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 Rory Tate
    January 16, 2009

    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.

    Hmmm…how about we look at Canada…so that we have apples to apples, as you want:

    1. Settled by the nuttiest of pioneers…I mean, didn’t they know it’s cold up here???

    2. I don’t think we really had what you term segregation, and I’m proud of the Underground Railway that gave many slaves their freedom, but despite this difference in our histories, we still have very comparable racial and economic divisions to you.

    3. I just can’t resist…yes, we also have a failing third-world disaster of a country on our porous southern border. Ha! Actually, the borders are a factor in our gun violence, especially with traffic from Detroit to Toronto, or in Vancouver, where a recent news article on their spike in gun deaths cited that 90% of guns in Canada came from the US.

    You know, I’m surprised no one has called you out on your mistaken characterization of Mexico, which is the 11th largest economy in the world, an emerging world power, and a member of the G8+5. I guess its perceived image is often otherwise though, due to the highly uneven distribution of income and associated insecurity Mexico possesses. However, those descriptions are often ones that many other countries apply to the US.

    Anyway, between the US and Canada, here are the firearm-death rates (homicide only) for both countries per 100,000 population:

    Canada: 0.76
    US: 3.72

    (Source: Krug 1998)

    Here are the number of guns held per 100 residents (note, this is not the percentage of guns, meaning that single individuals will hold multiple guns)

    Canada: 31.5
    US: 90.0

    (Source: Small Arms Survey 2007)

    This is only a small group of numbers, and not a full blown study. However, whenever Canada and the US are compared in this way (and there are many places this is done), it is clear that the largest contributing factor in the higher rate of US gun violence is the larger number of guns possessed by its population.

    My position on this issue is clear: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an argument for gun ownership that could not equally be used to argue for something more extreme, like, say, public possession of nuclear weapons. Sure, if only the people who knew about handling nukes properly — and could be trusted to only use them as a deterrent — were the ones that owned them, then everyone would feel safe. It’s only the criminal element that give nuclear arms possession a bad name. Oh, and those who were generally good people, but had a mental breakdown at some point in their life. Or those in emotional distress over a divorce/job loss/etc. Or, well, pretty much everyone, now that I think about it…

    Or how about: Fear the government that fears your atomics?

    You know, I wish I had only imagined the above statement, but somewhere I’m sure it’s been said seriously… [shiver]

  2. #2 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    Once again, a vast spew of inane rhetoric with nary a stat or fact to back it up.

    I ask who the rational people are in this debate, because of the anti-firearm-carry lobby is being fairly represented here, well, all I can say is I’m glad most of you aren’t armed. I don’t believe you’d be capable of making rational or fact-based decisions, particularly in life-or-death matters.

  3. #3 Lurkbot
    January 16, 2009

    a vast spew of inane rhetoric

    Pot, meet kettle.

  4. #4 Dunc
    January 16, 2009

    And just to prove that I’m not here to grind an ideological anti-gun axe:

    However, whenever Canada and the US are compared in this way (and there are many places this is done), it is clear that the largest contributing factor in the higher rate of US gun violence is the larger number of guns possessed by its population.

    Sorry Rory, but that’s not a robust line of reasoning. It’s entirely possible that there is a third, independent factor (for example, a rampant culture of raving paranoia) which drives both the higher rate of gun violence and the higher rate of gun ownership. That hypothesis is extremely difficult to exclude, as far as I can see.

  5. #5 sg
    January 16, 2009

    Dunc, the paranoia is pretty clear from comments by people like BPL.

    But if the only defense for your position is rampant madness or bottomless cynicism, you probably just need to give up on that position…

  6. #6 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    This is only marginally off the topic. Over at the Chimp Refuge ( http://scienceblogs.com/bushwells/2009/01/a\_suggestion\_for\_a\_new\_state\_m.php ), Kevin points to an interesting little potboiler taking place in Jackson, MS: The city council voted on the topic of whether it should be legal to let its citizenry wear saggy pants.

    Councilman Kenneth Stokes sponsored the saggy-pants ordinance. He said many of the young men who wear saggy pants also get in trouble at school or with police.

    He said the ordinance was an attempt to “save all the children we can.”

    http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20090114/NEWS/901140351/1001/news

    The parallels to some parts of this discussion — and others like it — are fairly self-apparent, I think.

    What’s particularly distressing, though, is this comment from the Jacksonville mayor:

    “I certainly respect the Constitution,” [mayor Frank] Melton said, “but we have some issues that are much bigger than the Constitution.”

    Is owning a firearm a first-amendment freedom-of-speech right? Probably not. Is the second amendment vague? Of a certainty. Do I personally believe that “every drooling Yahoo with a gun” will somehow fit the definition of a well-regulated militia? Definitely not. (Ted Nugent, for instance, scares the hell out of me, and the NRA most certainly doesn’t speak for me.)

    However, it’s clear that correlation/causation errors such as “some young men who wear saggy pants get in trouble, so let’s outlaw saggy pants” are echoed in beliefs such as “some crimes are committed with guns, so let’s outlaw guns”. And it’s just as clear that there are some here who believe there are concerns which are “bigger than the Constitution”.

    Upthread it was stated that arguments in favor of right-to-carry could be reductio ad absurdum‘ed to allowing all citizens to carry nukes. This is a perfect example of what happens when we argue hypotheticals. The thing is that arguments against the right to self-defensive armaments can similarly be reduced to forbidding essentially all ownership of anything, since anything can be arguably used as a weapon.

    It’s as inane as suggesting that outlawing saggy pants will end crime.

    No one in the right-to-carry camp, to my knowledge, is arguing in favor of nukes for all citizens. This is a rhetorical device (or, less charitably, a deliberately misleading statement) that again demonstrates the emptiness of the rationale against self-defense weaponry. Unfortunately that seems to be the best many of these folks can manage.

  7. #7 ben
    January 16, 2009

    You know, I’m surprised no one has called you out on your mistaken characterization of Mexico, which is the 11th largest economy in the world, an emerging world power, and a member of the G8+5

    And their gun + non-gun homicide rates make the USA look like fluffy bunny land.

    However, whenever Canada and the US are compared in this way (and there are many places this is done), it is clear that the largest contributing factor in the higher rate of US gun violence is the larger number of guns possessed by its population.

    You might think that, but you’d be wrong. I discussed this at Tim’s old site a while back. There is a study by anti-gun Kellermann who inadvertently found, while investigating and comparing homicide rates between Seattle Washington and Vancouver BC, that among Caucasians only, that Vancouver had a slightly higher homicide rate than Seattle. Here we have two cities about 3 hours apart, similar population sizes, similar physical geography, similar culture among Caucasians (I’ve lived in both for many years, they are very similar). And yet Vancouver, without all the guns, has essentially the same homicide rate among the majority similar ethnic group. It ain’t the guns.

  8. #8 Science Avenger
    January 16, 2009

    Luminous Beauty said: 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.

    Your own data says otherwise. You cite 20,000 gun injuries in the US. That’s roughly 1 person in 18,000 getting injured annually in a country that is armed to the teeth. If that’s your idea of intrinsic danger you must be perpetually terrified.

    Bloop said: 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.

    That’s OK, we are thinking “Wow, what a bunch of squeemish little paranoid pussies lacking perspective.”

    Rory Tate said: My position on this issue is clear: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an argument for gun ownership that could not equally be used to argue for something more extreme, like, say, public possession of nuclear weapons.

    Well, I’d argue we need to change the second amendment to restrict it to weapons that can discharged effectively against a single target by an average citizen, which would allow handguns and rifles, but not nukes and flamethrowers, and the courts would have to make a ruling on AK-47s and the like.

  9. #9 ben
    January 16, 2009

    Er, forgot to mention above that Mexico has very strict gun control laws, and still have super high gun + non-gun murder rates.

    Dunc, the paranoia is pretty clear from comments by people like BPL.

    Right, so quit locking your doors at night, otherwise you are paranoid.

  10. #10 Science Avenger
    January 16, 2009

    Back at you Rory Tate. I’ve never seen a gun control advocate deal intellectually honestly with the demographic data by age, and gender which shows quite clearly that:

    1) The bulk of risk of death from guns is from suicide.

    2) The homicide rate is strongly correlated with age: the rate for 60 year olds is almost 1/10th what it is for 20 year olds. The total number of Americans over 40 murdered by gun in the sample year was about 2,500.

    3) The homicide rate is strongly correlated with gender, with men having a death rate roughly 6 times that of women.

    So given the fact that the gun death problem is so highly concentrated in certain demographics (the suicidal, the young, the male, and the mentally unhealthy), and virtually nonexistent for everyone else, why doesn’t our public policy concentrate on those groups, rather than attempting to restrict everyone’s freedoms? Why use a legislative ax when a scalpel is clearly called for?

    And btw, I agree with the gun control side of the debate when it comes to the idea of armed citizens taking on the US government. It’s absurd. I’m concerned with an individual’s right to defense of life and property.

  11. #11 Science Avenger
    January 16, 2009

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

    Yeah, and shower massagers were designed to be used on your back.

    You are factually wrong anyway. Guns are designed to propel a piece of metal accurately and at great velocity. Anything else is political spin.

  12. #12 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    Science Avenger (#110):

    I agree with the gun control side of the debate when it comes to the idea of armed citizens taking on the US government. It’s absurd. I’m concerned with an individual’s right to defense of life and property.

    Oh me too. All anyone has to do is look at, say, the Branch Davidians in Waco to see what happens when a heavily-armed enclave thinks it can outshoot the fed. It’s a ludicrous fantasy. It doesn’t matter how many weapons you have. If the government wants you, it’s going to get you.

    As I said above, the NRA doesn’t speak for me (“From my cold dead hands!” sounds to my ears like a good plan, not a rallying cry), nor do the proponents of either the Red Dawn or take-on-the-fed scenarios. That’s why I didn’t bother responding to goads that mentioned them; they’re beneath contempt as well as notice, and aren’t how most firearms owners actually think.

    I realize firearms make some people very uncomfortable, but personal discomfort is not a sufficient reason to restrict others’ rights, despite what a bare majority of voters in California (for instance) might believe.

    I realize too that some essentially believe eliminating firearms will somehow eliminate crime. That notion is so outrageously false that it, too, doesn’t deserve a response.

    All that eliminating firearms would accomplish is a removal of an equalizer. With firearms, most citizens are able to defend themselves against most criminal threats. Without firearms, any citizen of weaker physical stature, lesser ability or smaller size is less able to defend him/herself than would otherwise be the case.

  13. #13 sg
    January 16, 2009

    Warren, it’s silly to compare a baggy-pants ordnance specifically intended to enable the police to target black kids doing nothing wrong, with a gun control ordnance aimed at stopping people using a dangerous device. No-one in the gun control lobby argues that guns cause crime, only that they make crime deadlier. It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise, and your baggy pants ordnance is a trivial straw man.

    Science Avenger, the majority of Australian gun control debates centre around your points 1 and 3, because health authorities in the UK want to prevent suicides being effective, and prevent domestic violence turning deadly. So yeah, I would say those arguments have been dealt with intellectually honestly pretty regularly.

    Also science avenger, I would challenge you to go into any tavern in East London and declare in your most American voice that the British are a bunch of pussies because they think carrying guns is scary. Americans are the pussies, acting oh-so-proud and tough because they aren’t scared to carry guns, and claiming they have a “violent culture” as excuse for their irrational murder rates.

    ben, you are the greatest cherry-picker I have ever seen. It’s just wonderful to watch. There are about a million trillion cities on earth which are similar to seattle and have lower homicide rates, year in year out, amongst “culturally similar” people, but you pick the one city that doesn’t… brilliant. (Also I like how you took the paranoia comment from my comment and missed the following paragraph … I wonder why?)

  14. #14 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    sg (#113):

    Warren, it’s silly to compare a baggy-pants ordnance specifically intended to enable the police to target black kids doing nothing wrong, with a gun control ordnance aimed at stopping people using a dangerous device.

    The saggy pants ordinance, according to one of its defenders on the Jackson city council, is aimed not at targeting one ethnic group (and it’s not just blacks who do the saggy-pants thing); it’s specifically intended to have an effect on crime by eliminating a clothing style.

    Pointing this out is not disingenuous; it’s an example of how firearms-control legislation looks to those of us who legally own and carry firearms.

    The statement that gun control is about “stopping people using a dangerous device” is precisely the problem. As has been pointed out so often it’s essentially a litany, the only people who are affected by firearms control laws of any kind are the law-abiding citizens such as you and me.

    Firearms control legislation does not assure the safety of the unarmed. It does not increase the safety of the unarmed. It simply increases the ratio of armed criminals to unarmed decent citizens.

    Who, precisely, would you like to see affected by firearms control legislation? (That is a serious question. What would you hope to accomplish by firearms control, and how?)

  15. #15 bi -- IJI
    January 16, 2009

    > Guns are designed to propel a piece of metal accurately and at great velocity. Anything else is political spin.

    I say again:

    > 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?

  16. #16 bi -- IJI
    January 16, 2009

    > As has been pointed out so often it’s essentially a litany, the only people who are affected by firearms control laws of any kind are the law-abiding citizens such as you and me.

    It is a litany. A litany with no facts to back it up.

  17. #17 bi -- IJI
    January 16, 2009

    So the arguments against gun control boil down to:

    1. FREEDUM FREEDUM FREEDUM!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2. LOOK LOOK LOOK THIS CHERRY-PICKED AREA HAS NO GUN DEATHS!!!!!!!
    3. GUNS ARE NOT FOR KILLING PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!
    4. GUMMINT IS UNGOOD!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #18 luminous beauty
    January 16, 2009

    Scientific Avenger,

    If one is unable to distinguish purpose and function, one’s judgment is unreliable as to determination of fact.

    Assault weapons are functionally designed to eject slugs at high energies for the intent purpose of killing the assaulted party.

    If shower massage devices were intended only for use on one’s back, then there would be no need to make them detachable from the wall fitting, would there?

    Most bicycle fatalities aren’t intrinsic to the bicycle, but the result of being hit by motorized vehicles. Bullets, in contrast, are a cause of injury mostly intrinsic to guns.

  19. #19 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    bi — IJI: (#115 – 117)

    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?

    Pistols and semiautomatic carbines (the slower-fire versions of fully auto military type weapons) are probably the specific targets of your ire, since not many people are likely to go hunting with an AK. These weapons are arguably designed to kill human beings, or at least grievously wound them.

    But then, so are swords, knives and clubs.

    Shotguns and rifles are also capable of killing people, but are more usually sold for the purposes of game hunting. Would you see them banned as well? In that case you’ll have to widen the ban to include crossbows and (at least) compound bows too.

    “As has been pointed out so often it’s essentially a litany, the only people who are affected by firearms control laws of any kind are the law-abiding citizens such as you and me.”

    It is a litany. A litany with no facts to back it up.

    That’s not correct. The UK has had very tight restrictions on firearms for more than a decade, yet there are still shootings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun\_politics\_in\_the\_United\_Kingdom

    How is this possible if universal gun control removes firearms from the hands of criminals and law-abiding citizens alike, as you seem to suggest?

    Of the three sidearms I own, two are foreign-made: One in Argentina, the other in Germany. So even if domestic firearm production in the US were switched off tomorrow, it’s still conceivable that a dedicated outlaw would be able to get his hands on a firearm, just as it’s possible today for a committed criminal to get his hands on Peruvian flake.

    Cracking down on firearms does not remove firearms from the hands of criminals. That is a fact.

    Re post #117, point 1 (freedom) is the strongest argument, though I seem to be able to spell it better than you. 2-4 are not proposed as arguments by anyone but you.

  20. #20 sg
    January 16, 2009

    Warren, how can you claim on the one hand that you need a gun for self-defense and then on the other hand say that they are “arguably” designed to kill people?

    I should add that many countries – Japan and Australia being 2 I know of – do essentially ban swords, body armour and most types of crossbow. The consequence of this is that people have to use objects such as kitchen knives whose primary function is not “arguably” killing people. This makes their crimes less lethal.

    Yes, the UK has had very strict gun control and yes, people have pointed out to you how low the gun crime rate is in the UK. Do you have a point to make besides the obvious? Or is your argument that since gun control in the UK wasn’t 100% effective, it shouldn’t be used at all.

    And in answer to your question: I would like to see everyone banned from owning a gun (or, alternatively, forced into very strict licensing requirements). I would like to see handguns restricted to specialist shooting clubs only. I would like to see shotguns and rifles licensed only for farmers or wildlife workers. You’ll be unsurprised to know I also don’t think people should have access to TNT. I think you’ll find my opinion shared by the majority of the civilised world. And yes, there will be some criminals who will get access to guns but it will be very very difficult. If you doubt this, go to Australia or the UK and try to buy yourself an illegal gun without attracting the notice of the police. I wouldn’t recommend it though…

  21. #21 ben
    January 16, 2009

    ben, you are the greatest cherry-picker I have ever seen. It’s just wonderful to watch.

    I didn’t cherry-pick anything. We went through this last time. Kellermann (The anti-gun dip responsible for the phony “a gun in the home is 42 times more likely blah blah” statistic) wanted to show how guns were the cause of higher crime in Seattle. He inadvertently showed the exact opposite. He’s the fragging cherry-picker if anyone is. All I did was point out that he’s a doofus because the data shows the exact opposite of what he wanted to show. I wasn’t the first to do this either, I can’t remember who it was.

  22. #22 luminous beauty
    January 16, 2009

    I prefer bow hunting. Guns suck. They’re heavy, clumsy and they make too much damn noise.

    For self defense, I’ve always found solid external and internal martial arts training a much better way of dealing with gun waving idiots than becoming another gun waving idiot. Being trained to fire on a practice range don’t say a thing about how well or reasonably one will act when one is in the shit, but being trained in avoiding or deflecting a blow and disabling or escaping from an opponent is nothing but a plus when the need arises. Unlike a weapon, it’s something one always has right at hand.

    Like other aspects of human experience, it’s skill that matters more than size.

  23. #23 ben
    January 16, 2009

    Here’s someone else’s take on Kellermann’s work. It’s the “Tail of Two Cities” study.

  24. #24 sg
    January 16, 2009

    Ben, has it occurred to you that maybe Kellermann just wanted to do research on the difference between Seattle and Vancouver? That he didn’t “want to show” anything? You really don’t know how academic research works do you? You also understand don’t you that selecting a control city for Seattle is not “cherry-picking”, right?

    But way to miss the point – there are lots of other cities with gun control laws that have lower murder rates. Picking kellermann’s study here is cherry-picking.

  25. #25 sod
    January 16, 2009

    Here’s someone else’s take on Kellermann’s work. It’s the “Tail of Two Cities” study.

    ben, you and that guy are both wrong.

    you are doing exactly, what you accuse Kellerman of doing. you take two (socio economic) similar cities and remove 12% blacks/hispanics from one of them.

    the comparison of the rest is DEEPLY FLAWED!

  26. #26 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    sg: (#120)

    Warren, how can you claim on the one hand that you need a gun for self-defense and then on the other hand say that they are “arguably” designed to kill people?

    I’m not aware of any contradiction there. The purpose of having a weapon for self-defense should be obvious; if necessary, it’s intended to put a stop to gross threat.

    Or are you hanging up on my usage of the word arguably?

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arguably

    Yes, the UK has had very strict gun control and yes, people have pointed out to you how low the gun crime rate is in the UK. Do you have a point to make besides the obvious? Or is your argument that since gun control in the UK wasn’t 100% effective, it shouldn’t be used at all.

    I was rebutting the claim by bi — IJI that there were “no facts” to support the assertion that gun-control legislation doesn’t take firearms out of the hands of criminals.

    And in answer to your question: I would like to see everyone banned from owning a gun (or, alternatively, forced into very strict licensing requirements).

    Okay, and how would you go about ensuring that your ban was successful? How would you be able to offer the assurance that everyone was in fact banned, that firearms were in the hands of no one?

    How would your licensing scheme offer the assurance that firearms would not fall into the hands of those who should not have them?

    And how do you justify taking property from the possession of law-abiding citizens?

    You’ll be unsurprised to know I also don’t think people should have access to TNT.

    I feel the same way, but we’re not discussing explosives. Honestly, is there really no way for you or others in this thread who presumably share your views to (1) remain on topic, (2) offer facts to back up your assertions, and (3) avoid using ludicrous appeals to emotionalism?

  27. #27 sod
    January 16, 2009

    look, you guys can score an occasional cheap point against those who are pro gun control, because many of them have never used a gun. but some of us have, and the truth is much worse than even statistics suggest.

    carrying a loaded gun changes your behaviour. you need to experience it, to fully understand it.

    self defence and save storage don t get along well.

    gun safety training is a handful of rules. your told them, then it is learning by practice.

    nobody can tell me, that you never experienced a “oh shit” moment while handling weapons. (forgetting it somewhere, handling errors, …)

    accidents happen.mostly nobody gets hurt (i personally witnessed multiple gun accidents)

    plenty of people who own/carry a gun, actually shouldn t. (come on, we all know one or two of those)

    alcohol and guns don t combine well. while ben and other are trying to convince us, that the majority of gun owners are saints who never drink a drop, some doubts remain…

  28. #28 ben
    January 16, 2009

    But way to miss the point – there are lots of other cities with gun control laws that have lower murder rates. Picking kellermann’s study here is cherry-picking.

    OK, like Chicago and DC? Lots of gun control. Lots of crime. How’s that working out for ya?

  29. #29 Shane
    January 16, 2009

    luminous beauty: “I prefer bow hunting. Guns suck. They’re heavy, clumsy and they make too much damn noise.”

    None of these things are true. A gun is simply a bow with the string replaced by a small amount of gunpowder. They can be small, light, and (depending on the legality of silencers in a given jurisdiction) very quiet.

    “dealing with gun waving idiots”

    I find this characterization of gun owners as fairly telling. There is a trend to demonize guns and gun owners. I really wonder where it comes from. Perhaps it is that the urban majority seems guns only in the context of crime or war and having little contact with real guns aside from Hollywood movies terms them into some kind of symbol of evil. It is this irrationality that really irks me because it makes it impossible to create decent, fair, and effective gun control measures. In Canada, there are many arbitrary and patently absurd gun control measures that have very little effect on actual crime. What it has done is increase the expense and hassle of legal firearm ownership, and further stigmatized gun owners as “gun waving idiots”.

    I own a few guns. I am not an idiot and (rarely) feel the urge to wave them. Canada does not have a huge problem with gun crime anyway (contrary to what the sensationalist media often portrays) although there was a recent armed robbery in my area with a “large wrench”. Even if CCW was legal in Canada, I doubt I would ever feel the need. The whole gun control thing is a eastern/urban irrational fear thing.

    I am completely in favor of reasonably gun control that restricts them to trained, sane, and law-abiding citizens, but these squabbles over magazine capacity or barrel length or action type is kind of silly and fueled by ignorant, fearful people. All guns are deadly weapons but if society trusts someone is responsible enough to own one type of gun, they should be able to own any type of gun. If someone cannot be trusted with a 30 round magazine, a full automatic action, or a 12″ barrel, then they should not be trusted to have anything.

  30. #30 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    luminous beauty: (#122)

    I prefer bow hunting. Guns suck. They’re heavy, clumsy and they make too much damn noise.

    They’re noisy, but they’re quick. How long does it take a bowshot prey animal to die?

    Being trained to fire on a practice range don’t say a thing about how well or reasonably one will act when one is in the shit, but being trained in avoiding or deflecting a blow and disabling or escaping from an opponent is nothing but a plus when the need arises.

    I’m not sure why you seem to feel it’s an either/or choice. And in any case, your choice of martial arts is your decision and you’re welcome to it. My choice of self-defense techniques is, similarly, my choice.

    I don’t have a problem with what you’ve chosen. In fact I’m inclined to agree that a good martial arts course can be a very empowering program of self-discipline and personal growth; yet you seem to feel entitled to not merely object to, but mock one of my decisions regarding the subject of self-defense. Doesn’t that strike you as being a little odd?

    sod: (#127)

    look, you guys can score an occasional cheap point against those who are pro gun control, because many of them have never used a gun.

    To the extent that quoted and referenced facts are “cheap points”, sure. It would be much harder to do were the other parties in this discussion in the habit of using similarly researched and referenced statements, as opposed to base appeals to emotionalism.

    I’m not sure one needs to have used a firearm to be entitled to have an opinion on them, to be fair — I’ve never gone bungee-jumping and I don’t plan to, mostly because the idea scares the hell out of me. My opinion of bungee jumpers is that they’re probably all just a little bit crazy.

    But I’m not going to try to make bungee jumping illegal because it’s something I don’t want to have any part of, done by people whom I believe to be slightly wacko. Even if it means the odds of my being hit on the head while walking under a bridge being jumped off of go up just a little bit.

    alcohol and guns don t combine well. while ben and other are trying to convince us, that the majority of gun owners are saints who never drink a drop, some doubts remain…

    I don’t think that’s ben’s tack. It’s certainly not mine. It’s drinking and carrying that don’t mix, not drinking and owning. The distinction is not a mere technicality, either.

  31. #31 luminous beauty
    January 16, 2009

    Warren,

    How would you be able to offer the assurance that everyone was in fact banned, that firearms were in the hands of no one?

    Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien, non?

    I’d be very happy if the licensing and registration requirements for gun owners and gun ownership were on a par with that for motor vehicles.

    It only makes sense, if is desirable in a society for its citizenry to embrace standards of personal responsibility, then such standards should be legally established.

    I strikes me as absurd that it’s harder to buy booze in Idaho than a gun.

  32. #32 sod
    January 16, 2009

    To the extent that quoted and referenced facts are “cheap points”, sure. It would be much harder to do were the other parties in this discussion in the habit of using similarly researched and referenced statements, as opposed to base appeals to emotionalism.

    sorry, looking at facts and stats, you guys consistently got beaten all over this topic.

    I’m not sure one needs to have used a firearm to be entitled to have an opinion on them, to be fair — I’ve never gone bungee-jumping and I don’t plan to, mostly because the idea scares the hell out of me. My opinion of bungee jumpers is that they’re probably all just a little bit crazy.

    i think you didn t understand my point. many people oppose gun ownership for wrong reasons. but the real reasons to restrict them are even WORSE than they can imagine, without gun experience…

    But I’m not going to try to make bungee jumping illegal because it’s something I don’t want to have any part of, done by people whom I believe to be slightly wacko. Even if it means the odds of my being hit on the head while walking under a bridge being jumped off of go up just a little bit.

    got some numbers and want to make a comparison?

    I don’t think that’s ben’s tack. It’s certainly not mine. It’s drinking and carrying that don’t mix, not drinking and owning. The distinction is not a mere technicality, either.

    no it isn t. i ve been to shooting ranges with strict restrictions and experienced some pretty strong violations. i have friends who do hunting. having a gun ready for self defence and several drinks at your home doesn t mix well either..

  33. #33 luminous beauty
    January 16, 2009

    Warren,

    I won’t disguise it, I think the practice of carrying a gun for self defense is a foolish decision. The risk of accident is a constant reality, whereas the risk of being attacked by bogeymen is forever hypothetical.

    Carrying a gun is a psychological fetish that imparts the feeling of security much more than a sensible practical means of ensuring one’s security.

    It all strikes me as highly paranoid, but you are welcome to your opinion.

  34. #34 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    luminous beauty: (#131)

    Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien, non?

    Fair enough. While I’ve seen accusations of disingenuous argument being leveled at me, I’ll return it against the argument that non-total disarmament is tolerable.

    The belief seems to be that because a lower proportion of citizens are armed and a lower total quantity of shootings take place, firearms-control legislation is somehow a good thing.

    The argument appears to be that fewer people get accidentally shot, and fewer gun crimes happen.

    But people still get shot, and gun crimes still happen.

    Thus, a firearms-control proponent who works with this reasoning is willing to trade a world where gun crimes occur for a world where gun crimes occur. While the total number of deaths by gunfire go down, crime isn’t ended and people are still made victims — the difference being that unless they’ve taken the requisite martial arts courses, the victims have fewer defensive options available to them.

    This is not, to my mind, an acceptable solution.

    I’d be very happy if the licensing and registration requirements for gun owners and gun ownership were on a par with that for motor vehicles.

    I wouldn’t object to that myself. As it is now, of course, if you’re buying from a gunsmith you need to pass a background check (at least in some states). Granted that’s not a perfect filter, but it’s better than nothing.

    sod: (#132)

    sorry, looking at facts and stats, you guys consistently got beaten all over this topic.

    Um, where?

    got some numbers and want to make a comparison?

    Good heavens, your irony circuit’s totally offline, isn’t it?

    As for the rest of your note — it appears to be anecdotal. Not only is it not necessarily representative of the experience of others, but it doesn’t even have documentation to back it up. That’s what would qualify as hearsay in a law court; it would be inadmissible as evidence.

  35. #35 IM
    January 16, 2009

    I actually changed my position somewhat or at least I’am more open to pro gun positions nowadays.
    Until recently I did hold the default position in Germany: Germany has strict gun laws, and a low homicide rate; the USA has a high homicide rate and very lax gun control laws. Our approach is right, the americans are crazy.

    So far so good, but then because of the wonders of the internet and a viewing of Bowling of Columbine I started to reconsider. Yes, Michael Moore is fat and all that, but Bowling actually was a quite nuanced take on gun violence in the US. He pointed out that Canada has normal first world murder rates but actually a lot of firearms per Citizens.

    So the american exception, that is murder rates more fitting of an third world country can not simply be caused by a lot of guns. And that seems to int at the limit of guncontrol as a crime reducion tool.

  36. #36 sg
    January 16, 2009

    Warren, I would ensure gun control works by, you know, enacting it in a manner similar to the societies where I have lived all my life – where gun control is very well enacted. It’s perhaps telling of your understanding of life outside your own borders that you think it’s so hard.

    And if you agree with me about TNT, how can you justify taking property from law abiding citizens?

    Ben, there are lots of other cities besides Chicago… you know, all of the UK, all of Europe, all of Australia… you really are cherry picking. And I note that all your counter-examples are suspiciously close to cities without gun control. As if, in fact, uncontrolled access to guns could be a bad thing…

  37. #37 Lance
    January 16, 2009

    Luminous Beauty,

    Like other aspects of human experience, it’s skill that matters more than size.

    Speak for yourself needle dick.

  38. #38 Warren
    January 16, 2009

    sg, I could say the same of you in re life outside of your own borders; and I’m not sure at all what you mean by, “And if you agree with me about TNT, how can you justify taking property from law abiding citizens?”

    Laws that would ban firearms in the US would have the effect of removing the property of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens. You can’t imagine that would be regarded as acceptable.

    If you’re suggesting that I’m a proponent of crime by being an opponent to gun bans, you are clearly entirely out of reasoned arguments, and we’ll have to part ways.

  39. #39 sod
    January 16, 2009

    Um, where?

    well, you could start with bens claim about the Kellerman paper: don t you think that removing blacks and Hispanics from one of the towns might change the socio economic structure a tiny little bit?

    Good heavens, your irony circuit’s totally offline, isn’t it?

    sorry, humour just isn t my thing. so can i assume that all those comparison between gun accidents and car/bicycle ones were irony as well?

    As for the rest of your note — it appears to be anecdotal. Not only is it not necessarily representative of the experience of others, but it doesn’t even have documentation to back it up. That’s what would qualify as hearsay in a law court; it would be inadmissible as evidence.

    once more, you didn t get it. of course it is anecdotal! that is the point of it!

    gun accidents without anyone getting hurt will RARELY show up in any statistics.

    you can assume that all weapons will be safely stored before a group of hunters take a drink (milk is their choice, mostly). or hang around with some hunters once in a while.

  40. #40 Bernard J.
    January 16, 2009

    Let me see if I have this figured…

    “Baggy pants don’t kill people, people who wear baggy pants kill people”

    is functionally comparable to

    “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”?

  41. #41 ben
    January 16, 2009

    I strikes me as absurd that it’s harder to buy booze in Idaho than a gun.

    Say wha? You go to the store, put down your money, buy your booze. If you look like a kid they ask for ID. If you don’t have ID, then they probably won’t sell to you, although I’ve bypassed that in my youth.

    The risk of accident is a constant reality, whereas the risk of being attacked by bogeymen is forever hypothetical.

    Both risks are real. Both risks are small.

    So far so good, but then because of the wonders of the internet and a viewing of Bowling of Columbine I started to reconsider. Yes, Michael Moore is fat and all that, but Bowling actually was a quite nuanced take on gun violence in the US. He pointed out that Canada has normal first world murder rates but actually a lot of firearms per Citizens.

    Noooo! Not that piece of garbage movie! I’ll never forgive that fat bastard for that pile of rubbish. The cartoon segment is the worst. Here’s a commenter at imdb who nails it

    You even have his little cartoon where he tries to link the NRA to the KKK… never mind that him saying the NRA was formed the same year that the KKK was declared an illegal organization is 100% wrong… never mind that the NRA was actually formed by Northern Yankee’s who fought AGAINST slavery… never mind that the NRA was primarily created in reaction to Southern laws that would ban blacks from owning firearms (the exact opposite of the cartoon’s suggestion the NRA wanted to suppress blacks and leave them defenseless)… never mind that the cartoon is a South Park rip-off, presented after an interview with South Park creator Matt Stone in order to make it seem like the cartoon was made by the creators of South Park. I mean, no wonder Matt Stone hates Moore and made him a target of insults in his “Team America: World Police” movie. Talk about complete deception from every angle.

    Moore is a rotten, lying, evil, fat bastard. Don’t even get me started on what he did to Heston. Reprehensible.

    Warren, I would ensure gun control works by, you know, enacting it in a manner similar to the societies where I have lived all my life – where gun control is very well enacted.

    You know, there was a time when Britain had gun control laws that were more lax than our own back in, IIRC, the ’30’s. Guess what, they still had a much lower homicide rate than the USA. They’ve always had a much lower homicide rate than the USA.

  42. #42 luminous beauty
    January 16, 2009

    Lance,

    Mon petit idiot,

    Your rapier wit slays me.

  43. #43 IM
    January 16, 2009

    Well, I have a different opinion. You let your Moore hate blind you. (MDS?) The movie is quite nuanced.

    “never mind that the NRA was primarily created in reaction to Southern laws that would ban blacks from owning firearms”

    Isn’t that retconning history? As far as I understand they started as small hunting and sport riflemen association, not as the forerunner of the NAACP.

    (the exact opposite of the cartoon’s suggestion the NRA wanted to suppress blacks and leave them defenseless)… never mind that the cartoon is a South Park rip-off, presented after an interview with South Park creator Matt Stone in order to make it seem like the cartoon was made by the creators of South Park.

    That isn`t exactly true either, there is some material between the two segments. Furthermore there is no thematic continuity, Stone is talkin about small town high school culture, the cartoon segment is about history.

  44. #44 Science Avenger
    January 16, 2009

    sg said: Science Avenger, the majority of Australian gun control debates centre around your points 1 and 3, because health authorities in the UK want to prevent suicides being effective, and prevent domestic violence turning deadly. So yeah, I would say those arguments have been dealt with intellectually honestly pretty regularly.

    I am glad to hear it, although I admit to not being as concerned about suicides as most. Sadly, we here in the states can’t lay claim to such a debate. Ours usually end up in the realm of, well, most of the fool things said here. The average gun control argument in the US is about on the same intellectual level as the abstinence-only birth control arguments. “With no guns there will be no gun deaths” is on the same level as “abstinence is the only 100% effective method of birth control”. They are sematic games, not serious arguments.

    Also science avenger, I would challenge you to go into any tavern in East London and declare in your most American voice that the British are a bunch of pussies because they think carrying guns is scary.

    I’m not impressed with “would you say that to their face” statements. They just reveal a lack of anything substantive to say. It’s the equivalent of punching someone as a retort to what they said (if you’re zen, OK then).

    Americans are the pussies, acting oh-so-proud and tough because they aren’t scared to carry guns, and claiming they have a “violent culture” as excuse for their irrational murder rates.

    I see you’re a fan of equivocating as well, unless “pussy” is defined radically differently in Austrailia. I can’t speak for others, but for myself I’m not saying someone is proud and tough for carrying a gun. I’m just saying the risk is nowhere near what many here seem to think it is, that their concerns border on hysterical, and the evidence is on my side.

    BTW I call the guys with weapons in their basements waiting to attack the feds paranoid loons, as well as most guys who think they need to carry a gun to protect themselves, whatever that’s worth. Our gun murder rates (aren’t most murders irrational?), they are way overrated as a national problem, amounting to about 1 American in 25,000 annually. There is simply no evidence that it is worthy of the attention we give it, on either side of the debate.

  45. #45 P. Lewis
    January 16, 2009

    I see nothing intrinsically wrong in owning a gun. If someone, anyone, wants one, then let them have one. Even an AK47 or Uzi or whatever. No problem. None at all.

    But ammunition, now that’s another matter entirely. Ban it.

    What you then have is an implement that’s no more harmful than a 2-4lb hammer. Anyone who still wants to kill someone with a gun can still do it. You just have to get up close and personal when you want to. Better still, take your actual 2lb hammer, it probably has other uses as well as a murder implement.

    Oh, you mean you want guns and ammunition?! Weird!

    From Time‘s The Gun Under Fire, Friday, Jun. 21, 1968

    Pollster George Gallup maintains that in his very first opinion sampling on gun control 34 years ago, 84% of the nation favored strong legislation. The figure has remained at or near that level ever since. Yet Congress has assiduously ignored such evidence of public opinion.

    The will was there, a long time ago. Wonder what Gallup’s latter day pollsters would return.

  46. #46 IM
    January 16, 2009

    “Our gun murder rates (aren’t most murders irrational?), they are way overrated as a national problem, amounting to about 1 American in 25,000 annually.”
    Don`t you think it would be desirable to have a murder rate in the range of other first world countries? Do you think Colombia or South Africa shouldn’t care about their murder rate either?
    And if most murders are irrational, there seem to be more irrational people in the USA than in other countries. And that is hardly a satisfying explanantion.

  47. #47 Tim Lambert
    January 16, 2009

    ben, a post of mine from 1992 [discusses the Vancouver-Seattle comparison](http://timlambert.org/1992/06/international-00016/).

  48. #48 Science Avenger
    January 16, 2009

    Luminous Beauty said: If one is unable to distinguish purpose and function, one’s judgment is unreliable as to determination of fact.

    If one focuses on theoretical purposes instead of actual function, one’s judgement is unreliable as to dealing with reality.

    Warren said: Honestly, is there really no way for you or [gun control] to (1) remain on topic, (2) offer facts to back up your assertions, and (3) avoid using ludicrous appeals to emotionalism?

    No Warren, there isn’t. They can’t make a straightforward, logically sound, statistically accurate argument, which is why they have to gallop around like ID proponents from one silly argument to another. See any post by Luminous Beauty above, who bounces from non sequitor to non sequitor.

  49. #49 Science Avenger
    January 16, 2009

    “IM said: And if most murders are irrational, there seem to be more irrational people in the USA than in other countries. And that is hardly a satisfying explanantion.”

    You obviously didn’t watch our last election. More seriously, it strikes me as very self-serving that nonAmericans rightly criticize us for being the idiot nation that we are (remember the education statistics), yet when it serves your political purposes, we are supposed to assume we are just like everyone else.

    Well we aren’t. Deal.

  50. #50 ben
    January 16, 2009

    IM, the first time I saw the stupid cartoon I thought it was the work of the South Park guys because it looks just like their stuff. It’s a total rip-off.

    Pollster George Gallup maintains that in his very first opinion sampling on gun control 34 years ago, 84% of the nation favored strong legislation. The figure has remained at or near that level ever since. Yet Congress has assiduously ignored such evidence of public opinion.

    And the general public is just as ignorant about guns and gun-laws now as they were then. They don’t know the laws on the books already. They think an “assault weapon” is a machine gun. Etc.

  51. #51 Lurkbot
    January 16, 2009

    I am really tired of the whole gun control argument and I don’t want to get into the actual specifics of it. It all comes down to what it means to live in a civilized society, and the gun proponents and I are never going to agree on that, so fine.

    It’s undoubtedly true that everyone has a right to defend themselves, and if in the US, we’ve decided the only way to guarantee that is to allow anyone to carry firearms that are designed for no other purpose than to: Kill. People. i.e.handguns, guns with no military utility whatsoever; can we at least agree that, pace the NRA, neither the 2nd Amendment (with its “well-regulated militia” to ensure the security of the STATE) nor the Declaration’s language about “taking up arms and changing” the government, have anything to do with the matter one way or the other? Because to me, that’s the most annoying feature of this whole dispute.

  52. #52 IM
    January 16, 2009

    “More seriously, it strikes me as very self-serving that nonAmericans rightly criticize us for being the idiot nation that we are (remember the education statistics), yet when it serves your political purposes, we are supposed to assume we are just like everyone else.”
    Just like everyone else would be one thing, being the country with the third-world numbers among the rich countries is something different. And the US not that bad in the education statistics, so that explanation falls flat. And what do you mean, my political purposes? I did not claim it was just a gun thing.

    “Well we aren’t. Deal.”
    That sounds like just because.

  53. #53 ben
    January 16, 2009

    we’ve decided the only way to guarantee that is to allow anyone to carry firearms that are designed for no other purpose than to: Kill. People.

    Tell that to all the pistol hunters. Tell that to all the target shooters. Tell that to all the police. The police, btw, are not trained to kill people with their pistols, the police are trained to stop them.

    i.e.handguns, guns with no military utility whatsoever; can we at least agree that…

    No, tell that to all the soldiers who carry pistols. Pretty much every and any weapon has military utility. Some are simply better than others, depending on the situation.

  54. #54 Lurkbot
    January 16, 2009

    Police: meh. In Italy they get along fine with carabinieri, why can’t we? (As a bonus, a carbine is much more accurate, and there’s no earthly advantage to a pistol now that they’ve got everybody firing them two-handed.)

    Again, the military use for handguns are as officers’ sidearms. Their purpose is to shoot any of your men who try to run away in the back. If officers need a status symbol, but are too good to carry rifles and do something useful, let them go back to sabers.

  55. #55 Art
    January 16, 2009

    On one hand legal concealed carry, at least for me, isn’t done to effect the crime rate in the nation, state or locality. Carrying is a matter of lowering both the number, and success, of serious crimes in my immediate vicinity.

    On the other hand there is in fact a simple mechanism by which RTC laws can increase the rate of violent crime. Most people who pursue a CC permit get fairly deep into the gun culture and purchase far more guns than they can carry at any one time. Any gun not carried is at risk of being stolen and ending being used in a crime. Guns are second only to cash or drugs in term of attractiveness to thieves.

    A good proportion of the guns used in crimes have been stolen. Another good bit are sold to dealers or pawn shops when the owner gets old, dies or hits some financial dire strait. This provides a steady supply of discount firearms that further feeds the desire of criminals to have guns. Cheap guns, particularly handguns, get sold and change hands many times before they stop functioning. Even a cheap handgun can last for decades. A quality firearm generations. Along the way these used guns tend to gravitate toward areas, like NYC, where gun prohibitions keep their resale value on the black market high.

  56. #56 luc
    January 16, 2009

    The stats from Canada are old, there are shootings in the three major cities almost every weekend, well except during this cold snap, must be keeping the criminals in ice a different way.
    Look I grew up with guns, rifles specifically, in the home.
    Every kid by age 12 knew how to handle a rifle and KNEW better than to mess with them. It’s how we were taught.
    Now I’m not a farmer, but I still have a firearm and before you go off like a bullet, you folks that don’t live in big cities have never experienced a rabid wildlife attack have you? Now we HAVE to have a permit, while my heritage comes from hunters and trappers, well guess what? We keep the rifle safe but ready, not to shoot someone but to protect ourselves and our domestic animals.
    There is literally a rifle at every single home of my relatives and no one has been shot accidentally.
    About 20 years ago some asshole killed 14 woman at a Montreal university, since then the gun banning nuts have made it expensive here for law biding gun owners. AND they didn’t even get the automatic rifle that that scum bag used banned. So what’s the point? More knifes will be used to kill – or some other way, like bombs, or mass poisonings…face it if some maniac wants to kill in mass or otherwise they will find a way, like blowing themselves up along with their innocent victims and there won’t be a gun in sight, does that make you anti-gun people happy?
    More people and children included, are killed on the roadways from stupid and bad drivers than guns accidents.

  57. #57 Lee
    January 16, 2009

    I live in Oakland, California. I love this city – it has an extraordinary vibrant alternative arts and music community, and an open and friendly cultural diversity that I love. On the block I live on, alone, there are families speaking 9 different first languages – and we all know each other. It’s wonderful.

    We also have a terrible, tragic problem with gun violence, much of it tied to gang culture and the huge profits in drug dealing that are so strongly subsidized by our national policy of drug prohibition. Also tied to the fact that a LOT of guns end up in criminal hands.

    I also own guns – 11 of them – and believe that gun ownership is a LIMITED, LIMITABLE constitutional right in this country, and should be so. This is more or less what the recent Supreme Court decision says, too.

    Here are gun laws I think we need that we don’t currently have, and a rationale for them.

    Many of the guns that end up on the streets here in Oakland are obtained illegally- and it is thought that they mostly come from relatively few pipelines.

    One major pipeline is guns stolen during burglaries, usually bedstand handguns kept there for home defense. It turns out that guns that are easily available to use for home defense, are also highly vulnerable to being taken during a burglary – and this directly feeds street violence. Personally, I’d like to see negligence laws targeted at this – if I own a gun, I am responsible for keeping it adequately secured so that a simple burglary of my home doesn’t put it in the hands of gangbangers.

    A second pipeline is guns bought legally, then sold illegally to the street gangs, and then if the gun is traced back to the purchaser after recovery from a crime, reported stolen. A gun owner was recently arrested here in Oakland, when a 3rd crime gun was traced back to him, constituting his third alleged loss by burglary – none of which he reported until the gun was traced to him. But he was caught by luck, because traceability of crime guns is impeded by law (I’m serious) in this country. More on this just below.

    And a third, – at least partially closed recently by the arrest of the FFL involved – was a major rogue licensed firearms dealer. He also was not caught until many, many guns he bought and sold were recovered from crime, many of them in the possession of felons who should not have been able to purchase them. Again, lack of gun traceabilty meant he only got caught when, by chance, an individual detective in San Jose was working several gun crimes and they all went back to that one FFL dealer.

    What is the traceability issue? Firearms dealers are required to keep records of who they sell to – on paper, maintained locally. Wholesalers are required to keep records of the dealers they sell to – in their offices,locally. Manufacturers are required to keep records of the wholesalers and distributors they sell to – in their office, locally. It is ILLEGAL (with some recent limited exceptions) to maintain a comprehensive national database that would allow one to analyze flow patterns of gun sales.

    What this means is that if a gun is recovered from a crime, the detectives contact the manufacturer, who will tell them the wholesaler they sold it to. The detective contacts the wholesaler, who will tell them the retailer they sold to. The detective contacts the retailer, who tells them the individual they sold to.

    There is no way to see, in this structure, that more than 40 crime guns recovered in Oakland in a 5 year period, and another 15 from San Jose, all trace to the same gun retailer. The information for each crime gun rests -BY LAW- with that single investigation or single law enforcement organization. And that means that the only way the rogue dealer got caught, was when by luck a single detective noticed that several guns traced to the same dealer, and he put out word with other detectives in the Bay Area and found that other guns had traced to the same guy.

    What we need is a searchable database, tying together by serial number, gun sales from manufacturer, to wholesaler, to dealer – keep a cutout at the level of paper records at the dealer, to protect the owner’s privacy. That database should also include a tag if the gun is recovered from a crime – so that one can do a simple search to see if there are problem clusters in that flow.

  58. #58 Lee
    January 17, 2009

    This is an anecdote, but a revealing one on the concept of concealed carry, I think.

    Early last year, Oakland had a rash of armed takeover robberies of restaurants. My family and I were caught in one of the first of them, at a midscale Vietnamese restaurant.

    Basically, my wife and I, our son and daughter, were halfway through dinner when my wife suddenly quietly said “we’re being robbed.” I looked up – three guys with handguns were inside the door. One went to the register, the other two hit every table in the place. They never said a word, they were in and out in 3 minutes, with every wallet and purse in the place and every dollar from the cash register.

    There was one moment when I feared it might turn ugly. The people at the table just behind me noticed what was happening, and one woman screamed ‘oh god, oh god,’ and I heard her chair scraping as she pushed back. The two armed robbers I could see both turned toward her, with their guns pointing the direction they were looking – and my wife and I were both whispering ‘calm, calm……’ and she calmed down enough not to panic and jump up.

    There was another moment just after that, a moment I have occasional nightmares about. One of them came to our table, and as I handed him my wallet his gun came between me and my 9 year old son, obscuring his lower face and leaving only his terrified eyes looking at me over the frame of the gun. It was a moment of blinding rage – I wanted to tear the f**kers throat out and dance in his blood – that was MY SON he was threatening. And I bit it down, and stayed calm, calm – get it over with without trouble and let them get out of here.

    They were in and gone in 3 minutes.

    What does this have to do with concealed carry? Just this – thank god no one in the place tried to defend himself with a gun – because it would almost certainly have ended up a hell of a lot worse than it was.

  59. #59 luc
    January 17, 2009

    What if there was a CWC at Val Tech?
    Might have saved some young lives, instead of the very high number of 30…
    But as I understand it, the campus is a ‘gun free’ zone.

  60. #60 elspi
    January 17, 2009

    “Every kid by age 12 knew how to handle a rifle and KNEW better than to mess with them. It’s how we were taught. Now I’m not a farmer, but I still have a firearm and before you go off like a bullet, you folks that don’t live in big cities have never experienced a rabid wildlife attack have you? Now we HAVE to have a permit, while my heritage comes from hunters and trappers, well guess what? We keep the rifle safe but ready, not to shoot someone but to protect ourselves and our domestic animals. ”

    As someone who grew up on a farm in the middle of BFE, let me assure you that every single word of the above is crap.

    “KNEW better than to mess with them.”

    JHC the only thing that kept the number of shooting death down where I lived was the fact that there weren’t any people to shoot.
    We shot every thing that moved and most things that didn’t.

    “never experienced a rabid wildlife attack have you?”
    no, as a matter of fact I HAVEN’T…
    Neither did anyone else in a 400 mile radius of where I was when I was growing up.
    Granted there weren’t that many people living a 400 mile radius of me, but you get the idea.

    If you wanted to claim that you needed a rifle to protect your animals from coyotes or even bears, I would have understood, but RABID WILDLIFE?????????
    Were the hell are you living, in the Old Yeller set???????

    Just to be fair to the pro-gun folks, coyotes do kill a hell of a lot of lambs and calves and it is understandable the the ranchers want an easy way of killing them, but RABID WILDLIFE WTF?????.

  61. #61 luc
    January 17, 2009

    elspi I’m from northern Ontario, ever heard of it? We hunt moose and other wild game up here every fall.
    Every seen a 35 – 40 lb rabid raccoon attack a yard dog?
    Coyotes and foxes not afraid of you on a walk on your property, stalking you as you make you way back to the house? Bears, easily provoked will attack whether they have rabies or not. There are two kinds the Black bear and the Brown bear, the Black bear is the more dangerous of the two in my old stomping grounds.
    Rabies is a huge problem there in some years.
    Look it up.
    You’re so sure you know what you’re talking about, eh?
    You grew up in my household too? You know for sure what I did, saw or was taught as a kid?

    And what’s with all these ‘???’ and ‘!!!’, easily excitable or what?
    Neighbouring towns were not 400 miles away, 40 maybe, but not 400 miles, try to read up a little more about your northern neighbours before you assume again.

  62. #62 Rory Tate
    January 17, 2009

    Ben (on Mexico):

    And their gun + non-gun homicide rates make the USA look like fluffy bunny land

    Fluffy bunny land? Funny…and for some reason the Simpsons and Germany as the land of chocolate just popped into my head. That poor, cute chocolate dog… :-)

    Seriously though, your sense of scale is way off the charts here. This is not an argument for mislabeling Mexico as “third world”, and only further perpetuates a harmful stereotype that also gets lofted unfairly at the US.

    Science Avenger:

    Back at you Rory Tate. I’ve never seen a gun control advocate deal intellectually honestly with the demographic data by age, and gender which shows quite clearly that:

    1) The bulk of risk of death from guns is from suicide.

    Bulk is a bit too strong of a term to compare 17000 suicides to 12000 homicides, which are the actual numbers on the page you reference. You should reword this to be more clear (and do the same with your second and third points as well): “Suicides contributed more strongly to gun deaths in 2001 than homicides for the same period”. This is even more interesting in contrast to an excerpt from Krug 1998:

    Suicide and homicide contribute equally to total firearm deaths in the US, but most firearm deaths are suicides (71%) in HI countries and homicides (72%) in UMI countries.

    (Note: HI stands for High Income, and UMI is Upper Middle Income.) I don’t really want to start a “my source is better than your source” debate, especially when neither of us is likely qualified to decide. But just so you know of other information…from my standpoint, the waters seem very muddy when comparing suicide to homicide rates, even when just focusing on the US.

    So given the fact that the gun death problem is so highly concentrated in certain demographics (the suicidal, the young, the male, and the mentally unhealthy), and virtually nonexistent for everyone else, why doesn’t our public policy concentrate on those groups, rather than attempting to restrict everyone’s freedoms? Why use a legislative ax when a scalpel is clearly called for?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the case of homicides, aren’t you suggesting here that we keep the gun out of the hands of the person who was murdered? I don’t see any demographics for those wielding the guns.

    And what do you mean by “virtually non-existent”? Does the gun death toll only become one in a million? I’m interested in seeing the actual number behind that claim, because there still seems to be a lot of gun deaths left over to go around. Your use of descriptive language (i.e. “bulk”) seeks to interpret the numbers for me, and that kind of perception bias needs to be removed before we can get on the same page.

    Overall, your scalpel idea does not make sense as a response to the extremely broad demographic you have to accept (and even that group — comprising over 50% of the population as it does — seems small to me…these are OR’s that you use above, right?…you aren’t looking only for young, suicidal, mentally unhealthy males, and no one else?). The idea doesn’t work from a practical standpoint either. For example, if just 10% of the population were allowed to have guns, they still begin to spread into the remaining 90% through robbery of businesses and homes, black market activities, lost property, ebay, etc. Your scalpel can’t simply cut away something that resembles a social cancer. There are very complex social and economic interactions that are involved. That idea just wouldn’t work to fix the problem, to say nothing at all of the issue of equal rights and freedoms it would raise.

    Dunc:

    Sorry Rory, but that’s not a robust line of reasoning. It’s entirely possible that there is a third, independent factor (for example, a rampant culture of raving paranoia) which drives both the higher rate of gun violence and the higher rate of gun ownership. That hypothesis is extremely difficult to exclude, as far as I can see.

    I must admit that I wrote a few paragraphs in response, then re-read what you were saying and rewrote another response, went back to edit, and now finally just erased the whole thing because I can’t seem to get my head around this. I do think your factor has merit, but I didn’t say that other factors should be excluded — or maybe that’s the way it read? My problem in formulating a response to what you said may be that you linked — at an intrinsic level — the factor of paranoid culture and gun “circulation”, whereas I just focused on gun “circulation” alone compared to gun deaths.

    Maybe I just need to find the right question…crap, my head hurts too much. Maybe tomorrow morning…

    On another note, the idea that guns can be used to defend yourself without killing is just silly. If defense were truly the motive for those trying to argue otherwise, a combination of self-defense training and some pepper spray/stun gun/Taser combo would suffice. If you think this doesn’t work, please leave your inadequacy issues at the door and try to consider it objectively.

    There is only one way a gun can ever be safe: if it is never fired.

  63. #63 Rory Tate
    January 17, 2009

    My apologies, just had to add the following after reading a bit more…

    If culture change is the solution to the problem of gun deaths (though I personally favour gun control), then let’s finally stop equating guns with personal freedom. Freedoms are the things I was born with — the right of speech, and of movement/residence, and the ability to relate with anyone I choose. To live however I want so long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else and their ability to live their life. A gun is an object of death, and is the very opposite of life, and of freedom. Unfortunately, that culture change results in the exact same outcome as gun control (i.e. gun ownership becomes very rare), so it probably wouldn’t be accepted any more easily.

  64. #64 ben
    January 17, 2009

    What does this have to do with concealed carry? Just this – thank god no one in the place tried to defend himself with a gun – because it would almost certainly have ended up a hell of a lot worse than it was.

    If I had been there and had had a gun, I would have sat there and handed over my wallet and done nothing more. UNLESS THE BAD GUYS STARTED HURTING PEOPLE AND/OR SHOOTING. At which point I bet you’d be wishing “oh crap, I hope someone here was carrying a concealed weapon!”

    Freedoms are the things I was born with — the right of speech, and of movement/residence, and the ability to relate with anyone I choose. To live however I want so long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else and their ability to live their life.

    You forgot about the right to defend oneself and their loved ones and their property from thugs. How’s a small weak person supposed to do that when confronted by a large strong person? Just ask “please don’t rape me”?

  65. #65 Lurkbot
    January 17, 2009

    Lee: I’m gratified that this frightening incident turned out as well as it did, and I understand your anger at the time. It is indeed fortunate that someone didn’t have a concealed gun and decided to be a hero.

    Unfortunately, if they had, and the perpetrators were all killed or at least arrested, and there were any survivors among the customers and staff, you would be forced to listen to this fool being hailed as a “hero” for the rest of your life.

    Three years ago, there was a [shooting incident](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacoma_Mall_shooting) at the Tacoma Mall. Most accounts you will read are derived from the Wikipedia article I linked to, which is extremely inaccurate.

    Go to the Seattle Times archives, however, and the article I read the next day has unfortunately disappeared down the memory hole. It fisked the narrative that the “armed citizen” who tried to intervene and got himself shot and paralyzed for his pains was any kind of hero. He was a well-known Rambo wannabe gun nut who finally saw his opportunity to be a movie hero and in fact precipitated the entire incident.

    That kind of thing can’t be allowed to remain in the public consciousness, however, and Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth has done his job admirably.

    Again, congratulations to you and your family on coming out of a terrifying situation at least alive and uninjured.

  66. #66 luc
    January 17, 2009

    Ben exactly what I was thinking… what do they do? Hand to hand combat with someone twice their size and strength, who are bent on doing criminal or horrible things to them, or watch it happen to a family member? Pull a knife on someone who will only over power them physically? Ask them to wait while the police are called?
    “An object of death = gun”… So is a coffin, hearse, obit notices, knifes, food/medication allergies, cars, stairs, balconies, elevators, heck even adult beds for babies, apparently.
    Guns aren’t going to go away, like the Pandora’s box, can’t undo this. Until the criminals are mush less numerous and less armed, I’ll view guns as objects of ‘opportunity of life’ for a would be victim not otherwise able to protect themselves from impending harm.

    “We shot every thing that moved and most things that didn’t.”
    Posted by: elspi

    Further more, upon a self imposed second scanning of your rants, I ascertain you never got over your knee-jerk excitable responses to stimuli then.

  67. #67 Lee
    January 17, 2009

    ben, define “hurting people.”

    In one of the other takeover robberies, the “bad guys” got upset because there was no cash in the register, just a bunch of credit card receipts. They grabbed the man working the register, held a gun to his head, and terrorized him for a couple minutes. Then they left, with no one physically hurt. The restaurant security video was on the news and made Utube.

    ben, do you have the initial and ongoing training to trust yourself to make the right call here? I don’t. Hell, I don’t trust cops to make that call, but at least they get regular training in such things – and individual cops still fuck up regularly. Remember, you may be acting under the influence of fear, anger, rage, with inadequate information. If you have individually have the stuff to make that right call reliably, what about other people with concealed carry guns?

  68. #68 Lee
    January 17, 2009

    I also grew up in a house where there was a loaded gun kept handy to defend against marauding wildlife – ground squirrels bent on raiding the family garden. My mom was a crack shot when defending her tomatoes and zucchini against the ravening hordes of rodents.

    I have seen several rabid raccoons, victims of a major rabies outbreak that moved up the east coast and took out 90% or so of the raccoons, in the early -90s while I was at grad school and living in the western suburbs of of Boston.One knew they were rabid because they were slow, unsteady, confused, fell frequently, and were out in the middle of the day in broad daylight. Frankly, I was more concerned about the healthy raccoons that would congregate at the back door trying to get at the trash cans, and block my entry to the house when I got home from the lab at 10 at night.

    elspi, I agree – the ‘defending from rabid wildlife’ bit made me laugh.

    That said, neighbors when I was growing up did frequently use guns to defend their livestock from animals – almost always sheep being attacked by domestic dogs, as town folk moved to the country and didn’t adequately control their dogs. There were lots of coyotes about – we frequently heard them, NEVER saw them. Wildlife biologists tell me there were lots of foxes – I saw one., once. And I was hunting, out in the field trying to be invisible and see everything there.

    There were also black bears. We ‘defended’ ourselves from them by using bear proof trash containers, and making noise when walking casually through the country. And rattlesnakes – when friends or relatives with kids came to visit, we would take the kids out and show them a rattlesnake – it never took more than 15-20 minutes to find one. And free-range cattle,including bulls – probably the most dangerous animals out there. A bull once put me up a tree when I was 11-12, and kept me there for a few hours when he bedded down at the base of the tree.

    In spite of all this dangerous wildlife, as kids we used to leave the house in the morning to play, sometimes go miles, and often not get home until nightfall. It simply was not that risky.

    And Ive already mentioned what I think about the claim that kids respect guns…

  69. #69 ben
    January 17, 2009

    Go to the Seattle Times archives, however, and the article I read the next day has unfortunately disappeared down the memory hole. It fisked the narrative that the “armed citizen” who tried to intervene and got himself shot and paralyzed for his pains was any kind of hero. He was a well-known Rambo wannabe gun nut who finally saw his opportunity to be a movie hero and in fact precipitated the entire incident.

    Right, just like when Maldonado tried to blame McKown for the shooting. WTF?

    ben, do you have the initial and ongoing training to trust yourself to make the right call here? I don’t.

    Do you have any “training”? I have some. I practice with my pistol regularly. If you have a gun in that situation, yes, you will have to make a decision. If you do not have a gun in that situation, you will not have to make any decisions. Does that make you feel better?

  70. #70 Lee
    January 17, 2009

    ben, you didn’t answer the question:
    “…to trust yourself to make the right call here?”

    So you have some training. Do you trust your self to make the right call? As important, do I and everyone else who might be affected by your decision, have reason to trust you to make the right call? What about everyone else with CC permits? It only takes one person to make a bad choice, to get a lot of people killed.

    And i already answered your final snarky questions:
    “…you will not have to make any decisions. Does that make you feel better?”
    I’ve already made a decision – that with my temperament, initial training, or ability to keep up with ongoing training, I don’t trust my ability to make the right decision in such a situation. Does that make me feel better? Not particularly – but its an honest evaluation of my training and capabilities.

    What reason do I have to trust your decision making, ben?

  71. #71 Lurkbot
    January 17, 2009

    Right, just like when Maldonado tried to blame McKown for the shooting. WTF?

    This had nothing to do with anything Maldonado said in court months later. It was the very next day. The reporter talked to many people at the mall who knew McKown and had been subjected to his diatribes. Undoubtedly the paper received enough pressure from his family and/or the gun lobby to ensure that the true story wasn’t retained in the online archive. I’ll try to go to the library tomorrow and find a hard copy, but I’m not hopeful. And you wouldn’t take my word for it anyway, because it doesn’t jibe with your ideology.

  72. #72 Lurkbot
    January 17, 2009

    And oh, yes: I’m sure the gun Maldonado managed to get shouldn’t have been banned because it’s not a “real” assault rifle. However, since it managed to allow a scared kid to pump five rounds into a “trained, experienced” handgun user who had the drop on him, it’ll do till the real thing comes along.

  73. #73 Bernard J.
    January 17, 2009

    See, in Australia the tally would have been 0, or at worst maybe one or two, because it would be very unlikely that such an individual would have access to anything other than a .22, and even then it would not be easy.

    As far as I can discern, there is (and has been, in the past) little or no need for the average Australian citizen to carry a concealed weapon. Indeed, if one looks at most of the gun crime that we have had here, a concealed weapon would have been as good as useless in most cases, and most likely would have been a tragic complication.

  74. #74 Bernard J.
    January 17, 2009

    Weird. Somehow the original quote:

    What if there was a CWC at Val Tech? Might have saved some young lives, instead of the very high number of 30… But as I understand it, the campus is a ‘gun free’ zone.

    evaporated from the beginning of my post at #173.

    Oops.

  75. #75 sg
    January 17, 2009

    For all those arguing with Ben about his self-defense gun training, he admitted to me in a verrrrry long thread some time ago that he can’t guarantee he would accurately predict the bad guys in advance, i.e. that his concealed-carrying bears with it a certain risk of slaying (black) innocents; and that in most cases he wouldn’t get a chance to draw anyway. He’s just blowing smoke here.

    Anyone with any sense knows you can’t pull any kind of weapon on your attackers unless a) they are very very stupid or b) the weapon is already in your hand. Usually they king hit you from behind. Most rapists don’t walk up to their target from 10m away waving a gun and yelling “I’m about to commit a crime”. This belief that you can defend yourself with a gun is just macho posturing. The only time guns are a valid form of self defense is in a longish-range shopping-mall shoot-out scenario, which scenario is clearly best avoided by banning guns, as clearly seen from the rates of mass shootings in different countries.

    Warren, a while back I got into a slanging match about “pussies”. This is because someone other than me started with the “you guys are pussies for being scared of guns” rant; go back and check it out. I’m entitled to be abusive to people who are abusive, if not why would anyone bother commenting on blogs? The “say it to their face” logic was part of the same response. I don’t know if I’m scared of guns or not – I’ve lived in 4 countries but I’ve never seen one(and stuff that in your pipe too Warren – I Know a fair bit about what goes on outside my borders).

  76. #76 sg
    January 17, 2009

    BEN! We haven’t had a good argument over guns for ages, this is kind of fun.

    But I have to say, you really are wrong about Michael Moore. If you had taken the red rag off your eyes when (if!) you were watching his movie you would know that the central thesis of the movie is not “ban guns”. It is “guns don’t kill people, people do”. He spends a lot of time pointing out that Canada has a much lower gun crime rate than the US even though it has lots of guns.

    Bowling for Columbine is part of a bigger story arc he is running, which is primarily about how America is paranoid and fucked up. It segues perfectly into Sicko.

    In short, you should get out more, you know, watch the movie instead of seeing excerpts on the NRA website. And you should ask yourself why the NRA opposes a movie which supports their basic principle? Could it be because the NRA is the ultimate enemy of lower class white Americans’ interests, while Mike Moor is an ally of those same interests…?

  77. #77 ben
    January 17, 2009

    Also science avenger, I would challenge you to go into any tavern in East London and declare in your most American voice that the British are a bunch of pussies because they think carrying guns is scary.

    Right, the tough guys in the bar don’t have to much to fear. But tell that to the people they disarmed who cannot defend themselves when confronted by one these tough guys.

  78. #78 sg
    January 17, 2009

    yeah Ben, because the morally correct thing to do when someone punches you in the face after you insulted them is to shoot them.

    Perhaps a little less 24 and a little more real life would do you some good…

  79. #79 ben
    January 17, 2009

    For all those arguing with Ben about his self-defense gun training, he admitted to me in a verrrrry long thread some time ago that he can’t guarantee he would accurately predict the bad guys in advance, i.e. that his concealed-carrying bears with it a certain risk of slaying (black) innocents;

    You don’t shoot if you don’t know.

    …and that in most cases he wouldn’t get a chance to draw anyway. He’s just blowing smoke here.

    I remember this argument and I remember agreeing that if someone came up from behind and put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger that I’d probably be dead. I didn’t concead that in general I’d not get a chance to draw. Your hypothetical situation was very specific and dumb.

    If you had taken the red rag off your eyes when (if!) you were watching his movie you would know that the central thesis of the movie is not “ban guns”.

    I know this. He’s still a fat liar. Virtually everything he said or insinuated about the NRA was a lie.

  80. #80 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 17, 2009

    sg, if you had been beaten by criminals so badly that you couldn’t walk for three days, or kidnapped and tortured by criminals — as I have — you’d be paranoid, too.

  81. #81 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 17, 2009

    luc, guns and knives are not equivalent. In areas that have experienced effective gun bans, murder rates went down about 50% and aggravated assault rates went up about 80%. There were fewer fatalities, because a gunshot is much more likely to be a sure kill than a knife stab. And a lot of people can fight back against a knife, but few against a gun. If the Montreal killer had used only a knife, I seriously doubt he would have been able to kill 14 people before somebody stopped him.

    Note that I am not for banning guns. But this particular argument against banning them doesn’t work.

  82. #82 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 17, 2009

    lee at #157 — that is an EXCELLENT idea, and I hope people listen to you about it. Please continue to promote it. Being able to take out the “powderhorns” and other suppliers of weapons to violent criminals would help a lot.

  83. #83 luminous beauty
    January 17, 2009
  84. #84 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 17, 2009

    sg writes:

    Most rapists don’t walk up to their target from 10m away waving a gun and yelling “I’m about to commit a crime”. This belief that you can defend yourself with a gun is just macho posturing.

    I have been struck from behind. I have also been gradually approached and cut off, several times. The latter happened more often. In those cases, carrying would have saved me some beatings.

    sg, what kind of community do you live in that no one ever attacks anybody? I want to move there. In Pittsburgh, fights, armed robberies, rapes, kidnappings, and murders happen quite frequently. People are not paranoid for wanting to protect themselves against real danger. I think every human being on Earth has the GOD-GIVEN RIGHT to defend themselves from attack, and reasoning from that premise, I think they should be able to own firearms for that purpose absent special circumstances. That doesn’t mean I want private citizens to own machine guns, but I really do think a complete ban on guns would be a violation of peoples’ rights.

  85. #85 sg
    January 17, 2009

    BPL, currently I live near Tottenham in London, in one of the medium-dangerous areas of London. My partner witnessed a stabbing in her first week in the house, and I’ve passed multiple crime scenes. Before that in Australia I lived in Redfern, one street away from a series of signs warning about car-jackings. My partner lived for a while in Elizabeth Bay, an “exclusive” suburb where she was mugged by 2 guys. They broke her glasses and robbed her. Had she been armed, knowing there were dodgy people behind her, is it possible one of them could have been killed? Better she got robbed, I think.

    The places I live are not safe. But one thing everything here knows is that no-one they deal with has a gun, and everyone here feels safer for that (and when I say everyone, in the UK that means pretty much exactly that). On new year’s eve this year I was on the fringes (by accident!) of two brawls between gangs of men. If they had been armed, in a crowd of a million people, the consequences would have been awful. Maybe you don’t realise this, but British people aren’t actually very nice or very gentle – in general they’re a bunch of degenerate thugs. Arming them up would make this place even more of a cess-pool than it already is.

    Also BPL, i don’t want to burst your bubble, but no-one has “god-given rights” and I don’t want anyone legislating for me a society where you have your God’s rights. I prefer to look at issues of personal safety and who gets to have what lethal device from a more practical standpoint.

  86. #86 luminous beauty
    January 17, 2009

    Barton,

    Whether god given right or not, people will naturally desire to defend themselves from harm.

    From my limited understanding, it is when people oppose the trepidations of harm by intending harm on those who would harm them that people stray from the divine, causing strife conflict and confusion in the world.

    It is only by not returning harm with harm, that harm may be stilled in the world, and God’s Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

    Or so I understand. I’m not God.

  87. #87 z
    January 17, 2009

    “I have a sign on the door of my business that the owner of the place keeps a firearm.” etc.

    that is actually proof that signs prevent crime.

  88. #88 z
    January 17, 2009

    “Have I committed a crime?” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshihiro_Hattori

    ah this takes me back. i first encountered the esteemed dr. lambert during the neverending usenet gun wars, prior to mary rosh’s impressive debut.

    anyway, i went around this a while ago, but since everybody else gets to make their point…

    i don’t think the data really reliably goes one way or the other. from which i conclude that the effect is secondary to things like demographics. no surprise.

    you can see a priori that evaluating murders, firearm or not, by gun law in the US is futile, because guns have a pretty high rate of diffusion. the government of NYC has recently been in the news, tracing guns recovered from crime sites to a surprisingly small number of gun vendors in the nonrestrictive gun states. if you attempt to use guns per capita instead of gun laws, you’re pretty much waving your hands vaguely.

    where there’s a clear negative effect of guns is domestic violence and suicide, where a momentary impulse become fatal. in the US we don’t investigate either of these much, firearm or no firearm, as they are tacitly considered your own business, unlike shooting up a mall which fascinates us.

    i don’t think dismissing adolescent suicides as nothing we should attempt to discourage is a good attitude.

    michael moore, as much as some hate him, did in fact find that the difference in murder rates between the US and Canada is less a function of gun availability and more of some sort of demographic/cultural variable.

    aside from the domestic violence suicide question, both sides need to focus more on the question of gun availability to Bad People.

    and as i mentioned before, the US has a ringer in the form of the second amendment, which, though i disagree with it (particularly in the world of today, even if it might have made sense in 1776) and have stewed over it for a long time, is nevertheless part of the US constitution and cannot be disregarded or bypassed, and i’m not one to advocate following the letter of the law while violating its intent in some fashion. of course, the constitution is amenable to amendment, but if that would happen it would follow the national debate on firearms and not precede it.

    what i would recommend: close the loophole allowing homicidal maniacs with ten murders in their past to buy firearms from private individuals. without making the background check too onerous as a backhanded means of punishment.

    based on NYC’s results described above, investigate and prosecute retail establishments who specialize in selling firearms to those proscribed by law, via straw buyers, etc.

    and, now we’re into debatable territory: allow temporary confiscation of weapons in domestic violence or stalker type situations, overseen by a court. such a thing has been in place in connecticut for a few years and generally worked out. it does, of course, have the potential for abuse and the next thing you know hitler will take away all the jews’ guns.

    anecdote seen in the newspaper in calgary, canada a few years ago: the author reports sitting in a cafe while the men at the next table were complaining about how they weren’t allowed to bring their firearms across the border and what a bunch of intrusive busybodies the government was. he became more and more irritated and was about to go over and tell them that canada did not share the American fascination with firearms and they could just go back south of the border if they were that attached to their guns, when he suddenly realized they were canadians, talking about how they had been prevented from bringing their rifles into the US to do some hunting. (probably more of a customs thing than a law and order thing)

  89. #89 z
    January 17, 2009

    oh yeah, forgotten from my rant:

    in any event, it’s unnecessary and even somewhat troubling to see the emphasis on “more guns less crime”. unnecessary because the US tends to be a fairly liberal place that lets you do what you feel like as long as it isn’t a serious danger to all (unless you’re gay of course), so emphasizing the more reliable finding that the studies aren’t showing a solid risk to society of more guns is more to the point. (even without the second amendment as a background) For instance, you are allowed to keep and walk around with a large dog with big pointy teeth, or even several, in the absence of particular evidence that said dog or dogs is risky, even in the knowledge that many people a year are injured from dog bites. you don’t need to establish that the dogs keep you safe, even though that’s often true.

    it’s also insufficient to prove that; for instance, people who construct deadly booby traps to protect themselves and their property are routinely prosecuted, despite these being as conceptually effective at deterring crime as the owner being armed would be.

    it’s troubling, because it reveals a real streak of vigilante or hero wanna-beism which is something you really don’t want to see in a gun owner. a read through the writings of the usenet Valiant Defenders of the Second Amendment tends to stand you hair on end, with its graphic descriptions of exactly what they would do to etc. etc. etc., and tends to shift you in the direction of restricting access to weapons, much as trawling through the wasteland of the pornographic fantasies of usenet posters makes you want to ban pronography. you need to remind yourself that in either case, you’re dealing with an extremely weird minority.

  90. #90 ben
    January 17, 2009

    what i would recommend: close the loophole allowing homicidal maniacs with ten murders in their past to buy firearms from private individuals. without making the background check too onerous as a backhanded means of punishment.

    I’m all for that. Right now this can be done, but both parties must go to a dealer and pay him to run the check. The day the government lets me phone in a background check on a face-to-face firearm transaction, I’m there. Provided they are never allowed to use the info from the background check to find gun owners and confiscate their firearms (e.g. in the event that that type of firearm becomes banned after the fact).

    …it reveals a real streak of vigilante or hero wanna-beism which is something you really don’t want to see in a gun owner.

    I agree.

    you need to remind yourself that in either case, you’re dealing with an extremely weird minority.

    True.

  91. #91 slightly_peeved
    January 17, 2009

    But tell that to the people they disarmed who cannot defend themselves when confronted by one these tough guys.

    If a larger man than me comes up from me from behind and attacks me with their bare hands, with a punch or by attempting to choke me, there are a range of techniques I can use to resist. Because of my training (6 years of Judo), I can and have thrown people much larger than myself.

    One of my students, in fact, has done so; he was confronted by a mugger larger than himself, threw the mugger on to the ground and held him until police arrived. A former member of my club is a woman weighing under 60 kilograms; she has defended herself against larger men.

    However, by your own admission upthread, if someone pulled a gun to your head from behind, you are at their complete mercy even if you are equally (or more) armed.

    In summary, a smaller person is at a disadvantage against a larger person in an unarmed fight. A person who does not have their gun aimed is at the complete mercy of the person who does have their gun aimed.

    The advantage in an unarmed fight goes to the larger person; an even greater advantage in a gunfight goes to the aggressor. The gun is only an advantage if one is the aggressor, or if the aggressor doesn’t own a gun. I wouldn’t think either scenario is something to count on.

  92. #92 ben
    January 18, 2009

    If a larger man than me comes up from me from behind and attacks me with their bare hands, with a punch or by attempting to choke me, there are a range of techniques I can use to resist. Because of my training (6 years of Judo), I can and have thrown people much larger than myself.

    There is probably not one unarmed woman in 10,000 who could successfully resist me if I assaulted them, no matter how much training they have.

  93. #93 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 18, 2009

    For that matter, I’m a cripple, five times more feeble than a normal person, who walks with a cane. How am I supposed to use martial arts to defend myself?

    People have the right to defend themselves and that means they have the right to own firearms, and I’ll defend that to the death.

    Funny how I started out arguing for certain gun control laws and am now counted as one of the pro-gun baddies just because I don’t want to ban everything. Shows you something about the mentality of the anti-gun fanatics. There really are extremists on both sides of this issue, but of course the extremists only see the other side (and everyone in the middle) as extremists.

  94. #94 sg
    January 18, 2009

    who’s calling you a baddy?

  95. #95 Ian Gould
    January 18, 2009

    If there is no evidence of negative impacts from RTC laws, then on what basis can one argue that such laws are undesirable?

    I may disagree with libertarians on many (most) issues but government should not be restricting rights unless there is compelling evidence of a benefit from doing so.

    ISTR bar owners and other businesses being unhappy about RTC laws – afraid they’d lose business or risk liability law suits if they required peopel to turn in their guns before entering afraid of the security implications (and liability law suits) if they let peopel carry guns on their premises.

    I don’t know though that such concerns are sufficient basis to reject RTC laws.

  96. #96 luminous beauty
    January 18, 2009

    Congraulations ben,

    You are a winner in the Internet Sweepstakes.

    Click on the LINK to claim your prize.

  97. #97 ben
    January 18, 2009

    LB, uh-huh. I’m hardly a “tough guy”, I’ve never been in a fight in my life. And yet the fact remains that I am so much bigger and stronger than pretty much any unarmed woman not on steroids that they would have a hard time prevailing against an assailant like me.

  98. #98 sg
    January 18, 2009

    but ben, you’re also trained with a gun. So doesn’t that mean that an armed woman hasn’t levelled anything? Surely if you assaulted a woman with a gun, the first person to have their gun out would win? Surely she only gains an advantage from being armed if you aren’t? Are you suggesting banning straight white men from having guns? You liberal feminazi you…

  99. #99 luminous beauty
    January 18, 2009

    ben,

    Never having been in a fight in your life puts you at a disadvantage against any woman who knows how to fight.

    It’s not the size of the [wo]man in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the [wo]man.

    I know a French/Vietnamese woman under five foot who has killed with her hands and feet aggressive armed and experienced soldiers three times her size and not always one at a time.

    She’s also a championship ballroom dancer.

    I’ve never actually had to use, for self defense, the physical part of training in any street situation I have encountered, and I have lived and worked in some pretty bad neighborhoods.

    A disciplined mind is the best defense. Carrying a gun is a poor substitute.

  100. #100 Science Avenger
    January 18, 2009

    “Rory Tate said: Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the case of homicides, aren’t you suggesting here that we keep the gun out of the hands of the person who was murdered? I don’t see any demographics for those wielding the guns.”

    It seems a pretty safe assumption that people get shot by their associates, since most gunshot incidents are not preplanned orderly affairs, but are acts of passion, so we’d expect the age of the shooter to be pretty close to the age of the victim. I’d be open to data that says otherwise, but it seems unlikely. After all, if perps were looking for weak targets, then we’d expect the distribution to be larger at the extremes of age, not the middle. However that shakes out, the face remains that gun violence is not the across-the-board societal problem many gun control advocates imply. I recall about 20 years ago Time magazine did a detailed studyb of every gun death in the US in one week. I went through it in detail, and while I’ve lost my notes, what I recall was that after I eliminated suicides, spouses of the suicidal (the tragic group no one talks about), cops shooting criminals, citizens shooting criminals, and criminals shooting each other, what remainded was tiny, something like 5% of the total. Per the data national I linked earlier:

    57% of gun deaths are suicides

    66% of homicide victims are below the age of 35

    87% of homicide victims are males

    So if you are a nonsuicidal female above 35 years old, you make up approximately 1.9% of gunshot deaths (depending on how interrelated the stats are), which amounts to about 550 people in a nation with a population of ~350,000,000. Sure, implementing public policy that reflects these realities might be difficult, but my problem with most gun control advocates is that they seem determined to ignore these realities entirely and pretend that a gun is equally dangerous regardless of whose hand it is in, and the data couldn’t be more clear on how wrong that is.

    Let’s start by having a minimum age of 35 (or whatever can be constitutionally justified) for possessing a gun, with draconian penalties, and see where that gets us. The people this would effect most, young men, are those the self-defense argument carries the least water with anyway.

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