Morning Links

Monday, February 20th, 2012
Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

112 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  oscar | 

    In the first link about the man handcuffed to a bench, pepper sprayed and beaten – he did not die. It is worth noting that the prison official responsible for the beating was named correction officer of the year just hours later in the state senate. Great timing.

  2. #2 |  hf | 

    Was “beaten to death” intended literally? It’s distracting to mix exaggeration with real stuff.

  3. #3 |  Al V | 

    He did hit him. That is bad.

    He did not beat him to death and get away with it. That is good.

  4. #4 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “•Man handcuffed to a bench, pepper sprayed, beaten to death in Tioga County, New York jail. No criminal charges.”

    Did they also put women’s panties on the guy’s head?
    These scenes, as captured on videotape, are so Abu Ghraib it’s not even funny. But it’s jail, not war, so the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply.
    And, based on the response of the prosecutor, it’s also perfectly legal.

  5. #5 |  Tom | 

    “Man handcuffed to a bench, pepper sprayed, beaten to death in Tioga County, New York jail. No criminal charges.”

    The victim of the jail house beating did not die, or even require hospitalization.

  6. #6 |  Chris Rhodes | 

    First link should read: “Was beaten to partial blindness”.

  7. #7 |  Radley Balko | 

    Thanks, fixed.

  8. #8 |  Nick | 

    The article on home schooling is interesting. While I think everyone should have the right to choose how to educate their child… given the general nature of many progressives to claim that people are harming the poor by pulling their good child from a bad school, I am delighted to see someone at least calling them on this, and telling them to put their own child in those schools to stand by their principles.

    To get to the actual material that is listed in the article though, it says ” Low-income kids earn higher test scores when they attend school alongside middle-class kids, while the test scores of privileged children are impervious to the influence of less-privileged peers.”

    Has that really been shown at all? I find it hard to be believe that children can be “impervious” to anything. It seems a rather blunt and outlandish statement, that frankly the rest of the premise depends on.

    And even if it could be shown that their performance doesn’t dramatically decrease, could their performance have been even higher yet without the bad influences that some children might bring? Isn’t that still something that a parent has a right to choose for their child?

  9. #9 |  DoubleU | 

    I know some good liberals, they speak highly of public schools, their child attends a private school.

  10. #10 |  David | 

    My favorite part of the beating story:

    “Coffey was eventually convicted of third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. He has been incarcerated in state prison since April 2011.”

    Attempted possession. ATTEMPTED POSSESSION. And he has been in prison for nearly a year.

  11. #11 |  Marty | 

    the Target article was fascinating, hilarious, and scary. using similar algorithms, I bet parents could really monitor their kids by using debit cards to track purchases.

  12. #12 |  Mattocracy | 

    “I said, ‘F—- you, you son of a bitch, now it’s my turn.”

    My grandmother told me that when you get over 70 or so, you stop giving a shit because you’ve got nothing to lose at this point in life. I’ll never fuck with a really old person. They are merciless people.

  13. #13 |  Mannie | 

    #12 | Mattocracy | February 20th, 2012 at 11:45 am
    “I said, ‘F—- you, you son of a bitch, now it’s my turn.”

    My grandmother told me that when you get over 70 or so, you stop giving a shit because you’ve got nothing to lose at this point in life. I’ll never fuck with a really old person. They are merciless people.

    I’m not over 70, but getting there. I no longer have the strength or stamina to fight with you (Not you personally, Matt ;-) ). I have to go for the kill right away. So yeah, don’t mess with that old fart.

  14. #14 |  Bruce S | 

    The stories about the shot cop and 90 year-old man seem to illustrate part of the dilemma around guns and their use in self-defense. I think you could make a valid argument that the victims’ guns made the situation worse in both cases and could have easily led to the deaths of both victims. In the first case, only a malfunctioning gun prevented Thomas from being shot multiple times at point blank range. It could have easily been a story about an off-duty officer “tragically” misreading a situation and killing the victim of an attempted robbery. And, as Radley has so often illustrated, the officer would have at most faced a period of paid leave.

    In the case of the 90 year-old, if the burglar had aimed slightly differently, the bullet could have severed the man’s spinal cord or lodged in his brain. And it would have been a story of an old man “tragically” dying in self-defense.

    Granted, one can certainly understand why both would turn to available guns. Thomas correctly determined that he was going to be robbed at gun point and the 90 year-old was being threatened by the criminal’s firearm. The liberal argument is simply that the victims’ guns made things worse. If Thomas had not had his Glock, would he have chosen to avoid the situation entirely? Or call the cops (granted that’s a problematic solution given relationships between police and poor minorities, but the solution is to try to fix that problem, not rely on self-defense instead)? Or even if he had been robbed, the three men may not have killed him. It was an awful situation, but is not the possibility of 25 years in prison or being killed by a police officer worse? From the second article, it does not seem likely the burglar would have shot the 90 year-old without the victim bringing his own gun into the situation. Again, granted, being robbed is horrible, but it beats being dead. I don’t want to blame the victims, but it does seem that their weapons may have made things worse for them.

    I’m not necessarily advocating stricter gun control here, rather I’m trying to make a reasonable liberal argument for the restriction of individuals’ rights. And I realize that such control would only take away weapons from the innocent party. But, though such laws would take control and rights away from victims, the restrictions might also be in their best interest. It’s not that liberals want to render people defenseless, it’s just that guns in general raise the potential lethality of any situation. Removing the victims’ or good guys’ guns could render the situation safer. Even when criminals still have guns.

    -Bruce

  15. #15 |  marco73 | 

    The first and last stories this morning show an interesting juxaposition.

    In the first story, the young correction’s officer, with 3 other guards, has to handcuff an already pepper-sprayed man to a bench, in order to apply a beatdown, for supposedly getting spit at.

    In the last story, a 90-year-old man exchanges bullets at close range with a 30-year-old armed robber who has already threatened to kill the old man.

    I’ll bet that old man could take any of those cowards in the Tioga County jail, just using his cane.

  16. #16 |  CyniCAl | 

    OT, the killing of U.S. Marine Manny Loggins on Feb. 7th by Orange County Sheriff Deputy Darren Sandberg remains a mystery two weeks later.

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/loggins-340938-deputy-department.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150604629712418_21030819_10150605111662418

  17. #17 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The very next day, Monell was honored on the floor of the New York State Senate as the “2010 Correction Officer of the Year.” The legislators who honored him had no idea what had happened only hours before.

    …or they’d have made him 2011 CO of the Year, too!

    He resigned and that was punishment enough, because (you know) state agents can’t actually commit crimes…just breach-of-procedure.

    Anyone think this ONE beating was an isolated event? Anyone?

    Also, why the fuck do cops/firemen CONSTANTLY give themselves awards? Even the biggest dipshit cop has a bookshelf full of awards and commendations. Scary circle-jerking there.

  18. #18 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Bruce,
    Your position (based on what you wrote) criminalizes a person who chooses to defend himself and removes the possibility of defense. Not just defense against armed evil-doers, but defense against someone who is just bigger than you and mad enough to beat you. Your reason for doing this is that maybe–maybe–a person trying to defend himself will actually make things worse.

    Add to this the often glossed over subject that “better” is subjective. For you, it is better to remove the slight chance of something bad happening. And to accomplish this, you’ll eagerly give up your right (and mine) to actually defend yourself.

    That cure, in my opinion, is a lot worse than the disease.

    Let people make their own choices.

  19. #19 |  Bob | 

    How Target knows your kid is pregnant.

    Don’t retailers have to fool you into “opting in” to their data mining scam before they can use your data? You know, by fooling you into getting a “loyalty card” or some crap?

  20. #20 |  Mannie | 

    @Boyd, Roger that!

    Bruce, is projecting unlikely hypotheticals in the case of real benefits. Had those hypotheticals been happening with any regularity, we would be reading about it in the predominantly anti-gun press.

  21. #21 |  Jozef | 

    $300 worth of crack? Based on the police method of calculating street value of confiscated drugs, they had to stick a microscope into his arse to find it.

  22. #22 |  Mario | 

    [A] growing body of research suggests “peer effects” have a large impact on student achievement. Low-income kids earn higher test scores when they attend school alongside middle-class kids, while the test scores of privileged children are impervious to the influence of less-privileged peers.

    Giving the above the benefit of the doubt, let’s be clear what’s being said by this article. Putting middle-class kids in school alongside low-income kids benefits those less fortunate and does not hurt the more fortunate. Nothing is being said one way or the other about whether middle-class kids would benefit from homeschooling, though presumably anyone who home schools their kid is doing so because of the perceived benefit to their child. In other words, assuming homeschooling is beneficial, then, even so, middle-class kids ought not to be home schooled. Instead, they ought to be made to sit in class, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others. In fact, they should be made to sit there even if they’d be better off being home schooled.

    I think it’s clear: good liberals and progressives should send their kids to a crappy public school, as this is consistent with their values collectivist values. Bus their kids into the worst schools, I say.

  23. #23 |  Juice | 

    I just checked in the mirror and it looks like there may be a crack-in-butt epidemic and I’m the latest victim.

  24. #24 |  Pasquin | 

    ‘Or something’ is right.

    The only person with a point in that article was the headline writer. Completely muddled.

  25. #25 |  EH | 

    How to exercise your rights at a DUI checkpoint (can’t make out the city):
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=053_1329365345

  26. #26 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    A growing body of experience strongly suggests that taking a pupil out of Public School and doing just about anything else for his education will have a positive effect on his learning, unless he is dead.

  27. #27 |  AlgerHiss | 

    If you think Target and their data mining is bad, how about what Tennessee wishes to do with prescripion drug databases:

    http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/feb/20/states-on-alert-for-rx-abuses/

    This freak’n drug war has invaded people’s lives in ways they never imagined.

  28. #28 |  H. Rearden | 

    Boyd – Your were much kinder to Bruce than I would have been, but since you responded first I’ll refrain from the explicative laden rant I was considering.

    I’m not necessarily advocating stricter gun control here, rather I’m trying to make a reasonable liberal argument for the restriction of individuals’ rights.

    Bruce, why do you contradict the first clause of this paragraph with everything that follows? Your arguement is not reasonable. Why do you feel the need to restrict a person’s individual rights on the premise that this may somehow provide a greater good for that person? You’re a statist doucebag. If you want to voluntarily cede your individual rights, feel free. If you like your odds better by submitting to an aggressor, more power to you. Me, I’ll make my own choices.

    PS: I don’t own a gun. Yet. I’d prefer to have a choice in the matter.

  29. #29 |  MacGregory | 

    #17 Boyd
    It reminds me of those “participation” certificates they gave us in elementary school. You didn’t win the contest or even place second, for that matter. You were just there.

  30. #30 |  Greg Beaman | 

    What’s it mean that the Target manager equates the label “conservative” with following the law?
    “We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.”

  31. #31 |  H. Rearden | 

    Greg- the term ‘conservative has more than a political definition. ie. A conservative estimate.

  32. #32 |  Bruce S | 

    Boyd, Mannie, & H. Rearden,

    As I said, I’m not necessarily arguing for gun control laws. But in both cases, the victims simply having a gun to defend themselves almost led to them being killed. Is that not the case?

    I actually agree with you. A person should have the right to defend themselves. But what jumped out at my from those stories is that such a right is not necessarily an unalloyed good. And, as such, a reasonable person could think that benefits to individuals if there were fewer guns outweigh the costs to individuals’ rights.

    It’s akin to the tragedy of the commons argument. Both victims were exercising their right to bear arms and use them in self-defense. Is it not reasonable to say that they are both worse off because of it? One is facing 25 years in prison and a ruined life, and the other was shot through his jaw and neck. If things happened slightly differently, both would be dead.

    I’m sorry if I’m coming off as a statist douche. I was just trying to start a discussion around what seem to be reasonable arguments. In all honesty, is there an argument that it was better for those two individuals that they had guns? Or, let’s grant the liberal point of view and ask what could be done to alleviate the costs of the right to bear arms without infringing on those rights. For example, perhaps in the Atlanta case, the officer having a taser would have been useful? With the amount of adrenalin that was surely coursing through Thomas’ body, he of course could not make clear decisions. I think he should be acquitted. On the other hand, the community does have a valid interest at stopping someone who is running down the street firing his gun. Could the officer have been trained to respond in a manner that incapacitated Thomas without killing him?

    Do others have thoughts about what could have lessened the odds of those near tragedies from happening?

    -Bruce

  33. #33 |  JSL | 

    “Removing the victims’ or good guys’ guns could render the situation safer. Even when criminals still have guns.

    -Bruce”

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Sure are a lot of ifs there in your screed. There are plenty of cases where not having a gun meant jack squat in preventing criminals from doing harm.

    If you get your desire, please put on some body armor and go knocking door to door to seize those good guys’ guns instead of paying your enforcers to do it for you.

  34. #34 |  Anthony | 

    EH:
    The DUI check point was in Vegas from what I saw in the Youtube version and the reddit thread.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Libertarian/comments/pj82i/this_is_how_you_do_it_las_vegas_dui_checkpoint/

  35. #35 |  capn_amurka | 

    Yizmo Gizmo:

    Wait just a minute. Why can’t we make an argument that the Fourth Geneva Convention apply??

    As Radley has pointed out many times, the militarization of the police has been proceeding for years. He made a post some time ago showing just how hard it is to distinguish police from soldiers. If the police/soldier line really is getting blurrier, eventually it should have legal effect.

    That is, if the police adopt military equipment and military tactics to fight a military-style conflict, at some point, there is a good faith argument to be made that the action (War on Drugs, Crime, Civil Liberties, etc.) is a real and undeclared war, that the police are a de facto military agency and party to the conflict, and that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies.

    I don’t know that we have reached that point, but at the very least, making such an argument in the proper forum could serve as a lever to slow police militarization if you can get the right people to see that this course could eventually lead to additional protections for those the police arrest/detain.

  36. #36 |  EBL | 

    Happy Washington’s Birthday/Presidents Day… Protein Wisdom had a link on how Abe Lincoln (when he was 57) held a seven pound ax out straight armed in front of awed workmen. That is a very heavy ax (more like a sledge hammer) and he was holding it from the bottom of the handle. The workmen (who used axes every day) could not do it. So maybe there is something to making Abe Lincoln a superhero vampire hunter.

    And that photo of Teddy Roosevelt? It is not photoshopped.

  37. #37 |  Anthony | 

    Bruce,
    I think I get what you’re saying. You have the right to defend yourself but it’s not always the better option. In other words “Pick your battles”
    You’re not suggesting more gun control laws but more gun discretion- from the end users.

  38. #38 |  Bruce S | 

    JSL,

    By good guys, I meant it would potentially even be better for beat cops not to have guns. If the cop’s gun had worked properly, Thomas would be dead for the “crime” of defending himself.

    Or the recent case of the NYPD shooting killing an unarmed teenager in his apartment. If they had only tasers, I’m sure the boy would probably be severely injured. But probably not dead.

    As for the coulda, shoulda, woulda point, yes, there are plenty of cases in which the victims having a gun did no harm. However, in these two specific cases, the victims’ guns made things worse for their owners, no?

    Is it really so hard to admit there are costs associated with the right to bear arms? And that it’s reasonable to be worried about those costs? And wouldn’t it be worthwhile to acknowledge those concerns and address them? Thus perhaps convincing the other side? Or collaboratively finding solutions to those costs that everyone could agree on? Or finding points of agreement? Would it not be helpful to get the anti-gun lobby on board the fight against police militarization?

    Simply stating that everyone in favor of gun control is a statist douche or unconcerned about victims or just want to take away people’s rights doesn’t get anywhere. I just think those two stories (especially Thomas’s) would be good starting places for a productive discussion.

    -Bruce

  39. #39 |  H. Rearden | 

    Bruce – when you talk of collectivist action to reduce ‘the costs associated with the right to bear arms,’ how can you mean anything other than arguing for gun control laws? What else could you possibly mean?

    What costs are you personally bearing as a result of these incidents? Could you identify any ‘cost savings’ that result from the fact that there are millions of law-abiding gun owners in the country. If you need any help, please see this: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=14031

  40. #40 |  Mannie | 

    Is it really so hard to admit there are costs associated with the right to bear arms? And that it’s reasonable to be worried about those costs?

    There is a cost to everything. There is an old military aphorism:“Everything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing.” The best data I’ve seen shows that citizen use of firearms reduces crime. And I believe citizen use is greatly under reported. If there is no discharge, people are apt to shut up, because they are afraid of the police. So, despite the price, there is a net benefit.

    Answer to the sorts of problems cited? That’s a tough one. i always recommend more range time, and specific tactical practice, but I’m not sure it would have helped in the instant cases.

  41. #41 |  Dante | 

    RE:Good liberals should send their kids to a crappy public school to show their support for crappy public schools.

    Jimmy Carter did this to his daughter, Amy.

    Bill Clinton did NOT do this to his daughter, Chelsea.

    Did it matter? Both seem to be fine today.

  42. #42 |  Stephen | 

    re : Bruce

    A sample size of 2 is nowhere near good enough. Every situation involves individuals that have unique abilities and desires.

    I prefer to not let the bad guy be the only one in a position to make a decision. I have several guns, I may choose to use one of them, or not. Sometimes “not” would be the better choice but at least I have the option. Please don’t try to take away my option.

  43. #43 |  Deoxy | 

    Bruce’s argument is a really common one, and we should be able to answer it with much better than name-calling. In fact, I think we can, and we do, but doing so explicitly in direct response would be good practice. As he said, that’s the sort of argument gun-control-leaning people, and those who haven’t really thought about it but just regurgitate what they’ve been spoon fed, are going to start with.

    In those two cases, I think it’s important to note that yes, in those specific cases, it looks like the situation may well have ended worse than it might otherwise have done. In fact, I think one could come up with a small but not tiny number of such cases each year. In response, the low-ball estimate for defensive gun uses each year is in the hundreds of thousands.

    That seems like a good payoff to me, a small risk for a high reward.

    Also, the advantages being suggested (fewer arms would mean fewer of these situations) is a very VERY short-term, short-sighted advantage – for the long term result, look at the UK, where home invasions are commonplace now (and they weren’t, just not too long ago). When self defense is limited, the cost/benefit analysis of criminals changes (and the evidence is that such cost/benefit thought really is done, though it may be subconscious and flawed).

    “It is a hard case for that young man, and I hate to see it be that way,” Melvin said. “You can’t say how scared he was or why he couldn’t understand the guy was a police officer. But if he doesn’t go to jail, it will look like he can shoot a police officer and get away with it.”

    Apply this to ONE FREAKING CASE where the situation is reversed (cop shooting non-cop by accident) and I would consider listening to you. Otherwise, you’re a self-serving [self-censored].

  44. #44 |  Deoxy | 

    Oh, and hey, gotta give that author in the “send your kids to public school” piece credit for honesty… though it looks like she doesn’t have kids (no comments on any that on her website). When/it she does have kids, who wants to bet she changes her tune?

  45. #45 |  Xenocles | 

    The public schools in Loudoun County VA are desperately overcrowded, so as far as I can tell we’re doing their system a favor by homeschooling. That of course is on top of the property tax we pay that funds the schools we don’t use.

    I’d also note that the poor kids in the school didn’t do much learning from me. They were mostly too busy harassing me or picking fistfights.

    Most important of all, perhaps, is that my kids are not tools for the planners to use. They are human beings with their own purposes, abilities, and goals. They deserve more than to be sacrificed in a vain attempt to validate the lunatic theories of leftist educators.

  46. #46 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Bruce, #32:

    That’s one way of looking at it. Another way would be that the poor man was almost killed by armed robbers who would have been enraged by the fact “their” $2,000 wasn’t present, and managed to save himself, with his gun.

    Then there’s the police officer. He assumed that an armed citizen MUST be a criminal and reacted accordingly. Carrying a gun isn’t a crime, in most civilized places. That’s because civilized governments presume innocence until guilt is proven. But the officer didn’t do that, did he? He saw a man with a gun, and took down the perp at gunpoint.

    Now, here we have the victim of a violent crime, confronted with considerable evidence that he has just encountered another member of the gang. He saw what he believed to be gang tattoos on a man who had driven up in a non-police vehicle. Yes, that man was in uniform, but almost anyone can get a realistic-looking police uniform for $40 at the local costume shop.

    A bad cop and a criminal gang almost killed the man. Having the gun saved his life.

  47. #47 |  Brandon | 

    #27, I don’t actually think the Target thing is bad, because I can opt out of it. Or choose not to opt in. I do opt in, because I actually like having discounts tailored to my purchase history, and consider that fair value exchange for my information. King Soopers is especially good about this, and gives great deals to Soopercard members. The State databases, of which Colorado has been a participant for years, are creepy and authoritarian because they are neither voluntary nor valuable, just another government intrustion into peoples’ lives.

  48. #48 |  Goober | 

    Bruce – how can you be sure that the robber wasn’t planning on shooting the old man execution style at the end of the robbery in order to eliminate any witnesses? You weren’t there. Maybe the old man picked up on some subtle cues that had him thinking he was in a fight or die situation. Maybe the only reason that he is alive today is because he fought back. The same is true of the other story – maybe the robbers would have killed him dead on the spot and he’d have never lived long enough to get arrested?

    All I know is that as soon as an aggressor starts to try and control your actions – stuff like “on your knees” or “move over there” or “go into the other room” or “come over here behind this building” the chances that he is planning on killing you grow exponetially. That is why you should never allow yourself to be moved to the second crime scene, or controlled by your aggressor in any way, because by it’s very nature, where he is moving you is a location more suitable for the robber’s needs and less suitable for yours. Fight right there, right then. If they want your wallet, give it to them – don’t fight because it isn’t worth dying over. if they want you to step into the alleyway, then fight with everything you’ve got,a s if fighting for your life, because you probably are.

    This old man had aready moved to the second crime scene. Statistically speaking, he was about to die, and he had to act in response to that.

  49. #49 |  Wade | 

    RE: Bruce 32
    There is a valid reason for the discussion about “reasonable restrictions” on a fundamental right to devolve to name calling. Fundamental rights are just that. RIGHTS.

    If it is subject to restriction for the convenience of the majority or the state, then it is not a right. Proposals to limit the right to arms are deserving of no more respect that proposals to limit the rights to freedom of (from) religion or proposals to limit the rights of free speech or assembly.

    In other words, gun control advocates deserve no more respect than supporters of obscenity laws, supporters of restrictions on religion, or supporters of slavery. They may be nice to their pets and parents; but just like all other tyrant wannabes, they will do evil in the name of improving society.

  50. #50 |  CyniCAl | 

    Radley got a link from the Future of Freedom Foundation today, regarding the NH tank controversy:

    http://us.mc1810.mail.yahoo.com/mc/showMessage?sMid=2&fid=Inbox&sort=date&order=down&startMid=0&filterBy=&.rand=2095633851&midIndex=2&mid=1_33800_ANzHimIAATfFT0J5YgM%2FEAAcGnE&fromId=fff@fff.org&m=1_38940_AH3GimIAAN4wT0LaugzetEReYzU,1_34925_AHDGimIAASQhT0KK6Qs4PVR96rM,1_33800_ANzHimIAATfFT0J5YgM%2FEAAcGnE,1_27994_AN7HimIAAC%2FdT0HVwwMweAwJbjI,

  51. #51 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “As far as I was concerned at the time, Monell was a lieutenant, and he was resigning his position as a result of the incident,” Keene said. “I was of the opinion that that was enough — that he didn’t need to have charges brought against him.”

    How interesting. If I as a lowly (read: not a state agent) hospital security officer were to beat a man so badly that he suffered a permanent eye injury would it be enough for me to be terminated from my organization. No and hell no. I would not only be unemployed, but I would be charged criminally. And rightly so! This would probably be followed up by calls for the police to come in and provide security to the hospitals since us lowly “rent-a-cops” just can’t handle it. You know, because police these days are known for coming into tense environments and making things calmer.

  52. #52 |  Bruce S | 

    [Sorry if there are multiple postings. The comment board does not seem to work from my computer, so I'm reposting from my phone]

    Hi all,

    Deoxy and H Rearden, you both mention studies supporting the benefits of defensive gun use. However, the Cato white paper does not actually offer any direct figures. Rather, it is a collection of news articles. While details are certainly import, data is not the plural of anecdote. It did not seem there was any support for the paper’s conclusions other than specific stories. I was hoping that they were going to offer some statistical analysis of their dataset, because the approach seemed like a good alternative to self-report surveys.

    Furthermore, the National Institute of Justice report (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf) from which the white paper takes it’s only figures does not seem to support Cramer and Burnett’s argument. It concludes:

    “Evidence suggests that this survey and others like it overestimate the frequency with which firearms were used by private citizens to defend against criminal attack.”

    and

    “The NSPOF does not provide much evidence on whether consumers who buy guns for protection against crime get their money’s worth. The NSPOF- based estimate of millions of DGUs each year greatly exaggerates the true number, as do other estimates based on similar surveys. Much debated is whether the widespread ownership of firearms deters crime or makes it more deadly—or perhaps both—but the DGU estimates are not informative in this regard.” (Sorry, I don’t know how to block quote).

    Also, the high estimates from the white paper seem to stem from a survey in which just 45 people had reported defensive gun use. When the NIJ use the criteria from the one of the conservative papers (by Kleck and Gertz) the number drops to 19 reports of defensive gun use. Granted 19 is more than 2, but it’s in the same neighborhood.

    Do you have any additional studies to recommend? I actually would really like to see some, so I can play devil’s advocate in more liberal circles.

    As for the example of increased home invasions in the UK, I think a reasonable person could argue that the trade off is worth it. Less deaths for more burglary sounds like it might be a good thing. And the criminal cost/benefit argument goes both ways: if criminals think it’s less likely that victims won’t have guns, they may not carry them (a possibility mentioned in the NIJ report).

    In terms of “costs” associated with gun use, I mean more people are dying than would be the case if guns were more strictly regulated. I think it’s a reasonable liberal argument that the more guns in any encounter, the higher the chance of someone being killed. Rather than gun control laws, could we do other things that would reduce the incidents in which guns are used? Perhaps focus on police reform? More community policing so that men like Thomas don’t feel as much of a need to defend themselves? If he had a positive image of cops, perhaps he could have arranged the drop off in front of a police precinct rather than at a service station. If there were some friendly cops out front, I doubt the criminals would have tried to rob him. Yes, reality is a *long* *long* way from this, but better community policing seems like an issue on which liberals and libertarians could work together.

    Also, would it be potentially worth it to do a little political horse trading with gun control advocates? Are there restrictions that we could live with in trade for support for shutting down SWAT teams? Or a police policy in large cities that the presumption is officers must try to subdue suspects with non-lethal methods before resorting to guns? After all, it seems like a pretty sellable argument: by reducing the number of guns in circulation we are reducing the need for police to be so heavily armed. (I’m not suggesting that the restrictions get put in place first. Rather it would a collective reform that addresses both gun control and police militarization). 

    Lastly, Deoxy, amen to your comments on the quotation from the insane prosecutor. The message sent isn’t that it’s ok to shoot cops. It’s that Thomas deserves the benefit of the doubt that he truly, reasonably believed that Roach wasn’t a cop and defended himself accordingly. Which seems like a perfectly just precedent to me, especially with the absurdly huge benefit of doubt we give to cops in much, much more ambiguous scenarios. And we’re paying them to react calmly under pressure!

    -Bruce

  53. #53 |  Bruce S | 

    Wade @49

    But we do restrict other rights in the name of public goods. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre after all.

    Also, given that gun control advocates aren’t going to disappear, wouldn’t it be useful to develop arguments that grant some of their assumptions? Even if you are correct that nothing justifies restricting the right to bear arms, there’s plenty of people who believe otherwise. You might be able to convince some of them that restricting guns is not the solution to their concerns. And that’s a lot easy to do when you construct the argument from their point of view. Also, not comparing them to supporters of slavery might be helpful. :)

    -Bruce

  54. #54 |  Xenocles | 

    Bruce @53-

    “But we do restrict other rights in the name of public goods. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre after all.”

    Likewise, we restrict the manner in which guns can be used. You can’t shoot a person for no good reason after all.

  55. #55 |  Bruce S | 

    @48 Goober

    You’re right. I wasn’t there. Perhaps having the gun saved Thomas (who’s 31, not exactly an old man) from being shot by criminals. But running down the street with a gun almost got him killed by a cop. Moreover, Thomas remained at the station to meet his robbers. If he didn’t have a gun, would he have chosen a different way to handle the situation? Perhaps one that would be safer for him? Are there things we could do to make safer options more available to good men like Thomas, so it would be an easier choice not to carry a gun? Would that not both be good for Thonas and his community and also be a powerful argument against gun control? Yes, Mr. Gun Control Advocate, Thomas having the gun made the situation more dangerous, but if we do [X], he might have been able to avoid the situation entirely. And isn’t [X] better, because it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights?

    -Bruce

  56. #56 |  Debi | 

    That homeschooling article doesn’t seem very well-researched. As a white, middle class, socially liberal, attachment-parenting, formerly-unschooling, homeschool mom, allow me to clear up a few things.

    1. It’s not just white, middle class, stay-at-home moms homeschooling! There is racial and cultural diversity amongst homeschoolers. Public schools are still more diverse, but homeschooling is increasing in popularity and people are realizing that it’s not as inaccessible as everyone thought. I’ve seen huge shifts in the homeschooling population over the last five years alone.
    2. Homeschooling isn’t just for people in a specific economic class! While I don’t know many wealthy homeschoolers (they seem more likely to utilize the private schools), I do know many financially struggling (aka poor) homeschoolers. Poor people love their children and worry about their educations, too!
    3. Homeschooling isn’t just for stay-at-home moms! I know a lot of work-at-home moms who homeschool. Running an in-home daycare is one way that some families homeschool. There are also homeschooling dads! And there are parents who work different shifts in order to homeschool their kids.
    4. Some single parents homeschool. They do! Really! It’s certainly a lot more difficult, but I know people who manage it.
    5. An awful lot of homeschoolers did have their children in public schools. Some homeschoolers pull their kids out because they’re not challenged enough, some because they’re bullied, some because the school won’t meet their special needs, some because the teachers are abusive, and so on. The parents don’t necessarily want to homeschool (they attend meetings with school personnel month after month to try to resolve the issues), but feel like they don’t have a choice if they want their kids to be safe and educated. If the public schools (or the stereotypical liberals from this article that I never seem to meet in person) want to hold onto these kids, they need to change how they’re doing things. Parents are getting all kinds of pissed off. I’m contacted by someone considering homeschooling because of the school system at least monthly, and I’m no one important in the homeschool community – just a friend of a friend, generally.
    6. My kids (ages 4 and 9) don’t just have me as a teacher. One or both of them also go to classes with: an art teacher, a guitar teacher, a Kung Fu teacher, and a PE teacher. My younger child also goes to an in-home daycare two mornings a week. I recognize that I’m privileged enough to afford these classes. So, who else teaches my kids, free of charge? Other homeschooling moms! I’ve participated in a couple of homeschool co-ops, and that’s how we’re currently covering a Health curriculum. My kids also learn a lot from people who work in museums, banks, stores, the post office, and other places we routinely visit. They ask questions. I encourage them to do things themselves (go get change for this $20, ask the librarian for this kind of book, buy this toy by yourself), and they learn from those experiences and from asking questions of the people they’re interacting with. My kids also ask strangers questions all the time! Someone passing us on the sidewalk while walking a dog will be grilled about that kind of dog, for example. My kids participate in many free and low-cost educational activities, whether through the library or local businesses or museums; they interact with other adults all the time in learning environments.
    7. No, we don’t want to be regulated. Why? Well, the public schools are regulated, and they often suck. We are meeting our children’s individual educational needs. Some children need more structure, some less, and some learn best completely unschooled. Some kids do great on tests, while others end up with major anxiety and fail them, neither really learns anything from the tests. Some homeschoolers teach subjects in a specific order, while others do unit studies – using their children’s interests to teach a variety of subjects. How do you regulate such a diverse population, exactly?
    8. I HATE HATE HATE the assumption that you have to be well-educated to homeschool your kids. Be literate. If you can read and have about an 8th grade education, you can do fine. The books at your local library and the internet can cover just about any subject. You actually re-learn things you’ve forgotten when you homeschool.
    9. Homeschooled kids have friends. At least the ones I know do. They’re not poorly socialized. We actually have two homeschool community centers in my area, where kids gather to participate in social activities (lego club, game day, tween night, etc.) Homeschool parents like to get the kids together to hang out. It gives us a chance to socialize, too! And our kids play in our neighborhoods with all the other kids as well.
    10. The homeschoolers I know homeschool for many reasons, but at the top of the list is a desire to be a part of our children’s lives. Public schooled kids come home with hours of homework, even in Kindergarten! School, homework, dinner, bedtime (and nagging time and socializing with friends time and tv time and outside activity time…) – when do they get to reconnect with their families? When do they talk about their lives? I’m very aware that my children need to pull away from me at certain ages/ developmental milestones. And I work to enable that to happen. But, I don’t think it’s at all healthy when it’s forced.

    I don’t know what to say about the big issue in the article -that liberal homeschoolers are doing everyone a disservice by not sacrificing their children to the public school system. I don’t have the mentality that I owe anyone that. Frankly, I think the argument is ridiculous. I’m here to parent my kids, not save everyone else’s by not doing what’s best for mine.

  57. #57 |  Bruce S | 

    @54 Xenocles

    But some people believe further restriction is necessary. My point is that it’s a lot easier to convince those people that they’re wrong, if you grant them their premise for the point of debate. Yes, Mr. Liberal, you’re right that these situations are bad and that the presence of guns made them more dangerous. But if we do [X], we can ameliorate the situation and make it less likely for guns to be involved. We can address your valid concern without infringing on a fundamental right.

    -Bruce

  58. #58 |  buzz | 

    “However, in these two specific cases, the victims’ guns made things worse for their owners, no?”

    No. This is unknowable. The guy with the tires could have been killed by the robbers because he didnt have the $2K. The old man could have been tortured and killed because his robber thought he had money. All we know is what actually happened. There is no way anyone can say these two cases ended worse for the victims. You can not claim both would have walked away from their situations had they only been unarmed.

  59. #59 |  Onlooker | 

    This gun discussion has gotten lost in a forest of details, with the fundamental issue being glossed over or ignored.

    It’s about giving people the freedom to make their own choices and then live with the consequences. Who are you to make the decision for them as to what is best for THEM?

    That’s the nanny state mentality that says only the govt elites can know what’s best for you and they need to regulate everything under the sun and make damned sure you’re obeying them. That’s the crap that has (us) libertarians in a tizzy.

    Of course when you encroach on other peoples’ freedoms or do harm them, that’s a whole other ball of wax. But that’s a fundamental tenet of libertarianism too.

  60. #60 |  zendingo | 

    @ 58: Buzz

    very well said…

  61. #61 |  Woog | 

    Bruce said, “Is it really so hard to admit there are costs associated with the right to bear arms? And that it’s reasonable to be worried about those costs? And wouldn’t it be worthwhile to acknowledge those concerns and address them?”

  62. #62 |  Woog | 

    Bruce said, “Is it really so hard to admit there are costs associated with the right to bear arms? And that it’s reasonable to be worried about those costs? And wouldn’t it be worthwhile to acknowledge those concerns and address them?”

    Freedom is scary; deal with it. Rights are non-negotiable, being recognized as self-evident and pre-existing government by the founding legal document of the united States. Advocating for any form of restrictions on firearms ownership is advocating for the use of guns by others to strip innocent citizens of their inherent right of self-defense; doing so while claiming not to be a statist douch is in fact a mark of a statish douch. At least be intellectually honest about it.

  63. #63 |  Woog | 

    In regards as to how to help resolve future issues, education and training feature highly. The cop panicked and ejected his firearm’s magazine in his haste. Police nationwide have been conditioned to believe that a “man with a gun” is a criminal by default, which as this story seems to highlight, is absolutely not the case.

    Further, the cop was driving an unmarked vehicle while in uniform. It’s relatively easy to obtain a cop uniform – it’s less so to obtain a functional and properly-marked police car. The military bans most visible tattoos citing professional standards – would it be too much to ask for something similar from a profession tasked with peace-keeping when more is asked of those whose job it is to kill people and break stuff?

    The ultimate punchline is the clown in the linked article pushing for prison time, even if the robbery victim is being completely honest. There used to be a concept known as “mens rea”, having a “criminal mind” and intent to do evil. A justice system can only be just if it respects such a concept; ours evidently does not.

  64. #64 |  H. Rearden | 

    Bruce seems to think that there’s some magical combination a conditions that can be identified and when met it would be self-evident that the need for firearms for self-defense were unnecessary and antithetical to personal safety.

    if we do [X], he might have been able to avoid the situation entirely. And isn’t [X] better, because it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights?

    WTF. He actually thinks there is a solution for [X], and that once [X] is implemented, no person could act in a way that would negate the validity of solution [X].

    Also, given that gun control advocates aren’t going to disappear, wouldn’t it be useful to develop arguments that grant some of their assumptions?

    Bruce, their (your) only argument is their (your) good intentions. Any concept of infringement of rights or unintended consequences is lost on them (you). Its impossible to argue against someone’s (your) good intentions after accepting the validity of their (your) statist and nearsighted assumptions.

  65. #65 |  Colonel Mustard | 

    Pepper spray should be outlawed. No one should have it. How many stories are out there like this one or even worse? Who knows. It’s just one more tool that power tripping control freaks use to torture others. They handcuffed the prisoner to the bench so he couldn’t wipe his face or try to ease his own suffering. Pepper spray makes it too easy to abuse people.

    It would have been more humane to tackle the prisoner, shackle him, then drag him to the area he was being relocated to. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me. It wouldn’t be pretty. But it would have been less trouble than having groups of men handcuff him, then leave while the Lt. can go in and have some private time with him.

    I have a little sympathy for guards. I wouldn’t want their job. I wouldn’t want to deal with criminals who make a sport of acting out. But pepper spray and tasers are just tools of abuse. Get rid of them all.

  66. #66 |  JOR | 

    “It’s about giving people the freedom to make their own choices and then live with the consequences.”

    This is stupid. Everyone always has the freedom to make their own choices (unless they’re in a coma); everything else is an argument over which consequences they should be forced (yes, even in minarchistan or libertopia – forced) to live with.

  67. #67 |  Mike T | 

    Bruce,

    You are operating under a false assumption when you suggest that there are effective alternatives like community policing or mandating some new level of non-lethal force. We already have a lot of police in this country, more than enough for most areas. Second, non-lethal force is by law the presumption that they are supposed to work with but that is systematically ignored. Liberals can either deal with the world as it actually is or continue insisting on reforms that are never going to work against entrenched bureaucracy.

    With respect to the Thomas case, Thomas’ gun did not endanger him except when he chose to chase after the robber. Even then, it endangered him mainly because of law enforcement training which presumes that anyone brandishing a weapon in public must be taken down with force. That is another example of one of the actual behaviors of police which your reforms would never work well with. The police would have responded with force even if he were wielding a 2×4 or baseball bat.

    Furthermore, the fact is that Thomas was in a situation in which he knew someone was out to victimize him. That is a rare situation and one in which liberalism has no solution for because there was no way to get a police officer there to actually do anything about it. He knew it in his gut that they had that ill intent for him, but that is an insufficient basis for probable cause for the police to do much for him.

    If you want to reduce the costs associated with guns, you need to instead create a culture in which criminals know that law-abiding citizens will not be punished for using force in self-defense (including property). Detaching consequences to any degree from criminality does more to foster it than anything else. Even people who are motivated by poverty will think twice about victimizing their fellow citizens if they know that going outside the system may result in them being on the receiving end of lethal force.

  68. #68 |  Burgers Allday | 

    A “I sed eff u” story:

    Lurking, emerging legal issue:

    “Cutrufelli spent nine days at Marin General Hospital before he was well enough to be booked into jail. His public defender, Kathleen Boyle, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges, saying Cutrufelli was denied access to a lawyer while he was in the hospital, and the crime scene was contaminated in the interim.”

    Increasingly, police are using the hospital (sometimes an undisclosed hospital) as a way to: (i) effectively arrest someone, but (ii) still question them; and (iii) not give the suspect access to a lawyer. This needs to stop and hospitals and defense lawyers need to work together to stop it.

    Don’t get me wrong, a suspect can be placed under arrest (officially) at a hospital, and I don’t think anyone has a problem with that.

    Of course, the most recent famous case was where they held Matthew Stewart at an undisclosed hospital. When Matthew Stewart finally got a lawyer, the lawyer made some noises about this (I believe he framed it as a speedy charging issue). But, the point is that it is an arrest, and the police can be forced to make it official by simply have the patient try to leave the hospital.

    Of course, the biggest reason that police don’t want to arrest hospital patients because then the government pays the cost of the post-arrest hospital care.

    Anyway, this Cutrufelli case has an aspect of that in the part I quoted above. Of course, you hate to see a guy who shot a 90 year old get any breaks, but cases like this are often more sympathetic (like the Matthew Stewart case)

    I predict that this is a legal issue that will see a lot of action in the next five years. It is pretty clear that police will try to argue that they can effectively arrest hospital patients without really arresting them for legal purposes. I hope the criminal bench sees right thru this kind of tomfoolery, but probably too many ex-prosecutors and ex-ag’s to get any decent law at this point in time to address this new (or at least newly-abused) trick.

  69. #69 |  Pugnacious | 

    I suggest that reporting on these jailhouse beatings should include any information on the military police “war on terror” legacy of these law enforcement criminals that are engaging in the torture and beatings of suspects.

    How many have received training from former IDF or Mossad operatives. It is a fact that many of the torturers and instructors at Abu Ghraib were dual-citizenship Israelis.

  70. #70 |  Bruce S | 

    H. Rearden,

    My point is that for many gun control advocates, restricting gun ownership is not the point. It’s the concern that guns make situations more likely to end up with someone dead. If we can talk about doing things that address that concern without restricting firearms, many liberals will be honestly interested.

    As I mentioned earlier, gun control advocates could be allies against police militarization. Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone if Thomas felt he could rely on the police for protection in that situation? And for that to actually be the case? Given that he couldn’t, it’s a positive good that he had a firearm to defend himself, but does it automatically make someone a statist douche to wish that he didn’t have to?

    Also, if the good Samaritan, Melvin, had his own firearm, Thomas would be dead. He picked up the officer’s weapon and pulled the trigger. Granted it’s the cop’s fault for escalating the situation, but Melvin understandably judged the situation as a man trying to kill a cop. That Thomas wasn’t at fault would do him little good if he were dead.

    More importantly, I really so think some gun control advocates could be allies against the overuse of SWAT teams. After all, the same concern about guns making the situation more lethal applies in those cases. It’s a utopian thought, but it would be an improvement to just take the guns away during arrests for non-violent drug offenses. It would probably make them think twice about breaking down doors if all they had were pepper spray. And we’d be hearing about puppy-sprays, rather than puppycides. Still bad, but better, no?

    In many ways, the principle of removing guns from dangerous situations applies more to the police. After all, most private gun owners don’t use them in self-defense on a regular basis. In last year’s killing of Jose Guerena (the former Marine), it would have been better simply to remove the cops’ guns. Guerena was better trained and unlikely to have killed anyone with his AR-15.

    Or remove the cops’ guns in the recent killing of Ramarely Graham in the Bronx. Even if they break down his apartment door and blantantly violate his rights, he still wouldn’t be dead.

    I mean, I’m a statist douche who believes that Thomas was completely justified in his actions, that he absolutely should be acquited, that Roach is primarily responsible for escalating the encounter to a brawl. Is it really not reasonable to think that guns can make dangerous situations more lethal? And want to change things to make that less likely? Preferably by methods other than gun control, but if that turns out to be impossible, talk with gun owners about what would be reasonable restrictions? I mean we can at least agree that paroled violent felons should at the very least receive more
    scrutiny before purchasing a firearm? That the right to bear arms is not absolutely inalienable (in the way we would find similar restrictions on that paroled felon’s speech objectionable)?

    -Bruce

  71. #71 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi Mike T,

    Ok, dealing with the world as it is, what if we could pass a law stating that any officer involved in a mistaken shooting would not be able to carry a firearm for a year? And after 3 incidents, never be allowed to carry a firearm on duty again. Yes, the entrenched bureaucracy would find ways to redefine mistaken, but it would change the calculations for police gun use.

  72. #72 |  Bruce S | 

    Sorry, didn’t finish.

    Another thought would be to tie funding to reducing mistaken shootings. And increase funding for urban departments that have more police walking the streets rather than driving around in their cars. Thomas did have time before the other men arrived. If a cop walked by and he trusted the cop, he could have asked him to stick around. Yes, that’s the happy liberal version. But would it not be better to attempt to push police back to a paradigm in which they are friendly members of the community?

    I get that the state doesn’t do its job very well. But does that really mean that we should give up on it entirely? And simply rely on private individuals to protect themselves? Would we be better off if there were no police at all in this country and everyone carried a gun at all times? Would those guns always be used in appropriate situations? Never in a drunken brawl? Never in a domestic fight?

    -Bruce

  73. #73 |  Pugnacious | 

    Archie Bunker’s MAD(Mutually Assured Destruction) solution to airline piracy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miRLa4f0gc4&feature=related

  74. #74 |  mgd | 

    Re: the homeschooling article:

    “But here’s the great thing about attending racially and socioeconomically integrated schools: It helps children become better grown-ups. Research by Columbia University sociologist Amy Stuart Wells found that adult graduates of integrated high schools shared a commitment to diversity, to understanding and bridging cultural differences, and to appreciating “the humanness of individuals across racial lines.”

    Sure. Can’t read, don’t understand mathematics, know nothing about how our government was designed to operate, but hey…a commitment to diversity! Inculcated in just 12 short years! Nice job, racially and socioeconomically integrated public schools!

  75. #75 |  H. Rearden | 

    My point is that for many gun control advocates, restricting gun ownership is not the point. It’s the concern that guns make situations more likely to end up with someone dead.
    You beg the question. The good intention is the attempt to eliminate the situation where guns make situations more likely to end up with someone dead. I know of no argument where restricting gun rights is not the means of accomplishing this. They are gun control advocates! How can you argue that ‘gun control’ has nothing to do with restricting gun rights? You ignore the obvious.
    As I mentioned earlier, gun control advocates could be allies against police militarization. Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone if Thomas felt he could rely on the police for protection in that situation?
    Why would believe that a world could be created where unarmed police are able to protect all citizens from harm? You are truly advocating for a Brave New World. While you’ll find many here that are concerned about the militarization of our ‘peace’ officers, I’ll speak only for myself when I say that I am not advocating for the complete disarmament of police. Also, I’m uninterested in allying myself with gun control advocates. That would be trading one evil for the sake of another.
    Is it really not reasonable to think that guns can make dangerous situations more lethal? And want to change things to make that less likely? Preferably by methods other than gun control, but if that turns out to be impossible, talk with gun owners about what would be reasonable restrictions?
    Good luck with that.
    I mean we can at least agree that paroled violent felons should at the very least receive more
    scrutiny before purchasing a firearm?
    From what I understand (I’m no expert), convicted felons are prevented, by law, from possessing firearms. Yet somehow many seem to come into possession of them. Maybe we should send unarmed ‘peace’ officers out to enforce these laws so that we wouldn’t be subjected to the gun violence that is perpetrated by these felons. Or better yet, perhaps we could create a world where the law abiding voluntarily disarm themselves and criminals wouldn’t feel the need to use firearms to commit their crimes.
    It’s a utopian thought…
    There’s one thing we can agree on.

  76. #76 |  H. Rearden | 

    Sorry, mis-formatted the blockquotes. Preview function, Radley? Just to be clear:

    My point is that for many gun control advocates, restricting gun ownership is not the point. It’s the concern that guns make situations more likely to end up with someone dead.

    You beg the question. The good intention is the attempt to eliminate the situation where guns make situations more likely to end up with someone dead. I know of no argument where restricting gun rights is not the means of accomplishing this. They are gun control advocates! How can you argue that ‘gun control’ has nothing to do with restricting gun rights? You ignore the obvious.

    As I mentioned earlier, gun control advocates could be allies against police militarization. Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone if Thomas felt he could rely on the police for protection in that situation?

    Why would believe that a world could be created where unarmed police are able to protect all citizens from harm? You are truly advocating for a Brave New World. While you’ll find many here that are concerned about the militarization of our ‘peace’ officers, I’ll speak only for myself when I say that I am not advocating for the complete disarmament of police. Also, I’m uninterested in allying myself with gun control advocates. That would be trading one evil for the sake of another.

    Is it really not reasonable to think that guns can make dangerous situations more lethal? And want to change things to make that less likely? Preferably by methods other than gun control, but if that turns out to be impossible, talk with gun owners about what would be reasonable restrictions?

    Good luck with that.

    I mean we can at least agree that paroled violent felons should at the very least receive more
    scrutiny before purchasing a firearm?

    From what I understand (I’m no expert), convicted felons are prevented, by law, from possessing firearms. Yet somehow many seem to come into possession of them. Maybe we should send unarmed ‘peace’ officers out to enforce these laws so that we wouldn’t be subjected to the gun violence that is perpetrated by these felons. Or better yet, perhaps we could create a world where the law abiding voluntarily disarm themselves and criminals wouldn’t feel the need to use firearms to commit their crimes.

    It’s a utopian thought…

    There’s one thing we can agree on.

  77. #77 |  Pugnacious | 

    About that committment to diversity.

    I spoke with a black soldier about the ongoing, but covert wars in Central Africa. I asked him what he thought about the killing of his “own kind” in Uganda and Somalia. His only comment was ,”Uncle Sam has been very good to me.” As the Army is short on Chaplins, there is now a move to recruit black Southern Baptists preachers for AFRICOM’s “war on African Muslims.” They’ve taken the bait.

    http://whowhatwhy.com/2012/02/14/but-syriasly-folks/

  78. #78 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi H Rearden,

    I’m not saying gun control has nothing to do with restrictions. Rather that those restrictions are a means for gun control advocates. The end is fewer people killed by guns. Is the not a worthwhile goal? Are there means we could agree on to work towards that goal?

    As for cops and guns, I’m not advocating a Brave New World. I’m advocating police procedures akin to Norway or the UK. I would guess that those countries have more restrictions on freedom than you think is proper, but is it completely unreasonable for a person to think otherwise? Especially in terms of restricting gun use by police?

    Also, I would like recommendations of other studies about defensive gun use. I think I pointed out reasonable problems with the Cato paper you suggested. It would be helpful to read further.

    -Bruce

  79. #79 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    As the Army is short on Chaplins, there is now a move to recruit black Southern Baptists preachers for AFRICOM’s “war on African Muslims.” They’ve taken the bait.

    Money will always be able to buy a gun…and a God.

  80. #80 |  H. Rearden | 

    Bruce –
    We do agree on your good intentions. I think I’ve made it clear that I reject the means that you propose.

    It’s not unreasonable to consider modeling police after Norway or the UK, it’s just that I reject the means that would be necessary to remodel American society in such a way to make it viable. There are a number of social differences between these countries and ours that would make implementation of such systems problematic; UK citizens are more receptive to big gov’t solutions to their problems (perhaps because of their smaller population and geographical size) and the racial purity of Scandinavian countries that make it easier to reach consensus on collectivist solutions. We agree that there is a problem in this country concerning the use of firearms by police. We disagree that the solution to the problem is the complete elimination of SWAT team tactics or the disarmament of police. See Rabley’s post here: http://www.theagitator.com/2012/01/21/a-swat-team-used-properly/

    As mentioned previously, the use of firearms in defensive situations is vastly under reported because a majority of uses do not result in the discharge of the firearm and a subsequent police report. I am unaware of a study that would meet the statistical rigor that you require. I can add a personal anecdote to the Cato report: A smart passenger in my vehicle, by reaching into his jacket to give the impression that he possessed a gun, prevented a brick from being thrown at my vehicle by some hoodlum who felt I had ‘dissed him. Defensive use of a handgun without actual possession of one! An outcome of which you would certainly approve, but impossible if the hoodlum had no reason to believe my passenger.

    You’re an intelligent person, but I have the feeling that you’re just playing Devil’s Advocate with me. I think we have both clearly stated our positions and we’ll have to agree to disagree. Unless you want to come clean and admit that you’re not arguing your true convictions.

  81. #81 |  H. Rearden | 

    Excuse my dyslexia, Radley. It’s not the first time F’ed the spelling of your name.

  82. #82 |  Mike T | 

    Bruce,

    Here are some reasons why your suggestions won’t work:

    1) Cops do need to be armed on the job. If they cannot be armed, they ought to be fired. It’s like telling a solider that if they kill X too many civilians by accident, their next patrol will be with only a side arm no higher in caliber than 9mm.
    2) The problem with your happy liberal vision about the cop talking to Thomas is that the only thing the officer could do is wait with Thomas for the robbery. He cannot proactively arrest the men because he has no probable cause because he is acting on Thomas’ gut instinct.
    3) Most cities and towns are too spread out to have police actively walking a beat today.
    4) You deal with situations like drunken brawls where guns get used in the courts like any other potentially criminal situation. This worked for most of our country’s history.

    If you want to restrict the use of force without government, you need to make it clear to those who would initiate it that their victims will receive a wide degree of discretion from the state. For example, if someone who looks like they could seriously hurts you comes at you with both fists swinging, it ought to be a legal option to use any level of force you decide is necessary to prevent grievous bodily or property harm. The state ought to take the attitude that if someone, let’s say road rages and chases you down to confront you mano a mano in a parking lot before the police get there, you can kill them if you feel that they’re too equal a match and have intent to harm you.

    I know this offends your sensibilities because liberals don’t like the idea of allowing violence instead of trying to peacefully solve things. The fact is that peace rarely works with someone who is actually capable of being violent over trivial issues. The best way to create peace is to make it clear to them that if they act on their impulses, society will not only not protect them, but sanction their victim to respond however they feel is justified.

  83. #83 |  Deoxy | 

    Again, I have to agree with many of the points Bruce is making. It’s a lot better to have allies (with whom we have known but manageable disagreements) and achieve 90% of what we believe to be right than to have a perfectly dogmatically pure group… that is so small, NOTHING we believe in is accomplished.

    I think that’s what Bruce is talking about. YES YES YES, we know that even discussing the concept of gun control makes everyone involved a “statist douche”, OK? But I’d rather be a statist douche (in your benighted opinion) whose actions and support help limit a great many of these injustices than to be a non-statist douche who does nothing but rage impotently and alienate huge numbers of possible allies.

    Do you actually want to stop this stuff? Or does it just feel better for it to continue, so you can tell everyone how awful it is and how much better your way would have been?

    A great many things can be accomplished by simply granting people their assumptions (you’re very seldom going to change people’s minds on those) for the sake of argument and making the best of them. Bring as far along the path as they are willing to go!

    THAT is what Bruce is talking about. There’s 25-50% of the country that you aren’t going to convince EVER about the fundamental right to bear arms, but you CAN convince many of them that what they want (generally, less violence and lower body count) is still better achieved without infringing on gun rights.

    WHO CARES why they support our cause, really? Sure, it would be better if they really understood the moral underpinnings, as it would simplify so many other things, but how many more decades are you going to beat on that before you give up and move on to concrete results?

  84. #84 |  Beat a Defenseless Inmate, Win an Award « Spatial Orientation | 

    [...] on the absurdity of this (h/t Radley Balko): A defenseless inmate was beaten by Tioga County Jail’s top administrator, David Monell, [...]

  85. #85 |  Woog | 

    Lie with a dog, get up with fleas. The last major push for getting “what they want” brought us the 1968 and 1986 gun control acts.

    Rights are not subject to others’ understanding or lack thereof. When you’re right on the facts, hammer on the facts. When you’re right on the law, hammer on the law. As self-ownership and self-defense are right on both the facts and the law, I’ll hammer on both. (It can be boiled down to the self-evident right of Life, which requires both property ownership of the body and the right to defend such property from others’ force.)

    The good news is that for us impotent ragers is that the illegal infringement mechanisms are not only out of money, but on the last legs of their credit cards. When the gun cops can no longer be paid for their illegal actions at the same time when the cheese-eaters find their government checks missing, reality will prove again what the courts recognized in Warren vs DC and Castle Rock vs Gonzales: YOU are responsible for you – no one else is.

    That’s freedom, that’s scary, but that’s reality in fact and law.

    The body count will go down when the criminals will realize that they stand a good chance of injury or death should they attempt to commit crime, which will either have a deterrent effect or will produce a short spike in the fatality rate of criminals as natural selection takes its course.

  86. #86 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi everybody,

    Thanks for all your responses. I’m not just being a devil’s advocate (though I am a bit of a contrarian by nature). And I can definitely agree to disagree.

    One thought is to encourage Cato or a similar libertarian organization to conduct a more statistically rigorous survey. My gut instinct is that defensive gun use does not on average reduce crime or harm. But I could definitely be wrong. And that would move me (and hopefully other liberals) closer to your position.

    And I agree that SWAT teams are sometimes absolutely necessary (as in Radley’s example). I was somewhat facetiously arguing that if cops want to play soldier in inappropriate situations (serving warrants to non-violent drug offenders) we should take away their guns in those situations. Sort of a humorous way to stop the overuse of SWAT tactics. If they weren’t carrying guns, I doubt they would be breaking down doors. They’d actually have to knock and wait for a person to answer! And Mike T, if a cop makes too many mistakes with a gun and can’t do his job without one, then that cop should be fired. We pay police to protect society. If one has consistent bad judgment that leads to the deaths of innocents, one is not qualified to hold the job.

    Lastly, to give you a better sense of where I’m coming from, I’m a Quaker. So I do have pretty strong beliefs about non-violence. But I also don’t believe in imposing my views on anybody (I was reading a passage last night in which an early Friend argues that even if you are speaking the Truth, you are not acting appropriately unless you’re speaking from a place of humility and love). So at the margin, I would opt for a solution with less guns (UK and Scandinavian model). But the end truly is saving lives, and if that involved more guns, I’d be ok with that. While still trying to better the world so those guns have less occasion to be used.

    Thank you to everyone again for your replies. You’ve helped me refine my positions and better understand the libertarian point of view.

    -Bruce

  87. #87 |  JOR | 

    “Again, I have to agree with many of the points Bruce is making. It’s a lot better to have allies (with whom we have known but manageable disagreements) and achieve 90% of what we believe to be right than to have a perfectly dogmatically pure group…”

    Why do people say stuff like this as if it’s at all realistic? If working with state-murder advocates, gun grabbers, theocrats, etc. could get libertarians “90% of what they want”, then maybe, maybe whines like this would have some rational justification. But you know, libertarians spent a century watering down, pandering, and “working with” all sorts of people. And if anything it got us further from what we want. How it works out in that real world that’s supposedly so important to people like you is, surprise, surprise, the conservatives/liberals/whatevers use our support to help them get all the things they want, and in return give libertarians a little bit of empty rhetoric come election cycles.

    You don’t accomplish extreme or radical social change by pandering. You accomplish it, gradually, imperfectly, by being ruthless and uncompromising.

    Maybe you’ll fail. It happens. If do you succeed, there will be moderates, who implement official changes in the system after the radicals do the real work. Maybe that’s important, maybe it isn’t, but in either case the moderates always follow in the wake of the radicals. Nobody needs to go out of their way to court them or, worse, become them. They take care of themselves.

  88. #88 |  JOR | 

    “When the gun cops can no longer be paid for their illegal actions . . . ”

    …they’ll turn to open banditry (though they already do this to some extent). If they’re better organized than their victims they will quite possibly impose themselves as an independent aristocracy (independent, that is, of their former political handlers – though who is the master and who is the servant in that relationship even now is sometimes unclear).

  89. #89 |  Woog | 

    Bruce, you stated that you have “pretty strong beliefs about non-violence”, and that you “don’t believe in imposing my views on anybody”.

    Just what do you think the idea of gun control is all about?

    I carry a firearm with me whereever I go, and have for at least the last decade. I’ve never so much as drawn my firearm, much less pointed it at anyone. Yet, if ever I’d found myself face to face with evil, I had at hand the means to answer it.

    Your advocation of gun control is support for armed men to point guns at me, scream illegal demands at me, and kill me if I do not instantly comply – and perhaps even if I would. You may consider your own hands too clean to be one of those armed men yourself; would your guilt be lessened by hiring thugs to do the dirty work for you? You are committing violence by proxy with your support for the forced disarming of peaceable people.

    Is it any wonder some might take offense at your support?

  90. #90 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi Woog,

    By strong beliefs about non-violence, I mean I have religious convictions against using violence even to defend myself. I don’t seek to impose those beliefs on others, though I might try to convince them if they’re interested. Here’s a short description of the Religious Society of Friends’ beliefs: (http://www.fum.org/about/friends.htm#Beliefs).

    Similarly, I have strong convictions about the value of human life. My gut instinct is that the prevelance of guns in our society leads to more deaths. But I could be wrong. If I saw convincing statistical evidence that defensive gun use saves more lives than it costs, I would be much less supportive of gun control.

    And no, I would not support sending violent enforcers to take away your guns. My guess is that you’re a responsible gun owner. I don’t want to make guns illegal, and, even if certain firearms were illegal, I would support enforcing that law solely through fines and ticketing as long as the weapons were not associated with violent crime. I might support stricter background checks before purchase, if that was statistically likely to actually reduce the number of deaths from gun violence. But if any specific regulation does nothing to save lives, I would not support it as it is a violation of individual rights.

    I’m sorry if I have offended you. You certainly have the right to own and bear arms. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that reducing the ease of access to firearms in our society would save lives. *If* that’s true, I would support gun control, as I do value saving lives above the right to own firearms. Though I can certainly understand that others may believe that their personal right to bear arms and protect themselves outweighs the more general interest. And *if* the widespread ownership of guns actually does save lives, then I would not support gun control.

    Basically, I’m a liberal who you can probably work on other issues. And I was trying to point out how a liberal could have looked at those stories and concluded that the victims’ guns almost cost them their lives. No, I don’t know that for certain, and you are justified in your belief otherwise. But given that I do, is it not somewhat understandable that I am unsure that gun ownership is an unalloyed good? And therefore I think the argument around gun control is a somewhat murky area of conflicting valid interests? And reasonable people can disagree, but in some related areas (police violence) we might agree and could potentially work together. Just in a political sense, wouldn’t it be good if I baggered some democrats from the left and you baggered some republicans from the right on the issue of SWAT overuse?

    -Bruce

  91. #91 |  Woog | 

    Bruce,

    Basic, fundamental principles are more important than reaching consensus on outlying subjects of common concern. I don’t see any lasting benefit to, say, having some new government policy put in place to address vicious SWAT raids which could be subsequently revoked or ignored, while a multitude of other abuses such as asset forfeiture combined with excessive (or no!) bail are allowed to remain commonplace while sharing the same root cause.

    However, reasoning with a reasonable fellow is always a good way to proceed.

    To that end, I propose to you the idea that government is simple force, nothing more. The seemingly harmless hand-slap of a monetary fine and ticket are always followed up with threats of kidnapping and caging (also known as arrest and imprisonment) if the fine is resisted upon any grounds at all, quickly concluding in the use of lethal force if any resistance is met. Thus, attempting to use government to effect social change through ticketting is defacto support for violence by proxy.

    Now, I do not share your belief in personal abstention from all defensive violence; I’ve taken to heart the last earthly command Jesus Christ gave to his followers regarding arming themselves for defense against evil (Luke 22:36) yet not for offense (Luke 22:51). I strive to be a good steward of the resources I’ve been given, which includes my life, and while evil is not overcome by avoiding it, I do not look for confrontation, choosing to be harmless as a dove and shrewd as a serpent. Thus, I hope to show that by both faith and logic, my acquisition, possession, and use of firearms is reasonable and responsible in addition to being guaranteed free of infringement by law.

    This whole issue rests on a question of ownership: who owns you, Bruce?

    According to the founding legal document of the united States, you own yourself. (As ownership entails control, and control can be used to destroy, if you have a self-evident Creator-granted right to Life, you must also own your body.)

    Guns exist. If there was a magic wand that could instantly banish all guns and knowledge of the related physics, you and I may then agree that using that wand may be the best thing to do… except that I’d be inclined to use the wand to banish all knowledge of evil instead and get right to the source of the problem instead of setting ourselves up for the same problem again with sword control.

    Evil exists. Individuals sometimes choose to violate the property of others by murder, rape, theft, and many other evil actions. These things happen on a regular, though relatively infrequent basis.

    Thus, in order to be responsible, an individual must prepare for possible problems. These preparations may include taking warm clothes along on a winter trip, fixing a small hole in the roof before it rains, keeping a surplus of food and water in the pantry, and having the means available to actively resist evil should it reveal itself.

    Further, those who have committed the evil act of burglary or home invasion in the past claim that they fear, most of all, an armed homeowner at home. The property owner is the deterrent to crime, NOT the police.

    Lastly, having the means to kill with a firearm does not require actual killing. In countless stories of self-defense, a firearm is presented at a would-be evil doer, but the defender does not fire a shot. The mere presence of the ability to resist evil is often enough to dissuade evil, and thus by restricting the availability of arms to individuals who can function in society without a custodian, I make the case that your support of gun control is also support for allowing evil to operate largely unopposed. I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy, and even ten seconds is an eternity when looking a murderer in the eye.

  92. #92 |  Deoxy | 

    JOR,

    I didn’t say you needed to compromise your principles, I’m merely pointing out that having rational conversations with those who could aid us in some areas is FAR FAR FAR more useful than simply calling them all “statist douche” and alienating them.

    What Woog is doing with Bruce, even though it is very unlikely to change Bruce’s opinion on the underlying moral issue, has a good chance of convincing him that getting what is wants (lower body count, etc) is best achieved by supporting gun rights, even if he is never convinced that gun ownership is a fundamental right not granted by the state.

    Blowing him off and an idiot and “statist douche” does not do that. It might make you feel a little better (and morally superior, GO YOU!), but it’s actually counterproductive to what YOU want (gun rights).

    THAT is what I’m talking about. Gratuitous insults to potential allies is DUMB.

  93. #93 |  Deoxy | 

    Bruce:

    Thus, attempting to use government to effect social change through ticketting is defacto support for violence by proxy.

    Quoted for truth.

    Power in this world comes from only two things: convincing people to follow you voluntarily, or violence. And actually, the former is often (though not always) accomplished with threat of the latter.

  94. #94 |  Woog | 

    Bruce, for further reading on the matter of concealed carry as a benefit to society as a whole, I recommend reading what John Longenecker has written about the matter in what he calls the “CPR Corollary”.

    http://www.goodforthecountry.com/gunsoncampus_CPR_corollary.html

  95. #95 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi all,

    Thanks for pointing me towards John Longenecker. My impulse is to respond that the risk of an even worse outcome is much higher in the case of guns than with CPR. And that risk justifies a more restrictive approach. But that’s just a gut response, though a strong one. I could certainly be convinced by some rigorous studies on the issues. (Yes statistics has its own issues and there would be a lot of noise in the data, but there should be possible to get a better grasp on the issue than simply relying on abstract arguments and individual stories).

    Also, I doubt we’ll end up that close to each other about the relationship between violence and state power (Friends believe that convincing others is the only moral path for ourselves. Yes, it may not always work, but no goal is worth the use of violence. Including imposing that belief onto others). But that’s ok. The reason I keep coming back to police reform is that I think that and ending the drug war would save far more lives than gun control ever could. And it’s certainly better to start with getting rid of actively bad policies that both lead to more deaths and violate individual rights. After all, the ideal would be to improve the world without violating rights that others’ hold sacred.

    I know that goal is not an easy one. The massive bureaucracy is very resistant to change and to taking responsibility. But I do believe that it’s possible to make things less bad than they are currently (and Radley’s work on publicizing the problems is definitely a big part of that).

    I’d also like to thank everyone for helping me realize something that I thought was self-evident (that in the two stories the victims’ guns made their situations worse) was not self-evident to others. Again, I may not agree on that point, but I respect that your viewpoints are valid.

    I may be a naive, liberal, statist douche, but at least I’m an honest, open, and respectful one. And maybe if we instituted a rigorous fitness program for police officers, they’d be easier to carry around. ;)

    -Bruce

  96. #96 |  Woog | 

    Bruce, just remember that your support of gun control is still support for the use of violence against others who you disagree with.

    My support of keeping and bearing firearms does not impact your right of self-ownership as I, for example, am not a murderer. Criminals, not being overly deterred by laws, already have guns and commit murder which is already illegal.

    Your support of gun control does threaten my life (and thus my self-ownership) in at least two ways: by leaving me unable to take responsibility for my own self against the possibility of a confrontation with evil, and by supporting deadly violence against me by government enforcers.

  97. #97 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi Woog,

    Is the current level of gun control too much? Do you feel it unjustly threatens your life? If so, is there some minimal amount of regulation that you would find acceptable? Even if it’s just a minimum age to buy and keeping the laws against violent felons from owning guns? Or should we have no regulations at all and just laws against the use of guns to commit crimes? (I guess in the latter case, the involvement of a firearm could be considered completely irrelevant. It’s only the act that’s illegal, not the method used to commit it.)

    Just trying to get a better idea of your exact poin of view. If indeed any and all gun control is violence, I might still support some as the lesser of two evils. But argue strenuously against using actual violence to enforce the regulations. (For example, I don’t think there would be much need to resort to violence in prohibiting the sale of handguns to 6 year-olds).

    Also, do all laws really rely on the threat of deadly force? Even those against littering or picking up after your dog?

    -Bruce

  98. #98 |  Deoxy | 

    guess in the latter case, the involvement of a firearm could be considered completely irrelevant. It’s only the act that’s illegal, not the method used to commit it.

    THIS. I don’t really care what method you used to murder my wife, child, or friend (other than the level of pain and suffering first, I suppose), I care that you murdered them.

    Whether that was done with poison, a knife, a gun, your fists, or YOUR CAR (the most common killing tool in the US today, though usually by accident), said person is still dead.

    Murder is illegal. “Well, I was going to murder you in cold blood, but since guns are illegal, I guess I won’t.” I’m trying not giggle at the obvious stupidity of that statement.

    Also, do all laws really rely on the threat of deadly force? Even those against littering or picking up after your dog?

    I am fined for not picking up after my dog. If I refuse to pay the fine, and I don’t have money in a bank so that it can be taken from me electronically*, then what are you other options?

    -Let me get away with not paying the fine.
    -Use force to take stuff from me or put me in jail.

    *Technically, since you are taking stuff from me without my permission, some people would consider this “force”.

    If you use force against me, and I still don’t agree with what’s going on, I might defend myself or my property. Congratulations, we have violence.

    So in short, yes, absolutely every bit of power the state has is enforced with violence or the credible threat of violence.

    Welcome to the real world, where the choices for getting people to do stuff are A) convince them with reason, or B) credible threat or actual use of violence.

  99. #99 |  Woog | 

    Bruce, a six-year-old could order firearms from the Sears catalog by mail and have the US Postal Service deliver them to his house; 1960 does not stand out as a date full of mass murders by mail-order-equipped six-year-olds, nor do dates prior save for those during the Prohibition era, an era remarkably similar to our own in light of Prohibition 2, the War on Some Drugs.

    No, there should be no laws restricting the keeping and bearing of arms by free individuals. If a specific person requires a custodian, then that particular person may have his responsibilities curtailed by the custodian, to include keeping the ward away from firearms.

    Deoxy did well in explaining the rest of your questions to me, and I second his answers: yes, the damage to the victim’s property is the crime – not the tool used to do the damage; yes, all government power is force, to include fines and tickets backed up with the credible (and often actual) use of force.

    Note that I do not object to government power being force simply because it is violence, as I do believe that answering evil with violence is necessary at times. Violence used to defend against a rape is righteous; violence used to kill Jose Guerena over allegations that he was involved in commerce over plant material is absolutely abhorrent.

  100. #100 |  Woog | 

    Bruce, to further clarify my answer to your question about the legal (read: Constitutional) scope of gun control and those convicted of a violent felony:

    A murderer has violated the natural (and, incidentally, legal) order when he chose to take the life of another individual. Assuming society considers justice done after imprisoning the murderer for twenty years, and the freed man is set loose upon the streets once more, is it a crime for a bystander to quickly and summarily kill the freed man?

    If it is indeed a crime to murder a freed prisoner, should not the freed man be entitled to all that is entailed in his Creator-granted self-evident right to Life? After all, as the saying goes, he paid his debt to society. The freed man is given no police escort, can no longer vote, will find employment much harder to come by, and as such, the responsibilities he is forced to assume are more burdensome than a non-felon. Is he to also be reduced to a helpless victim for the sadistic pleasures of the next evildoer to cross paths with him?

    Lest you answer in haste, consider that felons of ALL stripes and even those convicted of some misdemeanors are forever barred from taking responsibility for themselves, regardless of them having long since completed any punishment meted out. The argument with the wife bothering the busybody neighbor? Lautenberg Amendment charge, mandatory prosecution, misdemeanor conviction, forever barred from taking responsibility for one’s self – and since that precludes “having access” to firearms, the spouse is also rendered practically defenseless.

    The government renounces all responsibility for your own well-being. (See Warren vs DC and Castle Rock vs Gonzales.) For the government to consider someone a free individual, renounce responsibility for that individual’s well-being, and also deny that individual the means to take responsibility for himself is objectionable in the extreme.

    So, yes, free individuals must not have their access to firearms restricted by government.

  101. #101 |  Deoxy | 

    Note that I do not object to government power being force simply because it is violence, as I do believe that answering evil with violence is necessary at times.

    I second this – acknowledging that government power is force (that is, backed by violence) does not mean it should not be used, only that you should be willing to use violence to enforce something before you advocate the government do it.

    That’s a fairly short list, IMO.

  102. #102 |  Bruce S | 

    Hi Woog and Deoxy,

    Thanks for the detailed responses. A couple more questions, is there anything whose ownership can be properly restricted by the government? Or even in the case of things like mustard gas, it should not be a crime or misdemeanor to simply own as long as one does not hurt anyone with it?

    Similarly, how reckless does one’s behavior have to be before the state is justified in stepping in? Say my backyard butts up against my neighbors. Can I set up a firing range with the targets by the fence? If yes, should there be a minimum level of safety in terms of making sure that no bullets can end up flying into his backyard? Or is the only role of the government to prosecute me if one of those bullets ends up hurting someone or damaging my neighbors’ property?

    And, I don’t think we’re going to end up agreeing that at its base, government’s authority relies solely on the use of force. I think it ultimately rests on the consent of the governed and ideally one can trust most citizens to comply based on their consent. Yes, this is a radically optimistic view of human nature, but I do believe it has power.

    To give an example from Quaker history, during the English Civil War, George Fox was imprisoned for speaking his religious beliefs. Not only did he refuse the offer of release on the condition that he accept a position as an officer in the New Model Army, but he refused to be released until the government acknowledged that the imprisonment was unjust. At the end of the day, the government did not truly have any power over him. They might be able to keep him locked up or even take his life, but they could not force him to change his beliefs. Much of our tradition of religious toleration comes from Quakers refusing to compromise their beliefs and then suffering the consequences. This spiritual warfare did much to bring official religious toleration to England.

    I don’t necessarily expect you to agree and my guess is you think this is extremely naive. But I do hold these beliefs strongly. And the notion of consent underlies my conviction that a society may justly choose to regulate activity that may impinge on individuals’ rights for the broader good.

    Yes, the idea of the broader good is very dangerous and has been used to justify many horrendous actions. Thus we must be humble and cautious in our attempts. And listen and honor strong-held objections and not move forward until they are tenderly answered. The community must be united in its heart, though not necessarily in its head. No, this is not easy and can definitely be slow. But it has had some amazing results (Quakers rejected slavery among them 100 years before the civil war. It was after years of activism by impassioned Friends, but the community as a whole eventually took the step forward together. Also, I think it might be the only religion in which conservative evangelicals and liberal atheists can comfortably worship together).

    So, given our different fundamental beliefs, I doubt we’ll ever agree on the validity of things like gun control. But I do want to honor your beliefs. Out of the various ills affecting our country today, how serious do you rank the current state of gun control? More strongly than police reform? An absolutely essential piece of that reform? Is it such a fundamental problem that nothing else can be done until we get rid of all restrictions? Is it an issue where we could acknowledge our fundamental differences while still collaborating on problems in which we have a common interest?

    -Bruce

  103. #103 |  Woog | 

    Bruce, the matter of arms possession boils down to property rights, and property rights are also the means by which injury to others’ property is addressed. Bluntly, the federal government has no legal authority to restrict the private possession of weapons of any type, be they handguns, long rifles, knives, swords, cannons, mortars, artillery, grenades, rockets, poison gases, or nuclear devices. The issuance of Letters of Marque is one of the legal powers granted the federal government under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution; what use would such a power be if private individuals did not have ships of war along with all their accompaniments?

    No, the proper level for any restrictions on such arms is either at the level of the humble property owner (though I’ve heard spirited arguments in favor of the State-level government which may ultimately have some merit).

    Within a given town, there are property owners. Almost all property which can be occupied by private individuals is owned by private individuals. Such individuals have contracts they draw up and sign along with their tenants, and almost all already prohibit the keeping and storage of dangerous chemicals and the like, outside of facilities designed to safely contain such materials. To a certain extent, ironically, I do support a form of gun control, which is the property owner’s ability to declare the terms by which the owned property is used. As far as the extent of a threshold of injury, it largely amounts to trespass. If anything at all from neighboring property comes within the bounds of another’s property, it is trespass and must stop immediately upon the trespassed property owner’s demand. If damage or a spill is the result, the costs to cease the trespass could be considerable, hence a deterrent effect for negligence. In some cases, criminal charges would also be in order, depending upon the nature of the trespass or other crimes committed afterwards.

    Many of the problems which can be raised regarding public property can largely be dealt with in the manner suggested by Walter Block in his book,
    The Privatization of Roads and Highways.

    mises.org/books/roads_web.pdf
    mises.org/document/4084

    If private possession of mustard gas and the like illustrates your worst fears, then I’m sorry to have to inform you that they have already come to pass and have been lurking in the shadows since before you were even born. The typical household contains chemicals which, if mixed together, produce a very poisonous gas. Anyone with the motivation could produce it in any quantity they liked. What stops them? The same “radically optimistic view” of human nature, perhaps – that, and knowledge of the fact that it is historically an exceedingly rare event.

    As far as the source of government power, it’s twofold. Its legitimacy rests upon the consent of the governed (an interesting side question is what happens when consent is withdrawn, by an individual, a minority, or a majority) – its actual method of operation relies strictly on force and the threat of force. Even dog ordinances are backed by force, as Radley had a story posted on this very site in which a park ranger tasered a man who wasn’t obeying a recently-changed dog-related ordinance. The exact same result – the use of force – would have resulted should there have been a ticket issued which went unpaid, a warrant issued to show cause, the warrant resisted, etc. That a single person chooses non-violent resistence in the face of government force does NOT negate the fact that government force was used or threatened. I do not dismiss non-violent resistence as useless, but I do object to demands that all others must also rely only on non-violent resistence or face more government force.

    The issue of gun control, like many of the wedge issues in the united States, is a distraction – a symptom of a larger underlying problem which is of the most critical importance to deal with: the departure from the rule of law and from equality under the law. Almost every single issue we deal with today has sprouted from this single two-headed weed.

    Gun control
    School prayer
    War on Drugs
    Illegal, undeclared foreign wars
    Police abuses gone unpunished
    Destruction of money (97%+ devalued since 1934)
    Illegal immigration
    Healthcare
    Entitlements (Social Security, ad nauseum)
    Economy (fraud in all markets, stocks, commodities, mortgages, etc.)
    Energy
    Ownership of private property (Kelo case)
    Education

    Return to the rule of law and equality under the law is of such importance that ALL other causes are of no importance by contrast. However, to attempt to answer your question, among that meager pile of unimportant concerns, I do rate gun control highly, merely because it is the one item that, if nothing else, restricts a free human being from being able to enforce his non-consent.

    Agreement on such matters isn’t required, even though it is desired. All that is necessary is for neither of us to use force on the other. I do hope that my key arguments involving government being force is logically considered, as too many individuals seem to think of government as a big, huggable teddy bear that is all laughter and joy and can make everything better with its song about “the law”. Considering this discussion started due to a matter of police violence, the tail end of all government enforcement, I should think it would be easy to see as a false premise, if not acknowledge it as such. It took me years to come around to this realization, and thus I don’t expect others to change their minds overnight. I do hope that I’ve managed to plant a seed of truth, that if examined critically, will eventually blossom into the idea that government is not the solution to problems, and in fact is currently the cause of most problems we face today due to its departure from the rule of law and from equality under the law.

  104. #104 |  Deoxy | 

    And, I don’t think we’re going to end up agreeing that at its base, government’s authority relies solely on the use of force. I think it ultimately rests on the consent of the governed and ideally one can trust most citizens to comply based on their consent.

    I don’t care about “most” citizens. “Most” citizens don’t go around murdering people (for a obvious example). “Most” citizens (in most cases) already agree on most of the (commonly known) laws.

    The problem is when one does NOT agree with the law – that is, when choice “A) convince them with reason” has failed. What is the backup plan when you can’t convince someone? I assure that 300+ million people are never going to all be convinced to the point of agreement on more than a very VERY few things.

    The backup plan is force. Go back and read the second portion of my post #98, starting with “I am fined for not picking up after my dog.” Really, I don’t think I should have to. And I don’t think I should have to listen to you trying to convince me. What can the government do about it that is not force, that does not rely on the threat of violence?

    Woog

    The fear or and desire to regulate/restrict chemical weapons (and nuclear weapons) has to do with the fact that one stupid person with such a thing could cause huge damages, including their own death – that the guy playing around with the nuke in his backyard accidentally blows up the whole town. There’s not really any level of compensation that even shows up on that scale. And people do really dumb things, eh? Even an accidental discharge of military grade artillery doesn’t register on that scale, either.

    Arguments that those should be in private hands are going to be an absolute non-starter with the vast majority of people unless you have some way to address that. Seriously, I appreciate the honesty and consistent ethical approach (and this is the place you can do that, yay!), but that will immediately get you classified as “stark raving, bat-shit insane” with a very large number of people. Not helpful, eh?

  105. #105 |  Woog | 

    Deoxy, oh, I’m well aware of the problems with freedom. However, I did point out that property owners already restrict what others can do with their property, and that dangerous chemicals, materials, and explosives are already prohibited by their owners. No need for illegal laws when there are already practical, legal, prohibitions in place.

    Further, individuals have already made bulk poison gas as well as nuclear materials (the most famous being the “nuclear Boy Scout”), so the mere fact that there are federal laws against such activity doesn’t deter everyone.

    The problem of most people not comprehending the basic legal framework of the country they live in has little to do with the framework, but is again largely due to government straying from the rule of law by effectively destroying the educational systems.

  106. #106 |  Deoxy | 

    However, I did point out that property owners already restrict what others can do with their property, and that dangerous chemicals, materials, and explosives are already prohibited by their owners

    Which does absolutely nothing about the guy next door who owns his home.

    Now, I think I agree with you on the federal/state issue here (states should regulate this, not the feds), but I still found it very easy to read what you wrote as “we get to do these things, and no one should stop us!” In order to be clear to those who are not already on your side, you need to be very careful how you write stuff on this topic.

    Emphasizing that states should be the ones doing this instead of the feds instead of just that the feds shouldn’t be doing it would get you a long way with a lot of people, I think.

  107. #107 |  Woog | 

    Deoxy, there’s a maze of law at the local level which already prevents “the guy next door who owns his home” from say, erecting an oil derrick, digging a well, storing more than an arbitary amount of gasoline in tanks, and many other such things. Though pesky city and State bureaucrats can be as tyrannical as any, they’re much less insulated from the electorate.

    It’s not that I’m stating “we get to do these things, and no one should stop us”, it’s that an individual can already do these things, and the law can’t stop the act until afterwards”. It’s an extension of the Warren vs DC problem where YOU are responsible for yourself. That works in reverse, too: you are NOT responsible for your neighbor.

    The ultimate answer to the question of arms control is still that the militia, the “whole people”, are to cover many contingencies, one of which is to guard against their own government going overtly rogue. While it’s certainly not impossible to win against tanks with a deer rifle (see the Polish solution of shooting tankers when they leave the tank), having the means to directly counter weaponry that has been and will be used against the populace is the core purpose of the Second Amendment.

    Such facts might not be popular, and not even all that important in light of the underlying problem of the departure from the rule of law, but it is the truth.

    If potential allies aren’t interested in the rule of law and equality under the law, then I’m not interested in such allies.

  108. #108 |  Deoxy | 

    I did get that was what you meant, but I had to go back and re-read it… and I’m sympathetic to your position. That’s all I was trying to point out.

    If potential allies aren’t interested in the rule of law and equality under the law, then I’m not interested in such allies.

    That is a foolish, short-sighted, and counter-productive approach.

    To give a very shallow and silly example, there are 2 entities engaged in hostilities – one attempting to take the world by force and rule with tyrannical evilness, and the other is a happy, perfect, libertarian paradise just defending itself. A third group nearby is willing to join the hostilities on either side… they just like killing people, and any excuse will do. They have sufficient forces to swing the battle either way. Should the “good guys” eschew the help of the third party because they don’t hold the same morals?

    Yes, that’s a silly and simple example, but I think you can see my point. In the long term, we want to convince as many people as we can of the underlying ethical positions, but really, if someone supports the same positions I do, then their underlying ethics aren’t really that important in the short term. That’s a good ally – not a friend, not family, not a permanent attachment at the hip, just someone with the same goals in the current situation.

    Any many of those “third party” types are not committed to any specific position on gun control, property rights, etc – they have a goal (lower body count is the most common relating to gun rights), and they will support the group that best convinces them it can best achieve that goal. The underlying ethics (beyond the goal they have set, which is usually an ethical concern) don’t really matter to them… but they DO have a reason to be involved, to vote.

    So, given that many of them WILL have a say in the matter (by voting), I don’t think it’s wise to right them off because their underlying reasons don’t match yours or mine.

  109. #109 |  Woog | 

    Deoxy, your example is similar to one I would use to illustrate the same situation, but I’d include a question: what would stop the third group from turning on the peaceable defenders the very instant the situation looked advantageous to the killers?

    Compromising on foundational principles to get a mostly-palatable candidate based on low-priority concerns (abortion, taxes, foreign policy, etc.) has led us to where we are now, where enemies of the rule of law are deeply entrenched in every corner of the bureaucracy, backed up by brainwashed enforcers who actually believe that “protect and serve” means using deadly force against peaceful cooperating individuals. We’ve played this game and folks like you and I have lost.

    Rather, insisting on nothing but absolute respect and adherence to the rule of law and equality under the law will produce either a situation that eliminates the vast majority of the low-priority issues (that most people mistakenly believe are of very high importance) by bringing these matters down to their proper level of government (which can include self-government), or else a violent crisis initiated by those who wish to enslave others and opposed by their would-be slaves. A very-current example of this is the “health care mandate” which demands that a person, by merit of being alive, MUST perform an action – it is a claim of ownership on a person, otherwise known as slavery.

    Resisting such evil, even with violence, is the proper course of action, even if it means the defenders lose. As John Stark said, “Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils.”

    Thankfully, we’re not at the stalemate you seem to imply we are. The law-breaking establishment is on its last legs, with even sitting Congressmen now stating we have no more than three years to respect the laws of mathematics (i.e. stop spending more than what is taken in by government) before the united States comes to a screeching halt ala Greece.

    There are about 40 million people on government food stamp assistance (according to the WSJ) right now; imagine what would happen if the government checks just stopped going out one day. Forty MILLION soon-to-be starving people, no government funds, no capacity in existing charities to care for that many people… digest that body count for a moment, and realize that it will come about due to the failure to follow the rule of law. Of course, adding in all the other entitlements which will disappear at the same time (social security, unemployment, medicaid/care, money to States for similar purposes) will make the number of victims even more horrific.

    So, trading in principles for allies who have historically turned around and stabbed us in the back at the earliest opportunity is a poor choice. If common ground on core principles can be found, excellent, our numbers have increased; if not, why insist upon attempting to call a known enemy a friend?

  110. #110 |  Deoxy | 

    Compromising on foundational principles to get a mostly-palatable candidate based on low-priority concerns (abortion, taxes, foreign policy, etc.) has led us to where we are now

    I said nothing about compromising core principles, and I would say that insisting on ideological purity (as you suggest) has been just as much a culprit as the other way around – the Libertarian party, for instance, is widely viewed as a joke. Libertarians in general suffer from this to a lesser degree, and not without reason (as I have experienced on this very board).

    If common ground on core principles can be found, excellent, our numbers have increased; if not, why insist upon attempting to call a known enemy a friend?

    And this is what I’m talking about. The problem is that such a person is NOT necessarily an enemy – that is, they are not OPPOSED to us, in most cases, they simply don’t consider the deeper ethical points beyond, for instance, “lower body count”.

    what would stop the third group from turning on the peaceable defenders the very instant the situation looked advantageous to the killers?

    Nothing… so let’s just PUSH them into the other camp right now, all together, and get wiped out at the very beginning, eh?

    To go back to the example I gave, the 2 main groups are both small – that is, the third party is larger than the two of them together. The group which makes best use of this third party wins.

    Exceedingly few of that third party will ever actually join EITHER of the main 2 groups – they will not put in the required introspection and thought to come to any solid ethical conclusions that will guide their actions. I don’t mean this as an insult – doing so is hard mental work with little obvious payoff, and most human beings simply don’t ever do it.

    Most people either never get involved, drift aimlessly from one group to another practically at random, or stick with one group long enough to become friends with them and so stay for that reason.

    DON’T compromise principles, but DO make every effort to bring people as far down the path (at least in terms of concrete actions) as you can, and DON’T gratuitously alienate them – they outnumber us by so much that even the ones that reliably vote outnumber us.

    YES, without a principled stand, they may well stab us in the back (often unintentionally), but that’s not any worse than just getting wiped out immediately by overwhelming force, eh?

    Concrete example: gun control. The most common reason to support gun control is desire for a lower body count. If you can convince people (logically, and with solid data) that gun control has a HIGHER body count, then they will no longer support gun control. Sure, it would be BETTER if they understood the ethical concerns underneath, but for gun control purposes, that doesn’t really matter… you get what you want, they get what they want, EVERYONE ends up better off.

    That doesn’t work in every case, but in the cases that it does, USE IT.

  111. #111 |  Woog | 

    Deoxy, amusing, is it not, the “sound and fury” we’ve expended at eachother when we’re in close agreement on the core issues of freedom.

    I concede this particular matter to you.

    Meanwhile, I’ll continue to state the plain truth as plainly as I can; if I manage to convince some to come around to support our side of the core issues, that’s wonderful. If not, I won’t consider them allies, but will fully acknowledge your freedom of association to do so for yourself.

  112. #112 |  Deoxy | 

    Heh – good point.

    I will cede that “ally” is too strong a term – I see your point there. What’s a better term for “partners of convenience”? It’s something they make movies of from time to time – hated enemies who get, say, stranded in some hostile environment together, who have to work together to both survive.

    So it is with this, sometimes.

    Meanwhile, I’ll continue to state the plain truth as plainly as I can

    GOOD. If anything, my original complaint was that you weren’t clear enough, such that it would be easy for someone to think they should oppose you when their goals lined up with yours well enough to work together.

    “Work together” – that’s actually a better term, perhaps. Like the people I work with, I don’t necessarily share values with them, but they’re still worth working with… we all have the same goal (keep the company doing well enough to continue to pay us).

Leave a Reply