Roundup #57: Gun Violence and Such

On this blog, I try my best not to duplicate the work of what is already been said, even if those things are damn good things that need some serious saying. That’s why I have a Weekly Link Roundup section to highlight the works of others, and why I sometimes go out of my way to highlight specific topics, like my three part series prepping for the election.

The shooting at Sandy Hook, just like the shooting at Aurora, is tragic and incomprehensible. Despite working a lot to try and study human behavior, I can’t comprehend the mind that not only allows senseless violence to continue, but actively participates in making it happen.

I’d like to stand with everyone who says that now is the time for a call to action to start talking about gun violence. But right now, I’m at a bit of a loss for words. I’m still unsettled from not having enough data to back up conclusions about what kind of legislations or solutions would be worth pursuing to help stop this gun violence, and troubled from a losing a sense of efficacy that I could actually do anything to stop these tragedies. It seems like my efforts at persuasion are best left to some topic where I can have some personal leverage.

After the Aurora shootings, I made a personal note to begin to gather data to have informed opinions about gun control. I never got around to doing that. I feel like I owe it to myself, now, to put more effort into going in that direction. To start, for the sake of something to say, I’m doing something here a little different — moving this week’s weekly link roundup from Friday to Monday, and devoting it to my favorite articles on the shooting and potential resolutions:

If anyone has any articles or thoughts they would like to throw on the issue, especially with regard to debates over gun control or mental health, I would love to see them. Doubly so because my Twitter feed is a liberal echo chamber, which is not really a bad thing, except when I want to make up my mind on an issue.



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On 17 Dec 2012 in All, Link Roundup, Political Commentary. 20 Comments.


  1. #2 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    17 Dec 2012, 4:01 pm  

    Three more good ones from Facebook:

    * Andrew Murray points to an article on The Economist that argues the only gun control that will work is having no privately owned guns at all.

    * Michael Dickens points to CDC’s “First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws”, which “found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes”, but is sure to note “insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness”.

    * Luke Muelhauser points to William Saletan’s article that shows the connection between deaths and gun speed in mass shootings.

  2. #3 Garren says:
    18 Dec 2012, 12:26 pm  

    As a generally left-of-Obama liberal with a concealed carry license, I’m all for gun control laws *if* they’re effective at reducing massacres without significantly compromising self-defense and hunting uses. Unfortunately, that’s difficult to pull off.

    The assault weapons ban was a joke because most of the defining factors were only about not _looking_ like military hardware. The enhancements relevant to military use aren’t significant factors in up-close civilian massacres, with one exception: limiting magazine capacity to ten rounds.

    Probably the most vanilla handgun on the market today is the Glock 17 9×19. This is a standard law enforcement and personal defense model. See how easy it is to upgrade it to thirty-three round magazines (in most locations):

    It makes little difference whether the gun looks like a scary military model, or if the caliber is slightly larger. What matters in the situations we’re talking about is the sheer number of times a person can point and click without interruption. Magazine changes provide critical breaks for people to get away or possibly attack a shooter. Shooters are less likely to bring three times the number of magazines to make up for, say, three thirty-three round magazines.

    What I’m saying is that I would support an immediate federal ban on magazines over ten rounds and leave out everything else, as far as technical restrictions go. Unfortunately, this might not be very effective since the 17 round range is so common. Convincing people to go out and buy a new magazine that doesn’t hold as much as what came with their gun is going to be a hard sale. Still, it might be the right thing to do long-term.

  3. #4 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    18 Dec 2012, 4:26 pm  


    I read that article after the Aurora shootings and was surprised, but understood that it was definitely plausible for a safe gun culture to exist, especially if everyone has mandatory military training.

    However, I then saw Ezra Klein’s “Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias” [WashingtonPost], which apparently shows that article about Switzerland is out of date.

  4. #5 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    18 Dec 2012, 4:27 pm  

    More gun control articles directly and indirectly referred to me –

    From Facebook: Kate Lowry recommends “‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America”

    Also from Facebook: Paul Campos’s “Why Is The Shooter Always Male?”

    My friend Rob Moore writes “Two Modest Recommendations for Gun Safety in America”

    From Twitter: Adam Lankford’s “What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers” [NYTimes]

    The Stone, the philosophy column of the New York Times, has started a one week series on the philosophy of guns [NYTimes], entitled “The Armed Society”.

  5. #6 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    18 Dec 2012, 5:18 pm  

    From Twitter: Caleb Bower recommends Larry Bell’s “Disarming the Myths Promoted By the Gun Control Lobby”.

  6. #7 joseph says:
    20 Dec 2012, 5:02 am  

    Thanks Peter, interesting. As a Brit I agree with the writer of one of the other articles you posted, I feel safest with no guns around (I baulk at armed police at airports, a poor Brazilian man was mistakenly shoot, repeatedly, to death, my our boys in blue in the London Underground, a few years ago). Yet Switzerland does seem to be an example of society that has access to guns, but much less associated violence than the U.S.A., the key perhaps, is that gun ownership is a civic responsibility rather than a right. I’ll have to go and check Swiss gun laws now to see what else that article is no longer up to date on.

  7. #8 joseph says:
    20 Dec 2012, 5:29 am  

    Judging from this article:
    The Swiss still keep their guns at home but no longer have government issued ammunition at home. Whether the article, which I first posted, was correct with regard to lax ammunition control at gun ranges, or not, seems quite difficult to check…

  8. #9 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    21 Dec 2012, 3:07 am  

    Two more articles:

    Fareed Zakaria thinks the solution to gun violence is clear [Washington Post].

    Harold Meyerson argues from correlations that guns make things more dangerous, not more safe.

  9. #11 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    24 Dec 2012, 6:09 am  

    These articles won’t stop coming. Lots more good stuff:

    Bruce Schneier warns us not to draw the wrong lessons about security from horrific events.

    Scott Siskind writes brilliantly a case *against* gun control (sort of): “If gun control arguments make me want to shoot myself, does that just prove their point?”.

    Another pretty good anti-gun control one: “An Opinion on Gun Control”.

    Also, Fact-Checking the NRA Press Conference.

    “Three Problems WIth American Debate on Guns”.

    Mother Jones reports “Do Armed Civilians Stop Mass Shooters? Actually, No.” (As a reminder, the Aurora shooter had full body armor [or maybe didn't?]).

    Also, America might have an exceptional gun culture.

    Moving up the correlation argument, there’s a correlation between guns and violence *within* the States of the US. (Recall: Correlation is not causation.)

    A different correlation argument, this time showing that gun control laws *increase* gun violence. (Again, recall that correlation is not causation.)

    This counter-intuitive correlation argument is backed up by “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?: A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence” [PDF].

    Also, I mentioned earlier that The Stone, New York Times’s philosophy column, was having a series on gun control. I’ve now read all the pieces. Here are the two I liked:

    The Stone: Going in a different direction, Jeff McMahan’s “Why Gun Control is Not Enough” argues for a full ban on handguns.

    The Stone: Michael Boylan argues that weapons exist on a continuum, and guns are too dangerous to be left to humans.

  10. #13 joseph says:
    28 Dec 2012, 4:49 am  

    An interesting, though flawed argument:

    Please read the comments i particularly liked:

    “England is the most degenerate OECD nation – if you lived here (as I do) and saw the way these people behave you would be banning their access to anything sharper than a plastic fork within about 20 seconds”

  11. #14 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    31 Dec 2012, 1:45 am  

    Another one I found: The Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms finds in “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review” that:

    [A]nswers to some of the most pressing questions cannot be addressed with existing data and research methods, however well designed. For example, despite a large body of research, the committee found no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime, and there is almost no empirical evidence that the more than 80 prevention programs focused on gun-related violence have had any effect on children’s behavior, knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about firearms. The committee found that the data available on these questions are too weak to support unambiguous conclusions or strong policy statements.

  12. #15 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    31 Dec 2012, 1:50 am  

    The John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research concludes in The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America:

    The burden of gun violence on American society is substantial, whether measured in years of productive life lost, disability, fear, or economic costs. The toll is unprecedented among high-income nations. Weaknesses in current gun laws contribute to this burden by establishing low standards for legal gun ownership and significant loopholes in policies designed to keep guns from prohibited persons. When states expand firearm prohibitions to high-risk groups, and adopt comprehensive measures to prevent diversion of guns to prohibited persons, fewer guns are diverted to criminals, and there is less violence.

  13. #16 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    6 Jan 2013, 10:03 am  

    From “Back to Guns: Kant vs. Saint Augustine”:

    I personally would feel better if I, uniquely, had a gun in hand to use against the perpetrator. But I would not prefer a situation in which everyone was carrying guns, all the time, and ready to open fire on anyone who looked threatening. Or even if a lot more people were doing so.

  14. #17 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    30 Jan 2013, 3:55 pm  

    This gun control debate has been different, at least in terms of how the news cycle has worked to keep gun control in the news.

  15. #18 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    6 Feb 2013, 2:33 pm  

    Continuing my documentation, I like Adam Lee’s “Why I’m Not a Gun Owner” as a good cost-benefit analysis of owning a gun.

  16. #19 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    28 Feb 2013, 4:19 pm  

    Another scientific study: “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home”:

    The use of illicit drugs and a history of physical fights in the home are important risk factors for homicide in the home. Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.

  17. #20 Peter Hurford (author) says:
    27 Mar 2013, 11:39 pm  

    Link #48: Cracked’s 5 Mind-Blowing Facts Nobody Told You About Guns:

    After every mass shooting, the gun debate splits into two camps: One side says it easily could have been avoided if these maniacs weren’t allowed to have guns; the other says it easily could have been avoided if each innocent victim had only gone through their daily lives in cover formation, armed like the space marines entering the giant murder womb in Aliens.
    And that’s pretty much the entire gun control debate, as far as the mainstream media are willing to cover. And that is a shame, because it leaves out all of the most interesting parts. Trust us, the longer you look into this, the weirder it gets. For instance…

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