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The shadow of the gun
February 7, 2013 4:08 PM   Subscribe

My Eight Years with a Gun "If the government was powerless to stop this onslaught, then the gun in my pocket was a declaration that the city had broken the social contract."
posted by bitmage (229 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw what you did with that title....
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:25 PM on February 7, 2013


"Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" must have taken on a while new meaning.
posted by Leezie at 4:29 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The author was really between a rock and a hard place there. Inefficient/non-existent policing, gun control laws, and a high crime rate area all combining with probably some reason as to why he couldn't transfer to a school in a safer area.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting read. The fact that he was untrained and carried a gun unlawfully should taint his opinion however.
I have legally carried a handgun for over ten years. I am trained. To go through the CCL in Texas is a hard thing to do. The hoops and hurdles are a bitch.

For someone willing to do it however...

The bad guys will ALWAYS have guns. I carry because I want the odds to better my favor. That said....I take the responsiblity very seriously. I have no time for fools who buy/ carry without the training.
posted by shockingbluamp at 4:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Oh God just once will someone not say "the bad guys" or "the good guys" in a discussion about guns.
posted by basicchannel at 4:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [135 favorites]


The takeaway quote from the article: "I love guns. They are seductive, with a visceral appeal that seems to bypass reason entirely and go directly to some more primitive part of the brain."

Just remember, Hal (and shockingbluamp and other armed MeFites), when confronting someone else with a gun while you are carrying, the only way to truly "better your odds" is to shoot him down before he has a clue what you're doing. It's what allowed Han Solo to survive the first half hour of Star Wars. (HAN SHOT FIRST) I know I can never be Han Solo; too many people, including those WITH training think they can when they really can not.

And remember, when guns are outlawed, we'll finally be clear on exactly who the Bad Guys are.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:41 PM on February 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


Interesting article. Not sure I agree with just throwing the gun in the garbage when he's done with it. Seems like there's a million better ways to get rid of it.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:41 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh God just once will someone not say "the bad guys" or "the good guys" in a discussion about guns.

Yeah, I know what you mean. Everyone always leaves out us Ugly guys.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [84 favorites]


Great article. I want to start calling this the Fantasy of Being Armed. Armed, I can accurately identify 'bad guys.' Armed, I can respond to threats coolly and rationally, without resorting to fear or other emotions. Armed, I Am Safe.

That said....I take the responsiblity very seriously. I have no time for fools who buy/ carry without the training.

Hopefully policemen have even higher standard for training, and yet armed cops make 'mistakes' (often fatal) all the damned time. These incidents just happened today.
posted by muddgirl at 4:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


I really hope the throwing the gun away in the garbage can was for dramatic effect.
posted by cyml at 4:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Concealed Carry feels like a macro version of Mutually Assured Destruction.
posted by hellojed at 4:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


I discovered that in many ways life with a gun was more stressful than without

God, when he mentioned taking it on the subway I had some sort of panic attack by proxy. I'd be worried not about getting shot, shooting someone, but getting arrested and going to jail. I'd make a bad criminal.

Really, the last thing Fort Greene needed was more guns. When he discusses his face off with the guy he irrationally assumed was a drug dealer, I figured his cop friend was prophetic, someone was going to get killed over something fucking stupid.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


shockingbluamp: The bad guys will ALWAYS have guns.

This isn't true. It's not even the case all of the time in the US, and it's definitely not the case in Europe or Japan. It's true that they do have them sometimes, but comprehensive gun control does a pretty good job of taking them away from the average mugger or drug dealer. There is a black market, but they get much more scarce and expensive, so a lot of the lower-end criminals can't afford them or don't have the contacts to buy them.

I'm not necessarily for gun control, mind you, but it does work. Not perfectly, but to a significant degree.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [34 favorites]


Thanks for mentioning that, Muddgirl — I was thinking about just that thing today. (LA is a bit crazy today. There are cops — and folks pulled over — everywhere.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh God just once will someone not say "the bad guys" or "the good guys" in a discussion about guns.

Are you asserting the gun is somehow good or bad? or maybe their aren't bad guys and good guys? I think the motives and goals of the person using the tool is very, very relevant in discussion of this nature. We have had some posts about the technical aspects of guns, and great discussion in them with very little about good or bad guys. This article isn't about the technical discussion. This guy broke several laws and disposed of the gun...badly. He could have at least disassembled it. Most police departments will accept a gun for destruction no questions asked. If he had ever actually used it in self defense he would have gone to jail for a host of crimes independent of the actual self defense. And all those gun control laws he violated in New York didn't stop it from having a very high murder rate. While the murder rate in several other cities wasn't nearly as a high and those cities didn't have any such strict gun control laws their...food for thought.

Hopefully policemen have even higher standard for training, and yet armed cops make 'mistakes' (often fatal) all the damned time.

People who have a License/permit to carry a concealed weapon are convicted of crimes at a lower rate that police officers and fire far fewer shots in the (very) rare case they ever use the gun. Most police officers have a requirement to qualify and practice with their weapon less than 5 hours a year. I don't know ANYONE (and I know quite a few) people who have a CCL who practice less than that and most practice that much every month. I have been told that several departments actually have a culture AGAINST being proficient with their weapon as you get labeled as a 'gun nut' and a dangerous person for knowing about guns.

I don't carry one because it is unlikely I will ever need it and it is a pain in the ass to carry one around (they are heavy, bulky, awkward and difficult to keep concealed). But I am glad to have to have a legal way to do that should it become necessary to take that precaution.
posted by bartonlong at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Totally stupid choice at the end...
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Concealed Carry feels like a macro version of Mutually Assured Destruction.

No, it's not like that at all. To paraphrase Dr. Strangelove, "If you want to carry a deterrent...why would you keep it a secret?" Deterrents are threats. A secret deterrent does not deter.

Open carry makes far more sense for self defense, and at least it's honest about the kind of wild west society it's trying to produce.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:03 PM on February 7, 2013 [27 favorites]


This isn't true. It's not even the case all of the time in the US, and it's definitely not the case in Europe or Japan. It's true that they do have them sometimes, but comprehensive gun control does a pretty good job of taking them away from the average mugger or drug dealer. There is a black market, but they get much more scarce and expensive, so a lot of the lower-end criminals can't afford them or don't have the contacts to buy them.

I'm not necessarily for gun control, mind you, but it does work. Not perfectly, but to a significant degree.


strict gun control does limit the amount of gun violence in a society. I think the evidence is pretty clear on that. However whether or not it lowers the homicide rate, and especially the violent crime rate is another matter. Just because someone isn't killed by a gun, they can still be killed and just getting rid of guns isn't going to eliminate the 10000 homicides that occur every year in the US. I think the homicide rate in Great Britain is about 2 per 100,000 which is about the same as most cities in the US. The high gun violent rate is really, really concentrated in a few cities and mostly in a few neighborhoods in those cities. Might be something other than guns that is causing that violence. For instance the homicide rate in DC is about 12 per 100,000 and has the strictest gun control in the US. Across the Potomac in Arlington the rate is about 2 per 100,000 and Virginia has pretty liberal gun control laws by comparison.
posted by bartonlong at 5:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


He carried a .22? This is the kind of gun that boys who live in the country (like me) get when they turn 12 or 13. Deadly on squirrels at 50 feet, not much for self defense.

Why am I not surprised that the article includes a picture of a serious handgun, not a .22...
posted by Patapsco Mike at 5:08 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


The end came on a Sunday morning. I wrapped the RG in newspaper and stuffed it into an empty milk carton, which I put into a larger bag of household trash. I carried the bag down to the end of my block and dropped it into a street-corner garbage can.

How incredibly short-sighted and self-centered. Christ what an asshole.
posted by Splunge at 5:10 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Good read.

It's a security blanket. A security blanket that kills, and fucks up lives. As far as I'm concerned, everyone that carries a gun is part of the problem, not just the "bad guys".
posted by Decani at 5:17 PM on February 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


People who have a License/permit to carry a concealed weapon are convicted of crimes at a lower rate that police officers

You would need to cite this assertion, and make sure that you're comparing gun-related convictions to gun-related convictions.
posted by muddgirl at 5:20 PM on February 7, 2013


Where's the companion article about the fool who was carrying and got shot with his own gun?
posted by warbaby at 5:21 PM on February 7, 2013


Guns enable violence. Carrying a firearm is a reaction to the author's situation - he wants to be able to act violently, more effectively.
Some people think that we should make people less violent. I do not think this is possible.
Some people think that we should reduce the ability of people to do violence, but disagree on the best way to achieve that.

There are no easy answers.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:22 PM on February 7, 2013


And furthermore, I don't think that really has anything to do with my point, which is that 'training' does not make the Fantasy of Being Armed come true. It would also be best to look at members of the military.
posted by muddgirl at 5:22 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some people think that we should make people less violent. I do not think this is possible.

Haven't the rates of violent crimes dropped sharply since the 70s/80s? It's tempting to be cynical about the state of humanity, but I think it's sort of self-defeating.
posted by muddgirl at 5:25 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"My Eight Years with a Gun" by Hal Stucker
-or-
"My 50+ Years Without A Gun" by Lampshade

----

i like my story better.
posted by lampshade at 5:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


Good point decani. For people like the author of this article, guns are a prop in a fantasy. On confronting someone who was rude to him on the subway: "I looked straight back into his eyes and made my face harden." Why stop at imagining himself to be Clint Eastwood when he could have been LARPing Jet Li? He might as well have carried a rope dart as a pistol for all he knew about weapons. It would have been no less absurd and somewhat less alarming to the people around him.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:29 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


He carried a .22? This is the kind of gun that boys who live in the country (like me) get when they turn 12 or 13. Deadly on squirrels at 50 feet, not much for self defense.

Doesn't the .22 kill more people than any other caliber, due to wide availability and cheap ammunition?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:30 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Removed a few comments; manifesto of LA cop shooter guy is a derail here.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


hoo boy, this thread cries out for public unfavorites.
posted by mwhybark at 5:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't want a gun; I want an invisibility cloak and a force field.
posted by Existential Dread at 5:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think it's complicated, and I certainly think that not everyone should carry a gun for self-defense. Some people aren't trained, or don't have the right character or the right psychology, and so forth.

What amazes me is the condescending self-righteousness and dogmatism of some--let me emphasize the some--anti-gun folks. (Some people on the other side of the discussion amaze me for different reasons.)

The question--or a big part of the question--is, basically: if you are going to go to a dangerous place, a place where you have a good chance of being robbed or beaten or killed, a place where the police cannot really protect you, is it reasonable to arm yourself?

One has to take into account the odds of harming other innocent people, of course. But, speaking for myself, under such conditions I'd rather have the capacity to defend the innocent (including myself and my loved ones) than not have such a capacity. At least if you have the capacity, the choice to exercise it is yours.

People who are against firearms often say things which presuppose that if a responsible, law-abiding person carries a gun for self-defense, she is actually less safe. But that is false, and, in fact, absurd.

Of course carrying a firearm is nothing like a guarantee of safety. The flip side of the irrational coin is pro-gun folks who seem to think that guns are, well, a magic bullet.

To be honest, it often seems to me that the attitude of the anti-gun folks in question seems to be "only a barbarian would even consider taking it upon himself to defend himself and others." It's not just that they (mistakenly) think that a firearm can't shift the odds in favor of good people, it's that they often seem offended by the idea of private citizens stopping crime with firearms. I could be wrong--I'm just saying that, after having observed and participated in many such discussions...well, that's sometimes the way it seems to me. There seems to be at least some hint of such a thing in play.

There are actually comments above that refuse to distinguish between criminals with illegal guns and law-abiding citizens who legally arm themselves. It's not possible to have anything like a rational discussion of the issue with someone who refuses to recognize even the most obvious and important distinctions central to the discussion.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:36 PM on February 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


For instance the homicide rate in DC is about 12 per 100,000 and has the strictest gun control in the US. Across the Potomac in Arlington the rate is about 2 per 100,000 and Virginia has pretty liberal gun control laws by comparison.

For Chicago, and DC, and New York, and many other areas with strict gun control, it's already well-established that the guns are bought in areas with much looser gun and brought into the city. It's also well-established that in many urban locales (Detroit, in particular) that there have been massive cuts to regulatory enforcement and police forces due to the usual conservative attacks on the public sector. On top of that, states with loose gun laws fare no better. For instance, Miami and Houston have aggravated assault rates well over twice that of DC, and are 3rd and 4th in that respect. DC rates 10th in robberies, well behind #5 Miami, and #6 Houston. Chicago may have a high rate of murder (6.8 per 100k), but Miami's not far behind at 6.1, and Houston, Phoenix, Tampa, and Dallas all have higher rates than DC (which, by the way, is 4.4 per 100k, not 12). Meanwhile, the only "statistics" we have of people stopping potential crimes are from self-reported and therefore fairly unscientific surveys. It's next to impossible that people who go around with a mindset that the guns they carry automatically deter violence misinterpret or even manufacture interactions as encounters. Without any actual data, we have no way to believe their assertions.

If you're going to remove any of those factors from the equation, deliberately or not, and go around calling people "bad guys" just to prove an unfounded point about deterrence, then don't be surprised when it looks like you're feeding a fantasy.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:41 PM on February 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Eh. I think I'm OK with using the terms "good guys" and "bad guys" in this thread, just as long as we agree to apply the term "bad guy" to the criminal who obtained an illegal driver's license as part of his plan to illegally obtain a gun in Kentucky, illegally transport it to New York, and illegally carry it unlicensed as part of his fantasy of one day murdering someone if he saw "the first glint of gun metal" from the pocket of a teenager he thought had clothes he shouldn't be able to afford. That criminal is the bad guy, right?

It's a shame he's probably outside the statutes of limitations for his state and federal crimes. Wouldn't it be fantastic if the FBI, and police from Kentucky and New York could knock on his door, arrest him, and charge him with the crimes he confessed to in that article? I know I'd watch that episode of Cops.
posted by The World Famous at 5:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


"People who are against firearms often say things which presuppose that if a responsible, law-abiding person carries a gun for self-defense, she is actually less safe. But that is false, and, in fact, absurd."

Well, no, it's not. And it's borne out by epidemiological studies, which pretty clearly show that the number one factor in risk of gun death is gun ownership.

It's much like how owning a car makes one much more likely to die an automobile-related death.
posted by klangklangston at 5:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


It's a security blanket. A security blanket that kills, and fucks up lives. As far as I'm concerned, everyone that carries a gun is part of the problem, not just the "bad guys".

If they never use it, it's not part of the problem.
posted by gjc at 5:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the .22 kill more people than any other caliber, due to wide availability and cheap ammunition?

That, length of service, and people thinking "It's only a .22, how dangerous could it be?"

The Box O' Truth. A .22 caliber round will kill.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:46 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not possible to have anything like a rational discussion of the issue with someone who refuses to recognize even the most obvious and important distinctions central to the discussion.

Yes, and it's not possible to have anything like a rational discussion of the issue with someone who refuses to recognize even the most obvious and important distinctions central to the discussion to me is that I do not not want to shoot anyone under any circumstance.

If the world I live in demands that I carry a gun, then I will find another world to live in. I have done it before and I will do it again.
posted by lampshade at 5:46 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


If they never use it, it's not part of the problem.

Unless someone else uses it, that is.
posted by The World Famous at 5:47 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, no, it's not. And it's borne out by epidemiological studies, which pretty clearly show that the number one factor in risk of gun death is gun ownership.

Exactly. Gun violence is a public health issue. It's truly unfortunate that gun lobbyists and their pet congresscritters have completely blocked funding for scientific studies of gun violence. If we had actual data, we wouldn't have to rely on power fantasies as arguments for gun ownership.
posted by Existential Dread at 5:47 PM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


The fact that he was untrained and carried a gun unlawfully should taint his opinion however.

No True Marksman fallacy?
posted by dhartung at 5:48 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


You would need to cite this assertion, and make sure that you're comparing gun-related convictions to gun-related convictions.

That might be a tough stat to dig up. Wikipedia's cite on the numbers of homicides by concealed carry holders for one specific, fairly recent time, look relatively low. Some of them were cops. No word on the justifications for those incidences.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:48 PM on February 7, 2013


No True Marksman fallacy?

More like no true responsible, law-abiding citizen.
posted by The World Famous at 5:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh God just once will someone not say "the bad guys" or "the good guys" in a discussion about guns.

Sorry, TFA is written by a bad guy. White kid from Kentucky moves to Brooklyn, is afraid of "crime" and carries around an illegal firearm, eventually disposes of it because rich girls from the coasts don't like guns, but still doesn't have enough perspective years afterwards to see that his fear of "crime" has everything to do with his fear of black people.

He was seconds from killing some black kid on the subway and feeling misunderstood for the rest of his life: "I'm not a racist killer. If only the politicians could get their act together and take care of the 'crime' problem." But because he's liberal and an artist he carefully edits out every mention of race from his essay, and even tries to suggest that the reasons he got that gun had to do with getting beat-down in high school by "rednecks."

Uh huh.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [36 favorites]


The question--or a big part of the question--is, basically: if you are going to go to a dangerous place, a place where you have a good chance of being robbed or beaten or killed, a place where the police cannot really protect you, is it reasonable to arm yourself?

Yes, that makes perfect sense. In Mogadishu, I might carry an AK-47. From the perspective of the government, the goal of policy should be to make sure our cities are not places where carrying a gun is a rational choice.

What places in your country are so dangerous and so unpoliced that carrying a gun is reasonable? Why do you keep going there?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


ggod/ bad guy....the point being:

bad guys do not care about being licenced or obtaining a gun by legal means. They will arm themselves no matter what laws are in place VS Good Guy who will buy and legally train to be proficient in his weapon.

90% of CCW/CCL training is what NOT to do. The training is how NOT to pull a gun. How to AVOID being in any situation where you might have to use a weapon. 90% training again...is how to AVOID AT ALL COST pulling a gun..because when you do..your life will forever be changed...whether or not (heaven forbid you should fire) you shoot someone.
Again..and I cannot make this point clear enough. CCL training is about how to AVOID!!!

I don't carry to be a cowboy or to give myself any sense of being tough. It is a last ditch option. I will run or whatever if my life is in danger...thats what training is. The VERY LAST OPTION...the VERY last...is pulling my weapon.

Anyone who has a ccw/ ccl will tell you the same.
posted by shockingbluamp at 5:51 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The bad guys will ALWAYS have guns

And if the good guys have guns, then the bad guys will have friends.

I'm always impressed by how horrible people are at history.

That bad guy good guy construction always bothered me. It rankles, because it's so stupid and meaningless. Something like 60% of mass killings are committed by people with no previous criminal record - they're just good guys who snapped or whatever and turned into bad guys*. But since they were good guys, they could get guns and now they are bad guys with guns and everyone around them is dead.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of first graders and ex-girlfriends I guess.

* I knew those people.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [31 favorites]


Well, no, it's not. And it's borne out by epidemiological studies, which pretty clearly show that the number one factor in risk of gun death is gun ownership.

It's much like how owning a car makes one much more likely to die an automobile-related death.


In the first place, if you correct for suicide, then the numbers don't look nearly as bleak.

Second of all, correlation doesn't equal causation. It is possible, and more likely, that more lunatics want guns and lunatics get shot more often. There are 300,000,000 guns in the US, and almost all of them never kill anyone.
posted by gjc at 5:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The point of the good guy/bad guy rhetoric is to Other. We aren't all just people, there's all those bad guys from which we need to be defended. It's the deliberate elimination of nuance.
posted by kafziel at 5:54 PM on February 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


Anyone who has a ccw/ ccl will tell you the same.

So then 0% of CCW/CCL owners have either fired on someone in error (deliberately or accidentally) or committed a crime?
posted by zombieflanders at 5:54 PM on February 7, 2013


"Or maybe there are no good people. Maybe there are only good decisions."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are actually comments above that refuse to distinguish between criminals with illegal guns and law-abiding citizens who legally arm themselves. It's not possible to have anything like a rational discussion of the issue with someone who refuses to recognize even the most obvious and important distinctions central to the discussion.

The distinction is an illusion. Guns are dangerous to anyone within range, regardless of who carries them. Here's a collection of accounts of lawmen accidentally shooting themselves or each other. The one I found most telling included this:
Saavedra, 40, was shot in the stomach at 4:55 p.m. Wednesday while practicing at the port's shooting range in the Rincon Industrial Park with fellow port officer Eric A. Giannamore, 47. Saavedra died about an hour later at the hospital.
. . .
Saavedra and Giannamore, both qualified range masters and experienced firearms instructors, were on duty and wearing bullet-proof vests at the time of the shooting.
How much training will make a person safe to carry a gun? Going by that story, there is no such thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes, and it's not possible to have anything like a rational discussion of the issue with someone who refuses to recognize even the most obvious and important distinctions central to the discussion to me is that I do not not want to shoot anyone under any circumstance.

If the world I live in demands that I carry a gun, then I will find another world to live in. I have done it before and I will do it again.


That's the thing about rights. You aren't forced to exercise them, and you can't force other people not to exercise theirs. Your desire to never want to shoot anyone is completely normal, and I think the vast majority of people feel the same way.
posted by gjc at 5:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


A good answer in the near term is liability insurance and strengthened liability laws for gun owners. If your gun is used to kill someone, you will be held responsible.

Oh yeah, and universal background checks.
posted by Existential Dread at 5:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


bad guys do not care about being licenced or obtaining a gun by legal means. They will arm themselves no matter what laws are in place VS Good Guy who will buy and legally train to be proficient in his weapon.

Exactly. You meant to describe the author of the article, right?

CCL training is about how to AVOID!!!

Then why is it called CCL training, and why do the people who take the course own guns? I'm imagining a driver's education course that's about nothing but how to make sure you never even get in a car.
posted by The World Famous at 5:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, TFA is written by a bad guy.

I'd say yours is a pretty uncharitable reading of the guy's article. His decision to carry a firearm sounded perfectly rational, if illegal. And as he noted, with unforeseen ramifications, that fortunately didn't end in violence. But he was never a bad guy, and wouldn't be even if he'd been forced to shoot someone in self defense.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are 300,000,000 guns in the US, and almost all of them never kill anyone.

There are roughly the same number of cars in the US, and almost all of them never kill anyone either. Yet you're required to be trained for significant amounts of time, licensed to operate them, register all of your vehicles, undergo regular renewals of licensing and registration, and aren't allowed to operate them under the influence. And if you violate any of those, you lose the ability to operate them, have them taken away from you, and can be punished quite severely. And, of course, cars weren't invented as a tool for the sole purpose of harming or killing a living creature, especially other humans, or for destroying property.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [41 favorites]


strict gun control does limit the amount of gun violence in a society. I think the evidence is pretty clear on that. However whether or not it lowers the homicide rate, and especially the violent crime rate is another matter. Just because someone isn't killed by a gun, they can still be killed and just getting rid of guns isn't going to eliminate the 10000 homicides that occur every year in the US. I think the homicide rate in Great Britain is about 2 per 100,000 which is about the same as most cities in the US. The high gun violent rate is really, really concentrated in a few cities and mostly in a few neighborhoods in those cities. Might be something other than guns that is causing that violence. For instance the homicide rate in DC is about 12 per 100,000 and has the strictest gun control in the US. Across the Potomac in Arlington the rate is about 2 per 100,000 and Virginia has pretty liberal gun control laws by comparison.
Well, the murder rate in the UK is 1.2, and the murder rate in the US is 4.8, four times higher. Even if we accept that a handful of cities in the US are more murder-filled than others, the same is likely true for the UK, so we should adjust that downward too. However, all but three US states actually have a higher homicide rate than for the whole of the UK. Whether the difference is due to relatively low gun ownership with stricter regulation is another question. I personally don't believe it is the only factor, but it could help.
posted by Jehan at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd say yours is a pretty uncharitable reading of the guy's article. His decision to carry a firearm sounded perfectly rational, if illegal.

1) What about his decision to falsify information to obtain an illegal driver's license to obtain the firearm in another state?

2) The decision to carry a firearm in the commission of a bank robbery is also perfectly rational, if illegal.
posted by The World Famous at 6:01 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you read a situation quickly and accurately enough to gauge whether your life is truly in danger and whether drawing it is justified?

I don't think I can, which is one major reason why - while I have a permit that allows me to carry a gun for "all lawful purposes" - I almost never carry a gun.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:01 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


CCL training is about how to AVOID!!! The VERY LAST OPTION...the VERY last...is pulling my weapon. Anyone who has a ccw/ ccl will tell you the same.

Uh, huh. I've been to ar-15.com, dude.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:02 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


bad guys do not care about being licenced or obtaining a gun by legal means.

Luckily for them there's a vast supply of legal firearms free for the taking. Pretty much all of the illegal firearms in America originate in the legal market. The legal market is what sustains the manufacture of guns. It is also what sustains the supply to "Bad Guys."
posted by klanawa at 6:04 PM on February 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


1) What about his decision to falsify information to obtain an illegal driver's license to obtain the firearm in another state?

What about it?

2) The decision to carry a firearm in the commission of a bank robbery is also perfectly rational, if illegal.

And also causes a specific harm, depriving someone else of their property. And kind of irrelevant to the guy's situation.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:06 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the first place, if you correct for suicide

And why would we do that?
posted by Drinky Die at 6:08 PM on February 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


shockingbluamp: "bad guys do not care about being licenced or obtaining a gun by legal means. They will arm themselves no matter what laws are in place VS Good Guy who will buy and legally train to be proficient in his weapon."

This is a common argument, but it's flawed; the article at least articulates this directly and comprehensively. By saying that laws won't deter "bad guys," you are rejecting the social contract and the government we live with. We have laws and a government to enforce them; if we reject those laws or the government's ability to enforce them, we're living extralegally, beyond the bounds our society has agreed upon. One can make this argument about anything - bad guys don't care about laws against drugs; bad guys don't care about laws against rape; bad guys don't care about laws against private individuals owning industrial-grade dynamite and blasting caps. Fine. But if we stop caring that, in our lawful society, there are people who are supposed to enforce laws, and that those people are not random private citizens, then we've become the same as the criminals, at least in the sense that we're okay with the demise of law and order and the end of a mutually beneficial state which has served us for generations.

In other words, this argument - the argument that 'gun laws don't work because criminals don't care about laws, so we must arm ourselves to fight back' - is an anarchist argument that flies in the face of everything the United States of America was built on. And that's okay, if you wish - I have plenty of friends who are fine with that, who are anarchists who don't care about that legacy. I just think you should be aware of what you're really setting yourself up for when you reject the idea of law and order by arguing that "bad guys do not care."

Oh, and one last thing that should be said: I happen to like the United States, and while I have some mixed feelings about law enforcement from time to time, I think it's pretty obvious what should be done when we have a problem with "bad guys" who "do not care" about the law. We arrest them. We punish them for their crimes. We do it lawfully and under the aegis of good government, giving them a hearing before society and a fair trial with all due process. We do not go out as private citizens and buy a gun and try to do the job ourselves.
posted by koeselitz at 6:13 PM on February 7, 2013 [44 favorites]


What about it?

You said above: "But he was never a bad guy, and wouldn't be even if he'd been forced to shoot someone in self defense." Was he not a bad guy when he knowingly falsified information to obtain a state ID for the purpose of illegally buying a gun, transporting it across state lines, and carrying it without a license? Would you characterize those actions as "perfectly rational, if illegal?"

And what about when he disposed of the gun by throwing it in the garbage? Was he not a bad guy then?
posted by The World Famous at 6:16 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The speed with which law-and-order moral absolutists become Authorities Unto Themselves has always fascinated me.
posted by verb at 6:18 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The question--or a big part of the question--is, basically: if you are going to go to a dangerous place, a place where you have a good chance of being robbed or beaten or killed, a place where the police cannot really protect you, is it reasonable to arm yourself?

How are you defining a"good chance"? I'd argue that the last fifty years of research in behavioral science has established that intuition is an extraordinarily bad guide when it comes torisk assessment. And beyond that, we're most likely to rely on intuition exclusively when in a state of arousal.

I don't have a gun, and I hope that I'll never consider it for precisely this reason. Like literally every other human being on Earth, I'm susceptible to all sorts of biases and irrational heuristics that render me incapable of making anything close to reasonable on-the-fly decisions about risk assessment without something approaching full-time training and quite a bit of experience.

I'm not in the military, and I don't work in law enforcement, so I'll never hone the instincts necessary to be able to make life-or-death decisions within moments while surging with adrenaline.

Because I'm a human.
posted by graphnerd at 6:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was he not a bad guy when he knowingly falsified information to obtain a state ID for the purpose of illegally buying a gun, transporting it across state lines, and carrying it without a license?


No. Ignoring the law does not make one a bad guy.


Would you characterize those actions as "perfectly rational, if illegal?"


Yes. They guy lived in a violent place with few options for security.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:23 PM on February 7, 2013


The moral of the story, and those who insist the author was in the right, is simple. We know that someone is a good guy because he is sympathetic to us, and we know someone is a bad guy because he is suspicious, and not sympathetic. Laws are for bad guys, not for good guys. If good guys break laws, they stay good and the laws become bad.

For other examples in recent history, see the justification of torture by the US government.
posted by verb at 6:25 PM on February 7, 2013 [27 favorites]


If they never use it, it's not part of the problem.

How about when they fail to dispose of it safely, thus either endangering the garbage workers, or letting the gun into the hands of some other illegal owner who does use it?
posted by jacalata at 6:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd say yours is a pretty uncharitable reading of the guy's article. His decision to carry a firearm sounded perfectly rational, if illegal. And as he noted, with unforeseen ramifications, that fortunately didn't end in violence. But he was never a bad guy, and wouldn't be even if he'd been forced to shoot someone in self defense.

Charitably, he was young and stupid but then he hasn't figured out much since:
I discovered that in many ways life with a gun was more stressful than without. I quit reading on the subway, instead paying rapt attention to the other people in the car, looking to see who got on and off the train, and re-evaluating the threat level after every stop.
threat level, is he still the hero of his own military action movie? also, like this really had to do with having a gun and not A) recklessly engaging in a felony by carrying an illegal concealed firearm on the subway B) being afraid of living in NYC
If the government was powerless to stop this onslaught, then the gun in my pocket was a declaration that the city had broken the social contract..
Nope. He broke the social contract and the law by bringing the potential for lethal violence everywhere he went. does he still think NYC made him get a gun?
“Fuck you,” he yelled. He straightened up and looked at me, then moved around to stand directly in front of my seat, his face hard, his eyes glaring down. He was muscular, and a little under six feet tall. At first I thought he was going to throw a punch.
this is how 8/10 people get killed by a .22 in cities in the US. weak assholes drawing guns because of stupid beef. yet, older and wiser, he still doesn't get that he was almost a murdered because some young well-dressed black kid said "fuck you" on the subway.

and then he doesn't even have the decency to through it in the bay. but dumps it in a garbage can. smooth move.
Fear of crime was my reason for buying it
Nope. Fear of living in NYC with a lot of brown people who don't know their place is why he bought that gun.

"bad guys do not care about being licenced or obtaining a gun by legal means. They will arm themselves no matter what laws are in place VS Good Guy who will buy and legally train to be proficient in his weapon."

As this article illustrates...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


No. Ignoring the law does not make one a bad guy.

I see you have not answered the question about when he threw the gun in the garbage. What do you think of that particular action on his part?

Yes. They guy lived in a violent place with few options for security.

Was obtaining a gun lawfully and getting a permit not an option? The article seems to suggest that it was an option and that he simply decided to ignore it and become a criminal instead.
posted by The World Famous at 6:27 PM on February 7, 2013


They guy lived in a violent place with few options for security.

The only people that define Brooklyn as a violent place, especially in comparison to large parts of the world or even areas of the country with looser gun control, are those have no particular concept of violence.

I wonder if there's something about Brooklyn that makes it different from large parts of America in a way to make a majority of people uncomfortable?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


"The only way to stop a bad guy on a killing spree is a good guy on a killing spree."
posted by koeselitz at 6:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's something about Brooklyn that makes it different from large parts of America in a way to make a majority of people uncomfortable?

In fairness, we're talking about Brooklyn in 1982. Not that it was Somalia or Afghanistan or Honduras or something or that carrying an illegal gun was a good idea or even remotely justified, but let's not forget that we're talking about a different Brooklyn than the one that currently exists.
posted by The World Famous at 6:32 PM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Personally, I think his fear was irrational. Millions of people live here, even in Fort Greene, even white guys, without guns and survive.

Of course every other person he knew was probably like "how do you live there, you are going to get killed" but the fact that he assumes any black man with expensive clothes is a drug dealer is kinda telling.

Of course he would tell me I just don't understand what is is like there out on the streets, shit is a warzone, but I grew up in Brooklyn, he didn't.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:33 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]



I see you have not answered the question about when he threw the gun in the garbage. What do you think of that particular action on his part?


Not a good idea. Not sure of the actual legality at the time.

Was obtaining a gun lawfully and getting a permit not an option?

Possibly not. NYC, after all.

As mentioned, this was 1982.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:33 PM on February 7, 2013


Contempt for Condition White unifies the gun-carrying community almost as much as does fealty to the Second Amendment. "When you're in Condition White you're a sheep," one of my Boulder instructors told us. "You're a victim." The American Tactical Shooting Association says the only time to be in Condition White is "when in your own home, with the doors locked, the alarm system on, and your dog at your feet ... the instant you leave your home, you escalate one level, to Condition Yellow." A citizen in Condition White is as useless as an unarmed citizen, not only a political cipher but a moral dud. ... Having carried a gun full-time for several months now, I can attest that there's no way to lapse into Condition White when armed. ... Condition White may make us sheep, but it's also where art happens. It's where we daydream, reminisce, and hear music in our heads.
Happiness Is A Worn Gun
posted by migurski at 6:33 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


90% of CCW/CCL training is what NOT to do. The training is how NOT to pull a gun. How to AVOID being in any situation where you might have to use a weapon. 90% training again...is how to AVOID AT ALL COST pulling a gun..because when you do..your life will forever be changed...whether or not (heaven forbid you should fire) you shoot someone.
Again..and I cannot make this point clear enough. CCL training is about how to AVOID!!!

I don't carry to be a cowboy or to give myself any sense of being tough. It is a last ditch option. I will run or whatever if my life is in danger...thats what training is. The VERY LAST OPTION...the VERY last...is pulling my weapon.

Anyone who has a ccw/ ccl will tell you the same.


Quoted for truth.

About 16 years ago I was licensed to carry in my home state, though I never owned nor carried a firearm. We were required to take a training course in order to get the license, and for my instructor (NRA certified, by the way) it was almost entirely what not to do. We were also trained in how not to be a victim, not quite hypervigilance but definitely remaining aware of one's surroundings, and walking with head held high and with purpose.

If you're carrying a firearm, and a "bad guy" points a weapon at you and says "Gimme your wallet," what do you do? The correct answer is, get out your wallet and give it to him. Because if you pull out your gun and start blazing away, any number of things can happen, including you missing him and him hitting you, and there's nothing in the wallet that is worth your life.

Regardless of how much time you have training at a shooting range, there's nothing there that is threatening your life. At the range, you're shooting calmly at a paper target, with theoretically no adrenaline causing your hands to shake and screw up your aim, and probably forget to squeeze, not jerk, the trigger, and probably every other thing you've been taught. There's no one else in front of, next to, or behind the target that you could accidentally hit. It's entirely different if you were in a real life violent situation.

Someone else writes:

It's a security blanket. A security blanket that kills, and fucks up lives. As far as I'm concerned, everyone that carries a gun is part of the problem, not just the "bad guys".

My instructor had a term for a firearm that its owner believes is a magic talisman that will automatically protect them from the "bad guys" by virtue of them owning (and/or carrying) it: "Fluffy the pet gun."

Another person writes:

Then why is it called CCL training, and why do the people who take the course own guns?

CCL = concealed carry license. It's a license to carry a gun concealed.
posted by no relation at 6:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


"The only way to stop a bad guy on a killing spree is a good guy on a killing spree."

To be fair to the Onion, they were only off by one word from the real thing.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:34 PM on February 7, 2013


Also, keep in mind that the author was living in a dangerous part of New York because he wanted to live cheaply while pursuing an arts-related job he desired but could not make much money doing. He had family and friends in a distant, safer portion of the country.

Multiple other people broke multiple laws in order to help him break the law, by his own admission. They broke laws in ways that allow "bad guys" to obtain weapons on a regular basis, as well. The author explains this very clearly, and there is no way to misunderstand that. He did not simply "take steps to defend himself" -- he deliberately and knowingly contributed to the proliferation of armed violence in the City of New York during one of its very dark periods. He did so because he felt, by his own admission, that the laws against what he did were "highly abstract."

He details the changes in his own attitude and behavior towards others that occurred once he was armed. He recounts stories of nearly killing innocent people because he mistook them for threats. He says, very clearly, that once he got over the bout of fear that motivated him to break the law, he "disposed" of it with no regard for its final fate, making it very likely that would find its way into the hands of the "bad guys" that he used to justify his crimes.

The author was a criminal, and very nearly a violent criminal. These are not up for debate; they are facts. The only subject that is up for discussion is how many people will insist that this man becoming a violent criminal would have been good and noble and justifiable.
posted by verb at 6:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


posted by migurski at 6:33 PM on February 7

My instructor subscribed to the color codes concept as well. More detail in regards to them is here. Shortly after I got married, my wife took a women's self defense class, the one where they finish by beating the crap out of an instructor who is wearing padded armor. She received almost exactly the same color code training and "how not to be a victim" training that I did.
posted by no relation at 6:40 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"ggod/ bad guy....the point being:

bad guys do not care about being licenced or obtaining a gun by legal means. They will arm themselves no matter what laws are in place VS Good Guy who will buy and legally train to be proficient in his weapon.
"

Oh my Christ, the sooner we dispense with this idiotic cliche, the better. It makes everyone who parrots it — no matter how well meaning — look like a total moron, exactly whom shouldn't tote guns.

Gun control will never stop all gun crimes, however, it does affect the availability and prevalence of guns. But trotting out the whole good guys/bad guys/only criminals bullshit is like saying that if we outlaw drinking and driving, only outlaws wil drink and drive. Yeah, sure, but there'll be a fuckton less of them.

(Part of the problem with civilized discourse is that, honestly, an idiot gun control proponent is no risk to anyone around them. An idiot gun owner is a lethal threat to everyone around them.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's also interesting, is it not, that he got this gun because he was scared of being attacked. And he had it for eight years. And in all that time he was never attacked, never had to use the gun, never even had to show it. Eight years. No attacks. That's pretty good going. I haven't been attacked for quite a number of years now, but in the first part of my life attacks were pretty common. And yet it never occurred to me that I needed to deal with the risk of mundane violence by enabling myself to shoot someone dead if they attacked me.

I wish people who think that going around permanently tooled-up is a healthy response to the small risk of serious violence would... I dunno... grow a spine and a sense of proportion, maybe?
posted by Decani at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


The author was a criminal, and very nearly a violent criminal. These are not up for debate; they are facts. The only subject that is up for discussion is how many people will insist that this man becoming a violent criminal would have been good and noble and justifiable.

People are insisting that this man becoming a violent criminal would have been good and noble and justifiable?
posted by 2N2222 at 6:43 PM on February 7, 2013


CCL = concealed carry license. It's a license to carry a gun concealed.

Yes, I know what it stands for. And I guess it does make sense to train people who carry guns for no good reason so that they will be extra careful not to ever be in a situation where they might be tempted to think a gun might be a good idea, since the fact that they have a gun dramatically increases the risk that they'll be killed in such situations. I just think it might be a good idea for everyone to learn that sort of thing, regardless of whether they think they ought to carry a gun they should never use.
posted by The World Famous at 6:43 PM on February 7, 2013


I've only felt truly threatened twice that I recall.

1. I was alone at a red light at night in a bad neighborhood of my city. About a dozen young men started to surround my car. I ran the red and got away.

2. I and my wife were driving home late at night in the country between two towns. A car was parked in an odd location on the road, and after we went around it, it started to follow us. We drove extremely quickly home and after awhile it faded off.

In the first situation, showing a gun would have been quite stupid. In the second, I desperately wished I had one.
posted by michaelh at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Happiness is a Worn Gun: (Eighty-seven Americans were murdered during burglaries in 2008; statistically, you had a better chance of being killed by bees.)

And to think, I've been on Condition White vs bees for nearly my entire life!
posted by Existential Dread at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't know about bees, but I do know that guns don't work very well against ants.

Flamethrowers do better.
posted by michaelh at 6:47 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


discussing the finer points of grilling beef with vegans.
posted by shockingbluamp at 6:48 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


"The author was a criminal, and very nearly a violent criminal. These are not up for debate; they are facts. The only subject that is up for discussion is how many people will insist that this man becoming a violent criminal would have been good and noble and justifiable."

That's a really odd characterization of this conversation. I'd see the article as showing how violating firearms laws is often entirely justifiable, even to otherwise decent people, and how that individualism ends up being a public health risk — I'd also see it as a better case for more control of guns. This guy was able to get one pretty easily, enabled by a lot of folks who saw his basic decency, but even with that, he nearly made a lethal mistake more than once, and the ownership was something that he found corrosive. I disagree with some of the extreme bagging on this guy — I think he shows how complex this issue is, and how hard it is to separate people's individual feelings from the public health threat that firearms represent.

I was talking with my boss the other day, a dude about my age who lived in Oakland as a skinny gay punk through most of the last 20 years. He owned a gun for a long time, and got it after having the shit kicked out of him. He never used it — he showed it a couple of times to stave off muggings — and ultimately got rid of it because it wasn't worth keeping around. He's a good guy, and his fear was real, but the solution isn't to make one individual more dangerous, but rather to make society safer — something we can and have done, and should continue to do.
posted by klangklangston at 6:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


I have been violently attacked by stinging insects way more often than by criminals. I really ought to carry some protection.
posted by humanfont at 6:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you don't have evidence to back up your assertions, just admit it and/or let it go. No need to be immature.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


HEY Y'ALL

Sorry for shouting. Andre Dubus' "Giving Up The Gun" is a much better essay on this subject, written by a man who knew his guns far more intimately than this guy, who prefers to posture.

Dubus was an ex-Marine, owned fir most of his life, pulled his weapon more than once to defend himself and others, and, I believe, had a sister who shot her rapist. The essay can be found pay walled at The New Yorker or in his book Meditations from a Movable Chair. Whatever your current position on guns I think it's worth reading.

This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast Everyone Should Read Andre Dubus System. You may now return to your regularly scheduled argument.
posted by Diablevert at 6:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


discussing the finer points of grilling beef with vegans.

The ethical concerns of eating meat with a butcher.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:54 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Living in a failed state obviously sucks. Good luck you people.
posted by pompomtom at 6:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The VERY LAST OPTION...the VERY last...is pulling my weapon.

Anyone who has a ccw/ ccl will tell you the same.


quoted for fairytales. Like the only people who get ccls are good guys? I wish the real world was that simple.

homicides by ccl holders in florida (random quick google results for 'homicide ccl'
Mustelier was unarmed and punched Baker in the face. Baker responded by shooting Mustelier four times, including twice in the back, killing him.

Dooley began to walk towards James, ...the two men then struggled on the ground before Dooley fatally shot James.

James Menard, 23,....confronted a group of teens before firing five shots from his handgun in their direction

As Antoine exited the club, he blew a kiss to the men before shooting each of them multiple times.

James Wonder, 65, shot and killed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Special Agent Donald Pettit after a road rage incident .... both men exited their vehicles. Wonder then shot Pettit, who was unarmed, in the back of the head

posted by jacalata at 6:56 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


The only subject that is up for discussion is how many people will insist that this man becoming a violent criminal would have been good and noble and justifiable.

So far, none.
posted by gjc at 6:57 PM on February 7, 2013


quoted for fairytales. Like the only people who get ccls are good guys? I wish the real world was that simple.

Laws vary by state. I had to give fingerprints, my drivers license number and SSN, and five years of job and residence data, and the sheriff's department took those and presumably ran them to make sure I didn't have a criminal or psychiatric record.

Granted, past results are not a guarantee of future performance, and all that. There's a first time for everything. But if I had to bet, I'd bet on the one who had the background checks over one who didn't.
posted by no relation at 7:00 PM on February 7, 2013


In the first place, if you correct for suicide

And why would we do that?


Because two things:

1- Suicidal people want to kill themselves and will use whatever tool is available to them. If a gun isn't available, they will find something else.

2- The suicide rate in the US is comparable or lower than many of the countries with lots of gun restrictions.
posted by gjc at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2013


Except that the number one way to prevent suicides is to disrupt access to the mode of suicide, i.e. take the gun or pills away from them. Gun access makes suicide easier; discounting it isn't necessarily justified.
posted by klangklangston at 7:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


And are the suicide rates by gun violence significantly different? After all, it's a lot easier to resuscitate someone who's overdosed or cut themselves than someone who's put a bullet throught their brain. A lot more time to intervene, too.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If a gun isn't available, they will find something else.

And they will be substantially less likely to succeed.
posted by figurant at 7:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and one last thing that should be said: I happen to like the United States, and while I have some mixed feelings about law enforcement from time to time, I think it's pretty obvious what should be done when we have a problem with "bad guys" who "do not care" about the law. We arrest them. We punish them for their crimes. We do it lawfully and under the aegis of good government, giving them a hearing before society and a fair trial with all due process. We do not go out as private citizens and buy a gun and try to do the job ourselves.

Correct, but "trying to do the job ourselves" isn't what licensed carry is about.

Whether you agree with the notion or not, whether you believe it's possible or not, it's about trying to protect one's own life and the lives of one's loved ones, nothing else.
posted by no relation at 7:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


(And just to clarify my earlier comment: I meant "justifiable" in terms of people justifying their actions to themselves.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


shockingbluamp: "discussing the finer points of grilling beef with vegans."

Well, you may dismiss my perspective completely if you wish since I have never owned a gun; I don't think that's really fair, but it's your prerogative. But I'll say this - I have been thinking a lot about guns, and specifically handguns, a lot lately. Last week I participated in a discussion group on DC v Heller, the Supreme Court which established for the first time (!) that the second amendment enumerates an individual right having nothing to do with militias, and that it means specifically that people have a right to have a handgun in their home for protection.

What needs to be understood is how significant this subject is. Everyone talks about background checks and assault-weapons bans. Those are great, but they don't mean much to police in urban areas fighting crime. We fixate on mass murders, but most crime isn't committed with assault weapons; it's committed with handguns, handguns that are brought into cities from states with more relaxed gun control laws. DC put in place a handgun ban to try to deal with their epidemic, because, while it might not prevent criminals from buying weapons in Pennsylvania and other more gun-liberal states, at least it would allow law enforcement to routinely confiscate handguns and get them off the streets faster.

DC v Heller struck down DC's handgun ban. In speaking for the majority, Antonin Scalia said in part that the court was doing so specifically because Americans prefer handguns as tools for defending themselves, and that therefore their right to keep and bear handguns was inviolable. While I find this reasoning a bit shoddy - if Americans preferred libel, would it be a case where free speech is inviolable? - but it is at least very interesting, I think.

In any case, it's a difficult problem. We live in a sort of a standoff where actual functional gun control is practically impossible. People talked about the Fast & Furious scandal, for example, without understanding what the real point of the scandal was: that the ATF is rendered so ineffectual by uncooperative district attorneys and restrictions and regulations designed to keep guns in the hands of citizens that they couldn't even act when, for instance, a homeless person in Arizona walked into a gun shop and spend tens of thousands of dollars on weapons, clearly at the behest of cartels. Law enforcement agencies in individual cities - Philadelphia, New York, DC - do their best, but they know that guns will come from other less-restrictive cities, and that there is really no way for them to wholly control the flow of guns onto the streets.

The only thing that might be able to help is a strong federal regulation on who can and can't purchase a handgun. But that would be extraordinarily unpopular. Everybody's fine, generally, with saying that people aren't allowed to own AK-47s or whatever. What even liberals are hesitant about is cracking down on those little, concealable handguns - the guns which happen to be at the heart of the very most trouble in our society, and the most crime.
posted by koeselitz at 7:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


ennui.bz: "Fear of living in NYC with a lot of brown people who don't know their place is why he bought that gun."

"In the short time I’d lived there, a female friend of mine had been raped in the lobby of her apartment building"

"a half-dozen other friends and acquaintances had been mugged or assaulted"

"one of my Pratt professors was beaten so badly that he needed hospitalization"

"I was robbed at gunpoint once, and beaten up by a gang of strangers on another occasion"

"My apartment was burglarized early one Saturday morning, the intruder taking my wallet from my bedside table as I lay asleep"

Perhaps this is not the crypto-racist you are looking for. I agree with your assertion that he broke the social contract, but your motive-assignation is unfair.
posted by boo_radley at 7:10 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


no relation: "Whether you agree with the notion or not, whether you believe it's possible or not, it's about trying to protect one's own life and the lives of one's loved ones, nothing else."

I understand the notion, and I appreciate that gun owners are generally sincere in wanting to protect themselves and their families. I am not sure it's possible, personally, but I'll leave that aside for the moment.

I will say this, however: if people are frightened enough or concerned enough about their well-being and the well-being of their families that they feel it's necessary for them to have a gun, then the issue is not gun ownership, and gun ownership is not a solution to the problem. In that case, the issue is a failure of law enforcement. And in an era when law enforcement has succeeded more than ever before, at least at increasing the safety an average citizen enjoys, I think it's safe to say that improving law enforcement is easier and more efficient than putting more guns in more hands.
posted by koeselitz at 7:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, and also, no relation: when I talked about how we shouldn't go out and buy guns and try to "do the job ourselves," I was specifically responding to the notion that bad guys will always have guns, so good guys should have them, too.
posted by koeselitz at 7:21 PM on February 7, 2013



Look, I understand it's par for the course for everyone to kind of just use the article to display their own opinion in gun control debates but I think a lot of people who are calling the author a bad person or a "bad guy" or a criminal miss something key. The author agrees with you. The whole point of the article is that the gun transformed into a paranoid, nervous wreck, looking for a reason to shoot the gun at someone.

He was seconds from killing some black kid on the subway and feeling misunderstood for the rest of his life: "I'm not a racist killer. If only the politicians could get their act together and take care of the 'crime' problem."

Right. Yes. To me the whole article builds up to (and agrees with) what your comment says. While the author doesn't say "I realized in retrospect I was thinking, if not acting, in a racist fashion" that scene is still the crux of the article/argument in my mind, an argument that agrees with you.

"I was a scared, skinny, kid in NYC," the author implies "I had biases that were forms of racism."

Everyone, unfortunately, has biases. Even people who aren't racist may have racist thoughts on occasion. It sucks that we live in a society that is structured in a way that media, economics, law, and politics place biases onto people who, when asked to answer objectively, would tell you that such biases are wrong.

What this article stresses, in my reading of it, is that guns are the opposite of recognizing and working on your own biases and presumptions. Guns allow such biases and presumptions to be acted on in a lethal and permanent fashion.
posted by sendai sleep master at 7:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


The geography of U.S. gun violence
posted by michswiss at 7:29 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Koeselitz' point about the difference between little handguns and 'AK-47's" is ok. But my concern is not the risk I am at from little handguns. They are used predominantly in crimes such as homicides against a single known person or a crime such as a robbery where the victim resists. All very bad indeed. But I do not see that as much of a risk to me or my family.
But an unstable person with an imitation assault rifle that fires some seriously flesh destroying ammo at a sustained rate from a high capacity magazine? That's a problem. These folk tend to fire at large gatherings of people indiscriminately. This is a much greater risk to me and my family.
posted by notreally at 7:35 PM on February 7, 2013


Look, I understand it's par for the course for everyone to kind of just use the article to display their own opinion in gun control debates but I think a lot of people who are calling the author a bad person or a "bad guy" or a criminal miss something key. The author agrees with you. The whole point of the article is that the gun transformed into a paranoid, nervous wreck, looking for a reason to shoot the gun at someone.

It didn't turn him into an idiot who throws a gun in the garbage rather than disposing of it in a safer way. And he does not appear to realize, even now, how horrible a mistake that was.
posted by The World Famous at 7:35 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"They are used predominantly in crimes such as homicides against a single known person or a crime such as a robbery where the victim resists. All very bad indeed. But I do not see that as much of a risk to me or my family.
But an unstable person with an imitation assault rifle that fires some seriously flesh destroying ammo at a sustained rate from a high capacity magazine? That's a problem. These folk tend to fire at large gatherings of people indiscriminately. This is a much greater risk to me and my family.
"

Eek. That's a big of the Just World and a bit of the Misleading Vividness fallacies.

The main thing for me is that these are preventable deaths that have a broad, negative effect on public health, but in general, if we really have to choose, there are other much bigger threats to public health.
posted by klangklangston at 7:41 PM on February 7, 2013


I'd see the article as showing how violating firearms laws is often entirely justifiable, even to otherwise decent people, and how that individualism ends up being a public health risk — I'd also see it as a better case for more control of guns. This guy was able to get one pretty easily, enabled by a lot of folks who saw his basic decency, but even with that, he nearly made a lethal mistake more than once, and the ownership was something that he found corrosive. I disagree with some of the extreme bagging on this guy — I think he shows how complex this issue is, and how hard it is to separate people's individual feelings from the public health threat that firearms represent.

I don't think I was bagging on him in any sort of extreme fashion. I was just pointing out, unambiguously, that he knowingly committed crimes -- felonies, if I understand correctly -- and almost ended up killing innocent bystanders.

So far, the people who've defended him haven't been talking about the aspect you discuss -- that his actions had a detrimental rather than a positive effect on public safety. They've just claimed without much clarification that he was justified in committing felonies because he was a good guy.

I see a lot of people who aren't willing to own up to what they're actually defending; instead they paper it over with Good Guys and Bad Guys rhetoric.
posted by verb at 7:47 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


1- Suicidal people want to kill themselves and will use whatever tool is available to them. If a gun isn't available, they will find something else.

Well, let's see if any studies confirm this.

Nope. Studies consistently confirm that if a suicidal person does not have a gun, they are much less likely to successfully kill themselves:

Those who died by suicide were twice as likely to have a gun at home than either of the other two groups.

...

Guns are more lethal than other suicide means. They’re quick. And they’re irreversible.

About 85% of attempts with a firearm are fatal: that’s a much higher case fatality rate than for nearly every other method.

Attempters who take pills or inhale car exhaust or use razors have some time to reconsider mid-attempt and summon help or be rescued. The method itself often fails, even in the absence of a rescue. Even many of those who use hanging can stop mid-attempt as about half of hanging suicides are partial-suspension (meaning the person can release the pressure if they change their mind) (Bennewith 2005).With a firearm, once the trigger is pulled, there’s no turning back.

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:52 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


The bad guys will ALWAYS have guns.

...

Are you asserting the gun is somehow good or bad? or maybe their aren't bad guys and good guys?
It honestly surprises me that a notion like "the good guys vs the bad guys" is able to make its way into a discussion like this about gun control. Mefi in particular is rife, absolutely RIFE with stories about what life is like in someone else's shoes. It's usually a lot more complicated and muddy and interesting than expected.

Asserting that maybe there aren't bad guys and good guys? Yeah, I'd say that is one of the truest blanket statements one can make about human behavior. As a species we've literally spent millions of years killing each other over good guys and bad guys and have reached absolutely no lasting consensus in the slightest about who the good guys and bad guys are. Because those concepts are the fastest-and-loosest of all fast-and-loose ways of thinking about people. And they don't work too well.
Sorry, TFA is written by a bad guy.

...

But he was never a bad guy, and wouldn't be even if he'd been forced to shoot someone in self defense.
And if he's a "good guy" or a "bad guy," then... what? His story is valid or invalid? His words are hard-earned pearls of wisdom or vacuous self-serving crap?

The value of the article, as I see it, has nothing to do with whether this guy presents a compelling case for being a "good guy" or a "bad guy" or whatever. It's a story about feeling disempowered and scared and finding a way to fight those feelings, but ultimately at another cost that was never obvious but perhaps just as damaging.

Guess what: poor kids shooting each other over drug sales also feel disempowered and scared and have found a way to fight those feelings. Guys on the train who stare you down and make like they want to start something over dust on their pants also feel disempowered and scared, and have also found a way to fight that.

Seriously, any "bad guy" turns out to be complicated when you actually learn about their life. Those mythical "guys who truly do not care about the law or the wellbeing of others"? Those people are called sociopaths and they are not anywhere near as common as our culture would like us to think and they are widely-recognized to have a pathological mental disorder.

Fucking "bad guys." Christ.
posted by DLWM at 7:54 PM on February 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


>> The only subject that is up for discussion is how many people will insist that this man becoming a violent criminal would have been good and noble and justifiable.

So far, none.


Perhaps "noble" is going a bit far, but 2N2222 said quite clearly: "he was never a bad guy, and wouldn't be even if he'd been forced to shoot someone in self defense."

The author of the article was a criminal who almost killed someone else with an illegally obtained concealed weapon. If he had shot someone -- even in self defense -- he would have been a violent criminal, by definition. 2N2222 has said that the author, in that scenario, would still have been a good guy and would have been justified in his choices. I don't really see what's unambiguous about that; perhaps 2N2222 would like to clarify his earlier statements? I may have misunderstood him.

The author of the piece seems cognizant of the fact that the gun didn't make him particularly safe or invincible in any real way. What fascinates me is the people who refuse to acknowledge that the author was part of the problem just as much as he was a victim of it.
posted by verb at 7:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]



"I was a scared, skinny, kid in NYC," the author implies "I had biases that were forms of racism."


When I mentioned his irrational fear, this is part of what I was talking about. If he thought black men with 8-ball jackets were drug dealers then he must have been going around thinking he was fucking surrounded by drug dealers. That was a pretty big fad. It is a drug reference but so were those snowman shirts. Wearing a pot leaf doesn't make you a weed dealer.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


“Did I make an illegal turn back there, officer?” I said. “I didn’t see any ‘No Turn’ signs.”

The cop examined my insurance card silently.

“Naw,” he finally said, not looking up. “That old lady back there was talking my ear off, and I had to find some way to get away from her.”


See this is where ordering a drone strike would be ethical.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:11 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


And all those gun control laws he violated in New York didn't stop it from having a very high murder rate.

People illegally carrying around guns also didn't stop it from having a very high murder rate.
posted by ctmf at 8:15 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Good point decani. For people like the author of this article, guns are a prop in a fantasy. On confronting someone who was rude to him on the subway: "I looked straight back into his eyes and made my face harden." Why stop at imagining himself to be Clint Eastwood when he could have been LARPing Jet Li? He might as well have carried a rope dart as a pistol for all he knew about weapons. It would have been no less absurd and somewhat less alarming to the people around him.

I had this exact thought this weekend, after seeing Django Unchained. The movie really excited me, and for the next few days I wore my cowboy boots and my cowboy shirts and my cowboy hats and played Red Dead Redemption. I had the thought that if I was still in the States maybe I'd actually buy a revolver or a pistol just as a fashion thing, to go with the look. I instantly stopped it, because it was a stupid thought. But I can see people doing that. Guns are just so utterly cool, and part of the reason I support laws against them is because they're so cool.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:22 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Great article. I want to start calling this the Fantasy of Being Armed. Armed, I can accurately identify 'bad guys.' Armed, I can respond to threats coolly and rationally, without resorting to fear or other emotions. Armed, I Am Safe.

Witchcraft.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The entire justification used by the author for illegally possessing the gun was based on the idea that law enforcement and social order were so absent that he had to carry a gun. Yet from the time he carries the gun until he puts it aside; nothing happens to suggest the gun made him any safer. Apparently NYC was not as dangerous as his initial experiences lead him to beleive. The social compact was not broken. The gun didn't make him safer.
posted by humanfont at 8:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


My parents lived in New York around the same time they did, and they're not the physically strongest or bravest people. Neither carried a gun, and neither was attacked. On the other hand, I don't really understand that - I sorta see guns and other self-defense technologies as evening the odds between the physically strong and physically weak. Its clear they do more harm than good, though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:34 PM on February 7, 2013


Criminals care about the law. Without it, the police would simply take them out back and shoot them, or send them to a concentration camp.

And who can you protect yourself against with a CCL? A real killer like carbon monoxide, or pancreatic cancer?

Homicides mainly come in a few flavours:
1) Domestic. You might protect your son against his abusive ex-girlfriend, but if he's living with her, it's unlikely you'll be able to intervene at the right time.
2) Argument escalation. Are you Lucky Luke?
3) Payback. If your enemy is competent and/or powerful, they'll get you anyway. If you are subject to a threat from organized crime, you'll need better security than that provided by a Glock.
4) Armed robbery: see argument escalation.
5) Predatory killings: If you're there with your family, the predator very likely won't attack. Get your kids CCLs?

As for spree killings, if it's a school shooting you'll be at work. Other large crowds are real problematic, since unless you're Lucky Luke, your bullets are likely to hit other mall patrons/county fair attendants.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Has anyone seen Dear Wendy, a film written by Lars Von Trier? It pictures gun violence as a literal cult entered into by young boys, complete with its own rituals, costumes and codes.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:37 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Lucky Luke)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:44 PM on February 7, 2013


The entire justification used by the author for illegally possessing the gun was based on the idea that law enforcement and social order were so absent that he had to carry a gun. Yet from the time he carries the gun until he puts it aside; nothing happens to suggest the gun made him any safer.

Also, he seemed to live in fear that the police would spot his gun and arrest him. Interesting irony there.
posted by verb at 9:18 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The next time you meet someone with a CCL, ask them how long its been since they've had their cholesterol levels checked. In most cases, that will tell you everything you need to know about their capacity for rational risk assessment.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:18 PM on February 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


And while gun rights organizations are quick to trumpet anecdotal stories of gun owners who’ve successfully used a handgun to defend themselves or stop a crime, those numbers pale alongside the number of gun deaths. According to the FBI, between 2005 and 2009, only 975 deaths caused by civilians using firearms were justifiable homicides—killings in response to the commission of a felony.

When gun control advocates trumpet numbers like this, I can't help but feel like they're arguing in bad faith by misrepresenting the other side's concerns. Carrying a gun makes society less safe - that much is absolutely true. Pro-gun advocates like to avoid that fact, but the statistics are undeniable.

However, the data that gun control advocates themselves avoid with equal hostility is that on the individual level, carrying a gun is a proven deterrent to being attacked. In a RAND survey conducted under the auspices of the National Institute of Justice, 34% of the convicts responding "said they had been 'scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim,' and about two-thirds (69%) had at least one acquaintance who had this experience.

In other words, the choice to carry a gun is basically a decision to make yourself safer at the expense of making society less safe. This could definitely be perceived as a selfish choice (putting one's own safety above that of society) but it's certainly not irrational. Is there anybody out there who hasn't felt at some point in their life that "society" in general kind of sucks? The author of the FPP link says it best himself: "The gun in my pocket was a declaration that the city had broken the social contract."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:53 PM on February 7, 2013


notreally: "Koeselitz' point about the difference between little handguns and 'AK-47's' is ok. But my concern is not the risk I am at from little handguns. They are used predominantly in crimes such as homicides against a single known person or a crime such as a robbery where the victim resists. All very bad indeed. But I do not see that as much of a risk to me or my family.
But an unstable person with an imitation assault rifle that fires some seriously flesh destroying ammo at a sustained rate from a high capacity magazine? That's a problem. These folk tend to fire at large gatherings of people indiscriminately. This is a much greater risk to me and my family."


That just isn't true. In 2010, only 358 people in the United States were killed by any kind of rifles, assault rifles included. Almost twenty times as many people were killed by handguns. 'Unstable people' with assault weapons may be a fear that we've been taught by the media, but it's not a rational fear. You're more likely to be killed by a hammer than by an assault rifle.

I don't pretend that this has an easy solution; but we can't be fooled into thinking that mass murders are a great threat to our families simply because we hear about them a lot on the news.
posted by koeselitz at 9:53 PM on February 7, 2013


Certain types of deaths can be less tolerable to the non-robots among us, even if they aren't as common as other causes, mass slaughter of first graders is among them and the media didn't brainwash us into thinking that.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:01 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


In other words, the choice to carry a gun is basically a decision to make yourself safer at the expense of making society less safe.

No it isn't. I can't be bothered looking up studies that are probably already quoted in this thread as well as the last two, but I'm pretty sure owning a gun increases your risk of being killed or injured by a gun. The choice to carry a gun is basically a decision to ignore the actual risks of domestic violence, accident or suicide (usually because 'it won't happen to me') in favour of over-emphasising the risk of violent random attack.
posted by jacalata at 10:05 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


jacalata: ". I can't be bothered looking up studies that are probably already quoted in this thread"

You don't have to even go that far. From the essay: "I will never believe that carrying the gun made me safer in any real sense. Fear of crime was my reason for buying it, but the gun itself engendered a whole new set of fears, which proved to be even more corrosive to my psyche."
posted by boo_radley at 10:09 PM on February 7, 2013


I can't be bothered looking up studies that are probably already quoted in this thread as well as the last two

I don't mean this in a disrespectful way, but if you can't be bothered to reference actual data to back up your opinion... why are you expressing it? People who don't believe in gun control aren't going to change their minds when they hear "I believe X but can't be bothered to cite evidence." I'm not trying to criticize your opinion (to each their own) but I'm just trying to understand its importance in the context of this discussion.

"I will never believe that carrying the gun made me safer in any real sense. Fear of crime was my reason for buying it, but the gun itself engendered a whole new set of fears, which proved to be even more corrosive to my psyche."

This sounds heavily like anecdata, but I admit that it's intriguing and I'm curious about it. Are there Mefites here who have carried a gun regularly and had a similar experience (or a wildly different experience) to that of the author, in terms of the creeping paranoia he describes? Personally, I know that I used to carry a knife and it quite literally saved my life when I was attacked in NYC, and as a direct consequence I tend to feel much calmer and more secure when I have a weapon nearby. That leads me to believe that maybe the author's "fearful psychic corrosion" is just the result of him being a nervous twitchy type who doesn't handle danger well. Then again, knife violence isn't quite at the same magnitude as gun violence, so perhaps there's some crucial difference I'm failing to spot.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:27 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


People who don't believe in gun control aren't going to change their minds when they hear "I believe X but can't be bothered to cite evidence."

Well, people who don't believe in gun control have already not changed their minds when they heard 'I believe X and it is supported by these twenty studies" so really, you're right and they're probably a lost cause for logical discussion. I am slowly disengaging, just not quite there yet :)
posted by jacalata at 10:46 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been harassed by bad guy/s with gun/s. I've been robbed and even worse. Every time by a white guy. I solved all that shit though. I moved to (wait for it) Brooklyn. Oh, in 1982. It wasn't the worst neighborhood, but not the best, either (near Atlantic & Flatbush. I think it's much nicer now). But then, I moved from Flint, Michigan.
posted by Goofyy at 11:02 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


"In a RAND survey conducted under the auspices of the National Institute of Justice, 34% of the convicts responding "said they had been 'scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim,' and about two-thirds (69%) had at least one acquaintance who had this experience."

I give you three seconds to think of reasons why a population of convicts self-reporting gun deterrence might not be representative of the greater effects of gun use.

(This is why teaching social sciences is really important.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


This isn’t simply a question of whether you’re capable of taking a life and living with the ugly consequences. It’s a question of how well you understand the other implications, the hidden subtleties, inherent in the decision to carry a handgun. Can you read a situation quickly and accurately enough to gauge whether your life is truly in danger and whether drawing it is justified? Can you keep an assailant from taking your gun away and using it against you? Are you prepared to go about your everyday life unable to relax, scanning every face you see in the street or, in my case, in the subway, for any sign of danger?

I had a CCL for two years in Chicago and that paragraph pretty much summed up my daily internal dialog as I lugged my weapon around. It made me a much more docile individual. I was less apt to flip people off in traffic or enter dangerous situations in general for fear that I'd be forced to rely on my training or run up against someone who also had a gun. My partner and I were in various situations where we carried in the open or concealed. When carrying in the open, you could feel the dynamics change as you got closer to people. There was always a palpable fear in the area but I was just as scared. I wanted things to go smoothly and 99% of the time they did. They were a necessary evil for the type of clients we worked with but I hated it. In that respect, the article rings very true for me.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:48 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


In my family shooting is a hobby, hunting a multi-generational past-time, gun collecting a historical and mechanical exercise and personal defense is a positive side-effect. Curiously no one in my family, nor any one of my gun-toting, redneck friends has ever shot themselves, any family members, friends, acquaintances, nor have any committed crimes with firearms. Most have have their CCL, and learned proper gun handling before reaching their teens. Most have shot tens of thousands of rounds at paper, quail, rabbits, deer, steel, cans, bottles etc. A few friends/family have actually used firearms in self-defense, including two encounters that ended with safe, unharmed family members, but (boo fucking hoo) justifiably dead "bad guys" (well, only "bad" if you think a meth-head burglar in your bedroom at 1am, or an in-progress rapist is bad (of course, as always YMMV)).

As Hank II sang: "We can skin a buck, we can run a trot line, and a country boy can survive..."

Call me when you "civilized city folk" enact legislation stating that:
1) all vehicles require detuning with governors installed limiting unsafe acceleration and keeping speed to the posted limit, or
2) when prohibition is reinstated, or perhaps
3) when the obese are locked in weight reduction camps until they reach mandatory safe body fat ratios.

All of these restrictions might threaten personal comforts, habits, hobbies, rights, and recreation, but obviously have a cost to us all when abused. I'd bet any one of those three items cost us a heck of a lot more lives and money than any gun violence ever has, or will, but I'll let you smarty-pants cite something to refute.

Until then I'm going to drive fast, drink 44oz Cokes and pack heat as I stop by the liquor store on the way home from the gun range.
posted by HyperBlue at 12:06 AM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


In my family shooting is a hobby, hunting a multi-generational past-time, gun collecting a historical and mechanical exercise and personal defense is a positive side-effect. Curiously no one in my family, nor any one of my gun-toting, redneck friends has ever shot themselves, any family members, friends, acquaintances, nor have any committed crimes with firearm

That's nice. My family is similar. My uncle shot himself to death in the treehouse my grandfather built for him. So, anecdotes.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:19 AM on February 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


[Some comments deleted; stick to the topic and don't make it personal.]
posted by taz at 12:42 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Florida, a CCL permit also authorizes you to carry things like knives and billies/saps in concealed fashion. But, as I was interested to learn, cops throughout the state, who 20 years ago carried billies almost universally, no longer are allowed to do so, except in the form of their externally carried nightsticks, by department regulations (mostly), primarily because of the potential for arguable excessive force claims.

But this minorly mentioned point of CCL training really got me wondering: What was a concealable billie good for, in a life or death situation, that made it a desired carry weapon by law enforcement for so long, and that still allowed it for civilians, when cops at every level in our state were mostly prohibited from carrying one? I learned, outside of CCL training, what impact weapons can quickly do in trained hands, and hard as it was, I finally found some decent training in their use.

Not everybody that has a CCL just carries a gun. Or even just one gun. And while I think security by obscurity is generally a bad idea, until our Legislature authorizes open carry, and gets serious about executing those who carry illegally, promptly, I'll do what seems prudent, as a man with two artificial hips, bad knees, bad ankles, who often visibly carries a cane these days, and has no choice out in public, generally, but to stand his ground, as long as he can still stand.
posted by paulsc at 1:38 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The speed with which law-and-order moral absolutists become Authorities Unto Themselves has always fascinated me.

"I meant to say They should respect authority. But authority doesn't repress Them enough!"
posted by jaduncan at 2:04 AM on February 8, 2013


until our Legislature authorizes open carry, and gets serious about executing those who carry illegally, promptly,

...what? I'm British and don't think the right to bear arms is desirable at all...but this is lunacy.
posted by jaduncan at 2:06 AM on February 8, 2013


"...what? I'm British and don't think the right to bear arms is desirable at all...but this is lunacy."
posted by jaduncan at 5:06 AM on February 8

Perhaps, even in Britain, a man's sturdy cane, and a little knowledge, might still surely be allowed?

Because that's open carry, by some definitions, and now you're half way to what you call "lunacy."

I shan't volunteer further to take you all the way there, on your own ground. That's what the larger Internet is all about.
posted by paulsc at 2:18 AM on February 8, 2013


I am not sure why martial arts training is not promoted more as a replacement for buying a gun if one lives in a high-crime neighborhood. I am considering doing it -- one class I know about has a few folks in wheelchairs, so I (and almost anybody) could benefit by it.
posted by angrycat at 3:40 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps, even in Britain, a man's sturdy cane, and a little knowledge, might still surely be allowed?

Because that's open carry, by some definitions, and now you're half way to what you call "lunacy."


And does the UK consider that to be carrying a weapon? Or are you just wasting our time with bullshit hypotheticals because muddying waters is a hobby of yours?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:46 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


until our Legislature authorizes open carry, and gets serious about executing those who carry illegally, promptly,

Jesus fuck. Have fun living in your warzone, 'run' by a military junta.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:59 AM on February 8, 2013


"People who are against firearms often say things which presuppose that if a responsible, law-abiding person carries a gun for self-defense, she is actually less safe. But that is false, and, in fact, absurd."

Well, no, it's not. And it's borne out by epidemiological studies, which pretty clearly show that the number one factor in risk of gun death is gun ownership.

It's much like how owning a car makes one much more likely to die an automobile-related death.


Er, no.

The studies in question do no control for responsibility. A lot of irresponsible people own guns. But our question is: what should a responsible person do?

If you, for example, look at crime and gun-related death rates among CCW holders, a particularly law-abiding group, you'll see that they are far below that of the overall population.

Furthermore, of course, no one would argue that, because owning a car raises the likelihood of the owner dying in an automobile accident that one shouldn't own cars. Nor should they. Because that type of argument, so stated, is terrible. Without adding in the benefits of automobile ownership, one gets nothing like a useful picture of what's going on.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:13 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps, even in Britain, a man's sturdy cane, and a little knowledge, might still surely be allowed?

The lunacy was the use of the death penalty for concealed carry.
posted by jaduncan at 4:25 AM on February 8, 2013


I, personally, do not want anyone around me to have hidden and instantaneous power of life and death - not the violent criminal, not the author of that article, not a plainclothes cop. Because sometimes that power is exercised inadvertently, and people die. Sometimes it's exercised deliberately, and people die. Even the author recognizes that the purpose of guns is to end life. How does it make sense to allow random people to walk around with the ability to end other people's lives? And yes, as far as I'm concerned, you're still just a random person, no matter how much training you have, or how pure your motives are. Accidents happen; people have sudden irrational impulses; even highly trained cops shoot and kill without meaning to. It's long past time we grew up, stopped playing cops and robbers, and made a serious effort to remove these deadly toys from our society.


If you, for example, look at crime and gun-related death rates among CCW holders, a particularly law-abiding group, you'll see that they are far below that of the overall population.

Unless you give us a citation for that, why should we believe it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:25 AM on February 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you, for example, look at crime and gun-related death rates among CCW holders, a particularly law-abiding group, you'll see that they are far below that of the overall population.

Apart from the fact that this is your assertion, then I must assume that you support far stricter gun control, including universal registration and licensing, with revocations and enhanced penalties allowed for misuse of firearms, violation of licensing and registration terms (i.e. armed under the influence, failing to report criminal past or mental health problems, owning an unregistered firearm or while unlicensed), and committing illegal acts while armed?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:31 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a common argument, but it's flawed; the article at least articulates this directly and comprehensively. By saying that laws won't deter "bad guys," you are rejecting the social contract and the government we live with. We have laws and a government to enforce them; if we reject those laws or the government's ability to enforce them, we're living extralegally, beyond the bounds our society has agreed upon. One can make this argument about anything - bad guys don't care about laws against drugs; bad guys don't care about laws against rape; bad guys don't care about laws against private individuals owning industrial-grade dynamite and blasting caps. Fine. But if we stop caring that, in our lawful society, there are people who are supposed to enforce laws, and that those people are not random private citizens, then we've become the same as the criminals, at least in the sense that we're okay with the demise of law and order and the end of a mutually beneficial state which has served us for generations.

In other words, this argument - the argument that 'gun laws don't work because criminals don't care about laws, so we must arm ourselves to fight back' - is an anarchist argument that flies in the face of everything the United States of America was built on. And that's okay, if you wish - I have plenty of friends who are fine with that, who are anarchists who don't care about that legacy. I just think you should be aware of what you're really setting yourself up for when you reject the idea of law and order by arguing that "bad guys do not care."


This is not correct. One can think that citizens have rights to thwart crime without being an anarchist. For one thing, one can carry legally in many states. For another thing, everyone recognizes that citizens retain certain rights, e.g. with respect to self-defense. Finally, every state (with the peculitar exception of North Carolina, I believe) recognizes the right of citizen's arrest in (usually) any case in which a felony is being committed. So there are many ways in which citizens can intervene that do not involve a rejection of all state authority.

Furthermore, one ought to act outside the law in some cases without rejecting all state authority. One can speed, park illegally, smoke weed, fail to report tips on one's taxes...and many, many other things without being an anarchist.

Finally, contrary to the first claim above, the claim that the bad guys (or "bad guys," since many in this discussion seem to reject the claim that people intent on robbing, beating, raping and/or killing innocent people are actually bad guys) won't be deterred by the relevant laws doesn't entail anything and doesn't come close to entailing anything about anarchism. I think what you mean is that, if the bad guys aren't deterred, then you're an anarchist if you employ extra-legal means to protect yourself. But, again, that simply isn't true either.

I do think it's possible to have a rational discussion about this topic, but I'm not sure we're having it.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:33 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apart from the fact that this is your assertion,

Apart from the fact that you could look it up if you were interested, I'm not sure why it's interesting to assert that it is my assertion, since we both agree that I asserted it...it's asserted in blue and white just above, right up there...

then I must assume that you support far stricter gun control, including universal registration and licensing, with revocations and enhanced penalties allowed for misuse of firearms, violation of licensing and registration terms (i.e. armed under the influence, failing to report criminal past or mental health problems, owning an unregistered firearm or while unlicensed), and committing illegal acts while armed?

That would be an extremely foolish thing to assume, and, for the life of me, I cannot see what grounds you could have for assuming it.

Interesting side note: I actually do favor those things. I know many gun owners and CCW-holders, and they favor those things too. So...congrats on the assumption.

In my humble and eminently fallible opinion, the tone of this discussion leaves something to be desired...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:39 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finally, contrary to the first claim above, the claim that the bad guys (or "bad guys," since many in this discussion seem to reject the claim that people intent on robbing, beating, raping and/or killing innocent people are actually bad guys) won't be deterred by the relevant laws doesn't entail anything and doesn't come close to entailing anything about anarchism. I think what you mean is that, if the bad guys aren't deterred, then you're an anarchist if you employ extra-legal means to protect yourself.

First of all, if you can't help but paint people who disagree with the need for a constant "us vs. them" mentality regardless of whether they are being attacked as actual criminal sympathizers, then you're part of the problem when it comes to a rational discussion. And second, the issue is that the current mainstream opposition to gun laws, especially from those testifying to Congress, is that they won't completely remove crime, so why bother tightening gun laws at all? To which koeslitz quite rightly responded, then why bother having laws at all?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:40 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


First of all, if you can't help but paint people who disagree with the need for a constant "us vs. them" mentality regardless of whether they are being attacked as actual criminal sympathizers, then you're part of the problem when it comes to a rational discussion.

Meh.

I'm not sure what you mean, but I think it might be a fair-ish point.

However, the real problem was caused by people pointlessly quibbling with the phrase "bad guys." Murderers, rapists, robbers and the like are, in fact, bad guys, and are, in fact, the source of most of this problem. In a conversation already fraught with innumerable difficulties, why snarkily quibble with this locution, as is done by some above?
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:45 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


That would be an extremely foolish thing to assume, and, for the life of me, I cannot see what grounds you could have for assuming it.

Ah, so this is one of those "for thee, but not for me" things that gun owners claim but refuse to enact, then. All these claims in this thread and many like it how CCW/CCL makes for much more responsible gun owners, but if it came down to it, we're "foolish" to assume that they support expanding that level of review and responsibility.

Interesting side note: I actually do favor those things. I know many gun owners and CCW-holders, and they favor those things too.

And yet, we don't have many of those things, at least on the Federal level, despite apparently being a huge point of agreement with those who want stricter gun control.

So...congrats on the assumption.

So, I was right? Okay...

However, the real problem was caused by people pointlessly quibbling with the phrase "bad guys." Murderers, rapists, robbers and the like are, in fact, bad guys, and are, in fact, the source of most of this problem. In a conversation already fraught with innumerable difficulties, why snarkily quibble with this locution, as is done by some above?

It's not snarky, it's serious worry about the aforementioned "us vs them"/hammer-nail mentality it encourages. The NRA uses it to claim that the only solution to guns is more guns, and a lot of people buy into that.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:53 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apart from the fact that you could look it up...

As could you have done, but if you did, you didn't tell us where you found it. I did spend some time looking for it, and did not find statistics on the relative rates of gun death of permit holders and others. Now that you've run off, we'll have to file your assertion under "unsupported stuff somebody said on the Internet."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:23 AM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Perhaps, even in Britain, a man's sturdy cane, and a little knowledge, might still surely be allowed?"

'The lunacy was the use of the death penalty for concealed carry.'
posted by jaduncan at 7:25 AM on February 8

But what you wrote, to which I responded, was

"...what? I'm British and don't think the right to bear arms is desirable at all...but this is lunacy."
posted by jaduncan at 5:06 AM on February 8

Perhaps you thought my proposal of the death penalty for use of a gun in the commission of a crime was ill considered? I get that, but I'd rather bury 10,000 badly intentioned armed folk in the near future, after due process trials, than keep seeing good folk robbed, raped, car jacked, and murdered by armed felons.

"And does the UK consider that to be carrying a weapon? Or are you just wasting our time with bullshit hypotheticals because muddying waters is a hobby of yours?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:46 AM on February 8

Canes are arms, even carried openly and generally relied upon for physical support by the infirm, because sometimes they then become described as improvised weapons, in the instant their use might change to personal defense. In the shadow of the gun, as soon as an object may be retroactively defined by its purported later use, we are indeed in murky waters. And as we in Florida know, in murky waters live alligators, and crocodiles, and 15 foot pythons, water moccasins, and now and then, folk of ill will, low morals and perhaps even pages long criminal reputation.
posted by paulsc at 5:32 AM on February 8, 2013


Okay, so the answer is no, you're just water-muddying for the hell of it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:37 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


you're still just a random person, no matter how much training you have, or how pure your motives are.

This sounds a lot more ignorant than I'm sure you intended it. Do you take a city bus/train? Ride a cab? These highly trained (mostly) random individuals take your lives in their hands a varying different times thought the day/week/month. Do you have any idea what training goes into a CCL in some states? Chicago was and still is very strict. Please don't make it sound like well trained random individuals are just walking around waiting to shoot first and ask questions later. Look, I hate guns probably more than your average gun hater but unfortunately, depending on your job, they are a necessary evil. If I though for a second that not having one in my line of work was a great idea, I would have gone without it. In the field I was in however, certain individuals do not respond to a good stern talking to.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:38 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


But what you wrote, to which I responded

Sure, which is why I clarified. I should have responded more clearly.

I get that, but I'd rather bury 10,000 badly intentioned armed folk in the near future, after due process trials, than keep seeing good folk robbed, raped, car jacked, and murdered by armed felons.

OK, this is where we part company. If the murder rate is lower than 10,000/arbitrary figure, what is the gain in killing people?

a) I'm not seeing what the moral justification for precrime punishment is here, given that you're effectively punishing them at a level if they'd already committed the murders. You also appear to be saying that robbery can justify the death of the offender, which would be a huge expansion of the death penalty even if it was not related to a crime which has not actually happened.
b) It's a little simplistic to call the victims of a crime good folk whilst dehumanising the perpetrators, especially when you seem to think the law can identify the 'badly intentioned' merely by possession of an object. This is ironic in someone who advocates gun use.
c) It just means that you live under a badly intentioned, armed and extremely dangerous state. History suggests that treating the state using the death penalty that cheaply does not lead to great things.
d) On a practical level, it becomes entirely rational for people to shoot a cop rather than be found with a gun on them.
e) Time until a police officer plants a gun on someone? I'm guessing around a day.
posted by jaduncan at 6:03 AM on February 8, 2013


Buses and taxis largely do not kill someone when they operate. Outside of firing ranges, that cannot be said for guns. And please, I did not say or imply that "well trained random individuals are just walking around waiting to shoot first and ask questions later." I didn't, so you can put that straw man back in the closet. Your well-trained gun-toters are still fallible humans, and inevitably, sometimes their failures kill somebody. The only reason guns are a necessary evil for some jobs is because there are so many of the damned things loose in society. That is the problem.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:08 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's next to impossible that people who go around with a mindset that the guns they carry automatically deter violence misinterpret or even manufacture interactions as encounters. Without any actual data, we have no way to believe their assertions.

And no way to disbelieve them either. If you're not going to believe people's self-reporting, you'd better have some other metric to offer before you go getting snooty about your statistical fineness.

still doesn't have enough perspective years afterwards to see that his fear of "crime" has everything to do with his fear of black people.

Ennui, this is not only bullshit, it's absolutely central to the problem. Liberals lost the country in the 80s because we refused to acknowledge that fear of crime is not simply fear of black people. The author tells us he had a woman raped in his lobby, a professor beaten so badly he was hospitalized, and several other incidents of horrible violence happen to people near him (zombieflanders seems to have missed that he's talking about Ft. Greene in the 80s, not Ft Greene now). And you're going to tell me his fear is a racist imagining? That's exactly the kind of thinking that left law-abiding people thinking that the social contract had been broken and they needed guns for protection (a conclusion I'd really rather they not draw).

Koeslitz is quite right that we're a lot better off dealing with crime through the law, as good government. But that requires acknowledging that crime exists (rather than throwing around blah-blah about "intuition is a bad guide"), and proposing solutions (and "let's make capitalism kinder" is not a solution). Until you do that, until you treat the fears of people surrounded by crime as valid, they're going to continue to conclude that you don't really have their safety at heart, and ignore your bleating advice about how they should protect themselves from threats you don't believe in.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:21 AM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Do you have any idea what training goes into a CCL in some states? Chicago was and still is very strict.

In fact it is so strict that IT PROHIBITS CONCEALED CARRY OF WEAPONS BY PRIVATE CITIZENS. Illinois does not issue CCLs, nor does it recognize CCLs issued elsewhere. Illinois is currently the only state to make concealed carry illegal, although the ban is currently under dispute.

I don't know what you had or what you were doing, KevinSkomsvold, but calling it a CCL is at best misleading.
posted by Westringia F. at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


BREAKING: It Wouldn't Surprise You If This Headline Was About 318 People Being Shot In 12 Different Public Places
posted by Artw at 6:33 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And no way to disbelieve them either. If you're not going to believe people's self-reporting, you'd better have some other metric to offer before you go getting snooty about your statistical fineness.

We would have those other metrics, if the NRA hadn't y'know, defunded any attempt to do so in both the CDC and DOJ.

zombieflanders seems to have missed that he's talking about Ft. Greene in the 80s, not Ft Greene now

You're welcome to provide the crime statistics from that period of time.

But that requires acknowledging that crime exists (rather than throwing around blah-blah about "intuition is a bad guide"), and proposing solutions (and "let's make capitalism kinder" is not a solution).

Which would require acknowledging that no one is claiming that crime doesn't exist and that many solutions have been proposed that aren't dismissed out of hand.

Until you do that, until you treat the fears of people surrounded by crime as valid, they're going to continue to conclude that you don't really have their safety at heart, and ignore your bleating advice about how they should protect themselves from threats you don't believe in.

Unless you've got proof that the people arguing against stricter gun control and for arming more people are in areas surrounded by and in demographics effected by crime, you're just building another strawman. I don't see a majority of, say, urban black men calling for arming everybody as a deterrent to violence.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:40 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Westringia F - This was from 1995 to 1997. Back then, there were still strict requirements which have been tightened in the following years. What was required of me back then was the completion of a qualifying course (actual training with my weapon), completing of a security course (in our private industry, it was two weeks in length), a FOID card, a letter stating my need to carry a weapon on company stationary, and a company ID. We had to re-qualify at varying intervals. All of this documentation had to be carried on me at all times. I had to only produce this documentation twice; once after getting a speeding ticket (after informing the trooper I was armed) and once on the DNC floor when I worked security detail. So yeah, I was able to conceal and carry legally in Chicago. I have not carried since then nor do I own one since I hate the damn things.

I did not say or imply that "well trained random individuals are just walking around waiting to shoot first and ask questions later." I didn't, so you can put that straw man back in the closet.

You are correct. You did not say it. You did imply that no matter how much training a gun owner had, that they were just as dangerous as any other gun owner. My little straw man gets to come out and play some more. My "buses and taxis" analogy was simply to point out the idea that having someone well trained at the wheel of one of these, is probably a better alternative than having some shithead off the street hurtling haphazardly down the tracks. I agree with you wholeheartedly, there are too many loose in society. I was not trying to be part of the problem. Just trying to keep the lid on the powder keg.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:46 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zombieflanders, I'm a little gobsmacked that you aren't aware of the crime pattern in NYC from the 1960s to the present, but in case you really don't know about the huge rise in rape and murder through the 80s, here are some stats. Beyond that, your ad hominem arguments aren't super meaningful.

As for the other half:

no one is claiming that crime doesn't exist -Zombieflanders

In the short time I’d lived there, a female friend of mine had been raped in the lobby of her apartment building, and a half-dozen other friends and acquaintances had been mugged or assaulted. In a subway station, one of my Pratt professors was beaten so badly that he needed hospitalization. I was robbed at gunpoint once, and beaten up by a gang of strangers on another occasion. My apartment was burglarized early one Saturday morning, the intruder taking my wallet from my bedside table as I lay asleep. -Hal Stucker

his fear of "crime" has everything to do with his fear of black people. -Ennui.bz

So that's pretty much my point right there. Perhaps it's just ennui who has reading comprehension problems, but I don't think it is.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:20 AM on February 8, 2013


in case you really don't know about the huge rise in rape and murder through the 80s, here are some stats.

Interesting. Your link points out the following: The link in the OP is from 1982.

Beyond that, your ad hominem arguments aren't super meaningful.

Where exactly did I attack you? I certainly never claimed you had reading comprehension problems.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:34 AM on February 8, 2013


Oh no, ad hominem in your saying that who was arguing for weapons protection was in any way relevant.

As for the 1981- 1985 decline, please notice that decline put the homicide rate still way, way above where it had been in the past, and that rape and assault had no such decline. Decline is not really a meaningful piece of information for citizens, unless it leads to an actual low number. I mean, if you really want to debate whether NYC had a lot of violent crime in the 80s, you can, but I don't think you're gonna find a lot of takers (well, maybe on Metafilter).
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:43 AM on February 8, 2013


But that's my point, KevinSkomsvold: you didn't carry a concealed weapon as a private individual who had made a decision that it was personally necessary; you carried a concealed weapon as part of your professional duties. That wasn't the case for the author of the piece, nor is it what people typically have in mind when they talk about concealed carry laws. This understanding is reflected in the categories of CCL permitting policies, which concern the legality of concealed carrying by members of the general population for their personal use, not as part of their professional responsibilities. In Illinois couldn't have done so (even back then, judging by the figure), no matter how well trained you were, if it had not been for your job -- which is why I said that casting your ability to carry as a matter of training & getting a license was misleading.

I apologize if I sounded like I was questioning your veracity -- I only meant to emphasize the distinction between what you had and what people construe by "CCL." I very much appreciate the perspective you bring to this thread as someone who has carried a concealed weapon, particularly in very controlled circumstances (training, job duties) and in a state where concealed weapons are presumably less prevalent than they are in more permissive locales. Hearing your experience is a much more powerful argument, I feel, than one coming from a person who only imagines what it would be like.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:46 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh no, ad hominem in your saying that who was arguing for weapons protection was in any way relevant.

This doesn't make any sense. You're the one claiming MeFites were ignoring "the fears of people surrounded by crime as valid."

As for the 1981- 1985 decline, please notice that decline put the homicide rate still way, way above where it had been in the past

No, it put it at the level of the late 60s and well below the early-mid 70s.

Decline is not really a meaningful piece of information for citizens, unless it leads to an actual low number.

Which is an opinion, not a statement of fact.

I mean, if you really want to debate whether NYC had a lot of violent crime in the 80s, you can, but I don't think you're gonna find a lot of takers (well, maybe on Metafilter).

Look, if you just want to attack other posters or the website, maybe this thread isn't a good fit.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:54 AM on February 8, 2013


He carried a .22? This is the kind of gun that boys who live in the country (like me) get when they turn 12 or 13. Deadly on squirrels at 50 feet, not much for self defense.
Aside from its $65 price, the salesman also emphasized the RG’s capacity to accept long-rifle cartridges. These larger shells had a hollow-point slug that flattened on impact and were delivered at a higher muzzle velocity than regular .22s. These features made for greater tissue and organ damage, made the gun’s potential to incapacitate an assailant, its “stopping power,” much greater.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:24 AM on February 8, 2013


Fists O'Fury: "I do think it's possible to have a rational discussion about this topic, but I'm not sure we're having it."

Well, you may not be sure, but I'm going to do my best to try to demonstrate I'm here in good faith, because I think we can have a good discussion here.

"This is not correct. One can think that citizens have rights to thwart crime without being an anarchist."

Let me be clear on this: in my first comment in this thread, I was absolutely not arguing against gun ownership. Gun ownership is a complicated issue that I'm not entirely sure about, although I have some ideas. Nor was I even arguing against protecting oneself with a gun.

What I was arguing against was this particular strain of reasoning shockingbluamp used above that says that good citizens must be allowed to use guns simply because "bad guys" will always use guns without caring about the law. My response is, if you really assume that "bad guys" and criminals will always have guns, and will always circumvent the law to do so, you're flatly rejecting even the possibility that law and order can be maintained by the government we've enacted to control violence.

As I said, this particular argument can be applied to everything: bad guys don't care about laws against rape; bad guys don't care about laws against murder; etc. But we still try to stop them by empowering law enforcement to do so. Why does this argument ignore the possibility that law enforcement could actually succeed at their job?

"Furthermore, one ought to act outside the law in some cases without rejecting all state authority. One can speed, park illegally, smoke weed, fail to report tips on one's taxes...and many, many other things without being an anarchist."

Breaking the law doesn't make a person an anarchist. Arguing that one must break the law because the state is inherently a failed project does. (I don't think you're making that argument; shockingbluamp was.)

"Finally, contrary to the first claim above, the claim that the bad guys... won't be deterred by the relevant laws doesn't entail anything and doesn't come close to entailing anything about anarchism. I think what you mean is that, if the bad guys aren't deterred, then you're an anarchist if you employ extra-legal means to protect yourself. But, again, that simply isn't true either."

This is getting closer to my point. But shockingbluamp didn't say that, in fringe cases where the state might fail, we might need to protect ourselves extra legally. The argument was that the state will always fail, because criminals will always disregard gun control laws, and they will always succeed in breaking them. I have a problem with that idea. It doesn't make sense to me. As probably ought to be obvious, laws actually work. Gun control laws decrease the number of guns, just like murder control laws decrease the number of murders and speeding laws decrease the number of people who speed. There are certainly complicating factors, as I said in my discussion of handguns above; if a single city enacts gun control laws, they will likely see an influx of guns from more permissive places. However: the laws themselves are still working in those cases.

"... 'bad guys,' since many in this discussion seem to reject the claim that people intent on robbing, beating, raping and/or killing innocent people are actually bad guys..."

To be fair about this, I think it's more that many in this discussion have rejected the claim that a guy who buys a gun illegally, is utterly unsafe about carrying it, and repeatedly violates all safety guidelines and numerous laws during his ownership of said gun is a "good guy." In short, it's hard to say the guy in the story is the "good guy." And on the other side of it, maybe it makes this story a little biased, since the guy we're talking about s clearly not the upstanding CCL-certified life-saving citizen so many gun owners strive to be. We're still clinging to stereotypes, I think; if you're anti-gun, this is what all gun owners are like, whereas if you're a gun owner, the upstanding citizen model is the stereotype you might prefer to believe in. The truth is probably a bit more complicated, if course.
posted by koeselitz at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


"The studies in question do no control for responsibility. A lot of irresponsible people own guns. But our question is: what should a responsible person do? "

What about gun ownership rates for true Scotsmen?
posted by klangklangston at 8:58 AM on February 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Westringia F - No offense taken at all. I know mine wasn't a traditional CCL. My whole interaction in this thread was meant to speak mainly to the mental gymnastics involved in carrying one no matter how it is obtained (CCL as a private citizen or in my case, a non-traditional CCL for work). Obviously I cannot speak for an entire class of people who choose to carry weapons for personal protection. I only have an inkling of the way it changes a person when they are carrying in public. For me, it was not a sense of security but more of a burden and responsibility that, if ever called upon to use it, would put the fear of god in me.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:02 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


“I am not sure why martial arts training is not promoted more as a replacement for buying a gun if one lives in a high-crime neighborhood.”

Unless you’re highly skilled, any combative is less effective against an armed attack than an armed response. Although there are self-defense courses that incorporate streetsmart techniques and verbal judo (to borrow from Dr. Thompson’s) into their training.
Conflict resolution is (at f'ing last) gaining more traction as a teachable/learnable skill. (The Mayor in Chicago finally funded a program that works with kids on this)

Most of the pseudo-combative training is devolving into the same run of the mill McDojo arts promising you can do movie kung fu.
I saw a pretty hilarious video on youtube with a Krav Maga expert showing how - from being on his knees, hands behind his head - to disarm an attacker 10 feet behind him with a gun. Not very realistic. Even taken the possibility of successful execution as a given.
Why would you let yourself get into that position in the first place?

I’m fine, philosophically, with someone with a CCW – given they’re well trained. I’m dissatisfied with the current legal requirements.
In terms of genuine self-defense you’re better off changing the environment than attempting to engage single handed. In a high crime neighborhood that would mean organizing neighbors, perhaps creating a neighborhood watch, forming partnerships with the local police, actively encouraging engagement with them – as many high crime neighborhoods develop the “no snitching” or some variation, spoken or unspoken.
It’s silence that allows them to operate. Breaking that silence is far more disruptive than a citizen with a gun.

As stated in the piece and related here – many people become isolated by having a weapon.
They may have been trained technically, but they have not been trained psychologically.
As far as I’m concerned that is the most critical component of martial training and it’s extraordinarily rarely taught. How many black belts tell you to yell “fire” as soon as you’re fighting? How many tell you that one of the best ways to prepare beforehand is to make sure your neighbors know your routine and to make sure you know theirs? Rarely do they teach having signals – blowing a whistle, whatever – that lets people in the neighborhood know to call police and draws people out.

(I have seen instructors show people how to defend themselves from two or more attackers, against guns, against knives - all without a word about retreat or shaping the situation before the attack or using the environment (that is - how many instructors drag people out to the parking lot in their street clothes and teach them there? To be fair, the liability exposure would probably overheat their insurers.)
I have yet to see any civilian instructors show people how to defend themselves as a team or work in concert to form a retreat, how to dodge, how to take cover and defend from cover, etc. etc. - There is some attempt to train the will to fight - but this often gets mistaken for training aggression, two different things. You can be hard core, unwilling to surrender, unintimidated, and still perfectly fine with running away.)

And they don’t have to be able-bodied. All that’s required to defeat a potential crime is witnesses. That’s it. An organized criminal crew can silence three, five, maybe seven people, once you get past 10 and you get 20 or 30 people – they can be old women, disabled men, retirees, whomever – it’s too many people to try to intimidate because everyone when confronted can say “it wasn’t me” and if 30 people show up at the station willing to testify, that guy is going to jail. And that sends one hell of a message.
More than losing a raggle to a gunshot wound, or even death from someone well trained.
For most mid-level criminals, that’s the cost of doing business.

Another instructive thing is that humiliation is a more powerful emotion than the fear of death. More people are afraid of public speaking than of dying. I don’t know anyone who isn’t afraid of the kind of social exposure and disapproval of a whole neighborhood turning out and watching them. One guy – well, maybe he’s a bad ass, but it’s personal. You can threaten his friends or family, whatever. A few guys, same thing. Once it gets to a decent number of people who have no relation to each other except that they know exactly what you’re up to – it’s completely impersonal shame. And it can be devastating. Same idea behind the panopticon, pillory, and modern CCTV (although CCTV is a bit too impersonal).

Simple phrase that embodies this strategy that is very successful in a lot of forms – don’t shoot the tigers, burn the tall grass.

You hunt them, you have to move into their world. And that’s no place for an amateur no matter how skilled. You burn the tall grass, you destroy their environment, they can’t hide, so they can’t hunt.

Ironically, I’m fairly pro-gun. But it’s rooted in the same philosophy of engagement. Protection for human beings has always been in the strength of our cooperation. Sometimes that does mean law abiding citizens having firearms and using them in cooperation with the law.
But it’s never the case that a human can be more protected if they’re isolated whether they’re armed or not.
You’re always safer if you know your environment and the people in common know you.
Then the criminals stand out like a roach on a white tile floor. Bearing witness is supremely powerful in that case. It’s why I’m pro-registration as well. You can’t be a responsible gun owner without bearing witness. And you can bear witness without one.
That’s not to say sometimes there is no alternative but violence in some situations, but practically speaking, you’re better off investing the time and energy in getting to know your neighbors and creating a watch program and staying in contact with your police officers and officials than training on your off time to be tougher than a guy who's job it is to be tough all day. And who, ultimately, is expendable to the people he is connected to (via underground economy, gang, a fence, whatever).

It might not help you if you’re suddenly alone and attacked, you might need a gun and certainly being in shape and knowing how to defend yourself would help, but the point in the first place is to not feel like you’re alone and to make sure others aren’t left alone to their own devices either.
Once those cultural sea-changes take root, your neighborhood is less likely to be a high-crime - or at least a high-violent crime neighborhood and you're less likely to be attacked in general. It lessens the odds overall.
Doesn't help if it's your number that comes up. But if you do have a gun or you do have hand to hand training you're more likely to ask for, and receive some aid, whether it's someone calling the police, witnessing (or even camming) the crime, or getting involved physically.
You are, at least, not acting from a sense of isolation and desperation and so less likely to do something egregious because of that support.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:04 AM on February 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


koeselitz: "I'm going to do my best to try to demonstrate I'm here in good faith"

This is totally a tangent, but I would just love to hear three smart mefites in a moderated discussion: one host and two view proponents just diving into an issue in a more controlled and structured way.
posted by boo_radley at 9:11 AM on February 8, 2013


Re: the .22
El Al sky marshals carried the Beretta M70s or 71s in .22LR. Plenty of other guys like .22LR in CQB, tight quarters or to avoid overpenetration and spall.
It's a good multimission capable round, but it requires a lot of skill to be effective with it.

The RGs are fairly accurate. Although Hinkley couldn't kill Reagan with one from 10 feet so...
(And I think the last guy prosecuted for Brady violation was John Wilkes Booth)

On the plus side though the RG doubles as a whistle dogs can hear!
posted by Smedleyman at 9:22 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finally, every state (with the peculitar exception of North Carolina, I believe) recognizes the right of citizen's arrest in (usually) any case in which a felony is being committed.

Are you saying that The Andy Griffith Show lied to me???
posted by Rangeboy at 9:25 AM on February 8, 2013


angrycat:
I am not sure why martial arts training is not promoted more as a replacement for buying a gun if one lives in a high-crime neighborhood.

Unless you're really going to commit yourself to learning a fighting art (ie krav maga or the like, no belts, no spooky mystic bullshit), you'll just give your attacker something to laugh about before they pull the trigger. Learned my lesson with Tae Kwon Do versus the schoolyard bullies that won't attack you the right way like they do in the studio.
posted by dr_dank at 10:07 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Murderers, rapists, robbers and the like are, in fact, bad guys, and are, in fact, the source of most of this problem. In a conversation already fraught with innumerable difficulties, why snarkily quibble with this locution, as is done by some above?

If it were this simple, we'd have no need for a justice system. The main reason people dislike this usage is because you are making the assumption that your in-the-moment judgments are just as valid as professionals in court. It's vigilante justice.
posted by mdn at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't mean this in a disrespectful way, but if you can't be bothered to reference actual data to back up your opinion... why are you expressing it? People who don't believe in gun control aren't going to change their minds when they hear "I believe X but can't be bothered to cite evidence."

People who don't believe in gun control (code word: believe) will probably disregard or cherry pick data anyway.
Mother Jones: 10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

Myth #2: Guns don't kill people—people kill people.
Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. Gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements.

Myth #3: An armed society is a polite society.
In states with Stand Your Ground and other laws making it easier to shoot in self-defense, those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides.

Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer.
Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun.
For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.

Myth #6: Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer.
Fact-check: In 2011, nearly 10 times more people were shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime.
• In one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property. However, a closer look at their claims found that more than 50% involved using guns in an aggressive manner, such as escalating an argument.
A Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.

Myth #7: Guns make women safer.
Fact-check: In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.
• A woman's chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.
• One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

Myth #10: We don't need more gun laws—we just need to enforce the ones we have.
Fact-check: Weak laws and loopholes backed by the gun lobby make it easier to get guns illegally.
Around 40% of all legal gun sales involve private sellers and don't require background checks. 40% of prison inmates who used guns in their crimes got them this way.
• An investigation found 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn't pass a background check.
• 20% of licensed California gun dealers agreed to sell handguns to researchers posing as illegal "straw" buyers.
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has not had a permanent director for 6 years, due to an NRA-backed requirement that the Senate approve nominees.
However, the data that gun control advocates themselves avoid with equal hostility is that on the individual level, carrying a gun is a proven deterrent to being attacked. In a RAND survey conducted under the auspices of the National Institute of Justice, 34% of the convicts responding "said they had been 'scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim,' and about two-thirds (69%) had at least one acquaintance who had this experience.

34% of convicts for what crimes? Self-reported data should be taken with a pinch of salt e.g
In one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property. However, a closer look at their claims found that more than 50% involved using guns in an aggressive manner, such as escalating an argument.
Even taking these stats at face value, guns are used more often aggressively than for self-defense, and gun owners have higher risks of dying by a gun.
posted by ersatz at 11:04 AM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Doesn't the .22 kill more people than any other caliber, due to wide availability and cheap ammunition?

Gun accidents, yes. Gun deaths, no. At least not from the regular .22 this guy carried. Maybe if you throw in all the other, more powerful .22 rounds like the far, far more powerful .223 which was a round used by the military (which might account for some of the statistics). link for comparison, scroll down for comparison pictures
posted by Patapsco Mike at 11:15 AM on February 8, 2013


dr_dank: "krav maga or the like, no belts"

The Krav Maga system uses belts. Sambo does not, and I'm not sure if modern pankration does, either.
posted by boo_radley at 1:40 PM on February 8, 2013


> My whole interaction in this thread was meant to speak mainly to the mental gymnastics involved in carrying one no matter how it is obtained ... in my case, a non-traditional CCL for work .... For me, it was not a sense of security but more of a burden and responsibility that, if ever called upon to use it, would put the fear of god in me.

This is INCREDIBLY powerful. I have often thought that I would be more scared with a gun than without one for all the reasons articulated in the FPP, but on some level I also assumed that it was my lack of training and general distaste of firearms speaking. The fact that you, someone who was trained to carry and use a gun in a professional capacity, felt it to be more of a burden than a benefit really underscores how rosy so much of the pro-CCL rhetoric is. Thank you so much for sharing this -- I can't favorite your comments hard enough.
posted by Westringia F. at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2013


Martial arts may not be very useful against an armed opponent, but they can play a crucial rolein combating a very dangerous enemy: a sedentary lifestyle.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:01 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The studies in question do no control for responsibility.

And why should they?
posted by Drinky Die at 2:59 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's quite clear there is bullshit rhetoric, and stats cherry-picking on both sides of this issue.
posted by HyperBlue at 3:28 PM on February 8, 2013


Women who don’t usually vote in midterm elections — the same women who generally drive Democratic victories — will turn out in 2014 over the issue of guns, according to a recent poll.

The survey released by Women Donors Network, a self-described progressive “community of women philanthropists,” found that a subset of women voters who usually don’t vote in midterm elections are more likely to vote in 2014 on the issue of gun violence.

That echoes what former Rep. Steve LaTourette (OH), now a militant moderate leader in the Republican Party, said on Tuesday when he cautioned his party against sticking too close to the National Rifle Association in the post-Newtown legislative push to reduce gun violence.

posted by Drinky Die at 3:29 PM on February 8, 2013


If that survey is accurate Drinky Die, then shouldn't those of us who long for a Democrat-controlled Hill appear pro-gun - at least until current legislation is defeated? Wouldn't defeating 2013 gun control measures give the pro-gun Congress-critters enough rope to hang themselves? The women in that poll need to have a reason to get the vote out, right? Another question to ponder: Is gun control really the biggest issue for progressives, or just the one getting the most airtime right now?


"Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn't measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It's not winning battles that makes you happy, but it's how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.”
― C. JoyBell C.
posted by HyperBlue at 3:41 PM on February 8, 2013


The AWB will not pass but will remain an issue for gun control supporters. There will be another mass shooting in 2014 for them to rally around as well.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 PM on February 8, 2013


There's a mass shooting EVERY MONTH. One sufficiently grotesque to get news coverage will be along shortly though, no doubt.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on February 8, 2013


There's a mass shooting EVERY MONTH. One sufficiently grotesque to get news coverage will be along shortly though, no doubt.

Well, there's the LA thing.
posted by kafziel at 4:36 PM on February 8, 2013


Well, there's the LA thing.

You talking about the police opening fire on civilians in an attempt to administer quick street justice to what they thought was their current most wanted?

Boy their faces must be red right now putting two civilians in the hospital and making two others, in a separate incident, change their underwear.
posted by Talez at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


However, the real problem was caused by people pointlessly quibbling with the phrase "bad guys." Murderers, rapists, robbers and the like are, in fact, bad guys, and are, in fact, the source of most of this problem.

Because I think people like the guy in the article, scared guys who feel like they need to carry a gun every day for protection, are bad guys. They might get me killed. No one thinks they are the bad guy. The assumption is that we should trust the guy who carries for protection, he’s the "Good Guy". I don’t. He has poor judgement.
posted by bongo_x at 9:07 AM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Boy their faces must be red right now putting two civilians in the hospital and making two others, in a separate incident, change their underwear.

Right now they know the spotlight is on them, too. This is best behaviour.
posted by jaduncan at 9:22 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Detroit --
Robbery victims fighting back and opening fire
Posted: 02/08/2013 By: James Kiertzner
(WXYZ) - "Twice in a week, armed teenage robbers are shot by their would-be victims..."
posted by salvia at 11:36 PM on February 10, 2013


Ah, a death for a robbery, that's totally acceptable.

And I'd be interested to see how many legal gun carriers shot themselves or others accidentally, or committed crimes with them.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:02 AM on February 11, 2013


Building a culture of life, man.
posted by verb at 8:44 AM on February 11, 2013


Ah, a death for a robbery, that's totally acceptable.

From a societal perspective, yes, it totally is. The armed robbery was illegal and weakened the fabric of society, whereas shooting the robber was legal self-defense and thus strengthened society by demonstrating serious consequences for those who wish to violate our laws. After all, when a robber uses the threat of violence, how do you know robbery is all that they're after? When he has you at his mercy, he can rape you, injure you, or do whatever he wants. I think that in cases where the threat of violence is used to commit a crime, killing such people in self-defense is a perfectly valid way to strengthen the social tapestry.

You may not personally think robbery justifies death (and certainly in many cases I would agree with you) but what gives you the right to push your morality onto others? Society doesn't belong to you - it's a shared compromise that exists only for mutual gain. I don't obey laws because I like the idea of living by somebody else's restrictions - I do it primarily because those laws protect me from others, and so that is an acceptable trade-off for me to make. Once you start telling us society needs to expand its mandate from simply protecting its citizens to legislating "right" or "wrong" behavior, then by the same rationale you open the door for other people to legislate their morality onto you, and that's a double-edged sword with a wicked backswing.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:23 AM on February 11, 2013


"shooting the robber was legal self-defense"

Says who? According to that article, there are charges in process against at least one of the killers.
posted by jacalata at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2013


Shooting the robber was legal self-defense and thus strengthened society by demonstrating serious consequences for those who wish to violate our laws.

By this logic, shooting the author of the original article would've been a good thing.
posted by verb at 11:43 AM on February 11, 2013


You attempt to dictate the terms of society and then attempt to lecture me on morality? Please. By your rationale we shouldn't be legislating anything at all, because it depends on someone defining morality in the first place.

Incidentally, this is the kind of thinking that leads people to kill abortion doctors (unborn children at the mercy of murderers and must be defended!) because they feel that it's weakening their version of society. It's also a mindset that leads to stuff like Trayvon Martin.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:47 AM on February 11, 2013


"From a societal perspective, yes, it totally is."
posted by wolfdreams01

eponypredaceous!
posted by mwhybark at 12:21 PM on February 11, 2013


"From a societal perspective, yes, it totally is. The armed robbery was illegal and weakened the fabric of society, whereas shooting the robber was legal self-defense and thus strengthened society by demonstrating serious consequences for those who wish to violate our laws."

Dude, are you just trolling those of us who have read Leviathan?
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2013


You attempt to dictate the terms of society and then attempt to lecture me on morality? Please.

You're seriously misunderstanding what I'm saying. I'm not attempting to "dictate" anything to you, I'm simply pointing out that society fundamentally exists as a mutual compromise. For example, I think it would be awesome to be able to take a gun and ventilate anybody I thought was deserving of death - in fact there's one ex-president in Texas that has strongly crossed my mind in this regard. However, if I go around shooting anybody I want to, other people can similarly shoot me. And while that might be fun in the short term, it would be very unpleasant in the long term for all people concerned. Consequently, we have a mutual compromise where nobody gets to shoot anybody, and that agreement is called society. At heart, that's all society is - the agreement for people to settle their differences through means other than violence. There is zero morality involved in that agreement - it's simply a very practical and reasonable contract that almost anybody can be happy with. However, once you start adding loopholes to the contract based on your own personal ethics - whether said loopholes are "gay people may not marry" or "you may not use lethal force to protect yourself, even if your life is in danger" - each additional loophole disincentivizes people from participating in the social contract, on the grounds that it is more advantageous to you than it is to them. And remember, the social contract is not mandated - anybody can "opt out" simply by ignoring it, and if enough people do so, society collapses. I'm not "dictating the terms of society," I'm simply pointing out what society is. To me, it feels more like you're attempting to dictate terms by conflating your idea of "right" and "wrong" with our legal process.

By your rationale we shouldn't be legislating anything at all, because it depends on someone defining morality in the first place.

Not at all - as I pointed out above, morality is completely irrelevant to the social contract. I think that laws should be based purely on pragmatism, remembering that society's place isn't to determine right or wrong but simply to try to find the most effective means to stop people from preying on each other and thus maximize utility for all.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:30 PM on February 11, 2013


"At heart, that's all society is - the agreement for people to settle their differences through means other than violence. There is zero morality involved in that agreement - it's simply a very practical and reasonable contract that almost anybody can be happy with."

"I have asserted it, thus it must be!"

"However, once you start adding loopholes to the contract based on your own personal ethics - whether said loopholes are "gay people may not marry" or "you may not shoot people who threaten you" - each additional loophole disincentivizes people from participating in the social contract, on the grounds that it is more advantageous to you than it is to them."

Uh, since the thing about the Leviathan wooshed over your head, one longstanding conception of the state has been that rather than shooting people we think are threatening us, we turn to the state for an impartial (thus mutually acceptable) adjudication of conflicts. Also, it's worth noting that in the main, you may not shoot people who threaten you, and part of the reason you're getting so many weird hiccups is because you're over-simplifying your premises to the point of absurdity.

"Not at all - as I pointed out, morality is completely irrelevant to the social contract. I think that laws should be based purely on pragmatism, remembering that society's place isn't to determine right or wrong but simply to try to find the most effective means to stop people from preying on each other and thus maximize utility for all."

Both pragmatism and utility are deeply entwined with moral judgments. So you can point out all you like, but you will remain wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 12:36 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not attempting to "dictate" anything to you, I'm simply pointing out that society fundamentally exists as a mutual compromise.

Okay then, where did those compromises come from? What positions were being taken and what was their origin?

Not at all - as I pointed out above, morality is completely irrelevant to the social contract.

If that's what you think you pointed out, I think your concepts of society and morality may need a little updating.

I think that laws should be based purely on pragmatism, remembering that society's place isn't to determine right or wrong but simply to try to find the most effective means to stop people from preying on each other and thus maximize utility for all.

Okay, so then who gets to define what laws are pragmatic?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:47 PM on February 11, 2013


So wolfdreams, you are arguing that "you may not shoot anyone, unless you have reasonable cause to think you are in specific immediate danger from them".

other people are arguing for the rule "you may not shoot anyone" and you're accusing THEM of introducing loopholes to the rule?
posted by jacalata at 1:05 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay then, where did those compromises come from? What positions were being taken and what was their origin?

They weren't formal compromises, they evolved gradually as people moved out of tribal society. Obviously some societies made compromises that weren't acceptable to enough people to ensure social stability, and those societies either collapsed due to anarchy or rapidly took measures to change the compromise to something that would be more beneficial to all.

Okay, so then who gets to define what laws are pragmatic?

There's no one person or group of people - a law is pragmatic when enough people (regardless of their personal morality or beliefs) feel like it is worth following. For example, if our laws were changed so that killing somebody else was punishable by only 21 days in jail, we would have to rely on personal armament for self defense rather than the police, since 21 days in prison isn't sufficient disincentive to stop people from violating that law. Similarly, I wouldn't feel any obligation to obey the law either, since a law that fails to protect my own well-being is worthless to me. The same argument can be made of society as a whole. Obviously, this reciprocity gets more abstract as society evolves - for example, I don't directly benefit from gay marriage, but it is still beneficial to me indirectly because respecting other peoples right to seek happiness presumably means that they will respect my own. That reciprocity is what makes a law pragmatic - because it gives everybody buy-in, and thus we all have an equal stake in upholding the law. Such reciprocity leads to strong societal stability.

Tell me, where is the reciprocity in your idea that "we should not be allowed to shoot armed robbers?" Maybe I'm simply misunderstanding your point, but I don't see any way that law-abiding citizens benefit from such a proposition. The only people who benefit from this proposal are the people committing armed robberies, and since they have already opted out of the social contract and are actively preying on others, there's no practical benefit to any of the rest of us in giving their well-being any consideration.

So wolfdreams, you are arguing that "you may not shoot anyone, unless you have reasonable cause to think you are in specific immediate danger from them".

other people are arguing for the rule "you may not shoot anyone" and you're accusing THEM of introducing loopholes to the rule?


Yes, obviously. "You may not shoot anyone" is a silly law because it lacks teeth. A law without enforcement is useless. I would not feel protected by such a law (and I know several of my friends would doubtless feel the same way) and therefore I would have no reason to obey it. This leads to a domino effect where other people don't feel protected from us, and thus anarchy begins.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:30 PM on February 11, 2013


Not at all - as I pointed out above, morality is completely irrelevant to the social contract. I think that laws should be based purely on pragmatism, remembering that society's place isn't to determine right or wrong but simply to try to find the most effective means to stop people from preying on each other and thus maximize utility for all.

Using this standard, the author of the original article could've rightfully been shot and killed by someone who found him threatening. Such an act would serve to reinforce and strengthen the social contract -- one that the original author admittedly felt no need to obey because it "felt distant." By the logic you've laid out, such an act would be a positive outcome for society.

I apologize if I misunderstood your earlier intent, I didn't think you were in favor of the summary execution of citizens who are discovered to have illegally concealed weapons. But your point about the irrelevance of morality is a good one: if you're only concerned about society's rules being maintained and obeyed, then he's a lawbreaker just like a rapist or a mugger or a jaywalker.
posted by verb at 2:36 PM on February 11, 2013


"They weren't formal compromises, they evolved gradually as people moved out of tribal society. Obviously some societies made compromises that weren't acceptable to enough people to ensure social stability, and those societies either collapsed due to anarchy or rapidly took measures to change the compromise to something that would be more beneficial to all."

Ah, the Rudyard Kipling model of governmental emergence. AND THEN IT WAS JUST SO.

"There's no one person or group of people - a law is pragmatic when enough people (regardless of their personal morality or beliefs) feel like it is worth following."

The law is pragmatic when the question is begged! Glad we wrapped that up.

"Similarly, I wouldn't feel any obligation to obey the law either, since a law that fails to protect my own well-being is worthless to me. The same argument can be made of society as a whole. Obviously, this reciprocity gets more abstract as society evolves - for example, I don't directly benefit from gay marriage, but it is still beneficial to me indirectly because respecting other peoples right to seek happiness presumably means that they will respect my own. That reciprocity is what makes a law pragmatic - because it gives everybody buy-in, and thus we all have an equal stake in upholding the law. Such reciprocity leads to strong societal stability."

I would likely feel about 30 percent less AAAARRRRRRGH! if you demonstrated any congruity with the way that terms like "pragmatism" are used by the rest of the world. You're positing idiosyncratic definitions then arguing in circles based on them. Reciprocity is a fine, but limited, justification for many social features, but it is not the singular fundament that you wish it to be.

"Tell me, where is the reciprocity in your idea that "we should not be allowed to shoot armed robbers?" Maybe I'm simply misunderstanding your point, but I don't see any way that law-abiding citizens benefit from such a proposition. The only people who benefit from this proposal are the people committing armed robberies, and since they have already opted out of the social contract and are actively preying on others, there's no practical benefit to any of the rest of us in giving their well-being any consideration."

Uh, availing themselves of the broader protections of law even if in one instance it's disadvantageous. You're simultaneously proposing a price fixe view of reciprocity and an ala carte one, and it rapidly reduces to absurdity. If shooting a robber is against the law — and it is in most circumstances — then someone who shoots a robber has also opted out of the broader social contract (which I think you have no coherent conception of), which includes things like protections for private property.

"Yes, obviously. "You may not shoot anyone" is a silly law because it lacks teeth. A law without enforcement is useless. I would not feel protected by such a law (and I know several of my friends would doubtless feel the same way) and therefore I would have no reason to obey it. This leads to a domino effect where other people don't feel protected from us, and thus anarchy begins."

What with how circular this is, you must mean the Dominos effect. "You may not shoot anyone" is easy to give teeth — imprisonment, fines — and would be roughly as easy to enforce as current law, easier even, as currently self-defense is an affirmative exemption to the broader "don't shoot anyone" concept.

In general, I think you would be very well served by taking a moment to reread your comments before posting them, and thinking if any questions are begged or any unjustifiable assumptions are made or any idiosyncratic definitions are employed. The more you can cull of your bizarro certainty in the strength of arguments with weak premises, the more electrons we can all save for the inevitable heat death of the universe.
posted by klangklangston at 2:44 PM on February 11, 2013


[wolf/klang, please do not make arguing with each other into a spectator sport.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:09 PM on February 11, 2013


Klangklangston, while we may disagree on our views, I've made it a point to be very polite in this thread up till now, and I really think the amount of vitriol and sarcasm you're directing towards me is uncalled for. While I have no problem with the structure or logic of your arguments, I'm not going to engage with you any further until you stop behaving like a jerk towards me and making this argument more personal than it needs to be. This is not the first time you've been disrespectful to people whose beliefs you disagreed with, and I know others have called you out on this as well in other threads - some very recently, in fact.

Using this standard, the author of the original article could've rightfully been shot and killed by someone who found him threatening. Such an act would serve to reinforce and strengthen the social contract -- one that the original author admittedly felt no need to obey because it "felt distant." By the logic you've laid out, such an act would be a positive outcome for society.

Well, yes - that's quite right, Verb. Certainly carrying a gun would make any other gun-wielding citizen get nervous, and if the author of the article made what looked like an aggressive move towards his weapon, I could easily see somebody else getting nervous and shooting him. I have absolutely no problem with that outcome, so I don't understand why you're presenting it as some flaw in my logic.

Just because you have the right to carry a concealed weapon doesn't mean you should always do so - it comes with inherent risks, and in fact I think it would be quite stupid to carry a gun all the time, since - as you aptly pointed out - you run the risk of being mistaken for a threat and being shot. But what's your point? I don't see why we should insulate people from the consequences of their own choices. If people want to carry a concealed weapon and risk death, that's their own personal choice and I respect their right to make that decision.

As I mentioned upthread, I've personally avoided death when I was younger because I happened to be armed, so I appreciate the value of the right to carry a concealed weapon. That still doesn't mean I walk around armed all the time like some paranoid nutcase - I only carry a weapon when I think I'm going to be in a situation where I think I might need one. It's a calculated risk that I estimate beforehand. If somebody's so twitchy and frightened that they carry around a concealed weapon everywhere (as the author did), then I agree that they absolutely are a threat to the rest of us and society would be better off without them, so I'm totally OK with them getting shot. So yes, I agree with your framing, but I feel like I'm missing your point. Am I misunderstanding you in some way? I'm not quite sure where you think my "double standard" lies.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:29 PM on February 11, 2013


Well, yes - that's quite right, Verb. Certainly carrying a gun would make any other gun-wielding citizen get nervous, and if the author of the article made what looked like an aggressive move towards his weapon, I could easily see somebody else getting nervous and shooting him. I have absolutely no problem with this, so I don't understand why you're presenting it as some flaw in my logic.

I wasn't being sarcastic when I said I'd misunderstood you -- I was under the impression that you were framing the original author's actions as positive and justified in some way, and were articulating a moral framework for justifying shooting criminals. I think there are some pretty important things you're missing in your summary of how societies work and how individuals fit into it, but there's no inconsistency in that aspect of it if you acknowledge that "adherence to societal laws" would require both the author and a thief to be punished.
posted by verb at 3:32 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams, among many other words that look oddly used in your writing here, I don't think you are using the word 'loophole' in any sense even vaguely related to the way the dictionary or I would recognise it. Perhaps you could start using not just words, but words intended to mean something people would guess?
posted by jacalata at 3:32 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, yes - that's quite right, Verb. Certainly carrying a gun would make any other gun-wielding citizen get nervous, and if the author of the article made what looked like an aggressive move towards his weapon, I could easily see somebody else getting nervous and shooting him. I have absolutely no problem with that outcome, so I don't understand why you're presenting it as some flaw in my logic.

I'm not sure it's a flaw in logic. I think there's a fundamental disconnect between what you apparently envision as an ideal future for American society (i.e. gun-wielding citizens killing each other in the streets more often than they currently do) and what some other people here think would maybe be a better society than that to live in (i.e. not getting shot to death every time I reach for my iPhone in public).
posted by The World Famous at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not in response to the current argument but two tales of law abiding concealed carry gun owners and (to me anyway) positive outcomes:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/08/its-been-a-bad-week-for-robbers-in-detroit-concealed-carry-holders-fight-back-and-open-fire/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sNf8v4m5Vdg#!
posted by bartonlong at 4:21 PM on February 11, 2013


Clearly not in response to the current argument, which is actually about a completely different story about armed robbers in Detroit being shot by their intended victims.
posted by jacalata at 4:29 PM on February 11, 2013


Actually I missed that this link had already been posted when I last checked the thread, so my apologies and I skipped most of last 10 posts or so and wanted to say I wasn't posting in response to those exchanges (really, more of a this also happens example).

once again, My apologies.
posted by bartonlong at 4:51 PM on February 11, 2013


Ah, a death for a robbery, that's totally acceptable.

From a societal perspective, yes, it totally is. The armed robbery was illegal and weakened the fabric of society, whereas shooting the robber was legal self-defense and thus strengthened society by demonstrating serious consequences for those who wish to violate our laws.


Or maybe it was another Martin and Zimmerman.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:12 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Nightmare Vision of Wayne LaPierre

The Nine Most Insane Quotes From The NRA’s New Apocalyptic Op-Ed
posted by homunculus at 4:31 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meet The Shady Secret Money Group Helping The NRA Buy Up Judges And Attorneys General

NRA Plans A Blizzard Of Litigation To Lock In Pro-Gun Decisions While Republicans Control The Courts
posted by homunculus at 6:23 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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