Professor David Guth, Threats, And Rhetoric

Friday I asserted that if University of Kansas disciplines Professor David Guth for his repulsive "let it be YOUR sons and daughters" tweet, it would present significant First Amendment issues.

Today I want to follow up on two points.

Threats Against A Professor Or School As A Basis For Discipline

Since I wrote my post, the Huffington Post quoted Professor Guth and suggested he agreed to be put on leave based on threats his tweet generated:

I have had conversations with the university and have agreed to this action — an administrative leave with pay — in light of the abusive email threats I and others have received. It is in it the best interests and peace of mind of our students that I remove myself from the situation and let cooler heads prevail.

Professor Guth consenting to being put on leave probably means that it is not a First Amendment violation. However, in general, treating threats as a basis for state employer action against an employee is troubling. Under the Pickering/Connick balancing test, a state university could conceivably take action to censor speech if that speech is generating threats that disrupt the university's activities. (The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit said as much years ago, but in that case found there was no reliable evidence that such threats actually disrupted the school in question.) The problem is obvious: this empowers a heckler's veto, and creates an incentive for people who don't like a professor's speech to make anonymous threats or otherwise disrupt a university in order to empower the university to censor the speech. "The First Amendment says you can't censor this professor's speech — unless, I mean, people are really assholes about it" strikes me as a dangerous invitation.

Professor Guth's Pretense and Parsing

Let's remember that Professor Guth said:

ProfessorDavidGuth

Now, if Professor Guth had said "I lashed out in a moment of grief and anger," I could understand that and think that people should forgive it. If Professor Guth said "I meant exactly what I said — the next time there is a mass shooting, I hope it is the children of NRA leaders (or members) who die," I could at least respect that he, ah, sticks to his guns.

But that's not what he is doing.

It is unfortunate that my comments have been deliberately distorted. I know what I meant. Unfortunately, this is a topic that generates more heat than light.

Let me speak plainly: if you tweet something like that and then complain that the subject "generates more heat then light," you're a twit.

What does he think is being distorted?

"If you look at how I structured the statement, I didn’t really bring [the NRA’s) children into it,” he said, according to Fox4KC. “I carefully structured the statement to make it conditional, but apparently it was too much of a nuance for some people.”

“I don’t want anybody harmed. If somebody’s going to be harmed, maybe it ought to be the people who believe that guns are so precious that it’s worth spilling blood over,” Guth added, according to Fox4KC. Guth did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.

See, I don't see a conditional. I see "next time." Does anybody think there isn't going to be a next time? Does anyone seriously deny that another mass shooting is certain? No. That, in fact, is the point underlying Professor Guth's excoriation of the NRA.

Moreover, though Professor Guth tries to walk it back saying he meant "it ought to be the people who believe that guns are so precious that it’s worth spilling blood over" who should be harmed, that's not what he said either. He said "let it be YOUR sons and daughters." He suggested the children should suffer for the political positions of their parents. But, under scrutiny, he's too much of a moral coward to (1) apologize for fiery rhetoric or (2) say that he really meant it. So he parses, weakly and unconvincingly.

The core of Professor Guth's rhetorical flourish — "next time it should be the children of the people who support this position who suffer" — is familiar. We hear it from people against war ("it's the children of people who support going to war who should die on the battlefield") and from people who support wars, particularly the War on Terrorism ("if there's another terrorist attack, it's the people who oppose America defending itself and their children who should die.") As long as I've been a lawyer, and before, I've heard it in discussions of the statutory and constitutional rights of people accused of crimes ("People who support letting this guy go should find out what it's like to have their child murdered").

Would Professor Guth support his own rhetoric, carried to other issues? Kids kill themselves because of bullying every year. Some people — including me — oppose badly drafted, vague, and overbroad "cyberbullying" laws on First Amendment grounds. Would Professor Guth support the statement "the blood is on the hands of First Amendment advocates. Next time, let it be one of YOUR sons or daughters who commits suicide. Shame on you. May God damn you"? Professor Guth might protest that it's not clear that cyberbullying laws would prevent suicide, so the two situations are not morally equivalent. I'd respond, in one of the few areas where I agree with the NRA, that it's not clear that the sort of anti-gun legislation the NRA opposes would prevent deaths either. Would Professor Guth feel comfortable uttering that sentiment? If not, why not?

Or take speed limits. More than 30,000 Americans die in traffic accidents every year. Some argue that lower speed limits reduce deaths and some bitterly oppose national speed limits or lower speed limits. Would Professor Guth say "The blood is on the hands of people who oppose a national speed limit. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters who die in car accidents. Shame on you. May God damn you." If not, why not?

Professor Guth's tweet may just reflect a heavy heart and a hot head, even if he lacks the moral fortitude to admit it. It may reflect extreme animus on a particular issue. But the rhetoric — just like when others use it — may also reflect a broader attitude towards rights, and how we argue for and against them.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Dan Weber says

    "I'm sorry if anyone was offended."

    LaPierre sucks., Guth sucks and is cowardly to boot. His university — assuming they pressured him to go on leave — sucks, but I'm not yet sure whether they are craven or incompetent.

  2. Ryan says

    Agree with Ken here; it's pretty clear what Guth said. As rhetorical flourish goes, it's not off-side to wish that people who espouse certain policies are the ones who experience any tragic consequences that may result from them (which is precisely what Guth's original tweet said, albeit less eloquently). That's a perfectly defensible position. I'd have significant respect for Guth if he apologized for his heated tone, but restated and supported his basic premise.

    Instead, he went for the "I really want to defend a principled stand so I won't recant entirely but I'd rather not continue this conversation because it makes me look really bad" route, which actually makes his original tweet that much worse.

    Stand by your convictions, even if they weren't expressed as reasonably as they should have been.

  3. Dion Starfire says

    What an idiot. He deliberately chose inflammatory language to get attention or convey an extreme viewpoint, then is surprised when people pay attention to him and respond negatively to his extreme viewpoint.

    Hopefully, he'll be a bit more careful with his words from now on. Or it may take a few more facepalms to realize that every organization, group, faction, whatever is composed of real people not just mindless faceless drones.

  4. Mark Haney says

    Guth may think things were distorted, but he had this to say of the tweet (according to http://www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=5086):

    “Hell no, hell no, I do not regret that Tweet,” he said. “I don't take it back one bit.”

    At that rate, it sounds to me as though he knows (and meant) exactly what he said. I agree with you that, if the remarks were made in the "heat of the moment", that most would back off, but he doesn't seem to be going there.

    Thanks for another great article,

    MPHinPgh

  5. Ryan says

    @Anonymouse

    Snide shots at the NRA aside (and they can definitely be made here), the main outrage I believe stems from the fact that Guth is essentially advocating that any violence and tragedy resulting from parents' political positions should be visited upon their children.

    Guth might be making an intellectual point (if you support a policy, you should be the one to experience its consequences), but it was badly stated and is now being made worse by his flip-flopping.

  6. Dave says

    @Anonymouse: "To be honest, I don't understand the furor over his tweet. What was so out of line?"

    From my perspective, he is either (A) wishing the sins of the fathers upon the sons as he seeks to see the sons and daughters of the NRA suffer for the NRA's promotion of (in his opinion) bad policy. Or (B) treating the children as merely objects with which to inflict harm on their parents, as he wishes for the childrens deaths so the parents can suffer the same feeling of loss as those who have lost loved ones in recent tragedies.

    I find either alternative reprehensible, but you are welcome to form your own opinion.

  7. says

    I have had and even expressed feelings similar to those Guth expressed in his offensive tweet, in reaction to psychopaths indirectly (but seriously) harming children by directly harming their parents. But the malice I felt nevertheless remained directed wholly at the psychopath, based on the presumption that the psychopath loves his own kids, and suffers when they suffer. The feeling was "fuck you and yours too," just like you've fucked over this whole family without a second thought.

    Heck, the children of psychopaths mights already be some of the saddest victims of their parents' pathology.

  8. Shane says

    @Ryan

    Stand by your convictions, even if they weren't expressed as reasonably as they should have been.

    Amen. I don't agree at all with this guy, but backing off of your stance and not admitting that you have had a change of heart (or were wrong) is cowardly.

  9. Charles says

    We could start here: http://www.openbible.info/topics/sins_of_the_father
    since the USA is still a mostly Christian place.
    Or we could go to Deuteronomy for the "… unto the fourth generation" contradiction of the other sections.
    Or we could realize that not everyone that reaches the exalted realm of college classroom prof knows neither much of which he or she speaks; nor much of what is their credentialed realm.
    Or he could just be a really dumb sociopath in a classroom.
    Other options are left to the creativity of the audience.

  10. Dragoness Eclectic says

    I found Guth's tweet utterly vile: he wished for the murders of NRA member's children and for NRA members to be sent to Hell by God, for the unspeakable crime of exercising their First Amendment rights to defend the Second Amendment. Gee, thanks, I love you, too.

    As this blog has often noted, he has a right to say what he wants without government retaliation. The rest of the world has the right to consider him a rude, contemptible, hypocritical, craven little wanna-be demagogue and treat him accordingly.

    Sometime lurker; haven't commented before.

  11. Tom says

    @Ryan describing Guth as "essentially advocating that any violence and tragedy resulting from parents' political positions should be visited upon their children" is flatly absurd. He's using hyperbole, using rhetorical exaggeration and inflammatory language, to express his frustration with organizations like the NRA – organizations which to people with political viewpoints like Professor Guth's (and my own), are "essentially advocating" that laws which enable and increase violence across the board, including against children.

  12. Someone says

    What I always wonder about in situations like this is the similarity between teachers and judges.

    Just like judges seem to have a certain sort of obligation to appear impartial and unbiased in the eyes of the public for the sake legitimizing and supporting their office and the rule of law, it has always seemed to me as though teacher share a similar sort of obligation with respect to public education and teaching.

    While an individual may have a right to say such things, it seems to make their ability to be a teacher suspect. Once they've said such things publicly, it's hard for the public at large to believe that they won't act with prejudice towards students they find to hold differing views.

    Likewise, their publication of such viewpoints creates a chilling effect on their students speech, much like a judge who believes in racial segregation might have created a chilling effect on citizens and petitioners within his court district.

    While public employees may have special status with respect to their ability to not have actions taken against them by their employer, the state, it seems odd that the same status would let them use their office and legitimacy to chill and restrain the speech of others, the crystal clear effect of poorly constructed, aggressive, and ranting public speech.

  13. ZarroTsu says

    “I carefully structured the statement to make it conditional, but apparently it was too much of a nuance for some people.”

    He… 'carefully structured' a statement on Twitter?

    What?

  14. Ryan says

    @Tom

    Perhaps you'd like to read my original comment – the second in the thread. You'll note that I actually don't have a real problem with Guth's tweet aside from the fact that he worded his meta-point poorly and then failed to stand up for his convictions.

    His point – that those who advocate policy should be the ones who experience any tragic consequences that result – is reasonable as far as I'm concerned. Where some people – as I said to Anonymouse – see a problem is that his tweet can be read as saying their children should be the ones feeling the consequences.

  15. says

    This is all just spinning and PR. The University would rather just forget about this, but because of all the fuss has to be seen as "doing something." So they give him a paid vacation.

    But the prof doesn't want it to look like he did anything wrong. So in return for not kicking up a fuss about the paid vacation, the prof gets to spin it that he wasn't suspended because of anything he tweeted, but because of the nasty threats from members of the great un-nuanced.

    All paid for on the taxpayers' dime.

  16. HandOfGod137 says

    @ Someone

    While an individual may have a right to say such things, it seems to make their ability to be a teacher suspect.

    He's a Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications: having an opinion is pretty much a prerequisite for those subjects. And as his students could potentially find employment as investigative journalists, instilling a desire to state what could be unpopular opinions should be seen as a desirable attribute. Which is not to say he hasn't been a very naughty boy.

  17. En Passant says

    ZarroTsu wrote Sep 23, 2013 @1:53 pm:

    He… 'carefully structured' a statement on Twitter?

    You bet his statement is carefully structured. He's an Associate Professor of Journalism. He knows much more than we laymen know about strategic communication and public relations.

    So of course we don't understand the nuances of his statement, or its subtle structure. We'd have to enroll and study for years to understand.

  18. Allen says

    Please forgive me, I didn't mean to mug the wrong person, won't you just let it go?

    For the students?

    In my experience the liberty to do a thing, and the wisdom of doing it are usually separate matters.

  19. says

    His walk-back is hollow on its face and anyone actually interested in the issue knows it. As HandOfGod137 states, his area of expertise is journalism and communications. For him to be surprised by the "misinterpretation" of the tweet is beyond ludicrous. As is often the case, it can be summarized as evil vs stupid.

    Stupid: the guy not lying and just REALLY sucks at communication. Why is he teaching this stuff?

    Evil: the guy is lying and is afraid/embarrassed/something-else-probably-both.

    I'm normally inclined to take "evil" with professionals and teachers of a subject, but "stupid" is still technically possible. The facepalm that would come with someone revealing dozens of other poorly-structured posts from Mr. Ruth would only be a 7/10.

  20. Asher says

    This tweet is just an addition to my collection of evidence that the average* academic is mainly interested in fundamentally altering reality, rather than understanding it. Of course, to fundamentally altering reality involves wholesale destruction of all existing ways of living. Those people want to destroy you and your way of life.

    But, hey, omelette, eggs.

    * Average =/ All

  21. Chris says

    This tweet is just an addition to my collection of evidence that the average* academic is mainly interested in fundamentally altering reality, rather than understanding it.

    Well, duh. When I was a professor studying urban transportation, I wanted to help make better decisions about mass transit. Mechanical engineering profs I knew want to improve safety systems on industrial equipment, a friend of mine who studies disaster response wants to improve how emergency managers can communicate with evacuees scattered over wide areas. Almost every academic, save those in the most esoteric disciplines, hopes that there work can have some positive real world impact (there hopes often go unfulfilled, but they still go on hoping).

  22. beingmarkh says

    One would think a tenured professor of journalism would know how to construct a conditional, particularly if he's doing so "carefully". Had he gone with a subjunctive–"if it were your sons and daughters"–there might be a bit of wiggle room.

    But grammatically speaking, "Let it be YOUR sons and daughters" is an imperative.

  23. En Passant says

    Professor Guth:

    "If you look at how I structured the statement, I didn’t really bring [the NRA’s) children into it,” he said, according to Fox4KC. “I carefully structured the statement to make it conditional, but apparently it was too much of a nuance for some people.”

    Humpty Dumpty:

    'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

    'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

    'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

  24. Dragonmum says

    @Michael D – evil and stupid aren't mutually exclusive. Nor is being a professional or teacher exclusive of stupid (as opposed to ignorant… ).

    How's this for an academic review…

    I would characterize his tweet as nasty, hateful and mean-spirited, espousing a pseudo-Darwinian eugenic revenge wish along with a quaint religious anachronism re: the God and Hell thing. By itself, meaningless in execution, yet somehow gaining significance by repetition and unwarranted analysis.

    Meanwhile, the guy's an asshat, and I hope the students in his department can learn a lesson from this ugly little shart of humanity.

  25. Xenocles says

    "He's a Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications: having an opinion is pretty much a prerequisite for those subjects."

    Back in my day journalism was supposed to be about the facts. In a way it's good that we have dispensed with that pleasing fiction.

    As to his communication ability: I suppose it's not possible to write in such a way that nobody misunderstands you – certainly not in 140 characters – but it seems likely that one could have a better go at it than Guth did. One could certainly expect that from an alleged expert in the subject. He issued the classic "This is your problem, not mine" non-apology, which to me is another strike against the idea that this was somehow a blunder on his part rather than exactly what he meant.

  26. Allen says

    Dragonmum

    I had to look that one up, shart, that is. At first I was thinking shard, a bit of broken pottery, a piece of flint broken off a stone tool.

    But, oh my, what I did find. Made me laugh. A lot.

  27. Sami says

    Wow, what a spineless weasel.

    If you're going to make that kind of emphatic statement, you damn well better own it later. I agree, "I lashed out in a moment of anger," is a legitimate way to walk back on that kind of rhetoric. Trying to parse it and pretend it didn't happen and OTHER PEOPLE are too stupid to understand your nuance is a sign that you have the moral courage of lichen.

    I would say, though – on the topic of gun control legislation, I think you might be missing an element of the issue.

    The NRA, as far as I can tell, opposes any and all legislation which might in any way make it more difficult for people to obtain guns and/or to have guns with them wherever they go.

    The result of this is that any legislation which would *definitely* have an impact on gun violence in general and mass shootings in particular is unquestionably going to be dead on arrival. If people lose their shit at the concept of being asked to wait a couple of days to buy an assault rifle, then meaningful legislation is not going to be possible.

    So there are only two realistic responses to that. One is to give up and accept that there will be a mass shooting almost every day in the United States of America and that's just, somehow, the Price Of Freedom, despite the fact that it's a price nobody else is having to pay.

    The other is to try and achieve it by stages. In much the same way as many other great legislative achievements started with a basic setup of something terribly inadequate but-we-could-pass-this and were gradually developed over years and decades into something reasonably effective.

    (Or maybe you could try and work an educational campaign on the opening clause of the sentence, "A well-regulated militia," and how the Founders specified a well-regulated militia because apparently they pretty much foresaw this exact problem but apparently should have also gone into a lot more detail on that point, and also on explaining that this was notably an issue at a point when America did not have and did not intend to have a standing army. And also that the "guns for the preservation of liberty against the guvvermint" argument was a lot more relevant before predator drones were invented. But since the curriculum for most of the country is controlled by the Texas Board of Education, and the Texas Board of Education is taking Thomas Jefferson out of the books for being too liberal, good luck with that.)

    The thing is, the only gun control legislation that I would say can definitely be said to be proven effective is Australia's. Australia had mass shootings every so often before the Port Arthur Massacre; then we had the Port Arthur Massacre, which was a bloodbath. (35 people killed, twenty-something wounded.) I was in high school when it happened. My school was in Perth, and Port Arthur is in Tasmania. (This, in terms of distance, is sort of like if I was in Los Angeles, and the shooting was taking place in the Florida Keys.) But there was still an eerie hush over the entire school that day.

    This prompted a substantial tightening of gun control laws in Australia by our ardent conservative, at the time government. We have had no mass shootings since; gun crime in general is very, very rare here.

    However, people who object to having to wait or undergo background checks to acquire fully-automatic weapons would probably cope pretty badly with a switch to Australian-style gun control laws, since in order to own a fully-automatic weapon in Australia you must, by law, be the Australian Defence Force.

  28. Zem says

    People say stupid things all the time. I do it, and I am sure you all have too.

    The outrage over this one, from all sides, is genuinely worring. Why? because over reacting to small things is a clear indicator that there are bigger issues we are all trying to avoid.

  29. Dragonmum says

    *grins slyly, eyes twinkle*

    I felt that word summed up the entire tweet nonsense perfectly. It's used more by our friends on the other side of the pond, or as they are know in my house, "the people who produce actually good television shows… " Because Dr Who.

  30. Allen says

    Dragonmum,

    It is now part of my vocabulary. I live, and ride my horse, in the Sierra Nevada mountains and have had more than one acquaintance with Giardia.

    To the tune of "I shot the Sheriff."

    I shart my saddle, but I swear it was Giardia.

    If that horse could speak it was "what the heck did you do."

  31. Jacob Henner says

    I am sure that he meant "children," and that is certainly how everyone is interpreting it, but I'd like to point out that isn't actually what he said. He said "sons and daughters," and we all remain sons and daughters, even after we turn 18.

  32. says

    Allowing for dissembling, if there is a treat to Guth that would, if carried out, endanger the students in his class (e.g. We're a comin down there with our AK 47s and gonna shoot you full of holes in your class- WlP) then the University and Guth did the right thing, cause, you know, WlP's aim ain't that good.

  33. Jacob Henner says

    @beingmarkh actually, it is called the "jussive subjunctive". The opener "let it be.." is a dead giveaway

  34. Steven H. says

    @Sami:

    "However, people who object to having to wait or undergo background checks to acquire fully-automatic weapons "

    It's possible to own a full automatic weapon in the US – it requires a Class III firearms license, and it typically takes two – three months to get a sale approved.
    Note also that the weapon cannot be newer than ~1986, since that's when BATFE stopped registering new legal automatic weapons.

    It should be noted, by the by, that the shooting that sparked this particular post was done with a pump-action shotgun.

    So, how's the wait in Autralia if you want to buy a shotgun?

  35. bobbles says

    The NRA, as far as I can tell, opposes any and all legislation which might in any way make it more difficult for people to obtain guns and/or to have guns with them wherever they go. Not really but I won't argue it here.

    You were doing okay until the last paragraph which is based on completely wrong information. A full auto firearm requires an ATF class 3 license that will only be approved for a dealer so the average Joe who wants to add a full auto weapon to his collection just for fun won't be approved and the process the obtain an ATF class 3 license is an incredible PITA. There's another way to do it if it's legal in your state but it takes months and months and many dollars to get it done. So no one is running down to the local sporting goods store to buy their MP5.

    I'll quote another site for the rest: "The Machine Gun registry was closed in 1986, so unless he is an LEO or active military it will have to be what is know as a transferable gun, meaning that it was built before 1986. Since there is a limited number of those guns, they have gone way up in price."

  36. Chris says

    The other is to try and achieve it by stages. In much the same way as many other great legislative achievements started with a basic setup of something terribly inadequate but-we-could-pass-this and were gradually developed over years and decades into something reasonably effective.

    The fact that anti-gun organizations have been pursuing this strategy for decades is exactly why the NRA opposes virtually all attempts to further restrict guns, no matter how 'reasonable'. They know that the current bill is not anti-gun organizations' ultimate goal, it is merely a stepping stone to other, more severe, restrictions.

  37. says

    @Roscoe

    I think you're right that "agreeing" to be put on leave is in lieu of something else. I've had colleagues in higher education who "resigned" in lieu of being fired.

    But you're wrong in that it's not "all on the taxpayers' dime"; state institutions are seeing ever-declining state support. At my institution, only about 25% of our revenue comes from the state.

    Also, administrative leave is not vacation. As a professor, my job is 50% teaching and 50% professional development and service. There is plenty of administrative work to keep people busy indefinitely. I'm on family leave right now due to a medical issue and when I return I'll be working full time for the remainder of that semester but not teaching.

    Just being a nitpick.

  38. CJK Fossman says

    @Chris

    Surely there are measures that would help curb the mayhem without unreasonably restricting our rights under the second amendment?

    In case you're wondering, I own firearms. But I don't buy into the hysteria that restricting my ability to own a fifteen round clip means someone is going to come along and confiscate my guns.

  39. CJK Fossman says

    However, people who object to having to wait or undergo background checks to acquire fullysemi-automatic weapons would probably cope pretty badly with a switch to Australian-style gun control laws, since in order to own a fully-automatic weapon in Australia you must, by law, be the Australian Defence Force. because parts of the second amendment we like.

    @Sami
    Fixed it for you.

  40. Chris says

    Surely there are measures that would help curb the mayhem without unreasonably restricting our rights under the second amendment?

    Quite possibly. But my point is that the NRA isn't going to go along with any of them because they don't trust the anti-gun organizations and politicians to stop there.

  41. Sami says

    Sorry, I'm clearly less of an expert on guns that I might be if I lived every day in fear of being shot with one.

    To be clearer: to own something like an AR-15, you'd more-or-less need, legally, to be the ADF, here.

    Shotguns (pump-action or semi-automatic holding 5 or fewer rounds) are category C weapons. Functional category C firearms can be owned only by primary producers, occupational shooters, collectors and some clay target shooters.

    (Note that if you are a competition shooter, you must be participating in competitions regularly or you lose your gun licence.)

    The thing is, treating every kind of gun restriction as a stepping-stone to the Australian hellscape of "nobody gets shot, yet we still somehow don't live in an Orwellian nightmare" means that you don't even get to some kind of compromise sanity.

    Take the Navy Yard shooter. The poor bastard was hearing voices. Someone who's a textbook paranoid schizophrenic should not, I would argue, be allowed to purchase a gun on a whim. But somehow, the necessity of a WELL-REGULATED MILITIA for a fledgling nation-state with no standing army has become the necessity for any random whackjob who wants a weapon with only two functions – psychological penis substitution and murder – to pick one up immediately.

    If you have to wait as long to get a gun as you have to wait for pizza delivery, apparently that's violating your rights. If anyone wants to make sure you're not an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic or a wanted violent criminal, that's violating your rights.

    I'm not saying America should switch to the Australian model. Apart from anything else, I think that horse has bolted to the next town by now. But I think any country where it's more likely than not that, on any given day, there will be a mass shooting somewhere would really do well to do something about that, and I find it bewildering that that seems to be politically impossible.

  42. Chris says

    a weapon with only two functions – psychological penis substitution and murder

    I had high hopes for a reasonable discussion, but this makes it pretty clear you aren't interested.

  43. Brendan says

    I have no problem with what he said. Put it another way…If another massacre is going to happen (and lets face it, it is) and children are going to die, then given a choice between it being the children of anti-gun advocates or pro-gun advocates, I'd choose the children of the gun advocates

  44. Allen says

    An instrument of murder…

    There are dangerous people out there and no form of legislation can change that. I recall one certain event where passenger airplanes were used as an instrument of murder.

    Ban airplanes!

    That's the ticket.

  45. JTM says

    @Ken

    With regard to your reference to the University's action as a form of discipline, a paid administrative leave generally isn't considered to be disciplinary in nature, even without the employee's consent. I think it's probably legitimate to place an employee on paid leave to prevent disruption in the workplace.

    The circuit courts seem to be split on whether paid administrative leave can be deemed an adverse employment action under certain circumstances.

    It looks like the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 7th, and 8th Circuits have all taken the position that a paid administrative leave is per se not a materially adverse employment action. (See Joseph v. Leavitt (2d Cir. 2006) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1177211.html).

    The 9th Circuit, not surprisingly, disagrees. The court's decision discusses whether paid administrative leave could be reasonably likely to deter employees from engaging in protected activities, and finds that it could. (Dahlia v. Rodriguez (9th Cir. 2012) http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2012/08/07/10-55978.pdf).

    A quick Google search didn't turn up any cases on that issue in the 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas. I'd guess that the 10th would probably follow the majority of the other circuit courts, since it seems to focus heavily on whether the employee suffered monetary losses, and has held that an involuntary lateral transfer that didn't involve significant monetary losses was not an adverse action. (Vann v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. (10th Cir. 2006) http://ca10.washburnlaw.edu/cases/2006/05/05-5034.htm).

    I don't know whether the University of Kansas has taken any actions that would limit the professor's speech during the leave period (e.g., asking him not to discuss the incident during the leave, restricting access to university email or websites, barring him from campus, directing him not to contact university students). If the university just relieved him of his classroom duties, the First Amendment inquiry would probably turn on whether the professor has a First Amendment right to continue teaching his class, and I don't know that the employer is required to continue giving him access to that particular soapbox.

  46. says

    I carefully structured the statement to make it conditional, but apparently it was too much of a nuance for some people.

    Pompous prick.

  47. ysth says

    next time it should be the children of the people who support this position who suffer

    I think what he is ineptly trying to say is that he meant "next time it should be people who support this position who suffer having their children killed". Not a whole lot different, but that seems to me to be the "'distortion" he is complaining about.

    Re conditionals, apparently he meant "[should there be a] next time" – which is actually how I originally interpreted it. Call me an inadvertent optimist.

    Re NRA members (mentioned by at least one commenter), he doesn't mention members, he says just "NRA". Perhaps he, like myself, distinguishes between NRA the organization (basically a lobbying arm of the gun-makers) and the sheep, err members, that form their artillery.

    "you're a twit" – well played, sir.

  48. En Passant says

    Sami wrote Sep 23, 2013 @9:40 pm:

    I'm not saying America should switch to the Australian model. Apart from anything else, I think that horse has bolted to the next town by now. But I think any country where it's more likely than not that, on any given day, there will be a mass shooting somewhere would really do well to do something about that, and I find it bewildering that that seems to be politically impossible.

    In what country is there probability greater than .5 of a mass shooting every day?

  49. Rob Reed says

    I disagree with Ken on the fundamental assertion that if the University takes action against the professor that "would present clear 1st Amendment issues."

    As an employer the University should have the right to govern employee conduct, especially conduct that is damaging to the reputation of the University. If the University wants to discipline or terminate him based on how his statements impact the operation or reputation of the university they should have the ability to do so.

    I understand the argument that state employees are held to a different standard, I just disagree with that. They should not have extra protection above what a private sector employee would have. There should be no "second class citizens" when it comes to the 1st Amendment. If a private sector employee can be disciplined or fired for his speech, than the same should apply to a public sector employee.

  50. Anony Mouse says

    Professor Guth consenting to being put on leave probably means that it is not a First Amendment violation.

    Well, that or he figured getting a vacation without using any of his vacation time was a pretty sweet deal.

  51. Rob Reed says

    Bobbles said: "A full auto firearm requires an ATF class 3 license that will only be approved for a dealer so the average Joe who wants to add a full auto weapon to his collection just for fun won't be approved and the process the obtain an ATF class 3 license is an incredible PITA. There's another way to do it if it's legal in your state but it takes months and months and many dollars to get it done."

    Ok, there's a lot of misinformation on the legal process for machine gun (full auto firearm) ownership out there and some of it is in this thread.

    Here's the deal:

    1. Federal law allows for a private citizen to own a machine gun. You do NOT have to be a dealer or have the mythical "class III" license to do so.

    2. Federal law does say though that you can only own a machine gun if your STATE law also allows you to own a machine gun. Most states do allow machine gun ownership, but some do not.

    3. There is special Federal paperwork and a tax required for machine gun ownership. This is NOT a "class III license." A MG is transfered to a private citizen under "Form 4" transfer.

    If you want to own a machine gun, and your state law allows you to do so, here's the process:

    1. Find the machine gun you want to purchase. As a private citizen you can only own those MG's manufactured AND registered with the ATF before May 1986. Send the seller or dealer a deposit.

    2. Complete a ATF Form 4 to transfer the MG to the buyer. When you submit the Form 4 you also send in the $200 transfer tax that is required every time a machine gun is transferred from one person to another. (Dealer's don't pay this when it just goes from one MG dealer to another. But, you do pay it when it goes from the dealer to you).

    3. With the Form 4, and the tax, you also include a passport photo, fingerprints, and a signature from your "Chief Law Enforcement Officer" stating that he does not know of any reason you can not legally own a MG. (Some LEO's will not sign, you can try other options, such as a Sheriff instead of your local Chief or Police, or State Police, etc. The ATF does have a procedure to approve the transfer if you can't get ANYONE to sign, but it adds some complications).

    4. The ATF receives the completed Form 4, with fingerprints, photo, and LEO sign off, cashes the $200 check (the fastest thing they do) and then reviews the paperwork and approves the transfer. This can take anywhere from two months to a year, depending on ATF backlog.

    5. When the Form 4 is approved it is sent to the dealer or seller. They then contact you to pick up your MG. (If the seller was in another state he had to sent it to a MG dealer in your state first, typically. And, at some point, you'll pay the seller the rest of the money)

    The whole process seems daunting at first but is actually pretty straightforward and well understood by MG dealers and collectors. Any MG dealer can walk you through it and there are plenty of "regular folks" who own MG's.

    If you want to be a MG dealer you first obtain a regular FFL dealer license, than pay for an "endorsement" to allow you to deal in weapons such as MG's, short barreled rifles, and silencers. A regular gun dealer (standard FFL) can NOT deal in these items. This is as close to the mythical "Class III" license that people seem to think you need to own a MG. (I say "mythical" because you don't need a blanket license to own a MG, you just need your Form 4 approved, and the license to deal in MG's is actually a "Type 07 FFL" not a "class III license."

  52. Rob says

    Perhaps he, like myself, distinguishes between NRA the organization (basically a lobbying arm of the gun-makers) and the sheep, err members, that form their artillery.

    The gun makers have their own lobbying organization. It's called the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

    The NRA is its members. The members elect the board, and the NRA gets the vast majority of its operating budget from its dues-paying members. Also, lobbying is not the majority of what the NRA does. It was initially founded to promote marksmanship and provide firearms training, and that remains its largest mission. The vast majority of firearms training in this country is provided by NRA-certified instructors.

    This is why the NRA wins. People like you dismiss the NRA as just another industry lobbying group, but they are more than that. They are backed by their members (who actually more often than not tend to think the NRA isn't extreme enough), and those members vote.

  53. HandOfGod137 says

    @Rob

    This is why the NRA wins. People like you dismiss the NRA as just another industry lobbying group, but they are more than that. They are backed by their members (who actually more often than not tend to think the NRA isn't extreme enough), and those members vote.

    This isn't really germane to the subject of free speech, but as it's being discussed (and with the obvious caveat that we foreigners undoubtedly don't get the history and culture surrounding the issue), you appear quite, quite insane. A naive reading of the 2nd Amendment looks like a simple directive that, should the Redcoats come back again, it would be a good idea to have a few guns about the place. Speaking as a Redcoat, let me say: you're fine, chaps; we're not really in the empire business any more. And if we were, there's no way we could match the casualty numbers you appear to inflict on one another.

  54. jeff says

    @En Passant

    > In what country is there probability greater than .5 of a mass shooting every day?

    That depends on your definition of "mass shooting". Many seem to be using a definition that requires 4 or more deaths to result from the shooting. Using that definition, there have been 270 mass shootings this year in the U.S., substantially greater than .5 per day.

    The problem with the latter definition is that it includes a lot of events that don't get substantial media attention and have little national awareness. It almost seems that in order for it to count as a mass shooting, CNN has to show up.

    The real point is that you manage what you measure. If you focus on only the big news items, you'll ignore the much larger number of deaths that are occurring virtually every day in the U.S. from gun violence. A gun policy that only focuses on the media driven events won't be very effective in addressing the others.
    Jeff

  55. jeff says

    OK, I have no idea what happened to that last post. It was mangled, somehow, merging two different paragraphs addressing different definitions of "mass shooting". The amazing thing is that the merged paragraph is grammatically correct. Just factually wrong.

    Trying again: if "mass shooting" means more than 4 dead, then there have been less than 20, which means less than .5 per day in the U.S. If "mass shooting" means more than 4 SHOT (which would make more sense), then there have been more then 270 so far in 2013 in the U.S., which is more than .5 per day.

    Maybe the problems were caused by my use of greater than and less than signs without escaping them. Sorry for the confusion.

  56. A. Nagy says

    That's because CNN doesn't like to report on mass shootings that involve 1 gang shooting at another because it doesn't resonate with the average person.

    Not to mention Secret clearance normally requires a bit more checks then any of the proposed gun legislation so far and somehow he got though.

  57. Tarrou says

    Well said in the OP, Ken.

    As to the continuing and depressingly familiar argument over why the US can't be like X (switzerland, australia, england etc.), The US is bigger, with more people and more different groups than any of these countries. Small, largely urban countries like Japan with high levels of ethnic solidarity can do things we can't, politically. So too can Finland, Denmark, so on and so forth. England is about the size of one medium state, has about a sixth our population and has no ethnic minorities that make up more than 2% of the population. There are serious structural differences beyond gun policy.

    And those who hold up places like England would do well to look at the overall violence levels. Yes, the US murder rate is higher, and was before England instituted gun control. The violence levels for assault, rape, attempted murder and the like are all many multiples higher in England. If guns are the only difference (silly, of course, but that's the argument), then those who argue that are basically calling for the US to experience five more rapes, fifty more aggravated assaults and seven more attempted murders to reduce one murder. I'm not sure how many rapes "count" as a murder, but I'm not convinced tolerating massively higher assault rates is worth a 60% reduction in the murder rate.

  58. Pablo says

    His point – that those who advocate policy should be the ones who experience any tragic consequences that result – is reasonable as far as I'm concerned.

    Well, no. It isn't. None of the policies that anti-2nd Amendment forces have advocated would have prevented the Navy Yard shooting. There was no "assault weapon" no "high-capacity" (read "standard size, included with the firearm") magazines and the killer went through more background checks than and of the proposed laws would have required.

    There is one proposed policy change that might have prevented this slaughter and the ones in Tuscon and Aurora, among others. That policy change is one proposed and promoted by the NRA. Then, of course, there's the NRA advocacy for concealed carry, which was banned at Navy Yard, that might have allowed someone to plug Alexis before half an hour of carnage passed.

    So, while the NRA has policies that could have prevented and or mitigated this bloodshed, Guth has his ignorance, his bile and his hatred. I'd suggest that next time he gets an urge to publicly jam his foot in his mouth, he should consider choosing another object, à la Bud Dwyer. I'd even give him a loaner!

    Me, I just wish that those who want the 2nd Amendment repealed would just nut up and say so.

  59. Kilroy says

    #measlesdeath the death is on the hands of the #anti-vaccinemovement. Next time, let it be your sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God Damn you.

    doesn't seem so bad when you change the context. tweet still doesn't bother me.

  60. Dan Irving says

    @Pablo – they don't want the 2nd repealed. They just want it to only apply to state agents because you know, state actors have never ever abused the power entrusted to them.

  61. Steven H. says

    @Sami:

    "To be clearer: to own something like an AR-15, you'd more-or-less need, legally, to be the ADF, here."

    An AR-15 is NOT fully automatic. It is functionally the same as my .22LR semi-auto (yes, I own one, as well as a .22 bolt-action – side-effect of inheriting my father-in-laws guns along with my own) and not nearly so deadly as, well, a 12gauge shotgun, or a .303 Lee-Enfield…

    AR-15 is the hat-piece of the anti-gunners primarily because it looks like it should be EVIL!!!

    It should be noted, by the by, that in both the latest attempts at an "assault weapon" ban and the previous one (in '94), the AR-15 was on the ban list, while the mini-14 (which is functionally identical, but looks like a "normal" gun was on the EXEMPT list)

  62. Pablo says

    The thing is, treating every kind of gun restriction as a stepping-stone to the Australian hellscape of "nobody gets shot, yet we still somehow don't live in an Orwellian nightmare" means that you don't even get to some kind of compromise sanity.

    Y'all still have murder, right? Is there something special about being shot that makes it worse than being stabbed or beaten to death?

  63. beingmarkh says

    @ Jacob Henner

    Interesting! I had a vague notion of the jussive, but had it restricted to formulations contextually and structurally resembling those of the sort constructed by using the word "lest".

    Still and all, the jussive indicates desired outcomes, not conditional ones, so I stand by my assertion that the tweet in question isn't a conditional, and certainly not a "carefully constructed" one.

  64. Mike says

    I communicated clearly. The fact that no one understood what I was saying is obviously their problem, not mine.

    I wonder how a responsible professor of journalism would react to a student saying something as inane as that.

  65. Dan Weber says

    One is to give up and accept that there will be a mass shooting almost every day in the United States of America

    Wat.

    any country where it's more likely than not that, on any given day, there will be a mass shooting somewhere

    Interesting backing off, but still way way wrong.

    The US has about 20 mass shootings a year. Maybe this sounds like a lot, and to anyone involved in them it is, but Americans are not really at risk of dying in a mass shooting.

    Tuberculosis, skin cancer, Hodgkin's disease, malnutrition, influenza, appendix diseases: each of these, individually, kill more people a year than mass shootings. And those things aren't anywhere near the top 10 themselves. (From the CDC.)

    Hey, even "legal intervention" gets more people a year than mass shootings. You are more likely to be killed by cop than to be killed in a mass shooting.

    More people die of car accidents each day than die in mass shootings in a year. More people die of "other (non-motor vehicle) land transport accidents" each month than die in mass shootings in a year.

    Feel free to be afraid of dying in a mass shooting, but there's no reason for it.

  66. HandOfGod137 says

    @Tarrou

    It would be dishonest to claim the UK does not have crimes of violence, but the "many multiples higher in England" meme has been shown to be incorrect. For a start, it originated in the Daily Mail (aka Daily Fail), but more importantly does not compare equivalent sets of crimes. For a full explanation of the error, the following link is a good source:

    http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/01/12/fact-checking-ben-swann-is-the-uk-really-5-times-more-violent-than-the-us/

  67. CJK Fossman says

    my point is that the NRA isn't going to go along with any of them because they don't trust the anti-gun organizations and politicians to stop there.

    If the NRA went along with any of these suggestions the hysteria might subside a bit. If the hysteria subsides, maybe the need for the NRA subsides along with it.

    Can't have that.

  68. mcinsand says

    @HandofGod,

    The Daily Mail isn't the only source. Check out:

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/crime/crime_stats_oecdjan2012.pdf

    This report gets data from the UN survey on crime trends ( http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime.html ). In this report, homicides are higher in the US, although, if firearms access were the reason, the difference would be far greater. For assault, there are 2.8 times more per capita in England than the US, and generally more in Europe, but that may be because we don't follow soccer (flag: a weak attempt at a joke).

  69. CJK Fossman says

    Americans are not really at risk of dying in a mass shooting.

    Tuberculosis, skin cancer, Hodgkin's disease, malnutrition, influenza, appendix diseases: each of these, individually, kill more people a year than mass shootings. And those things aren't anywhere near the top 10 themselves. (From the CDC.)

    Hey, even "legal intervention" gets more people a year than mass shootings. You are more likely to be killed by cop than to be killed in a mass shooting.

    Knowing all that, why would any rational person carry a gun for self protection? Especially when, as others have pointed out, gun deaths as a whole are not high on the list of causes of death.

    Add to that, if the cops are responding to a "shots fired" incident and you're one of the guys holding a gun, you have a pretty good chance of dying in a hail of police gunfire.

  70. Pablo says

    @CJK Fossman Per the CDC:

    “almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.”

    Mass shootings wouldn't be a primary reason to carry. They certainly aren't for the cops.

  71. Derp Derp Derp says

    When does it say children should be killed? Newtown isn't specifically referenced and the Navy yard shooting didn't involve children. Everybody is somebody's son or daughter but not everybody is a child. Lots of people's sons and daughters are adults… wishing murder on adults is less offensive than on children because the latter are more vulnerable, contributing to the outrage. his tweet is stupid but the attention its getting is disproportionate to its actual content. Really it seems relatively slow pitch/proportionate to most Internet rhetoric.

    People should just stop using real names on Twitter. No one gives a damn about inflammatory speech from some anon. These consequences are only an effect of him being s professor, he's not even a famous professor. He is nobody.

    I do agree with Ken that allowing trolls to shape your behavior is dangerous. It seems likely to invite more trolling.

  72. Derp Derp Derp says

    @CJK Fossman

    I follow good hygene and health practices to protect myself from dangerous microorganisms and virii. I would carry a gun to protect myself from dangerous macro organisms and villains. If You do everything you reasonably can do to protect yourself then you can rest easy knowing you are responsible for your own safety.if anything should go wrong there was nothing more you could have done. As a responsible person you can do no less.

  73. CJK Fossman says

    The NRA is its members. The members elect the board

    Less than ten percent of the NRA membership voted in the last board election.

    Twenty-nine of the thirty-one candidates were picked by the nominating committee.

    NRA management selects the nominating committee. Just like any for-profit corporation.

  74. says

    @ Sami

    Clean up your own house before you lecture us:

    Gun Crime 'Out of Control' Despite Strict Australia Laws
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/08/21/Aussie-Politician-Complains-About-U-S-Gun-Laws-But-Gun-Crime-In-Sydney-Is-Out-Of-Control

    Australia is an island, right? And guns are banned, right? So how did this happen?

    @HandOfGod137

    Britain saw gun crimes INCREASE after they banned guns in 1997. That's in addition to the overal increase in violent crime rates. Tony Blair's daughter just got robbed at gunpoint last week. On an island where guns are banned.

    And while you might like to falsely claim that the stats don't support such observations, the fact is that Britain has been systematically cooking their crime reports for decades (such as only counting cases where a murderer was convicted as "homicides") to make themselves appear less violent than they are:

    http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_british-crime.html

    If gun control was an effective tactic, places that have strict gun control would be the safest places to be. For example, places like the new murder capital of the USA, Chicago, which is also an epicenter of strict gun control.

    Gun control doesn't work. Stop kidding yourselves.

  75. A. Nagy says

    If the NRA went along with any of these suggestions the hysteria might subside a bit. If the hysteria subsides, maybe the need for the NRA subsides along with it.

    Can't have that.

    It would subside until the next shooting, and there will always be another shooting.

  76. Shane says

    @Sami

    The result of this is that any legislation which would *definitely* have an impact on gun violence in general and mass shootings in particula

    The problem is that you and others like you don't not understand that a mass shooting means that multiple people are shot and killed regardless of the reason. I didn't see the POTUS come out with more gun control arguments when this happened. Nor was he on hand to comfort the stricken, and pose with the children in the hospitals. Because you see gang related crimes (the real reason most Americans want guns) won't stop because of ANY laws that we pass, and when the well funded gangs can't get guns from the populace then they will get them from the police or army. Good luck stopping that.

    The thing that bothers me the most is when people of other countries that have gun control laws seem so irritated buy America's lack of gun laws. I never once see these people say something to the effect of "come to my country" we are sane about guns, and I suspect the real reason that they don't do this is because they know that their own house is not very sane. If your country is so safe and wonderful then why are you so mad?

  77. Megan says

    I know it's beside the point, but a grammatical mistake in a sentence where you're calling someone else a twit is pretty funny. Or just really sly?

  78. Shane says

    @Brendan

    … being the children of anti-gun advocates or pro-gun advocates, I'd choose the children of the gun advocates

    Why the children, why not the parents. Because the truth is that the parents have a fighting chance of bring down the scumbag. Their children … not so much.

  79. HandOfGod137 says

    @Gunnutmegger

    If gun control was an effective tactic, places that have strict gun control would be the safest places to be. For example, places like the new murder capital of the USA, Chicago, which is also an epicenter of strict gun control.

    I didn't claim England was without violence, I was merely pointing out that the oft-quoted "fives times more crime" figure is based on dodgy maths (and given that your linked piece is from The Manhattan Institute, quotes the Daily Mail and is written by the author of "Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too", I'd be wary of dodgy maths from it, too).

    There is one figure that seems fairly unequivocal, however: homicides per 100,000 population. The Civitas document linked by mcinsand above gives the rate as 5.0 for the USA, 1.1 for England. So yes, as it happens, I do feel quite a bit safer from the risk of meeting my end at the hand of another here. And in response to Shane, please do come to my country: we make great cups of tea, cricket is the sport of kings and you probably won't get shot.

  80. Shane says

    @HandofGod137

    … should the Redcoats come back again, it would be a good idea to have a few guns about the place.

    We were subjects of the Crown for quite some time and and didn't really have a problem with it until, the Crown decided that they wanted to get more blood from the turnip than it could easily provide. The second amendment wasn't just for when the Redcoats came back, but also from our experience that when we were all one big happy family, our government became dangerous to us. I don't think that others in other countries don't get this, I think that they think that it can't happen again to them. This I assert that this is the fallacy of foreigners commenting on guns in America.

  81. Shane says

    @HandofGod137

    And if we were, there's no way we could match the casualty numbers you appear to inflict on one another.

    Gun or other?

  82. Xenocles says

    "Sorry, I'm clearly less of an expert on guns that I might be if I lived every day in fear of being shot with one."

    There are many ways to deal with a correction to one's ignorance; pride in that ignorance is not among those that I would recommend.

  83. Shane says

    @HandofGod137

    And in response to Shane, please do come to my country: we make great cups of tea, cricket is the sport of kings and you probably won't get shot.

    I would love to come visit your country. I would also love to visit NY City too. I really don't think that I will be involved in some sort of crime there because I do everything in my power to stay away from spots that might be problems, but forgive me if I purchase a knife as soon as feasibly possible, because truth be told if I can't get away and my wallet didn't satiate the need of the bugger that is trying to mug me, I would like to have a few options left other than pleading for mercy from someone that has clearly shown that they have no mercy.

  84. Sinij says

    I don't understand why these arguments always devolve into "against all guns" vs. "for all guns". US is clearly into "too easy to get a gun" territory. Straw purchases, gun show sales doctrine. You don't need to completely ban guns for lawful citizens to make them harder to get for criminals. Surely, keeping guns out of insane and convicted felons is something everyone can agree on?

  85. Steven H. says

    @Sinij:

    "US is clearly into "too easy to get a gun" territory. Straw purchases, gun show sales doctrine. You don't need to completely ban guns for lawful citizens to make them harder to get for criminals. "

    So, how, exactly, do you distinguish between a "straw purchase" (me buying a gun for my brother, since he wants one of these guns, and they're not available where he is (last time this came up, the rifle in question was an SMLE)) and a perfectly normal purchase (me buying an SMLE for myself)?

    As to gun shows, note that any gun dealer is required by law to do the same background checks when he sells at a gun show, his normal place of business, his home, or anywhere else he sells from. The so-called "gunshow loophole" is about someone like me going to a gunshow and selling a gun without a background check. Note that if I sell a gun at home, that I am NOT required to do a background check. Note further that if I really wanted to sell a gun at a gun show without a background check, closing the "gunshow loophole" would just mean the buyer and I would have to go across the street to do the sale perfectly legally (first sale doctrine, and all that).

    "Surely, keeping guns out of insane and convicted felons is something everyone can agree on?"

    So, how do you decide who is insane?
    And do you believe that someone convicted of, say, embezzling really needs to have his 2A Rights restricted?

  86. Sinij says

    How? By accepting and internalizing that right to bear guns in not absolute. Society has an effective way to track car and regulate car ownership – we have such concepts as vehicle registration, mandatory liability insurance, and operator's permits. As a result there are almost no cars on the road where ownership is unknown. At the same time access to car ownership is largely unrestricted.

  87. Frank says

    @Sinij

    You are making the same mistake that all of the other "gun control" advocates make. Your logic is that by making guns harder for LAW ABIDING Citizens to get that you are going to also make it harder for the criminals to get.

    I have bad news for you. Criminals very rarely stroll into the local gun shop to get their weapons. In addition, by the very nature of their occupation, that of criminal, they really don't give a shit what sort of laws you pass, they will break them. Schools are "gun free" zones. It doesn't seem to be stopping people. Military bases are also "gun free" zones for civilians. For that matter, thanks to Bill Clinton, it is mostly illegal for even most military personnel to be armed with loaded weapons on military bases.

    The answer isn't to create new laws. The answer is to enforce the EXISTING laws. The guy that went onto the Navy Yard and had shot up the place had TWO previous police contacts for illegally discharging his weapon at his home. Not ONCE was he arrested for it. That means that, despite two police contacts for illegal actions involving firearms, he STILL had a clean police record.

  88. Steven H. says

    @Sami:

    "Sorry, I'm clearly less of an expert on guns that I might be if I lived every day in fear of being shot with one."

    Y'know, in spite of owning firearms for nearly 40 years, and using them for even longer, and being surrounded by people who own and use guns, I have NEVER found myself "in fear of being shot by one".

  89. says

    "The Founding Fathers had gun laws so restrictive that today’s NRA leaders would never support them: broad bans on possession of firearms by people thought to be untrustworthy; militia laws that required people to appear at musters where the government would inspect their guns; safe-storage laws that made armed self-defense difficult; and even early forms of gun registration."

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/17/the-second-amendment-is-all-for-gun-control.html

  90. Shane says

    @Sinji

    I don't understand why these arguments always devolve into "against all guns" vs. "for all guns".

    I agree completely unfortunately two things happen when negotiating gun laws:
    1) The concerns of the pro-gun stance are cast aside with a moral justification that goes something like: "… you own guns, guns are only used to kill, therefore you are a killer". And then new gun laws are crafted.
    2) Some sort of consensus is crafted between the pro/anti factions and a piece of legislation is then advanced and passed. Then the said piece of legislation is co-opted or hijacked to limit gun rights well beyond it's initial intent.

    Pro-gun groups (and individuals) have grown increasingly weary and tired of these two tactics and now pretty much oppose all legislation.

    The final thought about this is this. Gun rights advocates have everything to lose and nothing to gain, anti-gun advocates have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This sets up a very difficult negotiating position.

  91. Shane says

    @Sinji

    How? By accepting and internalizing that right to bear guns in not absolute.

    And this is why there is a stalemate.

    How can I negotiate in good faith with you if you are coming from this place?

  92. Shane says

    @Sinji

    I should read your posts fully before commenting :(

    As a result there are almost no cars on the road where ownership is unknown. At the same time access to car ownership is largely unrestricted.

    And how has this helped with accidents? And the other crazy thing is just because someone registers a car doesn't really mean we know anything about that person or his/her vehicle. So why do we need to know about all of these vehicles when it doesn't make shit bit of difference on accident rates or insurance coverage? One reason, so that we can tax them. That is it.

    Having guns registered brings no more to the table then having cars registered. Because in the end knowing the address (maybe) of the gun buyer won't stop them from using the gun illegally, think get away car in a bank robbery. How does knowing who that car belongs to help in any way?

    The downside of all of this knowing who owns the guns, is that it is possible in the future to go to the address of the gun owners and demand the guns. Since this isn't likely to happen with car ownership, registration has gone pretty much unimpeded.

  93. A. Nagy says

    @Frank it was the first Bush not Clinton that started it, the process just rolled out under Clinton.

  94. says

    @SIV–It is pretty common knowledge that gun possession was regularly denied to those who were not thought to be "trustworthy."

    The author is a constitutional law professor. If you think he's lying, simply buy his book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America", and you can see his sources I'm sure.

  95. Ryan says

    I hesitate to wade into any debate about "gun control" because I know these topics never accomplish anything (particularly when we're talking about gun control in the USA), but I have one piece of information to offer:

    I'm Canadian. I have a restricted/non-restricted firearms license. What this means is this:
    1. I've completed a basic safety course in the handling and use of firearms. I had to do this to even apply for a license.
    2. I have undergone a background check, which included three personal references regarding character. And if any person had any concerns about my owning/possessing firearms, especially my wife, they can call the firearms center to have that noted.
    3. I can walk into any gun store in Canada and buy any non-restricted weapon (most shotguns and rifles) off the shelf with the required ammunition and take it home whenever I please. I can do the same in American states that allow immediate purchase and import it to Canada too.
    4. If I want a restricted weapon (some rifles, shotguns, and most handguns), I can also buy that pretty much immediately, but I have to register it with my licensing details. And there are some pretty onerous requirements on where I can take it and how it must be stored.
    5. With all firearms, I have to store them in accordance with common-sense storage laws (e.g. I can't keep it loaded under my pillow/bed where anyone can grab it and shoot it).
    6. I can carry most firearms in my vehicle for a legitimate purpose – hunting, target shooting, predator defense, etc. Note that I can't carry around a gun in my car for protection because I think I might get shot in traffic.
    7. I can carry most of them around on my person for a legitimate purpose too.
    8. If I have reason for a specific fear of a threat to my person or a person under my protection, I can get permission to concealed-carry a handgun or other firearm with me under specific circumstances.

    So, what can I do with a gun?

    Own and possess for recreation and protection – check.
    Carry for certain purposes, including recreation and protection – check.
    Store in my home – check.
    Store in my vehicle – check.
    Lend to a licensed friend or relative – check.
    Sell to another license holder – check.

    All of this with mandatory licensing and limited registration of certain weapon types.

    And Canada's violent crime and homicide rates are dramatically lower than the US, although there is significant regional variance in both nations that is explained by demographics.

    The big issue that non-Americans get hung up on is this: we're all for firearms ownership. I'm a gun owner, I'm not afraid of guns, I think they're useful tools, and I would be VERY upset if our government ever tried to pass legislation making them illegal to own. No one is proposing that. However, I am FIRMLY on the side that with rights to ownership comes responsibilities: to be trained, to be responsible in use, to comply with the law, and to submit to certain restrictions on my ownership in order to prevent people who should not own and possess firearms from easily acquiring them. We look at the United States and shake our heads in disbelief at a country that is otherwise so rational and the way a great deal of its populace becomes completely irrational (guns and gun owners are evil / RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS!) when you start talking about a really fun tool and recreational device that has the side effect of making it really easy to kill/wound a lot of living things very easily when misused.

    Just a little perspective from another foreigner. I don't want to argue about these factoids; just something for people to think on if they like (in other words, I won't be devolving into a fact-by-fact debate on this).

  96. Shane says

    One other quick note to others that are not from the U.S. The U.S. is a very big place (duh!), but between states laws can vary dramatically. Also between states statistics surrounding guns can also vary dramatically. Arguing gun deaths for the U.S. and number of guns is disingenuous. Illinois and Texas are two very different places in terms of gun homicides and gun ownership, and yet both are part of the U.S. Illinois and Texas are alos only two states in the U.S. and each state is vastly different in terms of gun ownership and associated laws and gun related deaths.

  97. Frank says

    @A. Nagy

    I was still in the military when Bush Sr. was President. All of the military bases were still armed at that time that I was at or visited.

  98. Frank says

    @Daryl

    How is that different than now? The difference being that in today's society felon=untrustworthy.

    Sounds like a bogus argument to me.

  99. C. S. P. Schofield says

    If Guth had responded to criticism with "F*ck all of you. I meant what I said. I believe that the NRA advocates policies that lead to mass shootings, and hope this comes back to haunt them in the most painful way possible." I would consider him to be a man of principle. Also an idiot…but an idiot with principles.

    After this "apology"? He's just another Hot-House Liberal; so accustomed to being surrounded by like-minded pillocks that he's genuinely shocked to find there are people who disagree with him. He wasn't making a statement of principle, he was looking for approbation from the echo chamber.

  100. says

    @Frank–It's Darryl.

    It is not a bogus argument. The argument is that the whole "I get to carry what I want where I want when I want" argument is fallacious and not faithful to what the Founding Fathers understood and meant by the Second Amendment. That is the sum of the argument.

  101. Frank says

    @Ryan

    I am in a state with fairly permissive gun laws and have also been an apprentice gunsmith. I would like to take the time to answer some of your items in your itemized list.

    1. Basic firearms training and licensing. With firearms being a RIGHT granted to us under our Constitution, not a privilege like driving is, we should not HAVE to license ourselves to own or carry firearms. I do, however, believe that people should be trained to used them. And they used to have such training in schools as an opt-in class until the anti-gun crew complained that these classes were promoting gun violence just by offering them.

    2. When you purchase a new firearm, unless they changed the form number, you have to fill out a Form 4473 and under-go a background check when you purchase a weapon at a gun shop. It has been this way for a long time now. The exception to this rule is private sale between two individuals, which includes private sale at gun shows. Businesses that sell at gun shows are STILL required to do the appropriate background checks and paperwork.

    3. No rebuttal. Although I am not sure that an American could buy a weapon in Canada. I've never tried…

    4. Here, we cannot purchase a weapon immediately, we have a "cooling off" period of seven days when attempting to purchase a weapon. Part of this is to ensure that we're not buying a weapon "in the heat of the moment" and to give the gun shop time to perform the background check. We have no requirements as to how weapons are stored once you have purchased them.

    5. As I stated in number 4, we have no storage requirements for weapons, however, I would like to point out that you won't exactly have time to go running to your gun safe to get a weapon when you need one in an emergency situation. Personally I keep two weapons "at hand" (read out of the gun safe) for just such situations. Both weapons are loaded and one in the chamber with the safety on. One is in the headboard of my bed and one is in the closet of my bedroom. BOTH of my children know where they are and BOTH of my children are trained on how to use them should the need arise. They are both in their mid to late teens and have been taught the proper way to handle firearms since they were both very small.

    6. We can carry firearms both open and concealed in our vehicles. I would like to take the time to point out, once again, I am in a state with very open gun laws. Other states may differ. We do not have to have a "specific reason" to carry one around in the car. We can carry one "for the hell of it", if we would like. "Because I might get shot in traffic" is a perfectly legitimate reason to carry a weapon in your car, even if your government doesn't think so.

    7. I am presuming that your "legitimate purposes" in this number is the same as the "legitimate purposes" in your statement number 6. Personal self-defense doesn't seem to be a "legitimate purpose" in your country. Here, we can carry both open and concealed without a permit for any reason, including "just for the hell of it". For the record, the state in which I live has a very high quotient of people that carry weapons for self-defense, and a very low quotient for firearm related crimes.

    8. We do not need a specific threat to carry a weapon. We can do so simply because it is our right to do so.

    The only firearm "registration" that applies to where I live is Title II (fully-automatic) weapons. This is a Federal requirement, not a state requirement. Once Federally registered through the BATF, if I wanted to, I could carry around a fully automatic M60 machine gun if I wanted to. Not that I would. It would be heavy…..hehehehe

    Gun control laws do NOT impact criminals getting weapons. Gun control laws do NOT stop criminals from shooting and killing people. Criminals don't say, "Well crap. I can't rob this store with a gun. Guns are illegal here." If that were the case, the firearms related deaths in Chicago, Detroit, and Washington DC would be DRAMATICALLY lower than what they currently are.

    The problem here in the United States isn't that we do not have enough laws regulating firearms. It's that there isn't enough ENFORCEMENT of the existing laws. A prime example being the Navy Yard shooter. He had already had run-ins with law enforcement with regards to the ILLEGAL usage of firearms and was NEVER ONCE arrested for it.

  102. Frank says

    Darryl,

    Show me where you personally know what the Founding Fathers meant with regards to the Second Amendment, because it specifically says that the RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

    That's pretty cut and dry to me.

  103. Frank says

    @A. Nagy

    Thank you. I had not seen that. I only saw the results of the law under Clinton.

    With that in mind, Shame on Bush senior for disarming our military bases. One MP with a loaded weapon could have potentially stopped this tragedy.

  104. says

    @SIV–It is pretty common knowledge that gun possession was regularly denied to those who were not thought to be "trustworthy."

    Cite? What laws? Are you referring to slaves?

    The author is a constitutional law professor.

    Lol! APPEAL TO AUTHORITAH!

  105. Frank says

    @SIV

    Apparently Darryl doesn't take into account that a large part of academia, even Constitutional law scholars, have a decidedly Liberal bent.

  106. Frank says

    One of the things that I think is ironic is that the people that scream the loudest against the Second Amendment are also the ones that scream the loudest FOR the First Amendment.

    Without the Second Amendment, it wouldn't be a very long time, depending on who came into "power" before there was no First Amendment. History has proven that time and time again.

  107. Steven H. says

    @Darryl:

    "militia laws that required people to appear at musters where the government would inspect their guns;"

    The Militia Act. It's still in effect. It even defines "the militia" in clear enough ways that even the anti-gun-types can be confused.

    Basically, the militia is EVERYONE (adult only, of course – children need not apply, nor women, though modern Equal Rights laws would pretty much make that restrictin illegal).
    And the purpose of inspecting your guns is to verify that the guns are suitable for military service (today, that would mean everyone has to own an M16/M4).

    Note that the Militia Act does NOT require inspection of ALL your guns, only the ones you planned to use if/when the militia was called out.

    Note also that the officers charged with those inspections were State Militia Officers, NOT the Feds.

  108. says

    @
    Frank

    One of the things that I think is ironic is that the people that scream the loudest against the Second Amendment are also the ones that scream the loudest FOR the First Amendment.

    I disagree. In my experience those with no respect for the 2nd usually don't think much of the 1st either. Citizens United, hate speech, rape triggers, SoCons passing out Bibles at gay pride festivals etc and always with the "You can't yell fire…" OWHs quote. First Amendment absolutists tend to accept the 2nd Amendment, even if only begrudgingly.

  109. says

    And again I point out: What about the rights of Kansas taxpayers not to be forced to pay for someone to advocate the murder of their children?

    Guth is paid by a state university. The state university gets a lot of its funding from taxpayers. These taxpayers cannot simply refuse to pay his salary, as taxes are extracted at government gunpoint. What recourse do they have other than calling for his ouster?

    This is, incidentally, why, while Ward Churchill was still employed by the University of Colorado, I voted against any and all ballot measures that would provide additional benefit to the University. As long as they continued to employ someone spewing forth vile accusations and insinuations opposed to everything I believe, I reasoned, they didn't deserve any more of my money.

  110. says

    @Erbo:

    And again I point out: What about the rights of Kansas taxpayers not to be forced to pay for someone to advocate the murder of their children?

    What are the contours of this right?

    Do Kansas taxpayers have a right not to be forced to pay professors who say the Earth was created more than 6,000 years ago? Do taxpayers in Massachusetts have a right not to be forced to pay professors who criticize communism as a failed and inherently totalitarian system? Do the taxpayers in my nutty state of California have a right not to be forced to pay professors who argue that nothing in the U.S. Constitution confers a right to gay marriage?

    What is the principled, achievable distinction that limits this right to something more than "taxpayers have a right not to have state professors say things they don't like?"

  111. Sami says

    Shane: I never once see these people say something to the effect of "come to my country" we are sane about guns, and I suspect the real reason that they don't do this is because they know that their own house is not very sane. If your country is so safe and wonderful then why are you so mad?

    But why would I tell you that? It's an inadequate reason to move halfway around the world, in many respects, and besides that I have no reason to think we would *want* you in my country, specifically, and for Americans generally… no. Firstly, because there's fifteen or so times as many of you as there are of us, and we don't have enough housing for all of you to come here. We don't have enough *water* for all of you to come here, most of this continent is desert. Secondly because while individual Americans tend to be among the loveliest people on Earth, for some reason y'all get crazy in large numbers.

    As for why this issue bothers me… Gosh, I don't know why senseless murders would bother me when they happen outside my own country. I guess I just fail at being a fucking sociopath.

  112. Xenocles says

    "What is the principled, achievable distinction that limits this right to something more than "taxpayers have a right not to have state professors say things they don't like?""

    I suppose one such distinction could be drawn from the same principle that underlies the desire for a separation of education and state and/or a separation of science and state.

  113. mcinsand says

    @Frank,

    Is the waiting period a state issue? I was surprised last month to find that it is seemingly absent in one of my state's counties. A couple of us were going to purchase handguns for target shooting, and my state requires a purchase permit form for the purchaser's county, and the county sherrif's department must approve the form. In my county, you could say that there is a defacto waiting period, with the approval taking a week. When I went with my girlfriend to the sherrif's department for her county, they ran the background check while we waited. After a few minutes, they handed back the approved form, and told her that she was free to purchase immediately if she had a deal in mind.

    Ah. I remember firearms training in high school health class. In a country where a person might decide to own a firearm at some point in time, the class is a good idea. My Dad was a lot more strict than the class, though, and we only kept firearms for recreation. When not in use, firearms were locked in one area, ammunition locked in a totally different part of the house, and heaven help anyone caught breaking protocol. The same was true with respect to safe handling.

    As for fears, the other cars on the interstate during my drive to work are far more of a risk than anyone else's firearm. I'm happy with the checks that we have on firearms, but I truly wish that we would clamp down on the requirements to drive a motor vehicle. Additional controls will have about the same effect prohibition had on alcohol or the drug laws have on keeping marijuana out of the schools; organized crime is the only true beneficiary. Some friends have been calling for sky-high ammunition taxes, but that would be the same deal. If you slap a $10 tax on an item that takes pennies to make, then sub-legal shops will set up to make the item for sale at $2 each… and crime gets a new cash cow.

  114. says

    @
    mcinsand

    North Carolina?

    There is no Fed waiting period unless there is a prob with the instant check. You can skip that in many states if you have whatever passes for a toting license.

  115. Sad Panda says

    Tom nailed it; this is hyperbole aimed at the NRA, born of frustration. Of course it isn't helpful Second Amendment political discourse, but neither is treating it like a literal statement.

    Let him crawl back under his bridge and move on.

    Also I agree with mcinsand; stricter driver licensing would reduce "fatality by dangerous weapon" much more effectively than stricter gun licensing. There's probably room for both, though.

  116. David C says

    What is the principled, achievable distinction that limits this right to something more than "taxpayers have a right not to have state professors say things they don't like?"

    Well, what if his tweet had directed a statement akin to "I hope you die" at the students in his class instead of the NRA? Wouldn't that be inappropriate and worthy of sanctions?

    Of course, he didn't do that; he directed it the NRA and their children. But what if some of his students are, in fact, NRA members? Or perhaps worse, the children of NRA members? Can you publicly wish death and/or eternal damnation on some of your students and still be able to teach them effectively?

  117. Demosthenes says

    @ Ken

    "What is the principled, achievable distinction that limits this right to something more than 'taxpayers have a right not to have state professors say things they don't like?'"

    There is a difference between the following two scenarios:

    1) Me stating that I find Ken White's positions (political, social, economic, religious, whatever) wrong, and that people who hold those positions are either ignorant or stupid.

    2) Me stating that I find Ken White's positions wrong, and that I hope to God he/his relatives suffer for his ignorance or stupidity.

    Now I wouldn't actually say either of those things — even when I do disagree with you, as I do now about Prof. Guth, your opinion is well-reasoned and you demonstrate a command of the relevant facts. You are clearly neither ignorant nor stupid…you have a somewhat different set of value commitments than I do, but you have that right, and defending that right for everyone (even when you don't like the consequences) is the price of living in a free society. And if it were merely Guth's differing commitments at stake here, I'd be right beside you defending him, no matter how insulting he was in the expression of those commitments.

    But his tweet seems to stray well beyond even a harsh disagreement over principle. When you start wishing harm to your enemies, much less their children, the debate portion of the program is over. If you were my boss, and I tweeted about you in the manner that Guth tweeted about (some of) the people who pay his salary, I don't think a lot of people would be surprised if shortly thereafter I found myself out of a job.

    I am not blind to the potential for abuse here, which is why I think there need to be rigorous and clear guidelines about the limits of public comments for public employees, and that there needs to be high-caliber state-paid legal representation available to employees when (not if) a state official attempted to fire someone for speech that fell short of that standard. (Power corrupts. We both know there would be instances of abuse.) But I don't see why a man should continue to draw a salary funded by, among others, people whom he hopes have to suffer their children's violent loss before they die and God damns them to Hell.

  118. HandOfGod137 says

    @Erbo

    This is, incidentally, why, while Ward Churchill was still employed by the University of Colorado, I voted against any and all ballot measures that would provide additional benefit to the University. As long as they continued to employ someone spewing forth vile accusations and insinuations opposed to everything I believe, I reasoned, they didn't deserve any more of my money.

    So punishing an entire educational establishment (and hence those being educated) is entirely justified if one of the employees of that establishment says things you don't like? That is an incredibly poorly reasoned response. How about writing a letter? Or taking part in a peaceful demonstration? Western civilization has a whole rich tradition of dissent that doesn't involve taking one's ball home like a sulking child,

    Out of curiosity, did you actually have a child at this university, or was your righteous anger aroused simply by the overwhelming danger of an uncontrolled idea in an enclosed space? I'd burn his books, too. It's the only way to be sure.

  119. Anony Mouse says

    @HandOfGod137

    Scroll up. England's definition of homicide is not what most people would consider the true definition, and thus horribly skews all comparisons.

  120. Jay says

    Ken, what I don't understand about your stance, or to the extent I do understand it, is that you (and many other people) would defend Guth on a First Amendment basis *because* and *only because* his employer is the state.

    If Guth worked for Business Insider, you would let him twist in the wind of "free speech has consequences".

    In this sense you actually privilege people with government jobs with more of an ability to speak freely then people that don't have government jobs.

    If you're lucky enough to grab a government job you have first amendment protection for ugly speech that has little to do with your job. If you're a regular schmoe, god help ya if you open your trap.

    That's a much more limited support of free speech than I believe our society needs.

  121. HandOfGod137 says

    @Anony Mouse

    I've just checked the UNODC figures for 2012 which give a UK:US ratio of 4.8 to 1.2 (homicide in this case is defined as unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person). Can you point me at where I'm meant to be looking a bit more closely? Cheers.

  122. Pablo says

    The author is a constitutional law professor. I

    The author is either a sophist or an idiot. Take this, for instance:

    In 2008 the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment did secure the right of law-abiding, responsible adults to have handguns in their homes for protection. Yet the court went out of its way to acknowledge that most forms of gun regulation remain constitutionally permissible. “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” Justice Antonin Scalia, explained. In a sentence the NRA and many gun-rights extremists apparently missed, Scalia wrote that the Second Amendment is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

    Let’s say that again: Justice Scalia, hero of the most intransigent conservatives in the country, stated unequivocally that restrictions of Second Amendment rights are constitutional.

    Any becomes most becomes all in one big dumb swoop that leads us to conclude that the Second Amendment totally encourages gun control.

    Barack Obama is also "Constitutional Law Professor." I wonder if either of them has ever actually read the Federalist Papers.

  123. says

    Still pushing bad stats, and the "Britain is violence-free" mem, huh?

    That 1.2 homicide rate is a debunked fabrication.

    Britain is more violent than the USA, and cooks their crime stat books to hide their incompetence:

    http://rboatright.blogspot.com/2013/03/comparing-england-or-uk-murder-rates.html

    "In the US, the count of people murdered kept by the FBI is pretty darned straightforward. Got a body, not natural causes, not suicide? Must be murder of one sort or another. Count it.

    …Now, on to England. It turns out that the Home office is very restrictive in what they report as "murders." Still, looking at the detailed report for 2010/2011 the Home office tells us that in the reporting period there were 636 murders "provisionally recorded" for a murder rate of 1.15 per 100,000…

    I've reported these numbers blindly many times, and quoted sources with many (sometimes silly) explanations for the lower murder rate in the UK. There's a problem with that as it turns out. What about all those murders which were NOT solved? The ones where a conviction wasn't gotten? The ones where the appeals are still on-going? Not only that, but when exactly were these homicides performed?…

    Remember that number from the Home Office? The Coroners only called 229 of the cases they determined a cause of death on a homicide, and in 4400 cases they filed a "narrative verdict" describing the cause of death in a narrative manner without putting it in a category. If those 4400 cases are what we would normally call murders that would suggest that the correct number of "violent deaths of interest to the police" is on the order of 4700 for 2011, then the UK murder rate is 8.5 per 100,000 or about 177% of the US murder rate."

    You are quoting falsified numbers, HandOfGod137. That 1.2 homicide rate is demonstrably false. The books were cooked to minimize the enormity of the British crime problem.

    The question is: are you aware of it (and using the stats anyway because the bogus #s support your preconceived notions) or are you simply a victim of a clever scam perpetrated by the UK liberal establishment to hide their incompetence?

    Given your tone & behavior, one might think the former. But then again, considering how many people have been killed by the deliberate incompetence of the NHS (how else can you explain patients dying of hunger or thirst while in a hospital), it might be the latter.

    So which is it?

  124. Sinij says

    @Frank

    All guns start as a lawfully purchased firearms. Denying that improving tracking and introducing accountability to gun ownership will decrease (but not eliminate) availability of guns to criminals is illogical.

    We are not irresponsible with out cars (and car ownership is a lot more important to functioning society than gun ownership), we register them and are liable when bad things happen. Not so much with guns, for some odd reason society accepts that "Oh my straw-purchased gun was "stolen" again" at face value.

    Have you read The Atlantic's "A Convicted Murderer’s Case for Gun Control" ? You should.

  125. HandOfGod137 says

    @Gunnutmegger

    Easy there chap, you've got your HTML in all of a conniption. As it happens, I don't remember ever saying England is "violence free", quite the opposite as it happens, but let's not let facts get in the way of a good rant. Anyway, the relevant section from the Home Office's documentation is:

    In 2010/11, 648 deaths were initially recorded as homicide, an increase from the 626 initially recorded in the previous year (an increase of 22 offences, or 4%; Table 1.01). Where the police initially record an offence as homicide it remains classified as such unless the police or courts decide that a lesser offence, or no offence, took place

    Which is taken from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/116483/hosb0212.pdf

    The falsified figures would appear to be yours.

  126. Sinij says

    @ Shane

    >>>Having guns registered brings no more to the table then having cars registered.

    Disagree.

    First, it would be trivially easy to find straw purchasers. It won't outright eliminate them, but would make it harder. If you have N "stolen" guns registered in your name over past Y years, well clearly you are not doing something right.

    Second, taxation is not out of line. Guns clearly exert societal costs (people getting shot, policing), a lot of it falls via general taxes on population that does not own guns. Why are you asking others to sponsor your personal life choices?

    Third, currently there are no incentives to increase gun safety or gun storage security. This enables negligent behavior, as there is very little financial incentives to do otherwise. With registration and tracking you can clearly identify general issues (e.g. handgun X has above-average rate of accidental discharges causing harm, let investigate why) and simply inform public. You don't even have to regulate – simply putting out information would allow consumers (gun buyers) to exert pressure on the manufacturers to come up with safer products.

  127. Resolute says

    Speaking of falsified statistics, Gunnutmegger – can you please show me objective evidence that all 4400 of those "narrative verdicts" are actually homicides?

    Using bad stats yourself to argue against bad stats of others only makes you a hypocrite.

  128. Steven H. says

    @Jay:

    "Ken, what I don't understand about your stance, or to the extent I do understand it, is that you (and many other people) would defend Guth on a First Amendment basis *because* and *only because* his employer is the state.

    If Guth worked for Business Insider, you would let him twist in the wind of "free speech has consequences"."

    No, I'm still not going to try blockquoting properly till I get a "preview" button…

    That aside, the First Amendment is NOT (whatever you may think to the contrary) about preventing individuals from restricting your speech, it's about GOVERNMENT(S) restricting your speech.
    Even if you're an employee of said government, they have no business telling you what you can/can't say.

  129. Shane says

    @HandofGod137

    So punishing an entire educational establishment (and hence those being educated) is entirely justified if one of the employees of that establishment says things you don't like?

    Nope, he is just punishing the public portion of the educational establishment, because truly if Mr. Guth was a professor at a private institution his ass would have been shit canned. That is the point that Ken is trying to get at in this post.

  130. Shane says

    @HandofGod137

    Which is taken from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/116483/hosb0212.pdf

    The falsified figures would appear to be yours.

    You still have not provided a rebuttal to @Gunnutmegger's assertion that the numbers are cooked in the U.K. She (he) has asserted that the figures that you have basically relinked are cooked, because of the way that the definition of homicide is set in the U.K. To rebut you will need to link a definition of homicide in the U.K. that is different than what @Gunnutmegger has linked and quoted.

  131. Dan Weber says

    would defend Guth on a First Amendment basis *because* and *only because* his employer is the state

    Ken has said, at least twice, that while you could see it as a benefit for state employees, he views it as a restriction on state power.

    I must agree. With a few specific exceptions, civil employment should not depend on political views. The spoils system sucks.

  132. Shane says

    @Sinji

    All guns start as a lawfully purchased firearms. Denying that improving tracking and introducing accountability to gun ownership will decrease (but not eliminate) availability of guns to criminals is illogical.

    Your foreignness is showing. We have laws on straw purchases. All guns have a serial number. And still these guns end up in the hands of criminals. Straw purchases are one of many ways in which criminals have access to guns. I am not going to get into a back and forth about the ways guns get into the hands of criminals, but I will give you one example of how this has already been played out with disastrous consequences … the drug war. The more freedom that we give up for safety, the less free we are and ironically the less safe.

    Second, taxation is not out of line. Guns clearly exert societal costs (people getting shot, policing), a lot of it falls via general taxes on population that does not own guns. Why are you asking others to sponsor your personal life choices?

    I have to pay for defending myself with violent force? And I am taxed once already for the police, I should therefore be taxed again because I remove the need for the police to use deadly force for me?

    Third, currently there are no incentives to increase gun safety or gun storage security.

    Look what you read on the interwebz isn't going to tell you everything about America or the nuances of it. Imagine that I read the news papers of your country and formed my opinion of you and your countrymen based on that. Would I be wrong?

    FYI every gun comes with lock, by law. Most people fear children gaining access to their guns and will secure them because of the emotional cost and if nothing else the legal implications. Most gun owners go to the gun range to practice, if you never take a class in your life this experience in and of itself will teach you gun safety.

    This enables negligent behavior, as there is very little financial incentives to do otherwise.

    But there is serious legal implications, that are more of a deterrent than any financial deterrent.

    You don't even have to regulate …

    But as I have stated before those that want to regulate will push your common sense laws into ludicrousness to achieve their position of banning.

  133. Shane says

    @Resolute

    Speaking of falsified statistics, Gunnutmegger – can you please show me objective evidence that all 4400 of those "narrative verdicts" are actually homicides?

    I don't think that @Gunnutmegger's point was that they were or were not homicides, I think her (his) point was that we should compare apples to apples, because the FBI would call the 4400 "narrative verdicts" homicides.

    Using bad stats yourself to argue against bad stats of others only makes you a hypocrite.

    Being inflammatory doesn't advance your point. If I were you I wouldn't use it.

  134. says

    @jay

    Ken, what I don't understand about your stance, or to the extent I do understand it, is that you (and many other people) would defend Guth on a First Amendment basis *because* and *only because* his employer is the state.

    If Guth worked for Business Insider, you would let him twist in the wind of "free speech has consequences".

    In this sense you actually privilege people with government jobs with more of an ability to speak freely then people that don't have government jobs.

    If you're lucky enough to grab a government job you have first amendment protection for ugly speech that has little to do with your job. If you're a regular schmoe, god help ya if you open your trap.

    That's a much more limited support of free speech than I believe our society needs.

    First of all, and I hate to go all Judge Dredd on you, my "stance" is the law. Disagree all you want with state employees having free speech rights, but that's how courts have interpreted the constitution. You're entitled to your own opinion of what the law should be, but you're not entitled to the law currently being other than what it unquestionably is.

    Second, as I've often said, I support public employees having free speech rights because I view it more as a restriction on state power and less as a special benefit for state employees. If the state can fire employees for viewpoints, the state can dramatically increase the power of selected viewpoints — and its own power.

    Third, I am familiar with and agree with the concept of state action, which is fundamental to all constitutional analysis. The First Amendment doesn't protect you from "censorship" by private entities. The First Amendment protects you from censorship by the government. Any other approach is unworkable, because any other approach creates an irreconcilable conflict between private individuals and entities: it sets up a fight between the speech and assembly rights of the private employer and the speech rights of the employee. Plus, on a practical level, the more-speech remedy works much better against private employers who abuse this freedom than it works against the government.

    In short: private and public are not the same.

  135. HandOfGod137 says

    @Shane

    I'm not going to paste it here (too many bullet points etc), but the definition of homicide is shown at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) website at

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/homicide_murder_and_manslaughter/#definition

    If any of that definition differs in any substantive way from that used in the USA, please let me know, but it looks much the same to me. Furthermore, the "narrative verdicts" have been shown to have a negligible effect on reported causes of death: q.v.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372846

    Unless we're going down the route of conspiracy theories, I'd say Gunnutmegger is unequivocally wrong.

  136. David C says

    With registration and tracking you can clearly identify general issues (e.g. handgun X has above-average rate of accidental discharges causing harm, let investigate why) and simply inform public.

    You don't need registration to do that. All you really have to do is look at the statistics. It's not like the gun manufacturers are going to keep a big secret of the number of each type of gun they sell.

    As far as your point on societal costs… well, those are best paid by the ones who are doing the harm. And there are also societal benefits. There was just a story yesterday about how someone shot a pit bull that was mauling a 17 year old girl. According to the article, "Milwaukee police said the son fired in a safe direction, and no one was endangered. Police said his quick response prevented the dog from further injuring anyone."

    I can think of another societal benefit: Hunting. Around here, deer would become a big problem if we didn't get together and shoot a bunch of them every year – not to mention that keeping the population density down helps the deer to not spread chronic wasting disease among themselves.

  137. says

    @Pablo–The Federalist Papers were propaganda articles written to convince people to vote for the new Constitution. Exactly the type of thing most people here refuse to accept as evidence of anything.

  138. Shane says

    @HandOfGod137

    From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372846:

    … with over 3,000 narrative verdicts returned in 2009. …

    From @Gunnutmegger:

    Remember that number from the Home Office? The Coroners only called 229 of the cases they determined a cause of death on a homicide, and in 4400 cases they filed a "narrative verdict" describing the cause of death in a narrative manner without putting it in a category. If those 4400 cases are what we would normally call murders that would suggest that the correct number of "violent deaths of interest to the police" is on the order of 4700 for 2011, then the UK murder rate is 8.5 per 100,000 or about 177% of the US murder rate."

    This is not in left field from what @Gunnutmegger originally quoted. And the site you linked further bolsters her (his) assertion.

    From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372846:

    The increasing proportion of narrative verdicts involving injury and poisoning has not significantly affected published mortality rates for suicide …

    The increase in the use of narrative verdicts by coroners has not had a statistically significant impact on published suicide rates in England and Wales and so no revision to these rates is needed.

    I think this speaks for itself, suicide rates aren't changed, but no mention of homicide rates. The point once again is to compare apples to apples, the FBI would classify narrative verdicts as homicides. I am not going to relink what @Gunnutmegger linked but the post that is linked has links to back up the author's assertion.

    Unless we're going down the route of conspiracy theories, I'd say Gunnutmegger is unequivocally wrong.

    You still haven't rebutted the assertion that if we are to compare apples to apples U.K. homicide rates vs. U.S. homicide rates that the UK:US ratio of 4.8 to 1.2 is not correct.

  139. says

    My view on gun control can be summed up like so:
    1. Gun control is not truly effective unless it completely confiscates ALL guns. Leaving any guns hanging around is enough to negate the whole thing, since those who own them can now kill without fear of reprisal.
    2. There really isn't a way to confiscate all the guns without giving some organization all power to do so, and even that might not work (see: home manufacture, 3D printing).
    3. No organization can be trusted to implement a blanket gun ban, especially not the state. States that disarm their citizens do not disarm themselves. Case in point: our federal government possesses an arsenal of nukes and killer robots, both of which it has used against civilians, and it has even deliberately allowed criminals to obtain guns (see: gunwalking, Fast & Furious), and of course, our cops do not have an exemplary record of using firearms (see: Radley Balko).
    4. From the above, it appears to me that effective gun control (total confiscation) is impossible, and ineffective gun control is worse than no control at all.

    Here are two editorials that greatly influenced my way of thinking on this subject:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/04/21/496931/-Why-Liberals-Should-Love-The-Second-Amendment

    http://www.thepolemicist.net/2013/01/the-rifle-on-wall-left-argument-for-gun.html

  140. Jay says

    Ken, (and Steven),

    I am not disagreeing with the law, I am more disagreeing with your stance that you believe it is fine that free speech outside of government actions has consequences, including being fired for speech that some find offensive but otherwise has nothing to do with your work.

    I think our understanding of free speech in an Internet era needs to widen to support at the least Evelyn Beatrice Hall's

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    And Voltaire's

    "Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write"

    being applied to random citizens found saying things others find offensive on the Internet.

    What I am asking is, is there a difference in the notion of "free speech" and the notion of "First Amendment"?

    Let me put it this way, if you say that free speech has consequences outside of government actions, then in what sense is it free?

    Well, we won't kill you or assault you, we will just get you fired and make sure you cannot be hired or otherwise earn a living or support your family.

    That's free speech!?

    I think now, I am just arguing the same thing I did last week, but maybe more rambling, so I will just thank you again for letting me present it.

    Note to Steve, re: blockquotes: You and I agree on that at least!

  141. HandOfGod137 says

    The most current data for coroner error rate is found in the document below, which gives a figure of 4% wrongly categorised for unlawful killings (or about 26 per year). Compared to the 4400 figure Gunnutmegger cites, I'm prepared to stick with he's totally wrong

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/199793/coroners-statistics-bulletin-2012.pdf

    Your argument basically seems to be that the English system is hiding a huge number of murders to look good in the eyes of the world. This would involve a massive conspiracy by coroners, the police, the press and the government, and would also have to disguise itself from independent audits conducted by the EU. I also think those of us who live here might have noticed something, too. Do you have any evidence whatsoever that this is actually the case, or is it that you just don't like 4.8 : 1.2 ratio currently accepted by the UN as accurate?

  142. Sad Panda says

    @Tice with a J:

    1. Gun control is not truly effective unless it completely confiscates ALL guns. Leaving any guns hanging around is enough to negate the whole thing, since those who own them can now kill without fear of reprisal.

    Too right! If you're allowed to carry a 9mm, I should be allowed to carry a plastic gun designed to get through airport security! Or an automatic 50 cal! Or a rocket launcher! And what's wrong with home nukes? All or nothing, I say, all or nothing!

  143. Doctor X says

    I love the "my comments were taken out of context/were distorted/twisted/misquoted" excuses. I have to agree with the basic theme of Ken's article: 1) Either admit you acted out of emotion and apologize or 2) Have the courage of your convictions.

    Of course, if called on this comment, I will deny it fervently for I have misquoted myself! Govern yourselves accordingly!

  144. Shane says

    @HandOfGod137

    Look I have really no dog in this fight, because there is a thousand other ways to provide comparisons between the U.K. and the U.S., but I thought that the point was interesting that @Gunnutmegger brought up. I don't see per se see some giant conspiracy to hide the facts. I think as I have said over and over that there is a methodology fail. Your articles and @Gunnutmegger's article show that a determination of cause of death in the U.K. is determined differently from the FBI's determination, so citing the "4.8 : 1.2" is apples to oranges, and therefore statistically invalid.

    If a death can not be determined to fall under lawful or unlawful homicide (or any other category) by a coroner's inquest in the U.K. which may or may not include a jury, then that death is classified as Unclassified. Unclassified deaths as of 2012 account for 15% of total deaths. Narrative verdicts are simply the option of an Unclassified Verdict with a blank box to fill in the reason. Since we can not parse what is filled in on the box then the death is indeterminate. Which means it might really be that the the jury and coroner were unable to determine or disagree on the cause of death. It might be a homicide it might not. The FBI lists all questionable deaths as homicide, basically instead of an Unclassified category, they group unknown deaths as homicide. Two different methodologies.

  145. HandOfGod137 says

    @Shane

    The FBI classify all deaths from unknown sources as homicides? Which presumably makes both they and the police appear to have significantly worse solving rates than would otherwise be the case? Can you point me at a source, because that is a very strange way of doing things. The only one I can find is below, which cites "unknown circumstances" which seems to indicate clear murders that were not solved, which is not the same as death from unknown cause (e.g. the unknown circumstances category is further broken down into firearms, physical assault and blunt instruments sub-categories, indicating law enforcement found a body that had been obviously done in by person or persons unknown):

    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/violent_crime/murder.html

    Anyhow, the original discussion was around Gunnutmegger's claim that the actual murder rate in England is actually circa 4700 per year due. Unless you are claiming that every unknown death (which includes accidents, suicides and illness) is actually a homicide, this is clearly nonsense. There is no "cooking" of any books: Gunnutmegger has found a blog that mentions a figure (as an extreme upper limit) he likes and decided to run with it. I'm happy to accept there may be differences in reporting between the two countries, but I would still argue the baseline figures can be used to give a general comparison.

    For the sake of argument, let's say there are twice as many murders in England than are currently reported, and the actual ratio is 2.4 : 4.8. The current reported figures for violent crime are higher per capita in England than the US, but the murder rate is lower, implying far fewer violent crimes progress to someone actually losing their life. Why do you think this should be the case?

  146. AlphaCentauri says

    People seem to think that deaths in the US are much more exhaustively evaluated than they are. If you're found dead at home, the medical examiner will call your doctor and ask if you had any illnesses that would explain the death. If the doctor knows of a reason for you to die, that doctor will sign the death certificate. If the doctor does not feel comfortable calling it a heart attack or whatever, the medical examiner may still choose to call it natural causes if there doesn't seem to be any sign of violence. Autopsies are expensive, and medical examiners will try to avoid doing them if the death isn't overtly suspicious.

  147. Pablo says

    @Darryl

    @Pablo–The Federalist Papers were propaganda articles written to convince people to vote for the new Constitution. Exactly the type of thing most people here refuse to accept as evidence of anything.

    Is this supposed to be some sort of rebuttal?

  148. Resolute says

    @Shane – and there are many instances where Americans would not classify a clear murder as homicide either. Shooting someone who has broken into your home in the US is usually not classed as a homicide, I believe. But unless you can legitimately argue your life was in danger, as far as I am concerned, you are a murderer if you do. And to flip that, if you want to use American definitions, can you tell me how many of those 4400 British cases would qualify as something similar to American self-defence standards? Can you tell me how many of those number could be considered suicides? Accidental poisonings? Injury caused by negligence?

    See, this is where gunnut and your arguments fall down. Assuming the British numbers are "cooked" because you disagree with how the British define homicide is fair game. But assuming every instance of a "narrative verdict" is actually a "homicide" is simply cooking the numbers the other way. And yes, that is a decidedly hypocritical argument. Moreover, it is dishonest and disingenuous. You're basically lying to us to try and justify your position.

    I might also point out that in 2011, the latest year I could find statistics, the homicide rate in Canada was 1.73. We don't use narrative verdicts. But I'm sure Canadian stats are made up as well….

  149. Shane says

    @HandOfGod137

    I know it is distasteful but reading the article that @Gunnutmegger linked would go a long way toward you understanding. I am simplifying a lot to so as not to RELINK THE ARTICLE. All necessary stats from both the FBI and the Home Office are in the article and referenced.

    FYI I am not in a gun debate with you so trying to drag it back to that is futile. I am asking you to refute the article that @Gunnutmegger linked. The sad part is that I think that I have done more work than you to refute the damn thing. But as it stands, you have yet to refute it.

  150. Steven H. says

    @Resolute:

    "and there are many instances where Americans would not classify a clear murder as homicide either."

    Such as?

    Do keep in mind that just because YOU believe something is murder does not make it so. That's why we have laws defining those sorts of things.

  151. Resolute says

    @Steven – I already included an example. Also, why should the American/FBI definition rule the day? Why not the British? Why not the Canadian?

  152. princessartemis says

    "Shooting someone who has broken into your home in the US is usually not classed as a homicide, I believe."

    I am unsure of the statistics, but I'd classify that as a homicide if the shooting were fatal. I would not classify it as a murder. All murders are homicides, not all homicides are murders.

    Killing in self-defense is justifiable homicide. It is no less homicide for being justified.

  153. says

    @Sad Panda – A good rebuttal! I shall attempt to provide a good reply.

    Gun control in society in general is a very different issue from gun control in airports in particular. Consider:
    1. Air travel by way of the large airlines is not a right, or a necessity. While you have a right to run your home as your castle and a right to walk down the street unmolested, you're a guest at the airports and on the planes. So, if the airport owners and plane owners decide that they want to forbid guns on them, they are allowed to do so, simply because it's their space. In short, forbidding all guns is allowable.
    2. The evidence indicates that it's much easier to keep all guns out of a plane than it is to keep all guns out of, for example, Chicago. There are many technical reasons why, but in short, forbidding all guns is doable.
    3. In usual everyday life, there are many circumstances where you can fire a gun and not hurt anyone or anything at all. On board a plane, this isn't the case at all. Due to the risks involved, any use of standard guns on a plane can be considered a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle. In short, forbidding all guns is necessary.

    These three conditions (allowable, doable, necessary) also apply to nuclear weapons. I dread the day when "doable" no longer applies to a nuclear weapons ban. They do not apply to a general gun ban.

  154. HandOfGod137 says

    @Shane

    I have read the article, then provided links showing the UK definition of homicide, data on UK coroner's levels of error, an analysis of "narrative verdicts" and a link to the FBI showing an interpretation of levels of reporting on causes of death that differs from the one Gunnutmegger and you are proposing. Although there are undoubtedly differences in reporting methodology between the two countries, the evidence I have linked suggests this is not so great as to prevent a general comparison. Hence the article is wrong, the evidence I have provided supports that conclusion, I really don't see what further can be done.

  155. Sad Panda says

    @Tice with a J: "allowable, doable, necessary" seems like at least the basis of a reasonable policy. There are many weapons that fail the doable test in similar ways to guns, though, and the distinctions become arbitrary no matter where you try to draw them.

    As another counterargument: it is not possible to stop all speeders, but that isn't much of an argument for eliminating speed limits.

  156. Dan says

    Many of the responses to this post show a curious combination of certainty and ignorance, most recently Resolute. Any time one person kills another, intentionally or otherwise, it's a homicide. It may or may not be criminal, and it may or may not be murder, but it's still a homicide.

    In every state in the USA, you must have a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm to use deadly force in self-defense. In many states, you also have a legal duty to run away before attempting to defend yourself.

  157. Sad Panda says

    @Dan: I have no personal knowledge of what the legal definition of homicide would be in any jurisdiction, but your assertion struck me as counter to my English language understanding of the term.

    I looked it up on my computer's New Oxford American Dictionary, and they say homicide means, "the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another; murder." Wikipedia on the other hand seems to see things more your way.

    I'm not trying to back any particular argument here, it's mostly beyond my reach. If I have a point, it would just be that the problem you're seeing may not be ignorance so much as a question of where one's internalized definition of the term homicide is coming from.

  158. Resolute says

    Dan – It obviously was not clear in retorsepct, but I was thinking in terms of how Statistics Canada defines it: Any act of murder, manslaughter or infanticide. Either way, I did make a mistake in using murder and homicide interchangeably above.

    However, using the broad definition of homicide as "an act of one human killing another", I wonder then if American statistics include capital punishment, use of deadly force (by police or individuals that was not otherwise considered a murder/manslaughter), etc? If not, then the numbers being thrown about in the US vs. UK argument are probably largely out to lunch.

  159. Steven H. says

    @Resolute:

    "I already included an example. Also, why should the American/FBI definition rule the day? Why not the British? Why not the Canadian?"

    No, you provided an example of what YOU believe should be a homicide.

    I just checked a few dozen definitions of homicides, and they seem to tend toward including the word "unlawful" in the concept.
    If the laws where you live say that you have no legal right to kill someone who breaks into your home, then obviously that example is a valid example of "homicide" WHERE YOU LIVE.
    Alas, where I live, if someone breaks into my home, I have the legal right to shoot him, hence your example is NOT homicide here.

    Note that since local laws define "homicide" in not necessarily identical fashion, comparing homicides across legal jurisdictions is for the most part a complete waste of time.

    Though people sure do like to do it….

  160. Shane says

    @Resolute

    This is simply about this:
    U.K. homicide rates vs. U.S. homicide rates that the UK:US ratio of 4.8 to 1.2

    That is all.

    … because you disagree with how the British define homicide …

    I really don't give a rusty fuck why the Brit's define homicide the way they do, what I care about is that they don't define it the same way as the Yankees so the damn number is different by methodology.

    But assuming every instance of a "narrative verdict" is actually a "homicide" is simply cooking the numbers the other way. And yes, that is a decidedly hypocritical argument. Moreover, it is dishonest and disingenuous.

    Since you have jumped in, cite your source, are you 100% certain that all of the narrative verdicts aren't homicide? I am not 100% certain either, and that is NOT MY POINT, GET IT NOT MY POINT. That's the problem and if you read my earlier post about this you would understand that because of the way that the U.K. does their statistics it is not possible to compare to the U.S. Don't let your hatred of guns blind you, read the damn posts before you jump in.

    @HandOfGod137

    It didn't have time to do this before I will do it now.

    FBI definition per your link:
    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/violent_crime/murder.html

    "The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another.

    The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body."

    Cheif Inspector Colin Greenwood
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmhaff/95/95ap25.htm

    "Since 1967, homicide figures for England and Wales have been adjusted to exclude any cases which do not result in conviction, or where the person is not prosecuted on grounds of self defence or otherwise."

    Coroners Statistics 2011 England and Wales
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/217475/coroners-bulletin-2011.pdf

    "For those deaths where a coroner conducts an inquest, the death will be registered at the conclusion of the inquest, and the cause of death classified according to the verdict returned by the coroner"

    "Inquests were opened on 30,981 deaths reported to coroners in 2011"
    "Verdicts were returned at 29,858 inquests in 2011"
    "Unclassified verdicts, which category includes narrative verdicts, represented 15 per cent of the total"

    These statistics are NOT derived in the same way. So comparison is meaningless.

  161. Shane says

    @HandofGod137

    Although there are undoubtedly differences in reporting methodology between the two countries, the evidence I have linked suggests this is not so great as to prevent a general comparison.

    Really with 15% of the deaths under the narrative verdict category. 15% of the data is utterly indeterminate and you are suggesting that we can still make comparisons?

  162. HandOfGod137 says

    @Shane

    The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another.

    The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body

    In 2010/11, 648 deaths were initially recorded as homicide, an increase from the 626 initially recorded in the previous year (an increase of 22 offences, or 4%; Table 1.01). Where the police initially record an offence as homicide it remains classified as such unless the police or courts decide that a lesser offence, or no offence, took place

    Your nations definition versus mine. I see no substantive difference. Narrative verdicts are for cases where no definitive cause of death is readily apparent. So yes, comparisons are valid.

  163. Shane says

    @HandOfGod137

    WTF

    Narrative verdicts are for cases where no definitive cause of death is readily apparent.

    A Narrative Verdict is given after an inquest, it is not done because there is no definitive cause of death it is done because the inquest couldn't determine the reason for the death. e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Gareth_Williams

    The coroner found in a narrative verdict that Williams' death was "unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated". The coroner was "satisfied that on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully". There was insufficient evidence to give a verdict of unlawful killing.

    Health Statistics Quarterly 49 Spring 2011
    http://www.whub.org.uk/HMCoroners/Public/Documentation/NarrativeVerdict.aspx 13.05.09 NARRATIVE.doc

    When coding injury and poisoning deaths, both the intent and the mechanism determines how the death is assigned to an ICD code. The 'manner of death' (which equates to verdict in England and Wales) is also recorded. This includes accident, homicide, suicide, or event of of undetermined intent if the intent could not be determined following investigation

  164. Dan says

    Looks like I may have shown some of that "curious combination of ignorance and certainty" myself. It was perfectly obvious to me that homicide included any killing of a person by another person. I still think that's a good definition, and possibly the best of those that have been used in this discussion, but it's clear that the word has more meanings than I'd believed. I wonder how this crow tastes…

  165. HandOfGod137 says

    @Shane

    I was wrong to say "Narrative verdicts are for cases where no definitive cause of death is readily apparent" (for which I apologise), but you are still misinterpreting the evidence:

    Narrative verdicts are intended for use when the coroner wishes to raise matters of public concern. For example, at the inquest into the death by jumping of a young woman while she was in hospital after an overdose it has been suggested that without a narrative verdict “it is doubtful whether any of the inadequacies in procedure, and in the system itself, would have come to light"

    http://www.dualdiagnosis.co.uk/uploads/documents/originals/Coroners%20verdicts.pdf

    There is a concern that over/improper use may impact suicide reporting accuracy, and the narrative is on occasion used to provide further information in cases of great public concern, like Gareth Williams, but the actual purpose of narrative verdicts is where it is thought action should be taken to reduce the risk of further fatalities. This doesn't mean murder, and there is no suggestion that murders are being systematically concealed by use of this mechanism (although I'm sure a few are miscategorised, or are recorded as open verdicts due to lack of convincing evidence, as probably happens everywhere). If you can actually provide any evidence of such a systematic fraud, I'm open to be convinced, but otherwise I still think you (and Gunnutmegger) are wrong.

  166. Sad Panda says

    @Dan: Admitting that you've made a mistake, however insignificant and tangential to the issue at hand, will break the internet.

    Stop it this instant. (Or should that read: "Govern yourself accordingly.")

  167. Resolute says

    @Shane – You're the one who argued that the FBI would class all of those narrative verdicts as homicides, and you made that statement in response to my challenge that Gunnutmegger's assertion of same was wrong. If you wish to reply on their behalf, that's fine, but don't throw a hissy fit because you want to argue about something other than the specific claim that I was challenging. In my post that started all of this, I was arguing the hypocrisy of creating a specific faulty stat to try and undermine another, potentially faulty, stat. Nothing more.

    Also, you might wish to consider avoiding ad hominem attacks and logical fallacies such as shifting the burden of proof.

  168. Shane says

    @Resolute

    You're the one who argued that the FBI would class all of those narrative verdicts as homicides,

    And I was right. And I proved beyond any reasonable doubt that @Gunnutmegger's assertion was true.

    In my post that started all of this, I was arguing the hypocrisy of creating a specific faulty stat to try and undermine another, potentially faulty, stat.

    And you didn't bother to read what I was debating with @HandofGod137. Inserting yourself into that debate without knowing at all what was being debated. Notice that I wasn't responding to you when you made your assertiona nor did I blockquote any of your assertions or try to rebut them.

    Also, you might wish to consider avoiding ad hominem attacks and logical fallacies such as shifting the burden of proof.

    I can't emphasize enough that reading posts completely is a REALLY good idea. I have been guilty of just skimming posts and inferring what an author meant instead of carefully reading what was said. After being called out several times on it and having it rubbed in my face I stopped doing it. Now I carefully read the post the links and the cites to be sure that I am getting EXACTLY what the author is saying, and then I use blockquotes to respond to specific things that said author has asserted.

  169. Michael Ejercito says

    This begs the question.

    How did the Navy Yard shooter sneak the shotgun past the sentries at the gates?

  170. HandOfGod137 says

    @Shane

    And I proved beyond any reasonable doubt that @Gunnutmegger's assertion was true.

    Well my government, your government, the FBI, the EU and the UN all disagree with you, but if it helps you make it through the night man.

    4700 murders every year: who knew? Apart from Shane and Gunnutmegger, of course.

  171. AlphaCentauri says

    There's an article in the NY Times about accidental shootings that points out that there is no consistent reporting system regarding whether such deaths are classified as "homicides:"

    The undercount stems from the peculiarities by which medical examiners and coroners make their “manner of death” rulings. These pronouncements, along with other information entered on death certificates, are the basis for the nation’s mortality statistics, which are assembled by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Choosing among five options — homicide, accidental, suicide, natural or undetermined — most medical examiners and coroners simply call any death in which one person shoots another a homicide.

    “A homicide just means they died at the hands of another,” said Dr. Randy L. Hanzlick, the chief medical examiner for Fulton County, Ga. “It doesn’t really connote there’s an intent to kill.”

    These rulings can be wildly inconsistent.

    In Bexar County, Tex., for example, the medical examiner’s office issued a finding of homicide in the death of William Reddick, a 9-month-old who was accidentally killed on May 17, 1999, when his 2-year-old brother opened a dresser drawer while in the crib with him, grabbed a pistol and pulled the trigger.

    But the next year, when Kyle Bedford, 2, was killed by his 5-year-old brother, who had found a gun on a closet shelf, the same office classified the death as an accident.

    Even self-inflicted shootings that are clearly accidental, like that of Lucas Heagren in Ohio, can wind up classified as homicides.

  172. says

    What a terrible thing to say about anyone. Suppose he had said that "children of people who believe in abortion should be dismembered alive until they are dead?" That's pretty much the same thing, isn't it…. and every bit as vile.

    He should be completely shunned by polite society until HE sees the light.

  173. BCC says

    His statement about the conditional is referring to the word "let", as in, "Let x equal 3. Find y." "Let it be your sons and daughters. Now how would you feel?"

    Of course, it was obviously not meant that way in the original, but this is his too-clever-by-half way of trying to save face.