Is an armed society a safe society?

Summary: As the gun lobby moves from the expanding the right to concealed carry to the open carry of guns, let’s examine the stories about guns that so many believe. This is one of the beliefs that form the foundation of the New America being built by Republicans on the ruins of the America-that-once-was, overturning a century of gun laws. This is an expanded and revised post from the archives. Enjoy the comments, evidence that we’re in ClownWorld.

Woman-with-gun-Dreamstime-14755035
© Jason Stitt | Dreamstime.

Contents

  1. Robert Heinlein’s most powerful insight.
  2. The logic of carrying guns in civil society.
  3. What about life on the frontier?
  4. But the polite Swiss have all those guns!
  5. Research tells the tale.
  6. Another idea from Robert Heinlein.
  7. For More Information.
  8. Some interesting books about guns.

(1)  Heinlein’s most powerful insight.

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”
— From Robert Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon (1942).

In books such as The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1965), Robert Heinlein sketched out entertaining yet ludicrously improbable worlds. His stories played a formative role in the rise of the libertarian movement, perhaps more so than the novels of Ayn Rand. Heinlein’s stories were more widely read than Rand’s, and even more often read in full. Libertarianism might be the first political movement based more in fiction and false predictions rather than history and experience.

Beyond this Horizon
Available at Amazon.

Perhaps Heinlein’s greatest impact came from his deeply held belief that “an armed society is a polite society.” He discusses this often in his correspondence. He first explicitly stated it in his 1942 novel Beyond This Horizon, where (male) citizens routinely and openly carry guns. In his 1949 novel, Red Planet, children come of age in their early teens when they pass the licensing tests for open carry of guns. Heinlein, as usual, was ahead of his time: both boys and girls carried guns.

Heinlein’s myths valorize individual autonomy and power, both symbolized by the open carry of guns. It would have been equally realistic to have his characters sprout wings and fly. History and the present give us many examples of societies with common open carry of weapons (blades, guns, etc.). They usually have high levels of violence, strong groups dominating weaker groups. Open carry is both a result of this instability and contributes to it. In these societies, safety for the individual comes from membership in a group (e.g., gangs or clan) – not from being a bold free armed individualist.

Even well-organized societies often find it difficult to maintain order amidst widespread carrying of weapons. Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (see the great film: part one and part two) is based on memoirs of d’Artagnan, Capitaine-Lieutenant des Mousquetaires. He describes an early 17thC Paris flowing with the blood of frequent and senseless duels – and careless theft by armed men.

Armed societies often have duels, as men’s reputations depend on their ability and willingness to fight. Alexander Hamilton, one of the greatest of the Founders, died in a duel. We see this in the real history of our Wild West (more on this below). We see this today around the world. In America’s inner cities (which our government cannot regulate), dissing a young man often threatens the reputation that keeps him safe – provoking violence. The extreme examples are ungoverned areas of failed or weak states such as Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Heinlein’s stories are great fiction. That so many people take them seriously is sad and disturbing. See these for more about libertarians.

  • To see a pure form of libertarianism in action, read the fascinating history of the “Dark Leviathan” by Henry Farrell: “The Silk Road might have started as a libertarian experiment, but it was doomed to end as a fiefdom run by pirate kings.”  Or look at Somalia.
  • See the best post ever about Libertarianism: “If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride – A Pony!“ at John & Belle Have a Blog (2004).

“A few anecdotes and a good just-so story outweigh a hundred historical counter-examples.”
— From David Brin’s review of Beyond This Horizon at the Tor/Forge Blog.

John Lennon's bloody glasses
John Lennon’s glasses. By Yoko Ono.

(2)  Why carry guns in a civil society?

“You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”
Fake quote attributed to Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Imperial Japanese Fleet in WWII.

I recommend reading “The Freedom of an Armed Society” by Firmin DeBrabander (Prof Philosophy, Maryland Institute College of Art; website here), an op-ed in the New York Times from 2012. Excerpt…

“This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly – not make any sudden, unexpected moves – and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

“As our Constitution provides, however, liberty entails precisely the freedom to be reckless, within limits, also the freedom to insult and offend as the case may be. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld our right to experiment in offensive language and ideas, and in some cases, offensive action and speech. Such experimentation is inherent to our freedom as such. But guns by their nature do not mix with this experiment – they don’t mix with taking offense. They are combustible ingredients in assembly and speech.

“I often think of the armed protestor who showed up to one of the famously raucous town hall hearings on Obamacare in the summer of 2009. The media was very worked up over this man, who bore a sign that invoked a famous quote of Thomas Jefferson, accusing the president of tyranny. But no one engaged him at the protest; no one dared approach him even, for discussion or debate – though this was a town hall meeting, intended for just such purposes. Such is the effect of guns on speech – and assembly. Like it or not, they transform the bearer, and end the conversation in some fundamental way. They announce that the conversation is not completely unbounded, unfettered and free; there is or can be a limit to negotiation and debate – definitively.

“The very power and possibility of free speech and assembly rests on their non-violence. The power of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as the Arab Spring protests, stemmed precisely from their non-violent nature. This power was made evident by the ferocity of government response to the Occupy movement. Occupy protestors across the country were increasingly confronted by police in military style garb and affect.

“Imagine what this would have looked like had the protestors been armed: in the face of the New York Police Department assault on Zuccotti Park, there might have been armed insurrection in the streets. The non-violent nature of protest in this country ensures that it can occur.”

That was written in the simpler times of 2012, when protests were the street parties of Occupy and the Tea Party. Now we might be in the early stages of accelerating political violence. The abundance of guns in America might make this much worse.

Dodge City, 1879.
A photo of the real Dodge City, 1879.

(3) What about life on the frontier?

The Wild West was a great place to live – as described in John Wayne’s films and Louis L’Amour’s stories (my favorite is The Daybreakers). Unfortunately, western fiction is no more realistic than science fiction.

Many cities instituted tight regulations to reduce the carnage from an armed open carry society — as in the photo above from Dodge City. They did so because most of the Wild West was a lawless horror show. Predatory gangs (often in the employ of cattle “barons”) dominated vast areas. For example, the wonderful John Wayne film “Chisum” is a prettified version of the Lincoln County War. In reality, the bad guys won. As they often did. (More details here about guns in the Wild West.)

For some facts about this lost history, masked by myths, see Myth-busting about gun use in the Wild West.

America provided a cautionary example for Canada. They ensured that the Mounties would maintain order as their frontier developed.

Guns in Switzerland

(4)  But all those polite Swiss have guns at home!

Most men in Switzerland are in the militia from ages 20 to 30. They keep their rifles at home. But they do not have ammo at home; it is kept in government armories – a detail which far-right propaganda seldom mentions. They can buy their guns after their service ends.

Switzerland has strict gun registration plus tight controls on sales of gun and ammo – all of which are more comprehensive and thoroughly enforced than in the US. Concealed carry permits are rarely issued. Open carry of loaded weapons is illegal, with the obvious exceptions (e.g.hunting). Open carry of unloaded guns must meet strict criteria.

See the Wikipedia entry – and its supporting links – for more information about guns in Switzerland.

The Story of Omaha lynching
Justice by armed citizens: The Omaha lynching.

(5)  Research tells the tale about guns.

There is a large body of research showing that an armed society is a violent society. For example: “The ‘weapons effect’” by Brad J. Bushman (Prof of Communication & Psychology at Ohio State U) in Psychology Today, 18 January 2013 — “Research shows that the mere presence of weapons increases aggression.” See the references at the end of his article.

Also, see “Is an armed society a polite society? Guns and road rage” by David Hemenway et al. in Accident Analysis & Prevention, July 2006 — Abstract…

“While concerns about road rage have grown over the past decade, states have made it easier for motorists to carry firearms in their vehicles. Are motorists with guns in the car more or less likely to engage in hostile and aggressive behavior? Data come from a 2004 national random digit dial survey of over 2400 licensed drivers. Respondents were asked whether, in the past year, they…

  • made obscene or rude gestures at another motorist,
  • aggressively followed another vehicle too closely, and
  • were victims of such hostile behaviors.

“17% admitted making obscene or rude gestures, and 9% had aggressively followed too closely. 46% reported victimization by each of these behaviors in the past year. Males, young adults, binge drinkers, those who do not believe most people can be trusted, those ever arrested for a non-traffic violation, and motorists who had been in a vehicle in which there was a gun were more likely to engage in such forms of road rage.  Similar to a survey of Arizona motorists, in our survey, riding with a firearm in the vehicle was a marker for aggressive and dangerous driver behavior.”

For surveys of the research about guns, with summaries and links, see these posts…

  1. Guns do not make us safer. Why is this not obvious?
  2. Do guns make us more safe, or less? Let’s look at the research.
  3. The number of children killed by guns in America makes us exceptional, not better.

Robert Heinlein

(6)  Another idea from Robert Heinlein

Heinlein’s fans on the far-right consider him to be a sage when writing about guns and libertarian ideology. But they seldom mention this quote from Beyond This Horizon about political values.

“Naturally food is free! What kind of people do you take us for?”

(7)  For More information.

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about gun violence and regulation, and especially these about Robert Heinlein…

  1. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped, and what we can learn from this — Heinlein saw the USSR’s weakness 3 decades before the CIA.
  2. We live in the crazy years, but can choose a different destiny for ourselves and our children.
  3. How does The Hunger Games compare to other classic stories of children fighting children? — About Tunnel in the Sky.
  4. We are living in the crazy years AND Fahrenheit 451 — About Heinlein’s future history stories, published as The Past through Tomorrow.

(8) Interesting books about guns

See reviews of these books: Don’t just mourn. Remember what we know about guns.

For something different, see Living with Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment by Craig Whitney (2012).

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture
Available at Amazon.
"Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment" by Craig Whitney.
Available at Amazon.

76 thoughts on “Is an armed society a safe society?

  1. There is a heartbreaking article in Rolling Stone about our gun mania. It connected it to rural suicides, and there were a number of quotes from lonely, hurting, isolated men who all said the same thing: “What if I secure my (many) guns, and I can’t get one in time if someone comes for me?”

    All of them lived over a mile away from anybody else.

    All-American Despair” by Stephen Rodrick in Rolling Stone – “For the past two decades, a suicide epidemic fueled by guns, poverty and isolation has swept across the West, with middle-aged men dying in record numbers.”

    “Once, Kevin disappeared for 24 hours during the winter. He returned with facial bruises and a broken arm. Emily begged him to get help. ‘I can’t, they’ll take my guns,’ he responded.”

    1. SF,

      Thank you for the pointer to that interesting article. But it is a bit odd. Structurally, it is exactly like the articles published by the NRA and other pro-gun outfits. Heart-rending stories, a few (very few) numbers, no broader context.

      NRA stories are about people using guns to defend themselves, often women and the elderly. They are well-written, and make readers want to cheer the heroic defenders. They have horrific, carefully curated numbers – devoid of context.

      The RS has stories about suicides. Like Kevin, who came from a screwed-up home, was violent from childhood, was a violent alcoholic as an adult – and had long-standing mental problems. Like the NRA’s stories, RS gives a smattering of no-context numbers to channel the story to suit their political needs.

      The RS story seems to be about inadequate health care facilities in rural America, not guns. In Kevin’s case, mental health facilities (although I’m skeptical about their ability to help people like Kevin). But far more frequent are horrific stories from lack of basic health services. I live in a city in Iowa, and there is a shortage of doctors. We had to search to find one accepting new patients. In rural Iowa (let alone Wyoming) the problem is far worse.

      This is nuts in a nation in which so many young people want to – and have the skills – to become doctors. It is purely an engineered shortage, designed to keep prices high. It is one of the endless symptoms of a society in senescence, too rigid to fix even problems that are easy, serious, and obvious.

      1. Your points about the article are fair, that’s the kind of thing I come here for even if I do not share many of your views.

        As for rural health issues, I agree completely. There would of course be challenges in any case simply from spacial issues, even with generous subsidies. But it seems we don’t even have the subsidies. Our health system is a racket, but it’s a racket with a hundred million victims who defend it nonetheless.

      2. Well done, Larry. Like you, I was an Eagle Scout and read Heinlein until the covers came off (and then I taped the covers back on and read them some more). Sadly, Heinlein’s stories that involved his Rand-like leanings had far too strong an effect on me for too long.

        Eventually I came to the same realization you did about Switzerland but wasn’t smart enough to share it with the rest of the world. I’m currently not pro- or anti-gun, I’m pro-common sense, which most pro-gun people seem to mistake for anti-gun positions. The anti-gun people at least seem to be more willing to talk with me.

        I should also mention that I don’t currently own a gun because I don’t hunt and I wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger on an intruder (I’m a terrible shot at 2:00 AM and am too likely to hit the wrong person) combined with information from a study that I can no longer find (argh!) from the early 1990’s (I think) that owning a gun makes you slightly more likely to be a target of a break-in (the criminals want to get your gun while you’re away from home).

      3. Pluto,

        Thanks for sharing your background! I have considerable experience firing small arms, and a little with rifles. I used to shoot 100 rounds per week. It was fun for a while, but I got bored with it. I was never interested in hunting.

        I never considered having a weapon at home. We have what might be an effective defense: having little to steal. Our largest home asset is our 14 well-stocked bookcases (one-third hardcovers, nothing valuable).

  2. With respect, you are missing the point about ownership by a mile. Unregulated civilian gun ownership is the one and only guarantee of all your civil rights. You can indulge in hypothetical and philosophical rhetoric as much as you like from the safety and comfort of the USA. Go and actually live in any of the oppressive tinpot dictatorships of the world for a reality check.

    1. GD,

      “Unregulated civilian gun ownership is the one and only guarantee of all your civil rights.”

      That’s obviously false, as shown by two facts.

      First, no other democratic society has unregulated gun ownership. Most have highly regulated gun ownership. Some prohibit gun ownership. They have as many or (since 9/11) more civil rights than we do.

      Second – for a century or so, America had regulated gun ownership. In the Wild West, towns usually had more gun regulations than we have today. Yet our rights were preserved. The deregulation of guns has occurred along with a severe loss of rights during the past two decades.

  3. Really depends if the group is high-trust law-abiding or not or is in contact with hostile groups or not. That is what really determines how it goes.

    1. info,

      I don’t understand your statement. In what low-trust societies, now or past, has weapons ownership produced net social benefits?

      “or is in contact with hostile groups or not.”

      Examples?

      1. “I don’t understand your statement. In what low-trust societies, now or past, has weapons ownership produced net social benefits?”

        It doesn’t. That specific statement is neither for or against that argument. An armed low-trust society is demonstrated in the ghettos.

        Whilst highly armed conservative places which as cited as good examples of gun ownership are peaceful because of their high-trust nature. Due to intact families, healthy communities and morals aren’t inclined to abuse such weapons. It only provides the bonus of such communities being able to have a chance and potential to protect themselves against hostile groups.

        And of course contacting hostile groups will definitely result in conflict.

    1. Dasui,

      In what way is that a rational response? Mexican cities chlorinate their water. Does that mean we should no do so?

      Gun regulations are not magic bullets. They don’t make third world nations or failing states into safe and prosperous lands. But the evidence is clear that the help make stable societies safer.

      1. “But the evidence is clear that the help make stable societies safer.”

        Happen to have any such clear evidence? If so you might want to notify the CDC who have concluded that there is no clear evidence for positive effects of any gun regulation to date. On the contrary the bulk of evidence suggests that that gun regulations have no effect on violence levels in stable societies. I’ve reviewed some of it here before (e.g. draconian gun regulations, including outright bans on all handguns) were passed in the last few decades in Great Britain, Australia, and Jamaica. The main effect seems to be a short-term spike in the homicide rate immediately after the ban, followed by a return to the same level before the ban. In fact, Great Britain has seen its homicide rate surge since the post-Dunblane laws were implemented).

        The Czech Republic has very lax gun regulations, in many was looser than here (e.g. unrestricted civilian ownership of fully-automatic weapons). Please go look up the crime rate for the Czech Republic and report back here what you find. I’m sure it will add to your giant stack of “clear evidence.”

        You’ve been predicting blood in the streets as a result of concealed carry / open carry for a while now, Larry. Although it’s hard to concentrate here with all the sounds of running gun battles between motorists and dueling aristocrats outside my window, I will note that the fraction of American adults possessing concealed carry permits has quadrupled since the mid 90’s. Can you hazard a guess as to what happened to the homicide rate over that period? Did it A. Increase, B. Stay the same or C. Decrease? I’ll give you three guesses but don’t worry, the first two don’t count.

        Cheers.

      2. phageghost,

        “Happen to have any such clear evidence?”

        You should at least pretend to have read the posts.

        “the CDC who have concluded that there is no clear evidence for positive effects of any gun regulation to date.”

        Can you give a citation? Esp the meaning of “to date”. In 1995 – almost a quarter century ago – Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, which in effect halted CDC research into gun violence.

      3. Larry,

        I gave the citation and a direct quote from the CDC the last time you popped up with this same rap. Rebutting this stuff is fun but I do have a day job. And it’s like whack-a-mole. As soon as one point is addressed you return with a non-sequitur about something else.

        Let’s review the clear evidence you give in this post, on the basis of which you and your fellow idealogues propose to discard one of the core fundamental freedoms enshrined in the bill of rights:
        * A discussion of a Science Fiction novel
        * Noting that Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel
        * Citations to some opinion pieces about how libertarianism is bad
        * An op-ed by a philosophy professor
        * Discussions of John Wayne films
        * Clarifications of Switzerland’s gun laws
        * A psych today piece that attempts to summarize some psychological research about aggression and being able to see weapons (this actually helps support the case for concealed carry lol), but misreports the findings of the Hemenway 2006 study which comprises your next item.
        * A David Hemenway study doing a multiple regression on the results of a phone poll that tells us that the same kind of people who follow other drivers and flip them off are also the same kind of people who drive around with a gun in their car — basically low conscientiousness. Note that it did not tell us anything about whether or not having a gun in a car makes the same person more likely to follow people and flip them off, which I shouldn’t have to explain to you but your normally strong quantitative reasoning skills seem to have a bit of a blind spot on this topic. Also note that David Hemenway has authored about 90 % of all gun research papers — he and his students crank these little studies out on an assembly line with the stated explicit goal of generating support for more gun control. By themselves they’re OK, but they’re designed to get the attention of the lay press which can then inflate the findings beyond what the science supports (much like AGW activists). But, with those caveats in mind, The overlap between these two categories of people does argue against legitimizing vehicular carry, just not particularly strongly.
        * A Heinlein quote.

        Really, this is your disposition of forces? I know you’re capable of better, but I think you suffer from being a bit of a tourist on this topic.

        Here’s the fundamental problem: you and your fellow travelers have a theory, namely that increasing gun control will reduce crime rates, or at least the murder rate. The gold standard test of a theory is its ability to make predictions. You’ve predicted here that increasing carry would lead to increases in aggression and murder rates. It’s been a few years now since you started sounding that alarm. Not only have you failed to provide any examples of successful predictions, I’ve given you several counter-examples (both longitudinally over time) and across space (within Europe) where your theory has completely failed in its predictive power.

        These counter-examples don’t seem to bother you. They should. Even a single counter-example should bother you.

        Now if you want to argue that the proponents of concealed carry / open carry have likewise failed to sufficiently support their theory that increasing carry reduces crime I would wholeheartedly agree. From everything I’ve seen we cannot reject the null in favor of either alternative.

    2. Artículo 10. Los habitantes de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos tienen derecho a poseer armas en su domicilio, para su seguridad y legítima defensa, con excepción de las prohibidas por la Ley Federal y de las reservadas para el uso exclusivo del Ejército, Armada, Fuerza Aérea y Guardia Nacional. La ley federal determinará los casos, condiciones, requisitos y lugares en que se podrá autorizar a los habitantes la portación de armas.

      Sounds pretty reasonable to me. If it could be enforced.

      Per Google Translate:

      “The inhabitants of the United Mexican States have the right to possess arms in their home, for their security and self-defense, with the exception of those prohibited by Federal Law and those reserved for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard. . The federal law will determine the cases, conditions, requirements and places in which the inhabitants can be authorized to carry weapons.”

      1. Rando,

        It means nothing without specifying what the enabling Federal laws are. The US had a consensus about that for over a century, which worked well. It was overturned by Republicans.

  4. The availability and ownership of guns do not make for carnage. Criminals are the problem. Regulate criminals and you can regulate guns later. But, then you would not need to. Societies problems are the direct result of individual criminal or irresponsible behavior. Problems with guns are the same. Suicide has no place in the discussion. The flawed logic that suicide declines with the availability of guns restricted does not stand up to scrutiny.
    I have spent long periods of time around thousands or armed men. They did not shoot each other.

    1. Douglas,

      “The availability and ownership of guns do not make for carnage.”

      The numbers disagree with you.

      “I have spent long periods of time around thousands or armed men. They did not shoot each other.”

      Annecdata at its finest. Can we consult you on aspects of public policy, being guided by your personal experience?

      Also, would they tell you if they used guns in a threatening manner? “Doug, you should have been at that argument. I showed him my gun and that shut him up! Illegal as hell, but effective.”

    2. Go look at the list of suspects for shootings over a nice holiday weekend in Chicago sometime. The vast majority are predicate felons with rap sheets a mile long, many of them for violent felonies. Call me crazy but maybe if these people were in prison instead of being released back into the wild, the children of Chicago’s South Side might be subjected to less cases of acute lead poisoning.

      1. phageghost,

        “maybe if these people were in prison instead of being released back into the wild”

        That’s quite a daft comment. Gun regs are not magic bullets that solve all social problems and make all other law and actions unnecessary.

        “Call me crazy”

        No need to.

      2. LOL, no, but my point is that preventing (multiple) felons from running wild on your streets is not only a lot easier to do (stop releasing them so quickly) than attempting to disarm the inner cities by going after rural white guys, but it’s also likely to be a lot more effective.

    1. John,

      I see that you are unclear about this whole “democracy” thing. It is a sign of deep wing-nuttery to consider taxes enacted by elected officials to be “confiscation by force.”

      1. ::::: ignoring insulting feeble smear for the moment :::::

        I am aware of the democracy thing. It means the dictatorship of the demos (majority), even if politely squashed in by a sham legislative.

        I prefer freedom to the collectivism of democracy.

      2. John,

        Somalia is open to immigration, as are the many similar states that offer “freedom” as the alternative to democracy.

        Meanwhile, the citizens of America will carry on despite those like you among us.

  5. Great article and fascinating discussion in the comments. Your case for gun regulation makes sense, but then I am a responsible gun owner. Trusting people to be responsible in the ownership of firearms is difficult, the consequences of misplaced trust can be deadly. Better, I think, to make people earn trust before we let them own gun. Just my opinion.

    You mentioned the different experience that we in Canada had with the settlement of the West. It’s true, the mounties did a superb job of keeping law and order out here. It was a hard won peace. Check out the history of the suppression of the whiskey traders (Fort Whoop-up) and the Northwest Rebellion.

    1. Raymond,

      “Better, I think, to make people earn trust before we let them own gun.”

      Thank you for sharing. I’m uncertain what that would mean in practice. Can you tell us a bit more?

      “It’s true, the mounties did a superb job of keeping law and order out here. It was a hard won peace.”

      Peace is always “hard won.” That’s why it is too rare in history.

  6. Your post really made me stop and think for a moment.

    While I was a Mike Gravel style Democrat until 2015, (now right Libertarian) the issue is really an emotional, not a logical public policy issue in my circle.

    Big fan of Heinlein and I first read Ayn Rands works in their entirety when I was 16. Like you I am also a Scouter, eventually I earned Eagle Scout.

    The Govt is too big. There is a long, recent history of abuse from the Waco/Ruby Ridge to the Orwellian named Patriot Act to Obama’s US citizen assassinations to Trump’s imbecilic orders to the de facto Praetorian Guard trying to remove him from office.

    Private gun ownership is viewed as a last line of defense against tyranny both from the govt and our so called fellow Americans.

    I was lucky enough to visit China in the early 2000’s b/c of my dad’s work. The highlight of the trip was when the Communist goons kidnapped and nearly beat to death a guy while holding my family at machine gun point b/c he didn’t have a permit to sell water bottles in the 100+ degree polluted summer smog.

    Half my family is descended from ethnic Jewish, Christian converts who came here in the 1930s from Europe. The lettering of my last name was changed to hide our Jewish ancestry after a Pogrom over a 100 years ago. 1/3 of the East European branch of my family was g massacred by their govts during WW2 plus the Communists genocides.

    In my high school they had to staff the 9th grade girls church charity bake sales with the campus police b/c the campus LGBT activists would form a mob to terrorize the children merely for running a Christian charity. The teachers ignored and even celebrated the bullying while running a campaign to stop antigay bullying. That was my first run in with the self-victimization craze.

    I grew up in one of the few remaining and declining, white flight suburb communities. Rich white progressives in the worst sense.

    The school had to pull in 40+ off duty cops to control the football hooligans. mayhem when we played football games with the minority schools. I stopped attending the games after I was chased around my school parking lot with a baseball bat and three of my friends got sent to the hospital, one with his skull partially caved in with a brick. All for no reason other than our skin was white. I worry about what might happen in some kind of disaster situation.

    My high school class had enough hard leftists that there was competing Trotskyist and Mqoist Communist Party cadres and one of my peers was a Holocaust denying, Said fanboy Islamist.

    My mandatory liberal arts courses were pure indoctrination. My Oceanography class spent more time forcing us to memorize Al Gore’s talking points than looking at oceanography.

    The worst was a Feminist run ethnomusicology class. The harpy tried to frame her female students for fake honor code violations just for trying to debate with her. The Male students were too afraid to speak out. Grades were dependent on repeating the PC party line and Male students were automatically given a letter grade lower for their gender. I stuck to my engineering classes as much as possible.

    I decided to publically leave the Democrat party after seeing Antifa riot. I lost half my friends on Facebook and my father disowned me.

    Evidentally “white silence is violence” in the face of Trump. I didn’t vote for him before, but I sure do feel like it now simply out of spite.

    This was all in Texas, I imagine California must be quite a bit worse.

    I have my guns, I learn how to use them. I dont bother anyone, but just having them makes me feel emotionally safer in these troubling times.

    I view any attempts at gun control as a conspiracy against my liberty. The fact that the proposals I have seen would not actually fix the problems they are supposed to address just shows the bad faith in which they are made.

    An armed society provides a limit to how much I can be harrassed. While it does allow troublemakers to do bad things, a society that gives up its freedoms for the illusion of temporary safety/security will eventually deservedly lose both.

    1. Daniel,

      “Better, I think, to make people earn trust before we let them own gun.”
      Thank you for sharing. I’m uncertain what that would mean in practice. Can you tell us a bit more?

      “It’s true, the mounties did a superb job of keeping law and order out here. It was a hard won peace.”
      Peace is always “hard won.” That’s why it is too rare in history.

      “Private gun ownership is viewed as a last line of defense against tyranny both from the govt and our so called fellow Americans.”

      America overflows with excuses for the apathy and passivity of its citizens, while the political machinery bequeathed to them by the Founders rusts away. Perhaps people too lazy for simple political participation – donating money, time, work – the price of self-government – will RISE UP AND USE THEIR GUNS TO DEFEND LIBERTY ON THAT GREAT DAY IN THE INDEFINITE FUTURE. I think that is unlikely, and for most believing this (I know many gun owners) an excuse. Worse, history suggests that if we get a totalitarian government, there are high odds that most of them will be cheering on the streets.

      The daily tide of blood is the price we pay for such fantasies. As for the widespread disinterest on the Right (not necessarily you, per your comment) in this bloodshed – unique to America among the developed nations, proven by mountains of research – welcome to ClownWorld!

  7. You can buy ammo in Switzerland and keep it at home, the ammo “prohibition” literally only applies to GP90 and GP11 bought at the public ranges. This ammo is subsidised and taking it home is literally stealing from the government.

    Buying ammo in Switzerland is as basic as going to a gun shop and showing a crime records extract (valid for 3 months and costs 20 Swiss francs), you can then take home all the ammo you can afford.

    1. Zorthi,

      “Buying ammo in Switzerland is as basic as going to a gun shop and showing a crime records extract (valid for 3 months and costs 20 Swiss francs)”

      As I said, that’s tighter and better-enforced gun regulation than in the US.

      “You can buy ammo in Switzerland and keep it at home, the ammo “prohibition” literally only applies to GP90 and GP11 bought at the public ranges.”

      This article was already too long, and this issue wasn’t sufficiently important to spend more space on that level of detail.

      If you have a service firearm, you are legally only allowed to shoot only federal ammunition through it. That ammo cannot be kept at home. One reason, as you note, is that it is sold at subsidized prices. They don’t want it bought and resold at a profit. Equally or more important, ammo can be bought at the shooting facilities without the procedures required for private purchases.

      Also note that, unlike most areas of the US, there are requirements for the safe storage of ammo – including a maximum amount that can be stored without special facilities.

      Bottom line: the Swiss regulations are more rational than ours – tighter, broader, and far better enforced. Militia in Switzerland can keep privately purchased ammo for their service weapons at home, but few do – despite the widespread belief in the US that they all have guns & ammo ready to go in their closets. (There are special service units that are allowed to keep guns and ammo at home.)

      1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but California at least has similar ammo purchasing laws as Switzerland, as stated by the Prop 63 that passed in 2016?

        It’s a mistake to mix the civilian gun ownership of Switzerland with the militia gun ownership. These two are not connected, and only become connected when the soldier in question fills out a WES to acquire his service rifle, which then becomes his possession.

        The army gun ownership in Switzerland is low compared to the civilian one. There are only a few hundred of thousand of military rifles in the hands of soldiers compared to the over 2 million firearms in the possession of civilians.

        For example, the myth that everyone has a gun in Switzerland, is basically the same as the myth that nobody, or only a small amount of people, own ammo in Switzerland.

        Owning ammo as a civilian gun owner in Switzerland (the vast majority of gun owners) is a regular and normal thing to do. Every gun shop in Switzerland has vast amounts of ammo for sale and these shops even do bulk discounts if you buy thousands of rounds.

        There is no maximal amount of ammo that you can own in Switzerland and no precise storage laws. The storage laws for ammo and guns in Switzerland is basically about “storing the gun and ammo in a way that an unauthorised person cannot access it.” It’s up to the gun owner to see how to store their guns and ammo so that they don’t break the law.

        The militia is irrelevant compared to the civilian gun ownership in Switzerland to be honest and as of now, our gun acquisition and ownership laws in Switzerland are comparable to the ones in California, New Jersey or MA.

      2. Zorthi,

        I have no idea what you are attempting to say. Gun regulations & enforcement – acquisition of guns and ammo, carrying of weapons, etc – are tighter than in most areas of the US. If you have an objection, please give a direct quote. Essays on the minutia of Swiss gun laws is of no interest to almost everybody reading this.

        “It’s a mistake to mix the civilian gun ownership of Switzerland with the militia gun ownership.”

        Conservatives have worked hard to spread that myth.

        “as the myth that nobody, or only a small amount of people, own ammo in Switzerland.”

        I’ve never heard that “myth”, except on Right-wing websites giving rebuttals to it.

      3. I think the confusion ultimately lies in equivocating gun regulation with the government taking them all away (and lets not kid ourselves, this is what the left in America wants). Switzerland proves that you can have the former without the latter.

    1. John,

      Yes, you don’t understand democracy. But you can emigrate to lands without taxes. There are many ungoverned regions in failed states. Good luck!

      I believe America will be better off without the deadwood of those that don’t believe in it.

  8. Didn’t Rolling Stone also make a huge article about fraternity rape initiations or such on college campuses? They don’t seem reliable.

    While I’m not really a fan of open carry, the purpose behind the push mostly seems like what bump stocks served–a buffer zone as far as gun control laws go. Though yes, it often seems obnoxious when people open carry, have to agree.

    Also, don’t the facts indicate that strict gun control doesn’t really correlate with suicide rates? According to Wikipedia, we’re at number 34# for suicide rates in the USA, and quite a few nations with strict gun control laws are higher than the USA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

    Japan, South Korea, Belarus, Belgium, and Russia are also higher on the list than us. Absolutely agree that suicide is an awful issue that is almost criminally ignored in the USA, but gun control doesn’t seem to be the answer, as people will clearly find ways to kill themselves if they want to. Doesn’t Japan almost completely ban firearm ownership by civilians? If I remember right, handguns are banned in Russia as well, but the deaths of despair are still are too common.

    Crime, also… didn’t Ann Coulter crunch the numbers and show gun crime is closely linked to race, not gun ownership levels, as harsh as it may sound to say? FBI homicide statistics seem to agree.

    1. Archer,

      “They don’t seem reliable.”

      They are an opinion journal. Not a news media, and should be held to different standards. Opinion journals start with the politics and make the facts fit. That does not mean that they are wrong. They are definitely useful sources of insights. But they must be regarded more skeptically than major news media.

      “don’t the facts indicate that strict gun control doesn’t really correlate with suicide rates?”

      I suspect that suicide rates cannot be easily compared across different societies. That’s the single factor fallacy (i.e., there are often other, larger factors). Both reporting rates and social acceptance of suicide varies widely. When considering the operational utility of gun regs, I suggest looking at rates between similar societies with different gun regs. For example, between US states, between the US, UK, and Australia.

      “didn’t Ann Coulter crunch the numbers and show gun crime is closely linked to race, not gun ownership levels”

      Speaking of reliability, Ann Coulter would be low on my list. See some of the cites (of studies by actual experts) provided in this post (and in the other posts it links to), a dot in the ocean of studies show the effectiveness of some kinds of gun regulations. Conservatives often “prove” that gun regs are not magic bullets that transform Watts into Heaven. True, but public policy is a matter of incremental improvements.

      1. “I suspect that suicide rates cannot be easily compared across different societies.”

        That definitely appears true for homicide rates and gun ownership–you can’t fairly compare different societies, whether it be Japan and the USA or Nashville TN vs Baltimore Maryland.

        See attached CDC information for homicide rates by different races in the USA. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6631a9.htm shows that the white homicide rate is around 2-3 per 100,000 and the black homicide rate stays around 20 per 100,000.

        That’s in spite of Pew Research center saying that gun ownership is most common among white males. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/the-demographics-of-gun-ownership/

        Looking at that, as harsh as it may sound, how would it be fair or just for low crime white areas to suffer nationwide strict gun laws just because black areas need it? And looking at riots that happen when police shoot armed criminals in Baltimore or Chicago or such… what good are strict gun laws when a city’s populace is so savage they riot when armed career criminals are shot for drawing weapons on police or refusing to drop a knife?

        BTW I do mean this all respectfully. I’m originally here from Dalrock’s blog and you write lots of excellent material, I do not intend for my comment to come across rudely.

      2. Archer,

        Your comments are well-founded, logically expressed, cogent, and relevant. Nobody could reasonably ask for more.

        “That definitely appears true for homicide rates and gun ownership–you can’t fairly compare different societies”

        I think we mean different things by “fairly compare.” First, the accuracy of suicide rates varies across cultures by its degree of acceptance, so that naive comparisons are based of flawed data.

        Second, the social role of suicide varies among cultures – so that the assumption that their rates of gun ownership is a significant contributing factor is probably false.

        Neither of those things is true for homicide rates between developed states – let alone between US states. So gun ownerships are probably a more significant variable than with suicides.

        But more importantly, (from memory) studies show that suicide rates correlate with gun ownership when controlling for socioeconomic variables. No surprise. Guns are faster and more effective than most (not all) forms of easily accessible suicide. Less opportunity for second thoughts. Higher odds of sure death.

        “Looking at that, as harsh as it may sound, how would it be fair or just for low crime white areas to suffer nationwide strict gun laws just because black areas need it?”

        I believe your assumption is false. The higher rates of suicide and accidental injury in households with guns outweighs the decreased rate of injury from home invaders.

        The whole home defender gig is largely bogus, despite the carefully curated stories circulated by the NRA. A good friend of mine was a gun nut. Had lots, practiced a lot, hunted a lot. He was a brilliant and deserved rich doctor. Big art collection.

        Due to a fluke, his family was home when masked armed thieves broke in. He was upstairs, came charging down firing. He killed one, wounded one, he was killed, his wife seriously wounded.

        These thieves, like most, are interested in theft – not murder. He died to defend his insurance firm from a claim.

        “what good are strict gun laws when a city’s populace is so savage they riot …”

        How is that relevant? Gun laws are not magic bullets, curing all social ills. Riots occur in all sorts of societies. The people of Paris are known for their proclivity to riot, and have been for centuries.

  9. In real world is unarmed society really safe? why to confuse civilization with progress? we are actually so much civilized as we were in the caves using the stones: we are not only still killing, but mass murdering and to do it scientifically. So it will be always a big dilemma if we start from the tail, from the effect and not from the cause.

    1. Armando,

      “we are not only still killing”

      If your standard of progress requires human nature to change, you’ll be disappointed. Progress is incremental, changes in magnitude of behaviors.

      Many analysts, such as Steven Pinker, have shown that western societies have become much less violent over the past several millennia – in terms of both domestic and inter-state violence.

      There have been many other forms of progress. Slavery was the norm, now it is outlawed almost everywhere. Women have far more rights. Etc.

      “why to confuse civilization with progress?”

      Because civilization is progress.

      “So it will be always a big dilemma if we start from the tail, from the effect and not from the cause.”

      What does that mean?

  10. Lot of comments. My idea of earning trust to be allowed to own a gun would include the following:

    demonstrate a commitment to your society through public service, preferably in the military where you will learn to respect firearms and rules
    keep a clean record, no legal right to won a gun if you are a convicted criminal (i.e. convicted of a felony in the USA, convicted of an indictable offence in Canada)
    not have or develop a serious mental illness
    at the very least, pass a strict firearms safety course

  11. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42749089

    Get rid of guns they will use knives.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/865565/gun-crime-in-london/

    Gun crime in London where gun ownership is illegal.

    I taught in London Colleges 16 years ago, knives were common and there were a lot of knife fights and robberies that go unreported if no one gets more than a bad cut, superglue and duct tape, rather than stitches is a mark of pride.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/white-british-pupils-the-least-likely-uk-ethnic-group-to-go-to-university-new-research-reveals-a6729361.html

    Add to this the rich UMC whites have nearly 100% University attendance and the WC (who feel they live in the toilet of society) are unlikely to be employed in the stable postal, infrastructure or local government jobs as they are over represented ethnically, due to almost 80-100% white boomers, and they are stuck with the low paid casual jobs, no matter what they do, unless they are very bright.

    In 1986/7 I did some carrying bricks it is hard work, but I was in my 20’s in Central London I got 125 pounds a day, in 2017 when I was visiting London and my family, I saw the pay was 140 pound a day.

    Due to seeing the other side of the story with International Students, many of those carrying bricks are qualified accountants or IT graduates, with low language skills and no family, they do what they can to get work, they can’t go home for shame, the agents keep telling the same story about huge numbers of jobs in the West and the Universities back them up for the fees. They end up driving taxis, cooking chips and do labouring work, hating the local population and unable to go back to their MC life in Pakistan or India where they had a maid in the family house. Unless they work 2 or 3 jobs and earn good money they can’t get a wife sent over, and if they did marry a local the family would cut them off. The Crazy Rich Asian story, without happy ending with the Mothers green ring.

    The resentment is building and society is moving to a lower trust society all over the West. One group spent its inheritance on a degree that has no use and has gone from UMC to labourer or arse wiper in an old people home, where the older residents don’t even like them. Driving Uber when the shift ends to get the bride price, the locals see the Taxi job that was once OK for a last job after 30 years on good money as a Tradesman, replaced with lower wages as a Trademan and disruption making the Taxi work when the body is too worn out to do building hardly paying the petrol and insurance some days. Neither sees the 1%, both see the injustice as the others fault.

    The issue may be why we want the guns? I think is because the rules based society with higher trust, is drifting into a chaotic low trust society.

  12. I usually don’t comment on gun issues, but wanted to agree about the part that cultural and historical differences just in the USA that play upon this issue.

    I grew up in a southern small town. At 16, most young men got or wanted their first firearm. This was the time of the 1964 enactment of civil rights act. Yet for all the faults of Jim Crow, blacks owned weapons. In fact considering the poverty level of the black experience under Jim Crow, guns were bought despite poverty, I find to be downplayed.

    I don’t know what part the NRA has in all this, but the persons I grew up with, black and white, proclaimed that guns were a right. I know that I didn’t even know about the NRA until well after I owned a firearm. Still, I consider them a right.

    I also consider if you do not like this, you need to change the constitution. That is the way we are supposed to run our country.

    The conversation should be about defining what is reasonable. Any conversation about gun control should have good definitions. For those who don’t know, most of the really bad regulations I had to deal with, as a professional, came from bad definitions or the lack of definitions. The other bad regulations were from “Let’s pass this and get it out of our way” attitude of our elected. LK is correct. Not only do we need incremental changes for social reasons, we need incremental in order to get the changes themselves done correctly. As part of this, owners will need to be included, not as whipping boys or scapegoats, but as a resource to get the changes done well.

    YMMV.

    1. John,

      “I also consider if you do not like this, you need to change the constitution”

      The NRA is lying to you. There was a consensus about the nature of legitimate gun regulation, and who could do what. It lasted for well over a century, until overturned by the GOP.

      “Still, I consider them a right.”

      I suggest that you read the Second Amendment. It does not say “Americans have an absolute right to own guns.” Hence the long history of gun regulations in America.

      More broadly, rights are not binary – got them or not. Even the amendments that are pretty unconditional, like free speech, have limitations.

      1. Larry, I don’t disagree. My point is that there are differences. One such difference was that an able bodied male was required to carry a firearm to church in colonial times. A point, that appears to be missed about militia, was that in the South it was all able bodied white males. In Georgia, it was the law: regulated. The reason this is important comes back to my lead of “the part that cultural and historical differences.” Banning is not compatible with the writings, the early colonial law, the Revolutionary War, nor settling the continental US.

        So, what is reasonable? Reasonable people can disagree. Larry, please re-read. How can the NRA be lying to ME. My experiences with firearms started a decade before I knew anything or even cared what the NRA had to say. The only time I have supported the NRA was when there was an attempt, in my mind and others, to avoid due process to restrict or ban firearms. They are a non entity in my life experience.

        I have read the second amendment. Further, when I took a course that concentrated on the early US Supreme Court decisions, it was taught that the right to bear arms was an individual’s right. So, a lot of my opinion is because I did study the second amendment; and the others as well.

        I am not claiming which is correct. My belief or preference is based on my experiences. I don’t disagree with you that rights are not an absolute without limits. However, I do believe that rights cannot be regulated to be meaningless.

        It comes back to what is reasonable, and how is it defined.

        YMMV.

      2. John,

        “How can the NRA be lying to ME. My experiences with firearms …”

        Please read what I said. Your statements about the Second Amendment were false. That has nothing to do with your “experiences with firearms.”

        “One such difference was that an able bodied male was required to carry a firearm to church in colonial times.”

        You are missing the point. I suggest that you re-read the Second Amendment. At that time, Georgia enrolled most white males into the militia. Since everybody went to church, that was a convenient time to see that they were properly equipped. That’s the obvious meaning of the Second Ammendment. That’s not the same – its the opposite – of allowing people to carry guns without membership in the militia.

        “So, a lot of my opinion is because I did study the second amendment; and the others as well.”

        Obviously not.

      3. Larry, I was taught that the second amendment was an individual right.

        You stated that “The NRA is lying to you. ” Your words.

        My original point was that we do have different cultures here in the US. I was raised and taught in the Jim Crow south. Apparently, it was different. Please note that a consensus is not necessarily 100%.

        That others were taught different does not mean I did not experience what I did.

      4. “I suggest that you read the Second Amendment. It does not say “Americans have an absolute right to own guns.””

        I suggest you read it. It says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. This was the common understanding until the late nineteenth century, when various historical revisionists attempted to say that what it really meant was that the army can be armed. Which presupposes that the founding fathers considered the possibility of an unarmed militia. Perhaps they were fan of Kung Fu movies and envisioned each state maintaining it’s own Shaolin temple?

      5. phageghost,

        “It says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”

        Nice but silly cherry-picking. Laws are understood by reading the full text. I suggest you read this summary at the Cornell Law website. It is focused on current law (for practitioners), so it starts with legal consensus as of 1939 – and shows evolution from there.

        “This was the common understanding until the late nineteenth century,”

        Obviously not, as the example I give in this post shows.

      6. Larry,

        A rehashing of the whole collective vs. individual legal history debate, is, as they say, beyond the scope of this work. But, like everyone else, yeah, I’m familiar with U.S v. Miller. That’s the apogee of the collectivist revisionism.

        Earlier I pointed you to Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller as a nice summary. But perhaps that’s too partisan a source.

        I’ll just throw one piece of evidence on the table because it’s from a source everybody knows: The majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford by Chief Justice Taney. Granted, his decision was awful, but we might expect such a fellow to have at lease some familiarity with constitutional law as it was understood at the time. Note, then, what he mentions in passing as an argument against granting the privileges of citizenship to freed slaves:

        “For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens … it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

  13. Your error about ammunition in the home in Switzerland has already been addressed above.

    I think the issue that you are missing is this: Firearms regulation is primarily a state issue outside well-enunciated parameters (Heller, McDonald, NFA, etc). California’s and New York’s firearms laws are more restrictive than Canada’s.

    I live on an isolated ranch along the border with Mexico. No law enforcement officers are going to do any more for my self-defense than clean up the mess after the fact (which is all they do in cities too). When I go into town, I comply with the town’s rules and those of private business owners and comply with my state’s rules at all times.

    Self-defense is one of the many Ninth Amendment rights (found in common law, statutory law, and case law). It and the Second Amendment have an interplay that those who accept the made up term of “gun violence” do not discuss.

    There is a place for an armed populace that is capable of turning out Sheriff’s posses, for self-organizing following natural disasters that overwhelm law enforcement, and for general defense of liberty.

    I received my first firearm at the same age I learned to ride a horse, let’s agree to leave the boogeyman of the NRA out of this.

    1. Sarah,

      “Your error about ammunition in the home in Switzerland has already been addressed above.”

      It was an assertion. I don’t want to get into that level of detail, as that is missing the point of this post, but my statements were based on Swiss govt websites. Most replies are based on what people read on far-right websites, mixing fact and fiction.

      “I think the issue that you are missing is this: Firearms regulation is primarily a state issue outside well-enunciated parameters ”

      This is why I ask people to reply to direct quotes. Did you read the post? It specifically makes reference to local (ie, towns’) gun laws. There is nothing saying that this is a Federal issue, beyond the Second Amendment (which sets the rules, having precedence over State laws).

      “I live on an isolated ranch along the border with Mexico.”

      Please read the post. The example given of guns in the Wild West shows how sensible gun regulation works, and was part of the consensus on the issue that held for over a century. Until overturned by the far-right, using fiction and propaganda.

      “There is a place for an armed populace …”

      You should read the post before replying. If you have a specific objection, give a quote and state the basis for your disagreement.

      1. It would be interesting to see the results of your cherry-picking if you set out to write the opposite article.

  14. Suicide rates in the US are definitely tragic. But attributing them to gun availability just seems overly simplistic. Others have pointed to high suicide rates in countries with strict gun laws like Japan or Russia. I could equally point to extremely low suicide rates in Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia despite fairly widespread gun ownership. This is a common feature of the entire Muslim world, actually. It would seem that culture, secularization specifically, is a far stronger predictor of suicide rates than availability of guns.

    1. Prajna,

      As mentioned above, comparing suicide rates among nations with different cultures to determine the effects of gun ownership is dumb. Clickbait. Just because the stats can be easily downloaded, doesn’t mean they are meaningful.

      Real social scientists make those comparisions within a society, or do so with careful comparisons of people with similar socioeconomic circumstances.

  15. One, of many, problems with the notion of “sensible” gun laws is that enforcing them means kicking down the doors of peoples homes. Because voluntarily giving up guns never really happens regardless of how laws are changed unless they are somehow registered to you and the system has a lot of leverage.
    It is all very well to say what a person should have to do to qualify to be trusted with a gun. But everybody who is interested has several already and knows better than to identify themselves to the system as the owners of specific guns. That is just asking to be raided sometime in the future for any one of several reasons.
    The American West was settled without a lot of organization, for the most part. There needs to be a certain level of social order and civilization to even speak about having “a well regulated militia.” The people of that time would have just stared at you if you tried to tell them that they had to go into the lethal West unarmed until they could build a militia house in which they were to collectively keep their guns.
    You might say that is a hopelessly anachronistic way of thinking. Or naive. But it is in our DNA out here and if you tell us that there are crazy, bad people with guns around, our instinct is to gun up ourselves.
    Is that just indulging in fantasy? Sure, somewhat. But how does that compare to the fantasy that passing un-enforcible gun restrictions can allow to let your guard down regarding your fellow-men?

    1. Rum,

      It’s always fascinating to see how right-wingers talk about guns with no recognition that America is exceptional among developed nations both in its gun violence and light regulation of guns. America looks great if you keep your eyes tightly closed.

      “problems with the notion of “sensible” gun laws is that enforcing them means kicking down the doors of peoples homes.”

      What a lovely rebuttal to almost every law. Perhaps we only need laws about things that can be enforced with nasty letters from the sherrif.

      “You might say that is a hopelessly anachronistic way of thinking. Or naive.”

      Yep.

      “But it is in our DNA out here”

      Nope.

      “if you tell us that there are crazy, bad people with guns around, our instinct is to gun up ourselves”

      It would be ok if guns just boosted the death rate from suicide, but it also results in deaths of children, bystanders, and other innocents. All more frequent than their use for self-defense. Plus, of course, the people who become more belligerent because they are carrying (a well-established phenomenon). That you ignore these things does not make them go away.

      The rest of us choose not to live in your fantasy world.

  16. Lawful gun owning is nearly 100% a private matter. Very few other laws seek to regulate a highly private activity that has no victims (circular logic, but I have not shot anybody, being lawful.)
    Enforcing laws about private matters with no victims has rarely had good results, IMHO. Because of where the cops have to go to do so.
    Most studies regarding the efficacy of self defense leave out the question of deterrence, which is crazy, because that is nearly always the biggest factor/benefit in being armed. Like with Cops. They do not measure using a weapon as adding to the good side of the balance and neither do civilians.
    But Peterman et al do. As if NATO was a failure because it did not kill as many Russians as it lost in training.

  17. I live in a smallish town in Texas with about 12,000 souls . Year by year, the murder rate (amungst ourselves) is zero. Not very far away is a much bigger town with a different demographic and indulges in mass shoot outs every week end. Our guns are much more traceable (despite our efforts…. ) because all of theirs are stolen and are completely untraceable..

    Come on guys,,, tell us where to send the death-squad, swat gun-takers team first to in order to achieve social justice

  18. Completely wrong about Switzerland.
    Here’s how to buy a gun in Switzerland with links to the law on the Swiss government’s site in German: https://imgur.com/a/wKk8V0X

    No “assault weapon” ban or magazine bans. No mandatory inspections, interviews, evaluations or any of that. It takes an average of a week to obtain a Waffenerwerbschein (weapons acquisition permit) to buy semi-autos and handguns of which you can buy three at a time. So are these laws stricter than most states? Yes, however these laws are laxer than California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and DC.

    Ultimately it will be the left who has an issue with Swiss laws as gun rights in those states would become looser.

    Even when guns aren’t an issue, the left still demands more gun laws in Switzerland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Swiss_gun_control_initiative#Initiative
    “The initiative foresees that guns can no longer be kept at home, but must be stored at the arsenal (Zeughaus) instead, that possession of a gun should be linked to a screening of the ability and necessity of the gunholder, and that all guns should be registered. Left-wing parties (SP, Greens, CSP) and the GLP are mostly in favour of the proposal, with right-wing parties (SVP, FDP, CVP, BDP) opposed.”

    The left will always chip at your gun rights slowly, but in an incremental basis until you end up with the draconian restrictions seen in the UK, which has become 1984-esque with police regularly arresting people for mean tweets.

    1. Thomas,

      “Completely wrong about Switzerland. …No “assault weapon” ban or magazine bans. ”

      What was “competely wrong”? Nobody said that there was a ban on “assault weapons” or “magazines.” Even for a gun nut your comment is pretty daft.

      1. Let’s replay the tape: Section 4, paragraph 1 of your post: “But they do not have ammo at home; it is kept in government armories – a detail which far-right propaganda seldom mentions.”

        It’s true that you didn’t say anything about assault weapons or magazines. But this claim about ammunition storage, according to every source I can find, and which constitutes the core of your section 4, is COMPLETELY WRONG.

        There were some changes to Swiss laws regarding home storage government-issued or government-subsidized ammunition, so the confusion is understandable, but it’s absolutely, positively not true that “they do not have ammo at home.”

        You are wrong. Full stop. Will you ever admit to this? Probably not.

        You used to be pretty good at this stuff, but you’ve really fallen off your game lately.

        Even for a gun-grabber, your post is pretty daft.

      2. phageghost,

        I am going to take the time top repost the text in rebuttal to your comment. It’s a waste of time, and ends your commenting here.

        “Most men in Switzerland are in the militia from ages 20 to 30. They keep their rifles at home. But they do not have ammo at home; it is kept in government armories – a detail which far-right propaganda seldom mentions. They can buy their guns after their service ends.”

        It is clearly referring to guns and ammo issued to men in the militia.

      3. Lol. You are backpedaling away from your statement.

        Do you deny the fact that Swiss gun laws are laxer than multiple leftist states.

        If Swiss laws were adopted verbatim in the US, states like California would see LAXER gun laws. Then you will still see Democrats proposing more laws down the road, much like how the SP in Switzerland do the same even in a country where the homicide rate is 0.5.

      4. Thomas,

        “You are backpedaling away from your statement.”

        Try giving a quote and responding to it. I have no idea to what you are referring.

        “Do you deny the fact that Swiss gun laws are laxer than multiple leftist states.”

        No. What’s your point?

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