Sunday, June 29, 2014

Research: Guns in the Workplace Do Not Make You Safer

Given the conversations that I've put myself through on pro-gun rights sites, you'd think that all research led to the conclusion that everyone was safer with a gun in tow.

In fact, some research shows that this is not the case, and that, in the case of a workplace, policies that allow guns increase the probability of homicides, as opposed to those that forbid bearing firearms.

This article was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2005.  The authors concluded that the risk of homicide was 7 times greater in workplaces that permitted firearms, than in those that prohibited all bearing of weapons. 

So let's be clear here: according to this study, the risk of being killed is higher where guns are allowed than in workplaces where they are not.  In other words, being allowed to bring guns to work does not make you safer, but in fact makes you less safe.

Now, for the partisans of doubt (i.e. guns rights advocates), the study examined only North Carolina and what's more, nearly 10 years ago (probably longer, considering that the research is usually done long before publication).

Thus, for the sake of guns rights advocates, I say, let's do more research! And for sane people, I say, I'm not terribly surprised, and I'm disappointed that state legislatures (like South Carolina) have ignored these kinds of studies.

Provisos: there are lots of things this type of research does not take into account.  First, people in NC are crazy.  Just kidding.  I'd say they are the highest IQ state of the South (although that's not saying a lot) (more seriously, I'd point out that Nascar, which is based in states like NC and Tennessee, has the fans with the highest IQs, of the fans of different sports, on average).

Second, this doesn't explain if the workplaces that permit firearms require licenses, or what kinds of businesses they are, etc.  And lots of other things that I simply am not going to take the time to think about right now.

Third, things can change a lot in 10 years time.  This is one of the reasons why research needs to continue.  The anti-scientism of some of my interlocutors will certain express itself as, don't spend my taxpayer dime for this (when instead you can defund the VA and let vets come back, without a support network, and kill themselves ...) and all scientists lie, yadda yadda yadda.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The worst thing about blogging on gun issues

I have had some very interesting, and passionate conversations with gun rights advocates on another site.  For example, BenEzra, Drifter, etc.

But for each of those interesting commenters, it seems like there are at least two from people who are afflicted by chemtrails.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Slippery Slope Argument

No matter how angry you may be about the gun rights movement, if you actually start talking to them, you will quickly find that they are in fact a quite diverse, heterogenous group.  While it's easy for us to demonize them, and I for one, would prefer to be able to, that cannot be done. 

Given this diversity, it is remarkable how unified the gun rights movements is in its effects, which are mostly to deny any attempt, even the most modest, to enact gun control legislation. 

in their defense, their first line of argumentation is usually along the lines claiming how much the 2ndA has already been regulated.  And there is some truth to this, if you consider the history of simply federal legislation (merely during the 20th century, for example), as well as the diversity of state legislation.* 

To go back to my point, the gun rights movements employs what I would call a very slippery slope argument, in which almost any gun control advocacy is knocked down on account of the fact that it will lead to gun bans.  

Example #1: the NRA and Jack Kingston blocked legislation promoting research by the CDC on gun violence.  I mentioned this in an earlier post and in fact this is not really news.  The NRA has been doing this now for quite a while, such that the CDC or any governmental body has been prohibited from spending tax dollars on research into gun violence since 1996!  

If you consult the comments on that same post, you'll see that my interlocutor, GMC70 jumps on this slippery slope (slip-and-slide, if you will) riding it directly to the fact that all such research is the work of "liars" ... whose only purpose is to ban guns.

This example is interesting to me because of what I take to be the innocuousness of the program advocated: namely, it's just research!

Example #2: a federal registry of gun owners.  There are two arguments against this (that I've encountered). First, all of this information is already out there, although it is not organized on a federal level and exists differently in different states.  Here the paperwork for gun purchases is cited.  But of course, a gun purchase does not mean the owner will still have the original gun (guns are the kinds of things which are passed down through families, to take merely one example).  This is not a slippery slope argument.  

Second, a federal gun registry will assist gun confiscation.  Australia's confiscation of semi-automatics after its horrific Port Arthur massacre. Also cited, the Nazis (the usual suspects).  In brief, if we allow a federal gun registry, we will be violating the privacy of law abiding gun owners, and these violations are merely the stepping stone to greater violations (gun confiscations).

Example #3: the open carry movement.  Currently there is an open carry political movement, essentially trying to legalize OC across the country. The most visible proponents of this program are a bunch of fucking idiots in Texas (the Open Carry Texas "patriots") who invaded a Chiles not too long ago and then posted the video of their encounter online.  

If you consult the Gun Nuts Media blog, despite its humorous/scary title, you'll find there an interesting commentary on OC, based on the author's 30 day experiment doing OC.  His conclusions are valuable and compelling, regardless of your views.  But he is very critical of groups like OCT because he thinks they bring a lot of negative publicity to the movement.  His comments, however, frequently inspire umbrage among those who disagree with him and who---and here is my point, finally--think that critique is again effectively crypto-gun-control advocacy.  Thus, the slippery slope is from a refined commentary on OC to, being a shill for the gun control movement (and eventually, being for gun confiscation).

I will stop there, but as always welcome comments.  

I have another post on this issue coming up, which has to do with the relation between the gun rights movement and libertarianism and its concomitant suspicion of big government.  

*While I find these arguments somewhat compelling, I would still insist that guns are not a regulated as automobiles and pharmaceuticals, to take only two examples.  But one would need to invent a metric to measure this matter.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gun violence in the US, Part 3: some surprises, some confirmations, some questions

Surprises that I learned about gun violence in the US:

More people die of firearm related suicides than firearm related homicides.  In fact, when indiscriminately people discuss "firearm related deaths", those usually include suicides.

Rifles and assault weapons are not responsible for even 20% of firearm related deaths. Firearm related deaths are primarily the result of handguns.

The Assault Weapons Ban of 1994--the last major piece federal legislation of gun control--did not address handgun violence.  If I was a 2ndA activist, this would piss me off, as it would seem completely superfluous to any problem of gun violence.

The majority of the victims of firearm related homicide violence are black males, between the ages of 18-30.  The majority of the firearm related suicides are white males (source, Washington Post).  The rates between homicide and suicide are relatively close, although they vary from year to year.

According to this chart, there are more homicides than suicides, gun-related.  

Not a surprise:
The NRA is not concerned about firearm related suicides.

Are more men the victims of firearm related suicides? 

Gun violence in the US, Part 2: the bad states

First, as an aside I want to point out that discussion on another site (PAGunBlog) has suggested that some of the information I am using may be flawed.  Most of this is coming a Wikipedia chart from 2010.  I guess I'm interested in pursuing it at this time because the information seems conducive to the arguments of gun rights proponents and I want to see how this will develop.  But so at any rate, I know these conclusions are dubitable beyond heuristic value.*
In the last post I claimed that gun violence may not be that bad if considered against a reasonable analog (Switerzland) where guns ownership/possession and basic social-political conditions are comparable.  That is, around 40 states have gun violence levels below the levels in Switzerland (3.84 per capita).  Although the per capita level of violence in the US is 10 firearm related deaths, that figure is arrived at by considerable (percentage-wise) deviations in the other 10 states.  Most notably, D.C. had approximately 16 firearm related death per capita.  That is at least 500% increase over most of the US.

So what are the states where firearm related murders exceeded these levels?  They are:
DC: 16.5%
Louisiana: 7.7%
Missouri: 5.4%
Maryland: 5.1%
South Carolina: 4.5%
Delaware: 4.2%
Michigan: 4.2%
Mississippi: 4.0%
Florida: 3.9%
Georgia: 3.8%
Just to be clear, it's actually only 9 states that exceed the Switzerland bar. Georgia is equal to it.

Not for gun rights proponents, it is very important that DC is at the top of this list because this is a city that has enacted serious gun control and obviously it has failed.  I think this point is probably true.  Of course, the response to this, which I think is simply intuitively persuasive (although it may not be right), is that trafficking guns from states where gun control is limited to DC is practically unenforceable.  Are you going to stop every car and search for guns?  That's a 4thA violation.

If you look at the majority of these states, you'll probably anticipate where these gun murders occur, and that is in the major metropolitan areas located in those states.  New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, Miami?.

One of the things I think we can conclude in these respects is that, as onerous as some of the tragedies are that receive media attention, they are anomalous in respect of most of the US.  Most of the US doesn't have a problem with gun violence--again, assuming Switzerland is the bar for what is and is not acceptable.

Gun violence is primarily an urban problem and a problem in states with major urban areas.

* Also, I want to say that these reflections have changed some of my fundamental intuitions about both gun violence and gun control.  Before these reflections I was anti-2ndA, anti-CC and anti-OC (and then the title of this blog was Against the 2nd Amendment and the description was similar).  After these reflections I've decided that I am no longer against the 2ndA, for the most part, and do not think that gun violence in general requires its abolition.  Moreover, I'm not against CC anymore.  I don't like it, really, but I think that the licensing of CC is adequate.  I'm still against OC, but reading about the OC experiment of Caleb on Gun Nuts Media has actually given me faith that even it could be reasonable, given certain conditions.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gun violence in most of the US is not that bad, considered state by state

Because of my particular vocation, I've never been terribly impressed by the power of facts because I think that reason is capable of achieving many things by itself.  Moreover, science and knowledge are always produced by interested institutions and parties, who despite their best efforts cannot denude themselves of prejudices (what's more, were they able to, they would consequently be unable to know anything!).  And so I've always thought that while science and research were important, they needed to be treated very delicately, and submitted to the court of reason.

But we know, since Kant, that reason has its limits and therefore must allow empirical science to be an equal source of education for reason.

So then let's follow science and see where it leads (and then allow that reason might have questions of its own).  It has led to some disappointing outcomes at time: that humans are not the products of intelligent design; that we lack considerable knowledge about the actual nature of all that exists (i.e., dark energy and dark matter); that climate change is real and that humans are most probably the cause of it.

One of the things I'd been concerned about, in creating this blog and in engaging with others, was the prevalence of gun violence in the United States.  I had an intuition that greater regulation could do something about it.  And that intuition may not necessarily be wrong, but it needs to be examined to be determined to be so.

But first, is gun violence greater in the US than in other comparable nations?  Assuming this information I found on Wikipedia is correct (and it's taken from different sources), firearm related deaths in the US are much lower than in at least a dozen other countries, including Honduras, Columbia, South Africa and Mexico (Mexico's only slightly higher than the US). 

However, it's still much higher than most comparable nations, by which I means nations with similar political stability, standard of living, etc.--what we generally might call 1st world nations.  In the US, per capita (100,000 people) 10 people die of firearm related causes. In Honduras its 64; Mexico, 11; Switzerland (which has at least approachable levels of gun ownership and being nationally comparable (i.e. political stability, standard of living, etc.), nearly 4 persons.  

Let's say that Switzerland is actually a good base point for judgment: if that were the case, then we'd have to say that gun violence, for the most of the United States, is not extraordinary, or even especially high. In at least 40 of the U.S. states, gun violence is lower or equal per capita than in Switzerland.  That means that in the remaining 10 states gun violence is high enough that it has increased the US's per capital gun violence to levels above 2.5 times above Switzerland.  

That is a fascinating discovery and honestly one that I had not anticipated.  

In the next post I'll talk about the correlation between gun violence and gun ownership, gun laws.  There are some unexpected discoveries here as well to be had.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jack Kingston and the NRA hate not only facts, but any research about gun violence

Facts are the life blood of the debate about gun rights and gun control.  In online sparring at several sites, I found myself presented by a lot of interesting information about guns.  What was uniform was the conviction that guns as forms of protection are important and that (mostly) no forms of regulation have ever had any effects on gun violence.  Most importantly (RP and others), gun violence primarily targets young black men.

While these individuals are convinced, the NRA is not, nor our different Congressional representatives who are blocking, and have blocked in 1996, appropriations to the CDC to study gun violence.  Pehaps some of my erstwhile online sparring partners will ask Jack Kingston of Georgia, among others, to stop and allow the research to be done.

As is a familiar refrain, Kingston justifies himself by claiming that this is research for the sake of gun confiscation.  Everything is about confiscation.

Monday, June 16, 2014

No words: more domestic violence against women from a coward with a gun

When will this end?

Imminent Public Threat: Open Carry Versus Public Safety, Part 1

Apparently as many as 45 states have now passed open carry legislation, which is remarkable.  That means that more states approve of individuals openly carrying weapons made for killing than there are that approve of same sex persons getting married (only 19 states).  Alas, the ridiculousness of open carry does not need comparison to be made apparent.

Why should Open Carry (or OC, as its apologists like to put it) be promoted? What are the reasons for it?

1) The Second Amendment protects the rights to keep and bear arms. This is the elephant in the room.  Not only does the 2ndA allow for this, but there is considerable state legislation protecting these rights.

So just to be clear, this is a pretty considerable argument for the gun promoters. 

But that does not mean it is a clear and unquestionable amendment. In fact, it is apparently so questionable that numerous states have had to pass legislation to clarify and specify this amendment. And more to the point, 45 states have deemed it necessary to specifically protect OC rights, as I said above.  

Just to be clear then, there is nothing in the 2ndA as legislation that specifically protects OC, such that further legislation was not necessary.

So that is considerable legislative basis, but how does it fare in the court of reason?  By this what I mean is that we need to separate different kinds of reasons.  The former is a reason based on conventional law.  But those things change continually and really only reflect the powers of legislative forces.  They do not reflect simple rational reflection.

2) Carrying a weapon openly allows one to protect oneself in public places.  

But why must she carry openly to protect herself.  In fact, her advantage in carrying openly is frightening potential criminals away, right?

Perhaps, imagining that all criminals carefully select the most vulnerable unarmed individuals.  But that right comes at the cost of the right to security of others who also occupy public spaces.  It is not merely that someone is carrying at home, but OC specifically protects someone's right to carry in a public place.  

So what we have here then is a case in which the right of one individual needs to be weighed against the rights of other individuals. 

If I met this asshole on the street in Florida, I'd have
to run, because he can get away with murder (if I
was black and wearing a hoodie). 
Both the OCer and the NCer (non-carrier) are protected by the police from criminals, some fictional third party that is somehow excluded from these categories.  But the NCer also needs to be protected from the OCer as well.  The reason for this is that the OCer is carrying a weapon that has no purpose but to kill, and the NCer has no way to know that the OCer has been trained and licensed (no one has to show their carry license to anyone other than a police officer).

Thus, just as an NCer doesn't walk in a highway, for the sake of safety, no NCer should remain in a space where there is an OCer (which might well be called the George Zimmerman rule).  

Conclusion: the OCer has perhaps made herself safer (or merely given herself the false sense of security, since there are numerous examples of "good guys with guns" not able to protect themselves from "bad guys with guns"), but she has forced any reasonable NCer to leave and insodoing, restricted the First Amendment rights of NCers and even other OCers. 

In fact, one could see the OCer as an example of the violation of prior restraint (this connection brought to you by responsible gun celebrist Walter Sobjchek).

This is only part 1.  I'll consider more in another post.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Second Amendment is not colorblind, or, the NRA is not only a terrorist organization, it's racist

What if all of these white male gun owners advocated second amendment rights for African Americans as well?  But of course, when they say they need protection, it's because they think they need protection from blacks.

Of course, an amendment to the constitution which treats certain citizens differently from others, seems ... unconstitutional ... no?

If you're an apologist for the second Amendment, then you are an apologist for racism.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A young Clint Eastwood checks to make sure it's empty

This is a very poetic image of America's love affair with guns.  Except that instead of making sure it's empty, he should be putting one into the chamber.  With his shirt unbuttoned.  And being an Adonis of American 1960s masculinity.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reality is Plastic: 74 School Shootings Becomes 15 (Somehow 15 is reasonable?) is reporting that CNN bowed to pressure from conservative commentators and re-counted the number of school shootings since the Newtown Massacre. 

Let's imagine that this was not merely a matter of politicking, but actually a gross error.

Should we be less concerned that only 15 school shootings have occurred since Newtown?

Fifteen school shootings is still too many.  That number includes 25 people killed, more than 40 injured (larger numbers traumatized).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Do I think the Second Amendment will be abolished anytime soon?

As others have recently pointed out, it is hard to imagine what scope of tragedy would foment actual legislation enacting even the reasonable federal gun regulation (for example, national licensing). 

Moreover, if you actually believe that Obama believes that he can enact serious gun control, or for that matter even wants to, like Alex Jones, then there is no other way to say this, but you need to seek mental health care immediately.

I do not think that the Second Amendment will be abolished anytime soon.  But I think this is the only reasonable answer to this one problem facing our nation today.  Gun violence cannot be ended without abolishing the Second Amendment.

REPRINT: Have a Gun, But no Piece of Mind

Last Labor Day, I told you readers about my decision to buy a gun, a radical choice for someone who has spent much of her career writing about the evil and tragedy that occur at the end of one.
That column elicited more comments than any other I’ve written in the five years I’ve been contributing to UpFront.
An overwhelming number of you voiced your approval. I felt welcomed into a huge armed fraternity, a society of shooters only too happy to have converted another so-called liberal into the fold.
I felt so loved.
Many of you offered advice on what kind of firearm I should purchase. Many of you admonished me to take classes, get a concealed-carry permit (or at least take the training) and to practice, practice, practice.
I explained that my change of heart had come about because someone in my inner circle had finally broken away from a horrific relationship, throwing the rest of my family into a dangerous, potentially deadly drama. As the sole protector of my family, I felt compelled to find a better way to do that protecting than keeping a butter knife under my pillow or hoping a 911 call would bring help to my remote abode in time.
You readers told me to consider whether I was ready to shoot to kill, not just to maim or frighten. Take no prisoners, some of you said. Have fun with the gun when not picking off marauders, some of you said.
You’ll recall, though, that purchasing my first gun hit a snag when the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System was not so instant and spit back, for reasons I still don’t know, a “DELAY” notification requiring an additional check.
Finally, after going through the entire process again (which is surprisingly easy) in October, I purchased a shiny new Ruger .22-caliber pistol, chosen because it fits best in my hand, has plenty of safety features, a good price and cheap-enough ammo to allow me to practice, practice, practice without breaking the pocketbook.
But now, I expect some of you will hate me again.
I still haven’t fired a single cartridge.
I haven’t taken a class, haven’t set foot in a shooting range. The gun sits locked and unloaded in a secure safe, as shiny as the day I bought it.
Maybe I’m chicken. Maybe I just haven’t had time. But maybe something visceral happened when I held that gun and those brassy bullets.
Maybe Sandy Hook.
Maybe George Zimmerman.
Maybe Tera Chavez.
Maybe Hadiya Pendleton.
Maybe Sunni Reza, the 8-year-old Albuquerque girl shot and killed in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting in May.
Maybe Nehemiah Griego, the 15-year-old boy accused of gunning down his parents and his three younger siblings in their South Valley home.
Maybe Antoinette Tuff, the Georgia bookkeeper who saved the lives of potentially hundreds of elementary school children and police officers when she neutralized a mentally disturbed gunman, not with a weapon but with compassionate words, calmness and love.
Maybe because I just don’t understand a society that flocks to gun stores to stock up on weapons and bullets every time weapons and bullets are used in yet another American tragedy.
Maybe because I don’t understand a country where, as former President Clinton noted last week, it can be harder to vote than to obtain an assault weapon.
Maybe because National Rifle Association Vice President Wayne LaPierre and his paranoid fear-mongering scare me, but not for the reasons he might expect.
Maybe because I have seen so few situations where a gun made things safer.
Maybe because I just don’t have the stomach to be in this kind of fraternity.
Mostly, there is this: My youngest, who is special needs, got angry at an older brother recently and threatened to get my gun and shoot him.
Not that he could. The gun safe requires my fingerprint to open. The magazine is out, the cartridges are removed.
Which also means that had that previous family drama that convinced me to purchase a gun in the first place escalated, my Ruger would have been of no use to me, unless I could have talked the intruder into waiting while I retrieved it from the safe, loaded it and figured out how to shoot it.
I bought the gun to feel safer. I don’t.
And what am I teaching my son? That a gun can resolve conflicts?
So there my shiny Ruger sits. I haven’t decided whether to sell it – that’s not an easy proposition, though I suppose it’s done quietly all the time.
Perhaps if I take it out to a shooting range, I’ll change my mind. Perhaps you all will change my mind. So go ahead, make my day.
For now, though, I’m leaning toward thinking it’s best to take my chances with the butter knife under the pillow. That, somehow, seems safer.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to to submit a letter to the editor.

There are No Good Guys with Guns, Or, Why You Should Avoid People Who Concealed Carry

The main question is, what kind of people carry concealed weapons?

!) People who are scared.
Of those scared, the question is why?  They live in dangerous places.  In this case, you do not want to be where these people are going and especially not with them because they are bringing something which will only escalate the situation.  

Or, they have had experiences with others that scared them. In this case, you also do not want to be with these people because they have not overcome their trauma and their view of the world is one of a victim, and victims will become victims in the future, again and again. These are people who will be the first to escalate any situation that seems even slightly threatening.

2) People who "work late hours" and live next to drug dealers.  I've lived in bad neighborhoods and I've never had a concealed weapon.  Carrying a concealed weapon around drug dealers is not going to protect you from them. If they don't think you're carrying a weapon, then they don't care about you.  If they do, then any confrontation with them will lead to violence.  

3) People who want to celebrate gun ownership. This category is completely bewildering. These people want to feel macho and powerful by carrying a weapon.  

If they are responsible, they would never carry, because there is practically no situation in which his gun can de-escalate a situation.  If they do carry, then they are not really responsible, because they have underestimated the dangers to which they are exposing everyone who spends time with them.

The truth is, these people are not macho, but the most emasculated, because they need to wear a gun to feel like a man, or to feel powerful.  Those are the scariest people (and they too are scared people).

And let's just be clear what this person is celebrating: the right to brandish a tool that has only one purpose, which is to kill others. 

This list is exhaustive. 

Conclusion: there are no good guys with guns (except police, although they do not concealed carry).  

Adam Weinstein, if you have a brain in your head, for the sake of your son and your wife, get rid of your guns and stop carrying concealed.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Good Guys with Guns Unable to Stop the Bad Guys with Guns. Another example from same incident.

Joseph Wilcox was shopping at the Walmart outside of Las Vegas where the shooting occurred yesterday.  He was concealed-carrying a weapon legally, and tried to intervene when he say Jerad and Amanda Miller.  Unfortunately, he was killed.  

If he hadn't pulled out his weapon, it's likely he would still be alive.  Of course, what he did was brave in that he was trying to protect others.  

So this is a very clear case where gun rights did not protect anyone.  This is also a case where it is not the case that the solution to a bad person with a gun is another "good" person with a gun.

Now one might say, to expand on what I said above, Joseph Wilcox, the man who legally conceal-carried a weapon that he used to try to defend others as well as himself, was doing something brave and courageous that many others would do in the same situation. Moreover, Wilcox had no idea that the couple had only killed police officers and no one else, such that if we didn't pull his weapon he probably would have been safe.

I support the abolition of second amendment rights because even though Wilcox was doing something brave, he lacked the training to know how to act in this situation and that must have been one of the factors in his murder. Secondly, even if the preponderance of second amendment right citizens are acting responsibly, as I expect Wilcox probably did, that right is not worth the imminent public danger that the abuse of this right by individuals like Jerad and Amanda Miller pose. 

To be clear: the threat of abuses of the second amendment nullifies the benefits of that amendment. We agree not to kill others when we enter society, and so we should be able to agree not to brandish instruments with no purpose but killing when we enter society.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good Guys with Guns Unable to Stop the Bad Guys with Guns. Case #???.

One of the arguments that the NRA has used to deny gun-control legislations is that the best solution to "bad guys" with guns is "good guys" with guns. Here's an example where that did not work, surprisingly.

My condolences to the families of those killed.

The NRA and gun manufacturing industry, who have lobbied successfully to end any reasonable gun control, are responsible for these deaths.

They are terrorist organizations, clearly a threat to public weal.