Monday, October 19, 2009

This Is Gun Control.

Police: UConn football player stabbed to death
(CNN) -- Cornerback Jasper Howard called his mom Saturday night after Connecticut beat Louisville, and he was given the game-winning ball. He was thrilled.

Just hours later, the phone rang again. This time it was UConn football coach Randy Edsall notifying her that her son had been stabbed.

He was pronounced dead early Sunday.

First let me extend my condolences to the Howard family. This is an unimagineable loss; I cannot fathom how I would react to the call that my son's life was cut short over a foolish argument from a school dance. No one deserves this. No parent should have to bury their twenty year old child over a disagreement. This is not about the knife used - although had it been a firearm the usual suspects would be wailing about it.

This is the inevitable conclusion of gun control. By focusing our efforts on the inanimate object and not the person misusing said object, we continue to miss the point. Rather than mindlessly bleating "GUNS R BAD" and calling for more restrictions - which only the good people will obey - we need to start asking ourselves why people have little problem employing such horrific violence over the smallest slights.

Instead, we focus on the tool used, and hope the real problem goes away.

You see, the real problem isn't simple. It's not something that's going to be fixed with one law, or even a series of laws; it may not even be "fixable" through the judicial system except tangentially. We already have laws against killing people; they didn't seem to stop whoever plunged a knife into Jasper Howard. For just about any scenario where "gun control" is proposed as the answer to violence committed with a firearm, chances are you'll find dozens of existing laws that are being broken already.

We don't need more laws. We need enforcement of existing laws coupled with real, actual consequences of breaking those laws. We may need to build more prisons (personally, I'd be happy to release all non-violent drug offenders to make room, and before the pro-legalization folks start congratulating me, I'd also like to build electric bleachers to take out the cold-blooded killers and rapists). We also need to take a hard look at our decaying culture and try to reason out why we've become so quick to kill; so immune to the permanency of death.

Maybe that's why we focus on the tool used - this is a hard question with no easy answers. Simply trying to pinpoint exactly when the "sanctity of human life" started declining is hard enough - our history is filled with duels to the death (Alexander Hamilton, call your office). Defending one's honor - or that of one's family, or betrothed, etc. - is an integral part of human nature, most likely hardwired into the psyche to protect one's clan. As our external dangers dwindle, as we spend less time clawing and scratching to make a living or defend ourselves from nature, this innate need to protect one's chosen group has expanded to include fellow sports teams devotees, local affiliations, or other interest outside the family.

But gun control - the unwavering belief that all we need to do to make all the violence and bad things in the world go away is to ban all guns - takes all the heat off the breakdown of the traditional family. It removes the incentive to look inward at our species and the remarkable violence we are capable of perpetuating on our fellow man. No, it's the "easy availability of guns" that are "more and more deadly" and "only designed for killing" that are the problem; certainly it has nothing to do with the fact that little Johnny thinks no more of picking up a Glock to shoot someone who dissed him than the rest of society would think about swatting a fly.

A baseball bat, knife, or wooden board can be used to murderous ends. Proponents of gun control like to say that firearms make it easier to kill, as though the actual physical act of pulling a trigger being easier than swinging a Louisville Slugger is the only thing stopping young Timmy from killing the kid down the street that looked at him funny. It's preposterous on its face, and hundreds of thousands of incidents the world over show this to be utterly false - we are a creative species, and can always think of new and innovative ways to injure and or kill our fellow man than by simply pulling a trigger.

Gun control will always fail to reduce violence. Always.

What it will not fail at, however, is removing guns from the hands of people that should have them - the good, honest, law-abiding folks who serve to protect themselves, further their hunting or sporting needs, and keep the government honest. As many before have said, "gun control" is not about the gun, it's about the control. Unless and until we stop being dazzled by the BS of "no one needs an assault weapon" or "handguns are made for killing", they will continue to turn up the heat on the pot in which we frogs are swimming...

We're making headway, but I won't be happy until that pot is overturned and the frogs hop away free...

That is all.


Christina RN LMT said...

Wonderful post, Jay. I shall pimp it on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Japan is a perfect example of this. It's practically impossible to get a gun there, but people still end up dead anyway - via things like cars, knives, axes, baseball bats and other blunt objects...

And before anyone says anything about how Japan has a lower crime rate than the U.S., that's a product of culture rather than lack of guns. Plus, there's fewer people.

And going on the subject of the "sanctity of human life", if that's so important to the pro-ban people, why aren't they trying to ban cars? Far more people die in car accidents than they do from gunshot wounds. Their lack of logic is both sad and amusing.

Bruce said...

Just one question...would the perps on the bleachers be wired up in series or in parallel?

Jay G said...


Thank you. I was particularly pleased with how this came out.


Exactly. Every time I see some anti-gun group compare GUN violence between the US and Japan it makes my head hurt. Notice they never compare suicide rates between the two countries?


220, 440 whatever it takes...

dn said...

I read Christina's blog and her post pointed me your way.

I'm a pro gun-control liberal, but I wanted to thank you for well-written "opposition" view. I think you make many excellent points about the fact that we as a species will always find a way to kill one another whether it's with a knife, a gun, or a baseball bat.

Having said that, I still don't agree.

-Having a gun in the home triples the risk of a homicide in the home

-In 2006, approximately the same number of people were killed in the US as soldiers were killed in the entire Korean War

Personally I wouldn't let my child play at the house of a peer whose parents had a gun in the home.

I think there are multiple issues going on and that the left (which I am part of, certainly) is naive in saying that gun control is the easy solution to a much harder problem. I also think Silver is right to say that comparing the US and Japan (or Sweden or Canada, etc) is comparing apples and oranges. You do need to take population size into account and adjust for that. Culture is an indefinable X factor that will also skew results.

Having said that, I think it's naive to say that gun control is a failed pointless experiment. We *DO* have a higher gun violence rate than any other country in the world...what exactly is causing that? If it's cultural, what is the cause and how do we change it? It is also true that no ordinary citizen needs to own a rocket launcher.

BobG said...

"-Having a gun in the home triples the risk of a homicide in the home"

Based on what? I've seen no statistics that show that.

"-In 2006, approximately the same number of people were killed in the US as soldiers were killed in the entire Korean War"

Of gunshot deaths, most of them were suicide, which is not dependent on the tool used.

"We *DO* have a higher gun violence rate than any other country in the world...what exactly is causing that?"

You are concentrating too much on the tool, and not on the violence itself.

Worrying about the tool used in a murder is like worrying whether a rapist was circumsized or not; it doesn't matter.

jimbob86 said...

dn- What you are ignoring is the plain fact that some people need to be killed, and a gun is the best way for a privite citizen to do that. What the arguement boils down to is that the left insists that only Gubmint, if anyone at all, may kill. They want consensus, due process, negotiations...... there is no time for all that bs when John Q. Public's door is being kicked in by Karl Crackhead & Co. at 3 AM. The pro-gun crowd says that John should be able to have the best tools to defend him and his by any means necessary, while the anti-gun crowd says John is not a Policeman, and should wait for help from them. This is America, or used to be, and we are not about calling for help. We are about sizing up the situation and doing what needs to be done.

....It boils down to THIS: The left does not trust our judgement to run our own affairs, and thinks it is Government's main job to look out for us. That isn't the America I grew up in: It is YOUR job to look out for YOU, and leave me the hell alone. Up until I harm someone else, you and the Government just do that, and everybody's happy...... except the Government and all those busybodies that want to use it as a goad to get EVERYBODY to do what they think is right, or a club to beat upon those who ignore the goad.

Go read Marko Kloos' excellent "Why the Gun Is Civilization", and see if you can get back to us on how gun control is a good idea, wih a straight face.

Jay G said...

Which is exactly the point I was making, thanks Bob.

Roughly half of all gun deaths are suicides. Do you seriously think that thousands of people are simply going to stop trying to off themselves? People who use firearms for suicide are those intent on dying, very rarely are they the "call for attention" type.

As for the "higher gun violence rate", the US also has one of the most heterogeneous populations out there. We've got lots of folks who just plain don't get along.

Would you prefer hundreds of thousands of machete deaths like in many parts of Africa?

Dead is dead, no matter what the tool used. Assuming that removing the gun from the equation will mean a cessation of the violence is pollyannaish at best and outright dangerous at worst.

It's part of living in a free society. Freedom entails responsibility; actions have consequences.

No, thank you, I'll cling to my guns.

Anonymous said...

Very well said sir...


Bill said...

I'm going to take issue with you on a few points Jay, though as you know I am pretty well absolutist on the fundamental human right of self defense and the means to that defense.

"But gun control - the unwavering belief that all we need to do to make all the violence and bad things in the world go away is to ban all guns"
I don't think even the wackos at the Brady Center make such a transparently silly argument. They argue that the number of deaths would go down. I agree it would, though that's not remotely enough reason to surrender the ability to defend myself against a larger, stronger or illegally armed opponent.

Gun control doesn't work for the U.S. BOTH because we are a violent culture and always have been, AND because absent 100% confiscation it's a waste of time. (Even then it wouldn't be many years before the supply of guns from Mexico rose to meet criminal demand...prohibition has never worked).

I'll happily concede the point that if you magically disappeared all privately held firearms from the U.S. the murder rate would go down by a few percentage points and the suicide rate might be slightly affected. But since we know that's never going to happen, what's the point?

Gun control is an all or nothing proposition. Either you ban, confiscate and criminalize with severe penalties all private possession or don't even bother.
At least a call for a total ban is logical, if wrongheaded. The half-measures being touted by most of the anti's and "sensible gun-control laws" don't even have the virtue of being serious. -They don't have a prayer of having a measurable effect.

The Anti-gun people make so many foolish claims (the X-times likelier to kill someone in your house number is one such, and no such claim has ever stood up to a peer review process) that we don't need to do much other than simply show the facts, consistently and calmly. The facts on gun control in the U.S. are overwhelmingly clear to anyone with access to accurate information; It's been tried and tried and has never had a measurable effect on crime.

I don't need to use a straw-man argument to take on a logically indefensible position.

"A baseball bat, knife, or wooden board can be used to murderous ends"

It's silly to argue that if you're bound and determined to kill someone you can do it with a toaster. The practicality of killing me with a toaster or baseball bat is a lot less than the practicality of shooting me. Next time we're at the range you can bring your toaster and try to whack me with it more than once. Good luck, I run fast.

I'm perfectly willing to concede that a firearm in the hands of someone who is violent makes them vastly more dangerous than if they only had a knife.

I'm perfectly happy to concede it because aside from the fact that it's a true statement, it adds nothing to the pro gun-control argument because no law you can pass will actually affect that person's possession of the gun.
Gun control has never been shown to keep guns out of the hands of criminals intent on obtaining a firearm. At best it makes it a little more inconvenient or somewhat more expensive to break the law. That's it.

We're on the same side, but us folks in the gun-rights movement will get further taking the anti's claims at face value and trashing them as the inherently illogical claims they are and by showing how the laws they like have proven to be ineffective.

Making our own silly arguments to refute their silly arguments doesn't help the cause.

dn said...

The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home

Kellermann, AL, Rivara, FP, Rushforth NB, et al. "Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home." N Engl J Med. 1993;329:1084-1091.

The New England Journal of Medicine isn't exactly a tool of the left.

Just saying...

Regolith said...

Oh god, not that study again...

You know what else that "study" found (it's hard to call something that cherrypicked data a "study")? Your risk of dying went up nearly twice as much if you lived in an apartment than if you owned a gun.

Maybe we should start outlawing apartment complexes...

Jim said...

Wasn't Kellerman the professor who lost tenure over publishing such a professionaly corrupt study?

If memory serves, he fought disclosing his source data and methodology for years, and when he finally was forced to give it up, even liberal academia (redundancy alert), ejected him for his extreme dishonesty.

You mean THAT study?

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Mopar said...

You mean the totally debunked and withdrawn Kellerman study?

Midwest Chick said...

Linking to this. Found you via Men are not Potatoes. Wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a middle ground?

Can't we, say, allow guns in the home for protection, but then outlaw them in urban areas?

Why must gun control be an "all or nothing" proposition?

As society grows and becomes more complex, why can't we see the need to regulate behavior in some contexts?

200 years ago, it would have made no sense for anyone to pass public urination laws, or legislate how pet droppings would be handled, etc.

But now, there are good reasons such laws are necessary to ensure a civil society is possible in dense urban areas.

I'm for gun control, but I'm fine with people owning licensed firearms and keeping them in their homes for defense purposes. I just wish they'd leave them at home and handle personal disputes with calm rationality and mercy.

As far as Jay's post, I actually agree with most of it. The guns are not the problem. The attitudes and poor social skills are a much greater part of the equation.

Of course, I also think that's true of most cases of terrorism (that personal problems and social inequalities are a greater threat than access to airplanes or liquids).

Anonymous said...

No, we can't allow them in the home and outlaw them in urban areas! My right to defend my life (YK, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness thing.) does NOT stop when I leave my home. I also feel an obligation to be prepared to defend the lives of my loved ones! It makes me happy to exercise the liberty to defend my life and that of those for whom I care.

Anonymous said...

Well, the problem is that when you leave your home, you enter society. On your property, I believe your preferences and rights outweigh the needs of others (within reason).

But when you enter an urban area (another community's culture, another group's set of desires, needs and living conditions), your preferences can add to the problems in their culture.

As the famous mantra goes (look it up for source): "My right to swing my fist ends at the bridge of another's nose."

I've long thought the reason that gun control is such a fragmented issue is because the advocates on both sides live in such different climates. A citizen of Chicago will have a vastly different view of the purpose of a gun than a citizen of rural Kentucky (not to mention different cultural values). And both views are valid and should be considered.

But societies do have the right to regulate public space for the benefit for all (or even merely the the majority of those who live there).

So, circumstances matter. Individual rights must be balanced with the needs of a society. Otherwise, we have anarchy (or feudalism at best).