A question about guns

Don Quixote here, since Bookie appear to be back to her iPhone.  As you may know I’m a libertarian on social issues and a conservative on economic and military issues.  I believe in a very broad definition of freedom and a vigorous defense of those freedoms.  But the one issue on which I have trouble sticking to my libertarian/conservative guns is, well, guns. 

Oh, I understand intellectually that Americans should be free to have guns, to protect themselves, their homes and their family, if nothing else.  But we pay a fearsome price for that privilege.  Consider that in Oakland, California alone more than 100 murders take place each and every year, the vast majority of them by the use of a gun.  In the attached link, check the boxes for 2007 and 2008 and watch the screen fill up with markers representing real, dead human beings.

An article in  Wikipedia notes that, “According to the FBI, in 2008 14,180 people were murdered in America.

Ira M. Leonard has calculated that during the 20th century, more Americans were murdered by fellow Americans than soldiers died on active duty during the First World War, Second World War, Korean War and the Vietnam War combined.”

Plus, Lord knows how many attempted murders resulted in painful and permanent injuries.  And I haven’t even begun to talk about gun accidents.  Is there any real doubt that many of these human tragedies could be prevented by serious gun control?  On the other hand, is there any way to preserve the right of peaceful, law-abiding people to have guns while getting them out of the hands of murders (assuming we can identify murders in advance at all)?  I have no answers, but the questions are deeply troubling.  What do you think?

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        Comments

        1. says

          Sr Quijana, you’re making an essential mistake here: you’re supposing that guns are the cause of the violence.  That’s obviously silly on its face — a gun can’t shoot itself — but a convenient shorthand for the notion that wider availability of guns leads to greater violence.
           
          Again, we have to be careful with our assumptions here — clearly, if there were no such thing as “guns” there would be no “gun violence”, and if we renamed them “quatloos” we’d be talking about “quatloo violence” but gun violence would go away.
           
          What we really need to consider is whether restricting gun ownership results in an overall decrease in the number of violent crimes committed with guns, and that turns out not to be the case: there are many studies that indicate, in fact, a negative correlation, that is, “more guns, less crime:.

        2. stanley says

          Re the statistics in Oakland the reference is to MURDERS. Are there no statistics for “lives saved in self defense”? Two different takes on guns.
          I don’t care for guns either, but I put myself or loved one in the position of being attacked. Would I want a gun then? Yes, the biggest most damaging one possible, fully loaded with extra ammo. This would be choosing the lesser of two evils.
          Then I imagine if I were to want to commit mayhem on another individual for illegal or immoral purposes and use a gun in the commission of this act. I simply cannot imagine that for me, so it would not happen (hopefully). And if it ever were to happen, since guns exist I would go get one anyway, law or not.
          I have read in the past somewhere that one of the reasons for citizens being allowed to own guns was for protection from the government! I think this is a valid and purposeful reason. If government is doing its job properly and respecting the rights of the citizens then they have nothing to fear, right? Is this not the argument government uses if it accuses you of a crime, that if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear? Turn that around.
           

        3. says

          “A gun is a tool, Marian… A gun’s as good or as bad as the man using it.” – Shane (1953)
           
          I’m sorry, but your statistics are tainted by the proposition that if their were no guns, somehow, no one, or at least less would die by violence? I’m sorry, but that is fanciful speculation.
          And we already have more than enough laws and regulations concerning gun control. They are simply not enforced! More laws don’t make the bad guys turn in their illegal fire arms.
           
          Ira M. Leonard has calculated that during the 20th century, more Americans were murdered by fellow Americans than soldiers died on active duty during the First World War, Second World War, Korean War and the Vietnam War combined.
          So where is the Civil War in his calculations?
          Gee, could it be that these are the convenient numbers that are needed to make that straw man sweeping statement?
           
          My suggestion to you: Buy a gun. Take training and safety classes.
          Then consider this: are you a more dangerous person because of it?
          Do you feel more inclined to do violence against anyone?
          Or are you more well informed by first hand knowledge, and not mere intellectual speculation?

        4. jj says

          Guns just make it easy – they are not in and of themselves causative.  If there were 14,180 murders in 2008, I doubt they were all shot.  And the biggest issue with murder in this country is not the method, it’s the complete lack of punishment.  14,180 murders – how many executions in 2008?  30?  35?  Most of them for crimes committed a decade earlier.  I love the argument that execution is “not a deterrent.”  How would we know?  It’s never been tried.  To be a deterrent the punishment has to be swift, sure, and certain, so you can say to yourself: “if I do pop this guy, I will die for it.”  But in America you don’t need to worry about that.  If you’re one of the killers of the 14,180, you have approximately a .00353% chance of paying the ultimate price for the ultimate crime.  And if you do pay it, it’ll be ten years later.  That’s not a deterrent, that’s a lottery where you  have a 99.996% chance of winning.  That’s a joke, not a deterrent.
           
          Point two, as Charlie points out, places where everyone’s armed are generally safer.  That’s because swift and sure punishment does indeed act as a deterrent.  I live in a place where everybody and his grandmother is armed – and the result is we don’t have much crime.  Stuff like what they call “home invasions” happen all over this state – particularly in the good liberal cities where everybody’s a sweetie – but home invasions are barely a statistical blip in my county.  Houses will get burgled now and then – but not when the homeowners are home.  No matter how stoned you are as a home invader, if you know you have an excellent chance of being blown apart in the commission of the crime, you don’t commit the crime.  My own home features four S & W .38s (different barrel lengths, and we like Smiths); two .357s; an old police .32, two nines, and a very nice Charter Arms .44 – plus a couple of long guns.  That’s routine hereabouts.  We’re all licensed to carry concealed, too – as is most of the county.  (This is a “shall issue” state – if you pass the initial round of background stuff to buy the gun, then they have to give you the license to carry it.)  I don’t think there’s ever been a car-jacking in this county.
           
          Point three is the flip side: in places where they’ve successfully outlawed lawful gun ownership, crime has gone through the roof.  Stand up, Australia and England!  London has, in the space of not very many years at all (I lived there from 1975 – 1978) gone from one of the safest cities in the world to one of the most dangerous.  I won’t quote any studies, two seconds of internet surfing will give you more data than you can swallow about what’s happened in Australia and England since gun ownership went away.  Everybody’s heard the stories.  The famous unarmed British Bobbys – they’re all armed these days.  You just don’t see the belly guns under the tunic.  (They still try to look unarmed, for the tourist trade, but the unarmed days are gone.  And if you do run into an actual unarmed tourist mannequin, he’ll be within ten seconds’ reach of an armed one.)  It is not at all a cliche to say that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.  It is – or ought to be – obvious.  Why the obvious never seems to penetrate the cement skulls of liberals I don’t know, but there it is.  Obviously outlaws are not concerned with obeying the law, so all gun bans do is disarm the law-abiding.  Five-year olds can figure this out.  Nancy Pelosi, of course, cannot.
           
          And that leads directly into point four: we do not in fact pay a “fearsome price” for owning guns.  The people who own them – and are known to the state, which is to say: own them legitimately -  did not kill a single one of those 100 murder victims in Oakland.  Every single one of those people was killed by someone with no regard for the law.  Society paid no price at all for those Oaklanders privileged to own guns.  Zero.  Nada.  It was free.  So you come back to: control your criminals, Oakland.  (And how many crimes in Oakland were prevented because some collection of street lice knew a household they otherwise would have robbed was armed?  Statistics on things that didn’t happen are impossible, so we’ll never know – but I bet it happened.)  When you catch one who killed someone, flush him, with no BS.  I never saw, read about, or heard of a gun that jumped out of a bureau drawer, leaped into the air, and pulled its own trigger, killing someone.  It never happened.
           
          No one has ever argued that a firearm is not a potentially dangerous apparatus.  What the hell else is it intended to be?  We buy firearms, and have been buying them throughout the life of this land, for food, recreation, and protection.  Their use to provide food is minimal these days, the recreational function probably remains about the same, and the protective value has likely increased over the last couple of decades, since judges began deciding that criminals have more rights than people protecting their homes do.  There are already so many weapons in the hands of criminals, and the courts have been making crime so much less hazardous for them, that there is in effect an active discrimination against the law-abiding citizen.
           
          If you want to avert tragedies, eliminate cars.  I hate to revert to a cliche (things only become cliches because they’re incontrovertible truths) but 14,180 people were murdered in 2008 – and 40,000 were killed in cars.  The elimination of autos will render society about twice as safe as will the elimination of guns.

        5. suek says

          Besides all of the above, the second amendment wasn’t to permit citizens to protect themselves from each other, it was to allow them to protect themselves from _government_.  You give power to the government in the form of police who carry guns, and the military which carries guns.  Given the peace we’ve had for 200+ years, we don’t even think about that, but given a different government, we’d all be at the mercy of the government.  The Founders knew that.  They even discussed the need for periodic revolution to limit the power of government.  They were well aware of human nature – which we seem to ignore.
           
          I’ve seen figures that indicate that _doctors_ are responsible for more deaths than your murder rate – how about outlawing doctors?  If you want to outlaw everything that endangers human’s lives, you soon get like GB, where even kitchen knives are illegal. (I don’t know the limits on that one, but certainly any knife used for self defense)
           
          Also, there’s this:
          http://ferfal.blogspot.com/2010/08/urbal-survival-question-police.html
           
          And of course, we should never forget that one of the first things Hitler did was to collect all the guns which had been required to be registered so that the state would know “who they could depend upon”.  Yeah.  Right.  No guns, no self-defense.  We have been so fortunate to have 200+ years of peace.  We don’t know how lucky we’ve been, but times they are a changin’.  Keep your guns.  Preferably non-registered.

        6. says

          There are so many murders and criminals in Oakland because of many factors, but the existence of guns is not one of them. I would posit that poor government policies provide the biggest factor. I would also posit that Democratic control of government results in all the factors that lead to more crime and more murders.
          More people die by automobile each year. But there is no parallel political “reason” to outlaw cars, whereas leftists WANT to restrict guns from law-abiding citizens, hence guns become a political football for devious reasons.

        7. suek says

          Here’s another relevant article:
           
          http://truthandcommonsense.com/2010/08/06/a-very-good-article-on-out-of-control-crime-chicagos-wild-west-and-why-we-cant-let-americas-wild-west-get-out-of-control/
           
          You can’t excuse people’s bad behavior based on color, upbringing, economic factors…all of these may in fact be factors, and may be reason to make a _moral_ judgment that a perpetrator isn’t guilty of doing evil which id within his/her ability to control, but _legally_ if the shoe fits, the evil doer _must_ wear it.  Permitting excuses for violence just asks for more – no matter _what_ the excuse is. (ok…barring out and out insanity)

        8. Mike Devx says

          Don,
           
          If you take away the guns from the law-abiding citizenry of this country, you may be eliminating the one thing that has always made us the freedom-loving, individualistic, deeply proud people that we Americans are.  You’ll be turning us into another namby-pamby quasi-socialist European State, full of soft, weak people who no longer know who they are, who have lost all pride in themselves, who have lost all identity.
           
          What you are taking away is the RIGHT to self-defense.  Make no mistake about it.  Once you take away the guns, yes, only the criminals and the predators will have them.  But suppose you even succeed in taking guns away from them, too.
           
          Then there will simply be a different “most dangerous weapon” to go after, to restrict, and to control.  Ours *is* a more violent culture than those weak sisters of ours across the little Pond, over there in socialist Europe.  I myself wouldn’t have it any other way. We may be more violent, but we’re not REALLY all that violent among ourselves.  I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of those 14,000 or so murders were the Friday-night/Saturday-night predators preying upon each other in urban zones, carving out their terrortories (deliberate misspelling there!) and as long as they stay away from the just and the innocent, I could care less about them.  Once they turn their predator attention to the rest of us, I want them stomped on.  Viciously and with no mercy.  (Yep, that sentiment sounds awfully… violent… to me!  I want them busting rocks once arrested and tossed into prison, not participating in outreach compassion programs, too.  Dang, that sounds rather violent as well.
           
          In a country of 300 million people, many of whom still deeply love this country and are prepared to take up their arms to defend it… is 14,000 murders, mostly among the predatorial preying upon each other, really all that significant?
           
          And as others have already pointed out, the death rate caused by cars is far, far worse than that by guns.  And where gun control is strictest, murders and gun violence is HIGHER.
           
           
           
           
           

        9. Gringo says

          I have an ingrained bias against firearms, which comes from a childhood friend losing his life in a gun accident with his brother a half-century ago. After that, I  participated in  target practice with only the greatest of reluctance- though I didn’t realize why at the time. I was in the countryside: we had a gun cabinet, though the guns were little used. My friend’s death was the probable cause for my becoming a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam War. I knew how his brother had suffered from killing his brother, and I assumed that I too would suffer from taking someone’s life in combat. [This is after the fact. I didn't realize until decades later how my friend's death had pushed me towards Conscientious Objection.]
           
          After the genocide in Cambodia, I was no longer a pacifist: no one has clean hands, even those who sit on the sidelines while the carnage goes on.
           
          From what I have read, mere gun control will not stop murders. Washington DC has gun control. Sky high murder rate. NYC has gun control. Murder rate about the average for the US, and a murder rate much lower than most big cities. Impunity is more the issue.
           
          While I dislike guns for myself, I would prefer that law-abiding citizens have access to them. Like the saying goes, if guns are outlawed, only criminals will have them.

        10. suek says

          >>I knew how his brother had suffered from killing his brother, and I assumed that I too would suffer from taking someone’s life in combat.>>
           
          Understandable.  My guess is that your suffering would have been greatly diminished, had you seen the brutality of the Viet Cong, and had them shooting at you etc.  It probably would have done you good in the long run, but given the blessed peacefulness of the lives of most of us, I can understand your position.
           
          Have you ever killed an animal?  a rabbit or a chicken?  _Could_ you?  Most of us have become too civilized for our own good.  May it continue…!  But…if it doesn’t??  will you choose to give up your life before you take up a weapon?  (assuming one is available)

        11. says

          “Consider that in Oakland, California alone more than 100 murders take place each and every year,”
           
          That’s the price being paid for by Democrat serfs. Not because of guns.
           
          “I knew how his brother had suffered from killing his brother”
           
          With good training, he would have made better choices. But with bad training, bad choices are assumed.
           
          Democrat policies are pro-criminal. They are pro-criminal partially because they will then argue that the crime they created necessitates gun control. It’s a neat con if you can get it.

        12. says

          I don’t think it is terribly difficult to *make* a gun…any well-equipped machine shop should be able to do it. Maybe not the highest quality, but something that would shoot. Ergo, a total ban on guns would result in an underground manufacturing archipelago which couldn’t be suppressed without very intrusive inspections of every facility having to do with metalworking.
          Not to mention smuggling.
          The total number of guns in circulation could be reduced by a comprehensive ban, but those who really really wanted them…serious gangsters, for instance…would still be able to get them.

        13. says

          Japan has national gun control. Nobody but the police has guns there. Well, except for the Yakuza, because the Yakuza just imports guns. Predominantly US, but anything else they can get as well. If the US can’t get guns domestically, they’ll import it from Russia. The Russians are big on arms export

        14. Spartacus says

          I was once asked in a friendly debate on the subject what rationale I could provide for the continued legality of firearms, since we no longer hunt much of our food or fend off Indians on the frontier.  My reply was that that was the wrong direction from which to approach it in the first place: it is not for gun owners to have to prove their need for guns.  The burden of proof is not ours; nor is it even on the other side to prove the absence of a need, because the entire argument was settled in 1791.  Those were the rules, that was the deal, and that was the understanding already in place when most states agreed to join the union, so the infringement of that right has never really been on the table as a legitimate topic of discussion, except in the context of a new constitutional amendment to repeal or weaken the Second.

        15. Mike Devx says

          Gringo’s description of the shooting accident in #12 is far more disturbing to me than the generic concept of “gun violence”.  Children seem to have a natural fascination with guns – especially boys?  And without extensive early training, they’re deadly accidents waiting to happen.
           
          But then again…  My sister’s fiance had a nephew who died recently.  Age 20, life full of promise.  He and his friends were playing around a 5-ft deep average swimming pool in a backyard, diving off the edge.  He leaped out to dive, and a friend swiped at his legs, got them, and threw him off balance.  He dove awkwardly, hit the bottom with his head, and broke his neck.  He died three days later.  The friend is inconsolable from what I hear up there in Michigan.
           
          The point is, terrible accidents of all sorts do happen.  That’s why they’re called accidents, and they are sometimes true tragedies.  But you should no more outlaw swimming pools – nor roughhousing – than you should outlaw guns.  At a red light, a head-on collision results in deaths even perhaps from burning alive in the vehicle. My God, consider an infant burning alive in a car seat.  So, do we outlaw automobiles and red lights?  No.
           
           

        16. says

          Thanks for the comments and please keep them coming.  I understand that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” as they say.  But, still, it’s really hard to have a drive-by knifing or drive-by clubbing.  Many of the deaths in Oakland are drive-bys and often innocents are caught in the line of fire. 

          As for “more guns, less crime” maybe in Colorado, but I doubt it in Oakland, at least if only murders are considered.  Mike’s description of “terrortories” is apt.  If we as a society aren’t going to make a determined effort to put an end to the lawless, amoral, hopeless attitude that causes this violence, shouldn’t we at least make the violence a little more difficult?  But I’ll save that for another post.

          Also, insofar as the victims are themselves protagonists, the cost to society may not be great, but the cost to each individual victim is, of course, beyond measure, and far too many of the individual victims are innocents. 

        17. says

          One more thought.  In the 1700s it made sense to say we needed guns to protect ourselves from the government, because a well-armed citizenry actually could outgun the army.  But this hasn’t been true for a hundred years.  The idea that we should have guns to protect ourselves from our government is completely impractical when the government has far more firepower than we could ever hope to have privately.  Similarly, the idea in the 1700s was that a well-armed citizenry could turn out at a moment’s notice to help in the defense of the country from outside or internal threats.  That idea is also long since passed.  Maybe we should have a right to our guns, but not for the reasons that right was written into the constitution to begin with.

        18. jj says

          Don, nobody – including me – really addressed your philosophical point.  We all became very reflexive, and blew right past your final thoughts.
           
          Can you – one, anyone – control accidents is, I think, a simple way to express what you said to begin your final paragraph.  My answer is: I suspect not.  I grew up, as some no doubt remember, on a farm.  In the course of any working day during spring planting or fall harvest, I was presented with more ways to get killed then most modern suburbanites face in a lifetime.  (Other than driving to the mall – the ultimate high-risk activity.)  There were accidents aplenty, and you could always tell the farm kids at school in spring and fall: we were black and blue.  And, every so often, one of us got maimed.  None of my close contemporaries actually did get killed in our county, though between the ages of five and fifteen I knew of three guys – farm workers and not people to whom I was close – who did.  And there were a few others, in those years, of whom I heard but had never met.  Farm machinery is, like guns, inherently dangerous: everything’s sharp, everything’s moving, everything’s a lot stronger than you and you can’t catch it or stop it; attention must be paid.
           
          Now, farm machinery wasn’t designed to kill you, it just happens to be good at it.  Cars weren’t designed to kill you either – but they’re good at it.  Those are two examples.  Guns, on the other hand, were designed precisely to kill you.  Obviously care must be exercised.  So I guess the point is: if you’re worried about accidents, then go ahead and worry: they’re part of the deal.  If we can’t control wheel-harrows, tractors, cultivators, balers, etc.; and we can’t control cars – or lawn mowers, chainsaws, axes, table saws, scythes; etc., etc., etc. – then controlling guns to the level of absolute, full-time, no mistakes safety – forget it.  Accidents happen with everything else, they will damn well happen with apparati specifically designed to be dangerous, too.
           
          So – does removing them from society remove the danger?  A more complex question.  Obviously, if you could somehow snap your fingers and all guns would vanish into the fourth dimension, or Dr. Caligari’s cabinet, or wherever, that would be a success – at least as far as guns are concerned.  You wouldn’t like to do that, though – we want the 3rd ID in Iraq to continue to have their weapons.  So you can’t do the magical clean sweep and, if you do anything less than that, then someone somewhere will find a way to steal them from the military supplies, and again you’ll be confronted with only the bad guys having weapons.
           
          Which sort of answers your question: can you get weapons out of the hands of bad guys (your word was murderers) without also removing them from the hands of the law-abiding and peacefully-inclined?  No.  You can’t.  The ban is either complete and absolute, or it’s as full of holes as Swiss cheese – holes which you know going in will be exploited by bad guys.  You can’t know murderers in advance, any more than you can avoid selling Ferraris to bank robbers, to be used in outrunning the cops.  We are not gifted with second sight, we don’t know.
           
          And, I don’t know a precise statistic – nobody does -  but I’ll bet that in this country there are 50,000,000 lawful, peaceful gun owners, of whom you have never heard – and will never hear.  They manage – like those of us in this family; my family – to go through several generations of gun ownership without shooting anybody.  Lawful gun owners aren’t the problem.  As I have said before, the idiots in Washington and state legislatures keep passing ever more restrictive laws, and whom do they affect?  ONLY THE PEOPLE WHO OBEY THE F*****G LAW, IDIOTS – NOT THE BAD GUYS!  The bad guys don’t care how restrictive the laws are, they don’t plan on obeying them in any case.
           
          So – you don’t have any answers, but the questions trouble you deeply.  I don’t have any answers either – but the questions don’t trouble me much at all.  This is because I figured out a long time ago that bad guys are bad: laws are irrelevant to them, and if you outlaw guns, all you will accomplish will be to disarm the law-abiding.  The bad guys will find another way, and they will not care, just as they have in Australia and England.
           
          And accidents?  Accidents happen.  They happen in all fields of endeavor, and we have to live with them.  We don’t put people back walking behind horses and oxen pulling plows, because tractors and wheel-harrows and cultivators kill a couple of hundred people a year.  (Probably a low estimate, nationwide.)  We accept the loss, mourn the victims, and move on, because that’s the nature of the world and we have a lot of mouths to feed.

        19. says

          ” Children seem to have a natural fascination with guns – especially boys? And without extensive early training, they’re deadly accidents waiting to happen.”
           
          They happen precisely because so called adults want to “control” guns and prevent children from learning to use them. And the results are apparent.

        20. says

          “The point is, terrible accidents of all sorts do happen.”
           
          That one happened in ignorance as well. If he had learned what I learned under TFT, he would never have tried such a stupid stunt. Because he’d have known how easy it would have been to kill people using a fall, hitting them with the planet. Thus, the knowledge of how to kill, would have prevented a death easily there. But it didn’t. Because ” so called adults” think by keeping people ignorant, that they can avoid bad things happening. Centralized petty tyrants, that’s what they are.

        21. says

          “But, still, it’s really hard to have a drive-by knifing or drive-by clubbing.  ”

          I believe you have trouble understanding the nature of violence, DQ. How much time have you actually devoted to the subject, in terms of independent personal research? Not as much time as your professional job, surely.

          Those that know how to use a knife, it is never seen, only felt. And it’s a heck of a lot more accurate than a spray and pray from those not dedicated to the kill. Those that attack from a car, are worried about getting away. They’re not worried about getting a certain kill. It doesn’t matter which method they use to attack with.

          It’s not right, DQ, to talk about disarming people in Oakland. For two reasons. One, you don’t have the moral right, because you demand of them something that you can’t return a value on. You can’t disarm them and make their security situation better. All you can do is plaster a superficial veneer of a “solution” on the problem and thus feel better. The violence, instability, and crime in Oakland will remain the same or increase with or without guns. You’ll just feel better having done your part to make it harder for criminals to kill. Instead of firing 5 bullets killing the target, while accidentally killing a father and child, instead they’ll use melee weapons and definitely kill the target. So you’ve made the situation better, haven’t you, DQ. Instead of dying, the father and child can now live as serfs and slaves to the criminals, living in fear of their lives and bowing down to criminals when criminals make demands of them. When the neighborhood finally decides to get rid of the criminals, they will have to wield common hobbled up melee weapons, like kitchen knives, up against hardened killers and criminals used to executing human targets with mass knives. That’s not going to be good motivator for the common pacific neighborhood pacifist, you know. Thus the neighborhood will always be subjected under the power of criminals, and their political masters.

          That’s not a better situation. Not for an individual that values liberty over simply existence.

          The second reason is that the institution that would necessarily be doing the disarming, the state government of Oakland, is actually the cause and the beneficiary of Oakland’s violence. Numbers of votes, union jobs/dues, as well as political control. Oakland’s local government benefits from having criminals run amuck. Oakland’s government doesn’t have the right to make slaves out of the people living there simply to control them, so they don’t have the right to disarm them either, DQ. Not only is it wrong for you to disarm them, but it also won’t work when the power brokers in Oakland corrupt the process for their own ends. That’s the morality situation combined with two actors, you and Oakland’s local power brokers. Going the federal route, bringing in them as a third party, is as dysfunctional as the last two options.

          <B>As for “more guns, less crime” maybe in Colorado, but I doubt it in Oakland, at least if only murders are considered.</b>

          Oakland is like the Sunni Triangle before Petraeus. The answer there was political alliances plus arming local militias. Arming groups and then not making them your allies, just starts up gang and ethnic wars given the criminal instability at work.

          Iraq in all its right and wrong glory independent of the media propaganda blitz, is not what many who read newspapers thought it was. It wasn’t simply a foreign issue of no consequence to domestic America. You could have learned a lot on what works and what doesn’t for inner city America simply by observing crime and local corruption in Iraq. That’s assuming, of course, that you have accurate information on Iraq. Not many do in today’s America. Same is true when people talk about crime, guns, and violence in Oakland. Not many have accurate information on the reality. Or they don’t have the background experience necessary to make the necessary distinctions.

          <B>In the 1700s it made sense to say we needed guns to protect ourselves from the government, because a well-armed citizenry actually could outgun the army. </b>

          Again, that’s due to your lack of understanding of the nature of violence that you think it a relevant factor. It is not a relevant factor at all.

          <B>But this hasn’t been true for a hundred years.</b>

          Ever hear of Vietnam, Mao, the Phillippines Insurgency (the modern one and the one conducted by Americans against Japanese occupation forces)?

          Your misapprehension of what it takes to win using violence, consists of “outgunning” people. But that’s not how violence actually produces victory.

          <B>Similarly, the idea in the 1700s was that a well-armed citizenry could turn out at a moment’s notice to help in the defense of the country from outside or internal threats. </b>

          I’m sure the people in Arizona being raped and murdered by a Mexican invasion surely would agree that a well armed citizenry is no longer needed to defend the country from outside or internal threats. Surely… not, of course.

        22. says

          “I don’t think it is terribly difficult to *make* a gun”
           
          There are people who, as a hobby, make Damascene steel or Japanese katanas. Although their quality control can be spotty, that’s high carbon steel right there. Much better than a kitchen knife in terms of killing humans.
           
          The skill involved in making “guns” is actually less. That’s why “guns” could be mass produced cheaper than sword steel by smiths.

        23. Bill Smith says

          I don’t have time to really develop, and polish this, so here it is in the rough:

          You wrote:
          “One more thought.  In the 1700s it made sense to say we needed guns to protect ourselves from the government, because a well-armed citizenry actually could outgun the army.  But this hasn’t been true for a hundred years.”

          It’s not a numbers game, Don.  Admiral Yamamoto, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, spent several years living in this country. He is frequently quoted as having said that he would never invade us, because there’d be a gun “behind every blade of grass.” The quote is disputed, but the logic, and truth can’t be. And, actually, I think you’re wrong on the numbers, too.

          But, you are also making a huge assumption. And that is that you could get an American army to make war on its own people. Maybe some would, but they would have to be seriously worried about other units of the army obeying their oaths, and taking them out. Also, my recollection is that there are about 80 million gun owners, and something like 200 or 300 million guns in private hands.  And there are a hell of a lot more able bodied, freedom loving veterans around than active duty. They’d know exactly how to access the military’s own weapons using active duty friends who were still loyal to their oaths.

          Also, Don, I believe your position may be mainly fueled by emotion, not logic. If that is the case, no facts, or logic are going to move you.  You also sound like you have believed, and internalized a lot of misinformation.

          There was a hilarious happening on The HuffPo this past week. Some fool from the Brady Campaign posted an article just FULL of lies, and spin. And almost ALL of the commenters absolutely destroyed him and his flawed logic and lies:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-a-henigan/obama-gun-policy-fear-and_b_672250.html

          The simple, incontrovertible, overwhelming facts are that more (legal) guns = less crime. Whether you think that ought to be true or not, it simply is — based on much actual, true statistics. See the excellent work of John Lott.

          The other simple fact, borne out by history, experience, and logic is that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

          I hear that you don’t LIKE these facts, but facts they are. Thank you for being so honest with your questions, and doubts, and willingness to listen.

        24. JimK says

          I own more than a few guns. I have never felt any inclination to go and use them on the general population. in fact I have never shot any animals at all. I live out in the country on a dirt road that does not have regular police protection. Most of my neighbors have guns as well and we all like to go out and shoot on a Sunday afternoon, a Tuesday morning or whenever we get the urge. I believe we live in one of the safest counties in the state, thanks to all the gun owners.

        25. Gringo says


          Ymarsakar
          “Children seem to have a natural fascination with guns – especially boys? And without extensive early training, they’re deadly accidents waiting to happen.” They happen precisely because so called adults want to “control” guns and prevent children from learning to use them. And the results are apparent.
           
          The father of the boys involved in the gun accident – call him X- was a hunter. I heard from an old friend last year that her father had once chewed out X  for shooting past their yard when X was out hunting, which was not a good place to hunt. I doubt that X had forbidden his children to use guns. X was certainly faulty in not teaching his children responsible gun use. But as seen  by that incident, X himself didn’t have a complete grasp of responsible gun use. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
           
          Children definitely need to be closely supervised and trained in responsible gun use. Responsible gun use is  not something that comes naturally.
          suek
          Have you ever killed an animal?  a rabbit or a chicken?  _Could_ you?  Most of us have become too civilized for our own good.  May it continue…!  But…if it doesn’t??  will you choose to give up your life before you take up a weapon?  (assuming one is available)

          I recall a woodchuck getting shot, though I am not sure if  my younger brother or I killed it. I would wager my brother shot it. I helped skin it and cook it.  BTW, fresh woodchuck meat tastes horrible. Those who have gardens do not have kind feelings towards woodchucks. Once when I was 9 years old and my father was out of town, we caught a skunk in the live trap in the garden. My mother shot the skunk and buried it herself. My mother could handle anything!
          When I was a grad student  I set rat traps in my apartment. My Buddhist roommate did not want to handle it, so I disposed of the animals. On occasion the rat was still alive when in the trap, so I had to finish the job myself. One time I caught a rat running around the bathroom, and killed it with a broom handle.[smaller traps didn't work, so they must have been rats.]
          I am no longer a pacifist. Pol Pot put paid to that. If I had a gun in my hand, I would shoot someone who was about to kill me or do me some harm. Theoretically at least, if  not practically.  Granted, that is an unlikely situation.
           
          My take on places like Oakland and DC  with high murder rates is two fold. First:  arrest and convict those doing the killing. IMHO, a very high percentages of murders in such places go unsolved. Second: look at what NYC did to reduce its crime rate. Small windows and all that. People caught jumping subway turnstiles quite often had a number of warrants out on them.

        26. says

          “I doubt that X had forbidden his children to use guns.”
           
          Controlling guns is not simply the physical access to guns. It is also controlling the knowledge of how to use guns properly. Guns plus knowledge equals skill when practiced. Guns minus knowledge when practiced, equals problems.
           
          Since the hunter involved had neither skill, wisdom, nor knowledge, accidents were already going to happen. Just by definition. He didn’t need to “control” anything. He had no knowledge to control or pass on.
          ” was certainly faulty in not teaching his children responsible gun use.”
           
          he’s not faulty for that. His fault is for never learning right from wrong in the first place. The fact that this passed on to his kid or those involved with his kid, was simply a symptom of a larger issue.
          What’s more important on this issue is, what was X’s political beliefs about guns and centralized authority? There are people with guns, who are Leftist anarchists. Check out the anti-IRS guy. He was a Leftist freak, when most people who read stupid newspapers thought he was a right wing militia guy.
          “People caught jumping subway turnstiles quite often had a number of warrants out on them.”
           
          Oakland won’t do that. The reason is because the police unions won’t permit it. They explicitly instruct the police to not do any real work. That’s how they get paid so much. The higher the salaries for police, the more the union and police bosses can skim off the dues. The less actual policemen can be hired to do the grunt work. Too many chiefs, not enough warriors. Regardless of how high the crime rate is, the police department can always creatively write up their reports so that violent crimes are reported as misdemeanors. The more the locals believe the police won’t do anything about real crime, the less they will report real crime.
          The New Orleans PD is notorious for underreporting actual violent crimes. They reported the beating of the Republican fundraiser as a non-violent crime, when in fact it was obvious it was an assault and battery.
           
           
           

        27. JKB says

          Well first let’s identify the number of Oakland’s gun murders were committed by individuals for whom gun possession is already illegal, i.e., felons.  Funny they don’t sort the murders, even those successfully prosecuted, by the criminal history of the convicted so we could see how many formerly law abiding citizens are going off on murder sprees.  It’d be interesting to know how many gun crime murders were out on parole when they murdered.  I read once about two men in England who had been paroled.  When they were finally put back in prison a couple years later, the gun crime in the city dropped by 70%.
           
          We should also agree that California already has pretty strict gun control and yet a significant amount of gun crime.  Mexico has very strict gun control yet, criminal gangs have access to military hardware, mostly bought from Mexican police and military and lots of gun crime.
           
          We should acknowledge that simply denying gun possession to certain minority groups would be very effective in reducing gun crime.  Or we perhaps those minorities from certain areas of the city.  The majority of gun murders are between rival criminals over honor or business.  Interestingly, gun control came about to deny self-defense to freed slaves after the Civil War.  Justice Thomas discussed this at length in his concurring opinion in the McDonald decision.
           
          For an eloquent essay on the real purpose of gun control see Coyotes in the State of Nature – Kevin Williamson – National Review Online Hint: it has nothing to do with crime control and everything to do with denying citizens the right to life independent of the state.

        28. Mosonny says

          I’ve come to think of this in simple terms. There are two gun cultures in this country. One should have guns, the other should not. Gun control will only take guns from one and not the other.
          There are law abiding citizens who have guns for sport or protection, teach their use responsibly, etc.
          That’s one gun culture.
           
          The other is 13 year olds shooting their friends over arguments over girls, or 18 year olds killing each other in gang and drug related violence. 

          Gun control will only take from the first, and not the 2nd.  The first sometimes buys guns to protect themselves from the 2nd group.  I’m not a member of either group, have never shot a gun in my life, and work in an emergency room and sometimes sees the horror that guns can produce;  yet, I would stand on the side of the first gun culture and the 2nd Amendment (as I think it is written) that protects the right of decent citizens to own guns. 

          I’m not sure how, legally, to separate the two groups, but it is clear that it is the 2nd gun culture that is the source, or should be, of the angst over gun ownership in America.  That may take a culture change, in that 2nd group, and that well might be almost impossibly difficult.

        29. vanderleun says

          Whenever I see the “gun thing” start out on a blog it fills me with inertia. Not this particular thread. It’s a classic of its kind and all that I wish to say about it has been said and said better than I would or could.
          Still, I have to register my instant reaction to the premise, which has become my standard reaction to statements like
          “Consider that in Oakland, California alone more than 100 murders take place each and every year, the vast majority of them by the use of a gun. ”
          I always think…. “So what?”
          Consider that, Don, in a most particular way: “SO? WHAT?”
          And “accidents?” Well, “schmaccidents.”
          The 2nd Amendment is not there to help people kill each other or to inhibit people from killing each other. It is there to prevent the government from killing the people.
          The Second Amendment is murder-neutral.
          I sincerely hope, Don, that you never, ever, in all your life need a gun to defend yourself against another human being. But on this one thing you may be sure: If you ever need one and don’t have one it will be far too late to shop.

        30. vanderleun says

          Elsewhere the reviews of this item are coming in on other blogs.
           
          Here’s one by Indy Jones from Washington Rebel’s “What We’re Reading” that I thought especially apt:
           
          “Save lives with serious gun control. I.don’t.think.so. Besides killing others with guns what else do they have in common? Do they have welfare checks in common? Do they have medicaid in common? Do they have single parenthood in common? No fathers in the household in common? Subsidized housing in common? Foodstamps in common? Have they been taught victimization in common? We’ve had guns in this country for hundreds of years. Have we had the rest for hundreds of years? Maybe we’re blaming the wrong thing, and not banning the right things. But heh, thats being judgemental.”
          http://washingtonrebel.typepad.com/washington_rebel/2010/08/what-were-reading.html?cid=6a00d835349ad569e20133f2ee5262970b#comment-6a00d835349ad569e20133f2ee5262970b

        31. says

          I mentioned before but a lot of people subscribe to the Cult of the Gun. They believe there is a magical power in a gun that gives people power to do what they otherwise couldn’t do. You see this a lot in gun users, but more predominantly in people who simply abhor gun usage.
           
          Because a gun contains gunpowder which does the work of penetration that results in damage, people believe that without a gun, they can’t kill, but with a gun they can now kill. That was never the case. A gun is a labor saving tool, the weapon was always the human brain. When people have a reason to use violence, because they think it benefits them, they will find whatever tool they believe best suits their purposes. If they can’t get access to a gun, they’ll get knives. If there are no knives, then they will go back to the tried and true method of getting a bunch of boyos and using rocks to cave in people’s skulls. The human brain, if you just give it enough time, will develop better tools to kill simply because that’s just an evolutionary bonus.
           
          Whenever people talk about guns as being the source of the problem, they’re thinking of guns as a magical totem like device, like a voodoo doll. It allows you to do “magic” and if it wasn’t for that, nobody could do “magic” to harm other people. Erroneous, of course, but that’s what the “cult” means is in the Cult of the Gun. It’s not rational to begin with.
           
          The same mistake people make when they think serious gun control will save lives is made when people think simply having a gun means you now have “power” or the means to defeat enemies. The issue of training, mental preparation, skill, and the usage of the human brain as a tactical weapon, is far more important than the “specific tool” utilized.

        32. says

          http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/6872/1/
           
          It seems I didn’t get this link from here. In that case.
           
          “When his map was complete, a clear if strangely shaped pattern emerged: Wait a minute, he recalled thinking. I see this bunny rabbit coming up. People are going to accuse me of being on shrooms! The inner city, where crime used to be concentrated, was now clean. But everywhere else looked much worse: arrests had skyrocketed along two corridors north and west of the central city (the bunny rabbit’s ears) and along one in the southeast (the tail). Hot spots had proliferated since the mid-1990s, and little islands of crime had sprung up where none had existed before, dotting the map all around the city.
          Janikowski might not have managed to pinpoint the cause of this pattern if he hadn’t been married to Phyllis Betts, a housing expert at the University of Memphis. Betts and Janikowski have two dogs, three cats, and no kids; they both tend to bring their work home with them. Betts had been evaluating the impact of one of the city government’s most ambitious initiatives: the demolition of the city’s public-housing projects, as part of a nationwide experiment to free the poor from the destructive effects of concentrated poverty. Memphis demolished its first project in 1997. The city gave former residents federal “Section8” rent-subsidy vouchers and encouraged them to move out to new neighborhoods. Two more waves of demolition followed over the next nine years, dispersing tens of thousands of poor people into the wider metro community.”
           
          If Spiff was reading this, i would say to him that this was only one of the surface aspects of Leftist control over rich and poor. This wasn’t a “mistake”. It was intentional. Just as it was intentional that Obama and the Left blocked school vouchers for poor blacks so that they couldn’t go to better schools, avoiding their local gang infested one.
           
          Since the 60s, middle class black families had been broken. Now it was time to break up the poor in the city, in order to make way for the rich white Democrat loyalists to come in. All the rich Democrat neighborhoods already were ensuring that these poor blacks couldn’t get into their neighborhoods, with property taxes and what not.
           
          Gun control also benefits, as crime goes up the Left can then motivate local support to ban guns. The local neighborhood doesn’t realize yet that banning guns would only help the Left’s enabling of criminals. Although some people in Chicago seem to have had enough of corrupt Unionized police and were demanding guns. A recent SC decision was made on that very issue, which caused national ramifications.
           
          DQ, if you had read everything contained in the links at this thread, (I have) you would only be seeing a glimpse of the horizon. The entirety of this subject is vast. Doubt is good for you, DQ. It’s not good to simply assume you know the complete picture with a cursory read of superficial reports made by the ruling aristocrats and their helpers in Oakland. Of course there is real doubt. There always was. To get to the truth, one must first understand how much isn’t known. So that doubt can lead to true belief and true knowledge.

        33. says

          Better the wild west than living as serfs and slaves under Democrat and totalitarian plantation setups.
           
          The Left is extremely afraid of physical violence. They know they can’t compete when it comes to survival and death, because nobody is going to die for their wretched plantation setup, not even the plantation masters. And the funny thing is, they project their fear unto conservatives and say that it is us, Sarah Palin who hunts wolves and skins game herself, that is “afraid”. Many Democrats would wet their pants at the thought of even holding a gun, that sinister evil Voodoo totem.
           
           
          “Ira M. Leonard has calculated that during the 20th century, more Americans were murdered by fellow Americans than soldiers died on active duty during the First World War, Second World War,”
           
          A ridiculous comparison. Let’s look at this logically. He compares Americans killed by fellow Americans, to Americans killed by foreigners. How about you find out how long it took Americans to kill enough Americans to fill the graves of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We can start from there, DQ.
           
           

        34. says

          Grrr, it ate my first comment submission!!  Sigh.  Okay — again, but more briefly!

          - Perfect gun control is impossible. Even China, home of the tight-control and gulags, is having rising gun crime.
          - Thugs are thugs. If they don’t use guns your 100-deaths-by-gun will be 100-deaths-by-knife/club/garrotte etc.
          - Guns are an inherent good because they allow a petite 5’3″ woman like myself a fair shot at defending herself and her loved ones against two 6’3″ men on drugs.
          - Only a very tiny percent of the gun-owners in this nation commit gun crime.  Statistically, it couldn’t be any clearer that guns are not the problem, thugs-with-guns (usually illegally obtained, so gun control failed) are the problem.
          - “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.” — Adolf Hitler (H.R. Trevor-Roper, Hitler’s Table Talks 1941-1944)

          The leaders of our freedom struggle recognized this, even Gandhi the foremost practitioner of passive resistance and non-violence had this to say about the British policy of gun-control in India:

          “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” — Mahatma Gandhi (An Autobiography OR The story of my experiments with truth, by M.K. Gandhi, p.238)
          Post Independence
          - http://lookingforlissa.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/meditations-on-self-defense/
          - http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/why-the-gun-is-civilization/
          - http://www.doczero.org/2010/03/to-keep-and-bear-arms/

        35. BrianE says

          Don Q,
          I think you would be better served to put the blame for these senseless murders where it belongs– fatherless homes.
           
          If you want to reduce murders in Oakland, put fathers back in the home.
           
          “…a study by the University of Maryland found that the best predictor of violent crime and burglary in a community is not race or poverty, it is the percentage of households without fathers. National surveys of prison inmates have found that 60 percent of American rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of all inmates serving long prison terms all come from homes where they grew up without their fathers.

          The thing that the state and nation must come to grips with is that frequency of crime and incarceration is not a function of race or income status, it is a function of marriage. Whether black or white, the crime rate is very high among families headed by a single female. On the other hand, the crime rate among black and white families in two-parent families is very low, even among low-income families.”
           
          http://www.alabamapolicy.org/gary_blog/article.php?id_art=23

          And fatherless homes can be traced to the growth of the welfare state. To put fathers back in home, we need to reduce the incentives to create fatherless homes.
           
          “Last year, the Maryland NAACP released a report concluding that “the ready access to a lifetime of welfare and free social service programs is a major contributory factor to the crime problems we face today.”(1) Their conclusion appears to be confirmed by academic research. For example, research by Dr. June O’Neill’s and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men.(2)”
           
          http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-wc67.html

        36. suek says

          >>If we as a society aren’t going to make a determined effort to put an end to the lawless, amoral, hopeless attitude that causes this violence, shouldn’t we at least make the violence a little more difficult?>>
           
          Heh.  I was others have already picked up on it, but I was going to suggest that maybe we should try to find a way to inoculate all females at about 10-12 years of age so that they couldn’t get pregnant until the “whatever” was removed.  Removal would occur only after legal marriage.  Never going to happen, of course – but the point has been made above – fatherless homes are a major part of the equation.
           
          It’s funny…I was listening to the Mike Gallegher show on the way home the other day.  He was talking about the problem, and mentioned the experiment done with elephants in Africa where they have juvenile males causing all sorts of problems.  They brought in some mature bull elephants, and the normal balance of nature was restored. (I’ll try to find a link – it’s a pretty interesting story).  A black woman called in and was virtually incoherent in her anger about his racism.  This was a 30 year old woman, almost irrational because she heard a discussion about the influence of mature males on juvenile males which was being used to address the problem of a lack of fathering in the black community, and all she could hear was racism.  It was in itself, instructional.  I don’t know how you’re going to get the message across unless it comes from the black community itself, and even then they toss out terms like “Uncle Toms”.  The conclusion I reach is that they simply don’t want any limits imposed on their behavior – and they won’t limit their behavior themselves.
          Here’s a link to a brief summary of the problem – you can pay to read more if you want…I didn’t, but I’ve heard the story before.  It’s a good summary – you don’t really need more to get the idea.
          http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v408/n6811/full/408425a0.html

        37. Jose says

          DQ said: “I understand intellectually that Americans should be free to have guns…”
           
           
          DQ, It sounds like you may have an aversion to guns.  Would you care to share with us how much hands on experience you’ve had with firearms?  Have you had any positive exposure?  Compared with how much negative exposure?
           
           
          I like guns and enjoy shooting them which gives me a built in bias towards gun rights.  I associate hunting and shooting with good times spent with friends and family.  I enjoy developing my shooting skills and consider it a challenge.  My exposure to firearms has been almost totally positive.
           
           
          I suspect you know all the arguments both ways on the issue.  I’m wondering if your attitude doesn’t result from an underlying emotional bias.  If the only time you think about guns is in connection to crime, you are bound to dislike them.  Perhaps your intellect and emotions are simply conflicting when you say you don’t know the answer.
           
          If your intellect and emotions were in sync, you wouldn’t BE looking for an answer – you’d know what it was.
           
           
           

        38. says

          Sorry for the delayed reply and the lack of posting, but I’ve been having a terrible time just getting connected.  Anyway, that’s a fair question, Jose.  I’ve never shot a gun myself except on a firing range when I was in military high school, which was kind of fun.  I have been on one hunting trip with my father’s friends when I was about 10 years old and found it a very distasteful, if not downright frightening, experience.  Also when I was 10 or so I watched our neighbor take pot shots at gophers in his fields.  All in all, not much experience at all.

          I don’t know about the rather glib assertion that if my intellect and emotions were in sync I’d know the answer.  Guns are designed to kill people and other living things.  I don’t have a problem with the other living things part, but I do have a problem, both intellectually and emotionally, with the people part. 

          Hunting, especially hunting for food rather than just killing for its own sake, is fine.  But when the only protection against lawless people with guns is more guns I think and feel (both intellectual and emotional again) that our society has a fundamental problem.  We as a society should be able to do better than that.

        39. says

          The concept of “better” implies a choice. Those that don’t know how to kill, don’t have a choice about whether to kill. By removing the ability to act from an agent, you restrict that agent’s freedom of action.
           
          Removing choice is only a better solution when the end goal is a technocratic utopia.
           
          Only in the case where people had the legal right to kill, had the intent there to kill, and had the capability to kill, and simply chose not to, will there ever be a “better” society. Anything else as a result of a limitation on choice and capability, is simply people not killing because they’re sheep. They don’t got the fangs to kill, so they don’t need to worry about it.

        40. JKB says

          But when the only protection against lawless people with guns is more guns I think and feel (both intellectual and emotional again) that our society has a fundamental problem.  We as a society should be able to do better than that.

          Your problem is that you want to somehow overcome the basic nature of humans.  Given a weakness in an adversary, many if not all humans will seek to use force to obtain what they want from others.  The closest we came to altering this nature was religion which is in decline.  Even that was an illusion as the religions have a long history of using violence to advance their dogma or turning a blind eye to the violence of others.

          So your hope for society is that we should somehow become better than our very basic attributes.  It is also not as if moderated competition isn’t advantageous to the continuation of our species.  The entire history of mankind has been a struggle to contain our competitive and violent nature.  It is why we have governments, why we submit to the threat of violence and force from government.  Still the only way to restrain others (government or private) from seeking to impose their will upon us is by being able to meet their violence with force.  So the only reasonable solution is for those who have demonstrated their ability to restrain their violent natures to have guns that can be used to stop threats from those who can’t or won’t restrain from violence.  Anything else is just betting against thousands of years of evolution.

        41. says

          I agree with JKB on this element. That fundamental problem that is spoke of? It is called being human.
           
          We don’t have to have guns. Just lobotomize everyone except the ruling elite. No need for guns then. Cause nobody will then care if they die or not.
           

          “We as a society should be able to do better than that.”
           
          Well, let’s see here. The British fought a little war slash skirmish with us that the Colonies called the War of Independence, or as is popularly know, the Revolutionary War.
           
          You think we can now trump the Founding Fathers, DQ? Maybe we can erase the Constitution too and remake things better in our image.
           
          I don’t think so. Some things just work and they’ll keep on working if you don’t fiddle with them too much.
           
           
           
           

        42. socratease says

          Don, I don’t have much to add to what’s already been said. But I wanted to mention that I used to hold the same opinion back about the time the federal “assault weapon” ban was being debated. I was all for it: why should people be able to own machine guns any more than they should be able to have a cache of dynamite? Too dangerous, no reason for it, yadda yadda. But there was a long-time gun owner I worked with that made me think, made me check my assumptions. I started hanging out on talk.politics.guns (before the web had been invented) and following the debates, checking out laws, statistics, and studies.
          And I came to realize the gun control advocates didn’t really have a case. When they quoted statistics that seemed to support their side, they usually had a fatal flaw in them. When the laws they advocated were put in place, gun crime didn’t go down — more often than not it went up. You can look at New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, California, Great Britain, Mexico, Jamaica, Australia, and so on — consistent failure wherever strong gun control was imposed. My conclusion: Gun control makes for a safe working environment for criminals and corrupt governments, but has little positive value.
          If you want a good scholarly treatise on the subject, pick up “Point Blank” by Gary Kleck.  It was written some time ago, but it’s still the best overall review of the subject, and not done by an advocate.  Also check out the Wright and Rossi report, written during the Carter administration, the last time our government commissioned a study on the effectiveness of gun laws because it didn’t give them the answer they wanted to hear.

        43. Bill Smith says

          Here is a pretty compelling video of a Lady doctor testifying before some legislators about an “assault weapons” ban. But it definitely applies to our discussion:
           
           
          http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4069761537893819675&hl=en#
           
           
          Also, it has always been, and still is legal for private citizens to own and fire fully automatic weapons like AK-47s, and even .50 cal. machine guns. There is a law restricting that to weapons manufactured before a certain date in the 1980s, but there are well over 100,000 fully automatic, and selective fire weapons in private hands right now.
           
           
          The reason most — probably all — of you don’t know this is that it has never been a problem. The number of these weapons that have been used committing crimes since the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 is, I think, either zero or two. I forget. And, I believe those crimes were not committed by the legal owners.
           
          It is not hard for law abiding citizens to buy an automatic weapon; they ARE a pricey, though — a couple of thousand on up into 5 figures for a nice Tommy Gun last time I looked.
           
           
          So even the breathlessly advanced anti-gun charge, “Why, would you even allow people to own machine guns?!!!!” has already been handled. They already DO own them in significant numbers, have done since they were invented about 100 years ago, and you don’t know about it, because they are owned by law abiding citizens, who **gasp** abide by the law.
           
          Indeed, it’s legal to own and fire cannons. Who do you think owns most of the scores of cannon we saw in the movie Gettysburg? Private citizens who are Civil War re-enactors. They even have target shooting competitions. Big round holes the size of grapefruit in paper targets out in a field. Real cannon balls, real cannon.
           
           
          Shooting guns is fun. .22s, shotguns at upside down ash trays flying through the air otherwise known as clay pigeons, Colt .45s fired from horseback at a gallop, known as Cowboy Action Shooting, .50 cal. Browning Machine Guns just like the ones in use in the war fired at donated junk cars in a field at fund raisers, muzzle loading flintlocks, and caplocks, plus the afore-mentioned cannon — just about anything that will shoot gets shot. You can still buy .58 cal. and larger miniballs for use in antique Civil War rifled muskets like mine, or new replicas.
           
           
          Having fun shooting guns is not evidence that you are a latent, nascent mass murderer. And, having, or wanting to have firearms for the sole purpose of defending yourself and your family USED to be considered a Good Thing, and still is by an awful lot of people, and their state legislators — with good results.
           
          Almost ANY honest cop will tell you that they cannot get to you in time to stop the bad guys in your house at 3 AM, or at noon at the ATM, or at the stoplight when they try to jack your car.
           
          PRETENDING that such things don’t happen, or believing that you are somehow putting positive anti-violence energy into the universe by gravely pronouncing that we can do better is just — I’m sorry — irresponsible denial of the reality that some human beings are capable — for whatever reason — of sudden, hideous, violent acts upon innocent people. By being equipped, and trained to defend yourself, you are NOT in some weird way contributing to the problem. You are, instead, doing the ONLY thing that will give you a fighting chance to defend yourself and your family TODAY, TOMORROW,  and the NEXT day until some great, mass transformation of human nature takes place. Me, I’m not holding my breath.
           

        44. Mike Devx says

           
          > For an eloquent essay on the real purpose of gun control see Coyotes in the State of Nature – Kevin Williamson – National Review Online Hint: it has nothing to do with crime control and everything to do with denying citizens the right to life independent of the state.
           
          This is the crux of it, DQ.  For you (a conservative in many ways) it is about responsibility; but for the vast majority of those who seek gun control, it is about CONTROL.
           
          And as was said above of Yamamoto, who would not invade this country because there would be a citizen with a gun behind EVERY BLADE OF GRASS, yes, the military seriously overwhelms the citizenry with firepower… but the citizenry overwhelms the military with numbers.  A platoon, no matter how well armed, could never control a city of 5000 if the citizenry were determined to not be controlled.
           
          The most important item concerning guns and gun control is that by forcibly removing from us, the right of self-defense, you are not merely engaging in gun control.  You are engaging in enslavement.  You are engaging in deliberately reducing my freedom.  If I agree to it, I am giving up my liberty and my rights as a free individual, and there MUST be a terrible psychological cost there, to a free individual.  A free individual who has just deliberately chosen to NOT be free.  That is the hidden underside to agreeing to gun control: The deliberate self-surrender of the right to self-defense, and therefore the right to be free.  Could that, in fact, be what ails all of Europe since World War II – they have given up on themselves as a free people, voluntarily?  They have chosen to not be free?  At what cost to their own self-identity, to their own souls?
           
           

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        1. What We’re Reading…

          Our Friend Belvedere Tried to Speak Truth to Neurosis. Worth a read. Personally, I don’t buy this we all need to stick together stuff. That’s simply not possible. People see things differently. The general outlines of conservatism and libertarianism …

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