May 2008

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Comments

Anders

As a very swift and perhaps slightly blunt reply to your last question Scott; how about the US? :)

Matt

Scott,

If you armed all the Iraqi's it would make it much easier for the extremists to kick out the foreign troops in Iraq, as even more moderate muslims would now have the opportunity to actually do something about the occupying forces.

I don't know about America but here in Britain, there are lots of surveys of the Iraqi people, and all of them say that most Iraqi's feel they were better under Saddam.

Stomper

Of course a person has the right to defend him (or her) self, but there have to be reasonable limits. Should private citizens be authorized to purchase bazookas, howitzers, or cruise missiles "to defend himself?" If yes, then how about nukes? Where do you draw the line?

--Stomper

Rex May

It really comes down to this: does a person have a right to defend himself? If not, no problem. But if he does, isn't it a little extreme to deny him the tools?

Stomper

Yes, but beef from here in Texas is much cheaper.

--Stomper

David

Whatever,

Ironically, you probably meant to type "cliche," not "clique."

>>

Andrew

Scott,

There are lots of examples in history where the "good" people outnumber the bad. They are called Wars, and they happened all the time.

That doesn't seem like a great solution to me. The best example that I can think of is the Wild West. That may have worked out better than the alternative.

I would also like to point to De-militarized Japan, who, to date, do not arm their police officers with fire-arms. It is stunning how well their system works.

In the end, you have the difference between Texas, and Japan. You be the Judge.

-Andrew

Andrew

Scott,

There are lots of examples in history where the "good" people outnumber the bad. They are called Wars, and they happened all the time.

That doesn't seem like a great solution to me. The best example that I can think of is the Wild West. That may have worked out better than the alternative.

I would also like to point to De-militarized Japan, who, to date, do not arm their police officers with fire-arms. It is stunning how well their system works.

In the end, you have the difference between Texas, and Japan. You be the Judge.

-Andrew

Zaphod

"If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns". How idiotic is that? Only in America. How about " If no-one has guns, er, no-one will have guns". The rate of handgun fatalities and injuries per population is hundreds of times higher in America than any other country in the world, even those with similar cultures such as England, Australia, and Canada. Is that because:
1. Americans are generally intrinsically violent?
2. The average IQ in America is slightly lower than George Bush and slightly greater than a geranium? or
3. The whole country is awash with firearms so that every time some insecure half-wit gets pissed of with life he can reach for a gun and start blasting to make himself feel like a man?

Okay, trick question, the answer is probably a bit of all three. But come on now, let's not be stupid, the ready availability of firearms has to be the single biggest determinant for firearm use. The evidence is clear as day if Americans would deign to look outside their own border.

Try this thought experiment. Stop selling all handguns, and all handgun ammo to anyone in the public. Limit non-sporting firearms, such as automatic and semi-automatic guns, handguns, etc., to the armed forces and police. Only allow double barrelled shotguns and single shot rifles for hunting and farmers (do you really need a M16 to hunt deer? That seems a bit unsporting). Within a generation America's firearm death rate would drop by an order of magnitude.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir_percap-crime-murders-firearms-per-capita

danbert

Sad but true:
My neighbor is a divorced woman who lives alone
She bought a pistol for self protection
Her home was burglarized while she was at work
Her gun was the only thing stolen...

Stomper

Here's a speculation (meaning no, I can't prove it -- but it's worth considering anyway) for those who argue that making guns illegal will mean only the criminals have guns. Let's assume the following statement is true: "In the early 1990's, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported that 7% of armed career criminals obtain firearms from licensed gun shops." (from http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp)

Then where are the crooks getting their guns? My guess: they are stealing guns, or buying stolen guns. Guns stolen from honest people who do not properly secure their guns. If true, then this means that reducing private gun ownership will eventually reduce the number of guns available to crooks.

Worth thinking about, anyway.

--Stomper

danbert

Scott;
Your plan reminds me of an episode of 'All In The Family' wherein Archie ended up on the six o:clock News for expressing the opinion that rather than having security checks at the airport (this was 1968 remember) they should establish Ammo Points and issue each passenger a pistol before boarding the plane.
"That'll make them damn hijackers think twice before trying something..."
Frighteningly enough - a similar plan was discussed by the government after 9/11 i.e., the idea of arming the flight crews of aircraft (or at least the pilot)
To the best of my knowledge, this plan has not been implemented...

ASM826

Who is armed? The bad guys. Arming the good guys would only make things better. Why is the crime rate so high in D.C., Chicago, New York, etc.? Because only the bad guys are armed, and they know it. There is very little risk in robbing one of the sheep. Arm the sheep and the wolf has to think twice about his activities.
Take Darfur, for example. The genocide of the native population is simple. They are unarmed. The attackers ride, line them up, shoot them, throw the children into bonfires, and so on. Since disarming the attackers is impossible, the only meaningful humanitarian thing we could do is provide rifles and training to the still surviving victims.

cK

We need to test our Presidents' IQ before elections. I think it would help with foreign policy of the USA since the year I was born.. maybe before that..

Reagen screwed it up.. than the predesors, republicans and now even democrats are screwing the world up .. I cannot see the divide ending .. it is us and them. The devide is getting larger and larger.

Some say that it is time for the earth to purge, population is burdening the resources. The theory is, it is time the earth is planning to reform. Although we have billions of dollars that can feed the world, not only feed, it can make the people on the planet self sufficient, safe, and well fed. But it will not happen. Why? Because, we rather kill, win, succeed, defeat in some fashion or form.

Adam

Burning gunpowder contributes to global warming.

ryan

pure government. That is what you are suggesting. Power is derived from the people and the people can do something about it. Of course, it also might become anarchy if there was too much willingness to blow away the leaders of the oposing political powers. But then, anyone willing to do that probably already has a gun.

Stomper

SlowMoving Target:

Thanks for the kudos. Same back at ya; I've always found your posts well-reasoned, even when I disagree.

The link you provided has some interesting statistics. As you say, though, there is plenty of room to argue "correlation" rather than causation, even if you accept the statistics as accurate. What else was going on in Washington DC during the reported interval? As I recall, seems like 1976 to 1991 was a bad time in general for DC, with affluence fleeing to the suburbs and drug use on the rise (particularly crack cocaine).

I am concerned by how many of the statistics came from obvious partisans, particularly the NRA and the gun control lobby. If those two could agree on a number, I would be more likely to find that number very credible. As it is, I distrust both sources.

The webpage's statistics were apparently gathered by someone with a pro-gun bias. I can't think of any other reason for including statistics like: "As of 1992, for every 14 violent crimes (murder, rape, etc…) committed in the United States, one person is sentenced to prison." Unless I am missing something, that seems to be more about instilling fear than addressing gun availability. Similarly, there are several "facts" designed to attack the credibility of President Clinton when he spoke about gun control, thus deflating anecdotal evidence which had no real bearing in the first place, and further indicating a political, pro-gun bias in the assembly of those statistics.

I am also concerned by some of the terms and methodology used in the cited studies, particularly the concept of "defensive gun use." Only one of the studies actually defined that term, and virtually all of the reported studies relied upon self-responding gun owners.

Gun owners are not necessarily trained observers, were not necessarily required to promptly write a report while their memories were fresh, and did not necessarily have another person objectively investigate and review the gun owner's version the facts reported at the time of the alleged incident. Accordingly, a gun owner's report of successful defense with a gun is even less reliable than an eyewitness report of a successful crime.

As a (civil) trial lawyer, I can tell you from personal experience and from study that eyewitness testimony, even from trained observers, is the LEAST reliable form of evidence admissible in court. Nevertheless, these studies rely on the unreliable memories of largely untrained observers regarding events within the past year, five years, or lifetime.

Furthermore, gun owners are not necessarily qualified to determine a legitimate threat to safety, or the threat of an actual crime (that training issue again . . .), and gun owners are predisposed to rationalize or justify their gun ownership. In other words, gun owners can be expected to substantially inflate the incidence of threats against which they successfully defended. Nevertheless, the studies discounted data gleaned from actual, objective law-enforcement records, which reported approximately one-ninth as many incidents of defensive gun use.

The law enforcement records have their own problems, and it may be that there simply is no accurate way to accumulate empirical data. And that goes back to my last post. How can we make good policy without good data?

Interestingly, though, the web page also reports a 1982 survey of imprisoned criminals, which allegedly found that 34% of them had been "scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim." Ironically, these criminals may provide a more accurate data source than self-reporting gun owners (though they may be expected to under-report).

However, this one line about a survey of criminals does not provide a total number of criminals imprisoned for violent crime during 1982, and the data fails to break down the distribution of these incidents over time (i.e., if these 34% were reporting incidents over the course of, say, 15 years, then an annual figure would have to be 1/15 of the total reported). Importantly, the number of imprisoned criminals certainly does not accurately reflect the true number of criminals, so it would be difficult or impossible to extrapolate and adjust this number to reach a "real" number useful for setting policy.

We're all just guessing.

--Stomper

Oddity

Here's my theory. It's posted on my blog as well.

Killing with a gun is easy. Why? Ever hear of the psych stories they use - the one where the train is coming down the track and is going to kill lots of people? But there is a way you can stop it from killing four people, while only killing one in the process? There are two versions - one in which you pull a lever, causing the train to switch tracks. The other in which you push a very large man onto the tracks below. Nine out of ten people will push the lever, while nine out of ten people will NOT push the man.

So the point is, and my theory at least, it's far easier mentally to use a gun to kill someone than to use your bare hands. Get rid of weapons, get rid of the problem.

Though frankly, I'm so damned logical I'm the one out of the ten that's going to push your fat butt on the tracks. Next time, you'll think twice before turning down that gym membership.

David Huntley

I think the weapon issue is an either/or answer, Either arm everyone so that no one has an advantage (which would be very likely) or try and disarm everyone (which is highly unlikely) and leave those that have weapons with a huge advantage over those that don't.

My answer would be to open a Walmart in every suburb in Iraqi, Every citizen or criminal would then be armed in less than a week, and they'd save a butt load on shampoo.

Gerald

How can a gun protect you from an exploding bomb?

Sameer

firepower(good ppl) => bad ppl with a 0.72 probability

SlowMovingTarget

Greetings Stomper,

I always enjoy seeing your posts on this blog because they are nearly always relevant and reasonable, even if I sometimes disagree with their thrust. You are absolutely correct to imply that education and training are required.

You were interested in hard evidence and a quick Google search turns it up: http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

This particular page contains statistical evidence that concealed-carry laws tend to reduce the incidence of violent crime. In Florida, homicides dropped by 36%, while the US rate dropped only 0.4% in the same period. Conversely, "Washington D.C. enacted a virtual ban on handguns in 1976. Between 1976 and 1991, Washington D.C.'s homicide rate rose 200%, while the U.S. rate rose 12%"

Granted, these are statistical correlations, not necessarily cause and effect. Yet, the reported 764,000 incidents of actual self-defense with a firearm would suggest that having a firearm does indeed show causation for reduction of violent crime.

In 1995, the number of accidental deaths from firearms came to 1400. Surely these are all tragedies, but how many deaths may we have added to this number if none of the 764,000 people were able to defend themselves with firearms?

Food for thought. Maybe there are too few weapons in Iraq.

Regards,

SlowMovingTarget

SpookysFriend

Didn't the Soviets arm the Taliban in Afghanistan?

uh, No you all got it wrong. They armed a pro-Communist dictatorship. The muhajadeen and the Taliban were armed by the CIA.

I'm sure Korea and Vietnam had a lot to do with that, as far as reasons go. No good deed goes unpunished.

Whatever

(quote) "That would probably solve most of the worlds problems in one foul swoop."

Ant-
The only thing more irritating that people speaking (and probably thinking) in cliques is when they screw them up as well. It is "One fell swoop" and its from Macbeth.

Stomper

1. Switzerland is an extremely homogeneous society. Differences over religion, race, etc. are less likely to erupt in shooting, because those differences are generally minor and/or rare. The US, on the other hand, is a melting pot. Diversity gives our society a valuable sort of "hybrid vigor," but it also substantially increases tension.

2. The hard part of owning a gun is not learning how to shoot it, how to avoid accidental injury, or even how to take care of it. No, the hard part is knowing/deciding WHAT to shoot, once you have moved beyond selecting targets on a firing range. Hunters make those mistakes and shoot their friends and family. Cops make those mistakes, and shoot innocent (or at least unarmed) people.

Cops are very highly trained so that they'll make good decisions about who to shoot, but they still make mistakes. When you put guns in the hands of untrained induhviduals, the results can be catastrophic.

A few years ago, a man shot an intruder hiding in the man's closet, by firing through the closet door -- only to discover that he'd killed his own daughter, who was trying to sneak back in after being out without permission. Dad did not announce himself, threaten to shoot, or actually see his target. He just shot.

A local boy (approx. 12 at the time) shot himself with the gun his parents bought for him. They were being "safe," because they would only let him have ammo under supervision -- until he convinced a classmate to provide ammo (and the classmate did not know how the boy intended to use it). Certainly, there are other ways to commit suicide, but the boy actually went to a fair amount of trouble in order to do so with his gun. It is not clear that he would have attempted or succeeded by any other means.

Anecdotes like these can be found for both sides of the argument. The hard part is finding empirical evidence that accounts for all the variables. I don't pretend to have that evidence, but I am amused by all the people who argue that "an armed society is more polite," or making guns ilegal means only criminals will have guns."

Texas law requires that gun owners properly secure their guns, either with a gun safe, a trigger lock, or some other approved mechanism. Most Texans routinely violate that law, and it is rarely enforced. Most District Attorneys won't prosecute the grief-stricken parents of a child who found an unsecured gun and accidentally shot himself while playing with it.

Life is cheap in Texas. We license people to carry concealed weapons, we carry out more death sentences than any other state (and more than many foreign countries, for that matter), and we let children die for lack of basic health care. The social attitudes here do not apply to other states, and data gathered in Texas does not apply well across state lines.

So where is the evidence that disarming people leads to an increase in crimes that use weapons? Or how about empirical evidence that disarming people results in more violent crime in general? For preference, I'd rather see evidence that DID NOT come from the NRA. Did I fail to see those links?

--Stomper

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