Newtown Shooting, and the Nature of Risk

As promised, I’m back for a bit of December blogging. In general my life is still quite busy, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. But I will still try to blog from time to time. Tell Ginkgo to kick me if I don’t blog at least once a month.

Anyway… so, the Newtown shooting. What I’m about to write may come across as quite cold, so I feel it is important for me to preface it by first saying that my sympathies and condolences go out to the victims and the families and friends of the victims of the shooting. And in particular, my heart goes out to the children traumatized by the shooting. That’s got to be quite a load to deal with.

Now, there’s been a lot of debate around this tragedy, focusing largely on gun control. I find the debate on both sides excruciating. And here’s why: no one seems to be talking about this in terms of cost/benefit trade-offs. Oh shit, you may be thinking, he’s not about to suggest that children’s lives have a price, is he? That they’re expendable? What a horrible monster you are, Xakudo!

Well, let’s change the subject to motor vehicles for a moment. In 2009 there were a little over 30,000 deaths due to vehicular accidents in the USA[1]. So how many human lives are worth our freedom of personal transportation? How many lives are we willing to sacrifice for the convenience of hopping into a car and driving where we want?

It’s a macabre question to pose to someone. And it’s also misleading. The US human population is over 300 million[2], which means that 30,000 deaths works out to roughly 0.01% of the population, or 1 in 10,000 people a year. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not a large risk.

Can it be reduced further? Almost certainly. But every reduction will have a corresponding cost associated with it. And as the risk approaches zero, the costs grow more quickly thanks to the law of diminishing returns. And even with extremely small risks, say 0.00001% percent/year, you can still expect to see 30 people a year dying from car accidents in the USA. And that 30-deaths-a-year would actually represent some pretty extreme safety.

Incidentally, there have been fewer than 50 violence-related deaths per year in US schools for many years now[3]. Granted, the population of school-aged kids is smaller than the general US population, so that probably works out to somewhere in the ballpark of 0.00006%. But that’s still an impressive level of safety. Schools are actually extremely safe, at least with respect to violent death.

So this brings me to the first thing that’s really wrong with the gun control debate right now: it’s not actually about school safety. The number of gun related deaths in the USA is about the same as the number of auto related deaths: 30,000 / year[4]. School shootings make up a minuscule part of that.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the Newtown shooting shouldn’t have sparked debate about gun control. It’s totally fine that it has. It’s quite topical. But if we were having a rational debate, people should have quickly moved on from the topic of school safety due to its statistical irrelevance. We don’t need more armed guards to keep schools safe, nor do we need stricter gun control laws to keep schools safe, because they’re already safe.

The second thing that’s really wrong with the debate is that people aren’t being realistic about risk in general. There is no such thing as absolute safety, nor is there such thing as absolute security. Life is risky. The question isn’t how to eliminate risk, the question is what costs do we consider acceptable for which risk reductions. There will always be trade-offs we have to make in the name of safety and security. Debates around safety and security should acknowledge that reality and use it as a jumping-off point. People often don’t like to think this is how things work, but it is.

Personally, I think stricter gun control laws would be a darned good idea. Let’s try to cut into that 30,000/year number with some strict but “reasonable” gun control laws. I think the current balance could afford to take on some more costs for some more safety.

Alternatively, looking at e.g. national security efforts against terrorism, I think the balance is swung too far in the other direction, and I think we’re incurring too many costs (especially privacy and other civil rights) for relatively small security gains.

This kind of analysis is also very applicable to gender issues. Rape is a hot-button topic, for example, and I half-expect to hear someone yell “Even one raped woman is too many!” at some point. But even aside from being very gynocentric, that’s also just not a realistic way to approach it. A culture which could stop all rape would need to have a very oppressive structure itself in order to do so, and that incurs all kinds of costs. So we need to take a serious look at the cost/benefit trade-offs.

Stopping 100% of genital mutilation also incurs costs, and we need to stay alert about what trade-offs we’re making.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

So please, world, can we stop with the moral posturing and start talking about risk reduction in realistic, rational, evidence-based terms? Even rational people can disagree on the balance, but at least if we frame these debates properly we might be able to get somewhere.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1105.pdf
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
[3] http://www.cjcj.org/post/juvenile/justice/schools/still/safest/places/kids
[4] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm

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  • Wilson

    Many people see zero value in self-defense, privacy, and men’s rights. These things matter less to them than large sodas, so it makes perfect sense for the government to put a stop to them.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    I usually try to avoid these school-shooting discussions, but I don’t feel like I can avoid the school-shooting discussions after Newtown, what with the demonization of the autistic community, people claiming we have no feelings or no feelings for others, people claiming we are inherently untrustworthy and/or inherently violent, and calls for ‘cures,’ further discrimination, institutionalization, and imprisonment.

    So here goes.

    For one thing, safety is relative. We expect more safety at home than crossing a street, and more safety when crossing a street than when climbing a mountain. We ought to expect ore safety for children than for adults. But as a society, I think we tend to tolerate too much violence against children, especially from abusive parents and abusive school systems. Certain religious groups actually encourage violence against children.

    For another thing, I think it’s wrongheaded to talk about school safety only in terms of shootings, and not to talk about school safety in terms of beatings and suicides. And when people propose to solve the shooting problem by stoking hate and encouraging bullying, they are adding to the suicide problem.

  • titfortat

    So please, world, can we stop with the moral posturing and start talking about risk reduction in realistic, rational, evidence-based terms?(Xakudo)

    You might like this read.

    http://www.amazon.ca/Risk-The-Science-Politics-Fear/dp/0771032994/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

  • YetAnotherCommenter

    Xakudo,

    I’m against stricter gun control but I absolutely agree with you that we need to approach this topic from a rational, statistical angle rather than one based on hysterical emotionalism.

    Tragedies spark debates based on hysterical emotionalism which usually precipitate overreaction (see how 9/11 gave the US the so-called PATRIOT Act).

    Far too many gun-control advocates fetishize guns. They see them as “killing sticks” and think that if someone holds a gun they will instantly be psychologically re-wired to re-enact scenes from various Hollywood action films. Whilst the anti-gun-control lobby sometimes sinks into an hysterical mode of fetishizing guns as “liberty sticks,” at the very least there is SOME reasonable rationale for this (being “an armed populace can more easily resist a tyrannical State”). In spite of my sympathy for gun rights, too many people are far too willing to inject emotionalism into the discussion.

    We’d ALL do better for just taking a breath, calming down, and discussing the issue AFTER we’ve recovered from this massacre.

  • EquilibriumShift

    I myself do want more gun “control” in the sense that we have a bit longer/more involved gun buying process. Something that would be frustratingly bureaucratic and annoying to go through. So in that sense, I am sort of in the opposite camp of YAC, but I certainly agree that gun control supporters and gun freedom supporters fetishize guns far too much, and in opposite directions. They are tools, like any other.

  • dungone

    I’ll take the gun control debate any day over the “what’s wrong with privileged white males” debate. As far as scapegoats go, at least guns aren’t people. Hell, I’m even in favor of gun control, as someone who is intimately familiar with and very comfortable around firearms. Assault rifles and high capacity magazines should be outlawed, period. Not to keep them out of the hands of lunatics and criminals, but to keep them out of the hands of naive idiots among us. I’ve seen enough Army soldiers taking loaded weapons into chow halls in Iraq, letting the weapon fall over as they were eating lunch, and injuring their buddy as the weapon discharged. I have an extremely low opinion of the average gun owner in our country – I am sorry, but the dumber and more risk-prone you are, the more likely you’re going to get it in your head to buy a weapon you are ill-prepared to handle. It’s no different than the way corvette owners tend to drive their cars into trees at high rates of speed. Having a legally owned gun fall into the hands of a mentally ill and very disturbed young man is something that really requires a high degree of idiocy. Yes – it’s cold and harsh of me to say – but it’s the damn truth.

  • dungone

    FYI it’s an equivocation to compare auto deaths to gun deaths, in terms of relative risk. Autos help us get to work and to grandma’s house – they are a risk that has some benefit to it. Guns, while killing just as many people as cars, are owned by far fewer people and are not used for the benefit of society the way automobiles are. They have a disproportionately worse cost to benefits ratio than automobiles do.

  • Druk

    I would argue, dungone, that guns’ benefits are just less obvious than the benefits of autos, because guns are really a form of insurance instead of a tool that is used regularly.

  • dungone

    @Druk, I would argue that many kinds of insurance are unhelpful in practical terms and only used to rip off the gullible and paranoid. Alien Abduction Insurance comes to mind, as do most of the little “extra” insurance policies sold along with electronics.

  • Druk

    While I don’t agree that that’s analogous to a well-armed civilian population, I agree with your point. Yay I can get the $50 component of my device repaired for free!…not counting the $75 shipping charge.

  • EquilibriumShift

    Druk,

    How much of a deterrent is a semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round clip when the government can shoot you from an unmanned drone 15,000 feet in the air if they want?

    I hear that argument all the time, that it is a deterrent, but I just don’t believe it unless civilians have access to the same arsenal that the government does. (FWIW, at the time of the writing of the constitution, civilians had access to most of what the military did, with exception of cannons).

    I like what dungone is saying. Your right to bear arms ends where your stupidity (read: danger to others) begins. I know a lot of people I wouldn’t trust to set up cheap-ass Ikea furniture who have multiple guns. I also live in Texas.

  • Druk

    Less of a deterrent than a nuke, but more of a deterrent than a 6-shot handgun. Not to mention that you’re winning the guerrilla resource war if they’re using a drone to take out a single semi-auto. And that’s without considering the PR problems that we are already seeing with unmanned drone use.

    But I never said “the government”, anyway. A well-armed civilian militia is good insurance against enemy invasions, violent anarchy (see that place just south of Texas), and insurrection, too.

  • titfortat

    Come on guys, were not talking about deterrent or even necessity. The truth is that these guns are for entertainment and if anyone attempts to take away an Americans right to entertainment, well, they should expect to be shot.

  • Clarence

    There’s over 300 million handguns, rifles, and shotguns of various types floating around out there both legally and illegally. If the vast majority of gun owners were as stupid as some here fear we could easily have an elementary school shooting every hour, instead of once a decade on average.

  • Ginkgo

    Tit,
    “Come on guys, were not talking about deterrent or even necessity. The truth is that these guns are for entertainment”

    Here’s a little perspective on this. A little less genarlizing would help. The guns Lanza used were in fact basically a form of entertainment, but that is not true of a huge percentage of the guns we are talking about acorss the nation. People live in areas where there is no effective police protection. A certain percentage live wh ere grocery fciltiies are minimal and distant, so they hunt. As I recall, you live in Toronto. So you can’t really generalize from your own urban expreince. And also, on the subject of generalizing and Toronto, you can’t really generalize a Canadian comfort with and trust of government and the larger community over and against the rights of the individual. Yes, ahndguns are no defense against a federal force. but it’s rare that that level of force is brought to bear.

    And here’s the final angle on this perspective business – the Patriot Act and all the Busg era restrictions on individual freedoms came in on te back of a wave of emotion alot like this one. High emotion is not the best counsel.

  • dungone

    People live in areas where there is no effective police protection. A certain percentage live where grocery facilities are minimal and distant, so they hunt.

    I could almost accept that if not for the fact that it’s these very people who are against the principle of self rule for everyone else.

  • dungone

    If the vast majority of gun owners were as stupid as some here fear we could easily have an elementary school shooting every hour, instead of once a decade on average.

    Let’s do a little back of the envelope math, if that’s going to be our game. There are, very roughly, 50k deliberate and 25k accidental gunshot injuries in the US in a given year. I’d say that adds up to about one idiot every 10 minutes, more or less. For a loose comparison, if you were to hold all auto deaths to be the fault of idiocy, here’s what it would look like. About 90% of US households have at least one car whereas less than 50% of US households have a gun, so let’s say roughly there’s probably twice as many drivers as there are gun enthusiasts. Yet the gun enthusiasts cause twice as many acts of idiocy. That’s over 4 times the rate of idiotic acts per capita. Since nearly every household has access to a car, we can call this our control group – the average person. The gun owner, therefore, is roughly 4 times dumber than the average person.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner

    http://www.examiner.com/article/worried-about-gun-control-make-your-own-gun

    ….banning guns would be about as successful as banning porn….

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-34222_162-57559809-10391739/fast-and-furious-gun-found-at-mexican-crime-scene/

    and wasn’t there that story about a jarhead getting arrested in Mexico ’cause of he brought a firearm over the border?

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner

    I also remember having a huge fascination with guns…

    I wasn’t allowed to have toy guns, made me love ’em even more….

    one of the best times of my childhood was when I got to fire a 12 guage, bruised my shoulder, made my ears ring but it was awesome….

    I remember firing a 22 and thinking “is this thing a toy?” Kind of dangerous sentiment. I also went through the knives phase. Loved playing around with my butterfly knife.

    yeah, man I’m the most unmilitary guy you’ll ever meet but that’s the only thing I’d love about that lifestyle is target practice, cleaning guns, combat training, getting to blow things up. The more developed part of my brain knows that being part of bu$h/O’bummer’s death machine and killing a bunch of innocent little kids for oil is WRONG.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUv02VxAcNU MaMu1977

    Gun control is useless for two reasons.

    1. Any person with access to scrap metal and an inquisitive mind can *make* a gun. I attended school with a young man who fancied himself a weaponsmith. During *shop class*, he made bladed gauntlets/gloves, zip guns (from your “basic” dart-in-a-tube to an actual two-shot revolver), a wide assortment of knives and, on one occasion, a functional crossbow. He was all of 14 years old when we met, and his working knowledge of weapons was “fings ay sore on da telly what looked cool”. The original guns (rifles, revolvers, gatling and better) were made and repaired by hand by people who (for the most part) were *bloody stupid*. Modern people can use Google to figure out what goes where and how things fit together; to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if your average gun aficionado knows at least one martial savant.

    2. The most lethal attacks on american soil have all involved *bombs*, not guns. And bombs, lest we forget, are even easier to create than guns. Manufacturing guns takes a certain level of dedication and attention to detail. Any dullard can attach nails to a ball of M-80s and run away. Or use Google to figure out how to make flour bombs. Or use the Mentos trick to draw people out of hiding…

    3. Both Germany and Norway have recently experienced school massacres. Despite the fact that both countries have gun laws that would make your NRA family member(s) cry in sadness, both people were able to gain access to guns. America, OTOH, has more guns than people (when you count family heirloom weapons.) As long as Mexico is accessible, new guns will always find themselves on the street, even if “Da evil gubmint” shows up and removes all of your precious guns.

    We don’t need gun control, we need gun training in schools. We *need* the most likely people to snap to be identified and accounted for long before he or she decides to go out in a blaze of glory, and schools are a much better resource to use for training than a gun range.

  • Clarence

    Oh, dungone, that was some cute -if stupid-math.
    Now since I’m very familiar with these figures:
    Most gun deaths are from two causes:
    A. A slight majority are suicides. Yes, guns are the ‘weapon of choice’ for suicides.
    B. Most of the rest are one criminal killing another, mostly due to the drug trade. Arguably, ending or modifying our tactics when it comes to the “war on drugs” would eliminate most of these murders.
    Deaths from groups A or B make up about 90 percent of all firearms deaths in this country.
    Thus all the other gun owners (from the crazies that shoot up schools to the hunters) account for 10 percent or thereabouts of the remaining gun murders and accidents.

    Suicides are generally no danger to Dungone, nor are criminals involved in the drug trade as they tend to kill each other with very little “collateral damage”.
    The remaining gun owners have a death rate lower than that of automobile owners.

    I’d say your fears are rather unfounded.

  • Tamen

    Since Norway came up I’ll just lay out the gun control we have in this country:

    First, Norway have not had any school massacre. We’ve had one school-shooting in 2009 where a pupil fired two shots with a shotgun (and was disarmed by a teacher) without anyone getting hurt. I suspect you are thinking of either Finland. Or perhaps of Anders Breivik, but that wasn’t a school shooting, it was an attack on a summer camp for th youth organization of a major political party in Norway.

    Norway currently ranks 9 in the guns per capita rank on Wikipedia with 31.3 guns per 100 residents. USA is #1 with 88.8 guns per capita: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country

    We have a weapon law. One must as a rule be above 18 (one can apply for an exemption) to own a gun and one must be of sound mind, sober (that is if you’re an alcoholic you won’t get a permit, you don’t have to be a tee-totaler) and reliable. Basically you’re OK if you manage to fill out your application and you don’t have any priors or a mental health problem. You also need a plausible cause for having a gun. For protection is not considered a good enough cause. The most common causes are for hunting and for sports. Both requires that you have either a hunting certificate (taken a course and passes a shooting test – which needs to be redone each year you plan to hunt game with a rifle). For sporting reasons you are required to be a registered member of a gun club (skytterlag) which will attest that you’ve undergone the required training. It is the police who issues gun permits and they also keep a register of the guns.
    Ammunition is also controlled by permits. This to prevent stockpiling. If you are a member of a gun club one can buy the ammunition one needs to use at the gun range from the club.

    You can only own as many guns as you can document a need for. If you hunt that typically amount to max 6 guns: One rifle for big game, one rifle for small game, one shotgun, one combi shotgun/rifle for small game, one combi shotgun/rifle for big game and perhaps a .22 for practicing.

    There are restrictions on what type of guns count as a hunting gun: Shotguns can only have two rounds – that means pump action shotguns must have modified magazines that only takes two rounds. Small fire-arms like apistol or a revolver is not considered a hunting gun. Military guns or guns of that nature (assault rifles etc) are not considered hunting guns, even if they are modified versions directed at a civillian market. Full automatic weapons are not hunting guns.

    Before 1990 there was no need to register any shotguns, only rifles and firearms so there exists an unknown number of shotguns purchased before 1990 in Norway. The use of shotguns as a suicide weapon was a major reason for including that in the register and requiring an permit to own one.

    Anders Breivik was a member of a gun club, he underwent training, didn’t have any priors and didn’t behave strange enough for the gun club to report him to the police. Hence he could legally purchase his guns.

    The Home Guard used to be about 85.000 men (of a population of 4.5 millions), now about 45.000 after “re-organizations”. All of these has an assault rifle at home (a Norwegian licensed variant of the Heckler & Koch G3). After several murder/suicides by mentally unstable home guard members it was decided that the bolt should be stored centrally while the rifle itself still is stored in 45.000 homes.

    Soft guns and air-guns do not require a permit, but one has to be above 16 and 18 repsectively to won one.

    Me thinks the NRA-types cry to easily as it’s actually quite easy to get a legal gun in Norway. It’s not so easy to stockpile and it’s not so easy to just buy one on a whim.

    I was about 9-10 years old when I first fired a gun – a .22 rifle with my father and uncle. I also got to fire a 7.63 Mauser (the Home Guard weapon at that time) but that got me a sore shoulder. Getting to shoot at targets were a rare treat and respect for gun protocol and our best behaviour came naturally under those circumstances. Later at about 12-13 I was a member of a gun club shooting .22 rifles at a practice range weekly. I didn’t have the natural talent for competitive shooting so I stopped after a year. We also went skeet shooting a couple of times a year when I was 15-17 or so. Most people I know where I came from have fired a gun several times. Quite a few of them hunts, my brother does and he owns several hunting weapons. From we were about 10 or so my brother and I attended moose hunting – walking the line who scared the moose towards the posts where the shooters were placed.

  • Titfortat

    @Ginkgo

    I live in Ottawa. I have lived in both rural and urban areas. I used to have a hunting license when I was younger and am relatively well acquainted with firearms. The truth is you can generalize. Very rarely do gun owners every actually shoot someone in self defense. Even when your congress woman Giffords was shot there were at least 2 people who had weapons and did not even attempt to draw them. I would imagine they have practiced(entertainment) with them countless times. It is rather difficult in Canada to acquire firearms, unlike the USA, which is quite easy in most states. It is true we have had shootings here but they are less frequent and less severe. I think your country needs stricter gun laws and probably needs a head check on why there is such a fascination with extreme violence. Mind you, in all fairness, there are a few other places in the world that should do the same.

  • titfortat
  • Ginkgo

    “I live in Ottawa.”

    Sorry. I get confused. Everything east of the rockies is Mordor to me. Ask Clarence.

    ” I think your country needs stricter gun laws and probably needs a head check on why there is such a fascination with extreme violence. ”

    I agree with both parts. The first part – since it’s quite possible for a criminally insane alien to buy a gun at a gunshow with no checks whatever in many places, we clearly need some tighter laws on purchases at least. Registration is another area that needs tightening up.

    Second part – I have been thinknintg about this for a while. It’s not just the extreme violence that needs looking at, it’s also the alienation at the root of it. It indicates a lack of, or a lack of trust in the level of democracy in the country. it’s mostly “little people” who are the most adamant about gun onership, and that’s because they feel the most powerless. It’s about powerlessness.

    And they need to get over it it. This particular bout of alienation dates from the 60s, and it extends way beyond the gun issue. It’s basically the same demographic that been trying to secede from the US for all the most immoral reasons. They can’tr actually secede any more, so they try to achieve the same end psychologically.
    dungone,
    “I could almost accept that if not for the fact that it’s these very people who are against the principle of self rule for everyone else.”

    That’s how it always is, isn’t it? Changes nothing.

  • dungone

    Clarence my comment was satirical, meant to spoof a banal attempt to compare total number of guns vs total number of elementary school shootings as evidence that my experiential knowledge is wrong. Incidentally, you made mistakes in your rebuttal comment but I won’t bother. And you’ve missed the point.

    As Tamen overviewed about Norway, that country uses community involvement to monitor gun use and takes measures to prevent the worst possible nutcases from stockpiling ammo and assault weapons. They don’t have the type of gun violence that the US does even though they also have a high rate of gun ownership.

    @Mamu1977, the difference between manufacturing makeshift guns and bombs versus going on a rampage with a precision weapon bought off the shelf is one of immediacy and community involvement. I’d like to see one of those renascence tinkerers with his smooth-bore matchlock musket try to go on a shooting rampage. Dumb as they were, they also fought wars and murdered each other more often than we do. But ultimately they had less access to resources and information, had no guaranteed rights to own weapons, and they did not live in vast urban areas full of strangers where the probability of some nutcase coming across a weapon without anyone’s knowledge was pretty slim.

    I am not optimistic about the type of gun control regulations that we have in the US as being adequate for addressing gun violence and homegrown terrorism going into the future. One of the biggest problems is the lack of self-rule and accountability. Simply put, local communities are not given the right nor the responsibility of keeping guns out of the hands of lunatics. When a city like NYC, DC, or Chicago enact gun control regulations for their municipalities, reactionary gun fanatics from the countryside work hard to roll back those regulations just to try to prove some idiotic point. And don’t even try to ask gun owners to do something that would cost them money, such as joining a gun club or taking annual proficiency tests. It’s the polar opposite of what a reasonable person would mean by a “well regulated militia.”

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    Tamen,

    I just want to point out some issues surrounding mental illness.

    First off, the mentally ill are much more likely to suffer violence than to commit violence. Second, the mentally ill are much less likely to be believed, if they can turn to the police, and many can’t. Although I’m a pacifist, and I wouldn’t arm myself, I won’t help disarm a vulnerable and marginalized minority.

    Second, the idea of mental illness has been abused, to describe minorities and dissidents as mentally ill. Until ’74 the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental illness. It still lists both transsexualism and autism as mental illnesses. And their Soviet counterparts had listed sluggishly progressing schizophrenia, a handy catch-all diagnosis for anyone the authorities didn’t want.

  • dungone

    Unfortunately you cant legislate for stupid. :(

    Sad but true. That’s why you have to pool up several stupids to self-regulate one another for it to make any difference. The only real safeguards come from militias or gun clubs along with local communities when they are given the autonomy to regulate themselves as they see fit. I’d like to see gun regulations where a local militia can revoke a gun license anytime, let’s say when you start take your mentally ill son to a gun range and teach him how to shoot a semiautomatic weapon at silhouette targets.

  • http://paddybrown.co.uk Patrick Brown

    I share Marja’s unease about psychiatric matters to an extent. However, autism can be an illness. I have a cousin who is autistic, and literally can’t cope with the world. Without constant care and a carefully structured routine, he becomes irrational and paranoid and lashes out at people. He’s only not in an institution because his father is so determined to take care of him. And up to maybe ten, fifteen years ago, people like him were the only ones who were diagnosed with autism. Now the definition has expanded almost to the point where anyone who’s not effortlessly suave in any social situation or has a fascination with something unusual is on the autistic spectrum. People who are perfectly happy and fuctional who used to be considered on the normal spectrum of human personality are now diagnosed and categorised and ghettoised, and there’s no room for late developers.

    I have had my own run-ins with the psychiatric branch of the healthcare professions (depression), and I find it disturbing how much diagnosis is done by checklist. I remember reading one of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat novels many years ago, in which the main character joined the army and was shocked to be given a psychiatric evaluation by checklist by someone who wasn’t a doctor, and I found that funny. But that’s what’s happening in the real world now. The number of disorders and syndromes is multiplying daily* and being diagnosed by psychiatric nurses by checking off subjective symptoms on a list in a handbook. That’s not science, it’s bureaucracy!

    *Parts of the manosphere are very concerned to get Parental Alienation Syndrome recognised by the psychiatric profession. Parental alienation is not an illness in children, it’s a behaviour in adults!

  • Clarence

    “The only real safeguards come from militias or gun clubs along with local communities when they are given the autonomy to regulate themselves as they see fit. I’d like to see gun regulations where a local militia can revoke a gun license anytime”

    This is actually a good idea by Dungone, and so long as their was a process and a type of appeal allowed (to prevent political/personal favoritism over gun ownership) I’d be for it.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    Patrick Brown,

    I agree it’s problematic. Autism doesn’t seem to be simply a matter of disability or simply a matter of diversity. It’s certainly correlated with certain disabilities.

    I think it’s sometimes adaptive. A community does better if it includes different neurotypes. A trader or hunter does better if he or she is allistic. A crafter or cook may do better if she or he is autistic, and can really get into making things, and figuring out how to make better things. I suspect there might be some kind of switch, so that if something interferes with one direction of development in childhood, the brain can switch over to the other direction of development. So that children with face recognition issues, regardless of the cause, might become autistic, although adults who develop face recognition issues don’t. Of course, if enough allistic people have lifelong face recognition issues, then I’m wrong.

    Clarence,

    I’m still concerned about a group of good old boys getting to disarm everyone else. How about requiring each gun owner to register another person, who has taken a gun safety course, to check on safety? It could include two friends checking on each other’s safety. A co-registeree, or co-registerees wouldn’t be responsible for any crimes or suicides, since those are beyond their control, but could have partial liability for any accidents, since that’s what they’re supposed to help prevent.

  • dungone

    I’m still concerned about a group of good old boys getting to disarm everyone else.

    Your image of militias are flawed. The National Guard is a militia that is accountable to local governments. A neighborhood crime watch is also a form of militia. The stateless terrorist groups who aren’t accountable to anyone but their paranoid delusions would suddenly find themselves more liable – not less.

    Look, this is the type of local dunce who I think should be held liable for the type of people who end up getting guns in his own neighborhood:

    Russ Hanoman, a friend of Nancy Lanza, said she was the “epitome of responsibility.”
    “They’ve painted her as some irresponsible gun freak, but she wasn’t,” he said. “She was a paragon for gun safety. She taught the boys how to use the guns responsibly.”

    Is it just me, or did that guy just say that teaching mentally ill children how to handle assault rifles with 100-round drum magazines is “responsible?” I think he would seriously think that over two or three more times if his own firearms licenses were on the line for having supported that notion.

  • Schala

    “I suspect there might be some kind of switch, so that if something interferes with one direction of development in childhood, the brain can switch over to the other direction of development. So that children with face recognition issues, regardless of the cause, might become autistic, although adults who develop face recognition issues don’t. Of course, if enough allistic people have lifelong face recognition issues, then I’m wrong.”

    I’m not sure what you even mean there.

    I have face and voice recognition very good. Voice more than face even. I always recognize dubbed voices (Quebec ones for French-dubbed English-original movies), more than my boyfriend does even.

    But I think autism and asperger are lifelong. I know I’m very likely to be affected. And one of my three brothers might be too, but I can’t say for sure. Obsessions with details, changes, staring at the emptyness sometimes, obliviousness to people’s hostility or boredomness, used to have a higher-than-most naiveté (it got beaten out of me at about 10-12 years old, literally), and I think even as cynical as I can be, I’m still more naive than most (or I’d be long dead).

    Obsessions with completeness and with extreme focus (ie I only play one MMO. I can’t divide my attention much between more than one, without either quitting them all, or all but one – even if I have the entire day to do it). I need structure to details people find apparently obvious (how to do certain considered-basic things, just to be sure its done “the way that’s been asked” and not have to redo because I didn’t do it “their way” – and this is a recurring problem – basically, I can interpret things in ways they didn’t fathom I would, or perform tasks in unintuitive ways to most people, common sense is absent*).

    *This does lead to questioning the validity of ALL commonly accepted wisdom however. Thinking outside the box being mandatory, not just an option.

    I have certain problems with foods, roughly 60-70% of foods. I can have such a powerful mental image of something I never even ate that I won’t be able to eat it without gagging and possibly being sick. This applies to mustard, mayonnaise, cold eggs, the vast majority of non-root-based vegetables (including anything that’s in salads and tomatoes when in chunks), the vast majority of fruits, most seafood (anything cold is definitely out)…even though I have no problem drinking juices of all fruits and V8 drinks. The problem isn’t physical or allergic, but it prevents my enjoying more complex (dressed more) foods. Not a problem for me, but it can be for others who would prefer not to eat plain food to accomodate me. And its said to be a symptom of asperger.

    I have no problem with most meat, and prefer all meats to be boneless, because any hard food-substance (anything I can’t chew) will gag me.

    Oh and I don’t eat non-transformed vegetables or fruits. I don’t bite in apples, pears or anything like that. It’s cut before I taste it (apple pies for example). Tomatoes have to be in small enough chunks (crushed, diced, juiced) that I don’t notice the texture.

    I’m a disaster socially. I don’t know how to make friends beyond an initial approach. I don’t want to partake in gifting rituals and have less interest in social conventions than Sheldon of Big Bang Theory (he will relent if told he “has to”, I won’t, I won’t gift for Christmas, and most birthdays – and don’t expect gifts either). I find make up to be a waste of time except when done for the sheer art of it (though its not for me, I can appreciate the artists who like that…not drones who paint their faces everyday “because I have to”). I find artistic clothing to be interesting. But “I’m better than you” contests of clothing to be pointless (ie the social aspect). And what passes for dresses nowadays is little more than draped bedsheets sewn in apparently show-off-the-body ways. Not artistic one bit to me, might as well be nude.

    I’m usually direct and don’t engage in idle chat for no reason. I’ll ask for a service before I say hi, depending on who. If I ask idle banter questions, I’m probably REALLY interested in the answer, not just making conversation. And I’ll overshare and be TMI constantly, unless I’m mute. No taboo here. I’ll talk about sex in a conversation with nuns without thinking anything of it.

  • Tamen

    Marja:

    I am aware of the issues and statistics you wrote about. I did made an error in my comment in my attempt to not ramble on with details. The sentence where I wrote:

    Basically you’re OK if you manage to fill out your application and you don’t have any priors or a mental health problem.

    is a simplification made by me. Mea culpa. One must be fit to own a gun – that is the requirment needed. Fit is not clearly defined. Not all mental illnesses makes one unfit to have a gun. The Police who issues the permits don’t have access to your health records and medical personell only have a duty to report to the police of they think their patient is likely to use their weapon on themselves or others. In other words, if the patient talks about shooting himself or others and the therapist believe thay may act on that then the therapist have a duty to inform the police who can then withdraw their weapons permit. It can later be re-instated by application.

    It is actually cheaper and easier to get a weapons permit than a driving license in Norway. Which isn’t that strange considering that traffic kills many more people than guns in Norway. 500.000 Norwegians own a gun, that’s ca. 20% of the total population. In the US an estimated 34% of the adult population own a gun (http://www.guns.com/2011/11/07/gallup-poll-gun-ownership-soars-in-us/). So gun distribution is not that different.

  • titfortat

    500.000 Norwegians own a gun, that’s ca. 20% of the total population. In the US an estimated 34% of the adult population own a gun So gun distribution is not that different.(Tamen)

    The only difference is this, with those statistics there are over 110 million gun owners who probably have more than one gun in the USA compared to 500,000 of the same in Norway.
    Not tooooooo much of a difference when you look at it that way. 😉

  • EquilibriumShift

    Titfortat, yes, there are many more guns per capita in the US. But considering you can only effectively use 1 at a time, does it really matter?

  • Titfortat

    Really, one at a time, Arnie sured seemed to be able to do better than that. 😉
    More guns, more chances to be lost, stolen or…..well, you know. :(

  • Tamen

    Yes, US has about 60 times as many citizens than Norway. If we look at the number of murders in Norway in a given year: 40 of which 5 to 10 are by firearms. Then US should have about 2.400 murders a year, 300 to 600 by firearms. But US have 16.799 homocides of which 11.493 are by firearms (CDC numbers from 2009: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm).

    In the US there are 110 million gun owners then the number of firearm homicides should be 1.100 – 2.200 if Norway ratio of gun owners per firearm homicide is the baseline.

    Gun control is clearly only one aspect of the issue. The other aspects seem to be even less likely than gun control to be addressed.

  • Ginkgo

    “Your image of militias are flawed. The National Guard is a militia that is accountable to local governments. A neighborhood crime watch is also a form of militia. The stateless terrorist groups who aren’t accountable to anyone but their paranoid delusions would suddenly find themselves more liable – not less.”

    dungone, it’s important to get this kind of specificity on this particular spectrum. At the far end you describe are the Sovereign Citizen types who deny the validity of any government entity other than thier own. they have formed these shadow governments that are turning into a ral problem for law enforcement, both through harrassment by lawfare and also outright violence. (There have been some killing so fo police in the South, a very bad place for these assholes to start that crap.)

    This goes to the alienation ssue I raise earleir. The timing of these flare-ups tells the story. They are flaring up now during the Obama administration, and they flare dup in the nineties during the Clinton administration, when they were known as Freepers. It looks like it’s directed by right-wing elelments, but actually it is only an oportunistic hijacking of an actual grass-roots community of sentiment. By grass roots i do not mean nation-wide, simply that some portion of the population truly holds with these views.

  • dungone

    @Ginkgo, I think those groups would find themselves a little more out in the open if law enforcement required approval from a well-established community group (effectively a militia) to get a gun. What sane community group would risk legal liability – their own gun licenses, let’s say, because we know how precious those are to them – by approving and/or not revoking a gun license to someone who was suicidal, homicidal, or a member of a stateless terrorist group such as the Sovereign Citizens? That would leave the Sovereign Citizens to form their own militias if they wanted to buy guns. Which would completely blow the right wing extremist”lone wolf” strategy clear out of the water and create a legal avenue to charge their leaders with homicide and terrorism.

  • Ginkgo

    “@Ginkgo, I think those groups would find themselves a little more out in the open if law enforcement required approval from a well-established community group (effectively a militia) to get a gun.”

    If i understand you right, you mean that there would be a legla requirement to belong to a recognized group. That goes back to the “well-regulated militia’ hoo-hah that SCOTUS ruled against recently. Well, they won’t live forever.

    I happen to think it’s a good idea because it addresses the issue of alienation. It doesn’t remedy alienation, it just addresses the issue of alienated peole building home arsenals.

    This whole lone wolf, alienation, radical libertarian, anarchist ball of mess – it’s incoherenet. These people wouldn’t last a week without the multifarious protections they enjoy under a system of government they despise.

  • Wudang

    OT: I would love to hear the thoughts of Typhonblue, or other sharps brains from this blog, on what Rollo Tomassi calls the feminine imperative:

    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/how-the-feminine-imperative-just-happens/

  • Ginkgo

    Wow, Wudang, thanks for that link. Exellent, excellent article. Dalrock and his crew are espcially important because so much resistance to men’s rights comes from traditionalist circles, and they disassemble those arguments from the inside.

    He is right that it really comes down to a profound feminine sense of entitlement, all of it – the howling about the marriage strike, the howling about the death of chivalry, the howling about the decline of the family and fatherhood from the very people kicking fathers out of their children’s lives, and the howling about anyone saying a word of truth about any of this. He nails it.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    The whole thing has reached a fever pitch around here… Lanza’s gun was apparently traced to South Carolina, surprise surprise.

    Yall might find this interesting: ‘They’re not going to take my gun’: Bill would exempt S.C. from federal regulations

    From the article: The AR-15 military-style rifle that 18-year-old Alex Hendry fired Thursday at the Twin Ponds Rifle Range is smack in the cross hairs of a nationwide uproar over regulating “assault rifles” in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

    It also is at the crux of a debate that awaits the 2013 General Assembly. Why? It was made in South Carolina.

    A state lawmaker wants to exempt South Carolina from federal regulation of firearms, ammunition or accessories made in the state.

    The Firearms Freedom Act, filed by Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, is similar to bills that already have been approved in eight states, filed in 40 others, and are being challenged in court by the U.S. District Attorney.

    Seemingly a throwback to states’ rights and secessionist politics, the bill has ramifications for a number of companies in the state that make everything from AR-15s to ammunition and equipment like scopes, as well as more private, custom hunting-rifle builders.

    “We have the capability in South Carolina to do what we want” as far as manufacturing firearms, said Dale Hanna, a gunsmith with East Coast Guns in Summerville.

    Hendry, of Mount Pleasant, isn’t fazed by the gun rights uproar. The Palmetto-State-Armory-built rifle he owns was among a few he brought to the Awendaw range.

    He doesn’t have a problem with taking precautions to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, and he doesn’t think it’s a bad idea to require people buying a gun to take a class to learn how to use it.

    But restricting military-style rifles is restricting rifles because they are scary-looking, he said. There are traditional-looking semi-automatic rifles that have the same shooting capability.

    “If a minority of people do something stupid, it shouldn’t affect the majority of the people,” he said. He likes the idea that if the federal government tries to take away the South Carolina-made rifles, “we’ll be grandfathered in,” he said. “If something happens, they’re not going to take my gun.”

    … and that’s how it is around here. Talk radio is ablaze over it.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    OT: I would love to hear the thoughts of Typhonblue, or other sharps brains from this blog, on what Rollo Tomassi calls the feminine imperative:

    I know you don’t mean me, so I am sorry to intrude here… but I am curious: what IS this “feminine imperative”? It is never defined outright in the link you provided… do you have to be feminine or just female, to benefit? (not all women are ‘feminine’–of course)

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    It’s hard to take a blogger seriously who stills calls unmarried women “spinsters” (Dalrock)… what is the male equivalent of this word?

    What’s next, old maids?

  • Clarence

    For all his problems, Dalrock is probably one of the leading experts on US marriage on the entire internet. He’s a conservative Christian though – a true believing one – which means to him divorce is an anethema to God and is only justified in a very few specific circumstances. He’s also anti-feminist and -to an extent – anti-egalitarian, with a more “complementarian” viewpoint, and though he’d not have women consigned to the kitchen, he’d rather they not actually minister in church as per biblical injunction. I’m a former Christian but I can at least appreciate that he takes the religion and the patriarchal parts of it seriously.
    Guaranteed to piss Daisy off. LOL. Good job, Dalrock.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner
  • titfortat

    @Clarence

    With a list like that I dont think that guy could be an expert on any relatively normal marriage.

  • dungone

    Is it possible to move this side convo into an open thread? As much as I would like to comment on it, by the time I got done we would all have forgotten who Nancy Lanza was.

    To the extend that I find part of it tangentially relevant here, I would like to point out that Nancy Lanza did something that an older, out of touch generation of Americans seem to find incomprehensible for a woman: she hoarded guns and ammo. She had also worked in finance, which also means she was educated in something other than nursing, women’s studies, or art. The days of “boy scouts” and “heritage girls” are long gone – they’ve been long gone.

    By the way, hoarding guns and ammo for the Aemageddon is one of the most passive aggressive things I can think of. I can think of a billion other passive aggressive traits that are traditionally male and high status behaviors, including the claim that “real men” are never passive aggressive. Neither gender dominates in this arena.

  • Wudang

    That is what we are trying to define Daisy. We are certain that there is one though:)

  • Clarence

    TitforTat:
    If you want to know about rates of marriage by age/sex/race, rates of remarriage, rates of divorce, who initiates divorces, why they initiate divorces, the effect of divorce on family formation/family wealth etc, then Dalrock is your guy.
    He doesn’t claim to be running a relationships or marital counseling blog.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner
  • Titfortat

    @Clarence

    Ah, I understand. :)

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Clarence: Guaranteed to piss Daisy off. LOL. Good job, Dalrock.

    That’s a bit of an overstatement, Clarence. It takes a lot to “piss me off”–I simply said, I don’t take him seriously. I see the word “spinster” and I read no further. “Nothing to see here.”

    I was curious why you would bother, and you did answer that question, so thanks.

    Wudang: That is what we are trying to define Daisy. We are certain that there is one though:)

    Spinsters or Feminine Imperative?

    Sounds like fun, you fellas. Excuse me, but this thread is obviously for the boyz. Happy new year and seeya around.

  • Ginkgo

    “Is it possible to move this side convo into an open thread? As much as I would like to comment on it, by the time I got done we would all have forgotten who Nancy Lanza was.”

    Yes please. I think she’s getting crucified and I think it’s simplistic and defelctionary. Daisy. maybe this kind of comversation would interest you.

    “By the way, hoarding guns and ammo for the Aemageddon is one of the most passive aggressive things I can think of. I can think of a billion other passive aggressive traits that are traditionally male and high status behaviors, including the claim that “real men” are never passive aggressive. Neither gender dominates in this arena.”

    ain’t it the truth. Whole cultures are passive-aggresive, ma le and female. It’s an evasion of contrntation. The fatc that it gets labeeld a female tendency in this culture has nothing to do with gender essentialism and more ot do with what I call the Two Cultures in our culture – stoicism, with all the implies, for men, and what do we call it it….histrionicism? ….not satisifed with that either – for women. Women and not men are expected to be passive-aggressive. And even so men do plenty of passive-aggressive shit in this culture anyway.

  • Wudang

    “Spinsters or Feminine Imperative?”

    Feminine Imperative.

    Typhonblue, I came across this written by you on Feminist Critics. I`m curious if you remember where you read it:

    I’m sure what they learn in the SC helps them out even with their platonic relationships. And I’ve read a lot of SC material that suggests men should *start* with fixing their platonic and/or casual non-sexual relationships FIRST, because that’s where their problems lie.

  • Valkina

    I know this thread is not dedicated to this buy,happy new year all! :)

  • Ginkgo

    Happy New year to you too, Valkina!

    Bless you for remembering! It doesn’t need a thread of it’s own to say a loving thing. God bles you and everyone around you! (Whicjhever way you cross yourself, or even if you don’t!)

  • Ginkgo

    Daisy,
    “It’s hard to take a blogger seriously who stills calls unmarried women “spinsters” (Dalrock)… what is the male equivalent of this word? ”

    You know how I go on about how this plays out in different cultures? There is no equaivalent to spinster in Anglo culture. But in China there is an equivalent – ‘guang gun’ = “bare stick/club”. It’s a lot ruder than spinsgter, at laest explicitly. But “spinster” is pretty damned derogatory in its cultural context.

  • Valkina

    Thanks Ginkgo!
    I guess there is the first time for everything.I always forget those sort of things,including my own birthday.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com stonerwithaboner

    hahaha,

    I never bothered to read Dalrock, but the whole thing about spinsters, well, how come the male versions-MGTOW’s are looked upon with such scorn especially be feminists?

  • Druk

    Is part of the definition of “spinster” that it’s voluntary to be one? Because if not, that would make it differ from MGTOW.

  • Ginkgo

    “Is part of the definition of “spinster” that it’s voluntary to be one? Because if not, that would make it differ from MGTOW.”

    I neve got the impression that “spinster” was a voluntary condition – that’s my native-speaker language intuition on that. In fact you just made me realize something, Druk – “spinster” is the female equivalent of virgin-shaming. It implies the woman is a loser, that she failed to get a man. That’s exactly what virgin-shaming and “That’s why you never get laid!” say about a man.

    And it’s telling that the term has passed far enough out of currency that it almost requires a footnote for anyone under about 30. That’s progress. Now we just need to make the same progress on virgin-shaming.

  • dungone

    From the way I’ve seen the used in older literature, I don’t think a “spinster” is anything at all like virgin shaming and it’s quite different from MGTOW. MGTOW does not have a time element to it – a spinster is an older unmarried woman who is no longer eligible for marriage due to her age (post-menopausal, etc.). A spinster is stereotypically prissy and repressed. It is implied that a spinsters someone who has turned down men’s advances for many years. It is therefore quite different than the type of virgin shaming that men get – of being undesirable to begin with. A spinster is undesirable as a consequence of having desired no one herself. It’s a pejorative but I think it’s fitting; I would broaden it to include our entire culture of women who are socialized to be lazy and entitled in courtship.

  • Ginkgo

    So you’re saying it’s more like “confirmed batchelor”. Now that I think about it, that’s probably more the way I have heard it, and basically equivalent to MGTOW.

    I think I was thinking of “old maid”. It’s equally pejorative, but I can recall instances of quite young women worried that they were old maids because they weren’t married by 19. It was definitely involuntary.

  • dungone

    @Ginkgo, a “confirmed bachelor” was applied to otherwise seemingly “eligible” men who didn’t marry, with the implication that they might be gay. The implication that they might be gay is because they could still marry even right now in the eyes of society and lustful women looking for a rich, handsome provider. The difference between a “spinster” and a “confirmed bachelor” is that the spinster is not eligible while the confirmed bachelor is. The terms complement each other. The culture had it that women were entitled to the entreaties of handsome men who have made it far in life, whereas women who reject those men were seen as deserving their lonely fate.

    One interesting take on this was a short story by Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick). http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/MelPara.html The td&dr of it is that it’s about an old wealthy bachelor blinded by his lust for money to the point where he apparently doesn’t realize that he is surrounded by young nubile maids. He serves a metaphor for industrialization and the maid as a metaphor for it’s victims.

  • dungone

    basically equivalent to MGTOW.

    You mean “confirmed bachelor?” Probably. But MGTOW is a self-professed label that turns the pejorative on it’s head. Unlike “spinster” or “confirmed bachelor”, it is taking on culturally assigned gender roles rather than enforcing them. It’s pretty much an answer to both spinsters and confirmed bachelors – that maybe it’s high time for women to step up and earn their keep. It’s preposterous that the worst thing you could say about a woman is that she simply rejected a life of leisure being handed to her on a silver platter. Isn’t it?

  • DaisyDeadhead

    Dungone: It’s preposterous that the worst thing you could say about a woman is that she simply rejected a life of leisure being handed to her on a silver platter. Isn’t it?

    (sigh)

    Marriage for women does NOT equal a life of leisure, except for the upper classes… and it never has.

    The working class exists… around the world, too. Really, it does.

    And always has.

  • Peter Houlihan

    Very well written.

    What the hell, I’ll weigh in on the gun control debate:

    Some context: I live in a country where guns can be legally owned, but are pretty tightly controlled, must be held under certain conditions (stored and transported in a locked safe which can’t be accessed by the passengers in a car) and can’t be bought if you don’t have a reason to own one. Guns are available on the black market, but aren’t very common. Gun crimes, involving both legally and illegally held weapons, are also extremely uncommon and I’ve never heard of a school shooting in the south.

    Few thoughts on the reasons people own guns:
    1) Self defence: Unless you live in a warzone, or an area where gun laws are so liberal that everyone has one and gunfights occur on the hour, chances are you won’t get into a gunfight. In the former case, there’s nothing much anyone can do to solve that, and there probably isn’t much law of any kind, let along gun control so it’s not really worth discussing. If it’s the latter, surely the solution is to question why guns need to be so available in the first place. In most first world countries, gun control or no, the black market for firearms is pretty small. If someone has a gun, they probably bought it with the consent of the government. Even ignoring the negative consequences for ones safety of allowing everyone to own guns (the fact that you’ll be surrounded by people who own guns) they’re still not much good for self defence unless you’re constantly on guard. And who wants that?

    2) Taking down the government. In most first world countries I’m aware of, the army is sworn to protect the constitution, a document which usually governs the democratic process which elects the government. An uprising against the government in this kind of country can take three forms:
    a) If you want to take down a democratically elected government by force of arms, then you’re a violent extremist pure and simple and shouldn’t have access to guns.
    b) If a government breaches democratic process and suspends the constitution, it’s the army’s job to take them down, not yours. They’re far far better equipped to do so than you are.
    c) If a government breaches democratic process and suspends the constitution and the army is on their side… you’re shit out of luck really. Those hunting rifles you and your buddies own aren’t any kind of match for the hardware the army has. If you do own hardware that is a match for a standing army then I think we should be worrying less about individual school shootings and more about multiple school artillary bombardments.
    No matter how you cut it, owning firearms to take down the government is either politically suspect, dangerous or useless.

    3) Because guns are cool. This I can empathise with. Guns are cool, I think so too. And I think a limited degree of gun ownership in gun clubs is ok. I can’t imagine a marksman going on a rampage at a range and getting very far with a manual action rifle. At most they might kill two other gun enthusiasts (hopefully not me!) before another one took them down. As risks go, it’s pretty slim and what the hell, sports are dangerous.

    4) Because I need one to hunt. I’m pretty sure you don’t. If you *need* to hunt, you probably live so far outside regular civilisation that school shootings are a non-risk (due to lack of schools) and there is no real law enforcement of any kind, let alone gun control law.

    5) Because I’m a farmer and I need one for pest control. Hard to argue with. It’s legal for farmers to own shotguns in their own home in Ireland. But you have to actually be a farmer (or work for one) to qualify and the firearm has to be kept in a locked safe on the premesis.

  • dungone

    Marriage for women does NOT equal a life of leisure, except for the upper classes… and it never has.

    I don’t really care because I was talking about spinsters and confirmed bachelors as stereotypes which are by definition removed from reality. I also don’t really care because hurt feelings of hard unsatisfactory lives still don’t justify having the other person, also subject to a shitty life, do all the heavy lifting. If women aren’t happy with marriage then it’s even more reason for men to stop bothering to pursue them and everyone will be all the better off for it. It is true that in some respects, the downsides to marriage were a little more varied and bidirectional than they are today, but that was true for all levels of wealth, not just the poor.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    I seem to have missed the gun-control debate. Perhaps it got buried behind the articles about the horrible dangers posed by the neuro-atypical and the calls for publically burning video games. In the interests of full disclosure, it is also possible that I’ve just been buried far too deeply in the Taishou period.

  • Eirikr

    I’m kind of surprised the Categories “Bad Science” and “Good Intentions” don’t intersect more often, even on this blog. Like the horse and the carriage.

  • Ginkgo

    “….and I’ve never heard of a school shooting in the south.”

    Fewer Prostestants. That’s a big part of our problem here, and you can see it if you do the demographics.

    I’m serious. These mass shootings tend to occur, with some rare exceptions, in states that have the concentrations of what we call “Scotch-Irish” – former Ulster Protestants who migrated to the Appalachians in the 1760-90s and then fanned out westward, ending up predominating in Arkansas,Texas, Colorado and Arizona. There are substantial popualtions of them in the South too.

    They also form the core of the Soveriegn Citizen/anti-government/white power movements. I’m not demonizing them – they came here marginal and they have been further marginalized and they are finally starting to bite back. And they are making it hurt.

  • Ginkgo

    And when I say Protestants, I am not talking about a bunch of staid old Swedish or German Lutherans, or solidly middle-class Presbyterians, or even the megachurch types.