You know, today would be a good day to just let Bryan take over the blog, the way he did while I was out of the country. I’d suggest that, but I’ve been binge-watching “Game of Thrones” via HBO NOW, and if there’s anything to be learned from that, it’s that it can be dangerous to leave someone else in charge of your kingdom.
Here’s the second topic today suggested by Bryan. He alerted me to this report from the Pew Research Center, which is summed up in this lede:
For most of the 1990s and the subsequent decade, a substantial majority of Americans believed it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun owners’ rights. But in December 2014, the balance of opinion flipped: For the first time, more Americans say that protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership, 52% to 46%….
I think this is related to what’s been happening in the GOP the last few years.
Increasingly, “conservatism” is really libertarianism in disguise, and is related to anti-government feeling in the country. People who once upon a time would have wanted just the cops to have guns don’t trust cops that way any more. It’s a two-edged blade — distrust of government on one side, a libertarian view of the 2nd Amendment on the other.
Also, as the Pew report notes, people have an exaggerated sense of the prevalence of crime. They think the streets are more dangerous than they are, and since they don’t trust government to protect them from all that imagined mayhem, they want to pack heat….
If I had it to do over, I’d have named Bryan “the Hand of the Blogger” while I was gone…
Wait. Doesn’t that guy get killed, like, right away?
If you want, you can be the dwarf. I’m in season 2, and he’s Hand right now….
Seriously though, I thought it was an interesting set of data. You can interpret it lots of ways. First, as far as issue advocacy groups go, I think gun rights groups are about as “absolute” as you can get. They fight every single issue, every time. They concede nothing. You can’t compromise with a gun rights group because they aren’t going to compromise.
To see the numbers in support of people’s gun rights go from 29% in 1999 to 52% today, and the corresponding number of people that support gun control as a more important issue dropping from 66% to 46%, in the same time period just amazes me. That’s a big swing. More people owning guns and being educated about them may have something to do with it. (I’d like to think that’s the reason, but I’m not sure it is.)
Also, the statistic about people’s misconception about crime is interesting. Violent crime is down around a 20-year low, and you have more people than ever before carrying concealed weapons. Is there a relationship between these? It’s hard to argue causality vs. correlation, but it’s interesting to spin. I think a corollary to the misconception about crime would be the left’s misconception about what happens when you allow people to carry concealed in a legal manner.
Before SC expanded the CWP law to include more locations, the typical argument from an anti-gunner was: “Concealed carry means streets running with blood and saloon-style shootouts!”. The reality was: Less crime, no bloodbaths.
People notice these things.
Everyone who was on on the fence (or didn’t really care) about the CWP expansion heard all of these horrible predictions from the anti-gunners, and they see that these predictions were way wrong. Way. Wrong.
“I think gun rights groups are about as “absolute” as you can get. They fight every single issue, every time. They concede nothing. You can’t compromise with a gun rights group because they aren’t going to compromise.”
That’s sort of what I was getting at with my comment, “his is related to what’s been happening in the GOP the last few years.”
Basically, as the Washington Post noted this morning, Republicans have been getting more partisan in recent years. That makes them more like the set of gun-rights people. And of course, more often than not, they’re the same people.
There has never, ever been as much commitment among gun-control people as among gun-rights people. So even when the polls all said most people want more gun control, it didn’t happen because the minority was SO committed to resisting anything and everything, without giving an inch.
You’re right in that there is probably a wide swath of people who aren’t serious gun advocates or anti-gun. There’s a large group that can go either way.
But what accounts for the change in people’s attitudes? To me, the “why” is the most interesting part of the survey, but it’s not really knowable. Is this survey saying that taking an absolutist position and conceding nothing will ultimately win over people? That’s one possible theory.
I’m not sure I buy that theory, though. I think it’s more likely that attitudes have shifted because people have actually seen more firearms being carried, and there hasn’t been any sort of big problem because of it. More people are being exposed to firearms, and they’re seeing that firearms aren’t evil talismans.
“It seems people have a rough sense of the risk of crime, but they don’t calibrate it very well.” – http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/where-people-feel-safe-and-where-they-are-safe/
If it bleeds, it leads; 9-11; the 24 hour news cycle. People just don’t feel safe, even though we live in a safe time, a safe place. Firearms do help many feel empowered to protect themselves and their families. I believe gun rights advocates and gun control advocates both have strong arguments, but neither has an absolutely correct position. Put me in the “large group that can go either way.”
Bob correctly blames the 24-hour news cycle.
You can trace this directly to the development of 24-hour national “new” channels on cable. They never go off the air, and have to have more and more content right NOW. So crime stories that would never have been heard about outside their local markets suddenly become national.
So it is that there is ALWAYS a fresh crime horror story being nattered about on the so-called “news.” That’s because even in the most crime-free country, there’s crime going on SOMEWHERE in its thousands of local communities.
And so people who soak up this stuff develop the emotional impression that there’s crime going on EVERYWHERE, and all the time…
Back in about 1976, I was the news director of WDXY radio in Sumter, SC. That year, I went to my first annual meeting of the Radio-Television News Directors Association of the Carolinas up in Boone. I don’t recall his name now, but the first news director of the still nascent CNN spoke to the crowd about his plans for a 24-hour television news network. I remember VERY clearly the news directors of TV stations in Charlotte, Raleigh and other markets in the Carolinas assembled there almost universally dismissing the viability of such a ridiculous concept. “No way to fill THAT much time every day, seven days a week…”
These days I kinda wish the naysayers had been right.
Another thought/question on Brad’s riff on trust of the police: I’d like to see a graph of the trust of the police…you know…your local law enforcement vs. trust of government in general: Would we see something like we see with Congress, where people hate “Congress” in general, but then say, “Oh, my representative isn’t the problem, he’s a great fellow. It’s all those other folks who are the problem.”
I trust my local cops- but they are miles away.
When someone is coming into your home – or hitting on your door at 3am – seconds matter.
And I’ve practiced many times, I can have my pistol out of my bedside end table safe in less than 5 seconds.
Final thought about gun advocacy is that the anti-gunners are almost universally ignorant when it comes to actually discussing firearms, so the debates are not on level ground.
Having a debate about guns between someone who owns guns and understands how they work and someone who is an emotional anti-gunner, who’s never actually interacted with a firearm, is kind of like having Mario Andretti debate on how on how to drive a car against a fish.
It’s just not fair.
Whoa—I’ve never held a firearm, but the statistics about how often guns are used to shoot someone in the family vs. stranger danger are pretty clear. If you want to own a gun, learn to use it, store it properly and the like, I have no issue. It’s the idiots with handguns in their bedside table or glove box, unlocked, say, who have no idea what the proper use and safety are who I believe need to have their guns taken away.
I’ve never understood how the “guns for protection” crowd think it’s going to go down. I mean, unless you are Raylan Givens, the crook has the advantage of surprise. Then, either your gun is safely locked up, or it is readily available for kids, drunks and burglars, or to go off unexpectedly in the car, etc.
Properly trained gun owners: no issue. Sort of like properly trained drivers.
“That’s a big swing. More people owning guns and being educated about them may have something to do with it.”
Yeah, then again, just maybe we should link this item with the one below it (about American ignorance). Because here’s another statistic: for the period 1999 to 2013, gun deaths rose fairly consistently from 27,874 to 33,636, according to CDC data (http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_us.html), or about 10.34 per 100,000 — comparable to … Mexico.
Ok, so you want to talk about a different report. Ok, fine.
/goes to link
/pokes around on the link for 10 minutes
I followed your link, and it drops me at the CDC “Fatal Injury Query”. As an initial matter, I can’t get it to show me 27,874 gun deaths in 1999, so maybe you can help me out and let me know which boxes you checked. Now let’s play our favorite game that I like to call “Fun With Statistics!”
For the first question “What was the intent or manner of the injury” what did you select?
“Violence Related” or one of the subsets (“Homicide, Legal Intervention, or both?)
If you click the broadest category “All Intents”, which would cover accidental shootings, justified law enforcement shootings, suicides, and other “undetermined intent” gun deaths, you get 28,874 deaths. Accordingly, I can’t duplicate your results. However, I think that’s what you clicked, because I get 33,636 when I do the same thing, but change the year to 2013. However, my main response is that I don’t think including all those other categories of death really presents an accurate measure of what we’re looking for.
I think a reasonable person would click homicide. You know, the thing where one person intentionally and unjustifiably kills someone else? You know, the Cain and Abel thing? I’m not talking about a suicide, or a police officer shooting a bank robber, or even the “oops, my gun went off accidentally thing”. I think we should focus on the whole “people intentionally killing other people without a legal justification” thing.
1999: 10,828 or 3.88% by population
2013: 11,208 or 3.55% by population
I have never heard a story (or enough of a record to be statistically meaningful) where someone’s firearm has stopped a crime, either.
The homicide rate doesn’t do much for me as data; most are either drug related or domestic crimes. Horrible, but not the kind of random crime people fear.
However, what would interest me is the change in the unintentional and undetermined categories. I would be absolutely shocked if these do not corralate with the rise in gun ownership – or even rise faster as more guns become opportunities for more unfortunate things to go wrong. Peoples’ stupidity with guns kills people. And lots of kids at that.
“I have never heard a story (or enough of a record to be statistically meaningful) where someone’s firearm has stopped a crime, either.”
It’s not that unusual.
The website is named what? I bet it’s really impartial in its reporting
They just aggregate news stories of people using firearms in self-defense.
And I’m sure they are scrupulous in checking out the facts.
“I think we should focus on the whole ‘people intentionally killing other people without a legal justification thing.” — Caskey
Yeah, I figured you’d want to do that – because in your mind it more neatly fits into the “people kill people” narrative. But despite what you say, sheer numbers are telling. The “all intents” filter is the cleanest measure because it allows a comparison with gun deaths in other countries. And using that benchmark, we find that we have to go to places like Honduras, Guatemala, South Africa or Paraguay to find higher rates of death by guns – not exactly the sorts of places we normally like to compare ourselves with. Oh, and when we look at just gun homicides, we don’t compare too well with those places (like Australia or all of Western Europe) that we otherwise like to consider ourselves on par with. By that measure, we far outstrip the rest of our peers.
Now I understand that gun lovers try to obscure things (implicitly admitting there’s a problem) by pointing to mental health, first-person shooter games and such. But do we in the US have a higher incidence of mental illness than other countries? Are more folks in the US playing violent video games than elsewhere? I think the answer to both of those is clearly no. But what we do have is a greater prevalence of guns. (Probably the only “good” thing you can say about the number of guns in the US is that with a gun ownership rate of 90%, averaged out across the entire population, we should be thankful we don’t have even more deaths from guns. But that doesn’t make the numbers pretty.) Plus, if we look at just our cities, US gun homicides are roughly on par with some of the most violent places on earth.
Yes, some 60% of US gun deaths are suicides. And I appreciate that gun lovers and 2nd Amendment fundamentalists don’t want those included, because, when it comes right down to it, they just can’t stand the notion that their “sweet” toys pose a problem. They assume those people would’ve “offed” themselves some other way if they hadn’t had a gun at hand. And some probably would have. But it’s clear that making lethality easy (as guns do) makes death more likely. And the increasing prevalence of guns increases that possibility. Oh, and I’m not just talking about abstract statistics here. A couple of years ago, the brother of good friend of mine was suffering from chronic health issues, which in turn led to serious depression (neither of which were treated because he lost his job and didn’t have any health insurance). He decided one day that he just couldn’t take it anymore. He was aware enough to know he needed help, so he went to the emergency room (this was in Greenville). They asked if he felt suicidal, he said he did. So they gave him some pain medication and sent him on his way. He went home and used one of the three handguns in the house to kill himself.
Maybe the reason for the shift in polling numbers is the sense by many that there’s little that can be done, given the sheer number of guns in circulation. I’ve certainly heard that often enough. But that’s just resignation – which definitely isn’t anything to be cheered by.
“The ‘all intents’ filter is the cleanest measure because it allows a comparison with gun deaths in other countries. And using that benchmark, we find that we have to go to places like Honduras, Guatemala, South Africa or Paraguay to find higher rates of death by guns – not exactly the sorts of places we normally like to compare ourselves with.”
Yes, but I’m not comparing the USA to other countries. I’m comparing the USA of 1999 to the USA of 2013. Comparing the USA to Honduras, Guatemala, or South Africa is difficult to do, because there are so many other variables that make each country different. For instance, according to Wikipedia, Honduras had 6,239 intentional homicides in 2010. By comparison, the USA had 16,259 homicides in 2010. The USA has something like 308 Million people, while Honduras has roughly about 7 Million. And that’s ALL causes of intentional killings. That’s people murdering with knives, bats, clubs, guns, whatever.
It ain’t even close. The USA is way safer.
Again, I’m focusing on how the USA is changing over time, not how the USA compares to other countries. Like our mother country (Great Britain) always said, “Well, just because Honduras’ mother lets him stay up late doesn’t you get to.” Honduras’ mother was always way cooler than our mother country, but look how Honduras turned out…
“And I appreciate that gun lovers and 2nd Amendment fundamentalists don’t want those included, because, when it comes right down to it, they just can’t stand the notion that their “sweet” toys pose a problem.”
FYI, this comes across as very condescending and smug. It’s not becoming, nor are you going to persuade anyone with this sort of tone. Specifically, there is nothing “sweet” about a firearm. It’s just a thing, like a screwdriver, a car, or a a telephone. Craftsmanship can be appreciated, as in cars, silverware, or clothes. But it doesn’t have an innate spirit that makes it sweet, evil, or anything in between. A firearm isn’t a talisman to ward off evil spirits, nor does it draw evil spirits. It’s simply a mechanical device. And it’s not a “toy”. Condescending to people who have a preference to own and shoot firearms kind of reveals more about you than it does about them.
I can’t speak about your friend directly, but his death (like any death) is tragic. However, being tragic doesn’t necessarily equate to being preventable. You say “He decided one day that he just couldn’t take it anymore.” Up until that time, the three guns in his house had not done anything on their own volition. He made a decision to end his life. You can do a thousand “coulda, shoulda, woulda” things when someone takes their own life. I know.
However, blaming the instrument of someone’s death in a suicide seems…shortsighted. When someone jumps off a bridge, we don’t blame the bridge. When someone commits suicide by intentionally overdosing on pills, we don’t blame the pills. When someone commits suicide by hanging, we don’t blame the rope. When someone dies because they accidentally fell down the stairs, we don’t call for a ban on staircases with more than seven steps.
As to your final paragraph, the survey doesn’t indicate resignation. It simply asks which is more important, protecting gun rights or having gun control. I don’t think an anti-gun person (like you, for instance) would indicate that protecting gun rights is more important than gun control, regardless of whether you’re “resigned” or not. I think you may be projecting that feeling.
The rates I was referring to for comparative purposes (in referencing Honduras etc.) were GUN DEATH rates per 100,000, not pure numbers and not by any and all means. So those numbers stand, with the US at 10+ per, well above other OECD (i.e. advanced) countries. And, no, I see no reason not to compare the US to other countries on this matter. It’s instructive – at least for those willing to be instructed.
Frankly, I’m not trying to persuade you of anything here. I know that’s impossible. I’m just pushing back against the tide, pointing out facts that need pointing out and noting where you’re selective in your appreciation of the issue. I’m sorry if you think it’s condescending to do so. And in fact I don’t care. If I were to count the times you’ve been mocking and condescending on this blog, I would run out of space to count. But, hey, I recognize that here on Brad Warthen’s Circle of Friends, personal FOBs get special latitude.
Gun rights advocates seem to want to allow no middle ground, either in discussions or in law and regulation. I believe the manipulation of the NRA by those in the gun trade is a key factor along with the factors mentioned above. Anyone wanting to limit or ban (Yes, I said it.) the most dangerous weapons and make illegal gun traffic more difficult is “coming to take away your guns” or worse.
I think the underlying cause of gun proliferation is a culture that glorifies violence in countless ways. “Thou shalt not kill” has been redefined into “Thou shalt not kill unless thou feelist justified.” Killing is the solution to “perceived threats,” unjust treatment, violation of one’s rights, social or political injustice, anger, a cheating heart, being lonely, or being cut off in traffic. Deadly weapons being seen as a part of everyday life makes that solution readily available.
America’s success throughout history is in large part due to its willingness to use violence to achieve its objectives (noble or otherwise). We’re not a nation of peace and likely never will be.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
Why’d you call yourself Bob on that one, M? It caused the comment to be held for moderation….
We go by multiple names. Maybe one of my other ones is Bob.
So which is worse, Doug — us, or Attila the Hun? Tough choice, huh?
Whenever a stranger asks me my political leanings in an informal social setting by way of making small talk, the exchange usually goes something like this:
Polite Stranger: “So, what are your political leanings?”
Me: “Have you ever heard of Attila the Hun?”
Polite Stranger: Um, yeah. I guess so.
Me: “Well, I’m just slightly to the right of him.”
Polite Stranger: (as they nervously laugh and try to exit the conversation) Oh, ok.
When I do this at fancy black-tie charity events or at SC Bar functions, my wife invariably gives me the patented: “Wife Look of Disapproval at Embarrassing Husband”.
“We’re not a nation of peace and likely never will be.”
The story of mankind is not a story of peace. Yeah, there have been periods of peace from time to time, but it’s typically between long periods of war. Until people are angels, there will be violence.
But yeah, in the DNA of America you have men who violently overthrew their government and established their own nation. I mean, it’s not like we’re Canadians who asked permission to get their own country and didn’t really fully get it until 1982.
Canadians. They have to be the most polite people in the world. Canada. Now there’s a country of peace.
Oh ho, so now you’re being condescending toward an entire country!
Yeah, but the Canadians are so polite, they would never bring it up. They’re really a lovely people. Unless you get them on a hockey rink. Then, all their pent-up rage comes out. Actually, I think that explains a lot about Canadians.
If you think of Canada as an “entire country.” There’s like Dudley Doright and about 14 other people, right? 🙂
Is Snidely Whiplash among the 14 other people? I guess Bryan will have to apologize to M. Prince for his outrageous claims about Canadians being so peaceful. Would Dudley, Nell, and Snidely be the Canadian counterparts of America’s Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Boris Badenov? Curious minds want to know.
And here we have them, folks: two peas in a pod.
Naw, we’re different. I’m the blogger. He’s the Hand of the Blogger….
But they kind of kicked our butts back in 1812, didn’t they? So maybe they’re not all THAT peaceful…
Yeah, they burned Washington, but the overall conclusion was a tie. We got a pretty snappy national anthem out of it, so…advantage USA.
So true, Mr. Harris. And this is one thing I will concede to the gun rights folks: Gun violence and death is not solely a matter of the prevalence of guns. It’s also a matter of the cult of the gun that has taken hold in America. But then we sort of get into the chicken-or-egg conundrum, since the prevalence of guns can in turn be attributed to a large degree to the same cultish mentality — which in itself is a subset of the larger cult of the individual in American life.
I think it goes farther than our country. The use of military force has its own problems, but, worldwide, killing is seen as an everyday option by a deadly minority of persons who feel aggrieved or threatened. Criminals and thieves find high-powered weapons relatively easy to get, apparently useful in their endeavors, and often show little reluctance to use them. Harsh laws against such use don’t seem to have nearly the deterrence needed. Perhaps a realization that we implicitly condone convenience killing as a sort of “collateral damage” in a gun culture should make us reconsider some priorities.
“Perhaps a realization that we implicitly condone convenience killing as a sort of “collateral damage” in a gun culture should make us reconsider some priorities.”
Tell us more about this “gun culture” you speak of and your experience with it.
I think he meant to say, “gun fetish cult”… 🙂
It’s the readership of all those magazines I see at my barber shop…
I can’t speak for Mr. Harris, but lemme take a crack at describing a “gun culture” – which is easiest to see if you get out of places like South Carolina every so often, and especially if you go to countries where it doesn’t exist. The absence of certain things makes you better aware of the contrast. There’s the absence, for example, of people who think it’s OK to locate a shooting range next to a daycare center (as happened in the SC Upstate); of complaints about stray rounds passing around and through houses located near a (different Upstate) gun range; of special shooting ranges where folks (including children) can fire large-caliber, fully automatic weapons; of people (like one of my father’s neighbors) who keeps his own home arsenal and thinks it’s fun to fire off a few rounds a week from his back porch at the snapping turtles in the adjacent pond that he believes are eating “his” ducks; of monthly/weekly gun & knife show ads in general circulation publications (like The State); of folks (elsewhere in the Upstate) who find it a real kick to set off explosive charges in their backyards by firing rifle rounds at them (producing explosions strong enough to rattle neighborhood windows), a practice which local law enforcement says it’s powerless to prohibit because there’s no law against it. I could go on, but that’s enough for a start. You just don’t find these things in places where there is, as Mr. Warthen puts it, no “gun fetish cult.”