Firearm Homicides Dropping. Assault Weapons Ban Not Correlated With Decrease In Homicides. No Need For New Restrictions.

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Murder in the United States1 is illegal, and has been for over two hundred years. Strong penalties, up to and including the penalty of death, are incurred by those who commit this heinous crime.

Yet, strangely, despite murder’s high illegality, there were in 2011 over 12,000 of them committed! The largest number of murders were in 1991, with nearly 25,000 of these frowned-upon unlawful incidents.

It is difficult to imagine a penalty more severe than death, so it remains a curiosity that so many murderers are found when such strong laws are in place. Perhaps this scourge can be eliminated by even tougher laws?, say death by torture? Or maybe by creating Executive Orders bypassing the hindrance of Congress and Constitutional safeguards? We must protect the children!

But never mind. Let’s instead look at the number of murders and what devices were used in their commission.

This (Fig. 1), according to the FBI2 and the United States Census, is the per-capita murder and non-negligent manslaughter (hereafter, in a slight abuse of notation, just called “homicide”) percentage from 1960 to 2011 (data for 2012 were not yet available). Overlaid are the same percentages for just those bodies accumulated from deaths by any type of firearm.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The first notable is that the two rates track closely, so that whatever is driving changes in the one is likely (but not certainly) driving changes in the other. The second remarkable feature is the abrupt increase in the turbulent 1960s, and the subsequent decline as the people responsible for these cultural excesses began to enter their 50s and 60s, and even to die off in the 2000s and 2010s. The percent in 2011 was the lowest on record.

I want to repeat that: The homicide rate in 2011 was the lowest on record since 1960.

And that’s true for all homicides committed with firearms of any type; that is, the lowest number of homicides by firearm was in 2011—although I only could find data from 1975-2011.

Let’s repeat that, too: the lowest number of homicides by firearm was in 2011.

Is your first reaction panic? Deep concern? Do you feel in your gut the need to do something? Then I suggest switching to a decaffeinated brand.

Now let’s look at the shaded region on the plot, which is the time the Orwellian-named “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act”, i.e. “‘Assault’3 Weapons Ban”, was in force, from 13 September 1994 until the same date in 2004. There does not appear to be much correlation between this ban and the homicide rate: homicides both decrease and increase during the time which it was in force.

If you think there might be a correlation, then look at this plot (Fig. 2), which is the homicide rate for handguns, separated from other firearms4, knifes, blunt objects, and other instruments, which is a catchall including poisonings, strangulations, drownings, and similar forms of mayhem.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Each of these series exhibit the same pattern as the overall homicide rate. You may say the “assault” weapons ban lowered the rate of homicides committed with firearms, but then you have to explain why poisonings, strangulations and the like similarly decreased. It is of course possible that would-be murderers, feeling deprived of their loss of frightening-looking “assault” weapons were so forlorn that they lost the heart to add cyanide in their enemies’ tea, but it’s more likely that whatever was responsible for the general decrease in bloodlust caused both the decrease in firearm and non-firearm homicides.

Another possibility is that the number of shootings and other forms of violence remained constant, or even increased in recent years, but that people once wounded, because of improvements in medical science, are not dying at higher rates. This necessarily would decrease the homicide rate for the simple reason that if a person survives a shooting, he cannot be considered murdered. But this explanation is not plausible given that violent crimes (which includes attempted murder) are also on the wane, as shown here (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

There is some evidence that medical science might be the cause of some of the decreased homicide rate from this next plot (Fig. 4), which shows the percentage of homicides of all violent crimes: from a high of 3% to now around 1%. But since violent crimes as a whole are dropping, it is even more plausible that people are just becoming less bloody minded; i.e., less in the need of government control and regulation.

Figure 4

Figure 4

What should be particularly clear from the Figure 2 are two things: (1) homicides by any type are decreasing, and (2) handguns, and not “assault” rifles or indeed any other type of firearm, are always the most-used weapon. This plot (Fig. 5) emphasizes the significant role of handguns

Figure 5

Figure 5

This is a conditional plot, showing the percent handguns and other firearms are used in homicides. Notice that the percent of homicides committed with non-handguns actually increased during the life of the “assault” weapons ban. Handguns hover around 50%, a little more than 3 times as prevalent as non-handguns. If there are calls to ban anything, one would therefore guess it would be handguns which are demonized, not rifles and shotguns. Alas, the mind of the politician is a difficult thing to grasp.

Now let’s look at the same plot again (Fig. 6), this time including all types of killing methods:

Figure 6

Figure 6

The two rivals, equaling or exceeding in lethal importance to “assault” weapons (and other non-handguns), are knives and other types of weapons, such as poisons, strangulations, and fire. Yet we never hear even rumors of politicians wishing to ban fire. Though we do hear, all too often, of impaired officials banning children for pointing their fingers.

Summary: to use a phrase coined by Father Z, the “biological solution” appears to be lowering homicide rates quite well, with no government intervention required (or desired).

Now for the punchline. None of the statistics presented here are new or unknown. They are available to every politician, and indeed every lawmaker with the word “ban” on his lips knows them well (otherwise they are incompetent). Each of these people, like you now, knows that limiting “assault” weapons will do little to change the homicide rate. Yet still they want to ban. Why?

Could it be—this is reasonable to ask—that they have a different agenda in mind? Did we not hear many elected officials (from both major parties) tell us that guns are “only for hunting”, and did not some call for the confiscation of all guns? I suspect that this is the sole reason for the current flurry, the drive to “never let a crisis go to waste”: to strip citizens of their guns. Not all at once, for that would lead to rebellion, but slowly, incrementally, a death through many small paper(work)cuts.

Addendum The number of mass public shooting incidents per decade have also been decreasing and are uncorrelated with gun ownership. Full details about Fig. 7 are here.

Figure 7

Figure 7

Update Comparisons of the enormous, socially and racially heterogeneous United States with small, relatively more homogeneous European countries are not persuasive. “Denmark has lower gun violence!” somebody will proudly say, forgetting that Denmark on crowded day has only three-fourths the population of New York City.

Update As predicted. “Our children’s safety.

Update On one of the pages that linked to this story (thank you), one person called me an “economist.” Grr. His contention was that I did not focus on “assault” weapons, but only “other firearms.” This individual forgot that “assault” weapons are a subset of “other firearms”, and so are handled in that manner. Murders with them are limited to the number of murders of “other firearms.” And then—and this it the point—the FBI does not have readily available individual statistics separating “assault” weapons. Which makes me wonder how this individual (or anybody) could be so confident that “assault” weapons were such a scourge.

———————————————————————————-

Notes:

1Murder has not always been illegal everywhere. For example, citizens who were deemed “counter-revolutionary” or “anti-government” were routinely slaughtered, quite legally, in countries with international and national socialist governments. These countries, perhaps entirely coincidentally, banned their citizens from owning most or all firearms. I define murder as unlawful under the law given to us by a Higher Authority.

2Here is the data, which was compiled from several government sources, such as here, here, here, here, and here. Multiply Population by 1000. The data is not 100% certain. I found, on the FBI’s own site, different numbers for homicides for the same years. The discrepancies were never more than a couple of hundred coffins, but this still indicates imperfection. And that means we should lessen the certainty we have in any conclusions we draw from this data.5 If anybody out there can find mistakes or additions to this spreadsheet, please do so by amending it and emailing it back to me at matt@wmbriggs.com. I will then (at some point) redo and create a new post.

The FBI says murder and non-negligent manslaughter are:

the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. Deaths caused by negligence, attempts to kill, assaults to kill, suicides, and accidental deaths are excluded. The program classifies justifiable homicides separately…Deaths of persons due to their own negligence, accidental deaths not resulting from gross negligence, and traffic fatalities are not included…

The murders on “September 11th” are not included in these charts, but the Oklahoma City bombings are.

3It has been said that an “assault” weapon is that which looks frightening to a lawmaker. Given the increase in non-manly politicians—by which I mean folks unable to appreciate a John Wayne movie—more and more weapons will be so categorized.

4A 2009 Attorney General report from California showed that fully automatic weapons, like “machine” guns, are used in 1% of crimes in that state. How could this be? Aren’t these guns illegal everywhere? If it’s one thing you can count on, it’s that a criminal has no respect for the law.

5Footnote to the footnote! Firearm laws vary across state and, within states, across time and across regions. The federal government, jealous of the power of the states, enacts its own laws, which also change through time and by region. The laws everywhere vary in strength, too. Further, citizens move from one state to another, or they move within a state to areas which have different laws. The compositions of the folks living in these great United States has also changed radically since 1960. Therefore, any statistical analysis—usually some high falutin regression model—which purports to have figured out the true influence of firearms regulations will be full of—what our esteemed Veep Joe “Wakka Wakka” Biden called—malarkey.

One thing we can say with certainty: threats to increase restrictions on firearms increase the sales of firearms: heres one example of many.

William M. Briggs, the “Statistician to the Stars!” is, and has been for many years, a proud NRA member. He received no consideration of any kind from anybody for this post.

Permission is granted to copy and reprint this post, under the proviso that my name and a link to my site accompanies it.

Comments

Firearm Homicides Dropping. Assault Weapons Ban Not Correlated With Decrease In Homicides. No Need For New Restrictions. — 124 Comments

  1. I suspect one of the problems with the FBI data is that they depend on reports from different state and local agencies that may or may not be empowered to make the determination of whether a homicide is justifiable or not.

  2. Briggs,

    Trying to confuse everybody with the facts?

    revGDrigh,

    Want to see a rise in reported homicides? Just implement a federal program which will pay for in-state programs that purport to be doing something about the homicide rate. The reported rates will rise due to competition for the money.

  3. “If there are calls to ban anything, one would therefore guess it would be handguns which are demonized, not rifles and shotguns. Alas, the mind of the politician is a difficult thing to grasp.”

    No it is quite easy to understand. Mass public shootings create a strong emotional reaction in the general public and “Assault Weapons” look just as scary to the general public as they do to the politicians. This creates a easy environment for fear mongering and calls for politicians to do something.

  4. Even if gun related homicides are down (and trending lower), I don’t see why more effort can’t be done to move them even lower. When comparing to most western nations, the number is still high. Nothing wrong with trying to be even more efficient (and save more lives). It’s not a big secret that a lot of people would like to see guns out of people’s hand in urban areas (promiscuity and guns are a bad mix). The agenda is not so secret. The real debate should be on how to accomplish this while keeping the rural citizens happy. Assault weapons are an easy target.

  5. David–this can be done. By new amendment to the constitution. However, since the ERA could not even pass, politicians will break any laws necessary and ignore the constitution. Approving of the politicians ignoring the Constitution already lead to a virtual ignoring of parts of the First Amendment and the Fourth amendment. How much more of the Constitution do you want the President to pitch out the window to keep you safe? How about we just abandon the whole silly idea those guys in wigs wrote centuries ago? Heck they aren’t even on Facebook.
    Reason means nothing in politics. The President in 2006 condemned Bush for wanting to raise the debt ceiling. Today, this president going for another increase. He said we weren’t a deadbeat nation–we are, however, an addict who lies and steals from our parents, neighbors and children to feed our habit. That is presumably okay. When there is NO rational thinking in politics, even well reasoned ideas back up with facts have NO use. If you doubt this, try listening to or reading liberal speaking and writing. Only for short periods, though, as this can make a reasoned person’s head explode.

  6. David,

    “Even if gun related homicides are down (and trending lower), I don’t see why more effort can’t be done to move them even lower. When comparing to most western nations, the number is still high. Nothing wrong with trying to be even more efficient (and save more lives).”

    Nothing to disagree with here except your conclusion that gun control is the answer. US homicide rates are higher than other countries with similar gun ownership rates (Canada). The best approach to your stated goals is by addressing the causes of violence rather than the tools. Placing restrictions on the tools will only cause those inclined to violence to find other tools.

  7. David,

    “Even if gun related homicides are down (and trending lower), I don’t see why more effort can’t be done to move them even lower. When comparing to most western nations, the number is still high. Nothing wrong with trying to be even more efficient (and save more lives).”

    A laudable goal. However, given that us homicide and gun related homicide rates are higher than other western democracies with similar gun ownership rates (Canada, Switzerland) the best way to do this is by addressing the causes of violence rather than the tools.

  8. It is difficult to imagine a penalty more severe than death, so it remains a curiosity that so many murderers are found when such strong laws are in place.

    Following-up on this, it would be interesting to see if the rate of convictions (or prosecutions) follows the homicide rate over time. The variance of state laws as well as demographics probably muddies the picture, though.

  9. Briggs,
    Not those who “commit this heinous crime” but those who are convicted of it – likely a much smaller number.

  10. @ revGDright on 16 January 2013 at 4:55 am RE: “…suspect one of the problems with the FBI data is … reports from different state and local agencies that may or may not … make the determination of whether a homicide is justifiable or not…”

    The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) DOES include some justifiable firearms use by citizens & police (as I recall citizens are recorded to fire their personal firearms, in the latest UCR report, at a ratio of one to two — every two legitimate use’s by police is matched by one by a civilian…something over 200 such civilian uses).

    The FBI’s data is there & parsed by various localities–very good from which someone could build an analysis…not as good for simply looking up the answer one might want…but that answer can usually be ferreted out.

  11. LET’s look at the UK…or at least merry old England & Wales–where their Home Office provides some statistics: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/hosb0212snr?view=Binary

    In that population of about 56 million they had 635 homicides from all types of weapons–60 of which were firearms.

    But the really interesting statistic is that there were 11,227 criminal offenses involving firearms recorded/reported there last year.

    11,227 firearms-related crimes where there aren’t any firearms…officially, sort of, that is as the country officially confiscated them.

    Think about that.

    England & Wales Home Office stats are provided via: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/

  12. I think MattS (8.12) has it about right – calls for “somebody” to do “something” always result in some kind of low-hanging fruit being picked. Even people who realise that in the US gun control does not affect crime rates struggle to see the need for an assault weapon so this is a pretty safe bet for politicians.

    The issue seems to be those who see this as step one in removing all guns – and this applies to both those who want this (rather extreme government control types) and those who are against it (rather extreme conspiracy theory types). As you noted, the last assault weapons ban not only had no measurable impact on murder rates in the US, it also only lasted for a very few years until it was repealed. Does anyone see any reason this won’t happen again?

  13. Some comments on the statistical conclusions.

    Figure 7
    The time series plot in Figure 7 shows the shooting rate over the decades. It in no way shows any relationship between per capita million rate and gun ownership. You need to construct a plot of rate against gun ownership. Using your regular rhetoric, I shall conclude there is an obvious increase in the rate between 1950s and 2010s, between 1960s and 1970s, or between 1990s and 2000s.

    Define “uncorrelated”? My definition is that all the mass shootings involves guns, hence shooting rate and gun ownership are correlated.

    Figure 3
    Just for example, let’s look at Figure 3. What does it mean violent crimes (percent) as a whole are dropping? Figure 3 indicates that the percent was increasing from 1960 to 1990 in general and dropping after 1991 (thinking of the Brady Bill, so perhaps more regulations are needed, just to spin around what Mr. Briggs said.)

    Figure 2
    The fact is that firearms stand on the top as the weapon in homicides… and suicides too (see the link below). From Figure 2, it also appears that firearms homicide percentage is more than percentages of other type of homicide methods all together.

    (http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states , which can be verified thru http://www.cdc.gov)

  14. Well done, Matt! There will always be room for, and value in, simple exposition of data. Not that any of this will dissuade those with nefarious agendas, but it does expose them. Again, well done!

  15. I don’t know the psychological and social conditions or what kind of latent factors behind all the homicides, maybe a social scientist can better answer some of the questions.

    Gun ownership in U.S. might be a personal decision. Imo, it comes with certain responsibilities, which as a society we should be able to place on gun owners.

  16. Rob,

    “The issue seems to be those who see this as step one in removing all guns”

    What happens if they turn out to be right? A big point to watch out for on this is if the law grandfathers weapons already in civilian hands or requires confiscation.

    “Does anyone see any reason this won’t happen again?”

    I don’t. However, I don’t seen any particular reason why it would happen again either.

    US legal code is already far too complicated. Congress needs to stop passing laws that make criminals of otherwise law abiding citizens for no good reason.

    If any Senators or Representatives are reading this, PLEASE stop playing stupid irrational games with the US legal code.

  17. I am proposing a new constitutional amendment. This new amendment will alter the first amendment by striking all words from the first amendment after the fifth word. This change shall be applied retroactively.

  18. JH,

    I am skeptical in general of gun statistics from organizations pushing gun control. However, crime statistics are easily verified through the FBI which is generally the source anyway. Just because the majority of murders are currently committed with firearms does not mean that the murder rate would decrease significantly even if you could wave a magic wand and make all guns disappear. Some other weapon will simply take the place of guns. Murder is a violence issue not a gun issue.

    Guns are not a disease and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) should have it’s budget cut by the amount it spends on gun issues and be explicitly forbidden from ever getting involved in the issue again. Trust none of the CDC statistics on the issue.

  19. “The fact is that firearms stand on the top as the weapon in homicides”

    A brief moment to consider a common fallacy in thinking about ranking. First, if you remove guns, then whatever is second automatically moves to number one. It looks like that would be knives for now, though one could probably make the case that if guns are gone, explosives may move up to number one (it has happened in other countries). There will always be a #1 cause of death. If we cure cancer, heart disease may replace it as #1 killer (or vice versa). It does not automatically follow that murders or deaths will go down if the #1 killer of persons is eliminated. It may, it may not.

    Over-simplification is a dangerous thing. Removing guns may result in homicides actually increasing if more lethal methods are adopted by criminals. Removing guns may result in more crime because people cannot fight back. You would need to show definitively that getting rid of guns will prevent crime, and the statistics do not seem to back that. It just leads to a false sense of security.

  20. Sheri,

    It’s a fact based the graph provided here. What inference you want to make, or how you want to argue about or twist it is up to you.

    MattS,

    Your bias towards CDC noted. Guns are not a disease, but they incur injuries.

    We would never know the effect of no firearms in U.S., would we? Of course, one can argue what “significantly” means. Statistical significance, practical significance, clinical (functional) significance?

    I like the idea of me having a magic wand!

  21. JH,

    My opinion on the CDC is not bias. Their remit is the control of contagious diseases, not health in general. They have no authority to act outside of that remit.

    Of course, one can argue what “significantly” means. Statistical significance, practical significance, clinical (functional) significance?

    In this case I mean practical significance. I am arguing that even the full and immediate elimination of all guns would have little if any impact on the rates of violent crime including homicide.

  22. Sander van der Wal

    “And what about gun-related accidents?”

    The answer to that is gun safety training.

    Should we ban cars because of car accidents? Car accidents kill more people than homicide.

  23. These gun bans are just theater for lefties to demonstrate their good intentions. In politics an ounce of image beats a pound of performance. It’s all about show and it doesm’t matter if gun bans work or not.

  24. MattS,

    Define your practical significance for me first. After elimination of all firearms, if the firearm death rate per 100,000 doesn’t decrease by 1 or 2 or whatever, then it’s of no practice significance? Or if the number of firearm deaths doesn’t decrease by 10,000 then it’s of no practical significance? How do you plan to verify/argue this for the U.S.?

  25. Correction: replace “the firearm death” by “homicide” or “murder” in my previous comment.

  26. Still don’t see why assault weapons are needed. And I’m not talking about changing the constitution. Every right is bounded by a “reasonable” criteria. Does the right to bear arm include nuclear weapons? Of course not. A one-shot 22 caliber rifle? Probably. Anything in between is on the table. Reasonable restrictions do not necessary go against the constitution. As for going after the people instead of guns, going after both can only be more efficient (never saw a mass murder with a fork, even if you can kill someone).

  27. JH,

    “Define your practical significance for me first. After elimination of all firearms, if the firearm death rate per 100,000 doesn’t decrease by 1 or 2 or whatever, then it’s of no practice significance? ”

    I am saying that even if all existing guns were magically eliminated that the odds that we would see a reduction in the over all homicide rate of more than 1 per million population are for all intents and purposes nil.

  28. David,

    “As for going after the people instead of guns, going after both can only be more efficient (never saw a mass murder with a fork, even if you can kill someone).”

    No, it doesn’t have to be more efficient. Going after guns will not necessarily have any impact on the overall rate of murder and will be particularly ineffective in stopping mass murder.

    Guns are popular because they are intimidating and easy to get, but I fail to see how anyone comes to the conclusion that even one person bent on murder will be stopped by having to resort to one of the vast array of other possible methods.

    Guns are simply not the most effective tool for mass murder.

    Historically, mass shootings are a minority of mass murders. The bulk of mass murders have been done with either explosives, arson, or poison.

    Go take a look at the Anarchists Cookbook. There is a great variety of explosives and accelerants that can be made with common household chemicals. Poisons too are far easier to make than most people realize.

    It is far easier to destroy than to create.

  29. @Ken on 16 January 2013 at 10:36

    There are firearms in England which are legal: shotguns and some hunting rifles. Only handguns and full automatics are completely banned (except for agents of state violence).

    There are also imitation guns, starting and other disabled pistols, airguns, non-firing replicas and toys. Offences using any of them count as firearm offences. That brings up the total by quite a lot, esp. since in an unsolved threat-only offence – by far the most cpmmon – no-one really knows whether the gun used was real.

  30. MattS:

    I agree.

    I think I read here that at Columbine the bad guys had two propane tanks rigged to blow (but the detonator failed to work).

    If a big enough crowd is close enough, these devices can kill a lot of people.

    And Oklahoma City showed that mixing two fairly common items can kill hundreds.

  31. MattS, I am asking you to provide evidence of your assertion so I know that you didn’t pull it out of thin air.

  32. RickA,

    “I think I read here that at Columbine the bad guys had two propane tanks rigged to blow (but the detonator failed to work).”

    Yep. It’s likely that if they had gone off that everyone in the building would have died.

    Bombs and arson will likely always top the list for mass murder.

    That makes me wonder why there aren’t the same kind of blame the tool outcries after a bombing or arson?

  33. Care to explain why civilians need to own fully functional, semi/full automatic weapons?

  34. JH,

    Basic logic. People have been killing each other since the stone age. There was violence and murder before guns existed and there is zero evidence that either would be diminished by the lack of guns.

    Your the one pushing for gun control, why don’t you produce some evidence that it would have an effect?

  35. Pingback: Guest Post by William M Briggs: Firearm Homicides Dropping | John C. Wright's Journal

  36. JH–I don’t see any graphs that show that outlawing assault weapons (or any weapons) stopped murders. If you look at Wyoming (no laws concerning guns other than automatic weapons) the homicide rate per 100,000 was 3.2 in 2011. In New York, with many gun laws, the rate for homicide per 100,000 was 4.0 in 2011. That’s a very similar rate, with extremely different gun laws. There is more to this than gun ownership.

    David–We don’t need 64 oz soft drinks, we don’t need huge fast food meals, we don’t need violent movies, we don’t need violent video games, we don’t need cars that go 200 mph, etc. Why not outlaw all those things? New York is ahead of everyone else on that curve. By banning soft drinks over 32 oz, New York has assured people will lose weight and that’s a good thing. Let’s ban them everywhere–high capacity soft drinks.

    (Again, “assault weapons” are the same guns as hunting rifles–same caliber, same killing power. They just look different. If you really believe you can save people by making guns look friendlier, then go ahead and ban. I doubt you can find any statistics that show a pink, cute gun is any less deadly than a black, nasty one, but maybe.)

  37. Adam Gallon,

    Under current US law civilians must have a class 3 federal firearms license to own fully automatic weapons. This is the same license that gun dealers are required to have.

    As to semi automatic weapons do you have any clue as to the difference between a semi and fully automatic weapon?

    With a semi automatic, while it will automatically eject the fired round and chamber the next round, you only get one shot for each time the trigger is pulled. In the broadest sense, a double action revolver could be considered semi-automatic.

  38. European mass shootings on schools were copycats of american mass shootings. Thank you america for your beautiful export products.

  39. Hans Erren,

    You have any proof of this? Maybe they just have the same basic root causes (which have zero to do with guns).

  40. Curiously, the figures for forcible rape, property theft and vehicle theft show the same overall pattern as Fig 3 above. All peak in the early 1990′s. This suggests to me that any conclusions can only be drawn from these statistics about crime in the US rather than gun crime specifically.

  41. @Rob: “As you noted, the last assault weapons ban not only had no measurable impact on murder rates in the US, it also only lasted for a very few years until it was repealed. Does anyone see any reason this won’t happen again?”

    Why would it be overturned this time? Did Obama set a 10 year “sunset” for the executive order?

    @Adam Gallon:

    The format of this is tricky, but the information is great in answering your question:
    http://www.assaultweapon.info/

    @Hans Erren:
    Considering most Americans are just descendants of Europeans, if we take your thinking seriously, doesn’t this make Europeans ultimately responsible for their own copy-cat behavior?

  42. So what are you going to do against nuclear proliferation? Encourage North Korea and Iran to defend themselves?

    If a human has the right to own a gun then a whole country surely has the right to own an atomic bomb?

  43. Pingback: NOTAS DE SIMPLES LEMBRANÇA, # 79. « NO EXTREMO OCIDENTE

  44. Sheri,

    I don’t see any graphs that show that outlawing assault weapons (or any weapons) stopped murders.

    Neither do I. I can say for sure that outlawing assault weapons would not stop murders as there are other types of weapons, including one’s hands. (I still secretly wish there would be no murders in the world though.)

    MattS,

    You clam you know the absence of guns would not diminish the murder rate, so it’s up to you to substantiate your claim. I did say that we would never know for sure.

    Well, I’ve spent too much time on this!

  45. JH,

    “You clam you know the absence of guns would not diminish the murder rate, so it’s up to you to substantiate your claim. I did say that we would never know for sure.”

    No, I said that I believe that such an outcome would be astronomically unlikely not that it would be impossible. This is a logical position not and empirical one and I never claimed otherwise.

    “I still secretly wish there would be no murders in the world though.”

    Why secretly? This is a laudable wish. You will never be able to advance this wish to reality until you understand that laws against particular kinds of tools are ultimately counterproductive to that goal.

  46. Hans Erren,

    “So what are you going to do against nuclear proliferation?”

    Personally? Nothing. nuclear non-proliferation is a lost cause.

    “Encourage North Korea and Iran to defend themselves?”

    Against what? The biggest threats faced by the people of North Korea and Iran are their own governments.

    “If a human has the right to own a gun then a whole country surely has the right to own an atomic bomb?”

    countries don’t own nuclear weapons, governments do. Governments shouldn’t have any rights.

  47. JH,

    “I did say that we would never know for sure.”

    Until someone produces empirical evidence that it will make a difference there is no rational basis for gun control laws.

    Irrational laws are a big part of our current economic problems.

  48. Governments take rights just like criminals, so what will you do a against a rogue state the has nuclear weapons, vote against nuclear weapons of your own government as your government – as you clearly stated – doesn’t have the right to own them?

  49. Okay. This ridiculous “we should have a nuclear weapon if we have assault weapons” is just showing how foolish people can be when they have no valid argument to support their claim. This is what we call “completely invalid, irrational thinking”. There is NO connection whatsoever between a firearm and a nuclear weapon, expect in the minds of people who cannot come up with a valid reason for their beliefs. (Yes, both kill, both are used by the military but so is rat poison. So no one should have rat poison?)

    You are arguing as follows: If we are going to get into a war we would want to win to we should nuke every enemy. If we are allowed to own cars that go over 25 miles per hour we should have cars that go 200 miles per hour. If we think burning wood for heat is a good idea, we should cut the entire forest and burn it all. None of these are valid arguments.

    If you have a valid argument, please present it. Otherwise, it remains that your tactic is to make irrelevant, wrong comparisons and hope the shock value will convince people (and it does convince people you have no valid points.)

  50. Hans Erren

    “Governments take rights just like criminals, so what will you do a against a rogue state the has nuclear weapons, vote against nuclear weapons of your own government as your government – as you clearly stated – doesn’t have the right to own them?”

    I said no such thing. A government has powers not rights, there is a difference. Applying rights language to governments is irrational and can not lead to correct conclusions.

    No, I won’t vote against the US having nuclear weapons. As I said, non-proliferation is a lost cause.

  51. No, I said that I believe that such an outcome would be astronomically unlikely not that it would be impossible. This is a logical position not and empirical one and I never claimed otherwise.

    So if some people believe that such an outcome would be astronomically likely, would you say that they also have a logical position? If not, why not?

    Until someone produces empirical evidence that it will make a difference there is no rational basis for gun control laws.

    Whose standards should we use to judge the laws rational or irrational? Yours?

    Irrational laws are a big part of current economic problems.

    Is this a logical position too?

  52. Sheri:

    The Miller supreme court case (1930′s sometime) was that “arms” in the 2nd amendment meant whatever a normal foot soldier would carry on their person into battle (and measured at the current time).

    Miller was about a law against sawed off shotguns.

    It was the first supreme court case on the 2nd amendment, and the only one until Heller.

    The court in Miller found that soldiers didn’t normally carry sawed off shotguns, so it was ok to ban them.

    In Miller the court found that rifles (long guns) and handguns were arms.

    “Arms” were whatever your typical soldier carried – so that would cover knives, guns but not mortars or cannon (artillery). I am not sure about swords, as the typical soldier of today is not issued a sword (or even a bayonet anymore).

    By that same logic, arms are whatever a normal foot soldier carries into battle today.

    Guess what – soldiers carry fully automatic weapons and sidearms.

    So there is some reason to believe that fully automatic rifles actually are “arms” under the 2nd amendment.

    But not mortars, artillery, tanks, etc. (because infantry don’t each carry them).

  53. MattS,

    secretly = mysteriously (sorry, involving Chinese translation).

    You will never be able to advance this wish to reality until you understand that laws against particular kinds of tools are ultimately counterproductive to that goal.

    Simply a garbage comment about my wish. I grew up in a country that bans guns.

  54. JH,

    “So if some people believe that such an outcome would be astronomically likely, would you say that they also have a logical position? If not, why not?”

    I have never seen an argument for it put forward that was logically consistent, so no. Why, because it is counter to the entire history of humanity.

    “Whose standards should we use to judge the laws rational or irrational? Yours?”

    There are objective standards for rationality. Laws passed over knee-jerk emotional reactions that have no hope of accomplishing their stated goal don’t meet that standard. I have never seen any argument for gun control not based in emotional fear mongering and wishful thinking.

    “Is this a logical position too?”

    No.

    The government had been pushing banks for decades to increase mortgage lending to low income people. Government policy lies at the very hart of the entire mortgage crisis. http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo125.html

    Of course the same politicians that pushed for sub-prime lending demonized the banks over the mortgage crisis and said the answer to what was ultimately a failure in government policy was more government.

  55. JH,

    “Simply a garbage comment about my wish. I grew up in a country that bans guns.”

    And of course that country has no violence, no murders.

    There is zero evidence that gun ownership has anything to do with any difference in the violent crime rates between the US and other countries.

    In fact England saw an increase in violent crime including gun related grimes after they passed their gun ban.

    http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/gun-crime

  56. David, Still don’t see why assault weapons are needed.

    Why does there have to be a need? Where does that stop? Why not change the Constitution to read a citizen may only possess what is needed? The data don’t show the need to disallow “assault weapons” — whatever they are — so what exactly is the problem with ownership of “assault weapons” that you think will be solved?

  57. JH, Whose standards should we use to judge the laws rational or irrational? Yours?

    The standard should be that which can be clearly shown to solve the problem at hand otherwise it is nothing more than an irrational stab in the dark. I don’t think the government should be allowed to do implement changes just to see if they work. Unfortunately, that’s what we usually get. And they are used as justification to implement more irrational laws.

  58. http://article.wn.com/view/2012/07/24/Gun_Owners_Surveyed_By_Frank_Luntz_Express_Broad_Support_For/
    The survey was conducted before the Sandy Hook massacre.
    “A survey of National Rifle Association members and non-affiliated gun owners conducted by a prominent Republican pollster shows that there is broad support for certain provisions that would restrict the sale of guns.”

    http://article.wn.com/view/2012/07/24/Gun_Owners_Surveyed_By_Frank_Luntz_Express_Broad_Support_For/

    The survey was conducted before the Sandy Hook massacre.

    “A survey of National Rifle Association members and non-affiliated gun owners conducted by a prominent Republican pollster shows that there is broad support for certain provisions that would restrict the sale of guns.”

  59. All,

    From the mailbag (the gentleman speaks of Fig. 1.):

    In the section after your first plot, you said:

    “Now let’s look at the shaded region on the plot, which is the time the Orwellian-named “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act”, i.e. “‘Assault’3Weapons Ban”, was in force, from 13 September 1994 until the same date in 2004. There does not appear to be much correlation between this ban and the homicide rate: homicides both decrease and increase during the time which it was in force.”

    I winced really hard at that. After all, just looking at the plot, the decrease in homicides and firearm homicides both is roughly twofold, whereas the “increases” are barely visible. To the eye, it certainly looks like a huge decrease. (Although I note, of course, that both were already on the descend for a couple of data points before that – but no matter.)

    I’m not really sure what that paragraph is trying to say. Unless you’re trying to say that the rate of homicides by “assault” weapons both increased and decreased in that time, which is shown in the fifth plot – so is the paragraph redundant? As it stands, it just looks like a blatant and obvious falsehood. I’d be resharing it on Facebook right now if I wasn’t certain that any pro-gun-restriction friends of mine would take one look at it, say “HA! Obvious lie, the homicide rate goes way the heck down during that time!” and feel justified in ignoring the whole thing. Or am I missing something big?

    You explained it yourself. The first point in the yellow cannot effectively be explained by the “assault” weapons ban; as such, the decrease was present before the ban. And it is a simple statistical fact that after the decrease, there came a slight increase. Call it, if you like, if your eyesight fails to register the signal, a leveling off. How my calling this plot a lack of correlation can be a “falsehood” with the ban is a mystery, particularly considering Fig. 5, which is not redundant and which is a different kind of plot (one is unconditional, one is conditional). And don’t forget Fig. 4.

    The ban might have any number of effects, but would your “pro-gun-restriction friends” ascribe the decrease in all kinds of violent crime, including drownings, poisonings and the like, to that ban? Well, they might. But what then accounted for the decrease in violence from 1980 to 1985-ish? People thinking there might someday be a ban and therefore, with those thoughts in mind, behaving nicely?

    I’m afraid we have lost those who think the government, and only the government, can control and shape a society, people whom I’m guessing include your “pro-gun-restriction friends.” I still have hope that the rest of us who think that family, the Church, and other voluntary memberships will be able to stave off the worst excesses of the State.

  60. Briggs,
    All very good but I think your time would be better spent in looking into the military code of justice and the penalties to a soldier that obeys an unlawful command.
    The first sentence in the oath of any soldier says something about protecting the constitution of the united states of America. This is the message that appears many need to be reminded of.
    Obama and other politicians may not pay credence – but young men who are pledging their honor and their lives – well – they tend to act honorably!

  61. MattS

    Safety instructions will lower the death rate, but not make it zero. Less guns lower the death rate too. No guns will result in an gun accident death rate of zero.

    You having a gun amd shooting yourself by accident is your problem. You having a gun and shooting me by accident is still me being dead, a situation that is completely unacceptible to me. And society doesn’t care either, if the penalty for this isn’t at least a life sentence.

    Cars did not have seatbelts, safety bumpers, airbags and a host of other safety features. Now they have them, either requid by law or by market demand. Making a very useful apparatus much less dangerous. No reason something similar cannot be done for guns.

  62. Thanks Ken, so the homicide rate in the US, even after the recent fall, is 4 times that of the UK. Wonder why?

  63. Pingback: The B&R Thursday Skim | Black & Right

  64. Re: Less guns lower the death rate too.

    False. The drops in violent crime, murders and gun-related murders occurred while gun ownership in America increased dramatically.

  65. MattS,

    … because it is counter to the entire history of humanity.

    Okay, now we are getting somewhere. Please give more detailed accounts of the history, and perhaps you then can demonstrate your statement below logically, not empirically.

    [I]f all existing guns were magically eliminated that the odds that we would see a reduction in the overall homicide rate of more than 1 per million population are for all intents and purposes nil.

    1 PER MILLION! NIL!

    I am not saying that guns should be banned, which is clearly not viable in the US now. However, I think you are making statements of no clear evidence or logic and sometimes with a broad brush. And whether a person is rational is a tricky question.

  66. MattS,

    My native country (M) has a low murder/homicide rate (which allows for fair comparisons), which has been steadily decreasing in the past two decades. The main murder weapon is knife. I suspect the rate would hit a plateau in the future.

    So both the US and M see decrease in murder rate. Maybe there are some non-firearm related latent factors behind the decrease that some of the developed countries have experienced in recent years.

    The M’s murder rate is higher than the US murder rate by non-firearm related methods. Which may be seen as an indication that some murders would use other weapons if guns are not available.

    However, the US murder rate is about 1.5 per 100,000 (not per million) higher than M’s? How would one account for the difference? (No, people in country M are not more civilized.) Yes, this is not direct evidence unless M allows gun ownership or the U.S. bans guns, but in the long run it’s very likely that the absence of guns in the US would decrease the murder rate by at least 1 per million, contrary to your conclusion.

  67. DAV,
    Yes, it would be ideal if there are standards or ways to guide us in advance as to whether certain measures would solve the problem, wouldn’t it be? We value all human life, perhaps this is why some people feel compelled to implement changes in the hopes of saving lives. Irrational?!

  68. JH,

    “Okay, now we are getting somewhere. Please give more detailed accounts of the history, and perhaps you then can demonstrate your statement below logically, not empirically.”

    Detailed accounts of all the violence and murder throughout human history prior to the invention of the gun would require far too much space and time for this blog.

  69. JH,

    “My native country (M) has a low murder/homicide rate (which allows for fair comparisons), which has been steadily decreasing in the past two decades. The main murder weapon is knife. I suspect the rate would hit a plateau in the future.”

    I notice you still don’t mention which country. There are far more differences between your native country and the US than just civilian gun ownership. You present zero evidence that it is gun ownership and not one of the other differences that drives the difference in the murder rates between your native country and the US.

    Given that the murder rate in the US is higher than other countries that allow civilian gun ownership and that some countries that passed recent gun bans actually saw increases in the murder rate post ban (England, Australia) it is highly likely that factors other than gun ownership drive the difference in the murder rates.

  70. JH, We value all human life, perhaps this is why some people feel compelled to implement changes in the hopes of saving lives. Irrational?!

    The hope isn’t irrational but action without any evidence the action will do any good is. Banning “assault” weapons is merely an attempt to treat a symptom. It doesn’t address the real issue. Besides, there are always unintended consequences. Just look at what the 18th US Constitutional Amendment caused. It too was to save lives. One of the consequences is opening the door even further to other frivolous and irrational actions. Someday we may learn to proceed with caution but I’m not keeping my fingers crossed.

  71. Tom: NRA members agreed background checks were a good idea, nothing more. They did not agree to gun restrictions or registration, as far as I can tell.

    Sander van der Wal: You bring up an interesting thing in the human psyche. You qualify as a person who believes humans must be controlled by an external power (seat belts) to behave well.
    On the other hand, myself and others believe people are capable of making their own decisions, and that decisions made by force (as in seat belts) result in little internalized behavior changes. If we outlaw certain guns, we don’t outlaw the anger that caused the killings, we only suppress it.
    Side note: One of the largest gun massacres of innocent people occurred in a country with very strict gun laws–Norway–and killed 77 people. The anger was there and the laws did not stop the carnage.

    In order for statistics on gun ownership to actually show causality, you would have to match for hundreds of variables–lifestyles, cultural differences, how homogenous is the population now, immigration, entertainment, degree of socialization, affluence, etc. Even looking a bans of some weapons leaves open the possibility that society changed, rather than gun banning helping. Maybe we just can’t know these things.

    As for banning guns of certain types, perhaps someone can explain how angering millions of law-abiding citizens helps with peace and harmony. If we want to protect people, why do it by angering and harassing and bullying?

  72. @Sander van der Wal
    “Safety instructions will lower the death rate, but not make it zero. Less guns lower the death rate too. No guns will result in an gun accident death rate of zero.”

    True: If there were -no guns-, there would be no accidental (or any other sort of) deaths due to guns. There would still be death. Everyone would still die. Just not due to a nonexistent source of death.

    “You having a gun amd shooting yourself by accident is your problem. You having a gun and shooting me by accident is still me being dead, a situation that is completely unacceptible to me. And society doesn’t care either, if the penalty for this isn’t at least a life sentence.”

    Are the accidental gun death rates incredibly high? The fact is, guns that can’t cause accidental death likely won’t cause purposeful death, and then they wouldn’t be guns.

    “Cars did not have seatbelts, safety bumpers, airbags and a host of other safety features. Now they have them, either requid by law or by market demand. Making a very useful apparatus much less dangerous. No reason something similar cannot be done for guns.”

    Yes there is. For guns to be useful, they must be able to be used on short notice. Gun safes make this unlikely. Safeties are similar to your “seatbelt” comparison, so I’m not sure what else you’d like them to have. Computer sensors that don’t let them to hit friendly targets? Perhaps if you can think of a non-exploitable, easy-to-use, device that is not detrimental to the use of guns you could make a lot of money.

  73. @JH

    “So both the US and M see decrease in murder rate. Maybe there are some non-firearm related latent factors behind the decrease that some of the developed countries have experienced in recent years.”

    Maybe? If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’d know that the answer is, at the very least while still being honest, a robust “probably”.

    “However, the US murder rate is about 1.5 per 100,000 (not per million) higher than M’s? How would one account for the difference? (No, people in country M are not more civilized.) Yes, this is not direct evidence unless M allows gun ownership or the U.S. bans guns, but in the long run it’s very likely that the absence of guns in the US would decrease the murder rate by at least 1 per million, contrary to your conclusion.”

    It is possible that murder rates would decrease, but it is possible it would increase. We have seen both. All that can be concluded from the evidence is that gun ownership does not correlate with murder rates very well. Gun ownership in the United States has always been pretty high, yet murder rates have increased and decreased over time. Something else is going on.

    “We value all human life, perhaps this is why some people feel compelled to implement changes in the hopes of saving lives. Irrational?!”

    This is the most dangerous rationale for a decision that one could ever make. And it is entirely irrational. There are higher virtues than “the hope of saving lives”. You could save thousands of lives a week by banning automobiles. Would you advocate for that?

    The fact is, people support the 2nd Amendment because it provides the opportunity for citizens to defend themselves from their own government. After disease and illness, governments tend to kill the most people. You want to rationally save lives based on historical evidence? Arm citizens so their governments can’t overreach.

  74. DAV,

    What is the real issue in your opinion?

    MattS,

    Detailed accounts of all the violence and murder throughout human history prior to the invention of the gun would require far too much space and time for this blog.

    Ah, now you are saying you can show it empirically, not logically?

    Sorry, if you’d like, you may verify with Mr. Briggs to see if I have evidence about my native country.

    Joshua Postema,

    Maybe? If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’d know that the answer is, at the very least while still being honest, a robust “probably”

    Petty! This makes me laugh though. You know, every so often, I’d survey the students in my introductory statistic classes to attach probabilities to a list of words such as maybe, maybe not, probably, possibly, & perhaps.

    Keep in mind I am not saying that I support the banning of guns in the USA. Banning automobile? OK, if you want to use this as an analogy. Let’s call for the purchase of insurance for guns (in case of hurting others and being misused by others and …), and renewal of your license and the registration every two or four years. No?

    As to your other comments, maybe you are right.

  75. While we are here discussing rational responses to violent crime, this may be entirely irrelevant in the overall lives of Americans. Gun owners worry Obama will take their guns. However, if past actions are in any way indicative of future ones, the most likely outcome is the gun control issue disappears immediately since Obama just fixed it. Next discussion will be the debt ceiling–gun violence will be dropped. When Obama was elected, there were hundreds of homeless people in parks in California. Within one month, these people no longer existed. No more was heard about homelessness. Now that Obama has issued 21 executive orders, all gun violence will vanish from the news, or at least as much as can possibly be ignored. I forget that when this administration fixes something, that is the last we hear of it. There is little reality in any of this–it’s all words and games. The gun problem is solved. End of story.

  76. JH,

    Try looking at it from this perspective.

    There are three basic factors used to tie a suspect to a crime: Means, Motive and Opportunity.

    How does the presense or not of a gun affect these fators:

    Motive: Not at all.

    Means: Removing guns from a situation might have some theoretical impact on means but not much. The vast majority of murders commited with guns occur at very short ranges where other weapons would be usable including blunt instruments. Blunt instruments can be found just about everywhere so any impact on means will be negligable at best.

    Opportunity: Again only long range sniper attacks (which are very rare because they require a great deal of skill) can not be accomplished with other weapons. Documentation of this is hard to come by but it is my understanding that the majority of murders, even those committed with guns, happen at what would be considered point blank range even for a handgun. I believe it’s < 10 feet. That is a gap that is not hard to bridge even with a blunt instrument. While it's likley that removing guns would have some theoretical effect this is likely to be negligable.

    The idea that eliminating guns will reduce murder and / or violent crime rates is wishfull thinking at best.

  77. JH,

    “Ah, now you are saying you can show it empirically, not logically?”

    No, it’s still a logical proposition.

    Violence and murder have been around since the very beginin of human history long before the invention of the gun.

    Therefore it is logical to conclude that the impulse to violence and murder is something internal to the human condition and not something created by the presense of guns.

    From this I conclude that removing guns, even eliminating them completely by magic would have no effect on the impulse to violence and / or murder.

  78. JH,

    “OK, if you want to use this as an analogy. Let’s call for the purchase of insurance for guns (in case of hurting others and being misused by others and …), and renewal of your license and the registration every two or four years. No?”

    The NRA has long supported the notion of must issue licensing requirments for guns. Must issue licensing schemes are tied to knowledge of gun safety and skill of use and the authorities can not refuse to issue a license for arbitrary reasons. This would correlate well with how drivers licences work.

    I don’t know what state you’re in but my drivers license (Wisconsin) only has to be renewed every 8 years.

    I’m also pretty sure that your car insurance has exclusions that would mean that the insurance company does not have to pay out in the case of vehicular homicide, so gun insurance would only need to cover accidental shootings. Legitimate cases of self defense / justifiable shootings shouldn’t place any liability on the gun owner. I wouldn’t consider the insurance a bad idea.

  79. JH,

    One more comment on the car / gun analogy.

    Cars are mostly regulated at the state not the federal level.

    I can’t speak for other states, but in Wisconsin none of a driver’s license, vehicle registration or insurance are required to OWN a car. They are only legally required if you are driving the car on public streets. If you own enough land for it, you can drive an unregistered car with no driver’s license as much as you want as long as it stays on your own property.

  80. JH, What is the real issue in your opinion?

    Murder itself and not the method. Someone who wants to murder will do so with whatever is available. Want to murder everybody in a movie theater? Block the doors and set the place on fire. Whole lots cheaper than buying an assault weapon. Trying to remove one method just means another will be substituted. It solves nothing and is a waste of public money.

  81. @JH:
    “Petty! This makes me laugh though. You know, every so often, I’d survey the students in my introductory statistic classes to attach probabilities to a list of words such as maybe, maybe not, probably, possibly, & perhaps.”

    Wasn’t trying to be petty, but “maybe” implies there is a chance of something happening and “probably” means that chance is more likely than not. They have different meanings, and based on the evidence, it is -probably- true that other factors are involved. Perhaps it is a language barrier, but if that is the case, now you know how I interpret the terms and why I disagree with one and agree with the other.

    “Keep in mind I am not saying that I support the banning of guns in the USA. Banning automobile? OK, if you want to use this as an analogy. Let’s call for the purchase of insurance for guns (in case of hurting others and being misused by others and …), and renewal of your license and the registration every two or four years. No?”

    I did not relate automobiles to firearms because the two are the same. You yourself said: “We value all human life, perhaps this is why some people feel compelled to implement changes in the hopes of saving lives. Irrational?!”

    I figured, since automobiles kill so many people daily, and since banning them would certainly save lives that would be lost to their use (especially considering their size and use makes them easier to ban than guns), why not, based on your logic, ban them? The answer is rhetorical: Because they have a purpose that is worth the risk. Guns do as well, perhaps more-so. Only one of the two is a guaranteed right in the US Constitution, and it causes fewer deaths. The government can create whatever laws it wants, but since its legitimacy depends on the Constitution (which defines it), it does so at its own peril.

    The automobile comment was never designed for any comparison other than risk so I apologize for any confusion. You had stated that the mere hope of saving lives was worth “implementing changes” and calling detractors “irrational”. I merely meant to suggest another way you could “implement changes” to save lives.

  82. While all of this is certainly an interesting and informative read, you do fall into traps of logical fallacy (and I think you are well aware of that fact); for example this is not evidence-based (and is thus scientifically disingenuous): “but then you have to explain [you need do no such thing unless it is explicit to the active theorem] why poisonings, strangulations and the like similarly decreased [is it a "similar" decrease? evidence?]. It is of course possible that would-be murderers, feeling deprived of their loss of frightening-looking “assault” weapons were so forlorn that they lost the heart to add cyanide in their enemies’ tea, but it’s more likely that whatever was responsible for the general decrease in bloodlust caused both the decrease in firearm and non-firearm homicides [evidence?].” Etc. Etc. Moreover, your conspiracy theory [they want to take all our guns away slowly, to paraphrase]: where is your evidence? Empiricism suggests just the opposite. Nonetheless, fun read.

  83. jshewery,

    “Moreover, your conspiracy theory [they want to take all our guns away slowly, to paraphrase]: where is your evidence?”

    Go read what the Brady foundation people have said in the past. They used to be quite open about the fact that their end goal was a total ban on guns in the US.

  84. Moreover, my comments in brackets:
    “Murder itself and not the method. Someone who wants to murder will do so with whatever is available [not necessarily; in an individual non-premeditated act: remove the easiest means and make the remaining means progressively more difficult to actuate and it may be that the chance of the individual act occurring decreases; in a premeditated act, premeditation may hinge on the ease with which the act can be committed]. Want to murder everybody in a movie theater? Block the doors and set the place on fire. Whole lots cheaper than buying an assault weapon [but far more difficult under the rules of risk management and logistics]. Trying to remove one method just means another will be substituted [not necessarily, and as long as we are violating the rule of confusing correlation with causation, look at murder rates in countries with the lowest rates of private gun ownership]. It solves nothing and is a waste of public money.” [this really, appears to be the crux of your argument and appears to be supported by an overall examination of the available relevant statistics, but perhaps you can be more mindful about arriving at this conclusion by eliminating logical fallacies that are so prevalent in the entire field of gun control debate. March on!

  85. Indeed, but would you consider the Brady Foundation the mainstream of American sociopolitical identity with the power to engender complete gun confiscation? Without question there are plenty of organizations who want varying levels of gun bans and eradication, but all such groups are marginalized by their agendas. Please understand that my comments here are meant to strengthen the foundations of your arguments because your overall conclusion (the ineffectiveness of current gun control laws) is almost demonstrable at this point. Solidifying the logic bases for your arguments makes them far more difficult to unravel.

  86. jshewey,

    The Brady Foundation may not be “the mainstream of American sociopolitical identity with the power to engender complete gun confiscation”, but they are the mainstream of the gun control movement.

    It’s insanity to think that they have changed their minds about total bans just because it’s currently non-politic for them to admit it.

    It isn’t a consperacy theory to accuser someone of working toward something they have plainly said that they want to achieve.

    “Without question there are plenty of organizations who want varying levels of gun bans and eradication”

    Name one with more than a tenth the size or resources of the Brady Foundation. If you want to say the Brady Foundation is not the mainstream of the gun control movement then there has to be larger / better funded organizations with more moderate positions on that side of the issue. If such exists where are they?

    “Solidifying the logic bases for your arguments makes them far more difficult to unravel.”

    Under estimating the goals of the other side does not help to solidify anything.

  87. jshewey,

    Try separating your comments from the quotes. It would be much easier to read what you’re saying.

    not necessarily; in an individual non-premeditated act: remove the easiest means

    I guess you have no idea how much planning it takes to amass an arsenal to unleash in a crowded theater or shopping mall. There is zero indication that any of the mass shootings in the US were spur-of-the-moment events.

    Running down the street to buy a couple of gallons of gasoline to make a Molotov cocktail can be done in less than an hour. Takes almost zero planning. The same with running over people on a crowded sidewalk and doesn’t even require going shopping first. Just exactly how would you go about eliminating those threats?

    If you think gun control will make you safer then I propose you lack imagination.

  88. Actually I did not and would not contend that the BF “is not the mainstream of the gun control movement.” What I asked was: would you consider the Brady Foundation the mainstream of American sociopolitical identity.

  89. jshewey,

    “What I asked was: would you consider the Brady Foundation the mainstream of American sociopolitical identity”

    No, but that’s irrelevant to anything being discussed on this thread.

  90. Please understand that my agenda is logical, rational thinking, and the gun-control advocacy as well as the anti-gun-control advocacy, sometimes purposefully and sometimes inadvertently fall into the trap of confirmation-bias evidence and confusion of correlation with causation. I like your site and obviously it’s yours to do with as you please; but avoiding logical fallacies assures that you don’t fall into the same traps, though I suspect based on your background you are well aware of all that.

  91. jshewey,

    this is the statement I was replying to.

    “Moreover, your conspiracy theory [they want to take all our guns away slowly, to paraphrase]: where is your evidence?”

    The only they in that sentance that makes sense is the gun congrol movement, not the “mainstream of American sociopolitical identity”

    The Braddy Foundation is the heart of the gun control movement and “take all our guns away slowly” is exactly what they want. They used to admit this openly.

    Your use of the term consperacy theory is entirely inapproprate. You asked for evidence and I said go look at the Brady Foundation’s past public statements.

    At the moment they are losing and losing badly. That doesn’t mean that that can’t change if those of us who opose them stop paying attention to what they are doing.

  92. You are correct: my use of the term “conspiracy theory” was inappropriate. The BF is a marginalized organization; the NRA is inadvertently marginalizing itself as well. Its response to the Sandy Hook shooting was entirely ill-begotten (from a public relations standpoint; one of my degrees is in PR). Both organizations, if viewed as polar opposites, could improve their ability to influence by moving more toward the center. From a strategy standpoint, this does not mean they need to abandon their principles, it simply means they need to reposition their agendas through fluid modification of tactics. I won’t further bore you with specifics but it’s a fascinating dynamic (or lack thereof in many cases) and thanks to all of it, my Sturm-Ruger stocks have gained nearly 8 points in two days, testimony to the driving force that ultimately determines the fate of federal gun-control law.

  93. JH:

    I gather that you think that if guns were magically eliminated that the murder rate would drop more than 1 per million.

    The FBI data shows around 12000 gun related murders in 2011.

    There are around 300,000,000 million people in the United States.

    12000 of 300 million is less than 1 per million – so even if all guns were eliminated the murder rate couldn’t drop more than 1 per million because you would only eliminate around 12000 murders (and maybe not even that because other weapons like knives may be used instead).

  94. @jshewey:

    “Both organizations, if viewed as polar opposites, could improve their ability to influence by moving more toward the center.”

    What is the center of the following text?

    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Keep in mind the importance of defining the term “infringed”.

  95. DAV:
    “If you think gun control will make you safer then I propose you lack imagination.”

    Where did I say I think such?

  96. jshewey,

    “not necessarily; in an individual non-premeditated act: remove the easiest means and make the remaining means progressively more difficult to actuate and it may be that the chance of the individual act occurring decreases; in a premeditated act, premeditation may hinge on the ease with which the act can be committed”

    In an individual non-premeditated act a gun is seldom the easiest means. For a true completely spur of the moment murder, ye olde blunt instrument is easiest. You don’t have to explicitly take a weapon with you, just grab the handiest object at the scene.

    Unless a given person normally carries a gun at all times, having a gun at the point of the murder indicates at least partial premeditation.

    From what I have read, the murder rate by concealed carry permit holders is an order of magnitude lower than for the general population.

    So again, unless the gun was brought to the scene of the murder by the victim, why did the suspect even have a gun? Was the suspect in the habit of carrying a gun at all times?

    My understanding is that for the majority of murder by gun cases not tied to drugs or other organized crime the answer to the second question is no.