The View From 1776

Gun Control And The Boston Marathon Bombings

Thomas Sowell reminds us that, “Virtually nothing that is being proposed in current gun control legislation is likely to reduce murder rates.”

If the same “logic” employed by people opposed to the 2nd Amendment were applied to the terrorist slaughter at the Boston Marathon, President Obama would be leading a crusade to impose feckless regulations requiring background checks and police registries for people buying components of bombs. 

Regardless of proposed and enacted tightening of gun control regulations, criminals or mentally unbalanced killers will have no difficulty in stealing or illegally buying firearms, as they now and always have done; terrorists or crazies determined to murder and maim with bombs will not be stopped by laws or regulations expressing the sympathies and good intentions of citizens and politicians.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/16 at 01:40 PM
  1. Thomas,

    Mr. Sowell repeats the shopworn and illogical argument that "criminals will always obtain guns proving that we should have no gun laws."

    Serving up the standard rebuttal, "You will always have speeders so why not abolish speed limits?"

    Neither argument holds any water.

    Getting beyond the sophomoric level of discussion, what do you, Thomas, recommend as some good measures to combat bomb-making terrorists?
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/16  at  03:57 PM
  2. A couple of points, Mr. Jay:

    First, to dismiss Thomas Sowell's discourse as sophomoric does you no credit.

    Second, you first: when you disagreed with me about imposing more stringent gun controls after the Newtown massacre, I challenged you to describe any regulation, laws, or sets of regulations that could have prevented Adam Lanza's rampage. You have not replied.

    Third, the point of my post was not that we should have regulations to prevent terrorist bombing. Rather it was to re-emphasize my earlier postings that outcries by the general citizenry and politicians' pandering response to the emotional and irrational demands for more gun controls are ineffective and, worse, they create a false illusion of increased safety.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  01:11 PM
  3. Thomas,

    Well said.

    J. Jay,

    What happened to Mr. Civility? I thought we’d agreed to play nice, and here you are taking cheap shots at us again. I had my doubts the ‘reformed’ Jay would last. That’s too bad, because I was beginning to enjoy sparring without all the un-pleasantness.

    The fact an argument is “shop worn” or a “standard rebuttal” does not make it false, irrelevant or “sophomoric; just often referenced. Nor is it “illogical” just because you find it inconvenient to your viewpoint or uncomfortably close to exposing socialist fraudulence. I find the ‘sophomoric’ charge coming from you ironically pathetic (or is that pathetically ironic?) as you have been the source of some of the lamest, most unsupported arguments posted on this site (including your post #1 above). Also, there is this business of putting words in other people’s mouths; which is unfair and dishonest of you, and all too frequent. If it were accidental, I would say let it go; but you do this all the time and it is entirely intentional. When you make deliberately rude comments this type, the onus is on you to either make your charges stick (which you don’t) else avoid deliberately provoking reactions from us (which you later complain of as incivility and as though perfectly innocent). This is Civility 101, and I’d have thought you would have learned it by now.

    Thomas may think your ‘sophomoric’ charge was directed at Sowell only (or, more likely, he is ignoring the slight for civility’s sake). Charging it to Sowell (who isn’t here to defend himself) gives an appearance of civility; yet still manages to impugn Thomas as the sponsor of Sowell’s alleged ‘shop-worn sophistry’. It is clear to me your distain was intended for every conservative here; and, for that matter, everywhere else. I realize you think yourself clever in masking these petty jabs at us as a kind of unintentional abuse, but only you are so impressed by such ‘cleverness’. You and I know you tar with a broad brush, never missing an opportunity to heap scorn on those with whom you disagree. This is the hallmark of an immature personality, unable to tame his partisan passions, and armed with nothing better than mockery and misdirection.

    Thomas never said we should have no gun laws, only that the laws favored by Democrat politicians and their misinformed supporters are invariably ineffective as well as un-Constitutional; and have as their main objectives to a) assuage the public something has been done to combat the problem (when it hasn’t), b) to control what can’t be controlled or will simply mutate into another form of equally lethal violence (amply demonstrated by both history and global crime data), and c) to usurp greater power at the expense of the law-abiding – who are not (and never were) the problem. Moreover, he never advocated repealing speed limits (as you implied); and, to then equate that with arguing against laws punishing the innocent as do nothing to address the real problem was clearly deceitful.

    Merriam-Webster gives the following definition for sophomoric: conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature <a >

    Sowell’s essays are, invariably, well-research and highly-informed; which is a lot more than I can say of your bombastic responses to everything and anything conservatives have to say on any given topic. You are a ‘shoot-from-the-hip, convinced-of-rubbish, never-bothers-verifying-nonsense-uttered, drive-by-responder’ who can’t hold a candle to Sowell’s scholarship and depth of thought. Every rebuttal you have made to this and in the two pages I linked below consists in kneejerk rejoinders. At most, you may scan the Internet for morsels of corroboration which you never seem to bother checking do or don’t hold up to examination; only that they agree with your personal take. It is those kinds of tone-deaf rejoinders that are the epitome of ‘sophomoric’.

    To take up Thomas’ point that you demanded proofs from others you never, yourself, supply nor answer, I will add that you do that almost without exception; and, it speaks volumes both of the lameness of arguments and inherent dishonestly we’ve come to expect of you. You throw down challenges with no intention of responding to proofs; however much we supply them in abundance. I will, here, give two recent instances of you doing exactly that. These are from December and January while discussing the Connecticut shootings:

    http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/comments/3010
    http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/comments/3024

    Note how in 3010, post #1 you lobbed a couple of statistics at us indiscriminately gleaned from liberal sources that were contextually misleading, only to be shown they were cherry-picked and misrepresentative (i.e., anecdotally suggest a correlation between guns and high death rates where none exists). When I and Thomas answered your dodgy points, you responded by dodging yet again, misquoting, and by repeatedly accusing us of ‘do nothing’ attitudes. When we not only showed that was not the case, but showed also how doing the wrong ‘something’ is as bad or worse than doing nothing (as well as supplying you with a long list of solutions with real potential for reducing the problem – solutions that don’t involve compromising Constitution, rights or principles), you vanished into the woodwork . These are proposals that worked in the past (albeit imperfectly, yet far better than anything liberals propose), but which you steadfastly refuse to even discuss.

    In 3024 #1, you substituted another anecdotal datum, but this time an ‘apples-to-oranges’ comparison supplying a confusion of U.S. homicide, gun-homicide, and gun-ownership rates versus U.K. gun-homicide and gun-ownership. When I gave you the math, showed where you’d erred, and why it is important to validate allegations with more than simple, vague assertions. You lamely and belatedly responded (post 3024 #7) by whining “I would cite sources if the data to which I was making reference were not obvious and accessible to anyone with a phone or computer. By not citing a specific source, the case made is actually stronger because the reader can verify my argument at his own whim, without being prejudiced by my (possibly slanted) source”) So, you don’t bother with citations because you mistrust sources we supply so much that you feel your own argument is made stronger by avoiding their use and, by inference, avoiding an unfair association with our methodology. (i.e., we’re so corrupt that even using our methods taints your argument regardless of source quality!). I can’t remember the last time I heard an excuse for intellectual sloth this twisted. The sources I cited were from mostly neutral to liberal sources, yet I had no problem building a case from such biased sources as stand up to challenges. And, where conservatively biased, I typically disclose the bias. Is not your excuse, then, an admission sources available to you either undermine your argument or are so patently slanted as to be worthless; and, that it is for that reason you don’t bother citing sources? If your points were anything but nonsense, you’d have no difficulty fielding a defense in depth. Because you don’t, won’t or can’t, you fight with the only weapons remaining to you (insults, rubbish and bombast) for as long as you can hold out.

    BTW your post 3024-#7 totally misses my points. You quibbled my math correcting your (implied) math was incorrect. My point was two-fold: a) that you’d exaggerated U.S. violence by a wide margin and b) any calculation we can make will be wrong starting from such grossly incomplete and incompatible data sets. It matters not that 253:1 is the right (or wrong) answer, but that you’d left out an essential step in the calculation – correcting for population difference, and taking a stab at the math with that included was key to exposing your failure. You leaving details to others to work out guarantees those gullible enough to follow you down that particular rabbit-hole (but only using the incomplete information you provided) are certain to arrive at wrong conclusions. U.S. gun-deaths v. U.K. gun-homicides fail the equivalence test, so any calculus performed on them is inherently flawed.

    The statistical problem is the information necessary to make such comparisons are unavailable to us due to problems in ways the information is collected and collated; forcing us to substitute proxies which may or may not be valid. The reality is U.S. data is collected and collated very differently from that of every other country such that any comparison we make is suspect. Differences in data collection are also biased by the objectives of the country doing the counting. Invariably there is an agenda to be met. In the U.S., the political agenda is to show government needs more resources; and for that you’d want to show as many instances of violent crime. Because the U.K. is in the position of ‘model gun-controller’, its objective is to show its passive policy of deterrence has been effective; and for that you’d want to downplay mayhem to the degree possible (without actually lying). To a lesser extent, the same is true of other European, openly-socialist nations. That difference in objectives guarantees a difference in presentation. In most countries, data collection of this type is nowhere as exhaustive as it is here (which is likely the main reason our counts are so much higher than those other developed countries). Most developed countries undercount homicide, and undeveloped countries undercount far more than developed countries. So, the efficiency of our crime data collection gives us an undeserved ‘black eye’. Yet, even here, we undercount murders by classifying some as other than homicide (e.g., accident, undetermined, suicide, &c) because jurisdictions vary as to which crimes go into which bins. One major stumbling block to uniformity (within countries) is political-correctness. PC encourages police to ignore ‘minority crime’ in records to the degree possible, usually through creative labeling, and this is especially pronounced in regions of a country with high urban density. Courts and prosecutors also play a part by downgrading crimes from homicides to lesser offenses for purposes of conviction, as well as playing politics. These are just some of the discrepancies I’ve found while studying the misuse of crime statistics applied of context. Thus, the true extent of violent crime is all but unknown, and it is only an educated guess that crime of this type is greater here than elsewhere. Gun-control advocates invariably ignore this point by burying it under the simplistic and sensational U.S. versus other countries death-by-guns disparity. Had I used your original [implied] assumption comparing all U.S. homicides to U.K. gun-homicides but without the correction for population difference, I’d have gotten a ratio of 230:1 (I stand corrected) rather than the 15:1 or 4.5:1 ratios nearer the mark.

    It should be noted, your calculation of a 15:1 versus my revised 230:1 ratio actually supports my point that your initial comparison exaggerates the case against the U.S. (thanks for the assist!) despite it is still too high by a factor of 3. 15:1 is more of an apples-to-apples comparison than your first stab at this, and I congratulate you for coming that far in your ruminations, but you are still stopping short of the full analysis which is that none of these comparisons (mine included) can be meaningful until the differences in accounting (by country and/or jurisdiction) are standardized, and that is unlikely to happen as long as stridently liberal political agendas take precedence.

    Also note, in both 3010 & 3024 you make the same fractious, “sophomoric”, “shop worn” and “illogical” complaints of us you do here, and a sifting of still earlier posts reveals you making these same, undifferentiated remarks over and over. How then are you any less hackneyed than those you accuse of shopworn repetition? If anything, yours are the ones less varied because you make no effort to expand them or bring new insights to the debate. You just repeat, ad nausea, the same monotonous complaints.

    Finally, by emphasizing gun-murders only (to the exclusion of other mayhem), you disguise guns are but one means to an end, and not the end itself (i.e., mass murders of the Newtown type). In post 3010, I showed guns are not the only means to mayhem; and in many countries where guns are few in number, mass-murder events using weapons other than guns are just as common and just as deadly.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/24  at  07:02 PM
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