A Liberal Reconsiders Gun Control


Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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96 Responses

  1. Avatar Loviatar says:

    [Comment deleted by limerick by Mark Thompson; ban instituted due to previous warnings]
    Loviator, the Evil Scott of the Left
    Had no idea how to make a point with heft
    Instead of calling the poster stupid
    Perhaps he should have tried to play Cupid
    But of substance his comments are too often bereftReport

  2. Avatar M.A. says:

    Because car related deaths are part of the plan. They are hardly ever malicious or the result of dark premeditations.

    Traffic deaths long predate the automobile. Ulysses S. Grant was famously caught multiple times driving drunk and at least once ran over a little old lady in the street while doing so… while he was President.

    By the way, he didn’t have an automobile. This was 1870, the first American-produced automobile didn’t even get a test drive until 1893 (and that was more of a kit-box crazy contraption with a 4HP motor glued onto an old carriage) and mass production didn’t happen until Olds got his production line going in 1902. He was drunkenly running down little old ladies in the street with HORSES.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Well this does, and has for years, left a lot of us without a loud group to express where we are at. I think DiFi’s AWB, even if it had a chance of being passed, its pointless and stupid. I don’t hate guns. I see lots of good uses to them and if people want to collect them like Barbies or GI Joes then thats fine by me. But i also hate the NRA. Yes i used a strong word like “hate” for the NRA. I stand by that. They promote paranoia, hysteria and want people to be constantly in terror. They have squelched data gathering by the CDC and NIH and fought for gun manufacturers to be above civil law by being immune to many law suits (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/20/AR2005102000485.html.) As La Pierre seems to show they only care about the 2nd amendment and also seem just ducky with overly militarized cops and a powerful military.Report

  4. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    To my mind, a strong licensing proposal, rigorous and costly, would certainly count as “gun control” (and would be vigorously opposed as such by the NRA, and even some of the nominally-less-extreme folks here).Report

  5. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I like the idea of a gun license like we have a driver’s license. Contrary to popular belief, Israel and Swistzerland are not heavily armed countries. People in those countries need to prove a reason to justify owning EACH gun and self-defense does not count. Also I think we should question whether we want to be surrounded by Hamas and Hezzbolah like Israel.

    Gun Control seems to bring out the start and fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives like no other issue. These differences go right down to deeply different philosophical world-views .

    My liberalism is deeply informed by my Judaism and Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam roughly translates as “to mend the world.” This means I am very willing and prone to tinkering in order to make the world a better, safer, and more gentle place. I do believe that there are preventable tragedies and they are in the magnitude of Newton.

    My more conservative-libertarian and often non-Jewish friends have a more fatalistic view of the world and human nature. They think events like Newton, the Dark Knight shooting, and others are always going to happen and impossible to prevent. Hence, they have a default stance of doing nothing because all action would be inherently useless. I strongly disagree with this and am offended by the pre-Destination of the idea. Then again, I reject Calvinism absolutely and Calvinism seems to be the starting point for modern American conservative politics.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to NewDealer says:

      I don’t want to start the discussion going to far off the rails but C and L’s are perfectly fine with trying to make the world a better safer place. That is what all their policies are about. They think if the laws were written as they like things would be better. That is no different than what liberals think. yes their style of making the world better is different than ours but that is about means. We all agree we think we have the best road to get to a good end.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to NewDealer says:

      My more conservative-libertarian and often non-Jewish friends have a more fatalistic view of the world and human nature.

      I think there is something true and fascinating about this observation, and what it says about American politics and “character”. I allege no Jewish US-ruling conspiracy, but it’s no secret that many “Jewish” cultural values (in terms of things like the American sense of humor, and intellectual curiosity, and like ND says, ethic/morality) have been heavily promulgated/transmitted through the prominent media and literary presence of American Jews (and, I hasten to add, very much for the better IMO – God help us all if the German immigrants comprised the totality of the cultural DNA of our dominant modes of comedy and literature. A dour place this might be).

      At the same time, there’s American cultural strains that I think are even older than Calvinism, that came down through other immigrant European groups – and that among these, is a sort of Olde English/Scots (and Norse, and German) fatalism or stoicism or skepticism – there’s a “hardness” to it, in other words. And many of our arguments seem to fall along these lines.

      At America’s best, I think we take the best bits of both sides, but it’s no wonder we are so schizophrenic.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph says:

        Well the Calvinism comes from that hardness/skepticism to a certain extent. The idea that salvation comes from faith alone completely goes against the meaningfullness of any earthly action. No matter what you do here, your fate is already written. In Judaism, Yom Kippur gives a lifetime of being able to correct and reform.Report

        • It might be helpful to reconsider the way you talk about, “Calvinism.”

          As a tactical matter, when you array yourself so categorically and vocally (inasmuch as blog comments are in any meaningful sense “vocal”) against an “ism,” you put yourself, it seems to me, in the position of making enemies among people who might be inclined otherwise at least partially to agree with you.

          Also, like any “ism,” Calvinism has many contentious definitions–not everyone agrees on what the term is or ought to refer to. I’m not saying that whatever conception of Calvinism you have is wrong. (I’m not as informed on the concept as I ought to be, not having read the “Institutes of Christian Religion” but I have a little knowledge, both from my upbringing and from my study of history.*) But it is possible that there is more nuance to the attitude you describe–and seem to decry so categorically–than you’re allowing.

          For example, I think most (or at least a significant minority of) Christians who adhere to the notion of “justification by faith” (which to my recollection originated with Luther, or before, and not Calvin, although I don’t know how Calvin dealt with it….it does seem to run against some people’s stereotyped view of his theology as being first and last about double predestination) would argue that it’s a misunderstanding to interpret that notion as license to do anything one wants or as a fatalist cry that nothing can be done so nothing ought to be done.

          *Of course, I guess I should heed what the poet said, a little learning is a dangerous thing.Report

          • I should clarify a few things that were unclear or mispoken (by me).

            1. I wasn’t really “brought up” in the Calvinist traditions–I was brought up Catholic–but I was exposed to and for a time adopted a version of evangelical Christianity that in retrospect I think tracked closely with Calvinism in some (but definitely not all) particulars.

            2. By saying you might “create enemies,” I was using language that was probably too harsh. I ought to have said that your use of the terms might tend to frustrate goodwilled people who might engage you in dialogue. (Or to be more precise, I ought to have said that your use of the term frustrates *me*.)

            3. I understand that the logical implications of the notion of salvation by faith alone might lead one to a belief in fatalism or a belief in moral license. However, I merely meant to suggest that people are not necessarily neglectful of the problems you cite in that notion.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        but… those were GERMAN jews!Report

  6. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Great post Ethan. I like this:

    “However, making the process for obtaining a gun license much more rigorous and costly would certainly discourage gun ownership, while at the same time encouraging those who would own guns to be better trained in their use and safety, and to do so legally.”

    Hunters in most states are required to take a safety class. The problem is creating a point-of-contact for non-hunters to be forced to take classes as well. Not sure how that would work.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Why do we want the police to be armed? I think the militarization of the police is a very disturbing trend.

    I remember hearing sometime in 2012 that the German police only used 85 bullets in 2011. That is for the entire country. Why can’t the US get to that level? Why should we cheer an instinct for police to shoot first and ask questions later?


    British police have historically been unarmed. I think it would be interesting to see how Police change their tactics without easy access to military gearReport

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to NewDealer says:

      British police have historically been unarmed.

      An officer with a truncheon/nightstick/baton who is trained in its use is not unarmed. Absent firearms, a nightstick is an excellent and (mostly) non-lethal way to enforce order. My father was a scrawny little guy who did Shore Patrol duty while he was in the US Navy; I was told that nobody wanted to mess with him if he had his stick.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    I have access to exactly one deadly weapon. I use it almost daily….

    Darn, my biases show. I’m a sport fencer (as opposed to theatrical fencing or Renaissance combat recreation) and a bit of a sword historian. My first thought after those two sentences was, “Yeah, that 9-inch chef’s knife that I use more days than not is a deadly weapon.” At some level, I find it amusing that rapiers and short swords, which were the urban self-defense weapons of choice until well after the arrival of handguns [1], with which it is as possible to set out to wound [2] as to kill, and with which it is difficult to injure innocent bystanders, are banned essentially everywhere. Handguns do have the advantage that with very little training almost anyone can be lethal; you can spend years of practice and still be unhappy about your skill with a sword.

    [1] Handguns were, for a considerable time, dirty, slow, inaccurate, unreliable, single-shot, and oftentimes as dangerous to the wielder as to the target.
    [2] Especially if you assume modern medical technology.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Cain says:

      1) Yes knives are really dangerous.
      2) Any reasonably bloody wound is a death waiting to happen (including one just “to wound” — I’m not assuming enough competence to get merely the equivalent of a papercut. perhaps that’s more plausible/likely with a rapier? I couldn’t pull it off with a kitchen knife, certainly). Assuming a reasonable “response time” is the biggest issue with death prevention.
      3) I heard this from a beat-cop… knife fights are more likely to turn into actual fights, because it’s fundamentally a contest of skill. With guns, it’s more likely that you just get a Mexican standoff…

      Not sure how much that last bit is worth the collateral damage from drive-by shootings…Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kim says:

        To (2): Urban civilian swords — which were very different from heavier military swords — were thrusting weapons. Many rapiers were designed so that the edge could only be sharpened for a couple of inches down from the tip; some couldn’t be sharpened at all, other than the point. Antonio Banderas in one of the Zorro movies had it exactly right: “The pointy end goes into the other fellow.” Puncture wounds generally don’t bleed much. I was present at a freak practice accident with an epee — which has roughly the same weight and length as a short sword — where the end of the blade snapped off and the resulting semi-sharpened point went clear through the opponent’s calf. Very little bleeding, and most of that from where the skin was torn before the blade penetrated. We put small gauze pads over both the entry and exit wounds and fastened them in place with light-weight flex wrap. The victim walked to the car and into emergency care without a limp, and remarked that if it had been an important bout he would have continued, then had it looked at. Yes, duelists often died from internal bleeding, but two or three days later. Infections were also a common cause of death, again well after the fact. Slashing weapons, now — military swords, knives, etc — are a whole-other much-bloodier story.

        To (3): assuming skilled fighters, with comparable levels of skill, “to the death” is going to be a long drawn-out affair, with some number of relatively minor wounds first, and often plenty of opportunities to stop things. That’s just the nature of the beast when the weapon allows for defense as well as offense. Substitute handguns and, as you note, it’s suddenly a mutually assured destruction situation. Not surprising that the fight never goes beyond the threat. What was the line? “The only way to win is not to play.”Report

  9. Avatar Kara says:

    I have seen the “Well, why don’t we ban cars then?” comment in forums more in the last few weeks than I can stand. What a ludicrous argument, for reasons I would think would be obvious to most people. But let’s just jump to the less obvious arguments as to why that statement makes no sense and proves a point that those against gun control didn’t quite think through.

    In 1966 there were over 50,000 deaths due to auto accidents in the United States. After watching the death toll climb steadily for 5 years, it was decided that something needed to change – there needed to be regulations put into place to lower those numbers. So, that year the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created standards and regulations to help ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on roadways. Included in those are mandatory seat belt laws, mandatory child restraint systems, collapsible steering columns, padded dashboards, supporting headrests, “crumple zones”, better headlights and the list goes on and on. There are regulations that cover every single item on a motor vehicle to increase its safety. But, more than that, it also included changes in licensing and testing of drivers, vehicle inspections, roadways with breakaway signs and utility poles, better traffic control systems, guardrails, better curve and road edge delineations, tougher and more enforced DWI laws. There have been thousands of regulations put in place to improve vehicle safety since 1966 in an effort to reduce the loss of human life. And, of course, there were plenty of complaints over the years from auto manufacturers and vehicle owners who had to comply with these new regulations. But you know what? Because of those annoying regulations, there are 25,000 fewer traffic deaths each year. And I certainly don’t feel like I’ve lost any of my freedoms complying to those laws.

    Now let’s take it one step further. It’s projected that by the year 2015, for the first time in history, there will be more deaths attributed to guns than automobiles in the United States. While the number of traffic fatalities have steadily decreased (22% decrease from 2005 to 2010 alone), the number of annual gun deaths continue to increase. Take a look at the graphic: http://www.bloomberg.com/image/i3cs6F7hTHkc.jpg

    Now, doesn’t it just seem like common sense that in order to reduce the loss of life, just like we did with automobiles, we create tougher gun control regulations?Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Kara says:

      It certainly does. And really, the thing I’m taking issue with is the use of “tougher.”

      Because while agree with particular gun regulations, the mentality of getting “tough” on guns is the same fetish that pervades the whole “getting tough on crime,” and “getting tough on drugs” crusades which have been epic failures.

      Everything you say about the cars though is exactly correct, which is why many of the things we take for granted with cars (safety mechanisms, lots of training/licensing, gps tracking, etc.) I support with regard to guns.

      A gun lover looking for a liberal ally might find some comfort in my tone and the basic premis from which I’m working, but there is nothing in the above that conservatives or libertarians will probably find attractive.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Ethan Gach says:

        The difference is, there is evidence that “getting tough on guns” via restricting their availability actually works.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          Works to prevent massacres or works to decrease the number of homicides? Could you pass along some links. Showing, after all, is better than telling.Report

            • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Kara says:

              The piece makes explicit that, while an interesting jumping off point, the simple comparison tells us nothing.

              Japan’s Yakuza alone have no clear parallel in U.S. gang/mob activity, and the overal patriarchy of Japanese society is not something that would be replicatable in the States.Report

              • Avatar Kara in reply to Ethan Gach says:

                True, but in the simplest terms, what it does show is that fewer guns equals fewer homicides. Cultural differences aside, just looking at crime and its relation to guns, when they reduced the number of guns in their society, the number of homicides decreased. Australia’s model shows the same.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Kara says:

                Yes. good. use australia. They don’t distort data there, as badly.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kara says:

              Kara – surely you understand that the cultures of the U.S. and Japan are extremely different. That plays an enormous role in crime.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                That’s a misleading argument. The facts are these: American society has G guns, S shooters and V victims. The intersection of G, S and V gives us the problem domain.Report

              • Avatar Kara in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Like I responded to Ethan, I’m taking this down to the simplest terms. In 1958 when Japan enacted their strict gun laws, there were 2.92 homicides per 100,000 people. Since then the homicide rate has annually declined so that in 2011 their homicide rate is 0.35 per 100,000. Are the other potential factors? Absolutely, but strict gun laws is certainly one of those factors. Jesse said, “there is evidence that ‘getting tough on guns’ via restricting their availability actually works” and Ethan asked for links showing that potential correlation. So, I provided links. Will we ever exactly model Japanese culture? Of course not. But I do think it’s short sighted to completely dismiss the lessons learned in other countries simply because our cultural models are different.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kara says:

                Kara – that seems to make sense until you actually compare gun-ownership to gun-related deaths on an international scale. For example, the gun ownership rates (per 100 residents) for the Phillipines and Taiwan look like this:

                Gun ownership
                – Taiwan 4.6
                – Phillipines 4.7

                But the gun-realted death rate (per 100,000 residents) looks like this:

                Gun deaths
                – Taiwan 0.42
                – Phillipines 9.46

                Big difference right? Let’s look at two more countries:

                Gun ownership
                – Barbados 7.8
                – Brazil 8

                Gun deaths
                – Barbados 3
                – Brazil 19.01

                Just to round things out, let’s look at Europe. Now, to be fair, the numbers do get a lot closer in first-world countries, but there is still some difference.

                Gun ownership
                – Iceland 30.3
                – Austria 30.4

                Gun deaths
                – Iceland 1.25
                – Austria 2.94

                So even in Europe we have two countries with almost identical gun ownership and yet one has nearly double the death rate. Care to explain these numbers?Report

              • Avatar Kara in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike, I agree with you. Those number reflect cultural differences. That’s why I compared Japan’s homicide numbers to Japan’s homicide numbers instead of comparing them to ours or other countries. What I’m saying is that, prior to Japan’s (and Australia’s) gun control laws, their homicide rates were higher than they were after their gun control laws.

                They’ve seen similar decline in the UK, who instituted strict gun laws after the Dunblane massacre in 1996. They enacted a pretty strict ban in 1998. Have they had gun deaths since then? Yes, they have. But overall the number of homicides has dropped. They peaked at about 24,000 in early 2000 and have dropped to just over 3,000 in 2011. Again, are they a culturally different country? Of course. But why aren’t we looking at what all of these other countries did right (and even what they did wrong) and adapt them and modify them and see if they work for us?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kara says:

                Okay – so look at the UK and a similar country:

                  Gun ownership

                – UK 6.2
                – Honduras 6.2

                  Gun deaths

                – UK 0.25
                – Honduras 46.7

                Now it seems unfair to compare the UK to a third world coutry in Central America, however, I think it highlights an important issue: There is a lot more organized crime in Honduras. Sort of like in the U.S. where an estimated 77% of homicides with a gun were during the commission of a felony.

                We have a crime problem. I’m not convinced we have a gun problem.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Kara says:

              Fucking HELL, will people stop fucking using japan!!!
              Culturally, a lot of homicide is classified as suicide there.

              And their cops suck. Nobody respects a Japanese cop.Report

              • Avatar Kara in reply to Kim says:

                Yes, this is definitely where cultural differences come into play. If a man kills his children and his wife, it’s called a “family suicide.” However, if a woman kills herself and her family, it’s called a murder-suicide. Such is the way in a still very male dominated society. The majority of suicides in Japan are males at 71%. We can assume that all of those are actual suicides (since a woman killing a man or a man killing another man would be considered murder). So, if you added all of the other 29% “suicides” to the homicide column, it still shows a decrease in the total number of homicides annually in Japan since the institution of their gun laws.Report

              • Avatar Kara in reply to Kara says:

                Just to clarify, when I said 71% are male, that’s men between the ages of 20-44. Didn’t want anyone to think I was counting male children in that.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Kara says:

                Add MORE suicides to the Japanese count if you please.
                In tokyo, if a man is found dead, with a gun, and has lost his wallet, it is classified as a suicide. He was obviously robbed, and then committed suicide because of shame.


                In America, the same evidence leads to “criminal killed man with gun, then stole money.”

                I’ll remind you that in Japan, civilians rarely have guns. The police explanation is patently implausible!Report

            • Avatar Just Me in reply to Kara says:

              This seems to be how they accomplish the low gun deaths.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Kara says:

      Great post Kara. The car analogy has been brought up against me in a variety of places, too many to keep track of, so I’ll address it here.

      Here are some of my thoughts.

      1. Owning a car that will not be used on the roads isn’t particularly dangerous. It just sits there in the garage.*** But using a car, whether you own or rent, especially if you use it incorrectly by driving too fast or wildly, is very dangerous. This is why we put most of our regulatory efforts on the use of cars on public roads. You have to have a license, pass a drivers test, an eye test, while using your car, and you must follow rules of the road (speed limits, seat belts, car seats, no cell phone, stop signs, school zones, etc) while using your car. As a result, we have all sorts of tools (which are showing success over time) to limit fatalities involving cars. (I would add some more tools: all cars should come equipped with breath-testers that won’t allow the car to start if you’re intoxicated, everyone should be required to do drivers tests/training every 5 years, all cars should have GPS devices installed to track thefts, older unsafe cars should be banned, higher CAFE standards, tax credits for preferring public transportation, etc.)

      2. But it isn’t possible to regulate the use of guns (especially handguns stored in the home or worn as concealed weapons which are the main culprit of the high suicide and homicide rates) in the same way. Guns aren’t -in most cases- carried around and used regularly in public where a policeman can catch a punish someone misusing a gun before a violent crime is committed. Rather, they are idle until they are -all too often- used to murder or commit suicide and at that point it is too late. The mere fact that a person owns a gun is the problem because the gun can be stolen or misused by the owner.

      3. Of course, we do regulate ownership of cars in some ways. You can’t buy a new car that doesn’t meet certain safety and environmental standards. We could do the same with weapons too, to minimize losses in mass shootings or to require trigger locks, GPS chips, serial numbers, etc. But this regulation of ownership is unlikely to make a big difference in suicide and homicide rates simply because the mere ownership of guns, regardless of whether they have a big magazine or a GPS chip, especially a handgun, makes suicide and homicide much more likely.

      4. It is unclear what kind of training or licensing program would make people stop using guns to commit suicide (suicide is primarily an expression of impulsivity and is very hard to predict in many cases) or to murder their spouse in a fit of rage. One cause of gun violence is a blast of unexpected, uncontrollable anger or fear. How do we train people to control that? And how do we eliminate organized crime (we are trying)? (By contrast, policies like Japan’s that reduce gun ownership yield drastically lower homicide rates/)

      5. Requiring people to store guns in certain very strict ways and to prove to local officials that their guns are properly stored might be a good start and may be where we can find some agreement with the pro-gun crowd. This might prevent some domestic violence homicide and suicide. Some.

      *** Cars (or knives or swords) can be used as murder weapons and suicide devices, but the evidence in places like Japan show that the existence of cars and knives does not make suicide and homicide easier or more likely to occur. The mere presence of guns does.Report

      • Avatar Just Me in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        I hope you don’t think that we are going to reduce the instance of suicides by reducing the number of guns in our society. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and as has been pointed out has very strict gun control laws.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Kara says:

      Also, it is important to remember that a world where we did successfully ban or severely minimize private ownership guns is not really worse in any serious way than the one we have. Our world would become more like Japan, which is a pretty nice place with a great economy, democratic government, low crime rate, etc.

      By contrast, if we banned cars, or severely limited their use and ownership by private citizens (replaced with taxis) it is unclear what would happen: Loss of life might (I would say would) go up in the long term. Certainly hundreds of millions of people would have their quality of life greatly affected negatively.

      1. We would need alternate modes of transportation which would themselves be somewhat unsafe. If we forced older people to walk long distances, in rural places, and places with harsh winters, even walking could come with loss of life. (I once crashed a bicycle in a very rural area and I could’ve died from blood loss.) People would have harder times getting to hospitals, with infants. (It might work in very crowded cities like Manhattan.)

      2. The economic damage in terms of lost hours in transportation would be huge and would take man hours from productive efforts, many of which do save lives: medicine, food production, etc. If you hire taxis to work rural areas, that hurts efficiency of man hours, too. (BTW, I agree that all of these are hurdles to creating mass transport in rural areas, too.)

      3. That said, we should work at slowly phasing automboile ownership out of our lives by creating incentives to have mass transportation and to live in dense rural areas. This saves lives and the environment. But an attempt to ban or massively restrict automobile designed to drop the auto related death rate now (instead of slowly phasing us into a world with more urban life and public transportation) would have horrific effects on the economy and quality of life, and might cause great loss of life elsewhere (especially amongst poorer, older people in rural, cold places.)

      So the “why not ban cars” analogy is entirely fallacious. Banning cars will cause damage that banning -or severely limiting access too- guns wouldn’t cause.Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        point 3 basically makes points 1 and 2 irrelevant by acknowledging that what’s actually being proposed would indeed be better in the long run.

        Banning cars analogy holds because in both instances I’m assuming the progressive eradication of the tool, even if for some reason you are not.

        As for the first paragraph, no, we would not magically become Japan. But if you want to say that getting rid of guns will make us like Japan, then I’m willing to indulge you by hashing that fiction out.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to E.C. Gach says:

          I’m a bit confused about exactly what we disagree on. Sorry, my post is rambling, but I don’t follow you. Maybe you can explain more.

          More guns (especially handguns) causes more homicides and suicides. See here for links to the most recent peer-reviewed research and literature reviews:


          I will quote: “Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.”

          Less guns means less homicides (and suicides). Period.Report

          • Avatar Just Me in reply to Shazbot3 says:

            I also found a study that showed that in the majority of suicide cases the gun had been bought in the last year. Makes me think that the gun was bought to commit the suicide, not the suicide being done because there was a gun in the house. So saying less guns means less suicides period isn’t so period. Now if you said more guns means more suicides by gun I would have no problem. I don’t know that you can extrapolate that those people would not have committed suicide by a different means if they didn’t have access to a gun. And in the end isn’t the ultimate freedom the freedom to end ones life?Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Just Me says:

              My grandfather (a successful suicide) used a long-owned gun (he was a hunter). My friend (unsuccessful attempt) purchased his in the weeks before the attempt, solely for that purpose.

              In both cases I suspect they would have made suicide attempts, accessible gun or no. The gun was merely the tool they used.


            • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Just Me says:

              Some info here:


              “Based on a survey of American households conducted in 2002, HSPH Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Matthew Miller, Research Associate Deborah Azrael, and colleagues at the School’s Injury Control Research Center (ICRC), found that in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. The inverse was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower.”

              If what you are saying is true, then the reason that there are more guns in, say, Wyoming, is that more people their plan to kill themselves and buy guns to do so. I believe that more people kill themselves in Wyoming because there are more guns there.

              I can’t find your study to see if we can find data that goes the other way, but it isn’t mentioned in any of the peer reviewed, scientific stuff I’ve been reading.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                Both ideas stupid.
                Rural poverty/stress is endemic. Causes both gunownership (not much else to do out there, also good for getting food) and suicide.

                Hidden variable for the win.Report

              • Avatar Just Me in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                Just to let you know I am searching for the study again, I found it during the middle of the night and didn’t save the search. I will link to it when I do find it. I was kinda upset that I couldn’t find it to link to in my original post.Report

              • Avatar Just Me in reply to Just Me says:

                Ok, here is not the original study I found. The original was not based in one state. I had thought it was on either the CDC or FBI website, but alas I can not find the link I had happened to click on to find it. Here is a study that pertains to California. I would be interested in finding out what those here who actually do studies or know more than me on what equates a good study, if they think this is valid.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Isn’t dense and rural a contradiction in terms?Report

  10. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I stated this in the post I submitted, and in a few comments previously (no idea yet if it will go up).

    I am wholly for registering gun owners who wish to transport firearms unsecured (i.e. hunters, concealed carry holders, etc.). I balk at registering guns in general. I do think registered owners should be well trained, with regular testing to maintain certification. I think the whole process should be rigorous, but not overly expensive.

    The greatest danger is that we will price the right out of reach for the poor. If the cost, be it in time &/or money, is too high, a large segment of the population will be banned for owning firearms solely because they do not have enough free time or money to do so.

    I also worry that such requirements will leave people with a genuine need for self-defense helpless (folks with orders of protection, etc.), unless an exception is made for them.Report

    • I think the concern about financially burdensom restrictions is legitimate.Report

      • Avatar M.A. in reply to Ethan Gach says:

        I agree about the question, but libertarians always love regressive fees over progressive taxation, so I just kind of shrug.

        The argument that fines for civil offenses like speeding should be based on a percentage of income is one that I find to be highly intriguing, but ever libertarian I’ve ever brought it up with freaks out and accuses me of being some sort of bizarre statist. Likewise when I point out that the auto registration scheme in my state, based on set fees, is incredibly regressive (someone who can barely afford a rusty beater pays the same in registration and fees as the guy who paid cash for a brand new ferrari).

        So I hold little hope that libertarians will recognize that maybe progressive fees are the way to go, and I just assume they’ll jump straight to using “pricing the poor out” as an excuse for why they think registration fees shouldn’t exist.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M.A. says:

          I’m a libertarian & I love flat taxes & progressive fees.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            I’m a liberal and I’m with ya there.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            What’s the rationale for this? vis progressive taxes and flat fees?
            What proportion of each would you favor?

            Not trying to be cantankerous here — removing sales tax would make me sign up to an awful lot of crazy schemes.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            Do you think there is a way to administer progressive fees effectively and efficiently?

            I will use me as an example because why not. I am a relatively new lawyer. I pay bar dues to two states (New York and California). New York costs me 375 dollars every other year. California costs me around 400 every year.

            As far as I can tell every lawyer pays the same fee. It does not matter what your income level, years of experience, or employment level is. I pay the same as lawyers who make salaries in the high 6 or low 7 figures. I also pay the same as lawyers who make much less than me for whatever reason.

            The same goes for CLE credits. I pay the same amount per a credit as lawyers who make much more and much less than me. Some might have their firms pay both expenses.

            This seems to be a kind of price discrimination to me. Making everyone pay the same regardless of what they do or how much they make.However it is also extremely easy to administer. Can you think of a way to do bar fees on a sliding scale in an efficient way?Report

  11. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “Why? Because car related deaths are part of the plan… The Newtown massacre was not according to plan.”

    This is absolutely, positively, 100% true.

    It’s worth noting, however, that we actually regulate the s**t out of the manufacture, use, care, registration, and required indemnity to go along with automobiles. If anything – anything, ANYTHING, any one little tiny thing – tics automobile death statistics up a notch it is immediately pounced upon by government and manufacturers alike in an effort to try to reverse the trend.

    I just point this out because most of the people I know that use the car analogy to defend gun rights tend to be the same people that freak out at the thought of treating gun manufacturing, sales and use even the tiniest bit like we do automobiles.Report