20 May 2018

America's rifle

An AR-15 or a modified version of one was used to commit the attacks in Aurora, Colorado (June 2012); Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (December 2012); San Bernardino, California (December 2015); First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (November 2017); and Parkland, Florida (February 2018). Yet according to the NRA, this is "America's rifle."

22 comments:

TJandTheBear said...

Yes, 15 million plus of them in the U.S. and yet they account for less homicides than knives or even bare hands... approximately 100 annually. That infinitesimally low level makes them one of the least misused products in the entire country.

Karlo said...

What are the stats for murders with bare hands and knives?

TJandTheBear said...

FBI: Murder Victims by Weapon

Rifles (all kinds): ~295 per year / 5 year average
Clubs/hammers/etc.: ~463 per year / 5 year average
Hands/fists/feet : ~678 per year / 5 year average
Knives/blades/etc.: ~1576 per year / 5 year average


Karlo said...

Is that per 100,000 people or the whole U.S.? For the whole U.S., it would have to be much much higher (about 10 times what you have). The Wikipedia page (which seems to be well sourced) has much higher numbers, for example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States#cite_note-cdc.gov-4

TJandTheBear said...

Those are entire year numbers, but again, just for rifles. AR15 are considered rifles, and constitute no more than a third of the rifle total.

All guns -- covered under "Total Firearms" -- average ~9387 a year.

Karlo said...

Isee. I'd agree that handguns are more of an issue since they're easy to conceal. That said, I don't see why society benefits from individuals being allowed to own miliary rifles. The meme that they protect societies from takeover by corrupt governments is demonstratably false. (Many of the societies taken over by corrupt governments have plenty of guns.) They're inferior as hunting rifles. For self defense in a house, they're inferior to handguns. I grew up with a lot of guns but having spent much of my life overseas in countries with no guns, I've got to say that I much prefer walking down the street at night knowing that the most I'll face is a knife. If someone comes at me with a knife, they'd better not trip or be somewhere where I can grab a rock or a piece of metal.

TJandTheBear said...

And I respectfully disagree. I can take your opinions apart, but no need for a diatribe.

Let me leave you with this: Guns are the ultimate expression of individual empowerment and equality. An armed, trained young woman is the equal of any man (or gang of same). Same for any person likely to be targeted for their looks, orientation, beliefs, etc. Why is a level-playing field desirable for everything other than defending yourself and your loved ones?

p.s.: I'd avoid making assumptions about my leanings as you'd inevitably be wrong.

Karlo said...

Since countries have different policies on guns, the question of whether it offers women (or others) protection is empirical. If guns offer protection to women, we'd expect to see lower rates for rape and other crimes. I realize that rape statistics are highly unreliable everywhere, but that said, rapes in the U.S. are, according to one source, around three times that in Europe (http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Crime/Rape-rate) and some of the highest rates in the world. And most of these rapes happen inside a home with someone the victim knows, so I'm not sure how a gun would help. Most women probably don't want to strap a gun to their waist 24-7 and have it loaded and ready to fire every time their cousin's friend visits. With guns, I really get the feeling that we're dealing with a mythology--people imagining scenarios that rarely occur as stereotypical.

TJandTheBear said...

Not at all, because you're comparing statistics across all women. Now if you have statistics that show armed women being victims at an equivalent or greater rate than those that are unarmed you could make an argument.
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The only mythology surrounding guns is that perpetuated by TV, movies and the news industry.

Karlo said...

The statistics are comparing societies, which makes perfect sense. For example, when someone implements a new educational policy in a school, we don't run a statistical analysis limited to students who study hard and effectively under the new policy. We simply analyze the results based on the policy's effects. That sort of analysis takes into account what people really do. My guess though is that if we looked at rape among women who owned guns, rape would be, if anything, much higher. But giving you the benefit of the doubt, if women who owned guns have reduced risk of being raped (and since more women in the U.S. own guns than their foreign counterparts), we can deduce (using your logic) that the real rate of rape in the U.S. (among non-gun-toting women) is much more than three times that of Europe (the rate when we include gun-toting women). Hmm... This doesn't seem likely. None of the numbers appear in the right direction for your argument. Again, I think these ideas from the pro-gun faction are arm-chair philosophizing with little grounding in reality. Most women aren't raped walking down the street. Even in the case of the few who are, most are probably tackled while in a park somewhere and aren't standing somewhere with a drawn gun as Mr. Rapist slowly walks towards her. The pro-gun scenarios owe more to watching Westerns and silly cop shows than anything happening in real life.

TJandTheBear said...

Tortured rationalization at its finest. Less than 3% of the adult female population have CCWs, hardly the basis for comparing societies, let alone so narrowly focused on rape.
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All assaults, whether they involve individuals or countries, stem from unequal power relationships. You're trying desperately to justify why individuals shouldn't have equal rights to defend themselves simply because of their size, gender, age, race or sexual preference -- whatever makes them targets of predatory individuals or groups. I guess in your mind "might makes right", whereas I believe in individual empowerment.
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p.s.: There are little to no pro-gun scenarios in the media, especially regarding cop shows. Just like the sensationalization of any negative events that even remotely involve weapons, they're all designed to frighten people into permanent victimhood.

Karlo said...

I'm currently reading the book The Culture Map (Erin Meyer) that talks about global cultural differences. According to the author--who is essentially summarizing current research--the most egalitarian societies cluster in northern Europe--hardly a gun-lovers paradise. Again, this is an empirical question. If guns create egalitarian societies, why aren't Congo, Somalia, and Syria all paradise? As for leveling the playing field, I don't know why you'd assume that would happen. Someone will have a better gun, a larger clip, or a better aim. In the end, if people can't learn to live together as a society based on some common values, there's no hope.

TJandTheBear said...

Culture and egalitarianism are other matters entirely and each country has unique conditions and history that defy such generalization -- nice attempt to redirect, though. Plenty of fertile territory for other discussions.
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There's no assumption, either -- gun vs. no gun is a far greater distinction than gun vs. bigger gun. The evidence of that is obvious and everywhere.
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People can't learn to live together? Another meaningless redirect. Violent crime in every 1st world country is committed by a very small percentage of the population. They will always be around and never respect any law, and there will almost never be a cop around when they strike. The only reason most people don't worry about it is that "it always happens to someone else". Admittedly, the odds are long, but the entire insurance industry is based on rare, traumatic events.
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Again, we're talking about "choice" here -- the choice to insure yourself against violence. To suggest common law-abiding citizens can't have that choice - an option regularly exercised by politicians and celebrities through "hired guns" -- would belie an underlying (and disturbing) mistrust of people in general.

Karlo said...

I've lived all over the world and can say from personal experience that violent crime is largely absent in large parts of the world. Your desire to wall off certain areas of debate is unwarranted and points to the real problem with getting anything real done in the U.S.--people are so enamored with individuality that they can't address anything that's happening at a societal level. At some level, American culture is producing a lot of violence and a lot of wackiness and dysfunction. In the end, a good society would strike a nice balance between the two and call for individual responsibility while acknowledging that many of the problems have deep culture roots. We don't really need to pontificate on these issues though: the world is one great test tube with countless experiments being run constantly. We have to ask why there are so many people who want to shoot each other. Giving everyone a gun to stop gun violence will probably work as well in the U.S. as it has worked in El Salvador.

TJandTheBear said...

Violence is largely absent here as well... as long as you don't live in a very few extremely violent areas. Do you dare to discuss those?

There's absolutely no correlation between violence and the inanimate objects used in it's commission. Progress will only be made when society focuses on the true origins of violent behavior, i.e., the perpetrators and their motives (whether they be political, cultural, economic or purely evil) and not the means.

Blaming guns is a convenient cop-out by those consistently failing to address (or simply unwilling to face) the real underlying problems. [It's also a ready excuse for those with an authoritarian bent to better subjugate their fellow citizens.]

Karlo said...

I'd actually feel more convinced by gun advocates if they simply said that they enjoy owning guns and don't mind if it results in occasional extra murders and school shootings. The position would make sense and be rational. The ideas that guns will stop slides into authoritarian government or that they'll protect the innocent from crime are easily disproven by examples from all over the world. I'd agree that guns aren't the only problem.

TJandTheBear said...

Occasional "extra" murders and school shootings? Guns don't result in "extra" violence anywhere. The violence would happen regardless, just taking a different (and likely more broadly lethal) form.

Again, the only irrationality concerns blaming the tool and not the person wielding it. Guns aren't the problem, period.

I could argue point-by-point your so-called proof, but don't see the need. It's pretty obvious that governments, which are all to varying degrees still innately authoritarian, fear an armed populace. It's also patently obvious that anything or anyone that's considered uniquely valuable is guarded by people with guns. Finally, it's also ridiculously obvious that those charged with confronting violence (when the timing is right) also do so with guns. [Oh, let's also not forget that so-called "freedom fighters" are not being showered in self-publishing materials.]

Karlo said...

Australia initiated gun control and has had virtually no mass killings in schools since. Unless we gain the ability to visit closely parallel universes, I don't know where you'd ever find a more appropriate example: the size of Australia is roughly similar to the continental U.S., it's also an immigrant nation (which began with European immigrants mostly from England), the list could go on and on. We've been blessed with the perfect experiment. According to your logic, we should be seeing ongoing attacks at Australian schools with psychotic killers wielding knives, clubs, and meat cleavers. The fact is, we don't. Mass murders virtually stopped the day of the ban. As for authoritarian governments fearing guns, that's complete hogwash. The Syrian government doesn't fear an armed population. The government has access to tanks, fighter jets, heavy artillery, and chemical weapons. If we want to even the playing field, the anti-authoritarian militias will definitely need to up their game. Regarding the first point, this is from an academic study (we really should argue these things based on research and facts versus our impressions): "In the 18 years before the gun law reforms, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia, and none in the 10.5 years afterwards. Declines in firearm-related deaths before the law reforms accelerated after the reforms for total firearm deaths (p = 0.04), firearm suicides (p = 0.007) and firearm homicides (p = 0.15), but not for the smallest category of unintentional firearm deaths, which increased. No evidence of substitution effect for suicides or homicides was observed." The Chapman et al. (2006) article can be found here: https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/injuryprev/12/6/365.full.pdf

TJandTheBear said...

School shootings are horrific but statistically insignificant. Sounds cold, but you're the one coldly fixated on weapons used in rare, highly-sensationalized (i.e., politicized) events. Those truly interested in saving people from violent deaths wouldn't start by spotlighting a weapon at the absolute bottom of the causes of death list (as we established earlier).
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Please, not the absured tanks/jets/artillery argument. Those weapons are great for killing people but useless for controlling them, and tyranny is all about control. Why else would there ever be the need for "boots on the ground"? Of course, when it is about killing, the first thing a tyrant does is strip the people of the means to defend themselves beforehand.
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Personally, I see no sensible argument justifying restrictions on 250+ million law-abiding adults due to the actions of an infinitesimally small fraction. The logical extension of that thinking is laughable, treats everyone like children, and defies the very principals of freedom and liberty.
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Stop rationalizing your position and lay it on the table -- why the personal animosity against guns? I grew up with them, I understand them, I respect them, but I don't fear them.

Karlo said...

I also grew up around plenty of guns. Having been shot at once when I was young may have given me a greater appreciation for what it's like to be on the wrong end of the barrel. I realize that risks of crime or pretty much anything in the news is pretty small in the great scheme of things when all is said and done. (For that matter, the risk of terrorism, for all the hype and calls for a strong military, is infinitesimally small). That said, I do think that the effects of something like a shooting aren't to be counted solely in the effects on the person shot. Beyond the trauma of those connected to the person, there are probably another hundred or more people losing sleep after walking home each night along the same street. Having lived abroad half of my life, I really love walking the streets at night anywhere without having to worry about guns. People don't have the same hair-trigger response where any affront immediately moves into potentially lethal territory. Police respond to events in a very casual manner since they know the criminals aren't going to shoot them.

TJandTheBear said...

I too have been shot at, albeit they were shooting to scare vs. shooting to kill. Nevertheless a harrowing experience. My takeaway just differs.

Growing up in the country you feel safer knowing everyone *has* guns. The incidence of crime in rural America is virtually nil in large part because that's where the majority of the guns reside -- in good, experienced hands.

It's like burglars avoiding houses with dogs, simply too much risk vs. uncertain reward. I much prefer having some guns around in the right hands, and to me CCW-qualified individuals are nearly as good as cops. CCW's are serious individuals that are far less likely to shoot since they'll never receive the same legal deference as police.
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Outside of this I'd wager we agree on a lot. 9/11 was tragic but the Patriot Act and unending wars is far worse. 4A & 6A have been shredded and 1A & 2A are under constant attack. Citizen's United? Abhorrent.

That said... Permitting the government to undermine "infringed" means you're implicitly assenting for them to undermine the synonym "abridged" as well. The words "the right of the people" must mean the same thing in every amendment they appear otherwise they mean nothing in any of them.

1A & 2A only allow for lawful *uses* of words and guns; they rightfully impose no limitation on the words or guns themselves. Imagine someone proclaiming that you needed a government issued license to speak? How about that you couldn't use certain words because of their size, power or imagery? What if they also told you that you could only speak very slowly and were only permitted a certain number of words before interruption?

Think about it.

Karlo said...

I'm glad to hear that you're against the so-called Patriot Act and related nonsense. As for free speech, we do have limits on free speech, things like libel laws and so on.