The Statistics of Gun Control

by: Mormon Heretic

April 28, 2013

Last week, Stephen Marsh at Wheat and Tares posted about how arguments about Guns and Gays are similar.  Steve specifically said “people post disputed statistics for the harm caused by the parties they wish to regulate or deny. In both cases, those opposing regulation point to contrary statistics showing how good either guns or gay marriage really are and how they are essential constitutional rights.” In the comments, I rhetorically asked about the National Rifle Association.  “Why do they continue to obstruct criminal/terrorist investigations? It seems that they want violence so that they can justify the use of guns! They continue to obstruct the Boston Marathon Bomb investigation.”  Specifically, this MSNBC article shows that gun control advocates have been asking to add a material called taggant to gun powder for more than 40 years so that investigators would be able to trace gun powder to a specific manufacturer.  This information would help them identify who might have bought the gun powder and hopefully find the culprits faster.

AllQuietOn responded that he didn’t think it would make any difference in reducing gun violence, and I agreed with him that he might be right in the short term.  But the real question is, would it help in the long run?  I noted in my post Abortion and Crime that Freakonomics author and economist Steven Levitt showed that gun control legislation had a small impact in reducing crime.  AllQuietOn responded that Levitt had produced a new podcast indicating that gun control doesn’t work.  Once again, this is another example of Marsh’s point:  “people post to disputed statistics for the harm caused by the parties they wish to regulate or deny.”  So I’d like to talk about the new podcast to hopefully cut through the clutter of these disputed statistics, because I believe that a person could listen to Levitt’s podcast and cite statistics both in favor and opposing gun control.

Quoting Levitt and Dubner in support of gun control

Steve Levitt Freakonomics

Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics and crime expert.

  • There were 11,000 gun murders and 20,000 gun suicides last year
  • Since 1982, we average about 2 mass shootings per year (defined as 4 or more deaths in a single incident), with 16 deaths.  (This number excluded gang shootings and armed robberies.)
  • Mass shootings are on the rise.  In the past 10 years, we are averaging 3 mass shootings with 26 fatalities.
  • Last year we had 7 mass shootings with 72 fatalities
  • The United States is more violent than other rich countries
  • The Unites States has more guns than any other rich country, averaging 1 gun for every adult
  • Levitt notes that a nuclear bomb acts as a deterrent, but guns actually promote more violence. He says that in the 1950s and 60s, disputes were often settled by fist fights.  There weren’t many fights, because the bigger guy usually won.  However, guns destroy the “natural order” of things.  A guy with a gun will ALWAYS beat a guy without a gun.  Guns have the opposite effect of deterrence, and actually promote more fights (and they are much more deadly than fist fights.)

Quoting Levitt and Dubner on why gun control DOESN’T WORK

  • Mass shootings receive a lot of publicity, but make up a small amount of the overall gun deaths.  Homicides in general are down about 50% from the highs of the 1980s and 1990s.  Deaths by gun are typically done by drug dealers, spouses, friends and family, or self (suicide.)
  • Gun buyback programs are useless because criminals don’t return guns.  (1) The guns that are actually turned in are already broken and wouldn’t kill someone anyway, or (2) by a person who inherited it that wouldn’t have used the gun anyway.  Because there are 300 million guns in America, Levitt says that statistics show that 10,000 guns would need to be turned in to prevent 1 murder.  “Successful” buyback programs typically have 1,000 or less guns turned in, making no dent in gun violence.  To really have an impact, we would need to remove millions of guns to have an impact on the murder or suicide rate by gun.
  • The current political climate only passes minimalist proposals.  For example, when Congress does pass new regulations, these regulations are on new guns only.  Guns are a durable good, and with proper care can easily last a century.  With the number of old guns already in existence, new legislation will have almost no impact.  (Levitt attributes this to a historical accident.  If guns were invented today, there would certainly be more regulation.  But since it is tied to the Constitution, people feel differently about guns.  He said that if people used marijuana for centuries, but alcohol was new, then alcohol would be seen as evil while marijuana would be seen as perfectly fine.  This is another example of a historical accident.)

Given these conditions, does that mean we just have to live with our climate of violence?

No.  Levitt says that in order to attack the problem of gun violence, we have to more effectively target the authors of violence.  If our aim is to get the bad guys to quit using guns, here’s what Levitt proposes in our current political climate.

  • If a gun is present during a commission of a crime, even if it is not used, add 5, 10, 20, or 50 years to the sentence.  This will work if there is a strong enough incentive.  Sure criminals will turn to knives instead of guns to commit crimes, but knife deaths will not increase in a 1 to 1 rate of gun deaths because knives are not as effective.  This has worked in California.  Incentives must be of this nature–you must tie these incentives to guns you don’t want.
  • In the past, we institutionalized the mentally ill.  It used to be that more people were admitted to mental institutions than jails.  Now there are more people in jails than mental institutions, and it is 10 to 1 or 20 to 1 in favor of jails over mental institutions.  Most people that commit mass shootings are mentally ill.  We should revisit this policy and try to institutionalize the severely mentally ill, rather than jailing them.

Along this line of thought, Levitt says that a component of the recently passed gun control law in New York has a provision in which mental health officials are required to report potentially violent mentally ill patients to the state so the state can check records of gun registrations to see if the patient owns a gun.  Levitt isn’t against the idea, but he says there may be unintended consequences.  The mentally ill may not tell the therapist about their violent tendencies for fear of losing their gun.  The law could have the opposite effect because the mentally ill withhold information from their therapists.

Swimming pools are about 100 times more deadly to children than guns.

Swimming pools are about 100 times more deadly to children than guns.

Levitt says that if we want to get more bang for the buck, we should tackle other issues that are much more deadly than guns: swimming pools and traffic accidents.  Far more people are killed by these two issues than guns.  Swimming pools are much more deadly to children than guns (by a factor of about 100 times); furthermore seat-belt laws, helmet laws, and better road designs will save more lives.

To this point, I’ve tried to present Levitt’s position as neutrally as possible, because I do like Steven Levitt, and I do respect his opinions.  Now I’d like to discuss my own biased opinions.

I’ve mentioned previously in my  Abortion and Crime post that harsher sentences have reduced crime, but at what cost?  I guess I find it ironic that the NRA is a big proponent of the Republican Party, and the Republican Party is a big proponent of small government.  However, the NRA is a proponent of big government prisons that are very costly.  The “land of the free” has locked up over 1 million of its citizens.  Isn’t that ironic?  (I found a very interesting post called How the NRA got rich by pushing incarceration.)  An ad by the NRA in USA Today said “Tell them [Congress] you want a crime bill with $8 billion more to build prisons, or you don’t want their crime bill at all!”  The current NRA campaign wants even more big government: armed policemen in every school.  With government spending out of control, how are we supposed to pay for these police?  Does the NRA want us to become a big government police state?  If not, how do we pay for more police and prisons when federal, state, and local governments are already having a hard time paying for current services?  We are already hearing that the Obama administration is proposing the release of non-violent offenders from prison because of sequestration.  So are Republicans for liberty or jails?  Are they for big government, or small government?

I’m also curious how you think Joseph Smith felt about the right to bear arms.  On the one hand it could be argued that Joseph was for the right to bear arms.  After all, the church has a storied history of the Nauvoo Legion, and Joseph even attained the rank of general in the Nauvoo Legion. On the other hand, Joseph was the victim of too many guns in the hands of a mob.  While Joseph did have a gun smuggled in the Carthage Jail and shot some of his attackers, he was no match for an armed mob of 200 with fully armed rifles.  Would Joseph have wished those guns were confiscated and/or registered so that we might have had a conviction.  Nobody was convicted of Joseph and Hyrum’s murder, despite the fact that some in the mob had wounds inflicted by Joseph Smith.  (Dallin Oaks book is an awesome reference on the Trial of Joseph’s assassins.)

MonsonHeatHow do you think that current church leaders feel about gun control?  Can you imagine President Monson, President Packer, or Elder Holland packing heat? jesus-gun

I think many LDS people like to think of Captain Moroni when then think of the right to bear arms.  Captain Moroni defended liberty.  But how many of us consider the opposite example of the people of Lamoni?  What would Jesus do?

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37 Responses to The Statistics of Gun Control

  1. Douglas on April 28, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    MH – excellent post, outlining the various points. I have no issue with gun “control” per se…persons who are patently unfit (mental instability and/or criminal record, minors, and imbeciles) shouldn’t have them. Most of the proposed measures would restrict lawful ownership and/or carry of firearms by those not generally inclined to rob, rape, plunder, or commit mayhem. But HOW to prevent firearms violence on the part of those that would…a laudable goal, sure, but not at the price of liberty, or at least legitimate means of self-defense?

    Firearm issues are merely symptomatic, IMHO, of a much larger problem. As Benjamin Franklin was asked once the Constitution had been drafted and signed: What did we have? A republic, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT. The Republic was “kept” largely because society was largely self-regulating. People generally did not move around too much, often living their full lives within the same twenty miles or so and rarely leaving it. Those that did had a reason. But although it’s a “global village” and once a tragedy unfolds (like a nutcase young man shooting up a school) we all know practically as the “first responders” arrive, we also don’t know and don’t feel accountable to our neighbors. Hence…mayhem reigns, and law enforcement is like the Dutch boy desperately plugging holes in the crumbled dike.

    We already have the “Solution” (conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ changing the hearts of men), but that’s a spiritual matter to be exchanged in the marketplace of ideas. Judging by the need to ramble on this post, the sales goal isn’t being met…

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  2. Will on April 29, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    To me Gun control is about how well you can control a gun.

    Of course we should be able to carry a gun. I have one on my ancle most of the time and one on my waist about half the time. With this, I usually have two.

    Joesph Smith for sure had the pepper box on him in the jail and considering he shot three men ( unfortunately none died) is us likely he had two weapons on him. In any instance, in his own words he went to the jail like a lamb to the slaughter — kicking, bucking and fighting with every ounce of energy. This phrase does not mean he just accepted his fate. Again, it is a perfect description of how he went – kicking, bucking and squealing. Fighting his fate with every ounce of energy, including shooting back.

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  3. LDS Anarchist on April 29, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    How do you think that current church leaders feel about gun control?
    I’m not sure that I really care.

    Can you imagine President Monson, President Packer, or Elder Holland packing heat?
    That would restore a whole lot of my faith in the leadership, I think. What a heart-warming image that would be. If that were the case, I think I’d actually start listening to General Conference again.

    I think many LDS people like to think of Captain Moroni when then think of the right to bear arms. Captain Moroni defended liberty. But how many of us consider the opposite example of the people of Lamoni?
    I like to consider Gideon, a church teacher who went around town “packing heat” as he preached the gospel, who had a theological debate with Nehor (who also was packing heat) that ended with Nehor pulling his sword out and Gideon defending himself on the spot with his own sword. Although Gideon lost the battle ’cause he was an old man by then and Nehor was a large and mighty man, it warms my heart that an old, ornery Nephite church teacher took the commandments God gave to the Nephites about arming and defending themselves so seriously. Considering that the laws God gave to the Gentiles are patterned after those He gave to the Nephites, no one is justified in holding up Lamoni the Lamanite as our standard. As soon as those Lamanites integrated into the Nephite nation they began raising their children to take up arms and defend themselves, just like the rest of the Nephites, so Lamoni and the other Lamanite converts got away with their covenant to not take up arms only because they were Lamanites that weren’t under the Nephite covenants God gave. In other words, they took their covenants before they integrated fully into the laws of God, and for that reason alone, the leadership let them pass, for keeping one’s covenants is a gospel law. Also, these same Lamanites were about to break their covenant and take up arms to defend the Nephites from their Lamanite brethren, but were convinced not to by Helaman, so these weren’t pacifists in the philosophy-of-man sense and their situation simply does not apply to any latter-day saint.

    What would Jesus do?
    Jesus would practice what He preaches. Since He has preached self defense to the Gentiles, if He were here, He’d comply with the same. (Although He’d likely use much more advanced weaponry, like causing fire to come down from heaven by His spoken word, etc.)

    The following is what the gospel (given to the Gentiles) teaches is our duty concerning these things:

    It is a SIN to infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms

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  4. Will on April 29, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    BTW, I love the picture of the Savoir teaching the youth how to shoot. I’m gonna print that out and put it in my gun range. Good photo MH.

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  5. Glenn Thigpen on April 29, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics. It is unclear who actually first uttered that statement, but it seems appropriate to this discussion. Some of the states that have the strictes gun control laws also seem to have the lowest number of gun related deaths. But I do not know just which states are which and what their gun related death rate was before the stricter gun control laws.
    Yet, we have Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. Assault weapons and high capacilty magazines are completely banned. Handguns can be purchased with a permit which requires two separate background checks and firearms training. Yet, Chicago homicides have increased greatly over the past few years.
    Canada, which has almost as high a gun ownership rate as the U.S. has a gun homicide rate almost a fifth lower than that of the United States.
    Both sides of the debate need to back down on the rhetoric and try to understand the source of the crime, the environment, and look for ways to lessen violent crime. I don’t believe that focussing on guns will solve the problem.


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  6. allquieton on April 29, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Good summary of the podcast MH.

    Does anyone know if Monson frequently has armed guards with him? I’m curious.

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  7. allquieton on April 29, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Obviously we don’t have enough info to be sure, but I just realized you could argue also that Jesus had an armed guard. Peter draws a sword and swings it in his defense.

    In one version Christ says “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Which could imply he is against violence. Or maybe he is just saying it carries with it a risk and in that moment it’s not a wise choice.

    But in another version he only says, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Which seems to mean he is only objecting to violence at this one moment b/c his role requires him to submit himself at this time to his enemies.

    In any case, Peter is armed and accompanying the Savior. It’s reasonable to assume Christ knew this and therefore approved of it. I think it’s doubtful this was first or only time Peter was armed.

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  8. Frank Pellett on April 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    allquieton – I’ve thought that perhaps the sword referenced there isn’t actually a metal sword, as other mentions of swords tended to refer to the toungue. What does a fisherman need a sword for, anyway? Cutting off an ear (which is another point for the sword being his toungue) is something for a skilled swordsman, not someone who just happens to have one because they feel threatened.

    To the original post – I’m all for the solution given at the end of comment 1. It’s a problem when the general opinion has shifted to feeling more safe having a gun. We seem to internalize more (and enjoy watching the drama of) the tragedies of crazies causing multiple deaths than we do the everyday and all too common deaths that happen every day.

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  9. Mormon Heretic on April 29, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Will, how do you proposed to pay for new jails with all the cuts in federal spending that you want?

    Glenn, that quote has been attributed to Mark Twain (liars, damn liars, and statisticians), and I frequently quote it in my statistics classes. We do have a culture of violence here in the USA that is much higher than similarly rich countries. How can we cut down the level of violence? I’m not sure an arms race is helpful. Maybe we should go back to fist fights?

    Someone on my blog mentioned that Jesus rebuking Peter was a sign of Christ being against violence. I guess it can be interpreted multiple ways, but I don’t see him packing heat, despite Will’s love of the painting above.

    The real question is how do we stop the culture of violence? I don’t think the NRA is stopping the culture of violence, but allowing it to fester.

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  10. Will on April 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM


    Deal with the real issue of entitlements on the federal level and let LOCAL governments figure out how to pay for jails. That’s how.

    Guns do not promote violence, they deter violence. The sub-human in Boston (the one that detonated a bomb right next to an 8 year old) would not have run through a neighborhood, if he knew it full of gun owners. Had this animal run through my neighborhood in Mormon country he would have been Swiss cheese; and, we would have called the garbage truck rather than an ambulance and the police.

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  11. Mormon Heretic on April 29, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Will, I don’t know if you’ve noticed that local governments are laying off police, and can’t afford to pay for new jails because they already rely on the feds to pay a hefty portion of new jails. So, if there’s no money for jails, then I guess we just let offenders go free, right?

    “Guns do not promote violence, they deter violence.” I’d love to see your statistics in support of this. Levitt said just the opposite, if you’ll read the OP.

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  12. Mormon Heretic on April 29, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    I should also add that the subhuman in Boston set off the bomb in front of quite a few policemen, so I don’t know how you’d have done better.

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  13. Will on April 29, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Really. Statistics on how may crimes have been avioded? This is impossibe and they were AVIODED. Meaning, they didn’t go forward with the crime because they were afraid they would get shot. How many gun stores have been robbed for instance.

    As for the sub-human, I was speaking of the chase that took place AFTER the bombing. If someone were hiding in my boat, I wouldn’t call the cops, I would grab my AR-15 with the 30 round clip. More importantly, if this creature knew everyone had weapons he would be less inclined to hide in someone’s boat or break into thier home. That was my point.

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  14. Mormon Heretic on April 30, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Will, I didn’t used to believe in reincarnation, but I think you were a chihuahua in your previous life–all bark and no bite. I’m sure the cops would have thrown you in jail had you actually done what you stated (and I would hope they would throw away the key.)

    One last thought for you to consider from Steve Levitt, a man that actually studies crime and doesn’t bark nonsense.

    Levitt notes that a nuclear bomb acts as a deterrent, but guns actually promote more violence. He says that in the 1950s and 60s, disputes were often settled by fist fights. There weren’t many fights, because the bigger guy usually won. However, guns destroy the “natural order” of things. A guy with a gun will ALWAYS beat a guy without a gun. Guns have the opposite effect of deterrence, and actually promote more fights (and they are much more deadly than fist fights.)

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  15. freedom lover on April 30, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    I have a general question. Do any of you commenters/readers believe that the Constitution is a divinely inspired document. If it is, which is what I wholeheartedly believe, then the point is not the statistics or justifications, but it is whether we believe that the 2nd amendment should be upheld, and that NO infringement means NO infringement. The Lord can only do His work in a free land, and we are giving away our freedoms with frightening speed. We are on a very fast decline into bondage.

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  16. Frank Pellett on April 30, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Whether or not you believe it is an inspired document, it’s wholly possible to come up with different meanings to what is written. It’s a problem when the amendment talkes about a “well-regulated militia”, not saying a lot of things people assume this must mean. You could have large debates on just those three words – does “well-regulated” mean the government should have strict (or light) regulations on gun ownership? Does “militia” mean this doesn’t apply to individuals?

    We believe the Bible is inspired, but that doesn’t stop us from having different ideas on what it actually means.

    And for Will – it’s amazing how someone who asserts their right to the 2nd amendment would prefer to take the law in their own hands, fully ignoring the 5th, 6th, and 7th. If you had found the accused bomber in your boat (assmuing you had the right person) and filled it with bullet holes, you’d have been charged with murder, and rightly so.

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  17. Mormon Heretic on April 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Freedom Lover, Do you believe slavery was an inspired part of the original constitution? How about prevention of women from voting? Were the changes to the constitution preventing slavery and allowing women to vote inspired? Was Prohibition inspired? Was removal of Prohibition inspired?

    The point is that not every piece of the original constitution was inspired. Levitt says that the 2nd amendment is more of a historical accident than anything else and certainly if guns had been invented around the same time that cars were invented, guns would have been regulated much like cars currently are.

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  18. Will on April 30, 2013 at 12:19 PM


    In my portion of America, we still have the right to defend ourselves and our homes. If someone breaks into my home I have the right to put a bullet their head. It is self defense.

    The main point is that if these neighborhoods were armed and he knew it, he would be less inclined to hold it hostage. He would go to an easier target. Again, how many gun stores have been robbed at gun point. I would guess none.

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  19. Frank Pellett on April 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Funny – it took me almost no time at all to google “gun shop robbery” and come up with a recent example:
    With all the rhetoric that “bad guys don’t use the lawful process to get guns” – where do people think they find them? Rummage sales? They steal them from gun owners. So much for being afraid of a home with a gun. Get a gun in a robbery? Bonus!

    No idea what portion of America you live in, but the use of deadly force varies by State (and sometimes County). I highly doubt it would apploy to you finding someone in your boat days after a bombing. You would have no way of knowing the person was the perpetrator, even if they are accused. That’s why we have due process laws. I certainly hope no kid happens to hide on you property one day you decide to go out shooting for perps.

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  20. Glenn Thigpen on April 30, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    MH, I do not think that we have a culture of violence in the U.S. I do believe we have enclaves of violence.

    But, then again, you may be right. I don’t know if our movies reflect a culture of violence, or whether they are on the leading edge of unwitting advocacy.

    And the ease of obtaining materials to build weapons of more or less mass destruction is frightening.

    I thought it was bad back in the days of zip guns, but now, anyone with a little determination can build a bomb which can blow up a building.

    I don’t know what the solutions are.


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  21. Mormon Heretic on April 30, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Frank, one thing I’ve learned about Will–he doesn’t let good facts or statistics get in the way of a stupid rhetorical argument. I thought he might have something interesting to say about spending tax money on jails, but alas I was disappointed again. Apparently Will likes a police state and spending money on jails.

    Regarding the “culture of violence”, this is how the NRA actually does more harm than good. To be sure, I have no problem with the concept of “good guys” owning guns, but the NRA seems bent on protecting the bad guys with guns. When Levitt talks about our current political culture, to me this is code for “the NRA neuters gun control so that it couldn’t possibly be effective.” I view the NRA as nothing but a bunch of obstructionists that seem to enjoy helping criminals commit gun crimes, all in the name of helping “the good guys.” I think the NRA are the bad guys.

    I did another post on violence, and this is why guns make the situation worse.

    “More recently, Thomas Schelling gives the analogy of a homeowner who hears a rustling in the basement. Being a good American, he has a pistol in the nightstand, pulls out his gun, and walks down the stairs. And what does he see but a burglar with a gun in his hand. Now, each one of them is thinking, “I don’t really want to kill that guy, but he’s about to kill me. Maybe I had better shoot him, before he shoots me, especially since, even if he doesn’t want to kill me, he’s probably worrying right now that I might kill him before he kills me.” And so on.”

    There’s also the link in the OP where a husband was showing a wife how to handle a gun. Both of them were drunk, and the wife accidentally shot her husband 2 days ago.. In her panic she screams and awakens her 5 year old, but the 2 year old stayed asleep. The husband died, and she has been arrested for involuntary manslaughter. So when Jesus says, “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword”, this is a perfect example of how that happens. Levitt notes that people who have no guns in the house pretty much never die by the hands of a gun. If you don’t want to die by a gun, don’t own a gun, and don’t be a drug dealer. It’s pretty much the best statistics for why you shouldn’t own a gun. (I guess I’ll listen to my wife and not get a swimming pool too.)

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  22. brjones on April 30, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Will, not surprisingly, you have no clue what you’re talking about. If you live in any one of the united states of America, you absolutely do not have the right to put a bullet in someone’s head simply because they break into your house. The scenario you described has no relation to self defense and if you did what you said you would do in that circumstance, you would almost certainly be arrested for murder, or at least manslaughter. The same holds true for the “sub human” hiding in your boat. Thank you for so clearly making the case for everyone in favor of gun control. For all you people making the argument that all gun control will do is take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens, please know that you are arming people like Will.

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  23. FireTag on April 30, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    I thought this was an excellent summary of the podcast. Afterward, when everybody got passionate, not so much.

    Rather than express my own biases, I thought I’d go to another angle and note that the number of PASSIONATE people on each side of the issue matters a lot more than merely the number of people agreeing with a position but not really caring much. The Washington Post / ABC polling earlier this month noted that the passion was decidedly on the side of the NRA. I do NOT mean by that statement that the passion was caused by the NRA. To the contrary, the NRA is fueled by the passion. (What are the advantages of belonging to the NRA if you aren’t passionate about guns? Do they offer better health care discounts than you’d get by joining the AARP?)

    See the following link:

    from a pro-gun control blog to show how much more involved in the political process gun owners are than gun opponents. In fact, I saw a breakdown of the demographic data from the poll in a graphic somewhere that indicated that the most passionate gun control advocates tended to be those with post-graduate degrees living in the Northeast (i.e., even more so than liberals or democrats in general) who are probably the least likely to be threatened with a gun.

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  24. FireTag on April 30, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    Frank Pellett:

    I see your point about a fisherman not carrying a sword, but it would be hard to be a working fisherman without carrying a knife, I would think, and that’s easier to use on ears than a sword would be.

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  25. alice on May 1, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    BURKESVILLE, Ky. — Authorities in southern Kentucky say a 2-year-old girl has been accidentally shot and killed by her 5-year-old brother, who was playing with a .22-caliber rifle he received as a gift.

    Kentucky State Police said the toddler was shot just after 1 p.m. CDT Tuesday in Cumberland County and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

    Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the children’s mother was at home at the time.

    White told the newspaper that the boy received the rifle made for youths last year and is used to shooting it. He said the gun was kept in a corner and the family didn’t realize a shell was left inside it.

    White said the shooting will be ruled accidental.

    An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.


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  26. Will on May 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM


    Let’s not forget the context of my comment. I was speaking about an Animal that 1) dropped a bomb off right next to an 8 year old and hundreds of other people 2) He and his worthless brother detonated the bomb line of sight, meaning they had to be watching it when it went off 3) After committing mass murder and carniage they killed a MIT cop, kidnapped a 26 year old citizen (this guy was a stud and the reason these creeps got caught) and then held a neighborhood hostage.

    IN THIS CONTEXT, they i would have 1) pulled out my assault rifle with the 30 round clip (in Utah this is legal) and 2) had he entered my home I would have been FULLY justified to put a bullet in his head (at least in Utah)

    This is total, absolute self defense. He was a proven killer. Also, it would have been comforting to have a gun if I were in that neighborhood. Finally, (at least in Utah) if someone broke into MY home I can and would confront them with a gun. If they were a threat I would have the right to shot them (in Utah at least). At the very least it would scare them away.

    Thus, guns are good for self defense. They work.

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  27. brjones on May 1, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Will, your comments do help clarify the point. if someone broke into your home and posed a direct physical threat to you or your family, you would potentially be justified in using deadly force in order to protect yourself. Your comments about the Boston bomber, though, are not only incorrect, they highlight an important aspect of this conversation. The fact that this man is a killer (although it’s interesting that you say he is a ‘proven’ killer, as he most certainly is not) does not mean you can gun him down as soon as you come into contact with him. (As an aside, I find interesting the dichotomy between your usually fervent insistence on the absolute defense of personal constitutional rights and your apparent view that this man, an American citizen, deserves none) I may personally be in favor of vigilante justice, but the law in this country still takes a dim view of it, and there are plenty of people in prison for crimes that most of us would consider morally justifiable, but that were nonetheless clear violations of criminal statute. The reason I think this is a significant point is, again, with respect to those in this argument who want to assert that gun control only takes the guns out of the hands of the ‘good guys’. I think that’s a disingenuous, or at least an ignorant argument. The idea of who is or is not a ‘good guy’ with respect to gun violence is simply not that clear. Was George Zimmerman a good guy or a bad guy when he went patrolling his neighborhood that night? What about Reginald Campos? It is completely naive to think that only people who have the intention of committing a crime should be considered in the gun control debate. Alice’s comment above illustrates this point very well. That type of tragedy is often completely omitted or obfuscated by ‘crime’ statistics when we talk about the relative merits of any gun control proposal.

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  28. Will on May 1, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Your vigilante assumption further illustrates YOU jumping to conclusions. Although I personally feel he should be taken out back, forced on his hands and knees, and riddled with bullets; this is not what I was arguing. I was not arguing vigilante justice.

    Again, I was arguing self defense. You have a sub-human that murdered innocent people. That bastard set a bomb next to an 8 year old boy and detonated it with a remote control device. This means he was looking at them WHEN he pushed the button as it is a line of sight device. He is a killer; a cold blooded killer and had I confronted him with a gun he would have responded as a killer and self defense would be justified. Fortunately, his piece of garbage brother is dead. He should be dipped in goat’s blood or whatever defiles the body for Muslims. As for the ‘right’s’ of the one in custody, he should NOT be lawyered up. He should be treated as an enemy combatant. As such; they should extract whatever information they can glean from him by WHATEVER (waterboarding, pulling his teeth with pliers and other measures shown in zero dark thirty) means possible, he should get a military trial and then he should be executed. He is a terrorist, American Citizen or not, and should be treated as such.

    To my earlier point; had he entered my home and I confronted him with a weapon, he most likely would have responded and I would have been FULLY justified to shoot him with my AR-15 assault rifle out of self defense, not vigilante justice.

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  29. Mormon Heretic on May 1, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    If someone were hiding in my boat, I wouldn’t call the cops, I would grab my AR-15 with the 30 round clip.

    Will, what part of this statement was misunderstood by ANYONE? You are judge, jury and executioner with this statement, and no where is due process alluded to. Don’t piously pretend that you honor the Constitution when you make brazenly unconstitutional statements like this.

    Look everyone believes the guy is guilty, and if he is, I’d love to have you open up your AR-15 on him. Until then, especially if he is hiding in a boat, don’t pretend that what you proposed in comment #13 is anything but cold-blooded murder. Comment #13 is in no way self defense.

    You probably liked the fact that Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, but the fact of the matter is that with Oswald dead, we never did find out who killed Kennedy. So calm your vigilante instincts down, and if you really honor the constitution, let due process play out. Furthermore, your statement below indicates you are a tyrant no different than Joseph Stalin.

    As for the ‘right’s’ of the one in custody, he should NOT be lawyered up. He should be treated as an enemy combatant. As such; they should extract whatever information they can glean from him by WHATEVER (waterboarding, pulling his teeth with pliers and other measures shown in zero dark thirty) means possible, he should get a military trial and then he should be executed. He is a terrorist, American Citizen or not, and should be treated as such.

    Will Stalin, get out of America! Let due process run its course, and then execute him. But don’t trample the rule of law or you’re no different than a communist dictator.

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  30. Will on May 1, 2013 at 5:58 PM


    Whoa, whoa, whoa hold on a minute. I didn’t say I would go and grab my gun and then go spray him with bullets. That was your assumption. I said:

    “If someone were hiding in my boat, I wouldn’t call the cops; I would grab my AR-15 with the 30 round clip”

    The point is when you have a madman loose in the neighborhood a gun provides immediate protection; whereas, cops could take 5 to 15 minutes to arrive depending on your location. In this time, the madman could have killed you and your family.

    As for the specific example in Boston, if it were me that owned the home I would have: 1) grabbed my guns and ammo 2) told my wife to take the kids out of the house and call the cops after she is safely on the road 3) grab my garden hose, slide it into the opposite side of the boat under the canvas and turn it up full blast flushing him out 4) hide behind by masonry fence with AR-15 pointed in the general direction of the boat ready to respond to the situation.

    The last thing you want is this guy slipping away creating more carnage.

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  31. Will on May 1, 2013 at 7:52 PM


    BTW, he WAS treated as an enemy combatant. It is within the law

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  32. Douglas on May 1, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    #25 – and as sad as this story is (a 2 y.o. girl is dead that didn’t have to be, her 5 y.o. brother is forever scarred by the knowledge of killing his little sister, the parents will have to endure an unbearable grief), WHAT relevance does it have to gun “control”? It shows that people can be unbelievably stupid (a 5 y.o. with his OWN rifle? As pro-gun as I am, that seems utterly incredulous), but kids have been killed or maimed by the stupidity of their parents/caregivers with automobiles, household chemicals, prescriptions, and I don’t hear a hue and cry about treating the American populace as worthless serfs for the sake of the CHILDREN (the cry of the liberal scoundrel). Fact is, most firearms owners are responsible. Emotional responses usually make bad laws, or blatantly unconstitutional, in this case. I have no problem with requiring gun owners to secure their pieces from unauthorized use on the part of minors; and frankly, if you are responsible, it shouldn’t take an act of the legislature to employ common sense. However, I never had a problem keeping my kids from touching the hardware. Once they were teens, I thought nothing of keeping a loaded sidearm in my dresser. I would KNOW if it’s been disturbed. Got news for you. Kids can find ammo and defeat trigger locks. Mine knew one simple rule: Don’t Touch!

    I myself taught responsible use to my two boys by ‘giving’ them their own .22 rifle (more accurately, I held one that was designated for them to use and care for, and formally transferred upon adulthood). Had a little lesson about sexism and gender roles when their younger sister turn 12 and wanted her own .22! At first I wondered why, but she turned out to be a better shot than her brothers! Soon she’ll be 26, and getting married, and her collection has progressed well beyond that Ruger 10/22. She’d have pushed Will aside had the Boston Bomber been fleeing justice, and whether the rounds had been designated for the groin, chest, or head, she wouldn’t miss!

    (A tribute to the late Michael Clarke Duncan, he is sorely missed:) “There’s nothing FINER than a naked lady with a gun…and you’re just ALL kinds of FINE, ain’t ya?” I must admit that as many times as I’ve seen “The Whole Nine Yards”, I haven’t been able to maintain focus on the piece (what model?) thanks to the lovely Ms. Peet. Just have to get the DVD and freeze-frame it when I’ve got a dull moment.

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  33. Mormon Heretic on May 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Will, it’s good to see you backpedaling furiously now. You weren’t calling the police in #13 so you could do your dirty work, and now suddenly your wife is calling the police? FWIW, I hope you are more levelheaded than all your violent rhetoric here on the blog. I often over-estimate you, but it’s good to see you backpedaling now.

    We need to obey the entire constitution, and not just use the 2nd amendment to fulfill vigilante justice. I’m glad you can see that now, because comment 13 sure seems to show your rage, not your level-headedness.

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  34. Douglas on May 1, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    #33 – Will has been merely pointing out that he’d execute justice (and the perp) under circumstances that indicate self-defense, whether of himself or helpless others. The only greater need I can see for the Second Amendment is an aggressive, violent Government. Whether that’s going to occur in this land is debatable, but what isn’t is at times you can call the cops and they’ll arrive within minutes when seconds are a matter of life and/or death. Better the scum of the earth.

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  35. brjones23 on May 1, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Will, your facts are incorrect. He was never treated as an enemy combatant, and United States law does not provide for U.S. citizens to be tried as enemy combatants. Some politicians were calling for him to be treated as one, but he was not treated as one and he will not be tried as one, and the reason the administration gave for that is that “U.S. citizens — like Tsarnaev — cannot be tried in military commissions under U.S. law.”

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  36. jmb275 on May 2, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    I think the discussion is coming to a close but I wanted to say a few things:
    1. I really liked the post. Well done. These are the issues that need to be talked about.
    2. I find that whenever I get into a debate over gun control the topic almost always moves to whether or not I (or anyone else) needs a gun in the 21st century. But as your post clearly shows that point is moot. Gun control, as we implement it has little to no effect on real crime.
    3. The stats are really tough on this. If you do serious research on the stats (try using Google Scholar for a few hours digging up refereed journal articles on the topic) you’ll find that it’s ambiguous at best and more likely that *most* studies conclude modern gun control is largely ineffective.
    4. I also read a refereed journal article demonstrating that the reasons for lower gun crime in other rich countries had nothing to do with gun control but could be easily accounted for by other factors, and that burglary incidents were much higher in said countries. (probably all of these are to be taken with a grain of salt).
    5. I like the bullet points of what we need to change…stiffer penalties, and address mental health institutionalization issues. As a sidenote, in CA, if your gun was used to commit a crime due to your negligence, even if committed by someone else, you will bear some responsibility. I’m supportive of such incentives.
    6. I think a gaping oversight in the entire gun control discussion is a general one about violence in our culture and society. We are a REALLY violent people. The video games, the movies, sometimes the scriptures, modern wars, scientific research to increases war capabilities, I mean the list goes on and on. Our culture is one of violence, we can’t be too surprised at all the real-life violence as a result…be it from guns, knives, or whatever.
    7. I’m not quite sure I understand the leap in your post to the NRA. I admit I’m not a fan of the NRA at all but mostly it has to do with my feelings on Lobbyists in general. Also, they say and do a lot of kooky stuff in my book.
    8. I do like the point about swimming pools, etc. Gun issues are a hot bed for political commentary and media blitzes so it’s not surprising…too bad we’re not equally passionate about swimming pool drownings. This is why I can’t get too worked up over gun control advocates arguments…if saving lives is the goal (and I’d argue that for gun control advocates it’s more than that) then we should focus on other things more.
    9. Part of the reason I liked Stephen’s post was because he pointed out the “disgust” factor. Anyone who’s lived in the Bay area knows that admitting to owning a gun is like social suicide. I knew people who wouldn’t let their children play with kids whose parents owned guns…even if they were locked up.
    10. In CA, they do everything they can to help gun owners responsibility keep them out of the wrong hands. If you go to the police station they’ll give you as many action locks as you can carry away.

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  37. jon on June 15, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    If saving lives is what we are looking to do then disarm the governments. Governments killed over 200 million of their own people in the 20th century, if you include wars that goes up to 500 million. How about in the private sphere? 8 million (if I remember correctly). Look at the big gun in the room. Also, look at suicides caused by government, I know of two in the last little bit – Aaron Swartz (sp) and the Whiskey guy out east.

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