Home » Blog » Ban Guns, Exploit Tragedy, Produce More Tragedies

Ban Guns, Exploit Tragedy, Produce More Tragedies

As usual, the long knives are out for guns again.

Whenever things like this happen, I am reminded of a leisurely walk through Napoleon’s wife’s garden in Strasbourg, France, I once made at midnight with some fine fellows, one of them a young Frenchman.  I was impressed by the high amount of activity in the park and how safe it seemed.  I remarked that there were few parks in America where we could do such a thing.  The young Frenchman asked why, and I explained that getting mugged–or worse–was a real possibility.   He said, “Oh!  We have laws against that sort of thing in France.”

This illustrates a big part of the problem in trying to address events such as what occurred last week.  One whole chunk of the population fails to understand that lawbreakers do not follow laws.

By definition.

New laws only serve to further restrict people who already follow laws.

By definition.

Since something as really elementary as this is not appreciated by huge numbers of people, again and again we have to face a raft of knee-jerk calls for this and that additional regulation, none of which will have any other effect than making people feel better.  They won’t be a lick safer.  If anything, they’ll be in even more danger, suffering under the delusion that their new laws will keep bad people from doing bad things.   (Of course, these same people tend to dispute the idea that there are bad people.  I realize that.)

The ingredients that go into making such horrific incidents are diverse and varied and very complicated.   There are stands relating to mental health, strands relating to the nihilism rampant in our amoral society, and other components that are hard to measure and track in a given event.  However, the perpetuation of these incidents is itself a separate question, and for that I think we would be remiss if we failed to note one of the main culprits:

The media.

With the way our media covers these events, it is easy to see how someone who feels marginalized in our society can see a way to become famous.  There are some who say that if we removed every gun from the universe, mass slayings would cease.  I doubt that very much.  What I don’t doubt is that if mass slayings received no media coverage whatsoever, incidents such as this one would dwindle in number, if not cease altogether.

I think that I could probably get a lot of gun control advocates to agree with me on this.  It’s really hard to dispute.  Examples abound of the media behaving almost as rabidly as the misfits do.  Here’s one.

So why not we ban newspapers, radio stations, cable news networks, and all other news sources from covering mass murders such as this one?  Perhaps you might say that it is the speed in which this information flows–perhaps we shall only ban automatic, instantaneous news agencies?  Perhaps only slow, semi-automatic outfits such as monthly news magazines should be allowed.  Certainly, no live television, that streams bullet-bits on a 24/7 basis into the brains of all Americans, including those most vulnerable to the enticement of that kind of publicity.

But you say:  “The Freedom of the Press is one of our fundamental rights.  It is enshrined in the Bill of Rights!”

Are we really going to let a little thing like that get in the way of preventing the mass murder of dozens of school children?

Someone will no doubt rush to show how there have been mass murders in the past, when no mass media was present.  The moral, of course, being that getting rid of news coverage won’t stop people from killing people.

I am being somewhat facetious, obviously.  I do believe that the media is actually much to blame, but I do not believe it is the sole contributor.  It would be stupid and simplistic to try to reduce it to this one thing and then tell each other that if we did this one little thing, all would be well in the world.  We need to actually engage our brains.

And that’s a lesson I suggest we apply to other solutions being floated right now, almost all of them looking at the weapon the lawbreaker used, instead of the lawbreaker himself.

Not everything we may wish to consider will actually make us safer. It will only make us feel safer.

And there is a big difference between those two ideas.

 

share save 256 24 Ban Guns, Exploit Tragedy, Produce More Tragedies

80 Responses to Ban Guns, Exploit Tragedy, Produce More Tragedies

  1. You must have read an entirely different statement than the one I did.

    Haha, is that the only possible explanation?

    Tell me EB, if someone is prone to the odd stupid act, does that mean we can label them “stupid”? Even if it’s relatively rare, and they recognise their stupidity almost immediately, and always try to take steps to ensure it won’t happen again?

  2. EB,

    “I find this to be naïve in the extreme.”

    Unless you are saying that you would be just fine about the prospect of your neighbour being allowed to have weaponised anthrax in his basement, or any private individual in your city having a tactical thermonuclear device, then you already acknowledge that the 2nd amendment should not be read as allowing absolutely anything that falls under the heading of “arms”.  So, it comes down to what is reasonable and what is not, and that line being slightly redrawn is not a rational justification for high-pitched screams of “tyranny!”.

    “If they call only for certain types now it’s just inevitable more will follow like dominos.”

    Are you refusing to acknowledge that certain types of weapons are already banned?  That’s fingers-in-ears-shouting-lalalalalaaaaa levels of denial.

    “This is even more of a certainty given the tendency of progressive’s need to ‘do something’ in a reactionary attempt to prevent tragedy.”

    Oddly enough, “reactionary” means almost the opposite of what it sounds like.  The definition is “characterised by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative”.  I’m not saying this to be overly picky, just so that it makes sense when I apply that label to you.  And just to show you what good company you’re in by objecting to the obsessive need of people like me to try and change things, in 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau said “Half of all children will die before their eighth birthday. This is nature’s law.  Do not try to contradict it”.  Darn those meddling progressives!

    “Uh-huh. People dressing up and driving to a packed theater, or assembling explosives and planting them in schools, or just looking to rob a gas station. Clearly signs of bodies moving on pure instinct. *rolls eyes*”

    I didn’t say that ALL murders or suicides were impulsive acts.  In the case of suicide younger people are more likely to act impulsively, often in response to a personal crisis, and usually acting within 24hrs of first contemplating killing themselves.  And you are quite right that many such people, if denied access to guns, will find another way of trying to kill themselves.  The important point is that very few methods are as reliably fatal as shooting.  Maybe you didn’t bother to read the stats I gave SJ, so here they are for you – overdose suicide attempts have a case fatality rate of less than 5% (that is, less than 5% of them die), whereas firearm suicide attempts have a case fatality rate of more than 85%.  Can you see why it might be a good thing for a suicidal person to have to “find another method”?  And as for what might happen later, the data suggests that between 5-10% of people who survive a medically-serious suicide attempt later go on to actually kill themselves, so reducing the lethality of the available means can save a lot of lives.  On this issue it appears to be you that is being naive.

    I just took a course on public health approaches to suicide prevention, in case you were wondering.

    “Suicide by exhaust inhalation could probably jump ten-fold and no one is going to call for their cars to be taken away.”

    It’s a much much less lethal method of killing yourself, so such a transition would give a lot more people the chance to reflect on their actions.  There’s a great quote from a guy who tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge (and survived, obviously).  He says that, having just gone over the rail, ‘I suddenly realised that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having just jumped’.  He would be unlikely to have had such a revelation if he’d shot himself in the head.

    “Sure, paracetamol ODs. Yet suicide rate in the UK is on the rise…”

    Yes EB, because suicide is a complex multifacetted issue.  However, we have very low numbers of firearm suicides, mostly in rural areas where farmers sometimes keep them (and incidentally have quite high levels of depression).  Suicides generally are higher in rural areas of the the US as well, again where there are the most guns available.  And the low point for teen suicides in the US was 2000, also the low point for gun ownership.  And yes, the drop in suicides then was method-specific (i.e. firearm suicides).  So, less guns = less suicides.

    “And you should see the death rate in the number of vehicular deaths for people resulting from access to vehicles. Firearms don’t even come close. So your argument may be true as far as it goes, but it simply proves too much.”

    They do come very close.  They’re both in the region of 32,000 to 33,000 deaths per year, with vehicular deaths slightly higher at present.  However, vehicular deaths are going down while firearm deaths are rising, and as I said to SJ, vehicular deaths have been cut in half over the last 30yrs by public health policies around mandatory safety standards for cars, tougher sentencing for driving offences, free ride schemes for potential drunk drivers, etc.  We could do the same for the 85 gun-related deaths per day (around 50 of which are suicides) if it wasn’t for pro-gun obstructionism.

    “Even if it means turning a democracy more and more into a dictatorship.”

    So dumb.  Why don’t I just cut and paste what I have said to try and educate you on this point before, and also give you notice that the use of this feeble “dictatorship” trope will henceforth be added to the ignore list.  Try to pay more attention this time – ‘Here’s how it works EB, you can subscribe to 100% rule of the government (which is a dictatorship) or 100% rule of the people (which is a true democracy).  Or, though you seem to be unaware of this, there is a third option – finding some middle-ground between the first two options, which in practice is the position nearly everyone takes.  Now you and i can disagree about the best balance between the two extremes of dictatorship and consult-everyone-before-doing-anything paralysis, but for you to suggest that in approving of an occasional instance of the government or judiciary overruling a popular sentiment i am committing myself to the totalitarian option is as stupid as it is self-defeating.’

  3. Says the man who lives in a country where it is illegal to have guns and you can go to jail for defending yourself.

  4. Tim:

    Why do you think it would be better if everything was simple? Why does DB get to cite things as ‘multifaceted’ but the Bible doesn’t get the same courtesy?

    Believe it or not, I would be greatly more suspicious about the Bible if it was simple and straightforward on every detail. It is hard to imagine anything that presents itself as grappling with humanity’s most intractable issues succeeding while being ‘simple.’

    This is the problem with gun control: it too simple. It focuses on the object instead of the humans, and refuses to be honest about the real nature of humanity. You can’t medicate your way out of humanity’s issues. You can’t legislate your way out, either. You can’t manage humans as if they were cattle or dogs. It won’t work. The cure is bound to be worse than the disease.

    Hence my leading remark in this particular post that gun control can only, by the simple laws of logic, by definition, ONLY WORK amongst those who are law abiding. Period, end of story. There is nothing else to say to someone who does not give this simple truth its due weight. We’re talking about abuses by people who are not, by definition, law abiding. Soooooooo…. heaping more laws on the already law abiding is… dumb.

    The proper focus has to be on the ones who will not be following your laws, whether they be old or new. And in doing that, we find that this particular issue is only a subset of the overall issue of people doing bad things, why they do it, how to stop them, and what to do when and if they get caught.

    This is the conversation that no one wants to have because it entails (obviously) there there is an actual right and wrong and demands that we recognize the existence of what theologians call ‘sin.’ The US was established by people who accepted that. It is now ruled by people who reject it. The consequences will be the same whenever a great many people are ruled by people in sterile white coats who deem they know what’s better than the rest of us.

  5. It just seems to me that, if god wants us to be saved, so much so that he sent his only son down to be tortured and executed, he could have at least given us an internally consistent guidebook for salvation. I mean, honestly, if god’s goal is to have us love him and give us rules to live by to save us from the firey pits of that place you don’t like us to mention (:-)), why would he include contradictory passages, stupidly harsh punishments (Num 15:32-36), rules for testicular interference by non-combatants (Deut 25:11-12), and guidance on intra-species agriculture (Deut 22:10), when he knew full well that in a few thousand years there would be literally billions of people who would read it and thinkt it ridiculous?

  6. Some things are clear. Like, ‘giving us rules to live by to save us’ is the EXACT OPPOSITE of one of his goals. You went to a Catholic school, Opus Dei, no less. That one is one they always had trouble with. ;) But see Eph. 2:8-9.

    What is curious to me is that you think you have some idea on what to reasonably expect from God. I wonder where you got these expectations and why anyone should take them seriously. I’m not trying to say that you are being ridiculous, I am trying to say that trying to please “literally billions of people” is ridiculously impossible. Have you seen people? You can’t get even two of them to agree on everything for very long. Even happily married people disagree on things. Conservatives agree amongst themselves. Radical liberals don’t agree on everything.

    Let us imagine that God decides that he’s going to make you happy, and give YOU what YOU want. So now he’s pleased Tim. Yeehaw, guess what. Billions of other people will be like “This sucks.”

    I reject the premise that God could have produced anything that would have made everyone happy. Chesterton makes the point nicely in his book “Orthodoxy” when he says that people get angry at the Christian faith for mutually contradictory accusations. One group says God is too fat, another says he’s too thin. Usually, what they say is more of a reflection of their own extremes. Personally, I think it is a good policy not to jump through billions of hoops trying to please billions of crazy people. :)

    Anyway, your analysis fails to take into account that there are, literally, billions of people who read it and don’t think it is ridiculous, and think it is filled with good sense, presented cogently and such.

    I suppose you would have God satisfy your every beck and call to make you and your billions happy while alienating the rest of us. :)

    Boy, are you selfish. ;)

  7. Ah yes, the good ol’ grace vs works debate.

    But see, that kind of emphasises my point. One is able to construct an irrefutable theological argument to support both positions. What’s your average lay person to do?

    Either way, he sure handed down a lot of rules for someone who doesn’t want to give us rules. :-)

    As for knowing what to expect from god, I was made in his image, so there.

    Seriously though, it’s not about making us all happy, it’s about making his manual for life comprehensible. He could have just written “Be nice to each other. That is all”. Sure, some people would still reject it, but at least it wouldn’t have been because the message was ambiguous.

  8. Timmy:

    “Haha, is that the only possible explanation?”

    No, but since the others are less polite, I’d thought I’d give you the benefit of the doubt.

    “Tell me EB, if someone is prone to the odd stupid act, does that mean we can label them “stupid”? Even if it’s relatively rare, and they recognise their stupidity almost immediately, and always try to take steps to ensure it won’t happen again?”

    I’m not going to debate this tangent with you. Especially since I don’t really share DB’s views on this matter. You asked me for DB’s exact words and I’ve given them to you. That you want to try to rationalize them into saying something totally different is your issue, not mine.

    DB:

    “Unless you are saying that you would be just fine about the prospect of your neighbour being allowed to have weaponised anthrax in his basement, or any private individual in your city having a tactical thermonuclear device, then you already acknowledge that the 2nd amendment should not be read as allowing absolutely anything that falls under the heading of “arms”.”

    Aw, there we go. I was waiting to see when the whole ‘Why don’t we give everyone nuclear missiles’ and such lines would be thrown out. Sure DB, I acknowledge some weapons are not suitable in the hands of average Joe, but likewise I acknowledge being ‘armed’ means more than having pocket knives and baseball bats.

    “So, it comes down to what is reasonable and what is not, and that line being slightly redrawn is not a rational justification for high-pitched screams of “tyranny!”.”

    No, it’s the way that line is continually redrawn that is.

    “Are you refusing to acknowledge that certain types of weapons are already banned? That’s fingers-in-ears-shouting-lalalalalaaaaa levels of denial.”

    I would never question the Master of this technique. ;)

    As I acknowledge above, yes I’m well aware certain weapons are banned and that this is indeed with reason. If you read back to what I wrote I never denied that. What I’m saying is that that logic opens up for that line to be redrawn more than ‘slightly’ for the exact same reasoning. And though a rationale person may know when to stop, I don’t have any faith in progressives acting rationally.

    “Oddly enough, “reactionary” means almost the opposite of what it sounds like. The definition is “characterised by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative”.”

    Oddly enough “marriage” has been traditionally defined as the union between man and woman.

    “And just to show you what good company you’re in by objecting to the obsessive need of people like me to try and change things, in 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau said “Half of all children will die before their eighth birthday. This is nature’s law. Do not try to contradict it”. Darn those meddling progressives!”

    You’ll forgive me if I scoff at the apparent concern for children from a group that by-and-large supports policies that kills an entire Sandy Hook elementary school every half-hour just for the “rights” of a specific group (and coincidentally convenience of society). “Darn those meddling progressives” indeed.

    “I didn’t say that ALL murders or suicides were impulsive acts. In the case of suicide younger people are more likely to act impulsively, often in response to a personal crisis, and usually acting within 24hrs of first contemplating killing themselves. And you are quite right that many such people, if denied access to guns, will find another way of trying to kill themselves. The important point is that very few methods are as reliably fatal as shooting.”

    While all interesting and good to know, that’s not really the important point in perspective. The important point is indeed those incidents of homicide and mass shooting where the general public is in danger from very premeditative actions. In case you haven’t noticed it’s THOSE incidents that stir up the gun debate where in a vain attempt to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, all the government accomplishes is to guarantee citizens can’t properly defend themselves.

    That’s not to diminish the tragedy of suicides, of course. Efforts indeed need to be made to help out despairing and lost people. Personally I could think of no better method than introducing people to a loving God that cares for them personally, and has placed an innate value on their lives. I know it helped me in my time of need. But one must also recognized that no law, no policy, and no effort can truly protect people from themselves.

    “It’s a much much less lethal method of killing yourself, so such a transition would give a lot more people the chance to reflect on their actions. There’s a great quote from a guy who tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge (and survived, obviously). He says that, having just gone over the rail, ‘I suddenly realised that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having just jumped’. He would be unlikely to have had such a revelation if he’d shot himself in the head.”

    So you’re basing your views and policies on isolated incidents that amount to crossing your fingers?

    “Yes EB, because suicide is a complex multifacetted issue. However, we have very low numbers of firearm suicides, mostly in rural areas where farmers sometimes keep them (and incidentally have quite high levels of depression).”

    But you have laws banning guns! How then are there ANY firearm suicides? Incidentally as SJ noted you also have significant violent and gun related crime as well. But I suppose you think that’s a small price to pay so that a guy who decides to jump off a cliff will at least have a CHANCE to end up surviving.

    “They do come very close. They’re both in the region of 32,000 to 33,000 deaths per year, with vehicular deaths slightly higher at present.”

    Yes, only at present. Generally, they don’t. Given the turnabout in overall UK suicides in recent years I’d think you’d be a little more reluctant to believe a trend will always remain constant.

    “We could do the same for the 85 gun-related deaths per day (around 50 of which are suicides) if it wasn’t for pro-gun obstructionism.”

    In the US? I doubt it, especially if places like Chicago are any indication. Especially if you only want to ban “certain types.”

    And as noted your analogy between the two doesn’t work for the simple fact that such measures in cars are just additional facets that don’t really impede the primary function of the vehicle. Gun deaths are more often than not a result of the machine doing exactly what it has been designed to do. If you were consistent you’d have to advocate the banning of cars, or at least those “certain types” of cars. Maybe get rid of those kinds of automatics too, huh?

    “So dumb. Why don’t I just cut and paste what I have said to try and educate you on this point before, and also give you notice that the use of this feeble “dictatorship” trope will henceforth be added to the ignore list.”

    I hope you’re vigilant in washing your hands before you eat DB. I can only imagine how much ear-wax gets on them.

    “Try to pay more attention this time – ‘Here’s how it works EB, you can subscribe to 100% rule of the government (which is a dictatorship) or 100% rule of the people (which is a true democracy). Or, though you seem to be unaware of this, there is a third option – finding some middle-ground between the first two options, which in practice is the position nearly everyone takes.”

    Try to pay more attention to the same reply I gave last time to this – ‘The “middle-ground” can allow one to be far, far closer to one end of the spectrum than the other.’ Plus I find the notion that if it’s only 93% rule of government or such then that doesn’t make it a dictatorship in any meaningful way quite simplistic.

  9. “But see, that kind of emphasises my point. One is able to construct an irrefutable theological argument to support both positions.”

    No, you can’t. That’s why at least on paper today, the Catholics have come mainly around to share the Protestant perspective on this. There is a cultural component to why it took them as long as it did, but as soon as it was possible for people to read their Bibles for themselves, instead of having its main points dictated to them, or taught to them chiefly through a catechism, certain points really did become irrefutable, and being saved by grace alone was one of them. It’s hard to confuse the Eph 2 passage. One can be ignorant of it, but that is different than confusing it.

    “Either way, he sure handed down a lot of rules for someone who doesn’t want to give us rules. :-)”

    I didn’t say the rules didn’t have a purpose. That purpose was not to save us. Big difference.

    “As for knowing what to expect from god, I was made in his image, so there.”

    Yes, it does give you a good lead over apes and dogs. But it doesn’t change what I said.

    “Seriously though, it’s not about making us all happy, it’s about making his manual for life comprehensible.”

    But it is comprehensible to billions of people. Maybe the problem is with you, and not the text.

    ““Be nice to each other. That is all”.”

    And that would not save you.

    “Sure, some people would still reject it, but at least it wouldn’t have been because the message was ambiguous.”

    Really. So, “the greatest commandment is this, to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. that is all.” is hard for you to understand?

    But you say, “Ah, but just what does it mean to love your neighbor? Does that mean we give him everything he wants, for example? It’s so complicated! Why can’t he be clearer?”

    But the same question can be put to what does it mean to be ‘nice.’ And what if you come upon a man raping a woman? How do you propose you be ‘nice’ to both people at the same time? Come on, you’re trying to show God how to do this, so let’s see some super-powered Tim-wisdom. Do you stop the man? How so? asking nicely? Maybe clubbing him over the head? That’s not nice. If you let the man continue to rape the woman, you’re not being very nice to her, are you? The minute you try to actually stop the man, you aren’t being very nice to him, are you?

    Come now, tell me from the book of Tim, which says at 1:1 “Be nice to each other. That is all” how is it possible to apply this text in this situation?

    Right now, God is taking notes, I assure you. He has been waiting a long time to hear how Scriptures ought to really be put together. I think he probably thinks you’re on to something with this ‘be nice’ business. He’s interested to hear how you’re going to apply it in this situation and a million others we might conceive, without getting too confusing, or ‘internally inconsistent.’

    So, let me hear it. Let the rape continue, or stop it?

  10. :)

  11. Tony,

    Tell me, which is more confusing?

    “Be nice to each other. That is all”

    or

    “Be nice to each other. But kill someone who picks up sticks on Sunday.”
    ___

    EB,

    Why does every conversation with you degenerate into you steadfastly adhering to a view that cannot be supported by any commonly-held understanding of the English language?

  12. You are dodging the question, Tim. Answer it, please, if you can.

    I’m conceding that “Be nice to each other. That is all” is indeed nice and simple. So simple, that at this point, it seems to be useless. You have a proposition you are defending. It stands on its own merits, or it does not stand at all. Taking potshots at some other view as you perceive it does not count as an argument.

    You’ve brought up the poor guy being killed on the Sabbath (Saturday, btw, not Sunday) here several times. Even though I know this gives you an excuse for refusing to answer my direct questions, let me see if I can address it just a bit. I need to first ask another direct question. Here’s hoping I’ll get a straight answer:

    Do you think that if a person has complete, 100% certain knowledge that God exists, and can confirm this knowledge at any time merely by going and gazing upon God’s presence, that if he should do something willfully against God’s will, his punishment should be more serious than the punishment that someone might deserve from the same deed, but without ever seeing God or having direct evidence of his existence?

    To put it around another way: do you punish your kids more if you tell them they can’t have a cookie, they hear it with their own ears, and you’re sitting there with them, or if one kid relays to one of your other kids (accurately) that you aren’t allowing them to have a cookie and you’re not around for them to ask?

    Please don’t get side tracked by this secondary question. I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t learn whether or not I should be nice to the rapist or nice to the woman being raped. My moral compass is just totally out of whack until I see how “be nice to each other” applies in an actual, specific, situation.

  13. Oops, sorry, wasn’t deliberately dodging the question, and happy to answer it.

    Firstly, though… my last comment above was borne out of my original point – that having to undertake extensive study to understand what god is really trying to say undermines the bible’s effectiveness.

    The Book of Tim and the Bible both contain a directive to “be nice”. But the Bible surrounds that directive with a lot of statements that undermine the message, rather than reinforce or explain it.

    So, whatever difficulties you think I have in justifying the Book of Tim version of morality, you must have them too. It’s just that, instead of only having to explain what “be nice” means (which is all I need to explain), you also need to explain how an all-loving god could at any time prescribe death to hapless stick-collectors.

    Secondly, to your first question.

    In what is surely the biggest understatement I may find myself ever uttering, the man is clearly not being nice to the woman in raping her. Stopping the rape is clearly “being nice” to the woman, and, in the context of this discussion, where there is an unambiguous, god-issued directive to be nice, it’s clearly in the man’s interests as well, since, in not being nice to the woman, he is breaking the aforementioned unambiguous, god-issued directive, and, as we all know, god hates it when we break his unambiguous, self-issued directives.

    So, “Let the rape continue, or stop it?”. Stop it. Obviously.

    Finally, yes, the Sabbath was traditionally Saturday, but then why are all the shops closed on Sundays? :-)

    Thirdly, your last question:

    Do you think that if a person has complete, 100% certain knowledge that God exists, and can confirm this knowledge at any time merely by going and gazing upon God’s presence, that if he should do something willfully against God’s will, his punishment should be more serious than the punishment that someone might deserve from the same deed, but without ever seeing God or having direct evidence of his existence?

    Absolutely, 100%, yes.

  14. Re: guns…

    DB – have you seen Sam Harris’ two posts? At SamHarris[dot]org

  15. Tony,

    “Says the man who lives in a country where it is illegal to have guns and you can go to jail for defending yourself.”

    It’s not entirely clear to me which remark of mine this (undoubtedly powerful) “zinger” was directed at. Maybe it was meant as a response to all of them. If so I certainly agree that inaccurately drawing attention to the laws of my country totally invalidates all of the arguments and data that I have provided about the relationship between gun ownership, homicide and suicide in yours. Consider me suitably humbled.

    :-)

    Dan

  16. EB,

    “I acknowledge some weapons are not suitable in the hands of average Joe”

    Excellent – common ground! So you presumably would also acknowledge that some laws banning the private ownership of such weapons are not inherently fascistic and nor will they necessarily lead to all guns being forcibly ripped from your cold dead hands. Now it’s just a case of deciding where to draw the line.

    “…but…being ‘armed’ means more than having pocket knives and baseball bats.”

    Fine. Like I said, I am not advocating banning all guns, just making them a little less easy to get (in the same way that we don’t give out pilot licences for nothing) and a little less easy to kill lots of people very quickly with.

    “What I’m saying is that that logic opens up for that line to be redrawn more than ‘slightly’ for the exact same reasoning. And though a rationale person may know when to stop, I don’t have any faith in progressives acting rationally.”

    So you are against any change in the status quo on gun control, despite admitting that it could in principle be rational and necessary, because of the slippery slope argument and your trust issues with liberal politicians.

    “You’ll forgive me if I scoff at the apparent concern for children from a group that by-and-large supports policies that kills an entire Sandy Hook elementary school every half-hour just for the “rights” of a specific group (and coincidentally convenience of society).”

    And yet you have set your face against changes in gun laws which could, as I have demonstrated, save the lives of large numbers of the children and adults who you allegedly care so much about, because of the “rights” of a rather smaller demographic group (women = 51% of the population, gun owners = 40%). Also, your “apparent concern” for the lives of the fetuses of America is unconvincing to me so long as you continue to oppose the things which most reliably reduce abortions – comprehensive sex education and widely available contraceptives.

    “The important point is indeed those incidents of homicide and mass shooting where the general public is in danger from very premeditative actions. In case you haven’t noticed it’s THOSE incidents that stir up the gun debate where in a vain attempt to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, all the government accomplishes is to guarantee citizens can’t properly defend themselves.”

    But mass shootings account for a very small percentage of the annual gun-related death toll in America, so the fact that they may often be premeditated seems of limited relevance. Events like Sandy Hook, while they may act as the catalyst for debate because of their dramatic and shocking nature, are not the major problem here. The daily loss of life from suicide (often impulsive) and casual murder (often in retaliation for trivial insults or “disses”) is the much larger issue and the ready availability of guns massively facilitates it.

    Also, you and SJ have yet to provide any evidence (other than “duh, obviously!”) for the notion that people without guns cannot defend themselves. The evidence that I have seen goes the other way – people without guns are far less likely to die by shooting, whether intentional, accidental or suicidal, than people who do. Owning a gun may create a perception of safety, but in reality it tends to increase your risk of a violent gun-related death.

    “That’s not to diminish the tragedy of suicides, of course. Efforts indeed need to be made to help out despairing and lost people. Personally I could think of no better method than introducing people to a loving God that cares for them personally, and has placed an innate value on their lives. I know it helped me in my time of need.”

    Good for you. Things which reduce social isolation and increase community support (going to church would certainly qualify) can be of great benefit to people in psychological distress. I would say that the doctrines of certain religious communities may also make things worse for people (the high suicide rate among young homosexuals can’t really be unlinked from a “loving” God’s alleged hatred and disdain for them).

    “But one must also recognized that no law, no policy, and no effort can truly protect people from themselves.”

    Again, that is an assertion which is not supported by the evidence. The example I gave you of a law reducing how much paracetamol could be sold in one transaction had a measurable effect on the suicide rate. Reducing the availability of lethal means does work in preventing the deaths of people in the grip of an often-transient personal crisis, and since firearm suicides in the US constitute a majority of the annual gun-related mortality (and given that suicidal people are not presumably covered by SJ’s “law breakers don’t follow the law” pseudo-profundity) reducing the availability of guns could save a lot of lives. It’s a shame that your “apparent concern” for these people’s lives is less important to you than the need to protect the rights of a specific group and your knee-jerk distrust of liberal governments.

    “But you have laws banning guns! How then are there ANY firearm suicides?”

    There are strict licencing requirements, but it is possible to legally own a gun in the UK. Most of the people who do are farmers who use them for killing foxes, other pests, and (as I mentioned) occasionally themselves. However, because we do not, in the main, perceive ourselves to be in a crazy arms race with criminals, most citizens do not feel the need to jump through all the hoops necessary to get one.

    “And as noted your analogy between the two doesn’t work for the simple fact that such measures in cars are just additional facets that don’t really impede the primary function of the vehicle. Gun deaths are more often than not a result of the machine doing exactly what it has been designed to do. If you were consistent you’d have to advocate the banning of cars, or at least those “certain types” of cars. Maybe get rid of those kinds of automatics too, huh?”

    Look at it this way – we have two widely available kinds of object, which kill people in similar numbers each year. One of them (the car) has been extensively modified so as to be as non-lethal as possible. You also have to pass a relatively stringent test before being allowed to operate this object, and risk your licence to do so being taken away from you if there is evidence of inappropriate use. Your ownership of one of these objects places you on a database which police can access if there is any suspicion of a crime having been committed using the object registered to you. Children are not allowed to use these objects. These and other safety measures have been successful in cutting the number of people killed by this object in half over the last thirty to forty years. If it works for one, then isn’t it worth trying for the other?

    “I find the notion that if it’s only 93% rule of government or such then that doesn’t make it a dictatorship in any meaningful way quite simplistic.”

    If it’s 93% now, in your mind, what was it under Bush? Can you outline the ways in which Obama has moved the ratio of control that much further away from the people, or are you just complaining about tyranny because your elected government is now slightly more liberal and doing things that you don’t like?

  17. Tim,

    I have read Sam Harris’s FAQ on guns, and while I don’t agree with all of his points I respect the logic he brings to the debate. He does, after all, support changes in gun laws which would make them much harder to legally (and therefore, indirectly, illegally) obtain, without taking away people’s right to own one. After all, people have the right to own and fly a helicopter, but there are some sensibly stringent restrictions placed upon the exercise of that right, as there ought to be with guns. Maybe the macho half of split-personality Jesus wouldn’t like it, but why should we listen to that guy when it seems like most Christians don’t pay attention to his pacifist alter-ego, eh?

    Dan

  18. DB, I was referring to your remarks poo-pooing the idea that there is a real concern that, contrary to what my English friend assures me, people here in America really DO want to get rid of guns, and this really WILL be a turn towards tyranny. I understand that there is a different ethos here; I don’t know that it comes down to views about Jesus so much as the fact that you are in England, contentedly, whereas this country was founded by people who thought your content, carefully managed country, was intolerable. Some of us still find it intolerable. Have it for yourself, Have it in NY state, but put the other 300,000,000 of us in an ‘eat it and learn to like it’ situation. That, my friend, is the definition of tyranny.

    That, theoretically, was the secret of success for the US. All the yahoos who want to be told what sized soft drinks they’re allowed to purchase can live in a place where they can have that. The rest of us would be spared that nonsense. The increasing Federalization of every single nook and cranny means more and more that all of Stathei’s personal foibles get hoisted on the rest of us. And that’s tyranny already on our shores, as far as I’m concerned.

    Regarding your laws, of course you know them better than I do, whereas naturally I’ll be more familiar with mine than you will. There is of course the Tony Martin case, but the one that really gets me is this one, from not too long ago.

    That is soft tyranny in action.

    From the story… something that made me laugh:

    “Osborn picked up a steak knife with a 6in serrated blade that he says was on the floor.”

    Clearly, an assault knife. Serrated! 6 inches! I do hope that you support reasonable measures to restrict assault knifes. Would 5 inches be ok? Obviously, it goes without saying that the serration has got to go.

  19. “Absolutely, 100%, yes.”

    Great, Tim. So what category is our stick collector in?

    “The Book of Tim and the Bible both contain a directive to “be nice”. But the Bible surrounds that directive with a lot of statements that undermine the message, rather than reinforce or explain it.”

    But the Book of Tim suffers from the same problem.

    In one place, the Book of Tim says “Be nice to each other. That is all.” But, in another place, it says:

    “You can’t ignore all of the polite rebuttals to your fallacious slippery slope, and claim that marriage equality will lead to bestiality and incest, again, and again, and again. You can’t lie, and distort, and cheat, and then get upset when we tell you to fuck off. … And when you’re finished doing all of that, and you’re still against marriage equality, there’s only one thing left for you to do: take your civility, and shove it.” Book of Tim 9:27

    So, now I’m really confused. According to you, we should definitely stop the rapist. But if its someone who disagrees with you, they can “take your civility, and shove it.”

    This could just be me, but that doesn’t seem very nice.

    “It’s just that, instead of only having to explain what “be nice” means (which is all I need to explain),”

    Yes indeed. It is all you need to explain. And you clearly have a lot of ‘splaining to do. ;)

    “it’s clearly in the man’s interests as well, since, in not being nice to the woman, he is breaking the aforementioned unambiguous, god-issued directive,”

    No fair importing Biblical values into an analysis of the Book of Tim. Do you interpret the Bible by quoting Chomsky? Don’t you think we should interpret the Book of Tim based on Tim’s views, which of course does not believe in God at all?

    I think so. So, since that takes away the negative of ‘breaking a god-issued directive’ I’m wondering how in the Book of Tim we justify stopping the rape from the man’s point of view. Obviously, the man is having a nice time, or else he wouldn’t be doing it. What is your basis? Is rape wrong because it is intrinsically wrong, or is it wrong because Tim says it is wrong? (the Euthyphro Dilemma writ small)

    If it is the former, there is something greater than Tim that Tim must answer to, but Tim says there isn’t. So confused!

    Question: Let’s say you try to stop the rapist and he tells you to “fuck off.” The Book of Tim says that this is an appropriate response in some circumstances. The implied question has already been asked–why not this one? but now I wonder, let’s say that you decide by some other measure (as you have done) that he simply must be stopped. Is it ok to kill him if he refuses? Would that be nice to him?

    Does it matter if it is a random girl? Maybe it only matters if it is your wife. If it is your wife, of course, and you live in the UK, you must be very careful only to use the right amount of force. Is that the answer, here, too? The Niceness Dictate requires working your way up from polite, “Hey chap, cut that out” to “I’m going to call a bobby!” to “Forgive me, but I need to club you on the head. It may, conceivably, kill you. Apologies!”

    But I say killing him still wouldn’t be nice, even if it would be justified. But then why should I listen to the Tim of the Book of Tim when followers of the Book of Tim (Tim himself, it seems) don’t abide by the words of his pacifist alter-ego?

    I have to say, you really have kept things clear and simple.

    I wonder what else I can find in the Book of Tim…. ;)

  20. Tony,

    Your definition of tyranny appears to extend to any federal law restricting individual rights, whether that be the right to own and fire anti-aircraft guns or the right of people to drive at twice the speed-limit (while drunk) outside your children’s school. So if the US is sliding irrevocably towards tyranny then it has been doing it for a very very long time – strange that the point would only come up as a major concern of yours now (rather than, for example, in one of our many debates during the Bush presidency).

    Regarding standards of self-defence in the UK, I think that’s a separate debate, and no doubt there is much fault that can be found with our criminal justice system. However, I don’t think that you can avoid the conclusion that some restrictions on individual liberty (such as, for example, the ones I mentioned above) are socially beneficial and do not inevitably lead to tyranny. That admission alone would invalidate most of your critiques of gun control efforts and bring us down to a more reasonable discussion of rational compromises between personal liberty and public safety.

    Dan

  21. “Your definition of tyranny”

    As I think I said, there is such a thing as soft tyranny. Your characterization of what I think on this is not accurate, because you are conflating issues, which is my whole objection to ‘gun control laws.’ Take this:

    “the right of people to drive at twice the speed-limit (while drunk) outside your children’s school.”

    Well, seeing as this actually happened, and the car crashed through the gymnasium wall, and went by my house to get there, I think I can speak to this from a personal point of view.

    Obviously, I do not want people to go too fast, while drunk, outside my children’s school–or anywhere for that matter. Do you propose we put up a “no drinking and driving on school property” sign? You don’t think the fact that it is already illegal to drive drunk covers it? I do. The sign would be pointless. As it happens, so is the law, because people are still driving drunk. As many people die to drunk drivers each year as to guns, if not more, and this despite it being against the law to drive drunk.

    So, in the real world… that is, the world as it really is, and not how I wished it might be… merely feeling safer does not make me actually safer. The people who are driving drunk regardless of the law are going to continue doing so. More laws will not stop that.

    The people who commit crimes with guns are going to do so anyway, no matter what laws you pass. And if you got rid of every gun on the planet, criminals would still do their worst, and dozens, hundreds, and thousands would still die at their hands. There was mass slaughter before guns were invented.

    So, instead of doing something that might actually be effective and might actually matter, you would rather restrict people who, by definition, don’t need to be restricted. In the meantime, you do absolutely nothing to curtail the law breakers.

    It’s like water sloshing around in a container. You don’t like what you see when the water is all to the left, so you tip the container over so the water moves all to the right. You’ve changed nothing except how the water is shaped and manifests. Nobody is safer. You’ve accomplished nothing.

    Except that in accomplishing nothing, you’ve taken away rights and liberties from the people you were least concerned about.

    I take it back; you did accomplish something: you feel better.

    And honestly, I find a false sense of security to be dangerous in its own right.

    “So if the US is sliding irrevocably towards tyranny then it has been doing it for a very very long time”

    Now he gets it!

    “strange that the point would only come up as a major concern of yours now (rather than, for example, in one of our many debates during the Bush presidency).”

    It’s odd how many times conservatives point out that there are a great many things they didn’t like about the Bush presidency, but it doesn’t register. Why is that? I find it bizarre. If it were someone else, I’d consider it malicious. But since I don’t think you are being malicious, why is it you fail to comprehend that we were upset about any number of things, from his closet amnesty program, to the (unpaid for) drug bill, to the stimulus?

    We often debated Saddam. He was a wicked, evil man, who, it turns out, led the world to believe he had WMD, and did in fact, shipping it to Syria, where it has now turned up. SHOCKER! Of course, I pointed this out at the time, but no one listens to me.

    Anyway, I do believe that the Federal government has the duty to protect its citizens. I remain convinced that Iraq posed a threat to the US and we were justified in removing that threat. Totally different principles at work in this then his movements to soft tyranny, which were plentiful.

    It is true, though, that some of my deepest concerns arose later, 2006 on. The Dems controlled the house, but he signed the laws.

    “Regarding standards of self-defence in the UK, I think that’s a separate debate,”

    lol, NO IT IS NOT!

    You’re argument is that ‘no one wants to take our guns’ yet I have shown that at least 1 in 4 in America does; in some periods of time, it has been higher. You have said that you (in your great and expansive benevolence) would allow me to have a shotgun in my home for home defense (thank you, oh kind leader, oh thank you) but you live in a country where millions of people have decided that they’re not going to allow even that. And why not? Logically speaking, that conclusion follows from previous conclusions. Eg, conclusion A led to conclusion B led to conclusion C. You would have me believe that if I accept conclusion A, there is no reason to believe we’ll be asked some day to accept conclusion C.

    The idea is absurd. Fine; you don’t think so, but I do, and it is still free to have a different point of view… until an orthodox view is established at the Federal level, instead of confined to the dolts in NY, CA, and IL.

    “However, I don’t think that you can avoid the conclusion that some restrictions on individual liberty (such as, for example, the ones I mentioned above) are socially beneficial and do not inevitably lead to tyranny.”

    lol, well, yes, of course. Not inevitably. Because criminals only roam the dark streets, and never turn up in the halls of power. Oh Dannyboy, you make me laugh sometime.

    Let’s pretend that I lived on an island with 100 people who were completely of the same mind as me. The 100 of us could have a discussion on ‘restrictions on individual liberty’ because we understand the difference between an object and a subject. I will even allow that it is possible that we may arrive at conclusions that, in isolation, a liberal such as yourself could agree with, and presently I oppose.

    The problem is that you guys can’t stop yourselves. The minute you say, “socially beneficial things justify giving up individual liberties” you are unable to stop noticing just how many ‘socially beneficial things’ there are. I mean, if that is your guiding light, then everything falls under it, logically speaking: school lunches, whether or not you get your flu shot, the size of your soft drink, the portions of your meals, whether you drive to work or have to take a bus, roadside lemonade stands by ten year olds, so on and so forth.

    Like an argument for seat belts I recently heard: Person A: If I want to take the risk that I’ll die in a car accident, what is that to you? Person B: Because we have to pay your medical expenses, the ambulance, etc.

    As soon as the public penny is expended on anything, there are people who think (correctly, perhaps) that they need to get in there and make sure it is ‘properly stewarded.’ And the public penny is now being asked to pay for just about everything, and so, everything is within the domain of experts in office buildings, thousands of miles away.

    Now, you will say, as you’ve implied, “Well, I’m not against lemonade stands by kids.” It’s in the same category as “Well, I’ll let you have a gun for self-defense [under breath: even though this is dangerous for your home and family].” As if you’re the only liberal!

    In the meantime, there are people who are against lemonade stands, and there are people who won’t let us have a gun even in our own home. That was in fact what Obama voted for while in Chicago, and was the way it was in Chicago until very recent supreme court rulings.

    You people can’t stop yourselves. You can’t control your benevolence instincts. You have no sense of proportion. You don’t know the difference between things and people. On the materialistic worldview, ‘people’ are things, anyway; meat machines, is all. And so, no. Since your every starting point is wrong, even if there may be locations where our paths overlap, our ultimate destinations are very different.

    By ‘you’ of course, I don’t mean you, DB specifically, but liberals and secular humanists in general.

    GK Chesterton’s “Eugenics and Other Evils” describes what I’m saying as ‘anarchy.’ He says that ‘anarchy’ is not lawlessness, but people who don’t know when to stop making laws (or stop anything, for that matter). On this view, it is not tyranny I am concerned about, but anarchy: where the individual whims of this liberal or that are allowed to override the individual whims of all others, lawfully or no.

  22. my last few paragraphs did not exactly capture what I wanted to say. You said you wanted “a more reasonable discussion of rational compromises between personal liberty and public safety.”

    I do not believe this discussion is possible with people of your perspective. For most people on your side of this issue, a ‘rational compromise’ is only a stepping stone towards something else. The ‘rational compromise’ is a means to an end, only they are not honest about it, because they know that if they were honest, it wouldn’t be accepted. Their whole argument becomes, “Well, if you accepted THAT, then you should accept THIS.”

    Since I know this, I’m not even going to give you THAT.

    This may not be you, but that is no comfort to me.

    Obama is not the only one who has read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

  23. Lol, intense!

    We appear to agree that driving above the speed limit and driving drunk are both bad things to do, but you feel that the laws already on the books are ineffective because people still do those things in some quantity? This is, I hope you won’t mind me saying, a fallacious argument. Penalties imposed on people who commit action X will deter some but not all of those people from doing so (I have already drawn your attention to prison interviews which showed that the stated reason why some criminals do not carry guns is because of the potential harsher punishment). If drunk driving were not illegal then more people would do it, and more incidents such as the one you describe would likely take place.

    “As many people die to drunk drivers each year as to guns, if not more, and this despite it being against the law to drive drunk.”

    That is inaccurate. I don’t even have to look it up, because I know that annual gun-related deaths are only a couple of thousand (max) below annual car-related deaths, and drunk-driven RTAs are a relatively small subset of that total. However, decriminalize drunk driving and see what happens.

    “merely feeling safer does not make me actually safer.”

    I quite agree, which is why I wouldn’t personally want to keep a gun in my house (all the available evidence telling me that it is far more likely to be used to kill or injure myself or one of my loved ones than it is to be used in defending my home), even if it made me feel safer.

    “And honestly, I find a false sense of security to be dangerous in its own right.”

    I agree.

    “The people who are driving drunk regardless of the law are going to continue doing so. More laws will not stop that.”

    Yes, and people who are planning mass murder will probably continue to find a way to do so even if guns are made harder to get. However, the vast majority of the daily death toll of gun fatalities is not composed of the victims of spree killers. It is anguished people taking their own lives and inadequate caution leading to accidents which make up the greater proportion, and lower gun availability has the potential to dramatically cut the size of that proportion, as comparing states with different levels of gun ownership demonstrates.

    “The people who commit crimes with guns are going to do so anyway, no matter what laws you pass.”

    As I said to EB, I do not believe that you can support that assertion to the level of certainty with which you advance it. But I invite you to try.

    “…why is it you fail to comprehend that we were upset about any number of things, from his closet amnesty program, to the (unpaid for) drug bill, to the stimulus?”

    I am happy to take your word on this, I just don’t recall hearing about any of it at the time. As with the precise timing of the appearance of the Tea Party movement, all this anger about government spending and encroachment on public liberties (by Democrats) has the potential to appear somewhat partisan.

    “You’re argument is that ‘no one wants to take our guns’ yet I have shown that at least 1 in 4 in America does”

    That’s wrong at least twice. I have said that I am not aware of any mass movement to ban ALL guns, and you respond with 25% of the population supporting a ban on HANDGUNS. If you’re not careful I shall have to accuse you of using a strawman for target practice!

    “You have said that you (in your great and expansive benevolence) would allow me to have a shotgun in my home for home defense (thank you, oh kind leader, oh thank you) but you live in a country where millions of people have decided that they’re not going to allow even that.”

    The logic of such clumsy sarcasm implies a rejection of anyone placing any restrictions on what you as a private citizen can or cannot own, which is absurd unless, as I have said to EB, you fully support the right of any individual in Wisconsin to own a thermonuclear device or weaponised anthrax. If you’re going to be hyperbolic then at least be consistent about it.

    Also, you can legally own a shotgun in the UK, it’s just quite a long and difficult process to get a licence and most people don’t bother.

    “Like an argument for seat belts I recently heard: Person A: If I want to take the risk that I’ll die in a car accident, what is that to you? Person B: Because we have to pay your medical expenses, the ambulance, etc.”

    Yes! Down with publically funded ambulances! And if someone is critically injured and too poor to pay for insurance or medical treatment – just let them die! This is the alternative scheme that you propose?

    Also, I think that argument misses the most important point – no man is an island. If you want to drive without a seatbelt, fine by me, but if you want to endanger your children by not strapping them in, or endanger other people by driving dangerously in other ways, that is not fine. And there is good evidence to support the idea that criminalizing such things does reduce their incidence, and therefore also the associated deaths and injuries.

  24. “Yes, and people who are planning mass murder will probably continue to find a way to do so even if guns are made harder to get.”

    There you go. Was that so hard to admit? ;)

    “However, the vast majority of the daily death toll of gun fatalities is not composed of the victims of spree killers.”

    That’s absolutely correct, hence my points about the importance of cultural considerations. Also, it highlights the exploitational nature of this current debate, which began only because of a ‘spree killer’ and not any time in the last 4 years when tens of thousands died by guns, and yet the Dems had the house and senate for 2 years.

    “It is anguished people taking their own lives”

    This is certainly a bulk of them; again, not a school shooter, right? And begs noting the obvious that the rest of us should not be limited because there are people like this–who, usually, can acquire a car and an enclosed space pretty easily. Or, just as easily, a rope, from, well, anywhere.

    “the potential to dramatically cut the size of that proportion,”

    All you’re doing is swishing the water around. So the suicidal won’t use guns, they’ll use rope. But they’ll still make the attempt.

    ‘As I said to EB, I do not believe that you can support that assertion to the level of certainty with which you advance it. But I invite you to try.”

    As I have said repeatedly: Chicago.

    Up until recently, this tiny, unknown town, once home to the inconsequential Barack Obama who joined in efforts to ensure that people could not have handguns, even in their own home, and even for self-defense, has the strictest gun laws and some of the highest homicide-by-gun rates.

    I think that is pretty slam-dunk: laws as despotic as one can possibly get on the matter, and yet still a lot of people shooting each other. Never mind the access issue. Focus on the deterrent ability of the law, which is what you are putting your weight behind.

    “I am happy to take your word on this, I just don’t recall hearing about any of it at the time.”

    You never asked.

    “That’s wrong at least twice. I have said that I am not aware of any mass movement to ban ALL guns, and you respond with 25% of the population supporting a ban on HANDGUNS.”

    I think you’re just trying to weasel out of it. The precise number and precise weapon changes over time. I can easily produce stats showing high numbers wanting to ban handguns, assault rifles, and so on and so forth, depending on a variety of things. The point is that despite your protestations, these people really are out there. Also, you keep making this ‘mass movement’ argument. I apparently make a distinction that you do not: what someone might want to do is different than what they reasonably expect they actually can do.

    I don’t doubt for a second that if Obama really thought he could get rid of every hand gun and ‘assault rifle’ without, um, dire consequences, he would try. Praise God! He would still let us hunt. Phew. Dodged a bullet there.

    “you fully support the right of any individual in Wisconsin to own a thermonuclear device or weaponised anthrax. If you’re going to be hyperbolic then at least be consistent about it.”

    I’d actually go much further down that road then you seem to expect. So, I guess that takes your argument off the table, eh?

    “Also, you can legally own a shotgun in the UK, it’s just quite a long and difficult process to get a licence and most people don’t bother.”

    I am aware. And I believe that is the epitome of ‘soft tyranny.’

    “Yes! Down with publically funded ambulances! And if someone is critically injured and too poor to pay for insurance or medical treatment – just let them die! This is the alternative scheme that you propose?”

    The local ambulance service here is not publicly funded. I do not think letting them die is the alternative here, even if I do believe they should actually be responsible for their actions, instead of tossing it off to ‘society,’ so that ‘society’ can in turn feel justified micromanaging mine and my family’s affairs.

    Since you don’t deny it, shall I assume you agree that if public money is on the line, then you have the right to now step into their lives and control everything that might have a public impact? I trust you see how that would literally encompass everything.

    “Also, I think that argument misses the most important point – no man is an island.”

    I’m not missing that point. In fact, what I’m pointing out is that this is your point, and you [by 'you' I mean the whole species of liberal] have no ability to stop yourself from making that argument.

    “If you want to drive without a seatbelt, fine by me,”

    Again, so very kind and generous of you. ;)

    “but if you want to endanger your children”

    by not… immunizing them? by feeding them junk food? by not giving them fluoride tablets? by teaching them that Hell is real? (Dawkins says that’s child abuse… how can you tolerate that?) Etc.

    I hope that you draw a line somewhere. I’d like to know if that line is non-arbitrary or not. Our government is populated by people who don’t know how to draw lines. At least when they screw up at the state and local level, one has better recourse for fixing their stupidity. Not so at the Federal level. Hence, the point:

    If you want gun control, the Constitution allows you within some parameters to make the case at the state level. The Federal government is not given the same latitude. For good reasons.

  25. Nawwwwwwwww you’ve been reading my blog! :-)

    Which, I now realise, I should have called “Tim’s Book of Tim for Tims”.

    Is it time to move this to the discussion forum? (I realise it’s my fault that we are now a little off topic)

  26. “Excellent – common ground! So you presumably would also acknowledge that some laws banning the private ownership of such weapons are not inherently fascistic and nor will they necessarily lead to all guns being forcibly ripped from your cold dead hands. Now it’s just a case of deciding where to draw the line.”

    Lol You miss the point by a mile! My beef isn’t (largely) with ‘some laws’ DB. It is with an attitude and trend driven by an ideology that has proven to have no break until ‘some laws’ turn into ‘more, more, more laws.’

    “Fine. Like I said, I am not advocating banning all guns, just making them a little less easy to get (in the same way that we don’t give out pilot licences for nothing) and a little less easy to kill lots of people very quickly with.”

    Well thank you Fuhrer DB! Your generosity to us poor ignorant masses, speaks admirably to your personal character. And if you were the only liberal progressive in the world (or at least the only one in any position of authority) I might take some comfort in that. ;)

    “So you are against any change in the status quo on gun control, despite admitting that it could in principle be rational and necessary, because of the slippery slope argument and your trust issues with liberal politicians.”

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. You always see a need to ‘change the status quo’ as if it was an inherent virtue. There never comes a point where you say ‘We’ve done all we’re going to do (even though more may be possible), now we just have to live with it.’ Like I said DB, there are no breaks in your mindset. And so I take little comfort in well-intentioned people like you strapping people like me into a seat belt, just so that I’m safe for when you inevitably drive off the oncoming cliff ahead of us.

    “And yet you have set your face against changes in gun laws which could, as I have demonstrated, save the lives of large numbers of the children and adults who you allegedly care so much about, because of the “rights” of a rather smaller demographic group (women = 51% of the population, gun owners = 40%).”

    You forget the other demographic – Potential Gun Owners = 95%. This may surprise you, but I’m personally not a registered gun owner either. Doesn’t mean I want my right to buy the kind I may feel is necessary in the future taken away by some white-collared monkey in his corner office 5 thousand miles away from where I live.

    And you haven’t really “demonstrated” anything. You’ve given suggestive examples that have shown to not really stem the underlining problem with different ‘products,’ and have largely ignored the fact such examples are in different environments. For all your “demonstrations” I have only to turn to places like Chicago that employ similar laws to the ones in the UK to show how things could turn up here in the US.

    “Also, your “apparent concern” for the lives of the fetuses of America is unconvincing to me so long as you continue to oppose the things which most reliably reduce abortions – comprehensive sex education and widely available contraceptives.”

    Hmmm, I thought my advocating a 100% safe and 100% successful methodology that upholds and uplifts every person’s liberty and right to choose was more consistent.

    “But mass shootings account for a very small percentage of the annual gun-related death toll in America, so the fact that they may often be premeditated seems of limited relevance.”

    Mass shootings, homicides or “casual murder”, violent crime in general, etc. Those are the issues surrounding the gun debate and the need to make them available. As I said suicides are indeed tragic, but in perspective those are issues of personal choice and need to be handled less by general society/government and more by the people who are more closely and directly in the person’s life.

    “The daily loss of life from suicide (often impulsive) and casual murder (often in retaliation for trivial insults or “disses”) is the much larger issue and the ready availability of guns massively facilitates it.”

    And as SJ pointed out – so does the media’s hunger for such events, and just a culture’s uplifting of violence in various formats. I don’t see much willingness to curtail the press or freedom of expression. At least not where Hollywood and the Video game companies are concern. Maybe if they were Christian companies, they’d be out of business and arrested in no time flat, am I right or am I right? *high-five*

    That’s where the differences in our underlining views clash DB. You think that if you ‘change the status quo’ enough you’ll be able to get that utopian-esque society Liberals and Secularists dreamed of in the early 20th. I on the other hand recognize the world for what it is, and thus understand my own powerlessness. And so am unwilling to support laws and policies that at best will be futile, and at worst will just guarantee even more tragedies. Including those brought about by the ruling government.

    “Also, you and SJ have yet to provide any evidence (other than “duh, obviously!”) for the notion that people without guns cannot defend themselves. The evidence that I have seen goes the other way – people without guns are far less likely to die by shooting, whether intentional, accidental or suicidal, than people who do.”

    Apparently SJs references to the three major cities with the most gun crime having the strictest laws went over your head. Also I believe SJ gave an example of a person with a gun, preventing another shooter from killing more people, and you brushed it off as ‘unrepeatable’ or something as if we’re conducting a science experiment.

    Perhaps in your mind ‘people without guns’ means absolutely EVERYBODY. In that your argument is essentially ‘If everybody doesn’t have a car there can be no car accidents.’ Duh, obviously. When people like SJ and I say ‘people without guns’ we naturally mean ‘law-abiding citizens without guns, not the criminals that will get their hands on them anyway.’ Or in case you haven’t noticed these incidents of mass shooting and such tend to happen because one guy has a gun, and no one else in the vicinity has one to fire back.

    “Owning a gun may create a perception of safety, but in reality it tends to increase your risk of a violent gun-related death.”

    In the same way driving a car tends to increase your risk of dying in car accident. Like I’ve said your argument is true as far as it goes, but is so simplistic it proves too much and is therefore meaningless. In reality owning a gun also increases your chance of being able to take out the 280 lb. thug climbing in your window, or taking out the crazy at the mall that decides to open up.

    “Good for you. Things which reduce social isolation and increase community support (going to church would certainly qualify) can be of great benefit to people in psychological distress. I would say that the doctrines of certain religious communities may also make things worse for people (the high suicide rate among young homosexuals can’t really be unlinked from a “loving” God’s alleged hatred and disdain for them).”

    I don’t recall saying I went to any social group or that it didn’t contribute to the problem, presuming a bit much are you? Community can also be the main reason in making one feel isolated to begin with. And I would say such doctrines would indeed be harmful. Glad mine doesn’t proscribe to such. ;)

    “Again, that is an assertion which is not supported by the evidence. The example I gave you of a law reducing how much paracetamol could be sold in one transaction had a measurable effect on the suicide rate.”

    For a guy who acknowledges problems are often ‘multifaceted,’ this is naively simplistic. I don’t really buy that it all came down to this single factor (and one which you acknowledge is easy to overcome). And as that same evidence shows the rate going back up, it tells me that such attempts only show you don’t really grasp the underlining problem.

    “…(and given that suicidal people are not presumably covered by SJ’s “law breakers don’t follow the law” pseudo-profundity) reducing the availability of guns could save a lot of lives. It’s a shame that your “apparent concern” for these people’s lives is less important to you than the need to protect the rights of a specific group and your knee-jerk distrust of liberal governments.”

    Reducing the availability of guns could also risk a lot of people’s lives from those who are intent on harm (and that includes more people than the criminals on the streets). And once again, you don’t understand my position at all – My concern is for ALL people. And I’m not willing to take away everyone’s freedoms and liberties just for micromanaging policies that accomplishes little.

    “There are strict licencing requirements, but it is possible to legally own a gun in the UK. Most of the people who do are farmers who use them for killing foxes, other pests, and (as I mentioned) occasionally themselves. However, because we do not, in the main, perceive ourselves to be in a crazy arms race with criminals, most citizens do not feel the need to jump through all the hoops necessary to get one.”

    So why not just go that extra step and make it ‘impossible’? Where’s your “apparent concern” there? Or is it you understand such a thing is in fact not possible even in your less populated and culturally different society? But you think you can achieve the relatively same effect in another nation with a differing history, ethos, and more people.

    “If it works for one, then isn’t it worth trying for the other?”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What, DB? You think we didn’t already have relatively similar methods for guns before Sandy Hook? Before Aurora? Or heck, before Columbine? You think most of Obama’s executive orders are anything new and revolutionary? You are just too funny. And it shows clearly in your statement – “be as non-lethal as possible.”

    As stated, for a car additional facets are possible while not impeding it’s function. For a gun it’s main function is in lethality. Whatever mechanical safety measures can be added have already been added. I suppose if Obama declared all guns have a mechanical safety mechanism that prevents firing you’d think that was an outstanding step away from ‘the status-quo.’ No, now the only restrictions that can be made is in how to make it available. And I don’t consider being told ‘you can only have this type of car, with only this many miles, with only so much fuel capacity, after going through 500 pages of forms, and only after waiting a month’ to be of the vain that upholds people’s personal liberty.

    “If it’s 93% now, in your mind, what was it under Bush? Can you outline the ways in which Obama has moved the ratio of control that much further away from the people, or are you just complaining about tyranny because your elected government is now slightly more liberal and doing things that you don’t like?”

    I didn’t say it’s ’93%’ now under Obama (yet), I’m simply noting this notion you seem to hold with such an iron grip that unless tyranny takes a VERRRRY specific form then that automatically disqualifies a government from being one for all practical intents and purposes, and giving you a metaphorical slap upside the head.

  27. SJ/EB,

    It seems that I have been wasting a good deal of my time and energy here, and I’m blaming the pair of you for this.  After all, if certain points of contention are completely irrelevant to your reasons for opposing any form of gun control then it would make sense to let me know that, rather than stubbornly digging your heels in to deny the available evidence on issues which wouldn’t affect your opinion even if you conceded them – which, by the way, you should.  It is becoming clear that the (all at least partly inaccurate) “criminals don’t obey the law”, ”if guns are less available people will just kill themselves with something else” and “law abiding folks would be left defenceless” tropes are little more than irrelevant side issues for the two of you, because your overriding concern is that there be no infringement whatsoever of citizens’ personal liberty (apparently being defined as the ability to have exactly what you want exactly when you want it) under any circumstances, even when a huge amount of lives, of both adults and children, could be saved by relatively minor changes to the status quo.

    SJ apparently feels that any restrictions, including the type currently and uncontroversially placed upon car ownership, on people’s ability to instantly get their hands on any gun that takes their fancy counts as ‘soft tyranny’.  He would like most sorts of weapon which are currently illegal to be decriminalised and freely available, and is willing to go a substantial but non-specific distance down the road towards privately owned nuclear weapons (so who knows what all that fuss about WMD in Iraq was), because to do otherwise is to risk the terrible slippery slope towards fascistic government regulation of his ability to teach his children that Hell is a real place.  Why this hasn’t happened yet is a mystery, but one thing is certain:

    “The point is that despite your protestations, these people really are out there.”

    Maybe so, although why their existence is more relevant to my position than the existence of people who want to reintroduce the death penalty for homosexuality is to your position on that subject is yet another mystery to me.  I guess us liberals must all look alike.

    EB, unsurprisingly, takes a rather similar line to SJ about the inevitable and exponential reproduction rate of laws (just like rabbits, if they don’t run out of food then soon we’ll be knee-deep in them).  He views any attempt to improve a clearly undesirable situation with deep suspicion – one can imagine him in the 1950s querying the inherent value of ending segregation or that annoying tendency of gas tanks to explode on impact – because he is entirely apathetic in the face of undesirable realities (“I on the other hand recognize the world for what it is, and thus understand my own powerlessness”).  It’s all very AA 12-step program, but I can’t help thinking that if he found himself in a wet ditch he probably would at least try to climb out of it.  No dice when it’s other people in the ditch however.

    The particularly ironic thing here is that it would be laughably easy to reframe these arguments as a pro-choice case against any infringement of a woman’s liberty to have an abortion.  I don’t think it would be any more sensible an argument in that context, but it is entertaining to see how in some people’s minds government intervention to reduce individual citizens’ rights with the aim of saving lives is considered to be unacceptable totalitarian meddling when those citizens are mostly men (as the vast majority of gun owners are), but an absolutely imperative moral priority when those citizens are women.  Now don’t pretend that didn’t sting.

    By the way, any attempt to draw a distinction between those two issues by using transient and fallible human laws (“It’s the Second Amendment!”) will be met with justifiable scorn.

    “…am I right or am I right? *high-five*”

    No EB.  No high-five for you.

  28. “…And you are quite happy to sacrifice 40,000+ in automobile related deaths for the measly ability to transport yourself.

    What a dumb argument.”

    Oh, SJ, I just love it when you are thinking “TOUCHE” while anybody with half a brain is thinking “MORON”.

    In the same way that it ALWAYS (and I do mean ALWAYS) comes down to “For the Bible tells me so” when confronted about the absurdity of their untenable religious position, I can’t help having the sneaking suspicion that this equally absurd and untenable position is coming down to “For the Second Amendment tells me so”.

  29. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.

    Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome blog!

  30. “It seems that I have been wasting a good deal of my time and energy here, and I’m blaming the pair of you for this.”

    And yet you still love us anyway. ;)

    “It is becoming clear that the (all at least partly inaccurate) “criminals don’t obey the law”, ”if guns are less available people will just kill themselves with something else” and “law abiding folks would be left defenceless” tropes are little more than irrelevant side issues for the two of you, because your overriding concern is that there be no infringement whatsoever of citizens’ personal liberty (apparently being defined as the ability to have exactly what you want exactly when you want it) under any circumstances, even when a huge amount of lives, of both adults and children, could be saved by relatively minor changes to the status quo.”

    No, it’s simply that we can see beyond our noses regarding these issues. As such we take into consideration the logic and attitudes that turn “minor changes” into “major changes,” the evidence of history that more and more lives are lost by uncontrolled governments that do not fear those they govern than any other cause, as well as acknowledge the fact that as flawed creatures we will never achieve that grand utopian society liberals and secularists seemed convinced is attainable if they ‘tweak the status quo’ enough.

    “Maybe so, although why their existence is more relevant to my position than the existence of people who want to reintroduce the death penalty for homosexuality is to your position on that subject is yet another mystery to me. I guess us liberals must all look alike.”

    Perhaps it’s more relevant for the fact their existence seems to be more in proximity to positions of power and authority than the latter types, and the system seems to be more and more geared to allow for their decisions to be enforced regardless of what the rest of society may think is best.

    “EB, unsurprisingly, takes a rather similar line to SJ about the inevitable and exponential reproduction rate of laws (just like rabbits, if they don’t run out of food then soon we’ll be knee-deep in them). He views any attempt to improve a clearly undesirable situation with deep suspicion – one can imagine him in the 1950s querying the inherent value of ending segregation or that annoying tendency of gas tanks to explode on impact – because he is entirely apathetic in the face of undesirable realities (“I on the other hand recognize the world for what it is, and thus understand my own powerlessness”).”

    And you DB, in typical liberal fashion are blind to the limited scope of Mankind’s power to alter reality, and the apparent consequences of always trying. You ignore any and all warnings of the inherent dangers of an increasingly restrictive government – one could just as easily imagine you in the 1940s defending the virtues of the gulags as a humane form of punishment over the death penalty *snort*, and supporting the people’s carefully controlled management in the Union – because you are completely deluded by your ego. But I’m convinced you would not in fact jump out in front of a bus going 60mph just because you find the reality that you wouldn’t survive “undesirable,” and believe you can change that.

    “The particularly ironic thing here is that it would be laughably easy to reframe these arguments as a pro-choice case against any infringement of a woman’s liberty to have an abortion.”

    Not really, since you would then need to address issues of where this ‘fundamental right’ comes from, and how this can’t be extended to the woman ‘aborting her fetus’ for the same reasons just because it’s outside the womb. Under ours, it’s easy since the two issues are connected in that both deal with a human being’s inherent value that comes from being made in God’s image, which is what gives us the right to life and equally the right to defend it. Now obviously you split hairs between the two by declaring Column A ‘a person’ and Column B ‘non-person,’ but you never have addressed where this ‘fundamental right’ for… well ANYTHING, comes from under your world view.

    “I don’t think it would be any more sensible an argument in that context, but it is entertaining to see how in some people’s minds government intervention to reduce individual citizens’ rights with the aim of saving lives is considered to be unacceptable totalitarian meddling when those citizens are mostly men (as the vast majority of gun owners are), but an absolutely imperative moral priority when those citizens are women. Now don’t pretend that didn’t sting.”

    How is it suppose to sting exactly? Going by the statistics you hold so dear, it would just indicate more women are killers than men (disingenuous to be sure as I’m not under any illusion that many women aren’t ‘encouraged’).

    Of course this comparison proves you don’t really seem to grasp mine and SJ’s views. It would be more accurate a comparison if we were advocating the laws regarding manslaughter and the like as ‘totalitarian.’ Taking away people’s fundamental right to kill another (apparently being the liberal’s definition of personal liberty so long as they get to tweak what constitutes ‘people’).

    Obviously that is not the case, as we recognize there is a middle ground (oh the irony of me needing to tell you that!), and a need for restrictions. The difference is we aren’t deluded into thinking that if we make enough ‘minor changes to the status quo’ we’ll ever be able to effectively end murder and violent crimes. We recognize the laws can serve as a deterrent, but ultimately that is not the government’s fundamental purpose. As such we know when it’s time to stop making ‘minor changes’ that either do little, or makes more problems than solves. Liberals such as yourself do not.

    “By the way, any attempt to draw a distinction between those two issues by using transient and fallible human laws (“It’s the Second Amendment!”) will be met with justifiable scorn.”

    Funny, as this whole discussion has shown you place a great deal of faith in those “transient and fallible human laws.”

Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>