Glenn Reynolds argues that if only more people had guns, there would be fewer mass shootings. Unfortunately he gets his facts wrong.

If there were more responsible, armed people on campuses, mass murder would be harder.


In fact, some mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. Though press accounts downplayed it, the 2002 shooting at Appalachian Law School was stopped when a student retrieved a gun from his car and confronted the shooter. Likewise, Pearl, Miss., school shooter Luke Woodham was stopped when the school’s vice principal took a .45 from his truck and ran to the scene. In February’s Utah mall shooting, it was an off-duty police officer who happened to be on the scene and carrying a gun.

In fact, the 2002 shooting at the Appalachian School of Law stopped when the shooter ran out of ammunition. Two armed, off-duty police officers did help capture the shooter, but did not stop the shooting. In Pearl, Joel Myrick used a pistol to capture Luke Woodham as he was escaping from the scene. In Utah, the off-duty police officer was able to intervene during the shooting. But no-one is arguing that police should not have guns.

If we turn to peer-reviewed research instead of anecdotes, Duwe, Kovandzic and Moody in Homicide Studies 2002 6:4 found:

Right-to-carry (RTC) laws mandate that concealed weapon permits be granted to qualified applicants. Such laws could reduce the number of mass public shootings as prospective shooters consider the possibility of encountering armed civilians. However, these laws might increase the number of shootings by making it easier for prospective shooters to acquire guns. We evaluate 25 RTC laws using state panel data for 1977 through 1999. We estimate numerous Poisson and negative binomial models and find virtually no support for the hypothesis that the laws increase or reduce the number of mass public shootings.

They did find some evidence that carry laws increase the number of people killed and wounded in mass public shootings, but this was in only one of the models.

Over at Reason Jacob Sullum ignores Duwe’s work and instead cites a paper by discredited researcher John Lott. A paper that Lott was unable to publish in journal. A paper that claims that carry laws reduced mass shootings by an unlikely 89%. Lott, by the way claims Duwe “gets the same results I do”.

Comments

  1. #1 RWB
    April 18, 2007

    Michael Bellesisles was rightly discredited when his questionable research was exposed. But Lott’s research (and his personal behavior in promoting his research) have likewise been thoroughly discredited. Why does anyone still listen to him?

  2. #2 Thom
    April 18, 2007

    RWB, the reason Bellesiles discredited research is no longer cited is because, unlike Lott, Bellesiles never had the benefit of ideological constituency of think tanks and talking heads to continue beating the war drum.

    Conservatives continue to be dishonest on this issue and seem perfectly content hawking discredited research.

    For further examples, see also global warming skeptics.

  3. #3 alexander justice
    April 18, 2007

    It seems like the most horrific spree shooters anticipate their own suicide, so why would they be deterred by the possibility of armed civilians?

    The sad thing – and I’m speaking as a descendent of veterans of our War for Independence – is that the right to bear arms is based on the right to resist tyranny. But given that the government is always more heavily armed that the citizen (I have no nukes, no jets, not even a tank or two), there really is no reason for me to run around buying Glocks. My ancestors only won because the tyrant in Paris wanted to interfere with the tyrant in London.

    It would be interesting to know if the antisocial types who buy these weapons legally would be capable, given their antisociality, of obtaining them illegally. Doing things illegally often requires connections and a real ease with social situations, which these kids don’t have.

    I’m all for serious constitutional reform in the US. Unfortunately, there is a hard core of citizenry here who have made the Constitution into their Golden Calf (even thought their own sacred texts tell them not to). If we had reformed the Constitution in a timely way, we wouldn’t be suffering the misadministration of George W. Bush, either.

  4. #4 James
    April 18, 2007

    August Pollak had a good take on the idea:

    If you want to debate gun control, by all means. But to suggest that there would be no potential complications to a situation where a madman with a gun was running around, and everyone else also had guns and knew nothing about the situation except they should kill whoever they see with a gun, is a failure of understanding of the human condition at its highest level.

  5. #5 Krish
    April 18, 2007

    I would like to point out to the study made by a Rutgers Sociologist which clearly debunks John Lott’s argument.

    http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/econojunk.doc

  6. #6 Redbeard
    April 18, 2007

    Ah, yes. College students are noted for their continuous sobriety and wise decision-making. They must always be armed.

  7. #7 romunov
    April 18, 2007

    When will people realise that guns are not the problem. It’s the people who are nuts. Change _that_.

  8. #8 Clark
    April 18, 2007

    It seems to me that both sides are pretty disingenuous in all this. I’ve been listening to the debate for some time and it doesn’t seem like the facts unambiguously favor one side or the other. All sides over simplify or cast their opponents arguments into strawman form. (i.e. the idea that folks with CCPs would simply “kill whoever they see with a gun”)

  9. #9 Ex-drone
    April 18, 2007

    Reynolds presents only a one-way argument to counter an admittedly despicable but still rare event. What would the full cost be of arming people? How many incidental casualties would result across the general population from misfires, handling accidents, horseplay, impulse shootings, misconstrued interventions and abuses of carrying privileges? Is there some desire in the conservative psyche to return to the Wild West, where “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”? If so, we might as well go all the way and bring back the gun belts and holsters. Yee haw!!

  10. #10 Roy
    April 18, 2007

    Try the magic wand test. You get a magic wand, and one wave it will instantly cause to vanish all firearms — real or fake, modern or antique — in private ownership across the nation.

    Q: How long will it take me to kill 32 college students with a gun?

    A: A matter of minutes. I find a campus security officer/police officer, take a hammer to the back of his head, take his gun — a high-capacity 9mm auot — and his extra ammunition — a couple magazines of probably 15 rounds each — and from there it’s matter of how fast I can corner helpless students.

    Now, what good did you magic wand do?

    As long as cops have guns, we will continue to have gun violence. You cannot make the cops give up their guns because they’ll hold onto them — at gunpoint.

  11. #11 Robert S.
    April 18, 2007

    If the Holocaust survivor professor that nut-job in Virginia blew away had been packing (or the first people the guy started shooting at had been) how many more would have lived?

    When you know nobody’s armed, you know you can maximize the number of victims, and you go there. Nuts don’t generally walk into a police station or a court anywhere, or a fast food restaurant in Kansas or North Carolina or Florida etc.

    As far as Virginia, it is considered a “Gold Star Open Carry State”

    Unfortunately for the 30+ people killed by that 1 person, Virgina Tech bans all firearms on campus except those carried by law enforcement officers. Students or faculty who want to keep their guns close must store them at the Virginia Tech Police Department.

    And the shooter knew it.

  12. #12 Ian Gould
    April 18, 2007

    Robert S.: I’m sure his choice of Virgina Tech as a target had nothing to do with him living and studying there.

  13. #13 Joel Shore
    April 18, 2007

    Robert S.: Why would it particularly matter to the shooter whether there might be people with guns there? He was planning to kill himself anyway. And, even if students were allowed to carry guns on campus, would enough do so that the killer would have been stopped before he killed lots of people. And, if enough did, how many other non-mass-shootings would there be on campuses? (Although mass shootings get lots of publicity, my guess is that they account for only a small percentage of the total number of people killed by firearms each year.) And, boy, I would hate to be a policeman in a world where I never knew when I showed up on a crime scene which of the many people brandishing their guns are the “good guys” and which are the bad guys.

    It’s easy to start from this particular situation and hypothesize, “Boy, if someone there had had a gun, maybe they could have killed the shooter before he killed so many.” However, the question is what other consequences this policy would have in situations where now there is not any shooting death but in your ideal world there may be!

  14. #14 jon
    April 18, 2007

    “If the Holocaust survivor professor that nut-job in Virginia blew away had been packing (or the first people the guy started shooting at had been) how many more would have lived?”

    Indeed, and lets posit another hypothetical. Suppose most people involved had been packing and had started drawing guns and reacting after hearing shots and seeing people hurt, how many would have shot each other and how many more people would have been killed ?

    “Unfortunately for the 30+ people killed by that 1 person, Virgina Tech bans all firearms on campus except those carried by law enforcement officers. Students or faculty who want to keep their guns close must store them at the Virginia Tech Police Department.And the shooter knew it.”

    And you have this deep insight into the mind of this demented individual, how exactly ?

  15. #15 guthrie
    April 18, 2007

    Umm, Roy, here in the UK you have it exactly backwards. We have some armed police because some criminals use firearms. However we do not need armed police everywhere all the time.
    What were the stats for US policemen shot with their own weapons again?

  16. #16 Agricola
    April 18, 2007

    While not wishing to line up with Lott or Reynolds (both of whom are no doubt trumpeting this sorry episode as proof of their claims), it is worth remembering that (a) the US is awash with firearms, and (b) banning them, or banning them from areas, will only ever work on the law-abiding, who are of course not the people who go around on killing sprees. In the absence of Police the only way it seems that this idiot would have been stopped is by someone else with a gun.

    In addition, I would point out that Virginia already has CCW (holders were not apparently allowed to carry on campus, however) and that people do not apparently go around having NDs, blowing mistaken individuals away etc.

  17. #17 El Cid
    April 18, 2007

    Well, it’s obvious: only an experiment will help.

    I propose that conservative evangelical Pat Robertson’s Regent University and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University volunteer to carry out a social experiment in which every student, faculty, and campus employee are armed at all times with concealed handguns.

    Let’s see what happens.

  18. #18 MIchael Sutcliffe
    April 18, 2007

    The sad thing – and I’m speaking as a descendent of veterans of our War for Independence – is that the right to bear arms is based on the right to resist tyranny. But given that the government is always more heavily armed that the citizen (I have no nukes, no jets, not even a tank or two), there really is no reason for me to run around buying Glocks.

    Tell that to the insurgents in Iraq. They seem to be able to wage a capable war against a heavily armed government with nukes, jets and tanks quite effectively using small arms and improvised explosives.

  19. #19 ben
    April 19, 2007

    You got that right, Michael. I get that retarded argument all the time, with many many counter examples (Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan vs Soviets etc.) It’s pathetic.

    However, these laws might increase the number of shootings by making it easier for prospective shooters to acquire guns.

    Those researchers are idiots. CCW laws have ZILCH to do with acquisition.

    Now, to really help, we would be able to do something about persons with obvious mental problems. The young man at VT was known by faculty and others to be abnormal. So much so that at least one instructor had a secret code she could use with security if the guy went bananas. She even informed the police about him.

    Same with Kyle Huff, who killed several people here in Seattle last year. He had shot a statue in public in Montana and had not had his weapons taken and was not stripped of his right to own guns.

    In both instances, something could have been done before the fact. In both instances, each deranged person could have just as easily killed as many or more people with a car. With a little more effort, a bomb.

  20. #20 ben
    April 19, 2007

    One last rapid-fire comment: I like how the various European “news” outlets have blamed this shooting on the lapsing of the “assault weapons ban”. If anything could be more easily debunked, that one could. It would be nice if those dips would do their research before they typed.

    And finally, yes, it would be nice if Lott would stop supporting our side. He doesn’t help. His background, and the fact that he’s a lousy debater really detract. My sister heard him on, I think it was Dr. Laura, the other day and she said he was terrible. The anti-gun spokesman clobbered him, which is surprising, since anti-gun types are usually such easy targets.

  21. #21 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    “….banning them from areas, will only ever work on the law-abiding, who are of course not the people who go around on killing sprees.”

    what criminal convictions did the VT shooter have?

    How about the the Amish school shooter?

    You’re probably correct that so long as guns are readily available in some parts of the US, there will be a thriving trade in illegal guns in states with more restrictive laws.

    However, the perpetrators of these mass shootings tend not to be career criminals and for the most part appear to have obtained their guns legally.

  22. #22 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    MIchael Sutcliffe “Tell that to the insurgents in Iraq. They seem to be able to wage a capable war against a heavily armed government with nukes, jets and tanks quite effectively using small arms and improvised explosives.”

    That’s the “capable” war that’s pretty much failed to permanently occupy a single square foot of territory?

    The insurgents have no hope of a military victory over the US, all they can hope for is that the US gives up and goes home. In a domestic conflict within the US that wouldn’t be an option.

    Ben: You got that right, Michael. I get that retarded argument all the time, with many many counter examples (Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan vs Soviets etc

    Except that the Viet Cong were getting heavy weapons up to and including tanks and anti-aircraft artillery from the North and the Mujahadeen victory is usually attributed to the US provision of heavy weapons including, in particular, stinger missiles.

  23. #23 Toby
    April 19, 2007

    Some years ago, two American adademics (Boutwell & Klare) published in Scientific American a study on guns worldwide. They found that the globe was awash with cheap AK-47s and any sizable group of men with weapons and explosives alone could bring a medium sized state to its knees. There example was Liberia where Charles Taylor and 100 men took over the whole state by ruthlessly killing anyone who got in their way and forcibly recruiting teenage boys into their “army”. Taylor was only removed after a lengthy civil war which devastated the country.

    The point being that a citizens group could indeed resist the state, even destabilize it. As happened in Iraq, also. Whether you want to keep your citizenry armed so that a small group might turn on the others is another story. Personally, I think the basis for a democracy is popular support its institutions, not guns in hands of the citizens.

    BTW, a armed group of US citizens did indeed take on the Federal state and win. In the 1870′s, the KKK and various “redeemer” groups in the American South violently prevented blacks from voting. The US government did indeed win the early rounds, but the persistence and ruthlessness of the so-called “redeemders” was in the end victorious. The government gave up in 1876 and withdrew the army from the South. So people can also resist the state in putsuit of an evil objective and force it to back down.

  24. #24 Michael Sutcliffe
    April 19, 2007

    Ian Gould: That’s the “capable” war that’s pretty much failed to permanently occupy a single square foot of territory?

    Tell that to the 3000 deceased coalition troops killed with small arms and improvised explosives.

    (BTW, I support the war and no disrespect intended).

  25. #25 Disinterested Observer
    April 19, 2007
  26. #26 Dunc
    April 19, 2007

    if only more people had guns, there would be fewer mass shootings

    Perhaps Reynolds shuold move to Somalia and see how that theory works out in practice?

  27. #27 dbrown
    April 19, 2007

    I don’t have my copy at hand, so I may not have the details exact, but Elliot Leyton’s Hunting Humans discusses the case of Mark Essex. Essex shot 19 people in New Orleans in 1973. At one point he took refuge on the roof of a hotel. Leyton discusses how there were so many yahoos with guns in the area firing at Essex (and sometimes at other yahoos) that police were delayed in getting to Essex and gravely hindered in restoring order. (Essex was eventually shot by police in a Marine helicopter.) Not exactly a brilliant example of armed citizenry providing a helping hand.

  28. #28 ben
    April 19, 2007

    Good point, dbrown. I’m in favor of a trained armed citizenry. The common folks need training to know what to do in these situations. The role of an ordinary persona armed with a gun in one of these situations really ought to only be to help him/her self and those around them to get to safety until the authorities arrive. For example, if you are in a room, and it isn’t safe to go outside, then the person with the gun can cover the door, which gives them a tremendous advantage over a bad guy trying to get in.

    There ought to be mandatory safety training and tactics taught in school. After all, they do teach what to do in the event of a fire, earthquake or other disaster. They also teach what to do in the event of a nutjob running around with a gun… they just omit what to do in the event you have a gun yourself. It isn’t helpful to the police to have armed civilians who don’t know how to coordinate with the police in the event of a shooting rampage, and it does make the situation more dangerous in some ways. What it does properly do is give the people in the immediate vicinity of the shooting a better option than to simply be lined up against the wall and shot.

  29. #29 ben
    April 19, 2007

    Here’s a question: Suppose you were in a building that was taken over by terrorists of some stripe or other. Suppose you knew that your chances of getting out alive were slim. Suppose one of the bad guys was killed by a sniper and dropped his “assault weapon” there in front of you, while the rest of the bad guys were otherwise occupied so that they didn’t notice. How many here would have any clue what to do next? How to operate the weapon? How to use it effectively?

    If you don’t know, you really should. These things are tremendously simple, but with zero knowledge of them, you won’t be able to fire a single shot, and even if you could, your chances of hitting any targets are small.

  30. #30 Tim Lambert
    April 19, 2007

    ben says:

    >Suppose one of the bad guys was killed by a sniper and dropped his “assault weapon” there in front of you, while the rest of the bad guys were otherwise occupied so that they didn’t notice. How many here would have any clue what to do next?

    Sure. I don’t touch the gun in order to avoid being killed by the sniper. And, uh, how often to you think such a situation occurs outside of fiction?

  31. #31 dbrown
    April 19, 2007

    ben,

    “Suppose…” – that depends on how likely you believe you will find yourself in a building full of terrorists, etc. There are many things people should know – how to swim, how to do CPR, how to change a tire, how to survive in the wilderness – the list goes on. As a Canadian I should know how to speak French and build a snow shelter should a be caught in a blizzard. These are two skills that are not as useful to someone from California, say. Nor do I expect to end up in a building full of terrorists with a dropped weapon beside me. True, the people at VT didn’t expect to be the targets of a deranged shooter, but it all comes down to these things: risk assessment, time, and money. I am a degrees of magnitude more likely to find myself (or my children) at risk of drowning that I am to find myself in a building full of terrorists. It makes much more sense for me to learn how to swim than it does to learn how to handle an AK47. I am much more likely to travel to Quebec than to Iraq, so learning French does me much more good than buying a bullet-proof vest. There are lots of things I should learn, but firearms handling is way down on my list.

    The problem with your example is that there are any number of unlikely scenarios you can conjure up that require some kind of skill and training that a typical person may not have. Suppose I was trapped in a burning building by a security system, and the only way out was to reprogram the system in MC68000 assembly language? Hey, I’m set! Are you?

  32. #32 fatfingers
    April 19, 2007

    “using small arms and improvised explosives.”

    As I’m sure you are aware, Michael, whenever the “insurgents” actually use small arms, they invariably come off second best. Where their comparative advantage lies is in explosives, which the US has been bitterly complaining about precisely because they are not “improvised” but rather sophisticated and likely made in Iran.

  33. #33 Stew
    April 19, 2007

    An interesting theory to arm all citizens. Kind of reminds me of a Star Trek episode,”A piece of the action”, where the population is armed to the teeth and gun play, or heater action, is so common no one seems to take notice, actually they seem to revel in it. At least, in the midst of all out gang warfare, Oxmyx the leader of the largest and deadliest gang finally realizes the futility of their situation and suggests that a unified government may in some way end the senseless, and sickening carnage. How enlightened. The book, a chronicle of Chicago gangland warfare left by a previous crew, was their constitution, and allowed for this slaughter as it is continually referred to throughout the episode, to justify and excuse themselves from the insane violence that surrounds every aspect of their lives. If this wasn’t a piece of fiction I would be mistaken into believing it to be real, when I read about and see the level of gun violence perpetrated in the USA. Its pathetic. Oh by the way, guns do not protect anyone from governmental tyranny, I’ve never heard any politician or government being afraid of an armed citizenry, to the contrary it actually seems desirable. What is it that they know we don’t know. Oh ya, we can kick their sorry asses out if they ever step over that line, and without resorting to violence. Even better, when fully informed about these bastards (all politician to my mind are bastards until they leave office and then I will decide whether they did a good job or not), we the people don’t even have to elect them. Democracy is the hedge thats suppose to negate the necessity of violence, especially of those who are tyrannical and ruthless at heart. Where the hell did democracy go in the USA, damn where’s Captain Kirk when you need him? Scotty beam me up.

  34. #34 dcbob
    April 19, 2007

    I look forward to the day when all manner of weaponry will be free to exist on this planet without the spectre of human activities to disturb their blissful peace ….

  35. #35 richard
    April 19, 2007

    “..I’m in favor of a trained armed citizenry…”

    Fine, but you are not going to get one. Most Americans who carry now will resist the notion of being ‘indoctrinated’ by others on how guns should be used. After all, if you have a right to bear arms, that right could be diminished by a training requirement. The USA is not Switzerland, after all.

  36. #36 El Cid
    April 19, 2007

    Hey, since a lot of guns-without-regulation folks and the NRA believe that crime rates go down as gun carrying increases…

    …and given that crime rates are highest in inner city poor neighborhoods…

    …where are all the NRA programs to donate guns, bullets, permits, weapons, and trainings to poor, inner city, and minority communities?

    Surely once East Oakland were better armed, there would be a lot less gang violence and cops would feel safer too!!

    Where are all these inner-city weapons programs by the NRA?

    For that matter, why isn’t the NRA donating such free weapons, ammo, permits, and training to any woman fearing stalking by her ex, which is one of the most common gun-use murders?

  37. #37 snoey
    April 19, 2007

    Another data point on the more arms make you safer argument from those with actual experience.

    I was once informed by someone in a position to know such things that the FBI and organized crime had an understanding that full auto weapons and plastic explosives were out of bounds. In other words the criminals would not consider themselves bound by vows of silence when informing on anyone using them, the cops would ignore other violations that came to light while acting on that information, and everybody would have a much better chance of staying alive.

    I can’t provide any verification, but in a nation awash in contraband those two things seem to be scarce.

  38. #38 MikeB
    April 19, 2007

    Ben – ‘Here’s a question: Suppose you were in a building that was taken over by terrorists of some stripe or other. ‘

    At this point Captain Mainwaring would be telling L-Corp. Jones that he was ‘entering the realms of fantasy’…

  39. #39 Robert S.
    April 19, 2007

    Ex-drone: You watch too many westerns. Most people had a least a rifle in the home, and many walked around armed. There weren’t people shooting each other all over the place anytime somebody caused a problem (not even the problem causer). It was an interesting time, and one that was in general very safe. Safer than D.C. or New York is today, that’s for sure.

    dbrown: Isolated incident. I’m not sure a story about how people act in New Orleans is a good example, anyway. It’s a tourist town. Normally in cities hardly anyone has a concealed permit or caries, in general.

    ben: The U.S. has a huge number of citizens that have been in the military (regular or National Guard) and all have had at least rifle training, some many years of carrying them and going to ranges. Tons of folks in and out of the NRA go to ranges and take classes.

    Ian: Oh, sure, it looks like he did it because he hated them personally, yes. But knowing they were fish in a barrel (as they were) made him able to get 30+. (Him chaining the doors helped.) But I don’t think he would have tried it if it were co-workers in a courthouse (or a store that didn’t prohibit an employee carrying, as most do) and if he had, it wouldn’t have been as many.

    Jon: He was a student there for quite a while. That’s what the school tells them.

    Joel: Usually police on the street have no issue with concealed permit holders, in fact, many consider CCW civilians as a welcome built in backup. The bureaucrats frequently aren’t happy with them. Nothing says that if you let CCW holders carry into school you can’t limit it (say, to professors or those over 30), make them prove their proficiency and mental health, and have them register that they are CCW with campus police. A female professor trained in firearms with one in her purse, say.

    In general, it takes a certain mindset and aura to want to and actually carry, even in states like Florida with a “Shall Issue” CCW stance (39 states total). These folks don’t just start blasting everything they see in wild abandon. It just doesn’t happen.

    Except for colleges “passing” their own laws, Virgina doesn’t just issue CCWs. They permit all non-prohibited citizens to OPENLY carry and WITHOUT permit or licence, including on foot and in vehcicles (11 states are like that in fact)

    Open carry with a permit is allowed in 13 states. Another 18 variously allow it.

    Only 7 states and D.C. basically disallow it. Are those 43 states bloodbaths? Or the 48 states that variously issue CCW, are they?

    Vermont (age 16) and Alaska (age 21) consider non-felons having a fundamental right to carry without a permit.

    In 2006, only Wisconsin, Illinois and D.C. have no CCW. Both the states passed them, but the governers vetoed. (In 2006, Kansas overrode their governer’s veto of one.)

    In addition, the LOAS authorizes any “qualified law enforcement officer” (active and retired) to CCW anywhere in the U.S. (some exceptions of course).

  40. #40 Robert S.
    April 19, 2007

    Remember Colin Ferguson? Killed 6 and wounded 19 at the Merillon Ave Stn stop of the LIRR in New York? Three guys stopped him, luckily (probably ran out of bullets). He knew they’d be unarmed.

    In Florida, the crime rate motivated them to pass “shall issue” CCW permits (have to pass a safety course first) in 1987. By 1994 they had issued 250,000 of them. (They’ve issued a total of 800,000 so far) While it doesn’t appear to have had an immediate effect, from 1987 to 2005, the population went up from 12 million to 17 million. The violent crime rate is about the same now as it was. Murder (by 1/3) and robbery (by 1/4) are down: rape (by 1/12) and aggravated assult (by 1/5) are up. No correlation is suggested or implied, simply some figures.

    During the period from 1987 to 1994, out of the 250,000 CCW permits, 19 were revoked for firearms related offenses. There were not any incidents of licence holders having their guns take, shot anyone unlawfully or by accident, or was killed defending themselves.

    Interesting story; this prompted many criminals to start targeting tourists (rental cars) instead of residents. This prompted Florida to pass a law making it so rental cars couldn’t be identified as being one!

    Regardless of the fact that basically every state issues CCW permits now and the trend being more freedom for the law abiding (tending to prove the states themselves believe what most “gun nuts” think about the 2nd Amendment (In actuality, the 2nd and parts of the 5th, 14th and 9th)), most states have more plainly (modernly) written right to bear arms provisions in their own constitutions.

    Regardless, it would be impossible to disarm everyone in the U.S. Who’d trust a government that would want to? Everyone would refuse to give them up, assuming the police and/or military would even try. What would be the point, anyway? There are too many to moniter even if anyone would let you.

    There’s more than one reason to put in a right like that. Maintain individualism. You trust your citizens. They are tools that’re useful at times. It helps ensure the population remains free, from other governments or even your own. (Although I agree it’s probably more a belief in institutions, and the social structure.)

  41. #41 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    Michael Sutcliffe: “Ian Gould: That’s the “capable” war that’s pretty much failed to permanently occupy a single square foot of territory?

    Tell that to the 3000 deceased coalition troops killed with small arms and improvised explosives.

    (BTW, I support the war and no disrespect intended).”

    I don’t support the war and while I have nothing but the greatest respect and sympathy for the men and women who are fighing it I have no respect for the arrogant incompetent fools who sent them there.

    I will remind you of the following paraphrased conversation which supposedly took place been US General Westmoreland andNorth Vietnamese General Giap:

    Westmoreland: “You know, in the course of the entire war we never lost a single battle.”

    Giap: “Yes but in the end it didn’t matter, did it?”

    Like the Viet Cong, the Iraqi insurgents can’t win militarily against the US, they can win politically.

    The insurgency isn’t monolithic, Al Qaida’s objective is to weaken the US militarily and economically and radicalise the arab world. From that point of view, every single day the US remains in Iraq is a victory fro Al Qaida.

    The Iraqi nationalist wing of the insurgency’s objective is US withdrawal, whenever and however that occurs, they’ll claim it as a victory.

    In other words, the US is screwed whether it stays or leaves, which is why you should never have invaded in the first place.

  42. #42 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    “Q: How long will it take me to kill 32 college students with a gun?

    A: A matter of minutes. I find a campus security officer/police officer, take a hammer to the back of his head, take his gun — a high-capacity 9mm auot — and his extra ammunition — a couple magazines of probably 15 rounds each — and from there it’s matter of how fast I can corner helpless students.”

    Yes because obviously attacking an armed man with a hammer is just as easy as walking into a gun shop, producing a credit card and waiting the mandatory waiting period.

    Oddly enough, the scenario you describe seems to never happen in Canada, Australia, Japan, the UK or any of the other countries with restrictive handgun laws.

  43. #43 trrll
    April 19, 2007

    The largest body count in a school shooting before this was Charles Whitman at the University of Texas in Austin. The fact that plenty of people carried guns in Texas in 1966 obviously did not deter him, but it probably affected his strategy–he barricaded himself in a high building where he could shoot from cover.

    There have been several “walk around and shoot people” school assaults in the US since that time. This is the first to exceed Whitman’s body count. Even the Columbine killers did not do that, and there were two of them. This case was particularly bad, but I still think that I rather have the killers counting on an unarmed pool of victims and walking around where they are potentially vulnerable than adopting Whitman’s strategy.

  44. #44 Robert S.
    April 19, 2007

    Ian: The war. This is all about breaking up Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, “Palestine”, Pakistan, ex-USSR republics, Syria, and so on and keeping them unable to focus. Ever notice how many nuclear weapons are left over pretty close to north of that entire area? Think that means anything on a global security scale, you know, that same thing the UN is supposed to be doing? They didn’t, so the U.S. did. They did the correct thing, just not soon enough.

    They should have taken that psycho out the first time they were there, in 1990. That was their mistake. That, and letting the UN BS around with him for 12 years. It made us look like wimps, and by us I mean the “Western world” (and the UN). That was bad. And we’re paying for it.

    This isn’t about Iraq; not dealing with him at the time and showing weakness gave some people boldness. The specific country is meaningless, it’s a mindset.

    Explosives and then Chemical bombs (jet-fuel filled airlines) into the heart of western finance? Explosives into Western ships and embassys in Africa? Train bombing in London? Train Bombing in Madrid? Bar bombings in France and Germany? Nerve gas attack in Japan?

    Who exactly do you think is safe in the world? (and no I’m not saying Iraq is to blame, I said it’s not about a country but a mindset, why do you think so many foreigners are drawn to Iraq, and why do you think 99% of the targets are Iraqi civilians?)

    What exactly do you really think this is all about. (Don’t say oil – it can be taken from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait quite more easily than this – paying for it is cheaper than fighting for it)

    This is a clash of cultures, and there is no choice but to win it.

    What that has to do with more guns and less crimes, I don’t know. But I guess one could say, less bombs and less kidnapping and executions with swords, less crimes. Doesn’t seem you need guns to kill people, does it?

  45. #45 Robert S.
    April 19, 2007

    Ian: Why do events like that hardly ever happen in many countries? It’s a specific reason; culture and history.

    That’s the same reason when somebody gets fired in the U.S. they are not at all likely to go home, kill all their children and then themselves but it happens in other places (ones with no guns in fact).

    Nor do rival drug gangs often have open warfare in the streets in the U.S. but it happens in other places.

    You can’t compare countries like that. But if you want to, it happens elsewhere too, and often on a much larger scale (given the number of guns in the U.S. per capita)

    This data is rather old (late 90′s) from the Internation Journal of Epidemiology, polls, UN studies, FBI crime reports, ministry of interiors etc. Numbers are per 100,000 residents except if specified otherwise.

    In 1999 the US had 39% household ownership from a total of 272 million people and 6 murders (4 gun) (again, per 100,000).

    Perhaps it might be nicer in Brazil; out of 160 million, an unknown number of guns. But in 1993, there were 20 murders per, 10 gun.

    Or Taiwan. Unknown number of guns but of 21 million – 8 murders per. But you’ll be happy to know, only 1 is with a gun. Much safer without them, right?

    So if guns are the problem, why did Norway with 5 million and 32% of households with guns have in 1993 1 murder (statistically, none with guns) (.3) (That’s 50 murders total, 30 with guns.)

    Or (to throw up the old standard) Switzerland with 27%. Or New Zealand 22% Those numbers are about the same as Norway — 1 murder per, none with a gun.

    Finalnd is estimated to have a 50% ownership – 3 murders per, 1 with a gun.

    Japan has basically 0 guns. 6.2 out of a million people were murdered in 1994 (125 million people) .2 of those million were with guns. Pity their suicide rate is twice that of the U.S.

    So what does that prove? Yes. Nothing.

  46. #46 z
    April 19, 2007

    Still and all, you seldom hear of 32 people killed by a crazed strangler running wild.

  47. #47 z
    April 19, 2007

    BTW, the Appalachian School of Law Shooting page on Wikipedia is being policed, and the rather extensive analysis from days past on this blog is apparently not considered reliable enough to counter Dr. Lott’s “factual analysis”.

  48. #48 mike
    April 19, 2007

    So what does that prove? Yes. Nothing.

    Well, actually it proves that ethnicity has far more to do with overall crime and murder rates than guns than do. The United States has a far greater percentage of violent non-white minorities than either Australia or the United Kingdom.

    How much narrower would the crime rates of the United States and Australia be if we were only comparing white Americans versus white Australians and we adjusted for appropriate for the high number of interracial victims in the United States?

    I don’t know exactly. But a quick look at NationMaster reveals that Americans as a whole rank only slightly ahead of Australia and the UK in assault, we rank between the UK and Australia in robberies, we rank behind the UK and Australia in burglaries, we rank between Australia and the UK in rapes, and we rank behind Australia and the UK in car thefts. Only in murders do we substantially outrank Australia and the UK. However, when you factor in a black population that commits about half of all U.S. murders and a Hispanic population that is not counted separately from whites in terms of arrests (most Hispanics, mestizos though most may be, are ridiculously counted as “whites” in terms of arrest stats; “Hispanic” is considered only as linguistic-descent category for arrest rates) but is about three times more likely to be incarcerated for murder and most other crimes than whites, the gap between Australian whites, whites in the UK, and non-Hispanic whites in the United States is substantially narrower than the stats indicate without taking race into account.

    More Whites, Less Crime.

  49. #49 z
    April 19, 2007

    “I’m all for serious constitutional reform in the US. Unfortunately, there is a hard core of citizenry here who have made the Constitution into their Golden Calf (even thought their own sacred texts tell them not to). If we had reformed the Constitution in a timely way, we wouldn’t be suffering the misadministration of George W. Bush, either.”

    And yet, they’re willing to bite the bullet and amend the constitution when faced with the dreaded scourges of flag-burning, gay marriages, or married gays burning flags.

  50. #50 mike
    April 19, 2007

    In addition to the Korean at VTech, a Chinese doctorate student went on a rampage at the University of Iowa in the early 90s, a Nigerian student was responsible for the Appalachian incident, and we just had a professor shot dead by an illegal alien from the United Kingdom at the University of Washington. Of course, there was 9/11 and all those Saudis that got in on student visas. There was also the shooting by a native-born son of Algerian immigrants at a campus in Montreal, Canada a while back.

    Sounds like we would do well to keep foreigners out.

  51. #51 z
    April 19, 2007

    “But Lott’s research (and his personal behavior in promoting his research) have likewise been thoroughly discredited. Why does anyone still listen to him?”

    Well:

    “The right has good reason to stick by Lott: “The entire ideology of the modern gun movement has basically been built around this guy,” says Saul Cornell, an Ohio State University historian who has written widely on guns. Over the years the pro-gun intellectual agenda has had two prongs: Defending a revisionist legal understanding of the Second Amendment in constitutional law, and refuting social scientists and public-health researchers who argue that the widespread availability of guns in America plays a key role in the nation’s staggering number of homicides and suicides. Without Lott’s work, the latter argument becomes much harder to make.”
    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/10/we_590_01.html

  52. #52 mike
    April 19, 2007

    “The right has good reason to stick by Lott: “The entire ideology of the modern gun movement has basically been built around this guy,” says Saul Cornell,

    Yeah, because there were no defenders of gun rights before Lott came around. Sheesh!

  53. #53 mike
    April 19, 2007

    How about if we keep our guns and instead we just deport our black and Hispanic populations to Australia where Tim Lambert and like-minded people can advise his own government on what sort of social engineering will be needed to effect those minorities’ high levels of criminality? I’m sure with your liberal prescriptions on crime policy, you’ll have a multicultural paradise nested deep in the South Pacific in no time. :-D

  54. #54 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    “deport our black and Hispanic populations to Australia”

    Yes, I’m sure doing that would have stopped a South Korean from going on a shooting rampage.

    “I’m sure with your liberal prescriptions on crime policy, you’ll have a multicultural paradise nested deep in the South Pacific in no time. :-D”

    Mike, why don’t you take a look at Australia’s current demographic composition before shooting your mouth off?

    Also you might want to explain the lack of similar shooting rampagesin France, (You might recall a few news stories a year or two back that showed that country is hardly a “multicultural paradise”.) Yet somehow its millions of young North African and African citizens, although pissed off enough to riot in the streets, don’t engage in mass shootings,

    I guess you need another scapegoat, Jews and homosexuals are the traditional standbys.

  55. #55 Eli Rabett
    April 19, 2007

    No one might ask why the US did not take Sadaam out in 1990, and you know, you could get a good answer: because the US was not prepared to deal with ensuing chaos.

  56. #56 mike
    April 19, 2007

    Yes, I’m sure doing that would have stopped a South Korean from going on a shooting rampage.

    Did I argue that in the post you are referring to? Go back and read. You can read, can’t you? If you can read, you might notice that I did, in another post, advocate not allowing foreigners into the United States. And yes, that would have certainly prevented this rampage (along with the Appalachian shooting and 9/11 also).

    Mike, why don’t you take a look at Australia’s current demographic composition before shooting your mouth off?

    America is composed of about 35% minorities, mostly blacks and Hispanics. Both grossly disproportionately prone to crime, especially blacks. Australia has, according to the CIA World Factbook, about an 8% minority population, mostly composed of Asians (and most of those, I suspect, East Asians — not exactly the most violence-prone ethnicity in either Australia or the United States). Why don’t you do your homework before making an ass out of yourself?

    Also you might want to explain the lack of similar shooting rampagesin France,

    And you might want to explain the lack of substantial gun crime in Switzerland, a country where automatic weapons are prevalent.

    I guess you need another scapegoat, Jews and homosexuals are the traditional standbys.

    Yeah, because the black crime problem in the United States is as fictitious as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, I’m sure.

  57. #57 Ian Gould
    April 19, 2007

    “And you might want to explain the lack of substantial gun crime in Switzerland, a country where automatic weapons are prevalent.”

    Well we could start by noting the extremely strict Swiss handgun laws and the equally strict laws on owning, storing and transporting longarms (including military rifles).

  58. #58 liberal
    April 19, 2007

    Ex-drone wrote, How many incidental casualties would result across the general population from misfires, handling accidents, horseplay, impulse shootings, misconstrued interventions and abuses of carrying privileges?

    My favorite example is road rage. Making guns a more common ingredient in those episodes would be a stablizing factor. Not.

  59. #59 mike
    April 19, 2007

    Well we could start by noting the extremely strict Swiss handgun laws and the equally strict laws on owning, storing and transporting longarms (including military rifles).

    Sounds good to me. I’ll trade you the Swiss scheme, which will allow me to purchase automatic weapons, for the American scheme that will not. I’m sure the fearsome Swiss-style laws on storing and transporting automatic weapons will be a much more stringent deterrent to criminals, especially non-white criminals, than are the current American laws that prevent ownership of handguns by felons and institutionalized mental patients.

  60. #60 SG
    April 19, 2007

    Hey pro-concealed carry people, two days ago in Nagasaki the mayor was shot dead at point blank range by a gangster armed with a pistol (he was concealed carrying!) He was immediately disarmed and subdued by unarmed passers by.

    Perhaps the problem is not that US citizens need to be armed up, they just need a bit less cowardice?

  61. #61 nanny_govt_sucks
    April 19, 2007

    In fact, the 2002 shooting at the Appalachian School of Law stopped when the shooter ran out of ammunition.

    And was he about to reload, or was that it for his supply of rounds?

    Two armed, off-duty police officers did help capture the shooter, but did not stop the shooting. In Pearl, Joel Myrick used a pistol to capture Luke Woodham as he was escaping from the scene.

    Was he escaping the scene because he saw his Vice Principal approaching with a gun?

    In Utah, the off-duty police officer was able to intervene during the shooting. But no-one is arguing that police should not have guns.

    A very weak argument, Tim! Trained civilian concealing or trained off-duty police officer, what’s the difference?

  62. #62 Graculus
    April 20, 2007

    I did, in another post, advocate not allowing foreigners into the United States.

    What tribe did you say you belonged to, again?

  63. #63 Ian Gould
    April 20, 2007

    “Australia has, according to the CIA World Factbook, about an 8% minority population,…”

    And their definition of “minority” is?

    BTW, what figure do they give for New Zealand?

  64. #64 SG
    April 20, 2007

    America is composed of about 35% minorities, mostly blacks and Hispanics. Both grossly disproportionately prone to crime, especially blacks. Australia has, according to the CIA World Factbook, about an 8% minority population, mostly composed of Asians (and most of those, I suspect, East Asians — not exactly the most violence-prone ethnicity in either Australia or the United States). Why don’t you do your homework before making an ass out of yourself?

    Priceless Mike, priceless. I`m sure that all the Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Egyptians, Indians, Latin Americans, New Zealanders, Britons, Germans, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Islanders, Maoris, Turks and Russians will be surprised to learn they`re not a minority. I think you`ll find the 8% “minority” that the CIA refers to are the Aborigines.

    What is it they say, Ian? That Melbourne has the largest Greek population in the world outside of Athens?

    We do in fact have a multicultural paradise in the pacific, Mike. You`re just too trapped in your own little world to know anything about it.

  65. #65 Disinterested Observer
    April 20, 2007

    Proportionately, Australia has the world’s second largest migrant population (after that well known hotbed of violence, Luxembourg). Around 40% of Australia’s population are either migrants or the children of at least one migrant. It is true that a large number of these migrants came from the United Kingdom or Ireland or New Zealand, so maybe they don’t count as “real” migrants.

    I don’t understand how the CIA factbook gets 8%. My understanding is that the Indigeneous population is under 3%, and I don’t think that the Asian-born population would yet add up to 5%. So the CIA Factbook is is presumably adding up a number of disparate and undefined ethnic groups.

    This article by one of Australia’s most eminent demographers says that around 30% of the Australian population are non “Anglo-Celtic”
    http://elecpress.monash.edu.au/pnp/free/pnpv7n4/v7n4_3price.pdf

    My conclusion is don’t believe everything you read in the CIA “Factbook”.

  66. #66 SG
    April 20, 2007

    Well, it wouldn`t be the first time in recent history that an American was led astray by CIA “facts”…

  67. #67 mike
    April 20, 2007

    Priceless Mike, priceless. Im sure that all the Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Egyptians, Indians, Latin Americans, New Zealanders, Britons, Germans, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Islanders, Maoris, Turks and Russians will be surprised to learn theyre not a minority. I think you`ll find the 8% “minority” that the CIA refers to are the Aborigines.

    Don’t be a moron. I’m absolutely sure that most Italians, Greeks, white New Zealanders, Britons, Germans, Spaniards, and Russians consider themselves white. I’m clearly talking about major racial categories. No, I’m not going to break down Icelanders, Liechtensteiners, Estonians, and Andorrans as “minority groups.” They aren’t considered “minorities” in any serious sense in western nations and drawing such distinctions doesn’t speak to my point at all. Semantic games aside, such people are considered, for all intensive purposes, white people. (Perhaps because they are white people.) For the sort of racial categories I speak of, think along the lines of East Asians, whites, Hispanics, blacks, and Middle Easterners, instead. You know, major, politically-relevant, racial categories?

    Proportionately, Australia has the world’s second largest migrant population (after that well known hotbed of violence, Luxembourg). Around 40% of Australia’s population are either migrants or the children of at least one migrant.

    Wonderful! How many of those are white Europeans though? The fact that AC/DC’s members may have been born in Scotland before their families moved to Australia does nothing to alter the fact that they are still white. Again, blacks (most especially) and Hispanics have much higher crime rates than whites. This isn’t a terribly difficult concept to grasp. You can try to confuse the issue with all sorts of irrelevant distinctions like breaking whites down into subcategories or arguing that white immigrants should be considered separately from white Australians as though such distinctions would somehow alter my argument, but at the end of the day the fact remains that the United States has a much higher proportion of non-whites than Australia does and those non-whites it does have tend to commit a much greater percentage of crime than do white Americans.

    Give it some thought. Try to grasp the following points:

    (1) Australia’s non-white population consists significantly of low-crime East Asians. America’s non-white population consists mostly of high-crime Hispanics and very high-crime sub-Saharan Africans.

    (2) America has a much higher percentage of such high-crime non-white ethnic groups than does Australia or the UK.

    My conclusion is don’t believe everything you read in the CIA “Factbook”.

    My conclusion is that you read the figures in the work you trot out as support for your argument. Here, I’ll do you a big favor and give you a hand this time:

    According to the PDF document you cite, Australia breaks down as follows:

    First are what are commonly referred to as “white people.”

    Anglo-Celtic 69.88%
    North and West European 6.88%
    South European 6.96%
    East European 4.36%
    Jews 0.66%

    Total white %: 88.74%

    The following groups are typically considered East Asian, or, if you prefer it in less PC terms, “Oriental” people. They tend to be less prone to crime than whites are. I’m going to throw South Asians in there, since most of Australia’s South Asian population is apparently composed of upper-caste Indian immigrants who tend to be intelligent, well-educated, and low in crime – unlike Britain’s South Asian population, which is composed substantially of low-IQ, lower-class Pakistanis.

    South Asian: 1.31%
    South East Asian: 2.54%
    North East Asian: 2.72%

    Total Oriental population: 6.57%

    Here is the rest of the population (for those groups above one-half of one percent), with groups like the Lebanese, Pacific Islanders, and Aboriginals who tend to be higher crime populations:

    West Asian and North African: 2.46%
    Aboriginal: 1.51%
    Total Pacific: 0.53%

    Total: A whopping 4.5%. Oooh boy!

    A little less white, but not extraordinarily different from the CIA numbers. Of course, I’ve heard that many claim aboriginal status when they actually have a minuscule amount of aboriginal blood, so even these figures may be skewed a tad high. Also, Arabs are commonly considered “whites” for demographic purposes in the United States.

    4.5% high-crime minorities versus America’s approximately 30% black and Hispanic population? No contest.

    More Whites, Less Crime.

  68. #68 Disinterested Observer
    April 20, 2007

    Should I mention the Mafia? Weren’t the Irish in the US heavily into gangs in the 19th Century? I know white men can’t jump, but I didn’t know they can’t rob banks or run drug rings.

  69. #69 mike
    April 20, 2007

    What tribe did you say you belonged to, again?

    I was born in the United States. I did not immigrate here. No, I’m sorry I don’t adhere to the silly notion that because my ancestors came from somewhere else at some point in history, as did all of our ancestors, that it is automatically a well-advised policy to grant anyone and everyone who might wish to come to the United States either residence or citizenship. Similarly, I do not expect other nations to grant me or any other foreigner free and unrestricted access to their countries, including those countries my ancestors may have originated in.

  70. #70 guthrie
    April 20, 2007

    I think theres a much better correlation between social class and nature of crime. If your a marginalised dark skinned person in inner city UK, you’re most likely to mug someone or get involved in drug dealing. If your a middle class accountant, you’ll fiddle your companies books. Oddly enough, people seem to concentrate on the first perpetrator. That reminds me, here in Scotland they arrest big drugs barons occaisionally. All the ones that I remember happen to have white/ pink skins. I wonder why that would be?

  71. #71 mike
    April 20, 2007

    Should I mention the Mafia?

    No, please don’t. I would take that as evidence you’ve run out of more statistically-oriented arguments and have been reduced to throwing out mere anecdotes in a vain attempt to combat my claims.

  72. #72 Disinterested Observer
    April 20, 2007

    So the Mafia were an anecdote and didn’t make a significant contribution to the scope of crime in the US -or Italy for that matter?

    But do crime rates vary across ethnic groups because some ethnic groups have some sort of inherent tendency to be more criminal than others, or because at different stages of history within countries those different groups are differentially integrated into social and economic structures?

  73. #73 guthrie
    April 20, 2007

    Mike, your falling into the same trap that bedevils racists, namely confusing correlation with causation.

    So, to get sciency on you, what genetic factors influence tendencies to crime?

  74. #74 SG
    April 20, 2007

    Mike, did you mean to say “More whites, more shooting sprees.” Or did I miss something.

    And is Cho one of those “low-crime” east asians you were talking about?

    What a bilious speel! Go read some of the history of Australian racism and you’ll find the same arguments about Lebanese being made now were made about Italians 50 years ago. And Vietnamese (“low-crime” East Asians who were being accused of massive gang crime) 20 years ago.

    And as for the viciousness of claiming Aborigines are “high-crime” after attempted genocide by whites… but I suppose that’s not a crime in your book is it?

  75. #75 Willem van Oranje
    April 20, 2007

    Roy

    Q: How long will it take me to kill 32 college students with a gun?

    A: A matter of minutes. I find a campus security officer/police officer, take a hammer to the back of his head, take his gun — a high-capacity 9mm auot — and his extra ammunition — a couple magazines of probably 15 rounds each — and from there it’s matter of how fast I can corner helpless students.

    Now tell us, why do you think you see security guards or especially police officers always in pairs, never single?

  76. #76 Alex Higgins
    April 20, 2007

    “More Whites, Less Crime.”

    What a crass and revolting statement. It’s a pity such blatant racism (and don’t bother trying to pretend Mike is not a racist) in the normally informative and hygienic comments section of Tim Lambert’s excellent blog.

  77. #77 mike
    April 20, 2007

    So the Mafia were an anecdote and didn’t make a significant contribution to the scope of crime in the US -or Italy for that matter?

    Maybe, way back during Prohibition the mob made a significant contribution to America’s murder rates. But the Mafia isn’t, and never has been, involved in a significant amount of low-level violent street crime. They are not responsible for a great number of rapes, assaults, burglaries, robberies, etc. These are the kind of crimes that tend to worry citizens the most. As far as murders go, as Bugsy Siegel once remarked, they “only kill each other.” That isn’t exactly true, but it is close to the mark. Most mob victims are either other mobsters or people who have willingly entangled themselves with the mob. In any event, the mob isn’t likely responsible for even 1% of all murders that occur in the United States every year. When it comes to violent and property crime, they just don’t matter that much.

    So, to get sciency on you, what genetic factors influence tendencies to crime?

    How about testosterone levels and IQ?

    Mike, did you mean to say “More whites, more shooting sprees.” Or did I miss something.

    No. As I’ve pointed out previously, many of these university shooting sprees have been carried out by non-whites.

    And is Cho one of those “low-crime” east asians you were talking about?

    Koreans in the United States have such a low murder rate that it is likely Cho has significantly brought up Korean-American murder rate for years to come. This massacre is not reflective of Korean criminality overall. You are attempting to use anecdotes as a way of denying statistical facts. The reality remains that East Asians have low crime rates.

    And Vietnamese (“low-crime” East Asians who were being accused of massive gang crime) 20 years ago.

    Funny, because the Vietnamese are one of the exceptions to the generally low criminality of East Asians here in the United States as well.

    And as for the viciousness of claiming Aborigines are “high-crime” after attempted genocide by whites… but I suppose that’s not a crime in your book is it?

    Heh. That’s right! The aborigines are really low-crime people. How could I have missed that?

    What a crass and revolting statement. It’s a pity such blatant racism (and don’t bother trying to pretend Mike is not a racist) in the normally informative and hygienic comments section of Tim Lambert’s excellent blog.

    Ah! The old point-and-sputter argument!

  78. #78 Tim Lambert
    April 20, 2007

    mike, your attempts to blame crime on particular races rather than the criminals certainly seem to be racist to me.

    In any case, they have nothing to do with the topic of this post. Any further off-topic comments by you or others will be deleted.

  79. #79 Robert S.
    April 20, 2007

    Back to more guns less crime. I think you have to break it down by nation to see if this is true, or perhaps do some demographics (of whatever type, let’s say social class) in that nation. If so, I don’t think anyone’s done (or can do) a study proving it, there’s too many variables. But certainly, it’s possible it’s true. Depending on where you’re looking.

    I agree with the article. I just don’t think the premise can be proven, and certainly Tim’s citing of Duwe tends to show that it’s not.

    The problem with Duwe is that the data is from 1977-1999 As I stated earlier, by 2006 all but 2 states and Washington D.C. allow some sort of CCW permit. I don’t know what that does to the statistics on crime for (say 1986-2006 or 1996-2006), but I did include some information on Florida. It just doesn’t really prove anything.

    As I said, the subject has too many variables to attribute anything to just guns, crime up or down. Then we get into the “what if”. If statistics went down, is it because of guns, or would they have been lower without them? If statistics went up, is it because of guns, or would they be higher without them?

    If we’re comparing one place to another to try and prove something one way another, we need to compare similar things and then change one variable. It seems every study anyone’s done, they’ve cherry picked either the factors, considered too many variables, ignored data that didn’t match, or didn’t even bother to compare the same thing.

  80. #80 Matthew
    April 20, 2007

    For all the discussion about gun control after the Virginia Tech disaster, mass shootings like this are so rare that they should be considered as very weird events that don’t have much bearing on more typical crime at all. Whether or not a psychopath would be affected by gun laws is really beside the point, since most of the effect of gun laws would be on “ordinary” crimes.

    Even worse, I get the sense that there’s no good evidence that gun availability is the biggest variable in violent crime one way or the other. From what I understand, factors like poverty, community stability, policing levels, conviction rates, societal norms, etc. swamp the influence of gun laws.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to tightening or relaxing gun laws if it seemed like the most effective way forward, but at the moment, it seems like increasing public health support for the mentally ill or hiring more cops, or other such solutions have much more potential.

  81. #81 MikeB
    April 21, 2007

    Its obviously difficult to do a study of what is the effect on crime, particularly violent crime, if the varible of gun availablity is changed. However, all the evidence from Western Europe, where guns are far more controlled compared with the US, shows a corralation between lower gun crime and more restrictions on guns. Much the same goes for Canada, which is probably a better comparision, since the availablity of hunting weapons and a ‘frontier mentality’ (which certainly is not present in Western Europe) is not disimilar to America.

    That Robert S. didn’t comment on these statistics points up a clear difference I’ve noticed between posters on various threads in Scienceblogs on the VT shootings over the past couple of days. There is a clear difference between those posting from outside the US (be they natives of those countries or expat Americans) and American posters.

    The American posters are not all against some sort of gun control, but most of even those who do support it, want to only marginally change things, and of those who argue against it, they are incredibly passionate about it, using examples which seem totally illogical to those of us outside the USA.

    I’ve seen people writing that any politican who wants to ban guns (in the US) should be killed. Someone else agreed with him. Another person argued cogently about his right to bear arms under the Second Ammendment, because that was how the US government was held in check. There was one person who even suggested that knowing how to use an assault weapon was important in case you were ever trapped in a building full of terrorists, and one of them dropped a weapon in front of you..(he didn’t mention if he would have shoes on in this particular scenario, but you get the drift). There seems to be a collective Red Mist which comes over peoples vision whenever this subject is mentioned.

    Contrast this with those outside the US, where the bulk of us live in countries which have gun-control, to a greater or lesser extent. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you are living in Canada, Australia, the UK, Japan, France or New Zealand, all of us are agreed that gun control, even just of handguns and automatic weapons, makes sense. We don’t have a problem with it, and have pointed out the statistics why we think it works. We simply don’t understand the US model.

    But in the US, the attitude seems to be that if you advocate controls such as that in Canada (which are weaker than many of the other countries I’ve names), you are a fanatic, out to destroy the freedoms of the American people.
    Or, more mildly, you might take Robert S.’s line that you cannot say one way or another whether gun-control works, or Matthew’s, which is to suggest that some other panacea might work (how much would the US have to spend on extra police or mental health to stop gun crime?), rather than admit that guns are a problem, and stopping so many people from having them might be a good thing.

    Guns kill, thats what they are designed to do (and yes, I’m aware of hunting, etc). Hundguns and semi-automatic military calibre longarms are designed to kill efficently. They are pre-packaged tools of death. You don’t have to take chemistry lessons (to make a bomb), nor silently creep around (to stab or strangle). You don’t have to learn to drive a car (in order to run people over). All you do is open the box, load a clip or magazine with bullets, put it into the gun, and cock the weapon. Thats it. And you can then kill as many people as you can find (subject to the amount of ammo you have), until you are either aprehended in some way, or you end your own life (probably with the gun). Its easy compared with the others ways of dealing out harm, and (on the whole) far more efficient. And its much easier to kill. Hit someone with a baseball bat in a moment of anger, they hopefully will get up if you quickly stop after one hit. But one pull of the trigger can mean one death, and death not at close range (as in a beating or stabbing) but from a fair distance, depending on the gun you have, and how good you are with it.

    Frankly, people have always killed other people, but the trick is to make it as hard as possible, not as easy. The US does not have to live with guns, or at least as many. Solutions are there, but perhaps it takes some distance to see that it is possible.

  82. #82 Matthew
    April 22, 2007

    MikeB:
    I think the biggest problem with looking at the correlational data regarding guns & crime in Europe, although I’m not an expert, is that Europe has many positive factors, not just the lower availability of guns. America suffers from pockets of desperate poverty and economic collapse, long standing social divisions, failed education, and so on, which are all also known to contribute to violent crime.

    I come from a place in America (New Hampshire) with high gun ownership and lax gun laws that has very low violent crime. I currently study in a place with low ownership and strict laws (Massachusetts) that has low crime, although some pockets of inner-city violence. Other places have more guns and more crime, or less guns and more crime. To me, it seems that the places that suffer from violent crime, whether neighborhoods or whole states, also suffer from poverty, lack of education, and other features of social ill.

    I’m not saying that guns aren’t a problem, and arguments that gun-toting students would have cut the recent disaster at Virginia Tech short, or that we should all be able to take over buildings from terrorists are plain stupid. Gun control will undoubtedly have its place in reducing crime, but it isn’t a panacea—nothing is. Given the current state of politics and gun ownership in the USA, reducing ownership rates would be an expensive, politically arduous nightmare. However, we have seen places like New York city reduce violence with a concentrated effort of increased and improved policing (which does include increased efforts to keep guns away from criminals, but that takes cops, time, and money too).

    My suggestion is not that changing the gun laws is wrong, it is a plea of exasperation that while gun control is argued endlessly other solutions which are politically less divisive and possibly more effective are ignored.

  83. #83 z
    April 22, 2007

    I been dees country tree veek, and already some eemeegrant try to rob me!

  84. #84 marie
    April 22, 2007

    I dont see why security gaurds cant be armed on campuses. then there are people trained and licensed by the state to operate firearms safely on campuses to deal with spree shooters, and schools wont be targeted for this brand of violence as often (being a gun free zone makes it an obvious target for someone looking to shoot many other people).

  85. #85 SG
    April 23, 2007

    Marie, and others who think that the university “being a gun free zone makes it an obvious target for someone looking to shoot many other people”, has it occurred to you that the reason he went on a shooting rage in that particular university is because he studied there?

  86. #86 MikeB
    April 23, 2007

    Matthew – your absolutely right when you talk about the disparity between New Hampshire & Massachusetts. But of course, while both are in the top six by per capita income for all US states, New Hampshire is probably a more rural state (which tend to have lower crime anyway, even though many will own a firearm, such as a shotgun), and Massachusetts.
    Massachusetts also has a fair rural population, but the greatest density of population is in the greater Boston area, which has the most poverty, and thus the highst crime.
    Although Massachusetts may have far stronger gun laws, there are also many loopholes. As the Brady Campaign points out, because there are no laws regarding how many handguns can be bought at one time (something which Virgina did have) ‘No state restrictions on gun-trafficking such as a limit on the number of handguns that can be purchased at one time. Gun traffickers can easily buy large quantities of handguns at gun stores and resell them on the street to criminals.’ http://www.stategunlaws.org/viewstate.php?st=MA

    Also registration is weak in many ways, ‘Firearms owners are required to report lost or stolen firearms and all transfers of firearms. But police do not know how many guns are in the state or where they are. The lack of specific registration data makes it more difficult for police to trace guns used in crime, identify illegal gun traffickers or hold gun owners accountable for their weapons. There is no automated state system to identify and disarm felons who bought guns legally in the past but later committed a crime or otherwise became ineligible to possess their firearms.’
    And of course weapons are far more easily available in other states, such as New Hampshire.
    In other words, gun control should not, as you point out, be seen in isolation from other factors regarding crime, but its also difficult to have gun control in a particular area, when its easy to get guns from areas close by. Its anything but a closed system at present.

    You point out that the US has ‘pockets of desperate poverty and economic collapse, long standing social divisions, failed education, and so on, which are all also known to contribute to violent crime.’ Unfortunately, so does Europe. Here in the UK , the newspapers are full of crime stories (although crime has actually fallen overall). We also do have gun crime, which has risen 30% in the past year. The difference is that this is from a very low level (by US standards) http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/facts/UK/index28.aspx?ComponentId=7103&SourcePageId=18134, that the supply of guns is vastly more restricted (many of the weapons used are actually converted replicas) and that gun crime tends to be associated with drugs (and there seems to be a trend towards apeing US ‘gangster’ culture). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3112818.stm

    The reality is that New York, despite its recent fall in crime (which may be due to a number of factors, seemingly not all of the to do with its previous mayor, whatever he might claim), still has a much higher murder rate from firearms that the UK has http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2007/04/4244_world_wonders_w.html
    (and New York get a B from the Brady campaign). The UK had 46 gun deaths in 2005-6 – thats the whole country.

    The sad fact is that gun control hasn’t really worked in the US because it hasn’t really been tried. Its fine to have strong laws in one state, but they need to enforced, and there needs to a coheret system of checks.
    What you tend to find is that although the rules are in theory strong, they are seldom linked up in a way useful to law enforcement. And of course, 40% all all weapons sold in the US are through gunshows or private dealers, where there is no need for background checks or paperwork. Even if one state stopped this, there would be little point unless all states stopped it.

    Criminals will always try to get hold of guns, since its valuable in what they do. But since they are supplied with weapons from the general legal supply of US firearms, restricting that supply would be a valauble first step. No one needs an M16, nobody requires armed-pierceing ammo, and no one needs a handgun there and then. And if you have nothing to hide, then whats the problem with a paper trail?

    Crime will not stop overnight, but it will make life easier for the police, and lessen the chance of guns getting into the wrong hands.

    There are two comments of yours which are particularly interesting. ‘Given the current state of politics and gun ownership in the USA, reducing ownership rates would be an expensive, politically arduous nightmare’ & ‘My suggestion is not that changing the gun laws is wrong, it is a plea of exasperation that while gun control is argued endlessly other solutions which are politically less divisive and possibly more effective are ignored.’.

    Its the politics is which the problem. Most people, when asked, do want stronger gun control. Yet its seen as political poison (the Dems have certainly tried to forget about it). Why? The NRA is not a majority, its not all-powerful, and commonsense tells you that much of its retoric is nonsense. Yet it dominates the debate. Its not just money, not just lobbying, and not just lazy reporters asking Lott questions as though he knows what he’s talking about. Its framing…

    Gun control is framed in such a way that most people just give up. Yet gun control is a big elephant in the room that everyone just prefers not to talk about (as you point out there are a whole load of others).
    The NRA have been allowed to frame the issue, so change it. What have you got to lose?

  87. #87 Robert S.
    April 23, 2007

    Matthew: Out of a country of 272 million, and given the number of guns, and the number of states that issue CCW permits, I would agree that it is an abberation.

    MikeB: I didn’t bring up other countries, because you can not really even compare two states in the US to each other. There are places with few guns that are very dangerous, and other places with many guns that are very safe. If you compare the US to Canada, you have to also compare that to Switzerland, Norway, Taiwan, Finland, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Mexico, Japan, etc. There is no correlation and the comparison is meaningless. Take for example England versus Northern Ireland.

    I certainly agree there is a lot of polarization on this issue, much like any issue that’s mainly all opinion.

    Given that there are so many guns, that the Constitution has the 2nd (which basically, according to US Code (defining “Militia”) is every able bodied man over 18), many states have right to bear arms statements in their own constitutions themselves, the long history of gun ownership in the US, and so on…. Given that, it is pretty much impossible to track them all, much less after the fact. Nobody’s going to bother trying to take them, because it can’t be done, for the same reason. The numbers and the attitudes.

    There are plenty of gun laws on the books, why not spend time enforcing them rather than making new ones?

    SG: He studied there, of course. But he went on a rampage because he was crazy and he hated them, at least in my opinion.

    MikeB: The laws at gun shows in a state are the same as in gun stores in that state. The argument that having different laws from state to state pokes holes in the system is not a good one I don’t think. No matter what, there’s a way to get them. Think about drugs; we can’t stop them. If there were stringint laws in every state, demand from criminals would start a flow of them being imported as soon as it became economically worthwhile, with more agressive criminals using guns against victims they’d be at least reasonable sure wouldn’t have them. And it’s politically impossible — as I said, the trend is laxer laws, state constitutional right to bear arms, and almost universal CCW permit issuance.

    The NRA has power because a huge number of gun owners are in it, and they vote. There’s more gun owners that don’t join it, but agree with what they do. Add the hunters, target shooters, collectors to those that own them for protection (on and/or off person).

  88. #88 Davis
    April 23, 2007

    I dont see why security gaurds cant be armed on campuses.

    Marie, many large universities have actual campus police, rather than security guards. They are often allowed to carry firearms. Virginia Tech has a police force, though it’s not clear from the website whether they carry.

    Having armed security guards seems a little more problematic, unless there are very strict guidelines for their training. However, I think some campuses do allow guards to be armed (I haven’t made any searches that verify this, so I may be talking out of my arse on that point).

  89. #89 JMac
    October 23, 2007

    It seems to me that the most intelligent thing to do to reduce violent crime rates (which I think *everyone* can agree is the major problem, not guns per se) is to reduce poverty and hopelessness. If all the gun owners and enthusiasts mirrored their gun-related purchases and time with social action (the contructive type like Habitat for Humanity, United Way, etc.) then we’d see a HUGE crime decrease. Unfortunately, the dogma of “individualism” at all costs implies that conservatives and libertarians would find the idea of actually helping other people (and not just intimidating them with a gun) to be to difficult, given the ease and fun-factor of the alternative – buying a gun.

    In the meantime, let’s close the gun show loophole, register all firearms, and strongly enforce existing firearms laws. And possibly decriminalize a lot of crime-producing drugs.

    Mass killings like VT and Columbine seem to me to be a statistically irrelevant aberration (as awful as they are) which both sides use as a red herring to avoid discussing harder issues.

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