out still remain.”

    I disagree. When I speak of class, that is what I mean. Others may use that term differently, so what? I defined my term, then I used it.

    “I work for one of the largest engineering firms on the West Coast, and yes, we have ‘homies’, and in fair abundance too.”

    They aren’t real “homies”. I don’t give a rats ass how they dress. Do they use correct grammar? If so, then not a homie by my definition. It’s the same thing you refer to with the Goths and punks. The behavior you speak of is entirely superficial. The behavior I refer to is not.

  74. #74 SG
    January 25, 2007

    Ah, Ben, worming and weaving to avoid recognising the role of slavery in putting black people in a different position to white people.

    This is a classic libertarian trick though, isn`t it? Everyone else points out to you that there is a clear historical reason why one group are suffering more difficulties than any other, and instead of admit it and argue that your policies will fix it best, you downplay it. How could 200 years of being someone else`s property still have ramifications for black poverty or white peoples` view of blacks today? My god, it`s been 50 years since segregation ended, how could black people possibly< \i> be suffering any ill effects from it now?

    Finally Ben, you claim that England has always been less violent than the US. Given your continued failure to present a number, and the continued incorrectness of your statistics (1 million DGUs, “lots” of statistics supporting a view you yourself then conceded had to be incorrect), I will believe your claim when I see it. In any case, if it is the case that the US mindset is especially violent (which someone else here has posited, but which I frankly find incomprehensible given your combined reluctance and failure in all forms of violent activity), surely this is yet another reason to limit access to tools which improve the efficiency of your inclinations? Or is this just another rational position which you will present a completely topsy-turvy, counter-intuitive defense against?

  75. #75 ben
    January 25, 2007

    Kevin at The Smallest Minority does a good job of dealing with young black male violence AND the UK vs USA gun problem here.

    Your clear historical reason is the worst possible way to look at the problem. It seeks conflict where there should be a cure. It sets the stage for “reparations” which make no sense, as the parties involved are long since dead.

    So far, you haven’t proposed a solution to the problem of black poverty in America anyway. Do you have a proposal? Wealth redistribution? Forced integration in every aspect of life? What?

  76. #76 SG
    January 25, 2007

    at the present time you are far more likely to be assaulted in England than in the U.S. – you just don’t kill each other as often, as has been the tradition since the turn of the last century

    Why would that be I wonder? I think Kevin`s analysis of the issue conveniently ignores the possibility that the British were never armed with guns, and also the long British tradition of banning attempts at using whatever the latest weapon is for self-defense. Britain banned duelling, for example, in the 17th century – this is gun control from long before the 20th century. Has the US ever passed such a law?

    As for the problem of comparing non-blacks in the US with all of Europe, this is still hardly a pleasant comparison. You mean that the white middle class population of the US commits murder at the same rate as a European population which includes the poorest – all those rioters in France, all the brown people Sarah claims are destroying Finland? Hardly an argument in favour of US crime rates. And how would it turn out if you removed the poor from European calculations?

    Kevin`s argument also removes race from the question and blames crime on welfare, without considering properly that welfare is a marker of poverty. He hasn`t added anything that hasn`t been covered here.

    No, Ben, you remain hoist on the same petard: either crime in the US is race-related for some cultural reason; or it is related to welfare, and probably therefore poverty unless you can find a way to separate these two phenomena.

    And while the clear historical reason may be the “worst way to look at the problem”, it is the truth. Your friend Kevin likes to dispense hard facts like a contrarian, so you need to take one: white people oppressed black people in the US, and now you are paying the price. Until you find a way to cure the problem, you will continue to have conflict. As a libertarian you can`t suggest a cure except a state of social conflict (competition without welfare), but this is exactly what black Americans are doing now and you are all living in fear of it and blaming it for all your problems. You also refuse to accept the role of society in ameliorating past problems, so can`t comprehend how to cure the problem anyway.

    And finally, you say “reparations” make no sense because the parties involved are long dead. But there are still people around now whose education (and therefore opportunity at wealth) was impeded by segregation in the 50s; people who grew up in one parent families because their parents or grandparents were killed in lynchings; people who are poorer because their black parents were refused promotions or combat duties in the army during world war 2; people who were denied work on the basis of their race. The cultural phenomenon of slavery is still extending its nasty tentacles all through black and white society in the US, and only someone who denies the role of society in shaping our wellbeing would be able to deny this. i.e. only a libertarian would deny this.

  77. #77 ben
    January 26, 2007

    Who do I see about getting reparations for my long distant ancestors. I’m sure some were slaves at one point or another if you go back far enough.

  78. #78 ben
    January 26, 2007

    Lott has something to say about the data. According to him, fixes in the data result in exactly the opposite result of the paper. Tim, I’m sure you’ll want to check this for yourself.

  79. #79 SG
    January 26, 2007

    Ben, slavery isn’t a joke that you can laugh away in such a manner. This response is the classic back-handed way of saying “I don’t care about this crap”. Not a way to have your opinions taken seriously …

  80. #80 ben
    January 27, 2007

    What exactly would you like me to do about it?

  81. #81 John Wright
    February 2, 2007

    Just observing some of the local flora and fauna on this blog and I’m finding some bizarre, incredibly irrational views.

    “In these analyses, states within the highest quartile of firearm prevalence had firearm homicide rates 114% higher than states within the lowest quartile of firearm prevalence.”

    Uhhhh… YEAH…. and states within the highest quartile of knife prevalence will have stabbing homicide rates many times higher than states within the lowest quartile of knife prevalence: the point is that it’s not the tool that’s used but the intention of those who use it that causes homocide. Really what about this is so damned difficult to understand? If there are more guns in a given state then more homocides are going to occur using guns. It’s blatantly IRRELAVENT, unless one wishes to consider knife control, hammer control, or glass bottle control alongside gun control.

    Anyway, sorry to interrupt. Back to playing, children.

  82. #82 Anton Mates
    February 2, 2007

    Uhhhh… YEAH…. and states within the highest quartile of knife prevalence will have stabbing homicide rates many times higher than states within the lowest quartile of knife prevalence: the point is that it’s not the tool that’s used but the intention of those who use it that causes homocide.

    Keep reading:

    “Overall homicide rates were 60% higher. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide was driven by gun-related homicide rates; non-gun-related homicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.”

    The important thing is that those states had many more homicides period, because they had so many more gun-related homicides. It’s not just that guns claimed a greater fraction of the homicide count.

    To use your example, it’s as if you handed out knives to everyone, and the stabbing death rate immediately went way up while the non-stabbing-related homicide rate didn’t change. In that case you’d have good reason to conclude that, no, it’s not the intention, it is the tool.

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