Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gun Control

There, I've posted a thread about it, and I've chugged some Potions of Flame Resistance knowing what this will probably entail in the comments.

For a good long while, I was an oddball Texan because I favored gun control quite strongly. Of course, given that I lived in Texas, the best I typically saw from the opposing side were the gun nuts who were proud to live up to their stereotypes. After hitting my skeptical epiphany, so to speak, I've made a note to revisit the topic.

Now, first I want to make this absolutely clear: I don't want guns to be in the hands of the criminal, the irresponsible, or the unstable. That's the core of the issue for me: Keeping deadly weapons beyond those people's reach. The debate is about the best method for doing that. Can the government make and enforce laws or programs that do that with relatively few drawbacks? Can responsible, law-abiding gun owners encourage a culture of firearm safety that prevents dangerous individuals from acquiring them? Is there another method?

Whichever side or idea you present, be sure to back it up with numbers and citations. I've seen a few cases of statistical skullduggery from all groups, so be sure you know what you're talking about.

31 comments:

Dark Jaguar said...

I can't offer statistics or scientific study, so by and large the most I can say is my current opinion. Namely, I'm divided on this one. It'll take some good studies and statistics to really sway me either way. As it stands, I empathise with the less extreme members of both sides.

My dad happens to be an NRA member, or was at one time at least. However, he's not one of the extremist nuts one normally associates with the group. He made it extremely clear when I was a kid that guns are for only one thing: killing, and went through a lot to make sure I always understood proper safety with them. He wouldn't even dream of letting me, as a kid, handle anything stronger than a pump action BB gun, and even that was not really "mine" in that he kept it with all his other guns except for the rare time when he'd take me, as well as my siblings, to show me how to use it. On those occasions, every single precaution was stressed, and I specifically recall a moment when I accidently failed to heed a safety protocol, namely I accidently swept the barrel across his line of sight, and while it was unloaded, and the safety was on, it was made entirely clear that that was completely unacceptable. It's still drilled in me to this day, so much so that I think I fear actually handling a gun, namely mishandling it, more than a lot of people. While I'm trained in basic safety, I don't personally have any interest in owning one. Namely, I'll basically say that if someone with kids decides to have a gun, what was done with me is certainly exactly what I'd expect those parents to do with their kids. I was never once under any impression that they were toys and never once had any desire to "play" with them. That also went for his super advanced bows and arrows he also kept with the guns (I mean it, they were actually pretty advanced as far as bows go).

Both sides, when one cuts past the rhetoric, make some good points. Certainly only the most extremist of gun advocates think anyone should own fully automatic weapons. That's far too much on one end. Having no weapons does open up the self defense issue, though in my case I've never had need for a weapon for that case and it's such a minority of experiecne that having it all the other times as well seems too much personally.

I will say this. One argument brought up is the idea that people need to be armed in case they need to overthrow the government turning into a dictatorship. Um, now I don't have much but a hunch to back me up on this, but I really suspect that owning some rifles and shotguns is not going to compete with tanks and fighter jets. What are the rebels just going to fire a missile into an air duct in the super weapon so that the entire government says "game over, you win"?

Dunc said...

The big question is: what exactly do you mean by "gun control"? It's kind of a Rorschach term - people project their own hopes and fears onto it. Say "gun control" to a gun nut, and they have visions of government agents taking away all their guns by force. Say it to someone sane, and they might think of licensing and registration systems not too dissimilar from those we're all quite happy with for motor vehicles.

Whilst I think we may have gone a bit too far here in the UK (what with banning all handguns) I do think there's a good argument to be made for some of the basic elements of our gun control system, namely:

1. You must be licensed to own any firearm or ammunition. Said license specifies (IIRC) the type(s) of firearm(s) and ammunition, the maximum quantity of ammunition held, the storage location of the firearm(s), and in many cases, the location(s) and purpose(s) for which the firearm(s) may be used. I can't remember if it also lists the serial number(s) of the firearm(s) held, but I think it would be a good idea.
2. You must be able to store your firearm(s) securely. Your storage arrangements must be inspected by the local Firearms Officer before a Firearms Certificate will be issued, and they are subject to periodic re-inspection. Firearms and ammunition should be separated in storage.
3. A criminal background check is performed before the issue of a Firearms Certificate. Pretty much any criminal conviction is likely to disbar you. Should you subsequently be convicted of a crime, you are very likely to lose your license.

The idea of being able to walk into a shop and buy guns or ammo over the counter without even showing ID is just bizarre to my British sensibilities. You (frequently) bar convicted felons from voting, but not from owning firearms? Weird.

King of Ferrets said...

One idea I've thought of is requiring a periodic psychological evaluation of gun owners, just to make sure they aren't completely insane. I don't know exactly how hard that would be to implement, though, or how expensive it would be.

Jimmy Blue said...

Why does your average citizen need access to firearms?

Until someone can satisfactorily explain why gun ownership is a necessary right, why is there any debate?

For instance, why do you say that a ban on all handguns is going too far Dunc? Why is it? Why should people be allowed owership of something whose sole intended purpose is to kill?

Dunc said...

One idea I've thought of is requiring a periodic psychological evaluation of gun owners, just to make sure they aren't completely insane.

Yeah, that seems like a pretty good idea.

For instance, why do you say that a ban on all handguns is going too far Dunc?

I regard target shooting as a perfectly legitimate pass-time - it's an Olympic sport, after all. Next you'll be asking me why I've got a takedown recurve bow under my bed... It's certainly not for shooting anything live - I've only got target points.

Jimmy Blue said...

I regard target shooting as a perfectly legitimate pass-time - it's an Olympic sport, after all

So do I. How is this a reason for private ownership of handguns however? Why does this mean a ban on the private ownership of handguns has gone to far?

Next you'll be asking me why I've got a takedown recurve bow under my bed... It's certainly not for shooting anything live - I've only got target points

Why will I? I used to be a shooting coach, my dad was an archery coach and I started archery at a very early age and rifle target shooting at 13. Please go easy on the strawmen setups and don't assume you know something about me and my arguments you don't.

St.B said...

I have no statistical back up either. Not my forte’, heh. (My opinion only.) Psychological checks and balances for those purchasing weapons should always be enforced, and of course known criminals should be excluded. No different than being tested for a driver’s license. If you are capable to handle the responsibility then to you the access. I know many believe that the total removal of weaponry to the general public is the only answer. You only have to look at countries with that concept to see it does not work. There is no perfect answer to gun control, there is no perfect answer to the control of anything on this planet. Once humans partake of something, whether it is allowed or disallowed by the legal system, those with the desire to do as they wish will find ways to circumvent the law. Utopian existence is not within the grasp at the current time.

I don’t differentiate between hand guns, rifles, et al… To me a weapon is a weapon whether used for targets of paper or flesh. It’s the enforcement of the laws guiding the purchasing and owning of said weapons I would want to be well enforced.

Anecdotally it is often said that part of the reason other countries do not attempt direct incursions onto American soil is the fact we have the right to bear arms. That the scores of “average Joe’s and Josephine’s” polishing up ol’ Bessie the family shotgun , deter a certain level of attack. Not saying I agree with that, but I can see some sense in it. Doubt I would take a country I “perceive” having the general populace as armed, as lightly as I would one that was not.


Side note: Canada is seen as a country as more strident on gun ownership. Again an anecdotal observation: I have found Canadians just as, or more (to my experience only) likely, (the average Joe), to own illegal unregistered weapons. It seems to be quite common among all of the diverse peoples of the land and socio-economic levels. This is just my observation of course. Here, in Quebec, the restriction to even have pepper spray is disallowed. In this case also I assure you, most of the women I know have a lovely spritz in their purses regardless of said law.

Aww, I’m just babbling…

Tom Foss said...

My personal opinion is first that there's no reason that all people should be able to own all types of firearms. We already generally accept that the average person cannot own a nuclear weapon, a flamethrower, or even certain kinds of knives; I don't see why any normal person would have any use for (so-called) cop-killer bullets or assault rifles, except to harm other people. I have no problem with people owning guns for hunting or protection, but the sniper rifle in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine isn't useful for either.

The part of the Second Amendment that people always seem to overlook is that "well-regulated militia" clause. I don't see how "every yahoo with an NRA membership can buy any gun he wants" is "well-regulated." But if the people want their AK-47s, fine. Let's start a militia registry board, where civilians can form registered militias. The militia would be able to purchase and operate military-grade weapons (within reasonable limits), in exchange for oversight and training from the registry body. The weapons could be kept in a militia house--not a private residence--that would (like licensed restaurants) be subject to periodic inspections, to ensure that unauthorized people weren't getting access to the weapons, and so forth.

I can see where the problem is--a lot of the people who want those weapons and want to form militias also distrust the government and are preparing for a fight with the United States. Such people are lunatics. I don't care who you are, but if you think your pissant compound can hold its own against the U.S. military, then you're seriously delusional. Either they can deal with reality, or they can deal with restricted private ownership.

As far as private citizens go: when you are given a privilege where other people's lives and safety are put into your hands, you have to go through relatively extensive training first, you have to pass various tests, and you have to undergo periodic reviews of your fitness for that privilege (I'm thinking of driving, teaching, operating a bar or restaurant, practicing medicine, etc.). Gun ownership and licensing should be no different. You should have to receive training in usage and safety before you can own one, you should have to get a license, and you should have to periodically demonstrate your competence in order to keep that license. And, if you demonstrate incompetence, you should have your license taken away.

I think the biggest problem with gun control is that people see any mention of it as some terrible affront on their rights, and raise hell about it. If only people would do the same about the other 25 Amendments, we might have fewer problems in general. But it seems that censorship, theocracy, unlawful detainment, and unreasonable searches are all a-okay so long as we kin keep our gunz.

Also, Dunc's ideas sound pretty reasonable as well :).

James K said...

Dark Jaguar:
I will say this. One argument brought up is the idea that people need to be armed in case they need to overthrow the government turning into a dictatorship. Um, now I don't have much but a hunch to back me up on this, but I really suspect that owning some rifles and shotguns is not going to compete with tanks and fighter jets.

Militias aren't exactly military super weapons, but its worth noting that tanks are practically useless in dense urban environments (and air power is even less useful). During the Battle of Stalingrad any number of German tanks were destroyed by riflemen with Molotov Coctails. Militias can't beat an army, but they can make maintaining control of an area very hard, for examples see Iraq.

Jimmy Blue:
Why should people be allowed owership of something whose sole intended purpose is to kill?

Many people held to the belief that it is up to the government to justify taking away a liberty, rather than it being up to you to justify keeping it. You many not be one of those people, but I thought I mention this perspective as an aside.

As for the "designed to kill" part. This is the Genetic Fallacy, it doesn't matter what its designed to do, all that matters are the costs and benefits. In Freakonomics, Levitt notes that swimming pools kill more children than guns, so should swimming pools be illegal? People don't need pools after all.

Stb:
Anecdotally it is often said that part of the reason other countries do not attempt direct incursions onto American soil is the fact we have the right to bear arms.

I share your reservation with this argument. The US has a larger military (by $) than every other country on earth combined and enough ICBMs to wipe out all life on Earth. I doubt militias are a deciding factor. They're better at protecting against domestic threats than foreign ones.

Dunc said...

How is this a reason for private ownership of handguns however? Why does this mean a ban on the private ownership of handguns has gone to far?

Well, I simply don't think that a total ban is either justified or necessary. It's not like they weren't very tightly controlled here before... You simply cannot shoot with handguns in the UK any more, under any circumstances (as a civilian, anyway). Even before the ban, you weren't actually allowed to keep them in your home - they had to be stored at a registered shooting club. That doesn't seem too unreasonable - but to go so far as to completely outlaw them seems a step too far. I know several former handgun shooters who simply had to give up, because there is nowhere in this country you can practice. The sport is now extinct in the UK.

However, the ban does not appear to have had any effect on the rate of handgun crime.

Please go easy on the strawmen setups and don't assume you know something about me and my arguments you don't.

Sorry.

Jimmy Blue said...

James K:

Again I ask, are swimming pools designed only to kill, or do they in fact have other purposes? I also fail to see how this is the genetic fallacy, please explain.

Dunc:

Because you or other people like it is still not a reason for why a total ban on handguns has gone to far, nor is it a reason to lift the ban. Nor is target shooting as a sport a reason to lift a total ban on handguns. I also knew and was trained by people who represented the UK in handgun target shooting. There ire at not being able to do it is still not an argument for lifting a ban.

Handgun crime may not have gone down, but when was the last time a psycho walked into a school to gun down toddlers in the UK? When was the last Hungerford like incident in the UK?

People also liked fox hunting (I didn't, before anyone jumps to that conclusion) but would you use that as an argument to lift the ban on hunting with hounds (I wouldn't).

Jimmy Blue said...

Oh and Tom, it also tickles me how people conveniently forget the 'well regulated militia' part of that amendment.

Funny how these things count except when they don't.

Dunc said...

Handgun crime may not have gone down, but when was the last time a psycho walked into a school to gun down toddlers in the UK? When was the last Hungerford like incident in the UK?

Given the extreme rarity of such events in the UK both before and after the ban, I'm not sure that you can use their subsequent absence as evidence for its effectiveness. As far as I can recall, there has only ever been two "Hungerford like" incidents in the UK - Hungerford and Dunblane.

Common-or-garden shootings, on the other hand, have become much more common. Now, I'm certainly not saying that there's a causal relationship there, but it does mean that there is no basis to conclude that the ban has improved anything. It doesn't seem to have reduced the availability of such weapons on the black market - if it had, then I might feel differently. Of course, it's always very difficult to compare what is with what might have been, but given the stringency of the rules and monitoring systems around legal handgun ownership, pre-ban, I don't think there was ever much of a problem with legally-held weapons or ammunition leaking onto the black market.

I'm generally in favour of the presumption of positive liberty: things should be legal unless there is a good for them not to be. I'm not convinced that a complete ban is either necessary or even useful - I think the previous regulatory regime was sufficient. (I'm pretty sure that the weapons used for both Hungerford and Dunblane were illegally held.)

Fox hunting (with hounds) is a different matter, because that's an animal cruelty issue. That's a perfectly good reason to ban it, IMHO.

MWchase said...

Rather tangential, but flamethrowers are actually something that most people assume are illegal to own...

"In the United States, private ownership of a flamethrower is not restricted by federal law, but is restricted in some of its states, such as California, by state laws"

IIRC, if you own one, it's really only good for hanging over the mantelpiece, or something, as firing is restricted more than ownership.

Anyway, we own plenty of deadly things, the difference being that the deadliness is an unintended side-effect of the intended use. (Deadly-to-people, I mean. Most people intend for rat poison to kill stuff.)

Too lazy for statistics, so I figured I'd just throw out what facts I know.

James K said...

Jimmy Blue:
Again I ask, are swimming pools designed only to kill, or do they in fact have other purposes? I also fail to see how this is the genetic fallacy, please explain.

The reason I cite the genetic fallacy is that you assume that the fact that guns are designed to kill is in any way relevant. The intention with which an object was created is wholly irrelevant to evaluating that object.

Dunc said...

IIRC, if you own one, it's really only good for hanging over the mantelpiece, or something, as firing is restricted more than ownership.

I bet they'd be great for weed control - like a flame weeder on steroids. ;) Maybe not such a great idea in California though...

Berlzebub said...

@MWchase and anyone else interested:
Flamethrowers are used by farmers and also by firefighting personel. As with many things developed for war, other more "civilized" uses have been found since.

@ Jimmy Blue:
As others have pointed out, the original firearms were developed for battlefield use. However, they now have civilian versions that have the "sole purpose" of target shooting (too heavy to carry around), and hunting. Of course, they can be retasked to take the life of a person, but that's an action on the part of the individual not the firearm.

Jimmy Blue said...

I am still not seeing a single sound reason for why people should be allowed to own guns yet. Burden of proof people.

So far we've had "But people like target shooting or watching it." The ever popular (although usually I hear it about cars) "But swimming pools kill more people than guns." and "But the civilian versions are to be used for target shooting."

As skeptics would you accept such lame arguments for the existence of God?

Dunc:

So you don't like fox hunting as a comparison, how about drink driving? People would like to be able to have a drink and then drive themselves home from the pub, should that be legal?

And I take your point that it is pointless arguing about 'what if or 'what might have been' - but given the increase in the number of random gun massacres (and there have been some in recent times outside of the US) I don't think it unreasonable to think the UK would not have seen some.

James K

Of course the fact that guns are designed to kill is relevant - there is no utility to them other than for taking life if they are still active - why does the average citizen need, as a right, access to something whose sole purpose is to kill? The guns purpose is not what is at issue (if you like, the gun itself has no moral or other value), it is the question of whether a citizen has a necessary right to have something with that purpose alone.

Berlzebub:

And if a person doesn't have access to something they can convert from target shooting then how do they convert it? What exactly do you think is the difference (in terms of the weapon) between shooting a paper target and shooting a real person (remember when answering I was a marksmanship coach for target shooting)? What is the difference between a military 9mm handgun and a civilian one? If civilian ownership is about target shooting why do my father in law and a friend of his own AK-47s, which are useless for target shooting and, in the case of my father in law, have never been fired at any target? How many gun owners here in the US own a gun adapted solely for target shooting? What does this even mean as far as you are concerned? Isn't the truth of the matter that most either own a gun simply because they can, or for self defence - which means the intention is to shoot people with it? How many of these headcase militias stockpiling weapons went for single shot bolt action .22 calibre rifles and handguns?

Any firearm that can shoot a paper target can shoot a person - without conversion. Even a .22 can kill.

Jimmy Blue said...

Oh, and Dunc, Michael Ryan was licensed to own all the firearms he used and held them legally.

Hungerford Massacre

It was this fact which led to the Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1988.

Hamilton, the perpetrator of the Dunblane Massacre, also possessed 6 licensed firearms.

James K said...

Jimmy Blue:
I think we're simply arguing from too different premises for us to have a productive debate:

1) I reject utterly the suggestion that citizens must justify their freedoms to the government. It is up to anyone who wishes to restrict the freedom of others to justify that restriction.

2)Gun death follow a classic Pareto Principle pattern, the vast majority of gun deaths are caused by a small fraction of gun owners, specifically gang members. Gang members are experts at accessing illegal goods, after all they do sell drugs. The way to stop these deaths is end the "War on Drugs", not by piling bad laws on top of other bad laws. Sure there are exceptions, but you can't plan for random crazy people and not enough people die that way every year to make banning all guns a reasonable policy response.

3) Guns do more than kill, the provide pleasure (target shooters and hunters), food (hunters), peace of mind (self defence weapons). These are real benefits that are lost if guns are banned. Once again I use swimming pools as an analogy. They also provide intangible gains like pleasure, and they kill a lot of people every year. Do you support banning swimming pools? If not, why not?

Jimmy Blue said...

James K:

It is up to anyone who wishes to restrict the freedom of others to justify that restriction.

And yet you still can't give a reason why firearms ownership is a necessary freedom to me - I'm not the government.

Point 2 is mere assertion with no evidence to back it up (and not merely the claims that most gun deaths are caused by gang members), where are the figures?

Point 3 falls back on "But some people like shooting" - not an argument in any way. Hunting is not an argument. Self defence is the only one that approaches an argument, and yet it ignores the fact that countries with strict gun control are not crime infested hell holes and the chances of being the victim of a crime are vastly over exaggarated.

The swimming pool is a piss poor analogy - swimming pools were not designed specifically to kill - it's not even close to comparing like with like.

James K said...

Jimmy Blue:
That's what I mean about different premises. I don't think anything you just said addresses any of my points, and its clear you feel the same about what I said. We're just talking past each other.

Jimmy Blue said...

Sorry James K, but that is just not true.

In particular, I asked you to provide evidence for your assertion that gangs are largely responsible for gun deaths in the US and that ending the war on drugs would end this - your response is apparently to pretend I didn't. That's a classic woo or fundie tactic. You asserted something with absolutely no evidence provided and I asked for your evidence, how is that not addressing your point? Then, instead of providing your evidence, you simply claimed I'd proven your point.

Then, even though I specifically address your third point, you claim I don't.

Not good enough

There is no difference between your behaviour here and the average creationist and I have to say, when arguing with pro gun people this is my usual experience.

James K said...

Jimmy Blue:

Now now, there is no need to insult me by comparing me to an creationist.

I've been looking of the place I read about the murder stats, but I can't find it so consider point #2 withdrawn, you have no reason to take me at my word.

And your attempt at answering my point 3 is talking past me. How is "some people like to shoot" not a good justifications? Bringing people pleasure is at bottom one of the best justifications for anything. If you reject that premise, I don't know what a justification would even look like.

I also noticed that you haven't made any atte. If that's not what you are proposing, feel free to correct me.

Jimmy Blue said...

Sorry James K, but if you use the tactics of creationists you'll get compared to them.

I've been looking of the place I read about the murder stats, but I can't find it so consider point #2 withdrawn, you have no reason to take me at my word.

That's good, because I looked up the crime figures and they didn't support you. The fact that you are willing to withdraw the point at least sets you aside from creationists, so I withdraw that!

How is "some people like to shoot" not a good justifications?

For the reason I gave Dunc, some people like doing lots of things that are wrong, but they are also banned. Some people would like to drink and drive, some people like to force women to have sex with them, some people like to have sex with children - but we ban them. Personal enjoyment has nothing to do with good law, common sense or as a reasonable argument in defence of something.

And please remember, I like to target shoot as well. I get personal enjoyment from target shooting.

Bringing people pleasure is at bottom one of the best justifications for anything.

Sorry, but this is simply nonsense. Just think about what you are saying and note the examples I gave above.

If you reject that premise, I don't know what a justification would even look like.

If you accept that premise, then what do you reject?

I also noticed that you haven't made any atte. If that's not what you are proposing, feel free to correct me.

Not quite sure what is missing here!

James K said...

Jimmy Blue:
Bringing pleasure is the best reason for anything, what is life for, but to find pleasure in it? If there are large offsetting harms in an action, then there may be space for controls on those things, but only if the harm is clearly established and the control proposal can be demonstrated to work.

The part of my last comment that was missing was that you haven't spelled out what you are proposing. I'm a policy analyst by trade, so when someone talks about a social problem, I think about what solution they advocate. Are you calling for a total gun ban? Some other specific form of control? Are you just saddened by the number of gun deaths in the US? Its hard for me to engage with your arguments without understanding what you propose, and why you think it will help.

Jimmy Blue said...

James K:

Bringing pleasure is the best reason for anything, what is life for, but to find pleasure in it? If there are large offsetting harms in an action, then there may be space for controls on those things, but only if the harm is clearly established and the control proposal can be demonstrated to work.

I see. So, does jailing sex offenders prevent sex offences? Does this mean that there is no space for controlling these things? Do you believe that since sex offenders find pleasure in what they do it is up to the state to justify removing their liberty to commit their offences? How do you establish what a large offsetting harm is in relation to the pleasure? Why do you say there 'may' be space for controlling an action for which harm is the result?

What definition are you using of pleasure?

The part of my last comment that was missing was that you haven't spelled out what you are proposing. I'm a policy analyst by trade, so when someone talks about a social problem, I think about what solution they advocate. Are you calling for a total gun ban? Some other specific form of control? Are you just saddened by the number of gun deaths in the US? Its hard for me to engage with your arguments without understanding what you propose, and why you think it will help.

I merely began on this thread by asking why citizens need to own guns and as yet no-one has given a sound reason that they have been able to justify with evidence.

I see this as no different to any other skeptical argument and so take the null position in this argument - if you can't show that people need to have guns or should, then they don't.

For instance, I don't have to prove there is no God or that acupuncture doesn't work, the believer or woo has to explain why they do.

Likewise, I don't have to show that private gun ownership is unnecessary - you have to explain and justify why it is necessary or justifiable, you're the one making the claim.

Dunc said...

And yet you still can't give a reason why firearms ownership is a necessary freedom to me

There are no "necessary freedom[s]". Freedom is not necessary.

I see this as no different to any other skeptical argument and so take the null position in this argument - if you can't show that people need to have guns or should, then they don't.

Well, that's where we differ. I view the null position as "everything is permitted". If you think something should not be permitted, the burden of justification lies on you.

The fundamental philosophical question we're dancing around here is this: does the state have to justify restrictions of liberty to it's citizens, or do the citizens have to justify their liberties to the state? Is the default "everything is permitted", or "nothing is permitted"? I take the former, you take the latter.

It seems we have a disagreement on fundamental axioms. Such differences tend to be irreconcilable.

James K said...

Jimmy Blue:
I see this as no different to any other skeptical argument and so take the null position in this argument - if you can't show that people need to have guns or should, then they don't.

"Do people have aright to won guns?" is an ought question, not an is question. The rules about null hypotheses apply only to is questions. This is the danger of naively apply physical science methodology to social science questions. Scepticism, reason and evidence are all useful, but things are always more complicated when dealing with human questions. Its P Z Myers' seeming inability to grok this that makes him unreadable (for me at least).

To have a proper hypothesis, let alone a null hypothesis you have to have a factual question. "Does gun control significantly reduce violent deaths?" is a factual question, the null hypothesis is no.

Jimmy Blue said...

With apologies to Bronze Dog for stealing his idea and stealing the debate my responses were getting so long that they wouldn't fit in a comment, so I made a blog post:

Of Guns and Skeptics

Be warned, I am not my usual charming self...

Jabari Gayle said...

Gun control has become a popular topic in debates over the last couple months because of the recent tragedies taken place across the country. It has gotten to the point where politicians argue about gun control almost every debate they have. Recently President Obama’s bill for background checks before you purchase a gun got shot down by the government, which upset a lot of people including me. There is no efficient way to control who can get their hands on a gun. The only way would be to make guns illegal to have period. Of course that will never happen, but what President Obama is trying to do is one of the few ways to effectively help the out of control gun situation we have in America today. President Obama does not want to take guns out of America’s hands, he wants to regulate who sales the guns and regulate who the gun owners sell to. There would be mandatory background checks for anyone who wants to by a weapon legally and if the owner sells a gun to a convicted criminal, or a person with a violent history, or a minor, or just someone who has a history of a mental illness then the owner will be held responsible for whatever crime that person commits. This is one of the most reasonable ways to help the gun problem in the U.S. right now. There has been a lot of talk about the ban of assault rifles and deadly ammunition which has also angered many Americans. The reason being is because citizens of America that oppose the ban of assault rifles feel that it is there legal right as a U.S. citizen to own whatever type of gun they want to own, including an assault rifle. The second amendment, the right to bear arms, is the defense against this ban. A bill to ban assault rifles will not be backed by many Americans or politicians because of this amendment. The Constitution cannot be changed and the government will never change it because the whole nation will have an uprising. Since guns cannot be banned the next logical step to take to try to cut down on mass shootings is background checks. This in no way will eliminate the illegal Gun Black Market, but it will make licensed dealers responsible for the guns that people buy from them. Families from the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting have been lobbying for tighter gun control policies, and Americans want something done about these mass shootings being performed by mentally unstable people but they don’t support the bills that are trying to be passed to do so. Americans should look at the bigger picture and see that this is a necessary step to take in order to protect and secure the lives of our loved ones. If your child or family member had been shot down at a young age in an elementary school that is supposedly a safe place for children, what would you do?