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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:41 PM
Original message
An interesting anti-gun essay to review...
the essay is entitled A Case for Gun Control by Jason Gottlieb

and can be found at http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~zj5j-gttl/guns.htm I found the writer presented most of the good arguments for gun control and his article should be required reading for the anti-gun posters on DU so we can move beyond the sad insults and the obligatory penis reference in many discussions on guns. Note that the essay is slightly dated and doesn't discuss the latest Supreme Court ruling.

Since I am pro-gun, I disagreed with much of the essay and found some parts hilarious. For example:

Women's self-defense

Women's self-defense implies that since women are physiologically weaker than men, guns are the great equalizer, and women can use them to protect themselves. I think perhaps it would be best to leave this discussion to the women, don't you? The following women's associations have come out in support of the Brady Bill, which mandates a waiting period and background check on firearms purchases:

American Medical Women's Ass'n, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Int'l Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, League of Women Voters of the United States, Nat'l Council of Jewish Women, Nat'l Council of Negro Women, Nat'l Organization for Women, Women's Nat'l Democratic Club, Women Strike for Peace, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), Women's Int'l League for Peace and Freedom, YWCA of the U.S.A.

If this many women, from a cross-section of society, support gun control, perhaps women do not perceive a need to own a gun, and male lawmakers and critics have no right to claim otherwise.


If you want to leave the discussion to women than poll women not organizations such as Women Strike for Peace or Women's Int'l League for Peace and Freedom. That would be like a pro-gun organization using the NRA, Gun Owners of America or Armed Females of America as a source for the opinion of all women. (Yes, there is a site called Armed Females of America at http://www.armedfemalesofamerica.com /)

The most interesting thing is that I agree with much of the writer's proposal for rational gun control:

1. A national system for registering guns and ammunition. Part of the reason New York City has stiff gun laws and high gun death rates is that anybody can go from New York to a state with less restrictive laws, get a friend who lives in the state to buy the guns for them, and take those guns back to NYC. (Yes, I am aware this is illegal, but it happens.) First, a national system would prevent this by scaring those "friends" into not buying the guns legally and selling them illegally, for if the guns are used in an illegal crime, that person can be held accountable. Second, a national system would be more helpful in tracking crimes after they have happened, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

2. Instant background checks on people attempting to buy guns or ammunition. Brady is still patchwork, and does indeed have its flaws in tracking felons. Felons and ex-cons should not have access to weapons, and many misdemeanors and juvenile crimes should also count against a person's record.

3. Stiffer sentences for gun crimes. This has been the position of the NRA for quite some time, and it is certainly one with which I agree.

4. Gun education. Many guns are involved in accidents that could easily have been prevented by a little care or forethought. Perhaps gun purchasers should be required to take lessons in gun safety, at the purchaser's expense. Again, the NRA has long been a proponent of gun education.

5. General education. Study after study has concluded that there is a direct correlation between lack of education and violent crime. Every dollar spent on education now will prevent countless dollars worth of crime damage in the future. Think of all the private and public funds used to pay for gun violence -- hospital bills, funerals, insurance bills, the actual cost of buying firearms. Now invest that money in education, and watch the crime rate drop.

6. Hand grip ID tagging. This is technologically probably still in the future, but it would be a good goal to work for. The theory is, each gun is "registered" to one's person palm prints (the legal purchaser of the gun), and only that person can fire that gun. If another person tries, the gun simply will not fire. Thus, stolen guns become useless, and cannot be used to harm anybody in the course of a crime.


I disagree with gun registration as it leads to gun confiscation. This has happened recently in several states and no matter what the advantages, I simply can't buy into the idea as I know damn well that gun-grabbers will misuse the registration scam again in the future. History does repeat itself.

The concept of Hand grip ID tagging is interesting but I can see numerous problems. Often at the range, the range master or a fellow shooter would try one of my guns, or I would try one of his. Some way would need to be found to work around this issue. Also Murphy's Law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the worst time. You wake up in the middle of the night when you hear someone breaking into your home and you grab your self defense firearm. The intruder attacks you and you aim and pull the trigger on the weapon and it malfunctions, leaving you with a club.

However, I agree with his other suggestions. If most other anti-gun proponents thought like this individual, we could possibility reach some agreement and draft legislation that would accomplish some good for a change
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:46 PM
Response to Original message
1. I agree with points 2 - 5; 6 is OK as long as it isn't mandatory
Background checks on sales of all used guns would be helpful, but it's politically impossible. Make NICS available for private sales, and anyone who fails to use it and sells to a prohibited person would have no excuse.
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Taitertots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:53 PM
Response to Original message
2. How many women are members in those organizations?
How many women are paying members of the NRA?
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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 03:53 PM
Response to Original message
3. we should indeed move beyond the sad insults -- from the pro-gunners, as well...
Interesting reading... glad to see there are at least points we can agree on...

Thanks for posting...
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I agree. Insults are immature...
And I believe there are points we can agree on that will enable legislation to pass that will save lives.
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Fresh_Start Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
4. please delete
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 05:06 PM by Fresh_Start
thank you
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TheWraith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
6. My reaction.
"1. A national system for registering guns and ammunition. Part of the reason New York City has stiff gun laws and high gun death rates is that anybody can go from New York to a state with less restrictive laws, get a friend who lives in the state to buy the guns for them, and take those guns back to NYC. (Yes, I am aware this is illegal, but it happens.)"

Yes, and if you require gun registration, then that's STILL going to happen. All that a person has to do is report the gun lost or stolen. Again: registration only bothers the people who OBEY the law. The people who choose not to can very easily get around it.

"First, a national system would prevent this by scaring those "friends" into not buying the guns legally and selling them illegally, for if the guns are used in an illegal crime, that person can be held accountable. Second, a national system would be more helpful in tracking crimes after they have happened, to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Most crimes involving a gun take place with illegal guns, which would therefore be unregistered and impossible to track. It would not result in any substantial increase in arrests.

"2. Instant background checks on people attempting to buy guns or ammunition."

Guns, yes, which we already have. Ammunition, no. Requiring a background check on ammunition just immensely complicates routine transactions. I don't need to show my driver's license when I buy gas, and having to take 20 minutes in line if you want to buy some ammo is not going to seriously deter criminals. Again, the people who would be most inconvenienced are those who use their firearms for reasonable, lawful purposes like recreational target practice, which means going through hundreds or even thousands of rounds a month. Whereas a criminal can go months or even years on a single box.

"Felons and ex-cons should not have access to weapons, and many misdemeanors and juvenile crimes should also count against a person's record."

Depends on what kind of crimes we're talking about. Violent crimes, I'd tentatively agree.

"3. Stiffer sentences for gun crimes. This has been the position of the NRA for quite some time, and it is certainly one with which I agree."

It would be a start just to get DAs to actually prosecute people for illegal weapons.

"4. Gun education. Many guns are involved in accidents that could easily have been prevented by a little care or forethought."

While safety is always necessary, a minimum competancy check would be better than mandatory training, since otherwise it would be a waste of time on people who already know how to handle a gun.

"5. General education. Study after study has concluded that there is a direct correlation between lack of education and violent crime. Every dollar spent on education now will prevent countless dollars worth of crime damage in the future."

Yes. Though viewing it solely as an education problem is an incomplete perspective--it's also about poverty, and while education reduces poverty one also has to make sure that there are the jobs available for those educated kids.

"6. Hand grip ID tagging. This is technologically probably still in the future, but it would be a good goal to work for. The theory is, each gun is "registered" to one's person palm prints (the legal purchaser of the gun), and only that person can fire that gun."

A fun idea, but FAR too high tech to be reliable at this point, not to mention there are logistic problems. How do you power the scanner? How reliable is it? What proceedure is there to reset it in order to sell the weapon, and how hard would that be to do without the owner's approval?
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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:00 PM
Response to Original message
7. Out of date references, but some good ideas..
Anyone who takes seriously the '43x' & '2.7x' myths is suspect to me.

Two legal precedents cited are from dicta (Quillici & Stevens), and a strict reading of Miller would go against the conclusion he's trying to make (contrary to popular grabber usage, Miller says that only those weapons used / useful for military action are protected. I want my mortar, please!)

Re suicide, substitution absolutely does occur. See Japan. A gun makes the attempt more likely to succeed, though.

#2- fine for guns, forget ammo- another attempt to regulate out of existence.

#3- agree

#4- recommended, but not required. Again, too easily manipulated by setting the standards for the class too high, limiting availability to the class, number of participants, etc- just like 'may issue' leads to 'shall infringe'.

#5- agree

#6- forget about it- even if technically feasible, not enforceable (replace the grips), too prone to error (greasy hands, eroded fingerprints due to cuts and scratches or work with strong chemicals- my dad was a stone mason and had basically _no_ fingerprints due to the rough stone and muriatic acid), how do you 're-authorize' a new owner, etc.
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. The reason I supported the educational requiremet...
was that I remember several instances where people brought firearms to the range I usually shot at to try. Noticing a lack of confidence, the range master would ask to see the weapon. When the people showed him the weapon, he would politely ask them if it was loaded.

The scary part was when they replied, "I'm not sure." He then would ask, "Do you know how to check?" They would answer, "Not really."

Often these weapons were small semi-auto pistols which the person had bought at a gun store. The gun store dealer probably showed the person how to operate the firearm, but over the years they had forgot.

I was thinking along the lines of a computer class which you would have to pass before being allowed to purchase a firearm. After passing this class, the individual might be required to demonstrate safe gun handling especially for the type of firearm they were purchasing at the gun store before picking up a firearm. The computer class would provide the basics, but hands on would also be a good idea. This idea has several holes and I would welcome better ideas. (Technically, I would like to see everyone who purchased a handgun have to go through the process to get a concealed carry permit. Obviously, this would be impossible or at the best create an enormous backlog of people waiting to buy a firearm.)

On statement #2, I missed the reference to ammo. That obviously is a no starter.
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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:44 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. If there weren't such a variation in handguns..
.. I could see mandating a flyer / handout sold with all new guns, and made available to folks for free at police stations, court houses, and gun stores- list the four rules, demonstrate how to check / clear handguns, shotguns, and rifles.
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PavePusher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Every gun I've ever bought N.I.B....
long or short, came with an owners manual that described loading, operation, unloading, safety checks and cleaning. I've never seen one that didn't.
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 10:40 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. many people purchase used weapons...
but the instructions are often available on the internet.
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Euromutt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 11:55 PM
Response to Original message
12. There's a bit of "gun-aversive dyslexia" in that piece...
...causing the author to make a number of utter howlers.

And naturally, there are the non-lethal injuries from firearms as well. These non-lethal injuries have actually been going down recently, but this is not because the number of shootings is going down; but rather that emergency room doctors and technology are getting better equipped to deal with gunshot victims.

If the number of shootings remains stable or even increases, but advances in medical science mean that GSWs are less frequently fatal, it follows that the number of non-fatal GSWs would go up, not down.

In addition, although we hear a great deal about the tens of thousands who die from gunshot wounds, we don't hear enough about the countless tens of thousands of others who are injured by gunshot wounds.

If you know it's "tens of thousands"--as opposed to, say, hundreds of thousands or even millions--the number can logically not be "countless." And indeed it is not, as a quick perusal of the CDC's WISQARS database (http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html ) shows. In 2007, there were 69,863 reported instances of nonfatal injuries as a result of GSWs. If you want to call that "countless," then in what terms could you possibly describe nonfatal injuries due to traffic-related causes, which numbered 3,224,483 that same year?

This study (Arthur Kellermann et. al., "Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home," The <sic> New England Journal of Medicine, October 7, 1993, pp. 1084-1091) has been much maligned by the gun lobby, but despite repeated efforts to tar it as non-scientific, its publication in one of the most respected peer-reviewed journals in the world is just one indiciation <sic> of its soundness.

That study, like most of Kellermann's other work, has not only been "maligned by the gun lobby," it's been thoroughly savaged by criminologists, though perhaps the single most succinct yet damning response came from the grad students who were members of a statistics class. In a letter to the editor of the NEJM, they asked: "In how many of the homicides was the victim killed with a gun that was kept in the house rather than a gun that was brought to the house by the perpetrator?" This question is of crucial importance to the study's findings, as there can be n causal link between possession of a firearm and a homicide occurring if the weapon used in the crime was not one kept in that house. Kellermann has never given a straight answer to this question. And indeed, the reason the question had to be asked in the first place was because Kellermann initially refused to release his research data, before eventually (after four years) releasing a dataset of dubious validity. From analysis of this dataset, it emerged that in at most 34% of the gun homicides studied, the firearm used to commit the killing was one kept in that household. Of overall homicides studied, ~4.5% involved a person being killed using a firearm kept in that person's own home.

The fact that this study was published in the NEJM is no "indiciation" of its soundness. John Ioannidis published a study in 2005 titled "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?too... ), couching the same conclusions in more diplomatic language in a study titled "Contradicted and Initially Stronger Effects in Highly Cited Clinical Research," published in the JAMA the same year (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/294/2/218 ). Generally, publication in peer-reviewed scientific literature is an indication that the science used to produce the findings was sound. But only an indication. In the case of Kellermann's work in general, and this study in particular, the fact that the NEJM accepted this study without the research data and despite its obvious flaws is actually more of an indicator that the NEJM, like several other medical and public health journals, has an editorial bias in favor of any study that concludes that Guns Are Bad. If anything, the publication of this study in the NEJM reflects badly on the journal, not positively on the study.

The author repeatedly uses the phrase "research has shown." This is common canard, but a canard nonetheless. A single study never shows anything; what matters is replicability by someone other than the original author. The fact that Arthur Kellermann keeps cranking out papers that all come to the same conclusion is a strong indication that this is due his working toward a predetermined conclusion (which is bad science, our author's protestations notwithstanding) rather than that Kellermann's work is sound.

Obviously, there is a problem with criminals having access to guns, which is why so many people feel they, too, need a gun for self-defense. But this is a vicious cycle: FBI Crime Reports sources indicate that there are about 340,000 reported firearms thefts every year. Those guns, the overwhelming amount of which were originally manufactured and purchased legally, and now in the hands of criminals. Thus, the old credo "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" is silly. What happens is many guns bought legally are sold or stolen, and can then be used for crime. If those 340,000 guns were never sold or owned in the first place, that would be 340,000 less guns in the hands of criminals every year. Part of the reason there are so many guns on the street in the hands of criminals is precisely because so many are sold legally. Certainly, there will always be a way to obtain a gun illegally. But if obtaining a gun legally is extremely difficult, the price of illegal guns goes way up, and availability goes way down. Thus, it is much more difficult for criminals to obtain guns.

Even if all the above were correct, it would still not make "the old credo 'when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns' <...> silly," for the simple reason that, even if the outlaws were to have fewer (not "less," dammit, "fewer") guns, they'd be the only ones to have to have them.

Moreover, on this forum, we've repeatedly been over how difficult and expensive it is for a criminal to get hold of a firearm in a non-permissive legal environment; from the UK we know it's not. According to this article from last year in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/aug/30/ukcrime1 on the British black market, a Russian tear gas pistol reconverted to fire live rounds costs 1,000-1,500 including a silencer, an unused 9mm automatic costs 1,500, a Glock about 2,000, and sub-machine guns can be had, albeit at higher prices (though probably not much more than they cost legally in the US, where the going rate for a MAC-10 is ~$4,700, and ~$9,000 for an Uzi).

I'm not in the mood for a full fisking, but I think I've provided some evidence that the whole piece is awfully tendentious, with evidence more or less cherry-picked by glossing over the glaring flaws in research with findings detrimental to private firearms ownership and emphasizing or overstating the flaws in research which reflect positively on private firearms ownership. Or, indeed, ignoring it all together as inconvenient: there's not so much as mention of the more than a dozen studies that indicate that the number of defensive gun uses annually outnumber the number of violent crimes committed using guns. I'm just not inclined to take it seriously.
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:08 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Granting everything you've mentioned, it's still an excellent essay...
by anti-gun writer.

Far superior to most I've read recently.
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