Gun Control
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11-06-2013, 12:36 PM (This post was last modified: 11-06-2013 01:02 PM by Phaedrus.)
Gun Control
I look at guns in terms of the social cost versus benefit.

As an example of what I mean, consider alcohol. Alcohol has many social costs, including drunk driving accidents, alcohol poisoning, alcoholism, numerous diseases of the liver and other body parts, and it overall costs the US billions of dollars a year. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed by alcohol, either directly or indirectly.

However, alcohol is fun and people want to use it. Additionally it provides a lucrative industry which benefits the economy. So alcohol is legal and tolerated.



Guns have social costs as well. Accidental deaths, murders and robberies and other crimes, mass shootings, and (arguably) suicides (I don't count them since I think everyone has a right to end their life if they choose).

But guns also have benefits. Self defense, hunting, pest elimination, and just the joy of shooting. If you haven't fired a gun before you may not understand the last one, but there is a real atavistic thrill to throwing lead at a target, the kick of the recoil, the smell of burnt gunpowder. On top of all this, guns are also a major, multi-billion dollar industry, and common civilian access to guns means that many people who join the military already have experience with firearms and are more effective marksmen and soldiers than those with no firearms experience.

The problem with guns, however, is the disparity in the distribution of the costs and benefits. Allow me to elaborate:

In rural areas, the benefits of owning a firearm are readily apparent. There is likely easy and cheap access to a shooting range or even informal shooting areas, and hunting provides a useful sport and method of pest control (deer are pests). Practically everyone owns a gun. Self-defense is also important, because while you're less likely to be robbed in the sticks, the police are generally farther away and take longer to respond, so having protection on-hand is more important. The social costs are low in rural areas; violent crime is less common, both per square mile and per capita. Theft of firearms is less common as well.

In large cities, the situation is totally different. There are fewer benefits. Relatively few people own guns, because places to shoot them are far between and expensive, usually with tight restrictions. Police can respond faster, so having a gun in your house is perhaps less important. Self-defense is the only major reason for owning a gun in the city, as the odds of being a victim of violent crime are higher, so concealed carry handguns make more sense. But the costs of guns are far higher in the city than in rural areas. Violent crime is more common, and guns are more commonly used for homicide than for self-defense. Gangs and organized crime are a real concern. And with higher population density, there's also a higher density of people with mental issues, who might, under the right circumstances, snap and start shooting up a school.


In other words, guns have many benefits and few costs in the rural areas, but have few benefits and very high cost in cities.


Since most rural areas are very conservative, lower income, and religious, gun ownership is stigmatized as something for right-wing nutjobs. Gun owners are easily stereotyped as bible thumping, Confederate-flag waving, violent meat heads. This stereotype is so common that it's a near ubiquitous characterization used in anti-gun circles. In fact it's often far from the truth.


The anti-gun movement is based largely in cities and suburbs, and is largely based on an emotional bias. They see only the cost of guns in their area, only the crime and murder, and don't see the benefits that drive the pro-gun movements. They combine this with the stereotype of the Republican meat head gun owner, and suddenly you have an extremely emotionally charged position that considers the opposition both morally and intellectually inferior. It's a toxic mindset.

Statistics do show that many people are killed with guns. But if it's pointed out that cars or alcohol kill many more the only response is, "It's not the same!" When you ask why, the most common answer is, "Guns are DESIGNED to kill people!" Bullshit. The vast majority of guns will never be fired at a person. Ever. For every bullet fired at a person there are hundreds of thousands fired at paper, cans, soda bottles, dirt, deer, varmints, or other targets. The majority of people don't own guns primarily for self defense; they own them because they enjoy shooting. Self-defense is largely a secondary concern outside of major urban conurbations where you are actually likely to be robbed.




The anti-gun movements have a valid concern; that high crime and murder rates in their areas might be alleviated by there being fewer guns available. But a blanket ban on guns, or meaningless bans on arbitrary features like pistol grips or flash suppressors (of all things!) or specific patterns of gun, are worthless and reactionary efforts. And the emotionally-charged, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, and disgustingly prejudiced stance they take against gun owners does nothing but polarize the debate and make a reasonable compromise less likely to be reached.

E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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11-06-2013, 12:54 PM
RE: Gun Control
You are 100% correct on the "and common civilian access to guns means that many people who join the military already have experience with firearms and are more effective marksmen and soldiers than those with no firearms experience."


I find it strange that most anti gun people are usually all about tolerance and acceptance and bring awareness thru education and training and all that happy talk bullcrap, accept when it comes to guns.

Why not awareness and education for firearms safety? Why do public school suspend kids for wearing Marine Corps shirts to school and reading outdoors magazines on the bus ride to school?

My father has taught hundreds of kids 3rd-12th grade how to safely and skillfully handle and use all manor of things that point and click.

I always wonder about people who are soo passionate about gun violence, what have they done to better things besides demonize the object itself.
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11-06-2013, 01:02 PM
Re: Gun Control
I didn't see anything in your post that hints at anything about gun control. You are generalizing about the generalizations of gun critics.

If the cost/benefit analysis for rural areas is in favor of benefit due to the decreased response time for emergency responders, how is that weighed against the decreased frequency of violent crime? Ergo, how does one come to the conclusion that the cost/benefit analysis does indeed weight towards benefit? It is true however that the cost side of it must necessarily take into account the use of guns as a tool for exacerbating a situation. An argument in a rural area escalates when someone pulls a gun. Were these scenarios given any weight?

I don't see any actual cost/benefit analysis that you have done.

In urban areas where crime rates are higher, you assert that owning a gun is less necessary due to emergency responder population and potential response time. Or that concealed weapons are more beneficial. I still don't see how that is derived from a cost/benefit analysis. One could just as easily draw the conclusion that in urban areas, increased police presence alone is enough to drastically curtail violence (Chicago is seeing quite the lull in violence this year and seems to be in part due to increased police presence in the most problematic areas, no concealed guns either.).

If the cost/benefit analysis for rural areas is in favor of fewer restrictions and pro-gun arguments because of decreased emergency responder populations and increased response times, this seems to me an argument for increasing the number of emergency responders and communication networks and not an argument for guns. Or, at the very least, an argument for proper training for those living in rural areas. (Australia and the UK allow rural farmers to own guns, so I fail to see how the rural argument has much weight for decreased restrictions and decreased regulation).

You talk about how the pro-gun side is generalized as bible-thumping rednecks, while generalizing that anyone promoting the liberal view on guns wants to ban them.

Had you intended to post the cost/benefit analysis at some point?

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11-06-2013, 01:15 PM
RE: Gun Control
I didn't claim to have a numerical cost/benefit analysis. If you demand one, look into putting one together yourself since that seems to be your thing. But the emergency responder comments were mainly secondary. The intangibles are significant. I mean, what's the objective benefit of alcohol in our society? Quantify it. I'm not sure it could be done, but if it were I'd bet that the costs would far outweigh the benefits. But we allow alcohol. Why? Because people enjoy it. Or consider the costs versus benefits of swimming. What's the objective social benefit of swimming pools? Not much. But the cost is high; more children drown each year than are killed by guns. But we hear nothing about banning swimming pools, or even much about educating the public on the risks.


What I'm saying is that the numeric cost/benefit isn't what's important, it's the perceived cost/benefit. People in rural areas generally consider firearms to be a net benefit. People in urban areas generally consider them a net negative. And I provided some anecdotal examples of why that could be. I'm not going to spend weeks building a numeric cost/benefit analysis just to satisfy your fetish; do that on your own time.



And I didn't generalize that all anti-gun people want to ban guns. Read it again. Some do, some only want idiotic, reactionary restrictions like a ban on AR-15s or guns with a pistol grip.

E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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11-06-2013, 01:33 PM
Re: RE: Gun Control
(11-06-2013 01:15 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  I didn't claim to have a numerical cost/benefit analysis. If you demand one, look into putting one together yourself since that seems to be your thing. But the emergency responder comments were mainly secondary. The intangibles are significant. I mean, what's the objective benefit of alcohol in our society? Quantify it. I'm not sure it could be done, but if it were I'd bet that the costs would far outweigh the benefits. But we allow alcohol. Why? Because people enjoy it. Or consider the costs versus benefits of swimming. What's the objective social benefit of swimming pools? Not much. But the cost is high; more children drown each year than are killed by guns. But we hear nothing about banning swimming pools, or even much about educating the public on the risks.


What I'm saying is that the numeric cost/benefit isn't what's important, it's the perceived cost/benefit. People in rural areas generally consider firearms to be a net benefit. People in urban areas generally consider them a net negative. And I provided some anecdotal examples of why that could be. I'm not going to spend weeks building a numeric cost/benefit analysis just to satisfy your fetish; do that on your own time.

You said you did a cost/benefit analysis. This implies some sort of weight for cost and benefit of each given scenario. If you didn't actually do one, don't say you did. I am not demanding one, just wondering how you drew your conclusions from one without having actually described how you derived it. And if you want me to respect your anecdotal examples while not giving weight to the statistics that you quote in the OP, surely you see the similarity between what you are proposing and what any given theist does on this site? The anecdotal examples you cite as a perceived cost/benefit analysis necessarily weight your views more than a critics. Ergo, your view on suicides leads you to omitting them while your views on recreational shooting are seen as important enough to factor in as a benefit. What if I disagree? What if I factor suicides in because of the success rate with firearms (~90%) vs other means (~10%) due to the impulsive nature of suicide by gun vs the ability to seek help or stop yourself by another method? What if I see no benefit in recreational shooting? What if I am okay with recreational shooting but don't see it as something on the chopping block of legislation and/or restriction?

I have never made the claim that there is an objective benefit to consuming alcohol in our society today (one could make the argument of sterility before we had the capabilities). Alcohol is also a natural product (animals have been observed drunk off of fermented grapes) and any consumption of alcohol that interferes in the public domain is not tolerated (not only drunk driving but public intoxication, meaning that while you can drink in public, there is a point at which your consumption in public will no longer be deemed legal).

Swimming pools? I'm not sure how you are taking the tangents you are, but by your reasoning thus far, anything we do for social enjoyment or personal recreation should not be subject to legal standards? Ergo, if I drive my car for enjoyment instead of transportation, then why should I not be allowed to do 100 mph on any given road where I can? I hope you realize that when something goes from private to public, it loses some of its freedom necessarily? Me driving my car or putting in a swimming pool and letting anyone swim in it means that I am no longer using it for personal recreation, but public use or use in public. I now have to respect other people's rights and boundaries. I agree to go the speed limit and if I open a public pool, I accept legal responsibility to install safety measures and hire lifeguards.

And a friend of mine recently posted a link to an article about drowning, it scared the shit out of me. My son (16 months) and I have already participated in a swim class to get him used to water. Public education about swimming is indeed easy to get. But if I jump into a pool and I am ill-prepared for it, no one else dies or is physically harmed if I die. If I misuse a firearm or am not properly prepared to use it, it has the capacity to affect someone else in a negative way.

If you are going to post something about gun control and don't actually want to have what you say challenged, post in on a pro-gun forum.

Evolve

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11-06-2013, 02:03 PM
RE: Gun Control
(11-06-2013 01:33 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  If you are going to post something about gun control and don't actually want to have what you say challenged, post in on a pro-gun forum.

Beard, that comment was completely emotional and irrational; it was beneath you.

His post is the beginning of a conversation that you seem unwilling to have.

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11-06-2013, 02:07 PM
Re: Gun Control
What? I didn't realize you could read my emotions in that. And I can assure you it was not an emotionally-charged one. As I can also assure Phaedrus I do not have a "fetish" for cost-benefit analysis, as is stated in the first response to me.

I didn't see anything as yet stated that seemed to be about conversation, I saw a lot of rhetorical questions and a comparison of guns with pools though.

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11-06-2013, 02:30 PM
RE: Gun Control
Using public defender response times as a basis for gun ownership is a losing battle because when you need a cop with gun there in seconds, they show up in minutes at the best. That's why soo many end up having to shoot someone in their house, because the cops didnt get to them 1st.
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11-06-2013, 02:38 PM
RE: Gun Control
Not sure why a new thread was started but OK.

Some ten years ago I was living in Oakland CA and one night on the way home from the bar a kid (probably older than 10 but less than 13) pointed a gun at me and took all my money, since I only take cash and keys with me when I go to the bar on foot he only got maybe $20. My abject fear prevented it from surfacing but I was somewhat amused by the thought that if the kid fired the thing it would almost certainly knock him over. The pistol was at least a .32 and the kid was that small and did not know how to handle it. I will say without equivocation that whoever owned that gun and allowed or did not prevent that small child from taking it should never be allowed to own any guns.

The problem is that there are so many guns in circulation in the US that preventing the unqualified or dangerous from owning guns, is if not impossible damn close.

Reasonable restrictions are a different story. Someone mentioned the AR-15, there are readily available parts that can convert the civilian model (at least the older ones, I think the newer ones cannot be) to full auto. Who needs a full auto gun for personal use and further since the AR-15 is designed strictly for killing it does to much damage to be a useful hunting rifle. Banning this and other potentially full auto weapons would be to my mind reasonable.

More thorough background checks on even rifle purchasers seems like a reasonable restriction. Regulation of sales at gun expos should also be considered.

The sad truth is that as mentioned above there are so many guns in circulation in the US that almost any restrictions are useless. That fact has turned me away from any hope of future gun controls having any but a minute effect.

If any care, I first started taking my fathers .22 target rifle (a beautiful vintage 1930 or so model 70) to the range about 50 years ago. Also in late July I will be at a remote location in northern Sonoma Co. and part of the fun will be walking out on the back flat and shooting .22 pistols at targets set up on a dead and fallen tree trunk.
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11-06-2013, 02:40 PM
RE: Gun Control
(11-06-2013 02:07 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  What? I didn't realize you could read my emotions in that. And I can assure you it was not an emotionally-charged one. As I can also assure Phaedrus I do not have a "fetish" for cost-benefit analysis, as is stated in the first response to me.

I didn't see anything as yet stated that seemed to be about conversation, I saw a lot of rhetorical questions and a comparison of guns with pools though.

You read it that way; I read it as a clearly presented position which invites disagreement, criticism, discussion, agreement, whatever.

I don't agree with all of his points or conclusions and I will respond.

Would you react to my putting forth an argument for banning or limiting SUVs (highway assault vehicles) by telling me to take to a car forum? Or if you posted pro SUV should you be told to take your dangerous opinion elsewhere?

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