Monday, June 7, 2010

Response to KBFC, part 2

OK, as promised, here is my response to some of the many points that were raised towards the end of the earlier thread on gun control.

6 Kings said -

I would bet that having some of us armed citizens as neighbors and friends would give you an idea how this worldview you have is skewed.

Well, that all rather depends on whether one of them does a Derrick Bird and turns his weapons on his neighbours and friends. These incidents involving legal gun-owners may be rare but the fact that they stubbornly keep happening poses a significant problem for your whole argument. Even worse, Bird was by all accounts a fairly decent, rational person until very close to this incident. Tragedy only ensued because he snapped while in legal possession of deadly weapons.

What it seems to boil down to is that you fear people and no matter what circumstances are, keeping people unarmed allows you to feel safe.

I'm delighted that you have such a rosy view of human nature, which begs the obvious question - if people are essentially trustworthy, who do you need the gun to defend yourself against? It's clearly surplus to requirements - throw it away, man, it's far too heavy to be lugging around on a hot day.

There is no endangerment of fellow citizens. Where do you get this information? Do you think that normal people get around a weapon and suddenly murderous thoughts occur? More people carry every day and there continues to be fewer and fewer incidents of crime and an infinitesimal number of permit holders that are in trouble with the law. You have no basis for this other than your 'feelings' and Hollywood movies.

Don't take this personally, but I've always much preferred European cinema to Hollywood films, so you're on the wrong track there. My 'information' is derived from indisputable fact - that three massacres have occurred in the UK in the last twenty-five years, and that all three have been perpetrated with legally-owned firearms. There's actually no mystery about why this would be the case - as previously mentioned, the most dangerous scenario of all is when an ordinary person snaps very suddenly, in a wholly unanticipated way. If the law can make it less likely that such a person will have the means to kill at that crucial moment, the law can save lives.

Missed by a mile. Nothing can guarantee equality of outcome. Show me how equality of opportunity puts the weakest in a worse position? That isn't logical. There are hundreds of stories that show this to be false and you have nothing to stand on with this statement.

And I can present you with one very big story that demonstrates my point eloquently - nothing less than the national story of your own country. The most meritocratic country in the world, and yet with some of the most shocking and disgraceful inequalities in the western democratic world. You're right, nothing can literally guarantee equality of outcome, but that doesn't mean it's not an ideal we shouldn't be striving to get as close to as practicably possible (especially when it comes to something as important as public safety) - equality of opportunity simply doesn't do the trick, and never has done.

Not everyone, you have shown this yourself, wants to arm themselves. That is perfectly fine but forcing disarmament for those that are comfortable and want/need that security is terrible, especially because your 'feel' it is better that way.

And this simply highlights the importance of my previous point - the 'equality of opportunity' that some people will take up of owning a gun will create a much greater 'inequality of outcome', ie. a much more dangerous world in which more weak and vulnerable people are in fear and peril.

Nate : You keep talking about how important it is that people feel safe. Feeling safe and being safe are two very different things; you can feel blissfully safe in a very dangerously erroneous manner, and you can be terrified of perceived danger that doesn't exist.

You've been very good about answering my hypothetical questions, and I thank you earnestly for that. I'd like to ask another. Purely hypothetically, and assuming that you could have only one, which would you prefer, feeling safe or being safe?


The straight answer is being safe, but of course it's a wholly false choice and both are vitally important in a civilised society. Frankly, it would be a bit hard to claim that the other side in this argument are not themselves preoccupied with 'feeling' as well as objectively being more safe - we constantly hear about the feeling of security and empowerment that carrying a gun bestows.

But your postulate is that more guns equals more crime, right? So then, as we here in the United States amass even more guns year by year (around the order of 12 million annually), our levels of crime should rise, no? Since we now have millions and millions more guns than we did in, say, 1980, then we should have a higher level of crime now than we did then, right?

My guess would be that there's a saturation point beyond which having even more guns around can't really make matters much worse. And, yes, I do say guess - unlike Kevin Baker and several others I have never had the conceit to say my 'philosophy' is literally provable beyond all doubt. It's an observation I've made before, but if a neutral in this debate were to witness a no-holds-barred exchange consisting of nothing but detailed statistics, the only conclusion they'd come to is that neither side is capable of scientifically and definitively proving their case by statistical means - there are too many variables at play in the numbers. People will jump one way or the other based on common sense and force of argument, and I do think from a UK perspective our relatively low gun crime rate as compared to the US does for most people amply demonstrate the wisdom of our much stricter laws.

Last, and in every sense least, I turn again to 'The Happy Rampager' -

Simple. Because you didn't answer the question I put to you. You know, the one about whether, in the face of the clear failure of banning guns for self-protection, you would rather any of the victims would have used a gun to stop Bird from killing them, or whether you would rather they died because it's more important to you that they be disarmed.

You didn't answer because your answer would have been the latter. It's more important that people be disarmed, and if their disarmament leads to their death, you couldn't give a s***.


Congratulations on a landslide victory in the Stupid Comment Of The Week Award. This was an instance of disarmament leading to death, was it? Remind me - at what point was Derrick Bird disarmed of the legally-owned weapons with which he went on to kill twelve people?

59 comments:

Nate said...

My guess would be that there's a saturation point beyond which having even more guns around can't really make matters much worse.

First of all, if this is the case, how do you explain the fact that gun homicide is actually falling in the US? I will again point you to this graph for proof that gun homicide is falling here while the number of guns is rising. "can't really make matters much worse" is a pretty funny way to say "improving".

The corollary to your point that more guns = more gun crime (even if there's a "saturation point") is that we should still observe that as the number of guns in the UK goes down, gun crime would correspondingly decrease as well, right? Has gun crime been falling in the UK as gun control has been tightening and the number of guns is falling?

(Hint: no)

We have already established that gun control makes you (and many other people) feel safe, and its legislative proponents have long promised that it will herald greater public safety. But if gun crime has not fallen during this time, then what we have is a classic example of people who are made to feel more safe while their actual safety has been decreasing. That's what I'm talking about: with more gun control, you were promised a greater absolute level of safety, but you haven't gotten it, and yet you still defend the laws that failed to bring it about and in fact call for even more of them in the hope that they will solve the problem that previous ones failed to.

tris said...

Do we have less gun crime proportionate to population than the USA?

It certinaly seems like it.

Nate said...

Tris: If that's true internationally, then shouldn't it also be true intra-nationally? If we added guns to the UK, then your hypothesis dictates that violence would increase, no? So why then does violence in the U.S. fall as guns are added but in the U.K. it rises as guns are subtracted?

James Kelly said...

Nate, you're leaping to highly dubious conclusions, and this is a very good example of the problems with statistics that I was talking about. I think most people would agree that the UK is a less safe place to live in that it was thirty years ago - but in my view that problem would be worse still if we hadn't banned handguns in 1997, for instance. What you are implying presumably is that the ban has made matters worse rather than better, but how do your statistics even begin to prove that? How can you establish that the ban is the culprit, rather than any or all of the other variables that might be responsible for pushing the rate of violence up?

Weer'd Beard said...

If that's your response, how can you claim the ban is effective then?

James Kelly said...

I've already explained that - because it's reasonable to assume the rate of gun crime would be higher still had the ban not been implemented.

Nate said...

It is impossible to know what gun crime might have been had the ban not been passed into law. Furthermore, laws are evaluated on the basis of whether or not they had the desired effect. Your politicians said, "This will reduce crime to below its rate today." They notably did not say "this will slow the increase in gun crime." That would have been a very disappointing and defeatist promise indeed.

Do you see the difference? If the gun crime rate is X, the former is a promise that the gun crime will be lower than X, while the latter is a promise that gun crime will be X + Y rather than X + Z, with Y being smaller than Z.

Politicians promise laws that will make things better than they are today, not worsening at a lower rate. You are arguing that the latter is acceptable. We are arguing that the former is actually happening in our country.

James Kelly said...

Same principle applies, Nate - where is the evidence that it's specifically the liberalisation of gun laws that has helped?

Your politicians said, "This will reduce crime to below its rate today."

Do you have any hard examples of that? It would be surprising indeed if they had offered such reckless hostages to fortune.

Weer'd Beard said...

And what's the relevance of "gun crime". How can you claim somebody killed or assaulted by knife, or fists, or clubs, ect is somehow superior to somebody who is assaulted or killed with a gun?

Nate said...

How about this?
"Home Office Minister Alun Michael said the ban was a "major step towards improving public safety."

He said it would improve public safety, not make it deteriorate more slowly. Has public safety improved since 1997?

Do you see the difference? If crime increases, but more slowly, it has not decreased; it has in fact increased. An increase in crime compared to 1997 means that the law has failed to bring about what was intended; if you are promised that a law will decrease crime, it's foul to declare success upon witnessing merely a fall in the rate of worsening!

Again, my country is seeing a real, honest-to-God decrease in crime why you're trying to claim that getting worse more slowly is good enough.

James Kelly said...

Nate, that's very vaguely worded, and it's a classic politician's statement that they can interpret whichever way they like several years down the road. If he'd been making the claim you suggest, he'd have set specific benchmarks - ie. "this ban will reduce gun crime by X within X years". The Labour government made plenty of those more meaningful pledges - to reduce child poverty by 50% within twenty years, for example.

As an aside, I'm sure Alun Michael will be thrilled that Kevin is so determined to enhance his legacy - until now his only place in history has been his catastrophic brief reign as leader of the Welsh Labour Party!

James Kelly said...

Weer'd Beard - And what's the relevance of "gun crime". How can you claim somebody killed or assaulted by knife, or fists, or clubs, ect is somehow superior to somebody who is assaulted or killed with a gun?

I don't - it's a separate issue, that's all. I also support strong action against knives.

Weer'd Beard said...

What about sticks, pipes, steel-toed boots, hands, feet?

How deep does your totalitarian rabbit hole go, James?

What's your stance on humanity's discovery of fire?

Nate said...

So, what did you expect to happen when the ban was passed? in 1997, would you have been content with gun crime worsening, albeit more slowly? Or were you hoping that it would actually decrease? Would you be disappointed to learn that it was going to be worse in 2010 than it was in 1997?

You still haven't addressed my point that you're trying desperately to claim victory in a situation that is at best worsening more slowly, while my country is actually seeing its situation improve while doing the opposite of what you want done by buying more guns and loosening gun control laws.

Also, I'm not Kevin.

James Kelly said...

Nate, I know you're not Kevin, but I was assuming that's who led you to the Alun Michael quote, because he's referred to it many, many times before. Apologies if I was wrong.

I remember the period after Dunblane very well, and the main motivating factor behind the ban was to make that specific sort of tragedy less likely to happen.

Oh, and it's scarcely 'desperately' trying to claim victory when you live in a country overloaded with guns and a homicide rate more than two-and-a-half times higher than here. To the extent that statistics are meaningful at all in this debate, it's your side of the argument that's on the back foot, not mine.

James Kelly said...

Weer'd - Remarkable though it may sound, yes I do actually believe in fire being kept under control. You don't?

Nate said...

Again, what of the fact that we're doing the opposite of what you want by buying more guns and increasing people's ability to carry them, yet the result is exactly what you do want—a lessening of crime and gun violence? No reaction to that bizarre coincidence?

James Kelly said...

No, Nate, you're running away with yourself, and I've already pointed out the reason why. You are in no position to assert that "the result" of more guns in society has been a lower rate of violence. It's not a question of me attributing it to "bizarre coincidence", it's the very simple principle that correlation is not causation.

In the last ten years, I have eaten less ham, and sea levels have risen. Did one cause the other? Possible, but unlikely.

Nate said...

But you certainly correlate the two. I'll quote you:

the point is if everyone does that, and you suddenly have millions upon millions of guns sloshing around, you increase the number of gun attacks that occur in the first place

That sounds an awful lot like you're correlating gun crime and gun possession. If more guns correlates to more gun crime in the U.K., then it should in the U.S. as well. If it doesn't in the U.S. and the two could be totally decoupled from one another for all we know, then it shouldn't in the U.K. either. Which one is it? Will more guns in the U.K. lead to more crime? If yes, then why hasn't that happened in the U.S?

James Kelly said...

In actual fact, you haven't demonstrated that it hasn't, Nate. My view is that there is less gun crime than there would have been had the handgun ban not been implemented. It is equally arguable - I'm not claiming it is the case, merely arguable - that the gum crime rate in America is currently higher than it would have been if the number of guns around had fallen instead of risen. It is perfectly conceivable that the many other variables at play were suppressing the rate of gun crime, and could have done so at a faster rate had more legal restrictions been in place.

Nate said...

You're merely guessing at both of these things. You believe that the handgun ban has been effective in lowering the increase in crime and you believe that our crime rate would have dropped faster if there were fewer guns, but these are impossible to know or prove. How can one propose restrictions on human freedom on the basis of unknowable, unprovable hypotheses?

I believe that a restriction on human freedom must be accompanied by a damn good reason and lots of evidence that it's necessary. I believe that without those reasons and that evidence, we must err on the side of liberty. This is the philosophy of modern criminal justice systems: innocent until proven guilty.

I subscribe to this philosophy when it comes to rights: legal until proven too dangerous. If you can't prove that guns are too dangerous, then you don't get to ban them, just like if you can't prove that a man is guilty, you don't get to imprison him.

I don't need to prove that guns decrease crime, any more than a man accused of a crime has to prove his innocence.

James Kelly said...

I'd turn your central question on its head - how can a society collectively (and the bans were collective democratic decisions) put itself at unnecessary risk on the basis of unknowable, unprovable (and frankly rather implausible) hypotheses? Dunblane was an atrocity carried out by a man who owned handguns legally. Once people saw that such an incident can and does happen, the burden of making the case switched the other way. Thomas Hamilton had no need to own handguns, they were for his own pleasure only, they weren't necessary for his line of work. A very, very convincing argument was going to have to be made against a ban, and it simply didn't materialise.

Nate said...

I'm going to assume you'll agree that "innocent until proven guilty" is a sensible approach in criminal justice. So what's wrong with holding other actions to the same standard? Why should the burden of proof be with the individual rather than the government? Why is it so objectionable to demand that the government conclusively prove that a human action is too dangerous to be left legal before it can ban it?

I suspect you'll offer up mass shootings as that evidence, but incidents such as Dunblane and Cumbria offer no more proof that gun ownership is too dangerous to be left legal than a series of arsons would prove that matches are too dangerous to be left legal. Social policy can't be hijacked by isolated tragic occurrences, no matter how heart-rending they are, and only three mass shootings in 25 years certainly qualifies as "isolated" if anything at all is worthy of the term! After all, drunk drivers commit horrific and gut-wrenching acts manslaughter every day, and that isn't enough to get cars banned.

James Kelly said...

"Why should the burden of proof be with the individual rather than the government?"

It wasn't the government so much as society as a whole effectively taking that decision. With a Conservative government in power in 1996, the ban wouldn't have been implemented without that massive groundswell of opinion.

After all, drunk drivers commit horrific and gut-wrenching acts manslaughter every day, and that isn't enough to get cars banned.

But cars have on obvious (and massive) benefit to society. Handguns are so superfluous in doing anything other than killing (leaving aside the issue of elite sport which was the main controversy) that even if only a small number of lives could be saved through a ban it was hard to see an argument against taking that opportunity.

Nate said...

But cars have on obvious (and massive) benefit to society. Handguns are so superfluous in doing anything other than killing

According to the FBI there are 108,000 instances each year of private citizens using firearms to prevent crimes to themselves or others. By contrast, the average number of people murdered using guns each year is 12,112. This is almost ten times as many crimes prevented as lives taken. That seems to me like quite a massive benefit to society.

By the way, the 108,000 figure is a lowball estimate. There have actually been thirteen other studies of defensive gun use in the United States and all of them came up with a higher figure than the FBI study. But I only like to use the FBI one since it's legit, verifiable, and put out by a reputable government agency that has no incentive to inflate the number, as it is wary of civilian gun ownership itself.

Even if you're right that some of those 12,112 dead people may be saved by a gun ban, what of the 108,000 saved people, who would have been assaulted, robbed, kidnapped, raped, or killed had they been disarmed? They can't be swept under the rug and ignored in an effort to protect the other group.

6Kings said...

Good point Nate. If James premise is that guns have no use and are superfluous at best, one can follow the logic (sort of) that banning guns *might* help but it is all a hypothesis without regard to numbers, testing, or verification.

A thinking man might need to take a look at the original premise again and reevaluate based on evidence presented. Conservatively, are you willing to sacrifice 10 to save 1? Or even looking at the rare occurrence of massacres, save 100 and sacrifice hundreds of thousands?

Weer'd Beard said...

6Kings, I used to be very anti-gun. My reasoning was that I saw guns doing far more harm than good in society. I read about hunting and safety accidents, I heard talking points about confused home owners shooting family members they mistook for intruders, I heard stories of unsavory people buying machine guns at gun shows, and I heard about violent crime with guns.

So I assumed that even tho as a New Englander, I knew we overthrew the British rule of the Colonies, and that being the basis of our 2nd Amendment, it wasn't worth all the pain and suffering it created.

Then, like any good scientist, I did some reading on the subject. I found that the Federal Assault Weapons ban was propagated 100% on lies. I found that the Kellermann about a gun in the home to be more likely to do harm than good was bogus. I started reading about our legal system and what laws need to obeyed to legally buy and own a gun. I learned that the vast majority of violent crime in this nation is committed by people who cannot legally own a gun, and in the instances where they can't acquire a gun they use items like knives and clubs, or just hands and feet. I found out about the studies done with conceal carry public records showing how often permits were revoked for commission of a crime. I cross-examined these numbers between states that have permits with no training, and states with permits that require training, and states where police are given digression to issue. I've read the studies that Nate references showing the sheer number of lawful guns that are used to STOP crime and SAVE lives.

The list goes on, but needless to say, I found that my end goal was directly opposed to the results of gun control, so I had no option but to switch sides and support gun rights. I did this for years before I bit the proverbial bullet and bought my own gun.

I supported gun control because I cared about my fellow man, but I was not in possession of the facts.

I wonder about people like James who are in possession of the facts but still support gun control.

Of course his little tirade about the Nazis Nuking their own nation to kill off the Jews living among them tells me quite about about his rationality.

James Kelly said...

6Kings, a thinking man might want to look at this in a slightly less one-dimensional way. From a quick look at the survey Nate provided, I'm far from convinced, as it appears to be a self-reporting survey which raises far more questions than it answers. For starters, how many of these crimes that were 'prevented' with a firearm were genuine, and how many were simply 'perceived' attempted crimes? (For an example of a 'perceived' crime that was no such thing take a look at the poster Unix-Jedi's repeated bone-headed insistence in defiance of all the known facts that Andrew de Vries was committing an act of extreme violence in 1994 when he knocked on someone's back door to ask for help, and that it was perfectly reasonable to shoot him dead on that basis.) How many were serious crimes and how many were petty? How many could have been just as easily averted in a less dramatic way?

Far more importantly, how many of those crimes would have been attempted in the first place if guns were not so prevalent in your society? How many can be put down to the values of a paranoid, brutalised society which teaches its children that the next threat is always round the corner, and that 'freedom' can only be won down the barrel of a gun?

How many people were unnecessarily killed or injured by someone 'defending themselves'? How many accidental shootings have there been from guns that were used carelessly, or not stored properly? How many suicidal people have found a quick and easy way out due to having a gun handy, when otherwise they might have stopped to think for longer and found a better solution? How many guns being used for defensive purposes have been wrested away and used by an attacker? How many guns that start off as legal weapons become illegal and fuel the massive level of crime committed with illegal weapons in the US (and indeed other countries)? What is the cost to general quality of life of the distrust and paranoia that a weaponised society brings about? Here's a heartbreaking clue from a woman who lived close to the de Vries incident -

"People are so afraid of crime that they feel they have to arm themselves to protect themselves," Judy Jowers said.

"I've always told my children that if there is trouble to get out of the house quickly and go to a neighbor's home and scream for help and bang on the door. I can't tell them to do that anymore. They might get shot," she said."


As far as the UK is concerned, the number of crimes prevented with privately owned handguns in the years leading up to 1997 must have been infinitesimal, so that's scarcely an argument against our own ban.

"banning guns *might* help but it is all a hypothesis without regard to numbers, testing, or verification."

Whereas your own hypotheses have plenty of 'regard' for complex numbers, it's just in the 'actual proving anything with those numbers' department that there's something of a deficiency.

James Kelly said...

Weer'd - "Of course his little tirade about the Nazis Nuking their own nation to kill off the Jews living among them tells me quite about about his rationality."

It will only take seconds for people to look at that thread and see for themselves what I actually did say, so why bother with the distortion?

Nate said...

What I see is a lot of sound and fury to try to rationalize away a dangerous study that would tear a hole in your core belief than guns are useless tools of thugs and murderers. In your haste to protect victims of gun violence, you try your best to ignore the many examples of people who protected themselves with guns. Again, you can't just sweep them under the rug.

Although I myself am not of this mindset, this is why people accuse you of impure motives: you sympathize with the victims of gun violence but not with the ones who failed to become victims because they protected themselves with a gun. You exhibit herculean effort to convince yourself that all the people who protected themselves with guns are non-existent, incorrect in their judgement that they needed guns, or just made things worse. To our side—many of whom have actually protected themselves or prevented crime with guns—you are trying to rationalize away what we know to be true from personal experience: that a gun in the hand of an honest man can save lives that would otherwise have been taken by the criminally violent.

Because if it's true that 108,000 or more crimes are prevented with guns each year, than that would make you very wrong indeed that guns are useless. At worst, all you would be able to say was that they had significant drawbacks (gun murders) to go along with the advantages (people protected from violence).

You are often fond of saying that if even one life could be saved by banning guns, then it's worth it. As long as we're going to look only at the potential advantages, couldn't one easily say that if even one life is saved by keeping them legal, then that's what should be done? You have to look at both the positives and the negatives; you can't just ignore or rationalize away one or the other because it doesn't comport well with your notion of an ideal society.

James Kelly said...

Nate, for starters, all the convoluted statistics that have been chucked at me constitute (to use your own words) a herculean effort to distract attention from the elephant in the room - that the US has a vastly higher rate of gun crime than the UK, and a much higher general rate of homicide. And yet you would earnestly have us believe that has nothing at all to do with the fact that the UK has much stricter gun laws - in fact, that the reverse is somehow true. As a scientist might tell you, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and unfortunately nothing I've seen so far even comes up to the standard of ordinary proof.

Your 'dangerous study'? I do hope the person who wrote the report you linked to had nothing to do with the conduct of the survey itself, as the bias was dripping off the screen.

"Because if it's true that 108,000 or more crimes are prevented with guns each year, than that would make you very wrong indeed that guns are useless."

The overwhelming problem with that sentence is the little word 'if'. I've raised a series of detailed and logical objections to the conclusions of that survey (and the underlying assumptions on which those conclusions are based) which I would be delighted to hear your answer to, if you have any. The opening sentences of your comment I'm afraid read more like an attempt to deflect attention from those awkward questions. I could, for example, say to you in much the same way, it's all very well showing sympathy for people who you claim were able to defend themselves with guns, but where is your sympathy, Nate, for the men and women I know who have been able to live peacefully without being attacked with guns because of our stricter laws? Would you be impressed by that? Probably not, so I'm not sure that type of rhetoric is terribly helpful.

6Kings said...

You have been given evidence and you immediately go after the veracity of the evidence. That is fine as it is good to question evidence. But when it continues to pile up from various sources and you have presented little backing your hypothesis, doesn't that raise a flag to you?

Nate said...

If the FBI isn't enough and you want verified, journalistic accounts of guns used in defense, I recommend this YouTube channel.

If even one life is saved by a gun, then it's not fair to say that guns are useless; for that person who is alive today because of it, it was very much useful. Again, the worst you'd be able to say is that there are significant drawbacks to go along with the advantages.

James Kelly said...

"If even one life is saved by a gun, then it's not fair to say that guns are useless; for that person who is alive today because of it, it was very much useful. Again, the worst you'd be able to say is that there are significant drawbacks to go along with the advantages."

And if they overwhelm those alleged advantages? I haven't seen you even address the issues of suicide, accidental deaths, unnecessary killings in the name of self-defence, legal weapons becoming illegal, etc, etc.

James Kelly said...

6Kings - as I pointed out last year, if you're looking for someone to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Kevin Baker on the basis of seemingly unanswerable statistics, there are plenty of examples on the internet - this is one of the many. I've been more interested in a debate that's slightly more meaningful than just flinging strings of numbers back and forth.

And that, incidentally, was precisely the sort of debate Kevin challenged me to last year - he said "it's not about winning and losing, James, it's about the philosophy". Unfortunately, he was...well, I hesitate to use the word lying, but it certainly wasn't an accurate representation of the way he went on to conduct the 'debate'.

Nate said...

I can't help you if you don't believe the FBI study. If anything, the bias sure looked to me like it was erring on the side of finding it dubious that armed citizens could defend themselves.

I guess I don't understand what's so extraordinary about my claims. All I've ever said was that if the postulates of "more guns = more death" and "more gun control = more safety" were true from nation to nation, then they ought to be true within a nation as well. That if increasing the number of guns inside the UK would make it more violent, then doing the same ought to have the same effect in any other country too. If that doesn't make sense to you, then I guess there's not a great deal more to debate.

I mean, if more gun control and fewer guns leads to more safety, then how then to you explain countries like Switzerland's that has the next highest gun ownership rate after the US (among industrialized countries) and extremely loose gun control, yet its gun murder rate is less than a tenth? What about countries like Brazil with low levels of gun ownership and strict gun control but higher rates gun homicide than the United States?

Is it really so simple that more gun control makes a country safer? Or could it be that a wide variety of cultural and economic factors are in fact the drivers of things like crime and homicide?

I haven't seen you even address the issues of suicide, accidental deaths, unnecessary killings in the name of self-defence, legal weapons becoming illegal, etc, etc.

- Gun suicides: 19,895/year (and yet Japan has more than 30,000 suicides with virtually no guns)
- Accidental deaths: 731/year
- Unnecessary killings in the name of self defense: included in homicide.
- Legal weapons becoming illegal: I don't particularly care. It is my belief that if someone wants something illegal enough, they will get it. Heck, drugs are totally banned in this country and it hasn't helped a darn thing; any teenager can get whatever he wants. I believe it's the same with guns.

All data is from the CDC.

Mike W. said...

Far more importantly, how many of those crimes would have been attempted in the first place if guns were not so prevalent in your society.

So you're saying that people will not engage in violent crime if they don't have a gun? On what objective basis do you make this claim?

A gun is merely a tool, it takes people willing to commit predatory acts of violence to carry out such crimes.

Mike W. said...

extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof

And yet you, Mr. Kelly, consistently fail to provide proof to back up your claims.

James Kelly said...

I've responded to some of the issues raised in this thread in a new post (which I may still add a bit more to).

Mike W - it's peculiar that you should make that point on a thread in which I've clearly set out my thoughts about the value (or otherwise) of the statistical 'evidence' that is routinely bandied around in this debate. If you need more, I expand on those thoughts even more here.

Mike W. said...

I've clearly set out my thoughts about the value (or otherwise) of the statistical 'evidence' that is routinely bandied around in this debate.

Oh I know this quite well Mr. Kelly. You CANNOT back up your claims with statistical evidence, which is why you claim it is of little value.

The fact that you can't back up your positions with actual evidence says volumes about the validity of those positions.

As you said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Proof which, predictably, you cannot and will not provide to back up your own extraordinary claims.

James Kelly said...

And which extraordinary claim would that be? That legal gun owners have used their weapons to kill? Regrettably that's one fact that literally has been proved beyond all doubt.

The fact that you can't back up your positions with actual evidence says volumes about the validity of those positions.

Have you actually read the link I sent you to? It explains very clearly where I'm coming from on the issue of evidence and statistics, and the fact that you would resort yet again to that silly jibe simply illustrates one of the key points I make in that post.

James Kelly said...

Comment from Mike W eremoved for swearing - here is the (not much improved) PG version :

I read the link. Your post essentially said. "**** proof, **** statistics, I believe what I want regardless of objective reality."

That's the entire philosophy of the anti-gunner in a nutshell. You know you're wrong, you know you have no empirical proof to buttress your claims, and so you deny, evade, and personally attack folks like Kevin and I when we dare to penetrate your intellectually bankruptcy ideology with logic and evidence.

You are Sad but Predictable.

http://anothergunblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/sad-but-predictable.html

Mike W. said...

So you removed it for using "fu**?"

Really? I could have used "to hell with" and it wouldn't change the nature of what I said.

I notice you have no rational counterpoint.

Mike W. said...

This was an instance of disarmament leading to death, was it?

Yes it was Mr. Kelly. Bird's victims were all disarmed by law.

James Kelly said...

Really? I could have used "to hell with" and it wouldn't change the nature of what I said.

But you didn't - that's my policy and it has been from the start of this blog two years ago. You people do seem to have this peculiar psychological problem with the otherwise well-understood principle that blog owners determine their own moderation policy.

Mike W. said...

But when it continues to pile up from various sources and you have presented little backing your hypothesis, doesn't that raise a flag to you?

Oh, but Mr. Kelly has made it quite clear that he argues on the basis of "belief" and cannot be bothered with pesky facts.

Since he bases what he says on "belief" then he CANNOT BE WRONG, and if facts conflict with is belief then they MUST be denied and ignored at all costs, lest his entire belief system crumble before him.

James Kelly said...

Mike, instead of aiming for the world record of 'who can be the biggest berk on the most threads on the same blog simultaneously', why not do something constructive and go answer the ten questions on the other thread that everyone is studiously pretending not to notice? Surely you do have some answers?

Mike W. said...

Do you have anything substantive to add Mr. Kelly? Any rational counterpoints? Anything at all?

Do you disagree with what I've stated above?

James Kelly said...

There is no rational counterpoint to a troll. I've made any number of substantive responses, and they've all been to other people. That's not a coincidence.

Mike W. said...

As I thought. I would not expect someone so demonstratably irrational to be able to provide any kind of cogent, rational responses to anything I've said.

Was this an instance of disarmament leading to death or was it not Mr. Kelly?

All of the dead victims were disarmed by law, by the very laws you defend on this blog, therefore this was an instance of disarmament leading to death.

This is just one of many points on which you have been proven wrong. You would think taking the kind of intellectual beating you have thusfar from Kevin, myself and others would get old, yet you just keep coming back for more. I suppose that's a good thing for us pro-gunners.

James Kelly said...

"Was this an instance of disarmament leading to death or was it not Mr. Kelly?"

Yet another tedious example of you asking me a question you've already seen me answer IN TERMS. My answer, as contained in black and white in the original post, is NO.

Mike W. said...

Simply saying "no" when that response is factually incorrect (as my comment IN FULL made clear) is not an acceptable answer.

Unless you're either actively trying to deny plain truth, or being intentionally obtuse.

James Kelly said...

Well, then, if you require a more detailed response than "No", here is the relevant quote from the original post, which you are STILL pretending not to have read -

Congratulations on a landslide victory in the Stupid Comment Of The Week Award. This was an instance of disarmament leading to death, was it? Remind me - at what point was Derrick Bird disarmed of the legally-owned weapons with which he went on to kill twelve people?

I think I can safely say Weer'd Beard has been long since stripped of his title.

Mike W. said...

Wrong answer yet again James

All of the dead victims were disarmed by law, by the very laws you defend on this blog, therefore this was an instance of disarmament leading to death.

Disarmament = disarmed victims. Disarmed victims were killed by Bird. Killed = Death. Disarmament lead to their deaths in this instance.

I am amazed at the tenacity with which you will try to deny reality. Pretending it didn't happen and repeating your falsehoods over and over does not make them magically become truth.

The abject stupidity needed to answer "NO" to that question astounds me. It's astounding, even for someone of your limited intellect.

James Kelly said...

Failure to disarm legal gun owner Derrick Bird = armed assailant.

Non-disarmament in this case = 12 avoidable deaths.

Now which of us is pretending that didn't happen?

Mike W. said...

The correct answer to my question is "yes"

You can claim otherwise but that doesn't make the reality of what occurred change.

12 disarmed victims were killed, therefore the ONLY correct answer to the question is "yes" That is not up for debate.

James Kelly said...

Yes, the Kevin Baker Fan Club approach to 'debate' does indeed appear to be "shut up, all ye who disagree".

The only fact in this case is that a disarmed Derrick Bird would not have been able to do what he did. You haven't been able to even begin to establish that if there had been fewer gun restrictions - a) the relevant people would actually have been carrying them at the crucial moment, b) they would have had enough time to access them, c) they would have been able to stay cool enough in the stress of the situation to defend themselves, and d) they wouldn't have put themselves and others in even more danger by doing so.

But it beats me why I'm bothering to use logic in response to someone on who it'll be completely lost.

Mike W. said...

Do you understand what the term "disarmament" means?

Do you understand that all victims were disarmed?

Do you understand what the words "this was an instance of disarmament leading to death" means?

All of the dead victims were disarmed by law, therefore this was an instance of disarmament leading to death. Do you still deny this James? Why? It's the plain truth. Does the truth hurt your ideology that badly?

Hell, this isn't rocket science James.

The only fact in this case is that a disarmed Derrick Bird would not have been able to do what he did.

Even assuming he would have been disarmed in your utopian fantasy, that is still not a fact.

Mike W. said...

Here are some actual facts that disprove much of what you've been spewing on this blog.

Go read, perphaps you'll learn something (though I doubt it)

http://article.nationalreview.com/435971/gun-control-and-mass-murders/john-r-lott-jr