1 (edited by John Hamler 2018-02-20 06:00:17)

Topic: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

In light of, but not to make light of,  the latest mass shooting in Florida...

First of all, I personally like thinking about (and writing about) psycho/sociopaths. It's interesting fodder for fiction and art --period--and should never be abridged or censored in books, movies, paintings, songs, or video games. Violence is often a dramatic catalyst for creativity. That's just the worldview we live with. Sad perhaps, but, without violence (how we commit, cope, or compartmentalize it; hell, even LOVE according to Pat Benatar is a battlefield) there would hardly be any need for art as we know it.

That being said...

Real world policy is a different animal. If "access" is how we define "liberty" then how do we, as "liberal/irreligious" Americans, discuss gun control without dismissing or disenfranchising those who cling to the Second Amendment as if it were American Gospel?

I'm just asking. Willing to debate...

2 (edited by njc 2018-02-18 00:58:50)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Read Jordan Peterson's =12 Rules for Life=, Rule 6.  He talks about the nihilistic impulses that lead to these things, and how 20th century (and 21st) philosophy and living has helped to create them.

This applies to truly random and non-political mass killings.  When a Bernie Sanders supporter tries to assassinate another party's congresscritters en masse, you have a different motivation, though one linked to modern academic philosophy as well.  If you teach people that everything is about groups of people clawing for power rather than about agreed-upon processes under law, then they will believe there is no morality beyond power, and no effective action but power.

Even if you won't believe the second paragraph, read Peterson's Chapter 6.  (I think it's 6:  Don't complain until you've put your own house in order.)

Edit:  Actual title: =Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World=.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Liberty has constraints. Your freedom to throw your fist out stops when it meets my face. You can't dump hazardous wastes into water supplies. You can't drive without seat belts or ride a Harley without a helmet without incurring a penalty. We live in a society, where the rights of all have to be considered. You can buy weapons, but not buy machine guns. Is it such a stretch that buying other weapons of mass destruction should be banned? For the public good? The wording of the Second Amendment can be debated until the cows come home, but the precedent (SCOTUS) has been established that one does not have a Constitutional right to have military-type people-killers. That mass -shooting incidents are a price we pay for "liberty" (Bill O'Reilly) is absurd. We, as a society, have established rules and regulations  in other areas of our contract with each other. Why gun ownership should have no constraints, as opposed to any other aspect of our compact as a civilization, defies logic.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

jack the knife wrote:

Why gun ownership should have no constraints, as opposed to any other aspect of our compact as a civilization, defies logic.

Unfortunately, for the majority of congress there is no logic beyond the support of the NRA for their reelection. Until we, as voters, kick the nitwits out and make it clear that in essence the buying of congress will no longer be tolerated, we shall remain a nation of mass killings by weapons the founding fathers never imagined. Just as there are logical restrictions on freedom of speech and all other rights, so too a rational electorate should demand the same for automatic weapons similar safeguards for the public as shouting "fire" in a crowded theater affords in limiting free speech. This from a gun owner's perspective. Take care. Vern

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

But automatic weapons are not at question here.  Semi-automatic weapons are.  The use of 'automatic' is a way of playing on ignorance.  Using that word when it does not apply marks you, in the mind of the Second Amendment supporter, either as ignorant yourself; or as one who would play on the ignorance of others and thus as one who argues in bad faith for support not supported by fact.  (Note the placement of the semicolon.)

How many of the loudest gun control advocates are protected by armed guards, paid either from the public treasury or from vast personal wealth unavailable to the poor inner city resident?

Crime in DC went down sharply after the Heller decision; crime in Chicago went down sharply after the McDonald decision.  Would you trade away the lives saved (among poor black people) for the lives lost in these shootings?  Remember that in the most recent case, the FBI was warned about the individual's existing threats and failed to act, thus making the deaths in some degree the FBI's fault.  (The distinction between kinds of fault are irrelevant to the question.)

The question should be 'Why do young people in today's society become so alienated that they turn to nihilism?'

Remember that before 9/11 the worst mass murder in American history did not involve a firearm.  The weapon was a can of gasoline.  In the Texas shooting case, the murderer drove past several theaters to one that proclaimed itself a gun-free zone.  He wanted unarmed victims.  And in the majority of these cases, when the mass murderer meets a competent, firearm-armed citizen, the killer turns his gun on himself--the act of a nihilist already determined to die.  (See Peterson's Rule-Six chapter.)

When you say that someone will not listen to your arguments, ask yourself whether you have listened to and understood his.  If you reject the more-guns-less-crime argument and the statistics supporting it, why do you reject them?  If you reject the Second Amendment arguments, why do you reject them?  Have you read the Heller and MacDonald decisions, concurrences, and dissents?  If not, do you owe it to yourself and others in this public policy debate to do so?  (You can find them online.)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

njc wrote:

But automatic weapons are not at question here.  Semi-automatic weapons are.  The use of 'automatic' is a way of playing on ignorance.  Using that word when it does not apply marks you, in the mind of the Second Amendment supporter, either as ignorant yourself; or as one who would play on the ignorance of others and thus as one who argues in bad faith for support not supported by fact.  (Note the placement of the semicolon.)

How many of the loudest gun control advocates are protected by armed guards, paid either from the public treasury or from vast personal wealth unavailable to the poor inner city resident?

Crime in DC went down sharply after the Heller decision; crime in Chicago went down sharply after the McDonald decision.  Would you trade away the lives saved (among poor black people) for the lives lost in these shootings?  Remember that in the most recent case, the FBI was warned about the individual's existing threats and failed to act, thus making the deaths in some degree the FBI's fault.  (The distinction between kinds of fault are irrelevant to the question.)

The question should be 'Why do young people in today's society become so alienated that they turn to nihilism?'

Remember that before 9/11 the worst mass murder in American history did not involve a firearm.  The weapon was a can of gasoline.  In the Texas shooting case, the murderer drove past several theaters to one that proclaimed itself a gun-free zone.  He wanted unarmed victims.  And in the majority of these cases, when the mass murderer meets a competent, firearm-armed citizen, the killer turns his gun on himself--the act of a nihilist already determined to die.  (See Peterson's Rule-Six chapter.)

When you say that someone will not listen to your arguments, ask yourself whether you have listened to and understood his.  If you reject the more-guns-less-crime argument and the statistics supporting it, why do you reject them?  If you reject the Second Amendment arguments, why do you reject them?  Have you read the Heller and MacDonald decisions, concurrences, and dissents?  If not, do you owe it to yourself and others in this public policy debate to do so?  (You can find them online.)

Of course "automatic" weapons are at issue. Semi-automatic weapons are easily made into automatic ones. The Second Amendment is a smoke screen for the NRA and manufacturers as well as other supporters of such weapons of mass destruction. The Second Amendment gives you no right as already proclaimed by the Supreme Court to own such weapons. If you take the Second Amendment to establish your right to own any weapon, then what would prevent people from owning other military type weapons, you know like say a nuclear bomb if you have no freaking restrictions. And if you accept that restriction what is the merit of allowing "automatic" weapons which are purely offensive weapons of killing and not designed for protecting oneself or property.

More guns, less crime? There may be less "crime" but not less gun killings. So, give me a break with selected statistics; we know how they work. They knew to restrict guns even in the old west where they eventually put restrictions on carrying them in certain public places. I own several guns and have no qualms with rational people owning reasonable guns. Automatic guns don't fit that category. And the rabid supporters think there is no reason to restrict people with known mental problems from purchasing an arsenal fit for an army.

There is reason and then there is lunacy in the debate over gun control. As with other rights, the right to bear arms should end when the public right to not be massacred in mass by an idiot with an automatic weapon is jeopardized. Yeah, I know I'm pissing against the wind, but it's better than normalizing mass murder which can be greatly reduced by sensible gun control without impeding anyone's so-called Second Amendment rights.  Take care. Vern

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

njc wrote:

Crime in DC went down sharply after the Heller decision; crime in Chicago went down sharply after the McDonald decision.

Can you link me up with studies that show this?

Memphis Trace

8 (edited by Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons 2018-02-18 17:35:38)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Sigh.  Another refuge from the outside world sullied.  OK, here's my contribution.  First, the debate is at the inevitable level.  We have a mass shooting.  Tragic.  Avoidable.  But it makes us all aware of the evil in people.  So, there are cries to control people.  Yes, they use the term, 'gun control,' but it is people that they really want to restrict.  Otherwise, there would be a push for laws that restrict criminals, and not law-abiding citizens. It is also a cry of those who want public policy decided by emotion, not reason.  The demand always starts with the cry, "don't just stand there, do something!"  Vague demands are then replaced by demanding laws that are already on the books.  It's not recognized that they are on the books, as they failed.  But maybe, this time, they will succeed.  (Now, what did Einstein say that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results?)  Witness, Biden's demand that 'armor piercing' bullets be banned, although they already had been--twice.  Inevitably, also, there is a slide--although it is "assault rifles" used, the push becomes for greater control over handguns. 

The ruling, Heller v DC, did indeed say that weapons in common usage among the people ("the militia) are protected, and that meant those commonly used in sports, hunting, and self-defense.  Scalia said that Miller v US allowed the prohibiting of "exotic weapons," including machine guns and assault weapons.  (It actually said that there has to be a rational relationship between the training of the militia and the weapon.  This would allow for assault weapons.)  Now, the thing about banning assault weapons is that they are identical in function, but not in appearance, to ordinary semi-automatics (which incidentally are not easily converted to automatic weapons.  You have to have expertise, gunsmithing knowledge, and the right equipment,)  The weapons in question (using Diane Feinstein's list) are used in about 2% of the crimes.  Yes, mass murderers use them, but they are often used to stop mass murderers as well (the Texas Church shooting, where a good guy with an AR-15 stopped a bad guy with an AR-15).

Nine out of ten mass killings occur in "gun-free zones."  They would be more accurately descirbed as "victime disarmament zones," and that is what we are talking about, victim disarmament.  I know, vern would say, we are talking about "automatic weapons," (he used the slide from SA to automatic that is so often in victim disarmament debates).  But the slide is always to guns used for self-defense, sports, and hunting. Let's also be clear about the meaning of "assault weapon"--it means scary looking one.  Diane Feinstein's white list had identical guns allowed that were banned, but they didn't scare her.  No jumping up on a table top in their presence.  (Ironically, that makes her bill constitutional, as, if the identical weapon is allowed and banned, then, since it is allowed, no harm, no foul).

Gun violence has dropped in inverse relationship to the proliferation of guns, and right to carry laws.  Even some victim disarmament advocates recognize this.  I read an editorial in the New York Times where this statistic was given, and the writer then went on to say, yes, homicide has plummetted in States with right to carry laws, but justified homicides (victims protecting themselves), has skyrocketed.  He referred to victims defending themselves as "aggressors," and those who attacked them as victims.  (Most gun deaths are suicides, btw. 2/3rd, in fact.  As I believe that you have a right to sucide, whether by guns or by physician-assistance, this is ok with me.  Not that I think we shouldn't get people help, and sure, force gun stores to carry suicide-prevention hotline information.)

This isn't to say that somethings can't be done that are both constitutional and consistent with natural rights.  Putting bump stocks on the FFA list doesn't interfere with the training of people (in fact bump stocks counter the training, as they interfere with accuracy and ruin your gun).  Having the military put dishonorable and medical discharges into the national database would help, as would training the FBI in elementary geography, so the person running the check doesn't confuse North and South Carolina.  When police ignore a psychiatrist's information that a man is dangerously psychotic and he should not be ignored, that would be nice (the Holmes case), and the FBI following up on tips about a school shooter too.  And yes perhaps the age for buying scary looking guns should be raised to 21.  After all, if you have to have an adult buy your liquour, why not your gun?

I'll end by asking the question, to vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Memphis Trace wrote:
njc wrote:

Crime in DC went down sharply after the Heller decision; crime in Chicago went down sharply after the McDonald decision.

Can you link me up with studies that show this?

Memphis Trace

I can't offhand, although i keep a bibliography on gun control which I would gladly share, but it's a holiday weekend and I'm lazy. But go to John Lott's website, or for that matter, the CDC's, although the latter bury it in an avalanche of citations.  (They are prohibited from doing research leading to gun control, but Obama decided that they weren't prohibited from doing research into gun violence, so did an end-run around the prohibition.  Turned out he was right to make the distinction--the study actually is now used by the NRA; the only way, it didn't go the RNA's way had to do with suicides.  You are more likely to commit suicide if you're a gun owner.)

10 (edited by Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons 2018-02-18 18:36:22)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

vern wrote:
jack the knife wrote:

Why gun ownership should have no constraints, as opposed to any other aspect of our compact as a civilization, defies logic.

Unfortunately, for the majority of congress there is no logic beyond the support of the NRA for their reelection. Until we, as voters, kick the nitwits out and make it clear that in essence the buying of congress will no longer be tolerated, we shall remain a nation of mass killings by weapons the founding fathers never imagined. Just as there are logical restrictions on freedom of speech and all other rights, so too a rational electorate should demand the same for automatic weapons similar safeguards for the public as shouting "fire" in a crowded theater affords in limiting free speech. This from a gun owner's perspective. Take care. Vern

Let's do a substitution, keeping the form of the argument correct.  "Unfortnately, for the majority of congress there is no logic beyond the support of the Sierra Club for their reelection.  Until we, as voters, kick the nitwits out and make it clear that in essence the buying of congress will no longer be tolerated, we will be a nation of high unemployment, economic stagnation, and the inability to internationally compete..."

The fallacy should be clear. (The environmentalist lobby is the one that spends the most money and has had the most success in getting its agenda through.)

And it is the height of arrogance to think that those with different moral principles must be "bought" by corrupt and sinister forces. 

And sure, "automatic" weapons, i.e., "scary weapons," should be subject to some restriction.  Most States require a license to carry in public, and want them concealed, so as to not scare people.  (Although, the common law right is one to open-carry defensive weapons. This would be the "historical protection," as defined by Courts applying Heller v DC, not the right to carry concealed.)  I wouldn't personally carry a rifle slung over my shoulder anywhere but in Pennsylvania, where you can carry a loaded semi-automatic rifle, but not an unloaded handgun. But in general, anywhere that I go where I can be shot, I want the right to shoot back. (And even the CDC concluded that right to carry does not increase danger to the public.)

Some changes in the law will happen because of this latest shooting.  But i found it interesting (citation supplied upon request--see comment about being lazy) that more States respond to mass shooting by making firearms more readily available to ordinary citizens (thus, allowing them greater ability to fight back) than do by increasing restrictions.  (Those that do find unenforceable laws.  The law in NY to register 'assault weapons' have met with 2% compliance; when Stockton passed a law banning 'high capacity' magazines and requring that they be turned in, they had 0% compliance.  This was such a spactacular success that the people of California passed a similar law State wide. Even Australia's gun confiscation has only had a 5% to 20% success rate--depending on whom you talk to.  It's touted success in dropping homicide rates--which were dropping down before--is thus not based on valid causal inferences.)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

I'll end by asking the question, to vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

No one, especially me, is asking to disarm anyone of sensible defense. Let's be clear, if someone wishes to ambush you with an automatic (yes I use that term because that is what it is or becomes in the matter we're talking about) there is no defense. Even if every citizen were armed with an automatic weapon, they would never get the chance to use it in most cases before mass carnage had already happened. Sure you can kill people, several people, with typical guns of what could logically be called upon for self-defense or sport, but you could not cause the mass killings with bursts of hundreds of rounds by pulling the trigger for a few seconds and spraying everyone in sight. And to call using an automatic weapon for sport is ludicrous. I've stated I'm a gun owner and would never deny anyone that Second Amendment right, but that does not extend to basically military grade weapons designed for mass killing and not self-defense other than in theaters of war.

Yes, everyone knows it is people who kill people, not guns, but the same could be said for automobiles and other products which are regulated for the safety of the public as a whole. You have air bags and seat belts in cars not because cars kill people, but because people driving them kill people including themselves. And it is a given that no amount of regulation will stop all car deaths any more than sensible regulations will stop all gun deaths, but it is also true that many lives have been saved despite the initial opposition to seat belts and likeminded regulations. Common sense should dictate stopping as many senseless mass shootings as possible by sensible gun control; not banning all guns or taking anyone's Second Amendment rights away anymore than the safety regulations imposed on vehicles violates anyone's privilege to have a car, but they can't drive a tank down the street. Take care. Vern

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

I'll end by asking the question, to Vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

Japan has very strict gun laws. Total deaths in Japan by guns in 2014: 6. Total deaths in the US by guns in 2014: 33,599.
Just saying.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

And sure, "automatic" weapons, i.e., "scary weapons," should be subject to some restriction.

Good. Add the word "reasonable" to those restrictions and we're in agreement. Never argued for anything less. All talk of taking away Second Amendment rights is smoke screen. Take care. Vern

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

And it is the height of arrogance to think that those with different moral principles must be "bought" by corrupt and sinister forces.

Different moral principals? Are you suggesting that our esteemed congress despite their public decrying the mass shootings don't really morally condemn them? You just might be right on that count because they keep offering their moral indignation but it's always not the time to do anything about it in the heat of the moment. Problem is there is never a right time to take action against their benefactors, morals be damned if they exist. So if they have the same moral indignation they profess, then they are indeed "bought" by the corrupt and sinister forces you refer to. And there is no "arrogance" against opposing moral principles if you accept their public claims of such principles. If you don't accept those claims of moral indignation, then there is no moral principal on their part to claim as different than mine, only hypocrisy. Take care. Vern

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Norm d'Plume wrote:
Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

I'll end by asking the question, to Vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

Japan has very strict gun laws. Total deaths in Japan by guns in 2014: 6. Total deaths in the US by guns in 2014: 33,599.
Just saying.

Japanese commit suicide with swords.  lol

16 (edited by Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons 2018-02-18 20:42:47)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

vern wrote:
Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

I'll end by asking the question, to vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

No one, especially me, is asking to disarm anyone of sensible defense. Let's be clear, if someone wishes to ambush you with an automatic (yes I use that term because that is what it is or becomes in the matter we're talking about) there is no defense. Even if every citizen were armed with an automatic weapon, they would never get the chance to use it in most cases before mass carnage had already happened. Sure you can kill people, several people, with typical guns of what could logically be called upon for self-defense or sport, but you could not cause the mass killings with bursts of hundreds of rounds by pulling the trigger for a few seconds and spraying everyone in sight. And to call using an automatic weapon for sport is ludicrous. I've stated I'm a gun owner and would never deny anyone that Second Amendment right, but that does not extend to basically military grade weapons designed for mass killing and not self-defense other than in theaters of war.

Take care. Vern

None of the mass murders since 1972 (maybe since the '30's) have involved automatic weapons.  Yes, often, rifles that mimic, in style, automatic weapons. (In the Isla Vista case, a Glock and a knife.  Half were killed by stabbing.)  In all but one of the mass murders in that time frame, a handgun could have taken out the shooter.  And there are plenty of defenses, even cowering in a bathroom, hoping the shooter won't notice you. (Worked really well at the Pulse, if I recall.) The scenario that most closely resembles yours was the Las Vegas shooting, in which, unless people had their own AR-15's slung over their shoulders, they really wasn't a defense (well, except for an alert security force and a call for an armed posse once the shooting started).  That involved a bump stock, not an automatic weapon.  And yes, I think there is a case for banning or at least restricting bump stocks, including them under the FFA, as long as there isn't a general ban on accessories.  They harm the firing pin of your gun, reduce your accuracy to almost the limiting case, so would "have no rational relationship to the training of the militia," even under the Founders interpretation of 'militia' (like everybody). True automatic weapons are severely limited, banned by several states, and to get one, you have to pass a background check, submit two photo id's and register your weapon (not to mention shell out the $10,000 purchase price, which may be doing more to limit their use than a ban).  You then need a 'love letter' from the local CLEO.  ("Vern's a good old boy; he deserves a machine gun for varmint hunting.") 

Although, in general, arguments that the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to modern weapons are unsound (Yes, the 1st Amendment only applies to anything printed on a Gutenberg press--no. smh.  I agree with Justice Gorsuch that, for instance, in the digital age, 4th Amendment rights should extend to electronic communication, how extensively for the whole Court to decide.), the Founders did make a distinction between weapons in common usage among the people ("the militia") and weapons used by the army.  Cannons, for instance.  You had no constitutional right to a cannon.   

The AR-15 is the tomato of the issue.  Under Heller v DC, weapons in "common usage" for self-defense, sports, and hunting were protected under Miller v the US, but "exotic" weapons, e.g., machine guns and assault weapons, weren't.  (Miller, though, was about sawed off shotguns.  Oh, well.)  The trouble is, the AR-15 is both--20% of rile purchases are AR-15's and they are "assault," i.e., "scary," weapons.  It's probably best to leave that up to legislatures, and ban the ones that are black but allow the ones that are pink (pink not being a scary color).  That's what some States have decided to do, and SCOTUS has, so far, declined to speak about it. It is not w/o political peril, not because the NRA has a Kryptonian mind control device in Wayne's closet, but because "the people are the ultimate guardians of liberty," and I think most Americans understand, at a visceral level, the relationship between self-defense, defense of country, and the perrenial struggle against tyranny.  Or maybe they don't won't benevolent and wise men like Trump and Sessons deciding what weapons they get to use.  And let's be clear, that is what we are talking about with gun control at the federal level.

Be safe, Rachel

PS:  Yes, there are people demanding to deprive ordinary citizens of self-defense.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:
vern wrote:
Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

I'll end by asking the question, to vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

No one, especially me, is asking to disarm anyone of sensible defense. Let's be clear, if someone wishes to ambush you with an automatic (yes I use that term because that is what it is or becomes in the matter we're talking about) there is no defense. Even if every citizen were armed with an automatic weapon, they would never get the chance to use it in most cases before mass carnage had already happened. Sure you can kill people, several people, with typical guns of what could logically be called upon for self-defense or sport, but you could not cause the mass killings with bursts of hundreds of rounds by pulling the trigger for a few seconds and spraying everyone in sight. And to call using an automatic weapon for sport is ludicrous. I've stated I'm a gun owner and would never deny anyone that Second Amendment right, but that does not extend to basically military grade weapons designed for mass killing and not self-defense other than in theaters of war.

Take care. Vern

None of the mass murders since 1972 (maybe since the '30's) have involved automatic weapons.  Yes, often, rifles that mimic, in style, automatic weapons. (In the Isla Vista case, a Glock and a knife.  Half were killed by stabbing.)  In all but one of the mass murders in that time frame, a handgun could have taken out the shooter.  And there are plenty of defenses, even cowering in a bathroom, hoping the shooter won't notice you. (Worked really well at the Pulse, if I recall.) The scenario that most closely resembles yours was the Las Vegas shooting, in which, unless people had their own AR-15's slung over their shoulders, they really wasn't a defense (well, except for an alert security force and a call for an armed posse once the shooting started).  That involved a bump stock, not an automatic weapon.  And yes, I think there is a case for banning or at least restricting bump stocks, including them under the FFA, as long as there isn't a general ban on accessories.  They harm the firing pin of your gun, reduce your accuracy to almost the limiting case, so would "have no rational relationship to the training of the militia," even under the Founders interpretation of 'militia' (like everybody). True automatic weapons are severely limited, banned by several states, and to get one, you have to pass a background check, submit two photo id's and register your weapon (not to mention shell out the $10,000 purchase price, which may be doing more to limit their use than a ban).  You then need a 'love letter' from the local CLEO.  ("Vern's a good old boy; he deserves a machine gun for varmint hunting.") 

Although, in general, arguments that the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to modern weapons are unsound (Yes, the 1st Amendment only applies to anything printed on a Gutenberg press--no. smh.  I agree with Justice Gorsuch that, for instance, in the digital age, 4th Amendment rights should extend to electronic communication, how extensively for the whole Court to decide.), the Founders did make a distinction between weapons in common usage among the people ("the militia") and weapons used by the army.  Cannons, for instance.  You had no constitutional right to a cannon.   

The AR-15 is the tomato of the issue.  Under Heller v DC, weapons in "common usage" for self-defense, sports, and hunting were protected under Miller v the US, but "exotic" weapons, e.g., machine guns and assault weapons, weren't.  (Miller, though, was about sawed off shotguns.  Oh, well.)  The trouble is, the AR-15 is both--20% of rile purchases are AR-15's and they are "assault," i.e., "scary," weapons.  It's probably best to leave that up to legislatures, and ban the ones that are black but allow the ones that are pink (pink not being a scary color).  That's what some States have decided to do, and SCOTUS has, so far, declined to speak about it. It is not w/o political peril, not because the NRA has a Kryptonian mind control device in Wayne's closet, but because "the people are the ultimate guardians of liberty," and I think most Americans understand, at a visceral level, the relationship between self-defense, defense of country, and the perrenial struggle against tyranny.  Or maybe they don't won't benevolent and wise men like Trump and Sessons deciding what weapons they get to use.  And let's be clear, that is what we are talking about with gun control at the federal level.

Be safe, Rachel

PS:  Yes, there are people demanding to deprive ordinary citizens of self-defense.

You can call them exotic, assault, machine guns, Tommy-guns, automatic, freaking fire ants if you wish and the result is the same. They are not defensive weapons. And no one that I know of is trying to prevent ordinary guns whether hand guns, rifles, shotguns, pellet guns, or whatever a sane person might possibly need or want for sport or self-defense. If nukes were as readily available as automatic weapons I suppose it would be okay for everyone to have one for self-defense. Good luck with that one. Take care. Vern

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

vern wrote:

Good luck with that one. Take care. Vern

Arguing with advocates of keeping weapons of war in the hands of non-soldier citizens is a waste of time.  There are 10 standard arguments that are replayed over and over in a thousand debates going on every minute.  Both sides have taken it to an art, and nothing new comes out of it.  The only argument they can’t sensibly rebut is why this is a uniquely American problem.  No other developed country in the world has kids slaughtering kids with weapons of war on school campuses on a regular basis.  And no other developed country in the world makes it so easy to put weapons of war into the hands of their citizens.  Only morons and the hopelessly belligerent fail to make that connection—and an argument with either type is a waste of time.  The solution takes will.  It begins by voting for leaders who don’t support putting weapons of war in the hands of non-soldiers.  And only then can we find a way to “start” to bring sensibility to the forefront of this debate.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Randy B wrote:
vern wrote:

Good luck with that one. Take care. Vern

Arguing with advocates of keeping weapons of war in the hands of non-soldier citizens is a waste of time.  There are 10 standard arguments that are replayed over and over in a thousand debates going on every minute.  Both sides have taken it to an art, and nothing new comes out of it.  The only argument they can’t sensibly rebut is why this is a uniquely American problem.  No other developed country in the world has kids slaughtering kids with weapons of war on school campuses on a regular basis.  And no other developed country in the world makes it so easy to put weapons of war into the hands of their citizens.  Only morons and the hopelessly belligerent fail to make that connection—and an argument with either type is a waste of time.  The solution takes will.  It begins by voting for leaders who don’t support putting weapons of war in the hands of non-soldiers.  And only then can we find a way to “start” to bring sensibility to the forefront of this debate.

Yes, I agree it is a waste of time, but possibly a better waste of time than some other things I might be doing, lol. Thanks for the input. Take care. Vern

20 (edited by Memphis Trace 2018-02-19 07:00:45)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:
Memphis Trace wrote:
njc wrote:

Crime in DC went down sharply after the Heller decision; crime in Chicago went down sharply after the McDonald decision.

Can you link me up with studies that show this?

Memphis Trace

I can't offhand, although i keep a bibliography on gun control which I would gladly share, but it's a holiday weekend and I'm lazy. But go to John Lott's website, or for that matter, the CDC's, although the latter bury it in an avalanche of citations.  (They are prohibited from doing research leading to gun control, but Obama decided that they weren't prohibited from doing research into gun violence, so did an end-run around the prohibition.  Turned out he was right to make the distinction--the study actually is now used by the NRA; the only way, it didn't go the RNA's way had to do with suicides.  You are more likely to commit suicide if you're a gun owner.)

Is the John Lott you are touting the same as the subject of the following article?:

The GOP’s favorite gun ‘academic’ is a fraud
The journalistic quest for neutrality has led to a sacrifice of intellectual integrity.

EVAN DEFILIPPIS, DEVIN HUGHES
AUG 12, 2016, 4:45 PM

John Lott is, if not the most influential, certainly the most prolific “academic” in the gun debate. He has authored weekly columns in local newspapers on the horrors of gun free zones, published widely-distributed books on the ostensible benefits of right-to-carry laws, and his newest book The War on Guns has received rave reviews by prominent conservatives, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Newt Gingrich.

Before Lott’s flurry of activity, it was difficult to find anybody arguing that widespread gun ownership made societies safer—even the NRA was reticent to make such a bold claim, defending gun ownership with reference to the constitution, not criminology.

But Lott’s recent successes belie a far more shadowy past. A little over a decade ago, he was disgraced and his career was in tatters. Not only was Lott’s assertion that more guns leads to more safety formally repudiated by a National Research Council panel, but he had also been caught pushing studies with severe statistical errors on numerous occasions. An investigation uncovered that he had almost certainly fabricated an entire survey on defensive gun use. And a blogger revealed that Mary Rosh, an online commentator claiming to be a former student of Lott’s who would frequently post about how amazing he was, was in fact John Lott himself. He was all but excommunicated from academia.

Despite his ethical failings, Lott rose from the ashes in the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to once more become a prominent voice in the gun debate.

Perhaps unaware of Lott’s previous transgressions, or believing he had turned a new page by founding the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), many in the media who were desperate for an authoritative, pro-gun academic voice seized on Lott’s credentials and provided him with a new platform. In the past few years, Lott and his organization have been cited by dozens of media outlets as an authority on gun violence statistics, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Politifact, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and many others.

However, the media’s newfound faith in John Lott is deeply misguided. Rather than turn a new page, Lott has instead returned to his old playbook and used his platform to deceive the public. Our own multi-year investigation into Lott and his organization has uncovered a startling array of new ethical violations, ranging from the profoundly bizarre to the outright fraudulent.

Here are just five of the most troubling incidents:

Last fall, Lott’s website proudly declared it published a study in a peer-reviewed journal. “CPRC Has New Refereed Publication in Econ Journal Watch: Explaining a Bias in Recent Studies on Right-to-Carry Laws” blared the headline on his website. A link to a downloadable copy of the paper also touts its place in the economic journal.

Having a study accepted in a peer-reviewed journal was a big win for Lott, boosting both his own reputation and that of the CPRC. After all, this would be one of the few publications in recent history that Lott dared subject to peer-review.

The only problem? The paper was never actually published in the Econ Journal Watch.

As the head editor of the journal explained to us, while Lott’s paper had initially been considered for publication, it was ultimately rejected. The issue of the journal Lott said he was published in has no trace of his paper. It is impossible for Lott to have not known his paper was in fact rejected, and it would have taken little effort to correct both the post on the CPRC website and the uploaded paper on SSRN. This is a clear cut case of fraud.

Lott often claims that there is no difference between the frequency of public shootings in Europe and the United States. This is unabashedly false—but he continues to spread the falsehood anyway.

In February, he made the claim before the Tennessee Senate. “Most people may not realize this, but the rate of mass public shootings in Europe is actually fairly similar to the rate in the United States,” he said. “There is no statistically significant difference there, either in terms of the rate or fatalities.”

A couple of months earlier, he said something similar to the Washington Post, which quickly highlighted that his analysis was quite different from that of other experts in the field. As the Post noted, while Lott said the per capita rates of mass shootings in Europe and the United States were approximately the same, another researcher found the U.S. rate to be five times higher. The Post explained that the gulf between the results was due to Lott and the other researcher using different definitions.

But there is an even simpler explanation for the differing conclusions: Lott wasn’t being honest about his own findings.

While Lott claims the per capita rate in the United States and Europe are approximately the same, his own data tables tell a different story. Accepting his data at face value, between 2009 and 2015, the United States had 25 mass shootings versus 19 in the E.U. and 24 in Europe as a whole. This comes out as a rate of .078 shootings per million individuals in the United States, .038 for the E.U., and .032 for Europe as a whole. The United States has more than double the mass shooting rate of the E.U. and Europe, directly contradicting Lott’s statements about his own data.

Further, Lott’s carefully crafted criteria to include an incident as a mass shooting is highly suspect. Lott goes to great lengths to exclude mass shootings that are the result of burglaries and gang violence, but he includes terrorist attacks. This choice means that while the Texas biker gang gunfight last summer is excluded in his statistics, the November Paris attacks, which accounted for more than one-third of Europe’s mass shooting fatalities, are included.

However, when scholars study these mass shootings, they frequently exclude terrorist attacks from the analysis, for much the same reason Lott excludes burglaries and gang violence: the motivations are different. When researchers use a more appropriate set of criteria, the chasm between the rate of mass shootings in Europe and the United States widens even further. Researchers can also include all incidents of mass shootings (regardless of motivation) or use complex statistical analysis to determine whether the mass shooting difference between the United States and Europe is significant. The result remains the same—the United States fares far worse.

All of these methods point to the same conclusion: even if Lott wasn’t lying about his own results, his analysis would still be deeply flawed.

In their paper “The Impact of Right-to-Carry Laws on Crime: An Exercise in Replication,” Carlisle Moody, a CPRC board member, and three co-authors examine the impact of right-to-carry (RTC) laws on violent crime and critique an earlier study by John Donohue and his colleagues.

Donohue and his colleagues had concluded that the most significant effect of concealed carry laws is an increase in aggravated assault, but Moody et al. reported that: “the most robust result, confirmed using both county and state data, is that RTC laws significantly reduce murder. There is no robust, consistent evidence that RTC laws have any significant effect on other violent crimes, including assault.” This result fits well with Lott’s long established hypothesis that concealed carry significantly decreases crime, and the authors interpret it as a direct repudiation of Donohue’s results.

But there’s just one problem. Moody and his co-authors misread their own analysis.

As Table 3 on page 7 (pictured below) clearly demonstrates, the increase in aggravated assault for county level data is statistically significant, yet is not bolded by the authors like all the other statistically significant findings. In statistics, a result is usually considered significant if there is a less than 5 percent chance that the result is due to random chance, meaning it has a “t-statistic” greater than 1.96. A significant result in turn means that the authors of a study can put a higher degree of confidence in their finding. As the table below shows, the “stat” for the “post-law trend” for “Assault” (highlighted with a red box) has t-statistics of 2.8 and 2.25 for the general and specific model respectively. Further, the result itself is a positive number, indicating an increase in assault.

Nowhere in the Moody paper does it explain why significant T-stats are un-bolded, and it remains undiscussed in the conclusion, despite the fact that it directly undermines the thrust of their entire paper. Ironically, their paper actually supports Donohue’s finding that RTC laws significantly increase aggravated assaults.

Had Moody and his co-authors reported their own results correctly, they would have been left with the puzzling conundrum of concealed carry laws both reducing murder and increasing aggravated assaults. This finding flies in the face of well-established criminological facts and indicates the paper is likely crippled by bad statistical modeling choices.

This isn’t the first time that Lott and his allies have pushed studies with convenient errors that make the results appear to fit their more guns, less crime hypothesis.

As Ian Ayres and Donohue described in a brutal takedown of Lott and his allies’ research, there were at least two previous cases where Lott used this tactic. The first time, Lott presented a series of graphs to the National Academy of Sciences, which David Mustard, one of Lott’s allies, then decided to include in a comment for a 2003 Brookings Institute book. When Donohue demonstrated the results were the product of fatal coding errors, Lott’s ally was forced to withdraw those graphs from the book. Also in 2003, Lott supported (and initially co-authored) a paper appearing in the Stanford Law Review by Plassman and Whitley that also appeared to support the more guns, less crime hypothesis. Again, Donohue proved that their results were based on coding errors, undermining the authors’ central claim.

Given the extensive history of Lott supporting erroneous research, one is forced to wonder whether Moody and his colleagues were influenced at all by the thank you note at the beginning of their paper: “The authors thank The Crime Prevention Research Center for its support.”

After the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June, Lott published a piece in which he wrote, “Since at least as far back as 1950, all but three U.S. mass public shootings (with more than three fatalities) have occurred in places where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms.”

This claim has been a staple for Lott, who has repeated it in various forms in numerous articles, usually phrasing it as areas “where citizens were banned from carrying guns.” To support his contention, Lott cites his own report analyzing different aspects of mass shootings.

However, what Lott repeats in public is quite different from what his report actually shows. While Lott’s public statements equate gun-free zones with areas that prohibit concealed carry, his mass shooting report expands the gun-free zone definition to include areas where Lott feels it might be difficult to obtain a permit or where there might not be many permit holders despite being able to legally carry. Indeed, Lott admits in the report that more than six mass public shootings in the past six years have occurred in areas that legally allow citizens to carry their firearms, a direct contradiction of his public statements.

And not only does Lott mischaracterize his own research, but the research itself is also filled with significant errors.

In October 2015, after a student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon opened fire in a classroom, killing nine others, the CPRC website immediately proclaimed: “Umpqua Community College is yet Another Mass Public Shooting in a Gun-Free Zone.” As evidence, Lott cited the student handbook and the fact that the campus guards were not allowed to carry.

However, while it is true that campus guards were unarmed, Lott’s claim that concealed carry was prohibited is definitively false. Public colleges in Oregon are prohibited from banning guns on campus, thanks to a 2011 state court decision. The Umpqua Community College student handbook also expressly states that there is an exception to the prohibition of firearms “as expressly authorized by law or college regulations.” This includes concealed carry permits.

“UCC was never designated as a ‘gun-free zone’ by any signage or policy,” Umpqua Community College spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis told Politifact shortly after the shooting. “Umpqua Community College does comply with state law by allowing students with concealed carry licenses to bring firearms on campus.”

Not only was Umpqua not a gun-free zone by policy and law, it also wasn’t a gun-free zone in practice. Multiple reports at the time revealed that there were several armed students on campus at the time of the shooting.

In June 2010, a gunman in Hialeah, Florida targeted his estranged wife who was working at the Yoyito Cafe-Restaurant, killing her and three other women before taking his own life. And again, Lott classified the shooting as taking place in a gun-free zone.

As Lott noted, under Florida law, guns are not allowed in establishments that primarily serve alcohol. As proof that this shooting took place in a gun-free zone, Lott argued that the Yoyito Cafe Restaurant was a popular destination for parties where alcohol was served, and because it primarily served alcohol, the restaurant was a gun-free zone.

That logic is absurd. Serving alcohol at parties is in no way indicative that an establishment is primarily devoted to selling alcohol. Even a cursory glance at the restaurant’s reviews clearly indicate that Yoyito is a small Cuban restaurant devoted to selling traditional dishes.

Furthermore, Lott completely ignores the pertinent Florida law regarding restaurants with bars. A letter from the concealed weapons division of the Florida Department of Agriculture clearly notes that the law is written in such a way as to “allow the carrying of firearms in restaurants or similar businesses that primarily serve food but that also happen to serve alcohol as well.” In other words, the serving area where patrons are dining in a restaurant does not constitute the part of the establishment primarily devoted to the sale and consumption of alcohol.” By law, the Yoyito Cafe was clearly not a gun-free zone at the time of the shooting.

“Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun to protect myself” read the headline of a piece on Fox News in August 2014.

The first person account was a harrowing story about teenager Taylor Woolrich’s desperate attempts to escape and protect herself from a persistent stalker who was ruining her life. The article blasted Dartmouth for not allowing her to carry a gun, and noted that carrying a gun was the only way she could remain truly safe.

The story quickly went viral, and is one that’s still brought up by right-wing gun activists. But Woolrich didn’t actually write the article.

As a BuzzFeed investigation later revealed, Lott, who is neither a young female nor a stalking victim, was the one who penned the piece. Indeed, Woolrich’s article is almost a copy and paste rendition of a previous article published by Lott on the Daily Caller.

“It’s his op-ed… Word for word, except the chunks that match what’s said in my speech,” Woolrich later told BuzzFeed. “It’s not like John Lott held a gun to my head and told me to talk to the media… I wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking.”

Despite reservations about her message being co-opted, Taylor agreed to have him help her write for Fox, worrying: “I don’t know if I should just say yes and not piss him off.” Eventually, Woolrich changed her number and completely broke off contact with Lott.

“I was trying to be brave and just speak up,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was being turned into an NRA puppet.”

While Woolrich may have been eager to share her story at first, this doesn’t excuse the fact that Lott wrote a first person narrative on behalf of someone else, using his own words. When a Fox editor later thanked Lott for the piece, Lott replied, “It was actually easier for me to write this in the first person for her than the way I had originally written it.”

This isn’t the first time Lott has written in the first-person female voice. Back in the early 2000s, Lott and his research were coming under increasing fire from the academic community. Mary Rosh, claiming to be a former student of Lott’s, rose to his defense in online chatrooms and comment sections. She praised Lott as the best professor she had ever had and took deep offense whenever somebody questioned Lott’s research. A few online commenters found her passion rather bizarre, consoling her: “I’m sorry if you’re taking this personally, but you are not John Lott.”

Except she actually was. A blogger matched Lott’s IP address with that of Mary Rosh, and a humiliated Lott was forced to admit that he and Mary were the same person.

As conservative journalist Michelle Malkin emphasized at the time, “Lott’s invention of Mary Rosh to praise his own research and blast other scholars is beyond creepy. And it shows his extensive willingness to deceive to protect and promote his work.”

Why does the media still rely on John Lott?

In an attempt to appear fair and balanced, news outlets have offered John Lott a platform to debate a subject for which there really is not two sides. Gun violence is decidedly uncontroversial among scholars: more guns cause more suicides, homicides, and accidents.

These are the arguments being made by serious academics in peer-reviewed journals from Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Johns Hopkins. On the other side of the debate, you have John Lott, a handful of conservative academics on the board of the CPRC, Gary Kleck, and a few others.

Much like the public debate over climate change, the journalistic quest for neutrality in discussing gun control has led to a sacrifice of intellectual integrity and honesty. Over the past two decades, John Lott has routinely demonstrated an unwillingness to engage honestly in the gun violence debate. Lott is not a credible source, and it’s time the media stop treating him as such.

Update: Since the publication of this article, the description of the study Lott claimed to have published in the Econ Journal Watch has been corrected on the Social Science Research website. An archived version of the paper touting its publication in the journal is still available here. The news of the study has also been changed on the CPRC website, removing the reference of it being published in the Econ Journal Watch. The original headline touting this publication is still evident in the URL, and an archived version of this news on the CPRC website is still available here.

Memphis Trace

21 (edited by Memphis Trace 2018-02-19 09:09:18)

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

I'll end by asking the question, to vern and anyone else--how does disarming me (or any victim) make you safer?

If the state disarms you and disables your gun, it prevents your (or any victim's gun) from ever being used to harm me or my loved ones.

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

Although, in general, arguments that the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to modern weapons are unsound (Yes, the 1st Amendment only applies to anything printed on a Gutenberg press--no. smh.  I agree with Justice Gorsuch that, for instance, in the digital age, 4th Amendment rights should extend to electronic communication, how extensively for the whole Court to decide.), the Founders did make a distinction between weapons in common usage among the people ("the militia") and weapons used by the army.  Cannons, for instance.  You had no constitutional right to a cannon.

Without going off into the weeds on a 1st Amendment detour, several lower courts have held since the Heller decision that the 2nd Amendment doesn't protect the right to bear "modern" weapons for protection. I think, in fact, Heller himself filed and lost a second lawsuit against the District government's ban on assault weapons. Heller has appealed the case. In similar cases as Heller's second suit, the SCOTUS has refused to review laws banning assault weapons

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

Be safe, Rachel

Back atcha, Memphis Trace

Rachel (Rhiannon) Parsons wrote:

PS:  Yes, there are people demanding to deprive ordinary citizens of self-defense.

PS: I am old and the wolves are after me, so I won't live long enough to see the 2nd Amendment repealed, but I am one of those people who believe more Americans would be safer and better defended if the only people who could own guns were the well-regulated police and military and other government officials with the sudden need to quickly kill human beings or rabid animals.

This from neoconservative, and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Bret Stephens (when he was with The Wall Street Journal makes the case more eloquently):

To Repeat: Repeal the Second Amendment (Emphasis mine)

Bret Stephens FEB. 16, 2018

Had Wednesday’s massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school been different in one respect—that is, had alleged perpetrator Nikolas Cruz shouted “Allahu akbar” during the course of his rampage—conservatives would be demanding another round of get-tough measures.

Tougher immigration laws. Tougher domestic surveillance. A rollback of Miranda rights for the accused. Possibly even a Muslim registry. Constitutional protections and American ideals, goes the argument, must sometimes yield to urgent public safety concerns.

But Cruz, like Las Vegas’s Stephen Paddock or Newtown’s Adam Lanza and so many other mass murderers before them, is just another killer without a cause. Collectively, their carnages account for some 1,800 deaths and close to 7,000 injuries in the United States since the beginning of 2013, according to The Guardian— though that’s only a small fraction of overall gun-related deaths. And conservatives have next to nothing of use to say about it.

Well, almost nothing. Some conservatives talk about the importance of mental-health interventions with the potentially violent. Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. The Obama administration tried to do that after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre by requiring the Social Security Administration to submit the names of severely unwell persons to the F.B.I.

Congressional Republicans and President Trump reversed the rule a year ago. Representative Salud Carbajal, a California Democrat, introduced a “red flag” bill last May that would make it easier for family members to keep firearms out of the hands of potentially dangerous relatives. The bill has 50 Democratic co-sponsors but not one Republican. Maybe the Parkland massacre will shame the majority into embracing the legislation.

But such laws can achieve only so much. Keeping track of dangerously unstable people who shouldn’t own guns but do is hard: Devin Kelley, the Texas church shooter, had once escaped from a mental health hospital and was legally barred from buying the weapon he used to murder 26 people in November. Nor can the federal government be in the business of getting unwell people to take their meds. That way lies the path to a Clockwork Orange.

Beyond that, the conservative answer is: more guns.

It’s true that a gun in the right hands at the right time and place can save lives, as the former National Rifle Association instructor Stephen Willeford proved when he shot Kelley as the latter emerged from the church. No sensible society should want to keep arms out of hands like his.

But that’s an argument for greater discrimination in terms of who should get to own a gun, not less. The United States has, by far, more guns in more hands than any other country in the developed world. It has, by far, the highest incidence of firearm-related homicides and suicides. Correlation is not causation, but since Americans aren’t dramatically crazier than other nationalities, what other explanation is there?

Gun advocates often make the claim that the mere presence of firearms deters crime. But research from Stanford’s John Donohue suggests that “right to carry” state laws have led to a 13 to 15 percent jump in violent crime. New York City, with the most aggressive enforcement of gun laws of any major U.S. city, has seen its homicide rate drop to levels not experienced since the 1950s. By contrast, in the permissive gun state of Missouri, St. Louis has the highest per capita murder rate of any major American city.

Nor is it remotely true, as gun advocates contend, that gun bans necessarily result in increased murder rates. The homicide rates in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom have all fallen since enacting strict national gun control. Conservatives are supposed to be empiricists, not idealists. They should learn the lesson of experience.

So all this is an argument for tougher gun-control laws, right? Well, not exactly.

In October, after the Las Vegas massacre, I made the case in this column for repealing the Second Amendment. The column is still being criticized by conservatives for reasons that usually miss the point. We need to repeal the Second Amendment because most gun-control legislation is ineffective when most Americans have a guaranteed constitutional right to purchase deadly weaponry in nearly unlimited quantities.

There’s a good case to be made for owning a handgun for self-defense, or a rifle for hunting. There is no remotely sane case for being allowed to purchase, as Paddock did, 33 firearms in the space of a year. But that change can’t happen without a constitutional fix. Anything less does little more than treat the symptoms of the disease.

I know what the objections to this argument will be. What about John Locke and Cesare Beccaria? What about the preservation of American liberties and the encroachments of bureaucratic liberal despotism?

Right. What about another 17 murdered souls, and their classmates and families, and the inability of today’s conservatives to offer anything except false bromides and empty prayers?

Memphis Trace

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

John Hamler wrote:

In light of, but not to make light of,  the latest mass shooting in Florida...

First of all, I personally like thinking about (and writing about) psycho/sociopaths. It's interesting fodder for fiction and art --period--and should never be abridged or censored in books, movies, paintings, songs, or video games. Violence is often a dramatic catalyst for creativity. That's just the worldview we live with. Sad perhaps, but, without violence (how we commit, cope, or compartmentalize it; hell, even LOVE according to Pat Benatar is a battlefield) there would hardly be any need for art as we know it.

That being said...

Real world policy is a different animal. If "access" is how we define "liberty" then how do we, as "liberal/irreligious" Americans, discuss gun control without dismissing or disenfranchising those who cling to their (Biblical?) gun rights as if it were American gospel?

I'm just asking. Willing to debate...

Fodder for your ruminations and exhortations:

On gun violence, we are a failed state

By E.J. Dionne Jr. Opinion writer February 18 at 7:26 PM

The surest sign a political regime is failing is its inability to do anything about a problem universally seen as urgent that has some obvious remedies. And it’s a mark of political corruption when unaccountable cliques block solutions that enjoy broad support and force their selfish interests to prevail over the common good.

On gun violence, the United States has become a corrupt failed state.

This is the only conclusion to draw from the endless enraging replays of the same political paralysis, no matter how many children are gunned down at our schools or how many innocent Americans are slaughtered at shopping centers and other public places. Whatever happens, we can’t ban assault weapons, we can’t strengthen background checks, we can’t do anything.
In corrupt failed states, politics is about lying and misdirection. On guns, our debate is a pack of lies and evasions.

In no other country is the phrase “thoughts and prayers” a sacrilege, a cover for cowardice.

In no other country are the words “mental health” so empty. They are muttered by politicians who have no history of caring in the least about programs to help those with psychological or psychiatric difficulties. But they need to say something to rationalize their allegiance to a gun lobby that appears to be utterly indifferent to mass murder.

President Trump’s rote address to the nation after the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., had all the passion of a CEO delivering a middling annual report. He told us: “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

Trump’s speech, as Vox’s German Lopez observed, was “one giant lie by omission.” Those 17 people were killed by an AR-15 rifle, not by a knife or a sword or a bomb. But God forbid the president mention guns. Vox also noted that people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims, not the perpetrators, of violence. Yes, and if Trump cared so much about mental health, he wouldn’t be proposing a $250 billion cut over a decade in Medicaid, which pays for more than 25 percent of the nation’s mental health care.

Memo to the media: Stop saying in somber, serious tones that we must do more about mental health. This might well be true, but in the context of crimes such as those at Stoneman Douglas High, offering such sentiments is to be complicit in propaganda by pretending that a cover story is actually on the level. We should not have to point out over and over that while mental illness exists everywhere, other countries do not have killing sprees comparable to ours.

Trump brought home his complete indifference to the suffering in Florida with a tweet over the weekend that can only be described as obscene.

He attacked the FBI for missing “the many signals sent out by the Florida shooter” because “it was spending too much time proving Russia collusion with the Trump campaign.” It was an extreme example of his pathological self-involvement and an astonishing exercise in evading the issues at the heart of the tragedy.

At the heart of our political system’s failure to address the epidemic of violence is the Republican Party’s decision to become a paid agent of the gun manufacturers’ lobby. The party of law and order cares about neither if doing so means causing the least disturbance to the National Rifle Association.

This is where corruption comes in. One Republican politician after another who couldn’t even utter the word “gun” following the Parkland horror turned out to have received millions from the NRA. And it’s no wonder that Trump decided he cared so much about mental health. The organization spent $30 million to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Aggravating our difficulty in regulating weapons is the vast overrepresentation of rural states in the U.S. Senate, which makes some Democrats wary of taking on the NRA. This is another classic problem of failed regimes: Their structures are no longer capable of responding to current needs.

No one wants our political system to fail more than Russian President Vladimir Putin does, and our powerlessness on guns hardly enhances our democracy’s image to the world. It is worth revisiting reports last spring in Time magazine and The Post about the relationships that Russians close to their government are cultivating with the U.S. gun lobby as part of the outreach by pro-Putin forces to the far right.

And Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy reported in January that the FBI “is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”

Wherever this Russia story goes, we already know that the NRA and its political servants are immobilizing our government on one of the gravest problems confronting us. What would we say about any other country that watched its children gunned down again and again and did absolutely nothing?

Memphis Trace

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

NJC said (attributed): "Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World"

Well, you-know-who oughta have that stamped on his forehead, doncha think? I saw something on Facebook the other day and it made me think how wonderful it is that conservatives, whether they're beholden to the NRA or not, are so gung ho about disarming obnoxious whack-jobs like Kim Jong Un --who, let's face it, is really just an underprivileged brat trying to join what he thinks is the privileged big boy club of nations-- but not so worried about disarming (or mental-helping, for that matter) our own homegrown lunatics and underprivileged. If people, not guns, kill people, then doesn't it follow, in the same breath, that: "Nukes don't kill people, people kill people."? The hypocrisy is rampant. As is the stubborn stupidity. AKA insanity.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

jack the knife wrote:

Liberty has constraints. Your freedom to throw your fist out stops when it meets my face. You can't dump hazardous wastes into water supplies. You can't drive without seat belts or ride a Harley without a helmet without incurring a penalty. We live in a society, where the rights of all have to be considered. You can buy weapons, but not buy machine guns. Is it such a stretch that buying other weapons of mass destruction should be banned? For the public good? The wording of the Second Amendment can be debated until the cows come home, but the precedent (SCOTUS) has been established that one does not have a Constitutional right to have military-type people-killers. That mass -shooting incidents are a price we pay for "liberty" (Bill O'Reilly) is absurd. We, as a society, have established rules and regulations  in other areas of our contract with each other. Why gun ownership should have no constraints, as opposed to any other aspect of our compact as a civilization, defies logic.

Well said.

Re: SHOOTINGS AND THE SHIT THAT FOLLOWS...

The recent incident is another appalling outrage, but what very few of us outside of the US can understand is exactly why the Democrats, so vociferous about the current situation, didn't address any of the issues that they now highlight by proposing and passing enhanced, comprehensive gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the previous eight years of administration? Current politicians avoiding the word 'gun' is strange, but for the Democrats to avoid addressing actual gun law issues when it was within their power for so long, seems to have been a shameful waste of opportunity that now reeks of hypocrisy.

I understand that blind Trump hate is very hip and trendy, albeit somewhat justified; but that constant reflex tends to prejudice any true or balanced political discussion.