Saturday, August 21, 2004
Battle Arms - Iron Blogger Libertarian - Second RebuttalWhoa - looks like I lit a firestorm. If I offended, I certainly didn't mean to. If I presented an incorrect stat, I did so out of honest intentions. If I led this nation into war based on faulty intel...errr that's someone else.
Crime, Culture & Race
Now, I recognize that issues of Culture and even moreso Race are "3rd Rail" issues ("touch 'em and die!"). There's a mighty tendency to take any statement on these issues and extrapolate them in the most negative light possible. Given the tortured & continuing history of these topics in our nation, you've gotta exhibit some care on these topics before hitting "Publish".
A (the?) core of the challenger's case is the impact of guns on crime. He draws a straight line from guns whereas I take a rather large detour into the criminal & the culture he swims in. It's one thing to refute correlations (later), but it's more prescriptive to also introduce culture as an alt theory. In fact, I often believe that for many, it's a very deep seated reluctance to criticize culture (aside from the majority / dominant one, of course) that makes, or more accurately, requires demonizing guns instead.
For example, on Japan, the Challenger argues -One can argue that Japanese culture is at the core of their lower crime rates. I agree and I would also like to point out that their gun control laws are a reflection of that culture.Everything we're discussing is multivariate. The real question is what is the dominant, causal factor in low Japanese crime - it's Culture. Gun bans, as the challenger seems to accept, are at best a second order contributor towards the crime rate. But you can't make that causal connection between the 2 without first going through culture.
Similarly, when the US's non-gun murder rate is still higher than many other country's overall murder rate - there's clearly culture rather than guns at work.
Blacks & Guns
The point of the (controversial, terse) Black homicide & gun ownership numbers was precisely captured when the challenger said they indicated a particular type of -large urban and poor areasThe high gun / low crime in N. Dakota vs. low gun / high crime in black communities is precisely because of cultural differences between Fargo and South Central LA. I have every confidence that individuals in S.C. LA can experience Fargo-like crime rates if some aspect of that culture carried over (and perhaps Fargo would become more interesting if it imbibed other parts of SC LA culture).
The larger point is echoed in the challenger's opening statement -Homicide is the number one cause of death for young black males age 15 to 24.Contrary to saying "black people aren’t worth as much" - the source I cited & argument I'm making is that that Blacks need to do *more* to defend themselves - the government sure isn't doing it! -Blacks are also heavily represented in California and in those Northeast and Midwest states which, like California, deny citizens their right to bear arms. Thus criminals in black neighborhoods can usually be confident of not meeting armed resistance from the law-abiding citizenry. This safe working environment emboldens criminals to commit more crimes.The lethal combo of black victimization & offense rates frankly requires the detente of guns more than many white communities. In fact, many argue that gun control started with the goal of unilaterally disarming blacks. Alas with devastating effects within the Black community - T. Shakur, Esq -
But that is only half the problem.In the absence of self-defense, the moderating influence on crime must come from the police. Unfortunately, the way police crack down on crime – by cracking down on all kinds of minor infractions, looking for excuses to search people, being suspicious of everyone who looks suspicious – is a great irritant to the law-abiding citizens.And they say It's the white man I should fear But, it's my own kind Doin' all the killin' hereThe Statistics Game
Lesson for the next time around, when playing with statistics & gun control, it's impossible to get only partially pregnant.
For example, The challenger discusses US crime trends w.r.t. guns -If handguns reduce crime, there should be a reduction in crime as we armed ourselves throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. Instead, as handguns threaded there way into society, we can see rising crime. We see that as crime went from under 2,000 incidents in 1960 to 6,000 in 1993, handgun manufacturing turned into big business.Leaving aside that the challenger is measuring tax receipts rather than total guns in circulation (perhaps tax rates went up?), his statistics STOP in the early 90s. What happened afterwards? Let's look at this some stats-
More guns, less crime? Not necessarily, but there are many cases where gun ownership does NOT correlate to high violent crime. Something the CDC would agree with -A report published by the Centers for Disease Control on Thursday found no conclusive evidence that gun control laws help to prevent violent crime, suicides and accidental injuries in the United States.A smattering of comparisons across Nations, Stations, and Cities (My apologies - this was originally a nice, readable table but I'm having trouble getting blogspot to accept HTLM tables) -
- CRIME: Low
- GUNS: High
- CRIME: High (equal to Australia)
- GUNS: Medium (lower than US, higher than Europe)
- CRIME: Low
How about a few states?
- GUNS: High
- CRIME: Low (113/100K violent crime)
- GUNS: Medium
- CRIME: High (621/100K violent crime)
- GUNS: High
- CRIME: High (545/100K violent crime)
An exercise for the reader - It wasn't too hard to find states that had all combos of high/low gun ownership and high/low crime rate EXCEPT low crime rate AND low guns. Suggestions?
Done with states? How about cities?
Washington, DC (560K pop)
San Francisco (700K Population)
Austin, TX (600K Population)
- GUNS: Low
- CRIME: V. High (856/100K violent crime)
- GUNS: High
- CRIME: High (500/100K violent crime)
What's crazy is that while Washington DC has a near handgun ban and the nation's worst crime rate, the surrounding communities (Reston, Arlington, etc.) have among the most lax gun laws in the country and very low crime rates.
Back to the Basics
Back to Self Defense ;-). The challenger asks -My opponent keeps going back to the intrinsically violent nature of man. I pointed out to him in my first rebuttal that the issue is moot in my opinion because even if he could prove that we are intrinsically violent (he can‘t), it would make little sense to arm our citizens to the teeth with weapons that can cause death at the twitch of a finger.I might not have signposted the argument well enough - lemme try to summarize the past couple thousand words of screed - Achance meeting b/t an individual and a potential aggressor can unfold thusly -
Our Interaction Options
- nonviolently - Great when this happens but we can't expect it 100% of the time given human violence stats from everyone from Hobbes to Steven Pinker. (earlier referred to this as the "false choice")
- sometimes violently, both unarmed, then the stronger person or the one who can handle more pain wins. Pity the weak, women, and the elderly in such a world ("the PCP felon" "a world like the UK")
- sometimes violently, only he is armed, then he wins ("outlaw guns, then only outlaws have guns"; "a world like Russia"; Washington DC)
- sometimes violently, he may be armed BUT he's afraid I may be too, he's often deterred from both major and minor crime ("is it worth getting shot over a car?" ; the diff b/t "homicide rate" and "violent crime rate"; "domestic detente")
- sometimes violently, we're both armed, he engages, I've got perhaps a 50/50 chance (the "bad rather than worse" situation)
Maybe I should've structured my opening statement this way? Next time. In any case, folks like the challenger who seek a gun ban think we're choosing between #1 and [#3, #5]. Thus the reason I spent so much time arguing #1 & human nature. Even if you believe that #2 is a desirable situation (I don't; "UK vs US violent crime stats"), you've got to chart a path to get there that avoids a long, deadly stay-over in #3 (given our >230M existing guns, global trade, etc.).
#4 is the realistic ideal cuz it's the Nash Equilibrium & because it avoids confrontation altogether - and yet this is the hardest case to quantify (the various DGU stats) - and hence why judging this topic purely based on dueling stats so flawed.
Less Than Lethal Weapons
I have no trouble with Tazers, sockguns, etc. But until they have all the portability (sock gun vs. pistol?), storage (can a tazer stay in a glove compartment for 5 yrs?), utility (if I miss on first shot with a tazer, do I have 8 more rounds in the clip?), etc. they simply aren't wholesale replacements for guns...
Perhaps the tech will catch up and address these issues, but until then, if he's got a gun, I don't want to be limited to a tazer.
Sovereign Individuals & Swimming Pools
The Challenger -I find my opponents comparisons of the gun industry to the swimming pool industry as somewhat disingenuous.. The sole function of a handgun is to harm another person.Just to be clear - I wasn't comparing swimming pools as a whole to guns. I used swimming pools to illustrate the otherwise abstract concept of Individual Sovereignty. Specifically - why don't we engage in society-wide, utilitarian cost/benefit assessment of pools? The benefits are thoroughly ethereal (fun &; frolic in the sun?) while the costs are dramatic and clear (1000 dead kids!). The reason we don't ban them is because, as a free republic, we use sovereignty rather than social utilitarianism for most decisions. We allow adults to make up their own minds regardless of whether "we" think we know what's better for them.
The Challenger's real issue is, instead "the sole function of a handgun is to harm another person". But if human nature is violent, and I can't rely on anyone else, why shouldn't I exercise sovereignty to move out of the pits of Option #2 / #3?