Firearms

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Firearms

Postby Thesh » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:44 am UTC

I decided to open this thread for the political debate, so that the people who like guns can discuss them in General. I don't see a thread about firearms in this forum in the past year.

Anyway, I'll start. I understand how many people have an aversion to guns, and I understand why many countries ban them. My personal belief is that firearms are mostly used responsibly, and are a lot of fun when used as such. I like the idea of civilian gun ownership, both to protect the home of the civilian and in the unlikely case that the population needs to take to arm to defend their freedoms. For me, shooting is a sport and a hell of a lot of fun. I believe that gun violence is a symptom of other problems, mainly poverty.

If you look at the statistics of the UK after they banned guns, you will note that although gun violence went down, violence in general continued to climb. This says to me that there are other problems that continued to be ignored. The problem is that fixing society takes a lot of hard work, time, and money... People in general want quick fixes, as far as I can tell. That's what a gun ban is: a quick fix. A way for politicians to do something, without actually have to work on finding ways to fix the real problems.

I own four guns, the only thing I have ever fired them at is steel and paper targets. This applies to what is most likely the majority of gun owners in the united states, most of the rest being hunters. Only a very small percentage of the population actually has used firearms against other persons. Of course, these are the people we seem to focus on. Reduce violence in general, you will reduce gun violence. Improve the quality of life and you will reduce violence in general.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:06 am UTC

Thesh wrote:If you look at the statistics of the UK after they banned guns, you will note that although gun violence went down, violence in general continued to climb.

Will I? A citation would be nice. But from here we have something interesting, comparing England & Wales, Australia, Canada and the United States.

England & Wales: 8% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 1.45 per 100,000 people.
Australia: 16% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 1.57 per 100,000 people.
Canada: 34% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 1.58 per 100,000 people.
United States: 65% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 4.55 per 100,000 people.

Clearly Americans have a much higher rate of overall homicide and firearm homicide than that of comparable developed nations. It's a little rich to accuse England of ignoring underlying causes of violence when you read it that way, and regardless of your peaceful uses of firearms a disproportionate amount of your fellow citizens choose to use them to murder people.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Thesh » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:21 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Thesh wrote:If you look at the statistics of the UK after they banned guns, you will note that although gun violence went down, violence in general continued to climb.

Will I? A citation would be nice. But from here we have something interesting, comparing England & Wales, Australia, Canada and the United States.


I suggest you re-read my post, but if you want citations I will have to track them down. While the US statistics on violent crime are fairly easy to get, it took me hours to find government statistics for the UK the last time I looked (5 years ago). I will try and track them down by tomorrow, unless someone else can find them first. Per Capita violent crime rates from 1970 to 2000 for the UK is what I am looking for.

I don't think you can reliably say that if country A allows guns, country B does not allow guns, and country B has a lower homicide rate, then guns are the sole deciding factor for homicide rates.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:20 pm UTC

So, whenever you talk about citations for this sort of thing the name to turn to is John Lott. I had the chance to hear him speak and he has a rather honest approach to the data (that is, he was rather willing to point out where his supporters in the room were wrong and to defend the reporters who are part of media bias).

His data is collected in More Guns, Less Crime, or you could just read the title if you aren't into 500 pages of of justification. Instead of doing single-time comparisons, like Pez Dispens3r does above, he focuses on time changes across groups that change laws- for example, looking at Ireland before and after it increased gun control, and doing so for many countries, even island nations (so you can have guns flowing across the border as easily).

The startling thing is he hasn't found a single place where crime rates declined in a statistically significant way after gun control laws were passed. It's either no significant change, or an increase, and oftentimes the increases are dramatic. There are also significant decreases in crime after gun control is lessened- the murder rate in DC dropped 20% after the Heller decision.

One of the other points he discusses is that concealed carry is the best sort of gun law,* and that it's less significant than quality of police (and I would also imagine less significant than the combination of demographic variables that predict the prevalence of criminals). But it still makes for a major difference, and has not been documented to do harm.

*Criminals attack the vulnerable. Open carry makes the individuals who carry openly safer, but does nothing for people who don't carry. With concealed carry, the odds that any particular vulnerable person is armed are significantly higher than without concealed carry, increasing the costs of all kinds of violent crime.

It is also worth noting that the primary beneficiaries from concealed carry in America are poor urban blacks- which is why high fees for concealed carry permits can make the system much less fair and much less effective, by making the primary beneficiaries unable to protect themselves.
Last edited by Vaniver on Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:31 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Firearms

Postby morriswalters » Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:29 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:The startling thing is he hasn't found a single place where crime rates declined in a statistically significant way after gun control laws were passed. It's either no significant change, or an increase, and oftentimes the increases are dramatic. There are also significant decreases in crime after right to carry laws are passed- the murder rate in DC dropped 20% after the Heller decision.


Why would crime rates go down because of gun control?

Vaniver wrote:*Criminals attack the vulnerable. Open carry makes the individuals who carry openly safer, but does nothing for people who don't carry. With concealed carry, the odds that any particular vulnerable person is armed are significantly higher than without concealed carry, increasing the costs of all kinds of violent crime.
"

This gives way too much credit to the type of individual who commits crime.

Vaniver wrote:It is also worth noting that the primary beneficiaries from concealed carry in America are poor urban blacks- which is why high fees for concealed carry permits can make the system much less fair and much less effective, by making the primary beneficiaries unable to protect themselves.


Huh?

I suspect that Arizona's approach will become the National Model. They are a no permit state, no license to carry or permit to buy. Everybody is free to enter the game. It will be interesting to see how this works out. In any case gun control is really a moot point. There are so many guns that any attempt to control them is impossible. Look at the statistics on the crime rate in Alaska which is another state where no permit is needed to carry. Follow this link at the census.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:55 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Why would crime rates go down because of gun control?
I am under the impression that is the stated impression of gun control proponents- and so whether or not their methodology causes the results they want is a relevant issue.

morriswalters wrote:This gives way too much credit to the type of individual who commits crime.
That comes from court records and interviews. If you have data to the contrary, I am interested in it.

morriswalters wrote:Huh?
They are the ones living in the highest crime areas. If the white suburbs have a jump gun ownership rates and the black neighborhoods have no increase in gun ownership rates, then we should expect crime to flow from the suburbs to the black neighborhoods. If gun ownership jumps in both places, we should expect crime to decrease (either because criminals choose different jobs or move away).

morriswalters wrote:Look at the statistics on the crime rate in Alaska which is another state where no permit is needed to carry.
Alaska is a poor example because it is very different geographically, culturally, and demographically from the rest of the US. What works well there may not be what works well elsewhere.
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Re: Firearms

Postby DSenette » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:59 pm UTC

i find it humorous that people always claim that passing a law will prevent someone who was already planning on breaking several laws from doing so.

there's effectively a legal ban on purse snatching, it doesn't particularly stop people from snatching purses it just punishes people once they do. now, if the owner of said purse has a means of defending him/herself, then you've got a deterrent. the method of defense could be a gun, mace, a tazer, self defense classes or a trained raptor.

even in places that have concealed carry permits, criminals don't get them. it's EXTREMELY rare for a gun that's used in a premeditated crime to actually be registered to the person who happens to be carrying the weapon


also, most of the statistics on gun related deaths (in most countries) don't differentiate between: gun crimes involving unregistered/stolen/illegally obtained guns, registered/legally obtained guns, accidental deaths (which are sometimes run through the system as a homicide until everyone is cleared), crimes of passion/self defense, etc.. etc.. etc.. they just list them as death by gunshot.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:56 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Huh?
They are the ones living in the highest crime areas. If the white suburbs have a jump gun ownership rates and the black neighborhoods have no increase in gun ownership rates, then we should expect crime to flow from the suburbs to the black neighborhoods. If gun ownership jumps in both places, we should expect crime to decrease (either because criminals choose different jobs or move away).

Might this assertion be worth a few qualifiers? The National Academy of Sciences doesn't seem to think that any brand of analysis over carry statistics has actually demonstrated anything, and just from what you've said John Lott does look like he might tend to make a few rather extraordinary claims. Homicides and DC v Heller probably wouldn't be related in any short term anyway; why would a crime generally not associated with home invasion be directly associated with the decriminalization of keeping guns in the home? I might be able to buy something showing a drop in home-related crimes relative to other crimes outside of normal deviations, but a number like the one you quoted just seems meaningless.

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Re: Firearms

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:17 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Thesh wrote:England & Wales: 8% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 1.45 per 100,000 people.
Australia: 16% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 1.57 per 100,000 people.
Canada: 34% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 1.58 per 100,000 people.
United States: 65% of total homicides caused by gun violence, with a homicide rate of 4.55 per 100,000 people.


Clearly Americans have a much higher rate of overall homicide and firearm homicide than that of comparable developed nations.


Have you factored out the criminal element? I mean, the criminals that are the 'victim' of homocide. Roughly 3/4 of homicide via firearm victims have a criminal record. Maybe you lose sleep when two drug dealers kill each other. I don't.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:18 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Firearms

Postby morriswalters » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:18 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote: Why would crime rates go down because of gun control?


I am under the impression that is the stated impression of gun control proponents- and so whether or not their methodology causes the results they want is a relevant issue.

Effective, well enforced gun control laws could , over time, lead to a reduction in gun related crime. However considering the flood of guns available through all mechanisms, I hold no such hope. In any case there will always be crime.

Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote:This gives way too much credit to the type of individual who commits crime.


That comes from court records and interviews. If you have data to the contrary, I am interested in it.


Only anecdotal and personal. My house was broken into, a small TV, a bottle of Vodka, and a carton of Big Red(regional soft drink) were stolen. It would be hard to convince me that the culprits could score well on an IQ test. The notion that thieves take into account the possibility that their target could be armed implies a level of planning at odds with the nature of petty crime. Targets, are ones of opportunity, the isolated individual, the open window, ect. By that logic, Crime should drop in Arizona now. Time will tell.

Vaniver wrote:It is also worth noting that the primary beneficiaries from concealed carry in America are poor urban blacks- which is why high fees for concealed carry permits can make the system much less fair and much less effective, by making the primary beneficiaries unable to protect themselves.


Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Huh?


They are the ones living in the highest crime areas. If the white suburbs have a jump gun ownership rates and the black neighborhoods have no increase in gun ownership rates, then we should expect crime to flow from the suburbs to the black neighborhoods. If gun ownership jumps in both places, we should expect crime to decrease (either because criminals choose different jobs or move away).


Is it your opinion that Blacks are coming out of the Inner City to prey on the Suburbs? See this link. Particularly the section labeled Crime victimology.

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Re: Firearms

Postby DSenette » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:26 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote:This gives way too much credit to the type of individual who commits crime.


That comes from court records and interviews. If you have data to the contrary, I am interested in it.


Only anecdotal and personal. My house was broken into, a small TV, a bottle of Vodka, and a carton of Big Red(regional soft drink) were stolen. It would be hard to convince me that the culprits could score well on an IQ test. The notion that thieves take into account the possibility that their target could be armed implies a level of planning at odds with the nature of petty crime. Targets, are ones of opportunity, the isolated individual, the open window, ect. By that logic, Crime should drop in Arizona now. Time will tell.



just because someone broke into your house, stole some hooch and an awesome soda (Big Red FTW!!!! we called it "pop rouge" in louisiana) doesn't mean they didn't do an adequate (for them) risk assessment. at the time of the break in, was your home in a condition that would give someone the reasonable suspicion that no one was home (no cars, no lights, no TVs, etc...)? if so, then they didn't need to think past "no one is home". if your whole family was home having a party in the back yard when the break in occurred, then i'd be pretty sure that their risk assessment involved calculating the probability of someone in the house being armed.
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Re: Firearms

Postby big boss » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:40 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
If you look at the statistics of the UK after they banned guns, you will note that although gun violence went down, violence in general continued to climb. This says to me that there are other problems that continued to be ignored. The problem is that fixing society takes a lot of hard work, time, and money... People in general want quick fixes, as far as I can tell. That's what a gun ban is: a quick fix. A way for politicians to do something, without actually have to work on finding ways to fix the real problems.


This is a classic post hoc logical fallacy, in my opinion. Maybe there are other outside factors not considered that caused violence to increase, also what exactly do you mean by violence? There are many crimes that are not legally speaking "violent crimes" and I imagine that looking at the increase in the specific types of crime that increased in the UK during that period would tell a truer story than just saying violence increased in this period.
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Re: Firearms

Postby thc » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:00 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:*Criminals attack the vulnerable. Open carry makes the individuals who carry openly safer, but does nothing for people who don't carry. With concealed carry, the odds that any particular vulnerable person is armed are significantly higher than without concealed carry, increasing the costs of all kinds of violent crime.

It is also worth noting that the primary beneficiaries from concealed carry in America are poor urban blacks- which is why high fees for concealed carry permits can make the system much less fair and much less effective, by making the primary beneficiaries unable to protect themselves.


So you're saying it's the threat of self defense- not actual self defense that reduces violent crime rate? Does it need to be a lethal threat or just a significant threat? If the latter is true, then your conclusion should be advocating non-lethal defense such as pepper spray or tasers, not guns.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Spambot5546 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:03 pm UTC

thc wrote:
Vaniver wrote:*Criminals attack the vulnerable. Open carry makes the individuals who carry openly safer, but does nothing for people who don't carry. With concealed carry, the odds that any particular vulnerable person is armed are significantly higher than without concealed carry, increasing the costs of all kinds of violent crime.

It is also worth noting that the primary beneficiaries from concealed carry in America are poor urban blacks- which is why high fees for concealed carry permits can make the system much less fair and much less effective, by making the primary beneficiaries unable to protect themselves.


So you're saying it's the threat of self defense- not actual self defense that reduces violent crime rate? Does it need to be a lethal threat or just a significant threat? If the latter is true, then your conclusion should be advocating non-lethal defense such as pepper spray or tasers, not guns.

The very fact that you're proposing them demonstrates how much less of a perceived threat they are.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Thesh » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:08 pm UTC

big boss wrote:This is a classic post hoc logical fallacy, in my opinion. Maybe there are other outside factors not considered that caused violence to increase


Did you assume what my point was without even reading my post?

big boss wrote:, also what exactly do you mean by violence? There are many crimes that are not legally speaking "violent crimes" and I imagine that looking at the increase in the specific types of crime that increased in the UK during that period would tell a truer story than just saying violence increased in this period.


Violent crimes are crimes committed violently or using the threat of violence.
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Re: Firearms

Postby savanik » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:09 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Vaniver wrote:The startling thing is he hasn't found a single place where crime rates declined in a statistically significant way after gun control laws were passed. It's either no significant change, or an increase, and oftentimes the increases are dramatic. There are also significant decreases in crime after right to carry laws are passed- the murder rate in DC dropped 20% after the Heller decision.


Why would crime rates go down because of gun control?


The laws he's referring to are "Right to carry" laws, which means that people now are able to carry guns in an area which was previously denied. Put another way, it's a repeal of gun controls. He is attempting to link a decrease in crime with the repeal of the gun control laws in this case.

Concealed carry laws are considered more effective than right to carry, as well, because it extends the protective effect to anyone who might have a gun on them, as opposed to being able to clearly see who is and is not armed in the civilian populace.

There are so many factors that go into violence, it's hard to isolate any one factors. Take a look at New York City over the last decade. They've had a huge decrease in the amount of crime per capita under Rudy Guliani. Is this a result of his pushes for more stringent handgun control? Or is it because he was pushing on every front against crime, including police funding. How much of this decrease in crime was due to gun control laws?

I'm actually mildly perturbed - New York City's crime rate per capita is now lower than my smaller Midwest town. :)
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Re: Firearms

Postby thc » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:52 pm UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:
thc wrote:
Vaniver wrote:*Criminals attack the vulnerable. Open carry makes the individuals who carry openly safer, but does nothing for people who don't carry. With concealed carry, the odds that any particular vulnerable person is armed are significantly higher than without concealed carry, increasing the costs of all kinds of violent crime.

It is also worth noting that the primary beneficiaries from concealed carry in America are poor urban blacks- which is why high fees for concealed carry permits can make the system much less fair and much less effective, by making the primary beneficiaries unable to protect themselves.


So you're saying it's the threat of self defense- not actual self defense that reduces violent crime rate? Does it need to be a lethal threat or just a significant threat? If the latter is true, then your conclusion should be advocating non-lethal defense such as pepper spray or tasers, not guns.

The very fact that you're proposing them demonstrates how much less of a perceived threat they are.


How so?

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Re: Firearms

Postby ++$_ » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:02 pm UTC

I'm not really persuaded by the argument that criminals are less likely to target armed people. If you are in an American city, you are most likely to be killed if you are a gang member. You are also most likely to be armed if you are a gang member. Criminals in such cities don't seem to have any worries or fears about targeting other almost-certainly-armed gang members -- why would they have any fear of targeting armed civilians?
savanik wrote:There are so many factors that go into violence, it's hard to isolate any one factors. Take a look at New York City over the last decade. They've had a huge decrease in the amount of crime per capita under Rudy Guliani. Is this a result of his pushes for more stringent handgun control? Or is it because he was pushing on every front against crime, including police funding.
Or is it due to other factors entirely? (That's what the Freakonomics people suggest.)

This is the real problem: It's very hard to do controlled studies on the issue. I posted a link to this study in the other thread: Britt, Kleck, and Bordua, "A Reassessment of the D.C. Gun Law: Some Cautionary Notes on the Use of Interrupted Time Series Designs for Policy Impact Assessment," Law & Society Review 30 (1996), 361-380. I think it's a very carefully written paper. It basically points out that crime rates fluctuate dramatically over time. Suppose you want to advocate for gun control. You go find a town (say, Bobville) that passed a gun control law. The crime rate in that town will continue to fluctuate after the law is passed. You do your study at the right date, when crime is down. Of course, no one would publish that paper because it's too obvious what you are doing, so you add a control. This means you compare the crime rates in Bobville to the crime rates in nearby Alicetown, which has no gun control law. You find that Bobville's crime rates either declined by more than Alicetown's, or increased by less than Alicetown's, and claim victory. The problem is that if you wait a while, the situation will almost certainly reverse. Even when comparing two cities that are geographically close, the crime rates are not necessarily well-correlated. Of course, you can also fudge the data by choosing the best city for your purposes. If Bobville is also next to Crimeyburg, and Crimeyburg is currently experiencing a huge burst of criminal activity because everyone lost their jobs, you could use Crimeyburg as the control and get an even more favorable result. Needless to say, the opponents of gun control will not choose Crimeyburg as their control. They'll choose Gentrificopolis, where the crime rate is declining because a bunch of well-to-do people are moving into the city center. Alternatively, they could choose Alicetown and choose to do their study at a time when Bobville's crime rates are worse than those in Alicetown.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Spambot5546 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:03 pm UTC

thc wrote:
Spambot5546 wrote:
thc wrote:So you're saying it's the threat of self defense- not actual self defense that reduces violent crime rate? Does it need to be a lethal threat or just a significant threat? If the latter is true, then your conclusion should be advocating non-lethal defense such as pepper spray or tasers, not guns.

The very fact that you're proposing them demonstrates how much less of a perceived threat they are.


How so?

You are proposing these ideas specifically because they are less dangerous. Ignoring the reality of their ineffectiveness as self-defense tools (they work, but not as well as firearms) they are perceived as less dangerous. Your proposal of limiting people to less-lethal weapons for self defense is, in this context, tantamount to agreement that they are less dangerous.

This means that they will have less effect as a universal deterrent. A person may be willing to risk being TASERed or maced but not willing to risk being shot. To what extent i have no idea.
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Re: Firearms

Postby DSenette » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:13 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:I'm not really persuaded by the argument that criminals are less likely to target armed people. If you are in an American city, you are most likely to be killed if you are a gang member. You are also most likely to be armed if you are a gang member. Criminals in such cities don't seem to have any worries or fears about targeting other almost-certainly-armed gang members -- why would they have any fear of targeting armed civilians?

hardened criminals who are waging war against other hardened criminals are generally not deterred by the target being armed for a lot of reasons. one being that there is usually a situation of one side being outnumbered, one gang member would probably NOT go out and try to shoot 6 rivals by himself. typically when a gang shooting occurs (like a drive by) there are multiple people on the side of the shooter and the victim is alone (or at least has less people with him than the shooters). they also have to deal with the fact that if they're perceived to be weak because they went out to shoot someone but chickened out because the other guy had a gun too then they'll have much worse consequences waiting for them when they go back to their gang.

you can't really compare gang on gang violence to criminal on victim violence in this case

the casual criminal, or at least non-gang affiliated criminal is typically acting on their own so they have to be concerned if their target is armed (in any way) because they've got no one to back them up if things go bad. casual criminals/non gang criminals are also out for a specific gain/goal (like stealing your stuff), if they think you're armed then the risk associated with those gains is increased. if the gains aren't higher than the risks then they won't try to rob you
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Re: Firearms

Postby ++$_ » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:25 pm UTC

Do you have any evidence for the distinction you postulate between "hardened criminals," who presumably form gangs and shoot each other, and "casual criminals"?

Gang members are responsible for many crimes committed against the general public. See page 8 of this PDF document, which lists many of the crimes committed by gang members against non-members. Also see this article, in which a gang expert explains that gangs try to create fear among members of the general public by committing violent acts against them.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:24 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:The National Academy of Sciences doesn't seem to think that any brand of analysis over carry statistics has actually demonstrated anything,
I recommend reading the Appendix A dissent.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:I might be able to buy something showing a drop in home-related crimes relative to other crimes outside of normal deviations, but a number like the one you quoted just seems meaningless.
I agree that a single statistic in isolation is not an argument. However, I gladly point you to the body of Lott's research: there you will find arguments with more than isolated statistics, and he argues the points much more convincingly than I can.

morriswalters wrote:Effective, well enforced gun control laws could , over time, lead to a reduction in gun related crime. However considering the flood of guns available through all mechanisms, I hold no such hope. In any case there will always be crime.
Emphases mine. I hope we all agree that effective things will be effective?

I'm more interested in total crime than just gun crime. If you focus on just the subset, you risk making the whole situation worse by policies that improve the situation you're looking at. There are times when it is good to replace gun crime, even with more non-gun crime: replacing gun-powered domestic altercations with knife-powered domestic altercations is a significant win. But that's just one change wrought by gun laws, and we need to add up all of them.

morriswalters wrote:Is it your opinion that Blacks are coming out of the Inner City to prey on the Suburbs?
No, typically people commit crimes in areas they know well. While there must be at least some commuting criminals, I haven't seen anything to suggest that they're the majority. However, people do move- particularly if they're low-income and routinely evicted. It would be sensible for any worker to move out of an environment that pays less to an environment that pays more (where here, the income from crime includes a correction due to the cost of getting shot at).

thc wrote:So you're saying it's the threat of self defense- not actual self defense that reduces violent crime rate? Does it need to be a lethal threat or just a significant threat? If the latter is true, then your conclusion should be advocating non-lethal defense such as pepper spray or tasers, not guns.
I don't see how this follows. Obviously, people make decisions based on their perceptions of the future instead of the future itself, and so the threat is what potential criminals think about. But once in a violent situation, what methodology you use to defend yourself matters more than the threat.

Lott brings up Israel: the weapon of choice for terrorists used to be machine guns, before they switched to bombs. Shortly after Israel enacted a concealed carry law, four terrorists entered a mall with machine guns and began opening fire. Some members of the crowd pulled out handguns and began firing back- three of the four were shot dead, and the fourth seriously wounded. The EMTs in the ambulance later told reporters that on the way to the hospital the man was inconsolable, saying that no one had told him the Jewish grandmothers would shoot back at them.

The question, then, of whether to advocate pepper spray, tasers, or guns depends on which is more effective in the field.

++$_ wrote:Criminals in such cities don't seem to have any worries or fears about targeting other almost-certainly-armed gang members -- why would they have any fear of targeting armed civilians?
I would imagine that gang members preying on gang members and any criminals (gang or no) preying on non-gang members are rather different situations. I get the feeling that gang members have an idea of who other gang members are, know the threats involved, and know the stakes involved. The decision to shoot someone in another gang is, relatively, an informed decision. It is also far more likely to be involved with the drug trade- and thus the murder is over territory or cashflow instead of immediate benefit.

However, the decision to murder, rape, mug, or steal from someone who you don't know is an uninformed decision. The payoff is uncertain (the guy might have credit cards you can get thousands out of, or he might have $20) and the risk is uncertain (he might be armed, he might give up the wallet without a fight). The decision to commit crime against the general public is, relatively, an uninformed decision.

And so while it might make quite a bit of sense to kill a known person to acquire territory or maintain status, it might not make sense to attack an unknown person to acquire a small amount of cash. Or, that is, the number of times it is sensible to attack an unknown person should decrease when the costs of attacking them increase.

++$_ wrote:It basically points out that crime rates fluctuate dramatically over time.
I agree this is a significant issue. Lott's claim, which I do not have the data to verify, is that basically the results are either "no significant change" or "decrease in crime" when you allow concealed carry or the results are "no significant change" or "increase in crime" when you disallow concealed carry.

This is stating, though, that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, which is a very tricky proposition to make convincing (though done correctly it should be). I don't have enough data to evaluate Lott's claim- I am suspicious that "no" studies found a statistically significant result that disagreed with his position, since that should still happen, though just very rarely, if his position is correct. I don't know if that just hasn't happened yet, or if he dismisses studies that do show such an effect to unjustly strengthen his argument.
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Re: Firearms

Postby morriswalters » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:47 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote:This gives way too much credit to the type of individual who commits crime.


That comes from court records and interviews. If you have data to the contrary, I am interested in it.


Only anecdotal and personal. My house was broken into, a small TV, a bottle of Vodka, and a carton of Big Red(regional soft drink) were stolen. It would be hard to convince me that the culprits could score well on an IQ test. The notion that thieves take into account the possibility that their target could be armed implies a level of planning at odds with the nature of petty crime. Targets, are ones of opportunity, the isolated individual, the open window, ect. By that logic, Crime should drop in Arizona now. Time will tell.



just because someone broke into your house, stole some hooch and an awesome soda (Big Red FTW!!!! we called it "pop rouge" in louisiana) doesn't mean they didn't do an adequate (for them) risk assessment. at the time of the break in, was your home in a condition that would give someone the reasonable suspicion that no one was home (no cars, no lights, no TVs, etc...)? if so, then they didn't need to think past "no one is home". if your whole family was home having a party in the back yard when the break in occurred, then i'd be pretty sure that their risk assessment involved calculating the probability of someone in the house being armed.


At night. Other homes on either side within 15 feet. Next door neighbor liked to shoot his shotgun. Let's see, what they got was worth nothing, for which they risked arrest or death if things went wrong. Thieves are optimists, most of them do jail time. People who will rob your house will never get rich, they could earn more working at McDonald's than they can make off stealing. Yet with few exceptions they continue. Explain to me how they are smart, on any level.


The conversations above talk about deterrent effects and risk analysis. Neat talk. Try these scenarios.

Your walking down the street after dark away from a night spot, foot traffic is light. You go to get in your car. Someone moves up to you in the dark. by the time you are aware your are at risk, he is swinging a cudgel. Your hit, stunned, he strikes again. Your down, he has your wallet, and is gone in 30 seconds. Your lucky if all you get is a concussion.

And this. Someone breaks into you house, your asleep with your wife. He quiet, he get's into your bedroom, he beats you and you wife to death before you have time to realize what is happening. The next morning they find your bodies and can't find the gun you bought for self defense.

The thing is this, like most predators, people who will use violence against you are ready to do what they have to to win. They don't hesitate, they don't waffle, they have no controls, and they know in advance what they are going to do. You have to figure it out on the fly, in the dark and under attack. You can't shoot everybody who comes close to you on the street, nor can you carry the gun in your hand, cocked and ready at all times. He has the edge and most people can't overcome that.

Certainly people use guns successfully to defend themselves, just as certainly others try and die. In any case I don't worry about gang violence. They tend to target each other. I worry about that coworker, or neighbor who one day gets his gun and raises hell, or the family member who gets pissed and shoots me.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Thieves are optimists, most of them do jail time. People who will rob your house will never get rich, they could earn more working at McDonald's than they can make off stealing. Yet with few exceptions they continue. Explain to me how they are smart, on any level.
Just because someone is 'stupid' does not mean their intelligence is 0, and they may decide not to work at a McDonald's due to emotional issues rather than intelligence issues.

morriswalters wrote:The conversations above talk about deterrent effects and risk analysis. Neat talk. Try these scenarios.
I am uninterested in hypothetical scenarios when I have real data to look at. The past is more convincing than imagination.
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Re: Firearms

Postby thc » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:11 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:I don't see how this follows. Obviously, people make decisions based on their perceptions of the future instead of the future itself, and so the threat is what potential criminals think about. But once in a violent situation, what methodology you use to defend yourself matters more than the threat.

The question, then, of whether to advocate pepper spray, tasers, or guns depends on which is more effective in the field.

First, I'd dispute the assumption that firearms are actually more effective for self-defense than pepper spray or tasers without seeing some data on that. (Pepper spray is AoE is light and easy to carry. A gun is unwieldy and harder to use. If you shoot a guy in the shoulder, that might just piss him off and cause him to stab you in the face.)

Secondly, I was under the impression that actual "field" defense is not what's being discussed? Aren't we talking about guns as a deterrent? I simply mean to say that you can't make a definitive conclusion about gun laws until you can make a thorough comparison between guns and alternatives as a deterrent.

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Re: Firearms

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:34 pm UTC

First, I'd dispute the assumption that firearms are actually more effective for self-defense than pepper spray or tasers without seeing some data on that. (Pepper spray is AoE is light and easy to carry. A gun is unwieldy and harder to use. If you shoot a guy in the shoulder, that might just piss him off and cause him to stab you in the face.)


If the part about greater ease of use is true(has anyone else heard stories of people spraying themselves with mace they tried to use?); you still have to deal with the fact that I have a gun is a much greater deterrent then I can make your eyes sting.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:18 am UTC

While, there is some quality in the present discourse going on here about the effects Gun Laws have on crime levels, that is surely looking at the issue from only one side?

Let us say that a particular approach whether it be criminalisation or complete deregulation leads to better/worse crime levels? Is that the only factor to consider? Do citizens for instance have some moral right to firearms regardless of the utility this has for Society? Equally, should citizens not have guns, or be granted them only on some strictly regulated basis, on a Jurisprudential basis rather than merely one of reducing crime rates?

For instance, I would be personally unsettled by a society whose main mechanism of controlling crime is the ability of citizens to harm each other. I would rather see an efficient and competent State take that role. One might point out, that the latter option does not exclude the former. True. However, the adoption of the other, will inherently engender the attitude that people should behave in that way. I live in Ireland, as I was reading this thread I became fully aware of the fact that in parts of the U.S. amongst other places, it is not remotely far-fetched for every person you meet to have a concealed weapon with the potential to kill on their person. Where I live, the idea is one in which to indulge only in he worst fits of paranoia.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:54 am UTC

thc wrote:First, I'd dispute the assumption that firearms are actually more effective for self-defense than pepper spray or tasers without seeing some data on that.
I have heard that victim resistance with a gun is the most effective form, and more effective than victim passivity. (However, I believe when you average all forms of victim resistance, it is less effective than victim passivity.) Unfortunately, I am having difficulty finding citations to that effect at this moment- this has one buried inside it, but I don't know where to look in the NCVS to find it. There seems to be pretty extensive evidence guns are effective protection against rape for women.

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:be granted them only on some strictly regulated basis
The particular laws I'm talking about- concealed carry laws- require significant regulation in order to acquire a permit.

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:For instance, I would be personally unsettled by a society whose main mechanism of controlling crime is the ability of citizens to harm each other. I would rather see an efficient and competent State take that role.
While it would be nice to separate out Responsible Gun Users and Irresponsible Gun Users, the problem with identifying them (either through open carry laws or through restriction ownership to police) is that they're identified to criminals. My guess is police officers get mugged less than the general population.

You can see another effect when it comes to multiple-victim killings. Generally, this is a particularly violent form of suicide- about 3/4ths of the perpetrators do not leave the scene alive, and the majority of the remainder express during follow-up interviews that they intended to kill themselves. Multiple victim killings are significantly less likely in places with concealed carry than places without, and have significantly fewer victims in places with concealed carry than places without. That's because, when a maniac strikes, the odds that at least one person is able to respond immediately with force are pretty high if the area has a moderately sized group.

It's less dramatic, but this can be extended to smaller scale confrontations- having defense immediately available is much more useful than having the police being a phone call away.

That is- I agree that police officers are more effective at deterring crime than citizens. However, I do not think it is possible to have an omnipresent police force, and that is something that should be taken into account when discussing arming a portion of the citizenry.

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:I live in Ireland, as I was reading this thread I became fully aware of the fact that in parts of the U.S. amongst other places, it is not remotely far-fetched for every person you meet to have a concealed weapon with the potential to kill on their person. Where I live, the idea is one in which to indulge only in he worst fits of paranoia.
So... because you're uncomfortable around guns, they should be banned? Or what?

If anything, being comfortable around guns probably increases your chances when someone draws a gun on you, regardless of whether or not you're armed.
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Re: Firearms

Postby morriswalters » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:57 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Thieves are optimists, most of them do jail time. People who will rob your house will never get rich, they could earn more working at McDonald's than they can make off stealing. Yet with few exceptions they continue. Explain to me how they are smart, on any level.
Just because someone is 'stupid' does not mean their intelligence is 0, and they may decide not to work at a McDonald's due to emotional issues rather than intelligence issues.

morriswalters wrote:The conversations above talk about deterrent effects and risk analysis. Neat talk. Try these scenarios.
I am uninterested in hypothetical scenarios when I have real data to look at. The past is more convincing than imagination.


I had the misfortune to grow up in neighborhoods with a lot of these kind of people. They are not stupid in the sense that they can't learn, only in the sense that they don't have the skill set that comes from a better upbringing. Poor impulse control, a major in drug, or alcohol abuse. A family background to match. The smart ones find a way out. The next tier down will make up the menial workers of the future, and the rest will become what they become. They see us as weak and vapid. They know most crimes are never solved. But the connection they can't make is about the long term assessment of the odds. The more times they do a crime the more likely is is that they will get caught. So they keep going.

The two entities most likely to use deadly force use scenarios all the time, since it allows them practice and develop the instincts to keep them alive in these types of confrontations.

PS I didn't mean for this to become a tit for tat, I have not believed in Gun Control as a viable alternative for a while, there are too many guns. I practice the skills I learned when growing up. Don't look for trouble, keep your doors locked, and your home a place of mystery to people you don't know.

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Re: Firearms

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:21 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote: I live in Ireland, as I was reading this thread I became fully aware of the fact that in parts of the U.S. amongst other places, it is not remotely far-fetched for every person you meet to have a concealed weapon with the potential to kill on their person. Where I live, the idea is one in which to indulge only in he worst fits of paranoia.



And yet, in these parts of the U.S., there are generally not a whole lot of gun-battles going on in the streets, and you are not particularly more likely to be shot by anyone than in any other part of the U.S. (and according to John Lott's studies, you are actually significantly less likely to be shot)

I think a lot of people ignore or are not aware that in most states where a CHL (concealed handgun license) is obtainable, it actually takes some effort to get one, and even in a 'Shall Issue' state, is not a 'guarantee'. I find the Texas requirements to be particularly illustrative as
1. I am more familiar with them
2. the popular perception (justified or not) of Texas is as a state with relatively lax gun laws and
3. in my experience, the Texas CHL requirements are in fact relatively average amongst issuing states

in Texas, obtaining a CHL requires at least 10 hours of classroom time including the use of force, gun safety, gun storage, dispute resolution and Texas laws regarding use of force as a defense. All in addition to range time and demonstrated proficiency, fees and having your fingerprints, photograph and description entered into a database which makes it pretty easy for law enforcement to identify a CHL holder if they do commit a crime.
Also, Texas maintains this interesting report on conviction rates for CHL carriers vs. the general population for a variety of crimes.

Finally, this study indicates that as of the mid 1990s, gun owners collectively engage in around two million instances of self-defense using a firearm, however, in less than a quarter of incidents reported were shots actually fired (try matching THAT with a bottle of pepper spray).

Personally, I believe that better and more widespread firearm safety education is a better complement to the existing firearm regulations than more regulation. And by nature, gun control legislation can only ever hope to address a fraction of violent crimes, whereas addressing the underlying causes of violence has the capability to lower these crimes in addition to other forms of violent crime.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Charlie! » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:45 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Finally, this study indicates that as of the mid 1990s, gun owners collectively engage in around two million instances of self-defense using a firearm, however, in less than a quarter of incidents reported were shots actually fired (try matching THAT with a bottle of pepper spray).

The difference is of course that nobody has ethical qualms over criminals getting a facefull of capsacin. It would be a little more problematic if the proper use of pepper spray was to attempt to fatally wound someone with it. Basically, they fill different roles.

On the other hand, I wonder if any criminals use pepper spray or stun guns during their crimes - it certainly would be convenient in some situations. I guess they're really only good for robbery, burglary etc, since it's harder to threaten people with them.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Thesh » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:31 am UTC

Charlie! wrote:On the other hand, I wonder if any criminals use pepper spray or stun guns during their crimes - it certainly would be convenient in some situations. I guess they're really only good for robbery, burglary etc, since it's harder to threaten people with them.


Going up behind someone and zapping them with a taser would be very effective for mugging people. They are incapacitated for just long enough to take their belongings.
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Re: Firearms

Postby freaki » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

the problem with guns is that if you make them illegal, they just go underground- it's a widely known and stated fact that the majority of murders in the developed world which are gun-related are unlicensed guns.
it's the ultimate catch 22- if you make guns illegal there are less around, however most of the guns which are used for murder are owned illegaly anyway.

with this in mind, I feel that guns should be legislated heavily- I.E: you have to prove that you won't kill anybody before you're allowed the guns, and unlicensed guns should be dealt with as harshly as if the person was actually implicated in murder.
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Re: Firearms

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:27 pm UTC

freaki wrote:the problem with guns is that if you make them illegal, they just go underground- it's a widely known and stated fact that the majority of murders in the developed world which are gun-related are unlicensed guns.
it's the ultimate catch 22- if you make guns illegal there are less around, however most of the guns which are used for murder are owned illegaly anyway.

with this in mind, I feel that guns should be legislated heavily- I.E: you have to prove that you won't kill anybody before you're allowed the guns, and unlicensed guns should be dealt with as harshly as if the person was actually implicated in murder.


I'm not sure that follows, if the problem is that gun legislation only has a small impact on criminal gun usage, how could the solution possibly be /more/ gun legislation?

A better solution would be better enforcement of already existing legislation, especially making a concerted effort to target stolen or otherwise unregistered firearms as this will target the firearms most likely to be used in a crime without disproportionately effecting legitimate gun owners that are much less likely to commit crimes.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:34 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:I'm not sure that follows, if the problem is that gun legislation only has a small impact on criminal gun usage, how could the solution possibly be /more/ gun legislation?
I think they're hoping for an Al Capone argument- if unlicensed possession of a firearm is enough to lock you away for as long as murder, you can target gang members just for possessing a gun instead of having to find proof that they hurt someone else.
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Re: Firearms

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:47 pm UTC

where does that end though?
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Re: Firearms

Postby ++$_ » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:52 pm UTC

You don't need to lock anyone away for life. You just need to make the penalty for carrying an unlicensed firearm serious enough that it's not worth doing so unless you are planning to commit a specific crime. A lot of crimes (like drive-by shootings) are opportunistic.

The problem is that it's really hard to catch people with unlicensed firearms. They are small and easily concealed, and they don't look any different from licensed firearms at a distance, so even seeing someone with a gun doesn't constitute probable cause for a search. If you had a magic wand that would tell you whether someone was carrying an unlicensed firearm, then a prohibition on carrying without a license would probably be a really good solution, but magic wand technology is still in an early stage.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:46 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Bubbles McCoy wrote:The National Academy of Sciences doesn't seem to think that any brand of analysis over carry statistics has actually demonstrated anything,
I recommend reading the Appendix A dissent.

Did you? The author explicitly states that he is unfamiliar with econometrics and cannot make any bold conclusions about whether or not the NAS conclusion was completely proper, but believes that it would be worth doing a more thorough review of the NAS's methodology - not exactly the findings that you go around making strong claims about the comparative effects of different gun policy with.


Vaniver wrote:
Bubbles McCoy wrote:I might be able to buy something showing a drop in home-related crimes relative to other crimes outside of normal deviations, but a number like the one you quoted just seems meaningless.
I agree that a single statistic in isolation is not an argument. However, I gladly point you to the body of Lott's research: there you will find arguments with more than isolated statistics, and he argues the points much more convincingly than I can.

True enough, but when a supporter of a given interpretation decides to drop a stat that is blatantly irrelevant to the cause, it gives little reason to think of the interpretation as valid.

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Re: Firearms

Postby Vaniver » Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:42 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:Did you? The author explicitly states that he is unfamiliar with econometrics and cannot make any bold conclusions about whether or not the NAS conclusion was completely proper, but believes that it would be worth doing a more thorough review of the NAS's methodology - not exactly the findings that you go around making strong claims about the comparative effects of different gun policy with.
Yes, and I read their response to his dissent. The point is that they claim there were no conclusive results, although their data did show that RTC laws decreased murder. I will agree that there are enough concerns about the data that it is reasonable to not conclude any result- but I also think it is reasonable to conclude from the data and meta-analyses that I have seen that it is far more likely than RTC laws are beneficial than detrimental. That is, superior data and superior models could show the opposite, but what information we do have is positive value and points towards supporting RTC.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:True enough, but when a supporter of a given interpretation decides to drop a stat that is blatantly irrelevant to the cause, it gives little reason to think of the interpretation as valid.
I'm not sure I understand this sentence. I feel the change in crime after the Heller decision is relevant to the total question of gun legislation, but I agree that as an isolated statistic it serves to illustrate an argument instead of prove an argument. I'm neither dropping it nor declaring it irrelevant to the cause, though it may be to this conversation.
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Re: Firearms

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:23 pm UTC

My problem with the Heller statistic isn't that it is isolated, it's that the statistic just flatly doesn't support the conclusion that guns reduce crime. In the wake of Heller, you might expect more guns in homes and more exercising of them in the event of robberies if the decision did indeed decrease crime. The case overturned a ban on using guns in the home, not right to carry. So, unless the vast majority of homicides occur in personal dwellings, the number of homicides and the law concerning home gun ownership probably wouldn't have anything to do with each other. If someone then goes on to use this stat as a quick example from larger body of work that supposedly proves guns prevent crime, then I can't help but doubt the validity of the larger body's conclusions.


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