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sued Levitt over this email, eventually settling when Levitt wrote a letter correcting the statement that the issue was not peer reviewed.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 ben
    January 31, 2008

    I’m thinking Lott is not a very good advocate for gun-rights. Are you sure he isn’t an anti-gun plant?

  2. #2 Evan
    January 31, 2008

    It sounds like Lott is playing a pretty nasty game. If they data is publicly available the lack of access seems a furphy.

    Academic politics can be quite nasty.

  3. #3 sod
    February 1, 2008

    nothing that Lott EVER said, makes any sense at all.

    “guns prevent crime”

    “safe storage doesn t decrease accidents”

    sometimes i wonder, why there are still people out there, believing him..

    I’m thinking Lott is not a very good advocate for gun-rights. Are you sure he isn’t an anti-gun plant?

    well, you could just take one of the other academics who support gun-lunatics with scientific results. like for example, ahm, uhm, …..

  4. #4 ben
    February 1, 2008

    “guns prevent crime”

    Yeah, the police carry guns because they don’t work.

    “safe storage doesn t decrease accidents”

    Actually, I don’t think that Lott claimed that safe storage does not decrease gun accidents. He claimed that a paper that showed that safe storage LAWS don’t decrease gun accidents. If you’ll notice, the paper that Tim links to above essentially supports this claim, with the exception of Florida. It’s just that Lott’s work is not very good.

    After all, how does one ensure compliance with such laws, especially if you live in a country where the police cannot enter an ordinary gun-owner’s home to check how well they are storing their guns? Further, is it possible for a person to safely store their guns, but remain out of compliance with the CAP laws? I claim that it is, which is one of the problems with the laws as written. They try to cover every scenario, and are not flexible enough.

    well, you could just take one of the other academics who support gun-lunatics with scientific results. like for example, ahm, uhm, …..

    That would be Gary Kleck. Gun-lunatics, eh? Is that the formal term for gun-nuts?

  5. #5 ben
    February 1, 2008

    Er, that was supposed to read: “He claimed that a paper that showed that safe storage LAWS decrease gun accidents was in error.”

  6. #6 Scott
    February 1, 2008

    “Gun-lunatics, eh? Is that the formal term for gun-nuts?”

    Hate to be the one to break this to you, but when you completely divorce yourself from reality by claiming our weak gun laws make us safer when we have the highest murder rate in the industrial world (by a factor 3) and claim safe storage laws are a bad idea when they simply codify what I any firearms instructor will teach about, well safe storage, then yes, people will start to question your sanity.

  7. #7 ben
    February 1, 2008

    …claim safe storage laws are a bad idea

    Safe storage is a good idea. Safe storage laws? How are you going to ensure compliance? I am in favor of a law that simply states that you can be held criminally and financially liable if someone who shouldn’t have access to your guns gets access to them and causes some sort of harm. I am not in favor of a law that specifies exactly how a person must store their firearms.

  8. #8 ChrisC
    February 1, 2008

    Ben, your last post reminds me of a classic episode of that great modern parable, the Simpsons.

    When and Milhouse discover Homer’s “safely stored” gun and decied to re-enact William Tell (Milhouse with apple in mouth) and are stopped in the nick of time by Marge, Homer explains to his furious wife about his chosen storage spot.

    “What were the odds the boy would look in the vegetable crisper?”

    Would allowing people to decide of their own method of “safe” storeage be useful at all?

  9. #9 sod
    February 1, 2008

    ben, obviously you didn t notice it, but i gave you a short version of the Lott nonsense.
    and this short version is the one stuck in the head of the people reading/writing on this subject.
    Lott is doing the best to paint a picture of harmless guns and useless gun control…

    Yeah, the police carry guns because they don’t work.

    plainly a stupid comment ben, not worth any response.

    Actually, I don’t think that Lott claimed that safe storage does not decrease gun accidents. He claimed that a paper that showed that safe storage LAWS don’t decrease gun accidents. If you’ll notice, the paper that Tim links to above essentially supports this claim, with the exception of Florida.

    you didn t read the paper in question.
    apart from Florida, the decrease in accidents was not statistically significant.
    Florida of course was the FIRST one to pass CAP….

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/106/6/1466

    the results still CLEARLY contradict Lott.

    After all, how does one ensure compliance with such laws, especially if you live in a country where the police cannot enter an ordinary gun-owner’s home to check how well they are storing their guns?

    this is an incredibly stupid comment. your claim is that ALL laws concerning stuff inside private homes are useless. that is simply stupid.

    I am in favor of a law that simply states that you can be held criminally and financially liable if someone who shouldn’t have access to your guns gets access to them and causes some sort of harm.

    your knowledge about the function of laws is clearly limited. quite often the person harmed will be your own kid or his friends. additional punishment is pretty useless in those cases.
    laws work well, when they tell people what to do. a law explaining people what they MUST do, will be effective. your law wouldn t be.

  10. #10 sod
    February 1, 2008

    That would be Gary Kleck. Gun-lunatics, eh? Is that the formal term for gun-nuts?

    2.5 mio guns used in self defense every year.
    the work of Kleck is pretty fantastic as well!

    http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html

  11. #11 ben
    February 1, 2008

    Would allowing people to decide of their own method of “safe” storeage be useful at all?

    Probably more useful than basing your arguments on Simpsons episodes.

    you didn t read the paper in question. apart from Florida, the decrease in accidents was not statistically significant. Florida of course was the FIRST one to pass CAP….

    Yes I did. The CAP laws had no statistically significant affect anywhere with the exception of Florida. Lott claimed that the laws were ineffective, although his analysis was crap. He was right about the effect out of luck.

    And those authors stated that maybe that was due to greater public awareness of the law because it was the first of its kind in the country, and there was a lot of media coverage of both the law and some recent high-profile gun-accidents. So did the law cause the decrease in gun-accidents directly, or was it simply the increase in news coverage of the accidents leading folks to store their guns more safely?

    Nobody here has answered how these laws are even enforced. The police are not allowed to simply go to a gun-owners house and inspect their gun-storage facilities. Only after an accident involving guns can they prosecute anyone.

    2.5 mio guns used in self defense every year. the work of Kleck is pretty fantastic as well!

    Well, that’s what the survey data said. You guys believe the Lancet survey results, what’s wrong with Kleck’s?

  12. #12 ben
    February 1, 2008

    Now, I know you folks are all about education. Especially for sex, where our youngsters can fornicate all over the place, get pregnant, and contract all sorts of unpleasant and potentially fatal diseases. But why against education when it comes to guns?

    I know, that will just entice them to think that guns aren’t big and evil, but I don’t believe that the same way that you all don’t think that sex-ed will make kids have more sex. Why would it be one way for sex and different for guns.

    Remember the argument, that kids got all their sex-ed from stupid places like other kids, and stupid movies and TV shows from Hollywood? Well, where do you think they get their knowledge about guns from? Mostly from stupid movies. And then there’s those parents who would rather act like guns don’t exist, and hide them from their kids, just like those prudish parents who hide the smut from their children. Apparently one is a good idea, and the other is “antisocial”?

  13. #13 dhogaza
    February 1, 2008

    Now, I know you folks are all about education. Especially for sex, where our youngsters can fornicate all over the place, get pregnant, and contract all sorts of unpleasant and potentially fatal diseases. But why against education when it comes to guns?

    Well, for one thing, unless you’re a statistically unlikely Ben, you were born with your penis.

    And, for you, gun education *is* sex education.

    Remember? “This is your rifle, this is your gun. One is for shooting, one is for fun …”

    Sex and sexuality, and their consequences, are something that no human on the planet can avoid.

    On the other hand, you don’t have to buy a rifle, pistol, etc.

  14. #14 sod
    February 1, 2008

    Yes I did. The CAP laws had no statistically significant affect anywhere with the exception of Florida. Lott claimed that the laws were ineffective, although his analysis was crap. He was right about the effect out of luck.

    this is FALSE!
    Lott claims, that:

    We find no support that safe‐storage laws reduce either juvenile accidental gun deaths or suicides.

    this is contradicted in Florida. (again: the first one to introduce CAP)

    and this is contradicted in other places, though the Webster study could not show a STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT reduction.
    we are talking about rare events. achieving significance is difficult over a short time span.
    and the difference between NO reduction and NO significant reduction is best explained by assuming that your kid was saved by the law…

    So did the law cause the decrease in gun-accidents directly, or was it simply the increase in news coverage of the accidents leading folks to store their guns more safely?

    a big advantage of clear storage rules IS, that people will know what to do after some media coverage.
    the Cummings study DID control a general reduction. your claim isn t based on anything. as usual.

    Nobody here has answered how these laws are even enforced. The police are not allowed to simply go to a gun-owners house and inspect their gun-storage facilities. Only after an accident involving guns can they prosecute anyone.

    my country has rather strict storage laws. most violations are discovered during transportation and by accident (often other crimes/violations of rules..)

    Well, that’s what the survey data said. You guys believe the Lancet survey results, what’s wrong with Kleck’s?

    did Kleck confirm his results by asking for gun use certificates?

    Kleck reports that :

    400000 people a year use guns in situations where the defenders claim that they “almost certainly” saved a life by doing so, this result cannot be dismissed as trivial.

    how you can believe that result is beyond me…

  15. #15 ben
    February 1, 2008

    Dhogaza, you are an asshole.

  16. #16 dhogaza
    February 2, 2008

    And this is relevant to my point about sex education how, exactly, Ben?

    The fact that sexuality is a trait that everyone’s born with shouldn’t be controversial. I wasn’t a born with a gun ummm rifle.

    The old “this is your rifle, this is your gun …” line comes from basic training in WW II, if not before, BTW. Perhaps you’ve not heard it. I’m a bit older than you, my father and all three of my uncles served in that one, so I grew up with silly little army and navy things from that era.

    A more valid analogy might be driver training. Why do we have that and not gun training in school?

  17. #17 sod
    February 2, 2008

    to understand how useless ben’s version of a law would be, you need to look at two extreme cases:

    A) a person did everything to ensure gun safety: safe storage, gun lock, storing ammunition apart and educated his kids.
    some accident happens anyway.
    the person gets additional punishment.

    B) a police officer notices some extremely dangerous behaviour. loaded guns stored in direct proximity of untrained kids.
    he can t interfere BEFORE an accident happens.

  18. #18 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 2, 2008

    ben writes:

    [[Now, I know you folks are all about education. Especially for sex, where our youngsters can fornicate all over the place, get pregnant, and contract all sorts of unpleasant and potentially fatal diseases.]]

    Countries with good sex ed programs have fewer teenage pregnancies and later age at first intercourse, compared to countries without. They have those effects after the programs are implemented as compared to before. The only type of sex ed program that has been shown to be useless or counterproductive are the abstinence-only programs.

    Kids don’t need sex ed classes to figure out how to have sex; they’ve been doing it successfully without instruction for about 600 million years. Contraception has made sex less dangerous; consequently there is more of it than there was before the Pill came along. Sex ed classes do not cause kids to have sex and it’s just plain stupid to insist that they do. You can only have that view if you get all your information from Rush Limbaugh or the National Review and never look at peer-reviewed statistical studies.

  19. #19 ben
    February 2, 2008

    Countries with good sex ed programs have fewer teenage pregnancies and later age at first intercourse, compared to countries without. They have those effects after the programs are implemented as compared to before.

    I was never claiming the opposite.

    Kids don’t need sex ed classes to figure out how to have sex;

    Neither do they need gun-safety classes to figure out how to use guns. A gun is just about the most obvious mechanism on the planet to figure out how to use.

  20. #20 sod
    February 2, 2008

    ben, why not get back on topic?

    safe storage. everathing you said, has been contradicted. fact.

  21. #21 ben
    February 3, 2008

    safe storage. everathing you said, has been contradicted. fact.

    Not true:

    I wrote that Lott’s analysis was wrong.

    I wrote that Webster and Starnes paper showed that the Cummings paper was mostly wrong.

    Yes, the the law seemed to have an effect in Florida. But why didn’t it have a statistically significant effect in any of the other dozen or so states in which it had been enacted?

    I’m all for safe storage of firearms. I am for safe handling of firearms. I think every citizen in the USA should know how to safely handle a firearm, or at least know what to do with one that they encounter unintentionally. I think this would do more to reduce gun accidents than safe storage laws, laws that cannot be enforced until after an accident has occurred.

    Yes, in CANADA, and similar countries, the police can do a surprise inspection of your home. That will not fly in America, so something else needs to be done. Do you have any realistic suggestions, sod?

  22. #22 Anton Mates
    February 3, 2008

    I wrote that Webster and Starnes paper showed that the Cummings paper was mostly wrong.

    But it didn’t. It confirmed the result of Cummings et al., namely that safe storage laws were associated with a statistically significant decrease in accidental child firearm mortality. It even found the decrease to have a similar magnitude. Sure, W&S added the wrinkle that this was the product of a huge and highly significant decrease in Florida, coupled with non-significant decreases in other states, but this doesn’t refute the Cummings paper.

    Yes, the the law seemed to have an effect in Florida. But why didn’t it have a statistically significant effect in any of the other dozen or so states in which it had been enacted?

    Webster and Starnes suggest an explanation for this. First, Florida had the first such law, and for that and other reasons, public awareness of the law may be exceptionally high there. Second, Florida’s law has harsher penalties for safe-storage violations than does that of any other state–and it’s one of only three states where violations can be prosecuted as a felony. Finally, many of the other states had very low rates of accidental childhood unintentional firearm deaths to begin with; Florida’s was among the highest. Thus, it was unusually easy to find statistically significant reductions in deaths in Florida, since all the numbers were bigger. You’d need a longer-term study to find similar significance in other states.

    W & S consider your hypothesis that safe storage laws are simply ineffective in preventing accidental deaths of children. They reject it because of the magnitude and high level of significance of Florida’s decrease.

  23. #23 zevgoldman
    February 4, 2008

    Sod;
    Are gun-lunitics anything like freedom of speech-lunitics, or freedom of assembly-lunitics or even right to vote-lunitics? Or might they be like the, I know what parts of the consititution should be legislated out of existence-lunitics?
    As a highway patrolman once told me: “It’s always better to have a gun that’s too small when you need a gun, than no gun at all.”
    Since I live in a location where the illegal alien plague has hit with full force and home invasions and armed criminal actions are becoming common, I have a firearm safely stored on my person as I am licensed to do. However, I am a constitution-lunitic.

  24. #24 sod
    February 4, 2008

    a lunatic in this guns discussion is someone with some obviously insane believes.

    like

    “gun self defense prevents 400000 homicides per year”

    or

    safe storage laws prevent more self defense than accidents

    or even

    safe storage laws do not effect gun accidents.

    i am pretty sure that you will qualify!

  25. #25 ben
    February 5, 2008

    sod, you forgot one:

    if guns are banned then only criminals will have guns

    Whoops, looks like that is true in Britain. How can that be???

  26. #26 SG
    February 5, 2008

    Ben, in Canada home inspections are only applied to collectors of 10 weapons or more. Would you care to tell which other “similar countries” have random house inspections?

  27. #27 SG
    February 5, 2008

    In fact, from the gun control canada faq:

    The inspection powers in the law are consistent with inspection powers under other legislation. The law does not allow police to enter their homes without their permission or a warrant. Police inspection powers are restricted to owners of prohibited or restricted weapons or those with 10 firearms or more, and they must provide advance notice and obtain the owner’s permission. Otherwise, a police warrant is needed.

    Not to mention that you can own an automatic weapon in Canada, and a gun control officer reviewing your application must state that “they know of no reason why the application should not have a firearm”. It’s hardly fascism…

  28. #28 bi
    February 5, 2008

    ben:

    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…

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

  29. #29 dhogaza
    February 5, 2008

    In fact, from the gun control canada faq…

    Remember, this is Ben you’re dealing with. Ben, whose grasp on facts is tenuous at best. Remember, he believes that Canada’s health care system is so bad that if you’re shot in Canada, you’ll have to wait up to six weeks to schedule emergency treatment.

  30. #30 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 5, 2008

    dhogaza posts:

    [[Remember, he believes that Canada's health care system is so bad that if you're shot in Canada, you'll have to wait up to six weeks to schedule emergency treatment.]]

    I was shot in Canada, and I did have to wait six weeks for emergency treatment. Of course, I was dead long before the period expired, and as a result, I’m not writing this now. You’re “reading” a figment of your imagination.

  31. #31 ben
    February 5, 2008

    Ben, in Canada home inspections are only applied to collectors of 10 weapons or more.

    Wrong. Your own information states

    Police inspection powers are restricted to owners of prohibited or restricted weapons or those with 10 firearms or more, and they must provide advance notice and obtain the owner’s permission.

    restricted firearms are ordinary handguns with a barrel length greater than 4.1 inches (4.1 inches or less and they are “prohibited”), and what anti-gun lobbyists refer to as “assault weapons” here in the states. Ordinary Canadians are allowed to own these weapons. What’s the point of an inspection if the person you are inspecting knows you are coming. All that proves is that they have the means to store their firearms “safely,” not that they actually do.

    Not to mention that you can own an automatic weapon in Canada

    Wrong. I may not own an automatic weapon in Canada. An automatic weapon is a “prohibited” firearm in Canada. The only people allowed to own them are persons who already owned one before they were banned. Which means your grandpappy may own his WWII bringback, but you may not. On the other hand, I may own one in the USA. They cost quite a bit of money, but for $16,000 or so, and if I live in a state that allows them, I can buy myself an M16. I don’t want to own one, as to me they’re just a waste of expensive ammunition.

    So let’s see, by Canada’s standards, I own two unrestricted firearm, two restricted firearms, and one prohibited firearm. The interesting thing is that it is easier for me as an American visiting Canada to bring a restricted handgun legally into Canada than it is for a Canadian to get past all the red tape they need to get past in order to own one.

    Also, Canada does allow a very few bush-pilot types to openly carry a pistol out in the wilderness. You and me? Nope. Also, and even fewer number of Canadians have licenses to carry a concealed pistol. They’re reserved for former prime ministers, and biker-gang prosecutors. Even off-duty RCMP officers may not carry a weapon. What sense does that make? Seattle City PD must carry a pistol on them at all times when within the city limits, on duty or not.

  32. #32 SG
    February 5, 2008

    Ben, you prove my point. Home inspections are only allowed for people who own assault weapons, semi-automatic weapons and handguns. Rifles, shotguns and the like are neither restricted nor prohibited. So if you don’t need a special gun, you don’t get a special inspection.

    As for this:

    Which means your grandpappy may own his WWII bringback, but you may not.

    you should note that many assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons were unrestricted until 1995 – so the “grandfather” clause doesn’t apply only to grandpappy’s bringback. And you can’t argue that individuals are “not allowed to own” a weapon when, in fact, individuals are “allowed to own” a weapon. The difference is quite large.

    Interesting point you make about people from the US bringing weapons into Canada, since it is known that a large number of illegally-possessed weapons in Canada were in fact smuggled in from … the US.

    The law on concealed pistols states that you can only own a concealed pistol for self-defense if you can prove that you need it and that the police cannot protect you. Is there some other reason, Ben, that you would need a concealed pistol?

  33. #33 SG
    February 5, 2008

    I’m amused too Ben that you try to claim discrimination between “bush-pilot types” and ordinary people. Back when the laws were first introduced, the gun lobby complained about the opposite – that rural folks were being discriminated against because of urban crime.

    You guys really will look for any slimy argument won’t you?

  34. #34 z
    February 5, 2008

    Note that Alberta sued the federal govt (in 96 iirc?) over the registry, with several other provinces and most of the native/aboriginal organizations holding their coat. Appealedall the way to the Supreme Court. When they lost, they announced that they will not enforce or prosecute violations. Several of the other provinces have taken similar positions.

  35. #35 ben
    February 6, 2008

    …assault weapons, semi-automatic weapons and handguns.

    Like, do you actually have any idea what you are writing about? An “assault weapon,” near as I can tell, is a semi-automatic rifle that happens to look scary.

    Because I know you do not know what you are writing about, I will try to educate you. First, weapons belonging to the class of firearms known collectively as “machine guns,” including submachine guns, assault rifles (not to be confused with the nebulous “assault weapon”), and the like were banned in 1978

    Fully Automatic Firearms: In 1978, fully automatic firearms were banned, although anyone who legally possessed them at the time was deemed a “genuine gun collector” and was permitted to retain them as “grandfathered” weapons. As a result, approximately 10, 000 of these machine guns were grandfathered, of which 5,000 to 6,000 remain in circulation.

    1995 simply saw the ban of the last remaining scary looking semi-automatic rifles, often referred to by people who do not like them as “assault weapons.” Apparently the Canadian government thought these weapons were not “reasonably used” for hunting, which is a crock.

    Yes, Albertans saw the long arm registration as the crock of crap that it was. Pointless for preventing crime, yet costing billions of dollars.

    And, SG, rural folks are being discriminated against because of urban crime. “Rural folks” are almost entirely NOT bush pilots, even though bush pilots are often rural folks. I was merely showing that a teeny weeny segment of society was “allowed” to the use of an effective means of self protection out in the wilderness. No exceptions are made for ordinary people who might want to spend some time as far away from civilization as they can get.

  36. #36 dhogaza
    February 6, 2008

    Well, just to help Ben out:

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source – Share This
    assault rifle
    -noun
    1. a military rifle capable of both automatic and semiautomatic fire, utilizing an intermediate-power cartridge.
    2. a nonmilitary weapon modeled on the military assault rifle, usu. modified to allow only semiautomatic fire.
    [Origin: 1970-75]
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
    American Heritage Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This
    assault rifle
    n. Any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles designed for individual use in combat.

    (Download Now or Buy the Book)
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
    WordNet – Cite This Source – Share This
    assault rifle

    noun
    any of the automatic rifles or semiautomatic rifles with large magazines designed for military use

    Now, Ben will argue that gun enthusiasts don’t use dictionary definitions, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t entitled to use the english language properly.

  37. #37 SG
    February 6, 2008

    sneer away Ben, but bear in mind that the sentence I used above came from the very site you linked to, in a summary of the changed laws. I think dhogaza has made it pretty clear that you are using your own fanciful definition here.

    Your last comment is gibberish, and just proves the point: if the guns are banned, rural people are discriminated against. If they aren’t banned for rural people, urban people are discriminated against. There is only one category of person actually being discriminated against here, Ben – uncivilised oiks who think guns are good.

  38. #38 ben
    February 6, 2008

    Now, Ben will argue that gun enthusiasts don’t use dictionary definitions, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t entitled to use the english language properly.

    You dips called them “assault weapons,” not “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is exactly as your dictionary statement reads. In military parlance, an assault rifle is always select fire. In layman’s terms, the dictionary is close enough.

    Now I see that dictionary.com has an entry for “assault weapon” that simply mirrors assault rifle. The funny thing is that neither the federal, nor the state assault weapons “bans” banned any select fire weapons. They only banned semi-automatic weapons that looked scary. Even the Brady Campaign called the semi-auto versions even more deadly! :P

    The looks scary test was pretty ridiculous. The “ban” could not be connected to any reduction in crime, and logically it could not have been. Banning cosmetic features, such as grenade launchers and bayonet mounts is going to reduce crime how? Banning flash-hiders but not muzzle breaks is going to solve some aspect of the America’s crime problem how?

    That is why, when I hear a politician blather on about the need to reenact the assault weapons ban, I simply laugh in their face. Rather than do something that will actually work to reduce crime, they go after law-abiding gun owners with laws that cannot affect crime rates, but only infringe the rights of ordinary Americans.

  39. #39 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 6, 2008

    Ben, why, exactly, do private citizens need to own assault rifles?

    The only private citizens I can think of who actually use such weapons are bank robbers.

  40. #40 ben
    February 6, 2008

    The only private citizens I can think of who actually use such weapons are bank robbers.

    Barton, if we are referring to the semi-automatic versions of these assault rifles, then you are flat wrong. There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of them in legitimate use by American and Canadian civilians all the time. I have one myself. Notice mine has an eeevil scope that turns my “assault rifle” into an eeevil sniper rifle. Turns out it’s quite accurate and excellent for hunting deer.

    They are also excellent target rifles for women because they are light weight, superbly accurate, and have low recoil. I suppose they are just making up for their lack of a penis though.

    Besides, how many bank robbers do you know of who used assault rifles in their robberies? I know of two. One was a recent group of Army special forces idiots who thought they could get away with a heist. The other was the infamous Hollywood bank robbery in which the robbers had illegally owned machine guns. They sprayed bullets all over the place, but not a single innocent person died. The robbers died, though.

    sneer away Ben, but bear in mind that the sentence I used above came from the very site you linked to, in a summary of the changed laws. I think dhogaza has made it pretty clear that you are using your own fanciful definition here.

    I will sneer away because you wrote

    Not to mention that you can own an automatic weapon in Canada

    I wrote the thing about grandpappy’s WWII bringback in response to that. An “automatic weapon” is a MACHINE GUN. They you through out the crap about types of assault weapons blah blah 1995. SG, you are the one having the problem with inconsistency. Try to keep up.

  41. #41 ben
    February 6, 2008

    Crud, I posted the same link twice. The last link was supposed to be to this. Women lacking penises and all.

  42. #42 ben
    February 6, 2008

    Hmmm, seems my post, which should have been #40, got sent off to comment arbitration. :p

  43. #43 dhogaza
    February 6, 2008

    The looks scary test was pretty ridiculous.

    Nor is it actually in the law.

    How does the ban on assault rifles limit your ability to hunt? What’s wrong with the ole’ 30-’06 which might actually kill an elk if you hit it from a couple hundred yards out?

    What, in practice, will you use one for? Target practice? You going to carry it concealed (snicker)?

    Where does the constitution, in your mind, draw the line?

    Nukes? Can I go to pakistan and buy my own nuke? Or will you and the NRA say that somehow that’s not constitutional?

  44. #44 ben
    February 6, 2008

    Nor is it actually in the law.

    Oh? You mean the law that banned this but not this?

    A .30-06 is a very nice cartridge. Good all around for most North American big game. I hunt with a very similar cartridge in a bolt action rifle for deer and elk. However, my AR-15 is chambered in 6.8spc and is very effective for deer out to 300 yards (unlike the somewhat underpowered .223 that most AR’s are chambered in, which makes one wonder why the anti-gun folks always call AR’s “high powered assault weapons”), and the AR is a very light weapon, easy to carry for miles on end in the woods.

    Most folks who hunt with AR’s are after varmints, as that is what the .223/5.56mm round is especially good for.

    Nukes? I think that research on the Second Amendment has shown that the founders had in mind by the term “arms,” weapons that are typical or appropriate for individual soldiers to carry, such as rifles and pistols.

  45. #45 dhogaza
    February 6, 2008

    I think that research on the Second Amendment has shown that the founders had in mind by the term “arms,” weapons that are typical or appropriate for individual soldiers to carry, such as rifles and pistols.

    Would this be the research that tells us what a “well-regulated militia” is?

    Or do you have some sort of magic selector widget available that differentiates one sort of research into determining intent from another?

  46. #46 ben
    February 6, 2008

    dhogaza, the Consitution of the United States clearly defines that the militia is

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are–
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    Well regulated effectively means well trained, as in, know how to use their arms. I know you are trying your best to overlook “the people” in the 2A, but it’s there for all to see, and it means there exactly what it means in all the other amendments of the Bill of Rights. The “well regulated militia” part does not restrict the amendment to only militia members, it only gives a single, but not limiting, justification for the amendment. Here is a nice summary of the original intent:

    The Second Amendment preserves and guarantees an individual right for a collective purpose. That does not transform the right into a “collective right.” The militia clause was a declaration of purpose, and preserving the people’s right to keep and bear arms was the method the framers chose to, in-part, ensure the continuation of a well-regulated militia.

    There is no contrary evidence from the writings of the Founding Fathers, early American legal commentators, or pre-twentieth century Supreme Court decisions, indicating that the Second Amendment was intended to apply solely to active militia members.

    You know, the honest and straightforward way of dealing with gun laws in the United States, is to amend the constitution. This is typically a difficult thing to do, but if enough people want it changed, and the anti-gun folks seem to think that us gun-nuts are a fringe minority, then it should be a piece of cake. How about you simply state that guns are ick and that you are pushing for an amendment to the Constitution?

  47. #47 SG
    February 6, 2008

    I’m shocked, Ben. You mean that even though nukes hadn’t been invented and atomic science didn’t exist, we can know what the founding fathers thought about dhogaza owning nukes?

    In comment 38, you shifted from discussing Canadian laws to discussing American ones, so you could fit your special definition to the story you are trying to tell. The gun control laws fact sheet I am using clearly states that select fire weapons were prohibited in 1995, with a grandfather clause. So grandpappy’s bringback is only a relevant comparison if you include grandpappy’s bringback from Gulf War 1.

    I’m amused too that you are a user of an AR15. According to the gun law faq they are still available in Canada, and yet you bleat about Canadian gun laws all the time…

  48. #48 ben
    February 6, 2008

    From this page: 1. Fully Automatic Firearms: In 1978, fully automatic firearms were banned, although anyone who legally possessed them at the time was deemed a “genuine gun collector” and was permitted to retain them as “grandfathered” weapons. As a result, approximately 10, 000 of these machine guns were grandfathered, of which 5,000 to 6,000 remain in circulation.
    Select fire weapons are weapons capable of full auto and semi-auto fire. These were banned in 1978. If you have a source that claims something different, please give me the link.

    According to the page I have, AR-15′s are banned except for users who already own a rifle in that class. The page must be in error, because I’ve talked to gun store owners in Canada and they sell AR’s there. The problem with Canada is all the hoops I would have to jump through to own one. In the USA, I either walk into a store, pay my money, wait 10 minutes for the background check and walk out, or simply buy one direct, no background check involved, from a private citizen.

  49. #49 elspi
    February 6, 2008

    “The people”

    That is your problem Ben. When you see that phrase, you should think “a democratic government”. It replaces “The crown” or “His/Her Majesty” from English law. Legal language isn’t the same as regular English, and this is one of the standard phrases.

    Haven’t you every seen Law and Order where they say “The people’s representative” or “Representing the people of New York”. Did you really think that the DA was just some homeless person that wandered into the Court and decided he was the “people’s representative”?

  50. #50 elspi
    February 6, 2008

    Ben This :

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are– (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    isn’t in the constitution. Look at you own link before you say stupid things
    Or maybe you think that http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/10/usc_sup_01_10_10_D.html
    was in the constitution too?

  51. #51 elspi
    February 6, 2008

    From law.com Law dictionary:

    people
    n. the designation for the prosecuting government in a criminal trial, as in People v. Capone. Such a case may also be captioned State v. Davis or in federal prosecutions, United States v. Miller.

  52. #52 ben
    February 7, 2008

    “The people”
    That is your problem Ben. When you see that phrase, you should think “a democratic government”. It replaces “The crown” or “His/Her Majesty” from English law.

    I do not think that, and neither should I. “The people” means the individual citizens. Are you an American, elspi? If so, you should know better. The whole point of the declaration of independence, and of the Constitution, is to free the individual from tyranny, be it that of the Crown or the “democratic government” blah blah blah. If that was the case, then it would not be an abrogation of anyone’s rights to, say, kill blacks, as long as that was the will of the democratic majority. Since only the government, as you put it, has any rights. But the notion that a government has rights is patently absurd. The point of the constitution is to protect the individual from the government.

    Yes, I borked on that militia stuff above. It doesn’t really matter, since that is not the important part of the Second Amendment. The important part is this, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Read it yourself your way: the right of the democratic government to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It is madness. Who would it be, exactly, that would infringe on the governments rights to keep and bear arms?!? Governments do not have rights, people do.

  53. #53 SG
    February 7, 2008

    Ben, at 48 I think that page is slightly wrong. It says that there was a “Ban on additional semi-automatic weapons” including the AR15, from 1995. But the link at the start of that sentence goes to a pdf document which states that “These firearms were restricted in 1992 and should have been registered since then”. I think the paragraph in which the link is embedded used sloppy language. I suspect the attached list includes pretty much every weapon currently being used in Afghanistan to kill Canadian soldiers (and to attempt to kill Australians!). But you can still buy them in Canada!

    i was using a different pdf about changes to the law which has a very convenient table. In that table under “1995″ it explicitly states that AR15 and its variants are available. I think your page might be a bit sloppy on the lingo.

    But I’m not sure why it should bother you that you have to jump through so many hoops to buy a rifle. When it comes to pretty much everything else, you libertarian strong-security anti-immigration types always say “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”. Or is that only when other people complain about being regulated by the state?

  54. #54 ben
    February 7, 2008

    SG, the problem isn’t that there are hoops, the problem is that they are unreasonable hoops. They cost an inordinate amount of money and take an inordinate amount of time. If it were as simple as getting a driver’s license, then maybe I wouldn’t complain, and if it were as simple as registering a car, then it might not be a problem.

    I tried to get into shooting sports when I lived in Canada. It was impossible, as I suspect it was intended by those who hate guns, to keep people from getting involved. I was a college student. I could just barely afford a firearm, but I could not afford the time and money required for the classes, the permits, the range membership etc, etc…

    In the States, you go in, buy a rifle, and head to the range. The guy at the range helps you out for free because he’s interested in you learning how to use a firearm safely. It’s the same way across America. You don’t need a bunch of busy-body government bureaucrats looking over your shoulder and administering useless exams when there’s an old duffer at the range who knows 100 times more than the dips at the government office and is personally interested in passing his knowledge and enthusiasm on to the next generation.

  55. #55 SG
    February 7, 2008

    Yeah, I wanted to be a doctor, but I couldn’t afford the fees for 6years of study. I mean, all that busy-bodying with training and licenses when you’re just a poor boy…

    … what’s your point exactly, Ben? That the government shouldn’t regulate things you like? That a dangerous luxury like owning a gun needs to be less regulated than a dangerous necessity like owning a car?…

    … and why are you now admitting that you think it’s good for people to own a dangerous device with no training? Before you were all for the existence of a “trained militia”, now you think I should just be able to take my rocket launcher home and have a fiddle (pardon the pun). Your illusion of concern for the greater good is slipping…

    … and what’s with the tautological pretense that all gun-owners are law-abiding. Why should we assume that once someone has bought a gun they will “head to the range” and not practice in their backyard? With this statement you are assuming that people already know enough gun safety to make that decision, and that they are decent enough to care about their neighbours. The stats on murder, suicide and fatal accidents in the US give the lie to that assumption, so why do you use it?

  56. #56 MartinM
    February 7, 2008

    The problem with Canada is all the hoops I would have to jump through to own one. In the USA, I either walk into a store, pay my money, wait 10 minutes for the background check and walk out, or simply buy one direct, no background check involved, from a private citizen.

    …and the problem is with Canada. Right.

  57. #57 dhogaza
    February 7, 2008

    The whole point of the declaration of independence, and of the Constitution, is to free the individual from tyranny

    Ben’s grasp of American history is woefully inadequate.

    I’ll avoid discussing the declaration of independence for the moment (which declares the COLONIES not individual people to be independent of the Crown), and stick to the Constitution.

    The purpose of the Constitution is to define the United States Government, not to “free the individual from tyranny”. Missing from the document, for instance, was any freedom for black individuals from the tyranny of slavery, or State Laws governing slavery. Indeed, slavery was explicitly recognized by the Constitution.

  58. #58 ben
    February 7, 2008

    The purpose of the Constitution is to define the United States Government, not to “free the individual from tyranny”. Missing from the document, for instance, was any freedom for black individuals from the tyranny of slavery, or State Laws governing slavery. Indeed, slavery was explicitly recognized by the Constitution.

    Yes, slavery was a hypocracy in the Constitution, and we paid dearly for it. We are still paying for it. Yes, the Constitution defines the LIMITS of the government. The Bill of Rights, something I consider to be a part of the Constitution, since the Bill amends the Constitution, lays out the fundamental rights that individuals possess (note that the rights are NOT granted), that explicitly may not be infringed by the government. The rest of the idea was that government was supposed to be limited to those powers enumerated in the Constitution. The government, and the courts, seem to have forgotten that last part.

  59. #59 QrazyQat
    February 7, 2008

    In the USA, I either walk into a store, pay my money, wait 10 minutes for the background check and walk out, or simply buy one direct, no background check involved, from a private citizen.

    Sounds perfect for criminals and terrorists. And it sounds that way because it is.

  60. #60 ben
    February 7, 2008

    Well, QrazyQat, it’s really that there’s no official background check. I’ve sold several guns privately and I always check drivers licenses and get a feel for the person. If I something doesn’t seem right, I won’t sell to them.

    You know, the federal government could do a lot of good if they would open the background check system to private individuals. I would like to be able to check a potential buyer’s background, but the government doesn’t allow that. Instead I have to go to a dealer and pay $50 for a background check.

  61. #61 ben
    February 7, 2008

    I wanted to be a doctor, but I couldn’t afford the fees for 6years of study. I mean, all that busy-bodying with training and licenses when you’re just a poor boy…

    Yep, and a lot of good that did too. Doctors kill more people every year than guns.

    You know, Americas gun laws are what they are, and they aren’t going to change significantly any time soon. A lot more good could be done by keeping violent criminals locked up longer, prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law, and, you know, enforcing the myriad laws already on the books. How many violent crimes are committed every year by a repeat offender who was let out of jail earlier than they should have been? How many crimes were committed because the State decided not to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law?

    From the Florida AG

    It has long been recognized that repeat offenders commit a large number of the serious and violent crimes in Florida. One study revealed that upwards of 70% of crimes are committed by 30% of the offenders. The physical misery inflicted by these repeat offenders, and the economic impact of their crimes, are enormous.

    New gun laws that make life more difficult for law-abiding citizens are useless. How about going after criminals instead?

  62. #62 MartinM
    February 7, 2008

    New gun laws that make life more difficult for law-abiding citizens are useless. How about going after criminals instead?

    New gun laws may make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to use guns legally, but they also make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to become criminals by committing a gun crime. They also make it more difficult for criminals to obtain guns from law-abiding citizens.

    The notion that gun laws carry no benefit is as wrong as the notion that they carry no cost. It’s a question of balance, and that is an empirical question.

  63. #63 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 7, 2008

    ben posts:

    [[Doctors kill more people every year than guns.]]

    This is a misleading statistic. People who have something seriously wrong with them are the most likely subpopulation to see a doctor. They have a higher death rate. Thus the apparent correlation between seeing a doctor and death rates.

    A similar effect was seen when hospital workers went on strike in California a few years ago — death rates in the state declined. But that was because risky operations with high death rates weren’t being performed. Doesn’t mean those people were saved.

    There are problems with iatrogenic disease, hospital infections, etc., but the way to fix them is not to turn away from the medical sector.

  64. #64 ben
    February 7, 2008

    This is a misleading statistic.

    True. But more people now die from prescription drugs that are not performing a life saving function (i.e. pain killers, no pun intended), than from guns. Nice.

    I have long believed that doctors massively over prescribe medications to people and that this is a disaster. Not to mention that it drives up the cost of health care enormously.

  65. #65 dhogaza
    February 7, 2008

    Yes, slavery was a hypocracy in the Constitution, and we paid dearly for it. We are still paying for it.

    No. It was a political compromise that was necessary if the Union were to be preserved when the successor to the Articles of Confederation were replaced.

    There’s nothing hypocritical about it, because you’ve argued from a false premise in the first place.

    The impetus for replacing the Articles with the Constitution was the perceived need to strengthen the federal government.

    The constitution was driven by practical need.

    The Bill of Rights, something I consider to be a part of the Constitution, since the Bill amends the Constitution…

    The Bill of Rights simply underscores the practical, rather than philisophical, motives driving the writing of the original document.

    The Bill of Rights were written and adopted precisely because of fears, especially in the South, that the federal government would be too strong if it weren’t amended.

    And what issue do you think drove those in the South to insist on an amendment to protect private property right? Do you think that perhaps one item of property they were worried about were their slaves?

    They’d think that …

  66. #66 dhogaza
    February 7, 2008

    True. But more people now die from prescription drugs that are not performing a life saving function (i.e. pain killers, no pun intended), than from guns. Nice.

    So we should prescribe guns to people who suffer from migraines, at least a shot to the head would end their pain.

    Sorry, Ben, just trying to join you in the school of absolutely stupid, meaningless statistics.

  67. #67 ben
    February 7, 2008

    In the end, it doesn’t matter. Gun laws here are fine. They are not likely to get stricter any time soon, and might even get looser. I win.

    The only laws about guns we have that are stupid now are the registration and $200 tax required for sound suppressors. And those, being a public health issue, and not crime issue, will go away too.

  68. #68 SG
    February 7, 2008

    What are you saying in comment 67 Ben? Are you happy that a law protecting people from a public health issue will be repealed?

    While it’s true that your gun laws aren’t going to change, that’s fine with me too. I live in countries with gun laws, so I’m safe from your craziness, except that the NRA is quite comfortable exporting its ideas. So long as my politicians don’t fall for your stupid ideas, I will remain safe and the rest of the world can continue chuckling at the craziness of American political “philosophy”, which argues that an excess of extremely dangerous devices (cars, guns) is completely unrelated to America’s exces s of injuries and deaths from those devices.

    Such magical thinking is amusing to watch from the outside. Shame so many people die because of it though.

  69. #69 SG
    February 7, 2008

    For those of you who are interested, today’s Daily Yomiuri has a description of Japanese gun control. I read it in the hard copy, don’t know if it’s available online, but I was shocked (shocked! I tell you!) at how easy it is to buy a gun here.

    To get a gun in Japan, you apply for a license, go to a series of safety lectures, attend a gun-handling safety test, and then you have the gun. There are also police “background checks”, but according to experts mentioned in the Yomiuri, these are increasingly becoming a mere formality. The license needs to be renewed every 3 years by visiting a lecture.

    I think this makes owning a gun in Japan easier than in Australia. Because of some recent murders, the police have reviewed the background of all the licensed gun owners, and as a consequence have revoked the license on 90 individuals (out of about 60,000). About half of these individuals have domestic violence or stalking offences in their criminal history.

    But here’s the funny thing: 2000 or so individuals voluntary surrendered their firearms because they thought the neighbours might be upset by their possession.

    I think this is further evidence to support the notion that America’s high gun crime rate is related to more than just the high gun ownership rate.

  70. #70 z
    February 7, 2008

    “I think this is further evidence to support the notion that America’s high gun crime rate is related to more than just the high gun ownership rate.”

    Indeed, ad Michael Moore decided at the end of his movie, which apparently half the people on either “side” have forgotten.

    Of course, there is a solid positive feedback in action, in the form of an arms race between everybody and the”bad men”.

  71. #71 ben
    February 7, 2008

    Strange that the Japanese kill themselves so much more often without guns, isn’t it?

  72. #72 z
    February 7, 2008

    Why? Japanese people like to kill themselves, American like to kill each other; everybody has their own hobby.

  73. #73 ben
    February 7, 2008

    But you all keep saying violence problems are due to guns not culture. They don’t have the guns, so it must be the culture. Thanks!

  74. #74 SG
    February 8, 2008

    Ben, now you’re being silly. Just for the record though, because I hear this crap a lot from pro-gun people, can you explain to me:

    a) how is there any kind of relationship between the two? Does not having access to guns cause suicide?

    b) given there is no moral or religious compunction against suicide in Japan, and a social history of honourable suicide; and given life insurance payouts can be made from suicide in Japan, even if there was a relationship in the US between these two phenomena, why should it extend to Japan?

    c) can you explain why canadians and australians don’t kill themselves at the same rate as Japanese, though they have similar gun laws?

    d) Does this mean that you think that low-crime countries must have higher suicide, i.e. that crime is some kind of outlet for repression?

  75. #75 SG
    February 8, 2008

    And Ben, I don’t keep saying that. We have argued that before. You just can’t explain why your US culture is so radically different to everyone else’s.

    My personal theory: in low-crime countries, gun control is not important for preventing gun crime. In high-crime countries, it is essential. So America needs gun control, Japan doesn’t.

  76. #76 Aureola Nominee, FCD
    February 8, 2008

    SG @ #69:

    “Because of some recent murders, the police have reviewed the background of all the licensed gun owners, and as a consequence have revoked the license on 90 individuals (out of about 60,000).”

    Am I reading this right? Only 60,000 Japanese hold a firearm licence?
    Or was this some particular subset of gun owners?

  77. #77 ben
    February 8, 2008

    how is there any kind of relationship between the two? Does not having access to guns cause suicide?

    Of course not. But the anti-gun side claims that easy access to guns does cause suicide. This is clearly false.

    can you explain why canadians and australians don’t kill themselves at the same rate as Japanese, though they have similar gun laws?

    Partly, yes. It has nothing to do with guns, just as I’ve been claiming all along. It has to do with culture.

    And Ben, I don’t keep saying that. We have argued that before. You just can’t explain why your US culture is so radically different to everyone else’s.

    No, I can’t, I’m not an expert in history or culture. But you just showed that cultural differences and not guns were responsible for Japan’s high suicide rate. Well, I claim the same thing for American crime rates. Can I prove it? No. Does this make it untrue? No.

  78. #78 SG
    February 8, 2008

    according to the Daily Yomiuri there are about 150000 gun owners in Japan, which has a population of about 120 million. So 1 in 1000 Japanese own a gun. Aureola, you are surprised that this is too few? I am surprised it is so high.

    Ben, you blame culture but you can’t explain why. Fair enough, but it begins to seem glib when the obvious explanation (guns) is denied but the less obvious explanation (culture) is posited without explanation. If you want to defy logic (more devices that kill people = more deaths) then you need to explain why. Occams razor and all that…

    The anti-gun side doesn’t claim easy access to guns causes suicide, only that it increases the rate. This is pretty easily established by comparing groups with different methods (men and women) and their success rates (the former much higher than the latter). The Japanese are, incidentally, extremely effective suiciders. Probably by world standards they are surprisingly good at doing it without guns. But this probably has something to do with the aforementioned cultural views of suicide… you can buy joke books here which rate the methods, after all. And AB Mitford has a riveting account of being invited to a ritual suicide during the Edo era. Fascinating reading if you can get it…

  79. #79 Aureola Nominee, FCD
    February 8, 2008

    SG:

    I wasn’t expressing surprise, merely asking for confirmation. I find that doing so helps me avoid misunderstandings. Since I know next to nothing about Japanese culture, my wild guess would have been that a higher percentage of them would own a gun; that’s why I wrote “only”.
    Finding that my wild guess was off the mark did not surprise me. My reaction is more “Good for them!”

    Personally, I think that arming yourself only triggers an “arms race”, one where the innocent are perforce at a tactical disadvantage (they don’t choose when and how they will be engaged). Knowing how to hit a target in no way compensates for not knowing when and how a “target” will try to hit you.

    Just my two cents.

  80. #80 SG
    February 8, 2008

    I see Aureola, sorry for the misunderstanding. I am only surprised by this figure to the extent that I thought it was high – I would have thought even less Japanese people would be able to own a gun, let alone want to.

    The Daily Yomiuri did seem to suggest as well that these guns are only rifles and shotguns, and I would guess that many of them are owned by hunters and farmers (Japan has wild boar and bears, and although bears are not to be killed, they are allowed to be killed if they persistently harrass villages). I also suspect that gun-owners here take their responsibilities much more seriously than they do in the west (but that’s just my 2 cents worth – the only gun-owner I ever met in the west besides my own grandfather was a lunatic who voted for a racist, economically destructive party so that he could get his machine gun back).

  81. #81 ben
    February 11, 2008

    I ever met in the west besides my own grandfather was a lunatic who voted for a racist…
    So he voted for Democrat Robert Byrd?

  82. #82 SG
    February 11, 2008

    Does Robert Byrd support the right to own machine guns? No, this guy was Australian…

  83. #83 ben
    February 11, 2008

    SG, South Dakota has craploads of guns, super loose gun laws, and a homicide rate about the same as England and Australia. Seems to defy Occam’s razor and all that. How can this be???

  84. #84 sod
    February 11, 2008

    SG, South Dakota has craploads of guns, super loose gun laws, and a homicide rate about the same as England and Australia. Seems to defy Occam’s razor and all that. How can this be???

    the art of comparison, lesson one:

    1. a comparison makes only sense,if the things being compared are reasonably SIMILAR.

    south dakota (over the 10 years up to 2006) had 117 murder cases among a population of about 760000. that transforms into a (crude) deathrate of over 1.5 per 100000.
    (btw, that number is NOT low in international comparison!)

    now you are comparing this to england, that has a homicide rate of 1.4.

    you ignore the fact, that south dakota has a population density of 3.84/km², while england has 388.7/km². wow, that is a factor 100!!!

    so congratulations. you just have found out, that there is less violence in the great plains, than in Moss Side, Manchester. CONGRATULATIONS!

  85. #85 ben
    February 11, 2008

    So what you are saying is that cities suck and should be banned? They are so dangerous after all.

  86. #86 ben
    February 11, 2008

    Oh boy, it gets better! South Dakota’s most populous county, Minnehaha, with a population density of almost 77/km² had exactly ZERO homicides in 2005. They also had ZERO homicides in 2004 (they did have two in 2000). And that’s with a gazillion guns and ultra-loose gun laws. If guns cause murder, shouldn’t there at least have been one homicide in Minnehaha County in the those two years? You know, Occam’s razor and all?

  87. #87 sod
    February 11, 2008

    So what you are saying is that cities suck and should be banned? They are so dangerous after all.

    “good” question.
    yes, i think we should fight violence in cities.
    yes, if it takes extra laws to achieve that, we should pass them.

    on the “banning” stuff, i would start with the options that hurt the least and cost less.
    abolishing guns or cities. hm, hard decision…

    Oh boy, it gets better! South Dakota’s most populous county, Minnehaha, with a population density of almost 77/km² had exactly ZERO homicides in 2005. They also had ZERO homicides in 2004 (they did have two in 2000). And that’s with a gazillion guns and ultra-loose gun laws. If guns cause murder, shouldn’t there at least have been one homicide in Minnehaha County in the those two years? You know, Occam’s razor and all?

    short answer: NO!

    “i rolled two dice. shouldn t there at least be one 6 among the results?”
    your argument shows a SIGNIFICANT lack of understanding.

  88. #88 ben
    February 11, 2008

    Well, in those two years, the state had a murder rate of 2 and 1 per hundred thousand residents, respectively. There were around 770,000 residents in the county in those years. And there were a butt-load of guns, and we all know that guns cause murder, as do high population densities, which Minnehaha has, relative to the rest of the state, in which they had a few murders and much lower population densities.

    So your version of Occam’s razor for the low homicide rate in 2004 and 2006 (and every other year) in Minnehaha is “they were lucky”? Good analysis!

  89. #89 sod
    February 11, 2008

    Well, in those two years, the state had a murder rate of 2 and 1 per hundred thousand residents, respectively. There were around 770,000 residents in the county in those years. And there were a butt-load of guns, and we all know that guns cause murder, as do high population densities, which Minnehaha has, relative to the rest of the state, in which they had a few murders and much lower population densities. So your version of Occam’s razor for the low homicide rate in 2004 and 2006 (and every other year) in Minnehaha is “they were lucky”? Good analysis!

    ben, i am sorry. you don t understand Occam’s razor. you don t understand statistics. you don t understand demography. you don t understand probability. you don t understand multi-causality.

    1. a population of 77/km² is NOT “high”. check Manchester again: 3,815/km² (yep, a factor of 50)

    2. many aspects influence the number of homicides: other violence, age, gender, education, wealth, guns, population density, safe storage!

    3. Minnehaha has a population of about 170000. one would expect to find about 3 homicides there per year. but homicide is a VERY rare event. finding none in several years is nothing to worry about.

  90. #90 z
    February 11, 2008

    And yet, South Dakota has the 12th highest rate of rapes of US states; while only the 49th highest rate of vehicle theft. I think that clearly shows that Guns Prevent Car Theft, but not rape so much. Highly unexpected, no?

    On a more serious note, reputable folks aren’t saying that availability of guns in the US increases the rate of suicide or murder attempts; just the lethality. Japanese may be proficient in hara-kiri; Americans would tend to abort the attempt once the point pricks the skin. On the other hand, once you pull the trigger, there is pretty much no turning back. Similarly, it takes a lot of effort to kill your spouse in a blind rage, using even a kitchen knife; so much easier with a handgun.

    Other than that, though, the driver of lethal violence and violent crime is more cultural than not.

  91. #91 ben
    February 11, 2008

    No, it is not “high,” duh. It is the “highest” in the state. Which should make it more likely that murders will take place there, according to you.

    They have no “safe storage” laws. They are not particularly wealthy, nor highly educated. They have about the same age and gender range of any other state. What they are lacking is the impoverished inner-city that the most crime ridden counties in the states have.

    Our high homicide rate is pretty much determined by a handful of outrageously crime-ridden cities. Within these cities, homicide is again outrageously conspicuous among a particular group of people: young black men. Maybe we should just ban them, and our crime problem would go away.

    Let’s have a look at homicide rates in American Cities: New Orleans: 53.23, Washington DC: 46.15 (lotta good their BAN on handguns does), Detroit: 42.26, Baltimore: 38.85, …, Chicago: 22.38 (again, with a Handgun BAN), Los Angeles: 17.7 …, Boston: 10.18, San Fran: 8.75, Seattle: 4.62, San Diego: 8%.

    Boston and San Fran having population numbers similar to Seattle. Seattle having far less restrictive gun laws than Boston and San Fran (how can that be??).

    If you look here on page 8, you’ll see which segment of the population is responsible for the vast majority of our homicides in Seattle. I suspect that this is true for the other cities listed above. I wonder, in Minnehaha SD, what is different about their population and those of the worst cities listed above? Hmmm?

    What percentage of the above cities are black? New Orleans: 67%, Washington DC: 60%, Detroit: 81%, Baltimore: 64%, Atlanta: 61%, Chicago 37%, Boston: 25%, Los Angeles: 11%, San Fran: 8%, Seattle: 8%, San Diego: 8%.

    I’m seeing a trend here, and it doesn’t have anything to do with gun laws. Even the fine folks at Georgia State University seem to notice the problem. Their model “explains nearly 70% of the variation in homicide rates across the cities,” and includes a disadvantage factor “representing the level of economic and social disadvantage that combines four highly correlated variables (factor loadings in parentheses): the poverty rate (.892); male unemployment rate (.953); % black (.947); and % female headed families w/own children under 18 (.956)”

    Occam’s razor indeed applies. It’s just that you don’t have the courage to talk about the true problem… you wuss out and blame the easy answer of guns, when the real problem lies deeper, and is unmentionable in today’s PC climate.

    And now, typical to this sort of discussion, I’ll be called a racist. Which is among the reasons there is little progress with this predicament, much to the suffering of a great many people.

    Let me nip this in the bud by defining racism for everyone:

    Racism: -noun
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

    I share no such belief, hatred, nor intolerance. I am only pointing out that crime is an extremely serious problem of the inner-city black population in the United States. I am not arguing any reason why this is, nor do I know of a good solution. I do suggest that burying our heads in the sand about it is not helpful, and neither is blaming guns.

  92. #92 SG
    February 11, 2008

    Ben, couple of points:

    1) South Dakota’s murder rate is highly variable, indicating that indeed 0 murders in sub-populations would be not unusual – it’s a small population to draw the data from, and murder is a low probability event
    2) the proper comparison is not SOuth Dakota with the UK and Australia, but South Dakota with a similarly rural part of the UK. How about Devon? overwhelmingly white and non-immigrant, rural farming community some distance from large cities. It probably also has a higher rate of gun ownership than the national average
    3) murder rates like this need to be age-standardised. South Dakota is probably much older than the US generally, and that needs to be taken into account when comparing disparate subgroups with the whole

    So your stats don’t stand out so much. I have to go get my tax rebate from the Japanese government, but I might have more to say on this when I return…

  93. #93 SG
    February 12, 2008

    So Ben, from teh police website here we can see that there were 0.4 “life threatening and gun crime” events per 1000 in Devon and Cornwall in 2005/06. From your link, adding violent and murder crimes we get about 2 per 1000 in South Dakota. Devon and Cornwall has a population of about 2 million people.

    The murder rate here is given as 1.04 per 100,000 for Devon and Cornwall, which compares unfavourably with Cumbria (0) and Wiltshire, where I grew up, 0.63 per 100,000 (maybe it was my moderating influence). In 2005/06 the South Dakota murder rate was 1.2. You can see from the UK table at that link that 1.2 is not exactly low by the standards of british counties, even more populous counties like Wiltshire. In fact South Dakota lies above the median murder rate in the UK, and that includes some fairly populous counties like Dorset. I don’t think your example is shedding a great deal of light on the situation…

  94. #94 Barton Paul Levenson
    February 12, 2008

    ben,

    Crime does, indeed, correlate with local black population fraction. But correlation is not causation. Blacks tend to have lower income than whites, and crime follows poverty. They tend not to complete as many years of school — crime follows poor education. They have more broken families — and again. If you concentrate on statistics like fraction of single-parent households, you get a better match than you get to race, because you’re focusing on something that can actually have an effect on behavior.

    There are black subcultures which glorify crime, especially in some of the worst inner cities (Detroit, LA, NYC). They do not constitute a majority of black Americans, and the black community is just as aware of the problem as the white community, if not more so. Note that crime victims, as well as perpetrators, have a higher black fraction. And note, too, that there are white subcultures which glorify crime and violence, like the militias and the racist right. The same racist newsletters that go on and on about “black crime” support groups that raise funds by fraud and armed robbery.

    Higher fraction — not the majority. Most crimes are still committed by white Americans. Remember that blacks only constitute 14% or so of the US population.

  95. #95 SG
    February 12, 2008

    Ben, we’ve been over the race issue and you can’t answer it. Why do none of your analyses control for poverty? And why do white Americans have twice the murder rate of all australians or British. I’m still waiting on that explanation…

  96. #96 ben
    February 12, 2008

    Barton, everything you write is true. The only misleading statement is this:

    And note, too, that there are white subcultures which glorify crime and violence, like the militias and the racist right. The same racist newsletters that go on and on about “black crime” support groups that raise funds by fraud and armed robbery.

    I’m not so sure that the militias in general glorify crime and violence. I think they glorify guns, self determination, and military culture. They do not have the correspondingly high murder rate of the inner-city gang culture. Maybe because they’re predominantly rural, and they can take their anger out on the deer?

    Higher fraction — not the majority. Most crimes are still committed by white Americans. Remember that blacks only constitute 14% or so of the US population.

    Maybe for general crime, but for homicide, black people commit over 50% of all murders, yet make up only, as you state, 14% of the population.

    Yes, they are poor, yes they have many single parent households. Yes the black people who are the problem constitute a minority of black people in America. But it ain’t the guns any more than it’s the race.

    The same racist newsletters that go on and on about “black crime”…

    I hope you aren’t suggesting that I read such crap. I’ve never seen a racist newsletter in my life. I found all the numbers above on government websites last night.

    And why do white Americans have twice the murder rate of all australians or British. I’m still waiting on that explanation…

    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.

    Hasn’t Britain always had a far lower homicide rate than the USA, even when they had effectively no gun-control laws?

  97. #97 ben
    February 12, 2008

    So here’s the question, SG, since you are so smart. Why do England and Australia have nearly half the non-gun homicide rate of the United States? Is it because the USA has loose gun control laws?

  98. #98 sod
    February 12, 2008

    If you look here on page 8, you’ll see which segment of the population is responsible for the vast majority of our homicides in Seattle.

    ben, everything that you said on this topic so far, has been shown to be wrong or or at best the result of a FLAWED comparison.

    this part is NO exception. page 8 of that presentation shows “Homicide Firearm Death Rates per 100,000″. you are pointing to VICTIMS, not killers!

    Racism: -noun 1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others

    so your claim that whites are less “prone to gun violence” and that we need to deal with the “black problem” instead of making gun laws IS racist.

  99. #99 ben
    February 12, 2008

    this part is NO exception. page 8 of that presentation shows “Homicide Firearm Death Rates per 100,000″. you are pointing to VICTIMS, not killers!

    True. However, if you look at data elsewhere, 90+% of the victims are murdered by someone of the same race. That, and that far more white people are murdered by black people than the opposite.

    so your claim that whites are less “prone to gun violence” and that we need to deal with the “black problem” instead of making gun laws IS racist.

    No it is not racist. The problem is not CAUSED by “inherent difference among the various human races“. It just happens to coincide with their race for other reasons, but is NOT inherent to their race. Gun laws won’t fix the problem, since the problem persists for crimes that do not include guns.

  100. #100 tom
    February 12, 2008

    For a supposedly scientific blog, I can’t believe the amount of comments on guns which are cemented in ignorance, prejudice, and blind hatred of guns. Add that to the idiotic “guns = penis” belief and the stooopid meter goes off scale.

    You people have been fed lies about gun control for a generation. The only example you are ever shown is the U.S. Never Switzerland, never Norway, never Czechoslovakia, Australia, UK, etc.

    You either believe a gun is an inaminate tool or it is a possessed object which can transfer it’s evil to the holder. So, which do you believe?