Maybe if moral cowardice cost money, it would be less common?

Heh. State representative Fred Maslack of Vermont has proposed a bill under which non-gun-owners would have to register and pay a fee. Entertainingly enough, there is actual justification for this in a careful reading of the Vermont state constitution.

The Hon. Rep. Maslack is joking. I think. And I’m against requiring people who don’t want to bear arms to do so. But gad, how tempting – because underlying his argument is a truth that the drafters of the Vermont and U.S. constitutions understood. People who refuse to take arms in defense of themselves and their neighbors are inflicting a cost on their communities far more certainly than healthy people who refuse to buy medical insurance (and yes, I do think that proposed mandate is an intended target of Maslack’s jab). That externality is measured in higher crime rates, higher law-enforcement and prison budgets, and all the (dis)opportunity costs associated with increased crime. And that’s before you get to the political consequences…

I’ve never made a secret of my evaluation that refusal to bear arms is a form of moral cowardice masquerading as virtue. Real adults know how precious human life is, when they are ethically required to risk it on behalf of others, and when killing is both necessary and justified. Real adults know that there is no magic about wearing a police or military uniform; those decisions are just as hard, and just as necessary, when we deny we’re making them by delegating them to others. Real adults do not shirk the responsibility that this knowledge implies. And the wistful thought Rep Maslack’s proposal leaves me with is…maybe if moral cowardice cost money and humiliation, there would be less of it.

164 thoughts on “Maybe if moral cowardice cost money, it would be less common?

  1. Didn’t read the last paragraph, sorry.

    > People who refuse to take arms in defense of themselves and their neighbors are

    If a bonkers mass murderer enters a school, or a convenience store and everyone is armed, there are many more endings than only someone calmly double-tapping him.

  2. Point taken. Perhaps absurdity can only be countered with absurdity. Maybe that’s where we are at the moment. But mandating life choices (or lifestyle), or penalizing lifestyle choices that have no practical effect on other individuals or society at large, is, in some measure, tyranny. Tyranny, no matter how seemingly mild at its inception, always becomes abusive and arbitrary.

    We go through life attempting to make sound choices and avoid poor ones because there are natural benefits and consequences. But that is often not enough for some people. If I drive a gas guzzler, I pay the consequence of higher fuel costs but maybe I get the benefit of a more comfortable ride or additional utility. But, for some people, that natural consequence does deter me enough for their arbitrary world view. So they want to impose an additional (arbitrary in nature and degree) deterrence, from which they collectively benefit. They make a “Butterfly Effect” argument that my choices affect everyone.

    I’d like to hear any one of the Supreme Court justices list just five example of things the 10th Amendment prohibits the Federal Government from doing.

  3. Free riding IS moral cowardice. Especially if it’s done consciously. Done unconsciously it’s simply moral ignorance.

  4. Not quite true. Some types of free riding (for instance, avoiding vaccination for your children) go beyond moral cowardice to actual iniquity. If the certain harm to random bystanders is vastly greater than any hypothetical risk to yourself or your loved ones, the calculus shifts. To do that requires not mere cowardice but actual sociopathy. Non-weapon-ownership is arguably not quite so horrible as that, so I’m willing to go with mere moral cowardice on the bill of charges.

  5. The jizya comes to mind as a historic parallel to Maslack’s proposal. I will think more about that, especially since the two seem more alike than I first thought.

  6. I’d like to hear any one of the Supreme Court justices list just five example of things the 10th Amendment prohibits the Federal Government from doing.

    Ever since Wickard, the Interstate Commerce clause has been interpreted to allow pretty much anything Congress wants to do.

    The only way to put teeth back in the 9th and 10th amendments is to repeal the 16th and 17th. A congress with one chamber elected by state legislators wouldn’t blackmail those legislators into passing laws the Congress has no power to pass directly (55 mph, 21 drinking age…). And without the income tax to do the bribing, they would have any money to do it with anyway. Instead, Congress would have to go back to making the states pay, in proportion to their enumeration in the Census, for the national government. And that’s not something even Representatives will easily vote to increase. (especially if they ever want to be a Senator)

  7. I have to disagree with the main idea here (though I do find Maslack’s proposal amusing). I don’t believe that refusing to carry a weapon yourself constitutes moral cowardice. Certainly, the sort of attitude that often goes with refusing to bear arms as a ‘moral principle’ is objectionable; I have had conversations with far too many people, who I otherwise respect and like, that indicate an attitude of firstly, willful ignorance towards the actual mechanics, safety and usage of firearms, and secondly, a strong tendency, either denying said ignorance or in its despite, to hold them in contempt, advocate their strong control, and deride those who carry them with various negative stereotypical images, and this sort of attitude seems to be, though I hesitate to make the assertion categorically, correlated with the traits ESR would probably dub moral cowardice. However, I believe that there are much less objectionable reasons not to bear arms–for one, the simple lack of time or patience to properly learn their use, in which case not bearing arms is obviously the prudent choice. One major purpose of society is to provide an environment in which individuals are not absolutely obligated to learn their physical self-defense in order to survive, and those who choose to avail themselves of this ability are not to be universally dubbed moral cowards. Or, to put it another way: ESR has in the past referred to society in terms of a metaphor involving wolves, sheep and sheepdogs. Are the sheep all moral cowards? If so, then that accusation could be leveled at most humans.

  8. Refusal to bear arms is a form of moral cowardice masquerading as virtue? Really? Yes, I’ll go out and buy a gun and training, then continue to train on a regular basis so that I won’t be absolutely useless with it in the low likelihood of an emergency. Depending on where I end up living after getting out of college, this may not even be very practical.

    Additionally, I’ll go through all sorts of freaking out when I have kids. Speaking as someone from a large family, kids get into everything. My parents didn’t keep any firearms around for precisely this reason. It’s a practical issue, not a moral one.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support gun ownership/carry, I’m aware of crime rate/gun stats, and I’ve fired various guns before. If a guy shows up at my university and starts shooting, I’ll be running toward the chaos, not away from it, regardless of armed state. You can talk about the chances of survival for everyone around me, my combat efficiency, or how stupid I was to get killed running through gunfire unarmed, but moral cowardice doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    But, similarly to what Bruce Schneier has said about the TSA, this is sort of movie plot material. The chances that I’ll (a) encounter and (b) stop a crime are pretty low around where I live. If I can trust statistics, it seems that my time would be better spent doing stuff that will make the world a better place rather than preparing for something which has a low probability of happening.

    …but then again, I generally have an easily weaponized item nearby for handy emergency combat, and I live in the south where hunting is big and every other neighbour has a gun lying around. I might feel differently if I spent some time in Vermont or a high crime area.

  9. >However, I believe that there are much less objectionable reasons not to bear arms–for one, the simple lack of time or patience to properly learn their use, in which case not bearing arms is obviously the prudent choice.

    Whenever I make this argument for not personally bearing arms, I’ll get people explaining how simple it is to point a gun and pull the trigger.

    These people are the reason I support firearm and firearm user licensing.

  10. Right … Is it “moral cowardice” to hold the view that access to firearm (and in particular handgun) availability should be regulated?
    Or is it only cowardly to rely on an armed police force to keep the peace?
    Sorry Eric, not buying. This smacks too much of playing the man to me.

  11. Grr. Delete “access to”. Damn mobile devices with inefficient input methods!

  12. Ok… you’re right. I’m actually going to get off my ass and fill out that shotgun permit form I downloaded 7 months when my daughter was born. I also need to take a class; I’m somewhat competent with a handgun, but never fired a shotgun. Although, I can forget ever having a carry permit until I leave the state — NJ sucks — so for home defense, a shotgun is a better tool, I would imagine.

  13. > Right … Is it “moral cowardice” to hold the view that access to firearm (and in
    > particular handgun) availability should be regulated?

    I think so. You’re deferring other peoples need to protect themselves to a third party — you’re saying because you don’t like the idea of me owning a gun, I should have a hard time of owning a gun, and the police, who are rarely actually at the crime scene when it happens due to lack of omnipresence, should be enough for me. It’s exactly because you’re a coward that you don’t want to deal with the other people having guns, even though that would lead to dramatically lower crime rates.

    What if people decided enough was enough with identity theft, and started requiring computer or internet use liscences that were highly restrictive, when all that is necessary to drastically lower the risk is to take a few precautions?

  14. Actually, Fred Maslack has been out of office for about four years now. This story is well out of date, and clearly has nothing to do with the current health care proposal.

  15. @Aaron Traas – Shotguns are good, but a rife in ‘handgun caliber’ is better. I have two Winchester 92′s lever actions. One in 45LC and the other 44Mag. You have much better range and accuracy than a handgun, but you don’t have the high velocity issues of a hunting rife. (i.e. A 30-06 is not good, since the round will keep on going a significant distance after hitting a small target like a human.) Also, they both have an 8 round magazine. So, if there happens to be a hostage-type situation, I can accurately nail the bastard in the head without risking my loved one.

  16. >>> Right … Is it “moral cowardice” to hold the view that access to firearm (and in particular handgun) availability should be regulated?
    Or is it only cowardly to rely on an armed police force to keep the peace?

    Right, Tom it is moral cowardice not to defend yourself. The police can’t be everywhere all the time, they might not get there until it is too late.

    BTW, I heard that the Muslim guy down there in Ft. Hood was able to kill so many because most of the people on base were not armed. A military base a “gun-free zone,” can you f’in believe it.

    I fully predict the media will white wash that this guy was a muslim terrorist. He had made statements praising suicide bombers, and seems to have decided to become one. But nothing to see here people, move along, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

  17. I suspect this would actually make it more common; the tax would be rationalized into an indulgance (in the theological sense, I mean).

  18. Ok so not owning a gun is moral cowardice. Owning a .22 less cowardly. Owning a Desert Eagle .50 (or some shite) morally correct. Yes esr, you have a large gun, are you happy now?

  19. @Ryan — In NJ, I believe that it’s much harder to get any kind of rifle permit than a shotgun. I’ll look into it. I’ve fired guns on numerous occasions at ranges, but I’m not really a “gun person”, at least not yet.

    I also have the problem that my wife really doesn’t like guns. She’s not pro gun-control or anything, she just doesn’t like them and doesn’t want to be around them. Hopefully, this will change with time. And my in-laws… I’ll definitely have to hide any evidence of owning firearms from them. They’re all anti-gun nuts.

  20. Actually, Fred Maslack has been out of office for about four years now. This story is well out of date, and clearly has nothing to do with the current health care proposal.

    Indeed. Some quick googling confirmed that Maslack introduced the bill in 2000. It’s still ironic given recent events, however.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that the idea to mandate that everyone get health care did not originate with President Obama, but instead was introduced by Bill, Hill and friends during the Clinton years. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, since Obama has surrounded himself with Clintonites and most everything he has proposed as both as a presidential candidate and as POTUS is very Clintonesque.

  21. That’s pretty funny. Although moral cowardice already does have a cost associated with it, and it’s heftier than any confiscation of wealth or social ridicule.

  22. As a parent of a 1- and 3-year old, I struggle with how to balance keeping a weapon accessible for when it might be needed with keeping my kids from ever possibly gaining access to the weapon. I’d like to have a gun in the house, but keeping it locked in a safe with a trigger lock seems pointless, why even have the gun? I’ve been told it is all about teaching your kids to respect guns, but I’m not willing to risk an accident. I know I’m leaving myself open by taking this stance, but would love to hear how others have approached this situation. Advice welcomed.

  23. # speedeep Says:
    > As a parent of a 1- and 3-year old, I struggle with how to
    > balance keeping a weapon accessible … Advice welcomed.

    Do you have electricity in your house? If so, apply the same technique.

  24. Eric, I don’t buy your point at all. In a free society we delegate responsibilities to experts all the time. It is far from obvious to me how killing bad guys is any different. (Though I fully support the RKBA.)

  25. @JessicaBoxer: The way one deals with electricity in relation to small children is to stick safety plugs in all the outlets until they’re old enough to know better. Speedeep already said that the gun wouldn’t be very useful if he had to fish it out of a safe in an emergency.

  26. # James Says:
    > The way one deals with electricity in relation to small children
    > is to stick safety plugs in all the outlets until they’re old enough
    > to know better.

    Put a minor barrier in the way that is difficult for kids, easy for adults. When they are old enough to defeat that barrier, educate them to the dangers. Yep, that works. Thanks for your input James.

  27. > Put a minor barrier in the way that is difficult for kids, easy for adults.
    > When they are old enough to defeat that barrier, educate them to the
    > dangers. Yep, that works. Thanks for your input James.

    What kind of minor barrier do you suggest? My daughter is a mere 8 months, so anything over 2′ high is inaccessible. However, when she learns how to walk, climb, etc. that’s all going to change.

    I still plan on at least getting a shotgun, if nothing else. Something that’s quick and easy to load, but I wouldn’t keep already loaded. I’d still like to keep it out of reach for my children until they’re like 8 or 10 or something.

  28. Utterly retarded assertion; gun fights are an extremely rare occurrence in civilised countries. Nonetheless, unarmed men still walk their women home at night, because they possess the real manhood of being able to walk around at night unarmed because they can accept the possibility of being beaten to death while their woman escapes. A coward like Eric has to carry around over-the-top defenses because he knows he would cry like a woman if he was set upon by a group of armed aggressors.

  29. >Eric, I don’t buy your point at all. In a free society we delegate responsibilities to experts all the time. It is far from obvious to me how killing bad guys is any different

    Sometimes it’s safe and effective to delegate an entire job to experts. In that case, certainly, we should do so.

    Sometimes it is pragmatically not effective to do so: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!” You wouldn’t want to live in a society where the police were ubiquitous enough to change that – those are called “police states” and they’re not pleasant.

    Sometimes it is psychologically and morally dangerous to delegate a job even if it could be done by others. practically speaking. Self-defense has this problem, too. People who delegate it tend to underestimate the cost of the violence done in their name – it’s easy because it’s not them doing it. Much harm ensues.

  30. >Speedeep already said that the gun wouldn’t be very useful if he had to fish it out of a safe in an emergency.

    Thumbprint activated is an expensive solution to the problem, but it is still a solution and perhaps more reliable then unrigging something yourself. If you are still dead set against a gun, there are other avenues. For example, keep in mind the most criminals are superstitious. You might consider making your house as creepy as possible, inside and outside. Cobwebs, pictures of pale faced old ladies with sever expressions on there faces and creaky steps are good. Rusty, uneven bench swings and huge door knockers are good outside. Set up some gravestones in your front yard and I guarantee you won’t get robbed. Most people get robbed when they’re NOT home. A gun only protects your house when you are there. A haunted house is always vigilant.

  31. Quote:What kind of minor barrier do you suggest? My daughter is a mere 8 months, so anything over 2′ high is inaccessible. However, when she learns how to walk, climb, etc. that’s all going to change.

    I still plan on at least getting a shotgun, if nothing else. Something that’s quick and easy to load, but I wouldn’t keep already loaded. I’d still like to keep it out of reach for my children until they’re like 8 or 10 or something.

    /end quote

    Handgun safes with quick access fingertip combination locks are a easily accessed, secure way to store a loaded handgun.
    For long guns, a stand up safe is the best option, if you intend on actually having a loaded firearm in the house (It would take me longer to load a pump shotgun stored on a shelf in my closet than have it loaded already in a safe). I have a safe with a six-digit electronic combination lock. I can access it from anywhere in my home in less than 30 seconds. Closer to six seconds if I am in the bedroom, as in resides in the walk in closet in the master.

    It’s also a great place to store ammunition, important papers, and small valuables (mine is alsoi “fire proof”).

  32. Most people get robbed when they’re NOT home. A gun only protects your house when you are there. A haunted house is always vigilant.

    ROFLMAO.

    OTOH, you could decorate your house with huge pentacles, brooms hanging on the door, lots of herbs planted in the front yard, etc.

    Even if the robbers aren’t superstitious or stupid, they’ll probably avoid your house because everyone knows that neopagan witches are too poor to own anything valuable! :-P

  33. ESR,

    Playing the devil’s advocate, economics f.e. Ricardo’s comparative advantage stuff teaches us that the division of labour and specialization are good things.

    So which one of the following is true then:

    1) protecting others isn’t just a job like any other

    2) there are some cases when specialization or focusing on comparative advantage (do that one thing you are really good at, make loads of money with it, and just pay others to do everything else for your) isn’t optimally, isn’t efficient and it can be convincingly demonstrated more or less within the framework of economics or at least with examples and reasoning that least roughly follows the way economists think

    3) there are some things in life where we shouldn’t be thinking economically, where there are other considerations than efficiency.

    Actually if it was for me, I’d vote 3) – I think it would be hard to convincingly make your case economically without using a line of reasoning that would be very similar to saying I should be fixing my own car and never order a pizza on the phone, and thus would thus throw comparative advantage out the window, but if we are talking about non-economical values like character, there may be a case…

  34. “For example, keep in mind the most criminals are superstitious. You might consider making your house as creepy as possible, inside and outside. Cobwebs, pictures of pale faced old ladies with sever expressions on there faces and creaky steps are good. Rusty, uneven bench swings and huge door knockers are good outside. Set up some gravestones in your front yard and I guarantee you won’t get robbed.”

    I think you are joking, and it is a good joke, but actually there may be some truth to it, but in a different way. The most powerful superstitions tend to be the ones that come from a popular distortion of the main ideas or symbols of the most popular organized religion in that given region, not this “Goth” stuff. This could be exploited.

  35. @people comparing electricity and guns: electric plugs and switches haven’t got a coolness factor like guns do. Some boys like to show off, and it’s easier to do that with a gun compared to a plug. I hope.

    But yes, keep out of reach, separate bullets from guns if you can, educate. I guess. I don’t own guns.

  36. This is not too dissimilar to Kennesaw GA which passed a law in 1982 requiring all heads-of-household to own a firearm. In fact, I believe it was in response to a Morton Grove, IL gun ban (which has since been repealed).

  37. I was once robbed by two young men threatening me with nunchakus. I gave up my wallet and they did me no physical harm. There was a fair bit of mental harm, and it took many years for me to feel comfortable going alone in places where there were not a lot of people passing by. I could also be struck by panic at surprising events , like people showing up unexpectedly around a corner.

    If I had had a gun in the robbery situation, I would undoubtedly have shot the assailants. I am not squeamish about such things, and I’m rather sure I would have made certain they were dead, before alerting the police. Swedish law would most likely have let me walk away from the whole thing withot so much as a trial, but the what? Would I have been comfortable living my life, knowing that I had killed two people?

    What about a legal system where I would be allowed to carry a gun? Wouldn’t it allow for the assailants to carry guns too? If they expected me to carry a gun, wouldn’t they carry guns even if they had no license? Guns are not hard to come by, even in jurisdictions that have strict license requirements. If both I and the assailants were carrying guns, what would the outcome of the robbery have been? Being robbed of all the money I was carrying was a bad hit, but I’m still alive 20 years later. If guns were involved, the probability of me dying those 20 years ago would be at least 50%.

    I have over the years thought a lot about the situation, and I always end up seeing that I did the right thing. I could have fought it and have stood a fair chance of winning. Assailant number 1 was threatening me, and he stood way too close to me. I’m rather sure I could have disabled him with a maximum force blow at the nose. Assailant number 2 hung back and was really my main problem. You don’t get inside the range of a nunchaku unless you have trained to do so, and the opponent is unskilled at his weapon.

    While I am ready to lay down my life to defend my country and my government against foreign powers and domestic extremists of all sorts, dying because some punk wants the bills in your wallet is plain stupid. The money can never be as important as your principles, and against the punks, you may get your justice one day. Authoritarian governments tend to stay for a very long time.

  38. @Aaron Traas
    > I also have the problem that my wife really doesn’t like guns.

    My wife was in the same boat several years ago. She tolerated my gun ownership, but personally hated guns (she was actually afraid of them). Common theme, it seems, for my state of Massachusetts.

    It all changed when I took up Cowboy Action Shooting with SASS (Single Action Shooting Society, http://www.sassnet.com).

    What’s so special about SASS that changed her mind? It was because my SASS group had 3-4 women regulars in it.

    Those women basically took my wife (girlfriend back then), and taught her how to shoot. And because she was shooting with other women, firearms became okay. It was like, if they can do it, I can do it. That first day with my SASS group, her entire attitude changed – it was an amazing sight to see.

    She’s still not into firearms, but it’s like she’s saying that she’s not into hiking. She’ll do it, and she usually enjoys it when she’s doing it, but it’s not her thing, and she’ll normally find an excuse to do something else.

  39. What about a legal system where I would be allowed to carry a gun? Wouldn’t it allow for the assailants to carry guns too?

    Robbing you is already “not allowed” by the law.

  40. >Robbing you is already “not allowed” by the law.

    If you read Jacob’s post carefully, you’ll notice that he’s from Sweden. This raises the possibility that English is not his first language. As such is is poor form to be making pedantic objections to the particular way he has phrased his argument.

    Since it is not customary to carry guns in Sweden, neither Jacob nor his assailants were carrying guns. This fact has possibly contributed to Jacob remaining alive.

    Note that any counterargument (if-guns-are-criminalised-only-criminals-will-have-guns) will need to explain why these criminals, in fact, did not have guns.

  41. I fully predict the media will white wash that this guy was a muslim terrorist. He had made statements praising suicide bombers, and seems to have decided to become one. But nothing to see here people, move along, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

    I think that what’s being whitewashed is the fact that so many terrorists start off as people like us and then go off the deep end. We are shown photos of Osama bin Laden in beard and turban, looking like one of the Forty Thieves. We are not shown the photos of young Osama in Western garb hanging out with his British college buddies. Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim scholar who helped cement the Muslim Brotherhood and is perhaps the father of modern Islamism, is rarely talked about. He spent a long time living in the United States before declaring it an immoral culture.

    The truth we are afraid to confront is that Major Malik Nadal Hasan wasn’t just like us, he was one of us. One of the salient properties of Bush-era scorched-earth diplomacy has been the framing of Islamism as a sort of “alien threat” in order to distance ourselves from these people and sell the notion that they must be wiped off the face of the earth with extreme prejudice but, more and more, the flaws in that model are beginning to show with cases like Major Nadal Hasan. I think it has to do with social class and relative wealth, but to call it “class struggle” is sort of a gauche, college-freshman-leftist way of putting it. Rather, at the meeting boundaries between a relatively poor, tradition-bound, ignorant, superstitious, and repressive society and a relatively rich society where people are basically free to think and act as they choose, there develops turbulence, much like the turbulence that arises between hot and cold air. And someone who crosses the boundary from the materially and intellectually poor society into the materially and intellectually rich one, may be overwhelmed by all that he sees and that sows the seeds of doubt in his mind — doubt about the way he was brought up, and what kind of life is a good one. So he withdraws back into the mindset he was born and raised into and becomes a vociferous and violent opponent of the freedom he was promised in the rich culture.

    This has profound implications for us in the good old U.S. of A. First of all a thousand years ago the shoe was on the other foot — the Arabs had all the intellectuals and hosted all the cool parties and we (European civilization) were sending in the terror squads to kill the locals in the name of God. Secondly, in recent decades the U.S. has experienced a profound religious revival, such that more than half of our population now completely disavow modern biological science in favor of a storybook fantasy. We are one of the most intellectually benighted industrialized nations, despite having many veritable centers of intellectual progress within our borders (notably Cambridge, Massachusetts, often considered a world capital of academia). In short, many of us resemble the terrorists in that we retreat into our religious hidey-holes when confronted with true freedom of the mind and spirit. We have met the enemy, and it is us. If George Bush really thought through the implications of the rise of Islamism, it would mean calling into question the very tenets of something he himself, and many of his countrymen (especially those who elected him into office, and those whom he called to service to fight in our country’s name) hold very dear. Better to put those things out of his mind and just bomb the shit out of those motherfuckers.

    I’m a rather strident atheist. For me the only solution is widespread planet-scale deprecation of religion, and teaching our kids to question the received truth from a very early age. In one generation we managed to turn cigarette smoking from a trendy activity into a revoltingly distasteful one; in another we could transform clinging to foolish dogmas from a pillar of society into a fringe element. We could. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. Such is the world.

  42. Note that any counterargument (if-guns-are-criminalised-only-criminals-will-have-guns) will need to explain why these criminals, in fact, did not have guns.

    If guns are outlawed, outlaws can get them but it’d be harder. Criminals tend to take the path of least resistance. In a society that deprecates using or carrying weapons of any sort, nunchaku are menacing enough to cow your victim into forking over the cash so a gun, more difficult to obtain and riskier to carry, isn’t necessary.

    The thing about guns is that it’s easy to kill with them. Like, real easy. The first time I went to a range I developed the ability to, theoretically, kill a man a hundred yards away. The first time I trained with a pair of chucks, the only person I could reliably clobber was myself. If everyone in a society, including kids and little old ladies, is potentially armed, well it’s in your best interest not from a philosophical standpoint but from a primitive reptilian-brain survival standpoint, to be nice to kids and little old ladies.

  43. For example, keep in mind the most criminals are superstitious. You might consider making your house as creepy as possible, inside and outside.

    And if you want to do something about the crime problem and money is no object, dressing up as a creepy and ominous creature just might give you the edge over the bad guys. :)

  44. >If everyone in a society, including kids and little old ladies, is potentially armed, well it’s in your best interest not from a philosophical standpoint but from a primitive reptilian-brain survival standpoint, to be nice to kids and little old ladies.

    You’re excluding the middle.

    Realistic Option A: virtually no-one has guns (e.g. Sweden).

    Realistic Option B: everyone who wants one has a gun (e.g. some of the United States).

    Fantasy Option C: everyone, including kids and little old ladies, has a gun (e.g. Heinlein novels)

    I think choosing the best option has a lot of path dependence. If you’re at C, option A becomes the unrealistic fantasy. If you’re at B, it’s not clear whether it’s easier to move to A or C. If you’re at A, you probably want to stay there.

  45. I said “potentially armed” for a reason, pete. Remember, if you are a criminal you want to maximize your return and minimize your risk. (A statement which explains the 2008-2009 recession.as it succinctly describes the behavior of Goldman Sachs, et al.) So from the criminal’s standpoint, Realistic Option B looks a lot like Fantasy Option C. Under option A, you know that virtually no one you encounter is going to be armed, so the payoff of robbing them is great compared to the small risk. Under option B, if even only 1/3 or 1/4 of the population is armed, your chances of making a lethally wrong guess are one in four and mugging people becomes a game of Russian roulette.

    As for whether it’s more desirable to stick with option A — is it really? In the UK when guns were effectively banned, violence with knives and blunt objects went way up. I know that the U.S. still has a much worse violent crime problem, but I think that has a lot more to do with the Somebody Else’s Problem field we put around our inner cities, and the people who live in them, than with the availability of weapons in its own right.

  46. While fining people for not owning a gun would be immoral and likely to cause widespread anger, introducing some sort of social stigma sounds like a good idea. It would encourage gun ownership, but those who chose against it would have no tangible penalty imposed. (Debate the meaning of ‘tangible’ all you like…) Thus, pacifists and anti-gun people would not be penalized, except for the stigma part, which is fine since they tend to be stigmatized anyway.

    Since I have limbs like spaghetti, I doubt I’d last long in a punch-up. A gun would at least give me a fighting chance. At that point it’s a contest of whoever can shoot the other guy first, not too difficult a proposition, rather than one of physical strength.

  47. I think choosing the best option has a lot of path dependence. If you’re at C, option A becomes the unrealistic fantasy. If you’re at B, it’s not clear whether it’s easier to move to A or C. If you’re at A, you probably want to stay there.

    The problem is that all the options have their associated costs; it’s not just a see-saw. For C, it’s the fact that if guns are truly ubiquitous, then the small percentage of people who are either congenitally incapable of handling a gun safely or are sociopaths also have guns. The fact that everyone else does also may blunt this threat to some degree; I believe that in a perfect world C would be the best option. For B, it’s that it invites friction between generally gun-owning and generally non-gun-owning populations (among many other things). For A, it’s that a) since guns, once the concept is introduced, are fairly simple, criminals will always have them one way or another, and b) it leaves you with no option faced with anyone having a gun–for example, State Security. The transitions between the stages will be difficult, but staying in A, in particular, has many problems of its own.

  48. >For A, it’s that a) since guns, once the concept is introduced, are fairly simple, criminals will always have them one way or another, and b) it leaves you with no option faced with anyone having a gun–for example, State Security.

    The good news is that this isn’t true. Look at Jacob’s story — the criminals didn’t have guns.

    And there are much better ways to deal with state security that physical confrontation.

  49. Krygny: I’d like to hear any one of the Supreme Court justices list just five example of things the 10th Amendment prohibits the Federal Government from doing.

    The answer is “None”. The Tenth Amendment states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
    prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It does not define what powers are (or are not) so delegated; that is done in the body of the Constitution and certain of the Amendments.

  50. @speedeep – In my experiences, education and consistency is the best method. I have 3 boys, 4y, 2y, and 9m. The 4y and 2y are already receiving training on safety measures and how to handle weapons. The 4y already has a BB gun. My friends children were trained from similar ages. My friend and his dad took the boys shooting and drilled into them how to safely handle weapons. I was at their house several years ago when grandpa had a ‘pop quiz’ about weapons.
    He asked them ‘How can you tell the difference between a real gun and a toy gun?’ Their response, ‘A real gun is heavy.’
    G: ‘What do you do if you find a real gun?’
    B: ‘Always assume it is loaded and ready to fire. One stays to watch the gun while the other goes to get an adult. If there is only one, then they would go find an adult as fast as possible.’
    These were the responses of a 4 year old at the time.

    In my own experiences, my mother is from Germany and she HATED guns. My dad grew up on a farm and they were a normal part of life. Unfortunately, my Mom won that argument and I had very little exposure to guns as a child. When I joined the Navy, I, of course, received weapons training. Even after being out for over 10 years, I still feel more comfortable with my 1911 Commander model on my hip. It’s not a paranoia thing either. I live in Arizona and the Mexican drug wars have spilled over into the US, contrary to what the mainstream media has been telling the rest of the country. I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood, but I have a wife and kids to protect.

  51. Jeff Read: Sayyid Qutb… spent a long time living in the United States before declaring it an immoral culture.

    Wrong. Qutb spent all of two years in the U.S.

    the framing of Islamism as a sort of “alien threat” in order to distance ourselves from these people and sell the notion that they must be wiped off the face of the earth with extreme prejudice…

    The U.S. government (including Bush himself) bent over backward to avoid declaring Islam as a threat,

    a relatively poor, tradition-bound, ignorant, superstitious, and repressive society

    17 of the 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudis and Emiratis; that is, they were from societies whose recent experience is enormous and unprecedented wealth.

    the Arabs had all the intellectuals and hosted all the cool parties and we (European civilization) were sending in the terror squads sto kill the locals in the name of God…

    This is typical of self-hating western intellectuals – given half a chance they will grossly exaggerate the positive qualities of other cultures, and grossly exaggerate the faults of the West. A thousand years ago, Moslem armies were attacking Christian countries on several fronts – and Christians were fighting back. The Crusades were a Christian counteroffensive; but it is a gross historical error to think that the wars and campaigns of the Crusading era were exclusively religious in character. Less than ten years after the First Crusade captured Jerusalem, there was a battle in Syria with Moslems and Franks on both sides (Menbij, in 1108).

    As for the rest of this rant: being confused about evolution (as a great many poorly educated people are) != “completely disavow[ing] modern biological science”.

    I’m a rather strident atheist.

    Gee, what a surprise.

  52. ESR: I agree that pacifism is a form of moral cowardice. The pacifist would rather allow evil to be done by others rather than risk compromising his moral purity by using force to resist or intervene. To do so would risk doing wrong, and it is more important to him that he does no wrong than that no wrong is done, That is selfish.

    Poul Anderson put this far better than I ever could on the last page of Ensign Flandry:

    Ever since Akhnaton ruled in Egypt… a school of thought has held that we ought to lay down our weapons and rely on love. That, if love doesn’t work, at least we’ll die guiltless. Usually even its opponents have said this is a noble ideal. I say it stinks. I say it’s not just unrealistic, not just infantile, it’s evil. It denies we have any duty to act in this life. Because how can we, if we let go our capability?

  53. >I said “potentially armed” for a reason, pete.

    Yes you did. Sorry for the incorrect paraphrase.

    >Remember, if you are a criminal you want to maximize your return and minimize your risk.

    Cue joke about criminals as the most likely to be accurately modelled by a rational utility maximiser.

    >Under option B, if even only 1/3 or 1/4 of the population is armed, your chances of making a lethally wrong guess are one in four and mugging people becomes a game of Russian roulette.

    Yet under option B, people get mugged anyway; at least in option A it’s with a less lethal weapon.

    >As for whether it’s more desirable to stick with option A — is it really? In the UK when guns were effectively banned, violence with knives and blunt objects went way up.

    Knife and blunt object violence is preferable to gun violence.

    >I know that the U.S. still has a much worse violent crime problem, but I think that has a lot more to do with the Somebody Else’s Problem field we put around our inner cities, and the people who live in them, than with the availability of weapons in its own right.

    Given this, I have no problem with Americans wanting to arm themselves; it seems pretty sensible in their context.

  54. @Jeff: apparently extensive quoting triggers the moderation filter, there’s a reply waiting in the queue.

  55. Note that any counterargument (if-guns-are-criminalised-only-criminals-will-have-guns) will need to explain why these criminals, in fact, did not have guns.

    No counterargument is necessary.

    You assumed one though, so the least I can do for you is tell you why it doesn’t apply. No particular criminal’s situation will prove wrong “if-guns-are-criminalised-only-criminals-will-have-guns”–because that argument isn’t about criminals. It’s about law abiding citizens who, unlike criminals, will obey gun control laws.

  56. > What about a legal system where I would be allowed to carry a gun? Wouldn’t
    > it allow for the assailants to carry guns too? If they expected me to carry a gun,
    > wouldn’t they carry guns even if they had no license?

    The problem is that in most civilized societies today, most people do not carry guns. Therefore, the criminals have an advantage. If they only have a 1 in 50 chance of mugging someone carrying a gun, they’re going to be more likely to take that risk than a 1 in 2 chance. If they have a gun and you have a gun, the risk is still high for them. They could die, you could die, or you both could die. It makes the whole issue of robbery a lot riskier for the robber, and they’ll mentally calculate to adjust for that, if not at least subconsiously.

  57. >Would I have been comfortable living my life, knowing that I had killed two people?

    A fine illustration of moral cowardice in action. Instead you taught two criminals that, at least in the short run, crime pays, so they are more likely to rob someone else after you rewarded them. How do you like knowing that you have contributed to robbery of more innocent victims?

  58. @William B Swift: that was unbelievably dickish. No points for you, sir. Notice the “If I had had a gun”, meaning “I was unarmed”. Let’s see what you do the next time you’re unarmed against two perps with nunchucks. Let’s see if you think you’re a coward for giving up your money.

    It’s so easy to think that killing does not carry mental anguish, or that this anguish is preferable to validating the criminal’s choice. Hell, in this blog, at least two people deny that mental anguish is even considerable as ‘real pain’.

  59. >Is there a moral obligation to get first aid training?

    A good question, but one that changes the subject. I wouldn’t claim that failure to get first-aid training indicates moral cowardice, because giving first aid doesn’t generally involve confronting life-or-death decisions and nobody tries to make a virtue of their unwillingness to confront them. The closest behaviors to “giving first aid” that do involve life-or-death decisions require complex specialist skills, not the extremely simple ones involved in self-defense with firearms.

  60. >Let’s see what you do the next time you’re unarmed against two perps with nunchucks. Let’s see if you think you’re a coward for giving up your money.

    Don’t be silly . Neither William Swift nor I think you are obligated to be suicidally stupid when the criminals are better armed than you. “Cowardice” enters when you do have the capability to resist but fail to do so. “Moral cowardice” enters when you assert that resisting criminality with arms is the necessarily the wrong choice because you fear the burden of decision and guilt.

  61. >I agree that pacifism is a form of moral cowardice.

    Careful. You’re losing a significant distinction here. Not all pacifism is the Christian turn-the-other-cheek variety.

    I consider myself a pacifist, on the grounds that my principles forbid me from initiating force. My pacifism is of the Buddhist/Taoist variety, in which it is proper and necessary to return an aggressor’s force to him.

    That said, I agree with the Anderson quite. I am prepared to risk the guilt of having used violence incorrectly because I know we have a duty to act – to defend the weak, to deter criminals, to oppose tyrants. This involves hard decisions, but anyone who refuses to make them is a coward or a child.

  62. Ignoring for the moment the inappropriateness of using the legal system to force a way of life upon a group (or taxing them for not conforming to that way of life), this proposal also gives us a good opportunity to see why allowing the government to do anything, even if it is in your favor, can be a vary bad thing for your rights.

    Suppose for a moment such a law were passed, and we had our registry of unarmed citizens and they were all taxed and properly accounted for. What happens when the political pendulum swings the other way? The government has two pieces of information. A list of residents (collected innocently for tax purposes) and a list of residents who are unarmed (again, collected innocently for tax purposes). When you subtract the members of the second group from those of the first, now the government has a list of all citizens who are gun owners. The passage of a law like this, via unintended consequences, would create in one year, what the NRA and various gun rights associations have fought for decades to prevent: a registry of gun owners.

    A sobering reminder to always think on the law of unintended consequences before wielding the hammer that is the government.

    ESR says: I don’t disagree with any of this.

  63. Speaking of close readings, five state constitutions have no analog or variants of the 2nd Amendment whatsoever: California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. Especially considering that three of these were amongst the 13 original colonies, I’d like to see the historical reasons for these particular RKBA lacunae. It’s quite a jump from those three, to Iowa, to California, after all!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_%28by_state%29

    http://www.law.ucla.edu/volokh/beararms/statecon.htm

    In a sense, those who exercise our rights subsidize those who don’t, but I don’t think that this should be a monetary procedure. (Want to sin? Pay a sin tax. Don’t want a gun? Pay a gun tax. Err…)

  64. I’ve never made a secret of my evaluation that refusal to bear arms is a form of moral cowardice masquerading as virtue.

    What should one do if one lives in a country where it’s illegal to carry firearms? I don’t refuse to carry arms at all, but I have no practical possibility.

    ESR says: You’re not refusing, your surrounding culture is. Draw your own conclusions from that.

  65. > Don’t be silly . Neither William Swift nor I think you are obligated to be suicidally stupid when the criminals are better armed than you.

    Rereading, I think you’re right. Still, accusing someone of moral cowardice because he dares to think that maybe, shooting people dead isn’t easy, is quite dickish in my opinion.

  66. “The closest behaviors to “giving first aid” that do involve life-or-death decisions require complex specialist skills”

    Heimlich maneuver? Resuscitation? Dislodging a bean from a trachea? These are all simple skills that do require first aid training (to know the proper amount of force needed in the Heimlich maneuver, for example).

  67. esr Says:
    > Sometimes it’s safe and effective to delegate an entire job
    > to experts. In that case, certainly, we should do so.

    You argument then is twofold: firstly, that delegation of self defense is not effective, that is to say, the experts are inadequate; secondly, that delegation reduces the sense of responsibilities for your actions, when the action takes place by proxy rather than directly.

    I suggest that both these are problems with the typical way in which such delegation takes place, that is to say you assume that the state is the only entity to whom I could delegate that right. Since the state is generally both incompetent, and bigger than me (with the consequence that I am not responsible directly for its actions), the consequences you suggest ensue.

    I wonder if there is a private solution? For example, President Obama does not carry a handgun. He doesn’t need to, despite the very real threats to his life. He delegates that task to someone else. I think he suffers from neither of the problems you listed. Similarly, if I hired a body guard to walk around with me all the time, I would suffer from neither of the problems you mentioned earlier. However, I can’t afford a body guard. Hence I propose that this is less a matter of what is possible, and more a matter of price, and then it moves into the free market.

    Protection services do not need to be a monopoly of the state.

    ESR says: Excellent! Now you’re thinking like my kind of anarchist!

  68. Your pronouncements are as idiotic as the health “reform” laws Maslack’s trying to spoof. People choosing not to defend themselves has no externality on others, unless you make some dumb claim that it encourages criminals cuz the odds of running across a gun are lower (if so, you’ve descended into the same stupid logic that drives the current healthcare bills). Refusal to bear arms is a personal decision that is no business of others, just like a mother who decides to abort her fetus. Real adults delegate whatever they don’t want to do to others, rather than entertaining delusions that one is making “hard” decisions simply by choosing to keep a gun, as opposed to when they might need to use it. The only moral cowardice is from those who accept your drivel without thinking critically about it. I have no problem with others owning guns. However, I will always choose to live in a community that doesn’t have many guns and I will outsource my protection to others, hopefully to private protection agencies soon.

  69. >Still, accusing someone of moral cowardice because he dares to think that maybe, shooting people dead isn’t easy, is quite dickish in my opinion.

    If you think that’s what was going on, you need to reread even more carefully. Check your assumptions at the door.

  70. I consider myself a pacifist, on the grounds that my principles forbid me from initiating force. My pacifism is of the Buddhist/Taoist variety, in which it is proper and necessary to return an aggressor’s force to him.

    Well, there’s a problem with calling yourself a pacifist. The widely-accepted definition of the term contradicts your “variety of pacifism”:

    1 : opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically : refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds
    2 : an attitude or policy of nonresistance

    I might as well say I consider myself a “variety of woman”, my Y chromosome and anatomy notwithstanding. It would be pointless at best, and ultimately counterproductive, as redefining terms makes critical thinking difficult.

    Clearly your principles (and mine) are antithetical to “pacifism” as the word is commonly used. We need a word to indicate that we don’t approve of aggression, so neither will we commit aggression nor submit to it. The best I can come up with is “assertive”, but that doesn’t feel quite right either.

  71. > Excellent! Now you’re thinking like my kind of anarchist!

    Sorry about the digression; but “my kind” of anarchist raises a question with me about anarchy – how do you ensure it’s the right kind of anarchy? If you just remove the government, how do you ensure you don’t end up with Somalia? The people of Somalia certainly can’t complain about too much taxation or government regulation. (Really serious weaponry is readily available to even the poorest too; but that’s a very complicated different story.)

    In order for their to be a rule of law, and for court decisions to be binding; I keep thinking that all the private citizens would have to form some body to enforce the rule of law. It may get called a different name, but it’s a government and police force by any other name.

    How do you get an anarchy to be your kind of anarchy, and not someone else’s kind of anarchy?

  72. ESR: I consider myself a pacifist, on the grounds that my principles forbid me from initiating force. My pacifism is of the Buddhist/Taoist variety, in which it is proper and necessary to return an aggressor’s force to him.

    So… there is a dispute over an item of property. One person has possession of it; another person claims title to it. Some process adjudicates this dispute, and rules in favor of the claimant. The possessor refuses to accept the adjudication, and keeps possession. How can the property be obtained from the possessor without the use or threat of force? One might argue that holding possession of property which has been adjudged to belong to another is a form of force, but IMHO that is casuistry.

    And even in a libertarian society such disputes will exist and have to be resolved. The notion that “soft power” (shaming, boycotts, etc) is completely sufficient to enforce judgments on contumacious parties is as fatuous as the notion that diplomacy and economic sanctions are sufficient to stop aggressor nations.

  73. Russell Nelson: Rich: you over-rate the effectiveness of force. Think about it this way: every war has at least one loser.

    I object to the pacifist formulation that force must never be used. If you consider that objection to be an overestimation of “the effectiveness of force”, then you must believe that force has no effectiveness at all.

  74. # William B Swift:

    >>Would I have been comfortable living my life, knowing that I had killed two people?

    >A fine illustration of moral cowardice in action. Instead you taught two criminals that, at least in the short run, crime pays, so they are more likely to rob someone else after you rewarded them. How do you like >knowing that you have contributed to robbery of more innocent victims?

    I think you are mistaking sanity for moral cowardice. Walking around unarmed is sane, if you have no reason to expect armed criminals. Guns are heavy, not entirely without danger to the wielder and a big responsibility when it comes to keeping them away from curious children and thieves. I have had a service gun (Lahti semiautomatic 9mm pistol) for some 20 years, so I have first hand experience. If I was likely to encounter robbers armed with guns, I would most probably be wanting to carry one myself. Fortunately, street robbers in Sweden are very seldom armed beyond knives and sticks. A contributing reason that they aren’t armed with guns is that their victims are unlikely to be carrying guns. Also, the police get quite upset when they find people with guns. Indeed, quite a few Hells Angels members are serving fairly long prison sentences for gun possession.

    The result of all this is that muggings with deadly outcomes are extremely rare. This is very good. An escalation in armaments would result in many more casualties. A sane person does not fight back when being outnumbered and/or outgunned, if it is just a matter of losing some money. On the other hand not fighting when the odds are in your favour would be cowardly.

    Finally, when it comes to killing people, I don’t think it is morally justifiable to kill others over matters of money. Robbers are in general very stupid people and there shouldn’t be a death penalty for stupidity. Therefore, had I killed somebody, I would have had a very awkward time reconciling my action with my beliefs. Still, had I been armed with a gun, I would most likely have used it in the most effective way possible.

  75. Rich, it’s not that force must never be used. It’s that force never has a desirable effect (when all effects are counted) and thus should not be used. For me it’s not a question of moral cowardice. It’s more along the lines of “too expensive”.

  76. Utterly retarded. The aggressor always has the initiative, meaning that in a society where everyone carries guns, an attacker with more than crack-head level organisation skills will just shoot you in the head from a distance or otherwise control events to their favour. Self-defense with guns only works in the present day because most intruders are either dumb or don’t have firearms themselves.

  77. What about this argument: guns vs no guns is not the issue, the quality of people is the issue. In a society with high-quality people everyone can carry M-16s and RPGs with no risk, but they don’t need to in order to stay safe since no one will want to assault them. In a society with low-quality people, you have already lost, and whether to carry guns is just like frosting on the turd. Good/bad argument?

    I’m not anti-gun at all, it’s more that I’m anti-”society where it’s even an issue”. I wouldn’t mind carrying guns, but I don’t want to live in a place where it’s more than a ritualized ornament (ie we carry guns to show that we are not serfs, or somesuch). So, we in Sweden are treated like children and can’t carry guns and must pay for a bunch of crap that we don’t really want. On the other hand, we are fed and the streets are relatively safe. Not saying it’s a clear-cut choice :)

  78. >we had our registry of unarmed citizens and they were all taxed and properly accounted for

    You missed another problem – the list would be a wonderful way for criminals to select victims they know are unarmed.

  79. > And even in a libertarian society such disputes will exist and have to be resolved. The notion that “soft
    > power” (shaming, boycotts, etc) is completely sufficient to enforce judgments on contumacious parties is as
    > fatuous as the notion that diplomacy and economic sanctions are sufficient to stop aggressor nations.

    The problem with sanctions between nationals (heck even between villages) there is likely to be enough “local support” to stop anyone from feeling isolated or vulnerable. Any nation, with a few notable exceptions like ethiopia, is self sufficient at least at some level.

    However at the “tribal” level, the cessation of economic and interpersonal ties is subtly crippling. If the local shops refused to sell me goods or services i’d be forced to move further afield (increasing transportation costs and the risk of spoilage). The loss of good will from neighbours would increase the risk of criminals seeking to game the system by targeting the shunned member. There is evidence to support the idea that humans tend towards pack mentalities simply because we feel exposed and vulnerable when we’re suddenly without support.

    Having said that, this only really works if the society acts in accord to shun the offender. An edge case where the village is polarised in which side it supports is unlikely to be able to effectively use “soft power”. However i’d need convincing that this is a unique edge case to a “soft power” system rather than a tricky edge case generally. I’d certainly argue that Peer Pressure is more useful at the local level than overt violence (but would tentatively agree that it perhaps doesn’t scale well).

  80. @Barry Muskovich

    “The aggressor always has the initiative…”
    The late Jeff Cooper (and many of his alumni) would disagree – with demonstrable evidence. Google “jeff cooper states of awareness” to get yourself a clue about the reality of being armed. Don’t continue in your daydream fantasy world.

    I live my life in the yellow/orange realm, as I suspect people like ESR do too. I may drift into the white realm very, very occasionally, but not while I’m armed.

    “…an attacker with more than crack-head level organisation skills will just shoot you in the head from a distance or otherwise control events to their favour…”
    Again, not only do the _real_ experts that _actually_ train people (Thunder Ranch, Valhalla etc) know this to be nonsense, the FBI crime stats show that armed conflict is fast and close. By far the most life-saving step you can take is to discipline your state of mental awareness. The one thing that has been demonstrated to be true about criminals, is that they are generally far less hesitant to pull a gun and pull the trigger. This put the lie to all the hollywood-fueled liberal drivel about “warning shots” or “shoot to disable”. When you’re in condition red, and your gun comes into play, there is only one thing you should be doing with it – directing fire at the target until it ceases to be a threat.

    “…Self-defense with guns only works in the present day because most intruders are either dumb or don’t have firearms themselves…”
    Sure. That’s the _only_ reason it works. Please ignore the vast body of evidence that actually demonstrates that it is more common that no shots need to be fired to effectively ‘use’ a gun for self defense. Please ignore the testimony of incarcerated felons that talk quite candidly about their lines of reasoning – demonstrating a particularly feral form of intelligence – and the triviality of them obtaining firearms illegally.

    Above all, please ignore the [approx] 2 decades of evidence to demonstrate the positive influence of “shall issue” concealed-carry laws in America.

  81. Barry is fairly thoughtless. Predators rely on prey which cannot hurt them EVER. If a predator is hurt, it cannot hunt until it has recovered, and the whole while it’s recovering, it’s bleeding resources. Thus, predation is discouraged severely when only a small fraction of the prey are dangerous. And the less predictable it is which prey are dangerous, the less predation occurs among that class of prey.

  82. 17 of the 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudis and Emiratis; that is, they were from societies whose recent experience is enormous and unprecedented wealth.

    Indeed, and most of that wealth came suddenly, recently, and mainly due to investment from Western oil interests. That’s gotta be disruptive to your culture.

  83. >So… there is a dispute over an item of property. One person has possession of it; another person claims title to it. Some process adjudicates this dispute, and rules in favor of the claimant. The possessor refuses to accept the adjudication, and keeps possession. How can the property be obtained from the possessor without the use or threat of force? One might argue that holding possession of property which has been adjudged to belong to another is a form of force, but IMHO that is casuistry.

    In fact, what you dismiss as ‘casuistry’ is almost exactly the libertarian reasoning about this case. My property is an extension of my self; theft is therefore aggression directed against me. If I must use force to regain it, that’s OK, subject to the usual non-escalation rules.

  84. >In fact, what you dismiss as ‘casuistry’ is almost exactly the libertarian reasoning about this case. My property is an extension of my self; theft is therefore aggression directed against me.

    What you’ve missed is that both parties consider the property an extension of their selves. So it’s okay for either party to use force keep/take the property. It’s hard to see how this won’t lead to escalation.

  85. # Russell Nelson Says:
    > Rich, it’s not that force must never be used. It’s that force never
    > has a desirable effect (when all effects are counted)

    That might be true (though I am not convinced it is), however, when all the effects are *not* counted it is certainly not true. And when one chooses to use force, all the effects are rarely counted. So for example, if a mugger beats someone up and steals his wallet, then from the mugger’s point of view force has produced a desirable effect, and that is all he cares about.

    In fact what you are suggesting is almost communist in its genius. The idea that society plans centrally for optimum effects. The reality is that society is a massive interaction of different players each looking for an optimization of their own utility in isolation, and the use of violence seems to fit into that same scheme.

  86. >I live my life in the yellow/orange realm, as I suspect people like ESR do too.

    In fact, one of the psychological functions of going armed is as a constant reminder that one needs to stay in Cooper Condition Yellow. That’s why I’ve been carrying ever since my second death threat; The gun may kill an assailant, but it’s situational awareness that is most likely to save my life. The gun-as-reminder is as important as the gun-as-weapon, perhaps more so.

  87. pete: sorry, but I have to say “so what?” You have the same problem when party A wants to hurt party B and party B wants not to be hurt. Party B will do what they need to to not be hurt, and party A will do what he needs to to hurt party B. Escalation.

    The reason that libertarians consider their property to be an extension of their life force is BECAUSE you have to trade away your life force to get the money to buy the property. Everybody feels the same way; it just that they don’t realize quite why.

  88. >You have the same problem when party A wants to hurt party B and party B wants not to be hurt. Party B will do what they need to to not be hurt, and party A will do what he needs to to hurt party B. Escalation.

    The point is you’re not going to be accused of casuistry if you describe party A’s actions as aggression.

  89. >What you’ve missed is that both parties consider the property an extension of their selves.

    Perhaps, but that claim is uninteresting because the thief is wrong to do so. Rape doesn’t become lovemaking just because the rapist feels like defining it that way, either.

  90. “The gun-as-reminder is as important as the gun-as-weapon, perhaps more so.”
    That’s interesting you should recognize that. I would say it took about 18-24 months of being routinely armed before it dawned on me that I had shifted from a regimented mindset (where I was consciously checklisting myself) to an acclimated mindset (where arming myself was as ordinary as putting on my wristwatch).

    Since I have a martial arts background from an early age, the ‘alertness’ mindset has been well ingrained, but I certainly appreciated the color-coding of escalation with respect to threats at greater than arms-reach.

    Given this perspective, it is almost paradoxical to consider that when one comports one’s self in such a manner, one is drastically less-likely to be assaulted. So much for those dimwits that insist “being armed is just looking for trouble”.

  91. >Perhaps, but that claim is uninteresting because the thief is wrong to do so.

    A disagreement over ownership doesn’t necessarily imply that one party is a thief.

  92. The late Jeff Cooper (and many of his alumni) would disagree – with demonstrable evidence. Google “jeff cooper states of awareness” to get yourself a clue about the reality of being armed. Don’t continue in your daydream fantasy world.

    LOL. What a joke. The fact is that you can be killed very easily from a distance with a gun. The spidey-senses you 40-year-old virgins seem to think you have are not going to help you.

  93. A disagreement over ownership doesn’t necessarily imply that one party is a thief.

    This is where libertarians part company with anarchists. There will be disagreements even between honorable people. When they arise, the parties who feel they are wronged will feel entirely justified in the retaliatory use of force against the aggressor.

    See: Montague/Capulet, Hatfield/McCoy, Hutu/Tutsi, Sunni/Shi’a,….

    So the agreement we make as civilized people is to delegate our natural right of retaliatory force to an independent arbiter, whose decision will be binding upon the parties. To act as that neutral referee is the reason why governments exist. When they fail to perform that duty, things become really ugly. People who don’t trust their government not to take sides will in effect declare independence from it. They are technically at war with it, as they no longer recognize the authority it claims. When they have disputes, they settle them via their own methods.

    See: Crips/Bloods

  94. Monster: yes, and libertarians supposedly believe that a monopoly government is capable of being that arbiter? That’s your theory, right? I think that libertarians are much less likely to want a monopoly police force than you think they (we) are.

  95. Russell, there is nothing in what I said that proposes a “monopoly police force”. The police are not to use retaliatory force any more than people are. The retaliatory use of force is reserved to the courts and their agents in the correctional system, not the police. Separation of powers is essential.

  96. Just to reiterate:

    Rep. Maslack’s bill was introduced in January of 2000, sent to committee, and no further actions were taken on it.

    Rep. Maslack left office in 2002.

    Discuss the issue all you like, but don’t pretend it’s a current proposal.

  97. “…The fact is that you can be killed very easily from a distance with a gun…”
    That is not what you claimed. You claimed that a criminal would shoot me dead from a distance. The reality is that this practically never happens – the only recent example I can think of is the “Beltway Sniper”. Handguns are by far the most common firearm used, and they are used at close range. As always, facts are your worst enemy.

    If you would like to debate how ‘easily’ one can be killed at a distance with a gun, you first have to recognize that there are guns and there are guns. What ‘gun’ are you talking about? Are you talking about aimed fire or accidental fire (I can theoretically kill someone approx 5 miles away with my rifle, but not intentionally)? Are you talking about handguns, rifles or shotguns? How far are we considering a ‘distance’ to be? 25 yards? 100? 1000?

    The very fact that you make such a patently ridiculous general statement about ‘being easily killed by a gun at distance’, without any qualification whatsoever, demonstrates that you have put no thought into your position – and are unlikely to be a person with which one could have a fruitful debate.

    As far as the use of guns criminally is concerned, the facts of actual crime on the street – as recorded by law enforcement – prove you utterly wrong. You literally do not know what you are talking about.

    “…The spidey-senses you 40-year-old virgins seem to think you have are not going to help you.”
    Heh. Did you hear that noise? It was a sort of sheeplike whimper.

    That was the sound of you losing the argument.

    Game over, troll.

  98. That is not what you claimed. You claimed that a criminal would shoot me dead from a distance. The reality is that this practically never happens – the only recent example I can think of is the “Beltway Sniper”. Handguns are by far the most common firearm used, and they are used at close range. As always, facts are your worst enemy.

    Let’s have a lesson in reading comprehension, shall we? Here’s my original comment:

    The aggressor always has the initiative, meaning that in a society where everyone carries guns, an attacker with more than crack-head level organisation skills will just shoot you in the head from a distance or otherwise control events to their favour.

    Clearly, I stated that an attacker would do so under your wet dream future where everyone carries firearms. I have also referred to the effectiveness of firearms for self-defense in the present separately, but you continually attempt to obfuscate the argument by conflating the two things. Criminals use handguns at close range because they know their victims probably won’t have guns. The drive-by was introduced into gang culture for a reason; perpetrators knew their opponents would have guns, so they just carried out the deed in a way that minimised their risk. Gangbangers aren’t exactly known for their savvy, either.

    As far as the use of guns criminally is concerned, the facts of actual crime on the street – as recorded by law enforcement – prove you utterly wrong. You literally do not know what you are talking about.

    These statistics have no bearing on a future where everyone carries guns for self-defense. You literally do not know the first thing about using statistics, so I suggest you refrain from quoting them.

    That was the sound of you losing the argument.

    Game over, troll.

    Good argument. Do you have anything solid to bring to the table?

  99. Barry: “Good argument. Do you have anything solid to bring to the table?”

    I already did, and since you’re wrong, there was no sensible reply you could make, and so you made none.

  100. I wouldn’t claim that failure to get first-aid training indicates moral cowardice, because giving first aid doesn’t generally involve confronting life-or-death decisions and nobody tries to make a virtue of their unwillingness to confront them. The closest behaviors to “giving first aid” that do involve life-or-death decisions require complex specialist skills, not the extremely simple ones involved in self-defense with firearms.

    Having been through much firearms and first aid training I think that you need to re-evaluate your estimates. I learned as much in one day first aid class as I learned in one day of firearms training; and in a life and death situation you never can tell what first aid might be needed. First-aid does not require complex specialist skills, anymore than breath control, bone support, never point the weapon at… and keep your finger straight and off the trigger…First aid is just that, first aid, simple things that you can do until someone more skilled in the medical arts can get there.

    If you know how to inflict death, then you should know how to help those that you might accidentally shoot; nobody is perfect, that’s why accidents are calles accidents. Or better yet, if you know how to inflict death then you should know how to save a life. You shouldn’t be only responsible for one.

  101. >Clearly, I stated that an attacker would do so under your wet dream future where everyone carries firearms. I have also referred to the effectiveness of firearms for self-defense in the present separately, but you continually attempt to obfuscate the argument by conflating the two things. Criminals use handguns at close range because they know their victims probably won’t have guns. The drive-by was introduced into gang culture for a reason; perpetrators knew their opponents would have guns, so they just carried out the deed in a way that minimised their risk. Gangbangers aren’t exactly known for their savvy, either.

    One more try. In a hypothetical future in which everyone carries guns, and presumably everyone excluding the small percentage of sociopaths has adjusted to the moral responsibilities that entails, then yes, someone could shoot you from a distance, but unless they managed to get you completely alone before doing so (in which case you would be focusing on them, and hence it’s a different argument), they’re going to be subdued by bystanders–who, in this scenario, have guns. The presence of ubiquitous guns is helpful not only in that you can personally defend yourself, but as a deterrent to aggressors.

  102. ESR: My property is an extension of my self; theft is therefore aggression directed against me.

    What if the property in question, is, say, monetary damages for violation of contract, as determined by some arbiter? Does the arbiter’s action in declaring that A owes B some money create aggression by A against B? Is A, by refusing to pay, initiating violence against B? That would be an extraordinary definition of violence.

    If libertarians think that way, then it is no wonder that libertarianism remains a fringe philosophy, By that rule, every tax evader is a violent rebel, and every defaulter is an armed robber,

  103. One more try. In a hypothetical future in which everyone carries guns, and presumably everyone excluding the small percentage of sociopaths has adjusted to the moral responsibilities that entails, then yes, someone could shoot you from a distance, but unless they managed to get you completely alone before doing so (in which case you would be focusing on them, and hence it’s a different argument), they’re going to be subdued by bystanders–who, in this scenario, have guns. The presence of ubiquitous guns is helpful not only in that you can personally defend yourself, but as a deterrent to aggressors.

    Exactly how are they going to be subdued if they’re shooting at you from cover away from other people? You don’t have to be alone, the shooter has to be alone, which is hardly hard for him to arrange. What about night time? Sound suppressors? I don’t think you’ve thought this out very thoroughly. Either that or you’re just stupid.

  104. >What if the property in question, is, say, monetary damages for violation of contract, as determined by some arbiter? Does the arbiter’s action in declaring that A owes B some money create aggression by A against B? Is A, by refusing to pay, initiating violence against B? That would be an extraordinary definition of violence.

    Yes, it would be. But you’re smart enough to figure out how libertarians think about it instead, so I’ll just give you one hint about an edge case: there’s an outside possibility the arbiter’s judgment could be initiation of force, if the money award were disproportionate to the actual harm done by the contract through either error or corruption.

  105. >How do you get an anarchy to be your kind of anarchy, and not someone else’s kind of anarchy?

    If I had a complete answer to that, I’d do it!

    Somalia is actually a reason that I’ve had to discard some of my previous beliefs about this, but not in the way you’d assume. The interesting thing about Somalia is that it’s not a hellhole – in fact, by some measures (infant mortality and deployment of telecomms) it’s doing better than its neighbors, and levels of crime and political violence don’t seem to be worse than average for the region. Compare it with neighboring Sudan, which really is a hellhole – two different civil wars, the janjaweed, and so forth. I used to think “my kind of anarchy” had necessary preconditions including a well-established civil society and Western traditions, but the Somalians may be in the process of proving that wrong.

  106. I haven’t read any of the comments, so I apologize in advance if part of this was said there.

    In some sense, this particular type of moral cowardice does cost money. Or to be more precise, eliminating that cowardice saves money.

    My dad had become licensed to give the standard course in Texas that would qualify takers for a concealed carry license. He began advertising it, and had an answer prepared for the question: “How much do you charge?”. His answer was, “Well, I normally charge $115. However, a study was done that showed that for every person who became qualified to carry concealed, the state saved over $10000 in damages from violent crime. So, if you can afford $115, $115 it is. If you cannot afford it – come see me.” My dad was keenly aware of what he was getting as an individual from qualifying someone else to carry, even if he gave it away.

    One wonders how much money Vermont would save.

  107. Exactly how are they going to be subdued if they’re shooting at you from cover away from other people? You don’t have to be alone, the shooter has to be alone, which is hardly hard for him to arrange. What about night time? Sound suppressors? I don’t think you’ve thought this out very thoroughly. Either that or you’re just stupid.

    You’re thinking too much in terms of individual incidents. If someone really wants to kill you, and has the resources, mental and physical, to do so, it’s a very different situation from ordinary crime. I’m thinking in terms of a society where the average person is armed. J. Random Criminal is less likely to attack a person and try to steal their wallet if there is a higher chance of that person carrying a gun, regardless of whether J. Random has a gun, because guns are inherently destabilizing in a combat situation (i.e., one lucky shot and you’re dead). And J. Random Criminal, AFAICT, is also unlikely to simply shoot you from cover and then steal your wallet; not only is it a much more serious charge, but preemptively and cold-bloodedly shooting someone is much more psychologically difficult than simply threatening them with a gun. Your arguments are valid if, say, you are the target of a hitman, but if that’s your situation you’re probably dead (unless you have the resources to hire bodyguards and/or are willing to simply stay in a bunker all the time). Also, putting random ad hominems in your arguments is an excellent way to make them seem specious regardless of their otherwise quality.

  108. You’re thinking too much in terms of individual incidents. If someone really wants to kill you, and has the resources, mental and physical, to do so, it’s a very different situation from ordinary crime. I’m thinking in terms of a society where the average person is armed. J. Random Criminal is less likely to attack a person and try to steal their wallet if there is a higher chance of that person carrying a gun, regardless of whether J. Random has a gun, because guns are inherently destabilizing in a combat situation (i.e., one lucky shot and you’re dead). And J. Random Criminal, AFAICT, is also unlikely to simply shoot you from cover and then steal your wallet; not only is it a much more serious charge, but preemptively and cold-bloodedly shooting someone is much more psychologically difficult than simply threatening them with a gun. Your arguments are valid if, say, you are the target of a hitman, but if that’s your situation you’re probably dead (unless you have the resources to hire bodyguards and/or are willing to simply stay in a bunker all the time).

    That was simply an example. If someone wants to shoot you and take your wallet at night and you are alone, there will be no bystander deterrent, because nobody is going to know in the dark who is the “good guy” and hence nobody law-abiding is going to start shooting. As far as destabilisation goes, there’s no reason to think that won’t simply cause criminals to shoot more pre-emptively. High-crime neighbourhoods are awash with guns; they’re also awash with tactics such as drive-by shootings which are used to give the initiator of violence the advantage. This is not rocket science. If I decide to rob someone, I will simply control the situation to my advantage. Will it be safer in crowded, well-lit spaces? Maybe, but where I live such places are already very safe. It is not going to help my girlfriend walking home at night to have a gun if her rapist carries one as well – he will just approach unseen from behind and put it in her back.

  109. Barry, your unprovable speculations simply do not stand against the reason and evidence of what reality repeatedly demonstrates.

    You keep throwing this ‘drive by’ scenario around as if it proves anything. That is a very different form of violent crime, where the objective is not robbery or rape, but murder. The “Beltway Sniper” (may his corpse rot in hell) demonstrated quite adequately that cold-blooded murderous intent is very difficult to prevent, regardless of how armed the civilian population is. Those shootings took place in VA, where concealed carry is statistically quite popular. Drive-by shootings are generally for 2 reasons – gang initiation (shoot some random white guy) or inter-gang warfare. They are not common, and do not form a statistically significant part of general violent crime. Speculating that they would become the tactic-du-jour if the civilian body was more heavily armed is the height of rectal linguistics.

    Reality has shown us a displacement effect when localities move towards more constitutional gun laws….bad guys don’t want to get shot, and they don’t resort to drive-bys in frustration. Reality is a stubborn thing.

    I carry a gun because it is the very best option available to me. Nobody on this planet is going to be available to save me when the fit hits the shan. Maybe you believe otherwise – perhaps you think the police will save you – I don’t. Police are worthless for personal defense. I exercise my freedom of choice, and avail myself of the best technology I can afford to repel a violent criminal.

    I do not grant permission or authority to anyone else to make this decision for me. No debate allowed.

    As for claims of ‘societal harm’ due to increased levels of civilian arms – again, reality consistently demonstrates otherwise…..and I find the notion – that some people believe they are capable of divining such societal calculus – to be laughable.

    Your ilk have never been right about any such calculus. The steady reason of the pro-gun faction has repeatedly been demonstrated to be consistently accurate.

    Guns don’t cause crime. Dog-shit thug cultures cause crime. That’s the difference between scummy downtown thugs and civilized people, guns or no guns.

  110. The drive by scenario is a red herring anyway, as a drive by does not allow the criminal to accomplish the same goal as a mugging. The purpose of a drive by is to kill and get away as quickly as possible without being seen. The purpose of a mugging is to be seen as a credible threat in order to acquire money or other goods. It would be very hard for a criminal to grab my wallet at 30 MPH. Similarly, the goal of a mugging is money, not murder. Criminals especially (but like anyone else) will take the easy way out, and if they can mug without actually killing, they will do that every time. I sincerely doubt there are enough criminals that would turn to murder to steal wallets, regardless of how well armed society is.

  111. Leaving aside all the arguments that others are enjoying themselves with, the problem I have with Eric’s original post is this:

    It conflates – illogically in my view – “moral cowardice” (as opposed to its big brother, “immoral cowardice”?) with the view that unrestricted gun ownership is a bad thing.

    If you cannot accept there is a distinction between the position (which I hold) that says that regulating firearm ownership is sensible, and the (as far as I know) completely hypothetical position that no-one should be permitted to own firearms at all, then I’m afraid sensible dialogue is not possible.

    If you do accept the distinction, then surely the entire issue is boiled down to a quantitive assessment of the degree of regulation that may be required in a given jurisdiction. Does the fact that I think in general stronger regulation on this issue make me a coward, or is that just a shorthand way of bullying me because you have a different view, .

    Note: I live in Australia and firearm ownership – in urban areas at least – is pretty much a non issue. While I can imagine people here making the arguments that are bandied around on this blog about ubiquitous gun ownership reducing crime etc. etc. – but I think the response would be blank stares and quietly backing away.
    So I suppose you might say my perspective differs

  112. “…“moral cowardice” (as opposed to its big brother, “immoral cowardice”?)….”

    Heh. No…I think what ESR is getting at is a flavor of cowardice that stems from ones lack of moral integrity….not that some cowardice is moral and some cowardice immoral ;) The notion that some people are unwillingly to adopt responsibility for themselves and their families, instead insisting that it is the job of others (typically state-sanctified) to protect us, as well as hiding behind the brute force of the state to disarm those of us that do accept said responsibility – the immoral, cowardly stance that would have us all dragged down to their wretched level.

    “…If you cannot accept there is a distinction…”
    I accept your distinction, although I would argue that the two positions you highlight share the same profound flaws.

    “…then surely the entire issue is boiled down to a quantitive assessment of the degree of regulation that may be required in a given jurisdiction….”
    Hold your dingoes there, Bruce ;) Before we have any debate about ‘regulation’, we should first debate whether the very concept of such regulation is legitimate. I would argue that it is not – that any regulation of innocent, free peoples’ access to firearm technology is fascism. The very concept that one group of people (the political classes) have unfettered access to a certain form of technology, while actively suppressing access to the same technology by people outside their group, is medieval thuggery.

    Does my viewpoint preclude barring felons the use of arms? Of course not. Suppression of their right to access firearm technology is part of a bundle of punitive measures for their crimes – loss of liberty due to incarceration being a fundamental one, of course. The continued suppression of their right to arms (and to vote) is part of their punishment for the violence they have done to the public trust.

    In a free society, no man (or gang of men) has the authority to deny me my essential human right of the benefits of technology. If you consider me a threat, make your case in law – articulate it, prove it, demonstrate it – but do not presume the authority to arbitrarily regulate my life…..ironically, that would make me more dangerous than you can imagine.

  113. Reality has shown us a displacement effect when localities move towards more constitutional gun laws….bad guys don’t want to get shot, and they don’t resort to drive-bys in frustration. Reality is a stubborn thing.

    Citations? Or are you just making this up? The US has one of the worst murder-rates in the world, and a majority of those murders are carried out using guns.

    I carry a gun because it is the very best option available to me. Nobody on this planet is going to be available to save me when the fit hits the shan. Maybe you believe otherwise – perhaps you think the police will save you – I don’t. Police are worthless for personal defense. I exercise my freedom of choice, and avail myself of the best technology I can afford to repel a violent criminal.

    I am not against ownership of firearms. As a personal decision, it makes a lot of sense. I have thought about purchasing a firearm myself. I do not expect the police to save me, or anyone else; that’s why I escort my girlfriend everywhere she goes at night, and choose to live in a safe neighbourhood. Good decision-making is the best form of self-defense.

    Your ilk have never been right about any such calculus.

    I find this statement entertaining. I come from a country with very strict gun laws. Guess what? We have a lot less violent crime than you do. This is like health-care: you will argue all day long about the suppose moral benefits of gun ownership, while better countries outperform you in these areas by just biting the bullet and putting some regulations in place. Do not think that because the US political system is too impotent to produce a regulatory framework that isn’t both completely ineffective and horrendously complex that it hasn’t been done elsewhere. If you think gun control doesn’t work, you’re kidding yourself; the only gun I have seen was in a policeman’s holster, and I have never heard real gunshots. This is true of almost every non-rural Australian. Most people are happy with gun control laws because they have worked for us.

  114. Ah….you’re Australian….

    So now you drag your smelly carcass of a gun-control argument to the subject of statistics. Tiresomely predictable.

    It is true that total murders in the US are higher than any other nation (providing credible statistics). The problem with that factoid is that we’re also talking about a drastically different geographic area and population than other nations. Comparing the US with, say, the UK is statistically fraudulent because of the radically different sampling. We have a vast and diverse population under varying state laws. What is far more revealing is to look at comparative trends in violent crime. The US has enjoyed precipitous drops in such crime following passage of “right to carry” laws in the 80′s.

    If you actually break down the aggregate numbers for the US, what you see is that a grossly disproportionate amount of our violent crime is centered on ‘hotspots’. Would you care to have a guess at what these hotspots have in common? That’s right, they’re all heavily regulated with gun-control laws. Similarly, pretty much all of the multiple-victim active-shooter events we have endured have taken place in….”gun free zones”. How odd.

    I am glad that you have little crime where you live. Historically, Australia, much like the UK and most other civilized nations, has never really been known for its epidemic levels of violent crime – such crime has always been an aberration. Yet in the UK, with increasingly ‘strict’ gun-control measures have come increasing levels of violent crime. I hope this trend is not mirrored in Australia. However, saying “we have gun control here and low crime” really doesn’t prove anything – you’ve never had crime levels like DC or LA or Chicago – neither has Japan with their very strict gun-control laws. Neither has Switzerland, where it is common for homes to contain a real assault rifle. Neither do many of the States here in the US that have quality concealed-carry laws backed up by reasonable deadly force laws (“Castle doctrine” and analogues).

    There is no rational statistical analysis that shows guns cause crime, or that gun-control reduces crime. There is only statistical evidence to suggest that laws supporting the lawful possession of arms by civilians has at worst a neutral effect. State-by-state, and locality-by-locality, the ‘guns cause crime’ mantra is consistently falsified. We’re not a nation of maniacs – we have a firearm for every man, woman and child, present in around half the homes, possessed by approx 1/3 the population – and we burn through millions upon millions of rounds of ammo each year…yet the blood is not pouring down main street (as was absurdly predicted by the lobotomized soothsayers of doom).

    Your gun-control laws haven’t done anything to reduce crime….that is merely a politically exploitable coincidence. And exploit you they do….with a sociopathic mantra of passivity and dependence. “Be a good witness”, “give them what they want”, “resistance will get you hurt” – what kind of wretched state of humanity are they advocating? Suggesting that you allow your life to be placed into the hands of a person that by definition holds your life in contempt, and then backing that up with legislation that strips you of any freedom to decide otherwise….is categorically sociopathic. Yet you parrot it as if it is a virtue.

    The one consistent pattern that predicts violent crime patterns, is the prevalence of certain demographics and their dominant cultures. If you think gun-control works, you’re kidding yourself.

    Your country has already taken that suicidal step off the ledge. Can you even buy a handgun, much less carry one? You don’t even have that option. Your superiors have stripped you of that choice. What a ‘life’. Do you even have the courage to beg your masters to allow you to think for yourself?

    I can only continue to do everything I can to ensure that our country isn’t stupid enough to follow your bleating herd.

  115. > The very concept that one group of people (the political classes) have unfettered access to a certain form of technology, while actively suppressing access to the same technology by people outside their group, is medieval thuggery.

    Except that your “one group of people” doesn’t have “unfettered access” to firearms at all … Others here have made the point that an armed police force and military amounts to a delegation of responsibility by the wider group not an abdication.

    The “political classes” (whoever they are) are bound by the same restrictions on firearm ownership as the rest of us.

  116. >The “political classes” (whoever they are) are bound by the same restrictions on firearm ownership as the rest of us.

    Ho. You think so, do you? You aren’t neeearly cynical enough.

    The political class routinely write exceptions into such laws for themselves and their bodyguards (and, often, their rich and well-connected friends and their bodyguards as well). And even when they don’t,. they control police and militaries.

  117. “…The “political classes” (whoever they are) are bound by the same restrictions on firearm ownership as the rest of us….”
    You. Have. Got. To. Be. Shitting. Me. Naivete writ large.

    Another thought about this ‘gun control’ debate:

    What occurs to me is that we see two diametrically opposed views of ‘politics’ being exercised here – the ‘American’ view, and the rest of the world’s view.

    The rest of the world sees humanity as something to be dominated. They speak in terms of governments “being in charge” of a nation, and electing “leaders” of a nation….as if a nation is one homogeneous tribe that obviously seeks a ruler to chart a course into the future that will secure their fortunes.

    It is hardly surprising to see, from these nations, a mindset emerging that views the populace as ‘cattle’ – a herd to be managed; to be ruled and regulated so that the aggregate level of criminal damage is acceptable to a standard set by the “leaders”. Acknowledgment of the essential dignity of individual rights is crushed by the need to abstract such morally challenging concepts in order to build politically rhetorical, marketable, aphorisms. In this sense, the governments of these nations are pathologically sociopathic. They are not your friend, they do not act in your best interest, and they are not deserving of your trust.

    Yet trust them you do.

    America is different – or, at least, it was

    Our government is not “in charge” of America. The political class does not “run the country”….although they are currently deluded enough to think they do.

    We the people “run” America because we are America. The cunts in DC are our employees, may God have mercy on our souls.

    True Americans do not recognize the legitimacy of anyone claiming to have the authority to dictate the manner in which we employ modern technology to benefit our lives. Sadly, our political class does not understand this. Our President does not have the authority to sign this nation up to a treaty that imposes draconian gun-control measures. If he attempts to do so, the camel’s back will surely break, and the political class will be dealt a brutal lesson in understanding their place in American society.

    Gun control is evil. Gun control must always be fought by civilized people. We are not cattle, and anyone that aspires to impose themselves as our shepard must be destroyed – metaphorically, of course.

  118. Right. And just who is this political class of which you speak? It seems you think that term useful to describe some group of people (presumably other than elected politicians?) that you believe have their hands on the levers of power.

    I’ve always imagined such a group comprises cigar-chomping captains of industry much more than hippies who want to take away your guns.

    Whatever.

    My point above was that leaving all this aside, calling people you disagree with names is bullying not debate.

  119. @Tom – the “political class” is the cadre of individuals, throughout the tri-branch government (but especially legislative – and down through their State analogues), that is systemically invested in the economics of political posturing. This isn’t hard to understand, is it? They are fed by the rapacious lobbyist groups, and propagandized by the cartel media. Is any of this news to you?

    Calling people names?

    If that is the depth to which you are capable of observing this debate, then I pity you.

    I’m not calling people names, I’m communicating the utter disgust I have for such people, and articulating the reasons why. If you wish to disregard me for doing so, fine….but realize that I consider you a pathetic child for doing so.

  120. No argument for ‘gun-control’ can withstand the rational appeal to simple humanistic individuality and equality.

    You either support human equivalence or you don’t.

    “Equality” doesn’t include legislation that states ‘some are more equal than others’.

    Government is a subordinate body. They work for us in a limited constrained environment……or, they should.

    Free people with guns have never been a problem – governments with guns have historically been responsible for practically all the slaughter humanity has suffered. If you truly wish to minimize death – disarm the governments of the world.

    You may not appreciate it yet…..but the American model of individual liberty, and right to arms, is the only hope for mankind.

  121. Paint proud individuals shouldering arms against historically vicious governments.

    We need to celebrate the killing of governmental fascists more often….

  122. Dan,
    I am not sure which America you are talking about, but the one I live in thinks of their politicians as leaders. The certainly think of themselves as subject to the government, and many of them look to the government for nearly everything that is big or hard. The current version of the American polity makes the terminology “public servant” hilarious.

    I don’t think that you can necessarily look back to a golden age in the past either. I would remind you that during the American revolution only about a third of the population were supporters. The other two thirds were split between Tories and “don’t care”. I’d say that about a third of the population take the view that you espouse, however, they are not, and have probably never been, the majority. I might add also that in earlier golden ages, the concept of equality before the law did not include people of non European descent, and often not women.

    So although I support most of the views you are advocating, and they are American in the sense that they are rarer elsewhere, and are encapsulated into certain of our cultural institutions, it is a sad and simple fact that most Americans do not advocate this “American ideal.” and many, perhaps a majority, think you a moonbat for even thinking them. Heck, the so called “People for the American Way” are about as far from my politics as it is possible to be.

  123. >The political class routinely write exceptions into such laws for themselves and their bodyguards (and, often, their rich and well-connected friends and their bodyguards as well). And even when they don’t,. they control police and militaries.

    I know that our political class made an exception for your political class last time we hosted APEC.

    Note that Tom is from Australia. Perhaps your opinion of the necessary level of cynicism is coloured by the level of corruption in your government?

  124. >Perhaps your opinion of the necessary level of cynicism is coloured by the level of corruption in your government?

    Depends on what you mean by “corruption”. Overt corruption, the kind that would be prosecutable under the law, is rare in the U.S. U.S. citizens don’t understand this because they have no experience of places where it’s endemic, but I do – I have the experience of having lived in Italy and Venezuala to back up the statistics that put the U.S. near the top of the clean-governent tables, pipped only by a handful of small Scandinavian countries and (some years) Great Britain.

    The kind of more subtle corruption that is intrinsic to the nature of politics, in which “public servants” behave like public masters, is a problem everywhere. That’s the kind that invpolves carving out exceptions for their bodyguards.

  125. >Depends on what you mean by “corruption”.

    The kind that earns politicians nicknames of the form “The Senator from X”. (where X is not, as you would expect, a State)

    >the statistics that put the U.S. near the top of the clean-government tables.

    Which tables? The ones I’ve seen tend to go Scandinavia+NZ, then Australia/Canada/Germany/UK, then the US in the third “bunch”. But I have my doubts about their methodology, so I’m open to looking at other lists.

  126. Sadly, Jessica, I nod in agreement.

    I try to sprinkle a few “or at least, they should” qualifiers in my rantings…..I’m well aware that our current political class only mockingly refers to themselves as “servants”. I also witness on a daily basis the fact that the majority of people think of them as their “leaders”

    I guess I’m an idealist – this isn’t what America was meant to be. That, indeed, is a sad and simple fact.

  127. Pete says:
    >The kind that earns politicians nicknames of the form “The Senator from X”. (where X is not, as you would expect, a State)

    I don’t know if that is the same thing as corruption. Just because a Senator is, for example, an advocate of strong copyright, doesn’t mean he is necessarily corrupt. Corruption is more where a government official uses the power of government for his own direct and immediate personal benefit. For example, shaking down a children’s hospital for campaign contributions before it receives certain state grants (as was done recently, allegedly, by the nutty ex-governor of Illinois.)

    I agree with Eric, unless you have seen the levels of corruption that exist in most areas of the world, you have no idea how clean the US, and other anglosphere countries are. In fact here in the US there are federal laws in place that make it illegal for subsidiaries of US companies to engage in bribery when doing deals overseas. So for example, if Exxon wants to do a deal with Petrobras, they will suffer serious penalties if they follow the normal course of business in Brazil, which is to throw money around like confetti. This gives, for example, TotalFinaElf, a massive advantage, because France looks at bribery as a regular cost of doing business. The breathtaking naivete, and boy scout do-gooding idea behind that law is insane in my opinion. In most countries of the world, to get most anything done by the government it is just assumed that a bribe is required. The only places that is not true is in the anglosphere and other Northern European cultures. (And I would accept that it is less prevalent in southern Europe and British Commonwealth countries too.)

    I think this comes down to the thing that has been piquing my interest lately, and that I have tried a couple of times to poke Eric to talk about more (without much success — hint, hint.) That is this whole concept of cultural capital, a kind of base set of memes agreed upon by a culture. It is why corruption doesn’t take place so much, or at least is considered absolutely terrible, in these countries. It is why the President of France can have a mistress and take her to parties, and nobody cares, and the President of the US can get a secret blowjob in the Oval office and the whole political system quakes. It is why a senator in Brazil can run a reality TV show, be a major drug lord, and order assassinations to boost his TV ratings, and most Brazilians shrug as if it is only to be expected. And why the Governor of Illinois’ wife can do a reality TV show, and the whole country tut, tut, tuts in contempt.

    It is also very strongly related to the debate over gun control. Specifically what seems to be a far stronger predictor of the levels of violence in a society is this same cultural capital. Here in the US the huge majority of violence occurs amongst a tiny small sub culture, the ghetto culture, which is a culture that shares remarkably little cultural capital with the rest of the United States. There are many reasons for this, most of them to do with the way welfare is structured, and the way the public school system is run, but it is nonetheless a fact.

    Also, briefly, one point I agree with Pete on, most of these country ranking tables are deeply flawed. They are based on huge numbers of assumptions that you probably don’t agree with. For example, the US healthcare system is supposedly rated 35th in the world. This is patently stupid, but it is calculated based on, for example, the basic assumption that single payer is inherently better, a fact which is weighed heavily against the USA. In terms of medical results (M&M from time of diagnosis) the United States Healthcare system is clearly, and significantly better than ever other system in the world. Where it ranks depends almost completely on how you think to rank, which means these tables are presented as objective evidence, when they are purely and entirely subjective. In my opinion they are quite simple designed to deceive.

    FWIW, I have come to the conclusion that statistical arguments are almost always worthless, except in scientific disciplines where all parties looking at the data do so very carefully, and have a high degree of understanding and skill in the discipline of statistics.

  128. > most of these country ranking tables are deeply flawed

    I would think that it would take only a tiny bit of effort to define things so that you could end up with any particular order you wanted. If you wanted to be extreme you could include having to give a tip to a barman to get served as corruption along with having to give a tip to a border official to get processed. If you put in a little effort in how you describe what you count as corruption it wouldn’t be obvious that was what you were doing; and you could count huge amounts of corruption.

    With a little effort you can be just as cunning in many categories and come up with any order you like. I think the physical sciences do a better job in having definitions that can’t be subtly reworded to mean different things.

  129. # David Rushton Says:
    > I would think that it would take only a tiny bit of effort to
    > define things so that you could end up with any particular
    > order you wanted.

    You are probably right if your goal was to inform rather than proselytize. However, generally the latter is the goal, not the former.

    > If you wanted to be extreme you could include having to give
    > a tip to a barman to get served as corruption along with having
    > to give a tip to a border official to get processed.

    You comparing apples and oranges. There is a huge difference between a government service and a commercial service.

    If you want a drivers’ license there is only one place to get it. If you want a martini there are lots of places. “Tipping” government officials is backed by the threat of force, punishment, jail time and so forth should you fail to comply. The barman can’t throw you in the slammer if you don’t buy a beer from him.

  130. >I don’t know if that is the same thing as corruption. Just because a Senator is, for example, an advocate of strong copyright, doesn’t mean he is necessarily corrupt.

    It’s not so much the strong advocacy, as the strong advocacy combined with the large campaign contributions from whoever they’re advocating for.

    >In terms of medical results (M&M from time of diagnosis) the United States Healthcare system is clearly, and significantly better than ever other system in the world.

    Were you giving me an example of how to skew the tables by making favourable assumptions, or was the irony unintentional?

  131. # pete Says:
    > It’s not so much the strong advocacy, as the strong advocacy
    > combined with the large campaign contributions from whoever
    > they’re advocating for.

    Chicken or egg?

    > Were you giving me an example of how to skew the tables by
    > making favourable assumptions, or was the irony unintentional?

    I was giving an honest assessment of how medical care performance should be measured, your cynicism notwithstanding. I think most people would agree that measuring how much you get better, or how much you get sicker, or and how frequently you die would be a good measure of how well your doctor performs.

  132. >Chicken or egg?

    Does it matter? I’d consider it corruption in either direction.

    >I was giving an honest assessment of how medical care performance should be measured, your cynicism notwithstanding.

    You’re confusing “medical care performance” with the systems which provide access to medical care. I wouldn’t be surprised if America did well on the former, but that’s not what the current debate is about.

  133. You’re confusing “medical care performance” with the systems which provide access to medical care. I wouldn’t be surprised if America did well on the former, but that’s not what the current debate is about.

    And yet, if I’m not mistaken, JessicaBoxer’s statistics reflect actual performance of the entire medical establishment, including the systems that provide access. If the entire system does better than many other systems which include single-payer or some similar silliness, then what is your evidence for the idea that single-payer is inherently better?

  134. >And yet, if I’m not mistaken, JessicaBoxer’s statistics reflect actual performance of the entire medical establishment, including the systems that provide access.

    You’re mistaken. JB claims that American health care is best if you are actually receiving that health care. If you’re evaluating a health care system you also need to include those people who aren’t being treated.

    >what is your evidence for the idea that single-payer is inherently better?

    I didn’t say that single-payer is “inherently” better (those were JB’s words). I didn’t even bring up single-payer.

  135. You’re mistaken. JB claims that American health care is best if you are actually receiving that health care. If you’re evaluating a health care system you also need to include those people who aren’t being treated.

    All right. Are there readily available statistics on people who are actually not being treated for real medical problems? I’ve seen the stats on people without insurance, but they may well be a red herring, and the only thing I’ve seen about people not being treated is overblown anecdotes.

    I didn’t say that single-payer is “inherently” better (those were JB’s words). I didn’t even bring up single-payer.

    I referenced single-payer because it is the major objective of a school of thought which you apparently defend. If it is not yours, I apologize.

  136. >I referenced single-payer because it is the major objective of a school of thought which you apparently defend. If it is not yours, I apologize.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to get grumpy (I support single-payer, which works very well here) — I just didn’t want to get drawn into three or four different off-topic arguments.

  137. pete Says:
    > Does it matter? I’d consider it corruption in either direction.

    Of course it does. You think there is no difference between someone choosing to support a politician whose position they agree with, and a politician choosing he political positions based on the types of people who contribute to his campaign? The former is legitimate political action, the second is corruption.

    Let me illustrate. If I send money to to a Michelle Bachmann to help in her campaign against the current attempts to nationalize our healthcare system, does that make Ms. Bachmann a corrupt politician? Does it make me a lobbyist?

    Tom Dickson-Hunt Says:
    > All right. Are there readily available statistics on people who
    > are actually not being treated for real medical problems?

    You know I am kind of on Pete’s side a little here (though I certainly disagree with his politics on the issue of healthcare.) My original point was that most of the statistics based arguments you see are subjective data pretending to be objective. So, in a sense, Pete’s criticism of me is meritorious. My original point was not particularly to discredit single payer, it was more along the lines of trying to show how the tables often cited on this are deceptive, and a different (in my opinion more reasonable) basis for measure completely changes the results.

    So frankly, I give a point to Pete on this one. Though we haven’t really engaged in a real discussion on healthcare, and I certainly concede not one whit on the massive superiority of a free market healthcare system. (I’d really like to have one of those in America too.)

  138. >Of course it does. You think there is no difference between someone choosing to support a politician whose position they agree with, and a politician choosing he political positions based on the types of people who contribute to his campaign? The former is legitimate political action, the second is corruption.

    Given the different levels of “support” an individual and a corporation can provide a politician, I would still describe that as corruption. If you prefer a narrower definition I would still call this “deeply undemocratic”.

    I think there are actually three cases (causation in each direction plus a sort of backwards-causations case).

    1. Corporation pays money, Politician chooses policy based on payment. (corrupt)
    2. Politician chooses policy, Corporation pays money based on policy. (deeply undemocratic)
    3. Politician chooses policy based on expected contributions. Corporation pays money, as expected.

    I’d call (3) corrupt as well. One of the problems with (2) (but not the largest problem) is that it’s indistinguishable from (3). On top of that (2) and (3) are very difficult to distinguish from (1).

    Given sufficient cultural capital, I think the optimal solution is transparency. In fact, with sufficient transparency I’m okay even with (1), e.g. if the insurance companies want to run their own candidates, that should be allowed — as long as the electorate know what they’re voting for.

  139. # pete Says:
    > Given sufficient cultural capital, I think the optimal solution is transparency.

    I want to agree with that, but there are certainly problems with transparency too. Would you be in favor of publishing a list of the way everyone voted on every issue and election? Isn’t that transparency too?

    A perfect illustration on this was the recent vote in California over the issue of gay marriage. I can’t remember how it worked, it was one of these double negatives thing, however, the bottom line is that gay marriage was made invalid in the state of California. There was obviously a great deal of rage amongst the supporters of gay marriage, and there were several documented instances of people who supported eliminating gay marriage loosing their jobs specifically for that reason. There was also a great deal of harassment too. These people were tracked down by looking at the “transparent” information that the State Election Commission publish about who contributed to what. I remember another occasion when a teacher who contributed to a particularly bombastic opponent of the local school board lost her job. There seemed to be pretty strong reason to believe that the lady lost her job because of her political support.

    Of course in places with different cultural practices, support to a loosing candidate can be considerably more consequential than loosing your job.

    Transparency can lead to very unpleasant consequences. I suggest we leave the choice for or against transparency to the politician, and let the voters decide if they like that choice.

    Of course the real problem with democracy in a broader sense is that politicians have WAY too much power over people’s lives. Because they are so powerful, they matter a lot more. If they mattered less, all this other stuff would be unimportant. Unfortunately, if you are a corporation, you undoubtedly have enemies. If they are working the political system to your detriment, then you are almost required to roll up your sleeves and get out your wallet to defend yourself. If the enemy’s politician can’t attack you due to a lack of constitutional authority then you can feel safe not to contribute to the nonsense.

  140. >I want to agree with that, but there are certainly problems with transparency too. Would you be in favor of publishing a list of the way everyone voted on every issue and election? Isn’t that transparency too?

    The difference between votes and donations is that each person has one vote. In practise I’d prefer a (low) donation disclosure limit, so that anyone can donate anonymously, but not disproportionately to everyone else. Or perhaps “vouchers” similar to what some people want in education.

    Actually, given sufficient cultural capital I think that open voting could work. for a very high definition of “sufficient”. I’m thinking of the sort of society where firing someone for there political beliefs or voting to strip someone of their right to marry isn’t the sort of thing anyone wants to do. That’s a bit utopian though, so until we get there I’ll stick to supporting anonymity.

  141. Talking of moral cowardice, lets talk about moral insanity. I read a story of an ex-soldier in the UK who found a loaded shotgun in his backyard. Since the UK is a gun free paradise, he took the weapon to the police station to hand it in to the police. He was immediately arrested for possession of a firearm and has just been convicted of the offense. Due to strict sentencing guidelines he will probably spend the next five years in prison.

    No indication that he is a bad guy, no indication that he owned or had used the weapon, or that he mishandled the weapon in any way. He just found it in his backyard and handed it in to the police the next day. And for, what he termed “doing his duty” to protect public safety, he is going to spend five years cooling his heels.

    I have no idea how to embed links in here, but I am sure you will find it if you go on google news and look for “Paul Clarke shotgun”.

  142. >Due to strict sentencing guidelines he will probably spend the next five years in prison.

    He hasn’t been sentenced yet (11 December). If the facts are as reported he will probably get an absolute discharge (no penalty, conviction removed).

    >I have no idea how to embed links in here

    <a href=”put the url here”>And some text here</a>

  143. Pete says:
    > He hasn’t been sentenced yet (11 December). If the facts
    > are as reported he will probably get an absolute discharge
    > (no penalty, conviction removed).

    Here is the quote from the local newspaper Surrey Today

    “The jury took 20 minutes to make its conviction, and Mr Clarke now faces a minimum of five year’s imprisonment for handing in the weapon.”

    I’m going to take their word for it over yours.

  144. >local newspaper Surrey Today.

    Don’t take their word for it either. Doesn’t the story sound just a little fishy to you?

    What information is the journalist using to determine that Mr Clarke is facing “a minimum of five years”? Presumably from a simplistic reading of the minimum sentencing laws. But the UK is a party to the European Convention, which prohibits “arbitrary and disproportionate” punishment. The judge has already described the case as ‘unusual’, suggesting he might rely on the precedents in R v Rehman and Wood (less than minimum sentences).

    I should add that I agree the whole thing looks pretty Kafkaesque to me. But unless there’s extra stuff we don’t know, 5 years is very unlikely.

  145. pete Says:
    > Don’t take their word for it either. Doesn’t the story sound just a little fishy to you?

    Yes, very odd, however, I am rarely surprised by the caprice and stupidity of the law and government. Nonetheless, we will no doubt find out about a month from now. Frankly, the fact the guy has been inconvenienced by being arrested, charged, and presumably spending some time in holding cells is disgraceful enough already.

  146. >I don’t know if any forges are such offenders,

    Fortunately, no. Most of the forges out there descend from pre–Ajax code written in PHP. Launchpad may be an exception.

  147. @JessicaBoxer: Your shotgun samaritan certainly seems to have frothed up a few folks elsewhere. Here’s a perspective you may or may not find interesting.

  148. # Tom Says:
    > Your shotgun samaritan certainly seems to have frothed up
    > a few folks elsewhere.

    Thanks for the info. I find it interesting how people get stuck in situations where they have to squirm to justify the unjustifiable. Any sensible person would say this is a gross miscarriage of justice (based on the facts reported), but for some reason people who hate guns just can’t let it go.

    To give an example, I think that people who sexually abuse children should rot slowly in hell. However, I am the first to stand up and defend the guy who takes an innocent picture of his daughter in the bathtub when the forces in PC insanity rise to squash him. I think rapists should have their dicks cut off. However, I am the first to tell the girl who changes her yes to a no the next morning that she should own her own choices rather than blaming someone else.

    Why is it that even people who hate guns can’t just simply say of Paul Clarke that he is obviously a decent man trying to do the right thing and, to use the British vernacular, recognize that “this collar is a bag of shite.”

    It seems to me that most people seem more interested in defending their entrenched intellectual positions than in honestly seeking out what is right and true. However, I suppose thinking is hard work.

  149. >It seems to me that most people seem more interested in defending their entrenched intellectual positions than in honestly seeking out what is right and true. However, I suppose thinking is hard work.

    There are two likely reactions to this story, depending on which position you hold, entrenched or otherwise.

    If the story fits well with your current model of the world, you’ll simply believe the story and move straight to the moral outrage. Confirmation bias makes you credulous. (I’d fall for the same trap if it were, say, a story about Dick Cheney eating kittens).

    If the story goes against your current worldview (people-are-stupid-but-not-that-stupid) then it’s easier to see the holes in the story.

    >Any sensible person would say this is a gross miscarriage of justice (based on the facts reported) … Why is it that even people who hate guns can’t just simply say of Paul Clarke that he is obviously a decent man trying to do the right thing.

    I find that people are reluctant to concede even an obviously valid counterfactual:

    facts as reported are true => miscarriage of justice;

    because it’s so easy to get confused and drop the assumptions: “he is obviously a decent man”.

  150. pete Says:
    > There are two likely reactions to this story, depending
    > on which position you hold, entrenched or otherwise.

    You are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.

  151. >You are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.

    Unless you’re Paul Clarke, in which case you can have whatever facts you want?

  152. # pete Says:
    > Unless you’re Paul Clarke, in which case you can have whatever facts you want?

    Huh?

  153. You’ve used the quote “You are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts”, after repeatedly suggesting that we assume the facts as reported (i.e. only Paul Clarke’s side of the story) are true.

  154. # pete Says:
    > after repeatedly suggesting that we assume the facts as reported are true.

    So a newspaper, without any obvious agenda, reports the plain verifiable facts. You imagine that there might be some other facts. Somehow your fantasy should be held in the same regard as the former? Buddy, the secret Bush-blew-up-the-buildings meeting is on tomorrow night. Can you get me that book on the Trilateral Commission when you are there?

  155. >So a newspaper, without any obvious agenda.

    Just the usual agenda — selling copies. This leads to a bias towards sensationalism.

    >reports the plain verifiable facts.

    Tom’s already given you a link showing that the “at least 5 years” “fact” is false.

  156. # pete Says:
    > Tom’s already given you a link showing that the “at least 5 years” “fact” is false.

    No, Tom sent a link to a froth mouthed blog post that made a claim that sometimes the judicial system in Britain does on things. He has done nothing even vaguely resembling what you described. You have claimed the facts are wrong, and your opinion opinion is not less irrelevant than the froth mouthed blog post.

    As I say, we will see in a month.

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