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December 02, 2012

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I find it hard to imagine that the substitution effect of bladed or blunt instruments for firearms in murders would be statistically significant. There's a degree of intimacy and contact in that kind of killing that isn't present when a perpetrator shoots someone.

It's a simple matter for some rageoholic to pull out a gun and escalate an argument into a murder, like in the story I linked to above. It's a whole different thing to stab or bludgeon them to incapacitation, let alone death.

If Brett is claiming a significant substitution effect in the UK, he's gonna need a cite. Not that he ever provides them.

"Too bad places like DC and Chicago weren't allowed to deal with that situation."

Huh?

DC and Chicago have the toughest handgun laws around (excepting Bloombergville).

"I find it hard to imagine that the substitution effect of bladed or blunt instruments for firearms in murders would be statistically significant."

Well, once gun murders are sentenced and in prison they seem to readily adapt to use of shanks and shivs with lethal effect.

"It's a simple matter for some rageoholic to pull out a gun and escalate an argument into a murder..."

That's your fantasy opinion. A rageoholic (seriously, what's that any how- would I find it in the DSM4?) by definition of "rage" would probably use any object/tool available. Plenty of people, especially women, are beaten, bludgeoned and stabbed by people that I imagine would meet your definition of "rageoholic".

Is it so hard to imagine that if access to guns was restricted further that there would be at least a shift to about 50% homicides comitted with other methods?

and is it so hard to imagine that a lot of those homicides would end up as assault? or that they wouldn't be attempted at all?

it's pretty tough to road-rage-murder the guy driving next to you on the highway with a knife.

A rageoholic by definition of "rage" would probably use any object/tool available.

Consider the recent case in FL where a rageaholic shot a teenager in a parking lot because he was playing his music too loud. Do you really think that guy would have climbed into the teenagers' vehicle, clambered over the other teenagers, got into the backseat, and stabbed him to death if he had a knife but no gun?

I don't know the exact definition of rageaholic but I think anyone who shoots someone dead over the loudness of their music outside a convenience store definitely qualifies.

Did somebody fart? I smell something.

As there has been in England, by the way.

I don't think comparisons between western European countries and the US lead to a strong case for your side, Brett.

Whatever garbled arguments you advance, their homicide rates are about one quarter of ours.

You, and blackhawk, and anyone else can advance al sorts of explanations, but if you can't admit that easy access to guns is a major factor in the discrepancy then your are just ignoring facts ypu find unpleasant.

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?id=8770014

http://www.stlucianewsonline.com/update-homicide-victim-was-savagely-beaten-to-death-eyewitnesses-allege/

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-04-03/delhi/28033079_1_road-rage-pramod-youths

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/man-custody-wife-found-beaten-death-home-police-sources-article-1.1211826

and so on and so forth, ad nuaseum.

People, especially people in a rage, beat others to death all of the time.

From a purely scientific perspective, you have to prove that "easy access to guns is a major factor" and that substitution of other methods for guns does not/would not exist. You have merely assumptions based on your own wishful thinking. You have not proof at all.

People, especially people in a rage, beat others to death all of the time.

oh fer crying out loud.

your link to http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/ links to the data which shows that people shoot each other to death more than 10x more frequently than they beat each other to death.

2004: 10,600 gunshot fatalities vs 759 blunt object fatalities
2005: 11,000 vs 671

10x huh? Is that like the difference between a terabyte and a yottabyte?

From a purely scientific perspective, you have to prove that "easy access to guns is a major factor" and that substitution of other methods for guns does not/would not exist.

Is that true? Wouldn't it be a matter of determining how substitutable other methods of killing and injuring are for shootings? Does it have to be zero? What if only half of the shooting deaths or injuries would have occurred by other means? Or a quarter? Or a tenth?

Why would anyone go to the trouble of getting a gun when hammers and knives are so readily available? Doesn't the logic go both ways?

cleek, it's pretty dishonest of you to exclude the 2,147 homocides by knife and the 2,528 by other weapon in 2005.

Let's see 671 + 2,528 + 2,147 = 5,346

So guns killed 2X as many as other weapons attacks not 10X.

However, the data you cite states specifically that it is "homocides by weapon type". Does it speak to homocides where no weapon was involved, such as a bare fist beat down? No. It does not. The bureau terms such crimes as "homicide by force".

Homocide by force accounted for approximately another 833 victims. Homocide by arson, another 116. Call it an even 1,000 total.

Now we have 6,346 versus 11,000, less than 1.73 times more killed by guns.

Considering the UK homicide rate of 1.1 versus the US rate of 5.4, reducing the US rate by half (removing all guns from the equation and assuming no substitution of other methods) the US would still have a homicide rate 3X the UK rate.

So tell me again that guns are the problem and people are not.

Fer crying out loud. It must be nice to avoid all facts and data so one can live out one's life in the world of one's opinions.

So tell me again that guns are the problem and people are not.

"Both" is not an option?

"... that true? Wouldn't it be a matter of determining how substitutable other methods of killing and injuring are for shootings?"

Yes. You are right. How substitutable another method is must be considered.

Anyone can fatally stab with a knife.

Anyone can fatally crack a skull with a golf club.

Anyone can fatally poison.

Golf clubs and baseball bats can be used just as spontaineously as a gun and just as, perhaps more so, effectively.

What amazes me about the so called mass shootings is that more people don't get killed. A determined killer could kill just as many by walking into a high school with a bat and hitting people over the head.

Moreover, a bomb, properly made, would do better than a machine gun.

Some people here seem to think there is some sort of ickiness factor, like guns are easy because you shoot your victim from a distance, it's impersonal, less messy, etc. than using a knife or club. Well impulse killers don't stop to consider ickiness (right? They're raging). Nor do serious premeditated murderers.

A lot of gang bangers really don't know how to use a gun properly. Resorting to bats and knives would require a culture shift for them, but I'm sure they'd make the adjustment and I think the death toll would ultimately be higher than what they accomplish with lousy firearm technique.

In reverse order

Some people here seem to think

Blackhawk, I would appreciate it if you exchanged your broader brush for something a bit more exact. No one has said this, and you are inferring this.

cleek, it's pretty dishonest of you

This formulation could have been phrased as 'I don't think you are including...' or 'maybe you missed...'

Both of these seem to be based on the fact that you sincerely believe you already know what people think. You don't, so please avoid this sort of mind reading in the future.

point taken LJ. I will endeavor to be more circumspect in my wording.

And what of our dear friend phil with his bodily function references? Is he conforming to ObWi expected level of discourse?

Just curious.

Right blackhawk. A guy can just go up on a stage in a movie theater and start throwing knives and kill a lot of people that way.

Is there some substitutability? Yes. But don't be ridiculous. If someone comes at you with a baseball bat you can:

1. Run away
2. Try to fend off the blows, or wrestle the bat away
3. Yell for help while trying either 1 or 2.

A bullet coming at you doesn't leave you with those alternatives.

A determined killer could kill just as many by walking into a high school with a bat and hitting people over the head.

?

Some people here seem to think there is some sort of ickiness facto

No, not ickiness. Just lower risk to the perpetrator, and all-around greater effectiveness.

I note that there is no military in the freaking world armed with baseball bats. There is, no doubt, a good reason for that.

Look, I believe we have more than arrived at the level of pointlessness.

The US has an extraordinarily high level of gun ownership. It is, again, extraordinarily easy in the US for a private individual to obtain a gun, or even many guns.

The US also has an unusually high rate of murder. And lo and behold, most of those murders are committed with guns.

Your argument appears to be that there is NO RELATIONSHIP between these things. If gun ownership was not so widespread, we would off each other at more or less the same rate with candlesticks, like a nation of Colonel Mustards in our respective libraries.

Who knows, you could be right.

What is plainly in evidence is that (a) Americans own a huge teeming big old sh*tpile of guns, and (b) we shoot each other a lot.

That's in cities, natch, in rural areas we shoot ourselves. I guess if nobody else is around, our own heads are the best available target.

In any case, those are the plain facts. Make of it what you will.

"Right blackhawk. A guy can just go up on a stage in a movie theater and start throwing knives and kill a lot of people that way."

No. But a guy could chain the doors of a theater and ignite a fire bomb inside. Or he could release some home made mustard gas. Or he could walk down an isle pithing unwitting viewers in the base of the skull with an ice pick. I'll bet no one would figure out was happening until 6 to 12 people were killed. Let's not forget what a few guys with box cutters pulled off, body count wise, a few years ago. Shall I continue?

My guess is the bomb would be the most likely substitute for jammed assualt rifles in crazed maniac circles.

"But don't be ridiculous. If someone comes at you with a baseball bat you can:

1. Run away
2. Try to fend off the blows, or wrestle the bat away
3. Yell for help while trying either 1 or 2.

I don't think so. Test it. Have a confederate wield something safe (maybe one of those plastic bats - whiffle bats). Tell him to attack you with it without unrestrained homicidal fury. See if you can escape without blows that would be bone crushingly fatal if the bat was real.

Do this in several settings. In your house, in a parking lot, on a street.

Go on. Seriously. Try it. I used to teach this stuff. I already know how it will turn out. Most always, you "die".

"A bullet coming at you doesn't leave you with those alternatives."

Depends.

ughh....attack you *with* unrestrained fury

"I note that there is no military in the freaking world armed with baseball bats. There is, no doubt, a good reason for that."

Yes. There is. But we are not talking about the military where you are laying down suppressive fire from 300 meters away (and causing remarkably few casualties depsite the number of bullets fired).

We are talking about civilians murdering each other, which, even with guns, happens within a distance of a few feet.

Blackhawk, you should worry about what you can control (i.e. what you write) rather than concern yourself with what you can't control. Otherwise, you turn this into a kindergarten classroom where you are constantly running to the teacher says 'Phil hit me!'.

Phil, there's no need to rattle cages. Thanks

"I don't think comparisons between western European countries and the US lead to a strong case for your side, Brett."

Doesn't lead to a strong case for your side, either, if you don't insist on making the analysis moronically simplistic. Do you really think the only difference between nations is their gun laws? Don't you have these things called "confounding variables" you need to control for?

Now, let me return to a point: The firearms homicide rate varies from place to place within the US by several orders of magnitude, even within jurisdictions having the same gun laws. An enormously greater variation than that between jurisdictions with different gun laws.

That means that, even if gun laws/ownership is a variable influencing rates of firearms homicide, there are other variables hundreds of times more influential on the rate. If this weren't the case, if only gun ownership and laws were influencing the rate, it would be very difficult indeed to explain why the city of Chicago has a higher, not lower, rate of homicide than Fargo North Dakota. 15 per 100K, vs 1, in some years zero, per 100K. Surely it can't be that the rate of gun ownership in Fargo is a fifteenth that in Chicago!

Now, I don't know how deep your understanding of using statistics to test hypothesis goes, but let me lay it on the line: In the presence of really, REALLY strong confounding variables, it is essentially impossible to achieve statistical significance as to the effect of weak variables.

And we know from US statistics, for an absolute incontrovertible fact, that there are variables driving homicide rates which utterly dwarf the effect of gun ownership rates and gun laws.

The bottom line is, only two groups of people, in light of these facts, attempt to use international comparisons to 'prove' anything about the effects of gun ownership on murder rates:

Morons and liars.

Well, and the utterly ignorant, too; But they're generally being fed the comparisons by one of the first two groups.

International comparisons are dumb? IIRC, you were the one who introduced an international comparison, with an unsupported claim - despite your alleged statistical rigor - to bolster your argument. So suddenly they are useless?

No Brett, I don't think the only difference is gun laws.

But it is certainly a difference. Now I do happen to know some statistics, and I do understand that there can be other variables involved. OK. So what? What are they? You haven't identified one yet. And does their presence mean we should ignore gun law differences? Yet those differences are much stronger and clearer across countries than in the US. But let's not talk about them, right? Because you don't like what they imply.

And what if those patterns in the US are replicated, on a smaller scale, in European countries? Do you think only the US has geographic variation in homicide rates? So some of these other factors are creating geographic variation there as well.

Call me all the names you want, Brett. It doesn't help your arguments.

I may not have identified WHAT the other variables are, (Mainly because I know what you lot would start screaming if I did.) but I have most assuredly demonstrated that there ARE other variables, and that they're much more influential on the murder rate.

Are there similar variations in other countries? Absolutely! The point is that a 2% variation in a confounding variable that's 100 times as powerful as gun ownership will swamp the effects of gun ownership, whatever they might be. The demonstrated existence of vastly more powerful confounding variables requires that you control for them, and to a high degree of precision, in order to have any hope of detecting a variation based on gun ownership.

And yet, when you see these comparisons, do you ever see that effort to control for the confounding variables, let along to do so to two or three place accuracy? No, you don't. Rarely even do people making such comparisons even admit it's necessary take confounding variable into account.

Complicating the situation is the fact that the US is essentially the one, solitary outlier in terms of gun ownership in advanced nations. The experimental group has only one member!

These factors all make international comparisons as a way to determine the effects of gun ownership effectively impossible to do in a meaningful fashion. They are nothing but rank propaganda, and generally know to be such by the people originating them.

"IIRC, you were the one who introduced an international comparison, with an unsupported claim - despite your alleged statistical rigor - to bolster your argument."

No, I was not. I assume you're referring to my comment, "As there has been in England, by the way." It was in response to Blackhawk's remark that, "And then there would be a liberal outcry demanding knives and ballpean hammers to be banned?"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4581871.stm>
Doctors' kitchen knives ban call
Knife
Doctors say knives are too pointed
A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

Not a comparison, merely noting that his prediction had already proven out.

the US is essentially the one, solitary outlier in terms of gun ownership in advanced nations. The experimental group has only one member!

And in homicide rates.

Yes, and if you have big control group, give the drug to one patient, and he dies, just exactly how certain, statistically, are you that the drug did it, and he didn't just have an aneurism already?

Desperately wanting to think something has been proven doesn't make inadequate data into good data. You want to study the effects of gun ownership and gun laws, you need political entities with which independently vary guns and other things, and you need many of them to achieve statistical significance. Aren't enough countries to do that.

You can start to do it within the US, though, if you go to a level smaller than the state, like maybe congressional districts or zip codes.

But even then you've got to be clear: There are other things besides guns effecting levels of violence, and those other things have a HUGE effect. You simply can NOT attribute every difference you see to guns.

Not if you mean to be honest, anyway.

"Not if you mean to be honest, anyway."

OK, Brett, please take it down a notch, we don't need the implications of dishonesty. And a general appeal for reasoned discussion, (preferably with links) is addressed to everyone. Thanks.

I didn't mean you, specifically. Apologies if you thought otherwise.

The types of guns people have access to, however, does make a difference.

Brett, you might have gotten confused. I haven't really weighed in on this thread, so I think that you might have me and Bernard confused and I wasn't complaining about me being called dishonest. I was simply asking for more care in your formulations about being dishonest. Thanks for your attention to this.

Yay, sports!

Wait, what?

A determined killer could kill just as many by walking into a high school with a bat and hitting people over the head

Are there really people who actually believe this?

bob, sports are boring - except horse racing and boxing and cowboy action shooting.

Yes, there probably are people who actually believe this. I think they'd likely have to wait until class change to pull it off, though.

Personally, my favorite example is that somebody could kill as many people driving an SUV off the road and over pedestrians. Or getting a job at McDonalds and poisoning the food.

L.J., not confused. I didn't mean you in particular, because I didn't mean anybody in particular. That particular construction, "You could", is a notorious flaw in English grammar.

"The types of guns people have access to, however, does make a difference."

So, the murder rate in some neighborhoods in Detroit is fifty or a hundred times greater than the rest of the state, because different types of guns are available in Detroit? How is this achieved? The Great Wall of Eight Mile, where everyone leaving the city is frisked, and kept from exporting their Vulcan miniguns to the rest of the state?

Anybody claiming that guns drive murder rates has to cope with the fact that murder rates vary independently from gun ownership and laws, and by a huge margin. The gun laws in Detroit aren't significantly different than rural Lapeer county, where I grew up leaving the door unlocked. Rates of gun ownership in Detroit couldn't be much higher in Detroit than rural Lapeer county, you can't get higher than 100%.

Which means that, if whatever variable is driving THAT variation has, by coincidence, even a slight accidental correlation with gun ownership, it's perfectly capable of spuriously producing the appearance of gun ownership causing murders.

Even if that slight coincidental variation is between England and the US, rather than Montana and New York.

I'd really recommend, if your concern is reducing murder, rather than just depriving people of guns, that you inquire into why Detroit is a more dangerous place than Lapeer. Because it's simply impossible the difference is guns, and it *might* be due to something that we can effect without violating part of the Bill of Rights.

When all the sound and fury is over and done with, the question I'm always left with (and confounded by) is:

Why do Americans kill each other so often?

Gun, poison, run over with an SUV, baseball bat, throw out a window, or even any of Blackhawk's perversely inventive examples. Whatever.

Why do Americans kill each other so often? WTF is wrong with us?

And it ain't all gang-bangers. There are something like 16K-17K murders per year in the US, maybe 10% of them are gang-related.

And it ain't all murders, for that matter. In firearm deaths, specifically, suicides outnumber homicides.

Americans kill themselves, and each other, in alarmingly large numbers. That seems like a problem, to me.

I frankly don't care if anybody owns a gun or not. I know so many people who own guns that I wouldn't have time to think about anything else if I was going to worry about it.

Guns, no guns, whatever. It's the shooting ourselves, or other people, with guns part that I find disturbing.

Oh for crying out loud, Brett. Obvioulsy guns vary in how much damage they can do, as do bullets.

I'd imagine there is more chance of a person spraying bullets around a recreational baseball batting cage than bashing folks in the heads with baseball bats when the balky batting machines cause rage among the clientele.

Since we've brought bats up as a weapon of choice on a par with the guns at Columbine, the high school (my house was two miles from the place that awful day), there is the real life incident in 1965 of Juan Marichal turning around in a fit of rage while at bat and trying to club catcher John Roseboro in the noggin with his bat that we could use as a jumping off point.

I'm glad Marichal chose the bat as a weapon over a small concealed pistol, because I doubt Roseboro would have survived that one.

In fact, we've had baseball bats in the hands of enraged baseball players for roughly a century and a half and not much has transpired in the way of killing.

I'd be willing to conduct a social experiment in violation of the Bill of Rights of folks in certain sections of Detroit and confiscate all of the firepower and hand out baseball bats and SUVs and see how the murder rate fares.

I doubt just "inquiring" about the more violent nature of certain sections of Detroit would do much to stem the murder rate.

Let's do a sort of opposite experiment to my Detroit deal and arm major, minor, and sandlot ball players with handguns (maybe keeping more high caliber guns in the dugout in a rack) and then take away their bats and see what happens.

I suspect mass poisonings at McDonald's would be more prevalent if we hadn't, you know, "BANNED" various poisons from the vicinity of restaurants and such, though the following question does present itself: "Have you tried the McNuggets lately?"

I'm sure restaurant poisonings and mass gangland SUV killings would soar if firearms weren't so readily available.

I suspect Johan Belcher's girlfriend would be increasingly a little green around the gills and maybe experiencing some alarming hair loss right about now if he hadn't possessed a gun.

She's be telling her doctor, "Yes, my boyfriend does all the cooking. Why do you ask? You know, now that you mention it, three times in the last few weeks Johan has backed the SUV into the garage at an alarming rate of speed too just as I was putting out the garbage. He's been depressed lately and is still having dizziness from that concussion while playing last year. Don't you go asking bout guns now, Doc, because it's illegal in Florida for doctors to ask about guns in a private citizens home. And if you keep asking me bout SUV and poison use, I'm going to contact my state congressman."

Because it's not rat poison in the food that kills people, it's people that put rat poison in the food that kills people, though the rats would differ with that rhetorical formulation.

A perfectly reasonable example, given the questions raised here.

In closing, when the dreaded and deadly notorious flaw in English usage, "you could", or its equivalents like "you should" or "well, you would, wouldn't you" inadvertently go off in my hand around here when I'm in a fit of rage and specific individuals are wounded or killed by the shrapnel or the odd stray rhetorical bullets, FIRST I try banning (in violation of my own private First Amendment) that usage in my commentary (never works for long because the usage is in inexhaustible supply and is laying around and so easy to pick up in a fit of pique) and when that doesn't work, I ban myself for awhile from these environs, although I'd admit to sneaking over to Balloon Juice for some recreational target practice during the down time.

It's not particular constructions of English usage that wound people, its people who wound people.

You (arrghhh, not you, YOU!) could just as well have run lj over (collateral damage, i realize, you were talking to me, weren't you ;) ) with an SUV or put lye in his scrapple, but you didn't because that particular English usage was so easy to use and carry on your person.

This is fun.

I'm kind of shocked that Laura's point about gun types is controversial. I mean, rural areas with low gun death rates tend to have a lot more hunting rifles. High crime areas with much higher gun death rates tend to have a lot more handguns than hunting rifles. Gun violence in Iraq? Lots and lots and lots of AKs.

Some might counter that the paucity of game, like deer, in urban Detroit, has made humans more tasty, since we're trying to get to the bottom of this.

cleek, it's pretty dishonest of you to exclude the 2,147 homocides by knife and the 2,528 by other weapon in 2005.

dishonest? what the fnck?

in the text that i quoted from you, you were talking about people beating each other to death. so those are the stats i typed out.

don't be an ass.

The bottom line is that Smith and Wesson reports quarterly earnings today.

SUV sales are up too, so never mind.

Go long rat poison. Short rats.

Resorting to bats and knives would require a culture shift for them, but I'm sure they'd make the adjustment and I think the death toll would ultimately be higher than what they accomplish with lousy firearm technique.

At least the little kids down the street wouldn't get hit by a stray knife or bat.

Why do people bother to use guns so prevalently if all these other things are just as good? Of all the myraid ways one might try to kill someone else, why are guns used "in about 68% of murders" (according to Blackhawk)? If people would, were guns unvailable, simply move to other methods, in sufficient numbers to result in similar overall murder rates, why is the distribution of methods of killing so heavily weighted toward guns now? Most of the other methods are readily available, even moreso than guns are. (I don't even need to take the bat with me to the mall. I can grab one of any type off the rack, after careful consideration of which would be of the best size and weight, and start swinging.)

Look, maybe gun laws wouldn't matter as a practical matter because people would just get guns illegally. Maybe gun laws are unconstitutional. Maybe there's some other factor driving homocide/suicide by firearm in this country. But this crap about people just killing each other with bats and knives and poisons at the same rates they do now with guns is just plain stupid. It's juvenile, like a junior high-level argument. It's hard to believe that anyone would propose such bunk on this blog. I mean, WTF?

"I'm kind of shocked that Laura's point about gun types is controversial."

I'm kind of shocked that a proposition for which there is no objective evidence would be claimed to NOT be contraversial. But confusion about the difference between correlation and causation IS endemic, isn't it.

Personally, my favorite example is that somebody could kill as many people driving an SUV off the road and over pedestrians. Or getting a job at McDonalds and poisoning the food.

And yet, here we find ourselves, where those two things (aside from the former being caused by drunk, elderly and incompetent drivers) are trivial in the realm of homicide statistics. Why, oh why, is that?

That particular construction, "You could", is a notorious flaw in English grammar.

It can be fixed with a single word substitution: "One could . . ." It's not a flaw at all, it's user error.

I got hammered the other day and thought about suicide, but the cave was dark and the bats were hard to catch.

So, life goes on.

"High crime areas with much higher gun death rates tend to have a lot more handguns than hunting rifles."

And hunting rifles are far more deadly than handguns; marginally (if at all) more cumbersome to use, orders of magnitude more effective. So that works against you.

"don't be an ass."

What ever. My point still stands. Guns only kill 1.74 times as many as other methods. Orders of magnitude count, so I am told.

"Why do people bother to use guns so prevalently if all these other things are just as good?"

Well, if someone is empty handed, then they can be easily killed with a bat or a knife. If someone has a bat or a knife, then you want a gun because you can distance yourself from the bat or knife. A gun allows one to kill from a greater distance. It's an arms race.

If I had to make a choice between a 9mm round to the torso or a full power wsing of a bat to head, I'd take my chances with the 9mm round.

Guns are culurally, the American choice.

"But this crap about people just killing each other with bats and knives and poisons at the same rates they do now with guns is just plain stupid"

Your opinion only. Until recently, the Mexican cultural choice was the knife and lot's of homicides in that country were done with knives, more than guns.

Russell has arrived at the proper conclusion; Americans are violent and have a penchant for killing each other and themselves. Guns are merely the tool and removing them does not cure the penchant.

Why the kill lust?

Cultural. 1.America was built on violence. It's part of our mythos. You can't watch cable tv for more than a few minutes without witnessing a bunch of murders. Murder is every where in our American life.
2. America has a heterogeneous population with significant economic disparities. Where we have enclaves of the same in Europe, we have violence. But Europe is more homogeneous over-all.


But mostly 1.

And hunting rifles are far more deadly than handguns; marginally (if at all) more cumbersome to use, orders of magnitude more effective.

Try shoving one into your waistband. And hunting rifles are more effective if you know how to use one. You've already mentioned that gang-bangers don't. They just point and shoot according to their natural inclination, right? If you're running low to get behind a car and blindly shooting backward for cover with one hand in a street melee, a hunting rifle will be for crap, besides being kind of hard to walk around town with.

Really, this is the same argument as the gun v. poison/bat/knife, just at another level. If hunting rifles are so much better, why do people (including cops!) bother with handguns?

Look, maybe gun laws wouldn't matter as a practical matter because people would just get guns illegally. Maybe gun laws are unconstitutional. Maybe there's some other factor driving homocide/suicide by firearm in this country.

Yep, some things can't be fixed. Human nature and the peculiarities of our particular and diverse* society.


*'Diverse' in the dictionary sense, as in 'varied', as in 'made of many different types' and not as in 'diversity' in the race/ethnic context.

Here's an article on knife violence/homicide in Britain.

http://www.mail-archive.com/firearmsregprof@lists.ucla.edu/msg00867.html

It's a real and growing problem. Guns account for only 9% of homicides there.

It's easy to just say substitution won't happen because it helps your argument to do so, but the facts and history say it can and does.

My point still stands.

OMFG

It's easy to just say substitution won't happen...

I smell straw, and the lack of a middle.

I'd be open to Ted Nugent going into Detroit and doing a hunting rifle/crossbow trade for every single handgun and then collecting murder stats.

As an aside, the House of Representatives voted to ban the federal government's use of the term "lunatic" in all future medical and other pronouncements.

The vote passed 398 to 1, with Louis Gohmert
(L-word-Texas) the loner dissenter.

Gohmert cited the added expense to taxpayers of changing the letterhead on his office stationary, printing up new business cards, and the fact that he kind likes it that the Speaker must say "The Lunatic from Texas cedes one minute of his time to the Lunatic from Florida" when addressing him on C-Span among the reasons for his vote.

On the surface this has nothing to do with guns, but a few seconds of thought leads one to the question: "How we gonna know who to shoot first, or run over with an SUV, or poison when Texas secedes from the Union?

the cave was dark and the bats were hard to catch.

So, life goes on.

bobbyp FTW.

Why the kill lust?

Cultural.

Glad to see you've come around.

The context of Blackhawk's 9% figure, with emphasis added:

Of the 839 homicides in England and Wales in the 12 months ending Nov. 28 — the most recent period for which Home Office figures are available — 29% involved sharp instruments including knives, blades and swords. Firearms account for just 9% of murders in Britain. The murder rate in Britain is 15 per million people.

The U.S. murder rate is 55 per million, according to the FBI. Of those, 70% of murders were committed with firearms; just 14% involved knives or cutting instruments.

Whose argument is this supposed to support, exactly?

"If hunting rifles are so much better, why do people (including cops!) bother with handguns?"

Handguns are concealable, more easily carried while leaving the hands free and reasonably useful for encounters within a few feet of an opponent. With handgns there is less chance of stray rounds killing people and damaging property far from the scene. That's why.

Note that just about all cops these days also have shotguns and assualt rifles in their cars and/or at the station for the serious work.

You're really into an area that you know nothing about and it's obvious to me that you're wildly speculating and displaying considerable ignorance in the process.

A hunting rifle with a scope is far more accurate than a handgun with its short sight radius and less stable platform.

A bullet from a hunting rifle, say weighing 150 grains and traveling 2,800 feet per second is going to do a lot more damage and can do it from farther away than a handgun bullet weighing the same (or maybe less) traveling at 850 to 1,100 fett per second (depending on the caliber, barrel length, etc.

The rifle will also much better penetrate barriers such as car doors, walls of houses, etc

More of those pesky statiistics.

Agatha Christie's

Poison.

In answer to hairshirthedonist's question regarding whose argument anyway.

"The context of Blackhawk's 9% figure, with emphasis added...........Whose argument is this supposed to support, exactly?"

Mine. Divide the US homicide rate by 1.74 (which removes the gun factor entirely) and we are still killing each other at 3X the rate of the British. Additionally, knifings are becoming a serious problem in Britian. Contrary to some here seem to think, people can and will kill with knives if denied guns.

I think Brett's statistical analysis is also absolutely correct. I really don't see how anyone can argue with it other than on a purely emotional basis.

Emotional outcries are not a good basis to develop or enact policy

Handguns are concealable, more easily carried while leaving the hands free and reasonably useful for encounters within a few feet of an opponent. With handgns there is less chance of stray rounds killing people and damaging property far from the scene. That's why.

Aside from the stray rounds, that was my point.

Note that just about all cops these days also have shotguns and assualt rifles in their cars and/or at the station for the serious work.

I know this. My father had a shotgun in his squad car.

You're really into an area that you know nothing about and it's obvious to me that you're wildly speculating and displaying considerable ignorance in the process.

It may look that way to you, only because you seem to be missing the damned point being made at nearly every turn.

Divide the US homicide rate by 1.74 (which removes the gun factor entirely)...

Before you go on about statistics, you should explain your logic here.

Emotional outcries are not a good basis to develop or enact policy

And clearly gun advocates have absolutely no emotional investment in their position.

I've never seen an argument about gun ownership, or the 2nd Amendment, or any other topic touching on firearms, where the opinion of anybody on the pro-gun side was moved, in any direction, by as much as a millimeter.

People who are into guns are into guns. You might as well argue about whether small mouth or large mouth bass are the better game fish. Or who was the best captain of the Starship Enterprise.

Folks who are into guns are *really really* into them.

The US leads the world in percentage of households with guns (about 40%) and in the number of guns per capita (not quite 1 gun per man woman and child). Most folks that own any guns at all own more than one.

We f***king love, love, love guns. Love them.

If you want a gun, have a gun. It would be a really good idea if you also understood WTF you were doing so that you don't kill somebody else while pursuing your hobby, so if you don't mind get some training. But if you want a gun and aren't a blatantly obvious criminal or psychopath, you most likely will be more than welcome to own one.

All I ask is that you not bug me with talk about overthrowing the government, or being part of the 3%, or watering the tree of liberty. It just makes you sound like a paranoid lunatic. Enjoy your hobby and leave the rest of us the f**k alone, please.

That said:

The US *also* has a very high rate of death and physical harm by firearm. There are countries with fairly high rates of gun ownership - Norway, Finland, Switzerland - where that is not true. But here in the US, it by god is true.

So, we are both deeply attached to gun ownership, *and* we are prone to offing each other at a remarkable rate.

It seems fairly obvious to me that our high rate of mayhem by firearm is in some ways related to our extraordinarily high rate of gun ownership. Opportunity knocks, and all of that. There are, in fact, other ways to kill people, but guns are a really really really effective and low-risk (to the shooter) way to get it done.

So, what in other contexts might be a regrettable act of assault, in our context yields a dead body.

If you don't see the connection, fine with me, and I'm not going to argue the point, because to me it would be like arguing about whether, frex, skiing might result in a broken limb or not.

Life's too short.

But whether you accept that correlation or not, Americans are unusually prone to wreak mayhem on each other.

IMO that is FUBAR, and is evidence of some deep problems in our culture and society.

It would be, again IMO, worthwhile to look into that.

In terms of the substance of the issue, it's my understanding, from my limited exposure to the literature, that violent crime (with gun or not) is highly correlated to:

income disparity
poverty
lack of education and opportunity

So, maybe we should address some of that stuff.

"So, we are both deeply attached to gun ownership, *and* we are prone to offing each other at a remarkable rate."

But, are the two "we"s the same people?

russell, I couldn't agree with you more. We are not only in the same grid coordinate, we are walking the same patrol.

My objection is the gun control advocates' utter conviction that eliminating guns will eliminate murder. As you say, there is something else - something deeper - going on in America besides gun ownership, that is leading to us killing each other. It's something that you can't legislate away.

My only nuance is that as long as we have this other, apparently unadressed sick problem, I want to own and carry gun to protect myself from the people suffering from this homicidal malady. I object to a bunch of knee jerk legislate our problems away liberals telling me I can't have a fundemental right to self defense because some criminal fool might abuse that right.

I'm not, personally, that into guns. I don't hunt. I don't like killing animals for sport. I rarely even shoot targets any more. If the country was a safer place, or, even if I didn't have to occasionally leave my safe environment and go to high crime areas, I might not even own a gun. I am not a gun nut as you might be imagining I am.

Otherwise, I agree with you 100%.

Instead of focusing on guns as the problem and missing the point entirely, we should be investigating why we are so violent and what we might do to alleviate that to some extent.

My objection is the gun control advocates' utter conviction that eliminating guns will eliminate murder.

Then you're objecting to a position that is held by a vanishingly small number of people, perhaps no one at all.

Instead of focusing on guns as the problem and missing the point entirely, we should be investigating why we are so violent and what we might do to alleviate that to some extent.

No one is focusing on guns as the problem, just a problem, at least in the types and numbers we have in the US. And I, too, agree that we should be looking into why we are such a violent country. There is no need to miss any point.

With that, can you explain your 1.74 divisor, Blackhawk?

But, are the two "we"s the same people?

Unless you want to make the somewhat unlikely claim that gun owners never kill anyone, I'd say it's clear that the two populations overlap.

I have no idea if gun owners engage in physical violence any more or less than anyone else. I doubt it. In fact, I doubt that there is really any broad statement you can make about gun owners as a whole, other than that they own guns.

What does seem likely to me is that if someone is inclined to do violence on someone else, owning a gun makes it easier for them to do so.

No one is focusing on guns as the problem, just a problem

Precisely.

And, in fact, normally not "guns" in the abstract, but ownership of particular kinds of guns, and/or by particular people.

"My objection is the gun control advocates' utter conviction that eliminating guns will eliminate murder."

The only folks who hold that utter conviction have been murdered already.

It's like the utter conviction by no-limits-whatsover-First Amendment advocates that if every individual owned a weapon and was permitted to carry it where ever they like that murder,, not to mention stereo theft and discourtesy on the highways, would be eliminated.

Or it would be, if either conviction existed.

My conviction that I favor knife, SUV, and mass poisoning murder over murder via certain types of firearms is no where near as utter as my conviction that maybe firearms are easier to use in the heat of the moment, despite Blackhawk's conviction that he'd rather be gone after with a firearm than a baseball bat, a machete, or a hay baler.

I think I'd rather shoot myself when the time comes than beat myself to death with a baseball bat, drink poison, or drown myself in a vat of hemlock pesto (yum, pesto) because the first method would be easier and less liable to allow me second thoughts as I proceeded.

I might consider locking myself in an SUV and going the death-by-carbon monoxide route, but the FEDs have ruined that course of action with their damned emission regulations.

Somewhere up thread I considered offing myself with a pair of tweezers in both eyes, but I couldn't summon the conviction.

But I'll keep reading.

"With that, can you explain your 1.74 divisor, Blackhawk?"

Guns kill 11,000 according to cleek's FBI link. Also, according to the FBI non-gun/non-vehicular homicides are another 6,346. Thus guns kill 1.73 times as many as other methods. That's 11,000/6,346 = 1.73. Certainly not a overwhelming damnation of guns.

That said, I screwed up figure for what our murder rate would be compared to British if gun murders were removed and (a big "and") there was no substitution. British murder rate = 1.1, US = 5.4. 66% of US murders done with guns. Reduce 5.4 by 66% and you have a murder rate that is still 2X the British. We are twice as murderous as British even with a total ban on all guns.

At least I can admit when I am wrong. That's a lot more than can be said for a lot of people that comment here.

"No one is focusing on guns as the problem, just a problem,"

What's interesting to me is that there is ample evidence that violent medias (movies, video games, gangster rap, etc) definitely is a strong correlate, if not cause, of US violence.

I am wondering if any of you legislate-it-all-away libs would be for censorship of the media in your effort to make the country "safe". Hmmmm? Well?

No one here has explained to me why I should not be allowed to have a gun to defend myself against my disproportionately homicidal fellow Amnericans.

FBI statistics also show that both murderer and victim are significantly more likely to be male and be between the ages of 17 and 25.

In the interest of public safety should we monitor testosterone levels and castrate - chemically or by knife - all males in excess of a certain "dangerous level"? Maybe just lock them up until they're 26?

Just how far do you want to go with your public safety program?

It looks like young male is more highly correalted with murder than gun ownership.

So? Remove them?

Just for the heck of it, I thought I’d take a stab (get it?) at the numbers from Blackhawk’s cite regarding UK and US murder rates, particularly murders by gun and knife.

If you simply want to remove gun homicides from the US per capita stat, all other things remaining equal, take 55 and multiply by 0.3 to get 16.5. That puts the US murder rate at only 10% greater than the UK’s rate of 15. It also makes us way stabbier than the UK, jacking our stabbing percentage up to 47% (dividing 14% by 0.3), as opposed to their already super-stabby rate of 29%, though or total murder rate is only 30% of what it was.

But, to be fair, the UK does have gun homicides, representing 9% of their total. So let’s throw enough gun homicides back into the US total such that they represent 9% of the total by solving x/(x+16.5) = 0.09 to get 1.6. So the new total is 18.1. Now we’re about 21% killier than the UK, and still stabbier as well, with a stabbiness of 42%, though our total murder rate is a third of what it originally was.

Now let’s add enough gun homicides back in to get our stabbiness down to the UK levels. 29/47 = 0.62. So, if we divide 16.5 by 0.62, we get 26.6, meaning we’d have to add 10.1 gun homicides/M to our gun homicide-free rate of 16.5. Now our gun homicide percentage is 38%, still a lot higher than the UK’s. But our total murder rate is just a bit less than half of what it originally was, now that we’ve made ourselves equally stabby in terms of percentage of total homicides.

"Then you're objecting to a position that is held by a vanishingly small number of people, perhaps no one at all."

That is clearly a delusional statement.

Crossed up, I see. Note that I'm using your cite for the numbers, Blackhawk, which accounts for the discrepancies between your post and mine.

No one here has explained to me why I should not be allowed to have a gun to defend myself against my disproportionately homicidal fellow Amnericans.

As far as I know, no one has suggested such a thing, which means there would be no need to expain it.

That is clearly a delusional statement.

So you can demonstrate that someone has advocated the total removal of all firearms from the United States and that this person believes such will result in a zero murder rate?

"As far as I know, no one has suggested such a thing, which means there would be no need to expain it."

Then what have you and your like minded budies been jawing off about here for the past few hundred comments? Guns are bad. Guns kill. Get rid off guns and the murder rate will drop......seriously wtf?

Just whining?

Well, if I said I think we should ban fully automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines and put tighter restrictions on handguns, would that mean you couldn't own a gun and potentially defend yourself with it?

"Well, if I said I think we should ban fully automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines and put tighter restrictions on handguns...."

I don't if that mean I couldn't own a gun and potentially defend myself with it?

What restrictions on handguns are you considering?

Personally, I think everyone who wants to own a gun, of any type, should have to demonstrate proficiency in maintaining it, understanding its mechanisms, understanding safety, marksmanship and self defense laws.

Having done so they would be issued an unrestricted licsense to carry, nationally, in whatever fahion they desire; including concealed.

I recognize, though, that my little scheme is a violation of the 2nd amendment. You shouldn't have to be licensed to exercise a right.

Better to have fire arm handling taught in K - 12 as a required class.

Personally I could care less about high capacity magazines and assualt rifles, but I do think people should be able to own these. Very few crimes are committed with them. The fear they generated is just liberal panty wetting hysteria. I would want one of these if I ever thought we were facing the collapse of society or a coup d'etat by a dictatorship.

And what of our dear friend phil with his bodily function references?

The fear they generated is just liberal panty wetting hysteria.

Res ipsa loquitor.

I'm not looking to debate the merits of that proposal. I'm simply asking how that proposal prevents you from owning a gun and defending yourself with it. The point being that there are lots of different types of guns you might own and defend yourself with, aside from handguns and fully automatic weapons, and that you can do so without using high-capacity magazines.

You seem to be assuming some sort of all-out ban on guns is being proposed, but there can be any number of proposals that fall short of that by varying degrees, and this discussion is relevant to at least some of them, probably most, which is what I and my like-minded brethren are on about.

I don't even have a strong preference for a given policy. The one I proposed is something that seems reasonable to me, though I'm not terribly confident it would do much in the end.

I'm mostly interested in the quality of the arguments being made. I'm inclined to call out baloney when I think it's what I'm seeing, regardless of my position on the matter or how strongly I hold that position.

(BTW, I'm not particularly fearful and my panties are quite dry, thanks.)

"I would want one of these if I ever thought we were facing the collapse of society or a coup d'etat by a dictatorship."

One what, an assault weapon, a pair of panties, or a liberal panty wetter?

Are you saying you and Brett don't even experience just a little leakage, maybe a squirt, down there at the thought of gun confiscation by the state?

Why is it we can always expect a little macho referencing of women's underpants from the usual suspects during discussions about gun law?

"You seem to be assuming some sort of all-out ban on guns is being proposed, but there can be any number of proposals that fall short of that by varying degrees, and this discussion is relevant to at least some of them, probably most, which is what I and my like-minded brethren are on about."

Seriously, I can't imagine what you are proposing other than an all about ban and confiscation.

We already have cities like NY, DC, Chicago where it is damn near impossible to obtain a handgun permit. Possessing a handgun without a permit is a felony with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 1 to 3 1/2 years depending on the city in question.

Yet, these cities still have large numbers of murders by handgun and mostly these are non-permitted handguns.

What more would you do, law-wise?

Public beheadings of illegal gun owners and their extended families?

What?

Your thinking is identical to the thinking in the failed war on drugs.

For certain reasons people want to get high and will obtain and use drugs despite draconian laws if caught.

For certain reasons people want to obtain and, sometimes, use handguns despite draconian laws if caught.

The gun or drug is just the tool and it can't be eliminated unless the attitude of the tool seeker/user is changed.

So, please tell me, what's your plan? How and why would it work?

Blackhawk,

Guns are bad. Guns kill. Get rid off guns and the murder rate will drop......seriously wtf?

Um. Reduce the number of guns and the murder rate will drop. Yes.

Go to zero, even if you eliminate guns entirely (which I see no one advocating)? No.

Also, I'm not going to let you slide on your fundemental assumption that guns = murder. As Brett has brilliantly demonstrated, the correlation is weak to absent.

You are wrong, just plain wrong and not willing to even consider the possibility.

There are plenty of areas of this country with high rates of gun ownership and extremely low rates of crime, esp. murder.

Why should people living in these areas have their rights and lifestyle impinged just because someone wants to implement a doomed (doomed because it doesn't address the real problem) policy to address the problem of a population a thousand miles away?

"Reduce the number of guns and the murder rate will drop. Yes."

really? i call bs on that.

prove you're right.

reduce which guns? whose guns?

let's hear your plan then

So, please tell me, what's your plan? How and why would it work?

I'm not claiming to have one. Maybe we shouldn't do anything. I just think you make flawed arguments sometimes, using poor logic, in support of your positions, and that you sometimes fail to understand the positions of others and the nature of the arguments for those positions. And you do it with style, no less.

HSD,

"And you do it with style, no less."

You're being facetious, I have no style.

"I'm not claiming to have one. Maybe we shouldn't do anything."

Well that was certainly anticlimactic (what she said?).

Look, I too wish there was an easy way to reduce murder and maiming, especially among the young. I don't think there is one.

My own approach would be to look at the societal underpinnings of the whole mess. My gut tells me that the post modern media and broken homes and teenage pregnancies are more to blame than guns. I'd include racial tensions as well.

I could be wrong too.

Seriously, I can't imagine what you are proposing other than an all about ban and confiscation.

Expand your mind.

We already have cities like NY, DC, Chicago where it is damn near impossible to obtain a handgun permit.

Actually, in NYC it's not that hard if you're buddies with the mayor.

let's hear your plan then

Here is a simple proposal. I'm not arguing for or against it, I'm just curious to see what your reaction is.

If you are criminally convicted of committing a crime, any crime, with a gun, you can never have a gun again.

If you are criminally convicted of any type of physical violence against another person, with or without a gun, you can never own a gun again.

In either of the two cases above, you may not carry or use a firearm and must temporarily surrender any firearm you own from the time that you are charged by a grand jury, until your case is decided. If you are found innocent, your right to keep and carry is restored, as are any surrendered weapons.

If you receive a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia, psychosis, or any of a number of other delusional mental conditions, you cannot keep or carry a firearm until you are subsequently deemed to be of sound mind.

Assume that all of this is state, county, city, or town law. Nothing at the federal level.

How does that suit? Can we get that far?

Too panty-wetting?

Pretty much all good russell, but nothing original there.

"If you are criminally convicted of committing a crime, any crime, with a gun, you can never have a gun again."

Agreed in principle. I think that's the law now. Maybe it's not thoroughly enforced. However, law or not, bad guys will still obtain guns for bad purposes. So it's good by me, but won't make a difference.

"If you are criminally convicted of any type of physical violence against another person, with or without a gun, you can never own a gun again."

Partial agreement. I would agree totally that anyone convicted of a felony for any type of physical violence should not be permitted to own a gun. Like the first point, I think that is law now.

As for misdemeanor convictions, I am less in agreement. It would depend. I don't think that someone who got cited for a simple fist fight when he was 18 should be barred from gun ownership 10 years later.

"If you receive a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia, psychosis, or any of a number of other delusional mental conditions, you cannot keep or carry a firearm until you are subsequently deemed to be of sound mind."

Agreed. I would even remove that part, "until you are subsequently deemed to be of sound mind."

However, again, this is already the law.

I actually think that the mental health condition as grounds for denial is one of the key components of any effective gun law.

The problem is how to make mental health diagnoses, which are protected under HIPAA, available to sellers of guns and to LE.

I say, set the privacy aside where gun purchase/ownership is concerned, but it's a thorny issue.

What say you on this latter point?

However, again, this is already the law.

I imagine that it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

What say you on this latter point?

I believe there are a handful of situations where mental health professionals are required to disclose otherwise private information to police or other authorities. This would simply be another example of that.

I had a personal experience many years ago with an insane person and a gun. This guy was a paranoid schizophrenic and he had it in his head that I was a sorcerer and that I had put a curse on him. The curse was the reason he was hearing voices and suffering from other symptoms.

He went to a gun store and purchased a .44 magnum and a box of hollow points. Fortunately, a friend of mine just happened to be in the store at the same time buying some ammo and he was aware of the crazy guy's deteriorating mental status.

he did know the crazy guy had been recently officially diagnosed. Had he known he would have alerted the sales manager and tried to halt the sale (the ban on sale to mentally ill persons is a federal law, but there has have been a diagnosis)

As they exited the store, my friend asked the crazy guy where he was going with that big gun in his hand and the crazy guy told him that he was going to take care of the sorcerer that had hexed him.

My friend called me immediately, not knowing that *I* was the "sorcerer", but generally concerned because I had expressed, previously, my concern over this person's thinking and behavior.

I locked all my doors and made a .357 and a shotgun readily available, locked and loaded. I called 911 and explained the situation. I made up my mind that if the crazy showed up with that revolver I would aim at him and tell him to leave immediately. If he did not I would double tap him without further warning.

The cops showed up and took a report. Then they left. Fortunately, the crazy guy never showed up. The cops found him later that night in a public park practicing his quick draw with the loaded revolver. He had accidentally discharged the weapon and put a bullet through an empty parked car.

They confiscated his gun and ammo. They called me to tell me what happened. They wanted me to prove that he was a diagnosed psychiatric patient. I couldn't prove it and he denied it.

A few days later the cops gave him his gun and ammo back.

Fortunately, again, the crazy guy apparently then traded the gun for some crack rock. Who knows where the gun ended up.

I went to the gun store and exdplained what had happened since the sale. They acted all pissed off. My main point was that they should not sell that guy another gun. That they were on notice. They really didn't like me coming in with that information or the threat of lawsuit. I stopped doing business with them.

The presence of a diagnosis is self report on the federal form. That is wrong. A lack of felony record is self report AND verified by the background check.

"I don't think that someone who got cited for a simple fist fight when he was 18 should be barred from gun ownership 10 years later."

I think a major point concerning this is that, prior to the passage of the Lautenberg amendment, it was fairly common to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of violence even if you were innocent. The penalties were fairly minor, hiring a lawyer to contest them amounted to voluntarily subjecting yourself to a heightened fine.

Then, years later, Congress decided to alter the consequences of plea agreements which had been entered into long before, ending up depriving of their 2nd amendment rights a huge number of people who were guilty of nothing more than taking a deal they weren't aware would later be altered to their disadvantage.

The other problem, of course, is, what is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? Used to be, that misdemeanors were petty offenses subject to a minor penalty, but never any long term consequences. It had never, prior to the Lautenberg amendment, been the case that you could lose a civil liberty on the basis of a misdemeanor conviction.

Heck, part of why the Lautenberg amendment got upheld, was that at the time the courts weren't admitting the 2nd amendment was a civil liberty. So they construed the amendment as taking away a privilege, not a right.

On that basis, the degree of legal protection afforded the defendant in misdemeanor cases is substantially inferior to that given people charged with felonies. For instance, there's no right to trial by jury in misdemeanor cases, as there is in felony cases.

For this reason I seriously object to including in the punishment for misdemeanors something which traditionally was only imposed for felonies. Which, in large measure, defined the difference between a "misdemeanor" and a "felony"!

You want to impose felony penalties, charge somebody with a felony, and let them have their jury trial.

So, what we are left with is:

1. felony criminal conviction of harming someone physically
2. maybe also felony criminal conviction of a crime where a gun was involved, with or without actual physical harm

And maybe clinical insanity, if we can sort out the privacy issues, and the issues of who gets to decide if you're actually insane.

What I want to point out here is that all of this favors the rights of individuals to keep and carry firearms, over the interest of everybody else in the world in keeping firearms out of the hands of people who are arguably dangerous.

And by "arguably dangerous", we are including people who have actually hurt other people, just not badly enough to rise to the level of a felony.

This is a basic social choice. There are different groups of people, with different interests, and we are preferring certain of those interests over others.

This is being done on the basis of gun ownership being a fundamental civil right, which in turn is based on the current reading of the language of the 2nd Amendment.

One consequence of all of this is that relatively more people will be killed with firearms, than would otherwise. You can dispute that until you are blue in the face, but unless you are preaching to a gun advocacy choir, you will likely not convince many.

Net/net, our choice as a polity is to prefer that some dangerous people are able to arm themselves, rather than that any non-dangerous person not be able to do so.

I'm not arguing good bad or indifferent here, I'm simply calling attention to the particular choice we have, collectively, made.

Why do Americans kill each other so often?

It is surprising how seldom people kill each other in modern societies. 4.2 out of every 100,000 people were murdered in the US last year, in primitive societies it would have been more like 4,200. In many of those societies 40 or 50% of all deaths were by homicide.

Since then there has been a long, slow decline in violence interrupted in the US only by the spike in violence in the 70s through the 90s. That's the really interesting period, what caused it? Probably lead poisoning.

Russell, if you're going to deprive people of civil liberties on the basis of their being "arguably dangerous", you better have a proper procedure in place. We have such a procedure: Criminal trial for felony. Where the state can present that argument, to people who aren't institutionally committed to accepting it.

If you want to be able to turn people into the practical equivalent of convicted felons, without the tedium and inconvenience of a jury trial, what's there to say, beyond, "Hell, NO!"?

I can assume if I ask you if that also refers to people's right to vote, you'll say "yes" but really mean "no," right?

I'll say yes, and mean yes.

This is, I assume, where you argue that requiring somebody to prove they're John Doe before casting John Doe's ballot, is the equivalent of legally depriving John Doe of the right to vote?

Is requiring John Doe to prove he is not a pyschotic gun nut before owning a gun legally depriving John Doe of the right to own a gun?

Yes. I only have the right to cast one person's vote. My right to own guns is hardly so specific.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


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