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Wed May 7, 2014, 03:14 PM

What does this quote mean to you?

I found it on a Canadian gun rights website while looking for something else. I have no idea who this Jeff Snyder is, other than he wrote an essay that can be purchased on Amazon, and seems to be obscure enough that this individual with that name doesn't come up in the first several listings and any search engine I tried. I actually don't care who he is because I am only interested in the specific quote.
"To ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow... For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals. Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding."
-- Jeff Snyder, Oct 20, 1994


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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply What does this quote mean to you? (Original post)
gejohnston May 2014 OP
Prophet 451 May 2014 #1
gejohnston May 2014 #4
Prophet 451 May 2014 #5
gejohnston May 2014 #10
Prophet 451 May 2014 #11
gejohnston May 2014 #12
Prophet 451 May 2014 #13
gejohnston May 2014 #14
blueridge3210 May 2014 #2
Prophet 451 May 2014 #6
blueridge3210 May 2014 #8
Prophet 451 May 2014 #9
blueridge3210 May 2014 #15
Prophet 451 May 2014 #16
blueridge3210 May 2014 #17
Prophet 451 May 2014 #18
blueridge3210 May 2014 #19
Prophet 451 May 2014 #21
gejohnston May 2014 #20
Prophet 451 May 2014 #22
gejohnston May 2014 #23
Prophet 451 May 2014 #24
gejohnston May 2014 #26
blueridge3210 May 2014 #25
tularetom May 2014 #3
Erich Bloodaxe BSN May 2014 #7

Response to gejohnston (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 03:21 PM

1. I would say it's somewhat naive

The problem with it is that no-one is born a criminal. The guy who goes nuts and shoots up a hotdog stand today was a law-abiding citizen yesterday. Yes, such people normally have been "ticking" for some time and, if anyone was willing to fund it, we could intervene before it got to that point. But what I'm saying is that if we take that quote to it's logical conclusion, we'd have no laws at all because criminals wouldn't follow them.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #1)

Wed May 7, 2014, 03:57 PM

4. while that does happen

it is very rare. Almost all murderers have long records of criminality and violence, which is something criminologists have known for decades. I found a paper written by Marvin Wolfgang in 1958 on the very subject.
If there is no laws, there are no criminals. Criminals are by definition those who break laws. If there are no laws to break, there can be no criminals.
It reminded me of a quote by William Burroughs. That is not to say that I would hold him up as any kind of responsible gun owner given his manslaughter conviction in Mexico in 1951. Long story short, he played William Tell with his wife. He forgot the part that a drunk with a pistol is not as good of a marksman as a sober person with a cross bow.
There is evidence that serial killers are born, not made.

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Response to gejohnston (Reply #4)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:14 PM

5. I'd like to see that evidence please

I'm about a year (of seven) away from my degree in Forensic Psychology. The debate about what creates a serial killer is long and complex but virtually always includes a history of abuse (either physical or sexual) during childhood, the "homicidal triad" (bedwetting beyond the age where that's common, animal abuse and arson) and, while not present in every case, head trauma is evidenced more often than coincidence would allow. If you find that paper by Wolfgang or can remember what journal it was published in, I'd be interested to read it.

With serial offenders, you're looking at a confluence of factors. Yes, some kind of mental birth defect possibly contributes but it's not as simple as "born or made". Both nature and nurture contribute to the individual in extremely complex ways, some of which are not yet fully understood.

Yes, if you had no laws, you would also have no criminals. But since neither of us is an anarchist (well, I'm not anyway), neither of us is proposing to get rid of laws entirely. I'm actually not in favour of banning guns or anything like it (although I do favour some additional sensible regulation), I was just pursuing the presented quote to it's logical conclusion.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #5)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:47 PM

10. IIRC Patterns in Criminal Homicide

I has been years since I have read it (high school term paper during the Carter years. Rural libraries are sometimes under rated. For a small town school, Big Oil kept it well funded and was able to attract the best teachers from not only Sweetwater County but as far as NYC. Alaska gives mails dividend checks, we fix roads and schools and keeps a rainy day fund.) My memory of the point may be off, but that is what I got out of it.
Personally, I think current laws need to made more sensible before we add any further federal regulations. For example, a single shot rifle or shotgun with a 15 inch barrel (in fact many "unrestricted" firearms in Canada) is more strictly regulated than an AR. That missing one to three inches of barrel puts it under the National Firearms Act instead of the Gun Control Act, meaning it falls under the same regulation as machine guns. That isn't sensible. Granted, I would make that provision more liberal, but it would still be more "sensible".
The reason why I say "sensible" instead of sensible is because it is a weasel word. It means whatever you want it to mean.
My view on guns is closer to Cesare Beccaria than Wolfgang's or Nugent's (who are polar extremes since Wolfgang would have supported disarming the police and "uninvent" them if possible.)

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Response to gejohnston (Reply #10)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:58 PM

11. Thanks, I'll look for the article

I think what needs to be done is to essentially scrap the existing firearms regulations and start again. The current legislation is a hodge-podge of various acts pushed by various people and bodies. The discrepancy you mentioned is just one example of that. Stuff I would support would be a ban on full-auto weapons, a mandatory test on basic firearms safety (which would give you a card which you have to show to buy a gun), closing the gun show loophole, age limits for unsupervised use, a ban on taking your gun into a bar (even in the Old West, they knew that was a bad idea), a federal gun trafficking statute and buy-back program and a few other small measures. That's what I mean by "sensible".

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #11)

Wed May 7, 2014, 05:31 PM

12. Most of that can't be done by federal law

Wyoming bans guns in bars, but that is not a federal issue. The states that do (including New York and California. Both of those states actually make Georgia's "guns everywhere" look restrictive) make it a felony to drink alcohol while armed.
There are very few privately owned machine guns and none of them have been used in a crime since the 1930s (since even Dillinger stole his from a police department, and Thompsons and BARs were usually stolen from police and National Guard, which had poor security standards back then, I would question the legally owned part). All of them are antiques. The only murder committed in about 80 years with a legal machine gun was a cop murdering an informant with a MAC-10 registered to the department.
There actually is no "gun show loophole" since most gun show sales are FFLs. Sales between private intra state sales would probably violate the Commerce Clause, which is why the Brady Bill has nothing to do with private sales. From the Wright/Rossi study in the 1980s, we know that criminals don't go to gun shows to begin with, and rarely get them from FFLs even before NICS.
There actually are federal anti gun trafficking statutes, they are simply written to not ensnare people with no criminal intent, which is why I suspect some ideologues support one that does.
"buy backs" do nothing other than piss tax money away on theater and create a market for rusted "been in the sock drawer for 50 years before grown kids discovered them."
I define "sensible" as actually doing some good other than simply having a law to look good.
While the test on basic gun safety is reasonable, would it be like something like the test for a Canadian minors permit (which allows 12-18 year olds unsupervised use of nonrestricted weapons and buy ammunition for rifles and shotguns), which is similar to hunter safety courses required in many states before getting the first hunting license, or what NYC does, create tests that are aimed at flunking people to deny them the card? Examples on the NYC test include "how wide is the flash gap on a revolver" and "how does a switchblade knife operate"? While I'm not opposed to the idea in principle, there would have to be safeguards to prevent places like Chicago and NYC from writing tests that serve no purpose other than discourage ownership.

age limits for unsupervised use
Most if not all states have those. On the federal level, it is 18 for handguns. However, in the US, a local cop has no obligation and often no right to enforce federal law unless there is a corresponding state law. That is why Denver PD hasn't been busting pot shops lately, and the feds don't want to bother.
The local cop could hold you for the ATF, but chances are they won't show and a US attorney won't bother with something that trivial.

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Response to gejohnston (Reply #12)

Wed May 7, 2014, 05:45 PM

13. The gun show loophole

From what I've read, about 40% of gun sales go through gun shows. That means there is no background check. Whether it would violate teh Commerce Clause, I don't know. As I'm British, the minutae of American law is unknown to me.

My intention with teh safety test is simply to ensure that everyone buying a gun has a sense of proper safety practices. Ironically, while the NRA would be dead-set against it, such a test would copy a lot of the content from their safety classes which are rather good. Something akin to the Canadian minors permit test would be ideal. I'm not interested in proposing a test that everyone would fail, just with ensuring decent safety practice.

I'm aware that there are very few privately held full-autos but since, as I said, we're throwing everything out and starting again, we would need to put that ban back into place.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #13)

Wed May 7, 2014, 06:11 PM

14. Actually no,

Based on your spelling, I assumed you were Canadian.
The US has a federal system, not a unitary system. Each state and territory is its own semi autonomous sovereign (to some degree, not to the degree Bundy seems to think). For example, I worked with a guy who was wanted in PA for grand theft auto. Since PA was not willing to pay to extradite him back, they didn't ask Wyoming to pick him up so they didn't have a duty to care. He eventually went back and turned himself in. Of course, the feds can enforce federal law anywhere. For example, local police respond to bank and gun store robberies as robberies. The FBI and ATF will also investigate because robbing a bank or a gun store are also federal crimes. Possessing a legal machine gun in the wilderness is not a federal crime, so the BLM, if on federal land, would not have any jurisdiction. However, should they come across a Wyoming game warden or county police and mention "I saw this guy" your day started to suck because it is a crime in Wyoming.
From what I've read, about 40% of gun sales go through gun shows. That means there is no background check.
The quote was that 40 percent are private sales without BGCs, the claim was based on a study in 1993, before the law was passed. If the seller at a gun show is a federally licensed dealer, there must be a background check. If between two private residents of the same state, then it is up to the state law or the gun show promoter's policy. Some states do require one, or have a licensing mechanism, and some promoters will have a designated license holder to do BGC for private sales.

Whether it would violate teh Commerce Clause, I don't know. As I'm British, the minutae of American law is unknown to me.
The Constitution's Commerce Clause and the 10 Amendment limits what the federal government can do, and what is defined by interstate commerce. If I sell a gun to another Wyoming resident without going through a licensed dealer is legal. If I sell one to Ted Nugent without going through a Texas licensed dealer or Sarah Palin without going through one in Alaska, I would have committed a federal crime.

My intention with teh safety test is simply to ensure that everyone buying a gun has a sense of proper safety practices. Ironically, while the NRA would be dead-set against it, such a test would copy a lot of the content from their safety classes which are rather good. Something akin to the Canadian minors permit test would be ideal. I'm not interested in proposing a test that everyone would fail, just with ensuring decent safety practice.
Yet the manufactures lobby, the NSSF, would probably be for it. The NRA does a lot of stupid stuff that I don't see the logic behind. They alienate most gun owners with the speakers, and the choices of music at the conventions. It is like they even believe the "old white rural guy" meme. Right now the NRA is pushing a bill that would force states to accept carry permits from any other states. Assuming manages to ever pass, which it won't, it would be, and should be, struck down as violating the 10th Amendment.

I'm aware that there are very few privately held full-autos but since, as I said, we're throwing everything out and starting again, we would need to put that ban back into place.
the reason for the large tax and extensive background check in the 1930s instead of a ban is because the backers of the law thought a ban would be ruled unconstitutional. Since the UK has more machine gun crimes than we do (and the rare one isn't done with legal antiques) I don't see the value of the law. While I'm not an anarchist, I believe restrictions should exist if, and only if, there is a demonstrable compelling public interest, meaning there must be empirical evidence that the restrictions on individuals are justified. I don't see it there. I'm not saying we should repeal NFA, but I don't see the social value of the ban.

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Response to gejohnston (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 03:34 PM

2. Target the laws to the unlawful behavior, not general activity.

We addressed the DUI issue by addressing impaired driving; not drinking or driving high performance automobiles. Had we attempted to demonize all who consumed alcohol or drove fast cars the result would have been less effective reduction in DUI injuries/fatalities as efforts would have been spread out and focused on those who were not the problem.

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Response to blueridge3210 (Reply #2)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:16 PM

6. It's questionable how well we've addressed that

A quick Google tells me that about 10,000 are killed by impaired drivers in teh US every year.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #6)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:25 PM

8. Out of 300+ Million?

The numbers have reduced greatly; while every death or injury caused by DUI is a tragedy the fact is that by targeting laws and enforcement efforts towards the actual bad actors we did effect a significant reduction in DUI injuries/fatalities. Of course we also created a cultural change regarding attitudes towards drunk/impaired driving.

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Response to blueridge3210 (Reply #8)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:36 PM

9. I think the cultural change had more effect, TBH

While it's popular to place the emphasis on laws and policing (partly because it's a damn sight easier and cheaper to change laws than change society), I honestly think that the change in cultural acceptance played a far bigger role in reducing DUI deaths.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #9)

Wed May 7, 2014, 07:22 PM

15. Oh absolutely.

One has to only observe the drug culture or drivers on the interstate that regularly exceed the posted speed limit for validation. LEO's routinely avoid stopping anyone not going at least 20 over the posted speed limit. I was distracted and did not post as clearly as I intended. My point was that to address the DUI issue we did not demonize those who were not causing the problem; no reference to "high capacity cocktails" or "assault muscle cars". The current approach to gun violence (attempting to ban certain magazines; focusing on pistol grips, flash hiders, bayonet lugs, etc.) is the functional equivalent of attempting to address the DUI issue by restricting mag wheels, spoilers and rag tops. I would posit that in the long run it is incredibly cheaper to change the culture than spend resources passing laws that cannot be widely enforced. YMMV. I very much appreciate the honest debate on the issue and look forward to learning more as the discussion continues.

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Response to blueridge3210 (Reply #15)

Wed May 7, 2014, 07:48 PM

16. I actually agree with extended clip bans

The logic behind that is that, on the rare occasions that someone does go "pop", it limits teh amount of harm they can do. When Adam Lanza had to change magazines, 11 kids escaped and when Jared Loughner had to change magazines, he was stopped. It's not going to impact legitimate gun owners but it does limit the damage that can be done when teh worst happens.

Now, beyond that, I think there needs to be some kind of change in the way society looks at and deals with firearms. Cops here have come up with a pretty good way of enforcing speed limits, btw: Cameras in likely speeding spots that take a picture, use it to match your numberplate and then send you a fine through the mail. It's gotten to teh point that even non-functional cameras reduce speeding.

The question is, how do we change the culture around firearms? I would suggest that a (reasonable) firearms safety test would help with that, instilling the message that a firearm is a tool that needs practice and respect to master.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #16)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:12 PM

17. And yet

Cho at Virginia Tech was able to continue his carnage with standard magazines. I believe that had the technology changed Lanza's tactics would have been different. While I'm not an expert on Sandy Hook my understanding is that, as gruesome as it sounds, Lanza shot repeatedly into the bodies of the deceased; lower capacity magazines would not likely have made much difference. Loughner's "mall ninja" magazine was his undoing; it jammed and he (thankfully) was tackled trying to clear the weapon. Had he practiced with standard capacity magazines the carnage could have been more extensive. I agree that addressing culture could be a more effective way to address some gun issues; not sure about criminal misuse as, by definition, criminals already do not conform to societal norms.

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Response to blueridge3210 (Reply #17)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:21 PM

18. Sure, but...

...No-one is born a criminal. If we follow that train of thought, we might as well get rid of laws entirely since that would, by definition, mean we'd have no criminals. When laws are made, you have to assume that the perp was, prior to teh commission of the crime, an average citizen. If the perp is determined enough, they could make their own magazine or even their own gun. I could make a crude firearm with my modelling tools, I'm sure you could as well. But to some extent, the object of these laws is to contain the damage when someone goes crazy.
Banning extended mags isn't going to mean there are no more massacres, it just reduces the damage the killer can do slightly.

What baffles me is how our society goes about changing gun issues. Running ads saying "don't shoot people" would likely be ineffective (except for provoking some Daily Show segments). I think something we need to do is try and change teh culture that accepts violence as a reasonable way of negotiating issues.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #18)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:44 PM

19. Not saying anyone is necessarily born a criminal.

As I understand most criminals begin deviating from societal norms in small ways in childhood/adolescence and by the time it is observed it is difficult (but not impossible) to change course. Many criminal "age out" of the lifestyle and decide that a law abiding lifestyle is simply easier. My issue with making laws is that they often do not address the actions of criminals, but instead change formerly law abiding persons into criminals when they have not done anything different. Is society really any safer when an 8 round magazine is suddenly illegal making the owner a criminal simply for owning it? I certainly don't expect to end all crime or massacres by changing a law or two; I do ask that the proposed legislation actually apply to criminal behavior and not just inconvenience the law-abiding for show. We'll probably have to agree to disagree on the magazine capacity issue; certainly not a constitutional issue but not likely to have any measurable effect on gun violence/negligence.

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Response to blueridge3210 (Reply #19)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:53 PM

21. Well, I think 8 would be too small

I agreed with a conservative friend that a reasonable limit would be 15. Anyway, leaving that aside...

Criminality often begins with small things during childhood or adolescence, that's true. It starts with minor stuff like shoplifting on a dare (something I did as an adolescent). When people suddenly turn to crime in later life, you're generally looking at one of two factors: Desperation (shoplifting food, for example) or mental illness (and, speaking as a mentally ill person, both our societies suck at caring for the mentally ill). There are exceptions, of course, but generally, it's one of those two. And many adolescents "age out". By the age of mid-thirties, most people are only committing minor crimes (smoking the occasional joint or sports gambling for example, both of which should be legalised).

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #18)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:52 PM

20. second Brit I have seen say something like that

I think something we need to do is try and change teh culture that accepts violence as a reasonable way of negotiating issues.
You think we have duels or something? That's absurd. We don't accept violence as a way of "negotiating issues" as a whole. There might be sub cultures and industries that do, but they don't exactly have access to the courts do they?
That misunderstanding is expected given the cultural filter UK journalist, or any journalists for that matter, has. Meanwhile, professional journalism is mostly dead, returning to the yellow journalism of the early 20th century and before. US media as largely lazy, dishonest, and unprofessional.

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Response to gejohnston (Reply #20)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:55 PM

22. No, not duels

I'm talking about the acceptance (in both our societies) of things like drunken brawling between young men.

That said, I agree entirely with what you say about media. Ours is just as bad (with the exception of the Beeb and even they're slowly succumbing).

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #22)

Wed May 7, 2014, 09:02 PM

23. Both of my older brothers and grandfather were cops in my

hometown the occasional bar fight provided a break from a otherwise dull night of driving around empty streets.

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Response to gejohnston (Reply #23)

Wed May 7, 2014, 09:08 PM

24. This might be a US/UK thing

Here, bar fights are pretty much just accepted as a normal thing.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #24)

Wed May 7, 2014, 09:24 PM

26. could be, there is even a couple of country songs about them

The nearest thing I came to anything like that was in college, a friend of mine (a student from Bangladesh) wanted to check out an oil field dive/strip bar called the A&D Saloon (they even sold a T shirt that said "I would rather fight and listen to you AD Saloon") for some reason. A couple of other guys went with us. This happened during the Iranian hostage crisis, there were a couple of drunk oil fielders who "wondered out loud" if he was Iranian. We got out safely using only the power of bullshit.

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Response to gejohnston (Reply #20)

Wed May 7, 2014, 09:14 PM

25. I don't know if it using violence to negotiate issues

or the inability to accept when one loses. This may be a lot of what drives the extreme incidents. Of course the 24 hour news cycle certainly does not help; any loser can become a household name by committing some act of mayhem. I remember hearing some time ago about a guy who bought all of John Wayne Gacy's (sp?) paintings in order to burn them so that there would be less of a "legacy" for him to leave behind.

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Response to gejohnston (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 03:38 PM

3. A grossly simplistic statement of an age old problem

Unfortunately, society does not control crime at all. An outright ban on firearms won't stop crime, nor will arming every "good guy" in the world.

Capitol punishment for the first offense of any sort might do it, but who wants to live in that kind of society.

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Response to gejohnston (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 04:18 PM

7. Not just anybody gets to buy many types of medical or

scientific devices. Does that mean that we consider everyone else 'guilty and lawless'? Or just that there are a number of items that are too dangerous to just put out there in the hands of the general public?

I think his quote means that "Jeff Snyder" looks at the world in a very binary fashion, where the only two choices are the two he himself decides upon.

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