June 03, 2006

Gun violence

Writing about web page http://woundedinamerica.org/

I'll just leave some interesting facts from this site:

During the 20th century more Americans were killed by gun violence within the U.S. than died from combat wounds, disease, and accidents in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnamese War, and the Gulf War combined. (National Center for Health Statistics and the Department of Veteran Affairs)
Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death for American Blacks, Hispanics, Native Indians, male youth, and white males between the ages of 15–64 years.

And also from the Indymedia article that referred me to the site:

Firearm homicide was the number one cause of death for American Black men ages 15–34 and the leading cause of death for all Black Americans 15–24 year olds.

Oh, but wait..I forgot, the "right to bear arms" trumps the lot.

The question to ask is, how many more people have to die?


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  1. Ken Lyman

    Unfortunately, to ban ownership of handguns in the US would not solve the problem for some time. The guns usually used in violent acts are stolen or 'street' guns. Usually, the term right to bear arms was thought to originally mean the right for rifles and the lot (excluding machine guns and other weapons of mass destruction).

    While it would be nice to think that banning weapon ownership in the US would solve the problem, it would not. I propose that people need to look at the media that desensitizes (yes, I'm a Yank) people to violence and gun violence in particular.

    We need to make violent death at the hand of another an act of visciousness and senseless. People need to see these acts as a horrible injustice to others as well as themselves.

    03 Jun 2006, 21:37

  2. I completely agree, it's a massive cultural problem. Although I still think that to continue to uphold the legality of the mechanism by which all these people die is completely immoral.

    It would be nice to think that a ban would completley solve the problem, and as you rightly said, it is not, BUT it must be a step in the right direction.

    03 Jun 2006, 21:57

  3. John

    What about Switzerland where homicide rates are very low yet high rate of gun ownership?

    Or places like South Africa and Russia where it is illegal to carry a gun yet homicide rates are much higher than the US?

    03 Jun 2006, 22:03

  4. 100 years ago in Britain, you could walk into a shop and walk out with a gun, yet gun crime was almost unheard–of. Since 1997, when handguns were banned in Britain, gun violence has roughly doubled.

    What's more, I think I'm right in saying that very little gun crime in this country involves legally–held weapons.

    It seems to have little to do with easy (legal) access to firearms and everything to do with culture.

    03 Jun 2006, 22:13

  5. at least when you ban all guns then it means that the police can get involved as soon as they see a gun because it is a crime – if some guns are legal then they will not investigate all gun crime… as for what you said, Edward, about the crime since 1997 most truely criminal crime rates have increased; but this is natural considering we have a government who is completely inadequate at even keeping control over their own departments – let alone the whole country – if they just let less violent criminals out of prison early or when they shouldn't be released anyway then we would have a lot less crime anyway

    (In the interest of fairness I should say that I am a card holding member of the Conservative party – someone has to be part of the solution…)

    03 Jun 2006, 22:40

  6. at least when you ban all guns then it means that the police can get involved as soon as they see a gun because it is a crime

    You also penalise a lot of people who happen to like a fairly harmless sport. There are thousands and thousands of people in this county who enjoy shooting for recreation, and who used to enjoy shooting pistols until it was criminalised.

    Arguing that we should ban all guns so that anyone possessing a gun is automatically a criminal assumes that nobody is likely to want a gun for a legal purpose. The reduction in crime it achieves is disproportionate to the enjoyment it takes away from those who enjoy the sport.

    (In the interest of fairness I should say that I am a card holding member of the Conservative party – someone has to be part of the solution

    Me too – but arguing that a blanket ban on something is a good idea regardless of how many people enjoy it legally is pretty un–conservative :)

    03 Jun 2006, 23:54

  7. I refer you to the Dunblane Massacre and the Hungerford Massacre. Two of the most notorious/memorable events in living memory to do with gun crime in the UK.

    On both occasions the guns used were legally acquired.

    Thankfully, we saw sense after these two shock events, and realised that the law should not facilitate a person acquiring the weapon(s) and ammunition that he/she then uses to kill. After both events, the law was strengthened in terms of restricting gun ownership, to a virtual ban on handguns after Dunblane.

    Unfortunately, as was mentioned earlier, concerning the US, the desensatizing effect of repeated media reports of "yet another gun victim" means these shock events have little effect on legislation (see Columbine, where the largest effect it had was for Michael Moore to persuade K–Mart to cease stocking 9mm ammunition).

    As for the 'sport' of guns… well if people want to play with a toy that's sole purpose is to kill/maim, then I should think they should expect some very heavy restrictions, if not a complete ban.

    04 Jun 2006, 00:26

  8. sorry… in previous post replace "sole purpose is" with "designed"..

    I don't want to be misunderstood in that I know people shoot clay pigeons intead of real ones, and targets intead of people etc, which could be 'legitimate' uses for what is only primarily a killing tool…

    04 Jun 2006, 00:40

  9. John

    I refer you to the Dunblane Massacre and the Hungerford Massacre. Two of the most notorious/memorable events in living memory to do with gun crime in the UK.

    You are making the big assumption that with a ban on all guns these incidents would never have occured.

    Also what about the attacks that occured on Sept. 11 2001 where around 3000 people were killed yet not a single gun was used.

    With regards to Columbine…don't forget the kids acquired the guns illegally any way, as well as having made several explosives from instructions off the internet. If guns had been a lot harder to come by I don't think this would have stopped them from carrying out the attacks, they would have merely used explosives and other weapons.

    04 Jun 2006, 01:31

  10. Ken Lyman

    I have to say again, this is a cultural/social issue of the media and the responsibility it has in desensitizing the population to the result of violence. Life is not a TV show, yet many people see it that way. And of the effects of 'bullying' on others (someone mentioned Columbine earlier).

    The media needs to take responsibility for much of how our societies view violent behavior. It should not be glorified as power or of being 'sexy'. It should be shown as the horror it is.

    04 Jun 2006, 05:45

  11. Andy

    Whilst I accept that a ban on hand guns in the states wouldn't necerssarily stop gun crime overnight, it would at least stop the production of guns. Whilst most guns used in crime may be illegally owned/purchased they must surely be legally made.
    The argument that sport is a good enough reason to keep guns legal is erroneous as a very small percentage of crime is committed by sporting weapons. I refer to the use of sub–automatic machine guns, automatic shotguns and the like, which have no sporting merit at all.
    By banning most weapons if not all the production of these weapons would slow down therby reeducing the ease of access to these weapons and the number of them, this has to be the first step in reducing gun crime and gun death.

    04 Jun 2006, 10:00

  12. "but arguing that a blanket ban on something is a good idea regardless of how many people enjoy it legally is pretty un–conservative"

    just thought I should mention that I'm a Thatcherite Conservative; which means economic liberalism but with quite a bit of state intervention in the private sphere… with a little bit of the "one nation" tradition thrown in for the paternalism. So it is in a Conservative tradtion… your ideas may vary

    04 Jun 2006, 10:24

  13. I agree with Ken, how society guns them is the main problem.


    (Don't know what year this was but I believe the general trend is still accurate enough)

    I certainly wouldn't advocate the legalisation of guns in countries where they are currently illegal but I think a carpet ban on all guns where they are already legal would not be the most effective way to solve gun crime problems.

    04 Jun 2006, 11:01

  14. I agree.. but the most effective way of solving gun crime must involve a ban, must involve some sort of method of destroying guns already owned, and must address the social issues that mean gun crime is so prevalent (particularly in the US).

    The graph proves nothing, except that the US seems to be an exceptional case. It could be evidence of a 'critical mass' of gun ownership that leads to higher mortality..

    But, even assuming this is a cultural problem for the US, surely this means the ownership of guns in the US (or elsewhere where there is a gun 'culture') should be limited. If citizen's in a country are, for whatever reason, more likely to blow each other up with a gun, then this is the best reason to limit/ban their use.

    Long–term solutions (like addressing social issues/gang culture etc) are fantastic in the long-term, but they fall far short of (even possibly) stopping the next guy that walks into a gun shop in the US from buying the gun that he's going use one day to kill somebody (or indeed himself). Human beings a mentally fragile. Anybody with access to a killing machine could in the future us it, maliciously, for it's original purpose (again I reference the Hungerford Massacre).

    But you may say, 'he'd probably get the gun illegally anyhow'. I can't argue with this, because I don't know how easy it is to get a gun illegally, but that is beside the point. The government simply shouldn't endorse it by legality.

    Inevitability in the short term shouldn't be sufficient for legality.

    04 Jun 2006, 11:56

  15. Christopher Rossdale

    I'm not 100% sure how I feel on this issue, just a few thoughts….

    – Gun production is an expensive process; putting far far greater controls on the industry might help to reduce the number of weapons on the market. We add to the troubles by overproducing, putting loose controls on the actors allowed to purchase arms, it won't solve it, but it isn't helping.

    – One of the largest domains of gun–related crime in America is gangs. Gangs tend to thrive on the criminalisation of drugs, running large syndicates buying and selling, and warring with other gangs for territory and supremacy. Drug legalisation would remove this power from the dealers, although I can't see them falling apart quite so quickly. There are many other good reasons for the legalisation of drugs (which I see as the lesser of two evils), but one of the main ones is the way professional gang–members thrive on them.

    – The culture of 'the right to protect yourself' in America won't just go away. However many people instinctively protect themselves because so many have guns. It's a chicken and egg situation there – making guns illegal however would certainly reduce the number of law–abiding houseowners who keep a gun in the bottom drawer of their desk 'for protection'. I believe the statistics show that these people are among the largest causer of gun–related deaths (through either loosing control of their anger, or through kids picking the guns up and pissing about with them).

    04 Jun 2006, 12:09

  16. Christopher Rossdale

    Guess I should've grammar–checked that entry, makes some kind of sense though….

    04 Jun 2006, 12:11

  17. Christopher Rossdale

    I can't argue with this, because I don't know how easy it is to get a gun illegally

    Worryingly, apparently

    04 Jun 2006, 12:12

  18. Thank you, Ken on comment one. Gang violence has little to do with legal ownership of guns. It has nothing to do with "right to bear arms" and "right to protect one's property". Christ, Scott, that's basic.

    That percentage of households with guns figure I don't believe for a second. Maybe if it is "privately owned handguns per household as a percentage of households", ie. if there were three households, one with 3 guns, and the other two with none, the figure would be 100%. I don't believe 40% of American households have a gun in them.

    "Whilst I accept that a ban on hand guns in the states wouldn't necerssarily stop gun crime overnight, it would at least stop the production of guns."

    Correct! Because armies and security services, state and private, worldwide, don't require guns! You absolute dweeb. The sub–machine guns you talk about are made specifically for law–enforcement. They are not produced with the idea of being used by civilians in illegal operations. Talk about making gun production illegal implies disbanding your army and police force, it's dream talk.

    On another point. Making private gun ownership illegal in America is not going to happen, so start thinking about womething else.

    04 Jun 2006, 14:00

  19. John

    but the most effective way of solving gun crime must involve a ban, must involve some sort of method of destroying guns already owned

    Not necessarily. There have been several studies which have shown that right–to–carry laws have led to reduced crime and murder rates. Again Scott I will mention the fact that Switzerland(as well as other countries) has one of the highest rates of gun ownership yet one of the lowest rates of homicide. If you could explain how that fits into you little idea that solving gun crime must involve a ban.

    As people have mentioned in the comments, banning guns is not really the answer. It is more likely due to a social problem often fuelled by the media etc. But having said that the US is not that dangerous a country, depending on whose statisitics you look at the UK can be seen as dangerous as the US. And the US is clearly not amongst the highest murder rates in the world. In country's like Columbia and South Africa I doubt the media there are to blame.

    04 Jun 2006, 14:11

  20. Gang violence has little to do with legal ownership of guns. It has nothing to do with "right to bear arms" and "right to protect one's property". Christ, Scott, that's basic.

    Looking over my comments, I never mentioned gang violence… so I don't know where that came from, however, assuming you mean what I said about socio–cultural aspect of gun crime, I refer you to comment no. 3:

    [Gun crime/viloence is] a massive cultural problem. Although I still think that to continue to uphold the legality of the mechanism by which all these people die is completely immoral. It would be nice to think that a ban would completley solve the problem, and as you rightly said, it is not, BUT it must be a step in the right direction.

    Reading over this the 'upholding the legality of the mechanism by which these people die' is vague. I was not refering to gang deaths per se, in that case, almost surely the guns used would be illegal. However, to say that US citizens have the right own a gun, when so many of her children are being slaughtered by them year on year, is ludicrous.

    I know I'm idealistic, sometimes I wish I had the pragmatic attitude displayed in all the points above, but I don't see fault in arguing that it is morally wrong for a government to not legislate to heavily restrict/ban guns among the population in all circumstances, regardless of the crude death figures in a particular country. As I keep saying, of course, social reasons behind any high morbidity rate has to be addressed, but my point remains valid.

    I don't know why everyone keep disagreeing with me so much when I agree with all your points about addressing the real causes of gun crimes, the only thing I'm adding is to go further and ban guns altogether among the general population.

    Making private gun ownership illegal in America is not going to happen, so start thinking about womething [sic] else.

    I don't think it will either, but that shouldn't stop me saying it should happen.

    04 Jun 2006, 14:38

  21. John

    I don't know why everyone keep disagreeing with me so much when I agree with all your points about addressing the real causes of gun crimes, the only thing I'm adding is to go further and ban guns altogether among the general population.

    I am disagreeing because I don't see how banning guns will have a good effect on gun or any other crime. If a criminal thinks you may have a gun in your house then he may think twice about robbing you. If you ban guns then the criminal doesn't really have to worry that you may have some gun stashed away.

    Scott I will ask you again, how can you explain how Switzerland has such a low crime rate yet such a high rate of gun ownership if, as you seem to believe, gun ownership leads to increases in crime.

    04 Jun 2006, 14:48

  22. Switzerland isn't the US. It doesn't have the same problem as we have been discussing concerning the reasons for the unusually high deaths from guns in the US, on which we agree.

    I can see how you believe that this effects my main point, but I don't think it does. I am far from arguing that a high percentage of people owning guns is necessary and sufficient for an increased number of people shot by guns. As I said above in a previous post, the US is an exeptional case.

    To comment on this problem in the entirety, I'm coming from 2 questions, 'How do we reduce gun crime?' and 'Should members of the general population have the right carry deadly weapons?' (which is indeed the ultimate, long–run question to answer).

    The answer to the first, would be to takle the social problems which have already been commented on. I believe a ban, together with this would also be helpful. On whether people should have right to own a weapon, I believe no.

    A practical example is the US in comparison to other countries. In the US, we have seen an extremely pervasive violent gun–culture*, leading to the inevitable higher deaths. The right for an american to bear arms surely has helped this culture to gain footing (although not ignoring other factors such as social exclusion and widespread poverty). Fortunatley it seems this culture hasn't occured in Switzerland (and probably won't), where, with the large number of guns in the general population, such a youth culture could potentially be quite catastrophic. This culture is slowly moving over to the UK, but fortunately again, there are relatively few guns within the general population because of the ban in place, hence the, although serious, less acute problem.

    The point about how simply banning guns (without doing any thing else I assume) could actually raise crime is an interesting one, but it doesn't change my answer to the above questions.

    The solution is complicated, the answer is not simply a ban. But, assuming that talkling the social problems that most here think is the ultimate answer has been achieved, which are the safer streets, the ones where the public are allowed to own guns, or the ones where the sales of guns to the public is banned?

    As I said above, I'm idealistic (you may say naive), but ultimately, and in the long–run, the overwhelming majority of the public have no right to carry or own weapons designed to kill, and no statistics or arguments you can make saying that guns make us safer will change my mind.

    • for lots of reasons, such as waring gangs in the cities battleing over the illegal drugs trade, plus other soci–ecomomic factors. I'm sure an anthropologist could give a good explanation..

    04 Jun 2006, 15:36

  23. The point at the bottom is supposed to be footnote relating to the * in the main comment

    04 Jun 2006, 15:38

  24. John

    To comment on this problem in the entirety, I'm coming from 2 questions, 'How do we reduce gun crime?' and 'Should members of the general population have the right carry deadly weapons?' (which is indeed the ultimate, long–run question to answer).

    Ok in my view in answer to the first I think we can reduce gun crime through tackling social and other problems. A case in point: NYC. This city used to have a very high crime rate but this has been dramatically dropping over the last decade. How has this been achieved? well the city adopted a "zero tolerance" policy on all crimes. They targeted even small, seemingly petty crimes such as fare dodging and graffiti and by preventing these 'petty' crimes this resulted in a dramatic reduction of crime across the city. There was no need to ban guns as this would have no real effect on the crime rates.

    I personally don't think a ban would have any good affect I think it is far better to concentrate on other factors without the need for a ban.
    In answer to the second, the American Constitution gives the American people the right to bear arms. I think to impose a ban would be a further attempt to erode the civil liberties of the USA with no real concrete reason to ban the weapons.

    04 Jun 2006, 16:36

  25. I'm oddly reminded of the family guy episode where the founding fathers were arguing whether the clause that allowed each american the right to own the arms of a bear was too vague…

    But anyway, I think on banning guns, we're just gonna disagree whatever happens..

    04 Jun 2006, 16:52

  26. John

    I'm oddly reminded of the family guy episode where the founding fathers were arguing whether the clause that allowed each american the right to own the arms of a bear was too vague

    LOL that was pretty funny from what I remember when I saw it.

    04 Jun 2006, 17:12

  27. John, you have a good point about zero–tolerance; it would be a good way to cut crime and one I would like to see here.

    Whilst I am on the subject of reducing crime this seems like it might be a good time to mention that increasing the punishment for crimes, if done far enough, will reduce crimes. As someone said at one of our first meetings over 30 weeks ago (has it really been that long…) if you increase either the punishment given or the probability of being caught then crime will fall. This is where it applies to this discussion;

    1) if we introduce a ban on all guns then the probability of being caught will increase because all guns are illegal and so are easier to identify.
    2) if we increase the punishment for having a gun then the number of people willing to take the risk will fall.

    Lets think back in England about 400 years – there was no police force so P (getting caught) was very low, maybe 0.01. The punishment (for a wife poisoning her husband) was boiling to death in oil – a very high cost. The crime rate was fairly low then. If America (and I will distinguish America and England from countries like Switzerland because we seem empirically to have a more violent culture) banned the holdig of guns then P (catching someone who is going to use a gun to commit a crime) will increase and if they made the punishment, for the sake of argument, capital then the number of people willing to take the risk would be very low. So crime would fall. : )

    04 Jun 2006, 17:32

  28. Andy

    I accept that banning guns would not completely stop gun production but it would stop the abundance of guns been made, plus it would stop any more entering the system, thereby reducing the number of guns. My main point is that although many guns used in crime may be illegally aquired at some point they must have been legally made and bought.

    Again with the sub machine guns etc. they may be designed for law enforcement but in the states are available to buy in many gun shops, clearly "normal" citezens can get hold of them.

    With the talk of Switzerland or other countries having a high rate of gun ownership and low mortality rates, isn;t this to do with the type of weapons owned? I think I read once that the usual weapon owned was a hunting rifle or some form of shotgun as opposed to automatic handguns that are more widespread in the states, maybe a more meaningful graph would depict ownership of handguns against gun related deaths?

    04 Jun 2006, 17:53

  29. Just a quick point about machine guns: you can buy them legally in America, but it's incredibly difficult. There's lots of paperwork, background checks, etc etc (so I'm told). It's not like you can go in and buy one off the shelf.

    04 Jun 2006, 23:06

  30. In response to comment 7, Scott:

    I refer you to the Dunblane Massacre and the Hungerford Massacre. Two of the most notorious/memorable events in living memory to do with gun crime in the UK. On both occasions the guns used were legally acquired.

    That's true. But consider these points:

    Firstly, that the death tolls from these events amounted to about thirty. Don't get me wrong – they were tragic, horrific, evil events and every death was awful – but compared to the death toll as a result of illegal guns the death toll was relatively low. And not all of those who get shot but illegally–held weapons are gangsters, either.

    Secondly, that Hamilton shouldn't have been granted a license. The police were aware there was something wrong with him when they granted it to him (I can find exact details if you want, or google yourself). Dunblane was the result of an individual failure in the licensing system – a one–off case. The response, which was to remove all pistols from legal ownership, was disproportionate; it was like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.

    Thirdly, that emotional, extraordinary and highly unusual cases make bad law. You say that we saw sense after these two events; in fact, there was an outpouring of emotion among politicians and the public, and a feeling that 'something had to be done' (at least after Dunblane). Heart triumphed over head. What we don't know is whether what was done (a ban on handguns) has had any effect. There was a massacre in '87, another in '96; the fact that we've gone ten years without one doesn't mean there won't be another just because the weapons are illegal. Any nut can get a pistol if he's determined enough to do so.

    So I'd argue that the ban of 1996 (along with that of smaller calibre pistols the following year) was a disproportionate response to the events at Dunblane. It was disproportionate because, while it took the enjoyment of a sport away from tens of thousands, it hasn't prevented innocent people being killed by illegal guns (and I would imagine this adds up to a lot more than thirty). And I fear that there will be another massacre in the future, because it isn't difficult to obtain unlicensed, uncontrolled weapons.

    Unfortunately, as was mentioned earlier, concerning the US, the desensatizing effect of repeated media reports of "yet another gun victim" means these shock events have little effect on legislation (see Columbine, where the largest effect it had was for Michael Moore to persuade K–Mart to cease stocking 9mm ammunition).

    The US is a completely different matter which I'll try and remember to post about tomorrow. But regarding the graph in comment 13: if you include Switzerland (guns in most houses, probably more than the US), and Russia/South Africa (guns more or less illegal), the graph would look completely different. I re–iterate my point about culture.

    (I'm a little tired, so apologies for bad grammar etc.)

    04 Jun 2006, 23:31

  31. The vast majority of gun crime in America is due to illegally obtained guns, which is the entire point. Also, banning guns completely in America does not solve the problem as the illegal guns in America aren't necessarily made in America. Furthermore, banning guns completely is not required in stopping gun crime simply because it is possible to possess a gun and not commit a crime. My graph was to demostrate that guns were present in many societies and it's the affect of media and degree of control, not ban, on guns that appear to be decisive factors. It's the type of people that get their hands on the guns that's the problem, and nearly all of them do so illegally. Saying it's illegal to own a gun does not stop people who obtain guns illegally anyway. There should definetely be tougher laws on how to get hold of a gun in America, but a total ban? No.

    Whilst I think the introduction of guns into society is a mistake I think it's far too late down the line to try and ban them now in America, I honestly think it would do more harm than good. How do you get them all back for a start, economically the country would suffer with no one buying guns or ammo anymore, and criminals would still get their hands on them. It's like suggesting everyone get rid of all nuclear weapons because all they do is kill but then "the bad guys" already have nukes and don't obey this law. If no one had nukes to begin with then it's a great idea but that's not the case with guns in America.

    However, I think the primary reason guns shouldn't be banned is because America's don't want them to be. Imposing your views and ideals on other cultures who are happy with the way they live is hardly ethical or moral within itself.

    05 Jun 2006, 00:08

  32. Ken Lyman

    Amendment II

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    This is the second amendment to the American constitution. Notice that the right to bear arms is directly related to the establishment of a "well regulated militia". Why, in 1770's, did the writers feel that it was necessary to include this item in the constitution? I don't think they any particular fondness for bear arms, so it must have been in relation to the protection of the population.

    Protection from whom? There is discussion that the purpose was to show the world that the population is armed and ready to defend the country even if a standing army is small in number. The militia was always armed and 'ready to go'. We call the militia the National Guard or the Reserves now. Even then, they are not allowed to take their M–16 home with them.

    So how did this become the right to bear arms? And I ask again, against whom? The Native Americans who were so brutally massacred by the invading European–Americans? And what does this have to do with the violence in the US? Sometimes a problem needs to be deconstructed back to the origin to understand how it developed to what it is.

    I would imagine the reason for weapons by citizens in Europe was the same, for protection of country. But less scrupulous people decided to use them to kill or terrorize the law–abiding folks in the world. Guns are power and cause fear. Perhaps thats why the gangs in this country use them. They see power as a means to respect. Their lives are quite limited regarding the topics of ethics and social order. They live in a sub–culture that has developed its own standards. It's interesting that a lot of the black violence is done by blacks against blacks. Again, it's the rules of their sub–culture that they abide by. Sometimes, they impose their societal rules against the shop owner or 'mushrooms' who get in the way of the bullets meant for another.

    Can we expand this discussion to the socio–economics of society? And why they (the gangs) feel the need to develop their own rules? And how our media has taken and made this the 'cool' culture to portray? Even some of the non–gang youth take the culture and make it 'chic'. And trust me, the media latches onto and even creates these cool and chic things in order to enhance their coffers (wallets/purses).

    So, I guess banning the handgun will not solve the problem. But their's no use in keeping them in the hands of the average person just waiting to be stolen (a usual source for them) – like throwing a new log on the fire. Banning is a start but the fire burns deeper than that.

    05 Jun 2006, 04:34

  33. The response [to Dunblane], which was to remove all pistols from legal ownership, was disproportionate; it was like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.

    I'm gonna be picky and say that this is a false analogy for the point you're making, by which your implying the "nut" of gun crime was cracked (albeit smashed to smitherines aswell). I understand where you're coming from though, but I would argue that the nut was resting on a large solid block of titanium… think about it …

    Maybe better would be to say the responce to dunblane was like trying to crack a nut with a sladgehammer that was resting on a sheet of glass..and missing..

    Imposing your views and ideals on other cultures who are happy with the way they live is hardly ethical or moral within itself.

    Imposing by force, of course is wrong, but in terms of argument and persuasion, this depends on your view of morality. I hold to the doctrine of universalism, whereby a moral or ethic is only held by a person if she/he believes it should be the case. Other wise, what's the point? At least I think that's universalism.. it's been a long time since by religious studies AS level.. For example, give your statement, you will probably believe tolerance of other cultures is right, but this is only the case since you believe everybody should be tolerant of other cultures..or something like that anyway.

    But I think this is tangential, and I don't want to get into an argument about it..

    05 Jun 2006, 10:32

  34. "Imposing by force, of course is wrong, but in terms of argument and persuasion, this depends on your view of morality."

    But imposing a ban on everyone is achieving your goals by force. You are not persuading people to give up their arms voluntarily, you are forcing them to.

    05 Jun 2006, 10:41

  35. Yeah that's true..sorry, that was a bit dim.. I'm very tired..

    I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt and say that I meant to infer than imposing morals by force in terms of forcing an elected government to legislate, given that you're not necessarily a member of it's constituents.. That is, me forcing the US to ban guns (which of course is impossible anyway, but that's beside the point). If another culture/country wants its citizens to own guns, who am I to stop them? But that shouldn't stop me using a moral point, which is that I beileve it is wrong, and it shouldn't be the case.

    The notion of a government imposing bans being immoral is a bit of an anarchist statement (why ban murder by any means?), but I think you were just using it break holes in my argument, which of course I accept.

    05 Jun 2006, 10:59

  36. Sure, you can say morally you disagree with guns, but that isn't justification for enforcing a ban, although I not sure if that is what you are suggesting. If you could ban guns in America today would you do it?

    "The notion of a government imposing bans being immoral is a bit of an anarchist statement (why ban murder by any means?), but I think you were just using it break holes in my argument, which of course I accept."

    A government is ment to be representative of it's people, if people wanted guns banned then the government would heed this and do so. The majority of people think murder is wrong and so they agree to ban it. However, the majority of people don't want guns banned in America. Incidentally, banning murder doesn't stop it :p.

    05 Jun 2006, 13:59

  37. I just think that if you want to tackle guns in society, the overriding, long–term aim should be a ban for the vast majority of the public. From the arguments above, that might not be possible/practical immediately (although I would contest the extent of this to which people are describing). The aim of a policy surely should be to address the reasons why it's not possible/practical to do this, with the long term aim of ridding society of the weapons.

    Just by saying that in the current climate the banning of guns may not be a good idea, which is a valid opinion, doesn't mean that I am not justified in saying that citizens should not have a fundamental right to own a firearm. They are not contradictory opinions.

    Just because of realities today shouldn't mean that we should give up on what we believe is right for society in the long term.

    Anyhoo, I'm gonna stop now..I've been neglecting my revision for far too long..

    05 Jun 2006, 14:45

  38. As Bill Hicks pointed out:

    "There's no connection between having a gun and shooting someone and not having a gun and not shooting someone – studies have been made and you are fool and a communist to suggest otherwise

    05 Jun 2006, 15:02

  39. Jeremy

    Gun Laws in the US (alabama).

    1. Three day cooling after request
    2. If you are not identified as a 'problem' customer then you are granted licence to own, but not carry firearm
    3. Soon after (not sure of time but got impression it was less than 2 weeks) you can apply for a licence and to be registered as licenced to carry a concealed weapon on your person. You are again checked against the same computer records, and then either granted or refused.

    12 Jun 2006, 13:13

  40. "3 days!! But I'm angry NOW!" — Homer Simpson

    12 Jun 2006, 13:47

  41. M

    In Switzerland guns are typically stored locked in a gun cabinet and hardly ever brought out. So whilst the guns may be "owned" they are not exactly carried around in day to day living: link

    12 Jun 2006, 20:21

  42. bookratt

    Yank here. Not into gun culture, don't own one, don't advocate it, but am ashamed to say I agree with points made about the US and its gun culture. I see signs of its glorification not just on TV but in music, esp. music videos, lore/legend (Wild West gunslinging, the lone hero mythology associated with it).

    Origins for that loner myth and the dead–eye sharpshooter worship that surrounds it, stems, in part, from the fact that since its founding, this country has absorbed Europe's and now the rest of the world's second sons, outcasts, disinherited, persecuted, forlorn and hungry, who have had to fight for everything they've achieved. 1st sons inherited, others either lived off their largess and if that was not forthcoming, they either married other money, starved or emmigrated. Guess where they went?

    Our "classless" society doesn't primarily value old money, titles, family land and castles, but rather, the ability of one person, against all odds, of achieving success thru hard work, a result of hardening the mind and body and spirit to prevail over all. When you don't have access to established law and order, as was the case in this country for most of its history prior to 1900, you make your own. In the founding days of this country, that law tended to be one man with a gun, whether he be the lone rancher on thousands of acres in Texas or the men who opened up the West to settlement, etc.

    Mutliple gun ownership here is VERY common—–people "into" guns often own three or more. People I know who have them in the home "for protection" have usually never shot them. Bad news for the rest of us when they finally get around to it, I'd say.

    Most report only the legal weapns they own and omit banned/modified weapons (they legally sell attachments and hardware that make guns into semi autos and autos here). Even those who say they are law abiding, if they collect or love guns, don't report inherited ones.

    Dealers at gun shows don't have to do background checks—–just see a valid ID, which is easily faked. They do not have to adhere to the 3 day weapons ban at gun shows versus dealers who must do so at gun shops/stores. So that loophole needs to be closed quickly, despite the opposition from the hugely powerful gun lobby here.

    About the Swiss, the registered gun owners are given 50 rounds of ammo per gun owner, but are penalized if they open the sealed package it comes in—it is to be used for national defence only. Every male 15–49 if not actively serving in the military is legally a lifetime reserve member. Women can serve as combat troops. Women's 1 year military service is voluntary, but it is obligatory for males 20–30. Many women do in fact serve.

    Once per year any person who is a registered gun owner must present themselves personally for a shooting competence and gun safety test at a local range, plus prove they keep their weapon in good working order. So there may be one or more weapons in the home at any time, as most males 15 and up have them registered, BUT the training is different, the attitude is different, the general level of understanding of how the weapon works and the horror that can result from a weapon's misuse, etc, is different and the end result is they are not only better shots than we are, despite our spending on national defence, but they are better gun owners and dare I say, better world citizens.

    They are taught to shoot as a defence against invasion by a hostile force; they are not primarily taught to BE the hostile force.

    We in the US, who have unhappily and expensively become the world's peacekeepers, have learned to shoot first and ask questions later. We, too, could have the Swiss record on guns and gun violence if we stayed at home and learned only to defend our country and never left home in defense of someone else's.

    14 Jun 2006, 01:00

  43. bookratt

    In Pennsylvania where I live, it is even easier to get what is called a concealed carry permit, where you can hide the gun in your purse or in a holster on your body. They don't do a very extensive background check for that, they piggy–back it to your approved 3–day wait period and license for the gun you alredy own, they simply run your soc. security id number and if you are not a violent felon—you get the permit. Violent felon typically means convicted murderer or rapist here.

    I was the propert manager for an upscale, luxury apartment community where one guy typically walked around with his handgun, a desert eagle, openly displayed for all to see. He was an odd guy and frequented the bars late at night, often arriving home to the building drunk and acting aggressively when I would confront him about his loudness, swearing etc.

    Later, he attempted a kidnapping/ rape in the elevator, with this weapon used as intimidation and was convicted of those crimes. He can now no longer legally own a weapon in this state.

    Before the crime ocurred, when people complained and I spoke with him about keeping the gun properly holstered or concealed, he said "whatever, lady."

    When I called the state police, they ran his name, ss id# and his permit # and said "sorry, he's got a permit, you can't restrict his right to carry the weapon". We had to get a lawyer and threaten to evict this guy before he would agree to keep it completely concealed/not visible while inside the building, in the parking lot, while at the pool or gym on premises—or while doing laundry! He'd hold it in one hand at times, to carry grocery bags into the building with the other. It was unnerving, to say the least.

    After the crimes, we were able to evict him —–but ONLY after he was convicted of the offences. While he awaited trial and was out on bond, living back in his same apartment in the same building, I and his attempted victim were face to face with him nearly every day. Only when the conviction came thru could I legally evict him and then, by law, he had 30 days to quit the premises from the date I gave him offical notice. I often wonder what he would have done to me with that gun, if he still had it. When they searched his apartment after the crime happened, they found more than 30 weapons, almost all of them illegal. Because of that they took them all, including the legally owned gun used in the crime itself. They told me that if they hadn't found the illegal weapons they would have handed him back his legal weapon right then and there—minutes after the crime occurred.

    And they said the only reason he was convicted of the two felonies and they were not plead down to misdemeanors is because the crimes were caught on the elevator cameras from two different angles. The cameras activated automatically when he pushed the emergency stop button to stop the elevator between floors to accost his victim.

    14 Jun 2006, 01:26

  44. bookratt, that's one of the most scary things I've ever heard. I always admired American justice because at least the judges out there give real sentences for crimes (and the people serve them). But to give a gun back to someone who has just used it in a crime would be the most crazy ever. I kind of feel like the right to carry a concealed weapon only has one purpose – to committ a crime. Even if we accept that people only want to use guns for hunting and sport there is still no need for that… there is no even a need for it to protect your house.

    I've been shooting for fun (with a shotgun because it's just about all you can legally use here) and I enjoyed it; but if it was a choice between never being allowed to shoot or having people like that have guns I'd be ready to give up any gun strait away.

    14 Jun 2006, 10:06

  45. James

    Bookratt, your posts have made me think twice about legalising gun ownership. What are your thoughts on the police carrying guns? The average constable does not do so in the UK, though you now frequently see them carried by police at airports and, sadly, on apparently bungled terrorist raids on the evening news.

    Historically police carrying guns was not thought necessary, partly because of the trust that existed between the police and the local community. Nowadays, however, with gang related gun crime and general violent crime on the increase in Britain, there are calls for it, particularly in the wake of the murder of a WPC who was responding to a burglary call–out at a nondescript shop (it was a travel agent, where you wouldn't have thought burglars would go with weapons, as opposed to a bank or jewellers, for example).

    Can we still be so complacent as not to require ordinary beat police to carry guns? When I went to Australia aged 16 I was shocked at the sight of it – bulging .38 specials on the side of normal cops – but this is another country and, it would seem, another age.

    14 Jun 2006, 12:12

  46. man, i love .38 special so much.

    16 Jun 2006, 04:03

  47. Christopher Rossdale

    If you arm the police, every petty criminal is going to go out and buy a gun – gangs will get more, they'll be more nervous and probably more trigger happy. Arming the police would lead to an underworld arms race. No question.

    16 Jun 2006, 13:06

  48. Not proved. It's a theory, Chris. Not a fact.

    17 Jun 2006, 14:43

  49. Richard Allan

    Chris: "the culture of 'the right to protect yourself' in America…"

    I find this comment disgraceful in its implication that citizens do not have this right. I can tell I'm about to go on a looong rant here, but before all self–control seeps away, I'd like to remind myself of the futility of arguing with people whose value–systems (if any) are so radically different from anything I would consider rational, or just. Maybe I've misinterpreted those inverted commas, Chris, but if you genuinely believe that the right of self defence is some kind of delusion, then I don't believe you have the right to live in any kind of civil society. After all, Man has no rights if he is unable to defend them, personally. Delegating the protection of your rights to the government is a bit of a no–brainer to me, seeing as most governments seem to be more interested in VIOLATING your rights than protecting them.

    I think I should try and inject some facts into the highly emotionalised debate. (Rather than merely ranting).

    If that little chart is correct, I work out about 18,000 gun homicides a year in America. 18,000 too many, of course, but contrast that figure with 1.8 MILLION incidences of self–defence with guns per year (most of which did not involve the weapon being discharged). I fail to see how banning guns would not result in a hundred–fold increase in the crime rate. Also, the statement that
    "I believe the statistics show that these people are among the largest causer of gun–related deaths (through either loosing control of their anger, or through kids picking the guns up and pissing about with them)."
    is patently false. As recently shown in Freakonomics, children are 100 times more likely to be killed by a swimming pool in the garden than a gun in the home. The media over–reports gun deaths because these are more sensational; on the subject of massacres, as many as a third of the "school shootings" in the US have been stopped by students or staff with guns. This, however, is never reported by the media. (I'd make some comment about the media having a pro–crime agenda in order to sell papers/adspace, but I wouldn't want to appear PARANOID, would I?)

    Bookratt's story is another nice attempt to appeal to emotion rather than to the facts. I'll simply ask, do you really think mandating that the woman (I assume) in the lift with him be DISARMED is the solution? If he hadn't had a gun, he could have raped her just as easily as with his Deagle (in fact, she might have got a hold of the gun, possibly tipping the odds in his favour while unarmed). But if SHE had been armed, don't you think she would have been better off? Obviously not, as Scott asks:
    "which are the safer streets, the ones where the public are allowed to own guns, or the ones where the sales of guns to the public is banned?"
    implying that the latter are safer. But I would argue, based on the evidence, and my own application of reason, that it is DEFINITELY the former. Remember that the VAST majority of citizens are law–abiding and reasonable. As stated above, there are many instances of individuals defending themselves with firearms, as well as saving the lives of police officers with them. Private citizens are also more accurate and less likely to harm bystanders with firearms than the police are, (probably because these citizens are more likely to be immersed in gun culture if they concealed–carry).

    23 Jun 2006, 22:34

  50. Richard Allan

    "This is the second amendment to the American constitution. Notice that the right to bear arms is directly related to the establishment of a "well regulated militia". Why, in 1770's, did the writers feel that it was necessary to include this item in the constitution? I don't think they any particular fondness for bear arms, so it must have been in relation to the protection of the population. "

    Firstly, "regulated" in the days of the Founding Fathers didn't have anything to do with government. They meant "well–trained", but completely independant of government. This was included as the second–most–important right of the American people for one reason: for protection against the government. The FFs are ALL turning in their graves (except Hamilton, that statist) at the extent to which Americans' rights have been violated by their government, and to which Americans have rolled over and taken it. And gun rights are the most important because even if all others have been taken away, guns allow you to fight back. Thus, the militia is entirely separate from the National Guard (as it includes ALL males of appropriate age), and indeed, having it controlled by the government defeats the entire purpose. And the FFs DID have a particular fondness for bearing arms: if not for the colonists' ownership and skill with firearms, America would still be a British colony.

    Finally, the issue of whether or not you have a right to carry a deadly weapon. Well, first off, EVERYTHING is a deadly weapon, even your bare hands. Of course, guns are DESIGNED to be deadly weapons, and have limited other purposes, but you could still stand to define your terms more clearly. Secondly, I believe that human beings DO have the right to keep and bear arms, because this does not, in itself, infringe the rights of others. It is only the use of arms to infringe the rights of others that should be illegal (as it is already). And I don't believe in the inevitable follow–up point that "people have the right to live in a society without guns" because what prevents me from saying that I have the right to live in a society WITH guns? (As I would). Two competing, mutually exclusive claims cannot be "rights".

    I think I better stop there, eh?

    23 Jun 2006, 22:35

  51. Joseph Stalin

    I like to throw poo

    23 Jun 2006, 22:57

  52. Haha, I was going to delete the comment above, but then I noticed from the IP address that it's from Richard above. Man, I wish we all had the stone cold, biting wit that that man displays..

    And may I say, I completely agree with you. The arguments you're throwing at this thread are only worth their weight in feaces..

    I mean, the main argument relies on the implication that the 'right to defend yourself' implies a right to own a machine that mechanises death, that is, a gun. That's quite a big logical step and would need explaining to provide a full argument. If you're able to, by all means go ahead..

    Also, I'd prefer if you wouldn't take quotes from me out of context.. the implication of safer streets without guns was with the assumption of the socio–economic issues that lead to crime are dealt with completely. I was merely pointing out the falsehood of the inalienable and universal right to own a firearm.

    24 Jun 2006, 03:01

  53. Richard Allan

    It's my brother. And why not delete it? Do you ENJOY seeing rubbish in your threads? It certainly looks like it ;)

    The RKBA is no different from any other right. On the grounds you attack it, EVERYTHING should be illegal! I mean, cars kill people all the time (more than guns do, truth be told): Wikipedia says
    "US Motor Vehicle Deaths—42,636 people died in motor vehicle accidents on the roadways of the United States in 2004"
    AND they destroy the environment! How many more people have to die? Alcohol causes violent, irresponsible behaviour, as well as liver disease and other health problems. How many more people have to die?

    I advocate treating people like adults, because you can't childproof the world.

    And the step from "the right to defend yourself" to the RKBA is simply the right to use the most effective means (I'm sure this point will be "debated", but I've already referenced the statistics that show it's true) to exercise your right of self–defence. And if you believe the RKBA is a falsehood, then try explaining how it violates anyone else's rights (unless used in a manner which is already illegal).

    24 Jun 2006, 09:34

  54. try explaining how it violates anyone else's rights (unless used in a manner which is already illegal).

    Fear? Intimidation? I sure as hell don't want to live next door to any one with a gun. Especially if they're as unstable as the man described by bookrat in the post above..

    The difference guns and other examples you gave above is that cars, alcohol etc are not deadly weapons, guns are. Guns have a purpose of killing/threatening to kill. The manufacturer of a car does not design the bonnet to be a more effective killing machine now does it. I'm sure the local brewery doesn't have meetings to decide how it can make people more violent from drinking their beer either.. As for health issues, alcohol can kill, yes, but only the consumer. Guns, however, do not simply have individual consequences, and secondary consequences occur not just from excessive use, as in the case of alochol (you don't tend to have to shoot 200 times to kill another person…unless you're drunk..). You may argue they have good consequences.. I tend to disagree, I feel they (..similar to alcohol in this way actually..) solve problems that they originally cause.

    24 Jun 2006, 11:49

  55. I would like to take up something that Richard said above;

    "This was included as the second–most–important right of the American people for one reason: for protection against the government."

    Don't you think that America throught the NRA has proved the exact opposite of this… they use influence, debate and incentives to keep the rights which they hold most dear; they have (as far as I am aware) never even tried to create an armed uprising to bring down the government… why when Bush does something they don't like which is too "statist" do they not shoot him? It is their right, right? Is it perhaps because violence will not influence the government but peaceful democract methods can? voting someone out of office is far more likely to work than shooting them.

    24 Jun 2006, 12:50

  56. Richard Allan

    Sure, those peaceful democratic methods have often served to bring down a government that had crossed the line into tyranny! I can think of many examples…
    And most people (in the victim disarmament camp, certainly) seem to believe that Bush stole both elections. So I fail to see how they can believe democracy is so effective.

    When the government in the US finally bans guns outright, THEN you will see an armed uprising. And based on the amount of training the good ol' gun nuts have with their rifles, vs. the fact that soldiers now require about 10,000 rounds to kill one enemy soldier, and the experience of the Soviets in Afghanistan, I know which side I would bet on (and which side I would fight on, if it came to that).

    Scott, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on our level of trust for our fellow citizens. I know that almost everyone I meet is peaceful, law abiding, and reasonable. I would only feel more secure in the knowledge that they were armed and ready to defend society against the minority of people who are incapable of respecting others' rights. However, if you genuinely feel such paranoia that anyone you meet is potentially a "mentally unstable" rapist/murderer, fine. But even then, wouldn't you rather be armed? OK, you'd rather there were no guns at all. But what if someone physically superior, or in a gang with superior numbers, tries to violate your rights? What then? The police can't be everywhere, you know.

    I made the point about the PURPOSE of guns/alcohol/cars myself. My argument was that cars and alcohol cause far more deaths than firearms. You may feel that the ancillary benefits of automobiles and alcohol outweigh the loss of life, but I'll reiterate the point I made about the number of crimes prevented by defensive handgun use in the US, in stating that the ancillary benefits of firearms FAR outweigh the costs, and that the benefits of firearms ownership are in terms of murders/rapes prevented, something you'd be hard pressed to disagree with.

    24 Jun 2006, 21:03

  57. if you genuinely feel such paranoia that anyone you meet is potentially a "mentally unstable" rapist/murderer, fine.

    Again, awesome piece of misquotation there… didn't say that at all.. I said I especially don't want a next door neighbour owning a gun if they are "unstable", like described in bookrat's post above. I don't think I even said "mentally"..

    Also:

    people…seem to believe that Bush stole both elections. So I fail to see how they can believe democracy is so effective.

    Yes, that was an instance of failed democracy (well, Florida 2000 anyhow, or so the evidence suggests). I wonder where your valiant and honourable gun–toting vigilante justice mob were then when the thousands of disenfranchised voters were being discriminated against by the US government?

    Vigilante 'justice' is not justice anyhow. An armed mob will always become corrupted by power, and to some extent their own ideology (which is the reason I assume that the, mostly white, republican gun nuts didn't do anything in Florida 2000. It might have been very different if it was the Democrats who stole the election).

    24 Jun 2006, 23:09

  58. Streetwise Education

    One thing I do know is that Education and Prevention must play a key role in reducing gang and gun culture. Check out the work I have done by visiting www.streetwiseinfo.co.uk or find us on my space on www.myspace.com/streetwiseinfo
    Join our movement to educate young people about the consequences of this mad craze.
    Mo s

    16 Feb 2007, 13:48


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