Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


No end in sight
April 5, 2009 9:24 AM   Subscribe

It's shocking enough that 90 people have been killed in mass shootings in the US in the past 2 years. But it's even more shocking that 44 of those deaths have occurred within the month since March 10, 2009, when Michael McClendon touched off a firestorm of violence that ended with the deaths of 10 people in rural Alabama. This has been a month of grave infamy in the United States.

Since the McClendon incident:

Lovell Mixton kills 4 Oakland police officers during a traffic stop on March 21 (this event is not without its controversies). Mixton was killed by a SWAT team.

Eight days later in Santa Clara, CA, on March 29, Yahoo! engineer Devan Kalathat opened fire on his two children and three other family members before turning the gun on himself. His wife survived with injuries.

The same day, across the country in Carthage, NC, embittered husband Robert Stewart created a bloodbath at his estranged wife's place of business, a nursing home, slaying 8 people before being fatally shot by a police officer.

Surely everyone has heard of the April 3 tragedy in Binghamton, NY, in which 13 people were brutally murdered by gunfire after suspect Jiverly Wong blocked the back door of the American Civic Association with a car, then entered the building with guns blazing. The suspect is believed to be among the dead, the victim of an apparent suicide.

Just a day later, 23-year old Richard Poplawski ambushed 3 Pittsburgh, PA police officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call to his home, killing them all. Two other officers were wounded during the firefight, in which over 100 rounds were exchanged. The suspect, who was worried about an impending "Obama gun ban", was captured by SWAT teams and remains in custody, the only shooter on the timeline to have survived the horrific tragedies they created.

---

As a vicious wave of horrific gun violence sweeps the nation, a shocked populace wonders if this explosion of violence is the result of the global economic malaise-- but why, then, is this a uniquely American phenomenon? Perhaps it's because we have 5% of the world's population, but 35-50% of its citizen-owned firearms.
posted by baphomet (286 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Perhaps it's because we have 5% of the world's population, but 35-50% of its citizen-owned firearms.

I'll buy that for a dollar.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:27 AM on April 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Mass murder is not a modern phenomenon. I think on a per-capita basis these types of crimes are lower today than they have been historically. They just get a lot of press now.
posted by stbalbach at 9:30 AM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Clearly if more people had guns this wouldn't be a problem.
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on April 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


The past is littered with incidents of lone nutjobs going off on shooting sprees and then topping themselves? Really?
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on April 5, 2009


This is a really well put-together post, but let me be the first to point out that theories about the frequency of mass shootings are often subject to confirmation bias. For example, this AskMe question from a couple of years ago hypothesized that mass killings tend to take place more frequently in April (wait, what month is it here?).

I'm not saying that the recent shootings are or are not in some way tied to the economic crisis; at this juncture I don't know. But its worth considering the assumptions underlying these kinds of arguments.
posted by googly at 9:34 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


(this event is not without its controversies)

Mixon, 26, a fugitive parolee, gunned down two motorcycle officers who had pulled him over in a traffic stop. He killed two more officers who tried to capture him where he was hiding in his sister's apartment nearby.

Poor guy, he was just misunderstood.
posted by jayder at 9:37 AM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stephen Pinker did a TED talk on the history of violence. I won't spoil his conclusion, but for those of you who haven't seen it, it's worth it.
posted by aheckler at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


Certainly I'm aware of the confirmation bias effect and the fact that these are unfortunately regular occurrences-- not just here and now but also elsewhere and throughout history. At the same time, please consider that fully half of the mass shooting deaths in the past 24 months have occurred within the time frame of 1 month. I'm not making any concrete conjectures about the implications of that, and perhaps the post was written with a strong slant so I see where you guys are coming from (the temptation of using really punctuated language was just too strong for me to resist), but I think all the same it's a startling thing to consider.

jayder- It gets better, he was actually implicated in at least one rape in the area, including a 12-year old girl, and yet somehow people in the community are rallying behind him. Obviously the guy is the scummiest of the scum, but I thought it was worth mentioning that some people are pissed off at the police and not the mass murderer/potential serial rapist.
posted by baphomet at 9:43 AM on April 5, 2009


Lovell Mixton kills 4 Oakland police officers during a traffic stop on March 21 (this event is not without its controversies). Mixton was killed by a SWAT team.

Just a day later, 23-year old Richard Poplawski ambushed 3 Pittsburgh, PA police officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call to his home, killing them all.

If only they had been armed, they could have stopped the shooters. Oh, wait...
posted by stavrogin at 9:43 AM on April 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


If you think killings due to "citizen-owned firearms" are bad, wait'll you see what people are doing with the rest of those guns.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:43 AM on April 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Which group murders more people in a way you remember: gun aficionados, or Muslims?

I'm thinking we need to make certain weapons and certain religions illegal. It's the only way to feel safe.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2009


Perhaps it's because we have 5% of the world's population, but 35-50% of its citizen-owned firearms.

I'm way for gun control, but just having more guns doesn't necessarily mean you're more likely to use them (see: nuclear weapons). What I mean is, a guy who has 10 guns probably isn't any more likely to go on a shooting spree than a guy who has 1. I think it has more to do with the peculiar reasons why Americans feel they need guns. Although it's not the best (or most honest) movie, Moore's Bowling for Columbine made at least that one point fairly well.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2009


Poor guy, he was just misunderstood.

Apparently you are not the only person that thinks so.
posted by vaportrail at 9:46 AM on April 5, 2009


It does make for a certain level of ease-of-rampage when peoples brains break, though.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


A co-worker recently observed that these dramatic outbursts of violence seem to spike in the spring, specifically March and April---Columbine, VA Tech, Oklahoma City. His suspicion: spring causes a "bizarre chemical reaction" in some people. Mine: taxes. Difference: I was joking.
posted by MimeticHaHa at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dunno, Saxon Kane, I think not having a gun makes me 100% less likely to use it.

(I'm just half-joking with you here. I'm actually not sure what I believe the best gun policy in America would be.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:48 AM on April 5, 2009


Brooker on the issue
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:49 AM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Dave Neiwert on Richard Poplawski: Was Pittsburgh shooter driven by right-wing gun paranoia about Obama?

The emerging portrait of Richard Poplawski: a white-supremacist radical
posted by homunculus at 9:50 AM on April 5, 2009


fully half of the mass shooting deaths in the past 24 months have occurred within the time frame of 1 month

This is indeed notable and worth point out. Recession? Spring fever? No doubt. Impossible to prove but common sensible. I don't think it's any great revelation or anything, perhaps a warning of things getting worse.
posted by stbalbach at 9:52 AM on April 5, 2009


The only connection between these incidents is that people died. Someone who kills their family is very different from someone who kills police officer coming to arrest him is very different from someone who kills a dozen immigrants.

As a vicious wave of horrific gun violence sweeps the nation, a shocked populace wonders if this explosion of violence is the result of the global economic malaise-- but why, then, is this a uniquely American phenomenon?

"Unique"? A month ago, a teenager killed 16 people in Germany.
posted by smackfu at 9:53 AM on April 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


baphomet, thanks for this post. it has been troubling me a lot of late, the amount of times i've recently turned on the radio and heard "....X people killed in state Y (school/workplace/etc) after the gunman did Z..."

i appreciate having info on these recent events collected in one place. to be honest, i haven't had the mettle to pay much attention to the news lately, so this will help me put perspective on my impression that gun violence has drastically increased just in 2009.

thanks again.
posted by CitizenD at 9:55 AM on April 5, 2009


It doesn't seem to be slowing down.
posted by TedW at 9:56 AM on April 5, 2009


Number of shooting deaths in the last month: 44
Number of motor vehicle deaths in the last month: ~ 3,500
posted by Joe Beese at 9:58 AM on April 5, 2009 [17 favorites]


Charlie Brooker's Newswipe on the shootings. From 1.40 on, a forensic pathologist explains how saturation, sensational TV news coverage fuels copycats, and thus these tragedies often come one after another.
posted by WPW at 9:58 AM on April 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the link, aheckler. That was a great talk.
posted by Decimask at 10:01 AM on April 5, 2009


Joe Beese: Great point, except that people don't usually deliberately cause motor vehicle deaths. What point were you trying to make here?

I'd like to amend this post slightly, for the record: Robert Stewart was in fact not fatally wounded by a police officer's bullet, merely wounded into submission. As such he is in custody, meaning that Richard Poplawski isn't the only person to have survived their respective massacres this month.
posted by baphomet at 10:04 AM on April 5, 2009


It's rather oddly metaphysical to try to draw straight lines between these events.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2009


That makes sense given that most of these killings include the suicide of the perpetrator-- and we do already know that media coverage of suicide prompts copycat incidents.
posted by Maias at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2009


This society is wound up like a spring. Thanks media, and thanks politicians. We're bursting valves all over the engine room.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really do not understand the gun ban impulse among people who call themselves "liberal". You want the only people in this country capable of wielding weapons to be the ones beating suspects and protesters and the ones torturing prisoners of war. Let's set up a British-style panopticon, while we're at it. Let's be powerless yet safe in the government's always benevolent embrace.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 10:08 AM on April 5, 2009 [20 favorites]


Number of shooting deaths in the last month: 44
Number of motor vehicle deaths in the last month: ~ 3,500


Number of shooting deaths in the last month: ~2464.

Fixed it for you.

(Oh and ~7830 people shot in the US last month over-all)
posted by washburn at 10:08 AM on April 5, 2009 [17 favorites]


If you regulate firearms you get in the way of shooting innovation.
posted by srboisvert at 10:13 AM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I mean is, a guy who has 10 guns probably isn't any more likely to go on a shooting spree than a guy who has 1.

That completely misses the point and the fundamental issue with the availability of guns to the american populace - the easier they are to obtain and to own, the more chance that an unhinged member of the population will own one. In other words, the more chance that someone will be legally and easily in the position of being able to misuse one.

It doesn't matter how responsible some of the gun owning population is in relation to this. It's irrelevant, really, but us'ians get all uptight in civil rights and personal affront by being told they can't do something. Clearly too many people have guns in the US, because some of those people flip their lids and shoot random people. To keep talking about how some of the people can be trusted with guns so it's actually fine is like saying that good drivers shouldn't be forced to wear seatbelts - it's in the interests of the greater good for this to happen, and if you don't like it, you're out of luck.

Stopping anyone having a gun would enormously reduce the number of incidents of this happening. This is undeniable. Upsetting some country boy by stopping him plinking away at deer (for instance) to do so seems like "big fucking deal" by comparison, to me.

Obviously, the best path for everyone is some middle road and greater control for allowed owning and usage, but if this is too hard to control accurately, then no-one getting one is by far the better option.
posted by Brockles at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


I think it's less about 'omg get rid of guns' and more about 'don't give guns to people who won't use them responsibly' and 'our economy sucks'.
posted by kldickson at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


surely these are all the result of violent video games.
posted by shmegegge at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


From vaportrail and baphomet's link:

one of [the mass murderer and suspected rapist's] cousins at the demonstration, said, "He needs sympathy too. If he's a criminal, everybody's a criminal."


You couldn't make this shit up.
posted by jayder at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking we need to make certain weapons and certain religions illegal. It's the only way to feel safe.

It only goes to show, you can never be too careful.
posted by hippybear at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Just to put this in context, there are roughly 16,000 incidents of homicide of all kinds (1, 2, 3 victims etc.) in the US every year, and about 4% have multiple victims (source: FBI uniform crime reports). Only a tiny, tiny fraction of that 4% involved >2 victims. About 700 Americans die every year in multiple homicides, almost all of them 2 at a time.

Conclusion: these things are really rare and therefore likely to defy any general explanation.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:19 AM on April 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


As a vicious wave of horrific gun violence sweeps the nation

In all statistical likelihood, the fact that several of these events happened within a few weeks of each other is probably due to random chance. The news media just plays it up with phrases like this, because fear sells, especially when most buyers are too ignorant to understand elementary probability. Like joe beese said, the risk of you dying in a random murderous rampage is practically nil, but you can bet that schools, offices, etc. across the nation are now rushing to conduct 'how-to-be-safe-in-the-event-of-a-random-murderous-rampage' drills* rather than, you know, teaching children or producing stuff of economic value.

In other news, I just flipped a quarter 8 times and it came up heads every single time. Is this evidence of a government conspiracy to make lopsided quarters? That could give you cancer? More at 11.

*My mother is a librarian at a public school, and a couple years ago she told me a story about the 'lockdown' drill they had to do (practice in the event that a rampaging murderer or pedophile was loose in the neighborhood and possibly inside the school). Apparently all the classrooms had to lock their doors and the students had to stand in a corner out of sight to anyone outside the room. Then the principle would get on the intercom to each classroom and ask the teacher, "Is it safe?" The teachers were instructed to say, "No it is not safe" if it was safe, and "Yes it is safe" if it was not safe, to throw the intruder off the scent in case he was listening in. Of course people got confused by this 'opposite day' rule and long story short the police department swarmed the school during the drill after the principal concluded that some pedophile had learned when the drill would take place and decided to attack when the school was most vulnerable.
posted by notswedish at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2009 [26 favorites]


baphomet: "people don't usually deliberately cause motor vehicle deaths... What point were you trying to make here?"

If Thing A kills 100 times as many people as Thing B - and, as you correctly point out, without its users even meaning to - Thing A would seem to be the vastly greater menace to the public. Yet we don't see vehicles discussed with maximum-volume rhetoric like "grave infamy" and "horrific".

So I guess my point is that mass shootings attract attention - and inflame passions - very disproportionately.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Confessions of a Man Who Almost Went Postal
posted by homunculus at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


Let's be powerless yet safe in the government's always benevolent embrace.

Well, I'm sure that Mr Poplawski would agree with your ironic statement but how exactly are you going to fight government with arms? Did his AK-47 actually give him any power over the government? How does the individual ownership of assault weapons prevent government abuse? Explain to me how that works, cause I'm not seeing it. Even with all the guns in this country, the Bush government seemed perfectly capable of doing whatever extra-constitutional activities that it wanted to.
posted by octothorpe at 10:24 AM on April 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


I really do not understand the gun ban impulse among people who call themselves "liberal". You want the only people in this country capable of wielding weapons to be the ones beating suspects and protesters and the ones torturing prisoners of war. Let's set up a British-style panopticon, while we're at it. Let's be powerless yet safe in the government's always benevolent embrace.


The Panopticon is largely a myth. Most of the CCTV footage is collected by private property and it is closed circuit. As in not shared. America has similar coverage. You are also on tape when you buy gas, use an ATM, or get your Big Gulp. What is the difference? In the UK they have to post big signs telling you that you are on CCTV. So people actually know about them.

There are police controlled video cameras but they are actually pretty rare. A local police station might have about 8 cameras usually on the local high street where your expectation of privacy is pretty much zero anyway.

I know there is nothing more American Fuck Yeah than refusing to actually see how other countries do things and whether they work but you're being pretty unreasonable. You don't win gun battles with government anymore. You just get to kill a few cops and then either get killed or go to jail for the rest of your life. You do however get to lose gun battles with deranged determined mass murderers. So to preserve a ridiculous right to take your hand gun or rifle and oppose the most heavily armed police forces and military that has ever walked the earth you are willing to trade the security of everyone from madmen. Bad trade.
posted by srboisvert at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2009 [32 favorites]


So I guess my point is that mass shootings attract attention - and inflame passions - very disproportionately.

I hadn't considered it that way, and I do take your point, though as Washburn points out the proportion is closer to ~1.42x.

[thanks to TedW for the link] Updated: James Harrison slays 5 of his children in their mobile home in Graham, Washington. A relative reported seeing one of the children through a window when she checked in on the family after Harrison’s body was found in his car at a casino a few miles away. The murders appear to have also occurred on April 4th.

That makes 20 this weekend.

I do completely agree that the media informs our perception of these events, and that random probability is as much a controlling factor as anything, so this could just be a tragic and freakish random circumstance, but-- 20 in one weekend? It's really hard to look at all that senseless violence in such a small period of time and say, "Well, that's just the numbers for you." I'm not saying that isn't a perfectly reasonable explanation for what's happened, but at the same time it might not be the only explanation, but when confronted with something so senseless and terrible, the human mind must wonder at just what the fuck is going on here. Perhaps that's a folly of perspective, but perhaps-- as the second to last link speculates-- the pressure-cooker economy we're in right now makes it that much easier for people to go from slightly to completely unhinged.
posted by baphomet at 10:32 AM on April 5, 2009


washburn: "Number of shooting deaths in the last month: ~2464.

Fixed it for you.
"

The post was about mass shootings. Your number includes all gun-related deaths - including accidents, suicides [who have no shortage of other methods], and legal police actions [what do you want them to use? harsh language?].

Subtract those and your number goes down to ~ 930. Still 4 times fewer than vehicles.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2009


Suicide numbers go up in spring, too.
posted by Restless Day at 10:36 AM on April 5, 2009


Joe Beese, the problem is that vehicular deaths are usually not intentional.
posted by kldickson at 10:40 AM on April 5, 2009


kldickson: "Joe Beese, the problem is that vehicular deaths are usually not intentional."

Again, that makes vehicles more of a danger - not less of one.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm way for gun control, but just having more guns doesn't necessarily mean you're more likely to use them (see: nuclear weapons). What I mean is, a guy who has 10 guns probably isn't any more likely to go on a shooting spree than a guy who has 1.
I doubt that. First of all we did use atomic weapons against Japan. When it came to using nukes once the Soviet Union got them we got into a MAD situation where one nuke would result in the destruction of the entire world. We would kind of expect government leaders not to go nuts and snap, usually they (individually) have a lot to live for, and in practice there will be some veto points. You'd need, I guess, 8 or 9 rich and powerful people to go suicidally nuts at the same time.

On the other hand, these gun nut rampagers have lost hope in life. They have nothing to live for. But if they have access to guns they're more likely to go out and use them. Is someone with 10 guns more likely to flip out and kill people then someone with one gun? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure someone with one gun is more likely to do it then someone with zero.

I'm not for gun control, but lets be realistic.

Also, why is this happening now? Obviously economic stress is exacerbating difficult and hopeless situations for a lot of people.
I really do not understand the gun ban impulse among people who call themselves "liberal". You want the only people in this country capable of wielding weapons to be the ones beating suspects and protesters and the ones torturing prisoners of war. Let's set up a British-style panopticon, while we're at it. Let's be powerless yet safe in the government's always benevolent embrace.
Well, there are obviously people who like that idea, otherwise, why would the British have done it? On the other hand, I don't really thing gun ownership does much to prevent totalitarian society. Just look at Iraq under Saddam. They have very liberal gun laws and Saddam had no problem keeping society under his boot.
I think it's less about 'omg get rid of guns' and more about 'don't give guns to people who won't use them responsibly' and 'our economy sucks'.
How would you determine that? Mandatory psych evaluations every six months? And they take away your guns if they find you've been under too much stress recently? How would the gun nuts respond to that. Yeah you can do background checks and look for prior psych problems (that would have stopped the VT massacre) but you can't catch problems that have never been documented. I suppose we could do a psych evaluation before giving people guns in the first place, but gun nuts would freak because I think a lot of the really hard-core gun nuts are not very well adjusted in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 10:45 AM on April 5, 2009


I have firearms in my home. In the event that a vicious wave of horrific gun violence sweeps the nation, I will use them to protect my life and the lives of the people I love.

I believe that my right to defend my life is the most important right conceivable. I will happily give up any of my other rights in trade for it. I can imagine no circumstance under which I would give this right away, certainly not to a government.

I do not understand the thinking that if there are dangerous people out there with guns, you would demand to be disarmed by the government.

I do not understand the thinking that a prohibition on firearms in the US would be effective in any way. I think it would just spawn "gun gangs" with all of the restraint and civility of the "drug gangs" that our war on drugs created.

I am strongly in favor of there being a process under which people are evaluated for the ability to purchase or possess a firearm, through a course of instruction, certification, background check, etc. I think that getting help for a mental problem should suspend or abrogate your right to possess firearms. I wish that our mental health system in the US was better funded and more accessible to poor folks. I would eagerly have my taxes increased to pay for it. I think it would yield large improvements in our civilization.

I am deeply disturbed by the news events that this post is based upon, and I am in complete sympathy with the desire to find a way to stop this kind of event. I do not know the answer. But I do know that I want to be able to protect myself and my family from these wackos. And the best way to do so it with a firearm.
posted by popechunk at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


I think the difference between cars and guns isn't that gun death is intentional, but that it's unnecessary. Cars serve a pretty important purpose in life, but guns don't really. They're optional. According to Wikipedia medical error results in 40,000 to 90,000 deaths. But no one would say doctors are worse for society then guns. That works out to 7,500 a month. But no one would say "Doctors are four times worse then guns!" or "Doctors are 170 times a bigger problem then mass rampage shooters!"

Similarly it makes no sense to say "cars are X worse then guns!" because life would be inconvenient without them, and people are willing to give up some safety for convince. Also, you can choose to avoid the roads if you're worried about being killed in a car accident, but it can be difficult to avoid a spree killer.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


"The protest was organized by the Oakland branch of the Uhuru Movement, whose flyers for the march declared, "Stop Police Terror.""

And she seemed like such a nice comm officer...
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cars serve a pretty important purpose in life, but guns don't really.

I don't think that cars are that important. I think most people don't need one. I think most people need effective transportation, but I don't think that everyone in the US needs to own a car.

In a world where guns exist, I think it's important to have one to be able to defend your life.
posted by popechunk at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2009


I do not understand the thinking that a prohibition on firearms in the US would be effective in any way. I think it would just spawn "gun gangs" with all of the restraint and civility of the "drug gangs" that our war on drugs created.

Oh come on. No doubt criminal groups will continue to trade in illegal guns, which they'll use to commit crimes, but the idea that ordinary consumers who are otherwise law abiding would be buying illegal guns on the black market just to have them (and what would they do with 'em? The couldn't go hunting or to a shooting range).

I just don't think the desire by the average person for guns is as strong as it is for alcohol or marijuana.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 AM on April 5, 2009


No doubt criminal groups will continue to trade in illegal guns, which they'll use to commit crimes, but the idea that ordinary consumers who are otherwise law abiding....

So when only criminals have guns, and law abiding folks don't, everything will be honky-dory?

I just don't think the desire by the average person for guns is as strong as it is for alcohol or marijuana.

We move in different circles, clearly.
posted by popechunk at 11:00 AM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have firearms in my home. In the event that a vicious wave of horrific gun violence sweeps the nation, I will use them to protect my life and the lives of the people I love.

But if the number of guns was enormously reduced (by the banning of owning them) then this potential 'horrific gun violence' is exponentially less likely to happen. Therefore, you don't need a gun to defend your life. So then nobody needs a gun. That's the whole point. In the UK, the vast majority (like, over 90%) of police don't even carry guns because they simply don't need one. This situation is not at all without precedent.

I believe that my right to defend my life is the most important right conceivable.

This is irrelevant to any discussion on whether you need a gun or not. No-one is saying you can't defend your life - they are not one and the same thing.

I do not understand the thinking that a prohibition on firearms in the US would be effective in any way.

Yet, oddly, it doesn't seem to be 'criminal gangs' that produce these mass murder incidents, does it? So it'd certainly be effective on that score, wouldn't it? It might be a slow process to rid the country of guns, but it is certainly possible. Yes, there'll still be a contingency of criminal use, but that will reduce with good policing, legislation and effective control of availability.

If you were going to say something reasonable, like maybe "there are simply too many guns in existence to realistically erradicate ownership" then I might respect your viewpoint. But there is no real justification for guns in your argument at present.

I am strongly in favor of there being a process under which people are evaluated for the ability to purchase or possess a firearm, through a course of instruction, certification, background check, etc.

Add "must need one in the pursuit of law enforcement as part of an extremely highly trained sub-group of the police" and now you're making sense. That's pretty much what we have in the UK, if you add the allowed ownership of a shotgun for farmers and guns for registered, controlled, hunting licenses (much like Canada in that regard).

There is no justification at all for domestic ownership of handguns or any semi-automatic weapon. Ever.
posted by Brockles at 11:10 AM on April 5, 2009 [14 favorites]


In a world where guns exist, I think it's important to have one to be able to defend your life.

But that's not what you're going to do with it. I mean, statistically, you're much more likely to kill yourself with it, either on purpose or by accident, than use it against a home invader. The possibility that you will use your gun to stop a killing spree is so low as to be best counted by all of those angels we have dancing around on pins.
I understand that you believe that your gun or guns can protect you, but they don't. It is a false sense of safety, and one that allows for people who want to hurt and murder you to get guns.
posted by 235w103 at 11:10 AM on April 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


If Thing A kills 100 times as many people as Thing B - and, as you correctly point out, without its users even meaning to - Thing A would seem to be the vastly greater menace to the public. Yet we don't see vehicles discussed with maximum-volume rhetoric like "grave infamy" and "horrific".


Well, first, far more people drive and more frequently than use guns, no? I was just reading about requirements to buy a gun at a gun show and they appear far less stringent than the requirements for my teenager to get her learner's permit: certified birth certificate, Social Security card (not just a number), school ID card AND report card and my written permission, and a test Certainly a gun, whose only purpose is to kill something, ought to be governed more strictly than access to a mode of transportation?
posted by etaoin at 11:11 AM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


>I just don't think the desire by the average person for guns is as strong as it is for alcohol or marijuana.

We move in different circles, clearly.

At the same time though, we're comparing something legally available (firearms) to something that's not (marijuana, leaving alcohol out of the picture). I think your average firearms owner is probably less willing to access a black market to purchase a firearm than your average marijuana user is to score some pot-- for one thing, marijuana dealers are in all likelihood prone to using pot, while firearms dealers are in all likelihood prone to using guns. I'm not saying that I necessarily disagree with your well thought-out argument for maintaining firearms for self-defense, but this point strikes me as suspect.
posted by baphomet at 11:13 AM on April 5, 2009


In a world where guns exist, I think it's important to have one to be able to defend your life.

Again, though, if you significantly reduce the number of guns in the population, you also significantly reduce any justification for needing one. Ergo, if you get rid of the guns, you don't need one either.

I'm not sure why that isn't completely obvious. You only need one if everyone else has one (based on your justification). Fine. So no-one has one, then.
posted by Brockles at 11:17 AM on April 5, 2009


Your gun will be used to kill a family member, through suicide, murder or misadventure, before it will ever be brandished in self-defense. Half of all gun deaths are suicides, and the majority of the rest are accidents. Most victims know their murderers. Those are the numbers, and you are not an exceptional little snowflake.

You didn't buy a magic shield against villains to save your family. You brought a suicide machine into the house to kill them.

I mean, if you like guns, just say, "I like guns, they're neat, and I like taking them to the range to shoot and into the woods to hunt, and as a responsible adult, I should have that right."

Perpetuating the quick-draw cowboy bullshit does you no favors politically, and means your guns will likely not be in a gunsafe when not at the range or out hunting, because of some fantasy that ninjas might strike in the night or something.

If you want something to keep the badguys at bay, get a golden retriever with a loud "woof" - dog owners have a fraction of the break-ins and medium and large breed dog owners have a fraction of the assaults as non-pet-owners. Pets are also effective against depression and anger issues.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:18 AM on April 5, 2009 [53 favorites]


An armed society is a polite cranky society.
posted by JackFlash at 11:22 AM on April 5, 2009


You didn't buy a magic shield against villains to save your family. You brought a suicide machine into the house to kill them.


Just a bit of an overstatement, don't you think? I doubt you will win many gun owners over with such rhetoric. But then again may your point isn't to convince anyone but to vent.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:25 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Brockles, I can't comment on how things work in the UK. I don't know anything about the UK. If it's a violence-free utopia, maybe I should move there.

Yet, oddly, it doesn't seem to be 'criminal gangs' that produce these mass murder incidents, does it? So it'd certainly be effective on that score, wouldn't it?


I can't decide if I'd rather be killed by criminals or mass murderers, but I bet the odds are that I'd be killed by a non-mass-murdering criminal.

If you were going to say something reasonable, like maybe "there are simply too many guns in existence to realistically eradicate ownership" then I might respect your viewpoint.


That is indeed what I meant. I meant "the genie is out of the bottle" here in a lot of the US. There are something like 300 million firearms here.

...if you add the allowed ownership of a shotgun for farmers and guns for registered, controlled, hunting licenses (much like Canada in that regard).


I think to attain perfect security, you should prohibit those folks, too. Hunting and farming are probably relaxing, but most likely not a complete cure for mental illness.

There is no justification at all for domestic ownership of handguns or any semi-automatic weapon. Ever.

I've already stated that in my opinion, the justification is self-defense. It doesn't seem like there's a middle ground for us to meet on. I doubt that I could ever sway you. But I hope that you believe that in my situation, where I live, a reasonable person could come to share my opinions.
posted by popechunk at 11:26 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The bit I don't get popechunk is that you think the right to self-defence with guns is one you would in no circumstance give away "certainly not to a government" yet will allow the state to arbitrate whether or not you are a suitable person to own a gun. Seems you've just given the right away.
posted by Abiezer at 11:28 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


You don't win gun battles with government anymore.

Ah, it's the you can't win, so give up now argument.

It's not the weapons but the mark of submission in surrendering them. It's a hump to climb over in dissolution of individual sovereignty. When people are entirely dependent on the state to protect them, the dynamics of power resemble that of a school, or a prison.

Even with all the guns in this country, the Bush government seemed perfectly capable of doing whatever extra-constitutional activities that it wanted to.

Because both are predicated on the same flaw in emotional reasoning. The fear of mass shootings is every bit as irrational as that of terrorism. You are, as always, far more likely to be murdered by a thief than a crazed mass killer, ideologically motivated or otherwise.

There is no dichotomy between freedom and security. Both begins with the individual and the will to assert ones rights.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 11:29 AM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the "self defense" argument isn't really very compelling for me because it just doesn't seem like it would do much good. I mean, first of it's far more likely that one of your family members will end up getting killed by accident or by suicide then it would be for you to fend off home invaders. So your family is actually less safe, rather then more safe.

Secondly, so what if armed intruders do come into your house? Will a gun really protect you? I doubt it. If they're armed they'll be able to shoot back.

And home invasion is just so rare, it hardly seems like a realistic fear.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2009


When it comes to private gun ownership, Israel ranks well above most nations, and far exceeds the US, but they do not have are record for murders (based on population).
posted by Postroad at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2009


But that's not what you're going to do with it. I mean, statistically, you're much more likely to kill yourself with it, either on purpose or by accident, than use it against a home invader.

I agree with you, the odds are very, very high that I'll never use my firearm to defend myself. But I might. It'll be worth it.
posted by popechunk at 11:31 AM on April 5, 2009


There is no justification at all for domestic ownership of handguns or any semi-automatic weapon. Ever.

Even while someone is raping your wife?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 11:35 AM on April 5, 2009


You didn't buy a magic shield against villains to save your family. You brought a suicide machine into the house to kill them.

I don't believe they are a magic shield. I don't believe in magic shields.

I hope you're wrong about my family getting harmed by my firearms. I've taken steps to make sure you're wrong. If I thought that there was a serious risk, I would get rid of them. When my kids become teenagers, I probably will.

And I almost always recommend a big dog as the number one go-to method for feeling safe in your house. I don't think guns are for everyone.

I mean, if you like guns, just say, "I like guns, they're neat, and I like taking them to the range to shoot and into the woods to hunt, and as a responsible adult, I should have that right."


I like guns. I think they're neat. I like doing X with them, and as a responsible adult, I should have that right.
posted by popechunk at 11:38 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only connection between these incidents is that people died. Someone who kills their family is very different from someone who kills police officer coming to arrest him is very different from someone who kills a dozen immigrants.

Indeed, I'm agreeing so much with this. Drawing a line between every event in which more than one person is killed by shooting creates a very mixed and confused picture of what is happening. 'Mass murder' is not a valid category, and there are no such people as 'mass murderers'.




There is no justification at all for domestic ownership of handguns or any semi-automatic weapon. Ever.

Even while someone is raping your wife?


Sure! I think you should be able to kill in order to defend your property...
posted by Sova at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again, that makes vehicles more of a danger - not less of one.

I assume your overall point is that we shouldn't care much about gun related deaths and mass murders?
posted by shmegegge at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2009


The bit I don't get popechunk is that you think the right to self-defence with guns is one you would in no circumstance give away "certainly not to a government" yet will allow the state to arbitrate whether or not you are a suitable person to own a gun. Seems you've just given the right away.

You might be right. I bet the NRA and such would agree with you. But I think that society should be able to adjudicate you unfit for certain things.

It seems crazy to me that it's easier to get a drivers license than a gun. I know that society doesn't design all of the laws at the same time, so that they all make sense as a whole, but that seems very wrong to me.
posted by popechunk at 11:42 AM on April 5, 2009


I've already stated that in my opinion, the justification is self-defense.

That isn't a justification for a hand gun or semi automatic weapon, though. Why not have a shot gun? It is much, much harder to kill a lot of people with a shotgun but also (arguably) much easier to stop someone from doing you harm with one.

This is an important point - if someone is breaking into your house while you are in it with intent of doing you harm (as noted, this is extremely unlikely to happen) then a shotgun is possibly the most effective means of getting rid of them. A person would only need a hand gun or other weapon with the means to offload a lot of bullets over time if there was a concerted attack on them personally - this is beyond astronomically unlikely to happen. Basically, outside hollywood and drug dealers, the idea of a shoot out at home is absurd.

So a shot gun is good enough to fit your self defense argument. It'd scare off the vast majority of people trying to break into your house, and that's the truth. Again, hand guns and semi-auto's have NO justification at all as a shotgun is as much of a gun as can be used to justify self defence as an argument.

So, as has been pointed out, would a dog. It is extremely difficult to kill a lot of people in a school with a dog. Even a really big one. You can't have a stand off with police with a dog. But that dog is likely to reduce the chances of you needing to defend yourself with even a shotgun down to almost negligible.
posted by Brockles at 11:45 AM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine in Romania wrote this to me recently:

"There was an attempt to rob a currency exchange in Cluj this week, and a month ago in Brasov there was also a robbery with guns in which a bystander was accidentally shot. When one combines these events with a recent attack on a Romanian athlete in Budapest, it paints a very grim portrait of violence in this part of the world."

This three fairly minor events took place in cities from five to ten hours away from one another, over the course of six weeks.

She's never been to America, obviously.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:46 AM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like guns. They're neat. I like taking them to the range to shoot.

Furthermore, I see no issue with people committing suicide with guns. You can also commit suicide with knives and pills; guns are just quicker and less painful. Am I a freak because I think it's not a bad thing that suicides get to go out quickly and without pain?
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:47 AM on April 5, 2009


Secondly, so what if armed intruders do come into your house? Will a gun really protect you? I doubt it. If they're armed they'll be able to shoot back.

In your scenario, where armed invaders came into my house, are there only two options? I have a gun, or I don't have a gun? If so, I choose, "have a gun."

And home invasion is just so rare, it hardly seems like a realistic fear.

Since this is a discussion about firearm ownership, all you know about me is that I have a firearm in case I need one to defend myself. Maybe it even sounds like this is the driving force in my life, or the number one concern I have. I assure you that it isn't. If I lived in an area where home invasion was common, I would move. If I had a reasonable expectation of a home invasion, I would work a lot harder to make it not happen. I don't work very hard at it, but I do have a firearm.
posted by popechunk at 11:47 AM on April 5, 2009


If I thought that there was a serious risk, I would get rid of them. When my kids become teenagers, I probably will.

Why does your life, and that of your kids, suddenly not become worthy of defending when they are teenagers? Or is the right to defend your life not quite so important to you as you imply?

Even while someone is raping your wife?

A baseball bat would suffice. As would a dog, actually. I'd wager that I'd do a reasonable job with a kitchen knife, too.
posted by Brockles at 11:48 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


And home invasion is just so rare, it hardly seems like a realistic fear.

And yet, they are orders of magnitude times more common than mass shootings. And unlike suicidal attention whores, home invaders are deterred by an armed populace.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just so we know where all this is: "I like guns. They're neat. I like taking them to the range to shoot.".

I totally agree with this. I love guns, and find them fascinating bits of kit - especially from an engineering perspective. I'd love to have one and have shot a few in my time.

There is, however, no real justification for owning one, no matter how much I want to. I'd not want to live in an area/society where I needed one, but I'd love to plink away at (mostly inanimate) stuff with one. I'd not have an issue if that possibilty was outlawed, though.
posted by Brockles at 11:52 AM on April 5, 2009


Thanks for the link, homonculus. I don't think I've ever read anything like that before.

Part of my duties was to train young white guys, with far less talent, to promote past me. After a year or two, I was livid, and approached management. I was told that while I was certainly qualified, the other workers would not stand for a black to be promoted to the position I deserved. The position I direly wanted. It wasn’t about the money, I had something to prove, and had the requisite skills to prove it. Besides, they were lying; my white co-workers had recently voted me in as the union steward.

I had the rooftop picked out (less than 30 yards across the street from the shop), the crosshairs of my Hawke scope were sighted in, and I knew the order in which my antagonists would exit the door. I’d make sure that cocksucking bastard Steve Grabowski would be first.

I have to say: it's not hard to see where this guy was coming from. But it still doesn't explain people who kill random people who never did them any harm or kill their loved ones - like the guy in Illinois recently who killed his kids.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:53 AM on April 5, 2009


That isn't a justification for a hand gun or semi automatic weapon, though. Why not have a shot gun? It is much, much harder to kill a lot of people with a shotgun but also (arguably) much easier to stop someone from doing you harm with one.

I think a shotgun is the best home defense option, too.

I think you're mistaken if you think that hunting rifles and shotguns cannot be used in mass murder. I would much rather be pursued by a baddy with a semi-auto pistol than a shotgun or a rifle. Shotguns and rifles are far more lethal at much longer ranges than any pistol. They don't give soldiers going into combat pistols. They give them rifles.
posted by popechunk at 11:56 AM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


but why, then, is this a uniquely American phenomenon? Perhaps it's because we have 5% of the world's population, but 35-50% of its citizen-owned firearms.

Look, I don't own any guns, have no interest in guns, have no friends that are all gun-ho!, and have no real dog in this fight. But I'm seeing a lot of one off comparisons in this thread between the US and the UK, and frankly I find this unconvincing. There are a lot more countries out there to compare than the two that fit the pattern you want to see.

So I took the countries from this list of gun ownership per capita and the countries from this list of gun murders per capita. And guess what? There is a moderate negative correlation between national gun ownership and gun murders: -.31. That means the more guns there are, the less gun murders there are. Removing countries like the UK (best example low guns, low muders) or South Africa (good example low guns, high murder) barely changes the association.

And it's too bad that the gun murder list didn't have stats for a lot of the other armed nations I'm seeing there. I just wonder what the gun murder rate is in gun countries like Sweden and Finland. How about low gun Brazil? I'm just sure Brazil must be low in gun violence.
posted by dgaicun at 11:58 AM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Am I a freak because I think it's not a bad thing that suicides get to go out quickly and without pain?

Well that's not the problem with handgun suicides, or rather it is-- they're quick and easy, which makes it so much easier to successfully kill yourself on impulse. With pills/knives, you get that drifting away period where one can reconsider and, when truly facing death, think, "Is this what I really want?" Maybe it's not. Maybe it's just a fit of pique, or that oh so fresh heartbreak, or one too many cocktails...so they have the opportunity to reconsider and perhaps reach out for help to save their lives. With a gun, though, no matter how impulsive your decision, you're highly likely to succeed. My uncle, for example, so devastated by his recent divorce and the decimation of the city he loved so much (New Orleans)-- would he have gone through with it without a case of beer and a gun handy? I don't know...but I do know that it wouldn't have been so god damned easy.
posted by baphomet at 12:00 PM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, I am so bored with the gun control arguing. It's illegal to own a handgun in Chicago - we still manage to make murder capital of the year most years.

The psychology of the perpetrators is what's interesting about this.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


The ban on assault weapons really needs to be reinstated. Bullets should cost five grand a piece. Eddie Perkovic (reminding me of Derek Vinyard from American History X) is an idiot, and will be watched closely (and he probably doesn't even know it). The thought of Obama turns some peoples world upside down. Some people, especially the middle class, do not know how to live without a job or money (as they were living so well off the credit lie), snap, and murder their own loved ones, Jesus. And as for Richard (dumb ass racist) Poplawski: I bet a majority of convicts in prison do not hate, or want to kill cops (or there would be a lot more dead, because they ARE outgunned), so Popalawski's going to get it from both ends. Bad news is: it will get worse, so be a little bit more mindful, really. Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Coulter and Dick Cheney will be seeing the fruits of their labors for some time, watch. They probably sleep like babies.
posted by Flex1970 at 12:04 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


A baseball bat would suffice.

Please assume that I do not possess the mental/physical wherewithal to beat someone to death, or stab them, or hit them with a flower pot, or whatever.

I don't think that only fit men should be able to defend themselves. Less physically imposing folks have the right to self-defense as well.

Also, why is my right to protect my life limited to me "just barely surviving"? Can't I just flat-out win? Why does my right only apply if attackers of roughly equal physical prowess, and numbers, and improvised weapons, happen to attack me?
posted by popechunk at 12:14 PM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Several of these crimes were related to domestic violence. Thanks, homonculus, for the links to the articles on Poplawski, which includes this nugget:

"his former girlfriend who received a protection from abuse order against him in 2005"

The judge should take away all guns when a PFA is awarded. Period.
posted by palliser at 12:20 PM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


shmegegge: "I assume your overall point is that we shouldn't care much about gun related deaths and mass murders?"

Not as much as the tone of this post says we should.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:20 PM on April 5, 2009


I like guns. I think they're neat. I like doing X with them, and as a responsible adult, I should have that right.

I'm surprised that a 'responsible adult' would describe a device built with the sole purpose of killing other creatures as 'neat'.
posted by Elmore at 12:24 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the past few years I've become more sympathetic to the view that widespread gun ownership is a net negative. But, speaking only in terms of the United States, I'm even more sympathetic to the idea that if you ignore basic Constitutional rights because it is convenient or you think it makes us safer, you undermine the very fabric of our society.

The right to own firearms is a basic Constitutional right. That's a fact. The various circumlocutions that people go through to try and make the second amendment about something other than a right to own firearms are unconvincing. I don't believe most of the people who use those circumlocutions even believe them, they just hate guns and are willing to fudge a little to get rid of the guns.

You know who else was willing to do that?

No, not Hitler. George W. Bush and his cronies. He made the same bullshit arguments... only about rights other than the second amendment. How do you like that warrantless wiretapping? How do you like those prison camps in Cuba? How do you like American citizens held indefinitely without charge?

If you think guns should be banned in the United States without having to repeal the second Amendement, you're no different than George W. Bush. Maybe you think the results would be different. Maybe you think the results are worth it. But if you can ignore the Constitution for the greater good, then so can Bush&cronies, or the next Administration, or the one after that... and you've forfeited the right to get indignant about it.

Hate guns? Think they make America a worse, more dangerous place? Lobby for a constitutional convention. I'll even sign your petition for one. There's lots of changes I'd like to see made. But if you give a damn about the rule of law in the United States, you need a constitutional amendment. Otherwise you're just another thug wiping your ass with the Constitution.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 PM on April 5, 2009 [18 favorites]


Why does your life, and that of your kids, suddenly not become worthy of defending when they are teenagers? Or is the right to defend your life not quite so important to you as you imply?

It's the right for me to make a choice that I'm arguing for. I want to choose the best way to protect myself and my family.

I do not keep a firearm in a ready state in my home right now, because I have kids. The firearms and ammunition are secured in such a manner that both my kids and burglars are quite safe from them. And if I had an inkling that their presence was becoming dangerous, I'd relocate them. I don't see the contradiction.

But if there was a crime wave in my neighborhood, I would figure out a way to make sure they were in a ready state when I was present. I'm weighing the various risks and doing what's right for my situation.
posted by popechunk at 12:26 PM on April 5, 2009


A more relevant article about why the community here in Oakland doesn't trust the police: normally when there is child raped, the police notify local schools and sometimes the local communities- in this case, they did neither.

The local feeling is that the guy was crazy, and also, that the police don't give a damn about us living here either. It doesn't help that that the BART shooting cop "escaped police protection" and got to Nevada before he was picked up on a fugitive warrant.
posted by yeloson at 12:26 PM on April 5, 2009


The judge should take away all guns when a PFA is awarded. Period.

Amen to that.
posted by popechunk at 12:29 PM on April 5, 2009


You can't have a stand off with police with a dog

How about, say, if you had a lot of cats, and some sort of catapult device?
posted by mannequito at 12:31 PM on April 5, 2009 [19 favorites]


I'm surprised that a 'responsible adult' would describe a device built with the sole purpose of killing other creatures as 'neat'.

You must mean those "creature-killing-devices" they sell at Walmart, because that doesn't really describe all guns.
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:32 PM on April 5, 2009


Don't know if the tread was cleaned by the mods, but will say (if not) that this has been the most civil gun-control thread on mefi that I can recall. good on y'all, both sides.

Incidentally I come down on the baseball bat+dog ownership side of things, with allowances for hunting.
posted by edgeways at 12:35 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are, as always, far more likely to be murdered by a thief than a crazed mass killer, ideologically motivated or otherwise.

But you're much more likely to be killed by your wife/husband than either.

So I took the countries from this list of gun ownership per capita and the countries from this list of gun murders per capita. And guess what?

This number is not a representation of the percentage of people who possess guns in each nation. Your supposed correlation actually doesn't correlate anything meaningful at all.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:38 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm sure that Mr Poplawski would agree with your ironic statement but how exactly are you going to fight government with arms? Did his AK-47 actually give him any power over the government? How does the individual ownership of assault weapons prevent government abuse? Explain to me how that works, cause I'm not seeing it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
posted by Scoo at 12:41 PM on April 5, 2009


or kill their loved ones - like the guy in Illinois recently who killed his kids.
I'm pretty sure that guy used pills and a knife to kill his children.
posted by Sailormom at 12:42 PM on April 5, 2009


I'm surprised that a 'responsible adult' would describe a device built with the sole purpose of killing other creatures as 'neat'.

Guns were invented for killing people, and it is a task that they are good at. I'm not arguing that. In fact the bulk of what I've talked about in this thread has addressed only their use as dangerous devices for self-defense.

But to address your point, a great deal of engineering ingenuity has been applied to their manufacture over the years. If you were a person who was interested in metal-working, or machinery, or design, it's possible that you would find some firearms "neat". Many of my friends interested in firearms have built their own guns. It's an interesting hobby and challenge. I'm currently reading a book about the design of the Colt 1911, with the aim of building one myself.

Also, I participate with a bunch of other responsible adults in various shooting sports, like skeet shooting or pistol competitions. None of us wants to kill anyone. Using a firearm accurately is difficult, and learning how to do it well is rewarding.
posted by popechunk at 12:46 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with popechunk, in the sense that, if I could, I would reduce firearm ownership; but that cat is out of the bag. We aren't Britain, and we have a lot of guns. So; making a psych eval/certificate of health mandatory for gun ownership, plus background check: yes. Making guns illegal, too late.

And, as far as waves of violence go, while gun availability is a factor, I don't think it is anywhere near as big a factor as lack of access to mental health care. Compounded by bigotry, misogyny/abusiveness (wife and children always the first to go, it seems) and fueled by hate radio and hate group literature. These guys (almost always guys) who "snap" also pick targets; their families, immigrants, schoolmates.

Rather than "what month did they shoot in" I would be more interested to know if they had a history of spousal abuse, had been abused, had been in the military (or failed to get in) had been laid off, divorced, or treated for depression or outbreaks of rage in the past. Were they troubled kids at school? Could they have been reached at that age, before they hardened into killers? Much more interesting questions, almost never asked.
posted by emjaybee at 12:48 PM on April 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


One item to note: of all the suicide murderers so far this spring, whose photo can you recall seeing on the Internet?

No, not the white shooters in Pittsburgh, Alabama, Carthage NC, or Maryville IL. No, almost all of those stories are accompanied by photos of crime scene police activity or of victims, but not of the killer himself.

Perhaps not even the black shooter in Oakland. There are some photos of him that accompany related stories, but nothing like OJ Simpson in 1994.

Which leaves: the Asian shooter, the only one characterized as a coward, compared to the white shooters who are mostly portrayed as mentally unstable.

The media has made some strides since OJ regarding race, but still leaves a lot to be desired.
posted by inkyroom at 12:56 PM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


The ban on assault weapons really needs to be reinstated.

Most of the people in the recent cases were shot at close-range by semi-auto handguns.
posted by smackfu at 1:14 PM on April 5, 2009


There is so much bullshit flying in this thread.

Joe Beese's point is that we have bigger priorities than these insignificant numbers of deaths. If you think cars are only a danger to those who drive them, I would like you to come to Chicago and see all the wrecked sidewalk planters/fences I have seen since I moved here, where cars have come up off the road. Cabs are a menace.

Also, suicides just do not count. Should people not have the right to end their own lives?
posted by adamdschneider at 1:15 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm a student at Binghamton University, about 10 minutes away from the American Civic Association, and I was on campus when the guy I was talking to got a call from a friend telling him about the hostage situation. I went to the campus radio station WHRW, where my friend had to begin reporting on the air about event as we got little bits of news, we were getting a lot of info from the mayor Matt Ryan was actually reporting the event for the Press and sun bulletin online. And then we were bombarded with calls from the various media organizations, I helped her out by taking calls while she finished up her show and gave more details, it was odd to be talking to Fox news again after interning with them twice. I felt horrible for the next slot of DJs that went on, two friends of mine who are twins and have both of their shows back to back, which was 3 hours of them trying to do their show and at the same time report this news, the friend I had come to see had an okay time dealing with it, but the twins were having trouble trying to keep it together, they were frightened and angry at what happened and while they felt that they should report about what happened it was hard for them to do it without being on the verge of crying. I feel bad about saying this, but I'm going to not try to think anymore about this day during the spring break this week, I know it will be all i hear about once I get back to Binghamton and whenever I talk to someone while I'm back home now in Westchester.
posted by Del Far at 1:22 PM on April 5, 2009


There is an important legal point here that a lot of people are missing-- Justinian comes close when discussing the second amendment, but I thought I'd expand a bit on his point from a legal perspective. The point is, that in the US, the people are the sovereign.

Other people have raised good points about the sociological place of firearms in the US. Brockles has contrasted the US with the UK in terms of the availability of firearms, attitudes toward firearms and so on. The legal basis of firearms ownership is important , because it strongly informs American attitudes.

Before the US split from the British Empire, the sovereign was the King of England. This is an important thing, because the sovereign is actually the one in whose name all government acts happen. An examples
Under the British system the King actually owns the land below the high tide mark. The King can control what goes on there, who can take fish and so on. Sometimes the King can grant rights to others at his whim.

When the US split from the Empire, the sovereign became the people. This means that the lands are held in "public trust." Thus, in New York, the state government administers the lands for the good of the public. In some cases the state grants the rights to individuals for commerce etc. See: http://www.nyswaterfronts.org/waterfront_public_trust.asp for more details.

Another example of this is when the state brings a case against a person in criminal court. If you've ever watched an American (yes, that is a correct term http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/American%5B2%5D) court room drama, you will here them refer to a case as "The People vs _insert name of alleged criminal_." This is because the prosecutor exerts his or her power in the name of the people, and not for "Her Majesty's Government."

It makes sense , then , that if the people are ultimately sovereign that they should have the tools to assert said sovereignty. One might argue that the ballot box is such, and it is true, for all intensive purposes it is. However, without a formal right to bear arms, the argument is that if citizens do not actually have the ability to bring the state (over which the people at large are sovereign) to heel if it no longer properly serves the interest of the people. This is a fundamental part of the American legal system whether we like it or not.

Justinian raises a good point. If Americans want to change the Constitution, then we should amend it. I would welcome a discussion over the role of firearms in the United States, because I think the discussion has to do with how we as a society sanction violence.

If it were up to me, in fact, the United States would move to a Swiss style reserve system. Thus, everyone would participate in the common defense of the nation, and would in fact be fully empowered as _citizens_ to make national security decisions at election time based on actual knowledge about the use of force. We will always have a military establishment , even if we were to withdraw from all our overseas bases. The issue then, is what kind of military? I'm always dismayed when I hear leftist/progressive types mock the idea of universal national service. In case no one has noticed ,the neo-Pentecostal right (think Sarah Palin) has made a concerted effort to capture large segments of the military with various types of networked religious organizations. Do progressives really want to live in a country where the levers of power are populated exclusively by a particular religious/political sect? Do you really think that, if there were some sort of Phalangist movement in the United States, that you could hold them off by waving a copy of the Constitution at them, or telling them that they had to report to an oversight committee or a review board?

That's what is really on the table when we talk about gun control,-- how much citizens will hold the levers of violence. I think a Swiss style system would be a good way to both retain the sovereignty of the people, while at the same time integrating firearms ownership into the national political system. It would also mean that the idea of some guys in setting up a private militia would be looked upon as pretty stupid, since everyone would be a reservist anyways. It would also mean that the gay, indie rocker dude from San Francisco (and his neighbors in the Castro) would be as organized , trained and well armed as a bunch of neo-Pentecostal, "Quiverful" types out in Stockton.
posted by wuwei at 1:23 PM on April 5, 2009 [7 favorites]



Again, that makes vehicles more of a danger - not less of one.


I need a car to get to work. I dont need a gun to get to work. Guns are a optional vanity toy. Comparing cars to guns is apples and oranges. This is like the pro-war people saying "Haha, only 4000 soliders killed so far? Thats nothing! Look at how many people die in accidents!"
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:24 PM on April 5, 2009


This is like the pro-war people saying "Haha, only 4000 soliders killed so far? Thats nothing! Look at how many people die in accidents!"

Those pesky "pro-war people" say the darnedest things! (Though I doubt anyone's ever made this argument, at least anyone worth listening to.)
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:28 PM on April 5, 2009


There is no justification at all for domestic ownership

Highlighted the important, authoritarian part for you. For some reason, even people who claim to believe in banning guns usually don't really believe in banning guns - they just believe in keeping guns out of the hands of the hoi polloi.

But for the police and military elite? Great! Those are mostly good people right now, at least when the thin blue line isn't threatened. And whereas historically political elites have repeatedly killed millions of their own disarmed citizens, in the present even the worst of our leaders seem to be content with trillions of dollars, dubious wars, unwarranted wiretap powers, and networks of secret prisons in which to torture unconvicted suspects. They sound like just the sort of stand-up folks who we can trust with a monopoly on firearms too.

At worst, some of them are just a little high strung lately thanks to those damn gun rights. You can hardly smash in an innocent elderly woman's door anymore without worrying that she might be packing. And what's the point in even buying all that fancy SWAT gear if you don't get to use it?
posted by roystgnr at 1:38 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Making the case for concealed carry.
posted by telstar at 1:42 PM on April 5, 2009


***However, without a formal right to bear arms, the argument is that if citizens do not actually have the ability to bring the state (over which the people at large are sovereign) to heel if it no longer properly serves the interest of the people.
Should read:
"However, without a formal right to bear arms, the argument is that citizens do not actually have the ability to bring down the state (over which the people at large are sovereign) if it no longer serves the interest of the people.
posted by wuwei at 1:43 PM on April 5, 2009


Those pesky "pro-war people" say the darnedest things! (Though I doubt anyone's ever made this argument, at least anyone worth listening to.)

Deaths in Iraq compared to Philadelphia
, courtesy of the leader of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, listened to by about 10 million people a day:
posted by JackFlash at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those pesky "pro-war people" say the darnedest things! (Though I doubt anyone's ever made this argument, at least anyone worth listening to.)

Rush Limbaugh, listened to by about 10 million people a day said on August 22, 2006:

"Now, the number of highway deaths in this country, 43,443 in 2005, is 40 to 50 times our troop losses in Iraq and Afghanistan combined."
posted by JackFlash at 1:53 PM on April 5, 2009


I own a handgun and a shotgun. They are of sentimental value to me because they were left to me by my grandfather.

Since I do have small children, I keep them hidden and locked up (leaving the keys at work) and I keep no ammunition in the house. Therefore, they are absolutely of no use to me for home defense, unless I choose to beat someone over the head with them.

I live in a middle-class part of a major midwestern city in the US. I never lock my back door and I only lock the front door when I'm not home. My only home defense weapon is a Louisville Slugger that I keep in my bedroom. I have a big, loud dog, too.

How have I managed to survive like this without my wife getting raped or my whole family killed?

In the unlikely event that someone breaks into my house and a melee ensues, I'd rather have a baseball bat than a projectile weapon. With my luck, I'd accidentally shoot one of the loved ones that I'm supposed to be protecting.

I think that the problem isn't so much with the guns as with the people. We Americans are over-saturated with fear and tales of violence. If you are an American, do you or someone you know have a first-hand tale to tell about how your wife was raped while you were cuckolded at gunpoint? No?

There are so many guns in this country that making them illegal to sell wouldn't change anything. It would be like making milk illegal when everyone owns a cow. So we sort of find ourselves in a MAD situation where guns are plentiful and no one wants to be that guy who couldn't defend his wife even though that sort of thing rarely actually happens.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:54 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


JackFlash, I stand humbly corrected! Though I would say that RL doesn't really count because of the "not worth listening to" clause. Still, you're right.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:01 PM on April 5, 2009


We Americans are over-saturated with fear and tales of violence.

Yes, it's worth pointing out that those of you raising such a ruckus over these murders and clamoring for gun bans are falling into the same kind of media-induced fear trap that most of the country fell into with the whole terrorism schtick.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:08 PM on April 5, 2009


I think this is less about guns and more about the availability of mental health care to those in need of it. Which is something the US really needs to work on and which would do a lot more good than banning guns.

People in Europe go on shooting rampages too, and guns are a lot harder to get there but it doesn't stop a determined nutjob. If someone really cant' get a gun they'll use machetes or whatever is at hand.

Gun control in this case is a strawman for the stigma around getting treatment for mental illness and societies unwillingness to pony up the cash to help people who are losing their grip on reality.
posted by fshgrl at 2:08 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I live in a middle-class part of a major midwestern city in the US. I never lock my back door and I only lock the front door when I'm not home. My only home defense weapon is a Louisville Slugger that I keep in my bedroom. I have a big, loud dog, too.

How have I managed to survive like this without my wife getting raped or my whole family killed?

In the unlikely event that someone breaks into my house and a melee ensues, I'd rather have a baseball bat than a projectile weapon.

I'm happy that you live in an area where there is no poverty or violence, and that you are someone to be reckoned with when wielding a baseball bat.

Do you think this works for everyone, or do you think that there could be some situations where possessing a firearm for self-defense might be justified?
posted by popechunk at 2:09 PM on April 5, 2009


Also, why is my right to protect my life limited to me "just barely surviving"? Can't I just flat-out win? Why does my right only apply if attackers of roughly equal physical prowess, and numbers, and improvised weapons, happen to attack me?

Very well put, popechunk.
posted by jayder at 2:15 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's worth pointing out that those of you raising such a ruckus over these murders and clamoring for gun bans are falling into the same kind of media-induced fear trap that most of the country fell into with the whole terrorism schtick.

I could not agree more. This kind of thing sells. There are people in this world who make more money when tragedies like this strike, and there is resulting hysteria. Politicians who clamor to be seen as DOING SOMETHING!
posted by popechunk at 2:17 PM on April 5, 2009


Yes, it's worth pointing out that those of you raising such a ruckus over these murders and clamoring for gun bans are falling into the same kind of media-induced fear trap that most of the country fell into with the whole terrorism schtick.

This is a total straw man and I'm calling you out for it. Show me a single comment where anybody in this thread is arguing for a total ban on guns. Everybody who has expressed a personal opinion that guns have no place in our society nonetheless recognize that there's no way such a thing could ever be possible, and some of them (like Brockles) have made the case that hey, I don't personally think gun ownership is such a hot idea, but the best idea is for us to find a middle ground (read: not completely banning guns); and the one reference to a gun ban I've seen in the thread was in response to the expired assault weapons ban, a specific type of weapon you hopefully agree serves no valid purpose in self-defense, given that pistols and shotguns can quite servicabely serve this purpose.

You're ascribing an argument to the opposition that the opposition is not propounding, so your point is flaccid at best.
posted by baphomet at 2:18 PM on April 5, 2009


I'm happy that you live in an area where there is no poverty or violence, and that you are someone to be reckoned with when wielding a baseball bat.

I would strongly suggest that someone who lives in an area with pervasive poverty and violence to spend less money on firearms and ammunition and start saving for a move. I would also propose that the best way to keep one's family safe and healthy is to provide them with healthy, balanced meals, to drive safely, and to make the educational success of one's kids a paramount priority. Guns are fun -- I'm in favor of responsible gun ownership -- but they don't solve real life problems, for the most part. They solve movie problems.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:19 PM on April 5, 2009


I see lots of situations where owning a firearm are justifiable for home defense and yes, if someone actually were threatening my family, I am someone who could kill another with a baseball bat.

I'm trying to paint in some of the most complicated side issues with gun ownership. I don't want my kids to play with my guns. I don't want someone to get shot the next time my wife and I have a heated argument. I do want anyone to be able to own a gun who is so inclined and who is mentally fit to do so. I strongly believe that a lot of people get killed by guns by accident and that many people own guns not to enjoy shooting them at targets (although many do) but rather to protect themselves from a fear of something happening that is within an order of magnitude of getting hit by lightning.

For those who work the defense against the government angle, do you really think that your .30-06 is going to help you if the government decides to drive an M-1 Abrams tank onto your front yard?
posted by double block and bleed at 2:23 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stopping anyone having a gun would enormously reduce the number of incidents of this happening.

Yes, because the government's demonstrated skill at preventing the trafficking of small, easily hidden and transported objects is just soooo good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:26 PM on April 5, 2009


Scoo: "... it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

I think that you are (maybe intentionally) missing my point. The point is that outside of right-wing wolverine-fueled fantasies you are never going to throw off the government with any number of fire arms. It just ain't gonna happen. The US government controls the most powerful military in history, any suggestion that a bunch of gun nuts with their secret stash of weapons is somehow going to wrest control of America from its elected government is dangerously delusional. You can quote Thomas Jefferson until you're blue in the face but that doesn't make your Braveheart wet dream any more realistic.
posted by octothorpe at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would strongly suggest that someone who lives in an area with pervasive poverty and violence to spend less money on firearms and ammunition and start saving for a move.

Agreed. If you live in a hellscape, by all means, relocate when you can.

I would also propose that the best way to keep one's family safe and healthy is to provide them with healthy, balanced meals, to drive safely, and to make the educational success of one's kids a paramount priority.

Very hard to argue with. So hard in fact, that I never have.

What I said was, basically, "...you seem to have made the appropriate response for your situation. Is your response to your situation the right one for everyone? Or could there be situations where owning a firearm would be prudent?"
posted by popechunk at 2:32 PM on April 5, 2009


I dunno Octo, the Minute Men and the Viet Cong both took on the most powerful militaries at the time of those conflicts and won (as guerilla fighters).

And really, when did quoting the Declaration of Independence become a "Braveheart wet dream"?
posted by Scoo at 2:39 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


What I said was, basically, "...you seem to have made the appropriate response for your situation. Is your response to your situation the right one for everyone? Or could there be situations where owning a firearm would be prudent?"

There could be, and I hope most of us in the western world will never experience one. And the truth is, most of us won't ever experience one. We just won't. It won't happen. Some crazed Deliverance/Straw Dogs motherfuckers are unlikely to invade our homes. There will never be a zombie outbreak in our lifetimes. If someone tries to rob us, they will probably do their level best to ensure we are not home when that happens. If the government goes rogue on us, we will all fucking die, or be rounded up, or whatever, because I don't care how many guns you have, they have bigger ones, and more people armed with them, and that will be the whole ballgame. But that doesn't matter, because it also won't happen. What likely will happen is that you or someone you love will suffer from heart disease or diabetes, because obesity really is happening all over the place, or you'll lose your job and not have any health insurance and you or a loved one will get sick and you won't be able to afford any treatment. In the real world, those are the threats to the American family. Why the hell we're all so concerned about the dispensation of what amount to toys or security blankets for almost all of us, in the face of that, I do not know. Because it would be super damn prudent to deal with all of that far more clear and present danger than to worry about how can I defend my house against crazed ninjas without my glock, if we're really worried about keeping our families safe.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:48 PM on April 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


Scoo But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Great. How?

This is the thing you're missing: your little gun is as effective a tool for "providing new Guards for their future security" as your garden shears or a wall-clock. At the time most of the US Constitution was drafted, the technology gap between the people and the government was such that it was feasible to have an armed revolt. They just had an armed revolt, of course it was feasible. It isn't any more, and this is not an accident. You can still have a military coup, of course; arguably this is a reason why the whackjob Right have spent so much time and energy infiltrating and influencing the minds of members of the US armed forces.

But a revolt by gun-owning civilians against the US armed forces? Assume you have NRA members and weekend hunters on your side; assume you also can somehow get together a coalition of the best-armed and most violent gun-owning civilians, like bikie gangs, white separatist militias, drug-trafficker gangs, and why not, just for laughs, let's throw in the metropolitan police forces (because under this scenario, their pay stopped a while ago), to support your revolt. The nominal US government realizes it has lost control of the country and is paying and feeding, as a priority, its soldiers. This is something every dictator knows to do. So what's your plan?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:59 PM on April 5, 2009


Also, suicides just do not count. Should people not have the right to end their own lives?

Suicides count very much when someone (you or a family member) just needs some time to get over a hard situation or maybe get back on some neglected medication. Keeping a gun in the house is like building your house with a door that opens out on to a thousand-foot cliff. Keeping that gun loaded and within reach of others is like keeping that door unlocked.
posted by pracowity at 3:02 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast, I have seen zombies on this very message board.

But I don't think you really believe that I'm arming myself against zombies or ninjas, I think you are using those examples to make me look like a nut job, who is preparing for something that will never happen, so that I can feel personally powerful, like the dudes in movies.

I am not gearing up for zombie apocalypse. I am not laying out free-fire zones in my house. I'm not drilling the kids in belt-fed-weapons maintenance.

But if there was a bump in the number of burglaries in my neighborhood, I would take precautions, which might include having a shotgun handy. This would not cause me to stop worrying about my kids education, or health, or health care. It's not an either/or scenario, and I can assure you I am giving each it's proper ratio of mental energy.

You can possess a firearm without being a wannabe.
posted by popechunk at 3:12 PM on April 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


I like guns. I'm very proficient with them too. But I choose not to own one. If society starts breaking down, I will nevertheless go buy a few...but I'd much rather not. If society gets to the point where I feel an actual need to own a gun, then things will be grim indeed out there.

I hope they do bring back the assault rifle ban, simply because I don't see a need for them for hunting or self-defense. I did own an AR-15 for a while, but eventually sold it, and don't see any reason to consider replacing it. I did actually have a semi-valid purpose for it, but that was only because I was in the Army at the time: I tweaked that thing so it was PERFECT for my shooting, and I used that to qualify my marksmanship as necessary, then while everyone else was stuck cleaning their M-16s for two hours, I'd just turn in my AR-15 and head off post. It was a time-saver for me, basically. (They did eventually catch on to my craftiness and disallow me using my own weapon to qualify, but it took 'em over a year to figure out what I was doing.)

If I do decide that society has become so dangerous that getting some guns is the best way to protect my household and those in it, then I'm thinking of getting a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9mm pistols with good-sized mags, and maybe one decent hunting rifle with a scope. For now, I have a Rawlings baseball bat, a mean nail gun, and in-depth knowledge of my floorplan, and I consider that sufficient. For now.

One scary stat I read a while ago: the mere fact that you have a gun in your home increases the odds of someone living in that abode will commit suicide. Not necessarily by gun, mind you, and not necessarily the person with control of the gun(s). There's no direct cause and effect; maybe people who buy guns (or those who live with those type of people) are simply more prone to suicide. I don't know. But if you have a gun in your home, the odds of someone living there committing suicide is doubled just by walking through the door with a gun. It's like their essential 'gunness' radiates outward and increases suicidal thoughts or something.
posted by jamstigator at 3:16 PM on April 5, 2009


There will never be a zombie outbreak in our lifetimes.

You are more optimistic than I. This is actually the motivation for my stockpile of home defense weapons, though I own no firearms: a sword, medieval mace, war axe, viking spear, katana, a small assortment of knives, and a sturdy shield make a perfectly useful 7th-century home defense system. Sure, you gun folks may have range on those zombies, but what happens when y'all run out of bullets? My weapons can be maintained indefinitely with a few simple tools.

Besides, what's more frightening to a home intruder, somebody shouting "I HAVE A GUN!" down the stairs, or somebody running at you screaming bloody murder with a spear pointed at your gizzard? Just sayin'.

But yeah, zombies. I'm ready.
posted by baphomet at 3:16 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine using a handgun for home defense. Drywall isn't much of a barrier to anything, and I wouldn't want to gamble on my ability to shoot straight at a guy who was raping someone I cared about: anything that isn't him is generally her. (Besides missing, I don't know the first thing about the relevant ballistics--Google poking tells me some bullets are better than others).

If anything can get pulled out of these MeFi gun control scraps (what is it lately? There's been one a day for the last week), it's something like this:

If the problem is people, not guns, then it's the gun culture that decides how many people are going to catch a bullet. And that goes for homicides, suicides and accidents.

I respect (and fear) firearms. Miscounting the number of shells you've fired from the shotgun you're holding and having it go off when you've halfway turned to where your parents are standing tends to stick with a lad.
posted by Decimask at 3:17 PM on April 5, 2009


Just make all guns illegal. Hey it worked for drugs, right?
posted by hamida2242 at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Which leaves: the Asian shooter, the only one characterized as a coward, compared to the white shooters who are mostly portrayed as mentally unstable.

The media has made some strides since OJ regarding race, but still leaves a lot to be desired.


I work in media with several Chinese-American guys who groaned out loud when the Binghamton shooter was identified as Asian--it was real angst. Several of them immediately brought up the Virginia Tech shooter. They were very happy when he was later identified as Vietnamese (although possibly Vietnamese of Chinese extraction).

Also, speaking of crime though slightly off topic, did you see this LA Times story about serial murders and long-haul truckers? Damned scary
posted by etaoin at 3:26 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Miscounting the number of shells you've fired from the shotgun you're holding and having it go off when you've halfway turned to where your parents are standing tends to stick with a lad

Your parents gave you a loaded shotgun without explaining fundamental gun safety topics like"always assume it's loaded," "control where it's pointing at all times" and "keep your finger off the fucking trigger?"

There's a reason it's called a "negligent discharge" and not an "accidental discharge."
posted by hamida2242 at 3:26 PM on April 5, 2009


One scary stat I read a while ago: the mere fact that you have a gun in your home increases the odds of someone living in that abode will commit suicide. Not necessarily by gun, mind you, and not necessarily the person with control of the gun(s). There's no direct cause and effect; maybe people who buy guns (or those who live with those type of people) are simply more prone to suicide. I don't know. But if you have a gun in your home, the odds of someone living there committing suicide is doubled just by walking through the door with a gun. It's like their essential 'gunness' radiates outward and increases suicidal thoughts or something.

Wanna read that peer-reviewed study
posted by hamida2242 at 3:27 PM on April 5, 2009


Also WTF cops? For years we've been told that militarizing the police force was necessary; that they just HAD to have the APC's and the masks, the automatic weapons and the armor, the grenades and the gas- because of the threat of "active shooters" or North Hollywood-type gunfights. Then this shit in Binghamton goes down- the Rainbow Six fantasy these idiots have finally becomes reality- and then SWAT just chills outside for like an hour until the dude kills himself.

Is it just not as fun when the criminal can shoot back or what?
posted by hamida2242 at 3:31 PM on April 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Surely anybody who advocates guns as self-defense in case of home intruder will want to purchase at least one of these.
posted by hippybear at 3:38 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even while someone is raping your wife?

A baseball bat would suffice.


You are clearly an experienced fighter, so maybe you can advise me: I don't have a baseball bat, but I do have an axe. Do you think the axe would suffice? Also, I'm not very big. The rapist wouldn't try to take the axe away from me would he? Beacuse that would be unsportsmanlike.
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Before the US split from the British Empire, the sovereign was the King of England. This is an important thing, because the sovereign is actually the one in whose name all government acts happen. An examples Under the British system the King actually owns the land below the high tide mark.

This may or may not be true, but at least we can get a blow job or have anal sex without the Queen sticking her nose into our bedrooms.

Let me see, go fishing or a get a blow job? It's a hard choice I know, but on reflection, I know which of the two *I'd* rather have.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:44 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blow jobs at gun point are definitely off-limits here though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:46 PM on April 5, 2009


> Also WTF cops? For years we've been told that militarizing the police force was necessary; that they just HAD to have the APC's and the masks, the automatic weapons and the armor, the grenades and the gas- because of the threat of "active shooters" or North Hollywood-type gunfights. Then this shit in Binghamton goes down- the Rainbow Six fantasy these idiots have finally becomes reality- and then SWAT just chills outside for like an hour until the dude kills himself.

Is it just not as fun when the criminal can shoot back or what?

Obviously you didn't even look at the article linked to about the Carthage, NC, police officer, then? The one at the top of the page.

That police officer knowingly placed himself in mortal danger and entered that nursing home with his sidearm and two clips and no back-up because that is his job. And there was plenty of shooting back from the criminal.
posted by nautical-by-nature at 3:47 PM on April 5, 2009


All that was done, and this took place at a shooting range. I just fucked up on several points. It's called human error.
posted by Decimask at 3:51 PM on April 5, 2009


Why can't we all just get along?

That being the case, the Uhuru Movement makes me want to go on a bit of a shooting spree myself. Not to say she wasn't good in Star Trek.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:57 PM on April 5, 2009


Also, you people talk about the Second Amendment as though your country was founded upon it or something.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:00 PM on April 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


you have a right to privacy so of course you can have an abortion - but you can't have a handgun in your home

the government should stop telling you what drugs you can possess but it should stop you from having a handgun in your home

the police can't be trusted, they're thugs, the government is going to take away all our rights but they should be the only ones who have guns

x amount of people were killed by guns last year so let's start a civil war in this country by banning them and getting even more people killed

the contradictions of the people who are "liberal" until confronted with the right to bear arms shows how little some think things through
posted by pyramid termite at 4:03 PM on April 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


popechunk, the Google search string:

gun killed "own child" accident

will net you over 25,000 hits. And yes, lots are false positives for one reason or another, but the first page alone has five tragedies to make you weep for days.

There's a particular case stuck in my mind from a couple of years ago of a dad who had guns for just about exactly the reasons you list, who got them out of their 'safe' place and shot and killed an intruder. It was his son, playing a prank.

There are endless stories of kids killing siblings by accident because they couldn't resist playing with forbidden guns, of guns that couldn't have been loaded but were.

I just read about a boy who shot his father dead in a momentary rage because his Internet access had been restricted.

Couldn't happen to your family, you say, because you're too smart and too careful? Bullshit.

It's probably pretty difficult for a Canadian to convey to an American, who's grown up thinking guns are normal, just how batshit insane the American gun culture, and your gun laws, look to most of the democratic, civilized world.

You want a fair comparison to the U.S.? Forget South Africa. The U.S. rate of gun homicides per 100,000 population is EIGHT TIMES the Canadian rate. (Source: Statistics Canada)
posted by namasaya at 4:20 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's something amiss with the Binghamton case, which is different from Carthage. The mayor was quick to go on TV to brag about his well-trained SWAT officers. But the cops all waited, as they did at Columbine, until they were sure there was no more shooting going on. I don't expect police to go in the second they arrive without any clue what's going on. But dammit, they are a heck of a lot better armed than the poor civilians dying on the floor, or, like the reception, wounded, trying to do her duty by calling the police and staying on the phone for NINETY MINUTES while the cops hung around outside. C'mon, people. If the cops are going to wait til the danger's over, perhaps they shouldn't have guns, either.
posted by etaoin at 4:23 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


One scary stat I read a while ago: the mere fact that you have a gun in your home increases the odds of someone living in that abode will commit suicide.

Wanna read that peer-reviewed study


It was actually in the New England Journal of Medicine. Now the study is 15 years old, so I can't say whether it has held up over time. And it only covered data from two counties. But it was peer-reviewed.

gun killed "own child" accident will net you over 25,000 hits. And yes, lots are false positives for one reason or another, but the first page alone has five tragedies to make you weep for days.

You could do the same for swimming pools. Should they be banned?
posted by smackfu at 4:25 PM on April 5, 2009


> gun killed "own child" accident will net you over 25,000 hits. And yes, lots are false positives for one reason or another, but the first page alone has five tragedies to make you weep for days.

You could do the same for swimming pools. Should they be banned?


Oh, please.

Is that really supposed to be an argument?
posted by namasaya at 4:33 PM on April 5, 2009


You could do the same for swimming pools. Should they be banned?

Banning swimming pools alone isn't enough, we must go to the source of this issue, dihydrogen monoxide. Swimming pools are the assault weapons of the dihydrogen monoxide world.

Once we've banned this dangerous substance, we will be safe again!!
posted by formless at 4:37 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


While we're at it, we should ban birth - out of 1,000 children born, 1,000 of them will die at some point. That's a quite terrifying statistic.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:38 PM on April 5, 2009


double block and bleed - I liked everything you wrote, but at the end there's this metaphor

making them illegal to sell wouldn't change anything. It would be like making milk illegal when everyone owns a cow.

but really, most people wouldn't be making their guns at home like popechunk. A better analogy is obviously something like marijuana now: technically illegal, but almost everyone can find a way to obtain it with minimal effort.
posted by mannequito at 4:42 PM on April 5, 2009


We can add another six to the tally. That brings it to 50 since March 10, doesn't it?

No question, mass murder is becoming the stylish way to resolve personal problems.
posted by jayder at 4:43 PM on April 5, 2009


gun killed "own child" accident will net you over 25,000 hits.

Whoopty-freakin'-doo. Google "ran over" "own child" and you get 14,000 hits.

Not far from where I grew up a man backed his truck over his two-year-old. I saw the blood stained sawdust on the driveway.

The possible combination of stupid people and guns no more diminishes my right to own them than does the same combination with cars.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 4:47 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


namasaya I am grateful for your concern for my kids. Thanks for your comment.

I am in 100% agreement with (what I take to be) the point of your comment, which is that there are a great many situations that are made much worse by adding guns to them, especially houses with kids in them. As I stated earlier in the thread, in all likelihood I will be removing all of the guns from my house as my kids get older. I don't currently have guns in my house in a condition which lends itself to easy use.

My argument is that some people do have situations where access to a firearm in a ready state can help. My argument is that the ability to defend your life is a fundamental human right, and that in the US these days, firearms are probably the best solution in those cases.

I am not knowledgeable about Canada. Surely not as knowledgeable as most Canadians are about the US.

I live in Texas now, but I grew up in the American northeast, in a place where it was decidedly unusual to possess a firearm. I first fired a gun when I was around 35 years old, and it scared the holy hell out of me. My wife and I, and most of our dearest friends, are liberal democrats. I did not grow up in a gun culture.

Since I have gotten involved in shooting sports lately, and have been confronted by these issues due to my new found enthusiasm for firearms and my lifelong liberalism, I have given these issues a great deal of thought recently.

I discuss the very issues you raise with my wife quite often, and I will think hard on your comment. Thanks again.
posted by popechunk at 4:54 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, you people talk about the Second Amendment as though your country was founded upon it or something.

One problem with the internet is that there are no body language cues to show when someone is not being serious. And I can't tell if you're being serious, so: Yeah, the country was indeed founded on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, of which the Second Amendment is an important part. Just like freedom of speech. So, yes, the United States was founded in a very real sense on the second amendment (and first, and fourth, and...)
posted by Justinian at 4:58 PM on April 5, 2009


The possible combination of stupid people and guns no more diminishes my right to own them than does the same combination with cars.

So, I guess you're suggesting the number of stupid people per 100,000 in the United States is a freakin' large multiple of the same number in Canada?

And that anyone who killed their child with a gun must be stupider than you?

(And, oddly enough, I've never heard anyone claim they had either a car, or a swimming pool, to "protect their family.")
posted by namasaya at 4:59 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


most people wouldn't be making their guns at home like popechunk

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I was going to turn my daughter's bike into a machine gun or some such thing. I would buy a kit. Such a thing would be easy to regulate.
posted by popechunk at 5:04 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


popechunk, the reasonableness of your responses in the intense back and forth of some of this discussion does you great credit, and I salute it.
posted by namasaya at 5:05 PM on April 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


kittens for breakfast, I have seen zombies on this very message board.

But I don't think you really believe that I'm arming myself against zombies or ninjas, I think you are using those examples to make me look like a nut job, who is preparing for something that will never happen, so that I can feel personally powerful, like the dudes in movies.


Not like a nutjob, no, but like someone who wants to feel personally powerful...yeah? I think it's kind of disingenuous to say that that's not a component of wanting to own a gun. I doubt anyone who didn't either (a) think guns were kinda badass just on GP or (b) actively feared criminal activity would ever own a gun, and either way, that's wanting to empower yourself. I'm just saying, I can accept Argument A, I get Argument A. But under most circumstances, Argument B is sorta bullshit. There's just about nothing in normal life you're going to need a gun for. I've lived my whole life without one, occasionally in some ghetto-ass places, and I'm just fine. I've known a few gun owners, and I do not know one story about somebody I know personally using a gun in self-defense. Or at all, except at stationary targets and deer. Not even one. I think gun enthusiasts fall back on Argument B because it gives their defense of owning guns a gravity that it doesn't really deserve. The thing is, I don't think that argument needs any gravity anyway, because owning a gun because you wanna is totally enough for me. With background checks, with instruction, with reasonable precautions, go for it. But call it what it is: It's a hobby.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:10 PM on April 5, 2009


I've never heard anyone claim they had either a car, or a swimming pool, to "protect their family."

What, you've never heard of Volvo?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 5:10 PM on April 5, 2009


Justinian, according to your profile you are the Emperor of Byzantium. Wow. Hail, dude.
posted by dydecker at 5:11 PM on April 5, 2009


Technically I "own" two guns, left to me by my grandfather, and neither have been fired for probably fifty years at least. Presently, they remain at my parents' house. I was raised in a household without guns, until, perhaps out of some cultural heritage, my father went and bought me a bb gun when I turned 12. The highest caliber gun I've ever fired was a .22.

I don't believe in the ownership of assault rifles.

I do feel that as an American, I have the right to the ownership of a gun. I have the right to go out and buy a gun. I don't mind if it means waiting a few days or a few minutes for a background check. When I have children, I might very well have guns in the household. If so, I intend to have a gun safe, and more so, educate my children so as they know they are not toys, nor something they should ever handle unless under my strict supervision.

I think a major problem is that a lot of people look at guns and see them as answers. Answers to fears or problems, or the answers of problems plaguing society. Rather, for all the problems that guns "cause", there are problems that require answers that aren't guns. They answers that demand fixing socio-economic problems that plague our country. Fixing those problems won't remove all murders by guns, but it would dramatically reduce them.
posted by Atreides at 5:12 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, you've never heard of Volvo?

Touché, sir. And there is also this.

Bulletproof cars.
posted by namasaya at 5:17 PM on April 5, 2009


popechunk, the reasonableness of your responses in the intense back and forth of some of this discussion does you great credit, and I salute it.

Strongly seconded, my thanks and respect for keeping the discussion civil.
posted by baphomet at 5:19 PM on April 5, 2009


Also, speaking of crime though slightly off topic, did you see this LA Times story about serial murders and long-haul truckers? Damned scary

Off topic, but the FBI just figured this out 5 years ago? Hollywood was on to them decades ago.
posted by fshgrl at 5:21 PM on April 5, 2009


The argument that people need to have easy access to a gun sometimes rests on the assumption that a gun is the best tool for self defense against assault. That might be the case in some circumstances, but if the assulter fires first, I guess the odds of being able to extract a gun and fire back drop considerably, much to the surprise of those who bought into a distorted sense of security obtained by having a gun.

Distorted becuase even if one plastered the whole house with "I carry a gun" stickers or carried a gun in a evident way, that would probably just only deter improvised or frontal assaults. Even an unsophisticated assaulter can figure out that one needs the element of surprise to make any deterrent useless, but many people seem to believe they will not be taken by surprise if they own a gun. That's an illusion that helps selling guns and of course gun salespeople are likely to help reinforce it by displaying the istances in which having a gun made a difference, while ignoring or rationalizing the instance in which having a gun made no difference at all.

The fact that some people feel so unsafe they think they need a gun to feel safe, the fact that there are some subcultures which advocate racism and violence, all of that seems to be considered as unremarkable, until an headline pops out such as "supremacist kills". It gets five minute of attention, the causes of the event are seldom and superficially investigated and the viewer is left with the idea that it was just an unexplained randomly occourring event, apparently unrelated and unpredictable.
posted by elpapacito at 5:24 PM on April 5, 2009


Not like a nutjob, no, but like someone who wants to feel personally powerful...yeah? I think it's kind of disingenuous to say that that's not a component of wanting to own a gun.

I can buy that. I have no idea how much my penis might be lying to me about this whole, "guns are nifty" thing. My penis is extremely persuasive, and has led me down the wrong path more than once.

Surely there is an element of power involved. Perhaps I was being disingenuous. Because one of the most alluring psychic arguments for firearm possession by citizens (in my mind) is taking ownership of your own life and safety, and making a positive decision to not be a victim, or a frustrated customer of your local police department.

I've lived my whole life without one, occasionally in some ghetto-ass places, and I'm just fine. I've known a few gun owners, and I do not know one story about somebody I know personally using a gun in self-defense. Or at all, except at stationary targets and deer. Not even one.

Good. I'm glad. I hope to never need one either. But your argument reminds me of one I have with friends who explain to me that food stamps and welfare are bullshit, because they worked their way out of poverty, and they knew this one dude who got food stamps, but could still afford to smoke like goddamned chimney, etc.

I think gun enthusiasts fall back on Argument B because it gives their defense of owning guns a gravity that it doesn't really deserve.

I think that in a lot of cases you are right. But it does not change how fundamental that right actually is, even if it's constantly brought up by morons.
posted by popechunk at 5:33 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


> There's something amiss with the Binghamton case, which is different from Carthage. The mayor was quick to go on TV to brag about his well-trained SWAT officers. But the cops all waited, as they did at Columbine, until they were sure there was no more shooting going on.

Do you have a cite? Because from what I am reading you have misrepresented what happened. In Binghamton the officers on the scene waited because the firing had stopped and there were no 911 calls reporting additional firing, unlike Columbine.
posted by nautical-by-nature at 5:35 PM on April 5, 2009


mannequito: "157double block and bleed - I liked everything you wrote, but at the end there's this metaphor

making them illegal to sell wouldn't change anything. It would be like making milk illegal when everyone owns a cow.

but really, most people wouldn't be making their guns at home like popechunk. A better analogy is obviously something like marijuana now: technically illegal, but almost everyone can find a way to obtain it with minimal effort.
"

Yeah, I was sort of groping to get my point across, but you've done it better for me. If someone gave me $1000, I'm pretty sure that I could come up with a .38, a few joints and their change within 24 hours (I wouldn't actually do that). That even takes into account the facts that I haven't smoked (or therefore bought) marijuana since the early '90s and I'm not on close terms with a black market gun cartel.

I have no problem with people who want to own a gun. As I've said before, I own two myself. I just think that wanting to own a gun to protect your home from something that probably isn't going to happen or to protect your rights against a government gone amok is a symptom of the bullshit fears that have been instilled into us. If someone is going to break into your home to kill you, then they will probably shoot you while you sleep, very possibly with your gun. If the government wants to eliminate you, then you are gone, regardless of what your armory looks like.

If you get into a life-or-death struggle with someone, I don't think that you get to say a cool monologue before you put a cap in their ass and be the hero of the town. More likely is that you and your assailant will struggle for the weapon before it is discharged. I don't know about you, but I don't want a gun fired in my house unless I know exactly where the bullet is going to land. With a baseball bat I don't have to make these kind of quick life altering (or ending) decisions in the heat of the moment. I can just aim for any part of my assailant's body and keep swinging until he or she stops moving.

By this point you may think that I have a naive idea about crime. I don't. My house was burgled about 12 years ago. It was a professional job and they took everything of value, but they were careful to be sure that we were at a funeral out of town. Locking my doors (which they actually were at the time) and having guns (several were stolen) didn't change anything.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:45 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


No question, mass murder is becoming the stylish way to resolve personal problems.

John Brunner certainly called it close; it is 2009 and we could all still fit on Zanzibar.
posted by hippybear at 6:00 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


a specific type of weapon you hopefully agree serves no valid purpose in self-defense

I do not. In fact, a short(ish) AR-15 is probably the best weapon for home defense, the kind of self-defense most often spoken of and alluded to in these discussions.

Would you like to know why? It's mainly because of overpenetration concerns. Lightweight 5.56x45 bullets have been shown to be much, much less prone to penetrate internal walls than either shotgun pellets (00 buck or #4) or handgun bullets (such a 9x19). Shooting someone with any of these is likely to result in a termination of the encounter (although you may have to shoot more than once; On Combat was illuminating in this regard), but your biggest concern should be keeping the bullets where they belong, in the attacker, and not going through walls to hurt your loved ones or your neighbors.

As for the "no one is calling for a ban," I'm pretty sure I could show you to be wrong based on this thread alone, but I'd have to go back and re-read it (just skimmed the first time), and I sadly do not have the time right now (have to do taxes, dishes and health care election, not to mention exercise). I will say, though, that perhaps I am simply letting the memory of past MeFi gun discussions color my response to this particular thread, as people certainly have called for that very thing on this very site in the past.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:25 PM on April 5, 2009


There's another issue that seems to always go unaddressed in these gun control threads that should be brought up: sometimes you have family, friends or associates that are only too willing to sell you out on the basis of 'mental illness' or whatever else may happen to be convenient for them at any given time, usually based on some disagreement that you have had with them at one point or another.

It's a very cheap and easy way for people to fuck you over, using the legal system to deprive you of your rights because, more often than not, they have spent time in lockup themselves and have familiarized themselves with the procedures and means by which they may bring those things into play against you.

My impression is that this kind of thing happens every day in this country, but I'll be damned if I can find any good links to illustrate it. Maybe some of you can? I'm not particularly interested in owning any guns, but I've been subject to hateful people who have made me out to be some kind of mental case, due to basic disagreements of one kind or another. The resentment that can build up under such conditions can be extreme. Betrayal is an ugly thing.

I in no way agree with the actions of any of these murderers. I'm appalled whenever it comes up. But it seems to me that the U.S. is really good breeding ground for brown nosers, back stabbers and badge lickers, if only because of the percentage of its citizens that it has sent through the criminal justice system, and the lessons they have been taught there.

Back to your regularly-scheduled gun control debate. I'd just say that you're never going to be able to do much about that, considering the prevalence of guns in this country; but you're ability to deal with your own friends, family and neighbors is in your own hands, if you care to deal with that situation face on: it all comes down to human interaction at some level.
posted by metagnathous at 6:30 PM on April 5, 2009


If the government wants to eliminate you, then you are gone...

Not to sound like ELIZA, but how does that make you feel?
posted by popechunk at 6:31 PM on April 5, 2009


I believe the comments at the bottom of this article may shed some light on the thought process of the man who killed his 5 children in WA state.

Apparently some guys own guns so they can shoot the bitch when she leaves them and avoid having to pay her alimony or look like a pussy in front of their friends. The posters do add a caveat that shooting innocent children, while totally understandable in this case, is over the top. If the state would just outlaw adultery and arrest cheatin' wimmin like the Bible says, none of this would have been necessary.

Comments are being deleted so get 'em while they're hot.
posted by fshgrl at 6:37 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


As for the "no one is calling for a ban," I'm pretty sure I could show you to be wrong based on this thread alone, but I'd have to go back and re-read it (just skimmed the first time)

See that's the thing-- I read all the comments the first time, and then re-read the entire thing before I posted that comment to make sure I wouldn't get my ass handed to me if I posted that, so I can say with confidence that nobody is calling for that in this thread. That said, I agree with your contention-- making the argument that guns should be banned because of mass murders really is the same fear trap as the terrorism arguement, like you say-- the issue I take is that you said "Yes, it's worth pointing out that those of you raising such a ruckus over these murders and clamoring for gun bans", and while people in other threads and elsewhere certainly will make that argument, none of them are here in this thread, which is how you made it sound.
posted by baphomet at 6:39 PM on April 5, 2009


fshgrl, that thread will give me nightmares.

...and while people in other threads and elsewhere certainly will make that argument, none of them are here in this thread, which is how you made it sound.

I thought I was going to "gotcha", too, but you were right.

I still get "Hippy Chick" and "How Soon is Now" confused on the radio, because the start out the same ;-)
posted by popechunk at 6:46 PM on April 5, 2009


s/because the start/because they start/
posted by popechunk at 6:47 PM on April 5, 2009


Well I for one think handguns should be banned to stop mass murders/cut homicide rates. But then again I'm not American so this is a pretty uncontroversial opinion.

The 2nd Amendment is a blot on an otherwise pretty stand up document.
posted by dydecker at 6:51 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's in your hands. Was my comment hard to see, or not worth discussing?

It's in your hands at the level where you live your lives. Government isn't going to do diddly for you. It's up to you to heal your relations. Government won't ever do that for us. We need to reestablish trust of some kind between us. As hard as it may to accept, those shooters are victims on some level.

I'm poor, I'm sick - but I'm not looking to rip you off in any way. You want a solution to this crap? Well, look around, and listen to your neighbor, dammit.

I'm enough of a bum to see all this shit from the outside. Do you care to see how it looks from here?
posted by metagnathous at 7:11 PM on April 5, 2009


popechunk- sadly gun control is not a cure for being a crazy misogynistic asshole. Even if you took all the guns away tomorrow people would still engage in these behaviors.

I think regular people find it easier to get behind banning guns than to address the root cause of the problem which is that some people are hateful, violent, misogynists/ racists/ crazies who reserve the right to settle disputes OK Corral style anytime they see fit. At best we tolerate such attitudes in those we know and at worst we feed it. Then something happens and we all act shocked- omg, who'da thunk he'd really kill his wife? Even though he beats her and threatens to shoot her all the time?
posted by fshgrl at 7:14 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's in your hands. Was my comment hard to see, or not worth discussing?

metagnathous, I'm sorry I did not mean to ignore you. I did read your comment. It sounded like you had a lot on your mind that I wasn't sure how to address. There's some heavy stuff there, I hope everything's okay with you.

You are right, it does come down to how you treat your friends, family and neighbors. If we're neighbors, I hope you extend your hand to me, I will take it.
posted by popechunk at 7:30 PM on April 5, 2009


octothorpe: Iraqi Insurgency.
posted by wuwei at 7:31 PM on April 5, 2009


Vicious waves of horrific gun violence don't kill people, vicious waves of guns kill people.

No, vicious waves of guns don't kill people. Vicious waves of bullets kill people.

No, vicious waves of bullets don't kill people. Vicious waves of people kill people.

I think we know what's really wrong. Vicious waves kill people. We don't need gun control, we need vicious wave control!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:36 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are right, it does come down to how you treat your friends, family and neighbors. If we're neighbors, I hope you extend your hand to me, I will take it.
posted by popechunk at 9:30 PM on April 5


Thank you, popechunk - I appreciate the gesture greatly; but forget about me. I'm okay. Just cultivate an awareness of those around you and you'll be doing everything that you can to turn the tide. That's where any difference any of us can make begins, at least it seems that way from where I'm sitting.
posted by metagnathous at 7:41 PM on April 5, 2009


"The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself."

Word, Publilius Syrus.

I don't live in a lovely little pleasantville, but I can't imagine going to bed gripped in fear of such slight chances in which one would really need to defend themselves to the death. There are places where odds are higher than slight chances - but I highly doubt that's the case for most people worrying waves of "horrific gun violence sweeping the nation." Cul-de-sac, more likely. Death, paranoia is thy name.
posted by raztaj at 7:43 PM on April 5, 2009


The nominal US government realizes it has lost control of the country and is paying and feeding, as a priority, its soldiers. This is something every dictator knows to do. So what's your plan?

Well, presumably Frauenfelder will have unveiled the Personal Force Field/Projector Belt (PFFPB) project in the pages of Make by then.
posted by Scoo at 8:01 PM on April 5, 2009


Ah these threads are so crazy.

I think guns are kind of cool as well, but I also think that living in a city of 7 million people where there is almost NO gun violence at all is even cooler.
posted by awfurby at 8:17 PM on April 5, 2009


Man, people who hate guns are almost as annoying as people who love guns.

Both gun nuts and anti-gun nuts have one thing in common, the hypothetical situation. Yes the good old hypothetical situation, that is less likely to happen to them or the people they love than a deadly car accident. But I'm sorry, you were saying; something about a roving band of 1%er bikers breaking in and the family dog getting a bullet in the head in the ensuing firer fight, thus proving your point that guns are great, guns are bad.
posted by nola at 8:34 PM on April 5, 2009


Obviously, the best path for everyone is some middle road and greater control for allowed owning and usage, but if this is too hard to control accurately, then no-one getting one is by far the better option

Except that "no one getting one" is never an option. In countries like Britain, there are still plenty of criminals with guns. I'm not saying you can't make it harder for your average thug if you have super-strict laws like there, but "no one" is never an option. They have mass shootings there too (1996 Dunblane, for example), but again less common.

I'm not sure why people think it's impossible that you would be able to use a gun to defend yourself. My next-door neighbor had a home invasion a few years ago (a crazy guy, luckily he was weak/crazy enough that a gun wasn't needed) --- if I had a gun then (which I do now) I would have wanted it with me when I went to investigate the cries for help. It's rare, but in those rare circumstances you can't wait to go buy one. Or in circumstances like Katrina where the government says "fuck you, take care of yourselves."
posted by wildcrdj at 8:37 PM on April 5, 2009


Interestingly, the impression I took away from the film BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE was that it wasn't just the easy access to guns that lead to the greater degree of gun violence in the U.S. - it was the proclivity of the media to COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY TERRIFY US ALL for the sake of ratings. No matter what the item is, the headlines are always screaming doom, despair, mayhem, panic, and hysteria at us, and made us all paranoid and jumpy. THAT'S the problem.

And hell, I'd buy that theory for a dollar.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 PM on April 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yay, a Katamari Damacy thread. Let's roll over something else.

I dunno, Saxon Kane, I think not having a gun makes me 100% less likely to use it.

I know, totally. Like if drugs killed people, for instance, but then we made them illegal and then they didn't kill people anymore because nobody would have them.
posted by ctmf at 9:31 PM on April 5, 2009


none of them are here in this thread, which is how you made it sound.

Ok, I will take your word for it (no sarcasm). That initial comment of mine definitely was colored by previous MeFi threads on this topic, so apologies for the misleading/wrong contention.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:34 PM on April 5, 2009


If you were going to say something reasonable, like maybe "there are simply too many guns in existence to realistically erradicate ownership" then I might respect your viewpoint.

There are simply too many guns in existence to realistically eradicate ownership.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:52 PM on April 5, 2009


home invaders are deterred by an armed populace.

Well, yes and no. Guns are pretty high up on the "stuff stolen in B&Es" list. So, let's say an unarmed criminal breaks into your house while you're out (which, let's face it, is basically the only time they're going to do it). If he finds a gun, he's no longer an unarmed criminal.

Legit gun owners supply guns to criminals.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Legit gun owners supply guns to criminals.

HaHA! Interesting. No, really. I have never heard that angle before, and I've been occasionally skimming these tedious guns yes/no arguments for as long as I can remember.

How is that possible?
posted by ctmf at 10:04 PM on April 5, 2009


[not that it's especially logically sound or convincing. just new to me, that's all]
posted by ctmf at 10:06 PM on April 5, 2009


but I also think that living in a city of 7 million people where there is almost NO gun violence at all is even cooler.

Seven million? A measly seven? Pfffftt! Try 12,369,000, bro! Tokyo IN YOUR FACE!!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:12 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


not that it's especially logically sound or convincing.

Which part are you having trouble with?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:19 PM on April 5, 2009


How is that possible?

Because the guns are stolen.

I support the second amendment. I also donate regularly to the Brady Campaign because I support sensible gun laws and regulations. I don't personally own any guns. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't make it the right thing to do.
posted by various at 10:21 PM on April 5, 2009


Fuck. I didn't come here to read all this anti-zombie horseshit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:25 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


PYOO! PYOO! PYOO! I KNEW IT!!! I WAS RIGHT!!!
posted by popechunk at 10:31 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I own a rifle and a shotgun. They are locked up in multiple ways -- trigger locks, locks on the cases, and a lock on the ammo. I use them for target shooting, which I enjoy. I don't expect to ever have to use them on a person, and did not get them for that purpose, and so keep them semi-inaccessible. I also keep them locked up to make them less of an appealing target for thieves. A good portion of the people who think they are getting guns to protect their houses from break ins are, instead, simply providing thieves with a real prize when they do break in -- which, unless they are very stupid, they will do when you're away, so that when they find your guns, they can simply take them, rather than have to shoot you to get them away from you.

I don't buy the self-defense argument either. Statistically, it's so unlikely that a gun owner will ever use the gun for self-defense that to entertain them argument is like entertaining the argument that we should all wear hard leather to bed to keep ourselves from being consumed by cannibals as we sleep. People do buy guns to make themselves feel safer, and the gun industry finds it useful to promote that fear, and promote itself as a solution to that fear, but that's marketing, not an argument. People who have pointed out that bringing a gun into the house mostly increases the likelihood of a accidental manslaughter, or suicide, or people in the house killing each other, are right. Those are the statistics. That's how guns actually play out in the real world. And of course that argument won't work with many gun owners; they are acting on fear, and a need for security, not reason.

And so it is. Americans will buy guns, and there won't be many controls put on them. But if we can't effectively legislate guns, I think we can, and must, legislate gun safety. If you do not properly secure your guns, and they are used in an accidental shooting, you should be liable. If you do not secure your guns, and they are stolen and used in a robbery, you should be liable. You want the gun, fine; but you get added responsibility as well.

And, in many of the recent mass shootings, the shooters had been demonstrating signs of mental illness, and a few were diagnosed with mental illness, and should not have been able to purchase weapons. The sellers should be liable. A bartender serves you one too many drinks and you crash your car, the bartender can be sued. And yet the people who sell guns to the insane tends to be left alone, even when those guns are used for monstrous acts. This is not freedom -- your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. You have a right to own a gun, but you do not have a right to put other people at risk because of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 PM on April 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


Which part are you having trouble with?

I don't have trouble with it, I guess; it seems like a true statement. I just don't find it a sufficient argument against personal gun ownership. The demand for guns will be met, legally or illegally. That's just one possible way for a criminal to get one.
posted by ctmf at 11:25 PM on April 5, 2009


It's probably pretty difficult for a Canadian to convey to an American, who's grown up thinking guns are normal, just how batshit insane the American gun culture, and your gun laws, look to most of the democratic, civilized world.

Add an Australian to the Canadian, there. It's very similar to reading the discussions about healthcare.
posted by harriet vane at 12:23 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let me preface this by saying I'm for gun-control but I actually have some guns-related skills, especially with 303's, thanks to my National Cadet Corps days. That said, I'd like to mention two points that seem to being raised on this thread:-

a) Lots of people seem to be confusing gun-control with an absolute ban on guns, without a third alternative for licensed usage. In India and Singapore (and I hold neither as a model by any means), you need a gun licence much in the same way you need a licence to drive. It appears to me that you don't have a similar system in the US.

b) This will seem counter-intuitive, but neither is the police usually armed all the time in many parts of the world, nor are they expected to use their weapons even if they are. The stereotyped bobby doesn't actually carry a gun; in Singapore, guns for police-officers are tagged with this mobile device that sends SMS's to a central server when the officer simply removes his/ her gun from the holster. Not shoot, just remove; they want to audit not just bullets, but also threats of potential violence. Indeed, as we saw in Nov 2008, neither does the Bombay constable, as mandated by the local police leadership. Again, counter-intuitively, they took this decision because of mob and mafia-related violence; turns out there were far more occasions for a trigger-happy police-wala to raise his gun.

Now, it's a different matter if that arrangement can continue after the attacks, but my point here is about expectations: the general expectation from a police officer is that s/he will maintain public order without guns, not with them.

Just felt it was important to point this out in this long thread.
posted by the cydonian at 1:41 AM on April 6, 2009


baphomet wrote: a specific type of weapon you hopefully agree serves no valid purpose in self-defense

Please elucidate on what exactly you believe an "assault weapon" (as defined by the expired statute) is, and why it should be banned.
posted by wierdo at 1:44 AM on April 6, 2009


Then this shit in Binghamton goes down- the Rainbow Six fantasy these idiots have finally becomes reality- and then SWAT just chills outside for like an hour until the dude kills himself.

Is it just not as fun when the criminal can shoot back or what?


I got to meet some members of the St. Louis police Tactical Squad a while back. We stood in my driveway and compared notes about my neighbor who, earlier that morning, staged an ambush killing a firefighter and wounding to other cops. My house is the one with the green roof in this picture.

I've met some really unprofessional cops. Cops who, I'm sure, in their heart of hearts, had all kinds of Rainbow Six fantasies. The guys I was talking to mostly seemed really professional and like they'd really rather be somewhere else. The only time I even saw them treat their rifles as something other than more damn crap they had to carry with them was when they decided that his house was really going up and they wanted to evacuate my wife and I.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, you can choose to avoid the roads if you're worried about being killed in a car accident, but it can be difficult to avoid a spree killer.
-- delmoi

Uh. How do I avoid the roads when the block I live on is surrounded by them? Coincidentally, so are the blocks of every place I would ever like to go. It's not like pedestrians are immune to automobile-related death.

The Confessions of a Man Who Almost Went Postal article hits the nail on the head, though. We don't treat each other as humans, and the indignities pile up. Mr. Frazier was saved, twice, by human connection. Literal neighbors. So many things divert and divide us as neighbors anymore.
posted by Skwirl at 2:28 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


If anyone gets down this far... .

No surprise that at least a couple people shared the 2nd-amendment perspective, though a little surprising if more naive--the tones and attitudes 'round here seem snottier and snottier every day--that it was expressed with such a respectful, mature tone: But if you give a damn about the rule of law in the United States, you need a constitutional amendment. Otherwise you're just another thug wiping your ass with the Constitution.

What is surprising is that as best I can tell, nobody has related a notable aspect of said amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms... ."

Obviously it's pure speculation, but it's mighty tough to believe the Founding Fathers envisioned and were out to create the gun culture/sub-culture we have, legal guns and otherwise.
posted by ambient2 at 2:37 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've lived my whole life without one, occasionally in some ghetto-ass places, and I'm just fine. I've known a few gun owners, and I do not know one story about somebody I know personally using a gun in self-defense. Or at all, except at stationary targets and deer. Not even one.

I know two people who have successfully used their firearms in self defense. Both of them were in life-threatening situations that they extracted themselves from by shooting their assailants. Both of them hit, wounded, and did not kill their attackers.
posted by Netzapper at 2:59 AM on April 6, 2009


I do not know one story about somebody I know personally using a gun in self-defense.

Although anecdotes are fairly useless, a short post polio woman I knew shot at and scared off an armed robber. Given her frailty, there is no way she could have successfully defended herself in any kind of physical altercation. I'm not arguing that it made sense from a survival standpoint for her to shoot at the guy rather than give him her money, but I respect her decision.

The only murder victim I personally knew was cut/stabbed to death in a NY subway (I think with a box cutter, but I'm not sure).

Which leads me to my next point, if we're talking about mass murder rates (which we shouldn't be) I'd rather guns were available to mass murderers. Virginia tech was the worst gun related mass murder in the US, and it was a much smaller body count than the Julio Gonzalez nightclub fire, or the Andrew Kehoe elementary school bombing. Guns are very effective instruments at terminating a handful of lives, or at committing suicide. They become much less effective for terminating a large number of lives compared to ricin, gasoline, or Jet planes, and yet they trigger these nihilist wack jobs into thinking they are all-powerful, hopefully before they get too investing in thinking about explosives and incendiaries, which to my mind are more dangerous. This post is therefore not the best backdrop for a gun discussion, which should perhaps be more focussed on the day to day single murders and suicides. These should get a lot more of our focus because they occur more frequently, and have a higher death count. The emotional weight and fear we associate with mass murder is fairly irrational, and as mentioned up-thread, does more to perpetuate the problem by giving it our attention.

As for suicides, it's a real problem, and it's one of many reasons why I keep my gun (.22 target pistol) many miles away over at a friend's house who has a massive gun safe.

But gun homicides have always seemed like kind of a sideshow to me. In the US, our non-firearm per-capita homicide rate still exceeds the per-capita rate of all of western Europe, Australia, Japan, and China (source UNODC). Clearly, we're a bunch of crazy violent fucks.

I need a car to get to work. I dont need a gun to get to work.

I need respect for the constitution to have a country, I don't need a car, and if I lived in a country where the focus was more on public transit than roadways, I probably wouldn't want one.

Joe Beese, the problem is that vehicular deaths are usually not intentional.

Are you sure? Two things near me recently, Oakland police officer Sgt. Ervin Romans' funeral, and Jimena Barreto, 46, was convicted of two counts of murder in the hit-and-run deaths of two children on a Danville sidewalk.

For personal anecdotes, I've got a buddy who tried to commit suicide by ramming his truck head on into oncoming traffic, and an acquaintance who's leg was shattered by a felon fleeing chasing police who deliberately collided head first with her.

I think that you are (maybe intentionally) missing my point. The point is that outside of right-wing wolverine-fueled fantasies you are never going to throw off the government with any number of fire arms. It just ain't gonna happen. The US government controls the most powerful military in history, any suggestion that a bunch of gun nuts with their secret stash of weapons is somehow going to wrest control of America from its elected government is dangerously delusional. You can quote Thomas Jefferson until you're blue in the face but that doesn't make your Braveheart wet dream any more realistic.

Really, the entire military is going to fall into line if the US gov't suspended elections? If the factions broke down fairly evenly, civilians could certainly throw the tide either way (hint, not towards liberals I'm guessing). I'm sure a better historian than I could come up with plenty of examples.

I don't care much if the second amendment is repealed from the perspective of giving up my target shooting hobbies. I mostly bought a gun so I could shoot with my police buddy, and I'd have been almost as happy with the more expensive and cumbersome option of buying a game console with some light guns. I do care a little bit about the 40+ Billion dollars it'll cost to buy back the guns, which would arguably be better spent on mental health programs.

I want to put in one plea to those who live in the US, have children and hate guns. Sooner or later in life your children will encounter a situation where they have a chance to hold or fire a gun. It'd behoove you to make an effort to teach your kids how to handle guns safely before that happens.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:54 AM on April 6, 2009


all the arguing about statistics forgets one important point - there are no statistics for the number of homes and businesses not targeted by criminals because the people knew, or suspected strongly, that the owners were armed - in fact, that might be part of the reason why it's unlikely that people will ever confront an armed intruder in their own home - it's because many people are too scared to invade a home that is occupied by someone who could be armed and they wait until the people are gone
posted by pyramid termite at 5:42 AM on April 6, 2009


BrotherCaine: "I want to put in one plea to those who live in the US, have children and hate guns. Sooner or later in life your children will encounter a situation where they have a chance to hold or fire a gun. It'd behoove you to make an effort to teach your kids how to handle guns safely before that happens."

This is an excellent point. My wife and I have stressed to our kids that if they are ever at another kid's house (or anywhere else) and they see a gun, to stop what they are doing immediately, get the hell out and then tell a responsible adult.

When I was a kid, I used to play with my Dad's gun (which he thought he had cleverly hidden). I twirled it, dry fired it and even loaded and unloaded it. I'm damn lucky that I didn't blow my head off. That's why my weapons have trigger locks and are stored unloaded in a safe. The keys are at work, to which my children will never have access. I have no ammo for my guns.

That, however, is not enough. I have shown the guns to the kids and explained to them that guns are machines that kill people and that playing with one is like turning on the oven and climbing inside. They will go to a gun safety course when they get a little older.

Look people, if you want to own a gun, then I support your decision. But if you have children PLEASE take the proper precautions to ensure their safety. For some people, that may mean not owning a gun at all.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:12 AM on April 6, 2009


ambient2 wrote: What is surprising is that as best I can tell, nobody has related a notable aspect of said amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms... ."

Obviously it's pure speculation, but it's mighty tough to believe the Founding Fathers envisioned and were out to create the gun culture/sub-culture we have, legal guns and otherwise.


I don't find it tough to believe at all. In their time, guns were an absolutely necessary tool for most people. (In our country..I don't know about the rural vs. urban population distribution in Europe)

I woudn't be surprised if people who could afford to do so even collected guns and enjoyed firing them.
posted by wierdo at 7:34 AM on April 6, 2009


If you do not secure your guns, and they are stolen and used in a robbery, you should be liable.

Does this apply to any other piece of property? Like...cars?

you need a gun licence much in the same way you need a licence to drive. It appears to me that you don't have a similar system in the US.

There are many localities where licensing applies. Chicago, for instance. Most cities also ban handguns, and yet people keep getting killed by them.

What is surprising is that as best I can tell, nobody has related a notable aspect of said amendment

The "militia" thing has been done to death and will not be resolved on MeFi. If you want a pro-gun (but, in my opinion, quite rational and erudite) perspective on it, see GunCite. Personally, I think the idea that the clause in question is prescriptive is horseshit, but like I said, this argument won't be resolved on MeFi.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:55 AM on April 6, 2009


that might be part of the reason why it's unlikely that people will ever confront an armed intruder in their own home - it's because many people are too scared to invade a home that is occupied by someone who could be armed and they wait until the people are gone

Well, it *might* be. Except that in countries without high rates of gun-ownership, most burglaries are in unoccupied houses too.
posted by harriet vane at 8:07 AM on April 6, 2009


Does this apply to any other piece of property? Like...cars?

Is there really an issue with people stealing cars and then using them to threaten a 7-11 clerk?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most cities also ban handguns

No, they don't.
posted by oaf at 8:38 AM on April 6, 2009


Is there really an issue with people stealing cars and then using them to threaten a 7-11 clerk?

Are stolen cars never used as getaway vehicles in robberies? I just see this double standard applied to guns as opposed to a lot of other pieces of dangerous and unnecessary property. SUVs, for example, are known to be much more dangerous to other drivers on the road than more compact cars, and yet we don't routinely see calls for them to be restricted, regulated, banned, etc. Earth Firsters don't count.

No, they don't.

Erm, nothing much has come of that. From the very article you link, "Consistently since the Heller ruling the lower federal courts have ruled that almost all gun control measures as presently legislated are lawful..." Two lawsuits against Chicago, for example, were rejected.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:56 AM on April 6, 2009


Are stolen cars never used as getaway vehicles in robberies?

That's not precisely the same, is it. But, in answer to part of your question, if you own a car, behave in an irresponsible manner with it, and someone gets hurt, you are legally liable, so I guess establishing and enforcing legal liabilities for gun ownership would be consistent with car ownership.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:58 AM on April 6, 2009


Two lawsuits against Chicago, for example, were rejected.

You're saying that like those decisions are final. They aren't.
posted by oaf at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2009


You're saying that like those decisions are final. They aren't.

No, you acted like the Supreme Court decision was a "final" thing with your "No, they're not." From where I sit, the bans are still there, which you contended was untrue.

if you own a car, behave in an irresponsible manner with it

Do you see what you're saying? If you behave in an irresponsible manner. I happen to disagree (surprise!) that keeping a gun outside of a locked safe should legally count as behaving irresponsibly.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2009


I happen to disagree (surprise!) that keeping a gun outside of a locked safe should legally count as behaving irresponsibly.

Well, you're free to disagree, but the statistics make it pretty clear that, in qpproximate order of likeliness, keeping an unsecured gun leads to:

1. The gun getting stolen
2. Someone killing themselves
3. Someone accidentally killing a friend or family member
4. Someone deliberately killing a friend or family member

And way, way, way below that:

5. The gun being used to fight off an intruder or, I don't know, a bear or badger.

So you may not THINK you're behaving irresponsibly, but, as a responsible gun owner, I feel safe in telling you that the bullet that goes where you don't expect it doesn't care what you think is responsible or not.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:29 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, the brief research I did just in response to your comment says that surveys conducted up to 1993 found between 108,000 and 2,000,000 defensive gun uses annually, while in 2000 accidental gun deaths totaled 600. So, you may not be quite as responsible a gun owner as you think, but you're certainly a sanctimonious one.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2009


Link please.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2009


Oh, wait, I found it. You're citing this deeply flawed study that is constantly misused by gun enthusiasts. Here's the meat:

"(It) is neither surprising, nor a reflection on the survey's designers, to note that the NCVS is singularly ill-suited for estimating the prevalence or incidence of DGU. It is not credible to regard this survey as an acceptable basis for establishing, in even the roughest way, how often Americans use guns for self-protection."

Perhaps I am sanctimonious, but I don't try to pass of nonsense as science.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2009


Did you read the page you linked? The low figure (which I provided just to give the full range of estimates) is from the NCVS survey, while the high figure is from a survey by Prof. Gary Kleck, who provides the statement you quoted. So, the quote you pulled from the page is arguing against the low figure and in favor of the high one.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:08 AM on April 6, 2009


In the meanwhile, 46 people per day commit suicide in America with a gun -- or about 16,000 per year. The risk of a successful suicide in a house with a gun is 2 to 10 times higher according to empirical studies.

And what studies do we have about the relative safety of a firearm in the home? Well, according to Kellermann AL. "Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home." J, Trauma 1998, guns kept in the home for self-protection are 22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to kill in self-defense.

From a different study by the same author (Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. N Engl J Med. 1993): The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home.

And, again, from Kellerman (Suicide in the home in relation to gun ownership. N Engl J Med. 1992): The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide fivefold.

In the meanwhile, gun theft is directly linked to crime rates. And more than 200,000 guns are stolen per year, which dwarfs the number of guns used to prevent crime, even using your flawed statistics.

You know, before accusing me of being sanctimonious, doing more than a three-second search on Google might be nice.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:10 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Kleck, by the way, likely also overstimated.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:16 AM on April 6, 2009


I can't find an uncontested study out there about how often guns are used in self-defense. It looks like the justice department supports between 100,000 and 200,000 uses per year, but doesn't say whether they were successful or necessary.

Interestingly, Cook and Ludwig find the debate over the defensive uses of guns to be useless. Insead,, the focus on the overall societal costs of gun use, framing it in terms of a public health discussion. They estimate that gun violence costs America about $100 billion per year.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:37 AM on April 6, 2009


That "gun theft is directly linked to crime rates. And more than 200,000 guns are stolen per year" links are pretty thin. Neither of those articles support the conclusion that gun theft causes higher crime rates. No word on whether the study (conducted by a pro-control group, apparently? It's not clear.) itself does.

Anyway, I never argued that guns aren't stolen. I argued that keeping it outside of a safe isn't automatically as reckless as driving dangerously. I also responded to the assertion that defensive gun use was astronomically rarer than accidental death. or suicide. "My flawed statistics" are the low, low end of defensive gun use numbers, and they are still several times the number of suicides and accidental deaths combined, thousands of times higher than accidental deaths. Suicides don't count anyway, in my book. Do people not have the right to kill themselves?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2009


Whether suicides have the right to off themselves or not is rather beside the point. The fact is, bringing a gun into the house dramatically increases the likelihood that the gun will be the source of violence against you or a loved one, and the link between stolen guns and crime is not debatable -- gund are stolen with great frequence, and stolen guns are used for crime with great frequency.

If that's the trade off you wish to make because of a sense that those guns will somehow increase your safety as well, go ahead and make that case. But whatever the actual statistics are about the use of guns in self defense, they never ask, nor answer, the question whether the guns were needed in those instances. So guns demonstratably increase the likelihood for harm. I have yet to see a study that demonstrates that they uniquely decrease the likelihood of harm from crime -- in other words, that, when guns are used for self-defense, there were no other options, and guns alone solved the problem.

But if you feel safer, so be it. Again, there is a difference between having a secured gun in your house and an unsecured one, and you have yet to make the case that unsecured guns are not irresponsible. If, God forbid, a neighborhood kid wanders into your house, as sometimes happens, finds your gun, and injures himself with it, I maintain you should be legally liable. And nothing you say will convince me that you are not morally liable. You brought danger into the world for a questionable sense of personal safety. It's your responsibility to be sure it doesn't make others unsafe.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on April 6, 2009


"If you want something to keep the badguys at bay, get a golden retriever with a loud 'woof' - dog owners have a fraction of the break-ins and medium and large breed dog owners have a fraction of the assaults as non-pet-owners. Pets are also effective against depression and anger issues."

Dogs are hardly without problems. While the death toll is much lower, incidences of hospitalization via family pet are horrifyingly common. Not only that dogs are three times more likely to bite a child than an adult.
posted by Mitheral at 11:40 AM on April 6, 2009


I have a suggestion: Lock up your really, really valuable stuff in a safe deposit box. Secure your home. Get external lighting that responds to movement, Get good insurance against burglary. Keep a phone by the bed so you call call 911. Don't carry too much cash around. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't go out in public drunk. Don't fall asleep in public when drunk. Travel with groups when going someplace new. Make sure people know where you are. Carry a cell phone. But, otherwise, worrying about crime -- particularly very unsual crime, like home invasions -- is a little like worrying about getting struck by lightning. Sure, put up a lightning rod, but if you haven't put up working carbon monoxide detector in your home, but you have a loaded gun by your bedside, your priorities are way out of whack.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


No one is trying to silence right-wing fearmongers -- but it is time to stand up to them
posted by homunculus at 12:23 PM on April 6, 2009


If, God forbid, a neighborhood kid wanders into your house, as sometimes happens, finds your gun, and injures himself with it, I maintain you should be legally liable.

This isn't how we started this discussion. I would be surprised if you were nto already legally liable for this, as you can be held liable for people injuring themselves on your property even if they are theer without your consent. We started this discussion with you saying I should be liable for cimes committed by others if they steal my guns and use them to commit crimes. That's what I don't agree with. I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

Sure, put up a lightning rod, but if you haven't put up working carbon monoxide detector in your home, but you have a loaded gun by your bedside, your priorities are way out of whack.

Why can't home invasions be something we have thought about, perhaps once or twice, formulated what we think of as a sensible solution to the problem and moved on? Why must it be something we obsess about to the exclusion of all else? That, my friend, is a strawman argument. Everything you listed in that comment is useful, sensible advice. I never expect to have to deal with a home invasion situation, but I have thought about it.

For what it's worth, I own a single firearm, it's in another state, and there are no cartridges for it anywhere in the house. Nor is it in a gun safe. Actually, it probably should be, as it's not ever going to be used in a home defense situation, and I'd be mighty upset if it got stolen, as it was my grandfather's Winchester 1894. Good luck finding it in all the clutter in that house, though, if you're coming to steal it.

I don't really have a problem with most of what you say. The problem I had and have stems from saying owners who have their guns stolen (if they're not in a safe) should be held legally liable if that gun is used in a crime. I'm sorry, sir, I do not agree.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2009


I really don't understand why not. Can you explain?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:00 PM on April 6, 2009


It strikes me as an unfair double standard, and it essentially neuters the weapon as a tool for home defense. I'd have to weigh the number of crimes committed with stolen firearms versus the number of times firearms are used defensively to see what I think, though the proportions would have to be absolutely overwhelming to have a chance of changing my mind. Better nine guilty men go free, etc. I just don't see why I should be held responsible for another's criminal acts. Did my leaving my gun unlocked cause that crime? No, it did not. For the record, I also count those laws holding you responsible if someone gets injured on your property even if they are their without your consent or knowledge monstrously unfair. To me, this is more or less the same.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:40 PM on April 6, 2009


I just don't see why I should be held responsible for another's criminal acts.

We are held responsible for others criminal acts all the time. If you sell a weapon without doing a background check, you become culpable. If you serve alcohol and somebody gets drunk and does something bad, you are potentially culpable (bartenders sure are.)

Particularly with weapons, this seems especially fair to me. It's very possible to lock down a weapon in such a way that it is nonetheless easily accessable. Choosing not to, especially considering how appealing a target they are for criminals and how frequenlty they are used in crime, seems grotesquely negligent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:01 PM on April 6, 2009


If you sell a weapon without doing a background check, you become culpable. If you serve alcohol and somebody gets drunk and does something bad, you are potentially culpable (bartenders sure are.)

These are both business transactions, though. I see what you're saying, and I will continue to think about it, but for now, we disagree and I think that pretty much wraps it up.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:25 PM on April 6, 2009


I maintain you should be legally liable. And nothing you say will convince me that you are not morally liable. You brought danger into the world for a questionable sense of personal safety. It's your responsibility to be sure it doesn't make others unsafe.

So if that kid wanders into your yard and drowns in your pool? Which happens alarmingly as or more frequently that children shooting themselves with unsecured guns? Do you support liability in the case of accidental drowning?

You'd have to. But it's very tricky territory and it opens up a big can of worms.

Personally I think all hand guns should be kept in gun safes. And there are gun safes with punch combination for quick access. For rifles and shot guns they should be kept with trigger locks. Which can again have ring keys for quicker access. But nothing is 100% secure. All we can request id due diligence.

While agree with the need for people to be responsible with their guns, distinguishing between people who keep guns for self defense reasons and anything else is pretentious and classist. It doesn't matter why law abiding citizens in the US want guns. They have a right to have them. Implying that one law abiding citizen who has two rifles that he keeps to plink with is morally superior to a guy who is worried about home invasions is simply weak self righteousness. Guns for plinking will kill you just as dead as a gun owned for any other purpose.

The fact is some people, and they may indeed be statistically few, are in need of some sort of personal protection becuase they may fall outside of the comfortable umbrella of nice white upper middle class college educated young male. These people do exist. Entertain the idea that maybe some people do not have it like you do and the law enforcement mechanism you so enjoy does not often extend as well to some people. Statistics don't tell the whole story. And that's where I'm leaving that.

Does US media over-hype crime and drive up societal anxieties? Abso-fucking-luetely. But the US does have a very high rate of crime compared to other industrialized countries so media do not have to stick their necks out very far to exaggerate. I think the problem has been the creation of the 24 hour news cycle and the competition for the most salacious headlines.

But the REAL issue. Is culture. We want guns in this country. By and large people in Japan or Europe don't really want guns. There is much less cultural momentum for people to own them. If it be because of the long history of weapons being controlled by the aristocratic classes, the older more homogeneous societies involved, less wealth disparity, the lower perception of the dangers presented by crime or more faith in law enforcement. Or all of that combined. Other industrialized cultures don't want guns as much as the people in the US seem to.

Prohibitions DON'T WORK. If people really want something the more restrictive you make the laws the more crime you are going to generate.

Also. It's a bit disingenuous to say "Well nobody here is calling for bans or gun confiscations." When that is essentially what you mean by more gun control. I mean seriously what is left? Longer waiting periods? Banning hand guns. A patch work of laws you band-aid togther every time there is a new shooting. Eventually you just have de facto and uneven prohibition.

So that leaves you with simply enforcing the laws we have now. That go largely unenforced. Which I am all for.

We in the west live in a time and place that is safer than ever before. But still. There are dangers. We accept certain risks in life every day. We fly. We drive cars. We own swimming pools. We keep poisonous chemicals. In short we surround ourselves with dangerous things. Some things we "need" some things we don't really need, just want. On most these things we agree that there are rules on consequences to their use.

Why is it that guns, of all the very dangerous things, seem to get so much of our fearful attention. Even above other things that claim more lives annually?

Becuase guns are designed, in a great part, to harm or kill living animals and human beings. They are intended for harm. Right. Intent. Think about that word for a second. Intent.

But the guns don't sit there an glow ominously with this magical intent. They are metal and plastic and wood. Humans imbue them with this intent with a subtle shift of a finger or wrist.

I think people fetishize guns becuase of the mistaken metaphysical property they seem to have. This thing was designed to take a life. And to do so very efficiently. People on both sides of this literally obsess over that. If they realize it or not.

A gun doesn't sit in closet and call to you like an irresistible siren to go and kill your neighbor or shoot your self. It's YOU that does that. It possess no magic.

A person could easily fill their car with gas cans and drive it into a street level cafe filled with people and kill hundreds of people. But few people have done that. The steps between commission and planning are quite a bit more involved than load, point, pull, BANG. Yet the potential for destruction with gasoline and a high-speed collision is so much greater. If it happens even twice there will be little social political outcry to restrict the use of gas cans. The gas can has one intent (though we did do that subtly with fertilizer after the Oklahoma City bombings). To hold gas. Or that's how we think of it, right. But not guns. And people simply cannot get over that.

So some people want bans. In the other suicide thread one person said he wanted guns to be illegal. But not "hunting rifles" which is kinda funny. Not ha-ha funny. Why? Well I have first hand experience.

When I was a kid my cousin Eddy Shannon blew his brains out with a shotgun. His dad kept it locked up ina gun cabinet. They lived in rural Idaho. In Pocatello. Most people there keep their guns locked up. Especially if they owned an expensive Benelli Shotgun like my uncle Ronald did.

Eddy had been brought up around guns all his life. He knew how to operate them safely. My family hunts. It is weekly thing during season. Eddie was no exception. And at 18 there was no reason he wouldn't have access to the gun cabinet keys.

What Eddie didn't have was a way to control his depression due to painful burns he received when a gas can blew up when he was filling a hot lawn mower on a Sunday afternoon when he was 14 years old. His arms, thighs and chest were badly burned. His lungs too. They repaired him with grafts but as he grew up and his skin and nerves stretched he was in near constant pain. So over the years he started drinking to medicate himself. But eventually it was just too much. He tried to over dose on tranquilizers once. But they brought him back. He told everybody it was an accident. they never found the note he wrote that time. So a year later he killed himself with a shot gun. He left the note in the rec room. And he killed himself I think in the bathroom. When they went through his stuff they found the earlier first note. It shook them up. They had no idea. My Uncle sold all his shotguns. And also began drinking. The whole even pretty much ruined that family.

Should shot guns be illegal? What further security could have been employed in 1973 Pocatello Idaho? So who sues my Uncle? The government?

Can of worms my friends. A Big can of worms.

I think dealing with weapons at the point of sale is likely a better solution than individual suing gun owners. But. Let's stop treating the symptom of this bullshit. And deal with the problems. And problems are almost ALL cultural.
posted by tkchrist at 3:48 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


So that leaves you with simply enforcing the laws we have now. That go largely unenforced. Which I am all for.

Which means I am FOR enforcement, BTW.
posted by tkchrist at 4:00 PM on April 6, 2009


...The US government controls the most powerful military in history...

Currently held completely at bay by uneducated unemployed Muslim teenagers with $100 back-yard made Chinese AK-47s.

Let's not do this. You won't win.
posted by tkchrist at 4:26 PM on April 6, 2009


I hesitate to distract from what is a nice lively debate on the second amendment but, only 90 people dying in the whole country spread over two years, doesn't actually seem like much of a problem to me. At least not from a public policy or cultural standpoint. These are tragedies no doubt, but I can't seem to extrapolate broad implications from these events the way other people seem to. Even the broader, yet oddly framed, subject of "gun deaths" doesn't seem to reach proportions worth much concern.
posted by subtle_squid at 4:36 PM on April 6, 2009


Something I haven't seen addressed anywhere is if they take your guns away the moment you seek help for mental illness, it makes it far less likely that people *will* seek any help for their mental illness. So then you end up with a heavily armed mentally ill person, with zero treatment for it. This does not sound wise.

I don't know what the best way to avoid this would be, though.

If you tell them they can keep their guns, then at least you have a heavily armed mentally ill person who is (at least) slightly less dangerous (we hope) than without treatment.

But then sooner or later one or several such people will go on a killing spree anyway, and then there will be angry shrieks calling for a lifetime ban on gun ownership for every person who so much as takes a single Prozac at any time.
posted by marble at 4:36 PM on April 6, 2009


Do you support liability in the case of accidental drowning?

Yes, if basic precautions to make the pool safe were not followed. In the same way that I would support a homeowner being liable if they had a structure on their property which was unsafe, ad a child wandered in, and it collapsed on them, or if they had an open well, or anything that could be made safer and they chose not to.

If the pool was secured to a level that was mutual agreed to be reasonable, then no. If someone puts a trigger guard on their gun, and a kid cuts off the trigger guard somehow and shoots the gun, then I would no hold the homeowner to be liable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:54 PM on April 6, 2009


I can't comment on how things work in the UK. I don't know anything about the UK.

Yeah, um.. there's like a shitload of less murders there because they have gun control.

You gun nuts loooove not to know!
posted by Zambrano at 5:57 PM on April 6, 2009


Here's how murderous rampages rampages work in the UK: Someone gets a samurai sword or a knife, because they can't get a gun, and runs around waving it and maybe gets a few swipes in before the police turn up and shoot them. Everyone laments the state of mental healthcare and is a bit sad, but not really that much, because what kind of idiot waves a sword around like that?

Alternate version: Someone waves a toy gun around until the police turn up and shoot them. People are a bit more sad than they were for Samurai Sword Guy, but not much.
posted by Artw at 6:19 PM on April 6, 2009


I seem to remember some incident back in the 1700's where we decided we didn't like being in the U.K. anymore and wanted to do our own thing despite the British being so kind as to protect us from nastiness.
Hell, the British Bill of Rights is a direct ancestor of the Second Amendment in the American Bill of Rights. It was beaten out of the culture.
But then - there are a lot of things that go without saying in U.S. culture - the right to join the military for example. The only contention there (and it's stupid) is whether one's sexual orientation is a factor.
But does anyone question whether U.S. citizens have the right to join the military? We don't really have the right per se. I don't know where it's spelled out, if it is. This was my problem with using the mercs in Iraq. It's not really laid down anywhere how service relates to citizenship and the executive branch's duties or latitude. Could the president say "No, I don't want *that* guy in the military. He's a dick. He can't join." I dunno. Legally - I have no clue.
So culture I think is a pretty important factor here in preservation - more than just statute, say.
The right to bear arms in England, for a time, applied only to Protestants, so 0xdeadc0de's tongue in cheek comment ( "I'm thinking we need to make certain weapons and certain religions illegal. It's the only way to feel safe.") is in some ways appropriate to the history there.
All that aside, what astounds me is that people feel perfectly comfortable - apparently - with police officers or other non-military agents of the government being armed as though somehow circumstances differ when it's a police officer involved. And yet, time and again, those same people will argue on police corruption, the ineffectiveness of the system of law enforcement, and many other related things.
Either firearms are an effective means of protecting life and preventing violence or they're not. If they are then there is no reason why citizens should not be allowed to use them when police can.
Either the use of a firearm in self-defense is a justified measure of last recourse when police response is inadequate or it is not.
If it is, then it's a value judgment whether one wants a firearm for oneself or not. If it is not - then you have to ask yourself why prohibition, and its attendant issues and problems, is worth imposing your values on everyone else instead of allowing them to be responsible for the consequences of their own actions.
Arguing 'seat belts' or some other universal safety measure is ridiculous. People forget that U.S. consumers had to fight tooth and nail to get seat belts put into cars - not to mention other safety measures - it was a matter of choice in the first place, much like the choice to own a firearm for safety - it was not imposed by the government. Quite the contrary. And Nader took a hell of a beating for a hell of a long time advocating for those measures.
On top of that, seat belt laws are mandatory because they are justified measures of protection in the absence of perfect performance and social or law enforcement intervention. One can argue whether firearms are justified and adequate as tools of self-defense, but equating them to seat belts makes the jump over that argument and assumes the conclusion. But hell, people are free not to buy guns too.
There have been a number of home invasions in Chicago on the north side recently. In Chinatown the end of last month three guys broke into a home, beat the hell out of a 48 year old woman and a 56 year old man, took all their valuables (cash, jewelry, etc). A bit ago they were targeting Bulls players (I think Eddy Curry got hit. Duct taped him up. Etc.) and a woman and a kid jumped from a second story window so they weren't raped by a home invader (Gresham neighborhood I think).
It happens. And the cops aren't gonna be there. Is it worth some high profile craziness like this? I suppose that depends on if you're a senior or someone's in your house looking to rape your kids. And statistically that's far more likely than some nut flipping out and killing them in a rampage.

Most murders happen over something. Drugs. Money. Even hits on innocents in drive bys are about something, control of sales area, show of power. It's not just random craziness.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:20 PM on April 6, 2009


Because anyone that enjoys shooting is a gun nut. NUT.
posted by Cathedral at 8:24 PM on April 6, 2009


NUT!
posted by Cathedral at 8:26 PM on April 6, 2009


I am, I must confess, pretty nutty.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:33 PM on April 6, 2009


Fwiw, here's a deleted thread on a similar topic.
posted by ornate insect at 8:52 PM on April 6, 2009


Kentucky gun show features Obama-Hitler shirts and warnings to ‘prepare for Obama’s citizen army.’
posted by homunculus at 10:34 PM on April 6, 2009


When the man comes for you, he's going to come for you, and as the man has everything up to nuclear missiles your handgun ain't gonna make much difference.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:24 AM on April 7, 2009


As far as historical anecdotes that seem like the same kind of violence to me, Lizzie Borden is what usually comes to mind.
posted by XMLicious at 5:12 AM on April 7, 2009


Kentucky gun show features Obama-Hitler shirts and warnings to ‘prepare for Obama’s citizen army.’

*facepalm*
posted by adamdschneider at 5:51 AM on April 7, 2009


"When the man comes for you, he's going to come for you, and as the man has everything up to nuclear missiles your handgun ain't gonna make much difference."

The fact that nuclear weapons haven't being used in a war they are losing in a country far, far away makes it pretty unlikely the man is going to unleash that arsenal in a civil disturbance.
posted by Mitheral at 8:53 AM on April 7, 2009


I think it's the "everything up to" part that's operative there, not the nuclear missiles. The point is that even if the kids at Tienanmen square had been packing the tanks still would have crushed them. Democracy is what would bring freedom to China, for example, and guns would not; and it's democracy that's maintaining the freedom elsewhere, not the guns.

(That's in response to the "to keep a well-regulated militia" argument for arming everyone. Of course there are lots of other arguments that are made too, it's just that the "resisting the government when it goes bad" is a totally ludicrous one and is often an excuse to avoid participating in government and engaging in the actual, difficult work that is necessary to maintain freedom. It always staggers me to meet people who are all gung-ho to pick up a gun and shoot someone for the sake of freedom but can't be bothered to vote.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:55 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


You mean the Tienanmen square massacre that let to massive international condemnation, cohered resistance throughout the PRC and led to even greater escalations in protest? That event? If I remember correctly the army came in APCs and someone set fire to some of them and killed a lot of soldiers. Who fired indiscriminately. Seems to me an armed group could have given the Chinese Army some very serious resistance there if of mob of disorganized unarmed students was able to kill a lot of them and take out some armored vehicles.
And then of course, I specifically remember one person very much not being crushed by a tank.

And then foreign loans were suspended, investment declined, etc. etc. - the PRC pretty much took an ass kicking from that event. If Chinese troops under an authoritarian regime won't run over one guy - what makes anyone think American troops will?

It always staggers me to meet people who are all gung-ho to pick up a gun and shoot someone for the sake of freedom but can't be bothered to vote.

I completely agree. But I completely disagree that firearms can't make a difference in resisting a government. Tank hunting is relatively easy. The Russians have forgotten more about tank warfare than the Chinese will ever know and the Chechens chewed up and spat out the Russian tanks in the war in the North Caucasus. That aside, the political end of any revolutionary cabal is going to do more work with pen and ink than the operational front is going to be able to do with any amount of hardware. It's always going to be a holding action. In part because not using full force binds both ways in a civil war or revolution. You want soldiers to defect to your side so you're not going to torture them or treat them poorly when you capture them. By the same token as a counterinsurgent you want the people on your side. That's not going to be possible if you're bombing downtown. People have to go to work in the morning. They don't want the streets chewed up by A-10s because you're looking for a sniper.
Anyway, tanks are next to worthless for occupation. In modern warfare the only thing that saves tanks anymore is speed and mobility. Why the hell you think the Abrams and other modern tanks are designed to hit 60 mph and are built around the engine rather than the armor as in previous designs?
You can knock them out with IEDs, so maybe $5,000 worth of shaped charge - that's if you're not living off your enemy - takes out $4 and a half million worth of equipment.
Thats if you don't just shoot the TC when he pops his head out. There have been some upgrades for urban environment - but that just shows the glaring flaw.
And at that, you don't even need to hit the tanks, just the supply lines for the gas that they suck down like crazy. Easy as pie, especially in your own backyard. Tanks are a luxury and mostly for support.
So for any occupation and suppression you need infantry. And they're vulnerable to bullets.

The force any government can bring to bear on its own people is always functionally limited.
In the case of the ongoing war in Chechnya the Russians only appear to be winning - in part because they won't reveal their casualties (that in itself speaks volumes) and in part because they were willing to completely obliterate Grozny and rebuild it.
The U.S. government could not destroy Chicago or L.A. or New York, force refugees and rebuild the city with an imported population. That option just doesn't exist.
Indeed, given the sophistication of the U.S. infrastructure I doubt it would even be physically possible.
But who is "the government"? Just U.S. citizens. People. The mail man. The cop on the beat. The national guardsmen who takes his kid to soccer with yours. They can shoot you, yeah. But you can shoot back. They're not untouchable. And odds are they'll be conflicted. Which gives you an enormous edge.
Maybe you could get unconflicted mercs to come in and do the job - but who has any compunction about killing one of them?

What is ludicrous is that people who think the government can't conspire to find it's ass with both hands and a flashlight is going to be able to somehow get away with mass killings and widespread destruction (by some sort of force composed of automatons who have no problem with visiting genocide on their own people) because someone defends their self with a firearm.

Hell they tried putting troops in the streets already and overthrowing the legitimate government, all it got was a hearty laugh all around and Smedley Butler wrote a book on it.

But that's all tactics.
Strategically, you're correct. Any work being done in involvement and participation in government is going to greatly outweigh work done in the field. Doesn't mean it's impossible to succeed in the field, quite the contrary. But sure without the ability to make the shift from an armed guerrilla force to operating administration any revolt is never going to succeed.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:43 AM on April 7, 2009


So if that kid wanders into your yard and drowns in your pool? Which happens alarmingly as or more frequently that children shooting themselves with unsecured guns? Do you support liability in the case of accidental drowning?

Um, yes? This is exactly why homeowners carry liabiity insurance.
posted by dersins at 12:35 PM on April 7, 2009


But I completely disagree that firearms can't make a difference in resisting a government.

I wasn't talking about "a government". Yeah, I'm sure that in Uruguay or something, an armed revolution could get you somewhere. But we're not talking about the government of Uruguay, we're talking about the government of the United States. All the guns in the South did not stop desegregation and all the guns in the possession of the FLDS did not stop the FBI from charging into a town and running off with all their children. (Nor did guns get the children back - it was the rule of law that got those children back.)

The U.S. government could not destroy Chicago or L.A. or New York, force refugees and rebuild the city with an imported population. That option just doesn't exist.

What are you talking about? What the hell would prevent the U.S. military from destroying any of those cities? (Except for democracy and the rule of law - which is what I'm saying is necessary to stop it.)

I mean, we could certainly destroy a city of that size and bring in someone else to live there if this was set in another country and we were being opposed by another national military. Look what happened when Serbia started carrying out ethnic cleansing and making other parts of the Balkans Serbian. We drove the Serbs and their armies out and re-settled the areas with inhabitants of the original ethnicity.

And that was done basically within the strictures of the international rule of law. If the U.S. government had gotten into the habit of destroying its own cities I can't imagine they'd be playing fair. Similarly the reason that the efforts you're talking about by the Russian and Chinese governments didn't completely obliterate those internal populations is because the international community is watching - the whole democracy and rule of law thing on an international scale.

When the international community isn't watching - like in Darfur, for example, or Saddam Hussein's actions against the Kurds - the amount of force the government can bring to bear against its own people is by no means limited. Basically, everyone dies and is buried in a mass grave. And all their land is settled by another ethnic group. Or a group that isn't even of a different ethnicity, but a group which was simply labeled as "the other guys" by the government, like in Rwanda.
posted by XMLicious at 2:58 PM on April 7, 2009


All the guns in the South did not stop desegregation and all the guns in the possession of the FLDS did not stop the FBI from charging into a town and running off with all their children

Uh…just off the cuff.

What the hell would prevent the U.S. military from destroying any of those cities?

Dude, you totally know what you’re talking about. Right on! Good job! Totally realistic scenario. If you have superior firepower, you can just keep shooting people or blowing them up until they do what you want and there's never any way for them to fight back and no one will resist, 'cos y'know, you're just so bad ass. Guerrilla warfare is an urban myth.

"Look what happened when Serbia started carrying out ethnic cleansing and making other parts of the Balkans Serbian. We drove the Serbs and their armies out and re-settled the areas with inhabitants of the original ethnicity."

Because that's what really happened! It was just that simple.
The KLA prompted mass relocation bud. I was there. Those people have hated each other for a long long time and have deep ethnic and religious divisions that are absolutely nothing like the level of tolerance in U.S. culture. But go on, please, explain to me how I'm completely wrong about how modern warfare is executed. Explain to me how the U.S. can completely oppose Kosovar independence, everyone and his brother knowing recognition would legitimize to some insurgents in other countries the utility of terrorism in their efforts, and yet they're well on their way to autonomy despite our wishes. Hell, six days after the end of the Kosovo war after the Serbs retreated they added a little extra special "fuck you" and blew up the Church of St. Cosmas and Damian.
So what, we didn't bomb enough cities? We should have committed genocide?
Because we're the most powerful military in the world, yeah, but we sure as hell didn't get our way there.
It's not just the international community watching - it's the rest of the community watching. You don't run things because you have the most firepower - all power is delegated.
Your point on rule of law and democracy is taken. And indeed, I agree. But the government of the U.S. is like any other government, particularly on the local levels. And revolt and rebellion cannot be suppressed by simple tactical superiority. It's that simple.
Jesus fucking Christ it's like we won Vietnam because we bombed so damned much? Get a clue. There are limits to what the military and strategic operations can achieve. If you cannot convince your opponent to surrender, you will never win. That cannot be achieved through violence unless you're willing to go to genocide. I seriously doubt U.S. troops would obey those orders against their own people - goofy comparisons to strife torn unstable regions of the world aside.
But again, the tactical considerations are a fairly minor detail. Only reason I'm contesting the point is that it's my metier. Plenty of non-violent ways to subjugate people and I agree it's more important to have safeguards against those. Almost anyone can learn how to raise hell with a bit of experience. Vigilance takes a bit more work and effort.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:02 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what, we didn't bomb enough cities? We should have committed genocide?

You're saying that cities can't be bombed and genocide can't be committed if people have firearms. But that's not true. It happens all the time.

Totally realistic scenario... I seriously doubt U.S. troops would obey those orders against their own people...

Sure, probably not at any time in the near future. But this now has nothing to do with "how modern warfare is executed" - you're just saying that the U.S. military would never try to destroy Chicago and resettle its population anyways, whether or not anyone had firearms. You're signifying that when you proposed that scenario you were setting up a straw man so you could gush about how wonderful guerrilla warfare is.

You're playing a shell game and shuffling out explanations that do not at all involve people owning firearms.
posted by XMLicious at 5:45 PM on April 7, 2009


And - Jesus fucking Christ it's like we won Vietnam because we bombed so damned much? Get a clue.

Yeah, if some group of hillbillies with guns suddenly found themselves also supplied by a global superpower like the Soviet Union in a proxy war with the U.S. government, they could hold off the U.S. military. Sheesh man, you have watched way too many action movies.
posted by XMLicious at 5:54 PM on April 7, 2009


"You're saying that cities can't be bombed and genocide can't be committed if people have firearms. But that's not true. It happens all the time."

Er, no. I'm saying cities can't be bombed and genocides can't be committed given certain conditions. You're (apparently) saying they can't be resisted with firearms. This is blatantly historically untrue. They can and have been. Successfully and unsuccessfully. Typically in the face of serious enough armed resistance the only recourse is genocide. The Poles and Jews took the Nazis to this level in the battle of Warsaw. Forcing a military to commit a genocide is a strategic victory. I'd argue it's exactly what forced the downfall of Nazi Germany which might have otherwise been tolerated. The U.S. and other nations didn't enter the war because of the Jews. Plenty of anti-semitism to go around back then. They entered because they saw how far the Nazis were willing to go, and if they're willing to slaughter entire populations who's to say you're not next?
Same deal world wide.

"you're just saying that the U.S. military would never try to destroy Chicago and resettle its population anyways, whether or not anyone had firearms."

Yes. And you're saying nothing's stopping them. Oh, except democracy and rule of law. Which has always halted dictators and armies worldwide. Once you're past the point of no return, all political power comes from the barrel of a gun. And it's that initial point of contact that makes all the difference. It's why the allies should have stopped Hitler in Poland. If police, criminals, whomever - KNOW you're unarmed and/or unwilling to use force to stop them they're going to be a lot more emboldened in subsequent acts.
These acts are going to get worse and worse and worse and worse the longer they go on. It's exactly what happened, and kept happening in Serbia. What you think people in Darfur would let themselves get massacred if they were armed?

"Yeah, if some group of hillbillies with guns suddenly found themselves also supplied by a global superpower like the Soviet Union in a proxy war with the U.S. government, they could hold off the U.S. military."

Because it was that simple, yee haw! Oh, there's no such thing as density and military utility conflicting with political viability Smedley, it's just all about how powerful the U.S. military is and how stupid we all are! Ya hoo! The Viet Minh collapsed before the superiority of French firepower, those boys just didn't need to understand how to establish an advantageous density of forces. A logistic system based on bicycles? B-but we have tanks!
Hell, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a stockpile of weapons in the U.S. as it is. Who the hell needs outside supply? Anyway, logistics are only a physical problem (but you learned all about that in Hillbilly war college). Yep, good ol' industrial war, never fails.
Except, y'know, when it does.
More and more conflicts are asymmetric between grossly mismatched opponents, and yet it's the poorly armed (just our hillbilly weapons) insurgents and non-state actors that have prevailed or turned a military victory into a political disaster for the 'victors.'

"Sheesh man, you have watched way too many action movies."

Again, battle of Athens. Exactly what I'm talking about. Did you read the link at all? I doubt it. Do you have any expertise with firearms beyond action movies? Have you been in an actual fight as an adult? Have any experience at all with the use of violence or even read a history book to understand that it's never simply about superior firepower?
There are levels of engagement and escalation. If you get into a verbal argument with your neighbor and he whips out a pistol and shoots you, your other neighbors are going to say maybe he over reacted a bit, no matter how harsh the language was that you used.
So too - politics is a constant negotiation with the threat of violence in the background. Sometimes it's bluff. Sometimes it's not. But the U.S. government is not going to ever initiate open warfare domestically because thats the equivalent jump they would have to make.
Part of the strategy of engagement is forcing your opponent to overreact. Wars aren't just about hardware or who's got the most men - they're conducted at four levels - political, strategic, theater and tactical. I'm talking about political and tactical. You're saying because the U.S. military controls the strategic level all other facets must bend to it.
You're completely wrong. Examples abound, from Iraq to Kosovo. We retain strategic advantage - unparalleled dominance in fact, and we cannot and have not achieved our objectives.
Now tactics, that's just fire and movement - all you have to do is balance how much effort to apply to striking the opponent to achieve the objective and how much to countering his strikes.
Well, war amongst people is primarily tactical in nature with only occasional forays into the theater level - you, and other laymen, continue to insist this WWII version of open battlefield warfare that simply isn't possible anymore. You're thinking tanks and planes against some 'hillbillies with guns' as though they're going to stand out there in nice straight trenches dug in the middle of their neighborhood and duke it out toe to toe with the military.
That doesn't exist anymore.
If the U.S. military right now took out ten blocks of downtown New York, I suspect people might be a little upset.
Those people getting upset is what is stopping them from doing it. That's the advantage a guerrilla has. He can simply vanish in a crowd (the guerrilla moves amongst the people as the fish swims in the sea - to quote Mao).
So now what? They're not standing there with their handguns shooting at our gunships like XMLicious said they would. They're hiding in their neighborhoods.
Ok, so you have checkpoints, you start counterinsurgency. Meanwhile you have logistic and personnel liabilities. So you get a pro or someone who's down for the cause to visit the barracks, get naked, then run out screaming. Or hell, really prick tease the hell out of the troops and get them to actually rape someone. Now you've got an atrocity on your hands.
Your ball, pal. Think those folks who only months ago were people going freely about their lives are going to sit still for troops raping their wives and daughters? And then there's IEDs, and car bombs and random sniper attacks. Maybe you capture a mortar or someone builds one. And you keep pushing the troops harder and harder.
Well, you're the one wants them out there. You're the one telling me the U.S. military can bomb cities - ok, have at it. See what happens. (Propaganda of deed and provocation - the marches in Northern Ireland that led to the events of Bloody Sunday would be an example, also works for reconnaissance. But I'm not teaching master courses here, pick up a book).
The decision to go to war is made on a political level and the decision to stop it is made on a political level. Engagement at the tactical level is necessary only to force it to the theater level, to force an escalation with the potential to get out of hand.
As a guerrilla, that's EXACTLY what I'd want. Come bomb my neighborhood. Kill a few hundred people. Every one has a brother or a sister.
But for all that to start I need to have that first engagement on the lower levels. So I need a firearm.
And that's exactly what happened at the battle of Athens. Sure the federal government could have stepped in and backed the assholes, but then they'd have to start killing people. A lot of people. And the veterans wouldn't have been able to put themselves in that position without having weapons in the first place.
For a military force to be effective the desired outcome of its use must be understood in detail, the context must be defined as well as the point of application.
When citizens possess firearms they seek to establish in the minds of their leaders that the ever-present option of conflict is not the preferable course of action when in confrontation over a given matter.
And this CAN be done. It's been proven.
Why that would be in conflict with the more broad (and valid) idea that to be effective this must be applied as part of a greater scheme focusing political and other levers on the one goal, I don't know.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:20 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Poles and Jews took the Nazis to this level in the battle of Warsaw.

This battle of Warsaw? Which was timed to coincide with an invasion of the Soviet Union into Poland? You've again chosen an example where the action depended on foreign intervention by a global superpower. And I am pretty skeptical that this had anything to do with private ownership of firearms within the Nazi empire.

> you're just saying that the U.S. military would never try to destroy Chicago and resettle its population anyways, whether or not anyone had firearms.

Yes. And you're saying nothing's stopping them. Oh, except democracy and rule of law

No, I'm saying that nothing would stop it at all if the U.S. military attempted to destroy Chicago.

If they aren't attempting it, either democracy and rule of law is stopping them or as you said it's because members of the U.S. military would mutiny. And neither of those things has to do with private ownership of firearms.

> Yeah, if some group of hillbillies with guns suddenly found themselves also supplied by a global superpower like the Soviet Union in a proxy war with the U.S. government, they could hold off the U.S. military.

Because it was that simple, yee haw!

Yes, it is that simple. The North Vietnamese did not win the war because they are so exceptionally hard-core and Rambo-like. Guerrilla warfare isn't something they invented or that was a huge surprise to the U.S. military, which had faced it frequently before like in nearly a century of Indian Wars, for example. They won it with Soviet ammunition, fuel, money, training, and military hardware. They were certainly courageous and innovative but the outcome of the war would have been radically different without the Soviet assistance and the U.S. would have unquestionably won just as we'd have won in Korea handily without the Soviet assistance there. It's not like the North Vietnamese almost could have done it on their own and barely needed any help from the Soviets.

Similarly during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, even with the Mujaheddin coming from from all over the Muslim world, and hence the native Afghani forces being drastically augmented, the Soviets were making complete mincemeat of them until the CIA contacted the Mujaheddin and started feeding them support.

In Iraq the success of the insurgency was the result of a massive influx of arms, money, munitions, explosives, and foreign fighters across the borders. That's the official U.S. military assessment: that if the borders had been secured closed immediately the insurgency would not have happened. Nothing at all to do with private ownership of firearms in Iraq. They are not "poorly armed (just our hillbilly weapons) insurgents", they're the tip of an immense network that is drawing resources and fighters from as far away as Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines.

And the success of the Taliban in the current U.S. war in Afghanistan is because they were the national military force there, because they've again gotten vast aid from a huge international network, and because they took control a large region of a neighboring country. Not because they were private owners of firearms.

Again, battle of Athens. Exactly what I'm talking about. Did you read the link at all? I doubt it.

All I saw in your links was a Wikipedia article about a church, something about the number of countries that have recognized Kosovo, and an immensely long article about something that appears to have involved a handful of people. Of course I didn't spend an hour reading simply because you want to be cryptic - if you have a point to make, make it.

...Okay, is this what you're talking about? An incident where the individuals involved were all members of or former members of the military and they borrowed all the firearms from the State Guard and National Guard armories, to oppose some local government officials and a bunch of suddenly-deputized local guys? Oh, really great anecdote to analogize with the U.S. military destroying New York, L. A., and Chicago or the South stopping desegregation or the FLDS starting a shootout with the FBI. Somehow I think I know why you tried to get by with dropping hints instead of explaining what you were talking about.

You're the one telling me the U.S. military can bomb cities - ok, have at it.

You connected the ownership of firearms to some reason that the U.S. military could not destroy Chicago et. al. I simply pointed out that this was not true, to which you had to resort to talking about members of the military refusing to follow orders as a reason it wouldn't happen rather than anything having to do with private ownership of firearms.

When citizens possess firearms they seek to establish in the minds of their leaders that the ever-present option of conflict is not the preferable course of action when in confrontation over a given matter.

And this CAN be done. It's been proven.


No, it hasn't been. What you've given are a bunch of examples where a huge influx of foreign military assistance is all that allowed some group to resist an opponent the size of the U.S. military. Nothing to do with private ownership of arms; with all that foreign aid being necessary it wouldn't matter in the slightest whether arms were privately owned since they're getting the required military-level assistance from whatever the outside source is.

Leading an uprising against the U.S. government is simply a violent fantasy that many people who like to play with guns dream about and like to use for spreading FUD. It's a fantasy in which they get their way on some issue or get some kind of revenge against the government by shooting lots of people, not unlike the many similar fantasies of getting one's way or getting one's revenge which have been carried out recently and are the subject of the OP here.

I don't care how much experience with firearms you have or how many fights you've been in - neither of those things give you some special insight into leading a military uprising against the U.S. government nor special insight into what happened during the Vietnam War. And in fact believing that those things grant you such special insight and trying to hold it out like it makes you some sort of authority, not to mention throwing up an extensive chaff screen of your little ideologies and philosophies while asking things like "Have you ever read a history book?", is a really good indication that you've got nothing.
posted by XMLicious at 1:52 AM on April 8, 2009


"neither of those things give you some special insight into leading a military uprising against the U.S. government nor special insight into what happened during the Vietnam War."
No, studying the Vietnam war, having relatives who fought there, and my military experience gives me special insight into Vietnam and how insurgents fight and are fought.

"The North Vietnamese did not win the war because they are so exceptionally hard-core and Rambo-like. "
No, they won because their logistics were impossible to destroy and their will to fight remained unbroken. They would never have surrendered short of genocide. Nixon and Kissinger were talking using nukes. Soviets supplied arms, but it was the PRC doing most of the heavy lifting. But that's not relevant, they would have gotten weapons through the black market or lived off us (as they did toward the end of the war - the material supply only allowed them major scale operations - the guerrilla war was a whole other thing).

"No, I'm saying that nothing would stop it at all if the U.S. military attempted to destroy Chicago."
Which shows the depth of your understanding of military operations.

"Oh, really great anecdote to analogize with the U.S. military destroying New York, L. A., and Chicago or the South stopping desegregation or the FLDS starting a shootout with the FBI."
There was no serious resistance in the south nor was there any real resistance with the FLDS. There was no real oppression going on, those people were a minority at odds with the greater majority AND the government. You're the only one positing that type of argument.
Insofar as the battle of Athens - that's not in contrast to your stupid premise, that's an illustration of mine. You don't want to argue that, you want to argue this lunacy. I'm talking about practical realities, not ideology.

"Leading an uprising against the U.S. government is simply a violent fantasy that many people who like to play with guns dream about and like to use for spreading FUD. "
Again, I've agreed to your initial premise. You're the one asserting some yahoos with handguns charging military bases. A guerrilla war is by it's nature reactive. I'm NOT arguing initiation, that can be done with planning, etc. and firearms and the military wing of whatever organization is in place.
You brought up theater level operations (everything up to nukes) and I'm saying on that level major operations can be resisted. You're calling foul because, what, a given outfit couldn't possibly get weapons in the U.S? Not from criminal orgnizations? Not from foreign support? Well destroying Chicago would have major repercussions world wide and I think there would be support available from external forces. But you're playing a rhetorical game where these obvious repercussions are obviated by - well that's not really clear.
This is the game where you say you have 10 battleships and ask what I would do. I say I'd bring out 10 subs. You ask where I'm getting the 10 subs - well, I'm pointing out from first principles - where are the 10 battleships coming from?
Warfare and politics are integrated - which does address your initial point.
Obviously if the nature of the rebellion or armed uprising is illegitimate or in opposition to the will of the people it's going to fail. Again, this is a broad topic and there are a number of givens you're assuming. Well, I've ceded those. Obviously vigilance is superior to merely owning firearms. Weapons themselves have no will.
But again, I'm not talking overthrow, that's a very complex situation. I'm talking resistance. Such resistance is possible and always has been. Far as I know the British Army failed to to defeat the IRA by force of arms, that alone illustrates my point.
But again, firearms are one component of that. You're arguing some asshole point thinking I'm talking about just the guns. I'm not.
In any serious and legitimate rebellion (say Obama suspends the constitution and declares himself dictator for life - unrealistic, but for the sake of argument) the support of the population is as necessry for the counterinsurgent as it is for the insurgent.
This is why the U.S. military would never simply bomb Chicago. We're not arguing, or at least I'm not, whether it's physically possible. That's unquestioned. I'm telling you from experience, that decision would never be on the table given the efficiency of communication in the U.S. - and any military is only as efficient as the infrastructure which supports them.
Essentially you're saying someone could use a high powered rifle to rid themselves of fleas. Not going to happen. The force the U.S. military - but most armed forces - can bring to bear on their own population is always going to be limited. And moreso the more mechanized and technologically sophisticated that military is.
The Brits did not saturation bomb Belfast or Derry.
Therefore - given the amount of force a military can bring to bear in any realistic way is limited, small arms become a more realistic measure of resistance. It's a bit easier if those small arms are already in place.
It's just that simple.
"Should" we have firearms - different story. I think so, but again, I'm not arguing that. I'm arguing the role of small arms in resistance to government (or other) tyranny or corruption one whatever scale. You're the one saying the president and joint chiefs could wake up tomorrow and say "hey, let's kill 5 million of our own citizens" and not only have the order obeyed, but get away with it with no desertions, no formation of a major resistance, no international aid to that resistance (which, miraculously, also doesn't have it's own money or any way to buy them either), not even to address the socio-economic effects and thousands of other intangibles.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:32 PM on April 8, 2009


To go back to the beginning:
"The point is that even if the kids at Tienanmen square had been packing the tanks still would have crushed them."
It's kind of funny that I pointed out that even without firearms the kids at Tienanmen square destroyed some APCs and killed some soldiers and you pretty much ignored that. Why didn't they saturation bomb them if it's "anything up to nukes?" They're not a democracy.
So maybe there's something other than raw military firepower that dictate engagements.

"Democracy is what would bring freedom to China, for example, and guns would not; and it's democracy that's maintaining the freedom elsewhere, not the guns."

I seem to remember the U.S. revolutionaries using firearms. So, what, that didn't do anything?

"it's just that the "resisting the government when it goes bad" is a totally ludicrous one"
Pretty much the link I posted, which you refuse to read, referred to "resisting the government when it goes bad." It's exactly the case of a government going bad. Oh, but it's different, there were veterans, they weren't taking on the whole U.S military, it's not like the case that *I* want to talk about where blah blah blah. Yeah, whatever. Veterans just disappear after they leave the military. How fucking fine a point you want to put on your bullshit? I'm a veteran. It's not like we're hard to find. Firearms can also be used to protect oneself from police corruption - what, not on a grand enough scale for you?
If the whole U.S. military mobilizes against the country for some reason - there are going to be a great many reasons why and plenty of forces in play. It's not going to be as simple as taking out some militia group in the backwoods - whatever the insurgency is, it's going to be a guerrilla war, exactly because there is no force that can take on the military straight up. When they can, they then become the legitimate authority (given that they win), they have all the tanks and planes and now have to work on their own counterinsurgency campaign.
You're the one playing rhetorical games and moving the goalposts and propping up strawmen chief. I've cut you plenty of breaks, made some wide latitude for your argument and indeed, I've agreed except for this tangent on (at least what I'm arguing) tactics. You don't want to hear about it, I've got no more use for you.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:52 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, studying the Vietnam war, having relatives who fought there, and my military experience gives me special insight into Vietnam and how insurgents fight and are fought.

Okay - so we have firmly established that it's complete and total bullshit that experience with firearms or getting into fights makes you any sort of authority here. Thank you for admitting that.

> No, I'm saying that nothing would stop it at all if the U.S. military attempted to destroy Chicago.

Which shows the depth of your understanding of military operations.


And your "depth of understanding of military operations" is represented by the assertion "no one would ever follow orders like that"!!!

I think we can safely say that at least this part of your analysis deserves the same regard as "I've gotten into a whole bunch of fights as an adult so I know what I'm talking about."

You're the one asserting some yahoos with handguns charging military bases.

I made no such assertion; in fact it was only your mention of this "Battle of Athens" thing that brought yahoos and military bases into the discussion. All I did was respond to your claim that private ownership of firearms prevents the U.S. government from destroying cities like New York or Chicago, and showed what complete and total bullshit such a claim is.

I'm NOT arguing initiation, that can be done with planning, etc. and firearms and the military wing of whatever organization is in place.

Okay... so if you're not arguing anything about the initial circumstances, and you're saying any of these things can be arranged with planning, then we're agreed: private ownership of firearms has nothing to do with the possibility or impossibility of leading an uprising against the U.S. government.

So, as I have been saying the whole way along, justifying anything related to gun laws by saying that private ownership of firearms is necessary for leading a resistance against the U.S. government is complete and total bullshit and making such an argument requires the sorts of misdirection and shell games you've been trying to engage in.

You're arguing some asshole point thinking I'm talking about just the guns. I'm not.

All I've said from the beginning is that it's a complete load of crap that the reason people want to own guns is because they need them for planning resistance against the U.S. government.

I said that I've heard people say this and that although there are lots of reasons private ownership of firearms might be justified, that particular credo is bullshit. You are the one who jumped in to defend people who say that by, among other things, giving examples about the U.S. government destroying Chicago and resettling its population. You're the one who suggested that I would only think what I think because I've never read a history book or haven't gotten into enough fights as an adult or need more "experience in the use of violence". You are the one making asshole points here.
posted by XMLicious at 5:32 PM on April 8, 2009


"Okay - so we have firmly established that it's complete and total bullshit that experience with firearms or getting into fights makes you any sort of authority here."
No, that was to illustrate that there are levels of escalation involved in any engagement. From fist fights to firefights to bombing campaigns. I was pointing out the invalidity of your basic premise.

"And your "depth of understanding of military operations" is represented by the assertion "no one would ever follow orders like that""

I'm sorry, you're comparing U.S. troops to genocidal rapists in Darfur and *I'm* the one with delusions about how military operations are run? Again - degrees. Given some bizarre event - there's some uprising at home that endangers peoples lives, yes, U.S. troops could fire on those people. Wonton mass murder of a city? That didn't happen in the British campaign against the IRA. I see no reason why the troops of any first world society would tolerate it.

"All I did was respond to your claim that private ownership of firearms prevents the U.S. government from destroying cities like New York or Chicago, and showed what complete and total bullshit such a claim is."

Show me where I claimed that. Far as I know I claimed that it was a social and logistic problem. I don't know any military commander who would do that under any circumstances. Especially Chicago. You'd have to capture it. There's so many train lines, most of the telephone and internet lines run through there. It's a major hub. Could the U.S. military capture it? Sure. Not a problem. But there again - a guerrilla war is possible. But that's given the circumstances, the political reasons for the theater operation. Maybe some covert cell of shapeshifting aliens comes out of nowhere. Ok, well, the U.S. military is going to be strongly backed by the will of the people so they're not going to have problem one. Probably have a lot of help. Some arbitrary reason for capturing the city - not going to go over very well. You're presuming circumstances. I've allowed for them, and ceded. But there are circumstances where the U.S. military could have a very hard time with a domestic occupation and one of the first things their going to do is seize weapons.
And indeed - that's one of the things that was stupid about Iraq. It was not (despite the propaganda) foreign fighters. That's a component. But we let the Iraqi army just take a walk. Sent them packing. WITH all their ordinance. Pretty f'ing stupid.

But then - if we're talking the U.S. government making war against the American people - I'd say Iraq was, in fact, a war against the American people. With the Iraqis as a sacrifice. Their blood, our treasure. And that's really the point of war anyway. So really - they won without firing a shot at us. And there wasn't a damn thing we could have done about it no matter how much beef we had at home.

"Okay... so if you're not arguing anything about the initial circumstances, and you're saying any of these things can be arranged with planning, then we're agreed: private ownership of firearms has nothing to do with the possibility or impossibility of leading an uprising against the U.S. government."

Uh, first time I addressed the topic I said "I completely agree." With only the caveat that firearms can make a difference in resistance. Lemme emphasize - resistance. And only in minor ways. Broad social effects require capturing the will of the people, yeah. I've merely been arguing the same thing from the other side - legitimacy for the insurgent or counterinsurgent does not come from the barrel of a gun.

"justifying anything related to gun laws by saying that private ownership of firearms is necessary for leading a resistance against the U.S. government is complete and total bullshit and making such an argument requires the sorts of misdirection and shell games you've been trying to engage in."

Y'know, you say "leading a resistance" like 12 year olds say "I know how to do sex."
It's not absolutely necessary no. Far as I know some schmucks with box cutters took on the entire U.S. military and domestic air traffic control system and won. It's just better to have it and not need it than not have it and need it.
Whether it's *worth* having - whole other thing. Then you get into stats all that - the likelyhood of the U.S. military or government going nuts and blowing up Chicago or some such - extremely low.
So in terms of the odds, I'd have to say it's not likely no. So an argument over how useful it is to have firearms with the premise that you're going to resist government oppression could be had. Given it's not likely, I would have to say no, it's not a useful argument, and I indicated as such from the outset.
Where we differ is as to what's possible with small arms. It's perfectly possible to resist - and by resist I mean defend against - government (or other) forces at the local, state or federal level. Guerrilla warfare is by necessity defensive. You can strike at your leisure (because you can blend into the population - given you have their support), but you can't strike in force.

"You are the one making asshole points here."
Yeah, well, go fuck yourself.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:01 PM on April 8, 2009


Okay - so we have firmly established that it's complete and total bullshit that experience with firearms or getting into fights makes you any sort of authority here. Thank you for admitting that.

While your challenging someone's expertise and claims to authority, where does yours come from?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:13 PM on April 8, 2009


BrotherCaine: While your challenging someone's expertise and claims to authority, where does yours come from?

I don't have any authority and I haven't said that me being an authority is any reason to accept what I say - like Smedleyman has. People can agree with me or not: but Smedleyman having gotten into lots of fights as an adult or having experience on a firing range does not make his opinions on the Vietnam War or overthrowing the U.S. government right and does not make my opinions on those topics wrong. Not to mention throwing out that he's related to people who fought in Vietnam. Him invoking that or questioning whether I've done the same things is, to say it again, complete and total bullshit. (And is an actual example of the ad hominem rhetorical fallacy, as opposed to the way "ad hom" is usually used these days, which is why I didn't use that phrase before.)

Like, if he's a military counterinsurgency specialist or something, I would be impressed. (Maybe he is, I can't tell; he has filled in the "occupation" section of his profile but it's in Latin.) (And by the way I do mean specialist - like, the sort of person who helps plan counterinsurgency operations - I read that U.S. Army counterinsurgency manual too.) Short of that, dropping these little hints and nudges that he needs to be regarded as an authority, and announcing that in contrast I must have never read any history books, is pretty weak.

> Okay - so we have firmly established that it's complete and total bullshit that experience with firearms or getting into fights makes you any sort of authority here.

Smedleyman: No... I was pointing out the invalidity of your basic premise.

Oh please. You were obviously trying to say that anyone who doesn't have experience with firearms or hasn't gotten into fights must immediately kowtow to someone who has. On the topic of the relationship of these various wars and the logistics of overthrowing the U.S. government to private ownership of firearms. "You haven't gotten into lots of fights" does not demonstrate invalidity of any premises about the Vietnam War.

I'm sorry, you're comparing U.S. troops to genocidal rapists in Darfur and *I'm* the one with delusions about how military operations are run? Again - degrees. Given some bizarre event - there's some uprising at home that endangers peoples lives, yes, U.S. troops could fire on those people. Wonton mass murder of a city? That didn't happen in the British campaign against the IRA. I see no reason why the troops of any first world society would tolerate it.

Making points about private ownership of firearms and how that relates to resistance or overthrow of the U.S. government has nothing to do with calling U.S. troops genocidal rapists. "He's calling the U.S. military genocidal rapists!" is another example of the reasoning you're marshaling on this issue.

Show me where I claimed that. Far as I know I claimed that it was a social and logistic problem.

Look - if you were just offhandedly saying "Destroying major U.S. cities and resettling their population is a social and logistical problem" and you just happened to innocently, accidentally make such an unrelated statement in direct response to a point about private ownership of firearms, in a fashion as though it had something to do with that issue, I don't think it's me who's responsible for the confusion. But then, I of course do not think that any of this was an innocent accident.

> You are the one making asshole points here.
Yeah, well, go fuck yourself.

QED.

-----

Look, if you really were just trying to get your jollies off here by putting yourself up on a pedestal as a military expert on guerrilla warfare in front of us all, instead of actually discussing the topic I'd posed about whether private ownership of firearms is somehow pivotal to resisting the U.S. government - I'm sorry it didn't go well for you but you really were a complete dick to me: from the get-go you were proclaiming that I couldn't know what I was talking about, couldn't have ever read a history book, and how dare I question anything you say or point out that destroying Chicago might not have much to do with the subject?
posted by XMLicious at 10:21 PM on April 8, 2009


AG Eric Holder waffles on gun control
posted by homunculus at 1:18 PM on April 9, 2009


"I'm sorry it didn't go well for you but you really were a complete dick to me:"

Uh, saying "I completely agree" with you from the get go except for this tangential point is being a complete dick?
Matter of fact I do have expertise in counterinsurgency operations and I've got plenty of fruit salad to show for it, and scars. Feel free to be impressed. I don't do that anymore though. I'm (as I said) a veteran. That aside - you're right - my authority or yours isn't a factor in what is essentially a value judgment argument. I wasn't arguing value, but the way I re-read it, it can come across that way though - that I'm positing being in a fight, etc. gives one some authority. Not the way I meant it. My mistake, sorry for the way it came across.
That said, you were a dick to me as well, so I don't see where I'm alone here in contributing to this clusterfuck.

I think I've been more than clear on some very precise points and made amply clear that I agreed with your overall premise with the only disagreement being whether it's possible to resist U.S. armed forces with firearms. It is. It's possible to do it with civil disobedience, pitchforks, any number of things given an intolerable situation of oppression.
As I've said - the IRA resisted one of the best trained military forces in the world for a very long time with small arms.

What is completely frustrating to me is you continue to belabor the point when I've made it clear time and again that I agree with you. Merely for different reasons and I only had one tangential point of contention.
Tkchrist makes an excellent point on training in self-defense and the martial arts - that it's good to train in just about anything because what you're most likely to get killed by is heart disease, not some psycho.

So too - given the minuscule probability of the U.S. military flipping out and destroying one of its own cities or the government coming down with widespread and overt oppressive policies suddenly (that, again, in keeping with your point, it's best to defend against with vigilance), firearms aren't that major a factor in any of that.

By the same token - it is possible, if you're trained in self-defense, to defend yourself against a psycho. So too - it's possible to defend oneself against government (or other) malfeasance with a firearm. Indeed, one sniper can pin down an entire unit given the right circumstances and terrain. It's physically possible.
Is it practical? No. You most certainly need - as I've reiterated again and again - the will of the people to have any appreciable effect. Firepower on either side of the equation makes less of a difference than the political control.
Which again reinforces your point as to democracy and law being more effective.

So to be absolutely and perfectly crystal clear about this - I am not addressing your point on how firearms could hold off the U.S military in a revolt or revolution or resistance in part because
A. I have no idea what your understanding of those terms are
B. in part because my premise rests on the will of the people already in favor of resistance - not in the criminal acts or smaller scale policy disagreements you mentioned (segregation, et.al.)
but C. most because I fully agree with you that participating in democracy and supporting the rule of law is more effective and far more ideal (and I've said so repeatedly).

The only thing I am saying is that it is tactically possible for a group with small arms to hold off a larger, better armed group, even a large military force - no matter the country or difference in firepower.
For a number of reasons. The main reason that I wanted to address was this idea that merely because the U.S. military has everything up to and including nukes - does not mean it is possible to use that force in all engagements.
And for fundamental military reasons. When I'm speaking of military operations I'm not talking about flying slicks around or moving tanks and men. I'm talking about what is done to meet goals. The direction of aircraft and other material and personnel is a subset of that, yes. But operations are driven by the overall goal.
Saying the military can use "anything up to nukes" implies that that force can be brought to bear. But it says nothing about the goal of such a thing. And I can think of no reasonable scenario in which the U.S. military would have the goal of destroying a major American city.

Again - this augments your overall point and only addresses one minor practical detail of it that irritates me - that being that it's stupid to own a firearm because it's impossible to resist such power. (Again, not that YOU'RE saying it, but it's an idea bandied about here, so - same thing you're accusing me of)

So I attempted to explain that it is not possible to bring such power fully to bear under all circumstances. Anyone who has been in the armed forces, at least in combat operations, would likely know that. Certainly someone in logistics would know it as well.

So I attempted - poorly and acrimoniously I'll admit, and apologies for - to point out your, and others, ignorance of what is a fairly commonly known concept in military circles.
What I did not enter into - in part because of frustration, but also in part because I did not want to take the time to write all this, although in retrospect I should have - is the rules of warfare which are based in practically achieving goals.

The goal - unless it is genocide (and I touched on that) of any military operation is to achieve a sustainable peace and hand administration back to the political authority.
These are codified in many ways (legal, standing orders, etc. etc.) but the restraints are in place with an eye towards stability. No military can operate in chaos, nor can they operate if the infrastructure which supports them is in chaos (people don't go to work, no one makes ammo, MREs, etc. etc. - supplies break down, everything loses cohesion and you become a mob, no matter how well trained you are - hence - any military which attacks its own country must be extremely careful and restrained about how they go about it - especially if they're more sophisticated).
So acts that are not justified by "military necessity" are prohibited.
Saying the miltary can use "anything up to nukes" implies that military necessity restraints come only through rule of law.
Nor do those restrains - to be clear - come from the civilian population being armed. It has nothing to do with it.
What it has to do with is the goals. The goal of the military - if it were to disarm the population - could be achieved fairly handily, given people didn't get too upset by it.
If they did get upset, and formented revolution - firearms would help, but what would determine the success of any given revolution is the will of the people. Not their guns.
But again - guns would help. That they're in place beforehand is a convenience.
But there's nothing stopping a well run revolution from laying its hands on weapons - from whatever source, inside the country, living off the enemy, or external support.

If they succeed, then they're the new bosses and they run the military.
So the goal of the military is not unrestrained killing of the enemy or civilians.

Again - to be clear - the simple fact they have hardware "up to and including nukes" does not mean military necessity means necessary to win the present engagement.
What it means is that (and I'm stealing from Wright here, but his work is taught at war colleges, the MCU, et.al) - the goal of the military during a war is not just to win the war but to win the subsequent peace. If force is used that is not justified by military necessity, the seeds will be sewn of future revenge. Hence a stable peace may not have been secured.

So if we're going to state the U.S. military has, and can use anything short of nuclear weapons we have to ask - against what is such force legitimate to bring to bear?
The tanks were not called out against the D.C. sniper.
And it's instructive to note very similar tactics were used by the IRA (the South Armagh sniper) which conducted sniper operations against the British military for more than 7 years (90-97 - but twenty years before that, the provisional IRA was already killing 40 to 60 soldiers a year). And the Brits couldn't use helicopters, it confounded patrols, sapped morale.
Again - none of this is to argue efficacy, morality, or the ideal. Merely that it's possible because of the goals of the military and the limitations on the use of force under military necessity - not some action hero fantasy of my own.

But again, what's irritating is you telling me over and over the same thing, ignoring what I'm trying to say and recasting it into your own terms and your own argument.

I can't count how many times I said "I agree" or "You're right" or "correct" and attempted to explain what *I* was saying without you running roughshod all over it.

So no, I think you bear some responsibility for the confusion especially if I post the battle of athens - explain that this is what I'm talking about in tangent, reiterate that I agree with you on your overall point, and still get this chaff in response. What, I'm not supposed to get frustrated?

Look, when I'm wrong, I apologize. I make no bones about it. This? No, I bear some responsibility and yeah, I was unclear and flipped out I apologize for that. But by no means is all of this my fault.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:28 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Not to mention throwing out that he's related to people who fought in Vietnam. Him invoking that or questioning whether I've done the same things is, to say it again, complete and total bullshit."

To add - dunno how many times I mentioned my military service on metafilter over the years. I mentioned it up thread as well. How is that my responsibility if you don't want to read? You want to say I meant it a certain way? I didn't. I see it, but fine, whatever.
But I studied Vietnam as in - fucking - studied. On top of that I come from a family with a lot of vets, so I have a good deal of, albiet anecdotal, knowlege, but I was reading Caesar's commentaries on taking Gaul before I was in high school. It's the environment, on top of training. I don't know what it is you went to college for, if you did, but if you took computer classes and I was in here saying extensible markup language can't run on PCs because there are too many quads per channel, you'd probably be questioning my erudition.
Now I don't know anything about that stuff to say something that's even wrong, but I do know those terms have certain meanings in certain contexts and to someone with experience in them speaking to a layman who treats those definitions as malleable can be frustrating.
Ever get frustrated with someone? Yeah. Happened to me.

Now, I can be a ball buster sometimes, but I don't think I should have to take this kind of shit. Oh, I'm not saying I don't have any shit coming, or a lot of it, but this? I have no tolerance for. You either read what I said (and I've mentioned it several times in this thread alone) or you've got no right to hand me this kind of crap.

And too, I've apologized when I've been wrong on metafilter. Apologized for acrimony as well (hell, did it here, not taking this 'it wasn't an innocent accident' crap though like I was completely an asshole on all counts while you were being prince charming) .
The number of folks who have the integrity to do that are in damned short supply. I won't hold my breath counting on yours.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:11 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right-wing fearmongering about guns reaching a fever pitch
posted by homunculus at 1:39 PM on April 11, 2009


"Now, it's coming out of the mouths of people with mainstream media programs: Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter."

Yeah, that's what kills me from the other side of the equation on gun laws. Think Glenn Beck has clue one on how to handle a firearm? Or Limbaugh who couldn't serve because of his asshole problems. Or Bill O'Reilly who told Col. Ann Wright, 29 year veteran, that she started hating her country WTF?
And the Nazi gun control crap irritates me too. No sense of history at all. ...granted they deal in distortion anyway. But ok, Hitler did say it would be a foolish mistake to permit conquered people to have firearms: "History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so."
But the Nazi propaganda machine was so effective (and anti-semitism had always been pretty omnipresent, hell even the British were turning them away early on) that pretty much everyone was on board. Even the Jews thought it was just going to be another social/racial persecution, that they might lose some of their stuff and suffer, but things would be back to normal eventually. So even the strongest opposition, the people who had the most to lose, were practicing appeasement. Revolt was never on the table.
So even were German Jews tripping over the stockpiles of firearms and ammunition in their homes, wouldn't have made a difference.

Not that, y'know, anyone broadcast "Hey, were coming to kill all of you, so stay put." It was the 'just a little bit' stuff. And complete command of the media and domination of the language and meaning of words.
Plus - for most Germans things were going swimmingly. I mean in the U.S. right now, we're in hot soup. The German economy had made a come back, the chaos in the streets had stopped (granted the Nazi party was behind that, but who knew? All people knew was the blackshirts stopped smashing stuff up - yay Hitler restored order). Granted, once the war got underway there was serious civilian resistance. (And the Warsaw ghetto uprising I mentioned is a classic example - the resistance was beaten only, as Marek Edelman said, by the willingness to burn the entire place down, not by the German troops. But even then - they had practiced appeasement in the beginning. They thought they were going to camps. They didn't know they were fighting against their extermination)

Plus these broadcasters are stupid - no one is going to mount a serious revolution just over the gun issue. And, ok, what if they do? It's not going to be many people. Just some idiots, some misguided folks and some folks who maybe let their passion get in the way of their thinking. That's what really REALLY pisses me off about these people.
At least the Nazis were serious about their naked grab for power. These people whine like little girls "Oh, they're going to take your guns - you guys better go do something about it for us!"
Fuck. You have that much of a beef, gather some thugs together and hit the streets yourself and organize a revolution. It'd fail, because their ideology goes no further than serving themselves. But hell, at least they'd have the courage of their convictions.
This limp dick whining is just going to get some good people killed who happen to hold some contrary political viewpoints, and some cops and federal agents, and these assholes are going to want to skate away saying "oh, well, I'm just an entertainer. I wasn't serious."
Fuckhead - don't you know that only makes it worse?
Christ I'd rather spend the rest of my life cleaning the glass in adult bookstores than make my money the way these people make theirs.
Dante put the falsifiers who were a disease on society in the tenth pocket (Bolgia) at the bottom of the Eighth circle. I suspect he didn't place them in the Ninth with the traitors only because there's not even anything to betray - every word is perjury, every identity a lie (to paraphrase Dorthy Sayers) and the corruption is turned even on itself.

Say what you will about Nazism dude, at least it's an ethos (to paraphrase Walter)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:13 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Americans buying guns like crazy
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on April 13, 2009


Right-Wing Bloggers Angry at Department of Homeland Security for Monitoring Right-Wing Terrorists
posted by homunculus at 2:24 PM on April 14, 2009


« Older In September of 2008, two Austrians traveled 13,00...  |  Who are the Fools here?... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments