Monday, February 19, 2018

Why The AR-15 Owner's Arguments Are Fallaciious

Our AR-15 Owner writes:

First off, comparing MA with Fla or any other large state is a smokescreen to obscure the real facts. MA has a population of 6,811,779 compared to Fla’s population of 20,612,439!

Actually, it is precisely the use of comparative ratios (e.g. incidents per 100,100 or similar) that makes comparing events in two or more states legitimate. You take every 100,000 people in FL and every 100,000 in MA and compare the respective incidents per that block.  Then since the frequencies are set to  a defined baseline (e.g. per 100,000) this  corrects for any disparity in scale  say for population size  Once one does that,  one is effectively comparing "apples to applies" in terms of event frequency. So it is not a "smokescreen" at all.

Secondly, although he may be correct in the “gun death rate” comparisons, he fails to cite the cause of those gun deaths. Well, maybe I can help him out here....

The cause of said gun deaths is subsumed in the statistics for "gun deaths", i.e. whether for homicide, by accident or suicide. Since there can only be three possible  causes, then the incidence per 100,000 for gun deaths  (i.e. covering all) already takes these 3 causes into account.  Whether there are 2 suicides to every homicide and 1 accidental shooting to every 100 suicides is immaterial once we are talking about "gun deaths" in toto.   I suspect he may be placing overt emphasis on "intent" - say for homicides- but let us agree suicides and accidents (say a 4 -year old accidentally discharging a loaded weapon at his mom in a Walmart as happened in Colo. three yrs. ago) are just as tragic.  This is why the role of guns in whatever scenario must be weighed and factored in.

If he says “yes,” then I would ask him to explain how the states that have rolled back gun regulations and have a low number of laws on the books have also seen declines in gun homicide rates

This is a false interpretation which has been circulated in right wing media, e.g. The National Review, but doesn't hold ballast. A  study from 2013, led by the Boston University School of Public Health found that homicides that didn't involve guns didn't significantly increase as gun ownership did. In other words, more guns meant more homicides, particularly gun homicides.: After controlling for multiple variables, the study found that a 1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a roughly 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level.  That is about as close to a perfect Pearson product -moment correlation coefficient as one can get. This also  holds up around the world.

States with low gun-homicide rates also tend to rank high in other quality-of-life rankings, like per-capita income and educational attainment, while states with the most gun homicides, like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, also rank near the bottom in such measures

This is actually a perfect example of the "No true Scotsman" fallacy first highlighted by Antony Flew in his book, Thinking About Thinking.  Flew's No True Scotsman  Suppose A says, "No Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge." B replies, "But my uncle Angus puts sugar in his porridge." A then responds, "Then your Uncle Angus is no true Scotsman!" In other words, the artificial stipulation is made that to be a genuine Scotsman (person of Scottish descent) one must conform to the rubric of  "no sugar in the porridge".

Now we frame his answer in similar terms:  "No True Gun-using Murderer Lives In A High Life  Quality state."   But, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama etc. are low life quality states and have the most gun homicides.  Conclusion: You cannot compare the former to the latter in terms of incidence, because the only "true" gun homicides, i.e. worth measuring from the stipulated basis,   occur in low life quality states.   Of course, as Flew would point out, this doesn't wash. He is in fact resorting to  a stipulative definition that artificially discriminates between states with high and low homicide rates   In this way he's able to argue one is disallowed from comparing the two gun homicide rates for differing life quality index states.   But as  Flew would argue 'Not so fast!' - if that was true than no strict gun regulations would ever be able to be enacted in such states  because their low quality of life prohibits it.

This is a red herring because he introduces an irrelevant topic in an argument to divert readers’ attention from the original issue – which is new gun control laws as well as the AR-15’s.

Not so!  Since the Journal Of Health Affairs study bears directly on the incidence of gun homicides in different nations, it is totally relevant, i.e it provides a crucial glimpse on how our nation is handling these homicides compared to other rich nations.   The original issue then is not strictly gun control per se, but in the context of how the prevalence of guns in the U.S. compared to other wealthy nations impacts health statistics.   So it is not intended to divert at all, only to force gun aficionados to reckon in these health factors into gun ownership and hence control

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the rate of violent crime dropped from 79.8 to 18.6 victims per 1,000 people age 12 and older from 1993 to 2015.

These statistics do not support the opinion that more guns lead to more crimes!

But this is a non sequitur .  The purported decrease in violent crimes overall does not show that more guns do not lead to more homicides..  When we isolate homicide from the constellation of violent crimes we see nearly a 1: 1 correlation, Refer to the Boston University study cited earlier. Also, these sort of stats disregard science, namely the CDC finding from the early 90s that there are three times more homicides in families that own  guns than those that don't.Such stats have been suppressed since the N.R.A.-backed Dickey Amendment, was passed in 1996- named for the man who sponsored it, former Representative Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican. It reads: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”. In other words, actual research is to be suppressed in the interest of the NRA gun lobby and culture.  Reinforcing this, reporter Sam Roberts wrote last year in The Times, that the legislation “stripped $2.6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionthe precise amount budgeted for a study of the health effects of shootings.”

How is this being honest in the gun debate? How is it respecting either actual statistics or science?

The more concerning issue is that Massachusetts is one of the worst states for submitting the names of people deemed mentally insufficient by the state into the NICS database. While MA legislators seek more and more gun control, they don’t follow the laws already in place; laws that all law-abiding, safety-conscious gun owners believe should be followed.

 As I already pointed out (in my original post) the MA law subsumes the mental health issues-problems  by the fact so many formidable barriers are incorporated into the law, e.g. having to pass a state approved  gun safety course, getting licensed and fingerprinted. These would arguably be obstacles too insurmountable for a mentally deranged or debilitated person, but not for a healthy, law abiding John  Q.  Citisen.  My point is that since the barriers to mental cases owning are so formidable in MA it doesn't really matter if they don't cross every t and dot every i in submit all the names of mental cases. Those mental cases would not likely get through to gun  ownership anyway!

Further research shows that since the assault weapons ban ended in 2004, violent crime has actually decreased by 16.6 percent from 2004 to 2016, according to FBI statistics

Ahhhh...but NOT the mass shootings using assault weapons, including school shootings - which have only inreased.

Rifles accounted for only 1.9 percent of all murders in 2015. You were more than twice as likely to be killed from someone kicking or punching you to death than to be shot by a rifle.

Maybe! But I'd rather take my chances against someone coming at me with fist, "flying"  feet  or knife than with an AR-15. Just sayin'.

Judging by these numbers, rifles are not the problem the left make it out to be.

But assault rifles ARE the problem in all the mass shootings. I guarandamn- tee you if Islamic extremists  were doing these mass shootings you'd see action taken fast enough to control access to these weapons.

Well, yes I do. Why? Because it reeks of Nazism! 

Please, this is pure hyperbole and false analogy, Nazism was a specific political ideology predicated on National Socialism, which consciously incorporates racial eugenics and anti-Semitism linking it to a one party, militarized state. This is absolutely NOT the state of Massachusetts  whose laws - like other state laws - are still based on our U.S. Constitution. Since the latter disallows Nazism, the state laws - including gun laws of whatever form -must as well.

My friend, you are an educated man, so you must concede that the Weimar Republic’s well-intentioned gun registry became a tool for evil.The same arguments for and against were made in the 1920s in the chaos of Germany’s Weimar Republic, which opted for gun registration. Law-abiding persons complied with the law, but the Commies and Nazis committing acts of political violence did not.

Politifact checked similar claims when Ben Carson made them during the 2016 campaign. It turns out that as the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany, it inherited a 1928 gun registration law that had replaced a total ban on gun ownership imposed on a defeated Germany after World War I. The 1928 law created a permit system to own and sell firearms and ammunition. According to Dagmar Ellerbrock, an expert on German gun policies at the Dresden Technical University.:

"This order was followed quite rarely, so that largely, only newly bought weapons became registered.  At that time, most men, and many women, still owned the weapons they acquired before or during the first World War."

When the Nazis did come to power, they used whatever gun records they had to seize weapons from their enemies, but Ellerbock  has noted the files included very few of the firearms in circulation. According to him:

"In my records, I found many Jews who well into the late 1930s possessed guns,"

This was confirmed by three former Wehrmacht troops I had occasion to speak with about the war and the Hitler era, when I traveled to Bielefeld with Janice in 1985.  Hans Borchers, the oldest of the former German troops,  affirmed he "knew many Jews who possessed rifles and pistols long after Hitler attained the Chancellorship in 1933".

The Nazis DID adopt a new gun law in 1938. According to an analysis by Bernard Harcourt, a professor at Columbia University School of Law, it loosened gun ownership rules in several ways:

1) It deregulated the buying and selling of rifles, shotguns and ammunition.

2) It made handguns easier to own by allowing anyone with a hunting license to buy, sell or carry one at any time. (i.e. You didn’t need to be hunting.)

3) It extended the permit period from one year to three and gave local officials more discretion in letting people under 18 get a gun.

The regulations to implement this law, rather than the law itself, did impose new limits on one group: Jews.

On Nov. 11, 1938, the German minister of the interior issued the Regulations Against Jews Possession of Weapons. Not only were Jews forbidden to own guns and ammunition, they couldn’t own "truncheons or stabbing weapons."   In addition to these restrictions, confiscation was also present, thus the Nazis had already been raiding Jewish homes and seizing weapons. But according to Ellerbrock, also confirmed by Dieter - another Wehrmacht soldier I met in 1985:

"The gun policy of the Nazis can hardly be compared to the democratic procedures of gun regulations by law.  It was a kind of special administrative practice (Sonderrecht), which treated people in different ways according to their political opinion or according to ‘racial identity’ in Nazi terms."

In short, Nazi-era Germany imposed greater gun restrictions for Jews (and other perceived enemies) at the same time it loosened gun restrictions for other groups.  German citizens as a whole were not disarmed by the Nazis. Jews and other supposed enemies of the state were subject to having their weapons seized. But for most German citizens, the Nazi period was one in which gun regulations were loosened, not tightened.

Second, a lack of guns was not the issue. If the majority of Germans had wanted to use these guns to fight the Nazis, they could have. But they didn’t. Carson  (and our AR-15 owner) ignored the fact  that the Nazis enjoyed significant popular support, or at least, broad acquiescence.  Given that popular support they had no reason at all to fear a popular revolt or uprising.  As for the Jews, the ones that had the most weapons and most likely would have fought, had all left by  Nov. 11, 1938 when the most severe  weapons regulations were enacted.

Now, what would I change if I could.....

I actually agree with all of your proposed changes. I also acknowledge they would not be a "panacea".  We  don't seek a panacea per se just some movement on curbing access to powerful assault weapons from those   criminals and psychos  - who might inflict the most harm.

Lastly, as for you stating that I should “hear the cry” of Parkland student “Sarah”... I’d like to hear what other “gun control” laws that she has in mind to “prevent it from happening again.”

Interesting you mention that! There is now a movement, begun in Parkland, to march into the FLA legislature in  Tallahassee tomorrow  to demand legislative changes including: 1) firmer control on all assault- type weapons,  including licensing and fingerprinting, 2) allowing  individual communities (like Parkland)  to impose their own regulations such as for age of purchase, and limiting magazines and the sale of ammunition.  These kids are also dispatching a retinue to meet Trump on  Feb. 24th and demand federal gun law changes.

Yet, now…they do a complete 360 and blame the prez and the NRA, etc. And, btw, I challenge my friend here – or anyone – to show me where any member of the NRA has committed any of these atrocities!

This is a true strawman argument given no one is asserting the NRA committed any atrocities. What we are saying is that the NRA was responsible for altering the original 2nd amendment interpretation  i.e. as a collective right (acknowledged by the Supreme Court in 1934)  then pushing ever more aggressive gun ownership memes and laws, state by state  - until we have the situation today when 1.5 million assault rifles are sold each year.

Again, the proof is in the pudding. Australia had problems with mass shootings until the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 .  The sheer magnitude of this tragedy spurred laws whereby Aussie assault weapon owners had to turn them in. and strict licensing - registry applies..   There have been NO mass shootings since,

I know you won’t agree with me here, friend – but as I said, we can agree to disagree.

Well, let me say I can agree with a number of your suggestions on how things might be changed for the better. I definitely disagree on a number of other aspects which were discussed above.

And may I respectfully suggest that the left stop politicizing these incidents and exploiting the victims for their own political purposes.

Sorry, I don't see the 'left" doing that at all. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas are  organizing mass student marches and gun control activism all on their own - there are no lefties sneaking into their rallies and whispering in their ears on what  to do. If anyone is guilty of politicizing the latest incident it is Trump - tying it to the Russia probe - and blaming the FBI for 'wasting too much time on it'.  (see my next post).

Meanwhile, the kids at Stoneman Douglas - who have been most affected-  are the ones who plan to head off to Tallahassee and demand change from lawmakers, they are the ones organizing a national student march, and THEY are the ones who plan to meet with Trump and demand change  One of their reps  Emma Gonzalez - is also organizing parents, many others and students in a number of states to vote out all NRA backed lackeys and yes men. Granted, she and her group may not succeed  but it won't be for lack of trying!  Let me also hasten to point out there is no constitutional right to own an AR-15 or any other assault style rifle, e.g.

From The Washington Post lead story yesterday:

Students at the Florida school where 17 people died last week said Sunday they will organize nationwide marches for gun control next month and try to create a “badge of shame” for politicians who take money from the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups.
“We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around,” Cameron Kasky said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has been part of an outpouring of anger from students who survived the shooting, many of whom have publicly blamed President Trump and NRA-supported politicians for creating the conditions that led to the shooting.

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