Monday, January 28, 2013

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

You know how people love to make that "I'm completely neutral on gun control but I just wanted to tell you the facts" and then they're all up in one side or the other on gun control?

You're lookin' at the guy who is actually neutral on gun control. I'm just interested in the facts. And you know what? Facts are really hard to find.

Let's take a look, shall we?

Gun control. It's almost as easy to get facts on gun control effectiveness as it is to get facts on education.

About 13,000 people are murdered each year in the US. Mass murders are much more sensational and everyone wants to talk about them but they are statistically irrelevant.

As it turns out, assault rifles are used in a few hundred murders each year in the US. Perhaps under 200 murders (statistics are hard to come by).

Remember how 13,000 are murdered? A lot more people are killed by guns. That's right, a gun is more likely to be used in a suicide than a homicide. And, of course, a huge number more than that are people who are injured by guns.

Still, a relatively insignificant number of these crimes are done with any sort of long guns. These crimes are mostly done with handguns.

My conclusion here is that a ban on assault weapons is almost irrelevant to violent crime reduction. Such a ban might preclude some of the more emotionally affecting mass murders like Columbine or such. But as it is it may be that a simple reduction in maximum magazine size would do the same thing.

If you're opposed to gun control you're probably thinking to yourself "Oh, Drew gets it. He understands."

You couldn't be more wrong. Because here's the other side of that.

A ban on handguns might be vastly more meaningful. Or perhaps a ban on males under the age of 25 having in their possession any weapon. If you could actually enforce such a ban, it could be widely successful in reducing gun violence.

Now, actually making an enforceable ban, that actually works, is another issue entirely.

I'll go ahead and posit that there are three main arguments in the pro-gun camp.

  1. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms so that we can overthrow a tyrannical government.
  2. I like shooting/hunting. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean I should have to stop.
  3. I have the right to self-defense.

So let's look at how a ban on handguns and no further restrictions on assault weapons* or other long guns would affect the above three points.

Second Amendment: A ban on handguns, or a ban on men under the age of 25 having guns, would not affect the first point. If (and that's a big "if") you need to have some sort of armed revolution against a tyrannical government (note that freakin' Algeria had revolution and they have almost no civilian-owned weapons) a handgun ban would be meaningless. So your right to bear arms is in-tact even if you can't own handguns.

Hunting and Shooting: I suppose that there are hunters who like handguns. Most hunters use long guns. And there are pistol target shooters. And a restriction on handguns and/or a restriction on the age of those who may possess such guns would interfere with their hunting and shooting handguns.

Self Defense: If you enjoy reading crazy people on the Internet, see what people have to say about the use of handguns for self-defense. The long and the short of it is that 1) a shotgun is better and 2) your "self defense" weapon is much more likely to be used to kill a family member.

Soon we will look at Executive Orders relating to gun violence and have a 2nd Amendment party.

*Don't argue with me about the term "assault weapon". We're using "assault-weapon ban" language, I'm perfectly cognizant that the differences between an "assault weapon" and other long semi-automatic guns is purely cosmetic.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Just the Worst

Kathryn Bigelow is just the worst.
My new theory is that she's actually too stupid to realize that the non-historical events she added to her movie make the movie justify torture. That's a real possibility.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Known Unknowns and Unknown Knowns

So. Bans on things. Like guns.
What works? What's up with that? What's the purpose? How can it be achieved? What other fallout is there?
Nobody really has any actual data. The Right has fantasies about guns in every hand preventing violence, the soft-Left/liberals have notions that banning certain kinds of guns would have some sort of effect on the murder rate.
Why does my man card need to be reissued? Did it expire? 
The NRA is basically the soft-hearted liberals fantasy of a gun's rights organization. I mean, they're nuts. But in my opinion the biggest damage they've done is to prevent any research at the Federal level on gun violence. Which is why nobody can get any real numbers. About anything.
And that may indeed change.
If it does we might discover some unfortunate things. Like that black assault-y-looking guns actually do attract people who want to shoot up a school. Or that stop-and-frisk saves lives. Or that neither do. Or that one or the other. Or something else.
But until we're allowed to have some non-nonsense analysis it's very hard to tell what will work.
In the meantime the NRA likes to pretend it does a great job for gun rights. Right now it's doing a great job at frightening moderates. And that's not good for gun rights.
For the longest time the NRA blamed "diversity" in American society for the outsized amount of violence in the US compared to other similar countries. In Bowling For Columbine Charlton Heston even starts to say that, and then he makes a face and corrects himself. Luckily for us even he realized what kind of dopiness that was.
The comparison between the US and Canada is very interesting. Just as Michael Moore began exploring that comparison he bailed out. It was a very interesting disconnect in the movie. Why does Canada have so many fewer murders per capita?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Guns and Money

So, apparently money does buy happiness. Unfortunately it's on a log scale.
Do you like things which are difficult to parse? Try this Washington Post table on gun violence. The column that's obviously missing is the total homicides per capita. Plus, to my eye (which does not automatically apply any sort of standard deviation analysis) there's no correlation that can be drawn. The numbers are just all over the place.
Why O! Why can't we get real statistics with, you know, actual analysis?
(Also, is Puerto Rico in the United States or not?)
Here, then, is a squirrel.