I think we are done here

I”ve been tilting at windmills again. This one is in Kentucky.

The time stamps on the email are a little messed up because we are in different time zones.


From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 8:38 AM
To: lli@kykernel.com
Subject: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

Just one question for you: Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?

See also: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2004/12/14/just-one-question/

-joe-

From: Li, Linsen
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 7:24 AM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

The “average” students murdered in Virginia Tech and NIU would not have been killed had stricter gun control been in place to prevent two killers from purchasing handguns legally. I hope that answer your question.

Linsen

From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 12:51 PM
To: Li, Linsen
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

That is a prediction about what might have happened had things been different. It is a closer to a hypothesis rather than a fact or a valid conclusion. Stated differently, “What evidence do you have that would actually be the case?”

Over the years there have been thousands of laws passed restricting weapons.
Hundreds of studies have been done testing the hypothesis that such laws make people safer. These hypotheses have never proven out. That is a fact.
If you have evidence otherwise then you will be making sociological and criminological history and you should publish a paper on it. If your data stands up to scrutiny you will be famous.

There is an alternate hypothesis that also must be tested which I don’t think you have considered, “Does the restriction of weapons enable and/or encourage predators by ensuring their victims are defenseless?”

I repeat my one question, “Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?”

Regards,

Joe Huffman

From: Li, Linsen
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 1:47 PM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

Joe,

If you wish to get into semantics, using your own logic, your question itself is invalid. By using the word “safer,” an adjective in comparative form, you imply that there must exist two outcomes of one scenario, but since the question is in the past tense, there is only one actual outcome.
Making any comparisons would inevitably include making a hypothesis of a different outcome front the actual past, which invalidates the comparisons because you are only looking for “a fact or a valid conclusion.” To demonstrate how the question as you intended is not fair, apply the question to finding an argument supporting more gun access. You will inevitably use a hypothetical argument with your example.

Many studies show that the United States lead all developed countries in number of firearm-caused deaths porportional to population, and that lead is substantial. While these statistics and many arguments are inconclusive, or rather, imperfect – in the pure logical sense – to prove that restricting firearms can reduce danger to society, we make worldly decisions based on commonsense and pragmaticism, and all the evidence supports the commonsensical notion that guns indeed endanger the society and should be strictly controlled.

Regards

Linsen

From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 5:59 PM
To: Li, Linsen
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

You are correct in that the experiment cannot be run again with the same initial conditions changing on the legal restrictions on weapons, but apparently you haven’t read my blog posting
(http://blog.joehuffman.org/2004/12/14/just-one-question/) or any of the papers on the subject. There are two ways the comparison is done: 1) Compare violent crime rates (not just violent crimes assisted by firearms) before and after a restriction was enacted; and 2) Compare violent crime rates during the same time period in geographically adjacent but politically different jurisdictions. For example Washington D.C.’s violent crime rate can be compared before and after the handgun ban (time based comparison).
And geographically Virginia is “just across the street” from D.C. with much less restrictive weapon laws. There are hundreds of opportunities for studies of this nature with the thousands of laws that have been enacted in many countries. The more geographically and culturally distant the two (or
more) zones you are comparing the less likely you will obtain valid results.
Hence your comparison of the U.S. to other “developed countries’ would be suspect even if it were to compare violent crime rates rather than just violent crime assisted by firearms.

If you want to examine mass shooting such as Virginia Tech and the more recent North Illinois University tragedies then please compute the correlation coefficient between “gun free zones” (such as schools, workplaces, and states that prohibit people from carrying defensive tools) and the instances of these type of events. Nearly all of them happen in places where firearms were banned. They almost never happen in shopping malls, theaters, and other locations with large numbers of potential victims but yet are allowed to carry defensive tools. Compare, for example, the recent school shootings in the U.S. compared to the recent event of TWO attackers at an Israeli school: http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/310078.aspx

You claim, “All the evidence supports the commonsensical notion that guns indeed endanger the society and should be strictly controlled”. Yet I have seen zero evidence of this. If you have such evidence you will, as I said earlier, be able to make quite a name for yourself because no one has yet been able to supply it. I would be honored to help you earn your just fame by posting it on my blog in response to my “Just One Question” post.

As for the “commonsense” approach you need to evaluate other viewpoints for validity. Although I agree your appears valid at first glance I view the situation a little differently from you. It’s not quite a simple as we would like it to be.

Another way to look at the problem is to make the problem space much smaller. Are YOU made safer if the government takes all your defensive tools from you? I think the answer is clear. No, you are only made safer if the government takes offensive tools away from others that might harm you.

The problem boils down to how does the government (or any other entity) remove weapons from predators with minimal or no impact on the potential victims? No one has been able to accomplish this. It always seems that the predators are less affected by weapons restrictions than are the potential victims who would use the weapons for self defense. This is because most potential victims will obey the restrictions and the predators will obtain weapons illegally or have little or no need for weapons if their prey has been disarmed. Hence weapon restrictions, at best do no good or worse create a low risk environment for predators.

Regards,

Joe Huffman

From: Li, Linsen
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 8:20 PM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

Joe,

I did go back and read your blog post, and I have to say that its arguments are less sound than the arguments presented in your correspondence. For one, you automatically presume that no one can answer your challenge to the point that you wrote, “any comments to this post presuming to support a “Yes”
answer will be deleted.” What’s the point of posting a challenge if you don’t allow any challengers to respond?

To answer your questions from the previous mail, the possible evidence you suggested cannot possibly be logically extensive. Besides semantical arguments, I can also raise more commonsensical arguments to rebuke the proposed evidence. For example, Washington, D.C., has consistantly had high crime rates, so comparing its crime rates to Virginia is unreasonable. In addition, despite the fact that some states/establishments may have much stricter gun control, because guns are easily accessible elsewhere in the state/country, the danger factor from firearms is not necessarily lowered.

I understand that I probably won’t be able to change your stance on firearms, nor do I expect you to do the same to me. However, I appreciate the fact that you are using reasoning rather than threats and slogans to get your message across. Now, if only you can be so reasonable in your blog posts…

Regards

Linsen

From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 1:52 AM
To: Li, Linsen
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

Apparently you missed a paragraph in my post:

—–
If you are someone that has a “Yes” answer and believe you can conclusively demonstrate that then write it up and email it to me. Plan to have your work posted on a website of my choosing along with my comments. I will give you credit for your work or keep it anonymous–whichever you prefer. I will put links to those responses in the comments to this post.
—–

I welcome responses. I just didn’t want the debate taking place in the comments.

D.C. was just a quick example. Anyplace where a law has been enacted which affected the restrictions on firearms either a time based comparison and/or a geographically based comparison can be (and probably has been) made. The end result of those studies? Weapons restrictions do not make people safer.

You think my blog posts are unreasonable? Would you consent to my posting of our email discussion? Would that make me appear more reasonable?

And what of your reasonableness? You appear to hold the position that firearms should be severely restricted or perhaps banned. But as many times as that experiment has been tried you appear to be either unwilling or unable to demonstrate where that made people safer. So, if you maintain that belief one has to ask, “Why do you maintain that belief when you have no evidence to support it?” What is the real reason for you to hold on to such a belief? None of the answers I can come up with are very pleasant.

Thanks for taking the time to think about the issue. That is a lot more than most people do.

Regards,

Joe

From: Li, Linsen
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 11:49 PM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

Just because my evidence to support my belief is invalid in your mind doesn’t mean it’s invalid to the rest of us. I wouldn’t hold a belief without believing in some reasoning or evidence supporting that belief. So I do not understand your rather militant questions at the end. I respect anyone’s opinion, and regardless of whether I agree with it, I am sure that the person has his/her own reasoning, valid or not. So if you don’t agree with the evidence and reasoning I stand by, at least consider the fact that, to me, they are as valid as your evidence and reasoning for lifting gun bans. Hopefully, that’ll refrain you from calling me a bigot or any other unpleasant name you can come up with.

And if you wish to post our exchange on your blog, I’d be OK with that. But it is your blog, and you have the liberty to do what you wish.

Regards

Linsen

From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:43 AM
To: ‘Li, Linsen’
Subject: RE: COLUMN: Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem.

Belief has nothing to do with the validity of evidence.

To respect all opinions is to have no respect for the truth.

Perhaps you haven’t seen the definition of “bigot” recently. Here is the Merriam-Webster definition (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigot): “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices”.

Share with me the evidence which answers my one question in the affirmative and I’ll change my mind. What evidence would it take for you to change yours?

Regards,

Joe Huffman

6 thoughts on “I think we are done here

  1. Just because my evidence to support my belief is invalid in your mind doesn’t mean it’s invalid to the rest of us.

    And there you have it. This, in a nutshell, is why these people are forever unreachable. Their belief is their starting point, and the evidence is made to fit it.

    Amen to this, Joe:

    To respect all opinions is to have no respect for the truth.

    My wife will sometimes say “Well, they have a right to their opinion, too.” I think she’s starting to understand when I respond “Yes, but if you’re going to promote your opinion, you have the responsibility to support it with fact and sound reasoning.”

  2. Well, we have to start somewhere.

    “For example, Washington, D.C., has consistantly [sic] had high crime rates, so comparing its crime rates to Virginia is unreasonable.”

    False.

    http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/2861/wdc6006az0.jpg
    (Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports 1960-2006)

    Best case for the disarmament argument: DC’s 1978 ban on non-government ownership and carrying of weapons had no effect on crime.

    My judgment is apparently failing me, because it appears that the disarmers main defense is to insist that thing which are, are not — from the historical, to the legal, to actual data — after which they offer that it’s just “common sense”.

    So let’s start with the kernel of the argument: define safety.

  3. Typical. Your corespondent starts with multiple deconstructions of the questions and evasions of meaning.

    Then they follow up with a soft Ad hominem attack, questioning your ability to reason or know what is reliable evidence.

    I vote we send him off to read John Lott’s book on gun control and report back.

  4. Further, I challenge Linsen Li to state exactly, and in quotes, where you were being “militant” in your responses. I submit that the term came from a pre-conceived notion that gun owners, or people who advocate the enforcement of the Second Amendment, are militants, i.e. killer wannabes.

    He called you a killer wannabe, or a murder-in-waiting.

    That’s what I call the “default mentality” in parts of our society: Guns are bad, so “gun lovers” (as they often put it) are bad (but your right to an opinion is respected, you militant).

    I also point out the very common, almost universal, “everyone’s-opinion-is-equally-valid” and “everyone-has-the-right-to-their-own-opinion” arguments. First, some opinions are of course far more valid than others, which is the point of your “One Question”. You asked Li to support an opinion, and Li failed to come up with any evidence that would hold up in an average high school science class.

    Second, you have a right to an opinion, it is true, and to express it (First Amendment and all) but you do not have a right to violate the rights of others. The “Everyone-has-a-right-to-their-own-opinion” argument comes out whenever the person saying it has run out of substance. As soon as that argument is hauled out, you have won. It also contains the accusation that you have made some attempt to deny them the right to an opinion, as though you are in fact the bully they believed you to be before the conversation even started. It’s a way of granting themselves instant victim status when in fact you have given them every opportunity to support their position and they came up short. The “I-respect-everyone’s-opinion…” argument (which I hereby assert is an outright lie, you militant who should have his guns taken away by force) is also a cheap attempt to apply equal status to yours and theirs, thereby demoting yours and elevating theirs. As you said, it denies the very existence of reality. (Yeah, I know– there’s your reality and then there’s their reality, and then we go around in circles)

    The final argument of the anti is, “Well, it’s the law!” and at that point it doesn’t matter what your “respected opinion” is because you’ve just lost your rights.

  5. Good try, Joe. You can’t have a debate with someone who rejects facts that are contrary to their theories. People like Linsen are so frustrating.

Comments are closed.