The following is what started out to be a comment in response to MikeB30200 here in my comments. When I got to about 500 words I decided it was time to make it a post. What you see below is the result.
The short backstory is MikeB302000 claimed:
“gun violence is an inevitable part of there being guns in the society”
And let me add, the more guns the more gun violence. What’s so hard about that? You say you want proof, Linoge. I say you’re just breaking balls.
Without proof, do you say the statement is false? You and Joe are the big intellects around here, right.
If you cannot prove something, it does not exist. Period. Full stop. End of story.
MikeB302000 appealed to me with:
Joe, what say you? Do you agree with that latest pomposity?
Is Linoge’s smoke blowing around here going to be reciprocated? Or is this the sticking point, the point at which you have to part ways with your nastier and more prolix buddy?
And now my response:
In the general case Linoge overstated things. Something may exist without proof of it’s existence being available.
For example; 100 years ago we did not have proof of planets orbiting stars other than our own. The existence of those planets did not rely on our having proof of them. Absence of data about the existence of something does not mean there is no existence.
But in the specific context in which he said the statement in question there is a significant body of data. This data appears to contradict MikeB302000’s claims of fact. Mike appears to be unwilling or unable to supply data that supports his assertions. In order to validate his claims he has to do two or more of the following: 1) Demonstrate the data supplied by Linoge is false; 2) Supply alternate data which contradicts his data; 3) Show that the conclusion drawn by Linoge from the data is incorrect.
Hence, in the case of no data, existence or claims of fact are questionable at best. But in the case of a great body of data claims of existence must match the data or the claims are questionable at best and quite likely false.
Linoge has been saying MikeB302000 presents no data (or the data is of extremely poor quality) to support his claim “the more guns the more gun violence”.
In a strict reading of MikeB302000 I agree that it is obvious if there were zero guns in existence there would be no violence committed with guns. But it does not necessarily follow that violence continues to increase once the number of guns increases above some number. For example, suppose everyone in society had one handgun and all these handguns were identical. If everyone were to suddenly have duplicates of that gun it would seem to be relatively strong claim to say the violence would not increase with this doubling of the number guns in society.
If MikeB302000 were to defend his claim “more guns the more gun violence” is obvious I think his is going to have to restrict the domain of the claim somewhat. Which will then still leave open the response of, “So what? Violent crimes committed with GUNS is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the TOTAL violent crime/murder/injury/etc. rate.”
Once he gets pushed into the total violent crime rate discussion the obviousness of his claims disappears completely and a substantial body of data is needed to support the claims. At that point Linoge is completely correct, if MikeB302000 doesn’t have proof then his claim of fact, in essence, does not exist.
If I were to wear the anti-gun activist hat for just a moment I would say this and might be able to get some hesitant agreement with the pro-gun activists:
Since a zero gun society is not realistic the first order legislative and enforcement question becomes, “What is the optimal number and/or distribution of firearms in society that can be realistically achieved?”
But the anti-gun activists do not make an attempt at answering such a nuanced question. The demands for “ridding society of illegal guns”, as in MAIG, is a crude attempt at answering that question without considering the “realistic” part. It presumes the answer is to remove all guns from the hands of “people for who the law says it is illegal to possess firearms”. The problems with this are many:
- It totally ignores the Constitutional issues or at best presumes all restrictions are permissible until explicitly prohibited by the courts. This is contrary to other specific enumerated rights and is incompatible with a free and just society.
- Governmental restrictions must be enforced and resources are limited. What is the proper distribution of those resources between punishing individuals who commit violent acts and enforcing restrictions against gun ownership and non-criminal use?
- There is no factual basis current law even comes close to defining the optimal distribution. For example the law denies firearms to a black man convicted in the deep south fifty years ago of possession of a deck of cards containing nude photos of white women. And in another example it denies firearms to a petite woman living in a bad neighborhood or remote area if she was convicted of tax evasion 30 years ago.
- The first approximation of optimal distribution of firearms by anti-gun activists is usually to allow firearms only for the police and the military. But restriction of firearms to only certain government employees presumes government employees will only use the guns for the benefit of society and society will never need to defend itself from the government. If the 20th Century is any indicator then government actors are a much greater threat to innocent human life than individual actors. Based strictly on the number of injuries and deaths to innocent people due to criminal acts committed by both government and individual actors we would be better off forbidding government employees from firearm possession and allowing all others free access.
- Presuming an optimal distribution of firearms in society could be defined by the legislature it may not be realistic to achieve this distribution. For example we have legislatively restricted the recreational use of certain drugs but have had near zero success in reaching the stated goals. And furthermore the unintended consequences of the restricts can be argued to be worse than the original problem.
- Restrictions on the accessibility of firearms and/or creating penalties for misuse has the potential to create a “chilling effect” on legitimate and beneficial use. Even if the Constitutional issues of a chilling effect on the exercise of a fundamental right are totally ignored the legislature must be careful to reduce the misuse at a greater rate than the beneficial use. For example, supposed licensing and registration of gun owners and firearms reduced the number of murders committed with a firearm went from 10,000 per year to 8,000 per year. But if the defensive use of firearms decreased from from 1,000,000 to 500,000 per year and the number of deaths committed with the use of knives, clubs, fist, and feet increased by 5,000 per year then society is worse off.
The anti-gun owner activists will never find common ground and will seldom even find agreement on the smallest detail with the pro-gun owner activists. This is because, for the most part, they are working with completely different data set. The dataset of the anti-gun activist is primarily composed of the victims of criminal and negligent use of firearms. This is a subset of the total data available. The pro-gun owner activist dataset includes the Constitutional, defensive, recreational, and sometimes philosophical issues. What is trivially obvious to the anti-gun owner activist becomes at best a murky issue and frequently clearly false.
Update: I should have also included this from Brady Campaign lawyer Dennis Henigan:
I am not arguing here that higher rates of gun ownership cause higher rates of crime, violent crime, or homicide. Such causation is difficult to show because so many other factors bear on the incidence of crime. For instance, simple cross-national comparisons of gun availability and crime do not control for the degree to which various countries impose legal restrictions on firearms. It also is difficult to sort out whether high levels of gun ownership lead to high crime rates or whether high crime rates lead to high levels of gun ownership.
If even the Brady Campaign is not convinced that higher rates of gun ownership cause higher rates of crime then what does that say about people like MikeB302000?