Nations Agenda™ - Constructive Political Thought
Informative articles and commentaries on politics, economics, and climate change
Millennials, Seize the Future or Lose It All Coming in January: The Future Project
Add: A huge international study of gun control finds strong evidence that it actually works http://www.vox.com/2016/2/29/11120184/gun-control-study-international-evidence Add: 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 http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2016/0311/Federal-gun-control-laws-could-reduce-deaths-up-to-90-percent-study-says?cmpid=FB More: 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. We have mass shootings of 3 or more people every day in the US in high crime areas, so those statistics should be separate from the mass shooter phenomenon of terrorists and highly pissed off people who plan their killing spree. While the rate of gun associated murders has declined in the US by around 43%, the rate of mass shootings has The number of people owning guns has declined in the US, while individual gun owners own way more guns. We still have the highest per capita rate of gun ownership of anywhere in the world. The association between banning weapons and mass killings isn't clear, although you could say they increase with availability of weapons. "...there were 19 mass shootings between 1982 and the time the assault weapons ban was put into place in 1994. From 1994 until 2004, when the ban expired, there was a similar amount of mass shootings — 16 — but there were nine in 1999 alone. What is striking is that in the eight years since this ban expired, there have been 27 shootings in the United States." So we have gone from 1.6 a year to 3.4 a year. 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? http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-07-08/most-police-officers-scotland-dont-carry-guns-how-do-they-do-it New Guiding Principles on Use of Force from the Police Executives Research Forum (PERF) http://www.policeforum.org/assets/guidingprinciples1.pdf
 
Dorian's Corner - Commentaries / Opinions
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 2003 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
  • Guns are usually ineffective, but unarmed individuals can be effective
  • 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

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution: "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."

All debates about guns are in the shadow of this Amendment. If people don't want guns, then they have to change this Amendment or find a way around it. The Supreme Court has interpreted this amendment to permit individuals to own guns. That's the upheld law of the land. However, the sawed-off shotgun did not stand as a legal weapon, essentially because it was the weapon of choice in robberies. Neither did automatic weapons, which were notoriously used by criminal gangs in the 1930s.

The court has upheld bans for juvenile ownership, government property, concealed carry without a license, checks for criminal records before sales, and doesn't interfere when individual businesses ban guns on their premises. Cities have not had any luck with the court in banning guns within their boundaries. The legislative ban on assault weapons, which serve no useful purpose in public ownership, did not survive long-term in Congress. The strength of the gun lobby and NRA, as opposed to public outcry, and the lack of definition for assault weapons, was the likely reason.

The Second Amendment was introduced at a time when people carried muzzle loading muskets that required tamping of gun powder, lead shot, and a wad down the barrel of a gun, and then striking flint to ignite the powder. It was killing in slow motion. Armies had cannons. The idea of a semi-automatic, automatic weapon, or magazine full of bullets, was not even on the drawing board. The well regulated militia part of the Amendment was about the States' ability to defend themselves, and the National Guard in each state fulfills that function.

What about individuals' right to gun ownership? In those days, much of the nation had very loose law enforcement, criminals could literally get away with murder, and people had to protect themselves against bears, bobcats, tigers, marauders, and sometimes Native Americans. To do that, they had to load a musket. Thus we have "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms."

The question we have to ask is, "Do we still have the need for individuals to own guns, or should there be further restrictions that protect the US public from harm caused by guns?" Does one need outbalance the other? This article should provide some good information.

As a practical matter, it would be very difficult at the current time to get legislation through Congress to restrict gun ownership or to change the Second Amendment. The current body of Congress is biased against creating any legislation because it wants small government and non-interference in the public sector. The NRA has a strong lobby, and you can't ignore the power of money in Congressional votes. Most of the individuals in Congress are gerrymandered in by districts that each member has tailored to an agenda, and as long as the Congressman votes the way they and the donors want, he is safe from removal. Any vote on gun regulation would require a 2/3 vote to pass the Senate, which is a steep climb. Congress as a body doesn't respond to what the general public wants - it doesn't have to for individuals to stay in power; in fact responding to the general public's desires is a good way to get removed from Congress. Change at the current time is unlikely.

My cynicism of government may not be the last word. According to this Guardian article, change is possible: Gun control would never pass Congress. "A majority of US senators voted for a package of gun control measures only two years ago. The 54 who backed the bill, which was written by Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin, included three other Republicans. But when four Democrats got cold feet about their electoral chances in the midterms, the legislation fell short of the 60 votes it needed to prevent a filibuster. Heading into the 2016 election, however, there are many more moderate Republican seats up for grabs – and a meaningful opportunity for Democrats to take back control of the Senate. A successful bipartisan Senate bill and more persuasive president could be enough to encourage a future House speaker to allow a vote, too, or at the very least put pressure on the Republican-controlled House."

But I'll repeat the questions: "Do we still have the need for individuals to own guns, or should there be further restrictions that protect the US public from harm caused by guns? Does one need outbalance the other?"

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

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.

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 be of any 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. 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.

Most shootings of 1 to 3 people occur in violent pockets in inner cities. People in suburbs and rural areas rarely ever see this kind of violence, and gun ownership is dropping in our larger society. People in pockets in inner cities have very low employment rates, can't find jobs, and feel hopeless. They have no sense of purpose for their lives. Their rage is against the larger society that seems to ignore them, or even keep them in this situation, but their violence is usually inflicted on people in their own neighborhoods. Solve the jobs problem and this will start to go away.

People who become terrorists, even if they are Catholic and the terrorist religion is Muslim, who are often frustrated by their own sense of failure in their lives, and their isolation from others, usually get indoctrinated with propaganda that speaks loudly about perceived injustice to a group of people or religion. They sometimes are immigrants who have never fit in because their culture is different and they can't find a good fit or acceptance. They become emotionally involved, they gain a sense of meaning and purpose, and the rage builds as no solution is at hand. They get indoctrinated with violence propaganda and a cause that seems to be an outlet for their rage. At some point they join a terrorist group or do an independent action, often triggered by yet another perceived injustice. Publicity also gives their rage a purpose: public outcry.

Mass shooters are often people with no sense of significant meaning and purpose in their lives. Even though they are among others on a daily basis, they don't feel part of any group of people. They feel isolated. One or more events may push them into a darker place where they feel more isolated and feel that society does not care about them, nor do other individuals. Publicity for their feelings of being brushed aside by society is an end goal, that is relieved through the plotting and carrying out of some violent action that speaks loudly to others. They often announce their plans to others ahead of the event, through friends or social media. The difficulty with identifying these people is that it would require intrusive monitoring of social media sites and reporting by friends who are ill equipped to judge others' mental states.

Some of these above people have been in the care of mental health professionals. Others don't necessarily have any mental problems other than feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and lack of purpose. Many housewives have the same feelings, and they don't do mass shootings. So do many retired people. So do many who are poor.

If you want to know how relatively normal people can slip into this mindset, read an insider's description of how a faith based group with high moral intentions, isolated themselves, were exposed to propaganda, felt the world was against them, came to hate the world, militarized to defend themselves against a US invasion, some killed others during robberies, and plotted terrorist actions, like the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, to spark a final end of the world conflict (Armageddon). Tabernacle of Hate: Seduction into Right-Wing Extremism (Religion and Politics). We have a lot of the same crap going on today. The KKK is one example. There are many militia groups who have similar feelings. Oddly, in some parts of the US, the KKK is being portrayed in almost glowing terms in textbooks, while slavery seems to be purposely downplayed.

These aren't really new problems. Frustration ending in violence is an old phenomenon. "Angry young men" is a term that hails from the 1950s, in literature about disaffected young men. There have always been people who have joined foreign militaries to escape normal society, or find a cause and purpose, and even escape the need to find a purpose, by joining a group that tells them what to do. What is not common is that these incidents seem to have reached a critical mass. When things reach critical mass, the minimum amount of something required to maintain something, it becomes a persistent thing.

Many try to lump all of the gun violence together and draw conclusions from that. There are similarities, but this hides the real problems. For example, small pockets of violence in inner cities, which highly skews the statistics, need to be considered separately, and the large cities where they are located shouldn't be considered as part of other statistics. Inner city violence is its own problem and has its own cures.

Some try to say that all mass shooters are mentally ill. Obviously they must be mentally ill to do such things. This is a distortion. And, there are so many people in today's society that are polarized on issues, and insanely irrational in their defense of their views, that they could be defined as just as mentally ill as mass shooters. They are polarized to the extreme that they can't even make civilized conversation without getting angry and throwing personal insults.

“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

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 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

The following are real life examples that indicate real people usually screw it up royally.

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?

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 disproportionately owned by those prone to angry, impulsive behavior.

The only thing that stops a bad guy?

Do those with weapons stop mass shooters? No. 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." Hmmm.

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

You have to watch this one - this is the best:

ABC News, Concealed Carry Is A Dangerous Joke And This Video Proves It (video)

No one is an expert more than combat veterans. What do they have to say?

Combat Veterans: NRA’s "Good Guy With A Gun" Nonsense Is A ‘Dangerous Fantasy

Do shooters even avoid places that have guns? No.

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.”

Is there a relationship between the number of guns and the amount of violence? Yes, but violence goes up with guns.

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

States with tough gun laws have fewer shooting deaths: study

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

Gun murders nationally per 100,000 residents

Are we generally more at risk with the higher presence of guns?

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

Guns are often ineffective, but unarmed individuals can be effective

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

The above links are anecdotal, and don't make a compelling case for not using guns. One method of self defense is not always better than another. A woman in a rural area had a shotgun in her room when 3 armed intruders entered her home. Very dangerous. She killed them. Would martial arts have won in this situation? Probably not. But on balance, for the average individual, the choice of permanently living with a gun that might be misused, might be taken away, and might be out of reach, and is more likely to harm the owner than defend him, and martial arts which are immediately available, martial arts may be the better choice.

There is a strong bias among some in the gun community against martial arts. They make fun of it as pinky finger moves, as if that isn't effective. Generally if you are robbed or attacked, the element of surprise is what the attacker uses to get to you. You don't have time to mess around with a gun, and the likelihood is, in close proximity, the attacker may take the gun away from you, just as they sometimes do to the police. The objective is generally to get away, not win the match or shoot someone.

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

Most Americans support gun restrictions

Comment: What gun enthusiasts want is for every citizen to be armed with a handgun displayed on their hip, and highly trained. To them, we are going to have to decide whether we want to live with the danger of guns, or everyone to be militarized. Which US do we want?

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 offences. 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 innocent 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. 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 in St. Louis.

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. I was taught martial arts in the Navy by a Marine Sergeant: Black Arts. I don't put any stock in being a "tough guy," and don't want the reputation or encounters. But all you have to do with martial arts is do it immediately, and while the bad guy may shoot you, the odds are he will likely leave dead while you will go to the hospital and survive. But 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 replace, 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.

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 won't pretend that all of the sources are unbiased, but 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 often isn't even the 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 links

So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings (4 or more killed)

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)