Where a rational conversation about guns ought to start


The newspaper of record reflected the disease last night. They had an article about the man killed over texting during the previews at a movie that included this ridiculous paragraph.

The killing underscored the increased debate about when to use smartphones in public. In October, the singer Madonna was spotted texting during the Lincoln Center premiere of “12 Years a Slave.” That led Tim League, chief executive of Alama Drafthouse, a Texas-based chain of boutique cinemas, to post on Twitter that she was banned from watching movies at his theater.

No, it did not underscore that debate. It underscored the debate over whether we should continue to allow armed assholes to wander the streets freely. You know, that real issue that no one in America, including the New York Times, wants to deal with, because the proponents of armed assholery like to kill you if you disagree with them.

(By the way, if you go read that article now, you’ll discover that it has been cleansed of that astonishingly stupid paragraph.)

It’s about time the US had a rational discussion about gun control, though. It’s way past due, and the weird aversion to changing the way we manage guns has to be overcome. So here are my suggestions for a start.

  • Repeal the second amendment. All right, we don’t actually have a mechanism to strip that sucker out of there, but we can override it with a new amendment. Face it, the second amendment stinks: it’s an 18th century relic, it’s ambiguously worded (it’s about militias, people), and somehow stupid Americans have it fixed in their brains that the Constitution is sacred magic — all they have to do is shout, “Second amendment!” and we’re supposed to dissolve into accommodating bits of gelatin before them. We can criticize and revise the Constitution, you know; if you revere the Founding Fathers, you should at least still recognize that they thought an informed citizenry was important. You’re supposed to think, not just follow rules.

  • Regulate gun ownership. Regulate the heck out of it. I live in a state where all liquor sales, even of wine and beer, have to be made through state-licensed stores — but I can order a freaking AR-15 through reddit. This is absurd. End all the loopholes, including the gun show provisions. All gun sales must be made through strictly licensed dealers, with extensive background checks, and all gun sales must be made in person with photo ID and a permanent record made. Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are.

    If you are a responsible gun owner who needs the tool for hunting deer, this should be no burden at all on you. I’m very suspicious of people who insist that their possession of a deadly weapon must be secret and untraceable, and that they must be allowed to buy it from the skeevy guy operating out of a trailer.

  • You have no right to carry a gun in any public place. No more concealed carry permits. No more “stand your ground” laws. Only authorized agents of the law should be carrying weapons in public, and even there, not all of them should be armed, and those who are, should be clearly and obviously armed. You’re packing heat in a movie theater? Fuck, WHY??.

  • End the “gun collector” excuse. I don’t believe the pretense that you’re merely building a historical archive, that you’re simply gathering Americana of note. Collect bottles or hubcaps, instead. If you must insist that you’re creating a museum, OK…then you won’t object if every weapon in your collection is thoroughly and irreversibly modified to be non-functional: firing pins removed, solid plugs placed in the barrel, mechanisms locked in place with a nice glop of super-glue. If you have religious reasaons that they must be functional, go collect old hand grenades and undetonated bombs. You’ll expunge yourself from the population soon enough.

    We have no problem recognizing that if you have a bale of marijuana in your garage you’re in the business of dealing, not just recreationally consuming, drugs. If you’re accumulating an arsenal of deadly weapons, this isn’t for your personal enjoyment any more, you’re up to nefarious purposes.

  • No more “self defense” excuse. The only people we need to defend ourselves from are the jerks who carry guns. And guns are a lousy instrument for self-defense — they’re indiscriminate and irreversible, they tend to punch holes in objects and people that we didn’t intend to punch holes in, and there are no take-backs after you punch a hole in someone by mistake.

    You want to defend yourself? Take a martial arts course. Too unathletic to do that, like me? Support your local police and have a phone by your bedside.

  • Change the culture. You may think you’re a macho stud when you swagger down the street with a pistol at your hip, but the rest of us think you’re a pathetic asshole who is not just stupid, but a real danger to others. The rest of us have to get that message across to the NRA membership.

    There are very few legitimate uses for guns by general citizens — hunting, target shooting — and none of those require assault rifles, secrecy, or huge stockpiles of guns and ammo. If you actually have a practical use for the gun as a tool, I can respect that and have no problem with it, just like people who have a use for a tractor. But you know, it’s a tool with a specific purpose, and the nitwits who want to extend that purpose to being a constant presence in our lives are overcompensating losers.

Now, cue the stupid people declaring their love of guns in the comments, and accusing me of being a commie. I’ll prime your anger by telling you right off the bat that if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    I think your last bullet kind of needs to be number one. Even moderate liberals tend to be pretty wary of gun control laws because of all the ridiculous propaganda, especially about the second amendment.

  2. coragyps says

    Amen, Brother PZed! And that’s from Texas, where even seemingly rational people carry pistols around.

  3. Kengi says

    “Support your local police and have a phone by your bedside.”

    In many (not-so-privileged) communities, the police are part of the problem, and not someone you call for support.

  4. says

    We can criticize and revise the Constitution

    Of course we can. And the “founding fathers” expected that later generations would understand the need to keep the Constitution relevant to evolving society; that’s why they incorporated into that “untouchable” document the means to amend it.

  5. nomennescio says

    “Repeal the second amendment…Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are….The only people we need to defend ourselves from are the jerks who carry guns. You want to defend yourself? Take a martial arts course. Too unathletic to do that, like me? Support your local police and have a phone by your bedside. I’ll prime your anger by telling you right off the bat that if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.”

    This is your idea of where a rational conversation ought to start?

  6. says

    We don’t need to repeal the Second Amendment; we just need to stop ignoring the first half of that sentence.

    Let’s get one thing straight from the start: the Second Amendment does NOT guarantee an unlimited right to bear arms — it merely says “the people” (collectively, not individually) can create WELL-REGULATED MILITIAS to ensure THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE, without the national government having veto power over state and local law-enforcement power. That’s ALL the Second Amendment was ever supposed to do; it was a response to the British government’s restrictions on the arming of local militias for local defense and law-enforcement. Anyone who says otherwise is either an idiot or a lying demagogue.

  7. robinjohnson says

    I’ve also never touched a gun. I grew up in the UK, and never even saw a gun until I went abroad. Shortly after 9/11, you started seeing armed police at airports; other than that, I’ve still never seen one in this country. This is completely mundane to me, but tends to astonish Americans, just like the fact that I can get ill, go to a doctor, get medicine, take it, and get better without putting a hand in my pocket. Both of these comforts are under attack from rightwingers, so I’m not saying we’re better people. It’s possible, is all.

  8. says

    In many (not-so-privileged) communities, the police are part of the problem, and not someone you call for support.

    The answer to that is more political action to reform the security forces. If the cops can’t be trusted, arming undisciplined civilians won’t make much of a difference — the community in general will still be stuck between better-armed criminals and better-armed dirty cops.

  9. says

    Raging Bee:

    That’s ALL the Second Amendment was ever supposed to do; it was a response to the British government’s restrictions on the arming of local militias for local defense and law-enforcement. Anyone who says otherwise is either an idiot or a lying demagogue.

    It was more an attempt to appease the south and protect slavery.

  10. says

    Loved the article. You’re spot on with all your points of discussion.

    But do you see any room for a justifiable “self-defense” argument? I would think women especially could find guns pretty handy going out at night. Although statistics, whatever available, suggest that its more likely that a gun would be used against a woman in violent crime, than used by one in defense.

    Which brings me to my other point: gun-crime research. I have seen several reports (one on the Daily show of all places) that talked about how Congressmen belonging to a certain political party that loves gun-lovers, have in successive years clamped down on gun-crime research by passing regulations banning collection of such data. Other regulations also include severely restricting powers of federal authorities to monitor gun sales. (A regulation on gun regulation, if you will). This is one point of discussion which I have rarely seen given any space. Once, the statistics for gun-crimes become lucid and easily available, these gun-nuts won’t have any excuses to hide behind, and we can carry on with a rational conversation .

  11. doublereed says

    @7 Raging Bee

    The interpretation of Second Amendment as far as the law is concerned, is going to be completely dependent on judicial precedent. And in 2008, the precedent in D.C. vs Heller became the individual’s right to bear arms. So you either have to reverse the decision of Heller, or you can repeal the second amendment. Either one would work.

    ACLU’s position on the Second Amendment

  12. Kaintukee Bob says

    I’m all for gun control, but I do have to say I’m against some of your points here. The biggest one that I oppose is the ‘no carrying’ portion of your argument.

    I do NOT think that people should be able to anonymously buy an AR-15 (or any other assault rifle).
    I’m in favor of requiring that ‘gun collections’ be permanently disarmed.
    I absolutely support background checks, photo ids, etc.

    I’m not in favor of removing people’s ability to carry a weapon for self defense, or to own one for home defense. I’d love it if the American culture changed to the point where such a thing was safe, but the simple fact is that street crime can and does happen, and the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it.

    I think that any gun carrying should be licensed (even open carry). I think that the licenses should have standards set at the Federal level, so that there is no confusion between states. I think that the committing of any violent crime (even one which does not involve a deadly weapon) should strip a person of their license automatically, and not permit them to reapply (or at least not for a long time).

    I don’t personally carry a weapon (though I do have a pistol for home defense) and I don’t particularly feel the need to carry one.

    Oh, another of my beliefs? The next amendment to the Constitution needs to clarify the 2nd. It needs to explicitly limit what can be in private hands (in general terms that will be applicable as weapon tech develops), what can be in militia hands, and what constitutes a militia.

  13. says

    In many (not-so-privileged) communities, the police are part of the problem, and not someone you call for support.

    In any community, the police are not your friend.

  14. says

    And in 2008, the precedent in D.C. vs Heller became the individual’s right to bear arms.

    Really? I remember reading a part of that ruling where the Supremes explicitly said their decision was NOT meant to establish a binding precedent applicable to all state and local gun laws.

    Citing “Heller” has become the favorite bluff of the gun nuts, and we need to start calling them out on it.

  15. retinella says

    The only logical solution is to ban guns except for hunting purposes. It’s quite clear that many “law abiding citizens” can’t handle a gun in public places. Looks like people can’t even trust former cops to carry guns in public.

  16. gussnarp says

    I basically concur. I also concur with comment number 1, by doublereed. We have to change the culture first. We need an awful lot of votes to repeal the Second Amendment, and that can’t happen until the culture changes.

    You’d think the complete insanity of pro-gun people, claiming they need their guns to overthrow the federal government when they become tyrannical, would be enough to get people to realize how outdated and absurd the 2nd Amendment is in a modern industrialized nation. Gun lovers: you are not going to rise up and overthrow the government. The scariest thing I can imagine is that a significant number of Tea Partiers just decide the government is tyrannical (many already do) and needs overthrowing and kill a number of government employees before they are put down like dogs.

    My proposal would be to ban handguns and allow only single shot long guns, and no more than two per adult. But you have to be in the National Guard to own those. Maybe we even have mandatory military service and mandatory gun ownership and training. But the handguns, automatics, and multiple rounds are kept in a well guarded armory.

    But I’ll take just about any regulation that reduces the number of guns on the street. And to all those who say “but then only criminals will have guns”, the real point is that the guns already out there have to be taken and destroyed and the laws have to be significant enough to change the economics of guns. Laws can’t stop a black market, but they can make it more expensive. Right now guns are essentially free. Want to kill somebody? Unable to buy a gun at a store? Go to a gun show, drop a few buck. Or have a friend buy it for you. In Chicago? Have a friend buy it for you in the suburbs. In a gang? Someone will probably just give you one. Effective regulation and bans would have to change this equation. And all the willingness to commit crime doesn’t make a scarce commodity less scarce or exempt you from economic. It just changes your currency.

  17. methuseus says

    I need to ask everyone who thinks people need to carry guns for self-defense:

    What is wrong with something less lethal like pepper spray, or even tasers?

  18. gussnarp says

    @retinella, #16: I see no reason to allow a hunting exemption. That’s just part of the culture we need to change. But if it gets us a lot of other sensible gun laws, I’m willing to accept it.

  19. says

    Kaintukee Bob:

    I’d love it if the American culture changed to the point where such a thing was safe, but the simple fact is that street crime can and does happen, and the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it.

    Citation sorely needed.

    While there are a lot of confounding factors, evidence indicates that developed countries with very strict gun regulations suffer less street crime than countries with lax gun regulations. Other indicators: you are twelve times more likely to be injured or killed by gunshot if there is a gun in the household, vs. being shot by an intruder with no gun in the household. Gun ownership decreases your safety. So the “defense” argument simply doesn’t stand up to data.

  20. says

    Ugh. There it is, the “self defense” argument. It’s bullshit.

    Home break-ins are not that common, home break-ins in which the homeowner is present are even rarer, and home break-ins in which the homeowner dissuades the threat with a gun are ridiculously rare. Meanwhile, asshole homeowners with guns who accidentally shoot themselves or someone else are relatively common.

    You know what would be even better at discouraging break-ins? Hand grenades. If we encouraged people to defend their homes with a supply of hand grenades, thieves would be even more careful about only robbing houses when unoccupied, and they’d run like hell if they heard a stirring in the upstairs bedroom.

    Why isn’t there a National Hand Grenade Association to self-righteously defend my need to a suicidally guard my home?

  21. unbound says

    @Kaintukee Bob (#13), “…the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it…”

    I actually agree with that statement, but, importantly, we don’t have that today, and even your suggestions that follow are too minimal. The requirement for a concealed weapons permit (my father maintains one) is nothing more than having a relatively clean background check, basic safety training, and the ability to shot reasonably accurately at a target. They are not trained well at all regarding when and how to use their weapon, and what instruction is provided is nothing more than a relatively brief seminar.

    It takes people 5x to 10x more time to get a driver’s license than it does to get a concealed weapons permit. And after all that training, we all observe how bad many of those drivers still are. Why in the world would we want those same people to be carrying lethal weapons?

  22. says

    …the simple fact is that street crime can and does happen, and the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it.

    Citation required. Of all the street crime I read about, I can think of only a narrow range of circumstances where a civilian can actually protect him/herself by carrying a gun — i.e., where the civilian can identify who is an armed criminal, and still have time to draw his/her gun before the criminal can draw his.

    Once a criminal has drawn his gun (and thanks to our gun lobby, most criminals have an easy time getting guns, and thus aren’t likely to draw knives), his victim no longer has time to draw his.

  23. Leslee says

    I am a 47 year old woman. I have suffered with severe acne my entire life. The ONLY thing that controls my acne is a drug called Isotretinoin (aka Accutane). In order to take this drug legally in the US, I must do the following:

    * Submit to a monthly blood pregnancy test (even though I’m 47 and have had a tubal ligation)
    * Register my name and SS# on a government-run website (www.ipledgeprogram.com)
    * Inform my doctor each month of the TWO types of birth control I will be using that month
    * Submit to the website my two (approved by doctor) forms of birth control each month
    * Complete an online quiz each month about my birth control methods AND sexual behavior (did I mention that I’m 47 and have NEVER BEEN PREGNANT???)

    If ALL of the above criteria are met, I have exactly ONE week to get my monthly Accutane prescription filled.

    Meanwhile, what do I have to do to obtain a gun? WALK INTO MY LOCAL WALMART AND BUY IT!

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    Kaintukee Bob @13:

    …street crime can and does happen, and the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it

    A paper from the Violence Policy Center;

    Guns are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes. In 2010, across the nation there were only 230 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the Federal
    Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as detailed in its Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). That same year, there were 8,275 criminal gun homicides tallied in the SHR.
    In 2010, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 36 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into account the thousands of lives
    ended in gun suicides (19,392) or unintentional shootings (606) that year

  25. gussnarp says

    @methuseus #18:

    I am not one of those people, but I think I know their answer: pepper spray might not work. Somebody might be on drugs or somehow toughened to it, or you can might fail or have a weak batch.

    No word on what they think of misfires, jams, and bad aim.

    Also, tasers should be banned right now. I see no reason why a private citizen (hell, or a cop) should have ready access to a portable torture device that can also kill, depending on the circumstances.

  26. says

    I love guns. Love shooting them, love looking at them, collecting them, etc. And I have a few.

    But you know what? I totally agree with PZ; and I can’t be alone. There must be other people who have my peculiar affection for guns that are rational enough to agree with PZ wholeheartedly. At some point someone has to figure out that even things he likes may not be good for him, or for society, and he should be willing to give them up. I’d like to see an anti-gun campaign based on the anti-smoking one. Make the beautiful stupid things culturally unacceptable in civilized society.

    I’ll go even further: I’d rather live in a country that totally bans guns and be unable to express and enjoy my peculiar affection rather than in a country dominated by gun lunatics who fetishize a extremely dangerous object.

  27. Kengi says

    @9 Raging Bee

    “The answer to that is more political action to reform the security forces. If the cops can’t be trusted, arming undisciplined civilians won’t make much of a difference — the community in general will still be stuck between better-armed criminals and better-armed dirty cops.”

    And it was a sign of privilege for PZ to demand people in those communities should just support the police. Reform the police force first, only then ask people to trust them.

    In the meantime, arming yourself with a gun will, in fact, make a difference when someone is trying to break into your house. In fact, some of those you call “criminals” may be better people to call for help in such a situation.

    Again, don’t tell people to give up their only reasonable defense and trust in the police *until* you give them a police force they can trust.

  28. says

    Ugh. There it is, the “self defense” argument. It’s bullshit.

    Actually, I tend to find self-defense arguments kinda sorta plausible…until some gun nut opens his mouth to make it, at which point I find myself thinking “There’s no way those loons can be trusted with guns!”

  29. says

    In the meantime, arming yourself with a gun will, in fact, make a difference when someone is trying to break into your house.

    Only if you’re there when the break-in occurs, and only if you’re able to get the drop on the intruder. And actual experience has proven that very few break-ins happen that way.

    Again, don’t tell people to give up their only reasonable defense and trust in the police *until* you give them a police force they can trust.

    Actual experience has shown, again and again, that carrying your own gun is NOT a reasonable self-defense tactic in most situations.

  30. rossthompson says

    I grew up in the UK, and never even saw a gun until I went abroad. Shortly after 9/11, you started seeing armed police at airports; other than that, I’ve still never seen one in this country.

    I used to do night work on Fleet Street, just down the road from an Armed Response Unit. It wasn’t rare for me to see three or four police officers sitting on the hood of their car outside McDonalds at 11pm, carrying assualt rifles. But that was the only time I ever saw a firable gun in Britain.

    Now that I’m in America, I sometimes notice that a police officer I notice a holster, and it honestly scares me. Which is to say nothing of how I feel when I realise that people I work with or know socially carry guns around with them as a matter of course…

  31. robinjohnson says

    Is the argument about what the Second Amendment really means a bit of a distraction? If someone found a missing page of the original Constitution that unambiguously explained how the Founding Fathers wanted everyone to carry concealed assault pistols in order to shoot anyone who annoyed them, it’d still be a terrible idea for how to run a society. Conversely, if the missing page explained clearly that the ‘militia’ requirement was covered by the police and the army, it wouldn’t change any gun nuts’ opinions.

  32. Kaintukee Bob says

    @unbound: That’s absolutely something I would like to see changed. It should be HARD to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The current standards are not enough.

    @Raging Bee: “thanks to our gun lobby, most criminals have an easy time getting guns”

    That’s sort of my point. Until that changes, and it needs to change, self defense will be a valid argument.

    @PZ: I’m sorry, but you are an upper-middle-class white male. I can tell you (from anecdotal evidence) that when you are living in lower-class neighborhoods break-ins are more common, and can frequently go unreported. There was at least one time when my wife and I awoke to the sounds of someone trying to force their way into our home. Like any sensible person, I consolidated my family (all of us in the kid’s room) and called the police. Thankfully, the would-be burglar got spooked and ran before getting into our home. It took the police 15 minutes to arrive.

    @gussnap: There is absolutely a need for a hunting exception. I know several families who are still alive because they can go out during hunting season and get enough meat to butcher, prepare, and store. Without being able to hunt, there’s a good chance that many of them would not have survived. You want to take away hunting? Get an adequate social safety net first.

  33. alt3 says

    You know, regarding the story that kicked this particular debate off I’ve noticed an odd trend. Every article I’ve read about it explicitly mentions that the guy was texting during the previews. Often in the title of the article. Is this really relevant? Would it matter if he had been texting, or fuck, talking openly on his cell phone, during the actual movie? We have assholes in Canada too (I’m one of them sometimes), and I’ve never had a gun pulled on me* over it. It just seems to me like they’re saying “Yeah, if it’d been during the actual movie this would have been a totally reasonable response.” Instead of the more obvious message “This guy is a crazy asshole. Fuck this guy.” But I might be reading too much into it.

    *I have had a cop unbutton his gun when talking to me. However, given the facts present to him he had good reason to be skittish.

  34. methuseus says

    I agree with the hunting exception. Maybe require a valid hunting license to get a gun? I didn’t eat hunted food for the most part, but I know plenty who did, as it can be quite cheap if you are skilled and use a firearm that has been in the family for a while and kept clean, etc.

  35. doublereed says

    I find the self-defense argument laughable. Guns are used to commit suicide.

    Think about the bet you’re making with yourself. You’re betting that you and your family are all mentally stable enough, and always will be mentally stable throughout their life. One slip and someone dies, and that’s not even including accidents. You’re betting that against the possibility of a home intruder.

    Come on, that’s a terrible bet.

  36. gussnarp says

    @Ken Enas #27: You’re definitely not alone. I’ve enjoyed shooting, I even taught shooting sports for a while.

    But I’ve realized that the world I thought I lived in as a young man is not the world I actually live in, and that my fun with guns doesn’t justify the murders, suicides, “accidental” deaths, and accidental deaths caused by guns every day. So my guns are now locked in a gun safe in my father’s house, never to come out until I find a way to ensure they are permanently disposed of.

    I realized one day that, even if I set aside the odds of gun accident, suicide, or some member of my family going nuts and killing the rest based on my being a “safe, responsible gun owner”, the odds are still greater that someone will break into my house while I’m not home, steal my guns, and find a way to get the trigger locks off and they’ll end up used in a murder, than that someone will break in while I’m home and I’ll be able to use the gun to defend myself.

  37. cry4turtles says

    After being a victim of a stalker, and accidentally thwarting a home invasion ( my hubby was eating dinner at a bar when an accomplice informed him of the pending B&E. I was going to be home alone, and they planned to, “Take me out.” In their words), I’ll not give up my handgun. When I’m home alone, I carry it in every room, even the bathroom, down to the barn, etc. While I agree that access as well as type of weapons available need to be better monitored, I’ll not give up my handgun. I’m not as fanatical as “Cold, dead hands”, but my handgun is my peace of mind, and I’m not a fan of shooting it or guns in general.

  38. Rob Grigjanis says

    Kaintukee Bob @34:

    That’s sort of my point. Until that changes, and it needs to change, self defense will be a valid argument.

    Further to my #25: Assuming that the justifiable homicides were indeed justifiable, and that they all saved an innocent life (doubtful), that still leaves

    Justifiable homicides/saved lives: 230
    Accidental gun homicides: 606

    If seatbelts killed 2.6 times as many people as they saved, the ‘debate’ on their efficacy wouldn’t last very long.

  39. vaiyt says

    I live in a country where some cities have more gun homicides than places in the line of fire of fucking civil wars. Note that the sale of guns here is restricted. I guess our situation would be improved if we let every schmuck own a gun, so we could get more fucking stray bullets, more shootouts with collateral damage, and even more people killing each other over petty reasons.

  40. gussnarp says

    @Kaintuckee Bob, #34:

    I’ve noticed there’s a huge urban/rural divide when guns are discussed. Actually, it exists with every political issue, including poverty. So the rural poor are often ignored, unless they’re being used to demonstrate to racists that white people are poor, too. I live in an urban area, and no one is hunting to survive. Only people with some amount of money hunt, because it requires them to get in a car (or gas guzzling SUV) and drive out to where they can hunt. It’s a sport of the affluent. So I was guilty of ignoring the rural poor, for whom the situation is quite different.

    But the solution is, as you point out, an adequate social safety net, not a hunting exemption. Politically speaking, I think we’ve got a way better chance of ensuring that everyone can eat than we do of passing almost any gun regulation anyway.

  41. Kaintukee Bob says

    Regarding the UK: I’d love it if the US had the UK’s gun culture. Most people don’t have guns, most people never see guns, and most criminals aren’t able to get their hands on them. Please, please, please tell me how we can make this happen in the US, realistically. I’d love for the gun nuts to lose the legs they lean upon.

    I want to make sure my position is clear, because I’m seeing a lot of people who seem to be putting me into a pigeon hole: I do NOT think I am a gun nut. I also realize that most gun nuts don’t consider themselves to be gun nuts. I do NOT carry a weapon around, and do not have my concealed carry license. I do have a single pistol for home defense, and I am glad that I have never had cause to use it.

    I do not believe people should be allowed to own a “wall o’ guns” that are all in firing condition, or that people should be allowed to stockpile tens of thousands of rounds of ammo.

    I do not think gun sales should be anonymous, I do not think that people should be able to buy them from just anyone, and I do not think people who have a history of violent acts should ever be allowed firearms.

    I do believe that people have a right to self-defense, and that one method that should be legal is gun ownership. I believe that carrying a weapon in public should be the exception, and that people licensed to do so should be exceptional (as in, well-trained, demonstrably stable, etc). I don’t support the current climate, where anyone can get a license after an hour ‘class’ and 10 minutes on a range.

    I believe that people should be able to own a small number of rifles and/or shotguns for hunting or sport purposes.

    I believe that people should be able to collect and display guns (once they are suitably and irreversibly disarmed) as art objects or historical objects.

    I believe that the police should be part of the solution, not the problem, but I also believe that right now it can vary heavily based on your local police. Far too many cops are just thugs with a badge, and that should change.

    In short, I believe in gun control and regulation, social reform to reduce the rates of violent crime, and the limited ownership of guns by responsible adults.

  42. says

    @PZ: I’m sorry, but you are an upper-middle-class white male.

    So are a lot of the gun-nuts. Your point…? PZ has at least a bit of actual facts, statistics and experience on his side, so citing his race and class is just plain stupid.

    I can tell you (from anecdotal evidence) that when you are living in lower-class neighborhoods break-ins are more common, and can frequently go unreported…

    And why is there so much danger in your community? Because the party that supports the “right to bear arms” also supports a raft of tax-cuts, spending cuts and other policies that leave communities like yours impoverished, deprived of opportunities, and deprived of decent police coverage. Think of that next time the NRA says they’re in it for your safety.

  43. gussnarp says

    @doublereed – I remember a discussion of suicide a while back on, maybe Science Friday, and one researcher was discussing the statistics and the one factor that correlates with suicide rates by state or region is gun ownership. Suicide rate is defined as the number of people who commit suicide, meaning they succeed at killing themselves. Attempts don’t count. Attempts are probably fairly invariant across regions. But suicide rates are much higher in states with high gun ownership rates. It seems the most effective way to ensure that people don’t kill themselves is to not have a gun in their home.

    Also, do you play the oboe?

  44. vaiyt says

    After being a victim of a stalker, and accidentally thwarting a home invasion ( my hubby was eating dinner at a bar when an accomplice informed him of the pending B&E. I was going to be home alone, and they planned to, “Take me out.” In their words), I’ll not give up my handgun. When I’m home alone, I carry it in every room, even the bathroom, down to the barn, etc. While I agree that access as well as type of weapons available need to be better monitored, I’ll not give up my handgun. I’m not as fanatical as “Cold, dead hands”, but my handgun is my peace of mind, and I’m not a fan of shooting it or guns in general.

    Do you think this is an argument in favor of handguns, or in favor of a more secure country in general?

  45. georgelocke says

    I’ll prime your anger by telling you right off the bat that if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.

    as much as I agree with most of what PZ has to say in the article, this is just fucking irritating. Mr. Myers, if you care about promoting a rational approach to issues, please desist from proclaiming your unwillingness to listen to reason.

  46. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Rob: Yeah, I agree. Those are terrible numbers. I believe that if they were better regulated and the licenses were given in a sane way, the number of ‘justifiable’ homicides would decrease. I also believe the other number would decrease significantly.

    Regarding suicides: suicide is awful and terrible. I have some personal experience with suicide, and I would hate to have any more. But suicide doesn’t require a gun. If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly. Once someone has decided to end their life, the lack of a gun won’t keep them from doing it. The only thing I know of that can is a support network of people who care about them, therapy, and possibly (physiological) medical assistance. Guns are a method, not the cause. They are a convenient, quick method, certainly, but removing them would not reduce the rate of suicides notably.

    @alt3: No one is commenting on the original story because no one disagrees. It’s completely ridiculous for someone to shoot another person for such a trivial matter. It wouldn’t have mattered if he’d be standing up and playing a tuba during the movie, shooting him was a terrible and criminal act.

  47. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    please desist from proclaiming your unwillingness to listen to reason.

    Gun nuts don’t argue from reason. If they did, range safety rules would be enforced with rigor, and nobody would match gun and ammo until ready to fire the weapon.

  48. georgelocke says

    @Nerd of Redhead #49

    does that mean that we shouldn’t listen to people who “love guns”? maybe we shouldn’t listen to people who disagree with us in general?

  49. gussnarp says

    @Kengi – I’ll acknowledge my privilege as a fellow white male with PZ up front, but the question we ought to ask here is whether easy access to firearms is helping or harming poor and minority communities.

    Yes, cops don’t always provide the protection they should in those communities.
    Yes, there are far too many cops who murder black men in cold blood.

    But I think statistics bear out that guns in the hands of private citizens kill far more people in those communities. More, in fact, than they kill anywhere else. That is, in fact, a major source of my opposition to guns. Stories like the one that prompted this post, or like Sandy Hook, make the news and get people talking, but even thought they’re more common than we’d like, they’re still rare. Odds are no one is going to open fire on my kids’ schools. But people are opening fire on poor, inner city schools all the time. Those murder rates we see everyday are mostly happening in poor, black communities. I don’t blame those communities in any way, but I do think that the number of guns readily available is killing poor, black people, especially kids, at a disproportionate rate and that controlling those guns will help dramatically, probably more than any attempt at police reform ever could.

  50. says

    I do believe that people have a right to self-defense, and that one method that should be legal is gun ownership.

    I generally agree with this position. The problem is that: a) too many people really aren’t making sensible threat-assessments when they buy and carry guns, so their response to threats (real or perceived) has shown a strong likelihood of being irrational, and thus causing more harm than good; and b) people are known to do shitloads of irrational things with guns, regardless of what they were thinking when they bought them.

    Self-defense is a collective decision, not just an individual one. And we, as a society, have to weigh all of the known risks against each other, and not just respond shortsightedly to one threat. Yes, there’s a risk to restricting people’s ability to arm ourselves; but there seems to be greater risk in NOT restricting it. So it’s not at all reasonable to just assume that owning our own guns really makes us safer overall.

  51. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly. Once someone has decided to end their life, the lack of a gun won’t keep them from doing it.

    You’re simply wrong, and I think part of you knows that you’re wanting very much to believe this because not believing it challenges other things you want to be true. Suicide absolutely does drop when guns aren’t readily available—the very statistic itself you’re disputing shows that. Failed suicide attempts are more common with pills and other methods. Guns are a particularly lethal and effective way to go. Having no access to a gun gets a lot of people over the initial window of despair that would otherwise have blown their brains out.

  52. says

    Another thing that would be nice to see is this: Many gun clubs and shooting ranges across the country, where you can go to participate in trap/skeet shooting and so forth, require NRA membership as a prerequisite for club membership. The NRA is more than happy to use such tactics to inflate its membership and keep the pinko libruls out of their ranges. Do away with that notion, and their membership, coffers, and political influence might well decline. I don’t see a practical means of doing that, however. Thoughts?

  53. doublereed says

    Regarding suicides: suicide is awful and terrible. I have some personal experience with suicide, and I would hate to have any more. But suicide doesn’t require a gun. If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly. Once someone has decided to end their life, the lack of a gun won’t keep them from doing it. The only thing I know of that can is a support network of people who care about them, therapy, and possibly (physiological) medical assistance. Guns are a method, not the cause. They are a convenient, quick method, certainly, but removing them would not reduce the rate of suicides notably.

    Bullshit. It has nothing to do with convenience or quickness. It has to do with failure rates. Guns are one of the most “effective” ways to commit suicide. There would absolutely be less suicides if people didn’t have access to guns. Access to guns is one of the biggest indicators whether you live or die.

    The argument of “self-defense” is a sick joke.

  54. says

    But suicide doesn’t require a gun. If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly.

    What you think doesn’t square with the observable reality, which is a lot more complex than your simple picture of how suicide works.

  55. Scr... Archivist says

    Kaintuckee Bob @43

    Regarding the UK: I’d love it if the US had the UK’s gun culture.Regarding the UK: I’d love it if the US had the UK’s gun culture.

    Since the U.S. is not monolithic when it comes to culture or gun regulation, I’d be interested to see which states are most like the U.K. or Canada with regard to this issue. Maybe there are already good examples of states doing something right, policies and practices that other states and regions can learn from.

  56. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Raging Bee: I completely agree, the correct course of action is to improve the social safety net and stop the policies that have impoverished so many communities. I’ve never thought anything else.

    But until that happens, there are still criminals out there and the past 200+ years have ensured that they have a ready supply of guns. Saying, ‘We can fix this over the next decade’ won’t matter to the people who get shot by a crackhead tomorrow. Social change, like anything that will be effective in the long-term, takes time. I want to spend that time, to bring about those social changes, and I will support any cause which aims to do that (in a way that I believe could work, at least). But until that change is well underway, I don’t support taking guns away from women fleeing abusive boyfriends or people who are trying to live life in crappy areas.

    @Raging Bee: I know lots of gun nuts are well-off white guys. I think they’re idiots and oppose almost all of the things they stand for. I don’t think they should own 28 long guns, a fully automatic AR-15, and enough ammo to supply an army. I think PZ’s stance is far better than theirs, I simply disagree with a few portions of it.

    For the record? The NRA are (generally) assholes. “From my cold, dead hands” is a terrible mantra to support and the NRA’s goals are largely opposed to my own. We simply have common ground on self/home defense being something that can be accomplished with handguns, though we have widely divergent opinions on what should be required for a concealed carry license.

  57. doublereed says

    Oh wait, apparently convenience and quickness is relevant, as well as failure rates. Nevermind. Of course, that’s even worse, but I stand corrected.

  58. Dunc says

    If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly. Once someone has decided to end their life, the lack of a gun won’t keep them from doing it.

    The statistics disagree with you (quite forcefully) – access to firearms is one of the most significant risk factors for suicide. The thing is, a lot of people make a suicide attempt, either screw it up or have a change of heart, and then go on to get help and make a recovery. With a gun in the equation, they are far more likely to succeed first time, and there is no opportunity to reconsider halfway through.

  59. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You know what? I don’t trust myself enough to have a gun in my house. You know why? Because I’m a human. Not because there’s something “wrong” with me. Because I know humans—and that includes me, and you, responsible gun owner—are prone to rash, stupid decisions made in the face of fear or anger.

    This is a problem with humans. Not with “irresponsible people” or “crazy people.”

    The best way to facilitate horrible decisions is to believe that it’s not you, it’s those other people, who can’t be trusted. If you don’t distrust yourself in a healthy, reasonable way, you’re dangerous.

  60. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Kaintuckee Bob

    Regarding the UK: I’d love it if the US had the UK’s gun culture. Most people don’t have guns, most people never see guns, and most criminals aren’t able to get their hands on them. Please, please, please tell me how we can make this happen in the US, realistically.

    Here’s a government-issued guide on the latest UK gun laws. Chapters 10 and 11 deal with Firearm Certificates and Shot Gun Certificates.

    This is a fairly good basic run down.

    Basically, you must have a valid SGC to own a shotgun (in the UK this is defined as a smoothbore firearm with shoots pellets (not slugs), and only shotguns which can take a maximum of three cartriges can be held with an SGC). This can be applied for at any police station. You are assumed to have a right to own a shotgun, but you’re still subject to a medical and criminal records check, and getting the license in the first place costs £50. And they’re only valid for 5 years.

    Any other firearm requires a FAC. For an FAC you have to go through all of the above and you have to demonstrate a need for the firearm in question (so you are not assumed to have a right to own one, as you are with a shotgun). You have to demonstrate a need for each individual firearm, though only one license is needed. As I understand it the only licenses a civilian is likely to recieve are for hunting rifles (section 1) or for historic firearms for collector purposes.

    Every single firearm, whether held under an SGC or an FAC has to be registered. In order to get either license, you have to demonstrate that you have the means to store the guns securely, which in reality means you have to own a wall-mounted, lockable gun cabinet. It is an offence to store guns in a manner which is not safe and secure. It’s illegal to carry guns around in public without an express purpose, regardless of whether the gun is licensed or not. It is illegal to buy a firearm through an unlicensed dealer. It is illegal to possess live amunition if you do not possess a license, or if the ammunition is for a gun you do not own (i.e. you must have a good reason to possess any ammunition).

    Start enacting laws like these, and attach strict penalties to breaching them, and you may have a start.

  61. skephtic says

    I agree with many of your points, especially getting rid of all the exemptions. And I think having a gun in the house makes people more likely to kill a family member than a burglar, however, I think these two things don’t go together:

    “Where a rational conversation about guns ought to start” and
    “if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.

    You can’t start a rational conversation by saying that you’ll refuse to engage in one.

  62. says

    Saying, ‘We can fix this over the next decade’ won’t matter to the people who get shot by a crackhead tomorrow.

    This shortsighted hyperemotional argument is consistently used to justify opposition to ANY attempt to restrict availability of guns, including background checks, waiting periods, etc. And it is also used (as you are using it here) to shout down sensible discussion of how much good a gun is really likely to do you in a given situation. No, we don’t live in a perfect world yet — but that doesn’t make owning a gun a good idea, any more than it makes owning a tank a good idea.

  63. inflection says

    Lauren @14: In any community, the police are not your friend.

    I have lived in communities of sizes ranging from major city to isolated small town and have never had problems with the police. I don’t think the attitude you suggest is wise, reasonably supported, or helpful.

    Perhaps I would have a different view if I were black, or a member of some other marginalized community, but when it comes to crime prevention and public safety I have always found any random police officer to be, more likely than not, helpful and professional.

    Regarding the gun debate, the point I always hammer on is the practical, since declarations of principle or invocations of a couple of dozen dead kids tend to fail to move a gun nut: keeping a gun near you makes you less safe, not more safe. You are very unlikely to use the gun to defend yourself from a crime. You are much more likely to harm yourself or a loved one by accident, or in anger or suicide. Guns make you less safe.

    Nor does knowledge that you have a gun deter crime. One of the biggest targets of specific home invasions? The crook knew there was a gun in the house and wanted it. Your gun isn’t a defense. It’s bait.

  64. Kaintukee Bob says

    The fact that an argument can be incorrectly applied to a wide range of cases doesn’t invalidate it for use in a limited scope, the way I am using it. As a stopgap measure, responsible gun ownership has been shown to stop some violent crime. There are a number of ‘justifiable’ homicides on record, as was discussed earlier. Each of these is an instance where responsible gun ownership worked. What isn’t tracked is the number of times when a criminal was wounded by someone carrying for self-defense, or where someone backed down before any shots were fired.

    And who has advocated owning a tank? There’s absolutely no need for that, and no one is suggesting there is. I can’t tell if you’re making a slippery slope fallacy (because owning handguns in no logical way will lead to private ownership of tanks) or a strawman argument.

    I have been proven incorrect on the suicide aspect, this I grant. I haven’t spent much time considering that aspect, and my initial thoughts were wrong. That said, I have given significant thought to the self-defense and home defense aspects, and I’ve seen nothing to convince me that they are wrong. They can absolutely be made better and safer, and I fully believe that doing so sensibly will result in a significantly smaller number of guns carried in public.

    Please tell me what alternative there is to a handgun for self-defense. If there’s a safer, saner way for a person to defend themselves from an armed attacker I will fully support it. If not, I will continue to support fixing the laws around gun ownership and gun carrying to make them safer and saner.

  65. inflection says

    Lauren @14: “In any community, the police are not your friend.”

    I have lived in communities of sizes ranging from major city to isolated small town and have never had problems with the police. I don’t think the attitude you suggest is wise, reasonably supported, or helpful.

    Perhaps I would have a different view if I were black, or a member of some other marginalized community, but when it comes to crime prevention and public safety I have always found any random police officer to be, more likely than not, helpful and professional.

    Regarding the gun debate, the point I always hammer on is the practical, since declarations of principle or invocations of a couple of dozen dead kids tend to fail to move a gun lover: keeping a gun near you makes you less safe, not more safe. You are very unlikely to use the gun to defend yourself from a crime. You are much more likely to harm yourself or a loved one by accident, or in anger or suicide. Guns make you less safe.

    Nor does knowledge that you have a gun deter crime. One of the biggest targets of specific home invasions? The crook knew there was a gun in the house and wanted it. Your gun isn’t a defense. It’s bait.

  66. ButchKitties says

    If I’m worried about self-defense and protecting my home, I can think of better ways to spend my money than buying a gun and all the shooting lessons I would need to have even the slightest chance of using it effectively. Solid doors, reinforced door frames and strike plates, bump-proof deadbolts, an alarm system, maybe even anti-shatter security film on certain windows… all things that are far more likely to deter a break-in than a gun, no chance that I’ll accidentally (or intentionally) shoot myself or a guest, and they’ll work even if I’m not home.

  67. gussnarp says

    Here I got all involved in this discussion and forgot my new rule: I don’t argue with gun advocates who have not listened to these three things (is there a link limit in here?):

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/498/the-one-thing-youre-not-supposed-to-do?act=2#play
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/487/harper-high-school-part-one
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/488/harper-high-school-part-two

    I would add to that reading or listening to one of the stories discussing the strong correlation of access to firearms with suicide and knowing enough about economics to realize that criminals are subject to scarcity as well as legal purchasers.

  68. says

    As a stopgap measure, responsible gun ownership has been shown to stop some violent crime.

    The operative word here is “some.” That’s a bit like saying that drug-addicts have cured “some” diseases with their drug of choice.

    There are a number of ‘justifiable’ homicides on record…

    …and a far greater number of UNjustifiable homicides. Google “stand your ground laws” and see what comes up. And that’s just for starters.

    Each of these is an instance where responsible gun ownership worked.

    What was also discussed earlier is the far greater number of instances where gun ownership did NOT “work.” You can bang on all you want about “some” good uses of guns; but the numbers seem to show that unrestricted gun ownership really does endanger more innocent lives than it saves.

  69. vaiyt says

    Saying, ‘We can fix this over the next decade’ won’t matter to the people who get shot by a crackhead tomorrow.

    You’re assuming facts not in evidence; i.e., that having a gun will make someone automatically safer against crackheads, and that it will offset the increased risks to their, and other’s, lives elsewhere.

    This country I happen to live in has a much lower rate of gun ownership than the US. The guns that we do have, however, aren’t making us any safer. For every time a gun owner successfully shoots a criminal that’s a threat to their life, we get many more shot to death by drawing a gun during a B&E, or shooting their loved ones, or letting their kids reach the gun, or shooting people over road rage, or getting their gun stolen and used by criminals…
    We already have enough problems with the police and gangs killing people with guns; I shudder to imagine how much more danger would we have if every schmuck in the street were carrying one.

  70. says

    ButchKitties makes an important point @69. We need to stop talking about guns as if they’re the ONLY way to stop crime. Crime isn’t that simple, and there’s plenty of ways to respond effectively to it, both short- and long-term.

  71. Kaintukee Bob says

    @69 ButchKitties: I definitely applaud your approach – you are quite reasonable in knowing that you would need practice to use a gun safely and well, and the alternatives you suggest should be quite adequate to protect you.

    These options aren’t open to many people. Many people rent. When you rent, you generally can’t do things like add film to windows, change locks, add locks, install an alarm system, etc. Far too many landlords won’t add those features, and few people are willing to so improve a place they don’t own.

  72. A Masked Avenger says

    Raging Bee, #7:

    it merely says “the people” (collectively, not individually) can create WELL-REGULATED MILITIAS to ensure THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE…

    You can counter the gun nuts without resorting to nonsense like this, Bee. If “the people” denotes a collective right, then the first and fourth amendments are also collective, not individual, rights. I.e., you personally have no right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure: “the people” do. And you personally don’t have a right to assemble peaceably: “the people” do.

    The tenth amendment also makes it clear that “the people” does not refer to the states: it reserves all powers not specifically enumerated to the federal government for the states or “the people.”

    PZ is making a principled case for repealing the 2nd amendment. That’s the way to go–not some sort of bastardization of language where we reinterpret it the way a fundie does his Bible.

  73. Christopher says

    Repeal the second amendment.

    Good luck with that one. There is no way you will ever get 3/4 of the states to agree to that.

    Regulate gun ownership. Regulate the heck out of it. I live in a state where all liquor sales, even of wine and beer, have to be made through state-licensed stores — but I can order a freaking AR-15 through reddit. This is absurd. End all the loopholes, including the gun show provisions. All gun sales must be made through strictly licensed dealers, with extensive background checks, and all gun sales must be made in person with photo ID and a permanent record made. Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are.

    If you order an AR-15 through reddit, it will go through an FFL with a background check. Only person-to-person, private party transactions on the used market in some states can occur without going through an FFL. To change that would require change on a state level or another constitutional amendment.

    Are you honestly proposing listing every gun owner’s address for every thief to make their shopping list? Why don’t you make a public list of everyone’s jewlery collection while you are at it.

    You have no right to carry a gun in any public place. No more concealed carry permits. No more “stand your ground” laws. Only authorized agents of the law should be carrying weapons in public, and even there, not all of them should be armed, and those who are, should be clearly and obviously armed. You’re packing heat in a movie theater? Fuck, WHY??.

    Because no one has ever been the victim of violence in a movie theater before….

    End the “gun collector” excuse.

    How is a man with 50 guns more dangerous than a man with one gun? You realize that guns don’t fire themselves right?

    No more “self defense” excuse. The only people we need to defend ourselves from are the jerks who carry guns.

    Because in the whole history of humanity, the physically strong have never used violence against the physically weak to get what they want….

    Change the culture.

    Ill informed rants like this only make the pro-gun side dig in and cement their position. Nothing helps the pro-gun culture more than ranting anti-gunners. Just look at last year’s sales…

    There are very few legitimate uses for guns by general citizens — hunting, target shooting — and none of those require assault rifles, secrecy, or huge stockpiles of guns and ammo.

    Both hunting and target shooting tend to result in people buying multiple guns: you don’t hunt quail, deer, moose, ducks, and squirrels with the same gun or caliber and you don’t use the same gun for skeet, 3-gun, high power, and benchrest target shooting.

    AR-15 pattern rifles are the most popular target rifle in America right now and quickly becoming the most popular hunting rifle as well due to the inherent accuracy of the design, the execelent ergonomics, the huge aftermarket support, the multitude of supported calibers, and the fact that Uncle Sam taught millions of Americans how to shoot on that style of rifle.

    Lastly, some target shooting can consume quite a lot of ammunition. It is not uncommon to go through several thousand rounds over a weekend per person. Having a few weekends worth of stockpile is very sensible, especially these days where ammo flys off the shelf as soon as it is restocked.

    Another thing that would be nice to see is this: Many gun clubs and shooting ranges across the country, where you can go to participate in trap/skeet shooting and so forth, require NRA membership as a prerequisite for club membership. The NRA is more than happy to use such tactics to inflate its membership and keep the pinko libruls out of their ranges. Do away with that notion, and their membership, coffers, and political influence might well decline. I don’t see a practical means of doing that, however. Thoughts?

    You can thank anti-gun folks for that. Due to their pressure, the only people who will insure a firing range is the NRA and they require that any full members of the insured gun club be NRA members as well. If you want access to NRA goodies, you have to be an NRA member, just like if you want access to AARP insurance, you have to be an AARP member.

    All this handwringing because some assholes in Flordia got into a fight in a movie theater? Where was the blog post pushing for a ban on meat thermometers when this happened:

    A dispute at a Lancaster movie theater during a screening of “Shutter Island” ended with someone plunging a meat thermometer into the neck of the man who complained about someone sitting near him talking on a cellphone during the show.

  74. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Raging Bee: Are you somehow still under the impression that I am satisfied with the status quo regarding gun ownership? I advocate responsible gun ownership.

  75. A Masked Avenger says

    PZ, #21:

    Home break-ins are not that common, home break-ins in which the homeowner is present are even rarer…

    That’s an impressive display of privilege, there–you should keep it on a nicknack shelf!

    I have friends living in places like Baltimore, including people of color and lower socioeconomic class, who have had multiple break-ins over the years, including hot break-ins while they ate supper downstairs.

    Since we’re extrapolating from our personal experience, I’d like to put in a plug for the police. I’ve never been stopped and frisked (because I’m white), and I’ve never been sexually assaulted in the back of a cruiser (because I’m male), so I know that women and people of color can safely trust the police. Two cops in my town were recently suspended for taking women into custody and then “disappearing” for an hour or two at a time, but nothing ever happened to me, so I know it’s really nothing.

  76. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher

    Your first two points are good, and you may have a point about needing multiple guns for different game and target sports, but that does presume that people are interested in being involved in different styles of hunting/target sports (personal aside; why on earth would anyone want to hunt squirrel?). Other than that, your points are pure drivel. Two I have a particular issue with:

    Lastly, some target shooting can consume quite a lot of ammunition. It is not uncommon to go through several thousand rounds over a weekend per person. Having a few weekends worth of stockpile is very sensible, especially these days where ammo flys off the shelf as soon as it is restocked.

    Did it seriously not occurr to you that the reason it flies off the shelves is because everyone insists on buying thousands of rounds at a time? Circular reasoning at it’s best.

    All this handwringing because some assholes in Flordia got into a fight in a movie theater?

    This is just callous. A man died, you steaming arsehole.

  77. says

    Gun nuts and their collective idiocy.

    Because no one has ever been the victim of violence in a movie theater before….

    And having more guns in theaters would solve that problem.

    Because in the whole history of humanity, the physically strong have never used violence against the physically weak to get what they want….

    So arming people makes the weak strong? Shall we have a new race, where the ones with the biggest guns win?

    How is a man with 50 guns more dangerous than a man with one gun?

    Because that arsenal is a sign of a dangerously disturbed individual. I am not at all afraid of the gun owner who has a couple of rifles that he or she and his family use every deer season; the guy with a stockpile of weird guns that are mostly useless in any practical, ordinary sense? Total wackjob. Get him some psychological counseling.

    I can tell you (from anecdotal evidence) that when you are living in lower-class neighborhoods break-ins are more common, and can frequently go unreported. There was at least one time when my wife and I awoke to the sounds of someone trying to force their way into our home. Like any sensible person, I consolidated my family (all of us in the kid’s room) and called the police. Thankfully, the would-be burglar got spooked and ran before getting into our home. It took the police 15 minutes to arrive.

    Your anecdote says that concern for your family’s safety and calling for help were effective…would it have been better if you’d raced out, guns blazing?

  78. Andrew says

    There’s no need to amend the constitution, we can regulate guns with the second amendment in place. As a few others have pointed out, the US has a common-law legal system and much is decided by jurisprudence. It would take a lot of political will to pass gun restrictions and fight them out in court, though, which I fear doesn’t exist due to ingrained notions of personal freedom, paranoia about personal safety, and distrust of authority.

    If we must have an individual right to bear arms, I have a modest proposal: all guns are licensed and registered. If you lose your gun, you get charged with criminal negligence. If your gun is used in the committing of a crime, you get charged as an accessory. That ought to make at least some people think twice about buying one.

  79. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are.
    If you are a responsible gun owner who needs the tool for hunting deer, this should be no burden at all on you.

    No. If you’re a responsible gun owner who needs the tool for hunting deer and, say, are a woman who speaks publicly online about feminism or some other topic sure to rile up the assholes, you’re suddenly very easy for people to track down in your home.

    I’m very much for the registration of guns, but don’t assume every person who owns a gun truly is someone who would never be in danger by people being able to look up where they live. With any loss of privacy there is some trade-off there and it would have a disproportionate impact on more vulnerable people. I agree that guns should be controlled and this is a fair trade-off, but it’s not accurate to describe it as “no burden at all”. Probably no burden at all to the majority of people who’d be prone to complaining about it, though.

  80. Bernard Bumner says

    I advocate responsible gun ownership.

    Responsible private ownership would presumably be to remove and destroy the firing pin and then encase the weapon in concrete before throwing it into a deep hole. (Okay, that isn’t very environmentally responsible, but it is safe.)

    Even responsible gun owners can quickly become irresponsible under psychological pressure, in times of heightened emotion, whilst intoxicated, etc, etc.

    And that is to presume that you can prevent those of criminal intent taking that responsibly owned gun and using it to cause harm.

  81. David Marjanović says

    Face it, the second amendment stinks: it’s an 18th century relic

    It’s a relict treated as a relic. That’s the problem.

    The interpretation of Second Amendment as far as the law is concerned, is going to be completely dependent on judicial precedent. And in 2008, the precedent in D.C. vs Heller became the individual’s right to bear arms. So you either have to reverse the decision of Heller, or you can repeal the second amendment. Either one would work.

    Whether that’s true or not (see comment 15), the fact that judges can legislate in Common Law isn’t a feature, it’s a bug.

    That’s why no place – not even Louisiana – has ever introduced Common Law of its own free will.

    But I’ll take just about any regulation that reduces the number of guns on the street. And to all those who say “but then only criminals will have guns”, the real point is that the guns already out there have to be taken and destroyed and the laws have to be significant enough to change the economics of guns. Laws can’t stop a black market, but they can make it more expensive. Right now guns are essentially free. Want to kill somebody? Unable to buy a gun at a store? Go to a gun show, drop a few buck. Or have a friend buy it for you. In Chicago? Have a friend buy it for you in the suburbs. In a gang? Someone will probably just give you one. Effective regulation and bans would have to change this equation. And all the willingness to commit crime doesn’t make a scarce commodity less scarce or exempt you from economic. It just changes your currency.

    Bingo.

    Where I come from, guns are so hard to get that most bank robberies are committed with toys or other fakes.

    I am a 47 year old woman. I have suffered with severe acne my entire life. The ONLY thing that controls my acne is a drug called Isotretinoin (aka Accutane). In order to take this drug legally in the US, I must do the following:

    I have no words.

    Meanwhile, what do I have to do to obtain a gun? WALK INTO MY LOCAL WALMART AND BUY IT!

    Over here, you can buy booze in the supermarkets. All the way to whisky and whiskey, all the way to rum with 80 % alcohol (not 40, 80). You cannot buy guns in any supermarket.

    In the meantime, arming yourself with a gun will, in fact, make a difference when someone is trying to break into your house.

    Yeah. The burglar will shoot you on sight and then find your gun, confirming that his life was indeed in danger.

    Then he’ll take your gun and sell it. IIRC, that’s the biggest source for the black market.

    Did you seriously believe you’ll draw faster?

    I’ll not give up my handgun. When I’m home alone, I carry it in every room, even the bathroom, down to the barn, etc. While I agree that access as well as type of weapons available need to be better monitored, I’ll not give up my handgun. I’m not as fanatical as “Cold, dead hands”, but my handgun is my peace of mind

    Do you seriously believe you’ll draw faster?

    What does a bulletproof vest cost compared to a gun…?

    as much as I agree with most of what PZ has to say in the article, this is just fucking irritating. Mr. Myers, if you care about promoting a rational approach to issues, please desist from proclaiming your unwillingness to listen to reason.

    Then demonstrate that your arguments, which you haven’t made yet, are reasonable. :-|

    But suicide doesn’t require a gun. If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly. Once someone has decided to end their life, the lack of a gun won’t keep them from doing it. […] Guns are a method, not the cause. They are a convenient, quick method, certainly, but removing them would not reduce the rate of suicides notably.

    Surprise. Scroll down to number 3!

    Or at least read this part:

    “In the first half of the 20th century, ovens in England used to burn coal gas, which happened to be completely lethal in concentrated doses and was thus the preferred way to commit suicide. By the late 1950s, sticking your head in the oven accounted for nearly half of all suicides committed in England. By the early 1970s, these ovens had been phased out, so nobody was surprised to see coal gas fall out of the top ten British suicide methods (one of Cracked.com’s least popular recurring articles). So what did all of those suicidal people do instead? In a startling number of cases, they just went right on living. The suicide rate dropped by a third, and it never went back up.

    Wait, really? The decision to off yourself is kind of a big one, isn’t it? It’s not the sort of thing you just wait to do when the opportunity arises and your schedule opens up. Yet you can find plenty of examples of people being inconvenienced right the hell down from the ledge. Adding a suicide barrier to a bridge in Washington lowered not just the number of suicides that occurred on that bridge, but the overall suicide rate (meaning those people didn’t just go find another bridge to jump from). A study of more than 500 Golden Gate Bridge jumpers who were stopped in the act found that 94 percent didn’t try it again.

    Suicides, it turns out, are often split-second decisions — add even a few minutes’ thought or just plain inconvenience to it, and a lot of the victims change their minds. Of course, that’s not possible if your method involves instantly splattering your brains all over the wall with one pull of the trigger. If a bridge with a low barrier and a coal gas oven are Regis Philbin asking you to lock in your final answer, having a gun is like the Jeopardy! clicker — all you have to do is press one button a single time and it’s done. No going back. So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest risk factors for suicide is simply having a gun in the house [same link as in comment 61].”

    I’m just as surprised as you are. But facts are facts.

    Nor does knowledge that you have a gun deter crime. One of the biggest targets of specific home invasions? The crook knew there was a gun in the house and wanted it. Your gun isn’t a defense. It’s bait.

    QFT.

    Solid doors, reinforced door frames and strike plates

    Many of the house doors I’ve seen in the US are at most as solid as the room doors over here. I’m pretty sure I could kick them in.

    That’s one of the biggest things I don’t understand about the US.

  82. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Christopher thoughtfully provides a strong argument for gun control.

    From his article: ” The victim, who was not identified, was hospitalized with serious wounds.”

    This would not have been the case with a gun. Instead the victim would have been in a refrigerated drawer in the morgue.

    Any questions?

  83. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Raging Bee

    You can bang on all you want about “some” good uses of guns; but the numbers seem to show that unrestricted gun ownership really does endanger more innocent lives than it saves.

    Kaintuckee Bob has said several times that they are in favour of gun restrictions.

    You seem to be being a little hard on KB. As far as I can tell, the only point of contention between you two is that KB thinks home defence is a permissable reason for owning a hand gun, and you don’t.

    @KB

    Did you see my #63? Do you think those are reasonable restrictions?

  84. says

    Inflection @66:

    …but when it comes to crime prevention and public safety I have always found any random police officer to be, more likely than not, helpful and professional.

    Perhaps most of them are helpful and professional, but how can you tell? The assholes dress just like the good ones.

    But whether an individual cop is good or bad, any encounter with one is fraught with pitfalls for even the most law abiding citizen. This should be required viewing for all citizens.

  85. says

    …but when it comes to crime prevention and public safety I have always found any random police officer to be, more likely than not, helpful and professional.

    Perhaps most of them are helpful and professional, but how can you tell? The assholes dress just like the good ones.

    But whether an individual cop is good or bad, any encounter with one is fraught with pitfalls for even the most law abiding citizen. This should be required viewing for all citizens.

  86. says

    Many of the house doors I’ve seen in the US are at most as solid as the room doors over here. I’m pretty sure I could kick them in.

    I was impressed with the solid construction of the places I visited in Germany…and it’s true. Most doors here are little more than thin sheets of wood over a frame. You can kick through them as if they were made of cardboard.

    Except here in Minnesota. The external doors to my house are massive, solid things that thunk solidly into place, and shame the ones I saw in Germany. Of course, that has more to do with winters than with deterring home invasion.

  87. says

    I advocate responsible gun ownership.

    That phrase is meaningless unless there are significant laws in place to define and enforce the responsibilities of gun owners, and to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible people.

  88. says

    #83, The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical:

    That’s the only reasonable argument against any of my points that I’ve seen in this thread. Accepted.

  89. doublereed says

    Whether that’s true or not (see comment 15), the fact that judges can legislate in Common Law isn’t a feature, it’s a bug.

    That’s why no place – not even Louisiana – has ever introduced Common Law of its own free will.

    Feature, bug, whatever. That’s the reality. There’s laws, policy, enforcement, courts, etc. There are multiple paths to success and multiple hurdles to overcome. Talking about ideals does not make them happen. You have to deal with the real world eventually.

    PZ’s suggestion of a public database, for instance, raises all sorts of concerns about implementation, costs, privacy, and pragmatism. I don’t really understand what the point of the database is, to be honest. But look, these are ideas and solutions that need to be talked about in pragmatic ways and decided upon as a society.

    What I hate about arguing with gun advocates is they try to argue that essentially any pragmatic look is completely worthless. They say “look, you can’t control guns. Why bother trying?” when in many ways we already do try to control guns. And when we try, we’re actually pretty damn effective at it. There’s really nothing suggest that gun control isn’t doable. Hell, it’s one of the major ways we manage to convict gangs and hate groups. There’s lots more we can do.

  90. Christopher says

    From his article: ” The victim, who was not identified, was hospitalized with serious wounds.”

    This would not have been the case with a gun. Instead the victim would have been in a refrigerated drawer in the morgue.

    Bullshit. Guns aren’t magic wands that kill anything they are aimed at. Many people survive gun shots (especially handgun shots). Many people die from stab wounds. Death from gun/knife trauma is very situation dependent.

  91. David Marjanović says

    Are you honestly proposing listing every gun owner’s address for every thief to make their shopping list? Why don’t you make a public list of everyone’s jewlery collection while you are at it.

    Yeah, PZ, I’m not sure about that point.

    You have no right to carry a gun in any public place. No more concealed carry permits. No more “stand your ground” laws. Only authorized agents of the law should be carrying weapons in public, and even there, not all of them should be armed, and those who are, should be clearly and obviously armed. You’re packing heat in a movie theater? Fuck, WHY??.

    Because no one has ever been the victim of violence in a movie theater before….

    And the only thing you can imagine doing to prevent (!) violence is having a gun?

    How is a man with 50 guns more dangerous than a man with one gun? You realize that guns don’t fire themselves right?

    In addition to what PZ said, a man with 50 guns can arm his gang, and 50 guns can be stolen from him to replenish the black market, not just one – just a few lines above, you objected to publishing the addresses of gun owners for this very reason, didn’t you.

    Because in the whole history of humanity, the physically strong have never used violence against the physically weak to get what they want….

    Not my fault you live in a failed state that doesn’t have a (working) police. Do something about that first.

    A dispute at a Lancaster movie theater during a screening of “Shutter Island” ended with someone plunging a meat thermometer into the neck of the man who complained about someone sitting near him talking on a cellphone during the show.

    Note, however, how nobody seems to have considered whether a “stand your ground” law might apply, and how the sheriff called it “a vicious and cowardly attack” – is anything that involves a gun ever called “cowardly” in America?

    I have friends living in places like Baltimore, including people of color and lower socioeconomic class, who have had multiple break-ins over the years, including hot break-ins while they ate supper downstairs.

    Downstairs?

    …I don’t quite understand. Is real estate so dirt-cheap in Baltimore that “people of […] lower socioeconomic class” can own two-storey houses???

  92. indicus says

    Repeal the Second Amendment: Yeah, good luck with that one. But then liberals always have existed solely in the world of make-believe.

    Regulate gun ownership: It already is. VERY heavily. And no, you cannot buy an AR-15 or any other firearm on Gun Broker or anywhere else on the internet as simply as that. You can order the firearm can then ONLY be shipped to an FFL dealer who MUST run a background check on you. Spend 30 seconds to do some research and get your information right. Gun ownership should never be public… besides the obvious point of personal freedom (what fucking right to any of you have to know where I live and what I own?), it paints a bull’s eye on the home of any gun owner as firearms have always been a major target of thieves. Or perhaps having our homes burglarized and our families threatened in your real intention? Certainly wouldn’t doubt it. And there is also the point that firearm registration has ALWAYS lead to confiscation… Australia, California, etc. That part is more than NRA propaganda. We’ve seen it happen time and again.

    You have no right to carry a gun in any public place: To begin with the obvious, the shooter in this case was a retired LEO who do and always have had the ability to carry, no CCW needed. Ignoring this asshole, why might people want to carry in public or a movie theater? I don’t know… in case some asshole decides to shoot up a movie theater (or a mall or a gas station or a school) to get their fifteen minutes of fame. Crime happens. Psychopaths happen. We want to be able to defend ourselves instead of being forced to beg for our lives get over it. And since the past decade or so has seen the spread of CCW go nowhere except up, once again, good luck getting this reversed. And tough shit.

    End the “gun collector” excuse: Believe it or not, many collectors enjoy firing their weapons as well as simply putting them on a shelf. And if I want to take my antique from WWI or the Boer War or whatever to a range and harmlessly put some holes in a sheet of paper, that isn’t any concern of yours (cue the standard liberal hypocrisy of defending the ability to do anything and everything unless they personally disagree with it). And I certainly haven’t seen too many drive-bys or school shootings done with antique weapons. You are really reaching here.

    No more “self defense” excuse: Absolutely. What right does a person have to defend themselves if someone breaks into their home and starts raping their wife? How dare a shopper in a mall use a firearm against the lunatic indiscriminately shooting people? Those selfish blighters! If guns are so bad at defense (i.e. killing people), than how come so many nutjobs use them to kill people? Considering at 10 million + people hold CCW permits – and that the streets do not run red with those killed by CCW holders – I’d say your argument is horseshit. If you really believe you are going to be able to dial 911 and expect the thug to hold off on murdering you for the several minutes it takes the police to arrive, then by all means give that option a try.

    Change the culture: Once again, good luck here. America is one of the most heavily-armed societies in the world. We love our guns. We love target practice and hunting and shooting the stupid fucks who break into our homes. We adore “assault weapons”, of which there are tens of millions in current circulation. We also do it responsibly. We have zero tolerance for idiots who want to play gangster or who ignore basic safety. Most of us invest in extremely expensive safes to keep guns out of the wrong hands. None of us give a flying fuck about your liberal crocodile tears for the woman who is raped or the worker who is shot because people like you feel you know what is best for us. Fortunately, national gun control is moving nowhere except in our favor. Get over it. And I know my arguments would move anyone. I know most of you will simply ignore them off the bat (what was that again about conservatives being close-minded?). I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15, that you people are loosing. And loosing badly.

    Sincerely,

    A sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat

  93. Kaintukee Bob says

    @PZ #81: Calling for help was NOT effective. It took 15 minutes for the cops to arrive, during which time the guy who got scared away could have easily gotten in (we rent, and the locks/windows at that place were absolute crap). It was almost certainly someone who was just looking for something they could steal to fence. That said, it could have been someone with intent to do us harm.

    My concern for my family’s safety (the noise we made and the lights we turned on) was effective, but there’s a strong chance it would not have been enough. The 15 minute response time, typical for our old neighborhood, would not have saved my family if the person breaking in had intended us harm and not been scared away. My gun could have.

    I never suggested that I’d ‘run out, guns blazing’ – that would be an astonishingly stupid thing to do, and would not be the mark of a responsible gun owner. I could describe what I would have done, but honestly there’s so many hypotheticals that it would rapidly disintegrate if I tried to type it out. I can tell you that my decision tree terminated on a lot more nodes where the intruder fled than where the intruder was captured, and there were a lot more terminal nodes where he was captured than there were that included “fire the gun”.

  94. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #95

    Many people survive gun shots…

    Not if they get shot in the neck, you twerp.

  95. Holms says

    “Regulate gun ownership. […] Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are.”
    I’m with you on every point in this section except the one noted. Aside from the justification being dubious at best, it opens up a nasty consequence that I don’t think you’ve thought through.

    Consider a Bad Dude looking for an opportunity to break into a house for the reason of …goddamn anything. The first order of business is to check the gun ownership map thing you propose, to see who has guns. He then makes the quite easy logical inference that, those addresses that aren’t on the map, are not (legally) in posession of a gun. The Bad Dude thus has the pick of the neighbourhood, knowing which houses are relatively safe to break into.

    So, a resounding ‘no’ to the public ownership database idea.

    “You have no right to carry a gun in any public place.”
    Agreed, except that I think it is reasonable to grant an exception to an off duty police officer, along with plain clothes officers, on the condition that they lose that privelage if / when they are no longer employed as a police officer. No more ‘carry for life’ bullshit.

    Non-police security guards on the other hand should not have right to cary in public at all, uniformed or not. Proper police should certainly be the only ones granted any additional firearm privelages over the rest of the public.

    If you have religious reasaons that they must be functional, go collect old hand grenades and undetonated bombs. You’ll expunge yourself from the population soon enough.
    Or more broadly, end legal exemptions on religious grounds in *all* areas of law. Including tax exemption.

    No more “self defense” excuse.
    [x] Strongly Disagree.
    Disarming the populace entirely simply puts everyone at the mercy of those that obtain a gun illegally. And given the vast multitude of guns circulating in the US, it is inevitable that the aforementioned Bad Dudes *will* get a hold of gun through some means. Worse, people in particularly troubled areas will quickly realise that their only recourse for self defense from people with illegal guns, is to become an illegal gun owner themselves.

    The economy surrounding the firearms black market will simply emulate the economy surrounding any banned-yet-desired item. Profits will skyrocket for those willing to become ‘importers’, just as they did for alcohol producers during prohibition, and just as they continue to do for drug smuggling networks.

    The best way to keep tabs on a banned good is to make it legal, make it somewhat pricey via goods taxes (yet not so expensive that a black market economy can still make large profits by undercutting the legal prices), and keep tabs on everything.

    Change the culture.
    The most important change, but also likely to be the slowest. Outside of that, I think the most effective actions to take – other than those already noted – can be fairly simply listed:
    – limit civilians to pistols
    – no clip expansions
    – no full automatic fire
    – limit each household to a single such firearm
    – mandatory firearm responsibility training
    – air rifles, ‘plinkers’ and the like would be much more relaxed.
    Some exceptions to the first point above may be reasonable, but there would need to be a demonstrable need for them. A farmer might have a reasonable need for a rifle for example, but even then it would still need to abide by clip restrictions and the others.

    These seem reasonable to me; limiting people to a semi-automatic pistol still grants people a very powerful tool for all defense needs short of being the subject of an all points manhunt, but greatly reduces the sheer ease in obtaining the means to shoot up a cinema or whatever.

  96. Bernard Bumner says

    Bullshit. Guns aren’t magic wands that kill anything they are aimed at. Many people survive gun shots (especially handgun shots). Many people die from stab wounds. Death from gun/knife trauma is very situation dependent.

    i) Many people survive being shot, and very many of those people will have life-changing injuries.

    ii) If knives were as effectively dangerous as guns, then why don’t people ever call for more knife ownership in response to the latest school masacre?

  97. says

    David Marjanovic:

    …I don’t quite understand. Is real estate so dirt-cheap in Baltimore that “people of […] lower socioeconomic class” can own two-storey houses???

    a) He didn’t say they owned it.
    b) Yes, people can own a principal residence in a crappy neighborhood.
    c) You sound like a clueless privileged git.

  98. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Why, Christopher, what a disingenuous little twit you are. Lethality from gunshot wounds is 31.7%–far higher than knives, blunt instruments…

    Sorry, Punkin, guns do kill people.

  99. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lauren, why would you expect someone living in Europe to know the housing situation in Baltimore?

  100. says

    …I don’t quite understand. Is real estate so dirt-cheap in Baltimore that “people of […] lower socioeconomic class” can own two-storey houses???

    You’ve got it backwards. In many of the urban areas, especially the Old East, you’ll find the poor (and middle class) neighborhoods are full of row homes: tiny, narrow footprint on the ground, built upwards. It minimizes real estate costs.

  101. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Indicus: “I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15, that you people are loosing. And loosing badly.”

    And to people who can’t spell or write a coherent sentence in the English language, no less. Oh, the shame of it!

  102. doublereed says

    No more “self defense” excuse.
    [x] Strongly Disagree.
    Disarming the populace entirely simply puts everyone at the mercy of those that obtain a gun illegally. And given the vast multitude of guns circulating in the US, it is inevitable that the aforementioned Bad Dudes *will* get a hold of gun through some means. Worse, people in particularly troubled areas will quickly realise that their only recourse for self defense from people with illegal guns, is to become an illegal gun owner themselves.

    I’m sorry, but do you actually have evidence for that? I hear this claim, but quite frankly, I simply don’t buy it. Please show me evidence that the populace must be ‘armed’ or they will simply be at mercy of those that obtain a gun illegally. I’m not armed. I do not feel less safe because of it.

    I’m not interested in theoretical exercises. Give me some numbers and data to back that up.

  103. David Marjanović says

    Or perhaps having our homes burglarized and our families threatened in [sic] your real intention? Certainly wouldn’t doubt it.

    You’re an asshole, and you know it.

    And there is also the point that firearm registration has ALWAYS lead to confiscation… Australia, California, etc.

    Two examples is “always” now?

    (Disclaimer: I’m taking your word that these two examples actually hold.)

    To begin with the obvious, the shooter in this case was a retired LEO who do and always have had the ability to carry, no CCW needed.

    …which is, in turn, deeply bizarre.

    Ignoring this asshole, why might people want to carry in public or a movie theater? I don’t know… in case some asshole decides to shoot up a movie theater (or a mall or a gas station or a school) to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

    Yeah. They might also be hit by lightning.

    No more “self defense” excuse: Absolutely. What right does a person have to defend themselves if someone breaks into their home and starts raping their wife?

    How does that require a gun?

    I mean, seriously?

    If guns are so bad at defense (i.e. killing people), than how come so many nutjobs use them to kill people?

    Try drawing when the other guy is already pointing a gun at you.

    Considering at 10 million + people hold CCW permits – and that the streets do not run red with those killed by CCW holders –

    Not running red perhaps, but they’re pretty close. Compare the murder & manslaughter rates elsewhere in the world.

    We have zero tolerance for idiots who want to play gangster or who ignore basic safety.

    You are the idiots who want to play gangster and ignore basic safety.

    Idiot.

    That said, it could have been someone with intent to do us harm.

    …How likely is that? Why would anyone have that intent?

  104. Bernard Bumner says

    Kaintukee Bob @98

    I understand why that experience was traumatic, but I don’t understand why guns are relevant to your story?

    The reality is that guns had no effect on events, and certainly not the outcome.

    IF can be dangerous, since it deals with percieved rather than real risks. Violent robbers are not the greatest threat to the life of a gun-owning family.

  105. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Europeans: the number of storeys in a house has nothing to do, in the US, with the price of the house. Nor is it an indicator of economic mobility. Existing housing stock in cities like Baltimore is frequently two or three storey houses or row houses from the late 19th and early 20th century.

  106. Christopher says

    Not my fault you live in a failed state that doesn’t have a (working) police. Do something about that first.

    Please supply an example of what you would concider a non-failed state with a working police.

  107. says

    I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15, that you people are loosing. And loosing badly.

    I want you all to know that I have higher standards for mastery of the English language here than I do for the internet in general. Wouldn’t you know that bringing in the gun nuts would simultaneously degrade the net quality of commenting on both the logical and grammatical fronts?

  108. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    On Bal’more real estate. The row houses spoken of are a mixed bag. You’ll have one that is very nicely kept up, with a garden and two boarded up on either side. And you can damn near reach out your window and touch your neighbor’s wall.

    We call these the blue-light areas. Blue lights indicate police call boxes–and they are pretty dense in some areas…not dense enough, unfortunately. A drive through Baltimore at night can be…educational.

  109. Alexander says

    @PZ #21:

    Ugh. There it is, the “self defense” argument. It’s bullshit.

    Home break-ins are not that common, home break-ins in which the homeowner is present are even rarer, and home break-ins in which the homeowner dissuades the threat with a gun are ridiculously rare.

    I’m sorry, PZ, but even you originally said self defense not home defense; When arguing against gun ownership because of “self” defense and then not considering crimes against a person — i.e. rape or assault — as your example is highly misleading. Now, I’d agree a gun isn’t appropriate here; the statistics are that approximately 3 out of 5 violent crimes are committed by someone the victim knows (and presumably, would be unwilling to shoot). Instead of some diversion about home break-ins and “self” defense, I’d be more willing to back an argument about not wanting the type of world where people are willing to shoot their friends and family.

    I think the correct question has been posed by @methuseus 18:

    What is wrong with something less lethal like pepper spray, or even tasers?

    I have no earthly idea, but I do know who can answer: police officers and mail carriers. Both of them face the danger of dog bites when approaching someone’s home, but only one is permitted to wield lethal force. So if there attacks on less than 1% of mail carriers (who can’t carry anything stronger than pepper spray), why aren’t we taking all firearms away and only using pepper spray for police officers as well?

  110. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    In addition, Europeans, scads of people living in urban housing rent flats/apartments within these multi-storey old homes. When the “flat” has an upstairs and downstairs it’s called a “duplex,” and it’s usually only half the house.

  111. Nick Gotts says

    indicus@97,

    What right does a person have to defend themselves if someone breaks into their home and starts raping their wife?

    Rather telling, really, that the gun owner is immediately imagined as male, and that “raping their wife” is conceived as an attack on that gun owner, calling for “self-defense”, not on the wife.

    America is one of the most heavily-armed societies in the world. We love our guns. We love target practice and hunting and shooting the stupid fucks who break into our homes. We adore “assault weapons”, of which there are tens of millions in current circulation. We also do it responsibly.

    Oh, right, like carrying a concealed weapon into a movie theatre and killing someone for using their phone. Very responsible.

    We have zero tolerance for idiots who want to play gangster or who ignore basic safety. Most of us invest in extremely expensive safes to keep guns out of the wrong hands. None of us give a flying fuck about your liberal crocodile tears for the woman who is raped or the worker who is shot because people like you feel you know what is best for us.

    When you’ve finished frothing at the mouth, you might like to consider the actual facts: that you are far more likely to be a homicide victim in gun-loving America than in any other rich country. But then, what have facts ever meant to right-wing fanatics?

  112. David Marjanović says

    ii) If knives were as effectively dangerous as guns, then why don’t people ever call for more knife ownership in response to the latest school masacre?

    Good point…

    Lauren, why would you expect someone living in Europe to know the housing situation in Baltimore?

    She’s relatively new here, I’m sure she doesn’t know where I live.

    I had no idea of row homes. Didn’t know such a thing existed.

  113. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Christopher believes in proof by anecdote. To what other logical fallacies do you subscribe. Or you can just tell us you watch Faux News, and we’ll know you subscribe to all of them.

  114. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Bernard #110: At the time, as now, I had a revolver in my home for self-defense. While on the phone with 9-1-1 I retrieved and loaded the cylinder. If you are unfamiliar with firearms, the cylinder on a revolver is the section that swings outward, into which the rounds are placed. The weapon won’t fire until the cylinder is locked into place (closing it and adjusting the rotation so that a round is aligned with the barrel). As a responsible gun owner, I practice with my weapon so that I can do that smoothly and relatively quickly. I left the cylinder open (revolvers do not have a safety other than not loading them) while waiting in the room with my family. Since I’m not dumb, I made sure the gun was not ready to fire and did not let the barrel point at anything or anyone I loved – it stayed pointed down the hallway, towards where the break-in was being attempted. If I’d heard someone actually gain entry to the house, I could have closed the cylinder and been ready to fire in less time than it would take an average person to reach the hallway, and would have been prepared to fire upon an intruder if it was warranted. Frankly, just breaking into my home (in Ohio, which has a Castle Doctrine) would have given me legal recourse to fire.

    Honestly? I’m very glad that the would-be intruder chose to leave. I don’t know if I would have fired to prevent him from robbing us, and I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

    Without my pistol? My family and I would have been at the mercy of an intruder until the police arrived. Most likely that would have meant losing many valuable possessions. Less likely? It could have ended with my family on the wrong side of the gun.

  115. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Indicus

    Regulate gun ownership: It already is. VERY heavily.

    *Falls off chair laughing*

    Oh, thanks for that.

    You can order the firearm can then ONLY be shipped to an FFL dealer who MUST run a background check on you.

    [citation needed]. If that’s the case, then excellent, things are not as bad as I thought. But please prove it.

    Gun ownership should never be public…

    Agreed, this point has already been gone over and PZ agrees he was wrong. But not because of “personal freedom”.

    Or perhaps having our homes burglarized and our families threatened in your real intention?

    *Matyr complex alert*

    And there is also the point that firearm registration has ALWAYS lead to confiscation… Australia, California, etc.

    Bullshit; here in the UK you are required to register firearms by law, and it’s still perfectly legal to own a registered firearm providing you have the proper license (see my #63 for details, if you like). I’d like to see some citation for this claim, I’m interested as to where you got it from.

    You have no right to carry a gun in any public place: To begin with the obvious, the shooter in this case was a retired LEO who do and always have had the ability to carry, no CCW needed.

    And that ability should be taken away. What are you not getting?

    Ignoring this asshole, why might people want to carry in public or a movie theater? I don’t know… in case some asshole decides to shoot up a movie theater…

    You mean like this arsehole that you’re ignoring did? God, you’re a moron.

    End the “gun collector” excuse: Believe it or not, many collectors enjoy firing their weapons as well as simply putting them on a shelf. And if I want to take my antique from WWI or the Boer War or whatever to a range and harmlessly put some holes in a sheet of paper, that isn’t any concern of yours .

    I actually agree with you here, but if the gun is live then it should be stored securely, not just “put on a shelf”. I see no reason you can’t get a secure display case if you want to look at it while it’s stored.

    No more “self defense” excuse…

    I’m not even going to bother with this section. You’re just being ridiculous. Shouting hyperbole and ridiculously unlikely worst-case scenarios just isn’t an argument.

    Change the culture: Once again, good luck here. America is one of the most heavily-armed societies in the world.

    Yeah, that’s kind of the issue.

    We love target practice and hunting and shooting the stupid fucks who break into our homes.

    (Emphasis mine)
    Well then, you are a sadistic fuck then, aren’t you? (Note that I say you, because while you imply that you speak for all of America, you really don’t; and thank fuck for that small mercy).

    We have zero tolerance for idiots who want to play gangster or who ignore basic safety.

    This is just a lie.

    None of us give a flying fuck about your liberal crocodile tears for the woman who is raped or the worker who is shot because people like you feel you know what is best for us.

    …what? This is either completely contrary to your previous point, or irrelevant, or so badly worded that it doesn’t say what you think it says.

    And I know my arguments would move anyone.

    Well, you’re wrong there. You have so far failed to move me from any of my previously held positions. Please note we have actually had a couple of agreements!

    I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15…

    Bloody hell…

    Sincerely,

    A sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat

    Well, at least you’re honest.

  116. Muz says

    On a slight tangent, per the first point in that Cracked article, yes there are moderate gun owners. There are even moderate gun owners in the NRA.
    Why then are mad men like Wayne LaPierre running it? Why are their Congressional lackeys putting up and voting in legislation that only helps manufacturers and mass murderers? Anti science, anti knowledge legislation aimed at keeping the populace stupid.

    The mantra is often “We don’t need more regulation, we just need enforcement.”
    This might actually be true! We’ll never find out so long as the NRA is writing the laws that gut the enforcement offices and powers, that block research and reporting.
    And with every new incident the call for more control will get louder and louder as it should.

    The biggest threat to gun ownership in the US right now isn’t “Liberals” or jackbooted fascist thugs that are going to take over any day now. The biggest threat is the goddam NRA!
    Everyone should be stopping the NRA. You heat packers too.

  117. fulcrumx says

    Too many cops are just the kind of punks that have to have a gun to get any respect. I’m sure all the gunbots are so proud that guy’s second amendment rights were unabridged. I guess they’ll want to make sure those rights are extended to him in prison now.

  118. vaiyt says

    yes there are moderate gun owners. There are even moderate gun owners in the NRA.

    There are kind Catholics.

  119. says

    …why might people want to carry in public or a movie theater? I don’t know… in case some asshole decides to shoot up a movie theater…

    First, do you really think that would help, if the asshole in question drew his gun first?

    And second — two or more people shooting it out in a crowded public venue, with no one able to determine which shooter is the “bad” guy…do you really thing that’s a good reason to allow undisciplined civilians to carry firearms in public places? Here’s an alternative: skip the gun and pay more taxes instead so your local government can hire more TRAINED cops to provide better coverage of public places. You got a problem, with that? Us tax-and-spend liberals don’t.

    And third, once a shootout like that starts, how the fuck do you expect the cops to know which shooter is the bad guy and which is the law-abiding citizen they have to protect? Only in your gun-loving fantasy world do situations like that end happily. I’ll remember that childish fantasy of yours every time you accuse liberals of being out of touch with reality.

  120. says

    None of us give a flying fuck about your liberal crocodile tears for the woman who is raped or the worker who is shot because people like you feel you know what is best for us.

    Yeah, we already know your hatred of liberals far outweighs your compassion for innocent people.

  121. indicus says

    My apologies for the typo. It seems that when one is hurriedly typing during a lunch break, mistakes happen.

    @ Nick #118, in all my previous posts here on gun control I write heavily about the right of a woman to defend herself against rapists and other assorted scum who still consider females to be the weaker sex, much to the poo-pooing of the masses here. Sue me for using a man as the example here. Please don’t jump to the usual “Cry sexism at the drop of a hat” bullshit and please don’t think that I or virtually anyone else would consider an attack on a woman to be an attack on her male partner. I also find it funny that I am labeled a right-wing crazy here yet am labeled a commie liberal on the vast majority of other forums I hit. No matter that I probably agree with roughly 90% of the majority opinion here on same-sex rights, abortion, drug policy, religion (especially religion), etc… it seems that ideological purity isn’t limited to the Right and the fact that I dare to enjoy firearms and appreciate my Second Amendment rights makes me pond scum. It seems many of you are simply incapable of recognizing a couple simple facts: Crazy people DO rob and rape and murder over stupid things like cell phones. None of them give a shit about gun control laws, as LA, New York, Chicago, etc. clearly show. Guns, nor anything else, are a sure thing but they are better than nothing. I’ll take my chances in carrying one. You don’t approve? Tough shit.

  122. Christopher says

    Change the culture.
    – limit civilians to pistols
    – no clip expansions
    – no full automatic fire
    – limit each household to a single such firearm
    – mandatory firearm responsibility training
    – air rifles, ‘plinkers’ and the like would be much more relaxed.
    .

    You do realize that rifles and shotguns are very rarely used in murders right?

    What the hell is a “clip expansion”?

    You do realize that full-auto firearms are very, very heavily regulated right? No new ones have been able to be sold since 1986 and transfering a pre-86 one requires a $200 tax stamp, full background check, and permission of the local sheriff. Things like display how ignorant of firarm laws anti-gunners tend to be.

    Why shouldn’t my wife have access to a pistol in addition to myself?

    California already requires passing a test to buy a handgun that covers “personal responsibility” of firearm ownership, so already there for 10% of the US population.

    You do realize that you can currently buy an air-rifle online and have it shipped to your house with no background check what-so-ever? Said air rifle can even have a silencer, be semi-auto, and shoot very large pellets (up to .50cal) just shy of the speed of sound. So scary. Yet this lack of regulations hasn’t resulted in a mass of air-gun murders….

  123. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    “Repeal the second amendment…Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are….The only people we need to defend ourselves from are the jerks who carry guns. You want to defend yourself? Take a martial arts course. Too unathletic to do that, like me? Support your local police and have a phone by your bedside. I’ll prime your anger by telling you right off the bat that if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.”

    This is your idea of where a rational conversation ought to start?

    Yes, it is where a rational conversation ought to start, because having a rational conversation means shedding unreasonable, damaging biases and acknowledging things that are true, even if some people would prefer they weren’t.. It’s the same reason a rational conversation about religion vs. atheism shouldn’t start with “oh, OF COURSE we atheists know there’s really a god and just don’t want to have to restrain ourselves, but can’t you just live and let live?”

  124. indicus says

    @ Thumper #123… Lunch break is about to end so I’ll just grab one of your points. Go to Gun Broker and spend a couple minutes reading the “How to order” info. You CANNOT get a firearm over the internet without a background check. The web site serves only as a middleman. You MUST send it to a licensed dealer who MUST conduct a background check on you. Its that simple. That’s the way the law has always been. Anything else you’ve been lead to believe is an outright lie.

  125. abewoelk says

    Regardless of whether further gun regulation is good or bad policy, everyone knows that the people pushing for it are really pushing for confiscation. You don’t want reasonable regulation, you want a flat ban, and any regulation would merely be a way station toward that end. The comments here eloquently say so. Just like supporters of abortion regulation can’t be trusted; they, too, are hoping for an eventual flat ban, and they can’t be trusted either. So, because reasonable regulation can’t be trusted, there isn’t going to be any.

    Yes, some people die from private gun ownership. Some people die from private car ownership too — in fact, a whole lot more people die in car accidents than die from guns, but who’s calling for banning automobiles? And if guns were treated like cars — reasonable regulation is fine, but no serious talk of confiscation and flat bans — then you could get some reasonable regulation that would save lives. As it is, of the millions of guns out there, only a tiny percentage (I think less than 1% but I’m on my lunch hour and don’t have time to look it up) are used illicitly. That’s actually not a bad safety record.

    It’s no more your business to tell me I can’t own a gun than it’s my business to tell you that you can’t own one; it’s called living in a free society. I could get behind safety regulations, like requiring firearms safety training and limiting magazine capacity, but only if I could be convinced it’s not just a first step toward confiscation. I’ve seen nothing here that convinces me it’s not just a first step toward confiscation.

  126. Christopher says

    Christopher believes in proof by anecdote. To what other logical fallacies do you subscribe. Or you can just tell us you watch Faux News, and we’ll know you subscribe to all of them.

    The claim was made that getting shot in the neck was always fatal. All it takes is one anecdote to disprove such a statement. Time for you to brush up on your logic skills.

  127. vaiyt says

    Ignoring this asshole, why might people want to carry in public or a movie theater? I don’t know… in case some asshole decides to shoot up a movie theater…

    And not because, say, they ARE the asshole who wants to shoot people in a movie theater.

  128. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Alexander: the pepper spray/taser argument was briefly discussed but then overwhelmed.

    Frankly, a lot of the situations where you are dealing with a violent attacker (one of the few situations where I believe use of a gun is warranted) the attacker may not be susceptible to either. There are well-documented cases of people in the grip of violent rages ignoring tasers and pepper spray, especially if drugs are involved.

    There’s also practical considerations: unless your taser fires probes (which is an uncommon type of taser, and is also less certain to hit) you must be close enough to touch the person attacking you. If they have a weapon (such as a club or knife) this is a very dangerous place to be.

    Pepper spray is also at a reduced effectiveness against people wearing glasses – it must get into your target’s eyes to be most effective. This also requires you to be fairly close (again, bad against someone who is violent) and requires you to be able to aim effectively.

    A handgun, on the other hand, will make people without a gun back down. Even people drugged out of their skulls can recognize a gun (sometimes) and respond appropriately. As a deterrent, they are somewhat effective. Should the situation escalate to where they need to be fired, they are nowhere near as limited as tasers (requiring close range or hitting with a single shot) or pepper spray (again, close range and hitting a small, possibly partially protected target).

    If I were being attacked by someone, I would much rather have a taser or pepper spray than nothing. But if that’s all I had, I’d really hope that whoever I was with at the time had a handgun in case the other stuff failed.

    @abewoelk:

    “Regardless of whether further gun regulation is good or bad policy, everyone knows that the people pushing for it are really pushing for confiscation. You don’t want reasonable regulation, you want a flat ban, and any regulation would merely be a way station toward that end.”

    I have plenty of paper targets, thanks, please get your strawman out of this discussion.

  129. ledasmom says

    I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15, that you people are loosing. And loosing badly.

    (scratching head) What are we loosing? Just checked: kid, two cats, all still inside, all contained. Husband at store, but I believe he is reasonably likely to come back.

  130. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #117

    1 person =/= many, you twerp. You will note that I never claimed it was impossible.

    The exit wound from a bullet is larger than the exit or entry wound from a sodding meat thermometer. Bullets also cause more trauma to the surrounding tissues than a stab wound. A stab wound to the neck is less likely to kill you than a bullet wound, because it’s less likely to hit something vital within that small area, and the damage is more easily patched up. To claim that a stab wound is just as likely to kill you as a bullet wound is, providing you are talking general body areas (such as “neck”, “chest”) rather than specific vital organs (such as “heart”, “jugular vein”), just plain silly.

    That said, I was vague in my original response and should have been more specific, so for that I apologise.

  131. abewoelk says

    Sorry, typo: The first sentence of my last paragraph above should say “it’s no more your business to tell me I can’t own a gun than it’s my busienss to tell you you MUST own one.”

  132. vaiyt says

    A handgun, on the other hand, will make people without a gun back down.

    In which case YOU are the greatest threat to THEIR life. If they DO have a gun, and they think like you – congratulations! You just escalated the fucking situation!

  133. David Marjanović says

    Please supply an example of what you would con[s]ider a non-failed state with a working police.

    Uh, pretty much any First World country. Over here, the police comes in 5 minutes to any part of town, speaking from very limited experience.

    In addition, Europeans, scads of people living in urban housing rent flats/apartments within these multi-storey old homes. When the “flat” has an upstairs and downstairs it’s called a “duplex,” and it’s usually only half the house.

    That sort of thing (“two-family house”) exists over here, but I don’t think it’s ever for rent. Same for row houses.

    David, you’ve really never seen these:

    …Oh. I didn’t quite understand the description. :-] Yes, these exist over here, but they’re always much bigger, and always more expensive than all but the biggest/fanciest single-storey apartments; you won’t find poorer-than-average people in them. That’s why I didn’t think of them.

    Frankly, just breaking into my home (in Ohio, which has a Castle Doctrine) would have given me legal recourse to fire.

    …which is itself rather bizarre. Sure, burglary is a crime and should be treated as such, but does it really warrant the death penalty…?

  134. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Indicus #132

    Go to Gun Broker and spend a couple minutes reading the “How to order” info. You CANNOT get a firearm over the internet without a background check. The web site serves only as a middleman. You MUST send it to a licensed dealer who MUST conduct a background check on you. Its that simple. That’s the way the law has always been. Anything else you’ve been lead to believe is an outright lie.

    I’m afraid I’m still working and don’t have time.

    Can any USians not busy confirm Indicus’ assertion? Is it specific to that particular gun broker? Does it apply to private citizens selling guns over the internet?

  135. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #142

    Thank you, but which section am I supposed to be looking at? I see nothing mentioning internet sales specifically.

  136. Kaintukee Bob says

    @David Marjanović, #115:

    I agree that breaking into my home shouldn’t warrant the death penalty. That said, I’m glad for the Castle Doctrine – it means that if someone DOES break into my home and I do believe they pose an imminent threat to my family, I don’t have to fear prison in the (somewhat likely) case where I shoot the intruder and they die.

    It’s not so much the death penalty as it is the waiving of your right to legal protection, and it doesn’t apply (so far as I remember) if you are actively fleeing. I could be wrong about the last part – since moving to a much safer area, I haven’t brushed up on the laws in the past few years.

  137. Muz says

    “And there is also the point that firearm registration has ALWAYS lead to confiscation… Australia, California, etc. That part is more than NRA propaganda. We’ve seen it happen time and again.”

    Guh?
    Everything the NRA has to say about Australia and guns is wrong and essentially BS propaganda.
    Do not ever rely on them for anything on the subject if you want some credibility.
    The point makes no sense anyway. Registration didn’t lead to confiscation. Laws led to laws being enforced by various means. As is usually the case.

    Anyway, these days, as Bruce Schneier points out, the registration argument is bogus nonsense for simpletons.The gubmint knowing you have a gun officially is irrelevant and no indicator that they could target someone. Apart from it being civics illiterate paranoia, the government doesn’t even need your list. It can just ask google nicely who owns guns and get a pretty comprehensive list.

  138. Nick Gotts says

    And third, once a shootout like that starts, how the fuck do you expect the cops to know which shooter is the bad guy – Raging Bee@127

    I thought there was a law that they had to wear black hats.

    indicus@129

    please don’t think that I or virtually anyone else would consider an attack on a woman to be an attack on her male partner.

    But that’s exactly what you said – you got angry, and forgot to self-censor.

    I also find it funny that I am labeled a right-wing crazy here yet am labeled a commie liberal on the vast majority of other forums I hit. No matter that I probably agree with roughly 90% of the majority opinion here on same-sex rights, abortion, drug policy, religion (especially religion), etc… it seems that ideological purity isn’t limited to the Right

    But here’s what you said that prompted me to label you as a right-wing fanatic:

    But then liberals always have existed solely in the world of make-believe.

    and:

    None of us give a flying fuck about your liberal crocodile tears for the woman who is raped or the worker who is shot because people like you feel you know what is best for us.

    So if you’re perceived as a “commie liberal”, I can only assume that you usually “hit” forums such as Stormfront.

    Crazy people DO rob and rape and murder over stupid things like cell phones.

    And oddly enough, they do it far more in the gun-loving US of A than in any other rich country. Why is that, do you suppose?

    You don’t approve? Tough shit.

    That is such a convincing argument. But you forgot to tell me I could have your guns when I pry them from your cold, dead hands.

  139. David Marjanović says

    Regardless of whether further gun regulation is good or bad policy, everyone knows that the people pushing for it are really pushing for confiscation. You don’t want reasonable regulation, you want a flat ban, and any regulation would merely be a way station toward that end. The comments here eloquently say so.

    …You’ve lumped a lot of people with different positions into the same bin, then ascribed the opinions you’ve read to the bin instead of to the people in it, and then concluded that any contradictions between those opinions must be lies; your fearful thinking (like wishful thinking, only the other way around) tells you which ones are lies and which ones the bin means honestly.

    Please to be avoiding massive, compounded logical fallacies.

    Just like supporters of abortion regulation can’t be trusted; they, too, are hoping for an eventual flat ban, and they can’t be trusted either.

    That’s not true either. Some, perhaps many, are hoping for an eventual flat ban, but many others honestly mean it when they say “except in case of” – even when they haven’t thought the consequences through.

  140. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Abewoelk

    Regardless of whether further gun regulation is good or bad policy, everyone knows that the people pushing for it are really pushing for confiscation.

    This is bollocks. I think the US should enact sensible regulation, and think we in the UK have some laws in place which you guys should adopt. I by no means want to make all gun ownership illegal, here, in the US, or anywhere else.

  141. doublereed says

    @abewoelk

    It’s no more your business to tell me I can’t own a gun than it’s my business to tell you that you can’t own one; it’s called living in a free society. I could get behind safety regulations, like requiring firearms safety training and limiting magazine capacity, but only if I could be convinced it’s not just a first step toward confiscation. I’ve seen nothing here that convinces me it’s not just a first step toward confiscation.

    Unfortunately, I think abe here is actually speaking for most of the gun owners I’ve talked with. The fact is, they are so crazy and deluded and refuse to even listen to any possible pragmatic ideas for gun control because they have been propagandized to believe that ANY gun control is “gubmint takin’ our guns!”

    I’d like people to notice that this is an attitude that simply can’t be convinced by any evidence. It’s not falsifiable. It’s completely ideology-and-propaganda-driven.

  142. Christopher says

    Thank you, but which section am I supposed to be looking at? I see nothing mentioning internet sales specifically.

    It doesn’t matter if you ordered the gun off an internet site, from a catalogue, via phone, or even in person on vacation: if the firarm goes across state lines it must go through an FFL with a background check. If the firearm doesn’t cross state lines, but the seller is an FFL, they must log the transaction in their bound book and run a background check. The only time a background check doesn’t need to be performed in a firarm transaction is when two non-FFLs residing in the same state transfer a used firearm. Even then, in some states like California, even those transactions must go through an FFL with a background check.

    * FFL = federal firearms licensee

  143. scott says

    Apart from it being civics illiterate paranoia, the government doesn’t even need your list.

    “I don’t want my name on any list of gun owners! Where’s my checkbook? Time to renew my NRA membership!”

    They’re not even good at paranoia.

  144. Holms says

    #13
    …the simple fact is that street crime can and does happen, and the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it.

    And what about all the crimes that are directly caused by someone having a carry permit and subsequently misreading a situation? Or the crimes caused by someone having a carry permit while being an evil fuckhead like Zimmerman? Unless you can supply copious data otherwise, we cannot say that the mitigation side of this balance sheet outweighs the exacerbation side.

    #14
    In any community, the police are not your friend.

    Maybe this sentiment of yours stems from some personal bullshit entanglement with the police, but I’m afraid it remains a huge overgeneralisation bordering on hyperbole.

    #17
    My proposal would be to ban handguns and allow only single shot long guns, and no more than two per adult. But you have to be in the National Guard to own those. Maybe we even have mandatory military service and mandatory gun ownership and training. But the handguns, automatics, and multiple rounds are kept in a well guarded armory.

    I think the situation calls for less militarisation, rather than more.

    #21
    Home break-ins are not that common, home break-ins in which the homeowner is present are even rarer, and home break-ins in which the homeowner dissuades the threat with a gun are ridiculously rare.

    Spoken by a guy in a small, liberal university town. Your neighbourhood is not representative of every neighbourhood.

    You know what would be even better at discouraging break-ins? Hand grenades.

    So would nukes, but since both of those options come with large / terrifying collateral damage, we can easily point out that they are simply unreasonable suggestions; even to the point of calling them another example of hyperbole.

    #26
    Also, tasers should be banned right now. I see no reason why a private citizen (hell, or a cop) should have ready access to a portable torture device that can also kill, depending on the circumstances.

    I conditionally disagree. Whatever their faults, they are still drastically less lethal than a gun; even though there may be no particular reason for a civilian to have a taser, they are simply a tiny risk next to the gun issue. So, I’m sort of against taking action against taser ownership, due to needing to tackle the bigger problem first.

    I’m also against taking them from police at all. In the right circumstances, they are actually hugely beneficial due to their *relative* harmlessness when compared to a firearm. If circumstances permit their use, and a person is shot by a taser rather than a gun, the taser has been used well and has greatly reduced the chance of harm to the person shot.

    Thus, when used as a substitute to a normal firearm, the taser is a net positive. The problem arises when the police start misinterpreting ‘less harmful than a gun but still nasty’ to mean ‘completely harmless, use whenever you want’. The ‘use only as a gun substitute’ model of taser deployment is then abandoned, leading to gross overuse and eroding the benefit garnered by their proper use.

    So, when it comes to police posession of tasers, I consider the problem not to be inherent in the taser itself, but in lapses in police discipline. This is not fixed by removing the taser, but by weeding out the bad eggs during training, and open examination of police conduct.

  145. stripeycat says

    What’s with the registration -> confiscation guys? I grew up in a gun-owning household in the UK (and army overseas): both my father and grandfather shot small game for sport and the table; also a bit of vermin control. Even having a fruit-loop daughter wouldn’t stop my father being able to get a rifle license again provided I didn’t have keys to the cupboard. (I think he gave up his license a few years ago now, on the grounds he wasn’t using it anymore, but I’m not sure.) There was a blanket ban on pistols after a school shooting years ago, but long-arms are still widely held and used, and very rare in crimes – air-rifle shootings are more of a problem in any area I’ve lived.

  146. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #152

    Thank you! That’s excellent, but what information does the FFL have to log? Merely the fact they sold a gun, or do they take the information of the new owner? Also, do you agree that within-state private sales of second hand firearms should also be subject to this procedure? i.e. would you have all firearms sales go through an FFL? If not, why not?

    Also, re. your #157, on which page is the information you are citing? It’s great you’re giving evidence, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t expect people to wade through that lot looking for the figure you cited.

  147. David Marjanović says

    “I don’t want my name on any list of gun owners! Where’s my checkbook? Time to renew my NRA membership!”

    They’re not even good at paranoia.

    Thread won.

  148. ChasCPeterson says

    One regulation that might help would be to stop making guns look so cool and badass. I’m not sure if pink ‘n’ purple ruffles would do the trick, but they probably wouldn’t be so “collectible” if they were really dorky-looking and awkwardly cumbersome or something.

  149. says

    You don’t want reasonable regulation, you want a flat ban…

    Quote anyone here saying anything like that, or admit you’re full of shit.

    A handgun, on the other hand, will make people without a gun back down.

    Wishful thinking, based on magical thinking about guns. In real life, if your assailant is close enough to grab your gun-hand, he can disarm you. And if he thinks you’ll be at all hesitant to pull the trigger — a reasonable guess when confronting someone he’s already pegged as an easy mark — then no, the mere sight of a gun will not “make” him back down.

    And besides, this is the US — how many criminals actually go about committing crimes without guns? You’re talking about a very narrow range of extremely unlikely circumstances.

  150. Bernard Bumner says

    The UK does have a comparable violent crime rate, but a much, much lower murder rate.

  151. says

    …but they probably wouldn’t be so “collectible” if they were really dorky-looking and awkwardly cumbersome or something.

    Lee-Enfields are pretty dorky-looking and cumbersome, but they’re still collectibles. And they fetch a pretty high price at gun shows if they’re in decent condition.

  152. Brain Hertz says

    @Raging Bee 127:

    And second — two or more people shooting it out in a crowded public venue, with no one able to determine which shooter is the “bad” guy…

    You forgot “in the dark”.

  153. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’m not in favor of removing people’s ability to carry a weapon for self defense, or to own one for home defense. I’d love it if the American culture changed to the point where such a thing was safe, but the simple fact is that street crime can and does happen, and the ability for a licensed and well-trained citizen to carry a weapon for self-defense is a mitigating factor in it.

    Citation needed. Not for the claim that there has been at least one case in history of an armed person stopping or deterring a crime, but for the claim that it has a mitigating effect on balance. No gut feelings. Intellectual honesty, unlike the murdertoys, won’t kill anyone.

    Mr. Myers, if you care about promoting a rational approach to issues, please desist from proclaiming your unwillingness to listen to reason.

    He proclaimed his unwillingness to listen to the opposite of reason. Try to keep up.

    suicide is awful and terrible. I have some personal experience with suicide, and I would hate to have any more. But suicide doesn’t require a gun. If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly. Once someone has decided to end their life, the lack of a gun won’t keep them from doing it. The only thing I know of that can is a support network of people who care about them, therapy, and possibly (physiological) medical assistance. Guns are a method, not the cause. They are a convenient, quick method, certainly, but removing them would not reduce the rate of suicides notably.

    Research demonstrates the fucking opposite. Google it.

    does that mean that we shouldn’t listen to people who “love guns”? maybe we shouldn’t listen to people who disagree with us in general?

    It means we’re allowed to use pattern recognition.

    . I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15, that you people are loosing. And loosing badly.

    “mmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy…………….PRECIOUS!”

    You *are* sick and pathetic.

    We also do it responsibly. We have zero tolerance for idiots who want to play gangster or who ignore basic safety.

    On the contrary, you fawningly adore them. And as the rest of your post shows, are one of them.

  154. Christopher says

    “Violent crime” isn’t a category in the table of contents, and searching for “violent” doesn’t bring up a definition of “violent crime” either. The whole thing has 293 pages, so please tell me where I can find what you’re talking about.

    For a broad outlook at crime levels across nations:
    pg43, fig 3: Overall victimization for 10 crimes

    Burglary:
    p66, fig 12

    Assults:
    p82, fig 16

    Police reported thefts:
    pg111, fig 23

    Percentage of public who consider a burglary in their house to be likely in the coming year:
    p129, fig 26

    Percentage of population who feel safe on the street after dark
    p132, fig 28

    The US fares better than many Western European countries across all metrics. We still have to deal with far too much crime, but so do many other “First World” countries that have de-facto bans on personal firearm ownership.

  155. says

    It’s no more your business to tell me I can’t own a gun than it’s my business to tell you that you can’t own one…

    Actually, out here in the real world, civil societies tell their citizens what they can and cannot own all the time. It’s not exactly a new and alien concept. Laws stating who gets to own and drive cars are just the beginning.

  156. says

    Kengi #28

    Again, don’t tell people to give up their only reasonable defense and trust in the police *until* you give them a police force they can trust.

    As has been pointed out, evidence indicates that guns don’t improve your personal safety regardless of the state of the police force.
    cry4turtles #39
    The solution here is for an effective law enforcement apparatus that actually deals with harassment.

    Kaintuckee Bob#75

    Far too many landlords won’t add those features,

    The solution to this is to fucking well make them do so through force of law, basically. Not just security, but energy efficiency, soundproofing, etc. Set strict regulations about what quality of property you’re allowed to rent out. (And before people start in about how much the rents would increase, I’m in favor of rent control as well; in the unlikely event that it turns out to be impossible for landlords to make a profit (not ‘the profit they feel they’re entitled to’ but ‘more money back then they put ine’), then maybe we should do away with them entirely, in favor of housing co-ops, public housing, and individual/family ownership.
    A Masked Avenger

    . I’ve never been stopped and frisked (because I’m white), and I’ve never been sexually assaulted in the back of a cruiser (because I’m male), so I know that women and people of color can safely trust the police.

    Regarding this and the other “The police are prone to abuse” type comments, this is true, but not something that everyone being armed will fix. Things that do help include civilian oversight boards and helmet/lapel cameras worn by police during interactions with the public. Disarming most of the police forces as well as all the random schmucks would help significantly with the problem of on-duty cops up and shooting people without cause too.
    Holms

    limit civilians to pistols

    Why pistols? Those are used in far and away the most murders and suicides; shotguns are better for home defence, and you agree that no-one should be carrying in public.

  157. Moggie says

    Please forgive me for bringing up a relatively unimportant aspect of this debate, but could non-hunting sport shooting use non-lethal weapons? Here in the UK, I know that there have been attempts to revive pistol shooting using Airsoft weapons. I suspect that’s a poor substitute, due to lower range and accuracy, but we must be approaching a tech level where it would be possible to create convincing simulated weapons which are entirely projectile-free. I’m thinking lasers plus adjustment for range and windage. Target shooting with non-lethal guns could open up the sport to many more participants, and perhaps take many real guns out of circulation.

  158. davedell says

    People need to read what was in the Articles of Confederation but not put in the Constitution regarding the founding fathers ideas in this regard.

    In an unrelated note be sure to ask for a gift receipt at Barnes and Noble. They won’t ask if you need one. Crap happens upon returning gifts.

  159. Christopher says

    Thank you! That’s excellent, but what information does the FFL have to log? Merely the fact they sold a gun, or do they take the information of the new owner? Also, do you agree that within-state private sales of second hand firearms should also be subject to this procedure? i.e. would you have all firearms sales go through an FFL? If not, why not?

    FFLs must log a filled out 4473 form for each transaction.

    http://www.atf.gov/files/forms/download/atf-f-4473-1.pdf‎

    Includes: name, current residence address, place of birth and birth date, background check results, and make/mode/serial number of firearms transfered.

    Personally, I have no problem with all firearm sales going through an FFL.

  160. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Dalilama

    The solution to this is to fucking well make them do so through force of law, basically. Not just security, but energy efficiency, soundproofing, etc. Set strict regulations about what quality of property you’re allowed to rent out. (And before people start in about how much the rents would increase, I’m in favor of rent control as well; in the unlikely event that it turns out to be impossible for landlords to make a profit (not ‘the profit they feel they’re entitled to’ but ‘more money back then they put ine’), then maybe we should do away with them entirely, in favor of housing co-ops, public housing, and individual/family ownership.

    While the legislation, it’s enforcement, etc gets sorted out people are still living in homes that are lacking these features. Those most lacking (and those that will invariably be last to be upgraded) are the ones at highest risk for break-ins.

    Let me know when you come up with a plan to implement such changes, instead of simply saying, “It would be nice if…”

  161. stripeycat says

    Christopher @167 Only assault on that list is a violent crime (also, I don’t know about in other jurisdictions, but here in the UK assault includes threatening behaviour, as well as actually landing a blow on someone). Re: public perception of risk, it’s well known that this doesn’t correlate with reality! In particular, in the UK, people’s fear of violence attack has gone up while the incidence has gone down. I’d expect similar effects with the fear of going out at night: I’ve known several people who were scared to go out because there were teenagers visible in public spaces (whereas in the actually dangerous neighbourhoods, the kids tend to stay indoors and keep their heads down).

  162. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #172

    Great! That’s federal law, right? What happens to the 4473 once it’s filled out?

    And if this is already the case, why are the NRA always making noise about how thre shouldn’t be a register of firearms owners? It would seem there already is one.

  163. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    So would nukes, but since both of those options come with large / terrifying collateral damage, we can easily point out that they are simply unreasonable suggestions;

    So you acknowledge that terrifying collateral damage is a reasonable argument against allowing something even though it could conceivably be used to discourage an attacker.

    I think we’re done here.

  164. Christopher says

    Well, it it pretty much the only decent cross-country comparison of people’s experience with crime. If you’ve got better, please share.

    For US-UK there is this:
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jun/24/blog-posting/social-media-post-says-uk-has-far-higher-violent-c/

    We looked at the raw violent crime numbers for each country, using statistics for England and Wales for 2012 and for the United States for 2011, in a way that sought to compare apples to apples. …

    For England and Wales, we added together three crime categories: “violence against the person, with injury,” “most serious sexual crime,” and “robbery.” This produced a rate of 775 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

    For the United States, we used the FBI’s four standard categories for violent crime that Bier cited. We came up with a rate of 383 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

  165. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #167

    This conversation is specifically about deaths due to firearms. Our contention is not that less firearm ownership results in a drop of violent crime in general. Our contention is that owning a firearm does not make you personally any less likely to be a victim of violent crime, and that higher ownership rates do result in a higher number of deaths due to firearms. In other words, statistically speaking, higher firearm ownership makes violent crimes more likely to be deadly as well as raising the potential for deadly accidents.

    Also, stripeycat raises a good point: of those, only assault is counted as a violent crime. Since it is not a violent crime, I shall treat it seperately; several studies have been posted on this thread showing that owning a firearm in the US can make you a target for burglary.

  166. says

    I write heavily about the right of a woman to defend herself against rapists and other assorted scum who still consider females to be the weaker sex, much to the poo-pooing of the masses here.

    Ahhh, fuck you. First of all, don’t call women “females.” We’re “adult female human beings” or “women” to you, scumbag. Second of all, don’t use us as an excuse to justify your macho penis-replacement fantasy. Most women who are raped are raped by someone they know, often someone they know very well and possibly even love. Women who shoot their abusive husbands and boyfriends go to prison. Hell, even missing your abusive ex with a warning shot can land you in jail – just ask Marissa Alexander. So fuck your stupid fantasies. You’re worse than useless; your macho posturing IS the real threat to women’s safety.

    Sue me for using a man as the example here. Please don’t jump to the usual “Cry sexism at the drop of a hat” bullshit and please don’t think that I or virtually anyone else would consider an attack on a woman to be an attack on her male partner.

    Sexism is exactly what it fucking was, asshole – if it hadn’t been a bloody obvious example of sexism, you would not be preemptively whining about having your sexism pointed out. Of course you consider an attack on a woman to be an attack on her male partner. That’s precisely what you wrote. Unless you can convince that someone else hijacked your keyboard and wrote that, you’re on the hook for the blatant, disgusting sexism that animated that whole macho fantasy scenario.

    ——————————————————————

    With regards to neighborhoods where the police are more dangerous than helpful, and break-ins and violent crime are common? I.e., urban neighborhoods occupied disproportionately by people of color? Guess what, they are the people voting for strict gun control laws in their cities, only to have the effectiveness of those laws undermined by the determined desire of white rural folks (of whatever income level) to own guns for fun.

    One group of people, who are actively threatened by people with guns on a regular basis, want stricter gun control laws. Another group of people overrides their desire to exercise their basic right to physical safety and security because “FREEEEEEDOM” and hunting and fucking fun. It’s disgusting.

  167. littlejohn says

    Statistics regarding the successful use of guns for home defense are meaningless. It is reasonable to assume that the overwhelming cases of armed home defense are accomplished by simply showing the bad guy your gun, not shooting him. Obviously, this would not result in a police report nor contribute to any sort of database. We simply don’t know how often guns are successfully used from defense, only how often someone is shot.

  168. Christopher says

    Great! That’s federal law, right? What happens to the 4473 once it’s filled out?

    And if this is already the case, why are the NRA always making noise about how thre shouldn’t be a register of firearms owners? It would seem there already is one.

    Once filled out, the 4473 stays with the FFL until they go out of business, at which point they all get sent to the ATF. The ATF can have access to the forms whenever they audit the FFL (which happen fairly regularly). When police (local or fed) are tracing a firearm they can also access specific 4473s to follow a specific gun from the manufacturer to the first civilian that bought it. This setup allows for tracing specific firearms without having a centralized database.

    Many states do have a centralized database though.

    I’m not sure why the NRA gets so hot about firearms register though: the NSA and a handful of private companies could easily each spit out a list of firearm owners by the end of the workday.

  169. Christopher says

    Our contention is that owning a firearm does not make you personally any less likely to be a victim of violent crime

    A survey from 1994 (prior to widespread CCW adoption) showed that 1.5-3.1 million people used a firearm to prevent 4.7-23 million crimes. That is some awefully big numbers you are sweaping under the rug.

    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf

  170. doublereed says

    Statistics regarding the successful use of guns for home defense are meaningless. It is reasonable to assume that the overwhelming cases of armed home defense are accomplished by simply showing the bad guy your gun, not shooting him. Obviously, this would not result in a police report nor contribute to any sort of database. We simply don’t know how often guns are successfully used from defense, only how often someone is shot.

    The fuck are you talking about?

    It is not reasonable to assume that at all. That’s a crazy, wild assumption. And why wouldn’t that result in a police report? If the person runs away, then the person would file a police report because someone broke into their home. Not to mention that you know, the guy is still out there doing bad stuff. Who the fuck wouldn’t report that????

  171. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It is reasonable to assume that the overwhelming cases of armed home defense are accomplished by simply showing the bad guy your gun, not shooting him. Obviously, this would not result in a police report nor contribute to any sort of database.

    ….you wouldn’t report an attempted break-in?

  172. says

    indicus:

    I just want you to know, as I sit here cuddling my AR-15, that you people are loosing. And loosing badly.

    Yo, shitnugget!
    This isn’t a game here.
    We’re talking about efforts to reduce firearm violence, which is a tremendous problem in this country.
    You’re content to keep things the way they are (or possibly weaken current gun legislation) all because you want to keep your precious guns. Screw all the people who keep dying as a result of firearms huh?

  173. says

    @Christopher #182

    Did you just read the table or the accompanying description of the figures too? Because if you did, then you wouldn’t be posting a study that actually questions the claim you made in that same post, and effectively discredits the idea that guns can prevent violent crimes

  174. cartomancer says

    Talk of tightening up regulatory laws in America (or, from what I gather, actually introducing some) is fine and all, but the absolute biggest problem feeding your gun madness is the underlying culture that fetishizes firearms and makes them glamorous and desirable. Hollywood, the US TV networks, the comics industry, your political parties… all of these mainstream cultural institutions are the ones that should be leading the attempt to quell your nation’s murderous hoplophilia. That’s where true and lasting change can be made. In a way all this arguing about self-defence laws and personal freedoms and licensing is a distraction – the thing that makes America different is its culture. There are gun enthusiasts in Britain and Germany and China and India and Japan, just as there are tea enthusiasts and avid fans of cricket in the US, but there isn’t a generally accessible culture of toxic gun-nuttiness that turns a sizable minority of such hobbyists into frothing loons beyond your borders. The Japanese and the Swiss have very little gun crime and very little gun regulation – clearly they can be trusted (and the former have very few guns per capita, the latter very many). Guns in America are made into icons. They’re politicised to an incredibly degree. They’re treated as cultural touchstones, and invested with gut-feeling significance. It’s a perfectly natural thing for a culture to do, but it becomes a huge problem when the thing fetishized is inherently dangerous. What the British do with sport and herbal drinks, what the Koreans do with pickled cabbage and what the Dutch do with the colour orange, you do with devices that can maim and kill people in large numbers. Perhaps if you emphasized the bald eagles and apple pie a bit more as a substitute eh?

    Having effective regulations and restrictions and bans in place like the civilized world does would make some small progress in the direction of change, but it is not enough on its own. A much deeper cultural reform is needed. Unfortunately those are very difficult to orchestrate. My own country’s culture-based problems are similarly difficult to reform – the ingrained classism, monarchism, nationalistic xenophobia and right-wing tendencies of the English are what really stand in the way of our progress towards a better society, just as gun-craziness, free-market fundamentalism and overt religiosity stand in yours.

    Though perhaps it is not impossible to make such changes, and with legal restrictions as the centrepiece of the project. Look to the smoking bans in effect throughout Europe, which only two decades ago would have been regarded as unacceptable impositions on people’s freedom, or the gradual acceptance that wearing seatbelts should be compulsory, and not doing so was dangerous before that.

  175. unclefrogy says

    I am vary familiar with living in the urban setting. Often very close to high crime areas or ghettos I am not a member of any racial minority so I have had relatively benign interactions with police so I have called them when needed even call the police direct instead of 911 to report problems.
    I do how ever completely understand the reluctance of some of my neighbors to do that. In these neighborhoods people who are worried the most about home security seem to rely on dogs small noisy aggressive ones or large heavy intimidating ones more than any guns they may posses. Home invasion self defense is a bogus issue when the suggestion that the only way to protect yourself it is with a gun.
    I also do not remember ever hearing of someone committing suicide by dog before or alarm system neither.

    I lean toward the idea of changing the culture over more external control though.
    It would be preferable if we could some how move away from tending to use force and intimidation when all else fails to ultimately solve problems. That attitude not even goes all the way down to simple trivial disagreements but includes politics religion and is not unknown in the world of art.
    Violence permeates our society it is a major element of our cultural expression, it is a major part of how we compete in sports.
    simply banning firearms wont change that much

    uncle frogy

  176. says

    Statistics regarding the successful use of guns for home defense are meaningless. It is reasonable to assume…

    Sorry, dumbass, but scrapping actual statistics and replacing them with something you think is “reasonable to assume” is not an option.

    Also, thank you Sally Strange for a comment I’m inclined to copy and re-paste every time some gun enthusiast pretends to care about women’s ability to protect themselves. The only thing missing is some notes on the real logistical problems of thinking a gun can protect against rape — you won’t know a stranger is a rapist until he’s already on you, and the same goes for someone you know; and by then it’s too late (and probably no physical room) to reach for your gun.

    I really hope most gun-owners have more tactical common sense than their noisiest advocates have shown in public.

  177. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #181

    Once filled out, the 4473 stays with the FFL until they go out of business, at which point they all get sent to the ATF. The ATF can have access to the forms whenever they audit the FFL (which happen fairly regularly). When police (local or fed) are tracing a firearm they can also access specific 4473s to follow a specific gun from the manufacturer to the first civilian that bought it. This setup allows for tracing specific firearms without having a centralized database.

    Many states do have a centralized database though.

    I’m not sure why the NRA gets so hot about firearms register though: the NSA and a handful of private companies could easily each spit out a list of firearm owners by the end of the workday.

    Hmm, see if I lived in the US I would be pushing for manadatory registration and an up-to-date Federal database detailing the current owner of every gun. It would make it much, much easier for police to determine how a perp got hold of a murder weapon if they can trace the last known owner quickly. We have such a database in the UK, and I don’t at all think it is an unreasonably onerous thing for a gun owner to agree to. All it would require is that every transaction go through an FFL, and that the 4473 be sent to the ATF so they can update said database.

    It would also require a Federal licensing system and a requirement to show said license and photo ID on purchasing a gun. I don’t think that’s an onerous requirement either, but I doubt the NRA would agree to it. Again, we have such a system in the UK.

  178. says

    Kaintucky Bob

    instead of simply saying, “It would be nice if…”

    Backatcha, cupcake. I’ve proposed something that would actually serve to reduce home invasions. You’ve ignored about a dozen people pointing out that a gun in the is dramatically more likely be used to kill a member of the household (by suicide, murder, or accident) then it is to be involved in repelling a home invader.

    littlejohn #180
    I really hope that’s sarcasm.

  179. Christopher says

    I lean toward the idea of changing the culture over more external control though.
    It would be preferable if we could some how move away from tending to use force and intimidation when all else fails to ultimately solve problems. That attitude not even goes all the way down to simple trivial disagreements but includes politics religion and is not unknown in the world of art.
    Violence permeates our society it is a major element of our cultural expression, it is a major part of how we compete in sports.
    simply banning firearms wont change that much

    And there lies the crux of the situation. Banning guns would require spending an almost impossible level of political capital and would have very little effect on our rates of violence or murder. If we instead use that political capital to focus on things that would actually help reduce violence and murder in our society (reduction in poverty, dialing back the culture of agressivness, etc) and ignore guns we will have a far greater effect in making the world a better place.

  180. erichoug says

    Hmm, just under 200 comments. I find it interesting that every time PZ post on guns it always turns into a fracas. Since I have to go back to work, I will try to put in my two cents as a gun owner.

    1) Yes, gun violence is endemic and needs to be curtailed.
    2) Yes, there are legitimate reasons to own guns each of them with varying degrees of veracity (E.G. hunting is high veracity, to protect from government tyranny is low veracity)

    I don’t think that it would be possible to repeal the second amendment. But, we can definitely adjust the culture and do some simple, common sense things to curtail gun violence. Some of the items that anti-gun people have proposed in the last few years (universal background checks, registration and mandatory training, among them) are actually supported by a majority ofgun owners.

    But, I am going back to work. So, have fun.

  181. Nick Gotts says

    Christopher@147,

    Naturally, you preferred to avoid information on the intentional homicide rate, which is far more likely than mere assaults or robbery to be affected by gun ownership, and is of course much more easily compared across countries, since almost all homicides are reported and recorded by the authorities, in rich countrtiere at least, while the survey you link to is done by questionnaires administered to a population sample. You will find that of rich countries, only Estonia (which is very dubiously counted as rich anyway) has a higher rate than the USA, and no other rich country apart from Lativa (again, very dubiously counted as such) has a rate even half as high. But I’ve long since grown out of expecting gun fanatics to make honest comparisons and arguments.

  182. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Yeah, that bit about trusting the police is a privileged position. It’s obviously another area that needs to be fixed. We should be able to, yes, but that’s not reality. And honestly? De-arming a lot of the regular cops on the streets would probably help make citizens safer than trigger happy badged criminals. During the last thread (or several back by now maybe) there was evidence that Mexico’s gun problem comes from the US? They have strict gun laws but our lack makes it easier to get around and strengthening our own would make a safer North America. My google fu is weak, maybe someone else here can help me.

    And something else about living in low income areas. The guns do not protect you. It is a risk. A liability. One that people take because 1.) they have no other options and no one is helping them and 2.) they believe the misinformation out there and there are barriers keeping them ignorant. The fact is owning a gun in a low income area (yes, this is personal experience here) makes you a target for other criminals, because they want the gun or think you have something worth fighting for, and makes you a target to the police because a gun in the hands of a minority makes you look like a criminal and gives the police justification (in their own minds) to be harsher, more unfair and biased. For every one case where it turned out well, there’s a hundred more where guns make this worse. But it’s only the one rare case that gets brought out because hey, wealthier white guys can use it since they don’t have crime in their area to worry about but want their guns. The same fuckers then turn around and support the polices causing the problems leading to the status of poor minority areas.

    Nevertheless, I’ll grant for a moment (a mere moment here) that guns do protect you, merely having one makes the criminals shake in fear. Where does the criminal go? Does the crime magically disappear? Studies do not support that. It’s crime displacement. It goes to someone else’s home or person. It’s not prevention, like “rape prevention tips” are not prevention. Crime still happens and is more likely to end up in someone dead when you add in guns. Say we arm everyone and you’ve got an arms race already since police and criminal bring bigger guns since the old ones are inadequate to overpower anyone since they’ve all got one now. Then add in the suicide and accident rates guns bring and I’m at a loss how anyone can support guns at all, let alone as a safety tool.

  183. Christopher says

    Naturally, you preferred to avoid information on the intentional homicide rate, which is far more likely than mere assaults or robbery to be affected by gun ownership, and is of course much more easily compared across countries, since almost all homicides are reported and recorded by the authorities, in rich countrtiere at least, while the survey you link to is done by questionnaires administered to a population sample.

    It may surprise you, but America is not homogenous. Neither is our homicide rate.

    If you are a black american, you probability of being murdered is about twice that of the western european average. If you are a white american it is about equal to the western european average. If you are neither white nor black, your probability of being murdered is less than half of the western european average.

    If you live in Louisanna, your chances of being murdered are off the charts, but if you live in the midwest or pacific northwest your chances are less than anywhere in Europe.

  184. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Christopher #182

    “Evidence suggests that this survey and others like it overestimate the frequency with which firearms ar used by private citizens to defend against criminal attack.”

    That’s from your cited source, which is an analysis of another study which I believe was mentioned in the other gun thread. Apparently that study reached a figure of 200 million crimes a year being stopped with a handgun (the figure touted by the NRA on bumperstickers) by phoning a thousand US citizens, asking them if they’d ever used their gun to stop a crime, and then extrapolating their figure to encompass the whole population of the US. Hardly the most scientific method. Either way, your quoted source contradicts your point.

  185. Christopher says

    That’s from your cited source, which is an analysis of another study which I believe was mentioned in the other gun thread. Apparently that study reached a figure of 200 million crimes a year being stopped with a handgun (the figure touted by the NRA on bumperstickers) by phoning a thousand US citizens, asking them if they’d ever used their gun to stop a crime, and then extrapolating their figure to encompass the whole population of the US. Hardly the most scientific method. Either way, your quoted source contradicts your point.

    Do you have a study that used any better methodology? Statistical sampling of a population followed by extrapolation forms the basis of most published social science.

  186. Bernard Bumner says

    @197

    Which of the countries on the list are homogeneous and display no regional or demographic variations in criminality?

  187. says

    David Marjanović @ 120

    My apologies. I was indeed seeing you through the lens of American cultural expectations. I should have noticed how you spelled “two storEy.”

  188. jedibear says

    You know, curio gun collecting is an actual thing. I know people who actually collect antique and rare weapons just because that’s something they enjoy doing. They might prefer that they not be inactivated because they generally also enjoy shooting them. They’re also usually absolute fanatics about gun safety, and probably more averse than your average gun-owner to having their weapons stolen.

    Gun collectors do not, as a rule, pose a major public safety risk, because while they’re generally part of America’s gun-toting rural “tribe” (as are many largely harmless and generally fine people,) the gun-collecting is a means in itself, not a means to an end. They’re not looking to use their guns *on people.*

    Long-range target shooting (which requires very large rifles) is also an actual thing.

    You know what’s not an actual thing? Semi-automatic assault rifles.

    Assault Rifles are fully automatic by definition. As such, they are “machine guns” under US law and are heavily restricted (manufacture for civilian use is forbidden, and remaining weapons are required to be registered under a 1934 law.)

    Semi-automatic rifles with military styling are no more dangerous than other semi-automatic weapons, but some users do prefer them for legitimate uses (hunting, target shooting.) If you want to restrict dangerous firearms, please focus on the actual capabilities of the weapons in question rather than their design lineage or what they *look* like.

    Do take note that the most dangerous firearms are not high-caliber rifles or large, bulky pistols. Those are actually for hunting and target-shooting. No, the most dangerous firearms are the small ones, the concealable ones, and the inexpensive ones.

    If you absolutely must do away with ARs and AKs, at the very least please stop calling them “assault rifles.” It’s not correct, and as such it makes you sound like an idiot to people who know better.

    The problem with this debate is that it’s really not a good-faith argument. It’s more tribal identification than anything else. Anti-gun types generally don’t know much about guns except that they don’t like them and want them gone. Pro-gun types are often dedicated to a slippery-slope paradigm that makes even the most minor and reasonable restrictions into an intolerable threat to personal liberty. It’s impossible to have a useful discussion of any policy issue between the ignorant and the stupid.

    I don’t have a horse in this race (the most dangerous weapon I own is either a broken sword or a pocket knife, take your pick) but I really do wish people would learn to talk about this subject sensibly. As with fiscal policy, though, I’m afraid that’s a forlorn hope.

    If PZ considers these extreme measures a start, I wonder what he’d consider an optimal regulatory regime.

  189. doublereed says

    And there lies the crux of the situation. Banning guns would require spending an almost impossible level of political capital and would have very little effect on our rates of violence or murder. If we instead use that political capital to focus on things that would actually help reduce violence and murder in our society (reduction in poverty, dialing back the culture of agressivness, etc) and ignore guns we will have a far greater effect in making the world a better place.

    You ignore suicide. Guns cause suicide. Reducing guns would decrease the number of suicides.

    And the fact is that we don’t really know what causes violent crime. Even socioeconomic factors aren’t a great indicator. Did you know that violent crime went down during the Great Recession? Poverty isn’t the best indication. In fact, one of the best indicators has to do with Environmental Lead Levels.

  190. Holms says

    #31
    Only if you’re there when the break-in occurs, and only if you’re able to get the drop on the intruder. And actual experience has proven that very few break-ins happen that way.

    Actual experience has shown, again and again, that carrying your own gun is NOT a reasonable self-defense tactic in most situations.

    Well, if you aren’t at home while someone is breaking into it, then you aren’t at risk anyway so that point is moot.

    Setting that quibble aside however, PZ’s ‘trust the police’ line is simply not reasonable in many areas; generally low income, minority dominated tenements and the like. The trust in police needs to be earned rather than demanded; until then, simple pragmatism + crime ridden circumstances will continue to lead people to take measures that are actually available to them.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    #37
    Come on, that’s a terrible bet.

    Location, location, location.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    #44
    And why is there so much danger in your community? Because the party that supports the “right to bear arms” also supports a raft of tax-cuts, spending cuts and other policies that leave communities like yours impoverished, deprived of opportunities, and deprived of decent police coverage.

    You are right that poverty is the leading cause of crime in such areas, but that means social reform in the form of safety net, government health care and education are the answer more so than banning guns.

    It is therefore possible to disagree with the stance of the NRA crowd on economical and social matters, while still keeping (limited) gun ownership.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    #48
    But suicide doesn’t require a gun. If guns were removed from the equation, I don’t think the number of suicides would drop significantly.

    It does, actually. With the super easy method of suicide eliminated, spur of the moment suicides resulting from highly emotional events (discovering your spouse is cheating on you, death of a loved one etc) are no longer so easy to enact. They can’t simply reach for their gun and kill themselves then and there; instead, the suicide takes some effort and time to enact. This time delay will often permit some amount of cooling off, allowing the person to calm down and appraise the situation or be comforted by another person.

    From wiki: “Suicide rates for both males and females have generally decreased since the mid-90s with the overall suicide rate decreasing by 23% between 1999 and 2009. Suicide rates for males peaked in 1997 at 23.6 per 100,000 but have steadily decreased since then and stood at 14.9 per 100 000 in 2009. Female rates reached a high of 6.2 per 100 000 in 1997. Rates declined after that and was 4.5 per 100 000 in 2009.”

    Did you notice that male and female suicide rates both peaked in 97, and have declined since then? Not a coincidence: 96 was the year Australia introduced large scale gun regulation.

    That said, I maintain that gun regulation is still preferable to banning them altogether for the reasons noted in earlier posts.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    #77
    How is a man with 50 guns more dangerous than a man with one gun? You realize that guns don’t fire themselves right?

    Say rather, ‘what use does a person have for 50 guns when he has no plausible use for 49 of them?’ Not that I think it will do any good trying to reason with you; I remember your name from previous gun control discussions. Bracing for idiocy!

    Because in the whole history of humanity, the physically strong have never used violence against the physically weak to get what they want….

    Which is more lethal, Brawny Guy or Average Joe with a gun? In an overwhelming plurality of situations, the gun owner.

    Ill informed rants like this only make the pro-gun side dig in and cement their position. Nothing helps the pro-gun culture more than ranting anti-gunners. Just look at last year’s sales…

    Here, you are actually implying that the way to combat the gun culture is to not discuss it. As I said, idiocy.

    Lastly, some target shooting can consume quite a lot of ammunition. It is not uncommon to go through several thousand rounds over a weekend per person. Having a few weekends worth of stockpile is very sensible, especially these days where ammo flys off the shelf as soon as it is restocked.

    In which you justify buying shittons of ammo by pointing out that people are buying shittons of ammo.

    All this handwringing because some assholes in Flordia got into a fight in a movie theater? Where was the blog post pushing for a ban on meat thermometers when this happened:

    This is the most blatantly dishonest comparison I think I have ever seen. How many tens of thousands of people die per year due to meat thermometer stabbings? Oh, zero? Ok, how many thousands then? Still zero, damn. How many hundreds? Fuck, still none… how many tens? Do I have a blip on the graph yet, or do I have to go to integers?

    And you have the fucking nervs to compare that bullshit to gun deaths.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    #97
    Certainly wouldn’t doubt it. And there is also the point that firearm registration has ALWAYS lead to confiscation… Australia, California, etc. That part is more than NRA propaganda. We’ve seen it happen time and again.

    Uhhhhh pretty sure Australia actually had a voluntary buyback. Slightly different.

    To begin with the obvious, the shooter in this case was a retired LEO who do and always have had the ability to carry, no CCW needed.

    Sounds like an excellent argument in favour of heavily curtailing concealed carry for life for retired cops. I agree!

    Ignoring this asshole, why might people want to carry in public or a movie theater? I don’t know… in case some asshole decides to shoot up a movie theater (or a mall or a gas station or a school) to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

    This particular ‘shooting up a movie theater’ event was caused specifically by an arsehole taking a gun where it was not needed, and you say to ignore this cause? “we need guns in a cinema to protect ourselves from people from people that bring guns to the cinema! Pay no attention to the fact that the people that shoot people in a cinema are the people that bring guns to them! MOAR GUNZ!!” Dishonest reasoning right there.

  191. says

    I’m Canadian, so take this for what it’s worth: we have a lot of guns up here, too. What we don’t have is a “gun culture” fetishizing violence as the only viable option to settle the most minor of grievances. So far as I’m aware, it’s nigh-on impossible to get a concealed carry permit up here, and even our gun clubs don’t push for it. There’s no real need for it — violent crime is, for the most part, a rarity, and for better or worse we recognize that property isn’t worth killing over. We’re by no means perfect, but thank fuck our founders didn’t immortalize such an asinine relic as the “well-armed militia.”

  192. says

    Anti-gun types generally don’t know much about guns except that they don’t like them and want them gone.

    Take your patronizing superior attitude and shove it back where it came from. People who favor restrictions on gun ownership know full well what the consequences of widespread availability of guns does to their families and communities. They don’t need lectures from clueless idiots pretending to know how ignorant the rest of us are.

  193. says

    Bernard Bumner #200
    Christopher is saying “OOOGITY BOOGITY!!! BROWN PEOPLE!!!!” It’s a pretty standard dogwhistle on the right, trotted out for everything from gun control to single-payer healthcare.

  194. Onamission5 says

    @Christopher #199:

    From the Wiki:
    Between 1987 and 1990, McDowall found that guns were used in defense during a crime incident 64,615 times annually (258,460 times total over the whole period).[84] This equated to two times out of 1,000 criminal incidents (0.2%) that occurred in this period, including criminal incidents where no guns were involved at all.[84] For violent crimes, assault, robbery, and rape, guns were used 0.83% of the time in self-defense.

    Hemenway considered that the Kleck figure was inconsistent with other known statistics for crime, citing that Kleck’s figures apparently showed that guns were used many times more often for self-defense in burglaries than there were reported incidents of burglaries of premises whose occupants were awake and armed with firearms. (bolding mine)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States#Self-protection

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615397/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1730664/

  195. Christopher says

    You ignore suicide. Guns cause suicide. Reducing guns would decrease the number of suicides.

    Got any evidence for that assertation?

    And the fact is that we don’t really know what causes violent crime. Even socioeconomic factors aren’t a great indicator. Did you know that violent crime went down during the Great Recession? Poverty isn’t the best indication. In fact, one of the best indicators has to do with Environmental Lead Levels.

    Or legalized abortion. There are many correlations and a few possible causations. But the fact remains that poor people kill eachother with greater frequency than middle and upper class people kill eachother. Maybe it is a cultural lack of non-violent conflict resolution. Maybe it is a result of needing to participate in the black market in order to survive where you can’t take someone to court for cheating you. Maybe it is simply due to the fact that not having a job gives one a lot of time to get into arguments with other jobless folks on the block. We don’t really know. What we do know is that if you want to decrease the black on black murder rate in Louisanna, taking guns from mil-surp collectors in Utah isn’t going to do jack.

  196. says

    As an aside, I think the increase in these senseless shootings of late comes from “traditional” men feeling ever more stress that their avenues of asserting their “masculinity” — date rape, white privilege and being the only people whose opinions matter — are dwindling. And what’s manlier than protecting others — women — with murder?

    Or perhaps I’m being too cynical and not in any way furthering the debate. But it’s a good hypothesis, I think.

  197. Holms says

    #118
    Bullshit again you twerp.

    HOUSTON –- Police said a driver shot in his neck during an attempted robbery on Houston’s northside is expected to survive.

    Are you honestly trying to suggest that guns are no more lethal than thermometers, by comparing a single thermometer stabbing to a single gunshot? Cos that’s pretty stupid and / or dishonest.

  198. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    If you want to restrict dangerous firearms, please focus on the actual capabilities of the weapons in question rather than their design lineage or what they *look* like.

    Their design lineage and what they look like are a major part of their appeal to irresponsible gun owners.

  199. says

    Got any evidence for that assertation?

    That evidence was already linked to at comment 55 and probably other sources have been linked too since then. I found this within 10 seconds using CRTL+F “suicide” on this thread.

    I guess you’re not really paying much attention, eh Christopher?

  200. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @jedibear

    If you want to restrict dangerous firearms, please focus on the actual capabilities of the weapons in question rather than their design lineage or what they *look* like.

    I agree, but I don’t recall anyone actually doing that on this thread.

    Also, no, an assault rifle is not “fully automatic by definition”, because the biggest problem with the term assault rifle is that it has no standardised definiton. Normal people probably would define it as a fully automatic rifle; I certainly would. The US government trys to define it by cosmetic or accessory features such as foregrips, collapsable stocks and bayonet lugs. The overriding theme seems to be “rifles optimised for military useage”, but that is obviously going to be very subjectively applied.

  201. Christopher says

    Christopher is saying “OOOGITY BOOGITY!!! BROWN PEOPLE!!!!” It’s a pretty standard dogwhistle on the right, trotted out for everything from gun control to single-payer healthcare.

    Uh, brown people have a lower much murder rate than white people.

    It is not my fault that black on black murder overwhelms the statistics. If you want to lower the overall murder rate, you should focus on the outliers. It’s not like the Pareto principle is something novel.

  202. David Marjanović says

    For a broad outlook at crime levels across nations:
    pg43, fig 3: Overall victimization for 10 crimes

    Burglary:
    p66, fig 12

    Assults:
    p82, fig 16

    Police reported thefts:
    pg111, fig 23

    Percentage of public who consider a burglary in their house to be likely in the coming year:
    p129, fig 26

    Percentage of population who feel safe on the street after dark
    p132, fig 28

    The US fares better than many Western European countries across all metrics. We still have to deal with far too much crime, but so do many other “First World” countries that have de-facto bans on personal firearm ownership.

    What’s your point? My point is that fewer people die in the process when guns are harder to get.

    The Japanese and the Swiss have very little gun crime and very little gun regulation – clearly they can be trusted (and the former have very few guns per capita, the latter very many).

    Switzerland does have much stricter gun laws than the US, and – see comment 195 – more than twice as many “intentional homicides” per 100,000 people as Japan (but not much more than a seventh of the US rate).

    BTW, Germany has a thing that is fetishized as freedom just like guns in the US: the lack of a speed limit on certain highways. “Free passage/driving for free citizens”, you see. Occasionally leads to truly spectacular accidents.

  203. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Got any evidence for that assertation?

    The statistical relationship between firearm availability and suicide was posted and referred to several times in this thread, you dishonest little toad.

  204. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    I certainly would.

    This is a lie, now I think about it; while I certainly would define any fully automatic rifle as an assault rife, I would also define semi-automatic things like the AR-15 as an assault rifle. But I think that latter choice is probably based on it’s looks more than anything logical.

    Either way, I do think “rifles optimised for military useage” is the best definition for the term, but as I said it is going to be subjectively applied.

  205. says

    What we do know is that if you want to decrease the black on black murder rate in Louisanna, taking guns from mil-surp collectors in Utah isn’t going to do jack.

    This is a huge part of the problem: as Sally Strange already mentioned, most of the opposition to gun control comes from people who care more about their own little hobbies than about protecting lives. They have no clue what should be done, and no ideas of their own, but one thing they’re absolutely sure of is that no policy can be accepted if it causes them any inconvenience. Because they don’t feel they should sacrifice anything for any common good.

  206. footface says

    I agree that handguns are a plague, and the fetishization of guns has become a public health nightmare. I don’t have a gun, and I don’t want a gun. I also agree that mitigating the effects of the Second Amendment is long overdue, and I think we’d all be better off if we could end the gun culture.

    But I don’t agree that the Second Amendment is only about militias. The Amendment reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say, “Because militias are important, people have to be able to have guns, but ONLY so they can be in a militia.”

    It’s like saying, “Protesting government wrong-doing and seeking redress from your government are crucial, so the people shall have free speech.” But that doesn’t mean that people using speech in ONLY those ways are thereby guaranteed the right of free speech.

  207. abewoelk says

    For those who have asked how I “know” that those seeking regulation are really seeking a flat ban, just go back and read the comments on this thread. Not everyone, but a majority of those who have spoken in support of PZ’s position have explicitly said they want bans.

    Is there a reason to believe banning guns would be any more effective than, say, banning marijuana? Or any other commodity for which there’s a market?

    I don’t understand why suicide is relevant to this discussion. If someone wants to commit suicide, whether anyone else agrees with their reasons or not, it’s their choice.

  208. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @michaelblayney #213

    Well I suppose it makes about as much sense as “Only dissaffected loner weirdos do school shootings”, “Metal music causes school shootings”, and “Video games cause school shootings” (thanks to the global media for those hypotheses). We can add yours to the evidenceless pile.

  209. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Is there a reason to believe banning guns would be any more effective than, say, banning marijuana? Or any other commodity for which there’s a market?

    Yes. The manufacturing inputs, tech required, method of consumption, general economics, and overall effects on society.

  210. says

    “responsible gun ownership” – mentioned countless times here and elsewhere

    The ex-cop who shot the man in the movie theater was a responsible gun owner … until he wasn’t.

    Nancy Lanza of Newtown CT was a “responsible gun owner” … until she wasn’t (she lacked the common sense to keep her guns secured)

    A few weeks ago there was a story of a man who shot and killed an elderly man who suffered from dementia and wandered on to the killer’s porch by accident. The killer was a responsible gun owner … until he wasn’t.

    etc etc ad nauseum

    re: home break-ins and guns – My home was burglarized and ransacked … cops said the thieves were likely looking for guns and money.

    I appreciate much of the thoughtful, informed commentary here.

  211. lostintime says

    You may think you’re a macho stud when you swagger down the street with a pistol at your hip, but the rest of us think you’re a pathetic asshole who is not just stupid, but a real danger to others. The rest of us have to get that message across to the NRA membership.

    I don’t know about the general membership of the NRA, but the leaders are effectively characterized as being insurrectionist, anti-government, anti-environmental religious bigots. Anyone who defends gun rights and doesn’t want to be regarded as a total asshole should make it very clear that they want nothing to do with these people.

    http://www.meetthenra.org/board-list

  212. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @abewoelk #226

    Link to these comments please, because I don’t remember seeing one, and I’m not searching through 225 comments to back up your assertion for you.

  213. says

    @226

    Laws help shape what a society deems to be acceptable, generally speaking. Reducing the number of guns available while *also* shifting the debate away from “murder solves everything also carry a gun so you won’t be murdered” while also taking steps to ensure that firearms are only being sold to persons after a thorough background check and with extremely strong regulations attached can *help* the problem. Will it fix it overnight? Of course not. This shit takes time. But *any* reduction in gun-related violence is a good start, and fuck you for thinking your “freedom” is more important than the right of others to not be shot by some fuckhead with a hero complex and a short temper.

  214. says

    What we do know is that if you want to decrease the black on black murder rate in Louisanna, taking guns from mil-surp collectors in Utah isn’t going to do jack.

    Note what this rhetoric is implying: we should never cause any inconvenience to white folks in “Real America” in order to save nonwhite lives in less-worthy parts of America.

  215. says

    @227

    But with my theory it’s also really insulting to dumb white males, who are probably my least favourite people on earth. I call that a win for rationality.

  216. David Marjanović says

    You ignore suicide. Guns cause suicide. Reducing guns would decrease the number of suicides.

    Got any evidence for that assertation?

    In addition to comment 55, there’s comment 87.

    What we do know is that if you want to decrease the black on black murder rate in Louisanna, taking guns from mil-surp collectors in Utah isn’t going to do jack.

    Are you sure? The biggest source for the black market are guns stolen from legal owners.

    Also, there’s no Anna in Louisiana.

  217. says

    michaelblayney @ 206

    I’m Canadian, so take this for what it’s worth: we have a lot of guns up here, too. What we don’t have is a “gun culture” fetishizing violence as the only viable option to settle the most minor of grievances.

    Agree that many Americans choose violent means as an option to settle disagreements and to exact punishment or revenge (the movie theatre story in the OP is a perfect example of this). And with the ready availability of guns in the US, it’s not surprising that we have so much gun violence.

    This is why I have always told my daughter never to argue with a stranger over anything, even a small inconvenience – who sits in a movie theater seat, who should yield to whom on a roadway, who was first in line, etc. – because you never know if the other person might have a gun and might use it.

  218. Christopher says

    That evidence was already linked to at comment 55 and probably other sources have been linked too since then. I found this within 10 seconds using CRTL+F “suicide” on this thread.

    I guess you’re not really paying much attention, eh Christopher?

    Even the study everyone keeps citing says that the substitution effect is still controlling. Even if the substituted methods of suicide are slightly less effective than a gun, people are still going to try to kill themselves. It’s not like guns are an actual causual factor whos possession makes a non-suicidal person suddenly turn suicidal. They aren’t SSRIs.

    Trying to lower suicide deaths through gun control is a fool’s errend destined for failure. Instead we should be putting those efforts into our non-existant mental health system and actually try to lower the number of people that want to kill themselves.

    Lastly, what if someone really does want to kill themselves? Shouldn’t they have that choice? If they so choose to kill themselves, shouldn’t they have access to a quick, painless way to do it?

    If we beef up our mental health support system and legalize doctor assisted suicide, suicide by firearm would become fairly non-existant.

  219. says

    Is there a reason to believe banning guns would be any more effective than, say, banning marijuana?

    Banning guns would save at least a few lives. Banning weed doesn’t, because weed is less dangerous than guns.

    I don’t understand why suicide is relevant to this discussion.

    That’s because you’re a fucking idiot, and you haven’t read what has actually been said about suicide here.

  220. stevem says

    I have to break in hear. Sorry, the thread is so long I haven’t read all of it {TL;DR} and, of the comments comparing UK gun control to US gun dis-control and favoring UK over US; I am prompted to bring up Japan. [If already mentioned, I’ll reiterate] In Japan, guns are completely forbidden, no exceptions. Visiting there felt like the safest place in the world. No crime anywhere, no muggings (maybe pick-pocketing only). And it is not just the lack of guns that reduces crime but the whole culture of “tolerance and politeness, etc” Discussions like this, after such an horrendous “event”, make me really advocate the japenization of American culture. Forbidding gun ownership could be the first step.

    Re “self defense”:

    Seriously, think about why break-ins and armed crimes are so common in the “slums”. Poverty itself is a strong factor, but the availability of guns and the ease of stealing them is also a huge factor to be considered. And even if a thug burst into your house and threatened to club you till you gave him your valuables, is appropriate defense to <bang, bang> *kill* him? [stopping now; before anger gets too much of me]

  221. Christopher says

    Yes. The manufacturing inputs, tech required, method of consumption, general economics, and overall effects on society.

    Guns are stupid simple to make.

  222. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @footface #225

    I agree that the second amendment clearly states individual citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. That much is plainly unassailable. It does not say that such a right is not subject to regulation, and that’s the problem I personally have with the gun-nut crowd. I simply do not see any logical basis for a complete rejection of sensible regulations. Standardised Federaly-issuedl gun licenses, an up to date federal database detailing what guns are owned by whom and where that person resides, sensible restrictions on the type of gun that can be owned by private citizens for certain purposes; to me these do not seem to be particularly onerous to gun owners. And yet a vast majority of the gun nut crowd that I have come into contact with (thankfully only one, Indicus, so far on this thread) kick and scream when they are so much as suggested. Of course that may be a case of me assuming that a loud minority are actually the majority, but maybe that’s the distinction between a gun-owner and a gun-nut? That gun-nuts are that loud minority?

  223. says

    But I don’t agree that the Second Amendment is only about militias. The Amendment reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say, “Because militias are important, people have to be able to have guns, but ONLY so they can be in a militia.”

    Actually, yes, it does say that. Why else would the Founders have linked militias to the right to bear arms in the same sentence? Their clear intent was to establish a right to bear arms as a means to that specifically stated end.

  224. David Marjanović says

    Not everyone, but a majority of those who have spoken in support of PZ’s position have explicitly said they want bans.

    Name names (or enumerate comment numbers).

    I don’t understand why suicide is relevant to this discussion. If someone wants to commit suicide, whether anyone else agrees with their reasons or not, it’s their choice.

    The important fact here is that so many people recover from being suicidal. Being suicidal is a symptom of underlying problems that can be, and sometimes are, solved in ways that make everyone happier than suicide.

  225. says

    Jedibear @ 202

    If you absolutely must do away with ARs and AKs, at the very least please stop calling them “assault rifles.” It’s not correct, and as such it makes you sound like an idiot to people who know better.

    I love the way gun lovers try to disqualify non-gun owners from having an opinion because they don’t know the correct term for a gun that can fire a lot of bullets really fast.

  226. David Marjanović says

    …OK, I forgot about terminally ill people who have no other way of ending the pain. But then, I’ve never heard of one of those using a gun.

  227. Christopher says

    I am prompted to bring up Japan. [If already mentioned, I’ll reiterate] In Japan, guns are completely forbidden, no exceptions. Visiting there felt like the safest place in the world.

    Japan’s suicide rate per 100,000 is 21.7 while in the US it is 12.0. It is almost like banning guns doesn’t do jack to stem suicide deaths….

  228. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher

    Really crude, comparatively ineffective Guns are stupid simple to make.

    FTFY.

  229. Christopher says

    OK, I forgot about terminally ill people who have no other way of ending the pain. But then, I’ve never heard of one of those using a gun.

    My grandmother-in-law had her partner commit suicide by gun because his cancer came back. It was a shitty, inconciderate, selfish action, but totally understandable.

  230. doublereed says

    Or legalized abortion. There are many correlations and a few possible causations.

    What?

    We know what causes abortions. Lack of available contraceptives and socioeconomic factors are #1 and #2, respectively. They have more of a correlation than violent crime & socioeconomic factors, actually (and have obvious causations).

    But the fact remains that poor people kill eachother with greater frequency than middle and upper class people kill eachother. Maybe it is a cultural lack of non-violent conflict resolution. Maybe it is a result of needing to participate in the black market in order to survive where you can’t take someone to court for cheating you. Maybe it is simply due to the fact that not having a job gives one a lot of time to get into arguments with other jobless folks on the block. We don’t really know.

    You just spouted a bunch of things without data to back it up, by the way. I do not appreciate that. When you say that violence occurs among poor people, link some damn data, Jesus. Shouldn’t be that hard.

    Again, violent crime went DOWN during the Recession (and in fact has been going down for decades). Poverty is simply not an answer to what causes violent crime. Many many people got way poorer, and did crime continued to go down. They do not correlate as strongly as you want them to.

    What we do know is that if you want to decrease the black on black murder rate in Louisanna, taking guns from mil-surp collectors in Utah isn’t going to do jack.

    It will, however, decrease the suicide rate in Utah.

  231. abewoelk says

    I grew up in an era in which bringing guns to school was not an unusual event. My school had a rifle team, which I was on, and if it was practice day, you brought your rifle. For the most part it was stowed in your locker until time for practice, but if someone was running late they sometimes brought it with them to class. Not only did we never have a school shooting; in those days a school shooting would have been unthinkable. And per capita, there were at least as many (I suspect more) guns then than there are now. So obviously the problem isn’t guns per se. A better question would be: What happened between the 1950s, when I was in high school, and 2014, such that people are willing to use guns in a way that they didn’t used to? If someone could figure out the answer to that question, that would go a long way toward solving the violence problem.

  232. says

    Christopher, the manufacturing process shown in the video you cited is not at all simple. “Simple” relative to the process of making an Intel chip or an F-16, maybe, but that’s not really “simple.”

  233. David Marjanović says

    Japan’s suicide rate per 100,000 is 21.7 while in the US it is 12.0. It is almost like banning guns doesn’t do jack to stem suicide deaths….

    You can’t compare the outcomes as long as you haven’t quantified how different the starting points are. These numbers do nothing to contradict the link & quote in comment 87.

  234. says

    I grew up in an era in which bringing guns to school was not an unusual event.

    The old “guns were safer back then” argument? Ed Brayton debunked that one awhile back, by citing newspaper articles about kids killing themselves in gun-play accidents back in the Colonial and post-Revolution eras.

  235. Christopher says

    What?

    We know what causes abortions. Lack of available contraceptives and socioeconomic factors are #1 and #2, respectively. They have more of a correlation than violent crime & socioeconomic factors, actually (and have obvious causations).

    http://freakonomics.com/books/freakonomics/chapter-excerpts/chapter-4/

    You just spouted a bunch of things without data to back it up, by the way. I do not appreciate that. When you say that violence occurs among poor people, link some damn data, Jesus. Shouldn’t be that hard.

    ftp://psyftp.mcmaster.ca/dalywilson/sshrc2004/wilkinsonCrime.pdf

    Technically, income inequality is more to blame than absolute poverty, but I think everyone can agree that if we are to bring decrease inequality it would be better for everyone to be in the middle-class range rather than everyone be poor as dirt.

  236. David Marjanović says

    If someone could figure out the answer to that question, that would go a long way toward solving the violence problem.

    Here you’re assuming that school massacres are just one out of many manifestations of general violence and have the same underlying cause(s). This hypothesis remains to be tested.

    The fact remains that school shootings require available guns. Guns being available may not cause school shootings, but when guns are difficult to get, school shootings are difficult to perform, no matter how many people fantasize about committing one.

  237. doublereed says

    Japan’s suicide rate per 100,000 is 21.7 while in the US it is 12.0. It is almost like banning guns doesn’t do jack to stem suicide deaths….

    This is irrelevant. If they all had easy access to guns, guess what, their suicide rate would probably be higher. You would have to compare their suicide rate to when they had guns in order for this to be a decent point.

    Obviously bad logic.

    Stop arguing that guns don’t cause suicide. The evidence is against you.

  238. Christopher says

    Christopher, the manufacturing process shown in the video you cited is not at all simple. “Simple” relative to the process of making an Intel chip or an F-16, maybe, but that’s not really “simple.”

    No, it is very, very simple. Easier than growing pot indoors.

    Anyone with the most basic of tools and some parts from a hardware store can make one in a weekend. It doesn’t even require power tools:

    http://www.ease.com/~randyj/ph_18/r18_011_Darra__05.jpg

  239. rq says

    Nick @195

    You will find that of rich countries, only Estonia (which is very dubiously counted as rich anyway) has a higher rate than the USA, and no other rich country apart from Lativa (again, very dubiously counted as such) has a rate even half as high.

    Here in Latvia, we consider Estonia to be a rich country, while we ourselves are borderline-third-world.
    Those are some interesting statistics, though. I can’t speak for Estonia, but I know in Latvia gun crime is extremely rare – gun ownership just isn’t a thing here; our murder rate goes up by other means, and while this may support the idea that not only guns kill people, it’s more a result of the current historico-culturo-political and socioeconomic situation of the country. (So, I suppose, comparison of these things is more complicated…)
    Anyway. More gun control. Yes.

  240. says

    No, it is very, very simple. Easier than growing pot indoors.

    No it isn’t. I’ve seen pot grown indoors, and I know for a fact that it’s simpler than making a gun.

  241. Christopher says

    Are guns the only factor in suicide deaths?

    Many here seem to think so.

    If anything, access to guns results in a very slight increase in suicide sucess rates. I don’t think that is a valid reason to get rid of civilian gun ownership.

  242. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @abewoelk #250

    Oh good, an anecdote. We haven’t had any of those yet. Well, I’m convinced.

    Safety note: Please ensure your Sarcasm Meter is functional and fully charged before attempting to read the above.

  243. says

    Anyone with the most basic of tools and some parts from a hardware store can make one in a weekend.

    “One?” So fucking what? A well-enforced ban on guns would get far more than one gun off the streets per weekend. If your point is that a ban on guns would not work against small basement operations like the one you cited, that’s not exactly a compelling argument against such a ban.

  244. Christopher says

    No it isn’t. I’ve seen pot grown indoors, and I know for a fact that it’s simpler than making a gun.

    I’ve grown pot indoors (legally for my father as he was dying from MS) and I’ve built an AK from a pile of scrap (legally). Making the gun was simpler.

  245. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Safety note: Please ensure your Sarcasm Meter is functional and fully charged before attempting to read the above.

    Here in th’goo’ ol’ You Ass Uvay we use sarcasm FEET!

    And we shoot ourselves in ‘em, too…

  246. Christopher says

    “One?” So fucking what? A well-enforced ban on guns would get far more than one gun off the streets per weekend. If your point is that a ban on guns would not work against small basement operations like the one you cited, that’s not exactly a compelling argument against such a ban.

    If there is a blackmarket need, someone will fill it with a production line.

    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/sub-machine-gun-seized-from-gang-raid/story-fnhocxo3-1226659401117

  247. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #261

    Many here seem to think so.

    *headdesk*

    If anything, access to guns results in a very slight increase in suicide sucess rates.

    Many citations in this thread refute that point. You have one data point.

    I don’t think that is a valid reason to get rid of civilian gun ownership.

    No one on this thread has suggested we do that.

  248. Holms says

    History repeats itself. I remember Christopher’s name purely because he insisted that banning guns isn’t really going to do anything anyway, because they can be home made. And then droned on by suggesting that a few mates in a shed could crank out the guns at a rate comparable to – or perhaps even better than – a firearms factory.

    Pure dishonesty, in every argument.

  249. abewoelk says

    OK, for those who want specific cites to quotes on this thread from people who want to ban guns, here’s what was in just the first 25:
    Comment 8 – I’m from the UK where we don’t have guns, you should emulate us.
    Comment 16 – a ban on all handguns except for hunting
    Comment 17 – My solution is to ban handguns
    Comment 19 – not even a hunting exception

    So yeah, the idea that guns should be banned altogether has definitely found its way into this discussion. Comments like that simply make private gun owners dig in their heels.

  250. mesh says

    @Christopher #237

    Even if the substituted methods of suicide are slightly less effective than a gun, people are still going to try to kill themselves.

    The operative word here being try. One study found 90% of all firearm related suicide attempts to be successful compared to the 3% success rate of drug-related suicide attempts, which makes up 75% of all suicide attempts.

    http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_index.php?idx=119&d=1&w=5&e=28649

    I would hardly call that “slightly less effective”.

    It’s not like guns are an actual causual factor whos possession makes a non-suicidal person suddenly turn suicidal. They aren’t SSRIs.

    Trying to lower suicide deaths through gun control is a fool’s errend destined for failure.

    Another study:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1756560/

    Results: Across the nine regions for the early 1990s (n = 9), household handgun ownership rates are positively correlated with the suicide rate (r = 0.59) and are not correlated with either the lifetime prevalence of major depression or suicidal thoughts. After controlling for major depression and suicidal thoughts (and any of the four additional control variables), handgun ownership rates remain significantly associated with the overall suicide rate.

    Conclusions: In United States regions with higher levels of household handgun ownership, there are higher suicide rates. This relationship cannot be explained by differences in the prevalence of two mental health indicators—lifetime rates of either major depression or suicidal thoughts.

  251. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Christopher #266

    Yeah, because in the UK there is a thriving black market in home made firear… wait. Damn.

  252. doublereed says

    Many here seem to think so.

    If anything, access to guns results in a very slight increase in suicide sucess rates. I don’t think that is a valid reason to get rid of civilian gun ownership.

    WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG
    Stop saying wrong things please.

    Using five measures of gun ownership and controlling for other factors associated with suicide, such as mental illness, we consistently found that each 1 percentage-point increase in household gun ownership rates leads to between 0.5 and 0.9 percent more suicides. Or, to put it the other way, a percentage-point decrease in household gun ownership leads to between 0.5 and 0.9 percent fewer suicides.

  253. Christopher says

    No one on this thread has suggested we do that.

    Um, your solution to suicide is to prevent people from having access to a firearm, which would require elminating civilian ownership of firearms.

  254. Christopher says

    WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG
    Stop saying wrong things please.

    Using five measures of gun ownership and controlling for other factors associated with suicide, such as mental illness, we consistently found that each 1 percentage-point increase in household gun ownership rates leads to between 0.5 and 0.9 percent more suicides. Or, to put it the other way, a percentage-point decrease in household gun ownership leads to between 0.5 and 0.9 percent fewer suicides.

    Do your really think that if guns magically disappeared from the US our suicide rate would halve?

  255. says

    If there is a blackmarket need, someone will fill it with a production line.

    That doesn’t mean a ban on guns would have no positive effect.

    So yeah, the idea that guns should be banned altogether has definitely found its way into this discussion. Comments like that simply make private gun owners dig in their heels.

    Gun enthusiasts have been acting crazy for as long as I can remember. Are you trying to blame US for THEIR bigotry, dishonesty and irrationality?

    And what are we supposed to say that won’t “make private gun owners dig in their heels?” As long as you’re going to give us tone-policing, you might as well go all the way and give us specific proposals.

  256. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @abewoelk #269

    OK, for those who want specific cites to quotes on this thread from people who want to ban guns, here’s what was in just the first 25:
    Comment 8 – I’m from the UK where we don’t have guns, you should emulate us.
    Comment 16 – a ban on all handguns except for hunting
    Comment 17 – My solution is to ban handguns
    Comment 19 – not even a hunting exception

    So yeah, the idea that guns should be banned altogether has definitely found its way into this discussion. Comments like that simply make private gun owners dig in their heels.

    Comment #8:

    I’ve also never touched a gun. I grew up in the UK, and never even saw a gun until I went abroad. Shortly after 9/11, you started seeing armed police at airports; other than that, I’ve still never seen one in this country. This is completely mundane to me, but tends to astonish Americans, just like the fact that I can get ill, go to a doctor, get medicine, take it, and get better without putting a hand in my pocket. Both of these comforts are under attack from rightwingers, so I’m not saying we’re better people. It’s possible, is all.

    Your dishonest paraphrasing is noted.

    Comment #16: … except for hunting. So not a ban, then? Though I do disagree with that one, the commenter hasn’t considered other legitimate reasons such as target sports.

    Comment #17: Handguns. Not guns. And I agree with them, what possible reason does a civilian have for owning a handgun? There’s an argument to be made for home defence, but that argument has been debunked on this very thread.

    Comment #19 (by the same person as comment #17, for a start):

    I see no reason to allow a hunting exemption. That’s just part of the culture we need to change. But if it gets us a lot of other sensible gun laws, I’m willing to accept it.

    Note the last sentence. And again, I disagree with their premise that a hunting exemption is unnecessary.

    More importantly, I haven’t seen any of these propositions gain any widespread support here. They are outliers, very much in the minority. You have not proven that any and all calls for regulation are, in the long term, aiming for a ban; which IIRC was your original contention.

  257. Scr... Archivist says

    On the race angle, there was an article in PLOS One last October regarding attitudes among U.S. whites. It found that there was a correlation between rates of gun ownership and scoring on a “symbolic racism” scale.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0077552

    I doubt either causes the other, though. They probably both come from other, more fundamental attitudes. Maybe it has something to do with the hierarchical beliefs common in the feudal culture of the southern U.S. and the paranoia among the Scots-Irish up in the mountains. Opening up those authoritarian cultures will have benefits well beyond the issue at hand.

    http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html

    ——————

    Quodlibet @236 wrote:

    This is why I have always told my daughter never to argue with a stranger over anything, even a small inconvenience – who sits in a movie theater seat, who should yield to whom on a roadway, who was first in line, etc. – because you never know if the other person might have a gun and might use it.

    First of all, how do you keep this from turning her into a doormat? When should she or anyone stand up for themselves?

    Second, don’t you see that thugs want to intimidate people into deferring to them? Maybe a verbal challenge to wrong-doing won’t stop it, but the threat of lethal violence is never a justifiable response to a spoken complaint. The moment someone even threatens murder is the moment they concede that their argument is invalid.

  258. Donnie says

    My only question in all this for the home defense group, “Why handguns?”. Me, assuming that I felt the need to protect my house from the marauding bands of criminals hell bent on breaking into my house to rape my wife, I would fucking buy a shotgun. Why handgun? A handgun is stupid for home defense. The sound of a loading shot gun may, can, will chase away any would be, marauding band of burglars/rapists. If I were a part of a marauding band of burglars/rapists, and I was armed with a hand gun and heard a shot gun loaded, I certainly would not enter the house armed with a fucking hand gun (/run on sentence).

    In a house, with a hand gun in my hand, hearing a shot gun being chambered, I would do the following:
    1. Shit pants,
    2. Run away, or;
    3. Run away while shitting my pants.

    Facing a hand gun and I kill you? Hey, look, a new hand gun. Criminals do not want shot guns. Criminals want hand guns because they are a hell of a lot easier to conceal. Thus, anyone saying that they need a hand gun for home defense….not buying it.

    Of course, shot guns and suicides are not a favourable combination either.

  259. says

    Do your really think that if guns magically disappeared from the US our suicide rate would halve?

    There would certainly be a noticeable drop, not only in suicides, but also in fatalities from various stupid altercations that would otherwise end in a shouting match or a fistfight.

  260. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Holms #268

    I knew I’d seen them on another gun thread! Aw, I remember now :) thanks.

  261. Bernard Bumner says

    So yeah, the idea that guns should be banned altogether has definitely found its way into this discussion. Comments like that simply make private gun owners dig in their heels.

    Because they often refuse to engage with any of the evidence, and furthermore can dismiss evidence by dismissing anyone who presents evidence who also argues for general prohibition.

    Firearms are not entirely illegal in the UK, and personally when I talk about bans, I’m talking about the bans on handguns and semi-automatic weapons; licensed hunting rifles for professional use and shotguns for hunting and sport, I have no general issue with. I see the benefits of such prohibition in my daily life.

  262. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Monitor Note
    Please remember to use html tags:

    Use the HTML tags listed below the comment box. In particular, use “blockquote” when quoting someone.

    <blockquote>”quoted words”</blockquote>

    yields:

    ”quoted words”

  263. alasdhair says

    Maybe all gun owners should be required to carry third party insurance on each of their weapons, sufficient to pay all the medical bills & support the families of anyone harmed by that weapon.

    Sky-high premiums may induce a little reflection where all else has failed…

  264. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Monitor note:

    Please remember to use Nyms and/or comment numbers:

    If you are replying to a specific comment, use the comment number and poster’s name.

  265. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Donnie #278

    That is always my problem with the handgun argument. The only advantage they have over other types of firearm is ease of concealmen and ease of carry. They are deficient to other categories of firearm in every other aspect that I can think of. So unless you need easy carry or concealement, why would you need a handgun? Home defence needs neither easy carry nor easy concealment.

  266. doublereed says

    Do your really think that if guns magically disappeared from the US our suicide rate would halve?

    I think it would go down by the amount that the evidence shows that it would go down to.

    I know. That’s just like… grasping at straws, isn’t it?

    Idiot.

  267. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Bernard Brummer #281

    …licensed hunting rifles for professional use and shotguns for hunting and sport, I have no general issue with.

    It doesn’t even need to be for professional use, it’s perfectly possible for a civilian to own small-bore rifles for deer hunting and such, when that’s just their hobby. I’ve known at least one guy who owned one for that reason. Technically speaking it’s possible to own a firearms certificate for any kind of firearm, but for anything other than a shotgun you need to demonstrate a need for the weapon. So for purposes other than hunting or collecting, they’re rarely granted.

  268. says

    If I were a part of a marauding band of burglars/rapists, and I was armed with a hand gun and heard a shot gun loaded, I certainly would not enter the house armed with a fucking hand gun

    Why not? The guy with the shotgun would have given away his location, and if you were part of a BAND, he’d have very little chance of surviving a firefight with you — a fact you’d be easily able to impress on him.

  269. mesh says

    @Cristopher #274

    Do your really think that if guns magically disappeared from the US our suicide rate would halve?

    Considering many suicide attempts aren’t actually reasoned choices, but instead spur of the moment emotional responses akin to frantically removing one’s hand from a hot stove, I wouldn’t consider it a stretch to suggest that removing the quickest and simplest means of achieving death from one’s immediate environment would have a noticeable observable effect on the suicide rate. To drive my point home here’s the Golden Gate Bridge study:

    http://seattlefriends.org/files/seiden_study.pdf

    Finally, in Table 13 we have the proportion of persons in each study group who
    subsequently committed suicide or died from other violent causes. What this table
    discloses is that after 26-plus years the vast majority of GGB suicide attempters (about
    94%) are still alive or have died from natural causes
    . The comparison group of hospital
    cases has had similar experiences; 89% are still alive or are dead from natural means after
    15 years. Conversely, only five to seven percent killed themselves and some six to 11%
    had died from all violent causes combined.

    Even if we compensate for under-
    enumeration by doubling our frequencies it still means that about 90% of the study
    subjects were alive or had come to a natural non-violent end.

    The major hypothesis under test, that Golden Gate Bridge attempters will surely and
    inexorably “just go someplace else,” is clearly unsupported by the data. Instead, the
    findings confirm previous observations that suicidal behavior is crisis-oriented and acute
    in nature. Accordingly, the justification for prevention and intervention such as building a
    suicide prevention barrier is warranted and the prognosis for suicide attempters is, on
    balance, relatively hopeful.

    Many of the people who attempt aren’t as fervently committed to suicide as you think. An excess of pain in the moment can easily compromise one’s ability to think and thus make informed choices.

  270. Bernard Bumner says

    @Thumper #281,

    Yes, I understand that to be the case, but I do have a specific concern about small bore rifles in civilian hands, just as I do large gauge shotguns/cartridges – the potential for more serious accidents in the relatively busy British countryside.

  271. says

    Raging Bee @288

    Shotguns are good in close quarters because they shoot hundreds of pellets in a wide spread – you don’t need much of an aim, and they can hit multiple adjacent targets. That sound does reliably scare the crap out of everybody.

  272. anuran says

    PZ, you sound like a damned Republican Senator. “Here’s where we’ll start: What’s important to you? Forget about it. I’m going to take it away. Everything you were afraid I’d do if I got a little power? I’m gonna do it. Once I have everything I want then we can talk rationally. Now don’t you whine, Boy, or you’ll be doing 7-10.”

    Once again, the difference between you and the people you hate seems to be mostly a matter of brand identification. There’s One True Way. No variation permitted. One Party Line, and don’t even think of deviating from it.

  273. says

    I know anecdotes are not data, but as someone who’s attempted suicide, I can fairly safely say that had I had a gun available instead of merely a knife I wouldn’t be here typing this right now. So, y’know, there’s that.

  274. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Christopher’s first comment @#78 got quite a bit of response, but there’s a couple things that I didn’t see receive pushback.

    First, PZ said:

    I live in a state where all liquor sales, even of wine and beer, have to be made through state-licensed stores — but I can order a freaking AR-15 through reddit. This is absurd. End all the loopholes, including the gun show provisions. All gun sales must be made through strictly licensed dealers, with extensive background checks, and all gun sales must be made in person with photo ID and a permanent record made.

    Then Christopher replied:

    If you order an AR-15 through reddit, it will go through an FFL with a background check. Only person-to-person, private party transactions on the used market in some states can occur without going through an FFL. To change that would require change on a state level or another constitutional amendment.

    Christopher, I think you failed to appreciate the part I have bolded for you in PZ’s statement. All alcohol sales must be made in person with photo ID because an 18 year old might otherwise get hold of a glass of chablis, but a 44 year old with a documented 20 year history of violence – even murder – that cannot be excused as a youthful lack of frontal lobe development can order an assault rifle over the internet.

    I’m not very familiar with US laws regulating gun dealing, but I do know that person-to-person transactions don’t necessarily involve face-to-face transactions. You’re writing as if PZs concerns are already addressed, but they aren’t, and if you read at all reasonably you’d see that your response reasonably appears to be tangential and deliberately misleading.

    Unfortunately, the best I can hope for is that the adverb is erroneous, while the descriptors of your response itself remain uncontrovertibly true.

    PZ went on to say:

    Make gun ownership public: anyone and everyone can look up who owns guns and where the guns are.

    And the part of your response, Christopher, that addressed this was the following:

    Are you honestly proposing listing every gun owner’s address for every thief to make their shopping list? Why don’t you make a public list of everyone’s jewlery collection while you are at it.

    Ah, but those decrying regulation and more limited gun ownership are constantly telling us that

    1) the best response to the threat of burglary is a gun in the home and
    2) that when evil doers are convinced that the risk of a gun in the home is high, they will stop burglarizing the home.

    You aren’t saying the NRA is dishonest as F on this point, are you?

  275. abewoelk says

    At Thumper, No. 276, I didn’t say that “any and all” calls for regulation are aiming for a ban, and your dishonest paraphrasing is noted. The problem with banning handguns is that you’ve banned the cheapest and most easily available firearm, which means you’ve made it that much harder for poor people to protect themselves (and poor people tend to live in neighborhoods where they are in need of being protected). Plus, there is some deterrence value in having criminals not know who is armed and who isn’t — if I’m a mugger, I’m taking a risk thatany potential victim might be armed and might blow my head off.

    The arguments about guns not being effective for self defense are misplaced in that even if they are true — which I doubt — individuals have the right to decide for themselves how much risk they wish to assume. If I could be persuaded that regulation wasn’t the first step toward a ban, one regulation I would support is that people who own guns be required to regularly demonstrate proficiency on the firing range, which would greatly increase the odds of guns being used for self defense, being used effectively. We require people who drive to periodically demonstrate that they know how to handle an automobile, so I’m fine with a comparable requirement for gun owners. But that would be contingent on it not being a first step toward confiscation.

    David, No. 255, of course school shootings aren’t the entire problem. But my point is that schools didn’t used to be war zones. When I was in school there was no school security, there were no resource officers, there were no metal detectors, and anyone who wanted to walk in the front door was able to do so. Random shootings in public places like malls and movie theaters didn’t happen, or at least not often. And that was with far fewer gun regulations than there are now. The problem isn’t the guns; the problem is that something has happened to the culture. Yes, people were killed with guns then too, but not like today.

  276. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Bernard Brummer

    I understand that concern, but I’m not aware that such accidents are a serious problem.

  277. says

    @292

    Fuckstick, are you kidding me? Don’t take away my healthcare/social security is a rather far cry from don’t take away my right to shoot people because they carry Skittles.

  278. Kaintukee Bob says

    @Lauren #291

    Actually, shotguns don’t spread that much. Each pellet does very little damage (relative to a normal bullet) by itself.

    At a typical distance where you’ll engage an attacker (10 yards, max) most shotguns will not spread beyond a typical sheet of paper’s coverage area.

    This can, of course, be adjusted – some models spread more, some less, and different types of ammo spread differently. If you cut down the barrel of a shotgun (the traditional ‘sawed-off’ shotgun) you can get a wider spread (and arrested – it’s illegal in every jurisdiction I’ve heard of).

    Essentially, though, you won’t hit more than one person with a shotgun. That person will be hurt terribly, and is much more likely to die than one hit by a pistol, but it’s still only one.

    You still need to aim them, if you don’t believe me try shooting skeet sometime.

  279. anuran says

    In short, it is people like you who gave Congress to the Republicans twenty years ago. You validate every fear of gun owners. Reasonable ones – yes, they exist even though your prejudice won’t admit to the fact – listen to what you say and give money and votes to the NRA. They don’t do it because they particularly like the organization or its crackpots. They do it out of a rational, well-founded fear that folk like you or Feinstein or Schumer will do exactly what you say you will.

  280. stevem says

    re suicide:

    Why all the debate about it? Whether or not {fewer guns} –> {fewer suicides}, that is just a side-effect. Even objectifying guns as “just a tool”, the question remains, Is a gun an appropriate tool for <whatever> anyway? As a tool, guns are NOT a *cause* of suicide, but a very efficient tool for such an extreme action. Do we really want everyone to be able to do ‘suicide’ with no recovery nor intervention possible (like overdosing on pills, etc.)?
    My point about Japan can not be refuted by citing Japan’s suicide rate compared to ours. I did not mention Japan to imply that zero guns here would magically turn our suicide rate to zero (nor reduce it at all, even). My point was about the public safety when in Japanese society, not the private actions there. YES, suicide is a *big* part of the danger of “guns for everyone”, but it is not the ONLY point. No, it cannot be dismissed as irrelevant, but neither can all the other issues about guns.

    re “craft work guns”:

    Even accepting your premise that guns are “easy” to make; are you seriously implying that if guns sales are banned, everyone will just build their own, with cheap, easily available, 3D printers (or other, cheap machine shop equipment)? Interesting implication. Do you really thinks so? I, personally, find that very hard to believe.
    I’m willing to test it with a ban on sales first, to see if it will happen.

    re 2nd Amendment:

    it says one has the right “to keep and bear arms”; nothing about the right to sell them, nor give them, nor trade them (nor even build them).
    Banning the sale of guns would not violate the Constitution at all.

  281. says

    Stevem:

    re 2nd Amendment:

    it says one has the right “to keep and bear arms”; nothing about the right to sell them, nor give them, nor trade them (nor even build them).

    It’s as well to remember that the arms written about at the time were single shot muskets. Hardly has any resemblance to guns today, eh?

  282. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Shotguns are good in close quarters because they shoot hundreds of pellets in a wide spread – you don’t need much of an aim, and they can hit multiple adjacent targets. That sound does reliably scare the crap out of everybody.

    This is basically only true in FPS games. See here for instance.

  283. Daniel Schealler says

    The resistance to gun regulation always seemed weird to me.

    The wording is, to my knowledge:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Well regulated is basically part of the story, right?

    I know that Americans as a whole tend to have a habit of deifing the constitution without actually reading it first. But to my basic reading (I am not a lawyer) it seems trivial to note that the need for regulation is acknowledged within the amendment itself.

    So why the difficulty? Aside from the obvious fact that the politician to enforce gun regulation will likely lose power shortly afterwards.

  284. Zee Low Brown says

    I love guns.

    I don’t own any. I have no intention of owning any.

    There are many people with legitimate reasons to own guns. Growing up in country Australia, all farmers in my region had guns, and all of them had legitimate uses for them.

    I now live in the city and have no need for a gun, but I still enjoy going “home” to the country and shooting targets with my friends.I’m not into killing animals for sport, although I do love the hunt – knowing I _could_ have is enough, but it’s mostly about the camaraderie.

    My love for guns is nostalgic and irrational, but it’s not sick or depraved. Australia may have gone a tad too far with our regulations, but I’d rather we go a tad too far than not far enough. It’s good that the barrier to gun ownership in this country is so high.

  285. says

    @299

    So… reasonable gun owners support an organization which literally profits off the deaths of children, and PZ et al should be *nicer* to them? Fuck you. How’s that for crossing the aisle? Fuck you and fuck yours.

  286. Bernard Bumner says

    Thumper @296

    I don’t believe they are a very significant problem, but I think in no small part due to the fact that large gauge shotguns and hunting rifles are relatively rare. As I say, it is a concern, possibly more so than an issue that I think requires legislation.

    (In any case, I think that gun controls in the UK are generally effective. Hence why so many criminals are forced to resort to using replica weapons.)

  287. Ysidro says

    The more shit like this killing happens, the more I want full on bans of firearms. But what really gets me, is the way my wife and her parents were laughing…LAUGHING over the fact a man was killed for the crime of being annoying. Oh, no he threw a deadly bag of popcorn too. Yes, that assault was worth a shooting.

    In what sane world is this funny and why are these the people in my life? Why is empathy a bad thing?

  288. dianne says

    If gun ownership and carrying guns makes everyone safer, how come the NRA doesn’t allow guns in its headquarters? I think the NRA ought, as a prerequisite for its continued existence, be obligated to give everyone who walked in its HQ’s doors a loaded weapon and training in how to use it. A

  289. dianne says

    If gun ownership and carrying guns makes everyone safer, how come the NRA doesn’t allow guns in its headquarters? I think the NRA ought, as a prerequisite for its continued existence, be obligated to give everyone who walked in its HQ’s doors a loaded weapon and training in how to use it. And that bullet proof vests should be banned from their HQ. After all, an armed society is a polite society and guns don’t kill people.

  290. dianne says

    Here’s the thing about the gun debate: One side is, literally, holding a gun to the other. There is never a debate about gun control in which the pro-gun side is not implicitly threatening to kill the anti-gun side. “We have guns and we’ll kill you if you try to do anything about it” is the only argument the gun side has. But it’s effective because, well, it’s clear that it’s no idle threat but an active plan.

  291. madscientist says

    I’d say hey, gun collecting is fine – but the guns have to be irreparably damaged so they can’t ever be fired again. Hell, I never even trusted the local sheriff’s office to destroy my guns properly.

    I never understood the opposition to gun control – as a long-time (now ex-) gun owner I had always been an advocate of gun control and more stringent ownership laws. It takes some demented asshole to take such a stand against the public good and there seems to be no shortage of them. Now guns have some legitimate uses out in the sticks, but when you’re in a city or a town there’s just no place for them unless maybe you’re in Somalia or some other libertarian paradise.

  292. says

    Christopher:

    If you want to lower the overall murder rate, you should focus on the outliers. It’s not like the Pareto principle is something novel.

    Supporters of sensible gun control policies aren’t just looking at reducing the murder rate. Firearm use also contributes to suicides and non life threatening injuries. See Raging Bee’s link @214.

  293. says

    madscientist:

    Now guns have some legitimate uses out in the sticks,

    Eh, I’m out in the sticks, and unless you’re hunting for your food full time, they don’t have much use out here, either.

  294. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @abewoelk, #295

    The problem with banning handguns is that you’ve banned the cheapest and most easily available firearm,

    Citation needed.

    I searched for “price of guns in the US” and found only merchants, not studies. So I clicked through on the first merchant result (Bud’s), and found no easy way to sort all guns by price.

    I then went to the 2nd result, again also a merchant. This is “www[dot]gunsam3r1ca[dot]com” (with the 3 replaced by an e, and the 1 by an i).

    Sorting there, I found $165 for the cheapest rifle, $315 for a handgun. Both were .22 caliber. There were, in fact, a good number of rifle options available for less than the cheapest handgun.

    Since pistols require additional safeguards and licensing in a number of jurisdictions, the prima facie case is that handguns are neither cheaper (even when considering only the price of the gun and not the licensing) nor easier to acquire.

    Please provide evidence you aren’t either

    1) knowingly asserting falsehoods, or
    2) simply making shit up not knowing if its true or false and saying it anyway.

    Moreover, you go on to assert that your apparently false statement entails a further conclusion:

    which means you’ve made it that much harder for poor people to protect themselves (and poor people tend to live in neighborhoods where they are in need of being protected).

    This is, of course, false if you haven’t actually “banned the cheapest and most easily available firearm”. But even if a particular regulatory scheme would include a ban on the cheapest and most easily available firearm, you’d still need to prove that poor people couldn’t get more safety by spending $315 + licensing + ammo + safety classes + gun storage locker/trigger locks differently.

    Do you have any evidence at all of total cost of ownership of a handgun? of a rifle? of the decrease in property $$ lost to theft per gun owner and by zip code? of the decrease in medical expenses lost to and the increase in wages not lost to violent crime per gun owner and by zip code? Do you have a way to compare that to, say, each of us paying an average of $9/year more in property taxes with poor people shelling out their (reduced share) through increased rent?

    Cause it really sounds like you’re just being dishonest.

    On the other hand, you can cough up your sources: I’m happy to be convinced by good data well analyzed.

  295. says

    Thumper:

    Link to these comments please, because I don’t remember seeing one, and I’m not searching through 225 comments to back up your assertion for you

    Abewoelk is fond of offering his opinions as if they’re facts, but quite often fails to cite evidence to support his beliefs.

  296. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    More in response to abewoelk, #295:

    The arguments about guns not being effective for self defense are misplaced in that even if they are true — which I doubt — individuals have the right to decide for themselves how much risk they wish to assume.

    1. cite the source for well collected, reliable, and well-analyzed data supporting your doubts.

    2. The bolded section of your argument is a compelling reason to ban guns entirely from areas where population densities are greater than 1 person/km^2. You’re really trying to use that as an argument against regulation?

    Do you think that fired bullets refuse to hit someone who opted out, by form in triplicate, of the risks created by firing a gun in a populated area? Did you think we were talking about gum? Are you just **trying** to come up with the stupidest argument against regulation ever? Given not only this, but the statements analyzed in #314 that clearly didn’t help you, I’m having a hard time understanding why you’re bothering to comment unless you’re either
    a) trolling
    or
    b) secretly in favor of gun bans and trying really hard to make proponents of private gun ownership seem like idiots.

  297. erichoug says

    I have to say, I really don’t understand it.

    If you really are interested in reducing gun violence, why not discuss the issue like a rational human being who is willing to compromise for the greater good?

    When you start out by saying, I’m 100% right and if you disagree with me “you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.” You have already lost.

    If you REALLY want to reduce gun violence and you really want reform on gun laws, then you will have to COMPROMISE. Seriously, has this sort of bomb throwing proved effective considering nearly every state in the union has passed a CHL law in the last few years.

  298. says

    abewoelk:

    A better question would be: What happened between the 1950s, when I was in high school, and 2014, such that people are willing to use guns in a way that they didn’t used to?

    Oh, the glory days when people were responsible gun owners:

    1950s

    April 25, 1950: Peru, Nebraska, Dr. William Nicholas, 48, president of Peru State College and Dr. Paul Maxwell, 56, education department head, were shot to death at their desks by Dr. Barney Baker, 54-year-old psychology professor. Baker was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot at his home on campus.[97]
    July 22, 1950: New York City, A 16-year-old boy was shot in the wrist and abdomen at the Public School 141 dance during an argument with a former classmate.[98]
    January 24, 1951: Alton, Illinois, Henry Suhre, 61, quartermaster at Western Military Academy was shot to death in the cadet store on campus.[99]
    March 12, 1951: Union Mills, North Carolina, Professor W. E. Sweatt, superintendent and teacher at the Alexander School, was shot to death by students Billy Ray Powell, 16, and Hugh Justice, 19. The assailants had been reprimanded by Sweatt, and they waited for him as he locked his office door.[100]
    June 4, 1951: New York City, Carl Arch, a 50-year-old intruder to a girl’s gym class was shot and killed by a police officer at Manhattan’s Central Commercial High School.[101]
    November 27, 1951: New York City, David Brooks, a 15-year-old student, was fatally shot as fellow pupils looked on in a grade school.[102]
    April 9, 1952: New York City, A 15-year-old boarding school student shot a dean rather than relinquish pin-up pictures of girls in bathing suits.[103]
    July 14, 1952: New York City, Bayard Peakes walked into the offices of the American Physical Society (APS) at Columbia University and shot and killed secretary Eileen Fahey with a .22 caliber pistol. Peakes was reportedly upset that the APS had rejected a pamphlet he had written.[104]
    September 3, 1952: Lawrenceville, Illinois, After Georgine Lyon, 25, ended her engagement with Charles Petrach, Petrach shot and killed Lyon in a classroom at Lawrenceville High School where she worked as a librarian.[105]
    November 20, 1952: New York City, Rear Admiral E. E. Herrmann, 56, superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School, was found dead in his office with a bullet in his head. A service revolver was found by his side.[106]
    October 2, 1953: Chicago, Illinois, Patrick Colletta, 14, was shot to death by Bernice Turner,14, in a classroom of Kelly High School. It was reported that after Turner refused to date Colletta he handed her the gun and dared her to pull the trigger, telling her that the gun was “only a toy.” A coroner’s jury later ruled that the shooting was an accident.[107]
    October 8, 1953: New York City, Larry Licitra, 17-year-old student at the Machine and Metal Trades High School, was shot and slightly wounded in the right shoulder in the lobby of the school while inspecting a handmade pistol owned by one of several students.[108]
    March 31, 1954: Newton, Massachusetts, John Frankenberger, 14, was accidentally shot to death in a classroom at Day Junior High School when a pistol being held by a classmate discharged.[109]
    May 15, 1954: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Putnam Davis Jr. was shot and killed during a fraternity house carnival at the Phi Delta Theta house at the University of North Carolina. William Joyner and Allen Long were shot and wounded during the exchange of gunfire in their fraternity bedroom. The incident took place after an all-night beer party. Mr. Long reported to the police that, while the three were drinking beer at 7 a.m., Davis pulled out a gun and started shooting with a gun he had obtained from the car of a former roommate.[110]
    January 11, 1955: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, After some of his dormmates urinated on his mattress, Bob Bechtel, a 20-year-old student at Swarthmore College, returned to his dorm with a shotgun and used it to shoot and kill fellow student Holmes Strozier.[111]
    May 4, 1956: Prince George’s County, Maryland, 15-year-old student Billy Prevatte fatally shot one teacher and injured two others at Maryland Park Junior High School after he had been reprimanded from the school.[112]
    October 20, 1956: New York City, A Booker T. Washington Junior High School student was wounded in the forearm by another student armed with a home-made weapon.[113]
    October 2, 1957: New York City, A 16-year-old student was shot in the leg by a 15-year-old classmate at a city high school.[114]
    March 4, 1958: New York City, A 17-year-old student shot a boy in the Manual Training High School.[115]
    May 1, 1958: Massapequa, New York, A 15-year-old high Massapequa High School freshman was shot and killed by a classmate in a washroom.[116]
    September 24, 1959: New York City, Twenty-seven men and boys and an arsenal were seized in the Bronx as the police headed off a gang war resulting from the fatal shooting of a teenager at Morris High School

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

    Maybe you didn’t read enough newspapers in high school to keep track of the news. Or maybe with the technological advancements over the years (such as social media), the average citizen is more aware of gun violence than you were as a teen.
    Sure, gun violence has gone up a lot in the years since you left high school. It was far from nonexistent during and before your glory days. The above is just a list of school shootings. Other forms of firearm violence occured prior to the 1950s.

    The problem of people misusing guns is not a new one.

  299. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    295
    abewoelk

    At Thumper, No. 276, I didn’t say that “any and all” calls for regulation are aiming for a ban, and your dishonest paraphrasing is noted. The problem with banning handguns is that you’ve banned the cheapest and most easily available firearm, which means you’ve made it that much harder for poor people to protect themselves (and poor people tend to live in neighborhoods where they are in need of being protected). Plus, there is some deterrence value in having criminals not know who is armed and who isn’t — if I’m a mugger, I’m taking a risk thatany potential victim might be armed and might blow my head off.

    You clearly skipped or ignored my post. Must I be invisible in every discussion? I’m a poor single mom, there’s so many issues that gets debated that effect me but do they ever listen? Do they ever acknowledge, hey there’s a real live person that can tell you what it is actually?

    No, of course not. They don’t actually care about those disadvantaged groups, we’re just a fucking talking point. A rhetorical gotcha they use with facts pulled out of their ass.

  300. ChasCPeterson says

    One regulation that might help would be to stop making guns look so cool and badass. …they probably wouldn’t be so “collectible” if they were really dorky-looking and awkwardly cumbersome or something.

    Lee-Enfields are pretty dorky-looking and cumbersome, but they’re still collectibles. And they fetch a pretty high price at gun shows if they’re in decent condition.

    a) I disgree; that’s a beautiful object qua object.
    b) It’s valuable mostly because it’s an antique of historical significance, not because it’s a cool gun per se. I didn’t really mean ‘collectible’ collectible, hence the scare-quotes, but that wasn’t clear, I admit.
    3) I was talking about modern weapons, all matte-black and badass-‘tactical’-looking and endlessly customizable. It’s an intentionally macho-stroking design (like ‘tactical’ knives).
    4) I wasn’t being all that serious anyway, as the reference to “pink ‘n’ purple ruffles” might have communicated.

  301. says

    Christopher:

    If there is a blackmarket need, someone will fill it with a production line

    So, what is your answer to stemming the high levels of firearm violence in the United States? Clearly you don’t want stronger gun control laws. Oh, wait, you’re more concerned with your right to have a gun than the rights of others to not be shot.

  302. says

    Crip Dyke #316
    You forgot option number three: abewoelk is actually that much of a stupid asshole.

    Bernard Bumner
    Note how readily Christopher agreed that that remark was a dogwhistle while claiming to refute it? Excellent example of standard dogwhistle form there.

    erichoug
    The problem is that one side’s position is “I want my toys and I don’t care how many people die so I can keep them” . This isn’t a reasonable or a rational position, and it’s not one that deserves to be taken seriously. When the pro-gun side can produce better arguments than a spoiled toddler, then we’ll start taking their arguments seriously.

  303. says

    Christopher:

    Do your really think that if guns magically disappeared from the US our suicide rate would halve?

    Why do you think the goal of gun control policies is to eliminate guns?
    The goal is to reduce the number of firearm related casualties.

    Are you capable of thinking outside of this narrow binary perspective? It’s not keep all the guns or get rid of all the guns.

  304. says

    anuran:

    Once again, the difference between you and the people you hate seems to be mostly a matter of brand identification. There’s One True Way. No variation permitted. One Party Line, and don’t even think of deviating from it.

    So is the goal of reducing firearm violence in the US not as important as your right to have a firearm?

  305. says

    abewoelk:

    If I could be persuaded that regulation wasn’t the first step toward a ban,

    FFS you paranoid fuckwit, what reason do you have to believe this? Where’s the evidence that this is anything other than a pipe dream in the eyes of some anti-gun proponents? You’ve convinced yourself that gun regulations will lead to banning, but you likely did not do so based on *evidence*. In the absence of evidence that gun regulation will lead to banning guns, it isn’t reasonable to be fearful that anyone wants to take your guns away.

  306. says

    anuran:

    They do it out of a rational, well-founded fear that folk like you or Feinstein or Schumer will do exactly what you say you will.

    Well founded?
    How much power and influence do you think PZ has? Even if he advocated a complete and utter ban on all firearms, what are the chances that he would be able to achieve that goal? Especially with all the gun owners in this country?

  307. says

    Zee Low Brown:

    Australia may have gone a tad too far with our regulations, but I’d rather we go a tad too far than not far enough. It’s good that the barrier to gun ownership in this country is so high.

    Thank you.
    I think the right to own a gun is less important than the right of all individuals to live in a society with the fewest number of gun casualties possible.

  308. loopyj says

    The problem isn’t just the guns, it’s the ammunition. Ammo should be a restricted, controlled commodity, its sale and distribution tracked. Regulate ammo even more fiercely than gun ownership. Like to go to the firing range? Great, bring your gun and you can buy your ammo there and use it there.

  309. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony! and abewoelk:

    abewoelk:

    If I could be persuaded that regulation wasn’t the first step toward a ban,

    Tony!:

    FFS you paranoid fuckwit, what reason do you have to believe this? Where’s the evidence that this is anything other than a pipe dream in the eyes of some anti-gun proponents?

    Here’s the thing about slippery-slope crap: It’s not a slope and laws don’t pass themselves.

    You can, in fact, vote for something this year that is listed in someone’s strategic plan as a first step AND vote against something next year that is listed in the same strategic plan as a second step.

    It is, in fact, possible to vote for a law based on the actual impact of the law and not based on the hypothetical impact of a bill not even introduced, **whether or not** there is an intent by some to pass something like that hypothetical bill someday.

    I’m more riffing on Tony! than disagreeing with him, but seriously abewoelk, ***even if there was popular support – and sufficient popular support at that*** for a complete rewrite of the 2nd amendment to exclude firearms and explosives (feel free to own a saber and use it at militia training), when someone proposes a reasonable bill whose effects you support, why would the fact that the 2nd amendment might be someday rewritten be a reason to vote against the bill in front of you?

    Seriously, you sound like a coward so unwilling to face criticism of your opposition to reasonable regulation that you must come up with the flimsiest of excuses, which is, in this case, “I don’t support this regulation because even though I totally support it I don’t support a ban, which isn’t this regulation, but which makes me not support this regulation which otherwise I totally support.”

    Why are you afraid to argue the merits of actual proposals? Why are you afraid to declare a position – yay or nay – on specific regulations? Why hide behind, “I don’t support a ban,” when that isn’t the question?

    In short: why do you so hate honesty in policy discussions?

  310. says

    Innocent by self-defense.

    A 71 year old gentleman politely asks a much younger man in front to put down his cell phone. The man in front becomes irate and makes threatening remarks for a prolonged period of time, eventually standing up and turning around. The 71 year old retired cop is approached and suddenly finds himself struck in the face by an unknown object in the dimly lit theater. In fear for his life (stand your ground), he reflexively reaches for his gun to justifiably defend himself.

  311. Terska says

    All the people I that will politely call gun enthusiasts are terrified that rampaging gangs of black men will invade their neighborhoods, break down their doors and ravage their wives. There seems to me to be a very high correlation of racism and gun enthusiasm. Their world view is paranoid and catastrophic. The breakdown of society during a disaster will cause riots rather than cooperation and altruism.

  312. says

    What happened between the 1950s, when I was in high school, and 2014, such that people are willing to use guns in a way that they didn’t used to?

    Charles Starkweather, anyone?

  313. Bernard Bumner says

    The 71 year old retired cop is approached and suddenly finds himself struck in the face by an unknown object in the dimly lit theater. In fear for his life (stand your ground), he reflexively reaches for his gun to justifiably defend himself.

    Only lethal force is sufficient to defend yourself?

    And if a (presumably) highly trained ex-police office cannot hold off the red mist to make a judgement about whether popcorn is a sufficiently dangerous weapon that it requires to be met with lethal force, then I’m going to say that there is something seriously wrong.

    If your only defensive instinct is to kill, then you are dangerous indeed.

  314. congenital cynic says

    I agree with all of your points, but good luck with that. You live in the land of crazy. Your plea for some kind of sanity in the realm of firearms policy will reverberate from ineffectual into silence, like a small bat farting in the depths of a remote cave. And many more lives will be extinguished because stupid people are armed to the teeth and have even more stupid motivations for using those weapons. The US will never even come close to doing what you propose. Not in my or my children’s lifetime. Just imagine what it will be like when there are resource shortages like food, clean water, fuel, etc. I shudder to think of it.

  315. atheistblog says

    OK I am going to put my thought as well here. The only real and pragmatic solution, as far as I could think of, will happen only by new generation getting fed up with gun violence and understands the horrible logic behind gun rights. Well, under my estimation it will take minimum 50 years to the least and 100 years to the most.

    With advent of more advanced technologies and availability of more information, every new generation will grow up disliking these gun rights idiocy. But it doesn’t mean there won’t be any gun nuts by 100 years from now, but more rational new generation will outgrow and outnumber the nuts. Until then more blood have to spill, more and more family have to suffer and mourn, yearly, monthly massacres will be changed to daily, hourly massacres.

    There is no other solution possible. As long as corporations, oligarch and plutocrats control this pseudo-democracy, the change won’t come soon, won’t come fast.

    And BTW there gonna be more Kelly Thomas would die as well. More thug cops will roam free and kill more people at will as well.

    50 years from now I hope I might live to see that change, but I am not sure about you PZ. You will be back to part of flora and fauna. I don’t know who’s gonna maintain Pharyngula by that time, but I will try to remember and write my predictions on the comment section.
    Hope you would backup the blog for another 50 years. Hehe.

  316. scenario says

    I’m firmly on the gun control side but I don’t have much a problem with people who keep really old antique guns. I don’t think that 200 year old muzzle loaded weapons are much of a problem. 200 year old guns are as likely to blow up in your face as shoot unless they have been very carefully maintained.

    What about animal control as a reason for gun ownership? If a wild animal like a bear or a cougar kills someone, I have no problem with having a trained hunter track and kill it. An island near my house has a large dear population. The residents are considering controlled hunting because they believe that the deer population is reaching the point where it is reaching the carrying capacity of the island.

    Guns for self defense is a really bad argument. It only works when the criminal gives you a lot of advanced warning. Most criminals prefer a sneak attack.

  317. stevem says

    re erichoug@317:

    I have to say, I really don’t understand it.

    If you really are interested in reducing gun violence, why not discuss the issue like a rational human being who is willing to compromise for the greater good?

    When you start out by saying, I’m 100% right and if you disagree with me “you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.” You have already lost.

    If you REALLY want to reduce gun violence and you really want reform on gun laws, then you will have to COMPROMISE. Seriously, has this sort of bomb throwing proved effective considering nearly every state in the union has passed a CHL law in the last few years.

    Accommodationist/tone troll. “I won’t consider anything you say, because you talk too nasty. You must compromise. You can’t say you are 100% right. Do express your full opinion or they won’t listen to you at all.”

  318. dianne says

    @331: A man shot another man for texting his three year old daughter. The shooter is now literally worth less than nothing. Nothing he has done in his life or could possibly do could ever make up for what he has done. The damage to the victim, his wife, and his daughter is more than can ever be made up for. I don’t give a shit what that pond scum’s excuse was. He is shit and anyone who would support him in any way is shit. Frankly, whoever even considered calling this “stand your ground” should be put in prison for aiding and abetting murder. There is no excuse for this and all your love of guns will not produce one.

  319. dianne says

    An island near my house has a large dear population. The residents are considering controlled hunting because they believe that the deer population is reaching the point where it is reaching the carrying capacity of the island.

    Forget the idiot humans with guns. Import some wolves. Or allow bow and arrow and knife hunting by humans if you really must.

  320. Zee Low Brown says

    “Import some wolves”???

    That is a contender for worst comment of the thread. The wolves won’t just eat the deer you know.

  321. Jackie wishes she could hibernate says

    @331 Lin Tsair,

    That one way to twist reality to suit your fantasies. But in the real world, an armed ex-cop murdered a man in front of his wife because he found that man annoying. There is no justification for his actions. The shooter was simply a cold blooded killer with machismo issues and the gun that often accompanies one.

  322. Jackie wishes she could hibernate says

    Zee,
    You aren’t worried about people being blow away by a gun, but you’re concerned that wolves might be too dangerous?

  323. carlie says

    In fear for his life (stand your ground), he reflexively reaches for his gun to justifiably defend himself.

    They’re in a crowded movie theater. There are people all around. He could, you know, yell for help.

  324. nullifidian says

    #238 – The aptly named Raging Bee:

    That’s because you’re a fucking idiot, and you haven’t read what has actually been said about suicide here.

    Was something said to show that suicide is not the individual’s choice? That’s what abewoelk was addressing in the part you omitted to quote (“If someone wants to commit suicide, whether anyone else agrees with their reasons or not, it’s their choice”). Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread; it has just been assumed.

  325. vaiyt says

    @erichoug

    If you really are interested in reducing gun violence, why not discuss the issue like a rational human being who is willing to compromise for the greater good?

    But what you’re calling for is not compromising for the greater good, it’s compromising for the half horrible.

    When you start out by saying, I’m 100% right and if you disagree with me “you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.” You have already lost.

    I suppose you win when you start the dialogue by giving up half of what you want to accomplish?

  326. millssg99 says

    @PZ: I’m sorry, but you are an upper-middle-class white male.

    So are a lot of the gun-nuts. Your point…? PZ has at least a bit of actual facts, statistics and experience on his side, so citing his race and class is just plain stupid.

    Well in regards to class PZ is the one who brought it up and identified himself as lower-middle class. So someone “citing” this is clearly not just stupid. Maybe technically by income stats there is a lower-middle class bracket he falls into. Most people don’t understand that lower-middle class just means not upper-middle class but saying “lower” makes is sound like you are somehow below average. I’ll bet virtually any college professor is above median which of course PZ doesn’t deny and admits he is “relatively well off”. Many college professors are clearly upper-middle class but so what? I think they earn their money. I just don’t like the term because I think it is misleading.

    Break-ins where people are home are fairly rare but I think that many burglars claim that is because they are afraid of homeowners with guns and that in countries where that is not a problem like GB the rate of break-ins with people home are much higher. Granted this is just based off things I have read and I don’t know any actual stats.

    By the way police continue to kill citizens and get away with it as the verdict in Orange county shows and the theater killer was a former cop. One does not wonder where he learned his fire-if-someone-looks-cross-eyed-at-you hair trigger.

  327. Zee Low Brown says

    @ Jackie wishes she could hibernate

    Don’t put words in my mouth. In an earlier comment I started that I was Australian and I’m happy with our gun control laws. I also know what the introduction of new species into an unprepared ecosystem can do.

    All I said in response to dianne was putting wolves onto an island to “control” a deer population was a very stupid idea. But hey, if the destruction of an entire ecosystem is fine by you then don’t let me stop you making an ass of yourself. Her comment was stupid and thoughtless – she is NOT helping OUR cause by making such half-assed suggestions, she just paints our whole side as ideologically blind and unthinking.

  328. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    347
    millssg99

    Break-ins where people are home are fairly rare but I think that many burglars claim that is because they are afraid of homeowners with guns and that in countries where that is not a problem like GB the rate of break-ins with people home are much higher. Granted this is just based off things I have read and I don’t know any actual stats.

    So you admittedly pull shit from your ass and follow it without actual facts? WHY? And then what do you expect us to say except to call your on that bullshit? You can’t possible expect us to believe you and be nice about such flaunting of intellectual failure?

  329. ChasCPeterson says

    if the destruction of an entire ecosystem is fine by you then don’t let me stop you making an ass of yourself.

    Oh, it’s not nearly that simple. Depending on the ecosystem in question, and given an overpopulation of deer, wolves could instead save the ecosystem from destruction.
    (However, wolves require large areas to support a sustainable population, and it would take a pretty big island.)
    But chances are that the ecosystem on any island with lots of deer and lots of people has already been pretty irrevocably thrashed anyway. And deer hunting is not the gun problem we’re talking about.

  330. echidna says

    in countries where that is not a problem like GB the rate of break-ins with people home are much higher.

    Really? Any cites for that? I would have thought that the reason that burglars target empty homes is that if somebody sees them, it means that either their chances of being identified and caught have just gone up, and what might have been a simple burglary might escalate to murder.

  331. Holms says

    #131
    You do realize that rifles and shotguns are very rarely used in murders right?

    What the hell is a “clip expansion”?

    You do realize that full-auto firearms are very, very heavily regulated right? No new ones have been able to be sold since 1986 and transfering a pre-86 one requires a $200 tax stamp, full background check, and permission of the local sheriff. Things like display how ignorant of firarm laws anti-gunners tend to be.

    Why shouldn’t my wife have access to a pistol in addition to myself?

    California already requires passing a test to buy a handgun that covers “personal responsibility” of firearm ownership, so already there for 10% of the US population.

    You do realize that you can currently buy an air-rifle online and have it shipped to your house with no background check what-so-ever? Said air rifle can even have a silencer, be semi-auto, and shoot very large pellets (up to .50cal) just shy of the speed of sound. So scary. Yet this lack of regulations hasn’t resulted in a mass of air-gun murders….

    – Cool. Pistols then? Since you’re concerned about nailing the righ weapon.
    Magazine extension then, wow that was a hard one to figure out. More generally, a hard limit to magazine capacity.
    – Good to hear, but there’s room for improvement in other areas. I’m posting from Australia by the way, so no I am not up with the finer points of your laws.
    – One per permit holder at a residence then. The number can be worked out, the broader point is to counter stockpiling.
    – Wowee, 10%. Time to make it 100%.
    – No shit, that’s because air rifles – even large ones – are much less lethal than a basic pistol. That’s why there are mass murders using other firearms instead. So, how bout we curtail the firearms that are actually problematic?

    #169
    …shotguns are better for home defence, and you agree that no-one should be carrying in public.

    I’m not convinced that’s true, I was under the impression that pistols were better due to their smaller size and weight making them more agile and hence faster to aim in a close range shootout. Still, it doesn’t matter which of us is correct: whichever weapon is better suited to home defense, that’s the one I consider permissable.

    #176
    So you acknowledge that terrifying collateral damage is a reasonable argument against allowing something even though it could conceivably be used to discourage an attacker.

    Sure, so long as we don’t make your mistake of treating all weapons as having the same threat and hence deserving the same treatment. A nuke has too much collateral damage for use as a personal defense weapon; and rubber band has none but is ineffective for other reasons. Maybe… a middle ground of sorts. Some kind of personal armament that helps in defense, but does not take out the house / city.

    A small gun maybe?

  332. unclefrogy says

    raging bee @288
    I do not know where you live but if a fire fight broke out with a armed band of house invaders in my neighborhood someone would notice and shortly there would be an armed response team showing up complete with air support.
    if someone tried to break in to my house while I was home I would expect to be awakened the sound of them being eaten by dogs. they are always more alert and responsive than I am even when they are awakened from a deep sleep.
    don’t get me wrong I do not hate guns but the idea that they are a good self defense is wishful thinking in the real world of crime and violence.

    uncle frogy

  333. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @nullifidian, #345

    Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread; it has just been assumed.

    Yes. It is a separate issue. Yes. It has not been addressed in this thread.

    Because this thread is not about the ethics of suicide intervention. This thread is about the ethics of guns.

    From the rules:

    VI. Courtesies:

    3. Stay on topic, unless it’s an obvious “fun” thread. If you have something off topic that you must share, the Thunderdome thread is always appropriate.

    If you want to debate the ethics of suicide intervention, take it to TD or wait until that issue is raised in a post by PZ. Otherwise, not only stay on topic, but please don’t chide others for staying on topic.

    Seriously.

  334. Holms says

    #348
    All I said in response to dianne was putting wolves onto an island to “control” a deer population was a very stupid idea. But hey, if the destruction of an entire ecosystem is fine by you then don’t let me stop you making an ass of yourself. Her comment was stupid and thoughtless – she is NOT helping OUR cause by making such half-assed suggestions, she just paints our whole side as ideologically blind and unthinking.

    Not that it is particularly relevant to anything in this thread, but the indroduction of a super-predator to a population of prey animals experiencing a population boom because they lack predation can increase the diversity of the local ecosystem. Depends on the particulars, but the wolves may well be a good solution.

  335. millssg99 says

    Really? Any cites for that? I would have thought that the reason that burglars target empty homes is that if somebody sees them, it means that either their chances of being identified and caught have just gone up, and what might have been a simple burglary might escalate to murder.

    Exactly you just made the point. For the same reason that burglars prefer an empty home to an occupied home, they prefer a gun-free occupied home to a gunned-up occupied home. The danger to themselves dramatically increases if the occupants might have guns. This whole thread is nothing but about the danger of guns. That’s one thing a burglar would understand. So the logic of it seems straightforward and I know I have seen interviews of convicted burglars who say they fear gun-toting homeowners more than cops or anything else.

    Regardless I freely admitted the difference between the U.S. and some other countries like GB was something I had read but have no citations for. I’m not sure of such claims, but it does make sense and so thus does not seem unlikely. A quick search yielded this which cites a book by Kleck called “Point Blank”. I can’t speak for how accurate any of this as I stated in my original comment.

    Consider the following rates showing how often a homeowner is present when a burglar strikes: Homeowner occupancy rate in the gun control countries of Great Britain, Canada and Netherlands: 45% (average of the three countries); and, * Homeowner occupancy rate in the United States: 12.7%.

    I don’t know how accurate that is or what it is based upon but I’ve seen similar things before. I think the number I read most recently was somewhere around 50% in GB which is somewhat close to the above quote. Regardless I don’t dispute that toting around a gun or having it in your house is more likely to kill someone close to you or even yourself. I live in Texas and it seems like about everyone here has guns. I don’t and one of the reasons is that very thing. Someone in a fit of rage or just by accident is more likely to get killed than by an intruder.

    I think the reason most people have guns for self defense is not so much an intellectual appraisal but because it makes them feel better. That’s not going to change any time soon.

  336. dianne says

    And deer hunting is not the gun problem we’re talking about.

    Well, apart from the number of people killed in “hunting accidents”, which is substantial. Between a human idiot with a gun and a wolf, I’m way more frightened of the human.

  337. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    [OT]

    Lauren @#90 (and #91):

    This should be required viewing for all citizens.

    I clicked that link ready to be all contrarian, but actually it’s fascinating (and somewhat funny, and a bit depressing).

  338. Lofty says

    It’s terrible sad how the gun nuts get all squeaky with panic when someone suggests curbing their obsessions.

  339. Andrew says

    @cartomancer #188

    The Japanese have very little gun regulation

    Sorry, but that’s just flat wrong. Handguns and assault weapons are outright banned here, swords are illegal to possess unless certified as ‘art pieces,’ non-cutlery knives are also regulated. In order to get an air rifle or shotgun for hunting purposes, one must go through a licensing process that involves a waiting period, safety examination, and a psychiatric evaluation.

    In fact, the Japanese legal approach to weapons is the exact opposite to the US: weapons are illegal and the exceptions are legislated, instead of weapons being legal and the restrictions being legislated. As an American living here, I find it perfectly sensible.

    You also seem to be missing the fact that law and policy are a reflection of a nation’s culture, the two don’t exist in a vacuum.

  340. ChasCPeterson says

    the number of people killed in “hunting accidents”, which is substantial.

    data (source):

    In the U.S. for 2010, there were 31,513 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 19,308; Homicide 11,015; Accident 600.

    Of the 600 accidents, fewer than 100 were hunting-related (source)
    The injury rate is higher for golf and cheerleading than for hunting.

    Handguns are the problem. Arguably, ‘assault’-type carbines. Not shotguns, not deer rifles.

  341. falstaff says

    “Now, cue the stupid people declaring their love of guns in the comments, and accusing me of being a commie. I’ll prime your anger by telling you right off the bat that if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.”

    Well, I don’t know if you’re a communist or not, but that paragraph definitely sums you up.

  342. Anri says

    millssg99 @ 356:

    Exactly you just made the point. For the same reason that burglars prefer an empty home to an occupied home, they prefer a gun-free occupied home to a gunned-up occupied home. The danger to themselves dramatically increases if the occupants might have guns. This whole thread is nothing but about the danger of guns. That’s one thing a burglar would understand. So the logic of it seems straightforward and I know I have seen interviews of convicted burglars who say they fear gun-toting homeowners more than cops or anything else

    Good, that’s why we never hear of guns being stolen, because guns prevent theft.

    Hey, wait a sec, I might have just said something stupid.

  343. scenario says

    The island I was talking about is fairly small and densely populated. A pack of wolves take a lot of land. I don’t think the island is big enough. I was thinking in terms of a trained professional hunter, not an open hunting season. Letting the deer starve to death in large numbers in the winter is not a kindness to the deer. Traps are cruel. Poison is problematic. Bows and arrows are less likely to kill the deer instantly and leave a wounded animal to die a painful death. Guns in competent hands are the least cruel solution.

    I have a friend who lives in the U.S. near the Canadian border in a very, very rural area. There are wolves, bears and other dangerous animals in the area. Several of her animals have been killed in the past, including some pretty large dogs. She usually carries a gun with her for protection when she needs to walk into the woods near her home. She has never had to use it and doesn’t plan to but carries it just in case.

    I do believe that guns are useful in some limited situations, almost always in rural areas. They are seldom useful in the city. As many people have pointed out the number of people who use a gun to protect people is greatly outnumber by people who use them to harm themselves or others. I have no issue with gun control.

  344. scourge99 says

    As long as the police have a response time greater than 1 minute and as long as our government has a standing army, then there is a need for law abiding citizens to bear arms.

  345. says

    scourge99:

    As long as the police have a response time greater than 1 minute and as long as our government has a standing army, then there is a need for law abiding citizens to bear arms.

    It’s like you haven’t even read the thread.

  346. Ichthyic says

    As long as the police have a response time greater than 1 minute and as long as our government has a standing army, then there is a need for law abiding citizens to bear arms.

    go shoot at a member of that standing army.

    go ahead.

    i dare you. I triple dog dare you.

    moron.

  347. Ichthyic says

    Well, I don’t know if you’re a communist or not, but that paragraph definitely sums you up.

    does your reply sum you up?

    because it sure was empty of content.

  348. says

    scourge99:
    What do you imagine the armed citizens are doing during that 1 minute response time? Dodging bullets Matrix style while taking down multiple attackers?
    How effective do you think armed citizens are at protecting themselves or others during a crime?

    Oh, and what exactly is an armed citizen supposed to do against a drone strike? The military has a bigger dick than you.

  349. nolan townes says

    As you want to have a rational debate on guns I will gladly debunk your post, point by point, logically (No emotional statements, or anything of that nature), but before I do, I want to say that I don’t think you’re a commie (to my knowledge, at least), and even if you where, that has nothing to do with this debate in the least.

    1) Repeal the second amendment (and it applies to militias, people!): The second amendment does not apply to militias. The militia during those times happened to BE the people. Not to mention that this amendment (and in fact all parts of the bill of rights as they apply to individuals) does not specifically grant the right. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed does not say “people have the right to keep and bear arms”, just like “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” does not say “This gives you the right to freedom of speech”. It’s very clearly stating that these are rights you have anyway, and these rights cannot be taken away by congress or any other government force. Can we question the constitution, though? Yes, yes we can.

    2) Regulate gun ownership: I agree, guns should be regulated. For instance, when I purchased a rifle last year (through the internet) by federal law it HAS to go to a federal licensed dealer. That’s already the law. You can “order” the gun through redit, just like you can order wine off of amazon, but it still has to comply with the same laws, regardless of if it’s on the internet or otherwise. The gun show loophole is also not a thing. If you go to a gun show and try to buy a gun from a dealer a background check HAS to be run. This has been the law for years, and has not been changed, and there is no loophole there. All gun sales require a valid photo id, proof of residence, a fingerprinting, and for the individual to be background checked already. The only thing you asked for that isn’t the case is making all guns public knowledge, and there’s a very good reason for that: most guns used in crimes are not committed by the people who bought them legally. Most have been stolen, and if you want to stop gun crime, giving criminals access to a large database of people near them that own guns is probably not the best idea.

    3) You have no right to carry a gun ever: I’m sorry, but I need a gun to stop crazy people who are carrying guns. See, criminals will carry a gun if they want to. A part of criminals is that they do not follow the law. Specifically a great example is one you eluded to: a gun in a movie theater. See, in the Aurora shooting there where 30 movie theaters that where showing the same movie as the one that got shot up that where closer than the one that was shot up. Of those theaters there where 7 that where bigger and had more people viewing at the time of the shooting. The one difference between this theater and those 30 is that it was the only one within 50 miles that was a “gun free zone”, which I cannot prove is the reason, but it’s certainly an interesting coincidence if nothing else. To my knowledge there where 2 concealed carry permit holders in that theater at the time of the shooting, but they had not carried, due to the sign, which meant that the people in the theater had to wait for the police to show up 20 minutes later, unfortunately.

    4) End the “gun collector” excuse: I’ve never heard this excuse ever, and honestly don’t know what you mean. Frankly anyone with even one firearm can do about the same damage as someone with 80. Sure, it’s scary to think that someone could have that many, but someone with a small, easily concealed firearm is much more dangerous than someone with a collection of firearms with the firing pins removed, and the barrels plugged up, wouldn’t you agree?

    5) No more “self defense” excuse: First and foremost I would disagree with guns being a “lousy instrument for self-defense. Yes, they are irreversible, but so is a young man age 16-25 (the average age and gender of the average violent criminal) with a baseball bat. I will definitely agree that there needs to be more restrictions on who can carry, and clearly this person who shot another in the movie theater over texting was a bit “out of it” if you ask me, but that doesn’t mean that this is a regular thing. Most concealed carry permit holders are MUCH less likely to be criminals than the average law enforcement official, much less the average individual. Martial arts are great for those who are physically fit, but for someone with disabilities which prevent them from running away, or fighting back (paraplegic individuals, for example) they are nearly impossible, and don’t offer the same ability to stop an attacker who is in the prime of their youth, who’s job is to be stronger (like the average violent offender is). Secondly, for the vast majority of the time police are not able to help an individual being attacked. A violent individual who means harm on another can inflict mortal wounds to another in a matter of seconds without a firearm, where as the average response time to a shooting by law enforcement is over 10 minutes. The police, simply put, cannot protect everyone, especially if not all of them are carrying a firearm, as you suggested.

    6) Change the culture: I could NOT agree more. This is a huge reason for why we have these sort of problems in the first place. That, mental health issues, and poverty are the leading causes of gun crime, in my opinion. This is where one should really start with this sort of thing, because (as you pointed out), guns are tools. When one finds that most incompetent drivers use a specific brand of car, one cannot ban that car and expect the problem to be solved. Getting to the root of the problem is going to fix it, not a simple treatment of the symptoms.

    As a final point I would like to point out that the term you use near the end “assault rifle” doesn’t actually have any bearing on the firearm itself. The “assault rifle ban” simply banned rifles with specific items attached, including a pistol grip (which can simply be a piece of pvc super glued to the firearm), a collapsible stock (which makes it possible for multiple people in a family to use the same gun without being uncomfortable), and not how much ammo they hold, how fast they shoot, or anything else that actually make the gun more “dangerous”. This is part of that culture thing: the only reason I want an ar-15 is because people tell me I shouldn’t have one. There are much better rifles on the market for my needs than that rifle, which are not called for as a ban (For instance the kel tec SU-16ca, which doesn’t qualify as an assault rifle, even in California), but I want an ar-15 because I am told not to. It’s the same reason a lot of children start smoking: “Daddy says I can’t/shouldn’t, but I’ll show him!”.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. I don’t think you’re crazy for your opinion, and I hope that you take the time to read this, so you can make a more well informed opinion in the future.

  350. Lofty says

    scourge99, I’d stick to human arms myself, much more useful than bear arms.
    Now stop playing cops and robbers for a minute and please detail exactly how an uneducated rube with a handgun can defuse a complicated and fast moving scenario he has no training for. Realise that the assailants may be fast and multiple in real life.

  351. atheistblog says

    PZ you are not well informed, you know that right ?
    The well informed are the ones who interpret everything wrong for their passion or obsession of guns due to lacking virility in their reproductive part. You are totally not well informed.
    Take your rationality and compassion and shove it into …. you know.

  352. atheistblog says

    scourge99, The standing army is not the one gonna take your freedom away they don’t have time fighting for corporations abroad around the world. And the cops you trust and want them to respond in less 1 minute, hehe whether you like it or not, they already taking lot of freedom out of you, they will respond to you less than 1 sec one day because they never gonna leave you, they gonna hover above you round the clock soon.

  353. Lofty says

    nolan townes, how many rubes armed with hand guns does it take to turn an ordinary massacre into a complete clusterfuck? Say your criminal stands up and starts shooting. Rube “A” pulls out his gun and peppers people around criminal with bullets, hoping to get the crim. Rubes “B”, “C” and “D” chime in until no-one can tell who the original crim was.
    Don’t tell me, Rube”A” is actually John Wayne, a perfect shot in low light, totally cool under stress and 100% always gets his man with the first crook of his finger.

  354. nolan townes says

    Lofty: Can you site any cases where this happened? Ever? And even if it DOES happen, let’s imagine that EVERYONE who carried a gun at the Aurora shot each other. There was one shooter who committed the initial shooting, and two concealed carry permit holders. Let’s say that the initial shooter gets 2 people before the concealed carry permit holders can respond, and shoot him, then each other (ignoring that they would have no reason to do so, since they where not threatening them in the first place). That would leave 4 people shot and/or dead. Compare that to the 70 people who where shot. Which is worse?

  355. says

    @nolan townes @377:

    Your “example” is outrageously nonsensical. Concealed carry permit holders don’t magically have perfect aim. In case of Aurora, that would have been panic fire in a crowded theater, in the dark, and with the extra bonus of tear gas everywhere. All that does is put more bullets into bystanders.

    This applies even to trained police officers who are in well-lit areas with eyes not full of tear gas. Consider the shooting at the Empire State building in 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Empire_State_Building_shooting . Man shoots and kills a former co-worker. Confronted by cops. Raises his gun. The cops judged this to be an immediate threat, and fired 16 rounds between them. They hit three bystanders directly, and six more with ricochets and debris.

    And, as has been abundantly explained above, with references, the very few cases of justified self-defense with firearms are outweighed by factors of dozens to a hundred by criminal and accidental gun deaths and by avoidable suicides. Here’s a reference again, since you apparently missed that: http://www.vpc.org/studies/justifiable.pdf

  356. millssg99 says

    Lofty and Nolan Townes I think you are missing the point. Even if Nolan Townes argument is correct the problem is we don’t know ahead of time when those situations will occur. If every movie had a couple of armed movie goers a lot more situations where people shooting each other over stupid arguments like texting will occur. Those incidences may indeed overwhelm the number of people killed by Aurora type shootings. So many of the I’m safer when I have a gun when somebody else starts shooting arguments miss the point that you may not be safer in general if more people are packing.

  357. nolan townes says

    Michaelbusch: my example was not an example at all. I asked for an example of a shooting where a group of legal concealed carry permit holders shot each other and created a larger shoot out. And your argument about justifiable homicide vs criminal and accidental death is flawed. More than half of the “non-justifiable homicides” in the united states are not criminal, but accidental or suicidal. Not to mention that it leaves out instances where a firearm is not fatally used to stop violence (which is fairly common, due to pistols not being very effective, and usually needing multiple hits to kill an attacker). And for your point about the police hitting three bystandars that is a good example… Of why police need better and more training.

  358. says

    Make gun ownership public

    That would mean making a shopping list for criminals who want guns.

    PZ,, that’s as stupid idea as the one in Finland that firearms should be stored at shooting ranges, that are generally away from crowded areas and not guarded at all.

  359. Nick Gotts says

    It may surprise you, but America is not homogenous. Neither is our homicide rate.

    If you are a black american, you probability of being murdered is about twice that of the western european average. If you are a white american it is about equal to the western european average. If you are neither white nor black, your probability of being murdered is less than half of the western european average. – Christopher@197

    And black lives don’t really matter, amirite? Well guess what, most west European countries aren’t homogeneous either, and western Europe as a whole most certainly isn’t. What I see is you desperately trying to distract attention from the key comparison: gun happy USA has far more homicides per capita than any comparable country with tighter gun regulation. I also see you repeatedly lying about such countries having “de facto bans” on private gun ownership, which very few if any do. Of course, gun fanatics have to distract and lie, because the facts are against them.

  360. nolan townes says

    millssg99: That’s not necessarily correct. The number of people who conceal carry legally every day is much higher than the number of people who are shot over trivial things. In fact, I’d argue that the fact that this is front page worthy news proves that this is very rare.

  361. says

    The number of people who conceal carry[sic] legally every day is much higher than the number of people who are shot over trivial things.

    I’d certainly hope so!

  362. says

    Okay. For the most part, I agree with you. But I gotta point something out:

    You want to defend yourself? Take a martial arts course. Too unathletic to do that, like me? Support your local police and have a phone by your bedside.

    I’m genuinely happy that you can support your local police and feel confident to call them in case of an emergency. But please understand that a lot of us cannot trust our local police or call them for help. Hell, for a lot of people, their local police are exactly who they need self-defense from.

    I sure as hell can’t call my local police. Tried that, once. I experienced significantly more trauma as a result of going to them for help than I did from the attack itself. My own father is a police officer, yet I will never trust the police again. I can’t. Since my experience, I’ve had a couple, admittedly minor incidents that I would have previously contacted the police about–my purse getting ripped off, getting hit by a car in a crosswalk. And I just let those go. The one time I absolutely had to file a police report, for legal reasons, I straight couldn’t do it. It triggered a severe panic attack, and my mom ended up having to do it for me–humiliating, at 27. Sometimes I’m almost terrified to leave the house; I feel like the perfect target. I know for damn sure that if I’m ever raped again, I will not be going to the police.

    This comment feels especially callous, as my community is still reeling from the Kelly Thomas verdict, where two Fullerton police officers were just found Not Guilty of all charges after brutally beating an unarmed, homeless, mentally ill man to death. I’m not saying another gun would have made the situation better…although perhaps Mr. Thomas would have found death from a gunshot would more of a mercy, instead of a slow, agonizing death following a savage attack as he cried out for his father, and for help that never came. (After all, the police were already there.)

  363. nolan townes says

    @ Nick Gotts: Are you sure about that homicide rate? Because according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate US homicide rate is pretty low compared to, say, Mexico (which is very restrictive with guns, and is a stone’s throw away), or Russia (which is VERY restrictive as far as gun ownership goes). Add to that the fact that our homicide rate is actually more than double what it should be since we count suicides, accidental shootings, and justifiable homicide in the same category, and suddenly it seems like our homicide rate is pretty low, comparatively.

  364. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Abewoelk #295

    It would appear that Crip Dyke, Tony, and JAL have got my back. *fist bumps all round… no, not for you, Abe*.

  365. sarah00 says

    This may be an obvious statement but it’s not one I’ve seen made so I’m going to make it. I think one of the biggest differences between the US and most other western countries with regards gun ownership is that outside the US guns are used for shooting animals or other targets such as clay pigeons. In the US they are used, or at least intended for use, against people (not always, I know, but it’s only in the US that I see the arguments discuss self-defence, defending homes, etc).

    My uncle owned several shotguns as he did clay pigeon, real pigeon and pheasant shooting and while I have a good level of respect for the guns I never felt scared around them. Going to the States and seeing police officers with handguns knowing that they are for use on people is scary. It’s even scarier to realise just how mundane that is for an entire country.

    The gun enthusiasts seem, to this foreigner, to be demanding their right to shoot people. To be judge, jury and executioner in a country that supposedly has a legal system. I think that’s the biggest mindset that needs to be changed and I really don’t know how you can go about it.

  366. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Lin Tsair #331

    Innocent by self-defense.

    A 71 year old gentleman politely asks a much younger man in front to put down his cell phone. The man in front becomes irate and makes threatening remarks for a prolonged period of time, eventually standing up and turning around. The 71 year old retired cop is approached and suddenly finds himself struck in the face by an unknown object in the dimly lit theater. In fear for his life (stand your ground), he reflexively reaches for his gun to justifiably defend himself.

    Your hypothetical is plausible, but is not backed up by the known facts. From the news stories I read, it would appear that the “Younger man” (from photos he appears to be in his fifties, so emphasis on the “-er”), was not aggressive towards Reeves at all. And while it has been mentioned that someone not involved in the altercation threw popcorn at Reeves, I hardly think that being struck by an almost weightless object from a different direction to the one in which your opponent is standing counts as a reason to fear for your life.

    TL;DR? Stop being an idiot.

  367. carlie says

    In fact, I’d argue that the fact that this is front page worthy news proves that this is very rare.

    It’s front page newsworthy because it is so absurd, being in a movie over texting. It hits several current social touchpoints at once.

    Just in my small town we get a news story about someone being shot in an argument or whatever about once a week. That’s a strange definition of “rare”.

  368. randay says

    Raging Bee #7, The President of the U.S. is commander in chief of militias.

    Several people have given good examples of the multiple requirements for doing some simple things. Mine is that gun ownership should be treated at least as strongly as car ownership. You need to take a written test and a practical use test. Then you must pay to register your car every year and you must buy insurance every year. Depending on which state, you have to retake the test every few years and take a vision test and maybe other medical tests. All these, especially the annual costs, might discourage many would be gun owners. A person who is required to wear glasses when driving would also have to wear them when shooting.

  369. says

    Lin Tsair

    The 71 year old retired cop is approached and suddenly finds himself struck in the face by an unknown object in the dimly lit theater. In fear for his life (stand your ground), he reflexively reaches for his gun to justifiably defend himself.

    Why should he be in reasonable fear for his life in the first place in that very situation?
    Oh, right, guns, people have them and shoot others over ridiculous things. Therefore you better shoot them over something ridiculous first.

    carlie

    Just in my small town we get a news story about someone being shot in an argument or whatever about once a week. That’s a strange definition of “rare”.

    All of Germany has a murder rate of 281 in 2012. Murdered in connection with burglary: 21
    People being killed with guns: 2 per million per year.
    And for those going “but Germany has many weapons!!! (many = 1/10 of the USA)”
    There is no right to carry guns, there is no right to carry them in public and many of them are used as sports weapons and stored in the club

  370. Anri says

    nolan townes @ 371:

    Ok, I’m confused.
    Do guns deter crimes like burglary by their very presence (as we have had gun proponents argue in this very thread), and therefore a publicly accessible database would be a good thing?

    Or do guns make you more likely to be targeted for burglary and therefore a publicly accessible database would be a bad thing?

    It can’t be both – which is it?

    We’re being told clearly, obviously, you stupid liberals, that a gun in the home would make any criminal less likely to target that home if they knew about it, and clearly, obviously, you stupid liberals, that a gun in the home would make a criminal more likely to target that home if they knew about it.
    Please make up your mind.

  371. Nick Gotts says

    Nick Gotts: Are you sure about that homicide rate? Because according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate US homicide rate is pretty low compared to, say, Mexico (which is very restrictive with guns, and is a stone’s throw away), or Russia (which is VERY restrictive as far as gun ownership goes). Add to that the fact that our homicide rate is actually more than double what it should be since we count suicides, accidental shootings, and justifiable homicide in the same category, and suddenly it seems like our homicide rate is pretty low, comparatively. – nolan townes

    The usual blithering nonsense of the gun fanatic. The figures I gave were for intentional homicide, and I was explicitly comparing the USA with other rich countries – i.e. not Mexico or Russia. The suicide rate for the USA is 12.0 per 100,000, so a simple check would have told you that the figures I was citing (rate for the USA: 4.7 per 100,000) could not include suicides – but I guess you didn’t bother with any such simple check, because you just know you’re right. And comparisons with Mexico and Russia – seriously? For Mexico, aside from Giliell’s point, where the fuck do you think most of the guns used in crime in Mexico come from? See here:

    According to [U.S.] Justice Department figures, 94,000 weapons were recovered from Mexican drug cartels in the five years between 2006 and 2011, of which 64,000 — 70 percent — come from the United States.

    Most of the rest are apparently supplied by army deserters – a source which would be insignificant in any rich country. As for the comparison with Russia, this is a country that has recently undergone a wrenching social transition that plunged millions into extreme poverty and caused a drastic fall in life expectancy due mainly to extremely high levels of alcoholism, as well as two localized civil wars. If you want useful comparisons, you need to look at countries with a similar level of economic development, social stability, and administrative competence. But you don’t want that, of course, since the facts are clear, and clearly against you.

  372. says

    …or Russia (which is VERY restrictive as far as gun ownership goes).

    Oh please — ON PAPER Russia may have amazingly strict gun laws, but in reality, Russia is a HUGE country with lots of isolated and unreachable areas (Siberia anyone?), lots of different ethnic groups (some of whom are at war with each other, and have been for generations), and a government that isn’t known for either competence or thoroughness of reach or enforcement. Also, sometime in the Gorbachev era lots of corrupt, underpaid and demoralized army officers unloaded shitloads of weapons onto the black market — so using Russia to make America’s homicide rate look good is pretty fucking stupid and dishonest.

  373. says

    Oh, right, guns, people have them and shoot others over ridiculous things. Therefore you better shoot them over something ridiculous first.

    Yeah, there’s the heart of the problem: just having a gun causes a situation to escalate, rapidly and irreversibly, because your gun is useless if you don’t draw it first (whether or not you’re the one who started the original incident); and once you’ve drawn it, you’ve narrowed your options down to two: shoot someone over something that may or may not be worth killing for, or back down and look like a colossal asshat loser. You may think you’re a responsible gun-owner, but in situations like that, even the most responsible person doesn’t have a lot of responsible options; and calling yourself a responsible person doesn’t make anything any better.

  374. says

    In fact, I’d argue that the fact that this is front page worthy news proves that this is very rare.

    Or it could prove it’s NOT rare, it’s common enough that people devour news about it because they know it could affect them. The same is true of drug overdoses and drug-related crime.

  375. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Mexico and Russia, both countries famed for their vigorousness and effectiveness at upholding and enforcing the law… Oh, wait.

    Is it really that difficult to understand that all the laws in the world will be no help if you don’t actually enforce them?

  376. Holms says

    #365
    As long as the police have a response time greater than 1 minute and as long as our government has a standing army, then there is a need for law abiding citizens to bear arms.

    Congratulations are in order, for saying the single stupidest thing in this thread.

    #370
    What do you imagine the armed citizens are doing during that 1 minute response time? Dodging bullets Matrix style while taking down multiple attackers?
    How effective do you think armed citizens are at protecting themselves or others during a crime?

    I for one will take ‘low chance’ of mounting an effective defense over ‘no odds’.

  377. says

    Raging Bee

    Yeah, there’s the heart of the problem: just having a gun causes a situation to escalate, rapidly and irreversibly,

    I said it in the other thread already: I’m sometimes worried that my husband might get his teeth knocked in by some idiot some day because sometimes he doesn’t know when it’s sensible to shut your mouth.
    However, living in Europe, I am NOT worried that he might get shot by somebody who has more ammo than sense.

  378. millssg99 says

    millssg99: That’s not necessarily correct. The number of people who conceal carry legally every day is much higher than the number of people who are shot over trivial things. In fact, I’d argue that the fact that this is front page worthy news proves that this is very rare.

    OMG. It is “necessarily correct”. If the ex-cop had not been packing nobody would have been shot over a texting argument. No matter what the rate of carrying to arguments escalating to shooting is, the more people carrying the more people shot. If nobody carried, nobody shot. This is so obviously true that to argue otherwise is a move to simple demagoguery.

    All these arguments about if more people carried these mass shootings wouldn’t have happened simply miss the point that if more people carried more people would be shot in argument escalation. To argue that you might be better off in your home with a gun if someone is actually there threatening you misses the point that your daughter is being shot in a theater because somebody didn’t like her talking too much or your wife being shot because she cut some guy off on the road. Mass gun ownership and carrying leads to more shootings. This is “necessarily correct”.

    And this is front page news because it happened in a theater over texting. The amount of arguments escalating to shooting because people have guns is common enough that we see examples of it here weekly on my local news. Ever heard of Honor Culture?

    Besides anyone who argues that somebody pulls out a gun and shoots somebody because an unknown object hit them in the face is simply making the argument for the rest of us. To that I say “exactly”.

  379. Nick Gotts says

    Ever heard of Honor Culture? – millssg99

    Yeah, I’m sure I have, but I just can’t remember any of the films she starred in!

  380. says

    @ skephtic #64

    “Where a rational conversation about guns ought to start” and
    “if you love guns, you are a sick, pathetic, twisted dingbat, and I won’t care about your arguments.”

    You can’t start a rational conversation by saying that you’ll refuse to engage in one.

    This reminds me of a lot of conversations in the climate change “debate”. The science is very, very clear on the link between fossil fuels and global warming, but if you try to start with that as a given, deniers start accusing you of all sorts of things ranging from being blinded by your worship of Al Gore to being an evil communist bent on world domination.

    Then, then the conversation over increased drilling or mining or fracking comes up, what you ALWAYS hear from the government, reporters, and fossil fuel folks is that they want to come to a “reasonable compromise”. That’s a position that starts from the point of dismissing outright anybody (often including native Americans whose land is at risk) who wants there to be NO fracking/mining/drilling/pipeline is being “irrational”.

    If you want to start fracking underneath my aquifer, you’re deluded, ignorant, anti-science, and criminally negligent. I’m starting from that point because on a number of levels, from increased global warming, to risk of contaminating part of a dwindling fresh water supply, to government corruption, fossil fuels are unacceptable at this point in time. Given everything we know about the world we live in, increasing the use of fossil fuels is not a legitimate position in a rational debate. We only treat it that way because our society has given an inordinate amount of power to the people who profit off of fossil fuel extraction.

    Bringing it back to guns, I think the word “love” is important here. If you find guns useful, that’s fine. If you think that they’re fun, we can talk about it. If you actually, in your own head, apply the word and the concept “love” to your feelings about guns, then you are almost guaranteed to ignore facts that disagree with you, like the people who think that access to guns isn’t a factor in suicide statistics.

  381. stevem says

    Wow, it took 370 comments till the first use of the Aurora massacre (@371): 70 people were shot because it was a gun-free zone and the carry-concealed were unarmed. They would have shot him down and prevented those 70 casualties. I guess you got us there; all our arguments fail WRT that tragedy. Even if those CCW men were poor shots, only a few others would have been wounded, many fewer than the 70 IRL. And even with (our hypothetical), well accepted total ban on guns, the perpetrator was a psychopath and was violating every law already. And clearly, that psycho picked that particular theatre because it was a gun-free zone, those other nearby theatres did not have those signs and their patrons were well armed, or gave the psycho the fear that the patrons could be, and that was enough to keep him away.
    But then again, I am surprised it took so long for a gun advocate (not calling you a “nut”) to bring up the extreme situation to advocate “do nothing new, you radicals you”. I suppose it is useless to attack your argument point-by-point and say “here’s a flaw, another one, consider this other hypothetical, etc.” That is not the point of this whole thread; to argue all the details of any particular example; and not to just declare, “you’re wrong!” [like I’m tempted to do] All I will say is that a single extreme example cannot disprove the general case. We are discussing the “general case”, outliers are interesting but mostly irrelevant. <Generalizing> All “gun-nuts” only bring up these “outliers” to dismiss arguments opposing the general-case.

  382. pubdefender says

    For what it’s worth, in my experience as a public defender, the majority of murders, attempted murders, and assaults resulting in great bodily injury that could have potentially caused death that I have defended involve knives and blunt force trauma inflicted by ordinary objects. That’s purely anecdotal but holds true for my colleagues, as well.

    Of the four charged murders my office is currently defending, two are stabbings, one is blunt force trauma, and the fourth was accomplished with a bow. Guns are prevalent in the criminal community but primarily as currency rather than used in reported crimes.

    I have my own opinions regarding many comments here but I’ll leave my contribution to the discussion to the above.

  383. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @pubdefender

    …K. But do you agree that firearms, as they are currently legislated in the US, offer a net risk to public health? If not, why not?

  384. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    pubdefender:

    You apparently work in an unusual area.

    From Snopes (Data is from the FBI and USDOJ) — in 2010, 6,009 people were murdered using a handgun with an additional 2,766 killed using other types of fire arms, compared to 1,842 by knife, 600 by blunt object, and 2,157 by other weapons. (Yes, I know Snopes is not an official stats site, but their translation of the government statistics from the FBI and DOJ is very useful).

    Additionally, the Coalition Against Gun Violence used US Census data to show that fire arms of all types were used to commit 66% of homicides from 2000 to 2008, with handguns being used in 51% of the total (not 51% of the 2/3, 51% of the total). All other weapons (knives or cutting instruments, blunt objects, personal weapons, poison,explosives, fire, narcotics, drowning, strangulation, asphyxiation, and all others) accounts for the other 34%.

    This is just for murder. It does not include accidental shootings or suicide. Suicide. org shows 51.6% of completed suicides use fire arms. Additionally, according to this study by Harvard, there is a direct correlation between successful suicide rates and gun ownership.

  385. gingerbaker says

    But I don’t agree that the Second Amendment is only about militias. The Amendment reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t say, “Because militias are important, people have to be able to have guns, but ONLY so they can be in a militia.”

    Actually, yes, it does say that. Why else would the Founders have linked militias to the right to bear arms in the same sentence? Their clear intent was to establish a right to bear arms as a means to that specifically stated end.

    Tell it to the judge, RB, tell it to the judge! I’m sure the Supreme Court will be thrilled to be enlightened by your constitutional law acumen, and astonished that they never even thought to parse the text that way.

    Don’t give up the fight, man! We need more crazy-ass right-wing Republican voters motivated to go to the polls, and we all know nothing gets ‘em into their pick up trucks like the gun issue.

    Well done!

  386. Jackie wishes she could hibernate says

    gingerbaker,
    Are you suggesting that if left leaning people would just cave in and allow the wingnuts to do whatever they want, regardless of the risk to public safety or legality, they’d all stay home from the polls and we’d all get to live in a progressive America once and for all? How exactly does that work? Do you suppose if we stopped talking about climate change, gay rights and women’s rights (those things seem to rally the far right too) the attacks against our liberties and safety would just disappear?
    What? How? I just can’t….

  387. says

    Ogvorbis

    This is just for murder. It does not include accidental shootings or suicide

    While it is possible to accidentially kill a family member with a kitchen knife, it is also very, very unlikely.
    I remember that some years ago somebody run amok in Berlin with a knife. Zero casualties. The biggest concern was that one of the victims might be HIV positive and therefore there might be a risk for those stabbed afterwards.

  388. says

    Why don’t you cut the sarcasm, Gingerbaker, and tell me where my reasoning is wrong, and/or what specific Federal court ruling contradicts it?

  389. says

    …and we all know nothing gets ‘em into their pick up trucks like the gun issue.

    …and gay rights, and equality for women, and questioning white-Christian privilege, and being diplomatic with Muslim countries, and letting black people walk into the White House…

  390. says

    So the Aurora shooting was brought up, and I just wanted to add in that even if people in the audience had been able to get a clear shot at the shooter, he was wearing full body armor right down to a throat guard. Odds are that unless they were INCREDIBLY lucky, they would, at most, have given him a bruise.

    More guns would only have led to stray bullets and more casualties in that case.

  391. Scr... Archivist says

    Lofty @376,

    When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, a man named Joe Zamudio almost shot the guy who took away a gun from the real shooter.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2011/01/friendly_firearms.html

    You don’t even need “rubes” for this to happen. Big city cops have shot their own when seeing them armed but in undercover clothes.
    http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/articles/2012/06/blue-on-blue-shootings/page/1.aspx
    http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=6837950
    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/09/police-denver-area-officer-mistakenly-shot-killed-by-fellow-officer/
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/nyregion/piecing-together-events-in-agents-fatal-shooting.html

    Just wait until there’s some shooting, an undercover cop draws his weapon, and a “civilian” shoots him because he thought the cop was one of the “bad guys”.

    And that’s not even repeating the Empire State Building shootings that michaelbusch described @378. Not even actual police can do this right.

    There are two factors to note here. First, trained law enforcement professionals make these mistakes. I think it is reasonable to expect that average people would do worse in situations like this because they would lack relevant training and the relevant experience gained from police-work. Second, there aren’t as many cops as there are non-cops. If these incidents happen at these rates among that limited population, how much more common would they be if the population of armed civilians increases? I expect they would become more common than they are now. It might even be one of those weird, non-linear situations in which there is a tipping-point.

    Unless, maybe, people ditch guns in favor of Google Glass (or something like it). You don’t need to shoot anyone with a gun. Shoot him with a camera, identify him, and get your stuff back after he is convicted. Loss of property is usually reversible. Loss of life never is.

    ————-

    millssg99 @403,

    Ever heard of Honor Culture?

    I think that’s part of the problem, too. So what would it take to remove the destructive parts of the Culture of Honor?

    I wonder if further urbanization of the Southeast, Midwest, and Mountain States would make them more like Greater New England, or if it’s too late for that. Maybe they culture of violent retribution still works at higher population densities. I mean, it’s not wheat versus sheep anymore.

    Would more income equality lead to reduction in street crime and thus reduction in fear of crime? Crime has dropped in the last 20 years in the U.S., but fear of it hasn’t. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2011/02/head_case.html

    And better response times for police (dealing with crimes as soon as possible after they occur), better overall performance by government services (to bring the “self-reliant” into communities), and personal/household surveillance (to identify thieves and get your stuff back more reliably) might also help.

  392. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Gingerbaker appears to be one of those people who is very good at making a lot of noise without actually saying anything…

  393. gingerbaker says

    RB:

    Why don’t you cut the sarcasm, Gingerbaker, and tell me where my reasoning is wrong, and/or what specific Federal court ruling contradicts it?

    Sure. MCDONALD ET AL. v. CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, et al and District of Columbia v. Heller
    have made it perfectly clear that, according to the Supreme Court:

    “It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”

    and:

    “the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.”

    Your insistence that the right to private gun ownership is dependent upon the existence of, or rationalization by, militias is wrong and irrelevant to the continuing conversation. Individuals have the constitutional right to own firearms according to our Constitution.

  394. gingerbaker says

    JWSCH:

    gingerbaker,
    Are you suggesting that if left leaning people would just cave in and allow the wingnuts to do whatever they want, regardless of the risk to public safety or legality, they’d all stay home from the polls and we’d all get to live in a progressive America once and for all? How exactly does that work? Do you suppose if we stopped talking about climate change, gay rights and women’s rights (those things seem to rally the far right too) the attacks against our liberties and safety would just disappear?
    What? How? I just can’t….

    No, I am saying that it would be a good thing to pick our fights. Most of the rhetoric from the left – and here I am talking about efforts to ban guns, collect guns, etc – is quixotic. Doomed to fail. And extremely counterproductive to those of us who care about issues that affect many more people more profoundly – like the issues you named. For me it is global warming.

    Karl Rove has an orgasm every time someone on the left makes a public statement about banning guns, or even gun control because he knows that means more right-wing nut jobs will get elected. And we really can’t afford to make his job easier.

    Raging Bee dominating the commentary insisting that the SC got it wrong just isn’t helping. But at least he is reasonable. PZ, imo, really blew it here when he said he wasn’t even interested in hearing the opinions of people who have a different appreciation of guns. That’s just deplorable.

  395. scott says

    Archivist @416: Too many people on the pro-gun side imagine themselves as an action-movie hero, making perfect tactical decisions and perfect shots to emerge as the hero of the day. It’s a fun fantasy, but I’d like to see if they still have those ideas after speaking with veterans who’ve been in an ambush. Consider the kind of confusion that can affect even trained soldiers with ready weapons who are expecting trouble. Now imagine the same situation in a civilian environment like a movie theater or school.

    Training is key of course, but remember that the editor of “Guns & Ammo” was run out of the community on a rail just for saying that training requirements wouldn’t be a 2nd Amendment infringement. The absolutism is that strong.

    Do these people really want to go through life always on edge, like they’re on patrol on a war zone?

    The idea of regularly carrying weapons to protect ourselves from other members of our society is, IMO, fundamentally at odds with the entire concept of a civilized society. I think this is behind a lot of the pro-regulation ideas, and something we have difficulty communicating to the other side.

  396. chigau (違う) says

    gingerbaker
    You aren’t new here.
    Why are you pretending this is the first time we’ve had this discussion?

  397. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Oh hey, a point! And a pretty good one too.

    They’re right. Thanks to the common law system and legal precedence, the right to bear arms isn’t dependant upon militia. You can argue about whether that was the right interpretation, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was the interpretation. It doesn’t matter anyway, the fact you have the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t mean that right can’t be sensibly regulated in order to allow you to take advantage of that right while posing a minimum possible danger to others.

    @Gingerbaker

    I’m interested in where you stand on the regulation front. What I would like to see put in place is this:

    – A standardised federal licensing system, which can be applied for at any police station/sherriff’s office/whatever. Getting said license would require a background check and a medical check. It would be illegal to own a firearm that you do not possess the appropriate license for.
    – Separate licenses allowing you to sell firearms (I believe this already exists; they’re called FFLs?). All gun sales must go through a licensed firearms salesperson. It would be illegal for a non-licensed salesperson to sell firearms or ammunition, and it would be illegal to buy firearms or ammunition from a non-licensed salesperson. Buying firearms or ammunition requires the presentation of the relevant license and photo ID, so they can verify the license is yours. Or simply include a photo on the license, whatever.
    – Further up the thread, a form was mentioned (I believe it was called a 4473?) which “FFL”s must already fill out upon sale of a firearm, which contains the details of the new owner and of the firearm (serial no. etc.). Apparently the FFL then keeps these forms; I would like to see them sent to the ATF where they would be entered into an up-to-date database accessable by law enforcement.
    – No carrying guns in public. Being in possession of a firearm at any time, even with the correct license, would require a reason. For example if you’re pulled over and have a gun in the back of your car and you say “I’m going hunting/to the range”, then that’s perfectly reasonable, but you can’t go around carrying a gun in public “just because”.
    – Secure storage. It would be illegal to leave a firearm or ammunition stored in an unsecured area. In the UK, for example, you are required to demonstrate that you can securely store your firearms and ammunition before you are allowed a license. In practice this normally means having a lockable steel gunsafe bolted to the wall. Perhaps the US may not want to be this stringent or may want to make specific exemptions, but in general I think the principal is a good one.
    – Age restrictions. It would be illegal for a minor (I would say 18, but in the US I believe it’s 21, so perhaps specify a certain age rather than just “minor”) to own a gun, or to shoot one unsupervised.

    These would all be Federal law and thus applicable across the whole of the United States. They, I think, are entirely reasonable requests that I cannot see any logical basis for disagreeing with. Do you agree?

  398. rabbitscribe says

    Repeal the second amendment. All right, we don’t actually have a mechanism to strip that sucker out of there, but we can override it with a new amendment.

    This is a distinction without a difference. The text of the 18th Amendment remains in the Constitution, but that doesn’t matter because it’s been repealed.

    Face it, the second amendment stinks: it’s an 18th century relic, it’s ambiguously worded (it’s about militias, people),

    No, it isn’t. Our judiciary interprets the law in light of statute and precedent. In DC v. Heller and McDonald v Chicago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the militia is everybody that can legally own a gun. Just ignore the prefatory “well-regulated militia” clause. Pretend it doesn’t exist. You are now reading the Amendment in a manner consistent with the Court’s ruling, a.k.a the law. You may believe the law should be different, but it is not. The right to own a firearm, including a handgun, for the purpose of self-defense is settled Constitutional law.

    and somehow stupid Americans have it fixed in their brains that the Constitution is sacred magic — all they have to do is shout, “Second amendment!” and we’re supposed to dissolve into accommodating bits of gelatin before them.

    We are supposed to regulate gun ownership through our legislatures. If we believe those regulations are at odds with Constitutional law, we are supposed to sue.

    We can criticize and revise the Constitution, you know; if you revere the Founding Fathers, you should at least still recognize that they thought an informed citizenry was important. You’re supposed to think, not just follow rules.

    Here’s a thought: repealing the Second Amendment would ultimately require ratification by 38 states. The Brady Campaign scores states on gun friendliness. California is most restrictive, at 80 points. There are fifteen states with four or fewer points. Assuming states with fewer than four points won’t ratify, such a Constitutional change would require the assent of three of the following states: Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, the Dakotas, and West Virginia. Repeal isn’t even on the radar screen.

  399. pubdefender says

    @Thumper: Token Breeder

    I’m not sure what you mean by “net risk” exactly, but if you’re asking if I believe that current firearm regulations are too lax, then, no, I do not. I think that there are more than enough regulations in place.

    If you look at the large number of privately owned guns in the U.S., estimated in one survey at 270 million (http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/H-Research_Notes/SAS-Research-Note-9.pdf), and taking into account that the sole practical function of a gun is to injure or kill (i.e., it’s a weapon), it seems to me that the number of gun related deaths and injuries is low*. Automobiles**, alcohol***, and tobacco**** all account for more deaths even though they are designed primarily for other, presumably positive functions (in the case of alcohol and tobacco that’s arguable, but they are not specifically manufactured to injure or kill and consumers dont purchase and use for that reason).

    * http://www.factcheck.org/2012/12/gun-rhetoric-vs-gun-facts/
    ** https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1105.pdf
    *** http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/alcohol.htm
    **** http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/tobacco/statisticssnapshot

  400. scourge99 says

    detail exactly how an uneducated rube with a handgun can defuse a complicated and fast moving scenario he has no training for. Realise that the assailants may be fast and multiple in real life.”

    Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with gun control? Nothing. It has nothing to do with gun control! It does not make sense! Look at me. I’m a commenter I’m talkin’ about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you’re debating is does it make sense? No! It does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, then guns should be banned.

    /red-herring

  401. scourge99 says

    How effective do you think armed citizens are at protecting themselves or others during a crime?

    More effective than unarmed citizens when the assailant is armed with a weapon.

    Oh, and what exactly is an armed citizen supposed to do against a drone strike? The military has a bigger dick than you.

    It seems that a leaderless and independent groups of insurgents did pretty damn well against the most powerful military in the world with nothing more than rifles and homemade bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  402. Scr... Archivist says

    scott @420,

    Do these people really want to go through life always on edge, like they’re on patrol on a war zone?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them think that they are living in such a situation already. It’s sad, really.

  403. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @pubdefender

    I’m not sure what you mean by “net risk” exactly…

    Seriously?

    … but if you’re asking if I believe that current firearm regulations are too lax, then, no, I do not. I think that there are more than enough regulations in place.

    What do you think of my proposed regulations @#422? If you disagree with any, can you explain why?

    If you look at the large number of privately owned guns in the U.S., estimated in one survey at 270 million… and taking into account that the sole practical function of a gun is to injure or kill (i.e., it’s a weapon), it seems to me that the number of gun related deaths and injuries is low*. Automobiles**, alcohol***, and tobacco**** all account for more deaths…

    Hang on; so guns are designed to kills things and do kills things, but not as many as you’d expect, for some reason (what number would you expect, and why?); and besides more people die from smoking, so therefore the US has enough gun regulations? Is that what passes for logic in a courtroom? No wonder the US legal system is fucked.

    How are you “taking into account that the sole practical function of a gun is to injure or kill”, exactly? Is it, perchance, by looking at the figures, going “Oooh-er, that’s quite high”, and then arbitrarily declaring “Well it’s a weapon, what are they expecting!” to make yourself feel better? Because that is somewhat missing the point. The fact that it is designed to kill and performs that function rather well is kind of part of the problem.

  404. says

    #424 pubdefender:

    the number of gun related deaths and injuries is low

    Yeah, so low that the per-annum number of accidental firearm deaths in the US (606 was the figure quoted upthread) is higher than the total number of homicides in England and Wales (552 in 1012/13 according to this source.)

    According to Wikipedia the US firearm death rate is about 40 times as high per 100,000 population as it is in the UK. I’m sure that the sensible gun regulations we have here in Britain have nothing to do with that… </sarcasm>

    Also can I just add… I know it’s OT but this… #345 nullifidian:

    Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread; it has just been assumed.

    Yeah, we’ve assumed it’s a good idea to try to save people’s lives. WTF is this I don’t even?

  405. Anri says

    pubdefender @ 424:

    Automobiles**, alcohol***, and tobacco**** all account for more deaths even though they are designed primarily for other, presumably positive functions (in the case of alcohol and tobacco that’s arguable, but they are not specifically manufactured to injure or kill and consumers dont purchase and use for that reason).

    The next time you are on a crowded street, or in highway traffic, imagine it as a shooting range. Imagine that range extending the length of the highway, in use for as long as the traffic lasts, people shuttling in and out, cutting each other off, some of them playing music or texting while shooting, family groups including kids all there…

    Imagine the carnage.

    We use our cars a lot more than we use guns in our everyday life. Find me a time-weighted survey with injury statistics and we’ll talk about what’s a more dangerous object.

    Feel free to extrapolate for your other items as well.

    Oh… it’s also worth noting that automobiles, alcohol and tobacco are heavily regulated. The latter two are recognized as health risks. Saying “I should be able to ignore speed limits in my car because some other people ride motorcycles and that’s even more dangerous!” isn’t a good argument if you’re over the age of five.

  406. says

    More effective than unarmed citizens when the assailant is armed with a weapon.

    Apparently by shooting more innocent unarmed people*. It’s their own damn fault that they showed up unarmed, they’re practically asking for it

    *I guess folks who aren’t citizens can be shot on sight anyway

  407. Nick Gotts says

    It seems that a leaderless and independent groups of insurgents did pretty damn well against the most powerful military in the world with nothing more than rifles and homemade bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. – scourge99

    In both countries, the regimes installed by the US are still in power, and the numbers killed among both the insurgents, and innocent bystanders, outnumber those killed among the invading forces enormously. This despite the fact that the insurgents had the advantage of knowing the battlefield (in the broadest sense) much better than the invaders, which would not be the case in the absurd hypothetical of resistance to a military regime in the USA; and that many of them were also either trained soldiers (Iraq) or experienced in years of civil war (Afghanistan).

    But even when taking account of all the above, the crass stupidity of gun fanatics, as evidenced in every thread they infest, is the strongest argument against them being able to mount any sort of effective resistance.

  408. Nick Gotts says

    Sorry, I shouldn’t have used the word “infest” in my last sentence of #433; “appear in” would have the same sense, without implying they’re not human.

  409. Nick Gotts says

    Repeal [of the 2nd amendment] isn’t even on the radar screen. – rabbitscribe@423

    Same-sex marriage wasn’t even on the radar scrieen 20 years ago.

  410. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Nick Gotts

    But even when taking account of all the above, the crass stupidity of gun fanatics, as evidenced in every thread they infest, is the strongest argument against them being able to mount any sort of effective resistance.

    PMSL. I now have an excellent idea for a spoof of Red dawn, with Indicus and PubDefender as the ridiculously incompetent Eckert brothers.

  411. says

    PZ Myers (#21) –

    Home break-ins are not that common, home break-ins in which the homeowner is present are even rarer, and home break-ins in which the homeowner dissuades the threat with a gun are ridiculously rare. Meanwhile, homeowners with guns who accidentally shoot themselves or someone else are relatively common.

    From December:

    http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2013/12/daughter-burglar-sneaking-into-house-killed-stepdaughter/

    Man Mistakes Teen Stepdaughter Sneaking Into House For Burglar, Shoots Her Dead

    A 14-year-old Colorado Springs girl was killed as she snuck back into her home early Monday, RadarOnline.com has learned, as her stepfather shot at who he believed was an intruder.

    The stepfather made a call to 911 to report a burglary prior to the incident. KOAA-TV reported that police — who said they believed the shooting to be accidental — found the teen with a wound to her chest in the basement of the home.

    The girl died at a nearby hospital, officials said, after she was rushed there shortly after the 6 a.m. shooting.

    See also, “Ohh, Shoot”, a blog which tracks…’incidents’ involving gun owners.

    http://ohhshoot.blogspot.com/

  412. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @left0ver1under

    Just reading that “Oooh Shoot” blog you linked to.

    “Wyoming does not require residents to obtain a permit before carrying a loaded, concealed gun in public. Police recommend that anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon take a firearm safety course, but the course is not required.”

    Fucking seriously!? And PubDefender thinks “there are more than enough regulations in place”? *rageflail*

  413. stevem says

    pubdefender related a story of the Afghani rebels fending off drone strikes from the most heavily armed nation in the world as some kind of argument for not changing anything about the existing gun laws in America. I am disappoint ;-( that he did not go way back to 1776 to remind us of how a rag-tag group of farmers with simple muskets defeated the strongest army in the world at the time (The Colonies vs the RedCoats) and that’s why the 2nd Amendment was appended to the “Holy” Constitution, that individuals with their own guns, organized into militias, is *necessary* to defeat a tyrannical government.

  414. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Legislator who wants to put guns in schools shot wrong person during “active shooter” training

    Arkansas state Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, of Benton, Arkansas, wants to make it easy for schools to arm teachers or other school personnel. He sits on a legislative committee that is examining the Arkansas law regarding guns in schools. The committee is looking at the laws after the Clarksville school district was thwarted in their attempt to arm two dozen of its teachers and staff members.
    After the Sandy Hook shooting, Hutchinson was approached by his local police chief. The Chief had concerns about arming school personnel. His biggest concern was how would police tell the difference between a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun. So, he set up an “active shooter” training simulation using rubber bullets and invited Hutchinson to participate.
    “There was what appeared to be a bad guy in the hallway, shooting into the classroom,” said Hutchinson. “And so, just instinctively, I shot. And then I turned the corner and see that the bad guy that I had just shot was actually shooting with another bad guy, which kind of blew my mind for a second.”
    Afterwards, the police informed Hutchinson that he had shot a “teacher.”
    Despite his experience, Hutchinson wants to “leave it to the school districts to design their best security plans.” Even if that includes arming teachers.

    http://ohhshoot.blogspot.nl/2013/08/legislator-who-wants-to-put-guns-in.html

  415. says

    And extremely counterproductive to those of us who care about issues that affect many more people more profoundly…

    So…people who live in violence-plagued communities, and people who have had loved ones shot dead for no good reason, aren’t affected as profoundly as you are?

    BTW, Gingerbaker, both of those quotes you cited (those really vague and unspecific quotes) earlier support my argument: the second quote admits that people have a right to bear arms for LAWFUL purposes (of which only ONE was mentioned); which means that the possession, carrying, trade and use of such arms can indeed by circumscribed by law. And neither of them even mentions the limiting language in the first half of the Second Amendment. You can argue about what a phrase in the Constitution means, but you can’t just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t matter.

  416. says

    Arkansas state Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, of Benton, Arkansas, wants to make it easy for schools to arm teachers or other school personnel.

    Why not have armed COPS in the schools, so the teachers can stick to doing what they’re there to do in the first place?

    Oh wait, that means raising taxes to pay for the cops — that’s even more anathema to the right-wingers than gun control. Never mind…wouldn’t want to energize the wingnuts by saying non-wingnutty things, would we?

  417. says

    PZ, imo, really blew it here when he said he wasn’t even interested in hearing the opinions of people who have a different appreciation of guns. That’s just deplorable.

    Not nearly as deplorable as the opinions he’s blowing off. If you can’t even see that, then you really don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Seriously, take your tone-policing to the other side — they’ve been energizing the rubes with deplorable bigoted shit long before PZ started being a meanie.

  418. says

    More effective than unarmed citizens when the assailant is armed with a weapon.

    Excuse me while I belabor the obvious: no matter how well-armed you are, you won’t know who the assailant actually is until he’s drawn his weapon; and then it’s too late because he’s already got the drop on you. (And why the fuck are you continuing to use the singular here? Haven’t you ever heard of these things called “gangs?”)

  419. vaiyt says

    More effective than unarmed citizens when the assailant is armed with a weapon.

    “The assailant” is often an armed citizen.

  420. says

    pubdefender:

    I think that there are more than enough regulations in place.

    Then you’re a bigger fool than I thought.
    You’re satisfied with the status quo.
    You’re satisfied with the number of people who are murdered by firearms.
    You’re satisfied with firearm related suicides.
    You’re satisfied with the accidental shootings.

    The whole point to the OP is what can be done to reduce the number of gun related injuries and fatalities, and you’re saying that there are enough regulations.

    Fuck you.

  421. says

    …detail exactly how an uneducated rube with a handgun can defuse a complicated and fast moving scenario he has no training for. Realise that the assailants may be fast and multiple in real life…

    The fact that scourge99 called this scenario a “red herring” proves he’s a complete fucking idiot who can’t handle reality.

    BTW, the last time I heard of someone “defusing a complicated and fast moving scenario he/she has no training for,” was when an UNARMED woman TALKED a shooter into giving up. I get a feeling she would not have been as effective if she had tried to shoot the guy instead.

  422. says

    scourge99:
    What was the point of your red herring @425?
    You didn’t respond to the points you quoted. Here, try again:

    detail exactly how an uneducated rube with a handgun can defuse a complicated and fast moving scenario he has no training for. Realise that the assailants may be fast and multiple in real life.

    Average citizens with guns are not going to have the training that police officers have. Police officers make mistakes even *with* extensive training. The average citizen is going to be more prone to mistakes than police officers. Take the Aurora shooting. How is the average citizen going to be able to take aim, in the dark, amidst screaming and chaos, and take down the shooter (who was wearing quite a bit of protection)? Where’s the training necessary to make that shot?
    This isn’t the fucking movies.

  423. says

    I am disappoint ;-( that he did not go way back to 1776 to remind us of how a rag-tag group of farmers with simple muskets defeated the strongest army in the world at the time (The Colonies vs the RedCoats)…

    That was accomplished by an army organized by colonial governments, not by undisciplined wankers running around with guns. And let’s face the facts here — they didn’t win by superior firepower, they won because the British just didn’t have the political will to keep on fighting a guerilla war for control of mostly trackless wilderness they didn’t even know that well.

  424. says

    The average citizen is going to be more prone to mistakes than police officers.

    And probably more prone to dishonesty, bigotry and corruption than police officers too. Cops aren’t the only people who can be corrupted.

  425. says

    scourge99 @426:

    More effective than unarmed citizens when the assailant is armed with a weapon

    I’m sure you have some evidence you can cite for this. Guns are not magic you fool.

    It seems that a leaderless and independent groups of insurgents did pretty damn well against the most powerful military in the world with nothing more than rifles and homemade bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    You think the small percentage of Americans who are irrationally fearful of the US government stand a chance against said government in any kind of a fight? You’re not just a fool, you’re a delusional fool.

  426. says

    Raging Bee #452
    And also major worries that they would need those soldiers closer to home, because war with France was imminent. (During the 1700s, war with France was always imminent, unless is was occurring); the fact that the French were heavily subsidizing the revolutionaries did not help with the suspicion on Britain’s part that the French were trying to distract them in preparation for a war.

  427. says

    Thumper:

    Police recommend that anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon take a firearm safety course, but the course is not required.

    That recommendation is laughable. *A* firearm safety course? They need multiple courses.

  428. pubdefender says

    @Thumper: Token Breeder

    In regards to your suggested regulations in #422:

    Background checks: I agree with standardised licensing throughout the country, but don’t believe that a medical check should be necessary. If you mean a background check that included any records regarding mental health issues then I certainly see that as important and appropriate. However, I don’t believe that a person should be required to get a physcial or psychological exam prior to purchasing a firearm, only that if there is an already documented history of psychological problems or involuntary commitments, then that should be available to the seller conducting the background check. Consequently, there would need to be put in place some sort of standardized data base that can be checked against.

    Only federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) can sell weapons; that is already in place in the U.S. as you note. In the state in which I live and practice there is no gun show or private party loophole; if I wish to purchase a gun from a private party then the transaction has to take place through an FFL. If, however, both I and the other private party wish to ignore the law, then the government has no information regarding the transfer. So the requirement, and it’s an appropriate one in my opinion, can be avoided if I and the other party are willing to break the law. How would you suggest the law be changed so as to prevent people from breaking the law?

    I believe persons, legally allowed to own a firearm, should be allowed to carry the firearm concealed upon their person if they have taken the requisite training which I think should be standardized.

    Secure storage of firearms and ammunition are appropriate and in my state there are penalties if a firearm is not appropriately stored and is accessible to children.

    Your age restriction suggestion also seems appropriate.

    As to #428

    My point about guns was a simple one: guns, of which there are quite a lot of in the U.S., result in relatively low numbers of injury and death when compared with the hundreds of millions of them available; and relatively low numbers of injury and death when compared with other products which are designed for other purposes than injury or death.

    My comparisons between guns and tobacco was not the one you used, i.e., that more people die from smoking therefore there are enough gun regulations. Comparing one thing to another in one characteristic is not the same thing as equivalency across all characteristics. Guns are weapons and tobacco, automobiles, and alcohol are not, yet the plethora of weapons available account for fewer injuries or deaths annually. That’s all I was saying. (And I doubt my small contributions to the U.S. criminal justice system account for the whole system being fucked up. I may be wrong from time to time but my academic and professional training is certainly adequate to do the work I do and to discuss this emotional subject without resorting to insults and ad hominems.)

    Violence is to be avoided and there is no “acceptable” number of deaths from firearms but, again, I believe that there are plenty of firearm regulations already in place addressing the concerns of all of us who wish to reduce violence. The active enforcement of those regulations should reduce the number even further. And, yes, there are plenty of stupid laws in place, too.

    @Anri

    Regarding “imagining the carnage”: if I understand your analogy correctly you are comparing “use” of automobiles with “use” of firearms as being a comparison between actively driving a car and actively firing a gun. In a time-weighted survey of injuries resulting I would agree with you. However, I don’t believe that your analogy is a fair one. I think the fairer comparison would be comparing actively driving with actively “carrying” a firearm.

    I believe that the likelihood that any armed individual would actually need to draw, exhibit, or use his firearm is small (and certainly variable, dependant on a number of other factors, but overall), nevertheless for many, perhaps most of the people who carry guns on their person, the appropriate analogy would be that they always put their seatbelt on when they drive and not just when they think that they may get into an accident. For them, it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  429. says

    Jackie:

    How many more have to die before it’s enough?

    Too many have already died, IMO. It’s well past *enough*.
    The gun nuts in this thread (Christopher, Indicus, scourge99, etc) are only concerned with their right to have a gun. They’re not concerned with the right of *everyone else* to not live in a society with such high levels of gun violence. It’s fucking selfish and deplorable.

  430. says

    pubdefender:

    If you mean a background check that included any records regarding mental health issues then I certainly see that as important and appropriate. However, I don’t believe that a person should be required to get a physcial or psychological exam prior to purchasing a firearm, only that if there is an already documented history of psychological problems or involuntary commitments, then that should be available to the seller conducting the background check. Consequently, there would need to be put in place some sort of standardized data base that can be checked against.

    So if you don’t have a history of psychological problems, you shouldn’t have to take a mental health test to obtain a killing weapon?

    8. Psychological Evaluation

    Candidates who pass the written examination are required to take the MMPI-2, which is a computer administered, true-false personality inventory. They are then required to have a one hour psychological evaluation with a State of Pennsylvania licensed psychologist

    http://www.phillypolice.com/careers/hiring-process

    Police officers have to be psychologically evaluated, and they *need* a gun in their line of work.

    It is reasonable to ask any potential handgun owner to submit to screening procedures when applying for a gun purchase. Quickly administering a psychological test could detect signs of impulsivity and aggressiveness as well as warning signs of homicidal or suicidal impulses.
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=93178

    A psychological evaluation should be mandatory for the above reasons. Responsible gun owners should embrace such mandatory screening.

  431. says

    pubdefender:

    My point about guns was a simple one: guns, of which there are quite a lot of in the U.S., result in relatively low numbers of injury and death when compared with the hundreds of millions of them available; and relatively low numbers of injury and death when compared with other products which are designed for other purposes than injury or death.

    Stop being dishonest. We’re not comparing the rate of death from firearms to auto accidents or tobacco. The US has a problem with gun violence. The question is what steps should be taken to reduce that problem?

    How Prevalent is Gun Violence in America?

    According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 467,321 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm in 2011.[1] In the same year, data collected by the FBI show that firearms were used in 68 percent of murders, 41 percent of robbery offenses and 21 percent of aggravated assaults nationwide.[2]

    Most homicides in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns.[3]

    Homicides committed with firearms peaked in 1993 at 17,075, after which the figure steadily fell, reaching a low of 10,117 in 1999. Gun-related homicides increased slightly after that, to a high of 11,547 in 2006, before falling again to 10,869 in 2008.[4]

    http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/pages/welcome.aspx

    If you care at all about public safety, these numbers should concern you.
    They concern me. I’d like to see the number of gun related homicides drop *dramatically*.
    Of course, given what you’ve said, these numbers “aren’t all that high”, which says you’re not concerned. People are dying, but I guess not enough for you.
    How many people have to die before you’ll back stronger gun control policies?
    Why do you not care about all the lives lost due to gun violence?
    Why don’t you support efforts to ensure greater safety for the public?

  432. vaiyt says

    There’s one small, trivial problem with the “more people with guns” solution to shooting incidents. It assumes all those extra people with guns would never start a shooting themselves.

  433. rabbitscribe says

    (Nick Gotts) “Same-sex marriage wasn’t even on the radar screen 20 years ago.”

    I expect that the Supreme Court will rule that all states must allow gay marriage, or at a minimum, require all states to recognize any such marriage validly performed in a state where that is legal. But if I am wrong, then a Constitutional Amendment, which is what’s under discussion is… not even on the radar screen. Even if we only let the 81% of voters under thirty who are in favor of gay marriage vote, 38 states would not ratify.

    (Tony) “They’re not concerned with the right of *everyone else* to not live in a society with such high levels of gun violence.”

    “Everyone” has no such right. But rather than quarrel about that, let’s simply stipulate that the world is exactly the same as it would be if no such right existed. Rights not enforced by the state are functionally identical to non-rights in every respect.

  434. nullifidian says

    Crip Dyke @ #354:

    Yes. It is a separate issue. Yes. It has not been addressed in this thread.

    Because this thread is not about the ethics of suicide intervention. This thread is about the ethics of guns.

    From the rules:

    VI. Courtesies:

    3. Stay on topic, unless it’s an obvious “fun” thread. If you have something off topic that you must share, the Thunderdome thread is always appropriate.

    If you want to debate the ethics of suicide intervention, take it to TD or wait until that issue is raised in a post by PZ. Otherwise, not only stay on topic, but please don’t chide others for staying on topic.

    Seriously.

    This is such a ridiculous response that I will do you the credit of assuming that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. If the conversation is not allowed to drift beyond the parameters laid down by PZ’s original post, then not only is this a cult-like obeisance to received wisdom, but it also means that the entire suicide discussion was off-topic because PZ never addressed why we should be taking his half-dozen bullet points as the starting place for a conversation at all; it was just assumed that this was the correct place to start. So if you want to start telling someone off for being off topic, it should be Rob Grigjanis and doublereed for getting the whole firearms-are-used-for-suicides ball rolling in the first place. I won’t be, because that was a perfectly legitimate point and obviously related to the topic of the post. But by the same token, an obviously related rejoinder to this point is to question whether we should be trying to reduce the number of suicides, because if there isn’t a good reason to be doing that then kvetching over the use of firearms for suicide obviously loses much of its force. You can’t admit the one point as worthy of discussion and then close off the question from scrutiny by shouting “OFF-TOPIC!” without engaging in special pleading. It’s either both or none.

    And what I was chiding Raging Bee for wasn’t that he or she was remaining on topic, but that he or she was claiming a subject had already been addressed when it hadn’t, and by selectively quoting from the person in order to not show the point raised by abewoelk that you yourself admitted hasn’t been addressed. Frankly, if nobody wants to address the point that abewoelk raised, I don’t really care—it’s their choice. However, I do think it’s wrong to call someone a “fucking idiot” and claim that the subject has been addressed when it hasn’t, when careful reading of the post and a bit of reasoning would reveal another subject was being raised.

  435. nullifidian says

    call me mark @ #429

    Yeah, we’ve assumed it’s a good idea to try to save people’s lives. WTF is this I don’t even?

    The point is that this assumption is not universally accepted and should be defended. What I had in mind is that it’s especially difficult issue here at Pharyngula, because I would be willing to bet that most people here don’t have a problem with assisted suicide based on the principles of choice and personal autonomy (a position I happen to agree with). But then you can’t automatically assume that people choosing to use firearms to take their own life is something that ought to be stopped. Indeed, an argument can be made that if you remove all the effective ways of committing suicide from people, they won’t be less suicidal, but they’re simply use ways that are less effective. But less effective doesn’t necessarily mean less damaging in the long term: plenty of suicide methods exist that are bad for killing yourself, but do pose a severe risk of injury and disfigurement. Pills can destroy livers and kidneys, cutting wrists can damage tendons, etc. So the solution is either to set it up so that effective means of suicide can be provided to people who want it, so they don’t have to use their guns, or leave them with their guns so that they can end their lives on their own terms—assuming, of course, that you don’t take the absolutist view that suicide is always wrong and must be stopped by any means.

  436. says

    rabbitscribe:

    “Everyone” has no such right. But rather than quarrel about that, let’s simply stipulate that the world is exactly the same as it would be if no such right existed. Rights not enforced by the state are functionally identical to non-rights in every respect

    I disagree. We all have the right to life.
    Though not legally binding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person

    Given the high levels of gun violence in the US, the right to life, liberty, and security of person that Americans possess is threatened.

  437. says

    nullifidian:

    So if you want to start telling someone off for being off topic, it should be Rob Grigjanis and doublereed for getting the whole firearms-are-used-for-suicides ball rolling in the first place.

    In a discussion about reasonable gun control laws, that is on topic.
    You said:

    Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread; it has just been assumed.

    Attempting to save people from themselves *IS* a separate topic from what is being discussed in this thread.

  438. says

    Tony!
    Actually it is legally binding, just not enforced. The U.S. is a signatory, treaties to which the U.S. is signatory have the same legal weight as the Constitution, per that document.

  439. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Tony:

    May have been me back in 409 as I brought up the link between completed suicides and fire arm ownership percentages. Sorry.

  440. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    abewoelk @226:

    I don’t understand why suicide is relevant to this discussion. If someone wants to commit suicide, whether anyone else agrees with their reasons or not, it’s their choice.

    raging bee @238:

    That’s because you’re a fucking idiot, and you haven’t read what has actually been said about suicide here.

    nullifidian, @345

    Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread; it has just been assumed.

    The topic of this post is about guns and their harmful effects. Numerous people have written about how guns lead to more suicide deaths even when attempts and ideation remain stable.

    So when abewoelk says “I don’t know why suicide is relevant, it’s a choice, dummies!” and raging bee responds, “read the thread” b/c the thread is about guns and the suicide discussion has revolved around, you guessed it, guns, this is analogous to:

    OP: Poor animal care in zoos does damage

    comment 1: it actually turns the beautiful plumage of the red macaw a dull grey!
    comment 2: and elephants get foot diseases that don’t happen in the wild, including much greater rate of stress fractures!
    abewoelk: I don’t know why we’re talking about elephants: you can’t turn an animal grey if they are grey already!
    raging bee: read the thread you fucking idiot.

    It wasn’t suicide per se that was relevant. It was gun death. abewoelk’s non-sequitur was called out and the obvious relevance of suicide was mentioned as already contained within previous comments.

    Then you come along and say,

    If the conversation is not allowed to drift beyond the parameters laid down by PZ’s original post, then not only is this a cult-like obeisance to received wisdom, but it also means that the entire suicide discussion was off-topic because PZ never addressed why we should be taking his half-dozen bullet points as the starting place for a conversation at all; it was just assumed that this was the correct place to start.

    bwahahaha!
    You noticed the title of the OP, right?

    PZ doesn’t need to tell us WHY he wants a conversation about guns. It’s his blog. He’s declared this a conversation about guns and his OP as a place to start. Don’t like it? Comment somewhere else.

    Suicide per se is off topic, but guns are not. So long as people are talking about guns – even guns used in suicide – it’s on topic. Otherwise, somewhere in the main post there would be a bit about, “Except suicide, that should never be part of the discussion even when focussed on gun-related suicides.” It’s really not hard to figure out this language stuff if you’ve been raised with it. People say things. If you don’t know what it means, you ask someone or you look it up. When people don’t say things, that means that they haven’t said those things.

    to refocus:

    a cult-like obeisance to received wisdom,

    “You get to say whatever you want, but this space is for this conversation, other conversations have free rein in this other space” is cult-like obeisance to received wisdom?

    Let me guess: you’re the cult-leader, aren’t you, because cults don’t work like that if you’re not the cult leader.

    So if you want to start telling someone off for being off topic, it should be Rob Grigjanis and doublereed for getting the whole firearms-are-used-for-suicides ball rolling in the first place. I won’t be, because that was a perfectly legitimate point and obviously related to the topic of the post.

    Um, I should be telling off someone for being off-topic because they weren’t off-topic?

    Incoherence: you’re doing it monkey.

    But by the same token, an obviously related rejoinder to this point is to question whether we should be trying to reduce the number of suicides, because if there isn’t a good reason to be doing that then kvetching over the use of firearms for suicide obviously loses much of its force.

    A rejoinder obviously not related to the OP but obviously related to something related to the OP is called a tangent.

    These are welcome. They are welcome in the ThunderDome.

    But wait, are you saying that this discussion belongs here?

    Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread;

    ooops. Nope. You agree with me that it’s off-topic.

    You know what else could undermine the equation fewer deaths = good? If more deaths was good. That’s the obvious rejoinder, not “hmm, the ethics of suicide prevention are complicated and unknown to me, but certainly interesting in this context.”

    And death = good is conversation welcome in TD. But it also isn’t the topic of this discussion.

    So when you agree with me that what is on topic is on topic and what is off topic is off topic, then why are you disagreeing with me that off topic conversations should be part of TD and not the current thread?

    Are you secretly PZ’s sock puppet? Did you write his rules for him and are now frustrated at their application to you?

    What?

    We agree on what’s on topic and off. We agree that you can freely discuss both gun-harm and the ethics of suicide prevention. And yet my response was ridiculous?

    Could it be that you are confusing the word “ridiculous” with the word “ridiculing”?

  441. rabbitscribe says

    (Tony)<‘I disagree. We all have the right to life. Though not legally binding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person

    Given the high levels of gun violence in the US, the right to life, liberty, and security of person that Americans possess is threatened.”

    (Dalillama) “Tony! Actually it is legally binding, just not enforced. The U.S. is a signatory, treaties to which the U.S. is signatory have the same legal weight as the Constitution, per that document.”

    That would be true if the United States were a UN member and signatory to the Treaty. But legally the US ceased to exist with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 Sovereign Citizen on the Land Natural Law Our One True Supreme Court Received for Value Ecclesiastical Conveyance Moorish Science.

    A right is a creature of the law. You really only have two choices: you may choose to believe that the law is what courts do, or that it is what you believe courts should do. Do I think that the sort of chowderhead who uses a loaded rifle as a crutch to get up off a couch should have the right to possess a gun in a shared household? I do not. But does he, in fact, have that right? I would argue that the way to determine that is to wait until someone winds up in the emergency room after trying to clean out earwax with a meat thermometer. Then sue for injunctive relief and ask that he be required to disarm himself. I prophesy failure.

    I note in passing that there’s a very prevalent idea here that a right has some Platonic, metaphysical existence apart from what the state enforces. The law might somehow “really” be different than what the courts do. In a materialist-leaning community like FTB, that is passing strange.

  442. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @rabbitscribe:

    Yeah, I too struggle with rights rhetoric. Clearly when some say, “We have the right to marry whom we will, regardless of gender,” they don’t mean that they have the legal right. They are calling attention to the lack of a legal right.

    But what is it if not a legal right? Well, the theists can claim a right-in-god, but what do we, here, claim? It’s a good question.

    One that vexes me more since taking some philosophy a few years ago, and even more yet since starting law school:

    Why do people conflate “freedom to do X” with “right to do X”?

    A right does not exist without an obligation. It must be ensured. A freedom is a do-it-if-you-can,-but-we-have-no-role-to-play.

  443. says

    rabbitscribe

    But legally the US ceased to exist with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 Sovereign Citizen on the Land Natural Law Our One True Supreme Court Received for Value Ecclesiastical Conveyance Moorish Science.

    You are a gibbering fool who has no conception of anything relating to law or economics. You are a complete ignoramus, and a conspiracy theorist to boot. Continuing to talk at this point can really only make you look worse.

  444. rabbitscribe says

    “You are a gibbering fool yada-yada-yada.”

    You’re the one with a view of rights that is shared by no judges. Alaskans claim virtually unfettered gun rights. Someone could buy 1,000 assault rifles and a million rounds and stand on a streetcorner handing them out to adults, first come first served. Surely that violates the “right of *everyone else* to not live in a society with such high levels of gun violence.” But no judges, state or federal, will lift a finger to stop it.

  445. rabbitscribe says

    (Crip Dyke) “But what is it if not a legal right? Well, the theists can claim a right-in-god, but what do we, here, claim? It’s a good question. “

    It is my contention that we can claim nothing. Nigerians and Californians should have the right to marry whomever they like, same or opposite sex. Californians do and Nigerians do not. The Mississippi moron who just blew his balls off driving roofing nails with a loaded .45 should not have the right to keep the pistol. But he does. The alternative is to say with PZ (who I expect would retract or at least expand the contention if he read Heller) that the Supreme Court is wrong about what the Second Amendment means. That’s entirely unhelpful.

  446. David Marjanović says

    nullifidian in comment 345:

    Whether guns contribute to successful suicide attempts is a separate issue from whether we should be trying to save people from themselves in the first place, and that has not been addressed in this thread; it has just been assumed.

    Not true. I addressed it back in comment 243.

  447. David Marjanović says

    That was accomplished by an army organized by colonial governments, not by undisciplined wankers running around with guns. And let’s face the facts here — they didn’t win by superior firepower, they won because the British just didn’t have the political will to keep on fighting a guerilla war for control of mostly trackless wilderness they didn’t even know that well.

    Also, don’t forget France (willing to do anything to annoy the British)… and Poland.

    FFS, there are Americans running around who have Lafayette as their first name!

    And there’s Pulaski Day… it’s not a coincidence that in Warsaw there’s a monument to Jerzy Waszyngton.

  448. Al Dente says

    One of the causes of the French revolution was the French government had got deeply in debt supporting the American revolution. Louis XVI called the Estates General to deal with the financial crisis which threatened his government.

  449. says

    I would be willing to bet that most people here don’t have a problem with assisted suicide based on the principles of choice and personal autonomy (a position I happen to agree with). But then you can’t automatically assume that people choosing to use firearms to take their own life is something that ought to be stopped.

    You actually think we have to treat assisted suicide — a carefully deliberated process involving discussions among several parties over a period of time — the same as impulsive suicide resulting from someone feeling really bad and seeing a gun handy at a particular instant? That’s just plain fucking stupid — the two are nowhere near similar enough to be treated identically. Please stop saying such lazy stupid uncaring shit about an important issue.

  450. says

    But then you can’t automatically assume that people choosing to use firearms to take their own life is something that ought to be stopped.

    You’re a fucking monster

  451. says

    The Mississippi moron who just blew his balls off driving roofing nails with a loaded .45 should not have the right to keep the pistol. But he does.

    According to what law? The Constitution does not give anyone that right — read the ENTIRE Second Amendment, not just the last half of the sentence. A moron misusing a gun is not something we can call a “well-regulated militia,” nor does said moron do anything for “the security of a free State.”

  452. says

    But then you can’t automatically assume that people choosing to use firearms to take their own life is something that ought to be stopped.

    No, we can’t “assume” that, we CONCLUDE it, based on observation and reasoning. Stop misusing the word “assume,” you lying putz.

  453. says

    rabbitscribe
    Excellent job of completely missing the fucking point, dipshit. The fact that you take that sovereign citizen bullshit seriously shows that you haven’t the first fucking clue about how much of anything works, and makes it very easy to understand why you are so completely unable to understand the conversation here that you appear to believe you’re arguing against the prevailing outlook in these parts while restating it. Really, you should leave until you have the beginning of a clue.

    Christ, what an asshole.

  454. says

    Okay, I’m only 150 comments in but I got to say:
    By and large, people that own guns for “self defense” are some of the biggest fucking cowards out there. Yeah, I’m talking about those big, strong men who are so concerned about protecting their wife from the stranger rapist. *eyeroll*

    (Has anyone mentioned that a woman is FAR more likely to be raped by her partner than some random dude breaking into her house?)

    Listen, twerps: I live in the city with the highest crime rate in my state. I live in an apartment downtown (in a high crime neighborhood) and I do not have off-street parking. I own no guns and I am not afraid. My secret? I don’t fuck with the drug dealers or gangs. They’re not interested in me because I’m not a threat. Easy peasy.

    PZ is right: home break-ins (especially random home break-ins) are vanishingly rare. Without a gun in the home, there’s nothing worth stealing. The resale value of my tv or my computer? Next to nothing. It’s not worth the risk.

    I won’t lie, there are random muggings. I know someone who was mugged last summer while he was walking home from work. You know what, though? His stuff (they took his iPhone and his wallet) wasn’t worth taking someone’s life. Even though he did sustain some minor injuries (he was hit in the head and suffered a concussion) he is as anti-gun now as he was before the incident.

    I can’t even express how vile I find people that would defend their stuff to the death. If you’re that worried about it, buy some fucking homeowner’s insurance and make sure you have all of the appropriate riders for your extra-fancy crown jewels or whateverthefuck everyone’s after.

  455. says

    Thumper: Token Breeder (#443) –

    That website is a fucking liturgy of stupidity, tragedy, injury and death. […] All gun nuts need to read that site. If they still don’t support regulation then it’s a clear sign that they are a callous fucking idiot.

    Unfortunately as with the hard core religious, the ignorant believe and repeat the lies and fictions and would never make the effort to look for or learn the facts on their own. I posted it for enlightened people like yourself to use as ammuni…uh, examples when arguing with gun nuts.

  456. vaiyt says

    A sovereign fucking citizen trying to lecture people on the nature of law! This is comedy gold!

    @Alexandra

    I live in the city with the highest crime rate in my state.

    I live in one of the cities with the highest murder rates in the world. Most victims are young, black, from poor neighborhoods – exactly the kind of people our typical gun nuts (they’re rare but they exist) think they need guns to protect themselves from.

  457. rabbitscribe says

    (Raging Bee) “According to what law? The Constitution does not give anyone that right — read the ENTIRE Second Amendment, not just the last half of the sentence. A moron misusing a gun is not something we can call a “well-regulated militia,” nor does said moron do anything for “the security of a free State.”

    Well, in America there are three possibilities: legislative law (US Congress or its state kid sisters), administrative law (FAA, IRS etc.) or… drumroll please… case law (judicial rulings). There’s the huckleberry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_vs._Heller

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald_v._Chicago

    Those are two very recent landmark Supreme Court of the United States gun control decisions. Rather than reading the Second Amendment and trying to interpret it for myself, I’m better off reading the Court’s interpretation of the Amendment- otherwise, what the hell am I paying it for? Interpreting the law is its job, not mine. Also, every lower court defers to the Supreme Court, not to me or you or PZ.

    So, as it turns out, the Court says that the prefatory “well-regulated militia” clause doesn’t mean anything: the militia is everyone who can legally possess a firearm. If you don’t trust me, read the Wiki. If you don’t trust it, it links the decisions. Are you a felon, a certified lunatic, or a twelve-year-old? No? Welcome to your state’s militia!

    Since my sense of humor seems to leave everybody cold, I’ll preface this by stating that the following is, of course, ridiculous and would never happen. HOWEVER: If the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Second Amendment establishes Old Church Slavonic as our national language, then that’s what the Amendment would mean. Your interpretation of “militia,” “security,” or “keep and bear arms” wouldn’t mean no never-mind, nor would mine. The judiciary interprets the law. I suppose it’s possible that in some metaphysical sense the Court could be “wrong.” But for all practical purposes, it can’t be, because lower courts and law enforcement officers treat it as omniscient.

  458. rabbitscribe says

    (Dalillama) Excellent job of completely missing the fucking point, dipshit. The fact that you take that sovereign citizen bullshit seriously…

    First, PZ said that of the Second Amendment:

    “(it’s about militias, people)”

    Then Tony! referred to

    … “the right of *everyone else* to not live in a society with such high levels of gun violence.”

    and you concurred, stating that that right is “legally binding” under an international treaty.

    A lot of different people seem to have a lot of different opinions about what the law IS. I tried to make that point by stringing together a bunch of tax protester buzz-words. I assumed that because it was unparsable word soup my sarcasm would be obvious (I’m right because reasons! I’m right because Jesus!). It seems it wasn’t.

    I am not a tax protestor or a Sovereign Citizen. My Honda Civic is not a Ecclesiastical Conveyance, and Moorish Science is neither Moorish nor science. That’s absurd. But you know what else is absurd? The contention that the Second Amendment is about militias, or that we have a right to live in a society without such high levels of gun violence. Five years ago, it was possible that the Second Amendment might have been about militias. Fun fact: until the SCOTUS ruling, the NRA HATED the Heller case and fell all over itself trying to persuade the plaintiffs and their lawyer to drop it. They were very much afraid that the Court would interpret the Second Amendment as PZ did. But the Court didn’t. So now, as it turns out, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with state militias. You may disagree, just like nuts disagree with the fact that they have to pay income taxes or go to jail. However, since no judge (not “only 1% of judges,” not “only four or five judges,” but “no judge”) agrees, the point is moot.

    “The right to live in a society without such high levels of gun violence?” What does that even mean? Do we have a right to a society with forty fewer gun homicides per year? Or a right to a society with none? Since this right is not recognized by the law, what is it? Where does it live? Do we reach a point where it gets fed up with the carnage, descends from Heaven, and enforces itself? How is it any different than a Sovereign Citizen’s “right” to make her own license plates with a Sharpie?

    I have thus far kept my opinion about what gun rights should be to myself because people seem so woefully ignorant about what gun rights, in fact, are. I will now give you the barest hint of a clue as to my personal feelings: my opinion about what they should be is colored by the fact that a mature and responsible person, someone I respect and admire, once accidentally shot his mother in the face with a .22. Draw your own conclusions.

    But my opinion, your opinion, and the opinion of the nut screaming about the fringe on the flag in tax court is irrelevant. Heller and McDonald establish the right to own a firearm, including a handgun, as settled Constitutional law.

  459. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Pubdefender #458

    I did mean mental health, yes. Here in the UK, part of the requirement of getting a license is giving permission for the police to talk to your GP (general practitioner; I’m unaware if you use the same terminology in the US), who will be asked if they know of any medical reason that may result in you posing any danger to yourself or others. I had something similar to that in mind.

    In the state you live in there are no private party or gun show loopholes, which is good, but they exist in multiple states. In Florida, for example, it’s perfectly legal to sell your gun in a private transaction with another individual without keeping any documentation whatsoever. I would like to see a federal law put in place which shuts those loopholes across the country. As for stopping people breaking that law, you would have to attach very severe penalties to the unlicensed possession of a firearm and to the possession of an unregistered firearm. Again these laws exist in the UK and work very well, so I see no reason they would not work in the US providing the regulations were properly enforced. Ditto with secure storage, which again varies from state to state, and some states are certainly far too lax about it.

    The only point in which we seem to be in opposition is on the matter of concealed carry for self-defence purposes. I certainly see no need for it, but I would be willing to accept improvements in the form of proper licensing and mandatory, standardised safety courses in order to obtain such a license. I don’t think it goes far enough, but it’s certainly better than the current situation and I recognise that cultural differences are going to play a part here.

    Regarding your comparison to tobacco, alcohol and automobiles; I think you have to take into account the relative numbers of drivers, smokers and drinkers to the number of gun owners, and the relative lethality of those things compared to guns. I don’t think it’s an appropriate comparison.

    I’m not suggesting the legal system is fucked because of you, and I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on your ability to do your job; though on re-reading that comment I can see that that’s exactl what I did, so I apologise for that. I do feel the need to point out though, because the misuse of the phrase is a pet hate of mine, that it’s not an ad hominem; but it was certainly unnecessarily insulting, so my apologies.

  460. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @PubDefender

    One last point re. public carry; I would like to see a law stating that you have to use a proper holster. Too many of the stories on the “Ohh shoot!” blog linked to above involve people simply having a handgun in their pocket or handbag, and said handgun falling out and going off. I think improperly carrying a firearm should have similar penalties to improperly storing one.

  461. consciousness razor says

    rabbitscribe:

    Heller and McDonald establish the right to own a firearm, including a handgun, as settled Constitutional law.

    The supreme court doesn’t “settle” the Constitution, once and for all.* Their rulings can obviously be overturned. Even amendments to the constitution, which indeed constitute the constitution itself and far outweigh any such ruling/interpretation, have already been reversed. Odd, that in all your legal quibbling you would fail to mention that. You make it seem as if that’s either not possible, or that our “rights” extend only as far as whatever our current laws (and their interpretations) happen to be. If the latter, would you say that, for example, at one time slaves had no legal right to be free? I think it’s utterly absurd to say they had no such right. So if you think you know so much about what a “right” is, you should try to clarify what the hell you think you’re talking about.

    *I assume “settled” actually means settled to you, not “left unresolved at least for a while.”

  462. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @CR

    If the latter, would you say that, for example, at one time slaves had no legal right to be free? I think it’s utterly absurd to say they had no such right.

    I’m confused by this. They didn’t have the legal right to be free. They were legally someone’s property. That’s kind of the issue with slavery.

    I think you need to make a distinction between moral rights and legal rights. Slaves certainly had the moral right to be free; i.e. it was immoral to deny them that right. But they did not have the legal right. The problem, of course, is that moral rights are rather subjective. I would say gay people have the moral right to marry, but a lot of people would disagree with me. Some people would say you have the moral right to carry a handgun in public, I would disagree with them. But you can’t really argue that in many states gay people do not have the legal right to marry, and in many states people do have the legal right to cart a pistol about in public, because those are simply facts.

  463. pubdefender says

    @Thumper: Token Breeder #490, 491

    Thanks, I appreciate your reply and apology.

    Just a side note regarding penalties for law violations (and again, this is purely anecdotal but draws upon my experience with a couple of hundred clients each year): for most of my clients it doesn’t matter one whit how severe the penalty may be for any specific law violation until they are in custody; it plays no role whatsoever in their consideration or planning before they violate the law (if, in fact, they are culpable for the crime to begin with). It has no deterrent effect.

  464. says

    rabbitscribe: isn’t there something in the Heller ruling that explicitly says it was not meant to set a global precedent or overturn any law other than the particular DC statute at issue?

    Please quote the language, in both of the rulings you cite, that upholds a broad right to own and carry guns, or I will be forced to conclude that you are bluffing, as so many other gun nuts have already done before you.

  465. says

    So now, as it turns out, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with state militias.

    Bullshit — the Second Amendment contains the words “well-regulated militia.” How can it not have anything to do with militias?

  466. rabbitscribe says

    Raging Bee: First of all, why would you conclude I am a “gun nut” based on my contentions with respect to what the law is?

    From Heller:

    1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html

    Washington DC is not a state. After Heller, there was some question as to whether or not the ruling applied to states. That was settled by the same attorney with different plaintiffs when he won McDonald v. Chicago. It’s a bit lengthy to quote because there’s a Privileges and Immunities issue also addressed, but I’m sure you will agree that McDonald extends the rights delineated in Heller to the states proper.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1521.pdf

  467. says

    As I suspected, rabbitscribe’s cite of Heller is a bluff — it doesn’t prevent any government from making reasonable laws restricting the ownership, trade, carrying, or use of firearms. Here’s the Wikipedia description (and BTW, why did you cite a Wikipedia article instead of the ruling itself?)…

    District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to federal enclaves and protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

    So the Court mentions ONE “traditionally lawful purpose” for possessing a firearm — self-defense WITHIN THE HOME. That means government can still regulate how much firepower you can possess for this purpose (A pistol, hunting rifle or shotgun may be okay, but not an AK-47), and can still forbid outright the carrying of guns outside one’s home.

    Bluff: called.

  468. rabbitscribe says

    Bee 496: Short version: because the judiciary interprets the law, and SCOTUS says so. The long version would be the Heller case itself, linked above. If it makes you feel any better, it’s the same answer to the question, “Where does the Constitution delineate a right to privacy entitling women to abortions?” Just substitute Roe for Heller.

  469. says

    Yes, rabbitscribe, could you stop masturbating now?

    The second amendment says something. The law is shaped by precedent which says something rather different. I don’t give a damn.

    The law has enshrined an untenable and destructive situation which is used by fanatics to justify the accumulation of deadly weapons. The law needs to be changed. Telling us repeatedly what the law says is not an argument that the law is just.