Pharyngula

I’m not a fanatic about gun control—guns are dangerous tools, but so are chainsaws—but sometimes…man, sometimes I think we ought to put more restrictions on them to keep them out of the hands of dangerously stupid people. Take this story, for instance. A police officer hears a noise in his basement, suspects it’s an intruder, and the idiot takes a shot at whoever it is. Unfortunately, it turns out to be his 18 year old daughter sneaking into the house after a late night out.

So basically this guy was firing a handgun in his house at someone he hadn’t even tried to identify, using deadly force before he was at all confident it was necessary. He’s an incompetent boob, a danger to his family, and he shouldn’t be employed in a position where we have an expectation of responsible weapon use. Now that bozo is a walking argument for gun control.

Fortunately, the tragedy was minimized here because he only took out his daughter’s knee rather than slaughtering her.

(via lolife)

Comments

  1. #1 csrster
    May 31, 2007

    I keep tellin’ y’all, “America’s Dumbest Cops”, there’s a packet to be made in it.

  2. #2 wÒÓ?
    May 31, 2007

    ZOMG pwned.

  3. #3 amstrad
    May 31, 2007

    I have a friend who is an ER doctor (he was a resident at the time). He was getting really tired of treating gun shot wounds for innocent by-standers of gang violence.

    His solution: teach the gang members to shoot better. Less innocent people shot and less criminals over time… (the problem is you are left with a small number of really good shart shooting thugs).

  4. #4 Stwriley
    May 31, 2007

    Caledonian,
    I’ll concede that the point about training may not be 100% effective as a way to weed out all the morons, but I thing it would get a fair number of them because, if it was properly rigorous training the morons would be less likely to pass and thus be allowed to own guns. This is a point that hasn’t really been tested so we’ll have to leave it as a hypothesis for now and hope that it can be tested in the future.

    You are quite wrong, however, on the nature of gun training in early America for the majority of citizens. Most citizens lived in the more densely populated coastal zones and did not hunt themselves; that was a phenomenon of the relatively sparsely populated frontier regions. Most citizens received what firearms training they had and owned guns because it was a legal requirement in most colonies (and the states they became) for militia service, for which all able-bodied men were liable. Central authority (the colony or state in this case, though also the federal government after the Constitution) was critical to this process, for it was their organization of the militia that prompted and formed such training.

    The Constitution’s writers clearly put regulation of the militias into the Constitution itself (not the Bill of Rights, where the Second Amendment naturally resides) and intended that Congress should act to make the militias and their training better and more efficient. This did not happen in practice, for a variety of reasons, but the intent is quite clear both from the document itself and from what we know of the debates of the Constitutional Convention. So the argument that regulating guns now based on that idea is wrong is unsupportable.

    I’m afraid you have fallen prey to a myth about gun ownership and use that has been pushed for a long time by the anti-regulation forces. But it is a myth, no more valid than the myth of American exceptionalism. It is a very appealing myth too, one that seems to show the self-reliant spirit and the proper role of the family in raising their children to be good upstanding citizens and defenders of the nation. It also doesn’t stand up to the facts of history.

  5. #5 reason
    May 31, 2007

    Consider what idiot-proofing our civilization would actually require.

    A bit like blogs really!

  6. #6 Dural
    May 31, 2007

    “A former Springbok rugby player was charged with murder yesterday after he mistook his daughter for a car thief and shot her dead in the family’s driveway.

    Rudi Visagie, 44, apparently assumed that his daughter Marl, 19, was asleep when he heard her Volkswagen Golf being driven away at 5am on Sunday from their smallholding in Maggiesdal, a rural area in Mpumalanga province.

    He got out of bed, took his 7.65mm pistol, and fired a shot through the bedroom window, police said.

    When he went outside he discovered his daughter slumped behind the wheel.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/southafrica/story/0,13262,1224059,00.html

  7. #7 Mooser
    May 31, 2007

    I have noticed an alarming tendency exhibited by the commentors here on this subject. Several of you have recounted actual experiences with firearms.
    This is not an acceptable method of discourse when firearms are the subject. My freakin’ Gawd, people, next you’ll be brandishing charts and statistics!!

    When guns are discussed, the only admittable evidence is the precis of old TV show plots and movie scenarios, along with imaginary victories over desperately colored intruders. What You would have done, anotherwords.

    Facts are out of place here! And watch out for drive-by chainsawings! Duck! Hit the ground when you see the arborist’s truck!

  8. #8 Jim Lippard
    May 31, 2007

    Stwriley: You’re not living in Wisconsin now, are you?

  9. #9 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    Unfortunately for them he had a concealed carry permit, and he promptly drew his gun and shot one of them, killing him.

    That’s called “excess of self-defense”. It’s a crime, and punishable as such.

    OK, maybe not in the USA. What do I know. Certainly not in southern Florida, where you actually have the right to shoot first and ask questions later.

  10. #10 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    Unfortunately for them he had a concealed carry permit, and he promptly drew his gun and shot one of them, killing him.

    That’s called “excess of self-defense”. It’s a crime, and punishable as such.

    OK, maybe not in the USA. What do I know. Certainly not in southern Florida, where you actually have the right to shoot first and ask questions later.

  11. #11 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    “An armed society is a polite society”

    Sure. It holds very moving funerals, with eulogies even for Jerry Foulwill.

  12. #12 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    “An armed society is a polite society”

    Sure. It holds very moving funerals, with eulogies even for Jerry Foulwill.

  13. #13 Sean
    May 31, 2007

    Ahh, guns. One of the subjects where otherwise rational people start acting like creobots. There are legitimate arguments to be made in support of a variety of levels of gun control. Unfortunately those arguments get mixed in and diluted with absolutely false claims.

    Just as I often ponder when encountering a new creobot, are these claims being made because one is ignorant, mislead, or simply lying for the perceived greater good?

    Modern high-quality rifles are accurate up to several miles

    This one just jumped out at me more than most. The longest shot ever recorded was made by a trained Canadian sniper firing a dedicated bolt action .50 caliber sniper rifle and the support of four additional soldiers. Assisted by thin high mountain air, it was a few yards over one and a half miles. It took three shots.

    I live in hunting country. I hear way too many hunting stories year round. Shots made at 1/3 of a mile are considered superb long range shooting. Up that distance to around 2/3s of a mile with a custom tooled rifle and one is considered a long range god.

    Accurate up to several miles my tender derriere.

  14. #14 Sean
    May 31, 2007

    Guns exist for one reason only: killing.

    Recall the lot of them. They appear to be defective.

    Working from memory. Roughly 200 million civilian owned guns in the United States. The peak firearm homocide annual total was about 20,000 back around 1990.

    I suppose if one includes animal killing the ratio shifts significantly, but hunting is generally considered another issue.

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    Three feet of good steel is actually much more likely to be useful in the confined space of a residence than a gun,

    anybody else manage to twist that into:

    Something long and hard is always more useful that a short barrel and hair trigger.

    nobody?

    well, at least my girlfriend appreciated it.

  16. #16 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    That’s news to me. I used mine to put holes in a number of paper targets, which was a great way to spend part of the occasional Saturday. Was I misusing my firearm?

    so you bought yourself an official target pistol with target loads, Leon?

    cause otherwise, that’s not what the weapon was built for.

    …and as to Sean’s idiotic argument in #70…

    I own an awful lot of things i don’t use on a regular basis.

    by your logic, all those should be recalled to, since I’m not using them.

    shorter and sweeter:

    your argument is a red herring.

  17. #17 Luna_the_cat
    May 31, 2007

    Yes, Ichthyic, thank you for that tea-snort-over-the-keyboard moment…!

  18. #18 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    Everybody knows that guns were designed for opening coconuts.

    No, no, no…

    Everybody knows that T-Rexes were designed for opening coconuts.

    gees.

  19. #19 Kseniya
    May 31, 2007

    Yeah yeah, but Ichthydude! After, you know, the Fall, when T-Rex became really cranky and had to be extinguished by The Flood, or like, whatever, Adam had to find another way to open coconuts, so he invented the blunderbuss and cultivated grapenuts for ammo and then traveled to China to invent gunpowder. Without Adam’s tireless efforts, there’d be no Pia Coladas or Mounds bars today. Praise God!

  20. #20 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    ichty….ich…tschyt, whatever, you know as well as I do that coconuts were designed to be opened by T-Rexes, just like bananas were designed to be opened by creationists.

  21. #21 Science Avenger
    May 31, 2007

    I’m with Sean – nothing reduces the level of discourse like guns, getting otherwise intelligent people to say absurd things. This one jumped out at me:

    People who rely on guns for home safety most often have their guns taken from them, because the criminal is more experienced in this.

    This from the guy selling pepper spray, and its about as objective as you’d expect from someone describing a competing product. Burglars aren’t looking for a fight, and the vast majority of them faced with a homeowner brandishing a gun are going to do the same thing the Miami burglar did when faced with a homeowner brandishing a sword – run like hell. Only a guy enjoying a PCP high is going to try to grab a gun out of someone’s hand.

    Guns exist for one reason only: killing.

    What political claptrap. Objectively, guns exist to propel a piece of metal at high velocity at an intended target. The most common target is…a target, a piece of paper with lines drawn on it. Here is a breakdown of gun deaths in the U.S. Notice:

    1) The total is around 30,000. 30,000 out of 300 million. That’s 1 person in 10,000. Yes, every death is tragic, but as a national issue, it just doesn’t warrant the attention it gets.

    2) 57% of the deaths are suicides. So whatever overall risk we all have of dying by gun, if you don’t plan on killing yourself, you just cut it in half.

    3) The number of accidental deaths is microscopic. So tragic as it is when a child finds dad’s gun and shoots her schoolmate, it’s irrelevant to a discussion of public policy.

    4) Notice how strong the correlation is between the age of the homicide victims and the ages traditionally associated with high crime. By the time you are 45, your risk of being murdered with a handgun is 1/5 what it is when you are 20. It is VERY hard to reconcile that relationship with the idea that its all about the guns.

    And while anecdotes might be entertaining, they are illustrations, not evidence. As such, I offer one friend’s experience. He was home and heard a noise, looked out the window, and saw a young man who had broken into his car rummaging around in it. My friend’s car had been broken into before, so he was extra peeved. He went and got his gun, walked outside to within 30 or so feet of the car, pointed the gun at the kid and yelled “Son! You’re about to DIE!”. The kid looked up, saw my friend pointing the weapon at him, jumped out of the car and ran like hell down the alley he presumably came from. My friend went on about his day, and no, his car was never broken into again.

    No one died, the gun performed a purpose without killing anyone, and it won’t show up in any of the crime statistics. From my experiences with, and the story’s I’ve heard from the many real gun owners I know, (as opposed to the TV caricatures that so many here think represent reality), I suspect my friend’s incident was far more typical than was the subject of this article, or even your typical murder.

    And no, I’m not a gun nut. I own one gun, it was given to me as a gift, and it sits now somewhere in my closet, having not been shot in years. I don’t even like guns, and frankly, if they banned them tomorrow I really, personally, wouldn’t give a rat’s posterior. Here in Texas that practically makes me a commie. I just know a lot of gun owners, and I’m an actuary, and just too much of what is said about guns makes no sense to either sensibility. So a gun in the house is more likely to kill a family member than an intruder. So what? So is the family dog, your sword, or your bathtub. Hell, for that matter, given the really bad drug bust flubs that happen, so are the cops! It doesn’t do any good to get good data if you’re asking the wrong questions, or getting your information from movies.

  22. #22 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    you know as well as I do that coconuts were designed to be opened by T-Rexes, just like bananas were designed to be opened by creationists.

    i see no reason both couldn’t be true.

    I gain joy in your revelation, brother!

    hallelujah!

    Do you think it possible that creationists were specifically designed to open bananas, too?

    but of course!

    it’s obvious to anybody who has any common sense.

    :P

  23. #23 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    … and of course, miniature bananas were designed to be opened by…

    PYGMIES AND DWARVES!

  24. #24 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    utterly flawed logic.

    the most common usage of a product does NOT define its intended usage.

    as i mentioned above, there are target weapons and ammo specifically designed to be used as target weapons and ammo.

    otherwise…

    I think before being critical of other’s thoughts on this, you should apply a bit of logic to your own.

  25. #25 Sean
    May 31, 2007

    Kseniya. True. That would be why I mentioned hunting in my own post.

    Usually the ‘Guns are designed…’ line does have the word ‘people’ at the end. In the finest sense of scientific research, I have utilized a Google Fight between ‘guns killing’ and ‘guns killing people’. Massive victory for people killing 22 million to 1.5 million. :)

    Anyway, in that case, I would have completely ignored hunting uses for firearms. I was going to add more, but got bogged down trying to find a quicky method of guesstimating what percentage of firearms are used for hunting. Total animals killed each year is measured in the hundreds of millions, but the bulk (by numbers, not mass) are small birds such as quail, grouse and doves. Those hunters bag hundreds with a single shotgun. Any idea how to break that down or find such numbers already crunched?

    And Ichthyic, thanks for the love. I will try not to dismiss your points so casually and in such a distorted manner.

    1. That was sarcasm. Sorry if calling for the recall of all firearms as being defective was too subtle.

    2. Even were I serious, objects not used on a regular basis seem in a different category than objects which are not fulfulling their one reason for existence. I have never used one of my home fire extinguishers. They are staying. A recently purchased mouse trap does not trigger when the bait is eaten. It is being returned as defective.

    My view on the world: Inanimate objects have no meaning. They have no purpose. They have no reason. The sentient human being who designs or crafts an object has a meaning, purpose and reason. The sentient human being who uses an object has a meaning, purpose and reason. Sometimes these two people even have a meaning, purpose and reason which coincide, but the inanimate object really could not care less. Come to think of it, I am pretty sure it could not care more either.

    You want a red herring, look at the original #13. What value does that have but to create an emotional response which distracts from core issues?

  26. #26 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    but because often what is required for personal safety is to be in demonstrable possession of the capability to do harm to an assailant

    see the “three feet of steel” story earlier posted.

    also see:

    aluminum baseball bat

    chain saw (i rather liked that one)

    I bet you can think of others.

    can’t you?

    How about knives?

    reading for comprehension, you might have seen me post no less than twice:

    the most common usage of a product does NOT define its intended usage.

    so now I have to add:

    and vice versa.

  27. #27 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    That was sarcasm.

    so hard to tell these days.

    bjects not used on a regular basis seem in a different category than objects which are not fulfulling their one reason for existence. I have never used one of my home fire extinguishers. They are staying. A recently purchased mouse trap does not trigger when the bait is eaten. It is being returned as defective.

    so you intend to continue your sarcastic argument by attempting to justify the core of it as logical.

    interesting.

    your recently purchased mousetrap has been returned because it was found to be defective by experiment. have you tested your fire extinguisher?

    doesn’t apply in any way, shape, or form to your earlier “sarcastic” argument.

    nice try, though.

  28. #28 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    Somebody always offers to kill me with a baseball bat.

    oh? I missed that. did someone offer to kill you with a baseball bat?

    *looks*

    still don’t see it.

    I firmly believe this should allow private citizens the right to own nuclear weapons. Though, I think there are practical concerns therein.

    yeah… damn those practical concerns!

    you are so close to agreeing with arguments FOR gun control…

    just ask folks who live in the UK.

  29. #29 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    ichty… iaqoerh… iszhtgy…

    http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/i/i0013500.html

    ;)

  30. #30 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    Well, the general fishiness of your name doesn’t make it any easier to write.

    And I have to ask: Do you believe in The Landscape? Susskinds book is the only place where I’ve come across loveley fishiness.

  31. #31 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    The total is around 30,000. 30,000 out of 300 million. That’s 1 person in 10,000. Yes, every death is tragic, but as a national issue, it just doesn’t warrant the attention it gets.

    Ah, really?

    Compare that “1 person in 10,000″ figure to those of a couple of other countries. And weep.

    57% of the deaths are suicides. So whatever overall risk we all have of dying by gun, if you don’t plan on killing yourself, you just cut it in half.

    For my tastes, the suicide number is too high, too… what if you couldn’t simply go, buy a gun, and shoot yourself? What are the chances you’d really jump from some high place?

    And on that whole self-defense issue. In the USA, do the police not come when you call them? Over here it’s a serious option to just let the robber proceed and call the police when he’s gone. But it’s a rather hypothetical one anyway — burglars tend to make sure that you’re not in your home before they enter. Weapons, usually fake, are chiefly carried by bank robbers over here.

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    The total is around 30,000. 30,000 out of 300 million. That’s 1 person in 10,000. Yes, every death is tragic, but as a national issue, it just doesn’t warrant the attention it gets.

    Ah, really?

    Compare that “1 person in 10,000″ figure to those of a couple of other countries. And weep.

    57% of the deaths are suicides. So whatever overall risk we all have of dying by gun, if you don’t plan on killing yourself, you just cut it in half.

    For my tastes, the suicide number is too high, too… what if you couldn’t simply go, buy a gun, and shoot yourself? What are the chances you’d really jump from some high place?

    And on that whole self-defense issue. In the USA, do the police not come when you call them? Over here it’s a serious option to just let the robber proceed and call the police when he’s gone. But it’s a rather hypothetical one anyway — burglars tend to make sure that you’re not in your home before they enter. Weapons, usually fake, are chiefly carried by bank robbers over here.

  33. #33 Leon
    May 31, 2007

    Wow, Ichthyic, you’ve sure got a raw nerve on this issue. ‘Course, most people do, it seems, so you’re in good company I suppose. I don’t get why this is such a polarizing issue in modern politics, but be that as it may…

    As someone mentioned above, firearms are designed to shoot a projectile at a target. Their primary intended uses are for killing, threatening violence (hopefully for defensive purposes), and target practice.

    Likewise, what’s the purpose of bows and arrows? A good stout bow and hunting arrow can be very deadly indeed (as bow hunters will attest), but they’re just as useful for target practice.

    I’m not saying that just because guns aren’t necessarily used for violent purposes means they’re basically harmless–I’m just objecting to the assertion above that killing is the only reason they exist.

  34. #34 Wolfger
    May 31, 2007

    Yes, you are right. This bozo is a walking argument for gun control. Fortunately, there are also walking arguments against gun control.

  35. #35 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    Wow, Ichthyic, you’ve sure got a raw nerve on this issue.

    don’t mistake “raw nerve” with “standard demeanor”.

    I’m just a blunt guy.

    exposing my “raw nerve” would likely get me banned, and maybe reported to Homeland Security.

  36. #36 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    I have a purpose and reason for owning a firearm. It is to make a bang and accelerate a small piece of metal. Should a newly acquired firearm not do that, it will be returned as defective for not meeting my purpose and reason for owning it.

    also has nothing to do with the statistics used in your “sarcastic” metaphor used in your earlier post, now, does it.

    keep movin’ those goalposts.

  37. #37 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    I wish one of you engineer types would invent the non-lethal equivalent of a handgun.

    there is a company in San Diego that has been experimenting with a “plasma taser” (yeah, a phaser), for many years now.

    supposedly, they have models that can stop not only people by dephasing electrical impulses to muscles, but also have models that can stop cars, too.

    it’s no joke, but it must be impractical tech, as I still haven’t seen any police or military buying into it wholesale, and it’s been around for years now.

  38. #38 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    ah, here ya go:

    http://www.hsvt.org/

    seemed like a great idea to me.

  39. #39 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    I’m sorry people, but super regulating guns won’t do anything to slow down criminals using them

    why not try it for a while and see?

    seems to have worked to reduce gun violence in many other countries, like the UK, for many years (though I hear rumors things may be changing of late on that front).

    what were the possible results of the Brady Bill, for example, given the limitations it inherently had.

    was there any data indicating it had an impact one way or the other?

    since we have never had any draconian gun regulations EVER, how can we say they wouldn’t have a positive impact?

    certainly could be worth experimenting for a while, if the anti-gun law nuts would be willing to back off for a while and see.

    how many lives saved would be worth it, I wonder?

    still, I rather agree with Jaimie that it would simply be preferable to switch to effective non-lethals entirely.

    then regulation would be far less of an issue, as mistakes would be far less irreparable.

  40. #40 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    IOW:

    put phasers on stun, captain.

  41. #41 Jurjen S.
    June 1, 2007

    Ichthyic wrote (post #120):

    [Gun control] seems to have worked to reduce gun violence in many other countries, like the UK, for many years (though I hear rumors things may be changing of late on that front).

    That’s disputable. Most western European gun laws date from 1900-1930, and available data indicate that the amount of gun crime in the countries in question was already very low prior to the introduction of said laws, and probably lower than it is now. Particularly since 1990, western Europe has seen an increased influx of guns illicitly brought in from former Eastern Bloc countries, and a concomitant rise in illegal gun ownership.

    David Marjanovi? wrote (post #102):

    And on that whole self-defense issue. In the USA, do the police not come when you call them?

    Sure they do, but it’s a big country, with much lower population density than, say, western Europe. In rural areas, it can easily take the cops half an hour to get to you. Also, budget constraints have led to cutbacks in the number of police. In an extreme example, the Oregon State Police has fewer than ten men assigned to the coastline, which is some 500 km long.

    But it’s a rather hypothetical one anyway — burglars tend to make sure that you’re not in your home before they enter.

    I don’t know where you live, but in the UK and the Netherlands, the percentage of burglaries which are “hot” (i.e. committed while one or more residents are home) is over 40%. In the US, it’s something like 17%.

    The Ridger wrote (post #114):

    FWIW a cop told me once that if you want a gun in your house to protect your family, you don’t want a handgun.

    I can name you a cop who’d disagree: Massad Ayoob, author of In The Gravest Extreme and a police captain in New Hampshire. Shotguns are okay if you’re holed up in a “safe room,” but if you’re going to check out a strange noise in the kitchen, long guns are more difficult to maneuver round corners, or bring to bear quickly, they’re easier for an opponent at close quarters to grab (and twist the muzzle off-target), and they require both hands to operate, which makes it difficult to use the phone to call the cops if you’ve got the intruder at gunpoint. Ayoob recommends that if you keep only one gun for home defense, it be a handgun. Oh, and your kids will work out a way to rack your shotgun, for example by setting the slide against an immoveable object and leaning/pushing into the gun; Ayoob managed that with his dad’s pump-action at age 6.

  42. #42 Science Avenger
    June 1, 2007

    Ichthyic sad: utterly flawed logic. the most common usage of a product does NOT define its intended usage. I think before being critical of other’s thoughts on this, you should apply a bit of logic to your own.

    Oh. You’re suggesting when setting public policy on an object, the intentions of those that create the object are more important than the intentions of those that actually use it.

    Get that beam out of thine own eye my friend…

  43. #43 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    so, if people suddenly decide to use garden hoses for enemas, then garden hoses legitimately should be defined as designed for enemas.

    yes siree bob.

    great logic there.

    phhht.

  44. #44 Science Avenger
    June 1, 2007

    David Marjanovi? said: Compare that “1 person in 10,000″ [US annual gun death] figure to those of a couple of other countries. And weep.

    I weep only because it’s such an invalid comparison to talk about “gun deaths”, because doing so implicitly assumes that none of those deaths would have occurred without the guns. The insights revealed by the fact that nations with no guns have no gun deaths is minimal at best. We have to look at all deaths to get a feel for the value of banning guns, otherwise a shift in the methods employed by attackers can give very deceiving results.

    For example, suppose Fantasy Nation typically had 10,000 gun deaths a year, and suppose somehow the government had managed to pass and succesfully enforce a gun ban the next year, and true to the press, gun deaths dropped to 0. Has this been a succesful program? No, if deaths by other means increased by 10,000, since that would mean we didn’t save any lives, we just changed the way they died. After all, let’s not lose sight of the objective, which is fewer deaths period. Gun deaths aren’t worse than bat deaths, or car deaths, or knife deaths, and shouldn’t be treated that way.

    For my tastes, the suicide number is too high, too… what if you couldn’t simply go, buy a gun, and shoot yourself? What are the chances you’d really jump from some high place?

    Interesting question. Does anyone have the data on suicides by other means, and how they change as guns become more or less available? We do know that people kill themselves by a variety of means along with jumping off bridges, such as pills, slit wrists, hangings, and taking a nap in a closed garage with the car running (my personal choice if it ever came to that). So just like with homicides, if we are to measure the effect of gun bans, we have to look at all the deaths, not just those by gun.

  45. #45 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    Particularly since 1990, western Europe has seen an increased influx of guns illicitly brought in from former Eastern Bloc countries, and a concomitant rise in illegal gun ownership.

    that’s not an argument against gun control, however. that’s an argument for better enforcement of existing laws.

    hence illegal gun ownership, as you mention.

    also why i mentioned I thought things have not been so rosy of late, but again, this has little to do with the gun laws in force, and more to do with statistics on gun violence.

  46. #46 Science Avenger
    June 1, 2007

    Ichthyic: so, if people suddenly decide to use garden hoses for enemas, then garden hoses legitimately should be defined as designed for enemas.

    I’m saying the whole issue of “defining X as being designed for Y” is a red herring. If people are using garden hoses for enemas, and this is causing a public health problem, thus prompting a debate over whether we should ban garden hoses, it’s not much of a counter argument to say “but, but, but, that’s not what they are designed for!” Who cares?

    As a real world example, take the ingredients for making crystal meth. In some jurisdictions, these items have been banned or made more difficult to purchase to try to cut down on the meth usage and benefit society as a result. Does it matter in the slightest that all these items were designed for another purpose? Of course not.

  47. #47 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    The insights revealed by the fact that nations with no guns have no gun deaths is minimal at best. We have to look at all deaths to get a feel for the value of banning guns, otherwise a shift in the methods employed by attackers can give very deceiving results.

    again, logic can be applied and a reasonable conclusion reached:

    Is it easier and quicker to kill someone with a gun than a baseball bat?

    yup.

    so should we expect higher death tolls when guns are common?

    yup.

    sure, you can go try to verify that if you wish, and it’s an admirable and correct thing to try and do. However, I think the assumption that limiting guns would reduce deaths to be quite logical, simply based on how they kill.

    and yes, for the same reason (quick death), limiting “car driving” would also limit deaths drastically.

    but the two are not comparable in a legislative way.

    oh, wait, come to think of it, they ARE. hence speed limits, safety belt laws, design safety laws, etc.

  48. #48 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    problem, thus prompting a debate over whether we should ban garden hoses

    since NOBODY is proposing banning anything, THAT is the red herring.

    “but, but, but, that’s not what they are designed for!” Who cares?

    obviously you do, but so far you aren’t making a good argument.

    BTW, crystal meth is an extremely poor example, since in fact, it IS designed specifically for drug abuse (you can’t buy it in the drugstore, or get a prescription for it)

    now methamphetamine, OTOH, was not. maybe that’s what you meant?

    and if that’s what you meant, you are still not gettin the point.

    hmm.

    guns are not and have never been designed as anything but a tool for killing, with the notable exceptions of target weapons.

    so, no, people are NOT abusing the designed usage of a gun when they use it to kill anything.

    your use of a prescribable drug as an example is exactly the same as my use of the garden hose enema.

    are you sure you can’t see this?

    cause if not, there is really little left to discuss.

  49. #49 Science Avenger
    June 1, 2007

    Sebastian said: The only way you can defend yourself with a gun is by shooting FIRST, which puts any halfway ethical person at a disadvantage, because they have to make certain that they are really in danger. Thus the home invasion scenario above is heavily stacked against the home owner and in favor of the criminal.

    Bad premise. One can also defend oneself with a gun by merely brandishing it, which likely happens very often, since most people’s reaction to being confronted with an armed defender is to call off the attack (ie run). This isn’t the movies, where all conflicts are fought to the death. The movies don’t often show the bad guys running away because it’s boring, not because it’s realistic.

  50. #50 Jurjen S.
    June 2, 2007

    Ichthyic wrote (#130):

    that’s not an argument against gun control, however. that’s an argument for better enforcement of existing laws.

    That’s as may be; my point, rather, is that it’s fallacious to suggest that the difference in homicide rates between countries is entirely the result of differences in gun control laws, as you did when you said that regulating guns “seems to have worked to reduce gun violence in many other countries.” It’s interesting to note, moreover, that when it comes to violent crime in general, the United States comes off quite well in comparison to many western European countries; in the 2000 ICVS, the United States came behind Australia, the UK, Finland, France and the Netherlands in percentage of population who had been the victim of violent crime (including assault, sexual assault, robbery).

    Post #135:

    since NOBODY is proposing banning anything, THAT is the red herring.

    Nobody in this thread, perhaps, but there are numerous instances of certain gun “control” advocates making statements welcoming any gun control legislation as “a good first step,” or words to that effect, which suggests that their goal is rather more than “common sense” measures alone. We’re not talking about all gun control advocates here, but we are talking about some fairly prominent members of the gun control lobby. But pro-gun control groups count on support from a large number of people who favor some gun control measures, but not outright prohibition, so it’s not politically expedient for the leadership of such groups to openly admit that that is their ultimate goal.

    Science Avenger wrote (#129):

    Does anyone have the data on suicides by other means, and how they change as guns become more or less available?

    The WHO has a table of suicide rates by country; method is not listed, but the US does not do sinificantly worse than most industrialized nations with tighter gun control, and better than many. France, Germany and Japan do worse than the US, for example. In fact, the Japanese male suicide rate is double that of the US, despite Japan having some of the most restrictive guns laws in the world.

  51. #51 Robert
    June 2, 2007

    Two reasons that gun control will ultimately fail (especially in this century):
    http://www.reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

    http://fab.cba.mit.edu/

  52. #52 Science Avenger
    June 3, 2007

    Ichthyic said: I think the assumption that limiting guns would reduce deaths to be quite logical, simply based on how they kill.

    Yes, it is, but logical assumptions are not always true, which is why we collect data and, I don’t know, do science. Maybe we have overestimated the amount of death reduction that would result from limiting guns due to a bias in how the reduction is distributed in society. To use an extreme to make the point, a reduction of guns is unlikely to produce fewer deaths if we only removed guns from police officers.

    More realistically, if the gun ban is not total, it is logical to assume that it would be disproportionately effective among the law-abiding, and the effects of such on the total death rate is far from intuitive.

    I just think before we go deciding that people don’t have a right to own item X that we have good solid evidence that the payoff of doing so would be substantial.

  53. #53 Science Avenger
    June 3, 2007

    Ichthyic said: crystal meth is an extremely poor example, since in fact, it IS designed specifically for drug abuse (you can’t buy it in the drugstore, or get a prescription for it)

    Oh good Lord. I wasn’t talking about the crystal meth, I was talking about the ingredients used to make it, which were NOT designed for that purpose. Sudafed for example. If we are going to discuss limiting people’s access to Sudafed, the relevant issues are what people are ACTUALLY using Sudafed for, and the effects of that usage on society. What Sudafed is DESIGNED for is completely irrelevant idealistic nonsense.

    guns are not and have never been designed as anything but a tool for killing, with the notable exceptions of target weapons.

    Who cares? If people start using THEM for enemas, we need to take that into account when deciding how to reglate them.

    so, no, people are NOT abusing the designed usage of a gun when they use it to kill anything.

    Who cares? Are the people killed with baseball bats less dead because that isn’t what baseball bats are designed for?

    And there’s nothing wrong with killing, per se, so again, who cares?

    your use of a prescribable drug as an example is exactly the same as my use of the garden hose enema. are you sure you can’t see this? cause if not, there is really little left to discuss.

    Am *I* sure I can’t see it? Bud, your posts are my Exhibit A on how the issue of guns can sometimes make even the most otherwise intelligent people say completely ridiculous things, and be unable to grasp fairly simple arguments. So yeah, if YOU don’t get it yet, you’re right, there’s little left to discuss.

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