The gun violence debate we're not having

Amazon has an untold number of items that are easy to get, but that has nothing to do with how many people are buying any one item.
How many gun owners do you know that have and use them?

As usual with these anti-gun control arguments, the problem is we have a “rest of the world” to compare the US to. Countries with anywhere near the wealth of the US have a small fraction of the homicide rate and frequency of mass killings.
And that’s because in most of the developed world guns are either essentially banned or only owned by people who have gone through training, licensing and/or psychological evaluations. Simple as. Or is it?

I think the fact you’ve put “at a national level” in there tacitly concedes the point.
At a state and local level there is evidence of gun control policy reducing the quantity of weapons in circulation even though weapons can be trivially moved from state to state.
At a national level, what attempts have there even been to reduce supply?

Yes, sometimes bans are ineffective. However, sometimes bans are effective, at least in vastly reducing usage.
Guns would appear to be an example of the latter, since illegal gun ownership and homicides are rare in developed countries, apart from the US.

As a side note, I assume you’d support legalization of all drugs?

And yet, again, they are rare in countries with gun control.

Mass murder is also much rarer in the rest of the developed world than the US. Because an easily-bought gun is a trivial way to commit mass murder. Extremely effective and doesn’t require much planning (so the perpetrator only needs to be in that state of mind for a short time).

And still not having:

Okay, why not? Would it be less likley to happen if the penalty was 20 years, or 40 years? I doubt it. People don’t think they’ll get caught, so they really don’t factor in the penalty. (Also, five years in prison would really suck for most people. So it is a deterrent.)

Do a lot of people who shoot a store clerk and get five years in prison re-offend? I don’t know, do you?

I don’t know about specifically those who shoot store clerks who get 5 years, but here is some high level info:

Lots of caveats of course. This is for all violent offenders. It’s for those rearrested, not necessarily re-convicted. It doesn’t isolate the specific infraction in question. It doesn’t consider the burden one faces after being released and the limited options available that may increase the likelihood of re-offending. And we don’t have enough prisons currently to accommodate for dramatically increased sentencing.

I for one am not willing to trade minority or anyone’s 4th amendment rights or the obvious consequence of racial profiling and animus for the theater of “doing something” about gun crime.

You note that there are caveats, Bone, but I suspect you aren’t appreciating how deeply flawed those numbers are. They wildly inflate re-offending.

If you actually track individuals and you track whether they commit new violent crimes, the rate of re-offending is in the 20s. The way they reach numbers in the 70s is to define the new crimes broadly (including technical parole violations that are not crimes), and also to measure how much recidivism there is without tracking individuals.

Consider the following scenario: Alonzo is a serial assaulter. He gets sent to prison for an 8-month stint for bar fights pretty much every year. In the first year, his cellmate is Burt. Burt gets released and goes the straight and level, but Alonzo gets sent back on his release. In the second year, his cellmate is Courtney. Same deal. In the third year, it’s Del. On those facts, the overall recidivism rate is 50%. Half of all releasees get re-arrested. But it is the same dude each time! That’s a real pattern that plays out in the statistics. A relatively small number of offenders keep going back and it inflates the recidivsm numbers.

Much more info and data here

I’m willing to bet that most of them (the vast majority, even) wanted the machine-gun experience, with the intent of shooting at nothing more than lifeless targets.

I offer them a veritable tidal wave of sympathy that long-standing Federal Law and now Massachusetts law has finally noticed that a device that makes a semiauto behave like a machine gun may as well have turned it into a machine gun. Darn that Vegas mass-murderer for ruining it for everybody!

Yes, it’s kind of whack, like divorce statistics I presume. The specific example of the 5 years for shooting a clerk makes that type of data gathering difficult so I put up only the super high level recidivism stats. Lots of nuance glossed over.


I only recently learned just how deeply whack these stats are, so I was eager to share. I definitely held the misimpression that most people re-offend based on these numbers, even though they are almost exactly the inverse of that.

Note that just because the only practical use of a particular item may be mass murder doesn’t logically imply that that’s the only reason anybody ever purchases that item. People buy lots of items for no practical reason, or with no intention of ever using them as designed, just because they like to own them.

It seems to me that gun debates sometimes get bogged down because people lump all gunshot killings together.

Maybe it’s better to divide gunshot killings into different groups and determine which approaches might be effective in preventing some of the killings in that group. I propose the following categories:

  1. Planned untargeted killings – that is killings where the identity of the victims is unimportant to the shooter. The Las Vegas killings fall into this category.

  2. Planned targeted killings – those where the killer intends to shoot one or more specific persons. Drive-by shootings fall in this category since I’d include shootings where someone is killed accidentally (due say to poor aim).

  3. Unplanned targeted killings. We almost had an instance of this in my town – I say “almost” because the victim didn’t die. But it was a road rage incident where the shooter was so angry at whatever the victim did that he pulled out his gun and shot him.

  4. Unplanned untargeted killings. An example would be that case from a few years ago where the toddler pulled his mom’s gun out of her purse and shot her dead.

It seems to me that unless we somehow magically get rid of all guns, no regulations will have a substantial impact on all categories of gun killings. Which ones can we reduce – and should we take the steps necessary to do so? For instance, it seems to me that in either category of unplanned killings, if a gun was not available the killing would not have occurred. Can we now make it illegal to carry unsecured guns around? Would making it illegal have that big an impact? Should we take away the ability to have concealed or open carry?

Do you not consider “entertainment” a “practical” use?

In an age with millions of Americans lawfully concealed-carrying, I’d be delighted to see the “Terry stop” precedent overturned.

The NFA, the '86 machine gun ban, AWB, various import restrictions, etc. Obama’s green-tip ammo ban never really got off the ground, does that count as an attempt or not?

We were talking about attempts to reduce the supply of guns. Of those, maybe the “various import restrictions” counts, but obviously the vast majority of guns in the US are made in the US so not too surprising if it had no effect.

I don’t understand. Are you saying that an AWB is not an attempt to “reduce the supply” of guns?

Yes, in this context of this discussion.
rat avatar pointed out that nothing, on a federal level, has ever succeeded in reducing the number of guns in circulation.
I retorted that essentially nothing has been tried on the federal level to achieve that goal.

Your response was then based on not following the context I think, and just pointing out examples of gun control at a federal level.

The reason AWB doesn’t count is because just banning one type of gun, that wasn’t very popular in the first place, and having a grandfather clause on existing weapons, is not an attempt to reduce the number of guns in circulation or that are being bought and transferred.

You are aware that one does not need a special stock to bump fire, correct? Making those stocks unavailable to consumers does not extinguish anyones ability to bump fire a semi-auto rifle in the least.

The debate that isn’t happening is the one where people come to the realization that going after the particular technology used to commit an act is not as effective (or fair for that matter) as going after the act and the it’s causes.
Other countries have even higher percentages of gun ownership than the US, mass shootings have, IMHO more to do with the culture there than with what type or quantity of guns people can get their hands on.
Discussions about gun rights appear to me more like an exercise on how to deal with a shadow on a wall than over what is causing that shadow in the first place, not to mention the endless political hay that can be made out of it.

99% of the discussion seems to be “Let’s take the following options off the table”. If it’s not simply “For this kind of tragedy, uniquely, we must wait until some undefined future time and not politicize this”.

These things keep happening in the US because of these stock answers. It will never end until the BS ends.

Where is there more guns and similarly little to no registration / licensing? Where can I buy an AR-15 as easily as the US?