Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Kates-Mauser investigation

An article from the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy has had a tremendous effect on my thinking about gun control. Don Kates and Gary Mauser examine the degree to which and in what manner complete firearm prohibition would affect murder and suicide rates. It reminded me a lot of some of the realizations that occurred after doing a basic amount of research on gun prohibitions and gun violence across the United States.  Then I concluded that most of the United States was no more violent than Switzerland, where all citizens have a firearm, and that gun violence is primarily a problem in urban areas.  Moreover, I also learned that gun related violence was by and far the result of handgun shootings and not assault weapons or rifles.

Personally, this has been fairly disturbing, as it has convinced me that many of my basic intuitions are incorrect, if not bordering on fanatical.  

Kates and Mauser provide a public service in examining the seeming prima facie truism that less guns result in less violence, and more guns result in more violence. They find no such correlation when examining a series of European nations (what most people might accept as a reasonable control group for comparison with the United States). In fact, they found that where gun prohibition was most strict, violence was very high.  

[B]oth sides of the gun prohibition debate are likely wrong in viewing the availability of guns as a major factor in the incidence of murder in any particular society. ... Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show the way that it matters is more guns equal less crime.

This is a shocking revelation, at least for me.  For gun rights activists, a point of celebration. 

The mother of Martin Luther King was also assasinated by a madman with a gun.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gun Rights Activist Threatens the Lives of State Legislators

From what I understand, Mr. Watkins is hardly representative of most gun rights activists, since, at least according to, he is shunned by even the NRA, the same institution I would like to see abolished and which I modestly think is a threat to public weal.

What interests me more is some of his rhetoric, which I find compelling in certain simplistic ways, but which also explains certain values.

Mr. Watkins says, passionately, at one point:

And these are our rights that they're playing with. Okay? And I don't know if they forgot what their duty is but it's to protect the Constitution. And lemme remind you. Going against the Constitution is treason.

So eloquent one might be well confused for thinking him the Shakespeare of Tarrant Co., Texas. Apparently he was in a state of inebriation. A video can be found in the connected site, but I did not watch it because I hate to see people make fools out of themselves.

I am interested in this discussion of whose rights and the basis for them. For according to Mr. Tarrant, the rights of individuals are enshrouded within the Constitution [of the United States, presumably] like the features of an organism are contained within its DNA. That is to say, they are there and they cannot be changed.

Yet, he is wrong. For if that were true, then slavery would have made the Constitution spontaneously combust, since the actions of American citizens were contrary to what was written within it.  Mr. Watkins's statement could have been made by an abolitionist, or even a civil rights activists ...

Instead, let's substitute a more accurate view of the Constitution for this clearly false one. What the Constitution actually says, apart from any explanation, is, in part, meaningless. Really, what makes the constitution meaningful in any way is the way that it is interpreted, by which I mean, not merely or even mostly explained, but executed.

If you have a view that is contrary to this, please let me know and explain why, but I am not sure that I can see how that could be possible.  Even my explanation bears some considerable unpacking, but I think it is a tremendously more accurate view than that of Mr. Watkins and most gun rights activists, which frequently argue for their rights based on this conceptualization.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kid kills friend with 9mm and then takes a trophy selfie

Kid spends the rest of his youth in youth prison, and wishes every day that he hadn't had that gun. 

Gun rights activists proudly champion boy's right to kill his friend, note that the gun was not obtained legally, and cannot do anything about illegal gun actions.  Somehow sleep at night knowing that they are complicit in the murder of yet another child.

Responsible gun-owner kills two adults and two children, self

He killed two adults, one of which was his ex-wife. Then he shot four children, between the ages of 7 and 15; two died and the other two are in critical but stable condition.

Why do they kill themselves? Because they realized they have done something horrible, something that they could not live with for the rest of their lives. Something that, had they not had access to a firearm, perhaps they would have never have done.

Responsible gun-owner claims black person shot him.

Responsible gun-owner claims black person shot him. 

Gun rights = institutional racism.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

3-year-old girl shoots her parents with a loaded gun.

The gun was purchased that day, and left on a dorm-room type refrigerator, in easy reach of the child ... loaded ... in a purse. After they were shot, the father put the weapon back into the purse back onto the refrigerator! And the gun was not confiscated?


Shooting at Pittsburgh Mall, Feb. 8th, 2015