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Samizdata quote of the day

Guns cause violence, like flies cause garbage

- Zink Mitchell

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • James

    So guns are attracted to violence?

  • Cross Draw

    So guns are attracted to violence?

    Duh. Please tell me that was a lame attempt an humor

  • Humorously profound?

    Yes, I think so; and it does brevity too.

    Best regards

  • And what is more practical, exterminating garbage or flies?

  • Pa Annoyed

    Quite. But flies make the garbage more effective at killing people. Garbage just sits there, and you have to get quite close up before the stink hits you, but disease-carrying flies give it range. ;-)

    I actually agree with the sentiment in this case, more or less, but I just couldn’t resist extending the simile…

  • Snide

    And what is more practical, exterminating garbage or flies?

    And are you under the impression that exterminating the flies will make the garbage go away?

  • stuart

    Flies being part of the ecosystem were around long before humans. Garbage, like criminal violence, is a purely human phenomenon. Neither flies nor garbage need the other to exist

  • And are you under the impression that exterminating the flies will make the garbage go away?

    It will reduce the harm that is caused by the garbage (as Pa already pointed out).

  • I am amazed by the cluelessness on display in this thread

  • Oscar

    I wish I’d said that.
    (You will, Oscar, you will).

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    The estimable Perry de Havilland wrote:

    I am amazed by the cluelessness on display in this thread

    Sadly, I’m not.

  • Paul Marks

    As has often been pointed out there is no positive correlation between rates of firearm ownership and violent crime in the United States (whether murder is included or not). Otherwise such places as New Hampshire and Vermont would be hotbeds of crime.

    In fact, if anything, there is a negative correlation (i.e. low rates of firearm ownership tend to be found in areas of high violent crime in the United States). Although this may be due to the fact that high violent crime areas in the United States are often “gun control” areas – i.e. areas where firearms are mostly in the hands of criminals.

    “But Britain has a much lower murder rate than the United States” – it always did.

    The United Kingdom had a very low murder rate as far back as before the First World War – when millions of people owned firearms here, and buying (legally) was easy. By the way the police were unarmed in those wicked days – indeed in one case some policemen in pursuit of armed robbers borrowed firearms from ordinary people (who just happened to be walking by).

    “But if we could get rid of guns the murder rate would fall”.

    Sometimes I think that the American government (like the British government) could not find its own backside with both hands (let alone get firearms out of the hands of people willing to break its statutes), but let us take an example of a government that is (for better or worse) quite good at getting things done (at least by government standards).

    The Australian govenment (Federal in cooperation with the States) manages to trick very large numbers of firearm owerns out of their property by first getting them to “register” their firearms and then in 1996 (using the excuse of a mass murder in Tasmania) moving in (with a new statute) to disarm the citizens.

    The Australian murder rate has not had some grand drop – people have just found other ways to kill each other.

    “But the children, the children” (in reference to mass murders of children in Britain and other places). The use of a motor car to kill large numbers of children (by driving at high speed into the playground) would not be beyond the wit of man.

    Besides which (of course) people willing to murder are also willing to violate firearm control statutes – so (even if large numbers of firearms are taken by some trick – as in Australia) people will simply either make firearms or buy them from nonofficial sources.

    The original post was rather more brief and elegant than my long comment

  • Midwesterner

    There is strong research suggesting that gun mass murderers seek out places where they anticipate the least resistance.

    The evidence suggests that the mandatory gun exclusion zone around schools in the USA is actually drawing mass killers to the schools precisely because they know the odds of anyone being able to defend themselves (and the children) are the lowest at the schools. The shooters can get the highest body counts there.

    If that doesn’t make every one feel a little bit sick, it should.

  • nicholas gray

    Midwesterners Comments pose the obvious question- should we mandate that teachers must carry guns, if we want to keep children safe? Can anyone tell me of any instance where this has been done? And what were the results?
    As for Paul Monk’s comments, I have read the book, ‘Guns and Violence’, and it seems like a good rebutal to all those who think that lack of guns means we’ll have less crime. However, that will not make governments think about repealing the laws.
    We might be able to do something else, soon. Lots of people have, or have seen, those laser lights. I hope some clever libertarian inventor is working on a way to juice up these things so we can circumvent gun laws by having laser blasters instead! We can always hope that technology will overcome tyranny.

  • John_R

    Paul M said:

    Sometimes I think that the American government (like the British government) could not find its own backside with both hands (let alone get firearms out of the hands of people willing to break its statutes), but let us take an example of a government that is (for better or worse) quite good at getting things done (at least by government standards).

    Dude big difference between the U.S. and the UK when it comes to firearms, and it may become even bigger considering last weeks ruling in the D.C. Circuit’s Court of Appeals which struck down Washington D.C.’s gun ban and recognized that the 2nd Amend. protects both a personal right to own firearms and a right to self-defense (note how broadly the court defines it):

    To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad).

    LINK(Link)

    The next step will be filing for an en banc hearing before the D.C. CoA and after that SCOTUS. This is one to watch. There has been a SCOTUS ruling on the substance of the 2nd Amend since Miller in the 1930s.

  • John_R

    That should read “there hasn’t been a SCOTUS…”

  • Sunfish

    Midwesterners Comments pose the obvious question- should we mandate that teachers must carry guns, if we want to keep children safe? Can anyone tell me of any instance where this has been done? And what were the results?

    In the US, if one teacher in ten would be willing, I’d be very surprised.

    There was one school shooting back in the 1990′s (Pearl, Mississippi?) where a school administrator was armed and successfully interrupted the attack.

  • Sunfish

    I meant to add something else to the school-shooting discussion.

    In the two cases with which I’m most familiar, on-campus police may or may not have accomplished much.

    At Columbine High School, there was a school resource officer on the campus. He exchanged gunfire with Klebold and Harris, but ineffectively. This may or may not have affected K and H’s thought processes, slowed them down, whatever. I’m personally not interested in re-fighting that battle.

    Okay, Columbine was a huge goatf***. For the previous three decades, doctrine was to have the first responders establish a perimeter, gather information, and try to open communication with the inside. This was based on the notion that most SWAT activations were hostage situations, in which negotiation would be most likely to prevent the deaths of the victims. This was not without justification. CHS was just a very, very rare situation.

    Hell, people were pushing the notion that “SWAT=Success Without Assaulting Target” with a straight face. (!) Actually, I used to own a t-shirt that said that, schwag from some conference or another.

    That’s been somewhat changed now. The working assumption in the event of an active shooter is that the first responders will…not going to get into tactical details. Suffice it to say, the first responders are far less likely to stick their hands in their pockets.

    The other case I know was last year, at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado. No armed good guys on campus. There was an SRO, but he was at the station elsewhere in town. Negotiations actually had opened. However, they broke down and the SWAT team (from a neighboring county under a mutual-aid agreement-the same department as had primary responsibility at CHS, oddly enough) had to breach. One victim dead, one goblin dead.

    Colorado law actually does allow for people other than cops to be armed in schools under limited circumstances. I’d have to check, but I think they need to be school employees or contract employees whose duties involve handling weapons. As of yet, I don’t know of any schools actually making use of this provision. We’ve had LE instructors extend offers of free or at-cost firearms training to school staff, but there have been far fewer takers than I would have expected.

    What concerns me is, I’ve heard speculation that the mass killing at Beslan, in Russia, was actually a dry run for a similar attack here. Anything’s possible, I suppose. There’s been further speculation that the tangos will try to pick an area where they’re unlikely to meet with effective resistance: look for a school in an area without effective school security, low odds of armed good guys on campus, and a police department which is either overstretched or understaffed, and possibly with use-of-force policies that preclude effective response by the first arriving officers.

    Note also the shooting in the shopping mall in Utah, a month or so back. The shooter was interrupted and contained by an armed off-duty cop. I said “cop,” but in Utah that could easily have been a private citizen: Utah (as about 40 other states) is relatively civilized about issuing carry licenses to the good guys. (UK readers: it’s legal, and actually expected of us in most departments, that we’ll be armed off-duty as well as on.)

    I believe that Sir Robert Peel addressed this, something about the police being the public and the public being the police, and that I’m just collecting a paycheck for doing something that everyone should be doing a little of…

    Paul Marks:

    Besides which (of course) people willing to murder are also willing to violate firearm control statutes – so (even if large numbers of firearms are taken by some trick – as in Australia) people will simply either make firearms or buy them from nonofficial sources.

    Your heart may be warmed by this-I know mine was: Australian government estimates are that more Chinese SKS-pattern rifles were sold at retail in Queensland, than rifles of all models were turned in after the Tasmania shooting. If true, that suggests remarkable noncompliance by our brothers down under. Any country that combines that kind of behavior with topless beaches and decent beer is all right with me.

  • I’m not necessarily anti-gun, and certainly not anti the right of Americans to make up their own minds about this. But I am anti bad analogies, and the original post is a bad analogy if you’re pro-gun, because people do, on the whole, want to get rid of flies.

    But let’s say that guns don’t cause violence. Here’s a question that you’ve probably debated on here before. What does cause the higher murder rate in the USA? I don’t buy the Oliver James thesis that the problems of the Anglophone world are all to do with inequality and the materialistic nature of the culture (although he was anyway talking more about mental illness and happiness than about crime). If your answer is something like drugs, what causes their greater prevalence? If it’s lack of morality, how come the States is so much more religious than Europe? And if it’s insufficient deterrence (e.g. need to lock-up or execute more people), how come more people get locked up and executed per head of population than almost anywhere else? Is it the flip-side of the American dream? If you don’t make it in a country where anyone can make it, is there a stronger subconscious sense of failure that needs to be diverted by blaming others, turning to anger, jealousy, resentment and rebellion against the system?

    By the way, if that wikipedia data I linked is reliable, it’s interesting that the murder rates of the UK and the USA began to diverge around 1905, mainly because the USA’s rate increased a lot, although England/Wales’s rate did decrease a bit from the start of the century until the mid-70s, since when it seems to have been climbing slowly but inexorably. I’m not sure what you read into that, but it’s interesting to me that the USA’s rate was relatively low in the first years of the twentieth century. What changed? Did they just start recording murders more accurately, or did people really start killing each other more frequently, and if so, why?

  • And while we’re at it, how come the murder rate in the USA almost halved between 1993 and 2000?

  • Paul Marks

    Bruno what caused the higher murder rate in the United States when legal firearms were common in Britain (indeed before the First World War the British National Rifle Association was, in proportion, much bigger than the American one).

    Paul Elmer Moore, Iriving Babbit and other American Anglophiles used to go on and on about how much nicer British culture was (what they would think of modern Britain I shudder to think). P.E. Moore’s student, T.S. Eliot, even came to Britain and declared himself British (in rather the same way that proAmerican British people sometimes become Americans these days) – indeed he was successful in being more English than the English that he is often (indeed normally) put in lists of great British poets – even though he came here as fully adult man.

    Going into the cultural and other causes of crime does not alter the fact that the “gun control” movement is a load of nonsense.

    I am not a criminologist, I can not tell you why American murder rates fell (and trusting criminologists to tell us may be a mistake as well). However, I suspect that locking up criminals had a lot to do with it.

    If a criminal is sent to prison for his crimes (rather than not caught, or not convicted, or let out after a brief period) and is there a long time – he is not out on the street murdering people.

    Murderers have often committed other crimes before they ever murder someone.

    Catch the criminal, convict the criminal, and punish him in proportion to the offence.

    Sunfish:

    Yes my heart is warmed by what you say. Which means that most people in this country would consider me a monster.

    John R:

    I hope the defence of the Second Amendment continues. Britain also had a Bill of Rights but the British have forgotten it. Perhaps the last generation that had any understanding of it died on the battlefields of World War One.

    There was a “Constitution Club” network before the First World War – these days harldy any British people would be able to name any of the constitutional principles of this land.

    Nicholas Gray:

    “Paul Monk’s” you Sir are, perhaps, an even worse typist than me. I mean no insult – it is just that I thought I was the worst typist in the world.

    Or are you referring to my lack of success with the fair sex? For some reason they seem to regard a short, bald, middle aged man with no prospects as unattractive.

  • jerry

    What does cause the higher murder rate in the USA ?
    Primarily gangs/turf wars/drugs.
    Gang members here are absolutley ruthless because, to a degree, our so called ‘justice system’ ( it’s really a ‘legal system’ for & by lawyers – involving 2 or more lawyers arguing before one or more previous lawyers ) tend to be somewhat lenient and very few criminals serve their entire sentence ( time off for ‘good’ behavior. paroles etc. )
    Second, the motivation to be ‘rich or die tryin’ coupled with a lack of morals cause the gangs to extract a terrible toll in most of out large cities ( and yes, they are moving into the more rural areas)
    Also, keep in mind that many of the ‘numbers’ you read/hear are somewhat ‘manipulated’ !
    For instance, many gun deaths are suicides, but what is inferred is that had a gun not been present, the person would not have killed him or herself ( this is absurd – tall buildings, bridges, cars, pills, water, the list is endless ).
    In addition, you hear of the many ‘children’ killed by guns. HCI/Brady/whatever is notorious in some circles for, um, inflating numbers along with out and out lies but they count anyone under 21 as a child – so – 20 gang members aged 19 – 21 kill each other and it 20 ‘child’ deaths caused, CAUSED mind you, by guns – yeah – right !!
    And while we’re at it, how come the murder rate in the USA almost halved between 1993 and 2000 ?
    Some longer jail terms and the introduction and spread of concealed carry laws in many states.
    Mugger is no longer a relatively ‘safe’ ‘occupation in many places but continues to thrive in places like NYC and Washington D.C. where it is illegal to carry the one tool that gives you the greatest equalising ability.
    I am constantly amazed at how people seem to believe that guns cause criminal behavior.
    If every gun on the planet as well as the ability to make them were to vanish overnight, crime would not stop, just be taken to a different level – the young/strong preying on the elderly/weak.

  • Paul Marks

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the death penality here (at least I have not spotted any reference).

    In reality only Texas has a death penality system in the United States – the delays and other such in the other States mean that the punishment is rather a freak thing (i.e. if you murder someone you are not likely to be executed – at least not before you die of something else first).

    The Texas death penality system is one of the many ways that George Bush is attacked here. There are best selling books were he is attacked for, made up, incidents where he mocked people before refusing to stop the execution.

    They are made up incidents because, in Texas, the Governor does not have any broad power to stop an execution. There are various things he can do – but there is nothing like the broad let off power that Governors in other States have.

    I say this neither to support the Texas system or to oppose it – just to point how the world as it is shown to people (via books, newspaper article, radio televison and film……) is rather different from the world as it really is.

  • Sunfish

    In reality only Texas has a death penality system in the United States – the delays and other such in the other States mean that the punishment is rather a freak thing (i.e. if you murder someone you are not likely to be executed – at least not before you die of something else first).

    Not quite. There are similar (relatively swift) systems in other states, mainly in the ex-Confederacy.

    Alas, these aren’t typically based upon a conscious effort to design an efficient death penalty process. Rather, a major factor seems to be the incompetence of the various public defenders’ offices in those states when it comes to handling major cases. It’s sometimes called the “Town Drunk” system, after a famous (but probably too good a story to be true) case where a judge needed a lawyer for court-appointed defense in a capital case. The first lawyer he found was in his court that morning to be arraigned on a public-drunkenness charge.

    The average PD spends 95% of his time trying to plead out minor matters, as does the average prosecutor. The difference is, every state has a few prosecutors who have an unusually-large background in major cases. While, in my state, they seem to all work for two DA’s offices, they’re available to the other twenty offices under intergovernmental agreements. Similarly, the state Attorney General’s office has an attorney and investigators who specialize in major (including death penalty) cases.

    Our state also has a relatively competent public defender system, but even so, they don’t have the same resources, and especially not the same investigative resources. The State Public Defender may not have a single major case specialist among his deputies. There is a budget for hiring private-practice attorneys for certain matters, but it’s limited.

    For whatever its worth.

  • Paul Marks

    I stand corrected Sunfish.

    Although (as far as I know) the leftists have not managed to find a case in modern Texas where an innocent man has been executed because of a poor defense – and boy have they looked!