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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Battle Arms - Second Rebuttal - Challenger

In my first rebuttal I purposely attempted to inject some humor and brevity into the discussion for the sake of making my submission more readable as I realize this is part of the scoring system. After reading the racist and intellectually dishonest screed that my opponent submitted as his first rebuttal, I have an extremely bad taste in my mouth and I doubt you will find any humor in this rebuttal. For this I do not apologize as I find this more a matter of principle and the judges can penalize accordingly.

-Racism

First off, I would like to address the racist aspects of IBL’s post. 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. This does not deter him and he points out that there is a society of people who are less violent and who experience far less crime then we do. This would seem a contradiction to his contention that people are intrinsically violent. His only choice at this point is to point out that they are unnatural. I suppose he would want us to believe that the Japanese are actually a race of space aliens and we should ignore them in terms of the human experience. What really sticks in my craw is this little bit of racist demagoguery: “a culture whose prize assets are conformity and submission”.

Japanese culture is extremely complex and to attempt to dismiss it with a wave of the hand and a racist claim of “conformity and submission” is both wrong and dishonest. The Japanese prize group solidarity. In America, we might call this teamwork. In a country that is an island with limited resources, it is easy to understand why this is so. In addition, respect and honor play a major role in Japanese society. I can’t view any of these traits as negative and there have been numerous times in my life where I have desired that both others and myself behave with more respect and honor.

With that in mind, let us compare the crime rates of the United States and Japan. Japan reported fewer than 2,300 crimes per 100,000 people in 2002. The United States reported 4,118.8 serious crimes per 100,000 people in 2002. In terms of homicide rates, Japan has 1.10 homicides per 100,000 people in 2000 compared to the United States that reported 5.64 in the same year on the same chart. It should be noted that these are overall homicide rates and not just gun homicide rates.

Finally, what I find extremely repugnant is the fact that my opponent somehow takes satisfaction in the fact that we are successfully exporting our culture of violence and fear to the teenagers of Japan. It’s only a matter of time.

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.

If this wasn’t bad enough, my opponent pulls the race card out yet again:


Homicide Offender Rate/100,000 by Race in US (2000):
3.4 - White

25.8 - Black

3.2 - Other
...if you remove homicides committed by blacks, you get a US
homicide rate of only 2.6/100,000, lower than Germany (3.27) and France
(3.91)

There are number problems with this racist point. The first being, if we “sliced” statistics for other countries like he’s doing for the United States, you could drop the homicide rate for any of the countries he has listed. Just exclude crime in large urban and poor areas of any country and you can create the same effect for that country. This points up to the first of a number of statistical ploys he uses which demonstrate the tremendous amount of intellectual dishonesty he used in his post. Secondly, there is some implied value system where black people aren’t worth as much as a white citizen. Who cares if we have a high homicide rate as long as black people are getting killed? I find this implication truly repugnant. Third, he claims that France has a homicide rate of 3.91 people per 100,000 residents and Germany has a homicide rate of 3.27 in 2000. He cites a blog for the source and when you follow the link that the blog sites as the source, you receive the following error message:


“The International Crime Statistics are only available to authorised police
users.”

Let’s look at his other source for homicide statistics. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice, the homicide rates for France and Germany in 2001 were 1.78 and 1.05 respectively and in 2002 they were 1.88 and 1.11. These numbers are significantly lower than the 3.4 homicides per 100,000 that my opponent cites for “white America”. This is one example of the distortions and errors that can be found in his rebuttal. This leads us to a rebuttal on some of his other statistics.

-Intellectual Dishonesty

The statistical points I made in my first two posts were aimed at presenting the reality of guns and crime in the United States. You didn’t have to “slice” the data to get at the conclusions. What I see in my opponent’s rebuttal is the constant bombardment of deception to spin statistics to point to his conclusion. I would describe this as intellectual dishonesty and I can’t really say what his motivations are. With that said, let me tackle some of his other deceptions he uses above and beyond the “white America” statistic.


Here, admittedly at the extreme, the world might look like Russia which has an
ostensible handgun ban but possesses a murder rate 5x the US's
.
Unfortunately, what IBL fails to point out is that after the fall of the Soviet Union, anarchy exists throughout Russia and there is a general state of lawlessness. Russia may have gun laws but there is no one there to enforce them.

Cultural differences aside, let us use a culture that is most similar to our own as a source of comparison. That would be England. If you use the opponent’s own source, we find that homicide rates are significantly lower in England at 2.01 per 100,000 compared to 3.4 for white America.

My opponent claims the following:
Canada has a relatively high gun ownership rate (21M Guns / 30M people)
but a
much lower crime rate.

According to the Justice Department Canada, the US has three times the number of guns per capita. Furthermore, if one looks at the make up of those guns, one finds that the number of handguns in Canada and Israel paled in comparison to the United States. If you go to page 5 of this document, one can see that in 1988, Canada and Israel had very few handguns compared to the United States. The U.S. tallied over 56 million handguns while Canada had 595,000 and Israel had 171,448.

Rather than comparing countries, we can look exclusively at our own crime data. 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.

Wholesale Value of Firearms Manufactured in the United States as Estimated From
Federal Excise Tax (in millions) [16]
Year Handguns Other Guns
1955 9 ............... n/a
1965 28 ............ n/a
1975 125 .......... n/a
1985 251 .......... 444
1987 253 .......... 383
1989 382 .......... 444
1991 422 .......... 456
1993 538 .......... 547

9 million dollars worth of handguns were sold in 1955 as compared to 538 million in 1993. As the handgun industry grew, the crime rate rose.

Counting defensive gun uses (DGU) is hard - how do we tally "crimes that didn't
occur?" Nevertheless, estimates range from the almost laughably high
2.5M DGU's a year down to a more believable 100,000 DGU's a year.

Clearly, even the low estimate dwarfs the
11,000 firearm homicides cited
by the challenger.

Once again, my opponent’s distortions are obvious. He somehow assumes that each defensive use of a gun somehow prevented a homicide. This is clearly not the case.

An armed society is not an anarchy

I’ll provide a definition of anarchy here. This brazen bank robbery in North Hollywood should alarm anyone. These criminals wounded ten police officers and three civilians. The shooting went on for over 2 hours and the police could only subdue these criminals by raiding local gun shops for weaponry and ammunition. I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?

- The Gun Industry Out of Control

I find my opponents comparisons of the gun industry to the swimming pool industry as somewhat disingenuous. Much like the comparisons to the automobile, it doesn’t really hold any weight. The sole function of a handgun is to harm another person. Furthermore, if you start shooting a handgun, it is probably a good idea to shoot to kill. This would be true for both law-abiding citizens as well as criminals. Thus, the handgun when properly used has the sole purpose of killing people. Pools and automobiles have different purposes and I hope we can all agree on that.

Swimming pools can be dangerous. Needless to say, there is a push for barrier laws and it would be my hope that the swimming pool industry is not supporting an anti-barrier campaign. Surely barriers increase the cost of swimming pools but I would find it extremely unethical if the swimming pool industry mounted a campaign against this effort based on potential lost profits. Unfortunately, much like the auto industry opposed air bags, the gun industry has made a concerted effort to thwart legislation like the “Brady Bill” and any other efforts to make handguns safer. Whether it is “smart gun” technology, “gun fingerprint” technology or the banning of armor piercing bullets, the gun industry has opposed it. Laws that require the licensing and registration of handguns have been opposed even though they take handguns out of criminal’s hands as evidenced by this study. It’s a game of subterfuge and lies all maintained to protect profits.

Computerized toys have become commonplace yet the gun industry somehow finds it impossible to integrate a computer chip into a handgun so that only the owner can fire it. Amazing isn’t it? They oppose “gun fingerprinting” based on the fact that so many guns are stolen, it would be of little use. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if a gun can only be fired by the owner, stolen handguns have little value. At that point, gun fingerprinting becomes a valuable tool in the prosecution of crime.

If the gun industry continues to dump cheap handguns on society, I don’t see how we have any other choice but to ban them. They clearly have no concern for the safety of citizens so we are left with no alternative.

- Self-defense

People have the right to defend themselves and I will not argue that point. There are a number of mechanisms through which this can be achieved. They range from cans of mace and pepper spray to newer technologies like stun guns, air tasers and super sock guns. Of course, the handgun industry would prefer that these devices be banned and not developed in favor of their lethal forms of self-defense.

I believe that through the use of technology and the elimination of handguns, we can take the handgun out of the criminal’s hand and make this country safer. I feel that licensing and registration was an excellent start and we need to continue the effort to remove handguns from our society. I find the gun industry’s continued efforts to profit on the death of 11,000 people each year to be both unethical and immoral.

Sincerely,
Ralph Stefan


|


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