Kid driving a kid's tank

Reasoning about Guns

I try to present facts and logic and solutions rather than just opinions.

Contact me If your facts and logic are convincing, I'll change my mind !

"There's no obvious answer, especially if you continually ignore the obvious answer."
-- Andy Zaltzman

I'm reasonably familiar with guns

  • I've fired a rifle only a couple of times.

  • I've used shotguns to shoot skeet and sporting clays.

  • I've taken two pistol-shooting classes, and done target-shooting.

Private ownership of all guns should be banned.

More and more, I come to this principle: "People shouldn't be allowed to own things that let them kill other people easily." People aren't trustworthy. They do stupid or criminal or mistaken things. Sure, we can't get rid of all dangerous things (knives, cars). And we need guns for war or law-enforcement or in case of societal collapse. But in general, people shouldn't be allowed to have guns (or bio-weapons, or explosives).

People don't need a gun to


People should be able to rent a gun for a short amount of time to

  • Learn to shoot.

  • Sport-shoot (target, skeet, sporting-clay, etc).

  • Hunt. (Or maybe only bow-hunting should be allowed.)

No need to take the rental gun off the premises for the first two, and no need to rent a handgun or high-capacity weapon for the third one.

Yes, for the first years of a complete ban, law-abiding people would lose their guns and criminals would still have them. But over time, most guns will be removed from the country, and most criminals will lose their guns. With fewer opportunities to buy or steal guns, this will happen.

Changes in gun law and resulting changes in crime

Is there an example of a modern country which has banned or greatly restricted guns and crime has gone UP ? Homicides have gone UP ? I don't think so, but I'm willing to be corrected.

It turns out there are a lot of variables here:
  • Banning guns versus greatly restricting guns.
  • Just a change in the law, or an actual reduction in numbers of guns (via buy-back).
  • Total number of guns, versus percent of households owning guns.
  • Affected all types of guns, or just a couple of types (assault weapons, handguns).
  • Measuring all crime, violent crime, or gun-crime. Homicides, suicides, mass murders.
  • How was crime or violence trending before and after the change in law ?
  • Was law changed in just one state or province of a country, with free movement across internal borders ?
  • Other factors: population growth, economy.

England had violent crime go up a bit for a time after banning handguns, but then it went down. But gun-crime has continued, probably because they banned only one class of guns. For example, mass killer in 2010 used shotgun and .22 rifle he owned legally. The situation is further complicated by laws being different in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland.
Wikipedia's "Gun politics in the United Kingdom - Impact of firearm legislation"'s "Gun Crime"

Australia had crime go up after a gun buyback, but it turns out the population increased significantly in that time, and the number of guns actually went up along with the population increase.
Andrew Leigh's "Tougher laws, gun buyback on target"

Zack Beauchamp's "A huge international study of gun control finds strong evidence that it actually works"
The Straight Dope's "Do gun buyback programs accomplish anything useful?"
Evan Defilippis' "Less Guns, Less Crime - Debunking the Self-Defense Myth"

From "The Simpsons":
Clerk: Sorry, the law requires a five-day waiting period. We've got to run a background check.

Homer: Five days ? But I'm mad now !

[the cashier pulls the gun away from him]

Homer: I'd kill you if I had my gun.

Clerk: Yeah, well, you don't.

If a total gun-ban is politically impossible, perhaps a ban on private ownership of all guns except shotguns would be possible ? Shotguns are good for home defense, but have limited range, limited fire-rate, and are hard to conceal. So if we have to leave some type of gun legal, the breech-load shotgun should be it.

The assault-weapons ban is a red herring, a cosmetic move that fixes little. A Glock pistol with a 15 or 17-round magazine is perfectly capable of being used for mass killing. Even a 6-shot revolver can be fired quickly and speed-reloaded.

Treat guns like we treat abortion

Idea: Electroshock weapons

Suppose we banned private ownership of firearms (guns), and allowed private ownership of Tasers instead ? Effective for home and personal defense, mostly non-lethal.

Diagram of Taser gun

We could allow all types of Electroshock weapons, which would include stun-batons and handheld stunners as well as projectile weapons.

[I've read that Tasers and generic stun-guns/stun-batons don't work the same way: a Taser gives an initial jolt of 50KV but then drops down to 1200V for the main shock; other weapons presumably just give a one-high-voltage shock. Supposedly Taser actually disrupts muscle control, while others just give pain.
Yahoo! Answers item]

Sure, electroshock is not perfect. There have been deaths from it, and cases of torture using it. There have been cases where well-prepared criminals plucked out the barbs and kept going. The target could fall down and hit his head and die. Apparently it's easy to make shock-proof clothing. But it seems to work very well most of the time, and it would be FAR better than firearms. Far fewer mass killings, far fewer deaths and injuries, less range, far less danger to bystanders, can't use it for suicide.

Of course, you wouldn't want to have just a Taser when facing a criminal with a gun. The idea is that we ban guns and get them out of our society. So maybe you'll have a Taser while facing a criminal with a Taser.

Of course, a Taser doesn't have the physical stopping power of a gun. But on the other hand, you might be more likely to actually pull the trigger on the Taser, since the consequences (of being either right or wrong) are so much less with a Taser than with discharging a gun. And danger to bystanders is less. And danger if the criminal takes away your weapon is less.

We should regulate electroshock weapons as we do firearms today. Register them and require training. Felons and children and the insane not allowed to have them. Using one against a person must be reported to police. Use in a crime increases the penalty for the crime.

Of course this wouldn't stop all crime or violence; we'll always have crime and violence. But would you rather a criminal or drunk or crazy person had a Taser or a gun ?

We could do a "swap": all law-abiding citizens who own a firearm can turn it in and get an electroshock weapon in exchange.

At the moment, banning handguns (even if you replace them with electroshock weapons) isn't constitutional. SCOTUS in Heller said that handguns are "arms" for the purposes of the Second Amendment. We'll have to work to get that changed; once public opinion has shifted enough, maybe SCOTUS will shift to follow.

Using an electroshock weapon should be a serious thing; it should have to be reported and investigated. Perhaps the weapons should have to make a loud noise, and puff a bit of marker-dye onto the hand, when fired.

Some say electroshock weapons could be used for torture. But that's also true of guns, knives, electricity, water, electric drills, lots of things.

A Taser is a one-shot weapon (only one projectile), but then you can press it against the target and apply more jolts of electricity. But they do make a multi-shot version: SlashGear article. I'm sure they could develop a higher-capacity version if there was demand; maybe they already have such a thing for police or military. I think contact electroshock weapons (such as batons) can be discharged multiple times.

One big drawback: Tasers are expensive, and reloading them is expensive. Some competition and higher volumes might fix this. Maybe someone could make cheap practice rounds (no wires). Taser M26C gun priced around $550; each cartridge costs about $30 to $40; there are other Taser models that cost a bit less or a lot more, and cartridge prices vary too. There seem to be no other suppliers of projectile e-guns or compatible cartridges; I guess Taser has all of the patents, and a monopoly.

Stun baton

Contact stun-guns are cheap: $15 to $35, but cheapest may not be very powerful, and I didn't see any that promise multiple stuns. Stun batons are priced around $30 to $60; also no promises on multiple stuns; most not sturdy enough to use as a club; on most, only tip gives shock.

A feature of contact e-weapons: you can "warning-fire" it, making a nasty-looking and nasty-sounding spark across the contacts. So you can use it to scare off an attacker without having to get close and shock them.

Stun gun

From Sandra Upson in IEEE Spectrum's "How a Taser Works" 12/2007:
The [Taser] guns also now release bits of identifying confetti with every shot, and the time and duration of each trigger pull is recorded in the gun's memory. According to Taser, its guns are now fired more than 620 times a day and have been used a total of more than 680,000 times worldwide.

Milestone Safety's "Stun Gun FAQ"
Wikipedia's "Taser"
DivaDefender's "Stun Guns vs Tasers"
IEEE Spectrum's "How a Taser Works"
The Straight Dope's "How dangerous are Tasers?"
Sarah Kershaw's "As Shocks Replace Police Bullets, Deaths Drop but Questions Arise"
Wake Forest studies on Taser injuries

The Constitution

A lot of people say "the Founders were perfect, the Constitution is perfect, the Constitution guarantees private ownership of guns, so that settles it".

The Founders also believed in slavery, and no voting for women or Indians, didn't know or care about environmental issues or abortion, didn't say anything about privacy, authorized land and naval forces but not an air force, didn't put freedoms of speech and religion into the Constitution (they're in the later Bill of Rights), etc. Certainly they didn't believe blacks or Indians had a right to possess guns ! And the Founders weren't unanimous about anything, and fought each other politically before, during and after the Revolution. They also screwed up at writing the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and had to scrap it and create a new constitution.
Michael Che

And lots of things have changed since those days; the Constitution is just one component of the laws of this country, there is a long history of reinterpretation and modification of it, and even the Founders called their work the start of an "experiment".

Article VI, clause 2 in the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, explicitly says that three things - the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties - together "shall be the supreme law of the land".

Comment by someone on a article:
It doesn't matter what the Constitution's exact text says because we interpret it through thousands of court cases. People don't seem to understand that everything from the banning of assault weapons to the rights of states in border disputes has been determined by the Supreme Court and lower courts, not by the exact text of the Constitution.

As a historian, it irks me that people hold up the Constitution and shout: "It says right here!" about something. When someone does that, they are immediately discredited in my mind as an ignorant waste of time and oxygen.

And a strict literal reading of the Constitution leads to unreasonable logic: "bear arms" would mean no limits at all. Machine guns, RPG's, dynamite, anthrax, mustard gas, car-bombs, cannon, nukes all are "arms". Are they all to be legal ? Why not ? And it doesn't say that "the People" can be taken to exclude criminals, the insane, and children. Strict literalism is wrong.

I'm not persuaded that the Constitution guarantees private ownership of guns. SCOTUS disagrees with me: SCOTUS in Heller said that handguns are "arms" for the purposes of the Second Amendment. We'll have to work to get that changed; once public opinion has shifted enough, maybe SCOTUS will shift to follow.

Garrett Epps' "Constitutional Myth #6"
Robert Parry's "The Real Rationale for the 2nd Amendment, That Right-Wingers Are Totally Ignorant About"

From NPR interview of Mike Seidman 3 Jan 2013:
> Why do you think the Constitution's become - or
> large parts of it - irrelevant ?

Well, I think the basic point is this. This is our country. We live here. We have a right to have the kind of country we want. We wouldn't want France or Great Britain or, for that matter, the United Nations telling us what kind of country to have. And we shouldn't let a small group of people - who lived over 250 years ago and who knew nothing about our current situation, and who didn't even represent a majority of the Americans then, tell us what kind of country we have. That's a decision for us. We have a right to make it for ourselves.

... There are many things that we ought to hold on to in the Constitution. There are important things. But we ought to hold on to them because we think they're right, not because somebody who's been dead for 250 years ago thought they were right.


[Amending is too difficult, and we should ignore specified procedure for amending.] It just doesn't make any sense, I don't think, to have a document that is as important as the Constitution, as entrenched as it is, given the fact that the world changes. The people who wrote the Constitution lived in a small rural country, huddled along the Eastern Seaboard, a large part of which was financed by slave labor. They believed - many of them believed that it was OK to own other human beings. Almost all of them believed that women should have no role in public affairs. Almost all of them believed people without property should have no role in public affairs. Why on earth would anybody think that their decisions ought to bind us now?


> The Constitution, you say, has saddled us
> with a dysfunctional political system and kept us
> from debating the merits of divisive issues. How so?

[Take the health care debate.] So where I work, here's the way an argument about health care goes: A says, gee whiz, the president's health care proposal's terrific. B says, but it's unconstitutional. A says, no, it's not. The framers would've liked this. A says, are you kidding? Look at what James Madison said. And before you know it, we're off and running on a completely irrelevant conversation about what people thought 250 years ago, instead of about what we should be talking about, which is the merits of health care. Now, don't get me wrong. This is what I do for a living [law professor]. So I enjoy doing it. And I, maybe boastfully, I think I'm pretty good at it. But I don't think it's a particularly good way of talking about whether, for example, Obamacare is good for the nation or not.

To make matters worse, Constitutional discourse tends to raise the temperature of the argument, so that instead of my saying, you know what, you and I just disagree about what the economic effect of Obamacare is going to be, somebody says, you're disobeying our basic commitments which make us Americans. And that kind of debate is just not helpful. We need to engage with each other instead of calling each other names.


[From a caller:]
> We should make sure we keep the preamble,
> because that really tells why the Constitution
> was written in the first place and what it's
> purpose really is.

I do agree completely. So the Constitution is supposed to be a unifying document. And one thing I think we can all agree on, are the great goals that are stated in the preamble. And one of the things about preserving and respecting the preamble is that it gives us a vocabulary where we can talk about how we ought to fill in the blanks. Those are goals that all Americans can and should share, to provide for a more perfect union, if you will. And the Constitution serves its best function when it provides us with a framework for debate and doesn't try to dictate to us outcomes that we may or may not approve of.

My opinion:
I think we can ban guns without having to amend the Constitution. When public opinion demands something strongly enough, the govt finds a way to do it, regardless of what the Constitution says.

For example, after 9/11, public said "do WHATEVER it takes to kill terrorists". Govt said "we're going to spy and search without warrants, imprison without trial, torture people, assassinate people (even Americans)". Those things all are un-Constitutional. So what happened ? They whipped up legal opinions they liked, created the "enemy combatant" category, declared permanent state of war, C-in-C can do anything he wants in time of war, keep prisoners outside USA, render prisoners to other countries for torture, use drone-strikes, etc. Congress and courts and public went along. They got it done despite the Constitution.

If public demanded a gun-ban strongly enough, govt could get it done. Without amending the Constitution. SCOTUS would rediscover those words "a well regulated militia" and hang a decision on them.

And see court decisions such as those in Mark Joseph Stern's "Appeals Court: No Second Amendment Right to Carry Concealed Firearms Outside the Home"

Warren Burger on Second Amendment

From Bernard Schwartz's "The American Heritage History of the Law in America" (1974):
... By the end of the Revolutionary period, the American legal system had evolved its principal legal institutions. Laws were enacted by elected legislatures, administered by elected Executives, and enforced by an elaborate system of courts. The legal framework was established by written constitutions, and the means of making or amending them had been settled. To be sure, many of these institutions (especially the Executive) were rudimentary compared to their present-day counterparts. But the striking thing is the extent to which they had already developed by the time the nation began its independent existence. The far-reaching changes that have occurred in American law during the last two centuries have been not so much changes in the institutions that make and enforce laws as in the issues with which they have been concerned and the substantive law (that part of the law which defines one's legal rights and obligations, as contrasted with procedural law, which defines the procedure followed in cases) that has developed to deal with those issues.

The history of American substantive law has seen an almost complete transformation in principles, rules, and doctrines. The very subjects of the law today are radically different from the curriculum prevailing at the founding of the Republic. Consider the subjects studied by those seeking to enter the legal profession in 1787. ... feudal property, evidence, bills, maritime law, equity, pleas of the Crown (criminal law), wills, uses, tenures, law merchant, civil and Chancery practice. ...

... Most of the important modern law school subjects had not even begun to develop at the time of independence. This was true even of the staples of present-day legal education: torts (civil wrongs), constitutional law, administrative law, international law, trusts, corporations, labor law, trade regulation, taxation, and conflict of laws.


... Americans too often forget that the rule of law draws only limited strength from judicial guaranties; it must have roots far deeper than a formal fundamental document and decisions of the judges enforcing it. Our public law depends for its efficacy on popular acceptance of its basic presuppositions. Acceptance, rather than formal legal machinery, is the decisive force in the law's implementation. ...


The period before the Civil War appears today as the Golden Age of American Law. Those were the years that followed the classical era of constitution making, when the basic political and legal institutions of the nation had been fixed. Now the details of the marriage between English common law and the people and conditions of the new country had to be worked out. It was a period of remarkable legal development ...

... the job was done by receiving the [English] common law and reshaping it into a law for America. The basic starting points were retained from English history; but new principles were constantly adopted from American life, molding and reshaping the common law. ...

... For the better part of a century, the growing point of American law was case law (law made by decisions of judges, rather than by legislative acts) ...

... the job of the American courts was a creative one, far more than the mechanical reception of common law principles. American judges recast the common law into an American mold. In doing so, they performed a legislative role in its broadest sense. Rarely articulated considerations were the secret root from which the law drew its life. These were, of course, considerations of what was advantageous for the community. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent philosophical and political theories, intuitions of what best served the public interest, even the prejudices that the judges shared with their fellow men - all had at least as much to do with the American version of the common law as the analytical jurisprudence the judges professed to be applying. The principles and rules developed were the result of the judges' view of public policy ...

Imagined Constitution

Who knows more about Constitution ?

The USA should stop exporting weapons, too. They just spread death around the world, and often come back to hurt the national interest of the USA (for example, the USA armed the Afghans, who became the Taliban and Al Qaeda). I know the French and others would take up the arms-exporting slack, but then we could start pressuring them to stop exporting too (at least to individuals), and we'd have some credibility in the argument.

Some people seem to feel so threatened by the outside world that they have to have dogs and alarm systems and guns, and they still feel under siege in their own home. Maybe I'd feel that way if I'd been raped or my spouse had been murdered, or if I lived in a place dominated by gangs. But I think it's more effective to take guns away from citizens and criminals, and make the police work better. I fear all the wacko, aggressive, drunk or just confused citizens out there with major firepower at their fingertips. Mistakes, suicides, accidents, child-access, theft are much more prevalent and likely than successful defense with gun. [But someone told me New Hampshire, I think, has unrestricted concealed-carrying, and there aren't bloodbaths there. I'll have to research that. (Turns out he's wrong; like many other states, in NH open-carry is unrestricted but concealed-carry requires a permit.)]

Conflict and crime will always be with us. But it would be better if fights involved fists or knives instead of guns or bombs. Less chance of death, to those fighting and to bystanders.

From Nicholas Kristof's "Smart Guns Save Lives. So Where Are They?":
About 20 children and teenagers are shot daily in the United States, according to a study by the journal Pediatrics.

Indeed, more preschool-age children (about 80 a year) are killed by guns each year than police officers are killed by guns (about 50), according to the F.B.I. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other countries

Other countries seem to get by without a gun in every house; why can't we ? Australia, England, Japan, etc.

USA is quite different from other countries in this area:
Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz's "Compare These Gun Death Rates: The U.S. Is in a Different World"
Walter Hickey's "This Chart Proves There Is Something Profoundly Wrong With How The US Handles Guns"
Ryu Spaeth's "The Connecticut school massacre: How the world sees us"
Data in NY Times's "On Guns, America Stands Out"
NationMaster compare stats of any two countries

Here's something interesting: UK has very high rates of "violent crime", higher than USA: James Slack's "The most violent country in Europe: Britain is also worse than South Africa and U.S.".

But UK has 1/4 the rate of "intentional homicide" (by any means) of USA: Wikipedia's "List of countries by intentional homicide rate".

I wonder if the difference is: gun ownership ?

ArmedWithReason's "Debunking the 'Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People' Myth"

Canada has much stricter gun laws than USA, widespread gun ownership, and few massacres: CTVNews article

Gun homicides and gun ownership listed by country
UK homicide and crime rates over last century
Wikipedia's "Gun politics"

Something I said:
USA has a much higher homicide rate than all other major Western countries; in the list, the nearest country is Canada, which has homicide rate 1/3 of USA's rate. Most other major countries have rates 1/4 to 1/6th of USA's rate.
Wikipedia's "List of countries by intentional homicide rate"

I don't see any reason to think we have 4x to 6x the rate of videogame-playing in USA, or 4x to 6x the rate of mental illness, or 4x to 6x the rate of violent movies or something. What we DO have is 3x to 6x the gun ownership rate of other major countries: Wikipedia's "Number of guns per capita by country".

In reaction to a US citizen saying "you foreigners should shut up about guns; you have no right to participate in the USA gun debate":
USA has a much higher homicide rate than all other major Western countries; most other major countries have rates 1/4 to 1/6th of USA's rate.

So, on the gun issue, USA is the stupid kid on the block. We need to learn from anyone we can; we need suggestions from any place we can get them. We need to hear from people in other countries who are doing things better than we are.

You can always find some other country with a higher homicide rate than USA; some gun-guys say "Russia has a higher homicide rate than USA". Okay, is that something for us to be proud of ? USA rate is quite a bit worse than those of Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, etc. But we can name one or two big countries who are worse, so that makes it okay ?

John Cassidy's "Blame the Gun Laws, Not Judd Apatow"
The Onion's "'No Way To Prevent This', Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens"

Spell it with body-bags: Thoughts And Prayers spelled with body-bags

Summarized from Aparna Zalani and Brian New's "Most mass shooters share these four defining moments":
... identified four defining moments most perpetrators experience on the way to a mass shooting:

Is there such a thing as "gun addiction" ?
Steven Kotler's "Addicted To Bang: The Neuroscience of the Gun"
BruinKid's "Bill Maher goes after Open Carry 'ammosexuals'"

Regulation and insurance

From a blog post: "we have loads of regulation for cars, objects that are not designed to kill. Just common sense would dictate, that objects that are designed to easily kill anyone with the flick of a finger should be regulated a lot more than cars. E.g. license, tests, registration, mandatory insurance."

From comment by Chad Brick on a Slate article:
Here is my solution for gun control: force owners to insure their guns, and require the insurance be in hand before the gun is transferred to their ownership. Said insurance must include unlimited liability for any violence committed with the gun, and extend five years into the future if the gun is "stolen".
My response:
Excellent idea, Chad ! Just as we require training and licensing and insurance to drive a car, require it for gun ownership.

I wonder: what is the situation with homeowner's insurance today ? Do any companies ask you "will there be a gun on the property ?" when you apply for insurance for your house ?

Jacob Weisberg's "Beating Guns the Bloomberg Way"
If guns were as regulated as cars
Guns and cars
Gun vs Abortion
If gun transactions were like abortion
The Simpsons on regulation
Requiring ID

Cars compared to guns

Why guns should stay legal

  • Constitution guarantees right to bear arms

    We have modified or overridden the Constitution in many ways, explicitly or silently, over the years. The Constitution was a compromise, a creation of its day and environment, and is not sacred perfect doctrine.

    We already have many limits on the Constitutional right to bear arms: you're not allowed to possess grenades, fully automatic weapons, anthrax, car-bombs, etc.

    Brett Arends' "What America's gun fanatics won't tell you"
    ArmedWithReason's "Constitutional Fallacies Part 1: Insurrectionists"
    Jeff on ProgressivePress's "Myth: 'The Second Amendment is to Overthrow the Government.'"
    Reagan and Scalia on assault weapons ban
    Guns and liberty

    Assault weapons are a right but healthcare is not

    From ArmedWithReason's "Constitutional Fallacies Part 1: Insurrectionists":
    ... examine the "being necessary for the security of a free State" portion. Notice that the text does not read "being necessary to overthrow the State" or "being necessary in case some dude feels the State has become tyrannical". The purpose of a Militia and the reason "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" is to protect the state.


    There is no language in the Constitution advocating armed insurrection. In fact, the Constitution lays out the polar opposite case. The Militia is supposed to suppress insurrections against the state, not start them. Also obvious is that the term "Militia" does not refer to an unorganized mob but rather a trained force ready to repulse any military threat to the State. During this time period the US did not have a standing military, meaning the militia was the first, last, and only line of defense against armed threats. Just as the military and National Guard (the modern version of the Militia) are the guarantors of State security today, so too was the Militia during the early days of the Republic.

  • If we lose our guns, we won't be able to defend against government oppression

    All of our guns did NOTHING to stop the govt from taking away some key parts of our most important Constitutional rights after 9/11. Did NOTHING to stop the govt or corporations from taking away a lot of our privacy in last decade or more. Did NOTHING to stop the rich from stealing a lot of our money in the 2007/2008 crash, or in the 30-year slide into the current wealth/income inequality. Somehow those guns just don't protect us as claimed.

    And if you think somehow "the people" would rise up in a unified body, joined by the police and military, all with the same motivations and goals, think again. Some people would take the opportunity to rape and steal and murder and burn, some would try to wipe out things they hate (mosques, synagogues, racially different areas, banks and big corporations, etc), some people would just blast away at any perceived threat. Police and military would start by trying to protect the status quo, then go home (with weapons) to defend their families. We have recent examples of Egypt, Syria, other places to show what can happen when you have a revolution. USA probably is most heavily-armed country in the world (civilian, police, and military). An armed revolution in USA would be a CATASTROPHE. Not to mention the global economic crash that would follow.

    Devin Hughes' "Militia Myths: Why Armed Populations Don't Prevent Tyranny, But Often Lead To It"
    Shoot "The Government"

    Scoreboard of tyrants overthrown

  • If we lose our guns, we'll lose our other rights too

    Many other major democratic countries seem to live just fine without widespread ownership of guns. They don't seem to have lost all of their other rights too. Japan, England for example.
    Max Fisher's "A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths"
    Harry Low's "How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime"
    William Claiborne's "Want to avoid gun massacres? Australia shows how"
    Will Oremus's "After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn't Had a Similar Massacre Since."

    I don't see how private guns would protect us if the government (including military, FBI, police) turned against us.
    The Onions's "62-Year-Old With Gun Only One Standing Between Nation And Full-Scale Government Takeover"

  • It would be hard to ban and confiscate guns, so let's not do it

    We've done many other things that once seemed politically impossible and logistically hard and expensive: ended slavery, gained women's suffrage, ended segregation, gay rights, seat-belt laws, airport security screening, etc.

    Maybe getting most guns out of private hands in USA would take decades or a century. If it's the right thing to do, we should do it.

    I don't know if banning private ownership of guns will ever get enacted. Maybe as we have more and more massacres, the tide of public opinion will slowly turn. Suppose we get to the place where every town has had a massacre in the last 20 years or so. Would that be enough to change public opinion ?

    Allison Brennan's "Analysis: Fewer U.S. gun owners own more guns"
    Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff's "Share of Homes With Guns Shows 4-Decade Decline"
    Violence Policy Center's "A Shrinking Minority" (PDF)
    Aditya Tejas' "American Gun Ownership Falls To Record Low: Survey"
    Steven Yoder's "Analysis: More guns, but fewer gun owners?"
    Adam Winkler's "The NRA will fall. It's inevitable. Just look at the demographics."
    Rebecca Onion's "What Gun Control Advocates Can Learn From Abolitionists"

    From Lois Beckett's "Gun inequality: US study charts rise of hardcore super owners":
    "... just 3% of American adults own half of guns in the US".

    Would it be more palatable and possible to ban all guns except shotguns ? They're good for home defense, but have limited range, limited fire-rate, and are hard to conceal. So if we have to leave some type of gun legal, the breech-load shotgun should be it.

    John Oliver on gun regulations

  • If we ban guns, only criminals will have guns

    Many other major democratic countries seem to live just fine without widespread ownership of guns. They haven't been buried under a wave of gun-carrying criminals. In fact, those that have restricted or banned guns have seen decreases in gun-violence.

    Many criminals get their guns by stealing them from legal owners. Possession of weapons by the "good guys" leads to them being used by bad people. We have at least 270 million guns in private hands in this country. Somewhere around 500,000 are stolen each year (2012 DOJ study says 230,000/year from 2005-2010, but only about forty percent of property crimes are reported to police, and number of guns in USA has been increasing every year). If we stop manufacture and sales and get guns out of private hands, the pool of guns held by criminals will start to dry up as police arrest them and destroy their guns. It may take decades, and major criminals will always be able to go to a lot of effort and expense to get a gun. But a ban will stop almost all of the accidents and suicides and mistaken shootings by today's legal owners, and almost all of the casual access to guns by the crazy, near-crazy, drunks, druggies, anger cases, road-ragers, and loser teenagers.

    Your guns today are not protecting you against criminals. Your gun is FAR more likely to collect dust forever on your shelf, or be used in a suicide, accident, or mistaken shooting, than to be used to defend yourself from a criminal.

    From John Timmer's "Guns at home more likely to be used stupidly than in self-defense":
    "using a gun in self-defense is extremely rare ... studies place defensive gun use at about one percent in home invasions and 0.1 percent in sexual assaults."

    From Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes's "Guns Kill Children":
    "... As one study found, for every time a gun is used legally in self-defense at home, there are 'four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides'. A study of adolescents in California found that there were 13 times as many threatening as self-defensive uses of guns. Of the defensive encounters, many arose in confrontations that became hostile because of the presence of a firearm."

    Evan DeFilippis' ArmedWithReason article

  • Violence has been going DOWN, so there's no problem, no need to ban guns

    But USA has 4x the homicide rate that UK has; 5x the rate that Australia has; 6x the rate that Germany has; 12x the rate that Japan has. Wikipedia's "List of countries by intentional homicide rate" Maybe USA is doing something wrong. Maybe USA can learn from other countries. Maybe banning or greatly restricting guns would make USA a safer and better place to live.

    Just because "violence is lower than it has ever been" doesn't mean we're doing everything right, or that we can't do better. Heck, if violence is lower, shouldn't that mean we need fewer guns now ?

  • Banning alcohol or drugs didn't work, so banning guns wouldn't work

    There's some difference between a consumable thing and a durable thing. Hard to make a gun disappear by swallowing or snorting or flushing it, so the cops don't catch you with it.

    The bans on explosives and hand-grenades seem to work.

    Other countries have banned or greatly restricted guns, and it's worked there.

    If most law-abiding people are against something, banning it generally works. Doesn't get rid of it entirely, but removes the huge pool of legal use of it, and money supporting it.

    I think bans fail if they run counter to basic biology. Sex, drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, caffeine), violence are hard to ban or control because they strike such basic chords in our biology, right into our pleasure and stimulation centers. The best we can do is try to regulate and channel them. So we ban some kinds of sex, some drugs, some levels of violence, but allow others.

    Adam Gopnik's "The Simple Truth About Gun Control"
    Banning things never works
    Outlawing guns won't work

  • Logically, if we ban guns, we also should ban knives, cars, anything that can do damage

    It's impossible to be completely consistent. But the main principles might be: "Is something being used to cause major harm to society ?" and "Does something have no purpose other than to kill people ?".

    Yes, crazy people or drunks or criminals will always find ways to hurt people. But maybe banning guns would get rid of 95% of the damage these people can do. Other countries have restricted guns but not knives or cars, and gotten very positive results.

    Today, bazookas and grenades and bombs and anthrax are (mostly) banned in USA, without having to ban all guns, and cars and knives. So drawing a line somewhere in the middle is possible. Our high homicide rate suggests the line needs to be drawn a little lower.

    I wonder how stats for cars compare to those for guns, when the amount of use is considered. We drive our cars for an hour each day, for millions of passenger miles per day, and have 100 or 200 deaths per day on our roads. How does that compare to say, wrongful deaths per use of guns by private owners (including suicides and accidents) ?

    3/2013: Story says home swimming pool is 100x more dangerous than a gun in the home. Yes, but your pool is not likely to be taken to my house and used to kill me, or be stolen and used in a crime.

    From ArmedWithReason's "Debunking the 'Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People' Myth":
    ... Guns may not kill people, but people with guns do, and they do so more often and more efficiently than people without guns. People do not behave in a vacuum. They are influenced by their environment, and when that environment is occupied by guns, people behave aggressively and impulsively. ...


    ... the purpose of a firearm is to kill - to kill at a distance, to kill with speed, to kill with maximum lethality. This is a weapon that has been optimized to extinguish life with the minimum amount of effort possible. And, for whatever reason, America has embraced a social norm that explicitly legitimizes these deaths by providing an unending laundry list of excuses whenever one happens: it was the irresponsible parents, the inadequate firearm training, the bad public policy, and so on. But it's never the gun. And yet, somehow, the U.S. is responsible for 80% of all firearm deaths, 86% of all female firearm deaths, and 87% of all child firearm deaths in the developed world. It's just a coincidence that we have the highest per capita gun ownership rate in the world. ...

    From someone on reddit:
    > after the tragedy in Nice, "Nobody is calling
    > to ban trucks now, so why guns?"

    This is such an easy argument to counter:

    1) Trucks kill people, and guns kill people. However the argument in favor of gun control is not "anything that can kill people should be banned"; it's "anything that causes more harm than benefits should be regulated". Trucks provide immeasurable direct benefits to our economy and way of life every second of every day. We also undertake tremendous effort to ensure they hurt as few people as possible while they are used. Guns are DESIGNED to hurt people. They do not do anything else. The "benefits" to society of individuals being able to hurt and kill others are extremely limited.

    2) Trucks are extremely regulated by hundreds if not thousands of laws and restrictions on their design, manufacture, distribution, sale, and operation. Every truck on a public road is registered with the government, and every driver of a truck has to be tested by the government before they are given the privilege of operating one. Government representatives can stop any truck at any time and demand to see the driver's licence and the trucks registration, they can inspect the truck if they believe it might at risk of hurting anyone, and ultimately they can seize/impound it if anything is out of order.

    If even a fraction of those regulations were in place for guns, gun control advocates would be delighted.

    Snopes' "Batting Around" (homicides by weapon type)
    Brian Palmer's "Baseball Bats and Hammers Do Not Kill More People Than Guns"
    Evan DeFilippis' "The Drunk Driving Fallacy: Why Gun Regulation is like Drunk Driving Laws"
    rickrocket's "'Let's Ban Cars', and other stupid memes"
    ArmedWithReason's "Debunking the 'Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People' Myth"
    Car as bad as a gun
    Tom Tomorrow's "Gun Talk"
    The Onion's "Wayne LaPierre Goes On Harpooning Spree To Prove Some Sort Of Point"

  • Guns don't cause violence

    Guns are not the "cause" of violence. They're an enabler of it, an amplifier of it. They enable small conflicts to turn deadly, quickly. They enable a crazy or angry or criminal person to kill lots of people in a hurry.

    All countries have always tried to stop violence, crime, crazy people, angry people, etc. No country has ever succeeded. We should keep trying. But thinking we can stop violence, and thus have the country flooded with guns with no bad effects, is unrealistic.

    Some people say Japan's low homicide rate is due to their law-abiding attitudes, not their extremely tight gun-control, but:
    From Havard Bergo's "The secret of Japan's mysteriously low crime rate":
    Unlike the rare violent crimes, sexual assaults are said to be widespread and severely underreported. The existence of chikan ("perverts", meaning men groping women in public) is a massive problem and has led to the creation of "women-only" carriages in most major cities. Japanese police are also criticized for failing to take victims of sexual crimes seriously time and again as a result of either chauvinist bias or an inability to investigate such crimes.

    What are most disturbing are however arguments that the low crime is partially a result of a police culture that are obsessed with keeping crime statistics low. Former detectives claim that police is unwilling to investigate homicides unless there is a clear suspects and frequently labels unnatural deaths as suicides without performing autopsies. Coincidentally, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

  • We should ban crazy people and criminals, instead of banning guns

    We've been trying to stop violence and criminality for millennia, in all countries; hasn't worked.

    We always will have nut-cases or near-crazy on the streets, curious children, suicidal people, aggressive drunks or druggies, road rage, the anger-management cases. Why should we have society flooded with guns so these people can do maximum damage ?

    Never can tell who's borderline and might snap under some circumstances. Look at road rage, fights after the bars close, domestic arguments. Are we going to put millions of people into asylums ? Are we going to have annual government-run sanity-checks of everyone ?

    From Wikipedia's "Prevalence of mental disorders - US mental health studies":
    "In the prior 12-month period only, around a quarter (26.2%) [of Americans] met criteria for any disorder - anxiety disorders 18.1%; mood disorders 9.5%; impulse control disorders 8.9%; and substance use disorders 3.8%."

    From Mind's "How common are mental health problems?":
    "Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year."

    From Karine Chevreul et al's "The cost of mental disorders in France":
    "In France with a population of 65 million, an estimated 12 million inhabitants currently suffer from one or more mental disorders."

    From Aparna Zalani and Brian New's "Most mass shooters share these four defining moments":
    ... only 8% of all mass shooters were diagnosed with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder.


    ... a larger percentage of mass shooters, 25%, suffered from less severe mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety. This closely mirrors the rate in the general population. ...

    Violence and criminality and mental illness are facts of biology. Organisms and species compete violently for resources (food, mates, territory, etc). Some organisms are partly defective, and go out of control. We could never control all of those things in detail in society.

    There probably are equal percentages of crazy people in other countries, too. Yet those countries, since they severely restrict guns, don't have these horrible massacres. Some of them HAD massacres, until they restricted guns.

    I just don't see a way to keep crazy people from getting access to guns, in a country with 300 million people and 270 million guns. How do you monitor and control every crazy or potentially crazy person ? Look at the 12/2012 Connecticut shooting: as far as I can tell, nothing illegal happened in that house. His Mom owned the guns legally. He wasn't a minor. He had access to her weapons. He had no criminal record, no lockups for craziness. Nothing illegal.

    And I'm not sure I see the way to MAKE that situation illegal. I'm sure his Mom never dreamed he would do such a thing. Are we going to say you have to give up your guns because sometimes you have anger-management problems ? Because sometimes you get drunk and want to fight ? Because sometimes you have road-rage ? Sometimes you have depression or anxiety ?

    What if you yell at the neighbor because his dog barked all night, and he calls the cops and reports you as having an anger problem and guns ? Should you lose your guns ? Do you want the govt deciding how "stable" you are ? The laws apply to you, too, not just unspecified other "crazy people".

    Take the 12/2012 Newtown CT shooter, who apparently had a form of Asperger's. Apparently 2-3 people per thousand in USA are diagnosed with Asperger's, which is not associated with violence anyway. That's what, up to 900,000 people ? Are we going to try to confine or control all of them ? And that's just one fairly rare type of mental disorder.
    AP: "Experts: No link between Asperger's, violence"

    If mental illness is to blame, how do you explain a chart such as this: Homicide Rates USA, 1900 - 1998.

    Are you in favor of the govt evaluating the mental state of each gun owner, maybe every 3 months or so ? Mental states and other circumstances (job, marriage, housing, alcohol or drug use, etc) change, so you can't just evaluate once.

    Kiran Alvi's "US: 'Most mass shootings not committed by mentally ill'"
    Maggie Fox's "Mass murderers often not mentally ill, but seeking revenge, experts say"
    Azadeh Aalai's "Mass Shooters Aren't Inherently Mentally Ill"
    Arthur Chu's "It's not about mental illness: The big lie that always follows mass shootings by white males"
    Laura L. Hayes's "Mentally ill people aren't killers. Angry people are."
    Michael S. Rosenwald's "Most mass shooters aren't mentally ill. So why push better treatment as the answer?"
    Bet You Didn't Know NRA Leader's Son Fired at Another Motorist During a Road Rage Incident
    Dan Friedman's "New York National Rifle Association official barred from carrying a gun"
    NYTimes "Violent, Drunk and Holding a Gun"
    Jacob Sullum's "Psychiatrists Explain Why Disarming the 'Mentally Ill' Won't Prevent Mass Murders"
    Richard A. Friedman's "Why Can't Doctors Identify Killers?"
    Kleinfield, Buettner, Chen and Stewart's "Mass Murderers Fit Profile, as Do Many Others Who Don't Kill"
    German Lopez's "Everyone blames mental illness for mass shootings. But what if that's wrong?"
    Sarah Boseley's "High gun ownership makes countries less safe, US study finds" (found no correlation with mental illness)
    Michael Corcoran's "Mental Health Checks When Purchasing a Gun"

  • The problem is gangs, not guns

    From Evan DeFilippis' "Do We Have a Gang Problem or a Gun Problem?":
    +/- So, do we have a gang problem or a gun problem? Data collected by the National Gang Center, the government agency responsible for cataloging gang violence, makes clear that it's the latter. There were 1,824 gang-related killings in 2011. This total includes deaths by means other than a gun. The Bureau of Justice Statistics finds this number to be even lower, identifying a little more than 1,000 gang-related homicides in 2008. In comparison, there were 11,101 homicides and 19,766 suicides committed with firearms in 2011.

    According to the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the number of gangs and gang members has been on the rise for some time now, increasing by more than one-third in the past decade. Between 2010 and 2011, for example, there was a 3 percent increase in the number of gangs, but an 8 percent decrease in gang-related homicides. If gang violence was truly driving the gun homicide rate, we should not see gang membership and gun homicide rates moving in opposite directions.

    The most recent Centers for Disease Control study on this subject lends further credence to our claim. It examined five cities that met the criterion for having a high prevalence of gang homicides: Los Angeles, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Long Beach, California; Oakland, California; and Newark, New Jersey. In these cities, a total of 856 gang and 2,077 non-gang homicides were identified and included in the analyses. So, even when examining cities with the largest gang problems, gang homicides only accounted for 29 percent of the total for the period under consideration (2003-2008). For the nation as a whole it would be much smaller.

    ... more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related. While gang violence is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is disingenuous to assert that the vast majority of our gun problem (even excluding suicides) is caused by gangs.

  • City X has strict gun laws, and it didn't prevent massacres or crime there

    We have no controls on borders inside our country, borders between one state and another, or between one city and another. So strict gun-laws in Chicago or Connecticut don't matter when you can buy a gun in Indiana or Virginia or wherever and bring it home. We need a nationwide solution.

    From Max Ehrenfreund's "What Donald Trump gets wrong about gun violence":
    It is true that Chicago has more homicides than any other city in the United States, although that is partly a result of Chicago's size. Relative to its population, Baltimore had about three times as many killings as Chicago had last year.

    Compared with other major cities, Chicago's laws on guns are not especially restrictive. While Chicago had some strict ordinances in the past, many are no longer in force - notably the ban on handguns, which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2010. Residents are allowed to carry concealed firearms, and while assault weapons are banned, they are also illegal in New York and Los Angeles, which have much lower homicide rates.

    Trump, however, did not mention a third factor that law enforcement officials and crime experts say is important in explaining Chicago's violence. Police department data suggest that there may be substantially more guns in Chicago than in other cities. The presence of these weapons could make ordinary disputes more violent and more lethal.

    Former Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy, who left the department last year, was a forceful advocate for stricter rules on guns. He oversaw a report detailing how guns used to commit crimes in Chicago come from all over the South and the Midwest. Many were initially purchased in states that do not require buyers to obtain a license from police, as Illinois does.

    More than 1,200 weapons came from Mississippi, the report found. Some came from as far away as Texas and Florida. According to the report, dealers in other states and elsewhere in Illinois are part of the reason that police in Chicago are seizing guns at such a rapid pace: nearly three firearms per 1,000 residents annually. That is more than six times the rate at which police in New York recover guns, suggesting that far more of Chicago's residents are illegally armed.

    Criminal gangs in the city are responsible for importing many of these guns, said Philip Cook, an economist at Duke University who has studied guns in Chicago extensively. Forty-four percent of guns that police seize from members of gangs are from outside the state, according to Cook's most recent calculations.


    The available research suggests that the city is violent not because it has gun laws, but because it has guns, and lots of them.

    NYTimes: "Where 50,000 Guns Recovered in Chicago Came From"
    Max Ehrenfreund's "What Donald Trump gets wrong about gun violence"

  • Violent videogames are to blame, not guns

    Other countries play videogames just as much, sometimes more, than the USA does, and they don't have the huge gun-violence USA has.
    Max Fisher's "Ten-country comparison suggests there's little or no link between video games and gun murders"

    Same thing with mental illness; I doubt USA has much higher incidence of mental illness, or is far worse at diagnosing potentially violent mentally ill people, than other countries. Yet USA has far higher gun-violence than other comparable countries.

    Past generations have claimed that comic books led to violence or depravity (article). Some claim the same for watching TV, or cartoons.

    "The best data shows about half of kids, and 70 percent of boys, have played some of the most violent games, like Grand Theft Auto and Halo." and "... investigated the habits of 41 school shooters. Only five, including the Columbine shooters, were deeply interested in violent games."
    from Dana Goldstein's "The Case for Violent Video Games".

    Laughing about blame for mass shootings

  • Giving up our guns before criminals give up their guns is crazy. You give up your gun first !

    I've never owned a gun. I can think of only one person among my close relatives who owns a gun, a shotgun for killing deer which cripple themselves on the fence around their farm. So I did indeed "give up my weapons" first; never had any. Somehow none of us has been besieged and raped and murdered by criminals every week.

    Giving up many guns in Australia resulted in decreases in homicides and suicides and robbery by firearm, and no increase in home invasions: Will Oremus's "After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn't Had a Similar Massacre Since." and Helen Clark's "Could the US learn from Australia's gun-control laws?"

    I think if there was not a pool of 270 million guns in this country, sick minds would find it VERY hard to get a gun. Sure, a hard-core gangster will always work hard and pay top dollar and get a weapon. But some 20-year-old semi-recluse loser kid in CT ? No, he'll have to do without a gun. And so be unable to kill so many people.

    Evan DeFilippis' ArmedWithReason article
    Evan Defilippis' "Less Guns, Less Crime - Debunking the Self-Defense Myth"

  • Ban assault rifles but keep less deadly guns legal

    The assault-weapons ban is a red herring, a cosmetic move that fixes little. A Glock pistol with a 15 or 17-round magazine is perfectly capable of being used for mass killing. Even a 6-shot revolver can be fired quickly and speed-reloaded.

    If the criminal in the 12/2012 Connecticut school-shooting had "only" had the two semi-auto pistols he had, and not the long gun, would the slaughter have been any less ? I doubt it. Pretty easy to shoot schoolchildren and teachers.

    [Someone said they have a revolver, which fires slowly, so that should stay legal:]
    I've seen video of competition speed-firing, where a guy fires 6 rounds in about 3 seconds from a revolver, dumps out the brass, speed-loads 6 new rounds in one motion, fires again. So it certainly is possible to fire a revolver rapidly. And I doubt someone has to fire very rapidly to kill kindergarteners, anyway.

  • We need guns for hunting or target-shooting

    Hunting is okay if it's for meat to eat. But maybe hunters should have to rent a gun when they want to hunt, or retrieve their gun from a locked central warehouse when they want to hunt. Or maybe only bow-hunting would be allowed. Maybe target-shooters should have to go to a range and rent a gun there, or use their gun which is stored there. If you want home protection, you rely on dogs or police or knives or whatever.

  • Guns are part of the American identity

    From Pamela Haag's "Our gun myths are all wrong: The real history behind the Second Amendment cliches that have sustained our lethal gun culture":
    [Subtitle:] America was born with a unique bond to gun culture, some would have you believe. They're peddling bad history.


    ... We became a gun culture not because the gun was symbolically intrinsic to Americans or special to our identity, or because the gun was something exceptional in our culture, but precisely because it was not. From the vantage point of business, the gun was a product of non-exceptionalism. ... in the key years of its diffusion, and for many years thereafter, it was like a buckle or a pin, an unexceptional object of commerce. No pangs of conscience were attached to it, and no more special regulations, prohibitions, values, or mystique pertained to its manufacture, marketing, and sale than to a shovel. Indeed, there were no special rules concerning the international trade of guns until modest presidential embargo powers became effective in 1898. ...

    Ironically, had the gun been perceived in its early commercial years as a unique and extraordinary thing in society, we might never have become a gun culture. Under those circumstances, politics, law, and other regulatory forces might well have stepped in early on to circumscribe or shape the gun's manufacture and sale, as they did in some other places around the world. For the United States, the gun culture was forged in the image of commerce. It was stamped, perhaps indelibly, by what historian John Blum called the "amorality of business". America has an estimated 300 million guns in circulation today, but the gunning of the country started extemporaneously, and it was etched strongly by the character, ambition, and will of gun capitalists rather than by diplomats, politicians, generals, and statesmen. Gun politics today are consumed by Second Amendment controversies, but the Second Amendment did not design, invent, patent, mass-produce, advertise, sell, market, and distribute guns. Yet the gun business, which did, and does, is largely invisible in today's gun politics.

    In the context of business amorality and unexceptionalism, Winchester cast his industrial lot and fortune on a faster and mechanically improved rifle, and he did so not as a gunsmith or even as a gun enthusiast, but as a nineteenth-century capitalist. Others later recalled that Winchester had never personally owned a gun, had never displayed guns in his home, and had never shot a gun before he built his family and corporate fortunes off of them. ...


    In the early 1900s, the tone of the gun industry changed. The country was more urbanized. The martial phase of western conquest was over. Logically, sales should have dropped, but the WRAC did quite well from 1890 to 1914. ... With less practical utility, the gun became - and to some extent had to become - an object with emotional value. One answer to the question "Why do Americans love guns?" is, simply, that we were invited to do so by those who made and sold them at the moment when their products had shed much of their more practical, utilitarian value. What was once needed now had to be loved. ...

    Modern advertising fascinated the Winchester executives: again, the gun was no exception to the business trends of the day in a new consumer culture, whether the product was soap or a rifle. The WRAC's internal bulletins instructed the sales force on how to seduce otherwise indifferent customers who had little need for rifles as tools. ...


    In the late 1910s, in short, the targeted customer began to shift from the "ordinary shooter" to the "gun crank". The latter, who emerged in company correspondence and the gun press, was a customer with a deep psychological bond with his gun. This was a transition from imagining a customer who needed guns but didn't especially want them to a customer who wanted guns but didn't especially need them. ...

  • Americans used to be required to own guns

    Apparently true in some of the colonies. I'm glad we don't live in the 1600's any more. What does that have to do with our society and policy choices today ?

  • The Nazi's banned guns, and look what they did

    Gun control existed in Germany well before the Nazi's. The Nazi's came to power because of massive public support, not because they had guns and others didn't.
    The Straight Dope's "Did Hitler ban gun ownership?"
    Alex Seitz-Wald's "The Hitler gun control lie"
    Devin Hughes' "Militia Myths: Why Armed Populations Don't Prevent Tyranny, But Often Lead To It"
    Robert Nielsen's "The Genocide And Gun Control Myth"

    From's "To Conquer a Nation":
    "the 1938 German Weapons Act passed during Hitler's rule actually loosened gun ownership rules for non-Jewish Germans."

    Under the Nazi's, the German army had "Gott mit uns" ("God with us") on their uniforms. By the same logic, does this mean religion is evil and wrong and USA shouldn't allow it ?

Dave Gilson's "10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down"
Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes' "5 arguments against gun control - and why they are all wrong"
Evan DeFilippis' "Debunking the Five Most Important Myths About Gun Control"
Frederic Lemieux's "Six things every American should know about gun violence"

NRA debate tips

Toles on gun rights

Arming everyone would deter crime

  • It would lead criminals to shoot (or club, or Taser) first; if you really want to rob someone, and you're pretty sure they're armed, why not just whack them before they can shoot you ? Then rob them.

  • It would lead to a huge number of gun accidents, as guns fell out of purses and pockets, kids got easy access to guns left unattended by parents or adult siblings, and people made mistakes handling their guns.
    32-Year Veteran School Guard Leaves Gun In School Bathroom (it was unloaded, fortunately)
    NYTimes' "One Week in April, Four Toddlers Shot and Killed Themselves"
    Parent and Adolescent Reports of Adolescent Access to Household Firearms in the United States

  • It would lead to many fatal mistakes, as innocent people were mistaken for criminals and shot dead. It's hard enough for trained police to interpret some situations and figure out who are the good guys and the bad guys. Suppose someone pulls a gun or fires a shot, five people nearby all draw their guns, now six people are all screaming "drop it !" at each other. It turns into a slaughter, and afterwards we find out it was all a misunderstanding.
    Joshua Holland's "Combat Vets Destroy the NRA's Heroic Gunslinger Fantasy"
    How to tell the difference
    Tom Tomorrow on guns
  • You can't extrapolate from the behavior of today's legal gun-owners to the behavior of "every adult in the country carrying a gun". Today's gun-owners are highly motivated to own and respect guns, very aware of what they are doing and the legalities and consequences of it. Assuming the entire adult population would feel and behave the same way is not a good bet.

  • I simply don't believe the stories and statistics given by gun-advocates that show homeowners successfully using their guns to defend their homes. Those people have every incentive to make up stories, exaggerate incidents, or claim that the gun was essential when it wasn't.

    If some scary-looking black guy came up your front walk, you opened the front door and showed a gun, and he left, what just happened ? Was he an innocent guy looking for directions or help ? A burglar who left when he saw someone was home ? Or a murderer who was scared away by the gun ? Of course gun-advocates will put the most extreme interpretation on it. Call the newspapers and the NRA, and claim that your gun just saved the lives of your whole family !

    Evan Defilippis' "Less Guns, Less Crime - Debunking the Self-Defense Myth"

  • Plenty of people are not clinically insane or registered felons, but yet are "somewhat crazy", "have a screw loose", have very bad tempers or anger-management or road-rage problems, have drinking or drug problems. Arming all of those people is not a good idea.

  • If MORE weapons, and "personal responsibility" and locking up crazy people, is the solution, then legalizing even MORE weapons should be a good idea, right ? Legalize private ownership of fully automatic weapons, grenades, bombs, anthrax, atom bombs, right ?

  • We've had massacres in malls, schools, movie theaters, parking lots, offices, post offices, McDonalds, etc. Trying to arm and fortify all of those places, and any type of place a crazy person attacks in the future, would be ridiculous.

    No loaded guns allowed at gun show
    Some people say "malls already have armed guards". Yes, but there's a difference between an open place with a couple of armed guards and a bunch of unarmed assistants mainly looking for shoplifters, and a place with controlled entrances and heavily armed guards alert to stop a mass-murderer.

    And if you think China and Germany are already out-competing the USA and taking away productive jobs and industries, what would happen if we took another million people out of productive jobs and set them to guard duty ? Sure, it's "real work", but it's not productive work. Guarding just keeps the status quo, produces no exports, produces no growth or improvement in our country.

  • I don't want our country to become a place where guns and armed guards are everywhere, symbols of constant fear and violence.
    Needs more guns

From "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner:
... The economist John R. Lott Jr. is the main champion of this idea. ... Lott let himself become a lightning rod for gun controversy. He exacerbated his trouble by creating a pseudonym [to go online and praise himself.] ... Then there was the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that support his more-guns/less-crime theory. Regardless of whether the data were faked, Lott's admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn't seem to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime.

Switzerland and Israel are not examples of arming everyone to get less crime:
Janet Rosenbaum's "A League of Our Own"
Janet Rosenbaum's "Gun utopias? Firearm access and ownership in Israel and Switzerland" (but some glaring errors, such as "Permit holders may own only one handgun for 6 months", which is not true)
Ezra Klein's "Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias"
Matthew Kalman's "Israelis shoot down NRA's claim that the Jewish State uses more weapons to keep schools safe"
BBC's "'Three dead' in Swiss shooting" (gives some overview info)
Emma Jane Kirby's "Switzerland guns: Living with firearms the Swiss way"'s "Four dead in factory shooting" (gives some overview info)
But then there's this:
Helena Bachmann's "The Swiss Difference: A Gun Culture That Works"

Mark Follman's "Do Armed Civilians Stop Mass Shooters? Actually, No."
Andrew Wertz's "Combat veterans shoot down the NRA: 'Good guy with a gun' is based on a 'fantasy world'"

Dahlia Lithwick and Mark P. McKenna's "More Guns, More Fear, More Killings"
John Donohue's "7 lessons about US gun laws from the Rittenhouse verdict and Arbery murder"

Greg Hampikian's "When May I Shoot a Student?"
Andy Borowitz's "A Letter from Kim Jong-Un"

Give every kid a stick

Armed guards couldn't protect Reagan

From Paul D. Thacker's "Gun Myths Die Hard":
Probably the single most common myth is that easy access to a loaded firearm - in the home, for example - decreases your risk of a violent death. At the population level, the opposite is true. Evidence finds that access to a firearm increases one's risk of being killed by a firearm. That's a very well-supported statement these days.

There are two other particularly important examples, I think. First, people believe that firearm death is primarily a crime problem. Suicides with guns are more common than homicides, by far. Second, everyone thinks that criminal firearm violence is a mental health problem - that it's people with mental illness who are shooting people. In reality, a history of violence, alcohol abuse, and even age and sex are more important factors.

Rachel Nuwer's "What if all guns disappeared ?"

Typical debating tactics by gun-guys

  1. Deny that there is a problem. [When that is refuted:]

  2. Propose unworkable solutions. [When that is refuted:]

  3. Deny that a ban would work. [When that is refuted:]

  4. Deny that a ban could be enacted. [When that is refuted, go back to (1).]
We've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas

Some people conflate these three things, often deliberately

  1. Would a gun-ban work ?

    I think if we passed a ban it would take decades, maybe even 50 years, to work most guns out of private hands. Law-abiding people would turn in or sell back their guns. Manufacturing and sales and gun-shows would stop. As police arrested criminals, guns would be confiscated and destroyed. As gun-nuts were ratted out by ex-wives, or died, or got caught brandishing guns, their weapons would be confiscated. It would take a long time. And high-end criminals will always be willing to pay for guns. We won't get 100% of them out of society.

    But it COULD be done ! If something is the right thing to do, we should do it, even if it is hard to do and takes a long time.

  2. Is a gun-ban the right thing to do ?

    This mostly comes down to:

    • Would it stop massacres and other gun-violence ?

      Other countries (Australia, Japan) have seen good results from bans or restrictions; Britain had a partial ban and mixed results.

    • Would it leave us at the mercy of criminals ?

      Odds are that you won't be near your gun when you need it, or that your gun will be safely locked in a cabinet and with a trigger-lock on it when you need it, or that you're safer just giving a robber your money and letting the police arrest them later (maybe). Odds are even higher that you'll kill some innocent person, or someone will commit suicide with your gun, or that it will be stolen.

    • Would it leave us defenceless against a tyrannical government ?

      Other countries that have banned or greatly restricted gun ownership haven't fallen into tyranny. Private guns didn't prevent USA government from taking away some of our rights after 9/11. And I don't see how private guns would protect us if the government (including military, DHS, FBI, police) turned against us.
      Tom Tomorrow on tyranny

  3. Could a gun-ban ever be enacted in USA ?

    I don't know if banning private ownership of guns will ever get enacted. Maybe as we have more and more massacres, the tide of public opinion will slowly turn. Suppose we get to the place where every town has had a massacre in the last 20 years or so. Would that be enough to change public opinion ?

How can people AFFORD all of these guns ?

Apparently plenty of poor people or households own guns: Mary Dooe's "Behind the Data: Gun ownership and income".

Heard a show about some declining city (maybe Detroit). They interviewed some father of 2 and asked him how he "protected" his kids from drugs, and he said "we have 35 guns in the house" (missing the point of the question, IMO).

I don't know what kind of guns, but say average of $300 to buy each gun (see Firearms Price Guide; that $300 easily could be higher). That's $10,500 worth of guns. Add ammo, maybe another $1000 ? I hope they're being stored safely, which means more money for locked cabinets or something. Sales tax, permits, storage cases, cleaning kits. Might add up to $13K ?

I assume most guns are depreciating assets. Wear and tear and rust, ammo deteriorates, you have to expend ammo to keep in practice, manufacturers are pouring plenty of new guns onto the market. [Some people say no, guns don't depreciate much. Why not ?]

Suppose that $13K had been put in the bank instead, to earn interest and serve as the start of a college fund or something ?

[Response from many people: many of their guns are inherited, so they didn't have to buy them. (But those guns still tie up a pool of money that could be used for something else. And tie it up in way that risks theft.) And a couple more responses: "Different guns have specialized uses. Owning 7 would be entirely reasonable IMHO." and "Having 10 guns doesn't even require someone to be a rabid collector. It's just scratching the surface. Very easy to do."]

By raw numbers in USA (about 1 gun per capita, about 35 to 40% of households have at least one gun, average household is about 2.55 people, 2.55/0.375 = 6.8), does that mean households with guns have an average of 7 guns per household ? And do they divide into households with 1-2 guns, and those with 30-50 guns ? How many of each ?

From yrrosimyarin on reddit:
I think there are three kinds of gun owners:

1) People who own one pistol for personal protection. They may or may not have a CCW permit, but probably don't actually use it that often. The gun is really more of a symbol and a talisman in their minds - they think it means they can protect themselves. They may be right, but it will likely be because of the threat of the gun, rather than their skill with it.

2) People who have maybe 3 guns - a .22, a shotgun, and a pistol of some kind. They shoot recreationally on occasion, but don't really practice. They'll also maybe hunt a rabbit or a deer one a year. The guns are a tool and occasional sport.

3) People who are seriously into guns, and have as many as they have managed to squeeze into their budget recently. These are the guys who treat it as a serious hobby, and have guns for every sort of sport, self defense, or hunting they do. They actually go to the range to practice, not just dink around.

Gun culture used to be all #2 and #3. As the population has gone more urban, it has increasingly added more of type #1 -- you don't need a .22 to shoot a rabid raccoon with, but you might want a snub .38 to scare off a mugger.

From Josh Fielder on Facebook 1/2013:
So, here's my two cents (which will end up being closer to $1.50 I'm sure) and I'm sure I will regret posting this later, due to the "friends" I will lose while exercising my First Amendment, but here goes.

Instead of posting a meme with a picture and a falsely attributed quote or a made up statistic, I've spent my time researching the gun violence/gun control debate. And I'd like to talk about some of the pervasive themes I've seen lately.

First off, Hitler did not say "In order to conquer a country, you must first disarm its citizens." In fact, Hitler made it his position to enable guns to be obtained more easily.

Secondly, the presidents, and I mean ALL of them, and their families, receive death threats on a daily basis. President Obama did not enact the regulations that REQUIRE Secret Service protection for him and his family. If you believe your children are as much of a target as the president's children, then you have a self inflated idea of your position in this world.

Thirdly, there is NO law or bill being considered that would allow anyone to come marching into your home to take your legally obtained and legally owned firearms. There are possible laws that are being explored that would require more responsibility on the part of the gun owner or person purchasing a gun (i.e. pass a background check even if buying a gun from a gun show dealer). If you buy a car from a dealer it must be registered (a record of the transfer is documented). If you buy a car from a private citizen, it must be registered. If you buy a gun from a dealer, there is a record of that sale and it is registered. So how is it illogical to require the same for private sales of firearms?

Fourth, there are not more people being killed with baseball bats than guns. If you disagree with that because you saw a picture stating otherwise on the internet, then I would like to offer you the chance to buy some oceanfront property in Arizona and I'll throw in the Brooklyn Bridge for free. There is no magical solution for solving the problem of gun violence. THAT is what we need to solve.

We don't ban cars that are used in DUI related deaths, but we do enact regulations regarding blood alcohol limits, prosecute people who enable a drunk driver to operate a vehicle after serving them, promote a DUI campaign raising awareness and educating drivers on the dangers of driving while intoxicated. All of which has reduced DUI related fatalities by over 40% in a decade.

The media is not hiding other gun related stories because they want to sensationalize the problem, they are simply unable to cover every gun death story because there would be an average of 80 of them each day. So they concentrate (unfortunately) on the massacres which I think we can all agree, happen all too often.

I find the fact that more children are killed in the US by guns than in the entire Middle East region, very disturbing.

I find it disturbing that the NRA blames the rise in violent shootings on video games and then comes out with its own shooting video game (categorized for children as young as 4 years of age) less than a month after Newtown.

I find it disturbing that other countries spend in excess of twice as much as the US on violent video games and have a small fraction of the amount of gun related deaths/injuries.

I find it disturbing that instead of looking for a solution to a problem like Newtown, there are people wasting their time and energy by trying to turn it into a conspiracy theory.

I find it disturbing that guns are the third largest killer of children ages 5-14 in the US.

I find it disturbing that a child in America is 12 times more likely to be killed with a gun than the rest of the "developed" world.

I find it disturbing that there are more guns privately owned in America than the next SEVENTEEN countries combined.

I find it disturbing that all of these statistics are not discussed but fake statistics about a baseball bat death rate are plastered everywhere.

I find it disturbing that some people believe that the ONLY answer to this problem is more guns.

Banning all firearms is NOT the answer, which is exactly why it's not being proposed. This country has enacted laws that didn't work before, so they've been revised, repealed, reformed, etc. It's ludicrous to think that as a society, we evolve, but the laws governing us cannot? The NRA states that the assault weapons ban didn't work the first time. Well, you know what they say, "If at first you don't succeed, f*%k it.".

If armed guards are the only answer to ending school shootings, then explain the VT shooting. Virginia Tech had an entire police department complete with a SWAT unit. Explain Columbine, which had an armed officer on staff. When discussing an end to gun violence in schools, there should be NOTHING left off the table.

Ronald Reagan, a huge gun proponent and signor of the Brady Bill, wrote to Congress in 1994 asking them to propose legislation limiting or stopping altogether the manufacture of guns classified as assault weapons. And anyone saying "assault weapon" is a made up term should remember that every word in every language is, in fact, made up.

And yes, criminals don't typically obey laws, but we still have them. Can you use that logic to say there should be none at all? No.

Let me be clear, I am NOT anti gun. I have nothing against guns or responsible gun owners. I served proudly in the military, I worked in armed security, I've hunted, and enjoy target shooting since I was a kid. And I'm sure most gun enthusiasts are the same way. However, this issue should be discussed logically and rationally, and all I see are comments and pictures that are anything but rational and for the most part, are just viral, inflammatory, unresearched, vitriol.

The president enacted 23 executive actions today, of which only 2 have anything to do with limiting the availability of a category of gun or a magazine capacity. The remaining 21 deal with aspects regarding background checks, school safety and mental health system requirements and deficiencies. Will it be a perfect solution? No. Will it help? We'll see. Is it better than doing nothing? Definitely. If we keep using the statement, "It's too soon to talk about it." after each tragedy, pretty soon, we'll never talk about it.

OK, so maybe it ended up closer to $2.00 instead of 2 cents. So sue me.

School shooting

Paraphrased from Freakonomics "How to Think About Guns" 2/2013:

From Hope Reese's "What Liberals Need to Understand About 'Gun Guys'":
The people who buy most of the guns are middle-aged white men who have not finished college. That demographic has been particularly screwed in this society in the past 30 years. They are losing ground economically, they are losing ground culturally, but in this country, to talk about your circumstances as part of a class is forbidden. So these guys have no vocabulary for discussing what has happened to them. All they know is, they're pissed.

The only people giving them a voice is the NRA, who comes along whispering in their ears, "The liberals want to take away your guns." The gun is the one thing that makes these guys feel vital and useful and powerful and capable. ...


> What do you think Democrats should know about the average gun guy?

I think they should know how much self-esteem gun guys derive from their guns, how patriotic they feel. ...

From windsostrange on reddit:
I'm afraid of a gun even when it's not involved in a crime, even when it will never be involved in a crime, even when it's in responsible hands. I don't like what it does to the person holding it. I don't like what it does to the community holding them.

Yes, they make it easier to kill people. Even if not a single death were gun-related, though, you would still have a community of people walking around with the ability to very easily kill everyone around them. Some call that maintaining a peace. I believe it runs counter to a legal system, to a democracy, to give individuals the ability to try and sentence others with the push of a button.

From someone on reddit 2/2018:
Here's a TL;DR from Max Fisher and Josh Keller's "What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer":

Well, this sucks. Supreme Court has ruled that handguns can't be banned. No one has a solution for the violence. None of the proposed or politically possible changes to the law will be effective. The Freakonomics podcast above carefully explained why the whole situation is hopeless, we just have to live with it. What is galling is that other countries are much better than USA in this area. But I guess we've just painted ourselves into a corner.

Tylenol regulation versus gun regulation

Ezra Klein's "Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States"
Kevin Gray's "U.S. Gun Ownership & Gun Death Data"
Tiffany O'Callaghan's "What Do We Know About Gun Violence?"
Justin Peters' "Does a Fatal Shooting Really Cost More than $5 Million?"

Brian Palmer's "Why Is the NRA So Powerful?"
Wendi Petit's "NRA Membership Numbers Are Not Slight Exaggerated - They're Outright Lies"
Devin Hughes and Evan DeFilippis' "The NRA's Favorite Gun 'Academic' Is A Fraud"

Various politicians on guns
You're afraid we'll take your guns

The Onion's "NRA Sets 1,000 Killed In School Shooting As Amount It Would Take For Them To Reconsider Much Of Anything"
The Onion's "When Will These Senseless Gun Debates Come To An End?"
Andy Borowitz's "N.R.A. Defends Right to Own Politicians"
Andy Borowitz's "Study: Americans Safe from Gun Violence Except in Schools, Malls, Airports, Movie Theatres, Workplaces, Streets, Own Homes"
Tom Tomorrow's "Gun Talk"
Voter impersonation

We've been here before, and I guess we're going to be here again: Tom Tomorrow on gun massacres

By the way, it is in Russia's interest to manipulate the US population into owning lots of guns and using them. The gun issue divides us, includes lots of anti-government sentiment, and guns do lots of damage in our country. Widespread gun possession puts police on a hair-trigger and leads to more police violence and distrust of the police. So part of Russia's push to weaken USA may include encouraging pro-gun sentiment and division over guns.

Joel Mathis's "Guns are destroying community in America"

"When I held that gun in my hand, I felt a surge of power ... like God must feel when he's holding a gun."
-- Homer Simpson

"You know, if I wanted to pick out one thing that best exemplifies our country's peculiar relationship with guns, it's that the phrase 'minor shooting incident' exists."
-- Jon Stewart, on reports that the Navy Yard shooter was previously involved in minor shooting incidents