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January 18, 2011

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I'm not sure that the guns we have are too big. I thought one of the reasons Giffords survived is because she was shot with a relatively large powerful weapon. As a result, the bullet made a single clear path through her head were a smaller less powerful gun would have allowed a bullet to enter her skull but then bounce off the exit side causing far greater damage.

Also, this post is probably the ultimate in Bellmore bait.

Turb --

I agree with you about the guns not really being "too big", but I couldn't make "fire too many bullets too quickly without re-loading" sound punchy and referential enough.

this post is probably the ultimate in Bellmore bait

I'm just amazed someone else commented first.

[...] I'm just amazed someone else commented first.
Although for long periods of many years since 2003 I literally responded to almost every comment on ObWi, and naturally, therefore, on most posts, and therefore, naturally, discussed and argued with each and every ObWi blogger -- this has come to seem like a very bad idea, particularly in the last two years.

Especially given the recent turnover, and lack of continuity. Which has, as you are aware, been a touch bumpy, and mostly due to, as usual, me.

So for now my policy on commenting on co-bloggers's threads will evolve as will the situation. I'm new to co-blogging at this blog.

But I have plenty I could say in comments on your posts, Doctor Science: there's no lack of hooks. Your stuff is always thought-provoking, smart, intriguing, and gives me much to wish to agree with, and as always, there are points I could make that would not agree, but I do desire to not be disagreeable.

That requires getting to know some folks better; this requires greater and closer observation on my part of what's here.

Only my desire for brevity -- and the ultimate brevity is not to comment -- my desire to not offend -- and the best way to not offend is to not comment -- is giving me pause.

I'll learn as I go. Again.

As always. Every day a new one.

When I have a better sense of what you like in comments, I'll perhaps comment on your posts more.

It's not for lack of great interest on my part, or opinions to voice. :-)

There's lots I could say about various points in this post. As always.

But I don't want anyone to feel fired upon.

This, though:

IMHO, one of the problems we non-experts have with keeping gun fantasy and reality separate is film.
Uses of "we" always bother me, absent clear cites as to whom one is authorized to speak for. I'm a non-expert, and yet I don't sign on to agreeing that I have this problem.

But how to disagree agreeably about such points?

My first recourse: ask.

And note that I've always found first person most useful when not speaking in my capacity as, oh, an elected official in a legal election, or similar capacity.

But that's me, and no one else, and we all must choose our own style. That's a we I'm comfortable with.

I tend to get stuck on points such as this before I can jump to substance.

That's, again, me, not we, nor "most of us."

I have read a lot on guns (esp. concerning history) and have seen some real ones in (museum) displays but my practical experience with firearms is nearly nonexistent. I think I can see when the presentation in movies is total crap (but that's almost the default option).
My violent fantasies rarely center on firearms (apart from heavy artillery). Clubs and axes give far more relief ;-)
I tend to agree with Michael Moore here. It's not the guns themselves that are the primary problem but the mentality that is at the same time violent and fearful.
Semiautomatics with oversized magazines are a multiplier. Firearms would be abused (occasionally) even if only single-shot versions existed (or only crossbows) and the penalty would be the Slow Death.the question is one of balance.
---
[rant]
One occasion where I have the urgent wish for instant violent retaliation is when again and again the old canard is brought up that Hitler seized all guns and thus made his reign of terror possible often bolstered with two official and reputable looking reports giving an overview of German gun legislation that to call distorted would be a grand understatement. The people bringing that up notoriously refuse to accept evidence to the contrary (like direct quotes/links from/to the actual laws) often claiming it to be fraudulent. That's what one can naturally expect from a freedom-hating government like the German one: doctor all editions of the Reichs/Bundes-Gesetzblatt in order to hide its nefarious deeds in past and present. But they can't fool clear-thinking American patriots with that.
[/rant]

I didn't actually watch the clip, but I can certainly testify that gunfights in current film and television are fantastic in the ways you describe. Any character, good or bad, who has been fetishized or touted with marksmanship abilities always makes completely preturnatural shots--cf. White Collar, NCIS--while a general hail of gunfire mostly doesn't hit anyone (cf. everything, but the most absurd example is this clip from Leverage, in which cardboard boxes act as adequate shields from gunfire! It's like Ender's Game up in there). It ends up being a sort of Dream It, Be It philosophy of guns--if you are a good guy with some enigmatic and/or superish capabilities, or a bad guy with SUPER ENIGMATIC and/or SUPER AWFUL EVIL capabilities, you will always hit what you aim at. Otherwise, bullets are irrelevant, or serve to make the extraneous look dumb. End scene.


I admit I'm conflicted on this front. On the one hand, that is bad, for the obvious reasons and the reasons you detailed. On the other hand, it really does make for some great TV (less so movies, for me--I think I hold TV and movies to different standards, at least within genres). I can think of several angles I could take regarding policy or political ethics on this, but really all I want is to have a fairly non-violent society AND keep my kitschily, arrealistically violent entertainment. Sigh.

Regarding bullets penetrating one side of the skull, and then bouncing around inside, this can happen, yes. Two points:

1. 9mm is not particularly 'big'.
2. Most shots are not to the skull.

Believe me, if you're going to get shot, you're almost certainly going to be better off if it's a smaller, lower energy round. Almost every time.

Beyond that? Can't think of anything else I haven't already said.

Oh, wait, one thing:

I will agree that movies, and TV, are a major reason why we have so many fantasies about guns. But probably the biggest, baddest fantasy about guns, the one that's the least realistic, and the most widespread, is this:

Guns are mostly used for shooting at people.

And that's the fantasy that's driving most of the demands for limiting ownership of an object that is almost never used for that purpose. You'd be on better statistical grounds if you thought about running people over every time you looked at a car...

The only way I'm going to avoid responding to this post and comments is the same way I've been avoiding responding to various other posts: avoiding reading the comments or looking at the post again.

I'm weak, weak, weak on many things. Easier to stifle by averting eyes. For me, for now.

Biting tongue! Ow! Could we have some tooth-control laws, pliz?

I grew up with guns. My father kept a locked and loaded GI .45 in a desk in the den where we all sat watching t.v. and talking every night. It was for self defense. He told me once - and only once - to never touch that piece unless odered by him to do so or in an extreme situation in which he was absent and my mother or siblings were at extreme risk of bodily harm from home invading bad guys. You what? I never did so much as sneak a touch of the piece. Never even crossed my mind. He also trained me in fire arm safety, maintainance and, finally, marksmanship. By the time I was ten I could hit a cofee can with seven out of seven shots from the .45 at about 50 yards and do the same (8 out of 8) at 250 yards with an M1 Garand.

I own guns today. My wife and I each have a .357 magnum revolver and we have a couple rifles. The revolvers are for self defense and the rifles for meat and sport.

I think that only a fool would not pick up a gun to defend a woman or a child or himself. To rely on the police is stupid and cowardly. They will usually get there in time to draw a chalk line around your body.

That being said, I have had extensive training. My wife has also had some training. We are both able to remain cool under stress and threat of physical harm. We have both seen what happens when bullets meet human flesh. We have absolute respect for the power of guns and the reality of severe injury and death. We are not swayed to violent fantasy by risible fetishized scenes of gunfights in the movies.

I agree that way too many morons own guns. I dread hunting season because the whole county is turned into a free fire zone with drunken slobs shooting at anything that moves; including horses and people. In the cities armed nihilistic stoned youths fantasize about gaining "respect" via murder. Ill bred children with defunct parents play with guns and get hurt.

Yet, I am not for gun control for the same old reasons you've heard ad nauseum. I know blackmarkets. Criminals will always obtain guns there just as people obtain cannabis though it is also prohibited. I believe in the second ammendment (and all the others).

The problem is not guns. It is the quality of the people the have them in their hands and it is also our culture itself.

BTW, the 9mm is a medium cal round. Giffords is alive because the shooter used full metal jacket rounds instead of hollow points and because of sheer luck and excellent medical care. With handguns the larger the caliber the better (as far as lethality goes).

Rule of thumb:
Most deadly: large caliber, slow speed, 'soft' projectile.
Small*, fast and hard pass through and make less of a mess.

I guess, if the congresswoman had been hit not point blank but from a few meters away, she'd be dead.

*diameter

I can't help but think that the whole "self-defence via gun" is a fantasy situation and that the reality of situations in which this is applicable is in single digits (opinion).
Confronting a person with (presumable) less to lose that yourself with a gun can only escalate an already bad situation.

Not related:
Reminds me of a case in which a man wakes up at 5 in the morning to see his car driving off. He picks up his gun and shoots dead the driver - who turns out to be his daugter who had an early appointment she neglected to tell him about.

Norway (Sweden too iirc) requires signal red clothing for hunting season*. Even sober and experienced hunters have made fatal mistakes (better get not caught drunk carrying a firearm in those countries!).

*That's close to be a national event in the areas I know esp. due to the very strict quotas on big game.

But probably the biggest, baddest fantasy about guns, the one that's the least realistic, and the most widespread, is this: Guns are mostly used for shooting at people.

what's the purpose of a militia ?

is it:
[ ] to round up and plink all the coffee cans in the territory
[ ] to assemble in convention centers and stroke each others firearms
[ ] to point their weapons at other people in order to coerce

You forgot: performing the Miles Gloriosus (Plautus) twice a day.

Brett: But probably the biggest, baddest fantasy about guns, the one that's the least realistic, and the most widespread, is this:

Guns are mostly used for shooting at people.

And that's the fantasy that's driving most of the demands for limiting ownership of an object that is almost never used for that purpose.

This is true of any object, pretty much. Most knives are not used for stabbing people, but it's still illegal to carry certain types and sizes of blades concealed on your person. Most pseudoephedrine is not used to make crystal meth, but I still have to show a driver's license when I buy cold medicine. And so on.

It's not a very useful insight, and certainly implies nothing about how policy should proceed as a result.

That said, I'm certainly not in favor of widespread gun bans or anything like that. I don't own one, but if someone wants one in their house or on their person for self-defense I have no problem with that. PROVIDED that that ownership is accompanied by proper licensing and training.

I wouldn't say I "grew up around guns" like avedis did -- despite the fact that my father was in the Army, we never, ever owned one. Frankly, I think dad's Vietnam service (and PTSD) kinda put him off having them around. My grandfather, though, who raised poultry, kept a .22 rifle on the porch for dispensing with cats, raccoons, foxes and anything else that might raid the henhouse or tear up one of his rooster. (Grandpa was also into cockfighting. The joys of having West Virginia roots.) And, like avedis, it was made explicitly clear to me as a child: DO NOT TOUCH THIS UNDER PENALTY OF A GOOD WHIPPING.

I can't help but think that the whole "self-defence via gun" is a fantasy situation and that the reality of situations in which this is applicable is in single digits (opinion).

I tend to agree. Ohio instituted CCW licensing about five years ago. Since that time, in the Greater Cleveland area, I've heard of exactly two successful defensive gun uses, and only one of them was with a concealed handgun and took places on the gun owner's porch. He shot and killed one potential assailant and drove the other off. The other incident involved a shotgun and a home invasion. Again, two intruders -- one ran away and the other caught a few pieces of shot in the face.

On the other hand, two CCW permit holders in the last two years have murdered people in cold blood. In the first case, a cop was killed during a traffic stop. In the second, a parking garage attendant was gunned down by an irate customer right in front of a bunch of families. That victim ALSO had a CCW permit, and never even got a chance to fire his gun.

And since it wasn't clear from my post above, since I brought up the examples, I think the knife policy is a good one, and the cough syrup policy is not.

I thought one of the reasons Giffords survived is because she was shot with a relatively large powerful weapon. As a result, the bullet made a single clear path through her head were a smaller less powerful gun would have allowed a bullet to enter her skull but then bounce off the exit side causing far greater damage

I have an uncle that is an avid gun collector, hunter, all-around "outdoor sports"-man, and (incidentally) a Democrat. One of his favorite weapons is a ridiculously small diameter round (0.204 Ruger, IIRC) on top of an enormous shell casing. Muzzle velocity is well over 4000 fps, and he says that just about the only way to kill a deer with it (which he does, quite regularly) is with a brain shot.

As avedis has noted, it was (likely) more the nature of the round (non-deforming) than the caliber or velocity that left Giffords alive.

the most absurd example is this clip from Leverage, in which cardboard boxes act as adequate shields from gunfire!

That all depends on what was in the boxes. Not so unbelievable. If it's boxes of books, for instance, those would make lovely cover. Ditto boxes of tightly-packed heavy machine parts.

In one part of that clip, he's taking shelter behind a roll of paper. That would stop pretty much anything that failed to destroy it completely (like multiple HE rounds). There isn't hand-held weapon load in existence that will punch through a 2-meter-diameter roll of card stock.

But in general, gun battles for entertainment are probably not representative of what might happen during an actual gun battle. It's probably a very bad idea, for instance, to imagine that if someone steps out of cover with a weapon already pointed at you, that you're going to be able to point and fire faster than they can pull the trigger.

Not that I'm experienced in such things, but gunfights in TV and movies tend to be slanted to entertainment rather than realism. Kind of like individual combat; those flying head-kicks are nice and all, but not typically what you'd lead off with.

I get a little edgy when I hear about the shooting in self-defence of "potensial assailents" and people involved in a home invasion.
You shouldn't kill anyone who just wants to steal your stuff. I don't know how much the frightened person with the gun is to blame here.

"You shouldn't kill anyone who just wants to steal your stuff."

I disagree with this. Not to mention that, in a home invasion scenario, it takes a lot of mind reading to guess that all they want to do is steal your stuff.

It superfluous to mention that I don’t agree with the person who doesn’t agree with me.

”Not to mention that, in a home invasion scenario, it takes a lot of mind reading to guess that all they want to do is steal your stuff.”
If you confront them, certainly.

Stay in your room (with your gun if you like). They probably just want the TV. Granted it’s a different situation if you have family in house.

Don't forget the not insignificant number of cases where the gun owner was shot by the intruder with his own gun (that either was lying around or that was even taken from the owner).
Oh yes, and the cases of home owners (some not even armed) shot by the police without warning. http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/442071/horrifying%3A_utah_man_shot_to_death_by_police_for_raising_golf_club/>This passed my screen just a few minutes ago.

Thanks for all above for setting me straight regarding bullet size and survivability.

I disagree with this.

As a Christian, I'd have difficulty justifying my killing of a man to protect some stuff. Perhaps you're not a Christian or perhaps you worship a God that doesn't value human life.

Not to mention that, in a home invasion scenario, it takes a lot of mind reading to guess that all they want to do is steal your stuff.

Are home invasions actually more common than bathtub drownings or being struck by lightning? As far as I can tell, there are no statistics on home invasions, and without statistics, I can't differentiate them from paranoiac fever dreams.

I get a little edgy when I hear about the shooting in self-defence of "potensial assailents" and people involved in a home invasion.

In the former case, the man was on his porch when he was approached by two teens (and by "teens" I mean 15 and 16 year olds, not 18 or 19), one of who drew a gun on him. He drew his own gun and shot one of them several times in the chest. The other ran off.

Fifteen is more than old enough to know that, if you pull a gun on somebody, you'd better be prepared to accept the consequences. Play with fire and you're inevitably going to get burned.

Sadly, afterwards the man had his windows broken by friends and relatives of the dead teen, and was essentially driven out of the neighborhood. But the other teen was caught by police and charged with crimes including his accomplice's death. He's now serving 18 to life.

Sounds like a happy ending for everyone involved, Phil. Yay, guns!

All of you should read Joe's book, "Deer Hunting With Jesus".

As for the line, "If we outlaw guns, then only the criminals will have guns", I offer this:

1. Criminals already have guns.
2. Given the lawful monopoly on violence, the State will always have guns.
3. If you want to increase the chances of an accidental shooting or have a readily available means to take your own life, then go buy a gun.
4. There is no personal belonging (stuff) that is worth your life or the lives of your loved ones.

For personal protection, I keep a Soviet T-90 in the back yard. Sometimes the neighbors complain when I do a little target shooting, but the threat to run over their flower gardens usually shuts them up. We have also practiced enough to be able to get into the tank in 20 seconds (the scramble) in the event of a home intrusion. I'm still of two minds as to whether destroying the house in order to save it is worth it.

I'll grant you that if you pull a gun on someone you'd better be prepared to accept the consequences. The kid was stupid.

On the other hand, chances are that the kid just wanted to steal from him and they would both have survived the confrontation if he had kept his gun hidden.

I mean, yeah, I agree that if someone's clear intent is simply to rob you, you shouldn't just shoot and kill them. But someone walking onto your porch and pulling a gun on you is not necessarily a situation in which you have lots of time to talk it out or think it through. Nor is waking in the middle of the night to find people breaking in through your kitchen door.

Stay in your room (with your gun if you like). They probably just want the TV.

If you just stay in your room, they're more likely to think nobody is home and start searching the entire house for valuables, possibly making the situation more dangerous.

But probably the biggest, baddest fantasy about guns, the one that's the least realistic, and the most widespread, is this:

Guns are mostly used for shooting at people.

Footballs aren't mostly used for playing games of football. But that's what they're for.

On the other hand, chances are that the kid just wanted to steal from him and they would both have survived the confrontation if he had kept his gun hidden.

We'll never know, will we? It's not like shootings are rare in the neighborhood in which this took place.

Granted, we'll never know, and far be it from me to criticize his reaction – I wasn’t there.
It just seems that the cases there are of guns successfully being used for self-defense, their necessity is at the least questionably.

I also think that we mostly agree with each other on the subject, this squabbling disregarded.

A tank is well and good but I opted for an anti personnel minefield round the house that activates at dusk and shuts down at dawn (unless nobody is at home). The safe path through it is changed daily and additionally always directly after a family member crossed it, so casual observers cannot just follow in their footsteps. The mailbox is connected to the house by chute, so the postman and the paperboy have no need to enter the danger zone. Last week an overly clever burglar tried the old mine pig trick but found out too late that some of the mines activate on second contact. We had to switch from cats to exotic fish after an unfortunate accident but we think that was worth it. Replacing used-up mines costs about 20$ per month and the kds in the neighbourhood have learned quickly not to cross the barrier tape to retrieve lost balls (in most cases the blast blows the objects back to them anyway).

During the second world war, the US Army did a study, and they discovered, somewhat to their surprise, that men (they didn't have women in combat then) had a significant resistance to killing, so much so that soldiers alone would often not fire even to protect their own lives. Plenty of people have since cast doubt on these findings, but I find it telling that when the US military redesigned their training to reduce the resistance to killing, rates of fire went up.

I will admit to suffering from confirmation bias; when I read this, or an account of a mass shooting where the police have found victims dead with unfired guns in their hands, I tend to think: aha, it all fits. I know the world does not work in such a simple manner, but I do believe this: given the state of the evidence, it does not do for any gun owner to hold themselves up as members of an unbadged but always ready police force.

I think Dr. S is right that the insistence on having guns derives, in large part, from macho fantasies. (Obviously I'm not talking about people who actually go hunting. I'm talking mostly about people who feel that they need to have a hand gun. Or at least the ability to easily get one.) And that cop shows, and other "shoot 'em ups", help to drive those fantasies.

Which leads me to an interesting observation. I recently came across a new spin-off from the Law & Order series: Law & Order UK. The same sorts of plots as the others, about police catching criminals and Crown Prosecutors (DA equivalents) prosecuting the offenders. (Unfortunately, that spin-off is on BBC America, which isn't part of my basic Comcast package. But it does turn up on On Demand. Go figure.)

But the show starts with a line that really strikes home: "You have to have a pair of brass ones to go after criminals when you can't carry a gun." (Referring, in case anyone here isn't aware, to the fact the British police do not carry guns except in very limited and exceptional circumstances.)

Imagine the change that could ripple across our current gun-besotted culture if the idea spread that it is more macho to not carry a gun.

*Shrug*. In my fantasy world?

1) Handguns would be the province of police and the military alone. I'd make an exception, perhaps, for sport-shooters if they underwent a rigorous background check. "Concealed carry" would be the object of mocking laughter.

2) Hunting rifles and shotguns would be available to anyone not convicted of a violent felony, provided they underwent both a background check and an annual safety course. (Heck, I'd make the government pay for the safety course).


Handguns are for killing people. Carrying them around concealed is so no one knows you can kill people. (Or, I suppose, so the big bad criminals don't know if you can shoot back!). If you're worried about the big, bad government taking over -- a shotgun or a good rifle will do you a lot more good than a handgun when Uncle Sam and his M16s and MP5's and tanks and helicopters comes calling.

Ditto for home defense.

Of course, all this violates my sacred constitutional right to wander around with a gun under my jacket, feeling all powerful and confident that all those muggers, and rapists, and thieves, and suspiciously black people won't be able to take ME. Nope. I've got 9mm's of hidden courage, you betcha.

It's like a longer, harder, more metal penis that fires PURE AWESOME.

And I say this as someone who hunts, and enjoys sport shooting.

In a home invasion, I'd go with yelling (with feeling!), while out of sight, "I have a gun! Get the f**k out of my house or I will blow your f**king head off!" You know, whether I had a gun or not, which I don't. (I do have a kid-sized aluminum bat under my bed. It's small and light enough to be wielded with one hand if necessary.)

I've lived somewhere or another my entire life. I'm 42. No one has ever, to my knowledge, entered any residence of mine without at least an implicit invitation. That's just my experience, I know.

The only time I've had a gun pointed at me was when a friend of mine thought it was funny to point his shotgun at his friends at parties when he was going through his 2nd-amendment phase. Somehow, those of us who weren't "into" guns had to explain the stupidity of this to him. It didn't really sink in until another "gun person" who understood gun safety, and whose expertise with firearms was more respectable to my friend, later explained it to him.

Phil's comment, "It's not like shootings are rare in the neighborhood in which this took place." suggests to me that American policy around guns has not succeeded.

John, we discussed that very topic recently here at length. Similar results could be inferred as late as the mid 19th century when armies began to draft statistics about spent ammo during battles. At Königgrätz, one of the largest battles of its age there was on average a single bullet fired per rifle despite the fact that few participants stood around idly and that the units at the focal points were dangerously short on ammo when it ended (i.e. they had fired about 60 shots each).

Well, the problem with Cleveland -- and with the east side neighborhoods where violent crime rates are higher -- is not guns or gun policy, or not enough people being armed, or too many people being armed.

It's multi-generational poverty, it's bad schools, it's the decimation of families by the War On Drugs, it's a law enforcement and prison system that destroys poor black families, it's joblessness . . . it's all the sociological indicators and factors that correlate positively with violent crime.

Take away all the guns in East Cleveland, and not too much would change big-picture wise except for a few less deaths by gunshot.

"A tank is well and good but I opted for an anti personnel minefield round the house "

Wimps. Ever wonder who took those old Minuteman I's and II's along with the 54 Titan II missiles off of our government's hands when they were retired from service as part of our land-based nuclear deterrent? I grant you that the Titans with their liquid fuel are a difficult proposition for the average homeowner to keep maintained and ready to fire, but the Minuteman with its solid fuel is like a dream come true. Admittedly the Minuteman lacks the punch of the Titan 2's 9 megaton warhead, but I have found that 1.2 megatons is more than enough to take care of the average burglar, not to mention every potential burglar for several miles around. Now admittedly this isn't the sort of thing for those who never looked at Cheyenne Mountain as their ultimate dream home, but for anyone willing to live a mile underground in a steel bunker there just isn't anything better for added home security.

But if you want a nuclear deterrent, ask Mother Russia. I'm not selling.

Top this - in addition to my kid-sized aluminum bat, we have a "Beware of Dog" sign in our back window, despite our severe lack of dog.

Whenever the subject turns to the possession of guns for defending your family, I am compelled to talk about smoke alarms and child seats. Do you have smoke alarms in every room in your house except the kitchen and bathrooms? Are they fairly new? Do they have good batteries in them? Do you have carbon monoxide alarms in every bedroom? Do you have fire extinguishers in the kitchen and garage and some others around the house? Do you have a phone that is guaranteed to work if you need to call the fire department or an ambulance? Do you have a modern car seat for your kid? Did you read the manual? Are you sure it's installed right? What kind of crash rating did your car receive? Do your tires have enough tread and are they inflated correctly and are your brakes in good shape? OK, now we can talk about guns - in a second.

I believe in statistics, and I do not believe in my ability to beat them. People mostly die prematurely in fires and in car accidents and, well, in accidental shootings in households with guns. None of the above questions were facetious - if you have kids, you should have done all those things.

When it comes to guns, I look at the statistics and they are not very good. Having a gun in the house does not guarantee that someone will get shot with it. It remains a tiny fractional chance. But it's a significantly higher tiny fractional chance than not having one, and did I mention that I believe in statistics? What excuse would I have if I had a gun and my son shot himself with it by accident? "I didn't know"?

Similarly for suicide. Gun advocates love to exclude suicides from gun mortality for reasons that passeth understanding to me - dead is dead whether I shoot myself or someone else does. Depression, including suicidality, can hit anyone, and as someone with a - well-managed, not that bothersome - depressive illness I'm certainly not going to think I can beat the odds.

Guns don't scare me as things. I shot sporting clays in high school with 20- and 12-gauge shotguns. That experience instilled both an ease of handling guns and ammunition and an extreme caution for where they were pointed.

Further, as Turbulence says, I would not kill someone over physical possessions even if there was not good reason to think that introducing a gun to a situation substantially increases the chance that I will get killed. It's stuff. I have insurance. Some of it is irreplaceable personal stuff - I'd sure be upset if someone stole my wedding ring - but I'm not going to kill some stupid kid over it.

As for home invasion robberies, they are incredibly rare, they almost exclusively happen to drug dealers known to keep large quantities of cash or drugs in their house, and the best thing to do if one occurred is almost certainly to give them what they want and let them leave. (That'd be a limited haul in my house cause the cash and drugs are pretty much the penny jar and a bottle of ibuprofen... but anyway.)

If you're really concerned, high-security captive-deadbolt door locks are probably a better investment than guns.

All that said, if you want to keep a gun in your house, and you keep it stored safely and you know how to use it and you're not a raging psychopath - whatever. Gun rampage deaths are statistically insignificant and individual gun deaths are mostly occupant accidents or arguments. I'm not going to let my kids play at your house, but otherwise, whatever. Just don't expect me to be impressed with your fantasies.

"my kid-sized aluminum bat"

I had been wondering what to do in case someone actually got inside the old bunker. Thanks for the tip.

Jared Loughner was using a Glock with an extended, 30-shot magazine. Nineteen people were hit, some more than once, so pretty much every bullet hit someone, whether Loughner was aiming at them or not.

Dr. S.-
You may turn out to be right, but we don't know that from the available information. Loughner was using metal-jacketed ammunition that produces through-and-through wounds like Rep. Giffords', especially at close range. It's very possible that some bullets passed through the initial victim and then struck another person. For example, I was a juror in a murder case involving a .357 magnum (admittedly, a much larger load). The victim was shot through the chest as he ran from the shooter. The round passed through him and hit a little girl down the street, then passed through her and wounded her mother. A second shot passed through the victim and struck a second little girl. (The mother then dragged both girls to safety.) Two shots, four victims.

Unless the police reconstruct the sequence based on the videotape and information from witnesses, we'll never know which of the rounds Loughner fired hit someone.

The problem is not guns. It is the quality of the people the have them in their hands and it is also our culture itself.

Right, so you shouldn't change the rules about guns; all you have to do is get a new population and change the culture. (Dissolve the people and elect another, asyermightsay).

"I also think that we mostly agree with each other on the subject, this squabbling disregarded."

I think so too. Many years ago I was able to move out a community where documented home invasions were more numerous than documented paranoiac fever dreams.ince that time I have never had a agun in my house.

In addition I never let my young children have toy guns. That rule was enforced until I thought they were old enough to grasp the dangers of real guns and to know the difference.

I prefer gun laws that accept open carry rather than hidden guns, as a crime deterrent it is much more effective if they know you have a gun.

I don't know what I would do if I was in the house by myself, I haven't thought about protecting my stuff without having a family to consider in over 30 years.

As for home invasion robberies, they are incredibly rare, they almost exclusively happen to drug dealers known to keep large quantities of cash or drugs in their house

Obviously you are not someone who has ever Googled "Orlando home invasion".

It hasn't happened to me, but it has happened within a half-mile of my house. And not nearly an exclusively-large portion of the victims have been ascertained to have a drug connection.

Home invasions here are mostly, anecdotal evidence mind you, aimed at either a) snatching some quick cash, or b) executing a bit of the old ultra-violence. Check out that Google thread and you'll find two guys who did at least four rapes as part of their home-invasion circus.

The first three hits on that search are from the Orlando Sentinel.

First: "Robinson [the occupant who was shot and killed], a husband and father of two, had started to turn his life around after a history of drug-related incidents and other arrests."

Second: "[One of the robbers] admitted that he and Pascal had planned the home invasion to steal marijuana."

The third doesn't mention drugs. Another on the first page there does though. And obviously we can't know the exact motivations in cases where none is mentioned.

Can't find good statistics or studies on this in a quickie search. One of the problems being that "home invasion" is a poorly-defined category. So I can't offer much beyond "Almost every time I read about home invasion robberies the people they're robbing appear to be drug dealers." Well, and the obvious point: drug dealers for obvious reasons tend to keep money and merchandise in their house far in excess of what most of us do. Maybe "almost exclusively" is too strong, maybe not.

Maybe "almost exclusively" is too strong, maybe not.

I'd say, rather, completely unevidenced, with plenty of evidence weighing against. Notably, in addition to the at least 50% of the cases you found under my link. But this all depends on your threshold of "almost exclusively", so I won't belabor the point.

Well, and the obvious point: drug dealers for obvious reasons tend to keep money and merchandise in their house far in excess of what most of us do.

Sure, Jacob. But they also tend to be more highly armed and than the average joe.

I mean, wouldn't you be, if you had to keep largeish quantities of cash and product around the house, as you speculated?

But: granted, the statistics are difficult to obtain. Also granted (and never disputed) the victims are sometimes drug dealers. I'm guessing the upside is the victims would be less likely to report, while the downside is they're much, much more likely to be well-armed.

But, again: guessing.

During the second world war, the US Army did a study, and they discovered, somewhat to their surprise, that men (they didn't have women in combat then) had a significant resistance to killing, so much so that soldiers alone would often not fire even to protect their own lives

SLA Marshall was credibly accused of fabricating the evidence rather than actually doing the study.

"1) Handguns would be the province of police and the military alone. I'd make an exception, perhaps, for sport-shooters if they underwent a rigorous background check. "Concealed carry" would be the object of mocking laughter.

2) Hunting rifles and shotguns would be available to anyone not convicted of a violent felony, provided they underwent both a background check and an annual safety course. (Heck, I'd make the government pay for the safety course)."

That's pretty much exactly the situation in New Zealand, we're heavily agricultural so guns are quite important as tools for pest control/putting down large stock/hunting etc but handguns are pretty damn rare.
Guns are almost entirely seen as tools rather than as self defense (on the other hand there are a *lot* of martial arts training places).

The police don't carry as a rule either(although they keep agitating for it).

I remember sitting on a jury trial of a local leader of one of the most well known criminal gangs in New Zealand...and it still shocked almost all of the jury that he had a pistol on him when arrested (none of the other 5 people on trial with him were armed when arrested).

There are still accidents and shootings but there aren't as many of them and there are sure as hell a lot less police shootings.

I don't think it could ever work in the states but it can work and it does make a difference.

" Do you have smoke alarms in every room in your house except the kitchen and bathrooms?"

Why the "except"? We call the one in the kitchen, jokingly, "the oven timer", and it's why I'm no longer allowed to roast meat at 500 degrees.

"Don't forget the not insignificant number of cases where the gun owner was shot by the intruder with his own gun (that either was lying around or that was even taken from the owner)."

Well, not insignificant in the sense where anybody getting shot is significant. Not particularly common, though, either. Really, cost/benefit analysis doesn't work if you're determined to only look at costs; You'd have to ask what's the ratio between guns in the house being used defensively, and being picked up and used against you by a burglar.

You'd have to ask what's the ratio between guns in the house being used defensively, and being picked up and used against you by a burglar.

Why only by a burglar? (My wife would probably have shot me by now had she the means.)

I think all nine-year-old girls interested in how government works should pack one of these motherf$ckers when they show up at political events:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/12/video-navys-mach-8-railgun-obliterates-record/

I carry one of these when I attend Ted Nugent concerts and plan to carry an enhanced version to Republican Death Panel political events as 2012 approaches.

But, might I ask that everyone take a moment to celebrate the fact that the Jewess Sarah Palin has recovered so quickly from her gunshot wounds that she will be released from the hospital this Friday and will enter the FOXNews rehabilitation facility for extensive physical and speech therapy.

We can't bring back those who were murdered in this tragic event, such as the Editors of Redrum, Rep. Steve King, and Martin Luther Limbaugh, but I believe we should make an effort to attenuate our sometimes misguided rhetoric.

A good start would be if Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who started this entire chain of events with her careless use of the term "gunsights" a few days before Palin was shot would agree to step to a microphone and at least acknowledge that crazy people with guns kill people, guns don't kill people and those are the luckiest people in the world.

It's bad enough having a smoke alarm in the next room to the kitchen, even with giant industrial range hoods. I am the Burninator.

By "drug dealer" I should emphasize I am mostly talking about the bottom tiers of the pyramid, the small- and medium-timers, who may or may not have a gun but aren't particularly scary to someone who intends to get the jump on them. There's also the underreporting problem - where possible people engaged in illegal commerce are unlikely to call the police at all, and if the police come out anyway they're not going to volunteer to them that maybe they got robbed because everyone knows their house is loaded with drugs and cash.

(Everyone generally does know. I lived in a house with a heroin dealer and a prostitute as next-door neighbors for a while in England. Most people don't have half a dozen visitors a day who only hang out for an hour. The dealer was also burgled repeatedly, mostly by her own customers.)

The British police generally have guns available these days, in locked compartments in their cars. But they don't carry them openly and unarmed people rarely get shot by the police because guns are not handy. Gun crime between British criminals is up in recent years though as it's gotten easier to move guns in from the US, but gun confrontations with the police remain fairly rare as they generally result in the [equivalent of] a SWAT team getting called out.

Why the "except"? We call the one in the kitchen, jokingly, "the oven timer", and it's why I'm no longer allowed to roast meat at 500 degrees.

I think that's the reason--the number of false positives. We could cut down on those at our house by cleaning our oven, but then, well, we'd be cleaning our oven.

... Burninator ...

Trogdor!">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gz1DIIxmEE">Trogdor!

Hogan,

I think that's the reason--the number of false positives. We could cut down on those at our house by cleaning our oven, but then, well, we'd be cleaning our oven.

I myself am caught in a Catch-22 wrt this problem. Having neglected cleaning my self-cleaning oven for too long, I find that cleaning it generates voluminous amounts of smoke, and sets off all smoke detectors in my building, including in the halls, other apartments, etc.

So I can't clean it, because it's dirty.

Note that I am advised that regular chemical oven cleaners are verboten.

Time to throw out the oven and buy a new oven.

You could always experiment with unconventional cleaning agents like Krud Kutter (which is just fabulous for cutting greasy crud. Stuff that has already reached a state of rock-hard char, not so much). Those aren't advertised as "oven cleaner", so might slip into that fine open area between the rules.

The number of guns in private hands and the number of passenger vehicles in the US are not miles apart. Gun related deaths and auto related deaths are eerily similar in quantity. The big difference is that about half of the gun deaths are suicides.

What can we learn from this?

(A) It's as safe to drive your gun as it is to drive your car.
(B) Gun ownership is a good indicator of poor mental health.
(C) Recent safety improvements make suicide by car difficult.
(D) There is no political support for concealed car carry regulations.
(E) Some of the above.

Maybe I've been watching too much television, but I can't help thinking there's a gun-related solution to the dirty oven problem.

How delightful for all of you who have never had to deal first hand with a home invasion robbery (or burglary, which I consider much the same thing). Not fun.

Many years ago, I moved from the city to a suburb. (North Oakland to Concord, if you are in the San Francisco area and care.) The new house was in what looked like a nice neighborhood, and the back yard looked out across a park. The park was, apparently, the problem.

What problem? Five (count 'em -- 5!) burglaries in 8 years - by which time a bit the bullet and moved elsewhere. We generally got hit during the day, when my wife and I were off at work. Although one day I came how while the kid was still inside -- he bailed out the broken window where he entered, and across to the park, before I got a look at him.

I say "kid" because the police assured me (and I called and reported each one) that kids going thru the park after school were the usual culprits. (None of whom were ever found.) No, I didn't have drugs (or guns) in the house. I just made a bad pick of a home location.

Bernard,

Slip the building super a little token of appreciation and have them put the fire alarm panel into "test" prior to the cleaning.

You might also try sand-blasting, but that might be a bit messy.

How delightful for all of you who have never had to deal first hand with a home invasion robbery (or burglary, which I consider much the same thing). Not fun.

wj, the term home invasion, especially in the context used by Marty, means something well above and beyond having a neighbor hood kid break into your house to steal your stuff. As Wikipedia says "home invasion differs from burglary in having a violent intent".

Without harshing the light buzz induced by the gun-on-oven scenario, I did want to mention another regular form of home invasions: police who have the wrong address while undertaking a SWAT incursion.

Radley Balko has been following these for quite a while.

Results for people in these households and their pets are pretty bad across the board, but really grim when anyone in them deploys a gun (regardless of its being legally owned and permitted etc.).

bobbyp,

Not a bad idea, except:

No super.

Small building - five apts, and the smoke and odor go everywhere, so the alarms are only part of the problem.

I think I need to devote a day to scraping the charred stuff off and then using something like what slarti suggested to get the grease, and then see what happens when I fire up th eself-cleaning to finish the job.

Rotary wire brush in a drill. Followed by the vacuum cleaner. Works like a charm, though the first time a friend unlimbered one on my stove top, I nearly fainted.

Radley: Federal Judge Says There’s No First Amendment Right to Record Police.

Smart, sane libertarian! Recommend to all.

(Naturally, I disagree sometimes. Duh!)

While I agree with you that real-life shootouts are nothing like on TV, I think you're exaggerating the gun-anarchy scenario as well. From what I know, gun-owners are trained to 1) only fire on a person when they are an imminent threat to life and 2) holster or lay down their weapon once the police arrive. The first point goes for the police as well, who are expected to confront the armed person verbally before firing. You can argue that these safe-guards don't work, but the idea that a gunfight in a public place will inevitably devolve into a shootout between armed bystanders and police is just an assumption. (And, because I'm sure it's coming, the fact that police officers shot a man with a golf-club in his own home is as much an argument against guns as it is an argument against golf-clubs).

Nevertheless, I'm with you on the gun-control issue and high-capacity or tactical magazines are an obvious starting point. I will note that most of the gun regulation I have personally seen seems to be very misguided if not counter-productive. Up here in New England, to get a pistol permit you have to personally go between the town police and the state police barracks three or four times, with each step of the process having separate fees and up to three month waiting periods - and this is after you've passed the training and the background check.

Now, I would be willing to undergo a psyche evaluation, or have my family interviewed, or get a letter from my boss to satisfy criteria for getting a pistol. These are all valid and effective ways of ensuring the wrong person can't legally get a gun. But the current system is just security through bureaucracy - if you can read a form and don't have a job to fill up your day, you can get a gun. Having experienced this, I'm now very weary of gun regulation that is simply based on making access more annoying rather than actually flagging and excluding the right people.

wj!:

[...] What problem? Five (count 'em -- 5!) burglaries in 8 years - by which time [wj] bit the bullet and moved elsewhere.
Try this!

Like this!

Remember: you asked for it!

;-)

I believe I already wrote that plenty of people have cast doubt on the findings of the US Army study on combat performance. However, the conclusions have held up well in the light of other studies of behaviour in combat, and the effect of changes in training. Experience appears to validate one of the main conclusions: that normal human beings have a significant resistance to killing, even in our own defence.

John Spragge - Can you point me to any of these studies (or the names of these studies)? I've seen what you claim above asserted by Dave Grossman in books and articles but he never mentions any of these by name or gives any bibliographic details. I'd really like to see the details of these. Grossman is a central figure in a lot of military and video game studies and I'm ambivalent about his credibility and objectivity.

Anything would help. Thanks.

Good thing Loughner's reload clips were also high capacity. Otherwise he might killed or wounded more people than he did.

[...]
Ardant du Picq's surveys of French officers in the 1860s and his observations about ancient battles (
Battle Studies, 1946), John Keegan and Richard Holmes' numerous accounts of ineffectual firing throughout history (Soldiers, 1985), Holmes' assessment of Argentine firing rates in the Falklands War (Acts of War, 1985), Paddy Griffith's data on the extraordinarily low firing rate among Napoleonic and American *Civil War regiments (Battle Tactics of the American Civil War, 1989), the British army's laser reenactments of historical battles, the FBI's studies of nonfiring rates among law enforcement officers in the 1950s and 1960s, and countless other individual and anecdotal observations, all confirm Marshall's fundamental conclusion that human beings are not, by nature, killers. Indeed, from a psychological perspective, the history of warfare can be viewed as a series of successively more effective tactical and mechanical mechanisms to enable or force combatants to overcome their resistance to killing other human beings, even when defined as the enemy.
[...]

"Aggression and Violence"

Hartmut,

One occasion where I have the urgent wish for instant violent retaliation is when again and again the old canard is brought up that Hitler seized all guns and thus made his reign of terror possible often bolstered with two official and reputable looking reports giving an overview of German gun legislation that to call distorted would be a grand understatement. The people bringing that up notoriously refuse to accept evidence to the contrary (like direct quotes/links from/to the actual laws) often claiming it to be fraudulent.

Could you elaborate on this? The argument is so frequently raised that it would be nice to have more facts about the situation. (Though why German gun laws affected conquered places like Poland, much of Russia, etc., is another question worth addressing).

Danke.

RE: gun fantasies.

Years ago my then-husband, now ex bought me a gun. A Ruger 358, to be specific. Since the purpose of the gun was to shoot people (rapists, etc.), my dad's NRC-member friend recommended that I load it with shotgun shells.

Thus armed I went on camping trips by myself.

I never had the least occasion to use it. I quickly realized that if I followed one simple rule(never be alone with a man) that I was safe.

So I got rid of the gun.

However, before my epiphamy I, in an effort to be a responsible gun owner, took a class and got a concealed weapons permit.

The class brought me into contact with some seriously weird people.

The kind of people whose fantasy lives are really scarey. The gun class was held in a black building covered all over with NRC posters and paranoid posters about unnamed entities that were trying to take everyone's guns away. Lots of pictures of gunsights. IN side the very dark almost bar-like lobby the walls were covered with posters that got more into the sort of racist area, plus posters of big busted women holding huge guns, often with teh butt end down by their crotches and the other end pointing up.

Seriously weird.

My instructor turned out to be female. She was crazy. Cerifiable. She said that she had shot her gun so mony times that she had lead poisoning and could no longer have children. She said that she never ever was without a gun. She told the class that liberals sided with criminals and that liberals were trying to make it illegal to take classes like the one we were taking. She said tht liberals had changed the laws so that mentally ill people could get guns. I did speak up and corrected her on that.

We went to the gun range. There were all these fat guys in balck tshirts squinting at targets and shooting round after round after round..followed by lots of grunting and joshing and posturing.


The actual content of the class--gun safety ==was fine.

The whole atmosphere of the class--dark, paranoid, hateful--was not.

I got the impression of a whole lot of people who wanted to see themselves as heroic action figures, saviors of good against the forces of darkness. I thought there was a definite sex angle to it, as well. Guns were much more than self defense tools. There were some real issues with the need to feel powerful going on.

It totally creeped me out.

Wonkie:

I quickly realized that if I followed one simple rule(never be alone with a man) that I was safe.
Um. Er. Ah. Hmm?

I quickly realized that if I followed one simple rule(never be alone with a man) that I was safe. [...] My instructor turned out to be female. She was crazy. Cerifiable. She said that she had shot her gun so mony times that she had lead poisoning and could no longer have children. She said that she never ever was without a gun.
Hmm.

Gary, female serial killers usually attack men.

I don't think gun nuts like the folks at the gun club go around shooting isolated tourists. If my instructor ever kills someone it is more likely to be a politician, a person in the crowd near the politican, or someone breaking into the house.

But I don't think you were being really serious.

IN any event my point was really that guns have a huge symbolic value about power. People can talk all they want about having one just for self defense but I don't believe it. People I know who are not normally weird get weird when they start talking about guns. They get gorilla-ish. Grunting. Comparing their gun to the other guy's gun. They get touchy. They start telling stories about somebody somewhere who could hava avoided being robbed or raped if they had only had a gun. They start the Clint Eastwood fantasies.

Granted I am not acquainted with every gun owner in America. But there is some strange emotional thing that can go on with gun ownership. It's weirder than how people can get about car ownership or comparing collections of whatever. It's almost like that sick thing some people have for unneutered male pitbulls (It's not the dog's fault that people impose their fantasies on a breed, but that's another subject). It felt very liberating to me to throw the gun off the bridge. Farewell to being afraid!

To Trizzlor:

"The first point goes for the police as well, who are expected to confront the armed person verbally before firing."

I've watched a few of the police home invasion videos--some of them were more of the Robin William's bit "Bang" "Stop, or I'll shoot".

Part two, a quote from a book, Pure Cop, from an officer describing a threat approaching them.

"If someone is 20 feet away, I have my gun. If they are 10 feet away, I have a gun."

Trizzlor: "From what I know, gun-owners are trained . . . "

From what I know, they are not. Many of them are, but there's no requirement that they must be, and the strongest - well, loudest - advocates of Second Amendment rights tend to vigorously protest any suggestion that training be mandatory.

Dr, you've just received a Facebook FR to Friend my friend of decades, Joel Rosenberg.

You'll figure out why.

As a Canadian, let me make a radical suggestion: social, political, and technological developments over the past two centuries have made the second amendment obsolete as a direct guarantor of liberty, if indeed it ever worked for that purpose. Technological developments in warfare, particularly nuclear weapons, means a violent revolution or civil war in a nuclear armed nation poses extreme hazards. Social evolution, particularly the non-violence taught by Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus of Nazareth has provided a way to make profound social change without weapons.

Given these and other developments, the advantage of an armed militia, well regulated or otherwise, seems highly unclear.

social, political, and technological developments over the past two centuries have made the second amendment obsolete as a direct guarantor of liberty, if indeed it ever worked for that purpose

Presumably there are lots of occasions in US history in which armed resistance was successfully used to defend against an oppressive government.

Given these and other developments, the advantage of an armed militia, well regulated or otherwise, seems highly unclear.

Perhaps from the perspective of a Canadian or an American. Yet look how well it's worked out for, say, Iraqis or Afghans.

Bernard, the most important points are that
a) there has never been a right to possess firearms in Germany in the first place. Even city militias got replaced by mercenaries in order to monopolize it for the state.
b) the first actual 'grab their guns' law was imposed by the WW1 victors through the Versailles treaty with the purpose to disarm not only the military but also all civilians who somehow go their hands on any firearms (I assume many simply kept their personal one from the war).
c) the first universal/federal gun law was introduced not by but against the Nazis (and other extremist groups on the right) and introduced the basic criteria still applied today, i.e. 'need', 'reliability' and 'competence'. It also for the first time introduced mandatory registration.
d) the Nazis basically applied the existing law with bias, i.e. Jews, gypsies etc. were denied the 'reliability' status* (that was later codified as part of the Nuremberg laws).
e) the Nazis actually made it easier for the general population to get access to firearms as part of their "Wehrertüchtigungs"-program, including dropping the reliability clause for almost anybody in most NS organisations (like the HJ).
With a (very big) grain of salt one could say that the nazis armed the population while the Democrats before and after them tried to do the opposite and that fear of politcial extremists (from the right in Weimar, more from the left after WW2) was the driving force.
The whole topic is quite complex but the one conclusion one can not draw in good faith from it is that the triumph of nazism was the result of nazi introduced gun control. But that is the most notorious zombie argument by the 2nders I encounter on the web.
One point where distortions are especially strong is in quoting specific restrictions introduced during the 1920ies. Those are in part for real (some are iirc simply made up) but what is (I assume deliberately) omitted is the fact that these 'restrictions' for the most parts replaced a total ban. E.g. detailed laws about the handling of ammo were not necessary before because it simply was illegal for those unconnected to the state to handle ammo in the first place.**

*this extended to the possession of any kind of weapon, in some cases a breadknife was used as a pretense for violation charges
**companies producing guns and ammo were usually directly involved with the military in some way or other and hunting has always been a privilege, so hunters were either state employees or under strict supervision.

People can talk all they want about having one just for self defense but I don't believe it. People I know who are not normally weird get weird when they start talking about guns. They get gorilla-ish. Grunting. Comparing their gun to the other guy's gun. They get touchy. They start telling stories about somebody somewhere who could hava avoided being robbed or raped if they had only had a gun. They start the Clint Eastwood fantasies.

Granted I am not acquainted with every gun owner in America. But there is some strange emotional thing that can go on with gun ownership. It's weirder than how people can get about car ownership or comparing collections of whatever. It's almost like that sick thing some people have for unneutered male pitbulls (It's not the dog's fault that people impose their fantasies on a breed, but that's another subject). It felt very liberating to me to throw the gun off the bridge. Farewell to being afraid!

I've known a few gun fetishists. I've known a lot more people who hunt or target shoot. I got my first gun, a .22 single shot rifle, when I was ten. I was an avid hunter and shooter for years and years. I still own more than a dozen guns of various kinds.

There is a ton of mind reading going on here. Let me roll this thought out: gun owners get nervous around people like Wonkie and many others here because (1) they are adults who don't like being judged, and they particularly don't like being judged in the manner that prevails among those who think like Wonkie and (2) similarly, gun owners have issues with people who take it upon themselves to tell gun owners what they can and cannot do.

The fringe babble about standing up to the state, watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and whatnot makes a useful but misleading foil. The more precise issue, from a gun owner's viewpoint, is that gun ownership is his/her right. Many citizens take their rights very seriously and they have real reservations about those who would suspend, revoke, limit or retrain anyone's rights.

"Many citizens take their rights very seriously and they have real reservations about those who would suspend, revoke, limit or retrain anyone's rights."
Indeed, and they should.
Owing a gun is not a basic human right.
250 years ago some people wrote on a piece of paper that people get to have guns. And now people seem to take that more seriously than the right of other to live in a safe(r) environment.
It doesn't make it a violation of holy scripture if law changed to more control/regulation of firearms.

To pour more oil on the fire, hunting is far from unambiguous too. I highly respect the true hunter who has the necessary skills and does his job responsibly. To hunt for food (but not to excess) or to keep a natural balance that was disturbed by e.g. removing natural predators (most hunting over here qualifies) is imo a honorable undertaking. But that is not what motivates a lot of people. They are interested just in the thrill of the kill and often even want the game presented to them since actual stalking takes too much effort. Trophy hunting from helicopters for me is the same category. I think one will find that all those guys that (claim to) want to hunt using assault weapons (fully automatic if available) are in this group and few if any in the former. I also know that there are few people more despised by the true hunters than these.
Famous examples: Chain-Eye, Scalia, Sarah Palin (although some may object to her being thrown in with this lot) and former GDR general secretary Erich Honecker. Former German emperor Wilhelm II was borderline but he at least had the excuse of being seriously handicapped and the bagged animals did not go to waste (and I believe that it was not just for PR that most of it went to charity).

I might add that I would not hunt even given the opportunity because I fear I would not be up to standard. And I would not fish if I had to do the gutting afterwards. No problem with eating the fish, and only once our family had some trouble because we caught a bit more than we could eat on the last day of the holidays.

I have an uncle and a brother-in-law that are both avid firearms people, both avid hunters, but neither of them is fetishist about either activity, and they both eat what they kill.

They haven't met each other, and live in completely different parts of the country. One is a Democrat, and the other a Republican. I like and respect both of them. I'd let them watch my kids, and have.

Just as surely as there are weirdo firearms owners, there are also plenty of non-weirdos. People who like what they do, want to continue doing it, and are serious and responsible about these potentially dangerous objects that they own.

Just to answer anecdote in kind.

'Owing a gun is not a basic human right. '

Disagree.

Self-defense is a basic human right. An individual in possession of a handgun has an equalizer for self-defense, without generating any harm to others in the absence of such need. Thus, owning a gun is a basic human right.

Of course I was mindreading. I get to do that. I get to interpete incoming info including bodylannguage, tone of voice, facial expression: so do you. It is possible that some of the fearposturing and hypermachismo comes from being defensive about anticipated criticism but isn't that what I said? That people who are really into guns seem to have fear/power issues?

The second line is the tell: gun owners hav e issues with people who tell them what they can or cannot do.


In what fantasy world can people own something that can be used to kill other people intentionally or accidentially and not be told by the potential victoms what to do in regard to management of that item? Why on earth would a person who has a potentially lethal item be afraid of regulation of the item? Seems like the knowledge that the item is potentially lethal would lead a reasonable person to assume that there should be some regulations imposed on its use and availability.

Cute bumper sticker I saw: If they outlaw guns, only outlaws will accidentally kill their children.


Not that anyone is trying to outlaw guns altogether.

IMO the issue with gun violence in the US has less to do with guns and more to do with US culture. Not that guns are irrelevant to the issue, just that the mere presence of guns is not why violence is so prevalent here.

Also IMO, the closest thing in the modern world to what the folks who wrote the 2nd Amendment had in mind is the Swiss military. Most men, and a lot of women, participate for a significant portion of their early adulthood. All of the folks who participate *are required* to keep a fully automatic weapon (rifle or pistol) and a stock of ammunition in their home.

After aging out of militia service, folks are allowed to keep their weapon if they like, and many do. The automatic loading feature is disabled in that case.

In a nation of about 7.6 million people, there are something like 1.5 to 3 million firearms in private households. There are lots and lots of active gun clubs and ranges, and lots of people shoot target and hunt. The Swiss have active gun rights groups.

The Swiss like firearms. They like to shoot.

All from here, there's more around on the topic if you look around a bit.

The rate of firearm homicide in Switzerland as of 2000 was 0.56 per 100,000. Slightly high for Europe, but only slightly. Comparable to Canada.

The rate of firearm homicide in the US in the same period was 3.97 per 100,000. Comparable to Costa Rica, or Belarus. Not as bad as Zimbabwe.

Those rates are from here.

The problem isn't that there are a lot of guns around in the US. Although there are probably a lot of people in this country who have guns who should not have them.

The problem is that Americans shoot each other a lot. We don't just like to shoot, we like to shoot people. We play games about shooting people, we watch movies about shooting people, we sing and listen to songs about shooting people.

Americans are violent. That is the problem.

I get to interpete incoming info including bodylannguage, tone of voice, facial expression: so do you.

We also get to misinterpret, due to our incomplete knowledge of what's going on behind the other person's face. That's the nature of interpersonal communications: horribly, completely flawed. If you didn't take active measures to ensure that you really heard what you thought you heard, odds are that you left a third of the conversation on the floor.

Best, I think, to treat your interpretations of what people say with some degree of suspicion.

gun owners hav e issues with people who tell them what they can or cannot do

News flash: nearly everyone has issues with people who tell them what they can or cannot do. It's practically hardwired into our personalities.

Self-defense is a basic human right. An individual in possession of a handgun has an equalizer for self-defense, without generating any harm to others in the absence of such need. Thus, owning a gun is a basic human right.

I absolutely, 100% agree that self-defense is a basic human right -- I'd go so far as to almost call it a moral imperative -- but this is not so neat and tidy a proof as you seem to imagine. Replace "handgun" with the name of nearly any other weapon imaginable, and it should be clear.

News flash: nearly everyone has issues with people who tell them what they can or cannot do. It's practically hardwired into our personalities.

From wonkie's anectdote, which included things that people actually said, it sounds like the issue was that at least some of those people had a problem with people who didn't exist - they were paranoid, in the non-clinical sense (maybe in the clinical sense, too). They had overblown fears of being controlled by others (i.e. "liberals").


'The problem isn't that there are a lot of guns around in the US. Although there are probably a lot of people in this country who have guns who should not have them.

The problem is that Americans shoot each other a lot. We don't just like to shoot, we like to shoot people. We play games about shooting people, we watch movies about shooting people, we sing and listen to songs about shooting people.

Americans are violent. That is the problem.'

Russell:

Agree with your first point here. And some of the difference between firearm deaths in Switzerland and America is likely that almost universal training the Swiss get. Without researching, I also suspect the American rates are skewed toward metro areas and areas where there are extreme gun control laws. It is well known that there are numerous guns in New York or Chicago, and by mere possession, those folks have already shown their disregard for the law.

Your 'we Americans' in the last part is a mite too generic, since those who actually shoot people, unjustly, are a small number.

I agree with Rusell, too. I wonder why we have more violent citizen countries that are otherwise comparable to us?

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Whatnot


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