Reconciling the Second Amendment with Public Safety Concerns
September 11, 2014 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Gun Wars: the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from "29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21.

Some stories on the site are long-form articles "augmented by audio, photos, video and data visualizations." There is an extensive blog. Also, sections containing data-driven graphics and 10 multimedia presentations.
posted by zarq (62 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is the fifth investigative project from News21. Others covered voting rights, food safety and transportation safety in America.

Last year’s project examined post-9/11 veterans, and was previously covered on MeFi.
posted by zarq at 6:42 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


☛ ☚
posted by Fizz at 6:52 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


see, now this is an object lesson in how the right-wing, dating from the 70s, is light-years ahead of everyone else in the US in terms of political messaging.

Let's examine hand-gun owners in the US. There are approximately 100 million handguns in the US. Now, if you own a hand-gun, it isn't for hunting. So, it's either for the ever-popular "target practice" or safety. Setting aside the devoted target shooters, against whom is your hand-gun going to provide safety? Now, empirically, you are most threatened by your friends and family who own guns... which is a bit circular. But, I would imagine most safety ethusiasts might imagine a scenario involving an intruder. Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

There is a reason the NRA became politically active in the 70s: fear of black people. Or, more specifically, the Nixon/Republican drive to split the FDR Democratic coalition along race lines. Now, after the dust settled on the civil rights era, the Republican party couldn't campaign on race hatred. They had to find "dog-whistle" issues that didn't sound offensive on mass media, things like: schools and guns and welfare, etc. The campaign for gun rights is entirely the campaign to make sure white america knows that the Republican party stands by them in their desperate efforts to defend themselves against rampaging black people.

So, the more you argue about guns and run rights, the more respectable the dog-whistle becomes. You'd think we were a nation of constitutional scholars for the amount of "water-cooler' debates on the 2nd Amendment. Now, how many of these 'extensive" blog essays talked about race? I only wish the left knew how to play the mass media game as well. But, the problem is that, on some level, dog-whistles only work if the people who make the decisions about what is talked about play along.

In conclusion. What we have here is the work of 22 journalism students, a majority of whom probably vote Democrat, to reinforce a Republican media strategy. Brilliant. If only someone could do multi-media, data driven, interactive journalism about why white America is so fucking scared.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:17 AM on September 11, 2014 [33 favorites]


Setting aside the devoted target shooters, against whom is your hand-gun going to provide safety?

Snakes. .22's and .38's are loaded with shot pellets (rather than hard bullets) and used to kill poisonous snakes that endanger livestock, horses and sometimes humans in Texas. At least, that was the case in North Texas when I lived there. See this slideshow from the report. Using a shotgun on a snake would work, but it's overkill.
posted by zarq at 7:27 AM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


You can kill a snake with a hard bullet, too. But frangible ammunition is more effective.
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on September 11, 2014


My family uses guns to kill snakes too, but I wonder if a shovel would work just as well.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:30 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

Probably hard to tell with the black mask and distracting prison stripes and $-marked bag.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:34 AM on September 11, 2014 [20 favorites]


There is a reason the NRA became politically active in the 70s: fear of black people.

Funny story: the NRA used to be opposed to open carry back when the people doing the open carrying were the Black Panthers.
posted by mhoye at 7:35 AM on September 11, 2014 [23 favorites]


tofu_crouton: My family uses guns to kill snakes too, but I wonder if a shovel would work just as well.

It might. Depends on the type of snake, its location and the person shooting. Most people probably kill snakes with garden tools, not a handgun. But a gun affords a little bit of distance. It allows you to strike into spaces where using a shovel wouldn't be ideal (say, under a porch or house, tight corners where a human being might not be on their feet, would have less maneuverability and may not be able to swing a shovel or move quickly to evade a snake.)

Most snake bites happen to people when they try to kill, touch or catch a snake. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to leave them alone, especially if you have children.

Honestly, snake traps are probably the most safe, efficient method of neutralizing the danger. But that's not usually an option in, for example, an open field.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, the more you argue about guns and run rights, the more respectable the dog-whistle becomes.

Your point seems to be that if a person supports the right to own firearms, specifically handguns, that's conclusive evidence that the person hates black people. That is, if we set aside devoted target shooters. (It always strengthens an argument if we can set aside circumstances that don't conveniently fit inside it.) It would help to know how large a percentage of handgun owners we are setting aside here. But then, your use of scare quotes around "target practice" implies that you don't believe that's the real reason anyone owns a handgun anyhow.

There are some very strong arguments to be made against the ownership of handguns. "All handgun owners are racists" is not one of them.
posted by Longtime Listener at 7:56 AM on September 11, 2014 [16 favorites]


Now, if you own a hand-gun, it isn't for hunting. So, it's either for the ever-popular "target practice" or safety. .... But, I would imagine most safety ethusiasts might imagine a scenario involving an intruder. Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

First, there are actually people who hunt with handguns. But ignoring that, I own guns, including some that have no use other than self defense, and yet don't fantasize about shooting black people. (Or anyone -- that's just not a nice fantasy, though people on the internet can be quick to talk tough.)

Gun ownership and gun politics are more complicated than that and simple minded thinking does no one any favors.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:07 AM on September 11, 2014 [16 favorites]


There are some very strong arguments to be made against the ownership of handguns. "All handgun owners are racists" is not one of them.

I read it more as 'handgun ownership is part of racist politicking in the US' than calling gun owners racist, personally.
posted by Dysk at 8:08 AM on September 11, 2014 [16 favorites]


I read it more as 'handgun ownership is part of racist politicking in the US' than calling gun owners racist, personally.

Same here. That said, making a statement about politics by way of smearing a large and diverse group leaves an unbridgeable gap between what was said and what was meant. I think the rhetoric got in the way quite dramatically. If I may restate the original point as I understood it:

Discussing the gun rights debate without acknowledging that many of the key politicians, organizations, and motivated voters are driven to act out of racism and fear is to do a disservice to the debate and damage the credibility of the facilitators and the material they are presenting. Moreover, by ignoring the link between race and gun politics in the US, the reporters are providing cover for those that perpetuate and leverage that racism.

I'm not sure I agree with that notion, since I don't know whether the erasure of racism in gun politics is a wide-spread problem in the media. (I consume my news on a pretty narrow band.) Still, the history of the NRA alone dictates that I give the argument strong consideration.
posted by WCWedin at 8:25 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

The ironic part is that the answer in the real world is that they don't know because they weren't home when the intrusion happened. Criminals don't usually enter homes that have people in them, it's much easier to steal their stuff when they aren't home. In a further bit of irony, the items targeted for theft during a burglary are, in no particular order, small electronics (laptops, smart phones, tablets), cash, jewelry, and guns particularly handguns.

So now you need to keep your guns in a safe that can't be removed from the home (a pad-lock on a case or a trigger lock won't help) which, even if it's a quick access model makes it less effective for "home protection".
posted by VTX at 8:48 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really feel that handguns in the 2nd amendment message and discussion both dilutes and pollutes the intent.

As far as safety and a well-regulated militia go, knives and shotguns are both more effective and multipurpose answers to both of those. This then goes back to the old chestnuts of 'concealed personal safety' and 'sport.'

For 'sport' - there are solutions which make the handgun a non-issue, which then leaves only the 'concealed personal safety' part, which then leads to a very troubling issue:

If you are willing to use a handgun to enforce your personal safety, that means that you are willing to kill someone (or fake being willing, which is another issue) over any threat to your person, even if it isn't a psychologically or physically mortal threat.

This means that for all effective insoluble purposes, a handgun is a murder tool.

The question then becomes what are we doing to limit the impact of murder tools on society and how can we compromise to reduce their impact without abridging the 2nd Amendment right any further? Additionally, how do we reconcile the willingness to murder for personal safety (sometimes versus imagined or non-mortal threats, again) and the right to murder vs the right to live.

To me, this seems like a non-starter. Our behavior in regards to handguns is, more-or-less, insane.
posted by Fuka at 8:53 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


black people, dog whistles, etc.

Alternately, it could be that interpreting everything in terms of race, fear, and preconceived biases is something that is happening in your mind, and so you are assuming that is what must be happening in others' minds as well.

I realize that this sort of bad-fatih imputation is common here, but I still find it uncharitable and ultimately profoundly unhelpful.
posted by Alaska Jack at 8:59 AM on September 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you are willing to use a handgun to enforce your personal safety, that means that you are willing to kill someone ...over any threat to your person

Linkage between the postulated "if" and "then" statements require a real leap of faith.
posted by Alaska Jack at 9:03 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


I realize that this sort of bad-fatih imputation is common here, but I still find it uncharitable and ultimately profoundly unhelpful.

I don't think statements like those are made in bad faith, I think they're made from a place of honest belief. I also think they're more likely to be made by people who have less depth of experience with gun ownership, so it's much easier for them to believe that gun owners are horrible people who believe horrible things.

It doesn't help matters that there are plenty of gun owners who are horrible people who believe horrible things, and that some of these horrible people who believe horrible things use their guns to kill people. So it's not like there's a shortage of evidence to support that point of view.

And at the end of the day, so many people are being killed by firearms that I can understand how easy it would be to take an un-nuanced point of view on this issue.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:04 AM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, careful with that talk of militias and being well regulated Fuka. While certain members, IIRC, of the Supreme Court have decided that the front half framing the intent of the amendment is mere 'preamble', its important to talk about the front half in the context of the day.

Militia would be used to refer to both a fighting force and the entirety of the civilian population that could fight. Regulated didn't mean subject to a body of rules but rather that something was tuned, in working order, capable of use, and so on. Which then leaves:

A combat ready and able civilian population being necessary for the defense of the nation, the right of the(se) people to keep and bear weapons will not be restricted.

So we all have the right to weapons.... if we are able and ready... to fight for the nation... wait a minute that's more restrictive a measure than anything on the books in the nation. No, no, take it back, we have to go back!

ItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreambleHueHueHueHueItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreamble
posted by Slackermagee at 9:05 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


ItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreambleHueHueHueHueItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreambleItsJustAPreamble

It's a preamble that I think needs to be practiced. Knowing how to use and operate a firearm should be known to everyone -- either learned in school or, as in some countries, because of required military service.

The mystique of the gun lies mostly in that it is almost a magical thing to those who have never held or even seen one, let alone operate it. It's why many gun control laws have good intent but terrible execution (aside from those seemingly passed as a revenue scheme, like the "safe handgun" roster in California).
posted by linux at 9:15 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you are willing to use a handgun to enforce your personal safety, that means that you are willing to kill someone (or fake being willing, which is another issue) over any threat to your person, even if it isn't a psychologically or physically mortal threat.

So your position is that anyone that owns a handgun is willing to kill over non-lethal threats.

Heck of a crystal ball you must have.

So far, we've seen the following arguments against gun rights:

- Gun owners are racists; and
- Gun owners are all secretly murderers just waiting for an opportunity.

Absurd, over-the-top rhetoric like that is part of why so many of us that don't really care much either way are loathe to agree w/ gun prohibitionists.
posted by jpe at 9:16 AM on September 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


Linkage between the postulated "if" and "then" statements require a real leap of faith.

read further, i touch on that i understand it as a deterrent, but i reject that on these grounds:

If you are using a gun as an active bluff, you can bluff with anything - the gun actually complicates the discussion most of the time.

If you are counting on the possible presence of a gun on a person as a deterrent, then an empty bag is just as powerful as a full one, so long as it appears full.

If you pull a gun and aren't willing to use it, you are unsafe to yourself and the person to which you are pointing the gun.

If you are willing to shoot someone, you are willing to kill someone. This is a non-starter. If you feel that in any situation you are able to simply wound someone, you're either delusional (and should not under any circumstances have a firearm) or incompetent. I might be going out on a political limb here but i'll advocate for keeping guns away from the incompetent.

Therefore the default position is - if you possess a gun as an active or passive deterrent, you are either unsafe, incompetent or willing to murder.

So it isn't a leap at all.
posted by Fuka at 9:27 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you are willing to shoot someone, you are willing to kill someone. [...] if you possess a gun as an active or passive deterrent, you are either unsafe, incompetent or willing to murder

You've staked out a position that conflates killing in self-defense (however unlikely) with murder — in fact a position in which there is no killing that isn't also murder. Which seems specious.
posted by penduluum at 9:39 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


now that i've got that out of the way, what other constitutional rights need to be reconciled with public safety?

All the ones that make it easy to kill a classroom full of children in a very short period of time. (ETA: 7 articles, 27 amendments. I only see one.)
posted by dances with hamsters at 9:40 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


We need 100 million handguns to protect ourselves against poisonous snakes.
posted by Flunkie at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


A lot of work went into that story and its production--Kudo's to News21 and the work, thoroughness, professionalism and data put together by the journalism students. As far as I am concerned this is a book mark for subsequent discussions on gun control.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:42 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


You've staked out a position that conflates killing in self-defense (however unlikely) with murder — in fact a position in which there is no killing that isn't also murder. Which seems specious.

I don't believe in sugar-coating this part. The whole degrees of murder thing is ridiculous. Killing people intentionally for whatever reason is murder. You can opt to not murder people most of the time they're threatening your life.
posted by Fuka at 9:44 AM on September 11, 2014


Longtime Listener: "Your point seems to be that if a person supports the right to own firearms, specifically handguns, that's conclusive evidence that the person hates black people. "

That's not... that's not even wrong. Think co-option instead.
posted by boo_radley at 9:50 AM on September 11, 2014


I own guns, including some that have no use other than self defense, and yet don't fantasize about shooting black people.

self-defense? Who are you afraid of?

I can't look into the heart of every gun owner but here's my thesis: if you vote Republican based upon 'gun' rights you are afraid of something: black people, Mexicans, Communists, or snakes.

Let me repeat myself: the Republican party doesn't care about everyone's right to shoot snakes with a Glock. It wants to make a political appeal to those gun-owners who are afraid of snakes, without talking about snakes or how much the Democrats love the snakes. You can think of it as a form of viral marketing.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:51 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


son, you don't know me, you've never met me, you couldn't pick me out of a police lineup

Remember this the next time you insist that someone should trust you with a gun, because that comes up in every single one of these conversations: "I'm trained/certified/etc, it's those other guys you gotta worry about." All they know is that you have a gun and (in a shrinking number of states) a piece of plastic that says that somebody thought it was OK for you to have it. They don't know how skilled or careful and responsible you are. They don't know who judged you on that skill and responsibility, and if that person or organization was qualified to make that judgement or just a lobbying firm. They don't know if you have a mental illness and managed to slip through the health care system. They don't know if you have PTSD or a similar mental health issue that can be triggered by something they say or do, or a noise that they find innocuous, that makes you think you are in a situation that requires defensive violence. They don't know if you think it's OK to arm yourself and chase someone down as a criminal because they look like one to you, because you can't tell the difference between a bag of Skittles and a deadly weapon. They don't know if you have the gun to use on someone just for the skin or clothes they wear. They don't know if the music they play and the attitude they cop makes them a threat to you. They don't know if the god(s) they worship--or don't worship at all--or the clinic they work at make you feel like they're worthy of being shot. They don't know if that gun is meant as an implicit threat for domestic violence or hate crime purposes. They don't know if you think politics is reason enough to shoot someone. They don't even know if you own that gun, that it's legal, that you don't intend to commit a crime. Even if it's all above the board, they don't know how well you maintain it, or what precautions you take with it. They don't know if you're flashing your weapon because of your beliefs, to threaten or intimidate, or because it makes you feel like "more of a man/woman."

Remember that this street goes both ways, son.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:52 AM on September 11, 2014 [18 favorites]


ennui.bz--I think it is all to easy (particularly on Metafilter) to turn most issues of social policy into singular discussions of race(ism). I have no idea what the NRA's strategies were in the seventies and capitalizing on fear of blacks may well be one of them but certainly not the only one. It was a decade following a huge change in politics, women's rights, Vietnam, TV as a legitimate mechanism for influencing opinion, a culture increasingly focused on the power/role of youth, changing family structure, etc. It was unsettling for conservatives in many ways--and remains so. To pick a single issue raises doubts in my mind. But it is a provocative and interesting point
posted by rmhsinc at 9:56 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Killing people intentionally for whatever reason is murder. You can opt to not murder people most of the time they're threatening your life.

For one thing, murder is by definition unlawful. So your points of discussion on whether or not handguns should be legally protected is begging the question. "Should the law protect our tools for doing illegal things? I say no."

For another thing, whether or not it is true that most of the time you can opt not to kill someone threatening your life — and I largely agree that it is — that was the first time you allowed that sometimes you cannot. You're right, as you said above, that arming yourself in hopes of merely wounding someone threatening your life is delusional and unrealistic. So I think it's specious and unfair to characterize those rare circumstances in which defense of your own life requires doing mortal violence to someone else as "murder", and unnecessarily inflames the conversation.

But agree to disagree.
posted by penduluum at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't believe in sugar-coating this part. The whole degrees of murder thing is ridiculous. Killing people intentionally for whatever reason is murder. You can opt to not murder people most of the time they're threatening your life.

Fair enough, but this puts you at substantial odds with how our criminal justice system contemplates the treatment of people who intentionally kill other people. So it's understandable that people would take issue with you if you take this point of view.

Let me repeat myself: the Republican party doesn't care about everyone's right to shoot snakes with a Glock. It wants to make a political appeal to those gun-owners who are afraid of snakes, without talking about snakes or how much the Democrats love the snakes. You can think of it as a form of viral marketing.

I can agree with this from the point of view of the political marketing to its potential voters; it looks to me from where a lot of the tension lies in this thread is from what looked to me to be an implication that this marketing held such appeal because all gun rights voters were racists.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:05 AM on September 11, 2014


Yes, all of the gun discussion of today was framed by extremely obvious racists, but how dare you bring it up.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:07 AM on September 11, 2014


Alternately, it could be that interpreting everything in terms of race, fear, and preconceived biases is something that is happening in your mind, and so you are assuming that is what must be happening in others' minds as well.

sorry but this is explicitly layed out as republican strategy
posted by p3on at 10:07 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Therefore the default position is - if you possess a gun as an active or passive deterrent, you are either unsafe, incompetent or willing to murder.

Personally I'm unwilling to say anything so inane in public, but I certainly support your right to do so.

self-defense? Who are you afraid of?

Me? Nothing, really. My guns are unloaded and locked in a safe in the basement. I have them because they are fun to shoot; my point was that a couple of the guns I own have zero practical use other than home defense or robbing a bank and yet I have managed to resist the racist fantasies posited above.

A lot of work went into that story and its production--Kudo's to News21 and the work, thoroughness, professionalism and data put together by the journalism students.

I agree. I've only read the first part of the overview so far, but am looking forward to working my way through it all.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:09 AM on September 11, 2014


I'm just sad that snakes of American birth are not allowed any arms at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:55 AM on September 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


i've never insisted that anyone trust me with a gun, and i don't really care what their worries about me are, because i have a second amendment and a supreme court opinion backing it up

Isn't this reasonable for people to worry about, though?

I mean I believe I can be trusted to own a gun, but since I believe there are people out there who can't be, shouldn't I be alarmed when one of the points they bring to a discussion on the issue is "I don't care if people trust me or worry about me because the 2nd Amendment says I can have a gun--with very few exceptions--no matter how trustworthy I am?"
posted by MoonOrb at 11:05 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


"isn't this reasonable for people to worry about, though?"

that really isn't the point, though. the issue is metaworry, how worried am i about their worries, and the answer has to be zero, otherwise i wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning and concentrate on the simplest things i have to do. seriously, do you worry about whether i trust you?
posted by bruce at 11:11 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

Well here in Detroit (actually, I live about 15 minutes outside Detroit), they aren't imaginary, there's a little over 12,000 every year (that means a 1 in 20 chance of your Detroit home being burglarized every year), and 75-80% of the perps are black, as are most of their victims. Detroiters are lucky if the police respond within 60 minutes, if they respond at all, and most crimes go unsolved. Furthermore, the single best predictor of victimization is... prior victimization, which generally occurs withing a week of the initial incident. If you're a Detroit homeowner, do the math: no one is coming to help, and if they hit you once they're hitting you again. Unless...

Here's the Detroit chief of police (who is black) telling Detroiters (also mostly black) to arm themselves since his force isn't able to protect them. We've had a string of self-defense shootings by homeowners in Detroit; in this video they don't show the homeowner, but his black, female neighbor shows obvious approval, but maybe she's a self-hating racist?

Last year, 1 in 10 killings was justified. That's about 10% of the overall homicide rate. And as that number has gone up, overall crime has gone down. And I can't be sure, but if it tracks Detroit's demographics, you're looking about 80% of those justified killings being committed by black people defending themselves. And of course this doesn't capture the woundings and warning shots that scare off burglars and carjackers. The burglary rate, BTW, dropped 20% from 2012 to 2013. I guess criminals are more reluctant to bust into somebody's house when there's a good chance it'll result in their being shot.

Criminals don't usually enter homes that have people in them

Yeah they do it all the time here, that's why they keep getting shot. Here's a lady who warned an intruder multiple times that she'd shoot if he didn't go away, he came in anyways so she shot him. This story says he died, but another similar article says he was only hit in the arm, either way, his burgling career is over. I wonder what he'd have done to her if she just politely let him in? Glad she (and we) never had to find out.

I could be wrong, and I don't even own a gun, but I feel like people shouldn't have to rely on the moral judgment and good graces of a person or group of people who just violated their personal space and invaded what is supposed to be sacred ground, i.e. their home.

You can opt to not murder people most of the time they're threatening your life.

Setting aside whether this is true (seems doubtful though), why should I? Somebody gives me the choice between my life and theirs, and I'm choosing mine, ever time, sans anxiety or guilt, just like any human with a healthy sense of self-preservation. Further, why put the responsibility for judgment, restraint and harm avoidance (and hence moral blame) on the victims - who may have only seconds to think and act - and not the intruder, who has had days or weeks to carefully consider the consequences of his actions? Doesn't make sense to me.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

Going purely by statistics, I'm guessing....

The whole degrees of murder thing is ridiculous. Killing people intentionally for whatever reason is murder.

Do all people killers deserve the same punishment? If not, then not ridiculous. If yes, then I'm glad you have no control over law making.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:39 PM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

White. He, or they, are white. Because break-in's in this area are mostly done by meth addicts, who are mostly white already, and this entire state is pretty well lilly-white. Oh, and it's in the daytime, too, because pretty much no one does "hot burglary" in the United States anymore, mostly because of handguns. So they do it during the day.

I work from home, so I'm here during the day, when a potential burglar might show up.

That'll be a seriously shitty day if it ever happens, but don't go telling me my guns are because I hate black people. They're because I live in the damn wilderness where my problems are rabid wildlife and meth-addicts.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:35 PM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Killing people intentionally for whatever reason is murder. You can opt to not murder people most of the time they're threatening your life.

If someone tries to rape me, and I kill them, that is not murder.
posted by corb at 2:37 PM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


But you know what? The above comment is true, but does a disservice to Zarq's really well put together post. There's a lot of interesting stuff there. I'm really enjoying the bits about women and guns:
As Lightfoot put it, owning a gun as a self-protection tool mirrors this shift of women from “being the protected to being the protector.”

“Women are taking on that role — they have to,” she said, “And they’re taking it on pretty fiercely.”
It also introduced me to a lot of lady's gun organizations I am definitely going to get involved with. Thanks!
posted by corb at 2:47 PM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Has anyone read the article yet?
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:41 PM on September 11, 2014


Detroiters are lucky if the police respond within 60 minutes, if they respond at all, and most crimes go unsolved. [...] The burglary rate, BTW, dropped 20% from 2012 to 2013. I guess criminals are more reluctant to bust into somebody's house when there's a good chance it'll result in their being shot.

Or burglaries aren't reported, because the police won't come; or the police are manipulating the statistics downwards; or some or all of the figures are just pulled out if someone's fundamentals.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:41 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah they do it all the time here, that's why they keep getting shot.

I'm not saying that they never enter a home when people are home, I'm saying it's not the norm. At least, not according to the cop who took the report when our house was robbed. According to this 28% of burglaries happen when someone is home.

And you can bet that in at least some of those cases the resident being armed wouldn't have helped (if they couldn't have gotten to the gun in time or the criminal was also armed and a better shot, for example). So the fact remains that if you own a gun to protect yourself in the case of a home invasion, odds are good that if you are ever robbed, you won't even be home to use it and if your gun isn't properly secured it will get stolen (and hopefully just end up in a pawn shop).
posted by VTX at 4:39 PM on September 11, 2014


It's important not to get carried away on the gun issue in America. It loses elections. It raises money for conservatives like no other cause. Dozens of members of congress lost their seats in one election after supporting a temporary ban on assault rifles. The nation slid backwards as a result. People die from sugar, cars, sunburn, drugs, abortions, childbirth, etc. Those are far easier to selectively ban than guns. I would encourage people to forget about a gun ban and instead pursue a no-fault insurance program. We let insurance companies find the crazies and charge them more, which shouldn't be difficult if they have a mental health history. The victims deserve the money.
posted by Brian B. at 5:04 PM on September 11, 2014


I am mostly commenting to get this thread into my recent activity, but I really appreciate zarq making this post, and the people who have commented on the project rather than simply using it as a container for gun debates. (Which are also interesting to me, just less so because there's not much new ground covered in those conversations.)
posted by Superplin at 5:32 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


rmhsinc: I think it is all to easy (particularly on Metafilter) to turn most issues of social policy into singular discussions of race(ism).

I also think there's a large coalition of people who make this sort of statement in bad faith. Basically saying that even though in a large portion of cases it's openly demonstrable that race is part of the issue, that bring that up is somehow a derail and "making it all about race". This is the sort of, lets head it off at the pass, race is off the table sort of thing that's total garbage.

I don't really think you can have a legitimate discussion about this issue in general, in pretty much any way that isn't intentionally walling it off in to a specific little corner for not-good reasons, which doesn't include race. Race has been at the heart of gun control since the 70s, that was a legitimate point brought up earlier and not some sort of race-baity shitposting.
posted by emptythought at 5:40 PM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Quick question: what is the skin color of that imaginary intruder?

My imaginary intruders have always been white methheads, which I'm pretty sure corresponds to statistical likelihood in most of the places I've lived.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:40 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Emptythought, I sympathise with what you're saying, but race is a significant factor in so many things in the USA that basically every US-related discussion could end up being about it: insurance, jobs, housing, policing, medical care, you name it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


ennui.bz and Fuka are my heroes of the day. Good job to you both.
posted by hwestiii at 9:23 PM on September 11, 2014


So racists and murderers huh? The whole lot of us? Well at least we know who to ignore when trying to engage in a reasoned and serious debate about these issues. Also, this was a great fpp zarq. It's really a shame so many people didn't rtfa, and instead used this venue as another opportunity to shamelessly smear responsible gun owners with vitriolic bile not worthy of the blue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:22 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re: snakes. In Australia, where we've got most of the world's deadliest snakes, if you can't or won't kill it with a shovel or other farm/garden tool, it's expected that you call a snake removal service, or at least the local ranger or wildlife authority. Snake removalists use a prod and a bag on a looong pole.
posted by harriet vane at 5:23 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


A member of my extended family, an otherwise very nice middle-aged woman living in a suburb depressed by and not recovering well from the housing crash and subsequent recession, in a house she and her husband haven't been able to sell, is currently flirting with gun ownership out of fear. There have been break-ins in nearby houses, generally vacant, to steal copper pipes and such, so now she feels trapped, with a tide of crime rising around her. Last year she got a big, scary dog with dangerous behavioral problems, but she's still anxious so now it seems to be time to start looking at guns. She knows nothing about guns, is scared of them, in fact, but the anxiety she feels is just intolerable and she just has to do something. Regardless of whether there's a racial component to her fears (I don't know her well enough to say), that kind of gun ownership scares the bejesus out of me because I can easily imagine her shooting someone who doesn't need shooting.

I also know a guy, a fantastic guy really, calm and level-headed, who used to own a fully automatic assault weapon of some sort. In the course of telling me how f@#ked up the end of his first marriage had gotten, he confessed that he'd once sprayed a hail of bullets into the ground at his wife's feet at the crescendo of a prolonged confrontation. Apparently she just stood there defiantly.

But, most of the gun owners I've personally known have been either hunters or recreational shooters, or had a sort of nerdy collector's studious interest in historical weapons. For these guys, guns are integral to various pastimes. I don't have any problem with those uses, and none of them are incompatible with regulation of gun ownership. I think these gun owners I know would accept a fair bit of red tape surrounding their gun ownership -- background checks, required training, licensing, etc. if they felt confident that that's as far as it would go. But they're not at all confident that such regulation would stop there. They don't seem to fear black people or robbers or snakes, so much as they fear urban hipsters and yuppies who would like to totally eliminate guns, and thereby take away their gunpowder-consuming toys and tools and melt them down to be shipped to China and be made into boring and useless things. In that light, it seems to me that the black-and-white, guns-are-unnecessary-and-bad rhetoric plays right into the NRA's hands.
posted by jon1270 at 5:30 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, this was a great fpp zarq. It's really a shame so many people didn't rtfa...

Thanks. I'm glad some folks got something out of it.

I normally break down huge projects with lots of articles like this after the [more inside] and link to every individual article, listed by section. Deliberately didn't this time, because I thought it would better for folks to see the gestalt and immerse themselves without interference. All five of News21's annual projects have been almost dizzying in scope. They've all had a ton of information to browse through. This one's no exception. Their team did extensive research and produced an exemplary, professional-level work that you simply don't see everyday from the average media outlet. In an age where news reporting has devolved into infotainment, and the best editorial commentary is produced by comedians on Comedy Central, I think we should be very proud to see students surpassing those low standards.

I tried to stay out of this thread after my initial foray about snakes, because I didn't want to inadvertently steer the conversation. But... if you read this far in the thread but skipped the link, I urge you to click through and draw your own conclusions. It's easy to stereotype gun owners. Easier still to vilify them all based on politics and awful tragedies. If you're American though, this is inescapable: guns are a part of our lives whether we as individuals own them or not. They're owned by our neighbors. They're at the heart of an ongoing, controversial national debate. And yes, this project focuses on both sides. The death toll's right up there prominently on the first page. So is a link to a report on domestic gun violence. ("More people are killed with guns by an intimate partner than by criminals they did not know." Did you know that? I didn't.) The politics. The reasons people feel they're invaluable or horribly dangerous. For me, this project was an opportunity to educate myself... and perhaps put a face on gun owners that aren't hunting for "sport" or are playing soldier.

Anyway, thanks for an interesting discussion. :)
posted by zarq at 11:27 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well here in Detroit... they aren't imaginary... Detroiters are lucky if the police respond within 60 minutes, if they respond at all,

If the response is to increase the amount of guns in public use, that is not going to decrease crime.

If someone tries to rape me, and I kill them, that is not murder.

The issue isn't whether you can be judged to have a legitimate moral right to kill in certain situations. The issue is whether you recognize what you're undertaking. Carrying a gun means you are agreeing to the responsibility of being the killer. If someone is attempting rape and you pull out a gun, you have to be willing to pull a trigger, watch their brains splatter over you and crawl out from under a corpse. And if you even hesitate, and they're strong enough to have subdued you, they could just turn that gun around on you. BUt if you do pull the trigger, you've basically just traded one PTSD for another. Unless you're sociopathic, killing is going to hurt you.
posted by mdn at 4:54 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


PTSD is much less about killing than the helplessness of combat and other situations, and even non-sociopathic individuals don't get it every time and in every situation. And in the clear cut case of immediately killing a rapist? I'd say very unlikely.
posted by corb at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Today's New York Times (I believe that is the reputable one) had a pretty thoughtful article that actually gives me hope about having an honest discussion about guns, gun laws and getting the current ones changed/repealed and some useful stuff actually passed that wouldn't actively harm the law abiding gun owners.

I was thinking about posting it as it's own FPP but this seems like a good place without getting too many gun posts on the front page.
posted by bartonlong at 7:29 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


And in the clear cut case of immediately killing a rapist? I'd say very unlikely

You're right, I shouldn't have used a diagnostic term. Not everyone who is raped is diagnosable either. The point is, it's a traumatic experience. Anyone who kills another human being, even when it is justified, deals with some after effects. Just seeing a dead body the first time is usually difficult. Violently causing death is rough stuff, especially if you aren't trained for it.

I'm not saying that means no one should ever do it. I'm just saying we shouldn't a) expect it of our citizens or b) put ourselves in the position to do it without being ready.
posted by mdn at 8:28 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's a really great post by the NYT - and I rarely if ever say that about gun articles by the NYT.
posted by corb at 12:10 PM on September 15, 2014


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