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Guns in Parks: The Hoplophobes' Travel Guide to the United States:

Into today's issue of The New Ledger, I analyze some of the reader comments from last week's reader comments to a collection of pro/con essays in the on-line New York Times, regarding guns in National Parks.

Fugle:
A very enjoyable and amusing article.

My favorite bit-


Among the New York Times commenters, there were plenty of gun haters, the large majority of whom exhibited no sign of mental illness. Yet several of them wrote that they often visit national parks, enjoyed the visits, but now, because of the new federal law, they would not set foot in a National Park.


This actually makes me want to visit national parks more frequently (the position of commenters, if not the law.)

I should note that the Milwaukee Area is somewhat safe for Holophobes as law enforcement in the southeast part of the state has declined to follow the AG's opinion (and will continue to stop for open carry.)
5.29.2009 12:30pm
Oren:
Does NYS pretty much prohibit CCW anyway? That is, the National Parks in NYS now follow NYS-law, so they shouldn't be any more afraid there as they are in their home neighborhoods.
5.29.2009 12:51pm
Mikee (mail):
Oren, your logic is wasted. The feelings of the gun haters are the only things that seem important to their arguments, and legalities, facts, data, historical precedents and reasoned discourse only seem to confuse them and make them angry.

Which is why they have their illogical anti-rights beliefs about guns in the first place, most likely.
5.29.2009 12:55pm
Guest101:
"Surprisingly, some of the commenters showed signs of mental illness."

Don't read many online comments, do you?
5.29.2009 12:56pm
Virginian:
Very entertaining article. Thanks!
5.29.2009 12:57pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):
Ronald Reagan is a hoplophobe.
5.29.2009 12:58pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):
Interestingly, the article mentions Sarah Palin, but not Ronald Reagan, who actually instituted the now-repealed policy.
5.29.2009 1:00pm
Sean O Se:
This is great!

It's very funny, without trying to take itself too seriously, but it has just enough of an underlying point that it isn't frivolous.

A great inspiration, to take madhat commenters (whose positions are perhaps not *that* far off from the average Manhattanite, which is what I am) and see what the amusing extrapolation from that is.

Thanks a lot!
5.29.2009 1:03pm
green-grizzly (mail):
The Reagan administration made the current regulations, but it is my understanding that they were just a restatement of regulations that had existed since 1936. The gun ban in the parks was a product of FDR.

Reagan has enough anti-gun blemishes on is record without having to make any up.
5.29.2009 1:39pm
M N Ralph:
An entertaining article, even for one like myself who supports reasonable gun laws.
5.29.2009 2:00pm
Closet Libertarian (www):
Now where am I going to conceal my 50 bmg when I go hiking?
5.29.2009 2:00pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Oren, in New York State, carry permits are issued by local authorities. Their practice varies from shall-issue in many rural counties, to issue-to-only-the-wealthy-and-connected in New York City. Permits issued by NYC are valid throughout the state, but non-NYC permits are not valid in NYC.

So any New York State resident who has a carry permit may carry into a National Park in the state.
5.29.2009 2:03pm
Kevin P. (mail):
The article is hilarious and I am going to link to it in every stupid thread where hoplophobes are freaking out about the new law.
5.29.2009 2:04pm
john w. (mail):
The only problem with the essay is that the sarcasm is probably going to go totally over the heads of the people who need it the most.

Seriously though, I think that we rural 'gun nuts' [sic] ought to be starting a deadly serious educational campaign to alert the city slickers to the fact that the main purpose of carrying in National Parks would be for protection against two-legged predators, rather than wildlife.

My greatest fear is that, right after the new law goes into effect, some idiot with a .22 snubnose is going to try to 'defend' himself against a Grizzly -- with predictable results -- and this will become a huge black mark against the entire self-defense movement.

It needs to be repeated over &over that most experienced outdoorsmen agree that pepper spray is a better deterrent against large mammals than any realistic concealable hangun.

Maybe Dirty Harry or John Wayne could take out a charging Grizzly with one shot from a .457 magnum that he just happened to have perfectly concealed in his shorts; but you &I can't!
5.29.2009 2:05pm
A. Non E. Mouse (mail):
As a gyno-American who camps backcountry solo, this is a good thing, whether I carry or not it makes me safer through the principle of uncertainty. So far, happiness is a warm axe. But I know of some really awful attacks against women in the national parks. Including among employees who live and work there. There's some pretty shady characters towards the end of the season at YNP after the college kids get bored and leave. I know through experience that this is a good idea.
5.29.2009 2:11pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

The Reagan administration made the current regulations, but it is my understanding that they were just a restatement of regulations that had existed since 1936. The gun ban in the parks was a product of FDR.

That doesn't answer these questions
1) Why didn't Reagan attempt to undo the regulations?
2) Why didn't G. H. W. Bush attempt to undo the regulations?
3) Why did G. W. Bush wait until the last months of his two term presidency to undo the regulations?
4) Ignoring the 6 years of control using the Clinton years, why didn't the Republican Congress pass the same legislation during the first six years of G. W. Bush's presidency?
5.29.2009 2:17pm
Fact Checker:
Yet, for all your pontificating about people who are supposedly afraid of those who carry guns, it is people like you and Clayton, who are apparently afraid to enter a national park, a "gun free" zone, or a large city, who are the ones who let the fear of being unarmed rule your lives.

Really, if personal safety is your great concern, then a good first aid kit, or a few yards of small gauge copper wire to fashion a makeshift lightning rod, are much more important to carry in a National Park than a handgun.
5.29.2009 2:19pm
Fact Checker:
But I know of some really awful attacks against women in the national parks.

Can you supply some statistics or at least some links to actual documentation, rather than just a vague "I know of some". Because of course we know that unsourced, vague, anonymous statements on a blog are extremely reliable.
5.29.2009 2:23pm
Apep (mail):
I eat pepper spray on my breakfast. The anti-bear weapon of choice is another bear, with a frickin' laser beam on its head. Naturally, it is implanted with a brain control device and a collar like in Running Man.

But I will be dead before anyone takes away my right to arm bears to defend myself.
5.29.2009 2:24pm
Hannibal Lector:
Fact Checker:

Go to GOOGLE. Type +"national park" +rape +murder. Scroll through the first several pages and you can filter out a half-dozen or so recent incidents of atrocious murders in the US national park system. This provides some documentation. However, I doubt the NPS has made it easy to generate complete statistics.
5.29.2009 2:32pm
Frank J. (mail) (www):
Fact Checker:

Luck for us then there are getting to be fewer and fewer places we are forced to be unarmed.
5.29.2009 2:52pm
Fact Checker:
"Go to GOOGLE. Type +"national park" +rape +murder."

Well I took your advice, and unless this rule extends to National Parks in Africa (and I know the hatred of international law on this site is only exceeded by the hatred of gun laws) or your concern about crime in National Parks runs to the fiction of Nevada Barr (a personal friend of mine btw), then it seems like the National Parks are pretty safe places.

Granted, law enforcement in the National Parks, especially those in border areas, is woefully underfunded. But allowing even more guns into the parks is not going to solve the problem.
5.29.2009 2:53pm
Fact Checker:
Luck for us then there are getting to be fewer and fewer places we are forced to be unarmed.

Yeah, but you are kind of stuck in the good 'ol USA, aren't you.
5.29.2009 2:59pm
Frank J. (mail) (www):
Fact Checker:

Just to be clear, are you for the freedom of an American to arm himself in a national park (which you admit to having too few police), or are you against it and why?
5.29.2009 3:06pm
pintler:

main purpose of carrying in National Parks would be for protection against two-legged predators, rather than wildlife.


Doesn't that depend on whether you're on a month long trip to Gates of the Arctic NP, or someplace more accessible?


It needs to be repeated over &over that most experienced outdoorsmen agree that pepper spray is a better deterrent against large mammals than any realistic concealable hangun.


The manufacturer of the bear spray we carry advises trying a short burst at the start of the hiking season, to make sure you still have pressure. When you test yours that way, what were the wind conditions? When I test mine, even below timberline in apparently calm conditions, it produces a cloud of spray that moves at wind speed - rarely less than walking speed. That's good if the bear is down wind, but not so good if the bear is upwind. N.b. you are most likely to surprise a bear when they are upwind. I certainly concur that spray has advantages relative to a gun - it's cheap, little skill is required, you can deploy it at a low threat level, etc. But do think about the wind. I spend a lot of the summer above timberline, and the wind frequently makes spray useless there.


Maybe Dirty Harry or John Wayne could take out a charging Grizzly with one shot from a .457 magnum that he just happened to have perfectly concealed in his shorts; but you &I can't!


I'm not familiar with the .457 magnum, but aside from that, I shoot competitively, and spend a few hours a week at the range practicing. I suspect a charging bear is indeed a difficult problem in marksmanship, but that doesn't mean people should be prevented from trying.

I have had both armed and unarmed encounters with grizzlys. I wish I could magically transport you to one of those encounters, and see whether you thought being armed was a good or bad thing. If you were lucky enough to see a grizz, and found yourself armed, would you unload?

Seeing a grizzly is a wonderful, thrilling thing - but in the moment, being armed hasn't seemed like all that bad an idea. YMMV.
5.29.2009 3:12pm
Fact Checker:
Just to be clear, are you for the freedom of an American to arm himself in a national park (which you admit to having too few police), or are you against it and why?

Generally, I am against the idea of ordinary Americans carrying firearms, concealed or unconcealed, under any circumstances other than legitimate sporting purposes (and so there is no mistake, I have absolutely no problem with hunting). Concealed carry for self defense is absolutely abhorrent to me. It has no place in a civilized society.

Now pintler sounds like he spends a lot of time in very wild places where there is a significant chance of encounter with dangerous bears. But then again, there are certain wilderness areas where the bears rights to their habitat trump his right to carry a rifle to defend himself against bear attacks. For the rest of us, look at the statistics on bear attacks and killings, the vast majority of people who are clamoring for this "right" will never even see a bear in the wild, let alone be threatened by one.
5.29.2009 3:36pm
john w. (mail):
Pintler:

I don't have any serious disagreement with what you are saying. I agree that pepper spray is most definitely NOT a magic wand! But I was also just pointing out than any handgun in a size that a person is likely to be carrying concealed is not a magic wand either.

When I go elk hunting in Montana, just outside the boundaries of Yellowstone NP, I darn well carry pepper spray even though I am also carrying a .30/06 rifle which has a heck of a lot more stopping power than almost any concealable handgun would have.
5.29.2009 3:42pm
More Importantly . . .:

Yet, for all your pontificating about people who are supposedly afraid of those who carry guns, it is people like you and Clayton, who are apparently afraid to enter a national park, a "gun free" zone, or a large city, who are the ones who let the fear of being unarmed rule your lives.


Dear "Fact Checker",

Please note that we don't attempt to mandate that everyone who wishes to enter a National Park get a permit and carry a gun. Contrast this with your preferred approach, which involves imposing your preferences on others.
5.29.2009 3:49pm
More Importantly . . .:

But allowing even more guns into the parks is not going to solve the problem.

Concealed carry for self defense is absolutely abhorrent to me. It has no place in a civilized society.



Care to justify the assertion of the first sentence, and explain your reasoning (if any) with respect to the second two?
5.29.2009 3:52pm
pintler:

Concealed carry for self defense is absolutely abhorrent to me. It has no place in a civilized society.


Do you mean self defense has no place in a civilized society, or concealed carry for the purpose of self defense has no place?

If the latter, is it just guns that are bad to use for self defense, or am I also harming society when I investigate my neighbor's alarm at 0200 while carrying a maglite? Do you object to the study of martial arts?

If it is just guns that are bad, why is my 85 year old neighbor widow's gun bad? She just wants the same odds against a mugger that young male black belt has. Why doesn't effective self defense by the disabled or elderly have a place in civilized society?
5.29.2009 3:55pm
Fact Checker:
Please note that we don't attempt to mandate that everyone who wishes to enter a National Park get a permit and carry a gun. Contrast this with your preferred approach, which involves imposing your preferences on others.

Oh really? You make every effort to strike down any gun restriction--even those desired by local residents--that rears its ugly head. The tone of the entire linked article was Kopel, a resident of Colorado, ridiculing the residents of New York, which btw, has a crime rate that Denver would kill for (pun intended).
5.29.2009 4:03pm
Virginian:

An entertaining article, even for one like myself who supports reasonable gun laws.


I also support reasonable gun laws (i.e., laws that allow law-abiding citizens to carry any gun, concealed or openly, anywhere they want at any time).

That is what you meant too, isn't it? Or were you just being a jerk who is certain that their position is the right and only position?
5.29.2009 4:03pm
john w. (mail):
" ...Concealed carry for self defense is absolutely abhorrent to me...."

What about open carry? Is it just concealed carry that you find abhorrent, or is it self-defense in general?

If you find self-defense to be morally abhorrent, then by all means feel free to not defend yourself. But please don't try to impose your suicidal moral code on me -- or especially on my wife and children!
5.29.2009 4:09pm
pintler:

But I was also just pointing out than any handgun in a size that a person is likely to be carrying concealed is not a magic wand either.


Certainly not a magic wand, but e.g. a S&W 329 (airweight 44), with the right ammunition, e.g. Garrett, has a reasonable chance of being effective. IIUC, the recent bill doesn't require concealment, but you can conceal a 4 inch barrel 44 in e.g. a 'Safepacker' brand holster (according to the usual definition, where e.g. fanny packs are considered to be concealed).

FWIW, I hike with my wife, she carries spray, I carry the gun, so we have the best of both worlds. More important than either of course, is to bear bag, keep a clean camp, don't take the dog, walk like a coyote, etc. Then your bear sightings will likely be at a reasonable distance. IMHE, bear sightings are much more enjoyable at say 100+ yards than 50 feet :-)
5.29.2009 4:11pm
Fact Checker:
Why doesn't effective self defense by the disabled or elderly have a place in civilized society?

Because, like driving an SUV because they are "safe", carrying a gun is simply not effective self defense. If it was, crime rates would be lower in places that had high gun ownership or concealed carry rates. Despite John Lott's best efforts to manipulate the statistics, there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that high gun ownership rates or concealed carry laws decreases crime. In fact, New York is consistently one of the safest large cities in the country. Chicago, Dallas, and Houston have very similar crime rates (although property crime rates are significantly lower in Chicago) Hawaii and Honolulu, with the strictest statewide gun control laws, are also the safest. The states with the worst overall crime rates tend to be those with the laxest gun control laws.
5.29.2009 4:15pm
Karan Singh (mail):

who are apparently afraid to enter a national park, a "gun free" zone, or a large city, who are the ones who let the fear of being unarmed rule your lives.


I go to plenty of national parks, incl. Shenandoah, Liberty Bell/Phila., Denali, and a few more I can't remember.

I go to plenty of "gun free zones" (including my entire home state of MD).

I go to plenty of "large cities" (incl. DC every day).

And I support this new law.

So how exactly does "fear rule my life"?
5.29.2009 4:20pm
john w. (mail):
IMHE, bear sightings are much more enjoyable at say 100+ yards than 50 feet :-)

Can't argue with that! I've seen grizzlies up close and personal (but from inside my car) inside Yellowstone. Surprisingly enough, I've seen more grizzlies in Yellowstone than black bears.

So far, I have never seen a Griz while hunting, but it's certainly not out of the question. If memory serves me correctly, there have been two grizzly attacks in the last few years around Cooke City, MT (where I hunt)and about a half a dozen in the vicinity of Gardiner.
5.29.2009 4:22pm
Fact Checker:
So how exactly does "fear rule my life"?

First of all, I specifically mentioned Kopel and Clayton. You are neither. When you assume that others are talking about you, that is a sign of paranoia. Now I am sounding like Kopel, who wants to analyze all of NYC.

Why do you support this new law?
5.29.2009 4:25pm
Anon1111:

The states with the worst overall crime rates tend to be those with the laxest gun control laws.


Care to provide any evidence of that?
5.29.2009 4:29pm
Karan Singh (mail):
I also noticed that people like to use crime "rates" when describing "safety" in high-density, high population areas like, well, NYC. When 2.5 million people live in the 71 square miles of a place like Brooklyn, well, "crime rates" don't really mean squat.

Would you feel safe knowing that there will be two or three murders within a mile of your house this year? Does "herd size" really give a person that great a sense of safety?
5.29.2009 4:38pm
Fact Checker:
Care to provide any evidence of that?

Read it and apologize.
5.29.2009 4:41pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

The states with the worst overall crime rates tend to be those with the laxest gun control laws.

I guess Vermont must look like "Escape from New York" by now.
5.29.2009 4:44pm
Fact Checker:
Would you feel safe knowing that there will be two or three murders within a mile of your house this year? Does "herd size" really give a person that great a sense of safety?

Actually, there were probably about ten in the last year (I live in New Orleans). And yes, I do feel relatively safe.
5.29.2009 4:53pm
Fact Checker:
I guess Vermont must look like "Escape from New York" by now.

You obviously don't know the meaning of the word "tend".
5.29.2009 4:57pm
Avatar (mail):
If you think the primary difference in violent crime rates between Houston, Chicago, and Honolulu is related to their gun laws, it's probably not worth having a discussion with you on any other topic either. (You don't think demographics have anything to do with it, huh?)

Additionally, this is a legal blog; bears do not have rights of any kind here. If you shoot a bear, and it wasn't legal to shoot the bear in that instance, you may have committed an infraction against the law, but you have not violated the bear's rights. Regulations regarding bears and the shooting thereof are not predicated on any right of the bear's not to be shot. If you disagree, you may point me to any non-fictional assertion of a bear's legal rights, made by the bear, in any court of law.
5.29.2009 5:05pm
Anon1111:

Care to provide any evidence of that?

Read it and apologize.


Um, that's a table of raw data, not a statistical correlation. Moreover, it's a table that gives data for violent crime, not gun crime. Isolating gun crime from violent crime would be useful when talking about gun control, I would think.

If you'd care to try again, without the silly attacks, I'll look at your evidence.

But if we're talking about concealed carry, all the studies show one of two conclusions, either (1) concealed carry has no impact on crime rates, or (2) concealed carry reduces crime. There are no peer reviewed studies that show concealed carry increases crime.
5.29.2009 5:09pm
Fact Checker:
If you think the primary difference in violent crime rates between Houston, Chicago, and Honolulu is related to their gun laws, it's probably not worth having a discussion with you on any other topic either. (You don't think demographics have anything to do with it, huh?)

I'll throw you a bone on Honolulu. I notice you conveniently excluded New York (are the demographics and the relatively low crime rate there not to your liking). As for Chicago, Houston, and Chicago, please explain how the demographics of the latter two explain a crime rate that is roughly the same as that of Chicago--with its very stringent gun control laws?

This should be fun.
5.29.2009 5:16pm
mcbain (mail):
Chicago crime rate = Houston crime rate
Chicago = guns banned; Houston = guns legal

Pretty compelling case that gun control does not prevent crime.
5.29.2009 5:21pm
pintler:

Because, like driving an SUV because they are "safe", carrying a gun is simply not effective self defense.


I know quite a few police officers through competitive shooting. They disagree quite strongly with your statement. Can you elaborate on why you think they are wrong?


The states with the worst overall crime rates tend to be those with the laxest gun control laws.


The source you linked is violent crimes, not overall crimes, but that said, I scanned the list. The states with the lowest rates seem to be:

ND 128
VT 137
NH 139
SD 171
UT 224
WY 240
ID 247
MT 254

which of those do you feel have stricter than average gun control, or low rates of firearms ownership?

I think a geographical analysis of violent crime will find the strongest correlation to be with urban areas, not state law.


Surprisingly enough, I've seen more grizzlies in Yellowstone than black bears.


My inexpert understanding is that grizzlies to some degree displace black bears, in the same way the coyote population in Yellowstone declined after wolves were reintroduced. IMHE, Olympic NP is the place for black bears - I've seen a dozen plus, and I've only spent a few weeks there. I have heard they are common in the Smokies, too, but haven't been there.
5.29.2009 5:26pm
Fact Checker:
Chicago crime rate = Houston crime rate
Chicago = guns banned; Houston = guns legal

Pretty compelling case that gun control does not prevent crime.


Well, the argument might hold water if not for

New york crime rater <<<< Houston

Honolulu crime rate <<< Houston

Which would be a pretty compelling case that gun control does prevent crime.
5.29.2009 5:27pm
Mikee (mail):
District of Columbia violent crime rate: 1508 per 100,000.
Net highest rate of violent crime: 766 per 100,000 in South Carolina.

I would suggest that the most restrictive gun control regime in the US, that of the District of Columbia, produces twice the violent crime rate as that of the next most violent area in your list.

I would also admit that the numbers are meaningless without a further breakdown into gun crime versus knife, fist, blunt object, etc.

Chicago and Dallas have the same rate of violent crime? I don't see either listed on your linked data set. Are you pulling this number out of thin air? Even if it is so, what does legal self defense have to do with the rate of violent crime, except that violent crime is a good reason (in the thinking of the vast majority of all individuals) to practice self defense with the best tools available.

Fact Checker, you are checkmated.
5.29.2009 5:34pm
Fact Checker:
The source you linked is violent crimes, not overall crimes, but that said, I scanned the list. The states with the lowest rates seem to be:

Nice cherry picking!

Pick the states with the lowest overall violent crime rates (and if we are talking about self defense, isn't that the relevant statistic?) rather than the highest. Did you happen to note which state had the highest rate?

Well let's list the top five for those too lazy to follow the link:

South Carolina
Tennessee
Nevada
Florida
Louisiana

I said that the worst crime rates tended to be in the states with the most lax gun control laws. I was asked for proof. Here it is.
5.29.2009 5:38pm
Fact Checker:
And btw, none of the above states are traditionally considered "urban". Granted, much of the population of NV is centered in Las Vegas. But since Katrina, New Orleans, with its atrocious murder rate, isn't even the biggest city in Louisiana any more.
5.29.2009 5:41pm
Mikee (mail):
Factchecker, you left out DC. Their rate is more than 2x the rate of the worst state you listed, SC.

DC has zero permitted concealed handgun licensees.

Your argument is flawed, both by your own cherry-picking of data and that data's inapplicability to the question at hand.

That question was, if I recall correctly, why any individual who is licensed to conceal a handgun by their state should not be allowed to do so, for purposes of self defense, in a national park.

Your feelings don't matter, really. The data does not support your argument, in fact the difference between DC's violent crime rate and that anywhere else in the US refutes your argument.

My first comment here was that only feelings matter to gun haters. You have provided nothing to change my opinion.
5.29.2009 5:46pm
Fact Checker:
District of Columbia violent crime rate: 1508 per 100,000.
Net highest rate of violent crime: 766 per 100,000 in South Carolina.


Of course you are comparing a city to a state. DC traditionally has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country (although for the past couple years, New Orleans has been #1 by a large margin). The comparison is hardly fair.

You can also look up metro crime statistics. I am too lazy to do it right now.
5.29.2009 5:47pm
pintler:

I said that the worst crime rates tended to be in the states with the most lax gun control laws. I was asked for proof. Here it is.


When both the highest and lowest states have what you term 'lax gun control laws', I think a more accurate characterization would be 'gun control is not correlated with violent crime rates'. I don't think you'll find much disagreement with that.
5.29.2009 5:47pm
Mikee (mail):
FAct checker, you ignore my question. Why limit an individual's right to self defense in a national park, especially when one inch over the boundary line the state government recognizes the individuals so licensed to be legal?

What have you got against individual right to self defense?
5.29.2009 5:49pm
Mikee (mail):
And why would a high violent crime rate not be a reason to allow more, not less, legal means of self defene by individuals?
5.29.2009 5:51pm
Ian Argent (www):
The relevant question is not: "Do regions with lax gun control have more violent crime?", it is "Does Violent Crime increase when gun control is relaxed?" and "Does violent crime increase when gun control is tightened?"

Unless you can prove the answer to the first question is YES and the answer to the second question is NO (neither of which appears to be the case), relaxing gun control seems to be the way to go. We have plenty of data for both those questions - the worst that can be said for relaxing gun control is that it does not decrease violent crime.

See Just One Question at http://blog.joehuffman.org/2004/12/15/JustOneQuestion.aspx
5.29.2009 5:51pm
Mikee (mail):
And why would a high violent crime rate not be a reason to allow more, not less, legal means of self defense by individuals?
5.29.2009 5:51pm
stevenb:
> You obviously don't know the meaning of the word "tend".

All the states with the very lowest crime rates all have permissive gun laws (Maine, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah) the worst crime rate on that list appears to be DC which has quite strict gun laws. Was this the trend you wanted me to notice? Frankly your data seems to run counter to your argument.

OK, snark aside I looked at this ranking by violent crime and compared it to the Brady Campaigns ranking by strictness of gun laws and I didn't perceive any immediately obvious trend one way or the other. The states the Brady campaign touts as having the "best" gun laws all seemed pretty much in the middle of the road. While both the most and least violent states had permissive gun laws.
5.29.2009 5:57pm
mcbain (mail):
AH, but if gun control was an effective crime prevention tool wouldn't the crime rate in Chicago be much lower that that of Houston?

For YOUR argument to hold water the residents of chicago must be a bunch of moral degerates who cannot handle a firearm compared to the residents of Houston who can somehow contain their murderous urges in the presence of readily accessible gun stores.
5.29.2009 5:59pm
Oren:
Ah, not to take sides here (long-time readers know where I stand), but I love an argument when both sides can cite the same fact (dangerous cities) as support for the policy they already preferred (more/less guns).
5.29.2009 6:01pm
Mikee (mail):
Fact Checker's behavior, and his posts, are absolutely typical of what one gets from the anti-gun side whenever a comment thread discusses gun control.

First we get assertions without data.
Then we get data with an assertion that it supports the first assertion, when it does not.
When the false conclusions from the data are pointed out, the data is then misrepresented, or another claim is made without addressing the failure of the first claim.

When all avenues of escape have been removed for the anti-gunner, they get "too tired" to post further.

I have not seen a novel anti-gun argument in over 5 years. And all the old ones have been shown to be lies, damned lies, and bad statistics (which despite refutation by numerous authoritative, unimpeachable sources, continue to be used again and again by anti-gun fanatics).

Facts don't matter to the anti gunners who want to strip others of their inherent right to self defense.

Feelings do matter. So I ask Factchecker once again: why should my inherent human right to self defense, codified in law in 40 states by concealed firearm statutes, be negated once I cross a boundary into a national park?

The onus is on Factchecker to demonstrate that abridgement of my rights is necessary. He has not done so. The data he relies upon for his arguments demonstrates the opposite of his claims.
5.29.2009 6:04pm
Fact Checker:
First we get assertions without data.

That's rich considering I am the only one who has made a single link to data in this whole thread.
5.29.2009 6:13pm
Fact Checker:
why should my inherent human right to self defense, codified in law in 40 states by concealed firearm statutes, be negated once I cross a boundary into a national park?

For the same reasons you are not allowed to carry a firearm (or are required to wear a motorcycle helmet even if the state law doesn't require one) onto a military base. It is Federal property, and the Federal government makes the rules on Federal land.
5.29.2009 6:18pm
stevenb:

South Carolina
Tennessee
Nevada
Florida
Louisiana


Here's another organization's ranking of gun laws by state if anyone's interested. Those five most violent states are in fact either "lowest ranking" or "low ranking" But then again the top five least violent states are also "lowest ranking". They rank Maine the lowest ranking yet it's the least violent state in the union. They rank Louisiana the 2nd lowest and it's the 5th most violent.
5.29.2009 6:19pm
mcbain (mail):

For the same reasons you are not allowed to carry a firearm (or are required to wear a motorcycle helmet even if the state law doesn't require one) onto a military base. It is Federal property, and the Federal government makes the rules on Federal land.


Don't be disingenuous. He was asking for a moral justification not a legal one.
5.29.2009 6:22pm
stevenb:
Fair enough. In the interest of providing some data here's the link to the Brady campaign state rankings I was referring to.
5.29.2009 6:26pm
Kirk:
Fact Checker,

Ah, so you're one of those people who think that putting someone on a government payroll transforms that person from a dangerous crazed blood-lusting yahoo into a calm careful friendly individual that everyone can trust. Well, if that's so, why doesn't the government just hire all of us as part-time law-enforcement officers?
5.29.2009 6:27pm
Fact Checker:
Don't be disingenuous. He was asking for a moral justification not a legal one.

I'm sorry, I thought he wanted facts. He is not making a moral argument, he is making a legal one, claiming that it is a human right. There is no human right to concealed carry. The right to self defense, if you want to discuss it as a human right, is certainly much narrower than the legal right that is enjoyed under the law in this country.
5.29.2009 6:32pm
Fact Checker:
Ah, so you're one of those people who think that putting someone on a government payroll transforms that person from a dangerous crazed blood-lusting yahoo into a calm careful friendly individual that everyone can trust.

When on earth did I say that?
5.29.2009 6:34pm
EconGrad:
It's fun when someone like Fact Checker drops in and challenges everyone a bit isn't it? I know I was entertained reading it all anyway. That said, I think Fact Checker as well as a lot of folks on the pro-gun side of the fence are waaaaaay too tempted to boil an extraordinarily complex socio-economic phenomena like crime down into a simple correlation between crime and the rate at which *some people* own certain inanimate objects in the same *state* as the aggregate statistics.

Is it really that simple? If so, I can probably prove that SUV ownership causes crime (or prevents it), and I'm damn sure I can prove hybrid car ownership causes crime (or prevents it). For that matter, I'm certain that owning a television set makes you 1000% more likely to be the victim of violent crime since nearly every violent crime victim owns one.

I'm willing to concede that gun ownership in a given state doesn't increase or decrease aggregate crime in that state. However, I'd be willing to wager good money that if you were able to do stats on attempted violent crime against someone who was carrying a concealed firearm vs. attempted violent crime against someone who's not, you'd see some stats that meant something, and I bet you'd not want to be in the pool of folks that weren't carrying.

Yeah, yeah, supposition is worthless without stats gathered by some government agency and published on the Internet for consumption by the weak minded incapable of reasoning through something so simple. Sure, owning a fire extinguisher doesn't mean your house will never burn down, but it doesn't mean that owning one is stupid, and it sure doesn't mean we should ban them.

Me, I think I'll stick with having smoke detectors in my house, wearing my seatbelt, wearing protective gear on the motorcycle, carrying a concealed firearm, and other measures whose perceived benefit outweighs their cost.

The thing that I really think is so funny about the hoplophobic fear of lawful concealed carry is that the so-afflicted seem to equate lawful concealed carry with intentions of bad guys who carry to commit crimes -- I really think they see no distinction. I know it's pointless to mention it, but if I have criminal intent, what do I care about whether or not the carrying is legal? Is the fact that it's legal going to deter the criminal from carrying? Why would it? His chance of getting caught is nearly zero while he's not actually in the process of commiting some other crime. Based on what? Based on the fact that I've been carrying for about 20 years now and have never had to show my concealed weapon permit to anybody, ever. I'm sure I carry more than the average bad guy. Maybe I just don't "look like a bad guy" so I don't draw any attention, but not all bad guys looks like bad guys either (especially the smarter ones).

Aaaah, I'm rambling now. That happens when I try to make sense of things that don't make any sense.

I think I'll go *not* shoot someone with my lawfully concealed firearm -- just like I've done every day for the last 20 years.
5.29.2009 6:35pm
mcbain (mail):

The right to self defense, if you want to discuss it as a human right, is certainly much narrower than the legal right that is enjoyed under the law in this country.


Why wouldn't you want to discuss it as a human right?

Further, what does "much narrower" mean?
5.29.2009 6:38pm
EconGrad:

Fact Checker:

Kirk:
Ah, so you're one of those people who think that putting someone on a government payroll transforms that person from a dangerous crazed blood-lusting yahoo into a calm careful friendly individual that everyone can trust.

When on earth did I say that?

Well, I think Kirk was giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that you weren't so irrationally afraid of guns that you didn't think the police or domestically-situated military should have them either. He may have been too generous. You'll have to let us know.
5.29.2009 6:46pm
More Importantly . . .:

It is Federal property, and the Federal government makes the rules on Federal land.


Couldn't agree more! Too bad for you the rule is now in favor of treating National Park land (very different from a military base, btw) the same way as the surrounding state for purposes of CCW. And that rule was passed by the overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled House, Senate, and signed into law by Comrade Obama himself.

Funny ole world, eh?
5.29.2009 7:00pm
pintler:

The thing that I really think is so funny about the hoplophobic fear of lawful concealed carry is that the so-afflicted seem to equate lawful concealed carry with intentions of bad guys who carry to commit crimes -- I really think they see no distinction.


Consider this - your parents never owned firearms. Your parents' friends never owned firearms. All you have ever heard on the evening news is stories of crooks doing bad things with guns. You have never taken the time to plow thru e.g. Kleck. You have never personally known anyone who owned a gun (that you knew about). Everything you have ever heard implies that guns are scary things used by scary people. What's your attitude going to be?

OTOH, if Mom and Dad bought you a BB gun when you were 9 and a 22 rifle when you were 14, and the same was true of all your friends, your view is a lot different.

There is a fascinating recent book called 'The Science of Fear' by Dan Gardner that explores in some detail why we make innumerate decisions about risk, e.g. being nervous flying but not driving, and other unreasoning fears. This cuts both ways - the risk of grizzly attack is very low, after all.
5.29.2009 7:28pm
More Importantly . . .:

he risk of grizzly attack is very low, after all.


The potential harm, however, is as grievous as can be possibly imagined.

WWLHD?
5.29.2009 8:31pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
Here in Idaho, I can carry in pretty much any Federal land, which is the bulk of the entire state.

Around 1970, the area around the Sawtooth Mountains was considered as a National Park, but the local Idahoans complained that it would infringe their historic hunting rights. Hence it became the Sawtooth National Recreational Area, or Sawtooth NRA. Only after Congress created it did they consider the acronym. :)

I carry mostly because of concerns of attacks by animals: cougars, packs of wolves, bears, etc. I will grant that such attacks on humans are rare, but so what? I buckle my seatbelt every time I drive even though the odds of getting into an accident on any particular day are tiny. I keep a fire extinguisher in my kitche even thoug the odds of a kitchen fire on any particular day are tiny. What's wrong with the old Boy Scout motto of "be prepared"?
5.29.2009 10:38pm
EconGrad:
pintler:
EconGrad:
The thing that I really think is so funny about the hoplophobic fear of lawful concealed carry is that the so-afflicted seem to equate lawful concealed carry with intentions of bad guys who carry to commit crimes -- I really think they see no distinction.
Consider this - your parents never owned firearms. Your parents' friends never owned firearms. All you have ever heard on the evening news is stories of crooks doing bad things with guns. You have never taken the time to plow thru e.g. Kleck. You have never personally known anyone who owned a gun (that you knew about). Everything you have ever heard implies that guns are scary things used by scary people. What's your attitude going to be?

OTOH, if Mom and Dad bought you a BB gun when you were 9 and a 22 rifle when you were 14, and the same was true of all your friends, your view is a lot different.


I'm probably in the minority among Libertarian, NRA Endowment member, CWP holding, NRA instructor, FFL/SOT holding folks, but my upbringing pretty much matches your first scenario. Not only did my parents never own firearms, my father was generally anti-gun, I never knew anybody that owned a gun, and am pretty sure I never saw a real firearm until after I had moved out on my own. My best friend from high school also was raised in a non-gun-owning household and is now an avid gun owner, CWP holder, etc.

It may be self-aggrandizing to think so, but I think that any sufficiently intelligent person, willing to give honest, independent, well-reasonsed consideration to all viewpoints in all matters -- in order to form their own conclusions, will determine that *responsible* firearms ownership (appropriate training, etc.) is a utility maximizing decision.

That said, I can certainly see where some people's personal situation might lead to the decision not to own firearms. As long as that decision is reached due to legitimate factors that make the cost (in all its forms) of owning/carrying a firearm greater than the perceived benefit, and as long as that person doesn't seek to impose that decision on others (attempting to deprive them of the choice in the matter), then I have no quarrel with those folks and respect *their* utility maximizing decision.
5.29.2009 11:00pm
zippypinhead:
Uproariously funny article, Dave! Wish it could get wider distribution where it might do some good (reprinting it as a Sunday op-ed in the NYT would be perfect, IMHO).

As a resident of the Old Dominion I'd like to endorse the following passage:
Do not fly to either of the D.C. airports. They are both located in Virginia, and the danger that you could be shot by a gun-crazy Virginian while traveling through Virginia into D.C. is nearly as high as the odds that you will get shot by a gun nut while in a National Park. Stay away from Arlington National Cemetery; it is in Virginia, and the people buried there were gun users.
Yes, Virginia WOULD be a nicer place if the inmates of that dysfunctional "gun free zone" pseudo-jurisdiction just north of the Potomac River would be afraid to cross the 14th Street Bridge!

Interestingly, about the only D.C. residents who have been known to stay away from Virginia out of fear are crooks. Once upon a time I had the privilege of being involved in a part of the law enforcement system that included listening to wiretaps and consensually-monitored conversations. There were a number of times that D.C. drug dealers and gang-bangers were caught on tape discussing how they didn't want to cross the Potomac into Virginia to do their business, basically for two reasons: (1) the certainty that if they got caught, they were going away for a looooong time (this was back in the days when "Project Exile" was getting a lot of publicity), and (2) the certainty that those wild Virginians were all armed to the teeth and would shoot back. Or shoot first. Or shoot at any time and actually hit what they were aiming at (which the gang-bangers seemed generally incapable of doing).

And to this day the crime rates in D.C. versus parts of Arlington/Alexandria Virginia that have somewhat similar demographics and are even on the very same Metro (subway) lines are starkly different. Go figure...
5.30.2009 12:19am
jviss (mail):
Very good article! The part about Massachusetts is wrong. Most towns (of the 350 cities and towns) in Mass. will issue; it's at the discretion of the police chief. Many, many people here have an "LTC," (license to carry), Class A, high capacity, unrestricted.
5.30.2009 10:30am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
EconGrad,

To the list I would also add that a significant portion of the population lives in places that intentionally makes firearms ownership difficult. I can see plenty of people thinking "If the government makes it so hard to own a gun, they must be really dangerous."
5.30.2009 10:35am
John Moore (www):

The relevant question is not: "Do regions with lax gun control have more violent crime?", it is "Does Violent Crime increase when gun control is relaxed?" and "Does violent crime increase when gun control is tightened?"


No, the relevant question is why people are using these statistics in a attempt to suppress the choice of individuals to carry firearms. You can argue statistics all you want, but on thing is generally tree:


It is better to be armed and not need it, than to be unarmed and need a gun.


Guns are simply a form of self defense - a relatively effective one, and good for the especially defenseless, especially the elderly.

The statistical utility arguments are red herrings.
5.31.2009 3:03am
Ian Argent (www):
No argument from me - I was making the pro-freedom case.
5.31.2009 11:34am

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