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Machine gun bleg:

How many machine guns are currently in civilian (non-government hands) pursuant to the registration and tax system of the 1934 National Firearms Act? Of course these would be guns manufactured before May 19, 1986, thanks to 18 USC 922(o). How many NFA civilian machine guns have been used in a crime? My guess is about "100,000 guns in civilian hands" and "1 crime gun." However, comments with precise citations would be much appreciated.

Philistine (mail):
According to the DOJ:



In 1995, over 240,000 automatic weapons were
registered with the ATF. As of March 1995, the NCIC stolen gun file contained reports on about 7,700 machine
guns and submachine guns.



BJS Guns in Crime Report (1995)

For # of crimes—see Here
1.22.2008 11:24am
therut:
Simple. Not Enough.
1.22.2008 11:30am
Latinist:
As someone basically ignorant on this subject, I have a question. I've heard the "only one machine gun used in a crime" claim before, and I've never heard it refuted. However, it was a cliche of fiction, at least, for bootleggers and other mobsters to machine-gun their rivals, witnesses, etc. So did this cliche have no basis in fact at all? Or does "machine gun" have a more technical meaning than I'm aware of? Or am I missing something else important?
1.22.2008 11:35am
BruceM (mail) (www):
http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcfullau.html

Crime with Legally Owned Machine Guns

In 1995 there were over 240,000 machine guns registered with the BATF. (Zawitz, Marianne,Bureau of Justice Statistics, Guns Used in Crime [PDF].) About half are owned by civilians and the other half by police departments and other governmental agencies (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997.)

Since 1934, there appear to have been at least two homicides committed with legally owned automatic weapons. One was a murder committed by a law enforcement officer (as opposed to a civilian). On September 15th, 1988, a 13-year veteran of the Dayton, Ohio police department, Patrolman Roger Waller, then 32, used his fully automatic MAC-11 .380 caliber submachine gun to kill a police informant, 52-year-old Lawrence Hileman. Patrolman Waller pleaded guilty in 1990, and he and an accomplice were sentenced to 18 years in prison. The 1986 'ban' on sales of new machine guns does not apply to purchases by law enforcement or government agencies. The other homicide, possibly involving a legally owned machine gun, occurred on September 14, 1992, also in Ohio.
1.22.2008 11:43am
Philistine (mail):
@Latinist:

Probably a couple of things. The statistic you've probably heard is something like "since 1934, only one legally owned machine gun was used in a crime." (My emphasis).

1934 is important as that was the year the National Firearms Act was passed, requiring registration. So some of the heyday of gangsters was before this. Also, according to this site, at least, the machine-gun-toting gangster was a bit of an exaggeration. ("For example, Al Capone's gang owned only two Thompsons.")

Also the "used in a crime" is probably wrong—as they are generally talking about used in a homicide.

According to Guncite.com there have actually been two homicides by legally-owned machine guns (though only one was civilian-owned).

It also notes that four police officers were killed in the line of duty by illegal machine guns from 1983 to 1992. The cite also has some numbers for machine guns recovered during arrests on narcotics (very low).
1.22.2008 11:50am
plblark:
Latinist,
I believe the registration and tax system of the 1934 National Firearms Act was in response to their use in prohibition era violence.

We often hear about assault weapons and crime, and there's a fair amount of scare tactics involved. There was a comment about automatic weapons being purchased in TX and used in crimes in Mexico, as well as an official commenting on the dangers of "assault weapons" where he describes an amazing rate of fire from a "single pull of the trigger" which is simply not possible.

I suspect that the specificity of the request hints at an upcoming post on the subject of MAchine Gun availability, restrictions, and crime use ;-)
1.22.2008 11:50am
Houston Lawyer:
I remember the shoot out in LA where the bandits had full auto machine guns and body armor. None of them survived the day and they were taken down by the out-gunned local police department.

I believe that the .50 BMG rifle has only been used in one crime.
1.22.2008 11:51am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Crime with Legally Owned Machine Guns

I would think that the concern is not that people who own machine guns legally, and go to the considerable expense and hassle to register them, are going to commit crimes with them, but rather that if fully automatic weapons are readily available they will be stolen from private gun owners and gun shops, just like handguns are and will be used in more and more crimes. It always amazes me that the pro-gun crowd simply refuses to acknowledge that most guns used in violent crimes at one point were probably owned by law-abiding citizens or were diverted from legitimate commerce.
1.22.2008 11:59am
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
OK, I'm seeing a problem with finding any meaning in these statistics. There's about 120,000 civilian use NFA machine guns. There are (roughly) 7500 previously legally registered machine guns reported stolen, and thus, presumably in the hands of criminals, who (I'm going to go out on a limb here) may use'em to commit crimes. So, (conveniently for calculation) about 6% of the total number of civilian machine guns are floating around, unaccounted for, and at least possibly in the hands of criminals who use'em. So far, so good?

The other statistic it seems we need to draw any conclusion would seem to be:how many U.S. crimes since 1934 have involved the use of any sort of full-auto weapon, legally registered or not? Certainly more than one? As to each of those crimes, what do we know about the weapon used? Of all the full-auto weapons seized or recovered from criminals, what percentage are stolen previously-
legally-registered guns, and what remainder are completely illegal?
1.22.2008 12:01pm
DG:
Houston Lawyer: We're talking about legally owned weapons. The LA situation were illegal weapons. Also, the reason the "out-gunned" local police department was able to take down the bad guys was due to a local gun store that provided them sufficient armament. Not that there's an adversarial relationship between gun stores and local cops - the local cops are usually the gun store's best customers (especially for high margin accessories) and hang out there.

In general, I feel the term "assault weapons" is ridiculous, as there is no standard or reasonable definition. Auto, semi-auto, etc are sensible terms of art (where "machine gun" == automatic weapon)
1.22.2008 12:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And I really love how you use the extremely low rate of crime with machine guns and other automatic weapons to somehow advance the argument that gun control doesn't work.
1.22.2008 12:04pm
DG:
JF Thomas: I disagree that most weapons used in crimes were stolen from citizens who lawfully own them. Of course, ALL guns used in crimes were diverted from legitimate commerce, by definition. i suspect straw buys are the number one source, and, if we had reasonable gun control lobbies (as opposed to Brady-style extremists) they could probably get some traction in limiting straw purchases. However, when the gun control folks are openly confiscatory, that leads to reflexive opposition from even moderate pro-gun folks, like myself.
1.22.2008 12:05pm
33yearprof:
I believe that the .50 BMG rifle has only been used in one crime.


Not a single homicide. Ever.

"The [alleged] incident is the death of "Deputy Sheriff Timothy Mossbrucker in Jefferson County, Colorado in April of 1995. Deputy Mossbrucker was killed by Albert Petrosky as the deputy responded to a "shot fired" call at a small shoping mall. The suspect had gone there to kill his wife and her boyfriend (her boss) after he found out they were having an affair.(he did kill both of them) He then waited in the parking lot for the cops to show up (I suspect so his death would be a suicide by cops). Deputy Mossbrucker was the first unit in. The suspect shot him three times through the windshield of his police unit killing him instantly with an 7.39 SKS rifle.

"The problem was, Petrosky had thrown every gun he owned into the bed of his pickup to go have his 15 minutes of glory. Included in those firearms was a LAR Grizzley big bore 50 BMG. There were also 5 empty 50 caliber casings in the bed of the truck that probably were thrown into the bed the last time he had been out shooting the rifle. There is no evidence to indicate he fired the 50 BMG during his shootout with the cops.

"The suspect was taken into custody a short time later but committed suicide in his jail cell before he was ever brought to trial.

"The reason they claim he killed the deputy is the press was allowed access to the crime scene about an hour after the shooting and the photographer took a photo of the LAR Grizzley and the fifty cal ammo. He just created the headlines 'Deputy Killed By 50 BMG' for the next day's paper."

From the Fifty Caliber Institute. www.fiftycal.org

Only the Dayton, Ohio police officer who dabbled as a "hit man" has actually used a "registered" full auto weapon in a major crime. The other Ohio case is a "possible" which means anyone's guess.
1.22.2008 12:10pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
where "machine gun" == automatic weapon)

I assume "machine gun" means an automatic weapon that is incapable of selective fire while an assault weapon would be a automatic weapon capable of selective fire designed for military use, or derived or mimicking military designs.

Even the M-16, at least the standard issue model, is no longer capable of emptying the entire magazine on one pull of the trigger. After Vietnam, the military modified it so you only get a three round burst from a single trigger pull (soldiers were burning out barrels and hitting precisely nothing other than the treetops).
1.22.2008 12:12pm
TRE:
Police officers are civilians.
1.22.2008 12:14pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
if we had reasonable gun control lobbies (as opposed to Brady-style extremists) they could probably get some traction in limiting straw purchases.

Please. The NRA never saw a gun control proposal it liked. And to the likes of Dave Kopel, gun control of any type isn't only anathema in this country, he wants the whole world to accept unrestricted gun ownership.
1.22.2008 12:16pm
33yearprof:
There are (roughly) 7500 previously legally registered machine guns reported stolen,


No. The report was on guns in the NCIC system. The 7500 number includes many thousands reported stolen from police (including FBI) and military (not all reported by any means). Police and FBI guns get stolen out of SWAT team members squad cars on a regular basis. $25,000 plus civilian owned Thompsons are kept in big, strong, heavy safes. They seldom get stolen.
1.22.2008 12:18pm
DG:
33yearprof: And military automatic weapons get stolen by corrupt supply SOBs who sell them and think they can get away with it. Happens regularly.

J.F. Thomas: I think the NRA is as extreme as Brady, but I was talking about moderate pro-gun folks, not the NRA. The majority of the population is in favor of gun ownership, although I know thats tough for some to swallow. However, the confiscatory approach tends to radicalize them, driving them to the NRA in the hopes of preserving their rights. So, lets get this right out in the open - do you support the right for private citizens to own firearms?
1.22.2008 12:26pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I disagree that most weapons used in crimes were stolen from citizens who lawfully own them.

Of course that is not what I wrote as I also said "diverted from legitimate commerce" which would include straw purchases. And other than limiting purchases by individuals (and tracking purchases) how exactly would you propose policing straw purchases without getting the 2nd amendment absolutists bent out of shape?

Ask DK what he would think about law enforcement questioning my right to go into a gun shop in Maryland and buy 25 handguns.

"Hey, I'm a collector, I have absolutely no intention of going into DC reselling them on the street to anyone willing to pay a 20% surcharge."
1.22.2008 12:26pm
BamaLaw:
2/240000 are in my safe
1.22.2008 12:30pm
Ben P (mail):
<blockquote>
I believe that the .50 BMG rifle has only been used in one crime.



<b>Not a single homicide. Ever.</b>

</blockquote>

I suppose I'm picking nits here, but he distinctly said "crime" not homicide.

Even if I accept your view of the Petrosky shooting. (and I'll freely admit there's controversy there and he may well not have used that rifle) There are a significant number of examples of .50 BMG cartrige rifles being used in Crimes, although the majority of them are simple possession cases, there are a few that are otherwise.

<blockquote>In February of 2004, Donin Wright of Kansas City, Missouri, lured police officers, paramedics, and firefighters to his home where he shot at them with several guns including a Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifle. Authorities discovered at least 20 guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and the makings of 20 pipe bombs inside Wright's home. ("Body is Identified in KC Gunfight, Fire," The Kansas City Star, March 30, 2004)
</blockquote>

perhaps slightly more famous
<blockquote>
Branch Davidian cult members at a compound in Waco, Texas, fired 50 caliber sniper rifles at federal ATF agents during their initial gun battle on February 28, 1993. The weapons' ability to penetrate tactical vehicles prompted the agency to request military armored vehicles to give agents adequate protection from the 50 caliber rifles and other more powerful weapons the Branch Davidians might have had. Four ATF agents were killed. ("Weaponry: .50 Caliber Rifle Crime," GAO Office of Special Investigations letter, August 4, 1999)
</blockquote>

<blockquote>On February 27, 1992, a Wells Fargo armored delivery truck was attacked in a "military style operation" in Chamblee, Georgia, by several men using a smoke grenade and a Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifle. Two employees were wounded. ("Two Armored Truck Guards Shot," The Atlanta Journal Constitution, February 27, 1992)</blockquote>
1.22.2008 12:32pm
Kevin P. (mail):

DG:
So, lets get this right out in the open - do you support the right for private citizens to own firearms?

On an earlier thread, JF Thomas tried to defend the confiscation of firearms from New Orleans citizens during Hurricane Katrina. If he actually supports any right for private citizens to own firearms, it must be quite abstract - like the right of men to have an abortion.
1.22.2008 12:32pm
Ben P (mail):
What, is HTML disabled now?
1.22.2008 12:32pm
karrde (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas-
The question is not whether gun control works, but what kinds of gun control work.

We need good statistics on known felonies/murders with full-auto weapons from before 1934, between 1934 and 1986, and after 1986.

The data at hand (post-1934) seems to involve an incredibly small number of cases with registered full-auto weapons. Thus, the ban on selling new full-auto weapons (1986) appears to not have been necessary, from a crime-prevention perspective. (From the perspective of raising the resale value of any registered full-auto weapon, it was very successful.)

However, there are the illegally-acquired full-auto weapons, especially the kind noted in the story about the drug dealers in Florida.

If they were acquired outside of the country and illegally imported along the same pipelines that the drugs were imported, then the law did not stop the crime. (Importation of firearms is likely covered under the firearms law that was passed in 1968.)

DG: To my knowledge, Any Federal Firearms License holder is required to report any suspicious straw-purchases.

The FFL-holder can also deny sale in cases where they suspect that a straw-purchase is being done. Whether he must report such a purchase attempt is unknown to me.

The ATF and FBI do receive thousands of requests per year to trace the original purchase of guns that fall into police hands. If I remember right, about half of these traces are successful; also, the average purchase of such firearms was 10 years before the weapon fell into police hands. Thus, I would assume that the set of guns that fall into police hands and are successfully traced are mostly secondhand/thirdhand gun purchases, or stolen guns.

The police can't guarantee that they've found and traced every gun used in every crime. However, the data we have at hand suggests that very few of the guns used in crime were recent purchases from a legitimate dealer.
1.22.2008 12:33pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So, lets get this right out in the open - do you support the right for private citizens to own firearms?

I have no problem with private citizens owning firearms for sporting uses. I think anyone who owns a gun for self defense (except in rare cases) is like a person who buys an SUV because they think they are safer. They are deluding themselves. I think guns and gun owners should be subject to at least the same scrutiny we subject cars and drivers. I am adamantly opposed to shall-issue concealed carry laws.

How's that?
1.22.2008 12:34pm
Kevin P. (mail):

JF Thomas:
I think anyone who owns a gun for self defense (except in rare cases) is like a person who buys an SUV because they think they are safer. They are deluding themselves.

Again, let's get this right out in the open: do you support the right of private citizens to own firearms for self defense? You don't have to approve of it. Do you support their right to do so?


I think guns and gun owners should be subject to at least the same scrutiny we subject cars and drivers.

Dave Kopel made the definitive comparison of gun regulation and automobile regulation here:
Taking It to the Streets: Why treating guns like cars might not be such a bad idea.
1.22.2008 12:39pm
Ben P (mail):

I think anyone who owns a gun for self defense (except in rare cases) is like a person who buys an SUV because they think they are safer. They are deluding themselves.


Deluding themselves in thinking that they'll ever use it? or that it will work for self defense? Your comparison to SUV's is either unsound or quite limited. SUV's are statistically safer in car accidents, (and consequently more unsafe to the occupants of the car in a car-suv crash) However, they suffer from a much higher rate of single auto rollover accidents, which cars do not.
1.22.2008 12:40pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
On an earlier thread, JF Thomas tried to defend the confiscation of firearms from New Orleans citizens during Hurricane Katrina.

As usual, my point in that discussion has been distorted and misstated. I did no such thing. I merely pointed out numerous errors in fact and exagerrations made by those who used the confiscations to push through an unwise piece of legislation banning gun confiscations in future natural disasters.
1.22.2008 12:41pm
WHOI Jacket:

I don't recall getting a background check at the DMV.
Nor do I need a license to keep a car in my driveway.
1.22.2008 12:43pm
Ben P (mail):

Dave Kopel made the definitive comparison of gun regulation and automobile regulation here:
Taking It to the Streets: Why treating guns like cars might not be such a bad idea.


No Insult to Kopel, but that article is pretty bad.


We don't ban cars like Porsches just because they are high-powered and can drive much faster than the speed limit.


Many Race Cars are not street legal for lack of appropriate safety features. Albiet I will admit there are no limits on pure engine size.

Likewise, we don't ban autos because they are underpowered, or because they're made with low-quality metal.


So all those Federal Auto Safety Standards I leaarned about in admin law don't exist?


Don't get me wrong, I do think a number of existing gun control laws are quite badly implemented, and that passing more is not the answer, but this particular comparison just doesn't work well.
1.22.2008 12:48pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Your comparison to SUV's is either unsound or quite limited. SUV's are statistically safer in car accidents, (and consequently more unsafe to the occupants of the car in a car-suv crash) However, they suffer from a much higher rate of single auto rollover accidents, which cars do not.

Actually, it is very sound. People think they are safer in SUVs, when actually they are more likely to die in them than passenger cars (even the smallest ones). Just because you are more likely to come off better in a particular kind of accident, doesn't mean you are better off over all. Likewise, contrary to what John Lott would have you believe, more guns does not mean less crime. Look at the crime rates for this country, there is no correspondence between lax gun laws and low crime. If anything, the states with the highest crime and murder rates tend to be those that traditionally have more of a gun culture (and absurdly, the most punitive justice systems).
1.22.2008 12:49pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I don't recall getting a background check at the DMV.

Guess you haven't heard about RealID.
1.22.2008 12:51pm
MXE (mail):
J. F. Thomas, why are you opposed to shall-issue concealed carry?
1.22.2008 12:54pm
MXE (mail):
Ben P., it is worth pointing out that there's a difference between use on public streets and ownership/possession/private use.

I'm pretty sure I can own as many ridiculous race cars as I please -- and drive them, for that matter. Just not on public roads.

Saying a car is "not street legal" is more analogous to saying that a state CCW permit doesn't cover a particular category of weapon, *not* that a particular type of weapon is banned outright.
1.22.2008 12:59pm
Ben P (mail):

Ben P., it is worth pointing out that there's a difference between use on public streets and ownership/possession/private use.


I'll admit that, but that's also where the analogy breaks down altogether.

Is driving a car equivalent to firing a gun or just carrying it? We definitely say that you can't drive your car in certain places and place a lot of rules on how and when you might drive your car.


Likewise with safety standards on cars.


I'll say again lest people misunderstand my position. I am generally against many gun control laws. However, I am against them not necessarily for ideological reasons, but because as far as I've seen facts, they don't work to prohibit their primary goal.

But in any debate, I dislike arguments that are generally over the top on both sides, and while I understand that statistics can be used to say many different things, I dislike blatantly playing with statistics to prove a point.
1.22.2008 1:18pm
Vinnie (mail):
"I think anyone who owns a gun for self defense (except in rare cases) is like a person who buys an SUV because they think they are safer."

I think its more analogous to owning a fire extinguisher.
1.22.2008 1:19pm
DG:
Do fire extinguishers actually make you safe? But I digress. JF Thomas is half right on the science - lax gun laws don't have much to do with lowering crime rates. But then, neither do tough gun laws. Either gun laws (pro and anti) don't work at all, or we just haven't found the right levers. Perhaps a bit of both.

A situation like Katrina, where law and order has broken down, is just where I would want a gun. Similarly, if I lived in DC (which I don't), i would have a gun in my home, legal or not. I'm not sure what the problem is with shall-issue concealed carry - its not like those guns are going to get stolen, if someone is carrying them around. The problem with most weapons permitting programs is that the criteria are so subjective, that the requirement to get a permit turns into "who is politically powerful" and not who needs a gun.

I had a friend who worked as an administrator in the NY City courts for many years. While not a judge, he did significant court administration and also a bunch of divorce arbitration (I forget the exact name for this role in NY courts). He received numerous death threats due to his work on the arbitration end. So, lawyer, background check, court administrator, multiple death threats (credible, per the police). Could he get a permit? No way. It was suggested that he increase his level of political donations.
1.22.2008 1:29pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
J. F. Thomas, why are you opposed to shall-issue concealed carry?

Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns. People, who by definition, have an irrational fear of crime and victimization, and an over-inflated sense of how they will handle themselves in a crisis, real or imagined.

And please don't quote me the "crimes prevented by citizen use of firearms" statistics, because they are unreliable at best, totally fabricated at worst. No reputable source gives any credence to the 2.5 million number so many people like to throw around.
1.22.2008 1:30pm
Waldensian (mail):

People think they are safer in SUVs, when actually they are more likely to die in them than passenger cars (even the smallest ones).

Cite, please.

Based on my limited review of the data, I think you are wrong w/r to the "smallest ones." I am no fan of SUVs, but with respect to all fatal accidents, they appear to be safer, on average, than compact cars. My cite.
1.22.2008 1:39pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Ben P., Kopel addresses the safety standards comparison later in the article:

Although legislative bodies regulate gun design (through laws banning machine guns, "assault weapons," and inexpensive guns), no federal agency has the authority to impose new design standards on firearms. In contrast, federal regulators do impose a wide variety of safety rules on automobiles. Some of these rules, such as mandatory passenger-side air bags, end up killing people.

So the one major way in which treating guns like cars would lead to more-restrictive gun laws would be to allow federal regulators to impose design mandates on firearms. Some of these regulations will, like automobile safety rules, cause the deaths of innocent people. Certain kinds of trigger locks, for example, can cause a loaded gun to fire when it is dropped, and a "magazine disconnect" can prevent a gun owner from firing his weapon when he is attacked. But if we accept death from regulation for cars, then perhaps we will have to accept it for guns as well.

Perhaps you didn't read far enough. Also, note that Kopel points out the key distinction between keeping a car / gun on your own property and driving / carrying it on the public street. The former has very few regulations for cars.

I am very familiar with gun law in general, and I think that Kopel's article is very accurate. If you feel differently, please point out where he is not accurate. Everytime someone brings up the facially seductive comparison of licensing and registering cars, then I point to his article.
1.22.2008 1:40pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
A situation like Katrina, where law and order has broken down, is just where I would want a gun.

The point I was making, which of course was lost, is that everyone had been ordered out of the city before, and then indeed after Katrina. Those who remained, whether they claimed to be "law abiding citizens" or hoodlums, were all part of the problem, and violating the law. The last thing the city needed was any private citizens hampering recovery efforts, let alone armed ones.

As for needing a gun in New Orleans after Katrina, the exact opposite was the case. New Orleans did not register a murder from September 2005 until late February 2006 (and that was a domestic dispute) and the crime rate in general dropped to nearly zero until well into the Spring. Crime literally took a holiday in New Orleans for about six months after the storm. Again, the perceived need for a firearm was actually completely contrary to the facts on the ground.

Now 2007, we had the highest murder rate in the country.
1.22.2008 1:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Also, note that Kopel points out the key distinction between keeping a car / gun on your own property and driving / carrying it on the public street.

Well, I realize Kopel lives in the wilds of Colorado, where he can probably keep cars on his front lawn and use them as chicken coops if he wants. But even he must realize that in most urban (and even moreso in many suburban) areas the right to keep cars on your property is severely limited. Heck, some homeowners associations require that all cars be kept in garages with the doors closed.
1.22.2008 1:48pm
MXE (mail):
And please don't quote me the "crimes prevented by citizen use of firearms" statistics, because they are unreliable at best, totally fabricated at worst. No reputable source gives any credence to the 2.5 million number so many people like to throw around.

The 2.5 million number is junk. Of course, many crimes are prevented by civilian use of firearms, but my strong intuition is that it's an order of magnitude lower than that.

Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns. People, who by definition, have an irrational fear of crime and victimization, and an over-inflated sense of how they will handle themselves in a crisis, real or imagined.

No reputable source has ever claimed that shall-issue CCW laws pose a public safety hazard. There is not a shred of evidence for such a claim. So who cares what the country "needs"? The country doesn't need a bunch of people carrying around key lime pies in their backpacks, but the state doesn't forbid it. In a free society, the state doesn't enforce laws against harmless actions.

Also, why do CCW holders "by definition" have an irrational fear of crime and victimization? By definition? Really? Where is that definition written?
1.22.2008 1:50pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
And please don't quote me the "crimes prevented by citizen use of firearms" statistics, because they are unreliable at best, totally fabricated at worst. No reputable source gives any credence to the 2.5 million number so many people like to throw around.
i.e. JF Thomas is not going to accept any argument or facts that contradict his view of the world and the evils of gun ownership.
1.22.2008 1:51pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Waldensian, this is very unsporting behavior - asking JF Thomas to provide a cite and prove something.
1.22.2008 1:51pm
MXE (mail):
But even he must realize that in most urban (and even moreso in many suburban) areas the right to keep cars on your property is severely limited. Heck, some homeowners associations require that all cars be kept in garages with the doors closed.

You can't seriously be suggesting that any rule a homeowners' association somewhere in America might come up with would be an appropriate state/federal law.
1.22.2008 1:53pm
Waldensian (mail):
I should add that I agree that most people greatly overestimate the safety advantage -- if any -- of SUVs. The mid-size sedan is a better safety bet, on average.

And then, for those who consider externalities, there's that matter of an SUV's effect on OTHER vehicles (what NHTSA and others call the "vehicle compatibility" issue).

Dragging the post back on topic: I live in a crappy neighborhood that I like very much. I have a concealed carry permit, which I obtained after undergoing training and a criminal background check. I routinely carry a gun. I am very competent with a gun, and my education has included extremely valuable training in how to avoid situations where I might have to use one.

I want to see the statistics suggesting, much less establishing, (1) that I would be safer without my gun, or (2) that people like me tend to increase, rather than decrease or have no effect upon, the rate of violent crime in a given area.

If I'm making the SUV mistake, I want to see proof. I think such a showing is necessary, though not sufficient, for anyone asking me to give up or further restrain what I consider to be a Constitutional right.
1.22.2008 1:54pm
Kevin P. (mail):

MXE:
Also, why do CCW holders "by definition" have an irrational fear of crime and victimization? By definition? Really? Where is that definition written?

It's JF Thomas' definition. Why do you question it? He knows how he would behave if he handled a gun. Naturally, everyone else would behave the same way.
1.22.2008 1:54pm
Ben P (mail):
The innacuracies are not with his statements of gun laws, but with the comparisons, as that is the only part I pointed out earlier.

Even the part you quoted contains such similar misstatements, or at least one of them.


Some of these rules, such as mandatory passenger-side air bags, end up killing people.



That's clearly a misleading partial statement. It is true that some people have died because of airbag deployment. But as studies show airbags collectively save a significant number of lives.


the appropriate question to ask about a regulation such as a trigger lock would be how severe is the nature of the limitation on the right to own a gun, and how likely is it to actually succeed at that goal.

I severely question anyone would seriously argue that airbags are not effective at saving lives. It may or may not be the case with trigger locks. Even if such studies have been done they are likely to have been related to pro or anti-gun groups.


As far as driving/Carrying goes, I just don't think the analogy generally applies.

Barring a very bizzare fact pattern, a car sitting in someone's driveway is no more dangerous than an equivalent weight hunk of metal. Likewise with a gun sitting in a safe.

Further assuming that the law is only concerned with the "misuse" of such an item, as opposed to the legitimate use. The set of facts where a gun may be misused in a criminal matter are far broader than a car may be misused.

I think it's also relevant that, at least where I live, there ARE a very significant number of regulations about what I may do with my automobile when it's sitting in my driveway. Albiet they take the form of city ordinances and neighborhood covenants, however, they do impose a significant restraint on how many vehicles I may keep in my driveway, and what condition the vehicles must be in what kind of vehicles I may park there, and what I may do to the vehicles in my driveway.
1.22.2008 1:59pm
Ben P (mail):

You can't seriously be suggesting that any rule a homeowners' association somewhere in America might come up with would be an appropriate state/federal law.


I don't think it's important that he's suggesting it, only that they do exist.

I personally think the parking and vehicle ordinances in my city are petty and ridiculous, (an opinion influenced by my parking fines) but they exist nonetheless.

I also think a number of gun laws are useless and are bad policy, but they exist nonetheless.
1.22.2008 2:03pm
Vinnie (mail):
The set of facts where a gun may be misused in a criminal matter are far broader than a car may be misused.



Funny, my newspaper reports a LOT more DUIs than armed robbery. More deaths by DUI than gun too.
1.22.2008 2:10pm
Waldensian (mail):

Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns.

It's amazing how many unsupported assumptions you can cram into one sentence. Let's unpack this a bit:

Please establish that concealed carry permitees are, on average or in any substantial number, "under-trained."

Please tell us how much additional training they would need, on average, to equal the competence of law enforcement officers.

Please establish that "law-enforcement people" are, on average, better trained in firearms use than concealed carry permittees.

Please demonstrate the harm caused currently by "non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns," whether such people are undertrained or not.

I think you greatly overestimate the amount of firearms training, and the firearms proficiency, of the average law enforcement officer. There are more than a few Barney Fifes out there. I met one cop that I wouldn't even give a single bullet to. The guy doesn't even know how to field strip his gun.

J.F., I am starting to think you are a troll. For example, I've noticed that you sprinkle your posts with just enough incorrect technical details to infuriate people who actually know something about firearms. And your wild unsupported factual claims are so typical of the anti-gun crowd that they approach a caricature.

Charlton Heston, is that you?
1.22.2008 2:10pm
MXE (mail):
I think it's also relevant that, at least where I live, there ARE a very significant number of regulations about what I may do with my automobile when it's sitting in my driveway.

Right -- just like you can't shoot trap in your back yard if you live near people who will be bothered by the noise. Though I'm not sure exactly what all this talk of neighborhood associations is meant to illustrate. (That's sincere befuddlement, by the way -- I'm not just being snarky.)

This "cars and SUVs" horse has just about been beaten into a fine red powder.
1.22.2008 2:13pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
No reputable source has ever claimed that shall-issue CCW laws pose a public safety hazard.

I don't disagree. I suspect that the reason it doesn't is that the number of people carrying a firearm before and after such laws are passed does not change significantly. Has anyone done a comprehensive survey on whether shall-issue laws actually change behavior in anyone, either the "law abiding" or criminal population. I would bet that it merely legitimizes those who were inclined to carry a gun (and considered it their right--so they weren't really breaking the law).

I'm sure you will now all tell me you would have never carried a concealed weapon before your state began issuing permits and you never leave the house without one now and without exception everyone you know is exactly the same.

As for the SUV issue. I can't find the cite, but I will note that your numbers are for number of vehicles, not miles travelled--which I had found before.

JF Thomas is not going to accept any argument or facts that contradict his view of the world and the evils of gun ownership.

I don't accept crap statistics by people whose dog ate their hard drive and have been caught using dishonest practices.
1.22.2008 2:19pm
MXE (mail):
I don't think it's important that he's suggesting it, only that they do exist.

Hmmm. I'm not sure I see what you mean. How does the existence of neighborhood association rules bear on the question of whether machine gun possession and/or concealed carry should be forbidden by state/federal law?

I know how I'd answer that question. ("Not even slightly.") I'd love to hear how someone else would answer it.
1.22.2008 2:21pm
Al Maviva (mail):
I think anyone who owns a gun for self defense (except in rare cases) is like a person who buys an SUV because they think they are safer. They are deluding themselves

Hmm. Interesting. My mother &father both carried concealed, and fended off muggers - the group trying to mug my mother seemed actually to have other things on its collective mind than getting her purse, to hear her tell it. I witnessed my father stopping a home invasion in our house when I was a teen, and it turned out the perpetrator actually had a nasty habit of killing or trying to kill his burglary victims. Not sure if a shotgun under the bathrobe is concealed carry, but it would probably qualify as such in D.C. and MA. And I used to work in law enforcement and had many experiences involving the constructive use of firearms for self-defense.

Deluded? Or did I just (very coincidentally) witness a lot of really rare cases?
1.22.2008 2:21pm
Ben P (mail):

Funny, my newspaper reports a LOT more DUIs than armed robbery. More deaths by DUI than gun too.


I'll admit that was vague, but I stand by my statement. I said "Set of facts" not "number of instances." DUI is very common and very dangerous, but is nontheless a single type of misuse.

How many of those DUI's occur inside residences? or probably more correctly were more than an insignificant distance from a public road?

Now how many violent crimes involving guns occurred in places that were not immidiately in the public eye?


This is kind of a pointless sidetrack, but I think it still illustrates my point. The analogy is fairly weak. The vast majority cars are used on public roads or otherwise in public areas. Most traffic regulations only touch the use of cars as they may be used on public land. If you build a private racetrack, you're probably not subject to most traffic laws while operating a vehicle on it.

Gun laws on the other hand simply cannot be fashioned in such a manner as to apply to such a narrow set of the ways guns may be used. Even those laws that Kopel grudingly admits might apply in his example. (safety laws) Must inherently intrude on the privacy of individuals who keep such guns only within their private residences.

This is exactly why I support only a very slim number of gun control laws. Those that I'm convinced either represent the most minimal of intrusions, or support very strong public interests and are quite likely to actually achieve those interests. I'm not sure I would go all the way to full application of strict scrutiny, but I'm quite close to it.
1.22.2008 2:25pm
MXE (mail):
I don't disagree. I suspect that the reason it doesn't is that the number of people carrying a firearm before and after such laws are passed does not change significantly.

So, vitriolic caricatures of gun owners aside, you are basically agreeing that you want the state to ban a behavior even though doing so doesn't actually accomplish a public safety-related goal...right?
1.22.2008 2:30pm
Ben P (mail):

Hmmm. I'm not sure I see what you mean. How does the existence of neighborhood association rules bear on the question of whether machine gun possession and/or concealed carry should be forbidden by state/federal law?

I know how I'd answer that question. ("Not even slightly.") I'd love to hear how someone else would answer it.


The inital mentioning of that was in relation to the validity of the car/gun analogy. Within that analogy it definitely applies. At least to the extent that cities may also pass their gun laws, and theoretically I see no reason why a city should be able to pass an ordinance prohibiting the use X gun, but a state should not be able to pass such a law.


Outside of that analogy, the question doesn't even make sense. I seriously doubt a neighborhood covenant or city ordinance could or would prohibit the keeping of an object within the confines of my personal residence. A state or federal law certainly would. The only appropriate question is whether or not it's a good idea and or infringes on a protected right.
1.22.2008 2:32pm
Waldensian (mail):

I'm sure you will now all tell me you would have never carried a concealed weapon before your state began issuing permits and you never leave the house without one now and without exception everyone you know is exactly the same.

Carrying a concealed handgun in a jurisdiction that doesn't permit such activity tends to be a reasonably serious crime. Yet the people who qualify for concealed carry permits generally must pass criminal background checks, and (I speculate) aren't generally prone to that kind of criminal behavior. So I think there's actually every reason to think that, in jurisdictions where concealed carry suddenly becomes legal, new permittees generally were not packing concealed beforehand.

I occasionally leave my house unarmed.

I know lots of gun owners, but I don't know anyone who carried a gun illegally prior to obtaining a permit under a new permitting regime. Again, doing so would be a serious crime.

Do you know any such people?!?
1.22.2008 2:40pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> And I really love how you use the extremely low rate of crime with machine guns and other automatic weapons to somehow advance the argument that gun control doesn't work.

Actually, it goes to prove that gun control advocates are either irrational or basically uninterested in public safety.

Legally owned machine guns weren't and aren't a crime problem, but they have long been a priority of gun control advocates.

The 86 changes pretty much prove that gun control advocates don't act in good faith.

There are lots of gun control measures that we could try, but gun control advocates have taken "we'll try it and if it doesn't work, we'll repeal it and try something else" off the table with their vehement defense of any and all restriction.

Feel free to explain why we should have gun control laws that don't improve public safety.
1.22.2008 2:43pm
MXE (mail):
And I really love how you use the extremely low rate of crime with machine guns and other automatic weapons to somehow advance the argument that gun control doesn't work.

Right, I don't think this is used as an argument that gun control doesn't work, but that further gun control (in this case, at least) is pointless and excessive -- that it's a solution in search of a problem.

Andy illustrated this point with respect to machine guns, and the case of .50 BMG was pointed out earlier in the thread.
1.22.2008 2:52pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I seriously doubt a neighborhood covenant or city ordinance could or would prohibit the keeping of an object within the confines of my personal residence.

I'm sure they do, from the prohibition to the keeping of certain pets ("dangerous" breeds of dogs are a particular current favorite) to certain chemicals. Heck, there was even a stink in Florida a few years back when Tom Monaghan (the founder of Dominos Pizza) tried to prevent the stores around his new university from carrying birth control (he is a very strict Catholic and the university is in a planned community where the land was originally owned by him).

Please establish that concealed carry permitees are, on average or in any substantial number, "under-trained."

I just checked the requirements for my state, Louisiana, For a four year permit, a safety course is required prior to permitting with refresher courses for renewal. (I assume the NRA course requires displaying some competence in handling a handgun).

I sure hope even the most modestly budgeted police department requires their officers to qualify more than once every four years. If not, well then you do have a very good point.
1.22.2008 2:53pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns.

Why does Thomas believe that "shall issue" implies that CCW folk have less training than law-enforcement?

There are lots of demographic groups who are more law abiding than police, so I guess that Thomas is just a fan of the badges.

It must be nice to live where police chiefs don't pass out political favors or discriminate.

However, I'm willing to compromise. Let's let police have complete discretion, together with liability when they were wrong about whether someone was at risk. If Thomas is correct, this is a no-lose proposition.
1.22.2008 2:55pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I know lots of gun owners, but I don't know anyone who carried a gun illegally prior to obtaining a permit under a new permitting regime. Again, doing so would be a serious crime.

Frankly, I don't know anyone who regularly carries a handgun--and I live in that deadly dangerous city New Orleans. I know few people who even own one, although I do have a friend who has one next to her bed (she is in the Army Reserves and could easily get a permit). When I lived in the suburbs of Atlanta (and this was in the '80s before CCW I believe), I knew a lot of people who kept a gun in their car and would carry it when they visited big scary Atlanta. Inevitably, these were suburbanites who thought that getting out of their car in the city involved extreme risk to life and limb.
1.22.2008 3:02pm
Kevin P. (mail):

It must be nice to live where police chiefs don't pass out political favors or discriminate.

JF Thomas lives in New Orleans, where this is clearly the case.
1.22.2008 3:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Actually, I should have said "a handful" not "a lot"
1.22.2008 3:03pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
J. F. Thomas says:

I assume "machine gun" means an automatic weapon that is incapable of selective fire

Wrong. Machine gun (the NFA says machinegun) means it can fire more than one shot with one pull of the trigger. So it applies to select fire and only-auto-fire guns.

while an assault weapon would be a automatic weapon capable of selective fire designed for military use,

Wrong. Assault weapon is (by the definition in the lapsed Federal Assault Weapon Ban) doesn't include semi-autos.

Also, it doesn't have to be designed for military use.

It is a cosmetic definition dealing mostly with guns that look mean!

or derived or mimicking military designs.


Wrong - well, pretty much. Well, it need not be, although mimicking would be hard to avoid given the cosmetic definition. Also, in a trivial sense, any gun with a barrel might be claimed to have been derived from a military design.


Even the M-16, at least the standard issue model, is no longer capable of emptying the entire magazine on one pull of the trigger.


Who brought up this criterion?


After Vietnam, the military modified it so you only get a three round burst from a single trigger pull (soldiers were burning out barrels and hitting precisely nothing other than the treetops).


But that is still legally a machinegun! What does this have to do with the discussion?

I can argue, with data, that a machinegun is generally not a significantly greater crime threat than an ordinary semi-auto (or even a manually operated firearm.) People, especially journalists and anti-gun zealots tend to freak out about (gasp) machine guns. But the resulting publicity makes it easier to strongly regulate this type of firearm.

As far as the effectiveness of the stringent regulations on full-autos in reducing crime, some day I'll tell you about the wonderfully effective anti-wild-elephant charm I keep in my office!
1.22.2008 3:11pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I am adamantly opposed to shall-issue concealed carry laws."

Obviously out of step with the mainstream in America.
1.22.2008 3:26pm
DG:
JF Thomas: Would you be ok with shall-issue CCW permits if they came with the proviso that the holder must have firearms training equivalent to a police officer or member of the military, and be required to requalify annually? If the training is such a big issue, thats probably not the NRA's hard spot - after all, they are in the training business. I suspect, however, that most gun control supporters don't even consider training - they are simply viscerally repulsed by weapons and find ways of restricting their availability to salve their distress.

I find your story of an Army Reservist who was easily able to get a permit to be amusing. You do realize that this is an atypical experience - military experience rarely makes getting a permit easier in places where local officials have sway over the process. Ironically, in other places, it does exactly the wrong thing - my DD214 will spring me from having to attend mandatory safety training for owning a handgun in my home state. I don't think there should ever be an exception to mandatory safety training.
1.22.2008 3:30pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So it applies to select fire and only-auto-fire guns

I was trying to differentiate between a machine gun and an assault weapon and trying to stick to a common and more military (not legal) definition of the term. As with many things, words can have different meanings and a definition for a certain piece of legislation is hardly definitive.

Likewise with my definition of assault weapon, which someone above said was "impossible" to define. It of course is not impossible to define. I will not argue that the definition under the "assault weapons ban" was hopelessly complicated and vague. But that wasn't what we were discussing.

I thought that there was some validity in differentiating between the two types of military weapons--machine guns and assault rifles. Sorry for not realizing there is no difference in function, capability, or tactical use of the weapons.
1.22.2008 3:32pm
The Drill SGT:

After Vietnam, the military modified it so you only get a three round burst from a single trigger pull (soldiers were burning out barrels and hitting precisely nothing other than the treetops).


Long after Vietnam. The M16A2 (capable of firing 3 round bursts) was first bought by the Army in 86. In GWI, many of the soldiers and Marines had M16A1 (full auto version)
1.22.2008 3:34pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
military experience rarely makes getting a permit easier in places where local officials have sway over the process

Like your state, Louisiana allows proof of military training with a handgun to substitute for the safety course.
1.22.2008 3:35pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Long after Vietnam. The M16A2 (capable of firing 3 round bursts) was first bought by the Army in 86.

Wow, that late? Learn something new every day.
1.22.2008 3:41pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
J. F. Thomas writes:

I thought that there was some validity in differentiating between the two types of military weapons--machine guns and assault rifles. Sorry for not realizing there is no difference in function, capability, or tactical use of the weapons.


That's not quite right either. An "assault rifle" is the military term for a smallish select-fire (with some other qualifications - see below) rifle.

That definition doesn't mean that all machine guns are assault rifles. None of the heavy machine guns (e.g. the M2)or squad-level machine guns are assault rifles.

Their "function, capability, or tactical use" do differ.

--------------

Assault rifles are short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.

Source: United States Defense Department's Defense IntelligenceAgency book _Small Arms Identification and Operation Guide_(Washington: Government Printing Office 1988)
1.22.2008 3:54pm
Waldensian (mail):

I just checked the requirements for my state, Louisiana, For a four year permit, a safety course is required prior to permitting with refresher courses for renewal. (I assume the NRA course requires displaying some competence in handling a handgun).

I sure hope even the most modestly budgeted police department requires their officers to qualify more than once every four years. If not, well then you do have a very good point.

Let's assume you're correct, and let's talk about Louisiana. Assume concealed carry permittees have to take this refresher course every four years, and let's assume the cops have to qualify what, maybe once every three months?

You are simply comparing the REQUIRED level of training between these two groups. Most concealed carry permittees I know are gun enthusiasts and practice far more often than the cops I know. Waaaay more.

If you picked 100 gun-carrying law enforcement officers at random, and 100 concealed-carry permittees at random, you might be very surprised at their comparative competence with firearms. In any event, there is no, repeat no, evidence that concealed carry permittees are "under-trained," whatever that means, or (more importantly) that a lack of training is causing any problems in the real world. Unless you know of some evidence.

You're making the claim. Cites?

You really need to meet some more gun owners and concealed carry permittees. I think you'd be genuinely surprised. You'd probably understand why, as you admit, no studies show increased gun violence or crime in the wake of shall-issue laws.

And I guess you've given up on the compact car issue? :)
1.22.2008 4:15pm
Waldensian (mail):

I suspect, however, that most gun control supporters don't even consider training - they are simply viscerally repulsed by weapons and find ways of restricting their availability to salve their distress.

There's no question this is true of many gun-control advocates. This is why the actual data don't matter to them. Even J.F. (a.k.a. "Charlton Heston trolling") admits that no studies show INCREASED gun violence or crime in the wake of shall-issue laws. Yet he's still opposed.
1.22.2008 4:19pm
The Drill SGT:

Long after Vietnam. The M16A2 (capable of firing 3 round bursts) was first bought by the Army in 86.

Wow, that late? Learn something new every day.


Let me correct myself. First bought in volume in 1986. Remember that after the Army downsized following VN pull-out (72-74ish) we had a lot more M16A1's than we had volunteers.


so 10 years later it was time to start replacing inventory.
1.22.2008 4:20pm
The Drill SGT:

Long after Vietnam. The M16A2 (capable of firing 3 round bursts) was first bought by the Army in 86.

Wow, that late? Learn something new every day.


Let me correct myself. First bought in volume in 1986. Remember that after the Army downsized following VN pull-out (72-74ish) we had a lot more M16A1's than we had volunteers.


so 10 years later it was time to start replacing inventory.
1.22.2008 4:20pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Please. The NRA never saw a gun control proposal it liked. And to the likes of Dave Kopel, gun control of any type isn't only anathema in this country, he wants the whole world to accept unrestricted gun ownership.
That's why they backed the NICS improvement bill authored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)?

As usual, J.F. Thomas is either astonishingly ignorant or intentionally lying.

NRA has long supported bans on violent felons being in possession of firearms, for example. They have never challenged Federal Firearms Act of 1938, for example, and have actively supported enforcement of that law.
1.22.2008 4:52pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Most concealed carry permittees I know are gun enthusiasts and practice far more often than the cops I know. Waaaay more.

So what you're saying is that most concealed carry permitees (at least the ones you know) devote a lot of time and money to practice and are thus probably a very small percentage of the population?

If you picked 100 gun-carrying law enforcement officers at random, and 100 concealed-carry permittees at random, you might be very surprised at their comparative competence with firearms. In any event, there is no, repeat no, evidence that concealed carry permittees are "under-trained," whatever that means, or (more importantly) that a lack of training is causing any problems in the real world. Unless you know of some evidence.

It appears, that you, like me, are speculating. Maybe you are right, especially about permitees who actually regularly carry weapons. But as far as I can see, at least in my state, the bar for getting a permit is pretty low. I would be very interested to see any data on how many permitees actually make a habit of actually carrying a firearm regularly.
1.22.2008 4:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns. People, who by definition, have an irrational fear of crime and victimization, and an over-inflated sense of how they will handle themselves in a crisis, real or imagined.
Isn't it amazing with the vast number of people who now have permits to carry (in the many millions, now) that this isn't creating a problem?

The number of people who have had permits revoked for criminal misuse of a gun is tiny. I know of a few such cases (I can count them on both hands) over a 20 year period. The Violence Policy Center tries its best to claim that this is because permitees are just smarter about not getting caught, but their evidence for this is? Hot air and speculation.

On the other hand, here are 165 examples of concealed weapon permit holders using their guns in self-defense that received media attention.

Does it ever bother you, J.F. Thomas, that you hold these bizarre ideas with no connection to reality?
1.22.2008 4:56pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
NRA has long supported bans on violent felons being in possession of firearms, for example.

How progressive of them.

Does that include those convicted of domestic violence crimes?
1.22.2008 4:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It appears, that you, like me, are speculating. Maybe you are right, especially about permitees who actually regularly carry weapons. But as far as I can see, at least in my state, the bar for getting a permit is pretty low. I would be very interested to see any data on how many permitees actually make a habit of actually carrying a firearm regularly.
You make a number of mistakes here:

1. The level of training required for a police officer is quite a bit higher (in some states) than for a civilian because they have very different situations. A police officer is required to use his gun in situations where a civilian is not--and where you are well-advised to walk away.

I've been the subject of one armed robbery attempt while I was armed. The distance was long enough--and there was enough ambiguity about whether these idiots were armed, or only pretending to be armed--that I held my fire while my wife and I threw ourselves to the ground to improve our cover.

I've had one other occasion when I had to decide whether to shoot someone or not. I was not in danger; it was a kidnapping, and this being gun control heaven California, it took 45 minutes for the police to respond to a 911 call. It was a very disturbing situation, but the situation resolved itself without me having to fire.

I'm probably a pretty typical carry permit holder. I haven't done anything stupid with a gun, or even gotten close to it, while carrying concealed. Why do you assume that everyone else is?

My wife and I went through the same handgun training program as police officers some years back. It was taught at the police academy, by the sheriff's department's firearms instructor. We even had one officer in training in our class because he had been injured in a vehicle accident, and it was easier to throw him in with us.

2. I agree that a lot of people with permits do not carry them every day. Much of the social benefit to widespread issuance of permits is that it creates uncertainty among those violent criminals who are capable of rational cost/benefit analysis. If the odds that the next person you attack is armed is 1 in 25, a person of criminal tendencies might consider another line of work, like elective office.
1.22.2008 5:04pm
Brian K (mail):
admits that no studies show INCREASED gun violence or crime in the wake of shall-issue laws. Yet he's still opposed.

it seems to me that in the absence of conclusive studies pointing one way or the other which side you support is a matter of personal opinion.
1.22.2008 5:05pm
Spartacus (www):
JF has always been a troll. He comes around here once in awhile to spout his contrary positions, and declines to listen to reasons to the contrary.

While anecdotal evidence does not equal hard statistics, when was the last time you saw a news item reporting a licensed concealed carrier trying to use his/her gun in self defense and the gun being turned on them, or killing an innocent bystander? What about a news item documenting the successful use of a firearm in self defense. I will not even link to the latter, because they are plentiful. I have never seen one of the former.

All I have to say to JF is, "Come and take it."
1.22.2008 5:10pm
zippypinhead:
Whoa! Back to the original point of the thread: What are the statistics on use of NFA-registered firearms in crimes? Dave Kopel's question itself dictates the answer, because he only asks about legal NFA-registered firearms. The short answer, just like the answer to similar questions about crimes involving legally-owned .50 BMG rifles and crimes committed by licensed CCW holders, is "not enough to be statistically significant."

Why? Because our fellow citizens who are willing to jump through all the hoops imposed by the NFA and BATF regs to legally own machineguns simply aren't criminals. Neither are folks interested in spending the kind of money necessary to buy and feed a .50 BMG rifle (one can legally buy 10 new Glocks or 25-50 used pawn shop .380s for the cost of just one .50 BMG Barrett, and box of either 9mm or .380 ammo for the cost of just 2 or 3 rounds of .50 BMG). Neither are folks who go to the trouble of the training, paperwork, and background investigations that are necessary for a CCW permit even in shall-issue states.

On the assumption that Dave is gathering data for an upcoming pro-Heller amicus brief, let me humbly suggest that by highlighting the lack of crime committed with legally-owned, but regulated, firearms, Dave would essentially be opening the door for a cheap "gotcha" argument on the other side: If you argue there is low criminal use of firearms IN a strictly-regulated system, you're just begging to get hit with an argument for EXPANDING the system.

The only way my little pinhead brain can see using the evidence Dave asked for is to posit that (pre-922(o)) NFA-style regulation of handguns is a viable less restrictive alternative to D.C.'s outright ban. But I also suspect that's not a concession Dave wants to make, with our without waterboarding. And there are more effective ways of approaching the issue.

Were I trying to overturn the D.C. Cir's Parker decision (I'm certainly not), I would respond to a "legal machineguns aren't used in crimes" argument by agreeing wholeheartedly, and then saying that it is therefore reasonable to EXPAND the sort of strict regulatory scheme that has been so successful with legal machineguns. Or, to put it another way, one could argue that the paucity of crimes committed by LEGAL regulated firearms shows that the problem is the too-easy availability of ILLEGAL firearms. And that the solution is to curtail all possible channels under which LEGAL firearms become ILLEGAL firearms. This might work under an intermediate scruity standard of review such as that advocated by the Solicitor General. The practical argument being that it is reasonable to preserve and expand laws like the 1934 NFA, restrictive licenses to buy a gun or ammunition, and arguably even D.C.'s handgun ban and 922(o). As well as schemes whereby all firearms, together with their location and use, can be individually tracked and traced (e.g, maintenance of a comprehensive gun ownership registry, and arguably even cartridge micro-stamping). As well as taxation requirements that greatly raise the cost of ammunition and/or guns. As well as theft-inhibiting measures like mandatory 24x7 secure storage, immediate reporting of firearm thefts, periodic unannounced police or BATF inspections of collections to ensure they're intact and properly secured, yadda yadda yadda.

I'm sure some people are screaming as they read the preceding paragraph. But not to worry -- Dave, I know for a fact that Yale Kamisar taught you too well during your Hutchins Hall days for you to blunder into that "slippery-slope" parade of horribles.

Bottom line: Can one rebut the "more regulation is better" argument? Sure. But why invite it? Don't give credence to those who want to expand the footprint of the system. The overall non- to inverse-relationship between street crime and strict gun control, demonstrates that under any level of heightened scrutiny more gun control is not a reasonable measure to make the community safer.

OK, that ought to be controversial enough for one posting, and I didn't mention SUVs on the front lawn, honest cops in Louisiana, or Trolls lurking on what's supposed to be a legal issues blog even once...
1.22.2008 5:37pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
If I remember properly, JF Thomas was the individual who insisted that the New Orlean's gun confiscation [i]never took a lawfully owned firearm from its owner[/i]. Facts and similar mattered remarkably little to him there. I don't see there being a worthwhile chance of him changing for this specific argument.
1.22.2008 6:02pm
MXE (mail):
it seems to me that in the absence of conclusive studies pointing one way or the other which side you support is a matter of personal opinion.

It seems to me that in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that a given behavior is harmful, it should not be forbidden by the state.

Otherwise, why not ban mustaches? There are no conclusive studies indicating that a mustache encourages violent behavior, but I have some pretty strong anecdotal evidence. I mean, really, who doesn't get a little uneasy around a mustachioed stranger? And besides which, who really needs or wants a mustache? Yech.
1.22.2008 6:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K writes:

it seems to me that in the absence of conclusive studies pointing one way or the other which side you support is a matter of personal opinion.
There are actually conclusive studies that show that it makes a small but significant improvement in public safety. There are studies that conclude that it doesn't make any difference. There are no serious studies that provide evidence that it makes things less safe. And this is an argument for continuing a policy that was, in most states, originally intended to disarm racial minorities?
1.22.2008 6:10pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Otherwise, why not ban mustaches? There are no conclusive studies indicating that a mustache encourages violent behavior, but I have some pretty strong anecdotal evidence. I mean, really, who doesn't get a little uneasy around a mustachioed stranger? And besides which, who really needs or wants a mustache? Yech.
There is no explicit constitutional guarantee of a right to grow facial hair--unlike the right to bear arms. (I would agree that this right is definitely hiding under the 9th Amendment inkblot.)

Brian K better hope that the courts never adopt his "just your personal opinion" view about whether homosexuality should be allowed.
1.22.2008 6:16pm
MXE (mail):
There are actually conclusive studies that show that it makes a small but significant improvement in public safety.

I assume Brian meant that unless the credible literature as a whole strongly indicates a notable benefit or harm, it's a toss-up. I disagree with the conclusion (especially since a basic, constitutionally protected freedom is in question), but AFAIK he's making a fair assessment of the research, as are you.

Honestly, conclusive evidence is pretty hard to find in situations like this. As a wise professor of mine once said: "In science and engineering, there is one right answer. In the humanities, there are an infinite number of right answers. In social sciences, there are no right answers." :-)
1.22.2008 6:17pm
MXE (mail):
There is no explicit constitutional guarantee of a right to grow facial hair--unlike the right to bear arms.

What what what?! Well, Amendment XXVIII, here we come! :-)
1.22.2008 6:19pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

I think the NRA is as extreme as Brady, but I was talking about moderate pro-gun folks, not the NRA.

The NRA does represent moderate pro-gun folks. Gun Owners of America, is one group that is more extreme in that they believe the NRA has sold out. But pro- and anti-gun forces are not symmetric any more than NARAL is as extreme as Operation Rescue.
1.22.2008 6:23pm
Brian K (mail):
It seems to me that in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that a given behavior is harmful, it should not be forbidden by the state.

depends on what you consider harmful. for example, does the small number of accidental shootings and deaths outweigh the increased liberty of being able to own and carry a gun? that is entirely a value judgment that people will make differently.
1.22.2008 6:25pm
Waldensian (mail):

It appears, that you, like me, are speculating.

Of course I am. But you are the one making the claim. And supporting a restriction on a Constitutional right. So I was thinking maybe it was up to YOU to provide some evidence.

I take it you reject this burden, and think we should deny people concealed carry permits simply because you think so.

See, e.g., your claim that "the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns" -- a claim that remains, in terms of its assumptions, devoid of any evidentiary support whatsoever.

Heck, you won't even admit you were wrong about the relative safety of SUVs and compact cars.
1.22.2008 6:28pm
Waldensian (mail):

for example, does the small number of accidental shootings and deaths outweigh the increased liberty of being able to own and carry a gun? that is entirely a value judgment that people will make differently.

True. Of course, those people who think that the small number of accidental shootings and deaths can and should be avoided by banning firearm ownership will be required to amend the Constitution.
1.22.2008 6:30pm
Brian K (mail):
There are actually conclusive studies that show that it makes a small but significant improvement in public safety. There are studies that conclude that it doesn't make any difference. There are no serious studies that provide evidence that it makes things less safe.

forgive me if i don't trust your third assertion. i've seen previously how you deal with evidence contrary to your opinions.

but in any case, how does this disprove what i originally said? even if we assume your characterization is accurate, you have evidence that points to a benefit and evidence that points to no benefit. the presence of the latter means that the former is not conclusive by any reasonable definition of "conclusive".

Brian K better hope that the courts never adopt his "just your personal opinion" view about whether homosexuality should be allowed.

isn't this the view that anti-SSMers take? i.e. aggregate public opinion in the form of democracy is able to restrict rights of members of that democracy?
1.22.2008 6:31pm
Brian K (mail):
I see MXE has already responded.

I assume Brian meant that unless the credible literature as a whole strongly indicates a notable benefit or harm, it's a toss-up.

yes, this is what i meant. you can't claim a definite benefit if the literature is equivocal at best. and i like your use of "strongly indicates".
1.22.2008 6:35pm
Brian K (mail):
those people who think that the small number of accidental shootings and deaths can and should be avoided by banning firearm ownership will be required to amend the Constitution.

or they can just enact reasonable measures to limit the accidents short of complete banination. lots of things can be deadly and most of the major ones that i can think of off the top of my head are regulated to some degree to reduce the risk (e.g. cars, alcohol, weapons, street drugs, most pharmaceuticals, explosive precursors, etc.)
1.22.2008 6:40pm
MXE (mail):
forgive me if i don't trust your third assertion. i've seen previously how you deal with evidence contrary to your opinions.

I don't know if I'm any more trustworthy to you, Brian, but it is true that there's not a shred of empirical evidence that CCW poses any threat to public safety or increases crime or accidents in any way. And believe me, people on both sides have looked very carefully at the data. Don't you think the Brady Campaign would be screaming bloody murder (hehe, so to speak...) if they had any decent studies showing some evidence of the supposed dangers of CCW?

depends on what you consider harmful. for example, does the small number of accidental shootings and deaths outweigh the increased liberty of being able to own and carry a gun? that is entirely a value judgment that people will make differently.

But there's no evidence at all that shall-issue CCW laws increase the number of accidental shootings. That's the point. In order for it to be a subjective trade-off between liberty and safety, there needs to be a safety risk involved. Because all evidence from 20 years of shall-issue CCW indicates that there is no safety risk, we're weighing the benefit of liberty against no public safety cost whatsoever.

That's why I used the mustache example. Banning mustaches gains us nothing, at least as far as reasonable people can tell. Allowing them preserves basic human liberty. It's a silly and trivial example, but I hope the analogy is clear enough.
1.22.2008 6:52pm
zippypinhead:

or they can just enact reasonable measures to limit the [firearms] accidents short of complete banination.


Well, you just articulated the main headache for the Supreme Court in Heller. Whether, and to what extent, a particular regulation will pass Constitutional muster -- assuming the Court finds an individual right to keep and bear arms -- wholly depends on the standard of review the Court decides is appropriate for judging restrictions on the exercise of that right. I'm amazed at the number of allegedly-sophisticated commentators who seem to have overlooked this basic point.

I suspect the Court won't entirely clarify the standard of review to the satisfaction of either side in the case currently before it, and certainly is not going to give clear guidance as to which of the hundreds of Federal, state and local firearms laws out there will survive a finding of an individual right to keep and bear arms. Rather, after years of further litigation, we may someday be able to discern some fairly clear lines on how much regulation of Second Amendment rights is appropriate. In the meantime -- it's going to be messy. Sorry, friends -- but that's the way Constitutional doctrines tend to develop.

I just hope some of the pro-Heller amici focus very heavily on this basic Con Law point, and don't get caught up in the sort of emotional atmospherics that many of the anti-Heller briefs seem to have gotten sidetracked with. The "...from my cold, dead hands" mode of analysis isn't going to impress any of the Justices.

Further affiant sayeth not.
1.22.2008 7:09pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> It of course is not impossible to define. I will not argue that the definition under the "assault weapons ban" was hopelessly complicated and vague. But that wasn't what we were discussing.

In that discussion, we were arguing about whether there was a definition that made any sense from the crime-control point of view. Thomas failed to come up with one and blamed others for that.

> I thought that there was some validity in differentiating between the two types of military weapons--machine guns and assault rifles. Sorry for not realizing there is no difference in function, capability, or tactical use of the weapons.

Once again, Thomas turns out to be ignorant of the technical details on which his argument turns.

If the truth of the supposed basis of Thomas' position doesn't actually matter, why does he introduce it?
1.22.2008 7:16pm
Brian K (mail):
I don't know if I'm any more trustworthy to you, Brian,
I assume trustworthiness until shown otherwise. discussion like this don't work well otherwise.

not a shred of empirical evidence that CCW poses any threat to public safety or increases crime or accidents in any way.
I find such a strong statement unbelievable. in one of the earlier gun threads, i cited a story where a gun accidentally fired in an IHOP (denny's?) and injured someone. if the choice is between CCW and non-concealed carry, i can see how there would be no difference between the two. but if the choice is between no or a limited form of carry, then i think there would be a difference in the number of accidents, albeit a very small one.

I largely don't have a problem with CCW laws. that may not be obvious from the positions i take wrt to gun control on this board, but that is only because my counterparts are usually so extreme in their positions. the only reason i don't own a gun personally is that given my time constraints as a student and my current level of debt, it is more cost effective for me to rent a gun than buy one. i do support reasonable regulations of firearms. this is also supported by all reasonable interpretations of the 2nd amendment that i've read.

Because all evidence from 20 years of shall-issue CCW indicates that there is no safety risk, we're weighing the benefit of liberty against no public safety cost whatsoever.
I think this holds for any of the other controversial political subjects. which is why i find the position of some (by no means all) gun-rights advocates so hypocritical.
1.22.2008 7:27pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):

I don't recall getting a background check at the DMV.
Nor do I need a license to keep a car in my driveway.
Odd, I had to pass an eye test, a laws test, and a driving test. Failed the eye test three times, too. (Needed a waiver.) Had to certify my license hadn't been suspended or revoked elsewhere. Back then, I am not sure they checked whether I was truthful on that except for commercial licenses, but they might now. Not only that, but in California a drivers' license and insurance (or bond) are now required to legally possess a car unless you file a certificate that it won't be driven off your driveway onto public roads.

I'm less militantly anti-gun than I used to be, but not because of inaccurate arguments like these.
1.22.2008 8:45pm
MXE (mail):
I find such a strong statement unbelievable. in one of the earlier gun threads, i cited a story where a gun accidentally fired in an IHOP (denny's?) and injured someone. [...] if the choice is between no or a limited form of carry, then i think there would be a difference in the number of accidents, albeit a very small one.

An anecdote isn't evidence of a trend. Suppose I used the same argument as evidence that legalization of pancake restaurants slightly increases the number of accidental shooting deaths. What would you do to prove me wrong? Well, show that on average, legalizing pancake restaurants has no impact on the number of annual shooting deaths. And that is exactly what study has shown in the case of CCW.

If there is a difference in the number of accidents, as you proposed, it is so small that it cannot be measured statistically. And I think it's clear that preventing a problem that might exist, but even if it does exist, is too small to measure reliably, is a weak justification for a limitation on a constitutionally protected right.

I largely don't have a problem with CCW laws. [...] the only reason i don't own a gun personally is that given my time constraints as a student and my current level of debt, it is more cost effective for me to rent a gun than buy one.

Sounds good!

I think this holds for any of the other controversial political subjects. which is why i find the position of some (by no means all) gun-rights advocates so hypocritical.

I don't want to get off-topic, but if you mean things like gay rights and drug prohibition, I completely agree.
1.22.2008 9:01pm
Brian K (mail):
An anecdote isn't evidence of a trend.

I only took exception to the very strong wording of the sentence, in particular with "increases crime or accidents in any way" part. the example shows how legally carrying a weapon increased the number accidents by 1. reasonable people can differ as to how to balance the trade off. it is rare for a modern gun to accidentally discharge and rarer still for that bullet to hit someone. the equation for a grenade or a an old powder rifle might be different.

If there is a difference in the number of accidents, as you proposed, it is so small that it cannot be measured statistically.
exactly. this phrasing i would not have objected to. esp. if you add "with the sample sizes of most current studies"

that preventing a problem that might exist, but even if it does exist, is too small to measure reliably, is a weak justification for a limitation on a constitutionally protected right.
i agree (sort of). i only wish that people who step into the voter ID issue understood this. and i say "sort of" because it all depends on how you define the constitutionally protected right.

but if you mean things like gay rights and drug prohibition, I completely agree.
that's what i meant.
1.22.2008 9:27pm
therut:
Eye test of 10 seconds every 4 years. Written and driving test ONE TIME at age 14. Give them 24.00 every 4 years. Yep, hard to drive. I suppose my hunter Ed coarse was alot harder than that. Although it was payed for with taxpayer money. Good for life.
1.22.2008 9:30pm
DG:
{Long after Vietnam. The M16A2 (capable of firing 3 round bursts) was first bought by the Army in 86.

Wow, that late? Learn something new every day.}

The entire story of the M16 is really interest, whether you are a "gun guy" or not, particular the situation around selecting the original ammunition for the weapon and its early propensity to jam in combat. A fascinating view into the military industrial complex and the military procurement process and staff - and not a pleasant one.
1.22.2008 9:51pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


but in any case, how does this disprove what i originally said? even if we assume your characterization is accurate, you have evidence that points to a benefit and evidence that points to no benefit. the presence of the latter means that the former is not conclusive by any reasonable definition of "conclusive".
If there were studies that showed that it made things better, and studies that showed that it made things worse, you would have a good argument. But that's not the case that you are describing. You are saying that if some studies say it helps, and others say it doesn't make a difference, the government should prohibit it. And that makes sense because of what?



Brian K better hope that the courts never adopt his "just your personal opinion" view about whether homosexuality should be allowed.

isn't this the view that anti-SSMers take? i.e. aggregate public opinion in the form of democracy is able to restrict rights of members of that democracy?
Your claim is that homosexuals have a right to marry--a right that is nowhere explicitly addressed in the Constitution--unlike the Second Amendment, and the guarantees of a right to keep and bear arms in 46 of the state constitutions.
1.22.2008 11:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K writes:


forgive me if i don't trust your third assertion. i've seen previously how you deal with evidence contrary to your opinions.
Find me a serious study that finds that shall issue permit laws increase violent crime rates--I mean, without stunts like cherry-picking the years for Dade County while using the same set of years for other counties. Even the anti-gun criminologists haven't been able to cherry-pick their data adequately to prove this claim.
1.22.2008 11:24pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K writes:

depends on what you consider harmful. for example, does the small number of accidental shootings and deaths outweigh the increased liberty of being able to own and carry a gun? that is entirely a value judgment that people will make differently.
Why do you assume that making guns illegal will make them disappear? Remember that there more than 200,000,000 guns in the U.S.--and I would expect that if you got your way, and made guns illegal, with door to door searches for violators (and that's about what it would take), drug smugglers would satisfy the entire criminal demand by hiding guns inside cocaine shipments. Customs would never find them.

The people you are going to disarm with such laws are going to be disproportionately not the criminals, but the law-abiding adults who are not a problem today.

Who commits murder in the U.S.? Typically about 45% of those arrested for murder are convicted felons--who can't legally own a gun. About 1/3 are minors--who in most states can't buy a gun, and in most states, can only possess one with parental consent. About 5% are psychotics who have gone off their medication.

There are some instances where normal people with no history of mental illness or violent crime misuse a gun, but it is a tiny fraction of murders--perhaps 5-10% of all murders.

On the other side, we have hundreds of thousands of defensive gun uses a year in the U.S. Banning guns will disproportionately disarm the victims of violent crime. People that are planning to commit armed robbery and murder, for the most part, tend to regard gun control laws as speed bumps on the way to the more serious crimes.
1.22.2008 11:31pm
Smokey:
You can get a concealed carry permit in almost any state -- if you're special. You know, like Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Chuckie Schumer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. [Link is to today's article written by a vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police.]
1.22.2008 11:40pm
Brian K (mail):
See Clayton, that is exactly why i don't find you trustworthy. your reading comprehension is atrocious...you read what you want to read and not what is actually said. and without cites to reputable sources any numbers or historical interpretations given by you are worthless.

Why do you assume that making guns illegal will make them disappear?
I don't. when did I say otherwise? but this is a poor argument in any case. making murder illegal didn't end murders. does that mean we should make it illegal?

and I would expect that if you got your way, and made guns illegal,
when did I say this? i said several times that i support reasonable regulations.

--------------
contrast:
Your claim is that homosexuals have a right to marry--a right that is nowhere explicitly addressed in the Constitution--unlike the Second Amendment, and the guarantees of a right to keep and bear arms in 46 of the state constitutions.

with:
If there were studies that showed that it made things better, and studies that showed that it made things worse, you would have a good argument. But that's not the case that you are describing. You are saying that if some studies say it helps, and others say it doesn't make a difference, the government should prohibit it. And that makes sense because of what?

somehow i think the fact that these are two inconsistent positions is completely lost on you. if something should be legal in the absence of harm, shouldn't that work for everything?

You are saying that if some studies say it helps, and others say it doesn't make a difference, the government should prohibit it.
this is even close to what i said. my actual point was previously quoted by you so i know you read. let me what part of it you have trouble comprehending and i'll explain.
1.22.2008 11:53pm
Brian K (mail):
correction:
does that mean we should not have made it illegal?
1.22.2008 11:54pm
Brian K (mail):
correction 2:
this is not even close to what i said.
1.22.2008 11:56pm
jesse (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns.


As others have pointed out, you're vastly overestimating the firearms competence of the average police officer and underestimating the amount of practice the average CCWer does.

My local police force (Portland Police Bureau) has been asked not to come back to at least one local shooting range because of pervasive shooting incompetence and unsafe gun-handling skills and a friend of mine who owns another local range has similar complaints about the vast majority of the officers who go there.
1.23.2008 12:43am
K Parker (mail):
JF,
Because the last thing this country needs is a bunch of under-trained non law-enforcement people walking around with loaded guns. People, who by definition, have an irrational fear of crime and victimization, and an over-inflated sense of how they will handle themselves in a crisis, real or imagined.

What a despicable, unfounded attack on us, your fellow-citizens. You know, I suppose, that in fact the country has had a huge surge of people walking around with loaded guns in the last 20 years, because of the rise of shall-issue laws, and it hasn't caused any problem! If we know anything about CCW-licensees, it's that they commit crimes (of all types) at a lower rate than does the general population.
1.23.2008 2:24am
MXE (mail):
the example shows how legally carrying a weapon increased the number accidents by 1. reasonable people can differ as to how to balance the trade off.

Hmmm. I think my point is still getting slightly lost. Maybe it's just a semantic thing, and it's probably worth just dropping it. Still, would you also say that the anecdote shows how legally running a pancake shop increased the number of accidents by one?

"with the sample sizes of most current studies"

Yeah, true. The studies include crime stats (or lack thereof, really) on hundreds of thousands of CCW holders over decades — for what it's worth. It's a solid sample.

somehow i think the fact that these are two inconsistent positions is completely lost on you. if something should be legal in the absence of harm, shouldn't that work for everything?

I agree that something should be legal in the absence of harm, and I share your views on gay rights. But Clayton's view isn't completely inconsistent because he's drawing a distinction based on constitutionality, not utilitarian judgments.
1.23.2008 3:07am
Brian K (mail):
Still, would you also say that the anecdote shows how legally running a pancake shop increased the number of accidents by one?
no, because it was the carrying of a gun that caused the accident that the pancake shop. if, however, the chef burned himself flipping the gun owners pancake then i would say that running a pancake shop increased the number of accidents by one. i would even further say that society as a whole has made the value judgment that hot pancakes are worth the small risk of accidents. society is moving towards making the opposite assessment with the risks posed by cigarettes.

Yeah, true. The studies include crime stats (or lack thereof, really) on hundreds of thousands of CCW holders over decades — for what it's worth. It's a solid sample.
most of the ones i've seen and the ones i've been pointed to on this site have involved taking a representative sample of the population rather than looking at the entire population. this is especially true of studies of historical rates. the few times i've been pointed to studies involving entire populations (e.g. one of texas that i don't remember the author of), the analysis was highly suspect and had some easily identifiable flaws indicative of ideological bias. i think this is mainly because the authors are trying to prove a benefit to CCW and rather than canvas every CCW holder, they pick a sample and from that determine how many times they used the weapon to prevent crime. this doesn't show up in police reports because one is (almost) never made. but upon rereading my initial comment, i realize i should have phrased it more narrowly or mentioned that i was referring to studies more generally.

But Clayton's view isn't completely inconsistent because he's drawing a distinction based on constitutionality, not utilitarian judgments.
not exactly. the second amendment doesn't preclude reasonable regulations concerning firearms and i don't think there is a constitutional right to unregulated CCW (at least i haven't seen any persuasive arguments stated it should be one). marriage is not mentioned anywhere in the constitution. the fact that there is no constitutional right* to homosexual marriage is not an argument against it because there is no constitutional right to heterosexual marriage. but i'll stop lest we get too off topic.

*i disagree with this because i think some of the amendments require that the government treat all types of marriage equally, but that is a debate for another day.
1.23.2008 3:56am
Brian K (mail):
i've got to start using preview

no, because it was the carrying of a gun that caused the accident not the pancake shop.

(for clarity) most of the ones i've seen and have been pointed to on this site
1.23.2008 4:00am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Smokey, Diane Feinstein hasn't had a gun permit or owned a gun since the late 70's.

http://tinyurl.com/2zqarx

The only confirmation of Schumer's possession of a gun permit is Kouri's (two-year-old) article.
1.23.2008 7:48am
Happyshooter:
Long after Vietnam. The M16A2 (capable of firing 3 round bursts) was first bought by the Army in 86.

The Marine Corps adopted it as standard in 1985, the Army in 1988. The Corps designed the changes to the rifle.
1.23.2008 9:10am
Happyshooter:
The entire story of the M16 is really interest, whether you are a "gun guy" or not, particular the situation around selecting the original ammunition for the weapon and its early propensity to jam in combat.

I just reread Misfire: The History of How America's Small Arms Have Failed Our Military, by Hallahan.

It goes through all the failures during our history and shows why we have totally changed the way the .mil designs and purchases weapons.
1.23.2008 9:16am
markm (mail):
in one of the earlier gun threads, i cited a story where a gun accidentally fired in an IHOP (denny's?) and injured someone.

I've heard many, many more anecdotes of negligent discharges in public places by police than by civilians - and that's just from ordinary news sources, without looking at David Codrea's "only ones" collection of incidents of police irresponsibility with guns.

So, would it make us safer to take the guns away from most police, as the British do? I think not. From the news reports I've seen from the UK, their police are becoming overcautious about confronting violent criminals to the detriment of public safety, while if their "specially trained" police gun squads get called out on mistaken information, they're all too likely to shoot an innocent.

The number of deaths and injuries from firearms accidents is tiny. The number of crimes prevented by armed civilians cannot be counted, as most such incidents involve just scaring the criminal off without a shot being fired and are never reported, but it's clearly at least in the 100,000's annually.
1.23.2008 11:18am
Tony Tutins (mail):

in California a drivers' license and insurance (or bond) are now required to legally possess a car

Really? So if I die, my car escheats to the state instead of going to my non-driving wife?
1.23.2008 12:41pm
MXE (mail):
no, because it was the carrying of a gun that caused the accident that the pancake shop.

Well, I don't know about that. If the guy hadn't gone out that day to get his pancake fix, he wouldn't have stepped outside with his gun, and so he wouldn't have been walking around with a gun in the first place. You are begging the question about what sole and single part of the scene "caused" this accident.

This is a minor point, but the logician in me is tenacious.
1.23.2008 12:55pm
Brian K (mail):
MXE,

I see your point. I'm making the assumption that if you remove the gun or change it into something else (e.g. a knife, a hello kitty doll) then no one would have been injured. But if you removed the pancake shop or change it into something else (e.g. a steak house, movie theater) the gun still would have fired and possibly hurt someone. Using this basis i'm saying the gun caused the accident. Of course, if the wafting aroma of cooking pancakes was what triggered the gun to fire this assumption doesn't hold. The amateur physicist in me can't see why the pancake house had an influence on what is essentially a random accident.
1.23.2008 2:45pm
Armed Ed (mail):
Brian K,

A random accident requires multiple failures. Perhaps the syrup jug got stuck and the armed gentlemen struggled with it and it slipped, causing him to hit something on the gun that caused the firing pin to impact the primer. In a steak house or a movie theater, the same accident might happen, and it might not. The scenario is extremely specific to circumstances, so in this case, MXE's point about the pancake house is quite logical.

As for the gun being a knife, as a CCW permit holder who regularly carries, I have injured myself many more times (twice) with a knife at a restaurant than with my gun (zero), and I expect that trend to remain constant forever. People manage to cause accidents and hurt themselves with almost any object imaginable. That doesn't mean we should restrict ownership or use of such items. Take the lunatic with the chainsaw in MO this week. Should we have chainsaw control?
1.24.2008 1:05am
Brian K (mail):
In a steak house or a movie theater, the same accident might happen, and it might not. The scenario is extremely specific to circumstances

I don't understand this. if the scenario is "extremely specific to circumstances" then how can it occur elsewhere when the circumstances aren't the same? but as you pointed out, the gun might accidentally fire at any of the 3 places therefore the presence of all 3 isn't strictly necessary. maybe instead of struggling with the syrup jar he is having trouble cutting his well-done steak or opening his box of candy in the dark. however, the presence of the gun is necessary.

I have injured myself many more times (twice) with a knife at a restaurant than with my gun (zero), and I expect that trend to remain constant forever. People manage to cause accidents and hurt themselves with almost any object imaginable. That doesn't mean we should restrict ownership or use of such items.

I think you misunderstood me here (or i wasn't clear enough), i brought up the story to point out that the gun accidentally fired and hurt another person. i couldn't care less if someone accidentally stabs themselves or accidentally castrates themselves mimicking a movie by stuffing a loaded gun down their pants. it only becomes a problem when other people are hurt. at what level this rises to a serious problem and what corrective steps should be taken is a value judgment that different people will make differently.

Since it appears i'm consistently misinterpreted i'll repeat what i said upthread: "I largely don't have a problem with CCW laws."
1.24.2008 3:02am
Ian Argent (www):
How is a gun accidentally firing (presumably due to a gross mechanical defect) or negligently firing (due to gross incompetency on the part of the gun carrier) any more deserving of regulation by probition than the much greater chances of a being struck and killed by a drunk driver or by a vehicle with defective brakes?
1.25.2008 11:35pm