Stereotypes

I know some of you enjoy these, so here’s the latest free content from my fishing over at Quora.com’s well-stocked pool.

Back in October of last year I answered this question: “What are the most practical and effective steps we can take to reduce gun violence in the US — mass shootings, domestic violence and gun crime generally?”

Here’s my answer:

You are aware that the United States has experienced about twenty years of DECLINING violent crime – including homicide?

Table 1

Homicide has declined from 8.2/100,000 population to 4.5/100,000 since 1995.  That’s a 45% drop.  Whatever it is we’re doing, we should keep doing it.  Oh, right – with respect to gun laws, we’re making it easier for people to get concealed-carry permits.

And the number of people with permits is increasing.

Report: Number Of Concealed Carry Permits Surges As Violent Crime Rate Drops

And, of course, we’ve had record shattering gun sales numbers over the last decade.

What The Left Won’t Tell You About The Boom In U.S. Gun Sales

So apparently More Guns = Less Violence.

Now if we want to address the “non-mass shooting/gun violence” we really need to identify where it’s happening and who is doing the shooting and getting shot, and contrary to popular opinion it’s not Joe Average “just snapping” and killing his significant other.  Yes, that does happen, but it’s the exception rather than the rule – unless Joe Average has a long rap sheet and is involved in the drug trade along with his significant other.

People who commit murder overwhelmingly fit into a small, easily identifiable demographic:  They have a fairly long history of interactions with law enforcement, usually with an escalating level of violence, and the majority of them live in urban areas.  And not only urban areas, but specific neighborhoods of urban areas.  And they tend to be young and male.  And, yes, I’ll say it because facts are not racist:  young black men are disproportionately both the victims and the perpetrators of homicide. 

Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008

In fact, if homicide was actually treated as a disease, epidemiologists would call this “a clue,” and would work aggressively to reduce deaths among this relatively small demographic that skews the national statistics so very badly.

Instead, we talk about passing “gun control laws” that only affect the people who AREN’T out there murdering.

With respect to reducing mass shooting incidents, in a nation of 300,000,000 people these events are about as common as people getting killed by lightning strikes.  Yet in almost every case they share these commonalities:

  • They occur in “Gun Free Zones.”
  • The perpetrator has a known history of mental issues and likely has been treated with psychotropic drugs, but has never been involuntarily committed.
  • The perpetrator only stops when he decides he’s finished, or when confronted by someone else with a gun.
  • They want attention, that’s why they do it.

So if we want to lower the number of these incidents, first I recommend that we stop putting the names and pictures of the perpetrators on TV, magazines and newspapers.  Second, I recommend that we stop thinking that “Gun Free Zone” signs have any effect on criminal activity.  If someone’s willing to rob you, rape you, and/or murder you, do you think a SIGN is going to stop them?  And honestly, with ten people dead and seven injured, would a defender with a gun, right there right then, actually have made the situation WORSE?  This guy was willing to risk his life to protect others, but was disarmed by those “Gun Free Zone” signs.

I got a few positive responses, but just this Tuesday it was discovered by someone new. Here’s that exchange:

Dimitrios Tolios:

Your whole post is listing facts but fails to avoid deductive fallacies.

There is no correlation of concealed weapon licences and reduction in homicides, as in “bad guys think twice before committing a crime”. None whatsoever.

You can quote mine statistical data for a lot of things that increased since 1995, and then attribute the reduction in violent crimes to…say, cellphones. Vast increase in cellphones, the probability of a “victim” or someone in the vicinity having a cellphone and calling for help – and as of lately recording you too – is insanely more probable to deter a “baddy” vs. the fear of a vigilante shooter. Its a loose probability, but still far more plausible than the fear of “the white hat gunner”.

For the biggest part of the late 90s and early 2010s there was a huge % increase of MP3 players…with your deductive logic I could correlate the decrease in violent crimes to listening to good 90s music…but that again would be a deductive fallacy.

Me:

“There is no correlation of concealed weapon licences and reduction in homicides, as in “bad guys think twice before committing a crime”. None whatsoever.”

No, the correlation exists. As you note, increases in “smart phones” and MP3 players also correlate. It is causation that cannot be proven statistically. (Incidentally, your use of the word “vigilante” says a lot about your personal bias on this topic.) Yet if the worst thing you can say about the massive increase in concealed-weapons permits nationwide is “It may not have contributed to the dramatic decrease in violent crime,” then I submit that “More guns = more crime” has been decisively dis-proven, no? And hasn’t that been the chant of gun-control forces forever?

Dimitrios Tolios:

The definition of vigilante is irrelevant to personal biases: “A member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.”

If you don’t like the use of this word that describes nearly perfectly the way legal possession of concealed weapons would deter crimes with the implied threat of capital punishment without due process, well, tough luck.

Now, for how many guns are “too many” according to people, or when a critical mass is reached after which adding more is irrelevant, or which chants touch which simpletons on one side and which on the other, makes no difference. Its another fallacy to think that a popular belief has any merit “ad populum”.

Me:

“If you don’t like the use of this word that describes nearly perfectly the way legal possession of concealed weapons would deter crimes with the implied threat of capital punishment without due process, well, tough luck.”

So do these meet your definition of “the way legal possession of concealed weapons” deters crime?

Felon with gun killed by man with concealed carry permit, Orlando police say

Police: Customer with concealed carry license kills robber; 6 more people shot

Fatal stabbing near Oceanside motel

Man with concealed weapons permit shoots, kills robber in double-shooting, Grand Rapids police say

Police: Concealed permit holder stopped armed robbery of Vernal restaurant | KSL.com

Man With Concealed-Carry License Shoots Would-Be Robber, Police Say

Man with concealed-carry gun permit foils Akron robbery attempt

Now in a few cases above we won’t be seeing any recidivism from the perpetrators of the crimes since they’ll be pushing up daisies and not contributing to future violent crime, but in each case crimes were deterred with either implied or actual deadly force, what you term “capital punishment.”

Here’s a clue as to the difference: “deadly force” is legally authorized – to anybody – in the immediate defense of life and health of oneself or others. The threat of deadly force is legally valid to stop the commission of a felony involving deadly force (see the fifth example – robber had a knife, defender had a gun, nobody got killed). Cops have that power as do private citizens. Capital punishment is punishment carried out by the State only after due process of law. The two are not equal.

Vigilantism as you express it involves the use of deadly force not to stop a felony in progress, but one or more persons being “judge, jury and executioner” after the fact. That’s why vigilantism is illegal. It’s literally outside the law. Self-defense and defense of others is well within the law.

Your personal bias seems to indicate that you believe self-defense is “vigilantism,” or you cannot tell the difference between them, because the word not only isn’t “nearly perfect,” it’s completely wrong.

Now, for how many guns are “too many” according to people, or when a critical mass is reached after which adding more is irrelevant…

And again, you misinterpret. If your theory was correct and we reached a “critical mass” at some point in the past “after which adding more is irrelevant” then violent crime would have reached some plateau that, at best, would have remained constant with respect to population. But that’s emphatically not the case. Violent crime has been on the decline for the better part of two decades while the “number of guns” in private hands has skyrocketed, especially over the last decade. Thus the argument you hand-wave away as irrelevant is, as I note, disproven. Yet it’s the fundamental one on which “gun control” arguments – and you admit this – are based: “There are too many guns.” You just suggest that adding more hasn’t had any further deleterious effect.

Dimitrios Tolios:

I did not put out the argument more guns = more crime. You did. And you swiftly rushed to say it is dis-proven, not based on scientific research, just by arbitrarily pairing statistical facts: Fact 1) A has gone up, Fact 2) B has gone down, thus A lowers B.

Also the # of legal guns out there is irrelevant out of context, as for example a single gun owner might own hundreds. % of people asking for stricter gun control is going up. That’s a statistical fact. The sales of guns are statistically rising far beyond population growth. Thus it is not a “A equals B” type of a stretch to think that gun ownership could be going up overall, but a large % of those guns go to the same people. Good, law-abiding people that want to have guns and don’t feel satisfied with one. Or ten. Much like I like to have many photographic lenses & cameras for example “just to be ready”.

All these are a matter that needs serious studies and research to produce any significant findings. All the links you’ve posted are no “Studies”…are – again – by definition anecdotal. Even when something is based on a true account, it is still of not scientific significance in itself.

As for the vigilantism and what is after the fact and what before the fact, well, I hope you realize that this is out of the control of any individual, police representative etc. It is not the time of Minority Report (yet), the “offence” has to come before the 3rd party responds, with deadly force or not. It has to be after the fact.

Also, if “trained” police officers clearly & often misjudge situations that “threaten” them, and automatically warrant the use of deadly force, giving to all individuals the right to “hold their ground” and do the same, is a recipe for more and not less grief for all parties involved.

Me:

“I did not put out the argument more guns = more crime. You did. And you swiftly rushed to say it is dis-proven, not based on scientific research, just by arbitrarily pairing statistical facts: Fact 1) A has gone up, Fact 2) B has gone down, thus A lowers B.”

No you didn’t. You didn’t have to. It’s been the mantra of the gun control side for decades – and one you appear to agree with when you stipulate to a “critical mass” argument. And you misunderstand the argument. It isn’t that “1) A has gone up, 2) B has gone down, thus A lowers B” it’s that the argument is that 1) if A goes up then 2) B must also – and it hasn’t. Dodge that all you want with your “critical mass” argument, but it’s 3) C a fact. It hasn’t gone up, it hasn’t remained level – it’s gone down.

“Also the # of legal guns out there is irrelevant out of context, as for example a single gun owner might own hundreds. % of people asking for stricter gun control is going up. That’s a statistical fact.”

Is it now?

Gallup: Only 2% Say ‘Guns/Gun Control’ Among Nation’s Most Important Problems

Poll: More Americans oppose stricter gun control

Despite lower crime rates, support for gun rights increases

Why Are Americans Buying So Many Guns?

That’s Gallup, CNN/ORC, Pew and Rassmussen. All of them disagree with your “statistical fact” concerning the percentage of people in favor of stricter gun control going up, and at least one details an increase in the number of new gun owners in the U.S.

All the links you’ve posted are no “Studies”…are – again – by definition anecdotal. Even when something is based on a true account, it is still of not scientific significance in itself.

Yet you’re in favor of disarming those people so that you feel safer.

Tell each of them that they’d have been better off unarmed.

It is not the time of Minority Report (yet), the “offence” has to come before the 3rd party responds, with deadly force or not. It has to be after the fact.

Care to parse that sentence so it makes some kind of sense? I don’t want to misinterpret it.

Also, if “trained” police officers clearly & often misjudge situations that “threaten” them, and automatically warrant the use of deadly force, giving to all individuals the right to “hold their ground” and do the same, is a recipe for more and not less grief for all parties involved.

And THAT is the “more guns = more violence” argument. “Oh noes! If mere citizens are allowed to carry guns, there’ll be shootouts over fender-benders and Wal*mart sales!” We heard that in each and every state contemplating “shall-issue” concealed carry legislation, and it never happened anywhere.

Cops walk into situations in progress. Citizens are the ones the situation is directly affecting. They’re pretty damned sure whether there’s a crime going on and who the assailant is. The cops have to figure it out when they get there.

Are you advocating the disarmament of police so that there will be “less grief for all parties involved”?

Dimitrios Tolios:

Your links are not relevant, much like your imposed correlation between more guns being bought vs. violent crime going down.

People have more disposable income in shear numbers, they buy lots of pointless consumer goods, some buy guns.

Very few people consider gun ownership being a OMFG most important problem…gun owners that identify themselves as little more than gun owners are those making a big deal out of it.

And that is the reason you are so obsessed with your totally inconclusive and uncorellated discovery, and you quote-mine headlines that inside the text or the actual polling number speak of fluctuations that happen between 1–2 years, and ofc is something totally natural given the small actual # of people being polled. You are so invested in this Truism tho, that you are committing all logical fallacies in the book, talking in circles and destroying one straw-man after the other.

You want trends: Gallup historical data on Guns. Like, google search #1…it is not in favor of your arguement.

And Gallup is not the only polling organization.

 photo Gun Ownership in America.jpg
Give or take the % of people with guns in their homes are the same or slightly declining. If it is true that more and more guns are being sold, it has to be true that the same people are buying them

 photo Estimated sales.jpg
Meanwhile:
 photo mass shootings1.jpg
 photo mass shootings2.jpg
You devolved this ad nauseum to a personal arguement starting from the point that I am your stereotypical gun-control arch-enemy. Something that was never stated or implied.

As for the “dissarm police” thing, again, another strawman that was never implied. What was said is that policemen prove themselves too often to be applying excessive force…are you arguing that the Police doesn’t need more training?

“Citizens are the ones the situation is directly affecting. They’re pretty damned sure whether there’s a crime going on and who the assailant is. The cops have to figure it out when they get there.”

Thats hillarious…exaclty the “vigilante” stereotype that I did not mean to imply but you accused me of: the “citizen that is pretty damn sure” that whomever wronged them (according to their own account) should pull a gun…

Sorry mister, you are hopeless…good luck.

With all the typos, I could almost see the foam at the corners of his mouth. So I had to get in one last shot:

“Your links are not relevant…”

Because you say so, right? You made an assertion – the percentage of people in favor of stricter gun control was growing. I gave FOUR DIFFERENT POLLS that refuted that assertion. But they’re “not relevant.” Check.

“…much like your imposed correlation between more guns being bought vs. violent crime going down.”

Once again, with feeling: You’re misunderstanding (deliberately?) my argument. MORE GUNS DOES NOT MEAN MORE VIOLENT CRIME. And your counter argument was that some “critical mass” of guns had been reached at some point in the past. If that were true, then VIOLENT CRIME SHOULD BE STABLE. But it’s NOT. It’s been trending down for the better part of two decades. I’ve repeated myself twice now. Perhaps this time you’ll get it?

People have more disposable income in shear numbers, they buy lots of pointless consumer goods, some buy guns.

Right. More people are in favor of stricter gun control, but they go out and drop several hundred dollars not on a new HDTV or computer, but a gun. Pointlessly. Just because. When was the last time you spent $300–$500 on something that didn’t really interest you? Grasping at straws much?

And Gallup is not the only polling organization.

No indeed. Which is why I included Pew, CNN and Rasmussen.

“Give or take the % of people with guns in their homes are the same or slightly declining. If it is true that more and more guns are being sold, it has to be true that the same people are buying them.”

Obviously math is not your strong suit (much like understanding the difference between correlation and causation). I’ve addressed this question of DECLINING GUN OWNERSHIP!! before. If you use the General Social Survey results the percentage of households containing a firearm has dropped from 50% in 1970 to 35% in 2012. If you use the Gallup numbers

Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993

the percentage has declined from 50% in 1991 to 47% in 2011.

According to this site:

Total Number of U.S. Households

the total number of households has increased from 63.5 million in 1970 to 114.8 million in 2010. In either case, that’s a net increase of 8 million households in which there is a firearm over those two periods. Assuming one firearm owner per household, that’s minimum 8 million NEW firearm owners. And there’s reason to believe that this number strongly under-represents reality.

And now you shift the goalposts to “mass shootings”? I think we’ll skip this one and move on.

You devolved this ad nauseum to a personal arguement starting from the point that I am your stereotypical gun-control arch-enemy.

Oh no! You give yourself far too much credit. Stereotypical, yes. Arch-enemy, no. You’re the average, everyday gun control supporter. You’re absolutely sure of your “facts” and completely unaffected by anything that contradicts them. When confronted by someone who can refute you, you bob, weave, obfuscate and move the goalposts. Commonly the next step is reasoned discourse

Thats hillarious…exaclty the “vigilante” stereotype that I did not mean to imply but you accused me of: the “citizen that is pretty damn sure” that whomever wronged them (according to their own account) should pull a gun…

So if confronted by an armed robber, they should….?

Sorry mister, you are hopeless…good luck.

Pot? Meet kettle.

Understand, I don’t write these things to change your mind. I do it so that the truly undecided can read what people like you have to say and what I have to say and perhaps look into the facts for themselves and make up their own minds. Judging from the polls, this has been pretty effective! 😉

No further replies today, but the thread is still up.  “Reasoned discourse” has not yet been implemented.

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