Actually do something good

I almost never post about real life here on this blog, because I know people don’t come to a blog that is usually rando rants about videogames to hear about serious topics, but today is an exception for an important reason.

The amount of mass shootings in the USA is insane if you look at the statistics, yet you still have people argue that MORE guns is going to help the problem. Even more insane is the amount of people I’ve read who seriously list “being a militia against government tyranny” as a reason to own a gun. Because yes, your AR-15 is really going to turn the tide should the US Government decide to use drone strikes and F15s against you. Also everyone knows when you are out hunting, an extended mag is crucial to putting that deer down.

The Daily News, a NY city based paper, recently also put a cover out highlighting the hypocrisy of some politicians that tweeted out “Thoughts and Prayers” as their way of ‘doing something’ about this. A lot of people missed why this is hypocritical; these politicians CAN do something substantial about the issue rather than just blurt out (over freaking Twitter…) the easiest thing possible, but don’t because, in part, they are part of the problem and block guns laws from passing that would move the US towards more of a civilized nation that doesn’t have mass shootings as a weekly event.

On a smaller but equally important scale, there was news today on Massively that one of the people murdered in San Bernardino was an EVE player that had a wife and young daughter. Friends of the family set up a GoFundMe page, which as of this posting has collected 25k+ from over 600 people. It has also been shared 8.7k times. It would be nice if more of those 8.7k “thoughts and prayers” shares actually did something of substance (give money), wouldn’t it?

/end rant


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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64 Responses to Actually do something good

  1. Haffle says:

    It’s been crazy, watching the news about this from the other side of the world. But I totally agree – action over tweets, damn it.

  2. Dotcalm says:

    One of the best/most infuriating twitter feeds out there right now is who is cheerfully listing every politician that received money from the NRA and then tweeted “thoughts and prayers”.

    It’s depressing, but I’m glad someone is calling them on this bullshit.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I had seen his thing, but already had enough links in the post. More people need to actually put effort into spreading information rather than doing the minimum so they feel like they ‘made a difference’.

  3. Dinsdale Pirannha says:

    This is a post I made elsewhere, and will likely get banned for it (the portion about definition of terror was in reference to comments on that site, not your blog here):

    “Please define terror related. If by terror, you mean any mass shooting, then yes, this is definitely terror. If you are attaching some kind of religious overtone to this (and I see nothing to suggest that you are per se) then no, that has not been established.

    While this death is tragic, needless, and utterly stupid, and possibly preventable, , it has no more meaning than someone being hit by a drunk driver, or dying in a domestic assault, a mugging, or any number of ways where one human willfully takes the life of another.

    Eve has a currently paid subscriber population of anywhere between 100,000 – 200,000 unique subscribers as I understand it. The laws of large numbers indicate that every year, several Eve players die in some unnatural manner. Are their lives and deaths of any less value than this man’s?”

    As an addendum, there is no way the u.s will ever give up their guns. The political slant of their media, the power of the NRA, plus the significant percentage of flat out crazy people in and out of congress / senate ensure it will never happen.

    • SynCaine says:

      So because others die from other causes, never support anyone, including the family of someone murdered as is the case here? Is that what you are saying?

      • Whorhay says:

        Nope, he’s saying that given the large number of people playing Eve that there is likely a murder victim every year or so that is an Eve player. Murder is murder, one player being murdered is just as significant as another. That doesn’t mean that any murder is less tragic or undeserving of attention.

        • SynCaine says:

          I still don’t get what he is actually saying though related specifically to this post, and he seems to think its something incendiary since he mentioned the possibility of being banned.

          A lot of people play EVE, yup. Out of a large-enough group the odds of someone being murdered are higher than a small group, yup. What beyond stating those obvious points is he saying? If he had linked to another GoFundMe that was a similar situation but ignored, ok. Or if he gave some even remotely small solution, great. But again, unless I missed it, I didn’t see anything like that.

    • Yes, yet as human beings, we find the death of somebody we can identify with and know something about to hit closer to home. Taken to extremes, you are arguing that I shouldn’t have felt sad when my grandparents passed away because thousands of other people died for a variety of reason that same day.

      • Dinsdale Pirannha says:

        @ Wilhelm:

        That extreme of your grandparents does not make any sense, because you are close to them. Now, this unfortunate soul that was killed, the only reason you have some affinity to him is because he is a member of the Eve community. If that information had not been reported, would you have even remembered his name? Can you honestly remember the names of any of the other 14?

        Consider this: Pretend that the sub base of Eve is say, the entire population of Iceland (off by about 100,000, I think). Let’s say a citizen of Iceland is killed while abroad by a mugger. Now, granted, there is a chance that you know him directly, or you know someone that knows him. But would you honestly be posting about this if you did not know him directly?

        The community angst is based on how he died, not the fact that he died.

  4. It’s definitely beyond crazy. Even most NRA members will support more gun regulations related to obtaining them legally. But the leadership of the NRA and the lobbying of the gun manufacturing companies are just a wet blanket over the politicians. I’m glad they are calling them out on Twitter. I’m so tired of hearing about big business holding humanity back. It’s pretty much gotten to the point that nothing can be done in America until rich folks figure out how to unfairly profit from it first.

    • SynCaine says:

      Another sad line of reasoning I’ve seen is that the NRA and its supporters don’t want ANY gun laws passed not because they may or may not disagree with any one particular law, but because they think ANY law is just one step closer to the Government taking away everyone’s guns or putting gun owners on some FBI list they will use to raid/shoot you.

  5. Matt says:

    The point of a militia isn’t to beat a standing army in open combat. Standing armies have always been superior to militias. Even the American Revolution needed a quasi-standing army, as the militia couldn’t do much more than bleed the enemy in guerrilla warfare. What a militia aims to do is to make the prospect of subduing the populace so expensive and unpleasant that it becomes a net loss for the government. This doesn’t always work, but it does sometimes and is obviously a total non-starter if the citizenry isn’t allowed to have weapons.

    There’s likely a useful compromise here, but the lack of trust hampers any attempt to reach one.

    • Griddlebone says:

      You don’t seriously believe a rebellion in the US would ever a) be decisive, b) be successful or c) worth it, do you?

      I mean even if you do, it strikes me as absurd that you would accept all the insanity that comes with lax gun laws just because you live in such fear of your government as to regard armed rebellion as an acceptable check on its power.

      • Whorhay says:

        The USA is proof that A and B are true, and depending on your world view C. I wouldn’t advocate armed rebellion at this point, but it is insane to argue that it could never be justified.

        I’m not sure what insanity you’re referring to though when it comes to lax gun laws. Crime rates have been in decline for decades, if not centuries. We’re more aware of it today simply by virtue of improved communications and the news networks 24 hour news cycle.

        I’d like enforcement and proper use of existing gun laws before we heap on more of them. For instance, currently many states don’t fund/require reporting to the national databases that the Feds use for background checks.

      • adammtlx says:

        So in other words because you believe the military is too powerful don’t even bother preparing to fight back? Might as well give up now and just hope?

        • SynCaine says:

          Fight back against what? Because currently you have a better chance surviving the zombie apocalypse in your homemade bunker than you do in making a difference should the US army decide to come after you. But please explain the scenario where having a pistol or AR-15 to fight against the US military is a worthwhile trade-off to an outrageous number of gun-related murders compared to other countries?

        • adammtlx says:

          “Fight back against what? Because currently you have a better chance surviving the zombie apocalypse in your homemade bunker than you do in making a difference should the US army decide to come after you.”

          That’s not an answer to my question. Not only that, it speaks loudly about your unwillingness to honesty debate any alternatives to your viewpoints. Instead of addressing the question I’m actually asking, you immediately jump to two extreme scenarios (myself alone against the might of the US military), one of which is pure fantasy (zombie apocalypse).

          “But please explain the scenario where having a pistol or AR-15 to fight against the US military is a worthwhile trade-off to an outrageous number of gun-related murders compared to other countries?”

          Are you actually asking me to do moral mathematics? Or are you going to keep making simplistic comparisons between the US and countries with vastly different demographics, population sizes, cultures and political traditions?

          I’m not going down that road with you. It’s obvious what you’re after. You don’t want a discussion, you want to sermonize. Don’t let me stop you.

        • SynCaine says:

          Your question was whether it was better to give up guns (and, based on what we know when that happens in other parts of the world, reduce the gun-related murder rate) and ‘give up now and hope’ against the US military, to which the obvious answer is yes, 100%. I like my chances of survival a hell of a lot better being without a gun vs the military compared to the US being what it is today; the gun-murder capital of the 1st world.
          The fact that you call you and your pistol against the military an ‘extreme example’ goes with what I am saying, but I’m not the one who brought up the ludicrous idea civilians with some guns impacting the (completely theoretical and equally silly) notion of fighting against the government in some coup. You and every other ‘good guy with a gun’ grossly lose that fight whether you have an AR-15 or not, sorry.
          The road to go down is very simple; fewer guns = fewer gun-related murders. Or are you in the rambo ‘guy guys with guns will solve the problem’ camp?

        • adammtlx says:

          Great, you’ve now answered the question. You are willing to give up any legitimate hope you have of defending yourself against gun-wielding enemies (be they foreign or domestic) in that unlikely, worst-case scenario if it means fewer deaths on a day-to-day basis. In other words, you are hoping the math works out in your favor. I’m not making any judgments about that. It’s a perfectly reasonable stance to take.

          But I disagree with you that the opposing argument (the freedom and ability to counter threats large and small) is somehow unreasonable or irrational. It’s not at all, given human nature and recent history. I feel like you’re missing the point, anyway. It isn’t about winning a fight, it’s about discouraging one. Do you honestly believe a disarmed populace is no easier to subjugate than an armed one? Do you remember what happened in Vietnam? Somalia? Afghanistan? On paper, the US military would crush armed civilians but the logistics of such an operation are beyond nightmarish, especially in your own country, and guns are an insurance policy. They make even starting to go down such a road that much more unpalatable.

          The problem is gun control doesn’t work to prevent mass shootings or terrorism. You either ban guns outright and accept the possibility that you won’t be able to defend yourself if someone breaks into your house or attacks you or the government goes nuts, or you accept the fact that people are going to misuse guns and kill innocent people. That’s not to say we can’t reduce the frequency of such things, but they will always happen countries where guns are common (and sometimes in countries where they’re not).

          The fact that violent crime rates, including murder, have gone down year over year in the US for the past 20 years despite the increased proliferation of guns is also interesting.

          Anyway, I’m not taking a side here. I just tend to follow the numbers.

  6. Ulthor says:

    The best way to do nothing and still think you are helping.

  7. Tehol Bugg says:

    Stricter gun control laws won’t help. They need to be tightened up and actually enforced better but by and large they do not prevent gun violence. This tragic incident took place in California. The state with the toughest gun control laws in the country. It also still has the highest rate of gun violence in the country. Please note that aside from handguns, use of guns in murders is far lower than knives. Should we ban knives also?

    The only other high statistic is other firearms and this is almost on the same level. Murders in in all categories have been on a decline in the USA since 2010. Thanks to the media, tragic incidents like these are used to generate panic and make people believe we are on the verge of some crisis. The issue here is not the weapon, it is people. How do you prevent unsavoury and/or fucked up people from getting their hands on anything that can be used to hurt or kill others? Short of telepathy at point of purchase, arm everyone else.

    • SynCaine says:

      “Stricter gun control laws won’t help.”

      Except in all those countries that have stricter guns laws and far lower gun-related crimes? Is their media just NOT reporting all the mass-murders they have, while our media makes up the fact that we have an high amount of them?

      Using states/cities and laws as examples in the US is a non-starter; Chicago has very strict laws, drive one hour outside of the city and you can buy a gun at a trade show without a single check.

      The arm everyone else is such pure insanity it’s scary that it comes from the mind of an adult.

      • Tehol Bugg says:

        You just proved my point with this:
        “Using states/cities and laws as examples in the US is a non-starter; Chicago has very strict laws, drive one hour outside of the city and you can buy a gun at a trade show without a single check.”

        Stricter gun control laws will not change anything. Apply Chicago’s law to the whole country and they go to Mexico. If someone is that motivated to take a life or several, they will find a way. And have you conveniently forgotten the mass killings this year in France? Charlie Hebdo? the Paris supermarket? The Paris massacre last month? A country with far stricter gun control laws than the US and it still happens. Ignoring your childish rhetoric at the end, the simple fact is guns do not cause violence. People do. Take away the guns,the hydra will sprout a head somewhere else. If it is one thing humans can be sadly counted on for is their inventiveness when it comes to engaging in malicious and harmful activity.We need to understand the causes and treat with those. Guns are not a cause of violence. Thinking that is pure insanity as it removes any concept of personal responsibility from the equation and prevents any productive investigation into the real causes and long term solutions.

        • SynCaine says:

          Even if you include the recent terror events in Paris, the % rate for gun violence even in France isn’t what it is in the USA. Want to compare rates in the UK or Australia, or Germany to the US? Germany has borders with other countries right, so why aren’t those people crossing over, getting guns, and going on mass murder sprees at a rate like people in the US do?

          But keep repeating guns aren’t the cause of violence despite the rest of the world telling you otherwise, just like wackos keep repeating that climate change isn’t happening or that the earth was formed in 7 days a few thousand years go. Just because science/statistics prove otherwise, doesn’t mean you have to believe it, right?

  8. Matt Varnish says:

    If I recall, wasn;t there also an EVE player killed in the Benghazi thing a few years’ back?

  9. Eph says:

    “The amount of deaths from epidemics in Europe is insane if you look at the statistics, yet you still have people like Jenner and Pasteur argue that injecting MORE people with disease is going to help the problem.”

    It may be that both sides of the gun debate are right. Maybe the current level of gun saturation in American society is highly suboptimal: there are enough guns to pose high risks, but not enough to gain the benefits of deterrence. Removing enough guns will improve matters, and so, paradoxically, will adding enough guns.

    It’s like with diseases: you can either keep a sterile environment, or you can expose a sufficiently large part of the population to them through vaccinations and protect the rest through herd immunity. Going with half-measures will leave you with just enough carriers who pose a major threat to everyone around them.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yes, more guns so the ‘good guys’ can have an instant shootout with the ‘bad guys’ is exactly what would reduce this problem. No way two untrained sides spraying and ‘thoughts and praying’ could go wrong. Hell, its going to be great fun when the cops show up, the gunfight becomes a three-way no-respawn CS match, just with very realistic graphics.

      But again, lets ignore the rest of the world and their example, and see if RL CoD would work better in the US.

      • Eph says:

        “The rest of the world” is a pretty big place and it has more than one example. If we look at the UK and Afganistan, we get one trend; if we look at Switzerland and Russia, we’ll see a completely opposite pattern. And if we examine the big picture instead of cherrypicking datapoints, we might even come to the conclusion that selecting optimal gun control policy for a given territory is a highly complex challenge that depends many on economic, cultural, sociological, historical and political factors, and that cannot be reduced to “GUNS GUD” or “GUNS EVIL”.

        And no, arming more people does NOT mean “let’s have nonstop firefights 24/7 all day every day” – just like having a provision for incarceration for certain crimes does not mean “let’s imprison everybody forever”. The whole point of the principle of deterrence is based on the idea that, by communicating a threat of punishment, you disincentivize behavior that would cause you to carry out said punishment. If people know that they’ll go to prison, they’ll be less likely to commit a crime, so you won’t have to imprison as many. If people know that pulling a gun will get them shot by 50 guns in return, they’ll be less likely to do it, so there will be fewer shootouts – at least in theory.

        Does deterrence work? Sometimes, to an extent. Studies indicate that a notable percentage of the population only stays on the honest side of the law out of fear of being punished. On a macro level, the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine has, for all its flaws, prevented World War III from going hot (at least, so far). And even the craziest of maniacs prefer to shoot up schools and offices, not army bases or police stations.

        Does deterrence have costs and negative effects? Abso-fucking-lutely.

        Now let’s look at the worst case scenario, one when deterrence fails to work and we have an actual shootout on our hands. The question is “can adding more guns actually make things better in such a situation?”. Well, the reason why mass shootings by lone maniacs get so much media coverage and incite pro-gun propagandists to crawl out of the woodwork is that it’s pretty much the only scenario in which the answer can be a very tentative “yes”. In this extreme situation, there’s only one bad guy (who is already armed) versus dozens of good guys. Even as untrained and panicked as they are, the collateral damage they’ll undoubtedly inflict before he’s stopped is preferable to the alternative (letting him slaughter them all with impunity). And so every time the cry goes up: “Oh, if only they had guns! They would still be alive today!”

        Of course, this narrative conveniently neglects to mention that mass shootings are only one violent scenario out of many. If the ratio of good guys to bad guys evens out (or, worse, it’s unclear who is good and who is bad, then this logic ceases to work. When a domestic dispute becomes ugly, or a barroom brawl breaks out, or fans of different sports teams come to blows, you’ll find very few people saying “oh, if only they all had guns!”. In these cases, you might still get the benefits of deterrence if it works and the violence is prevented in the first place, but if it fails, the outcome is much worse. And, of course, regardless of whether it works, you still have to deal with the aforementioned costs and negative effects.

        And on top of all this, you have to deal with practical considerations. Policy makers/enforcers don’t have the option to go to the main menu and recreate US from scratch as a gun-free utopia. There’s already a shitload of guns out there, there are a lot of very diverse people who own said guns, and there a lot of powerful interest groups on all sides of the debate. Did I mention that it’s a highly complex mess? Because it is.

        (Oh, and for the record, my personal feelings on the subject are on the pro-control side – simply because guns make impulsive suicide so much easier. But that is a whole different story).

      • Jenks says:

        I’ve seen this argument a few times now and still don’t understand it. A shootout between a mass murderer and “good guys” is worse than a mass murderer executing people with no means to defend themselves? We’re worried about friendly fire, when getting on your knees and having a barrel pointed at your head is the alternative?

        This week we saw what happens in a state with ultra tight gun control laws. Earlier in the year, we saw what happens in the state with the most well armed citizens. I’ll take the latter every day of the week, thank you very much.

        • Mikrakov says:

          Here in Australia we don’t have any shootouts with mass murderers at all. I’ll take that every day of the week.

        • SynCaine says:

          Naw why reduce the rate of murders when a special interest group can sell gun nuts a fantasy of playing rambo?

          I mean sure, if that fantasy had anything behind it, one would think the country with by far the most guns and 3rd-world gun laws would have all those ‘good guys’ stopping all those murders, and we wouldn’t have the highest rate, but shhh, that interferes with rambo taking on F15s and drones!

        • Jenks says:

          “3rd-world gun laws”

          Uh, what

        • Jenks says:

          So much misinformation and passive aggressiveness

        • SynCaine says:

          In civilized countries the people have realized that the redcoats aren’t coming anymore, and they don’t need weapons designed to kill each other readily available and freely purchased at Walmart, so they passed laws that, surprise, caused a dramatic decrease in gun-related violence (jokes on them when though, those idiots won’t be able to form up into a militia and fight their government or zombies during the apocalypse, so ha!).

          A crazy and/or grossly misinformed minority in the US love to pretend the exact words of a 200+ yr old document should be taken verbatim in 2015 so they can keep shooting all those bad guys (like, you know, their kids or anyone else in the house. But that’s just statistics so they almost don’t count).

        • Matt says:

          “A crazy and/or grossly misinformed minority in the US love to pretend the exact words of a 200+ yr old document should be taken verbatim in 2015…”

          This is the standard on reading the constitution. Your crazy minority includes most judges and politicians. If it weren’t there wouldn’t be much point to having a written constitution.

          But it just so happens that there is a process for changing the constitution that has been utilized in the past. If it can’t be used now due to lack of support, that suggests that the crazy minority isn’t as minor as you think.

        • SynCaine says:

          The Supreme Court INTERPRETS what the constitution says. They don’t read it, take what is written verbatim, and make a ruling. The easiest example of this is free speech; we have free speech in the US, but you still can’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater. You can have the right to bear arms, just limited to hunting rifles when you have obtained the correct permits. See how interpretation works?

          Also you don’t really believe that a law not passing is always a reflection of the desires of the majority, do you?

        • Matt says:

          Except the second amendment doesn’t limit it to hunting rifles only, and the militia clause suggests that the intent of the amendment is not to protect the right to hunt deer. Interpretation is one thing, reading something that is entirely not there is another.

          Restrictions like permits are another matter, but which such restrictions would have affected the recent shooting?

  10. Jimmy says:

    The gun violence numbers you’re citing include suicides which also happens to be the primary form of gun violence. Japan has a much higher suicide rate than the US and they don’t have access to guns. Thus the numbers are completely screwed from the get go.

    Secondly the guns that politicians primary try to ban are rifles(assault weapons) a type of gun that’s used in about 2% of gun crimes. To get a perspective about that, 3X more people are beaten to death without a weapon every year than killed with a rifle. It’s also the type of weapon that you need if you have defend yourself against an organized military force or gang. So the government tries to ban them because they want people to be powerless.

    Finally hand guns or shotguns are far more deadly during a shooting spree than an assault rifle. Rifle rounds are small and quick and thus tend to go in and out without huge amount of damage at close range. Common shot guns and hand guns are more deadly than assault rifles in a spree shooting at close range. But again the government will try to ban them because of power it gives regular people.

    The root causes of violence in American is a huge criminal population that servings minimal time for violent crimes and a non existent mental health system. Taking away guns helps with the mental health issue, but makes much worse with the criminals. Because criminals are never fully disarmed and when you need help cops are minutes away.

  11. tithian says:

    To the people saying that there are countries out there with tons of guns and no crime:

    Living in one of those countries, I can tell you there are severe restrictions on guns almost everywhere outside of the US. Here no handguns may be owned by any civilian, unless they get a special permit due to their life being in danger (threatened etc.). Most guns are hunting rifles that cannot be easily transported out of your house if it’s not hunting season. No automatic weapons, period. Possession of any weaponry outside of those regulated, will land you in prison.

    It’s true that there are many guns in some European countries, but the majority of those are owned by few people (aka registered hunters in 99% of the cases), which means that in the major cities most people have only expeirenced guns during their (mandatory) military service.

    Considering that rioting is not exactly uncommon where I live, I would hate to imagine what would happen if the anarchists involved also had free access to guns.

  12. Kyff says:

    This is quite a tough call. Stricter gun control laws are are necessary in my opinion. unfortunately someone added an amendment to your constitution. Gun enthusiasts will always rally under this flag and I don’t see that one repealed anytime soon. All deaths from Colombine to San Bernardino won’t change this.

    The problem is also that there is a completely different tradition of gun wielding in the US than in other coun tries of the world and it’s hard to make people abandon their fetish.

    It might be up to debate if good guys with guns would really help against bad guys with guns. But when guns are outlawed we at least won’t see news like these:

  13. I’m a fan of Ken White so I rather enjoyed his post on why it is difficult to even talk about this topic without going crazy.

  14. Trego says:

    “Just because science/statistics prove otherwise, doesn’t mean you have to believe it, right?”

    If we were actually relying on science/statistics here:

    A. We would start from the basis of knowing that the gun homicide rate has been decreasing in the US for 40 years.
    B. We would add in the fact that support for gun rights has been recently increasing among the voting populace.
    C. We would then conclude that this entire issue is the media creating a frenzy either out of self-interest or for another goal, by making a decrease in gun violence appear to be a massive explosion in gun violence through a focus on it above all else.
    D. Due to A and B, the fact that gun control laws have actually been made looser, not tighter, over the past 40 years(mainly on a state and local level), with an accelerating rate of loosening recently, is fully explained, and it is obvious that it will continue until national attitudes change.
    E. Considering A-D, there’s not really much to debate about on other than a philosophical level, except for trying to figure out the actual reason why the media is blowing this issue up so much.

    Those are the first-order relevant statistics. Comparing our rates with other countries is second-order relevant, because now we are comparing apples to oranges, and then cherry picking certain other countries to compare to to achieve the desired conclusion is comparing apples to organic meyer lemons; and it moots nothing, because the above facts still remain true and show that nothing will be changed by comparing the US to Europe over and over.

    I personally am not strongly either for or against these laws, because I recognize that it’s a very complicated issue and I’m still open to learning more about the issue. Part of learning about this issue has been about recognizing the fallacies in your comparisons between the US and other countries, Syn. There are some huge differences between the US and these European countries, Syn, I’m sure you recognize some of them, like the differing amounts of toxic inner city ghettos where people are developing huge amounts of rage at the structure of the country they live in, or the relative heterogeneity of the US culturally and racially. Have you considered the differing amounts of military intervention that the US partakes in compared to these less violent countries? You’ve played the Civ games, you know that the hardest part about waging war with a democratic government is civilian unrest. It’s so obvious that it’s in computer games–so it’s obvious that a democracy like the US which is in basically constant military conflict and continues with that form of government must have a deep-rooted difference in its culture as regards violence, no? US popular culture romanticizes violence, as does our history as popularly understood. This isn’t about trying to separate out cause and effect, this is about understanding the positive feedback loops between violence and the US self-image which have existed since its inception, which makes separating out cause and effect meaningless, and if you can’t do that, then you can’t easily make meaningful comparisons to entities lacking those relationships.

    • SynCaine says:

      A: So the rate is decreasing from “outrageously more than other countries” way down to… outrageously more than other countries. What does that trend look like in Australia after stricter gun laws passed?
      B: Link to this info? I know at least after Sandy Hook, support for gun regulations was the overwhelming majority in the US (while of course gun sales also skyrocketed, in part because of ‘they are coming for our guns’ fear perpetrated by the NRA is good for business).
      C: I don’t think the media is creating the homicide rates in the US, nor are they creating the mass murder events, unless what, those same events with the same frequency just aren’t reported in other countries? Or are you saying that the rate of gun-related incidents in the US is totally cool and a none issue other than the media creating a frenzy?

      Oh but yes, other countries don’t count now. Sure, the trends are easy to spot in multiple countries, but all of those countries are very similar oranges to each other, and the US its own very special, very unique apple, right? Do you not see how insane that line of thinking sounds? How stupid it would be for the US to ignore everything happening in other countries and treat each issue as something uniquely American?

      • Trego says:

        You can’t consistently call for people to argue based on science and statistics, and then issue forth with these kind of emotional, rhetorical replies. Which do you want, to eat your cake or to have it?

        “So the rate is decreasing from “outrageously more than other countries” way down to… outrageously more than other countries. ”

        There are many countries with higher homicide rates than the US. Cherry picking the countries you wish to compare with to obtain your desired result is not scientific.

        Link to this info? The majority of the decrease was between 1990 and 2000, but from 2000 to today there is still a very slight weakening of support for gun control. On the state level, the actual result has been a large loosening of gun control regulation since 2000, due to the concentration of this opinion in the so-called red states.

        “I don’t think the media is creating the homicide rates in the US, nor are they creating the mass murder events, unless what, those same events with the same frequency just aren’t reported in other countries?”

        This appears to be a strawman, ad hominem type of argument. I certainly never claimed that the media was creating the lower homicide rates in the US over the past 40 years.

        “Or are you saying that the rate of gun-related incidents in the US is totally cool and a none issue other than the media creating a frenzy?”

        I am not saying that anything is “totally cool”, as “totally cool” is not a scientific nor statistical argument.

        “Oh but yes, other countries don’t count now.”

        This is a sarcastic and emotional reply. It is not statistical nor scientific.

        “Sure, the trends are easy to spot in multiple countries, but all of those countries are very similar oranges to each other, and the US its own very special, very unique apple, right? Do you not see how insane that line of thinking sounds?”

        This is a strawman and ad hominem line of thinking, expressly designed by you to sound insane. There are many groups of countries, and many trends. Depending on how you pick your countries and your trends, the US may look like an apple in comparison to them, or it may not. There are many, many countries with homicide rates higher than the US, so if you pick your multiple countries carefully, the US may look like quite a safe apple.

        “How stupid it would be for the US to ignore everything happening in other countries and treat each issue as something uniquely American?”

        This is a strawman and ad hominem concept, expressly designed by you to appear stupid. I never said to ignore other countries, I made a much more differentiated comparison which you are attempting to ridicule instead of treat with the respect for statistics and science that you have claimed to desire.

        • SynCaine says:

          Such a Trego non-reply…

          I’ll leave you with this; the link you provided shows that currently 55% of people want more restrictive gun laws.

        • Trego says:

          I prefer my style of non-reply, i.e., pointing out that you are making emotional strawmans and asking you to use the statistics and science that you claim to want, to your style of non-reply, which is to strew about the aforementioned strawmans. I provided the link you wanted, did I not?

          ” 55% of people want more restrictive gun laws.”

          yes, but those 55% of people already live in states where they have more restrictive gun laws. In case you were about to ask, “more restrictive than what”, the answer is “more restrictive than what they think they have” Note the other part of the link…less households have guns than before, yet gun makers are selling more guns than ever. What’s up with that? Either people are lying about having guns, in greater and greater numbers, or those 40% of households that have guns all have arsenals, as compared to a larger number of households with guns having fewer total guns among them 30 years ago. Now do you see the problem with comparing the voluntary destruction of 20% of guns in Australia, to trying to do the same thing here? Either we have mass concealment of guns, or we have literally millions of Americans building up outrageous arsenals of firearms. The US is not Australia, not because I’m waving an apple and an orange around and whistling a happy tune, but because I’m providing actual links to real statistics that show some sobering facts about the US. Gun production was very steadily rising for 40 years, then when Obama took over people started buying crazy amounts of guns, and if you look at the numbers, these are existing gun owners buying many more guns, not new gun owners. You’re making all these strange strawman arguments to refute what you imagine I’m saying, but you aren’t actually reading what I’m saying closely enough to see the actual implications of my arguments. Despite all these new guns, accidental firearms deaths in the US have been plummeting–which makes sense, because if you have 20 guns you’d keep them locked up, instead of keeping that one handgun under your pillow.

        • SynCaine says:

          “We would add in the fact that support for gun rights has been recently increasing among the voting populace.”

          55% want more restrictions.

          Who’s using straw and who’s using stats again?

        • Trego says:

          ““We would add in the fact that support for gun rights has been recently increasing among the voting populace.”

          55% want more restrictions.

          Who’s using straw and who’s using stats again?”

          You’re using straw, I’m using stats. Thanks for asking!

        • Trego says:

          Here’s the thing about “““We would add in the fact that support for gun rights has been recently increasing among the voting populace.””

          I should have been more clear.

          1 I was taking it for granted that this would be taken to be on the same general time scale as part A, which was 40 years, but I could have been more specific.

          2. Support for gun rights went from 22% in 1990 to 45% in 2015, so instead of “increasing”, I should have said “massively increasing”, as that is quite an increase. (Where a belief that new gun control legislation should not be enacted is taken to be equivalent to a support for gun rights)

          So B. should have read “We would add in the fact that over the past 25 years, support for gun rights has more than doubled among the voting populace”

          All good?

        • SynCaine says:

          Support for stricter gun laws was at 78% in 1990, its at 55% in 2015 (second graph of your link). Additionally that entire time, the NRA vote (less strict) has been more or less steady at 10% (fanatical and vocal super minority). Where are you getting your numbers from?

        • Trego says:

          “Support for stricter gun laws was at 78% in 1990, its at 55% in 2015 …Where are you getting your numbers from?”

          100% – 78% = 22%, 100% – 55% =45%.

          This, of course, presupposes the interpretation of “gun right supporter” as meaning “does not support additional gun control”. The NRA voter, as you noted above, held steady at 10%; therefore the question is what to do with the other 20-40%, the portion of the population who thinks that the current level of gun regulation is appropriate. Are they gun right advocates, or gun control advocates, or neither? I’ve chosen to interpret the stance that anyone who doesn’t think the US needs more gun controls as a supporter of gun rights–you could of course interpret that differently but since we both seem to agree that the US currently has a massive amount of guns in civilian hands, it seems reasonable to conclude that a supporter of the legal status quo is a supporter of gun rights. Currently there are more guns in civilian hands in the US than there are civilians in the US.

        • SynCaine says:

          Ok, wasn’t following your math since there was already a category for ‘keep the same’. And even if we put every single ‘keep it the same’ person into the NRA camp, that still doesn’t change the fact that currently the majority of Americans want more gun restrictions, we have a president who wants more, and yet no major laws get passed. ‘Merica!

        • Trego says:

          Remember that in 2015 the number of people who are against stricter gun control laws, 45%, is almost equal to the percentage of households who actually possess a gun, from the same link, an interesting “crossing of lines” as one line was steadily increasing and the other decreasing in the previous 25 years.

        • Trego says:

          “And even if we put every single ‘keep it the same’ person into the NRA camp, that still doesn’t change the fact that currently the majority of Americans want more gun restrictions, we have a president who wants more, and yet no major laws get passed.”

          The NRA camp wants civilians to be able to buy flamethrowers and bazookas and such. NRA camp = bazooka rights, NRA camp + keep it the same = larger voting bloc that agrees on gun rights but disagrees on bazooka rights. That’s my interpretation of the math, at least. You may think I’m joking but I know a bunch of people in that 10%, and they literally do think bazookas should be legal, except they wouldn’t call them bazookas, they’d know the up to date variants of the Javelin and SRAW and be able to debate the finer points between them.

          And yes, that’s been exactly my point all along, whatever gun control legislation that people think should have been enacted already that wasn’t enacted with the 78% approval rating, surely won’t get past the entrenched gun lobbies now with only a 55% approval rating. Meaningful gun control requires getting that approval rating up higher, because approval for vague “something should be done” plans is always higher than approval for a real proposal. My secondary point is that naive comparisons to Australia don’t work, because the US is a special snowflake in one respect–our military-industrial complex is larger than the rest of the world’s MI complex put together–and if you don’t think that’s relevant to our gun culture and homicide rate, think again. I’m not saying if someone swooped down and took all America’s guns, we’d still shoot each other to death with spitballs. I’m saying no one can simply snap their fingers and do that, because they’d get shot to death as soon as they tried.

          People love to cherry pick 9 other nations, with no objective standard for choice shown, and compare America to them, showing how badly we compare in gun violence rates. All that shows is that there are 9 other nations with ridiculously lower gun violence rates than us. How about choosing comparative nations with actual objective standards. First you’d choose a comparison by GDP/population, because that’s the first thing everyone looks at. We’d do pretty badly in that ranking. Then you’d think, well, what factors are actually relevant to gun crime? You’d start ranking countries by “Do they allow capital punishment by the govt?”, “what percentage of their GDP goes to military spending”, “what percentage of the past 100 years have they had troops engaged in on-the-ground combat, whether in a declared war or in any other capacity”, etc. I think if you compared America to other nations near it on those charts, we’d rank pretty well in our homicide rankings. What’s my point here? Well, remember when you said:

          “Sure, the trends are easy to spot in multiple countries, but all of those countries are very similar oranges to each other, and the US its own very special, very unique apple, right? ”

          Sadly, we’re not a special unique apple. We’re part of a large apple family, of nations with aggressive, militaristic governments, that employ capital punishment and have a strong political movement in favor of strong social restrictions. There are a lot of apples, and it would be nice if we were an orange, but we’re not. We’re an apple. We can’t just snap our fingers and become an orange, we’d have to get rid of all our appley’ bits, and grow an orange peel, and the wedges, and get juicier. We’d have to change our position on all those comparative rankings, and it’d take a long time. Quite possibly it’s already happening, this slow steady process. But for now, we’re an apple.

        • SynCaine says:

          What are some of those comparable countries then? We know the list where gun control has shown results to different degrees (obviously no one reasonable thinks America can become Australia, at least not overnight (30 years ago if you had told someone smoking would be almost completely dead in the US and socially looked at so negatively, everyone would have called you a loon too), but it would be nice if we could be closer to that then closer to Syria).

          Who is on the other list that a pro-gun person can point at and say “See we should try to be like these guys where they solve this problem by having the good guys shoot the bad guys first”? Because if countries like Russia or other 3rd world countries are on that list, then no thanks.

        • Trego says:

          “What are some of those comparable countries then?”

          There are a lot of other things that makes oranges oranges, like having a single-payer healthcare system, and not restricting abortion clinics so that you have to drive 500 miles to find one, how many children die of hunger per year per 1000 children in the nation, etc. It’s a long list and I don’t have time to list them all, but this is the cold reality of the situation–the list of countries that the US is constantly compared to in terms of homicide rate is a bunch of oranges, and we’re an apple, with a bunch of other apples that often have homicide rates higher than ours. Although not always, Saudi Arabia has capital punishment but a murder rate much lower than ours…look at the European countries which most recently carried out executions…they’re all former USSR bloc countries and they all have homicide rates higher than ours. The military expenditure one is interesting. I.e., south korea has a military expenditure/GDP near that of the US, but a murder rate 25% of the US–but that’s because of the proximity of north korea with a murder rate double that of the US. Russia’s ME/GDP is a bit higher than ours, and their homicide rate is like 400% higher than ours. Again, Saudi Arabia is the exception here, with a sky high ME/GDP rate but a very low homicide rate. Israel’s homicide rate is half that of the US, but that is still relatively high. This is a pretty interesting topic to look into, the ‘safety net’ represented by public health care is showing a much higher correlation than I expected, compared to other factors like the death penalty and military spending. South Africa looked like an exception, with a public health care system and a homicide rate an order of magnitude higher than that here in the US, but on further investigation it looks like their Public health system is so ramshackle that anyone who can afford it utilizes private health care instead. People in this country get so angry when murders are excused/explained by reference to “mental illness” on the part of the murderer, but over the past 65 years, the instituitionalization rate for mental illness in the US has dropped by a factor of tenfold. link:

          I know that I have a friend who was on his way to being the valedictorian of his high school class, got accepted to an Ivy League school, then came down with schizophrenia and is now homeless living on the street. He just had a child a year ago with a mother who is also mentally ill. His family has plenty of money and they could easily pay for him to live an apartment, but he prefers to be homeless. I’m not sure how this story is applicable, other than just illustrating that just money alone isn’t enough, countries need a structure to keep these people well enough served to be off the street.

          “Who is on the other list that a pro-gun person can point at and say “See we should try to be like these guys where they solve this problem by having the good guys shoot the bad guys first”? Because if countries like Russia or other 3rd world countries are on that list, then no thanks.”

          Countries like Russia are indeed on the list of countries that the US has made itself similar to with its policies, but that has nothing to do with a list of where the problem was solved by having the good guys shoot the bad guys–Well, first off, if you define the good guys as the police, then that’s every country . That’s pretty much SOP for how to handle bad guys running around shooting people, no matter where you go. Here’s the thing…in Star Trek, economic inequality and mental illness are pretty much solved, so everyone walks around armed and it works out for the best. I don’t think any country on this world today lives up to that utopian model–but let’s be realistic and look at the US. Since we know that there are millions of people with untreated mental illness walking around, and there are hundreds of millions of guns floating around, there are two separate questions. One is, what should the nation do, in a perfect world? Treat all those people with mental illness, work to reduce class and racial tensions, increase opportunity and education, etc. The second question is, given that the nation isn’t doing that first stuff, or at least not very quickly, does it make sense to arm yourself for self-defense? I’m not sure, I do know that there’s a hilarious amount of bad statistics going around about self-defense and handguns. Obviously a lot depends on how dangerous someone’s unique life situation is; but here’s the interesting thing. People are always quoting the number of justifiable homicides in self-defense, comparing them to the number of homicides in the US in total, the latter number is much larger, therefore they’ve proven to themselves that handguns are not useful in self defense. But here’s the kicker–the number of justifiable homicides by private citizens is nearly equal to the number of justifiable homicides by police, in the US. So why aren’t people arguing that police should be disarmed? If 300 isn’t enough, why is 400? I don’t own a gun, nor do I know how to use one, but if 2 armed men break into my church next Sunday and start shooting I know I’ll regret both those facts. There are two basic facts here. 1. Guns in the hand of private citizens do seem quite effective at stopping crime, based on the figures above. 2. Comparing the usefulness of guns in the hands of private citizens to the number of total gun homicides and saying is one worth the other is not that relevant. Unless one is seriously proposing going around door-to-door and confiscating every single private firearm, there is no direct relationship between the two numbers, let alone a reason to balance ‘worth’. One might as well talk about how many lives are saved by car drivers, vs. how many deaths are caused by car accidents. We don’t drive cars to save lives by swerving to hit a mountain lion that’s about to eat a baby, we drive cars to get where we are going. If I’m buying a handgun for self-defense, the use of the other 400 million guns in the US is only tangentially relevant to the use I will put my handgun. Most of those 400 million gun sit unused in a locker. Most of the 15000 homicides caused by some of those guns next year will be committed by hardened criminals or the mentally ill. None of that is contingent upon my individual choice and action, therefore direct statistical comparisons between me and them are all flawed.


  15. Mikrakov says:

    Well there are a lot of statistics being thrown around in this thread to “prove” both sides of the argument, but speaking anecdotally for a moment I can say that every fellow Aussie I know thinks the US is a big fat joke when it comes to gun laws. If you guys are happy being seen as a sad joke by the rest of the world, then keep on doing that crazy thing you do.

  16. coppertopper says:

    Its a fact that Canada has more guns per capita then the US, yet gun violence there is almost unheard of. You can’t blame a mechanical object on how it is used. The tongue and speech are more dangerous really then the damage a gun can inflict. So the problem is more of a social-political one. Guns need better control for sure, but outlawing weapons is not the answer. This whole arguement harkens back to the Jack Thompson era of “violent video games makes more mass murderers “. That being said, I really see no use for the AR I own – home defense and personal defense are better served with handguns and shotguns. Yet handguns are so much more accessible and easier to use in the heat of the moment then an AR, so I stand conflicted : p

    • SynCaine says:

      Do the gun violence stats include polar bears killed and how many armed polar bears killed Canadians? If not, stats are invalid.

      Also invalid because Canada.

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