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The Fallacy of Gun Control Laws

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Like clockwork it has happened. Anytime there is a shooting there is a call for stricter gun control laws. Whether in reaction to the recent shootings in Tulsa, the school shootings in Ohio and California, or the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, more laws on gun use and ownership are seen as the answer for preventing similar incidents from repeating. It’s as though all we need to keep people from killing one another are laws that restrict access to guns or increase punishment for violent crimes. The laws are not the problem, the people who commit the crimes are.

Most people would refrain from shooting someone whether there was a law in place or not. It is the rare individual who would say, “The only thing keeping me from opening fire on a classroom of innocent people is the law.” No, most of us don’t murder because we know murder is wrong; not because the law tells us it is, but because our moral compass does.

By combining data from the Census Bureau and the FBI we see that in states with the death penalty for murder the murder rate in 2010 was 25 percent higher than in non-death penalty states. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, California, where a man just shot ten innocent people in a college classroom, ranks among the states with the strictest gun laws. Likewise, New York and New Jersey have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation yet have a higher murder rate than Ohio and Virginia where gun laws are among the weakest. The states with the lowest murder rates are Vermont and New Hampshire. These two states rank among those with the weakest gun laws.

Of course these statistics don’t prove that laws are worthless. But what they do show is the limited capability of laws to determine outcomes in individual cases or to shape behavior in general. Laws are not to blame, the individuals who commit the crimes are. What we need to understand is what leads these people to commit such horrific acts of violence.

What we know of the shooters in Tucson, Chardon, and Virginia Tech is that the shooters felt isolated and estranged from the rest of society. They felt alone and desperate. It would not be a surprise if the shooters in Oakland and Tulsa had the same disposition. No law would have made these people feel connected, empowered, or improved their view of humanity.

Others who commit heinous crimes may have some other form of depravity that drives them to do what normal people would not. It is impossible to know all that motivates people but it is easy to understand that laws are not the only answer. Laws are insufficient correctives for the depraved soul or mind. Rather, laws punish misdeeds, remind us what society expects from us, and in some instances provide a deterrent for those less determined to harm others.

Laws are not useless, but to think of them as the only answer or the best answer is wrongheaded. To think that more laws and stricter laws are the right answer is a misguided assumption. A new emphasis should be placed on cultivating character, not crafting laws. Such an endeavor does not follow a clear course of action nor does it satisfy our needs for clarity and immediacy, but it does provide a more productive path forward.

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About Kyle Scott

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kyle –

    What we need to understand….

    You lost your entire conservative readership once you included the “U-word”. They’re not concerned with ‘understanding’ – it smacks too deeply of liberalism….

  • Nanjing03

    It doesn’t seem to matter that as the old worthless and even dangerous gun control laws of the past were dismantled and replaced with the very successful concealed carry reforms of the present, we have witnessed over 20 years of fewer and declining violent crime and fewer and declining gun accidents — according to the Department of Justice’s own National Institute of Justice /Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

  • Clavos

    Given Kyle’s basic premise (and conclusion), Glenn, I doubt he’ll lose a single conservative reader.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Okay, you got me. If you want to castigate me for not reading it out all the way and thus not grokking the thrust of the article, I’m guilty as charged. Furthermore, you should be careful about correlating the loosening of gun laws as a causation of the declining violent crime rate, because according to Freakonomics (a really enlightening read), the decline in the violent crime rate almost precisely state-by-state follows the 16-17 (and following) year anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade…whereas a state-by-state comparison shows that the more permissive the gun laws, the greater the level of gun violence.

    Kyle –

    Whatever the psychological mindset of those who commit such crimes, the state-by-state statistics clearly show that the greater the availability of guns, the greater the level of gun violence…and the greater the murder rate. What’s more, the ‘stand your ground’ law might make for good rhetoric for conservatives, but it’s leading to very real tragedy. What the more permissive gun laws do is to enable those who have mental or emotional problems to commit horrific crimes, as is evinced by almost any mass murder you care to examine.

  • Clavos

    Glenn,

    Check this FBI data for 2009-2010. It shows interesting trends, some of which Kyle mentioned.

    Essentially, states with concealed carry (CC) and laws like Florida’s Stand Your Ground law are showing significant down trends in murder rates, while states like Massachusetts and New York and almost the entire Northeast (Most with stiff gun laws) are sharply up.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Yes, according to your reference, the Northeast rate of murder SKYROCKETED to 4.2 murders per 100,000 people, whereas murder rate in the South (which has the most states with the stand-your-ground law) PLUMMETED to 5.6 murders per 100,000 people!

    Never mind that the oh-so-dangerous-to-walk-down=the-street Northeast is 25% less murderous than the South.

    Aggravated Assault:
    Northeast: 209.1 per 100,000
    South: 296.1 per 100,000
    Northeast is 22.3% safer

    Forcible Rape:
    Northeast: 19.4 per 100,000
    South: 27.9 per 100,000
    Northeast is 30.5% safer

    And the really funny thing is, robbery’s more prevalent in the Northeast – 124.4 per 100,000 as compared to the South’s 122.4 per 100,000…which is a difference of about 1.61 percent. Big Whoop. I guess the Yankees (unlike the Southerners) don’t want to kill you – they just want your money. One wonders what the rate would have been if they’d included what Wall Street’s been doing….

    Furthermore, there were many states that did NOT have ‘stand-your-ground’ laws where the crime rate dropped quite a bit, too – like California (which has a lower murder rate than Florida), where the murder rate dropped NINE percent in the same time frame…whereas stand-your-ground state Utah’s murder rate jumped THIRTY-SIX POINT NINE percent. Oh, and New Mexico (a NON-STG state) saw it’s murder rate drop THIRTY percent.

    Clavos, what you did is to take ONE year’s worth of statistics…but ‘stand your ground’ laws are not a new thing. You should have looked at long-term results to bolster your claim (instead of using just one year’s worth of data), and thus allowed yourself to fall into the ‘correlation/causation’ fallacy (which you taught me about, remember) – but the example of California and Utah shows the danger of putting so much stock in pro-gun rhetoric.

    Your turn – and I’m looking forward to it.

  • http://cinemasentries.com El Bicho

    Is one year really a trend? Might need to rethink your global-warming position

  • Glenn Contrarian

    At least Mayor Bloomberg has the guts to stand up to his fellow Republicans:

    “It’s now clear: the NRA’s ‘shoot first’ laws that have passed in 25 states have undermined the integrity of the justice system, and done serious harm to public safety….

    “They have sown confusion in police departments about when to make arrests, made it more difficult for prosecutors to bring charges in cases of deadly violence and, most importantly, they have been responsible for a major increase in so-called ‘justifiable homicides.’ These laws have not made our country safer; they have made us less safe and it’s why we’re launching a nationwide campaign to reform or repeal shoot first laws.

    “The NRA’s leaders weren’t interested in public safety. They were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands with a gun and face no consequences for it.

    “I’m tired of going to funerals. Police officers’ lives are today a lot less safe than they used to be. Your lives and the lives of your children are a lot less safe than they used to be. At some point here we have to stand up as a civilized society and say we’re not going to take this anymore,”

    Clavos, an armed society is NOT a ‘polite society’ – a walk down the streets of any inner city should tell you that! If you want really small government and few if any gun control laws, move to Somalia. But if you want to live in a reasonably safe society in the modern world, then that society must have sensible gun control laws.

  • Cannonshop

    #8 Look at where Bloomberg lives, Glenn-the hive of New York, It doesn’t take COURAGE to do what he did there-it simply takes awareness of one’s political environment.

    All politics is, in the end Local, Glenn, and the Local scene trumps any claims to ideology.

    (also, Republican does NOT equal Conservative, there are plenty of nanny-state statists in the GOP’s ranks-they’re just not as prevalent as they are in the Democratic Party’s ranks.)

    Back to the ARTICLE now… the dissonance you’re feeling, Glenn, comes from not understanding that there is a difference between what is Legal, and what is Moral or “Right”. People without a strong grasp of right-vs.-wrong often confuse what’s legally restricted, from what is Morally wrong. Those raised with criminal tendencies will tend to be criminals REGARDLESS of the Law, legal penalties, etc.

    It’s about individual choice and how people develop that matters, not about how many new restrictions you can get your congresscritter to add to restrain those already prone to non-criminality.

    For a recent example of this, that kid in Florida, Trayvon Martin was his name?? Killed by a man whose only moral restriction was “What is legal” rather than what is “Right or wrong”-aka Moral, and the killing happened in part because Zimmerman didn’t understand the Legal he was relying on.

    Criminality results from either a lack of ability to understand the consequences, or the inability to give a shit about the consequences, both tend to be factors that start early, both are elements of extreme self-centredness and, well…Unreasonably high self-esteem (which is very different indeed from Self Respect, which must be earned.)

    In short, Glenn…

    Kyle’s not losing conservatives with his article, if anything, I’m rather surprised how many of BC’s “Liberals” (Capital “L”, reflecting the corruption of the term’s meaning) haven’t chimed in to try and gut, burn, and destroy both article and author.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    The fact remains that while the NRA’s favorite adage “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is true, guns make it a whole heck of a lot easier…and the stats show it quite plainly. The easier it is to have guns, and the lower the level of legal restrictions on those guns, generally speaking, the greater the level of gun violence…and I’m pretty sure the numbers bear that out.

    And the reason I think most liberals here haven’t ‘chimed in’ on Kyle’s article is that (1) Kyle’s first article was quite impressive from this liberal’s standpoint, and (2) we’re too busy responding to Warren’s perpetual lunacy.

  • Steve Shech

    So what you’re saying Glen is, we should get strict on gun laws. I agree lets make gun illegal, like we made extacy and marijuana and other drugs illegal. Now they are illegal so no one has access to them …. oh wait! That’s right criminals still get them into the US. So what are people to do when honest citizens cant defend themselves from criminals because the US banned guns. Great job there buddy. Not only are you happy to infringe on the Constitution, but you’re okay with criminals being the only armed people.

  • Nanjing03

    When and where does strict gun control work? Washington DC??!! Chicago??!! According to the U.S. Department of Justice studies through their own National Institute of Justice /Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the FBI Uniform Crime Report, “every year for the last two decades,” there are fewer and declining violent crimes and fewer and declining gun accidents where law abiding citizens are allowed to keep and bear arms at home and in public. So yes, there is a clear relationship of a safer society where there is a right to keep and bear arms. Adding to that is the fact that armed and licensed citizens are the safest and most law abiding segment of society and they have a safer record and more sound use-of-force practice than even American law enforcement. Essentially, according to NIJ/BJS and the FBI, more guns = less crime.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Steve and Nanjing –

    I have never advocated a complete ban of guns. I’ve often said that the day the outlaw guns, I’ll be the first in line to buy one. I DO advocate 100% registration of guns just like in Switzerland and Israel. 100% registration of guns (and required safety training) leads to MUCH more responsible ownership of guns…and cuts WAY down on gun smuggling – which is what’s enabling the drug wars on our southern border.

    And if you’ll check the numbers, while gun violence is certainly worse in the inner cities, the states that have higher overall rates of urbanization – the less rural states, if you will – have significantly lower rates of violent crime than the rural areas do. Guns don’t cause the violent crime…but they do enable it.

  • Steve Shech

    Gun may make them easier to commit a crime, but if someone is intent on killing someone they will do it with a gun, knife, or a blunt object in arms reach. Yes I agree its worse in inner cities where there are such strict laws. Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens for instance. You have to be very wealthy, powerful, or famous to own a gun, but that’s where most of the crime happens. In the ghettos. Gun registration will do nothing but have the government being big brother. Safety classes I agree with, but you do get that when you apply for your CCW. I also think that before you can buy a gun you have to have proof some sort of safe for your firearm

  • Steve Shech

    On a side note legalizing marijuana would be a huge blow to the cartels. It would destroy the black market for the product and therefore reduce the violence and risk people take to smuggle them over. It’s just as bad as alcohol… just saying.

  • Nanjing03

    Glenn, I think it has been established that Operation Fast and Furious was a conspiracy that was launched by upper management of the Justice Department and the BATFE against the advice of the rank and file among those agencies. Unlike the failed and long abandoned plan by the Bush administration to “follow and track” pre-assigned guns to their recipients in Mexico, this conspiracy was to simply “funnel as many guns into Mexico and as fast as possible” with neither any means, nor intent of tracking. The unfortunate result was the death of USBP Agent Brian Terry and the contribution to an already violent war taking place in Mexico that has claimed the lives of 10s of thousands of Mexican police, judges, prosecutors, mayors, soldiers, and others.

    Concerning Israel and Switzerland as examples of gun use and ownership? Yes, we should have greater training, familiarization and responsibility toward guns. However, in a society where even Junior ROTC and the Boy Scouts of America are under fire by anti-gun groups, there will have to be a shift in the thinking and acceptance toward guns and the 2nd Amendment by those entities who have already committed themselves to a vicious war against guns. I do not believe that registration — apparently a band-aid and safety approach by the well meaning — and a conspiracy for more “control” by more organized efforts is advisable, nor is it constitutional.

    Finally, when we talk about gun violence, we have to look at gun violence by criminals in the commission of crime. Many statistics include “justifiable” use of deadly force by citizens and police, suicides, and even hunting accidents as gun violence and as a reason to impose more administrative controls. We tried gun control in the past and it does not work. Meanwhile, concealed carry reforms do work in spite of being fought and hampered by organized gun control efforts. Should greater training be part of the program? Should there be standards in training, handling and storage, and use-of-force? Yes to both of those, but registration and a return to restrictions and controls should not be part of any reform.

  • Nanjing03

    Steve,

    Unfortunately, legalizing the drugs coming to our country from Mexico and other parts of the Americas south of our border is not the answer. You and I both know that the legalization of marijuana — which I feel should continue to be “illegal” — won’t close the drug labs or stop the smuggling of other, even more dangerous drugs. The biggest problem is the American consumer of those drugs who does not see himself as the end of a long line of crime, violence, kidnapping, torture, death and misery that spans international borders. Perhaps too, he doesn’t really care. I think that it is safe to say that most Americans will continue to fight — even if it is a fight that will never go beyond that of a precarious holding action. Perhaps it’s time for the end user to the problem to see himself as the determining factor of whether this war will continue.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Nanjing:

    Has it occurred to you that the only reason the Mexican drug gangs exist and operate in the first place is that marijuana and other “hard” drugs are illegal?

    It is the criminalization of drugs that is responsible for creating the biggest crime pandemic – by far – that the world has ever seen.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Nanjing, I completely disagree and, indeed, would go further; I think all drug laws should be repealed.

    The end user is not the problem, it is stupid laws that are the real problem.

  • jamminsue

    Christopher, I agree that repealing drug laws are necessary, but its because of the end user, who, as Nanjing said, don’t see themselves as the end of a long line of death, misery, etc. Thus, as they are blind and won’t change, take away that which makes that blindness painful to the rest of us.

  • jamminsue

    Glenn #6 – awesome, keep at it!

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle scott

    I think the spate of statistics being thrown out by both sides, and including those I include, show that statistical evidence is not the best way to resolve the question. It is our prejudices that determine which statistics we choose to find persuasive or credible.

    I also don’t think this argument supports conservatives (or liberals) as the earlier comments suggested. I discount the death penalty as being a satisfactory deterrent thereby turning off conservatives.
    My thesis: “Laws are necessary but not sufficient,” is not a position taken by either side.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Kyle, personally I found your article very sensible and well-balanced.

    I think most conservatives accept that the death penalty does not deter homicide, but don’t care. It is vengeance, not deterrence, that is the desirable feature.

    There’s an odd disconnect in the position taken by Nanjing, who argues that stricter restrictions on guns don’t prevent crime while failing to apply the same line of reasoning to drugs.

    Laws are indeed necessary, but there’s a drastic dearth of good ones when it comes to either issue.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    jamminsue: that is some kind of convoluted logic! Would you also argue that Apple users are to blame for the poor conditions and deaths in the Chinese factories manufacturing their products and should stop buying them?

    The main reasons for repealing all drug laws are 1) the main effect of such laws is to create and finance large scale criminal activity; 2) it is not the business of the state to regulate what people do with their own bodies 3) drug laws divide a country against itself and foster aggressive government and law enforcement; and 4) the illegality of drugs actually makes them more desirable, as several studies on marijuana consumption in the USA have proven.

    The pragmatic, responsible and caring solution is to repeal all such laws.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    As to the issue of gun control, I used to believe that increased regulation was necessary but have changed my view substantially.

    My position now is that gun ownership should be allowed but that all weapons and ammunition should be both identifiable & trackable and that the registered owners should be held legally responsible for any criminality that occurs.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    My position now is that gun ownership should be allowed but that all weapons and ammunition should be both identifiable & trackable and that the registered owners should be held legally responsible for any criminality that occurs.

    That is almost PRECISELY my position, except that I didn’t include ammunition, but I did include mandatory training. That, and I’d also include mandatory background checks (including at gun shows) and all guns used in a crime should be destroyed instead of being sold at auction to fund the police department.

    Of course our local gun nuts on this site are absolutely opposed to such – after all, complete deregulation of gun ownership has obviously worked out SO well in Africa, while the level of violent crime due to sensible gun regulation has made it SO dangerous to walk down the streets in, say, Stockholm and Oslo and Berlin and Paris and Madrid and Lisbon and Rome and Geneva and Bern and Warsaw and….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    AND that begs the question: exactly why is it that our inner cities are so dangerous, yet the inner cities of Canada, Western Europe, and the rest of the First World nations are NOT so dangerous?

    Any of our local gun nuts want to take a crack at that question?

  • STM

    I reckon Glenn’s right on the money here … no bans but some sensible commonsense controls (no infringement there!). Background checks are a good idea. On psychiatric patients, for instance, or those with criminal records for crimes of violence. Commit a crime of violence, what right do you have to legally carry or own a gun? It’s staggering to think there are nearly 300 million legal firearms in the US, and f..k knows how many illegal ones. There is an obvious nexus between the proliferation of firearms and gun crime in the US … but the big question: how do you attack it without infringing on people’s rights or being accused of targeting those rights??

    Perception is everything. Sadly, on the other side of the coin, commonsense isn’t all that common.

    I suspect this issue will still be leading Americans at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum on a merry dance for the next 200 years.

  • lou1011

    Nothing’s changed here A Black thug assaulted a guy on the streets, who defended himself.One less Black thug in this world..thank you Zimmerman!

  • Igor

    I posted this in the wrong place earlier:

    IMO, the second amendment is clear:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    It was intended to enable arming of a citizen militia, probably in case of attack by Indians. It says “people” not “person”.

    It’s clear that the second amendment was to assure a militia, a semi-organized civilian force, that could be called together for mutual defense.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    For all the BC conservatives, witness comment #29 – this guy is on YOUR side, people!

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle Scott

    #31. (S)he may be a conservative (the probability may be hight but we can’t know for sure because s/he doesn’t identify as such), but that doesn’t mean all conservatives share this view or that the conservative view can be dismissed because some who (may) identify as conservative, or adopt otherwise conservative stances, and reach conclusions that are in no way conservative or supported by conservative premises. It would be unreasonable to dismiss a liberal perspective because of the Weathermen and Bill Ayers, The Earth Liberation Front, or the Animal Liberation Front. Certainly all Christians shouldn’t be lumped in with abortion clinic bomers just as all Muslims shouldn’t be lumped in with Al Qaeda. This is not a defense of conservatism or of #29, but simply a plea for sensible dialogue which your earlier comments demonstrate you are quite capable of. #29 should be ignored; don’t get roped in Glenn C.

  • Cannonshop

    #31 No, Glenn, he’s on his OWN side. (or did you miss the CONSERVATIVES who considered then, and consider now, Zimmerman to be a douchebag who should be either imprisoned?)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Igor is correct that the 2nd amendment was passed to ensure that a citizen militia would be available for national defence, but he overlooks that the 2nd does NOT say anything about disarming citizens should the conditions necessitating a militia no longer apply.

    I have some sympathy with gun control advocates but there is simply no way of getting around that plain truth.

    Meanwhile, the answer to the question Glenn asks in #27 is also simple: American cities are more dangerous because there are so many guns around. European cities also have serious problems with crime but the weapons of choice are usually knives, with which it is a lot harder to wreak widespread mayhem and destruction. West Side Story notwithstanding, you just can’t have highly visible pitched battles on the street with knives the way you can with guns.

    As to what might happen in the US if all restrictions on guns were rolled back, it’s tempting to look at the 19th century, when that was for the most part the case. It was, indeed, a far less violent era (the Wild West was not actually all that wild).

    However, it also didn’t have TV shows, movies and video games perpetrating the glamorization of guns. Your gun was a simple tool, and beyond being aware of its proper use and care you probably didn’t give it much thought.

    The most sensible solution, under the circumstances, is probably Chris’s. Sadly, you’ll never get the most extreme gun enthusiasts to go for it, because it Doesn’t Say It in the Book. It’s unfortunate that the Founding Fathers did not list, among the truths they held to be self-evident, that with rights come responsibilities.

  • Kyle Hunter

    You obviously are not from texas are you Doctor?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Only if Texas is a suburb of London.

  • Kyle Hunter

    I had a girlfriend who lived just outside of London, Ontario before I met my wife.

  • STM

    Igor: It was actually aimed at maintaining a militia to guard against the return of the British (in the event, it was the British who had to guard against the US).

    It was designed so that the militia would have a few hundred thousand muzzle loaders lying around citizens’ homes in case the redcoats decided to march in and, say, decided to burn down Washington.

    How that has evolved into the right to own a .357 magnum, half a dozen assault rifles, a brace of machine guns, a rocket launcher and a 108mm howitzer for personal protection and supposedly – which I don’t buy as being part of the 2nd amendment’s intent – also as a guard against the state is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly madness in a supposedly civilised country.

    It’s turned the US into the giant human shooting gallery of the first world nations. And the failure – or unwillingness – of many anti gun control fabatics to see the nexus between proliferation of legal firearms and the proliferation of illegal ones is laughable.

    No doubt there are people who need protecting (just like their are people who need killin’, your honour) but I suspect the truth is closer to the idea that many gun owners have never stopped being 12-year-olds and just like wrapping their hands around cylindrical things.

  • STM

    Kyle: “London, Ontario”.

    I knew you were a fake Doc.

  • STM

    Of course, the real problem with the 2nd amendment is that it is the world’s best known dangling participle.

    Because of that, no one knows what it REALLY means. And no one ever will as it can’t now be deconstructed. A guess is no longer good enough, either way. People will still be arguing about it in 200 years when the US is a colony of China.

    I blame the American high-school education system and its lack of focus on grammar, which was obvious even back then.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Kyle: “London, Ontario”.

    I knew you were a fake Doc.

    Eh?

  • STM

    “Skipping gaily from flower to flower, the footballer watched the bee.”

    And therein lies the problem; Jefferson tried to get round it by taking out a couple of commas, but it was too late! The damage had been done.

  • STM

    Sorry Doc, missed a comma.

    Regarding London (Ontario) – should have read: “I knew you were a fake, Doc”.

    See, kiddies, how the pen really is mightier than the sword and how a missing comma or an apostrophe placed in the wrong spot or left out altogether can have terrible implications for all mankind?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Since you’re an Aussie, Stan, I’ll forgive you for not getting that last one.

    Perhaps one of our Seppo friends can explain it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kyle Scott –

    It would be unreasonable to dismiss a liberal perspective because of the Weathermen and Bill Ayers, The Earth Liberation Front, or the Animal Liberation Front. Certainly all Christians shouldn’t be lumped in with abortion clinic bomers just as all Muslims shouldn’t be lumped in with Al Qaeda.

    You’re using a false equivalency, Kyle. The Weathermen are long gone, Bill Ayers is a non-issue, the ELF and ALF and PETA are all small and have ZERO influence on the Democratic party.

    Whereas Rush Limbaugh – you know, of “Barack the Magic Negro” fame – has a great deal of influence on the Republican party, as was evinced by John Boehner calling him to discuss the debt ceiling deal before John even briefed his own caucus. There is a great deal of racism still evident in the Republican party – sure, they strive to sound politically-correct, but the code, the dog-whistle quips and cartoons are all too transparent to former racists like myself. Check here and here and here just for starters. Read into Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” for an even better perspective. That racism hasn’t gone away – I was raised in it, and it’s still there every time I go to visit my family Down South.

    So beware of the false equivalencies, Kyle – our molehill doesn’t equal their mountain.

  • STM

    I do realise they say, “Eh?” after everything. (Interestingly, so do New Zealanders, who also have very strong Scottish heritage. Maybe it was a Scottish way of speaking 200, 100 years ago).

    I’m just a bit slow Doc. I’m not that bright in the mornings, y’know, slit and all. Possibly NEVER that bright …

    That video is hilarious. He hasn’t totally nailed the accent but I think that’s because he’s over emphasising every nuance of it – and isn’t actually trying to nail it.

    What a hoot; some of the Candian commentators haven’t worked it out but most seem to have got the joke.

  • Cannonshop

    #34 How do you deglamorize something, Doc? ’cause that’s the root of the problem right there-as long as Guns are treated as fetishes of power, they’re going to continue to be a problem…regardless of whatever laws you apply to them.

    In fact, one could argue that the more stringent the regulation, the less familiar with the truth of these objects the population grows, and thus, the fetishistic ideas will be both more common, and more outlandish.

    Which only makes them MORE attractive to the kind of people least likely to handle them responsibly.

    Hollywood would have a much harder time selling “The Glamor of the gun” if, for instance, teenagers had to clean, care for, and learn to handle responsibly, firearms in the course of daily schooling-because that takes it from a glamorous thing that their heroes wave about like imbeciles o the big screen, and turns it into a chore, one that is onerous, smelly, and unpleasant.

  • Igor

    Dangling participle is a grammatical nuisance, a failure of style, not logic.

    The 2nd amendment syllogism is clear: there is a consequent and an antecedent.

    Complaining about the style is pettifoggery when the syllogism is clear, as it is. And recruiting all the strained and abused analogies in the world doesn’t change that.

  • http://frivolousdisorder.com/ Andy Ratzsch

    “Most people would refrain from shooting someone whether there was a law in place or not… No, most of us don’t murder because we know murder is wrong; not because the law tells us it is, but because our moral compass does.”

    Mr. Scott, respectfully, you are sitting on your food to eat it. Gun laws are never intended to keep guns out of the hands of individuals whose moral compass is intact. It is the morality of those whose moral integrity that has been compromised that worry me. Do you have a reliable predictor?

    Further, using statistic of local gun-control laws is utter nonsense when guns are so readily available in adjacent areas. For compelling statistics, please trot out stats from a national gun-control campaign such as Australia. Your argument doesn’t hold up quite as well in true gun-control environment.

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle Scott

    Andy,

    I stated it in an earlier comment but should have put it in the original post. Thesis: Laws are necessary but not sufficient. I don’t think statistics need to be included at all for that argument. You are absolutely correct about guns moving across borders poses a problem for comparative state analysis. But utter nonsense? I prefer perspective over exaggeration. Using Australia wouldn’t provide definitive proof either.

    Again, as the comments have shown, there are plenty of statistics on both sides of the argument. I am not arguing that there should be or not be laws. My thesis, in a restated form, thinking that laws will keep people from killing one another, with or without guns, is (to borrow a phrase) utter nonsense. We can debate all day long about how much laws matter, as many people more well-informed than either of us already have, and it still will not be resolved satisfactorily.

  • Igor

    #50-Kyle: but obviously you are wrong when you say: “thinking that laws will keep people from killing one another, with or without guns, is (to borrow a phrase) utter nonsense”

    Since it is commonly stated by corporation enthusiasts that their decisions are amoral, that their only criteria is profit. Thus, if a car maker decides that a certain brake part is too expensive, though it may save thousands of lives, then the part will be withheld and people will die, and the executives will go home with clear conscience (and bonus for cost-savings) to enjoy their families.

    But if there were a law that said “safety first” in executive decisions, lives would be saved.

  • Igor

    Since the 2nd amendment posits a “well-regulated militia” one must conclude that the government retains the right to whatever regulation is required for a proper militia.

    In other words, the 2nd specifically gives the government the right to regulate firearms.

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle Scott

    #51–People, which may or may not be corporations depending on your political disposition, do not always follow the law. Laws cannot guarantee obedience. They may help curb certain behaviors among some, but they cannot completely do away with bad behavior by all. Something else, not sure what, is also necessary. Good laws have a positive impact. They do not eliminate the problem.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kyle Scott –

    It’s true that laws in and of themselves eliminate the problem – they never do. But I think you must agree that sensible and enforced laws are an essential part of the solution. The other parts of the solution IMO are education and societal will. That is what Australia showed…and that’s what America needs to show.

  • http://frivolousdisorder.com/ Andy Ratzsch

    #50-Kyle,

    Fair enough. I withdraw the “utter nonsense” hyperbola.

    It doesn’t seem that any of the comments particularly challenge your thesis as you state it: “thinking that laws will keep people from killing one another, with or without guns, is [unrealistic].” I am sure that most of us agree agree that laws against murder generally are not dissuasive so much as common sense for civil order.

    Perhaps it doesn’t go without saying that “What we need to understand is what leads these people to commit such horrific acts of violence.” But us liberals already love that stuff. Aren’t we, after all, always the champion of social investigation and solution-programs? However, I think that you are drawing fire (pardon the unfortunate metaphor) because the tenor of your article does suggests that gun control would do little or nothing to reduce gun violence.

    It may be true that that the opposing opinions could parse pretty much any statistic into meaninglessness. I believe that it was Samuel Clemens who said, “There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics.” In the gun control debate, he may very well be right. So I will agree (for the purposes of this conversation) that hard data is inconclusive. And, if that is the case, isn’t it also premature to dismiss gun controls as part of a possible solution to reducing gun violence?

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle Scott

    #54 and 55–As I wrote in these comments and in the post, laws are necessary. They just don’t do the whole job, they can’t. Fortunately, I think there is some common ground developing between Andy, Glenn and myself.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –

    “There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics.”

    The problem with Clemens’ quip is that all too often it’s used to ignore statistics that should guide us to make rational, sensible decisions.

  • http://frivolousdisorder.com/ Andy Ratzsch

    Glen,

    Ultimately, I agree with you which is why I included the qualifier “for the purposes of this conversation.” Ultimately, any change needs a metric to evaluation its success and that pretty much leaves statistics. Anecdotally, Kyle and I are likely to report the same conditions quite differently.

    Personally, I believe that using a gun control nation such as Australia is a more valid model because, unlike states with gun control laws, a nation has a far less permeable boarder and a more uniform enforcement of gun control laws.

    If I understand Kyles point as restated (and correct me if I am missing it) he is suggesting that efforts should be directed toward a culturally systemic solution – to aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the flame, so-to-speak.

    If this is the case, then I will add that now would be a terrific time for Kyle to give us a more concrete example of what such a program might look like.

    I am willing to accept on faith that there is merit in Kyles thesis. However, until I see something more specific, I am only willing to accept it as part of a broader set of solutions that still includes making the means for gun violence more difficult – e.g. gun control.

    BTW, I like your moniker. I has a nice ring to it.

  • Steve Shech

    Andy gun control will do nothing. Criminals will still be able to get guns if there is a ban, stricter gun control, or they are giving guns away for free. Gun laws only hurt law abiding citizens.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Steve –

    Just like Clavos, you’re throwing your hands up in the air and claiming that because of this or that, we shouldn’t try to improve the situation at all.

    If you’ll read the news, time and time and time again it’s not the hardened criminals who commit the multiple murders – it’s the husband who kills the wife and kids. It’s the bullied teenager who decides to take it out on innocents on campus. It’s the disturbed individual who decides to shoot up a political rally. It’s the kid who decides to do a show-and-tell with his dad’s gun at school.

    We can’t stop the hardened criminals from getting guns, but we CAN stop the gun shops and gun shows from selling to whomever at the drop of a hat. We CAN make gun owners more responsible for keeping sensible control of their lawfully-owned weapons. We CAN do more about keeping guns out of the hands of kids.

    I’m not concerned about what we can’t do anything about – but I am concerned about those things we CAN do something about. That’s what Australia did…and that’s what we should have the courage to do.

  • http://frivolousdisorder.com/ Frivolous D

    Steve,

    Your concerns are inconsistent with the results experienced by nations that have adopted gun control laws.

    Oh, but there are those pesky statistics again. We just can’t seem to get away from them.

    I share Glen Contrarian’s frustration because so far all we have been hearing from the right is what we CAN’T do.

    I have not yet seen a meaningful proposal about what COULD be done.

  • Aaron

    I believe that we as citizens have the right to own guns but who should be able to own those guns should be restricted as well as what guns can be obtained LEGALLY. Ya criminals can get guns other ways but it will be a heck of a lot harder to obtain those guns. The ‘stand your ground’ laws are stupid and reckless. The right to own guns, according to the Supreme Court, is protected by the Constitution but the right to carry a gun in public has not been ruled on and essentially has been seen as not protected.

    A problem with open carry of guns is that it saps the police departments energy to do their job to serve and protect by having citizens call in saying that their are a bunch of men with guns in a public place. Thus sending them on a wild goose chase instead of catching criminals like they are supposed to. Having laws that allow people to “shoot first” put police officer’s lives in danger. It makes their jobs a lot harder.

    Also, the FBI Uniform Crime Report is not 100% accurate either. It is optional for police departments to send in statistics on crimes that have occurred in their county. And because of this not every police department bothers to send this information in. Thus causing flawed data.

    Christopher-

    To assume that repealing laws of any kind will bring an end to criminal organizations is a fallacy. I would like to see these studies that show that people do drugs because it is illegal. And the reason why they make drugs illegal is for public SAFETY. Alcohol is legal and yet you still see drunk drivers killing THOUSANDS of innocent women, men, fathers, mothers, and children each year. How is that ‘pragmatic, responsible and CARING’???!!! You just said ‘Sure, go ahead and do drugs and possibly injure and kill innocent people.’

    I do agree with you on your position on gun control though.

  • Aaron

    I totally agree with Glenn in #60. It is about what we can stop and not about what we can’t.

  • Aaron

    Steve-

    You’re so concentrated on how criminals can still obtain guns even with laws. But where do you think criminals come from. They come from law abiding citizens that one day are not so law abiding anymore and choose to commit a crime. And gun control laws don’t hurt law abiding citizens. Not as long as the basic right to ‘bear arms’ is protected under the Constitution of the United States.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Aaron, no, it isn’t a fallacy that repealing laws gets rid of the gangs exploiting the unreasonable restrictions imposed by such laws, it is a fact.

    I didn’t say that people do drugs because they are illegal, I said there were studies that show that the illegality boosts their consumption.

    Drugs aren’t illegal for reasons of public safety; if that was the case alcohol would be illegal. There are already laws that protect people against the actions of others whilst intoxicated, so your argument is bogus.

  • Aaron

    I said to ‘assume’ that repealing laws would get rid of gangs is a fallacy. I didn’t say that it wouldn’t. Repealing those laws will allow people to grow their own drugs but they have to be grown under certain conditions. So stores will start selling them but at a cost which could be high. This would allow the gangs to come in and sell their product at a lower cost to the customer and the gang because there is no punishment for selling drugs. And allow the gangs to increase their presence in other countries that outlaw drugs. Thus increasing their strength and presence.

    I didn’t mean to imply that everyone that does drugs because it’s illegal. I meant that the vast majority of people that do drugs do it because of the affect it has on them. I also said that I would like to see these statistics that you talk about unless you just assumed there were some.

    And yes it is illegal because of public safety and health. What other reasons could there be?

    The government also tried to outlaw alcohol before. It’s a little thing we refer to as ‘prohibition’. And we all know how that ended. Miserably. The reason why they did this is because alcohol consumption was on the rise and they blamed alcohol for many of society’s problems, such as murder and crime. That seems like they did it for public safety, does it not? They thought that if they got rid of alcohol it would cause crime to go down thus increasing public safety.

    And I fail to see why you mentioned that there are laws that protect people against the actions of others while intoxicated, ‘so that part of your argument is bogus’ as you say.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    This would allow the gangs to come in and sell their product at a lower cost to the customer and the gang because there is no punishment for selling drugs.

    In which case they would no longer be gangs; they would be businesses.

    And yes it is illegal because of public safety and health. What other reasons could there be?

    That’s just the excuse: as someone observed earlier, if public safety and health were the primary concern then alcohol, tobacco and many pharmaceutical products would also be illegal.

    The actual reason that drugs are illegal is that US federal law enforcement agencies needed something to do after the repeal of prohibition (an example of the well-known anthropological phenomenon of self-perpetuation), and from there it snowballed globally.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    In the case of marijuana, it is illegal due to an ugly combination of prissy moralistic bossiness on the one hand and on the other hand big businesses such as the cotton industry and others to which the multitude of products that can be made from hemp were a commercial threat and they cynically saw a good way to eliminate the competition.

    As to other drugs, it is mostly repressive control freaks that disapprove of people having a good time but use the issue of health as a smokescreen for their busybody natures.

  • zingzing

    well… some other drugs are illegal for good reasons (although their legal status causes other problems, as discussed above). some harder drugs are really nasty things that can cause you to do really stupid, dangerous, harmful shit to yourself and others. i’ve had my share of troubles with them, and am quite lucky to have mostly gotten away with it.

    i definitely don’t want to see drugs like coke, heroin or meth legalized. maybe possession should be decriminalized. i know that has consequences on the gang/crime end of things. it’s not “busybody disapproval” that leads me to this conclusion… it’s watching some friends ruin or lose their lives to harder drugs. and maybe it’s a little selfish and maybe it’s a little doubtful about my own discipline concerning the stuff.

    all that said, it seems like portugal is running a very liberal drug policy that is actually working for them. also, treating addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal issue is a far superior way to handle it.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    zingzing, if we made things illegal because some people “ruin or lose their lives” through abusing them, then substances such as glue and petrol would be illegal too. It is simply not viable to continue down this road.

    Addiction IS a health issue and it is far easier and less expensive to deal with substance abuse that way than the current approach, which is doing vast amounts of damage to society in addition to not working.

  • zingzing

    chris, i agree with your second paragraph completely. approaching it as a criminal issue creates far more damage than it solves.

    now the first one… glue and petrol are useful in other ways, and those are the ways most people use them. cocaine and heroin… they have a few uses that aren’t what they’re generally associated with. i don’t know if meth can really be used for anything else. i do hope that portugal’s attempt at legalizing or decriminalizing all drugs works out… and i hope it’s something we can transport to america. but let me get a little further away from my wild days before that happens, for the love of all that is good in my life.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    No, zing, the solitary purpose of meth is to get high, as in “let’s take all of the various ways of getting fucked up that exist and combine them into one thrilling, epic, massive fuckup”.

    It’s analogous to Jackass, in which a bunch of 20/30-something teenagers experiment with various combinations of dangerous (and legal) sports and stunts in an effort to create something even more dangerous (and funny).

  • Zingzing

    Meth is one of the few drugs I haven’t tried, and don’t intend to at this time. Crack is the best drug. Fucking perfect. It lasts for hours and is cheap and the euphoria is constant. Can’t beat it and I have no fucking clue where to find it. Perfection.

  • Zingzing

    And jackass is stupidly funny. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “i don’t know if meth can really be used for anything else.”

    long-distance driving and cleaning house

  • Zingzing

    Putting shredded documents back together for the purposes of identity theft.