Rational people can change their minds

James Wright’s article about how he was wrong about gun control and why it is doomed to failure, from the 90’s.  The years change, but the song remains the same:

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080708_1988912secondthoughtsaboutguncontroljamesdwright.pdf

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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.

WSJ drops a Truth Bomb: The Progressive Gun-Control Charade: “After tragedy, politicians glibly call for unworkable reforms—then blame the ‘gun lobby’ when they fail.”

I came across an article in the WSJ today that succinctly summed up the gun control situation in American politics.

It’s notable how much the rhetoric has changed since the peak of the national gun-ban movement, when politicians talked honestly about reducing violence by constricting the gun supply—and what that would require. In a 1989 Senate hearing, Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, a Democrat from Ohio, candidly explained: “If you don’t ban all of them you might as well ban none of them.” But gun bans proved unpalatable to American voters in even the most liberal jurisdictions. In 1976 Massachusetts voters rejected a handgun ban referendum 69% to 24%, with 86% of eligible voters going to the polls. In 1982 California voters rejected a handgun “freeze,” which would have barred their sale, 63% to 37%, with a voter turnout of 72%. (source)

Gun owners have long memories.  We’re fully aware that despite the rhetoric softening slightly, the true desires of the antigun extremists is to ban as many as possible.  After all, what else is “Australian” gun control without confiscation under the guise of buybacks?

We’re not stupid, as GeekyLiberal stated, and we don’t appreciate being lied to or lied about.

The WSJ goes on to say

Gun owners and Second Amendment activists understand that Howard Metzenbaum was absolutely right about the logic of supply-side gun control. So they resist incremental gun controls on the understanding that the latest proposal cannot be the last step. And when these half-measures fail, in either passage or effectiveness, progressives can always blame the “gun lobby.”

Yet despite the media push to make the NRA the biggest boogeyman ever, they poll higher than Obama and Clinton and support for gun banning remains low, no matter what push polls claim about background checks.

Still, President Obama’s open praise of the Australian gun ban is progress of a sort. It sets us on the path toward an honest debate about the confiscation policies that supply-side gun control inevitably requires. The challenge is to get the politicians who continue to crave the votes of gun owners to speak as candidly about this as the president has.

This reminds me of another article I read earlier this year where Charles W. Cooke called for antigun extremists to nut up or shut up:

When the likes of Rob Delaney and Bill Maher and Keith Ellison say that we need to get rid of the Second Amendment, they are not speaking in a vacuum but reflecting the views of a small but vocal portion of the American population. And they mean it. That being so, here’s the million-dollar question: What the hell are they waiting for? Go on, chaps. Bloody well do it.

As gun owners, we’re tired of the dancing around and hints the antigun forces keep dropping.  As the WSJ post concludes:

So, to the glib critics of America’s gun culture: You cannot continue to have it both ways. If vast reductions in the supply of guns are the key to stopping mass shootings, tell us precisely what policies you propose. And then tell us how you intend to square those policies with the fact that Americans already own hundreds of millions of firearms.

If you cannot reconcile these two things, then you owe America’s lawful gun owners a different conversation: One in which you try to convince them that they’d be better off under policies that would disarm good people in a fruitless attempt to keep bad men from getting guns.

From TheFederalist: “14 Things Everyone Should Understand About Guns”

The Federalist posted a great article highlighting just how little “journalists” know about firearms despite pontificating on how laws must be changed:

Guns can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But so are articles about guns written by people who don’t understand anything about them.

There’s sadly no excuse to be ignorant about firearms. They’ve been around for hundreds of years. They’re owned and operated safely by tens of millions of Americans each year. Our Constitution guarantees our individual right to possess guns so that we might be able to defend ourselves from those who would violently take away our freedom. Many gun controllers, however — some of whom have bylines for major media organizations — don’t actually know the first thing about firearms.

http://thefederalist.com/2015/02/24/14-things-everyone-should-understand-about-guns/

Street Robberies and You, a classic from ARFCOM

Valuable insight from a long time LEO, posted in 2012 on AR15.com:

The Enemy

Some may object to me calling hold up men “the enemy”. You can call them whatever you like. I can assure you however they are as deadly an enemy as you will find anywhere but the battlefield. Even many soldiers probably lack the viciousness and utter disregard for life most hold up men possess.

No one wakes up in the morning one day and decides to become an armed robber. It is a gradual process that requires some experience and desensitizing. Before a man will pick up a gun and threaten to kill people who have done him no harm in order to get their usually meager possessions he has to get comfortable with some things.

He has to get used to seeing others as objects for him to exploit. He has to accept he may be killed while robbing. He has to accept the felony conviction for Robbery will haunt him all his life. He has to accept he may need to kill a completely innocent person to get away with his crime.

This is a process that starts with stealing candy at the corner store as a child. It progresses through bigger property crimes that may also involve violence. But one day G gets tired of selling his stolen property for nothing and decides it would be better to steal cash. Cut out all that tiresome sales stuff.

Keep in mind many petty thieves, auto burglars, residential and commercial burglars, paper thieves, and hustlers will get to that point and decide not to become armed robbers. Most will. It is a special group of outliers who decide threatening to kill people for a few dollars is the way to go.

Once a man starts armed robbing he has crossed a line most won’t. Don’t forget that when you are looking these bastards in the eye. Their decision to kill you is already made. Your life means nothing to him. Only his does. His sole motivation for not killing you is he doesn’t want a murder case. He has already accepted he may pick one up though.

We hunt hold up men around the clock once they are identified. We send teams of fire breathing fence jumper/door kickers to find them. We will bring their mother to the office and convince her she is going to jail if we don’t have Junior in our office in an hour. We have her call her son crying hysterically for him to turn himself in before she is arrested and held without bond as a material witness and her home seized for harboring him. Most of the time they won’t. Fuck their own momma.

We will hit all Juniors friends and family’s houses. We make it so no one will harbor him. He is so hot no one will let him in their house or even talk on the phone with him. We put money on him so he knows he is right to be betrayed and set up. We do this because of one thing.

That thing is they WILL kill someone if they keep robbing. That is why the city is willing to pay all the overtime. They don’t want the murders. Think about that when you see Junior coming. The more robberies he does the closer he is to killing someone. Maybe you.

The guys who hit you on the street are gang members. They are Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Crips, Sureonos, many others. They do not see themselves as part of society. The street is all they know. They don’t expect to live long or stay out of prison. They take a delight in your fear and suffering. They are warped individuals for the most part. They can be extremely dangerous.

One time we were locking up a hold up man and having a conversation about how they target their victims. I was saying they pick easy ones, another guy was saying they preferred easy ones but would take anybody.

I pointed out a uniform Officer there was an NFL size guy to that hold up man. Frankly the dude was a monster. I asked hold up man if he would rob him. He said “If I needed the money”.

More:

Dynamics of Encounters

Hold up men target victims on the street in an impulsive, opportunistic manner. They see someone and make a quick judgment call on whether to rob them. The time between when you are targeted and they are on you isn’t long. Therefore, situational awareness is everything.

If you see G coming you are in good shape. If you don’t you will be the victim who says “He came out of nowhere”. No he didn’t. There are many tricks to watching out but simply watching your back is the main thing. Watch your back. If you do it enough it becomes second nature and you won’t even realize you are doing it.

Watching out is great but unfortunately many self defense courses stop there. You have parked you car in a well lit area, are aware of your surroundings, and looky here, here comes three guys across the parking lot and they start to kind of fan out.

When you lock eyes with G the very first thing you need to do it indicate you have a weapon. It doesn’t matter if you do or not. If you are a woman put your gun hand in your purse and keep it there. If you are a man fan your shirt or coat tail with your gun hand. Make it clear to dude you are mentally prepared to draw and making sure your gun is clear. This will many times result in an about face by dude. It is the single best robbery avoidance tactic IMHO.

Not long ago I was walking down the sidewalk in my town to go get my car. I was holding a folding chair in my gun hand. A car slow rolled past me with 4 heads in it. The guys in the back seat turned around as they went by looking at me. They went a little farther and U turned in the street.

Here they come back. As they started to slow down I looked at them with as contemptuous a look as I could muster and switched the chair to my left hand and flicked my shirt tail with my right hand. They just drove on mad dogging me.

In another case I was at a Christmas party and walked a girl to her car about 3 am. As we said our good-byes two guys were walking across the parking lot. One went behind a dumpster. I though he was peeing. He came out from behind the dumpster with a bottle.

As they got closer I stepped clear of that girl and unzipped my jacket at those two guys. When I did the guy threw down the bottle and they walked by cussing at me. If someone challenges you after you indicate you are armed say “I don’t have a gun”. Then they will know you do.

Here is an opposite story. A girl my brother knows was walking her dog when a guy approached her. She was polite. Mistake. He talked to her about the dog and said she had pretty hair and reached out and touched her hair. She did not slap his hand down or aggressively object. Mistake. He asked her if her dog bit and she said “No”. At that time he slapped the shit out of her, drug her into a wooded area, and raped her.

The answer in the street is always “No”. Can I ask you something? No. Do you have a cigarette? No. Can you tell me what time it is? No. The answer is always “No”. Don’t be nice. Stop the encounter as soon as it starts.

Read the entire post here: https://www.ar15.com/forums/t_1_5/1285487_Street_robberies_and_you___The_Basics.html

The next time someone tells you that owning a firearm should require regular mental evaluations, show them this – “VA psychiatrist tells Facebook user to ‘off yourself’”

Do no harm

The Hippocratic Oath

Social media has been abuzz in the firearms community when someone screen captured a psychiatrist telling someone to kill themselves during a conversation about firearms.

I wish I was joking about this.  Dr Gregg Gorton isn’t just some mental health counselor.  He’s a psychiatrist.

What’s even worse is that he works for the Veteran’s Administration, dealing with veterans who’ve carried firearms in the worst possible situations.  Veterans are a large segment of gun owners, so how is his professional behavior impacted by these opinions he holds?

He issued an “apology” (if you could call it that) after people started getting word about what he’d done, but this raises a number of interesting points.

The antigun movement has repeatedly floated a talking point where they suggest that firearms owners should be required to pass regular mental health evaluations prior to owning a gun.  Ignoring the obvious problem that there aren’t enough qualified mental health professionals in the US to administer these tests, this is reminiscent of the Literacy Tests used to disenfranchise minorities during & after Reconstruction.  Such evaluations wouldn’t be performed for free either, so the historically literate should see the obvious similarity to Poll Taxes.

The biggest problem, however, isn’t that there aren’t enough doctors to do it, or that it will disproportionately prevent minorities from owning guns.  Instead, the largest issue is that it turns a right into a privilege subject to the whim of another.  The evaluating physician’s opinion will trump the rights of the individual.  Where this becomes particularly troublesome is when you have people like Dr. Gorton above, telling people they disagree with to kill themselves.

See, Psychiatrists aren’t just handed their medical degrees and told to start their practice.  After college, and then medical school (a 4 year process), psychiatrists then go through a 4 year residency program, then must pass licensing and board certification exams.  After all of this, and the years of specific training on dealing with mental health issues, you still get doctors like the above who can’t control themselves.  Or abusing their patients.

Despite this, however, they are not firearms experts. They are not firearms policy experts.  So when you have organizations like the American Psychiatric Association teaming up with other groups to call for stricter gun control such as “assault weapons bans” and “high capacity magazine bans” they are making an Appeal to Authority on a subject they have little to no knowledge.

Giving these same doctors the ability to be the final arbiter of firearms ownership for millions of Americans has a staggering potential for abuse.