Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Case for More Guns

The Atlantic
There are ways, of course, to make it at least marginally more difficult for the criminally minded, for the dangerously mentally ill, and for the suicidal to buy guns and ammunition. The gun-show loophole could be closed. Longer waiting periods might stop some suicides. Mental-health professionals could be encouraged—or mandated—to report patients they suspect shouldn’t own guns to the FBI-supervised National Instant Criminal Background Check System, although this would generate fierce opposition from doctors and patients. Background checks, which are conducted by licensed gun shops, have stopped almost 1 million people from buying guns at these stores since 1998. (No one knows, of course, how many of these people gave up their search for a gun, and how many simply went to a gun show or found another way to acquire a weapon.)

Other measures could be taken as well. Drum-style magazines like the kind James Holmes had that night in Aurora, which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and which make continuous firing easy, have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale could be restricted without violating the Second Amendment rights of individual gun owners.

But these gun-control efforts, while noble, would only have a modest impact on the rate of gun violence in America.


Because it’s too late.

There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America—many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market. This level of gun saturation has occurred not because the anti-gun lobby has been consistently outflanked by its adversaries in the National Rifle Association, though it has been. The NRA is quite obviously a powerful organization, but like many effective pressure groups, it is powerful in good part because so many Americans are predisposed to agree with its basic message.
I'd like to thank Frail Liberty who suggested the article. Apparently he doesn't know about my short attention span. I did invest the time to read it all, though.

It certainly covered some of our favorite themes.

The one which I quoted, that says it's too late because there are already 300 million guns "out there" is misleading. It makes it sound like the 300 million guns are sitting at supermarket check-out, free for the taking.  The fact is, obviously, every one of those guns is in the possession of someone who has no intention of making it available.  It's his. 

The side effect of so many guns in society is twofold.  Many are passed into the criminal world in various ways and too few of them are available when and where they're needed to stop crime. Increasing the numbers further will increase the bad part of that equation and not affect the other.

The other major argument of the article is "wouldn't increasing the number of concealed carry citizens help."

This is based on the mistaken idea, which we've already discussed at length, that concealed carry permit holders are safer than other people.  I just can't accept that.
Today, more than 8 million vetted and (depending on the state) trained law-abiding citizens possess state-issued “concealed carry” handgun permits, which allow them to carry a concealed handgun or other weapon in public.
This is a loaded statement. The word "vetted" is totally misleading. In states where they require training and testing prior to issuing the license, the requirements are minimal. Almost every applicant already does far more than what's required.  What kind of vetting is that?  In other states, as the parenthetical disclaimer alludes to, there are actually no requirements whatever.

How could people like that be better able to handle firearms than gun owners at large?  Not only is this the contention of the pro-gun folks, regardless of the absence of logic, some of them claim extraordinary and unbelievable factors of improvement.  Frail Liberty recently quoted a study which says CCW permit holders are 13 times safer than other gun owners.

Sorry, when something is so outlandish, I cannot accept it. 

No, I remain strongly convinced that more guns equals more gun violence, not less. The hypothetical question of "in a bad situation wouldn't you want to have a gun handy," in foolish. The answer is obviously yes, but so what?  My belief is guns do more harm than good. For every incident in which a gun saves the day, you've got hundreds in which one is misused.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.



    1. Care to be specific, or is your caps lock key that entertaining?

  2. Point by point, Goldberg's article takes down everything you've ever said on this subject, Mikeb. Of course you don't like it, but the facts and logic are in what he wrote. This wasn't in an NRA publication. It was in The Atlantic. Despite your short attention span, you ought to read the paragraph at the end on anti-gun advocates.

    And then you should consider that we've been telling you all of this for a while now. What you need to recognize is that this is evidence that our side is in the mainstream.

  3. Thanks for posting Mike. It was a long article, I am glad you took the time to read the whole thing. I liked it because it addressed many issues on both sides including some that are discussed here rather frequently. It also, IMO, did a good job of presenting both positions - even if it did favor ours more than yours.

    I think one of your fundamental logical fallacies is represent in your statement here:

    "The side effect of so many guns in society is twofold. Many are passed into the criminal world in various ways and too few of them are available when and where they're needed to stop crime. Increasing the numbers further will increase the bad part of that equation and not affect the other."

    You have got it completely backwards. The level of guns in the country would have to be reduced SIGNIFICANTLY before any real impact on their use in violent crimes would be impacted. By significantly, I am thinking a reduction of greater than 90% of their present numbers. And while reductions of that magnitude would likely have an impact on the use of guns during violent crime - violent crime in general would skyrocket just like it has in the UK.

    But on the other side of the equation, the laws you would have to implement to even obtain a small reduction would, would cripple the average citizen's ability to appreciate the protective benefit of firearms.

    1. No, FL, the 300 million guns already out there are not the problem. It's the ones that slip into criminal hands, some from among the 300 M and some new. My gun control suggestions target exactly the points in which guns pass from the law abiding to the criminals. So, no major reduction in the total number is required to have the desired results.

    2. Right, only they don't work as intended. How exactly does gun and gun owner registration stop that from happening? How does criminalizing a victim of a gun robbery stop that from happening?

      In fact, many of your proposals put a higher premium on a stolen gun and would likely increase gun theft and the property crimes that go along with it.

    3. And since registration would only work well on new guns, all those pre-existing guns become valuable on the black market.

  4. And regarding the study I posted:

    "Frail Liberty recently quoted a study which says CCW permit holders are 13 times safer than other gun owners."

    Correction, this was an evaluation of raw numbers more than it was a study and it was limited to folks in Texas. In showed that Texas CHL holders are 13 times safer than then general Texas population. It did not compare CHL holders to other gun owners.

    And to move that discussion to a more current thread, I am copying your last comment here (I hope you don't mind):

    "The reporting is faulty. Why do you find that so difficult to accept. What all of a sudden you believe the government agencies involved in producing those statistics are completely on the ball? Are they so different from the ATF or the IRS?"

    Because, this is a verifiable status of people convicted of crimes. It is not subjective, it is either yes or no. There is no reason to think it would be largely incorrect. Do you think they also screwed up the numbers of males and females? What about the age ranges? Do you think the Texas DPS has significant errors in those numbers as well? It is silly to think they somehow botched this one piece of non-subjective verifiable data.

    "Plus, I don't think it's accurate to say it's time comsuming and expensive. It's not. In some states it's literally nothing."

    Again, this is Texas only. The entire report and my explanation of the process is about Texas procedure to help explain the numbers coming out of Texas. Please keep the discussion on topic. (This is why you get accused of dodging so frequently).

    "And don't forget my other argument that many so-called DGUs are false. When you add that possibility into the mix, you're incredibly low percentage isn't so low anymore."

    Finally, this is a rebuttal with some validity. You are saying that many times the police and prosecutors don't pursue many incidents that in your mind are not legit DGU's - so those conviction numbers don't paint the full picture. I can accept that as a valid argument although i would question whether those numbers would be enough to account for the full disparity.

    1. Mikeb puts the number of legitimate defensive gun uses at between 500 and 1,000. That's so far off the mark of even the most conservative studies that he needs to provide strong evidence to support his notion. The problem is that he gives no evidence whatsoever.

    2. The solid numbers of people convicted of crimes is one thing, but verifying exactly which ones had a concealed carry permit or a fishing license, for that matter, is just not done.

      Some cases come to light, often through an investigative reporter. The stats are faulty.

      The race, age and other facts about the convicted person is different from their CCW permit, drivers license, library card or hunting license.

      Don't you see the difference?

    3. Library card and hunting license - of course there is a difference. The Texas DPS has no interest or responsibility for checking the status of those items.

      But age, sex, and CHL stauts are all verifiable information. Race can be somewhat subjective, so I would expect errors there.

      CHL licensing is handled by the Texas DPS - the same agency that handles the conviction process. CHL status is one of the variables that they check and record with every conviction. You are only kidding yourself if you think there are significant errors in the collection process.

      Here is the raw data directly from the Texas DPS:

      Look it over, download the PDF from a year or two. Look at it and tell me you really think they don't take their job seriously.

    4. Mikeb, a felon can have a library card and a driver's license. Hunting licenses are questionable--bow hunting may be allowed, but who cares? Voter registration and carry licenses are different from your other cards in that for both of those, being a felon is a disqualifying factor.

    5. I'll make a deal with you, FL. You explain to me how concealed carry guys could possibly be 13 times safer than the general public and I'll download and read those reports. You say the qualifying requirements, the costs and the time required are serious, I say they're not, at least not enough to account for such a huge difference.

      Please explain.

    6. Mike, are you willing to go the distance on this one particular issue with me? Mana E Mono? Stick it out to the end? No dodging or shifting? Even if it takes a few days?

      We don't have to come to an agreement, but we should be able to sift down to the lowest points of contention.

    7. I thought we were already doing that. Are you interrupting the process to revert back to criticism of my way of holding up my end. I'm not interested in that. It's bullshit on your part.

      In this moment, you seem to be the one avoiding the question. How in the world could CCW permit holders be 13 times better than the general public? That's at least the third time I've asked it.

    8. I am sorry Mike. I think you misunderstanding my intentions. I am at the airport right now but will tryvto explain later.

    9. Ok - sorry for the confusion. I was not trying to criticize you about this discussion and I am not avoiding the question. I was trying to establish some parameters for us to proceed.

      Getting to the bottom of things will likely involve lengthy postings and a bit of back and forth. It will take an investment of time and effort and it will likely take a few days - or even longer as I am currently traveling.

      I want to make sure you are on-board before I pour the effort into the process. That might mean continuing the discussion in a new post - if necessary. I was also hoping, by mentioning just you and me, to try to limit the contributions from others (like Laci, d.commie, Greg, etc.) on this one topic to help us stay on point.

      Does that make sense?

    10. I don't favor a limited discussion, but there's no surprise in that. To answer Mikeb's question, though, consider people who want carry licenses. Many of them are gun nuts, as he calls us. We value our gun rights. Are we going to commit crimes casually? Not likely. Then there's the background check, which I imagine to be more extensive than the one for buying a gun, but I haven't looked into that.

      But Mikeb, why are we thirteen times less likely to commit crimes? I don't have certainty to answer that. I also can't give a full explanation about the Higgs boson, but that works--if it's confirmed--without my help. You don't have to know why a fact is for it to be a fact.

      You can challenge the validity, but to do that, you have to provide evidence that the statement of fact is wrong. It's not enough to say that you don't like the fact or that you suspect it.

    11. Greg, I understand. It's just that this blog moves so fast that any true discussion is effectively neutered before it can even begin. Just when you start to get at the core of an issue, a new day brings a half a dozen new blog entries, democommie chimes in with a profanity laced barrage of meaningless unproductive drivel; and before you know it you can't even find the topic you were posting in.

      This blog is essentially a petri dish doped to culture only snarky comments and un-answerable attacks (from both sides). Any real attempt beneficial common ground searching or application of critical thinking gets overrun by the colony of e-snarki bacteria.

      And as I can not fairly request that Laci and DC not participate without limiting it to just Mike and I; I mentioned you by name as well. No offense intended.

      So if the Texas CHL conviction rate data I presented last week is meant to die a quick death inside the same petri dish that is this blog, then so be it. But I won't be a party to it. I won't waste my time in that way.

    12. And to be clear and completely fair: the more time I spend here the more I find myself resorting to the snark as well which is not my normal style. So that was not meant to be a directed attack at anyone.

      But it does lead me to believe that this blog, whether by design or accident or a little of both, fosters only the snark.

    13. I try to lead by example. In my own posts and comments the snarky personal attacks are mostly absent. I know there are exceptions, so please don't bother pointing them out, but by and large I try to keep it civil.

    14. No offense taken, Frail Liberty. I'd be glad to take part in a discussion on the facts and values of guns in our society. I tried that when I first came to this blog. But Laci and Democommie and Dog Gone were repeatedly insulting and unwilling to support their claims with reason. Other gun control advocates are the same way.

      What this leads me to believe is that we can't convince them. They are control freaks. The hope is that undecided people are reading this and see that we have the facts and the arguments on our side.

    15. Mike: A little sarcasm and a few snarky comments are not killers. It's just that actual conversation doesn't seem to be able to thrive and so the snark and the attacks are all that are left.

      Greg: That is the unfortunate thing. It is not always (or perhaps even often) the case that there is any convincing that can be done one way or the other. But it should be about understanding the entire issue better, understanding each other better, and boiling the issues down to the smallest points of contention.