Tag: Gun Control

The Anti-Gun Arguments Get Stupider

I’ve been pro-second amendment as long as I can remember. My dad owned guns. Most of the people I knew growing up either owned a gun or hunted. I try to engage the anti-gun arguments but I know I come at it from a bias: it didn’t occur to me until a relatively late age that there were people who wanted to rid our society of guns.

But as Americans continues to stock up on guns and gun violence continues to fall, the arguments of the anti-gun crowd are getting weaker and weaker. Samanatha Bee ran a bit on her show, demonstrating — to our supposed horror — that it’s easier to get a gun than to obtain a NRA mascot costume (although they didn’t actually buy any guns). Charles Cooke:

There are disagreements in politics. And then there is willful stupidity. This, alas, is an example of the latter. “Eddie the Eagle” is a private, trademarked, fictional character owned by an organization that is able to restrict his replication as much as it wishes. Firearms, by contrast, are constitutionally protected goods that cannot be denied to free people without good cause. Of course it is easier to get hold of one than the other. To buy a gun one needs to be of a certain age and to be without a criminal record; to obtain an “Eddie the Eagle” costume one needs to meet whatever conditions the character’s owners have imposed. One might as well ask why it is easier for a person to buy a machete than to take Jennifer Lawrence out for dinner. “But one is nicer than the other; surely that counts for something?!”

You can imagine, of course, how the Left Wing idiots praising Bee’s skit would react if Glenn Beck showed it was easier to get an abortion than to adopt a child. Some things are harder to do than others. This does not convey any kind of social commentary.

It is notable that when Bee finally compares like with like — that is, when both of the products within her comparison are available on the open market — she has to resort to debunked lies. “It turned out the organization that makes it easier to get a gun than Sudafed . . .” Bee claims at one point. This is false. In truth, both guns and Sudafed are regulated in all 50 states when they are purchased from a professional dealer. Moreover, as anybody who has bought both knows, it is infinitely easier to buy Sudafed from a pharmacy than to buy a gun from a dealer, and easier, too, to buy Sudafed from a secondary seller than it is to buy a gun privately.

I haven’t watched Bee’s show because I don’t watch much TV. I liked her on The Daily Show but the clips that show up in my social media are of a piece with this: condescending, incorrect and more smarmy than they are insightful. And liberals seem to love it. She had a recent bit responding to Rubio’s comment that some Democrats support abortion up until birth, saying, “Removing the baby on the due date isn’t an abortion, it’s a cesarean.” No, it isn’t.

The diaspora of Daily Show correspondents has been a mixed bag. John Oliver’s show is pretty good (and tackles issues that are in the libertarian wheelhouse, like asset forfeiture). Colbert’s show is OK. Whitmore’s show is OK at times. Bee’s show, from what little I’ve seen, mainly appeals to liberals who want more sass than fact. The Daily Show itself is struggling. Trevor Noah isn’t a bad host but he lacks Stuarts’ skill in making both sides laugh.

Well … it could be worse. We could be seeing this bullshit from a “real” news organization.

Update: A lot of the anti-gun foolishness these days is a result of desperation. The gun grabbers have lost the argument and keep losing it. Every time someone is hot, they try to milk the tragedy for more gun laws and it simply doesn’t happen.

How desperate are they? Well, the Brady Campaign has gotten shooting Alice in Wonderland in the face desperate.

Update: Oh. Guns are now racist as well.

No, You Can’t Sue

Hillary Clinton, feeling the heat of Bernie Sanders’ surging campaign, has decided to go after him for his support for the limited legal immunity given to gun owners. This attack became particularly sharp after Sanders gave an interview in which he said the families of the Sandy Hook victims should not be able to sue the gun manufacturers for damages, a statement that prompted this hysterical reaction from the New York Daily News:

LGF2440

However, this is one issue where Bernie is absolutely right and Clinton is absolutely wrong.

The liability protections for gun companies were created in the mid-2000s. The reason it was created was because Democrats like Richard Daley and Andrew Cuomo were trying to use the Courts to bypass the legislatures. They were filing massive suits against gun manufacturers to hold them liable for the cost of people getting shot. Such lawsuits have no basis in common law or American legal tradition. You can sue people for making defective products or breaking the law (or lying about their products as the cigarette companies did). But you can’t sue someone who makes a perfectly legal product because you don’t like what people do with it. This would be like suing airplane manufacturers over 9/11. Or suing Apple because someone wrote something libelous on a Mac.

Walter Olson:

PLCAA codified the common-law principles that have long applied in tort claims following shootings: if an otherwise lawful firearm has performed as it was designed and intended to do, its maker and seller are not liable for its misuse. (Exceptions permit liability in some situations where, e.g., a defendant has broken regulations or knowingly sold to a buyer intent on harm.) In other words, Congress acted specifically to preserve the law’s traditional handling of gun liability as against activists’ efforts to develop novel legal doctrine.

A good way of visualizing it was posted by Harley on Facebook earlier this week:

12957593_1162794513732785_6211668944986006261_o

While the lawsuits were bullshit and were mostly rejected by judges and juries, the hope was that either a) one jury would get stupid and open the door to multi-billion dollar suits; or b) the pressure of being sued by governments with effectively unlimited legal resources would force gun companies to make changes to their guns or sales procedures. In fact, this is exactly what happened in 2000, when Bill Clinton coerced Smith and Wesson into adopting more restrictive sales procedures. That’s what’s really going on here: having failed to get gun control through Congress, the gun grabbers want to use the threat of lawsuits to enact gun control through the back door.

And that’s why Congress was absolutely right to put a stop to it. Because allowing anyone to bypass Congress and legislate through the courts is an invitation to disaster. Once you’ve opened that door, there’s nothing to stop interest groups from using it to do whatever the hell they want. There’s nothing to stop President Cruz from effectively outlawing abortion by allowing thousands of wrongful death suits against abortion providers. There’s nothing to stop President Lieberman from enacting censorship on movies and video games by suing claiming it causes violence. When you’ve embraced the idea that companies can be sued for doing something legal because you don’t like it, the entire rule of law is upended. All that has to happen is for an industry to become unpopular and they can be crushed.

Hillary Clinton is not an idiot. She knows this. Any Democrat with two brain cells to rub together knows this. But the gun grabber hysteria on the Left is too strong right now for them to say, “Uh, no I favor gun control but we can’t upend the rule of law to do it.” This is effectively what Bernie Sander is saying. And for that, he’s being castigated by a gullible press and a desperate Presidential candidate.

Midweek Roundup

At a conference this week. Here’s a few stories I’m following:

  • North Korea claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb. Even the skeptics admit that whatever they’ve tested, if not technically an H-bomb, is massively more powerful than the bombs they’ve been testing before. So far, our “smart diplomacy” has yielded nothing with the Norks.
  • Reports are preliminary, but it appears that there was a wave of sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne, Germany, with the perpetrators being gangs of Arab and North African men. We have seen this sort of thing before, although not on this scale. I don’t oppose immigration. I do demand that immigrants observe our cultural norms, obey our laws and treat women with respect.
  • President Obama has announced some executive actions on gun control, mostly tightening background checks. Charles Cooke notes that the President is expending a lot of political capital for very little gain. The President, and the Democrats, continue to think that the country is screaming for gun control and that this will vault them to electoral success. They are deeply mistaken. Liberals, in echo chambers like Vox, are screaming for gun control. The country, generally is not.
  • Continuing on that, the President announced these moves in a tearful press conference. His emotions, however, are not important. What is important, as Ken White tells us, is how the President talks about rights, which is to say in the most disingenuous anti-freedom way imaginable.
  • Jamelle Bouie has a great piece where he argues that the Oregon standoff is not really about race. Our focus shouldn’t be on why police aren’t gunning down the Bundys. It should be on how to get the to show the same caution more often.

The No Fly Fraud, The Donald and the Death of Civil Liberties

In this corner, we present the Democratic Party. Fresh off of Obama’s lackluster Oval Office speech, they are pushing to ban people on the federal no-fly list from buying guns. Never mind that the list is arbitrary and secretive. Never mind that it’s difficult to find out why you’re on the list and almost impossible to get off of it. Never mind that there are several hundred thousand people on the list, including the odd PhD Candidate and the occasional 4-year old. Never mind that this would deprive people of a basic civil liberty without due process. Never mind that terrorists will simply get their guns illegally. There’s an election coming up. Time to sow some panic!

And in this corner, we have the Republican frontrunner. Fresh off making false claims that he saw video of thousands of American Muslims celebrating 9/11, calling for Muslims to be registered and saying that some mosques should be closed, today he said that we should just stop letting Muslims come into the country. He clarified later that this would include US citizens currently abroad although he didn’t clarify if this meant military personnel. In support of this, he cited a bunch of unscientific online polls from anti-Islamic groups. Never mind that we’ve had a total of 40 people killed on American soil by anything remotely Islamic in the last five years (against five million American Muslims and 70,000 total murders in that time). Never mind that it would be unconstitutional. Never mind that there would be no practical way to do it without forcing everyone to declare their religion to the government. Never mind that his campaign is drifting further and further into something that can only be called fascism. There’s panic to sow!

So one party wants to take away civil liberties based on secret lists. The other wants to bar people from the country based on their religion.

And people wonder why I vote libertarian.

The NYT Gets Hysterical

For the first time in 95 years, the New York Times has run a front page editorial. The subject? Guns and how we need to get rid of them. And it is a distillation of the moral panic we are having over guns right now.

The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

So many problems squeezed into one paragraph. First, it is not the job of elected leaders to “keep us safe”. Or at least, it’s not their only job. Their jobs is also to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. It’s also to exercise restraint when the public is hysterical and hence clamorous to be lead to safety by hobgoblins who dance in the blood of the slain. We responded hysterically to World War I with the Espionage and Sedition Acts (without a front page editorial from the NYT). We responded to Pearl Harbor with a hysterical internment (without a front page editorial from the NYT). We responded to 9/11 with a hysterical Patriot Act (without a front page editorial from the NYT). Must we respond hysterically now?

And the idea that politicians oppose gun control because of money and power from the firearms industry is disgusting. According to the NYT and their allies, gun control opponents are perfectly willing to countenance the slaughter of thousands if it means a few thousand dollars in their campaign war chest. And what about the tens of millions of Americans who oppose gun control? What about the conservative and libertarian writers who oppose gun control? And frankly, what about the NRA, which has millions of members and a higher approval rating than Hillary Clinton? Where’s our bribes?

As I said the other day:

Saying that your opponents are fine with killing is the reaction of an insane person, not “the paper of record”.

I’m tired of hearing this crap that the only reason we don’t get gun control is because of NRA bribes. It’s possible to oppose gun control on principal or because it is not popular with the American public or your particular constituency. Bernie Sanders, to his credit, tried to make this point in the Democratic debate. It basically ended his candidacy.

Today’s liberalism shares a heritage with yesterday’s communism. One of the principle things it has inherited is the belief that their ideas are intrinsically scientifically right and that if anyone opposes them, it is because they have been deluded by a shadowy conspiracy of counter-revolutionaries. For the commies, it was bourgeois. For the liberals, it’s the NRA.

We’re only two paragraphs in and the NYT already needs to get a damned grip.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection.

Now we get the distraction on assault weapons. Assault weapons are a tiny tiny portion of violence in the country. And “assault weapon” itself is mostly a marketing term used by gun manufacturers. There really is not much of a difference between a handgun and an “assault weapon”. In fact, most assault weapons are of lower caliber and lower power than a revolver or handgun. Even our government admits that the 90’s assault weapons ban — which mainly banned guns that looked scary — had no impact on gun violence.

The assault weapons ban is a touchstone for what the real issue is: a culture war. The gun grabbers don’t like assault weapons. Wanting to ban them is about signaling, not reducing violence.

And what’s the point? Is the point that these terrorists might have killed a few less people if they’d had rifles and handguns? Or restorted to bombs instead? Is that really what we’re talking about here?

After conceding that gun laws may not stop criminals, that the Constitutional challenges are formidable and that terrorists in France obtained weapons without a problem, they say this:

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.

You will never find a moral perfect statement of: “We must do something! This is something! Let’s do it!”

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

The “clear and effective way” last time was to go through a catalog and pick out weapons that looked scary. And note that last part: gun confiscation. Hanging out there all pink and naked.

I’ll close with a few bullet points that the NYT did not mention:

  • Gun violence is down. Way down. 50% off its 1993 peak. And if you’re not in an inner city war zone, violence is at level similar to countries that have way stricter gun control. Violence has fallen even faster than it did in Australia after they passed their restrictive gun laws in the wake of Port Arthur. During this dramatic drop in crime, millions of carry permits have been issued and about a hundred million guns purchased.
  • The problem of gun violence is primarily in inner cities, not among rural and suburban gun collectors. This is why assault weapons are such a tiny part of overall gun violence.
  • The contention that more guns equals more violence is only true if you cherry-pick. The contention that Connecticut’s gun laws massively reduced gun violence is only true if you cherry pick. The contention that mass shootings are way up is only true if you cherry pick. The contention that there have been 350 mass shootings this year is only true if you muddy the definition of mass shooting beyond all recognition. Both the CDC and the NRC conceded, in their studies, that the case that gun control will reduce violence is weak, at beast.
  • Given that, the contention that our politicians could unquestionably stop this violence by passing a law is ridiculous. I’m sorry. This is a matter of debate. This is a matter of disagreement. This is not a matter of just pressing the gun control button and having a less violent society emerge.
  • By phrasing it the way they do — as if it were not even debatable than gun control would massively reduce violence — the gun grabbers unwittingly reveal what this: a religion. They believe that gun control will work because they believe government can do anything if it just decides to. And the millions of Americans who oppose gun control are thus heretics.
  • The tale of gun violence is not told in mass shootings. It’s told in the every day violence in our inner cities and the suicides of many fellow Americans. But addressing that is much more complicated. It probably means ending the War on Drugs. It means addressing the cultural decay and the devaluation of human life. It means fixing our broken education, law enforcement and economic systems. Much easier to grab someone’s AK-47 and call it a day, I guess.
  • Did we mention that these were terrorists? Of all the incidents to pick to lose their minds over, the NYT picked this one.

Oh well. Sorry about the rant, but the NYT has basically distilled the hysteria of the last few days and I needed to vent and put all the responses in one place. I hate having to do this every time some maniac decides to kill. You can read a cooler reactions from Jonah Goldberg or Reason or check out the Twitter feed of the indispensable Charles Cooke for more. I’m sure Hot Air and others will have a reply up soon.

One closing thought. The NYT’s front page editorial (and the NY Daily News increasingly deranged covers) are a sign of a movement that is angry because they are not convincing anyone. Every time a tragedy happens, they leap to the microphones, computers and desks to say that now is the time to enact “sensible” gun control and the American public … ignores them.

So is the final straw? Is this the moment when American will “turn their back on gun violence” and repudiate the NRA and finally enact the gun control the liberals wants?

Well, the last time the NYT ran a front page editorial was to lament that nomination of Warren Harding for President.

He won the election by one of the biggest popular vote margins in American history.

Another Gun Control Failure

About fifteen years ago, a couple of states decided to try a program in ballistic fingerprinting. The idea was that, whenever a gun was sold, it would be fired and a casing would be kept of its ballistic fingerprint. Then, when that gun was used in a crime, police could use the ballistic fingerprint to find the perpetrator.

At the time, it was very obvious this program was going to be an expensive failure. Apart from the challenge of creating a usable database, it was fundamentally flawed. Because ballistics isn’t that precise a science. Ballistic “fingerprints” change. Ballistic fingerprint can be altered. Even if you could identify to whom a gun was sold, that doesn’t help you if the gun was stolen or sold to another party. It doesn’t prove they used it to commit a crime. And … as always … this was yet another gun control measure that punished the law abiding. According to the FBI, only about 15% of guns used to commit a crime were purchased legally. The vast majority are obtained from friends, family members or illegally. So people legally buying guns in stores had to go through this rigamarole while criminals didn’t.

You know … sometimes I hate being right all the time:

For gun control advocates, it sure sounded like a great idea. Why not force gun purchasers to fire a round at the police station so that the ballistic “fingerprint” of the firearm could be catalogued? That way, police could find the perpetrator every time a gun was used in a crime. What could go wrong?

Plenty, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox. Fifteen years, millions of dollars, and 340,000 shell casings later, Maryland decided last week to scrap the system … after failing to solve one single crime in its existence.

What lessons are we to learn here? Perhaps the first lesson is that no idea is so nonsensical that it can’t be turned into a government program, especially when the topic is gun control. Even now, some of the program’s defenders insist that it takes 15 years for this kind of project to ripen because guns tend to get stolen and used in crimes long after their initial sale. However, even if that’s true, then the ballistic fingerprints will get investigators nowhere except to find the victim of a prior robbery. It still won’t solve the extant crime. Meanwhile, Maryland will bury itself in used shell casings and pay for storage and personnel in order to solve no crimes at all. Those resources would be put to much better use if they funded more investigators rather than more bureaucrats and stock clerks. Those are the priorities that matter in law enforcement, but appear to matter less to politicians looking for headlines to assuage gun-control advocates.

(That’s from Ed Morrissey. Be sure to click through to a great column from Glenn Reynolds about how gun control primary targets minorities, convicting them not of crimes against their fellow humans but of breaking arbitrary government rules.)

This was never going to work. Anyone who knew anything about guns knew this was never going to work. Even if it had been run perfectly and created an extremely efficient system for ballistic fingerprinting, it would never have worked. It would never have worked because guns don’t work that way.

Thursday Roundup

A few stories that have been cluttering my tabs:

One subject that came up at the debate was the support Bernie Sanders (and, in fact, most Democrats) gave to a bill that immunized gun manufacturers from lawsuits. You can check out Walter Olson and David Freddoso on why this law was absolute necessary and correct. The law does not protect them from being sued if they produce defective products or break the law. What it protects them from is the “legislation through litigation” tactics Democrats were using to bypass the political process. The idea was that, unable to get what they wanted through the legislature, they would sue and sue and sue and sue the gun makers until the gun makers capitulated to Democratic demands.

There are a lot of Democrats who think that politicians with unlimited resources suing businesses into compliance with their demands is legitimate. A friend described this as “business and government working together for the common good”. I ask them to imagine how they’d react if Republican Governor’s started suing abortion clinics.



Two investigators have determined that the shooting of Tamir Rice was justified. Leon Neyfakh walks through the logic that is being in these analyses, which basically ignore any of the circumstances and require juries to engage in what Ta-Nehisi calls “an act of telepathy” to judge the officer’s thoughts in that moment. Basically, you’re supposed to ignore the decision to roll up right next to him in a car and jump out waving a gun. You’re supposed to ignore that they left him bleeding to death for many minutes. All you’re supposed to consider is what they thought in the precise moment they pulled the trigger. Under that logic, it’s hard to think of a situation where a shooting wouldn’t be justified.

Keep in mind, ordinary citizens are not usually given this benefit of a doubt. If you wake up to find someone smashing down your door and fire a gun, you can be be prosecuted for attempted murder.

Also keep in mind that these were both prosecution-picked experts who have a history of deferring to law enforcement on these matters. Kimberly Crawford is a name that should ring some bells. She was the investigator who concluded that the sniper shot that killed Vicki Weaver — an unarmed woman standing in the door of her own home carrying a 10-month old baby — was justified. That conclusion was so egregious even if the FBI rejected it. You don’t ask someone like Crawford their opinion unless you already have the answer in mind.



The worst answer Hillary Clinton gave the other night was about her enemies. Among those she listed were the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. But these are actually her biggest backers.

This is why I like Sanders better than Clinton. At least he’s an honest socialist. Clinton is a lying crony capitalist.



There is a quiet budget battle going on. As far as I can tell, the fight is between Republicans who want to increase spending and Democrats who want to increase spending.

For all the grief the sequester gets, it has cut our deficit to the lowest level, as a percent of GDP, since Clinton was in office. And I have yet to see the country descend into chaos and anarchy. I see no reason to end the sequester now.

Brown: Die, But Don’t Try

A couple of weeks ago, California governor Jerry Brown signed a “right to die” bill that gave Californians the right to get lethal drugs if they wish to end their life. I am mildly supportive of this. I think people have the right to their lives but am uncomfortable with doctors being involved in the process.

This week, Brown vetoed a bill that would have let terminal patients petition drug companies to use experimental or unproven medications. In vetoing it, Brown said that the FDA already allows compassionate use. But 24 states have over-ridden that process because the FDA is slow and cumbersome in its compassionate use. It doesn’t do a patient much good to get permission to use a drug is he’s dead by the time the approval is granted.

Wesley Smith says it perfectly:

Good grief: A “right to die,” but no “right to try and live.”

I honestly don’t what Brown is thinking. I’ve liked some of this recent vetoes, including one where he noted that the legislature was criminalizing things that were already illegal. But this one is mystifying.

(In other news, Brown also approved a law banning conceal carry from college campuses. This also makes no sense. Conceal carry holders, especially in California, are the model of what the Left claims they want: carefully vetted registered gun-owners who have a very low rate of criminal activity. I think the veto — and ongoing protests in Texas against conceal-carry on college campuses — reveals that carefully vetted licensed use of weapons is not what the Left really wants. The more this debate drags out, the more I think it’s a part of the Culture War: one side wants an America with a culture of guns; the other wants that culture abolished.)

Update: Orac makes the case against right to try laws. I’m finding his reasoning weak, paternalistic and motivate heavily by his distaste for the Goldwater Institute. But it’s the best reasoning I’ve seen so far.

The Method is Not the Message

Yes, another gun post. I have more stuff in the queue, I promise.

Vox and other liberal websites have been posting a chart from Tewksbury that shows that the amount of gun violence in a nation rises with the number of guns. If you look at their first chart, you’ll see a bit of a trend. But their second plot just shows countries with a very high Human Development Index and the trend becomes clear:

guns-and-death-rates

There is no deception going on here. The plot is accurate, to the extent that the data are. My problem, however, is the reasoning. Note what is being plotted: gun deaths. Not violent deaths, suicide or homicides … only those specifically with guns. But that begs the question: what is this actually telling us? Is it telling us that fewer guns would mean fewer deaths? Or does it just mean that fewer guns means more people dying by other means?

Vox clearly believes the former, having made the claim that if our levels of gun violence were the same as the UK’s, that would save 20,000 lives a year. But I’m dubious. In my previous debunking of some myths by Mother Jones, I noted that they did the same thing: plotted gun deaths against gun ownership state by state and claimed that more guns resulted in more deaths. But if you looked at total suicide and homicides, the picture was far murkier:

I can’t embed the graphic but when you look at the total violence rate from all methods of killing — using the same sources they link — the correlation is not nearly as strong (R^2 of .13) The trend is 0.10 for every percent. So eliminating ALL guns — even if you assume that there is no increase in criminality — would reduce the death rate to about 14.8 or basically as peaceful as Iowa with its 44% ownership rate and Rhode Island with its 13%.

Update: Eugene Volokh revisits the issue here and comes to the same conclusion.

Well, I can embed graphics here. So here is what you get if you plot up the rate of violent death against gun ownership for all the countries with a high Human Development Index (except Liechtenstein, Andorra and Hong Kong, for which I could not get complete data)

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.25.13 PM

Now you see my point. There is no correlation whatsoever between gun ownership and violent death. If anything, there is a slight anti-correlation (which is basically caused by a few Baltic countries having low gun ownership rates and astronomical suicide rates).

Suicide is the key here. The suicide rate in the developed world is six times the homicide rate. In the United States, twice as many people take their own lives with a gun as take someone else’s. And more honest gun control advocates will tell you that, even if gun control didn’t stop murders, it could prevent suicides. Suicide tends to be impulsive and guns are a much more lethal method than just about anything else.

But the number belie the assumption that more guns automatically mean more suicide. When looking at this data, it was blindingly obvious that there is no correlation, on a country-by-country basis, between suicide rate and gun ownership. No, the difference driving suicide rates is cultural. Lithuania and South Korea, for example, have minuscule rates of gun ownership and very high rates of suicide. Many Middle Eastern countries have high rates of gun ownership but extremely low rates of suicide. That’s not because Kuwaitis are practicing great gun safety and South Koreans are careless. That’s because South Koreans are massively more likely to kill themselves. The gripping hand is that 99.8% of the time, they use something other than a gun. So the plot favored by the gun control advocates literally ignores 99.8% of South Korea’s problem with violent death.

Does that seem reasonable to you?

(Homicide rates show a slight trend of increased rate with increased gun ownership. But it is extremely weak, with an R^2 of .007. That’s noise. My data do not include accidental deaths but those constitute a very small percentage of gun deaths, about 1.5% in the United States.)

I want to be very clear on this: my point is not that there is no correlation between the presence of guns and violent death. If we had fewer guns, maybe fewer people would kill themselves. If Japan had lots of guns, maybe their suicide rate would be even higher. I’m not addressing that. My point is that this specific talking point is irrelevant when it comes to gun control. Guns are not the biggest factor in violent death. Culture is the biggest factor and it’s not even close.1

And that brings me to my point. People keep asking me why the United States is such a violent place compared to say, Canada. Surely, they say, it must be because of our gun culture. I think they’re right about the second word. It is culture. We have a culture that glorifies violence. I don’t mean necessarily in video games or rap songs. I mean in real life. I mean in inner cities, where violence is ubiquitous and role models are non-existent. I mean on an institutional level, where two million people are in prison, 80,000 SWAT raids are launched very year, a thousand people are killed by police and God knows how many are roughed up. I mean on a commentary level where we are very casual about just how many people get killed in a war. I mean on every level. Every day. We act as though human life is cheap. And then we act all surprised when young mean act as though human life is cheap.

Guns and gun violence are a symptom. The disease is our culture. It’s a disease that’s getting better. As I’ve noted many times, violence is way down from it’s awful peak in the 90’s. There are brave people trying to bring sanity to the war zones in our inner cities. As I said in my Sandy Hook post, there are probably dozens of mass shootings prevented by a trouble man getting help. But the amount of violence in our society is still way too much. I think there is a lot we could do to help (better mental health services, more community-oriented policing, ending the War on Drugs). But grabbing guns would be very low on my list.

1. Here’s a thought experiment to illustrate this. Ask yourself this question: would you rather be locked in a room with ten unarmed convicted murderers or ten armed law-abiding NRA members?

Update: German Lopez graciously responded to my criticisms on Twitter. You can see the exchange here.

His substantive criticism is that there is a lot of academic research claiming this (some of which I’ve addressed before) and that if you look at only the 25 highest HDI countries, you see a clear trend of homicide rate with gun rate. The latter is true … mostly because of the United States. If you remove the US from the trend, it mostly disappears. So this amount to basically saying the US has a lot of guns and a lot of murders. That’s true enough.

Oregon Shooting

Yesterday, we had another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon. You know what happened next. Before we even knew how many people were dead, Barack Obama was giving an angry press conference, blasting Second Amendment advocates and calling for more gun control, whether or not it had any relevance to this incident. Liberals, predictably, loved it.

The blogosphere has filled with the usual array of anti-gun deceptions and distortions. So here’s a free guide to the facts:

  • Gun violence is way, way down, not up. We are at violence rates we have not seen since the 1950’s. This has happened without any significant gun control.
  • Mass shootings are not rising, not how matter how much people try to pretend they are. What’s changed is not the frequency of shootings; what’s changed is the instant politicization of it. Past Presidents did not address the media before the bodies were even cold to demand more gun control.
  • When Barack Obama says these events don’t happen in other countries, he is wrong.
  • When people say there have been masses of school shootings, they are wrong.
  • It’s Friday, so they are probably out there saying “all the studies” show that gun control works. This is not true. It’s totally not true.
  • By the weekend, they’ll be back to complaining that the NRA has blocked any research into guns. This is also not true. The study linked above was funded by the Bloomberg school. Only federal funds are blocked. And given the shenanigans the CDC and EPA have been up to with public health issues, I don’t think that’s completely unreasonable.
  • Australia will be dragged out as an example of what we should do. Keep in mind two things. First, after Australia banned guns, their rate of gun violence did come down. So did ours. Faster. Second, Australia took away millions of guns. When people cite Australia as an example, they’re not talking about background checks. They are talking about taking away millions of guns.

One last thing. I hate doing this. I hate that when there is a horrible tragedy, I have to take up my keyboard and answer this stuff. But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. The Left takes the floor to cry out for gun control — no matter what the facts on the ground — after every single tragedy. They know, on some level, that what they’re suggesting would have, at most, a minor effect. But they can’t resist it because gun control is basically a moot issue. It’s not happening. So they feel they must exploit every tragedy to try to crack the edifice of the Second Amendment.

It’s hard to blame them if they honestly believe that gun control works. But then it’s hard to blame us when we points out … that it doesn’t.

That’s all I’m going to say on this subject. I’d much rather mourn the dead. And praise the heroes.