Guns in the U.S.

Guns in the U.S.

We’re better at killing Americans than our enemies are

If your gut tells you that mass public shootings are alarmingly common, your gut’s right.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a mass murder as four or more deaths during a single incident with no distinct time period between killings. By this definition, according to Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, between 1980 and 2010 there were an average of 20 mass murders per year, or an average of one every 2.6 weeks.

Now it looks like that interval is shrinking. According to, there were 30 mass public shootings with four or more dead in 2014, and there have been 31 this year through the Oct. 1 tragedy in Roseburg, Ore., or one every 1.6 weeks.

No wonder President Obama feels like he’s repeating himself with sullen regularity in his post-shooting speeches.

Our gun problem of course extends beyond mass violence. In 2014 alone, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 11,208 people shot to death, 33,636 injured by gunfire and 21,175 who killed themselves with a gun. That’s a total of 66,019 people who were killed or injured by a gun, which comes out to 1,269 per week, 180 a day or 7.5 per hour.

Add up all the gun fatalities since 1970 (approximate annual average of 30,000, according to the CDC) and you get the staggering figure of 1.35 million dead, which is disturbingly close to the figure of 1.39 million Americans who have died in all wars since the American Revolution.

Perhaps this is the gruesome price of freedom. The 2nd Amendment guarantees us the right to own a gun, and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that right in two recent cases. But should you, dear reader, choose to own a gun?

Consider this finding from a 1998 study published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: “Every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”

In other words, the fantasy many of us have of facing down an intruder with a firearm is belied by the fact that a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a criminal assault, an accidental death or injury, a suicide attempt or a homicide than it is for self-defense.

If you own a gun and keep it safely locked up and unloaded with the ammunition somewhere else (recommended by gun safety experts), do you really think that, in the event of a break-in, you could get to your gun, find your ammo and load it, engage the intruder, accurately aim and kill him, all before he takes your things? If you do, you’ve been watching too many movies. Go to a firing range and try shooting a handgun. It isn’t easy to do. It requires regular training.

If you own a gun and you don’t keep it safely locked up — if you keep it loaded and under your pillow, say — you might have a chance against an intruder, but you’re also setting yourself up for an accident. A depressed relative or perhaps a child could find the gun.

A 2009 study corroborated these findings. Conducted by epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Public Health, it found that, on average, people with a gun are 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.

But let’s go back to your gut for a second. What if you acknowledge the validity of the statistics above, but your intuition tells you that gun control laws just won’t work to reduce the carnage. Is your gut right? No, it’s almost certainly not.

For a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Internal Medicine, researchers mined a database of 121,084 firearm deaths between 2007 and 2010. Then they compiled a “legislative strength score” for all 50 states based on the number and force of their gun control laws, and divided the states into quartiles. As it turns out, the states in the highest quartile of legislative strength had the lowest overall firearm fatality rate, and those in the lowest quartile had the highest fatality rate. This correlation held for both homicides and suicides.

The authors were careful to note that correlation does not imply causation. But earlier studies have also found that the higher a state’s gun ownership rate, the higher its rate of gun-related homicides and suicides. Yes, people can kill one another and themselves with knives, ropes, lead pipes, wrenches and candlestick holders, but the data match the growing national intuition that guns are a major problem.

This opinion editorial was originally published by the Los Angeles Times online on October 6, 2015.

Additional Thoughts

Not surprisingly—given the heat generated by the gun debate in America—this op-ed produced a lot of mail.

First, let me assure readers that I am aware that there are lock boxes for hand guns that allow owners to store them safely and get to them relatively quickly for home defense in the event of a break in. Still, most likely you would need more than one gun in the home with the lock boxes positioned to be accessed relatively quickly wherever you happen to be in the event of a burglary, and of course you need to actually keep your guns stored in their lock boxes—or even get a lock box when you purchase the gun, which is not always the case.

Second, if you’re still not convinced that there’s a gun problem in America, since the October 1 mass shooting in Oregon that I wrote about there have been six more mass shootings through October 10, totally 6 dead and 20 wounded, bringing the 2015 total up to 300 for all types of mass shootings, and 31 that match the FBI’s definition of 4 or more dead. By the end of 2015 the average for mass shootings of any type will be 1 per day, and for the 4-or-more dead type the average will come in at around 1 every 1.5 weeks. No other Western country comes close to the U.S. in gun violence.

On the positive side, the Pew Research Center reports that the gun homicide rate is down 49% since the peak in 1993. The biggest plunge was in the late 90s, with declines less dramatic since 2000. The survey also found that, “The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.” Supporting my thesis in The Moral Arc that our brains are more geared to noticing short term trends of bad news while ignoring long term trends of good news, the survey also found that, “56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower.”

Finally, my op-ed was primarily triggered by recent mass public shootings, but it is worth noting that between 1980 and 2008 these account for less than 1% of all homicide deaths. So if we want to reduce the carnage overall, the place to focus on is individual homicides.

By |2017-05-18T16:04:46+00:00October 21st, 2015|Civil Rights, Crime, Morality, Science, Violence|151 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, and the author of The Moral Arc. His previous books include: The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, Why Darwin Matters, The Mind of the Market, How We Believe, and The Science of Good and Evil.


  1. playerdark October 21, 2015 at 12:38 am - Reply

    First of all, the statistics that ” people with a gun are 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.” would merit a deeper look. Skeptics Magazine teaches us, how studies and statistics are misused and forged. Who are these people with a gun? Is everybody included? Or just legal gun owners? Because we know there are tons and tons of criminals out there with illegal guns, but also criminals or yet to be criminals who own a gun (still) legally before their first conviction. If you include those people, then yes, I believe the statistics.

    But lets look at the facts: I am a middle aged white male with a family, I live in a house in a reasonably good neighborhood. I own a shotgun, pistols and other guns which I keep ready in case of a home invasion. Are you really telling me, that the likelihood of me getting shoot increased 4.5 times the minute I bought my first gun? I don’t think so. I don’t use my guns to taunt people, I don’t show off, I don’t handle them carelessly.

    Secondly, I think you can have lots of arguments for and against guns in theory. But the ugly truth is currently raising it’s head in Europe. I am originally from Germany, I have been living here for 30 years now. I never owned a gun because Germans are not allowed to have guns, except under ridiculously strict conditions, if you get a permit at all. I follow the news from Europe every day and I see two things there.

    A) crime is on a steep, steep rise due to the mass invasion of arabs and africans. Germany alone has 10,000 (ten thousand!) people coming into the country PER DAY. Crimes are on the rise. People are afraid to go out at night because they are molested and mugged by these foreigners. and nobody is able to defend himself legally because they don’t have the right to bear arms.

    B) There is a growing movement in German that considers the German government as oppressive to a degree where the government is going after everybody who is not in line with their official policy of unrestricted immigration of moslems. The German newspapers are mostly in line with the government. The biggest boulevard paper BILD has recently “named and shamed” 42 people publicly by name who are “the worst hatemongers of Germany” because of their posts on Facebook. Needless to say that these people loose their jobs not to mention other oppressive measures,
    My point is: Any government can come to the point were it starts to oppress their people. And it is easier when the people are unarmed and can not fight back.

    Therefore, whatever the cost in lives due to shootings or accidents, I consider this the true “price of freedom” and I sincerely believe that there can be no true freedom without the 2nd Amendment.

    • Hugo Lindum October 21, 2015 at 1:52 am - Reply

      “I own a shotgun, pistols and other guns which I keep ready in case of a home invasion.”

      Lets assume that you don’t have the guns kept in a gun safe as per the law – and just basic common sense. In that case, of course those guns are more likely to be used by a child or one of your family to kill themselves than to kill an intruder – especially as you yourself say you are in a safe neighbourhood.

      Now assume you *do* have then legally locked up in a gun safe. In fact, as you are German I assume you will have them locked up. So, when there is the tiny chance of a home invasion, do you think you are going to be able to get from your bed and get to the place where the guns are kept and unlock them in a reasonable time? Do you practise this regularly, if not there must be doubt you could do it?

      I note your foolish last comment: “*whatever* the cost in lives due to shootings or accidents, I consider this the true “price of freedom”. So this means you consider even 1 million deaths a year acceptable.

      As for your comments about Germany. There is no doubt there is a growing problem, but you are completely out of touch if you think that even a tiny proportion of Germans – outside of the “gun nut” crowd who think the solution is to arm everyone.

      • Darrel Moon October 21, 2015 at 7:50 am - Reply

        Mr. Lindum,

        Making assumptions like you have with regard to playerdark’s remarks does not add to the understanding of the issues. There are no real emperical data about who or how many keep their guns safely locked up and how that locked up condition affects overall gun mortality. This is information that many who do own guns may not be inclined to reveal. I own firearms and it is nobody’s business how and where I keep them. One can make guesses, as you seem to do, based on personal bias, media here-say, or anecdotal evidence. Example: you make an assumption that since playerdark is German that his guns are locked up and that he …and you accuse darkplayer of making foolish remarks?

        The gun debate is full of people willing to let their emotions run away with insults and exagerations. When you pigeon hole people as “gun nuts” who want to arm “everybody” and claim they find acceptable death rates of (in your case a conjured up number of 1 million), you only add to the problem and bring nothing new to the debate than hasn’t already been dumped on it before.

        • Linda Wallers October 21, 2015 at 9:51 am - Reply

          “There is no empirical data about who or how many keep their guns safely locked up and how that locked up condition affects overall gun mortality.” I think it is interesting that you bring this up since it is the NRA, gun manufacturers, and gun lobby that prevents the government from collecting that data and independent researchers and academia are not encouraged to collect and analyze gun ownership or gun incidents, discouraged by threats to their endowments, or professional reputations being damaged the NRA, gun manufacturers, and gun lobby. If pro-gun proponents seriously feel that guns are a benefit to our society, why not allow these areas of study to prove you right? Maybe it is because you know that such research is a threat to your position.

          • Darrel Moon October 21, 2015 at 12:03 pm

            No Linda, that is not my position and again you, like Mr. Lindum, are generating fact out of thin air. Can you provide proof that the NRA, gun manufactures, and the gun lobby, are preventing independent researchers, academia, and the government from conducting studies about gun storage? How do you think you can detect what may or may not threaten my position without fulling understanding my comment?

            I do not feel threatened by anyone collecting data about gun storage, gun control efforts, or any other investigative research. Nor do I feel threaten by more gun control/registration attempts or even the talk of doing away with the 2nd amendment, it’s outdated and misunderstood. I do not feel threatened by the bad guys supposedly planning on breaking into my house and rapping my family or Obama coming to take my guns away! Most of what one hears about the gun control/rights/threats are emotional rehtoric from both sides of the issue.

            I agree that the NRA and the overall gun lobby are a disservice to us all including gun owners. They practice the same behavior that you, Mr. Lindum, and others who speak from emotion rather than factual knowledge. I, as a gun owner, have never been asked about the storage of my firearms…by anyone and even though I believe it nobody’s business but my own, I would respond to such an inquiry; I certainly don’t feel threatened divulging such private information.

            I stand by my remarks with regard to there being too little data with which to make conclusive statements about gun storage. Maybe you should start a gun storage survey of your own rather than troll those you perceive as having a viewpoint you disagree with….

          • John October 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm

            The point is he lied.

    • Wobbler October 21, 2015 at 4:22 am - Reply

      @playerdark: Despite your confidence in your own ability to protect yourself, your racist rant about the crime rate in Germany is not born out by statistics or facts. “crime is on a steep, steep rise” just isn’t true nor is there any significant truth in the majority of your statements.

      I live in a relatively gun free environment, and as a consequence I’m not afraid of gun crime nor of criminals having easy and free access to guns. I would hate to be in a society where significant numbers of people have the same attitude as you, where they are “white” and “safe” gun owners who display such hate towards others and such a biased view against anyone not “white”.

      The country you are so proud of has got its collective head buried in the sand regarding gun ownership in the developed west and needs to grow up and see the reality of easy private gun ownership for the social travesty that it is.

    • Doug Dean October 21, 2015 at 8:25 am - Reply

      Hugo: Your strategy of not having quick enough access to a locked defensive firearm will not reduce gun violence to any significant degree. Quick lock boxes can be tactically placed where there’s no more than a two to three seconds delay over not having a lock box. And in the end, I want to PROMOTE lock boxes! As long as we live in a gun culture they’re better locked up.

      Playerdark: I would prefer life in Europe compared to the USA as far as safety from crime is concerned, although there is more home invasion crime there due to the lack of home gun ownership. Still, the perception of not needing a defensive gun is the key to reducing civil gun ownership. But you’re not saying you’d live here just because you can own guns, are you?

      Shermer: Suicide via gun is twice that of deaths from guns (statistics you cited). I suspect these large numbers will not break down in better ways when compared to no gun access. Suicide rates will be least effected, although suicide via gun is somewhat more convenient than overdose, jumping or suffocating. As far as deaths and injuries, I find swimming pools (3,443 fatalities 2007) and trampolines (109,522 injuries 2006) more dangerous. I wonder how many of those injured or shot dead from guns were justified civilians protecting themselves or even police shootings? Great caution and care is needed with guns and statistics.

      Everyone Else: Having said this, I would prefer to live in a gun free culture with the understanding that the police cannot realistically stop a criminal intrusion into my home. The police interdicting a home invasion is as big a myth as ‘owning a gun is without risk’. Of course, the degree of danger within one’s neighborhood might successfully be dealt with by throwing rocks. Just board up those windows first!

    • Gregg Alger October 21, 2015 at 8:52 am - Reply


      • Chris Craig October 21, 2015 at 9:56 am - Reply

        Yes, keep them locked up with children around but don’t forget the importance of educating them about gun safety. Out of site is not out of mind and they should be taught about the dangers of them. I taught my nieces how to shoot at 12 and 13 and that they should act as if it’s always loaded.

    • Derek October 21, 2015 at 11:21 am - Reply

      “Are you really telling me, that the likelihood of me getting shoot increased 4.5 times the minute I bought my first gun?”

      Geezus…this is not how statistics work. You cannot apply it to an individual situation.

      I think it’s probably pretty simple. If a person legally owns a guy, they are more likely to be surrounded by others who legally own a gun (this doesn’t mean the second you, as an individual, buys a gun that others around you do). States with lax gun laws that allow you to easily get a gun, also allows your neighbors and household members to more easily get a gun. States with tough gun laws that make it difficult for an individual to get a gun, also make it difficult for others around you to get a gun.

      The more people around you that have guns, the more likely (again, we’re talking likelihood, not cause and effect) that someone around you will turn to a gun during a heated argument.


      • Scott Campbell October 21, 2015 at 7:33 pm - Reply

        “States with tough gun laws that make it difficult for an individual to get a gun, also make it difficult for others around you to get a gun.”

        Huh? It’s not a state, but has a larger population than some States…..Chicago. It has some of the strictest, most draconian gun laws in the nation, yet it’s gun violence/murder is off the charts. Tell me how those laws are keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. The gun genie has been out of the bottle for 200 years here in the US. Criminals by definition do not obey laws. Why pass new laws they are not going to obey?

        • Robert October 22, 2015 at 12:09 am - Reply

          You should look up the rate of homocides per capita for all countries in the world. The US is NOT number one. Not even in in the top 10, or top 50, or top 100!!!!

          • Ken Farnsworth October 23, 2015 at 8:56 am

            112 out of 218. Not a great showing. Triple Canada, more than 4 times UK, 5 times the Netherlands. If you want to minimize it, at least give a fuller picture.

        • Derek October 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm - Reply

          ……also not how statistics work. You can’t limit the population to the city level if gun laws apply at the state level. Otherwise you’re comparing city level data with state populations across the US.

    • One of ze oh-so-supressed Germans. October 21, 2015 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      Jawohl, so sind wir Deutschen – wir haben ein Problem mit Kriminalität (6,73% der Asylbewerber, ausgehend von 800.000¹), also würden wir uns gerne bis an die Zähne bewaffnen. Damit wir die ganzen fiesen Flüchtlinge über den Haufen ballern können. Und die linksversifften Gutmenschen gleich mit. Um die ist es eh nicht schade. Wir armen, unterdrückten Deutschen.
      Jetzt mal im Ernst, wenn Du schon seit 30 Jahren in den Staaten lebst, solltest du zur wirklich fundierten Beurteilung mal wieder Urlaub hier machen. Falls du darauf keine Lust hast, solltest du dich zumindest mal mit ein paar der hier lebenden Leuten unterhalten. Und zwar mit beiden Seiten, die sich gerade im öffentlichen Diskurs ‘rauskristallisieren – den Gutmenschen und den Wutbürgern. Sonst taucht das alles nix.
      Übrigens hoffe ich, dass du weisst, warum die Waffengesetze so scharf sind – falls nicht, helfe ich dir mit dem Namen Robert Steinhäuser gerne auf die Sprünge². Hat aber auch nichts gebracht. Ein paar Jahre drauf hat Kretschmer “ein bisschen Spaß” gehabt³. Mit der Waffe, die sein Vater im Nachttisch hatte. Steini konnte ja seine Eigenen nehmen.

      English translation:
      Yes, that’s how we germans are – we’ve got a problem with criminality (6,73% by the official estimation of 800.000 persons coming in 2015¹), so we wish, we could arm ourselves to the teeth. So we can blast all those mean refugees. And the left-wing “goodhumans” [it’s an insult for people, who are pro refugees, regardless of the political position] aswell; no loss anyway. We poor, supressed germans.
      Seriously, when you’re living in the states for 30 years now, i’d recommend taking a vacation here, if you want to judge the case well founded. If you don’t like to take a vacation here, you should at least talk to people who are living here – both sides, the “Goodhumans” and the “Anger Citicens” [Wutbürger = the insult for people which are anti refugees; another one is “besorgte Bürger” = concerned citicens], which are leading the public debate.
      If not, juging doesn’t work so well.
      And by the way, i hope you know, why gun regulations are so strict in germany. If not, let me give you a little hand with the name Robert Steinhäuser² [as a reaction of the massacre, gun law in germany went so strict as it is today] But didn’t work out anyway – a few years later, Kretschmer had “a little fun”³. With the gun from his fathers nightstand. Steini before could use his own.




    • Patty November 4, 2015 at 8:28 am - Reply

      One should keep I mind that “The cost of Freedom” you are currently ok with would probably change if one of the victims of a mass shooting were a beloved family member of yours. We not only lack common sense and reason as a collective, but empathy.

  2. JO 753 October 21, 2015 at 12:43 am - Reply

    Gun Incident Tax. Google it.
    It’s the best way to fix the problem.

  3. Ronald K Hill October 21, 2015 at 12:45 am - Reply

    Fact: The only way to stop an evil person with a gun is for a good person to be armed with a gun to stop the evil person. All Obama wants to do is to take guns away from law-abiding people while doing almost nothing to stop the bad people with guns.

    No thank you. My wife saved herself and my two small children because we had a gun in the house by her bed. I was working and a thug broke into our home; my wife woke up and screamed that she had a gun and would shoot hm. Then she got the gun out of the bedside stand and called our next door neighbor who was a retired policeman. When I arrived home, my wife and neighbor were join our living room waiting for me.

    No gun would have resulted in some violence — rape, murder, etc.

    Stop the stupidity. The 2nd Amendment saved my wife from some ugly, brutal thug. Subsequently, a similar thing happened to me while at home.

    You are on the wrong track. You will never appeal the 2nd Amendment, thank the good Lord.

    Ronald K Hill
    [email protected]

    • rgreinatmac October 25, 2015 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Really Ron? And your evidence that ‘only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun’ is….? I can think of two incidents not long ago where shooters were stopped by unarmed people.

      Let us be accurate here. No one is suggesting repealing the 2nd Amendment. We have noted that guns tend to make households more dangerous rather than safer, that we have a much higher death rate from guns than any other 1st world country. Michael showed that the rate of mass shooting incidents has gone up a lot, and noted that more research is needed.

      Let’s be productive here, and stay on track.

  4. thyshuman October 21, 2015 at 12:46 am - Reply

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people and they will use whatever weapon they can find if they cannot get guns. Proof of this can be seen in Israel at the moment where Jewish people are being stabbed to death. If they start to ban knives, the haters of Jews will use stones and clubs.

    But what the US needs is more stringent licensing and special psychiatric tests for anyone owning more than three weapons. I find it unbelievable that a country that has the resources to record and store every phone call, every email and every kind of electronic communication cannot compile a full and complete register of who owns how many guns – and why!

    • JO 753 October 21, 2015 at 12:53 am - Reply

      Why? Because the NRA forced Uncle Sam to make registration tracking illegal.

      The old ‘people kill people’ argument fails to recognize the fact that guns work better than all other weapons in most situations; it’s why they are so popular.

    • Doug Dean October 21, 2015 at 8:40 am - Reply

      thyshuman: You said, “But what the US needs is more stringent licensing and special psychiatric tests for anyone owning more than three weapons.”

      There’s no valid psychological assessment that would accomplish knowing who is more likely to use a gun criminally. The biggest myth is that psychology can looking into one’s mind and know whether they’re violent or not. The only known reliable and valid measurement of whether someone will demonstrate violent behavior is their history of violent behavior. Blaming it on the nutters is a red herring.

  5. Ronald K. Hill October 21, 2015 at 1:12 am - Reply

    One more fact: thee are no mass shootings except in “gun free” areas like schools, theaters and malls. And guards who are there usually have no guns to protect the students/teachers, movie-goers, and shoppers. Even the U.S. Army has a policy that restricts soldiers from carrying guns (see the 14 Ft. Hood murders). That is a sign of insanity, madness.

    Some 20 years ago, the Kennesaw, GA city council passed a local law that required all residences to have at least one functioning gun. There are exceptions for religion and health. So the result will be mayhem in the streets,and a big increase in shootings, right?

    Wrong. In the 20 years, population in Kennesaw almost doubled, but violent crime went DOWN about 50%. Crooks and thugs decided that it would be better to rob, rape, etc. where there were not so many citizens with guns.

    Compare that with Obama’s home town, Chicago.

    • rgreinatmac October 25, 2015 at 4:02 pm - Reply

      Of course, Ron! There are no mass shootings except in gun free zones – except those on military bases, in malls, city streets, etc. Military bases are NOT gun-free zones, but military personnel are prohibited from carrying while on US soil and on base, unless that is a specific part of their duties. (Care to guess why?) At least one of the victims there were armed, and got off a few shots after being wounded.

      Then there was the Lakewood, WA officers – assassinated in a local coffee shop while in uniform and fully armed. There are many, many more, but this should suffice. Please retract your incorrect claim that they only happen in ‘gun-free zones’.

    • MikeM October 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      The whole Kennesaw, GA story is grossly exaggerated. Snopes calls it “mostly false” ( You really shouldn’t use that example.

  6. Trevor October 21, 2015 at 1:38 am - Reply

    I am not an American. I get a clear view from afar. The problem is this: Your government has fostered a culture of violence. By glamorising “serving your country”, the marines and propaganda about the “war on terror”. Recruiting tactics used at sports stadiums. Praising “our brave/wonderful/magnificent members of our armed forces” but leaving them in the gutter when they come home, raging with traumatic stress from killing strangers. Your government promotes “American exceptionalism” which by implication diminishes the value of life of non Americans. “Kill the gooks” was the battle cry in Vietnam, nothing has changed except the territory.
    Apart from the above, Hollywood has played it’s part by pumping out an endless supply of movies romanticising the American forces and demonising everyone that the military chooses to turn into an enemy. 
    Then you also have an endless torrent of violent games, violence on TV etc. 
    Your young people are being sucked into the violent culture and being manipulated by the system. Is it really that difficult to see and understand that increasingly the pigeons are coming home to roost and many of them are badly damaged and very angry. Increasingly they are taking matters into their own hands by indiscriminately shooting more strangers. Why indiscriminately shoot strangers? Well, they were taught to shoot strangers. How can they shoot the real culprits, culture, the system and government propaganda? These things are nebulous, so they let loose on substitutes.
    As you sow, so shall you reap. Not that difficult to understand, just difficult to admit – and not politically useful.

    • Virginia Gunner October 24, 2015 at 5:53 am - Reply

      “Your government has fostered a culture of violence. ”

      Any effect the US Government has had in fostering a culture of violence through military recruiting is insignificant compared to the constant barrage of glorified violence and moral degeneracy promoted by Hollywood, and class/racial warfare narrative pushed by the political left in America.

      Teach entire generations of young black men that the ‘racist’ system is out to get them and will give them no chance, thus denying them of any sense of personal potential or responsibility, and you have generations of said men that reject societies rules and laws, instead choosing the gang as their nation and crime as their career.

      This is precisely where the majority of gun violence in the USA comes from.

  7. Hugo Lindum October 21, 2015 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Only Americans in the developed world go for the logic that keeping guns keeps them safe. Meanwhile each year there are more americans murdered by guns in a month than the rest of the developed world together in a year. As Americans say, ‘go figure’.

    • Trevor October 21, 2015 at 1:45 am - Reply

      This is not about guns. Read my post.

  8. Douglas Martin October 21, 2015 at 2:41 am - Reply

    In 50 years are we going to have to put up with yahoos walking through Home Depot wearing their Captain Kirk Signature Phaser Pistol on their hip (with their robotic pit bull)? Will the be required to keep their weapons on “stun” or would not allowing them to vaporize other shoppers be an infringement of their 2nd Amendment rights?

    • Trevor October 21, 2015 at 2:45 am - Reply

      This is not about guns. Read my post

  9. Craig October 21, 2015 at 4:21 am - Reply

    Hard to believe this article showed up in the “Skeptic”, no less written by Shermer. So much for critical thinking. I just lost a lot of respect for both with this article.

    • Trevor October 21, 2015 at 4:27 am - Reply

      Sherbert is right to be sceptical. The problem is not due to guns. Read my post

  10. LiveFreeOrDie October 21, 2015 at 4:26 am - Reply

    Glad to have the smart people telling us we shouldn’t have guns. Too much of “Skeptic” sounds like liberal boilerplate. I, too, am losing respect for it.

  11. Pim October 21, 2015 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Haha, ‘Skeptic’. This site is nothing more than a confused sort of logical positivism which was discarded long ago by people as Sir Karl Popper. Logical positivism is based on this superstitious believe that our reason is omnipotent and will always lead to totalitarian ideas (“I only know the truth you don’t, now do what I tell you to do”). Just throw in some statistics and surveys and it is scientifically ‘proved’. Muhahaha, a witchdoctor would blush.

    • Johnathan October 25, 2015 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Two thumbs up! This site has become a joke.

  12. Mals October 21, 2015 at 5:34 am - Reply

    Liberal party line. Disappointing.

  13. Gina B. October 21, 2015 at 5:44 am - Reply

    I can’t believe such closed-minded people are reading eSkeptic! Please explain this to me…

    • Pim October 21, 2015 at 5:54 am - Reply

      You can’t believe it because you are so close-minded. xxx

      • Gina B. October 21, 2015 at 6:55 am - Reply

        I should rephrase this: Mr. Shermer, please explain to me how such closed-minded people are reading your publication. I am baffled.

        • Pim October 21, 2015 at 7:10 am - Reply

          Haha, yes, please ask Mr. Shermer. Maybe the ‘Master’ can tell you. Have you ever thought about forming an opinion by yourself? Because the only reason you accuse other people of close-mindedness is based on the fact that they don’t have the same political correct opinion as your ‘liberal’ gurus. You are convinced these ‘liberals’ have the correct ‘open-minded’ opinion. Therefore you copy it to be able to say that you are a gutmensch (a morally praiseworthy person).

          How extremely ironical to accuse other people of closed-mindedness.

          • Gina B. October 21, 2015 at 10:28 am


        • Doug Dean October 21, 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

          Gina: Both narrow-minded and open-minded people can read. Reading is a good thing. Let all read.

  14. nestor hernandez October 21, 2015 at 6:45 am - Reply

    Steven Pinker is right. Certain issues just get moralized. The counter arguments in the comment section have nothing to with counter statistics – just straw man and loaded with cognitive biases. The 2nd amendment has become a sacred cause that is beyond any kind of rational argument.

  15. anon1 October 21, 2015 at 7:27 am - Reply

    The most serious problem is that the strict letter of the Second Amendment (which the gun-toters conveniently ignore) specifically forbids the private ownership of firearms except within the context of the citizens’ militia (which America doesn’t have or need anymore because it’s not the 18th century and now we have a standing army). Over and over and over again (as proven by the sad headlines on almost a daily basis) guns in the hands of private citizens results in escalating gun violence–this is proven the world over (unless you consult the “statistics” cherry-picked out of context and warped by the gun lobby). To stop gun violence we need extremely strict, highly enforced gun laws. period. Guns don’t kill people–people with guns kill people.

    • shawmutt October 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Your anonymous internet expert opinion is at odds with that of many judges and lawyers.

      Further, your claim about escalating gun violence is completely at odds with the facts. Since 2004, the Assault Weapon Ban rode off into the sunset, most states enacted conceal carry laws with millions of permits issued, and millions more guns along with billions of rounds of ammo have been sold (thanks to the firearm salesman of the year, President Obama).

      Yet, our crime rates are the lowest we have seen since the 1950s!

    • litmus October 21, 2015 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      To get a real understanding of the intent of the authors of the 2nd amendment read what Jefferson and others had to say about it. Jefferson firmly believed the individual ownership of arms was a necessary counter balance to over reaching central government.

  16. Sophie October 21, 2015 at 7:42 am - Reply

    I am reminded of Dubner and Levitt’s (Freakonomics) link between the surge in abortions in the 1970s and the drop in crime 20 years later. The roots of gun violence run deeper than gun ownership. But that’s a much more difficult problem to think about isn’t it?

  17. Bad Boy Scientist October 21, 2015 at 8:29 am - Reply

    I am a bit surprised that a self-proclaimed Libertarian, like Dr Schermer, would so easily ally himself with those who want to remove or reduce rights. True libertarians are frightened by the steady roll-back of our rights to free speech (talk to Journalists) and right to public assembly to protest the government (ask members of the Black Lives Matter movement) and of course our rights against unreasonable search and seizure (Thanks DEA, we weren’t using those rights anyway ;).

    We are talking about taking away peoples’ _rights_ so the bar must be high for taking this action.

    There are three questions that ought to be satisfactorily answered before even considering restricting or removing human rights:
    1) Is the loss of this right *guaranteed* to provide a definite and general good to our society? Arguing that it is ‘likely’ to improve things or appealing to ‘common sense’ is not sufficient to begin considering taking away one more American right. The eventuality of this good for society must
    be as close to certain as the loss of that right is. Further, the good cannot be some narrowly defined thing – it must be a ‘greater good.’ For instance, banning guns will certainly reduce gun-related deaths but will it certainly reduce _all_ deaths? If eliminating a right would cause one big problem to be replaced with another then no freedom-loving nation could choose to eliminate it.

    2) Is the great good that will come about by eliminating a right significantly greater than the good that the right provided? Again, common sense arguments aren’t adequate for this. There must be clear evidence that shows this. Some may point at that statistic that a person is 4.5 times more likely to be shot with their own gun than to defend their home – but since 2/3 of all gun deaths are suicides this ratio probably says more about mental health in America than whether or not guns are useful for home defense. But even if this statistic were true and only about 20% of gun ‘action’ in the home is successful self-defense – that is a significant number of people who benefit from owning a gun. Also, note that banning guns only removes them from the law abiding citizens.

    3) Finally (Man, this is getting long) it must be clearly demonstrated that there is no other way to accomplish this good without removing or reducing human rights. Even if it would cost more money to cut down on murders via other means, a country that values human rights would foot the bill (we claim our military protects our rights and look at how much we spend on that). Suppose that a significant fraction of gun deaths were related to illegal drug activity – then there may be a way to address that aspect without trammeling the rights of the law-abiding.

    I could say more but I gotta head off to work.

    Remember: taking away rights should be done as a last resort only after all other alternatives have been explored. It is a slippery slope – one America is already sliding down – let’s no go down it any further. Let us apply reason and ingenuity to solve the problems while preserving as many rights as possible. It seems that that is central to the American Way.

  18. John October 21, 2015 at 8:44 am - Reply

    I notice the place of the mass murders you cite was missing. As I remember the reporting of the incidents, they ALL seem to take place in gun free zones. This data would argue against gun free zones. If sopping mass murder is the goal, make gun free zones illegal.
    That significant data is ignored makes this a propaganda article rather than an article in the tradition of a skeptic.

  19. acbeddoe October 21, 2015 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Leave out the suicides to get an accurate picture.

  20. Ken October 21, 2015 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Sorry, Mike. Statistics don’t apply to individuals, as you clearly suggest they do. Individual skills and strategies have individual results. That’s why some obese people do in fact lose weight and keep it off, despite dismal statistics.

  21. Richard Morris October 21, 2015 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I have high respect for Michael Shermer and loved his Great Courses “Skeptic 101” course. The problem I find with Shermer is more and more he violates what he teaches in the 101 course. (Even in the 101 course itself he committed some of the same fallacies in later lectures that he warned about in earlier lectures.) Unfortunately, I see him making cognitive errors in this article. I urge him to remain on the subjects which are his strong suits, and firearms are not one of them.

  22. d'Lynn October 21, 2015 at 9:10 am - Reply

    When the last Police Officer turns in his sidearm., because there are no more violent criminals in the country., that is when I too, will turn in my weapon. ., but until that time arrives., I will defend myself and those who cannot from those violent criminals.

    “.., the place to focus on is individual homicides.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement.., and since the vast majority of all homicides are in the inner cities – that would be “ground zero” for said focus. Now – what is that “focus”.?? How do you get all the illegal weapons off the streets., out of the hands of the criminals ?? ., and virtually eliminate the vast majority of homicides in this country. How do you accomplish that? How do you go about it? Getting really sick and tired of every pundit expounding the horrors to grandize their views.., yet never, not once have I ever seen a workable solution., not one idea put forward to get all the illegal weapons out of the hands of the criminals.

  23. Viviana October 21, 2015 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been working in Gun Violence Prevention Movement for 2 years and a half ( after Sandy Hook shooting)
    I would like to attach here my thoughts as a US physician that were posted in the blog of the Canadian Medical Association Journal after Charleston Shooting. Thank you again, I totally agree with what you said

  24. Tim Callahan October 21, 2015 at 10:21 am - Reply

    While this is somewhat peripheral to the general debate, there’s something that’s really bothering me regarding the debate over gun control laws: Republican lawmakers, among others, have balked at background checks for those purchasing guns. In what way does keeping felons and the mentally unstable from purchasing guns, or at least hindering their access to them infringe on second amendment rights?

    Please note that I don’t see background checks as a panacea for dealing with gun violence. In fact, I doubt there is any panacea. I simply don’t see laws that limit the access of criminals and the mentally unstable to firearms a threat to our freedoms. Nor do I see such laws as the thin entering wedge of a policy on the part of Big Brother to take away our freedoms.

    • A free person October 21, 2015 at 10:48 am - Reply

      “Background checks” are already federal law, have been for decades now – google “Brady Bill” and “NCIS”

      The “gun show loophole” is simply that NCIS checks are not required for transactions between private individuals – the idea being that a dad should be able to give his son a gun without undue regulatory burden.

      This exception also applies to private sellers such as estate sales, web forums, traders / collectors etc buying / selling used guns. The ATF defines where the dividing line between “an active dealer” vs not lies.

      But let’s be clear: the law is the same for everyone. No felon is allowed to possess a gun, anywhere in the US. The same rules apply for everyone.

      This whole debate need more emphasis on fact-based rigor and a lot less emotion. I see way too many un-informed comments, and I’m most disappointed in Shermer, who should know better than to regurgitate “science” without checking the counter-claims.

      For example, the “22 times more likely” trope has been clearly disproven by the CDC among other researchers. A quick napkin exercise in basic math would make that clear. Come on Shermer, do your research, isn’t that why you started the Skeptics society?

      • OneMoreTimePlease October 21, 2015 at 9:28 pm - Reply

        The gun show loophole and private sale are huge issues, as leading figures in law enforcement and ATF have long realized. Its impossible to track the “journey” a weapon makes because registration is so lax and piecemeal. What is the thinking that allows this? Why would upright citizens “hide” their ownership or evade accountability for the weaponry they own?

        Otherwise, you are very selective ..if not rather lazy..with your google research. The 22 times more likely is a very solid number. You need to read what S wrote. The sources for the data are public and the data is verifiable. The issue is simple involving categorization of reports. Unfortunately you confuse that issuewith what another issue, namely what you think the CDC “said” about how guns improve safety. You evidently did not actually read the CDC research. Check out p15 of the report summary, where basically the CDC addresses the issue of how many instances of crime were “prevented” by firearms basically said, there are a large range of estimates. None of them seem especially compelling. 2A proponents like to quote the estimates the CDC quoted as “estimates” provided to it, as if those estimates (all from parties in interest) were produced by independent CDC research. That is simply deceitful if not careless.

        You need to be aware that the CDC..and most Federal funded institutions.. are under the most sever funding pressure, guided by NRA pressure on both Houses, to circumscribe further research on this and other “gun violence” issues. Shouldn’t a sceptic be asking “why”. Wh?y are they against more research? Why don’t they welcome more data

  25. paul ainslie October 21, 2015 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Our biggest problem is over population.Too many humans using up too many resources and ruining the planet in the process.The statistics show that the likelihood of death by firearm ,whether intentional or not ,are at an alarming rate.If U.S. gun owners are comfortable with the amount of people who die because of guns and are willing to trade human lives for their right to bear arms,fantastic!Unfortunately,far more people are born than die so we have to figure out a way for the mentally ill to have EVEN EASIER access to automatic assault weapons to drastically increase U.S. fatalities.The problem is we need MORE guns.Teachers,7/11 employees,bartenders,flight attendants,dentists give em’all automatic assault rifles.All the pro gun people could then live in their perfect little paradise and we’d all feel oh so safe.

  26. Mark October 21, 2015 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Owning a firearm is a right, guaranteed by our constitution, Abortion is a right guaranteed by our current laws. In my state There was a church shooting, and a theater shooting. At the Church shooting a security guard had a weapon and she used it. (I don’t know why police don’t attend church) and the theater shooting, A right to carry, (Colorado in case you did not figure it out) state nobody was armed and police don’t go to the movies or something. I don’t do either. However in certain situations people should have a right to bear arms, If you are suffering from depression or have a sketchy background you should not be allowed to pack heat.I don’t believe abortion should be OK, However as the law is, it’s cool, that was a 180 turn of how I used to think, we grow we learn. If the laws are wrong work to change them.Gun ownership is a right, but at the same time if you find a gun at the park do not pick it up, call 911.

  27. Thomas Kluzak October 21, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

    It is truly sad that we must live in such a testosterone-riddled universe in which we all have to be such big men. Are our lives so pathetic that we need to feel like the hero in an old John Wayne movie? I can kill you in a second, I am a tough guy. It is scary to me living in a society where those ideas are so prevalent. No argument of course will convince the “big men (of whatever gender)” to give up their guns. But it seems that the second amendment could not have been intended to guarantee that everyone in 2015 can own any firearm, or as many firearms as he or she desires. Actually, it says “arms” not guns. Since nuclear weapons are “arms” shouldn’t that mean that individuals can own them? One final thought: police in New York City hit what they are aiming at about a third of the time. Don’t you wonder what will happen when all the protectors of our freedoms start shooting at the bad guy with a gun in a crowd?

    • shawmutt October 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Nice straw men you’ve built there. No one is making any of those arguments. Your are letting emotions and biases rule your thinking.

  28. OneMoreTimePlease October 21, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Its amazing how even on a forum devoted (allegedly) to rational scepticism there is so much angry emotion not far below the surface, so much willingness to bandy unsupported assertion, and so little willingness to approach a subject critically. So much argument that is mere “debate” at best, and not the dispassionate examination of a proposition against the evidence in any Popperian or scientific sense So to move out of the mire, lets look forward a couple of decades-hypothetically- to a time when our next weapons technologies stand to guns, as guns stand to knives today. It will surely happen. Should we regulate these technologies insofar as they are or can be in individual hands? If so how?. What should our principles be? Who should effect our regulation? We better have answers or at least a strategy , because small , lethal, mobile technological weapons (bearing little resemblance to guns) are on their way. And we’re stuck in a series of “must win” but ultimately irrelevant debates

  29. Brian Cook October 21, 2015 at 11:58 am - Reply

    I was so surprised to find that you and Richard, who are so brilliant, so scientific, so anti pseudo-science, that it is really difficult for me to understand how it is that you have completely bought the “Mommy State” liberal agenda lock, stock and barrel.

    What about the statistics that show that having a gun has saved peoples lives? Don’t want to talk about that, right? What is the net affect of being legally able to defend yourself in America? Don’t want to talk about the balanced perspective when it comes to guns?

    So much for critical thinking. Michael, why is more government encroachment good for anyone?

    I find statements like Obama saying that there is no way to determine who will do unspeakable things to be at least disingenuous partisan oligarchy think, and probably a bald faced lie. The guy who shot up the community college in Oregon had left a trail of hatred all over social media and the fact that no-one did anything to stop him is the real problem. Same with the movie shooter in Colorado. And there are lots of other examples.

    Yet the elitists want to disarm law abiding people. Those of us who value our freedom don’t want the government to be the only people who are armed. Historically it has resulted in tyranny. Over and over and over again.

    You need to re-critical think your liberalism, Michael.

    • OneMoreTimePlease October 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Those statistics about how having a gun have saved peoples lives are as ephemeral and fanciful as the statistics relating to how NOT having a gun has saved peoples lives. ( Guns, inebriation, anger, mental instability etc etc). For the former, blame the NRA’s continuing pressure against any serious Federally funded research into the data.

      As for the rhetoric about freedom and armaments, your definitive statement that “historically it has resulted in tyranny” seems wilfully blind to the large number of developed countries who for decades and generations seem to have managed to achieve both freedom and security, including peace in the home and on the streets to a much greater degree than the US has. (Now for that assertion there are plenty of facts and data!) Additionally, where everyone has “guns” and there is a “gun culture” they are murdering each other to a degree that they have anarchy if not tyranny. Do you want the US to become simply another “tribal” culture??

      • Brian Cook October 22, 2015 at 7:32 am - Reply

        My point about statistics was simply to illustrate that Shermer’s article was a one sided view of the effect of guns on American society. Folks like yourself who can’t accept that guns may also have a positive impact on society wouldn’t accept any statistics even if Hilary Clinton gave them to you. Unless, of course, they helped you prove your emotionally based, illogical and dangerous position on guns.

        Regarding my “rhetoric about freedom”, I simply submit the litany of examples I thought wouldn’t be needed- Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, to name a few, all disarmed their populations before embarking upon their mass murder campaigns.

        The framers of our Constitution warned us against the inevitable tendency for government to demand more and more power and control. They called it tyranny. Their entire process was designed to give individual liberty a chance to be realized. They did so by limiting the power of government. And one of the things they stipulated is that the government should never be the only armed force within our society.

        To those of you who would say that our Constitution is old and irrelevant, I say this: The American government has been acting just as the framers warned, with ever increasing intrusion and demands in the lives of it’s citizens. Thanks to Snowden, we now understand what kind of control it truly seeks. No, the Constitution is still vitally needed more than ever before, to keep the government from overstepping it’s authority.

        The rhetoric used by Obama, “If it saves just one life” (paraphrasing), is utterly ludicrous. Government *cannot* keep everything bad that might occur to someone from happening! This goal for government is unrealistic and impossible to achieve. Government should not be looked to to solve every single negative issue that someone might encounter. And we should *not* be asked to surrender our liberty for such ridiculous reasons. Even if every law-abiding American surrendered their guns today, tomorrow you will hear about another gun related death. Because criminals don’t care to follow our laws. What is it about this that is so difficult to understand?

        And as long as criminals have guns, I will expect my government *not* to consider me a criminal because I demand to be able to protect myself with the most useful tool for doing that.

        Still further, outside of the Constitutional guarantees, the right to defend one’s self and one’s property comes to us from natural law. Ask someone from a different society who has never heard of the 2nd Amendment if they would defend themselves against violence and robbery and they will say without hesitation “Of course I would”. Salmon don’t swim towards the bears, they swim away. It is a logical part of our natural world.

        To deny responsible non-violent people the right to use what has been described on this page as the most effective tool for the purpose of self defense is, in addition to being unnatural, utterly ridiculous.

        Not enlisting the responsible, law-abiding. trained and certified shooter in the struggle against crime is a large part of the reason that law enforcement is unable to stem the tide of violent crime. The more good guys that are capable of standing up to the drug dealers, gang members and psychos, the less reason that mouth-frothing gun control activists will have for their idiotic sermons. Matt Dillon had the answer when he deputized a posse to go after the bad guys.

        This is what common sense is, not the government speak “common sense measures” that the ultra left has used as a mantra against guns. What they advocate has little to do with common sense, but like the words “progressive” and “gay”, the elitists who want to be able to tell us all how to live have stolen the term “common sense” for their nefarious agenda.

        For those who feel, idealistically, that it would just be so much better if we could give up our guns, I will say that your opinion will change in a single moment, once you are accosted by some gang banger with gun who wants to rob, rape, or murder you, or all of the above. You will instantaneously want to defend yourself in the best way you can find to do so. I get being idealistic. But over the years, I have tempered my idealism with a healthy dose of realism.

        The logic of gun bans is completely backwards. If you feel that way, you need to think it through again.

        • John October 22, 2015 at 9:01 am - Reply

          Brian Cook
          I’d add that “Unnatural law” leads to collapse of the country and accompanying high (50% or more) death rate. Obey nature or die.
          Natural law says the weak/failures die. Supporting the failures or, worse, allowing them to reproduce causes all of us to fail and collapse. Ayn Rand was correct. “Atlas Shrugged” is coming.
          One problem is that the electorate does indeed want government to treat then like children and protect them from the boogie man. This is one of the problems with democracy. But then the Frames knew this because they formed a republic with distrust of the public. Remember the Frames were what is now called “the top1%”.

          • Brian Cook October 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

            Does this pass for critical thinking on the left?

  30. Sandra Duffy October 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    And this week I will read again of the US where five plus children died at the hands of their siblings playing with guns and wives shot dead by their drunken husbands and young black men shot dead by cops with hair trigger tempers and school lockdowns I will once again thank my lucky stars my family had the privilege to grow up in a gun free culture.

  31. Trevor October 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    I am not an American. I get a clear view from afar. This has nothing to do with guns. The problem is this: Your government has fostered a culture of violence. By glamorising “serving your country”, the marines and propaganda about the “war on terror”. Recruiting tactics used at sports stadiums. Praising “our brave/wonderful/magnificent members of our armed forces” but leaving them in the gutter when they come home, raging with traumatic stress from killing strangers.
    Your government promotes “American exceptionalism” which by implication diminishes the value of life of non-Americans. “Kill the gooks” was the battle cry in Vietnam, nothing has changed except the territory.
    Apart from the above, Hollywood has played it’s part by pumping out an endless supply of movies romanticising the American forces and demonising everyone that the military chooses to turn into an enemy.
    Then you also have an endless torrent of violent games, violence on TV etc.
    Your young people are being sucked into the violent culture and being manipulated by the system. Is it really that difficult to see and understand that increasingly the pigeons are coming home to roost and many of them are badly damaged and very angry. Increasingly they are taking matters into their own hands by indiscriminately shooting more strangers. Why indiscriminately shoot strangers? Well, they were taught to shoot strangers. How can they shoot the real culprits, violent culture, the system and government propaganda? These things are nebulous, so they let loose on substitutes.
    As you sow, so shall you reap. Not that difficult to understand, just difficult to admit – and not politically useful.

    • D. Fosdick October 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Oh yeah. We are way more violent than North Korea, or the Horn of Africa, or Syria, or Afghanistan, or any of those peace-loving countries…. Seriously, there are a lot of really bad studies made by people with a preconceived notion of what it “should” be. In point of fact, it’s not nearly as bad as the anti-gun crowd would have you believe. See the post-script where Shermer mentions the steady decline in violent crime in the US. There are many people, and perhaps you are one of them, who think that America is a hotbed of violence. it simply isn’t true. The vast majority of Americans are peace-loving, law-abiding citizens who just want to live their lives, raise their children, and get along with their neighbors. The great majority of violent crime is committed in the inner cities, which are a far cry from the norm of the rest of the country. The anti-gun crowd is so fanatical, however, that they will stoop to the lowest lows, including fudging statistics, using straw-men, and outright lying to convince the average citizen that the evil gun owners are the problem. There are nearly 2 million people in this country that are legal concealed weapon carriers. Why do we not see rage killings every day? Statistics show that these gun owners are the most law-abiding people in the country. To quote a Florida statistic, since 1987 there has been a “shall-issue” concealed weapon law in Florida. In all this time, only 0.03% have had run-ins with the law, of all types. That is less than the overall statistic for the general population. Think about that.

      • OneMoreTimePlease October 21, 2015 at 9:04 pm - Reply

        “Why do we not see rage killings every day?” We do!

        We are “not as bad” as Afghanistan etc is a disarming )if unfunny) piece of rhetoric but the reality is that among the developed OECD countries, the civilized democracies if you will, the US was and remains the most remarkable”outlier” in relation to gun violence. And the statistics ARE there. (Check UN and OECD databases for yourself, or check the “liberal”Economist magazine for recent parsing of the data in its coverage)

        If you set your standards by backward, intolerant, tribal, primitive tribal or clan based societies, then no worries. If not, recognize the issue.

  32. Fred October 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    It is too bad that none of the respondents including Dr. Shermer himself overlook the most likely cause of the huge number of gun related deaths and wounds in our country (USA). Probably because it is politically incorrect to point out where most of the gun violence occurs. A very large percentage of gun violence occurs in the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods (HOODS) (GHETTOS) and in these areas the main players are GANG MEMBERS. We can not realistically ever disarm law abiding citizens so that answer should be taken off the table. We can not trust Psychiatrists or Psychologists to tell us which individuals are nuts, so that’s off the table also. And society seem to be unable to come up with a solution for poverty, slums and gangs. So it looks like our SOLUTION TABLE is empty. QED there is no practical solution to the problem other than perhaps, move to another country or like some who could afford it have done, move to an area of the USA that has little or no slums,poverty or gangs. Where is that? I gue3ss some areas of Nebraska, Montana or Idaho. One law that probably could reduce the gun violence however is for all states or perhaps a federal law that adds 10 yrs to any sentence if the perp carries a gun.

  33. Janice Scully October 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    I don’t like guns, and by that I mean as physical objects. I don’t find them appealing to look at or the science of how they propel bullets forward particularly engaging. The idea that I should buy a gun, take classes on how to shoot it and worry about where it is at all times seems absurd to me. I choose to be free of that. I am a doctor and have seen too many suicides by gun. There are other means, but a handy gun works better than anything.

    I am struck by the fact that most of the mass shooters are young men. I have family members and make friends who seem interested in guns, all men. I grew up around hunters, all men. No woman in my family has ever wanted to shoot guns.

    I know there are women gun enthusiasts and those who have to defend themselves from violent men. But it seems that the Americans who are drawn to guns are mostly men. Am I wrong? It might be just my perception.

    I have trouble relating to the fear some have of even reasonable gun control. They are very different from me and I am trying to understand what that feels like.

    In a democracy two sides of an issue have to be able to use reason to find common ground.
    i have started to think of guns like I think of a life saving antibiotic. At first, maybe early in America, guns were important for safety and protecting families as pioneers moved out west. But, as too many antibiotics are actually threatening our lives by overuse and there is a call to stop prescribing so many, so the oversupply of guns is making us less safe, not more. We are out of balance. We have too many guns. There must be a reasonable compromise and a sane solution short of expecting law abiding citizens like me to pack a gun. I don’t want to live in a world like that.

  34. Terry Moseley October 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Free access to guns is nature’s way of reducing the over-population problem. It’s just surprising that the USA wants to be the one that leads the way in that regard: there are other countries where the overpopulation problem is more acute. But hey, it’s great to see them setting such a good example. It’s just a pity that so many young innocent children are being sacrificed.

  35. shawmutt October 21, 2015 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    You know you’ve been in skeptical circles a long time when you read an article by a prominent skeptic and think “did I accidentally click an old article”? Shermer is at it again, rehashing tired old debunked arguments The numbers have changed, this time claiming an increase of 1 mass shooting is statistically significant in a country of 300 million.

    Plenty here have said all I usually say in the comments, so I won’t repeat it. I will say that the claim that a locked up firearm is no use against an intruder is not a valid one. My firearm, when not on my person, is in a safe. I have thorny bushes around the entrance ways and other smart landscaping that funnels “guests” to my house, sensor lights, an alarm system (with signage around the yard), and a dog to give me plenty of time to put my fingers on the bio-metric sensor and get my gun should the need arise. If a person is that determined to get into my modest house after all that deterrent, he’s high or stupid–read, dangerous. I’m not going to hide and hope he doesn’t find my kids or rely on a criminal’s good will to not harm me or my family.

    But hey, I’m just an anonymous guy on the web. Instead of asking you to take my word for it, I invite you to the subreddit /r/dgu, where I and others catalog all the instances of defensive gun uses the media reports. There are news stories daily of folks that have no problem getting their guns when shit hits the fan.

  36. William T. Thompson October 21, 2015 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    First Shermer is mistaken in his use of the CDC stats, since those stats dont say anything about justified use of these weapons. Second, gun control does work, yes it works to reduce the number of guns available but it doesn’t reduce the demand for violent crime, and it leaves the weak or outnumbered at a disadvantage. Its so funny how anti-gun people can rationalize all day but when sh!t goes sideways they will want a gun more than anything, and they freak out because its not supposed to happen to them. Its not about guns anyway, social disintegration is the real problem. Blaming the tool is silly, a skeptic must look beyond the facade and see the hidden or less obvious cause.

  37. John M October 22, 2015 at 8:23 am - Reply

    It may be time to consider deterrence and police response times. Taking the second point first, according to a Denver, Colorado city auditor’s report of June 2014, the average police response time to a 911 call increased from 11 minutes to over 14 minutes. (The report can be viewed at Keep in mind that this is data from a major metropolitan community with an effective and highly trained police force.

    I happen to live in a rural community south of Denver and our town has no police department. Law enforcement is handled by the County Sheriff’s department. These are fine law enforcement officers but they have limited resources and they are responsible for patrolling 842 square miles – much of it very rural. Although no solid data is available, I can probably expect police response time to a 911 call in my neighborhood to be greater than 20 minutes.

    Many of my neighbors safely keep firearms in their homes. There is very little crime here. I suspect this, in part, because an intruder can expect to be confronted by a homeowner capable of armed self-defense. This idea is not just a theory. It has been verified by those committing violent crimes. In 2007, in an episode of ABC’s 20/20 (, John Stossel went into a maximum security prison to see what convicted felons had to say about guns and armed citizens. These violent offenders testified on camera that they avoided potential victims who were possibly armed. They also admitted that it did not matter to them what kind of gun control laws were in force – they would and could get illegal guns anytime they wanted. One thing was abundantly clear from the interview: they chose not to attack victims who could possibly fight back. Taking these men at their word, one could reasonably conclude that the presence or possible presence of a firearm deters crime. Leaving aside the fact that most mass shootings occur in “gun free” zones, should we disregard convicted criminals when they say that they ignore gun control laws and will attack soft targets?

    Now, unless a proper scientific study could ever be undertaken to see how many crimes do not occur because of the actual or potential presence of a firearm, we will not have all the facts.

  38. Real Red Heron October 22, 2015 at 9:45 am - Reply

    It is very Interesting to me that the one comment above that remotely makes sense in the debate stirred up by Mr. Shermer, and gets to the heart of the matter in America, was from Trevor. Yet it was ignored completely….I submit that the propaganda he spoke of is obviously working on this crowd too. It is only because he was so ignored, I felt compelled to leave a comment.

    And I would also add that the comment by Big Bad Scientist about “rights” was not too long either. Enough can’t be written and produced/published via other media about this topic. Which also gets to the more serious matter underlying Mr. Shermer’s article……true freedom. BBS, please write more.

    America as it was constitutionally created is like a battle flag that is so ripped, torn, burnt, dirty and faded that is barely distinguishable for the symbol it was originally raised in the wind to show. In like manner, our constitution is also barely distinguishable in our current American system.

    It is not “guns or no guns”, “cash or no cash”, “your land or imminent domain”, “your kids or the state’s kids”, “vaccine or not vaccine” and the list goes on and on and on. I am shocked how so many people are blinded by borders, patriotism and political rhetoric. The propaganda machine is obviously working very very well. American’s are far far less free than they believe themselves to be. Debating about “guns or no guns” is a symptom of a much greater problem, which is “freedom or no freedom”.

    Side note: With my short-term exposure to them both, I also was surprised to see Mr. Shermer and E-Sceptic publishing on this topic. It seems to me a little off the rails of their normal track. I wish Mr. Shermer would respond to some of the comments so that my observation could be more clearly seen. His absence in the comment section sort of reminds me of the times I would attend a party with the sole intention to bounce around the little groups and “stir the pot” and then slip away to nearby chair or around the corner of a wall, above on a balcony, etc., in order to listen in and watch the result of my intrigue. Maybe Mr. Shermer is sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the same herein. if so….”Cheers”.

    • John October 22, 2015 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Life is not for the squeamish. The electorate seems to want to hide and let governmant take care of them. This works for a little bit – after all the leaders need cannon fodder for the enemies guns. But too much of this leads to humanitarian beauty. And that leads to collapse as the US is currently doing since the Rights Revolution. Skepticism is supposed to be about collecting the data on both sides and scientifically analyzing it. The leader of skepticism has forgotten this and is engaged in humanitarian propaganda. As the income inequality worsens, the US collapses. Many more will die than just the failures.

    • Trevor October 22, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Real Red Heron.

      I posted my comments twice and 3 times replied to others comments that this is not about guns saying “read my post” My contribution has been so totally ignored that I wondered if they were invisible to readers is the USA! So, you have confirmed that they are visible and very obviously hit the nail squarely on the head with your observation “It is very Interesting to me that the one comment above that remotely makes sense in the debate stirred up by Mr. Shermer, and gets to the heart of the matter in America, was from Trevor. . .I submit that the propaganda he spoke of is obviously working on this crowd too. It is only because he was so ignored, I felt compelled to leave a comment.”

      Maybe because i stated in my 1st sentence “I am not an American. I get a clear view from afar”, that 99% of readers immediately dismissed it as irrelevant or unfair. Shoot the messenger rather than read the message, or, especially if the message hits an inconvenient truth.

      Maybe I should state that I am not commenting out of any negative attitude to the USA. Quite the contrary. I have travelled to 29 of your states and have a deep affection for the genuine people of the USA. I have, and still do, travel very widely. This blessing has helped me embrace all of this amazing world’s genuine people. It is this world view that enables me to see from outside what those inside often cannot. I have come to the conclusion that the biggest problem facing the world today is separation consciousness and it is exactly what is causing the problem in this debate. The real issue in this debate is hidden from thought by being sucked into the typical – this vs that mentality. Issues cannot be solved with the thinking that creates them and humanity cannot evolve until we move beyond this primitive problem. I have said this 6 times now in these posts – this has nothing to do with guns!

      • Real Red Heron October 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm - Reply

        I envy your travel, other’s should too, it always enlightens perspective…
        I’ve only made it to 27 states and out of country to Mexico. I’m a regular ol’ redneck dude from Texas.
        I believe your commentary deserves attention.
        Your welcome and I tip my hat to you sir. :-)

  39. Mike October 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Everyone should read john lotts book More guns less crime

  40. MDS-RealSkeptic October 22, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Poorly written and researched article.
    The individual numbers used are incorrect and easily identifiable within minutes of web research. To whit:
    Looking up two reports, one from the FBI ( and one from the Congressional Research Service ( both indicate that the first few “facts” listed in the article are wrong. The CRS notes an average of 2.7 mass murder incidents per year in the ’80s and 4.5/yr in ’10-’13; the FBI notes the average as 4.9/yr since 2000. Those numbers DO NOT EQUAL one incident every 2.6wks.
    The author does not even understand the CDC report: 1-the report was from 2013; 2-the number of deaths listed as “injured” is actually a total of fatally injured which INCLUDES the homicide and suicide numbers–adding those up with the fatally injured is doubling the count; 3-the non-fatal injuries from firearms in 2013 was over 84k (

    Please perform minimal fact checking and research before you publish propaganda, especially from a “skeptical” perspective.

    • MDS-RealSkeptic November 9, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Any chance this posting can get past the “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” stage? Nearly a month has passed–seems a bit suspicious.

  41. Zach October 22, 2015 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Roughly 30,000 people die a year in the U.S in car accidents. Should we get rid of cars then and the right of transportation? Analyze your statistics, correlation does not equal causation. Just because people died due to a gun doesn’t mean someone could have used another mode of weapon. Accidental deaths due to guns would be a better statistic.

  42. Brant Huddleston October 23, 2015 at 5:10 am - Reply

    How many of these mass murders were committed by women?

  43. Karina October 23, 2015 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Hi guys, I am “calling” from Germany, sitting here shaking in my boots
    Because of what is going on in this country right now with the so-called refugees, I – as an elderly
    woman living alone – fear for my life. The brazen way in which these “refugees” behave, breaking down borders, scuffle with the police, stab and even shoot each other (hello, where did they get
    these guns ?), raping and more of this kind of stuff makes me think what they will do once they
    are established here.
    I am risking a lot by writing this, because our government is keeping a tight lid on all Information
    concerning the criminal acts of our “welcome guests”, and every German who dares to speak
    out against them, or even utters some doubts about the sheer volume of these intruders, risks
    being prosecuted as a Nazi (yes, by our own people!) and a hatemonger.
    I called the police to ask what I would have to do to get a gun permit and, consequently, a gun
    Spare me the comments of the police ! I was told not to be stupid, these poor refugees wouldnt do
    me any harm.
    Now be amazed: Here you even need a gun permit for a GAS PISTOL ! (A so-called “small”
    permit, the “big” one is for real guns.
    Since the Germans always emulate big brother USA, (except in the good stuff), we also have
    school shootings and bank robberies with guns.
    I lived in the USA for several years, and wish I could have brought my good old S&W !
    Be glad that y’all have access to guns , just in case you get overrun by all of Africa and the
    Population of the Middel East !
    When they come to take my house because there is no more space for those poor people,
    I can#t even shoot myself !

    • Anonymous October 23, 2015 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      The Immigrants poem:

      I cross ocean, poor and broke. Take bus, see employment folk.

      Nice man treat me good in there. Say I need to see welfare.

      Welfare say, ‘You come no more, we send cash right to your door.’

      Welfare cheques – they make you wealthy! NHS – it keep you healthy!

      By and by, I get plenty money. Thanks to you, you British dummy!

      Write to friends in motherland. Tell them ‘come fast as you can.’

      They come in turbans and Ford trucks, and buy big house with welfare bucks!

      They come here, we live together. More welfare cheques, it gets better!
      Fourteen families, they moving in, but neighbour’s patience wearing thin.

      Finally, British guy moves away. Now I buy his house, then say,
      ‘Find more immigrants for house to rent.’ And in the yard I put a tent.

      Everything is very good, and soon we own the neighbourhood.
      We have hobby, it’s called breeding. Welfare pay for baby feeding.
      Kids need dentist? Wives need pills? We get free! We got no bills!

      British crazy! They work all year, to keep the welfare running here.
      We think UK darn good place. Too darn good for British race!
      If they no like us, they can scram. Got lots of room in Afghanistan!


      Why did they cross the ocean poor and broke?
      Because the West come here and turn everything into smoke!

      • Karina October 24, 2015 at 1:42 am - Reply

        I can only say with Trevor “read my mail” – it is not about refugees per se,
        but about the advantage to have a weapon handy in unforeseeable cases !

  44. Victor October 25, 2015 at 8:00 am - Reply


    As you know, if we start with the wrong premise, logic will take us to a faulty conclusion. No one cannot but be shocked at the tragedy of school and mass public shootings. From these tragedies and the feelings of helplessness they inspire, we come to the premise that we must reduce gun deaths. While one death is too many, there is a price to freedom and the history of governments slaughtering their own citizens leaves us with a more correct premise that establishing and maintaining sovereignty in the hands of (literally) individual citizens is the best way to prevent mass murder (numbers in the hundreds of millions) by governments. I submit to you, respectfully, that your premise to reduce gun deaths is incorrect. The more correct premise is to maintain individual sovereignty over governments. As harsh as it may sound, in a country of 320 million people, 30 thousand gun deaths is a small price to pay for individual sovereignty and freedom.

    The second factor that I would suggest to you is that in many of the cases of school and public mass shootings, mental instability (paranoid schizophrenia, severe depression) and the anti-psychotic medications used to treat these disorders is a recurring theme. Stigmatizing an inanimate object (a firearm or a hammer) seems a safe way of avoiding blame on the way our society treats our mentally ill. We need to take a hard look at our mental health system before destroying our constitutional guarantees.

    • John October 25, 2015 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      Your first point is well expressed and more scientific that the gun control left and more in line with a true skeptic.
      I suggest a slightly different view on your second point. The humanitarian view that leaves criminals and mentally ill alive and, worse, free to harm society is the problem. Many of these individuals are already identified earlier than their eruption. If they were taken out of society when first identified, the problem would be far less. How do we identify them? It’s easy, they are the ones who are non-productive such as teenage criminals, teen mental health problems, etc.

      • Doug Dean October 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm - Reply

        John, who decides who is ‘taken out of society’ or not?

  45. Will Neeb October 27, 2015 at 7:04 am - Reply

    The issue is PROLIFERATION. Its only when we hear that hundreds of millions of guns are available to criminals that we feel the need to have one. This escalation madness makes no one safer, everyone more at risk. The arguments for having restricted access to guns are identical to the argument for limiting nuclear weapons possession. The more that have nuclear weapons the more likely some unstable nation will use them or that a conventional war escalate to a nuclear one out of desperation.

    The solution is obvious but impossible in this culture of guns. The people have to, as a whole, agree to dispose of their guns (seized from criminals as necessary) and/or have hobbyists who enjoy hunting store there guns in secure lockers at armories.

    Further the naive notion that citizens need guns to protect themselves from their government denies reality about modern warfare and weaponry. Guns will not stop a modern military machine. Americans protect themselves from an oppressive government by thoughtful and well informed voting.

    • John October 27, 2015 at 7:41 am - Reply

      “Thoughtful and well informed voting”
      This is not working very well. The US has been declining for the last5 decades as evidenced by the income inequality worsening and at least 10 other indicators mentioned by Tainter “the collapse of complex societies”.
      Internal collapse means we will soon have very mean group.

    • Brian Cook October 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Weel apparently, noone can reply to Neeb. So I will say this to an obvious noob-

      Here are the fallacies in your argument:

      1. Nuclear weapons have absolutely nothing to do with self defense. Your “Proliferation” argument is mental masturbation.

      2. A “culture of guns” only exists in you warped sensibilities. I do not go down to the corner to display my firearms the way the people show, for instance, their souped up cars on the corner on Friday night. There is no culture of guns, only a culture of patriots and self-defenders who quietly maintain their constitutional rights.

      3. The need to have a gun comes from 3 sources: 1) the desire to defend one’s self and property 2) the desire to be a “difficult target” to those who might invade. The reason why the USA was not invaded in WW2 was because the US citizenry was well armed 3) the desire to be able to replace the government when it no longer suits the needs of the people, as described in the founding documents.

      4. The same issue that kept Japan and Germany from invading us keeps our own government from doing the same thing. If you think we need nuclear weapons to oppose Obama, or any other tyrant from the USA, then your head is too far in between your legs. Freedom is won or lost with small arms.Ask Castro.

      • Doug Dean October 28, 2015 at 8:21 am - Reply

        Here are my honest opinion that’s not meant to upset anyone, yet it may.

        Brian Cook said >>> 3. The need to have a gun comes from 3 sources…

        Source #1
        Do you think that the general ban on machine guns has kept school mass shootings down? In other words, if machine guns were as generally available to the public, as semi-automatic guns are now, would there be more murders?

        I think there would be more murders if machine guns were as available and I doubt arming the general public with machine guns would help. Take it a step further and, say, mortars were ubiquitous. More or less murders? Each step seems to make things a bit worse. Why not take it a step down from where we’re at now and image society without all those semi-automatics around? Less or more murders?

        I’m advocating that the USA would be a safer place to live if we did what Australia did and remove, or highly restrict, public ownership of guns. I may be wrong. It’s my present wish and it’s not soon likely.

        Source #2
        What chance do you place on the possibility that citizen gun ownership will realistically inhibit an invasion of the USA by another government with a modern military? I think there’s an excitement in making more out of the truth of an invasion than there is. The plausibility of defending the USA with hand guns is highly questionable. My guns do make my penis feel larger though.

        Source #3
        Ditto on this. I question the plausibility, not the possibility, that general ownership of guns will aid in a hostile revolution of an evil USA government. This is a myth that engenders the pride of patriotism but is, in fact, merely puffed up bullocks.

        Pretend enemies make great dragon and windmill stories. Losing sight of a fantasies’ pretense may make one seem more important via an inflated perception of one as necessary for the protection the homeland, but it’s all contingent on an unlikely, or implausible, just-so scary story.

        Invasion (#2) and revolution (#3) are real possibility to you. I accept that they are logical possibilities. This is not my argument. My question is one of ‘plausibility’. The ‘ratio,’ or proportion, between a belief and the evidence of it being true is a good definition for ‘ratio’nality. I just don’t see the evidence for the likelihood of these beliefs in our times.

        The polarity of USA gun issues revolve around being overly-gullible of our safety opposed to being overly-suspicious of our dangers. Aristotle would say it’s a virtue to be neither.

        • Brian Cook October 28, 2015 at 1:09 pm - Reply

          1. I don’t think the type of weapon makes much difference in the number of murders. It matters far more that there are more murderers than the type of weapon chosen. Timothy McVeigh killed a bunch more people than the latest high profile cases, and he didn’t use a gun to do it.

          Machine guns would be needed if the bad guys have them, and they do. If I lived along the southern border I would be mad as hell at our government for banning them because the traffickers that walk by my house every night point theirs at us. And if I lived in a gang plagued inner city and the gangs were using automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons, I would want to be able to respond in a similar fashion.

          I am talking about making the good guys as capable as the bad guys, something that every law enforcement organization in the country has done after the bloody North Hollywood Shootout in 1997. In fact I submit that things will be safer when the good guys are armed better than the bad guys.

          So I disagree that better weapons means more murders.

          2 and 3. So we go from using mortars for murder to defending against an invasion with a handgun? This is so much like the left with emotional, illogical and unreasoned arguments.

          The truth is that a well implemented guerrilla insurgency has been a successful tool of warfare against a larger and better armed adversary as far back in time as our records go. It’s the reason why we beat the Redcoats. It’s the reason that the Vietcong ran us out of Vietnam. I see no reason to believe that we shouldn’t be prepared to meet an invader or that we should acquiesce to an American tyrant because some people who don’t want to defend their freedom and think it’s not “plausible”. This is the difference between being an American patriot and being a dead collaborator.

          If you don’t see a “likelihood in our times”, then I think you are much like the entire German population circa 1933, who would agree with you. Such estimates of probability are useless. We need to be ready to defend Liberty. This concept is not new, but it seems that it needs to be taught all over again to a new generation of pantywaists.

          I’m not pretending. I’m just ready. So puff up your own bullocks.

          • Doug Dean October 29, 2015 at 7:55 am

            BRIAN: I agree that most hand weapons are insufficient for rural areas with traffickers. But long guns go through walls too easily for urban self-defense. I agree that it would be better if only the good, and not the bad, had access to guns. But I bet it would be better if we had less guns like Europe and Australia does. Good people turn bad when they use their guns in anger.

            But I asked, “Do you think that the general ban on machine guns has kept school mass shootings down?”

            I have a hard not agreeing that the greater killing ability does make a difference in mass shootings. The better response to my argument would have been to agree that greater weapons are better at killing and then point out that mass shootings are a tiny fraction of death by guns.

            2 & 3 has missed the point
            My point is not to be unprepared but not to be over-prepared (over-ready) for something that has little likelihood of happen here and now – not as it is now happening in the Middle East or was happing in 1933. Unless you evaluate the validity, or plausibility, of an actually invasion how would you know you’re not under or over reacting?

            This has nothing to do with someone thinking it’s implausible to defend their freedom. It has everything to do with the possibility of someone vainly over defending a freedom not at risk. The first is an overly-fearful coward and the second is over-confidently reckless. It’s best to be neither – and paranoid to be both.

            You said, “This is so much like the left with emotional.”

            There’s no need to be rude. Polemics is an art and best down with finesse. Remember the Nazi’s thought they were the good guys. I own a belt buckle worn by a Nazi SS soldier as a reminder of blatant self-righteousness because, along with a swastika, it has, “GOOT MIT UNS” printed in large letters across the front. It means, “God with us.” The SS were Christians; Catholic and Lutheran.

            Anecdotally, I fine most survivalist’s to be motivated by a supernatural faith for everlasting life through a personal belief in Jesus. Do you think one’s faith in Jesus correlates with the survivalists cause in your experience? I suspect a connection. You?

  46. James October 28, 2015 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I would recommend that people also go read Sam Harris’ article “The Riddle of the Gun” found on his website. He makes strong arguments on why people should own guns, pending that they are well trained at using them. Eventually I would say that a practical and reliable bio-metric firearm will be created, one that can only be fired in the hands of the registered owner. This will alleviate many of the safety problems gun owners face.

  47. Brian Cook October 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I think that if there is any place on the web where critical thinking, logic and reason are to be expected it will be here. So for the benefit of the other readers, I will discuss Doug Dean’s last post, which I find to fail all three of those requirements.

    I disagree with the idea that the lack of available civilian automatic weapons reduces the number of deaths in mass shootings. Murderers choose their weapons based on the amount of mayhem they intend. Timothy McVeigh decided that a gun would not achieve the carnage he wanted to cause, so he built a bomb. There are far more important factors in how many deaths occur when someone goes on a killing spree than whether there are automatic firearms or not.

    The fact that schools are gun free zones one of those factors. This is why we have so many lunatics going there to conduct their rampages. Gun free zones have exactly the opposite effect than the liberal left had in mind when they decided that they knew best and had government agencies implement gun free zones. This is totally backwards reasoning.

    Having trained shooters at schools is a much better solution, although irrationally, the left dislikes the idea. But in addition to allowing the good guys to take out a rampage shooter if that was needed, knowing that there are trained shooters at schools would lower the probability of ever being selected as the venue for such a rampage. This would have the real world effect of dramatically reducing school shootings and therefore the number of dead from such events.

    The sign on my lawn that says I have a security system in my house is far more effective at preventing a break-in than the actual security system is. The public knowledge that there are guns in the school that you are thinking about shooting up will cause an instant and substantive reduction in the number and frequency of school shootings.

    The idea that there will be fewer deaths because the number of rounds in a clip is confined to ten, for instance, is mistaken. So if you intend to throw more lead than that, take more clips. Sure, you have to reload more often, but ammo belts, banana clips, speed loaders, etc. can minimize this issue for a shooter. Again, having trained shooters watching the venue will make the whole affair, not just reloading, way more difficult for a would-be shooter. Life, and reloading, is just a lot harder when people are shooting at you.

    There are other examples of this kind of backwards thinking on the left, but certainly one of them is that the less effective the weapons are that are available, the less damage that will be caused by rampage killers.

    Regarding preparedness, I have no fear of “over reacting”. I don’t believe there is a way to be *over* prepared. Apparently the American military feels the same way, having built the most well equipped fighting forces in the history of man.

    If there has been any motivating factor to over prepare, it has been the threat to being *able* to prepare at all in the future because of the liberal left’s attempts to keep that from happening. The champions of gun control are the same people who are responsible for any over-preparedness, if there is any, that people are doing. I refer to the proverb that says that Obama is the best gun salesman of all time.

    Regarding the potential for weapons to be misused, I will repeat my previous arguments about having well trained people available to take out violent crooks, gang members, and psychopaths. If every citizen felt as I do that shooting competency was a duty to family, society, and freedom, then the number of people trained to respond, to an angry guy with a gun, let’s say, would minimize the effects of such events. The Fort Hood shootings, for instance, would have been a non-event if those trained soldiers nearby were simply allowed to carry their weapons.

    Regarding the assessment of whether an invasion or a change of government is imminent, I don’t believe anyone has the right or the ability to make that judgement any more than the people of Germany in 1933 were able to make that judgement. But I do believe that the old maxim that says if you don’t learn from history, you are destined to relive history, is abundantly true.

    I am not a survivalist, nor am I religious, so those questions need to be asked of someone else.

    I find it amazing that I am accused of rudeness after posts regarding various body parts, religious biases, and Nazi symbols. If I have written a polemic, it is because I expect that at least in this forum, reason and rationality will be expected. And I have seen so much in this thread that doesn’t even attempt to meet that standard. Unfortunately, people with the same lack of discipline want to use their unreasonable, irrational and illogical thinking to make policy and law that everyone else has to live by. And that may cause me to be acerbic. I apologize if that is so.

    I hope that the readers in this forum will take the time to think clearly about these issues going forward.

    • Terry Moseley October 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Even if your argument is correct, i.e. that having trained shooters at every school will reduce the number of attacks on schools, can you answer the following questions?
      Who is going to select the trained shooters?
      Who is going to train them?
      who is going to provide them with the guns and ammo?
      Who is going to pay for all this?
      Will the trained shooters be prepared to be the ones who are killed first, as that is what will probably happen? (The ‘killer’ will have the element of surprise, and will probably kill the ‘defender’ first shot, leaving the rest undefended.)
      But if schools become too difficult a target, and the killers then strike elsewhere, what’s next? cinemas? theatres? shopping centres? sports events? rallys? Conventions?
      Where do you stop?

      The only ones who will benefit from this attitude are, surprise, surprise, the gun manufacturers.

      • Brian Cook October 31, 2015 at 10:05 am - Reply

        Terry Moseley, thank you very much for your questions. I plan to answer every one of them. It will give me an opportunity to discuss the causes for the great divide in our country over guns, and hopefully, provide some more reason in this debate.

        I think it will require multiple posts to provide proper answers to your questions. So I will group similar issues together and answer them separately. First, I think some background would be appropriate.

        I am not affiliated with the NRA. Not even a member. I am also not affiliated in any way with any gun activism or lobbying organization. Nor am I employed in a gun related industry (I’ve had a career in IT for the last 30 years).

        I consider myself a democratic secular humanist and recently joined the Center for Inquiry, and I signed up to follow Michael Shermer and his skeptics online, having read his columns in Scientific American for many years.

        I am anti-religious, like Dawkins, Krauss and Shermer (and many others).

        I believe that the quickest way to clarity in any subject is to use critical thinking and unemotional reasoning. This is why I prefer the scientific method over other ways of analyzing things.

        And I was listening in my middle school civics and American history classes. Yes, I’m getting up there now, and when I went to school they still taught those subjects.

        Since my first post on this thread, I have been asking everyone, including Mr. Shermer, to employ reason and critical thinking while making their arguments. Earlier in this thread you can easily see the mess that the use of statistics makes in this argument. No one believes the other guy’s numbers. And I think statistics can be molded to purpose, so I have not used anything but reasonable arguments to make my case(s). I will continue this strategy in answering your question, too.

        Thanks again for asking those questions. I’ll do another post soon. Right now I need to get ready to give the kids some candy!

      • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 9:06 am - Reply

        The question Terry asked is, who is going to select the trained shooters?

        Sorry to start your answer to this question with another question, but who is selecting them now? Who selects the next police officer, mall security guard, or surveillance monitor?

        The answer is that there are already successful methods for finding reliable security people. Is the vetting process perfect? No. Some bad apples get through. But the vast majority of these selections result in good, reliable security staff placements.

        These armed security people are good enough to protect the President, or the House democratic caucus as they make a media appearance to demand more gun control. They are good enough to protect the Pope when he comes to America. They are good enough to protect the bank and the mall and the sports stadiums. And they can be good enough to protect our schools, too.

        Let’s back up for a minute and talk about the goal for school security, and what the challenges look like. Is there an imminent threat of terrorism in schools? Not that I can see. Are gangs causing injury or death in schools? Maybe in a few locations, but not as a general rule. Are there violent turf wars over drugs in schools? Surprisingly, no. At least I haven’t heard of this as a wide spread problem. So what is the big threat for violence and death in our schools? It is the threat of a few mentally defective individuals who value making a gruesome headline over their own life. So the deranged “active shooter” is the threat that needs most acutely to be addressed in our security planning for schools.

        A comprehensive plan for addressing this threat will include at least two armed security personnel for each school, an entry and exit plan for staff and students (including an emergency exit plan) along with some physical alterations of entry and exit points, a plan for locking down classrooms, and a plan for signaling an emergency from inside classrooms. And since I’m not a security expert, probably some planning I haven’t thought of. The point is that this threat can be addresses with the proper planning.

        Trained shooters who can act as security personnel do not have to be security-only staff. They could be teachers or administrators who also have the training to be effective in the security role. Where will such people come from? How about ex-military people who go into education after their service? How about retired law enforcement people? Or how about your good natured, very responsible neighbor who has made it their priority to become qualified for such a role?

        The media would have us all believe that violence is everywhere. We are immediately informed if any act of violence happens anywhere in our country. This can give us a distorted picture of the state of our society. I think that violence, and particularly gun violence, is really a very rare occurrence. By far, most of our society and most of my neighbors are not mentally deranged. They are very responsible family people who abhor violence and would invest their own time and resources to help stop violence if they could only figure out how.

        So there are a lot of responsible people out there who could be enlisted for the task of making our schools “ violence free zones” instead of “gun free zones”.

        • rgreinatmac November 1, 2015 at 11:29 am - Reply

          Hmm. You may have something here Brian, but ‘trained shooters’ are a rare bird. It’s not just a matter of money, it’s finding people with the judgement to provide a net benefit by being more than a simple security guard. (Sorry, but the guys making $11/hr without benefits are nothing more than eyes onsite.)

          If you are actually involved in security you understand the standard principle of ‘defense in depth’. This would be only one layer, and all layers need to be tested for effectiveness to avoid the sad and silly security theater surrounding the so-called ‘terrorist threat’. Would armed guards provide protection valued at or above the cost? Perhaps, but maybe not. If not there will be other measures that provide greater benefit for the same level of effort, and those should be applied instead. But the only way forward is to take a hard-nosed, reality based look at the dangers, risks and benefits, and that includes abandoning this nonsense that the problem is gun-free zones, or that ‘only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun’. We have too many counterexamples. In any case prevention or avoidance is a more effective tactic to defensive counterstrikes at the moment of attack.

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 11:50 am

            I guess it’s not surprising that I profoundly disagree that people with good judgment are rare. As I said in my post, I think they are not rare at all, but rather the great majority. I wonder if your pessimism about society would have you not try to protect our schools at all.

            Since you obviously have all the answers, why don’t you tell us how to it should be done? Or is it just that you want to tear down anyone who disagrees with you?

          • rgreinatmac November 1, 2015 at 9:35 pm

            “I guess it’s not surprising that I profoundly disagree that people with good judgment are rare. As I said in my post, I think they are not rare at all, but rather the great majority. I wonder if your pessimism about society would have you not try to protect our schools at all.

            Since you obviously have all the answers, why don’t you tell us how to it should be done? Or is it just that you want to tear down anyone who disagrees with you?”

            Perhaps the conversation has gone a bit off the civility curve, I was not dismissive of your recommendations but pointing out a potential problem, you may be aware of it. Good judgement is not inborn, it is created. Training someone to hit a target is one thing, training to NOT hit the wrong target is a bit harder, and takes more training. Given the number of ‘friendly fire’ accidents and wounded bystanders involving police I suspect (not know) that we might want to reach for a higher degree of accuracy. Is it available? Possibly. We have the example of several military and ex-military personnel in such shootings who draw and hold because they don’t have a clear shot, which is the proper action. Is it possible to get enough guards that well trained to do so and make a real difference? Maybe. We won’t know without more data, which is well worth gathering.

            You suggest elsewhere that your recommendation (armed guards) combined with another suggestion (block access to weapons by those who lost that right) might have a greater impact than either solution alone. I believe this is exactly right. Sure, the security work I have done is in computing, not guns. Principals are, however the same. Define the enemy, learn about them, deprive them of weapons to use, set up blocking and monitored perimeters, restrict access, defense in depth. No one tactic is totally effective but they combine to buttress each other, make successful attacks more expensive and harder to succeed. I hear very few people taking a layered approach to the problem.

            So yes, I can see some possible solutions. I don’t have enough data to say which will be most effective, what will be cost effective and which will be an expensive sinkhole to dump effort and dollars down without a bit of return. We need better data so we can understand what the problems (and they are plural) are. Then perhaps we can find ideas that may reduce (not eliminate) such attacks and reduce their death toll when they do happen. So yeah, I do have a suggestion – research.

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 12:41 pm

            In the post that prompted Terry to ask questions, I said this:

            “The public knowledge that there are guns in the school that you are thinking about shooting up will cause an instant and substantive reduction in the number and frequency of school shootings.”

            and this:

            “The sign on my lawn that says I have a security system in my house is far more effective at preventing a break-in than the actual security system is.”

            I still stand by the logic in these statements. Once people know there will be a defense to the deranged shooter threat, there will be far less of them, and most schools will no longer be selected as targets for these attacks. And most trained shooters at school will only get to use their weapon on the target range. Isn’t that the goal we should be attempting to achieve?

            It’s not so much that a good guy can stop a bad guy. They can, they do, and they should. It’s that we are advertising the lack of defensive capability by designating schools as “gun free zones”. Let’s put a sign on the lawn at school that says this is not a gun free zone, but a “violence free zone”, and we aim to stop you very quickly if you try it.

            If there are problems with this reasoning, I would like to hear about them. But please, let’s confine the discussion to logic and reason and put aside the emotion. This is the only way we will ever make any progress toward a resolution.

          • Trevor November 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm

            Sorry guys, your passionate, skillful and in depth debate is irrelevant, you have completely missed the point. This is not about guns!
            I am not an American. I get a clear view from afar. The problem is this: Your government has fostered a culture of violence. By glamorising “serving your country”, the marines and propaganda about the “war on terror”. Recruiting tactics used at sports stadiums. Praising “our brave/wonderful/magnificent members of our armed forces” but leaving them in the gutter when they come home, raging with traumatic stress from killing strangers. Your government promotes “American exceptionalism” which by implication diminishes the value of life of non Americans. “Kill the gooks” was the battle cry in Vietnam, nothing has changed except the territory.
            Apart from the above, Hollywood has played it’s part by pumping out an endless supply of movies romanticising the American forces and demonising everyone that the military chooses to turn into an enemy. 
            Then you also have an endless torrent of violent games, violence on TV etc. 
            Your young people have been sucked into the violent culture and are being manipulated by the system. Is it really that difficult to see and understand that increasingly the “pigeons”are coming home to roost and many of them are badly damaged and very angry. Increasingly they are taking matters into their own hands by indiscriminately shooting strangers. Why indiscriminately shoot strangers? Well, they were taught to shoot strangers. How can they shoot the real culprits, culture, the system and government propaganda? These things are nebulous, so they let loose on substitutes.
            As you sow, so shall you reap. Not that difficult to understand, just difficult to admit – and not politically useful. An inconvenient truth as Al Gore would put it.

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 2:53 pm

            Well Trevor, how many times have you posted this same message? I guess it’s time to answer.

            I don’t dispute that there is too much violence in media. I don’t dispute that our military has a “Gung Ho!” attitude.

            But Adam Lanza was not a discarded serviceman. For other readers on this thread, he would also have not made it passed an armed security guard, either. In answering Terry’s questions, we are talking about school shootings now.

            I want to remind those of you in the discussion today who use an S instead of a Z that you have a lot to thank the US military for. And I doubt that the British military says “Do excuse me!” when they kill foreign civilians.

            But I agree with you 100% that the issues with violence in America have little to do with guns. As I have stated previously, murderers pick their tools based on their goals, just as anyone would do with other types of work. If there were no guns, which is an impossible goal, murderers will simply pick different tools.

            This has been my point entirely. If all the guns were gone, the violence would remain. Violence will never go away completely. It is a human trait like having two legs. The way we might confront the violence is my issue with the left. The left wants to ignore all the other factors and blame guns.

            By blaming guns, we avoid the real issues that drive the violence. In fact, by getting rid of the guns, in a “gun free zone”, for instance, we actually *encourage* violence!

            Trevor is correct in saying that the assignment of guilt in this matter by the left is completely misplaced.

            Why are drugs and gangs taking over neighborhoods? Why, because we let them, that’s why! Why are school shootings such a problem recently? Why, because we facilitate them, that’s why!

            If we instead said to them, we won’t put up with your violence, and we will shoot you if you try, we will finally be *discouraging* violence, not aiding it.

            As much as they would like the authority to say they are interdicting, government does not have the resources to face this issue down in the streets. The situation will not turn around until the society itself says “we’ve had enough”, and decide to take these thugs on directly that any progress at all will be made in reducing violence, whether it’s with a gun or without. If you want the government to do this for you, you will have a long wait indeed.

        • Terry Moseley November 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm - Reply

          The idea that a school would-be shooter will be deterred by the knowledge that there’s an armed guard there and will therefore try somewhere else, like a burglar being put off by a sign saying that a house has an alarm system, fails as follows:
          1. Such shootings are almost invariably carried out be someone who has a grudge against the school or someone in it, therefore he won’t go and attack another school which happens not to have a guard.
          2. Such shooters are by definition mentally disturbed, and therefore won’t be put off by the fact that there’s a guard there.
          3. In fact, they all realise that they are probably going to get killed when the police arrive anyway, and so the presence of an armed guard will be not be a deterrent.
          4. They will simply find a way to approach the guard when his attention is elsewhere, take him out, and then start their intended shooting spree.
          5. Bobby Kennedy had armed guards, didn’t he? – That didn’t stop him being killed.
          6. Lee Harvey Oswald was killed, in a police station, surrounded by armed officers, simply because the gunman had the element of surprise. (It doesn’t matter who did it, who was behind it, or why, the point is that he was able to do it.)
          7. Finally, President Reagan, probably the best guarded person on the planet, was shot and almost killed, again simply because the gunman had the element of surprise.
          So, sorry, but your argument just does not work.

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm

            If the goal is to make it so that murder never happens, then taking guns away from responsible people fails as well. There will never be a time when murderers aren’t successful.

            My goal is to reduce their numbers. And with this goal, my plan succeeds more frequently than the plan on the left does.

            Because if only the bad guys have guns, the more emboldened the criminals will get.

            Some in this thread have used examples of countries who have confiscated guns as the ideal situation. Have these countries eliminated violence? Hardly. And I won’t allow you to dismiss my logic because it doesn’t completely eliminate all violence.

            In looking for the Scandinavian country that requires gun ownership, I discovered with a quick search that it is Switzerland. Yes, the perpetually neutral country that won’t fight on anyone’s side. According to Snopes, who have been quoted elsewhere in this thread:

            “Switzerland has lowest gun-related crime rate in the civilized world.”


            Not a bad standard to set.

            As to taking out a guard, it could happen. That’s why I suggested at least 2 armed guards. How likely it is that a deranged shooter is going to get the drop on a trained defender is up for debate, but I don’t think the argument fails because of that. It is completely ludicrous to think that a rampage killer could get the drop on two guards. Well unless they were eating donuts together.

            Armed guards are not the only thing I mentioned in my suggestions. Modifications to the entrances and exits and the other suggestions I made offer the “defense in depth” layered approach that RG said I lacked.

            If your opinion is that the only way to protect school kids better is for law-abiding people to hand over their guns, then that argument fails. Unfortunately it doesn’t just fail the logical tests, it also fails the school kids.

          • Terry Moseley November 1, 2015 at 2:53 pm

            The solution would be to take the guns off the bad guys too, although that wouldn’t be easy: criminals will usually be able to get guns somehow. The trick is to make it harder and harder for them to do so.
            And in the meantime, to stop the disturbed ‘non-criminals’ before they ‘flip’ and start a massacre from having guns. And to stop gun accidents in the home, often involving young children.
            But it doesn’t really matter what the arguments are, does it? It’s a matter of faith, almost a religion, for most American men to have guns. The reason given is ‘to stop the Government from imposing its will on the people’. Eh? It’s a democracy, isn’t it? It’s you who elect the Government!
            Well, the guns are your prerogative, and it’s your people that are being killed; so you have to live with it. But it’s one of the reasons why I would never want to live in the USA!

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

            Terry, you might want to rethink your disdain for America. Here’s an article from your own press that I’d like to hear your opinion about.


          • Terry Moseley November 1, 2015 at 3:59 pm

            Brian, I don’t have disdain for America – in many ways it’s a great country. I have visited there twice, and will be doing so again in 2017. I just said I wouldn’t want to live there!
            As for that article – well, several points.
            1. It was 2009.
            2. The increase was from a VERY low baseline!
            3. What is more important are comparisons of gun-related killing (excluding suicides) between USA and other similar countries. Look at the following statistics –
            * Of the countries in the world for which figures are available, only some of those in South and Central America, and Southern Africa, have higher rates than the USA. Most of those have serious drug-related crime.
            * Among the ‘developed world’, the USA is by far the highest, with 3.55 deaths per 100,000 population, per annum. Compare that with your Northern neighbour, Canada, where it’s 0.55: the USA rate is 6 and a half times higher!
            * Compare also with European countries such as France = 0.22; Germany = 0.20; Spain = 0.15; UK = 0.05.
            * In other words, the UK figure, in spite of that article, is less than One Seventieth (1/70) of that of the USA.
            And in none of those countries, in spite of the low rate of citizen gun ownership, is the government ever likely to ‘impose its will upon the people’. As for the USA, do you REALLY believe it’s going to turn into a military dictatorship? Of course you don’t – that’s just an excuse for retaining your (I don’t mean you personally) love affair with guns.
            So if you really want to have a gun-death rate 70 times higher than that of the UK, that’s up to you. Sorry, that doesn’t read the way I wanted to put it. But that’s what it amounts to, if you’re not prepared to face the facts, and put up with the status quo.

          • Terry Moseley November 1, 2015 at 4:53 pm

            Brian, quite apart from the gun-death statistics, you didn’t answer my other points, all of which indicated that the person who intends to commit a massacre-type killing with a gun will almost always get away with at least one killing, simply because he (and it’s usually a he) has the element of surprise. And if he kill;s the guard first, that leaves the others unprotected. And the fact that he just might get killed himself first is no deterrent – they know that they are either going to get killed in the incident, or arrested and then spend the rest of their life in prison or be executed.
            Your strategy would be ok if it was effective – unfortunately, all the evidence is that it wouldn’t: just think again about all the cases I quoted. Even on an individual basis: if I knew where you lived, or worked, and wanted to kill you for some reason, it wouldn’t matter if you had half a dozen guns – I would just pick my time and place and get off at least one, and probably a couple, of shots before you even knew what was happening. It’s only in the movies and TV programmes that the good guy gets to survive the surprise attack by the bad guy. The real world isn’t like that.
            I need hardly add that I have absolutely no intention of killing you – or anyone else!

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 3:48 pm

            Terry, I want to tell you that our two strategies against violence are not that dissimilar. We both want to reduce gun related violence.

            You want to keep criminals, psychos and terrorists form obtaining guns, which I think is impossible. Where there is a will, there is a way. And I think the evidence is in on this point.

            My approach is to make it harder (and quite a bit more dangerous) for them to *use* them!

            These two techniques can be combined and they will work together very nicely, as long as we are not talking about keeping responsible people from having access to firearms, too.

            This is our only fundamental difference of opinion.

            Governments and police departments have failed in dealing with violent crime in both of our countries. The more that responsible people of all stripes in our societies can make it harder for criminals, the less crime there will be. I believe we can agree on that.

            In places like Florida and Texas, making it easy for average law-abiding people to have and train to use guns has lead to lower violent crime rates. For me, it simply stands to reason.

            I think Britain would benefit from the dual approach I have mentioned. What are your thoughts?

          • Brian Cook November 1, 2015 at 6:09 pm

            OK Terry, let’s deal with your other points. One thing I have learned is irrefutable. You are quite a bit more prolific in asking questions than I am at answering them. Yet I persevere. I have to tell you that this criticism has been leveled against me many times by my ex-wife as well.

            But I’m beginning to get the idea that it doesn’t matter what I say, either. For instance, you explain away a British article that talks about the drastic increase in gun violence in Britain between 1989 and 2009 by saying it was a “low baseline” and it’s “from 2009”. So I assume that from your point of view, only the statistics that you care to use have any meaning. I have previously stated my reluctance to refer to statistics, but one has to wonder how Switzerland comes out in your charts and graphs.

            The fact that a shooter might get past two guards or kill one of them has been addressed in my previous posts. I have said that no one’s plan will eliminate all shooting deaths. Mine will not, but yours will not either. So don’t tell me I have reasoned improperly because of that.

            My intentions in answering your questions was to address the issues around school shootings. If you really have to worry about someone who has it in for you in the calculated way you describe, you are completely right. You don’t need a gun. You need to get out of Britain.

            I didn’t realize that things were this rough in Britain. What I’ve seen here tells me there aren’t many assassinations over here.

            But again, disarming responsible citizens as you have in Britain will be of no benefit to you if you are targeted for assassination. Neither will the government be able to protect you from the lone assassin.

            I don’t believe the movies either. That’s why I have taken defensive shooting courses. I think it gives me a fighting chance.

            The fact is that neither my plan nor your plan will have any effect on the scenarios you propose. So what benefit does disarming good citizens have? I still haven’t seen this in any of your posts.

            But I do have a question I would like you to answer. In my plan, there will be the possibility that there is a trained shooter in every home, and possibly next door, too.

            Tell me what *disincentive* does a tough with a gun have under your plan when it comes to an opportunistic home invasion (a much more likely scenario here). As far as I can tell, with a disarmed population, there isn’t any.

          • Terry Moseley November 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm

            Hi Brian,

            I only referred to your 2009 article because (1) it’s a bit out of date (2) it’s only 1 year, which may not be typical, and (3) it’s much better to take a longer term average for a more reliable picture.

            As for Switzerland, the comparable figure is 0.23: quite similar to some other European countries, but not as high as USA. Yes, every Swiss citizen is required to keep a rifle as part of a citizen’s army, but that’s as far as it goes. There are very few handguns, and even fewer high-powered automatic rifles such as seem to be favoured by many Americans. Also, purchase of ammunition is strictly limited and controlled. And most importantly, there is a register of all the guns. For some reason the NRA vehemently opposes even having a register of guns!

            Regarding your armed burglar scenario, there are various scenarios where you as the householder having a gun available would not be much advantage.
            (1) He waits until you’ve gone out to work, or shopping, or golf, or fishing, or whatever.
            (2) The burglar waits outside hidden until the householder appears at a window, and shoots him through the window, then bursts in.
            (3) Most chillingly, he walks up to your door, rings the bell, and with a gun concealed in a pocket, shoots you dead as soon as you open the door.

            So in two of those (there are of course many others), your having a gun is MORE LIKELY to get you killed, because the burglar will assume that you have one, and therefore has to kill you first.

            If all he wants to do is burgle, he can walk in, threaten with his gun, lock you in the cellar or tie your hands behind your back with cable ties, take what he wants, and disappear. That way you may have lost your laptop, smartphone, some jewelry etc, but you and your family are still alive, and you claim on your insurance. OK, nobody wants even that to happen, but it’s better than being dead.

            But it seems that we’ll never agree on this matter, so I’ll not pursue the it any further. May I end by saying that I hope that none of the above, or any other shooting scenario, ever happens to you or yours.


          • Brian Cook November 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

            Hi Terry-

            You may be right that I might not agree, although I have always preferred the most reasonable position if reason is what I find.

            But I have learned a lot about what has previously been the perplexing philosophy of the left on the issue of guns. I want to thank you for your candor and your eloquence in stating your case. I have yet to hear any of the American anti-gun politicians even attempt to state the case you put, so it was a very valuable experience for me.

            The idea that we would have any consideration whatsoever for the welfare of an armed criminal in the midst of his crime was such a new notion for me that I had to think on it overnight to simply understand how I felt about it.

            And the idea that owning a gun could make things worse for the owner was to me never put as well as you did it.

            I wonder if you feel that those views underpin the vehemence with which the American left eschews guns, or is it more a British view?

            I also wonder if you mind if I continue with my goal of answering your other questions. I think it would benefit the other forum readers.

            If you don’t respond, I will understand. But I will miss the discussion if you do stop.


      • Brian Cook November 7, 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

        I guess Terry doesn’t want to reason through the rest of his questions with me. But I think the other readers would benefit from a summary.

        I was really encouraged that someone from the far left would have the intestinal fortitude to convert us all to his view based on logic and reason. And I need to thank Terry again for the efforts he made. But I think that Terry didn’t really want to face reason, like every other lefter I have encountered to date.

        Terry’s “reason” is filled with fear, and studded with the religion of the left- the dogma they keep reciting, seemingly in the hope that if you say it enough times, it will become real.

        Terry ignored my question about the lack of a disincentive to keep violent, gun wielding criminals from committing crimes if the remainder of the population is disarmed. There isn’t any. So the obvious thing to do if your religion is illogical is- ignore it. By making sure that only criminals have guns, the lefters provide for these miscreants a perfect environment for their criminal activities.

        Any philosophy that does not include sufficient deterrence is not a reasonable strategy against violent crime.

        Let’s look at some of the things he says in “refuting” my arguments:

        1. Terry says that criminals would have the element of surprise and take out a defender “first shot’. This is spoken as someone might feel if they have never operated a gun and who had not been trained in defensive shooting. There is no reason behind this philosophy. Reason tells me that trained defenders with a secured entry would see a poorly trained Adam Lanza coming and be more than ready when he tried to enter the school.

        2. Terry says that having a gun in your house is actually more dangerous than not having a gun. It assumes that people will not keep their guns safely and will not keep their children from tragedy with a gun. This is not a reasonable position. By far the millions of guns owned by Americans are in fact handled, stored and used safely. The left likes to blow the rare tragedies associated with irresponsible gun handling way out of proportion. The expectation that there should never be an accident or an irresponsible use of a gun is not reasonable. As others have pointed out in this thread, far more people every year are killed and maimed in auto accidents than in gun related incidents.

        3. Terry’s philosophy also assumes that defenders with guns will be outmatched by criminal aggressors with guns. For the preponderance of these encounters, I simply have to disagree. My impression of criminals in America is that they are lazy and not well trained in the use of guns. Most American criminals will see the first sign that there is more effort involved with invading my house than there is for the house down the road, and never even bother to try to get inside my door.

        4. And Terry seems to be terribly naïve in thinking that an armed burglar would somehow be nicer to the family cowering in the corner if they are not armed. Maybe in Britain they would stop to have a spot of tea, too. But in America, we don’t seem to have any “courteous” criminals. The idea that we would trust our lives to violent criminals invading our house is utterly ridiculous. Or for that matter, that we would be concerned for the welfare of the criminal who is ransacking our house and possibly far worse is even more ridiculous.

        As I said in a previous post, Terry’s heart is in the right place, but his reasoning is in his way. Only when we surrender to logic and reason does a way forward become apparent. To the left I say, put away your emotion and your dogma regarding guns and let’s get about the business of dealing with violent crime in our society in a reasonable way.

        • rgreinatmac November 7, 2015 at 10:42 am - Reply

          Responding to your analysis above to Terry,
          First, I applaud your attempt to keep this on a rational level. You have made some kind of a case for guards at schools but there are some holes that need to be addressed. (Big surprise. ALL plans have such, especially in the early stages.)

          1. “Terry says that criminals would have the element of surprise and take out a defender “first shot’.” If we take out ‘will’ to ‘can’ we begin to have a rational discussion. What is the risk here, how often would it happen? That it does happen is indisputable; see the 4 officers assassinated a few years ago in Lakewood, WA, or the Ft. Hood shooter who managed to get the drop on several armed police. Would it happen enough to make this more dangerous than not having anything? Unlikely, but it does need to be addressed – probably by testing it.

          2. “Terry says that having a gun in your house is actually more dangerous than not having a gun.” This has nothing to do with assumptions, it’s been a consistent bit of evidence for the past 40 years, at least. (I first heard about it as a child.) Analysis of the data includes cases of mistaken identity, family arguments, child access and other cases of accidental discharge, and suicide. Provide countervailing evidence or suggest ways to improve the current statistics but assertions that ‘it won’t happen that way’ is ineffective when it can be shown it IS happening now.

          Of course conditions will change the risk. I live in a relatively low-risk area and still proficient at hand to hand (as well as old fashioned arms), the risk is higher with a gun than without. If I were in a high risk area or very rural then my decision might be different.

          3. “Terry’s philosophy also assumes that defenders with guns will be outmatched by criminal aggressors with guns.” Again, replace ‘will’ with ‘may’ and we have a discussion. You are on strong ground discussing the preponderance of encounters, but then drop off into the weeds discussing impressions. Your impression, my impression or the impression of cops is irrelevant being formed on an initial view of a very, very limited data set. If we look at larger data sets an drop the implicit assumption that criminal aggressors are not uniform we can get much further in the conversation, and maybe even come to some agreement.

          4. “And Terry seems to be terribly naïve in thinking that an armed burglar would somehow be nicer to the family cowering in the corner if they are not armed.” Very little argument here, as long as efforts to arm do not conflict with efforts to escape. The motivation for invasion is a key factor of course, relatively few burglaries occur while the home is occupied but when occupied the situation is generally much more dangerous and surrender too often leads to a horrible end. (This recommendation is from LEOs based on case data. Thieves are generally unarmed and withdraw, robbers are generally armed and often change to include rape, torture and murder.)

          Again, thanks for the stimulating discussion!

          • Brian Cook November 7, 2015 at 10:55 am

            Statistics are useless, because they are compiled by people with agendas.

            I ask the reader to assess whether or not my argument is reasonable.

          • rgreinatmac November 7, 2015 at 11:47 am

            Then no, your argument is not reasonable. You are dismissing evidence, which is no way to discover how things work, the first step in improvement. The discussion devolves into ‘I believes’ which gets us nowhere.

          • Brian Cook November 7, 2015 at 11:56 am

            You would have us debate the statistics from the left as opposed to the statistics from the right. This is the same failed reasoning the got us into the quagmire over guns that we have been trying to reason our way out of.

            I will not ignore reasonable evidence and I even presented some. But I am particularly suspicious of uncredited statics, and the statistics that are credited leave me wondering whose agenda the compilers are supporting.

            I suggest that we concentrate on what makes sense, and I believe I provided some of that in this thread.

          • rgreinatmac November 7, 2015 at 6:31 pm

            Er, no. Evidence is evidence, the only criteria is was it gathered correctly or not. I don’t give a damn where they come from as long as they are reasonably accurate, collection information can be attributed, etc. So, if you are challenging the accuracy of any I gave I suppose it is incumbent on me to find sources, if you like.

            It has been said that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. (tip of the hat to Mark Twain) And while it is possible to mislead with statistics it’s much harder with a knowledgeable audience and critical thinking. Yes, there have been some misleading statistics used in the gun war. They are caught pretty quickly and frankly I don’t have much respect for those who do that. There are entire disciplines built on statistical evidence, and this is one. If you want to reject that class of data I guess we don’t have much to talk about.

            The problem, as I see it is you want to use ‘what makes sense’. It sounds simple enough, but ‘makes sense’ often does not work. What do you do then? Keep applying ‘sense’ and failing? It’s your forum, of course and you can do what you like. But there’s a reason science and engineering are not conducted that way.

          • Brian Cook November 7, 2015 at 6:49 pm

            I don’t think you have quite got me on this yet. I want to concentrate on whether the reasoning used in gun arguments is sensible. Statistical arguments just get in the way of analyzing the underlying thought processes involved.

            How do you do It? Well you’ve seen me provide very lucid arguments in this thread that are not dependent on statistics. Just keep reading.

      • Brian Cook November 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm - Reply

        Terry’s Moseley asked “Who will train [the selected shooters]”.

        I expect that in Britain, it may be a larger issue than it is here in America. A quick search for “defensive handgun training” in my zip code yielded five private trainers within 25 miles. NRA also provides very solid training in this area all across the country.

        It won’t be difficult to train the defenders of schools in spite of the efforts from the left to stigmatize all things related to guns.

        If they weren’t so blindly anti-gun, police departments could decide that training school defenders was one of their priorities and help to make the effort to guard their schools more successful. I would be happy to volunteer, and I know others who would gladly sign up for this effort.

      • Brian Cook November 8, 2015 at 8:13 am - Reply

        Terry Moseley asked “Who is going to provide [school guards] with guns and ammo?”

        I’m a bit surprised that Terry would ask this question about a society that has been described by lefters as “awash” in guns. Maybe it would be more difficult to do this in Britain, where typical handguns have been banned since 1997, but I don’t really see much problem with this in the USA.

        In a previous post I said “If every citizen felt as I do that shooting competency was a duty to family, society, and freedom [there would be plenty of responders]“. If I were selected for duty guarding a school this would not even be a question, because I have my own suitable weapons and ammo. If I were not selected, I would be happy to donate weapons for use in local schools because of the priority I assign to this issue.

        But if there were new shooters elsewhere who took the initiative to become trained and they needed the correct weapon and ammo, then I would be inclined to look to the school security budget first, to retired police arms second, and to military surplus third.

        But I think that school safety is such a hot-button topic right now that even if all three of those sources were unable to provide the needed tools, benevolent community organizations or philanthropy would fill the need.

        I do not speak for gun makers, but I don’t have the same opinion about their evil intentions that is held by lefters. I would expect that they would be willing to provide weapons for school guards, if for no other reason than to show the left their altruism, but also because it is the right thing to do.

        If the left will surrender to reason on this issue and agree that school guards are a wise idea for the safety of their children, then the weapons and ammo needed will not be an impediment to the success of the program.

      • Brian Cook November 8, 2015 at 6:16 pm - Reply

        Terry Moseley asked “who is going to pay for all this?”

        Answer: Adults will pay for better school security. If not, then kids will continue to pay as they have been.

      • Brian Cook November 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm - Reply

        Terry Moseley asked “Will the trained shooters be prepared to be the ones who are killed first, as that is what will probably happen? (The ‘killer’ will have the element of surprise, and will probably kill the ‘defender’ first shot, leaving the rest undefended.)”

        I thought I should answer this question on Veteran’s Day. American veterans have been marching into harm’s way for 240 years, because they believe in freedom. I understand and respect their sacrifice, and I completely agree with their reasons. We remember them on this day, and we thank them for our liberty. But they are not the only people in our society who put the safety of others before their own.

        School guards who agree to such duty will understand that they are expected to protect school kids from rampage shooters, should that become necessary. It is the same pact that society makes with military, police, and firefighters. It is not a new concept but an old and well understood idea.

        Unpaid volunteer school guards, whose numbers you would find me within, will know going in of the requirement that they put the safety of school kids before their own, and still they will choose to accept it. I can’t think of a more meaningful way to express my fervent desire to protect freedom in our society than by protecting kids in school. If I had to die in so doing, then it will be a good day to die.

        But the remainder of Terry’s pessimistic post, where he suggests that school guards will be doing a lot of dying, is in need of further comment.

        It seems that in Terry’s Britain, criminals are much more well versed in the use of guns and in offensive tactics than any defender, trained or not, can hope to achieve. Maybe they might do a lot of dying in Britain, where the population has not had access to shooting training or weapons for 18 years.

        But I really couldn’t disagree with Terry any more. At least within the USA. School guards will have the benefit of their training as well as the benefit of thoughtful preparation for just such an event. Including the benefit of fortified schools and entry and exit plans. With cameras everywhere today, those too will be used for school security, and will be watching would-be killers. I cannot envision that security personnel will not be ready, with weapons drawn, with non-security staff and children already in lockdown or exiting, should the next Adam Lanza decide to carry a rifle into a school.

        This is already happening in schools right here where I live. The old high school building is being replaced by a new, more secure facility. What I have recommended for school safety in this thread will happen all across our nation because it is a reasonable response to the threat, whether or not the PC lefters agree with it.

        In fact, Terry’s naked fear of gun violence comes from the dogma of the left. Guns are bad. They don’t help you deal with violence, they make you more vulnerable to it. I could not disagree with this philosophy more. But if you start there, all of the other pronouncements we hear from a very scared Terry simply follow. This is why the unrealistic, illogical and unreasoning philosophy used by the left needs to be addressed directly.

        It is with a heavy heart that I look upon the failures of this philosophy from the left. Chicago and Baltimore, with some of the most extensive gun control laws anywhere in the country, also have the highest rates of gun violence and death from violent crime. But the lefter’s dogma gets recited with every new tragedy, as the President uses the occasion to beseech us all for more of the policies that lead to unabated violence, using tragedy for his political ends. Appealing to raw emotion rather than reason, all the while refusing to learn from the failures of gun control to mitigate the violence.

        Because the truth is that guns have nothing to do with the reasons for violence. Rather than addressing the cultural issues that produce this violence, we have the politically correct left blaming guns. When in reality, the violence results from gangs, poverty, and an inner city culture that says “Don’t snitch.” It comes from irresponsible parents who believe that people like them are oppressed by society and don’t have any future if they follow the rules.

        I absolutely agree with Ben Carson that political correctness is going to ruin our country if we don’t stop it. Instead of calling violent inner city thugs criminals, we have to call them “less fortunate”. We have to say that they don’t have the proper educational or economic opportunities.

        Hogwash! The perpetuation of these myths and the stifling of our reason by political correctness causes us to dismiss the irresponsible parents that bring up troubled youth that become violent when they are exposed to gang culture.

        If we don’t face what it is that causes the violence in our society, stop calling it something else, and stop blaming guns, then the lefters can plan on more of the same. Those of us who defend freedom and demand reason will not hand you our liberty in the meantime.

        Benjamin Franklin said “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

        Andrew Jackson said “But you must remember, my fellow citizens, that vigilance is the price of liberty, and you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal government.”

      • Brian Cook November 15, 2015 at 6:29 am - Reply

        Terry Moseley asks “But if schools become too difficult a target, and the killers then strike elsewhere, what’s next? cinemas? theatres? shopping centres? sports events? rallys? Conventions? Where do you stop?”

        I need to start this post by saying that I despise Islamic jihadists for their utter disregard for life. My thoughts are with the people of France today. I wish that France had not disarmed their citizens while welcoming Muslim extremists into their midst. I hope that America will not make the same mistake. Je suis Paris.

        Here I go again starting my answer with a question. What would be the downside of having all of these venues protected as well as schools?

        And here’s another question. What would be wrong with a society that has made gun violence largely counterproductive for perpetrators?

        Where does it stop? I hope it doesn’t stop. I hope we can collectively make it so useless to try to use a gun for violent crime that few ever even try. I just disagree with Terry about how to accomplish it.

        What would it take to achieve this? Well when the public knows that in general people everywhere are prepared to defend themselves against violent criminals, that the chances of being unsuccessful at the violent task they have selected is reasonably high, then fewer of these crimes will occur.

        Do we have any examples of where this has been shown to be the case? Well how about in Alaska? Just about everyone there has a gun, because of the large and dangerous wildlife they have up there. When was the last time you heard of a rampage killing in Alaska?
        What about Israel, where every person is a trained shooter? The tragedies you hear about there are all caused by Palestinians, not Isrealis.

        So why does Terry find the idea of secure venues in general to be so distasteful? Because of the superstition and dogma of the left. Guns are just bad. More trained shooters are worse, not better. The reasoning from the left starts with those assumptions. This is an emotional, not a reasoned response.

        You have heard me plead for rational, logical critical thinking in this thread. And I think it’s time to throw away the left’s irrational fear of inanimate objects and get on with the task of reducing violence in our country in a meaningful way.

        Not long ago in our national past, shooting was not stigmatized by the lefters the way it is today. Some years ago I was the recipient of a merit badge from the Boy Scouts of America for passing those requirements. Has gun violence increased in America since I got my merit badge? You bet it has. Right along with the Brady Campaign and the superstition about guns from the left.

        Gun control DOES NOT reduce gun violence. Look at Chicago and Baltimore. Yet I hear the same “more gun control” refrain from the left with each new violent tragedy. Isn’t the definition of insanity when you keep doing the same thing over and over and each time you expect different results?

        I hope the readers of this forum will surrender to reason on this issue.

        “Patrick Henry did not say ‘Give me absolute safety or give me death.'” John Stossel,, “20/20” 8/3/2001

        • Terry Moseley November 15, 2015 at 3:37 pm - Reply

          I was not going to comment further, because it seems that those in favour of having more guns, not less, have their minds made up, no matter what arguments are presented.
          But in view of the horrific killings in Paris, which of course I utterly condemn, I have to point out that there were armed guards at the Bataclan nightclub, and what actually happened was exactly as I outlined – the attackers killed them first, because they had the element of surprise. They then went inside and started their massacre.
          Which proves my point, that armed guards are next to useless if a well-armed gunman has the element of surprise. He can either shoot from a hiding position, or walk up innocently but with a gun in his coat pocket and fire before the guard suspects anything.
          And while I am replying, I’ll address an earlier point in which you referred to me as a ‘Lefty’. I wonder what gave you the right to make that assumption? Actually, I had to laugh, as that’s the first time I’ve been called that: most of my friends would say I’m definitely more ‘right’ than ‘left’, and I would say I’m a bit right of centre.
          I don’t know what your definition of ‘lefties’ is – perhaps just anyone who dares to disagree with you?
          Anyway, just think again about the Bataclan in Paris – armed guards at the door did not prevent the massacre of about 80 people inside.
          I don’t think I need to make that point again.

          • Brian Cook November 22, 2015 at 5:46 am

            Terry, I think I understand your position now. Defenders who are armed are useless because they will be taken out “first shot”, but unarmed defenders will be able to turn away terrorist bombers.

            My position on school guards is that defenders are better than no defenders. In my descriptions, they are armed because that is a reasonable and appropriate way to prepare to defend against armed rampage shooters.

            This is a maxim of my philosophy, in fact, and you will see it peppered throughout my posts. It is that the good guys should be as well armed as the bad guys. After all, if we want to ask defenders to take chances with their lives to face down the evil doers, we should at least give them a fighting chance.

            Another fundamental tenet of my philosophy is that the good guys are not confined to the government and the police, but include average non-violent citizens as well. This is why I am diametrically opposed to Hilary Clinton’s preferred confiscation plan, which she said would resemble the Australian model.

            If armed defenders are actually less capable of defending against armed killers, then how could this possibly occur?


          • Terry Moseley November 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm

            You miss the point. It’s not about unarmed defenders being able to deter armed terrorists or other gunmen – obviously they can’t. My latest point was simply to suggest that probably armed defenders can’t do it in most cases either.
            But the whole argument is not about that, it’s about whether having large numbers of guns in the community generally, will lead to more or less deaths by shooting. Or maybe you had forgotten that.
            All the evidence is that more guns means more innocent people dying, but you seem prepared to ignore that just to protect your constitutional right to bear arms. You’re free to hold that view, as long as you can ignore the evidence and/or suppress your conscience about all the extra deaths that result from such views.

          • Brian Cook November 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm

            Terry, are you saying that defenders don’t work at all? So apparently we shouldn’t try any defense? Everyone should turn in all of their weapons and kiss their tush goodbye? First their guns, then their knives. And sharp sticks, too?

            I have many problems with this reasoning. But for one thing, and I think you will concede this point, the evil-doers around us will decline to subscribe to your strategy.

            So now you say we are no longer talking about school shootings or home invasions or terrorism. Now the issue is “whether having large numbers of guns in the community generally, will lead to more or less deaths by shooting.”

            OK, let’s talk about that. You want to use a statistical argument that compares our culture and your culture to make me feel guilty that I insist on an effective method of self-defense, and on being ready to defend our liberty.

            Terry, I am not a statistic. My family is not a statistic. In spite of your statistics, we have not gone rogue, we have not been murdered, and we are armed. No one in my family has been negatively affected by our self-defense measures or philosophy. My kids made it to adulthood with a healthy thankfulness for their liberty. How does that fit your statistics?

            If statistics are so important to you, why do you have any time at all to worry about guns? Statistics show that far more people die from other causes. Why aren’t you writing about those unfortunate people? I think it’s because you have substituted emotion for logic and reason. Critical thinking shows the problems with your position. So you will switch the topic now and talk about statistics.

            I will say once more that I don’t think statistical arguments are useful in this discussion. Statistics have no bearing whatsoever on what will happen to you or to me, and they have absolutely no effect on what people choose to do in the future.

            I absolutely disagree that my “views” have had a negative effect on myself, my family, my community, or my country. Or your country.

        • Doug Dean November 16, 2015 at 9:59 am - Reply

          BRIAN COOK:
          “Well how about in Alaska?”
          “When was the last time you heard of a rampage killing in Alaska?”

          In the last 9 years only 6 states had a school mass shootings and Alaska has the third highest gun violence in all of the USA.

      • Brian Cook November 15, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

        Hi Terry. Welcome back to the discussion. It’s good to have you involved again.

        In a quick search I only found the word “lefty” in your post. I almost certainly never called you that, although I have referred to the tragic philosophy of the American left many times in my posts.

        It was never my intention to demean you personally. I have been asking everyone to use logic and reason in their arguments, and I find most of the philosophy from the left to be illogical and emotional, and so I have certainly meant to expose those limitations.

        But I welcome any well reasoned argument, as I am not too old to learn.

        My comments in the last part of this thread have been about protecting school kids from rampage shooters. Surely you don’t wish to construe my recommendations as being applicable against a well trained ISIS terror squad, do you?

        I hardly think that is reasonable. But I understand your point. I just don’t think the average school needs to prepare for terrorists. And when they do, I will certainly revise my recommended response.

        • Doug Dean November 16, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

          BRIAN COOK:
          “My comments in the last part of this thread have been about protecting school kids from rampage shooters.”

          Brian, by my count about 100 mass school shooting deaths have occurred in the USA since 2007, which amounts to one death a month within about a 9 year period. Although each death is tragic, many people think placing arm guards in schools is not a priority in light of the more than 270,000 gun deaths within the same 9 year period.

          Put it in perspective.

        • Doug Dean November 16, 2015 at 10:34 am - Reply

          Brian, I took a little time to analyze the position you are arguing from.

          By my count you mentioned the “left” in a critical way 38 times out of the 48 times mentioned in the comments to this point. The majority of the remaining 10 ‘left’ references were either in quoting you or didn’t mean the ‘political’ left.

          I don’t think anyone here is being unreasonable for disagreeing with you and yet you think those opposed to you are ‘unreasonable, irrational and illogical thinking’. Although this may be the case, your comments do attack the left polemically:

          BRIAN COOK:
          “But I think that Terry didn’t really want to face reason, like every other lefter I have encountered to date.”

          BRIAN COOK:
          “In a quick search I only found the word “lefty” in your post. I almost certainly never called you that…”

          Neither Terry, nor I, identify with the left as you seem to assume we do. You argue your right to own a gun. Fine. I own guns too. But this does not mean those who are of a different opinion are being unreasonably emotional.

          My analysis is that the source of your gun argument is without thoughtful consideration of the arguments themselves.

          “Polemic: …unlike debate, which may allow for common ground between the two disputants, a polemic is intended only to affirm one point of view while refuting the opposing point of view.” – Wikipedia

          BRIAN COOK in his own words:
          “This is what common sense is, not the government speak “common sense measures” that the ultra left has used as a mantra against guns”
          “Does this pass for critical thinking on the left?”
          “This is so much like the left with emotional, illogical and unreasoned arguments.”
          “Having trained shooters at schools is a much better solution, although irrationally, the left dislikes the idea.”
          “There are other examples of this kind of backwards thinking on the left…”
          “it has been the threat to being *able* to prepare at all in the future because of the liberal left’s attempts to keep that from happening”
          “…the assignment of guilt in this matter by the left is completely misplaced.”
          “my plan succeeds more frequently than the plan on the left does.”
          “But I have learned a lot about what has previously been the perplexing philosophy of the left on the issue of guns.”
          “the vehemence with which the American left eschews guns”
          “I was really encouraged that someone from the far left would have the intestinal fortitude to convert us all to his view based on logic and reason.”
          “Terry didn’t really want to face reason, like every other lefter I have encountered to date.”
          “Terry’s “reason” is filled with fear, and studded with the religion of the left”
          “By making sure that only criminals have guns, the lefters provide for these miscreants a perfect environment for their criminal activities.”
          “The left likes to blow the rare tragedies associated with irresponsible gun handling way out of proportion.”
          “You would have us debate the statistics from the left as opposed to the statistics from the right.”
          “…the efforts from the left to stigmatize all things related to guns.”
          “I don’t have the same opinion about their evil intentions that is held by lefters.”
          “…a society that has been described by lefters as “awash” in guns.”
          “If the left will surrender to reason on this issue and agree that school guards are a wise idea…”
          “In fact, Terry’s naked fear of gun violence comes from the dogma of the left. Guns are bad.”
          “This is why the unrealistic, illogical and unreasoning philosophy used by the left needs to be addressed directly.”
          “It is with a heavy heart that I look upon the failures of this philosophy from the left.”
          “But the lefter’s dogma gets recited with every new tragedy…”
          “Rather than addressing the cultural issues that produce this violence, we have the politically correct left blaming guns…”
          “Because of the superstition and dogma of the left. Guns are just bad.”
          “More trained shooters are worse, not better. The reasoning from the left starts with those assumptions. This is an emotional, not a reasoned response.”
          “I find most of the philosophy from the left to be illogical and emotional”

          • Brian Cook November 16, 2015 at 1:41 pm

            Ok, Doug. I believe you.

            You’ve convinced me that I AM critical of the philosophy on the left. I said this in my last post. The questions that Terry asked me to answer reflect the philosophy and the reasoning regarding guns that I have seen over and over again on the American left.

            None of the quotes you assembled attack Terry. They only attack the philosophy and the reasoning.

            Do you have any arguments with my reasoning or did you just want to give me a spanking?

          • Doug Dean November 16, 2015 at 3:32 pm

            BRIAN COOK:
            “Do you have any arguments with my reasoning…?”

            My argument with your reasoning was in my last comment; you’re acting polemically.

            Some of your arguments have substance but get lost in your diatribes against the left. If you can’t argue without mentioning the ‘left’ it’s probably because you don’t have a good argument of your own. Being opposed to the left is not a good argument. No one else here is ranting about the ‘right’ like you about the ‘left’.

            The point of a good conversation is not to convince but to understand. I understand the position you’re coming from and I have attempted to state it in my comments. I like to know if my understanding of an opponent’s argument is correct. You substitute what people have to say here with some anti-left thing happening in your head. Stop it!

          • Brian Cook November 17, 2015 at 6:13 pm

            The anti-left thing in my head? Please.

            The anti-left “thing” is in well more than my head! In fact, a conservative tidal wave is set to make both the executive and legislative branches anti-left in 2016!

            The rabid and illogical anti-gun religion that is widely accepted on the American political left is a complete disaster. If it has achieved anything, it is that violent crime has gone up as a result of backwards reasoning like gun free zones. It needs to be called out for what it is whenever someone uses one of these improperly reasoned assertions, so that more people don’t have to die because of this anencephalic logic.

            The ultra-liberal, ultra-leftist, ultra-idiot in chief, the high priest of gun control, is a shining example of why I need to point out the fallacious reasoning used by the political left. A few days after a Russian plane was bombed out of the sky, the day after Beirut was bombed, and a few hours before 129 people were murdered in Paris, Barak Obama had concluded that he had contained ISIS! Clearly, someone needs to address failures of reason on the political left.

            When people’s posts resemble the utterly failed philosophy of the left, I think it helps to point out where this philosophy and rhetoric comes from, and I intend to continue doing so when I feel the need to comment further.

            It’s true that I’m a conservative thinker politically and fiscally. I think it is substantially more reasonable. However, I don’t agree much more with republicans than I do with democrats.

            It’s also pretty clear that you don’t like the style of my writing or my thinking. But please understand that I’m not trying to make you happy with it.

            “My analysis is that the source of your gun argument is without thoughtful consideration of the arguments themselves.” I think I’ll let the other readers of the forum decide if my arguments are well reasoned or not.

            But since you maintain that I’m doing this incorrectly, then I encourage you to address the issues I touch on yourself. If the only reasoning you can do requires statistics, then feel free to analyze it the way you want to. Just don’t be surprised when I disagree.

            In the first post you make, you should correct Terry’s omission regarding the Paris terrorist attacks. The defenders there were successful at keeping the bombs out of the soccer pitch. He seems to have left this out of his last post.

          • Terry Moseley November 18, 2015 at 4:43 am


            You wrote “….Terry’s omission regarding the Paris terrorist attacks. The defenders there were successful at keeping the bombs out of the soccer pitch. He seems to have left this out of his last post.” I didn’t mention that, because it wasn’t relevant to this debate BECAUSE THOSE DEFENDERS WERE NOT ARMED! They were just normal security guys to keep out anyone without a ticket. So guns were not needed.

          • Doug Dean November 18, 2015 at 11:04 am

            Brain, analyzing the data merely demonstrated the degree that your comments are anti-left. What I want to know is YOUR reasoning about gun ownership rights. Not what you think of the left’s reasoning.

            BRIAN COOK:
            “It’s true that I’m a conservative thinker politically and fiscally…”

            For instance, as a conservative thinker are you happy with the gun rights you have now or do you think they should be increased?

            What beneficial implications would there be with your level of public gun ownership rights?

            What about the mentally ill owning guns?

            Stating the downside of your position, without the distracting criticism towards your opponents, would go a long way to show that, and what, you do think.

            I wouldn’t hesitate to ask questions like these to either side of an argument, for it shows that the individual is the source of their own thoughts and not merely being oppositional. In other words, it would help if you could positively state your reasoning on gun ownership rights without the negativity of your opponents.

            Dust me off if you want, but if you want to have fair intellectual interactions with your peers this would be a good first step.

    • Doug Dean October 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      Yes, I think we both spoke our piece. We’ll let others read and judge which of our pieces spoke to the argument at hand.

      • Doug Dean October 30, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

        Full disclosure to readers, I’m a trained gun own myself and have voted for both republican and democratic presidential candidates depending on which direction I think the government need to go. I thought I might need somewhat of a self-defense to round out the tone.

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