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Thread: A Sane Discussion About Gun Violence

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    A Sane Discussion About Gun Violence

    I've been monitoring the various gun-related discussions being had on this forum, some of which I have participated in, all of which I have eventually removed myself from. The discussions pretty regularly devolve into name calling, a wide variety of personal attacks, and some pretty wild accusations - from both sides. That type of discussion doesn't interest me, and when it seems to me there is no way to pull it back from that space, I withdraw. Further discussion seems pointless. The two sides of this discussion appear to be as entrenched as the two sides of the abortion discussion.

    So I'd like to try a thread that sets, as its goal, a hyperbole-free, personal-attack-free, discussion about gun violence and the possible strategies to deal with it. If you're going to post in this thread, I request that people remain civil and refrain from personal attacks, and make a reasonable effort to understand what the other person is saying, even if you disagree with it. If you disagree, why you disagree is important. I don't think any of us is going to avoid being impassioned about this topic - but I am going to ask that the discussion remain respectful. If you cannot do that - please don't post in this thread.

    I'll kick it off with some data. So far, in 2018, there have been 2,135 gun-related deaths in the U.S. Thats a rate of 40 deaths per day. Some estimates place gun deaths/day as high as 96/day. That means, that somewhere between 14,600 and 35,040 people will die this year at the business end of a gun. By comparison, 40,000 people died in an automobile incident. The rate misses the CDC top-ten list, coming in at between 33% and 79% of the tenth item on the list (suicide, and we have to factor in that some of those suicides are gun-related). That makes gun violence an issue - but not the thing killing the most Americans. Still, it is the equivalent of a 9/11 scale event every 1-2.5 months, depending on which numbers you believe.

    We rank 31st in terms of gun violence. Statistically, with respect to gun violence, we are slightly better than Iraq. Based on deaths per capita, our population is only slightly safer from gun violence than a country in the midst of significant conflict. Given these statistics, I suspect we can all agree on the need to reduce the violence by gun in the U.S. What we appear to disagree on is how.

    We also have a 2nd Amendment that provides for certain rights related to guns. This is another place where I see fairly wide disagreement: what this amendment was intended to protect, and the limits that can'should be imposed on these rights.

    I suggest we make these two core issues the initial focus of the discussion.

    So I'll start with my own position. I believe gun violence is at epidemic levels in the U.S. Any other source that did comparable harm to our population has long since been studied or is currently under study, and recommendations have been put forward to resolve it. AIDS was a problem, so research was funded and solutions put forward. Car deaths were (and are) a problem, so research was funded and solutions put forward. The same is not true of gun violence. By law, the primary research agency for threats to the health, safety, and security has been barred from using federal funds to conduct any research that might be used to advocate for gun control. I believe one of the reasons for the wide variation in the numbers above is because we have not have good, independent, impartial, peer-reviewed research on the scale of the problem and the effect of possible solutions. Ever since the 1993 study by Kellerman, the CDC has been widely seen by the right as "biased" and "having an agenda."

    So my #1 item is: we need to find/fund a neutral body acceptable by both sides that can do the necessary research to find the root causes of this epidemic and recommend possible solutions - solutions based on fact and research.

    We also have a need to make a reasonable effort to prevent those who should not have guns (i.e., those with mental issues, those with criminal records, etc.) from legally securing them. Illegal gun trade is always going to be present, but it's presence should not stop us from closing all legal paths by which these people can obtain guns. To suggest that the presence of an illegal gun trade should stop us from closing all legal paths to these people would be the equivalent of suggesting that we refrain from setting speed limits because some people speed, or that we refrain from classifying all drugs on the existing schedule system because we have addicts and an illegal gun trade, or that we simply leave all the holes in our border security because some immigrants enter the U.S. illegally. The primary tool for closing these legal paths is the background check. Today, only 78% of the guns acquired in the U.S. are acquired after a background check has been done. That is because background checks are not universally required in all states. I believe this hole needs to be patched.

    So my #2 item is: Background checks, with proper funding to ensure that they are done rapidly and accurately, need to be universalized. I do not believe we need a "study" to justify this: I believe this one is just basic common-sense. When there are legal paths to securing a firearm without a background check, we are exacerbating our own problem.

    Data is a powerful tool. With the right data, we can set parameters that can raise flags. If someone passes a background check, and secures a gun, and then their mental state degrades and they become a risk, there is a danger. If someone passes a background check, and secures a gun, and then is convicted of a crime, there is a danger. If someone is stockpiling arms, there is a potential danger. Big data can help here. It helps us track who is voting for whom. It helps us track who is buying what to target ads. It helps us track epidemics and health patterns. It could help "pop flags" when a combination of circumstances exists that becomes "cause for concern." A key piece of that data is who owns what gun.

    So my #3 item is: A national database of gun ownership, with proper funding to ensure that it is maintained and interlinked with other databases to create the ability to raise those flags. Interestingly - there is precedent for this: the founding father actually saw this as an important part of maintaining a "well-regulated militia."

    I believe most other proposed "solutions" cannot really be pushed forward until #1 (above) is done. We don't know if arming teachers/staff will help/hurt. We don't know if gun free zones are helping/hurting. We don't know if limiting the number of rounds in magazines, the type of armaments that can be purchased, bumps stocks, or pretty much anything else that has been proposed will help/hurt. We simply do not have the data. What we have are anecdotes, opinions, and a sea of data funded by partisan sources pushing an agenda.

    As for the Second Amendment, I believe it provides for the protection of gun rights. However, like the 1st Amendment, it has limits and is not absolute. I think we disagree on what those boundaries should be. I think those boundaries should be essentiall the same as they are for the 1st (and other amendments): the rights end when they create a clear and present danger to the population. One is free to speak in the U.S. without government intervention - but they are not free to use that speech to incite violence. They are not free to use that speech to slander. There is a long list of limitations to free speech. Likewise, there are limitations to gun rights. We can disagree on what those limitations should be, but any claim that the right to own guns is inviolate is simply a non-starter.

    OK - so that's my (lengthy) kick-off. Let's see if it's possible to have this discussion respectfully.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

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    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    I believe that the second ammendment exist not to giveus the right to self defense, but to guarantee that right we all have.

    The founding fathers felt that way. Look at the federalist papers for one. Speaking of which why were the founding fathers so vehemently pro gun? It is because the english tried to forcefully take them. To strip them of their right to self defense and defense against tyranny. A similiar event happened aith a cannon in gonzales texas. Come and take it the texans said. Mexico didnt take that cannon.

    I have no doubt many on the left and center want to protect life. So do I. I as a smaller man can not do it with my hands. I must do it with a weapon. A cane, knives, a rock, or a gun.

    Guns are an equalizer.

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWall View Post
    I believe that the second ammendment exist not to giveus the right to self defense, but to guarantee that right we all have.

    The founding fathers felt that way. Look at the federalist papers for one. Speaking of which why were the founding fathers so vehemently pro gun? It is because the english tried to forcefully take them. To strip them of their right to self defense and defense against tyranny. A similiar event happened aith a cannon in gonzales texas. Come and take it the texans said. Mexico didnt take that cannon.

    I have no doubt many on the left and center want to protect life. So do I. I as a smaller man can not do it with my hands. I must do it with a weapon. A cane, knives, a rock, or a gun.

    Guns are an equalizer.
    Understood. And thanks for a respectful and even-tempered response.

    I would suggest, however, that the founding fathers were also clear, in the federalist papers, that they saw this right as two-fold: 1) key to supporting a well regulated militia for the protection of the commonwealth (a need they shortly after realized could not be met by a well regulated militia and required a standing army), and 2) so that the population could defend itself against others as well as a potentially tyrannical government.

    Today, that right has been, I believe, fairly well protected. I offer as evidence the fact that gun ownership in the U.S (guns/capita) exceeds levels in every other country by at least double, and is ten times the guns/capita average of the world. And I don't believe that an individual's right to ownership should be compromised, assuming they do not represent a threat to the general public. But I DO think we need to do something about the level of gun violence in the U.S. Given that we are already at 10 times the world average, it does not seem to me to be a sustainable position that "more guns" and "less gun regulation" (i.e., more freedom to use/carry/own guns) is a defendable position. Somehow, we need to find a way to get guns out of the hands of those most likely to do harm.

    Illegal gun trade is one issue - how do we reduce this trade?

    But legal gun trade is another - how do we eliminate the loopholes in existing law that make it easier for those who are an actual danger to society to legally secure guns?

    I cannot imagine that any of us would argue that we should not be doing either of these things. If I'm right about that, what do people think we should be doing about them?
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 02-23-2018 at 02:37 PM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

  5. Amen TheWall amen'd this post.
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    Oops....... mossrose's Avatar
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    I have a question. Perhaps it is relevant in this thread or not. Moderators can decide.

    Why is it, when a policeman shoots someone (justified or unjustified), the officer is ALWAYS blamed? Why is the gun not blamed?

    I'm not really interested in discussing much about the gun issue, so likely won't post here much, but this question has been on my mind, and a civil thread like this seemed to be a good place to ask.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mossrose View Post
    I have a question. Perhaps it is relevant in this thread or not. Moderators can decide.

    Why is it, when a policeman shoots someone (justified or unjustified), the officer is ALWAYS blamed? Why is the gun not blamed?

    I'm not really interested in discussing much about the gun issue, so likely won't post here much, but this question has been on my mind, and a civil thread like this seemed to be a good place to ask.

    Maybe because of higher expectations? A police officer has the training, would be expected to exercise restraint where a layperson wouldn't, etc.
    Hofstadter's Law: It will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

  8. Amen Adrift, Teallaura amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    In my opinion, the big issue with the gun debate is that so many people in America see guns as part of their identity. Guns are sort of unique in that sense. I mean, some people see their car or their home as part of their identity as well, but something about guns seems to transcend most other material items in this regard. I'd be interested in seeing an anthropological breakdown on when and how weapons played into identity, perhaps going back to rifles and revolvers in the 1800s, muskets in the 1700s, and swords, axes, and spears before that. Conflated with this identity aspect is this conscious or subconscious belief that the Constitution of the United States is a religious document, or at least, nearly on par with a religious document, and/or that God inspired the Founding Fathers in their drafting of the Constitution. And I imagine with the rise of Christian Fundamentalism in the early 20th century, and with it systematized beliefs in Biblical inerrancy (which I personally accept), also arose a sort of Constitutional inerrancy view. Again, the idea of a divinely inspired and inerrant Constitution may be more of a subconsciously accepted belief than one that is consciously held. If this is the case, then it may go some way in explaining why some people hold to the Second Amendment so dogmatically.

    There's also the obvious fundamental disagreement that gun control advocates believe that guns are the primary issue with gun violence, while gun rights advocates believe that guns are the solution to gun violence. That's something that's unlikely to ever be resolved.

    As I've mentioned in another thread, I think it's inevitable that far more severe gun legislation will eventually be enacted in order to curb gun violence, and that it's only a matter of time and lives, but I don't think it'll happen during this administration. I think the most likely legislation that will move the debate forward is the implementation of a national gun registry, and finally closing the gun show loophole. But, again, I don't think we're likely to see this until after this administration has run its course.

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mossrose View Post
    I have a question. Perhaps it is relevant in this thread or not. Moderators can decide.

    Why is it, when a policeman shoots someone (justified or unjustified), the officer is ALWAYS blamed? Why is the gun not blamed?

    I'm not really interested in discussing much about the gun issue, so likely won't post here much, but this question has been on my mind, and a civil thread like this seemed to be a good place to ask.

    My response would be this: gun violence is always about the person. People shoot people. The central issue should be, IMO, how do we best keep guns, which can do so much harm so quickly, OUT of the hands of those most likely to do violence, without compromising the rights of those who are not likely to do violence.

    And I think the issue is a bit more complex than your question suggests. If people are constantly cutting their feet on broken glass - it's not the "fault" of the broken glass - but the glass IS a factor. So obvious solutions would be 1) bet people to wear shoes, and 2) clean up the broken glass. That doesn't make the cuts the fault of the glass - but if the glass is creating a situation where harm is likely, why would we not remove it?

    Likewise, we have a fairly high incidence of gun violence in the U.S. We also have an extreme level of gun ownership. So perhaps we need a gun equivalent of "wearing shoes" and "cleaning up the glass?" Note, that doesn't mean we rid the world of all glass - and likewise we are not going to eliminate all guns. But the broken glass on the floor? Perhaps that's the equivalent of guns in the wrong hands? And "the shoes?" Perhaps that's the equivalent of widespread use of gun lockers and gun safety devices? That being said - we lack the data to know if mandatory gun lockers or gun safety devices would make any difference whatsoever - hence my #1 in the OP.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    -Martin Luther King

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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    . . . snip . . .I'll kick it off with some data. So far, in 2018, there have been 2,135 gun-related deaths in the U.S. Thats a rate of 40 deaths per day. Some estimates place gun deaths/day as high as 96/day. That means, that somewhere between 14,600 and 35,040 people will die this year at the business end of a gun. By comparison, 40,000 people died in an automobile incident. The rate misses the CDC top-ten list, coming in at between 33% and 79% of the tenth item on the list (suicide, and we have to factor in that some of those suicides are gun-related). That makes gun violence an issue - but not the thing killing the most Americans. Still, it is the equivalent of a 9/11 scale event every 1-2.5 months, depending on which numbers you believe.
    You already know I do not think your generic gun deaths overall are of any significance to the debate. The majority are gang and or drug related.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    We rank 31st in terms of gun violence. Statistically, with respect to gun violence, we are slightly better than Iraq. Based on deaths per capita, our population is only slightly safer from gun violence than a country in the midst of significant conflict. Given these statistics, I suspect we can all agree on the need to reduce the violence by gun in the U.S. What we appear to disagree on is how.
    Everyone would like to see gun deaths ended, or at least drastically reduced. I suppose there are those who would not agree, but they would be rare. The question is what are we willing and able to do about this. The differences in basic convictions is so drastically divided that no real solution can be reached unless the anti gun approach is let go, and practical, possible, solutions are considered.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    We also have a 2nd Amendment that provides for certain rights related to guns. This is another place where I see fairly wide disagreement: what this amendment was intended to protect, and the limits that can'should be imposed on these rights.
    The main disagreement here is the divide between those I call "gun grabbers" and pro Second Amendment folks. Pretty straight forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I suggest we make these two core issues the initial focus of the discussion.

    So I'll start with my own position. I believe gun violence is at epidemic levels in the U.S. Any other source that did comparable harm to our population has long since been studied or is currently under study, and recommendations have been put forward to resolve it. AIDS was a problem, so research was funded and solutions put forward. Car deaths were (and are) a problem, so research was funded and solutions put forward. The same is not true of gun violence. By law, the primary research agency for threats to the health, safety, and security has been barred from using federal funds to conduct any research that might be used to advocate for gun control. I believe one of the reasons for the wide variation in the numbers above is because we have not have good, independent, impartial, peer-reviewed research on the scale of the problem and the effect of possible solutions. Ever since the 1993 study by Kellerman, the CDC has been widely seen by the right as "biased" and "having an agenda."
    There is a meme going around saying that if we remove a few major democratically controlled cities the comparison with other nations would drop drastically. Do you have any data on this?

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So my #1 item is: we need to find/fund a neutral body acceptable by both sides that can do the necessary research to find the root causes of this epidemic and recommend possible solutions - solutions based on fact and research.
    I cannot even imagine a neutral body that would be acceptable to both sides. Better to take the evaluations of the two sides and let the opposite side respond formally with information.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    We also have a need to make a reasonable effort to prevent those who should not have guns (i.e., those with mental issues, those with criminal records, etc.) from legally securing them. Illegal gun trade is always going to be present, but it's presence should not stop us from closing all legal paths by which these people can obtain guns. To suggest that the presence of an illegal gun trade should stop us from closing all legal paths to these people would be the equivalent of suggesting that we refrain from setting speed limits because some people speed, or that we refrain from classifying all drugs on the existing schedule system because we have addicts and an illegal gun trade, or that we simply leave all the holes in our border security because some immigrants enter the U.S. illegally. The primary tool for closing these legal paths is the background check. Today, only 78% of the guns acquired in the U.S. are acquired after a background check has been done. That is because background checks are not universally required in all states. I believe this hole needs to be patched.
    Reasonable is the issue here.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So my #2 item is: Background checks, with proper funding to ensure that they are done rapidly and accurately, need to be universalized. I do not believe we need a "study" to justify this: I believe this one is just basic common-sense. When there are legal paths to securing a firearm without a background check, we are exacerbating our own problem.
    How bad are the current background checks in reality? I bought a gun, survived a background check. I also do not believe that background checks should be required between legal gun owners.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Data is a powerful tool. With the right data, we can set parameters that can raise flags. If someone passes a background check, and secures a gun, and then their mental state degrades and they become a risk, there is a danger. If someone passes a background check, and secures a gun, and then is convicted of a crime, there is a danger. If someone is stockpiling arms, there is a potential danger. Big data can help here. It helps us track who is voting for whom. It helps us track who is buying what to target ads. It helps us track epidemics and health patterns. It could help "pop flags" when a combination of circumstances exists that becomes "cause for concern." A key piece of that data is who owns what gun.

    So my #3 item is: A national database of gun ownership, with proper funding to ensure that it is maintained and interlinked with other databases to create the ability to raise those flags. Interestingly - there is precedent for this: the founding father actually saw this as an important part of maintaining a "well-regulated militia."
    I am 100% opposed to a national database of gun ownership. The government is notoriously biased and inefficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I believe most other proposed "solutions" cannot really be pushed forward until #1 (above) is done. We don't know if arming teachers/staff will help/hurt. We don't know if gun free zones are helping/hurting. We don't know if limiting the number of rounds in magazines, the type of armaments that can be purchased, bumps stocks, or pretty much anything else that has been proposed will help/hurt. We simply do not have the data. What we have are anecdotes, opinions, and a sea of data funded by partisan sources pushing an agenda.
    We also do not know that reducing the number of guns in the US will reduce mass shootings. That does not stop gun grabbers from advocating that just because.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    As for the Second Amendment, I believe it provides for the protection of gun rights. However, like the 1st Amendment, it has limits and is not absolute. I think we disagree on what those boundaries should be. I think those boundaries should be essentiall the same as they are for the 1st (and other amendments): the rights end when they create a clear and present danger to the population. One is free to speak in the U.S. without government intervention - but they are not free to use that speech to incite violence. They are not free to use that speech to slander. There is a long list of limitations to free speech. Likewise, there are limitations to gun rights. We can disagree on what those limitations should be, but any claim that the right to own guns is inviolate is simply a non-starter.
    If the limitations are equivalent to the sort of limitations of free speech, the gun grabbers would not be happy. Limiting free speech does not take anything away from anyone except the right to make threats or "cry fire in a crowded theater. Gun control aims at physically preventing certain people from owning guns based upon statistics. I believe that any convicted violent criminal should permanently loose the right to gun ownership. I believe that any one who makes public threats of gun violence should not be allowed to own guns. General "mental health" limitations are another matter. Most so called mental health issues do not significantly increase the danger of violence - and I do not have a whole lot of trust in the field of psychology in general in this respect.

    Is this respectful enough?
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    I and others have suggested extremely harsh prison sentences for anyone who even possesses a gun during any crime. I have not seen a single response to this. We need to come down hard on criminals and go very easy on law abiding citizens. Are there any other suggestion solutions from pro-2nd/anti gun control folks out there?
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

  13. Amen mossrose, Sparko, Cow Poke, Mountain Man amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedidiah View Post
    I and others have suggested extremely harsh prison sentences for anyone who even possesses a gun during any crime. I have not seen a single response to this.
    I think mostly because it doesn't sound like a reasonable response. Sentencing a first time offender to life, or threatening them with capital punishment for brandishing a weapon in which no one was harmed and no lives were taken would probably seem to the majority of US citizens as an unjust punishment. As well, there's lots of debate on whether or not there is any actual correlation between the length of a sentence and the deterrence of crime. Plenty of experts think there is not.

  15. Amen Teallaura amen'd this post.

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