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Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Politics | 32 comments

Dear Christians With Guns: Anastasia Basil tells it straight

It keeps on happening and it looks like it will probably be business as usual. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun s a good guy with a gun” mentality just never ceases. Apparently the Constitution is magic and can’t be changed and applies to semi-automatic weapons. As this article reports:

Over 7,000 children are hospitalized or killed due to gun violence every year, according to a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics. An additional 3,000 children die from gun injuries before making it to the hospital, bringing the total number of injured or killed adolescents to 10,000 each year.

Now if it were anything other than guns, people would be up in arms (no pun intended) about it. But guns have this magical appeal. There is also a very definite link between right-wing politics and gun ownership, which means there is a very definite link between Chrisitanity in the US and gun ownership. It is within this contest that Anastasia Basil, over at HuffPo has written a great article. I will quote some parts here, but please check it out.

As citizens, you openly prize two things: Jesus and the Second Amendment. Your cries for more God and more guns ring from sea to shining sea. We hear you. Believe me. But here’s the thing: As an American citizen of equal value, I can’t let you claim this country as a gun-loving Christian nation. I live a life of moral decency, as I’m sure you do too. But I do it gunless. This makes me indisputably more Christ-like than you.

In response, you will say I’m stifling your right to religion. Quite the opposite: I’m encouraging you to pick up your Bibles and live more in accordance with your religion. I’m asking you to choose between the right to bear arms and the right to quote Jesus. If you won’t give up your guns, then give up your identity as a Christian. Be disciples of Wayne LaPierre. Make your mantra “From My Cold, Dead Hands,” not “Turn the Other Cheek.”

The idea that Christians can defend their gun-totingness is somewhat inexcusable form a biblical perspective, surely.

Our scale of revulsion is off. When the thought of disarming citizens elicits vitriol, and when the cries for Second Amendment rights muffle the cries of grieving parents, America needs to reconsider its status as exceptional.

Here’s an example of truly exceptional citizenry: In 1996 a gunman in Scotland opened fire, killing 16 elementary school children in their gymnasium. It took the UK less than two years to ban all civilian handguns. There has not been a school shooting since. And to those who say a madman will find a way to arm himself, maybe you’re right, but the 7-year-old boy who was accidentally shot by his father one week after Sandy Hook would still be alive today if civilians couldn’t own guns. I mention this particular child instead of the 194 children who were shot and killed in 2013, just because. I mean, we certainly don’t have time for week-long CNN tributes for each and every one of those dead children. There would be, like, zero time to cover celebrity weddings if we did that.

The stats and approaches from different global nations is startling. What s even more startling is the US’s inability to do anything about it, stunned into paralysis by political polemics. Basil continues:

Personally, I would love to stifle your right to the Second Amendment. Even more, I would love to see you do it yourself in honor of the dead children, because, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a madman or a “responsible” gun owner who pulls the trigger; guns do the one and only thing guns are designed to do: shoot bullets that kill. It’s not like you can use a gun to whittle a wooden spoon or slice a carrot, or use the sterilized tip to drain a nasty blister on a camping trip.

 I posted a few comments on the piece which amounted to:

It just seems that those defending gun use and seeing the constitution as some magical text which cannot be amended (any more) are hiding thinly veiled cognitive dissonance. “I like guns, and want to continue liking them, so I will post hoc rationalise their greatness!”

I would suggest getting over that, and making a braver move of, say, changing your minds? Why is it so bleeding hard for people to change their minds on things? A little Jonathan Haidt wouldn’t go amiss.

Whether it be within different US States, or whether it be around the world, like here in the UK, fewer guns means fewer gun crimes.

That part of the constitution is simply out of date or misapplied to modern guns. Deal with it.

and

I think the problem is twofold. First, there is the acceptance of the evidence, which seems overwhelming. Secondly, there is the question of what to do about it, as mentioned.

The first issue is made particularly hard since we know that, psychologically, if one is presented with rational evidence and argument against one’s position, then it is more likely that one becomes entrenched in their original view.

I wrote a piece up to describe this common phenomenon – Post hoc rationalisation – reasoning our intuition and changing our minds (http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/11/14/post-hoc-rationalisation-reasoning-our-intuition-and-changing-our-minds/).

Part of what I do as a philosopher and author is public talks, and I always preface talks which have people on the other side of the fence (eg theists) with the idea that I am pointlessly presenting them solid rational evidence, because it will not change their minds, but rather solidify their own beliefs in the face of such evidence. Such difficult minds we all have.

How do you change the psyche of a nation? My guess is you need to get people who are ‘onside’ to do it. Doesn’t Haidt talk about elephants moving alongside other elephants and nudging them? In this way you need a respected, say, right-winger; somebody famous, who NRA types love, to come out and say, “Yeah, I think gun control is a good thing – we need to start changing our approach.”

If it comes from die-hard liberals, chances are it won’t work.

Stop%20Handguns%20Before%20They%20Stop%20You.

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  • Geoff_Roberts

    I’m an athiest who believes in the right of American’s to responsibly own guns. Using the author’s logic we should also ban swimming as there are thousands of tragic deaths and severe injuries in children 14 years old and younger that occur every year. Every single death attributable to gun violence or accident is tragic.

    The question is what can be done to decrease gun violence and accidents? In a country where there are over 300 million handguns simply banning the ownership of guns would be totally ineffective. Criminals will always have access to guns and law abiding citizens would then have little means of defending themselves. The author fails to point out how many times citizens are able to stop violent crimes every year due to using or even just brandishing a gun.

    The real reasons for gun violence are cultural. While nobody wants unnecessary gun deaths, in a free society the citizens should be able protect their lives and property from those wanting to do harm.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Geoff, I’ve been studying this on both sides for a long time. I have several guns, my father is even has a FFL. I grew up in the gun culture.

      There is zero evidence regarding a citizens defending themselves with a handgun. Other than the ancedotes, which may or may not be accurate, in American Rifleman, there just isn’t any. People don’t report incidents like that. For many reasons.

      But here’s my anecdotal evidence, since that’s all we have. My father, mother, and grandfather have had concealed carry licenses since they were allowed in Texas. I guess that’s going on 15-20 years now. In that time, they have never had a single incidence where they felt required to draw their firearm.

      While I totally agree that any plan to ban guns in the US is just not going to work. I do think that a fundamental shift in the culture you talk about is required. It is also happening. More and more people are rejecting the firearm culture, because it is dangerous. That statistic up there is true. And it’s simply ridiculous that we have that many deaths due to firearms. According to the CDC, and excluding firearm based suicide, the numebr of deaths due to firearms is equivalent to the number of deaths due to vehicles.

      Let’s look at some actual statistics.

      Conservatives aften complain that the vast majority of gun deaths are gang related. That’s not true: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448529/

      This report shows that home factors are very important in firearm deaths (unlike the much more rare, but more widely publicized mass shooting: http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199310073291506

      Hell, in my own house, my dad forget to check a firearm before handing it to me (I was 8). I put a bullet into the ceiling six inches from his head.

      Finally:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9715182

      Abstract

      OBJECTIVE:

      Determine the relative frequency with which guns in the home are used to injure or kill in self-defense, compared with the number of times these weapons are involved in an unintentional injury, suicide attempt, or criminal assault or homicide.

      METHODS:

      We reviewed the police, medical examiner, emergency medical service, emergency department, and hospital records of all fatal and nonfatal shootings in three U.S. cities: Memphis, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and Galveston, Texas.

      RESULTS:

      During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.

      CONCLUSIONS:

      Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.

      • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

        Beat me to it!

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      Hi and thanks for the comment, Geoff,

      I guess I would want to make sure that your opinions are as far divorced form personal psychological baggage as possible. In other words, if your family and you own guns and have done for some time, then there might be cognitive dissonance going on here (without wanting to particularly armchair psychologise)..

      Because, and as SR has said, the likelihood of needing a gun for what you claim you need it for is minute. Far greater the probability is that someone will use that to accidentally harm someone. Given that the use is most probably very rare, yet there is more probability that it will be used inappropriately, there is question over whether it is properly owned for good, rational reasons.

      What you have failed to see is that there is a false analogy at play here. Swimming is an action which has no intention to kill. The action is not designed to kill. You cannot have a mass drowning rampage. Furthermore, and this is pretty important, if you looked at instances of swimming against instances of death from swimming, you will find a very, very, very tiny proportion of deaths per instantiation. OTOH, gun use, I wager, has a far, far higher instantiation of death or injury per usage.

      Furthermore, the “other things kill people” style of argument is a sort of tu quoque/red herring fallacy. Sort of like saying, “malaria kills way more people than AIDS so let’s not bother finding the cure for AIDS”. Of course, one wants to minimise both. We control swimming and we control guns. Just not enough.

      Also, as a philosopher, I would question rights, and what they mean, and whether they are justifiable. Just because that one is enshrined in the Constitution, to me, means jackshit. We probably agree that the age-old Covenant with God, the Bible, is BS. I would not give the Constitution carte blanche, but be very ready to change and amend it in light of societal zeitgeist.

      Would be interested to see what you have to say.

      Cheers

      • Geoff_Roberts

        To answer one of the questions I do not come from a gun culture or family that routinely uses guns.

        I don’t agree with the conclusion mentioned previously that guns in homes are more likely to cause accidental injury or death than prevent a crime. But let’s just say that’s true. Does that mean the federal government should have the right to confiscate and prohibit gun ownership by law-abiding citizens? I would argue the answer should still be no. I believe personal liberty and freedom are higher values than the unfortunate who choose to operate a gun in an unsafe manner. I believe the concept of personal defense should trump those who would use guns improperly.

        I know you don’t like the analogy of swimming but thousands of children die every year from fully preventable accidental drownings. Shouldn’t “those who know better”, i.e., the government, prohibit the rest of us from allowing children to swim because of so many deaths and injuries? If safety is the highest value shouldn’t an unnecessary activity like swimming by children simply be banned?

        It has also not been mentioned yet that the real reason for the 2nd amendment is to protect the citizenry from an oppressive and tyrannical government. While that may seem unlikely, it is very concerning to see the federal government stock up on billions of bullets. Apparently, the Dept. of Homeland Security has enough bullets for over 100 years of “training”. Is that really necessary? And what might be the real purpose for such a thing?

        There are also many federal agencies arming up to the teeth when they should have no business doing so. Does the USDA really need a SWAT team?

        I know as a fiscal conservative I’m in the minority on an atheist blog. I simply believe in limited government and the personal freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. I don’t understand why most atheists believe in an ever more-reaching government as the answer to our problems. If there are those who want to revoke gun ownership rights then let them do so through the appropriate channels and amend the constitution.

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          Honestly, it’s because US corporations are getting more and more power and without regulations holding them accountable, then us as individuals lose.

          Second, you seem to be one of those “can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” kind of guy. Who gets to decide when enough eggs have been broken? I refuse to accept that hundred of children have to die so that you or anyone else can bring a loaded rifle into a burrito joint.

          And finally, I provided statistics from peer-reviewed journals and you don’t accept them? You’re willing to accept some number of unknown events that has never been determined, counted, or anything else over what is. I guess that answers that. There’s no point in even talking about it further. You’ve made your decision as much as any creationist has and nothing will sway you.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            You seem to not like being challenged Smilo. It is a characteristic I find common and disturbing when I respectfully challenge the left. Shouldn’t atheists and free thinkers be most open to discussing opposing viewpoints? You also failed to address many of the points I made in support of gun ownership rights.

            You asked the question who gets to decide when enough eggs have been broken? I couldn’t agree more that your question is a consequential one. Is your answer whoever is currently in power at the moment in our federal government? Or do you consider things like the constitution important as well? Who do you think you should get to decide what my rights are?

            I don’t want a ever-growing government leviathan deciding what I should eat, what I should drive, how much energy I should use, or a thousand other things the government has no business with. Isn’t it interesting how often the desire for government control comes from the left? I don’t want to be controlled by the right or left.

            There are also plenty of statistics that don’t support your viewpoint. I find it common with the left that they quote a study that supports their viewpoint and self-righteously conclude that’s the end of the story. Like many things, gun control is a complex topic where there are very different opinions and evidence that can be cited. I think understand your view I just don’t agree with it.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            You’re right, fuck the world, fuck the children, kill them all as long as I get to do whatever I want to do when I want to do it.

            The reason that government regulates things is because of people like you, who value some nebulous “freedom” more than any responsibility to the planet or your fellow humans. Government doesn’t do this perfectly… or even well. But government must do it because we (and corporations) won’t.

            As far as the Constitution… you don’t think it can’t change? It has changed in the past and will change again in the future. The 2nd Ammendment, in whole or part, can be repealed. I doubt that it will in today’s political environment, because people like you demand the right to carry firearms wherever they go and whatever they do.

            I agree with you that dealing with these issues will not be simple. It very well may be impossible, but that doesn’t mean that you can just ignore data and facts. Simple fact, the more firearms, the more chances for accident (even with very well trained people) and death (homicide or suicide).

            There’s no data on your claim that handguns PREVENT crime and there’s plenty of data that shows that handguns in the house are the root cause of accidental deaths. There’s plenty of evidence that shows that when handguns are in the house, domestic violence escalates into death.

            I know that gun ownership is a complex topic. I’ve been living with this issue for decades now. I also know that when fewer people, especially children, die that’s better than when more die. GOVERNMENTS instituted seat-belts and car-seats for that very reason and, guess what, fewer people die and fewer children die in car accidents (on a per mile basis). Many localities have fences laws such that a swimming pool must be gated with a lock and minimum fence height so that children can’t accidentally fall in and drown (there’s also insurance issues).

            Look, you drive the speed limit right? Even when it’s stupid. That’s a regulation from the government. It’s safer to drive the speed limit than to drive much, much faster (or much, much slower) even though you car can do that. You know this to be true, so you don’t drive 85 mph down a two lane residential street. Even though you have the complete freedom to do so.

            Honestly, you have the complete freedom to do whatever you want. You are completely free to carry a loaded shotgun into an elementary school. However, the vast majority of people in the country have decided that is not socially acceptable and thus, there are regulations. You still may carry that gun into a school, but you are also free to face the consequences.

            I’m willing to bet that gun ownership would fall dramatically if insurance providers simply said, no injury from a firearm would be covered if the firearm were owned by someone in the house. That wouldn’t be a government regulation. It wouldn’t be against the Constitution and it wouldn’t be illegal. So, you would be fine with this rule?

            What about this? You pay a license fee for your car every year. This is a government regulation that you do, without question (and probably without complaint). Would you accept the same for a firearm? Why or why not?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I value freedom. I also don’t see the need to carry guns. I also live in a country with very low gun crime, which, coincidentally, has very strict gun control and police do not carry.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            What about Israel and Switzerland? They have very high gun ownership and relatively low crime. Why is that? Maybe it’s not the gun but the person (and culture) behind the gun that is the problem. You personally don’t like guns and therefore you want to control everyone else’s right to use firearms safely. I think we all want lower crime and less gun deaths. The question is…..how do we get there?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            Maybe it’s both!

            In Switzerland, gun ownership is still a deal less than the States, and most are fully trained ex-conscripts with tighter regulation.

            “And in the pro-gun debate, Switzerland is often used as a case in point: the country has high gun ownership rates, along with remarkably low rates of crime.

            But, in reality, this association if drastically oversimplified. A closer look at the relationship between gun ownership and criminal activity in Switzerland and the United States shows that gun control is just one of a great many factors that have an effect on the frequency of violent crime in any given location.”

            http://www.ibtimes.com/us-gun-control-debate-what-can-we-learn-switzerland-732104

            Also

            http://www.businessinsider.com/switzerlands-gun-laws-are-a-red-herring-2012-12

            Also, the Swiss are broadly split over whether to have tighter controls.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            From what I can gather, Sweden has very strict gun control laws. Eg In Sweden, a person like Anders Behring Breivik wouldn’t have been allowed his gun.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            “You’re right, fuck the world, fuck the children, kill them all as long
            as I get to do whatever I want to do when I want to do it.”

            That’s a bit hysterical Smilo and now you’re using a straw-man argument against me as well. I care about the innocent just as much as you. I just have a much different idea how to go about it.

            I’m fine with changing the Constitution as long as it’s done through the proper channels our founding fathers set up for us. But I’m not OK with whoever is in power at the moment to confiscate or restrict guns so much as it to be impractical to own one. If you really want guns banned or severely restricted then do it right and win the argument and have the Constitution changed.

            You still have never answered a very basic and practical question. If guns are banned (or severely limited) by law-abiding citizens then what happens when the only people who have guns are the criminals? I really would like a practical, sensible suggestion how to handle that cluster-f*#k.

            Let me tell you what would happen. Because of the culture problems we have in the US the criminals would then be able victimize with impunity. Particularly in poor, minority areas the people would have little means to defend themselves. Who really cares about the innocents now?

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            I disagree, you have this notion of “minimal” deaths due to firearms.

            Who are you to decide which children live or die due to firearms accidents and homicides?

            It’s the exact same argument that you use. Do not those parents have the right to keep their children alive. You have all but stated that your freedoms are more important than anyone else’s right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

        • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

          Hi Geoff,

          Thanks for answering my baseless assertion!

          ” know you don’t like the analogy of swimming but thousands of children die every year from fully preventable accidental drownings. Shouldn’t “those who know better”, i.e., the government, prohibit the rest of us from allowing children to swim because of so many deaths and injuries?”

          This issue with this analogy is that water is a naturally occurring necessity. We therefore minimise its risk by teaching people to swim. Imagine the deaths which would result if we didn’t!

          Let’s look at the issue from another side. Do you think people have the right to carry nuclear bombs around? No? Well then where is the arbitrary line of acceptance? How do you define it? Why are semi-automatics ok, but gattling guns not?

          • Geoff_Roberts

            “We therefore minimize it’s risk by teaching people to swim”. I agree with that. And safety should be a focus of gun ownership as well. Let’s offer classes for the proper care and handling of guns. Let’s use the public media to encourage the responsible use of firearms just as there are about the dangers of children drowning (or leaving kids in a hot car, or proper child seat usage, etc.). I have no problem with commonsense arrangements for gun safety. The problem is the left wants firearms banned altogether.

            As for your example with nuclear bombs obviously you’re using an extreme example to make your point (wholly different than my swimming analogy). To bring it back to a sane level then yes I agree the government has the right to not allow military grade weapons (drones with missiles, rocket propelled grenades, etc) for use by the public. No one is suggesting that.

            A personal firearm properly maintained and used responsibly is a definite deterrent to crime. Imagine what would happen in America if handguns truly were banned? Then only criminals would have guns. They’d have carte blanche to attack whoever they wanted without fear of the victim being able to defend himself. The left wants to ignore how often guns are used to stop a number of tragedies.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            A final question… who here has suggested ‘banning all guns’?

            I know I didn’t. I know Jon didn’t. So you are attacking an argument that no one is making. That’s a logical fallacy called a strawman argument.

            Curiously, people who tend to be “left” are people, with real opinions made from experiences and some of us, shockingly, don’t agree with the democrats on everything. Why do you assume that to be so? You’re making the same mistake that you accuse us of making.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            Your point is well taken Smilo. However, if you’re not suggesting banning of guns then what are you suggesting? If you want sensible, responsible use of personal firearms then we want the same thing. I don’t want there to be senseless gun deaths any more than you and there should be safeguards in place to minimize that as much as is practical. But If you want there to be so many regulations and hoops to jump through that there is effectively no gun ownership for law-abiding citizens then we obviously disagree.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            I don’t think we will agree, because you expect people to do what’s in the best interest of others and I know that it so rare as to be listed on buzzfeed as things that are shocking.

            I’m just going to leave it at that. The problem is that to you and people like you, there is nothing that will change your mind. Your personal freedom is more important than anything and anyone else. And that pretty much sums up what is wrong with the US.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            You know it is actually possible Smilo to disagree with you and have good reasons to do so. The fact that I have a different opinion on how best to reduce crime and maintain our freedoms doesn’t mean that I’m selfish, don’t care about others, don’t care about children, or any other fiendish desire.

            And your still haven’t answered my basic and practical question. What happens when law-abiding citizens lose their guns and then only the criminals have guns (to the tune of tens of millions of guns)?

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            The same thing that happens now, except that the criminals don’t steal them from people with guns.

            I never said to ban guns, so your entire argument is false.

            What I said was that cultural opinions are shifting. Guns are not the popular thing that they used to be. We, as a society, are weening ourselves off of the need to be Rambo and the fear that everyone else in the society is trying to take our crap or murder us in our sleep.

            There’s a lot of things that have to be done to reduce gun crime from criminals. Starting with gangs and kids.

            I know exactly one person who has used a firearm to attack another person. That was my brother-in-law while he was in Iraq. My father-in-law was a police officer for 23 years, retired as the chief of police in a gang ridden community. The only person who he ever had to draw his gun on was a fellow police officer who was beating his wife. My father, both grandfathers, mother, father-in-law, and myself have owned firearms since the 1940s. When I say that the number of firearms we’ve owned, all told, is in the thousands, I mean that literally. Not a single one of us has ever been in a situation where we had to draw a gun, shoot a gun, or even threaten someone with a gun.

            You want to protect yourself from criminals? Lock your doors, don’t go to places where there are criminals and fights and alcohol. You strap a gun on, then go walking down main street at night with a big, shiny watch, flashing a bunch of cash and yeah, you’re probably going to have to use your gun to protect yourself. But, I would consider you an idiot for putting yourself in that situation in the first place.

            Again, that’s an area that the government can help straighten things out. We could be providing work, education, and reducing the influence of gangs in those areas instead of encouraging people to carry concealed handguns.

            Looking at the problem and saying, “we can’t fix crime, so we have to have guns” is a very limited and sad way of dealing with these kinds of major social issues. instead, why can’t we say, “What can we do so that we don’t need guns”?

            As far as me never answering your question, I’ll note that you have quite a few you’ve failed to answer as well.

            While it is possible for you to convince me that you have valid reasons, you have yet to do so. You have ignored the evidence. You’ve claimed that you have evidence that refutes what you’ve been given, yet have failed to produce it. You make claims with no supporting evidence.

            If you want to represent gun culture, then you’ll have to do a better job.

            And just for your information, I was EXACTLY where you are less than two years ago. I have changed my mind due to evidence and rational thinking… and thinking about the bigger picture rather than a narrow, culturally influenced view. I hope that you will use the brain and empathy that you have as a result of being human and look to solve the problem instead of promoting it.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            So if you’re not suggesting banning guns what is it exactly that you are suggesting regarding gun control?

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Read what I wrote.

            1) Licensing each and every gun every year. A fee (a small one) to transfer ownership. Owning a firearm that you have no transferred the title for would be a felony.

            2) MUCH stronger background checks (I do also approve this for vehicles).

            3) Proof of firearms education and safety course, which includes a section on both federal and state laws and where to find the laws for every state. Just like for a car license. Actually I prefer strong education courses for both guns and cars. Giving the keys of a corvette to a 16 year-old when they have spent a grand total of 15 hours driving a Dodge neon 4-door is just begging for a wreck. Separate training for cars, high performance cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

            4) Significantly stronger punishments for use of firearms in aggressive situations.

            5) I’d be fine with revolvers and lever-action/pump-action weapons only. Seriously, if you need 15 or more rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger, you’re doing something wrong in the first place (either not a good enough shot to be shooting or shouldn’t be wherever it is that you are). BTW: I would require that concealed carry licenses include a run through a shoot house… not just 20 rounds at a silhouette 15 feet away.

            6) All the money from the license fees goes into inner-city and urban education, after school, and training programs.

          • Geoff_Roberts

            Then we are really not that far apart Smilo! There are some things you said that I’d be concerned about but there is more agreement than not.

            But you did state your family history of owning thousands of guns. And you didn’t mention you had any accidents or problems associated with owning those guns. So, my point is it’s very possible to responsibly own guns with at least some of the controls that were previously mentioned.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I suggest much tighter controls. Sweden seems to have that.

            There is great problem in comparing countries because there are too many variables at play for proper control and knowledge of causality. However, I would certainly start with a ban on semis.

            Here are some things the Swedes do (In relation to another couple of threads where well meaning… uhm… forum-goers, have been trying to put forth the notion that crime can be only kept down and you can only keep yourself safe if you give every citizen an gun or three…

            Sweden…

            Sweden practices gun control, in the sense that you have to have a permit for every gun you wish to own. If you want a gun, you get a license from the local police authority who checks with your criminal record and other noteworthy things to concider regaring your suitability when it comes to being a gun owner.

            You also have to state for what purpose you are getting the gun and you must also show that you are qualified to use the gun in said application.

            Things that qualifies as valid reasons for having a gun:

            - Hunting.
            - Sports, either marksmanship or starter pistols.
            - Active withing the local defence forces, or the police

            And that is about it. This accounts for pretty much every one of the two million guns that are privately owned or managed among Sweden’s nine million citizens. 1 million of guns are hunting rifles. Half a million are hunting shotguns. The rest are misc.

            Guns also have to be locked up disassembled, in a manner that pretty much excludes the possibility to pull tem out in a hurry and putting them together.

            Things that will not grant you a license:

            - Self-defence:

            http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.235797-Crimes-Guns-Sweden

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            I was going to mention that!

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            The idea of using the reductio is to show that it is at least a matter of degree. ie, it would be something to admit that semi-automatics are unnecessary.

            How often are guns used to stop tragedies?

          • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

            http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/

            Well worth looking at. It shows:

            1-3 Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense

            4. Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal

            5. Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense.

            6. Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate intimates than to thwart crime.

            7. Adolescents are far more likely to be threatened with a gun than to use one in self-defense.

            8. Criminals who are shot are typically the victims of crime

            9-10. Few criminals are shot by decent law abiding citizens

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Actually Gatling guns are fine, as long as you get a license. I’ve known people who had 20mm cannons.

  • Gandolf

    I own a couple of guns, here in NZ ,and use them for pest control and hunting.But i’m kind of glad we do have laws to restrict gun ownership here.People wishing to own guns here,will first need to pass a test so as to become licensed.To do that they must also not be criminals, especially not the type of those convicted of violence. We also have strict laws in regard to how guns may be safely used, and must also be safely stored. And only certain people are allowed hand guns, or the militarily styled automatic fire guns. Semi automatic guns are allowed ,so long as the magazine cannot exceed a certain number of bullets

    People selling guns, are required to see the person who’s purchasing the gun, gun licence. And these details will need to be recorded. If a licensed gun holder moves their address, then they are required to notify the police of their new address

    Criminals here,can “at least” find it “quite hard” to come by guns.And any time guns are stolen, then the gun-owner must quickly inform the police ASAP.While the criminal may steal guns, they will still need to have a gun-licence, before legally getting hold of gun ammo.Anyone caught selling ammo illegally ,will lose their gun licence

    If we had “easy” gun laws here. We would soon enough end up with loads of dead folk everywhere.The crim’s here, can be dangerous enough ,without guns. But thankfully its not quite so easy, to quickly do “mass” killings, by just using knives, broken bottles and fists

  • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling Bryant Cody Rudisill

    Coming from the American South, guns are an integral aspect of our culture. I believe the studies conducted are accurate about the harms involved in gun ownership. I also believe there is a relationship between denying (or limiting) gun ownership and rates of violence (though this is tricky, because is it that a government who denies gun ownership to its citizens one that sees less violence, or are the type of citizens who are willing to relinquish their gun ownership the kind of people who make up a nation with lower levels of violence?).

    But I think most gun advocates who are trying to argue that these reports are false, should really be arguing more philosophically: does a government, or governing entity, have the right to manage my life in such a way? This type of reasoning (which is, I think, the real argument behind that of gun advocates) came up a few years ago here in the States in another way when bans on smoking started taking effect. The question then was, should the government force a small business to ban smoking? At penalty of law?

    I was raised in a gun culture, but I’ve (over the years) come to think it would be best to hand them over. At the same time I cringe when I say that. Americans are at peak highs of distrust in their government, something I myself feel strongly as well. Most are just not in a good mentality to want to hand their guns over to a government they distrust–and I can sympathize with them to this degree.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/ Jonathan MS Pearce

      I like your comment, BCR, because it show explicit acknowledgement of understanding your own cognitive biases.