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A Call for a Cease Fire in the Gun Debate

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34 Responses

  1. peacemeal says:

    i’m agreed that respect is needed in policy debate. but how obvious can it be that easy access to guns allowed this sort of thing to occur?

    imagine a state without much in the way of gun control laws — say, virginia — a psychopath buys a gun and wreaks havoc easily. the argument that everybody in those classes could have also purchased their own gun and protected themselves is belied by the fact that (a) nobody did (who wants to lug around a loaded gun just in case), and (b) even if somebody in the class was armed and managed to take out the aggressor, we are still left with some injury or loss of life.

    on the other hand, in more civilized places where human life has more value, guns are not so easily available. in say, england, (or, now, australia) this sort of thing just doesn’t happen, a far better result.

    i have a sinking feeling that the respect we’d like to see in this debate is almost beside the point because no real debate will occur. between the recent decision protecting 2nd amendment “rights” and the equivocation of national politicians seeking votes in the south and west, we will continue to experience this sort of tragedy with regularity. one can only hope that sensible handgun policy will bubble up from the local / state government level (a/k/a the people who have to handle the fallout of these shootings).

  2. Donald Braman says:

    Hi Peacemeal. I don’t want to debate the facts with you, but I can rehearse what the other side has said: Making the school a gun free zone effectively disarmed students who might otherwise have defended themselves. To them, the opposite inference is just as patent as is your inference. And they’ll also tell you about rising violent crime rates in Britain and Australia. And then everyone can get angry with each other about who is lying and manipulating facts, and so on.

    But in rehearsing these claims (and I could also rehearse the counterclaims), I don’t mean to be taking a position. I meant to be indicating how divisive factual arguments like this can be. They’re divisive not because one side or the other has a monopoly on truth or deception, but because both sides are have a cultural argument disguised in empirical terms. When we talk culture, we know that we have differences and have learned to live with those. But in factual arguments, we go for the throat. If we signal respect first, then we can talk more calmly about harm reduction. But this is precisely the wrong time to try to make real headway.

    -Don

  3. 30yearProf says:

    Imagine a state with much in the way of gun control laws — say, California — a psychopath buys a gun and wreaks havoc easily.

    Yes. It happened at a school in Stockton, California. Although he had a “evil black rifle,” the killing was done with a 9mm pistol. The murderer had a criminal/psychiatric background that should have barred him from acquiring the gun but the system failed. He killed himself too. Etc.

    At a McDonald’s in San Diego, too.

    Laws are irrelevant to psychopaths.

  4. RAH says:

    Just today a deranged killer killed 8 grade school children and injured 15 teachers and children in pacifist Japan. Guess what he used a knife. So a killer will obtain the weapon he needs despite obstructions. The fact is guns are just the tool. Agreed a very efficient tool. But it is the human that kills. The reason the Colt revolver was called the peacemaker was that it equalized the advantages of large strong males to small weak males and females. The gun was the equalizer.

    I will agree that the gun made it faster for Cho to kill as many people. But the stuation was a perfect turkey shoot. Walk in a classrom with doors that do not lock. All your targets are cowering and just shoot them one at a time. Not one person threw a desk or charged him in a classroom. The first instinct was to drop and cower and wait and hope that someone will save them.

    The basic difference is the self reliance that many conservatives and country people have. We are less trained to depend on others to save us. We think that it is better to depend on ourselves, than hope that someone will magically appear to save us. That is why we are so angrry at those who do not wish to defend themselves think they have the right to deprive ourselves of our lives and freedoms by preventing ourselves from defending ourselves.

  5. John Jenkins says:

    Peacemeal,

    As of last year, Virginia Tech had adopted a policy of not permitting guns on campus, so the fact that no one had a gun doesn’t really prove anything. A bill in the state legislature to overturn the rule was tabled.

    I am quite puzzled by the argument that, “if somebody in the class [were] aremed and managed to take out the aggressor, we are still left with some injury or loss of life.” That is a truism, but it doesn’t strike me as particularly meaningful, in that the loss of life would be potentially lessened over what actually obtained

    Short of the absolute absence of weapons, it would be hard to prevent this sort of thing (and that absolute absence is an effective impossibility in a country as large as the United States). Moreover, I sit here today a few blocks from the Murrah Building memorial in Oklahoma city, where 168 people were killed 12 years ago without a shot being fired, through the use of easily obtainable agricultural staples.

    You also are using a great deal of loaded terms there, like putting scare quotes around rights , and calling the policy you want (an absolute ban) the only sensible policy. I don’t think that you are giving the sort of respect you seem to demand, or at least seem to pay lip service to.

    Another way to look at things might be that there are 250,000,000 guns in the United States and so very few of them are used in crimes. Serious Crimes of all kinds are aberrations almost everywhere in the United States.

    But this is such an outlier, it can’t really teach us anything.

  6. Paul Stancil says:

    Getting back to Donald’s original point (check our Donald’s link — the Cultural Cognition Project’s research is fantastic), it seems to me that much of the potential for these sorts of cognitive curiosities arises out of the “complex system” nature of society. In fact, many policy debates involve systems so complex that they’re effectively “open” — and in the experimental context, open systems don’t tend to yield particularly helpful results. (Turning the current empirical legal studies jargon on its ear a bit, there’s something of an “exogeneity” problem there). In complex systems, virtually any policy preference is defensible, because implementation problems can always be blamed on something else.

    Donald — to that end, I wonder: Have you, Dan, and the other members of your team attempted to judge the differences in cognitive perception based upon the character of the information provided to your experimental subjects, rather than its implications? That is, have you explored the effect of providing subjects “data” rather than “narrative information?” I’d certainly guess that philosophical priors play a major role here, too, but I’d be interested to know whether raw data (e.g., a series of temperature observations/CO2 emissions correlations for climate change, data on cross-jurisdictional gun deaths/gun sales) has less of a polarizing effect than narrative. Predisposition and participation in self-reinforcing ideological communities is going to make folks more or less skeptical of particular types of data, or of the implications of that data, but is that better than the “telling stories” approach that most seem to favor?

  7. Marisa says:

    RAH,

    The attack in Japan happened in 2001, not today. I understand your point, but please be accurate.

    Being conservative or from the country has nothing to do with self reliance in terms of self defense.

    A school is supposed to be a safe place. You shouldn’t feel a need to carry a weapon to class no matter what your opinion of gun control is. Having a gun or not, it takes not self reliance but, among other things, the ability to think and act in the face of a shocking, unbelievable act of hostility. You can’t blame kids for following their instincts. If clear thinking in the face of an emergency were so easy, we wouldn’t need to train and drill police, military, etc. so much on what to do in those situations.

  8. CatCube says:

    “A school is supposed to be a safe place. You shouldn’t feel a need to carry a weapon to class no matter what your opinion of gun control is.”

    It’s the ideas that people *shouldn’t* have to worry and someplace is *supposed* to be safe driving policy prescriptions that drives gun-rights people nuts. (I note that your statement doesn’t necessarily indicate where you fall in the debate) I *shouldn’t* have to live in a world without unicorns, and Kate Beckinsale is *supposed* to be madly in love with me. The fact that something *shouldn’t* be, or is *supposed* to be, doesn’t make it so.

  9. peacemeal says:

    Don- i appreciate the research and you’ve done here, and i realize i was jumiping right into the stalemate you describe (although, frankly, the counterpoints here are weak — has a school shooting — or a workplace shooting — ever been thwarted by an armed student or coworker?). my questions for you are these: 1. when is the right time & manner to engage in this debate? saying “this isn’t the time” tends to take the momentum from the gun-control advocates here, and as you must know, process affects results. your position, while well thought out, tends to reinforce the status quo, which, to those of us who have to live with this kind of violence, is simply not acceptable. 2. where do arguments based on reason (not necessarily factoids) fit into your analysis? is reason a function of culture too? 4. do you consider education levels a factor in “culture”?

    30yearprof- shootings in states with tighter gun control laws can be influenced by states without gun control laws, like how new york city’s illegal handguns come mainly from virginia and the carolinas. a nationwide policy limiting access to assaut guns would likely result in less access to guns in all states and bring down gun crimes.

    RAH – your calling the incident a “turkey shoot” is either in tremendously poor taste, or just uninformed (the virginia tech mascot is a turkey).

    John Jenkins – my point is that its preferable not to have anybody shoot eachother with semiautomatic weapons, rather than having just a handful of victims. i concede a handful of victims is better that a whole bunch. and i’m not talking about zero guns here, i’m talking about limiting the semiautomatic and automatic handguns. i do respect the position of people who use actual hunting rifles for actual recreational animal hunting (although i find hunting repulsive).

  10. Haninah says:

    Great post. I think you make a fantastic point.

    Mr. Stancil, I would argue that more often than not people don’t know what to do with plain data – even if you can get over the innumeracy barrier. CO2 levels, for example, mean nothing to anyone who’s not already well-versed in climate science unless they’re accompanied by some sort of information about what the effect of CO2 on climate is or might be – and then you’re already introducing narrative, and controversy.

    Alternatively, if people do know what to do with a number, it’s usually because they already have a narrative to place it in – and that means that they’re not really getting any beneficial novelty out of the experience. This is the case, for example, with gun violence statistics – unlike CO2 levels, the significance of those plain numbers is much more “transparent,” but that significance is in fact, determined by what you aptly call “philosophical priors” – and we’re back at square one. The same effect will exist with the CO2 numbers if the person being shown the numbers does know enough about the climate debate to make sense of them.

    I would propose an empirical law, then – if you know enough about an issue to make sense of a set of numbers, then you know enough already to have a well-established “philosophical prior” to apply to those numbers.

  11. Donald Braman says:

    Paul,

    The short answer is: sort of. In our most recent studies, we build in manipulations for what you describe as “implications” (including no particular implication) and for the cultural affiliation of the information provider. Both of these things (which accompany most information in the real world) powerfully mediate information’s influence on individual attitudes in a host of risk domains. When the implication and the communicator are congenial, the information is more likely to be accepted. When they are both anathema to the individual, the information is more likely to be rejected. We try to account for having an “open” system by assessing how information is processed when there are competing implications and moral affiliations. So that is the short version of the answer. I’d be happy to give you a longer explanation off the blog – and hear of any suggestion you might have for how to develop better studies!

    Cheers, Don

  12. Donald Braman says:

    …and ditto to Haninah. Let’s call it: Haninah’s Law of Empirics!

  13. Donald Braman says:

    Peacemeal, Your anxiety is understandable — as is the anxiety on the other side. I’m attempting to take the wind out of the sails on *all* sides for the moment. My argument isn’t that we can’t improve on the status quo after careful study of the matter; it’s that careful study of the matter is unlikely to happen (or be discernible from the noise, even if it does happen) in the midst of a culture war.

    We do study education levels in examining culture. Unsurprisingly, party affiliation and ideological self-identification (liberal/conservative) matter more to those with more years of formal education. But basic values matter a lot more than either party or ideological identification among both elites and those with little or no formal education. The data we’ve analyzed suggests that we have a nation of diverse values, and those values appear to matter quite a bit at every level of formal educational attainment.

  14. Paul Stancil says:

    Haninah: I like Haninah’s Law too, at least as a working hypothesis. It may be that innumeracy and the contextual vacuum combine to overwhelm any otherwise salutary effects of a data-driven approach, such that data can only be effective among populations whose philosophical priors overwhelm the implications of the data. My question, maybe poorly articulated, has to do with the extent to which the character of the stimuli provided alters its effect. Your hypothesis is certainly reasonable, however depressing its implications for human nature. I am more interested in exploring whether further empirical or experimental research supports your hypothesis — mine is a question of experimental design.

    Don: Thanks. I just saw Dan present a truncated version of the nanotechnology paper, but I’d love to get a fuller explanation from you. I am unsurprised that congeniality of implication or of communicator affects things as you have found. I’d be interested in controlling for communicator, and then altering the narrative character to see whether “raw” data yields less polarizing results than “narrative” presentations. Haninah is certainly right — innumeracy and lack of context pose problems here, and her empirical law might be spot-on, but I’m still interested in whether part of the visceral reaction people seem to have is a subconscious rejection of accompanying narrative. One possible experimental design: provide temperature charts and measured CO2 levels to one group (in some sort of easy-to-understand correlative format — I don’t think you need statistics mavens as subjects, or even real data, to test the issue). Then provide another group with identical data interspersed with commentary on implication.

  15. damozel says:

    I appreciate your analysis, which I think gets right at the complexity at the heart of this and all hot button issues.

    I see tremendous defensiveness and anger on both sides of the political spectrum. I suppose that getting angry and trying to identify first causes gives people a sense of control. In reality, the event required whatever circumstances created Cho and the easy access of that particular individual to guns. I imagine that there is no one solution, but instead are a number of small measures that would cumulatively decrease the likelihood that this event could be repeated.

    I’m sure there is plenty of blame to go around, but—except for Cho himself—the people involved were all trying at any given time to make the best decisions they could based on the data they had.

    I imagine that name-calling across the great divide will merely defer the time when people can talk civilly enough to work out what IS possible. I wish people could distance themselves from their beliefs for long enough to see that the other’s are not based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts but on a different way of framing them. There seems little hope for us if we can’t get past the name-calling, finger-pointing approach to crisis management.

  16. Kirk Parker says:

    Peacemeal asks,

    as a school shooting — or a workplace shooting — ever been thwarted by an armed student or coworker?

    The answer is yes, frequently. For starters, google the UTA shooting way back in the ’60s and move on up from there.

  17. Jack Burton says:

    Americans not only prize different principles, they view the world as working in fundamentally different ways.

    Prof. Braman… It is my assertion that many of those on the gun-control side of the argument see the world in a way that is fundamentally flawed – in as much as they are basing the majority of their beliefs on information that is simply not true.

    For example, one of your fellow professors who apparently is a fellow of high repute wrote recently in his blog:

    But we need better laws. Bush at al let one of the tougher provisions of the gun laws lapse, and that contributed to the lunatic in Virginia getting in so many rounds.

    He simply didn’t know that magazines with that large of capacity were available all through the supposed AW ban. They could be legally bought and sold at any gun shop anytime in the past ten years. It made not a bit of difference in the Virginia shooting. Not one.

    This professor, writing about how we should repeal the Second Amendment, is basing at least some of his arguments on ignorance. How much more doesn’t he know about guns? What percentage of his supposed knowledge is really ignorance? Ten percent? Fifty percent?

    And he really doesn’t know much about guns, also.

    If I am in a room of 20 kids and shooting them one by one, what difference does it make to the kids if I have one magazine of 15 rounds that takes eight seconds to fire, or two magazines of ten rounds each that takes me a total of ten seconds to fire, reload, and fire till all 20 rounds are gone?

    I don’t mind debating about guns and gun control, but that all pervasive ignorance about the subject that people like the Good Prof. bring to the table gets depressing about the 50th time I have to explain these most basic things about guns and how they are used.

    If you really want to do the world a service on this topic then here’s what I would suggest. This will make you a household name amoung those on both sides of the fence, and it really won’t take much time and effort.

    Work with a few gun enthusiasts to come up with a basic 20 question test about how guns work and the laws that govern their use. Make sure your info is factual and correct (and pretty basic).

    For example, many, if not all, anti-gun people want to ban what they think are dreaded assault weapons so asking a few simple questions about them should be easy:

    For example:

    The .223 is the most used rifle round by the military around the world. This is also the most used round in the civilian versions of the military rifles. Question: This is one of the most powerful rifle rounds made and is a sure killer if it hits even the smallest part of the body. True or False.

    Since people who are demanding that what they call assault rifles should be banned are basing their arguments on something it makes sense to find out just how much (or little) they actually know about the subject, hmm?

    The same with handgun, guns in the hands of citizens, and guns in general.

    Give this test to a fair, representative sample of those on the gun control side and publish your results. Just how much of their arguments are based on false info? None? Five percent? Eighty percent?

    I personally think you’ll be shocked, shocked at the high number of factual ignorance you’ll find amoung the gun control crowd. I also think you’ll begin to understand the difficulty we have in communicating with them.

    I really, really do think your name will be anathema to them after you publish this info on your blog.

  18. Jack Burton says:

    Here’s a good example of what I am posting about. A journalist does a story on the evil, dreaded .50 caliber rifle that most, if not all, on the gun control side are demanding should be banned and she manages to get almost every detail wrong about the rifle and it’s capabilities. I believe even the “and” and “the” is wrong.

    With “Powerful Rifle” article, journalist shoots self in the foot

    And before someone claims that is “just the side of the gunhuggers” please note on the side the corrections the AP had to issue on the article..

    Is this willful ignorance? Willful lying to the readers?

    I don’t know. But I do know that everyone who read this original article now has a bunch of wrong info in their heads that they are going to use to make bad decisions with..

  19. Kirk Parker says:

    Peacemeal asks,

    as a school shooting — or a workplace shooting — ever been thwarted by an armed student or coworker?

    The answer is yes, frequently. For starters, google the UTA shooting way back in the ’60s and move on up from there.

  20. Donald Braman says:

    Jack,

    Your suspicion that people are willfully lying about the issues is precisely the symptom I am diagnosing.

    Think of it this way: If you were motivated to do so, you could find a list of embarrassing quotes about guns and gun control on both sides. It’s not the fact that people get things wrong that is so distressing, it’s that you can see their mistakes in the context of a worldview that seems clearly biased to you. They see the same thing when gun rights folks make mistakes. And it drives them crazy, too. That’s why arguing over the facts is so frenzied.

    Cheers, Don

  21. Jack Burton says:

    Think of it this way: If you were motivated to do so, you could find a list of embarrassing quotes about guns and gun control on both sides. It’s not the fact that people get things wrong that is so distressing, it’s that you can see their mistakes in the context of a worldview that seems clearly biased to you. They see the same thing when gun rights folks make mistakes. And it drives them crazy, too.

    Don… when it comes to a case of someone saying that there is no functional difference between a semi-auto and a full auto weapon I don’t think you’re going to catch too many gun enthusiasts doing it. That’s not an example of an “embarrassing quote” and the idea that you cannot tell the difference between that and a absolute no-doubt-about-it misstatement of fact gives me little hope in this dialogue that we are ever going to come to any middle ground.

    I can point you to hundreds of cases where everyone from Senators to journalists to gun control activists of all kinds make very elementary mistakes about guns. Please point out a comparable “fact” that hundreds of gun enthusiasts get wrong.

    Here’s a letter to the editor printed yesterday in the Chicago Tribune that makes six major mistakes of fact. (Fact, not opinion.)

    Massacres like the one at Virginia Tech will continue as long as our laws permit mentally unstable individuals {Mentally unstable people are forbidden to purchase guns as per Federal law going back to the sixties} to purchase automatic {Autos have been highly regulated since 1934, with anal exams, fingerprints, and an exorbitant tax added to the purchase from a very few special dealers.} or semi-automatic handguns with no background checks {Every person who purchases a handgun from a dealer gets a background check. In Virginia they even check the local records which is not mandated by Federal Law and is quite redundant since the Federal check already includes the local records}-in other words, as long as we have the NRA to underwrite the political campaigns of “leaders” like George W. Bush. Let’s not forget that it was his father who signed the bill banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons, {The assault weapons ban had no effect on automatic weapons since the laws of 1934 and 1984 were considered quite sufficient. It also did not ban “semi-autos” period. In did not ban so-called Assault Weapons either, since it was focused on the cosmetics of a few weapons. The cosmetics were changed and the gun manufactures/sellers were pushing the same guns out the door as fast as they came in. Not one single gun was ever not sold because of the AWB.} but it was the son who allowed that ban to expire. {No extension bill was ever sent from Congress to Mr. Bush who made it quite clear in his campaign that he would sign such a bill}

    Maybe it is a case that they are lying. Or very ignorant. Either way, I doubt that the Trib would have published a letter so filled with errors concerning whether or not the earth was flat and just how did the sun rise in the morning.

    Here’s one where there is no doubt.

    Tammy Duckworth was running for Rep. Hyde’s retired seat in Congress. Duckworth spent quite a bit of time in the Army and over in Iraq. She even lost both her legs in a horrifying incident over there, and for her service and bravery I salute her and she deserves the highest accolades.

    Yet, while running for office she was very fond of saying things like that she supported the Assault Weapon Ban because we don’t need these weapons of war over here. Keep them where they belong, on the battlefield.

    As a 25 year veteran myself of the military I can assure you that Duckworth knew positively that she was lying thru her teeth. There is no “assault rifle” made here in America for the civilian market that would ever see the battlefield. While they cosmetically look the same as what our soldiers carry in Iraq, internally they are as different as a NASCAR racer and my Dad’s Oldsmobile.

    Why did she lie? I don’t know. But I do know that everyone who heard and trusted her now believe that the same guns that are used in Iraq are available for sale here in America.

    How is that helping to come to a consensus when it is clearly wrong? Tens of thousands of citizens now have misstatements of fact in their heads in which to try to make important decisions concerning how safe will our country be.

    What was Duckworth’s responsibility for this?

    On another blog a few weeks ago after the D.C. Circuit Court opinion I pointed out that the story that ran in the Australia Age newspaper had two very clear misstatements of fact in it.

    The first was that during the Jumbo incident of a few weeks earlier he was speaking of fully automatic weapons (the same mistake over and over again – an absolute confusion between the two types of guns). The second was that the D.C. court was the first Appeals court to rule so about the Second Amendment being the rights of the “people.”

    Both were wrong and I gave the details as to why they were wrong. I doubt in this case that the journalist was lying or in willful error but I do believe that she was sloppy in her research.

    But… even though we were dealing not with statements of opinion (which can always be argued) but statements of historical fact which were only several weeks old, there were gun control supporters on the blog who were willing to view her misstatements as the Gospel. They would not even entertain the concept that an article in favor of gun control would contain an error.

    Again, this was not an “embarrassing statement” but items that were clearly wrong.

    How is that helping to come to a consensus? What was the journalist’s responsibility for this?

    We can argue all day long about whether or not Dr. Kellermann’s study about 43 people a day dying from guns is bogus or not or whether or not CCW helps or hurts a state but that is not the kind “facts” that I am speaking of.

    Again, it is my contention that the average person in favor of banning or severely controlling guns has as their base a knowledge of guns that is fundamentally wrong.

    If I go into a gunshop and walk out with a handgun am I walking out with an automatic or semi-automatic weapon? That is a simple matter of fact.

    Semi-automatic handguns have been around in the hands of civilians since about the Civil War. That is a simple matter of fact.

    During the AWB the average citizen could buy all the “hi-capacity” magazines he wanted via gunshops, the internet, and the back pages of magazines. That is a simple matter of fact.

    Yet, how many of the gun controllers are making their decisions off from not knowing the truth of these facts? These are the very arguments they use in favor of banning or controlling guns, yet they simply don’t know that they are wrong.

    This isn’t about “embarrassing statements” and I’m rather embarrassed that you even brought up that concept. Stephan Hawkins may indeed make embarrassing statements about many subjects, but I don’t think he’s going to make any about cosmology. A flat-earther may indeed make embarrassing statements about many subjects but to compare his statements on cosmology as just “embarrassing, you know, the same kind as Hawkins makes” shows a profound unwillingness to confront the actual issue.

    The pro-gun control side has very little actual knowledge about either guns or the laws we live under. And their ignorance is driving their passions. And it’s so simple for you to prove this.

  22. Jack Burton says:

    Larry O’Donnell is quite a spokesman for a variety of liberal causes. Give him a TV camera and he’ll knock over his grandmother in order to get in front of it.

    And he is further evidence of my contention that the gun control advocates actually know very little about guns but are willing to control them anyway, or are willfully lying to the public about guns.

    See for yourself…

    These are not “embarassing statements.” These are statements of fact that he got absolutely 100 percent wrong but he used them anyway to present his arguments about controlling guns.

  23. Jack Burton says:

    has a school shooting — or a workplace shooting — ever been thwarted by an armed student or coworker?

    Here’s a good article on that very subject…

    When mass killers meet armed resistance.

  24. Donald Braman says:

    Jack,

    If you want to see the kind of back and forth I’m talking about, just have a look at the debate between John Lott, Tim Lambert, et al.

    I don’t want to get into that kind of back and forth about factual claims here (indeed, the point of my post is that I think it’s counterproductive to do so in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings). But feel free to email me & let’s talk more.

    Cheers, Don

  25. Jack Burton says:

    If you want to see the kind of back and forth I’m talking about, just have a look at the debate between John Lott, Tim Lambert, et al.

    Again, you’re mistating my contention. Lott, et al do studies that feature statistics that can be argued about endlessly. Studies, research, and statistics are like that. They are, as you said, claims. Others can have counter-claims.

    This is not hard.

    If a leading gun control advocate stands up on national TV and says “The AWB kept people from getting high capacity magazines” this is either right or wrong.

    This is not a study. This is not a statistic. This is a statement of fact.

    Is this fact right or wrong? Did “The AWB kept people from getting high capacity magazines.”?

    If it’s wrong is it a one time occurance, or is it symptomatic of a reoccuring problem with those who are in favor of gun control? If it is a reoccuring problem then how does that affect the dialouge between those who do state the same mistaken facts over and over and those who know the truth of those facts?

    It is hard to understand why you are kicking out so hard against this simple question. First you want to talk about “embarrassing statements” and then you change the subject to studies even though I had specifically mentioned that was exactly what I was not posting about.

    I have given you multiple examples of where professors, politicians, amateurs, and professional spokespeople have given a number of wrong facts to the public about guns and gun laws.

    Not wrong opinions. Not what I would consider wrongly based studies.

    Wrong facts.

    You will not face this or accept it. In multiple posts you simply refuse to acknowledge the chronic problem the gun control movement has but instead keep throwing off chaff like a jet fighter trying to dodge a missle.

    It makes one wonder.

  26. Donald Braman says:

    Hi Jack,

    You’re right that I’m not taking up your argument and that I’m trying to redirect you back to my argument. But that’s appropriate given that the topic of the post is my argument, no? I’m not trying to pick a new fight – one good one is plenty for me! So let me try again.

    My point is this: The consequentialist debate over whether guns, on balance, hurt or harm derives from differing cultural perspectives. I refer to the statistical arguments because they are central to the consequentialist debate and nicely illustrate the kind of anxiety and recrimination I describe.

    If you think I’m wrong on that count, by all means, have at me!

    Cheers, Don

  27. Jack Burton says:

    The Delco Times out of Pennsylvania has an editorial concerning the Virginia shootings.

    Paying the price for gun culture

    And, sure as breathing, right in the middle of an already muddled mass of musings we find:

    What is evident is that if Congress had not allowed the 1994 federal assault weapons ban to expire in 2004, Cho would have not been able to legally purchase a gun with a high-capacity magazine.

    Under the federal assault weapons ban, magazines were limited to 10 rounds.

    Again… this is not true. It is a 180 degree turn from the truth.

    Now… I’ve shown multiple sources from all types of gun control supporters who cannot get the basic facts right but use falsehoods to bolster their desire for more legislation.

    By now even the dullest person has to wonder about a couple of questions…

    Why are these falsehoods so consistent from person to person?

    Is there a single source for all these falsehoods?

    How is that affecting the crediblity of the gun control movement with those who know the truth?

    Can we quantify this to determine just how much about guns and gun laws the gun control movement has right and wrong?

  28. Jack Burton says:

    I’m trying to redirect you back to my argument.

    Okay… let’s go back to your original argument.

    Opposing parties come away from this sort of debate not just believing that their opponents prize different values (say autonomy, martial prowess and individual self-reliance v. collective responsibility, pacifism and reliance on the state for protection, for example), but that the other side is decidedly deluded or untrustworthy when it comes to the facts.

    But what if the other side is “deluded or untrustworthy when it comes to the facts.”

    Where does your fancy rhetoric take you then?

    How about when a would-be gun controller starts out a discussion with the statement, “If the AWB had not expired this young man would not have been able to get those high capacity magazines and his damage would have been very limited.”

    Where do I, as the other side of the dialogue, go from there? If I correct this statement before we go any further do I then trust that any further statements of his will be correct, or incorrect.

    And the less trustworthy or more deluded the opponents in this debate believe each other to be, the less willing they are to make even reasonable concessions for fear that if they give an inch, they’ll be taken for a mile.

    I think I’ve shown pretty clearly that a substantial number of both the gun controllers and the facts they present are wrong. So how much concessions should I give a person who is deluded?

    If an animal rights activist complains about how circuses mistreat unicorns would you compromise with his views about how they should also treat elephants.

    So how should we engage the gun debate? As Dan Kahan and I have argued, by preceding empirical claims with respect.

    I willing to do that. But what do I do with an outright falsehood, of which I have demonstrated quite well are common. Do I treat it with respect also. Do I ignore it? Do I correct it?

    I highly admire your desire to lesson the vituperative nature of much of the discussion. I have been on blogs and other discussions where the parties all wound up wishing the others were shot dead to learn some kind of lesson or another.

    It can get very nasty out there.

    But my central point remains. If, if, if, one side is basically wrong in its facts about which all sides are arguing, then your central point is moot and invalid. You cannot have a reasonable discussion with a reasonable compromise when one side is presenting a bogus argument.

    I’ve demonstrated quite well that a substantial number of those people are indeed quite wrong about some of those facts that make up their arguments.

    If this is chronic and widespread then this means that you actually have no central point to get back to.

    So if you want to continue presenting your central point as valid then you need to shore up the foundation first and quit making the assumption that both sides are presenting an argument that should be shown respect.

    I think that I have at least made a substantial chink in that assumption.

  29. Donald Braman says:

    Hi Jack,

    We’ll just have to disagree about what my central point is.

    Cheers, Don

  30. Jack Burton says:

    Tough to admit that some, and perhaps much, of what the gun control crowd put out is bogus info, eh? :-)

    Well, when you can explain to the world why the gun enthusiast community should participate in a “cease fire” with the gun banners when we know that their arguments are based on bogus facts then you’ll have some credibility on the issue of a cease fire.

    Until then, I’m keeping my powder dry.

  31. Safety Neal says:

    The irony here is staggering.

    Thanks for the insightful post, Mr. Braman.

  32. Donald Braman says:

    Hi Jack,

    If you try to start a conversation with the assertion: “Gun control advocates put out bogus information, and gun rights advocates are always correct,” you’ll certainly find a fight somewhere (even if it’s not here). The zealots out there will be all to happy to argue until the cows come home.

    There are those who think that anyone who owns or uses a gun is unworthy of respect, just as there are those out there who think anyone who supports any kind of regulation is undeserving of respect. But these people, I submit, are a very small minority of Americans. They just happen to dominate the discussion (they are, as you note in your post, quite aggressive). You don’t see the ordinary, respectful, reasonable Americans on TV, or hear the discussions they have with one another, and that’s a shame.

    I want to help foster debate at the reasonable center, among people who don’t automatically assume that guns and gun owners are inherently evil, and those who don’t automatically assume that all regulation of firearms is automatically evil. That group of people turns out to be a silent but massive majority. And within that group, if the conversation is prefaced with respect, we stand a much better chance of coming to an accurate understanding of the varied, complex, and often unintended outcomes of various regulations.

    Maybe you’ve been pushed out of that group by the bias you see among the radicals in the gun control camp. If so, that’s understandable – indeed it’s precisely what my post is about. I want to make sure the door is always open for people who feel that way to rejoin the respectful and reasonable dialog with the non-zealots. That dialog usually starts not with factual argument, but with stories about the roles, both good and bad, firearms have played in people’s lives.

    Cheers, Don

  33. Jack Burton says:

    If you try to start a conversation with the assertion: “Gun control advocates put out bogus information, and gun rights advocates are always correct,” you’ll certainly find a fight somewhere (even if it’s not here). The zealots out there will be all to happy to argue until the cows come home.

    And when the zealots tell me that the AWB kept people from buying high capacity magazines for their guns I’ll just show them what the law says and greet the cows. When they tell me that a Glock 17 fires all of its bullets with one pull of the trigger I’ll give them a Glock 17 and ask them to try it. Miracles might happen.

    I never said that gun rights advocates are “always” correct. But if you want factual information on specifically how NASCAR car engines are tuned for a race to maximize the chances of winning do you think you’ll get more factual info from a NASCAR mechanic or from the local Al Gore supporter?

    I showed you quite well where “gun control advocates” do “put out bogus information.” There can be no doubt about it.

    How much bogus info do they put out? Well, that is the very question I think we should be interested in finding out.

    There are those who think that anyone who owns or uses a gun is unworthy of respect, just as there are those out there who think anyone who supports any kind of regulation is undeserving of respect.

    All of which sounds upsetting but has absolutely nothing to do with the concept that we are speaking of which side promotes factual information and which side doesn’t.

    Facts are not a respecter of persons (or sides).

    Can a person walk into a gun store and buy a handgun without a background check? The correct answer to that question has no regard as to which side asked it or whether or not they were respected.

    But if 98 percent of the gun enthusiasts get it correct, and 60 percent of the gun controllers get it wrong, what does that tell you about the people who are arguing pro and con for increased background checks.

    Can a Glock handgun be carried through a metal detector and not be spotted? The correct answer to that question has no regard as to which side asked it or whether or not they were respected.

    But if 98 percent of the gun enthusiasts get it correct, and 60 percent of the gun controllers get it wrong, what does that tell you about the people who are arguing pro and con for increased controls on Glocks.

    But these people, I submit, are a very small minority of Americans. They just happen to dominate the discussion (they are, as you note in your post, quite aggressive). You don’t see the ordinary, respectful, reasonable Americans on TV, or hear the discussions they have with one another, and that’s a shame.

    Ordinary, respectful, and reasonable doesn’t, and never has, equaled knowledgeable. And what would lead you to believe that I don’t have conversations with folk just like that every day? And yet from them I hear the same mistakes that I hear from the TV talking heads, and journalists, and college professors, and politicians.

    I want to help foster debate at the reasonable center, among people who don’t automatically assume that guns and gun owners are inherently evil, and those who don’t automatically assume that all regulation of firearms is automatically evil.

    Facts don’t recognize the concept of evil or good. Facts are.

    And how well can you foster this debate if a substantial portion of the “reasonable center” is operating from a wrong dataset of facts?

    Special bullets were created with Teflon to turn them into “cop killer bullets.” Yes or no. If 60 percent of your “reasonable center” believes the answer is yes then how you turn this weak foundation into a strong center that can have a “reasonable” discussion about regulations?

    A handgun is so powerful that it will knock a man right off his feet and onto his back. Yes or no. If 60 percent of your “reasonable center” believes the answer is yes then how you turn this weak foundation into a strong center that can have a “reasonable” discussion about regulations?

    That group of people turns out to be a silent but massive majority. And within that group, if the conversation is prefaced with respect, we stand a much better chance of coming to an accurate understanding of the varied, complex, and often unintended outcomes of various regulations.

    Facts are not a respecter of persons (or groups). And if one side believes as a fact that the civilian AR15 rifle is the exact same rifle as the military M16 just because they look alike, and the other side knows that this is far from the truth, then how much chance do they have at coming to an “accurate understanding.”?

    Maybe you’ve been pushed out of that group by the bias you see among the radicals in the gun control camp.

    No… I don’t belong in the mushy middle by inclination. If my car is heading over the cliff at 70 mph, having someone tell me to slow down to 35 to solve the problem doesn’t interest me. If someone wants to ban 100 types of rifles, narrowing it down to 50 doesn’t interest me.

    I much prefer my Second Amendment the same as the First. Uncluttered by “regulation.”

    If so, that’s understandable – indeed it’s precisely what my post is about. I want to make sure the door is always open for people who feel that way to rejoin the respectful and reasonable dialog with the non-zealots.

    Gardening is my delight. Especially at this time of the year when I look over the bare ground and see where everything is going to be. I have to force myself to eat a store bought tomato because I can already taste that homegrown one, still hot from the summer sun and dripping down my chin.

    Gardeners are passionate people. With strong opinions about most everything to do with gardening. Get five gardeners together and you’ll have eight disagreements about when to plant, the best variety, the best compost, the best way to water, the best fertilizer, and the best time to pick the produce.

    But you will never see a gardener confuse a tomato with a pepper plant. Or call a bean anything but a bean. And that’s why I can get together at meetings and have great arguments all night long with my friends and take a drink afterwards.

    We know the other person is probably as knowledgeable as we are… if not more so. And that we can respect. And be reasonable with.

    That dialog usually starts not with factual argument, but with stories about the roles, both good and bad, firearms have played in people’s lives.

    Perhaps you should keep a close eye on this site:

    Clayton Cramer

    I am a firm believer in the power of stories to sell a product. There’s a problem with this though. Many, many people who have used a firearm to protect themselves will never tell about it, especially in a public forum.

    Using a gun to save yourself, even though one is completely in the right, may send you to jail for quite a while. Admitting to using a gun to save yourself, even though one is in the right, when it was in an illegal place to use or own a gun can send you to jail for a while.

    Notwithstanding that, I will leave you with my story. I’ve used it to change more than one mind over the years concerning the concept of “having a gun.”

    As you may be aware, Indiana is one of the almost 40 states where citizens can exercise their right to bear arms on a daily basis. I am one of the 350,000 Hoosiers who chose to do so.

    A little while back, my work took me into Gary, which has been the murder capitol of the U.S. for several of the past ten years.

    I parked my van in the church parking lot where my business was, and having locked the door behind me, went to meet the pastor. After the meeting I headed back to the van.

    When I was about 100 feet from the van, I noticed two young, urban youths coming down the other side of the street. They saw me at the same time. They immediately wheeled in my direction and, after diagonally crossing the street, started walking towards me. Any instructor of self-defense techniques will tell you that is a clear and present danger signal.

    I managed to make it back to the van, while listening to them the whole time trash-talking about how they were the baddest ones in the ‘hood and they didn’t take no crap from no one. They were catching up to me pretty fast.

    The driver door was on the other side of the van, away from the street, and I understood that I would have to have my back turned to them as I was trying to unlock the door. Not only would any action they took be blocked from any passerby, but it put me in a highly vulnerable position.

    Now, it’s easy to say that I should not have put myself in that position in the first place by going to Gary, but that only holds true if one is willing to redline the entire city.

    I must admit, I was quite concerned for my safety. I’m past middle-aged, slow, fat, and with a bum leg. I’ve lost 50 percent of the strength in my hands and arms from a herniated neck disc. Facing down two urban youths was not what I wanted to do when I woke up that morning, ready to greet the day. However, that was exactly what I had to do, because no more than a second or two after I reached the driver’s door the two came around the back side of my van and began approaching me.

    Because I have a mature understanding about guns I am able to finish the story. As I rounded the back of the van myself, I put my hand into my front pocket and wrapped it around my legally carried handgun. When I reached the locked driver’s door, I turned and put my back to the door, and faced outward, keeping my hand in the pocket. I had the confidence that if needed, I was going to be able to defend myself, and quite possibly, my life.

    This must have showed on my face. The youths came around the back of the van and saw me calmly standing there waiting for them. I didn’t say anything, and I didn’t pull the gun – but my attitude certainly said they needed to reconsider any very-near future actions they were contemplating.

    They were predators, and they understood this very well. Weak targets of opportunity are eaten quickly, but those who give strong indications that they’ll bite back are left alone. They backed away, turned, and headed across the lot to places unknown.

    According to the desires of gun control advocates I should have been forced to somehow run instead of facing down these two thugs. Got that? If I am minding my own business and am assaulted or threatened by a violent criminal the gun control crowd wants the onus to be on me to flee, retreat, submit, or even die — anything EXCEPT stand my ground with a firearm.

    How morally and intellectually backwards can these folks be to adopt such an indefensible position? The duty and perfect right of a law-abiding citizen is to defend themselves with deadly force if need be against criminals. That is the essence of the disagreement between the opposing sides on gun control.

  34. Melanie Morrissey says:

    Donald Braman’s ignorance is staggering. Is it inculcated or willful?