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The propaganda stops here

Gun Violence Claims Reviewed and Evaluated

Abstract

People want to control our opinions about guns. For gun enthusiasts, it's about the gun ownership culture, with no restrictions. And some actually believe their government is against them and may need overthrown, as if handguns and rifles could stand against an army. For others, it's about neighborhoods saturated with violence and a gun culture, and about children being killed in our schools and theaters. Opinions are generally assaulted with propaganda. Essentially propaganda gives one side of the story, usually with factual distortions. The other aspect of propaganda is to strengthen the base so that they stand firm.

In this article I cited a number of sources who support gun control, and avoided articles that were clearly biased and lack substance. I specifically have not included John Lott’s work, a staple of the gun industry, as it is considered by the National Academy of Science panel as inconclusive. It has the same problems that I cite throughout this article. This article hopes to give thorough coverage of the gun violence issue and cut through the propaganda. Since gun enthusiasts mostly put out propaganda disguised as facts, they may be disappointed and label this article propaganda, which is what they usually do with anything that doesn't support them. So be it. Judge for yourself.

What do we want to happen with guns?

Are we better off with guns or without them? Or somewhere in between? This article surveys gun violence in the US. It has some humor. It is long and doesn't provide sound bite shortcuts, slogans, or any propaganda. It is for people who really want information without all of the hype, and uses reliable sources for statistics where it counts. As for me, I'm a realist, and the Second Amendment is the final voice. This article comes from my tracking gun violence and children, propaganda, attitudes and polarization since 1998 and before. The choice is left to you.

Contents

  • The Second Amendment
  • Why do people kill in mass?
  • The difficulty with statistics
  • The problem - statistically defined
  • Who are the people who do mass shootings? Descent into rage
  • Testing serious gun enthusiast claims
  • Where do these people get their guns?
  • Will taking away guns actually stop the violence?
  • Does removing guns from a nation actually work?
  • The Police State
    Good cop, bad cop, and jurisdictions who use guns for administrative problems
  • Personal note
  • Solutions
  • Conclusion

The Second Amendment - militias and gun ownership

The right to life is enshrined in our country's values. It's called an “inalienable right” in the Declaration of Independence (not a law). It's enshrined as law in Amendment 5 of the Bill Of Rights, and in Amendment 14 of the Constitution. The government can't take way this right without due process of law.

We currently have a situation in which we had a school shooting a week in 2017, and have had 28 school shooting incidents in the first seven weeks of 2018. Mass shootings of four or more people happen every day. Nineteen-thousand people are killed by guns annually, including 3500 children. (Another 19,000 are suicides.) This is unconscionable. The right to own guns is conflicting with the right to life. The primary responsibility of the governemnt, given to it by the Constitution, is to protect the people.

Obviously we are not being pretected when we have 4000 teens and kids killed with guns each year, a mass shootings of four or more people every day, and a gun discharged or a mass shooting at school every week of the year. Our children are afraid to go to school, our people are afraid to go into cities where gun violence is unpredictable. Most Americans support gun restrictions.

The US Congress is responsible for the defense of the nation. The Constitution, in Article 1, Section 8, gave the Congress the power to establish militias in ten by ten mile areas, and regulate, arm, discipline, and prescribe training. The individual states have the responsibility to appoint officers and do the actual training. The militias have been replaced by the National Guard.

The Congress has the power to use the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.

Private militias aren't illegal under the Constitution. But they may be completely illegal in some states, and subject to many regulations in others. There is no Constitutional right to have private militias.

Gun owners point to the Second Amendment as giving them absolute rights to carry guns: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment does not usurp the right to life. Read about it for yourself: Second Amendment History, and Cornell Law.

The right to gun ownership is not absolute. The Supreme Court has upheld the right of an individual to own a gun for self-defense. But it has also upheld restrictions on types of guns that can be owned. It has also upheld restrictions on types of guns that can be owned and restrict some people from owning guns. You can't own modern cannons, and many states prohibit ownership of some other military weapons. You can own a tank and a fighter jet, but their weapons systems have to be disabled. For many of these weapons you may need a very thorough background check and permission.

So what we have is a right to life that is close to absolute, and a right to gun ownership that the Supreme Courts upholds is subject to regulation.

US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

"To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."

What happens on gun control depends on you and the voting booth.

Why do people kill in mass?

Traditionally gun violence in the US has largely been in inner city areas where poverty is high. It's been a product of angry young men who don't have jobs or hope. We have usually associated it with gang violence.

A new type of violence has been steadily growing. Some of the factors are the same. Anger. Hopelessness. Lack of meaningful pursuits and purpose. But it's different in some aspects. These are generally males who are socially isolated, often having experienced a loss, such as a girlfriend, or a job. Losing a job has been noted in psychology to be as devastating as losing a loved one. They may be mentally unstable. Their last act of hopelessness and desperation is to go kill people.

People who become terrorists often experience the same thing. They might be of any religion. They may have experienced job loss. They are likely not well integrated into a community and feel isolated from others. They watch terrorist inspired videos and propaganda on the Internet, and their emotions get highly and continuously ever more aroused. They have no outlet for their emotions. Their last act of hopelessness and desperation is to go kill people. They may even think that this is a positive thing that will help the cause.

Isolation. Lack of purpose. Hopelessness. Tragic event or stimulation. Need for relief. Access to guns. Violence that makes a public statement.

It is very difficult to intrude on people's lives, to stop this. We can't be thought police, or censor what people look at without crossing a very sensitive line. While we can be more watchful for people in these situations, and more watchful for the advance warnings.

Additionally these people often find mentors in the writings of other very dominating, authoritarian, violence prone individuals, or other leaders. "These young men, when you read their writings (and they write a lot), are trapped in ideologies insisting on a natural order where the strong dominate the weak. Overwhelmingly their stunning number of journals, manifestos and posts show them to be captivated by thinkers and leaders like Nietzsche [the will to power, master-slave morality, the death of God,], Rand [supported ethical egoism, laissez-faire capitalism, and rejected altruism] and Hitler [extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.]. " -http://gloucesterclam.com/2015/10/04/the-shootings-are-not-senseless/

You can see in these people the same destructive impulse seen in many radical groups that become isolated, fail to integrate into the larger society and find a purpose with meaning they can believe in, and acquire very negative images of the world around them, so that their condition almost demands the satisfaction of making a major public statement against the society that "rejects them." This is true of US terrorists as well. For more information from inside of one of these groups, read the book, Tabernacle of Hate: Seduction into Right-Wing Extremism (Religion and Politics).

NRA in politics

The difficulty with statistics

Official statistical databases, such as the CDC, FBI, and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), have voluntary reporting. They aren't reliable at all. The Attorney General was supposed to collect these statistics, but police departments don't cooperate, and the database was ended. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_in_the_United_States

One of the major problems with statistics on police killings is that while there are several official databases, such as the FBI database, local jurisdictions fail to provide the information to them. The CDC stats, which are widely reported, are only for 16 states, and again rely on voluntary reporting.

So official government statistics are useless. That's why there is an effort by several organizations to collect information through other means.

The Gun Violence Archive appears to be high compared to similar databases, but there may be a valid reason. The GVA collects data through searches of media, so reports what it finds. Other databases collect data through reports from volunteers.

No one knows how many people are killed by the police each year. GVA may prove to be accurate, or may prove to be very inaccurate. It is difficult to have good comparisons when police jurisdictions won't cooperate in the reporting.

Statistical distortion and cherry picking is used to make propaganda, not reliable information. Generally, if you point to a statistic, the gun lobby will immediately attack the source, saying it is distorting statistics.

What I consistently see in statistics that people point to as support for gun ownership as a way to counteract crime, from a professional point of view, can be classified into the categories of propaganda (deliberately misleading), anecdotal (single instances that are considered characteristic of all possible events), and cherry picked (a group of statistics that deliberately leaves out important information that would change the result). If you want to understand how to spot propaganda, have a look at this 10 part series that I wrote, Oh, How You Are Deceived: Don't let yourself be fooled by propaganda.

The following are typical examples:

While pointing to cities with stricter gun control and high gun violence rates as examples of gun control failure, they overlook a significant problem: most gun violence occurs in small pockets in inner cities. Inner city problems are not representative of the entire US, or even areas outside the borders of cities. In fact, if you look at states rather than cities, you get very different results.

Generally, if you point to a statistic, the gun lobby will immediately attack the source, saying it is distorting statistics. Sometimes they are correct. But it's mostly propaganda slanted to fit what they want you to think. In return, the gun lobby shoots out a continuous stream of statistical comparisons that try to assert that the presence of guns makes the world safer and less violent.

Gun enthusiast propaganda includes these allegations:

The UK, where guns are banned, is 5 times more violent than the US. According to The Skeptical Libertarian, this is not true. "...the definitions for “violent crime” are very different in the US and Britain, and the methodologies of the two statistics... are also different." In the UK, "...of the 871,000 crimes against the person, less than half (401,000) involved any actual injury. The remainder were mostly crimes like simple assault without injury, harassment, “possession of an article with a blade or point,” and causing “public fear, alarm, or distress.” And of the 54,000 sexual offenses, only a quarter (15,000) were rapes. This makes it abundantly clear that the naive comparison of crime rates either wildly overstates the amount of violence in the UK or wildly understates it in the US."

Politifact checked The Skeptical Libertarian's figures, and also ruled the gun enthusiast claim false. They concluded, "...the discrepancy is not anywhere near as wide as the one cited.... However, before we put too much credibility on these calculations, we should note that criminologists say there is actually no good way to compare violent crime rates in these two countries." Politifact.com article: Social media post says U.K. has far higher violent crime rate than U.S. does

Another claim: Honduras, where guns are banned, is more dangerous than Switzerland, where everyone is legally required to have a gun. This claim is false, according to Snopes.com:

"For a comparison of this nature to be valid, the two things being compared should be fairly equivalent outside of the factors being examined, but that isn't the case here. The two countries mentioned here are so very different that this isn't just a comparison of apples and oranges; it's more like a comparison of apples and radishes." Poverty and the presence of a gun war strongly influence violence in Honduras. "It is not true that Honduras "bans citizens from owning guns" nor that Switzerland "requires citizens to own guns." "Swiss citizens may buy and keep firearms, subject to certain restrictions and licensing requirements - Read more at Snopes.com

Gun enthusiasts don't use as statistical propaganda the incidents of men blowing their penis off while tucking guns into their waste band, dogs shooting their owners, toddlers shooting each other, people intervening in crimes and shooting the wrong person, or the endless list of horror stories from people who can't or won't be responsible or competent with their guns. Responsible owners lock up their guns where others can't get them, where they can't get them in time to actually use them. (Being a little fascetious :) .) According to the gun enthusiasts, those who are responsible shouldn't be penalized for those who aren't. I get that, but the constant charade of propaganda undermines the reputation of responsibility and asks whether these people are responsible gun owners. Well, of course they are. ;)

The UK and Australia are fair comparisons to the US. They have similar populations, similar problems, and guns are banned in both. In the UK, even the police don't carry guns, although they can bring in an armed response unit if needed. In the UK, there are far more problems with terrorism, a condition cited by gun enthusiasts as a need to carry guns in the US. These statements aren't exactly true. In Australia, "privately owned guns require a permit and it is currently estimated that around 5.2% of the population own licensed guns." In the UK, "there are only around 2 million registered guns which would suggest less than 3% of the population are armed." The real figures are, "...you are almost 3 times more likely to be shot in Australia than you are in England & Wales. But you are nearly 10 times more likely to be shot in the USA than you are in Australia." More information on comparisons later. Look Out! She’s Got a Gun! - Bob in Oz: What It's Really Like to Live in Australia.

A little humor before moving on:

Australian comic Jim Jefferies to Americans against gun control.

The problem - statistically defined

The Gun Violence Archive gleans information from media reports, rather than government databases, and avoids duplicate entries.

From collected reports in the US through September 2015:

Gun Violence Archive

  • GUN VIOLENCE ARCHIVE 2015 TOLL OF GUN VIOLENCE
  • Total Number of Incidents 40,129
  • Number of Deaths 10,116
  • Number of Injuries 20,577
  • Number of Children (age 0-11) Killed/Injured 559
  • Number of Teens (age 12-17) Killed/Injured 2,018
  • Mass Shooting 266
  • Officer Involved Shooting 3,375
  • Home Invasion 1,717
  • Defensive Use 917
  • Accidental Shooting 1,414

US Mass shootings involving 4 or more victims: 274 days into 2015, we've had 294 mass shootings (4 or more killed)

Other reports say that the number of reported annual gun deaths in the US, 33,000, which includes suicides, now exceeds the number of motor vehicle deaths.

One important glaring fact in the statistics is that the police in the US shoot 3,375 people who desperately need killing. (OK, sarcasm.) We've seen them in recent videos shooting people who are running away, shooting unarmed people in vehicles, and a long list of other atrocities. The police in the UK shoot fewer than 1 person a year, and if adjusted comparatively for population, that's less than 5. So, 3,375?!

Who are the people who do mass shootings?

Descent into rage

Descent into rage - are shooters insane?

"Mental illness" is a favorite label that people put on mass shooters. Surely they must be mentally ill to do such a thing. Not even remotely true.

Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist.

Just for laughs, many of the polarized people screaming about this or that on social media could be classed as insane: “in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction.”

It isn't possible to describe every type of mass shooter in one sweeping description. The primary general characteristics: Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and lack of purpose, inciting incidents, resulting in rage and the need to relieve their anger in some action against others. This applies to terrorists, angry white guys, and angry students.

There are three basic types: 1. Individual who spontaneously shoots one or more people in an act of uncontrolled rage. 2. An individual who becomes socially isolated and feels marginalized, alienated, and ineffective in his life, who builds rage through many incidents, plots to kill others to make a public statement, and commits a shooting. 3. A person who is sucked into terrorist propaganda, feels no outlet for the rage that builds, and can't find any outlet except to go kill people to make a public statement.

Any of the above people may or may not have significant mental problems. They may even be of one religion, and suddenly sympathize with another religion and find purpose in their cause. To lump them together into one stereotype and say that they are all the same and the same solution applies to them all, is a lunacy bandwagon.

People feel socially isolated and alienated from society and others for many different reasons. It may be that they haven't found a group that they fit in, and haven't been invited into a group by others. We can condemn our civilization for not reaching out to them, but we can also realize that many people will never feel comfortable and not feel like they fit in almost any group they are invited into.

They may be in counseling, or not. They may appear to be perfectly normal people, very nice, never a problem, and suddenly do a mass shooting. But toward the end, they usually give advance public notice that they are about to do something.

Mental illness is no predictor of gun violence, and the mentally ill are less likely to own guns and be violent. Gun violence is an anger problem.

Part of our problem is that guns are disproportionately owned by those prone to angry, impulsive behavior.

“Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist.” How to Stop Violence: Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are.

One major problem our society has is that more and more people become polarized, rather than being taught to find ways to fit in and resolve problems. The gun is the ultimate solution, even if it means your own death. How many times have I heard the phrase, "Over my dead body?" Part of our problem is that Guns are disproportionately owned by those prone to angry, impulsive behavior

Guns don't kill people. People kill people.

People are getting shot by toddlers on a weekly basis this year. - Washington Post.

Gun Falls out of Purse, Results in Accidental Shooting in Beaumont

When everyone has guns, will anyone be safe?

More information on mass shooters

Testing serious gun enthusiast claims

Can A “Good Guy With A Gun” Protect you? Even Protect Himself?

Gun enthusiasts claim that guns are required for everyone for self defense. They believe that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. If guns are taken away, then only criminals will have guns. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Slogans are shortcuts to make you stop thinking.

Are these claims true? A huge amount of research has been done in the last few years about those claims.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. No, when police enter a situation where guns are being used, they shoot anyone with a gun. Gun carriers know this and stay down.

Do those with weapons stop mass shooters? No. concealed carriers did not intervene On MSNBC "...a student who was on the Umpqua Community College campus today during the shooting was interviewed and indicated he and several other students in this class were concealed carrying handguns and did not intervene because they were worried SWAT would mistake them for active shooters and kill them."

People who do decide to shoot, often shoot the wrong person, or make themselves a target. For example, sometimes people become judge, jury, and executioner and shoot a shoplifter or an innocent victim instead of the carjacker. Those are anecdotal stories, not proof.

The best investigation I have seen was by ABC News. In this you see that most people, even those who are well trained with weapons, get themselves shot and declare “Epic Fail.” Concealed Carry Is A Dangerous Joke – see for yourself in this video (below):

What do combat veterans say, who actually are in armed combat? NRA's 'Good Guy With A Gun' Nonsense Is A 'Dangerous Fantasy' "Good Guy With A Gun" Nonsense Is A ‘Dangerous Fantasy

Can real people determine when it is appropriate to use a gun? A customer at Home Depot decides to shoot a shoplifter. So arming everyone will decrease gun violence?

Following are a few real life examples of good guys with guns who do the wrong thing, as predicted:

In the following story, a Texas ‘good guy with a gun’ comes upon a carjacking and pulls his gun. He shoots the carjacking victim in the head, and then runs away Texas ‘good guy with a gun

Making the situation worse is this: Guns are disproportionately owned by those prone to angry, impulsive behavior.

The only thing that stops a bad guy?

Training situations indicate that people are very unlikely to be able to properly analyze situations and shoot the right person, without getting themselves killed:

People with no firearms training do poorly in simulations

Knowing when and how to apply lethal force in a potentially life-or-death situation is really difficult. PDF.

People without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy -- they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough -- they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.

Watch what happens when regular people try to use handguns in self-defense

Should we all just become armed with guns?

Maybe everyone should carry a gun. They are horribly inconvenient to carry, and they put you at risk. “Hey, do you always carry an AK-47 in your pocket, or are you just here to shoot me?”

Your kids are more likely to shoot each other or a friend. People are literally shot by toddlers on a weekly basis. I'll give the toddlers the benefit of the doubt, they are probably ok people.

Should we take gun promoters' advice and everyone go through weeks of gun training that we will soon forget, and through situation after situation where we have to protect ourselves and quickly identify the shooter and risk being shot instead of running, and... and grab a gun to carry around. We all have time for that after ushering the kids to sports events, and late business meetings. Yeah, I just want to run down to the local firing range.

I'll even give you the benefit of the doubt. There is realistic shown evidence previously in this article, that experienced people perform poorly in a shooter situation and get killed, and that combat veterans think everyone carrying a gun is lunacy, and the police will shoot you in a shooter situation because you have a gun. But I'll give you that you're smarter than all of those other people. You responsibly keep your gun in a safe place with a lock. You have the reflexes of a cat and nerves of steel, and can whip out and shoot a shooter, and no one else, with high accuracy before he shoots you. I'll give you personally all of that. But not everyone. Very few people can come even close to that standard.

The assertion by some is that more guns, everyone armed, will stop other people from shooting you. Around 30 studies say, no way. Here is the summary in Scientific American. “More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows. An Armed Home Is Not A Safer Home. The Rarity of Self Defense”

Around half of parents don't even keep their guns in a safe place.

Police officers who engaged the shooter were wounded or killed in 46.7 percent of the incidents. FBI Article and FBI Report PDF download. OK, maybe we shouldn't put guns in the hands of every teacher.

Well, won't an armed populace even keep mass shooters away? According to a study of 62 mass shootings over 30 years conducted by Mother Jones, not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns. (Gun enthusiasts will try to discredit this simply because it's Mother Jones.)

In reality, here is what happens with more people owning guns. Violence goes up:

The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths.

States with tough gun laws have fewer shooting deaths: study

Police officers are three times more likely to be murdered on the job in high gun ownership states in comparison with low gun ownership states.

Guns in America: For every criminal killed in self-defense, 34 innocent people die

We are facing a well organized small group of people today who want to keep their guns at any cost. Only 30% of people own a gun and that is shrinking every year. Of those 72% who own only one gun, they only own a handgun. The NRA often doesn't represent its members, but the gun industry. Half of NRA money, instead of member dues, now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources. How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA.

What we seem to have is a bunch of quasi-experts in gun enthusiasts, who wishfully think that guns are a solution. Real life experience, training tests, analysis of situations, and experts in real life dangerous situations say this is bunk. Who are you going to believe?

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Russel Honore, Louisiana's most well-known 21st century military hero, said America is mired in a state of denial about its gun culture and that's harming the country. Honore: America's in denial about gun culture - USA Today

Combat veteran: Allowing teachers to be armed is an asinine idea.

Most Americans support gun restrictions

Where do these people get their guns?

How Criminals Get Guns - Frontline - Center For Investigative Reporting.

Brian Dzyak "...there are a number of sources that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands, with gun thefts at the bottom of the list. Wachtel says one of the most common ways criminals get guns is through straw purchase sales. A straw purchase occurs when someone who may not legally acquire a firearm, or who wants to do so anonymously, has a companion buy it on their behalf. According to a 1994 ATF study on "Sources of Crime Guns in Southern California," many straw purchases are conducted in an openly "suggestive" manner where two people walk into a gun store, one selects a firearm, and then the other uses identification for the purchase and pays for the gun. Or, several underage people walk into a store and an adult with them makes the purchases. Both of these are illegal activities.

"The next biggest source of illegal gun transactions where criminals get guns are sales made by legally licensed but corrupt at-home and commercial gun dealers. Several recent reports back up Wachtel's own studies about this, and make the case that illegal activity by those licensed to sell guns, known as Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), is a huge source of crime guns and greatly surpasses the sale of guns stolen from John Q. Citizen. Like bank robbers, who are interested in banks, gun traffickers are interested in FFLs because that's where the guns are. This is why FFLs are a large source of illegal guns for traffickers, who ultimately wind up selling the guns on the street."Brian Dzyak Some States only allow alcohol to be sold in "State Stores," not by individuals or in retail markets. The same should be true of guns. Only States should be permitted to sell guns if we continue to insist that individuals can have guns at home. By funneling all gun sales through a single government agency, States can share information and hopefully stop the wrong people from getting guns." - Frontline

Will taking away guns actually stop the violence?

We won't stop violence completely. It's human nature for many people. But from the results in the UK and Australia, we can curtail much of it. The problem is that part of the reason people do this is to get the publicity. They can also build bombs. Information on building bombs is easily available on the Internet, and the common materials are easily acquired. Some of the mass shooters had bombs with them, or in their apartment.

Does removing guns from a nation actually work?

That's an unqualified "Yes." If you compare countries with similar cultures and similar problems, you get yes. The police in the UK face the same problems and same types of people, but they don't shoot anyone, and if armed force is necessary, they call in armed response units. They have a larger problem with terrorism. They maybe shoot 1 person a year. If you adjust for population size between the US and UK, it works out to less than 5. Police shootings in the US account for over 3000 annual shootings in this country. It is very hard to justify. It is very difficult to justify gun ownership.

The Police State
Good cop, bad cop, and jurisdictions who use guns for administrative problems

Most police officers are very good people, and have never shot anyone. Many have never pulled their gun. There are a few out there who turn our country into a police state that frightens blacks and others. Counties and cities use the police to enforce administrative concerns, putting draconian methods into place for bill collection.

A Native American was found dead in his cell in Mississippi. He was in there for the horrible crime of failing to pay a traffic fine.

Another man was pulled over for a missing front plate. Within two minutes the police had shot him in the head. No plausible explanation (lied).

How hard do people have to scream, and for how long, before we get out of this police state where the police monitor, judge, and execute for minor offenses. We should never, never, never use the police for administrative functions. The states, counties, and cities use these draconian methods for their convenience... but they don't actually work. Companies manage to accomplish these functions without resorting to these methods. Being poor is not a crime and shouldn't be criminalized in this way.

Police, for training, should watch over 100 hours of videos of UK police doing their jobs, and 100 hours of the FBI making arrests, and then work with the public under supervision until these methods are second nature. It's questionable whether they should even be armed or allowed to arrest without supervisor oversight. Police, states, counties, and cities need to be accountable to the public, not the public's masters in a police state. It's time to stand up and say so.

In St. Louis, the burgs within it, and the State of Missouri, have now been banned from using fines to finance local government. As a nation, we need to do a lot of soul searching about how we treat people.

ACLU Sues Benton County, Wash., For Operating 'Modern-Day Debtors Prison'

References for this section

Native American Activist Arrested for Traffic Fine, Dies in Jail 1 Day After Sandra Bland — Media Blackout

18-Year Old Kindra Chapman Was Found Dead In Her Jail Cell One Day After Sandra Bland's Death!

FBI database on officers killed in the line of duty: 59 in 2014

Police training is seriously lacking in social sciences.

Personal note

I'm not exactly an inexperienced person when it comes to guns, gun violence, and self defense. This isn't a theoretical exercise for me. My Father was a WWII Veteran and he taught me to shoot as a teen. In the military I could disassemble and reassemble rifles and handguns, blindfolded, even though I was in communications. I was not in combat, thankfully. I was placed in an area where I had to be prepared to defend my life and others, so was given Black Arts training for hand to hand combat - real stuff. I trained on the Glock handgun with the police last year. I have also hidden a drug dealer in a neighborhood, in plain sight, when someone was driving around trying to shoot him. My son was shot while driving the streets in St. Louis (is fine).

No single method of self-defense is guaranteed perfect for every self-defense situation, but my preference is martial arts, because you don't have to go get the gun, unlock it, load it, take the safety off, and aim it, while someone shoots you over and over. Realistically, odds are the goal of someone who breaks in, or confronts you on the street is to steal something and get away without conflict with anyone. Getting away from dangerous people is almost always the best option. Run and hide, and you will more likely live. Stand your ground and protect things that can be replaced, and you risk your life. Life can't be replaced. Not ever.

The perception (lie) is that we live in a dangerous world. We don't. Inner cities can be dangerous. But most of us will go through all of our lives without ever being in a violent situation. But we need to protect the people who do fall in harms way.

People who play shooter video games (I do), and shoot on ranges, and carry around guns, seem to live in a fantasy world in which they are Rambo, and they have no idea how violent situations actually work, and how unpredictable they are. In the real world, guns are much more likely to lead to trouble, and are not an insurance policy. People can't do what they think they can do. If you have a gun, you are more likely to get shot. Guns escalate situations, which seems to be something many people and many of our police don't understand when they pull one. Escalation is not a good thing, even if you have to temporarily let them go and find them again. De-escalation is a good thing.

As the videos very clearly demonstrate, and as combat veterans explain, most people, even if they have concealed weapons training, are very unlikely to do the right thing in a situation when they are confronted with a gun. They are likely to get killed if they don't get out of the situation.

Have a laugh and get more educated about how trained people with guns totally fail to stop a bad guy with a gun. The Daily Show investigates how a good guy with a gun stops mass shooters

Solutions

We have not one problem related to the issue of mass killings, but a host of problems. As a society, and a government, whether locally or nationally, we seem to lack the will or ability to do anything about most of our problems. We are very divided in our opinions, very polarized (rigid extreme), and if we do have a public consensus, serious studies show that for many years Congress hasn't responded one iota.

In inner city areas with high violence, people are generally allowed to languish in their malaise, with popular opinions running from, "let them lift themselves up," to "give them more money." Neither solution works. Things that can work are: same race policing, tighter integration into the community, better schools, focused training for specialized jobs, economic development commissions, and state and federal lending for focused problems. These would be major helps. But we generally don't do that. Politics and attitudes are generally in the way. If we resolved those problems, we would all be exponentially better off.

Entering into this lack of will is a constant false dichotomy presented to voters between conservaties who don't want to spend any tax money on anything except the military and police, and liberals who supposedly want to finance a host of government programs. We just continue with this false selection, with a small group of uncompromising libertarians blocking all legislation. We have to get beyond this legislative impasse, or we are just setting ourselves up for failure.

We live in a time when people have become very efficient about polarizing others. By the time people are around 40, they have heard enough propaganda from their religion, political party, or others, supporting their ideology, to believe that the only possibility is that they are absolutely right. They have become totally uncompromising. And this is when most people are absolutely wrong, and it is a major obstacle to resolving problems in efficient ways. But in my experience, hearing this probably won't change anyone - if polarization again leads to a war, that's what will happen because people's minds are closed to any different idea.

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain - quotes from BrainyQuote.com.

Self-radicalizing into Terrorism is a growing problem. Terrorists create very effective propaganda for a group of disenfranchised and disaffected, mostly young adults, who find meaning and purpose in these groups. Since these are often individuals who aren't part of any group, the answer probably lies in counter-propaganda, and an information and assistance campaign that helps people find purposeful activity in their community or in jobs. Yet we seem to lack the will to do even this. The Psychology Of Radicalization: How Terrorist Groups Attract Young Followers - NPR.

Mass shootings in our schools and other public places, are a problem that is rapidly growing. We yell, scream, and cry about it. We hear a lot of empty or propagandizing rhetoric, but nothing constructive happens. Part of the problem is the confusion about the role of guns. The role of guns is very simple. They are very available, they are a popular solution, they are more personal than a bomb, and they enable the death of many, which makes a big public statement.

Knives, on the other hand, are generally a much more personal form of killing, which is usually indicative of a problem between fewer individuals. You can't kill a classroom full of people with a knife. You can't kill a theater full of people with a knife. Guns make it convenient to kill many people at one time. Bombs are a very impersonal tool. Many of the mass shooters, who weren't terrorists, brought bombs with them, or had them in their homes. If they really wanted to create impersonal mass damage, they would have used them. They didn't. It was more personal.

We would love to blame all of this on mental illness. Not only is that not necessarily the problem, the fact is, many people can descend into a long-term rage when the conditions drive them there. It is very common for many personality types to nurse their own rage until they are out of control and do something violent. The intervention of mental health professionals may or may not resolve their personality issues, and it is unlikely to change their circumstances. I'm familiar with many people like this, and used to be a counselor.

Part of the problem is that we tend to shy away from the loners, or those with difficult personalities, who don't fit in our groups or friends list. Many of them have friends that they do fit with, but those friends aren't helpful in rescuing them, or may be feeding their rage. Even if we include them in our group of friends, they may not feel like they fit. This is very common. For example, in colleges, those from poorer backgrounds frequently feel they don't feel they fit with the larger number of students from other backgrounds, and they drop out because they don't feel they fit.

These incidents of mass shooting seem to have reached a critical mass, and are now growing. While they seem to come in waves, they are again on the rise. While we focus on school and theater shootings, what else is going on is a mass shooting of over 4 or more people nearly every day in the US. And inner cities are a major part of that problem. We need to develop the will to resolve this.

We have a growing problem with mass shootings. And even though the number of people owning guns has continuously declined, we have a steadily increasing number of guns. Availability is high. The conventional wisdom is that if people want to kill other people, they will either find a gun, or use some other method. And there is truth there, in that plugging the gun sales laws is not likely to stop access to weapons. Most mass shooters get their weapons from legal owners or through legal methods. So only extremely tight restrictions, or removal of all guns is likely to change this. "Over some dead bodies."

The sad fact is, we own guns "over a lot of dead bodies, many of whom are children." And from the example of the UK and Australia, we don't have compelling reasons to justify gun ownership. They lead to more violence.

For some laughs, if it doesn't make you cry, who is it that decides who are the "responsible gun owners?"

On YouTube.com, you can watch these for hours.

Conclusion

I have given my best effort to just putting the facts out there. These mostly counterbalance the gun enthusiast propaganda, which they continuously shoot out. I tried to find the most unbiased sources, but I won't pretend that all of the sources are unbiased. I will say that the burden of evidence is against guns. We have to decide as a society what we want. Strengthening gun laws and closing loopholes may accomplish some reduction in gun violence, as shown by the statistics that show the rate of violence goes up with guns. Because of freedom of speech and people's desire for privacy, more mental health intervention is only slightly likely, and isn't a cure all, and typically anger is the actual problem. Only the thought police would be able to intrude at this level into our personal lives.

I won't present a false dichotomy of answers that say we must choose between this and that. We have choices. Do we want to follow the recommendations of the NRA and gun lobbyists and become a completely militarized society in which everyone carries a handgun on their hip and goes through regular firearm and self-defense training, and most likely incur even more violence? Do we want to stay as we are with a growing level of violence around us, and people fearing for their children? Do we want to tighten gun regulations, and improve mental health response? Or do we want to disarm our society so that most of the mass killing stops? It's up to us to decide.

Additional material:

Associated article: Guns and the US Constitution. In this article the relevant law and Supreme Court analysis and decisions are thoroughly explained.

Effective in stopping out of control people: Do civilians with guns ever stop mass shootings?

An unarmed patron disarms a guy with an AK 47.

Two Members of U.S. Military Rushed France Train Attacker

In the UK, where the police don't have guns: UK Police subdue a knife wielding man

In the UK, where the police don't have guns: UK Police arrest a drug dealer

A huge international study of gun control finds strong evidence that it actually works

If we could prevent even half of the 30,000 gun deaths each year through some laws that are not overly restrictive, would it be worth doing? Federal gun control laws could reduce deaths up to 90 percent, study says

Weapons that have "assault rifle" appearance were chosen around half of mass shooters. They are symbols and supposedly strike more fear in victims, and they have higher accuracy than handguns. You can get higher capacity magazines for handguns as well, such as the Glock 34.

While the rate of gun associated murders has declined in the US by around 43%, the rate of mass shootings has increased.

A complete ban on guns is not common, and not even necessary. In both England and Australia, gun ownership is still legal, but a permit is required, and a need for it has to be shown. Both of these countries have very low rates of mass killing (like 0).

Some believe that limiting magazine size to 10 or 12 bullets may be better than further regulating guns. But magazines can be changed very quickly, and were in the Orlando shooting.

In the US, we have a geographical patchwork of gun laws, often with weak enforcement, which means that even though guns are restricted in an area, they are still very available. Gun regulation has to be complete or not at all.

Most police officers in Scotland don't carry guns. How do they do it?

New Guiding Principles on Use of Force from the Police Executives Research Forum (PERF)

So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings (4 or more killed) 2017 was similar, and 2018 is so far even worse.

Journal of Criminology. Concealed Handgun Licensing and Crime in Four States

11 myths about the future of gun control, debunked after the Charleston shooting

994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: this is what America's gun crisis looks like

School shootings 1 a week since 2012

Guns disproportionately owned by those prone to angry, impulsive behavior

One map that puts America's gun violence epidemic in perspective The United States owns way, way more guns per capita than the rest of the world.

The right’s big gun lie: Debunking the phony case that more guns will stop crime

States with gun control have fewer gun deaths

We are now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015

Additional references on attitudes and polarization

Tabernacle of Hate: Seduction into Right-Wing Extremism

How Facts Backfire

The Influence of Partisan Motivated Reasoning on Public Opinion

Rumors Have it. New study at MIT

10 things you want to know about human nature if you’re fighting climate change.

When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions - Dartmouth College study on The Backfire Effect (PDF)

Scientific American: More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows. An Armed Home Is Not A Safer Home. The Rarity of Self Defense.