Some of my "Wingnut Dialogues" are more productive than others. This one started out with a fairly incendiary post, and I think actually gained some ground, so the "wingnut" part is probably unfair, as it relates to the whole thing, though it certainly started that way. It was started the day of the Newtown school shooting, by an image of Adolf Hitler with the quote imposed on it: “To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens”
- The same mentality survives to this day. Amazing.
- Is this really a good day for this type of hyperbolic rhetoric?
- John: no, it isn't a good day for anything. Gun control advocates are out in force using this tragedy as they do after all tragedies, to make their pitch for the GVT banning things, so it's showing them the company they keep, historically. I find answering such nightmarish forfeiture of liberty a refreshing exercise. Thanks JD for finding and posting this.
- Douglas, I understand what you're saying, but I can't agree. Most of what I've seen, even from gun control advocates, actually isn't advocating banning guns, just for some restraint on safety and training. Oversimplifying those calls as calls for banning guns when they're not is just a tactic for turning a discussion into a shouting match, in hopes that the discussion will become so polarized as to be useless. That's a great tactic if you're a gun manufacturer (it's been successful for years), but if you're someone who want to see fewer dead children, it's a problem.
- John, I have no doubt you earnestly and truly believe your proposals will have a positive effect and you are unconcerned about ceding that liberty of gun ownership, inch by inch, over to the GVT. I certainly do not wish to get into a shouting match unless its over the last cigarette or shot of booze on the boat : ) I would like to ask 2 things: 1 - do you think GVT banning things or imposing restrictions on things are possible? Like with drugs? And 2 - is someone willing to commit mass murder going to be concerned with other lesser laws "limiting the use" or access of guns?
- Actually, Douglas, we don't know each other well enough
for you to have any idea what my level of concern is "about ceding that
liberty of gun ownership", but in the interest of having that discussion,
I'll tell you:
1 - Both banning and imposing restrictions are clearly possible, as one or the other is done in every other developed country on the planet. For myself, I don't advocate a ban, but like 74% of NRA members, I do advocate background checks, registration, and particularly safety training.
2 - No, someone willing to commit mass murder isn't going to be the least bit concerned with laws limiting the use of or access to guns, whether they live here or elsewhere. They may, however, be less able to get hold of a gun, which saves lots of lives in every country except ours.
The social science literature is unequivocal that gun violence declines rapidly in the presence of such restrictions, and it's a simple fact that where there are fewer guns, there are fewer gun murders. I don't want to see guns banned, but I do want to see required education about gun safety, including how to store a gun so that it doesn't fall into the hands of someone who may use it to slaughter innocents. I'd also like to see registration and background checks that make it much more difficult than it is now for someone demonstrably likely to misuse a gun in that way to get one. Is that an infringement on my liberty? Yes, it is, and I'm not crazy about that. However, the laws that prevent me from driving like a lunatic, or yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater, or pouring toxic waste into a local waterway are all also infringements on my liberty. I'm willing to live with those infringements, in order to avoid the consequences of doing all those things. Considering that we lose almost 200 people a week to gun violence, I'm similarly willing to live with the infringement on my liberty imposed by the gun restrictions I mentioned.
Please don't misunderstand me - I don't claim that such restrictions will prevent all such violence, and I think that we also need to pay more attention to our metal health infrastructure, so that we can have some chance of intervening before people lose it and start killing people. I also think we could do with a lot less of a culture that celebrates violence, a lot more of basic consideration of one another, and a lot less fetishistic voyeurism of the real and tragic violence we do see. Frankly, though, it's a lot harder to legislate those things without getting into restrictions of my liberty with which I'm not comfortable. But while I'm not claiming that gun violence will be completely stopped by such restrictions (or even by a ban, if I were in favor of one), I do claim that restrictions will decrease it significantly. I believe that because we have empirical evidence to support that belief - it happens in every other developed country on Earth (in many of which people are as free as we are), and it can happen here too.
- Wow so much to respond to. I take what you write here as showing perfectly and clearly what your level of concern is about ceding inch by inch to the GVT that precious necessary liberty of citizen gun ownership. Not sure we need to have a deep long association to ascertain such a plain sentiment. But lets get to it: Banning guns is possible. In America. You just wrote that. So you clearly believe guns are unlike alcohol(banned in 1920) and drugs(banned in the mid to late 20th Century). I respectfully and very jokingly suggest you must be on drugs to believe a ban is possible as the evidence is overwhelming its not. It will just create a multi billion dollar black market that will make the drug trade look like a Girl Scout bake sale. But to get to your main points: you believe many, and maybe even these mentally ill suicidal/homicidal teens and college age kids(Columbine, Gabby Giffords, Conn preschool) can be prevented from committing gun violence, through "training and some limitations on gun availability" .... OK. We just disagree. I believe these shootings are mentally unstable suicidal people. They are affected by the descent of the culture. The violence of a Quentin Tarantino movie doesn't affect normal well adjusted people, but is affecting these mentally deranged people. Banning(or training or limiting or in any way restricting) inanimate objects will do nothing but create a massive GVT bureaucracy and prevent nothing. Case in point: The Norway massacre in July 2011 was the worst in world history, and Norway has exceedingly strict gun control laws. It doesn't work. But I understand you may disagree and believe new restrictions will do something. We just disagree. Peace to you sir : )
- Douglas, you can take what I wrote as indicating what you
will, but if you're going to do that, it would be a good idea to take what I
actually wrote. You say that I "clearly believe guns are unlike alcohol...
and drugs..." Since I actually said that I neither supported a ban nor
believed one would prevent all gun violence, it's either disingenuous or simply
inattentive to say I did believe that.
You go on to say that I "...believe many, and maybe even these mentally ill suicidal/homicidal teens and college age kids...can be prevented from committing gun violence, through 'training and some limitations on gun availability' ...." First of all, when using quotation marks, it's customary to put actual quotations between them - it may be more rhetorically useful to argue with a mischaracterization of what I said, but doesn't serve an honest discussion.
More importantly, your misquote implies that I believe that educating mentally unstable people can persuade them not to be violent. I neither believe nor said that. What I did say was that I believed that educating those who have guns to store them properly would likely reduce the incidence of those guns finding their way into the hands of crazy people. I also said that I thought that background checks and gun registration would help to decrease the incidence of gun violence (in part by finding some of the crazy people before they go home from a gun show with the ability to turn their insanity into mass murder).
You're right, though, we do disagree. I disagree that "(b)anning(or training or limiting or in any way restricting) inanimate objects will do nothing but create a massive GVT bureaucracy and prevent nothing." Our country leads the developed world in gun violence, and by a huge margin. Norway's per capita gun death rate is a tiny fraction of ours over time. Look around the web for foreign coverage of this morning's tragedy (or any of its many predecessors) - the rest of the world marvels that we can continue to slaughter each other with such regularity and still refuse to regulate the guns we do it with, and nobody thinks that's a coincidence. Within our country, those states with more stringent gun regulations have significantly lower rates of gun violence. You can argue that the benefits of those restrictions aren't worth the infringement of liberty they represent (we would disagree about that too), but the facts are the facts, anecdotes about armed Norwegian madmen to the contrary notwithstanding.
Does that mean there will be no more insane people whose insanity makes them kill people? No, of course not. It doesn't even mean that some of them won't find a way to kill people with a gun, just as it doesn't in Norway. I believe, however, that it will mean that fewer of them will be able to kill people as efficiently and in such great numbers as they can do now. How many of the children we're mourning tonight, or the nearly 200 people who die every week, would be alive if the person who killed them hadn't had a gun to do it with? I suppose we don't really know, but I'm pretty confident that it would be a significant number.
We agree about something too. What I meant by "...a lot less of a culture that celebrates violence, a lot more of basic consideration of one another, and a lot less fetishistic voyeurism of the real and tragic violence we do see" was exactly what you described as "the descent of the culture". I'm less certain about how to remedy that, but not celebrating violence (to me) includes not mythologizing the value of weapons. Peace to you as well, and thanks for the discussion.
- Hey, you all both missed the point! You can't stop EVIL.
- Maybe not, but we can make its expression more difficult, and we might save some lives by doing so. It seems unlikely that we're more inherently evil than the people in other developed countries, and they manage to slow it down some.
- John: it's a temptation of simplicity... You want to believe we can solve this "by making some regulation or law" and we can't. And those regulations or laws do great harm, not to the mindless killers, but to liberty itself. The Norway massacre I posted the link on shows the folly. But folly is what humans do, and with the direction of the country, I fully expect guns to go the way of alcohol in the 1920s and drugs the past many decades, with a massive black market of people easily avoiding all the bullshit GVT regulation and restrictions, nonetheless, with tens of thousands arrested for violating said folly.
- JD: it is evil, and mentally suicidal homicidal unstable people. I think the violent nature of the culture debases normal well adjusted people, but it has caused those with severe mental problems to act out violently.
- Douglas, I'm not sure what "a temptation of
simplicity" is, but once again, I didn't say what you quoted me as saying.
At least this time, your misquote, while oversimplified, is not too far off,
even though it implicitly accuses me of some inclination
to blindly legislate some random solution, which I don't favor.
With due respect, the link you posted about the Norwegian tragedy doesn't make the case you say it does. It shows that even in countries with strict gun laws, there will be statistical outliers who defeat those laws and kill people, but it doesn't answer the simple fact that the gun violence rate over time in Norway, like that in all the other OECD countries, is a fraction of what it is here.
You are right that we are frequently fools, but I don't believe we are inherently more "evil", more foolish, or even inherently more crazy than those other countries, or that our society is more degenerate than theirs are (with the possible exception of the extent to which we glorify violence). What's most different is the gun regulations in each, and I contend that the difference in gun fatalities is proof that those regulations are working.
You've mentioned a couple of times now that the perpetrators of such atrocities as we witnessed yesterday are frequently suicidally insane. In that context, it may be useful to note that while our general suicide rates (undifferentiated by method) are somewhere in the middle of the range of countries for which we have data, we are in a class almost by ourselves with respect to suicide by gunshot. The only countries which are worse are Uruguay and Montenegro (I'm afraid I have no idea why), and nobody else is even in the same league. That's not just a comparison across OECD countries, that includes some of the worst hellholes on Earth.
Ask most any suicide prevention counselor or other mental health professional, and they will tell you that the immediate and virtually certain death a firearm provides is incredibly dangerous for those who are suicidal (and, as the mass murder-suicides we have seen increasingly over the last few years indicates, for the people around them). Humans may specialize in folly, but we are also very inventive, and firearms are incredibly efficient at doing what they were designed for - killing animals (including people). Many people who try to commit suicide by other means fail to do so, and virtually none take anyone with them when they succeed. By contrast, those who decide to kill themselves with a gun succeed with great regularity, and as we have seen, take others along all too often.
Since there is really no significant movement in the US to ban all guns, I doubt that the massive black market you predict will come to pass, because the number of people willing to go to jail for not registering a gun, submitting to a background check, or taking required safety training seems to me unlikely to be very high. What’s more, I’d have some questions about why those folks didn’t want to do any of those relatively minor things.
It seems to me that this is a public health issue, and we make many concessions of liberty on the grounds of public health on a regular basis. Your arguments seem to assume that the end goal is an outright ban of all guns, and I just don’t see that there’s any real evidence to support that suspicion. The “slippery slope” argument that is implicit in some of what you’ve said is unpersuasive. I think the slope’s not that slippery, and as a tactical matter, gun rights advocates’ intransigence about bowing to the demands of public health make it slipperier than any inherent inclination of those who want to see the public’s health protected.
Have a safe and happy holiday.
- Thanks for a great reply John and you too. Be safe. Be well. Love those you love with greater appreciation for how easily life can be gone in an instant. I know I will.