“Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Parts I-VI)

mr__peanut_s_cane_gun_I. A good friend, who is a nice man so I chose not to upset him by explaining why he sounds like an idiot, announced on Facebook that he wasn’t reading any more “gun nut” posts. Hmmmm. I wonder what he thinks a “gun nut” is? Is a gun nut a teacher who punishes a student for pointing his finger like a gun, or who prevents a deaf child from signing his name, Gunner? Or is it someone who believes that the Second Amendment, which wasn’t second by accident, should be followed? Is it someone who keeps saying that laws need to be passed that will stop shootings like the one in Oregon, but who either has no realistic proposals to suggest or who suggest measures that wouldn’t have affected that shooting at all? Isn’t it nutty to engage in magical thinking? I think so.

II. I also think it’s nutty, not to mention hypocritical, to decry the lack of “civil debate” regarding gun policy and then call anyone who doesn’t want guns melted down by government order “nuts.”  Actually it’s worse than that: pundits, politicians and anti-gun advocates are increasingly equating  opposition to gun regulations advanced using false arguments, dubious logic, ad hominem attacks and deceitful statistics with insanity and intractable evil. Frankly, I resent it. I’m not opposed to sensible gun regulations, but my job is to oppose false arguments, dubious logic, ad hominem attacks and deceitful statistics, as well as to make sure that they don’t succeed lest “the ends justify the means” become a social norm.

III. Speaking of hypocritical, Mike Huckabee and others have been quite properly criticized (by me, for example) by claiming that since the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage is “wrong,” it shouldn’t be followed. Yet the most vociferous defenders of that SCOTUS decision simultaneously advocate anti-gun measures that are forbidden by the Court’s decisions interpreting the Second Amendment….because, you see, “it’s wrong.”

IV. My compassionate but emotionally overwrought friend also repeated the statement that the U.S. should join the “rest of the civilized world,” presumably meaning that it should jettison the Second Amendment. The rest of the civilized world argument can also be used to argue for eliminating free speech, which the rest of the civilized world also doesn’t appreciate. I apologize if my nice friend reads this, but believing that what makes sense given one nation’s values, culture, history and demographics makes sense for another is ludicrous, a-historical and poor advocacy. How many of those other nations exist because of guns? How many freed its black population using guns? How many settled more than half of its expanse using guns? How many have a culture that has for centuries associated and still associates access to a gun with individual freedom, safety and self-determination? Okay, now how many countries have all of these?

None, that’s how many. Moreover, that dedication to individual freedom and self-determination defines the American mind and soul, with a respect for the proper use of guns a core and, I believe, inextricable component.

V. It’s demonstrably nutty to trust what Barack Obama says—about anything…red lines, keeping your health care plan, being transparent—but especially on this topic, where he has already proven himself willing to distort the truth. Back in June, Politifact, a pro-Obama, pro-democratic fact-checking site that usually rolls over like a Havanese for anything issuing from the White House checked Obama’s statement following the Charleston shooting that

“this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”

It found that the facts don’t back him up. Never mind: I’ve seen this statement or variations of it, like what the President said last week, used by pundits, journalists and anti-gun zealots.

VI. This time Obama claimed, while discussing the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, that we need more gun regulations because “states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.” But the Washington Post factchecker showed, that his claim was based on a misleading August 28 National Journal article by Libby Isenstein. That article, which has been used a great deal in this debate by anti-gun advocates who either don’t check their facts or who don’t care whether what they say is true or not, excluded many states with low homicide rates and few gun laws to reach the conclusion that “the states with the most gun laws” have “the fewest gun-related deaths” while “states with few­er reg­u­la­tions typ­ic­ally have a much high­er death rate from guns.”

Hans Bader explains…

“The National Journal disproportionately excluded low-crime, pro-gun states such as Vermont, South Dakota, and Maine from its chart of homicide rates precisely because their homicide rate was low. These states have few gun laws (Vermont has the least of any state) and very low homicide rates.  If you disproportionately exclude unregulated states that are safest from the calculation of which states have the lowest homicide rates, that will create the false impression that states with the most gun laws have the fewest gun deaths. These “pro-gun” states have low homicide rates (for example, Vermont had the third lowest homicide rate in 2013, the lowest gun murder rate in 2010, and the second-lowest gun murder rate in 2007-2010. South Dakota had the fourth-lowest gun-homicide rate in 2007-2010).

But in its discussions of “Concealed Carry” and “Background Checks,” the National Journal deletes these states from its charts comparing pro-gun and anti-gun states by “Gun-related homicides per 100,000 people, by state (2013).” It deletes Vermont, South Dakota, Maine, and 8 other states (6 of which have few gun regulations) from each chart, claiming that these states had “too few homicides to calculate a reliable rate.” 9 of the 11 states excluded broadly allow concealed carry and do not impose additional background-check requirements beyond those contained in federal law. But the National Journal deliberately excluded those states, writing, “In 2013, Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming had too few homicides to calculate a reliable rate.”… This is an egregious act of cherry-picking.

But that was apparently how the National Journal managed to claim that “the states that im­pose the most re­stric­tions on gun users also have the low­est rates of gun-re­lated deaths, while states with few­er reg­u­la­tions typ­ic­ally have a much high­er death rate from guns.”

[To Be Continued…]

____________________________

Sources: National Review, Liberty Unyeilding, Politifact,

Graphic: Deviant Art

 

33 thoughts on ““Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Parts I-VI)

  1. A recent fb discussion I was involved in included the following:

    Other person: “either stripping constitutional rights from the law-abiding” [in reference to something I had said]… I’m always about listening to the other side and think some on the left can be ludicrous with their knee-jerk emotional reactions and sweeping generalizations, but seriously, people spouting this crap really have to S … T … F … U.

    Me: Either engage thoughtfully or follow your own advice.

    OP: I will never, ever come around to a pro-gun position, and it amazes and alarms me that after every tragedy like this, people who love guns dig their heels in more. If you are carrying a gun in my presence (I love that the word law-abiding is always thrown in here) and I find out, you’ve just lost my presence for good.

    OP: Uh, no, STEVEN. I won’t “engage” “thoughtfully” on this issue. That ship sailed with Sandy Hook.

    I won’t post this woman’s name, since sliming her on an unrelated forum would be a Golden Rule violation, but I will say this – this is a classic “pigeon chess” situation where dealing with intractable and irrational people. Even if a Grand Master plays chess with a pigeon and deploys his chessmen masterfully, the pigeon is just going to knock over the chessmen, shit on the board, then strut around acting like it won.

    • “If you are carrying a gun in my presence (I love that the word law-abiding is always thrown in here) and I find out, you’ve just lost my presence for good.”

      One less sheep to worry about…

        • I bet she happily counts down the minutes while crime is occuring waiting on the succor of a central authority.

          I bet if she was being assaulted she even sings Revolutionary Songs about how happy she is to have central commissariat on the way to eventually make things right.

    • Didn’t one parenting guide from the wild west suggest that the earlier you expose your children to firearms the better? Going so far as suggesting placing a loaded Colt’s Dragoon in the crib with your toddler? You know, just to increase familiarity before teaching rudimentary safety skills?

  2. Too few homicides to calculate a reliable rate? The rate is what it is. However, if the argument is “the sample size is too small,” it is an idiotic line of reasoning that, at least, has some basis in statistics. But, that rationale is still wrong. The “sample size” is the entire state and the rate is “x per 100,000” people. You are not sampling anything; you are getting the entire population.

    However, for sake of argument, were there any states excluded because there were too many homicides to calculate a reliable rate?

    -Jut

  3. “Moreover, that dedication to individual freedom and self-determination defines the American mind and soul, with a respect for the proper use of guns a core and, I believe, inextricable component.”

    And in the end, no citizenry, unarmed, is ever really free. They are free only so long as the good will of the government persists. Nothing to stop said government should it change its mind. Maybe sit-down strikes? Maybe appeal to the aid of the international community? Relying on what? Other people with guns to come bail them out.

    What if someday that international community up and decides it kinda likes the route that the petty despots are going and doesn’t come in to clean shop…

    Where’s the disarmed citizenry then. Hunger strikes?

    Nope. One of the few things Mao said that is accurate is that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. This is true. Governmental power IS force. And nothing stops force but an equal and opposite force.

    Hunger strikes and petitions ARE NOT that force.

  4. So did we ever determine the definition of “gun nut?”
    I’d say the father of the Oregon shooter saying something to the effect of no one has the right to kill people, guns kill people, we have to get guns away from people. Qualifies as gun nuttery. The gun didn’t post a screed on social media, force itself into the shooters hand and drive to the school for the purpose of shooting Christians, a person did that.

    • If we have to get guns away from the people, let us start with the Secret Service’s presidential security detail as a test case. If that works, we can move to the FBI, the U.S. marshals, the ATF…

  5. Hmmm, I wonder what the homicide rate is in New Jersey and what their gun laws prohibit. Probably their laws didn’t stop the goodfellas from killing each other. And I suppose there’s enough nut cases in Jersey who could get a hot gun whenever they want.

  6. I watched and participated in Usenet discussions on this very issue for over a decade.

    The intellectual dishonesty and invincible ignorance of the anti-gun-nut crowd is not surprising. And yet they argue ideas discredited over ten years ago.

  7. … believing that what makes sense given one nation’s values, culture, history and demographics makes sense for another is ludicrous, a-historical and poor advocacy. How many of those other nations exist because of guns? How many freed its black population using guns? How many settled more than half of its expanse using guns? How many have a culture that has for centuries associated and still associates access to a gun with individual freedom, safety. and self-determination? None, that’s how many. [emphasis added]

    Who’s being ahistorical? Absence of evidence (known to you) isn’t evidence of absence. However, I suspect that you really do know of other cases and just haven’t brought them to mind, e.g. you probably know the first and third bullet point of:-

    – most Latin American nations exist because of guns, as do Germany, Italy and Greece (many others would, only they date back far enough that other weapons were involved);

    – as colonies the British West Indies freed their black populations using guns (as part of putting down a slave revolt against emancipation), and Swaziland, as it then was, kept its black population free by using guns in the Gun War;

    – Argentina settled more than half of its expanse using guns; and

    – South Africa has for centuries associated and still associates access to a gun with individual freedom, safety, and self-determination (this held over much more of Africa, too; our family was the odd one out in our part of the former Belgian Congo in having to borrow guns to help fight off the paramilitary police when they mutinied).

    • It’s a useful cavil, except that we are talking (or I was, and I thought it was clear–perhaps not—) revolutions of creation when I’m talking about “existence.” Obviously many others used guns to stay in existence. It’s a real stretch to say Germany “exists” because of guns.

      But your main mistake is assuming “none” means none of the above when it meant “all of the above.” The issue is culture, and that gun culture is uniquely strong because of a history that includes all of the above. South Argentominica doesn’t exist, though I’d probably like it.

      • … we are talking (or I was, and I thought it was clear–perhaps not—) revolutions of creation when I’m talking about “existence.” Obviously many others used guns to stay in existence. It’s a real stretch to say Germany “exists” because of guns.

        I was talking about that, too. Most Latin American nations do exist because of guns, as do Germany, Italy and Greece, in the sense of “were created [as modern nation states, if not as cultural constructs or geographical expressions]”; I only used “exist” to mirror your prose choices. It’s far from a stretch to say Germany exists because of guns, when you consider the absolute certainty that the Second Reich wouldn’t have unified Germany beyond Austria without a sequence of successful wars that used guns, and that the “needle gun” in particular made a lot of difference in those wars.

        But your main mistake is assuming “none” means none of the above when it meant “all of the above.”

        There was no such mistake and no such assumption. Rather, I was aware that your phrasing was susceptible to alternative readings, and I followed the rule that in such cases one should adopt that reading which is least favourable to the argument of the one proffering it. But even on your preferred reading, South Africa between Vereeniging and 1948 would have qualified on all points (your “South Argentominica ” is part of that past that is a foreign country); granted, that is a shorter and now completed span of time than the U.S.A. has had, but in the light of developments that seems a less and less material distinction in the broad scheme of things (the U.S.A. isn’t over yet).

          • It’s getting on for midnight here, so I’ll sleep on it before giving a considered reply, but at first glance it looks as though you’ve fixed it into something in the general area of “no true Scotsman” and “Texas sharpshooter”. Once I’ve thought it through, either I’ll be able to firm that up or I’ll be able to tell you the respects in which it resembled that.

            • You shouldn’t waste your time. The Texas Sharpshooter fallacy is committed when material differences in data are ignored, but similarities are stressed. That, in fact, is what anyone who compares US culture to other cultures and says, “See, if they can do it, why can’t we?” Calling someone on the fallacy, which is what I have done regarding material differences in culture, can’t be the fallacy. Nor is this No True Scotsman, but your efforts should be interesting, should you choose to expend them.

              • OK, to recap, here’s your current wording, broken down as numbered points for ease of reference (apologies if I have omitted anything material):-

                (1.) How many of those other nations exist because of guns?

                (2.) How many freed its black population using guns?

                (3.) How many settled more than half of its expanse using guns?

                (4.) How many have a culture that has for centuries associated and still associates access to a gun with individual freedom, safety and self-determination?

                (5.) Okay, now how many countries have all of these?

                What started ringing my warning bells about selective definitions, tending to fit or be fitted to a particular case, was no. 2. (That’s what I meant about ‘in the general area of “no true Scotsman” and “Texas sharpshooter”’.) Were the nearly four score and three prior years a span in which the U.S.A. was not eligible for consideration as a society meeting the criteria? What was the point of that test, if it did not rule out the earlier U.S.A., other than to rule out countries that never had that? Is a country to be debarred from the elect if it never faced having to free a black population? Straight away, it works to rule out Russia (with white serfs, freed without the use of guns), and other European countries were an even poorer fit if you only count the countries proper and not their colonies. That’s because slavery itself made less sense there, just as it did in the northern parts of the U.S.A. by the 1860s, for economic reasons; it cannot tell us anything one way or the other about gun culture in the excluded countries.

                So I went looking at the other criteria in the light of that. For simplicity, I just read them contra proferentem to see what shook out. After all, if they still stood up that way and could be made to apply to the U.S.A. but not other countries without building in only applying to the U.S.A. by definition or construction, then they would be pointing to the U.S.A. by virtue of features that came from that gun culture link.

                My first pass got that far, but I found – and pointed out – that many other countries matched each of the criteria as those were presented, so I presented those counter-examples and left things there for the night (as I shortly shall again).

                I think your concluding point 5 now certainly does make the U.S.A. the only country to meet all the criteria together, but only because point 2 is there. Point 4 strikes me as the only one that arises “naturally”, as mathematicians would put it, yielding the U.S.A., though even there that “centuries” bit is pushing it (come back and ask the East Timorese in 2100, just not now …). Point 3 is also fairly selective, since most countries just never had to pacify internally like that (either they were more unitary to begin with, or they came together before the gun, or they applied those methods outwards).

                Now I face a problem of critical method: is it appropriate to reject a test for only fitting the U.S.A., to avoid the risk that it was deliberately or inadvertently selected to do just that, yet would broadening the test throw the baby out with the bath water? Would it tend to design in making every country qualify, without addressing the underlying point at issue? The general theme translates from America to Switzerland, but translating “gun” into “crossbow” somehow loses the point.

                As I close for the night, I can tell you that: point 2 is too tailored to be allowable methodology; point 1 fails for being too tailored unless it is enlarged to cover countries that defended their freedom with guns used by armed insurgents (France with <francs tireurs in 1870, Italy with partigiani and other co-belligerents – particularly in the Val d’Aoste – after 1943, and others); and point 3 isn’t very safe on those grounds, but seems to have little bearing on cultural connections to guns as those were there in the U.S.A. before that push west, just as they were before point 2 applied in the U.S.A.

                By the way, I think you will find that there is a serious cultural link to guns in France, rural Italy, and parts of Spain, but that the specifically U.S. thing is bringing that side of things into the spotlight, making it something not taken for granted. But I digress, and it is late again…

                • I do appreciate this…it’s useful and interesting, but pretty tortured. No other nation had a Western expansion remotely the size and extent of the US’s, none have the resulting popular culture and gun-based mythology, none began with a Second Amendment. In law, analogies are crucial, and using sloppy analogies is punished by pointing out material differences that render an analogy misleading, useless or dishonest. France doesn’t even deserve mention in this discussion: why mention it? It’s a relatively small country, it had nothing in its history like the US frontier, and it’s obviously a different culture in important ways. The fact that guns were in the US before the push west misses the point entirely: prior to the Westward expansion, there was no part of the US so dependent on self-defense and personal initiative. After the Western experience, more than half the nation had that it its history and traditions. If that were the only point, it would be enough. As far as I can see, you are working every diligently and perceptively to weaken a conclusion that cannot be denied, only ignored: the US has a more deeply embedded gun culture than any other nation, by far. I didn’t begin to cover the components exhaustively, but the technique of casting doubt or questioning extent of multiple components that still, in totality, lead to an unavoidable conclusion is effective but intellectually dishonest. IF the US really was like these nations, then it would have the same attitudes regarding guns. It doesn’t, Res Ipsa Loquitur. All the rest is sophistry.

      • Germany exists because of a powerful Prussian army and a ruthless chancellor named Bismarck. It has no tradition of freedom, that army comes from the tradition of the Junkers, the not-quite-noble military class who usually had money and land so they didn’t have to get real jobs, made war their profession, and became the best at it in Europe, then put that expertise at Bismarck’s service. I don’t think that’s the way we want to go.

        Like I said above, Jack, this is simply a “pigeon chess” argument, where you might as well just refuse to talk to the other person. It’s going noplace.

            • “Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

              If I was a member of the Greek, Kurdish, Armenian or Circassian minorities in Turkey, I’d be very careful! Of course, that’s why such laws exist. Those other peoples remind Turks that they’re essentially squatters in a land that knew better peoples before them.

        • Germany exists because of a powerful Prussian army and a ruthless chancellor named Bismarck. It has no tradition of freedom, that army comes from the tradition of the Junkers, the not-quite-noble military class who usually had money and land so they didn’t have to get real jobs, made war their profession, and became the best at it in Europe, then put that expertise at Bismarck’s service. I don’t think that’s the way we want to go.

          That’s completely correct, as far as it goes (but whole books can be and have been written about that). I was only using it as an example because it also completely fits the criterion JM presented just there (“[coming into] exist[ence] because of guns”, a wording that not only covers guns’ use for liberation but also guns’ use by tyrants and conquerors, ultima ratio regum). If you want to claim that’s an absurd comparison, go ahead – that’s how a reductio ad absurdum works, by showing where taking a logical extreme steers you wrong.

          Like I said above, Jack, this is simply a “pigeon chess” argument, where you might as well just refuse to talk to the other person. It’s going noplace.

          You’ve got a nice analogy there, but I think you’ve gone overboard with the idea, the way “if all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

          I think JM actually gets what I was driving at: a dialogue attempting to firm up something that was loose. I wasn’t trying to win anything, I’m not playing games, and if JM ends up with a tighter argument – even if it doesn’t cover as much – we all “win”, me, him, and all those readers who are impartial seekers after truth.

          But I do think your description does apply to a recent use of a stock argument seeking to rebut me with “context matters”, when that very context actually supported what I was telling that fellow. At that point I did stop.

  8. I had this argument with my father dozens of times. Why are you so fervent about individuals not being able to own guns, and why are you in favor of rescinding the 2nd Amendment? Wouldn’t that leave guns in the hands of the two groups you trust the least? That is, the police and the military? The 2nd Amendment is there for people like _you_ — who don’t want all the power in the hands of just elite groups that may not be trusted. How does this make sense?

    No answer from dear old Dad. The question just didn’t fit his ideology…

    • I wonder why gun control advocates did not do more to counter the arguments by #BlackLivesMatter. Did they not realize that sowing distrust about the police would lead people to stop supporting gun control laws?

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