Gun Control

weed's picture

Let's get some good ole discussion going! Let's discuss gun control. I know Matt & Ben have strong, differing views on this, so we should be able to get some good discourse going....

My views are that I agree that in a perfect world. they're be no reason for guns, guns are primarily used to kill people, and we should get rid of guns. If you want to hunt, use a bow and arrow or muzzle-loader and give the prey a chance.

However, we don't live in a perfect world. We live in an amazing country where w'eve achieved an amazing level of safety and prosperity (on average, there are third-world conditions in many places in the US, but they don't vote, so they don't matter, right?). So people tend to forget about the bad people out there, both in our neighborhoods and in Washington DC. But the difference between our great society here in the US and regression into a Mad Max situation is slimmer than most realize. And when civilization breaks down, guns become necessary for protection, simply because they've been let out of Pandora's box. The other guys *will* have them, so we need them too. You can't unlearn technology, and the making of guns is easy now (you can do it by 3D printer!).

Or government is trending towards taking more and more power and worrying less and less about us little people, so I *do* believe we should own guns to hedge against a power grab one day. And anyone who thinks an armed populace can't withstand the US military isn't paying attention to Afghanistan.

As long as they can't prevent criminals from owning gins (which they can't) and as long as we have cronies in the government (we do), we need gins to protect ourselves from those who would use them against us. Matt has provided stats that show that places where guns are encouraged, crime falls, and where guns are banned, crime rises. Living in a fantasy world doesn't make you safer.


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Sammy G's picture


The FBI reports that in 2011, there were 653 justifiable homicides in the nation. Of those, private citizens justifiably killed 260 people during a crime, and law enforcement officers justifiably killed 393 felons, according to the FBI.


Divide 260 by the US population of 313M.

That is a small percentage.

And I can't find out how many of those 260 were by firearm.

So, when we're talking about the framework of gun control debate, it seems the whole premise questioning whether it is rational that humans in single-shooter panic moments are worthy of carrying through on their brandishing a concealed firearm for the very reason they claim it necessary to have that personal firearm doesn't make sense as a primary starting position for discussion.

Because it's a picayune rate of incidence.

The debate starts with His Rhymeness Lord Weed's position - once a government controls both weaponry and military then its citizens are in trouble. BIG trouble. Personal firearm possession in this country is not about self-defense from fellow citizens. It is about protection from government.

And why is Rhymeness not in the universal spell-check dictionary?

matthew's picture

Justifiable homicide vs. defensive gun usage


Be careful about the stats you cite, though. There's a difference between the likelihood of justifiable homicide -- an incredibly small probability -- and the likelihood of defensive gun usage.

In order to experience a defensive gun usage, you most likely A) need to be an adult, and B) need to own a gun. I don't want to go into sources, but about 43% of adult Americans own at least one gun. This is a STAGGERING percentage compared to every other country in the world; nobody else even comes close! There are about 314,000,000 people in the USA, and about 24% of those are under 18, so therefore not legally allowed to own a gun. Leaving about 239 million adults, 103 million or so who are gun owners. There are about 2,400,000 defensive gun uses per year.*

Given those statistics, there's about a 1% chance that if you own a gun you'll use it defensively this year. Your chance of committing homicide by so doing is vanishingly small, but nevertheless there's a 1% chance you'll need it.

Philosophically, I carry a handgun because I want to preserve my options in an emergency when I'd otherwise have few or none, and I think a right I don't exercise is a right that I've lost. To me, the latter is the more important reason: to ensure I preserve the right for myself, my children, and those others who come after me. The USA is unique in the world for our rate of civilian gun ownership (though not unique in the tradition) and comparisons to other countries in that area inevitably fall short because they fail to recognize that reality. The nearest first-world country is France, with a rate less than 1/3 ours.

However, speaking statistically, I carry a handgun because there's a 1% chance I'll need it this year. And I firmly believe that I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

* I know there are other studies that put the number of defensive gun uses as low as a few hundred thousand per year. Reduce probabilities by an order of magnitude to compensate.

Matthew P. Barnson