Friday, March 11, 2016

Sticking to my guns

I got into an impromptu debate over banning guns in light of pro-gun advocate Jamie Gilt accidentally getting shot in the back by her 4 year old son while she was driving.

I'll post my side of the debate. I won't post people's names or the link to the thread itself since it may not be ideal to do so (e.g. some people may wish to protect their privacy which I'll honor here).

I've slightly edited some of it mostly for the sake of clarity as well as privacy. I've added a couple of arguments and evidences here and there. Nothing novel or new to what I've already said, I don't think, but mostly meant to better support what I've already said.

However, I did have to make one significant correction with the number of firearms in the US in the 1990s vs. 2010s. Originally I had said 80 million vs. 350 million, but I now think it's closer, though the difference still seems significant i.e. 200 million vs. 300 million. At any rate, those in the know seem to agree gun ownership is at a high today. Higher than in the 1990s.

Finally, the debate isn't in chronological order. Instead, I'll arrange it by topic and interlocutor.

Here it is:

The 2nd amendment

I agree:

1. If the American people wish to change the 2nd amendment, then there's a Constitutional process by which this is done.

2. Also, this goes to one of the fundamental issues involving the 2nd amendment: the right of the American people to be or have a check against state tyranny. And it's hardly far-fetched to consider that historically-speaking tyrants and their tyrannies have arisen in the midst of non-tyrannical societies.

As an American, I do have a vested interest in what happens to the 2nd amendment. Especially given the upcoming election, and especially in light of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia's death. What happens to the 2nd amendment is very much a live issue, depending on who is elected president, and who is appointed as the next Supreme Court justice.

"Yes I am very interested to what happens with the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice. Hopefully President Obama is able to appoint a moderate justice without extremist (dare I say it fascist) views like Scalia."

For better or for worse, Obama won't be the one to appoint the next justice. He might nominate a candidate, but the Senate most likely won't approve his nomination.

Not unless Obama is willing to compromise with the Senate on a moderate justice. However, so far, Obama has been pretty clear he wants a liberal "extremist" - i.e. someone who is the polar opposite of Scalia.

Most likely it'll be the next president who gets to appoint the next justice.

Scalia wasn't a "fascist" like Mussolini or Hitler. That's just a pejorative. Scalia was a Constitutionalist - i.e. a textualist and an originalist.

Trump is closer to a "fascist" than any other candidate.

"No, a great myth. Scalia bent his 'original meaning' jurisprudence to ensure it brought about the specific conservative outcomes he desired. Now most justices do that but he pretended otherwise. His tendency to include belligerent flourishes within his judgments belied a personality not open to consideration of views other than his own."

1. I didn't say I agreed with everything Scalia did. However, the real "myth" is calling him a "fascist." You may not agree with his jurisprudence, but to call him a "fascist" is grossly inaccurate.

2. Also, Scalia didn't "pretend otherwise." He has published books and written papers arguing for his jurisprudence.

3. As you say, what you say could be applied to the liberal or even moderate justices on the Court such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Anthony Kennedy. Does that make them "fascists" too?

In fact, Kennedy himself explicitly and positively compared his Supreme Court to the Nazis in an interview after the Obergefell decision.

4. You take his "flourishes" as belligerence and suggest a personality disorder, but others take them differently (e.g. wit). However, even if he was belligerent, it doesn't mean he was a "fascist."

5. Scalia was famously best friends with liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She held a high regard for him despite the fact that they completely disagreed on most issues. Yet she never argued he was a "fascist."

Interlocutor #1

In my opinion:

1. I think the real issue isn't so much "gun rights" as it is the mother's negligence in having a loaded gun in her backseat.

2. Besides, if it's true we should ban guns because there may be accidents leading to injuries, then one could argue along similar lines about a great many other things. For example, should we ban scissors because sometimes people accidentally cut or even puncture themselves or others? Should we ban hot boiling water because sometimes people accidentally spill hot boiling water on themselves or others? Etc.

"2. is pretty thin there, Patrick. Scissors and boiling water are useful for things other than injuring and killing. Guns aren't. Scissors and boiling water don't cause accidental deaths (except perhaps in the most unlikely of circumstances). Guns do."

1. It seems like poisoning the well to frame it as guns not being "useful for things other than injuring and killing." Obviously no one would be in favor of "injuring and killing" (simpliciter).

2. Not all "injuring" and "killing" is necessarily morally wrong. For example, surgeons sometimes have to "injure" in order to help a patient.

3. Actually, guns are "useful" for sport which doesn't involve "injuring and killing" others.

4. I could just as easily reply that guns in responsible hands "don't cause accidental deaths (except perhaps in the most unlikely of circumstances)."

5. Of course, the fundamental issues here involve the second amendment in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.

"1, 3. The usefulness of a gun for home defence, hunting, or wildlife population control stems from its ability to kill."

Well, the "usefulness" of scissors likewise "stems from its ability to cut"...

"Sport-shooting, as you correctly note, is the exception."

Yes, that's why I mentioned it, because it was an exception to your claim.

"wilfully creating a situation in which thousands of people are accidentally injured or killed each year might be."

Hm, "creating a situation" is a bit vague. What (or who) "created" the "situation"? Not sure what you're referring to?

Also, correlation isn't necessarily causation.

"(not to mention the lethal escalation of situations like domestic violence caused by the presence of guns in homes"

If guns weren't around, what makes you think "lethal escalation" wouldn't occur via some other means?

"Seems like it would be helpful to have some tighter legislation around the responsible storage and handling of guns, though."

Yes, of course, but that's quite different than saying the U.S. should ban guns.

Also, there are restrictions in many cities and states already. One could always go further, I suppose, but that's a different point.

"Guns are finding their way into the hands of children. And the mentally ill."

I did mention "responsible" gun ownership earlier.

"And perhaps it would be worth doing some kind of accidental scissor death vs. accidental gun death comparison to find out whether the circumstances in which each might occur are similarly likely."

1. I'm using the "scissors" analogy as a reductio ad absurdum, not as something I actually believe in or whatever.

2. One question that isn't often asked is how often guns have saved lives.

"Or one interpretation of it."

Given we're talking about what happened in the U.S., it would seem pretty relevant to mention issues involving the 2nd amendment, etc.

Interlocutor #2

"Do you know what would've stopped this bad baby with a gun? A good baby with a gun."

Well, this wasn't a "bad baby." It's not as if the kid had evil intent to do its mother harm. It was an accident. An accident where the mother is blameworthy for her negligence.

Interlocutor #3

"Hmmm Patrick... Can you clarify how they kept people safe? Guns as a protective mechanism totally confuses me."

For example, I've known people in the following situations:

Say someone lives in a very tough neighborhood. Say he has had people try to rob him. Once they flash their gun, or make it known they have a gun, the perpetrators slink back into the shadows.

Or say someone tries to break into a couple's house while they're asleep. Same deal. Once the would-be burglars were aware the husband had a gun, they high-tailed it out of there. Best to move onto a "gun-free" house, I suppose.

"Hahaha you're a strong one. All good, I personally just wanted to know how strong your stance is."

As an American, I strongly support the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights which includes the 2nd amendment. :-)

"I personally can not see how a weapon designed to kill is meant to protect but I won't open that can of worms."

That's not up to the weapon. That's up to the person using the weapon. A weapon like a gun can be used to kill and/or protect. The will to kill and the will to protect are intentions, and inanimate object like guns cannot have intentions, whereas people can.

"We had a Port Arthur massacre a while ago, you heard about it maybe. Pretty bad, but since we banned guns, there have been no massacres since. Could be coincidence? Could be not."

1. It's not about "massacres" alone. It's about crime in general. Or at least violent crimes. For example, has there been a decrease in violent crimes like murders or rapes since guns have been "banned"?

2. If so, then there may seem to be correlation, but is it necessarily causation? Is there a causal relationship between banning guns and a decrease in violent crimes? As I've said, correlation isn't necessarily causation.

3. As for Australia as an example for America to emulate, see here.

4. Since the UK was brought up, let's look at the UK which, according to this article, is the "violent crime capital of Europe" and has even higher rates of violence than the US.

5. While we're at it, let's look at parts of Europe too. Has there been a decrease in violent crimes like rapes and murder? What about what happened to women in Cologne, Germany? What about what's been happening to women in Scandinavian nations with refugees attempting to sexually assault them? On the face of it, there doesn't seem to be a decrease in violent crimes. And police often seem too late to help.

6. For another example, see this Harvard study.

"I won't digress too much further but I will ask this question. Say you have a 17 year old son or daughter, you love them dearly but you and your wife want to go away for the weekend. Would you be willing to leave the gun in their hands?"

Yes, if they are a mature and responsible 17 year old. That makes all the difference.

There are many mature and responsible American teenagers or young adults. For example, see here.

Interlocutor #4

"But most people realise that guns have not kept people safe at all and prevented crime. That is an absurd myth sprouted by the NRA."

They've kept people I know safe. Or is that a "myth" too? :-)

"According to the BBC, there were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015 (killing or injuring more than four people), 64 school shootings, 13,286 people were killed by firearms (excluding suicides), the number of gun murders per capita were 30 times that of the UK, 60% of murders were by firearm compared to 18.2% in Australia and the death toll from firearms in the US between 1968 and 2011 is higher than Americans killed in every war it has fought. Yep, keeping people safe and preventing crime."

1. It's comparing apples to oranges in comparing the US with the UK (or other nations). How are they relevantly analogous to one another? Different nations may have different political, economic, social, and cultural distinctions which may factor into "gun violence." In short, it's an argument from analogy minus the argument. Where's the argument that the UK and US are relevantly analogous to one another such that it's fair game to compare each in terms of gun violence?

Related, as I said above, correlation isn't necessarily causation either.

2. It's no surprise if a country has weapon x, then there may be many deaths associated with weapon x. It's like saying in the Middle Ages most people were killed by swords. Ok, so what? How does having a lot of deaths by sword mean swords should be banned? Plus, if you took away swords, then maybe more people would be killed by other means (e.g. knives).

3. Hence a better question is to ask: has there been less crime committed in the UK or Australia after guns were confiscated? How is crime overall in the UK or Australia? At least from what I can tell, there's still plenty of crime in both the UK and Australia!

4. The right of self-defense is a fundamental human right. (Although pacifists would disagree.) Shouldn't, for example, husbands be able to have the right to protect themselves and their families? Or should a father allow his wife and children to be raped and murdered (e.g. the Cheshire, Connecticut home invasion murders)?

Or take American families who live in gang infested areas with a high amount of crime including gun violence.

Or take Americans who live on Mexican border towns with routes used by drug cartels.

These aren't hypothetical. They're very much live concerns for many Americans.

5. If you want to cite news articles, here are some stats on Australia (e.g. here, here).

"Wow. Yes, we should give guns to everybody. Everybody will be safe."

That's just sneering sarcasm. Not an argument for banning guns.

"There are cultural differences between the UK and the US but this is a very simple comparison. One has lots of guns and one has few guns. One has 30 times the number of gun deaths "per capita" than the other."

1. Well, your answer is "a very simple" answer. There are a lot of factors that contribute to violent crimes such as rape and murder besides guns. For example, in the US certain racial/ethnic groups are overrepresented in violent crimes including violent crimes committed by guns (e.g. African-Americans). Not to mention certain genders and ages are likewise overrepresented in violent crimes (e.g. young men). Not to mention certain communities are more prone to violent crimes (e.g. socioeconomically disadvantaged communities). And so on and so forth.

2. Also, as I said to you, correlation isn't necessarily causation. At best, there may be a correlation between guns and violent crimes, but where's the argument there's a direct causal relationship between guns and violent crimes? You're missing a connecting argument.

"I agree. Many more guns = many more deaths."

1. That's not what I argued. I never said "Many more guns = many more deaths." You're just putting words into my mouth.

Instead, if I were to use your formulation, I'd say: many more guns = many more death by guns. However, I hasten to add it doesn't necessarily follow if there are less deaths by guns, then there will be less murders (or other violent crimes).

2. Besides, how does "more guns" even necessarily mean "more deaths" in general? For one thing, it depends on the population or community that's acquiring more guns. If you give more guns to a responsible police department, then that won't necessarily mean more guns will result in more deaths by police officers.

3. Similarly, if more good and responsible Americans are armed with more guns, it doesn't necessarily mean there will definitely be "many more deaths."

4. However, if you increase the number of guns among murderers and rapists, then, yes, it's plausible there will be more deaths by guns.

"And yes, having lots of deaths by sword would mean we should ban swords. In fact, the ownership and purchase of swords in many US states is more highly regulated than the ownership and purchase of firearms."

You're missing the point of the analogy if you think this is about banning swords.

"Yes, thankfully crime is very low in Australia across most categories."

That's not what the previous articles I've cited suggest.

"won't make an argument that this is because we banned guns as that cannot be tested."

You've just conceded your main argument! If it's true we cannot test whether banning guns has led to decreased violent crimes, then you can't make an argument that banning guns in the US will necessarily lead to lower violent crime either, because it cannot be tested. You're shooting yourself in the foot (pardon the pun). At best, we don't know.

"But since Australia brought in extremely strict gun laws in the wake of the terrible Port Arthur massacre in 1996, we have had no mass shootings. None. Zilch. Zip. Just to remind you, the US has had 372 mass shootings. Oh wait, that was just in 2015. In the 18 years before those laws were introduced, Australia had experienced 13 mass shootings."

1. Well, you just said it can't be "tested" if banning guns necessarily led to this. According to your logic, it could just as well be a complete coincidence!

2. According to this source, homicide incidents in Australia were already on the decline before the Port Arthur massacres, and in fact there were a couple of increases after Port Arthur:

"Further, since 1996, the Australian murder rate has fallen to close to one per 100,000 versus the US that has a murder rate of 4.5 per 100,000."

1. It depends on what source you're citing. I have no idea how accurate or inaccurate your sources are because you don't name them here.

2. Your citation is less than forthright, because you don't say if the US murder rates have increased or decreased or stayed the same. For example, if they have decreased from say 9.0 per 100,000 to 4.5 per 100,000 at the same time guns increased, then the correlation could be that guns helped decrease the murder rates.

3. Just to remind you, I already pointed out how it's often like comparing apples to oranges in comparing across different nations. For example, it could just as well be murder rates in Australia are due to Australians being peaceful people, whereas murder rates in the US are due to Americans being less peaceful people. If so, then this has nothing to do with guns, but temperament.

"Moreover, the robbery rate in Australia stands at half that of the US (58 v 113.1 per 100,000)."

1. Again, you yourself have admitted you couldn't "test" that banning guns necessarily led to lower crime, so you've conceded your main argument.

2. Again, it's overly simplistic to compare across nations like this. It fails to take into consideration so many other factors such as the ones I mentioned above.

3. Again, correlation isn't necessarily causation. Why is (arguendo) a lower robbery rate necessarily caused by banning guns? That's the real question.

4. Again, you cite the "robbery rate," but more important is what you leave out (e.g. whether those rates have increased, decreased, or remained; the time frame).

5. A national robbery rate doesn't tell us much if the demographics and other factors are completely different city to city or state to state.

Say 25 anti-gun states have a robbery rate of 100 per 100,000, whereas the 25 pro-gun states have a robbery rate of 1 per 100,000. That'd give us an average national robbery rate of approximately 50 per 100,000. Yet that'd be completely misleading, because the 25 pro-gun states actually have a much lower robbery rate than the anti-gun states.

"Now there are undoubtedly different factors that come into these differences."

Yup. And that's a crucial difference.

What makes you think, for example, that guns are what have directly caused violent crime in the US rather than, say, socio-cultural and socio-economic problems in the US? What makes you think gun violence is the cause rather than the symptom?

"But it certainly stands as stronger evidence that gun control works"

1. You're equivocating, because you originally talked about gun bans, yet now you're substituting gun bans with gun control.

2. If gun control is an issue, many cities or states in the US have plenty of gun control. Take Chicago. It has some of the strongest gun regulation laws in the nation. Yet that hasn't kept Chicago from suffering one of the highest violent crime rates including shootings in the nation.

3. In fact, if you really want to do a fair statistical comparison, then you should compare gun control policies (e.g. strict or relaxed) among US cities which are demographically similar (among other relevant factors). Although it would still fall short of arguing for banning guns, it'd at least be a more accurate assessment than comparing the U.S. as a whole to Australia as a whole.

4. Your citation of the statistics is far from rigorous. It leaves much to be desired as I've mentioned above (e.g. leaving out significant details).

You'd also have to accurately analyze the statistics cited.

"Bogus. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that shows that gun ownership helps any family protect themselves from incidents of crime."

Saying so doesn't make it so. But nice try.

Also, see here for some empirical evidence of gun ownership protecting people.

"In fact, guns in the household represent a hugely threatening factor to the family itself with the level of family homicide."

1. Not among responsible gun owners.

2. I could just as well assert like you (i.e. without argument) that "guns in the household represent a hugely protective factor to the family itself."

"There were 372 mass shootings in the US last year. How many of them involved the assailant being killed by a joe citizen with a gun?"

First tell me your source for this. I'll try to tell if it's a reliable source or not.

"Yes, I do want to cite statistics. Happy to do it all day."

As I've shown above, you "cite statistics" in a less than objective manner. As they say, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

"It provides for much more convincing argument than nonsense about how guns are essential to protect one's life, limb and property"

1. You earlier called Scalia a "fascist." Despite the fact that I offered counterpoints to this, which you never interacted with. That's the kind of stuff that's truly "nonsense." Given statements like this, it's reasonable to conclude your prejudicial ideological views are taking precedence over your ability to reason.

2. I suspect your prejudicial ideological views are likewise what's coloring your thinking on guns for the same or similar reasons as above.

3. "Statistics" don't make arguments for or against ethical principles. At best, they support the arguments for or against ethical principles.

4. Here's a fundamental question for you: why don't you think self-defense is a basic human right? If someone is attempting to murder me and my family, then why don't I have a right to defend myself? The only consistent answer I can see is if you're a pacifist.

5. Finally, legally speaking, the 2nd amendment is integral to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. No getting around that short of changing the Constitution.

Above and beyond the arguments for and against banning guns in the US is the fact that it's impractical to ban guns in the US. There are already too many firearms in circulation, too many gun black markets in and through the US, too many Americans unwilling to comply, etc.

If you insist on comparing the US to Australia:

1. Australia severely restricted ("banned") guns after Port Arthur (1996).

2. In that same time period, I've read the US actually relaxed gun control laws in most places. So it was generally easier to purchase firearms. For example, it's estimated there were about 200 million firearms in the US in the 1990s, whereas today we have around 300 million (e.g. here).

3. According to this Wiki article, the intentional homicide rates per 100,000 people were:

1995 Australia - 1.80 per 100,000.
1995 USA - 8.22 per 100,000.

2010 Australia - 1.16 per 100,000.
2010 USA - 4.80 per 100,000.

4. Hence:

Australia decreased in intentional homicides by 35.56%.
USA decreased in intentional homicides by 41.61%.

5. If the above is accurate, then the US actually had a slightly bigger decrease in intentional homicides than Australia over the same time period despite the fact that gun ownership has significantly increased.

6. On the one hand, "Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993."

But on the other hand, "Rate Of U.S. Gun Violence Has Fallen Since 1993, Study Says."

7. See the Pew Research Center on firearm deaths here:

Interlocutor #5

"I think one of the major issues is that most Americans don't know what it's like to live in a relatively gun-free culture. I've lived in Australia and then America (Chicagoland) for the last 2 years. The gun culture here, and the naivety of this idea of personal protection is crazy! Police don't want armed civilians, even if they're good guys with guns, and I much preferred it when the idea of a gun at school was a total impossibility not something that leads to metal detectors. I don't see America changing, unfortunately, if you can't change to the metric system, or to one dollar coins, I can't see you guys changing gun laws! ;) The analogy to scissors is the similar argument that pro-drug people say about alcohol - why don't we ban alcohol? It's just as dangerous as drugs..."

If what you say is true, then it's a double-edged sword. Cuts both ways. It could be turned around as well. An American who has lived in "gun-free cultures" like the UK or Australia could say something like: "most Australians don't know what it's like to live in the US where guns have kept people safe and prevented crime."

"How about we strongly restrict semi-automatic and general gun sales in the US and just see how it goes? That way we don't need to compare anything."

Semi-automatics are already quite restricted in the US. Although I suppose it depends what you mean by "restricted."

"there is no need for civilians to have automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Unless you're house is being robbed by zombie plagues."

1. Actually, I don't think you can kill "plagues" with a gun. You'd need antibiotics if it's a bacterial plague. :-)

2. For starters, check out the National Firearms Act to see how heavily these firearms are regulated.

3. A semi-automatic firearm (e.g. 007 or James Bond's Walther P99 pistol) is better to defend yourself if you are alone and you have multiple assailants against you.

"That's assuming the assailants have guns too! ;P"

1. Not necessarily. If they have knives, it's arguably just as if not more threatening (e.g. see here).

2. Also, if say someone is a single female, then, unless the female is Rhonda Rousey (or maybe even if she is), multiple assailants could easily and quickly overpower a female. She might not have time to get off more than a round or two if she's not using a semi-automatic firearm.

Of course, if a single person is attacked by multiple assailants each with a gun, then a semi-automatic gun as opposed to a single shot pistol would serve as a better defense against these assailants. :-)

"So, just in case I'm attacked by multiple gun or knife wielding assailants, who have broken into my house, through my locked door, and I am then able to get my semi automatic gun out of my safe and then get my ammo out of my separate storage place and load my gun, then I'm safer? Right. I'll choose Australia, and no gun, thanks."

What makes you think there are no criminals with guns in Australia? What's more, doesn't Australia even ban pocket knives and pepper spray in most states? So your option then is to have nothing except maybe a kitchen knife or other household wares to defend yourself against multiple assailants who have broken into your house in Australia. And maybe some self-defense classes. :-)

"You're assuming the best course of defence against armed intruders is a gun."

No, I never made that assumption. Although it's not necessarily mistaken.

"A gun that you'd be able to access, as well as access the ammo, and then be able to shoot all of the assailants before any of them got a shot off at you. Why are burglars even attacking the home owner? What percentage of burglars actually rob someone when they're home? Statistically, are you better off to comply with the burglar's demands or try to resist?"

1. I've already debated the statistics above.

2. People aren't statistics in the sense that, even if there's a 1% chance a family could be robbed or worse, how does that justify not protecting oneself?

3. Here are a few examples of guns protecting people in home invasions (e.g. here, here, and here).

"In my opinion, instead of trying to access my gun out of my safe then access my ammo out of a separately stored place, then load my gun, the go al vigilante on the burglars,"

Is this meant to be a caricature? It's certainly not necessarily how every single robbery or other home invasion goes down. For example, I've read stories of people barricading themselves while they armed themselves against intruders and even called 911 (e.g. here). Why isn't that just as true as your depiction?

"I'd just use my mobile to call the police"

1. When seconds count, the police are minutes away.

2. False dichotomy. You can do both i.e. call the cops and arm yourself.

"because my stuff isn't worth my life, or even the life of my burglars, it's just stuff."

1. That depends on what "stuff" you're referring to. A farmer who has his property burned would have his very livelihood threatened.

2. Also, not all burglars just want your stuff. Sometimes they want your life too.

Guns and suicides

"One of the most surprising benefits of Australia's gun law changes was the decrease in suicides!"

1. This assumes banning guns was the direct cause of the decrease in suicides rather than other factors (e.g. improved mental healthcare).

2. Also, it may be that "suicide by gun" rates in Australia have decreased, but this doesn't necessarily mean suicide rates in general in Australia have decreased overall. Maybe people have turned to committing suicide by some other means.

3. Finally, even if it's true, it doesn't necessarily mean it's applicable to the US. Maybe it is, but maybe it isn't. We'd have to tease it out some more.

"The states that relaxed gun laws slowly had a slower decrease in the suicide rate, and those that relaxed the quicker, quicker! This controls for other factors like mental health funding. Also, gun suicide is the most effective way to ensure death, and many people who try to commit suicide but fail regret that decision, when using a gun they are less likely to live and be able to regret their decision. And these findings have been replicated elsewhere, but perhaps Americans are wired differently to other humans and it's not worth even trying."

This too is from the article:

Leigh and Neill argue (pdf) that this paper's methodology is deeply flawed, as it includes the possibility that fewer than one death a year could occur. David Hemenway at the Harvard School of Public Health noted (pdf) that the Baker and McPhedran method would find that the law didn't have a significant effect if there had been zero gun deaths in the year 2004, or if there weren't negative deaths later on. The authors, he concluded, "should know better."

Since we're discussing guns and suicide:

Let's assume it's true banning guns in Australia directly led to a decrease in suicide rates.

However, that's not the case in other nations such as Japan and Korea which have extremely low gun ownership rates, while having high suicide rates.

At most, all we can say is it worked in Australia, but that doesn't mean it'd work elsewhere. To paraphrase what my interlocutor said (except about Americans): Perhaps Australians are wired differently to other humans.

1. One of the main methods of suicide in the US is hanging for men and poisoning for women. Should we seek to ban all rope or wires and all drugs?

2. In many developing nations, pesticides are responsible for the most suicide deaths. Some have said as many as 1/3rd of all suicide deaths globally are due to ingesting pesticides. Should these developing nations ban pesticides? Just let insects attack their crops, which may be their very sustenance and/or livelihood?

"Seriously? Are you playing the analogy argument again?"

Seriously? Are you acting sarcastically toward me? Rolling your eyes? What's with the attitude?

If it's mistaken, then correct it. Don't just scoff and attempt hand waive the argument away. That does nothing to blunt the argument.

"We can't ban everything, but heavily regulating hand fire arms, and banning semi-automatic weapons has been shown to work well in other countries, it might not work in the US but the evidence suggests that it's worth a shot!"

I've offered contrary arguments and evidence.

"Perhaps we should ban all pools since people still drown. NO."

Exactly. My point was a reductio ad absurdum.

"It's funny, most cancer treatments that work overseas also work in the US."

Seriously? Are you playing the analogy argument again?

"Most counselling techniques that work in Australia also work in the US."

Seriously? Are you playing the analogy argument again?

"If banning rope was shown to work in Oz I would be more than happy to suggest you try it in the US."

That reflects your own poor judgment.

"Banning guns ONLY decreased gun suicide rates! Banning guns does not take away suicidal thoughts!! The high level of stress in Japan and S Korea probably results in the high suicide rates."

Yes, and that's something implicit in all I've said - i.e. that banning guns isn't necessarily the cause, that there may be other factors involved. Or haven't you been paying attention?

"BUT the decrease in gun-related suicide attempts DECREASES the rate of successful suicides because gun suicides at over 90% successful compared to 5% for drugs."

The debate as such isn't over whether suicides are successful or not. Rather, the debate is over whether banning guns would work to decrease overall suicide rates in the US.

"My argument was that banning guns in Australia led to a decrease in suicides. A decrease in successful suicides,"

Actually, that begs the question (e.g. one of the articles you cited had conflicting evidence in it).

"So whether a suicide is successful or not is a key part of that! I never said that decreasing guns decreased the number of suicide attempts, I think you must've read that into what I said, and that's why you brought up Japan and S Korea. I'm sorry you misunderstood my statement,"

1. I see there's some newfound passive-aggressiveness (e.g. "I'm sorry you misunderstood my statement")!

2. No, that's not why I brought up Japan and South Korea. I brought them up because you're attempting to compare Australia to the US in terms of suicide rates and gun bans or severe restrictions. If it's licit to compare Australia with the US (which as I've said I don't think it is), then it's licit to bring in nations like Japan and South Korea as well.

3. In fact, if you wish to limit it to successful suicide rates, both nations still have higher *successful* suicide rates than the US despite gun bans/control. According to the World Health Organization (2014):

a. Successful suicide rates in the US = 12.38 per 100,000.

b. Successful suicide rates in Japan = 18.78 per 100,000.

c. Successful suicide rates in South Korea = 29.34 per 100,000.

4. For good measure, here's Australia:

Successful suicide rates in Australia = 10.65 per 100,000.

That's a 1.73 difference between Australian and the US in successful suicide rates per 100,000. How significant is a 1.73 decrease? Is it significant enough to justify banning all guns and all that this entails? If so, how so?

5. Cyprus has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world. Yet they have 4.65 successful suicides per 100,000.

Similarly Yemen has high gun ownership rates, but 3.66 successful suicides per 100,000.

Switzerland has high gun ownership rates if we include militia guns, and 9.56 successful suicides per 100,000. Less successful suicides than Australia despite greater gun ownership.

"but the idea that gun suicide attempts are far more likely to be successful was a key part of my argument, in fact I did say that guns were the most effective way to commit suicide, but you must've missed that."

No, I didn't miss it. It's true guns are "the most effective way to commit suicide." However, my point is it doesn't necessarily follow (without further argument and evidence) that therefore (successful) suicide rates would go down significantly enough in the US if we banned guns.

"And I was illustrating something far different to you, you are taking things that haven't been successfully banned elsewhere, or shouldn't or can't be banned, rope, pesticides."

1. No, incorrect. As I said, I was making a reductio. As such, it's not about whether or not it worked elsewhere. It's about the logic of the argument itself.

2. Besides, how is it logical to say, if it worked elsewhere, then it'll (very likely since it's worth trying) work in the US?

"Things where there is no successful precendent for banning. Whereas I was illustrating the fact that Americans are actually very similar to other people around then world, and methods that have been successful elsewhere have been implemented successfully in America."

Well, you made assertions, but you didn't give reasonable supporting argumentation for all of this. But nice attempted revision and updating of your argument.

In fact, you explicitly said: "perhaps Americans are wired differently to other humans and it's not worth even trying."

"Insert offensive personal attack like 'That reflects your own poor judgement'"

Is it a personal attack to call someone out for having poor judgment if they truly have poor judgment? If so, then the Bible made several personal attacks by calling people fools, etc.

If you honestly think we should ban all rope across the nation in order to decrease suicide by hanging with rope, then, yes, this reflects poor judgment, not sound judgment.

"It is flawed to compare the rate of successful suicides and gun ownership between countries."

1. Of course, you were originally trying to compare Australia with the US in terms of gun control and (successful) suicide rates.

2. However, YES! This has been my exact point this entire time! After all this time, thanks for agreeing with me. :-)

"Just because Japan has a high rate of successful suicides but a lower rate of guns . There are many factors that contribute the success of suicides, access to guns, access to drugs, the types of drugs people have access to, the levels of stress that lead up to suicide, access to mental health services, etc, etc."

Yup, exactly. Exactly what I've been saying to you and others this entire time. Just scan through all my posts (again) if you don't believe me or may have inadvertently forgotten (which is fair enough because there have been many posts). Successful suicide rates in the US (as well as violent crime in the US) may or may be caused by high rates of gun ownership. There could be many other factors involved.

"It's a hypothetical! Hence no judgement needed yet! You're judging my potential future judgement on evidence you haven't seen yet that may be very very convincing but that you've already decided isn't!!"

Well, I used a counterfactual: if, then. (In response to your own counterfactual.) I said: if it's true you honestly believe this, then it reflects poor judgment. If you don't, perhaps because there's no evidence for it, then it doesn't reflect poor judgment. However, that's ultimately up to you, not me.

"And, yes, the Washington Post article concedes that some other researchers disagree with their findings, but that doesn't mean it's invalid."

True, but it depends on the arguments and evidence put forward. The fact that there are conflicting arguments within the same article shows it's not necessarily a sure thing, despite the favorable slant including concluding paragraph.

"Some people deny climate change is man made, or that vaccines are effective...."

Of course, all three are separate and unrelated issues. They each don't necessarily have the same evidence base. The evidence for one may or may not be as strong as the evidence for another. We'd have to get more specific. Short of this, we can't necessarily fairly compare them to one another.

"Can of worms being opened..."

It seems to me it's just a standard concluding or end piece for a news article. We'd have to actually read through and analyze each study for ourselves if we want to make any real headway.

Last word from a fellow American

"It is always interesting following discussions amongst those outside the US who believe they know what is best for the US. Patrick, thanks for figuratively sticking to your guns. Great points. All valid. Another interesting statistic is to compare guns per homicide on a per-unit basis. In other words, x number of available guns per 100k per homicide. By the way, another family has been saved by the availability of a firearm."

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