Cars, Guns, and Civil Society

Lots of silliness has ensued in the weeks following the shooting in Newton, CT. Gun advocates suggest putting TSA-like agents in every school (as if schools aren’t expensive enough), gun control advocates suggest restricting “assault weapons” (a fictional category for semi-automatic rifles) and “high capacity magazines” (as if the 1-2 seconds to swap magazines would really make a difference) and basically making it far harder to obtain guns (against for example, peer reviewed academic studies showing that the elasticity to gun availability is .1 to .3 out of the 50-60 gun related deaths per 10k people per year.  As much posturing as we have on this matter, if the time the President and his Renfieldian co-conspirator Biden have wasted giving speeches on gun control more children have died in auto accidents than did in the incident they pretend is motivating their interest in gun control. But do they go after drivers and car safety? Nope.

Frequent commenter Boonton has suggested stopping gun violence by tying the liability (financial) for any gun violence to the gun owner …. the economic study above suggests the actuarial costs of such a tie would be about $10/year if you own a gun for his suggested $100k payout. The higher cost to that suggestion is figuring out how to actually reliably track the ownership trail for the millions of guns out there not to speak of those purchased in the future. That will change … what? Offer a public notion that were-guild is legal notion whose time has come?

There are those who would suggest that gun ownership is part of a former age and that modern man doesn’t have any call for guns. There are two problems with that suggestion. It suggests that the person who says that has never ever ever lived in rural America. Get out out of your current aviary and take notice that the majority males and many females living outside of cities are avid hunters. The second problem is akin to the Sudan vs Congo problem alluded to above. In the Sudan 10’s to a few hundreds of thousands of people were killed in a genocidal spasm of violence. In the Congo over the last decades millions  have died. Which got the angst and notice in the press … the Sudan not the Congo. What kills Americans (besides lack of exercise)? Cars. Automobile deaths dwarf those by gun violence by orders of magnitude. But do we have hue and cry for limiting automobile speeds to under 30 mph? Do they cry for immediately restricting cars to be only driven by state licensed professional drivers in state owned and operated vehicles? Nope. So those who decry “more gun control” need to explain why “more car control” is not a higher priority, many orders of magnitude more die that way …. so you’d think that would be were the legal and social action would be driven. But no, this is just like you’d think that the violence in the Congo would get more notice than the Sudan and Darfur was noticed. So … if you think you don’t have any call for guns in the modern age, well some people disagree and exactly the same argument you’d pretend to use to explain why you can buy a car that you prefer and drive it at more than 25-30 mph the argument exactly paralleled that you have to turn around and (hypocritically) argue applies to your desire for driving fast but not to someone else who wants to do something that you do not.

But … that begs the question. Lots of people (if not most of the people) suggest stupid things on both sides of the argument (although to be truthful, post Newton, more of the errant stupidity comes from the control/restrict side of the aisle …. however suggesting putting TSA-like guards in cash strapped schools is pretty dumb in itself). Can some intelligent suggestions be made?

Where do we see gun violence of the unwanted kind? We find gun violence in sporadic random mass shootings (like Colorado, Ms Giffords, and the recent Newtown shooting), armed robberies and muggings, some assaults and rapes, in home invasions, gang violence, suicides, and in some crimes of passion.  If there were no legal access to guns, it is likely that gun usage in the suicides and crimes of passions would fall slowly over the years as gun ownership slowly dropped. Gangs and drug traffickers aren’t obtaining their guns legally and for that matter lots of them aren’t using guns (such as fully automatic guns) which are available anywhere legally now.regions in which gun ownership is close to 100% of the population don’t have much higher gun violence (and in many places it is lower). Clearly possession isn’t the problem. Like cars (and say impaired by drugs or inattention) …. the bigger problem is intentional misuse by a very very small minority. As an aside the liberal (urban) plea for gun control and less guns in general sounds a lot like the liberal insistence that government tax us to provide charitable services (which only makes more sense if you are a standard liberal who does not (willingly) give to charity in any real measure) … that is the urban liberal is against guns because he isn’t safe with them … and figures everyone else is just like him.

So we have a variety of issues to solve. How are might these individually be addressed? Let’s quickly run this list of problems and suggest ways to ameliorate them:

  • Random mass shootings and many assaults, muggings and rapes might be solved (as suggested elsewhere) by more, not less people who carry and are trained in the use of firearms. Specifically, if the President and his cadre of liberal intelligentsia instead of moving against the presence of guns in our society tried to push that more and more of our women carried and had training … it would be a lot harder for mass shooters to get much traction. Much like the Darwin award contestant who tried to use a pistol to hold up a gun store (and got shot by a number of customers) if those schoolteachers were armed, it is quite likely that either the shooter wouldn’t have even tried or that he wouldn’t have been able to continue his rampage for so long. One of the TPM anti-gun crusaders pointed out that if you pull a gun in the presence of an active shooter that you become a target. Yes. But if 10% of the movie theater audience does so … there is no longer one target … and the odds of the shooter surviving long become themselves long. Arming our girls is the solution to both the danger of unstable mentally ill white boys and to the alleged rape epidemic and violence against women in general. 
  • Legal-to-purchase (non-automatic) Guns and fully automatic weapons in the presence of gangs are, in my view, a lot like trying to solve the “problem” of corporate money in politics. Those with the money want to spend it. It is impossible (as we see) to stop them with regulations. Just so with guns and gangs. How then to proceed? You have two choices … to fight it with greater force (police) or to move to take the profits out of the activities they perform to make their money.
  • It might also be useful to note that magazine limits and caliber limits are not good federal laws. You may want to pretend that no person in Chicago has any need for a .50 caliber Desert Eagle pistol. But … against grizzly bears in the Montana and Alaskan backwoods may still be that same pistol. And “need” is a fuzzy word. Remember, you don’t actually ever “need” to drive more than 25 mph. You just want to. And so too does the Chicago shooter. He might want to fire that .50 cal. So … remember that as you whiz along on the freeway at 70 mph.

19 Responses to Cars, Guns, and Civil Society

  1. As much posturing as we have on this matter, if the time the President and his Renfieldian co-conspirator Biden have wasted giving speeches on gun control more children have died in auto accidents than did in the incident they pretend is motivating their interest in gun control. But do they go after drivers and car safety? Nope.

    Most people drive or are driven in a car every day, often multiple times. Even most gun owners only shoot occassionarly.

    The higher cost to that suggestion is figuring out how to actually reliably track the ownership trail for the millions of guns out there not to speak of those purchased in the future

    No need too IMO. Old guns would be grandfathered in as exempt but there’d be universal background checks on gun transfers of any type so private sales would be faciliated by gun dealers who charge a minor fee for the check. All that would be added to the mix is the purchase of the policy at that point.

  2. The issue of ‘old guns’ IMO is less important than you think. Consider that right now we are at a rate of about 11 million background checks per year. Gun ownership is about 40% so that’s 124.4M people out of a population of 311M. That means we have a turnover rate of less than a decade.

    Of course that doesn’t mean every 11 years every American melts down his guns and goes out to buy new ones. Many people will buy a gun and keep it 100 years in the family never really using it much. Others keep hundreds of guns as a collection. It does mean, though, that gun manufacture is important. Even though there are supposedly so many existing guns in the US that there’s enough to give every man, woman and child two or three…manufactures are making money minting new guns and gun customers are buying new guns, even though you would think a used gun would be lower cost.

    I suspect the reason is many fold. For one thing many people are bad at properly caring for things so they may allow old guns to deteriorate rather than maintain them…then go out and buy a new one rather than refurbishing an old one. Other guns are essentially pulled out of circulation becoming parts of collections.

    Two interesting stats that I think would reveal a lot here. Of criminals caught with a gun, what is the average age of the gun? I suspect the average would be less than ten years old. The other would be to sample some guns used at ranges, I suspect people use newer guns on average as well.

    What this all means is that new guns matter more than old guns. If tomorrow every gun factor was shut down forever, the nature of gun ownership and use would change dramatically just as if new car manufacture were shut down it would be a big deal, even though in a given year only a small portion of car owners buy a brand new car.

  3. Boonton,

    Old guns would be grandfathered in as exempt but there’d be universal background checks on gun transfers of any type so private sales would be faciliated by gun dealers who charge a minor fee for the check.

    Except that old guns don’t have the ID stamps you require. And what does all this tracking buy you?

  4. Boonton,
    And remember … we’re also looking for changes which would have affected not just gang-land type shootings but … the events which alledgely sparked this incident. Your suggestion does not touch that I think.

    And “deteriorating” old guns are typically still good. Just need a good cleaning.

  5. Except that old guns don’t have the ID stamps you require. And what does all this tracking buy you?

    The embedded serial numbers could be exempted for older guns. As for tracking, what tracking? You go to a dealer to sell your gun to a buyer, the dealer provides the background check for a small fee. The beauty is that like the current system there’s no tracking required. If evidence of a crime surfaces, the dealers records can be examined but otherwise the gov’t isn’t keep a list of which guns are where.

    The insurance requirement can follow the gun and be enforced in violation. A bit like your car. If you have no insurance on your car and nothing ever happens, you don’t get in an accident or don’t get pulled over then there’s a good chance no one will be the wiser. But if those things do happen and you’re without coverage then you’re in trouble. And a dealer wouldn’t be able to do a transfer without first checking that a policy had been secured.

    And remember … we’re also looking for changes which would have affected not just gang-land type shootings but … the events which alledgely sparked this incident.

    1. To the degree someone does do something like this, the insurance company is liable to provide funds to those hurt. Granted that’s not as good as it never happening but it’s something…esp. in less dramatic cases that do not attract outpourings of charity and national attention.

    2. To the degree someone establishes themselves as following risky behavior (but not criminal enough to merit being blacklisted from gun ownership), insurance companies will charge higher premiums and conversely lower premiums to those who establish themselves as lower risk.

  6. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  7. Random mass shootings and many assaults, muggings and rapes might be solved (as suggested elsewhere) by more, not less people who carry and are trained in the use of firearms.

    Possibly in regards to mass shootings but just two days ago there was this big thing about a shooting in Texas. Two men got into an argument, both started shooting at each other leaving themselves and a bystander wounded and putting the school on lockdown mode. Granted in the highly rare event that an insane mass shooter had appeared on campus those two men might have put him down before he killed many people. But how many more minor shooting happen relative to mass ones stopped?

  8. Boonton,
    Yah, and there was a kid in Montana who went on a mass killing rampage and killed his family and a few others … except he did it with a knife. And since yesterday another 100+ people (children included) died in car accidents.

    Recall studies showed that open carry in bars didn’t lead to any more shootings than control. Remember the pdf I linked that showed that the elasticity to gun violence w.r.t. to gun control was very very little. So the answer “how many more minor shootings” … is not very many at all.

  9. Remember the pdf I linked that showed that the elasticity to gun violence w.r.t. to gun control was very very little. So the answer “how many more minor shootings” … is not very many

    That would also slice into your argument that greater carry equals reduced crime. Otherwise the elasticity wouldn’t be very little, it would be negative.

  10. Boonton

    That would also slice into your argument that greater carry equals reduced crime.

    Not necessarily, different people doesn’t mean less.

  11. Boonton,
    I should clarify. “different people doesn’t mean less.” .. also doesn’t mean that different isn’t an improvement. Case in point if adult males decide to shoot each other occasionally but less children and movie goers are shot by insane knuckleheads … and in the end the fatality number is unchanged, things still may have improved.

  12. So adult males may shoot each other more in movie theatres but if an ‘insane knucklehead’ erupts they can both take him out before he kills any children?

    At this point do you think we should explore some stats that tell us IF you are killed or wounded with a gun in a given year, what are the likely sources of that? I don’t know if it’s right or not but I heard 55% of all gun deaths are suicides. If that’s the case then increased gun ownership would imply more deaths. Yes people can kill themselves by other means but I don’t buy the argument that suicides are simply people who rationally choose to ‘opt out’ of life. I think more often than not it’s a relatively brief emotional crises that results in a death if the means and opportunity happen to be present.

  13. Boonton,
    Except that my (above) suggestion is that we didn’t encourage more men to be armed but more women to be trained and armed.

    I think more often than not it’s a relatively brief emotional crises that results in a death if the means and opportunity happen to be present.

    I disagree with that, btw. I think depression an illness which has a high incidence of fatality. Blaming that on firearms is a mistake. In the absence of firearms other methods will be found, e.g., Tylenol or other overdose.

    I agree it’s not rational “opt out” … that’s the liberal point of view.

  14. Boonton,
    So … ya going to defend Renfield Biden today? He seems to think a semi-auto double ought sawed off would have killed less kids in Sandy Hook than what was used. Defend that will ya? Or will you defer?

  15. You can bring me up to speed on guns but a shotgun can fire two shots at a time, yes? Then must be reloaded which takes say 10 seconds?

    According to wikipedia Lanza fired 50-100 rounds starting at 935 and ending at 949. So 14 minutes, or 840 seconds. Take the low end of 50 rounds. That would require 25 reloads of a shotgun. Say he could do it as fast as 5 seconds. That shaves 125 seconds off his shooting time, with each reload leaving people time to either flee or find shelter or leaving him vulnerable to being tackled or attacked.

    EAch victim was shot multiple times, one shot 11 times. If he wanted to maintain that then even more time would have been wasted between killings providing more of a chance to everyone else. I imagine modern shotguns can hold more rounds than just two but perhaps you can advise on reload times and methods.

    Your assertion is kind of odd IMO. If someone said one type of hammer was better for roofing and another was better for hanging picture nails, no one would say anything. Why is it absurd to say some guns are better for killing lots of people real fast than others?

  16. Boonton,
    Look at this, shotguns are not away’s breakaway and reload. You have semi-automatic and pump action (you saw the terminator movies right?) … and speaking of movies you might consider watching Appaloosa … besides being two actors you’ll like, Mr Coles side-kick (and narrator if I recall) carries an 8 gauge.

    The point is with a small (number) large bore shotgun shooting at kids loaded with 00 or heavier, you’d not be shooting more than once at anyone. And according to one report, he fired those multiple rounds … changing his magazines many times (usually changing when the one in the gun was only half empty).

    Your assertion is kind of odd IMO. If someone said one type of hammer was better for roofing and another was better for hanging picture nails, no one would say anything

    Your right. Usually the weapon suggested for “home defense” is a pump-shotgun, not an AR-15, which is better at distances than “room clearing”. You don’t have to aim and can down multiple opponents with one spread shot. The problem (for Biden) is for “close shooting” the shotgun is more deadly not less.

  17. Since you say a shotgun is better at close quarters, it would seem it would have provided more opportunities for people to flee from the shooter than the AR-15, which you say is optimal for distance shooting. Granted if have people cornered in a class room then that might be worse. Still it seems shooting 100 rounds off would be faster and easier with the AR-15 than most shotguns and, correct me if I’m wrong, but the ammo would be a bit bulkier.

    Fair point, the shooter did not use the gun to the max of its capacity. A shooter who was an expert on the AR-15 and just as deranged could have done much more carnage. It doesn’t seem to make your case, though, that such an amateur could wreck such havoc with it. If he was confined to a more or less standard shotgun AND was still an amateur how do you think it would have played out?

  18. Boonton,

    Still it seems shooting 100 rounds off would be faster and easier with the AR-15 than most shotguns and, correct me if I’m wrong, but the ammo would be a bit bulkier.

    You’d get off more shots with the AR. But you’d likely kill everyone in the (first) room with 3-5 shots. Reload and move on.

    A shooter who was an expert on the AR-15 and just as deranged could have done much more carnage.

    Ok.

    It doesn’t seem to make your case, though, that such an amateur could wreck such havoc with it. If he was confined to a more or less standard shotgun AND was still an amateur how do you think it would have played out?

    I’m told the shotgun is much more effective in the hands of an amateur at close quarters. So the probability is that he’d have wreaked more havoc than he did. And given scattershot with some of those rounds you saw in the youtube … would have made the aftermath all the more horrific, i.e., identifying remains would have likely been a forensic challenge.

  19. Boonton,
    Oh, and let me know what you think of Appaloosa. (the story is by Robert Parker … there are now four books, Mr Parker’s main claim to authorial claim is his “Spenser” (as in for hire) series).

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