Insufficient Arguments

Avatar

Patrick

Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

Related Post Roulette

142 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
    Ignored
    says:

    Thanks for the photo, whoever.

    I was looking for one, just now 🙂Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    So big wet blanker who finds no argument from either side compelling.

    What would you do? Where do you stand?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      In the absence of a compelling likelihood that you’re going to make anything better via an intervention, it’s hard to make a case that you should do anything.

      There are a number of interventions that I regard as pretty low-risk (in terms of making things worse instead of better) and low-cost (both to the potentially impacted, economically speaking, and from a liberty standpoint).

      However, we’ve done a bunch of those interventions in California and we haven’t seen a particularly awesome drop (or increase) in violent crime that can’t be more readily explained by other factors. So they’re unlikely to help, and thus I don’t think it’s a case where federal intervention is required.

      Thus, almost all of the below should be up to the states to establish. This means if you want to live in Alaska and everybody in Alaska wants common concealed carry, you pretty much have to put up with it. While there’s no compelling evidence that it makes Alaskans safer, there’s also no compelling evidence that it doesn’t, so you don’t have much ground to claim that you have a compelling interest to force everybody else to change. “I’m scared” is not a justifiable reason to demand a change in policy, generally… it’s far less so when you’re talking about imposing on one of the Big Ten.

      I think it’s reasonable to demand a basic safety and training course for gun purchasers. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog, if we’re considering this to be a common good, we need to pay for it, so these courses should be free of charge (particularly because those people who do actually have something of a credible reason to buy a gun for self-defense are very highly correlated with the poor, so a regressive barrier to gun ownership seems particularly a bad idea). This should be threefold; one to own handguns, one for hunting, and one for carrying a loaded firearm. In particular, if your state allows concealed or open carry, it should be up to the state to drill the citizenry in the legal ramifications of carrying a firearm, particularly in the case of a self-defense scenario. My understanding is that many states already do this, to one degree or another.

      I think it’s arguably reasonable to ask people to properly store their firearms; however, I think any argument or policy to ask people to do so, should be generally to properly store all deadly equipment and items, on the same grounds. Thus, accidental deaths on a property due to firearms should be no more or less punishable than accidental deaths due to poison ingestion or other methods of accidentally killing yourself on someone’s property due to an unknown or unsafe hazard. I don’t think this should necessarily be a felony, unless it’s particularly egregious… although it should be grounds for civil action and possibly a loss of permit/impounds for firearm ownership. I also think there needs to be a mechanism for exceptions.

      I don’t think there’s any legitimate call for a gun ban based upon cosmetic features or caliber. Bans on short shotguns are ridiculous. There is simply no sufficient reason to justify it. But then, I don’t think any particular sort of knife or club or sword should be banned, either. It’s ludicrous that California bans balisongs but I can carry around a hatchet just fine. I don’t think there’s much in the way of a demonstrable efficacy to demand a magazine size limit, given than anybody disturbed enough to go on a mass shooting spree is also highly correlated with someone intelligent enough to manufacture their own extended magazine if they want one… but I really don’t see a significant imposition on gun rights by limiting magazine size to 17 for pistols (the largest magazine I currently know of, stock) and 20 for long guns.

      I think a national gun registry is problematic. Given a good design, I think it’s possibly justifiable, but I haven’t seen a good design yet, so there’s that problem. Mad Rocket Scientist came up with some good brainstorming on Mike’s thread. MRS was on fire on that thread, really.

      I don’t think microstamping of ammunition is going to be particularly effective, but Mike seems to think it can’t hurt and he’s much more familiar with guns than I am, so I’m not about to discard it out of hand.

      I think this paragraph of M.A.’s in his post is more likely to go somewhere productive than any of the above.

      We need to have honest debate about the fact that the justice system has been used for far too long as a substitute for a real system to deal with mental illness, assist those who are stricken by it, and perhaps, yes, a need to mandate that those with mental illness issues be in care for it. Someone randomly exploding, causing a horrific tragedy, is a public face for mental illness, but there are how many victims of mental illness who are never guilty of more than vagrancy or petty crime, who fall in and out of the system because the system isn’t equipped to recognize their real issue?

      I think Zic’s comment about gun suspension/temporary impounds of domestic abuse claims is worthy of a lot more investigation, given that it’s just about the only way that middle class people get killed intentionally by guns, so it’s indicative of a problem disconnected from violent crime indicators, generally.

      I think it’s reasonable for highly populated urban areas to place more stringent, but low-grade penalty restrictions than states, due to the high correlation between large amounts of violent crime and high density urban areas. I also think it’s reasonable for low population rural areas to tell the city dwellers to take their gun control regulations and stick ’em in their ear, for a goodly number of proposed gun regulations. I don’t know a good way to balance that out, really. I’m open to suggestions.

      If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        “In the absence of a compelling likelihood that you’re going to make anything better via an intervention, it’s hard to make a case that you should do anything.”

        As I have mentioned in other posts, this attitude is sort of alien and a bit incomprehensible to me. It goes counter to the notion of Tikkun Olam (“to mend the world”) I will admit that intervention can make things worse and one should think about consequences. However, I don’t think one should accept incidents like Newton as being unpreventable or inevitable. That is an inherently fatalistic and pre-destined attitude that I cannot and do not accept. There was a story on NPR a few years ago about various ministers responding to the Thai Tsunami and they were talking about a small child who died. The Protestant Minister said that the Tsunami and the child’s death were God’s Will and meant to happen. The Rabbi said bullshit. I’m with the rabbi. Even if we were suppose that a horrible event like Newton was God’s will, what is the purpose? Perhaps instead of believing that it is to punish us for original sin, it is better to encourage action and prevention of violence and massacre.

        I do not know whether you are religious or not but my guess based on your name is that your background is Irish-Catholic. I am not a super religious person, nor was I raised in a very religious household. However, Judaism is a materialist religion and the primary concern is making life in this world better and more compassionate and I find that this shapes my philosophy and politics. In general, I find the same is true for secular people who come from backgrounds where the religion or culture is more fatalistic and non-Materialist. There is something about the long chain of history that influences his or her world view. He or she might have been raised in a secular household but the Calvinism or Catholic fatalism stuck around.

        “(both to the potentially impacted, economically speaking, and from a liberty standpoint).”

        I suppose this involves getting into a debate about what is liberty and what rights are necessary or not for a truly free society (excluding absolute anarchy which is untenable). This is something where liberals, conservatives, libertarians, moderates are bound to be looked in perpetual disagreement.

        “However, we’ve done a bunch of those interventions in California and we haven’t seen a particularly awesome drop (or increase) in violent crime that can’t be more readily explained by other factors. So they’re unlikely to help, and thus I don’t think it’s a case where federal intervention is required.”

        I suppose this becomes a question of epistomology and doubt and like so many of those questions people default to their preferred ideological stance. We saw this in the community last week. Roger argued that the laws against child labor were unnecessary because the market eventually made child labor inefficient and unnecessary. LWA argued that it was the laws prohibiting child labor that caused the market to become more efficient and was frustrated that Roger could not see this. I imagine the same default would play out here. Gun Control advocates are going to argue that the regulations led to a decrease in crime and those opposed to gun control would argue the other way around. I am getting rather tired of these debates but it seems to be the Human Condition even if it makes me want to move to a Chalet in the Swiss Alps with a large pile of books and Maggie Gyllenhaal to keep me company.

        “Thus, almost all of the below should be up to the states to establish. This means if you want to live in Alaska and everybody in Alaska wants common concealed carry, you pretty much have to put up with it.”

        This I can agree with as long as bluer states can get their stricter regulations like no concealed carry without the NRA going bonkers. Though this shows the inherit sham of Federalism. Everyone is for states’ rights when it supports their side and against states’ rights when it does not. The true believer in states’ rights would argue that Texas and Alaska get their rights to concealed carry while blue California can enact her bleeding heart liberal laws. In truth, very few people (if anyone) does this.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
          Ignored
          says:

          The true believer in states’ rights would argue that Texas and Alaska get their rights to concealed carry while blue California can enact her bleeding heart liberal laws.

          The empiricist would probably look at California and say “what gun control laws do they have?” and note them, then look at Texas and say “what gun control laws do they have?” and note them and compare gun crimes between the two.

          Would it be fair to ask that something like that to be done?Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to NewDealer
          Ignored
          says:

          It goes counter to the notion of Tikkun Olam (“to mend the world”) I will admit that intervention can make things worse and one should think about consequences.

          In addition to intervention’s potential unforeseen negative consequences, which you concede – when you don’t have a clear path forward to improvement, yet are trying to “mend” anyway – aren’t you diverting your “mending” resources away from the things that *can* be mended?

          In other words, even when trying to live by the Tikkun Olam principle, wouldn’t opportunity costs need to be considered? Could it be that what to you looks like “fatalism” is simply others saying, “my time/effort is best spent mending elsewhere”?

          Obviously, you know my biases, and I am largely with Patrick on this; for all the talking we have all done at this guns symposium – and it has been really interesting, and far less vicious than I was expecting – I have seen no clear consensus arise on what, if anything, can or should be done about guns or gun laws themselves. Nothing that basically most everybody (or even anything looking like a simple majority) has said, “yeah, let’s do that, that would make a big difference”. And we have some really smart people, spread over the ideological spectrum (or at least, its center).

          Of course, people on all sides may feel that is only because somebody else is being irrational & unreasonable, and not due to any genuine conflict of rights or values; but even if that’s true (I don’t think it is), well, that’s the democracy we live in, so what are we gonna do?

          And if that’s the case, is it fatalism to say, “let’s focus our gaze elsewhere”?Report

          • Avatar Just Me in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            I agree. I also don’t know that we have even determined what outcome we would like to see. Is it less gun deaths over all? Is it less mass shootings? Is it less gun ownership? Is it I don’t know but I want something done? For myself, I think in order to solve any problem the expected outcome should be defined and that is what I think we have failed to do, define the expected outcome.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            One consensus: End the Illegal Drug Problem. At least, we have most of the liberals and the libertarians on board. And I think we got at least one conservative (crunchy?) onboard.

            But, since it’s ALREADY consensus, nobody’s bothering to talk about it.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim
              Ignored
              says:

              Yeah, most everybody who’s not conservative wants to largely end the WoD (and to be fair, even many conservatives want to modify it or ramp it down, if not scrap it entirely) – but that needs to be done even if there wasn’t a single gun in the world.

              So I didn’t really name it as relevant for that reason (though yeah, I agree, it’s the largest single bullet – pardon the expression – that we could put through many American social problems).Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            “In addition to intervention’s potential unforeseen negative consequences, which you concede – when you don’t have a clear path forward to improvement, yet are trying to “mend” anyway – aren’t you diverting your “mending” resources away from the things that *can* be mended?”

            Just because I think we need to do something does not mean I think we need to always do something right away. Gun Control might need to be a longer process. However, change needs to come faster than at a speed that makes the more conservative members of society happy. As I said before here, civil rights cannot come at a speed that makes the reactionary at ease.

            Libertarians can appreciate this is we were talking about ubber and taxi cabs. The current medallion laws favor the entrenched interests that libertarians despise and I am sure they want to move swiftly on repealing those. Here the entrenched interest of do nothing favors the gun owners and the gun lobby. This is a very white, male, rural interest for the most part and not one that benefits all. Do Nothing arguments often seem to benefit the older, white male interest.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            Also sometimes full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes is the best solution. Sometimes action needs to be swift.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to NewDealer
          Ignored
          says:

          You’re attributing a lot of fatality.

          There’s a big difference between, “I see this as a fairly intractable problem, but that’s because I can’t think of a solution, and the ones I’ve seen offered don’t look like they’ll work” and “This is insolvable.” The second one is a rejection of everything. The first is a request for ideas.

          I have to be honest, I’m pretty sure this *is* insolvable, in the grand sense. It’s probably very easily mitigated, but not by tackling gun crime… because the root problem of societal violence isn’t gun crime… it’s education, opportunity, work, and to some extent racism. Those things can all be mitigated a lot easier than the dark heart that dwells in the breast of men.

          From a public policy standpoint, we can undoubtedly lower our violent crime rate by an astronomical amount by ending the War on Drugs.

          However, I’m at heart a cynical optimist; just because I can’t see it don’t mean it ain’t there… and just because we don’t have a clear idea of what works or doesn’t work doesn’t mean that we can’t try things and see what happens.

          So, after I write a few thousand words and the substantive part of your response is, “Now what?” (rather than actually disagreeing with anything I wrote), I will turn it back to you.

          Now what? What do you suggest we do? And why do you think it will work?

          I’m incredibly leery of cheerleading, and I’m hugely against changing things without version control.

          The Assault Weapons Ban argument the other day is a perfect example. There is *plenty* of empirical evidence that the AWB had no measurable effect on gun crime, mass violence, violent crime generally, or homicide.

          That means it is a dead end, barring major substantive revisions. It is by any measure a complete failure. Period. And yet not only is it the first bill to be discussed… when Mark wrote his (excellent) post on why it was a bad idea, he got what could be charitably described as pushback.

          So far, the four best contributions I can see for actual productive ideas are: end the war on drugs, better social mental health care policy, training programs and staggered license programs for gun owners, and better domestic abuse policy.

          Should we talk about those? Are they enough?Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            And of those 4 ideas, only one would conceivably have prevented Newton. And even that idea (better mental health care policy) I suspect is much easier said than done once we try to get into specifics.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Glyph
              Ignored
              says:

              Newton was probably not preventable, not in any systematic sense.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Which brings us right back to Just Me’s question – have we defined what we want to accomplish?

                If only there were some sort of handy acronym for this problem…

                (As a side note, if I am ever able to attend any sort of League gathering IRL, I hereby move that a jubilantly-shouted “OPRE!” be the official toast whenever drinks are shared).Report

              • Avatar Anne in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                I know I should know this but what the heck does OPRE stand for? Is it really Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation? Am I missing somethingReport

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Anne
                Ignored
                says:

                “Our Problems Remain Epistemological” – the idea that half the reason we can never come together on these discussions, is because we haven’t even really agreed on common definitions of terms etc…Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Newton was probably not preventable, not in any systematic sense.

                Sure it was. If the mother didn’t have an arsenal of easily accessible weapons in her house, the event wouldn’t have occurred.

                Now, you could go counterfactual, of course: since the kid had the intent to kill a bunch of children, nothing – NOTHING! – would have prevented him from doing so.

                But that’s counterfactual right? Isn’t also question-begging?Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m going with you.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “an arsenal of easily accessible weapons”
                … so if we ban all cooking, then this wouldn’t have happened?
                … so if we ban gasoline and other incendiaries, this wouldn’t have happened?

                Perhaps you meant to be more specific?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                Do you know what a counterfactual is?

                Do you know what question begging means?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Let me re-order something….

                Now, you could go counterfactual, of course…

                If the mother didn’t have an arsenal of easily accessible weapons in her house, the event wouldn’t have occurred.

                THAT IS A COUNTERFACTUAL, STILL.

                Right there.

                And you probably really don’t have any basis to make that statement. You probably don’t know a damn thing about his psychology. I know a little, I’ve read a lot of these cases.

                There’s nothing in the history of spree killers that leads me to believe that the absence of one trigger event is going to prevent them from going off on a killing spree. It just changes how they do it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Patrick, I don’t know what you think I’m arguing thru all these threads but I’m gonna take Mike D’s advice and walk away.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not sure you’re getting me, either, Stillwater, based upon your responses.

                Based on past interactions, I’d say that if we hammered away at it for another week or so we’d probably figure it out, but if you want to table it for now that’s okay with me.

                Who knows, we might be able to get a better idea of what the other guy is saying if we just listen to him talk to somebody else for a while.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
              Ignored
              says:

              Just because something is easier said than done does not mean we shouldn’t try to do it.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
              Ignored
              says:

              Some more thoughts on mental health access.

              It seems like many on the right and/or many libertarians are against more mental health access/care because it will possibly or probably mean more government spending and big government. This is not something private markets and charities can do alone.

              The status quo here is untenable and immoral. Right now we seem to use the prison and criminal justice system to house our long-term mentally ill. We wait until they commit a bad enough crime, deem them sane enough to handle a trial, and then just lock them up for the rest of their lives or decades in prison. This is probably more costly than more mental health access. It is also immoral to those who were the victims of crimes and the mentally ill themselves. This is not a just policy and it should be one that any democracy is ashamed of.

              A week or two ago another man was pushed to his death while waiting for a subway train. In no surprise she had a history of mental health issues, attacking other people because of insane delusions (though with less deadly results), and not being supervised enough to take her medications.

              Why is it good for a society to let a person who might be permanently mentally ill just sit around like a ticking time bomb until something really bad happens? At that point we just shutter said person off to prison and talk about free will. The mentally ill person did not have free will to commit his or her crime. They committed because of insane delusions beyond his or her control. The reason so many people with mental illnesses are also alcohol abusers is because that is a “self-medication” that they can afford over their drugs.

              But hey, such is the price for freedom.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to NewDealer
                Ignored
                says:

                ND, speaking for myself only, the reservations I have are not really “spending/government” per se; they are more to do with “how do we decide that someone is really dangerous to others, before they commit the act?”

                Things like “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” still have force in making people like me worry about the false positives – the people that we’ll end up institutionalizing & medicating that are really just eccentric, non-conforming individuals that will never “detonate”.

                There’s no question we need to do a better job on this front; but we need to tread *extremely* cautiously in this area when we are talking about restraining or medicating people against their wills, just as we should be extremely judicious about who we jail (because in some cases, there really won’t be much difference in the end result – we’ll be depriving someone of their freedom, possibly for life).Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                These are all valid concerns. But I was not really thinking of full institutionalization a la One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. How about an army of social workers to help people along. Did you ever read Million Dollar Murray by Malcolm Gladwell. It would have been cheaper to give Murray, a full-time nurse/social worker than all his visits to the ER and drying him out. The social worker/nurse seemed to work as well. Why is the full time social worker such a bad idea?

                http://www.gladwell.com/2006/2006_02_13_a_murray.html

                You see a lot of mentally ill people in San Francisco. You also see a lot of non-confronting eccentrics. They mentall-ill have their good days and bad days. There is one guy on my bus route. Once he just told me the various delusions he suffers under from his paranoid-schizophrenia. They involved the SF Park Rangers using the De Young Museum to summon 500 year old Nazi Demons into this world. He also strongly implied that he was tortured badly by these Nazi-Demons because he is the only person who can see them. The other time I saw him, he was in such a bad state that people left the bus early and two women asked me to walk with them for a bit because he got off and was walking up the street as well.

                There have been other people with mental illness acting up on the bus to the point where everyone stood far away.

                The false positive issue is a tricky one. Most people would at least say* that it is better for a guilty person to go free than lock up an innocent person. The same I suppose is true for mental illness. Though it still seems like we are not doing enough to give even voluntary mental health access or make it affordable.

                *Whether people really believe this is up for debate in my opinion. I’m doubtful. Americans seem to have settled on mass incarceration to solve our societal ills. I do not think ending the drug war will solve the mass incarceration crisis. There is a tendency among both liberals and conservatives to want to jail people who commit certain acts for a long time. These are often different acts though. I am afraid that the compromise we have reached is that conservatives get long jail sentences for their preferred crimes and liberals get long jail sentences for their preferred crimes.Report

          • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            There is evidence of a causal connection here (that more guns cause more homicide),, again in a peer reviewed publication by a practicing social scientist (which has not yet been refuted in peer reviewed journal), and evidence agaimst “reverse causation” (i.e. that a greater desire to commit homicides and suicides leads to more gun possession),

            http://sanford.duke.edu/research/papers/SAN04-07.pdf

            There are questions about how steong the causal connection (ie guns causing higher homicide rates) is, but its existence is well confirmed and not falsified. (As Hume and Popper agree, we can never know that causal connections exist in science, but as Pooper points out we can have a good theory about causes that is well confirmed and not falsified. The theory that guns cause higher homicide rates is such a good theory.)Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5
              Ignored
              says:

              You certainly did your duty in looking that paper up. If there aren’t bells going off in the heads of people who read that, you should ding them until the last ding is dung. If they still won’t listen, you should tell them to scat.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5
              Ignored
              says:

              Before I go read this (by the abstract, it looks like it might be interesting), I have to ask… did you read this thing?

              Do you anticipate any objections I might have?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5
              Ignored
              says:

              A couple of preliminary notes:

              This is a working paper from a conference. It has less scrutiny that a journal paper. This is not a knock on it, per se, it just means that there are statements taken as givens that I can’t evaluate directly. This is not my field, so I’m not cognizant of all of the ramifications of some of these proposed methods of evaluation and evaluation.

              This is more of a limitation on my ability to evaluate it than anything else.

              For example: “Our new estimates utilize an improved proxy for county and state gun ownership rates, ther percentage of suicides committed with a gun (FFS).”

              I’m not sure why this is an improved proxy (they have a whole section on it in the paper, so perhaps I’ll find out when I get there). Someone whose primary research focus was gun policy (who would presumably review this article when it makes it to journal status) might have an editorial comment about that.

              Also, from the concluding paragraph (yes, I skipped ahead for the money) does mention that the authors believe that the correlation between gun ownership and crime is largely a factor of acquisition of otherwise legal firearms by prohibited individuals.

              If you agree with the findings in the paper, in general, do you agree with this conclusion?

              If that’s the case, then barriers to make it more difficult for unauthorized people to acquire guns from legitimate gun owners (storage requirements to prevent theft, transfer-of-ownership, etc) can probably be shown (to some degree, using a similar methodology of the overall paper) to be effective or not at preventing this transfer.

              Given that’s all the case, then, would you support storage requirements as assuaging your argument against gun ownership?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        Alaska has an extremely high rate of rape. I’m certain this is partially cultural, but I wonder if the number of people carrying guns has something to do with it?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        (Bad Elvis Impersonation)Thank you! Thank you very much! (END Bad Elvis Impersonation)Report

  3. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    What?! Is that all you have to say?

    But seriously…good post. Lots of stuff to chew over. Two little points stand out for me. Hollywood and video games companies love, love , love guns. For decades there have been dozens of big and little movies that make gun use seem easy peasy, show the good guy with dead aim, minimize the pain and consequences of violence and gun use. Some gun owners are truly immensely paranoid and are sure they are always in mortal danger regardless of the stats you show and where they live. Nothing is changing that. Bonus third point, none of this actually addresses what kind of laws we should have. Not that you need to here, you’ve done plenty of work. However to many of these discussions end up in theorizing or liberty vs kids lives discussions without discussing many specific ideas and whether they are good or bad.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Hollywood certainly bears a lot of blame here. On video games, I know at least Patrick likes to read the abstracts and studies themselves. It is no accident that researchers use movies with depictions of intense violence to test subject’s reactions after they’d been playing violent video games (or not). Desensitization is indeed an artifact of our society but Kitty Genovese’s cries for help were ignored by people who couldn’t have imagined a video game although they were all but certain to have watched many movies, plus the rough and tumble of dense urban life.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to wardsmith
        Ignored
        says:

        Ward, my understanding is that the well-known story of Kitty Genovese is much more symbolic than actual fact.

        Also, my informal understanding is that, for example, Japanese entertainment media is often very very violent; yet Japan IRL, not so much. So any link between entertainment consumed and real-life behavior, while I won’t discount it out of hand, is at least somewhat questionable in importance or effect.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s a follow-up to that one, Ward, showing a major drop-off effect, which makes the link to mass media pretty tenuous.

        Gar, I’m currently without my database. I’ll try and dig it up for you.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan
          Ignored
          says:

          Patrick, The physiological reaction (arousal, galvanic response) is indeed time limited but they haven’t nailed down the desensitizing timeline. Other studies indicate that desensitizing methods are used by the military to both prepare troops for combat scenarios and to help them recover from PTSD.

          Greg, I recommend you read this. Very interesting and eye opening. Much has been made of the story since it happened, but one caveat is that I suspect many of the witnesses felt tremendous guilt afterwards and that may well have skewed their recollections and/or statements given to the police. The null hypothesis test is whether subsequent violent acts witnessed by multiple people generated multiple calls to the police. With many recent events, 911 staffers are inundated with calls (admittedly this in a ubiquitous cell phone culture that even /has/ a 911 to call). Also interesting is The parable of the 38 witnessesReport

      • Avatar greginak in reply to wardsmith
        Ignored
        says:

        The common explanation for the inaction re: Kitty G was not desensitization but diffusion of responsibility. It wasn’t that people didn’t think her screams were disturbing but that they all assumed others would be calling so they didn’t.Report

  4. Avatar Shazbot3
    Ignored
    says:

    Lots to debate here. (I recommend breaking this up into pieces. The comment thread will be a mess otherwise, IMO.)

    “Some types of guns are more dangerous than others”

    What you say here seems like a slippery slope argument. Some objects are too dangerous to be owned privately except in special cases.

    “An armed populace is a safer (or more dangerous) populace!”

    These peer reviewed papers suggest guns make a country less safe when controlling for other factors: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html

    “Banning guns, or certain types of guns, will stop mass killings”

    The goal is to make mass killings less likely and less deadly when they do happen, not to stop them, which is too difficult, unfortunately.

    “The United States is uniquely violent in the world.”

    I’m not sure. What do you mean by “Country X is violent.” It is not clear how to define the overall violence level of a country. We are best off talking about homicides, suicides, etc as these are more clearly defined.

    “Irresponsible storage or use of firearms results in a huge number of deaths”

    Well you are right that accidental gun deaths are a comparatively small problem. But I think the goal of requiring proper gun storage is to prevent you children, relatives, and friends from using your weapon to impulsively commit suicide or murder. And if your guns are stored, the few moments to get them out of storage might -in some cases- allow cooler heads to prevail. That is to say, improper gun use (and gun theft), not just accidents may be reduced by requiring proper storage, which is just an ethical duty anyway.

    “Basically, guns aren’t as dangerous as the gentlepersons of the Left seem to think they are”

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, the amount of gun related deaths in the U.S. is beginning to approach (as the car number goes down) the number of automobile accident deaths. This is a large pool of people being killed every year and other wealthy, industrialized countries do a much better job preventing these deaths.

    Are there bigger public health problems than guns? Sure. But it is a fairly big problem and one that would be at least partially solved by drying up the pool of guns (especially handguns). The only question is how to do that and whether the costs (moral and financial) of doing so are higher than the benefits.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot3
      Ignored
      says:

      What you say here seems like a slippery slope argument. Some objects are too dangerous to be owned privately except in special cases.

      Such as? Under what grounds to you claim them to be “too dangerous”? Are they just as dangerous as a long laundry list of other things that you would not ban? If so, then “dangerous” is clearly not the only factor involved. “My convenience” isn’t going very far with me, but you’re welcome to try.

      These peer reviewed papers suggest guns make a country less safe when controlling for other factors:

      I specifically link to that page, and explain why that suggestion is fairly weak. I have real methodological problems with those studies, if you’re using them to support that conclusion. Do they show something interesting? Yes. They don’t show anything about “safety”. They show something about “homicide”.

      It is not clear how to define the overall violence level of a country. We are best off talking about homicides, suicides, etc as these are more clearly defined.

      Agreed, that was part of my point… and you just made that mistake in the previous paragraph.

      But I think the goal of requiring proper gun storage is to prevent you children, relatives, and friends from using your weapon to impulsively commit suicide or murder.

      With all due respect, aside from someone’s own potential feelings of guilt (which would be largely but not entirely unwarranted), I’m really not sure why it’s any one individual’s responsibility for someone else’s mental health, particularly given that it’s pretty damn easy to commit suicide. I realize that “access to a gun” is often considered a motivator for people who commit suicide, but I’m staggeringly unconvinced that this is causal. Somebody might impulsively decide to step in front of my car or jump in front of a city’s train or take a jump off of a corporation’s building. If we agree that suicide is a societal problem (and I do, actually), I’m pretty sure that tackling suicide by providing better health care systems and better mental health systems and crisis support for at-risk groups is a much better route than criminalizing someone for not being a mind-reader.

      As has been pointed out elsewhere, the amount of gun related deaths in the U.S. is beginning to approach (as the car number goes down) the number of automobile accident deaths. This is a large pool of people being killed every year and other wealthy, industrialized countries do a much better job preventing these deaths.

      Other wealthy, industrialized countries also do a much worse job of preventing assault and robbery. Hey, Russia has had an actual civil war recently. Greece has had riots, so did the U.K. (in 2011, no less! A coworker was robbed on his honeymoon). The last time we had real riots was in 1993 (I watched fires all over Los Angeles from the bluff by LAX).

      I’m not sure that focusing on “gun deaths” is the right way to approach overall societal violence. In fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

      But you’re going to have to show me what you want to do and explain to me why it is going to work, and how you’re going to measure potential failure, before I’m going to get on board.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        “I specifically link to that page, and explain why that suggestion is fairly weak. I have real methodological problems with those studies, if you’re using them to support that conclusion. Do they show something interesting?”

        But you didn’t cite or refer to the specific data in those studies. You seem to assume that they say such and such without citing what they say, specifically,

        At any rate, look at the Sanford paper that claims that guns do caus higher homicide rates I cited elsewhere on this thread.

        “I’m really not sure why it’s any one individual’s responsibility for someone else’s mental health, particularly given that it’s pretty damn easy to commit suicide. I realize that “access to a gun” is often considered a motivator for people who commit suicide, but I’m staggeringly unconvinced that this is causal. Somebody might impulsively decide to step in front of my car or jump in front of a city’s train or take a jump off of a corporation’s building.”

        I’m sorry but this is woefully wrong. Reducing access to some means of committing suicide reduces suicide rates (see GG Bridge controversy), even amongst the most tragic cases where the person (teens, all to often) had a good life ahead of them if they hadn’t committed suicide. Many suicides are incredibly tragic and entirely preventable:
        http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/

        “I’m pretty sure that tackling suicide by providing better health care systems and better mental health systems and crisis support for at-risk groups is a much better route”

        Mental health reduces suicides. So does reducing access to some means of suicide. We can and have an obligation do both; we needn’t choose one as better than the other,

        “criminalizing someone for not being a mind-reader”

        Not sure I get this. IMO, penalties for gin violations should be financial, or maybe community service in most cases, no criminal record or jail time.

        “I’m not sure that focusing on “gun deaths” is the right way to approach overall societal violence. In fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.”

        All this talk about overall violence as opposed to homicide specifically seems like a red herring. I argue that we can (and should) reduce gun caused homicides and suicides (as we attempt to reduce car fatalities, smoking deaths. etc). I doubt that will effect overall levels of violence, including -say- assaults positively or negatively. Is the some reason to think otherwise? If not, your discussion of violence is a red herring.

        Sorry if I don’t respond to everything. There are so many seperate issues in this post.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5
          Ignored
          says:

          But you didn’t cite or refer to the specific data in those studies. You seem to assume that they say such and such without citing what they say, specifically

          No, I’m responding to what other people say they say.

          They are pointing me at this Harvard page and telling me that this shows that gun control makes people safer. That’s not what those studies say.

          At any rate, look at the Sanford paper that claims that guns do caus higher homicide rates I cited elsewhere on this thread.

          I will. Have you read it? Do you understand the methodology in the paper, and do you see weaknesses to it? I’m asking ahead of time because people keep throwing citations at me claiming it says “foo”, and when I say it says “bar”, or it says “foo, but”, I’m finding out that the person providing the citation either hasn’t read the paper or doesn’t understand the limitations. I’m not saying this is the case, here. I just would prefer to save one trip around the maypole if it is.

          I’m sorry but this is woefully wrong. Reducing access to some means of committing suicide reduces suicide rates (see GG Bridge controversy)

          The Golden Gate Bridge controversy?

          You mean this one?

          I’ll reference Wikipedia, if I may:

          Various methods have been proposed and implemented to reduce the number of suicides. The bridge is fitted with suicide hotline telephones, and staff patrol the bridge in carts, looking for people who appear to be planning to jump. Ironworkers on the bridge also volunteer their time to prevent suicides by talking to or wrestling down suicidal people.[77] The bridge is now closed to pedestrians at night. Cyclists are still permitted across at night, but can buzz themselves in and out through the remotely controlled security gates.[78] Attempts to introduce a suicide barrier have been thwarted by engineering difficulties, high costs, and public opposition.[79] One recurring proposal had been to build a barrier to replace or augment the low railing, a component of the bridge’s original architectural design. New barriers have eliminated suicides at other landmarks around the world, but were opposed for the Golden Gate Bridge for reasons of cost, aesthetics, and safety, as the load from a poorly designed barrier could significantly affect the bridge’s structural integrity during a strong windstorm.

          Strong appeals for a suicide barrier, fence, or other preventive measures were raised once again by a well-organized vocal minority of psychiatry professionals, suicide barrier consultants, and families of jumpers beginning in January 2005. These efforts were given momentum by two films dealing with the topic of suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge. On January 14, 2005 the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed by writer-director Jenni Olson calling for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. The letter was, in part, an excerpt from the script of her film The Joy of Life, which world-premiered the following week, on January 20, 2005, at the Sundance Film Festival. The day before, on January 19, 2005, the Chronicle broke the news that filmmaker Eric Steel had been shooting suicide leaps from the bridge during the calendar year of 2004 for his film The Bridge, which would be released in 2006. A week later, The Joy of Life world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and video copies of the film were circulated to members of the Bridge District board of directors with the help of the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California.

          It seems like it’s at least possible that installing a suicide barrier is logistically difficult. 98% of the people who jump off the bridge die. People have been known to travel to SF just to jump off of the bridge; this isn’t an impulse suicide decision.

          What leads you to believe that installing a suicide prevention barrier at the Golden Gate bridge will lead to a decrease in suicides, as opposed to people traveling to any one of a number of other locations in San Francisco to jump off some other high object? It seems likely that the people who jump off the bridge are powerfully motivated.

          Not sure I get this. IMO, penalties for gin violations should be financial, or maybe community service in most cases, no criminal record or jail time.

          Given that most gun violations are currently felonies, with jail time, you realize that this proposal represents what many would call a reduction in gun control? I bet you’d get a lot of buy-in from pro-gun people on this. Maybe we should talk about that some more.

          All this talk about overall violence as opposed to homicide specifically seems like a red herring.

          This presupposes that you have good reason to think that removing guns won’t have a corresponding increase in other crime.

          Now, I grant that jury is way out on that one, and I haven’t read your citation yet, so I have no opinion on it, but you realize that not everybody in public health social science believes this, right?Report

          • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            Okay, this will be my last post until tomorrow. There are so many points, it is exhausting (though engaging) to discuss it all.

            The Cook and Ludwig paper estimates, conservatively, that “every 10,000 gun owning households increases the homicide rate by 1 per year.” (Even in the abstract, they are clear that this link is causal.) According to this (http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/265923/look-fine-print-guns-households-statistics#) there are abut 33-41 million gun owning households in the U.S. So, some simple math yields that we should expect to reduce homicides (never mind suicides or accidents) by about 3000 per year (a 9/11 every year) if we could reduce gun ownership to a mere, paltry 3 million homes.

            The Cook-Ludwig arguments rule out the possibility of reverse causation and a number of other plausible confounding factors. (Could they have missed a black swan? Sure, but so could the theory of evolution or anthropogenic climate change. Black swans are always possible. We’ll never have an argument about what causes gun related homicides that rules out all doubt.)

            I’m no expert on the technical details. If you think you can show that they have made a mistake in their methods, write a paper and get it published. If you are right about methodology and they are wrong, you have a publication, which is great if you are a Master’s student.

            As far as I can tell, their methods are sound.

            “What leads you to believe that installing a suicide prevention barrier at the Golden Gate bridge will lead to a decrease in suicides, as opposed to people traveling to any one of a number of other locations in San Francisco to jump off some other high object? It seems likely that the people who jump off the bridge are powerfully motivated.”

            Uh, let me just say that I think you are way, way, way off here. Most suicides are acts of pure impulsiveness. 90% of people who have failed suicide attempts never attempt it again and many see their previous attempt as deeply irrational and unwise.

            There is a lot of great evidence and citations here:

            http://www.stopthetragedy.org/Lifelinepositiononbridgebarriers.pdf?attredirects=0

            “The Lifeline Steering Committee position is that the use of bridge barriers is the most effective means of bridge suicide prevention. Subsequently, as bridge/transportation authorities or other stakeholders approach the Lifeline with requests for implementing bridge phones, the Lifeline should emphasize the need for barriers as the most effective solution.”Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot3
              Ignored
              says:

              Right now I gotta be honest, I don’t really feel like we’re having a conversation, because you’re not answering all my questions. I feel kind of like you’re raising issues, and then when I respond, you raise a different one.

              The Cook-Ludwig arguments rule out the possibility of reverse causation and a number of other plausible confounding factors.

              No, that’s not what they do. They use the regression to attempt to correct for reverse causation. That’s not “ruling out”, that’s “decreasing the likelihood”. Just clarifying.

              I’m no expert on the technical details.

              (sigh). Shazbot, if you’re not aware of the technical details, then can you stick to the findings in the paper, at least, instead of interpreting them?

              Can you respond to this question, I offered up thread?

              Also, from the concluding paragraph (yes, I skipped ahead for the money) does mention that the authors believe that the correlation between gun ownership and crime is largely a factor of acquisition of otherwise legal firearms by prohibited individuals.

              If you agree with the findings in the paper, in general, do you agree with this conclusion?

              If that’s the case, then barriers to make it more difficult for unauthorized people to acquire guns from legitimate gun owners (storage requirements to prevent theft, transfer-of-ownership, etc) can probably be shown (to some degree, using a similar methodology of the overall paper) to be effective or not at preventing this transfer.

              Given that’s all the case, then, would you support storage requirements as assuaging your argument against gun ownership?

              Uh, let me just say that I think you are way, way, way off here. Most suicides are acts of pure impulsiveness. 90% of people who have failed suicide attempts never attempt it again and many see their previous attempt as deeply irrational and unwise.

              But… the… yes, most suicides are are impulse suicides.

              But the Golden Gate Bridge is clearly a massive outlier, it’s the single most popular jumping point in the world, as far as I know. That means that it’s not a good candidate for analysis based on “most” suicides. The suicides off the bridge are going to be self-selected, and very likely to be a minority of overall suicides by several identifiable factors.

              You see?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Okay back again:

                The argument from Cook and Ludwig appears as a peer-reviewed journal publication here (at the Journal of Public Economics) and elsewhere (he has books where it appear). (See here for Cook’s publications: http://fds.duke.edu/db/Sanford/faculty/cook/publications

                http://home.uchicago.edu/~ludwigj/papers/JPubE_guns_2006FINAL.pdf

                I don’t see that you are more expert than me to interpret these findings. If so, and if you find the argument to be flawed, please explain it to me. Don’t just cite authority. (I mean, I get that you are in a Masters program in the social sciences -though not in this field- and you have taken courses in statistics, but I do have a PhD and should be able to follow your critiques as long as you explain them. If you find a technical problem, we can email Cook to see how he will answer. If it is a serious problem, he will likely be very engaged, as I have found when you engage academics about their work.)

                In the paper, the authors conclude this:

                “In sum, gun prevalence is positively associated with overall homicide rates but not systematically related to assault or other types of crime. Together, these results suggest that an increase in gun prevalence causes an intensification of criminal violence—a shift toward greater lethality, and hence greater harm to the community.

                That isn’t me interpreting. That is clear cut quoting.

                They do argue that a big part of the problem is likely that guns seep out to criminals who use them for homicides.

                And yes, to answer your question, I am very much a believer that we should try to use mandatory GPS chips and a requirement that gun owners prove to police that their guns are safely stored as a first attempt at gun control. I am unsure that this will work, and if it doesn’t we will have to try to dry up the gun supply instead of trying to lock it down. But giving the police the ability to track every weapon requires a gun registry of some sort or another pretty much by definition, and it would require strict regulations on what is a legal sale.

                I’ll try to get to more of our debate later.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                They do argue that a big part of the problem is likely that guns seep out to criminals who use them for homicides.

                Right. That plus this:

                “In sum, gun prevalence is positively associated with overall homicide rates but not systematically related to assault or other types of crime. Together, these results suggest that an increase in gun prevalence causes an intensification of criminal violence—a shift toward greater lethality, and hence greater harm to the community.”

                Means that the author believes that it’s not the prevalence of guns that is the root cause. It’s that the prevalence of legal guns, combined with the seepage towards illicit use, enables criminals who normally would employ different weaponry to use guns.

                So the problem, according to the author, is not the number of guns, per se, it’s the inability to keep a sufficient percentage of them out of illicit hands.

                I don’t find much to argue with, there.

                I don’t understand why you think you need to move straight to a GPS tracking system for guns. There’s a federal law mandating guns be sold with a trigger lock device, but not all states have gun safe storage requirements (California does).

                Isn’t mandating safe storage a reasonable first step?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                “the problem, according to the author, is not the number of guns, per se, it’s the inability to keep a sufficient percentage of them out of illicit hands.”

                I think the paper is making two separate claims.

                1. Though the exact “mechanism of action” (to borrow a medical term) is unclear, there is clearly a causal connection between more guns (especially hand guns) and more homicide. (This is how they view Table 3)

                2. There is some data that “is suggestive” (much weaker claim) that amongst people 15-19 years of age, the transmission of guns to illicit (read gangs) is the most common mechanism of action that explains how more guns cause more homicides.

                I think we’ll find that trigger locks will only make a small difference. In order to make a difference with 2., we need to make it hard for gang members to get guns. Trigger locks won’t do trick. The police will need to be able to track weapons reliably. That will require something stronger than

                Moreover, I’m skeptical that we can keep guns out of the hands of criminals or people fated to blow up in a homicidal fit of anger or fear, without very strong measures that the anti-gun-control crowd will not allow.

                But yes, mandating that owners regularly prove safe ownership is a great first step. (Maybe it will work great. Who knows. We have to test more measures, based on our best research -like Cook’s paper- to see what does work.)

                However, the devil is in the details. If we pass a law saying all gun owners have to lock their guns up in a certain way, but their is no way for police to check whether people are doing so, well that is just pooping in the wind.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                The suicides off the bridge are going to be self-selected, and very likely to be a minority of overall suicides by several identifiable factors.

                Bridges in general are effective, easy, and attractive means for suicide amongst impulsive suicide attempts.

                This guy (who I have met) says that his jump of the GG was impulse that he regretted immediately. http://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/change-agents/survivor-bridge-jump-advocates-mental/

                Okay, that is anecdata. But this is data (linked from the same article)

                And there are those who say if we build a net, people will simply go somewhere else. But a 1978 study [PDF] by Richard Seiden of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health doesn’t support that argument.Seiden followed up on more than 500 people who were removed from the Golden Gate Bridge before they could jump. His study showed that for an average of 26 years after their suicide attempts, 94 percent of his subjects were still alive or had died of natural causes. Including Hines, 30 people are known to have survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge. Of those, three are known to have subsequently committed suicide.”

                That fits with the general rule of thumb in other kinds of suicides that 90% of people who fail a suicide attempt never reattempt. Discouraging the attempt by making it a bit harder or less attractive (i.e. “means reduction”) saves lives, including in the GG bridge case. (The psych community in SF is pretty clear on this, too.)Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                woops: that first paragraph should be in quotation marks.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                No, no, you’re not getting it.

                Since the Golden Gate is a statistical outlier, we can assume that it’s likely that there are characteristics that make it unlike other suicide jumping locations.

                While most suicide attempts may be spur of the moment, there are certainly some that have a greater degree of planning. A plausible theory that fits the data is that people who are really invested in jumping off of a bridge choose the Golden Gate, due to cultural significance. They go to it with the express intention of jumping off.

                These aren’t impulse jumpers. A barrier would maybe discourage one, or two, and then one will jump anyway, and that will hit the news. And in a couple of days, it will be pretty common knowledge that the Golden Gate is now harder to jump off.

                What makes you think that this pre-selected group of highly invested suicidal people aren’t going to decide to start jumping off of Coit Tower, instead?

                What you’re missing here is that you seem to think that applying an Intervention to a situation isn’t going to change the behavior of the targets of your intervention in any way other than the way you want it to.

                I expect that in this particular case (not jumpers generally, not bridge jumpers, generally) is not going to get you the results you think you want.

                You’re still going to have roughly the same number of suicides that you had before, just different venues or means.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                But I cited papers that gave evidence of 2 claims:

                1. Putting nets below bridges in general reduces suicides overall by reducing access to an attractive, successful “means of suicide. Means reduction works to make impulsive suicides less likely in general.

                2. There is evidence that the GG bridge is not special, nor an outlier, in that most of the people who commit suicide there are doing it out of impulse just like any other bridge.

                Really, I feel like you are taking skepticism beyond reasonable bounds. I am citing and quoting from peer-reviewed research on suicide (and gun control elsewhere) some of which is specifically about the GG bridge, and you are searching to come up with anything that might possibly show that there is some possible black swan that could show all of the research is wrong (e.g. the GG bridge might be different because it is the most popular suicide spot).

                It is good to play devil’s advocate, but you are going over board. (NB: You can always be skeptical about scientific research on any empirical question: vaccines, trutherism, global warming denialism.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                Let me put it to you this way; I look at a post like Rose’s on the front page, and she’s citing research, and explicitly mentioning the limitations of the research, and then mentioning research that addresses the limitations. Here you’re citing research, but you’re not talking about the limitations of the research.

                That doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It just raises a flag in my reading that you’re not attempting to falsify your premise. You’ve sought out confirmatory research, but not stuff that might refute what you’re saying.

                There’s 128 papers including “suicide” “golden gate” in JSTOR. Here’s one:

                Abstract(back to top)

                Marin County of California has the highest incidence of suicide in the nation. These high statistics are generally attributed to the Golden Gate Bridge and San Quentin State Prison. Both locations bring additional suicides to the county since people come from other areas to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge, and prisoners from all over California who are sentenced to death reside in San Quentin. In this study, we did a detailed analysis of the Marin County suicide statistics and determined the impact of the Golden Gate Bridge. Death statistics from Marin County (Holmes, 2005) were analyzed according to manner of death. The suicide categories were further subdivided into method of suicide, age of suicide victims, and gender of suicide victims. Special emphasis was placed on the Golden Gate Bridge as a method of suicide and this study also attempts to map the pattern of residency of the bridge jumpers. Our analysis was focused on data from more recent years (1990 through 2005) and our results show that while self-inflicted gunshot wounds are the leading method of suicide nationally, Golden Gate Bridge jumpers are the leading method of suicide in Marin County.
                Bibliographic Information(back to top)

                Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics
                Jenna Fussell and Maggie C. Louie
                Bios
                Vol. 79, No. 4 (Dec., 2008) (pp. 171-178)
                Page Count: 8

                In it, the authors analyze several years of suicide patterns and find that there are several years where the majority of the GG suicide jumps are not residents of the county. These are people that are traveling a long way to commit suicide.

                That doesn’t seem like a quick impulse.

                Sure, there are plenty of impulse jumpers, I’m not disputing that.

                That doesn’t mean your argument is wrong, or that the research you’re mentioning is faulty. I’m skeptical not because of what you’re saying, but because of the presentation. I’m bringing up objections because I’m wondering if you’ve researched them.

                That’s how you have to work in this problem space. Social science requires a higher burden of falsification than epidemiology, which requires a higher burden than physics. The questions you’re asking have a lot of possible contributory factors. Just because something is peer-reviewed and passed doesn’t mean it’s authoritatively answering a question. The measurements aren’t that precise.

                Here, Ben Goldacre explains it better than I do, he’s talking about epidemiology not social science but the principle is the same:

                http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.htmlReport

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                On suicide specifically, there is a wide and deep consensus amogst researchers that there is a very inductively strong argument that means reduction saves lives. (Just like there is a strong consensus about anthropgenic global warming occuring.)

                Here is a literature review -not just a single paper, but a review of all the relevant work- at the NIH website (not paywalled):

                “Background: Restricting access to common means of suicide, such as firearms, toxic gas, pesticides and other, has been shown to be effective in reducing rates of death in suicide. In the present review we aimed to summarize the empirical and clinical literature on controlling the access to means of suicide. Methods: This review made use of both MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science and the Cochrane library databases, identifying all English articles with the keywords “suicide means”, “suicide method”, “suicide prediction” or “suicide prevention” and other relevant keywords. Results: A number of factors may influence an individual’s decision regarding method in a suicide act, but there is substantial support that easy access influences the choice of method. In many countries, restrictions of access to common means of suicide has lead to lower overall suicide rates, particularly regarding suicide by firearms in USA, detoxification of domestic and motor vehicle gas in England and other countries, toxic pesticides in rural areas, barriers at jumping sites and hanging, by introducing “safe rooms” in prisons and hospitals. Moreover, decline in prescription of barbiturates and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), as well as limitation of drugs pack size for paracetamol and salicylate has reduced suicides by overdose, while increased prescription of SSRIs seems to have lowered suicidal rates. Conclusions: Restriction to means of suicide may be particularly effective in contexts where the method is popular, highly lethal, widely available, and/or not easily substituted by other similar methods. However, since there is some risk of means substitution, restriction of access should be implemented in conjunction with other suicide prevention strategies.”

                That last part that I put in bold sure sounds like the GG bridge: popular, highly lethal, and widely available. (I know you’ll focus on substitutable, but they specifically say bridge barriers and nets work to prevent suicides.)

                Here is a worry. Suppose I said that the research above only shows that we can reduce suicide by reducing access to non-red bridges, but the GG bridge is red, so we don’t really know if reducing access to it as a means of suicide (barriers, nets, etc) will work the same because it is red. (I mean, the GG bridge is an outlier in its redness.) It is possible that the redness of the bridge makes it a special case. Is my statement reasonable? Why or why not?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                Woops, I mean to put the passage about “highly lethatl” in bold. Sorry.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                Shaz:

                Can I ask what your PhD is in? You don’t talk like someone who has stunk up their brain with a lot of Bayesian probability or population statistics. James K does, Hanley… Mark Thompson too (I wonder what he was before he was a lawyer). The good Doctor, of course, was undoubtedly subjected as part of his medical program. Nob, of course.

                Lots of the commentors on the blog are plenty smart and all, that’s not the point. It’s not about smarts, it’s about a methodology. I’m not saying you can’t get it, I just feel like I’m talking a different language here.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                I will not tell you what my PhD is in for a zillion reasons. (I like my anonymity.)

                I took courses in statistics and understand the basics of Bayesianism (even wrote grad papers about calculating prior probabilities). But I am too lazy and too stupid and too unfamiliar to really dig into the details of the Cook paper.

                If you find a problem with their methodology, we’ll email Cook to see if we have the technical details right.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Shazbot3
      Ignored
      says:

      Citing argentina, back when it’s government basically stopped functioning. That’s “uniquely violent”, in that if you weren’t armed, you were basically a victim.

      Russia’s bad too.

      Saudi Arabia has 50% of the men in the country owning ak-47s. That would have made a fun capstone to the Arab Spring…Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        “a fun capstone to the Arab Spring…”

        Fun?

        Geez, I don’t mind the crazy things you say, but your overly flippant treatment of serious things like the Arab Spring (where men, women, and children died) is a bridge too far for me.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Let me lay out a few arguments that I don’t find compelling in the gun debate. This is not an exhaustive list.

    Non-rectangular state flags.Report

  6. Avatar Dan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t quite understand your arguments against a gun registry. Could it provide criminals a list of whom to rob? Well, yes, but in the same way that a car registry provides a target list to folks who prefer grand theft auto. This seems like a pretty thin objection.

    The second point, about confiscation, also seems weird to me. Certain types of guns will come into or out of legality, yes (much like machine guns did decades ago). I frankly don’t get why it’s problematic to maintain a registry of these now-illegal guns, and to buy them back with eminent domain if they are banned. If there’s a problem with this, it would come from the ban itself–that is, some guns would be banned which should not be–but that’s a problem with the ban, not the registry. As long as you accept the argument that certain types of guns should be banned, and I think we can all agree that things like rocket launchers etc should be, I don’t see the argument against enforcing those bans.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Dan Miller
      Ignored
      says:

      The registry makes the ban more feasible. That’s the problem with a registry. It’s a great intermediate step between legal and confiscated. If you don’t trust people not to try to ban guns in the future, it’s not a good idea to hand them a registry now.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        However some sort of registry and/or tracking of who buys guns is great way to track and limit straw purchases. Finding a squeaky clean person to buy a gun for a felon or gang bangers, from what i’ve read, seems to be one of the biggest ways of getting around background checks.Report

        • Avatar Trumwill Mobile in reply to greginak
          Ignored
          says:

          Sure. There can be an upside. For now, just pointing out the cost. I think in the abstract, a registry could be a great (if not cost free) idea. The trust isn’t there, though. At least for meReport

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Trumwill Mobile
            Ignored
            says:

            Okay. At some point the answer to any kind of new/better/different/improved gun law is “it will lead to confiscation.” Seems like it makes the entire conversation pointless.

            FWIW, not that you are responsible for providing this, but i’d love to hear some suggestions about limiting straw buying of guns.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
              Ignored
              says:

              Greg, can you at least appreciate why registration represents a more specific threat/tool for future action than, say, an assault weapons ban? The latter is a dumber idea, in my view, but is only a move in the most general slippery sense while registration is actually a tool that makes confiscation more effective.

              By way of example, I recently read an article on dKos on “how to ban guns”… want to guess what the first step was? I’m not suggesting a universal ban as the main goal behind a registry – indeed the author got a lot of pushback on the premise – but if I was wanting to ban something, registering really is the first thing I would do.

              I actually touch on this on one of my two possible contributions to the symposium. If I don’t post it, I’ll email it to you. But my concerns about the national registry don’t carry over nearly as much to other kinds of regulations (like waiting periods or magazine size limitations).

              As far as straw buying goes, I am not sure what I would support. I’m not blanket-opposed to looking more closely at how guns are bought and sold. I’d need to know more about specific proposals and the pros and cons thereof. Just skittish on a national database.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m conflicted on answering your question. On one hand i can see how a registry could lead to a ban. However i don’t think a ban is even remotely likely. I don’t any action will be taken this regarding any new gun law due to Newtown. That the only ideas floated, AWB and mag restrictions, are mostly stupid doesn’t help. I don’t see gun laws getting tighter in any appreciable way. I know i’ve said this before but we got the 2ndA + Heller, we have a population that loves guns, we are a pretty darn free country, etc. So theoretically i can see the fear in a registry but i don’t see it as a realistic fear. But, importantly i have to admit, most fears aren’t realistic.

                I’d love to read your post if you dont post it.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                I think an outright ban on all guns is vanishingly unlikely. Bans of certain types of guns, on the other hand, is not hypothetical (nor is the concern that registries will be used for compliance).Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                If there were registries they should be only accessed by warrant.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s a reasonable safety precaution, but it’s hard to imagine how it would work in practice without the warrant requirement becoming a warrant exception and then disappearing post-haste.

                MRS’s idea of maintaining records is a good compromise.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        So? I mean that seriously: SO?

        Slippery slope arguments, in general, leave me cold. Especially legislatively.

        Is a gun registery a good or bad idea, on it’s own? Full stop. If Yes, enact it. If No, then don’t. If Yes and No, identify both Yes parts and No parts and try to amend the proposed law to eliminate the No parts.

        Yes, theoretically a gun registry could be used if the government decides to seize your guns. So can the fact that the government knows where you live, via your IRS filings. Should the IRS stop requiring your address, in case the government decides — in the future — it wants to come and take all your stuff?

        It is stupid to oppose a law based on some future, hypothetical OTHER law (which would have to be passed entirely on it’s own) that might, in some way, use this CURRENT proposed law.

        If the government wants to take your freakin’ guns, it will do so. The non-existance of a registry might make it have to work harder, but it will still get your guns.

        The government knows where you live. It knows how much you make. It knows your phone number, it can tap your phones, it can throw you in jail. Of all the things the government knows about you, of all the things it can DO to you, why is “But it doesn’t have a definitive list of the guns I own” even vaguely an issue?

        Do you think you think not knowing about your weapons will, in the end, make any difference whatsoever?Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Morat20
          Ignored
          says:

          Morat:

          These aren’t slippery slopes, is the point. California impounded guns based upon a gun registry. A newspaper in New York published a list of registered gun owners. They happened.

          “Ooh, you’re being paranoid because these things could happen” makes you come off like both an idiot and an asshole to someone who actually cares about their gun rights, because they’re already at the bottom of the slope (note, this is not me, I’m providing a public service here, telling you about how your argument is perceived by the other side).

          If Yes, enact it. If No, then don’t. If Yes and No, identify both Yes parts and No parts and try to amend the proposed law to eliminate the No parts.

          That’s great, and I agree with this approach. Hey, Mad Rocket Scientist even offered some ideas about how you could make a gun registry palatable to the pro-gun crowd. And yes, just because people have tumbled down the slope and been hit in the ass on the bottom is no reason not to try and fix the problems with legislation and try it again.

          That’s not the point.

          The point is that nobody wants to be fooled twice. And when they point at how they got fooled the first time, they don’t see a reasoned, “Well, that’s a fair point, we can address that, here, let’s sit down and talk about it.”

          They see Diane Feinstein try to reinstate the AWB and nobody on the Left offer a gun registry proposal that addresses their concerns, and they see blog posts about how all gun owners are gun nuts and nobody who has a CCW can be anything other than a paranoid maniac and, well, lots of other stuff that couldn’t be designed to destroy trust any more efficiently.

          They should participate in good faith… why? They should respect your stance, why? When they come across the comment thread on this blog on these posts and they see people say that silencers are, like, uber scary and only a teenaged Call of Duty addict with a violence fetish and delusions could possibly want one, and nobody on Team Blue pushes back on that as being, frankly, stupid… why should they even want to engage?

          You have to earn good faith, dude. And at best the Democratic party in the last decade has earned only a suspension of very, very bad faith. And they are on the road right now to undoing that suspension and racking up a whole new stockpile of bad faith.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            *shrug*. I’m not the one with a bunch of lethal weapons I seem ashamed of or afraid of.

            I have no problems registering my gun with the state or feds. None at all. I find it hilarious and kinda sad that you do.

            It’s a gun. It’s designed to kill things. It’s not a toy. Why shouldn’t I have to register it?

            As for Democrats not showing good faith: There wasnt’ a single national gun control bill in two decades, and the AWB expired without a whimper. The total lack of ANY action on gun control did not stop the “Obama is coming to take your guns” hysteria from launching the minute he won the election.

            There is absolutely nothing a Democrat can do to demonstrate good faith to you. So what’s the point? You’re opposing sensible legislation entirely based on how someday, somehow, someone might use it as an example to propose OTHER legislation that you won’t like.

            I have a hard time taking your worries seriously, because I hear them most often from people who told me Obama wanted to take their guns in 2008. And who told me the UN wanted to take them in 1996. (And again in 2008 through 2012). And who also assure me Fast and Furious was a huge, huge, scandal of treasonous proportions designed to — again — take their guns.

            When everything and ANYTHING related to guns becomes “It’ll be used to take our guns!”, well — it becomes pointless to talk to you about the issue.

            I think your guns should be registered. Most of the freakin’ civilized world does that. We don’t, because, well paranoia about the Almighty Freaking Government.

            And funniest of all — the same folks who SWEAR that registration of guns is gonna lead to total and outright confiscation? Often praise Sweden, Norway, Israel and a host of other countries for having ‘sensible gun laws’ which include — you guessed it — not only mandatory registration but a whole host of other laws that would make them hyperventilate in rage.

            Guns are lethal weapons, designed to kill. Of all the things you have to actually register with the government, guns seem the most obvious “Yes, you do” item that civilians are actually allowed to own.

            We track fertilizer purchases and cold medicines. But not guns. Because, well…

            I dunno why, really. But I bet it has something to do with the fact that for my entire life — decades of it — I have heard, over and over, the threat of the government taking guns away. And it never happens. Even in the unholy, blighted, nasty land of California people still own lots and lots and LOTS of guns.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Morat20
              Ignored
              says:

              Morat,

              You’re confusing “you”s, here.

              I’m not your enemy. I’m not even your political opponent. I’m just serving as a mediator, here.

              He doesn’t trust you. I’m telling you why. You telling me why you think he should trust you isn’t going to make him trust you. It’s also not really making me think you’re trying very hard.

              MRS proposed a couple of different ideas about gun registration, including a decentralized tracking method (which seems at least credible to explore) and offering training and/or privileges for registration, which seems a reasonable trade off.

              He’s a gun guy. I’m not a gun guy. You’re telling me that all the gun guys are being unreasonable, he seems pretty reasonable on that score, so you’ve got at least one counter to your claim.

              Why are you arguing with me about how you’re coming across to some gun guys and how it’s totally their fault? Because you’re trying to convince me that you don’t need to address their concerns?

              I kind of think you do, dude. If you want to get anything done.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                “I’m not your enemy. I’m not even your political opponent. I’m just serving as a mediator, here.”

                Well, your views justify the status quo in that you don’t think there is a good reason to change things. That sounds like you are opposed to Morat and lots of pro-gun regulation folks.

                IMO, as a voting citizen, you have a responsibility to take a side either in favor of the status quo or some pro or anti gun control change.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh.

                So now it’s not enough for me not to oppose you, I have to pick a side? And if I’m not for any thing somebody comes up with, I’m against everything?

                I’m having a hard time parsing this comment any other way.Report

              • Avatar M.A. in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                You have to earn good faith, dude.

                followed by the reply…

                As for Democrats not showing good faith: There wasnt’ a single national gun control bill in two decades, and the AWB expired without a whimper. The total lack of ANY action on gun control did not stop the “Obama is coming to take your guns” hysteria from launching the minute he won the election.

                There is absolutely nothing a Democrat can do to demonstrate good faith to you. So what’s the point?

                Patrick, the gun nuts have had all the good faith in the world. They had good faith starting with the Bill of Rights, and every time they had the chance,they have squandered it and shown themselves to be incapable of acting in reason and good faith about guns.

                I turn it back to you: What the hell have the gun nuts ever done in the past 100 years to show us we should give them any good faith back? They certainly don’t seem to have earned it.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to M.A.
                Ignored
                says:

                It all comes to the common maxim of American politics since about 1968. Conservatives can say whatever they want and be treated as a Very Serious Person, but if a liberal raises his voice one bit with an opinion that may be slightly to the left of the population, he’s ruining the sober conversation. And thus, the Overton Window shifts ever rightward.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Given that I’m such a cheerleader for the right, this is certainly a timely and accurate comment that will further the deliberations.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to M.A.
                Ignored
                says:

                They had good faith starting with the Bill of Rights, and every time they had the chance,they have squandered it and shown themselves to be incapable of acting in reason and good faith about guns.

                This sounds quite a bit like really bad revisionist history to me. The NRA was a pro-gun control organization up until the Assault Weapons Ban.

                They supported the 1934 National Firearms Act. They supported the 1968 Gun Control Act.

                They opposed the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban on the grounds that it was bad law. Honestly, I’ll give you credit to the extent that they’ve gone further and further off the deep end since 1995.

                However, the AWB was bad law.

                Maybe if people on the Left just fessed up to that, instead of doubling down on it, you’d be giving them far less incentive to continue to go off the deep end. They’ve already lost guys like Mike, who is pro-gun, because he sees them as going off the deep end, too.

                I really think the use of “gun nut” is not helping your case any, because without a definition an uncharitable read of your comment would be that you equate any anti-gun-control person as a gun nut. Whether you intend it or not, you’re excluding an awful lot of middle.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Admitting the AWB was bad law & did nothing really would go a long way, but every time something happens, the damn thing rears it’s head again. To be perfectly honest, you would be very well served to let that one go, specifically because the NRA & other groups use the AWB, & the threat of another AWB, to rouse hunters to their cause. They do this specifically because the AWB, and it’s variants are all so ignorantly written that hunters get nervous that their firearms will be in danger.

                I mean, seriously, cranking down on handguns, absent any hint of an AWB, would be a lot more likely, because the hunters would not, for the most part, care. I doubt you could ever hope to ban handguns, but you could get away with restrictions, requirements, etc..

                I don’t think those on the gun control side truly understand how utterly offensive the AWB & it’s ilk was/is to the vast majority of gun owners. It was a big fat slap in the face that said, “Our hysteria trumps your constitutional rights!” (much the same way that people are constantly pissed about terrorist fears meaning the FBI, the TSA, etc. get to make your life uncomfortable, and if you have nothing to hide, why do you care?). The fact that it is the rally cry every single time something happens just continues to drive home the opinion that gun control proponents are not serious about actually constructing policy that will do something constructive.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
                Ignored
                says:

                The AWB was and is stupid.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
                Ignored
                says:

                greginak

                I truly appreciate you saying that. Now be sure to tell your congressperson that as well.Report

              • Avatar Citizen in reply to M.A.
                Ignored
                says:

                M.A.
                There is a ambient pressure that gun nuts provide. Good faith, bad faith with or without the 2nd. Try to imagine 100 years without that pressure. What is required to earn a right?

                Consent of the governed loses teeth fast.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Morat20
          Ignored
          says:

          I will try to write more about slippery slope more generally at a later date. The shorter version is that there is nothing wrong with looking at how a law passed now could be abused at a later date (either in execution or as in this case the future enactment of another law). It depends on the likelihood of future abuse, the severity that abuse is likely to take, and what is gained in passage of current law.

          In any event, even if the potential costs of legislation seem insignificant to you, the main point here is that they do exist.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Morat20
          Ignored
          says:

          Gun registry – NO. Possible exception – register any gun I intend to carry ready in public (i.e. I would register my carry piece or my hunting rifle, but any guns I own solely for home defense or recreational purposes are none of the governments business unless they are stolen).

          Gun user registry – in many ways already in place (hunting licenses & carry permits).

          Remember, criminals WILL NOT register their guns or themselves, so the only people who will be on the registry are people who want to be law-abiding, and therefore are the people you need to worry the least about. So, then, what is the point of the registry?Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
            Ignored
            says:

            Catching the gunrunners, of course. The people who buy guns legally and sell them to felons. They’re legal, perhaps the sale is technically legal (as most private sales aren’t required to background check). But the gunrunners know what they’re doing.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
            Ignored
            says:

            You point out on your own thread a distributed registry mechanism.

            Each person is required to keep track of the gun as it passes through their possession, if they buy and sell it.

            This is eminently reasonable. The guns are then trackable when needed. Distributed systems like this work well in lots of problem spaces (see PGP vs. the CA setup for SSL), as it reduces the monolithic nature of the tracking authority but keeps audit possible.

            I also agree with the subsidized background check. Absolutely.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick Cahalan
              Ignored
              says:

              Patrick, I don’t see distributed registry working, as the timeframes involved are too long (guns don’t expire in 30 seconds like a call) to reasonably expect the audit trails to remain intact.

              All it takes is one user to die, or move with no forwarding address, or lose his documentation saying who he got it from or sold it to, and the trail breaks.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                Let the gun manufacturers keep ’em. And shut down the whole manufactury if they break ’em.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                You can make this part of the executor duties. If a gun owner dies, their records get submitted to a registry.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                This presumes that the records can be found; you can’t ask the dead guy where he kept the records if they are not found among his effects. So the trail backwards is going to get broken with some frequency.

                And even assuming this mostly works; many personal defense single guns (not those for hobbyists or collectors) are never sold, but are kept for life, right?

                So eventually, won’t most every gun like this end up in a more centralized central registry (which is what some people fear)?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                Whelp, the advantage of the decentralized registry is that you’re not going to lose the whole thing at once, either. I know, I know… that will never happen.

                I can think of a few workarounds that would suffice to plug most of the gaps.

                Yes, eventually you’d wind up with all the guns in the registry, most likely. Probably by then gun owners will be convinced that it’s not going to be used to take away their guns. Would you rather have it in 10 years with everybody on board or continue butting heads over getting nothing done in the meantime?Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                Trail is pretty broken as it is. I was trying to propose a way to get gun owners to willingly buy into the process & maintain it.Report

          • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
            Ignored
            says:

            Are the guns you have at home the governments business if you have children? What if you don’t store your guns properly and you have children?Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    Wow. Space awesome job of looking at the whole picture and piercing right on through the irrelevancies.

    I mean, wow. I’m in awe.Report

  8. Avatar Roger
    Ignored
    says:

    This is an absolutely amazing summary of the issue. Early candidate for best League post of 2013.

    Thanks Patrick.Report

  9. Avatar Russell Saunders
    Ignored
    says:

    Bravo for a well-reasoned and comprehensive post.

    As I noted in my own wee contribution, I neither know what could have been done to prevent the crime I experienced, or even if trying to take steps to do so would be justified on balance.Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick, would an outright confiscatory ban reduce gun related violence? (I hope the answer to that is “yes”).

    Would an outright confiscatory ban reduce violence? Seems to me that answer to that is yes as well. you’ve made some gestures in various comments that I’m too lazy to track down right now to the effect that the causal linkage between guns and violence can’t be sustained. Something to the effect that “intent to kill” is the sufficient condition for murder and guns aren’t necessary to accomplish that end. If that’s the case, then I think we’re imposing too high a standard of evidence for establishing a causal link. In fact, it’s an impossible link to establish since on this analysis of causation the weapon used is irrelevant.

    Likewise, Mike Dwyer has made arguments that statistical correlations between per capita gun ownership don’t correlate with per capita gun violence statistics, so a fortiori, there can be no causal link. His conclusion is that we don’t have a gun problem in the US, but rather a crime problem. And again, the conclusion is that the weapon-of-use is irrelevant to the causal analysis, while the intent to commit crime is.

    I think what these types of arguments show, if anything, is that what constitutes a cause is subject to varied interpretations. If a person starts with the premise that guns aren’t part of the causal conditions that give rise to violent acts, especially murder, then they will necessarily conclude that measures to restrict guns access or limit gun availability will fail to cause those policy’s intended outcomes. So … there’s some circularity here.

    On the other hand, is it crazy to think that a complete confiscatory ban on all guns would actually lead to lower crime rates, in particular murders? If we consider the data you provide comparing England/Wales and the US, then it seems like the answer would be clearly in the affirmative. (Unless we’ve taken the weapon used for crime out of the equation, or say reject the data as not being finegrained enough). So again, it seems to me that denying the conclusion that a complete confiscatory ban would lower murder rates begs the question of either what constitutes a cause of murders and/or what types of policies would cause the intended outcome.

    Now, I don’t advocate a complete confiscatory ban on all guns in the US. But given that “Handguns comprised 70.5 percent of all firearms used in murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in 2009”, the argument that access to only other weapons would have resulted in those same numbers strikes me as either question begging or completely lacking evidence.

    I say all this to refocus the debate somewhat. I think the efficacy of limiting murder rates by restricting access to guns is probably pretty well agreed upon. So those policies causal efficacy isn’t really subject to dispute, it seems to me. What’s at issue is finding a balance between a) preserving US citizen’s rights to own firearms, b) finding a solution that’s both practical as well as consistent with other rights, and c) the possibility of enacting that policy. But that’s a different debate than the one you’re focusing on here.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      to muddy the waters a bit: what if criminals have the same access to handguns as they do now? Can we really say we’d have reduced murder much?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      Would an outright confiscatory ban reduce violence? Seems to me that answer to that is yes as well.

      I assume that your starting point would be “the day after confiscation has concluded”, no?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      Patrick, would an outright confiscatory ban reduce gun related violence? (I hope the answer to that is “yes”).

      In the long run, sure. In the short run, probably not. There are also a number of huge consequences to an outright confiscatory ban. You’re probably making felons of a lot of people. This is not an insubstantial cost of your proposed policy.

      Would an outright confiscatory ban reduce violence?

      There is very little evidence to support this, and more than some evidence to support a negative correlation.

      Seems to me that answer to that is yes as well.

      I honestly don’t believe how anyone can believe this, based upon current evidence. Why do you believe this?

      You’ve made some gestures in various comments that I’m too lazy to track down right now to the effect that the causal linkage between guns and violence can’t be sustained. Something to the effect that “intent to kill” is the sufficient condition for murder and guns aren’t necessary to accomplish that end. If that’s the case, then I think we’re imposing too high a standard of evidence for establishing a causal link. In fact, it’s an impossible link to establish since on this analysis of causation the weapon used is irrelevant.

      I think you’re going to have to clean that paragraph up and explain it to me again, because my first reading dumbfounds me.

      If you’re going to establish a *possible* causal link, you need a few things in social science. You need a proposed, theoretical mechanism that isn’t confounded by stuff we already know or highly suspect to be true. You need a well established correlation between interventions and outcomes that matches your underlying theory. And you need to have an explanatory model in place that accounts for established negative correlations between interventions and outcomes that can be incorporated into your underlying theory. Optimally, all things being equal, it should also be parsimonious.

      So let’s take this and break it down.

      You have a theory that guns – the mere presence of them – causes a measurable increase in violent crime in a society. On the face of it, that’s a reasonably plausible theory, let’s call this P1. There’s some psych literature that shows short-term increases in violence when children play with toys that are models of violence, or consume violent media. However, that same psych literature also shows that this effect is short term. So already you have a problem; if guns do have an effect on societal violence, then you have to have some sort of mechanism by which their presence is constant and persistent enough that the underlying “violence de-inhibitor” operates at a level that actually has an effect. Well, okay, so now you have another theory: that guns in mass media and their depiction thereof provides this… we’ll call this P2. Let’s go measure that. So we take a look at societies that have a lot of violence in their media… are they also more violent? Well, uh, no. In fact, there’s a lot of conflicting information in this space, but overall no. Hm. So is P2 wrong? Or maybe there’s some confounding factor or limitation in our ability to measure P2. Maybe P2 is right and we can’t tell with the measurements we’re taking, right now.

      You should stop at this point, because your theory (P1 + P2) is likely a house of cards. But, hey, for the sake of argument let’s keep going.

      So now you decide that violence in a society is probably linked to the presence of certain types of weapons, even though that’s dodgy, and you decide to confirm that hypothesis by looking at new, different data. After all, even though our underlying theory is dodgy, it’s possible that it’s still correct, or that there is some other theory that covers P2. Maybe P1 is right and P2 is wrong, but there’s another P2′ we haven’t figured out yet that covers that basis. We can look for confirmation of (P1 + P2)… or (P1 + P2′)… even though we’re not sure what P2′ might be just yet. What we need to do then is look at all (ALL) the societies we can, and see if there’s a link between violence, overall, and P1. Hey, if we find some evidence that this is the case… and we find some evidence that P2 is the case, then we get a double win.

      Except we don’t find that. We find that there is no correlation whatsoever between guns and violence, worldwide. Not any correlation. Well, except between “guns” and “gun murders”, but that’s tautological.

      So now you’ve got a real problem. P1 is stretching things, P2 is likely not true on the face of it, and a domain wide search of human societies doesn’t support (P1 + P2).

      If you still want to keep going, you can, sure. Maybe (P1 + P2) is still true… maybe we’re missing something. Maybe there’s a P8 out there somewhere that fills our gaps. Maybe those societies that have guns but less of certain types of violent crime have that P8, and those societies that don’t have guns and have more of that certain type of violent crime don’t.

      But you’re getting complicated here. Parsimony went out the window a long time ago.

      Maybe your theory is still true, but there are so many conditionals and contributing factors that it’s just going to be hard to measure in the wild. Hey, it’s possible.

      In that case, though, your choice is to start making interventions and see what happens. And since you no longer have a scientific basis to say that what you’re doing is likely to produce any particular result, you better be goddamn sure you’re ready to roll it back, if you start getting evidence that you might be wrong.

      If that’s the case, then I think we’re imposing too high a standard of evidence for establishing a causal link.

      I don’t want this to come off preachy, but “people” in general don’t get to decide what the standard is for establishing a causal link. This isn’t up for debate. It’s not up for debate in AGW, and it’s not up for debate in physics, and it’s not up for debate in mathematics, either. The practitioners decide.

      You can say, “Hey, gun bans reduce gun murders and that’s proof enough for me that getting rid of guns gets rid of something I don’t like.” Hey, that’s fine. You can establish your own standards of proof for what you think is or isn’t a good idea. But when a social scientist comes along and says, “Er, your gun proposal is getting rid of gun murders but it’s also quite possibly increasing other sorts of crime, and it’s maybe not even cutting down on other types of murder”, what are you going to say?

      If you’re going to say, “I don’t care, ’cause I don’t like guns”… well, that’s okay, too. But then understand: you don’t have any case to make when you criticize the anti-AGW folk who talk about how science is bunk.

      Because you’re doing it, right there. You’re ignoring evidence because you don’t like the conclusion.

      On the other hand, is it crazy to think that a complete confiscatory ban on all guns would actually lead to lower crime rates, in particular murders? If we consider the data you provide comparing England/Wales and the US, then it seems like the answer would be clearly in the affirmative.

      You misread that. Go read it again. By the numbers, you’re incredibly more likely to assaulted or robbed in England/Wales than you are in the U.S.

      Maybe there’s an explanation for that, sure. But on the face of it, we have to come up with an explanation or we have to accept that it’s possible (indeed, may be likely, the NRA might be right) that banning guns increases overall violent crime.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        You have a theory that guns – the mere presence of them – causes a measurable increase in violent crime in a society.

        No. I have a theory that the complete absence of guns would led to both lower gun related crimes (trivially), as well as lead to lower murder rates. I made some arguments about what constitutes a cause, and various people’s analyses of the term “cause” as its used in gun-related debates (primarily arguing that they’re question-begging), and I offered some statistical evidence that eliminating handguns would lower murder rates in the US based on the notion that if people had to use other weapons to kill, murder rates would go down.

        Then I said what I thought the debate was actually about.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          Can you show that armed muggings cause more deaths than unarmed muggings?
          This is NOT a trivial question. Unarmed muggings are done by GANGS of THUGS.

          And what if we’re exchanging murders for rapes?Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          That’s not what you said, Still.

          You said,

          “Would an outright confiscatory ban reduce violence? Seems to me that answer to that is yes as well.”Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            Yes, that was too loose. In the body of the comment I’m focusing primarily on murder rates since they’re both more objectively measurable across cultures as well as the primary focus of gun control initiatives.

            But the main focus of the comment was to critique some views of what constitutes a cause of in any particular type of crime, and hence, what would constitute a justification for policy proposals effecting those causes. If the view of crime is that the tools used to perpetrate it aren’t part of the analysis of the term “cause”, then policies attempting to restrict or regulate certain available tools will (trivially!, and circularly, I might add) fail to achieve their intended outcome.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              If the view of crime is that the tools used to perpetrate it aren’t part of the analysis of the term “cause”, then policies attempting to restrict or regulate certain available tools will (trivially!, and circularly, I might add) fail to achieve their intended outcome.

              This is something that you need to be careful with, Still.

              Guns are obviously a cause of “gun crime”, sure. But guns are less obviously a cause of “crime”, generally… because they do actually function as a deterrent to crime, as well. The efficacy of the deterrent effect is wayyyy open for debate, sure. But it’s there.

              If you’re thinking about banning guns because you think that crime is bad and thus you think that gun crime is bad and thus you think that guns are bad, the break in the chain can occur if you ban guns and “gun crime” goes down but “crime” goes up.

              If you’re focused too much on the “gun crime” tree, you miss the “crime” forest.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Argh. I give up.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Are you making an argument, Pat, that if guns were banned and gun crime went down, that overall violent crime rates would go up? Because it seems to me that if all you’re saying is that if guns were banned and gun crime went down, that non-gun violent crime would rise to fill the part of “crime” that the reduction in gun crime would otherwise have reduced “crime” (i.e. if non-gun crime had not risen to fill it), so that overall violent crime rates stayed constant, then if a residual outcome of that scenario was less destruction to human life and health was caused by violent crime (because fewer people were getting shot in the course of it, and being involved in a gun crime in which a person is shot on average destroys a human life and health more than being involved in a non-gun violent crime in which a person is cut, stabbed, or beaten – the latter a hypothesis I would want tested, not an assertion), then I guess I think this would be good (only assessing banning guns on the question of effect destruction to human life and health caused by violent crime, ignoring other question about how having guns improves life for people in other ways, whether practically or psychically, and also ignoring any gun rights concerns), even though banning guns didn’t result in a less violent crime.

                If it resulted in more violent crime but less net destruction to human life and health from violent crime, that would obviously be a much less clear picture. But I do think that that would be possible, and that it wouldn’t be completely clear whether we should implement the ban in that scenario (again, just looking at the question from the perspective of what would best reduce destruction caused by violent crime and ignoring political process questions, practical feasibility, utility in the population from owning guns, and gun/gun-property rights).Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                Are you making an argument, Pat, that if guns were banned and gun crime went down, that overall violent crime rates would go up?

                There is some contradictory evidence on this score. It might (it probably won’t).

                If it resulted in more violent crime but less net destruction to human life and health from violent crime, that would obviously be a much less clear picture.

                Basically, that’s what I’m saying.

                We don’t have sufficient predictive power to make a reasonable guess what would happen if we banned guns. Other countries have done it, the results have been mixed.

                So, assuming we attempted it and it didn’t work, or produced contrary outcomes, then the legitimate question that self-defense advocates can ask in advance is, “Hey, hold on a second. Let’s say theoretically that I agreed with you that we could ban all guns for some period of time. I think it’s a bad idea, but I’m willing to go through with it just to prove to you that it won’t work the way you think it will work.

                If we ban it for some period of time, and it doesn’t work, are you going to let it sunset? If you let it sunset, are you going to push for it again, later? Because if you are, why should I let you try your experiment in the first place if you don’t agree to abide by the results?”

                Because there are self-defense advocates, or people who are concerned with violent crime in toto, who are neither pro- nor anti-gun. Like, say, me. I’m one of those guys.

                The anti-gun crowd could get me a lot more on board if they were willing to put down their predictions and measures and then agree to walk away from them if they don’t work.

                But what I’m seeing, right now, with the AWB is that’s not an acceptable outcome. If it doesn’t work, we’re going to try it again anyway. Because (for many of these people), the guns are scary.

                They’re not really concerned with efficacy of public policy, they want to get rid of guns.

                Which, okay, that’s fine. But then you can’t try to recruit me on a “reduction of violent crime” rider.Report

  11. Avatar Mark Thompson
    Ignored
    says:

    Well done, Pat. It’s funny – in my thread, you said my post was the post you wanted to write, but couldn’t. Well, this is the post I wanted to write (and in fact tried to write for a couple of days), but couldn’t. I do have some objections here and there*, but on the whole, well-done.

    *Specifically, I think you give too short shrift to arguments for storage laws – although they certainly would not affect the majority of shootings, whether accidental or intentional, there’s reason to believe they could save at least a couple hundred lives a year, with many of them being children’s lives. There seems to be at least some evidence that they reduce accidental shootings by up to 20-25%, and about 125 children a year die in accidental shootings, with the vast majority of those presumably being caused by unsafe storage. In addition, abiding by storage requirements almost certainly acts as a deterrent to “heat of passion” shootings, whether of the suicidal or homicidal variety. I also suspect that they at least marginally reduce gun thefts.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s a fair point; I’ve discussed storage laws on other threads and it muddled me talking about it here. Re-reading both the post and the comments I come across as negative on storage requirements, and I’m not.

      There’s little to no reason not to mandate reasonable storage – the particulars are debatable, in execution (see, MRS’s comment about training and exceptions), but home invasions are so incredibly rare, and momentary loss of reason is so relatively common in comparison that I don’t think “you need 20 seconds to get to your firearm” is an unreasonable demand for society to put on gun owners.

      But I don’t think it will change much in the grand scheme of things. “Joey got Uncle Dan’s revolver out of the nightstand and shot himself” is a terrible tragedy, but when I look at James K’s post on the front thread..

      (stupid clicking)

      ..I see cases where we’d need to be careful about what we call reasonable and what the penalties are for particular cases.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Regarding gun registries, a newspaper in Westchester County, NY (a wealth suburban area just north of New York City) offered a map with the names and addresses of local residents with concealed carry permits in the aftermath of Newtown. Apparently everything they did was legal but, still, it’s a bit scary…

    More info here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/25/new-york-journal-news-gun-owners-westchester-rockland-counties_n_2362530.htmlReport

  13. Avatar Will H.
    Ignored
    says:

    Just to say I like this post.

    I watched “A Clockwork Orange” last night, and that sort of gave me a bit different perspective on the whole gun symposium thing.
    There’s a bit of dialogue at 1:27 and again at 1:47 that seemed to be especially pertinent. Don’t remember what it was, but it was pertinent.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *