A few years ago, the National Research Council reviewed the evidence on firearms and crime and concluded:

There is no credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.

Paul Cassell says that he finds plausible a new paper by Moody and Marvell that reanalyzes the data and finds carry laws associated with less crime.

I do not find Marvel and Moody’s conclusions plausible and they are not supported
by the results of their regressions. The results are all over the
place. Some crimes are up, some are down. So they aggregate using a
cost for each crime. But then they it’s up in more states than it’s
down. So they take a population-weighted average, which even then is
only down if you take a long enough time frame. And even then, if you
exclude Florida, it’s up. I don’t think that their data allows any
conclusions to be drawn.

Ayres and Donohue’s reply has not been published yet, but you see a preprint here:

Armed with the weight of a single new regression for each of seven crime categories,
Carlisle Moody and Thomas Marvell (2008) conclude their remarkable paper, “The
Debate on Shall-Issue Laws,” stating that they are “confident” that “the evidence, such as
it is, seems to support the hypothesis that the shall-issue law is generally beneficial with
respect to its overall long run effect on crime” (292). The paper is remarkable because
the evidence Moody and Marvell present thoroughly undermines (yet again) the
conclusion that RTC laws “generally” have any beneficial effect on crime.

Moody and Marvell essentially make four points, which simultaneously grow in the level of both their ambition and error. … With an appropriate quality-adjustment,
however, most of the “supportive” studies on their list would be deemed to have little or
no current value. … Moody and Marvell turn their gaze to Ayres and Donohue (2003a), which in 119
pages arrayed an enormous amount of information raising doubts about the more guns,
less crime hypothesis. Moody and Marvell ignore virtually all of this discussion and
instead challenge a single table, … their own estimates powerfully undercut their
suggestion that RTC laws are generally beneficial. Moody and Marvell then labor to
refute their own findings by once again unwisely extrapolating linear trends beyond the
period of their data.

Ouch.

Comments

  1. #1 ben
    January 14, 2009

    There is no credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.

    I can live with that. It’s the only reasonable conclusion from any of the data.

    On the other hand, the “Assault Weapons” ban that wasn’t cannot be associated with any decrease in crime, and neither can the expiration of the ban five years ago be associated with any increase in crime.

  2. #2 nanny_govt_sucks
    January 14, 2009

    There is no credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.

    … for those carrying the concealed weapons?

    I’d like a little more information on their findings.

  3. #3 ben
    January 14, 2009

    ngs, interesting question. Don’t know about that, but I do know that Kleck’s recent work has shown that if one is subject to a violent crime, resistance with a gun is vastly superior than no resistance if one’s goal is to avoid injury.

    Criminology, Nov 2004 v42 i4 p861(49)
    Resisting crime: the effects of victim action on the outcomes of crimes. Jongyeon Tark; Gary Kleck.
    Author’s Abstract: COPYRIGHT 2004 American Society of Criminology

    Results indicated that self-protection in general, both forceful and non forceful, reduced the likelihood of property loss and injury, compared to nonresistance. A variety of mostly forceful tactics, including resistance with a gun, appeared to have the strongest effects in reducing the risk of injury, though some of the findings were unstable due to the small numbers of sample cases.

  4. #4 elspi
    January 14, 2009

    It is much worse than that.
    From the Intro:

    “Moody and Marvell now repeat our state-specific regression-based calculation
    using county data through the year 2000 (but with a slightly altered specification), which
    finds that RTC laws have increased crime costs by $3 billion (in total) for 23 of the 24
    jurisdictions they evaluated (Florida is the exception). Nonetheless, they conclude that
    RTC laws are “generally beneficial” because they claim that the Florida RTC laws
    (inexplicably) reduced crime costs by $31 billion. But the one paper to focus on the
    impact of Florida’s RTC law – of which Marvell was a coauthor! – found that the law
    had no impact on crime. If Marvell’s Florida paper is correct, then the Moody and
    Marvell findings are reconciled with Ayres and Donohue’s Table 14 showing RTC laws
    increase crime costs (Ayres and Donohue 2003a).
    We also show that estimating aggregate (rather than state-specific) effects of RTC
    laws using the same data and same specification of Moody and Marvell provides
    statistically significant evidence of increases in aggravated assault, and no evidence of
    crime decreases. Similarly, Ayres and Donohue (2003b) showed that, after we corrected
    some coding errors in John Lott’s data set used in Plassmann and Whitley (2003), their
    aggregated analysis on 1977-2000 county data also showed statistically significant
    evidence only of crime increases from RTC laws.”

    It looks like
    “There is no credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.”

    Needs to be changed to
    “There is credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns increase violent crime.”

    Talk about an own goal.

  5. #5 ben
    January 14, 2009

    Elspi, care to forward a hypothesis about how “right-to-carry” laws increase violent crime? Or how RTC laws increase “crime costs”? One thing is known, that concealed carry permit holders are much less likely to commit violent crimes than non-permit holders. Why does a criminal need a permit anyway? They carry guns whether they have a permit or not… they break the law, that’s why they’re called criminals.

    I see no reasonable mechanism for RTC laws to cause an increase in crime.

  6. #6 elspi
    January 14, 2009

    More digbats carrying guns: BAD

    Killing people isn’t supposed to be “push button” easy.

  7. #7 ben
    January 14, 2009

    More dingbats carrying guns: BAD

    I assume by “dingbat” you mean anyone legally carrying a gun with a CCW permit. In that case, you making an unsupported claim.

    Killing people isn’t supposed to be “push button” easy.

    When a person with a CCW permit and a pistol shoots a criminal engaged in violent crime, that is not itself a crime and has no impact on the rate or cost of violent crime. Please try harder.

  8. #8 ben
    January 14, 2009

    Er, actually it might lower the cost of violent crime since the criminal in question is now dead and cannot re-offend. Being dead means that the rest of us do not have to pay to house and feed the bastard.

  9. #9 elspi
    January 14, 2009

    How paranoid do you have to be to feel the need to carry a gun for protection?
    (very)

    How well suited to make life and death decisions is such an individual?
    (not at all)

    In answer to the following question posed in the real world:
    “Who brings a gun into Toysareus?” See above.

    In the Britain, police officers who want a gun are not allowed to have a gun.
    They seem to have a firm understanding of the dynamic involved.

  10. #10 Jack Lacton
    January 14, 2009

    The fact is that mass killings take place in locations where guns are banned.

    The data in the US has to be looked at demographically in order to make sense of it, as black on black murders during drug deals, for example, make up a large proportion of deaths.

    There’s lots of interesting info (regardless of your position on guns) at http://www.gunfacts.info/

    And by the way, guns make me nervous. I’m no fan of them. But if I’m in a shopping mall and some nut decides to choose it for his version of Custer’s Last Stand then I hope the guy next to me is carrying…

  11. #11 JThompson
    January 14, 2009

    @elspi: If someone is threatening my life, I feel I’m the most qualified person in the world to make a life or death decision. As for how paranoid you need to be, it depends on the situation. I’m not paranoid, I’m a realist. Businesses get robbed.

    I have a sign on the door of my business that the owner of the place keeps a firearm.
    The stores on either side of me have been robbed. 4 times in the last 3 months for one of them twice in that same time for the other. I’ve never been held up and I keep later hours than either of them.
    I also have more money passing through than either of those places, which would be obvious to anyone wanting to rob something. (My PC store vs a hair salon and a gas station.)
    Criminals love an unarmed victim. They don’t want to rob someone that’ll cut them dead in the floor the minute they pull a weapon.

    It’s not causing the overall crime rate to drop. They’ll just go next door and rob them. It sure keeps the rate of crime right here down. Though I dread actually having to shoot a human being (or any other living thing, for that matter), I will if pushed to it.

  12. #12 ben
    January 14, 2009

    How paranoid do you have to be to feel the need to carry a gun for protection? (very)

    Says you.

    How well suited to make life and death decisions is such an individual? (not at all)

    I disagree, obviously.

    In the Britain, police officers who want a gun are not allowed to have a gun. They seem to have a firm understanding of the dynamic involved.

    Now I’m not surprised. The British gave into the crooks and thugs long ago. Sorry, but here in America we prefer to not roll over and show the bad guys our bellies.

  13. #13 elspi
    January 14, 2009

    “But if I’m in a shopping mall and some nut decides to choose it for his version of Custer’s Last Stand then I hope the guy next to me is carrying…”

    Not much critical reasoning going on in that statement is there.

    Has the possibility that the “nut” is “the guy next to me” escaped you entirely?

  14. #14 elspi
    January 14, 2009

    “How paranoid do you have to be to feel the need to carry a gun for protection? (very)

    Says you.”

    And the statistics.
    Carrying a gun doesn’t make you safer.

    That we know.

  15. #15 Brian D
    January 14, 2009

    This is slightly off topic, but I’d rather post it here than in the other thread. In regards to Ben from the Pravda thread:

    Why don’t they just teach this stuff [proper driving technique and possibly gun safety] universally in schools? Nearly everyone is taught how to drive. And knowing how a gun works and how to use one is a step in the right direction for gun safety.

    This would be an interesting proposition that I would support long-term study on, but I find it more interesting that a self-admitted rightist is in favor of increasing universal education. Given the massive opposition from the right to proper science standards (something which can be objectively tested far faster than the long-term impact of universal vehicle and firearms training), I’m skeptical that such a measure could be accomplished appropriately.

    Not so! In Washington State…

    My original sentence was missing a “that”; I was suggesting a hypothetical rather than a statement of what currently exists. (Note that this would imply an increase in the standards for CCW, rather than a decrease in hunting standards.) The reason I rank CCW above hunting relates to crime rather than weapon power.

    Also not true! People who carry for self-defense usually practice…

    A fair point I had left out of the earlier discussion, in part because (as I admitted) I’m not motivated on gun issues either way. However, if one includes firing ranges in the omissions I listed (along with military and law enforcement) and adds two small rules to firing range operations (specifically, no external ammo allowed, and all internal ammo purchased is accounted for, either spent or returned upon exit), and this problem essentially disappears while my point holds. (I suppose I should have said “…folk carrying for self-defense are unlikely to fire at people often anyway…” to express the concern clearer.)

    Brian, I appreciate your position on firearms rights. It is a much better starting point than many.

    To express it a bit clearer, I don’t contest you owning, carrying or even firing a weapon, although I do contest it if such operation places others at risk (exception: Self-defense), and thus look for assurances you are responsible enough to keep it that way.

    This explains the parallel to driver’s licensing I keep mentioning — the models are similar, although with a few tweaks, obviously; you don’t need a license to own a vehicle, just to operate it. The same, essentially, is true of guns, except it’s somewhat easier and faster to get a gun from “carried” to “putting others at risk” (the whole “push-button kill” thing at work), and it’s easier to conceal a gun, thus requiring a bit more front-end screening (which doesn’t have to be all that heavy, just precisely targeted. Consider a background check / security clearance such as what’s needed to work in certain jobs, or a test like Barton Paul Levinson brought up in the other thread — make sure the guy isn’t nuts and doesn’t have a violent history.). I’m not entirely certain about how to scale this through to more deadly weapons that should probably be only available to law enforcement and military, but as I’ve said before, I’m just not motivated enough to do serious work on this.

    The increase in ammunition costs that I proposed parallels an increase in gasoline costs: both drive up the cost of operation and encourage either smarter use or a switch to a cheaper altenative (under this analogy, nonlethal but effective stopping weapons.). Just as under a carbon-pricing system, such alternatives would be subject to less control and/or taxation. This fits under the “tax what you don’t want and don’t tax what you do want” paradigm (which, by the way, means there *are* taxes that my left-leaning mind doesn’t like: taxing things we *do* want is an inferior outcome): I think it’s safe to say both you and I want safety for ourselves and those we are responsible for. (As an admitted gun NON-nut, I don’t know as much about current nonlethal technology, but I do know any technology can see improvement, and that what I propose would create an incredible market incentive for private-sector R&D in the field. Would you use a nonlethal weapon that was as effective (or more) at self-defense as whatever you’re carrying now? What about the gun equivalent of a plug-in hybrid that could fire both types of rounds?)

    Note: I say all this despite being very strongly “left”. You’ll note that of all of what I’m proposing here, the strongest control is an economic one (a tax on lethal ammunition raising its cost substantially), while attempting to keep interference on social liberties to a minimum (beyond public safety standards akin to driver’s licensing; I’m sure we can agree that keeping one person’s liberties from infringing upon another’s is a legitimate government function). This isn’t the same as an authoritarian ban: It uses economic controls and the resulting market forces to attempt to protect social liberties. This, at its core, is very typical of the views of most social democrats (“left-leaning libertarians” or the lower-left of the Political Compass grid) that I know personally (although I will preface this, again, with “I am not motivated enough on gun issues to have heavily inquired on this particular issue” and the whole personal-experience-isn’t-rigorous line.). You can’t think on just one spectrum and capture this viewpoint. I hope that this, at least, illustrates to you the false dichotomy of traditional left/right thinking, and encourages you to think a bit differently about those of us who showed up in the lower left in the other thread.

  16. #16 Dr Dave
    January 14, 2009

    Ben,

    The UK has a population of 60 million people. The number of people killed by guns in the UK in 2005 was 50. In the same year, the number killed by guns in the USA (population 303 million) was 12,352 (homicides alone), or 30,694 if suicides and intentional deaths are included. For goodness sake, 3,027 children were killed by guns in the USA.

    On average more children are killed each week by guns in the USA than adults are killed by guns each year in the UK

    The murder rate in the UK is about 1.1 per 100,000 people. The murder rate for the USA is 5.4 per 100,000 people. That is about five times higher.

    For you to claim that “The British gave into the crooks and thugs long ago” is frankly pathetic given the above.

  17. #17 Warren
    January 14, 2009

    elspi:

    More digbats carrying guns: BAD

    Killing people isn’t supposed to be “push button” easy.

    This does not constitute an argument; it’s merely rhetoric.

    How paranoid do you have to be to feel the need to carry a gun for protection? (very)

    Really. So a small-statured man or woman, for instance, living in a known high-crime area, is paranoid for wanting to be able to defend him/herself?

    I suppose having a deadbolt on my door would also qualify me as being paranoid. Or wearing a safety belt while driving, or a helmet when I’m on a bike?

    You’ve created a value judgment of your own here, and suggested that it applies to all others in all situations. Surely you can see that’s not a valid argument either.

    How well suited to make life and death decisions is such an individual? (not at all)

    And yet you seem to feel you are qualified yourself to make implied life-or-death decisions for others by deciding who is and who is not qualified to carry self-defense weaponry. Who is possessed of hubris here?

    In answer to the following question posed in the real world: “Who brings a gun into Toysareus?” See above.

    Yes, Toys ‘R’ Us is certainly an entirely safe place to be. No crimes of any kind are ever committed there.

    (Even if the above were true, it would not constitute an argument against arming in self-defense.)

    In the Britain, police officers who want a gun are not allowed to have a gun. They seem to have a firm understanding of the dynamic involved.

    In Britain, increasing instances of knife crime is one of the greatest problems facing the citizenry and police today. Isn’t it nice that by taking away firearms they’ve made the island nation safer?

    There is no such thing as a guaranteed-safe weapon. That’s because there is no such thing as a guaranteed-harmless or -sane human. Even if all technology came to an end today, even if all we had left were just our hands and feet, there would still be people who would use those limbs as weapons.

    Would you then decry those who have been trained in martial arts as being nuts? Would they then become your pariahs?

    Given the indisputable truth that there are dangerous, sick individuals out there, I prefer the right to be armed as I feel necessary to defend myself as I see fit. I can assure you that I am not the dangerous one, or the one you need to look out for.

    It is not your place to tell me how to protect my life or wellbeing, and by extension, it is not your place to dictate to others either.

    Certainly not based on the inane and frankly irrational spew you’ve generated to this point.

  18. #18 Matt Springer
    January 14, 2009

    “The murder rate in the UK is about 1.1 per 100,000 people. The murder rate for the USA is 5.4 per 100,000 people. That is about five times higher.”

    The trend lines are changing that at a fairly rapid clip. Nonetheless, it’s not a fair comparison anyway. England is an old country that’s had plenty of time to settle down into a stable culture and soceity. The US is a new country which was settled by nutty pioneers, which had legal segregation until half a century ago, and has a failing third-world disaster of a country on its porous southern border. There’s a long way yet to be traveled before it’s comparing apples to apples.

    It is, however, worth pointing out that if every person in the US committed crimes at the rate concealed carry permit holders do, the US actually would have a much lower crime rate than England.

  19. #19 John
    January 14, 2009

    The problem that I see with a lot of CCW related research is that “concealed” part of CCW. Its hard to imagine that concealed weapons can reduce crime, because in most cases, crimes are pretty random. The chances of you robbing a CCW holder depend on the area and the amount of CCW holders in a state. So i’m not sure how much you can “prevent” a crime by having something that makes someone indistinguishable from any other person.

    There’s also the fact that a large number of people are completely ignorant of the fact that concealed carry is allowed. What’s even more stunning is the amount of people who are unaware that many states have legal open carry. If law abiding people don’t know they have a right to carry a firearm to protect themselves, do the criminals know that the people they are about to rob might be armed?

    The one thing that was pointed out in a study above, however, is that the people who are carrying and do defend themselves fare better than those who don’t. While i don’t carry often, i do have a CCW permit in my state, and while WA has had its share of morons with CCW incidents (a shooting at Seattle Center where someone tried to disarm a (barely legitimate) CCW holder and some people were injured), it has had more instances of people defending themselves (an elderly man outside of westlake center defending himself from a crackhead)

    I’d like to see statistics about how many people who are openly carrying a holstered firearm are victims of a crime. I’d say that number is pretty low.

  20. #20 Grendel
    January 14, 2009

    “England is an old country that’s had plenty of time to settle down into a stable culture and soceity. The US is a new country which was settled by nutty pioneers, which had legal segregation until half a century ago, and has a failing third-world disaster of a country on its porous southern border.”

    And yet we so often hear criticism of Britain as ‘unstable’ and often this is linked to high levels of immigration.

    Making the claim that the US is a ‘new country’ is ridiculous and the addition of allusions to segregation and Mexico actually don’t contribute to your argument. You make the United States sound like the Wild West rather than the pre-eminent political and military power that it is.

  21. #21 ben
    January 14, 2009

    It is, however, worth pointing out that if every person in the US committed crimes at the rate concealed carry permit holders do, the US actually would have a much lower crime rate than England.

    Bingo.

    The murder rate in the UK is about 1.1 per 100,000 people. The murder rate for the USA is 5.4 per 100,000 people. That is about five times higher.

    In 1997 the firearm homicide rate in the USA for white people was 2.7 / 100,000. For black people it was over 20 / 100,000. The UK is over 92% Caucasian, while the USA is about 80% Caucasian. There is a problem here has nothing to do with guns. And don’t get your nipples in a twist thinking that I think black people are prone to violence because of their genetics. That would be a crock of shit.

    For goodness sake, 3,027 children were killed by guns in the USA.

    Since when, 1892? That number, if it is even correct, is mostly made up of inner-city gang-bangers.

  22. #22 luminous beauty
    January 14, 2009

    ben,

    Got stats?

    http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/guns.htm

    True, black kids are more likely to kill each other, white kids more likely to kill themselves.

  23. #23 elspi
    January 14, 2009

    “I suppose having a deadbolt on my door would also qualify me as being paranoid. Or wearing a safety belt while driving, or a helmet when I’m on a bike?”

    Use numbers you TWIT.
    Are you safer wearing a seat belt. YES
    Are you safer wearing a helmet YES
    Are you safer carrying a loaded gun NO

    End of story.

    If you don’t know that carry a loaded gun is dangerous then you shouldn’t be allowed to
    carry a loaded gun. What sort of hunter’s safety course did YOU TAKE?????

  24. #24 ben
    January 14, 2009

    Are you safer carrying a loaded gun NO

    Are you less safe? NO.

    If you don’t know that carry a loaded gun is dangerous then you shouldn’t be allowed to carry a loaded gun.

    Yes, carrying a loaded gun is dangerous. Riding a bike is dangerous. Living in a house is dangerous. Walking down the road is dangerous. Eating food is dangerous. LIFE is dangerous.

    In terms of accidental death, guns are very far down on the list of dangerous things that people do.

    http://guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvacci.html

  25. #25 John
    January 14, 2009

    > If you don’t know that carry a loaded gun is dangerous then
    > you shouldn’t be allowed to carry a loaded gun. What sort
    > of hunter’s safety course did YOU TAKE?????

    Dangerous relative to what? Carrying a firearm correctly is no more dangerous than carrying a hammer on your belt. The gun doesn’t do anything by itself, simply possessing it does not make anything more dangerous. Too many people have no clue about guns and wouldn’t know rules 1-4 from a hole in the ground, so they freak out at the mere sight of a picture or mention of a firearm.

    Carrying incorrectly, “Plaxico” style, is much more dangerous, but then he was breaking all kinds of laws and almost every firearm safety rule. And because of that, he is one more “gun violence” statistic that will be used against the people who are doing everything the correct way.

  26. #26 bi -- IJI
    January 14, 2009

    > And because of that, he is one more “gun violence” statistic that will be used against the people who are doing everything the correct way.

    And therefore, since the people who use guns correctly are being unfairly victimized like Galileo was by the Inquisition, therefore we should loosen the gun laws to put guns into hands of people who’ll do everything incorrectly! Woohoo!

    And from the Pravda thread, ngs again:

    > > We should deny gun licenses to people with dangerous mental illnesses and/or a history of criminal violence.

    > … or to the “degenerate races”, perhaps?

    Ooh, Denying guns to people with a history of criminal violence is … the swastika of Liberal Fascism.

  27. #27 Eli Rabett
    January 14, 2009

    John, you walk around with a nail gun you get stapled.

  28. #28 Tim Lambert
    January 14, 2009

    ben, you have to be careful about interpreting the NCVS data on resistance and injury. Gun use is associated with lower injury rates, but is that because it protects you from injury or because it easier to deploy a gun if you are not injured?
    See [my earlier posts](http://timlambert.org/category/lott/safest-means/) on this topic.

  29. #29 ben
    January 14, 2009

    Good question, Tim. Your earlier post is quite a bit older than Kleck’s new results. IIRC, earlier analysis showed that resistance wasn’t a good idea because the data indicated that those who resisted were more likely to be injured. A closer inspection of the data found that many times the injury occurred first and the resistance occurred afterward, so resistance alone was not a good indicator.

    When Kleck controlled for resistance occurring before or after the injury, he found that resistance was a good idea, and especially that resistance with a firearm was among the best responses to violent or potentially violent crime. Least that’s how I read his summary. I’m not an expert on this kind of statistical analysis so I don’t have a strong ability to critique his work.

  30. #30 Thomas M.
    January 14, 2009

    “And therefore, since the people who use guns correctly are being unfairly victimized like Galileo was by the Inquisition, therefore we should loosen the gun laws to put guns into hands of people who’ll do everything incorrectly! Woohoo!”

    This is ridiculous. You’ve got it backwards. We’ve seen time and time again that the people who do everything correctly do NOT give a shit about what the gun laws are. All tightening these laws does is see to it that more people who do know how to use one correctly and don’t have one while those who will use it incorrectly…still have them.

    As for the England vs. US comparison: Assuming we’re going to get into this kind of argument we need to compare other countries that have less strict gun laws (say, Spain) to England rather than making a single country-to-country comparison. More importantly, we need to know whether violent crime has increased or decreased in a given country since the ban occurred.

  31. #31 Burrow Owl
    January 15, 2009

    Ahhh….hoplophobia continues to rear its ugly head.

    Mere mention of handguns, firearms, so-called ‘assault weapons’, etc. seems to make many otherwise reasonable people abandon all reason.

    Ah, well. Such is the power of propaganda.

    Firearms are nothing more than inanimate mechanical devices.

    They have no will of their own- and, like any tool, the use that they are put to depends upon the will of the PERSON using the tool.

  32. #32 bi -- IJI
    January 15, 2009

    > We’ve seen time and time again

    No, you’ve simply shouted time and time again that this is true.

    Burrow Owl:

    > They have no will of their own- and, like any tool, the use that they are put to depends upon the will of the PERSON using the tool.

    I don’t know. What’s the standard use of a gun? When you buy a gun, do you normally buy it in the expectation that you’ll use it to create works of art? Or to cook a delicious meal? Or to tune your guitar?

  33. #33 Dr Dave
    January 15, 2009

    Ben, #21: I said: “For goodness sake, 3,027 children were killed by guns in the USA.” to which you replied “Since when, 1892?”

    Thanks for demonstrating so ably your lack of a grip on reality. No, that is not the number since 1892, it is the number in 2005 alone. In comparison, the number of children killed each year by guns in the UK is about 20.

    Do you have even the faintest link to the real world on any of the issues upon which you post?

  34. #34 Veltyen
    January 15, 2009

    Dr Dave at #33
    “No, that is not the number since 1892, it is the number in 2005 alone.”

    Problematically that number (about 3000) includes children well past the age that would be tried as an adult in the USA (What is that now, 8? :-) ) with a majority (about 2000) being between 15 and 19 years old.

    So a better number would be the remainder. 1000 per year (children under the age of 15) is still an atrocious number. Controlled for population that would still be about 200/year in the UK, a rate about 10 times higher.

  35. #35 Cannonball Jones
    January 15, 2009

    Are you yanks still debating this? The rest of us seem to have it figured out, fewer guns means less chance of being shot by a gun. Yeah, we still have violent crime, but you’re less likely to be attacked by a knife or similar (it’s up close and personal) and less likely to die from such an attack. With a gun it’s just a case of shoot and run. Massive damage and you may never see the victim’s face.

  36. #36 Dunc
    January 15, 2009

    I have a completely genuine, serious question for the CCW advocates:

    Suppose I’m a CCW permit holder, and I’m carrying. I stop by a bar after a 12 hour shift, have a beer or two, but I’m still well under the legal driving limit. As I go out into the car park, I notice that the street lights have failed. It’s pretty damn dark. As I’m approaching my car, I notice a (mexican / black youth / feral hoodie / fear stereotype of choice) coming towards me, gesticulating with his left hand, his right hand in his jacket pocket, shouting something unintelligible. I’m tired and jumpy, so this really puts me on edge. I draw my concealed weapon, and warn him to stay back. He shouts something else, then pulls his right hand from his pocket. I see a gun in his hand, so I fire, hitting him in the chest. When the bar owner comes out with a flashlight, I realise to my horror that it wasn’t a gun in his hand at all – it was a mobile phone. As my tired brain replays the events, I also realise that his unintelligible shouting was actually him asking directions in a heavy foreign accent. He dies on the way to hospital.

    Have I committed a crime?

  37. #37 AM
    January 15, 2009

    “England is an old country that’s had plenty of time to settle down into a stable culture and soceity. The US is a new country which was settled by nutty pioneers, which had legal segregation until half a century ago, and has a failing third-world disaster of a country on its porous southern border.”

    Germany is not an old stable country.

    Quick german history review:

    5 regime changes in the last 150 years: (Unification 1871, Weimar Republic 1919, Nazi Regime 1933, Separated Germanies 1945, Unified Germany 1990);
    2 major wars (WWI and WWII, obviously) started and lost in the last 100 years
    1 quite succesful genocide in the last 70 years
    1 merging of a communist and a capitalist economy in the last 20 years
    Migration status: heavy immigrant influx throughout history from southern Europe, Turkey, Eastern Europe.

    Gun crime rates: 794 killed/82M population (2005) – fairly stable.
    Gun laws: very restrictive

    Something similar can be said for Italy, Spain, Poland, France, etc. Gun laws and crime rates do vary, but they are nowhere near the US levels.

    So, pretty please, stop the “we are a young nation with a violent past” gambit already. It is just ridiculous.

  38. #38 David Irving (no relation)
    January 15, 2009

    AM @ 37 – Australia is an even younger nation than the US (we became a nation in 1901), with a similarly violent past, although we didn’t have a revolution or a civil war. However, like the Americans, we have pretty much exterminated the more troublesome of our indigenous people. Our gun crime rate is more like Germany’s than America’s.

    Just so everyone knows exactly where I stand, I’m pretty bolshie, I like to shoot (at targets and rabbits (not Eli, of course)), and I own both handguns and rifles. I have very little patience with the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” idiots. Oh, and I spent 26 years in the army and hence have a healthy respect for firearms. I really don’t think, in a civil society, that any of us need to have a BFG under our shirts to feel safe.

  39. #39 NJ
    January 15, 2009

    Carrying a firearm correctly is no more dangerous than carrying a hammer on your belt.

    Or not.

  40. #40 sod
    January 15, 2009

    no need to have any discussion on this. all the statistics and facts contradict the gun lobby.

    this is the one link you want to look at:

    http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/guns.htm

    this is from the article about teaching gun safety to kids:

    A total of 53% of the pairs played with the gun, and there was no difference in gun-play behavior between those children who did and did not receive the intervention.

    it is very difficult to prevent a crime with a concealed gun. if you are the victim, it is quite unclear whether you ll be able to pull it and whether it will escalate the situation.
    if you are helping others, you produce a very confusing situation for other helpers and the police.

    on the other hand, carrying a loaded gun around will alter your behaviour significantly. (most people who ever did will have noticed this)
    and it takes unbelievable discipline to keep such a gun safe all the time.

  41. #41 (((Billy))) The Atheist
    January 15, 2009

    #11 said, “If someone is threatening my life, I feel I’m the most qualified person in the world to make a life or death decision.

    The question then becomes, “If I am carrying a gun, how much more likely am I to percieve an innocent action as a life-threatening action requiring the use of the gun?”

  42. #42 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 15, 2009

    I’m an advocate of banning military weapons for civilian use and licensing privately held firearms. That being said, I do think concealed carry, or unconcealed for that matter, should be a civil right, to be lost only if you’ve shown you deserve to lose it. You do deserve the right to defend your own life with the best tools available. If you’re surrounded by a group of criminals intent on robbing or raping you, and you have a phone, and police are nearby, it will still take them several minutes to get to the scene. You are ON the scene and you may have run out of time. Yes, people should be allowed to own, and carry, firearms for personal or home protection.

  43. #43 Mark Schaffer
    January 15, 2009

    Hello Mr. Levenson,

    I have to ask how likely it is you find yourself “surrounded by a group of criminals”? My understanding is that in the vast majority of cases by the time a victim realizes what is going on it is too late to react. I once had a co-worker tell me that he could kill a knife wielding perp at a safe distance, as if such a person would pull a knife at a distance and in such a way that my co-worker could react.
    The best way to avoid crime is to not put yourself in situations where it is more likely you will be a victim. Also, there is no shame in running if at possible.

  44. #44 Robin Levett
    January 15, 2009

    @ben #5:

    I see no reasonable mechanism for RTC laws to cause an increase in [violent] crime.

    (Addition in square brackets to clarify that the point with which you were dealing specified violent crime).

    You have no imagination. How about: the baddies who don’t know that concealed carry is permitted will still commit their crimes at the same rate. Those who do know it will (i) ensure they themselves carry when they commit crimes and (ii) will carry more powerful weapons in case they run across someone who is carrying and (iii) will shoot more readily to avoid getting beaten to the draw by someone who is carrying.

    Your (and others’) points on comparison between US and UK crime are absurd, and generally dealt with by others. One point hasn’t; the different racial balances. You disavow any reliance upon genetics, but I can’t see what else you can be relying on. Be that as it may – even assuming that gun crime rate is predicted by skin colour, and that your figures are correct, accounting for that you shift the UK gun death rate up by 50%. That’s 1.65 per 100k as against 5.4.

  45. #45 Carl
    January 15, 2009

    Wow. Post #9 is so full of crap, misstatements and faulty reasoning, I don’t even know where to start. Don’t let facts get in your way, elspi.

  46. #46 sammy
    January 15, 2009

    Dunc:
    Have I committed a crime?

    Yes. Concealed carry laws forbid drinking alcohol, or even being in an establishment where alcohol is served (depending on state laws).

  47. #47 ben
    January 15, 2009

    #36:
    Suppose I’m a CCW permit holder, and I’m carrying. I stop by a bar after a 12 hour shift, have a beer or two…

    Not legal in Washington State where I live. Not sure about other states. But OK, for the sake of argument…

    Have I committed a crime?

    That’s up to the jury to decide. In most states the law says that for self-defense to apply, at a minimum, if a “reasonable person” would have concluded that their life or the life of someone else was in imminent danger in the same situation.

    #39:

    The guy on the pot wasn’t carrying “correctly.”

    #40:

    I’ve seen those bogus “studies.” They spend 20 minutes telling kids that if they see a real gun (does a kid have any way of knowing what a real one looks like if you don’t show one to them and let them handle it?) not to touch it, and to tell a grown up. Then they hide a REAL FUCKING GUN in a box of kids toys and are shocked when the kids play with it. Brilliant. So the kids, who have never held a real gun and don’t know what it is like, find a gun-like-thing in the toy box and then play with it. Hooray for science!

    My kids have both handled my firearms under my direct supervision. They know they can see/handle them any time they like if they just ask first. They have about the same fascination with firearms as most kids do with a spoon and bowl. As a test I’ve even taken the barrel and firing pin out of one of my pistols and left it on the kitchen table to see what the kids would do with it. They don’t do anything. And then they tell me that I left my gun on the table.

    #41:

    The question then becomes, “If I am carrying a gun, how much more likely am I to perceive an innocent action as a life-threatening action requiring the use of the gun?”

    Good question, except I’d have worded it as “am I more likely…”. I don’t know. I know that I carry a gun all the time and have yet to perceive any action, innocent or otherwise, as life threatening. I am much more aware of my surroundings though, mostly because I want to avoid any situation in which I’d ever have to use the gun that I am carrying.

    #44

    How about: the baddies who don’t know that concealed carry is permitted will still commit their crimes at the same rate. Those who do know it will (i) ensure they themselves carry when they commit crimes and (ii) will carry more powerful weapons in case they run across someone who is carrying and (iii) will shoot more readily to avoid getting beaten to the draw by someone who is carrying.

    These are not mechanisms by which the crime rate will increase.

    You disavow any reliance upon genetics, but I can’t see what else you can be relying on.

    The difference is there and cannot be ignored. Are you saying that it must be based on genetics? They are the figures provided by the FBI.

    When you restrict the stats to Caucasians only, our homicide rate is lower than Finland’s, and about the same as Italy. As for Finland, they have a much lower firearm homicide rate than we do, which means that they are finding ways to murder each other without firearms at a pretty drastic rate. Why is that?

  48. #48 David Marjanovi?
    January 15, 2009

    As I go out into the car park, I notice that the street lights have failed.

    What, all at once?

  49. #49 ben
    January 15, 2009

    #15:

    This would be an interesting proposition that I would support long-term study on, but I find it more interesting that a self-admitted rightist is in favor of increasing universal education.

    As long as it’s already there, then all I’m adding is a new required subject. In the USA the First Amendment protects, among other things, freedom of speech and the press. How are those rights to be exercised if one cannot read/write. Likewise, for the right protected by the Second Amendment.

    Given the massive opposition from the right to proper science standards (something which can be objectively tested far faster than the long-term impact of universal vehicle and firearms training), I’m skeptical that such a measure could be accomplished appropriately.

    Yes, some on the right are pathetic on this subject. From what I remember of high school, in both the US and Canada, most students don’t give a rats-ass about science anyway.

  50. #50 Dunc
    January 15, 2009

    OK, scratch the visit to a bar then. Pick some other establishment with a poorly-lit car park and some other common form of mild cognitive impairment. Drinking too much coffee, for example.

    In most states the law says that for self-defense to apply, at a minimum, if a “reasonable person” would have concluded that their life or the life of someone else was in imminent danger in the same situation.

    Well, in my example, the situation as perceived at the time was specifically constructed to be one in which a reasonable person would conclude that their life was in danger. The point was that such perceptions are frequently unreliable, and can easily be influenced by cognitive biases.

    But anyway, I believe you have answered my question: you can blow a completely innocent person away without committing any crime.

  51. #51 ben
    January 15, 2009

    Well, in my example, the situation as perceived at the time was specifically constructed to be one in which a reasonable person would conclude that their life was in danger.

    Perhaps. The mere perception of the drawing of a gun doesn’t necessarily constitute a threat of deadly force. The police don’t shoot unless the gun is pointed at them.

    As long as we’re talking unlikely scenarios, suppose you’re in a dark parking lot, some guy of any ethnicity is walking toward you from about 20 meters away and saying nothing. You’re a woman, you’re all alone. You get to your car and can’t find your keys. The guy is still walking toward you. You find you keys and try to get the car started. Then you feel his hand over your mouth…

    Would you wish that you’d had a gun or no gun?

    The point was that such perceptions are frequently unreliable, and can easily be influenced by cognitive biases.

    Tell that to the police, they inadvertently shoot innocent people often enough. Which is one of the reasons I’m not gung-ho when carrying a weapon: I neither want to shoot the wrong person, nor do I want to be mistakenly shot. Just because a situation is agitated and I see a guy with a gun doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy. No shooting if the situation is not clear.

  52. #52 hockey bob
    January 15, 2009

    Sorry for barging in like this – I’m an interloper from Pharyngula – but I saw the topic on the most active list there, and decided to set aside my atheistic pursuits for a moment, and see what kind of FUD was being posted here; I was not disappointed in the least. Elspi, you’ve got the anti talking points down to a science – congrats! It’s still a huge helping of epic fail, but at least you’re a success at it.

    Here’s my take on it; in Minnesota, here’s what you have to do to get a carry permit (note that it it NOT a concealed permit – you can, once you have completed the requirements, carry in the open, though it isn’t recommended);

    1)Take a training course in the fundamentals of firearms carry where you live…

    1a)what the laws are

    1b)when you are justified in displaying your weapon (and when you aren’t)

    1c)when you are justified in discharging your weapon (and again, when you aren’t)

    1d)what you will undergo with regards to law enforcement if 1b or 1c occur

    (The instructor stated in class that knowing when NOT to shoot is just as important as knowing when you CAN shoot.)

    2)Firearms safety training, consisting of basic fundamentals (treating EVERY gun as if it were loaded, safe barrel control at all times, etc.)

    3)Actual handgun proficiency (the true definition of “gun control” = the ability to hit your target!)

    4)Firing under duress – no, the instructor doesn’t shoot back! You are timed for shooting 5 shots, removing the clip, inserting a second clip, and firing 5 more shots; this is to see how your accuracy can suffer in a stressful situation. (Actual tests are left to the instructor’s discretion.)

    If you do not demonstrate sufficient proficiency in these areas, you will NOT get your permit. In addition, the $100 fee (in Ramsey Co., MN) that you pay to the Sheriff Dept. initiates a thorough background check that covers your criminal history, mental health history, and domestic violence history (or lack of any of the above, preferably!); if any of these show that you are disqualified, you again will not be permitted to carry a handgun legally.

    Now, having said all that, the point made earlier up the thread still holds true – no one can make the decision as to who can protect myself or my family better than me. I have chosen to do exactly that, within the full and legal letter of the law, and no one has the right to deny me this. If you fear guns, no one is forcing you to buy them. In addition, if you fear MY gun, it’s very simple – simply refrain from robbing/assaulting me or my family, and you’ll never even know I have one.

    It’s not about being paranoid – it’s about being prepared. I have 2 fire extinguishers, and 2 smoke detectors as well’ I’m prepared there as well. I don’t anticipate pulling the extinguishers out unless I know I’m going to need them – the same applies to my pistol.

  53. #53 Warren
    January 15, 2009

    elspi:

    “I suppose having a deadbolt on my door would also qualify me as being paranoid. Or wearing a safety belt while driving, or a helmet when I’m on a bike?”

    Use numbers you TWIT.

    Such as the ones you’ve posted?

    Oh, wait, you haven’t posted anything but rhetoric — and now insults.

    What’s the matter, reality getting you down?

    Are you safer wearing a seat belt. YES Are you safer wearing a helmet YES Are you safer carrying a loaded gun NO

    End of story.

    Cite your sources, please. I don’t think you’re able to. Thus far, all you’ve managed to produce is opinion unreferenced by anything like objectivity.

    If you don’t know that carry a loaded gun is dangerous then you shouldn’t be allowed to carry a loaded gun. What sort of hunter’s safety course did YOU TAKE?????

    I can’t say for certain where you’re pulling all of this from, but based on the smell I have a shrewd guess.

    Carrying any potential weapon is not necessarily more or less dangerous than not doing so. As noted by others, the weapon itself doesn’t do anything. It is an object, not a volitional or moral agent.

    Furthermore, it takes a seriously disturbing perspective to equate carrying a firearm for self-defense with hunting. I certainly do not imagine myself to be on the prowl for game when I’m armed. Carrying a pistol for self-defense purposes is in no way like stalking prey.

    While you might want to tar me or others as being gun nuts, it’s pretty clear who the irrational party in this dialogue has been.

    Your case would greatly benefit by your arguing from facts rather than anger. Until you’re capable of doing so, though, I’m done with you. This has been a consummate waste of time and bandwidth.

  54. #54 Science Avenger
    January 15, 2009

    It never ceases to amaze me how the topic of guns can turn otherwise intelligent people into gibbering idiots destined for an “F” in their statistical analysis class. If you look at the gun violence data, and I have, what is obvious is the data is heavily skewed towards certain demographic groups: young males, and the psychologically unhealthy (Cho anyone?). Suicides make up about half the gun deaths in the US, whereas accidental deaths are extraordinarily rare. The notion that we need to be worried about the deaths of “children” is pure political posturing, since the only way one can get any kind of significance with that data is to expand the category “children” to include young adults (15-19). The deaths of small children is too small to be relevant re social policy..

    The agenda here is (or should be) to reduce murders, not “gun deaths”, and not even deaths. Talk of “gun deaths” reveals either dishonesty, or collosal ignorance. A cop shooting a career criminal is a gun death, but that’s arguably a good thing. Obviously if a country has no guns, they will have no gun deaths. So what? If the death rate remains stable, who cares? Death is death, whether it be by knife, gun, or pain killers.

    The overwhelming majority of gun deaths occur because the person firing the weapon intends those its pointed at to die. Guns are not magic talismans that cause weilders to suddenly become irresponsible and murderous. Thus, while 50-year-old males no doubt have more guns than do 20-year-old males, their rate of murder is lower by an order of magnitude. It’s the psychology of the gun-weilder, not the gun itself, that determines whether a murder occurs. Get the guns out of the hands of people ill-equipped to use them, and watch the gun murder stats plummet, regardless of how many retirees are carrying.

    FYI, I’m far from a gun lover, own only one and it was a gift. However, I’ve lived around and with enough responsible people that had a lot of guns to know that most of the rhetoric the anti-gun side spews is completely disconnected from reality, and as an actuary I am appalled at the statistical mess their arguments are.

  55. #55 sod
    January 15, 2009

    I’ve seen those bogus “studies.” They spend 20 minutes telling kids that if they see a real gun (does a kid have any way of knowing what a real one looks like if you don’t show one to them and let them handle it?) not to touch it, and to tell a grown up. Then they hide a REAL FUCKING GUN in a box of kids toys and are shocked when the kids play with it. Brilliant. So the kids, who have never held a real gun and don’t know what it is like, find a gun-like-thing in the toy box and then play with it. Hooray for science!

    look ben, for a start you could read the article summary:

    In a randomized control study, 34 children aged 4 to 7 years participated in a WEEK-LONG firearm safety program

    My kids have both handled my firearms under my direct supervision. They know they can see/handle them any time they like if they just ask first. They have about the same fascination with firearms as most kids do with a spoon and bowl. As a test I’ve even taken the barrel and firing pin out of one of my pistols and left it on the kitchen table to see what the kids would do with it. They don’t do anything. And then they tell me that I left my gun on the table.

    from the same study:

    Interview data revealed significant discrepancies in parent and child reports of parental gun ownership and INACCURATE PARENTAL PREDICTIONS of their children’s interest in guns.

    sorry ben, but given the choice between your anecdotal evidence and a scientific study, i chose science. funny, eh?

  56. #56 Warren
    January 15, 2009

    hockey bob, what you described is similar to what’s required for a CCW permit in Arizona.

    Dunc, arguing hypotheticals won’t accomplish much, since anyone can posit any hypothetical situation and produce any outcome desired from it. So let’s take a look at some real-world numbers.

    Your concern seems to be that innocents can be killed by firearms. That’s certainly true. It’s also certainly true that innocents are victims of crime. Putting those emotionally-loaded issues aside, here are some stats.

    Violent crimes, year 2001

    Number of rapes: 83,620. Robberies with injury: 241,470.
    Assault with injury: 391,530.

    That’s nearly 720,000 crimes of personal violence in 2001. (The numbers for 06 are up by 100K, but the last year I could find stats for gun violence was 2001 and I wanted to compare the same year’s figures.)

    Source: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cvusst.htm

    Firearm deaths, year 2001

    Number of fatal accidental shootings: 802. Number of fatal legal-intervention shootings: 323. Number of fatal “undetermined” shootings: 231.

    Suicide for that year by firearm was nearly 17,000 instances; homicide was nearly 12,000.

    Source: http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html

    The point is that while it is hypothetically possible for an innocent to be shot accidentally (or deliberately by someone in fear of his/her safety), and while it is indisputable that firearm-related crimes do occur, there were about 60 times more violent crimes committed than gun-related homicides, and about 895 times more violent crimes than accidental fatal shootings in the year 2001.

    Without shifting to hypotheticals, then, it seems clear that firearm users on the whole are considerably less dangerous than rapists, muggers and assailants combined, and that any random individual’s likelihood of being accidentally shot is 1/895th of that same person’s likelihood of being the victim of violent crime (which is itself about 0.2 percent).

    Broadly speaking, it’s safer to have a firearm in one’s possession (or to be near someone with a firearm in his/her possession) than it is to live in an urban environment. How much safer is hard to quantify and probably at least partially subjective, but the numbers seem to indicate pretty clearly that firearms are not a priori dangerous, and that possession of one is not a guaranteed shooting statistic. (Actually it seems firearms are more dangerous to their possessors than others, in the case of suicides vs. homicides.)

    Does this eliminate the likelihood of your hypothetical scenario? No, it doesn’t; but I believe it puts it into perspective.

    As for the arguments from some that CCW is not a crime deterrent (and returning to hypotheticals), since a potential miscreant doesn’t know if his intended victim is armed or not: (1) there’s almost certainly no statistical evidence to back up such a claim; and (2) that’s kind of the point.

    That is, if I’m considering a career as a mugger, I’d be a hell of a lot less likely to try it if I were living in a locale where I knew I might target someone who was armed.

  57. #57 Blue Fielder
    January 15, 2009

    Amazing how every gun nut here has to erect a hypothetical situation to make every one of their points, while the people who aren’t living in abject fear of every person who isn’t them are using the facts.

  58. #58 Lee
    January 15, 2009

    ben:
    “My kids have both handled my firearms under my direct supervision. They know they can see/handle them any time they like if they just ask first. They have about the same fascination with firearms as most kids do with a spoon and bowl. As a test I’ve even taken the barrel and firing pin out of one of my pistols and left it on the kitchen table to see what the kids would do with it. They don’t do anything. And then they tell me that I left my gun on the table.”

    Then they knew yo were home, ben. That’s bullpucky. Ben, you just described (that aspect of) my own childhood. I grew up in a home with many firearms. I was taught to shoot a bb gun at age 6, fired my first .22 at age 8, was carrying shotguns and rifles and hunting for dove, quail, pheasant, chukar, waterfowl, and blacktail deer at age 12. We lived in the country, and had a sighting range in the back yard, with the table and bench 15 feet from the back door. I could handle and shoot nearly any time I wanted, just by asking – Dad was always happy to shoot. And I also handled the guns a lot when my parents weren’t around. Hell, one day when I was 10 and home ‘sick’ from school alone, I found the case of .243 rounds Dad had just reloaded, grabbed his rifle, and fired two shots down the range. Dad kept a loaded .38 handgun in his bedstand for home protection – I looked at or handled that gun probably a majority of the times I was home alone. This is what kids DO. It’s part of being a kid – immature and risky behavior is part of the job description.

    If anyone’s gun safety behavior is guided by the belief that their own kids won’t do similar given opportunity, they are dangerously delusional. At the very least, please, treat your guns as if your children will behave this way. A young child was buried in San Jose just last month because his older brother was curious about his parent’s gun – do not take that risk

    This is one major reason my 11 guns, hunting guns and heirlooms – all 11 of them – all are unloaded, with trigger locks, inside a locked gun safe, inside a locked closet, and with all ammunition in an ammo locker with separate key. And the keys live in my desk at work, unless I’m taking a gun out to shoot or hunt.

  59. #59 luminous beauty
    January 15, 2009

    Warren,

    In the US:

    Accidental shooting injuries by people with guns: ~200,000/yr.

    Accidental shooting injuries by people without guns: 0

    Guns are safer than vaginas fer sure!

    It is against Washington

  60. #60 Warren
    January 15, 2009

    luminous beauty (#59):

    Source of your stats, please.

  61. #61 sg
    January 15, 2009

    hey Ben et al, have any of you guys actually ever been to the UK? If you had spent even one night in any of London’s big cities you’d be dropping your diversity/race arguments pretty fast.

    Also Ben, how does criminals deciding to be heavier armed and more trigger happy in response to concealed carry laws not increase the rate of gun crime?

  62. #62 Lee
    January 15, 2009

    lb, I think you slipped a decimal point.

    Accidental shootings are ~20k / yr in the US. As reported at Wikipedia, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000″

    According to the CDC WISTAR web site, there were 116,535 nonfatal unintentional gunshot injuries in the US between 2001 – 2007.

    http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html

  63. #63 ben
    January 15, 2009

    At the very least, please, treat your guns as if your children will behave this way.

    Obviously. As for the study, I was thinking of a similar TV news setup that I saw that was a bogus hit-piece.

    A pamphlet linked on that site claims the following:

    Every year, thousands of Americans are seriously
    injured or killed when:
    1. A child finds a gun or is showing a friend the
    gun kept at home and, without meaning to,
    pulls the trigger.
    2. A depressed teenager or adult becomes suicidal.
    3. An argument between family members gets
    out of control.
    4. A friend or family member is mistaken for an
    intruder.

    This is intentionally misleading. There are very few incidents of 1. and 4. and yet they are lumped in as if they are a significant part of the “thousands”. I don’t know for certain, but I doubt that 3. is in the thousands.

  64. #64 ben
    January 15, 2009

    Also Ben, how does criminals deciding to be heavier armed and more trigger happy in response to concealed carry laws not increase the rate of gun crime?

    I dunno, how does the existence of space aliens, or lack there of, not increase the rate of gun crime?

    Seriously though. Supposing for the sake of argument that criminals do decide to be heavier armed and more trigger happy in response to concealed carry laws. You’re supposing that they are then going to go out and commit more crimes? I don’t get it. I could see your point if you claimed that the crimes they committed would be more violent, but an increase in the crime rate means that they committed more crimes.

    Does the gun somehow increase their criminal efficiency? If a given criminal was going to rob one person before CCW, he’s now magically going to rob two people after CCW? This makes no sense.

  65. #65 sg
    January 15, 2009

    Ben, it wasn’t my argument – it was yours. You asked above for a mechanism by which concealed carry weapons would increase crime rates. Someone proposed one – that some criminals who were previously unarmed, lightly armed or cautious, would become respectively armed, heavily armed or incautious, with obviously two of those changes leading to an overall increase in the rate of shootings, and the middle change leading to an increase in fatalities.

    I believe in the area of international law this is referred to as an “arms race”.

  66. #66 Science Avenger
    January 15, 2009

    Blue Fielder, what thread are you reading? I see most of those defending gun rights using relevant facts (see Warren’s post right above yours, whereas those against gun rights are using faux facts (like Luminous Beauty used which are comically irrelevant), silly hypotheticals, and invectives as you did implying that everyone who defends the right to own a gun is somehow a gun nut.

    I’ve been challenging gun control opponents for years to provide any evidence at all that it is the guns, and not the psychology of those in possession of them, that is the proximal cause of the violence we see, and they never ever deliver. And again, I’m the furthest thing from a gun nut. I just know shoddy, self-serving statistical pseudoanalysis when I see it, and the gun control side is loaded with it.

  67. #67 Robin Levett
    January 15, 2009

    @ben #47:

    How about: the baddies who don’t know that concealed carry is permitted will still commit their crimes at the same rate. Those who do know it will (i) ensure they themselves carry when they commit crimes and (ii) will carry more powerful weapons in case they run across someone who is carrying and (iii) will shoot more readily to avoid getting beaten to the draw by someone who is carrying.

    These are not mechanisms by which the crime rate will increase.

    They are mechanisms whereby the rate of violent crime will increase; and of course increase the violence of those that would have happened anyway.

    You disavow any reliance upon genetics, but I can’t see what else you can be relying on.

    The difference is there and cannot be ignored. Are you saying that it must be based on genetics? They are the figures provided by the FBI.

    I’d say that socio-economic factors would be pretty important; wouldn’t you?

    When you restrict the stats to Caucasians only, our homicide rate is lower than Finland’s, and about the same as Italy.

    I’d love to see some cites for that. My understanding is that Italy’s murder rate is well below even the UK’s, and suspect you are including non-murders in Finland’s figures.

    Comparing with Finland is rather comparing apples with oranges. Blacks in the US are disproportionately represented in the lower socio-economic bands; so you are almost saying “If you take the richest 80% of people in the US, and compare it with Finland’s entire population…”

    As for Finland, they have a much lower firearm homicide rate than we do, which means that they are finding ways to murder each other without firearms at a pretty drastic rate. Why is that?

    Quantify “pretty drastic rate”, and compare it to the US non-firearm murder rate.

  68. #68 Warren
    January 15, 2009

    sg (#65):

    [S]ome criminals who were previously unarmed, lightly armed or cautious, would become respectively armed, heavily armed or incautious, with obviously two of those changes leading to an overall increase in the rate of shootings, and the middle change leading to an increase in fatalities.

    But that hasn’t happened.

    The ban on “assault” weapons was allowed to lapse under Bush 43, and while they’ve definitely been bought — in record numbers over the last 6 months or so, particularly — I haven’t seen a concordant increase in artillery among the criminal element.

    CCW permit class attendance went up (locally) in the last few months as well, again without the predicted increase in armed criminals.

    The FBI seems to be of the opinion that violent crime rates are, overall, in a continuing decline ( http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm ) — this despite the fact that you could walk into the gunsmith down the road from me and buy as many AK-47 clones as were available that day.

    It doesn’t seem to me that law-abiding citizens being armed — even rather heavily armed — has had the effect of forcing criminals to become more heavily armed; in fact the rates have dropped steadily and sharply from 1994 to about 2001 (they’re at about 1988 levels now):

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/guncrime.htm

    Note that the “assault” weapon ban ended in 2004. If the foregoing predictions were true, we should have already seen a substantial increase in firearm-related crimes, possibly even to 1994 levels, as we would expect that the criminals would be avidly supplying themselves in an attempt to keep this “arms race” symmetrical.

    That this does not appear to have happened is something that might bear some pondering.

  69. #69 sg
    January 15, 2009

    No it doesn’t bear pondering, Warren. The “arms race” explanation was simply offered to Ben as support for a hypothesis that can be tested, not as a presentation of fact. It is also well known that there are other reasons why murder rates go up and down – largely connected with economic factors and drug use – but the theory is that guns are the reason why US murder rates are so much higher than in other comparable countries. Your task is not so much to present evidence that murder rates in the use have declined from phantasmagorically high to merely stupidly high; it is to explain why the world’s richest country has phantasmagorically high rates of murder at all.

    I note as well that your murder rate statistics are national and clear, while your CCW statistics are local and anecdotal.

  70. #70 Carlie
    January 15, 2009

    Ok, no rate of crime changes, but what about rates of accidental gun-induced injuries?

  71. #71 Warren
    January 15, 2009

    sg (#69):

    Your task is not so much to present evidence that murder rates in the use have declined from phantasmagorically high to merely stupidly high; it is to explain why the world’s richest country has phantasmagorically high rates of murder at all.

    Actually that’s not my task. We’re discussing the correlation between armed citizenry and crime, not the actual rates of crime — which I suspect are not correlated to prevalence of firearms at all, or we’d see something on the order of a 1:1 ratio for firearms crime and homicide rates. (That is, we’d see something along the lines of 100% of all crimes being committed with firearms, if there really were a correlation.)

    I note as well that your murder rate statistics are national and clear, while your CCW statistics are local and anecdotal.

    That’s right. This is because the DOJ and FBI track murder and crime stats unambiguously, but CCW laws are different from state to state and are not, to my knowledge, tracked by any national agency:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry

    Locally there simply are not any statistics available, at least none that disclose themselves to Google.

  72. #72 Carlie
    January 15, 2009

    I know Warren tried to address that, but those were overall numbers, not before and after concealed carry laws.

  73. #73 sg
    January 15, 2009

    Yes warren, we’re discussing the correlation between armed citizenry and high rates of crime. A correlation doesn’t mean 100% of crimes have to be due to guns. And there can be other reasons for a decline in murders than your CCW laws – here international comparison is useful, since you can use the behaviour of other similar countries to the US (e.g. canada) to track comparable crimes in case the decline has some other basis (e.g. economic change).

  74. #74 Bloop
    January 15, 2009

    Do any of you in the USA have the slightest idea that those of us reading this from outside of the USA are thinking ” they carry guns WTF ? ” How terrifying.

  75. #75 Warren
    January 15, 2009

    sg, I can’t take responsibility for what you’re currently discussing. I’m simply rejecting the notion that an armed citizenry will necessarily see a spike in more-heavily-armed criminals. That does not seem to be the case. If you have contrary data, please offer it.

    I’m not suggesting that CCW laws have led to a decline in murder rates, either. I don’t believe I implied that in any way; if I have, please point out where.

    Attempting to shift the topic to general crime rates or comparisons with other nations doesn’t change the apparent contradiction between an expected rise in armed criminals and what has actually happened with overall US crime stats.

  76. #76 sg
    January 15, 2009

    warren, go back and read the thread: ben was rejecting the possibility of a hypothesis in which ccw could increase the crime rate, and suggesting that research which tested such a hypothesis would be silly. We merely presented the reason such a hypothesis would need to be tested.

    To test this hypothesis one does need to do comparisons with other countries (or at least US states). If crime rates are declining in every state in the US but there are only CCW laws in some, then that would suggest the CCW laws didn’t lead to the decline, no? And if they were also declining in Canada, it would suggest a transnational or economic explanation.

    I don’t think CCW laws would necessarily lead to an increase in crime either, unless they became very common and a lot of people opted to use them. But the hypothesis was merely presented in reply to Ben’s fanciful notion that no such hypothesis is possible.

  77. #77 Miko
    January 15, 2009

    So, if I’m reading you correctly, you’re saying that the data on guns is inconclusive, as long as you arbitrarily decide to ignore Florida and only look at a short time frame?

    Personally, I don’t really care about this issue, but I’m glad that the people who do take the time to talk about it aren’t trying to resort to special pleading and selective statistics in order to justify their pre-existing ideological assumptions. I congratulate you for being true to the principles of science and rationality by not giving in to such temptations.

  78. #78 ben
    January 15, 2009

    Your task is not so much to present evidence that murder rates in the use have declined from phantasmagorically high to merely stupidly high; it is to explain why the world’s richest country has phantasmagorically high rates of murder at all.

    You can begin by explaining to me why the “phantasmagorically high rates of murder” is confined to a particular subculture.

  79. #79 sg
    January 15, 2009

    that’s what subcultures do Ben – that’s why they’re called “subcultures”. But how come the US criminal subcultures are so much more deadly than the UK ones…?

    But way to go again, trying to blame your country’s problems on its black people… but it’s not genetic, really…

  80. #80 sod
    January 15, 2009

    Obviously. As for the study, I was thinking of a similar TV news setup that I saw that was a bogus hit-piece.

    yes. and it is exactly this type of false assumptions, that makes me feel discomfortable when guys like you carry a gun around….

    You can begin by explaining to me why the “phantasmagorically high rates of murder” is confined to a particular subculture.

    it is not.

    Attempting to shift the topic to general crime rates or comparisons with other nations doesn’t change the apparent contradiction between an expected rise in armed criminals and what has actually happened with overall US crime stats.

    causation and correlation. you might want to google those words..

  81. #81 luminous beauty
    January 15, 2009

    Mea culpa! I am so stupid and can’t count my zeros.

    Still 20,000:0 means the risk of accidental gun injury inflicted by people with guns is infinitely greater than that for people without guns.

    Prima facie.

    I am here specifically addressing the bullshit argument that guns aren’t intrinsically dangerous. Even when handled expertly, human error will occur. You can bank on that.

  82. #82 luminous beauty
    January 15, 2009

    I should think Venezuela would be the poster child of the gun lovers utopia.

    No gun laws to speak of and 65% of the adult male population of Caracas are reputed to be packing.

  83. #83 ben
    January 15, 2009

    I am here specifically addressing the bullshit argument that guns aren’t intrinsically dangerous. Even when handled expertly, human error will occur.

    Right, just like everything else in life. There would be no bicycle accidents if there were no bicycles. Look up just how many injuries there are due to bikes, dogs, falls, etc. That link from Lee above is great

    http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html

    You’d also think if guns were so much more dangerous than other sporting goods that hunters would have a much higher rate of serious injury and death than folks who take part in other sports, but the exact opposite is true. Hunting has one of the lowest rate of serious injury and death. How can that be if guns are so dangerous?

    I should think Venezuela would be the poster child of the gun lovers utopia.

    Actually, it’s Switzerland. All adult males have machine guns at home. For some reason there’s no blood in the street.

  84. #84 ben
    January 15, 2009

    Wow, that cdc link above is fascinating. Examples of numbers of unintentional fatal injuries in the USA in 2005:

    Falls: 19,656
    Poisoning: 23,618
    Drowning: 3,582
    Suffocation: 5,900
    Cycling: 927
    Pedestrian: 6,074
    Motor Vehicle: 43,667
    Fire/Burn: 3,299
    Firearm: 789

  85. #85 P. Lewis
    January 15, 2009

    Actually, it’s Switzerland. All adult males have machine guns at home. For some reason there’s no blood in the street.

    No they don’t.

    The Swiss Army is a militia of the people and the militia largely keep their guns at home.

    And

    When their period of service has ended, militiamen have the choice of keeping their personal weapon and other selected items of their equipment. In this case of retention, the rifle is sent to the weapons factory where the fully automatic function is removed; the rifle is then returned to the discharged owner. The rifle is then a semi-automatic or self-loading rifle.

    Police statistics for the year 2006[11] records 34 killings or attempted killings involving firearms, compared to 69 cases involving bladed weapons and 16 cases of unarmed assault. Cases of assault resulting in bodily harm numbered 89 (firearms) and 526 (bladed weapons). This represents a decline of aggravated assaults involving firearms since the early 1990s. Some 300 deaths per year are due to legally held army ordnance weapons, the large majority of these being suicides. The majority of gun crimes involving domestic violence are perpetrated with army ordnance weapons, while the majority of gun crime outside the domestic sphere involves illegally held firearms.[12]

  86. #86 Stu Chisholm
    January 15, 2009

    One of the aspects missing from all of the data is media publicity. For instance, if a county or state quietly enacts shall-issue concealed carry, violent crimes may not be reduced because criminals haven’t gotten the message! What of those states like Florida and Georgia? When Florida’s CCW law was enacted it was a major news event! The impact on crime was so drastic that it made other states take a good, hard look at shall issue, which is why this is such a hot topic and, further, why some 40 states now have some form of legal concealed carry.

    Then there was Georgia, that passed a tongue-in-cheek law that REQUIRED every home to have a gun. Again, crime immediately fell because it was a major news event. On ABC’s 20/20, reporter John Stossel interviewed prison inmates who were convicted of various armed crimes. To a man, they told him that the laws don’t matter to them; they have little fear of police; it’s the armed victim they’re most frightened of. But they have to KNOW it.

    I was involved with the group here in Michigan that worked to change the CCW laws and the story has been the same: violent crime dropped, while petty crimes such as thefts from garages and stolen car stereos saw a mild increase. Later, when the gang violence ratcheted-up in Detroit and Pontiac, the lower crime rates in the rest of the state made the statistic look as if there was no impact whatsoever. The true value was hidden, only becoming apparent when doing a county by county assessment.

    The bottom line: I think the current studies ignore the media / publicity aspect, and even so, show no compelling reason to ban or limit shall issue concealed carry.

  87. #87 Lurkbot
    January 15, 2009

    Bloop @ #74:

    Do any of you in the USA have the slightest idea that those of us reading this from outside of the USA are thinking ” they carry guns WTF ? ” How terrifying.

    Yes, it is terrifying, Bloop. For those of you who are not USAians, I should explain that this so-called “right” is postulated as a consequence of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

    The Second Amendment is only one sentence, but the gun nuts can only remember half of it: “A well-regulated militia being essential to the security of a Free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Well, We the People do “keep and bear arms;” we have several things that the Founding Fathers never imagined we could afford, such as a Standing Army, a Fleet in Being, the Navy’s own private army (aka Marine Corps,) not to mention an Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guards in each state equipped at the public’s expense because the Robber Barons got tired of hiring insensate thugs (Pinkertons, etc.) to murder strikers and their families at their own expense.

    The gun advocates seem to believe that every drooling Yahoo with a gun, when added all together, somehow constitute a “well-regulated militia,” that is supposed to “take up arms and change” an unpopular government. Never mind that that line is from the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution; the Founding Fathers certainly visualized Government Troops armed with smoothbore muskets and maybe a few snipers with rifles, facing a less well-organized but still gun-savvy populace armed with smoothbore muskets and possibly a higher proportion of snipers with rifles. Undoubtedly many of the Government Troops would be unwilling to fire on their fellow citizens, and many of them might actually agree with them.

    The disparity in firepower between any group of armed citizens and the government nowadays make this a dead letter. An armed uprising against the government is not going to be carried out successfully with the types of arms that the general population “keeps and bears” nowadays. For better or worse, those are the facts.

    We’re back to that “well-regulated militia” guarding the country from attack, a la Red Dawn. Presumably this invading force has successfully dealt with the greatest concentration of military might that the world has ever seen, but will be turned back once the NRA goes all WOLVERINES!!! on their asses.

    The biggest joke is what would happen if these gun nuts learned what the term “well-regulated” meant in 18th Century military terminology. (I assure you they would soil their underoos.) In addition to a rigid military hierarchy, uniformly enforced, it also includes discipline so ferocious as to render the ordinary soldier much more afraid of his officers than he is of the enemy. Possibly the only “well-regulated” armed force in the last two centuries were the Soviet Penal Battalions during WWII.

    And oh, yes: handguns are not “arms” in the sense that the Constitution is talking about: they are of no utility in either overthrowing a tyrannical government or guarding the country from attack. They replaced sabers as officers’ sidearms to be used to shoot any of their own men in the back who tried to run away. Since this is no longer AFAIK military policy, that is also a dead letter; private citizens certainly acquire no right to “keep and bear” such murdering weapons from the Second Amendment.

  88. #88 bi -- IJI
    January 15, 2009

    > On ABC’s 20/20, reporter John Stossel interviewed

    Stossel isn’t a reporter, he’s a pundit.

  89. #89 ben
    January 15, 2009

    Thanks, P. Lewis, I was mistaken about Switzerland.

    …why some 40 states now have some form of legal concealed carry.

    48 to be precise. Although good luck in NJ if you weren’t a police officer or celebrity.

    Heck, even Canada has a concealed weapon provision, but you won’t get one unless you are a former prime minister or biker-gang prosecutor.

  90. #90 elpsi
    January 15, 2009

    “We’re back to that “well-regulated militia” guarding the country from attack, a la Red Dawn. Presumably this invading force has successfully dealt with the greatest concentration of military might that the world has ever seen, but will be turned back once the NRA goes all WOLVERINES!!! on their asses.”

    I am so going to steal that.

  91. #91 elspi
    January 15, 2009

    “Stossel isn’t a reporter, he’s a pundit.”

    Stossel isn’t a pundit, Stossel is a liar.

  92. #92 hockey bob
    January 16, 2009

    < <<"We're back to that "well-regulated militia" guarding the country from attack, a la Red Dawn. Presumably this invading force has successfully dealt with the greatest concentration of military might that the world has ever seen, but will be turned back once the NRA goes all WOLVERINES!!! on their asses.">>>

    Yeah, you mean like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  93. #93 ProfBleen
    January 16, 2009

    Once again, The Onion hits the nail on the head. Gun nuts, take note.

  94. #94 Bud
    January 16, 2009

    The only thing of substance I have to add is that re post 17: the charge of “rising knife crime” in the UK simply has no basis in reality and is largely a tabloid panic.

    But this is the perfect opportunity to post this:

    [Tuesday May 2nd](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuFSblQkPMY)

  95. #95 Dunc
    January 16, 2009

    Dunc, arguing hypotheticals won’t accomplish much, since anyone can posit any hypothetical situation and produce any outcome desired from it.

    You have misunderstood me – I wasn’t trying to present a hypothetical argument against CCW. I was merely trying to understand how CCW proponents themselves view cases where deadly force is used in error. I don’t actually have any particular ideological axe to grind on this issue.

    One interesting thing about this debate that I have noticed many times: as soon as you start asking questions of somebody, they automatically assume that you’re on the other side. That’s usually an indication that the debate in question isn’t entirely rational.

  96. #96 sod
    January 16, 2009

    I was involved with the group here in Michigan that worked to change the CCW laws and the story has been the same: violent crime dropped, while petty crimes such as thefts from garages and stolen car stereos saw a mild increase.

    clever. those rapists decided to stop, because all the females would start carrying at least 4 handguns. while thiefs thought the car owner wouldn t mind anyway….

    Falls: 19,656 Poisoning: 23,618 Drowning: 3,582 Suffocation: 5,900 Cycling: 927 Pedestrian: 6,074 Motor Vehicle: 43,667 Fire/Burn: 3,299 Firearm: 789

    yes. it looks like more firefighters die during work, that bungee jumpers. looks like we should get rid of those dangerous fellows in their red vehicles and all start jumping from bridges instead…

    the statistics use of the pro-gun lobby is pretty absurd. let us compare the US gun accidents with out those by blacks and 8 to 29 year olds with the one of the entire british commonwealth, and we immediately see….

  97. #97 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 16, 2009

    Mark Schaffer writes:

    I have to ask how likely it is you find yourself “surrounded by a group of criminals”?

    Depends on where you live, where you work, etc. And it only has to happen once for you to lose your life.

    My understanding is that in the vast majority of cases by the time a victim realizes what is going on it is too late to react.

    That hasn’t been my experience.

    I once had a co-worker tell me that he could kill a knife wielding perp at a safe distance, as if such a person would pull a knife at a distance and in such a way that my co-worker could react. The best way to avoid crime is to not put yourself in situations where it is more likely you will be a victim.

    And if a girl dresses provocatively, it’s her fault if she gets raped. Same kind of logic.

    Also, there is no shame in running if at possible.

    I agree. But sometimes that isn’t an option. That’s why I used the word “surrounded.”

  98. #98 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 16, 2009

    ben writes:

    Hunting has one of the lowest rate of serious injury and death. How can that be if guns are so dangerous?

    Because hunters aren’t routinely tackling one another or jumping off diving boards?

  99. #99 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 16, 2009

    Not quite on topic, but can I get an amen to the sentiment that Red Dawn must have been one of the stupidest films of all times? A bunch of high school kids take on the Speznaz and win? What were the producers thinking?

  100. #100 luminous beauty
    January 16, 2009

    ben,

    Bicycles, unlike assault weapons, aren’t designed for the express purpose of killing people.

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