My Side of Gun Control

I figured that I’d put in my two cents about gun control. I’m gonna take certain points of both sides’ arguments and respond to them with my prerogative. Feel free to discuss in the comments when I’m done.
PRO refers to the side of the argument that supports a more laissez-faire attitude on firearms; CON refers to the side that favors heavy gun control.

1. PRO: Firearms are necessary for protecting our individual freedoms of life, liberty, and property.
Me: Against what? This argument almost always is used with tyranny from the top down in mind. At face value this argument seems legit, but there are a lot of gaping holes in it. First of all, where does this tyranny come from? Historically and realistically, it would come from a) an internal hostile takeover of the government, like a military coup d’etat or something similar, b) an external hostile takeover of the government, like Red Dawn or something, or c) a dramatic and disastrous shift in domestic policy that the government on ALL levels of organization just *happens* to unanimously condone. Secondly, when this Amendment was written, the dangers were actually much more plausible: any of these three things COULD happen just because this was a new country and NOBODY had ever tried what we’d tried before and yeah, if you know US history you know all that. So I won’t bore you.

Furthermore, the channels by which we protect our lives, liberty, and property have been long-established in nonviolent channels of communication. There are stories about people getting cheated by the system, blah blah blah, but it’s not so egregiously corrupt, impotent, or malicious that we’re on the brink of rebellion or starvation because of it. (It honestly isn’t.) The fact remains that there ARE things we can do when we feel that our rights are being violated, and IN GENERAL, they are functionally effective. (Notice that that last sentence was chock-full of qualifiers. Pay attention.) To top it off, trying to protect our life, liberty, and property using firearms doesn’t help the situation and actually makes it worse. Do you remember the last time a guy pulled a gun on the bank trying to foreclose on his house and successfully got JP Morgan to cut him some slack? Yeah, I don’t either. For a better representation of what “tyranny” means in the context that it’s really given, though, you would have to shift your eyes elsewhere. Know of any places where people protect themselves with firearms on a daily basis? I can name a few: Somalia, Sudan/Darfur, and (until recently) Chechnya. Do you see a whole lot of rights-protecting going on there? On the contrary, one could actually argue that widespread firearm use to promote freedoms actually undermines them for everyone except for the gunmen packing the most heat.

And before you try to tell me again that firearms help protect democracy, I will point you to Kenya. In the days preceding its March 4 election, analytical blog post after editorial newspaper article after foreign policy analysis asked the same question: Will Kenyans be able to carry through these elections without violence? Answer: No. When the results came out and were perceived to be corrupted, violence flared up, probably perpetrated by more than a few Kenyans who wanted to protect their freedoms. That’s not democracy. Using violence and intimidation to get your way is not democracy, and will never be democracy.

2. CON: The only way to end gun violence is to ban guns altogether.
Me: For the most part, I don’t have to tell you guys why this is bullshit because you already know. Prohibition is a great example of how suddenly cutting of a desired good is going to lead to huge problems. Yes, it was a movement with an entirely different goal than a national gun ban, but firearms are so ubiquitous to America that banning them altogether would be like banning booze all over again. If someone wants something badly enough, they will go to whatever means they can to get it. And there are more than enough black market dealers out there all too willing to provide.

Besides, that’s not the only way to end gun violence. In fact, one could argue that ending gun violence is impossible; even in a peaceful nation like Norway a crazed gunman succeeded in killing at least 30 people two years ago. The key is common-sense regulation. This requires a lot of dialogue on all sides–specifically, on the type of guns that people (think) they need for legal purposes. The goal isn’t to figure out what gun regulations would satisfy everyone: the goal, as in any perfect compromise, is to give every side just enough that they’re not chomping at the bit but leaving them all still a little pissed off at not getting everything they want. However, that’s not my area of expertise so I won’t go there.

3. PRO: The 2nd Amendment allows for a “well-regulated Militia”, which means that constitutionally, every American is entitled to their firearms.
Me: That’s not what it says at all. A “well-regulated Militia” is just that: a militia. For those unfamiliar with or who abuse the term, a “militia” generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters [Wikipedia definition]. Basically what that means is that in every town, there’s a local regiment of volunteer fighters that get together every week or so for target practice, and then are called to arms whenever there’s trouble.

“But there’s no such thing in my town!”

Exactly.

There. Are. No. Militias. In America. The police do not count: they are professional law enforcement agencies on the city’s payroll. Militias actually generally ceased to exist in America after the antebellum years. The closest thing to it today is the National Guard, but even the National Guard is today utilized largely for disaster relief and light peacekeeping in severe situations, not general law enforcement. The reason why militias existed in the first place was because they fit the bill of what was needed in early-early America: they provided security and the general welfare for a society that for the most part was very isolated, largely agrarian, surrounded by untamed land, and at constant threat by forces, both internal and external, that the national army couldn’t possibly respond to in an adequate fashion. That’s not the America we live in today. Intricately connected on all levels of life, with a national army that’s probably the largest in the world, militias are obsolete.

The entities that actually do qualify as militias after the Civil War are represented in this extremely abridged list: The Animal Liberation Front, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Knights of the White Camellia. Worldwide, these examples include the Janjaweed in Darfur, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the Taliban in Pakistan, the Irish Republican Army, and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

That should be very telling to you. The point is, nobody who uses this argument is part of a “well-regulated Militia”, never has been and never will be, and there isn’t a single American in this country that needs one.

4. CON/PRO: (Both sides have used this argument.) The most effective way to curb gun violence without harming law-abiding citizens is to register/track the movements of the mentally impaired and perform special background checks on them before selling them firearms of any kind.
Me: It still boggles my mind how often people attribute violent crimes to mental illnesses. Can they be a factor? Of course. But bear in mind that there have been a LOT of horrible people in this world, and still are a LOT of horrible people in this world, who did unspeakable things and yet had perfect mental faculties. But most people with mental illnesses are delightful people who wouldn’t dream of the sort of violence Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, Adam Lanza, Anders Breivik, and many others committed. I know personally at least three bipolar people. John Nash was a paranoid schizophrenic and a Nobel Prize laureate. Silver Linings Playbook is all about crazy people who carve out good things in the world by doing good things for the world. Mental illness does not = violence.

Instead of shifting the blame onto mental illnesses, or video games, or any other easily-dealt-with “problem”, we should point our fingers at the REAL culprits here: Glorification of killers through sensational media, for example. Neglect of the public school system. A thousand other social ills that would be extremely hard to solve, but would greatly benefit from having some light shone on them.

In short, the notion of mental illness as a cause of violence is not enough to implicate EVERYONE who was born with a less-than-normal noggin. And it should never be. (Check out this article for an analysis of Columbine if you’re interested; it presents a contrast between Harris and Klebold that I think is pretty important. )

Other odds and ends that I didn’t have the time/patience to fit into their own thing:
Universal background checks: I support them. Like any extremely important license/purchase/transaction people make here, gun license registry and gun purchases should be very closely regulated. The questionnaire for getting a gun license in California is a JOKE. “Circle yes or no: Have you ever stalked someone maliciously with a weapon?” This doesn’t compare at ALL to the tests people have to go through to get drivers’ licenses, or the level of identification you have to provide to open up a bank account in America, obtain a credit card, or take out a loan. Guns are a whole different story. Hell yeah, universal background checks should be required. That record had better be damn near spotless before you even lay your hands on a peashooter.

Limitations on clip size: I support those, too. Now, I’m not a gun connoisseur and I don’t plan on being one, but common sense dictates that a man with a 30-round magazine and an AR-15 can do way more damage in way more time than a man with three 10-round magazines and the same gun. And forget shooting sprees for a moment. For hunting, you probably don’t need any more than two or three shots to bring down game if you’re decent. For self-defense, you definitely don’t need 30 rounds to scare off an attacker.

This is a relatively abridged piece on gun control, but that’s just what I think. It’s by no means a perfect argument. But I consider it the best representation of the facts that I have at my disposal. How you choose to treat this argument is totally up to you.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Political Stuff, The US and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to My Side of Gun Control

  1. lwk2431 says:

    “PRO: Firearms are necessary for protecting our individual freedoms of life, liberty, and property.”

    “Me: Against what? This argument almost always is used with tyranny…”

    Even not taking tyranny into account, there is self protection against criminals, psychopaths, and sociopaths.

    Someone recently told me that they expected that the police would protect them.

    Good luck on that. When seconds count the police are only minutes away. That is why a significant part of police training is gathering evidence to prosecute a criminal _after_ the crime has been committed (and which the police did not prevent). They are also taught how to draw nice little chalk lines around the bodies of the victim(s).

    Many people are surprised when told that the police have absolutely no duty to protect them as an individual. The Supreme Court has rules several times that the police only have a general duty to protect the public as a whole and no particularly obligation to protect any specific individual.

    People have sued because the policy not only failed to protect them, but were clearly negligent in failing to do so. Do you think they won in court? If you do then you may need to do a little more research.

    No, guns in the hand of the individual are the last bulwark against the criminally violent who obey no law when it suits them. Instead of attempting to come up with schemes to take those guns out of law abiding hands one should be thinking up ways to encourage the civilian to train those hands to be both safe, and accurate. Maybe we need a deduction on our income taxes for buying so many rounds and firing them at the range (just as police qualify reqularly to keep up their skills)?

    But it is more than just criminals. There is the very real possibility in large scale disasters to be left for days, maybe even weeks without police protection. Think of Katrina and New Orleans for a recent example.

    To disarm people when the government can’t, or won’t protect them is criminal.

    “The closest thing to [a militia] today is the National Guard, but even the National Guard is today utilized largely for disaster relief and light peacekeeping in severe situations, not general law enforcement.”

    The National Guard has been used more as a reserve Army than a militia or peacekeeping force, e.g., in Iraq.

    “The point is, nobody who uses this argument is part of a “well-regulated Militia”, never has been and never will be, and there isn’t a single American in this country that needs one.”

    I have written on the militia here:

    The Well Regulated Militia
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-well-regulated-militia/

    I didn’t mention it in the above article, but there is a concept going back to the Founders of an unorganized militia which is essentially an armed populace that can in time of need be organized and well regulated (the meaning of which is to be well trained, equipped by the individual states).

    In any case the 2nd Amendment clearly says that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” the part about a “well regulated militia” does not limit or qualify that right – it was only intended to partly explain the motivation of the Founders.

    “Instead of shifting the blame onto mental illnesses, or video games, or any other easily-dealt-with “problem”, we should point our fingers at the REAL culprits here: Glorification of killers through sensational media, for example. Neglect of the public school system. A thousand other social ills that would be extremely hard to solve, but would greatly benefit from having some light shone on them.”

    I largely agree with you. It seems to me that the media is holding a chimera in front of the public of gun violence and gun control while ignoring the very real underlying social problems (like treaing mental illness, a Drug War in inner cities, etc.).

    From 2011 FBI stats for homicide where the race of the offender is known it was black 52.4% of the time although blacks were less than 14% of the population in 2011. And the victims were most often blacks. A lot of the gun violence among young kids is done by young black kids in inner cities. The cause are deep systemic social problems abetted by generations of Democratic control.

    Here is an interesting article (not mine):

    Mental Illness in America
    http://beltwayoutsiders.com/2013/10/07/mental-illness-in-america/comment-page-1/

    We have for many of the mentally ill replaced hospitals with jails. See the chart in the above article and you will see what I mean.

    “Universal background checks: I support them…”

    If done properly, I do too, and I wrote a suggestion on a way to do them that could get support of gun owners and NRA members like myself:

    Universal Background Checks
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/universal-background-checks/

    “Limitations on clip size: I support those, too. Now, I’m not a gun connoisseur and I don’t plan on being one, but common sense dictates that a man with a 30-round magazine and an AR-15 can do way more damage in way more time than a man with three 10-round magazines and the same gun.”

    You are correct, you are neither a connoisseur and largely don’t know what you are talking about. Duct tape. take two 10 round clips end to end and duct tape them together. If you look at pictures of terrorists they do it all the time.

    The most recent killer in Washington used an 870 pump shotgun. No AR-15 or high capacity magazines.

    I have written on this too:

    Who Needs An Assault Rifle?
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/who-needs-an-assault-rifle/

    “For self-defense, you definitely don’t need 30 rounds to scare off an attacker.”

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. The police carry handguns with very large capacity magazines for self defense. If you have multipled attackers, and if they are on drugs, then you will be damn happy to have 15 rounds in your Glock.

    I think your heart is in the right place. You understand that we have deep underlying social problems that need to be solved. You don’t know much about guns and just buy what you hear in the media and many of them don’t know jack either. 🙂

    regards,
    lwk

    • lynnbetson says:

      Hi, Iwk! Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I really appreciate the discussion and feedback.

      I read your post about background checks and I have to say that that does sound like a great way to go about this. It’s efficient, doesn’t clutter up the government with unnecessary bureaucracy, and it sounds like it would be effective! I never thought about that before, thanks for bringing it to my attention!

      Also, thank you for the correction on the National Guard. I wasn’t 100% sure, but I’ll have to remind myself to correct the post to reflect it.

      You make an interesting point about self-defense, especially against violent psychopaths, murders, and the like. I think that while this needs to be addressed, arming private citizens in anticipation of violent crime does not ultimately solve the problem of violent crime. Street crime, like many other social ills, can’t be solved simply by putting guns into the hands of private citizens and expecting them to make up for the police’s failures. I would argue that’s actually a cause of additional death–people in a panic, people acting in terrified self-defense, et cetera, can end up getting more people killed than if we took the approach of making our streets safer from the bottom up AND the top down. What I mean by this is that I would still rather leave the job of peacekeeping and crime prevention in the hands of neighborhood watch or the police. Whether or not the police have a responsibility to protect individuals is less an inherent weakness of the police than it something that can be changed if it turns out that this is not a good way to serve the public good, I think.

      I was also intrigued by your point on Hurricane Katrina. I agree; large-scale disasters where the government was not in the picture contributed to the chaos after the storm and led to a lot of violence. However, I would also argue that a huge part of that problem is precisely that the government was not in the picture. We’re talking Bush-era FEMA here, and one of the lowest points in the organization’s history. The response, by all accounts, was one of the shittiest conceivable, even for that administration. People were stranded for days in inconceivable squalor (quoted from this article http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/opinion/krugman-sandy-versus-katrina.html) after Katrina, and, of course, there was a lot of violence.
      Now look at the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The National Guard was on the ground the day after the storm; aid was flowing much more quickly and effectively to the affected areas than after Katrina. There was a great deal of forewarning and FEMA wasn’t headed by some quack who had a) no idea what he was doing and b) bottomless contempt for the government. The result? A dramatic drop in crime and violence from Sandy when compared to Katrina. I’m not saying that there wasn’t any crime; there was. But the level of violence after Sandy doesn’t even compare to the violence after Katrina.

      What I’m trying to say here is not that your point on private firearms as the last line of self defense is invalid. What I’m trying to say here is that arming the population is not necessarily the best response to many of the things NRA talks about. Yes, the streets are a dangerous place. Yes, post-disaster scenes can get chaotic and messy. But they become decidedly less so not through arming private citizens as a solution, but by tackling the actual causes and the actual problems. The reason why I’m a little uncomfortable with NRA rhetoric is that they often look at problems like these and assume that guns are the ONLY solution. I just don’t think that’s true.

      I really appreciate hearing your thoughts. It really made me think (and also do some research :p)

  2. lwk2431 says:

    “…arming private citizens in anticipation of violent crime does not ultimately solve the problem of violent crime.”

    I do not disagree. Arming citizens won’t make hardened criminals “go straight.” It might change some of their behaviors. Dr. John Lott, and to forewarn his results are controversial, suggested in his research that some criminals might shift their activity from confrontational crimes (robbery) to non-confrontational crimes (burglarly of an unoccupied home) when the number of people in public with legally concealed handguns goes up. Presumably they prefer not to get shot by a citizen, and interviews with convicted felons do show they often have more fear of being shot by a citizen than the police.

    But no matter, it doesn’t solve the problem of some people choosing a life of crime. People being responsibly armed is about refusing to be a victim. I personally would like to see efforts in society more aimed at educating people to be responsibly armed than to disarm law abiing folks.

    There does seem to be some correlation between the kind of crimes committed and the liklihood of the victim being armed. A good example is Florida where the “shall issue” concealed carry movement started back in the 1980s. There was a rash of attacks of women in public. Once the concealed carry law was passed and some women starting carrying the incidence of the crime went down.

    Clearly the expectation that the victim might be armed changed the behavior of some criminals.

    Home invasion is a much more common crime in the U.K. where gun ownership is highly regulated and self defense with a firearm is literally a crime for a citizen. Gangs of hoodlums have little to fear in an occupied home so they will break in, terrorize the victims, rob them, and sometimes much worse.

    In large parts of the U.S. home invasion (defined as deliberately breaking into a home that you know is occupied) is fairly rare, especially in parts of the country where guns in the home are common. It is obvious that if criminals have some expectation that a crime could get them shot or killed they will avoid it and concentrate on something less dangerous.

    “Street crime, like many other social ills, can’t be solved simply by putting guns into the hands of private citizens and expecting them to make up for the police’s failures.”

    I agree it can’t be solved. You still have the problem of why people choose crime. You can reduce violen tand confrontational crimes to some degree depending on the frequency of the victims being armed. I do believe if a much larger percentage of law abiding citizens got a concealed carry license and carried in public then that type of crime would go down (and probably be replaced by less violent and confrontational crime perhaps).

    When you talk of police failures I am not entirely sure I understand. I wrote earlier that the police have no legal obligtation to protect you as an individual. I don’t see that as a failure. I see that as a recognition of the reality that we just can’t afford enough police to effectively protect us. Even if we could, I would reply that the result would in fact be a “police state” in every sense of the word.

    The police have a job and it is important. To some degree they do deter criminals, and they help bring criminals to justice by collecting evidence, etc.. But it is unrealistic I think to expect them to give you any real guarantee of personal protection. At best their efforts are “best effort” and you have some responsibility for your own protection.

    I have a copy of an article on my blog by Jeffrey Snyder called “A Nation of Cowards” that is probably one of the best explanations of my view on self defense and why it is a personal responsibility, and not the responsibility of the police:

    A Nation of Cowards
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/a-nation-of-cowards/

    “What I mean by this is that I would still rather leave the job of peacekeeping and crime prevention in the hands of neighborhood watch or the police.”

    If you read the article above you will see why I disagree.

    “Whether or not the police have a responsibility to protect individuals is less an inherent weakness of the police than it something that can be changed …”

    Again, be careful what you wish for. To make the police truly responsible for our protection will create a true police state. And again I would encourage you to read the above artice. It was written in 1993 (so pay scales were less than today no doubt). Snyder wrote:

    “Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police’s, not only are you wrong — since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so — but you face some difficult moral quandaries. How can you rightfully ask another human being to risk his life to protect yours, when you will assume no responsibility yourself? Because that is his job and we pay him to do it? Because your life is of incalculable value, but his is only worth the $30,000 salary we pay him? If you believe it reprehensible to possess the means and will to use lethal force to repel a criminal assault, how can you call upon another to do so for you?”

    “We’re talking Bush-era FEMA here, and one of the lowest points in the organization’s history.”

    I think that in reality FEMA had never been tasked with dealing with a situation like this.

    “People were stranded for days in inconceivable squalor…”

    And even worse, some New Orleans police were disarming perfectly law abiding citiznes while other New Orleans police were caught in Texas flagrantly fleeing La. in official police cars. My personal feeling is that if those citizens had organized and shot and killed some of those police officers disarming citizens then it would have been justifiable homicide.

    “Now look at the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The National Guard was on the ground the day after the storm; aid was flowing much more quickly and effectively to the affected areas than after Katrina.”

    Given the experience of Katrina they do a better job. But that still doesn’t mean that you can’t be left on your own for a significant amount of time and literally on your own, or working with your neighbors to protect your neighborhood.

    “A dramatic drop in crime and violence from Sandy when compared to Katrina. ”

    This is true. But there still was crime and a need for self defense. I read that there was a lot of chatter on social media of gangs coordinating looting.

    “The reason why I’m a little uncomfortable with NRA rhetoric is that they often look at problems like these and assume that guns are the ONLY solution. I just don’t think that’s true.”

    I think there is possibly some projection here. I don’t know they are saying there solution is the _only_ solution. What they are doing is defending the individuals right to have the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones, and even their neighorhood.

    Take the problem of school shootings and the NRA’s response after Newtown.

    I don’t think they were saying that putting more armed people in schools would solve whatever created Adam Lanza. What I heard them say was that if we wanted to stop school shootings now, armed people in schools was an important thing to do now.

    Once you secure your schools a lot more and protect children you have time to look at what the real underlying cause that creates a person like Lanza. My impression of some of the critics of the NRA after that was that they hated guns more than they loved children.

    There is certainly something new in the world today that wasn’t there when I was a kid back in the 1950s. Guns were much easier to get then than today. You could buy surplus battle rifles by mailorder from an ad in the back of a comic book without any check whatsoever (as long as the check you mailed didn’t bounce!). But we didn’t have Columbine, or Newtown and the depressingly long list of these horrendous crimes.

    I wrote the following article that suggests one possible thing we should look into.

    Guns And Drugs
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/guns-and-drugs/

    Drug industry profits are 100x those of the personal firearms industry. If anyone can buy Congress it is them, and the number of young boys on psychoactive drugs today is mind boggling.

    “It really made me think (and also do some research ”

    Yes, it is difficult to figure out the whole maze of these problems. There are so many advocates of one view and all have their studies, papers, etc. to support their view. I am certainly one of those people. Whatever the truth I am sure it is not simple, and whatever the solutions, I doubt they are truly simple.

    regards,

    lwk

    • lynnbetson says:

      Iwk,

      You’re misrepresenting some of my arguments. My statement about the police was that their legal obligations could be changed if it turns out that they didn’t serve the public good in the way that they should, not that they should automatically change.

      I still think that this line of argument relies too much on the idea that focusing on the short term will automatically yield long-term solutions. Certainly, there are home invasions and street violence–crimes committed largely by economically disadvantaged people. (http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/poverty.htm) (http://www.poverties.org/poverty-and-crime.html) The UK has a lot of home invasions. And yet, can we really prove that the fear of gun ownership by the victims really prevents crime? Or does it compel criminals to simply get bigger guns? Statistics show us that crime and poverty are linked. Instead of reverting to “arm the populace”, using a solution that would undoubtedly result in the maiming and deaths of people–criminals, maybe, but people nonetheless–why is this conversation not about poverty alleviation? Crime isn’t a problem you can just shoot into oblivion. Even using private ownership of guns as a “short term solution”, in essence, ignores the future. If people continue to arm themselves for protection, what incentive is there for anyone to change? America has proven before that it’s unfazed in the face of literally millions of gun deaths annually.

      I think that Hurricane Sandy is a better handling of a natural disaster by the government, and the decrease in crime during Sandy certainly reflects this. It’s also a reflection on the fact that crime reduction can’t always be caused by citizens with guns. You are right that government negligence can lead to violence. What I’m getting from your argument, then, is that instead of making government more responsive to this crisis (which, as we’ve clearly seen, reduces crime and looting by a great deal), we should arm the citizens. What? If a nonviolent solution can be used, I say we use it. If a sustainable solution can be used, I say we use it. I would argue that scaling up the efforts of FEMA and disaster response plans would be a better investment than subsidies to Glock and Winchester.

      While it’s important that self-defense is still an option for Americans, personal firearms are by no means the best solutions for American society. It may seem worth it to prevent crime with the treat of “don’t mess with that person because he or she might have a gun”, but is it really worth it to condone the deaths of the people who could very well become productive members of society with some economic empowerment and poverty alleviation? Is it really just to reward a mugging with a bullet in the sternum? What kind of a message does that send? Your article brings up the many ridiculous ways in which women are told they can ‘avoid rape’–the Mace, the key in the fist, the rape whistle, et cetera. Arming the woman accomplishes the same thing: Putting the brunt of crime prevention on the potential victim rather than the potential perpetrator. Still, still, the message we give people is “don’t get mugged” and “don’t get raped” and “don’t get burglarized”. Why the hell aren’t we telling people “don’t mug people”, “don’t rape”, and “don’t burglarize”? Simple. Because the latter is more complicated than “this wouldn’t have happened if people had guns”. Enough with the victim blaming. It’s all well and good for guns to be legal so people can use them for self-defense IF THEY CHOOSE TO, but to advertise them as the most effective, or even the ONLY, way to prevent crime is simply farcical and unsustainable. Criminals are not irreparable animals; nobody deserves death for committing a robbery. The police are not an incompetent force. Like you said, the solutions to these problems are complicated and must be treated as such. If they are so complicated, if they are so huge in scope and deeply rooted in societal ills, then why is the knee-jerk reaction of people to say “Well, this could be prevented if more people had guns”? Have we been overthinking this the whole time, or is the idea that guns can solve these problems–even for the short term–inherently flawed?

  3. lwk2431 says:

    “My statement about the police was that their legal obligations could be changed if it turns out that they didn’t serve the public good in the way that they should, not that they should automatically change.”

    ???

    Maybe I mistyped something and didn’t see it?

    Here is what I thought I said:

    1. Currently the police have no legal obligation to protect you as an individual.

    2. If you were to change that and make the police legally obligated then you would have to hire milions of new police and that would make our country a “police state.”

    That is what I thought I said.

    Given the situation today, you are personally responsible for your self defense 99% of the time.

    Did you read this?

    A Nation of Cowards
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/a-nation-of-cowards/

    “I still think that this line of argument relies too much on the idea that focusing on the short term will automatically yield long-term solutions.”

    I was not aware that I made such an argument. We definitely need long term strategies to deal with crime, poverty, and mental illness. In the meantime we still need solutions to protect people today.

    If there is a real possibility of my family being in danger today then that needs some focus of my attention and not some hope that dysfunctional politicians might actually come to their senses and start to solve the problems that the created in the first place.

    “The UK has a lot of home invasions. And yet, can we really prove that the fear of gun ownership by the victims really prevents crime?”

    Yes, actually we can. Probably the most extensive research to date was done by award winning criminologist Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz?

    Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern)
Guns and Violence Symposium,
vol. 86, no. 1, 1995: 150.

    ARMED RESISTANCE TO CRIME: THE PREVALENCE AND NATURE OF SELF-DEFENSE WITH A GUN
    Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz
    http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/kleckandgertz1.htm

    According to their research Americans use a firearm upwards of 2,500,000 times a year to defend lives and property. Upwards of 400,000 lives a year are saved. Now some people have nit picked this or that detail of this research and claimed the research is “refuted” but that is nonsense.

    It is some of the best research to date.

    If you go to the Wikipedia page for Kleck:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Kleck

    -quoting-

    Criminologist Marvin Wolfgang, who described himself “as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country” and whose opinion of guns was “I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns–ugly, nasty instruments designed to kill people” defended Kleck’s methodology, saying “What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator”.

    -end quote-

    “Or does it compel criminals to simply get bigger guns?”

    Studies and interviews with real criminals in our prisons have shown that they are more afraid of an armed citizen than the police. Most will go out of their way to avoid armed citizens.

    “Statistics show us that crime and poverty are linked.”

    There is absolutely no doubt that a large proportion of the “gun violence” problem (other than suicides” is highly concentrated in our impoverished inner cities.

    Since the 1960s when I was a teenager government programs intended to help blacks in the inner city have devasted their families and created a culture of violence, racial hate, and dependency. Many of these are in cities run by Democrats for generations.

    What evidence do you have that these politicians who created the mess have even the remotest clue how to fix the problem, or that they have the moral courage to actually address the problem?

    “Instead of reverting to “arm the populace”, using a solution that would undoubtedly result in the maiming and deaths of people–criminals,…”

    Actually people using a firearm in self defense hardly ever fire the gun and even less frequently actually shoots a criminal. That is one of Kleck’s greatest contributions to our understanding of defensive firearms usage.

    In the vast majority of cases the defender brandishes a firearm and the would be attacker quickly exits the scene. That is what really happens. You cannot get an accurate idea of the usage of guns in self defense by the number of criminals shot or killed, because statistically that doesn’t happen very often.

    If you want to understand why you should read “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman sometime. Most people cannot deliberately take the life of another person.

    “…why is this conversation not about poverty alleviation?”

    I could talk on that subject all day long. But in the meantime are we supposed to neglect defending ourselves and our families?

    The solution to the poverty problem is actually simple in concept, difficult in practice (because we have so many bloodsuckers deeply rooted into our lifeblood in Washington).

    Free market capitalism is where prosperity and the end of poverty could come from. In the entire history of the human race nothing has come close to its record (and unfortunately most people are largely ignorant of its record).

    “If people continue to arm themselves for protection, what incentive is there for anyone to change? America has proven before that it’s unfazed in the face of literally millions of gun deaths annually.”

    “Millions of gun deaths annually”? That was a typo right?

    On average in the U.S. firearms account for approximatey 30,000 deaths. Of those 30,000 approximately two thirds are suicides.

    As to suicides, people who commit suicide with a gun really mean it and will use other means if a gun is not available. We ought to have programs to address mental health issues but banning firearms will not save a lot of lives due to suicide.

    The U.K. and U.S. are often compared. The U.K. has a very low firearms homicide rate. But it is not often mentioned in the press that their firearms homicide rate has doubled since a lot of the guns bans went into place. The U.K. was declared the most violent country in Europe by the UN. And they do kill each other with means other than guns.

    Most importantly from the view of suicides is that the U.K. has an almost identical suicide rate to the U.S. and that without using guns. That is why I say banning guns won’t have much effect on two thirds of the deaths in the U.S. where suicide and a gun are involved. They will simply find another way to do themselves in.

    “I think that Hurricane Sandy is a better handling of a natural disaster by the government, and the decrease in crime during Sandy certainly reflects this.”

    No matter how good they did in that one instance it doesn’t guarantee you won’t be caught in a disaster where you are on your own for a significant period of time.

    The police are not responsible for your personal prorection, and neither is the government or the National Guard.

    “If a nonviolent solution can be used, I say we use it.”

    As shown by Kleck, most defensive gun uses are not violent. They are a threat to the aggressor who then leaves you alone with no one getting shot or killed.

    But show me how you can reasonably depend on the police and government to protect you then I might listen

    PLEASE UNDERSTAND – I am not saying we shouldn’t work on our social problems. We should absolutely do that.

    But is it not an either/or proposition. We can do both. People can be made aware of their personal responsibility to defend themselves and we could try to figure out how to solve some problems.

    But in my view, and if you read the Snyder article you understand, you personally have a MORAL duty to participate in your defense, the defense of your family, and even your community. It is a MORAL failure to expect others to do that for you.

    “I would argue that scaling up the efforts of FEMA and disaster response plans would be a better investment than subsidies to Glock and Winchester.”

    I would argue that it is unwise to depend on government to protect you, and largely immoral to expect that as the final solution.

    Everyone should be prepared to survive on their own for at least a couple days or more, perhaps a week or more. There should be community organizations and awareness for people to participate in their common defense and to take care of the vulnerable in these situations.

    “…is it really worth it to condone the deaths of the people who could very well become productive members of society with some economic empowerment and poverty alleviation?”

    Do you really want to know how I feel about that? If I were to spell the name of that political party most responsible I would spell it “D-E-M-O-N-C-R-A-T.”

    Social polices, mostly championed by Democrats, have devasted our inner cities, created poverty, denied real opportunity. But I doublt the big wigs in that party really care as long as blacks deliver 90% of their vote to them reliably every year.

    There could be real solutions but the vast majority of the politicians today have no clue and they have made things worse time and time again.

    “Why the hell aren’t we telling people “don’t mug people”, “don’t rape”, and “don’t burglarize”?”

    “Well, this could be prevented if more people had guns”?

    No one is saying that. I have said over and over again we need to solve social problems. But it is not an either/or thing. People _are_ responsible for their own personal protection. People _are_ responsible for putting politicians in charge that are plainly stupid, venal, and evil.

    The solutions are actually pretty simple in concept. We need a radical amount of economic and political freedom.

    Do you remember the term “Laissez faire Capitalism” from school?

    An author some years ago made a very loose translation of that. Supposedly a powerful minister in France under one of the King Louis’ was asking some businessmen how to improve business in France (so he could tax it even more). In essence the answer “laissez faire” could be translated as “leave us alone, get out of the way.”

    Government is for the most part the problem, not the solution.

    regards,

    lwk

    • lynnbetson says:

      I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree, then. There’s overwhelming evidence that the government has the power to change people’s lives for the better. I’m not going to start pointing partisan fingers, but I do believe that trying to cripple the government’s ability to do good, then faulting them for not doing their job, is the epitome of hypocrisy. Withdrawing funding from FEMA was stupid; Bush’s lack of faith in the government was precisely what caused it to fail. Withdrawing funding and faith from government institutions is precisely why they become as decrepit and incompetent as people fear. It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s easy to break. The concept of “small government” is only valid when “small government” is the best way to address the needs of the people it’s beholden to serve. However, if it cannot do that, then small government is worthless. I understand why people are so concerned about government overreach, but I would honestly prefer to pay taxes towards an institution that was literally created to serve me than to tango with a private sector that’s only interested in profit.

      • lwk2431 says:

        “I would honestly prefer to pay taxes towards an institution that was literally created to serve me than to tango with a private sector that’s only interested in profit.”

        When you have free markets and an interest in profit you have economic inequality. But that inequality will be measured in wealth.

        When you have a government that “serves” you – where “serves” is actually a synonym for “rules” – then you have equality, except of course for the ruling class. But that equality will always be measured in poverty.

        You vote for poverty because you haven’t the vision for wealth.

        regards,

        lwk

  4. lwk2431 says:

    Meant to answer this – see I forgot in above reply:

    “Why the hell aren’t we telling people “don’t mug people”, “don’t rape”, and “don’t burglarize”?”

    Good question. We used to do that. It seems to me that it has become largely unfashionable today to criticize people. We are supposed to “understand” them and feel sorry for them, and say that it really wasn’t their fault – they just didn’t have an opportunity.

    To which I reply “hogwash!”

    You are essentially right – we need to morally condemn people who do these things, tell them not to do it, and sometimes – as we do in Texas – execute criminals to show we do not tolerate violent murderers.

    regards,

    lwk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s