Deadly rhetoric

The US gun lobby claims that guns save lives and keep us safe from criminals – what do social scientists say?

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Illustration by Noma Bar

Illustration by Noma Bar

Venkat Srinivasan is a writer and research engineer based in San Francisco. His work has appeared in Caravan and Wired among others.

The first gun massacre in Blacksburg, Virginia, probably occurred on 8 July, 1755, when a group of native Americans entered Draper’s Meadow and killed four settlers – probably, because there are no rules as to how many killings make a massacre, and because the number of victims is disputed. Some historians have placed the death toll at eight. Draper’s Meadow was a frontier settlement on the edge of Virginia, between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Allegheny Mountains. The natives attacked it, because they felt threatened by the tyranny of the English settlers, who viewed their common land as personal property.

Today, Blacksburg is a vibrant college town, one that is routinely named one of the best places to raise children. Its local university, Virginia Tech, is unfortunately associated with another widely known gun massacre. On 16 April, 2007, a student named Seung-Hui Cho shot two other students in a college dorm a few metres from Draper’s Meadow, before entering a campus building with two handguns and 400 rounds of ammunition. Once in the building, Cho proceeded classroom-by-classroom, finding and killing 27 students and five university staff before shooting himself. His rampage was the worst mass shooting – a category unto itself – in American history, and many people called for stricter controls on guns its wake. But America’s gun rights lobby offered a different take. They argued that the massacre could have been prevented if only someone else in the building had had a gun.

One of Virginia’s biggest supporters of ‘defending your right to defend yourself’ with a gun is the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). To raise awareness, they run a stall at Blacksburg’s annual crafts, food and music festival, Steppin’ Out. Last year, it was adjacent to a street gymnastics competition for children. As the kids lined up to perform their routines and tumble on the mats, VCDL volunteers milled around distributing brochures about gun safety and gun rights lobbying. They also doled out bright, round, orange stickers proclaiming, in bold, black lettering: ‘Guns Save Lives.’

People of all ages – teenage girls and boys, adult women and men, parents with families – sported the sticker. Some slapped it on their bare upper arms, while others pasted it on their shirts. Kids and dogs wore them, too, though it’s a harder to imagine that the children, to say nothing of the dogs, had considered the sticker’s message carefully. Benjamin Sax, a former professor of religion at Virginia Tech, was at the festival that day with his seven-year-old daughter, who opted not to wear the sticker, asking her father: ‘Why do they do that?’ It’s a good question. With all that we now know about the gun, a fairly unambiguous weapon of destruction, why do some people still tout it as a saver of lives?

Daily Weekly

About 32,000 people are shot and killed every year in the United States. An additional 70,000 suffer non-fatal injuries from gun shots, three-quarters of which are due to interpersonal violence. Since 1968, more people have been killed by firearms on this civilian ‘peacetime’ battleground across the US than in all military conflicts beginning with the War of Independence in 1775. In 1997, the rate of firearm deaths among children under 15 years old was about 12 times higher in the US than the combined rate for 25 other industrialised countries. And in 2010, firearms accounted for 18,270 deaths or injuries to children and teenagers. The number of deaths due to guns has gone down from a peak in the early 1990s, but firearms still account for half the suicides and over two-thirds of all homicides. It is just a whole lot easier to kill with a bullet than by strangling, drowning, poisoning, or with fists, clubs and knives. But despite these ghastly statistics, one constantly encounters stickers, cable news hosts, and editorials insisting that guns save lives.

The best science indicates that more guns leads to more deaths

The rhetoric that credits guns with reducing violence draws largely on a 1995 analysis titled ‘Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun’ by Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University. Kleck estimated at 2.2 to 2.5 million the occasions when a gun might have been used in self-defence. That 2.5 million is the figure most often quoted by the National Rifle Association. It’s the data that forms the scientific bedrock for VCDL, and organisations like it, to claim that guns save lives. But are its data and conclusions reliable?

Kleck based his estimate on a telephone survey of 4,977 people. Of those, 213 claimed to have used a gun in self-defence during the previous five years, and followed it up with other details including whether they ‘had saved a life by using the gun’. These 213 were used to assess ‘prevalence’. Scaling over the country’s population, the number of available firearms, and with other control factors, Kleck estimated 2.2 to 2.5 million self-defence cases a year.

There is no doubt that some Americans do defend themselves with guns, but using a small survey to estimate the nationwide prevalence of a rare occurrence is problematic. ‘All attempts at external validation of the 2.5 million figure show that it is an enormous overestimate,’ wrote David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at Harvard University, in a 1997 critique titled, ‘The Myth of Millions of Annual Self-Defense Gun Uses’. Surveys of such rare events suffer from two issues. First, people’s memories about when these incidents occurred are often hazy, and second, people tend to overstate things when they believe they acted heroically. ‘Such incidents are regularly reported in American Rifleman, a monthly magazine distributed to all members of the National Rifle Association, in a manner that unequivocally portrays the incidents as heroic acts,’ wrote Daniel Webster and Jens Ludwig in a 1999 Berkeley Media Studies Group analysis debunking the myth of widespread defensive gun use. The best science indicates, they wrote, that more guns lead to more deaths.

Indeed, there is much evidence to support the notion that guns increase – rather than reduce – homicides. Take the Violence Policy Center study that showed that in 2010, for every defensive use of a gun to kill an attacker, there were 36 other criminal homicides. Or another long-range study, released last year, where researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health compared gun ownership and firearm homicide data between 1981 and 2010. According to the study, states with higher levels of gun ownership had ‘disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides’. If the gun ownership rate went up by one per cent, the firearm homicide rate went up by 0.9 per cent. In their article in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers went so far as to predict that if Mississippi’s gun ownership rate went down from 76.8 per cent to 57.7 per cent (the estimated average across all states), ‘its firearm homicide rate would be 17 per cent lower’.

There are a number of reasons why gun violence happens: social inequalities, race tensions, domestic issues, brazen crime, accidents, lack of training and safety. But surely one factor is the ease with which one can acquire a gun in America. And yet, after every mass shooting, pro-gun lobbies trot out the same tired arguments, insisting that guns are not the problem. In recent years, they have taken to blaming the mentally ill. But numerous papers have pointed out the very weak correlation between mental health and firearm homicides. A paper this year by Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, concludes that ‘the large majority of people with serious mental illnesses are never violent’. However, firearms do raise suicide rates for the mentally ill.

In Georgia, the law makes it easier to shoot a child than to shoot a legislator

Guns may not have agency to kill or save people, but they are terrific enablers of death. And yet, pro-gun politicians resist public funding for research into gun violence at every turn. In 2014, lawmakers ensured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not get a dollar out of the US budget by passing an appropriations bill that ensured ‘none of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control’.

Instead, on the pretext of saving lives, extreme gun rhetoric is increasingly encoded into law. In 2005, Florida passed its landmark Stand Your Ground legislation, which states that anyone who is attacked – at home or elsewhere – ‘has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself’. It doesn’t say firearms, but that’s the fastest, easiest deadly force there is. The law gained worldwide publicity in February 2012, when George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Hispanic man, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American.

Zimmerman’s lawyers argued that he felt threatened and only used his gun in self-defence. While the Stand Your Ground clause was not specifically used in the case, the court briefed the jury about it, instructing them that if Zimmerman was not doing anything unlawful, ‘he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force’. One juror told CNN that she didn't think what Zimmerman did was murder ‘because of the heat of the moment and the “stand your ground”.’ In the end, he was acquitted on all charges.

Before Alaska adopted a Florida-style Stand Your Ground law in 2013, the state’s former attorney general, Daniel Sullivan, warned of its effects. ‘This bill would legalise and authorise vigilantism,’ he said in 2010. He wasn’t exaggerating. The annual rate for justifiable homicides went up by 200 per cent in Florida between 2005 and 2007, and by 53 per cent in 21 other states, according to one recent study. This spike took place in a climate where the number of such homicides had been declining nationwide between 1975 and 2005, and continued to decline after 2005 in states without Stand Your Ground laws. In Georgia, this farce is so extreme, the law allows you to carry a gun to a school or a children's park, but not into the State Capitol building, meaning it's easier to shoot a child than to shoot a legislator. The price for this data-blind rhetoric, and this continued insistence that ‘guns save lives’ is about 32,000 firearm deaths, funerals, and unfinished stories every year. All collateral damage to an idea that social scientists shot down long ago.

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Comments

  • Anarcissie

    The statistics quoted at the beginning of the article do not seem to accord with those given by Wikipedia or the FBI.

    Possibly some clarification is in order.

    It also seems beside the point to begin with a focus on mass shootings ('massacres') which actually form a small part of the total of homicides committed with guns (or by any other means).

  • JenJen10

    I see the author of this is firmly on the anti-gun side, which is seemingly getting more & more polarized, which may be why he did not attempt to make this an unbiased article by putting in pro-gun statements. I wish he had. There's more to this than he wrote.

    I do not feel I belong firmly in either camp, I believe that guns are indeed designed to kill & are therefore deliberately made dangerous & should be treated with a lot more concern than they currently are in the US. But at the same time, I do not believe eliminating guns would eliminate murders or suicides. People who want to die will find some way to get it done, and people who want to kill do it even if they don't have a gun. It takes longer, it takes more effort. Guns just make it easier & faster.

    Guns make it much easier to murder. Or to die accidentally, like the gun instructor this week who died teaching an 8 yr old girl to shoot an Uzi (idiot behavior). Eliminating guns would definitely eliminate accidental gun deaths like his. It would also eliminate most mass shootings at schools & public places. It would also change the stats on how many spouses are shot dead by their significant other, & how many children are killed by their fathers. But would it eliminate their tragic deaths? Some.

    Guns are dangerous weapons. They're designed to kill. But people won't stop murdering others just because there are no guns. Uighur's in China last year didn't kill several dozen people in a train station with guns, they used machetes. They did as much horrific damage in a few minutes as any gun-toting mass shooter has done here in the US with guns in a public place.

    Maybe the biggest problem we have here in the US is that our gun culture glorifies guns. Educators & sociologists have been complaining for years that our TV & movie & video game violence glorifies killing with guns which acclimatizes children to the violence & renders it less horrifying. Other countries don't glorify gun ownership. Why do we?

    Maybe we should be focusing on where the gun culture came from, & what it means. One thing it does mean is that more people do die. That's what guns are designed to do after all -- kill.

  • Peter Wize

    Has the author considered that when the population is disarmed, it's much easier for governments to commit genocide? Tens of millions of unarmed people were murdered by governments in the 20th century. It must be ascertained how many of these homicides wouldn'tve occurred if those people had had access to guns in order to assess whether disarming people overall saves lives.

    • HughdePayens

      Thank you...

    • Carol

      see my comments to HughdePayens above. what evidence do you have to support your assertion about governments committing genocide?

      • http://irasciblemusings.com/ Bob Cronos

        Ever heard of Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao to name but a few?

        • Janet Williams

          Hitler and Castro?

          • http://irasciblemusings.com/ Bob Cronos

            I think you can count them in, too... Along with Mao Ze-Dong, Hideki Tojo and Kim Il Sung... etc.

      • Dave Gray

        I will do even better than those who have commented before me. The Genocide I Rwanda was committed largely by roving gangs arrmed with the Panga (machette) and supported by government police and armed forces. It was true genocide, vicious and brutal.

        If you have ever watched on the news the difficulty a SWAT team has is dislodging a determined lone gunman barricaded in his home or other defensible building you will understand how difficult it can be for a military to seperate armed resistance from a general population.

        Further, some people tout firearm control laws ala Canada, Great Britain and Australia and say if we just had those that gun violence would drop. They completely fail to recognize the complete difference in societies as perhaps the difference in crime rates, and COMPLETELY ignore the glaring example of Mexico which has VEEY strict prohibitions on personal firearm ownership - yet remains one of the murder capitals of the works with unbelievable rates of gun violence (and murders of all sorts of creative methods). Violent crime does not respond to laws of prohibition, things are not evil - people are evil. Banning or controlling things will never stop evil, only laws against evil behavior will. In most states Murderers risk the death penalty. No prohibition against owning a firearm is really going to much more effective than that is it?I will do even better than those who have commented before me. The Genocide I Rwanda was committed largely by roving gangs arrmed with the Panga (machette) and supported by government police and armed forces. It was true genocide, vicious and brutal.

        If you have ever watched on the news the difficulty a SWAT team has is dislodging a determined lone gunman barricaded in his home or other defensible building you will understand how difficult it can be for a military to seperate armed resistance from a general population.

        Further, some people tout firearm control laws ala Canada, Great Britain and Australia and say if we just had those that gun violence would drop. They completely fail to recognize the complete difference in societies as perhaps the difference in crime rates, and COMPLETELY ignore the glaring example of Mexico which has VEEY strict prohibitions on personal firearm ownership - yet remains one of the murder capitals of the works with unbelievable rates of gun violence (and murders of all sorts of creative methods). Violent crime does not respond to laws of prohibition, things are not evil - people are evil. Banning or controlling things will never stop evil, only laws against evil behavior will. In most states Murderers risk the death penalty. No prohibition against owning a firearm is really going to much more effective than that is it?

  • bobgrumman

    Who cares whether guns save lives or not? Many people own them and do no harm to others with them; therefore, there's no reason that a free country should ban them.

    • I’m Talking

      I suppose we should let everyone drive without training or a license then. Most people would drive responsibly and do no harm to others.

      • bobgrumman

        Yes. Because we could still have laws against improper use of cars--reckless driving, for instance. Of course, it is true that hardly anyone is killed by cars dues to licensing people to drive.

  • HughdePayens

    This is pure leftist bs bit of nonsense article. I expect better from Aeon.

    • Hominid

      If you "expect better from Aeon," you're dreaming.

  • HughdePayens

    When seconds count the police are only minutes away. Having used a gun, without firing a shot thank god, to prevent 2 in progress crimes I know exactly what is meant by that truism.
    The second amendment is not primarily about defending oneself in the event of a crime, nor does it have anything to do with hunting, the second amendment is about protecting yourself from the government. Governments in the past 100 years have murdered hundreds of millions of unarmed people.

    • Synchronicity

      Actually, the militia was/is used for crushing insurrections -- not enabling them. In modern times, it is basically the National Guard. See: Ferguson.
      It is always right-wingers ranting about stopping a tyrannical government. But those government-owned weapons are not going to be pointed at a libertarian fringe -- who only critique the government, which is at this point, merely a tool: the state apparatus of global capitalism -- those weapons will in actuality be pointed at groups trying to change a much broader context: the government, capitalism, civilization etc. As we have already seen.

      http://www.akpress.org/life-during-wartime.html

      • HughdePayens

        Global capitalism? WTF is that? Do you think I buy into that nonsensical term? Capitalism is something that happens when a people are free...we used to be somewhat free but that went bye bye about 40 years ago. We have a corporate state controlled by a bunch of clowns outside and inside of the government. Most of them live in fear of life...and all of them love controlling others.
        I am not one of those.

        • Synchronicity

          Global capitalism as in the modern, globalized, neoliberal free trade world we currently exist within.
          Capitalism as free association isn't even accurate considering actual free association, like gatherer-hunters, used reciprocal gift economies. Capitalism, markets etc. were not even relevant.

          • HughdePayens

            muahaha...please don't reproduce. The only form of government that has any reach at all is Global Socialism of which you are a fine product. No I am not calling you a socialist...but you are certainly a product of it.

          • Synchronicity

            Civilization itself is clearly the broader, encompassing authoritarian institution here -- governments, markets, capitalism etc. are second-order expressions of that form of societal organization.

          • HughdePayens

            You must be some sort of post modern bot...spewing out blather that has been shoveled into you for the past what 30 years?

          • Synchronicity

            I don't really like postmodernism and no I am not that old. I just like to read.

    • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

      That is what you are 100% wrong about. The guns are to be available to our citizens so that they will give the country the defense we need in emergencies. For this purpose, they are to be well-regulated. By whom? By the state governors AND the commander-in-chief. If you start shooting at our government, you are in a world of hurt. We have a LOT of guns the taxpayer has bought us. And we're very well-trained, and could put down a rebellion in quick time. You'd get on CNN. If you want to carry a gun, with full licensing and qualifications, I could be okay with that, if the regulations are strict enough. I think the state has to vouch for you, investigate you, and do its best -- because if I vouch for you by licensing you, I need to stay away from liability for what holders do. We need to avoid giving guns to people who really shouldn't have them because they get kind of excited. Hunting? Go ahead, on land that is no longer the Old West, but still have a lot of wildlife, some of which has to be limited. Self-defense in your home? Your right, though probably through British common law, not the Constitution. It's outside the home where it gets trickier. If the Army blows up your house by accident, it has to compensate you. Somebody might lose their job or do time in the brig. You really want anyone who appeals for a concealed weapon to be given one? I sure don't. If some "militia bystander" sees something going on, an mistakenly kills my wife, what happens? The self-armed are not a separate and special creature in American law. I think if you want to bear arms in a heavily-occupied human city, the state has to have a perfect right to determine who you are, and how reliable you would be as a witness. And for me, I have an initial thought that people who want to carry in LA should have to carry liability for the city limits or the county limits. If you conceal -- aside from a guy in a store with a button to press who has a second to decide whether to defend his 7/11 with his life. I'm not even sure I want the cops to be so weapons-oriented still, if something peaceful is what people need. A cop is not a social worker, or an armed missionary elite paratrooper. Pretty clear they need to have some social work help and a community perspective. Protect and to serve. If your morality lives around the gun, and your idea is to having 10,000 concealed weapons in the streets,

      • HughdePayens

        That you trust the state so much is just depressing. No need to respond.

      • Woopsie

        > they are to be well-regulated. By whom? By the state governors AND the commander-in-chief.

        You make up your own facts. Your premise is hogwash.

      • Joshua Smith

        Now Google from a respectable law school or other source that is familiar with the law what "well-regulated" actually means in the Second Amendment (hint: it was written in the 18th century and the usage of words could sometimes be different), then come back feeling really stupid. I'll wait.

  • http://www.joebrownscience.net Joe Brown

    "An armed society is a polite society." This, as Hugh below states, extends to government, but more specifically, to groups uncontrolled by government. Violent criminals abide without fear, which intentionally undermines personal perception of safety - a requirement of our Government under the Constitution. In Pennsylvania last week I saw a man with an openly-holstered pistol on his waistband in a public store. I don't know if he was law enforcement or not, and I felt glad for his presence. The right to bear arms must abide over criminals, and the fact that if something arose, this person could help save lives gave me comfort. We want more of this! The sadness is, we apparently need more of this in 2014.

    • cj10

      The fear biter accounts for the greatest number of dog bites among canines. I fear the possdibly beer crazed, red-neck, right wing ideologue far more than I do any foreign terrorist.

      • Phil J Malloy

        and I fear the eco terrorist liberal wackjobs over any terrorist as well. Look what they are doing in san Fransisco, destroying busses and threatening people who wanting to live in a home that they bought and own. disgusting

        you are more likely to get shot in an inner city by a criminal than you are by a so called right wing gun nut. which what you really mean is responsible, legal gun owner

  • JohnB

    On average, one American shoots dead another American every 17 minutes. This cannot be good for citizens on any level - physical, moral, emotional or spiritual.
    If an armed militia is what the Second Amendment says then do not the National Guard and the police fulfil that purpose? And does it not then follow logically and reasonably that only uniformed National Guardsmen and policemen should be allowed to carry arms? To defend their fellow citizens against those who would do them harm.
    It makes a mockery of the Bill of Rights to confuse the wisdom that led to its crafting with the right to buy a deadly weapon for personal protection.

    • idespair

      It seems to me that the gun lobbyists in the U.S. took advantage of the rather careless wording of the 2nd amendment to promote their view that everyone has a right to own any gun they may choose to acquire. To wit, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The first portion of this statement almost exactly contradicts the notion that everyone should be able to own whatever gun they choose.

      A “well regulated militia” by definition means that someone or something will be doing the regulating. Even if you believe that it should not be “the government” doing the regulating, the drafters of the 2nd amendment clearly intended that some authority – not the individual – would be.

      But because the second part of the statement is a non-sequitur to the first, the gun lobby has been able to effectively purge it from the constitution altogether and spread the notion that there should be no regulation whatsoever.

      • Phil J Malloy

        well regulated means "knows how to shoot, and has an operational gun" when written. not regulated by the government, the same government that the second amendment gives the right to protect AGAINST

        Logically it would not make sense for the constitution to take the rights away from the people

        once again, the constitution is not a list of rules for the people to live by, its a list of rules for the government to live by. one that it has forgotten about a LONG time ago

        • idespair

          The snark in me wants to say that “well regulated” means exactly what it says and you can't make up any meaning that you want for it. But after reading the extensive list of
          quotations posted below by Harry Cardillo I can see that there is a much more nuanced interpretation that is based on your history (I am a Canadian). Indeed Mr. Cardillo has provided a sort of history lesson that is sorely lacking in the online community.

          That said, it puzzles me that after two hundred years of practice Americans still have so little faith in democracy,
          especially in light of their eagerness to see it implemented in the rest of the world. The notion that a standing army is a precursor to tyranny unless the citizenry is armed to the teeth is, to coin a phrase, so eighteenth century. Jefferson, Adams, Madison et al wrote their polemics at a time when the world was newly emerging from the medieval era and rightly feared a return to feudalism. But history shows that other societies also emerged into the modern era and
          established democratic forms of self-government, including standing armies, without having an armed citizenry (or well regulated militia, as you would have it). Canada is a prime example. Further, I would argue that the proliferation of arms in the hands of both states and private citizens is a root cause of the violence that afflicts so much of the world and adding more arms to the mix only magnifies the
          violence.

          I don't expect you to agree with me but I would still hope that you ask yourself why other democratic societies are not plagued with the kind gun-related violence your country has come to exemplify. The numbers and easy availability of guns surely has something to do with it.

          • Woopsie

            Um, You are making up your own definitions as well. You are not as smart as you think you are...

          • MikeHatton47025

            Yes Mr. Idepair, I do disagree with you. Everyone seems to forget that the media doesn't do a good job reporting reality, because thats not good for the city they are reporting from. Please do some real research on your own into the "real" crime figures and I think you will see a different story down here. And to be fair..both sides of the "coin"..use the "numbers" to make their points valid.

      • MikeHatton47025

        Has a right to own any gun the may choose to acquire? I disagree! We-I-me us..have no need for a full automatic weapon!! And "the gun lobby has been able to effectively PURGE it from the consitution altogether"? I think you're mistaken..by a large part.
        Read Mr. Phil J.Malloys comment, he has said whats needed much better than my ramblings.

      • therain

        It's very clear "right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". You English much?

    • JohnB

      Quite so.
      To the casual observer of mainstream US society it appears that the removal of Uzi, AR15, Glock and similar military weapons from the grasp of the civilian population is unlikely to take place until the pace of death accelerates beyond the present level to one which requires intervention by a brave executive and legislature.
      Those branches of Government currently reflect the words of Jean-Claude Juncker when PM of Luxembourg: "We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it."

      • Phil J Malloy

        run related murders and accidents are down some 50% in 20 years or so..... those are not the number that people want to talk about, even that is not good enough for anti gun wackos

        • MultiKdizzle

          And? That stat in isolation that the gun lobby loves to parrot says absolutely nothing. US gun homicides are between 10 and 15x most every other developed nation.

          So if gun homicides are down 50%, you can imagine how much worse it was in the 'good old days'. On the gun issue, the US is the worst model to emulate in the entire OECD. Folks like you have made it actively less safe for my family to live here, and I can't emphasize enough that as an American I won't tolerate it.

          • Phil J Malloy

            and i cant emphasize enough , you dont have a choice in the matter. You are more likely to get struck by lightning or win the lotto than get shot. stop the fear mongering.

          • MultiKdizzle

            Around 30 people are struck and killed with lightning each year in the US. Around 1500 win the lottery annually in the US.

            Meanwhile, over 30,000 gun deaths occur in this country every single year, without fail. To be fair, I didn't include non-fatal lightning strikes. But nor did I include non-fatal shootings. Over 100,000 people are shot in the US every year.

            Your stats are lies. More to the point, you are a liar.

          • Phil J Malloy

            i may have had my numbers wrong, and for that I apologize, but I am no liar.

            my point remains, the odds of being shot are very slim, we have a population of 400 million, and we have 30K gun related deaths a year, half which are self inflicted, so i dont count those, and 2/3rds of the remaining half is gang memebers killing gang memebers, i dont care about criminals offing themselves either

            so that leaves us with somewhere between 5-9K gun related deaths that were accidental or malicious with no gang intention ( i am counting accidental deaths by gang members here as well)

            5,000-10,000 people died for causes that they did not bring on themselves, out of 400,000,000.

            Long story short, im not scared of being shot, neither should you

          • therain

            You're somewhat confused, I see. Go ahead and move to one of your supposed "safe" countries. The USA will be not be changing.

          • kenville
          • rlhailssrpe

            This reply's use of "developed" and the article's use of "industrialised" Isic) is classic cherry picking statistics. If these propaganda limiters are omitted, the US falls mid range among all nations in gun deaths per capita.

            The article is filled with "cute" statistical tricks. It denigrates Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University while praising the research at the Berkeley Media Studies Group. Then condemns the limitations of the Center for Disease Control to "to advocate or promote gun control" which the Berkeley group does. The above only demonstrates that social science is not objective, but either uses persuasion or coercion to meet its goals. By definition, this is not science. But the entire article promotes this story line as objective truth. The article is an excellent example of lies, da.. lines and statistics, in descending order.

            No human being can statistically calculate America's Second Amendment Rights. By definition it is an axiom. You accept it or reject it. If enough voters reject it, it can be changed. But it has kept us free, longer than any other democracy. It is good to remember a statistic. The Germans, who had almost an identical Constitution as the US, voted Adolf Hitler into power. The first day on the job, he outlawed all civilian firearms. 65,000,000 deaths later, that error was corrected.

      • therain

        The "pace of death" is dramatically shrinking.

    • gogododo

      As a non gun owner I would argue the nation guard does not qualifies as a militia as it is under direct control of the state. They undergo a similar

      boot camp experience, which I have never gone under, but when ever someone tells me about their experience I can't see how its any different from any brainwashing proceeder that most cults would use. Oh wait I can think of a difference, it is far more successful and culturally sanction. The police could actually function as a militia, but they don't. They are not part of the communities they patrol. They don't answer to communities, but to a for profit prison industry. They could be there to insure community, but instead serve an economic system that ensures mass poverty. What ever is going on in Ferguson is, just a product of a police state, which itself just a necessity of having such a skewed economic system. (And no I'm not a socialist, but just aware of social injustice).

      I think There are effective militias though, and being armed is more than just having a gun. Anonymous is a great example. They have wage some really smart battle all without violence. Black Panther were seen and from the perspective of those who enforced racist laws, and from that perspective were correct, as a threat. If they still had the power they once did would 1 percent of the population mostly poor and black be in jail, would 3 % be on parole.

      I would argue we all need ways to protect ourselves, not from the vast vast majority of people who are not violent but from a slim minority who are desperate. I would also argue that working towards eliviating poverty, and increasing sovereignty among people is what will actually make our culture safe. That said having few people in your neighborhood who live in and partake in the hood who are trained in crisis situation can come in handy. I feel that so many people feel powerless and really don't know how to protect themselves so they fetishsize guns. There an easy target to mock, but our problems are much more complex

      • Phil J Malloy

        the militia consists of all abled bodied americans. thats the only requirement. this was intentional

        • gogododo

          True, but how is it organized. I don't have much faith in the state protecting people from the state. Sovereignty requires bottom up self organization. I don't have to much respect for the founding father's mythology, as most of them were hypocritical with their talk of freedom, but I'll give them credit for getting out from the heel of an empire.

          • Phil J Malloy

            thats the beauty of it, it gets organized, only when it needs to be.

            "I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
            - George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

    • Phil J Malloy

      you make it sound as if that means 1 person is killing an innocent other person

      most gun related deaths are suicide, (which we can argue if they were going to kill themselves, they were going to do it anyway, so lets not count those)

      the next most gun related deaths are related to gang violence. AKA criminals killing other criminals., I dont know about you but i have no problem with criminals taking each other out (except when an innocent gets int he middle of course)

      than there is self defense which is justified homicide

      so when we actually look at the issues like school shootings, and accidental deaths, they are small potatoes, not just in america but worldwide.

    • http://elitistagenda.com/ Harry Cardillo

      "A free people ought to be armed."
      - George Washington

      "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
      - Benjamin Franklin

      "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
      - Thomas Jefferson

      "I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery."
      - Thomas Jefferson

      "The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature.
      They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to
      commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and
      better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to
      prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater
      confidence than an armed man."

      - Thomas Jefferson (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria)

      "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises,
      I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it
      gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played
      with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body
      and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your
      constant companion of your walks." - Thomas Jefferson

      "The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States)
      assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise
      it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times
      armed."
      - Thomas Jefferson

      "On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry
      ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect
      the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force]
      what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it,
      [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
      - Thomas Jefferson

      "I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the
      enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775,
      until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any
      consequence ... I think that upon the whole it has been about one half
      the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less.
      This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we
      fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from
      his infancy."
      - Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Giovanni Fabbroni, June 8, 1778

      "Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self defense."
      - John Adams

      "To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them."
      - George Mason

      "I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
      - George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

      "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe."
      - Noah Webster

      "The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the
      sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a
      force superior to any band of regular troops."
      - Noah Webster

      "A government resting on the minority is an aristocracy, not a
      Republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force
      against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press and a disarmed
      populace."

      - James Madison

      "Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the
      people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with
      arms."
      - James Madison

      "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be
      infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people,
      trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free
      country."
      - James Madison

      "The ultimate authority resides in the people alone."

      - James Madison

      "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
      - William Pitt

      "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the
      people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young,
      how to use them."
      - Richard Henry Lee

      "A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves ... and include all men capable of bearing arms."
      - Richard Henry Lee

      "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone
      who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but
      downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.... The
      great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might
      have a gun."
      - Patrick Henry

      "This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty.... The
      right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it
      has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest
      limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of
      the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext
      whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the
      brink of destruction."
      - St. George Tucker

      "... arms ... discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe,
      and preserve order in the world as well as property.... Horrid mischief
      would ensue were (the law-abiding) deprived the use of them."
      - Thomas Paine

      "The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of
      the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own
      arms."
      - Samuel Adams

      "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been
      considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it
      offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power
      of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first
      instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."
      - Joseph Story

      "What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the
      establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever
      Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they
      always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon
      their ruins."
      - Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts

      " ... for it is a truth, which the experience of all ages has
      attested, that the people are commonly most in danger when the means of
      insuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they
      entertain the least suspicion."
      - Alexander Hamilton

      • JohnB

        A fascinating list; may I add one more quote?
        "If you're explaining, you're losing." Ronald Reagan on political arguments.
        It is possible that the solution as to whether there should be more or less gun control is not to be found by means of the illumination of history but in more immediate events and their aftermath.

      • Joshua Smith

        "Never believe everything you read on the Internet."
        --Abraham Lincoln

        I'm not claiming that all of your quotes are apocryphal/false, but just at first glance, some of them are. Besides, arguing from quotation raises the dangerous tendency to think along the lines of: "so-and-so said X, and so-and-so was a great man, so we should accept X", which is downright crazy. Try thinking for yourself.

        • http://elitistagenda.com/ Harry Cardillo

          Which ones are false? And, they are not just quotes from some "great man". These are the men responsible for the 2nd amendment and this is their reasoning, logic and beliefs regarding it's inclusion. Not the same thing you're arguing at all.

          • Joshua Smith

            I had thought I'd seen the Franklin quote on a list of apocryphal quotations, but I was mistaken on that one. Also fair enough on your reason for quoting them (especially George Mason, though these quotes are off a bit). I get a little antsy about "founding father" quotes because there is so much out there that is bullshit.

    • MikeHatton47025

      On the subject of the National Guard & police being the only ones who should be carrying a weapon, please do some research on the subject of how long it takes the police to get somewhere to help someone needing it! The best a police officer can do is get there and try to clean up the mess! Now I am not "belittling" the police officer, they have a h#** of a time protecting and serving! I live in a small Mid-Western town and the police have a quick response time, but in the major cities, the numbers drop quickly. And if you'll notice, most of the crime is 2/3 (or more) on one. And the only way the National Guard can help deter crime..is having them on every street corner! Now that would be great..if you could trust those who "govern"..and you can't. So the only way for me to protect my family when we are in the "big city" is (I feel) to carry a side-arm.
      If I've missed your point, please let me know!

      • JohnB

        It is difficult, not to say churlish, for me to say that you have missed my point, or I yours. And therein lies the nub of the difficulty. There is passion, and indeed some logic, on both sides of this particular divide and yet, apparently, no mood or room for compromise.
        Israelis -v- Palestinians; Russians -v- Ukrainians; gun control advocates -v- unrestricted gun access advocates ... the list of apparently intractable problems is not long though their continuance causes death and misery.
        My main point is that unless and until reasonable men (species not gender) seek to reach reasonable compromises in these and other cases, we are doomed to repeat the same arguments over and over again. What is curious is that we remain surprised at the lack of resolution.

    • therain

      Not true. Half of the gun deaths are suicide. We could go further into how misinformed you are, but instead ask: "Who are you to tell me what I need to defend myself and my family?". Surprise, it's NONE of your business.

  • STEVENTORREY

    Your number of 32,000 killed with guns every year fails to account for a breakdown in suicides by gunfire--about 20,000/yr) and homicide by gunfire--(about 10,000/yr) Those are important differentiations. The FBI records about 350/yr gun deaths in self-defense. The NRA--and by extension the NRA gun nut psychos-- make up statistics as they go, or manipulate conclusions from the statistics--'more pool deaths than death by long arms'--true but irrelevant); and the NRA gives a political overlay to the 2nd Amendment that would leave the Founding Fathers vomiting knowing that twenty murdered children in Newtown should be seen as 2nd Amendment collateral damage.--according to the NRA and the NRA gun nut psychos. And yes--PRESENCE OF THE GUN--allows for gun violence. (DUH!) Adam Lanza's POSSESSION of that weapon, allowed for his ideation of murder--he saw in his mind's eye, how the tragedy was to unfold; he practiced with that weapon. Without physical possession of that weapon there would be no ideation to murder, no murder; it is as simple as all that and as sad as all that. Possessing that weapon allows access to this dark side of the human soul--the side that wants murderous revenge for any slight. Ownership of a weapon cannot be good for society as a whole. (And the NRA gun nut psychos have waxed with moral indignation over the 2nd Amendment; sadly, they cannot muster the same moral indignation over the loss of innocent life--that's what makes them psychotic and sociopathic.)

    • Phil J Malloy

      right, because a psychopath without a gun would never try and knife up their school... or run down people with a car.... yes, its the gun that is the problem, not the mentally insane or the criminal. Next you are going to tell me that the donut made me fat, not my fault for eating 4 boxes of them a day.....

  • Carol

    perhaps you could provide some evidence to support your assertion about governments murdering millions of unarmed people. what exactly do you mean by that?

    • Phil J Malloy

      nazi germany.... communist russia.... communist china.... communist north korea...

      im seeing a pattern here with the type of government most likely to murder millions.......

  • MD

    A very one-sided view.....I think there is reasonable middle ground on this issue the author seems to willingly avoid. The author relies on a lot of lazy use of vague categories and shoots pretty loose with statistics which are easily bent to a desired view. I believe it is safe to say that most violence, gun violence included, involves criminals.....most of whom, I think it is fair to assume, acquired their weapons illegally. Laws that prevent law abiding citizens from defending themselves will not be observed by this criminal group. Being defenseless is not a wise position to voluntarily assume. Part of the problem here is also the resistance of the "pro-gun" side to accept reasonable regulation. Why is it easier to acquire and carry a gun than to drive a car? Training and education are too often viewed as "gun control" in a "restrict my rights" sort of way. Some wisdom in this area would go a long way on the safety/accident side of gun ownership. Full disclosure: I own guns and fully support our rights to own them....that does not mean I have a right to put others at risk due to my carelessness, lack of knowledge or fears. Responsibility with all our technologies (cars, guns, internet, etc) is key.

  • MarkShearer

    "the law allows you to carry a gun to a school or a children's park, but not into the State Capitol building, meaning it's easier to shoot a child than to shoot a legislator"

    This statement precisely captures the idiocy of gun control. Laws do not make it easy or hard to shoot anyone.

    Magnetometers? Fine.
    Trained security officers? Great.

    Mass murderers don't care about laws and signs, but law-abiding, legal carriers do. That's what makes "gun-free" zones dangerous.

    • cj10

      Metal detectors are a common feature at the entrance of many Court Buildings.

      • MarkShearer

        Yes. And that's what keeps guns out. Not the law; the metal detector.

        It takes more than a law and a sign to deter a mass murderer.

        • Phil J Malloy

          you DO know that there have been shootings in buildings with metal detectors before right???

  • http://granitesentry.com Granite Sentry

    The fundamental problem with all these statistical recitations is that they make no effort to distinguish between legal owners of guns and those who use guns to shoot other people, two sets with a vanishingly small overlap. Thus they paint a terribly flawed picture of the reality of gun violence today: Shootings most often happen between different teams or pairs of competing criminals, with the causative factor in fact being the criminal behavior, not the guns, with a corollary that these being criminals already, they by definition don't care a whit about laws intended to prevent gun crime. The Left will never accept this because they don't actually believe in criminal behavior, only behavior that is out of alignment with the (supposedly flawed and equally criminal) dominant culture.

  • http://napomartin.wordpress.com Napo Martin

    After reading the first few comments I wondered where were the gun crazies (reference to the movie) to troll the section and the article. I got my response by keeping reading a few more.

    At least on Aeon the trolls do not start by shooting insults first, they still try to make an argument no matter how relevant it is not.

    As someone from a Non-American viewpoint, American gun debates would be laughable if people were not dying everyday from guns for no reason.

    • Todd McDonald

      "At least on Aeon the trolls do not start by shooting insults first, they
      still try to make an argument no matter how relevant it is not."

      1) In this, they did something you did not.
      2) Apparently anyone who disagrees with you is a troll, genuine arguments be damned.

      • http://napomartin.wordpress.com Napo Martin

        So much for saying that on this page they at least attempt to make an argument. I guess I will still be on the lookout for a "genuine".

        The 'troll' part referred to people trolling the comment section, not to author of comments with which I disagree.

    • Phil J Malloy

      gun related deathsa re down 50% in america

      if we took gang violence out of the photo,(which will carry on regardless) we actually have very few murders. Some people in the news like to sensationalize every little thing, but the truth is the odds of being shot are no better than winning the lotto, unless you are a gang member.

      • http://napomartin.wordpress.com Napo Martin

        You may be absolutely right about that, I honestly do not know.

        My comment was more related to the general quality of the debate – which I observe is usually deprived of argument from a part of the pro gun side viz. invoking the 2nd amendment. I even give them credit here for not insulting others, like one can witness on so many other websites!

        Battles of statistics are presented in many kinds of public debates; so there is nothing new there. One side says it helps another says it hurts, and in the middle no one really knows. This would not be so sad in the present case if it were potatoes we were counting, but it is people who lost their lives that are the source of the stats.

        • Phil J Malloy

          the truth is it goes both ways, look down and see some of the mean things said by the anti gun crowd, they can be just as evil and vitriolic in their stance.

          for some reason pet issues make people crazy, be it taxes, abortion, the death penalty, guns, drugs you name it, it brings out the wackos on both sides of the table

  • Guest

    Social scientists are not scientists. The social science fields lack the empirical rigor and scientific method of the traditional sciences. It is misleading to think otherwise, as the headline on Digg.com that sent me to this site.

    • Janet Williams

      I agree. It's not a "science". And, the fact is, it's mostly populated by people who are anti-gun to start with.

  • Phil J Malloy

    we have a current case study that shows all we need to know. Violent crime drops in every city that allows people to carry a gun on them in america. it is a fact

    • Vape Escape

      Violent crime has been dropping everywhere regardless of gun laws and ownership rates.

      Try not to be so disingenuous.

      • Phil J Malloy

        fair enough, i havent looked at other locations, only those who recently loosened their gun laws.

      • mot9112

        I don’t believe the statistics presented on both sides of
        the argument. All the data is not
        collected which means the statistics are questionable. Think of it like a survey question – how the
        question is asked pushes one to make the desired result.

        I deal with statistics much of my work day and know how (let’s
        say less than honest) - management uses statistics to prove any point. The thing with humans is many have agendas
        not openly published. Truth is that hidden
        agendas are one of many human faults.

        I include myself as having many human faults – oh by the way
        I have guns in my house; please don’t try to break in. You can guess which bias I have.

  • Phil J Malloy

    look at the cities which last year started issuing carry permits, gun related deaths are down a lot since the carry permits were issued in those cities.

    this is not about hypothetical, we see it every day. you are safer in a building that is full of people with guns than you are in a gun free zone in this country

  • Phil J Malloy

    also, if its a justifiable homicide, its not "bad" and should not be used to make the numbers look worse.

  • Phil J Malloy

    From my Canadian perspective, it seems like the few and far-between
    (albeit much more common than all other developed countries) mass
    murders and the perpetual gang violence of the United States are just
    accepted collateral in the defence of an irrational and outdated
    "right."

    sounds about right, and theres nothing wrong with it either.

    do we really care if criminals are killing each other? I dont

    school shootings, while sad, are not the norm by any stretch of the imagination. You are more likely to get struck by lightning than die during a a school shooting

    just as " i would rather let 100 criminals walk instead of locking up 1 innocent person" the same goes for guns

    the loss of life if a shame, but without access to self protection, the loss could, and will be 1000000 times worse.

    on a side note, I dont even personally own any guns, but if I want to buy one, no one should have any say in the matter.

  • Phil J Malloy

    sounds to me your only interactions seem to be with trolls, I recomend you try a nice small town, rather than a big city

    • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

      Sometimes people are trolls, laying bad arguments out to dry in the sun, while waiting to ensnare unwary travelers on their way to the holy city of Smaug. Sometimes they are beacons of hope. And sometimes it's a name hurled in lieu of an argument.

    • basenjibrian

      Why are small towns automatically assumed to be nicer? They can also be narow, judgmental, and intrusive.

      • therain

        Big cities are typically full of idiot liberals, enough said.

        • basenjibrian

          Well....You told ME. therain has spoken. On the Intertubes. What more can I say?
          It must be the superior rural eductional system and values blazing through.
          Creationism, school prayer, sunset town laws, and those lovely, lovely lynchings of those who are not properly heartland hued!
          As an ex-Heartlander from a region that elected that towering intellect Dan Quayle to Congress, I have been properly chastened.

          • Don DeHart Bronkema

            Yeah: ignorance, stench & rotten teeth really impress the ladies--& hi-tek employers.

        • Don DeHart Bronkema

          they say big-city atheist pinko faggots live longer & better…sounds reasonable.

      • Phil J Malloy

        also true, But I can tell you when I walk to a new small town, GENERALLY the people are friendly

        when I visit a city, GENERALLY the people are pushy

        • basenjibrian

          yeah. city people are usually "busier", and the stresses of urban life certainly lead to a degree of brusqueness. Throw in the sense of entitlement in some "tech capital" cities like San Francisco where people think their tech toy producing companies are earth shattering. (Remember how the Segway was going to utterly revolutionize transportation!).
          Not sure I agree with the default assumption, though, that rural people are more moral. That is more what I react to. Utah consumes more porn per capita, I read somewhere, than anywhere else! :)

          • Don DeHart Bronkema

            --tek toys actually are shattering the Earth: by liberating it
            --Utes need porn to off-set impotence inflicted by the Unholy Book

        • Don DeHart Bronkema

          They are till you differ on race, religion & politix...people in cities push because the sidewalks are crowded...

          • Phil J Malloy

            well, 2 of the 3 you can contain, simply dont talk politics or religion in a new town until you know what the people there are feeling. The race thing is a little trickier, but its better than it was 10 years ago even, still progress to be made though

            I stand by what I said, Its more confortable walking down main street in "small town" than it is walking down the streets of NYC, and I feel safer as well

          • Don DeHart Bronkema

            Scale of villages is a welcome break from the megazone, but on the 2nd day, whence optical 'divertissement'?…race is sikodinamikli intractable by definition in the short term…in the long, 2 trends erase the problem

            --conventional miscegenation [a 700-year process in the States]
            --genegineering pigmentation, epicanthi, pellous texture, physiognamy & somatype to preference [3 generations]

            People like variety [vide media quadroons & octoroons], but reject extremity [one study demo'd caucasoids flinch from asymmetrical maxillary prognathism].

            Science is faster than ethics.

      • mazi

        having spent the first 20 years of my life in a mid-western small town, I agree. I was met with more bigotry of all stripes in my old small town than in any larger east coast cities that I've lived in over the last 20 years.

        now I only go back to visit my father on holidays, so he can see his grandkids. when I do visit, I am again confronted with bigotry and narrow-minded hate speech. I've had to bite my lip several times when overhearing things in the local hardware store or tavern. hell, even my father slips up and says some words that I really was hoping that my children would never have to hear in their lives (outside of history class).

        as for the guns? I know TWO friends back home who have been shot by random, stray bullets in broad daylight. thankfully both are fine. but many other friends fear going out because of new "open carry" laws; which allow men with shriveled, almost worthless penises swagger about town like the fake clint eastwood wannabes that they are... while they look for a reason to whip out their manhood and save the day.

        christ, we're in for a long ride here.

        • Don DeHart Bronkema

          Saddle up, amigo--& take a survival kit…Neanderthals can live years in the Reagan/Bush outback.

      • Don DeHart Bronkema

        boring isnt nice

  • Phil J Malloy

    we have the biggest military in the world... and we have been bested by those in afghan, iraq, korea, and Vietnam. they beat the best military in the world. I like to believe the american people could do the same if it came down to it

    • Hominid

      Nonsense!

  • John Ecash

    Homer your comment is very closed minded. I see you trolling, bit I don't hate you for it. I pitty you for having your eyes and heart closed off to learning something new

  • gogododo

    Really, Americans learn nothing from other cultures. I a someone who is American by birth (what ever that mean ) and geography find my self constantly learning and to a large extent appropriating from other cultures. I find no shortage of people who are learning from other cultures. I find no shortage of cultural bigot either, but why would I waste my life on them. Hell everywhere has trolls and if you immigrated here why not spend your time with people you respect, instead of A_holes which you can find anywhere. I"m not trying to say where you come from or any other home you may have had didn't also happen to have awesome people, but I find at least what make people awesome is unique to there environment (and the US is too big geographically to be one place) whereas a_holes are pretty much fungible no mater where they are.. Sound to me like you are just becoming what you hate a cultural bigot.

  • http://elitistagenda.com/ Harry Cardillo

    More people are killed by drunk drivers each year then by LEGAL GUNS. And in comparison to alcohol related deaths the number of LEGAL GUN homicides is about 1/2 that number. By way of example, in 2010 and 2011 the CDC did a study. In those years there were approximately 32,000 gun deaths. Of those, around 60% were suicides. About 3% were accidental deaths (less than 1,000). About 34% of those deaths (just over 11,000 in both 2010 and 2011) make up the remainder of gun deaths. The FBI in 2011 had an even lower number. The FBI put the number of gun related homicides for 2011 at 8,583. No matter which number you accept, of those remaining gun homicides, in 2011 half were gang related. There were 10,322 drunk driving fatalities in 2012. And 9,865 in 2011. Not only are drunk driving fatalities increasing, but clearly you are more likely (twice as likely) to die at the hands of a drunk driver than you will be murdered by a LEGAL GUN. Why are there no cries to ban alcohol?

    http://elitistagenda.com/2014/06/12/elitist-playbook-101-emotions-and-fears-replace-facts-and-logic/

    • Phil J Malloy

      shhh, you cant bring common sense truth to a gun debate who do you think you are? lol

  • john

    The problem with individuals who have no math training is that they cannot analyze numbers and draw a cogent conclusion. Thus you have people cherry picking numbers to suit their own desires. For instance if you use the FBI's numbers the overall murder rate fell by 10.2% between 2008 and 2012. However the firearm murder rate only decreased by 7% between 2008 and 2012.All the data sets demonstrate that firearm murders are decreasing far slower than other murder types. The percentage of overall murders committed with firearms actually increased 2.4% between 2008 and 2012. This data, insignificant due to small sample size, indicates the US maybe seeing a downtrend in the violence in society. But overall, firearm murders are decreasing at a far slower rate than other types of murders.

    • Phil J Malloy

      the real problem is why people even care what tool is used, the end result is the same. ALL murder is bad! the tool used to do so, be it a car, a hammer a fist or a gun has nothing to do with that.

      i dont know why anti gun people focus so much on gun deaths (while ignoring inner city gang wars) and dont seem to me phased by death committed in other ways

      • john

        Perhaps because every serious statistical study shows that more restrictive gun laws actually decrease the total number of homicides? The easier it is to kill people the more people will get killed.

        • Phil J Malloy

          really? because in any city that has made it easier for law abiding citizens to get a carry permit, crime dropped

          in Switzerland, where all citizens have a gun by law, there is almost murder.

          im not sure what study you are reading but guns have been easier to get legally in the past number of years, gun related deaths are down 50%, explain that one...

          • MumbleMumble

            Maybe john was reading the studies that were directly mentioned in this article. Like the 30 year study out of Boston University.

            Your numbers aren't wrong, although they are deeply misleading (and not very clear). Gun crime has decreased by about 50% since 1993. However, it has decreased across the entire country, regardless of individual state gun laws. Also, it is worth mentioning that a lot of that decrease occurred when Clinton was in office and implementing tougher gun-control policy.

          • Phil J Malloy

            fair enough mumble, I think all this shows is that statistics can be used to show anything, we can both use the same numbers, and come up with the exact opposite conclusion

            now, if we look only at the 2 cities that started allowing carry permits last year, both cities crime rate has dropped dramatically in 1 year, even the mayor of one of those cities, a liberal no less, came out and said that the carry laws were directly responsible for the change ( i think the leaders above made him stand down from that claim afterwards though)

          • MumbleMumble

            I'm not sure which two cities you mean, what the total decrease was, what types of crime decreased, and what kind of changes in crime other cities had. However, without knowing any of that, I would say that one year is not a terribly long time for an academic study, and that two cities is not a great sample size.

            There have been a lot of changes in gun control legislation over the years at all levels (local, state, federal). I hope that we will keep seeing studies that look at the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of gun control laws on preventing crime. I also hope that the NRA stops trying to prevent these kinds of studies from taking place.

          • dwpittelli

            Pro-gun groups are not opposed to research on guns; they are opposed to tendentious research on guns.

            "In 2014, lawmakers ensured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not get a dollar out of the US budget"

            But the Centers for Disease Control is not the proper bureaucracy to manage such studies, as its expertise is in disease. Doctors understandably care about gun violence because it is they who perform the trauma surgeries which result, but doctors know little about the sociology of gun use, and medical journals print some of the most tendentious results-oriented garbage in the field. More to the point, the federal government continues to fund numerous academic studies on the use of guns. Such studies are properly carried out by criminologists and sociologists, not by the CDC.

          • MumbleMumble

            The CDC is more than qualified to study gun violence, and it is certainly within their purview. They don't just look at diseases; they examine many topics that impact people's health. I don't see the NRA clamoring for the CDC to stop any work on domestic abuse.

            There are lots of disagreements in the social sciences. These disagreements lead to discussion and further study. What the NRA has done is to limit discussion, because they didn't like what was being said.

          • john
  • jack_k1

    Freedom has a price. Tyranny has a price. The middle ground also has a price, thus guaranteeing pundits lifetime employment.

  • john

    From the largest study ever of guns in the US done in 2013

    Results. Gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates (incidence rate ratio = 1.009; 95% confidence interval  = 1.004, 1.014). This model indicated that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%.

    Conclusions. We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership
    and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.

    Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301409?journalCode=ajph

  • Janet Williams

    Justifiable homicides went up? If they're "justifiable" then each one represents a victim who was NOT raped. Or beaten. Or robbed. Isn't that a good thing?

    • selimibn

      That is, “justifiable” including the new criteria. Most likely, homicides that would not have been considered justifiable before the Stand Your Ground law, were now considered so.

      • Janet Williams

        Stand your ground is a specific defense. The defense attorney has to say, "I am using the SYG defense".

        For example, in the Trayvon case, Zimmerman did NOT use the SYG defense. He claimed he was being attacked. Head bashed against the curb. SYG isn't necessary. No "new criteria" needed.

        Actually, studies have shown that, for example, in Florida more black defendants have benefited from the SYG defense.

        • selimibn

          Well, you might be right, but in any case, the argument that last paragraph is making is still pretty unequivocal: “justified” homicides have grown in the wake of SYG-style laws, that explicitely aim to enlarge the “justified” category.

          • Janet Williams

            Yes. The point of the law WAS to "enlarge the "justified" category. As opposed to the victim category.

            You know the stories about a burglar breaking in with an axe, the homeowner shooting him....and the burglar suing? Or the homeowner being prosecuted? And how unfair that always seems? The purpose of SYG is to prevent that situation.

  • MikeHatton47025

    In a way..I have to agree with you Homer. It seems to me (my opinion only) that for a long time now that the American citizen is getting dumber by the second! But..again my opinion only, that we Americans can no longer "trust" the ones who govern. I live in a small Mid-Western town, hunt, target shoot & an also one of the many conceal carry owners. I would love to go into the "big city" without my weapon, but, with all the rising crime (muggings, beatings, robbery etc) I cannot. I am also disabled and will not be a target! I also feel like any man today, I feel it's my duty to protect my wife and children. Homer, "I" think you should really look into the "real crime" numbers here in the U.S., because you will not find anything resembling whats really going on in the big cities by the media! Please Homer, do your own research on crime! If you do, you'll find that the majority of we, the "real" gun owners, are nothing like "Rambo". Because like most respectable gun owners, I PRAY that I never have to draw my weapon to do harm to someone else, but, God help me..I will.

    • therain

      Well, a bunch of idiots did vote obama in twice (if we ignore the fraud), so I guess you're right. Thankfully, voters now see the truth, and conservatives are taking the Senate back.

    • Kyle Johnson

      If I ever want to determine if someone is an idiot I usually ask him if he believes crime is rising. If they say yes, I can be reasonably assured that they are idiots and not worth listening to. Almost all measures of violent and material crime show a sustained decline. In fact the only truly terrifying statistic is the number of gun-homicides in the US. Please don't come into my city concealing your weapon. You are not welcome.

  • Marcos Eliziario

    Ask the vietcong, the afghans or Fidel Castro if they think the same as you.

  • dwpittelli

    This is a collection of half-truths and non sequiturs, most of them presented elsewhere many times previously.

    -- "for every defensive use of a gun to kill an attacker, there were 36 other criminal homicides." -- Most defensive uses don't end with the death of the attacker; if they did, you'd be decrying that.

    -- "after every mass shooting, pro-gun lobbies trot out the same tired arguments.... In recent years, they have taken to blaming the mentally ill. But numerous papers have pointed out the very weak correlation between mental health and firearm homicides." -- But there is a much stronger correlation between mental health and mass shootings. A study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.”

    -- "In 2014, lawmakers ensured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not get a dollar out of the US budget" -- The Centers for Disease Control is not the proper bureaucracy to manage such studies, as its expertise is in disease. Doctors understandably care about gun violence because it is they who perform the trauma surgeries which result, but doctors know little about the sociology of gun use, and medical journals print some of the most tendentious results-oriented garbage in the field. More to the point, the federal government continues to fund numerous academic studies on the use of guns. Such studies are properly carried out by criminologists and sociologists, not by the CDC.

    This paper also ignores that fact that of the 84 mass shootings in the last 50 years, all but 2 have been in "gun free zones." And the fact that violent crime has been cut in half in the last 20 years "despite" marked increases in gun ownership, and "despite" most states moving to allow people to carry guns in public. Finally, correlations between statewide gun ownership and homicide do not show that guns increase homicide, because owners have free will and are more likely to choose to buy a gun when they know their surroundings are dangerous; that is, causation just as likely runs in the other direction. (Comparisons of the US to Britain are especially bogus, because Britain has consistently had a relatively low homicide rate for over 300 years.)

  • roier

    People -- and gun lovers especially -- love saying: "Guns don't kill people ... people kill people!"

    Well, you can't have it both ways ... Guns don't save people ... people save people!

    • strayhuman@hotmail.com

      You are absolutely correct and in each case the gun is the tool, not the cause.

  • Mike Rubin

    The Heller decision now makes irrelevant most Gun Violence Enablers' contentions that we want to "take away the guns." We couldn't even if we wanted to.

    Unfortunately, it's these folks whose rights are set in granite under Heller who are *the* greatest gun menaces in the United States, a point substantiated thousands of times yearly . The real gun violence problem in this country comes from people who can pass all the background checks and buy guns legally, not hostile strangers.

    Responsible Gun Owners never can admit what the statistics show: It is the Responsible Gun Owner who gets angry, depressed, crazy, drunk or careless and NOT a hostile stranger who threatens you or someone else. Own a gun and you are between five and twenty times a greater danger (depending on demographics and the specific study) to your friends, family, and self than TO or IS any hostile stranger, including home invaders, daughter rapists, Bad Guys with Guns, and tyrants. Stranger threats are a relative rounding error in gun violence compared to people who pass background checks and buy guns legally but then have their guns used against family, friends, or selves.

    I have yet to meet or otherwise interact with a gun owner who isn't prepared to write off all the victims of the Second Amendment - people killed by jealous dads, drunk uncles, curious little brothers, or themselves while playing around with guns - as collateral damage, a small sacrifice, in their war against largely phantom dangers. The comments thread for any Internet gun violence article or essay shows this, with tiny-dikked gun violence enablers repeating endlessly that their right to Second Amendment anyone who gets in the way trumps other people's rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness or raising idiotic false equivalencies like "cars and knives kill people so they should be banned, too."

    Until Responsible Gun Owners start taking more seriously the risk they pose to those who know and love them, there literally is nothing we can do to prevent ourselves from being victimized by those who pose the most statistically significant threat to us.

    • Ace Allen

      That is your inference, and not statistics. Statistics, based on the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics have proven there is no correlation between gun ownership and crime. The only "statistic" that people in favor of gun control ever cite is "gun crime," only the means of which the crime is committed is irrelevant. In cities across America, there is a statistically significant correlation between higher gun ownership and lower violent crime rates. Does that indicate a cause-effect relationship? No. But it also disproves the claim by gun control advocates that more guns = more crime.

      Throughout most of the rest of the world, there is no statistically significant correlation between gun control and violent crime. Remember, the key factor being all violent crime. Low gun ownership can decrease the number of shootings, but it also typically increases the number of rapes, assaults and robberies. The only difference in those scenarios is that the bigger person almost always wins that fight.

      • Mike Rubin

        It's because the statistics show that, depending on demographics and the study, the guns owned by lawful purchasers are between five and twenty times more likely to be used on friends, family, and gun owner than against any hostile stranger that I am not a gun control advocate any longer. Gun control can work only at the margins; the real problem is exactly as I described: people who pass background checks, buy guns legally, and then get angry, depressed, crazy, drunk or careless. Stranger crime is much, much less frequent than crimes or accidents committed against you by someone who knows you -- and that's before we get to the suicides, which present more difficult statistic analyses, of course.

        Harvard University says the correlation you claim between high rates of gun ownership and "all" violent crime does not exist, just as it doesn't exist between higher rates of gun ownership and gun crimes. So we aren't going to agree on that point, either. (And I'll save you your breath if you intend to argue that there are "2.5 million DGU's each year": those statistics are from a flawed study, are not correlated with any crime statistics at all, are not corroborated by any other study, and are beyond counterintuitive, considering that, in a lifetime of 80 years, the average person would have the opportunity to be "exposed" to 200 million DGU's, yet no one on earth ever has witnessed or even been told about more than a relative handful per year. Yeah, I know the last point isn't scientifically valid, but it's a good common sense validation for the first three.)

        It is clear to me that, at the end of the day, the only valid argument against gun statistics that a gun owner can make is "yeah, but I like moar gunz." If that's your position, I respect it and can't do anything about it even if I did not, as I pointed out initially. However, it does NOT make your family, friends, or you safer. You don't care? That's your business. There's no question that the law completely protects your right to make that decision and the decision itself.

        • Ace Allen

          I'm not sure we have to "agree" on that point, considering the statistics back up my assertion. The good thing about statistics is that they're not really up for debate.

          I'm also not sure where you get that I said there was a correlation between gun ownership and violent crime. I never said there was (there is a slight negative correlation in the US, but not worldwide). The key to that study is that without proving a causal link between guns and crime (or at least, a correlation), you really have no argument in favor of gun control. That is the point.

          Going back to your argument, your first assertion is largely irrelevant in the macro scale. If you take an insignificant number, and you multiply it by an absurd factor, you still have a relatively insignificant number. By contrast, when you have real rates of violent crime that are not statistically insignificant, and you demonstrate either no correlation or a negative correlation, then you've got a valid argument.

          On the other hand, you're bringing up conjecture and possibly hyperbole as to what happens in shootings. Remember, getting angry at your friend while drunk and shooting him would still be listed under violent crime. The reasons are irrelevant, as are the contributing factors. I'm guessing that the point of your argument here is that more guns = more shooting people over parking spaces (or anything else). Even if that assertion were true (and I have the time nor the desire to accumulate statistics on individual motivations for crimes), the extra lives taken in your examples seems to pale in comparison by the reduced numbers of murders, rapes, robberies and assaults in areas with strong gun control. Thus, your examples are rendered moot.

          If 10 drunken rednecks or gangbangers have to die in order to prevent 10 women from being raped, 5 retirees old men from being mugged, 5 men from being brutally beaten and 10 women from being murdered, well then it's a good trade-off.

          This isn't about the conjecture here, this is about the statistics.

          • Mike Rubin

            My only point was, and rema8ns,that, unless you are a career criminal, the only significant gun violence problem you are likely to encounter is caused by someone you know, not a hostile stranger. Arming yourself against hostile strangers is largely a fantasy rationale, but it enables a large number of gun deaths. You want to dismiss that as a concern at the macro level, you're free to continue shrugging your shoulders while jealous dad shoots mom, drunk Uncle Frank shoots the kid who came into the back yard to retrieve his football, and cousin Tommy shoots your kid with your gun while they are playing with it. Hostile strangers are less of a threat than people who know you. But I am repeating myself. Have a good day.

  • Mike Rubin

    Seriously, is there one ammosexual who understands the concept of social utility? The magnificence of your false equivalency is breathtaking.

  • Joshua Smith

    "firearms still account for half the suicides"

    Oh really? I wonder if it's like this: "Okay, I just got this new gun; I wonder what I should d―Oh! I know! I'll use it to decorate the walls with my own brains!"

    The reality is that guns "account for" 0% of suicides, and you fucking know it. Things like clinical depression, terminal illness, and miserable and painful life circumstances account for close to 100% of suicides. If you are interested in reducing suicides, find better treatments for depression, cancer, and Alzheimer's, and try to find and eliminate the things that make life suck.

    I also consider it disingenuous to include suicides in gun violence statistics at all. You know damn well that when you cite your beloved 30K, most people who read the statistic will have in mind violent attacks, when close to two-thirds of that number are self-inflicted. Shame.

    • http://cleverity.blogspot.com/ cleverity

      Big fan of spontaneous suicides, myself. And for medical professionals never to limit or warn against or even ask about access, as guns are of 'no account'--

      Mostly, the more potentially lethal a thing is, the more regulation that thing gets for its legal use. Cars are dangerous [more so accidentally than incidentally], so require a decent amount of licensing. Sixteen-wheelers? More dangerous [again, more so accidentally [and those -accidents- reduced because of heavy licensing]]. Prop-planes? Jets? Insane amounts of regulation, because they can kill quite a lot of people if poorly used [gosh, just imagine if flying a jet were as easy as getting a gun, eh? that'd be some NYC skyline]. Guns, tho? Fatal [and more incidental than accidental] requiring near-zero [white and male, wow [talk about inbreeding low bars]] reality-checks that they are not lethally used--

      But guns: They don't make life suck for anyone, and any suckage is just... God's will. Or divine state mandate.

      • Joshua Smith

        "And for medical professionals never to limit or warn against or even ask about access, as guns are of 'no account'--"
        Totally irrelevant. Medical professionals also don't limit access to helium or nitrogen, which are absolutely fantastic for suicide. Why don't medical professionals "limit or warn against or even ask about access"? Because they're not fucking medicine, and they're not an illness or a risk factor for illness (short of maybe lead poisoning if you play around with bullets too much and don't wash your hands). If you told your physician you intended to shoot yourself, you could expect to be warned (and possibly more), just as you would be if you told that physician you intended to suck helium for several minutes.

        I'm ignoring the middle paragraph (amusing as its incoherency toward the end was), as it has nothing whatsoever to do with my comment, and I prefer to give red herrings exactly the attention they deserve.

        "But guns: They don't make life suck for anyone, and any suckage is just... God's will."
        So do you think that guns not only are a means of committing suicide, but actually drive people to suicide? Be honest here.

        • http://cleverity.blogspot.com/ cleverity

          You must not understand what 'accounts for' means. However do you process tabled data?--

          They do, actually: That's why there's so little access to methods of suicide in mental health wards. To dispute that a tool whose primary [not secondary or at further remove] function is to cause death [fact ubiquitous with function] warrants concern as to proximity to those who are deemed suicidal: Ease [by function] increases potential. Messy as a shotgun is, it's clean in quite a few other ways, and -common methods- up for practical discussion--

          I don't believe in magic, sorry. What I do believe, is that violence by tools of violence is apropos; that suicide is so strongly fused in the domain a gun entails, to say that a thing signifying death by its dumbfoundingly obvious use does not ever at all support and condone the deaths which come from that use, is to be so disingenuously ignorant as to warrant a psych eval itself [hopeless wishing, yay]--

          The middle paragraph stands on its own [context being the article, not your shit].

          • Joshua Smith

            Phrasal Verb:
            account for
            1. To constitute the governing or primary factor in: Bad weather accounted for the long delay.
            2. To provide an explanation or justification for: The suspect couldn't account for his time that night.

            And I'm not even going to try to parse the rest of what you wrote. Form clear and distinct ideas before you type them. Then read it over, preferably out loud, and see if what you wrote forms coherent ideas.

          • http://cleverity.blogspot.com/ cleverity

            Oh, the etymological fallacy. That accounts for that fuckwittery.

          • Joshua Smith

            Oh my god, you are dumber than a box of rocks. No, I am dealing with the word the way it is actually used by people, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the etymological fallacy.

          • http://cleverity.blogspot.com/ cleverity

            Well, illiteracy [natural or fabricated] tends to compound fallacies. Since 'explanation' is -how-, and 'justification' is -why-, I'm fine with changing it to the fallacy of equivocation--

            Oh, look: Now your idiocy better accounted for--

            We could go with prosecutor's or referential just as easily. Are you any better with diagrams?

          • Joshua Smith

            You should have stuck to your earlier one-sentence response about it being equivocation rather than the etymological fallacy instead of one more rambling mess to add to the pile.

            But no, not equivocation either. "Account for" simply does not have the sense you think it does in the language of literate people. And, while it could be a simple mistake in word choice on the part of the writer, why even mention it in an article like this if you're not trying to implicate the guns themselves in the suicides? Further supporting this is the citation about the mentally ill being more likely to kill themselves if they have access to guns. (This is a "well, duh" thing--I would be shocked if they're not also more likely to kill themselves if they have access to razor blades or rope. Also, most other developed countries have higher suicide rates than America does, and most of those suicides are not committed using guns.)

          • http://cleverity.blogspot.com/ cleverity

            No, really: Equivocation. Very few misunderstood [trust me: I'm not a chiseling illiterate] and were able to parse w/o a second thought that 'accounts for' denoted how a certain amount of suicides were done. No else shat themselves publicly on that point--

            But really, American Gun Culture [a nurtured thing [oh, no: another designation of category, and we know how unequivocally good you are with these]] exists. Your denial that that [oo, scary] 'accounts for' the prevalent use of guns is [how does one say?] religious in its delusion--

            And no, not most others; and no, not that many significantly higher, not that America's is 'low'. In fact, to be high at all, there tends to be massive stressors of some sort [sometimes cultural; sometimes circumstantial]. What, Japan hasn't nurtured suicide itself as legitimately [albeit anachronistically as an appeal to conservative tradition [there's a trope too alien, right?] Japanese, and America not nurtured death [incl. suicide] -by gun- as legitimately American [that's some Alamo-ny check, wha]? Oh, for a indoctrinated patriotic identity sane enough to adapt rationally when outmoded--

            Sorry: Ease of access affects ease of use for an otherwise useless [tho oft-fellated] object of worship, and when that object of real [not imagined] violence comprises a technology most ethic has yet to evolve rational limits for [Moore's law doesn't really apply on that account [which excludes those ethics based in the bronze age]]? --

            The 'always enough rope' argument [despite rope being a multipurpose tool] really isn't a very good 'never enough guns' argument [so singular in purpose, it's practically maladaptive]--

            And what you would not be shocked by [coughretch, coughretch] would be the racist, rapist and latent homoeroticism in American gun culture. It's as if the culture doesn't exist in an equivocated vacuum.

  • http://cleverity.blogspot.com/ cleverity

    Ah, yes: The Second Amendment promise of a larger penis as means for White Males to steal land and rape persons of personhood has become historic overkill?--

    And the Constitution a religious document for fanatics because of it?--

    A yee-haw! for the gewgaw of the fascist Xtian Jihad.

  • http://elitistagenda.com/ Harry Cardillo

    Odd that you feel this way, because while the police departments here in the US are militarizing themselves, your country seems be be pretty much a George Orwell nightmare of surveillance:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6108496.stm

  • kenville

    UN and CDC data debunk these nit-picked stats in spades. It's time people do their homework on the full context. My question to the author is if this is ignorance or intentionally deceptive rhetoric.

    • Axle Rows

      The latter. Intentionally deceptive rhetoric is the hallmarks of the duplicitous foreign ideology that is today's liberalism.

  • strayhuman@hotmail.com

    I was actually hoping to find a real discussion on this. But alas like most anti-gun propaganda they use the ~33,000 gun deaths a year which includes suicides. I am not saying suicides are not a problem, but NOT ONE OF US HAS TO FEAR someone who wants to kill themselves. We should only be concerned with the ~11,000 murders a year committed with guns.

  • Fox_Butterfield

    No national gun rights organization and no national politician actually argues that there should be "no licences" or "no background checks."

    Most pro-gun people *do* oppose new restrictions such as "smart-gun" requirements, "assault weapon" bans and additional background checks, but that's largely because not even the most ideological social scientist can show that such new restrictions would have any meaningful impact. The NRA did recently switch their position away from being in favor of expanding background checks, but their argument is that the feds don't prosecute felons/etc. who try to illegally buy anyway, and so expanded checks would just be a burden on law abiding people without stopping bad guys.

    As for NRA lobbying, they spend less than the American Librarians Association or the American Association of Pediatricians lobbying Congress--about $1m to $2m per year. They spend far less than anti-gun lobbyists: Bloomberg just pledged $50m to fight guns. The NRA isn't exactly super scary.

  • MWBailey

    Gun ownership or, at least, the number of firearms in private possession has climbed steadily for the last two decades, but fire arm deaths have dropped. How do social scientists explain this fact.

    • LarryTX

      They don't as it doesn't support their world view

  • Soldiermedic

    Quoting a study by the anti-gun group VPC... really balanced... not!

  • Soldiermedic

    Widely publicized, the well-regulated militia applying only to the National Guard is a 20th century invention (especially considering the National Guard didn't exist until the 20th century and anyone could organize a militia in the 18th and 19th century). Furthermore, the milita act passed soon after the constitution was passed stated all males between 17-45 were considered militia members. The link below is provided by Brian Halonen of UWM, from the Oxford dictionary.

    http://www.constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm

  • LarryTX

    Social science is pseudo science. Conclusions based on pseudo science are suspect and subject to bias.

    • Axle Rows

      Precisely. A big part of the problem is mis-use and over-use of the word "science". Statistical analysis, for example, is not "science", it's statistical analysis.

      "Science" depends upon empirical data collected through controlled, repeatable experiments.

  • aed939

    This article ignores the predominant way having guns prevent crime. When there is a high rate of gun ownership in the general population, there are less attempts in the first place, so there is a high deterrent. It is unclear if and how the article takes this into account.

    • Zaoldyeck

      It isn't ignoring that, it's calling into question if that is a fact or not. "there are less attempts in the first place, so there is a high deterrent" is what needs to be substantiated, when evidence appears to indicate that the only statistic which actually increases directly as a result of gun ownership is gun-related deaths.

      "Eliminate all guns" won't eliminate all crime, hell, it probably won't even eliminate all gun violence, but the argument "violence would increase" or "deaths would skyrocket because people can't protect themselves anymore" seems to have very little to support it.

      • Ace Allen

        Good thing there are statistics to back up his assertion that gun ownership prevents crime, then. The author doesn't cite any meaningful statistics except "gun crime." Because you know, it's okay to murder, rape and brutalize people--except if you do it with a gun.

  • Zaoldyeck

    " "about 32,000 people are shot and killed every year" since 2/3 of those are suicides that would have killed themselves anyway"

    What makes you think this is true? "They would have killed themselves anyway"? Most successful suicides aren't actually on the first try, but the surprising thing about attempting suicide is that it seems to actually bolster one's income, and that money up to a certain level that *does* increase happiness and self-esteem (no money causes unhappiness but money's ability to buy happiness hits diminishing returns pretty quickly)

    The idea is that a suicide attempt is a very visible thing which kinda jolts everyone you know into providing support, as well as opening you up to a lot more subsidized mental health options. People tend to notice when you try to kill yourself. It's a lot easier to get help.

    People who commit suicide don't seem to want to die, few indicate that they expect death to be pleasant or feel death is awesome. Suicide is much more often an attempt at release, people feel miserable in their own lives so much like a person in a burning building, they'd rather jump out the window that let themselves burn to death.

    Guns are an effective suicide method but there are a lot of other methods, many of which don't have the same efficacy and that's a good thing because no, not everyone who tries to kill themselves are going to successfully do so. Someone without access to a gun might very well attempt a method of suicide with a lower success rate, I'm perfectly ok with that.

    If guns are the most popular suicide method, and suicide kills off tens of thousands of people each year... we really might want to have a conversation about guns and how they relate to suicide.

  • usarian

    >>In 1997, the rate of firearm deaths among children under 15 years old was about 12 times higher in the US than the combined rate for 25 other industrialised countries

    Why do people compare a nation composed of 50 completely different states to little countries scattered around the globe and pretend it's a reasonable juxtaposition? Add 25 more for crying out loud! That's like saying Germany has 1000 more McDonalds Restaurants than 5 medium sized cities combined - it's idiotic

    Regarding the larger point, most Americans - on either side of the aisle - do not understand what's being pursued when gun reduction arises. You'll hear old arguments trotted out - "if you take away the guns from the good guys then only the bad guys will have them" - a true statement obviously but it talks past what the intent is: a reduction in the total number of weapons in a geographical area statistically reduces the number of shootings that can happen -- as in, if on average .2 human to human shootings happen per gun, then educing the total number of guns will reduce the total number of shootings - also true.

    But at what cost?

    Despite what Conservative's inelequently argue every waking moment of every waking day - the actual reson that we all oppose gun legislation is not because we are wary of government (we rightly are of course, but that's not the actual reason).

    At the root of it all is freedom. Not some flag waving nonsensical word with no actual meaning that everybody has everywhere - I'm talking about actual freedom.

    If guns are illegal, then you aren't free to own one. It's that simple. If you aren't free to own a gun, than one piece of freedom has been taken away. And each tiny piece of freedom is worth killing for, worth dying for, worth losing a child for.

    Another piece of freedom that's just as valuable is religion. And they're trying to take that away from us too. We used to educate our kids in public schools according to the religion of our choice. Now the only religion that's taught in schools is humanism. Teachers no longer have the freedom to discuss religion with students under any circumstances, even if they ask.

    Speech - you cannot express opinions that are socially objectionable. We lost that freedom

    Taxes - Americans hate a government that engorges itself on the sweat of others like the European governments do. We understand that governments are inherently corrupt. We have lost the freedom to keep our money and pay only a reasonable tax - especially businesses. Politicians from all parties collude with large corporations and the tax burden has fallen onto the shoulders of smaller businesses instead, robbing communities of opportunities for local jobs and higher wages

    and so on.

    Americans want to keep their guns, but not because maybe the government may someday turn evil, but because the very fact that the government is so lustful to aggregate freedoms away from citizens and purse all freedom to be doled out as the oligarchy of politicians and billionaires sees fit - all this is evidence of a government that is already vile and corrupt and needs to be overthrown. Currently the nation is in a stalemate. Half the country wants the government to hammer down all resistance, the other half wants the governmnt as a unit to shrink back into the hole where it came from and take all it's corporate puppetmasters with it. At some point in the future either the citizens will finally regain control of the government and economic systems via voting to localize governance and law back to the states -- or -- the government will continue to become more and more tyrannical and eventually (a century from now, maybe) localized violence will begin to break out.

    Americans are must more sensitive to tyranny than Europeans are - they've lived with it for centuries and only recently are breaking out of it. For us our history is about people who did whatever they wanted - great things - and there was no one to stop them. Half of the greatness of the past is now illegal for safety reasons or would require forms and permits and fees first --> this is what tyranny looks like. We can drive 3,000 miles without ever needing to go get a passport, Europeans dont have that. They are incapable of understand what it's like to be completely free. We had it and lost it.

    • usarian

      ugh. my comments are always soo ridiculously verbose

  • Dracovert

    "Bad governments" are by definition psychopathic governments. With the forcible termination of the psychopathic leaders of Germany and Japan in 1945, the remaining psychopathic systems were Marxism and militant Islam.

    If you do not understand what psychopathy is, you need to learn. Ignorance could cost you your life. Barack Hussein Obama scores high on Dr. Robert Hare's Psychopathy Check List, which includes items such as pathological lying, parasitic lifestyle, irresponsibility, and a grandiose sense of self worth.

  • Jed Fribley

    Do guns save lives?

    The best statistics that I have found relating to this question are those compiled by the economist John Lott in a book entitled "More guns, less crime", which is mentioned several times in the wikipedia article on "Gun violence in the United States". The database he examined included crime statistics for every county in the United States over a thirty year period.

    So naturally, I looked to see how Mr. Srinivasan dealt with Lott's statistical analysis. The author does not even mention his work, not even to dismiss him.

  • Ace Allen

    What a crap article. The only "data" presented is simply "gun crimes." It's almost as if the author's propaganda piece were deliberately manipulating the data in order to skew opinion towards his own....

    If a gun is the preferred method of causing or preventing crime, then that statistic is naturally going to be the highest. This is called a False Cause Fallacy.

    A Harvard study by two former gun control advocates verifies that there is no correlation between gun ownership and violent crime (with a slight statistically significant negative correlation in the United States). Simply put, you cannot focus only on "gun crime" to dispute gun advocates' claim that gun ownership prevents crime. The only thing you can do is look at ALL violent crime.

    From a less technical and statistical standpoint: firearms are considered the "great equalizer." An 80-year old woman with a pistol has an advantage over a 6'5" 250 lb attacker. If they both have a pistol, they are still on relatively equal footing. However, if neither of them have a pistol, then the 80-year old woman doesn't have the slightest chance in hell to defend against her attacker. The data suggests that without guns, it becomes a "might makes right" situation, where the bigger and stronger prey upon the weak.

    So in other words, if you take away citizens' access to firearms in the United States, you will obviously see a decrease in "gun crime" but you also see an increase in rapes, assaults, robberies and even burglaries (which may or may not be a violent crime, depending on if the occupants are home). It's a dirty trick that the gun control advocates use to obfuscate the reality of firearms ownership in the United States.

  • Billy___Bob

    Of the 32,000 people shot and killed, aren't 10,000 of those suicides?

  • Axle Rows

    Social science isn't really science, it's nothing more than statistical analysis. Statistical analysis not being science.

    Part of the problem, today, is over-use and mis-use of the word "science".

  • Axle Rows

    It would be interesting to do a study of Cambodia, before the Khmer Rouge, to determine if gun ownership would have prevented the murder of some 2 million people by the Khmer Rouge in the names of "fairness", "equality", and "human rights".

  • Axle Rows

    If you look at unarmed groups like the Yazidis, in Iraq, it seems reasonable to conclude that their lack of guns has made them easy prey for the armed gangs associated with ISIS.

  • SmokeStackTreeTops .

    Just yesterday, a crazed Islamic with a knife beheaded a woman and was working on murdering a second woman when he was shot by some one with a gun.

    Yes, absolute proof that guns save lives.

  • Lesbian Conservative

    Perhaps after the savage beheading in Oklahoma, the author and some of those folks who commented might wish to reassess their opinions. If it weren't for a citizen with a gun, a second woman would have met her death at that Oklahoma workplace and probably many more people would have also died before the police arrived on the scene.

    And if you're looking for research into gun violence, how about the latest FBI study that shows that two-thirds of the crimes like the one in OK are over long before the police arrive on the scene. In other words, if some nut arrives at your school, place of work, or your favorite Starbucks hangout with a gun, machete, carving knife, or hatchet, the chances of you being saved by the timely arrival of the police are slim indeed.

    And let's not forget that the biggest jump in gun sales is among women. So all this anti-gun rhetoric isn't fooling people. You would have to be brain dead or maybe just a liberal living in a cocoon of political cotton candy to believe that passivity is empowerment.

  • CLOWNICANS

    Good article with a compound of truth, The present tells us that the future will be much worse as the bullet fly's on. living in an Rural area down South the guns blast constant on the weekends being annoying and so devolving to my taste for Humans and that need to pull triggers of power. To me it's us and them, And us is better of course.

  • Don DeHart Bronkema

    out

  • Don DeHart Bronkema

    2nd Amendment is pure anachronic farce: seize guns, confiscate bullets, prohibit 3-D printifacture, 12-15 in slammer for possession.

  • Don DeHart Bronkema

    NRA was once just a hunter's club; then it was captured by the gun industry…behold the body-count!