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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.

 

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

  1. So what’s your solution?

    You dismiss the idea of gun control legislation on the basis that lawbreakers do not follow laws (which by extension would seem to mandate against criminalising anything), and refer to nihilism and amorality as a causal factor while also noting the relative security of far less religious countries that you have visited. Mike Huckabee reckons that it’s all a result of taking god out of schools, apparently, which i think probably means that he is no longer able to differentiate between “Born again” and “Born yesterday” as audience characteristics. If the availability of guns is really not a factor, and lack of religious belief really is, then why does secular and mostly unarmed Europe not have anything like the problem of mass slayings that the US does, given that our media isn’t especially different?

    Dan

  2. Strasbourg has a particular culture to it; when I went elsewhere in France, I found that the police I saw were all clad in body armor and military style weaponry. How to reconcile these two sets of experiences? Which one, if either, applies to the whole country? Downtown NY, for example, has police officers similarly dressed. It is not the rule locally. Whatever explanation we might posit, it won’t be because of the LAWS in that area, which was my point.

    Do you deny that lawbreakers do not follow laws? Instead of dismissing my point, why not address it? Do lawbreakers follow laws, or not?

    I also don’t accept the premise that Europe does not have the problem that the US does. I would be that more people have died in Europe to mass slayings in recent memory than in America. Perhaps you haven’t noticed?

    Here’s some data points for you to factor into future remarks:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/8657475/Norway-killings-The-laughing-gunman-who-shot-85-young-victims-one-by-one.html

    That gentleman was a Malthusian, by the way.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/gunman-kills-four-and-himself-in-karlsruhe-siege-7912699.html

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/03/2012319875423753.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7936817.stm

    Shall I go on?

    China is also ‘mostly unarmed.’

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443687504577564512826406388.html

    But of course, the same kind of thing happens in Europe:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44137724/ns/world_news-europe/t/dead-after-knife-attack-british-isle/

    So, would you like to restate your argument, or are you really going to stand by your assertion that Europe does not have a problem with mass slayings “that the US does”?

    I would guess that the real difference between Europe and the US on this score is that the US receives much more press attention. But I think in either case, the desire for that media attention is a much more significant factor in causing mass slayings than the weapons employed.

    As for the nihilism and amorality point, you would do well to note that whatever the culture (ie, America being ‘more religious’ as you imply), the people who are doing these things do tend to be nihilistic and amoral, if not a little nuts (perhaps because of their nihilism). Here is one of my favorite examples tying all of my examples together (eg, the media desire), but it is not by any means the only one:

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

    From his manifesto:

    Life is just a meaningless coincidence… result of long process of evolution and many several factors, causes and effects. However, life is also something that an individual wants and determines it to be. And I’m the dictator and god of my own life. And me, I have chosen my way. I am prepared to fight and die for my cause. I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.

    You might ask yourselves, why did I do this and what do I want. Well, most of you are too arrogant and closed-minded to understand… You will proprably say me that I am “insane”, “crazy”, “psychopath”, “criminal” or crap like that. No, the truth is that I am just an animl, a human, an individual, a dissident.

    You tell me what kind of law is going to stop a person with this attitude, and I’ll let you talk to me about gun control legislation.

  3. I didn’t say that Western Europe doesn’t have ANY problem with mass killings, I said that it doesn’t have “anything like the problem” that the US does. If you have information (by which I mean properly-analyzed data, not individual stories) to refute that then I am all ears.

    “Whatever explanation we might posit, it won’t be because of the LAWS in that area, which was my point.”

    That might be true as far as the odds of violence in a particular district goes, but when it comes to the form which that violence takes then barriers to the ownership of certain weapons do appear to make a difference. Yes of course lawbreakers break the law by definition, but the relative ease of inflicting mass destruction is a relevant issue, and freely available automatic weapons make that very easy indeed.

    “I would be that more people have died in Europe to mass slayings in recent memory than in America… Here’s some data points for you to factor into future remarks”

    Data points are not necessarily indicative of a pattern. If you really want to compare the respective rates of massacres, murder suicides or whatever then you need a much more rigorous methodology.

    “That gentleman was a Malthusian, by the way.”

    Yeah, I heard he was a white guy too. Do you know that Darwin, Hitler, Stalin and Margaret Sanger were all white? COINCIDENCE?!

    “I think in either case, the desire for that media attention is a much more significant factor in causing mass slayings than the weapons employed.”

    Well, I would never suggest that the only salient factor in these events is the physical presence of guns and ammunition. America’s gun culture, and the seemingly worldwide toxic cult of masculinity which links in with it, are probably more important and relevant issues. Media attention feeds into that, but also reflects it, so censoring the media would only close down one of the routes by which this stuff is fed to our children.

    “As for the nihilism and amorality point, you would do well to note that whatever the culture (ie, America being ‘more religious’ as you imply), the people who are doing these things do tend to be nihilistic and amoral, if not a little nuts (perhaps because of their nihilism).”

    Killing a bunch of children and then yourself is an inherently nihilistic/anomic act. People who are not mentally well can unfortunately end up in a situation where that seems like the right sort of thing to do, and it certainly doesn’t help if your family considers an exorcism to be a valid form of psychiatric intervention. However, you need to be careful to distinguish between nihilism and ideologies which derive their life’s meaning and purpose in ways which you do not understand.

    “You tell me what kind of law is going to stop a person with this attitude, and I’ll let you talk to me about gun control legislation.”

    Sure, when you tell me how anything proposed on your side of the fence is going to stop people developing that sort of attitude.

  4. “If you have information (by which I mean properly-analyzed data, not individual stories) to refute that then I am all ears.”

    I think rather that before you try to shift the burden of demonstration to me, you provide your own ‘properly-analyzed data, not individual stories’ to show that the US has a bigger problem than Europe. Do you have any support for that, or is that just your opinion? 😉

    “That might be true as far as the odds of violence in a particular district goes,”

    Yes, it is true, and such considerations must be factored in. It is simplistic to focus on the objects without regards to the attitudes and perspectives that dominate a ‘particular district.’

    “but the relative ease of inflicting mass destruction is a relevant issue, and freely available automatic weapons make that very easy indeed.”

    I am not going to say that it is not relevant. I am going to say that focusing on the objects is to miss the point. Some problems are better attacked at the source. Attacking the symptoms will not solve the ‘problem.’ And some problems cannot be solved.

    PS, automatic weapons are already against the law in the US and were not used in any mass casualty event that I am aware of.

    “Media attention feeds into that, but also reflects it, so censoring the media would only close down one of the routes by which this stuff is fed to our children.”

    What? Are you trying to apply reason? When lives are at stake? Surely the only proper thing to do is to suspend all free speech and submit it to the strict scrutiny of the government. You say it is the ‘gun culture,’ I say it is their desire to be famous, but in either case, it comes out in the media and feeds into more tragedies. Best to censor everything from here on out…

    I think you realize that it is absurd to think that ending free speech would stop tragedies from occurring. It is equally absurd to think that eliminating guns would stop them. Both approaches would only have the effect of reducing the freedoms of the law-abiding and making people feel better, without actually achieving the desired results.

    “Sure, when you tell me how anything proposed on your side of the fence is going to stop people developing that sort of attitude.”

    Wrong. You are the one proposing to reduce the freedoms and liberties of other people, including the very important ability to defend oneself and their family. That is your solution, so the burden is on you to show first of all that it would actually be effective. Since we’ve moved beyond the level of anecdote and ‘individual stories,’ I insist you provide “properly-analyzed data, not individual stories.”

    I don’t think you can actually explain to me how laws could have stopped the person I mentioned, and that’s why you decline.

    Hey, did you hear about this?
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2221370/Terror-suspect-trio-plotted-massacre-crowds-using-car-fitted-knives-detonating-suicide-bombs-attack-bigger-July-7.html

    No guns!

    You know what they should do in England? And this is just a thought from a distant American, so take it with a grain of salt, but maybe they should outlaw bombs, poison, cars, and blades.

    Ok, so maybe a law wouldn’t have stopped them, but if you got rid of all bomb making material, chemicals, automobiles, and knives, you wouldn’t have to worry about such things. Right? Right?

    What do I know? I’m just some silly fellah enmeshed in a masculinity charged gun culture. 😉

  5. “Sure, when you tell me how anything proposed on your side of the fence is going to stop people developing that sort of attitude.”

    You don’t seem to understand that we’re not proposing anything on ‘this side’ DB, because we don’t believe there IS anything that can solve the problem in any meaningful way. Mostly because we disagree on what the problem even is. We hold to the view that the REAL problem is one that’s been a part of human nature since Mankind walked the earth, and so things like ever restrictive laws, screening for ‘mental health,’ or promoting self-applicated purpose and meaning for life totally misses the issue, and thus won’t achieve any real solution.

    So as much as you might like to pass the buck off, the burden of proof is squarely on you DB. Unlike secularists, we don’t believe some utopain-esque society is going to come about if we try really, really, really hard.

  6. “Sure, when you tell me how anything proposed on your side of the fence is going to stop people developing that sort of attitude.”

    Sorry, DB, I misunderstood this statement on my first read. I think my reaction to it still reflects an important viewpoint, but I would have phrased my response different.

    In answer to your request that I propose how to stop people from developing that sort of attitude, I would merely note that, to my knowledge, there has yet to be a mass shooting by an Amish person.

    You may decide for yourself if that is significant.

    As I have just argued in a new post, you will NEVER be able to end murder and mass murder, so the idea that you can do so by legislation and taking particular objects out of society is naive, at best. What you CAN do is create a culture where the values accepted by the people at large itself serves as a check and balance, but then still take into account that this is not foolproof, and plan accordingly.

    Not all values do that. Certainly, the inculcation of those values simultaneously with the argument that those values are not rooted in anything other than opinion will not go far. I doubt very much that we will see anyone looking for ways to integrate the Amish approach to life into secular society, even though they are among the few with a near-perfect track record on this. (Not that they haven’t themselves been victims… but they have not been perpetrators.)

    I cannot control what values other children receive or speak to the evidential basis for those values–my view is increasingly excluded from American society. What I can do is teach my own children. I can say with a high level of confidence that my sons will never be a mass murderer, but if I do my work well, they may be the one to stop a mass murderer in his tracks. That’s if they are allowed to, of course.

    If gun control advocates had their way, the very best we can hope for is that they will be able to absorb bullets and buy some time so others can escape and get help. I would of course be very proud of them if they did that, but I wouldn’t particularly think very highly of the gun control advocates, who traded my sons’ lives for their naive indulgence in ‘feel good’ legislation that did nothing to prevent the event, and only ensured that they were not able to defend themselves when the moment was upon them.

    As they say, remember: when seconds count, the police are just minutes away!

  7. Tony,

    Your point about not merely treating symptoms is well taken. However, since you (and EB) also express doubts that the root causes of massacres like this CAN be solved then what is the complaint against at least trying to ameliorate some of their symptoms, especially when dead children feature prominently amongst them? I am slightly less pessimistic than you are about the possibilities of addressing at least some of the root causes of gun violence, including but not limited to the cult of fame, media sensationalism, the fetishisation of weaponry, social isolation, mental health problems, and cultural links between masculinity, violence and dominance. Cultural change for the better is not impossible, but symptom control is a useful aim even if we cannot achieve that change anytime soon. Not suggesting that it will solve the problem.

    As far as demonstrating that a problem even exists in the first place, it seems a bit superfluous, but I am happy to play along. Have a look at this UN report on homicide around the world:

    http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/Homicide/Globa_study_on_homicide_2011_web.pdf

    Compare the US and UK. The UK has some of the tightest restrictions on gun ownership in the world, and one of the lowest rates of gun homicides (0.07 recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009). In America, the corresponding rate is 3.0 – more than forty times higher.

    “…automatic weapons are already against the law in the US and were not used in any mass casualty event that I am aware of.”

    But semi-automatic weapons are currently legal, and legally-obtained semis have been used in the majority of mass homicides in the US. Unless you favour legalising automatic weapons (as well as tanks, rocket launchers, napalm and nukes) then I don’t see a consistent “freedom” issue with banning semi-automatics. Please notice again that I am not saying this would solve the problem, but it might well reduce the body count while other efforts continue in that direction.

    “You are the one proposing to reduce the freedoms and liberties of other people, including the very important ability to defend oneself and their family.”

    That’s entirely wrong. There are many options available to someone wishing to physically defend their home, something which only a small minority of people in the West ever actually have to do. What you are really demanding is for there to be no restrictions on the scope of those options, which ignores the fact that many common sense restrictions already exist, some of which I have mentioned above. In the UK guns are not a realistic option, and I invite you to check on our respective rates of home invasion for any major effect that this might have had on our defensive capabilities.

    Semi-automatic weapons are not sensible and proportional precautions against home invasion, they are hyper-macho toys intended to kill a lot of people very quickly. To suggest that banning them would take away people’s “ability to defend their family” is very silly indeed.

    “I don’t think you can actually explain to me how laws could have stopped the person I mentioned, and that’s why you decline.”

    If I was suggesting that changing the law could stop any and all acts of violence then you might have a point, but since that is a foolish and obvious strawman, you do not.

  8. Regarding your additional points, I would have previously assumed that guns would be considered unacceptably advanced technology by the Amish, but I have learned through a quick google search that they do use them. Who knew! i can’t really say whether or not it is significant that no recorded mass killer has been Amish since they are a relatively small demographic group. However, since their principle of non-resistance to evil, which might conceivably make them less likely to kill, is definitely not one that you would advance, i would say that if it is significant it still doesn’t especially help your case.

    As far as the heroic armed bystander theory goes, I am skeptical. While it is a common theme in action movies, there seem to be very few examples of successful non-professional armed interventions in real life. Speaking as someone who has been shot at, it is a paralysing experience, and to expect to have a significant section of the population trained up to police or military-level standards in order to be able to respond appropriately in such out-of-the-blue situations seems at best unrealistic. And even highly trained individuals can do much to make matters worse in the chaos of a gunfight, such as when the NYPD recently wounded nine innocent bystanders in the process of confronting a gunman. Add in the inevitably increased number of potentially fatal accidents and everyday conflicts escalated to the point of violence by a massive increase in concealed carrying which you are essentially proposing and it looks like an even less good idea to me.

  9. “what is the complaint against at least trying to ameliorate some of their symptoms, especially when dead children feature prominently amongst them?”

    I thought I made this pretty clear: at the bare minimum, such amelioration should at least address the symptoms/problems. This event is a case in point. CT already has an ‘assault weapons’ ban but the weapons used were legally obtained under that law. Chicago has banned guns outright but the murder rate still tops the nation. England has them banned throughout the country, but gun violence still occurs. So… it would seem that all the folks trying to deal with the symptoms are missing something… something pretty fundamental…

    “I am slightly less pessimistic than you are about the possibilities of addressing”

    On that you are quite wrong. I am very pessimistic. And that’s one more reason why I don’t want to be left defenseless.

    “Compare the US and UK. The UK has some of the tightest restrictions on gun ownership in the world, and one of the lowest rates of gun homicides”

    Why am I not surprised that you went to the UN for your analysis? 😉

    Your argument does not hold up, however, for a couple of reasons. First of all, limiting it to homicides is cherry picking. You need to include all forms of gun violence.

    Here is a 2009 article putting gun violence in Britain up 89% over the previous ten years: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1223193/Culture-violence-Gun-crime-goes-89-decade.html

    Homicides may be down, but violent crimes are up along with gun related crimes. That makes sense to me. England’s gun ban is not honored by criminals, and since the law-abiding have no way to defend themselves against these people, they are at their mercy for more violent confrontations. What is confusing to me is that there are any guns in England at all, since they are outlawed….

    The other way in which this comparison fails is because of course the US is many times bigger than England. You would need to find a state that roughly compares with England. Moreover, I wonder what you would discover in your numbers if you take out Chicago and Washington DC, which account for most of the gun related murders in the US, and until recently had the country’s most stringent gun bans.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6018a1.htm

    This is just one example for you to consider, from 2006-2007.

    They report 25,423 firearm homicides for that period. Let’s do a rundown:

    NY — 1,212
    LA — 1,612
    Chicago — 1,152
    Detroit — 792.
    Philadelphia — 899

    So, 5 American cities account for 1/5 of the gun homicides of the entire country! The 3 biggest there have the most stringent gun control laws.

    So, I really think you are very far away from making a fair comparison. Not that you are the only one. I found this nifty site:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state

    It makes the comment: “And the murder figures themselves are astounding for Brits used to around 550 murders per year. In 2011 – the latest year for which detailed statistics are available – there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms.”

    It’s as if the authors haven’t any clue that the US is also 6 times larger than England. Now what happens if we eliminate the top 5 cities above from that 8,583 figure?

    This is why the cultural conversation needs to happen and must be factored in.

    “But semi-automatic weapons are currently legal,”

    But you said automatic.

    “That’s entirely wrong. There are many options available to someone wishing to physically defend their home,”

    Like shake your finger vigorously at them. 😉

    “I invite you to check on our respective rates of home invasion for any major effect that this might have had on our defensive capabilities.”

    I think you need to check on that. I don’t have time to document it regarding home invasions in particular but I know that violent crime in your country is pretty high.

    Here is a top 10 list from your Guardian for overall violent crime rates per 100,000: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/07/02/article-1196941-05900DF7000005DC-677_468x636.jpg

    You guys are practically off the charts. 😉 Note, the US isn’t on the list at all, and that’s including Chicago, NY, etc!

    “To suggest that banning them would take away people’s “ability to defend their family” is very silly indeed.”

    This is just your opinion, and frankly, I think your opinion is silly. So we’re event. 😉

    BTW, for home defense, the shot gun is suggested, not the semi-auto. The semi-auto would be more appropriate in concealed fashion while out in the public, where walking around with a shotgun would make people like Dannyboy squirm. :)

    “If I was suggesting that changing the law could stop any and all acts of violence then you might have a point, but since that is a foolish and obvious strawman, you do not.”

    I can produce another 20 examples just like that one in 5 minutes of googling. It isn’t a strawman. It is a fact. The people who do these things don’t care about the law and have no problem working within or without the law to do it. I return to my original assertion: you know that there is no law that would have stopped this person, so you decline to address how yet more laws would have mattered.

    You have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role and purpose and actual effect of laws in a society. I don’t entirely blame you. There was a time, in my liberal years, when I had the exact same view. When I came to realize the obvious, that laws only constrain the law-abiding, I came to my senses.

    Because of this basic fact of reality, more laws cannot be the answer.

    “Regarding your additional points, I would have previously assumed that guns would be considered unacceptably advanced technology by the Amish, but I have learned through a quick google search that they do use them. Who knew!”

    True story: I was once at a sporting good store looking at guns and saw a lot of Amish folk there, many of whom purchased guns while I was there. I had assumed like you, so I asked the guy behind the counter and he said that the Amish were ALWAYS buying guns, like on a monthly basis.

    Another little known fact about the Amish: in the main, they are millionaires.

    “there seem to be very few examples of successful non-professional armed interventions in real life.”

    It makes me sad that you think that, and illustrates just how biased the media is.

    I could produce a dozen examples in five minutes of googling. These kinds of events tend to get very little national attention because, by definition, they lack the blood and gore when no interventions happen. Here are a couple that just came to my mind:

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/10/colorado.shootings/index.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_High_School_shooting

    And then there is this:
    http://minutemennews.com/2012/12/oregon-mall-shooting-brave-citizen-with-concealed-carry-may-have-saved-lives/

    I pay attention to things like this, and these are not even the half of it. In the US, many, many, many crimes are prevented merely by displaying the gun. It is in the tens of thousands, and has been documented. This is an old example I remember, giving a number of 2,500,000 times.

    http://rense.com/general76/univ.htm

    It seems that shaking a gun at your assailant is more effective than wagging your finger, after all, if the violent crime rates are any indication. 😉

  10. Tony,

    There’s quite a lot of misrepresentation in your last post.  I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was not deliberate, but it still behoves me as a a friend to point out where you are falling over your feet.  Case in point:

    – a lot of your statements either explicitly or implicitly imply that I think banning something necessarily means that it can no longer possibly occur.  Sample quote: “What is confusing to me is that there are any guns in England at all, since they are outlawed….”.  Banning something does not automatically make it go away, as the “War on Drugs” has made abundantly clear.  However, since the majority of the weapons (again, mostly semi-automatics) used in mass shootings over the last decade were LEGALLY acquired, often by family members of the shooter, this does seem like a point worth addressing.  If certain types of weapon were illegal they would be much less likely to be in the gun collections of respectable citizens such as, for instance, Adam Lanza’s mother, and less carnage could then be caused with the contents of said collections.  The positive effects of such a ban can be observed in the Australian example, where gun crime did not disappear, but was dramatically reduced.  There was also no corresponding increase in home invasions, suggesting the idea that guns function as a deterrent against intruders is mistaken.  See here:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2012/12/16/gun_control_after_connecticut_shooting_could_australia_s_laws_provide_a.html
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/02/did-gun-control-work-in-australia/

    – You also seem to be under the impression that I want a blanket ban on all guns.  That is, at least, the only sense I can make out of your suggestion that my proposals would deprive people of the right to “defend their home/family”, when all I am advocating is a ban on semi-automatics and assault weapons.  Your impression of my alternative home defence policy of “wagging my finger” exemplifies this error, so allow me to spell it out for you – feel free to keep your shotgun and/or revolver!  Their presence in your home measurably increases your risk of dying or being injured in a firearm accident or a deliberate homicide, but far be it from me to tell you that you can’t have them:

    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/160/10/929.full

    Another mistake you make is in assuming that local boundaries are totally impermeable to guns, something which is manifestly and obviously false.  Statements such as “Chicago has banned guns outright but the murder rate still tops the nation”, and “5 American cities account for 1/5 of the gun homicides of the entire country! The 3 biggest there have the most stringent gun control laws”, exemplify this mistake.  There are strong demographic reasons why violent crime rates are higher in large urban areas, and guns which have been legally bought in the suburbs or even in other states flow into these cities driven by supply and demand, regardless of local bans on their sale:

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/14715658-418/chicago-gangs-dont-have-to-go-far-to-buy-guns.html

    So I would say that you have only provided good reason to think that local bans do not work, and the Australian example seems like a major point in favour of the effectiveness of nationwide bans.

    “Here is a 2009 article putting gun violence in Britain up 89% over the previous ten years: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1223193/Culture-violence-Gun-crime-goes-89-decade.html

    Homicides may be down, but violent crimes are up along with gun related crimes. That makes sense to me. England’s gun ban is not honored by criminals, and since the law-abiding have no way to defend themselves against these people, they are at their mercy for more violent confrontations.”

    The data does not even come close to supporting that conclusion.  For a start you give no explanation for WHY the UK’s violent and gun-related crime rate is rising.  Are the criminals only just noticing that they don’t have to obey the law?  I have already said that the legality and availability of guns is only part of the story, and other social changes over the last decade probably account for the increase in crime. But your explanation makes no sense of why our rates are changing, or why the US rates of firearm homicide are so much higher than the rest of the western world.  Why are US children 12 times more likely to die from gunfire, and 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, than the average for children in 25 other industrialized countries?  Human sinfulness and the non-law-abiding character of criminals worldwide seem like very incomplete explanations, but that is all that you’re giving me.

    http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/00046149.htm
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/4/888.full

    “The other way in which this comparison fails is because of course the US is many times bigger than England.”

    That makes no difference to RATES of firearm homicide which are adjusted to take account of varying populations in the regions being compared.  Such rates are most commonly standardised per 100,000 residents.

    “Here is a top 10 list from your Guardian for overall violent crime rates per 100,000: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/07/02/article-1196941-05900DF7000005DC-677_468x636.jpg

    You guys are practically off the charts.   Note, the US isn’t on the list at all, and that’s including Chicago, NY, etc!”

    Yes, so despite a generally higher violent crime rate – which may be caused by many factors – our gun crime and gun homicide rate is still way below yours.  Despite, in other words, the existence in the British population of a significant subset of people who do not care to obey the law and have demonstrated their intent and ability to do damage to their fellow citizens for personal gain, we still do not have anything approaching the US’s firearm crime and homicide rate.  I know why I think that is the case.  Why do you think it is?

    “When I came to realize the obvious, that laws only constrain the law-abiding, I came to my senses.”

    Hard to see why heroin, rape, murder and certain kinds of immigration should be illegal if you really believe that..

    “These kinds of events tend to get very little national attention because, by definition, they lack the blood and gore when no interventions happen. Here are a couple that just came to my mind:

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/10/colorado.shootings/index.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_High_School_shooting

    So you’re giving me a security guard with “law enforcement experience” and a US army reserve commander as examples of Average Joe bystander intervention?

    “And then there is this:
    http://minutemennews.com/2012/12/oregon-mall-shooting-brave-citizen-with-concealed-carry-may-have-saved-lives/

    Seriously?  You jab at me for referencing a UN report (because Glenn Beck says the UN want to take away our guns!) and then give me an article about an armed bystander (who did nothing to verifiably alter the course of a rampage) from the Minutemen?  Like that’s a totally unbiased source on gun control.  Sheesh.

    “In the US, many, many, many crimes are prevented merely by displaying the gun. It is in the tens of thousands, and has been documented. This is an old example I remember, giving a number of 2,500,000 times.”

    Well, leaving aside that this was a telephone survey which generalises the subjective recollections of 0.001% of the population as being representative of the whole, that article even states that a gun was not displayed in half of all cases reported to the researchers, which rather undercuts your point.  Allowing that there have been cases where armed bystanders have prevented bloodshed, the preponderance of evidence is that more guns = more deaths, not the other way around.

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html

    Happy Christmas!

  11. Tony,

    I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but… when it comes to guns, what do you think Jesus would say?

    How do you reconcile your “guns for self-defence” view with his his “turn the other cheek / resist not evil” philosophy?

    Tim

  12. Also… DB mentions this above, but the first two words of your post seem to indicate that you’re not quite on board with what “gun control advocates” are after.

    Ban guns, exploit tragedy…”

    As far as I’m aware, only a very tiny minority of liberals want to “ban guns”. I think almost all of us just want controls on the sort of guns that have one purpose – to kill as many things as possible, in as little time as possible.

    Where do you draw the line?

    You indicated on Facebook that you’d be happy for everyone to have access to tanks, land mines and Predator drones (tanks explicitly, the other two by implication). I’m still trying to figure out if you were being serious, because you didn’t argue against the principle, you simply argued that people can already buy tanks, and no one had used one in a killing spree (although we never did get to the bottom on how easy it wasd to buy ammo :-).

    But surely you admit that we have to draw the line somewhere? At what point is a weapon insufficient to provide personal protection, and at what point is it excessive? Would a would-be robber be deterred by the prospect of being covered in spit balls? Probably not. But should we all be carrying AR-15s to work so we don’t get hassled on the subway?

    Irrespective of whether or not Joe Citizen could afford to buy a fully armed tank, capable of firing a nuclear missile, weaponised influenza, depleted uranium or cluster bombs, and, for the moment, disregarding any difficulties in legal implementation, what level of weapon do you think is sufficient to cover (your view of) the intentions of the Second Amendment?

  13. I am a quite a few days, if not a week or more, before replying to DB’s post, but I have to speak to this:

    I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but… when it comes to guns, what do you think Jesus would say?

    How do you reconcile your “guns for self-defence” view with his his “turn the other cheek / resist not evil” philosophy?

    I want to be clear that I don’t mean this to be insulting in anyway, as I have a great deal of respect for you and your genteel nature, but this comment of yours reflects a massive level of ignorance about Christianity, the Christian worldview, and Jesus in particular. The gap between this statement and the actual Scriptural perspective is so far, there is no hope for bridging it without a LOT of time and effort, most of it yours. I think it would be a better use of everyone’s time if instead you took your question here as a starting point for your own investigation, setting it out as a set of observations to be explained. Like this:

    “Christians follow a man who said to ‘turn the other cheek’ and yet a huge number of them–perhaps all of them, excepting one or two–denounce pacifism. Many believe in capital punishment and most believe that violence is sometimes the most appropriate response. Conclusion: either Christians are fantastically hypocritical, monumentally misinformed about their own views, or fundamentally stupid… or, there are some things that I don’t understand about their perspective.”

    If it is the latter (and you know what I think), then perhaps you may wish to endeavor to determine what those things are, and in doing so you will be able to find the answer to your own question(s).

    This question falls under the umbrella of one of my larger complaints about atheist’s rejection of Christianity: they don’t even understand what it is they are rejecting.

    Here are some hints for your research, should you choose to engage in it: Romans 13, Jesus’ violently driving out the money changers, the life of David, Genesis 14/Heb. 11:8-9, and the doctrine of vocation.

    To some degree my response to DB will address some of your other questions (though I doubt you will find them satisfactory). You may also be delighted to hear that over the last few weeks I have decided that a good blog post topic would be “In defense of self-defense.” This might also give you further research material and with any luck, touch on the question I replied to here in respect to what Jesus would think.

    Romans 13 and the doctrine of vocation would probably go far in helping you on this.

  14. No offence taken… but then I am almost impossible to offend. :-)

    I don’t expect you to reply to any of this because it seems like you are very busy, and DB is definitely owed a response before I am, but just while I think of it…

    1
    Don’t forget that I was raised Christian… I went to an Opus Dei school up until Year 9, and finished my schooling with the Jesuits. I only lost my faith in my early- to mid-twenties (so about 10 years ago). Needless to say that, as with all my academic endeavours, I excelled at religious studies, which, as every good Catholic knows, consists of simply rote-learning the Catechism. :-)

    Seriously though, my knowledge of Christianity is perfectly adequate.

    It’s just that we have different interpretations, as should be expected when we both read a polyauthored, re-translated, mis-copied text written some 70 years after the events they purport to describe.

    2
    I will come to Romans 13 in a moment, but suppose for a moment that all your bible references do indeed show that Jesus would be NRA president if he were here today. You’re still left with the problem that, according to Christians, he absolutely, 100% positively, said this, and meant it:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”

    A large majority of Christians seem to have simply chosen to ignore this bit, out of his own mouth, and follow the other parts of Scripture that apparently do justify guns.

    It’s almost as if he said “Don’t drink beer” one day, “Drink beer” the next, and since we all like beer we’re just going to pretend he was kidding when he said don’t drink it, or he only meant you shouldn’t drink light beer, or pilsener, or on Wednesdays, or with your left hand.

    If words are to have any meaning at all, the statement “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” is about as clear a statement against self-defence (and hence guns) as you can get. “If someone hits you, let them hit you again.”

    Not saying I agree with it (I think it’s one of the most stupid things ever said)… I just fail to see how it can be interpreted as anything but a statement against self-defence.

    So either I don’t speak English as good as I thought I did (geddit, EB? No, you wouldn’t), or Jesus was off his chops when he headed on up The Mount.

    3
    Romans 13 is a very confusing passage. God established Nazi rule over France, and French Christians were supposed to just go along with it? WTF?

    As for Heb. 11:8-9… I don’t think any lessons learned from Abraham’s “faith” can be good. But perhaps that’s a discussion for another time!

  15. Just further to my point 3 above… one of your reasons for opposing gun control was for citizens to have protection from their own government.

    How does that square with “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves”?

    Why should US citizens have guns to rebel against a government that may one day oppress them?

    Also… been doing some reading, have seen a few interpretations of “turn the other cheek” that I hadn’t seen before, but they all seem to either draw an extremely long bow, or further my second point above.

    Again… no need to answer. Just something to think about after you’ve answered DB.

  16. Agh… submitted another comment but it seems to have been lost in the internets, so will have to retype it as best I can.

    Just further to point 3 above, one of your reasons for opposing gun control is for citizens to protect themselves against their own government (e.g. Syria). How do you square that with “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves”?

    Why should US citizens be given guns so they can rebel against a government that may one day oppress them?

    Also, I have done a bit of reading, and found a few interpretations of “turn the other cheek” which I hadn’t seen before. But they all seem to either draw a very long bow, or serve to reinforce my second point above.

    Again, no need to response… just something to think about after you’re responded to DB.

  17. Oh gawdammit… now my comment has appeared, and you can all marvel at how badly I can rewrite something I wrote only a few minutes previously. :-)

    Actually maybe just delete the second one, AJ… and this one.

  18. the second one and this one?

    You were raised Catholic? that explains everything. 😉

    I still owe DB for a post 4-5 weeks ago, and plan on returning to it. Dunno, my time is precious these days. Not that I don’t think the conversations are worthwhile or that I don’t want to have them, but that I think 90 minutes over beer would tackle 10 weeks of blog commenting.

    I don’t ignore Jesus’ passage at all. But neither do I ignore the rest of the passages, such as Romans 13. They are reconciled within my worldview, at least in principle. (There is no question that specific situations can be dicey). The two passages do not contradict each other. They can be reconciled coherently. But since your Christian knowledge is up to snuff, then you know that, and know how to get it to cohere, so you don’t need me to explain it. 😉

    The Heb passage was supposed to go along with the Genesis passage; in other words, a man lauded for his faith nonetheless raised a small army to rescue his family.

    I think the word you are looking for here is ‘vocation.’ I don’t have my own Catholic catechism handy to check, but I’m pretty sure the Catholics are down with that concept, too.

  19. Tim, I think you are forgetting that this is a uniquely American thing – and restricted to certain parts of America at that. I don’t think there are many devout Christians in any other civilized country who are seeking to make assault weapons more widely available to the general public. American Christian fundamentalism goes with right wing views goes with thinking the Constitution is a bible goes with thinking it’s our God given right to have assault weapons. Nothing to do with Jesus at all.

  20. yea, its probably just an odd quirk of history that the US has been the beacon of freedom for the entire world for more than 200 years. It probably has nothing to do with the founding documents and the principles that drove it. That’s why Mexico has such a big problem with Americans illegally crossing into their country and Cuba has established a wet-foot/dry-foot policy. In the meantime, enterprising Muslims, Pakistanis, and Indians in America are nothing compared to the vast colonies of immigrants in Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc, putting out shingles.

    Probably 95% of the world would come to America if they could pull it off. As for the rest of the world? Not quite the same ‘problem.’ And this has nothing to do with anything uniquely special about America, and America’s specialness has nothing to do with its ‘Christian fundamentalism’ and respect for the rule of law embodied in the Constitution…

    I sure wish you guys who think like you do (Stathei) would just head overseas and live with the Europeans and the rest of the global community you are so fond of, instead of trying to turn this country into those countries. The way things are going, there soon won’t be anywhere that the world’s oppressed can aspire to go to. Every inch will be micro-managed by bureaucratic ‘expert’ busybodies who know more about how to run their lives better than they do. Presumably, at least, no one will have to worry about being shot by a gun… they’ll be virtual slaves… but they’ll be alive.

    Time to move to Mars at that point, I suppose, but only if you promise not to follow.

  21. Oh wait, wait, wait! I forget. The real reason for all this is because of America’s humanist foundations and the tolerance espoused by 18th century deists. Right. Got it.

    There, you don’t have to waste time typing.

  22. As I said, your passion for assault weapons is nothing to do with Jesus, but everything to do with your rootin’, tootin’, good ol’ boy values. You are as much a slave to your 200 year old constitution as you are to your 2,000 year old bible – to the extent that you really don’t give a damn what happens or who dies, just as long as your interpretations of your two bibles are followed. Your slavery to the Constitution is more in keeping with the loyal subject of a monarch than with a citizen of a republic.

    Nobody comes to this great country of ours because of the wide availability of assault weapons or because guns are used to kill so many children. It’s the good and wonderful things about America they come for, not those aspects of America that are, frankly, retarded. Scrap the second amendment, start again, stop the murder.

  23. I know two things. 1., There is a God. 2., you aren’t him.

    Your statement assumes a level of knowledge that only God can possess, and you ain’t him. I don’t care what you think you know about my real feelings or positions. This is probably like the 100th time your argument has reduced to some kind of declaration about what I ‘really’ think. Surely by now you should see that I’m not going to be swayed by such comments. God only knows why you continue to make them. I suppose you must find it works in your real life. You must be a real thrill to live with.

    However, your position on the constitution is dangerous and toxic. It is not about the constitution, it is about the rule of law. The fact that you perceive a particular law to be old doesn’t mean it can be dispensed with. Just what is the expiration date on a law that doesn’t specify one, anyway?

    “Nobody comes to this great country of ours because of the wide availability of assault weapons or because guns are used to kill so many children.”

    Which isn’t what I said, is it.

    If you want

  24. I meant to say, if you want to ‘scrap the second amendment’ the Constitution has a mechanism for you to do just that. Be a man and do it the right way and amend the Constitution according to the rule of law.

    Good luck. 😉

  25. Are women not permitted to amend the constitution?

  26. For Stathei’s sake, I hope so. :)

  27. Of course laws become irrelevant or absurd and expire naturally. There are many laws I am quite sure you would like to change, so your clinging to this one like it is sacred is dumbfounding. I asked you this on another thread but you didn’t answer – what is it about the second amendment that you value so highly?

  28. I did not see and do not see any such question put to me. Maybe it was bundled up with something else and I responded to that, instead?

    There are lots of laws I want to change, as you say. Why my view here you find ‘dumbfounding’ doesn’t really speak very highly of you, I’m afraid, because I have been crystal clear about my reasons for valuing the second amendment, but more than that, the rule of law.

    To answer it curtly, criminals and crazies are certainly on my mind, and it is the second amendment that preserves my right to defend myself and my family against them. It is a right, you see. Not a privilege that can be given one day and taken the next. However, I am aware of the fact that more people have been killed, and will be killed, by ‘criminals and crazies’ who end up in the control of countries. This is a historical fact and ongoing reality. We’ve seen it recently in the Sudan, in Rwanda, and within the last few months, Syria. You refuse to give this fact much, if any weight. You think that it will be different in this country for some reason. I don’t share that view.

  29. Tim: just for clarification, take this story here of a woman in America shooting an intruder in her home. Are you telling me that if this woman was a Christian, she should have simply allowed the man to assault, rape, and possibly murder her and her children? You think that is what Jesus was trying to get across by ‘turn the other cheek’? You think that if Jesus was the father in that house, that the ‘what would Jesus do’ formula means that he would have stepped aside to let his wife be violated? Just to be clear, you think that’s really the point Jesus is trying to make here?

  30. Tony,

    having read up on the study you cited suggesting 2.5million firearm self-defence uses per year ( http://rense.com/general76/univ.htm ), there are several reasons to consider its conclusions extremely suspect:

    1) The number of reported uses of a firearm to defend the home during a burglary implies a nationwide figure of over 800,000 such occurences per year. The National Crime Victimisation Survey (NCVS) tallied approximately 1.6 million burglaries of occupied properties in 1993 – the year of your study. In two-thirds of those burglaries the victims reported sleeping right through the incident, leaving roughly 530,000 instances where householders were aware that they were being burgled at the time that it happened. And since only about 40% of US households own a gun we would have to conclude that burglary victims used their guns in more than 100% of the possible opportunities to do so.

    2) In 8% of cases respondents reporting wounding or killing their assailant. 8% of 2.5million is 200,000, or twice the number of people who are treated annually in US emergency departments for gunshot wounds from all causes – suicide, assault, accidents, etc. Maybe the burglars just wait until they have three or four gunshot wounds from successive foiled break-ins before they go to the hospital, just to save themselves some time.

    3) The results also suggest that more than 400,000 lives per year are saved by guns being used in self-defence. The annual homicide figures in the early ’90s were around 27,000/year, which would imply that for every person murdered, gun owners were saving more than 15 others from certain death (usually themselves or their families). If this were true one would expect that gun owners should have a much lower incidence of homicide than non-gun owners, but the opposite is in fact the case.

    4) To take this survey at face value, you are assuming that an individual’s judgement that he/she acted in self defence is correct, when in fact many confrontations may be needlessly provoked or escalated to lethal levels by the presence of a gun. The Trayvon Martin case is an example – would George Zimmerman have pursued someone he (incorrectly) suspected of wrongdoing so recklessly if he hadn’t had the confidence of a gun on his belt? Doubtless he would – and will, in court – say that he acted purely in self-defence, but there is no doubt that there are people who believe that they have performed an act of justifiable armed resistance who are actually guilty of aggravated assault, whether or not they are ever prosecuted as such.

    Anyway, so much for that. The other observation i wanted to make was that the most common response towards progressive efforts to reduce the mortality and morbidity caused by guns in the US is to play the “Tyranny” card. Whether it’s you in your civil and courteous way, or Alex Jones screaming like a lunatic at Piers Morgan on CNN, the common refrain is that “we” want to take away everyone’s guns and are therefore anti-liberty. This knee-jerk reaction is on the same intellectual level as the charge that anyone who criticises President Obama is racist, and makes about as much sense as saying that people who are concerned with road traffic accident prevention really just want to take away all our cars. You see with cars, the public health vs corporate interest battle has already been fought and won, against stiff opposition from manufacturers who wanted to say – just like the NRA does with guns – that the problem was one of human failures, not anything to do with the object in question. But years later we have collapsible steering columns, shatter-proof glass, seatbelts and airbags fitted as standard (and as a result, a massively reduced death toll from RTAs, despite people still being occasionally prone to do reckless things behind the wheel), and there are equivalent things which can be done with the range of firearms on the market to make them less likely to kill your children without compromising your liberty (unless you’re prepared to get steamed up about how car manufacturers aren’t allowed to design their vehicles in such a way that the steering column will impale you through the chest in the event of a head-on collision anymore).

    See you when you get back.
    Dan

  31. ironically, it appears that one of my own comments was flagged as spam. :(

    Let’s see if I can fish that out.

  32. I had several comments flagged by the forum software as ‘spam.’ funny, except its not. So, they’ve just posted, ABOVE Dannyboy’s latest.

    — just to clarify… I’m not gone, per se, I just have lots of things I’m doing and as much as I love refuting refutations, I can’t always allot the time to it.

    About this study–it clearly has lots of extrapolations. I’m not hanging my hat on it. However, there is no question in my mind that there are many more deterred criminals than normally mentioned. As far as I know, the FBI/CDC does not attempt to measure it, and gun control advocates never take it into consideration. In my comment above to Tim, I link to another recent one. I’ve seen dozens of such examples. I once came across a source that had documented hundreds. don’t know where I saw that now.

    I have yet to hear anything that can be done with ‘range of firearms that make them less likely to kill children without compromising your liberty.’ All the proposals embody compromising liberties and none of them will actually make my children any safer.

    Your car example is not apples to apples in this regard. To make it apples to apples, you’d have to address the mechanical and technical effectiveness of the two respective objects. Do the brakes fail because of bad design? Does the gun inadvertently go off when it is not supposed to? Does the car work properly as designed (ie, it does not start up and drive down the road without a driver present)? Does the gun? You will find that gun technology has come quite a long way in making them safe in accidental circumstances. Eg, if you drop a modern gun, they’re not likely to go off.

    The problem with the gun is their use by bad men–people who are law breakers. To make the example parallel with cars, you’d have to compare them to use by drivers who are bad men–people who are law breakers. I have previously given the example of drunk drivers.

    Now, more people die every year from automobile accidents than to guns. I have documented how at least in one year, drunk driving fatalities was about the same as homicides by guns. And yet no one is talking about banning cars or significantly modifying them to deal with these idiots… because everyone knows the idea is STUPID and has nothing to do with the idiots who continue to drink too much and get behind the wheel.

    Now, I suppose if you were as serious about drunk driving as you were about gun control, you would advocate that every driver should have to first breathe into a device fixed to their car that will prevent them from turning it on. You probably wouldn’t consider that a reduction in liberty, but I would. Besides the outrageous imposition, I would also note that it will ultimately have little effect. People who are going to continue to drink and drive will find ways around the technology, because that’s what people do if they are this sort of person.

    How then does one get rid of drunk driving or at least diminish it? Well, clearly making it against the law hasn’t worked. The best effect has been made by shaping the culture through non-coercive measures.

    Your automobile example fails, I’m afraid. I suppose, though, we could thank the ‘public health’ establishment for allegedly making it more likely to survive a collision with a drunk driver. :)

  33. “This knee-jerk reaction is on the same intellectual level as the charge that anyone who criticises President Obama is racist, and makes about as much sense as saying that people who are concerned with road traffic accident prevention really just want to take away all our cars.”

    Funny, given how you’ve indeed made the argument that everyone is racist it stands to reason that you would indeed label anyone who criticizes President Obama as such. So was that a “knee-jerk reaction” then, or is this an example of how you don’t really believe in what you advocate consistently?

  34. The thing I like most about EB is that it is utterly impossible to make a bigger fool of him than he unwittingly makes of himself. Classic.

  35. So Anthony, you are quite happy to sacrifice 11,000 Americans annually for a theoretical ability to defend yourself against a theoretical attack by a theoretical government? I think I’d rather change the reality of dead Americans than live in your absurd, childish fantasy – and it is a complete and utter fantasy. If the Marines want your stuff, the Marines will take your stuff. And make you say thank you while doing a little dance. You shooting wildly with your shiny Walmart assault rifle will only make more fun for them to take your stuff because they will be allowed to shoot you dead as soon as you take the safety off. Grow up. If it’s SJ, EB and their pals v a single Marine, we all know who wins – and they won’t send a single Marine.

    And yes, unlike you I do think that the United States of America is VERY different from the Sudan, Rwanda and Syria. For such a good ol’ boy, you are very unpatriotic.

  36. That depends. Was the father’s name Lot?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist! Will have a serious answer soon)

  37. EB, that indeed doesn’t sound like something DB would indeed say indeed. Do you have a link?

  38. EB,

    It’s a simple enough rule – if you have nothing to say on your increasingly infrequent contributions to the general conversation other than parroted misrepresentations of my position about which you have already been corrected numerous times then you will be ignored.

    Tony,

    “I had several comments flagged by the forum software as ‘spam.’ funny, except its not.”

    I think it is.  The monster is finally starting to turn upon its creator – RUN Johnny, RUN!!!  :-)

    “…there is no question in my mind that there are many more deterred criminals than normally mentioned. …I once came across a source that had documented hundreds.”

    Let’s call it thousands.  I’m quite happy to believe that.  But millions – no.

    “All the proposals embody compromising liberties and none of them will actually make my children any safer.”

    Well I suppose it depends what you consider to be a liberty.  I am not proposing anything which would take away your right to own a firearm, but if you happen to consider the ability to buy any offensive weapon that takes your fancy with no background checks, licence required or waiting period and to keep it unsecured in your home to be a fundamental right then I suppose we might well come into conflict on this point.  But, again, we would be just as likely to do so if you considered any infringement of your ability to drive 100mph inside city limits with your kids unsecured in the backseat to be unacceptably “compromising your liberties”.

    “You will find that gun technology has come quite a long way in making them safe in accidental circumstances. Eg, if you drop a modern gun, they’re not likely to go off.”

    And we’re agreed that’s a good thing, right?  Because it seems to me that a hair trigger might be just the sort of thing that could give an honest, responsible (and of course manly) gun owner the vital edge in a shoot-out with an armed terrorist trying to invade his home, and that the mandatory removal of such sensitive firing mechanisms could therefore be seen as a fascistic imposition on an individual’s constitutional right to defend his womenfolk, or something along those lines, right?  It is possible to construe any mandatory safety standard as reducing your rights if you choose to look at things that way, just as all laws impact on your rights in some way.

    Actually, as far as I can tell from my reading on the subject, the reduced trigger sensitivity of modern guns is not a mandatory requirement.  Guns appear to be almost the only objects in the lives of US citizens which are not subject to Federal safety standards.  Chainsaws, lawn mowers, car airbags, …goalposts!  Almost anything which has ever been implicated in the death or injury of a child has subsequently had mandatory safety standards applied to it, except guns, which have wounded or killed far more children than virtually every other household item combined.  Perhaps if there was a powerful lobbying group called the National Goalpost Association (for example) some other potential threats to children’s health might enjoy the same level of immunity from societally-beneficial improvement.

    “The problem with the gun is their use by bad men–people who are law breakers.”

    That is the problem that you choose to focus on, and I’m not saying that it’s not part of the story.  But by homing in on it to the exclusion of all other considerations you are very much taking the position of a 1960s car manufacturer insisting that the problem of deaths on the road is only one of bad driving, and that there is no need to look any further for solutions to that huge burden of preventable mortality.

    In other words, you’re dodging the reality of the situation.  Many attempted homicides and suicides are impulsive acts, which are far more likely to result in deaths if there are lethal means easily available.  The “success” rate for suicide attempts by overdose is less than 5%, but if that person can get their hands on a gun it goes up to better than 85%.  Guns therefore have the potential to make a mixed-up person’s stupid mistake irrevocable, with the likelihood of fatal consequences being radically increased.  Just as many drivers who are not “bad” people make dangerous mistakes on the road, the consequences of which they are often protected from by enforced vehicle and road safety standards, people just like you also make mistakes, whether in family disputes, hunting trips or other aspects of their personal lives, which better gun safety standards could prevent from becoming life-altering or -ending tragedies.

    Your contention that laws have no effect on criminals is bogus as well.  Interviews with people incarcerated for crimes such as burglary reveal their stated reasons for either carrying or not carrying a gun during the commission of those crimes.  The ones who didn’t carry most often responded that didn’t do so because they would get a stiffer sentence if caught, and the ones who did carry guns said that they did so for protection against other criminals or the general public.  The vast majority of criminals obey at least some laws – it depends on how well they are enforced.

    “To make the example parallel with cars, you’d have to compare them to use by drivers who are bad men–people who are law breakers. I have previously given the example of drunk drivers.”

    And that is part of your strategy for denying the wider problem, because not all people who kill other people, or themselves, with guns are bad people.  Here’s an ironic example for you:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=894&dat=19991007&id=DJcKAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NU0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6462,934573

    Richard Peek Jr was wounded in a 1998 high school shooting in Springfield, Oregon.  His parents subsequently filed a $250,000 lawsuit against the shooter – perhaps also buying into your “bad people are the problem” thesis – but then Richard was later killed in a hunting incident when his 17yr old brother’s gun accidentally discharged.

    “I have documented how at least in one year, drunk driving fatalities was about the same as homicides by guns. And yet no one is talking about banning cars or significantly modifying them to deal with these idiots… because everyone knows the idea is STUPID and has nothing to do with the idiots who continue to drink too much and get behind the wheel.”

    1) I’m not aware of any major movement in the US to ban all guns, and 2) cars have already been massively modified and regulated as I pointed out in order to reduce the deaths and injuries caused when people accidentally or deliberately misuse them.  As a result the annual death toll due to car accidents has dropped by almost half in our lifetime (with many more miles driven now), and the same kind of benefits in terms of lives saved are possible with better gun control.  For example, US states vary in their respective prevalence of guns.  Children living in “high-gun prevalence” states have a gun homicide rate that is 2.7 times higher, a gun suicide rate that is 8 times higher, and an accidental gun death rate that is 24 times higher than children in “low-gun prevalence” states.  That is pretty compelling evidence for the potential benefits of reducing both the number of guns in circulation and their availability to children.

    “The best effect has been made by shaping the culture through non-coercive measures.”

    And that is definitely something which needs to be done with US gun culture.  It has been noted that various efforts have been made, with some success, to change the public perception of cigarette smoking from being something cool and attractive to something that is vaguely stigmatised and antisocial.  Something similar could also be done with guns.

    By the way, apparently your suggestion of “wagging your finger” at a deranged school shooter was not so silly after all:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20975608

    :-)

    Dan

    PS – just in response to your “challenge” to Timaahy on the subject of the reconcilability Jesus’s alleged pacifist teachings with the rest of his message.  It isn’t up to Tim to make all that make sense, or to demonstrate that Christians are consistent in their thinking on the subject.  That’s your job, and good luck with it!  Peace out (or not, depending).

  39. I am not getting notifications of comments. I don’t understand it.

    So, anyway I only skimmed the above. Maybe will return for more, maybe not.

    1. calls to ban guns

    DB, sometimes I think we live in different universes. In my universe, at least 25% of the American population is in favor of a complete ban of hand guns. See:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx

    We have a president who was against allowing people to have guns in their own homes for home defense in Chicago, and the present mayor of Chicago was just until recently the chief of staff of the current occupant of the White House, who likewise supports a complete gun ban. In fact, Chicago would still have a complete gun ban if it weren’t for the Supreme Court.

    Obama is a disciple of Saul Alinsky. What Obama would like to do might not be the same as what he can actually do, but it does not change what he wants to do, which I think has always been clear. The fact that a high number of Americans oppose any such nonsense is of little comfort to me. I know how American liberals work: the will of the ‘majority’ is of less importance than the will of 5 supreme court justices. We are just 2-3 people away, really, from having whatever Obama might want. And we know he wants quite a bit. Gun control is just one thing.

    Regarding my ‘challenge’ to Tim I don’t have any principled reason against reconciling it, except Tim already claims to know everything there is to know. What then can I offer? We are left with what I said: either Christians are idiots, and don’t even comprehend their own religion, or they are hypocrites (or worse) and know their religion entails false virtues that they wouldn’t dream of putting into actual practice, or, there is something Tim doesn’t know. 😉

    My money is on the latter, but since Tim insists he is not, it’s between him and God at this point as far as I’m concerned.

  40. “So Anthony, you are quite happy to sacrifice 11,000 Americans annually for a”

    Asinine.

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

    What a dumb argument.

  41. Interesting, so your response to my statement that i was “not aware of any major movement in the US to ban all guns” was to show me that about a quarter of the US population favour banning one type of gun (which, it must be said, is the tool of choice in the vast majority of gun suicides and homicides) except for police and “properly authorised individuals” (it’s unclear whether that means security guards or people with licences – i hope it was more explicit on the questionnaire). However, banning handguns for private citizens would NOT constitute “banning all guns” anymore than banning surface-to-air missiles would, although i acknowledge that it would inconvenience and annoy a great deal more people.

    As far as liberals being more interested in the positions of supreme court judges than the “will of the majority”, i think you’re being extremely disingenuous. The “will of the majority” favours same sex marriage, according to gallup, and once upon a time opposed mix-race marriages and desegregation, so whatever your politics we should all be able to agree that the majority can be entirely wrong. I’m interested in the positions of whoever appears to me to have the right side of the argument, as are you, so unless you’re prepared to advocate that the “will of the majority” becomes law in ALL cases, not just in those cases when it happens to coincide with your position, then i’d say you’re just slinging mud.

  42. “It’s a simple enough rule – if you have nothing to say on your increasingly infrequent contributions to the general conversation other than parroted misrepresentations of my position about which you have already been corrected numerous times then you will be ignored.”

    I actually did put in my two cents on the issue (expanding on your analogy) but for some reason it didn’t show up in the comment. Weird.

    “….one type of gun (which, it must be said, is the tool of choice in the vast majority of gun suicides and homicides)”

    Soooo you believe if you simply take away ONE type of gun the kind of people who are bent on suicide and homicide will just say “Oh no! We now only have rifles and shot guns available! *cough*legally*cough* We’re totally incapable of achieving the same goal with what IS available!”

    I think SJ may have hit the mark on that different universe remark. The logic is pretty clear that if you’re going to ban ONE type of gun on such arguments it’s only going to lead to ALL types being banned on that same ground. Especially when simply banning one won’t accomplish squat.

    “As far as liberals being more interested in the positions of supreme court judges than the “will of the majority”, i think you’re being extremely disingenuous. The “will of the majority” favours same sex marriage, according to gallup, and once upon a time opposed mix-race marriages and desegregation, so whatever your politics we should all be able to agree that the majority can be entirely wrong.”

    You start off denying it, then finish confirming it.

    Your comment of same-sex ‘marriage’ seems to miss those years where polls in places even like California spoke differently, and liberals did indeed turn to rogue judges that made their own decrees left and right. It’s only recently after years of hammering the masses with social indoctrination that you can use the (seemingly) “majority” argument. Of course your argument also doesn’t fly for the simple fact that this issue is more than a simple opinion – It’s an EXPLICIT law as outlined in the 2nd Amendment.

    And of course let’s not forget what the kind of government is called where a few individuals dictate to the majority. Hint: it’s not a democracy.

    Here’s the quote Timmy:

    “Racism isn’t a binary state, something that you either are or aren’t – it’s a tendency in all people and in all organizations, stronger in some than in others, and dealt with better by some than by others.”

    DB tries to equate it with violent tendencies or other such impulses that generally go in the ‘sin’ category (not that he’d ever use that word, of course ;)) and thinks this absolves him of his contradicting arguments. So he claims I’m “misrepresenting” him, when the truth is I simply acknowledge the glaring distinction between the two – you have to commit an ACT of violence to be violent; to be racist is *shock* to have racist tendencies.

    Clearly a distinction DB doesn’t recognize for whatever reason.

  43. Are you telling me that if this woman was a Christian, she should have simply allowed the man to assault, rape, and possibly murder her and her children?

    Well, no. I’m not sure where Jesus would have drawn the line, but I guess murder is a fair bit worse than being made to walk a mile, so I guess stopping someone killing you would be OK. Then again, “resist not evil” and “do good to those that hurt you” are fairly broad, and seem to include everything, so maybe it wouldn’t be OK. But he had a hissy fit at the moneychangers in the temple, and killing someone is surely worse than a little bit of enterprising capitalism, so maybe it would be OK. But then he let himself be killed by evil men, and hundreds of the early Christians allowed themselves to be martyred, so maybe it’s actually encouraged.

    I dunno. It’s all very confusing.

    Tim already claims to know everything there is to know.

    Not at all! I don’t know I lot of things. Like the meaning of the word “paraphrase”, right EB?

    I didn’t say I had all the answers. I said my biblical knowledge was perfectly adequate for the discussion. Granted, your knowledge of the bible is probably 100 times better (studying to be a pastor probably helped), but mine is at least on par with most Christians.

    So, your money is well placed, because there are definitely things I don’t know. I don’t see any Christians turning the other cheek, and I see lots of Christians resisting evil, and I see Christians advocating the death penalty (which doesn’t sound much like doing good to those that hurt us), so I know almost all Christians ignore these passages. I just don’t know why. And, I suspect, nor do most Christians.

    I did try and find out, but perhaps you would do me a massive favour, and give me a hint. Or just tell me. :-)

    But even apart from all that, we could take a step back. Instead of looking at it as, “What would Jesus do when confronted with a home invader?”, look at it as “What would Jesus do if he had an AR15 with a 60 round clip and you sued him for it?”.

  44. EB,

    “Sooo you believe if you simply take away ONE type of gun the kind of people who are bent on suicide and homicide will just say “Oh no! We now only have rifles and shot guns available! *cough*legally*cough* We’re totally incapable of achieving the same goal with what IS available!””

    Two things – 1) I didn’t advocate banning handguns, I simply observed that this apparent desire of 25% of the US population is not actually equivalent to “banning all guns” as SJ implied that it was, and 2) you are just all wrong in your representation of human decision-making in these matters.  As I said to SJ, suicide/homicide is very often an impulsive act – we can know this from interviews with survivors and psychological autopsies of those who died – and so the consequences are largely determined by the tools which one has immediately to hand.  What might be just a fist-fight in a firearm-free environment can become a crossfire when guns are readily available, and what could be an overdose suicide attempt may become a firearm suicide attempt (see my last-but-one response to SJ for the relative lethality of those two methods of killing yourself).  Why do you think that the US has such a high homicide and suicide rate?  Because a significant portion of the population has very easy access to weapons which are very easy to impulsively kill, either yourself or other people and sometimes both, with.

    An example – In the UK there used to be a serious problem with fatal paracetamol overdoses (I think you call it acetaminophen).  Not a nice way to die.  What dramatically lowered those figures was a law banning any shop from selling more than 16 tablets in any one transaction.  You used to be able to get pill bottles of a hundred – more than enough to kill several people – but the new law reduced the amount you could legally buy in one purchase to below the lethal threshold (for adults at least).  According to your logic that should have had no effect, because someone who is determined to kill themselves can go into more than one shop and easily get enough.  But they generally don’t – fatal paracetamol ODs are now really rare, because putting even an easily negotiated roadblock in the way of an impulsive action like suicide can often prevent its successful completion.

    “The logic is pretty clear that if you’re going to ban ONE type of gun on such arguments it’s only going to lead to ALL types being banned on that same ground.”

    That’s pretty stupid logic, unless there is some special reason why the many many types of firearms which are already banned for private citizens have NOT yet led to the banning of all the rest.

    “Especially when simply banning one won’t accomplish squat.”

    Again, see my conversation with SJ relating to the relative death rates for children resulting from firearm suicide, homicide and accidents in high gun ownership states and low gun ownership states respectively.  

    That’s not squat. That’s a whole lot of children’s lives.

    “Your comment of same-sex ‘marriage’ seems to miss those years where polls in places even like California spoke differently, and liberals did indeed turn to rogue judges that made their own decrees left and right.”

    Yeah, boo-frikkin-hoo EB.  We’ve been through this before – fundamental rights are not determined by a vote, so I really don’t care that a majority of Alabama residents didn’t approve of mixed-race marriage being legal until the late 1990s, because it was still right for those unions to be legally endorsed.  A 100% participatory democracy has never actually existed, and is unworkable in practice, so the judicial and executive branches play an important function in ensuring (all) citizens’ rights and safety.  So, how about I go on supporting progressive and equitable legislation regardless of where it comes from, and you can carry on shrieking about “liberal judicial activism” when you’re in the reactionary majority and then whining about “liberal social indoctrination” when you’re in the reactionary minority.  Mmmkay there Mr Silly Bear?

    And regarding the racism thing?  You may consider yourself deservedly ignored.

  45. Thanks EB, that is exactly what I suspected DB had said. It’s not that everyone is racist, it’s that everyone is capable of doing racist things.

    As usual, it is you that does not grasp the distinction.

  46. Tim,

    I think your problem is that you missed the memo about Macho Jesus. He had a change of career – instead a carpenter he’s now a sheet metal worker, and when he turns the other cheek it’s only so he can grab another can of whup-@$$! :-)

  47. I’m not getting notifications still. Oh well.

    I think its time for EB, DB, and Tim to bury the hatchet. I call for a round of beer sometime here soon. I do believe St. Louis MO is the geographic center, more or less. Can we start making plans?

    Maybe we can get Cimics to come, too, although I don’t know if he drinks beer.

    ———

    My point Tim, is not necessarily directed at your general knowledge of Christianity, but rather your grasp of how Christians have historically reconciled these ‘warring’ ideas. Clearly, they have. Like I tell my students, hard questions have hard answers. Yours is a hard question, and that means the answer won’t be easily come by. I think it would benefit you most if you began with the idea “Christians are not hypocritical idiots… there’s GOT to be a resolution, somewhere…” I think if you put your nose to the grindstone the answers would be more satisfying than if I just handed them to you. I gave you some good starting passages.

    One last hint: stop thinking in terms of compartments and instead try to comprehend the whole worldview as a single piece of fabric. There are things that tie in on this debate that you either do not know, or are not giving sufficient weight.

    And DB, that’s right. Jesus was a man’s man. That is what makes his sacrifice something of interest. If he were a simpering bean counter, no one would be impressed that he laid down his life–after all, what else could he do? It is precisely because he could open a can of whoop-a$$ that made the fact that he did not something taking notice of. :)

  48. But, DB, every time I see a photo of him he’s wearing a dress and sandals, whereas most macho men seem to wear hard hats and denim cut-offs. I don’t get it.

    Tony – fair enough. But that raises another, possibly more important, issue for Christianity, and protestants in particular – scriptural accessibility. Should the word of god require noses to grindstones to be understood? I mean, we (former) Catholics had the brainiacs of the Holy Mother Church to interpret our bibles for us. But non-Catholics… sheesh… how are they supposed to make sense of anything?

    And beers would be tops. First round’s on EB (not literally, of course). :-)

  49. “1) I didn’t advocate banning handguns, I simply observed that this apparent desire of 25% of the US population is not actually equivalent to “banning all guns” as SJ implied that it was, and…”

    I find this to be naïve in the extreme. It’s abundantly clear this debate isn’t centered around banning ‘certain types’ but on the Second Amendment as a whole. If they call only for certain types now it’s just inevitable more will follow like dominos. This is even more of a certainty given the tendency of progressive’s need to ‘do something’ in a reactionary attempt to prevent tragedy.

    “2) you are just all wrong in your representation of human decision-making in these matters. As I said to SJ, suicide/homicide is very often an impulsive act – we can know this from interviews with survivors and psychological autopsies of those who died”

    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*

    Generalize such acts however you like DB, the fact is once a person’s mind is set on such courses they’ll find a way to carry it out. True suicides and homicides by firearm is high because it’s readily available, but you miss your own point – THEY WILL USE WHAT’S AVAILABLE. The only thing such proposals will accomplish is raising those statistics of suicide by overdose or by just breathing exhaust fumes. Still the same result. Likewise with homicide. If one type of gun isn’t legally available they’ll turn to what is (or just obtain what they want illegally). And then we’re back with the same issue.

    With the guns at least. Suicide by exhaust inhalation could probably jump ten-fold and no one is going to call for their cars to be taken away.

    “But they generally don’t – fatal paracetamol ODs are now really rare…”

    Sure, paracetamol ODs. Yet suicide rate in the UK is on the rise (admittedly not yet as bad as 1998, but still up there) after a few years in decline and from what I read the highest methods are hanging and alcohol. So like I said, if you just take one method, all you’re going to do for those determined enough is raise the statistics of other methods.

    “That’s pretty stupid logic, unless there is some special reason why the many many types of firearms which are already banned for private citizens have NOT yet led to the banning of all the rest.”

    Sure – time. These processes are gradual (a necessity given the many years of gun circulation and availability in the US), and generally those looking to ban guns have to wait for an inevitable tragedy as a catalyst so that people are persuaded on emotion and pain instead of a clear head. If people tried to do things overnight, you’d see a change in management faster than when the Democrats lost control of Congress for over-reaching.

    “Again, see my conversation with SJ relating to the relative death rates for children resulting from firearm suicide, homicide and accidents in high gun ownership states and low gun ownership states respectively.”

    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.

    “We’ve been through this before – fundamental rights are not determined by a vote…”

    I know. That’s how you justify going to those Supreme Court Judges. By believing it’s a “fundamental right” (even if it’s never once stated in any law before you decide it is one). So don’t try to deny liberals circumvent the majority whenever liberals can’t persuade the masses. When it comes down to it it’s as you say – you don’t care (and are apparently quite proud of that). As such, liberals will use any methodology to get their views through. Even if it means turning a democracy more and more into a dictatorship.

    Timmy:

    “Thanks EB, that is exactly what I suspected DB had said. It’s not that everyone is racist, it’s that everyone is capable of doing racist things.

    As usual, it is you that does not grasp the distinction.”

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

  50. 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?

  51. 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.’

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

  53. 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.

  54. 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?

  55. 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. 😉

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. “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?

  59. :)

  60. 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?

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. Re: guns…

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

  64. 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

  65. 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?

  66. 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

  67. 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.

  68. “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…. 😉

  69. 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

  70. “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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. “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.

  74. 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)

  75. “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.

  76. 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.

  77. “…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”.

  78. 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!

  79. “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.”

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