France and Germany are Having a Tough Go Lately

Most people are aware of the largest terrorist attacks that have rocked Paris and Nice in recent months, and the Charlie Hebdo attacks that preceded them, but whether terrorism-related or just “plain” crime, both countries are seeing their fair shares of violence recently.

In France:

Driver attempts to run over pedestrians, injuring several in Dijon (December 2014).

An AK-47-wielding man attempts to kill people on a high-speed train bound for Paris (August 2015).

Muslim man kills (disarmed) French police chief and his wife while streaming it on Facebook (June 2016).

Muslim man stabs a woman and her three daughters in Laragne (July 2016).

Muslim attackers storm Normandy church and brutally kill the priest during Sunday Mass (July 2016).

In Germany:

“Drive-by” shooting in Bavaria (July 2015).

Man takes hostages at gunpoint in a Viernheim movie theater (June 2016).

An axe-wielding man severely injures several aboard a Bavarian train (July 2016).

Young man commits mass shooting at Munich shopping center (July 2016).

Syrian refugee kills woman in Reutlingen with machete (July 2016).

Another Syrian refugee detonates himself in Ansbach, in apparent suicide bombing attempt (July 2015).

Patient shoots to death his doctor at Berlin-area hospital (July 2016).

On the whole, these are not necessarily indicative of any statistically significant uptick in violence.  But, they do anecdotally highlight the fact that Europe is not particularly “civilized” in comparison to the rest of the world and that Europeans are not immune to violence – whether perpetrated with guns or without.

Welcome to the real world, however unfortunate and tragic it may be.  Burying our heads in the sand and pretending that bad things do not, or will not, happen is ignorant and dangerous.

What these incidences also prove is that gun control – and France and Germany are both extreme implementers of gun control, of the type many American hoplophobes would love to implement here – is not effective at preventing horrific violence generally.  It does not prevent willed people from taking advantage of these very laws.  Bad guys find ways to do bad things, and police are often unavailable to quickly assess and assist in such situations until it is too late.  Indeed, France not only has trouble enforcing so-called “gun-free zones,” the country’s police now apparently have a problem enforcing “truck-free zones” as well.  Trust in the State to have your best interests at heart if you will, but I know this to be complete fallacy.

This is one of the chief reasons I continue to resist modern efforts for more gun control, because the only person guaranteed to be with me at all times, and to care sufficiently about me, is myself.  The only person one can rely upon, realistically, is one’s self (and perhaps one’s closest loved ones).

The French and German states are at least partially to blame for these deaths and injuries, as these respective States ban their own law-abiding constituencies from exercising the realistic right to defend themselves, an act that no government on earth has any legitimate right to do.  While there is no guarantee that carrying a firearm would have prevented all of these atrocities, of course, there is also no guarantee that someone immediately on the scene with a firearm would not have been able to more quickly engage and terminate the aggressor(s), before more damage was done.

If nothing else, these disarmament policies guarantee that the targeted victims are fish in a barrel, so to speak, for their aggressor(s).  They rob good, law-abiding people of the choice to die with some dignity at least, if that ultimate outcome is inevitable.  Laws such as this fundamentally posit “that there is no difference between, on the one hand, passively and helplessly submitting to the extermination of yourself… and, on the other, dying while resisting that extermination.”

And to this, I simply do not hold.

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  1. #1 by Michael on July 29, 2016 - 1:10 PM

    Damn those statistics! An American gun owner is 20 times more likely to shoot a family member than a burglar. Giving people easy access to guns actually increases the chances of decent people being shot. So who’s burying his head in the sand?

    • #2 by An Observer on July 29, 2016 - 2:39 PM

      1) Please cite your reference(s), if you can.

      2) The problem with such broad-sweeping statistical references, true or not, without context and causal analysis is that virtually anything can be assumed from the purported outcome. Let us assume for argument’s sake that these figures you present are indeed accurate. Clearly your conclusion is that the presence of guns somehow causes or otherwise enables someone to shoot their loved ones unjustifiably, whereas the absence of a gun(s) would correspondingly prevent such a tragedy. However, it is equally probable, given this limited data and analysis, to suggest that the reason gun owners are more likely to shoot a family member is because they are defending themselves legitimately from an illegitimate aggressor, who happens to be someone they are related to (i.e., in the course of domestic abuse or a family member who attacks them in a drug-induced rage, etc.). Also equally probable is that any illegitimate assault of a loved one would occur even in the absence of firearms, for whatever reason the latter were the case.

      Also see: ecological fallacy.

      3) “Case-control studies show that violence is positively associated with firearms ownership, but they have not determined whether these associations reflect causal mechanisms” … “Homicide victims may possess firearms precisely because they are likely to be victimized (emphasis added).

      4) All violence in America is statistically more likely to transpire between two (or more) people who know each other, including family members, regardless of the various implements used (e.g., firearms, hammer, baseball bat, feet, hands, etc.) or where they occur. Thus, your implication here is meaningless, unless you only care about firearms violence and thus are perfectly content with other forms of illegitimate violence that friends, associates, and relatives (or strangers, for that matter) inflict upon each other. For my part, it is precisely because I do not view one form of aggression as being more legitimate than another that I continue to staunchly support the right to defend one’s self with the most effective and expeditious means available and necessary.

      5) Even if this probability were true across the population, and I doubt very much that it is, it does not change the central argument I have presented here regarding the ethics associated with a person’s right to self-defense, and thusly how a State that supposedly derives its own authority from its People cannot thus ethically prohibit the exercise of this right, particularly when that State’s own agents continue to hypocritically exercise that right.

      6) Interestingly, “while blacks are significantly more likely than whites to be gun homicide victims, blacks are only about half as likely as whites to have a firearm in their home.” This does not quite seem to square with the purported probability you present. Perhaps there is more to such observations than simply one begets the other?

      6) Additionally, the central premise of this post – that gun laws do not prevent criminals, who by definition are willing to break those and other laws, from doing evil deeds – stands regardless of whether your presented probability is true or not. This premise is self-evident. Indeed, even the federal government acknowledges this: “In summary, the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence” (emphasis added). States which fail to understand this, as almost all do, simply unethically place their own constituency in a barrel, so to speak.

      My conclusion remains that many people’s heads are buried in the sand, even when they think they are informed but are rather just parroting sound bites instead of analyzing actual data/evidence. This is particularly true in the context of my original comment, in which so many people think that wherefrom good people voluntarily or involuntarily throwing down their arms, we can somehow encourage the bad ones to do the same.

      If that were in fact true, why only disarm civilians? Why not disarm governments the world over? After all, if disarming civilians will eliminate gun violence and accidents, then surely disbanding militaries will end warfare and its resulting collateral damage and disbanding police will eliminate legal offenders, right? (Ironically, governments are of course the unilateral wielders of gun and other violence, and all disarmament programs can only happen through the application of yet more gun violence.)

      There is a reason States seek to disarm their constituencies and it is demonstrably not to make them “safe.”

      Also see: Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review

      • #3 by Michael on August 1, 2016 - 1:14 AM

        I’m sorry, I was mistaken. It was over 40 times the chances. But lets not get into an argument about research methods. In fact, since you produced a wholly detailed reply to a rather small comment, I must conclude you have these replies ready, and you are not interested in a discussion but in promoting your views.

        Gun homicides per 100 000 people per year:
        Canada: 0.38
        USA: 3.43
        Australia: 0.16

        And that’s all anyone really needs to know about the topic.

        But just for the sake of completeness:

        I believe this answers most your questions.

      • #4 by An Observer on August 1, 2016 - 3:43 PM

        Well I have to admit, this is the first time I can recall being disparaged for supporting/defending a position too much. Am I to assume that in order to be “interested in a discussion,” I have to reply to simplistic comments with equal or greater simplicity? I apologize in advance for the lengthy response that follows, but this is how substantive information is exchanged in my view, i.e., through consideration and analysis of proposed arguments, data, interpretations, etc.

        To that point, I do not have any replies “ready,” per se, although I am reasonably well-informed of which I opine, and of this particular topic specifically. I am not opposed to discussions; far from it. Indeed, the very reason I put so much time and effort into these posts is because I am interested in exchanging information with others who are presumably genuinely interested. However, there is literally no point in having a discussion at all, in any context, if one or both parties to it are uninterested in substantive analyses or meaningful dissection.

        It honestly sounds to me more like you just do not want anyone to disagree with you or come to a different conclusion. To this end, you are free to tune me out as you like, of course, but I am not going to do any less than offer thorough responses to what I see as questionable points or conclusions.

        I know we now live in a meme culture and that they are, for better or worse, very effective at communicating ideas. Whether these memes are accurate or not, there is no shortage of people to compose and proliferate them on the internet. Those people are far better at it than me, and in any event I think there is a deficit of actual substance-based and informed analyses on such topics. As such, I have no interest in developing the one- or two-sentence meme presentation (I may occasionally repost others’ if they are funny or interesting), choosing instead these sorts of analyses for an admittedly smaller but hopefully deeper audience who are looking for something more to fill that void.

        I am sorry you feel that these data are all you really need to know about this topic. That point of view is disappointing to me as it is an anecdotal demonstration of uncritical thinking and de facto self-censorship. But fortunately we still live in a free enough society (for now) that neither you nor others possess any authority to monopolize the dataset of analysis or interpretation(s) for everyone else. To be clear, I have no illusions about altering your perceptions or opinion. I was well aware from the moment I read your initial comment that you were beyond the influenced of anything I could present to you, and so be it. That is one of the many prices I will happily pay for freedom (of thought, in this case). And this is not altogether unusual for comment boards on my postings, whether those commenters agree or not.

        No, I provide substantive counterpoints and position defenses when needed not to change the minds of the unamendable, but rather to give the silent third-party reader, who may have not made their mind up or are tailoring their theories to evidence rather than vice-versa, an opportunity to see more and hopefully make a better informed decision. The discussion, which I still believe it is, is not really between you and me insomuch as it is between you, me, and everyone else who reads it – even if the latter do not directly participate. Maybe it will help them; maybe it will not; but, there is no reason in an open and honest discussion to hold back information or perspectives.

        Notwithstanding whether you agree or not, the data you cite here is still too simplistic to be broadly meaningful, unless one cares solely and unilaterally about firearms violence. I have analyzed this in detail with respect to the United Kingdom, for example, insofar as that nation is a significantly more violent country than the United States, when including all means of wielding and perpetrating that violence. (Slight incidental digression: that country’s handgun-related violence increased by double (!) following its imposed ban on such weapons – truly the definition of a failed policy).

        Additionally, Australia has a significantly higher rape rate than the United States (the latter which has been steadily trending down along with the proliferation of firearms over the decades), owing in my estimation at least partially to its prohibition on firearms for reasonable self-defense for its subjects. Again, your referenced data do not centrally address the primary point I am making, namely concerning the ethics involved with the right to self-defense and the question of who justly exercises that right when. But, these extenuating additional points start to frame the deeper discussion of that central tenet, and they are hidden by your presented data.

        Also, I notice you did not present Switzerland’s extremely low firearm homicide rate (0.23 per 100,000 people), despite it having the fourth-highest rate of civilian firearm possession in the world (and these include actual military issue, select-fire “assault weapons,” unlike the faux “assault weapons” people ignorantly label in America). Or, for that matter, Serbia, whose 0.60 homicide rate is similarly microscopic, despite owning the world’s second-highest civilian firearms-per-capita rate. Or Sweden and Norway, who are both in the top ten for firearms possession, yet have even tinier homicide rates (0.19 and 0.10, respectively).

        These facts would seem to, on their face, contradict the common mantra that “more guns equal more death.” Again, it is likely because there is far more to the complex subject of violence generally than this simplistic approach, even if you or others do not agree or wish to acknowledge it.

        Also, as an aside, there are loads of problems with the, again, overly simplistic conclusions and/or assertions Mother Jones presents. (This is not the first such incident by which Mother Jones has tailored their data to a theory rather than the other way around.) I will present a few for sake of example to illustrate why critical thinking is so important in complex topics such as these, if an actual meaningful conclusion is truly desired. (Again, this is not so much meant for you but for the third-party reader, so as to present a more thorough informative exchange).

        1. “Never mind that no one in Washington is proposing [gun confiscation policies].”

        I do agree, however, that such a policy(s) would be close to impossible to ever execute based on the numbers involved, but to say that no one’s agenda includes civilian disarmament is naïve at best, if not purposefully untruthful.

        2. “People with access to more guns tend to kill more people – with guns.”
        This assertion is at least reasonably questionable, as already aforementioned above and discussed further here: “More Guns, More Death!” Catch, But Patently False. Of course, one factor that is different between the two referenced studies is the one that supports Mother Jones’ claim focused solely on the United States, and the one I reference studied many more countries additionally. That factor alone, among so many others, could explain the deltas and, by definition, indicates additional parameters than just gun numbers are at play in the observable outcomes. In many cases, this represents the so-called “Texas sharpshooter fallacy.”

        3. “Various studies suggest that being armed increases your chances of getting into a confrontation.”
        As already mentioned, perhaps many people are armed precisely because they are likely to be targets of a confrontation? This assertion confuses correlation with causation.

        “In states with Stand Your Ground and other laws making it easier to shot in self-defense, those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10 percent increase in homicides.”
        Again, perhaps this alleged 7-10% jump is largely a tradeoff to cases that alternatively would have ended in robbery, assault, rape, murder, etc. for the other party involved. This data says nothing about the nature of the victim(s)/aggressor(s), or how it could/would have turned out differently otherwise. It is akin to pointing out that police officers who carry firearms are more likely to use them, without taking into account any other factors involved. Of course that conclusion is likely true, but it says nothing about whether that violence was justified or not. For people who suggest that guns are inherently bad and lead to unacceptable outcomes, consistency demands that they apply this standard of reasoning to the State as well.

        4. “Mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 33 years: 0.”
        Incorrect: Here are just a couple of anecdotal incidences to the contrary. And another. And another. And here.

        5. “Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun.”
        Of course this is likely true, in the same ways that owning a pool increases higher risks of child drownings in a pool, riding a motorcycle increases the likelihood of dying by motorcycle wreck, and owning a knife increases the probability of accidentally cutting to one’s self by knife. Obviously, if someone does not own a gun it is not very likely that that person’s “accidental death” or “suicide” “by gun” will occur. But, this says nothing about the likelihood of their “accidental death” or “suicide” “by [other means inserted here.]”

        And further (and again), this also says nothing about the ethics of self-defense, the right to do so, or the broader question of whether the good outweighs the bad. (To that later point, Mother Jones’ probabilities only take into account actual and documented shootings, and do not include non-shooting interventions, such as successful defensive use of firearm(s) that did not require pulling the trigger, such as when the robber/assailant/etc. flees in the face of armed resistance or when a potential criminal avoids targeting a home altogether because of the likelihood of there being an armed occupant owing to local laws, etc. This phraseology distorts the meaningful reality of the self-defense question, intentional or not.

        6. “In 2014, according to FBI data, nearly eight times more people were shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime.”
        Again, this is an inherently flawed premise, as it incorrectly assumes all successful armed self-defense outcomes are predicated on the actual violent use of the firearm, and/or on the ultimate death of the criminal as a further consequence. This is why the above-referenced study presents vastly different conclusions.

        “A study in Philadelphia found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.”
        Once again, perhaps his odds of being victimized were already greater, and that is why he chose to carry a firearm in the first place?

        7. “One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.”
        I know it is getting repetitive, but it matters: this says nothing about whether women in other circumstances were killed/assaulted via other means, so this probability is meaningless unless, again, one only cares about firearms violence and is indifferent and/or accepting of other forms of violence.

        8. “‘Vicious, violent video games’ deserve more blame than guns” [is not true.]
        I concur there is likely more to it than this (which is the bigger point I have been trying to make generally for years), but the irony is that while Mother Jones can correctly see that exceptions to the rule, by definition, invalidate the rule in this case, the site ignores this same logic where broadly-sweeping assertions of firearms and crime are concerned. Something about cakes and eating them come to mind…

        9. “More and more Americans are becoming gun owners” [is a myth.]
        This is a more trivial contention, but it depends entirely upon how you look at it, assuming their cited references are indeed accurate. It may be true that “about half of Americans said they had a gun in their homes in 1973 [and] today, about 37 percent say they do,” this does not mean the raw numbers (i.e., millions of gun owners) have not increased in that timeframe. Obviously, it is possible to increase the number of gun owners over a set period while also decreasing the percentage of the population they reflect, given that the population as a whole can increase in that same timeframe and likely at a rate that exceeds gun ownership. At best I would call Mother Jones’ implication misleading, but either way it is a meaningless statistic relative to my main argument. Even if there were only one gun owner in America, it would not fundamentally change the question of whether or not s/he has a legal and/or legitimate right to choose how and if to protect him- or herself.

        10. “We don’t need more gun laws – we just need to enforce the ones we have” [is a myth.]
        “Weak laws and loopholes backed by the gun lobby have made it easier for people to get guns illegally.”

        Perhaps this is a simple error in the selected language, but this statement actually demonstrates the point that is supposedly in question here. Illegal has a meaning: “not allowed by the law; not legal.” Thusly, if people “get guns illegally,” then the laws making them illegal are not being enforced properly, if at all. Even an allegedly weak law can be broken, by definition, and requires (better) enforcement if it is to effectively be a law. They are just words, after all, in the absence of violent enforcement of them (with guns, ironically enough.)

        “More than 75 percent of the weapons used in mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were obtained legally.”
        Also, 100% percent of the mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 (and ever) were carried out illegally (accept when it is done by the State, which somehow legalizes mass murder with impunity). Surely the logical error here with respect to more and more gun control, and the fact that such policies only really impact people who are already willing to follow the law, is not lost on everyone?

        “As much as 40 percent of all gun sales involve private sellers and don’t require background checks.”
        This is a deeply misleading, and probably purposefully so, statement that the cited study does not expressly convey. To say nothing of the fact that the data in question are two decades old, the study’s abstract indicates that 60% of firearms could be confirmed as being obtained through federally licensed dealers (thereby requiring a background check). However, it says nothing of the nature of firearms currently, or more importantly, breakdowns of firearms actually used in crimes. For that more relevant information, I point to the following: the vast majority of criminal use of firearms is carried out by people barred from possessing firearms legally (i.e., already convicted felons), who obtain their weapons overwhelmingly via illegal means (predominantly through straw man purchases (47%) and theft (26%)). A recent microcosmic study of firearms violence in Pittsburgh supports this finding. Also, there is some evidence that suggests, at least over the past 15 years, that states which implement such background check requirements on private (i.e., non-interstate commerce) sales experience upticks in mass shooting fatalities and injuries.

        “More than 80 percent of gun owners support closing this loophole.”
        We can discuss whether new/stronger/different laws are needed, but not if we do not currently know what laws are on the books. I admittedly cannot locate a meaningful study that empirically pegs the numbers, but my own day-to-day experience and interactions illustrate to me that the vast majority of people generally, gun owners or no, truly have no idea of what the actual local, state, and federal gun laws are presently. Add to this, they have no idea what the technical functions, definitions, and designs of common firearms “buzzwords” are, and they therefore cannot be relied upon to make a relevant decision or reach an informed conclusion. This means any poll(s) purporting to reflect public sentiment on the matter is entirely meaningless, as respondents could easily be calling for “common sense” gun laws that are already on the books, unenforceable, unconstitutional, or just plain irrelevant.

        “An investigation found that 62 percent of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn’t pass a background check. … When researchers posed as illegal ‘straw’ buyers, 20 percent of licensed California gun dealers agreed to sell handguns to them.”
        Both of these hypothetical acts are at least federally illegal (USC 18 Sec. 922), thereby further lending support to the supposed myth that Mother Jones is trying to bust here. Honestly, I do not see how these two quotes help their goal at all as they are inherently in conflict with the organization’s point in this section of the article.

  2. #5 by Michael on August 2, 2016 - 4:35 AM

    The fact that you need so many words to explain your position tells me you’re not quite sure what your position is, and that you are not that certain of its validity either.

    Allow me to do some cherry-picking in your stream of words and arguments. Firstly, rape statistics are truly something special. They actually reveal absolutely nothing, and using them in an argument is utterly useless. The definition of a rape varies between countries and even within countries, in different periodes (see Donald Trump and “when you force sex on your wife, its not a rape” story). The statistics obviously include rapes that have been reported and resulted in a conviction – showing only a small part of the picture, and a distorted one, too.

    Same goes for other sorts of violence, therefore comparing data between countries is extremely difficult and of highly dubious value, if any. Homicide is a special case – the definitions do not vary that much over time or between countries, and it is therefore relatively easy to compare statistics.

    With regards to gun ownership in different countries – well, there’s a catch there. Gun laws are much, much stricter in the countries you mentioned compared to USA. For illustration, here’s a selection of some of the rules:

    Serbia – Handgun ownership is allowed, but the licensing is strict. People with criminal history, mental disorders, history of alcohol and illegal substance abuse, cannot be issued a permit. There is a thorough background check prior to license approval. Police have the last word on the matter, and there is no court appeal possible. When at home, the guns must be kept in a “safe place”, and owner irresponsibility could lead to gun confiscation by police.

    Sweden – To apply [for a gun permit], one must either be a member in an approved shooting club for at least six months or pass a hunting examination. For civilians it’s illegal to carry a firearm unless there is a specific, legal, purpose [e.g. hunting]. Of all the guns in Sweden, the vast majority are rifles and shotguns – not handguns.

    Switzwerland – the country actually has conscription army. People are trained to use guns. Army-issued guns are allowed to be stored at home by reservists – WITHOUT the ammo.

    I think my point is clear – there is not a single country like the USA, where guns are sold like candy. The mass availability of guns in USA makes it really easy for people to kill other people using them. And the control on gun sales and ownership is really, really lax. Get Serbia-style control, Switzerland-like training or Sweden-like regulation, then start comparing.

    • #6 by An Observer on August 2, 2016 - 7:55 AM

      So, you employ international comparisons first, then I use them to counterpoint, and then they become invalid? Hmm… Okay.

      In any event, notwithstanding all the dancing around and deflections, you still have not addressed my central tenet put forth buttressing this broader issue. I am, however, glad to see you are starting to at least somewhat acknowledge that the issue is far more nuanced and variable than simply a correlation between presence of guns and criminal outcomes.

      To that end, we are finally starting to get somewhere. As I have said elsewhere numerous times on this blog, I expect gun control advocates to present the law(s) they expect to work in reducing/eliminating the event(s) they are concerned about. And you are almost there.

      Also, these differences in international gun laws are not the only immediate variable that is starkly different between these referenced cases. Demographics are another, for just one example. Demographics drive a whole slew of other, probably relevant, factors and circumstances.

      • #7 by Michael on August 2, 2016 - 1:05 PM

        And I think I explained rather convincingly why comparisons of homicide rate are more valid than other types of crime.

        Of course there are more factors at play. But the sheer numbers of guns in the USA and their dramatically easy availability are the elephant in the room, that dwarfs all other issues.

        In absence of clear cause-effect linkage, we can look at statistics for information. And its quite clear. In the USA, there is an obvious link between gun ownership in a state and gun-related deaths. USA is the exception in the developed world in gun deaths. Simply because there’s so many guns around. Tight enforcement of gun control will reduce the gun-related violence in USA.

        I will welcome an explanation from your side how the widespread availability of guns makes USA safer and more democratic than, say, Switzerland or Denmark.

      • #8 by An Observer on August 2, 2016 - 2:43 PM

        Well, on your first point we will simply have to disagree. Incidentally, I explain here why even homicide data renders such comparisons outside the realm of “apples-to-apples.” So again, we are back to square one – making assertions with no “valid” experimental data to prove one or the other. Honestly, I am just looking for some consistency across how people employ their datasets to reach their conclusions, because insisting on a problem and a solution based on subjective notions of “easy,” “lax,” “too many,” etc. is just nonsensical. Also, if a dataset is deemed good enough to support a given point, then it certainly ought not refute that point at the same time.

        “In the USA, there is an obvious link between gun ownership in a state and gun-related deaths.” Again, this does not address my central tenet and only matters if all you care about are specifically gun-related crimes and violence, at the indifference of all other forms of violence (not sure how many times I have to point this out). Indeed plenty of studies suggest that overall violent crime is either inversely correlated with firearm prevalence (i.e., more guns, less crime), more/stricter guns laws correlate to increased overall death rates (and also here), there is insufficient evidence to support causal assertions (and also here), or no correlation exists between state homicide rates and gun laws at all. So there’s that.

        Also, to your last point – that is not a position I have put forth and I do not generally engage in defenses of straw men. But, since you mentioned democracy – and I thought this was interesting – there are at least some indications that Americans overwhelmingly prefer to live in neighborhoods that do not ban firearms possession. And then there is the fact that the last major federal gun control legislation in the US, the so-called Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (amending the Violent Crime and Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994), resulted in a massive electoral party changeover in the House of Representatives the following election cycle for the first time in four decades, as well as in the Senate. That seems like democracy in action to me. But again, not really my stance so I am indifferent to the implication beyond simple observation.

        Still awaiting the specific legislation that you would like to see or think would magically solve all these problems.

      • #9 by Michael on August 2, 2016 - 11:56 PM

        I haven’t suggested I have a magic solution. Only claim I have made is that selling guns freely to every idiot that is capable of walking into a store makes a society vulnerable to idiots with guns. Many, many other countries seem to have solved the problem by enforcing tight controls over gun ownership and use.

        Your original point was that the French and German governments are to blame for disarming their citizens and turning them into helpless prey. Firstly, its a democratic decision taken by the people of these states, via their government. Secondly, by that logic, the USA government is to blame for the insane rate of firearm murders in the USA and the gun laws (or, rather, their absence) are in fact putting the targeted victims in the USA as fish in a barrel.

        I’ve taken the effort to read the article you pointed to, that talks about lack of correlation between gun laws and homicide rates. Well, as I mentioned before, there is a strong linear correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths. Gun ownership and legal gun ownership are not the same. Laws are not the issue, the enforcement of the laws is. Finally, when someone who actually knows what he’s talking about (a PhD in Mathematical Physics) looks into the statistics, a much different story emerges. Apparently, when analysing the data beyond the simple correlation, it turns out that:

        1- The number and quality of gun-control laws a state has drastically effects the number of gun-related deaths.
        2- Other factors like mean household income play a smaller role in the number of gun-related deaths.
        3- Factors like the amount of money a state spends on mental-health care has a negligible effect on the number of gun-related deaths.

        And here’s the source:

      • #10 by An Observer on August 3, 2016 - 3:12 PM

        “I haven’t suggested I have a magic solution.” I know, I was not stating you made such a claim. It was simply a challenge. It is a challenge I have put out there into the ether of late to try and get people to know and understand the current laws, their effects, and how to modify/change/improve them if warranted and possible.

        “Only claim I have made is that selling guns freely to every idiot that is capable of walking into a store makes a society vulnerable to idiots with guns.” Come now, this is not accurately portraying anything; this is simple demagoguery and propaganda. Your statement is probably quite true in an abstract and hypothetical sense, but it also does not accurately characterize reality in the United States. Every commercial entity that sells firearms in America is required to operate under a Federal Firearms License and every prospective purchaser at said store is subject to the federally-mandated background check (i.e., via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)).

        “Firstly, its a democratic decision taken by the people of these states, via their government.” That may or may not be true; I profess to not have intimate knowledge of exactly how each of these countries established their respective laws in this regard but one of my main contentions (throughout this blog as a theme, including going beyond just this post/topic) is that individual rights are not properly subjugated to supposed democratic whims. (I say “supposed” because modern democratic processes usually reflect the will of a minority vice a majority of a given people, given that far less than 100% electoral participation is the norm, at least in the US). For example, I cannot legitimately convince 50% of the electorate (who show up), +1 additional person, to agree to preemptively incarcerate all Muslims via the force of government, even though that fits a “democratic decision” and may in fact present a pragmatic reduction in Islamic terrorism domestically. It would not be legitimate even if 99.9% of the electorate willed this. Ethics matter, not just potential outcomes. So through this point we are finally starting to touch on the fundamental ethics of the broader situation, as I see it. And I certainly consider (as does the US Constitution) the right to self-defense an “unalienable right” that governments are instituted to protect vice infringe, being not properly subjected to democratic tyranny.

        “Secondly, by that logic, the USA government is to blame for the insane rate of firearm murders in the USA and the gun laws (or, rather, their absence) are in fact putting the targeted victims in the USA as fish in a barrel.” I completely agree, at least with the first half of your statement, and this was my original point. The vast majority of mass murders (as defined by the FBI) in America take place in legislated so-called “gun-free zones;” most murder victims (via both firearms and other means) occur in the largest cities in America, which notoriously have the strictest gun control laws on the books (including Europe-inspired standards, such as in New York, Washington DC, and Chicago).

        “Well, as I mentioned before, there is a strong linear correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths.” True or not, again, this is not an argument or observation I frankly care about. I simply just do not, and neither you (nor anyone else) repeating it will make me care about it. I instead care about all violent crime, including all homicides. One commenter in your provided analysis made this point well: “I like your analysis, but it’s not a direct counter to the WAPO article. They compared gun laws to overall homicide rates, not just gun deaths. Would love to see your analysis for how gun laws affect the overall homicide rate.”

        In that vein, it is possible to have low gun-related death rates, possibly owing to a relative absence of said firearms due to strict control, but still have an insanely high comparable homicide rate nonetheless. For another example, according to available data – always tricky with Russia, owing to its history of censorship of negative information – that nation has something like 12.5+ times fewer firearms per capita, based on the previous data tables we discussed, and so while I am sure that their firearms-related death rate is considerably lower than the US’, its overall homicide rate nonetheless remains double America’s. So yes, echoing my previous sentiment, the Russian government (and/or its minoritarian or majoritarian electorate, if such a thing exists there) owns these results at least in part.

        “Gun ownership and legal gun ownership are not the same.” Fair enough. But even with that distinction taken into account, I am still indifferent to gun-related deaths, except insofar as they fit into the much bigger picture of illegal violence.

        And thank you for the appeal to authority; I was wondering how long that would take to come out. It always seems to, sooner or later.

        Now to the specific findings/observations:
        1) Again, I do not care about “gun-related deaths” as presented. I care about all violence/deaths. This shortsightedness is why the UK gets such an underserved sterling reputation comparable to the US, as one example, because people unilaterally look at their “gun-related” crimes/death instead of the entire picture, which actually indicates that not only are their gun policies abstract failures (as mentioned, gun-related crime has doubled since the ban on handguns which went into effect in 1998, I believe), but also that the UK is overall a considerably more violent place than the US. You do not have to care about this (or as much) as I do, of course, but it matters to me.

        2) I do not doubt this; indeed, one (or more) of those many factors I keep harping on is likely economic in nature – i.e., the poorer tend to live and be victimized in higher crime areas (e.g., inner cities), and also the poorer tend to be the perpetrators of violent crimes in America. Why not? If you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to lose.

        3) This is also likely true, because the firearms-related crime most often associated with the mentally ill – mass shootings (as defined by the FBI) – are statistically exceedingly rare and do not generally fluctuate over time as much as the more common, “run-of-the-mill” (so to speak) criminal behaviors.

        I think the central premise that I can glean from you is that laws seeking to reduce the availability of firearms makes firearms-related crime/death go away (or at least down to some presumably arbitrarily acceptable level). While there may be some anecdotal and statistical evidence to support this if picked carefully enough, and assuming I care solely about firearms-related death simply for argument’s sake, I have provided beaucoup anecdotal and statistical evidence that contrarily suggests this is not the case – internationally, here in the US, and at microcosmic levels within its cities. At best, we can fence with the data back and forth, and agree to disagree about what they say or what will happen, but in the end I simply do not hold to the notion that evil people will obey a relatively benign or administrative set of laws in their pursuit of violating some of the most sacred of humanitarian laws. I also do not trust any government to truly have my best interests at heart, or its agents to be competent enough to put into practice what might look efficient, effective, and otherwise attractive on paper. I do not support the forced disarmament of people who are in otherwise heretofore good standing, to be consequently left without a fighting chance against others who obviously can and likely will still find a way. That is the ethical bedrock of my position, generally.

        And to that end, at this point we are just talking in circles with no directed close in sight. Too many spiraling digressions, inconsistencies, and repetitive arguments to naturally summate and conclude. We have both made our positions and arguments well enough known, and now I think it is time to let the third-party reader decide where they stand.

  3. #11 by Michael on August 4, 2016 - 2:19 AM

    I suppose we can leave it as it is. Although I do wonder where’d you get the idea that “the UK is overall a considerably more violent place than the US.” As usual, its what statistics you look at and how you compare them, but as far as I can tell, the UK is far less violent than the USA (on average – In fact, all of Europe has a lower crime index than the USA –

    Evil people do not obey laws. We disagree on whether they should have easy access to guns that allow them to pursue their evil ways. I for my part think that putting guns in the hands of a mass of people makes it way too easy to start shooting when you disagree with someone. I support the forced disarmament of people who have no idea what they’re doing and are more likely to shoot themselves accidentally than anyone else. But I guess we’ve found the fundamental point of disagreement. You believe in the good in people and think that they can control themselves. I believe people are irrational, erratic beings that shouldn’t be allowed to kill others just by pulling a trigger. And that’s all there’s to it.

    Allow me as a final comment to re-post what I’ve recently written elsewhere:

    Democracy as I understand it is not the dictatorship of the majority, it is protecting the rights of minorities. Well, part of what democracy is. Other parts are separate lawmaking, judicial and executive authorities, elective representatives and so on. For me, the main thing is that it is not dictatorship of the majority. Rather the opposite. But I can totally understand why some people struggle with the concept of democracy, what it is and what it is not.

    • #12 by An Observer on August 4, 2016 - 8:53 AM

      I cited my references on the UK many times (via embedded links), so where I got that notion is easy enough to read and digest. As an observation, it may very well be that “people are irrational, erratic beings that shouldn’t be allowed to kill others just by pulling a trigger,” but I have never understood why people do not extend that same assumption to the people who make up the biggest and most inherently violent institutions ever created by man: the State. Disarming the people in favor of unilateral arming of the State always, sooner or later, ends in avoidable (or at least, resistible) tragedy.

      I think we predominantly agree on the concept of democracy, as you’ve stated it here. I wish you good fortune and prosperity, and please do not take our inability to find 100% common ground on this topic as being unwelcome to come back in the future.

      • #13 by Michael on August 5, 2016 - 12:28 AM

        I wish you the same, and hope we both will be able to continue our quest for knowledge and understanding.

  1. Horror in Japan Too |

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