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Author Topic: Gun Control, Help or Hindrance?
blacwolve
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My boyfriend told me that right before WWII Hitler visited a Swiss Shooting Contest. That was when he decided that invading Switzerland would be a very bad idea. Does anyone know if that's true?
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Lyrhawn
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blac -

Oh I see what you're saying.

I'm not worried though, for several reasons. One, the second amendment, by itself, doesn't guarantee your right to a gun, it merely stops the federal government from infringing upon that right. Second, and apparently this is disputed, it was meant to refer to militia, or what we would today call the National Guard, which DOES have tanks and fighter jets, etc. Third, the government has placed restrictions upon our freedoms for centuries, your freedom of speech isn't universal, your freedom of religion isn't universal, your "right" to a gun or weapon, isn't universal, and the militias were meant to be regulated by the states, not free floating WMDs in random houses.

I don't think an amendment is necessary.

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blacwolve
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And I completely disagree that it was meant to refer to militia.
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FlyingCow
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Actually, KoM, the article states that there are 600,000 rifles and 500,000 pistols - roughly equal between handguns and shoulder firearms, it seems.

You are right, though, that the Swiss model is misleading - just not in the way you stated. The Swiss society is entirely different from the American one, and has developed in a unique way throughout its history. *This* more than anything else is why crime is low - it's just not part of their culture.

Laws do not keep people from shooting one another. We have laws against carrying weapons in the open and shooting people in the US, and they have laws against carrying weapons in the open and shooting people in Switzerland. Our cultural difficulties prove to be more powerful than the legal deterrant far more often than theirs do.

The prevalence of guns alone does not cause crime. It stands to reason, therefore, that a lack of guns would not cause crime to cease.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by blacwolve:
And I completely disagree that it was meant to refer to militia.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree then. It's right in the same amendment, in the same sentence even, it's more expressly stated in previous drafts of the amendment, it's talked about in the correspondence of the framers at the time, it's expressly written into dozens of state constitutions, and it's been discussed and reaffirmed dozens of times over by Supreme Court Justices. There's still disagreement over the issue, and my mind could be changed if there was a wealth of data presented to me that clearly overruled my view and all the scholarship that backs me up, but this is how I see it, and I'm not alone. (Well, maybe I'm alone on THIS BOARD, but not in historical scholarship and supreme court decisions on the matter). And I don't know what you've read that gave you your current tightly held belief.

As for the Swiss thing, I've never heard that story, though I'm not ruling out that it took place. I highly doubt that's why Switzerland wasn't invaded though. It had few natural resources to be exploited, and would have been extremely costly for the Germans to take. Getting armor and men through the heavily fortified mountains, especially when the Swiss had a couple years really to build bunkers and plan precisely for it, to say nothing of German inexperience with fighting in that terrain or weather, would have meant extreme cost to the German army, which really wasn't necessary at all. They had control of the airspace over Switzerland (after threatening the Swiss into submission), and they could just go around, take over everything nearby, and take out Switzerland with a bombing campaign when the time came.

It wasn't worth the manpower at the time, to say nothing of the fact that the Swiss were incredibly capable and smart fighters.

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blacwolve
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I don't have nearly enough knowledge of the law to argue with you on a legal basis about the second amendment. I'm just a citizen, I've only read the Bill of Rights, are you saying that only people who have spent years studying a subject should have opinions on it?

None of my beliefs about anything legal are tightly held. I've changed my mind about several issues over the years as I've gotten new information, or reassessed my own moral priorities. Heck, in May, if asked, I would probably say I was a moderate leaning libertarian. Now, if asked, I would say I was somewhere between a socialist, a populist, and a democrat. That's a pretty big shift right there.

Which is to say, that I'm completely open to changing my mind based on new information, if that information convinces me that I'm wrong.

I posted what I did in the hopes that someone in this thread would tell me why my interpretation was wrong. No one has. FlyingCow correctly interpreted what I meant and said he disagreed with it. You said that I was wrong because the amendment clearly referred to miltias. I said I disagreed with that. You said I shouldn't disagree with it because smart people say you're right. The end result is that I still don't understand why I'm wrong.

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Lyrhawn
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What, you can't just trust me on this one?

(Gimme a day or two, I'll rustle up some references to those "smart people" and at least give you a taste of what the other side's argument is)

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blacwolve
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That would be great.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
While this is true, it's also misleading. In the first place, those are rifles, not handguns. In the second place, ammunition for them is extremely tightly controlled, with restrictions on its purchase. In the third place, it's illegal to actually carry the rifle in public, except going to and fro a firing range. In short, as far as individual self-defense is concerned, these guns are totally useless - and likewise for committing armed robbery, to be sure.
You were correct until you started making conclusions about the facts. While the sale of ammunition is restricted, everybody with a rifle has ammunition for that rifle. Those rifles are certainly not useless for home defense, and their presence is a huge deterrent for home invasion.
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King of Men
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Ah, but now you've introduced the new category of home defense, which I do not think anyone so far on this thread has been saying anything about. All the examples I've seen thus far are muggeries and preventing bank robberies and suchlike, and for those I will stand by my statement. Also, that ammunition is supposed to be kept 'sealed'; I don't know how good the seals are, but if they are at all tough, it's a bit of a problem if you need it fast.

To draw any conclusions about the deterrent effect of rifles at home, we'd need much better statistics than the current assertion that Switzerland has very low rates of gun crime. We now need to know whether its rate of home burglaries is particularly low, compared to its mugging rate, with both compared to, say, nearby France (preferably urban areas compared to urban). This would actually be a very useful statistic for drawing conclusions about the deterrent effect of guns, because these rifles cannot possibly be deterring muggings, so we can separate out the cultural whatnots and get only the effect of guns.

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Tresopax
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quote:
But it does mean that if someone is to bear the cost of violence, the one who initiated it is the preferable choice to bear it.
We all are the ones bearing the cost for a killed person, assuming human life has inherent objective value to us. Certainly the friends and family of the person killed bear the cost.

quote:
What I don't understand is why you keep underselling this with words like "chance". There are 16,000 murders a year in this country - it's not like it doesn't happen. We're not talking just a "chance," and to the extent you keep misrepresenting my position with continued use of the term "chance" you are being dishonest.
A situation in which chance is not involved is not a real situation. Nobody can see into the future to determine for sure what an aggressor is going to do to them. Nobody can see into the future to see if trying to kill that aggressor will make them more safe, or less safe. Instead, they make a judgement call on what is more likely. In other words, they take a chance.

Yes there are thousands of murders that happen. But how many intruders enter people's homes without killing anyone? I bet the number is far more than those that kill. How many people threaten someone but don't follow up on that threat? Once again, I bet the number is far more than those who do follow up. So in those situations, it is only reasonable to conclude that there is a chance the aggressor will kill someone - and there is a chance they will not. "Chance" is at the heart of the matter.

If you could predict the future with certainty, it might be more acceptable to kill people in order to save more lives than that one. But you cannot predict the future. Maybe there could be a situation where you know the aggressor so well that you are pretty darn sure what he or she will do, in which case you could come close to predicting the future. But in most situations, that is not going to be the case.

quote:
The reason we don't kill people is because it is generally morally wrong to do so. The reason we don't use force in many situations in which it would be otherwise moral to use force is because of the social contract. Therefore, I may not use certain levels of force to defend property - because in this society we have decided that we will submit most property disputes to the jurisdiction of a neutral arbiter - the state.
I don't believe I have agreed to that social contract. Certainly nobody ever asked me about it or gave me the option of opting out. How can that qualify as a contract with me then?

In addition, even if I'm in the jungle and someone takes my only meal in 48 hours, I am still only right to kill them if not doing so will result in my own death, or the death of someone else. The difference between the jungle and here is that people here will enforce that morality - in the jungle I could get away with doing the wrong thing, except perhaps until God's judgement, if you are a Christian.

quote:
It's one thing to say it's noble for that child to sacrifice himself to avoid killing his brother. It's another thing to say we ought to use the coercive threat of punishment to attempt to force him to make that sacrifice.
I said nothing about punishing anyone. I just said we shouldn't allow the children to have guns in order to allow them to kill eachother when they get into a fight.
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FlyingCow
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quote:
which I do not think anyone so far on this thread has been saying anything about.
Actually, I had talked about this.

quote:
To draw any conclusions about the deterrent effect of rifles at home, we'd need much better statistics than the current assertion that Switzerland has very low rates of gun crime.
From what I've read, Switzerland's low crime and gun rates are because of the overall economic level of the country - there's not as much of a poor, underpriveliged class. Also, since all adults are trained as part of the military, there is a different attitude of responsibility among the general population.

Economics and heightened responsibility have helped lead to low rates of gun crime - not the presence or lack of guns.

I use Switzerland as a clear example that the presence of guns doesn't cause crime. It's absurd to think that they do. They are inanimate objects, and don't cause anything.

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rivka
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Switzerland also has a very regulated (for lack of a better word) society. Rules and order are very important, particularly publicly. This has resulted in some nasty racism, anti-semitism, and some other -isms, but presumably also contributes to the low rate of crime.

It also results in some marvelous clocks and watches.

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Stone_Wolf_
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To BlueWizard: It's cool. I do agree that a lot of the negative views about guns are held by people who do not have a lot of experience with them. I feel that statement should be made as a general statement instead of pointing it at anyone in particular.

On the first page I made the statement "Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a gun? I'll bet you haven't." and it was viewed as a personal attack.

To Tresopax: Yes, all life has value. But not the same value. Value is not absolute. Diamonds are valuable, but part of their value is their rarity. If the diamond sellers of the world released their huge stockpile of diamonds onto the market, the price of diamonds would plummet. Value is a comparison and a judgment.

Human life is valuable. But not an absolute value. Are Ghandi's and Martin Luther King Jr.'s lives more valuable than Hitler and Stalin? Yes! Yes they are.

When you choose to use violence you are devaluing your life, because you are devaluing the lives of your victims. That's the social contract.

The social contract is, you don't kill me, I won't kill you. The social contract is, if you do not break the law, you will not be punished, and if you do, you will.

To Lyrhawn: I would be very interested to see those documents you are referring to. I agree with Blacwolve that the second amendment needs to be redefined for modern times. So seeing what the founders meant when they put it down originally would be a goodness.

To FlyingCow: I agree that the Swiss situation at very least disproves the idea that more guns = more crime (or the Old West argument).

quote:
the Swiss were incredibly capable and smart fighters.
Of course they were! They could pick their teeth, open a bottle of wine, cut down a small tree, clean their nails and cut something all with the same knife!
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Ah, but now you've introduced the new category of home defense, which I do not think anyone so far on this thread has been saying anything about.
To me, home defense is a sub-set of self defense. :shrug:

quote:
Also, that ammunition is supposed to be kept 'sealed'; I don't know how good the seals are, but if they are at all tough, it's a bit of a problem if you need it fast.
My understanding is that the seals are there so that it's easy to tell if it's been broken, like the seal on a food container. It's not meant to be difficult.
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Juxtapose
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quote:
posted by FlyingCow:
They are inanimate objects, and don't cause anything.

Inanimate objects cause things all the time.

Seriously though, that's kind of a straw man. I don't think anyone is arguing that guns get up by themselves and shoot someone or that they mind-control people into committing crimes.

I think you may be confusing causal relationships with intent.

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FlyingCow
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It's not a straw man at all, Juxtapose.

The gun is not the problem. A gun by itself isn't going to rob a bank, mug someone, burglarize someone's house, or rape anyone. The gun is going to sit there, subject to the forces of gravity, reflecting light, not moving.

The problems don't come from the gun. The gun is inanimate - it doesn't move. It is not the cause of crime.

quote:
Inanimate objects cause things all the time.
They can cause passive reactions, perhaps. Like, slime on the bathroom floor might cause me to make a face. But a gun doesn't cause a murder - the murderer does. The gun is just one of the many tools at the murderer's disposal.

quote:
Seriously though, that's kind of a straw man. I don't think anyone is arguing that guns get up by themselves and shoot someone or that they mind-control people into committing crimes.
No, they're saying the equivalent of: Guns are bad, mmkay?

They're not good or bad. Making them such is attributing some sort of personification to them that just isn't there.

People are arguing that eliminating guns will somehow reduce crime and death. This is just silly. It's like saying eliminating forks will reduce obesity. The fork doesn't make people fat - it's what they choose to do with it.

Obviously, in Switzerland, the choice is not to use their guns for crime. In the United States, the choice to use guns for crime is far more common.

That's not the gun's fault. The availability of the gun itself is not the problem. Eliminating guns will therefore not eliminate the problem.

quote:
I think you may be confusing causal relationships with intent.
In that a gun can cause someone to react to it (positively or negatively), yes a gun can cause something. A gun does not cause someone to pick it up and shoot someone, though. Therefore, a gun, in itself, does not cause physical harm.

It becomes dangerous when someone chooses to make it dangerous. Put a gun on a table, and it's about as dangerous as a rock. I could pick up that gun and shoot someone, or I could pick up that rock and fracture someone's skull with it. A dinner knife is a dangerous weapon, if we choose to use it as such - but, in itself, it's just an object.

It really seems like a lot of people feel guns are inherently bad - that its existence is a problem, and the cause of other problems. This just isn't logical to me.

You want to be down on crime, that makes sense. You want to be down on tools, that's just weird.

Eliminating the tool doesn't stop the crime. Stopping the factors that lead to crime will stop the tool from being used for crime. So, maybe instead of people working on banning guns they should be working on fixing the social problems that lead to the guns being used.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Well said!
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Nighthawk
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Now you got me scared of cutlery.

"Want some more steak, dear?"
"AAAAH!!! POINT THAT FORK SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!"

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Juxtapose
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quote:
A gun by itself isn't going to rob a bank, mug someone, burglarize someone's house, or rape anyone. The gun is going to sit there, subject to the forces of gravity, reflecting light, not moving.
And if anyone were saying otherwise, your argument wouldn't be a straw man.

If someone uses a gun to kill someone else, the problem is stems from two sources. A) the killer. B) the gun. Denying one is as foolish as denying the other.

quote:
But a gun doesn't cause a murder - the murderer does. The gun is just one of the many tools at the murderer's disposal.
As others have noted, this logic doesn't hold up when dealing with things like grenades, anthrax, and nuclear warheads. If it IS okay to ban those things, then we're really just negotiating at that point, and asserting principles as though they're self evident gets us nowhere.

quote:
It's like saying eliminating forks will reduce obesity.
Actually, I've heard that using chopsticks will cause you to eat slower and lower your calorie intake. You seem to refuse to believe that the material world around us can influence the decisions people make.

quote:
It really seems like a lot of people feel guns are inherently bad - that its existence is a problem, and the cause of other problems. This just isn't logical to me.
It's not all that illogical:

The primary purpose of a gun is to inflict or threaten injury up to the point of death.

Harm is, in general, bad.

Therefore, guns are, in general, bad.

quote:
Stopping the factors that lead to crime will stop the tool from being used for crime.
Believe it or not, the degree of difficulty in committing a crime factors into whether a crime is committed. Since availability of tools factors into the degree of difficulty, it's not at all illogical to suspect that lowering the quantity of guns in the population could lower the crime rate.
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BlackBlade
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Well Juxtapose managed to say all that I was writing out when I stopped to read his post before finishing. <doffs hat at juxtapose> well written sir.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Weapons have been around as long as mankind has. It is not those weapons that are the problem, but those among our race that use them to force their will on others. Weapons will not go away, nor should they.

Weapons are the reigns of power, and if good and peaceable men do not have them, then the reigns of power fall to lesser hands.

There are too many guns in the US and around the world to ever make the idea of removing all guns feasible (even IF it was desirable).

If you had two identical guns, and one was used by a hero to uphold justice, to fight evil and to keep the peace, while the other was used by a villain to murder for greed, to destroy for pleasure and to generally be an evil bastard and then you placed those two guns side by side, they would still be identical.

Sure, guns make it easier to kill, but we can not uninvent the gun. And if we did, we'd be killing each other with swords and bows! Guns are not evil. How people use them can be evil. But it is the responsibility of the person who pulls the trigger and not the responsibility of the gun.

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BlackBlade
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And if the good guy and the bad guy both had no gun, they would be forced to actually discuss their differences, "The pen is mightier then the sword?"

quote:

Sure, guns make it easier to kill, but we can not uninvent the gun. And if we did, we'd be killing each other with swords and bows!

Ok then uninvent swords and bows, whats the problem?

Would you say then that the in the cause of natural progression we simply allow more and more convenient tools of death to propagate amongst the population?

If somebody creates a device wherewith by simply thinking of somebodies death they die, would you say, "Its not the implants fault, its the person doing the thinking."

You seem to think conflict and war are inevitabilities that cannot be stopped. You are right they cannot be stopped as long as the tools to wage them still exist.

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AdmiralSenn
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<Enter new member with no prior history on this board>

I'd just like to point something out. Yes, if all guns were controlled by the authorities, we would all be safer - no criminals (except the authorities - but that's a whole other argument) would have them.

The problem with that is that people ALREADY HAVE guns. And there are plenty of ways to get guns without having to register them. Even if all gun sales in the future are only to registered, pre-screened and approved buyers, that still leaves a massive number of illegal guns in the hands of criminals.

In this situation, I would rather regular people have access to guns (not access meaning bins on the street where anyone can just grab a gun, but a method of legally acquiring them) than not have access.

Also, I've never heard the NRA support all citizens owning automatic weapons. I've heard them argue for different calibers and de-restricting certain types of ammunition, but full auto seems a bit out there to me, even for them. Granted that I'd like a fully automatic weapon, but that's more because I'd get a kick out of shooting it at a range or something than because I think I need it.

Did any of that make sense?

</wandering reply from random interloper>

EDIT: Probably should have read the whole thread first. Please don't shoot me for not making sense.

[ November 30, 2006, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: AdmiralSenn ]

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Juxtapose
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Thanks, Blackblade. [Smile]

Stone_Wolf, the thing is that I agree with most of what you've said in that post. I'm not even sure that it would be desirable to rid the world of all weapons, and I doubt anyone would argue with you that it'd be impossible. We need weapons in the hands of good people because weapons will always be in the hands of the greedy and the sadistic.

That doesn't mean, however, that we can't make attempts to keep weapons out of the hands of would-be evildoers. As others have noted before me, at this point we're engaging in cost-benefit analysis. I don't think it's particularly valid to argue that this type of discussion is absurd as a matter of principle.

Take a look at this page from the Dept. of Justice on homicides in the US by weapon type. Note the plummet in gun-related deaths in the early-to-mid '90s, the same time as the Brady Bill was passed. Now, granted, homicide of all types was decreasing at this point, but the decline in homicides with handguns as the murder weapon is much sharper. This indicates to me that at least some forms of gun control can be effective.

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Juxtapose
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Welcome to Hatrack, AdmiralSenn. [Wave]
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FlyingCow
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quote:
The primary purpose of a gun is to inflict or threaten injury up to the point of death.

Harm is, in general, bad.

Therefore, guns are, in general, bad.

And this takes us back to my post just after StoneWolf's agree/disagree breakdown.

Forgive me for quoting myself:
quote:
To the second to last point, on the uses of firearms, there is a division over what people perceive firearms were *designed for* and what people actually *use them for*. (Person A says they collect guns because they are shiny, and Person B says that doesn't matter because guns are designed to kill)
You're obviously in the second camp. Use doesn't matter as much as purpose in your view of the world.

I'm pretty clearly in the first camp.

In my personal experience, the primary purpose of a gun is the entertainment value that comes along with target shooting. I have no interest in using the gun to "inflict or threaten injury" upon anyone.

Purpose cannot be attributed to an inanimate object with any universal truth. "A gun is for killing" is like saying "The internet is for porn". Guns I've used are not for killing, and I'm sure many people use the internet for other things than porn. (Or so I've heard... [Razz] )

quote:
And if anyone were saying otherwise, your argument wouldn't be a straw man.
Saying "Guns are bad" or "guns cause crime" is tantamount to attributing those actions to the gun itself, rather than to the user.

People seem to be ignoring that the user is responsible for the crime, not the gun. The gun isn't sentenced to jail, after all.

I could use a gun to drive a nail or to kill a person. I could also use a hammer to drive a nail or kill a person. It would be *my* choice that makes either item a weapon or not - not the "primary purpose" of the tool.

quote:
If someone uses a gun to kill someone else, the problem is stems from two sources. A) the killer. B) the gun. Denying one is as foolish as denying the other.
But it's not foolish. The gun is a tool. That person could be using a knife, a brick, a rope, or their bare hands. None of those items are inherently bad. Neither is a gun.

Crime comes from people, not from items.

quote:
As others have noted, this logic doesn't hold up when dealing with things like grenades, anthrax, and nuclear warheads.
Holds up fine to me. If people didn't decide to use them to kill one another, none of these items would be any more dangerous than all manner of other legal items.

People are the problem. Fix them, you fix crime. Tools are a means to an end - take them away, other tools will be found.

This isn't so difficult. You just have to throw away preconceived ideas that the intent of the creator of an item somehow governs all of that item's uses and identity forever and ever.

Guns were invented to be more efficient killing tools, granted. That doesn't mean they have to be that. Once a poem is written, the author loses control over how it is interpreted. Once an item is created, the inventor loses control over how it is used.

quote:
Actually, I've heard that using chopsticks will cause you to eat slower and lower your calorie intake.
Are you saying that if forks were banned, people would go to chopsticks? Not, say, handheld foot like tacos or burgers? If people want to eat a lot, they'll eat a lot, regardless of the tools at hand.

quote:
You seem to refuse to believe that the material world around us can influence the decisions people make.
This is why lawsuits about McDonalds causing obesity get started. McDonalds' existence isn't why someone gets fat - that person choosing to eat McDonalds food without any regard to health or moderation is why that person gets fat.

If a parent beats a child with a belt, we don't blame the belt.

Unfortunately, our society is wont to do just that, blaming video games or television for child behavior. Just because it's on, that doesn't mean you have to let your child watch it.

If you want to ban something, ban irresponsible behavior.

quote:
Believe it or not, the degree of difficulty in committing a crime factors into whether a crime is committed.
Granted. Though this is actually an argument used by the other side, too. If the average citizen was likely to have a gun, mugging someone or breaking into their house would become far more difficult, therefore lowering crime rates.

quote:
Since availability of tools factors into the degree of difficulty, it's not at all illogical to suspect that lowering the quantity of guns in the population could lower the crime rate.
Actually, no. You'd have to lower the availability of all tools that are potentially lethal. Knives, bats, crowbars, bricks, anything heavy or sharp enough to cause damage and easy enough to wield.

You'd need to make the whole world of nerf.

Again, I point to Switzerland, though. Accessibility to guns obviously doesn't cause gun crime there. So, it's not the accessibility that's causing the crime - it's the people looking for an accessible weapon.

If guns were not available, they would turn to the next best thing.

Also, this is all neglecting the very important fact that banning guns just means law-abiding citizens wouldn't have them - not that criminals wouldn't have them.

Edit: to fix a broken quote

[ November 30, 2006, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: FlyingCow ]

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King of Men
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Let's try to look at this from a micro-economic standpoint - I've just been reading a lot of David Friedman, and it's interesting stuff. First, let us assume that killers are rational; they kill if they think the benefit (to them) of killing is larger than the cost (to them). The cost is from two sources: First, the victim will attempt to defend himself; second, we have courts and police and even executioners - which is in some sense an extension of individual self-defense; the victim can call on allies. The benefit can be either directly economic - the contents of a wallet, the removal of a witness - or taken out in satisfaction - "Die, you wife-stealin' swine!"

Now, people have different estimations of benefit. If I think that a murder will net me one dollar, and you think a murder will net you two dollars, then if the cost of the murder is 1.5 dollars, you will kill and I won't. So any time you make murder more expensive or less beneficial, you reduce the number of them. (This might have other costs - for example, you can reduce murders to zero by locking up everybody in cages they can't escape, but it would be a rather costly approach. But right now I'm not so concerned with efficiency in this sense.)

Now, what does a gun do? Essentially, it reduces the immediate self-defense ability of the target. You are at a disadvantage against a large man with an axe, certainly; but it is not impossible to win such a fight. Your disadvantage is much larger against a man with a gun. On the other hand, your protection in the form of police and courts is not much reduced - maybe slightly, because the police have to arrive faster to actually stop the fight, but not much. So, guns make it cheaper to kill; in this sense, they do increase the number of murders.

Now, as is often pointed out, guns can also work the other way, by increasing the self-defense capability of a target of crime. This increases the cost of crime, but not of killing. Economically, if everybody is armed, we should expect to see fewer crimes but more serious ones in terms of killings; we should also expect to see more domestic disputes end in killing. In this sense, then, guns do, actually, kill people, by the simple expedient of removing some barriers to doing so. If something is cheaper to do, it gets done more often; this is basic economics.

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TheGrimace
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FC, In general I agree with you in the whole argument about guns not being inherently evil/bad

we must however admit to a middle-ground between you and Juxtapose's arguments (I think) and say that while they are not inherently bad, guns are inherently more dangerous and/or more prone to be used in a dangerous manner.

This isn't a judgement call on the nature of the gun so much as a statement of fact.

While yes a criminal may look at a rock and say "I could bludgeon someone to death with this, I think I'll go rob people now" I think we'd agree that said criminal would be substantially more likely to take a violent course of action were he instead to be in posession of a firearm. Also, I think we'd agree that there's a significantly greater probability that he would be able to successfully commit more crime with a gun than a rock, since I for example would likely try fighting off or running from a criminal wielding a rock where I wouldn't were he holding a 1911.

Guns are not bad, but their convenient presence MAY be an encouraging/enabling factor to the actions of some criminals.

Does this mean that all guns should be banned? (or even any guns) not necessarily, but I think qualitatively this is true.

Now I don't think there's necessarily clear studies that prove one way or the other a causal connection (or lack-therof) between accessability of guns and violent crime, certainly the potential of this connection exists and hasn't been disproven. As said, Switzerland may help show that there isn't a universal relationship, but there are certainly other examples that seem to point the opposite direction as well (Canada/Australia/England...)

FC, the problem I see in your use of the Switzerland example is that it's been established that they have a very different base society compared to ours, so it's potentially possible that their society just reacts differently to the increased temptation that guns present in ours. Or perhaps their violent crimes are in fact drastically effected by the presence of guns, but the overall level of violent crime is so low as to make the statistics of the situation completely inconclusive. Maybe if all guns were removed from switzerland by law violent crime would drop by half, who knows.

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FlyingCow
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Assuming that killers are rational was the first logical misstep, and the others topple downhill after it.
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King of Men
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Tell me, do you think there would be more, the same, or fewer, murders, in a world where it was not illegal? If you think there would be more, how do you explain it except as a rational response to a decreased deterrent?
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FlyingCow
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As a professor of mine once said: You don't not kill someone because it's illegal, you don't kill people because it's not a very social thing to do.

I really don't think the number of murders would significantly increase if it was legal. If a person is of the mindset that it's okay to take another human's life, then how do laws stop them? Is it fear of sitting in a room for twenty years that really deters people from murder, or is it something beyond the legal system?

quote:
while they are not inherently bad, guns are inherently more dangerous and/or more prone to be used in a dangerous manner.
More prone to be used in a dangerous manner than what? More prone than, say, a car? Or how about a firecracker?

Something being dangerous means that people should be better educated about it, should be taught to be cautious with it, and should respect its potential dangers. Owning a rottweiler can be dangerous, or a poisonous snake or spider.

I'm against banning things because they are considered dangerous, or prone to be used in a certain way.

(Again, I'm totally for increased education, training, safety tests, etc - just not outright bans)

quote:
While yes a criminal may look at a rock and say "I could bludgeon someone to death with this, I think I'll go rob people now"
You've got the thinking backwards. It's more "I want to rob people, what can I use?" or "I'm going to kill this guy, what can help me do it?"

In absence of a gun, something else would be used.

quote:
I think we'd agree that said criminal would be substantially more likely to take a violent course of action were he instead to be in posession of a firearm.
I wouldn't agree. While I could be wrong, I don't see criminals seeing a gun and thinking "Wow, a gun. What could I do with this... hmm... well, I've never tried robbing a convenience store, but now that I have a gun I think I'll do just that!" Again, I could be wrong, but I would think the reasoning is more "I need money, I'm going to rob that convenience store, what can I use to scare the owner into giving me the money? I need a gun."

In absence of a gun, he might threaten to set fire to the place, or to blow it up, or he could threaten the store clerk with a knife or other weapon. The presence of the gun isn't the motivation to rob the store - there are other factors that brought the robber to that point. The gun is just the means to his end.

quote:
Guns are not bad, but their convenient presence MAY be an encouraging/enabling factor to the actions of some criminals
And violent cartoons MAY be an encouraging/enabling factor to the actions of some criminals. But I truly believe that unless their minds were *already* looking toward criminal activity, the presence of a tool that would help in that endeavor is inconsequential.

quote:
FC, the problem I see in your use of the Switzerland example is that it's been established that they have a very different base society compared to ours, so it's potentially possible that their society just reacts differently to the increased temptation that guns present in ours.
Very true. It's society that governs the people's actions, not the availability of certain tools.

quote:
Maybe if all guns were removed from switzerland by law violent crime would drop by half, who knows.
Or maybe the opposite. Or maybe nothing would happen.

I still hold to the belief that societal differences are what govern their crime rate, not the availability of tools that make crime easier.

One person may look at a machete and think it would be pretty useful for slashing down the overgrown area in their back yard. Another may look at the same machete and think it would be pretty useful for threatening someone with violence.

The difference is in the person, not in the tool.

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TheGrimace
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FC, while I agree that many instances of murder are results of rage/passion and therefore may not be influenced by the effectiveness of a gun versus something else, I think we can't discount the number of gun-related crimes where the criminals in question were at least somewhat rational (if not wholly so).

I'm saying that it's significantly more likely that someone will consider commiting the following crimes for example if they have access to a gun rather than a rock or axe or knife...

Armed Robbery (bank, home, buisness...)
Gang-related shootings
Mugging (arguable)

Now perhaps someone can come up with statistics saying that crimes of passion are overwhelmingly those of concern rather than pre-medditated crimes like those listed above.

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King of Men
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quote:
I really don't think the number of murders would significantly increase if it was legal. If a person is of the mindset that it's okay to take another human's life, then how do laws stop them? Is it fear of sitting in a room for twenty years that really deters people from murder, or is it something beyond the legal system?
You are arguing that the demand for murder is inelastic; but I think this is not completely true. Consider; if the cost of murder to me is zero - this includes the risk of retaliation in kind - then you would certainly find the attendance at churches in my neighbourhood dropping rather drastically. Also my landlord might find it convenient to drop the rent. Now this is obviously an absurd case, where the laws of sociology are bent for my personal convenience; still, it demonstrates that there exists some level of cost that will increase the murder rate.

A more realistic case can be found in the sagas of Iceland, where rich warriors could afford gear and training that made them extremely likely to win a fight against a peasant. In consequence, peasants are always getting killed with essentially zero cost to the killer, legal enforcement being limited to a declaration of the Ting that the killer might legitimately be killed by the victim's family.

Moreover, the kind of disincentive you describe is just one more form of cost: People like to think of themselves as altruistic, or at least not the kind of bastard that goes about killing people without cause. But that's a cultural thing; one could easily imagine a culture where it's heroic to kill - even if it's illegal, in fact - in defense of honour. I'm sure you can think of some. In such a case, what deterrent is left except law and self-defense? In other words, although the demand for murder is not perfectly elastic by any means, it is empirically demonstrable that it is not sufficiently inelastic that law is irrelevant.

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TheGrimace
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FC, to be honest I don't think you and I are really at odds for the most part. I just want to make sure you consider the possibility that the easy availability of guns MAY in some cases increase the likelyhood of violent crime.

I'm not disagreeing at all that the mindsets and possibilities you point out are valid, and may very-well pertain to the vast majority of cases out there. I just want you to also admit that there is at least the potential of validity to the flip side I mention (which I think you have).

I agree that increased safety tests, liscensing strictures etc are likely the best way to go on the issue, hell I own a couple guns myself (entirely for sport shooting and their novelty).

also:
Note, when I say that guns are inherently more dangerous I generally mean "more dangerous than other objects which are likely to be substituted for guns in the case of violent crime." i.e. what other objects might be used to mug someone, rob a store, kill a cheating spouse etc... sure rottweilers and venemous snakes are potentially dangerous, but it's somewhat unlikely that anyone would use one to rob a store, and less likely that the robbery would go successfully.

There is certainly something of a point (in limited circumstances) with cars. They are definately more dangerous than guns for the most part, but are much less likely to be used in a directly malicious nature, and are much more restricted in their use. But yes, they can be used to kill many people and are thus quite dangerous.

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King of Men
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quote:
Again, I could be wrong, but I would think the reasoning is more "I need money, I'm going to rob that convenience store, what can I use to scare the owner into giving me the money? I need a gun."
Ah, but this is precisely the point! Because the further train of thought, in some countries, is going to be "Where can I get a gun? Damn, I'm going to have to go to a lot of trouble. I guess I better find a different way to make money." While in other countries it'll be "Maybe Jim will lend me his gun if I give him twenty bucks."
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King of Men
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Oh, by the way, the word 'rational' might be a touch misleading here. I'll let comrade Friedman explain:

quote:
The central assumption of economics is rationality--that people have objectives and tend to choose the correct way of achieving them. While the assumption can be modified to deal with information costs, individuals are still assumed to make the correct decision, in an uncertain environment, about how much information to buy.



The use of the term "rationality" to describe this central economic assumption is somewhat deceptive, since it suggests that people find the correct way to achieve their objectives by rational analysis--using formal logic to deduce conclusions from assumptions, analyzing evidence, and so forth. No such assumption about how people find the correct means to achieve their ends is necessary.



One can imagine a variety of other explanations for rational behavior. To take a trivial example, most of our objectives require that we eat occasionally, so as not to die of hunger (exception--if my objective is to be fertilizer). Whether or not people have deduced this fact by logical analysis, those who do not choose to eat are not around to have their behavior analyzed by economists. More generally, evolution may produce people (and other animals) who act rationally without knowing why. The same result may be produced by a process of trial and error. If you walk to work every day you may by experiment find the shortest route, even if you do not know enough geometry to calculate it. "Rationality" does not mean a particular way of thinking but a tendency to get the right answer, and it may be the result of many things other than thinking.

(My emphasis.) In other words, you don't have to assume that criminals think things through logically and based on true information.
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FlyingCow
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quote:
Consider; if the cost of murder to me is zero - this includes the risk of retaliation in kind
This sounds a lot like "assume a spherical rabbit". No risk of retaliation at all? This is theoretical and of no practical use. And no concern for human life? You're describing a sociopath.

quote:
Now this is obviously an absurd case, where the laws of sociology are bent for my personal convenience
Ya think?

quote:
In other words, although the demand for murder is not perfectly elastic by any means, it is empirically demonstrable that it is not sufficiently inelastic that law is irrelevant.
True. And I am in no means advocating making murder legal. In fact, I'm not sure how that tangent even started. [Dont Know]

quote:
I just want to make sure you consider the possibility that the easy availability of guns MAY in some cases increase the likelyhood of violent crime.
Absolutely. And letting a bunch of teenage boys loose in a house filled with stage combat blades can also lead to a lot of people getting hurt. The easy availability of cars in some cases increases the likelihood of people driving dangerously, too.

It's just that it's the people involved that are the key, not the objects they latch onto.

quote:
I just want you to also admit that there is at least the potential of validity to the flip side I mention
Absolutely, again. There are people who do not act responsibly towards others. They should be punished accordingly. The majority that do act responsibly should not be punished for the irresponsible actions of the minority.

This goes back to my earlier example, I don't want someone to tell me I can't buy a Ferrari because some people drive too fast in them.

quote:
Ah, but this is precisely the point! Because the further train of thought, in some countries, is going to be "Where can I get a gun? Damn, I'm going to have to go to a lot of trouble. I guess I better find a different way to make money."
Or, maybe I'll brandish my machete, or start smashing things with a bat. The next train of thought is not "Dang, I can't find a gun - guess that means I'll just have to buckle down and get a 9 to 5..." If someone is at the level of desperation that they are looking to rob a store, lack of a gun is not going to stop them.

(However, knowing the storeowner has a shotgun behind the counter might. Just sayin'.)

quote:
While in other countries it'll be "Maybe Jim will lend me his gun if I give him twenty bucks.
And again, how has this become the gun as the problem and not the person's decision to engage in criminality?

quote:
"Rationality" does not mean a particular way of thinking but a tendency to get the right answer, and it may be the result of many things other than thinking.
If you're killing someone or engaging in violent crime, you're not getting the "right" answer. You've skipped past the rational solutions to your problem, and gone for more irrational ones.

Murder is not economics. And as much as I respect my fellow Rutgers alum, he isn't talking about murderers acting rationally in this passage.

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King of Men
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quote:
If you're killing someone or engaging in violent crime, you're not getting the "right" answer.
Pardon me, but you are. If killing someone gets me 20 bucks and costs me nothing, hand me that gun. You seem to be confusing the moral sense of 'right' with economic utility, a compeltely separate matter.

quote:
This sounds a lot like "assume a spherical rabbit". No risk of retaliation at all? This is theoretical and of no practical use.
An existence proof is never useless. You'll note that in my next paragraph I point out a case that existed in actual history, which you've very conveniently ignored.

quote:
And no concern for human life? You're describing a sociopath.
Quite so. Does your theory rely on the non-existence of sociopaths? If so, then I suggest that it is you who are assuming a spherical rabbit.


quote:
True. And I am in no means advocating making murder legal. In fact, I'm not sure how that tangent even started.
We were discussing whether incentives had any effect on the number of murders. You asserted that they do not. I came up with a counter-example, which you have yet to argue against.

quote:
Murder is not economics. And as much as I respect my fellow Rutgers alum, he isn't talking about murderers acting rationally in this passage.
In other works, though, he discusses the rationality of criminals, including murderers. I daren't post any more for fear of copyright violation, but you can read it here - and you should, it's really very interesting stuff. Start with this - which, you should note, ends up arguing against gun control.

quote:
And again, how has this become the gun as the problem and not the person's decision to engage in criminality?
I agree that the person is the problem. The point is, if he can get hold of a gun, then his problem is our problem, because he will act on his evil thoughts. If he cannot, then his problem remains his problem. Therefore, the availability of guns to criminals is our problem.

Now, your point about substitutes for guns is reasonable, but not complete. All I'm saying is that there exist at least some criminals who will commit robbery if they can get hold of a gun without enormous problems, and who otherwise will give that up. Gun control doesn't have to deter every crime to be useful; otherwise we might as well abandon police on the grounds that some criminals will still rob even if there is some chance of getting caught! Now, you can reasonably ask whether gun control maybe costs more in bureaucracy and enforcement than it nets you in crimes prevented; maybe it doesn't, I don't know. The point is, this is a point on which we can get some actual data to make decisions on, instead of vague hand-waving. That's what makes the economic analysis useful, as opposed to the moral point of a right to bear arms.

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Juxtapose
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FlyingCow,
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not at all trying to excuse criminals, and perhaps I should have said so from the beginning.

I'll agree that people will always commit crimes because of, as you say, economic and social disparity. I do think the data will show that decreasing access to tools used to commit crime will result in a decrease of crime. I seem to recall studies on this topic, and I'll try and dig them up, probably sometime tomorrow. On the topic, I'd like to hear what you thought about the statistics on homicide after the Brady bill was passed that I linked earlier.

More importantly, I think you've left out one important factor to consider. For the moment, I'll grant that removing all guns from the civilian population would simply cause all gun-wielding criminals to simply use knives or blunt objects instead. So the number of crimes being committed is just as high as before. Do you think that the negative impact caused by this set of crimes is as great as in crimes committed with the aid of guns?

Even if the availability of guns does not influence criminal behavior, it surely affects the impact of that behavior on victims.

Incidentally, I've been enjoying this discussion, and I'm really gratified that everyone has been able to remain civil. [Hat]

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Sterling
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Ow. Catching up on four pages of argument can give one a headache.

A few thoughts:

quote:
I believe the second amendment gives a right to WMDs.
Arguably, the very phrase "bear arms" implies, at the least, a weapon that a single person could effectively carry, wield, and fire. That leaves out most WMDs; at least, the kind that don't destroy the user in the usage.

Anyone else think of the Far Side with the caption "Aw, great! Now the Johnsons have the bomb!..."

quote:
Sure, I also think that protecting against criminals is a good reason to allow guns, but a fundamental reason is protection against tyrranical government.
I'm sorry, but by the time any quasi-trained citizen is exchanging shots with members of a professional military, they've already lost. If the (occasionally cited in this discussion) example of Iraq really teaches us anything, it's that you'd have far better luck taking on a modern military with, say, a radio controlled fertilizer bomb than with small arms fire. On that line, something like the Anarchists' Cookbook and a collection of household chemicals would likely suit "fighting tyranny" better than a gun.

Excuse me, there's an NSA agent at my door.

quote:
- In a fit of rage, you can kill people with a lot more than a gun. A car, for instance, works pretty well.

- A baseball bat, crowbar or kitchen knife can kill suspected intruders, too, but we don't ban those.

- Leaving electric appliances near bathtubs, leaving toxic chemicals (drano, rat poison) in easy reach, letting infants play on balconies, etc, etc, etc... can also lead to child death. We don't ban these, we just caution parents to avoid such situations. Responsible parents keep dangerous things away from their children, and responsible gun-owning parents are no different.

Unfortunately, many states have no laws mandating that gun ownership requires proof of responsibility.

Now, a six-year-old is unlikely to accidentally kill a sibling with a baseball bat. And a nearsighted senior citizen is unlikely to mistakenly stab a visitor to death with a knife. And while the rate of accidental death and injury from automobiles is regrettably high, it's actually rather difficult to intentionally kill someone with one, as a victim first needs to get in front of their assailant, in a running car, with enough room to accelerate to a fatal velocity.

Further, if a young child follows the example of what people are shown doing on television with a baseball bat or a crowbar (or even, in many cases, a knife), the result is unlikely to be fatal, or even injuring. A gun, on the other hand?...

(Whether the latter says more about guns or the media is another question.)

The reason guns disturb many people so is that they put a human death a finger-twitch away from reality, something that cannot be said of a baseball bat or a knife or a car. This is part of the reason I think reasonable gun control laws that put a few steps before that finger twitch are well worthwhile.

Aside from quotes, two points:

* A well-known study by a Dr. Kellerman claimed that a gun in the home is 43 times as likely to be used against its owner as against an attacker. Now, the study was limited, and flawed for the purpose of discounting entirely the use of a weapon against a home invader, as anyone with access to a search engine can readily determine. Still, combining what is apparently a non-trivial possibility of a weapon being used against its owner with the increased likelihood a gun owner will confront an intruder rather than doing the sane thing and barricade themselves in while phoning the police, I do have questions about the use of a gun in defense. (The corollary is drawing a weapon on an armed mugger rather than simply giving them your wallet or purse, which all my old senseis would argue is a definite no-no.)

* All sides of this discussion seem willing to ascribe a boundary between good, law-abiding citizens and criminals which may not be as high as one thinks. Crimes are committed with legally purchased weapons, especially by the enraged and the desperate. Others are committed with weapons that were legally purchased orginally, but stolen.

I was told by an employer that 10% of people will never steal, 10% will steal recklessly, and 80% will steal... If they think they have the opportunity and are certain they won't get caught. While I suspect the numbers were non-scientific and greatly exaggerated, I do believe that what stands between some people and crime is not morality or a social contract, but their perception of their own power to carry out and (perhaps) get away with a crime.

Law abiding citizens.

For the record, I do not own a gun, but I have friends who do, and they're careful, sane, responsible people. I don't feel it's necessary, even if it were possible, to remove all the guns from the United States. But I do think reasonable people should support reasonable laws to keep guns out of the hands of those most likely to accidentally or intentionally use them for violence... Laws mandating waiting periods, trigger locks, and outlawing vest-penetrating rounds, for example.

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Lyrhawn
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Alright, this isn’t everything, but it’s a good gist of the militia argument, with some good background docs.

I can see, by the way, how really both sides could be right. Militias were viewed at the time as the people’s way of keeping the government in check. They were against standing armies, and thought they were pathways and playthings for governments on their way to corruption and tyranny, and thought that if the power was vested in the people’s army, a militia, then the government would never be able to overcome them. So in effect, keeping the guns with the people, organized in a militia, could be considered a way for the people to ‘rebel’ if the government gets out of hand.

I reject that the sole purpose of the second amendment was solely designed to give the people the ability to overthrow the government. They never planned for the people to have the ability to lead an insurrection, indeed the militias the second amendment were designed to protect and create were specifically tasked to defeat any such insurrection. I think an all volunteer army, an all volunteer national guard (which is a modern militia) is a damned good defense against our government taking extreme action (to say nothing of natural democratic safeguards). Granted I don’t think home state loyalty is what it was in the 1860’s, there’s very few who would say their loyalty to Virginia is higher than that to the US, though I suppose it would have to depend on the circumstances. The militias themselves, that are mentioned in the multiple state constitutions and in the previous versions of the second amendment were there specifically for defense of the states (individually and together), against foreign enemies and domestic insurrections. They weren’t created as an instrument of insurrection, but as a prevention and defense mechanism.

Anyway, the history of the amendment can be traced back to England. The English Declaration of Rights gave Protestants (no dice for Catholics and Jews) the right to “have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law” http://www.constitution.org/eng/eng_bor.htm At the early stages of the Revolution, the British tried to take away the guns of the militias in an effort to quash the ability of the Americans to stage a real revolt, really it was an attempt to take away the option at all, since the people being deprived of guns weren’t rebelling yet. They tried to cite the above stated passage, and parts of Common Law as reason to keep their weapons, that they be allowed to have them for hunting, self defense, militia obligations, etc.

Their real fear was a standing army. Standing armies were to them the ultimate tool that a president (or king) could use to revoke the civil rights and liberties of the people. Jefferson, writing to John Adams while they were in Europe (Paris and London respectively) said of the Presidency: “He may be reelected from four years to for years for life…Once in office, and possessing the military force of the union…he would not be easily dethroned, even if the people could be induced to withdraw their votes from him.” (From The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson & Abigail & John Adams edited by Lester J. Cappon). At the start of the United States of America (post Articles of Confederation), there were less than a 1,000 men in the Federal Army (John Adams by David McCullough). They believed that militias were the best form of defense against foreign enemies and domestic insurrections, such as the Whiskey Rebellion and Shay’s Rebellion, though it’s also true that Shay’s Rebellion is a probably the best represenatation of why the looser Articles of Confederation weren’t strong enough to deal with threats to the nation.

On the subject of militias vs. a standing army, James Madison had this to say (From Federalist No. 46).
quote:
Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops.
The ongoing French Revolution scared the hell out of a lot of people too. John Adams, while remarking on the debate around the second amendment had this to say:
quote:
The State is in critical Circumstances, and have been brought into them by the Heat and Impatience of the People. If nothing will bring them to consideration, I fear they will suffer
http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/cfm/doc.cfm?id=L17931222ja&mode=popuplg&pop=L17931222ja_2

His fear was that if the people were armed, and disastified with their government, they’d take up arms and let mob rule supplant the government, to the ruin of all. Something along the lines of the decline that followed in Russia after the Revolution killed off the Romanoffs. Given what was happening in France at the time, I don’t think anyone could really brush off his fears.

Alexander Hamilton, speaking on the subject of militias in Federalist No. 29 had this to say:
quote:
The power of regulating the militia, and of commanding its services in times of insurrection and invasion are natural incidents to the duties of superintending the common defense, and of watching over the internal peace of the Confederacy
…
This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.

http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa29.htm

What he and the others are saying, is similar to what others on this board were saying, that an armed populace is the an ultimate defense against a tyrannical government, but that isn’t the same thing as saying the second amendment was forged for the purpose of the people retaining the right to insurrection at will. On the contrary, it was designed so that standing armies, being the most obvious threat to liberty and civil rights at the time, would be rendered unnecessary except in times of war, and that militias would always outnumber them and could always overpower them at any given time, for the defense of liberty, and of the state, against domestic insurrection and foreign invasion. The idea was that if the federal government DID become out of control, and used military force against the people, the STATES would use the power of their domestic militia to overpower the Federal Army and restore Constitutional law. I think there is an emphasis on the collective rights of people to keep and bear arms, as a militia, rather than the individual right of a person to.

If you look at earlier versions of the second amendment, the material being played with had entirely to do with military service to a militia:

quote:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
…
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
…
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
…
A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The words “necessary to” were added before the final version, “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.” was submitted to the states for approval. I think it should be especially noted, that a measure was put forth in the Senate and the House to add the words “for the common defense” after “bear arms” but was defeated narrowly. Much of this had to do with compromise, but clearly the thought of the time was that the defense of the nation against all threats, foreign and domestic was best held in the hands of a regulated militia.
(My link for that information apparently doesn't jive well with the site, but email me if you want it and I'll send it to you).

Forty-Four states have a right to bear arms in their state Constitutions, around 28 of those states specifically include the provision that the right to bear arms is for the common defense of the state, or similar language. http://www.law.ucla.edu/volokh/2amteach/sources.htm#T11

quote:
Massachusetts: The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence
…
Tennessee: [T]he freemen of this State have a right to keep and bear arms for their common defence (1796)
…
Virginia: That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Several states sent requests for a Bill of Rights, and that they include the following amendments:

quote:
New Hampshire: Twelfth[:] Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion.
…
Virginia: . . . Seventeenth, That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the Community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the Civil power.
…
New York: . . . That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, including the body of the People capable of bearing Arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State; That the Militia should not be subject to Martial Law except in time of War, Rebellion or Insurrection. That Standing Armies in time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, and ought not to be kept up, excess in Cases of necessity; and that at all times, the Military should be under strict Subordination to the civil Power.
…
North Carolina: Almost identical to Virginia demand, but with "the body of the people, trained to arms" instead of "the body of the people trained to arms."
…
Rhode Island: Almost identical to Virginia demand, but with "the body of the people capable of bearing arms" instead of "the body of the people trained to arms," and with a "militia shall not be subject to martial law" proviso as in New York.

The North Carolina Declaration of Rights (12/18/1776) states:
quote:
“The people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”
Pennsylvania and Vermont wrote an almost identical provision in their Declaration. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/nc07.htm

Another interesting conversation to be had, as an aside from this one would be the Militia Act of 1903. It was the act that turned what had once been citizen militias into what is today the National Guard, which functions as a highly trained offshoot of the regular army. That did away with citizen militias, which theoretically I think anyway, is a violation of the spirit of the second amendmenta and the Constitution, but apparently doesn’t violate the letter of the law. I’m more a fan of something akin to the Swiss system, which is I think what the framers intended us to have, a well regulated, trained force of citizens who could be called up to defend the state with a medium amount of training, which would also serve as a bulwark against a standing army’s threat to personal liberty.

Early American common usage of “to bear arms” had a decidedly military bent to it.
quote:
“The Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles declares that a meaning of "to bear arms" is a figurative usage meaning "to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight". This study casts doubt on the modern definition of 'bear arms' to mean 'carry firearms'. In Amyette v. The State the court stated in 1840 that bear arms "has a military sense, and no other."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

There’s still a lot more to look at. But this post is already monstrous, considering I assembled it more as a term paper for a history class than a typical post (and spent more time than I’ve EVER spent crafting a post before). In closing, I submit the following site again, even though I already cited it once, http://www.law.ucla.edu/volokh/2amteach/sources.htm#TOC2 for further reading. It has a wealth of knowledge on the subject, from other state constitutions to a lot of supreme court decisions and opinions on the subject as well as Constitutional commentaries and analysis from notable scholars of different times.

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FlyingCow
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Not a whole lot of time to post today, but a couple of things.

KoM, the Iceland argument is just the converse of the Switzerland one. Society is different, therefore the crime rate is different. Note that in the Icelandic Sagas, there was plenty of killing without guns. Introducing guns into that society would have led to them being used to kill innocent peasants, while introducing lots of armor and swords in modern Switzerland would have not have led to people using them to kill.

It's the people and the society, not the weapons, that led to the murders. I'm sure you can find plenty of societies where human life is not inherently valued regardless of social caste - but it's not the weapons that cause that.

Also, my argument doesn't rely on the nonexistence of sociopaths. That is the person committing the crime, not the tool. I'm not saying all people are law-abiding or even sane, just that the responsibility for crime falls on the person, not the tool they use to commit it.

(Not ignoring you Sterling, just no time now. I'll come back to it.)

I did want to clarify some of my position, however:

Against -
- Outright blanket bans on guns
- Outright bans on specific guns
- Legislation to ban anything that is potentially dangerous or harmful in the wrong hands (sometimes called "nanny government")

For -
- Increased education about guns (even so far as having gun safety be a mandatory part of health class, such as drug and driver education is)
- Increased training requirements before licenses are issued
- Increased testing before licenses are issued
- Competence testing (use testing) before licenses are issued
- Mandatory background checks to rule out felons(those who have already broken the social contract - note, I wouldn't prevent someone who shoplifted a pack of gum once from purchasing a gun, however)
- Mandatory retraining/testing every so many years, and annual practice at a gun range
- Increased punishments for those who use guns in commission of a crime

I don't think I've left anything out, but I may have. Gun ownership should not be a crime, as there's nothing inherently wrong with owning a gun. Gun use should not be a crime, as there's nothing inherently wrong with firing a gun (so long as proper safety procedures are followed).

Use of a gun in commission of a crime is compounding the severity of the crime, and should be punishable above and beyond the normal punishment for that crime.

My beef is with the "guns are bad... mmkay?" crowd who seem to blame the weapon, or claim that because guns were designed for one purpose, that's their only purpose.

More later - though maybe not until Sunday. Busy weekend.

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Hitoshi
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Just to throw this out there: didn't one of the leaders of the Million Mom March end up using a gun to kill a man she thought killed her child (and then was wrong, leaving an innocent guy dead?) I've heard that story, at least, and I was looking for some verification.
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Lyrhawn
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Bit of a let down, I was at least hoping someone would read my little term paper enough to refute it.

Another post down the Hatrack black hole...


[/melodramatic "look at me" post]

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blacwolve
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I read it. I'm thinking about it.

I was talking about this with fugu last night. I don't really join these conversations to argue or to prove a point. I join them to throw out what I believe, and see what other people believe. Or because I'm really really angry (in these cases I generally back out of the thread soon after posting).

Your post convinced me that the second amendment really needs to be reworded in modern terms (although I'm not naive enough to think it will be). Since its original meaning has very little relevance to anything in modern America (for example, the miltias they refered to at the time were drastically different from the modern National Guard). But the end result is that I'm still thinking about it. Honestly, I'm going to be thinking about it for a while. You're probably not going to get a well-thought out response from me in this thread. But because of your post, in the gun control thread next month my opinion will be slightly altered, to take into account what I've learned here.

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Lyrhawn
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Cool.

I guess I just wanted to know that what time I spent on that post wasn't entirely wasted, and now I know it wasn't.

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Juxtapose
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Thread Necromancy!

While browsing the FBI's crime reporting, I came across this little table.

Note the jump from 2004 to 2005 in homicides committed with firearms and the corresponding jump in murders committed with firearms of an unspecified type. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in September, 2004.

What do you think, statistical coincidence or indicator of legal efficacy?

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AvidReader
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2003-2004 change -255
2004-2005 change +755
2005-2006 change +122
2006-2007 change -256

We're only up 366 weapon related homocides since 2003, 621 since 2004. That's pretty tiny. If it was because of the lapse on the ban, it didn't have much effect on the number of crimes. We'd probably need to know the number of victims before we could say how much impact it did or didn't have, though.

I find it interesting that the numbers seem to peak in 2005/6 and in 2007 settle back to 2004 levels. I wonder if 2008 would have returned to 2003 levels if the economy hadn't had its meltdown.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Guns were invented to be more efficient killing tools, granted. That doesn't mean they have to be that.
I hear that cocaine makes a pretty good abrasive cleanser.
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