Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Come ooon! Jump in the fire!

Sorry, that's the only title I could really think of for this...
Over at Bob S.'s place, there's been some discussion about the trollings of one MikeB302000 (No link, just google it.) who seems to be good at purely emotional argument. In this post Bob pretty much sums the whole thing up. Money grafs:

We've provided evidence from the CDC showing that firearm fatalities are declining. We've provided evidence that some countries with strict gun control laws have higher firearm homicide and crime rates while some countries with lax gun control laws have lower crime rates. In other words, no evidence that strict gun control laws work.
We've provided evidence showing that there are other factors -- social, cultural, economic, educational-- that affect crime rates more then firearm availability.
We've provided evidence showing that firearms save lives.
Over and over again, we've provided proof, sound proof that our right to keep and bear arms should not be infringed. And what does MikeB provide to back up his opinion? Quotes & sound bites from the Violence Policy Center and the Brady Campaign. Slanted stories from the left stream media.

Discussion ensues in the comments. MikeB says something about "gun availability" being a problem, thereby demonstrating his ignorance of the history of firearms laws in this country. And I guess I could explain that one for those of you who might not know much about said history. Now's a good of a time as ever, I guess, to pull out a letter that I sent to the Houston Chronicle not long ago but never got published. It reads as follows:

Those who decry what they cite as the "easy availability of guns" in this country need to bone up on the history of American firearms law. The fact is, getting one's hands on a gun in the United States is more difficult now than it has ever been.
Once upon a time in the United States -- that is, before the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Brady Law in 1993 -- a citizen could purchase a gun, almost any gun he or she could afford, directly through the mail. The citizen could do this without going through a federally licensed dealer and with no background check whatsoever. Were it not for certain high-profile incidents in the 1960s and the federal government's being nervous about the civil rights movement it's likely we would still be able to do this. (Indeed, according to journalist Robert Sherrill, GCA '68 was "passed not to control guns but to control Blacks.") Before the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934, a citizen of the United States could acquire a machine gun without having to register it with the federal government. We could buy brand-new machine guns until the passage of the Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986, which (via the Hughes Amendment) outlawed the acquisition of any fully-automatic weapons not registered after May 19, 1986.
Yet before the passage of all these laws, if my study of history is any indication, this country wasn't exactly awash in the blood of innocents. Perhaps the guns (and the supposed "easy availability" of them) aren't the problem?

Mike B's response to that: "Some of our other societal and cultural problems are so acute now that we can't stand the level of access to guns we have now, even if it is less than before."
So he's saying that those of us who don't do bad things with guns should in effect be penalized for those that do commit crimes with guns. My response to that was here, to which there was no response by MikeB. I also had this to say:
"If the availability of guns is a problem, that would imply that people are getting them who should not be trusted with them. If these individuals are so dangerous that they allegedly can't be trusted with guns, then why are they not locked up tighter than Dick's hatband? Why are they still walking free? And why don't you and your ilk ever ask that question, hmmm? Why do you in effect put the "rights" of the criminals above the RIGHTS of the law-abiding?"
No response to that, either (are you detecting a pattern here?).
MikeB goes on to ask why we don't admit that our sources may not be beyond reproach, asking, "Don't you see the double standard you're always using by calling Helmke and Hemenway shills for the gun control crowd while all your sources are above reproach?"
Ok, here we go. It was not pointed out by any of us over at Bob's blog, but Paul Helmke and David Hemenway ARE shills for the gun control crowd. And that's about the closest thing to fact that there is. Were it not for Paul Helmke taking the position as head of The Organization Formerly Known As Handgun Control, practically no one outside the Indiana borders would have a clue who Paul Helmke was after he finished his tenure as mayor of Fort Wayne. And Hemenway's studies were at least partly funded by George Soros, whose advocacy of international gun control via his disbursal of funds to groups like the Joyce Foundation, Violence Policy Center and IANSA is quite well-known. Also, as Kleck and Gertz point out, " His closest and most frequent collaborator on gun-related research is Douglas Weil, currently Research Director of CPHV (Center to Prevent Handgun Violence -- ed.) while H has co-edited a strongly pro-control propaganda tract with Dennis A. Henigan, legal counsel to HCI and CPHV." As Jeff at Alphecca said some time ago, no conflict of interest there, huh? Funded and put together by those who have a vested interest in the issue.
Anyway, on we go, about the sources of those of us on the pro-gun side:
"Which of the sources we cite is not above reproach? I am well aware of the John Lott controversy, but the thing is, his findings have been replicated by several other studies — some of which were undertaken by people who set out to prove him wrong. If I remember correctly, Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck was one of those who set out to prove Lott wrong — instead, Kleck came out with a study that at least one of his fellow criminologists lauded as methodologically sound. And then we have the case of Duke professor Phillip Cook and Georgetown professor Jens Ludwig, who with a Clinton Justice Department grant undertook a study of their own as they along with the Clinton DoJ thought the Kleck DGU figure was too high...well, guess what? Their study produced about the same results as did Kleck's study, and in fact Cook and Ludwig conceded their methodology might have been too conservative and that Kleck's figure of 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year could very well be almost doubled, to 4.7 million defensive gun uses per year. Again, this was from researchers who got TAXPAYER MONEY to prove Kleck wrong."
I almost didn't think MikeB would respond, but of course he did, with some throwaway lines in which he cited Hemenway's book -- you know, the one whose research was funded by Mr. Soros and that I'd think Hemenway at least partially researched with someone who, again, has a vested interest in getting more gun control enacted. Can you say propaganda, ladies and gentlemen? I knew you could! And there was then this priceless line in response to my pointing out that Kleck's findings were replicated:
"The fact that he has other unscrupulous poll-takers who amazingly came up with the same results is of no more value than you guys on this comment thread supporting each other."
Whaaa? Unscrupulous? Pot callin' the kettle black there, considering the flaws of Hemenway's research. And if Cook & Ludwig were really being unscrupulous, one would think they'd have tried a little harder to come up with a figure lower than Kleck's, let alone one that could very well be 100 percent higher. Granted, an earlier study (referenced here, PDF ALERT) concluded there were only 82,000 DGUs per year. However, Kleck in his book Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control" argues the National Crime Victimization Survey used for that study, which is the only survey out of about 15 that found a DGU estimate under 700,000, was flawed due to the way the survey was conducted. Either way, at this point we're just arguing about numbers. Even if there are only 82,000 defensive gun uses per year in the U.S. that number still outstrips the about 12,000 homicides.
Of course, all of this is assuming the social utility arguments have any merit whatsoever. I happen to agree with L. Neil Smith, again, that the right to keep and bear arms isn't subject to any such arguments. Which means all these arguments really amount to nothing more than arguments about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But if they're there, and they're in our favor — which they have been proven to be, time and time again — I don't really see any problem in using them. As Codrea says, CUM ULLA SELLA IN PUGNO TABERNA. ;-)
And with no response from MikeB to certain things I said, it would seem that, like other gun control advocates, he doesn't have any problems whatsoever with dangerous criminals walking the streets as long as they allegedly can't get a gun, and that the population at large should be penalized for the mistakes of an exceedingly small segment of it. And he says nothing of the God-given right of self-defense and to the best tools available to effect that defense. What do you make of that?