No one wants to take your guns, right? New York Times: “Repeal the Second Amendment”

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the usual suspects have come out in full force.  This showed up on my news feed this morning:

From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

Nothing like a Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc fallacy to start things off.

From a personal-safety standpoint, more guns means less safety. The F.B.I. counted a total of 268 “justifiable homicides” by private citizens involving firearms in 2015; that is, felons killed in the course of committing a felony. Yet that same year, there were 489 “unintentional firearms deaths” in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 77 and 141 of those killed were children.

And a smooth transition to cherry picking by comparing justifiable homicides to accidents.  As usual, defensive gun uses that do not result in a dead criminal aren’t worthy of being counted, despite estimates of them ranging from 50,000 to 2 million a year.

From a national-security standpoint, the Amendment’s suggestion that a “well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State,” is quaint. The Minutemen that will deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are based in missile silos in Minot, N.D., not farmhouses in Lexington, Mass.

The venerable strawman appears!

From a personal liberty standpoint, the idea that an armed citizenry is the ultimate check on the ambitions and encroachments of government power is curious. The Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, the New York draft riots of 1863, the coal miners’ rebellion of 1921, the Brink’s robbery of 1981 — does any serious conservative think of these as great moments in Second Amendment activism?

Someone’s clearly never heard of the Battle of Athens.

But hey, there’s a moment of self awareness:

Given all of this, why do liberals keep losing the gun control debate?

Maybe it’s because they argue their case badly and — let’s face it — in bad faith. Democratic politicians routinely profess their fidelity to the Second Amendment — or rather, “a nuanced reading” of it — with all the conviction of Barack Obama’s support for traditional marriage, circa 2008. People recognize lip service for what it is.

Then there are the endless liberal errors of fact. There is no “gun-show loophole” per se; it’s a private-sale loophole, in other words the right to sell your own stuff. The civilian AR-15 is not a true “assault rifle,” and banning such rifles would have little effect on the overall murder rate, since most homicides are committed with handguns. It’s not true that 40 percent of gun owners buy without a background check; the real number is closer to one-fifth.

The National Rifle Association does not have Republican “balls in a money clip,” as Jimmy Kimmel put it the other night. The N.R.A. has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998, according to The Washington Post, equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The N.R.A. doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.

Nor will it do to follow the “Australian model” of a gun buyback program, which has shown poor results in the United States and makes little sense in a country awash with hundreds of millions of weapons. Keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people is a sensible goal, but due process is still owed to the potentially insane. Background checks for private gun sales are another fine idea, though its effects on homicides will be negligible: guns recovered by police are rarely in the hands of their legal owners, a 2016 study found.

In fact, the more closely one looks at what passes for “common sense” gun laws, the more feckless they appear. Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.

Holy shit, this is the most honest assessment of the gun control movement I’ve seen in ages.

Too bad it doesn’t last:

There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Repealing the Amendment may seem like political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones. Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn’t outlawed in Britain or Australia. But it doesn’t need a blanket Constitutional protection, either. The 46,445 murder victims killed by gunfire in the United States between 2012 and 2016 didn’t need to perish so that gun enthusiasts can go on fantasizing that “Red Dawn” is the fate that soon awaits us.

Oh ok dude.  You just spent paragraphs telling us how the gun control movement argues in bad faith and now you want to repeal the constitutional protection that prevents firearms from being banned from ownership.

Let’s also not pretend that banning & confiscation wouldn’t be immediately put on the menu.  You know how I know this? Because even with the 2nd Amendment protections, gun control zealots frequently propose just that.  Here’s a bill that was put forward for banning firearms in Wisconsin.  Here’s another one in Missouri.  Here’s one in Georgia that called for confiscation.  California & New York both have already passed bills that ban firearms & do not allow for grandfathered possession, with New York using their registration database to require turning them in or destroying them – notice that the firearms referenced are .22lr rifles, deemed illegal because they have a magazine capacity greater than 5 rounds.

Let’s not pretend that allowing people to own a single shot .22LR or over & under shotgun, stored at a hunting club, isn’t effectively banning firearms ownership.

I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War. My guess: Take the guns—or at least the presumptive right to them—away. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction.

How would the the Founding Fathers feel about privately owned guns? Dude, they issued Letters of Marque to allow for privately owned warships.  They had personally owned cannons. The Brown Bess rifle commonly owned by citizens was better than what was issued to the Continental Army.

Heck, even your math is bad – the population of the US during the Revolutionary war was roughly 2.5 million.  Regarding casualties during the Revolutionary war:

Throughout the course of the war, an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action, 6,100 wounded, and upwards of 20,000 were taken prisoner. Historians believe that at least an additional 17,000 deaths were the result of disease, including about 8,000–12,000 who died while prisoners of war.

America’s population today is 330 million, or 132 times greater than in 1776.  Let’s do some simple math:

6,800 war casualties times 132 = 897,600.  In comparison, we had 11,004 homicides by firearm in 2016.

So what would Madison say? He’d probably tell you to go pound sand, just in less polite terms.

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Pro-click: “The Political Philosophy Of Guns – Would America Really Be A Better Society Without Them?”

Came across this last night:

America’s decades long national argument about gun control is not a normal political debate about addressing policy to problems but about what kind of politics to have. It is fundamentally about how citizens should relate to each other and the state, and that makes it a matter of political philosophy, Politics with a capital P. That in turn explains why the debate has gone on so long without resolution and the division and frustration it inspires.

Of course it is up to Americans to decide what kind of society they should have, not philosophers, and certainly not foreign ones like me. Indeed, part of my argument is that even this most fundamental question must be decided politically, by the people, and not by appeal to the special authority of sacred constitutional principles or social science or even philosophy. Philosophers’ pronouncements of truth and rightness have no special authority over politics, nor should they. What philosophical analysis can do is offer new perspective and argumentative resources by which a political debate such as this one might be improved from its toxic stalemate.

I know what you are thinking.  This is going to be a long winded argument about how guns are bad.  WRONG!

So what does my philosophical perspective come down to? First a diagnosis. Both sides of the gun control debate know they are right. But only one side recognises it as a fundamentally philosophical dispute. The other has systematically evaded the real debate about values in favour of the faux objectivity of a statistical public health argument [See Hunt for a discussion of what the gun control debate is actually about]. Second some positive advice. The advocates of gun control need to take the political philosophy of the gun rights movement seriously and show that a society without guns is a better society not that it is a safer one.

It only gets better from there:

I’m going to have to be blunt. Gun control advocates rely excessively on a public health case that is not only much weaker than they believe it to be but also crowds out the kind of arguments that might actually win over their opponents. Their confidence that they are on the right side of history has blinded them to the fact that they have chosen to fight on the wrong ground. They keep harping on about guns killing people. As if guns were like cigarettes, and as if the numbers were big enough to matter

Guns are an excellent killing technology. They are extremely good at transforming an intention to kill into its achievement. However, that doesn’t mean that they are a particularly significant cause of death; only a particularly exciting one.The idea that forcibly removing guns from citizens would reduce death rates in any appreciable degree is a triumph of moral indignation over statistics. America is not 43rd in the world for life-expectancy because it kills so many people with guns, but, principally, because of the social gradient in health that follows from its shameful levels of socio-economic inequality [1].

Let’s go into this a little more.

We hear a lot about the large number of deaths caused by guns in America, around 33,000 per year. This sounds like a big number. But understanding whether a number is big enough to matter requires considering it in context. 2.6 million Americans die every year [CDC] [2]. Gun deaths represent just over 1% of deaths, and two thirds of those are suicides. From a public health perspective, many other causes of death seem much more deserving of our worry, and also more likely to yield to government intervention.

So happy to see someone else making the same arguments I’ve been using for years.  This one addresses a plethora of typical arguments: Guns vs Cars, Suicide, Mass Shootings, etc.  I have to disagree with the author’s “Your gun isn’t going to stop the military” argument for reasons outlined in previous posts, but you can’t have everything.

Get ready to strap on your stupid: David Smalley vomits “Why Gun Nuts Lie – I Know From Experience”

So I came across an article this morning where David Smalley, Proud Atheist, lectures America about “Why Gun Nuts Lie – I Know From Experience” – and with a premise like that, you know you are in for quite a wild ride.

First, he starts with his credentials:

I live in Texas. I’m a gun owner. I have a concealed handgun license. I’ve taught my kids how to fire weapons.

I also understand and appreciate our Constitution. I’m fully aware of the 2nd Amendment, and how its authors wanted to prevent government tyranny. Considering what they had gone through, they had every right to demand such a thing.

I know enough about weapons to have a near perfect score on my firing test, to know that the “c” in SR9c stands for “compact” to make the weapon easier to hide; and to know that the AR in AR-15 doesn’t stand for ‘Assault Rifle,’ but ‘Armalite’ after the original company who made the gun.

Am I a gun nut? Maybe. But I like to keep myself skeptical and informed. And that includes realizing when I’m being illogically influenced by my culture, and taking necessary steps to correct it.

Great, you’d think someone so informed would also be up to speed on current laws and important court decisions like Heller v DC or McDonald v Chicago.  Of course, he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is.

At this nation’s beginning, it made sense for the citizens to be armed similarly to the government to prevent tyranny.

Today, that’s ridiculous. The very concept is outdated. Some have said to me; the point is for the citizens to be “as armed as well as the government.”

Really? The concept is outdated? This would seem to indicate that Mr. Smalley’s beliefs are predicated on either strawman arguments or a lack of history (or both).  We’ll go into detail though, don’t worry.

For starters, today, the military has fully automatic M-16s. Citizens can’t buy that. You have to get a tamer version: AR-15.

You can’t have flame throwers, bombs, bazookas, Z10 attack helicopters, bradleys, tanks, fighter jets, nuclear reactors, or a plethora of other secret military weapons you don’t even know exist.

Mr Smalley shows a fundamental lack of knowledge with these statements, starting with current gun control laws.  Citizens can buy fully automatic M-16s, they are regulated as Machineguns under the National Firearms Act of 1934.  Flamethrowers? Not even federally regulated (even CNN scratched their head on that) and there are models for sale online right now in various configurations.  Bombs & Bazookas? They are considered “destructive devices” and have similar paperwork to machineguns.  Attack helicopters (Z10? wtf) & fighter jets? Uh, here ya go. Bradleys, tanks? Whoops.

So right off the bat, Mr. Smalley is entirely full of shit.  Of course if you confront him on this, he will shift the goalposts to whine about how you can’t buy the latest in military weapons systems like AH-64 Apaches with full Block upgrades, or a F-22, but that is besides the point – anyone citizen based uprising doesn’t require full air dominance & support.  They just have to apply the same asymmetric warfare principles that were used against the US in Iraq, Afghanistan & Vietnam.

Secondly, what if you were? I could hand you 50 AR-15s, give you 1000 illegal bombs, steal you a couple of tanks, and smuggle in some bazookas, and even let you fully train 500 of your closest friends.

If the government wants your shit, they’re going to take it.

You still wouldn’t be a match for even a single battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Not to mention the Air Force, Army, Navy, National Guard, Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Seals.

So stop acting like your little AR-15 is going to stop tyranny.

There’s the money shot!  The argument is “your AR-15 doesn’t matter against the full weight of the US Government.  At a base level, he’s correct – one person cannot stand against the government.  One person, however, can make a difference, whether they are Ed Snowden, or Bradley Manning, or others.  If Mr. Smalley had a base level of knowledge, he’d recall back to how WWI was started before making such a vacuous argument.

Here’s the thing though: We’ve been at war since just after 9/11 – 15 years now.  Despite that, we haven’t been able to pacify two areas that are smaller than Texas.  We still have troops deployed in Afghanistan, and despite “withdrawing” from Iraq, we have troops fighting there as well.  So while one man with a rifle can’t make a difference, it would behoove Mr. Smalley to recall the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, or the LA Riots from the 90s,  before dismissing the effectiveness of large groups of people.  Larry Correia has a great article on why your “citizens can’t stand up to the government” argument is not grounded in reality, I suggest you read it.

But that can’t be all of his argument now, can it? Of course not:

Just be honest. You like it because it makes your pee-pee big, and when you fire it, it gives you a tingle in your no-no place.

Of course, nobody could want an AR-15 (or equivalent rifle) because they are fun guns to shoot. Or that they are excellent for home protection. Or that they work for shooters as tall as 6’6″, or children barely in their teens. No, it’s because we’ve got little dicks.  And Mr. Smalley has a vast amount of experience with the genitalia of gun owners because he’s clearly conversant and can speak from experience having handled many of them, right?

So what’s next? Oh, more of the usual antigun talking points:

A collection of studies from 2012-2013 found that having a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death—and that of your spouse and children. If you have a gun (regardless of how it’s stored), everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owning neighbors and their families to die in a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.

 

Oh look, a list of 10 strawman arguments from Mother Jones, followed by a moronic “correlation = causation” argument that ignores that firearms homicides or suicides aren’t even on the top ten lists of ways to die in America.  Guess what, Mr Smalley – owning a car makes it more likely you’ll be in a car accident too.  Please, let go of your pearls.

Gun owners and their families are not more suicidal than non-gun-owners, research shows. Nor are they more likely to have a history of depression or other mental health problems.

But they—and their families—are at significantly increased risk of successfully taking their lives with a gun.

Sure, because firearms are pretty efficient like that.  But, as I’ve stated before, “Remove guns, PROBLEM SOLVED” doesn’t work with suicides either, as people will switch methods.  See (gun free) Japan with 2x our suicide rate, and (gun free) South Korea with more than 2x our suicide rate, and (heavily gun restricted) Belgium with 1.33 our suicide rate.

Next, Mr. Smalley fails at the google:

Let’s play a little research game. Google: “man fights off gang of bad guys with AR-15” and the first thing that pops up is a video of criminals shooting at a moving car with handguns.  …

Your fantasy of wiping out those 14 burglars, like Rambo spraying bullets from your AR-15, just isn’t going to happen.

It doesn’t happen. Period.

It doesn’t happen? Oh ok.  Let’s try that with videos. First result for “man defends with AR-15” is this:

Second result:

Here’s another video:

And here’s a woman defending her home in Detroit with a Hi Point carbine:

Hmm, sure looks like people defend themselves with rifles, Mr. Smalley.

I’m not advocating for you to lose all your guns. Even aware of the statistical dangers, I struggle with what to do with mine. I want my kids to be educated on the dangers, but I don’t want to act like guns make me safer. At least if I’m being skeptical even when it hurts.

Ah yes, the “No one wants to take your guns” strawman rears its head.

Here’s an idea: Disarm yourself.  If you don’t want a gun, don’t buy one. We’re pro-choice like that. As a matter of fact, I’d suggest you sell all of yours immediately because you sound like an asshole and I’d hate for you to hurt yourself or someone else.  Because you aren’t being skeptical: you are showing confirmation bias and are ignoring information that counters your viewpoints.

Then comes the litany of gun control masturbation:

But we have to draw the line somewhere. The bottom line is, we just need common sense. And we need to stop lying to ourselves.

I detailed my proposal for gun legislation on Dogma Debate #211: Guns & Atheists. But here’s the gist of it:

Treat guns like cars.
Mandatory licenses
License renewals
Mandatory training
Mandatory insurance
Operating laws
Operating age limits
Restrict some models
Require safety inspections
Mandatory registration
Background checks

I’m drawing the line well before that, because you aren’t educated enough about the laws to have a layman’s opinion and your facts are wrong.

Your laundry list is dumb for a few reason. For one, you don’t want to treat guns like cars, because if you did, you’d actually be making the case to loosen laws.  Here’s a couple things for you to read about why your argument has the facts exactly backwards:

All of those lay it out in very simple language why your argument is dumb.

Mandatory licenses? This is a non-starter unless they are freely available on a shall-issue basis.  By the way, Illinois has mandatory licenses for even purchasing ammunition under their Firearms Owner Identification requirements. Guess how that works out for them?

But hey, are you going to be ok with 16 year olds getting concealed carry permits? Because that’s what you are asking for.

Mandatory training? I’m down for that if you make it part of K-12 public school curriculum.  Otherwise you are just using dogwhistle racism to try to deny those who live in lower income brackets the ability to defend themselves.

Mandatory insurance? There’s not an insurance company out there that’s going to cover criminal actions (the primary reason you want firearms insurance, right?) and suicide requirements are pretty strict in existing health insurance as well.  But again, this goes back to dogwhistle racism as the people most likely to be victimized are also the same group disproportionately represented as homicide offenders.

Age limits? Why?  This sounds like you aren’t interested in safety whatsoever.  We have 360x more children 12 & under being injured in bicycle accidents every year (144,573 in 2014) than firearms (460 again 2014).  Hell, almost 6800 kids under 12 almost drowned in 2014.  Even looking at fatal injury data, bicycles killed 29 kids, 597 were drowned, 43 fell to their deaths, and 44 were killed unintentionally by firearms.  Roughly the same number of kids died falling down stairs or off ladders as were accidentally shot.  Double digit numbers of deaths, while tragic and horrendous for the families, are not reasons to curtail constitutional rights.

Model restrictions? Why? What restrictions?  Let me guess, ones that scare you based on cosmetic features.  We already have model restrictions, thanks, and we don’t need more for dubious reasons.

Safety inspections? Why?  Sounds like you aren’t a fan of privacy either.

Mandatory registration? LOL no.  Sorry! First, registration schemes are the epitome of Southpark’s Underpants Gnomes style gun control logic.  It’s one of those ideas that sounds good in theory, but doesn’t actually work out in practice.  Why? Because when guns are stolen, or straw purchased, or otherwise disappear, your registry is useless. Registries are good for one thing, and that’s revenue generation.  Past that, they don’t work unless the firearm is recovered at the crime scene… and if you have the gun, you typically have the shooter too.

Finally, Background Checks. See Illinois above.  If you want truly effective background checks, open a publicly accessible NICS portal that requires two party token authentication and you’ll have actual gun owners supporting the concept.  Meanwhile until straw purchasing and the like are eliminated, not to mention burglary, you are missing the crime gun forest for the trees.

Social Engineering Opportunity: Gun Buyback in Miami = opportunity for buyers

Oh look, another gun buyback…

A South Florida boxing gym is taking a stand against gun violence in hopes of making our neighborhoods safer. A gun buyback event is being held in Miami this weekend.

“We need you guys to turn in your guns. We need the community from all over Miami-Dade County to show up and show out because too many young people have been shot or killed by senseless gun violence,” said Rev. Jerome Starling, Jordan Grove Baptist Church.

http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Gun-Buyback-Event-in-Miami-Hopes-to-Curb-Gun-Violence-371738391.html

Well, let’s see what the plan is:

The plan is to give people $100 gift cards for each working gun they turn in and $50 gift cards for guns that don’t work.

The Heavyweight Factory boxing gym in Hollywood is sponsoring the event and donating $100,000 for the gun buyback. The owner of the gym grew up in Liberty City.

Hmmm, $100 gift card?  This seems like an excellent opportunity for enterprising buyers to offer $150 cash for any AR-15 or SW686 or Colt 1911s that would be turned in.

Or to head on down to Home Depot and make a few pipe guns.

Thomas Sowell’s take on the President’s speech: “On Gun Control, Obama Is Showman In Chief”

Those of you who read this blog should be familiar with my use of the term “security theater” and how most gun control proposals are little more than soundbites.   Thomas Sowell, noted economist, wrote an article covering yesterday’s Presidential address and reminded me of the flip side; political theater.

Those who have been marveling at Donald Trump’s political showmanship were given a reminder of who is the top showman of them all, when President Obama went on television to make a pitch for his unilateral actions to restrict gun sales and make a more general case for tighter gun-control laws.

It was beautifully choreographed, like a great ballet, and performed with consummate skill and understated eloquence.

First of all, the scene was set with a room full of people who have lost loved ones to gun violence. A father whose son had been gunned down made a long introduction before the president showed up, walked down the aisle and up onto the stage to growing applause.

As political theater, it put Donald Trump’s rantings in the shade.

As for the substance of what Obama said, there was very little substance, and much of it false, but one of the signs of great artistry was that the presentation overshadowed the substance.

None of the things proposed by the president is likely to reduce gun violence. Like other restrictions on people’s ability to defend themselves, or to deter attacks by showing that they are armed, these new restrictions can cost more lives on net balance.

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-on-the-right/010516-788259-thomas-sowell-donald-trump-has-nothing-on-barack-obama-when-it-comes-to-showmanship.htm?fromcampaign=1&p=full

I’m always glad to read when my point of view is the same as others that I respect.

People who are prepared to defy the laws against murder are not very likely to be stopped by laws against guns. Only law-abiding citizens are likely to be stopped by gun-control laws, and to become sitting ducks.

As for facts and statistics, the only ones likely to be mentioned by gun-control zealots, including the media, are those on how many people were killed by guns. How many lives were saved by guns will never make it through the ideological filters of the media, the political establishment or our educational institutions.

Yet factual data on how many threats or attacks were deterred in a given year by displaying a firearm have long been available. Seldom is it necessary to actually pull the trigger to get some thug or criminal to back off and go elsewhere, often in some haste.

Are the only lives that matter those that are lost, usually because there is no gun immediately available to protect them, but not the lives saved because they did have a gun at hand to protect them?

Gun-control zealots seem especially opposed to people being allowed to carry their guns concealed. But concealed weapons protect not only those who carry them, but also to some extent those who do not, because criminals have no way of knowing in advance who does and does not have a gun.

Muggings and rapes become much more dangerous activities for criminals where many law-abiding people are allowed to carry concealed guns. It can take a lot of the fun out of being a thug.

Obama said that we are the only “advanced” nation with so much gun violence. But there are a number of countries with higher murder rates than ours and stronger gun-control laws. But that leaves the definition of “advanced” to Obama — and makes for clever political theater.

Damn straight.  Thank you Dr. Sowell, for seeing through the bullshit.