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Tilting at Windmills

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May 31, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JOHN LOTT UPDATE....Today, the Los Angeles Times atones partly for having continued to publish op-eds by John Lott well after Lott's extreme hackitude had become obvious to anyone with a pulse. They do so by providing space for UC Irvine historian Jon Wiener to explain exactly why Lott is a hack and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Good for them. My favorite part of Wiener's piece is something I didn't know before. Here is Lott's response to Steven Levitt's statement that other researchers have been unable to replicate Lott's thesis that right-to-carry laws reduce crime:

Lott and his supporters disagree. They say it's not true that other researchers have been unable to validate his results. They point to a 2001 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics that contains several articles by scholars who agree with Lott.

But it turns out that all the papers in that issue were originally presented at a conference organized by Lott, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle reported that Lott not only "arranged for the papers to be published in a special edition" of the journal, which is not unusual, but he also paid for the printing and postage.

It's sock puppetry on steroids!

Kevin Drum 11:44 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

Frequency nailed it!

Posted by: Matt on May 31, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Mary Rosh nailed it!

Posted by: KCinDC on May 31, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Lott's integrity -- like everyone with the last name Lott -- has been proven perfect, over and over. Kevin just inists on humiliating himself!

QED!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on May 31, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I lived in a southern state that passed a law allowing concealed carry and, right afterward, the local paper published a map of where the permit application came from and where most crime, especially violent crime, occurred. Completely opposite ends of the city. Who knew that a bunch of white guys running around carrying concealed handguns would have such an immediate effect on crime ?

Posted by: smiley on May 31, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

[waiting for the first wingnut to come in with a Fake But Accurate defense of Lott...]

Posted by: cleek on May 31, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

So, what's the Chronicle of Higher Education's excuse for letting him use their journal to publish a "special edition" chalk full of especially distorted nonsense? Sad...

Posted by: JamesB on May 31, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

The Chronicle reported that Lott not only "arranged for the papers to be published in a special edition" of the journal, which is not unusual, but he also paid for the printing and postage.

And how is that different from what liberals do? You post your liberal opinion and then you validate your opinion by referring to a study done by some other liberals like Harvard or the New York Times. Same thing here.

Posted by: Al on May 31, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Al Nails It!

Posted by: cleek on May 31, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Journal's online, but costs money to get past abstracts.

Posted by: data on May 31, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Harvard is a liberal? Who knew?

I believe the journal being referred to in the Chronicle article is the Journal of Law and Economics , which sounds like a pay-to-publish outfit. Not exactly considered the gold standard among peer reviewed journals.

Posted by: smiley on May 31, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

What? The LA Times doesn't have a problem with sock puppetry!

Posted by: Michael Hiltzik on May 31, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"the Journal of Law and Economics, which sounds like a pay-to-publish outfit."

Put out by the University of Chicago, affilated with that schools (notoriously conservative) law and business schools . .

Posted by: rea on May 31, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

the local paper published a map of where the permit application came from and where most crime, especially violent crime, occurred. Completely opposite ends of the city.

This is so key. The people freaking out the most about crime are the ones least likely to be affected by it. And, as we've seen, the same is true of terrorism. And, I think the same is also true of hot sex - the people most freaked out by that are the ones least likely to bump into any. And the people most freaked out about waging wars are the ones least likely to serve in any.

Some kind of pattern here....

Posted by: craigie on May 31, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

My doctoral advisor worked for a while with Lott at AEI. He confirms, first-hand, that Lott is basically batshit insane.

Posted by: bartman on May 31, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

I usually just point people to Gary Kleck's work. He was an anti-gunner criminologist who set out to do a study about the merits of CCW laws, and found the opposite of what he hoped to find: evidence that right to carry laws work.

Frankly I think it's the mother of all red-herrings. There's even less indication that right to carry laws increase crime, and your right to self defense isn't predicated upon crime stats. Even if CCW permits don't deter crime, who cares? That's not what they're really for--it'd just be a nice side benefit if that's the case.

Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

"So, what's the Chronicle of Higher Education's excuse for letting him use their journal to publish a "special edition" chalk full of especially distorted nonsense?--JamesB

Read it again. The Chronicle reported that the Journal of Law and Economics published the special edition of nonsense. The Chronicle did not publish it. The Journal of Law and Economics published it because it is an organ for right-wing articles. For those of you who have not been to law school, the phrase "law and economics" refers to a right-wing strand of jurisprudential thought. If you see that term, you can rest assured that you are dealing with right-wingers.

Posted by: Scribblerus on May 31, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I got nuttin but love for Kevin, but frankly this is the sort of thing we've come to loathe from the right wingers--attacking the messenger in hopes of casting aspersions toward the message itself.

Al Gore might have made a couple of errors in his movie, but the right wing blogosphere jumping all over them doesn't change the fact that the earth is warming thanks our activity.

John Lott might be completely full of shit, but the dire predictions of more crime and blood in the streets OK-corral-on-every-corner scenarios thanks to CCW permit laws hasn't happened either.

I'm not really sure where Kevin comes down on this issue, from what I can tell he's taken no position...but beating up on Lott for all his foibles probably isn't all that sporting anymore.

Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I got nuttin but love for Kevin, but frankly this is the sort of thing we've come to loathe from the right wingers--attacking the messenger in hopes of casting aspersions toward the message itself.

No, Sebastian -- as you yourself point out, Kevin isn't attacking the message at all:

I'm not really sure where Kevin comes down on this issue, from what I can tell he's taken no position...but beating up on Lott for all his foibles probably isn't all that sporting anymore.

There's a huge difference between attacking the messenger with phony, trumped-up accusations of dishonesty -- as the Bush Cultists have done with Gore, Kerry and a host of Bush critics -- and pointing out that, like Lott abnd Beinart as well, an individual has so entirely forefeited credibility as to not deserve any kind of public forum.

Lott's serial dishonesty ("foibles" indeed!) renders him utterly devoid of credibility. Kevin is quite right to point out that the LA Times erred hugely in giving Lott a public forum, and owes its readers the amends of printing this refutation.

Posted by: Gregory on May 31, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

To be clear--I wasn't trying to suggest Kevin's attacking the message (I do recall him saying guns are one issue where there is a wide spectrum of opinion on the progressive side), but just that the LA Times is brushing up against that sort of thing.

Otherwise, point taken.

Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, its' hacktitude, not hackitude. Get it right! Sheesh.

Posted by: betterbiscuits on May 31, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, it's "it's", not "its'"

Posted by: craigie on May 31, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. lott is one of the greatest instuctors a girl could wish for. Not only is he tall and handsome, he is wise and handsome too. And cute as pistol.

Posted by: Mary Rosh on May 31, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

And can he shoot six times, Mary?

Posted by: JakeBCool on May 31, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

You forgot illegal immigration -- another issue where the fear of it is in inverse proportion to the experience *with* it ...

Sebastian:

Well, the gun nuts that *I* debated in the mid-late 90s were all convinced that CCW would produce a marked drop in crime rates. Not everybody would have to be armed, see, for muggers & rapists to make the determination that they *might* be armed (being, you know, a white person from the good side of the trax) would be enough to act as a deterrent.

And indeed it is -- for folks who don't suffer a the lion's share of violent crime. CCW laws are a boon to the fearful middle class.

But in the inner city -- where violent crime mostly occurs -- it's made little to no difference, and in fact might even have made the problem marginally worse by increasing the amount of guns in a local area (not legally owned guns; guns available from robberies of gun owners, etc.)

And so when the stats are debunked, how does our resident "sane" CCW supporter respond? "Oh, well your right to self-defense isn't predicated on crime stats, anyway."

Nice ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 31, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

betterbiscuits:

I always thought it was "hackticity ... "

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 31, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Next up, John Stossel. His book "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity" is full of nothing but libertarian myths, lies, and downright stupidity. I do hope he's debunked by earnest bloggers.

Posted by: Cop on May 31, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, the gun nuts that *I* debated in the mid-late 90s were all convinced that CCW would produce a marked drop in crime rates. "

And some folks would argue that it's happened. However, my arguments in support of CCW aren't predicated on what the people *you* debated with...so who cares?

"But in the inner city -- where violent crime mostly occurs --"

Crime doesn't just happen in the big city anymore. Welcome to the modern suburban world. Hell, PG County Maryland accounts for 10% of the car jackings in the United States all by itself, and has more crime than any county in our crime ridden state...but certainly isn't the inner city either.

"it's made little to no difference, and in fact might even have made the problem marginally worse by increasing the amount of guns in a local area (not legally owned guns; guns available from robberies of gun owners, etc.)"

MIGHT?

Any stats to back that bullshit up? Any to suggest that CCW laws increase total gun ownership substantially or at all? Hint: you don't need a CCW permit to own a gun, just to carry it.

And if you're worried about guns being stolen from lawful gun owners, you should let them carry--it's never less likely to be stolen than when it's on my hip.

Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

And oh, missed this little turd you left in the punchbowl:

"And so when the stats are debunked, how does our resident "sane" CCW supporter respond? "Oh, well your right to self-defense isn't predicated on crime stats, anyway."

Nice ..."

Just because Lott's work is discredited doesn't mean other's work that says the same thing is debunked (Kleck, et al).

But I stand by that statement--my right to self defense isn't predicated on crime stats or John Lott's crappy methodology (and your an asshole if you're suggesting otherwise). Someone living in the middle of nowhere in Idaho or Nebraska has the same right to defend his life as someone in Baltimore.

IOW...you can beat the shit out of the Lott pinata all you like, it doesn't change the fact that self defense is a right we need to protect.

Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Hi, Sebastian :) I believe we've had this dance before. And to refresh your memory -- I'm a hobbyist debater and claim absolutely no special expertise or knowledge on this subject. It is simply enough for me that John Lott's arguments were debunked. Otherwise plain ol' intuition and horse sense suffices.

And despite ambivalent views of firearms among many progressives -- nobody on this particular blog's going to jump to your defense. There's a marked difference between arguing for something because you want it, and arguing that its ubiquity will somehow improve society.

What we progs don't like is to see people deliberately attempt to blur that line. Even the Dems and progs who have zero designs on making national gun control an issue (include me in that group) just don't like to see what's a basic social science mistake.

You, OTOH, are -- as you must admit -- a diehard partisan on this issue. You start to get upset; you soon enough begin browbeating and ad-homing when faced with dissent. Now I don't take that kind of thing remotely personally -- but it *does* demonstrate a signal weakness in your ability to think clearly on the subject -- despite all the cherry-picked stats you like to hurl.

In other words, dude, you protesteth *way* too much ...

The mistake you make is with methodological individualism. If your ideal world came to pass and everybody was armed -- crime rates would go up, obviously. Then it turns out that you qualify gun ownership with training and safety certification, etc. And at that point it's clear that you're arguing on behalf on a minority using the rubric of inalienable (and universal) individual rights.

Philosophically, that's just an ugly mistake prima facie, and it's substance of my objection to your position.

I'd never attempt to grab *your* gun -- or anybody's firearm who uses it responsibly.

I just don't think you can make effective social policy by extrapolating out from that subset.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 31, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Reasonable people can disagree on things like gun regulations and the size of the government. But notions like fewer restrictions on gun ownership mean less crime, or cutting taxes increases government revenues, attribute magical effects to the policy in question (cutting taxes or gun regs). Believing either thing gets you something for nothing. Since there's no trade-off required, the true believer no longer has to discuss his belief in terms of costs and benefits, but instead is given a rationale for the most recalcitrant, militant position imaginable. That's what's wrong with Lott as well as supply-side quackery.

Posted by: kth on May 31, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Someone living in the middle of nowhere in Idaho or Nebraska has the same right to defend his life as someone in Baltimore.

It might be worth trying to stop discussions predicated on a category error before a flame war starts: arguing rights is not the same as arguing facts (or correlations, for that matter).

If you support the absolute right to self-defense per se, then you really shouldn't be trying to justify it by bringing in crime statistics. And vice versa.

The consensus research on shall-issue suggests that it doesn't make a significant difference either way. But Lott's credibility is a different issue: he has a bully-pulpit (the AEI, regular op-eds) and is obviously well-enough subsidised to consider using the courts to silence his critics.

Let me make this hypothesis: more sockpuppets, less credibility. I'll see if I can get some regressions together.

Posted by: ahem on May 31, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Here's something to consider about methodological individualism:

Micromotives vs macrobehavior.

Like ... it's a beautiful day! Let's all go to the beach!

So everybody hops into their cars and *nobody* makes it to the beach that afternoon because the highway becomes a parking lot.

It's the same thing with the philosophy of arming yourself. Well, we all have an inalienable right to do so. But if everybody did, it wouldn't necessarily reduce crime or firearm injury.

And I guess I object most to this because of the class angle. CCW wouldn't work in hardcore areas of urban poverty because of the extremely high rate of men having prior criminal records -- many of them couldn't own a gun legally if they wanted to. But guns are, nonetheless, in some neighborhoods ubliquitous -- if not the training that every gun advocate acknowledges is essential to firearm ownership.

So the logic of self-defense in packing heat -- or keeping a weapon at home because the cops and 911 are so notoriously slow to respond in those neighborhoods -- has no constitutional or legal safeguard for them. They're on their own in a dog-eat-dog world.

And CCW laws won't fundamentally change that picture.

That bugs me, Sebastian.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 31, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

IOW...you can beat the shit out of the Lott pinata all you like, it doesn't change the fact that self defense is a right we need to protect.

Straw man. The debate isn't whether "self defense is a right we need to protect." The debate -- well, no, it isn't a debate, really -- the subject is that Lott's egregious dishonesty has failed to demonstrate that CCW laws reduce crime, and in fact has rendered the concept highly suspect.

If you want to approach CCW laws, Sebastian, from the standpoint that carrying a concealed weapon makes you feel safer, have at it. But there's no reason whatsoever to ignore Lott's counterproductive, er, "research," much as you might like it to be ignored.

Posted by: Gregory on May 31, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a marked difference between arguing for something because you want it, and arguing that its ubiquity will somehow improve society."

There are two separate arguments: whether you have a right to something (in the case of self defense, pretty clearly you do), and whether the protection of that right improves society.

I'd argue societies that respect rights are better than those that don't, prima facie.

"Now I don't take that kind of thing remotely personally -- but it *does* demonstrate a signal weakness in your ability to think clearly on the subject -- despite all the cherry-picked stats you like to hurl."

Let's see, we've got a load of ad hominem there--the suggestion my taking the argument personally is a sign of weakness. Not true--I'll admit that there's little I take more seriously than protecting my own life, but even more seriously I respect the right of others to do the same. More ad hominem--cherry picked stats? Where? Which ones?

Groundless attack on your part. Speaks to the weakness of your position (not a good start from a guy who freely admits being uninformed on the issue). Once again you're bringing your sharp stick to the gunfight, I presume.

"The mistake you make is with methodological individualism. If your ideal world came to pass and everybody was armed -- crime rates would go up, obviously. "

Strawman. My ideal world doesn't include everyone being armed (but when push comes to shove, there are more good people than bad IMHO, so I figure we'll win). But thanks for proving that you'll continue to misrepresent my position to suit your ends...you attempt to clarify next:

"Then it turns out that you qualify gun ownership with training and safety certification, etc. And at that point it's clear that you're arguing on behalf on a minority using the rubric of inalienable (and universal) individual rights."

How is that arguing on behalf of a minority? I'd support giving the MAJORITY (ie, all people who aren't violent felons) of the populace the CHOICE in the matter. Even if the minority of the populace actually exercises the right, that doesn't diminish its existence.

KTH--

"But notions like fewer restrictions on gun ownership mean less crime, or cutting taxes increases government revenues, attribute magical effects to the policy in question "

Nothing magical about it at all--if you're armed, you can prevent yourself from being a crime victim. What's more, criminals prefer unarmed victims universally (felons surveyed have universally reported they fear armed citizens more than uniformed police when surveyed).

Ahem--

"If you support the absolute right to self-defense per se, then you really shouldn't be trying to justify it by bringing in crime statistics. And vice versa."

I would agree--but for some reason Bob found that objectionable. I don't think the right to self defense or the efficacy of CCW laws rises or falls with a self-serving maroon like John Lott.

Back to Bob--

"And I guess I object most to this because of the class angle. CCW wouldn't work in hardcore areas of urban poverty because of the extremely high rate of men having prior criminal records -- many of them couldn't own a gun legally if they wanted to. "

1) The women in that area should be allowed to protect themselves from men. 2) Those folks in those areas who actually are trying to make it on the straight and narrow shouldn't be denied a right because of the failings of their peers. They need the exercise of that right the most!!

I agree that as progressives we need to address the social causes of crime and the conditions that lead to criminality!! Absolutely. But in the meantime, the rest of us have no duty to make easier and better victims for those who would do us harm. I'm all for creating better living conditions in the inner city; in the meantime, I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to choose to protect myself. The urban blight and the injustices of the justice system, not to mention the social conditions that lead to criminality, all bug me as well Bob. But I've got no duty to be a victim, and social injustices don't negate my right to SD. People in those communities would benefit from the presence of law abiding citizens capable of SD; right now the straight folks live in fear of the crooks. It should be the other way around.

Greg--I'm not really suggesting that Lott's quackery should be ignored, I'm just suggesting that it's not really reflective of any weakness in my CCW case.


Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, to be fair, other economists have been unable to replicate Levitt's famous thesis that legalizing abortion reduced crime. For example:

Further Tests of Abortion and Crime

Ted Joyce
Professor of Economics
Baruch College, City University of NY
& National Bureau of Economic Research
May 2006

The association between legalized abortion and crime remains a contentious finding with major implications for social policy. In this paper, I replicate analyses of Donohue and Levitt (2001, 2004, 2006) in which they regress age-specific arrests and homicides on cohort-specific abortion rates. I find that the coefficient on the abortion rate in a regression of age-specific homicide or arrest rates has either the wrong sign or is small in magnitude and statistically insignificant when adjusted for serial correlation. Efforts to instrument for measurement error are flawed and attempts to identify cohort from selection effects are mis-specified. Nor are their findings robust to alternative identification strategies. A convincing test of abortion and crime should be based on an exogenous change in abortion that had a demonstrable effect on fertility. Thus, I analyze changes in abortion rates before and after Roe to identify changes in unwanted fertility. I use within-state comparison groups to net out hard to measure period effects. I also follow Donohue and Levitt (2004) and average the effects of abortion on crime over 15 to 20 years of the life of a cohort to lessen the impact of the crack epidemic. I find little support for a credible association between legalized abortion and crime.

So, the hackitude charge cuts both ways.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on May 31, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Not true--I'll admit that there's little I take more seriously than protecting my own life, but even more seriously I respect the right of others to do the same.

There's a whole lot of paranoia bubbling underneath your posts. Do you actually live in an inner city?

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on May 31, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

> "There's a marked difference between arguing
> for something because you want it, and arguing
> that its ubiquity will somehow improve society."

> There are two separate arguments: whether you have a right to
> something (in the case of self defense, pretty clearly you do),

While you could doubtless extrapolate that right out of
the 9th Amendment (as with privacy and abortion), there's
no explicit personal self-defense right in the BoR.

Reading the 2A to support that right is a modern misinterpratation.

> and whether the protection of that right improves society.

And that's the crux of the matter. There are people who post here
who doubtless own guns for their protection; we don't seem to get
into debates with them because they don't pursue social arguments to
privilege their personal choice. It's like saying, hey ... I like
to smoke reefer -- but that's not saying that total pot legalization
is going to improve American society or is healthy for most people.

> I'd argue societies that respect rights are
> better than those that don't, prima facie.

Societies that understand rights are even better. Read the 2A; the
inaleniable right guaranteed is the right for communities to organize
a well-regulated militia. The right to bear arms is only the means
to that end. Otherwise -- what's "arms?" Why does the state clearly
have the right to ban, say, private ownership of antitank weapons,
when the Framers would have understood that military-quality artillery
could be fabricated in any well-equipped blacksmith's shop and would
be commonly understood to be "arms"? Were the Framers really talking
about the right of individuals to own cannon as inalienable -- or
were they talking about something more fundamental: the right of a
community to protect itself from a variety of external depredations?

Even in the strict context of 1787 America, the right to bear arms
to organize a militia was not universal, as with, say, speech and
freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Militias were
historically restricted to able-bodied men between 18 and 45.
But the *community* has an unrestricted, inalienable right to self
protection -- something which the blind, the feeble-minded, etc.
still enjoy *through* the establishment of a well-regulated militia.

Then history took its toll, and the citizen-soldier ideal proved
less-than-inspiring for able-bodied men whose time was more well-spent
on their farms or in their shops. And thus the state militias were
absorbed into the National Guard, while the SCOTUS has ruled that
regulating personal firearm ownership is entirely constitutional.

You might disagree with that, but it's well-established.

> "Now I don't take that kind of thing remotely personally
> -- but it *does* demonstrate a signal weakness in your
> ability to think clearly on the subject -- despite all
> the cherry-picked stats you like to hurl."

> Let's see, we've got a load of ad hominem there

Yeah, but while I was writing that message, you
were flirting with calling me an asshole :)

> --the suggestion my taking the argument
> personally is a sign of weakness.

How can it not be?

> Not true--

Heh. Tell that to the most ardent fan of
a musical style you happen to dislike :)

> I'll admit that there's little I take more seriously
> than protecting my own life, but even more seriously
> I respect the right of others to do the same.

Exactly. You're viewing this from a rights perspective, and only
using social arguments after-the-fact as kind of fig leaf. But
honestly, do you really think the Framers would approve of Jonah,
-- the big wall-eyed village oaf with a temper problem -- toting his
pistols everywhere with constitutional impunity *they* granted him?

How do you think George Washington (who disarmed a few rogue militias
in his time) would feel about that? Nopers -- if he couldn't hit the
side of a barn door at drill, he'd be drummed out of the militia --
and doubtless some village elder would have his pistols impounded.

Now if it's free speech, assembly, due process, etc. -- well,
Jonah'a still protected, whether or not he can keep his guns.

> More ad hominem--cherry picked stats? Where? Which ones?

I don't remember, bro; it was the last time we debated this.
But hey ... if you're being *sincere* that your fundamental
rights aren't predicated on crime stats good or bad, it
shouldn't *matter* to you ... right? Right? :);):)

> Groundless attack on your part. Speaks to the weakness
> of your position (not a good start from a guy who
> freely admits being uninformed on the issue).

As I told you last time, brah, Donald Rumsfeld
is a certified military expert -- and he
*still* hadn't a fuck all of a clue about Iraq.

You don't need some esoteric body of expertise to argue a case like
this. *Especially* as you've essentially tied both hands behind your
back stats-wise by owning up to the fundamental rights argument :)

> Once again you're bringing your sharp
> stick to the gunfight, I presume.

Gee, what *other* object longer-than-it's-wide is
suggested by this imagery, one can't help wonder :)

> "The mistake you make is with methodological individualism.
> If your ideal world came to pass and everybody was armed
> -- crime rates would go up, obviously. "

> Strawman.

Not really. This is what happens to your otherwise unimpeachable
individual-rights argument the second you attempt to make it on
behalf of other people. It becomes a *social* argument. Hey look
-- I loathe pornography and Nazi propaganda, but I'll defend anyone's
right to the death to peruse them. But I don't make the *further*
leap that the ubiquity of Nazi propaganda and porno provides some
kind of social benefit. Some lefties *did* try to argue this; these
things serve as a safety valve for anti-social impulses. But no
studies have borne it out and lefties now stick to an ACLU line.

Your life is precious to you -- but everybody's own life is equally
precious to them as well. You can argue that everyone *should*
become a responsible, well-trained gun owner just like you, but
in my view that defies human nature. I don't think the majority
of people are responsible enough to own guns and use them wisely.

And maybe I'm wrong. But maybe, conversely, you're wrong.

> My ideal world doesn't include everyone being armed
> (but when push comes to shove, there are more good
> people than bad IMHO, so I figure we'll win).

Like what ... in Iraq?

> But thanks for proving that you'll continue
> to misrepresent my position to suit your ends

I'm not misrepresenting your position; what we're dealing with is a
rather large difference of worldview. I take my views of human nature
from Hobbes, not Rousseau. We're not, IMHO, "noble savages" who can
be left to our own devices and expect a good outcome. The ratio of
bad people to good people is entirely dependent on the social context.

And this is why I'm an unapologetic big-government liberal. The other
assumption, the sappy, people-are-good individualist shite, is behind
free-market fundamentalism, anarchism -- and especially the neocon
vision of post-occupation Iraq. I abhor this pseudo-optimist garbage.

"Stuff happens," indeed ...

Iraq should have been the perfect model to test your assumptions about
human nature, my man. There was only a handful of "terrorists" and all
the "good people" were armed to the teeth. Well, it'd be real bloody
for a couple years, but soon enough, the "good people," being able to
defend themselves (there are more AKs than people), would kill most of
the "bad guys" and eventually social order would take hold. Iraq was
a 2A partisan's wet dream -- for the first few months or so, anyway.

What happened? The precise *opposite* outcome. Sectarian divisions
have hardened, armed militias provide both the only semblance of real
security that exist and are also used to prosecute atrocities. The
fact that everybody's armed to the teeth is no guarantee of security.
The Americans -- those big 2A boosters -- don't even try to confiscate
weapons now because there are just too many of them floating around.

And everybody, from Condi Rice to Sestani to the new PM to
General Peter Pace, agrees that Job One is disarming the militias.
So much for the universal human value of the Second Amendment.

> "Then it turns out that you qualify gun ownership with
> training and safety certification, etc. And at that point
> it's clear that you're arguing on behalf on a minority using
> the rubric of inalienable (and universal) individual rights."

> How is that arguing on behalf of a minority?

Because no responsible gun-using group in any given society has
been the majority. There are always people who 1) just loathe
guns, 2) are disabled in some way to use them effectively, 3)
have a criminal past and society therefore doesn't trust them
with guns, 4) have temprement issues that should make it obvious
to all (often too late) that they shouldn't own weapons.

> I'd support giving the MAJORITY (ie, all people who aren't
> violent felons) of the populace the CHOICE in the matter.

Blind people and people with Parkinson's don't have a choice. I
don't have stereoscopic vision; I couldn't hit a barn door -- that's
not a choice. How about letting people have guns who have no criminal
record but a history of mental illness? How exactly would you
feel if a dear friend who's a depressive and has admitted suicidal
thoughts at some time in their life -- even if years ago -- told you
they were thinking of buying a gun? -- for self-defense, of course.
Would your first reaction be to believe them -- or would you be
worried? Or how about just a garden-variety impatient hothead?

Are we *really* talking about "equal rights" here? I think not.

> Even if the minority of the populace actually exercises
> the right, that doesn't diminish its existence.

There are even more people in America who "enjoy" porno each day
than there are gun owners. They are exercising a truly sacred right
-- the cornerstone of the BoR. The difference is -- nobody's trying
to pretend that this exercise is leading to a better world, and the
only reason sensible folks don't argue for further criminalizing
the sex industry is that criminalization will only make it worse.

Which is the only substantive reason I don't actively push
national gun control or agitate to repeal the Second Amendment.

> "And I guess I object most to this because of the class angle.
> CCW wouldn't work in hardcore areas of urban poverty because of
> the extremely high rate of men having prior criminal records --
> many of them couldn't own a gun legally if they wanted to."

> 1) The women in that area should be allowed
> to protect themselves from men.

1) Many of these women *also* have rap sheets -- kiting checks,
federal (thanks to the Rockefeller laws) drug raps, child custody
issues, shoplifting, etc. (Don't you ever watch COPS? :) 2) An
armed woman who lives with a man with a history of violent crime
is at extremely high risk of having her weapon taken from her by
force or subterfuge. 3) Since most gun violence happens among
acquaintences, family members and friends as crimes of passion,
lethally arming (as opposed to, say, with pepper spray) victims
of domestic violence is about the stupidest suggestion ever made.

> 2) Those folks in those areas who actually are trying
> to make it on the straight and narrow shouldn't be
> denied a right because of the failings of their peers.
> They need the exercise of that right the most!!

Right. Just like all those good Iraqis who support democracy.

More AK-47s ! *BLAM*

Once again, here's the individualist fallacy -- looking at the
situation from the POV of a single somebody, as if their frame of
reference encapsulates the entire social truth. It might keep some
young adult or older person from getting mugged or carjacked -- but
those sorts of crimes happen mostly to outsiders because they look
vulnerable. Being armed is not going to deter getting hit in the
crossfire by a driveby shooting, or a drunken argument on Saturday
night that leads to gunplay, or gang-style assassinations. When you
already have neighborhoods armed to the teeth, the deterrent value
of guns go down, because the assumption of being armed is stronger.

Here's something to consider: Why are the areas with the highest
level of gun violence so heavily armed? If both sides of a big
drug deal are packin' (and this is, of course, known or assumed),
why is there such a high chance of gunplay *anyway*? What happened
to the idea of guns as the universal deterrent, the Great Equalizer?

Maybe because being armed per se has nothing to do
with it. Being criminal does. If that's the case,
legally owned guns won't make it any less violent.

Maybe the problem is, rather, too many guns.

> I agree that as progressives we need to address the social causes
> of crime and the conditions that lead to criminality!! Absolutely.

Step One would be working to rid these neighborhoods of illegal guns.

> But in the meantime, the rest of us have no duty to make
> easier and better victims for those who would do us harm.

A lassiez-faire attitude toward guns facilitates victimhood.
Arming non-criminals without disarming criminals will have as
much effect on overall crime levels as arming Iraqi civilians.

> I'm all for creating better living conditions in
> the inner city; in the meantime, I don't see why I
> shouldn't be allowed to choose to protect myself.

And here you go, hooksliding from a social argument
into the pure individual-rights argument which
nobody challenged, and which is thus a non-sequitur.

> The urban blight and the injustices of the justice
> system, not to mention the social conditions that
> lead to criminality, all bug me as well Bob.

I'd never challenge you there; there are plenty of extreme
individualists on the left -- look at the anarchists :)

> But I've got no duty to be a victim,

What does *your* "duty" to be a victim
have to do with *their* social conditions?

> and social injustices don't negate my right to SD.

Indeed they have nothing to do with each other. I believe
that cracking down on illegal guns is a saner priority than
pushing through CCW ordinances in blighted neighborhoods.

> People in those communities would benefit from the
> presence of law abiding citizens capable of SD;

Self-defense comes in many forms, active and passive,
and is not tantamount to carrying a lethal weapon.

> right now the straight folks live in fear of
> the crooks. It should be the other way around.

Arming straight folks wouldn't be a deterrent factor in
nabes with high gun possession, because it isn't a deterrent
for the gunplay that already exists between armed badguys.
Domestic violence and drunken arguments flare up spontaneously;
one minute you're quarrelling with a buddy or a neighbor
and the next he's gut a barrel in your face. Being mutually
armed in the Wild West was no guarantee that you wouldn't
get shot. In fact, contrary to hallowed American mythology,
Dodge City had a no-gun ordinance inside the city limits.

> Greg--I'm not really suggesting that Lott's quackery
> should be ignored, I'm just suggesting that it's
> not really reflective of any weakness in my CCW case.

*What* CCW case? That CCW is demonstrably
good for law-abiding middle class people?

If so, the inherent class bias there is precisely what bothers me.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 31, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Do you know what "ad hominem" means? I ask, because the "examples" you cite from rmck1's 2:42 post don't meet any normal definition of the term. For example, saying that your argument is weak, is not an attack on you; neither, for that matter, is describing your evidence as having been cherry-picked. If you think that every disagreement with one of your arguments, or even with your logic, is a personal attack, then you have bigger problems than attempts to limit your ability to carry a concealed weapon.

As for that part of your case, this should be pretty clear. Basing your support for this on second amendment rights is one thing, basing your support for this on desirable social outcomes is another. The two don't happen to overlap in this case, regardless of your claim that "societies that respect rights" (any and all rights? defined why whom??) are "better than those that don't, prima facie".

The fact is, there really isn't any good evidence that concealed carry laws reduce violent crime in areas where people are taking advantage of those laws, so when you continue to link the right to self defense to the efficacy of CCW, you weaken you case by implying that it's an important part of the reason to support the right to carry concealed weapons. This seems to be the gist of your response to KTH: CCW increases the number of people who are carrying weapons in public, but that increase actually decreases violence... based on a logic that is unsupported by evidence.

As for who carries concealed weapons in your ideal world, what exactly does the following mean:
My ideal world doesn't include everyone being armed (but when push comes to shove, there are more good people than bad IMHO, so I figure we'll win)
Are you anticipating some sort of apocalyptic struggle between armed good people and armed bad people? Where is this likely to play out, and are the results likely to be different in Mobile, Alabama than they are in Mogadishu, Somalia?

Finally, why does you right to self-defense reduce to carrying a concealed weapon, and apparently nothing else?

Let's see, we've got a load of ad hominem there--the suggestion my taking the argument personally is a sign of weakness. Not true--I'll admit that there's little I take more seriously than protecting my own life, but even more seriously I respect the right of others to do the same. More ad hominem--cherry picked stats? Where? Which ones?
Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 3:36 PM

Posted by: keith on May 31, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a whole lot of paranoia bubbling underneath your posts. Do you actually live in an inner city?"

Paranoia? Believing in the right to defend yourself is paranoia? Bullshit.

I find that question offensive--as though where I live has some sort of bearing on whether not I have the right to defend myself and my family. But yes, I live in Baltimore (the nation's most violent large city) and yes, I've already been the victim of a violent crime already. What the fuck is your fucking point?

"While you could doubtless extrapolate that right out of
the 9th Amendment (as with privacy and abortion), there's
no explicit personal self-defense right in the BoR."

Self defense is an old common law concept and no legal scholar of any merit that I know of has suggested we don't have it. So I don't know where the heck you're going with that. A lot of the rights we enjoy aren't explicitly spelled out, but that doesn't diminish them unless you're a right wing kook trying to outlaw contraception and abortion.

"I like
to smoke reefer -- but that's not saying that total pot legalization
is going to improve American society or is healthy for most people."

Decriminalizing pot means more freedom and less moralistic right wing nonsense about the War on Drugs. Sounds like an improvement to me.

Many of the personal freedoms we cherish don't need to submit to a means test in the first place--whether or not the freedom to petition the govt, to speak freely, to practice satanism or homosexuality, to be free of unlawful searches, etc. "improve society" is irrelevant. The same is true of self defense.

"Societies that understand rights are even better. Read the 2A; the
inaleniable right guaranteed is the right for communities to organize
a well-regulated militia."

Reasonable people can disagree here. Congress recently found in the preamble to S. 397 that you're wrong. You can disagree if you like, but the 5th Ckt has also disagreed with you as well.

In any event, what this has to do with the right to self defense escapes me, as you've already pointed out that the 2A doesn't speak to that.

As for firearms being regulated being well established, no argument. The question becomes how best to regulate them. I'd argue regulating them such that a de facto state exists where bad guys get them and I can't carry one to protect myself is a bad idea. About 40 states agree with me (most of the rest do on an arbitrary basis, only a few don't allow any carrying at all).

"Yeah, but while I was writing that message, you
were flirting with calling me an asshole :)"

Watch your step or I'll call you POOPHEAD too. Hehe ;).

"Framers would approve of Jonah,
-- the big wall-eyed village oaf with a temper problem -- toting his
pistols everywhere with constitutional impunity *they* granted him?"

Of course not. I certainly don't oppose reasonable restrictions on this sort of thing. But Thomas Jefferson said to make your pistol your constant companion on your walks. I'm with him. :)

"I don't think the majority
of people are responsible enough to own guns and use them wisely."

If this were some grand social experiment being meted out across the nation, your concern might be valid here. But it's not, CCW rights have been phased back in slowly over the last 30 years across the country. And as it's turned out, not everyone packs--but those who do go out and get a permit get trained, they practice, they don't cause mayhem in the streets and they don't recreate the OK Corral. Every state that's studied it has found that permit holders are safer than the rest of the general public and more law abiding. We're up to 40 states where anyone who's not mentally unstable or criminal can get a permit after a licensing process and background check. None of these states has seen CCW permits as anything but a non-event.

"And this is why I'm an unapologetic big-government liberal. The other
assumption, the sappy, people-are-good individualist shite,"

I guess we subscribe to different versions of the progressive ideal. I don't think being a liberal means abandoning individual liberties (in fact, I'd argue that while you're pro-big govt you're no liberal) or subscribing to the view that most people are bad agents who need be controlled. Nothing particularly progressive about that.

As for you using Iraq as a testing ground for 2A principles, seems pretty outlandish. That's a WARZONE and different rules apply. But in any event, Iraq still serves my point of view well--disarming civilians there (besides something that would cause a country wide riot) won't make them safer, it'll just make them better victims.

I don't think you can compare the civil war that's going on there with the US as it relates to self defense law in any intellectually honest manner. Sucks, but that's why they call it a war.

"Because no responsible gun-using group in any given society has
been the majority. "

There are 60Mil to 80Mil lawful gun owners in the US. Trust me, there's more of us than there are of you. If anyone's the minority around this country, it's you. The Brady idiots readily admit the NRA has them outgunned in both numbers and money. We're not going anywhere, us gun owners.

"1) Many of these women *also* have rap sheets -- kiting checks,
federal (thanks to the Rockefeller laws) drug raps, child custody
issues, shoplifting, etc. (Don't you ever watch COPS? :)

Fine, don't let them have CCW permits. I fail to remember arguing that CRIMINALS should have guns.

" 2) An
armed woman who lives with a man with a history of violent crime
is at extremely high risk of having her weapon taken from her by
force or subterfuge."

A woman who lives with a man with a history of domestic violence certainly has bigger issues than what we're talking about. But if you're a single woman living in a neighborhood full of men who are unsavory, a gun is your best bet at repelling a violent attack. Period.


" 3) Since most gun violence happens among
acquaintences, family members and friends as crimes of passion,
lethally arming (as opposed to, say, with pepper spray) victims
of domestic violence is about the stupidest suggestion ever made."

Disarmed women are more easily made dead women by the men who would do them harm. Disarming them or suggesting they fight off men with ineffective weapons like pepper spray is beyond the stupidest suggestion ever made.

Not sure why we're arguing about these straw women anyway. I'm not saying every downtrodden beaten up woman should be issued a gun by the state. I'm simply saying that a law abiding woman who fears criminal elements shouldn't have to just rely on the police, who tend to show up after the crime has been committed to take the report and that's it. Disarming women is sexist crap.

"Once again, here's the individualist fallacy -- looking at the
situation from the POV of a single somebody, as if their frame of
reference encapsulates the entire social truth."

It's not a fallacy--the individual doesn't owe it to society to be a ready made victim for a criminal. That's the entire social truth right there. For you to suggest otherwise is asinine.

"Being armed is not going to deter getting hit in the
crossfire by a driveby shooting, or a drunken argument on Saturday
night that leads to gunplay, or gang-style assassinations. When you
already have neighborhoods armed to the teeth, the deterrent value
of guns go down, because the assumption of being armed is stronger."

Accidental shootings are exceedingly rare. You're more likely to get hit by lightning or drown or be burned to death. Even if you're right that the deterrent value goes down, that doesn't negate the individual's right to self defense. And I reject the idea that robberies and carjackings happen to tourists and outsiders only. There's no statistical evidence to support that, in fact you've already admitted that most violent crime is acquaintance on acquaintance. Make up your mind already.

"Here's something to consider: Why are the areas with the highest
level of gun violence so heavily armed? If both sides of a big
drug deal are packin' (and this is, of course, known or assumed),
why is there such a high chance of gunplay *anyway*? What happened
to the idea of guns as the universal deterrent, the Great Equalizer?"

What are you talking about? EVERYONE in VA has access to guns and Shall Issue carry permits, but they're near the bottom of the list as one of the least violent states. Compare that to MD, where nobody but a few of us rich whiteys gets to carry (I got my permit a couple months back) and we're the second most violent state going.

The facts don't support your argument here. Lots of nonviolent places have loads of guns.

It's about the people, not the guns.

"Step One would be working to rid these neighborhoods of illegal guns."

Ok--but what does preventing LEGAL gun owners from carrying do to help accomplish that? Not a damn thing.

"A lassiez-faire attitude toward guns facilitates victimhood."

How the FUCK can you type something so obviously false and live with yourself? Letting private citizens protect themselves reduces victimhood.

"Arming non-criminals without disarming criminals will have as
much effect on overall crime levels as arming Iraqi civilians."

There you go comparing a sectarian civil war with the US again. Irrelevant. But as I've already stipulated...who really cares about crime levels? Even if my carrying doesn't reduce crime, my right to defend myself isn't maligned or effected in any way. Disarming criminals has been a complete and utter Quixotic quest and a total failure over the last 30 years. We can't seem to do that, but we can give ourselves the right to protect ourselves.

"And here you go, hooksliding from a social argument
into the pure individual-rights argument which
nobody challenged, and which is thus a non-sequitur."

Actually I was pointing out that your argument was the non sequitur--just because CCW permits don't solve crime or poverty doesn't mean they're not meritorious. The right to free speech or to practice your religion doesn't solve crime or poverty either--but we don't fail to respect those rights. Why would the right to protect yourself be any different?

"I believe
that cracking down on illegal guns is a saner priority than
pushing through CCW ordinances in blighted neighborhoods."

We've been "cracking down" on illegal guns for the better part of four decades with little effect. Rather than continue a failed policy, let's admit that criminals will harm us no matter we do, so we may as well let people protect themselves. The real help is improving social conditions, but in the meantime there's little to be gained by preventing me or you or any other law abiding citizen from carrying the means to protect themselves.

"Self-defense comes in many forms, active and passive,
and is not tantamount to carrying a lethal weapon."

You watch too much TV--the reality is that SD is a force continuum. You repel force directed at you with equal force levels. The problem with your anti gun argument is that when the bad guy is stronger than you, a better fighter, or armed, the innocent victim needs a weapon to level the playing field. It's been statistically demonstrated that your best bet at repelling a violent attack against your life is the use of a firearm. Ask any cop you know if they don't think that's true.

As for the class bias, I fail to see how that's an argument that I should turn my CCW permits in. It's an unfortunate state of affairs, but certainly not one that would be improved by denying lower class folks CCW permits altogether.


Posted by: Sebastian on May 31, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: biuy on May 31, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

I find that question offensive--as though where I live has some sort of bearing on whether not I have the right to defend myself and my family. But yes, I live in Baltimore (the nation's most violent large city) and yes, I've already been the victim of a violent crime already. What the fuck is your fucking point?

Frankly after violent criminals it's people like you who worry me the most. I'm sorry you were a crime victim, but obsessing on carrying a weapon to defend you and your family seems to lead down a path where you open fire upon the slightest provocation. You sound like the guy in Louisiana a while back who shot some poor student who had wandered into his garage by accident. Your belief in "self-defense" strikes me more as a need for revenge. I once met a man in a small town in Indiana miles from any city who always carried a gun because he was sure the gang members were around every corner.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on June 1, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Col Bat Guano:

Actually, that was Florida. A Japanese exchange student dressed up for a Halloween party who had wandered into the wrong house and didn't speak English well enough to make his intentions clear.

In Florida, the "man's home is his castle" tradition is pretty firmly entrenched in law.

The homeowner was acquitted by reason of self-defense.

The kid was obviously unarmed and not dangerous.

*shaking head*

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 1, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

> "I like to smoke reefer -- but that's not saying
> that total pot legalization is going to improve
> American society or is healthy for most people."

> Decriminalizing pot means more freedom and less
> moralistic right wing nonsense about the War on
> Drugs. Sounds like an improvement to me.

Smoking more cigarettes, eating more delicious high-cholesterol
foods, driving faster, etc. means more freedom and less moralism
from the Behavior Police. Do these things equate to social goods?

Hey, I spent my late adolescence perpetually stoned. I wouldn't
wish that on anybody -- it had a definite negative effect on my
maturing process. I might legalize pot for adults, just because
the WoD is so wasteful, but I'd still keep it heavily restricted.

> Many of the personal freedoms we cherish don't need to submit
> to a means test in the first place--whether or not the freedom
> to petition the govt, to speak freely, to practice satanism or
> homosexuality, to be free of unlawful searches, etc. "improve
> society" is irrelevant. The same is true of self defense.

What you like to do is to conflate "self defense" -- a broad
concept -- with gun ownership. I brought it to your attention
that gun ownership -- unlike the other BoR freedoms -- *is*
means-tested. Nobody spoke of a "well-regulated" free press.

> "Societies that understand rights are even better. Read
> the 2A; the inalieniable right guaranteed is the right
> for communities to organize a well-regulated militia."

> Reasonable people can disagree here. Congress recently
> found in the preamble to S. 397 that you're wrong.

A Republican Congress.

> You can disagree if you like, but the 5th
> Ckt has also disagreed with you as well.

A conservative circuit court.

> In any event, what this has to do with the right
> to self defense escapes me, as you've already
> pointed out that the 2A doesn't speak to that.

Hey, *you're* the one who keeps wanting to talk about self-defense.

> As for firearms being regulated being well established, no argument.

If they're well-regulated, then gun ownership is in no way the same
sort of right that speech, assembly, due process, etc. are. It's
an entirely means-tested right, contingent on demonstrated behavior.

> The question becomes how best to regulate them. I'd argue
> regulating them such that a de facto state exists where bad
> guys get them and I can't carry one to protect myself is a bad
> idea. About 40 states agree with me (most of the rest do on
> an arbitrary basis, only a few don't allow any carrying at all).

It's a social experiment (we often make social experiments through
legislation), the very best for which you can argue that the jury
is still out whether or not it leads to a decrease in crime.

But for you, of course, this point doesn't address your right to
carry a gun as a law-abiding citizen with a demonstrated competence.

You keep switching the ground fluidly back and forth
from individual rights to social effectiveness.

> "Framers would approve of Jonah, -- the big wall-eyed village
> oaf with a temper problem -- toting his pistols everywhere
> with constitutional impunity *they* granted him?"

> Of course not. I certainly don't oppose reasonable restrictions
> on this sort of thing. But Thomas Jefferson said to make your
> pistol your constant companion on your walks. I'm with him. :)

But how would Jefferson respond if Jonah tried to
throw those words of his back into his face, eh?

> "I don't think the majority of people are responsible
> enough to own guns and use them wisely."

> If this were some grand social experiment being
> meted out across the nation, your concern might
> be valid here. But it's not,

Except of course it is (just as is abortion, civil unions,
untaxed corporate profits, etc.). CCW laws are going to be judged,
at the end of the day, on their effectiveness at reducing crime.

> CCW rights have been phased back in slowly over the last
> 30 years across the country. And as it's turned out, not
> everyone packs--but those who do go out and get a permit
> get trained, they practice, they don't cause mayhem in
> the streets and they don't recreate the OK Corral.

To "have expected" otherwise is a straw man.

> Every state that's studied it has found that permit holders
> are safer than the rest of the general public and more law
> abiding. We're up to 40 states where anyone who's not mentally
> unstable or criminal can get a permit after a licensing
> process and background check. None of these states
> has seen CCW permits as anything but a non-event.

And this makes my point. CCW is restricted to a self-selected
population, demographically skewed to the middle class. Since most
violent crime happens among an entirely different demographic, it's
no suprise that CCW has had little effect on violent crime rates.

> "And this is why I'm an unapologetic big-government liberal. The
> other assumption, the sappy, people-are-good individualist shite,"

> I guess we subscribe to different versions of the progressive ideal.

No, to be perfectly honest it just strikes me that you haven't
read much political philosophy and/or the history of Western ideas.

> I don't think being a liberal means abandoning individual liberties

And where did *that* false dichotomy come from, dare I ask? :)

> (in fact, I'd argue that while
> you're pro-big govt you're no liberal)

Tell *that* one to FDR, JFK, LBJ ...

> or subscribing to the view that most people are bad agents who
> need be controlled. Nothing particularly progressive about that.

Or tell it to Thomas Hobbes, the first big-government liberal (and
hugely progressive for his time), who put the state (Leviathan) on
a rational footing apart from the Divine Right of Kings. Hobbes
had a famously jaundiced view of human nature pre-Social Contract.

Are you a Libertarian, Sebastian? No? Your heart bleeds for the
social conditions of the inner cities, and you know damn well that
the folks in there need more help than "pulling themselves up by
their bootstraps" would ever provide, right? Well ... where do
you think that help will come from? The government. Regulation.

Which means that you're a "big government liberal," too. Betcha
didn't know that about yourself, eh :) What makes modern liberals
philosophically inconsistent (unlike Libertarians) is their separate
treatment of the private sphere (which should be as free as possible)
vs the public sphere (which requires approprate regulation). The
division comes from John Stuart Mill's famous dictum that my rights
end at the beginning of your nose. Gun rights is one of those
areas (unlike, say, viewing porno or smoking pot) that rides the
knife-edge between them. Folks who focus on the private sphere
stress it as an individual right. Folks who focus on the public
sphere aren't so sure -- just as you can smoke yourself into an early
grave in the privacy of your own home, but secondhand cigarette smoke
affects the people around you and is thus appropriately regulated.

My view is that both spheres need to be considered when talking
about gun rights, because guns can cause death and grave injury.

Even if you wind up killing an unsavory character in a justified
act of self-defense, it tends to haunt a decent person's conscience.

> As for you using Iraq as a testing ground
> for 2A principles, seems pretty outlandish.

What -- sombody repealed human nature when I wasn't looking? :)

> That's a WARZONE and different rules apply.

Iraq is at war? Really? With whom? Iran? Turkey? America???

> But in any event, Iraq still serves my point of view well--disarming
> civilians there (besides something that would cause a country wide
> riot) won't make them safer, it'll just make them better victims.

Well, considering that the *militias* are apparently doing a large
share of the damage now, I'd say that disarming civilians is pretty
much a non-starter. But if you asked anybody in that country --
American commanders, Iraqi politicians, our Secretary of State --
what would be the ONE thing they could make a wish on -- it would be
disarming the country, without any question. Iraq is literally the
most weaponized country in the world, and without any question the
easy access to firearms and explosives is facilitating the conflict.

Don't forget that we *already* had a policy of disarming Iraqis
(but leaving them with an AK47 per family for self-defense.)

> I don't think you can compare the civil war that's
> going on there with the US as it relates to self
> defense law in any intellectually honest manner.

Iraq is having a civil war? Really? What -- the Kurds are
at war with the Sunnis and the Sunnis are at war with both
or something? Has this been *declared* and I missed it?

> Sucks, but that's why they call it a war.

News flash: Bosnia was a civil war. This is a low-level civil
conflict fueled by ethnic/sectarian strife and tribal revenge,
with a large criminal element mixed in and taking advantage of
the chaos. It could *become* a full-blown civil war, but we're
not quite there yet. I brought the example up just to make a hash
of the notion of the majority of "good guys" eventually winning
over a tiny minority of "bad guys" if both sides were equally armed.

Both sides being equally armed certainly hasn't reduced the mayhem.

> "Because no responsible gun-using group in
> any given society has been the majority. "

> There are 60Mil to 80Mil lawful gun owners in the US.
> Trust me, there's more of us than there are of you. If
> anyone's the minority around this country, it's you. The
> Brady idiots readily admit the NRA has them outgunned in both
> numbers and money. We're not going anywhere, us gun owners.

Sorry for the lack of precision. Gun *ownership* is an American
tradition. Gun *use*, as in the daily carrying of concealed
sidearms to deter crime is a relatively new phenomenon
and those people are without any question a minority.

> A woman who lives with a man with a history of domestic
> violence certainly has bigger issues than what we're
> talking about. But if you're a single woman living in
> a neighborhood full of men who are unsavory, a gun is
> your best bet at repelling a violent attack. Period.

Many women who live alone in areas like that are doubtless
*already* armed -- or have a boyfriend who is. But these
types of predatory attacks are more common for strangers in the
nabe than residents. What's more common, once again, are domestic
disputes (and there are many kinds) that boil quickly into rage
and take a person completely by suprise. And these sorts of
incidents that grow out of quarrels aren't instantly settled
down by the sight of a weapon -- they're more often exacerbated.

"Oh yeah, you got a gun, sistah, I'd like to see you use it ... "

Entirely different deal when you're confronting a bunch of strangers
at night at your apartment door and you can read your demeanor
and reach for your weapon when they approach you menacingly.

Guns just aren't all that useful in domestic disputes -- with people
you view as more than merely predators: Neighbors, obnoxious friends,
your friend's boyfriend who you were drinking with a minute ago.

> Disarmed women are more easily made dead women
> by the men who would do them harm.

Especially when it's their abusive but loved/needed/mooched
off of boyfriend/lover/pimp who's doing the disarming ...

> Disarming them or suggesting they fight off men
> with ineffective weapons like pepper spray is
> beyond the stupidest suggestion ever made.

Who says pepper spray is not effective? It has the signal
advantage of not killing anybody (including anybody who might
be standing behind the attacker) or causing collateral damage.

Advantages if you happen to be about to
be raped by your mother's boyfriend ...

> Not sure why we're arguing about these straw women anyway. I'm
> not saying every downtrodden beaten up woman should be issued
> a gun by the state. I'm simply saying that a law abiding woman
> who fears criminal elements shouldn't have to just rely on the
> police, who tend to show up after the crime has been committed
> to take the report and that's it.

Once again, self-defense is a broad concept.

> Disarming women is sexist crap.

Who said anything about disarming women *qua* women? I'm saying
is that women who live in the inner city are most likely to face
life-threatening violence in intimate, domestic situations where a
firearm is less useful as a deterrent in a moment of mutual heat.

If a woman walks home from work and feels threatened by
a stretch of street, then by all means let her carry if she
wants to (legally or not). I'm just saying that's not the modal
situation the way it might be for someone who works late in the city.

> "Once again, here's the individualist fallacy -- looking at
> the situation from the POV of a single somebody, as if their
> frame of reference encapsulates the entire social truth."

> It's not a fallacy--the individual doesn't owe it to society to
> be a ready made victim for a criminal. That's the entire social
> truth right there. For you to suggest otherwise is asinine.

It appears that you've internalized a right-wing meme without
even being aware of it. Conservatives have been trying to deny
the independent existence of "society" since Emile Durkheim (he's a
classical French sociologist, in case you haven't heard the name).

Your personal resentment projected onto somebody whose situation you
don't even know is not any kind of "truth" save a psychological one.

> Accidental shootings are exceedingly rare. You're more likely
> to get hit by lightning or drown or be burned to death.

Another straw man easily refuted because it had nothing to do
with my reference to being caught in the crossfire of a driveby
shooting. I knew someone in my neighborhood who was killed by
one two years ago -- and my nabe is not noted for gang activity.

> Even if you're right that the deterrent value goes down,
> that doesn't negate the individual's right to self defense.

You repeat word-for-word a rebuttal to an unchallenged
assumption. Another straw man bites the dust :)

> And I reject the idea that robberies and
> carjackings happen to tourists and outsiders only.

Who said they did? (Man, these straw men don't stand a *chance* :)
Only that they're not the more common kind of violence for residents
of those neighborhoods. You know ... statistical arguments :)

> There's no statistical evidence to support that,
> in fact you've already admitted that most violent crime
> is acquaintance on acquaintance. Make up your mind already.

Huh? They *are*. My argument is that CCW is most effective as
a deterrent for precisely those sorts of stranger-on-stranger
crimes, especially where a person looks out-of-place in a
neighborhood. You know -- Florida carjackers going after rental
cars pulling out of the airport because they know that Florida
citizens tend to be armed kinda thing. Crimes of plunder.

I'm just saying that the modality of crime is different for inner
city *residents*, when domestic disputes often become violent where
people know each other and would be reluctant to shoot each other
because of it. There, drawing a weapon would more likely be
counterproductive. You're really going to shoot your boyfriend?, etc.

And this is why I find the argument for CCW as a deterrent to crime
profoundly and odiously biased towards the white middle class.

> "Here's something to consider: Why are the areas with the highest
> level of gun violence so heavily armed? If both sides of a big
> drug deal are packin' (and this is, of course, known or assumed),
> why is there such a high chance of gunplay *anyway*? What happened
> to the idea of guns as the universal deterrent, the Great Equalizer?"

> What are you talking about? EVERYONE in VA has access to guns and
> Shall Issue carry permits, but they're near the bottom of the list
> as one of the least violent states. Compare that to MD, where nobody
> but a few of us rich whiteys gets to carry (I got my permit a couple
> months back) and we're the second most violent state going.

NYC is at the bottom of the list, too -- but their CCW laws are
restrictive and didn't change while the crime rate dropped in the
90s. Apples and oranges; I'm talking about violent inner cities
awash in illegal guns. If by rights *everybody* being armed
made a difference -- you'd see less gunplay. Fact is, in gang
violence the victims are often as armed as the perpretrators.

> The facts don't support your argument here.
> Lots of nonviolent places have loads of guns.

That wasn't my argument. Nor is this surprising.

> It's about the people, not the guns.

Exactly. Except that guns are a very good facilitator
of murderous impulses. Just like it's not the whiskey's
fault -- it's the way your body reacts to the alcohol.
Or that it's not the bullet that kills -- it's the hole :)

> "Step One would be working to rid
> these neighborhoods of illegal guns."

> Ok--but what does preventing LEGAL gun owners from
> carrying do to help accomplish that? Not a damn thing.

Another straw man bites the dust. RIP, Scarecrow :)

> "A lassiez-faire attitude toward guns facilitates victimhood."

> How the FUCK can you type something so
> obviously false and live with yourself?

A lassiez-faire attitude toward guns facilitates victimhood.
A lassiez-faire attitude toward guns facilitates victimhood.
A lassiez-faire attitude toward guns facilitates victimhood.

Ooh, ooh, curse s'more. It gives me a big boner :)

Try BECAUSE IT DOES. And a lassiez-faire attitude toward guns
would hardly be endorsed by the NRA, either, for that matter.

Maybe your problem is that you don't know what "lassiez-faire" means.

> Letting private citizens protect
> themselves reduces victimhood.

Guns aren't an adequate answer for inner
city domestic disputes, as I have argued.

> "Arming non-criminals without disarming criminals will have as
> much effect on overall crime levels as arming Iraqi civilians."

> There you go comparing a sectarian civil war with the US again.

Can you explain what exactly, in behavioral terms, is the
difference between Sunnis vs Shi'ites and Bloods vs Crips?

Aside from the scale, of course ...

> Irrelevant.

Completely relevant in arguing that more arms = more violence.

> But as I've already stipulated...who
> really cares about crime levels?

Who cares about crime levels? Woo hoo, don't call yourself a
liberal, boy. Call yourself a confused Libertarian -- but liberals
tend to be concerned with what most benefits society as a whole.

> Even if my carrying doesn't reduce crime, my right to
> defend myself isn't maligned or effected in any way.

This target is getting pretty frayed around the edges
after the third time you offed it, don't you think?

> Disarming criminals has been a complete and utter
> Quixotic quest and a total failure over the last 30 years.

So has most attempts to "eradicate" crime. Do we send
the police force home because they aren't perfect?

> We can't seem to do that, but we can give
> ourselves the right to protect ourselves.

Inalienable rights are inherent, not given.
Sheesh, read much constitutional theory?

> "And here you go, hooksliding from a social argument
> into the pure individual-rights argument which
> nobody challenged, and which is thus a non-sequitur."

> Actually I was pointing out that your argument was
> the non sequitur--just because CCW permits don't solve
> crime or poverty doesn't mean they're not meritorious.

Precisely like efforts to disarm criminals. I never argued that
CCW was unmeritorious -- only, due to the nature of the most common
types of inner city crime, wildly skewed to the white middle class.

> The right to free speech or to practice your religion doesn't
> solve crime or poverty either--but we don't fail to respect those
> rights. Why would the right to protect yourself be any different?

The right to self-defense is inalienable.
The right to carry weapons is contingent.

> "I believe that cracking down on illegal guns
> is a saner priority than pushing through CCW
> ordinances in blighted neighborhoods."

> We've been "cracking down" on illegal guns for
> the better part of four decades with little effect.

Uh-huh. And you've got the stats to prove it, I'll bet :)

> Rather than continue a failed policy, let's admit
> that criminals will harm us no matter we do, so
> we may as well let people protect themselves.

Sensible people already protect themselves, given how self-
defense is an inalienable right. I'd rather focus on more
effectively implementing the more difficult yet more useful
task of making illegal guns and ammunition harder to come by.

I wouldn't want to be in the business of telling
people how to best defend themselves or anything.

> The real help is improving social conditions, but in the meantime
> there's little to be gained by preventing me or you or any other
> law abiding citizen from carrying the means to protect themselves.

Who's arguing prevention? I'm merely saying that CCW is marginally
effective in reducing violent crime overall -- and more effective
for people who have the lesser chance of running into it.

> "Self-defense comes in many forms, active and passive,
> and is not tantamount to carrying a lethal weapon."

> You watch too much TV--

I watch almost zero TV, as I told you the last time.

> the reality is that SD is a force continuum. You repel
> force directed at you with equal force levels. The problem
> with your anti gun argument is that when the bad guy is
> stronger than you, a better fighter, or armed, the innocent
> victim needs a weapon to level the playing field. It's been
> statistically demonstrated that your best bet at repelling
> a violent attack against your life is the use of a firearm.
> Ask any cop you know if they don't think that's true.

What happens when the bad guy is already
armed? You recommend hand grenades? :)

> As for the class bias, I fail to see how that's
> an argument that I should turn my CCW permits in.

Because it, uhh, isn't one? Damn, brah ...
get a broom. There's straw *everywhere* ...

> It's an unfortunate state of affairs, but
> certainly not one that would be improved by
> denying lower class folks CCW permits altogether.

It's not a question of denying them. It's a question of whether
it would make a social difference. Of course, when confronted with
that, you claim -- like any good nihilist -- that it doesn't matter.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 1, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian, give it up. Not reason nor evidence will convince anti-gunners to change their minds on the subject. Being anti-gun is more of a quasi-religious emotional-moral conviction than a belief based upon rational thought.

It's a shame those people still have such a grip on Democratic Party policy making and I don't expect that will change anytime in the near-future. While most of the nation is moving on by expanding gun rights and rationalizing gun-laws, other states such as Maryland or California which are still solidly controlled by the Democratic Party continue to squeeze new anti-gun laws into practice even though there are not many more restrictions left short of broad prohibition (the ultimate goal, as in Washington D.C.). Getting a carry permit in Maryland must have taken a minor miracle.

Posted by: Brad on June 1, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

And as to whether the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to arms (including firearms)...

I think it's very amusing that the constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, potential supreme court justice, has come down on the side of the individual right interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

It's also very amusing that when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals contradicted the 5th Circuit and ruled that the 2nd Amendment was not an individual right, that the court made reference to the work of Michael Bellesiles as supporting evidence. (A reference that was excised once Bellesiles fakery was finally acknowledged by most scholars)

Posted by: Brad on June 1, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Brad:

> Sebastian, give it up.

Always satisfying to watch an opponent
advise his ally to wave the white flag :)

> Not reason nor evidence will convince anti-gunners
> to change their minds on the subject.

Sebastian had reason or evidence? Looked to me like
he had a bunch of false dichotomies, straw men and
false equivalences -- which in the end didn't matter
because he was making the argument "on principle" :)

> Being anti-gun is more of a quasi-religious emotional-moral
> conviction than a belief based upon rational thought.

Beliefs are based on rational thought? :)

Which is like saying that being anti-Iraq war is more
of a quasi-religious emotional-moral conviction than
a belief that Iraqis, being rational people, would
prefer a non-violent democratic process.

Be nice if it worked out that way, wouldn't it.

Funny thing is, I'm not much of an anti-gunner politically.
My argument wasn't even against CCW laws per se -- only that
they benefit middle class white people disproportionately while
having a questionable effect at best on overall crime rates.

This, of course, tweaked Sebastiaon's politically correct
bone, so he tried to argue how *more guns* in violence-
plagued inner cities would make the problem *better*.

Which is sort of like saying that more guns on
the streets of Baghdad would facilitate a truce.

> I think it's very amusing that the constitutional
> scholar Laurence Tribe, potential supreme court justice,

Tribe a potential Supreme Court justice?
In what -- the Kucinich Administration? :)

> has come down on the side of the individual
> right interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

Even if you read an individual right into the 2nd Amendment, unlike
any other enumberated right in the BoR, it's still a means-tested,
contingent right. The ACLU argues for the free-speech rights of
Nazis and NAMBLA all the time. The ACLU would never go before a
judge arguing for the right of a convicted felon to own a sidearm.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 1, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

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