Discussion in 'The Sanctum Santorum' started by Gabe Lewis, Dec 14, 2012.
Why do you think that?
Jason I'm honestly curious how you get from "The relationship between firearm availability and violent crime is complex" to "We should not do anything about firearm safety."
Oh, it's just a vague feeling he has.
??? There was actually a guy here who tried that a few years ago. Ripped out a Katana in department store and ran amok. Got exactly one person - himself, injured when he tried to commit suicide after futilely trying to catch anyone. People tend to run away when someone tries to kill them. And since it was deemed of only little news value he didn't even get a headline.
Edit: And just since it bugs me - stop going for the bombing angle. It is idiotic. Yes, in principle it is possible to build bombs at home. But you are wandering a very fine line between blowing yourself up/poisoning yourself by accident, and getting a not-working results. On that fine line is your bomb. Amateurs might succeed, sure. But to just assume that anyone with enough will to commit mass murder will be a success story in safely building homemade bombs is just plain stupid. The majority will not, and quite a few will fail disastrously, removing themselves from the equation. Hell, even trained professionals run a risk screwing around with explosives, and they will generally start with ideal working conditions and materials. Fertilizer is not ideal material to build TNT !
There's really no point to arguing this.
It's plain simple that guns are better tools for mass killings - it's why every army in the world use them.
All evidence points to the easy access to guns being a major factor in the death toll of these incidents. Jason cannot find examples of people killing these number of people in a short time using axes, cars or home made bombs because they don't exist.
Fire might be a more deadly tool in the mass murderers arsenal, but fire is also much harder to regulate (but we still try). And like with cars, fire and propellants has a greater utility besides being used as a weapon, so even though it's deadly we kinda still want it around.
I absolutely agree - also with the rest of your post, of course. Generally I stay out of discussion like these, exactly for that reason. But this time I got suckered in, ah well. By the way, Jason - one more thing. You do realize that sane governments also keep tabs on chemicals that are potentially useful for actually building bombs ? There are few suppliers for sufficiently pure chemicals (for example Sigma-Aldrich, if you are curious), and they will document and possibly forward highly suspicious orders to respective agencies. Pure self-preservation, no company wants to be known as the guys who were responsible for that blown up elementary school. Curiously enough gun salesmen do not seem to have the same ethic.
Edit: Damn, did it again. Sorry, will stay out of this now. Better for my peace of mind.
Haha great! So the next time someone goes on a violent murder rampage with a gun (and there WILL be a next time) we have all we need to prepare a powerpoint presentation on why they were stupid to pick up a gun to do it with!
"Haha," the people will shout, "doesn't that murderous madman shooting hundreds of rounds into the crowd have ANY idea that, statistically, he could do a better job with a mixture of knives, explosives, and a good stout stick? What a fucking N00B! AH! I've been shot! What a not statistically ideal way to die!"
Yes, and they're not as easy to acquire, but it still happens.
US culture is in love with violence. If you think our media is a reflection of what people want - which I do, rather than a driver of what the public wants - then the public apparently craves a diet of stories where unjust situations are resolved by violence - usually by vigalentes. We don't trust the government to create justice, and we only sort of trust our friends, family, and insitutitions, but we apparently trust our individual selves quite a bit.
Then, throw in our unique faith that our situation was consciously created by someone, either ourselves or someone else. We don't believe in luck; if you work hard, you get ahead. If you don't, you don't. What happens when we do work hard, but don't get ahead? Well, that must be someone is actively working against us.
It's not a very long jump from that sort of mindset to "something bad has happened to me, even though it's unjust" to "someone did this to me" to "the solution to this problem is to kill them" being behind our murder rates. This also has the neat effect of explaining our deep and abiding love of blowing up foreigners with the military; something went wrong? Shoot them.
I don't, I've said no such thing. People are making specific claims that I don't think are supported. The models being suggested are wrong, and policies derived from those models are going to be wrong. If you want to reduce mass killings, and killings more generally, you need to work with them as they actually happen.
From a strictly practical perspective, even if you postulate that guns are the biggest factor, there is virtually no political viability for the foreseeable future on the issue; firearm advocates have overwhelmingly won. If you want to reduce the murder rate you're going to need to think of alternative ways.
Just to bullshit up some scenarios, if mass killings are driven by working age males with depression or grievances, set up mandatory, strict screening programs for them. Sure, it's a horrible police-state style thing to do, but that ship has sailed; if your problem is crazy, go deal with the crazy. It's expensive, but go ahead and make schools and public places armed camps if you think it'll work. The US public wants revenge fantasies, just give them the consequences.
Less evilly, it'd be nice if there was an organized campaign to change attitudes.
Yet, those same shows and movies are also the most popular forms of entertainment in most of the parts of the world where we don't have the same murder rates.
You're the one making claims and constructing fancy explanations in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
It might be that all the statistics linked aren't the perfect or complete explanation on a very complex issue, but they're still a damn sight better than your gut feelings and home spun philosophy.
Well that's all very interesting, but I don't see what that has to do with this:
And I certainly don't see what American self-reliance has to do with deranged people shooting up an elementary school.
Oh god the irony...
You'd have to tease apart "overwhelming market dominance for US entertainment" on that one, I'm not sure how it'd work. Exclude the triple-AAA kill fists - across generes, near as I can tell French-produced domestic films have nothing like the violence attitudes of US ones.
Alex, my theory is that the US murder rate is driven by how we so very often want to kill someone more than the mechanics of the killing. Conflicts or random events that elsewhere would be resolved through negotiation, letting it go, or government policies turn into personal grievances here.
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but for the non-random shootings but I gather the schools are usually just where the primary target of the grudge happens to be located or related to. It doesn't look like we know enough about this incident yet.
Jason how would you even begin falsifying your theory?
Well that might be your theory on murder rates generally, but like a half hour ago you were arguing about mass killing deaths in particular, and saying that the "desire rate" is the most important factor:
As far as "People are making specific claims that I don't think are supported" that one takes the cake.
And none of the stuff you are saying is even a little bit back up by anything then your gut feeling. So I don't see how you are in any position to complain about the claims of others.
It's sociology, hell if I know. International attitudes towards conflict resolution? Long-term drifts on stuff like "others are likely to take advantage of me" correlated to the murder rate? I recall LK linked a paper a while back with huge gaps on that question. Just because it's not easily testable doesn't mean it's not true.
By contrast, if something is easily testable and you find a set of very contradictary data points you have to adjust your confidence interval. Like, say, Russia having 10% the US gun ownership rate and 250% the murders - or the US having double the murder rate of Germany just in knives - puts a real limit on how much guns can explain the overall murder rate.
You're really asking us to do a lot of work to disprove your pet theory.
Oh, I see...
That's ridiculous. No one has ever said that guns are the only thing that affects the murder rate. I'm sure the effectiveness of government, the general crime rate, unemployment, etc, are all also connected to the the murder rate. Pointing to a country with lower gun ownership but higher murder rate only shows that guns are not the only thing that affects murder rates; it has no ability to tell us anything thing about the degree to which gun ownership impacts murder rates when other factors are controlled for.
I'm not asking you to believe it or not, I just think it's the most plausible one out there, largely because I haven't seen anything that would directly contradict it, and it could fill the hole.
I personally don't give a shit about guns in of themselves, other than occasionally wondering if I need to do one to defend myself. I don't, because I'd probably just accidentally shoot someone or something.
All the other major ones (income, guns, inequality) contribute in some way, but even with the most deterministic spin on them it still leaves the bulk of the murder rate gap unexplained. I do find it irritating to see liberals across-the-board immediatelly jump on the solution that's 1) most politically difficult 2) hardest to convince anyone on 3) at best explains something like 20% of the murder rate. It's just a waste of time, money, and political influence.
The people of Oklahoma City would disagree with you that people don't use homemade explosives to kill large numbers of people.
I have a lower confidence interval of the consequences of the guns correlated to violence studies than you, but it sounds like waybe we aren't disagreeing all that much then.
Given that, do you actually think advocating for gun control is the most effective way of reducing the US murder rate? I see it as the lowest ROI option out there.
..does not equal less potential for fatalities/incidents how ? And why on earth do you omit where I point out that amateurs more than likely will blow themselves up even with pure chemicals ?
Quite frankly you are arguing in a profoundly dishonest matter. You quote mine, ignore counter arguments and information sources without giving any reason and you shift goal posts. Basic concepts of the interpretation of correlation and outliers obviously elude you. The idea how to ascertain where the burden of proof lies apparently is alien to you. People who act like you are the reason that I generally find political discussion online worthless. You are at best moronic, at worst willfully dishonest.
Well, it's good to see we're all honest searchers for the truth here.
Jason is many things, not all of them good, but even I wouldn't call him 'willfully dishonest'.
For once I agree with Brett.
Stubborn and lazy would be my picks in this thread.
Maybe it's not fair, but once Jason began his participation in this thread with "I'm surprised how much of a reaction this has gotten from the public compared to the other mass shootings. I guess it's somehow worse if it's a bunch of kids who get mowed down." I was pretty certain that his take on this matter was going to be a bit off.
Not necessarily. In econometric terms, in our "Murders as a function of...." model it's entirely plausible for the coefficient for GunAvailability to be large and significant and also to have other variables with even bigger coefficients. Off the top of my head, Russia has a level of organized crime and institutional corruption that's off the charts relative to the U.S; that might plausibly explain the differences.
I don't think anyone would argue that there isn't more than one thing contributing to the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States, or our overall disturbingly high homicide rate. The problem is that you (and others) are taking that as a reason to simply not address gun safety issues at all. That's a really strange way of going about things, and it's pretty much just a play straight from the NRA playbook.
Yeah, that wording struck me as well. Spoken like a true robot.
I know it's impossible to reply to this, but here goes. Gun deaths equal Oklahoma City's death toll every two days. You have one example from 17 years ago. Keep going.
I was simply countering the person who said people using homemade explosives to kill large numbers of people don't exist. And that is not the only case.
Based on what? Am I supposed to be wildly upset after living through dozens of these things, because this time has kids? I feel terribly for everyone involved, but after a while continual strings of mass death events stop having the same level of emotional impact. I'm honestly amazed to see how much everyone freaked; I intellectually know how much Americans special-case children, but it's still hard to grasp.
That's mean I mean about effectiveness - if you postulate a big gun effect based on the studies, it's still not big enough to justify the overwhelming focus the left has on it.
If you want to address gun safety, go for it; there's lot of interesting options. I'm just responding to the opinions expressed upthread along the lines of "clearly guns are the reason the US murder rate is so high", which is unsupported, and "clearly the solution is to lower the number of guns in the US", which even if you postulate effectivenss is about as politically effective as setting $100 on fire. It's not going to happen any more than a guarenteed minimum income. The gun focus seems to be cultural war thing more than a practical solution.
So, in choosing between the following two possible explanations for why we have more mass killings in American than the rest of the world:
a) Americans have a fundamentally different psychological makeup than everyone else; or
b) Americans have far easier access not only to firearms in general, but also firearms that are particularly well-suited to killing lots of people in a very short amount of time
You find a) to be inherently more plausible as a matter of logic? I'm sorry, but in the absence of some substantial evidence as to a), I find b) to be a vastly simpler and more palatable theory.
It might be helpful if you separated your arguments a bit more clearly. You're being uncharacteristically sloppy. :)
You're asserting this without a trace of evidence. You've identified a lot of cultural factors that plausibly contribute to the high homicide rate in the US. Stuff like our culture loving violence, etc, etc. I agree those are all probably contributing factors. What fantasy land are you in where addressing our overall independent culture is easier than taking sensible safety measures? (which measures, to be fair, have yet to be determined).
You've worked about four separate ideas into this paragraph. It may be the case that concrete gun safety measures aren't going to be politically viable. They'll definitely not be viable if people like you dismiss them out of hand.
As far as "which is unsupported": My (admittedly limited) reading on the subject doesn't convince me that it's unsupported, only that a) the evidence is mixed and b) almost all of the studies done on the subject are piss poor. I'm sure there are good data-driven econometric studies that try to tease out the degree to which homicide (and violent crimes in general) depend on gun availability; but I'll be damned if I've ever seen them. Mostly you see a few contra cases (Vermont!) used as a rhetorical ploy to dismiss the entire concept, which isn't particularly useful if we're trying to have a grown-up conversation on the subject. Personal anecdote, take with however much salt you like: a sociology prof I conversed with on this subject last year said - off the top of his head - that there was statistical evidence for gun availability being a determinant of the homicide rate, and that the reason it's "unsupported" is because the NRA spends a lot of money making sure it ends up being perceived as such.
As far as it being a culture war thing; there's certainly an element of that going on as well. Mostly I just ignore it and try to focus on more tangible things.
This is where you're making a major mistake. Your a) or b) is a false choice; there is no reason it can't be both (in fact it likely is).
Yes, Jason, based on twenty six and seven year old children being slaughtered. I'm sorry for you if that's hard for you to grasp.
I don't think it's reasonable to expect everyone to be wildly upset at mass death events. Some of us are too busy being wildly upset at homicide/violent death rates in general. Events like these are just the cherries on top of the impotent, steam-coming-out-of-the-ears-in-rage Sundae for me, at least.
Ah, you caught me - I was going to add a postscript to that effect, but that was the dichotomy that Jason was suggesting. If we have to pick one proximate cause to address, it seems to me b) is much more amenable to analysis, understanding, and reasonable modification.
For what it's worth I agree; even with 300mn guns floating around the United States, coming up with safety measures to try and ensure they aren't used to murder lots of people seems like a much more productive path than "change 250+ y.o. cult(ure) of individuality"
Right, and that's why you burst into tears every single time you read a news story of a child getting killed, right? Desensitization simply doesn't happen. All I'm saying is that I've gotten used to it, and based on events before this I thought the country had too. I guess not, if it's kids.
It's more that "guns drive violence" is unsupported. That after controlling for everything under the sun, gun ownership rates are correlated with murder rates seems straightforward; the studies seem to show that. The driver isn't very straightforward, though
1. The firepower goes up, so the existing baseline murders should be more lethal.
2. Does the attempted murder rate change due to weapon convenience, or some trust effect on society?
3. Does the self-defense function outweigh any of these?
4. Does it matter that murders are so overwhelmingly geographically and demographically concentrated in some way? Does the driver differ?
All of these are a plausible story, but I don't think anyone's produced a good way to tease out the three. Even if you look at historical changes in gun ownership vs. murder rates for a given area and demographic it still doesn't the answer the question of which is driving which.
It's worked pretty well for racism.
I am not confident at all in how much effect gun-focused solutions will have on the mass murder rate, because I can't imagine for the life of me something plausible that will keep these guys from getting them. Sure looks like all it takes is one gun in, say, the three month fugue.
I'm virtually certain LK has mentioned this before, but this study imputes a statistically significant relationship between the rate of firearm ownership and the homicide rate. I had a look at the model and - assuming their data is good - it looks valid.
Certainly these are plausible things that merit further study. What they're not: reasons to dismiss the issue out of hand, the way you came in here and did.
One thing I'd model, if I had the data / time / more interest than it takes to spout off on the internet: to what degree does firearm availability predict domestic homicides. Shooting from the hip here (heh), but that seems like it might help control for stuff like organized crime, war on drugs, &c. stuff. Imagine we find that there's a strongly negative, statistically significant relationship there. That would give us a pretty plausible story of the availability of firearms causing domestic violence to escalate to homicide, which story I think could be plausibly generalized to any kind of violent conflict.
Separate names with a comma.