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May 8, 2014 8:50 PM   Subscribe

A refreshing, well researched, measured take on gun control The police officer smiled and handed me a bucket with a revolver and thirty loose rounds of ammunition. Outside, it was dusk and the snow was falling sideways.
posted by bartonlong (205 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's true that the US has a higher per-capita murder rate than European nations. But you get that result by averaging the entire country.

If you separate out groups by ethnicity? Actually, if you separate out young inner-city black men, the rest of the country taken as a whole has about the same kind of murder rate as Europe. Young inner-city black men are a statistical outlier, committing murder and being the victims of murder at an extraordinarily disproportionate rate, enough so that if you mix them into the US average they move the needle a long way.

Wikipedia:
According to the US Department of Justice, blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with whites 45.3% and Native Americans and Asians 2.2%. The offending rate for blacks was almost 8 times higher than whites, and the victim rate 6 times higher. Most murders were intraracial, with 84% of white homicide victims murdered by whites, and 93% of black victims murdered by blacks.
However, there's no reason to believe that they have a disproportionate gun ownership rate compared to the rest of the country.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:22 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


^ The above tells me there is a pretty easy inference to make about the fact that there's a social justice, education and poverty component to our homicide epidemic that could easily be as much or more of a factor than the availability of guns.

Treat young men like their lives aren't worth anything for long enough, they'll eventually believe it and start killing more and being more willing to die.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:38 PM on May 8 [32 favorites]


However, there's no reason to believe that they have a disproportionate gun ownership rate compared to the rest of the country.

If the charts in the article in the FPP are accurate, whites are the ones with disproportionate gun ownership rates, though I don't think ownership rates are a good proxy for easy gun access, which varies significantly. (The phenomenon of "community guns" has been discussed here, for example.)

The most interesting section to me was this:

Gun-control advocates have done everything they can without buy-in from the gun community, but that approach has failed and it is now being dismantled by the courts. In the past year, the gun-control community has tried to organize efforts under the assumption that there is enough latent political support for their policy agenda if they can just mobilize their base. In my opinion, that reading of the political landscape is fantasy.

It's an interesting question: what, if anything, would actually get that buy-in? I can see hope for some incremental things, but it's hard to imagine big sweeping policy changes.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:39 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


@Chocolate pickle: I bet that Europe's murder rates also improve substantially when you exclude the most disadvantaged socioeconomic tiers.
posted by grudgebgon at 9:42 PM on May 8 [68 favorites]


The gun-control movement has its roots in the sort of Democratic strongholds ... where wildlife poses few threats

I am a person who rung up over $100,000 in hospital bills because of a wild animal attack. I agree that a gun would have been more useful than the rotten tree limb with which I hit the wild pig, but it would have been less useful than (for example) a single-payer healthcare system.
posted by compartment at 9:45 PM on May 8 [139 favorites]


Wild pigs can't fucking stand single-payer.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:55 PM on May 8 [86 favorites]


... our homicide epidemic...

There isn't any epidemic. The murder rate in the US peaked in 1980 at 10.2 per 100,000, and by 2012 it had declined more than half, to 4.7 per 100,000.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:59 PM on May 8 [13 favorites]


Guns have done reprehensible things, but they're nothing compared to late capitalism and the war on drugs. How come we can't have mainstream conversations about banning those damned things?
posted by Ouverture at 10:00 PM on May 8 [14 favorites]


late capitalism... How come we can't have mainstream conversations about banning those damned things

You should probably make it a US political issue this fall. Should be lotsa larfs.
posted by codswallop at 10:20 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Imagine that, racism and poverty drive crime. Not inanimate objects.
posted by wuwei at 10:27 PM on May 8 [8 favorites]


What a stupid comparison. Of course you can lower the murder rate in any country by dropping the lowest income group from the counts. The fact remains that the USA homicide rate is still much higher than Europe or Canada, unless you cherry pick the data to support your biases.
posted by benzenedream at 10:55 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


There isn't any epidemic.

I've seen three young black men shot in the past three years. One of them on my doorstep. I brought him gauze for his wound. I washed the sidewalk by filling a large bowl several times and pouring it over his pooled blood until it had all run into the street. He was lucky. He lived. I see him on my block every day.

The fact that there are fewer murders today than there were in 1990 does not mean the epidemic is over. It just means it's gotten a little better. Here in Oakland the long term trend is down by a bit, but it isn't down enough. Nor is it down enough in Chicago or Camden or New Orleans.

The US has a homicide rate far higher than other developed countries, and a huge portion of the murders that skew the rate up are in poor non-white neighborhoods in our cities. If you calculated the murder rates by census tract or zip codes, I'd be unsurprised to find places in American cities that are more deadly than low intensity war zones overseas.

I'll tell you what though, everything I've seen in Oakland tells me that a $20 minimum wage would change things much faster than the strict gun control laws California has had in place for a generation.

The fact remains that the USA homicide rate is still much higher than Europe or Canada, unless you cherry pick the data to support your biases.

What we need to be doing is cherry picking to show America just how badly it's neglecting the Black and Brown men in it's cities.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 10:57 PM on May 8 [42 favorites]


This piece has a lot of glossy charts, and clearly a lot of research was put into it, but there are some significant problems with the the content. It's getting late here, but I'll rattle off the first couple of things that jumped out at me, and try to take a closer look tomorrow. What really strikes me is how many claims are made without any evidence. This paragraph in particular has many problems:
To my surprise, that turns out to not be a major part of the story. First, if gun traffickers are active in large numbers, then law enforcement would seem to be preternaturally inept at arresting them. Second, if legally purchased guns were being resold on the street for profit, then we should expect street prices to be higher than legal retail prices – the cost of purchase, plus the cost of transfer, plus the price of offsetting the risk incurred, plus a profit margin. That’s the opposite of what we see: street prices are usually lower than retail prices.
Th first thing is that his sole link for saying that trafficking is a non-factor is to a paper by Gary Kleck. For those who are unaware, Kleck's research has been panned by a large number of his colleagues over the years. In one particularly embarrassing example, he found that more armed citizens wounded or killed attackers than there were total Americans wounded during the time period in question. This particular paper may or may not have better methodology, but his history makes him a poor choice for a citation if you're trying to convince someone who isn't already on the pro-gun side of the debate.

Also note that the author provides no citation for street prices being lower than retail prices, and since nobody ever said that all guns on the street were legally purchased, it would of course be possible for the average street price of a gun to be lower than retail but still have a significant portion of guns on the street be legal guns from straw purchasers, traffickers, etc. This is an unforgivable error in logic, and when I can easily find sources (1, 2) claiming that the street price is much higher, I can only conclude that this author's biases are causing him to accept certain findings uncritically.

No cite at all for this bold claim, either: "Lastly, most illegal guns are likely the result of legal gun owners having their guns stolen – which is consistent with the lower street value of firearms relative to the retail price." And there's that unsubstantiated and very questionable claim about the lower street value of guns again.

In the sections on suicide and homicide, he tries to hand-wave away the very compelling findings of a correlation with complaints about how they're distributed unevenly among certain groups. His contention is that this uneven distribution calls into question how the surveys controlled for these groups in the data, but he doesn't point out any actual instances of this, because he's not equipped to analyze the data the way the researchers and the peers who reviewed the findings were. That's fine, he's not an academic, but surely he links to some findings from academics which undermine those other findings? Nope. He just shows some pretty charts that illustrate different groups having different murder/suicide rates and declares victory. Yes, idiot, that's why they controlled for these variables! If they did it wrong, then say that, or find someone else who can competently say that.

OK, I'm officially getting cranky, so I'll stop for the night. I read this piece with an open mind, but I'm getting a strong sense that he didn't write it with one.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:37 PM on May 8 [39 favorites]


note that the author provides no citation for street prices being lower than retail prices

There might not be a citation because this is pretty easy to find - try looking on gunbroker and comparing things to the MSRP on gun websites. Also, people selling guns privately often have a greater need to move them quickly - their car broke down or their kid needs braces or something like that, so they take a lower price in exchange for a quick move/sale.
posted by corb at 11:44 PM on May 8


There might not be a citation because this is pretty easy to find - try looking on gunbroker and comparing things to the MSRP on gun websites. Also, people selling guns privately often have a greater need to move them quickly - their car broke down or their kid needs braces or something like that, so they take a lower price in exchange for a quick move/sale.

That's not what "street price" means.
posted by kafziel at 1:26 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


In Australia before we had widespread strict gun control, people did shoot one and other more often. But it's tricky to just ban guns from those who might shoot other people, so we made it hard to own a gun unless you are a farmer, in a genuine target shooting club or have an occupation where one is necessary. And we made it doubly hard to own guns designed for hunting big game/people. We made it almost impossible to own guns that are designed for soldiers.
Hunters went through the paperwork, locked their guns away in secure safes, and continued with their hobby.
People who owned guns for no particular reason largely found the paperwork and obligations burdensome, and sold their guns to the buy back.
All this had the effect of largely disarming the people who would shoot others, with very little impact on the legitimate users of firearms.
Gun control could have that effect in the USA too.
posted by bystander at 1:29 AM on May 9 [40 favorites]


Young inner-city black men are a statistical outlier, committing murder and being the victims of murder at an extraordinarily disproportionate rate, enough so that if you mix them into the US average they move the needle a long way.

I'm not sure why race is relevant to the posted article -- care to explain what your point was in bringing it up?
posted by empath at 1:36 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why race is relevant to the posted article -- care to explain what your point was in bringing it up?

"My guns aren't problematic"?
posted by maxwelton at 2:15 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]


I liked this a lot, thanks for posting.
posted by klangklangston at 2:38 AM on May 9


thanks for posting this. very interesting
posted by edlund88 at 3:10 AM on May 9


Extremely interesting, I, too, thank you for posting it, bartonlong.

I'm a (largely) liberal who owns firearms, and that means I end up talking to both pro- and anti- firearm types. And, yeah, there really are a lot of people on both sides who have absolutely no interest in discussing the issue objectively. Hoo boy.

I'm not sure why race is relevant to the posted article -- care to explain what your point was in bringing it up?

It's absolutely relevant. It's as relevant as the 'men' part and the 'inner-city' part. It's relevant because the murder-rate is relevant, and it's interesting to know that the murder rate drops dramatically if a certain group is separated out.

In fact, I'm not sure why you would object to someone pointing to an obviously relevant datum--care to explain what your point is in suggesting that it was irrelevant?

Because it sounds like you're hinting at something nefarious.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:44 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


People also like to casually forget where the Cartels get their weapons. I'd love to see an analysis of statistics that doesn't marginalize human suffering with an imaginary boundary line.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:44 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Heh - quite a shock to open an article and see your own SIG-Sauer P220 staring you in the face ...
posted by kcds at 3:51 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


And the truth is that many American jurisdictions have gone as far as the Constitution allows them in banning people from carrying any sort of self-defense weapon.
Why would anyone even think of needing a weapon? Wallet, keys, phone, umbrella (if it's looking like rain), but weapon …? In a developed society, you don't need to carry one. You're not going to get jumped just nipping down the shops. Who are you afraid of? What's made you so scared that you need to present yourself as a threat to everyone?
posted by scruss at 4:02 AM on May 9 [18 favorites]


Because it sounds like you're hinting at something nefarious.

He threw out some race and crime statistics as the first comment with no prompting from the article and with no explanation as to why it was relevant. It's kind of a derail. In a country where unarmed black men are gunned down by white guys with guns who think they're a threat, I think one should be a little bit more clear about ones meaning when bringing it up.
posted by empath at 4:19 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Without delving too deeply into the underlying policy questions, I will say that the narrative arc he uses in this piece--applying for a weapons permit in the city of Boston--is probably worthy of its own longform journalism.

Some years ago, before my political sensibilities shifted far leftward, I took a firearms safety/marksmanship course at MIT, with the thought that I'd apply for a permit. I live in Boston. When I told the guy running the safety course about my plans, he grinned ruefully, and told me that if I managed to get that unrestricted permit, I would be the first person he knew to have one. Apparently the Moon Island routine is well-known, to the point of being a joke among target shooters in the state. When you get to the range, you are indeed handed a poorly-maintained revolver and a bucket of ammunition. It's possible to fail the test just during the handoff of the weapon from the officer running the test to the hopeful applicant: you are handed the pistol stock-first, and if you grab it by the grip (like most anyone would do), you have just aimed a weapon at a police officer; no permit for you today, try again in five years. Then you get to deal with the fact that you're doing a marksmanship test with a weapon that has had its sight intentionally misaligned; it's up to you to request that you be given a few volleys to readjust the sights before the actual test begins.

Anyone who passes the ridiculous series of gotchas then gets a permit restricted to target-shooting/hunting a few weeks later. There's no appeals process you can go through to get an unrestricted permit. My own political views notwithstanding, I'm not sure this is the most effective way to control gun violence in Boston, since most people just shrug their shoulders and carry their gun around anyway, banking on the fact that Boston police won't bother to accost you for anything less than a major felony in progress.
posted by Mayor West at 4:45 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


I thought this was an interesting take on guns and their owners in the United States. While I agree with the article in the FPP that the current patchwork of laws and enforcement, even within a single state, is ineffective, we need to recognize that as a group, gun owners are nowhere near as resposible as they would like to believe.

conpartment, I hope that wild pig didn't mess you up too bad, but it is my understanding that unless you know what you are doing when hunting feral pigs (and you might for all I know) you are quite likely to just piss them off if you shoot them. That rotten limb may have been a better choice.
posted by TedW at 5:02 AM on May 9


Saved for later reading, but this was an apt comment I saw yesterday:

"I will say that I've done my share of shooting, purely recreationally. I always found it sort of eerie how holding a gun in your hand makes you feel a perverse kind of power, and if you own one for self-defense, I think you get more and more of a feeling of DESIRE to use it in "self-defense." Almost looking for a reason to utilize that kind of deadly force. The impotence of having been robbed and having a cache of armaments perhaps means that some people will inevitably expose themselves to a risk that might legally warrant this kind of response... one which would be easily defused without a gun, or without any harm turns into someone metaphorically wandering the streets hoping to be mugged or accosted, so they can wreak vengeance in their own minds for past transgressions the world has committed upon them.

TL:DR I think having a gun makes you somehow want/hope to find a moment where you can shoot someone."
posted by fungible at 5:02 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


He threw out some race and crime statistics as the first comment with no prompting from the article and with no explanation as to why it was relevant.

All he's saying is that if you SEPARATE OUT the young black men, then AMERICA (which will be rid of the young black men) will be at good levels. you just need to somehow REMOVE this OUTLIER from the REAL united states rather than lumping them in as, like, citizens or something. Chocolate Pickle just HAPPENS to be SAYING that WOW, LOOK what happens to how good the country gets when you REMOVE the young black men.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:03 AM on May 9 [38 favorites]


TL:DR I think having a gun makes you somehow want/hope to find a moment where you can shoot someone."

Maybe I only know sane gun owners, but every gun owner I know thinks of shooting someone or being in a position where they could /ought to as the last thing in the world they want to happen.
posted by jpe at 5:07 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


fungible, I both know what you mean and disagree. It's different at the shooting range than it is while carrying a concealed handgun (legally, natch) while running errands. If you are like me, you will find yourself being MORE friendly and LESS apt to do stupid things or call people out for being minor dicks. The former, I imagine, because you feel more secure, and the latter, in my experience, because you realize the risk of escalation just isn't worth it.

On preview: +1 to jpe. I know a man who shot to death a knife-wielding intruder standing near his bed in the middle of the night. Decades later, he still has PTSD.
posted by radicalawyer at 5:14 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


If you are like me, you will find yourself being MORE friendly and LESS apt to do stupid things or call people out for being minor dicks.

The problem is, if you read the news, there seem to be significant numbers of people who are not like you, and that results in unacceptable casualties.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:26 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Indeed, and I'm not a "constitutional carry" supporter by any means. I used to brag about my home state, Texas, and its eight-hour education requirement before getting a CCW permit. 75% of the class attended by folks I know was nonviolent conflict resolution--basically how to de-escalate a situation. You also had to pass a markspersonship test.

I grew up around and shooting guns, emphasis on safely, from a very early age, yet another item in my privilege knapsack.

Of course, Texas recently knocked the "education" requirement down to what Virginia has, which is essentially "one hour of Internet video regarding how to operate your semi-automatic handgun if you don't already know, oh and here is how not to accidentally shoot someone".

I'm also mindful of the Gabby Giffords shooting, where several audience members were carrying concealed. One of them (heard him on NPR) tried to draw on the real shooter and got tackled by several audience members who thought he was the shooter. A gun is a tool, no better than its operator.

So I guess my "pony" ask would be nationwide, mandatory, extensive, free training for any CCW holder that would address all of these things.
posted by radicalawyer at 5:33 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Mayor West: "There's no appeals process you can go through to get an unrestricted permit. My own political views notwithstanding, I'm not sure this is the most effective way to control gun violence in Boston, since most people just shrug their shoulders and carry their gun around anyway, banking on the fact that Boston police won't bother to accost you for anything less than a major felony in progress."

To be fair, it seems like both sides of the gun control debate have adopted staggeringly bad models of governance. This is no way to run a government or enforce a system of laws.

Personally, I'd be in favor of treating firearms with the same amount of regulation as automobiles. The rules should be fair, consistent, and evenly-applied between states and municipalities. There should be a basic test of competency to own a gun. This test should be fair, consistent, and predictable. You should be required to file a police report if your gun is stolen. You should need to carry liability insurance for your firearm. Permits should require occasional renewal and a small fee. Your car requires headlights so that others can see it coming -- your gun should not be deliberately concealed in public under any circumstance.

Let's start with this. It won't be perfect, but the current status quo is completely insane.
posted by schmod at 5:47 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


TL:DR I think having a gun makes you somehow want/hope to find a moment where you can shoot someone.

As a gun owner, I must respond: fuck this person.

An anecdotal point in support of this? In November I moved into a large apartment building of unknown quality (having selected it for location alone) and did not bring my firearms because that's the kind of shit someone may break in to steal. My sister and her husband have a safe in their home that had space for my firearms.
posted by mr. digits at 5:50 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


If you are like me, you will find yourself being MORE friendly and LESS apt to do stupid things or call people out for being minor dicks

Hm. This kind of reminds me of the dubious logic of people I have known who thought driving after a few drinks made them *better* drivers, because knowing they were buzzed made them more careful than they would have been if they had been stone-cold sober and oblivious to danger.
posted by aught at 5:51 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


aught: Do you have scientific support for the idea that carrying a gun changes my brain chemistry in the same or a similar way that drinking alcohol does? Otherwise, that's pretty a insulting thing to say without knowing much about me.
posted by radicalawyer at 5:57 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


I think that if you're capable of behaving decently when you're carrying, then you're probably capable of it when you're unarmed, and maybe what you need to work on is the sense of entitlement that makes you feel like you're allowed to be an asshole unless there's some potential dire consequence that could occur. You shouldn't need a gun to save you from being a jerk.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:06 AM on May 9 [9 favorites]


Carrying a gun seems to make people want to put words into other people's mouths.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:07 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


It really doesn't matter if most gun owners are responsible. Clearly some are not. Gun control is basically about having fewer guns out there for the irresponsible people to get. It's not as if any mass shooting has been stopped by an armed civilian.
posted by empath at 6:07 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


That's not what "street price" means.

No, Corb is completely correct. I can go today (no waiting period because I have the kind of permit that evidently is difficult to get in Boston) and buy a new handgun at a store; I could also buy that same handgun used, "on the street," for less money (and with no background check, which is kind of crazy). The prices do not go up on the secondary market, largely I suspect because the supply is so high. Even if I was a felon who was barred from purchasing, all I'd need to do is ask a girlfriend to go shopping for me. If prices were higher in the secondary market, I'd be able to go to the store, buy a gun and turn around and sell it for more money.

That's not the case at all, with the possible exception of within communities that are separated from the normally functioning US gun market for whatever reason. (Again, see the phenomenon of "community guns" -- something that only makes sense in a place where firearms have an unusually high value relative to people's incomes.)

It's not as if any mass shooting has been stopped by an armed civilian.

As has been pointed out many times here, as well as in the article, mass shootings are a tiny fraction of gun deaths. That mass shootings of primarily white people get so much more attention than the daily shootings in particular neighborhoods in places like Chicago and Oakland says something very poor about us as a society and is not a positive thing to repeat here.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:18 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


you are handed the pistol stock-first, and if you grab it by the grip (like most anyone would do), you have just aimed a weapon at a police officer; no permit for you today, try again in five years. Then you get to deal with the fact that you're doing a marksmanship test with a weapon that has had its sight intentionally misaligned; it's up to you to request that you be given a few volleys to readjust the sights before the actual test begins.

Anyone who passes the ridiculous series of gotchas...


I dunno, I think having a series of gotchas on gun safety is a fucking good thing. If it's a matter of demonstrating that you can handle guns safety, I think it's worth checking that people can handle guns safely in circumstances and contexts that don't make it as easy as possible for them. Being able to handle a firearm safely unless someone hands it to you the wrong way is not really good enough in my opinion.
posted by Dysk at 6:20 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


As a gun owner, I must respond: fuck this person.

"What if we replace the word 'kill' with the word 'fuck' in some of those old Westerns?"

"We're gonna fuck you now sheriff, but we're gonna fuck you slow!"

-- George Carlin
posted by sneebler at 6:25 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


So much for trying to engage reasonably and honestly. This is why, by the way, there is no one advocating for a sensible and nuanced middle ground. I try to explain what it's actually like to people who pass for thoughtful Internet commenters, and instead of, I don't know, at least a rhetorical question or a citation to a study, I get insulted repeatedly. We might as well be debating religion. For Pete's sake, I agree 100% with Dysk. That's how we learned knife and axe safety in the Boy Scouts. I am on your side.

So the only two options anybody has in terms of the debate are ALL THE GUNS ALL OF THE TIME (constitutional carry) and ONE GUN DEATH IS TOO MANY. There are a whole bunch of reasonable, safe, sensible gun owners out there--I know a lot of them--but the rhetorical/advocacy position of this issue in American life ON BOTH SIDES means we are politically homeless.

I will keep on carrying when I feel like it, keeping guns safely stored, being safe at the range, being safe at all times, and you will have no idea because I have no reason to explain it to you or tell you about it because you're not interested in talking about my experience or trying to learn from it. You won't know what a reasonable and responsible approach to gun ownership looks like because you don't know about anybody who is has it because they know you're not worth talking to about it.

This reinforces my gut reaction which is that it's none of your business how many guns I have or what I do with them at any given moment, and because I literally have no better options, I will probably not make much of a fuss when the NRA says some stupid crap about how Obama is the most anti-gun president ever and as a result, we need to give more people more guns and pass open carry laws in every state and whatever other maximalist position they happen to be taking.
posted by radicalawyer at 6:38 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


Let's be honest here. Which statistics you choose say more about you than it does about reality. 53% of US homicides by blacks over a period of 1980 - 2008. (A major study looked at this period, but it mixes the obsolete with the more current.) Why not point at males? Why not point at those under 27? Why not point at urban areas in general? I live in Puerto Rico. It has a very high homicide rate, but if you are not male and under 27, you are fairly safe.
I'm not saying that Chocolate Pickle is racist, but these sorts of selective analyses can demonize a group.
Compared to low Europe rates. That is averaging across Europe from the United Kingdom (with highly restrictive gun laws and a homicide rate of 1.2 per 100,000) to Russia (with less restriction and a homicide rate of 9.7, double that of the United States). These are not the extremes, just examples from both ends.
As for urban areas, they have shown the greatest decrease in homicide rates in recent years, beyond that of the general trend, perhaps mollifying Pickle's concerns. Large cities of 100,000 or more residents experienced the largest decline (23%) in homicide rates from 2002 to 2011, compared to communities with less than 100,000 residents.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:38 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Interesting bits about gun ownership while I was looking for other statistics:

25% of adult Americans own at least one firearm. 14% of adult Americans own them specifically for defense and don't hunt.

In violent crimes against civilians, guns were used for self-defense in 0.66% of cases. At about 1.2 million violent crimes per year, that's 7,920 times guns were used defensively. (The statistics do not say whether this was successful, but that shots were fired in 28% of those cases.)

The US is #3 in the world for per-capita gun-related suicides. Overall there are about 20,000 suicides with guns (more than half of suicides), 11,000 homicides with guns (69% of homicides), and 1000 fatal accidents with guns.

The countries that lead the US in gun homicides? Honduras, El Salvador, Jamaica, Venezuela, Swaziland, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, South Africa, Panama, Mexico, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Not exactly good company.

Other countries have higher rates of gun ownership and lower rates of people using them to kill themselves or others. What are we doing wrong?
posted by Foosnark at 6:50 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


corb: - try looking on gunbroker and comparing things to the MSRP on gun websites

Dip Flash: The prices do not go up on the secondary market

I linked to two pieces of evidence (sadly, the first link got eaten by my lack of preview last night -- here it is, and here's the other one) from experts who claim the street prices -- i.e. the prices on the street are, in fact, higher.

From the first link:
Interviews by SV with 116 gun-owning non-gang affiliated youths (age 18–21) reveal prices paid that range between $250 and $400. Interviews with 11 local gun brokers, who handle a large share of retail transactions on behalf of importers, suggest most of their guns are sold for between $150 and $350. These prices are typically for guns of low quality, manufactured by companies such as Lorcin, Raven and Bryco. These names were often mentioned to SV in interviews and as noted above also show up frequently in administrative data on confiscated crime guns maintained by ATF. While SV’s inter-views do not include information on the condition of the gun, it is noteworthy that most pistols from these manufacturers listed on websites (such as gunsamerica.com) sell for between $50 and $100 (with a $10 mailing/transaction fee), even for those used guns that are reported to be in excellent condition.

Thus the price markup in the underground market appears to be substantial.
and from the second:
Wachtel: Well, the retail price on a gun like this would be somewhere around $125. In the illicit marketplace if you can buy this gun new but without filling out paperwork you'd probably be paying $250 maybe $300 for it on the street
The anecdata that you personally may be able to find guns cheaper than retail are noteworthy, but do not change the fact the evidence on the other side. We're not talking about where you're getting your guns, we're talking about where criminals are getting theirs, and unless you have contrary evidence, the author's unsubstantiated claim that the street prices are lower does not hold up under scrutiny.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:54 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


bystander, Bill Bryson made an interesting observation about gun violence in Australia in his book In a Sunburned Country.

Even though gun violence is rare in Australia, there isn't much public outcry when it does occur since it is assumed that if someone got their hands on a gun, they were unsavory criminal types to begin with. It's usually a drug deal gone sour or a biker fight that got out of hand, etcetera. Has this perception changed at all in the 15-odd years since this was written?
posted by dr_dank at 6:57 AM on May 9


He threw out some race and crime statistics as the first comment with no prompting from the article and with no explanation as to why it was relevant.

The article actually goes into racial breakdowns of gun ownership and firearm deaths.

What it seems to be saying is that if certain components of the population (young, urban, black) have higher rates of firearm deaths, then the problem is not the firearm, the problem is that the US has a higher percentage of people who were forcibly imported against their will, enslaved for a hundred years, and then (largely) released as the result of a war with no property, a lot of resentment against them, poor employment prospects, and laws mandating their forcible segregation from the rest of society for another hundred years.

These prices are typically for guns of low quality

I think this is the salient point here that skews the pricing. Low quality guns are going to go for much lower on places like gunbroker or gunsamerica, because the people who frequent those sites have very little reason to acquire terrible firearms. They'd rather pay a little more and get a decent firearm.

I'll grant that it's quite possible that individuals cut off culturally from the gun community may be tricked into paying ludicrous prices, but that says less about criminal access to guns, and more about isolated access to them.
posted by corb at 6:59 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


As has been pointed out many times here, as well as in the article, mass shootings are a tiny fraction of gun deaths.That mass shootings of primarily white people get so much more attention than the daily shootings in particular neighborhoods in places like Chicago and Oakland says something very poor about us as a society and is not a positive thing to repeat here.

It says nothing more than that man bites dog stories sell more papers. Helps if there is a good hook to the story (midnight showing of Batman, lots of school children, wild-eyed shooter with perplexing back-story - that sort of thing). Whiteness is incidental. (For interest, check this list of 2012 mass shootings and see how many you recognize.)
posted by IndigoJones at 7:04 AM on May 9


And back to understanding urban homicide statistics, here is the data for Washington, DC.

Every year from 1989 to 1994, the homicide rate was 70 to 80.6 per 100,000. In 2012 it was 13.9.

Let's take a random pro-gun state. (I literally used a random number generator to choose one from a list.)

Arizona.
From 1989 to 1994, the homicide rate averaged 8.2 per 100,000. In 2012 it was 5.5. A decrease but not nearly so dramatic.

Since Arizona didn't feel "random" enough, I went back to sample a second one. This time Mississippi popped up.

In the same time period its homicide rate dropped from 12.6 to 7.4.

You can look at the data here.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:21 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


corb: I'll grant that it's quite possible that individuals cut off culturally from the gun community may be tricked into paying ludicrous prices, but that says less about criminal access to guns, and more about isolated access to them.

Right, isolated access to them in the very communities where most of the crime is happening -- you know, on the street. This makes the author's point about the resale value across the board -- remember that he made this point to disprove that legal guns find their way to criminals -- irrelevant if we're being charitable, or duplicitous if we're not.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:24 AM on May 9


TL:DR I think having a gun makes you somehow want/hope to find a moment where you can shoot someone."

Maybe I only know sane gun owners, but every gun owner I know thinks of shooting someone or being in a position where they could /ought to as the last thing in the world they want to happen.
The obvious way to ensure than you never shoot someone is not to own a gun.

I don't mean that faceciously, it's just, I really don't get the whole America and guns thing. I can see that the tragedy of the commons, aggressive lobbying and systematic inequality make it difficult to remove guns, but as an outsider, I just can't get to grips with the fact that it's widely culturally acceptable to own tools designed to kill and maim people.
posted by Ned G at 7:24 AM on May 9 [9 favorites]


This story has a lot of problems. The author is very obviously on one side of the issue, since he went to the trouble of negotiating the onerous MA requirements for a gun licence, and then took the extra steps of obtaining a concealed-carry permit from a state he'd only visited once. Regardless of the plethora of graphs and charts, there is a ton of question-begging in it. For instance:
we know that greater access to guns leads to more fatal accidents, but that these are thankfully few
This, after he earlier states that gun deaths of children are frequently misattributed as suicide or homicide. We do not, in fact know that accidents are thankfully few. Because of the efforts of the NRA, it's difficult to determine how few they are.

His peculiar values surfaced early, with this statement:
Perhaps the most important distinctions that need to be made when looking at gun deaths are between homicides, suicides, and accidents.
Why are those important distinctions? Are accident victims less dead than homicide victims? Are suicide deaths OK? If the goal is to reduce gun deaths of all kinds, and if reducing the numbers of guns accomplishes that - which it almost certainly will, given Australia's experience - why are those distinctions of more than incidental interest?

Near the end, he says this:
But among the 12 states that don’t trust me to carry a handgun is my home state of Massachusetts. I wonder if that really makes anyone feel safer.
As a resident of MA, believe me, Pedro, it does.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:32 AM on May 9 [9 favorites]


Like drugs if you want a gun you can get a gun. Laws do nothing but make non-criminals pay more.
posted by judson at 7:42 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


One of my peeves about Massachusetts gun laws is that it's done on a per-city/town basis. Which means that instead of one set of requirements/expectations, there's several hundred.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:44 AM on May 9


Just wanted to post this link here, link between leaded gasoline and reduction in violent crime rates in inner cities. Clearly there is a lot that can be done without gun control, but surely there must be some element of it involved.
posted by spaceviking at 7:47 AM on May 9


See also, great post on MeFi on this topic.
posted by spaceviking at 7:49 AM on May 9


It is American to think that disarming innocent people is creepy and wrong and that people who try to make it sound nice or statistically pleasant don't have nice or pleasant motives.

It's basically "The Gift of Fear" on a macro level. No one will get anywhere until they recognize this.
posted by michaelh at 8:07 AM on May 9


Right, isolated access to them in the very communities where most of the crime is happening -- you know, on the street.

tonycpsu, I don't think you're doing it on purpose, but you might want to look at what assumptions might be going into your thinking. Assuming "on the street" or buys by criminals to apply only to certain high-crime urban areas is thinking that helps perpetuate negative stereotypes. Criminals exist in all areas, and where they buy their guns, especially buys that take place between individuals, are "street buys." Some criminals are more tied into these communities, others are not, but that doesn't mean more criminals exist in one than the other.

Illegal guns are bought by people who have felony convictions. Those don't even need to be people who are going to go out and mug people with them. It could be a guy with a felony who wants it for self defense - bam, that's an illegal gun. And its price is just as relevant as the price in one neighborhood of Chicago.
posted by corb at 8:09 AM on May 9


Right, isolated access to them in the very communities where most of the crime is happening -- you know, on the street. This makes the author's point about the resale value across the board -- remember that he made this point to disprove that legal guns find their way to criminals -- irrelevant if we're being charitable, or duplicitous if we're not.

It's a reminder of how gun violence is wildly different in those neighborhoods compared to most of the US, including how access to guns is different. In other words, it's a reminder that national statistics (of death rates, gun ownership, or prices) is not going to illustrate what is going on.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:11 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


corb: Assuming "on the street" or buys by criminals to apply only to certain high-crime urban areas is thinking that helps perpetuate negative stereotypes.

This is of course not at all what I said. Violent crime rates are what they are, and they correlate with population density:
The study found higher rates of all types of violent crime in areas of high-density residential land use, even after controlling for overall population. The correlation was more pronounced in disadvantaged areas but held true in other areas as well.
Contrary to your straw man, I'm not saying all criminals buy their guns from the street in urban areas. I'm saying that I've produced testimony from two experts who say that in the areas where violent crime is more frequent, criminals are paying more than the retail price for guns. You are free to find contrary evidence, but trying to make this some thing where I'm saying criminals only buy their guns in cities is a blatant attempt to distract from the emptiness of your argument.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:16 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


ArbitraryandCapricious: "and maybe what you need to work on is the sense of entitlement..."

hey, if the 2nd amendment isn't an entitlement, then none of the other amendments are.

i also learned from greg nog in this thread that any mention of black-on-black homicide makes you a racist who supports a nazi-style final solution for young black men. for the record, i would be opposed to that, but i can avoid this sort of calumny directed at me by pretending that the problem doesn't exist.

i own guns but do not carry them around in public, however, i reject anyone presuming to prescribe to me what my appropriate defensive posture should be. i reject the armchair psych diagnoses of strangers, and i reject automobile-style licensing and insurance.
posted by bruce at 8:28 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Dip Flash: In other words, it's a reminder that national statistics (of death rates, gun ownership, or prices) is not going to illustrate what is going on.

This is yet another example of pro-gun people wanting it both ways. Because of the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment, we cannot impose anything but the most cosmetic changes at the state and local levels. This means we can't substantively alter gun policy based on the preferences of the various populations that you correctly point out have different crime rates. This makes it much more difficult to study the effects of state and local laws, because laws that have any real effect are incompatible with the maximalist interpretation of the Second Amendment. And then to top it off, they make it illegal to fund research that might arrive at a conclusion that supports gun control.

So, we use the bit of state data we have from before , and we use the national statistics, and pro-gun people say the state data is paltry and out-of-date, and that the national rates don't matter. They get you coming and going.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:31 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


"This, after he earlier states that gun deaths of children are frequently misattributed as suicide or homicide. We do not, in fact know that accidents are thankfully few. Because of the efforts of the NRA, it's difficult to determine how few they are."

But even if they were underreported by an order of magnitude, they'd still be a tiny percentage of overall gun deaths. They are relatively few.

"Why are those important distinctions? Are accident victims less dead than homicide victims? Are suicide deaths OK? If the goal is to reduce gun deaths of all kinds, and if reducing the numbers of guns accomplishes that - which it almost certainly will, given Australia's experience - why are those distinctions of more than incidental interest?"

Well, yeah, some suicide deaths are OK. It's a shame when it happens, but people generally should have the right to end their own life.
posted by klangklangston at 8:41 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


So, we use the bit of state data we have from before , and we use the national statistics, and pro-gun people say the state data is paltry and out-of-date, and that the national rates don't matter. They get you coming and going.

I share some of your frustration, but the point I was making was more limited. Nationally, perhaps ninety percent or more of Americans live in neighborhoods with both low gun death rates and cheap access to guns; maybe ten or so percent live in the reverse, places with shocking homicide rates plus as you noted expensive access to guns.

I don't think guns are necessarily the problem in that situation, relative to structural problems like poverty and institutional racism.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:49 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


klangklangston: Well, yeah, some suicide deaths are OK. It's a shame when it happens, but people generally should have the right to end their own life.

Wait a second. I'm pro-euthanasia, pro assisted suicide for terminal patients, etc., and would love for people in the U.S. who have a compelling reason to end their life to have a legal means to do so. But I didn't read Kirth Gerson's comment as saying that people shouldn't have a right to end their lives.

My interpretation of that comment is that a lot of those suicides wouldn't have otherwise happened if the person didn't have a gun. Having a gun means it's much easier to turn untreated mental illness or a particularly bad day into a suicide -- not the kind of thought-out, considered, "I want to end my life" kind of thing we talk about when we say people should be able to decide when to die.

If nothing else, forcing someone to slit their wrists, turn their car on in a closed garage, or jump off a bridge makes it harder for them to turn that snap decision into a dead person, so the fact that so many people have guns is definitely relevant here.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:52 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Dip Flash: I share some of your frustration, but the point I was making was more limited. Nationally, perhaps ninety percent or more of Americans live in neighborhoods with both low gun death rates and cheap access to guns; maybe ten or so percent live in the reverse, places with shocking homicide rates plus as you noted expensive access to guns.

Cite please. This "perhaps... maybe..." formulation reeks of truthiness.

I don't think guns are necessarily the problem in that situation, relative to structural problems like poverty and institutional racism.

Both can be true, and studies have shown that guns have a significant effect when those other variables are controlled for. Simply saying these other variables exist doesn't negate the fact that peer-reviewed research has concluded that guns are also significant.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:54 AM on May 9


I'm a bit appalled that the word "militia" appeared not once in this article. The Second Amendment is pretty clear that the people have the right to bear arms in defense of themselves as a people. In a "well regulated militia," not in some sort of absolute individual freedom.

I'm not sure if it's even necessary that every gun owner today need be a member of a militia, but guns ought to at least be "well regulated."
posted by explosion at 8:55 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


hey, if the 2nd amendment isn't an entitlement, then none of the other amendments are.

Hey, if all of the other amendments can be subject to restrictions not explicitly in their text, then the Second Amendment can, too.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:58 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Like drugs if you want a gun you can get a gun. Laws do nothing but make non-criminals pay more.

By that logic, we should get rid of all laws, since only law-breakers break laws.

Things that can easily kill or otherwise harm our fellow human beings *should* be hard to obtain -- there should be a process, testing, licensing. I hate bureaucracies, but this is the best reason they should still exist. Automobiles, narcotics, explosives, weapons, and similar things should require regulations, rigorous testing as appropriate, and reams of paperwork that take time to work through.

Meanwhile, we start working on healing and re-building the communities where perpetual poverty causes the violence to happen. Step one: decriminalizing non-violent drug offenses. It is the worst outrage since segregation what we've done and are still doing to the disenfranchised and people of color in this country.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:59 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


If someone wants to read a longer account of someone trying to acquire a legal gun in DC, the "Emily Gets Her Gun" series [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] is pretty humorous and quite charming, with a lot of interesting insights.
All the instructors teach out of their own homes, or more specifically, as one said, “in my basement.” The police do a criminal background check on everyone appearing on their list, but I still don’t feel safe going alone to an armed stranger’s basement.

It seems the D.C. politicians who came up with this requirement never considered the impact on a woman trying to register a gun. Forcing us to go to a strange man’s house in another state to take a gun safety class is not something the police should be requiring.
posted by corb at 9:00 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Cite please. This "perhaps... maybe..." formulation reeks of truthiness.

That's unnecessarily rude. I'm on my phone now but will happily provide citations later, but violence is both spatially and socially concentrated, with the impacts falling disproportionately on a very small percent of the population.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:05 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The US is #3 in the world for per-capita gun-related suicides. Overall there are about 20,000 suicides with guns (more than half of suicides)

Which is why I am thankful for Canada's rather more strict gun laws. If I'd had access to a handgun at any point in my life since I was 19, I wouldn't be typing this right now.

Twenty thousand people dying a year, and the NRA just don't care.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Dip Flash: violence is both spatially and socially concentrated, with the impacts falling disproportionately on a very small percent of the population.

As even the author of this FPP's blog post concedes, a reputable study controlled for these factors you're talking about in its methodology. The post then tries to cast doubt on whether those controls were adequate, but it does so with only FUD, not bringing a single point of data other than some charts showing that the other factors exist. Simply saying other factors have an impact on homicide/suicide rates is not a convincing way to refute the findings of a paper that controlled for those factors.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:12 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Twenty thousand people dying a year, and the NRA just don't care.

I think that's an unnecessarily uncharitable interpretation. I say this as someone who did intend to end my life once but was talked out of it - I still believe that everyone has the right to end their life if they choose to do so. I think it's an absolute moral right over your own body, and no one has the right to tell you otherwise.

That doesn't mean I don't grieve suicides, or don't care about suicides. As a veteran of the most recent wars, I've probably attended more friend's funerals due to suicides than most people in this thread. I attend at least one funeral a year due to suicide. The largest cause is not firearms, but even if it was, I wouldn't blame the methods they chose for being effective. I blame the war that made them feel they could no longer go on living. I blame the ineffective mental health care. I've volunteered with suicide hotlines. I've spent hours talking to suicidal veterans at all times of night. I care about suicides. It is disingenuous and mean to suggest that I or many other people in my position (many of whom are NRA members) do not.

But my grief does not change my fundamental belief that everyone has the right to control over their own body, and if that means killing themselves, that is their choice. It's better if they can make those decisions in a sound state of mind, but I have no right to impose external obligations on an adult who feels that it is their best option.
posted by corb at 9:18 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


The largest cause is not firearms

Well, it is by far (more than 50% of the total among all methods) in the wider population, so your experience is anomalous.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:23 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


You won't know what a reasonable and responsible approach to gun ownership looks like because you don't know about anybody who is has it because they know you're not worth talking to about it.

My experience with guns comes from hanging out in rural Manitoba. I fired some guns (which was pretty sweet) and went on a small hunt once. I saw systematically poor handling and storage. I saw guns handed out to irresponsible children. I saw guns fired with little caution as to who was downrange. I saw hunting procedures haphazard enough that people could have been hit.

radicalawyer, I get that you handle your guns safely and that you have appropriate respect for human life. A lot of gun owners don't. It seems clear to me that mandatory gun training courses don't do a good job of keeping guns out of irresponsible hands.

That's why I support a blanket ban on handgun ownership. Guns in private hands will often be used irresponsibly, homicidally or suicidally. Some people need to own guns (hunters, farmers, etc.) and permitting long gun ownership acknowledges that need while overall keeping the rate of gun ownership as low as possible. That's an inconvenience to responsible gun owners like yourself, but the law apparently doesn't have an effective way of separating the good from the bad, in my experience.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:26 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I care about suicides. It is disingenuous and mean to suggest that I or many other people in my position (many of whom are NRA members) do not.

You're always the special snowflake who's different, aren't you?

The thing about firearm suicides is that it's so damn easy. Gun in your mouth, aim through the brainstem, pull the trigger. That's it.

Compared to other methods of suicide which require thought and planning, for the most part, firearms are instantaneous. You've had a particularly low-mood day? Bang. Your girlfriend just broke up with you? Bang. You can't handle the PTSD (understandably) from a war the USGov should never have started? Bang.

There's no time for second thoughts, there's no time for intervention, it's just bang you're dead (and the cleanup is awful, but that's tangential).

There are 20K people every year who kill themselves with firearms. Some, probably, are meticulously planned out (I read once about a guy who lined his shower with garbage bags so when the cops/EMTs showed up, cleanup was as easy as just removing the bags), but absence evidence to the contrary: the NRA just doesn't care that so many people can kill themselves instantaneously. They certainly give no fucks about murders--or mass murders--so why should they care about suicide?

The answer is, they don't. They just don't care. If the NRA gave even one fuck about how many deaths are caused by firearms in the USA every day, they'd be pushing for more careful control, not less. QED.

Well, it is by far (more than 50% of the total among all methods) in the wider population, so your experience is anomalous.

All of corb's experiences seem to be anomalous, for some reason.

That's why I support a blanket ban on handgun ownership. Guns in private hands will often be used irresponsibly, homicidally or suicidally. Some people need to own guns (hunters, farmers, etc.) and permitting long gun ownership acknowledges that need while overall keeping the rate of gun ownership as low as possible. That's an inconvenience to responsible gun owners like yourself, but the law apparently doesn't have an effective way of separating the good from the bad, in my experience.

Yeah, this, in spades. I could probably get behind a law that allows for private handgun ownership for target shooting--but the gun would be delivered directly to your club, and locked up whenever you're not actually using it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:28 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


The answer is, they don't. They just don't care. If the NRA gave even one fuck about how many deaths are caused by firearms in the USA every day, they'd be pushing for more careful control, not less. QED.

Or maybe you're making blanket assumptions on the basis that you would like to believe your political opponents don't just disagree with you, but are actively bad human beings who twirl their moustaches, tie women to railroad tracks, and laugh at deaths. "The NRA" is not a monolithic entity - it's an organization made of members who are often just ordinary people. These members often believe different things than you - they think that different things - such as mental health care, or more training at an earlier age, might be a better means of controlling many of these deaths. But if you're saying "If they cared, they'd agree with me, and implement my suggested policies," you are not acting with an open mind or in good faith - you're just acting to reinforce your bias.
posted by corb at 9:39 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


No, I'm saying if they cared, they would do something about gun violence in the USA.

That they don't proves my point, QED.

And don't ever put words in my mouth, are we crystal clear on this? Ever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:42 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


"The NRA" is not a monolithic entity

Yes, it is. It's a formal organization that takes positions that are, formally, the positions of the NRA (even if many, most, or all of its members disagree). It takes specific actions, or fails to do so, and those actions and inactions are the choice of the NRA, the actions of the NRA, the apathy of the NRA. Even if some, most, or all of its members disagreed with those choices, they would still be the NRA's choices.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:46 AM on May 9 [13 favorites]


That they don't proves my point, QED.

Why are you saying that your identification of correlation equals causation, Feckless? Slap a "QED" on there and it sounds like a proof.
posted by mr. digits at 9:54 AM on May 9


I care about suicides. It is disingenuous and mean to suggest that I or many other people in my position (many of whom are NRA members) do not.

You're always the special snowflake who's different, aren't you?


Jesus fucking Christ, feckless, I don't care where you fall on this or any other issue, that was a cruel and uncalled for thing to say to someone who works suicide hotlines. I'm ashamed for you, and you owe Corb an unqualified apology.
posted by Ryvar at 9:56 AM on May 9 [12 favorites]


Why are you saying that your identification of correlation equals causation, Feckless? Slap a "QED" on there and it sounds like a proof.

Uh, try reading again? My meaning is perfectly clear. If you want it again:

If the NRA cared about firearm deaths (homicide, suicide, accident), they would actually do something about it. They're an industry lobbying association that advocates for fewer controls on guns.

These are not the actions of a group which gives any fucks about how many people die in the USA each year at the wrong end of a gun barrel.

Jesus fucking Christ, feckless, I don't care where you fall on this or any other issue, that was a cruel and uncalled for thing to say to someone who works suicide hotlines. I'm ashamed for you, and you owe Corb an unqualified apology.

As someone who is actively suicidal and has been for most of his life (as in, I first started thinking about killing myself when I was twelve years old), no I owe her nothing. She somehow always has the One Special Anecdote from her life that somehow overrides silly things like statistics and the real world. The schtick has become tiresome, and I am not going to abologize for calling it out any more than whoever said upthread that her experiences are 'anomalous,' which was just a more candy-coated way of saying what I said. I'm not apologizing for anything.

I DGAF about her working suicide hotlines. It's orthogonal to the discussion at hand, which is that the NRA doesn't give any fucks. See also ROU_xenophobe's comment on the matter.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:02 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


If you wish to continue this derail any further, MeTa is two doors down on the left. I won't participate most likely, but you are more than welcome to open up a thread if you want.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:04 AM on May 9


All he's saying is that if you SEPARATE OUT the young black men, then AMERICA (which will be rid of the young black men) will be at good levels. you just need to somehow REMOVE this OUTLIER from the REAL united states rather than lumping them in as, like, citizens or something. Chocolate Pickle just HAPPENS to be SAYING that WOW, LOOK what happens to how good the country gets when you REMOVE the young black men.
I never said such a thing and I never thought such a thing.

My point is that when people hear an average they infer that it applies to the whole body. In other words, the inference is that the murder rate in Des Moines is just as bad as Chicago.

But it isn't true, and in the case of this particular statistic, it isn't even close. There are a lot of murders in this country, but most of them are concentrated in a few places. Since high gun ownership is pretty consistent all over the country (except in places like Massachusetts) and doesn't correlate with the places where the murder rate is high, then this statistic doesn't prove that lots of guns in private hands leads to a high murder rate.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:07 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


chocolate pickle, it's no use. they demand that you don't put words in their mouths, but they're happy to paint you as a genocidal monster. it's a waste of time to argue with prohibitionists, so just take quiet solace in the means you possess to resist their proposed unconstitutional actions.
posted by bruce at 10:14 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


[Guys, cool it.]
posted by cortex at 10:18 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: Even if some, most, or all of its members disagreed with those choices, they would still be the NRA's choices.

Yeah, I'm thinking if we had a 200-million-dolalr-plus lobbying outfit called the National Puppy Association that lobbied for the brutal torture of puppies, people wouldn't be sympathetic to this attempt to decouple the actions of the organization with the views of the people who pay to support it. (Please don't start a derail about how I'm comparing gun ownership to murdering puppies -- I'm just using it as a dummy example of organizational behavior that many members would disagree with.)

Those who donate to the NRA are of course free to disagree with the individual positions of the NRA, but when they send those dollars to the NRA, they are making a statement that, on balance, the NRA's positions (in aggregate) deserve their money. Some of that money goes to the parts of the NRA they say they support, and some goes to the parts they say they don't support. If money is speech for political purposes, then unless you have methods to earmark your money for things you support, you lose all right to say "the NRA doesn't speak for me" when you send them $25 of your speech.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:38 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Would any of you other gun owners (or non-owning pro- persons) care to participate in a MeTa providing details on what I presume are our varied points of view on what ought to be legal American ownership?

It isn't clear to me whether many users associate all owners with the NRA or not, but more information could hardly hurt, and this clearly an emotional and controversial topic.


on preview: well said, tonycpsu.
posted by mr. digits at 10:43 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


What's so impressive about this article, to me, is that the author makes a real attempt to understand the complexities of an issue he thought he understood, and ends up more sympathetic to a position he thought he didn't support.

Which is another way of saying: great FPP, but this thread sucks.
posted by swift at 10:50 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


mr. digits - that doesn't sound like a great use of MetaTalk.
posted by agregoli at 10:54 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Please explain -- would I be better advised to use AskMe? now that I've asked that sees kind of obvious...
posted by mr. digits at 10:56 AM on May 9


The point is, anyhow, that it isn't clear to me that some of the non-ownership crowd have a particularly detailed view of the matter as it is currently practiced by individuals.
posted by mr. digits at 10:57 AM on May 9


Since high gun ownership is pretty consistent all over the country (except in places like Massachusetts) and doesn't correlate with the places where the murder rate is high, then this statistic doesn't prove that lots of guns in private hands leads to a high murder rate.

What you are saying basically is that white people should be allowed to own guns but black people shouldn't be.
posted by empath at 10:58 AM on May 9


tonypcsu, does your somewhat absolutist position apply to all political organizations, or just the NRA? for example, if i contribute money to the democratic party because i support universal access to healthcare, have i thereby lost the right to oppose universal surveillance?
posted by bruce at 11:00 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I've avoided the back and forth arguing, but this thread did set itself up for that. You mean they might have a point is argumentative and condescending.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:11 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


As far as I know, the Democratic party, as an organization, is not actively lobbying for universal surveillance, nor are they lobbying against laws that would restrict that surveillance. And the Democratic Party is not the same kind of private lobbying organization that the NRA is, so I'm not sure what use it is comparing the two orgs.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:11 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


empath: What you are saying basically is that white people should be allowed to own guns but black people shouldn't be.

I doubt that's what many pro-gun folks think, honestly, because that would mean taking away someone's freedom to own a gun. What I'm reading from this demographic / geographic line of reasoning is that, based solely on the fact that those demographic/geographic differences exist, it can't possibly be that the additional guns have any effect beyond those other differences, and that studies that have shown an effect are improperly blaming guns when they should be blaming culture/poverty/geography/density/some other thing. The problem is, nobody's been able to marshal any kind of argument other than "nuh-uh." The blog author points to reasons why the conclusions could be compromised, but doesn't make any case that it is compromised. Saying there are other factors doesn't complete your argument that those other factors are primarily responsible.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:12 AM on May 9


bruce: tonypcsu, does your somewhat absolutist position apply to all political organizations, or just the NRA? for example, if i contribute money to the democratic party because i support universal access to healthcare, have i thereby lost the right to oppose universal surveillance?

I'll answer this a soon as you show me where I said that NRA members lose their right to oppose the NRA on issues where they disagree with it.

My point, which I thought I expressed rather clearly, is that sending the money is an act of support for the positions in whatever proportion the organization deems necessary. Those who oppose the NRA on X are free to withdraw their support until the NRA stops doing X, but they've made a calculation that, because the NRA is with them on Y, and possibly Z, they're okay with funding X. The same principle applies with support for the Democratic party, and I say that as a frequent donor to Democrats who opposes domestic surveillance.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:13 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


tonycpsu@10:38 a.m.: "...you lose all right to say 'the NRA doesn't speak for me' when you send them $25 of your speech."

wtf, tony? is there more than one person posting from your account?
posted by bruce at 11:21 AM on May 9


Here, let me use your own example. I donated to Barack Obama in 2012, at a time when I knew he was in charge of an administration that did some things I didn't like. When I sent him that money, I was supporting his candidacy for other positions he has that I do like. But I didn't have the option to vote for an alternate universe Obama that didn't do these things, so I sent the money.

In a way, that money supported those things I don't like. Of course, with electoral politics, the question, is what were my other options? I could have sent no money, taking no action to support those things I didn't like, but also taking no action to support the things I did like, which could have had the effect of hurting people by taking away their healthcare, etc. I could have donated to Mitt Romney, who was way worse on the things I liked about Obama, and would have been no better on the things I didn't like about Obama. Or I could have donated to a third party vanity candidate who reflected my views more closely than either, but had no chance of winning. I took the pragmatic option of voting for the best candidate who could win, knowing full well I was supporting someone who was doing things I didn't like.

The question is, do people donating to the NRA have any alternatives? I guess they do. There are other farther-right groups like GOA and the one Jacqueline mentioned in the other gun thread. There are presumably some much smaller, more moderate pro-gun organizations that I can't even think of the names of even though I follow this issue very closely. But, really, I'd liken these to a third-party vote in the election. It makes you feel better, but in reality, the NRA is where the action is, and the other groups don't have nearly as much leverage. I reckon the landscape of issue lobbying organizations is probably easier for a "third party" to break into than for someone to upset the two-party system in elections, but it's not all that fluid, either.

Which is all a long way of saying that there is no inconsistency between what I said about the NRA and what I feel about my own political donations.

To put a finer point on it, since you seem to want to parse me to death here: yes, my donation to Democrats supported drone attacks.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:33 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


so you claim for yourself the privilege of making nuanced contributions, but deny it to others in furtherance of your attempt to paint them as a monolithic evil. okay, bless your heart and have a nice day.
posted by bruce at 11:37 AM on May 9


bruce: so you claim for yourself the privilege of making nuanced contributions, but deny it to others in furtherance of your attempt to paint them as a monolithic evil. okay, bless your heart and have a nice day.

No, I actually said that donors to the NRA face the same dilemma of making their support matter on issues they care about vs. knowing some of the money will support things they'd rather not support. It's nuanced in both cases. At the end of the day, though, neither of us gets to say "I didn't support this thing this [political party / lobbying group] did with my money." I mean, you can say you don't support that thing, but your money did support it.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:41 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Why would anyone even think of needing a weapon? Wallet, keys, phone, umbrella (if it's looking like rain), but weapon …? In a developed society, you don't need to carry one. You're not going to get jumped just nipping down the shops. Who are you afraid of? What's made you so scared that you need to present yourself as a threat to everyone?

The media? Around here (Republican stronghold) they never fail to exaggerate any act that could possibly be construed as a threat to 'us'. Us being the white middle class.
posted by notreally at 12:00 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I've avoided the back and forth arguing, but this thread did set itself up for that. You mean they might have a point is argumentative and condescending.

I haven't even looked at the thread since posting last night (I try to do that to avoid moderating my own threads) but I do want to answer this by first saying, I am not the best at crafting posts. Then be saying what I meant by this:

That BOTH sides have useful contributions to the discussion and both sides have valid points, especially from their own point of view. Unfortunately the absolutists on both sides have taken over the public conversation. Virtually all the laws proposed since New Town have had very little to do with stopping violent crime but have had everything to do with making guns harder to own and use that do not contribute meaningfully to violent crime (like cosmetic feature based assault weapons bans) and are unwilling to make any compromise on changing or making uniform laws that make little sense and are usually arguing from a place of ignorance on the technical issues involved. And there is pretty good evidence that this measures are seen as steps toward making ownership illegal of all guns eventually. This is on the record from leaders of the movement like Diane Fienstein and Josh Sugarman (and their supporters on here). This makes it very hard for the pro gun rights side (of which I am unashamedly a part of-but am ashamed of some of my fellow supporters of this issue such as Cliven Bundy) is completely unwilling to make concessions on laws that do need changing (background checks for any commercial gun sale-like gun shows or internet boards) and improved background check databases for things like adjudicated mental health issues or violent personal histories.

This article seemed to capture that feeling I have about the issue quite well and backed up that reasoning in one place with a great deal of data, and admitted to missing data and in some cases poorly extrapolated data done in service to a pre-determined political agenda.
posted by bartonlong at 12:02 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


The NRA was a gun safety organization until they lobbied congress on behalf of American gun manufacturers to allow pistols made outside the USA to be sold here in order to meet the demands of a new angry inner-city market for cheap handguns, correctly predicting that fear of inner-city revolt would greatly increase suburban demand for expensive USA-made guns.

Aside from having created, for material gain, the gun violence that plagues our cities and the suicide/accident threat that looms over our suburbs, the NRA has always been a benevolent hunting and gun safety organization.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:14 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


"Wait a second. I'm pro-euthanasia, pro assisted suicide for terminal patients, etc., and would love for people in the U.S. who have a compelling reason to end their life to have a legal means to do so. But I didn't read Kirth Gerson's comment as saying that people shouldn't have a right to end their lives."

No, but he argued that gun deaths from suicide are not a meaningful distinction from homicide. They are, because even accepting that access to guns makes what we might call "wrongful suicide," i.e. suicide attempts that, were they not successful, would be reconsidered later, some proportion of those suicide by gun deaths are legitimate choices that individuals can make. That can be meaningfully contrasted with both homicide, where it's pretty much always an illegitimate choice (quibbles about self defense aside) and accidents, where there is no legitimate choice because the death itself is not a choice, but rather an accident. There are differences in policy and return-on-investment in how we choose to lower the incidence of each one. Because of that, Kirth's objection isn't a helpful one, but not because he said that people shouldn't have the right to end their lives.
posted by klangklangston at 12:16 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


bartonlong, I agree with most of what you've said there, with the exception of our differing stances on gun control itself, but I have a hard time calling Dianne Feinstein and Josh Sugarmann (the latter of whom I didn't recognize until I looked him up) as leaders of the gun control movement in 2014. Consider that the last attempt to pass a gun control bill was led by Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, both very pro-gun Senators. Dianne Feinstein has her own opinions, but she was marginalized in the most recent debate over the bill, which was ultimately filibustered due to unfounded fears about a national registry.

At this point, I'd consider Michael Bloomberg , Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, and the Newtown families as the public leaders of the gun control movement, and I don't think any of them are on record in favor of a nationwide ban. I feel like your perception of the state of the gun control movement is 10-15 years out of date, and that if you look at what the groups are saying now, you'll find no rhetoric about banning all guns. Maybe you still think that's what they want, but that's your interpretation.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:18 PM on May 9


I did think that the policy recommendations at the end of the article were some of the stronger points; even starting with a criminal requirement to report lost or stolen guns would be a big help. And he's entirely right that the assault weapons ban was entirely a farce in terms of effective policy.
posted by klangklangston at 12:24 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


I have a hard time calling Dianne Feinstein and Josh Sugarmann (the latter of whom I didn't recognize until I looked him up) as leaders of the gun control movement in 2014

Honestly, I think there's a significant difference between the leaders of the gun control movement (those people who are most influential/have the deepest pockets) and those people who are the public face of the gun control movement (those national legislators who lead other legislators and make loud, noisy statements about it). And part of the problem is the public faces are the ones doing most of the talking, and no one's quite sure if the leaders really think those things, but just are only saying them behind closed doors. (You see this honestly with, say, Republicans and reproductive rights. It's not like anyone considers Todd Akin a legitimate leader of the pro-life movement.)

However, when it comes to people like Bloomberg, it's really hard not to think that they share the more extreme views. Bloomberg was the king of NYC for some time, and restricted already restricted gun access. When people see that Bloomberg is a big player in the gun control game, they look at him in NYC and think, "This guy already had the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, and he wanted more?" There's a real, and I think justified, fear that his end goal is not one with rational standards.
posted by corb at 12:25 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


even starting with a criminal requirement to report lost or stolen guns would be a big help

Honestly, you know what would be a huge help? An amnesty program for reporting lost or stolen quasi-legal guns. As it stands, if someone has a gun that may have one or two features illegal in the state they live, and it gets stolen, they're not going to report it to the police, because they're more likely to be hauled in and arrested than helped. And you might think that either arrest is fine, but the person who has an illegal gun but never uses it in crimes is a lot less of a risk factor than someone who proved their criminality by stealing said gun.
posted by corb at 12:28 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: No, but he argued that gun deaths from suicide are not a meaningful distinction from homicide.

I think we're in hair-splitting territory here. I guess we'd need to know how many of those "wrongful suicides" there are, because if the percentage isn't that high, then I think that would comport with Kirth Gerson's statement that the distinction is of "incidental interest." Ultimately, we want to know whether access to the gun made a death more likely, and while we can certainly talk about homicide, suicide, and accident as categories, we don't need to do treat them differently if what we're trying to figure out is how to end up with less dead people, which is certainly where I'm coming from on this.

I did think that the policy recommendations at the end of the article were some of the stronger points; even starting with a criminal requirement to report lost or stolen guns would be a big help. And he's entirely right that the assault weapons ban was entirely a farce in terms of effective policy.

Absolutely. I think he takes a lot of intellectual shortcuts in getting there, but the specific reforms he proposes are things just about anyone on the gun control side would accept. My problems are with some of his framing and the intellectual shortcuts he takes in getting to those recommendations.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:31 PM on May 9


Bloomberg was the king of NYC for some time...

I believe you may have overstated the case a little, there, but of course, the rest of your arguments are completely rational...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:41 PM on May 9


...while we can certainly talk about homicide, suicide, and accident as categories, we don't need to do treat them differently if what we're trying to figure out is how to end up with less dead people...

Exactly. I hope KK is not really arguing that high levels of accidental and homicide death are acceptable because otherwise people might have to find some less convenient way of ending their own life. Because if they really want to do that badly enough, they will find some way to do it. Not all of them want to badly enough.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:48 PM on May 9


Suppose that Bloomberg's actual goal were total confiscation of guns. Is there any reason to think that he has the political juice to enact such a policy, given the failure of legislatures across the country to pass even minor reforms like strengthening background checks?

Is there any reason to think that passing a law strengthening background checks would make a draconian gun ban more likely to pass?
posted by burden at 12:53 PM on May 9


Why would anyone even think of needing a weapon? Wallet, keys, phone, umbrella (if it's looking like rain), but weapon …? In a developed society, you don't need to carry one. You're not going to get jumped just nipping down the shops. Who are you afraid of? What's made you so scared that you need to present yourself as a threat to everyone?

This. I cannot think of the last time when I felt I was in a situation that was so physically threatening that I wished that I had a weapon. Now granted, my demographics - economically well off, middle-aged, male, hangs out in "nice" urban and suburban neighborhoods - play a huge role in that, but I am always surprised that such a large portion of people in the US feel the need to be able to quickly and easily kill someone in order to feel day-to-day comfortable.
posted by rtimmel at 12:57 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Historically speaking, burden, there have been developments which graduated from minor stages as those became more generally accepted.

And on the more likely end, of course, the reason is to illustrate the Truth which reads "checkers sell better than chess".
posted by mr. digits at 12:58 PM on May 9


Is there any reason to think that passing a law strengthening background checks would make a draconian gun ban more likely to pass?

Reason? No, of course not, but reason doesn't enter into the "not one step back" mindset that corb and others adopt.
posted by kafziel at 1:00 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Historically speaking, burden, there have been developments which graduated from minor stages as those became more generally accepted.

Yeah, and historically speaking, there have been developments that stayed just as they were without ill effect and developments that were subsequently rolled back. If you're going to make a slippery slope argument, go ahead and explain it, don't just say that there's a slippery slope here.
posted by burden at 1:10 PM on May 9


they look at him in NYC and think, "This guy already had the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, and he wanted more?" There's a real, and I think justified, fear that his end goal is not one with rational standards.

Considering there are entire countries that seem to have gun-control laws quite similar to the NYC laws, and they seem to be functional and prosperous and haven't collapsed in a fit of the heebie-jeebies due to a lack of ready access to firearms, what makes Bloomberg's standards not "rational"?

As it stands, if someone has a gun that may have one or two features illegal in the state they live, and it gets stolen, they're not going to report it to the police, because they're more likely to be hauled in and arrested than helped.

A reputable cite for this would be nice, especially the "more likely" part.

But regardless, my read is that the author's idea for a mandatory "report gun stolen" law is based far more on collecting actual real-world data about where guns come from and where they go and how they get into the hands of whoever, rather than any concern about returning stolen property to its' rightful owner.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:13 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


If you're going to make a slippery slope argument, go ahead and explain it, don't just say that there's a slippery slope here.

So did you read the second bit and fail to understand it, ignore it as beating you to the point you like, or write your response poorly?
posted by mr. digits at 1:15 PM on May 9


My point is that when people hear an average they infer that it applies to the whole body. In other words, the inference is that the murder rate in Des Moines is just as bad as Chicago.

Of course, averages are averages. The problem with your argument is that the same would hold for the European numbers; they also will not be uniformly distributed. Taking a subset of the numbers in America and comparing them to the European overall average is not an accurate or fair comparison.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:16 PM on May 9


Why would anyone even think of needing a weapon? Wallet, keys, phone, umbrella (if it's looking like rain), but weapon …? In a developed society, you don't need to carry one. You're not going to get jumped just nipping down the shops. Who are you afraid of? What's made you so scared that you need to present yourself as a threat to everyone?

Well, here in Maine a lot of people apparently don't live in a "developed society."
posted by miss tea at 1:17 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I didn't understand your second sentence - it's apparently an idiom I'm not familiar with.
posted by burden at 1:18 PM on May 9


My apologies for being a butt, then -- the charitable interpretation is that people tend to believe simple explanations (or projections, in this case).
posted by mr. digits at 1:20 PM on May 9


TL:DR I think having a gun makes you somehow want/hope to find a moment where you can shoot someone.

This seems like almost exactly the same sort of disconnected-from-reality fantasy about people you've seen depicted in TV shows but never met in person as the idea that you need to carry a gun all the time because you're likely to someday encounter a gun battle at the mall or the grocery store.
posted by straight at 1:29 PM on May 9


I'm not so certain about it being false for all owners -- whenever I see someone comment on how powerful a gun makes them feel (and this does not seem uncommon) I suspect this type of bull.
posted by mr. digits at 1:31 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Why would anyone even think of needing a weapon? Wallet, keys, phone, umbrella (if it's looking like rain), but weapon …? In a developed society, you don't need to carry one. You're not going to get jumped just nipping down the shops. Who are you afraid of? What's made you so scared that you need to present yourself as a threat to everyone?

See my comments above. I live in a City that has consistently demonstrated it can't keep it's citizens safe. My city has a class schism where upper middle class lefties live in safe places and vote against police funding while violence persists far away from them. I have a right to keep myself safe.

And yeah, people get jumped just nipping down to the shops. Highest robbery rate in the US last year.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 1:33 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Man, this thread sure turned into a train wreck. I guess gun control is one of those things we can't do, like I/P.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:39 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


No problem - to pull in another gaming metaphor, I think a lot of people wrongly see politics as like a football game, where a yard gained by one side brings that side closer to achieving all of its goals.

For most issues, politics isn't like that. Let's say we passed stronger background checks and a mandatory theft-reporting law. And suppose those policies work to dramatically reduce gun violence. Isn't it likely that there won't be any appetite for more regulations since the problem is improved?

This is pretty much the story people tell about the enactment of Medicare forestalling the drive towards single-payer.
posted by burden at 1:40 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The right to privacy (routinely violated by the government, et.al.) the desire to see non-violence drug offenses decriminalized, the right to die, abortion and the philosophical basis for gun ownership seem to have the same tensions. That is, what the state can and can’t, or shouldn’t compel from an individual on behalf of others.

Do you need a gun? Do you need privacy? Do you need to get high?
It’s strange to see how values shift where one’s desire to see the government compel outweighs one’s own perspective. I don’t smoke marijuana. The perception is that I would not be harmed by compelling others to stop. And yet I am harmed in a real way. Money is taken in the form of taxes to use law enforcement and the prisons to prevent others from using.

In the FPP the right of people to own guns is blocked by bureaucratic resistance and while this is applauded or disapproved of depending on one’s stance on the issue – it’s interesting to see that the approval/disapproval is often independent of the mechanism.

That is, no one seems to mind depriving someone of their thing by other means as long as they agree with the deprivation itself. The means, though, everyone seems just fine with. As though it were an *intentional* part of the system.
Janet Murdock, for example.
Her suicide was legal. But doctors in her area refused to help her. Which mean, for all practical intents, she couldn’t exercise her right and died in pain.
One of the slogans in the pro-gun argument is “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” It’s a garish cliché typical of most slogans, but the logic is basically you don’t know if you’re in the legal right, but you know what will practically occur.

In the Murdock case, the ethics are debatable, I tend to favor the Hemlock side but certainly I recognize there are arguments. That said, the practical effects are unquestionable.
So too, any laws written in favor of government action need to recognize the practical effects. The drug laws created a draconian enforcement and incarceration system. The legal tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism destroyed a great deal of privacy.
A great deal of our subject oriented debates completely omit the idea of what tools we will use to compel whatever ends in striving for whatever moral high ground to show our cause is more just.
Even when a given subject is 100% right or wrong, the means to achieve a goal or rectification can still be more harmful than the thing itself. Most particularly where there is no clear and specific line of demarcation.
Where does the governments' right to keep track of who you call and when, your associations, etc. in order to keep you safe stop?
And does not the perception alone have a potential chilling effect on speaking your mind? If you don't know who's listening, you might talk less, or avoid sensitive topics, or avoid talking to certain people or from certain locations, etc.
The confusion itself is an element of the suppression of the right.

I’ve always found it tragically ironic the laws banning batons f’rinstance, but allowing firearms. You can’t put on a pair of brass knuckles without risking a mandatory two and a half years in prison. The .44 magnum is just fine though. (Also prohibited: cestus (because y’know, all the damn gladiators) manrikigusari (damn ninja), zoobows (… shrug) ).
I would argue that this break between the legalities of police protection and the need for self-defense and the practical realities is one of the reasons impoverished areas have so much crime.

Certainly some of that is perception. But in some ways the perception too drives the reality. If you’re not expecting the police to show up to help, you’re not going to call them. If you don’t call them, logically, they’re not showing up and it the perspective becomes self-fulfilling.

And a great deal of it is a reality of the system, which develops the mindset both ways. No one’s spending a nickel to fund teachers in your area, why would/should they spend more on police protection instead of just keeping you in your neighborhood?

For the most part any change in law tends towards the government doing more instead of doing less and there isn’t much of a process to change that. That is, removing outdated laws as a matter of course rather than happenstance or popular action.

Security and social support are interlinked and mutually dependent, an infringement (or a neglect) of one can be both cause and consequence of an infringement on the other.

Many other countries have gun control. Many other countries have draconian laws (Japan) or health care (England) or other kinds of social contracts that restrict government powers in certain ways while extending support in others.
In many ways there's a recognition of that reciprocal nature that doesn't exist in the U.S., at least as far as policy goes.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:44 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Suppose that Bloomberg's actual goal were total confiscation of guns. Is there any reason to think that he has the political juice to enact such a policy, given the failure of legislatures across the country to pass even minor reforms like strengthening background checks?

I think that this sentence really illustrates how pro-control advocates really have, in many ways, a fundamental problem understanding 2A/pro-gun advocates. Your framing lists strengthening background checks as a "minor reform." But for many, it's absolutely, positively, not a minor battle. Giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you're not trying to be disingenuous or deceptive, opening with that prompts a sigh and a "They're not even listening."

The argument that these are only "minor reforms" assumes that the status quo position is either okay for everyone, or beneficial for gun owners or those who would like to be gun owners. That is not how we feel. This is a really good illustrated guide of how a lot of us feel. We are seeing these laws, not in a vacuum, but as stacked on top of other laws.

Is there any reason to think that passing a law strengthening background checks would make a draconian gun ban more likely to pass?

Honestly, the most useful analogy I've ever heard for guns and legislation around guns is a comparison with abortion. For example - I think few people would argue, if approached in confidence, that an assault on a pregnant woman that rid her of a future child that she wanted is horrific and should be punished more harshly than an assault which did not do this. But at the same time, many individuals who might agree still often vehemently fight laws that support criminalizing that behavior - because they are worried it will eventually be extended to women seeking abortions.

Laws that require background checks be performed, on computer or at a local law enforcement office, for private sales, are laws that suddenly mean that everyone acquiring a firearm in the country is counted on a list. And that's a bridge too far for many people who know that cosmetic bans on guns are happening every day, and law abiding citizens today may turn into criminals tomorrow simply for getting a day older.
posted by corb at 1:55 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


We have had mandatory background checks for the purchase of guns from dealers for more than 20 years in this country.

This somehow did not lead to a master list of gun owners being developed.

Why would expanding background checks to cover guns purchased from non-dealers necessarily lead to the development of such a list?

Nobody's asking for the benefit of the doubt. We're asking people to assess the proposed policy on its own merits without engaging in useless and self-serving mindreading about what you imagine the true intentions of other people to be.
posted by burden at 2:05 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


But at the same time, many individuals who might agree still often vehemently fight laws that support criminalizing that behavior - because they are worried it will eventually be extended to women seeking abortions.

WHAT? You're really going to have to back that one up, because I flat out do not believe it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:16 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I think you're confusing opposition to "personhood" laws with other kinds of fetus-related laws. In any case, the analogy doesn't seem to be a great one, and that comic is absurd. (Also, keep in mind that the people represented by the guy in the final panel - who are "done with being reasonable" - are armed.)
posted by Corinth at 2:30 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


And here's the Self-Defense Poster Boy of the week.
Someone had entered their open garage — the couple kept it open so they could duck out to smoke cigarettes — and stolen a wallet and credit cards, Mr. Ryan, the lawyer said. The break-ins rattled the couple, who are first-time parents with a 10-month-old.
. . .
Inside the house, motion sensors alerted Markus Kaarma, 29, to an intruder’s presence. Two recent burglaries had put Mr. Kaarma and his young family on edge, his lawyer said, and he grabbed a shotgun from the dining room and rushed outside. He aimed into the garage and, according to court documents, fired four blasts into the dark. Mr. Dede’s body crumpled to the floor.
. . .
A hairstylist named Felene Sherbondy told the police that Mr. Kaarma had come into the Great Clips salon three days before the shooting and talked about how he had been waiting up with his shotgun for three nights “to shoot some kid.”
One has to wonder what treasures in his castle's stable he was protecting, given that he almost certainly blew holes in the family carriage in the process of dispatching the intruder.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:30 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


This is a really good illustrated guide of how a lot of us feel.

That comic appears to be missing the panel where the cake makes people bleed to death from small holes in their flesh
posted by Greg Nog at 2:39 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


WHAT? You're really going to have to back that one up, because I flat out do not believe it.

Sure, no problem. This appears largely taken from Planned Parenthood's press release:
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today denounced President Bush's signing of S. 1019, the so-called Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA), which gives separate legal status to a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus, even if the woman does not know she is pregnant.

"The so-called Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) is not intended to protect pregnant women from domestic violence or punish individuals who harm them," said PPFA President Gloria Feldt. "It is part of a deceptive anti-choice strategy to make women's bodies mere vessels by creating legal personhood for the fetus.
However, the UVVA specifically states it cannot be used to apply to abortions where the mother consented.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the prosecution—
(3) of any woman with respect to her unborn child.
posted by corb at 2:49 PM on May 9


Looking up some of the laws the comic refers to (which means I already lost, really), apparently part of the cake is grenades and missiles.
posted by Corinth at 2:51 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


The abortion discussion is a total derail. Pro-choice groups opposed the UVVA not because it could conceivably lead to future regulations being passed, but because it defines the embryo/fetus as a child.

Let's stop indulging attempts to confuse the issue being discussed here by throwing in unrelated hot-button issues.
posted by burden at 2:59 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


"This is a really good illustrated guide of how a lot of us feel. We are seeing these laws, not in a vacuum, but as stacked on top of other laws. "

Yeah, except, the cake murders people and each one of those compromises has still left the vast majority of the cake, with which people are still murdered.

So if a lot of you feel like the way the comic depicts, a lot of you have a child-like understanding of laws and firearms, and aren't mature enough to own lethal weapons.
posted by klangklangston at 3:36 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


An interesting article and lively discussion about guns and death. Two things the author neglects, I believe, and to the detriment of true understanding.

The first is that most people who feel the 2nd Amendment is an absolute right for individuals to carry weapons believe it is a right for either a) self-protection or b) rebellion against an over-reaching government, and some believe both are compelling reasons. The author never addresses a), which, in my opinion, is the only one not driven by blind paranoia and ignorance. If you look at the pie chart (ugh) on types of firearm deaths, the fraction that are due to anything other than suicide, homicide, or accident is very small. If this "unclassified" category may contain some defensive uses, but, surveying the news reports, the number must be very small and the occasion of an actual defensive killing receives considerable press. This is in contrast to the claims of gun owners on national surveys that would indicate, depending upon the methods used to project to the entire country, hundreds of thousands to millions of defensive gun uses every year. This seems implausible to me, but there is no hard data to confirm or refute this number. Yet it is an important number in the face of the nearly 2% of deaths due to accident, because it speaks to the cost-benefit trade-off of owning a gun for safety reasons. All the epidemiologic evidence would suggest that the harms far outweigh the benefits, especially when considering the increase in successful suicide that is associated with gun ownership.

A related topic is the number of injuries, which the author also fails to address. Every day there are news reports of non-fatal injuries inflicted by privately owned firearms, often from children finding a gun in the home and playing with it, but nearly as often a legal owner shooting self or loved one through carelessness. This chance also needs to be weighed in as harm against the benefits of having a gun to ward off people who would do harm.

Without a clear-eyed balancing of harms and benefits, large swaths of the population that believe that owning a firearm makes them safer. What data we do have seems to indicate the opposite.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:40 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


"If you look at the pie chart (ugh) on types of firearm deaths, the fraction that are due to anything other than suicide, homicide, or accident is very small."

It's my understanding that self-defense killings are generally coded as justifiable homicide, so they're in that category.
posted by klangklangston at 3:43 PM on May 9


A general question for the anti-gun, just out of curiosity: bolt-action rifles, nothing questionable like .50 caliber -- for or against?
posted by mr. digits at 3:55 PM on May 9


What's the catch?
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:08 PM on May 9


I don't know that there is one -- people could start shooting each other at 200 yards?
posted by mr. digits at 4:12 PM on May 9


Well, my official response: the penetration through walls (if using for home defense?) would be dangerous in populated areas.
posted by mr. digits at 4:14 PM on May 9


I really the satisfying k-chak of bolt-action rifles to be DEEPLY satisfying! I much prefer using rifles to handguns at the shooting range!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:15 PM on May 9


If this "unclassified" category may contain some defensive uses, but, surveying the news reports, the number must be very small and the occasion of an actual defensive killing receives considerable press.

This is assuming that the only viable defensive use of a firearm results in death, which just isn't the case. Most defensive firearm uses do not result in a shot being fired, but the mere presence of the firearm causes the situation (or at least the perpetrator) to go away.

I believe the author speaks to this when he cites a number of between 80,000 and 1 million defensive uses a year depending on whose number you believe. And even the lower number is way more than the homicide number, several times in fact. To say that firearms don't have a beneficial effect is to be as wrong as saying they are harmless.
posted by bartonlong at 4:18 PM on May 9


the satisfying k-chak of bolt-action rifles to be DEEPLY satisfying!

Try shooting lever action sometime.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:20 PM on May 9


each one of those compromises has still left the vast majority of the cake

How would you define or justify that? Starting from a position of full parity of armament, without registration or background check requirements or disqualifying factors, how would you explain why you think the vast majority of the cake is still left?
posted by corb at 4:20 PM on May 9


Cite please. This "perhaps... maybe..." formulation reeks of truthiness.

It reeked of typing on my phone, but about a subject (the demographics of poverty, and the spatial and social concentration of violence) that I know well. I wasn't inventing those numbers out of thin air, and there was no need for rudeness.

It's utterly unimportant at this point in the discussion, but since exact numbers were requested, it looks like the total inner city (defined by concentration of poverty) population is about seven percent of the total US population (citation). The infographic here has numbers as well. Delineating by "center city" instead (which is the core areas of MSAs, including both poor and rich areas), you get about sixteen percent of the total population and 39 percent of gun murders. The analysis in that last Atlantic link is really good and worth reading:

Commenting on this last graph, the Harvard sociologist and urban crime expert Robert Sampson noted in an email that many of the cities with high murder rates suffer from devastating inequality, concentrated poverty, and heavily damaged social infrastructures:

"The places way above the line for gun murders, like Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Newark, St. Louis, and Chicago, all have large, very segregated black communities with a history of disinvestment, outmigration, and, except for Chicago, not big immigration in recent decades. With the exception of the South Bronx, New York never had demographic collapse on the same scale. What the Detroit's and Baltimore's of American cities also had was extremely high concentrated poverty that mapped onto race."

Murder in these cities is also highly concentrated geographically, as a recent New York Times’'s story on Chicago's killing divide illustrates. The detailed map that ran alongside that story documents the stark concentration of murder in the disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city's south and west sides, noting that: "Residents living near homicides in the last 12 years were much more likely to be black, earn less money and lack a college degree." The murder rate was much lower in more affluent, professional, and college educated neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and Hyde Park near The University of Chicago, which saw less than one murder per year.

Sampson's research on Chicago documents the persistence of these neighborhood effects: He says, "The concentration pattern of murder has been remarkably stable over time, and it might also be worth noting that the same holds true for other indicators of social disadvantage, such as infant mortality, low birth-weight, and so on. The clustering of homicides and poor infant health reinforces ongoing patterns of cumulative disadvantage." These are places Grist's Susie Cagle poignantly dubbed "America’s urban sacrifice zones."


He includes links for all of the related articles and studies, and it is all worth the time to read, and easily worth an FPP. Violence is complicated, and reducing it to "guns good" vs "guns bad" misses the point so badly that it hurts.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:27 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


“We have had mandatory background checks for the purchase of guns from dealers for more than 20 years in this country.
This somehow did not lead to a master list of gun owners being developed.”

No 'somehow' to it. It's taken effort to prevent.
I don't think there's any reason to think a list of gun owners would magically not be used for political purposes.

Plenty of laws have lead to more invasive laws. And I don't there there's a serious question whether people who get into power are willing to play games with the law or not.
Marijana wasn't 'officially' illegal until the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Before then you just had to have a license to transfer it, but no way to get the license.

Certainly, bad laws have been repealed and abuses have been curbed. The blue laws. Anti-homosexuality laws and other discriminatory laws have been reversed.
But it’s taken work.

And the cynical side of me suspects that the quick fix is doofy gun control laws / rabid pro-gun opposition that are bound to fail to change the status quo so politicians on whatever respective side can look like they're trying to do something while the eternal struggle against 'evil' goes ever on.
Y'know, kinda like we do with foreign policy.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:20 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


  I have a right to keep myself safe

Absolutely. But you might be better served by moving away from a war zone than living in fear every day that someone with a bigger weapon's going get the drop on you.
posted by scruss at 7:30 PM on May 9


This is a really good illustrated guide of how a lot of us feel.

Okeydoke.

Well, first, although this is not really relevant to the discussion, that cartoon strikes me as really friggin' sexist. The gun control supporter isn't a man approaching the subject with forthright honesty - no, it's a girl, demanding and demanding and sneakily tricking the guy into giving up all of his cake piece by piece, and then "whining" and giving the gun guy "anime eyes" and "puppyface.jpg" and crying ("baww~") and talking in juvenile text-speak. No, proponents of gun control are clearly womanly, which means sneaky and manipulative and greedy and childish. That's a sexist world-view if I ever saw one.

Second, considering the cartoon literally ends with a table-flipping raging temper tantrum, you're not exactly strengthening the position that gun advocates are mature, rational, even-tempered, responsible adults capable of discussing the issue with equanimity. That guy in the cartoon is the last guy I want to see with his hands on a deadly weapon, since he clearly goes into full meltdown when things don't go his way. I'm supposed to sympathize with him? No way. Dude needs serious anger management therapy, stat.

Third, here's how that cartoon would look written from the other perspective:

Gun Control: "OK, the Constitution says you can have cake, but they didn't really leave us detailed instructions about how much cake and when you can have it, so we should figure out a fair compromise that balances the needs of the many against the rights of the few, like everything else in our society, like the entire point of this grand American experiment in democracy. So, how much cake do you think is fair for you to have?"

Gun Guy: "ALL OF IT."

Gun Control: "Um. "All of it" doesn't really match anyone's definition of "fair" or "compromise", so that won't fly. Look, here's some papers and studies that suggest a lot of your fellow citizens, your neighbors and family and friends, might be just a little safer if you don't actually get to keep all the cake. Whadaya think? Can you give up a little?"

Gun Guy: "NO. ALL THE CAKE, THE WHOLE CAKE, AND NOTHING BUT THE CAKE. MINE. ALL OF IT."

Gun Control: "C'mon, dude - I know you love cake but you gotta work with me here."

Gun Guy: "*SIGH* FINE. HERE'S A TINY SLIVER THAT SAYS THAT PRIVATE CITIZENS CAN'T HAVE ANTI-TANK GUNS AND SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES. AT LEAST NOT IN THEIR RESIDENCES. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?"

Gun Control: "Well, good, that's a start, but you gotta admit that you're giving up a really tiny tiny piece of cake, and it won't actually have much practical effect, because nobody's got anti-tank guns and SAMs anyway. How about compromising on something a little more substantial, like magazine limits? You still have lots and lots of cake, you can still shoot stuff, lots of stuff, only just not quite so much stuff without reloading, which might actually save a few lives on the rare occurrence of someone going on a shooting spree."

Gun Guy: "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE ALL MY CAKE AWAY FROM ME!!!???"

Gun Control: *headdesk*
posted by soundguy99 at 8:10 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Question for anyone who thinks that handguns are any sort of defence against being mugged: do you really think you can draw a handgun and fire successfully when someone already has one trained on you? Are you willing to bet your life on this? If not how do you intend to use it?

And if some people carry concealed then muggers need to be that much more ruthless about shooting people that twitch. In short you are endangering me while doing less than nothing to protect yourself. While if we simply eliminate handguns for everyone we are all safer.

And for that cake cartoon that cake was prepared by Hannibal Lector using a refinement of a recipie by Sweeny Todd. All the puppy dog eyes, impassioned pleas, or rants in the world aren't going to make me think that you eating it is a good idea or something I should let a human do.
posted by Francis at 8:28 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Question for anyone who thinks that handguns are any sort of defence against being mugged: do you really think you can draw a handgun and fire successfully when someone already has one trained on you? Are you willing to bet your life on this? If not how do you intend to use it?

There were people carrying guns when Gabby Whatsit was shot. There were people carrying guns at the Aurora shootings.

What scares me, sometimes, is American tourists. Who knows how many are bringing guns across the border. If you seem to be Middle America (and white) Customs isn't going to give you more than a cursory check.

And then we have people with CCWs walking the streets in my city, putting me in danger.

We have far more restrictive gun laws in Canada and we haven't imploded (beat you on the gay marriage thing too, I'm pretty sure, ten years ago). Australia simply banned and bought back entire classes of guns after a single mass shooting--and they didn't implode either.

There is literally not one good reason for people to carry handguns as a daily thing (unless you're a cop, obvs). There is literally not one good reason for the government to pay attention to the 'militia' part of the 2A and regulate guns based on that. Or just have a Constitutional Convention, with a new clause that repeals the 2A.

A truly ridiculous number of people die in the USA every year due to guns. The pro-gun types tend to pull a No True Scotsman at that point, but I'm going to ask you directly:

Why do you oppose laws that will result in fewer suicides and homicides? Why does your right (and again, everyone ignores the 'militia' part of the 2A; it means the government can't pass laws restricting firearm usage by such militias) to carry a weapon designed only to kill people trump everyone else's right to be safe and alive?

What number of deaths is the acceptable collateral damage for you to carry a gun?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:01 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I don't think we need to be afraid of American tourists, but incidents like the Mark Wawra one in Calgary should make it clear that there is a cultural divide we need to keep in mind. And people do like to bring their guns when they go on holiday. (And I know at least two Calgarians who have illegal handguns, so it's not like we're immune from the reaction to fear motivation.)
posted by sneebler at 6:44 AM on May 10


I live in Toronto; believe me I know we're not immune to handguns--most of which are smuggled out of the USA, so thanks for that one, guys.

I'd like to discontinue this derail because I really want the pro-gun/anti-control people in this thread to answer the questions I posted above your comment.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:56 AM on May 10


Why does your right (and again, everyone ignores the 'militia' part of the 2A; it means the government can't pass laws restricting firearm usage by such militias) to carry a weapon designed only to kill people trump everyone else's right to be safe and alive?

I think this was meant to be a big zinger of a question, but until or unless you change the membership of the Supreme Court, the legal interpretation of the second amendment is not going to change, and as such the options for tightening gun control are severely constrained. The current legal and policy decisions have been made in the context of our high (but declining) gun death rate, not in ignorance of it, and at a political level that tradeoff has proven to be acceptable.

Would I do things differently if I were in charge? Of course. But at the moment, there simply isn't a realistic path that I can see towards any sort of radical change in gun laws in the US (such as banning handguns or even banning concealed carry). Cosmetic laws, sure -- there's a history of those and I expect more, and at some point I think you'll see at least some expansion of background checks (assuming there is not a Snowden-style revelation of illegal compilation and use of gun ownership records, say). But you aren't going to see the kinds of changes that it would take to have even Canadian-style gun laws here, much less Australian or UK restrictions.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:16 AM on May 10


Why do you oppose laws that will result in fewer suicides and homicides?

Many laws, if passed, could result in fewer suicides and homicides. Public access to mental healthcare being chief among those in my humble opinion. But all theoretical laws do not have only positive effects. For instance, we could pass a law requiring every human to record every moment of their life, starting next year, with a wearable camera, and a rider that says you become a primary suspect if you cannot provide footage at the time an incident occurred nearby. This footage would be accessible anytime by an overview group. However, this law would also have negative effects on our ability to maintain privacy, and would be likely deemed undesirable. We could also just force everyone onto mild sedatives, with likely similar reductions in homicide rates. I don't know enough about suicidal ideation to know if sedatives are a positive or negative there, but again, it comes at a cost. Pro-firearm people are saying they believe the negatives outweigh the positives. Many laws could result in fewer suicides and homicides, doesn't mean they're all a good idea.

Why does your right ... to carry a weapon designed only to kill people trump everyone else's right to be safe and alive?

This question is a transparent version of "Why do you beat your wife?", where your question itself is built on the premise that your argument is correct. Obviously pro-firearm people don't think their firearms trump, or infringe, on anyone or everyone else's right to be safe and alive. But even looking past that, without firearms, we are left merely to physical force. So our "right to be safe and alive" is limited instead by our physical ability to defend ourselves, in your example. I'm not sure how that's better. My wife can't magically grow twelve inches and 20 pounds of muscle, she will always be at a disadvantage physically. But clearly we should leave self-defense to genetics.

What number of deaths is the acceptable collateral damage for you to carry a gun?

Again, this assumes your premise is correct--that I as a theoretical gun-carrier (even though I don't nor have ever actually carried) must accept some arbitrary number or fractional number of deaths as "collateral damage", again, as though there is some sort of explosive miasma shrouding firearms which will, with regularity, claim lives independent of human interaction. Looking past that as before, I believe that pro-firearm people would respond that attackers themselves elect themselves as "collateral damage" when they attack someone holding a firearm. This is certainly how law enforcement officers view the situation. You seem to want to lead a life limited by what you don't want your (hypothetical, of course) unsmart neighbor to have access to. I posit that that is a dangerous way to live, far more dangerous than any Wild West in the long run.
posted by Phyltre at 8:22 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


rtimmel: This. I cannot think of the last time when I felt I was in a situation that was so physically threatening that I wished that I had a weapon. Now granted, my demographics - economically well off, middle-aged, male, hangs out in "nice" urban and suburban neighborhoods - play a huge role in that, but I am always surprised that such a large portion of people in the US feel the need to be able to quickly and easily kill someone in order to feel day-to-day comfortable.
Rich white man cannot imagine what life is like for others. This is not surprising - nor does it make you racist or "bad". It's a symptom of "white privilege", or less racially put, it's a symptom of the fact that your life doesn't expose you to all that's out there, good and bad. Nor is it particularly useful.

What is needed is an understanding of how and why gun violence happens. And it begins with us understanding that our individual feelings of safety, and threat realities, aren't universal - like scruss who can't imagine someone needing a gun for safety (not just Maine, but clearly Alaska and large parts of Canada are beyond his or her imagination). Of course, gun violence is not an overwhelming problem in most of those cases... making the issue even stickier ("gun ownership" is an overbroad proxy for "gun violence").

We need to address those issues in areas where gun violence is a major problem - with both law and social programs. Laws, however, won't be as effective on a local level - they aren't likely to affect access to guns, so they need to be applied more broadly. And of course, in the US those laws inherently encounter opposition from the Second Amendment, just as attempts to limit hate speech and threats of violence necessarily must pass First Amendment challenges.

--

Instead, any discussion ends up with entrenched sides accusing the opposite of "not caring about gun violence"/"wanting to take my guns and rights away", with rampant accusations of racism and 10x the personal insults that would be acceptable in most other threads.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:48 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Rich white man cannot imagine what life is like for others. This is not surprising - nor does it make you racist or "bad". It's a symptom of "white privilege", or less racially put, it's a symptom of the fact that your life doesn't expose you to all that's out there, good and bad. Nor is it particularly useful.
If seems really odd to suggest that support for gun control is a symptom of white privilege, given that black and Latino Americans consistently support increased gun control at much higher rates than white Americans do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:02 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Again, this assumes your premise is correct--that I as a theoretical gun-carrier (even though I don't nor have ever actually carried) must accept some arbitrary number or fractional number of deaths as "collateral damage"

Except that my premise is correct. If you support the right to own guns, you are indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year in suicides alone. Now, I will grant that some of those people would have found another way to do it. But there have been studies done on failed suicides (bridge jumpers I think), and the only thing they thought on the way down is some variation on "What the actual fuck am I doing?"

With a gun, you don't even have that moment of 'oops.' With a gun, it's flat-out over. You can't call 911 and say you've just eaten a mountain of pills.

Many if not most suicides (for causes other than e.g. terminal cancer) are impulsive. Most suicide methods are unreliable or highly painful or both. A gun? Bang, it's over. As I said upthread, I would have been dead as early as two decades ago if Canada had the unbelievably lax laws that the USA does.

So. 20K suicides per year--plus homicides, plus accidents--is a number that you find acceptable when supporting the 2A?

Forgive me if I find that as grotesque as the recent death penalty thread, which cited statistics that 4% of people on death row are in fact innocent. That 4% is collateral damage stemming from support of the death penalty. In the same way that the tens and tens and tens of thousands of firearms deaths in the USA stem from supporting the 2A.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:35 AM on May 10


Yeah, saying that a rich white man can't imagine what it's like to be a modal gun owner is pretty silly, since that's saying that a well off white man can't imagine what it's like to be a median income white man in a suburb or exurb.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:36 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


I don't know if support for gun control is a white privilege thing, but it's absolutely, one hundred percent, a class privilege thing.

If you live in a nice, safe neighborhood, with police that respond to your complaints nearly immediately, and the government exists to protect you and your desires. If all of your personal belongings are insured, and all a burglary means is a temporary inconvenience. If you being mugged means the irritation of replacing ID cards, not the terror of not paying the rent.

If you know that you are valued - that a crime against you or your photogenic children will be plastered all over the television, lamp poles, with $20,000 rewards for anyone who gives a tip, investigated with the full force of the law. If you know that you're on the top of the heap, that it doesn't matter who the government will be going after next, because it's definitely not going to be you. If you know that you will always have enough money for food, that you will never need to hunt or scrounge for it.

If you know you will always have someone else to protect you, so you won't have to do it yourself.

Then you will have a difficult time understanding why someone might feel they need a firearm. And that lack of understanding is rooted in privilege.
posted by corb at 9:50 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Then you will have a difficult time understanding why someone might feel they need a firearm. And that lack of understanding is rooted in privilege

please to be explaining why so many other developed countries have strict, and mostly successful, gun control laws supported at all levels of society? You can start with Australia, the UK, and Canada for your comparisons, as they are largely similar to the USA, in broad strokes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:57 AM on May 10


So. 20K suicides per year--plus homicides, plus accidents--is a number that you find acceptable when supporting the 2A?

I think people have a right to self-determination, which I think also includes the right to commit suicide. So I don't find the suicide argument compelling. I don't think it's meaningful to protect someone from themselves and their own deliberate actions. Me giving someone the ability to end their life doesn't make me responsible for their choice to do so. I think that we need better public mental health services, and to be less condemning of depression in general, but I don't hold the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun "indirectly responsible" for gangster crime.

As for homicides and accidents, I don't think they're any more or less avoidable than crimes involving negligence or sheer accidents while driving. Homicide is already illegal, drunk driving is already illegal. The next step of making cars or guns illegal would have a series of consequences I don't think most people would be willing to accept in the short or medium term. We could make mountain biking, or motorcycles, or small passenger planes illegal; they're far more dangerous in an accident than a car would be and their purpose is debatable for the future. But again, there are secondary and tertiary effects.

So. It is not that I find any number of suicides, homicides, or accidents "acceptable". Please note that you have again asked a loaded question here by assuming both a positive statement and my response to it. It is more that I do not believe that dissolving the 2A would have a positive effect for the foreseeable future. It would likely take 40 years or more--my entire base life expectancy on the lower end--before criminals would not continue to have easy access to guns, given our proximity to Mexico and a wide range of other factors unique to the US at this point in history. During that time, no law abiding citizen would have guns (assuming we really did dissolve the 2A as you're implying we would, such that people who wanted to commit suicide with one couldn't.)

And before you say "that's a compromise I'm willing to make", realize that neither you nor I know what the outcome would be. Paranoia and crime might skyrocket, making things worse, if media coverage continues to be as exploitative as it is today. Guns might come back, except this time fueled by media ratings-grabbers selling fear on the streets. It wouldn't be the first time that public opinion existed on a pendulum. Organized crime in the US could see a resurgence. Law enforcement abuse could see a resurgence. Sadly, we cannot look to other countries' outcome as guaranteed to be our own.

What I think you may not apprehend is that law-abiding gun owners don't want to shoot people. In fact short of gun-sport enthusiasts (who continue to exist in other countries anyway), the average self-defense gun owner DOES NOT WANT to need to operate their firearm, and does not want firearms to need to exist. A vanishingly small portion of people want to risk their life and the lives of their loved ones in a gunfight. The crux of the problem is that the law acts first against legal actors, and only secondarily against the criminals who are the problem in the first place. In the US, right now, it's just not as simple as "make guns harder to get to."
posted by Phyltre at 10:08 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


I don't know if support for gun control is a white privilege thing, but it's absolutely, one hundred percent, a class privilege thing.

That is some first-class question-begging.
Most Latino voters favor tougher gun laws, poll finds
78% of blacks support stricter gun controls, as opposed to 48% of whites

Please do tell us more about how Hispanic and Black people are actually rich White people.


As for homicides and accidents, I don't think they're any more or less avoidable than crimes involving negligence or sheer accidents while driving.

Well, of course not, if you believe that the primary purpose of automobiles is the maiming and killing of living beings. If you believe that, then it's perfectly reasonable to make automobile travel equivalent to carrying firearms. Otherwise, people might question your motives.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:21 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I think people have a right to self-determination, which I think also includes the right to commit suicide.

I do too. But. When you have a mental illness that is so severe you attempt suicide (which I have, and have seriously attempted it three times), you are not a rational actor making a rational decision about your life; you are at the mercy of your neurochemistry being out of whack.

Sadly, we cannot look to other countries' outcome as guaranteed to be our own.

I was waiting for the American Exceptionalism defence. NB: you are not special snowflakes. You are in fact similar to many other countries, and what has been learned there can be applied in the USA.

Paranoia and crime might skyrocket, making things worse, if media coverage continues to be as exploitative as it is today. Guns might come back, except this time fueled by media ratings-grabbers selling fear on the streets. It wouldn't be the first time that public opinion existed on a pendulum. Organized crime in the US could see a resurgence. Law enforcement abuse could see a resurgence.

Could you please cite somerthing reasonably decent suggesting that any of those imaginary things have come to happen in countries with strict gun control? Certainly hasn't happened in Australia, for example, which just flat-out banned entire classes of guns after one mass shooting incident. Remind me, how many mass shootings occur in the USA every year?

And I think what you don't apprehend is that there are far fewer 'law abiding' gun owners than you think.

Let's take the classic example of home defence. A responsible gun owner would keep the gun, unloaded, in a safe. Possibly with bullets stored elsewhere.

So someone shows up in your home, you need to get to your safe (which could easily be somewhere kids can't get at it--the basement, for example) and load the gun before it's even remotely possible to defend yourself. Not many burglars are content with "Could you just hold on a few seconds? I need to get this loaded so I can shoot you," I think.

The only way 'home defence' as a support for gun ownership makes any sense is if the people involved act totally irresponsibly about storage and loading of their firearms.

The argument of 'self defence' is basically utter bullshit. Nobody pulled their guns out and saved the day when Gabby Giffords was shot. Nobody pulled their guns out in the Aurora shooting.

On top of all that, there's the (racist) Stand Your Ground laws, which pretty much guarantee people are going to get shot.

So, I ask you again: what is the acceptable number of deaths by firearm? At what point will you look at those statistics and go "Wow, that is way too many people dying"?

Well, of course not, if you believe that the primary purpose of automobiles is the maiming and killing of living beings. If you believe that, then it's perfectly reasonable to make automobile travel equivalent to carrying firearms. Otherwise, people might question your motives.

THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

Don't bother bringing in red herrings like cars; they serve a daily useful function. Which, you claim, firearms enthusiasts don't want.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Well, of course not, if you believe that the primary purpose of automobiles is the maiming and killing of living beings. If you believe that, then it's perfectly reasonable to make automobile travel equivalent to carrying firearms. Otherwise, people might question your motives.

If cars were pure transportation, we wouldn't need supercars that can do 50mph over the maximum speed limit in any given US state. But let's ignore that. Guns are made to maim and kill living beings much in the same way that nuclear weapons are. Please consider, however, that many consider that nuclear weapons, via mutually assured destruction, have already saved uncountable lives and prevented another world war. I have seen estimates that the invasion of Japan would have cost additional millions of lives, and don't have any reason to believe that this is particularly controversial. Of course, none of us can look at alternate timelines. You or I, if given the choice in the absence of evidence, would probably prefer that nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction did not exist purely on principle. However, we see in practice, that the built purpose of something is not the sole arbiter of its effects.
posted by Phyltre at 10:32 AM on May 10


So, I ask you again: what is the acceptable number of deaths by firearm? At what point will you look at those statistics and go "Wow, that is way too many people dying"?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:36 AM on May 10


[fffm, I understand you feel strongly on this but you've asked that same question a bunch of times now. The point is out there; please ease back and let the thread breathe. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:38 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: It's my understanding that self-defense killings are generally coded as justifiable homicide, so they're in that category.

Quick Google couldn't confirm that. Though not directly relevant to these statistics, in regard to murder and manslaughter for crime reporting I did find:
The UCR Program does not include the following situations in this offense classification: deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults.
Do you have any further information?

In any event, there is no hard evidence for a large number of private uses of guns for legitimate defense. When the do occur, they are usually the subject of pretty sensational news articles, even if they aren't questionable; sort of local hero type stuff. The net result is that owning a gun for personal safety for almost all regular citizens decreases safety.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:58 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


So, I ask you again: what is the acceptable number of deaths by firearm? At what point will you look at those statistics and go "Wow, that is way too many people dying"?

Again, as I have said, neither of us can wave our wand and make guns inaccessible to criminals tomorrow, so I don't agree with your premise from the start. We aren't an island. Our lower bordering country is of questionable stability. As a result, I don't look at the issue by "acceptable number of deaths by firearm." Clearly deaths are bad, are you even implying otherwise? I am saying, instead, that "___ is dangerous, let's make it illegal", in and of itself without context, is also dangerous.

You think that I am not directly answering your question because I do not believe an answer exists, because again, I believe it is a loaded question that implies that the immediate effect of dissolving the 2A is fewer gun deaths without commensurate increases in violence or instability elsewhere. Forget "exceptionalism", I'm in IT and if systems did what they were intended to do, this would be a very different world. As a result, I don't review yearly death statistics looking for things to ban. In general I find the "We have to do something" logic and narrative very dangerous. It tends to lead to rash decisions, while still immunizing the actor of responsibility for negative outcomes since they, of course, had to do something.

So, in general, I'm not going to look at statistics and say, "Man, too many people are dying as a result of the exercise of a constitutionally-guaranteed right, we should dissolve that right!" Your implication is that it's really that simple, and I disagree. I might as well ask "How many people dying by accidental poisoning each year is acceptable before we switch to homeopathic medicine?"
posted by Phyltre at 11:05 AM on May 10


"Man, too many people are dying as a result of the exercise of a constitutionally-guaranteed right, we should dissolve that right!"

It really is that simple though. Again, look at all the other countries around the world with strict control on guns--especially handguns--and note how much lower per capita deaths by firearm are.

I might as well ask "How many people dying by accidental poisoning each year is acceptable before we switch to homeopathic medicine?"

Only if you are deliberately trying to muddy the issue by comparing attempts to put bullets into fewer bodies with total woo bullshit.

You think that I am not directly answering your question because I do not believe an answer exists, because again, I believe it is a loaded question that implies that the immediate effect of dissolving the 2A is fewer gun deaths without commensurate increases in violence or instability elsewhere. Forget "exceptionalism",

Because, again, those 'commensurate increases' haven't happened. You're making up fairytales to defend your right to carry people-killing devices.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:09 AM on May 10


What number of deaths is the acceptable collateral damage for you to carry a gun?

This is really not an answerable question, as I'm pretty sure you know, but I'll give it try.

There are two answers, really. "None," or "as many as it takes."

I think we both know which one of those answers the framers of the constitution chose. And as to militia, those boys were pretty much the neighborhood guys who owned squirrel rifles, and not some crack-squad of super soldiers. Still, they did pretty good. But yeah, that's history, right?

As to the answer, "None," well, it's a good enough answer, and I can see it's points. In a black and white world, it would be the best one, but I don't think we live in that world. I surely wish we did.
posted by valkane at 11:14 AM on May 10


There exists a vast gulf between "make it illegal" and "regulate it," a gulf that the death profiteers fool their customers into perceiving as a slippery slope.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:22 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I don't know if support for gun control is a white privilege thing, but it's absolutely, one hundred percent, a class privilege thing.
I don't think that the actual data bears that out. Americans making less than $30,000 a year are significantly more likely to support increased gun control than any other group. The least support for gun control comes from Americans making between $75,000 and $99,000 a year. Data from Pew.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:34 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


A responsible gun owner would keep the gun, unloaded, in a safe. Possibly with bullets stored elsewhere.

This is an assumption that frankly, I do not share. There is no sound reason to store bullets and firearms separately. In fact, laws requiring this in many jurisdictions would be another example of bad, useless regulations that contribute to a hostile atmosphere towards gun owners.
posted by corb at 12:39 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


"I don't know if support for gun control is a white privilege thing, but it's absolutely, one hundred percent, a class privilege thing.

If you live in a nice, safe neighborhood, with police that respond to your complaints nearly immediately, and the government exists to protect you and your desires. If all of your personal belongings are insured, and all a burglary means is a temporary inconvenience. If you being mugged means the irritation of replacing ID cards, not the terror of not paying the rent.
"

Don't invent facts.
posted by klangklangston at 1:39 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


"Do you have any further information?"

I don't know whether it's the case for the stats cited in the FPP, but that's how the FBI classifies them, including fatal shootings by police officers.
posted by klangklangston at 1:41 PM on May 10


“what is the acceptable number of deaths by firearm?”
C’mon. That’s an obviously loaded question. What is the acceptable number of deaths by terrorism? Why do you cling to your notions of privacy?

Clearly some people think the right to own a firearm is worth the trade off in deaths in the same way that some people favor the liberty over the security side on various issues.
What we need to look at is why we tolerate the conditions that lead to deaths by firearm. I mean, getting rid of trains or bridges in Japan might lower their suicide rate, but certainly the social causes that drive people to suicide aren’t addressed by altering the transportation system.


“please to be explaining why so many other developed countries have strict, and mostly successful, gun control laws supported at all levels of society?”


Australia, for example, has strict social policy which includes health care and social programs that mandate a minimum standard of living with a competent and (generally speaking; and certainly in contrast with the U.S. efficient welfare system)

Wealth inequity in Australia hovers around the “fairly egalitarian” range, whereas the U.S. has the worst income inequity in the developed world.

Canada…well it’s Canada, man.

In contrast, in the U.S. poor and middle class folks get more and more discouraged like the end of a Monopoly game where one guy has most of the properties and it’s an exercise in futility in rolling dice. The laws are crafted by the people with money and so less gets spent on stuff like security for impoverished neighborhoods and more gets spent on stuff like gaming the tax code.

What that boils down to is the blindness to the tragedy of the commons. Perhaps not deliberately, or rather, specifically deliberately, but certainly by design. One of the ways to make your own quality of life seem better is to erode someone else’s.
So, security becomes a commodity. You wouldn’t think that critical functions would be commodified, but we did it in the U.S. with health care.

We’ve certainly done it with private contractors and transnational terrorism.
Is there any question we’re seeing the transfer of security responsibilities from the public to the private sector?
One of the difficulties with the Trayvon Martin case – the race/gun/etc. stuff is fairly simple and easy to sensationalize – is the blurring of public and private space and the security responsibilities.

That seems to be by design for the gated communities. You essentially pay more for the appearance of security inequity. And there are people who think they shouldn’t have to pay taxes for local police, ignoring the design of policing powers in a democracy, even if they’re ignorant of statutes on the role of security guards.
And indeed, there are impoverished communities that do put up their own barriers, and have a siege mentality (Five Oaks in Dayton Ohio, or Newton in south central L.A. which had iron gates) but the reduction in crime isn’t from walling the place off but improved interaction with police. That is, more openness.


The U.S. has a much more antagonistic relationship with authority, generally speaking. And certainly when it comes to police interaction.
I can’t count the number of times people on MeFi have called out the police, all police, as brutal thugs and thus the system itself as oppressive and dysfunctional.
And yet this antagonism seems to disappear when it comes to implying that people might not want to rely on police protection (which comes down to, on the interpersonal level, having a gun and a radio to summon more people with guns) and instead own their own gun.

So the ideas of civic engagement in Australia and Canada and the U.K. are different from the U.S. from the outset, not only from a security perspective, but from a social support perspective.

And indeed, it’s not a matter of color (although, without question that’s an aspect) but the tolerance in the U.S. of inequality and fear of the social safety net while casting social problems (drugs, obesity, poverty) as moral failures to take responsibility or be self-reliant.
And the fact is anyone in the U.S. could fall and not get up.

Anyone could have the wrong dice roll and the system in the U.S. is such that you’re not getting up. And for the most part, be blamed for it.

The question shouldn’t be a pointed “why are you so afraid that you think you need a gun to defend yourself?”
But rather an earnest, empathic inquiry, as in, “why is the system so broken in trust that people think they need a gun?”

Why do so many other developed countries have such a lower incarceration rate than the U.S.?
Why do people in the U.S. get less in food stamps than people in other developed countries get for child benefit alone?
Why do people in Australia, the U.K., Canada, etc. get paid maternity (and paternity) leave by right of law and the U.S. doesn't?
Why do we have the highest relative poverty rate, the highest child poverty rate of developed countries - one of the lowest levels of social expenditure (16-ish percent of GDP in contrast to the average 21 percent of other developed countries)?

Hell, I'd want to limit people to torches and pitchforks too.

Now, to be clear, that doesn't speak to the basis of gun ownership (so much) as address the point that the U.S. and other developed countries have entirely different levels of social support which lead to different conceptions of not only what role government has, or is supposed to have, but the degree of trust in the social contract.

I'd say gun ownership is an unsurprising symptom of distrust in government support. At least in terms of why other developed countries can have successful gun control programs.

Beyond that, I doubt the will to make the social expenditure to rid the streets of guns even if laws were passed - beyond the desire to feed the prison infrastructure at least. There's no money in confiscation.
Someone thinks up an angle there to make the kind of money people make off the drug war, I'm sure we'd have draconian gun laws tomorrow.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:37 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Don't invent facts.

Could you be more specific? I looked at the studies and articles you quoted, but don't see anything about "trust in government/the police" as a factor, and the only datapoint about income I see is about successful personal gun ownership, not whether or not someone would like to have a gun in the home.
posted by corb at 4:14 PM on May 10


There exists a vast gulf between "make it illegal" and "regulate it," a gulf that the death profiteers fool their customers into perceiving as a slippery slope.

But two comments above you:

Again, look at all the other countries around the world with strict control on guns--especially handguns--and note how much lower per capita deaths by firearm are.

All the people pointing at Europe as a model sure sound like they must be proposing something like "make guns illegal."
posted by straight at 4:53 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


All the people pointing at Europe as a model sure sound like they must be proposing something like "make guns illegal."

If you deliberately refuse to find out anything about the European and Australian and Canadian gun ownership models they're referencing, sure.
posted by kafziel at 5:29 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


It's hard to believe those regulations by themselves have much to do with the lower gun homicide rates in those countries (or would make a big difference if enacted here) when there's a much simpler and more obvious reason: those countries have much, much fewer guns. There's no way to cut the number of guns in the USA down to those levels without doing something more drastic.
posted by straight at 5:59 PM on May 10


"Could you be more specific? I looked at the studies and articles you quoted, but don't see anything about "trust in government/the police" as a factor, and the only datapoint about income I see is about successful personal gun ownership, not whether or not someone would like to have a gun in the home."

C'mon. The majority of people who have guns, by a sizable margin, are middle-class white guys. When you say:
"I don't know if support for gun control is a white privilege thing, but it's absolutely, one hundred percent, a class privilege thing.

If you live in a nice, safe neighborhood, with police that respond to your complaints nearly immediately, and the government exists to protect you and your desires. If all of your personal belongings are insured, and all a burglary means is a temporary inconvenience. If you being mugged means the irritation of replacing ID cards, not the terror of not paying the rent. "
Using the framing of "class privilege" needs to be supported by something. Since you're imagining some reasonable estimate of the number of people who want to own guns but can't because of price as the inverse of people who have the luxury of not owning guns, there would have to be some way to measure that. But instead we find that people who are disproportionately affected by gun violence — specifically African Americans and Latinos — support more gun control and that guns ownership and antagonism to gun control is disproportionately found in white middle class folks — the very ones you allege have the privilege to endorse gun control.

It was a silly, grandstanding argument and one that's a straight up appeal to emotion.

I do think that people in neighborhoods with poor policing or longstanding violence have a different calculus to make on whether or not they want to carry a gun, but the evidence generally points to them wanting more gun control, not less. Trying to invert that for rhetorical purposes is crass.
posted by klangklangston at 6:16 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


I find it curious that everyone cites the firearm death rate, and not the overall homicide rate. It's as if you are somehow MORE dead if shot than stabbed or run over or hit on the head. Of course guns are used in the US for homicides and violence. Guns are pretty good at doing that and they are more available here than most countries (especially handguns which are the guns used in virtually all gun related homicides and crimes and most self defense cases). But taking away the guns isn't going to take away the violence. In both Australia and Britain after effectively banning handguns (and in Britain pretty much making self defense of any kind illegal) neither country saw a drastic drop in homicide and in fact they both had an increase in non homicide violent crimes, despite the drop in most other developed countries. Futher more this country (the US) isn't those countries. Our culture, demographics and traditions are far different-this isn't American exceptionalism, this is just acute observation, and the ways those crimes are accounted for and reported are far, far different making those comparisions even more difficult. Here are some articles on that. When you look at homicide rates without the bogus 'firearm' filter on it, the US doesn't really appear to be all that violent of a country and in fact has been getting much, much safer despite growing number of guns and gun owners (the RATE is going down, not the nominal number of owners).

Did making Herion illegal stop people from wanting to get high? Did prohibition stop people from wanting a drink? Just taking away the tool used to carry out the desire doesn't stop the desire. Humans are going to human, and some people are just violent and predatory. As to the assertion about self defense effectiveness, here is the rolling NRA summary of a few self defense cases-all verified and documented.

And gun control advocates seem to believe guns AREN'T heavily regulated in this country. They are, quite heavily in fact. You can't import one without passing a bogus and subjective 'sporting purpose' review by the ATF and attorney general. Several states have restrictions on them fair more rigorous and onerous than any voter ID law. To legally carry one in public in most states you have to attend a class and pay a fee every few years. I am not arguing that these are needful laws that do more harm than good, but to pretend that this constituionally protected right isn't already heavily regulated is false.
posted by bartonlong at 6:54 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I find it curious that everyone cites the firearm death rate, and not the overall homicide rate.

U.S. murder rate higher than nearly all other developed countries: FBI data
Violent crime in the United States remained close to two-decade lows last year but the murder rate was higher than in virtually all other developed countries, official figures showed Monday.
[...]
The survey said 14,827 people were murdered last year in the United States, well down from 24,526 in 1993, when the country’s population was smaller.

But the 2012 murder rate — 4.7 murders per 100,000 people — was significantly higher than in most other wealthy nations.
United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law
Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000 to 310,000,000
[...]

In the United States, annual homicides by any means total

2011: 15,953
2010: 16,259
2009: 16,799
2008: 17,826
2007: 18,361
2006: 18,573
2005: 18,124
2004: 17,357
2003: 17,732
2002: 17,638
2001: 20,308
2000: 16,765
1999: 16,889
1998: 14,276
[...]

In the United States, annual firearm homicides total

2011: 11,101
2010: 11,078
2009: 11,493
2008: 12,179
2007: 12,632
2006: 12,791
2005: 12,352
2004: 11,624
2003: 11,920
2002: 11,829
2001: 11,348
2000: 10,801
1999: 10,828
1998: 9,257
So concentrating on the firearm portion of the total number of homicides and other deaths/injuries is probably prudent.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:14 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Nearly 100,000 USians get shot every year. That's 270 people a day and 87 dead.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:34 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Alaska Has the Second-Highest Rate of Gun Violence in the Country, According to a New State-by-State Analysis
The analysis finds that Alaska:
  • Had the highest rate of firearm deaths in 2010
  • Had the highest rate of children under the age of 18 killed by guns in the 10-year period from 2001 through 2010
When the overall state ranking for the prevalence of gun violence is compared with a November 2012 Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranking of states based on the strength of their gun laws, the comparison reveals a significant correlation between high rates of gun violence and weak state gun laws. Key findings from the national comparison include:
  • Alaska exemplifies this trend by having the second-highest rate of overall gun violence and some of the weakest gun laws, ranking 12th-weakest in the country according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
  • The 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have a level of gun violence that is more than twice as high—104 percent higher—than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.
  • Of the 10 states with the strongest gun laws, nine are among the 25 states with the lowest levels of gun violence, including 6 of the 10 with the very lowest levels.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:18 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


From the FBI homicide data it looks like about 200 private justifiable homicides a year. As we've seen in the Trayvon Martin and other cases, this is sometimes a questionable call. Compared to the number of accidental deaths and suicides, this is a paltry benefit. It would be interesting if we could see the actual number of non-fatal private defensive uses and compare that to the number of non-fatal injuries, but those data are not recorded anywhere, other than the newspaper and the questionable self-reports in the gun surveys.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:23 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Sandy Hook 'Truther' Tells Victim's Mother Her Daughter Never Existed
...a small group of "truthers" allege the shooting never occurred or was part of a ‘false flag’ operation designed to open the door to the confiscation of all guns by the government...
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:35 AM on May 13


The phrase "Sandy Hook 'Truther'" is just all kinds of tragic and terrible rolled up into three simple words.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:25 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: If seems really odd to suggest that support for gun control is a symptom of white privilege, given that black and Latino Americans consistently support increased gun control at much higher rates than white Americans do.

Which I never suggested at all in any way, but if making up quotes to get pluses makes you happy, go for it.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:20 PM on May 14


Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women. Welcome to the dark side of America's war over guns.
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Tangent: is it me or is the label "truther" not Orwellian in tone?

I mean, it's sort of evolved there from a specific kind of nut to a more general term.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:51 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Male Activists Target Women.

As someone who's been a part of a lot of activist movements, this kind of behavior is sadly not confined to gun activists. There are a lot of shitty male activists out there of all kinds who engage in awful behavior against women they happen to oppose.

I will also note that firing at mannequins is actually not uncommon even among non-activist gun owners, and they are usually female mannequins because they are cheaper and more plentiful.
posted by corb at 12:10 PM on May 19


Wow homunculus, that's some story. I can't even imagine what it must be like to live in a country like that.
posted by sneebler at 4:50 PM on May 19


When I read thoughtful comments like Smedleyman's above reflecting on the cultural drivers of gun ownership in the states it makes me sad and frustrated for the America that was the leader of free world thought/freedom/goodness. I wish there was a way to bring americans together to face these challenges together.
But I can't help but think that better, tougher gun laws would be a reasonable way to get the ball rolling to that end.
The idea that fear of gun violence would be lessened with tighter gun control seems to me to be a useful starting point to rebuild the foundation of trust that conservatives (not neo-cons, but conservatives seeking a stronger community) are looking for when they express a desire for past social cohesiveness.
I don't think you have to be a liberal to want to live in a community where gun violence is less, and to lump it in with the problems of disadvantage is taking an easy way out.
Gun violence is less in my country, yet we have not dissimilar issues around social exclusion, but we have made what I feel is progress by taking a lot of gun violence off the table.
I hold literally nil fear of gun violence in my life. Sure, there are places where I would feel sketchy walking after dark, but because I might get mugged via a beating or possibly a knife, the benefit to me and my kids of never having to consider guns or consider being armed with a gun is a tangible positive that delivers a platform for better social cohesiveness.
The freedom of not having to give it a moments thought is a powerful advantage in building bridges across society, even if where I live still has a long way to go.
To be a little trite, I remember when ebay started, and everyone said it will never work - people will just take the money and not deliver the goods.
As you know, what really happened is the normal, honest, decent people made a market that was successful.
I think if America ever enacted strong gun laws they would similarly find the normal, decent, honest people would so out number the criminal gun toters that it would similarly become a small percentage of issues that law enforcement would be better able to deal with.
The idea of guns for self protection leads so inexorably to guns being used too often seems blatantly obvious - see the UK unarmed police historically for an example.
Even some gang-banger/hoodlum is going to rethink carrying a gun if their nefarious ends can be met via a beating - why risk a murder charge by shooting if the outcome can be met with bashing their mugging victim? But arm the victims and everyone has to step up the level of lethality.
I recognise I am speaking to the wind, because there are many Americans that hold a belief in enforcing justice personally, whether it is a fear of government totalitarianism or just a mistimed burglary. But if more Americans can imagine a lifestyle of not seeing shootings in the media every single day, and not seeing guns except as part of a military display or holstered on the hip of the local cop, it will be a better place to live and a place where there is better prospect of addressing social issues.
posted by bystander at 4:36 AM on May 21


I think assuming that it is the threat of gun violence alone that prompts conservatives to want to own guns is a mistake - an honest and frequently made one, but still not quite reaching what's truly going on.

A gun is a tool that enables you to defend bodily integrity and property. You note that you've accepted the possibility of assault by fists or knife as an acceptable tradeoff for a reduction in gun violence. But that's not a tradeoff I would personally be willing to make. For me, a mugging is a mugging. I view them as equal evils. I do not want to give up my purse or accept violence of any degree against me. A sexual assault committed at knifepoint is still worse than the violence which could erupt. A burglary that leaves me unable to pay the rent and risks putting my family on the street is still unacceptable.
posted by corb at 5:18 AM on May 21


Sandy Hook 'Truther' Tells Victim's Mother Her Daughter Never Existed

Ex-Cop and Jeb Bush Appointee Claims the Newtown Massacre Never Happened. Wolfgang Halbig has hundreds of followers who donate to the cause
posted by homunculus at 6:32 PM on May 21


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