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Canadian Government to Ban Handguns:

Facing elections in late January, due to a no-confidence vote in Parliament that resulted from a corruption scandal, Canada's ruling Liberal party will announce a handgun ban on Thursday. All legally-owned handguns have been registered in Canada since the 1930s.

On September 22, 1998, Anne McLellan (the Liberal Minister of Justice) said "we're not interested in confiscating their guns, as long as they are legitimate gun owners, as long as they store them appropriately, transport them appropriately and so on ..."

That same day, in a debate in Canada's Parliament, Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough East) stated,

Turning now to the motion, the first issue is the confiscation of private property. If the mover thought about that for more than five seconds, he would realize that a proper registration system gives security of ownership and enhances value. Far from confiscating, it does the exact opposite and legitimizes the owning of firearms. Certainly property registration does wonders for land titles and land values as it does for motor vehicles and other forms of property. Why would it not be true with firearms?

On August 26, 2004, Canada's Commissioner of Firearms spoke at the annual meeting of the Canadian Professional Police Association. He declared: "For years, firearm owners have expressed fears regarding the confiscation of firearms. This is a concern I heard loud and clear when we held consultations with firearms organizations last fall. But, in fact, those fears have not materialized."

In a 1976, interview in the New Yorker, the late Nelson Shields, who was then the head of the group which is now known as the Brady Campaign, explained registration's purpose:

The first problem is to slow down the number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem is to get handguns registered. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal.
(Richard Harris, "A Reporter at Large: Handguns," New Yorker, July 26, 1976, p. 58.)

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Gun Control in Canada, Yesterday and Today:
  2. Canadian Government to Ban Handguns:
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
Awesome. Lets get those gun smugglers off the unemployment lines.

As always, only the law abiding citizenry will suffer from this latest disarmament campaign. Widespread civilian helplessness in the face of violent crime will encourage more violent criminals to come out of the woodwork. The best and the brightest will flee the cities and the cities will become even worse as a result. Gosh, where have we seen this before?

Does anyone know anything about Canadian self defense law? I would put money on it being somewhat more restrictive than FL law.
12.8.2005 1:15am
Bobbie:
Yes, all that violent crime in Canada. Why don't they roll back their gun laws so they look more like the US's? That way, they'll be able to match our low violent crime rate and avoid "widespread civilian helplessness"!
12.8.2005 1:48am
Doc (mail):
An odd coincidence that this is during the Western Standard Cruise, eh?
12.8.2005 2:07am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
It's a bit unclear to me - is this a government ukase to ban handguns or proposed legislation? If the former, is that sort of thing allowed under Canadian law? Or was the possibility written into their gun registration law. Frightening.

In any event, if it happens, I would predict higher crime rates in Canada.

Brooks Lyman
12.8.2005 2:30am
Splunge (mail):
If the Conservatives had brains, they'd coolly agree to help pass the bill on condition that (1) the measure be named after the governing party ("The Liberal Party's Handgun Ban Act of 2005"), (2) the measure be enforced starting 1 January 2007, (3) that from 1 January 2006 until 2012, some ministry or other must put up on a Web site every day the number of murders committed by handguns in Canada that day, along with a nice line graph showing murders/day from 2006 to the present, and (4) all TV stations must, no less often than once a week, and at the beginning of every story about a murder committed by a handgun, show the graph on-screen for 30 seconds, and give viewers the URL of the web site.

One of two things would happen: either the ban will function as advertised, and there will be a steep drop in handgun murders in Canada beginning sharply in January 2006 and proceeding steadily thereafter. In that case, all kinds of gun-ownership advocates are going to be red in the face, and people will angrily wonder why the government waited so long to do the right thing. Or, the ban will prove useless or even dangerous, as the handgun murder rate stays the same or rises, and the Liberal Party will have blown their credibility on the issue for a generation. Either way, Canadian voters will know better how to vote in ten years' time.

This will never happen, of course. If there's one thing politicians of all stripes can agree on, it's that the beautiful theories of human behaviour so eloquently expressed by their silver-tongued selves should never be subject to so crass and depressing a thing as a careful and thorough empirical test.
12.8.2005 4:25am
Brett Bellmore (mail):
On the bright side, we'll have yet another example to point to when gun controllers insist that registration has nothing to do with confiscation. Not that that's much of a bright side for the Canadians...
12.8.2005 6:31am
Medis:
I found the article very amusing. I particularly liked the part about Liberals using this as a wedge issue against Conservatives . . . mirror images are such fun!
12.8.2005 8:35am
Cornellian (mail):
74 murders in Toronto last year, a city of about 4.5 million people. Obviously a crime wave requiring severe measures. Geez.
12.8.2005 8:39am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Damn Canadians, giving away our secret anti-gun strategy!

Next they'll be leaking the Dems' plans to lose the war in Iraq!
12.8.2005 9:18am
anonymous coward:
The argument of some of this post eludes me. Anne McLellan and John McKay are quoted drawing a distinction between regulation and confiscation; there is no indication they have changed their mind or were arguing in bad faith at the time, although either is possible. Nelson Shields and the current Liberal party apparently want to ban handguns.

If I support some gun control measures, does that also mean I have a secret hankering to ban guns that I don't know about but will soon materialize? Am I falling into a sinister trap set by shadowy, powerful anti-gun groups? Will my weak mind be overcome by the slippery slope?
12.8.2005 9:40am
anonymous coward:
Of course, regardless of whether crime decreases or increases in Canada after the passage of such a measure, it will probably be impossible to make any strong empirical conclusion about the effect of the handgun ban. We can't run two parallel Canadas, one with handguns and one without, and compare 2010 crime rates (maybe changes in the US crime rate could be a decent proxy, but I doubt it). Such is life.
12.8.2005 9:45am
Tam:

If I support some gun control measures, does that also mean I have a secret hankering to ban guns that I don't know about but will soon materialize? Am I falling into a sinister trap set by shadowy, powerful anti-gun groups? Will my weak mind be overcome by the slippery slope?



The answers, of course, are "not necessarily." But if your support did not extend so far as a ban, you might now be considering whether the train has passed your stop and it's high time to get off.
12.8.2005 9:52am
AppSocRes (mail):
Since the 1950s Canada has passed more and more restrictive firearms laws and rates of violent crime have steadily increased. The Provinces that have passed the most extreme restrictions have seen the largest increases. Over the last decade and a half, while US rates of violent crimes have been falling, Canadian rates have been rising. The reason Canadian murder rates are lower than US rates is that historically they have always been much lower. This is more a matter of culture than anything else.

The liberal government is in very deep trouble due to a number of major political scandals. They'll probably lose badly to the PQ in Quebec. I suspect that they are letting their incredibly wacky (by US standards) base loose, because it can't make things any worse for them with the general public and may solidify their core consituencies. I expect the the NDP and Conservative parties may wind up forming a coalition government, but I don't expect that to last very long.
12.8.2005 9:57am
anonymous coward:
"Since the 1950s Canada has passed more and more restrictive firearms laws and rates of violent crime have steadily increased."

And as we all know, correlation implies causation.
12.8.2005 10:01am
Ofc. Krupke (mail) (www):
And as we all know, correlation implies causation.

Doesn't have to. The argument presented for gun control is inevitably that it will result in crime rates going down. Otherwise, what is the point of the legislation?

The restrictions may not be causing the rate to go up by themselves, but it's hard to argue that they're working as advertised.
12.8.2005 10:14am
Medis:
Ofc. Krupke,

Actually, there are a lot of possible arguments for gun legislation that do not depend on crime rates being a function of gun regulations (as an aside, I personally think the evidence for gun regulations having anything but extremely marginal effects on crime rates is very weak, in both directions). Perhaps the most obvious such argument is the "instrumentality" argument: that even if the rate of violent incidents (including violent crimes, accidents, and suicides) remains the same, if guns are involved in fewer such incidents, the total violent harm done will be less. That is because guns are particularly harmful instruments (for the most part, of course, they are designed to be that way), and thus the violent harm per incident will likely go down if the frequency of gun use in these incidents goes down.

Anyway, on the general "slippery slope" idea: it seems to me like a reasonable proposition that if milder forms of gun regulation end up providing political benefits to some politicians, then those politicians are likely to keep trying less and less mild forms of gun regulation until they reach the point that they are no longer getting any political benefits out of it. Of course, that is the nature of representative democracy.
12.8.2005 10:30am
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
Well sadly, much the gun control debate is framed in terms of "guns are only legitimate for civilian ownership if they have a direct preventive effect on crime." I beleive that guns arent a magic on-off switch for violent crime, but one of many factors that will help to reduce it or inflame it. NYC was able to reduce its crime without arming its populace, but this was coupled with a wide array of social and political changes in the city.

By the same token, civilian carry laws have a few victories of their own, usually in high crime areas. After Florida passed the car-carry and concealed carry laws, carjackers continued to attack tourists in rental cars. They resolved this by removing the stickers on the back of the cars, at which point the carjackings stopped. Although this doesnt rise to the level of indisputable causation, the criminals had clearly begun avoiding the vehicles of local residents since the passage of the car carry bill. And this was coupled with a large overall reduction in violent crime, statewide.

Which applies to Canada:
If your crime is already very low for other reasons, a heavily armed citizenry is unlikely to encounter violent criminals, so whether they are armed or not is irrelevant for the purposes of crime rate. By the same token, a slight rise in crime in such an area wont be combatted by disarming the estimated 33 percent of gun owners who have complied with the registration laws.

But that isnt to say that there aren't OTHER reasons civilians should remain heavily armed. But that is a social and political debate for another time.
12.8.2005 10:34am
anonymous coward:
"The argument presented for gun control is inevitably that it will result in crime rates going down."

Nonsense. The argument is that it would push crime rates down with everything else held constant. (Which it never is, so how do you tell for sure if it worked? I mean, gun control enacted at the end of the crack epidemic would seem totally sweet. This is why empirical analysis of public policy is seldom conclusive, or even strongly suggestive, despite fancy statistical analysis. There aren't two otherwise-identical Canadas we can run in parallel.)

"I personally think the evidence for gun regulations having anything but extremely marginal effects on crime rates is very weak, in both directions"

Agreed. (Talking about realistic regulation here. I mean, if you could majik away all guns from North America and erect a powerful anti-gun force field, the murder rate would go down, if not all the way to Japanese levels...)
12.8.2005 10:39am
Medis:
anonymous coward,

Although even then, things like the assault rate and attempted homicide rate might go up as the actual homicide rate went down.
12.8.2005 10:57am
Craig Oren (mail):
I take it that the argument is that registration leads inevitable to confiscation/ prohibition. Have there been situations in which registration did not have this result? Have there been situations in which prohibition of possession was carried out without prior registration?
12.8.2005 11:13am
Steve P. (mail):

Although even then, things like the assault rate and attempted homicide rate might go up as the actual homicide rate went down.

Works for me. I'd rather be attacked with a knife than with a gun.
12.8.2005 12:03pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Medis -

On the instrumentality argument, I would say that while nobody wants to get shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, etc., that the chances of maiming or other serious, lasting impairment would be greater from a serious stabbing or beating than from a gunshot wound. But of course, this all depends on the location of the injuries. Best to avoid trouble if at all possible....

Craig Oren -

It is not really possible to answer your first question, as there are plenty of places (right here in Massachusetts, for example) where we have registration, but not (yet) confiscation. We do have bans on the sale of certain types of firearms (including Olympic-class target handguns which do not pass the law's "safety" tests); but in most such cases the current possession of banned or prohibited firearms is in some way "grandfathered." In other words, no confiscation or ban today, but wait until next year.... It's a slippery slope issue, and better to avoid it.

I am not aware (though Dave Kopel might be) of any situations where prohibition of possession was carried out without prior registration. Note, however, that one needs to define this more carefully. For example, do we include conquest or coup situations (all citizens will turn in their guns to the occupation authorities under pain of death)?

Without grandfathering of current possession (basically a ban on new sales), this would imply the outlawing of current possession, and thus confiscation, which could only be carried out by police state tactics or citizen acquiesence. The former carries the obvious threat to liberty; the latter is likely to be ineffective if the ban on possession is seen as being contrary to the interest (and survival) of the individuals concerned. Think of the little old lady who lives in a high-crime neighborhood and owns a now-illegal gun to defend herself from criminal attack. She might well take the attitude that it's "better to be tried by twelve than carried by six."

Brooks Lyman
12.8.2005 12:08pm
Alex R:
I, too, am puzzled by the implied argument in this post regarding a progression from registration of guns to banning them.

According to the linked article, all guns have been required to be registered in Canada for the last 60 years. If this is a case of the "slippery slope", then the slope in this case appears not to be all that steep or slippery...

(Aside: can we independently quantify steepness and slipperiness? :-)
12.8.2005 12:09pm
Gordon (mail):
From the article linked:


Given the number of stolen guns used in crime, Comartin said there had been some discussion earlier this year at the all-party Commons justice committee about tightening regulations governing safe storage and use of handguns. But that is something that falls under provincial jurisdiction.


Just out of curiosity, do gun rights absolutists recognize that this is a problem? Is it worthy of government regulationa and perhaps mandatory training on gun safety (like we do with automobiles)? Or do you think negiligent gun owners whose stolen weapons are used in crime should be liable in tort?
12.8.2005 12:14pm
Stamboulieh (mail):
Gordon,

"Is it worthy of government regulationa and perhaps mandatory training on gun safety (like we do with automobiles)? Or do you think negiligent gun owners whose stolen weapons are used in crime should be liable in tort?"

Personally, I wish we would hold the criminals liable, instead of the people they stole the firearm from. Would we hold a car owner liable when his car is stolen and used in a crime? Would we hold a smoker responsible when his lighter is stolen and used for an arson?

Everyone should be responsible for their own gun safey. However, in this day and age that we live, the "left" and other anti-gun people have scared people away from guns, so that they don't even want to learn how to use one safely. I don't know how a government could mandate a training session on gun safety. I know that for permit holders, most of them have to go through some kind of safety training.

S
12.8.2005 12:23pm
Shelby (mail):
Gordon:
Just out of curiosity, do gun rights absolutists recognize that this is a problem?

I don't know how useful this site is for what "gun rights absolutists" think, but you might try here for a more authoritative take.
12.8.2005 12:29pm
Harpo:
Welcome to one the internet's most pointless pastimes ever:
arguing about gun-crime statistics.
12.8.2005 12:32pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
I don't think registration leads inevitably to confiscation, but it certainly does facilitate it, and demonstrably has no other appreciable utility. The point here, though, is just how worthless assurances that there won't be a confiscation have proven in practice. In some cases those assurances might even be sincere, but so what? Governments do change, and one session of the legislature can't constrain the next.

And, frankly, I don't think the assurances are even the slightest bit sincere in most cases.
12.8.2005 12:49pm
Justin Kee (mail):
Just think of mandatory gun registration as a sort of "parental notification law" for gun owners.
12.8.2005 12:57pm
Sigivald (mail):
Steve P: Unfortunately, people likely to attack you are very unlikely to be the sort that obey such laws.

Personally, I think people who have to deal with attacks should be armed with guns rather than knives or nothing, especially given that criminal attackers tend to be young males (ie, strong), and their victims are as likely as not going to be weaker (and less skilled in physical combat) than their attackers.

There's some quote about Samuel Colt and equality that comes to mind, as apt now as it was over a century ago.
12.8.2005 12:59pm
Justin (mail):
"and demonstrably has no other appreciable utility"

Great way to assume the conclusion, Brett!

I think you'd have a slightly better point if you said "has not demonstrated to have any other appreciable utility." Clearly, the question of whether gun registration has all sorts of utilities, from decreasing gun violence overall to helping lower the amount of accidental gun deaths, to making it more difficult for criminals to get guns, is still AT LEAST DEBATABLE given that not-legally-insane people with degrees from good schools are actually debating these questions.
12.8.2005 1:03pm
therut (mail):
Whooo Hooo . Just wait till the criminals start using sawed off shotguns and rifles for their crime. That will be alot more deadly than any handgun. Gotta get rid of them too. Never will happen. I'll take being shot by a handgun anyday over a rifle, sawed off shotgun or rifle, or regular shotgun.. Really this is stupid on parade. Maybe the one good thing that will come out of it is a Canadian built fence across the border. That the liberals would spend money on the keep those EVIL handguns out of their pure utopian. Been there once to Canada NEVER again. Pity for them.
12.8.2005 1:04pm
Justin (mail):
Postscript: Can one actually demonstrate the lack of an "appreciable utility"? Wouldn't that include an infinite amount of studies, such as the effect of gun registration on teenage sexual activity, which would be impossible to get any sort of any reliable empirical data?
12.8.2005 1:05pm
Medis:
Brooks,

There are actually a number of empirical studies with respect to these instrumentality effects. Not surprisingly, the magnitude of the effect depends in part on the nature of the incident. For example, if you really want to kill someone, and you have the benefit of surprise or a particularly helpless victim, then guns, knives, baseball bats, and even your bare hands may all be sufficient.

On the other hand, if the incident does not fall into that category of deliberate and calculated homicide, it is more likely that the instrument will matter. For example, in most assaults (like a bar fight), generally it is much more likely someone will die if a gun is involved. The same is true with suicide attempts and violent robberies. That is because you are often talking about relatively few wounds, and not necessarily in immediately fatal locations, and so the potential lethality of any given wound matters. Guns, of course, are particularly lethal on a per wound basis when compared to most knives, bats, fists, and so on.

Incidentally, there are also notable distinctions among guns. For example, with pistols, generally the higher the caliber, the worse the damage per wound (not surprisingly), and thus also the greater the chance that a wound in a given location will prove fatal (eg, a .22 shot to the leg is less likely to be fatal than a .45 shot to the leg). Long guns are also more likely to be fatal than pistols, given a wound in the same location. And so on.

So, I think you are suggesting that something like a single gunshot may not be worse than something like a sustained beating or repeated stabbings. But any given gunshot is likely to be worse than a single punch or stab wound, and in many incidents that instrumentality effect could make a difference.
12.8.2005 1:08pm
Medis:
therut,

As noted above, it is true that long guns tend to be more lethal than pistols, so the "instrumentality" argument would suggest that we would want to avoid that substitution.

Of course, that substitution may not occur in all (or even many) gun incidents, even if long guns are easily available and pistols are not. For example, long guns tend to be more expensive, harder to conceal, harder to carry around, and harder to use in certain circumstances (again, think bar fights). This, of course, is again by design (the form of pistols follows these functions).
12.8.2005 1:18pm
sprice (mail):
This is simply a political stunt to drum up support before an election. Laying out your laundry list of policies to be enacted is the parlimentary style tradition. A policy announced by the current party in power makes it no more certain to be enacted.

It is quite a hassle to purchase and own a handgun already so the idea of a ban is simply symbolic. The interested parties who use handguns now will be exempt anyway. I doubt the Liberal party will get any traction with this policy in any case.

Canada's gun policy is not a very good comparison to the debate surrounding guns in this country. The society is very respectful towards the police and expect it from them. The gun issue is limited to hunting rifles and shotguns needed for hunting and rural security.
12.8.2005 1:35pm
ak47pundit (www):
anonymous coward:
The argument of some of this post eludes me. Anne McLellan and John McKay are quoted drawing a distinction between regulation and confiscation; there is no indication they have changed their mind or were arguing in bad faith at the time, although either is possible. Nelson Shields and the current Liberal party apparently want to ban handguns.
However, the Liberal Justice Minister at the time the new registration act was introduced, (as well as the original ban on .32 and .25 handguns, and those with barrells under 4.01 inches) had this to say: "I came to Ottawa with the firm belief that the only people in this country who should have guns are police officers and soldiers."
-- Allan Rock, Canada's Minister of Justice
Maclean's "Taking Aim on Guns", April 25, 1994, page 12.
A
t least they Liberals are consistent, the current ban on handguns will maintain[] the right for police to carry handguns.

Of course at the time, the Liberals belitted anyone who dared say it would lead to confiscation as alarmist.
12.8.2005 2:06pm
jgshapiro (mail):
After Florida passed the car-carry and concealed carry laws, carjackers continued to attack tourists in rental cars. They resolved this by removing the stickers on the back of the cars, at which point the carjackings stopped. Although this doesnt rise to the level of indisputable causation, the criminals had clearly begun avoiding the vehicles of local residents since the passage of the car carry bill.

Most states still do not allow car carry, but I think all rental agencies have removed their stickers. So unless the carjacking rates only declined (or declined significantly more) in the car carry states, this argument is senseless.

Have there been situations in which prohibition of possession was carried out without prior registration?

San Francisco is attempting this right now. Pursuant to referendum passed one month ago, private possession of arms was prohibited and all weapons are required to be turned in by April 1, 2006 (though I believe the application of the law has been temporarily stayed). I can't recall any registration requirement that preceded it. See here

I don't think registration leads inevitably to confiscation, but it certainly does facilitate it, and demonstrably has no other appreciable utility.

Registration makes it easier to track down guns used in crimes and therefore makes it less likely that a gun would be used in a crime, since the owner knows he is more likely to be found. If the police find a gun used in a crime, but can't trace the prints to its user (or there are no prints), they can trace the gun to its owner and work from there.

Registration also makes it easier to track illegal gun sales, such as sales to felons who are not permitted to own guns. Say you arrest a felon after a crime, he is found to have a gun, you trace it to the moron who sold it to him (he couldn't buy it at a store because of his criminal record) and you arrest the moron too. That has a deterrant effect on illegals sales and makes it more difficult for felons to get guns.

I'm not sure where you get your statement 'demonstrably' has no other utility. Where is your demonstration? You understand the difference between assertion and demonstration, right?

To paraphrase Mandy Patankin, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."
12.8.2005 2:06pm
Neal Lang (mail):
The restrictions may not be causing the rate to go up by themselves, but it's hard to argue that they're working as advertised.

Query: Why is it that in the US, communities with the most draconian firearms restrictions tend to be the most violent and crime prone?

Could be because the urban slums are, as Dilinger once said about why he robbed banks "where the money is"? Or perhaps might it simply be: "that's where the unarmed victims are"?
12.8.2005 2:20pm
Neal Lang (mail):
"Talking about realistic regulation here. I mean, if you could majik away all guns from North America and erect a powerful anti-gun force field, the murder rate would go down, if not all the way to Japanese levels..."

Query: if firearms restrictions are such an possitive influence on the "murder rate", why then is the "murder rate" of ethnic Japanese living in the United States even lower than that of ethnic Japanese living in Japan?
12.8.2005 2:30pm
Medis:
Neal,

I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that ethnicity is not the only contributing factor to crime rates.
12.8.2005 2:32pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Works for me. I'd rather be attacked with a knife than with a gun.

My personal preference is defending myself with a firearm, whether the "perp" is armed with club, knife or firearm. The amazing thing is that governments and hoplophobic people fear honest folks being armed.
12.8.2005 2:39pm
Aultimer:

Neal Lang:

Query: Why is it that in the US, communities with the most draconian firearms restrictions tend to be the most violent and crime prone?

Could be because the urban slums are, as Dilinger once said about why he robbed banks "where the money is"? Or perhaps might it simply be: "that's where the unarmed victims are"?

At the risk of sounding like a registered Democrat, I think it might be "that's where the criminals think they're most likely to succeed (due variously to unarmed victims, lack of police resources and the ability to influence witnesses)"?
12.8.2005 2:39pm
Medis:
Neal,

Of course, you would need the opportunity to defend yourself as well.
12.8.2005 2:44pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Or do you think negiligent gun owners whose stolen weapons are used in crime should be liable in tort?

How about making firearms theft a "capital crime"? Oh, I forgot, we are, afterall, speaking about Canada.
12.8.2005 2:45pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I don't think registration leads inevitably to confiscation, but it certainly does facilitate it, and demonstrably has no other appreciable utility.

Especially considering that criminals, according to the Supremes, are not required to register their illegal by virtue of the "self-incrimination" provision of the 5th Amendment.
12.8.2005 2:50pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Registration also makes it easier to track illegal gun sales, such as sales to felons who are not permitted to own guns.

That's the theory. Since we have actual experience with registration, how about some supporting evidence from said experience?
12.8.2005 2:55pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that ethnicity is not the only contributing factor to crime rates.

Only if you ignore the crime statistics demographics! For instance, Japanese Americans have one of the lowest homicide and crime rates in the United States, despite the "easy availability of firearms". Go figure!
12.8.2005 2:58pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Is it worthy of government regulationa and perhaps mandatory training on gun safety (like we do with automobiles)?

Since the problems with cars are unintended results while the problems with guns are intended results, it's unclear why safety training is relevant.

Note that "treating guns like cars" would actually be a reduction in the restrictions on guns, but you'd have to actually know the restrictions on both to know that.
12.8.2005 3:00pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Of course, you would need the opportunity to defend yourself as well.

I suggest that before you assume that "firearm bans" somehow produce a "crime-free utopia" you query the crime ravished citizens of England!
12.8.2005 3:19pm
Neal Lang (mail):
At the risk of sounding like a registered Democrat, I think it might be "that's where the criminals think they're most likely to succeed (due variously to unarmed victims, lack of police resources and the ability to influence witnesses)"?

Most "unarmed" urban areas have a higher populations (i.e. more potential witnesses) and larger police forces than do the comparatively tranquil "heavily armed" areas. Go figure!
12.8.2005 3:27pm
Medis:
Neal,

If you look above, you will see that I am quite skeptical about the proposition that gun regulations have a substantial effect on overall violent crime rates.

But similarly, I am skeptical about the frequency of occasions in which you will actually be able to use your firearm to protect yourself from a "perp".
12.8.2005 3:30pm
countertop (mail):

Most states still do not allow car carry, but I think all rental agencies have removed their stickers. So unless the carjacking rates only declined (or declined significantly more) in the car carry states, this argument is senseless.


Where did you dig up this rubbish? Most states DO ALLOW you to carry in the car.

Concerning CONCEALED CARRY (Open carry without a permit is another issue altogether) at least 35 states have shall issue concealed carry laws. Nine other's have "may issue" laws that vary based by state (New Jersey, New York, and Maryland, are pretty much no issue unless your a well connected democrat politician or a movie star while other states like Connecticut and California depend more on the whim of local officials and hence rural citizens have a greater opportunity). Two states, Vermont and Alaska, allow you to carry where ever and whenever and dont require any permit.

All told, 64+% of the states provide the pretty much unfettered right to carry in a car and 92.2% provide some right to carry a gun in a car.

I'd hardly call that "most states don't"
12.8.2005 3:35pm
countertop (mail):

if firearms restrictions are such an possitive influence on the "murder rate", why then is the "murder rate" of ethnic Japanese living in the United States even lower than that of ethnic Japanese living in Japan?


Can you cite me to data on this? I was in a heated debate this weekend with a Jim Moran staffer (and friend, even though he is a gun banning bigot) and he threw Japan out at me. I argued its a different culture and guns had nothing to do with it (look at respective suicide rates, for example) but would like to explore this idea some more too.
12.8.2005 3:38pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Registration also makes it easier to track illegal gun sales, such as sales to felons who are not permitted to own guns.

In order to make this so it would also be necessary simultaneously to the passage of the firearms registration act to also pass a companion piece of legislation that requires all convicted felons to be premenantly tatooed with a "big red 'F'" in the middle of their foreheads, thus insuring that said "morons" can tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys".
12.8.2005 3:44pm
jgshapiro (mail):
All told, 64+% of the states provide the pretty much unfettered right to carry in a car and 92.2% provide some right to carry a gun in a car.

I don't know the reliability of the site you liked to, but assuming it is accurate, you still don't address the point of whether the carjacking rate is lower in right to carry states than in "right denied" or "may issue" states.

If it is true that the right to carry has some effect or is principally responsible for the decline in carjackings, there should be a demonstrable (to use a common word on this thread) decline in carjacking in states with car carry laws as opposed to those without them. Where is the evidence to show this?

In order to make this so it would also be necessary simultaneously to the passage of the firearms registration act to also pass a companion piece of legislation that requires all convicted felons to be premenantly tatooed with a "big red 'F'" in the middle of their foreheads, thus insuring that said "morons" can tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys".

Well, this is just stupid. A registration law (like a car registration law) would mean that every time a gun changed hands, the old and/or new owner would have to register the transfer. In doing so, the authority responsible for maintaining the registration database (probably ATF or the state equivalent) would know who the felons were. The burden would be on the transferor (pre-transfer) to check with the authority to ensure that the transferee was not a felon.
12.8.2005 4:44pm
Splunge (mail):
I think the difficulty with the "instrumentality" argument is that it rather naively sets the probability of, e.g. bar fights to the same number with and without guns. But as Heinlein says, an armed society is a polite society. If he is correct, then the decrease in the probability of a crazed bar fight due to the fact that no one knows who might be packing would more than compensate for the increased lethality per fight because of the possible presence of guns.

What surprises me a little is that the same people use both sides of this argument. For example, they will tell me to be sure to do whatever a carjacker says, because he might have a gun. On the other hand, they will say carjackers are not likely to modify their behaviour because I might have a gun. Uh, which is it?

That is, if I'm expected to believe ordinary citizens change their behaviour significantly when criminals have guns, then why can't I believe criminals would significantly change their behaviour when ordinary citizens have guns?
12.8.2005 5:00pm
Justin (mail):
Neal, what are you talking about when you say:

In order to make this so it would also be necessary simultaneously to the passage of the firearms registration act to also pass a companion piece of legislation that requires all convicted felons to be premenantly tatooed with a "big red 'F'" in the middle of their foreheads, thus insuring that said "morons" can tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys".

I suspect the poster u were responding to was making the common sense point that if you arrest a felon with a gun, you can trace the serial number to the last person who legally owned said gun, and prosecute the illegal gun sale.
12.8.2005 5:18pm
Justin (mail):

I suggest that before you assume that "firearm bans" somehow produce a "crime-free utopia" you query the crime ravished citizens of England!


Okay, but if we get to compare crime rates in England and the US, I'm not sure that you're going to like the results. If they're crime ravished, we're crime gangbanged.
12.8.2005 5:20pm
Medis:
Splunge,

Right, whether or not gun possession has a significant effect on the rate of violent incidents would be a separate issue. In theory, it could work either way. For example, gun possession could, as you suggest, make drunken idiots in bars more polite in case someone else is packing. Alternatively, gun possession could embolden those drunken idiots who own guns to get in a fight on the theory that their gun gives them the upper hand (or at least equalizes their chances, if they are otherwise scrawny). Of course, it is hard to imagine arguments on both sides of something like suicide (no one is afraid of the potential "victim" shooting back), but maybe the benefit of fewer bar fight would outweight the increased fatality rate in suicides. And so on.

So, I don't think speculation is very useful--this is basically an empirical question, and it could well vary from place to place and time to time. But my own sense after reading various studies is that gun regulation does not have much of an effect on the overall rate of violent incidents one way or the other.
12.8.2005 5:27pm
Captain Questions (mail):
So, this is how politics works in Canada? Every time the Liberal Party gets in trouble for being corrupt, socialist, and sleazy, they pander to female sensibilities and hope to pull themselves out of the jam? Didn't they already try homosexual marriage to kill the bad press they were getting before? What's next, mandatory Mother's Day?

Are there any men at all left up North?
12.8.2005 5:40pm
Medis:
Captain Questions,

As I noted before, the mirror image effect of all this cracks me up.
12.8.2005 5:44pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> A registration law (like a car registration law) would mean that every time a gun changed hands, the old and/or new owner would have to register the transfer.

We don't have to hypthesize about what registration laws would accomplish, as they exist. (In fact, many/most US guns are trackable at both the state and federal level.) Please cite actual experience that supports your claims as to their value.

For example, Hinkley's gun was traced within a couple of hours.
12.8.2005 6:10pm
jgshapiro (mail):
I suspect the poster u were responding to was making the common sense point that if you arrest a felon with a gun, you can trace the serial number to the last person who legally owned said gun, and prosecute the illegal gun sale.

Justin -- I think he was referring to my second point that you could also go after the owner who sold the gun to a felon, if indeed a shooter was found to be a felon. But even if the owner couldn't spot the felon on sight, he could still determine if he was a felon prior to making the sale.
12.8.2005 6:12pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
For some reason, the "gun control works" folks don't discuss how the UK's crime rates changed when the gun controls they like were imposed.

This burden has been satisfied by folks who pointed out that crime went up as the UK imposed stricter gun controls.
12.8.2005 6:14pm
Neal Lang (mail):
countertop:

Can you cite me to data on this? I was in a heated debate this weekend with a Jim Moran staffer (and friend, even though he is a gun banning bigot) and he threw Japan out at me. I argued its a different culture and guns had nothing to do with it (look at respective suicide rates, for example) but would like to explore this idea some more too.

Sorry about the delay. Here is one source:
Comparisons between gun crime in the U.S. and Japan also ignore cultural differences. To partially control for such differences, Dr. Kleck compared homicide rates among Japanese-Americans and their presumably culturally similar brethren in Japan. He found that "in Japan, where civilian gun ownership is virtually nonexistent and gun control laws are extremely strict, the homicide rate is 2.3 times as high as it is among Japanese-Americans living where guns are easily available and gun laws are far less restrictive." From: Point Blank by Gary Keck, Professor of Criminology, Florida State University

Another interesting factoid is:
Japan vs. the United States: murder and suicide rates
Japan's murder rate averages 0.9 per 100,000, but its suicide rate is 20.3, for a combined rate of 21.1 per 100,000. The U.S. murder rate averages 7.4 per 100,000, and the suicide rate is 12.0, for a combined total of 19.4 per 100,000. Thus, the combined murder and suicide rates in Japan and the U.S. are nearly equal even though firearms are virtually non-existent in Japan. (Source: National Safety Council's 1997 Accident Facts and the United Nations Demographic Yearbook)

Ask Rep. Moran if he willing to recommend Japan-like draconian police powers for America in order to attain similar "crime control" results as the Japanese. If so, advise him that the Nips enjoy a 95% criminal confession rate, and to reach that rate with American criminals we would need to gut the 4th and 5th amendments, and redefine habeas corpus. Also, hiring Saddam Hussien's out of work interrogators might helpful.

For additional facts regarding Japanese "criminal control" see David Kopel's The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy.

Regards,

Neal
12.8.2005 6:42pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):
Justin, gun registration isn't a new idea, it's been around for many decades in one form or another, and has a track record. We don't have to speculate about it's effects. And, to my understanding, confiscation IS the only thing it's demonstrated any appreciable utility for. By "appreciable", I mean not merely proving useful in a handful of isolated incidents, but actually demonstrating a utility remotely proportionate to the expense and bother it involves.

Take a look at the fortune Canada has poured into their gun registry, and imagine that they'd spent the money on more police...
12.8.2005 6:47pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I suspect the poster u were responding to was making the common sense point that if you arrest a felon with a gun, you can trace the serial number to the last person who legally owned said gun, and prosecute the illegal gun sale.

You make the illogial conclusion that the private seller of a firearm has some way to detrmine whether or not the purchaser is a felon. Now in order to assure the private seller will be able to identify felons vs. non-felons the only sure way is to "brand" all convicted felons as I suggested. If I am not mistaken, "criminal intent" is necessary to establish criminal behavior. Unless you intend to change this "common sense" requirement of US Criminal Law, than I suggest that the proposal to make private sells a retroactively a crime for the innocent seller based on the activity of the purchaser after the sale, I suggest branding all felons is the only sure way to make such activity illegal and prosecutable. Congress recently handled a similar problem in the area of Tort law when they decoupled maker/distributor liability from post-purchase criminal misuse.
12.8.2005 7:05pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):

If it is true that the right to carry has some effect or is principally responsible for the decline in carjackings, there should be a demonstrable (to use a common word on this thread) decline in carjacking in states with car carry laws as opposed to those without them. Where is the evidence to show this?


Most states have never had severe problems with carjackings and daylight robberies. Of the states that have had such problems, only Florida responded by liberalizing carry laws.

Florida was way above the national average for pretty much every type of violent crime. After going from no-carry to liberal carry laws, all types of violent crime experienced a drastic and continuing (for 10+ years) downward separation from the national trends. Florida is now below the rest of the country in terms of violent crime. I cited the carjacking phenomena because it provides a very specific case of criminals adapting to social change (the carrying of weapons) by targeting victims they knew to be unarmed and then abandoning them when they could no longer discern them from the general public.

Also, it is arguable that states like Virginia and Arizona didnt see any reduction in violent crime after going to shall-issue concealed carry because they already had open carry laws on the books. Criminals had long since adapted to an armed public, so merely augmenting the manner in which this is transacted would not change anything.

As I said earlier, an armed citzenry is not a magical switch to turn off crime, but it can be a powerful lever in the right situations.

I personally support RKBA because I view it not as a question of "what weapons dont I want to be attacked with" but "what weapons do I wish to defend msyelf with, without going to jail afterwards." Having grown up in NYC, I know that criminals will always be as heavily armed as they wish, and the gun control laws are really just a way to keep people dependent on government for protection. Bernie Goetz was a valuable lesson for me.

I am similarly unswayed by the arguments that the prescence of firearms magically transforms people into raving lunatics bent on murder. I have been shooting for over 15 years (despite the disapproval of my parents) and have known enough shooters to know that this entire line of reasoning is bogus.
12.8.2005 7:24pm
Neal Lang (mail):
But similarly, I am skeptical about the frequency of occasions in which you will actually be able to use your firearm to protect yourself from a "perp".

Ask Professor Gary Keck, Criminology, Florida State University, about that:
Defense Against Criminals
** Handguns are used for protection against criminals nearly two million times per year, up to five times more often than to commit crimes. (Kleck, "The Frequency of Defensive Gun Use," in Kates and Kleck, The Great American Gun Debate, S.F.: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1997.)
** People who use guns to defend themselves are less likely to be attacked or injured than people who use other methods of protection or do not defend themselves. (Kleck, analysis of Nat'l Crime Victimization Surveys, Targeting Guns, 1997)

If every honest person was permitted to freely carry firearms, concealed, anywhere, I submit that such a situation would also protect you. That is, if you don't wear a tag that states that you refused to carry armed.
12.8.2005 7:34pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Okay, but if we get to compare crime rates in England and the US, I'm not sure that you're going to like the results. If they're crime ravished, we're crime gangbanged.


Really?

Contrary to The New York Times, crime is worse in Britain - "In general," asserts the Times, "crime rates in Britain are much lower than they are in the United States, a phenomenon largely attributed to the strict laws that ban handguns ... and strictly regulate who can have a gun and under what circumstances." The statement is quite simply incorrect. A recent joint study by America’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and Britain’s Cambridge University shows that crime rates are higher in Britain than the United States for robbery, assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft – in other words, all the major crimes apart from rape (where the figures on both sides of the Atlantic are notoriously unreliable) and murder. Crime rates in Britain have also grown since the study’s time period, while they have declined over here. Gun control in Britain has also become much stricter. By: Iain Murray, Senior Analyst, The Statistical Assessment Service at: Firing Blanks on British Crime Rates

Facts are terrible things!
12.8.2005 7:42pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Well, this is just stupid. A registration law (like a car registration law) would mean that every time a gun changed hands, the old and/or new owner would have to register the transfer. In doing so, the authority responsible for maintaining the registration database (probably ATF or the state equivalent) would know who the felons were. The burden would be on the transferor (pre-transfer) to check with the authority to ensure that the transferee was not a felon.

Hmmm! The ATF - isn't that the same outfit that brought us the "Waco Massacre"? I find your faith in the Federal government simply amazing, considering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Feds currently handle the "felon database" that makes "Brady" background checks possible. One of my colleagues has a Florida Concealled Firearms Carry Permit, issued by the State of Florida after fingerprinting and an extensive criminal background check. Even so, he cannot purchase a firearm from a dealer because this Federal database spits-out a "false positive" every time he attempts to purchase a firearm. BTW, in which State do you live that requires the seller of an automobile to determine if the purchaser is a felon?
12.8.2005 7:55pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Justin -- I think he was referring to my second point that you could also go after the owner who sold the gun to a felon, if indeed a shooter was found to be a felon. But even if the owner couldn't spot the felon on sight, he could still determine if he was a felon prior to making the sale.

How, pray tell can he do that when the ATF can't even get it right?
12.8.2005 8:00pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Of course, you would need the opportunity to defend yourself as well.

Gee, thanks!
12.8.2005 8:01pm
Neal Lang (mail):
If it is true that the right to carry has some effect or is principally responsible for the decline in carjackings, there should be a demonstrable (to use a common word on this thread) decline in carjacking in states with car carry laws as opposed to those without them. Where is the evidence to show this?

While criminals are dumb, they are not stupid. Most make a "cost-benefit analysis" before they do the dirty deed. Part of the equation is the "downside" or potential "punishment" as oppose the "upside" or reward. Factored into this equation is the likelihood of being caught, convicted, and punished versus the value of their "take" from the crime. When the environment where they ply their narfarious "trade" is complicated by an unknown number of "armed citizens", the reward has to be greater than the value of stripped auto to balance the equation of "risk vs. reward". When the potential of being shot to death by an armed victim is factored in, the value of the stripped auto makes practitioners of this occupation look for other work or a safer work place. That is one of the reasons that the crime rate is much higher in Washington, DC than in the supporting metropolitan areas of surround Virginia.
12.8.2005 8:37pm
BlackX (mail):
Have those unconvinced of the dangers of slippery slopes bothered to read the papers on that issue by the author for which this site is named? Try googling "volokh 'slippery slope'" if you have a problem finding them. Hell, Eugene was even able to convince Alan Dershowitz in the 3-way debate with Hennigan. (It was pretty clear that Dershowitz wasn't happy to admit it.)

As well, see Kopel's paper with Olson: http://www.guncite.com/journals/okslip.html.

And that's just a start.
12.8.2005 8:49pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Neal:

Your arguments are singularly unpersuasive.

1) The crime that most peope are worried about is murder and rape. As of 1996, the last date I could find a link for, the murder rate in the U.K. was six times higher than in the U.S. The rape rate was three times higher. (In contrast, only the auto theft rate in the U.K. was appreciably higher than in the U.S.) I dare say that most people would gladly trade a system where robbery, burglery, assault and motor vehicle theft would increase slightly and murder and rape would decrease significantly. So if you admit the U.K. example into evidence (see below), it is telling.

2) Nevertheless, if you reject evidence supporting gun control from the Japan example because of cultural differences, you have to reject any evidence you claim supports your position from the U.K. example. Both cultures are very different from ours. You cannot cherry-pick your foreign results examples. Despite the common background 230+ years ago and the language, the U.K. is a very different place than the U.S., with different cultural assumptions and value judgments. For example, in London, there are closed circuit cameras *everywhere*. No one minds. That type of "Big Brother is Watching You" deterrance would be a complete non-starter in the U.S.

3) Your statement about criminal intent is just flat-out wrong. For example, statutory rape does not have an intent element. The burden is on the man (or at least the older participant) to confirm that the woman (or the other participant) is over 18 -- or if not, is exempted by a Romeo & Juliet law. Evidence that you thought she was over 18 is irrelevant. Similarly, selling my car to my neighbor and not registering the sale is illegal. There is no mens rea element. The government doesn't have to show that I intended to hide the sale to prosecute me. There is no reason the same rule should not apply to the transfer of guns. The burden should be on the seller to confirm that the buyer is not a felon. All he has to do is check the database and he is golden.

4) The fact that you can point to errors in the system of registration does not mean it does not do a lot of good. It just means that in any system run by people, errors will occcur. Your colleague is just a victim of one of these errors. If your colleague had his social security benefits stopped because of a database error, does that mean that social security should be abolished? Does it mean that we should not keep records of who is eligible for social security, and anyone who says they are should get a check? I think most resonable people would say that it just means that shit happens, and let's fix it.
12.8.2005 9:00pm
jgshapiro (mail):
That is one of the reasons that the crime rate is much higher in Washington, DC than in the supporting metropolitan areas of surround Virginia.

Where is your evidence to support this? There are a thousand factors that could account for the high DC crime rate, including overwhelming poverty. Gun ownership is just one factor. Furthermore, what proof do you have that gun control in DC *increases* the crime rate? For all you know, it would be even higher without it. Your correlation-implies-causation arguments are getting tiresome.
12.8.2005 9:05pm
Neal Lang (mail):
For the extensive statistical data on the impact of "Concealled Carry Weapons" laws on crime see More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns by economist John R. Lott Jr., PhD
12.8.2005 9:07pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):

Your correlation-implies-causation arguments are getting tiresome.


The really tiresome thing is that you are deliberately feigning ignorance of well known facts to force us to back up every statement we make with 10-20 pages of stastics.

Northern Virginia and DC are both dense urban areas with similar rates of poverty, education and racial makeup. Many of the residents of one area work in the other. They are essentially one city split by a river - the only thing separating them is a 15 minute train ride. Criminals from either area could easily come to one side or the other and participate in violent crime. But they choose to avoid the legal-carry Virginia side for some reason.
12.8.2005 9:24pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
Since I took the trouble of responding to your nitpicking re: florida, could you at least favor us with a response?

The crux of your argument seems to essentially be "the relationships between various socialogical phenomena cant be proven to be absolutely true to the exclusion of all other explanations, therefore none of these explanations can even be partly true, no matter how convincing."
12.8.2005 9:30pm
Neal Lang (mail):
There are a thousand factors that could account for the high DC crime rate, including overwhelming poverty.


So your hypothesis is that criminals prefer to prey on poor people, and that the fact that their poor victims in DC are unarmed does not effect their calculus on where they ply their trade. Hmmm! Interesting!

BTW - Median household incomes:
Washington, DC = $40,127
Virginia = $47,163
US Average = $41,990
Source: 2000 census, U.S. Census Bureau
12.8.2005 9:30pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Neal:
Your arguments are singularly unpersuasive.

jgshapiro:
Your statistics are singularly out-of-date.

The cure is worse than the disease

In a pattern that's repeated itself in Canada and Australia, violent crime has continued to go up in Great Britain despite a complete ban on handguns, most rifles and many shotguns. The broad ban that went into effect in 1997 was trumpeted by the British government as a cure for violent crime. The cure has proven to be much worse than the disease.

Crime rates in England have skyrocketed since the ban was enacted. According to economist John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute, the violent crime rate has risen 69 percent since 1996, with robbery rising 45 percent and murders rising 54 percent. This is even more alarming when you consider that from 1993 to 1997 armed robberies had fallen by 50 percent. Recent information released by the British Home Office shows that trend is continuing.

Reports released in October 2004 indicate that during the second quarter of 2004, violent crime rose 11 percent; violence against persons rose 14 percent.

The British experience is further proof that gun bans don't reduce crime and, in fact, may increase it. The gun ban creates ready victims for criminals, denying law-abiding people the opportunity to defend themselves.

contrast, the number of privately owned guns in the United States rises by about 5 million a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The number of guns owned by Americans is at an all-time high, fast approaching 300 million.

Meanwhile the FBI reports that in 2003 the nation's violent crime rate declined for the 12th straight year to a 27-year low. The FBI's figures are based on crimes reported to police. By comparison, the U.S. Department of Justice reported in September that, according to its annual national crime victim survey, violent crime reached a 30-year low in 2003.

Right-to-Carry states fared better than the rest of the country in 2003. On the whole, their total violent crime, murder and robbery rates were 6 percent, 2 percent and 23 percent lower respectively than the states and the District of Columbia where carrying a firearm for protection against criminals is prohibited or severely restricted. On average in Right-to-Carry states the total violent crime, murder, robbery and aggravated assault rates were lower by 27 percent, 32 percent, 45 percent and 20 percent respectively.

As usual, most of the states with the lowest violent crime rates are those with the least gun control, including those in the Rocky Mountain region, and Maine, New Hampshire and Ver-mont in the Northeast. The District of Columbia and Maryland, which have gun bans and other severe restrictions on gun purchase and ownership, retained their regrettable distinctions as having the highest murder and robbery rates.

March 4, 2005 Lake County Record-Bee (CA, USA) At:Gun ban' utopia creates violent crime increase
12.8.2005 9:49pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Nevertheless, if you reject evidence supporting gun control from the Japan example because of cultural differences, you have to reject any evidence you claim supports your position from the U.K. example.

There's a big difference in the UK and Japan arguments. In the UK, we can look at what happened when gun control changed.

Folks have cited how crime went up with increasing gun control. Maybe it would have gone up anyway, but if you're going to argue that gun control helped in the UK, shouldn't there be an example when it did? For example, the original imposition wasn't associated with a dramatic decrease in crime.

The problem with Japan is that it always had gun control, so there's no japan w/o gun control to compare it to.
12.8.2005 9:58pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> The fact that you can point to errors in the system of registration does not mean it does not do a lot of good.

We have a lot of experience with certain gun control measures, including registration.

I'm still waiting for any of the registration advocates to cite actual good that it has done.

Failing that, perhaps one or more of them will tell us why he doesn't cite said experience.
12.8.2005 10:04pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Nevertheless, if you reject evidence supporting gun control from the Japan example because of cultural differences, you have to reject any evidence you claim supports your position from the U.K. example. Both cultures are very different from ours.

Your point is what? That a homogeneous population like that of Great Britain is apt to have higher rates of crime than mixed populations like the US. Very interesting hypothesis!

BTW, the point is that ethnic Japanese have low crime rates, whether they live the "gun rich" Wild West of the United States, or the "gun-less" environs of the Japanese Islands. Apparently, in the case of ethnic Japanese the availability of firearm has little or no effect on their propensity for criminal behavior.

With regards to "culture" - an interesting exercise might be to factor out from the US Statistics crimes committed by blacks and immigrants. I believe the effect might support, if you believe that availability to firearms is the prime cause of criminality, the total denial of firearm ownership to those two populations. Of course, denying blacks and immigrants the right to "keep and bear arms" is how "gun control" got it start in our country, now, isn't it?
12.8.2005 10:07pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Your statement about criminal intent is just flat-out wrong. For example, statutory rape does not have an intent element. The burden is on the man (or at least the older participant) to confirm that the woman (or the other participant) is over 18 -- or if not, is exempted by a Romeo &Juliet law. Evidence that you thought she was over 18 is irrelevant.

And the fact that she might have "fake ID" proving she was old enough to drink would not be a mitigating factor. You have an interesting prospective on criminal law, my friend. BTW, it is the position of the National Organization for Women that a young girl reaches the "age of majority" as soon as she is old enough to have an abortion.
12.8.2005 10:27pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Northern Virginia and DC are both dense urban areas with similar rates of poverty, education and racial makeup.

Not true; Northern Virginia is quite affluent in many parts. Conversely, DC is mostly poverty-stricken and poor (excepting Georgetown). There are many parts of DC where it is not safe to walk around. There are many fewer such places in Northern VA. The police presence is also much different in both places, as are the school systems, politicians, prosecutors, judges and criminal laws. DC is notorious for bad government; so much so, that it was placed in federal receivership in the past 10 years. There are myriad factors to account for the difference in crime, and no evidence to suggest that a lack of guns is among them.

So your hypothesis is that criminals prefer to prey on poor people, and that the fact that their poor victims in DC are unarmed does not effect their calculus on where they ply their trade

I have no idea why violent criminals tend to favor poor neighborhoods to ply their trade, but it is a common phenomenon. If you look at most (all?) major cities, the most violent and crime ridden neighborhoods are the poorest. Theoretically, the more wealthy neighborhoods should have more crime because the criminals would go where the money is, but that doesn't seem to happen. Perhaps it is because most criminals tend to be poor and they tend to victimize their own neighborhoods (i.e., the areas with which they are most familiar)? Maybe people who choose this line of work aren't the most rational to begin with? You would have to ask a criminologist why poor urban areas have more crime, but the facts are undeniable.

The crux of your argument is "the relationships between various socialogical phenomena cant be proven to be absolutely true to the exclusion of all other explanations, therefore none of these explanations can even be partly true, no matter how convincing."

I don't know where your quote is from, but if you are going to cite statistics to back up your argument, you need to exclude all other likely causes of those numbers. Otherwise, all you have is correlation. As I mentioned earlier, there is no reason to believe that the crime rate in DC would not be even *higher* w/o gun control than with gun control. In which case, it is working.
12.8.2005 10:32pm
Neal Lang (mail):
The fact that you can point to errors in the system of registration does not mean it does not do a lot of good. It just means that in any system run by people, errors will occcur. Your colleague is just a victim of one of these errors. If your colleague had his social security benefits stopped because of a database error, does that mean that social security should be abolished?

Being that the "peoples right to keep and bear arms" is a Constitutional right similar to "freedom of speech and press", for the State to restrict this right by requiring registration, the burden is on the State (and those who wish to restrict firearms ownership through registration) to prove the efficacy of such to a point where it represents a "compelling State interest". BTW, just what does the term "infringe" mean to you?

In regards to Social Security, not in the case of error, that is the SOP for all government progrqms - however, the fact that it is likely to go bankrupt before one gets to collect it might indicate cause for abolution of the system to me.
12.8.2005 10:42pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Otherwise, all you have is correlation. As I mentioned earlier, there is no reason to believe that the crime rate in DC would not be even *higher* w/o gun control than with gun control. In which case, it is working.

And your proof of your hypothesis is what? Being a mere $1,863 under the National Average Mean Household Income is hardly the definition of "mostly poverty-stricken". Not when you consider that Mean Household Income of nearby West Virginia is only $29,411 - a State with ample firearms availability has substantially less crime than Washington, DC. Go figure!
12.8.2005 10:59pm
Neal Lang (mail):
You would have to ask a criminologist why poor urban areas have more crime, but the facts are undeniable.

I believe Criminologist Gary Keck did. Most Urban areas that have draconian gun conrol laws. Where ever it is a crime to own a gun, only criminals will have them!
12.8.2005 11:27pm
juris imprudent (mail):

But similarly, I am skeptical about the frequency of occasions in which you will actually be able to use your firearm to protect yourself from a "perp".


Medis,

The most conservative estimate, the National Crime Vicimtization Survey, puts such events at over 100,000 a year nationally. That is almost an order of magnitude greater than those criminally killed by gunfire. Kleck's (and other) estimates run to over 30 times the NCVS number (although these are likely biased high just as the NCVS is biased low).
12.8.2005 11:31pm
Medis:
neal and juris imprudent,

I've seen several studies and papers on this issue. As you may know, when you use the same methods people have used to estimate defensive gun uses (namely, surveys) to estimate the number of criminal uses of guns (using similar surveys), you get far higher numbers for the latter than the reported crime statistics would indicate. And the total number of estimated shootings you get from both sources is far, far higher than the reported hospitalizations for gunshot wounds.

In any event, I meant actually using the gun, as opposed to something like "brandishing".
12.9.2005 12:22am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Medis,

With regard to gunshot wounds v knives, clubs, etc.: I suspect that one can talk around this all day and get nowhere. My thinking was something along the lines of a gunshot wound being a relatively point-source injury (note that I said relatively) while a serious beating with a club or a thorough slashing with a knife may cause much and many more severe injuries with lasting effects such as crippling or brain damage. And at some point, one might decide that a quick death by gunshot might be better than a long life as a cripple or vegetable. It's all relative.

On another subject: here in Massachusetts, two years after our new "strictest in the nation" (it's not really, but it'll do) gun law was passed in 1998, gun crime had increased 25% while it had generally decreased in the rest of the nation. I don't have the numbers on where it has gone since, but I hear rumors to the effect that the direction isn't downward...

The point is argued whether stricter licensing requirements reduced the number of people owning guns in MA; the proponents say it did; I say, based on some of the evidence, that the State's poor publicity and notification campaign on the licensing changes created several hundred thousand new "criminals" - former firearms ID Card (FID Card) holders who were not informed that the card, originally issued for life, had been changed to a 4 year renewable term (at $100) and no longer covered the possession of handguns. I am sure that some of these people have no idea that the law has changed out from under them, and that others found out about it after the renewal period had passed, and are afraid to walk into the police station and admit that they currently own guns without the FID Card. Since nobody has bothered to knock on their door about it, they are probably just being quiet little mice and hoping that the bureaucrats stay asleep.

In comparison to the "stealth" introduction of the 1998 law, when the FID Card was introduced in 1968, there were signs on all the roads leading into the state, ads in all the busses and subways, etc. People got the message and applied for the FID Cards - over a million of them in a supposedly liberal state with a population of about 5 million.
12.9.2005 2:32am
Medis:
Brooks,

I really think the actual instrumentality effect is subject to empirical investigation. For that matter, you can put estimates on the relative harm of various injuries and death (as an aside, I might note that people tend to overvalue the harm of "crippling" injuries in anticipation, meaning that people who have actually sustained crippling injuries tend to view them as less harmful than people who have not).

And I do think the studies conclusively show that on a per wound basis, guns are particularly harmful (and higher caliber guns are more harmful than lower caliber guns, and long guns are more harmful than handguns). Of course, none of this is remotely surprising. Most guns are designed to be particularly effective anti-person weapons, and so it is no surprise that they have that effect. Again, it seems to me you avoid this obvious result only by assuming something like a sustained beating or multiple knife wounds, and then compare that to a single gunshot.

But perhaps I should note that I do not personally believe that these instrumentality effects give rise to a sufficient justification for a widespread ban on gun ownership in the United States. As I implied elsewhere, I see gun ownership as very similar to recreational drug use. In particular, even considering the occasions on which guns/recreational drugs are misused or abused (which are a minority of uses in both cases), it is not at all clear that the overall balance of benefits and harms to their use is negative. Moreover, even if the balance of benefits and harms was negative, the massive costs (both direct and more subtle) involved in enforcing a ban would likely swamp any expected benefit. And that is largely because many people see their personal possession and use of guns/recreational drugs both as justifiable and as none of the government's business.

So, in our culture at least, even the potential benefits of a widespread ban on guns/recreational drugs (which may not even create a net benefit in fact), are outweighed by the likely enforcement costs.

Of course, maybe things are different in Canada.
12.9.2005 8:20am
Wild Pegasus (mail) (www):
I think the real question is who gets to make their first million smuggling handguns to the newly-embolden criminals in Canada?

- Josh
12.9.2005 9:07am
Neal Lang (mail):
I've seen several studies and papers on this issue. As you may know, when you use the same methods people have used to estimate defensive gun uses (namely, surveys) to estimate the number of criminal uses of guns (using similar surveys), you get far higher numbers for the latter than the reported crime statistics would indicate. And the total number of estimated shootings you get from both sources is far, far higher than the reported hospitalizations for gunshot wounds.

Let me see if I have your hypothesis right: You believe that "crimes involving firearms", which must be, by law, reported by victims or witnesses to the local police and also by law reported "accurately" by the local police to the Feds, so they might accurately in the National Crime Statistic Report, are under reported to a similar extent as "crimes which are foiled" (the reporting of which is not required by law) by either the intended victim or witness by use of a firearm (which may or may not be legally possessed in the jurisdiction where the incident took place). Of course, to analyze you hypothesis we must analyze the pros and cons of reporting or not reporting each event.

First, with the reporting of actual crimes committed with a firearm. 1. It is a crime not to report a crime committed using a firearm. 2. Most crimes have an economic component which involves insurance that requires a police report in order to receive benefits. 3. All crimes (firearms related or not) involving injury requiring treatment must be reported by the treating institution (hospital, clinic, or EMS) by law. 4. Unless the victims themselves were engaged in criminal activity, there is no reason for them to not report a crime involving a firearm. 5. Reporting actual firearms crimes is necessary for victims to receive justice.

Now, with the reporting of "potential" crimes foiled by the victim's or witness' use of a firearm: 1. As by definition no crime was committed, it is not necessary for non-crime to be reported. 2. As there was no crime most likely there was no economic loss involving insurance reporting. 3. Only if there were injuries to the victim, perp or by-standers (which constitutes a crime in and of itself) there would be no treatment required, so no reporting by hospitals, etc. 4. In some circumstances the possession of a firearm (or a particular type of firearm) is illegal so the person using a firearm to foil a crime has no incentive to report the incident (in fact, they may have a big incentive no to). 5. As no crime has been committed (only attempted) reporting firearms related non-crimes has little or no victims' justice component.

Obviously there is much more incentive "to report" an "actual crime" involving a firearm than there is incentives to report a "deterred crime". If anything, some of the disincentives in "actually reporting" a "deterred crime" might also apply to honestly answering a survey in the affirmative.
In any event, I meant actually using the gun, as opposed to something like "brandishing".

Typically only showing that one is armed is all that is necessary to turn-off the potential crime and stop the criminal act. "Actually using a gun", such as discharging it, especially if someone is wounded or killed would, in most cases by law, have to be reported, so the statistical record of those incident should be pretty accurate. But the question before the house is whether or not possession by law-abiding, honest folks of a firearm is a "deterrent" to crime. If a firearm needs to discharged, the deterrent phase of an incident has passed and not you are now into the "utilitarian" value phase of being armed when a crime takes place.
12.9.2005 9:26am
Neal Lang (mail):
As I implied elsewhere, I see gun ownership as very similar to recreational drug use.

Unlike "the peoples right to keep and bear arms" there is NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to use drugs! Possessing and using "recreational drugs" is illegal virtutally throughout the US. Firearms possession and their non-criminal use is not.
In particular, even considering the occasions on which guns/recreational drugs are misused or abused (which are a minority of uses in both cases), it is not at all clear that the overall balance of benefits and harms to their use is negative.

On the contrary, the empirical data shows that "the people's" beneficial use of firearms far outweighs their abuse. This cannot be said for illegal drugs. Firearms are far more oftened used beneficially for society than negatively (i.e., armed LEO). There is NO empirical evidence that "recreation drug" use benefits society in any fashion, so drug use has only a "downside". Of course, there is historical evidence that even governments can and do misuse firemans. However, that is the very reason why our Founding Fathers provided "the people" with the "right to keep and bear arms"!
12.9.2005 9:49am
Neal Lang (mail):
I think the real question is who gets to make their first million smuggling handguns to the newly-embolden criminals in Canada?


Most likely the Chinese!
12.9.2005 9:53am
Jam (mail):
Do I need a license to buy a newspaper and carry it around? Why should I be required a license to do something that I have a preexistent, guaranteed, right?

Governments do not convey rights, they protect already existing rights. And I have a right to defend myself using the tools available to those that would harm me or my family.
12.9.2005 10:11am
Jam (mail):
Off topic but: Where is it exactly that the "explicitly delegated authority" given to the uS Central government to ban drugs/drug use?
12.9.2005 10:13am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> As I mentioned earlier, there is no reason to believe that the crime rate in DC would not be even *higher* w/o gun control than with gun control. In which case, it is working.

We could look at how DC's crime changed with the imposition of gun control. Answer - it was dropping before and started increasing after. Maybe that's a coincidence, but other demographically similar areas didn't have the same change at that time. (DC's crime rate did jump again later in line with those other communities when the crack wars got going.)

BTW - Since registration advocates won't cite experience with registration and won't tell us why they won't cite experience, perhaps they'll tell us what we can infer from all this. Should we conclude that they don't actually care whether registration produces the benefits they promise?
12.9.2005 10:37am
Neal Lang (mail):
Off topic but: Where is it exactly that the "explicitly delegated authority" given to the uS Central government to ban drugs/drug use?

Short version: According the Supremes, in the "Commerce Clause" of the Constitution of the United States of America. To wit- at Article I, Section 8:
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Long version:
Held: Congress’ Commerce Clause authority includes the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with California law. Pp. 6–31.

(a) For the purposes of consolidating various drug laws into a comprehensive statute, providing meaningful regulation over legitimate sources of drugs to prevent diversion into illegal channels, and strengthening law enforcement tools against international and interstate drug trafficking, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, Title II of which is the CSA. To effectuate the statutory goals, Congress devised a closed regulatory system making it unlawful to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess any controlled substance except as authorized by the CSA. 21 U. S. C. §§841(a)(1), 844(a). All controlled substances are classified into five schedules, §812, based on their accepted medical
uses, their potential for abuse, and their psychological and physical effects on the body, §§811, 812. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, §812(c), based on its high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and no accepted safety for use in medically supervised treatment, §812(b)(1). This classification renders the manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana a criminal offense. §§841(a)(1), 844(a). Pp. 6–11.

(b) Congress’ power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic “class of activities” that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce is firmly established. See, e.g., Perez v. United States, 402 U. S. 146, 151. If Congress decides that the “ ‘total incidence’” of a practice poses a threat to a national market, it may regulate the entire class. See, e.g., id., at 154–155. Of particular relevance here is Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111, 127–128, where, in rejecting the appellee farmer’s contention that Congress’ admitted power to regulate the production of wheat for commerce did not authorize federal regulation of wheat production intended wholly for the appellee’s own consumption, the Court established that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself “commercial,” i.e., not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity. The similarities between this case and Wickard are striking. In both cases, the regulation is squarely within Congress’ commerce power because production of the commodity meant for home consumption, be it wheat or marijuana, has a substantial effect on supply and demand in the national market for that commodity. In assessing the scope of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority, the Court need not determine whether respondents’ activities, taken in the aggregate, substantially affect interstate commerce in fact, but only whether a “rational basis” exists for so concluding. E.g., Lopez, 514 U. S., at 557. Given the enforcement difficulties that attend distinguishing between marijuana cultivated locally and marijuana grown elsewhere, 21 U. S. C. §801(5), and concerns about diversion into illicit channels, the Court has no difficulty concluding that Congress had a rational basis for believing that failure to regulate the intrastate manufacture and possession of marijuana would leave a gaping hole in the CSA. Pp. 12–20.

(c)Respondents’ heavy reliance on Lopez and Morrison overlooks the larger context of modern-era Commerce Clause jurisprudence preserved by those cases, while also reading those cases far too broadly. The statutory challenges at issue there were markedly different from the challenge here. Respondents ask the Court to excise individual applications of a concededly valid comprehensive statutory scheme. In contrast, in both Lopez and Morrison, the parties asserted that a particular statute or provision fell outside Congress’ commerce power in its entirety. This distinction is pivotal for the Court has often reiterated that “[w]here the class of activities is regulated and that class is within the reach of federal power, the courts have no power ‘to excise, as trivial, individual instances’ of the class.” Perez, 402 U. S., at 154. Moreover, the Court emphasized that the laws at issue in Lopez and Morrison had nothing to do with “commerce” or any sort of economic enterprise. See Lopez, 514 U. S., at 561; Morrison, 529 U. S., at 610. In contrast, the CSA regulates quintessentially economic activities: the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities for which there is an established, and lucrative, interstate market. Prohibiting the intrastate possession or manufacture of an article of commerce is a rational means of regulating commerce in that product. The Ninth Circuit cast doubt on the CSA’s constitutionality by isolating a distinct class of activities that it held to be beyond the reach of federal power: the intrastate, noncommercial cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician and in accordance with state law. However, Congress clearly acted rationally in determining that this subdivided class of activities is an essential part of the larger regulatory scheme. The case comes down to the claim that a locally cultivated product that is used domestically rather than sold on the open market is not subject to federal regulation. Given the CSA’s findings and the undisputed magnitude of the commercial market for marijuana, Wickard and its progeny foreclose that claim. Pp. 20–30.

352 F. 3d 1222, vacated and remanded.

From: GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL. v. RAICH ET AL.
12.9.2005 11:12am
Medis:
Neal,

And yet, despite the reporting requirement for crimes, when you actually conduct random surveys you end up with the proposition that an enormous number of crimes are going unreported. Now, this proposition may not in fact be true. Indeed, there are some pretty systematic flaws with this entire approach. For example, extrapolating from random surveys where the positive frequency in question is low (meaning only a small percentage of those surveyed make the relevant claim) is notoriously unreliable. That is because some small percentage of people will claim almost anything (including, for example, that they have had alien encounters). What this suggests is that random surveys are not going to be a reliable way of getting information about low frequency events, including both gun crimes and defensive uses of guns.

Anyway, as you know, I have been talking about instrumentality effects. So while many other questions are before "the house", in my small room in the house we have been talking about cases in which guns are actually used in the sense of being fired at people.

On the comparison to recreational drugs:

I am talking in policy terms, not legal terms. Obviously, the Second Amendment is relevant to the legal issues, but I have not been addressing those issues.

As for the net benefits:

Actually, I think recreational drug use clearly has benefits in a straightforward sense. For example, people enjoy their coffee and liquor in part because of the effects of the caffeine and alcohol, and insofar as moderate use of such drugs (which describes the vast majority of such use) is not particularly harmful, people's use of these drugs creates a net benefit.

And my basic point is that trying to ban widespread gun ownership in this country is no more likely to be a good idea than Prohibition (let alone taking away people's coffee). And that is largely because the vast majority of people never use their guns for anything remotely harmful, just as the vast majority of people do not abuse recreational drugs.
12.9.2005 11:31am
Neal Lang (mail):
Governments do not convey rights, they protect already existing rights.

Well it depends on the right. "Human Rights", described by our Founders as "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Property)" amongst others, are "unalienable" and exist for every man outside of government or any other human authority. These "Human Rights" assume other "rights of the people" to secure for themselves those rights. Most of our "Bill of Rights" address the people's "enabling rights", such as, "the people's right to keep and bear arms" enables the individual to secure his life, liberty and property. The only limitation on "Human Rights" is that they are "ordered" and one person's "right" cannot infringe on another's right. Such as, your "right to liberty" cannot infringe on another innocent person's "right to life".

"Civil Rights", for instance, voting, are generally rights conferred by government. It can be argued that "voting" enables "the people" to retain "liberty". However, unlike the enabling rights in the "Bill of Rights", "Civil Rights" can be regulated by government.

Interestingly, according our Founding Fathers, government exists solely to secure for "the people" - "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property)". Apparently they also believed that "the people" retained the "enabling right" to "to alter or to abolish" their government when said "government becomes destructive" to securing these rights. Obviously, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" is necessary should "the people" be forced "to abolish" their government for cause.
12.9.2005 12:03pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Neal,

You may remember that some years back (rather ignored in the mainstream press and by the gun-ban people) that the Chinese (Norinco, a Chinese gun company, government-owned, I believe) did attempt to smuggle a container of AK-47 assault rifles (real machine guns, not the semi-auto look-alike "assault weapons" that get the anti-gunners so upset) into Los Angeles to distribute to criminal gangs there.

Also, way back when, in the late 60's or early 70', some black militants took over a building at, I believe, Cornell University, and were photographed - seen on the national news media - brandishing AK-47 assault rifles. Since, to my knowledge, the legal semi-auto version of the AK-47 didn't exist at that time, these were presumably real assault rifles - machine guns - and I doubt that the people possessing them were ever apprehended, nor the guns confiscated nor were they, to my knowledge, ever prosecuted under the federal law that prohibits the possession of unregistered machine guns, that carries a rather severe penalty - something like 10 years in the federal pokey, I believe). Those assault rifles probably came in from North Vietnam, but may have in fact come from China.

In any event, I would say yes, that the Chinese might well be the suppliers to Canadian criminals in the future.

As for the question of "why would a criminal in a disarmed nation want or need a gun?", well, criminals tend to be sure-thing players. It's not a sporting contest to them, so they would want to have overwhelming force on their side in order to intimidate or eliminate their victims without a fair fight.
12.9.2005 12:16pm
Jam (mail):
Neal Lang, thanks for the case. My question still stand.


Long version:

Held: Congress’ Commerce Clause authority includes the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with California law. Pp. 6–31.


And the SCOTUS also thinks that regulating means controlling the growing of grain (or any kind of vegetables?) in your backyard affects interstate commerce in the aggregate, therefore, they can regulate/ban?


Congress clearly acted rationally in determining that this subdivided class of activities is an essential part of the larger regulatory scheme.


LOL

Amendment through redefinition. They all should be impeached.
12.9.2005 12:29pm
Jam (mail):
The uS Constitutin is the "supreme law of the law" as to delegated authorities only. Prior decisions are NOT found in the text of the Constitution and are educational, for sure, but what SCOTUS has decided in the past ARE not law.

What the uS Constitution actually says, as the writers intended, has been relegated to such a novelty.

But what do I know, I am not a lawyer.
12.9.2005 12:45pm
Neal Lang (mail):
What this suggests is that random surveys are not going to be a reliable way of getting information about low frequency events, including both gun crimes and defensive uses of guns.

One non-random survey on point was conducted by Drs. James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, University of Massachusetts. This survey interviewed a large sample incarcerated criminals on the subject of firearms and armed victims.
Professors James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi conducted in-depth interviews with 1,874 imprisoned felons in the states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada and Oklahoma between August, 1982, and January, 1983 under a grant from the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Justice Department. The results indicated:

1. 37% of all criminals surveyed and over 50% of all armed criminals surveyed personally had "run into a victim who was armed with a gun".
2. nearly 40% said there was at least one time when the criminal "decided not to do a crime because [he] knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun."
3. 74% of the burglars surveyed said they "avoid houses when people are home is that they fear being shot".
4. 82% of the sample agreed that "Gun laws only affect lawabiding citizens; criminals will always be able to get guns".
5. 88% agreed that "A criminal who wants a handgun is going to get one, no matter how much it costs".
6. 81% agreed that "a smart criminal tries to find out if his potential victim is armed".
7. 56% of the felons surveyed agreed that "a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun".
8. 57% agreed that "most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police".
9. 34% of the sample admitted to having been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim".
10. 40% of the total sample admitted to stealing a gun, of these:
- - a. 37% stole from stores,
- - b. 15% from a policeman,
- - c. 16% from a truck shipment,
- - d. and 8% from a manufacturer.
11. 64% of the criminal respondents said they would shift from a handgun to sawed-off rifles and shotguns iIf a ban on handguns was enacted.

Dr. James W. Wright is a professor of sociology and director of the Social and Demographic Research Institute (SADRI) at the University of Massachusetts, an expert on survey research, and a reformed advocate of harsh gun laws.... In 1979, Prof. Wright joined with Peter H. Rossi--also from SADRI at U. Mass., and a former president of the American Sociological Association in studying the gun issue more thoroughly. This caused a dramatic shift in their views. From: The Armed Criminal in America by Dr. Paul H. Blackman
12.9.2005 12:55pm
Neal Lang (mail):
And the SCOTUS also thinks that regulating means controlling the growing of grain (or any kind of vegetables?) in your backyard affects interstate commerce in the aggregate, therefore, they can regulate/ban?

Yes, if you live in Georgia and market them in Florida.
What the uS Constitution actually says, as the writers intended, has been relegated to such a novelty.

Obvisously! However, we are stuck with it unless a sufficient number of "the People" feels that they have an "unalienable right" to do pot, and that the Federal government's prohibition of same rises to the level of government becoming destructive to securing these rights. Guns maybe, but dope, I don't think so.
But what do I know, I am not a lawyer.

Thankfully neither am I.
12.9.2005 1:07pm
Neal Lang (mail):
In any event, I would say yes, that the Chinese might well be the suppliers to Canadian criminals in the future.

That's why I mentioned them.
As for the question of "why would a criminal in a disarmed nation want or need a gun?", well, criminals tend to be sure-thing players. It's not a sporting contest to them, so they would want to have overwhelming force on their side in order to intimidate or eliminate their victims without a fair fight.

Exactly! It is part of their "cost-bennefit" and "risk-reward" analysis that goes into the planning of crime. See the criminals take in the reference to the James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi study above.
12.9.2005 1:12pm
Medis:
Neal,

That survey, of course, did not address the issue of how frequently guns are used for defensive purposes. As an aside, as is frequently noted, the victims of gun crimes are often not "innocents" (although I think it is a mistake to assume anyone with a criminal record is not an "innocent", it is still the case that many gun crimes are committed within the context of something like a gang shooting). I'd be interested to know how many of the incidents in categories 1, 2, and 9 occurred within such a scenario.

However, I do think the surveys like this one are useful for evaluating how successful gun regulations have been in the United States. The answer is likely "not very successful." Again, I think the comparison with the illegal recreational drug market is obvious (criminals have similarly reported on the ease of obtaining illegal drugs).
12.9.2005 1:17pm
Neal Lang (mail):
On the comparison to recreational drugs:

I am talking in policy terms, not legal terms. Obviously, the Second Amendment is relevant to the legal issues, but I have not been addressing those issues.

Any discussion of "policy" must be couched in whether or not a "policy" infringes on a "constitutional right". You wrongly compared policy on drugs with that on firearms. Again, there is NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to use pot. The same cannot be said of "the people's right to keep and bear arms".
Actually, I think recreational drug use clearly has benefits in a straightforward sense. For example, people enjoy their coffee and liquor in part because of the effects of the caffeine and alcohol, and insofar as moderate use of such drugs (which describes the vast majority of such use) is not particularly harmful, people's use of these drugs creates a net benefit.

This is a stretch! Unlike the "high" effect of drugs, the primary reason coffee and alcoholic beverages are consumed is not the effect of caffine or alcohol. There can be an argument made that canabis can have a beneficial medicinal effect (however, its effects can be duplicated through the use of other "legal" drugs). Of course, even if one buys the "medicinal use" argument, then, as with opiates, it would need to be controlled and used by the sick only and then under physician supervision.

Also, unlike firearms, drug use has no "redeeming" societal benefit while it does many societal harms.
12.9.2005 1:37pm
Medis:
Neal,

Well, first, we were originally talking about Canada, so specific US Constitution provisions are not necessarily relevant. In any event, I think one can distinguish between policy and legal arguments and not have to discuss all of the relevant arguments at once.

Anyway, you say:

"Unlike the 'high' effect of drugs, the primary reason coffee and alcoholic beverages are consumed is not the effect of caffine or alcohol."

It may not be the only primary reason, but the drug effects in both of those cases are certainly among the primary reasons why people consume those beverages. Or are you seriously contending that people do not regularly drink coffee to make themselves more alert, or alcohol to get a buzz?

And while you may disagree, I think these common uses of rcreational drugs, when done moderately, do indeed contribute to social welfare in the same sense that any otherwise harmless pleasurable activity contributes to social welfare.
12.9.2005 1:55pm
Neal Lang (mail):
That survey, of course, did not address the issue of how frequently guns are used for defensive purposes.

No, but it does indicate that a large portion of perperators of crimes take the potential armed victim into account as part of the calculation of whether or not to commit a crime. Obviously, for a criminal plying his trade in Washington, DC this isn't as big a factor as it is for those criminals who wish to commit crimes in the Virginia metro area.
As an aside, as is frequently noted, the victims of gun crimes are often not "innocents" (although I think it is a mistake to assume anyone with a criminal record is not an "innocent", it is still the case that many gun crimes are committed within the context of something like a gang shooting).

And your point being, what? That most unreported crimes involving firearms involve victims that are themselves criminals? I am not sure exactly how this fits into the debate on the efficacy of firearms in the hands of honest folks as a deterrent to crime.
I'd be interested to know how many of the incidents in categories 1, 2, and 9 occurred within such a scenario.

So would I, but I am willing to bet it is probably on more once per criminal.
However, I do think the surveys like this one are useful for evaluating how successful gun regulations have been in the United States. The answer is likely "not very successful."

It depends on whether or not you are evaluating their successfulness from the perspective of the criminal or the victim. In the case of criminals working in Washington, DC I believe they would agree that Washington's total gun ban has been both successful and helpful in making their work environment much safer.
Again, I think the comparison with the illegal recreational drug market is obvious (criminals have similarly reported on the ease of obtaining illegal drugs).

And so we should do what? Make it easier for criminals to obtain illegal drugs? Again, drugs and guns are not compariable.
12.9.2005 2:18pm
Jam (mail):
Neal, the SCOTUS "interpreted" regulating to mean growing wheat regardless of whether you are selling or selling accross interstate lines.

Remember the 9th and 10th amendments. The SCOTUS does not. Heck, I don't think that they read it anymore since they are too busy puring over precedents.
12.9.2005 2:22pm
Jam (mail):
Neal, the SCOTUS "interpreted" regulating to mean growing wheat regardless of whether you are selling or selling accross interstate lines.

Remember the 9th and 10th amendments. The SCOTUS does not. Heck, I don't think that they read it anymore since they are too busy pouring over precedents.
12.9.2005 2:22pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Well, first, we were originally talking about Canada, so specific US Constitution provisions are not necessarily relevant.

As I recall, we began or little debate discussing the true impact crime of the Washington, DC's total ban firearms (similar, I suppose to the proposed Canadian ban). Anyway any relevant discussion of "gun control" involving Americans must take into consideration the constitutional effect of "gun control" policy.
It may not be the only primary reason, but the drug effects in both of those cases are certainly among the primary reasons why people consume those beverages. Or are you seriously contending that people do not regularly drink coffee to make themselves more alert, or alcohol to get a buzz?

Perhaps for someone who can't see the harmful effects of "recreational drug use" it might, but not for me. I drink Scotch because I like the taste, the same reason I drink coffee. If I begin to feel a "buzz", I stop drinking. Maybe I just a "control freak"!
And while you may disagree, I think these common uses of rcreational drugs, when done moderately, do indeed contribute to social welfare in the same sense that any otherwise harmless pleasurable activity contributes to social welfare.

Hmmm! "Harmless pleasurable activity", you mean like prostitution and gambling? I am afraid I can't agree that they are harmless and the empirical data backs me up.
12.9.2005 2:31pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Heck, I don't think that they read it anymore since they are too busy pouring over precedents.

Interestingly, one of the precedents they rejected in "Gonzalez" was "Lopez", a "RKABA" case on the Federal "Gun-Free School Zones" law.
12.9.2005 2:38pm
Jam (mail):
A broken watch is correct twice a day. A broken military watch is correct once a day.

The overwhelming balance of SCOUTS' decisions, from non-lawyer observations, seem to be in favor of upholding porecedents.

In an abortion case the SCOTUS upheld precedents because they rather protect the honor of the SCOTUS rather than to follow wherever the text of the uSC leads.

Such cowards! They should have been impeached.
12.9.2005 2:45pm
Neal Lang (mail):
The overwhelming balance of SCOUTS' decisions, from non-lawyer observations, seem to be in favor of upholding porecedents.

Some of the Supremes finest momments last century were they overturned precedents (Brown). Also, some of their worst (Lawrence).
12.9.2005 4:07pm
Medis:
Actually Neal, I believe that in the line of our discussion relating to defensive uses of guns, you were responding to my description of the instrumentality argument. I don't mind discussing all sorts of different issues, but I find it helps to remember which comments pertain to which lines of discussion.

And again, we can't possibly discuss every relevant consideration at every juncture. For example, I've never opined on DC in particular. But you might note that I said above that the effects of gun regulation on crime rates could vary from place to place, but the evidence for an overall influence on crime rates is very weak.

On recreational drug use: how you personally use coffee and scotch is not the issue. Again, surely you are aware that a lot of your fellow citizens drink coffee for alertness or alcoholic beverages to get a buzz. In fact, one can legally buy and take caffeine pills. Surely that is not done for the taste.

You also seem to claim that even if recreational drug use was an "otherwise harmless pleasurable activity," it would not contribute to social welfare. You use prostitution and gambling as examples. But what if the activities in question were hobby hunting and target shooting? Isn't their primary contribution to social welfare the fact that these are enjoyable and otherwise harmless activities?

My point is that people doing things they find pleasurable potentially contributes to social welfare. Of course, that contribution to social welfare might be outweighed by the harmful effects of the relevant activity, or there might be some other reason for denying that pleasure to people (such as the belief that the activity is immoral regardless of its effects). But you can't simply rule out the possible benefits to social welfare of something people enjoy doing until you make this additional showing.
12.9.2005 4:22pm
Neal Lang (mail):
But you might note that I said above that the effects of gun regulation on crime rates could vary from place to place, but the evidence for an overall influence on crime rates is very weak.

Of course, my point (and the reason for the reference to DC) was that on the contrary, I submit that "gun regulation" has a substantial influence on crime but that influence is negative. The effects of Washington, DC's ban was provided a proof.
On recreational drug use: how you personally use coffee and scotch is not the issue. Again, surely you are aware that a lot of your fellow citizens drink coffee for alertness or alcoholic beverages to get a buzz. In fact, one can legally buy and take caffeine pills. Surely that is not done for the taste.

Of course my personal taste is relevant if you generally opine that coffee and alcoholic beverages were imbibed due in part to the narcotic effect of caffine and alcohol. If that is so, non-alcoholic beer and wine or caffine-free coffee wouldn't have a market unless folks like me drink them for the favor.

Really, you need to be careful not project your tastes on everyone. Not everbody listens to your particular drummer, or mine for that matter.
You also seem to claim that even if recreational drug use was an "otherwise harmless pleasurable activity," it would not contribute to social welfare. You use prostitution and gambling as examples. But what if the activities in question were hobby hunting and target shooting? Isn't their primary contribution to social welfare the fact that these are enjoyable and otherwise harmless activities?

Hardly! Hobby hunting and target shooting, unlike illegal drugs, gambling, and prostitution, make a positive contribution to society. Hunting user fees, excise tax on equipment and licenses provide funding for acquiring open land for wildlife management that is used and enjoyed by non-hunting bird watchers and naturalists. Also hunters provide a necessary component for management of game animal numbers to maintain balance with habitat carrying capacilty. Target shooting provides the individual proficiency in handling firearms for self-defense and the "common defense" (the militia factor). Also, target shooting sharpens the individual's self-control and discipline, general making them a better citizen. Founder, Thomas Jefferson understood the efficacy of target shooting for developing
A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks. to Peter Carr, 1785. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors.

Activities like illegal drugs use, gambling, and prostitution destroys first the individual, then his family and finally impacts society negatively, primarily through the costs of lost productivity, rehab, welfare, control and recovery.
Of course, that contribution to social welfare might be outweighed by the harmful effects of the relevant activity, or there might be some other reason for denying that pleasure to people (such as the belief that the activity is immoral regardless of its effects).

That is my point exactly! The NET EFFECT of these "pleasure" activities is a negative impact on society. As such society should, and does control them. The mere fact that something might be pleasurable does not make that thing good and beneficial to either the individual or society. The pathologies of drug use, gambling, and prostitution are available for anyone to see if they have an open mind and make an effort. Individual pleasure alone does not over-ride these pathologies.
12.9.2005 9:00pm
juris imprudent (mail):
It is always amusing to watch a conservative such as Neal hang himself upon his hypocrisy.

My friend, that you may drink Scotch not to excess does NOT establish that alcohol is any less prone to abuse then pot. It is pure simple-minded moralism that demands such a distinction. Either you are a prohibitionist or you are not. Splitting hairs is nothing but hypocrisy. And empirically speaking, alcohol has wreaked far greater social damage then has cannibis; though neither on the scale of tobacco.

The precedential justification for the War on Drugs is found in the virulently racist, anti-Chinese opium laws of the late 19th/early 20th century. SCotUS was positively enlightened and progressive in Dred Scot and Plessy in comparison to the arguments in favor of the Harrison Act.
12.9.2005 11:23pm
Jordan (mail):
And so the thread drifts...

I found it more entertaining to watch anti-gun nuts hang themselves with their contorted logic, pipedreams, and specious evidence to back up their baseless assertions spun from whole cloth. Major kudos Neal.
12.10.2005 4:01am
Medis:
Just a brief wrapup of my own:

I think it is interesting that it seems important to Neal not just that I oppose banning gun ownership, but also that I do so for his reasons. To me this suggests a basic truth: gun ownership has a particular cultural meaning to many people in the United States that goes well beyond any sort of ordinary relationship between people and their tools (although, of course, other things might fit into this category as well, such as cars).

And to hook that into what I claimed before, when something has that sort of cultural meaning to people, it becomes much more costly to try to ban ownership or use. And I really do think that makes gun ownership like recreational drug use (which is also embued with all sorts of cultural meaning), or gambling for that matter. Indeed, the resistance that Neal shows to my comparison suggests that he also sees both guns and recreational drugs as having cultural meaning.

And although Neal apparently hates that comparison, for me it has been quite influential. Although I am a gun owner and I did a decent amount of hunting and shooting as a kid, I'm not very interested in guns anymore and I rarely do anything with them. But I recognize that I do regularly enjoy things like coffee in the morning, wine with my wife, beer with my buddies, the occasional poker game, and so on, and that my enjoyment of these things is just like other people's enjoyment of their guns.

It is thus easy for me to understand why Prohibition was a miserable failure, and equally easy for me to understand why a ban on gun ownership in the United States would likely be a failure as well. And to me that is more than enough reason to oppose such a ban, even if I do not actually feel about guns the same way that Neal does.

And Neal ... you don't have to take my advice on this, but you might want to think about political strategy. Do you really want to be discouraging people like me from supporting your right to gun ownership? Even if you don't like my reasons, or my general views on guns or drugs, it might be worth your while to accept my support nonetheless.
12.10.2005 8:36am
juris imprudent (mail):
Jordan


I found it more entertaining to watch anti-gun nuts hang themselves...

Medis isn't anti-gun, and I am surely not. Although he and I have disagreed about some aspects, such as empirical benefits to gun ownership.

I find it ironic that some who [wisely] distrust the govt about their guns are so willing to see the govt enforce other intrusive and useless laws. It's pretzel logic, usually based on their need to have supposed 'moral' control over other people. Which is so typically the very 'logic' of anti-gun people.
12.10.2005 11:34am
Neal Lang (mail):
My friend, that you may drink Scotch not to excess does NOT establish that alcohol is any less prone to abuse then pot.

Never said it was. Merely that I drink scotch because I like its taste, and not to get "high". Folks are more likely to abuse alcohol, not because they enjoy the taste, but because they like the narcotic effect. People use (and abuse) "pot" for the same reason folks use and abuse "coke", heroine, or opium - they get "pleasure" from its narcotic effect.
It is pure simple-minded moralism that demands such a distinction.

No it is not. It scientific fact. Abuse of alcohol, canabis, cocaine, opiates, etc. occurs when the substance is used solely for its "narcotic" effect. People don't "shoot" heroin because they enjoy sticking themselves with needles.
Either you are a prohibitionist or you are not.

Only of things that help destroy society - like opium did China. "Pleasure" isn't the acme and self-indulgence is the goal of society. Life, to be productive, requires more than selfish pleasure seeking.
Splitting hairs is nothing but hypocrisy.

I am sorry you can't handle the truth.
And empirically speaking, alcohol has wreaked far greater social damage then has cannibis; though neither on the scale of tobacco.

So, your point is what? Legalize "pot" so it has a fair chance to catch up to alcohol and tobacco in wreaking social damage? Why is it so important to you that society be destroyed?
The precedential justification for the War on Drugs is found in the virulently racist, anti-Chinese opium laws of the late 19th/early 20th century.

Really? Racism does have impact on the drug trade, but only to effect that the victims of "drug abuse" are generally the poor minority population that the racist wish to keep subjected. Did you ever here of the Opium Wars? I suggest you check them out. Faced with the health and social problems associated with opium use, the Chinese imperial government prohibited the smoking of opium in 1729. At the same time Imperial Britain had cornered the "opium" market from its colonies in Indian subcontinent. In order insure access to huge potential opium consumer base in China (and also to insure that China would be easier to colonize) the British fought 2 wars against China solely to allow their sale of opium there. The truth is, I the KKK wanted to destroy black race in the United States it would do two thing - establish a "Welfare" system that rewarded single parent families and insure the availability of legal, cheap drugs in the black neghborhoods. The socialist enacted the first, and you seem to set on insuring the second. Amazing!
SCotUS was positively enlightened and progressive in Dred Scot and Plessy in comparison to the arguments in favor of the Harrison Act.

Only an idiot would think so. In Dred Scott, they ordered the Slave Master's property rights ahead of the African slave's liberty rights. In Plessy they tried to "Balkanize" the black race in the US. Perhaps the definitive expression of the true racism of the illicit drug trade is expressed best in the movie "The Godfather" by Don Zaluchi at the meeting of the Mafia "Dons" where the New York "Families" agree to distribute illegal narcotics:
I don't want it near schools. I don't want it sold to children! In my city, we'd keep the traffic in the Dark People, the Coloreds - they're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.

Obviously, Zaluche didn't think he was doing "the Coloreds" any favor by "hooking" them on heroin.
12.10.2005 1:05pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I found it more entertaining to watch anti-gun nuts hang themselves with their contorted logic, pipedreams, and specious evidence to back up their baseless assertions spun from whole cloth. Major kudos Neal.

I try! "It's a hard job, but somebody hhas to do it!"
12.10.2005 1:06pm
Jordan (mail):
I find it ironic that some who [wisely] distrust the govt about their guns are so willing to see the govt enforce other intrusive and useless laws. It's pretzel logic, usually based on their need to have supposed 'moral' control over other people. Which is so typically the very 'logic' of anti-gun people.

I don't know whether or not that was aimed at me, but I haven't said anything concerning my view on drugs. Suffice it to say that my view is 180 degrees from what you think it is.
12.10.2005 1:53pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I think it is interesting that it seems important to Neal not just that I oppose banning gun ownership, but also that I do so for his reasons.

Actually, not "my reason" but those of our Founding Fathers, to wit:
Article the fourth [Amendment II]

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.
From: Constitution for the United States of America

If you have a problem with "right of the people to keep and bear arms", I suggest you take it up with them.
To me this suggests a basic truth: gun ownership has a particular cultural meaning to many people in the United States that goes well beyond any sort of ordinary relationship between people and their tools (although, of course, other things might fit into this category as well, such as cars).

As compare to what? "Hop heads" and their "bongs"?
And to hook that into what I claimed before, when something has that sort of cultural meaning to people, it becomes much more costly to try to ban ownership or use. And I really do think that makes gun ownership like recreational drug use (which is also embued with all sorts of cultural meaning), or gambling for that matter.

The big hole in your reasoning is that unlike illegal narcotics use, firearms have a substantial "redeeming social value". And besides that, nowhere in the Constitution does it insure "the people right to get high"!
Indeed, the resistance that Neal shows to my comparison suggests that he also sees both guns and recreational drugs as having cultural meaning.

No, I see one, "firearms in the hands of honest people", as "constructive", and the other, "illegal narcotics use", as "destructive", to our society. If you cannot see that, then I suggest you lay off the "bong"!
And although Neal apparently hates that comparison, for me it has been quite influential. Although I am a gun owner and I did a decent amount of hunting and shooting as a kid, I'm not very interested in guns anymore and I rarely do anything with them.

Now that's great news. Nothing scares me more than someone using firearms while under the influence of illegal drug!
But I recognize that I do regularly enjoy things like coffee in the morning, wine with my wife, beer with my buddies, the occasional poker game, and so on, and that my enjoyment of these things is just like other people's enjoyment of their guns.

Of course, I doubt if you will successfully stop a "carjacker" by offering him a cup of "java" or perhap to "cut the cards" with him for your car.
It is thus easy for me to understand why Prohibition was a miserable failure, and equally easy for me to understand why a ban on gun ownership in the United States would likely be a failure as well. And to me that is more than enough reason to oppose such a ban, even if I do not actually feel about guns the same way that Neal does.

Actually, it depends on how you define "miserable failure". If your goal is to reduce alcohol consumption and its related pathologies, then Prohibition was a success. The empiical data shows that alcohol use was severely curtailed during the 15 years Prohibition, as were the incidence of the pathologies related to alcohol abuse. Of course, unlike illegal drugs, alcohol consumption is not just done to get "high".
Do you really want to be discouraging people like me from supporting your right to gun ownership?

Actually it is as much "your right", as mine. That is, unless you let your enthusiasm for narcotics and the "drug culture" to get the best of you.
Even if you don't like my reasons, or my general views on guns or drugs, it might be worth your while to accept my support nonetheless.

Is it okay to accept your support but not your reasoning? From a "political strategy" standpoint, your concept that - because alcohol and tobacco are legal and have harmed society, therefore, illegal drugs should be made legal in order to allowed them a fair opportunity to harm society, as well - does not seem a sure "winner" to me. But what do I know - after all, I am merely a conservative Neandertal gun-nut!
12.10.2005 2:32pm
juris imprudent (mail):

Merely that I drink scotch because I like its taste

Pardon me, but my BS meter just pegged. Not even the Scots drink it for its taste. And that is PRECISELY the kind of rationalization that is so hopelessly threadbare when you condemn someone for taking a hit of pot. Your vice is okay, but not theirs. And one wee dram HAS a 'narcotic' effect, just like a single hit of pot. So you do indeed get more then just the taste. You really just want the taste? Go chew on a toasted chunk of peat.

Life, to be productive, requires more than selfish pleasure seeking.

Ah, arbeit macht frei, eh? Who are YOU to judge anyone's life but your own? Or does the individual exist primarily to serve society/state? I know plenty of people who are 'productive' [what a sad criteria on which to judge life] and recreationally consume substances that you condemn. So much for the automatic assumption of abuse and decadence.

Why is it so important to you that society be destroyed?

If it is a society of control-freaks I don't think it is worth preserving. Nor does such seem sustainable based on history.

Did you ever here of the Opium Wars?

Indeed, but that hardly has any bearing on whether or not OUR federal govt has a legitimate power (i.e. a general police power) to prohibit people from consuming the substance of their choice. Obviously no one thought they did in the case of alcohol, absent the 18th Amdt.

The real irony is that your entire line of argument has been used, repeatedly, by the anti-gun nuts: most people can't use a gun responsibly, they are a danger to society, etc.
12.10.2005 2:56pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Medis isn't anti-gun, and I am surely not. Although he and I have disagreed about some aspects, such as empirical benefits to gun ownership.

I find it ironic that some who [wisely] distrust the govt about their guns are so willing to see the govt enforce other intrusive and useless laws. It's pretzel logic, usually based on their need to have supposed 'moral' control over other people. Which is so typically the very 'logic' of anti-gun people.


Your problem is that you can't or won't see the net positive benefits of honest people owning firearms. Fortunately our Founders saw the benefits of an armed people, and took the matter out of "governments" hands with the 2nd Amendment.

The point you unfortunately miss is that "self-evident truth " is that governments that are instituted by moral people, do so to secure their "rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property)". To accomplish this, its only task, it is necessary for government to enforce moral laws respecting murder, mayhem, theft, and even "self-destructive" behavior.

The main political component of the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" is to assure that when govenment becomes "destructive to these ends", i.e., "to secure these rights", and the people cannot "alter" their government by politcal means, they have, through their "firearms", the means "to abolish it, and to institute new government". See: The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America - july 4, 1776 for additional edification. Of course, as so many of our Founde Father opined - such a government cannot survive without a moral and ethical people. IMMHO, incouragement of illegal drug use by legalizing it is not conducive to the maintenance of a "moral and ethical people". Then again, what do I know. After all, I am merely a hypocrital conservative.
12.10.2005 3:03pm
juris imprudent (mail):

So, your point is what? Legalize "pot" so it has a fair chance to catch up to alcohol and tobacco in wreaking social damage?

Missed addressing this point in my last reply. The point is that you cannot legitimately argue social damage unless you are willing to ALSO ban those other substances, which apparently you are not.

In case you still don't get it, that is called hypocrisy.

And besides that, nowhere in the Constitution does it insure "the people right to get high"!

Oh, how right Hamilton was - that to enumerate any rights would inevitably lead to the assumption that if it ain't in the list...

Nowhere in the Constitution does it empower the govt to regulate what a person can put into his/her body.
12.10.2005 3:05pm
juris imprudent (mail):

If your goal is to reduce alcohol consumption and its related pathologies, then Prohibition was a success.

Are you kidding me? Talk about being absorbed in the forest and missing the trees.

Great that it achieved a MARGINAL reduction, huh. Sounds a lot like our current drug policy. Never mind the cost of widespread crime and corruption due to most people not acknowledging the legitimacy of the law.
12.10.2005 3:10pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Pardon me, but my BS meter just pegged.

So I noticed! I suggest that if you cut back on your BS it might help.
Not even the Scots drink it for its taste.

Then that their problem, not mine!
And that is PRECISELY the kind of rationalization that is so hopelessly threadbare when you condemn someone for taking a hit of pot.

How? Don't tell you me ou actually "toke for the taste" and because you like to cough? Hmmm! You give "mind altering substance" a brand new meaning.
Your vice is okay, but not theirs.

Which of my vices might that be?
And one wee dram HAS a 'narcotic' effect, just like a single hit of pot.

Really! But it doesn't taste nearly as good!
So you do indeed get more then just the taste.

As far as I am concerned, I don't. Personally, I prefer to maintain self-control. BTW, that's the key to good target shooting. But then again, I am a bit of a "control freak" anyway!
Go chew on a toasted chunk of peat.

Why on earth would I do that? Does it get you "high"!
Life, to be productive, requires more than selfish pleasure seeking.
Ah, arbeit macht frei, eh? Who are YOU to judge anyone's life but your own?

I have seen enough of life to know the "selfish pleasure seeking" leads invariable to decadence. A society of "selfish pleasure seekers" ends up like Rome.
Or does the individual exist primarily to serve society/state?

I never said they did - merely that their behavior should be destructive to society. In fact, the state exists to serve the individual - to secure his rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property).
I know plenty of people who are 'productive' [what a sad criteria on which to judge life] and recreationally consume substances that you condemn.

I submit "productive" is superior to "unproductive". On what criteria do you propose to judge ones life? "Selfish indulgence", perhaps? I know plenty of forks who were unable to recreationally use narcotics. I think for society to promote the non-medicinal use of narcotics is destructive. "A mind is a terrible thing to lose!"
So much for the automatic assumption of abuse and decadence.

I never said it was "automatic". In fact it is actually pervasive. Why would any society wish to sacrifice so many of its people on the altar of "selfish indulgence"?
If it is a society of control-freaks I don't think it is worth preserving. Nor does such seem sustainable based on history.

Really? As I recall the Roman Empire "lost it" only when they lost self-control. Perhaps you have other examples where a decadent society thrived?
Indeed, but that hardly has any bearing on whether or not OUR federal govt has a legitimate power (i.e. a general police power) to prohibit people from consuming the substance of their choice.

My point was one of racism and how narcotics foster imperialism and oppression. Perhaps my point was a bit to sharp for you. Apparently the Supremes think they do. Exactly where do you find the "unaliienable right of the people to consume the substance of their choice?"
Obviously no one thought they did in the case of alcohol, absent the 18th Amdt.

But then, unlike illegal drugs, alocohol has other beneficial uses beyond merely getting "high".
The real irony is that your entire line of argument has been used, repeatedly, by the anti-gun nuts: most people can't use a gun responsibly, they are a danger to society, etc.

Unfortunately, the imperical data supports my contention about firearms use, but not yours about illegal drug use. The practicality of firearms is evident, while were is NO practicallity in the use of illicit drugs. Facts are terrible things - especially when they are ignored.
12.10.2005 4:01pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Great that it achieved a MARGINAL reduction, huh. Sounds a lot like our current drug policy. Never mind the cost of widespread crime and corruption due to most people not acknowledging the legitimacy of the law.

Actually, the reduction in consumption was dramatic, as were the reductions in alcohol's pathological effect. The effect lasted for several years after Prohibition ended. Those are the imperical facts - look them up if you don't believe me.
12.10.2005 4:05pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Missed addressing this point in my last reply. The point is that you cannot legitimately argue social damage unless you are willing to ALSO ban those other substances, which apparently you are not.

I believe a case can be made for banning all those substances which have a destructive effect on society. Unfortunately for your "fringe" depravity there is no "popular demand", unlike tobacco and alcohol. I believe there is no case for society promoting already banned substances, such as illegal drugs, by making them readily available. By your comparison with alcohol and tobacco, you admit that illicit narcotic use is destructive. I rest my case! Only a moron would promote it own desruction.
Oh, how right Hamilton was - that to enumerate any rights would inevitably lead to the assumption that if it ain't in the list...

Actually it was Madison, Father of the Constitution and initial drafter of the Bill of Rights, who made that observation. He only supported the Bill of Rights because he had to agree to such in order to get the Constitution ratified in his home state of Virginia.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it empower the govt to regulate what a person can put into his/her body.

Never said they did! Illegal drugs are regulated under the powers of interstate commerce provisions of the Constitution - the Feds merely regulate the manufacture, transportation and sale of "illegal drugs", and not their use. At least that is the rationale expressed by Supremes in Gonzales. I take it from your question that you would also support doing away with the Food and Drug Administration. Interesting concept, but I doubt you can of 5% of "the People" to back you in that one. Of course, because rights can never be construed to promote "evil" self-destructive behavior you only have a "right" to do "good". Therefore you have no inherent right of self-destruction. That is why government try to stop suicides, and force self-destructive to be institutionalized to get help.
12.10.2005 4:41pm
juris imprudent (mail):

As far as I am concerned, I don't.

This is simply ridiculous Neal. You ARE getting an effect from the alcohol when you drink scotch - as you say, that is a scientific fact. You may not get falling down drunk (and even if you do, as long as you don't drive in that state I really don't care), but your body physiologically reacts to that alcohol. There is no denying that (which you have repeatedly done).

But then again, I am a bit of a "control freak" anyway!

There is nothing wrong with controlling your own behavior. It is when you insist on controlling everyone elses that I draw the line.

As I recall the Roman Empire "lost it" only when they lost self-control.

I was thinking in more recent terms of states that failed despite the great lengths taken to control their citizens. Besides, it was more political than moral decay that was the end of Rome.

On what criteria do you propose to judge ones life?

I'm not concerned with judging other people's lives, at least insofar as they are not hurting other people. If they hurt themselves that isn't my worry.

My point was one of racism and how narcotics foster imperialism and oppression.

In one exceptional case? As opposed to how racist clap-trap is used to assert moral superiority over minorities? I can give you more then one example of that just in this country (which is the point that eluded you).

But then, unlike illegal drugs, alocohol has other beneficial uses beyond merely getting "high".

Really? Is that why you consume scotch, for it's "beneficial" effects? You might want to rethink that, for it doesn't jive with always being in control.

Those are the imperical facts - look them up if you don't believe me.

The reduction in alcohol use was accompanied by an enormous growth in criminal activity. One was lasting and one was not. Do you know which was which? Which was the source of greater social disruption?

Unfortunately for your "fringe" depravity there is no "popular demand", unlike tobacco and alcohol.

Finally, you have got to the heart of the matter. We can't outlaw all damaging substances, so we only outlaw the least popular (not necessarily the most damaging). Lovely thing democracy - odd that the Founders thought so little of it.

Only a moron would promote it own desruction.

Like drinking scotch?

Actually it was Madison, Father of the Constitution and initial drafter of the Bill of Rights, who made that observation. He only supported the Bill of Rights because he had to agree to such in order to get the Constitution ratified in his home state of Virginia.

It was in the Federalist, so it could've been either. Doesn't matter, you prove the assertion that worried him. The Founders set forth a LIMITED govt with particular powers and where the rights of individuals were very broad and numerous (remember that 9th Amdt). You appear to favor a govt that does not respect its limits - that kind of thing could get you in trouble some day.

At least that is the rationale expressed by Supremes in Gonzales.

I'm glad that you are so willing to defer to whatever SCOTUS decides. I trust you will have no reservations when they fail to incorporate the 2nd, or decide that it really is a collective right. No sirree, you'll be just dandy with whatever they tell you.
12.11.2005 1:37pm
Neal Lang (mail):
even if you do, as long as you don't drive in that state I really don't care

Why should you care if anyone drives drunk? What are you some sort of a "contol freak"?
There is nothing wrong with controlling your own behavior. It is when you insist on controlling everyone elses that I draw the line.

Do you actually believe "everyone else" uses mind alterning recreation drugs? From where do you get your information on this remarkable revelation. I do not propose that government has the authority to control "all behavior" or "everyone's behavior". I merely submit that government has the authority and duty to control behavior that is destructive, especially that which is destructive to society. Drinking while drunk is an example.
it was more political than moral decay that was the end of Rome.

Most experts on the subject would disagree with you.
Decline in Morals and Values
Those morals and values that kept together the Roman legions and thus the empire could not be maintained towards the end of the empire. Crimes of violence made the streets of the larger cities unsafe. Even during PaxRomana there were 32,000 prostitutes in Rome. Emperors like Nero and Caligula became infamous for wasting money on lavish parties where guests ate and drank until they became ill. The most popular amusement was watching the gladiatorial combats in the Colosseum. These were attended by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on.

The historian Vegetius theorised and has recently been supported by the historian Arther Ferrill that the Roman Empire declined and as a result fell, due to a combination of increasing contact with barbarians and the subsequent 'barbarization', as well as a surge in decadence and the following lethargy. Hence, resulting in complacency and ill-discipline among the legions, making it primarily a military issue.

I'm not concerned with judging other people's lives, at least insofar as they are not hurting other people. If they hurt themselves that isn't my worry.

Ah, the infamous "Am I my brother's keeper" - defense. I submit the decadence associated with the "recreational use" of narcotics does "hurt" others - starting first with their families and then eventually socirety in general, as the taxpayers are forced to pickup the pieces for the "unproductive" dope users. ALL empirical studies show that non-medicinal narcotic use is destructive to the individual as well as those around them and also to society in general. Only an idiot would believe otherwise.
Really? Is that why you consume scotch, for it's "beneficial" effects?

Actually, I like drink scotch because I like the taste. Most doctors will tell you that, in moderation, alcohol has a net beneficial effect on the body. On the other hand, the "need" to experience the "effects of narcotics" indicates a pyshcological pathology. Maybe you should seek medical help for your addiction instead of seeking society's blessing for your depravity by legalizing it.
One was lasting and one was not.

But the fact remains that Prohibition reduced the consumption rate of alcohol and also the associated pathogenes of alcohol abuse. In this it was successful. Naturally its repeal reversed this success, so I am not sure what your point is concerning the "lasting" benefits of Prohibition. I would bet that had Prohibition not have been repealled, the annual highway "death toll" attributed to drinking would today also be substantially less today than it currently is. The fact that the criminal enterprises that fed upon the Prohibition of alcohol continued to flourish even after its repeal tells me that perhaps Prohibitions wasn't the main reason for their rise. Interestingly, organized crime did quite well after the end of Prohibition, even without their adoption of the illicit drug trade, which occurred long after.
Finally, you have got to the heart of the matter. We can't outlaw all damaging substances, so we only outlaw the least popular (not necessarily the most damaging). Lovely thing democracy - odd that the Founders thought so little of it.

It might interest you to note the all the various depravities that were sanctioned, some severely, at the time of Nation's founding. Read Thomas Jefferson's penal code for the State of Virginia, for instance, to see how the far the Founders though government could go to curtail immorality and destructive behavior. Popularity of a vice is merely a political consideration. The Founders agreed that there is no "right to do harm", even to oneself. Your problem is that your see "liberty" as "license". This concept would have been foreign to our Founding Fathers.
Like drinking scotch?

In fact I do like drinking scotch! Drinking scotch is only destructive if you do it for the SOLE reason one uses illegal drugs. That is to get "high". If you drink to get drunk you have a probblem - just as does someone who uses illegal substances to get "high".
It was in the Federalist, so it could've been either.

Actually, the thought you referred to was expressed not in the Federalist Papers, but in James Madison's speech to Congress on the occassion of his offering the initial draft of the Bill of Rights, June 8, 1789, to wit:
It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration, and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the general government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the 4th resolution.

The last clause of James Madison's "4th resolution" finally became the 10th Amendment, and it stated:
The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.

Nowhere did James Madison or any other Founding Father view individual "rights" as "license to do harm" - either to society or to themselves.
You appear to favor a govt that does not respect its limits - that kind of thing could get you in trouble some day.

No, just as did our Founders, I merely recognize government's authority to protect society by curtailing certain "destructive behavior".
I'm glad that you are so willing to defer to whatever SCOTUS decides.

I never said that. Stop trying to create nonsensical "strawmen"!
I trust you will have no reservations when they fail to incorporate the 2nd, or decide that it really is a collective right. No sirree, you'll be just dandy with whatever they tell you.

Firearms, unlike illegal narcotics, are net benefit to society. BTW, the only "on point" case the Supremes heard the last Century was "Miller". In its decision, the Reynold's court found that only firearms, such as "assault rifles", which would be part of the normal equipment of the militia, would be deemed as "protected" under the 2nd Amendment, and exempt from taxation and licensing under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Go figure!
12.12.2005 1:42pm
juris imprudent (mail):

I merely submit that government has the authority and duty to control behavior that is destructive, especially that which is destructive to society.

That which is destructive to others, such as driving while drunk - no question. But the govt has neither the authority nor the duty to prevent you from drinking yourself to death, or as you so quaintly put it "drinking while drunk". If the govt cannot prevent this, on what basis can it prevent you from smoking dope to your demise? Legitimately, it cannot, but that does not stop the raw exercise of majoritarian power.

Most experts on the subject [Rome] would disagree with you.

Gibbon doesn't, nor does Ferrill who seems to feel that a plethora of factors led to the decline, not mere moral decay.

But the fact remains that Prohibition reduced the consumption rate of alcohol and also the associated pathogenes of alcohol abuse.

At the cost of a phenomenal growth in [organized] crime. Just think, the Kennedy's would just be a clan of middle-class Irish cops and firemen if not for the fortune old Joe made bootlegging. Prohibition was a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Much the same can be said about the War on Drugs. Buckley and a number of other conservatives see the futility of this war.

Most doctors will tell you that, in moderation, alcohol has a net beneficial effect on the body.

Due to the narcotic effect of alcohol. Of course in large doses the benefit is lost. We might know similar things about cannabis, etc., but that knowledge is verboten by the moral midgets dominating politics. They refuse to allow any research that is not pre-programmed to the conclusion that they (and you) demand.

Read Thomas Jefferson's penal code for the State of Virginia

You mean the anti-miscegenation law that he was so guilty of transgressing himself?

Nowhere did James Madison or any other Founding Father view individual "rights" as "license to do harm" - either to society or to themselves.

You mean aside from the right to property that included slavery? Or the 'use' of slaves as Jefferson saw fit? This is an area where I believe we actually have a better grasp and practice of the Founders ideals then they themselves did.

And certainly the Founders did NOT intend a federal govt so expansive as ours, least of all absent the express consent of the people through amendment. You argue like a Democrat determined to preserve the New Deal, but unwilling to actually change the Constitution.

BTW, the only "on point" case the Supremes heard the last Century was "Miller".

And yet, oddly, SCOTUS has struck down but one gun law, not even the one in question in Miller. If you really feel secure in your right to own guns, you are as delusional as any addict. See here and here for Kopel's opinion on blind 2nd Amdt optimism.
12.12.2005 8:00pm