Thanks. The Facebook post I got the graph from didn't cite a source, so it's good to see that it's from someone legitimate. It's also good to see he answers my "Where's Britain" and my cherry-picking objections, and that a fit remains even when you take out the outlying US.
I do still have two more fundamental objections. The first remains that restricting it to "gun deaths" unfairly sidesteps the substitution argument. The second is that once again it total fails to provide causal information: it's possible that homicide causes gun ownership (because people want to protect themselves; apparently gun sales rise after every big massacre story on the news) or that they're both caused by some third factor (like violentness of the population)
One more angle on serious gun control: Considering how many Americans really want to own guns, it's plausible that it will look something like Prohibition and the war on drugs. Incarceration is expensive-- not just the direct cost of imprisoning people, but the disruption to their families and that they much less able to do useful work. Also, guns being illegal means a larger black market, which I'd say increases the odds of violent disputes over territory.
It also would force people into terrible choices between protecting their lives and obeying the law. It is not irrelevant to this that most of those supporting gun control tend to be higher-income people who would rarely if ever find themselves in a situation where they might need a gun to protect themselves: they live in neighborhoods where violent crime is very rare. When one looks at it from the viewpoint of, say, the shopkeeper in an inner-city slum, it becomes obvious that gun control directly threatens his life.
2012-12-22 11:25 am (UTC)
The Newtown shooting is exceptional in that it couldn't have been prevented by allowing the victims to arm themselves, since, y'know, kids. This convinced a few pro-gun-rights people I know (such as Cliff Pervocracy) to change their minds. I'm not sure how shooters respond to incentives, but if potential adult victims are better armed, they might just shoot more kids.
Mass shootings do kill few people, but aren't they becoming more frequent? I can't find two sources that agree on what counts as a mass shooting, let alone on long-term trends.
"If someone wants to kill they will" is clearly false. Even neglecting the psychological aspect, someone can kill many more people with a gun than with a knife before being stopped.
What is completely missing from coverage is any attempt to understand the motives for shootings. (Not counting diagnosing the dead with random unpopular psychiatric disorders.) That's odd; isn't it a prerequisite for prevention? This shooting in particular confuses me - I thought I had a decent model, but it definitely doesn't predict elementary school massacres.
More frequent = really rare. Also, *are* they more frequent, or are they being reported on more this year? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/dark-knight-shooting_n_1689505.html?1342809145
says about 20 shootings a year (and 160ish deaths a year). I haven't even heard about 20 shootings *this* year, let alone every preceding year.
"someone can kill many more people with a gun than with a knife before being stopped."
In a sense, yeah, and it's hard to get to the 20+ body count level. But that's very rare even with guns; Sandy is one of the biggest mass shootings ever. Killing 4-8 people and wounding many more isn't unusual with a knife, or even driving a car into a crowd, and those are more typical shooting numbers too.
I worry more about lack of gun-control leading to more *accidental* gun deaths - in England if you have a gun and keep it at home you have to lock it up in a special gun cabinet and lock the ammunition (or powder, if like everyone I know with a gun it's a mediaeval replica) separately. No "oops little Timmy got the gun" or "bugger shot myself with the gun I keep under the pillow".
Also I don't buy the argument that arming people would prevent them being shot. Look at the various "green on blue" attacks in places like Camp Bastion - LOADS of "good guys with guns" can't prevent "bad guys with guns" killing people, just maybe reduce the numbers a bit.
There's not that many accidental deaths. 600 in the US in 2010. A lot more than mass shootings, but gun murders are 11,000.
What's wrong with reducing the numbers killed? And Camp Bastion? A sneak night attack with RPGs doesn't seem relevant to American life:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19704620
2012-12-22 04:17 pm (UTC)
The image is at http://raikoth.net/Stuff/blog/gun_fatalities.png
Before you even start talking about how you would change things to reduce the incidence of spree shootings, you are going to have to say something about the biggest elephant: spree shootings are very rare, and nearly all child deaths come from other, much bigger causes, so it's far from clear that this problem deserves more than a mote of our limited time, attention and resources.
...and you have to be a parent. Really
2012-12-22 02:36 pm (UTC)
> Wait, isn't using gun-related deaths as the outcome as opposed to homicides in general assuming the conclusion?
No one is arguing that gun control will reduce non-firearm deaths, therefore they're not relevant to arguments of gun control. All including them would do is add even more noise to a sample that's already very tiny and very noisy. (If the argument is that gun control will increase firearm deaths, a better graph to look at would be gun deaths vs. non-gun deaths.)
> School shootings kill fewer people each year than terrorist attacks.
School shootings kill fewer people each year than terrorist attacks, but shootings in general and even just shootings of kids kill far more people than terrorist attacks. Gun control is an attempt to curtail both of these things.
> I will ignore a well-respected historian and Constitutional scholar, because I have Google.
You know how mad someone would be if you were discussing your field of expertise and someone else baldly rejected your arguments this way.
> two school shootings as well as two other massacres have been stopped when one of the would-be victims turned out to be carrying a gun
Funny thing, one of the victims in this school shooting was carrying a gun. Her name was Nancy Lanza, and her guns were stolen from her and then used to kill her and 26 others. Obviously it's possible for an armed victim to stop an armed assailant, but it is not as successful as reported.
2012-12-22 02:37 pm (UTC)
* Erm. Increase non-firearm deaths.
Also, isn't "No one else has tried this" availability bias?
2012-12-22 02:49 pm (UTC)
My Facebook feed it actually filled with pro-gun memes and messages and links. It's just as ill-informed and annoying.
Really? Do you come from a conservative area, did you go to school at a conservative school, or are we just mysteriously in completely different circles?
2012-12-22 02:55 pm (UTC)
It's symmetry-blindness; symmetry-blindness all the way up.
The sad thing is that it's not just facebook pseudo-intellectuals engaging in these sorts of arguments. Just take a look at this:
Real, credentialed, wikipedia'd academics are doing the same thing. Why is there such a strong emotional reaction from academics? Do they value the harm principle so much that they stop caring about everything else?
It's telling that we don't see similar reactions to the thousands of gun homicides that occur in the inner city. To American Brahmins, these areas just become "bad parts of town" that they never set foot into, so they're both intellectually and physically distanced from the problem. But when a shooting occurs in a suburban, upper-middle-class elementary school, in a rich, white, liberal state... what else could hit closer to home?
2012-12-22 04:03 pm (UTC)
Re: It's symmetry-blindness; symmetry-blindness all the way up.c
Crooked Timber is a cesspit of a particular kind of academic-hard-left stupidity that takes many years of postgraduate training, though. They've been egregiously dim pretty much since they started.
Nice write-up, speaking as a gun-owning Texan. At this point I mostly respond to liberals by offering to take them out to the range so they can learn what a gun is actually like.
If anyone here's in the DFW area the offer's open.
Proper population studies are hard, but you can make a surprising amount of headway just using public CDC mortality and FBI violent crime statistics. You will explode in rage once you realize how easy it is, and how reporters and pundits don't bother
. Or, anyway, I do.
I was digging in the CDC final mortality report for 2009
the other night and relating the results on Twitter. A few highlights:
-- When a pundit says 'X children and teens die from gun violence', what they don't tell you is that teens between 15 and 17, predominantly male, make up over 80% of that sum.
-- About a third of those deaths are suicides; in the complete absence of firearms, many would certainly use other means.
-- Gun violence is involved in about 3.4% of all deaths of children between 1 and 14. If you include infants, it's much less. Most deaths of children are attributable to accidents, particularly vehicle crashes and drownings.
I could expand on the details if people are interested.
2012-12-22 06:05 pm (UTC)
3.4 percent of children by gun related deaths is still way too high.i am amazed you don't feel so.
Man, you're my hero.
(Though I disagree about Facebook not being a good place for politics - I've had lots of great discussions about politics there. And although I know you probably wish I wouldn't post this article on my own FB, but, I'm sorry, this one is just way too great not to be posted.)
"The problem with mockery is that a good mock, like the image macros above, takes three seconds to write or read, and an hour to rebut correctly."
Actually, I've found that demonstrating its invalidility by a plug and chug of terms -- like the one you chose, also takes about three second.
Edited at 2012-12-22 04:06 pm (UTC)
2012-12-22 04:16 pm (UTC)
serious threat that Congress might accidentally ban the military from having weaponry
Actually, yes, though certainly not by accident, and not "the" military, but the state militias, as opposed to the federal military.
Anyway, my understanding is that the 2nd Amendment was just as incoherent in 1789 as in 2012, that it was a meaningless compromise 100% successful in its goal of kicking the can down the road a few decades.
2012-12-22 04:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the leading clause of the 2nd doesn't actually make any grammatical sense. It's like they said "An important part of this balanced breakfast, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
I'm not arguing for gun control here, since I'm still not sure what I believe on that. I need to actually sit down and do some research on my own, and I've been putting that off for months. I will say that in the past, I've supported basic control measures like registration and background checks for violent crimes, but strongly opposed the idea of an outright ban. Like I said, however, in the past year I've decided I need to sit down, do some research, and figure exactly where I stand on this. Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on two things in your post, not exactly related to each other.
First, there is a huge problem when looking at studies about gun control that you're apparently unaware of. The fact is, the government is not allowed to fund any studies that could be used to argue against gun control. It started in 1996, when the CDC's injury center funded a 2.6 million dollar study into gun violence, which came to a conclusion linking ownership of guns to increased change of homicide and suicide. In response, Congress tried to shut down that entire division of the CDC, and when that didn't go through, stripped them of $2.6 million in funding, and added to all future budgets that "None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
Just last year, in fact, it was added to the Consolidated Approriations Act that no money going to the NIH “may be used, in whole or part, to advocate or promote gun control," because the NIH was doing a study about whether amount of liquor stores in an area affected gun violence. That doesn't even have anything to do with gun control, but it was completely shut down.
The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) is actually legally prohibited from releasing any gun data, just in case it might be used by private individuals to argue for gun control. There is no national gun registry either, of course, so data on this subject is artificially limited to begin with.
Basically, in the last 15 years, all American gun studies have had to be privately funded, and what data exists is often hidden. This really complicates trying to figure out what is actually going on. This is one of the reasons I've been putting off really digging into this subject and figuring out exactly what I think is best.
The second thing was your comment "especially liberals, who have the advantage of numbers." Liberals do have the advantage of numbers, but it's not much of an advantage. Here's a Pew Poll
that shows that 60% of self-stated liberals use social networking sites, 61% of moderates use social networking sites, and 49% of conservatives use social networking sites. Unfortunately, that poll does not provide absolute numbers, but I don't think it's an unfair assumption that were about as many conservatives as liberals in the poll. This does mean there are more liberals than conservatives online, but not a huge amount more. I was just afraid you're letting your local community influence your view of the internet as whole, and wanted to provide a possible counterbalance to that.
As I noted and linked to above, CDC mortality statistics on gun-linked mortality are easily obtained and detailed. FBI violent crime statistics are also easy to obtain.
HTML nitpicks: The small text tag doesn't ever seem to have been closed. Also, there's the issue ciphergoth
mentions with one of the images not being there.
2012-12-22 11:49 pm (UTC)
Actually, thus far two school shootings (Pearl High School, Appalachia Law School) as well as two other massacres (a Muskegon Michigan store and a Colorado church) have been stopped when one of the would-be victims turned out to be carrying a gun and shot the perpetrator in the middle of the massacre.
OK, going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I don't think this is true. Not sure about the other two, but the school shootings you mention seem to have been stopped when the perpetrators were done with the shooting and exiting the location.
I haven't looked into the Appalachia Law school shooting beyond its Wikipedia entry, but I read up a bit on the Pearl High School shooting after someone described it to me as a successful intervention mid-massacre. The careful Eugene Volokh says
"As he was leaving the school, he was stopped by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who had gone out to get a handgun from his car. I have seen sources that state that Woodham was on the way to Pearl Junior High School to continue shooting, though I couldn’t find any contemporaneous news articles that so state.
", emphasis mine. I've also searched for such contemporaneous articles and found nothing. This appears to have been a later propaganda invention that made its way
into Wikipedia among other places. I've even read some excerpts from the killer's journals (ugh) and these clarify that his killing wasn't random - he killed the ex-girlfriend that he'd held responsible for his anguish, her friend who was with her, and wounded seven bystanders. This makes it even more unlikely, given the absence of contemporaneous accounts, that he was going to drive to a different school to continue shooting.Edited at 2012-12-22 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'll edit it out.
There might be a case for banning high-capacity magazines.
Many mass shootings were ended by *unarmed* bystanders when the shooter had to stop to reload.
There are so many guns in the U.S. that blocking the manufacture or sale of new guns won't make much of a difference in gun availability; unless you actually required that existing owners of currently-legal firearms surrender them, banning new guns wouldn't do very much to make those weapons less available. On the other hand, *bullets* don't last nearly as long as guns, and the relative supply is much smaller.
I'm with Chris Rock
and the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
- we don't need gun control, we need bullet control!
In addition -- and I will freely admit to just repeating arguments I've seen going around the internet here -- gun control will eventually become futile due to 3D printing (it's already possible to 3D-print a gun, just not a good one), while ammunition requires explosives.
2012-12-23 12:35 am (UTC)
"If you want to kill someone, and guns are banned, you'll use a knife, or a baseball bat, or attack nanites"
Good luck killing 26 people will a baseball bat..
I'm from Australia and the changes to our laws in 1996 - banning semi-automatics and pump-action shot guns, buying back guns etc seem to be working very well. Not one mass shooting since (before that, 13 in 15 years), and evidence that suicide has dropped too http://www.smh.com.au/national/howards-gun-legacy--200-lives-saved-a-year-20100829-13xne.html
I'm very glad to live in a country with gun controls.
from the Atlantic claims that the change in the interpretation of the 2nd amendment happened much earlier, namely, shortly after the Civil War.
And as dk has already pointed out, you have ignored the difference between militias and standing armies.
I think there's a common misnomer that "gun control" means "banning guns". Mind you, that does fall within the spectrum of gun control, but most proposals I've seen revolve around limiting access to certain types of guns, or requiring higher levels of certification to own one.
2012-12-24 11:43 am (UTC)
Ammunition, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuX-nFmL0II
Yes, with regard to mere sneering. However, unexamined data do warrant in-depth examination, especially when they appear either to fuzzy, nonrepeatable, or inherently subject to bias. And, as ever, statistics are not inherently always independent.
I 100% agree and am suspicious of the lack of good anti-gun data, or anti-gun analysis of the pro-gun data, in this area. Do you have any?