Fareed Zakaria has tried to make "The Case for Gun Control" in Time. The results are not pretty. Virtually every argument he makes misrepresents the underlying data.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Friday, December 28, 2012
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Invincible Ignorance - by Thomas Sowell
via A Voice of Sanity - RobertRinger.com by Thomas Sowell on 12/18/12
Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates?
The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.
If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.
Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.
When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.
The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.
But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries— and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.
In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.
Neither guns nor gun control was not the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.
Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals.
In Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms.
In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s— after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions— there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.
Gun control zealots' choice of Britain for comparison with the United States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States.
You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.
Guns are not the problem. People are the problem— including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.
There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates.
Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control led him to produce a "study" that became so discredited that he resigned from his university. This column predicted at the time that this discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates. But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Jewish Voice for Peace has released a 6 minute animation which purports to be an introduction to the Israeli-Arab conflict. Like much of JVP's other work, it's cute, simple-- as well as wrong on the facts. It's also misleading with respect to JVP's actual agenda, which includes consistent support for "river-to-the-sea" rejectionist groups and support for BDS.
The video notes that "several" Arab armies invaded Israel; it might have been appropriate to mention that their goal, as with the Arab population of Palestine, was not a Palestinian state but the destruction of the Jewish one. Had the Palestinians accepted the partition plan, there would have been no war and no refugees, and Arab villages would not have been left as ghost towns to be built over. Even Mahmoud Abbas recognizes this choice as one of the two worst decisions made by the Palestinians.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
It's not always pleasant living in the crucible of clashing ideologiesDECEMBER 23, 2012 I've tried with moderate success to stay away from gun control posts. To the extent I have posted on the subject, it hasn't been to develop my own ideas but, instead, to introduce you to other people's writing on the subject. The top of that list, of course, is Larry Correia's answer to the anti-gun crowd, written from the useful perspective of someone who actually knows about guns. I urge all of you to read it. Moreover, if you won't end up getting to much grief from people who don't want their closed minds opened, I think you ought to share it around.
The problem for me is that closing my eyes to the gun control debate means tuning out of the world around me. As is always the case, my Facebook friends (whom I find extremely useful when I want to get a snapshot of Progressive thinking) are deluging Facebook with gun control posters. Here are the three most popular:
To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what point that last one is supposed to make. It's utterly fatuous, and it speaks very poorly of a political ideology that so many people find this meaningful enough to express their "deep" political thinking.
The second poster is false by omission. Ft. Hood was indeed a military base -- except that the shooter went for a weapon free zone, in which nobody had immediate access to arms. The same holds true for Virginia Tech. Having a police station nearby is meaningless when someone is shooting without a somewhat distant gun free zone. (Also, if it's anything like the police department I remember from my UC Berkeley days, the police weren't armed.) Finally, Columbine did have an armed guard who tried taking out the two shooters and undoubtedly slowed them down. How much more effective would it have been if there had been more armed people to strike against those shooters?
Finally, the first poster simply represents a world view that police are bad. I don't think they're bad at all; I just did think that even the best police can't be everywhere at once. More than that, I find this hostility to police -- who are, after all, an arm of Big Government -- funny coming from a crowd that is in thrall to Big Government ideology.
My Facebook friends were also shocked and disgusted that the NRA would propose something as utterly stupid as armed guards in the schools. They and their friends fell completely silent when I pointed out to them that this idea originated with Bill Clinton after Columbine and that Obama de-funded it. Whoops!
My favorite poster is this one, which I found at PowerLine:
This poster effectively sums up the differences between the two ideologies currently at war in this country. The war goes far beyond the Second Amendment. Instead, it pits a world view that believes in self-reliance against a world view that devoutly hopes that, if/when trouble comes, some white knight with a government ID will come riding to the rescue . . . eventually.
Friday, December 21, 2012
RTWTPosted on December 20, 2012 by correia45
I didn't want to post about this, because frankly, it is exhausting. I've been having this exact same argument for my entire adult life. It is not an exaggeration when I say that I know pretty much exactly every single thing an anti-gun person can say. I've heard it over and over, the same old tired stuff, trotted out every single time there is a tragedy on the news that can be milked. Yet, I got sucked in, and I've spent the last few days arguing with people who either mean well but are uninformed about gun laws and how guns actually work (who I don't mind at all), or the willfully ignorant (who I do mind), or the obnoxiously stupid who are completely incapable of any critical thinking deeper than a Facebook meme (them, I can't stand).
Today's blog post is going to be aimed at the first group. I am going to try to go through everything I've heard over the last few days, and try to break it down from my perspective. My goal tonight is to write something that my regular readers will be able to share with their friends who may not be as familiar with how mass shootings or gun control laws work.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
...it makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.
Civil rights and freedom of expression:
But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.
A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.
At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.
It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.
Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.
Slippery slope arguments:
Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.
In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them?
a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.
Marriage as an institution:
There are approximately 21,000 married same-sex couples in Canada, out of 6.29 million married couples. Same-sex couples (married and unmarried) constitute 0.8% of all couples in Canada; 9.4% of the 64,575 same-sex couples (including common-law and married) have children in the home, and 80% of these are lesbian couples. By contrast, 47.2% of heterosexual couples have children in the home. Canada stopped tracking divorce after 2008, and has never provided data on same-sex divorce.
What we can gather from these data is that same-sex marriage has not, contrary to arguments that it would, powered a resurgent marriage culture in Canada. Nor are there any census data (one way or the other) for empirical arguments tying the institutionalization of same-sex marriage to marriage stability.
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There are several documented cases where armed citizens have stopped mass attacks by gunmen. Let me list a few: The Pearl, Mississippi school shooting was stopped by the vice principal Joel Myrick with a Colt .45, The Appalachian School shooting was stopped by two students with handguns. Both of the above incidents were stopped by the armed citizens threatening the shooter without firing.
Plans to slay everyone in the Muskegon, Michigan, store and steal enough cash and jewelry to feed their "gnawing hunger for crack cocaine" fell apart for a band of would-be killers after one of their victims fought back.
The mass church shooting in Colorado Springs was stopped by the shooter being shot by a church member with a CCW permit.
The Santa Clara gunshop shooting in 1999 was stopped by an armed citizen after the shooter declared that he was going to kill everyone. Police found a list of intended victims in his car. Only the perpetrator, Richard Gable Stevens was shot.
The December, 1991, Aniston, Alabama defense where a CCW holder stopped armed robbers who were herding employees, customers, and his wife into a cooler. He shot both robbers, killing one.
July 13, 2009, in Virginia at the Golden Food Market: The gunman tried to shoot several people, was stopped by a CCW carrier.
Just recently, in Early Texas, armed citizen Vic Stacy shot and stopped a deranged man who had just murdered two neighbors and was firing at police with a rifle. Stacy made a very long shot with his revolver, three times as far as the perpetrator was from the police officer, who had an AR-15 type rifle.
That sounds like a very good story... but it never made the national news.
I wonder who made the decision to spike that story.
Of course, when a mass shooting is stopped by an armed citizen, there are not as many victims. This leads to the charge that it would not really have been a "mass shooting".
I have added this incident at the request of a reader:
Abraham Dickman had a history of anger against employees of the AT&T store in New York Mills, New York. On May 27th, 2010, he walked into the store with a .357 and a list of six employees. He shot the first employee, but was stopped from further attacks when Donald J. Moore, an off duty police officer who was allowed to carry his own handgun when not on duty, drew and fired his .40 caliber, killing Mr. Dickman before he could fire any more shots.
Here is another likely candidate.
College Park, GA, May 4, 2009.
Two gunman entered a party and ordered the men separated from the women. Then they started counting bullets. "The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough," said Bailey.
When one of the assailants prepared to rape a girl, a student was able to access a handgun and engage the two attackers in a firefight, driving one off and killing the other before the thug could rape his girlfriend.
"I think all of us are really cognizant of the fact that we could have all been killed," said Bailey.
Another off duty police officer stopped the Trolley Square shooting with his personal handgun. He stopped the killing and contained the shooter until police reinforcements arrived and ended the situation.
Winnemucca NV shooting, 25 May, 2008
The shooter, Ernesto Villagomez, entered the Players Bar and Grill and killed two people. He reloaded and was continuing to shoot when a citizen with a concealed carry permit shot him and stopped the killing.
Parker Middle School Dance Shooting
14 Year old Andrew Jerome Wurst Killed one person and wounded three others when he was confronted by James Strand who subdued Wurst with a shotgun and held him until police arrived.
Destiny Christian Center Shooting, April 24, 2012
Kiarron Parker rammed his car into another in the church parking lot, got out and attempted to kill multiple church members. He was only able to kill one before a member of the congregation, the nephew of the lady killed, and an off duty police officer, drew his handgun and shot Parker, stopping the killing.
Tyler Courthouse shooting, 2005 While police officers were involved in this shooting before and after Mark Alan Wilson intervened, no more people were killed after he shot the shooter, who had body armor, and who was able to return fire and kill the CCW holder, Wilson.
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In the best published study of mass shootings, it was found that 99 had occurred between 1980 and 2010. We know that a number of mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. All but one of the "successful" mass shootings occurred in areas where armed citizens are banned. A comparison of mass shootings stopped by 911 response vs mass shootings stopped by citizens indicates that when citizens are able to stop the killing, they prevent 84 percent of the deaths.
Definitions and precise numbers vary by researcher, but it is clear that at least 10 percent of mass shootings are stopped by armed citizens. I believe this is the minimum number, the actual number may be much higher, because when a citizen stops an intended mass shooting early, it never becomes a successful mass shooting and may never become a news story of note. For example, in the recent Clackamas Mall shooting, an armed citizen may well have cut the killings short without firing a shot. While we can never be certain, a large percentage of mass shooters stop killing and commit suicide when they are confronted with armed force.
The problem of quantifying mass shootings stopped by armed citizens is exacerbated by the inablility to know the intentions of a dead attacker. Some attackers leave notes, making their intentions clear, as did the Santa Clara shooter in 1999, or the AT&T store shooter in 2010. Some announce their intentions, or otherwise indicate that they intend to kill many people. But these are the rare cases. If an attacker attempts to kill many, but is stopped at the beginning of the attack or after a few shots are fired, it is impossible to know if a mass killing was stopped, or if it was only one of thousands of more ordinary crimes stopped by armed citizens.
It is clear that the number of mass shootings has decreased as the number of armed citizens has increased. Three decades ago, there were very few citizens with concealed carry permits. Most states did not allow concealed carry. The increase in concealed carry states mostly occurred after 1994, and the bulk of concealed carry permits have been issued after the turn of the new millenium. Even today, less than 2.6% of the population has concealed carry permits, and 30 percent of the population of the country live in states where it is very difficult to obtain a permit, or in the case of Illinois, impossible. The first decade of the millennia showed a remarkable drop in mass shootings, a 44 percent reduction, according to Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections . These numbers are compatible with research published in 1999, that showed a drop in mass shootings with increased concealed carry permits.
While it is too early in this decade to determine if the trend will continue, reducing the number of places that ban armed citizens will likely result in more citizens being able to stop the mass shootings in the early stages, sometimes before any innocents are killed.
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Nick Kristof published a call for gun control in the Saturday edition of the NY Times. While it's not the worst of the genre, it relies on some disingenuous argumentation to reach its conclusion.
After his introduction, Kristof throws out a few chestnuts like this "We even regulate toy guns, by requiring orange tips — but lawmakers don't have the gumption to stand up to National Rifle Association extremists and regulate real guns as carefully as we do toys." Guns are far more heavily and seriously regulated than toys. Connecticut, where this latest shooting took place, had some of the most stringent laws in the country after California and New York.
In fact, the regulations worked in this case by denying Adam Lanza the ability to buy a gun. Instead he killed his own mother by shooting her in the face (possibly while she slept) and stealing her guns. So the regulations that might have prevented this would necessarily be those which would have prevented Mrs. Lanza from buying her guns. Kristof doesn't want to point this out because it detaches his argument from reality.
The core of his piece is a comparison to regulations on cars. Here's his opener "I understand: shooting is fun! But so is driving, and we accept that we must wear seat belts, use headlights at night..." Fair enough. Let's stipulate that seat belts and headlights save lives. What is the equivalent with regard to guns? What can I do to make myself marginally more safe from a crazed shooter? The analogy seems to break down unless we want to mandate body armor.
Kristof continues "...and fill out forms to buy a car. Why can't we be equally adult about regulating guns?" Again, we already have regulations--including in Connecticut-- which require filling out forms to buy a gun. Adam Lanza refused the forms and the mandated waiting period and was turned away. The system of regulations exists and it worked as advertised yet failed miserably. The question is what else could we have done?
After a laundry list of proposals, Kristof returns to the auto analogy "some auto deaths are caused by people who break laws or behave irresponsibly. But we don't shrug and say, 'Cars don't kill people, drunks do.'" Actually, that's exactly what we do. We socially stigmatize those who drink and drive and we punish them severely after the fact, often taking away their right to drive. We even expect alcohol producers push a 'drink responsibly' message. What we don't do is limit everyone's access to cars (or really fast cars). We target drunks, not AAA.
Finally there's this claim "don't bother with the argument that if more people carried guns, they would deter shooters or interrupt them. Mass shooters typically kill themselves or are promptly caught, so it's hard to see what deterrence would be added by having more people pack heat." This is a pretty egregious bit of ignorance.
- Adam Lanza reportedly shot himself as police moved in on him.
- The shooter at New Life Church in Colorado was shot by an armed security guard and immediately killed himself.
- Wade Page killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, was shot once by police and then killed himself.
- Omar Thornton killed himself as police closed in after he had killed eight co-workers at a beer distributor.
- Jiverly Wong killed himself when he hears sirens approaching after killing 13 people at an immigration center.
- Sulejman Talovic, the Trolley Square shooter, killed five and wounded four others. His rampage ended when an armed, off duty cop cornered him until SWAT arrived and shot him dead.
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If you follow me on Twitter, you will see I have been in the trenches for the last few days defending the second amendment against those who would leave me unable to defend myself and my wife. And yeah, I take it personally. So I thought I would share a few thoughts and knock down some common arguments I have heard against the right to bear arms in addition to my thoughts the other day.
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Monday, December 17, 2012
Sunday, December 16, 2012
It happened earlier this month in Irvine. Police were looking for a man suspected of raping an 18-year-old woman in her home. As the cops searched, the fleeing suspect, a 27-year-old L.A. gang member, tried to hide by breaking into another home. Inside, the homeowner, a man who had recently undergone defensive firearms training, heard the commotion, grabbed a handgun and confronted the suspect.
But as I said, the homeowner - for security reasons, he declined to be interviewed or identified by name - didn't shoot. Instead, he shouted at the suspect to stop, at which point the guy ran out of the house. Shortly thereafter he was caught and arrested by the police.
So how will that incident be reflected in the crime statistics?
Yes, the rape will be added to the grim numbers of that despicable crime, and the successful arrest will appear in the Irvine Police Department's annual statistics. And ironically, if the homeowner had justifiably shot and killed the intruder it still would have been listed in the overall statistics as a gun-related homicide - the same statistics that anti-gun activists use to promote stricter so-called "gun control" laws to keep firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.
But police departments and other government agencies don't collect hard numbers on crimes that may have been prevented by armed citizens - because, as in the Irvine case, they're difficult and sometimes impossible to quantify.And that's unfortunate. Because crimes prevented by firearms are as important in the debate over guns as crimes committed with firearms.