In a paper claiming that safe-storage gun laws increase crime and do not decrease accidental deaths, Lott and Whitley:

The Cummings et al., supra note 15, research provides evidence of a
23 percent drop in juvenile accidental gun deaths after the passage of
safe-storage laws. Juvenile accidental gun deaths did decline after
the passage of the law, but what Cummings et al. miss is that these
accidental deaths declined even faster in the states without these
laws. While the Cummings et al. piece examined national data, it did
not use fixed year effects, which would have allowed them to test
whether the safe-storage states were experiencing a drop relative to
the rest of the country. The simple dummy variable that they use is
only picking up whether the average juvenile accidental death rate is
lower after the passage of safe-storage laws. One potential problem
with this approach is that any secular decline in accidental gun
deaths would produce a lower average rate after the law even if the
rate of decline was not affected by the law.

But Cummings et al did control for national trends and did use fixed year effects and they did test and find that the safe storage states were experiencing a drop relative to the rest of the country. They state that they controlled for national trends multiple times — it is mentioned in the abstract, in the result section, in the comment section and in the methods:

To control for national trends over time in firearm mortality rates, all states were included in the analysis, and 15 indicator variables were used to represent each calendar year. Categories of age, sex, and race were examined as potential confounders.

This isn’t just a minor mistake — Cummings et al was the only other published paper measuring the effects of safe storage laws. The peer review for Lott and Whitley was inadequate, since the reviewers were evidently unfamiliar with the literature and did not even read the abstract of Cummings et al. Incidentally, the peer review in that issue was the subject of a lawsuit when Steve Levitt wrote an email that stated:

It was not a peer refereed edition of the Journal. For $15,000 he was able to buy an issue and put in only work that supported him. My best friend was the editor and was outraged the press let Lott do this.

Lott sued Levitt over this email, eventually settling when Levitt wrote a letter correcting the statement that the issue was not peer reviewed.

When I pointed out this mistake, Lott responded with an extraordinary claim:

We had been unable to replicate their claimed results using fixed effects and the only way we could get something similar was without fixed effects. It really shouldn’t have been that difficult for us to confirm what they found since we were used their dates for the laws. Unfortunately, Cummings, Grossman, Rivara, and Koepsell were unwilling to give us their data when we asked for it. I asked for the data from Cummings and one other coauthor. Possibly we should have made a big deal of yet more academics who refused to share their data, but we decided that the more straightforward approach would be to simply say what we found. Alternatively, we could have simply stated that we were unable to confirm their results.

Yes, it would have been better to state something that was true instead of deliberately misleading their readers that Cummings et al did not use fixed effects when they clearly stated that they did. And according to Lott’s claims in his lawsuit against Levitt, in the first sentence Lott libels Cummings.

When challenged on this point, Lott claimed:

I called up Cummings and tried to figure out what was going on. The discussion of fixed effects was drawn from the conversation that I had with him, and the investigation would have been a lot more productive if he had been willing to share his data when he was asked.

I contacted Cummings to see if he had really told Lott that they had not used fixed effects despite their paper saying that they did. He replied:

My analysis was correctly described in the paper. On page 1085, we wrote “…and 15 indicator variables were used to represent each calendar year.” As you know, unintentional deaths due to firearms declined during 1979-1994. Failure to allow for this change would exaggerate any benefit of safe storage laws.

Negative Binomial Regression                        Number of obs    =     816
                                                    Model chi2(66)   =  876.20
                                                    Prob > chi2      =  0.0000
Log Likelihood =  -1562.2441956                     Pseudo R2        =  0.2190
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   count |        IRR   Std. Err.       z     P>|z|       [95% Conf. Interval]
---------+--------------------------------------------------------------------
_lnmean  |
  caplaw |   .7671992   .0796342     -2.553   0.011       .6259715    .9402898

50 lines showing state dummies deleted

  Iiyr_1 |   .8479772   .0648767     -2.155   0.031       .7298956    .9851618
  Iiyr_2 |   .7984375   .0620741     -2.895   0.004       .6855904    .9298591
  Iiyr_3 |   .7438544   .0589091     -3.736   0.000       .6369092    .8687572
  Iiyr_4 |   .6461118   .0533019     -5.295   0.000       .5496505    .7595016
  Iiyr_5 |     .76188   .0598726     -3.461   0.001       .6531224    .8887477
  Iiyr_6 |   .7358223   .0583419     -3.869   0.000       .6299164    .8595339
  Iiyr_7 |   .6202522   .0517576     -5.724   0.000       .5266704    .7304622
  Iiyr_8 |   .6522139   .0535568     -5.205   0.000       .5552561    .7661023
  Iiyr_9 |   .7246687   .0575369     -4.056   0.000       .6202349    .8466867
 Iiyr_10 |   .7056072   .0562532     -4.374   0.000       .6035352     .824942
 Iiyr_11 |   .6139535   .0511819     -5.852   0.000       .5214054    .7229285
 Iiyr_12 |   .5805103       .049     -6.443   0.000       .4919958    .6849494
 Iiyr_13 |   .5635373   .0492037     -6.569   0.000       .4749003    .6687179
 Iiyr_14 |   .5285345   .0469417     -7.180   0.000        .444093     .629032
 Iiyr_15 |   .4775816   .0442729     -7.972   0.000       .3982349    .5727378
---------+--------------------------------------------------------------------

Fixed effects terms for year are clearly in the model above. They show a decline in the mortality rate ratio compared with the initial study year, 1979: the rate ratio for 1980 (“Iiyr_1″) was 0.85 and this declined to 0.48 by 1994 (“Iiyr_15″).

I do not believe I had a conversation with Dr. Lott. There is no way I can prove I did not have a telephone conversation with anyone, but I think I would recall such a discussion.

There is no reason why Dr. Lott should need my data. I used mortality data and population estimates which are freely available from the National Center for Health Statistics. Anyone can do their own study and publish their findings.

Webster and Starnes also studied safe storage laws: Webster DW, Starnes M. Reexamining the association between child access prevention gun laws and unintentional shooting deaths of children. Pediatrics 2000;106:1466-9. They obtained mortality data as I did. They used the period 1979 through 1997. They modified the way in which time was allocated to a safe storage law or not, but I suspect this change did not affect the results very much. The main difference between their analysis and mine is that they had 3 more years of data. Across all states, they estimated that the incidence rate ratio for unintentional firearm-related death among children 0-14 years was 17% less (95% confidence interval 3 to 29%) when a safe storage law was present, compared with what would have been expected without such a law. This is not very different from the estimate of 23% that I reported for the years 1979-1994. The authors wrote: “Using the same data and methods used by Cummings et al, we first replicated their findings.” Apparently they had no problem reproducing the estimates in my paper. I look upon this as confirmation that there was no major error in my analysis. They included fixed effects for time: “Year dummy variables were also used to control for temporal variation…” [To be clear, Webster and Starnes did not conclude that safe storage laws were useful, except in Florida; see their paper by details.]

Comments

  1. #1 z
    February 12, 2008

    it’s clear then; guns don’t make people commit crimes of violence. except black people, of course.

  2. #2 SG
    February 12, 2008

    Ben,

    Dunno, maybe because Australia is far more rural than the United States (I don’t know that it is, but I assume) and that the British “subjects” have been living in a big-brother state for so long they can’t blow their nose without making sure the act doesn’t constitute “anti-social” behavior. Except for the prols, who are allowed to get away with anything but murder.

    You might not be aware, but Australia is one of the most urbanised societies in the world, much more than the US, largely because it’s fucking huge and half of it is desert. I would also recommend, for the benefit of your own cultural improvement, that you try saying the second sentence in that quote in a pub anywhere in England. Then maybe you’ll understand why the British have gun control.

    Tom, you say that this blog never shows the example of Australia, UK, etc. But this blog is Australian, and it is from that Australian perspective that the “guns=penis” “stoopid” is coming. You might want to revisit your arguments about that.

  3. #3 SG
    February 12, 2008

    And Ben, I have a theory about guns and crime and Australia and the US. But right now I have to prepare my seminar, so it has to wait.

  4. #4 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 14, 2008

    bi:

    “”if guns are banned then only criminals will have guns”

    Yeah… I mean, just think about the logic. If murder is banned then only criminals will murder. If rape is banned then only criminals will rape. Ad nauseam…”

    Strawman that misses the point and distorts the argument. Rape and murder are self-evidently harmful to a human being. Gun ownership is not harmful in itself.

    “Has it ever occurred to these people that if criminals can easily do η, then it might actually simply be a problem with anti-η enforcement rather than the whole idea of banning η in the first place?”

    Aside from the quite intellectual inclusion of the greek letter eta, have you considered that fact that, even if we grab the big eraser and wipe out the US 2nd Amendment, you would have quite a *practical* problem getting rid of all those guns?

    Take the US again. First step would be making a law that forbids gun ownership and orders all citizens to hand in their guns or else. Already there we have a polarization where law-abiding citizens (that is, law-abiding before the confiscation order dumps in the door) would have to hand in their guns, and we would have those who would refuse to so do – either your street criminal, or the formerly-law-abiding citizen who sees no good in handing over his guns. But nevermind, assume all non-beforehand-criminals hand over their guns.

    Then you’ve got a severe issue on your hands, because now, de facto, only *criminals* (doubly so) would have guns. Now that the entire US crime underworld knows that the nation is disarmed, take a guess at what’ll happen.

    So what do you do? Ross Perot, I believe, advocated that he wanted the military to cordon off metro areas and confiscate everything deemed unlawful, from drugs to unlicensed guns. If that is what you want, it may indeed be the most effective way of carrying out your goals, but nevertheless, such a proposal reminds me of the motion picture Under Siege, and also for some reason induces the word “authoritarian” in my mind.

    OK, further assume that this minor practical problem is solved – US is now clean of guns. Now, only approximately the rest of the world remains. How are you going to prevent new guns making it past the border? You can’t (more on this crucial aspect below). So you’ll have to cleanse the entire world of guns, and then we are in a scenario that parallels the communist idea of the World Revolution (and about as realistic, i might add).

    However, where it all breaks down is this. What makes you think that all these laments about “it’s not being done good enough” will get you? If it can be done better by government, why hasn’t it *already happened*, no matter what it is we are talking about? War on drugs, war on poverty, war on terror, and the upcoming war on guns? Has any of these ever been effective? No, they obviously haven’t. If they had, we wouldn’t have had this discussion now.

    (Is it those nasty Republicans who are spoiling the show? Oh, that would indeed be very convenient…!)

    And for the record, I’m neither a Republican or a Gun Controller.

    Fact of the matter is:

    1) Guns are HERE, and talk about getting rid of them is one-eyed and deeply unrealistic, at least in the US.
    2) Even with a totalitarian 1984-esque surveillance and control of citizens, you would have problems getting rid of all guns (you can’t control the world, buddy, read your Lao Tzu), and even then gun homicide and other unfortunate acts would be the least of your worries.

    So ask yourself – what is it you really want? How much freedom is it OK to sacrifice to realize your intentions in regards to guns, and what is the practical possibility if your entiention EVER being realized?

    Food for thought.

  5. #5 z
    February 14, 2008

    how about a law requiring that private gun sales be cleared vs a national violent crime database? instead of just sales by gun stores? i’m pretty sure the stores wouldn’t mind. and all these folks who say that preventing lawabiding folks from owning guns is wrong because it’s only the criminals who are a problem. of course, they are going to say that the criminals will get them illegally anyway, but by that argument the government might as well just issue all criminals guns and be done with it. yet i think they’d not agree with that either.

  6. #6 SG
    February 14, 2008

    There’s Peter showing the good ‘ole American can-do attitude: “It can’t be done!”

    If they can put a man on the moon…

  7. #7 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    “There’s Peter showing the good ‘ole American can-do attitude: “It can’t be done!”

    If they can put a man on the moon…”

    Gee, thats wonderfully mature. Apart from the fact that I’m not an American, I’d suggest you offer some constructive suggestion of how you would see this done, or at least something that would even suggest that a complete gun-confiscation plan is even realistic, if the idea is at all to be taken seriously.

    That you instantly resort to ad-hominems (and besides, that the idea of a gun-free society is not desireable on a rational basis in the first place) does indeed mean that this idea cannot be taken seriously.

    Besides, putting men on the moon is a question of science and engineering. Legislation is a matter of politics and social dynamics. Don’t confuse the two.

  8. #8 SG
    February 15, 2008

    well Peter, you’ve proven that one doesn’t need to be American to show a bit of that old get up ‘n go mentality.

    I would imagine that gun buybacks, effective law enforcement, effective border policing, effective policing of the gun companies, and effective licensing restrictions on guns, might solve the problem. Then the US could move on to solving the social problems which cause high crime. I would suggest a sensible start would be the destruction of the car culture and the implementation of national health care. After all, people kill people, and people in America are suffering under a burden of social ills like no-one else in the developed world…

    These ideas aren’t magic Peter – most of the rest of the world has managed to get guns under control, after all.

  9. #9 bi
    February 15, 2008

    Peter Bjrn Perls:

    Strawman that misses the point and distorts the argument. Rape and murder are self-evidently harmful to a human being. Gun ownership is not harmful in itself.

    Point taken. How about this then: If bombs are outlawed, only outlawed will have bombs. If nukes are outlawed, only outlaws will have nukes. If land mines are outlawed, only outlaws will have land mines…

    have you considered that fact that, even if we grab the big eraser and wipe out the US 2nd Amendment, you would have quite a practical problem getting rid of all those guns?

    Yeah, I remember the US also has a practical problem with stamping out the lynching of black people. I mean, it’s so obvious why it can’t be stamped out, right? Right? It’s so obvious that even trying to stamp it out will result in a Stalinisque dictatorship, right? Right?

    It may possibly be an uphill battle that may take decades, even centuries, but judging by the experiences of other nations (and even of the US itself when dealing with a different problem), there’s simply no reason why it can’t eventually succeed.

  10. #10 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    bi:

    >Point taken. How about this then: If bombs are outlawed, only outlawed will have bombs. If nukes are outlawed, only outlaws will have nukes. If land mines are outlawed, only outlaws will have land mines…

    I fail to see the relevance, since private parties generally do not own such things, especially land mines and nuclear weapons.

    >> have you considered that fact that, even if we grab the big eraser and wipe out the US 2nd Amendment, you would have quite a practical problem getting rid of all those guns?

    >Yeah, I remember the US also has a practical problem with stamping out the lynching of black people. I mean, it’s so obvious why it can’t be stamped out, right? Right? It’s so obvious that even trying to stamp it out will result in a Stalinisque dictatorship, right? Right?

    Sigh, more strawmen. Again, you are equating something that is not in itself harmful with something that is self-evidently harmful. Apparently you didn’t take the point above.

    >It may possibly be an uphill battle that may take decades, even centuries, but judging by the experiences of other nations (and even of the US itself when dealing with a different problem), there’s simply no reason why it can’t eventually succeed.

    And what I asked but you failed to adress: At what cost? And is it at all desireable?

  11. #11 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    “well Peter, you’ve proven that one doesn’t need to be American to show a bit of that old get up ‘n go mentality.”

    Whatever that means.

    “I would imagine that gun buybacks, effective law enforcement, effective border policing, effective policing of the gun companies, and effective licensing restrictions on guns, might solve the problem.”

    Again, you are effectively saying that that has been absent in the US.

    ” Then the US could move on to solving the social problems which cause high crime.”

    How about we fix the social problems which cause high crime (hint: war on drugs, for one) before grabbing guns which are not in themself harmful?

    ” I would suggest a sensible start would be the destruction of the car culture and the implementation of national health care.”

    And how do you reasonably link car culture and healthcare to crime? Besides, why do you want to “destroy” the car culture (again, whatever that is)?

    ” After all, people kill people, and people in America are suffering under a burden of social ills like no-one else in the developed world…”

    Correct, but the link to guns and crime is tenuous at best.

    “These ideas aren’t magic Peter”

    No, but they are unreasonable in more than one way.

    ” – most of the rest of the world has managed to get guns under control, after all.”

    And I’ll repeat my question – at what cost in freedom and the ability to protect oneself?

  12. #12 bi
    February 15, 2008

    I fail to see the relevance, since private parties generally do not own such things, especially land mines and nuclear weapons.

    Maybe it’s because they are illegal? And because the government is doing a pretty good job at controlling the flow of mines and nukes?

    “If ? is outlawed, only outlaws will have ?” is simply a dumb argument that doesn’t stand up.

    Again, you are equating something that is not in itself harmful with something that is self-evidently harmful.

    So, you come up with an abstract argument that anti-lynching is “self-evidently harmful” and gun control is “not in itself harmful”, and somehow this abstract difference means that gun control is impractical?

    At what cost? And is it at all desireable?

    Yeah, the costs can be huge. For one thing, making lynching a federal crime hurt the egos of people who wanted to be able to hang black people and get away with it. In the case of guns: the lack of easy access to guns will adversely affect crazy people like the Minuteman who harass US-born Latinos to make them “go back to Mexico”. It’ll also make it harder for autistic sociopaths like Cho Seung-Hui to simply get a gun from some random dealer in broad daylight.

    These are real, very real events, unlike those hypothetically hypothetical contrived situations which gun-ownership advocates like to bring up from time to time.

  13. #13 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    bi:

    “> I fail to see the relevance, since private parties generally do not own such things, especially land mines and nuclear weapons.

    Maybe it’s because they are illegal? And because the government is doing a pretty good job at controlling the flow of mines and nukes?”

    Your argument fails, first of all because you do consider that people might be reasonable enough to abstain from posessting things that pose an extreme danger to themselves and their surroundings (your argument is basically if nuclear weapons were not disallowed, every househould might want to possess one.Nuts.). Also on the count that in the case of explosives, which basically goes from anything from black powder to homemage nitroglycerine, does not seem to bpose a problem in society today, despite that fact that any highschool kid (and indeed lower grades) have probably played around with both.

    “If η is outlawed, only outlaws will have η” is simply a dumb argument that doesn’t stand up.”

    No, it is self evident, but it seems that its implications does not fit into your opinion and you simply dismiss it out of hand.

    ” Again, you are equating something that is not in itself harmful with something that is self-evidently harmful.

    So, you come up with an abstract argument that anti-lynching is “self-evidently harmful” and gun control is “not in itself harmful”, and somehow this abstract difference means that gun control is impractical?”

    Wtf are you smoking? I’m saying that LYNCHING is self-evidently harmful.

    Also, you are confusing the desirability with gun control with the practicality, which are two seperate arguments.

    Do try to abstain from these gross distortions.

    ” At what cost? And is it at all desireable?

    Yeah, the costs can be huge. For one thing, making lynching a federal crime hurt the egos of people who wanted to be able to hang black people and get away with it.”

    Jeez, how old are you? I’m talking about gun ownership, not lynchings. Lynchings are evidently murder, and I’m not proposing to make murder legal.

    Also, you are clearly not considering what I’m askign you – namely the adverse consequences not only of individual freedom and privacy posted by outlawing guns, but also the adverse consequences of individuals not being able to and allowed to use guns in self defense. But judging from your mode of reasoning until now I doubt you even want to take such effects into account.

    ” In the case of guns: the lack of easy access to guns will adversely affect crazy people like the Minuteman who harass US-born Latinos to make them “go back to Mexico”.”

    So here you are generalizing all minutemen as being not only crazy, but you are implying that anyone would and does own a gun is crazy.

    Is it not apparent to you how distant from reality this opinion of yours is?

    Also, you do not consider that the harassment you hypothesize about here is (?) unlawful, and if it takes place, then it is an actual failure of the same law enforcement you assume will work perfectly when it comes to gun confiscation and enforcement.

    ” It’ll also make it harder for autistic sociopaths like Cho Seung-Hui to simply get a gun from some random dealer in broad daylight.

    Ignores that gun control laws of various kinds were and is still in effect in the state where the Cho massacre took place. This should be a pretty big hint on the efficiency of enforcement for you.

    Furthermore it ignores that the scene of the massacre was a declared no-gun zone.

    “These are real, very real events, unlike those hypothetically hypothetical contrived situations which gun-ownership advocates like to bring up from time to time.”

    And not a bad word about the tortured logic and gross distortions of opponents’ arguments which gun control advocates like you have clearly demonstrated here and use time and time again.

  14. #14 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 15, 2008

    Peter Bjorn Perlso writes:

    [[Ignores that gun control laws of various kinds were and is still in effect in the state where the Cho massacre took place. ]]

    Then they weren’t being enforced too bloody well, were they? Cho had a history of mental illness AND violence. Do you really think such people should be allowed to own guns? Or that it’s impossible to prevent them from owning guns?

    For the record, I think people have a prima facie right to own weapons for self-protection. I would not ban gun ownership in the US. For forensic tracking reasons, I would have guns registered and/or licensed. And I would not allow violent felons or violent mental patients to own guns. If that makes me a Stalinist, I guess I’m a Stalinist. (Interestingly, USSR citizens were allowed to own guns all through the Soviet period. Hunting is a big part of Russian culture, and even V.I. Lenin had a hunting lodge.)

  15. #15 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    Barton,

    “[[Ignores that gun control laws of various kinds were and is still in effect in the state where the Cho massacre took place. ]]

    Then they weren’t being enforced too bloody well, were they?”

    Quite possible, and that reinforces my point once again.

    “Cho had a history of mental illness AND violence. Do you really think such people should be allowed to own guns?”

    Have I advanced such an opinion? But to answer: Depending on the illness, no.

    ” Or that it’s impossible to prevent them from owning guns?”

    No, but then we encounterother questions, namely privacy, merging of databases with personal and sentitive personal data, the question of mandatory mental screenings and such.

    “For the record, I think people have a prima facie right to own weapons for self-protection. I would not ban gun ownership in the US. For forensic tracking reasons, I would have guns registered and/or licensed. And I would not allow violent felons or violent mental patients to own guns. If that makes me a Stalinist, I guess I’m a Stalinist.”

    I don’t believe I’ve accused anyone here of being a Stalinist or anything even slightly approaching such. So why bring it up?

    ” (Interestingly, USSR citizens were allowed to own guns all through the Soviet period. Hunting is a big part of Russian culture, and even V.I. Lenin had a hunting lodge.)”

    Did they? I would be surprised if this was actually the case (a cite would be handy). JFPO lists this on their historical gun control page:

    (USSR anti-gun legislation)”Resolutions, 1918
    Decree, July 12, 1920
    Art. 59 & 182, Pen. code, 1926″

    http://www.jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/deathgc.htm

  16. #16 bi
    February 15, 2008

    Peter:

    the adverse consequences of individuals not being able to and allowed to use guns in self defense.

    …which, as far as I can tell, is totally hypothetical.

    Quite possible, and that reinforces my point once again.

    No it doesn’t. In fact, word has it that Cho’s purchase of the gun was totally legal, due to loopholes in the law. (He did have a history of mental illness, but he wasn’t “involuntarily” admitted into a mental home, which was one of the criteria for gun ownership.)

    So your “reasoning” is that, because toothless “gun control” laws allowed Cho to kill people, therefore obviously any sort of gun control is doomed to fail. You don’t see a problem with this “logic”?

  17. #17 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    bi:

    “Peter:

    the adverse consequences of individuals not being able to and allowed to use guns in self defense.

    …which, as far as I can tell, is totally hypothetical.”

    I see. So how far do you propose to take gun control? Please do explain.

    ” Quite possible, and that reinforces my point once again.

    No it doesn’t. In fact, word has it that Cho’s purchase of the gun was totally legal, due to loopholes in the law. (He did have a history of mental illness, but he wasn’t “involuntarily” admitted into a mental home, which was one of the criteria for gun ownership.)”

    Actually, it does reinforce my point, albeit slightly altered – its the law that has loopholes, not enforcement per se. But why is that?

    “So your “reasoning” is that, because toothless “gun control” laws allowed Cho to kill people, therefore obviously any sort of gun control is doomed to fail. You don’t see a problem with this “logic”?””

    Again, the strawman distortion. But I’ll restate my points: If something approaching a century of increased gun legislation (starting after WWI) haven’t prevented these problems, how long will it take before you achieve a system that is tailored to your demands? (Also, a side question: If guns cause these problems we see today, with there school shootings and inner-city crime in the times before gun control in the US?) Is it even possible considering the dynamics of representative democracy? Also, even the states where it is, does it work? And without adverse consequences?

    Please try to answer these questions for yourself before making a another stand in this thread. I’m not interested on spending time in correcting what seems like purposeful misunderstandings on your part.

    Also, does your rampant snipping away of my points mean that you concede to them?

    A good weekend to you in any case.

  18. #18 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 15, 2008

    An interesting observation from the news — it appears we’ve had four school shootings in the last week in the US. Am I right in thinking this didn’t used to be the case? The earliest example I can think of is Charles Witman, 1966, Texas A&M University, 14 dead. My subjective impression is that the frequency has gone way up since then.

  19. #19 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 15, 2008

    barton:

    “An interesting observation from the news — it appears we’ve had four school shootings in the last week in the US. Am I right in thinking this didn’t used to be the case? The earliest example I can think of is Charles Witman, 1966, Texas A&M University, 14 dead. My subjective impression is that the frequency has gone way up since then.”

    I agree.

    I think it’s time to look at how kids are raised today and what difference there is from way back when. Either that, or look at whatever impulses youth of today receive from their environment (school, primarily) compared to the past.

    And no, I don’t think school shootings are because kids play DOOM.

  20. #20 ben
    February 15, 2008

    Good grief, I thought this thread was dead.

    Maybe it’s because they are illegal? And because the government is doing a pretty good job at controlling the flow of mines and nukes?

    No, it’s because there is no demand for them because they aren’t practical for criminals to use in day to day crime. Neither are they particularly easy to create/obtain (nukes).

    No it doesn’t. In fact, word has it that Cho’s purchase of the gun was totally legal, due to loopholes in the law. (He did have a history of mental illness, but he wasn’t “involuntarily” admitted into a mental home, which was one of the criteria for gun ownership.)

    Cho was under a court order to seek medical treatment for being a danger to himself. Had this information been in the federal criminal background check, he would probably not have been able to purchase those firearms.

    Then they weren’t being enforced too bloody well, were they? Cho had a history of mental illness AND violence. Do you really think such people should be allowed to own guns? Or that it’s impossible to prevent them from owning guns?

    No, they should not.

    For forensic tracking reasons, I would have guns registered and/or licensed.

    Except that many Americans fear, with justification, that registration will lead to confiscation, and that licensing requirements will be used to unfairly exclude many from gun ownership, as happened recently in South Africa.

    And I would not allow violent felons or violent mental patients to own guns.

    That’s already in the law, and that’s the way it should stay. I don’t think very many people argue otherwise.

    Further, in most states, Felons can still hunt, as they can either use archery, or muzzle-loading/black powder rifles, which are not considered firearms (in terms of the law) and can be purchased on the internet with no background check, and can be shipped to your door.

  21. #21 SG
    February 16, 2008

    Ben, though these considerations about mental health and criminal records are in the laws about gun control, you sell guns privately without doing any check better than “he seems okay to me”. Perhaps you should be arguing with Peter – he thinks against the experience of most of the world that gun control laws are unenforceable, and you are an example of a gun dealer doing exactly the required things to make sure crazy people get the deadly weapons they need, even though apparently the law says you shouldn’t.

  22. #22 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 16, 2008

    SG:

    “Perhaps you should be arguing with Peter – he thinks against the experience of most of the world that gun control laws are unenforceable,”

    Apart from the underhanded debate tactic of making this look like I have a disagreement with Ben, you are misrepresenting my argument. My argument, quite clearly states, in my earlier posts, that the experience is based on the *US* failure of gun control, where it has been tried. The rest of the world has not had as much of a failure in gun control as it has had with the consequences of it.

    Most of Europe does not have a problem as such with gun control, for the simple reason that most of Europe has not HAD a gun culture for centuries, if at all. I hope this gives you a sufficient hint to what my argument is, if I didn’t state it explicitly enough in my earlier posts.

  23. #23 bi
    February 16, 2008

    Peter:

    I’ll restate my points: If something approaching a century of increased gun legislation (starting after WWI) haven’t prevented these problems, how long will it take before you achieve a system that is tailored to your demands?

    As long as it takes. Or is the argument now that something may take a long time to do, therefore the correct thing to do is obviously to Do Nothing?

    Most of Europe does not have a problem as such with gun control, for the simple reason that most of Europe has not HAD a gun culture for centuries, if at all.

    So by your line of reasoning, the so-called Inalienable Right to Self-Defence is limited only to those countries which do have a gun culture — because somehow those countries which don’t have a gun control suddenly don’t need this inalienable crap.

  24. #24 bi
    February 16, 2008

    (replace “don’t have a gun control” with “don’t have a gun culture”)

  25. #25 Peter Bjørn Perlsø
    February 16, 2008

    “Peter:

    >I’ll restate my points: If something approaching a century of increased gun legislation (starting after WWI) haven’t prevented these problems, how long will it take before you achieve a system that is tailored to your demands?

    As long as it takes. Or is the argument now that something may take a long time to do, therefore the correct thing to do is obviously to Do Nothing?”

    No, it is quite simply that is it takes very long it may be impractical. Also, you’re (once again) asked to consider if gun control is the correct thing to do.

    >Most of Europe does not have a problem as such with gun control, for the simple reason that most of Europe has not HAD a gun culture for centuries, if at all.

    So by your line of reasoning, the so-called Inalienable Right to Self-Defence is limited only to those countries which do have a gun culture –”

    I fail to see how my line of reasoning implies such a thing.

    >because somehow those countries which don’t have a gun control suddenly don’t need this inalienable crap.”

    You brought it up. So why smear “this inalienable crap ” on me?

  26. #26 SG
    February 16, 2008

    Can you explain what you mean by this?

    The rest of the world has not had as much of a failure in gun control as it has had with the consequences of it.

    Are you trying to suggest the US is somehow freer and more noble because of all its school shootings.

    You do have an argument with Ben, btw- you claim gun control is impossible. Ben sells guns privately without doing background checks. Join the dots.

  27. #27 ben
    February 17, 2008

    Ben sells guns privately without doing background checks.

    I would if I could, but only licensed dealers can call the FBI to do a background check. Now there’s a change in the law I’d like to see.

    Also, a lot of folks who are law abiding, and who will never commit a crime, don’t want “the man” knowing that they have a gun because they don’t want “the man” to come around to confiscate it later. I’ve bought guns at dealers, I’ve bought them online (must be transfered by a licensed dealer face to face) and I’ve bought them privately.

  28. #28 SG
    February 17, 2008

    Thus proving my point, Ben. Peter says these laws don’t work, but you want the right to enforce them privately and can’t. The full range of available licensing and control methods haven’t been tried in the US but in other countries with successful gun control – Australia, Japan, the UK, for example – these methods are used. The “it won’t work” excuse is just that – an excuse for inaction.

  29. #29 z
    February 18, 2008

    “Also, a lot of folks who are law abiding, and who will never commit a crime, don’t want “the man” knowing that they have a gun because they don’t want “the man” to come around to confiscate it later. ”

    I know; I have the same attitude about my female Eskimo sex slave.

  30. #30 ben
    February 18, 2008

    but in other countries with successful gun control – Australia, Japan, the UK…

    This claim is not verifiable. It’s like Lisa Simpson when she claims (jokingly) to Homer that the rock in front of the house keeps lions away. Homer asks how it works. Lisa responds: It doesn’t work, it’s just a stupid rock! But you don’t see any lions, do you?” Homer’s response: “Lisa, I would like to buy your rock.”

    You have no idea what gun crime would be like in those countries without their draconian gun control. Isn’t Britain’s gun-crime problem getting worse, not better, as their gun-controls get more strict? Doesn’t this show that Britain’s gun-controls are a failure?

    I have the same attitude about my female Eskimo sex slave.

    Hopefully she’ll escape, find a gun, and return to shoot you in the balls.

  31. #31 SG
    February 19, 2008

    Well Ben, that’s a question of careful statistical modelling isn’t it. The same logic applies to your model of guns for self defense, etc. But in the absence of definitive proof, you still expect us to believe that simple plain sense – less dangerous devices = less dangerous events – is contradicted by the American experience, even though ecological studies tend to support the obvious finding. That is, even though America doesn’t have particularly higher rates of assault or other violent crimes, it’s gun crime rates are extremely high.

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