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School Shootings

Is the rise of school shootings in America a case of too many guns or a simple failure to keep guns away from kids? Gun locks and gun safes exist.

That's not a rhetorical question. I actually wonder about the answer.

I assume 90% of the kids who become school shooters get their weapons from adults who left them unguarded. Correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

I know you're furiously trying to determine if I am pro-gun or anti-gun so you can decide how much extra to hate me. So let me state my position as clearly as possible:

I am pro-data.

And the data is incomplete.

Obviously there's a strong correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths. But how much of that is causation as opposed to correlation? One can never know if Americans own guns because we're violent people or we're violent because we own guns. Isn't it likely to be some of both?

Common sense says that having guns lying around the house makes gun violence more likely. But we don't know if the accessibility factor is 10% of the story or 90%. Maybe the rate of stabbings would skyrocket if guns disappeared and that would close some of the violence gap. My point is that it's hard to size the problem of gun risk, and that matters because the goal is low risk not zero risk. If we wanted zero risk in all things at the expense of personal freedom we would fill every swimming pool with bubble wrap.

We also can't know if gun ownership will ever protect future citizens from the tyranny of the government. One argument says that the army has the biggest guns and so citizens are effectively defenseless if the government becomes a dictatorship. Therefore, owning a gun doesn't protect you from the government.

The counterargument is that if an American becomes a dictator, every one of his friends and extended family members would be bullet-riddled by the end of the week courtesy of the gun owners. What would be the point of becoming a dictator in a country where you can't leave your enclave and you just killed most of the people you care about with your actions? I think gun ownership does add a thin layer of protection against a risk of a dictatorship by rational leaders, but that risk is of unknown size. How do you value the thing that might happen but doesn't?

We also don't know what would happen if we went hog-wild with gun control. Would we suddenly become Great Britain and prefer slapping each other with open palms instead of shooting? Or would it turn into another Prohibition fiasco? Nothing sells more guns than the threat of gun control in the future.

In the long run, all violent criminals will be caught every time. That's the payoff from our creeping lack of privacy. When that day comes, rational adults such as criminals will be doing less shooting because there is no hope of getting away with it. And if we keep guns away from kids, with mandatory gun locks for example, that helps with the school shooting problem.

Once the rational criminals and the kids are neutered, that leaves only the irrational adults with guns as our remaining problem. And probably the best defense against that bunch of nuts involves owning your own gun. But I can't back that assumption with data.

Anecdotally, I have one friend who gunned down a would-be rapist who broke into her house. And I have another friend who would have been raped by an intruder if her boyfriend hadn't coincidentally spent the night and taken out the intruder by hand. A gun would have worked if he hadn't been there. But those are anecdotes not data.

The only thing I know for sure is that the "It is in the constitution" argument is misplaced. No matter what the founders had in mind at the time, we have the option to change it. So the question is what makes sense today, not what a bunch of hemp-smoking slave-owners thought hundreds of years ago.

I'm curious if you think you have enough data to form an opinion on the topic of American gun control. Gun control qualifies as common sense, but in my experience common sense in the context of insufficient data is irrationality in disguise.

To be fair, both sides of the debate have insufficient data and so they must default to using what they feel is common sense but isn't. (If it were common, both sides would agree.). So I don't think irrationality is limited to one side of the debate.

Scott

 
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Jun 26, 2014
Regarding the doubt that many people have that an armed population can realisticly resist the encroachment of tyranny in our modern world, due to the change in the nature and scale of weapons of war; let me point out that such resistance is not only possible from a strategic perspective, it's actually happened at least once.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946)
 
 
Jun 26, 2014
Confessions of a reformed NYC cop.

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/i-used-to-come-for-your-guns-now-i-support-your-right-to-defend-yourself/
 
 
Jun 24, 2014
[Most of the debate arises from the interpretation of the word "militia".
It appears obvious to me that every owner of a firearm isn't part of an militia, but I guess that could be considered just one opinion out of many. Creighto, whats your take on the use of the word "militia" in this context?]

It's not just about the meaning of the term, "militia" but also of the term "well regulated". The term "militia" has not changed much, as it refers to a civilian military force.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia

[A militia generally is an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters; citizens of a nation or subjects of a state or government that can be called upon to enter a combat situation, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of the fighting nobility class.]

I agree with that definition, generally speaking, and the above definition specificly excludes professional military units, such as the US Army. However, the greater disconnect is the meaning of the term "well regulated" which has changed somewhat since the 2nd was written. While, in a modern context, we might assume that "well regulated" is interchangable with "well controlled"; that is not how it's intended to be interpreted by those who contributed to it's phrasing. We know this because they told us in the federalist papers. Within context of a militia, the term "well regulated" was synonymous with the term "well trained"; thus the total phrase, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." could be translated in a modern context as, "Since military training of the public is necessary to the maintaince of security within a free state, the government cannot make any law that suppresses the right of that same public to firearms." Furthermore, this general interpretation has been ruled upon by the SCOTUS on several occasions. Basicly, it's a practical requirement for a true militia to be trained, to actually have access to those same weapons outside of the context of a military unit. In other words, the best sharpshooters that those that were taught how to hunt & shoot at an age too young to join the military. This is a fact even the former Soviet Union was well aware of, as despite a complete ban on civilian firearms, the very best snipers in their own history were soldiers that were illicitly trained by a parent or grandparent using an illegally owned firearm.

[In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, "The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence" and limited the applicability of the Second Amendment to the federal government.[9] In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”.] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution


From http://jpfo.org/filegen-n-z/six-about-2nd.htm

The Federalist Papers, No. 28: Alexander Hamilton expressed that when a government betrays people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise their original right of self-defense — to fight the government.[Halbrook, p. 67]

The Federalist Papers, No. 29: Alexander Hamilton explained that an armed citizenry was the best and only real defense against a standing army becoming large and oppressive. [Halbrook, p. 67]

The Federalist Papers, No. 46: James Madison contended that ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government got too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms. [Halbrook, p. 67]

There was no National Guard, and the Founders opposed anything but a very small national military. The phrase “well-regulated” means well-trained and disciplined — not “regulated” as we understand that term in the modern sense of bureaucratic regulation. [This meaning still can be found in the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. 1989, Vol 13, p. 524, and Vol 20. p. 138.]


 
 
Jun 23, 2014
The Constitutions second amendment says:

[A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.]

Most of the debate arises from the interpretation of the word "militia".
It appears obvious to me that every owner of a firearm isn't part of an militia, but I guess that could be considered just one opinion out of many. Creighto, whats your take on the use of the word "militia" in this context?
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2014
The fact that never gets any press or sees the light of day despite data to support it is. as civil liberties go down terror, domestic or otherwise, goes up. This is a fact supported by data. Who can even question whether America's civil liberties have diminished in this age of absurd political correctness and lack of privacy? Yet, the issue never comes up.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2014
The fact that never gets any press or sees the light of day despite data to support it is. as civil liberties go down terror, domestic or otherwise, goes up. This is a fact supported by data. Who can even question whether America's civil liberties have diminished in this age of absurd political correctness and lack of privacy? Yet, the issue never comes up.
 
 
Jun 21, 2014
[Those who don't believe an armed populace could stifle the U.S. military have not studied history, recent or past. Read "No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah," or "Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood," which was about the battle for Ramadi. The Sunnis were, for the most part, completely untrained, and poorly equipped. (I have a photo of the weapons captured by the Marines: WWI Russian Mosins, WWII Mausers, as well as some beautiful Joe Biden-style double-barrel shotguns.)
Or try some older history: barefoot, starving Confederate boys at the Battle of Shiloh carried flintlocks, shotguns, and, until they could pick up a musket from a dead cohort, spears. And they damn near beat Sherman and Grant.
You're right, a 7mm Magnum is little use against an Apache or F/A-18 in the air. But once on the ground, the pilot and support crew would be more vulnerable than an elk, which are regular killed from 400 yards by non-expert shooters. (Besides, far from all of the U.S. military would fire on U.S. citizens.) ]

You forgot one other important detail. Any complete examination of a military conflict has to consider the lines of supply and support of those sides. Undoubtedly, the US armed forces would have the initial force advantage; but the longer a domestic insurgency continues, the worse that would degrade for the government for the simple fact that the US military is supported by taxation upon the very economy that would be disrupted by a civil war.

There's also the little fact that veterans are as well trained, and often as well armed, as their currently serving brothers; and outnumber the active forces by an order of magnitude.

An finally, there is the little issue about the seperation of forces that is not well known. The US Marine Corps and the Navy both report to the Secretary of the Navy, a civilian. The US Army and Air Force both report to the Secretary of the Army, a different civilan. This command structure exists on the remote chance that a charasmatic military general to rise through the ranks, and attempt to stage a coup. It also means that, even in our modern world, the US Marine Corps Reserve keeps insurgency plans for the city in which they reside, in case they ever have to oppose the US Army (or a conquering foreign force) as an insurgency force. They don't share these plans with others, but plenty of retired US Marines have seen these plans; and can make life very difficult for an occupying force using very little resources and very few individuals.

Basicly, when liberals claim that the 2nd can't realisticly prepare a population to resist a modern military, they really don't know what they are talking about. The USMCR considers planning for exactly this kind of scenario part and parcel of their primary mission.

[FYI, the seeming conflict between gun regulation and the right to bear arms isn't new.]

Of course it's not new. It's one of the primary reasons for the start of the Revolutionary War, on April 19th, 1776. The British forces were not marching through Lexington Green to Concord in order to collect taxes on tea. They were trying to capture a civilian owned armory. This fact alone should tell you what side of history you're on.
 
 
Jun 21, 2014
[Great! What other constitutional rights can we earn if we jump through enough hoops? Do the hoops have to be based on actual statistics, or can they be based on one-off events and movie plots?]

FYI, the seeming conflict between gun regulation and the right to bear arms isn't new.
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0801601
 
 
Jun 21, 2014
[ It should be possible to earn yourself ways to ease regulations,]

Great! What other constitutional rights can we earn if we jump through enough hoops? Do the hoops have to be based on actual statistics, or can they be based on one-off events and movie plots?
 
 
Jun 21, 2014
Those who don't believe an armed populace could stifle the U.S. military have not studied history, recent or past. Read "No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah," or "Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood," which was about the battle for Ramadi. The Sunnis were, for the most part, completely untrained, and poorly equipped. (I have a photo of the weapons captured by the Marines: WWI Russian Mosins, WWII Mausers, as well as some beautiful Joe Biden-style double-barrel shotguns.)
Or try some older history: barefoot, starving Confederate boys at the Battle of Shiloh carried flintlocks, shotguns, and, until they could pick up a musket from a dead cohort, spears. And they damn near beat Sherman and Grant.
You're right, a 7mm Magnum is little use against an Apache or F/A-18 in the air. But once on the ground, the pilot and support crew would be more vulnerable than an elk, which are regular killed from 400 yards by non-expert shooters. (Besides, far from all of the U.S. military would fire on U.S. citizens.)
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 21, 2014
I also agree that there's a large cultural aspect as well.
However, I think that the primary goal must be to jolt the debate out of deadlock. Efforts to stop frustrating responsible gun owners with unneccesary regulations has to part of the solution.
 
 
Jun 21, 2014
[It is, except when you screw up with a firearm, you only get one strike.]
[So what you are asking for as an improvement is already the case in spades]

So now you're saying that there is _no_ regulatory magic required?
Well then !

We only need to build on that. It should be possible to earn yourself ways to ease regulations, either by passing additional occasional safe-keeping and responsible-use tests, and mental health checks.

That way, we could hopefully catch the worst potential offenders. Responsible gun owners should be able to pass these regular checkups with flying colors, and therefore need not be burdened by more regulations, and at the same time they'll accept stricter regulations because it won't end up targeting them anyway.
 
 
Jun 20, 2014
[You know what? I have a hard imagining why this isn't doable.
If you consistently fail a driver license test, you're probably not fit to sit behind the wheel. Sure, some may slip through the cracks, but we're not trying to prevent a 100% of irresponsible people from owning cars.

Why can't this be applied to gun licenses?]

It is, except when you screw up with a firearm, you only get one strike. That's the system that we have, if you display that you are an irresponsible gun owner *once*, you lose the right to own them. However, as we have already established, the right to self-defense is a real right, while the right to drive a car (in public) is a privilage. Thus, the bar to the removal of the right to self defense is higher; namely that a person actually has to be convicted of a crime. There's no second chances with gun ownership, no pleading with the court to blame one's irresponsibilty on youth or poor upbringing. Until there is a conviction; innocence is (usually) presumed, but once there is a conviction, the gun rights are suppressed. It's also only one of two rights that the convicted felon can't reasonablely expect to earn back, the other being voter sufferage. So what you are asking for as an improvement is already the case in spades, and has been for a century or so.
 
 
Jun 20, 2014
[That is just the kind of stupid pi55y little comment that pi55e5 other people off. It adds nothing to the di5cu55ion and makes you look like a moron.]

hehe, I know. But the argument I was addressing was so ridiculous that I couldn't resist


[ I no longer believe that corruption of governments can actually be fixed. At best, the degree of corruption can be managed.]

Well yes, there will always be some jacka**es that will try to game the system, but the current level of corruption is only possible thanks to the massive incentive structures that support it. Addressing corruption without changing the incentive structures won't lead anywhere.


[Now you only have to figure out how to achieve this particular feat of regulatory magic.]

You know what? I have a hard imagining why this isn't doable.
If you consistently fail a driver license test, you're probably not fit to sit behind the wheel. Sure, some may slip through the cracks, but we're not trying to prevent a 100% of irresponsible people from owning cars.

Why can't this be applied to gun licenses?
 
 
Jun 19, 2014
[You could any discussion point-blank by stating that nothing's going to work anyway if you don't fix corruption first. ]

Yes, I could. Bear in mind, I was a government servant for many years of my adult life; I've seen things from the inside. It's a lot like watching how sausage is made, many people lose their sense of wonder once they've seen the inside of a real bureauracy. Those government agencies are really just people, and people can screw up accidentally, or simply pursue a career in public service *because* they are corrupt by nature. I no longer believe that corruption of governments can actually be fixed. At best, the degree of corruption can be managed.

[Instead of unloading all your thoughts on fire regulations, why don't you cut to the chase and just list what you think we shouldn't cut down on? Probably easier]

Well, that would be a shorter list. There are about 20K different firearms regs across the United States, between the federal, state and local authorities. Of course, different gun owners are also affected by different regs based upon where they live, where they actually are, the class of weapon they are carrying, what kind of accessories it may have, how many children they have in their home, and their military background (or lack thereof). To start with, a simplification and unification of the regs across regions and users. Most of the extra regs related to class 2 & 3weapons make sense, except for sound suppressors and such, which are classifed as a class 2 weapon by itself. Yet, there has been exactly 2 murders (not committed by agents of government) within the US using an otherwise legal class 2 or 3 weapon since 1936; so those really aren't the problem.

I think that it might be fair to expect a gun owner to own some kind of gun safe, but I also think trying to define what a gun safe should be would be counterproductive, limiting innovation by manufactuers. For example, there is an entire class of 'quick draw' mini-safes on the market today that allow the owner to lock a single handgun up in a very convient place, such as in his nightstand drawer, yet get quick access to it due to a modern electronic locking system. But these don't count as gun safes to most regs that require a gun safe; because they usually require a two hour rating or a certain type of lock. Others don't allow a safe to be installed in a bedroom if there are children in the home, and it doesn't much matter which bedroom. Really, the regs are so varied and confusing that it's literally impossible for anyone, much less everyone, to know what they are. Even the training programs for CCW's have to focus on the broadest and most common subset. It becomes, therefore, very easy to break a firearm regulation by accident and without any harm done to anyone; yet with the severity of the punishments required in these same regs, judges often don't have the authority to reduce the penalty even if they know it was a simply error. This is one reason that BATF agents are hated so much, because they tend to very strictly enforce the letter of the law, and rarely offer any other course than prosecution.

In the long run, I don't think that a solution for gun violence can be found in regulations. Ultimately it's a problem with society itself; particularly with certain sub-cultures that glorify violence.

Gun owners hate the idea of the electronic safety, BTW, mostly because there are a lot of ways that can go wrong at the wrong moment (dead battery, device failure, deliberate electronic interference, bad RFID ring, etc) but I'm really surprised that no one has bothered to ask about a 'black box' type device. One that does not interfere with the function of the weapon, but can record the date, time and GPS location of each shot fired; but then cannot be accessed by police without a warrant.

In fact, I think that is a great idea, and that we should start with every cops or government agents' primary and secondary service weapon. If the cops don't hate it, I'd be willing to consider it's requirement for new guns going forward.

Of course, this would have zero effect on school rampage shootings, since those guys don't care about prosecution; and it wouldn't have any effect on criminals either, they'd either remove the devices or not care. The only value for such a device would be in establishing the timeline for a shooting, whether by a civilian or a police officer. For example, if there is an altercation between cops and, say, some ranchers over a public land use license; and shots are fired on both sides. It could be established without a doubt who shot first.

 
 
Jun 19, 2014
[I can easily demonstrate that many areas do not require fire departments, or at least they don't need to be financed by government taxation, nor operated by government regulations.

Do you really want to make this argument?]


I almost think _you_ want me to o_O

Instead of unloading all your thoughts on fire regulations, why don't you cut to the chase and just list what you think we shouldn't cut down on? Probably easier.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 19, 2014
[Now you only have to figure out how to acheive this particular feat of regulatory magic.]

Good thing we're surrounded by happy, experienced gun owners who are willing to contribute with fresh perspectives and new ideas on how to achieve just that : P
 
 
Jun 19, 2014
[Why alchohol & tobacco is lumped with guns and bombs, I know not, but the organization you desire exists. It's also notoriously corrupt, incompetent & politicized. Your faith in the abilities of government oversight knows no bounds, it seems.]

They do sound like it should fall within their area of expertise : P
But that they're corrupt like so many other parts of government is an entirely different thread of discussion that I've been avoiding for the sake of argument.

You could any discussion point-blank by stating that nothing's going to work anyway if you don't fix corruption first.
 
 
Jun 19, 2014
[We have enough trouble enforcing the myriad laws we already have. If people won't obey there will always be enforcement issues.]

[We should close all fire departments.
We have enough trouble running police departments. If people won't stop using fire, there will always be fires : P ]

I can easily demonstrate that many areas do not require fire departments, or at least they don't need to be financed by government taxation, nor operated by government regulations.

Do you really want to make this argument?
 
 
Jun 19, 2014
[creighto has clarified that for me now. Any blanket restriction, strict or otherwise, that targets irresponsible gun owners but unfairly punishes responsible gun owners only serves to polarize the debate further.
We need a way to distinguish between the two.]

Now you only have to figure out how to acheive this particular feat of regulatory magic.
 
 
 
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