Appalachian School of Law

This Wikipedia article about a 2002 shooting incident seemed like it might be topical given the recent news from the USA. Whilst the outcome in 2002 was tragic the carnage seems to have been halted a lot more quickly than during the recent incident.

On January 16, 2002, Peter Odighizuwa, 43, of Nigeria, a student at Appalachian School of Law, arrived on the campus. While it was widely reported at the time that Odighizuwa had flunked out of school, he had evidently withdrawn voluntarily due to poor academic performance.[1]

Odighizuwa first discussed his academic problems with professor Dale Rubin, where he reportedly told Rubin to pray for him.[2] Odighizuwa then walked to the offices of Dean Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell, where he opened fire on them with a .380 ACP semi-automatic handgun. According to a county coroner, powder burns indicated that both victims were shot at point blank range.[3] Also killed along with the two faculty members was a student, Angela Denise Dales, age 33. Three other people were wounded.

Students subdued Odighizuwa

When Odighizuwa exited the building where the shooting took place, he was approached by two students with personal firearms.[4]

At the first sound of gunfire, fellow students Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, unbeknownst to each other, ran to their vehicles to fetch their personally owned firearms.[5] Gross, a police officer with the Grifton Police Department in his home state of North Carolina, retrieved a bulletproof vest and a 9 mm pistol.[6] Bridges pulled his .357 Magnum pistol from beneath the driver’s seat of his Chevy Tahoe. As Bridges later told the Richmond Times Dispatch, he was prepared to shoot to kill.[7]

Bridges and Gross approached Odighizuwa from different angles, with Bridges yelling at Odighizuwa to drop his gun.[8] Odighizuwa then dropped his firearm and was subdued by a third student, Ted Besen, who was unarmed.[9] Once Odighizuwa was securely held down, Gross went back to his vehicle and retrieved handcuffs to detain Odighizuwa until police could arrive.

Police reports later noted that two empty eight round magazines belonging to Odighizuwa’s handgun were recovered. When Odighizuwa dropped his gun, it still had a magazine holding three rounds of ammunition within it.[10]

111 thoughts on “Appalachian School of Law

  1. Too right Terje,

    Have you seen the comments here? http://catallaxyfiles.com/?p=2760
    When did Catallaxy go Left wing? There just isn’t a rational argument to banning guns unless you believe banning drugs has made them completely unobtainable?

    Guns are a great leveler. They allow people to protect themselves and their property. This is especially beneficial to Women who, without a gun, are far more susceptible to attack. Carrying a gun means a Woman need not fear being jumped and raped whilst walking down a dimly lit street. Yet for some double-think reason we are led to believe that banning guns makes us safe.

  2. I was on Catallaxy discussing this and then I suddenly got put on moderation. This is in part why I started this article here. However it turns out the moderation was due to some profile details I changed this afternoon rather than any attempt to block my comments and it’s all fixed now.

  3. Ben, with Helen gone and Jason obsessed by anti-gun bigotry, Catallaxy is not what it once was. Rational debate has been replaced by hysteria and personal abuse.

    They are certainly playing the man against me, worse even than with GMB and I don’t swear or abuse anyone. Jason quit the LDP today when I merely called him a Singapore libertarian. I am Treasurer of the party but I never blog on behalf of the party (nor does anyone).

    Your point about self defence is exactly right. I am fit and have done boxing plus two types of martial arts, so I have few concerns about my personal safety. Although I am a very good shot with a pistol I would only carry a gun on rare occasions if it was legal.

    My wife on the other hand is small and light. She’s not particularly fit and has never done martial arts. Allowing her to carry a gun, assuming she knew how to use it, would free her from the need to avoid dark streets, carparks and all the other risky places women know so well.

    My mother is in her late seventies. She’s also small and light, and increasingly frail. She couldn’t even run to safety. However, she has all her marbles and could easily learn to use a gun if required.

    Somehow I am some kind of obsessive because I think the government has no right to prevent my wife and mother, or other people’s wifes, daughters and mothers, from having a practical means of defending themselves. If caring about your family makes you an obsessive, then I guess I must be guilty.

  4. I think I will bring the previous discussion over here from Australias US Insurance policy as the way it has moved , this is where it now belongs.

    Thanks for your contribution Terje, that was very interesting, however as Wikapedia is open source, I dont rely on it totally. On this occasion though I have no reason to doubt it. It’s usually a good place to start.

    It was a shock to post my comment yesterday, then listen to the news. My reaction is to think that a big part of the cause is that schools are not armed and therefore easy targets. This would be just the tip of the iceberg however.

    To understand why crazies do these things would require different skills to mine, most of us just get pissed or something equally sensible when a romance fails and that seems to work a treat, and esually does not get you into too much trouble. Perhaps this method should be promoted more. May be TV ads using celebrities on the theme, “Works for me”.

    Seriously though the availibility of guns is just a standard kneejerk reaction. Restricting the availibility of guns merely takes them out of the hands of law-abiding people who, if they were on the spot, would most likely be part of the solution.

    The only guns Howard took in his buyback, were from the law- abiding, some of whom have since replaced them from “other sources”, and as such are technically criminals. According to people I work with there are plenty of guns out there, if you want one.

    The best defence against armed loonies is the honest citizen with a gun. I notice that while most of them seem unafraid to die, or at least must understand that their death is highly probable, they still tend to pick on areas where they are not likely to meet armed resistence. (Schools Workplaces etc.)

    Perhaps we should have an ad campaign of “Just shoot yourself first”.

  5. One swallow doesnt necessarily make a summer; in another instance a man with a knife was surrounded by police armed with guns, when he failed to drop the knife he was shot dead. Victorian police gained a reputation of settling domestic disputes with a “shoot to kill” policy. In these cases the police present the greatest threat to life.

  6. Jim: I really like the slogan ‘A culture of self defence’.

    Rog: In these cases the police present the greatest threat to life. – When that’s the greatest threat to the life of the criminal I’m not too unhappy. I agree non-lethal methods are preferable and allows you to put the guy before a court. But I’m pretty comfortable with the crim getting whacked.

  7. Classically Liberal has a major essay on the use of guns in cases like this one. The article cites four cases where armed “victims” resisted the shooter and that ending the shooting spree with no further victims. There is also an article on how and why “no gun zones” are easy targets for mass killers. http://www.freestudents.blogspot.com.

  8. Australia isn’t without it’s share of these incidents… given our population, I’s say we’re about as bad. Incidentally, the Strathfield massacre of the early 90’s began with a knife attack:

    At approximately 3.30 p.m., apparently without provocation, Frankum pulled a large knife from an army surplus duffel bag and stabbed two teenage girls who were sitting next to him, killing one and badly injuring the other.

    Leaving the knife in the body of one of the girls, he pulled a semi-automatic rifle out of his duffel bag and shot around the cafe, killing several more people.

    No doubt, the complaints about computer games will be splashed across the networks. I’ve never fired a real gun… but go paintballing a couple times a year. I remember the controversy when they came out – but it’s a lot of fun (despite the pain), and doesn’t encourage anyone to go on a rampage (in fact, since everyone has a gun, you usually get shot within the first minute… kind of puts things in perspective)

  9. Spot on David,

    I think guns are a topic that seperates people who actually believe in freedom, warts and all, from those who simply have pet peeves at certain aspects of government control.

    P.J. O’Rourke said: “We know that people aren’t good…People are sneaky, greedy, mean. And yet we, as libertarians, propose to turn these people loose to do whatever they want. We do so because we know that no matter what bad things individuals do, they are better than the things that get done to them by the collective will. Libertarians don’t expect miracles from individuals. We just expect them to be individuals, with the limited scope for evil that individuals enjoy. Real evil is coercive. And an individual does not have the power to coerce that a government has —even if dope and machine guns are legalized.”

    If you believe that the state should restrict access to guns then you believe in the states power to protect us against ourselves. We should not be looking to prevent stuff from happening. If someone hurts me, coerces me to do something with the threat of force or steals from me they should be punished by the state. And that’s all the state should be doing to it’s citizens.

    Anyone who believes otherwise is, by definition, a Statist. You are simply saying that you don’t like guns and you’d rather a world where there are no guns so you want to bury your head in the sand and allow the state to stop people having them. As PJ said in the same speech: “Freedom, as we real advocates of it know, is mostly about responsibility.”

    Part of that responsibility is knowing that there will always be nasty people in the world who want to use violence and to ensure that you, and your loved ones, are protected from these people.

    But I guess I’m just a gun nut.

  10. It just makes sense.
    http://reason.com/news/show/119694.html

    “Not only can guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens save lives in situations like these; they may even make such situations less likely…
    In a 1999 paper, economists John Lott and William Landes presented evidence that such concerns do in fact deter attacks. Looking at public shootings with multiple victims between 1977 and 1995, Lott and Landes found they were substantially less common in states where law-abiding residents are allowed to carry handguns after meeting specified requirements such as a background check and firearms training.

    This difference remained even after Lott and Landes controlled for a variety of variables, such as population, poverty, and arrest rates, that might be expected to affect violent crime. They also found that attacks in states with relatively liberal carry permit policies tended to be less lethal, presumably because they are more often stopped by armed bystanders.”

  11. David Kopel has a good article in the Wall Street Journal on this topic, particularly so-called Gun Free Zones.

    I have a subscription so I can’t link it. I’ve copied it below. Apologies for the length but I think it’s worth it.

    ‘Gun-Free Zones’
    By DAVID B. KOPEL
    April 18, 2007; Page A17

    The bucolic campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., would seem to have little in common with the Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City. Yet both share an important characteristic, common to the site of almost every other notorious mass murder in recent years: They are “gun-free zones.”

    Forty American states now have “shall issue” or similar laws, by which officials issue a pistol carry permit upon request to any adult who passes a background check and (in most states) a safety class. Research by Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary, and others, suggests that these laws provide law-abiding citizens some protection against violent crime. But in many states there are certain places, especially schools, set aside as off-limits for guns. In Virginia, universities aren’t “gun-free zones” by statute, but college officials are allowed to impose anti-gun rules. The result is that mass murderers know where they can commit their crimes.

    Private property owners also have the right to prohibit lawful gun possession. And some shopping malls have adopted anti-gun rules. Trolley Square was one, as announced by an unequivocal sign, “No weapons allowed on Trolley Square property.”

    In February of this year a young man walked past the sign prohibiting him from carrying a gun on the premises and began shooting people who moments earlier were leisurely shopping at Trolley Square. He killed five.

    Fortunately, someone else — off-duty Ogden, Utah, police officer Kenneth Hammond — also did not comply with the mall’s rules. After hearing “popping” sounds, Mr. Hammond investigated and immediately opened fire on the gunman. With his aggressive response, Mr. Hammond prevented other innocent bystanders from getting hurt. He bought time for the local police to respond, while stopping the gunman from hunting down other victims.

    At Virginia Tech’s sprawling campus in southwestern Va., the local police arrived at the engineering building a few minutes after the start of the murder spree, and after a few critical minutes, broke through the doors that Cho Seung-Hui had apparently chained shut. From what we know now, Cho committed suicide when he realized he’d soon be confronted by the police. But by then, 30 people had been murdered.

    But let’s take a step back in time. Last year the Virginia legislature defeated a bill that would have ended the “gun-free zones” in Virginia’s public universities. At the time, a Virginia Tech associate vice president praised the General Assembly’s action “because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.” In an August 2006 editorial for the Roanoke Times, he declared: “Guns don’t belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same.”

    Actually, Virginia Tech’s policy only made the killer safer, for it was only the law-abiding victims, and not the criminal, who were prevented from having guns. Virginia Tech’s policy bans all guns on campus (except for police and the university’s own security guards); even faculty members are prohibited from keeping guns in their cars.

    Virginia Tech thus went out of its way to prevent what happened at a Pearl, Miss., high school in 1997, where assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a handgun from his car and apprehended a school shooter. Or what happened at Appalachian Law School, in Grundy, Va., in 2002, when a mass murder was stopped by two students with law-enforcement experience, one of whom retrieved his own gun from his vehicle. Or in Edinboro, Pa., a few days after the Pearl event, when a school attack ended after a nearby merchant used a shotgun to force the attacker to desist. Law-abiding citizens routinely defend themselves with firearms. Annually, Americans drive-off home invaders a half-million times, according to a 1997 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    In Utah, there is no “gun-free schools” exception to the licensed carry law. In K-12 schools and in universities, teachers and other adults can and do legally carry concealed guns. In Utah, there has never been a Columbine-style attack on a school. Nor has there been any of the incidents predicted by self-defense opponents — such as a teacher drawing a gun on a disrespectful student, or a student stealing a teacher’s gun.

    Israel uses armed teachers as part of a successful program to deter terrorist attacks on schools. Buddhist teachers in southern Thailand are following the Israeli example, because of Islamist terrorism.

    After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., long-time gun control advocates, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), agreed that making airplane cockpits into “gun-free zones” had made airplanes much more dangerous for everyone except hijackers. Corrective legislation, supported by large bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, allowed pilots to carry firearms, while imposing rigorous gun-safety training on pilots who want to carry.

    In many states, “gun-free schools” legislation was enacted hastily in the late 1980s or early 1990s due to concerns about juvenile crime. Aimed at juvenile gangsters, the poorly written and overbroad statutes had the disastrous consequence of rendering teachers unable to protect their students.

    Reasonable advocates of gun control can still press for a wide variety of items on their agenda, while helping to reform the “gun-free zones” that have become attractive havens for mass killers. If legislators or administrators want to require extensive additional training for armed faculty and other adults, that’s fine. Better that some victims be armed than none at all.

    The founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, understood the harms resulting from the type of policy created at Virginia Tech. In his “Commonplace Book,” Jefferson copied a passage from Cesare Beccaria, the founder of criminology, which was as true on Monday as it always has been:

    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

    Mr. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo., and co-author of the law school textbook, “Gun Control and Gun Rights” (NYU Press).

  12. It appears that Reason has thrown all scholarly standards out the window, citing an out of date article by a discredited researcher.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/04/reynolds_claims_more_guns_less.php

    Over at Reason Jacob Sullum ignores Duwe’s work and instead cites a paper by discredited researcher John Lott. A paper that Lott was unable to publish in journal. A paper that claims that carry laws reduced mass shootings by an unlikely 89%. Lott, by the way claims Duwe “gets the same results I do”.

  13. Fair enough Jason,

    Serves me right for offering up a straw man. Care to comment on the topic of this entry or my two comments?

    Can you explain to us why it wouldn’t have resulted in less death if students were allowed to carry concealed weapons?

    Can you also explain why preventative laws such as banning guns as they may lead to violence is different than say banning drugs as they may lead to people commiting acts of violence; such as mugging people to obtain more heroin or going on a meth induced rampage?

    Can you explain the logic in banning guns when they allow women to defend themselves against would be rapists?

  14. Lott may have lost some credibility, although that is controversial. However, Lott and Mustard’s conclusions have withstood scrutiny. Here’s an example:

    http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/ucp/WebIntegrationServlet?call=ContentWeblet&url=http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/journal/issues/v44nS2/012203/012203.web.pdf&current_page=content

    Abstract

    In 1997, John Lott and David Mustard published an important paper in which they found that right-to-carry concealed weapons laws reduce violent crime. Although Lott and Mustard appear to do all possible variations of the analysis, a closer reading reveals that the study might suffer from several possibly important errors. I reestimate the model and check for incorrect functional form, omitted variables, and possible second-order bias in the t-ratios. Lott and Mustard’s basic conclusions are generally robust with respect to these potential econometric problems. Overall, right-to-carry concealed weapons laws tend to reduce violent crime. The effect on property crime is more uncertain. I find evidence that these laws also reduce burglary.

  15. You could also read the fascinating book “GUNS AND VIOLENCE the english experience” by Joyce Lee Malcolm. This looks at English history, and their reputation for civility.
    The last chapter of that book concludes that England has been getting more violent and unruly as a direct result of the laws against owning fire-arms. The right of Protestants to bear arms was in the English Bill of Rights of 1688, but that was treated more as a wish-list by Parliament than a list of rights. Even in wartime, the government kept a sharp eye on who owned weapons, and they’ve all been using any excuse to take arms away. Criminals have not respected these laws (who’d have thought it?) and have been arming themselves like Kali, with death in each hand. Before, thieves and burglars wouldn’t have known if you had a gun or not- now they know you, a law-abiding citizen, won’t be armed.
    The English are now unarmed, and criminals show them no respect, and lone gunmen choose unarmed civilians to kill. Don’t criminal scum believe in fairness?

  16. Michael
    I like “A culture of Self Defence”.

    I am afraid the thought of seeing the current affairs programs jammed with,self righous, supercillious, pompous, arrogant know it all, dumb bastards, advocating more controls, and claiming we could save the world if only we had more government intervention in everything,tended to bring out my cynical side.

    One thing that concerned me was, the feeling that “unarmed victims” was just too flippant and easy to say, while there had to be a deeper meaning, that I was missing. Then I found the following on Born Again Redneck Yogi.
    http://bornagainredneck.blogspot.com/

    .critics should inquire as to why schools are always attacked by predatory psychos…as opposed to, let us say, police departments.

    Is it because guns are banned in schools?

    Then in comments.

    In a word…YES!!! As a retired homicide detective sergeant…I know many suspects told me during interrogation that, in many cases, they picked their victims because they knew, or thought, that the victims wouldn’t, or couldn’t, defend themselves with lethal force.

    I just can’t help but wonder if the outcome might have been differant if a student or faculty member had been armed (as the Second Ammendment allows for)….Cookie
    Cookie | Homepage | 04.18.07 – 4:56 pm | #

  17. The Wikipedia article is inaccurate. Odighizuwa had run out of ammunition. That was what stopped the shootings. There were two armed off-duty police officers who helped capture them, but it seems likely that Odighizuwa had discarded his gun before they arrived (though one of them disputes this). I have 13 posts on this topic which you can read here.

  18. Tim,

    Thanks but that doesn’t make any difference. If he’d had several more rounds he could have been coerced to drop his weapon or shot by someone else just as this nutter could have been stopped had a law abiding citizen been around with a gun.

    Gun Free Zones could possibly work but you would have to completely lock the place down and have massive searches on anyone who entered.

    Simply declaring a place a Gun Free Zone and having done with it is equivalent to closing your eyes, shoving your fingers in your ears and saying “la la la la.. I can’t hear you” over and over.

  19. “The Wikipedia article is inaccurate. Odighizuwa had run out of ammunition. That was what stopped the shootings.”

    No Tim, it is widely reported that witnesses have conflicting accounts of what happened.

    Also I thought Bridges was not a cop, but a civilian.

  20. This is probably the smartest thing I’ve read on the topic yet: http://www.reason.com/news/show/119749.html

    I must admit that I got a little over excited in all the fun of band wagon jumping and Freedom loving. What should interest Libertarians is that, in the US “your chance of being a murder victim has plunged by 44 percent since 1991”. This is something that commie-hippie types hate to hear because it means that the evil capitalist lifestyle we live is actually making the world a better place.

    It also goes on to say “Most people wouldn’t carry a gun to a classroom in daytime, because college campuses are very safe” which I admit is true.

    This sums it up for mine “It may seem obvious that when an atrocity is committed with a gun, we should respond by revising our gun laws. In fact, what we know suggests that if there is a way to prevent mass killings, it will have to be found someplace else.”

    Things are getting better all the time. These crazy types are few and far between. They do seem to be over represented in the US but that has nothing to do with the availability of Guns. As Helen said in the catallaxy thread it is some other “x” factor that causes it. It’s a bummer that these guys tend to self destruct or we’d be able to study them a little more and find out what is causing them to wig out.

    What really bummed me out was how quickly people are willing to say to the government “Here! take this away from us to protect us.” whenever a freak thing like this occurs. Why must we always look to the government whenever things go wrong and assume they’ll have the answer? That’s well un-libertarian for mine. Politicians for the most part will simply put in place whatever dumb strategy will placate the most amount of voters.

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  22. There are conflicting accounts from witnesses about whether Peter O was aware of the students’ guns when he was tackled. But you don’t have to rely on eye witness accounts to know whether he had any ammunition left. The police checked his gun. It was empty.

    Nice to see you go straight for the ad hominem attack rather than anything substantive, DavidLeyonhjelm.

  23. Regardless Tim, would you have preferred to have wrestled him to the ground without the armed police officer and civilian there? Would you like not knowing if he had a full clip, or if he had a chance of reloading without being shot by Bridges and Gross?

    Mr O was tackled after he was commanded to drop his weapon.

  24. Mark, some witnesses say that he put his gun down before Bridges and Gross arrived at the scene. And both of Bridges and Gross were police officers, as well as Ted Besen, who tackled Peter O.

  25. A basic libertarian principle is that governments should not have the right to dictate to us, or make choices for us. On that basic principle, we should be allowed to own guns, especially for home defence, and self-defence. Shooting for sport is a different realm, but similar principles should apply.
    What I would love to have is what England had for a few centuries, the ideal mixture of linerty and civility- individuals had the right to own guns, and carry them about, but very few people actually bothered, because crime and criminals were rarely violent, and even the police were only armed with truncheons, not fire-arms. That culture has broken down, but it was the best arrangement.

  26. Nice to see you go straight for the ad hominem attack rather than anything substantive, DavidLeyonhjelm.

    The pot calls the kettle black Tim Lambert. From your own website:

    “You should read the whole discussion to really appreciate what an enormous lie Lott told.”

    “we have proof not only that the Post was not to blame for the omission, but that the omission was quite deliberate and not accidental”

    “Now let’s look at the facts Lott deliberately left out of his account of what happened”

    “Lott is well aware of these facts because he selectively quotes from this very article. … And not only does he deliberately suppress inconvenient facts, he invents new ones to make his argument more compelling.”

  27. I agree nicholas… and I think that is the most likely culture that we would have in Australia with more liberal gun laws.

    I believe it is a false dichotomy to say that you must choose between strict gun laws or wide gun ownership… I think the most likely (and in my opinion most desirable) outcome is the freedom to own guns but a society where the need or desire to own a gun was low and so ownership is low.

  28. David L, you cite four Lambert quotes, none of which is an ad hominem attack. You do know what ad hominem means, don’t you?

  29. David
    All of Tim’s statements are verifiable facts which call into question the data behind Lott’s claims. Tim has written extensively on Lott and can back up each one of his allegations. Where is this ad hominem you talk of?

  30. I have now read the entire exchange between Ed Huntress, John Lott and Mary Rosh posted on Tim Lambert’s site.

    Lambert adopts Ed Huntress’ line of argument without qualification, arguing that Lott’s failure to mention that the two students who tackled the gunman at Appalachian School of Law were off-duty police was intentional and “an enormous lie”. Lott’s version, that he merely relied on media sources and the omission was no big deal since they were students nonetheless, is categorically dismissed.

    This is a question of standards, not of proven lying. There is no proof that Lott did anything other than write the op-ed to support his conclusion. Huntress argues Lott fails the test of proper journalism, assuming op-ed authors are journalists. I would challenge that.

    The presumption in favour of deliberate lying might come close to ad hominem. Nonetheless, I’ll concede it is not as apparent as I first suggested, so I withdraw the accusation.

    Still, it does seem from the various articles on his website that Lambert is seeking to build a case for discrediting Lott as a person that originates from his disagreement with his views.

  31. DavidL sez:

    Lambert adopts Ed Huntress’ line of argument without qualification, arguing that Lott’s failure to mention that the two students who tackled the gunman at Appalachian School of Law were off-duty police was intentional and “an enormous lie”.

    No I don’t. The “enormous lie” was when Lott told Huntress that he hadn’t seen the NY Post version of his article. After being in a weeks long argument about it under his Mary Rosh identity.

    Lott’s version, that he merely relied on media sources and the omission was no big deal since they were students nonetheless, is categorically dismissed.

    No, Lott’s version is that he did mention that they were police officers and that the omission was because the NY Post trimmed his article. He told the “enormous lie” to make this story believable.

  32. Tim – thanks for joining us in this discussion. Echo chambers get a bit boring.

    One of the things that really bugged me after this incident was that I read The Australian and SMH newspaper reports and editorials and I watched ABCs Lateline and rather that let the facts and third parties speak to the issues and questions I mostly encountered journalists and editors that dished up their prepackaged conclusions rather than any form of balanced open minded reporting. The headlines were full of implication that the USA (a democracy) should impose gun controls but will fail to do so. The tough question seemed to be “when will the USA wake up to itself and impose gun controls?” Nowhere in the local print and TV media did I see any attempt to answer the more challenging question “do gun controls make a difference?” or “in per capita terms how much more danger is there of being massacred by an armed nutcase in the USA versus Australia and elsewhere?” The editorial in the Australian referenced Australian crime statistics and stated categorically that gun controls prevent massacres as if it’s a settled question, which seemed very disappointing given that the crime data is pretty inconclusive.

    Perhaps a more meaningful discussion would be around which aspects of regulation are effective and worth retaining or implementing and which are worth ditching. For instance:-

    1. Should we retain a licencing system for gun owners to test competence and to ensure background checks?

    2. Should gun owners be forced to regularily go shooting in order to retain their licence?

    3. Should unlicenced individuals be prohibited from shooting at a firing range under supervision?

    4. Should the police carry guns? Should commercial airline pilots be armed? What other professions should be armed?

    5. Should the import and sale of rocket launchers be permitted or is the libertarian arguments limited to weapons for personal self defence and established sports?

  33. What about a property rights approach?

    Rather than bickering about gross effects, blah blah blah, allow individual institutions and locales to decide their own rules?

  34. The “enormous lie” was when Lott told Huntress that he hadn’t seen the NY Post version of his article.

    OK, I incorrectly attributed Huntress’ complaints to you.

    I don’t understand why you think this qualifies as an “enormous lie” rather than simply disingenuous dealing with a smart-arse journalist.

    Huntress had made a huge deal out of the fact that the students were off duty police. He said, “John Lott is a disgrace to my profession. He used the facts to tell a lie, which is the work of a propagandist, not a journalist. The facts are that two armed men were among the students who tackled the shooter. The lie is that they are representative of ordinary citizens who arm themselves against such eventualities, and are proof of how the “liberal” press covers up this fact. The “ordinary citizens,” as Mr. Lott certainly knows, happen to be cops. Lies in the service of “larger truth,” no doubt…

    If it had been me, I would have strongly challenged that point. Most cops (including these two, I feel sure) have no competence advantage over ordinary citizens who know how to handle guns (particularly CCW permit holders). True, they are given training in the use of their service pistols but if that’s anything like the NSW police it doesn’t amount to much. The police who join my pistol club invariably have inferior safety and accuracy skills compared to club members.

    Lott appears to have been intimidated by Huntress’ quite fierce criticisms of his omission that the citizens were off duty police, and felt compelled to amend his article. He then misled Huntress as to why he hadn’t written it that way in the beginning.

    I don’t think I could accept that misleading a journalist in a blog debate amounts to an “enormous” lie. Where would that leave examples such as, “I smoked it but I didn’t inhale”, or “I never had sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski”. We’d need more enormous words than enormous on that scale.

    I wonder whether you would think it was so enormous if you agreed with Lott’s view.

  35. What about a property rights approach?

    I have no problems with a property rights approach. It is fairly common in the US now where some businesses and buildings in CCW states ban firearms. It is obviously difficult to apply everywhere though.

    In the case of VT, the university had decided to make the campus a “gun free zone”, thereby making it unlikely an armed criminal would face return fire.

    The issue is whether the decision was the right one, not whether it had the right to make it.

  36. So you see nothing wrong with lying to journalists, David? Are there other groups of people you think it’s OK to lie to?

    I didn’t say that. I questioned your use of the word “enormous”.

  37. So Tim, why do you never answer questions about policy, criticise policies or suggest some, but merely muckrake? Are you willing to answer the questions put forward by Terje and I?

  38. Is this some kind of boy scout thing? Did your mother spank you and make you stand in the corner when you told fibs? Are we talking about a Bill Clinton lie or a John Howard lie? Or perhaps a Hilary Clinton lie?

    As I have said, Lott was disingenuous with Huntress when Huntress was making seriously overblown accusations. As I also said, I would have handled it differently. But being disingenuous with a journalist in those circumstances doesn’t strike me as warranting your “enormous lie” label. He certainly didn’t lie in the published article.

    Lott is an academic. As I’m sure you know better than me, they are not perfect.

  39. What Mark said as well.

    Your refusal to answer him does tend to suggest I might have been right all along. Do you have trouble distinguishing between the argument and the person making it?

  40. Mark, why do you write untrue things about me? I left a comment correcting something that was incorrect in the post. In response, you and David have made ad hominem attacks on me.

    David, I note that you can’t bring yourself to admit that Lott lied. And why do you think that it is some sort of justification for his deception that he deceived a journalist?

  41. I note that you can’t bring yourself to admit that Lott lied.

    Is it a lie to leave stuff out? Is it a lie to pretend you never farted in the lift? Is it a lie to label something as an “enormous lie” when it is obviously nothing of the sort?

    The question of whether or not Lott lied is the beginning of the debate, not the end. Why was Huntress so obsessed about the fact that the students were police officers? What did he leave out about his agenda? Is that a lie? Why do you consider it “enormous”? What are you leaving out?

  42. Please, Guys, let’s get back to the main topic! What do you think should be the libertarian’s position, based on first principles?
    P.S. The cover of a future libertarian magazine could have a girl having her clothes ripped off her, with the tag- ‘Governments are always taking, leaving us with less and less!’

  43. Nicholas, I can’t improve on your summary above or John H’s response:

    I believe it is a false dichotomy to say that you must choose between strict gun laws or wide gun ownership… I think the most likely (and in my opinion most desirable) outcome is the freedom to own guns but a society where the need or desire to own a gun was low and so ownership is low.

    In reality, that is the situation in most of the US. I understand the percentage of people taking out CCW permits in states where they are permitted is well under 5%. Once you get away from certain neighbourhoods, there’s no burning desire to carry a gun and most people don’t do it. Guns are also heavy, bulky and uncomfortable.

    With law enforcement that focuses on coercive rather than victimless crimes, it should be possible to ensure society stays that way.

  44. Although this thread has focused on the US experience, there are lessons that can be drawn from the UK where pistols have been entirely banned since 1997.

    A Home Office study on the illegal firearms trade found:

    Crimes involving the use of firearms comprise around 0.4 per cent of all recorded offences in England and Wales and have doubled since the mid to late-1990s (Povey and Kaiza, 2006: 81). This increase has occurred against a background of increasingly restrictive legislation and ever more sophisticated public policy responses. At the same time, a small number of high-profile and shocking firearm homicides have raised considerably public concerns about the problem of illegal firearms. Police, politicians and media reports have described the emergence of a criminal ‘gun culture’, particularly in some inner-city areas in England.

    The full report is available here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/hors298.pdf

  45. There was a report on page 2 of the SMH yesterday citing a new report by Andrew Leigh which apparently claims that the crime data shows that the 1996 gun reforms have saved a couple of thousand lives over the last decade. If anybody knows where we can read a copy of the report I’d be very interested.

  46. It’s essentially a rework of the Baker and Macphedran paper that came to the opposite conclusion. These anti-gun fanatics are nothing if not fanatical.

    I anticipate there will be a response by Baker and Macphedran before long.

  47. “There was a report on page 2 of the SMH yesterday citing a new report by Andrew Leigh which apparently claims that the crime data shows that the 1996 gun reforms have saved a couple of thousand lives over the last decade.”

    Did Andrew check the reasonableness of his answers when he finished his data analysis? Sounds like spurious or self selecting regressions to me.

    100 less people per year died? Not attributed to better medical care or a falling crime rate in general due to better investigation, longer gaol times and more officers to handle cases?

    I have my doubts because the crime rate and murder rate has been falling since the 1970s.

    If it isn’t murder or manslaughter, then it is claiming a reduction in guns lowered the suicide rate, or accidental deaths. Semi autos do not fire continously by accident. Suicide victims can’t fire multiple rounds and suicidal tendancies do not disappear because a method of dying is removed.

  48. How convenient, David and Mark

    So you’re quite happy to cite the Baker and Macphedran paper but when someone else takes a look at the same data and expands the data and comes to different conclusions you just *know* it’s wrong without having read it?

    So much for your intellectual honesty. If this is your attitude, then why cite any research at all?

  49. Thanks Fatfingers. Reading the main conclusion and the conclusion from Appendix A it seems that Andrew is saying that:-

    1. We can’t conclude that gun homocides/gun suicides declined due to gun laws, unless we ignore the weakness of the data. If we ignore the weakness of the data then the reforms in 1996 reduced the use of guns in homicide and suicide.

    2. We can’t conclude that there is or isn’t a substitution effect based on the data available. If we assume that there is a substitution effect we can’t say if it is large or small.

    3. The authors of the original paper made spurious claims.

    Leaving aside the controversy of point 3 it seems that in hindsight there is no justification for the gun reforms unless your preference is for constraining liberty without evidence of utility. Or to put it differently the laws make sence if you are willing to sacrifice liberty for a chance that it may possibly offer some utility that can’t ever be clearly demonstrated.

    Assuming that the laws reduce by 1 in 1 million your chance of getting murdered next year some people will find them worth while. I wouldn’t. And I place no value at all on the chance that maybe I’m less likely to kill myself next year. And all this assumes that there is any effect at all which seems unclear from the data.

  50. Jason,

    Leigh and Neill simply argue that the BM paper should be revisited. Their analysis didn’t include the control type variables I suggest. They think BM are drawing too long a bow. Similarly, for the reasons I outline, accepting the null hypothesis is too much of a leap in logic as well.

    What would really sort this out would be the same type of independent variable specification Leigh and Neill suggest combined with VAR type “intervention” analysis commonly applied to analyses of anti terrorist measures. Given the trend of the longest time series, the NFA could possibly be a nested variable.

    The dataset should always be made as long as possible – given the feasibility of structural breaks and change.

    The SMH is actually guilty of intellectual dishonesty.

  51. you just *know* it’s wrong without having read it?
    So much for your intellectual honesty.

    You really are going for Mr Nice Guy of the year award aren’t you Jason? Why would you assume neither of us had read it and then feel entitled to such a derogatory comment, apart from simple malice?

    As it happens I read it when it came out and Mark has already indicated he did as well. But as I don’t work part time a detailed comment had to wait. Perhaps you wouldn’t understand that.

    I endorse Terje’s well made points and don’t pretend to understand statistics as well as Mark, so I only have two substantial comments:

    1. The authors claim “tightened gun ownership and licencing requirements removed 600,000 guns from a country with a population of 20 million”, thereby offering “a potentially useful natural experiment”.

    That’s utter drivel. What was removed was 600,000 semi-auto guns, not all of them functioning, believe me. Within a year or so they had all been replaced by legal firearms, every one of which worked perfectly. Firearms licencees in NSW now exceed 1996 levels as well.

    If there was any impact from the buyback it would be solely due to the reduction (not removal) in the types of rifles involved in the buyback ie semi-auto rifles and semi-auto and pump action shotguns.

    That point is especially relevant to the suicide analysis, since you can’t kill yourself any better with a semi-auto fiream than a single shot. Although Australian Institute of Criminology data suggests there was method substitution (contrary to Neill and Leigh’s assertions), the whole argument is irrelevant since there was no change in the method options.

    Leigh’s claim on his blog that the percentage of households owning firearms has declined cannot be taken seriously. Nobody I know ever answers a question on that subject honestly.

    2. Neill and Leigh argue that a longer time series is more indicative, and attempt to analyse gun deaths from 1915. However, they make absolutely no effort to consider other variables during the period up to 1996, which included two world wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, plus the general availabilty of semi-auto firearms since the early 1970s. Baker and McPhedran’s use of data since 1979 is far more valid on that basis alone.

    Leigh also says in his blog: “Since the gun buyback cost $500 million, this indicates that even if we use the lowest reasonable estimates of its impact on homicide and suicide (128 lives saved per year), it paid for itself in just two years.” He bases this on “The standard Australian estimate of the value of a statistical life (from a recent paper by Peter Abelson) .. at $2.5 million.”

    His estimates are only reasonable if you accept all his assumptions and the cost-benefit analysis is bizarre, but even ignoring that he takes no account of whether the funds could have saved more lives if used in other ways.

    For example, each of the perpetrators of Australia’s mass shootings have suffered from mental illness. If the money had gone towards the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, perhaps without implementing the Richmond report recommendations to throw the mentally ill out of institutional care, how many lives might have been saved? $500 million would go a very long way towards improving mental health care even now.

    With 40,000 alcohol related deaths annually, how many lives might have been saved by banning alcohol and spending the money “buying back” things like overproof rum. But that wouldn’t happen, since John Howard enjoys a drink or two but happens to hate guns. As do a number of other anti-gun fanatics.

  52. David/Mark/Terje – I wonder if the CIS or IPA would consider publishing a paper on this topic if approached by you guys? Most of the discussion is happening in an ad hoc manner on blogs, which seems ineffective… few Australian commentators seem willing to take the fight to the academics.

    Maybe that’s why it continues to be seen as an extreme position here. At least if the SMH reports such a paper with enough sensationalism we could convince the people who just read headlines that there is genuine room for disagreement on this issue, and it’s not just ‘rednecks’ who feel there’s a fundamental problem with being denied the reasonable means to defend yourself.

    The principle is powerful in itself, but to persuade people who think the whole freedom thing is overrated, utilitarian type analysis is needed.

    There are a lot of detailed questions raised (what sort of firearms are permissible, mandatory waiting periods, licensing…) that would best be tackled systematically, in the Australian context. It could also raise the profile of the LDP, so it’d be worth the time and effort. Worth approaching them I think.

  53. David L, I have to agree that the money could have been much better spent on mental health care. In fact, mental health care seems to be yet another area that government spending is absolutely necessary, but that’s a discussion for another time. I would point out, though, that the money was actually only $320 million, as Leigh has noted on his blog.

    “Within a year or so they had all been replaced by legal firearms, every one of which worked perfectly. Firearms licencees in NSW now exceed 1996 levels as well.”

    What you have inadvertently shown with that sentence is that the kind of gun matters (if Leigh and Neill’s paper is valid, that is). If gun deaths dropped after the buyback of semi-autos, and did not rise after their replacement by non-semi-autos, then what “gun control freaks” are saying holds water – reducing the availability of the more destructive weapons is a good thing.

    “Baker and McPhedran’s use of data since 1979 is far more valid”

    Neill has a reason for going back further:
    http://andrewleigh.com/?p=1427#comment-90092

    “With 40,000 alcohol related deaths annually”

    Franco has an interesting comment on that, though how reliable his figures are, I don’t know:
    http://andrewleigh.com/?p=1427#comment-90175

  54. “What you have inadvertently shown with that sentence is that the kind of gun matters (if Leigh and Neill’s paper is valid, that is). If gun deaths dropped after the buyback of semi-autos, and did not rise after their replacement by non-semi-autos, then what “gun control freaks” are saying holds water – reducing the availability of the more destructive weapons is a good thing.”

    No, that trend was occuring before the buyback. You have some specious reasoning there FF.

    What you have to prove is that the buyback did anything significantly different to where the previous laws were predicted to go.

  55. I’m pretty sure they’d pay a decent sum too!

    I actually had a paper on gun laws published in the IPA Review back in 1992. They didn’t pay me then. 🙂

    Your point is valid though. The CIS won’t touch the issue (I’ve asked) but the IPA is a possibility and I’m working on it.

  56. I would point out, though, that the money was actually only $320 million, as Leigh has noted on his blog.

    The amount paid in direct compensation up to January 1999 was $378 million. Some dealer claims were still to be settled at that time. Then there was the pistol buyback in 2002, which added more than $100 million.

    This cost does not include administration and implementation of the program, quite a lot of which was undertaken by the States which were reimbursed by the Commonwealth. For example, there were a number of “buyback” centres dotted around the country in which private sector gun experts were employed to value surrendered firearms. There were also staff employed to operate the large crushing machines.

    I believe $500 million would be on the low side. I note also that Leigh’s alternative figure came from the Coalition for Gun Control, an authoritative source if ever there was one. Tha fact that he accepted the figure without question says a lot.

    My source is the Australian Institute of Criminology: http://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/ti104.pdf

  57. Jason

    Are you in favour of gun control or are you just being pedantic about statistics?

    Firearms ownership is about rights not statistics.

  58. Sukrit,

    Given the way the SMH has previously editorialised on this topic and given the way they reported on Andrew Leighs work I am of the view that the SMH is editorially biased on this issue. As is much of the media. In 1996 I was a supporter of the buyback essentially because the argument as I had seen it made sence. Most Australians have neither the time nor the inclination to make their own enquiries on most policy issues and they put a large stock of faith in the media. The Internet will change that in time (as diversity of view point and argument abounds online) however it is going to happen over time, not immediately.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  59. The Internet will change that in time (as diversity of view point and argument abounds online)

    And don’t the lefties hate this! There was an article on the ABC a while back claiming that the popularity of blogging has declined somewhat. The reporter added ‘and good riddance to it’!

    Seems those who used to have power over the information that the masses received aren’t that happy when the power really is in the hands of the people!

  60. And what is wrong with a little press moderation? As one commentator here said, ‘It’s good to be the king’.
    I’ve noted that a lot of scientists actually have a closed mind in regards to science. A senior scientist once saw a pro-creationist show, and revealed his mind-set; apparently, such dribble wouldn’t be allowed on TV if he was in charge, they shouldn’t let such junk on, etc.etc. His opinions and teachings were the only ones worth mentioning. Quite a few people would be in favour of Press censorship, so long as they could be the chief censor!
    It’s only broadminded people like ourselves who are able to put up with the flash-hearts and JCs of this world!

  61. Mark Steyn makes a lot of sense on some subjects, but he is a whole-hearted supporter of Prez George the Third. When he was writing for ‘The Spectator’, a Bwitish Magazeen, he was quite informative, and sounded libertarian. When you read his book, and some of his other columns, he sounds Conservative, so I think he can be classified as a Center-right voter. Still, if only to see who he’s stirring up, he’s usually very enjoyable!

  62. Nicholas, you’ll have to explain yourself a bit more.

    Why is whole-hearted support for George Bush bad? Do you personally dislike Bush or is there a rational reason?

    What made him sound Conservative?

  63. George Bush introduced The U.S PATRIOT Act, which greatly expanded the powers of Law Enforcement Officers of every type. Many of the powers have since proven unworkable, but such laws never seem to get repealed.
    Prez George is also a crusader in the (unwinnable) War on Drugs, and the feds have consistently meddled in states, like California, which attempted to decriminalize marijuana.
    Libertarians usually believe in less government and less powers to any government. whilst Conservatives have a belief in a strong state.
    On the plus side, we are both Christians, and I approve of wholesome family values. I just don’t think the state should have the power to dictate moral choices, or force me to pay for its’ ways.

  64. OK, that covers Bush and your reasons are rational.

    What make Mark Steyn sound like a Conservative?

  65. Steyn wholeheartedly supports Bush, and I have never read any comment by Steyn that is at all critical of the Prez. Whenever he mentions Bush, it is usually to praise him. And I don’t think I’ve heard him say or write anything nice about any Democrat. If I am misinformed, can anyone point out any correcting passages?

  66. Whether you go around killing and raping people is a moral decision. It is one that I’m more than happy having the government dictate and enforce. As such I think you need a little more nuance in the proclamation that governments should not dictate moral choices.

  67. Nicholas: I happen to think Bush has a lot of good points. While I acknowledge he also has bad points, I haven’t discussed them much. I also prefer the Republicans to the Democrats.

    Does that make me a Conservative? I don’t think it does and I doubt if it does in the case of Steyn either. I suspect Steyn just prefers Bush to the alternatives, which is pretty easy.

    Terje: the government should not dictate moral choices even in the case of killing and raping. It should uphold and enforce the moral choices that we have made as a society. We agree to relinquish some of individual coercive capabilities in the interests of preserving civilisation.

    That’s quite different from the government allowing us to do certain things, not including murder and rape.

    Locke versus Hobbes!

  68. Terje, Governments should be a reactive, not an active, force. At best, it might respond to someone else’s actions, but it shouldn’t be in the business of initiating actions in the name of society. That way leads to group-think, and group-conscience. (I’m a minarchist libertarian.)
    As for Bush, yes, I like some things about him, but if I was in America, I think I’d vote Libertarian Party. My second choice might be Republican, but both Dems and Reps seem to think that more government is the solution to any problem- they just have differing ideas about what are problems, and what are solutions. I always try to separate personalities from parties, so I’ll freely admit to having voted for Fraser, for instance. I wouldn’t vote for his views now, because he has changed, but he was my choice then!

  69. One of the methods to bring to public attention the rediculous nature of gun control is ridicule. An excellent Example of this came to my attention today from the Catskill Commentator
    http://www.commentator.vze.com/

    It quotes an article by Ignatius Piazza, founder of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, who is offering free training to accademics in the use of firearms, for defending students.

    He says;

    “The problem is not guns. Guns don’t cause these incidents to occur any more than cameras cause child pornography or automobiles cause traffic fatalities,” he said. “Society is safer when we train and arm our law abiding citizens.”

    His feelings are so strong on the subject he’s launched a two-part campaign: to honor the heroes of the Virginia Tech massacre and to make sure that defensive firearms training is available to those who will be in a position to halt the next one.

    The Editor then makes the point: –

    I like that — let’s blame cameras for porno. Let’s regulate the hell out of Kodak — 5 day waiting period to buy film, fingerprints required! We all know that porno is the favorite vice of pedophiles, if there were no cameras there would be no porno !!!

  70. Well said Terje. For a non-shooter you’re starting to get your head around this issue very well.

    let’s blame cameras for porno.

    The better version of that is: If guns cause crime, matches cause arson.

  71. I have also noticed mainstream media being highly critical of internet blogging and current affairs discussion. I think I saw an article in the Australian saying it was dangerous! Anyway, this negative reaction must be a good sign indicating some in the traditional press are feeling threatened. They may have to start using their brains a bit more to stay competitive.

    Regarding the recent Virginia Tech massacre, I was dissapointed that I haven’t seen anyone (except Jim Fryar) comment on the irresponsible nature of the gunman’s comments blaming the world for his actions and claiming he was “forced” to go on the rampage. I don’t think I saw any discussion on the gunman’s comments. All I noticed was calls for more gun controls and ridicule of US gun laws.
    It’s my theory that when you mix a helpless/hopeless and irresponsible type ideology with mental illness and/or severe emotional stress you can have an incident like this.

  72. Well, I’ll own up. I often send insideous telepathic messages around the world, trying to tell people ,”Well, shoot!!” I suppose I should have realised that a sensitive person like a homicidal maniac would pick this up as the world giving him instructions, forcing him to murder others. And I’ve often thought ‘What we need now is more child pornography!’ Obviously I’m to blame for that as well. But I won’t take the whole blame! How many other people have light-heartedly tried to control minds? Those wishes are dangerous!

  73. Tim
    Thanks for dropping over; I thought I was a bit too way out to expect to find you guys over here at my site.

    As I said earlier, this argument is or should be about rights, not statistics, not the results of studies, not even about the mental state of the murderer. My primary reason for that post on my site was to highlight the mental attitude, which I associate with the left, namely the justification of any action no matter how extreme, by blaming society as a whole or some aspect of society (especially the aspects disapproved of by the left).

    The trade off for the personal and economic freedoms we expect in a free society is that we have to accept personal responsibility, when our actions come to failure or cause harm. Anything less just won’t work, instead of living in Libertaria, you would be in NotMyFaultistan.

    I have little faith in statistics, the result is influenced by the way the question is asked, the alteration of a couple of words to suit the questioner, means information becomes relevant or irrelevant which was the other way around before. Government specialise in this.

    The argument about the Appalation School of law above is not really that important – is it really relevant if the student who retrieved the gun from his car was also a police officer? Move across to Trolley Square, where an off duty police officer took his gun into the centre, in contravention of the rules, and was thus on hearing shooting, able to confront the killer, and prevent more deaths until backup arrived.

    If we accept that we have right to life, liberty, property, etc. then it follows that we have the right to defend those rights. If we are denied the right to such defence then, we are denied those rights, as they are then unsustainable in the face of those who would deny them to us.

  74. Tim,

    Re mainstream media feeling threatened, there was an article about this in today’s Australian, May 1. They are getting worried.

  75. Rights come with responsibilities and one of those is to occasionally examine our culture and ask why certain things are happening. I suspect this will happen in the USA because in the last week there have been 3 incidents involving people going postal. This is so much a US phenomenon that one has to wonder what it is about the USA that makes them world leaders in mass killings. There appear to be a lot of sick puppies over there and many studies have demonstrated that people can be driven to violence quite easily when they are placed in certain environments. Check out the work of Milgram, very scary.

    By the way, the distinction between self and society is spurious.

  76. Dead Soul, the early history of America made them more inclined towards self-reliance; that and the fact that many people wanted to start up their own farms, and were essentially self-reliant from the start. gun-ownership has a longer history than here. Most australians live in cities, were the ‘wild’-life is pretty tame, and where Police are nearer to answer any calls for distress.
    In England, until recently, they didn’t have gun-controls as strict as now, and they had less violent crime. People could buy guns, but didn’t feel a need to do so. Governments then started locking guns away, and then violent crime started to rise. In response to rising crime levels, more guns are locked away, and crime levels are still going up. the response will no doubt be more of the same failed policy (like the wars on poverty, and drugs).

  77. Nicholas,

    Exactly my point. Gun control has little if any impact on crime. The problem is cultural, not guns.

  78. I tend to believe that gun control has a mild impact on crime, mostly negative.

  79. Terje, please expand. Negative for whom- victims or criminals? Does gun control help criminals to commit more crimes, or does gun control lessen crimes, in your beliefs?

  80. On balance I think many forms of gun control tilts things in the favour of criminals. However I think other factors are probably more significant in determining the overall rate of crime.

  81. I speak to left wing friends about Reform 30/30 which has become one of my favourite subjects. They love the idea of a flat tax and NIT but once the abolition of minimum wage is brought up I hit a brick wall. I try to demonstrate to them that it will actually help poor people (job creation, removing the poverty trap) but it’s such a sacred cow that people just stop thinking.

    I bring this up because the minimum wage is the same sort of empty gesture as Gun control. Don’t like gun violence: Ban guns. Don’t like drug use: Ban drugs. Don’t like poverty: Ban the minimum wage.

    While they all do SFA to fix the problem, if you oppose them you are automagically seen as an evil bastard. You’re fighting empty (and I would argue cynical) gestures with reason and logic. It’s a hard sell.

  82. The Jewish comedian, Jackie Mason, has some strong views on gun control. He says gun control is dumb and those who support it are schmucks. And a lot of other things.

    Its message is more powerful because Jews have been on the receiving end of gun control with tragic consequences. One of the first things the Nazis did to the Jews was disarm them.

    See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwjJRkB1nrA

  83. Just for laughs, a friend in the office sent me a transscript of an interview between a female ABC interviewer, and General Cosgrove, which is about a similar subject. The general starts off by talking about how he’s training young boys to do lots of things, including how to shoot.
    The woman keeps being aghast at everything he says, even when he mentions that he’s teaching them proper handling and safety features. Finally, she bursts out with, “BUT you’re equipping them to be violent Killers!”
    “Well, you’re equipped to be a prostitute, but you aren’t one, are you?”
    The interview is stopped suddenly at this point, but i think that everything that needs to be said has just been said, hasn’t it?

  84. I think Tim means a myth. But it’s true the story has been around for many years in various forms (even longer than I realised after looking at his link.) It still makes me chuckle though.

  85. When I was a kid (around 14 yrs old) I used to go shooting with my next door neighbour who owned a low power rifle. And on school camping trips we did archery. I think shooting would be a good sport to teach children and in fact if it wasn’t illegal in NSW for an unlicenced individual to shoot under supervision at a shooting range I’d probably expose my own kids to it at some point. At the moment they have toy cap guns with a strict rule that they are never to be pointed at anybody.

  86. If they start pointing them at anyone, buy them water pistols. They’ll quickly learn that it has consequences.

    Once kids are 12 they can get a permit and learn to shoot in NSW. There is a very enthusiastic junior development program in both pistol and rifle shooting. I recommend youngsters start with smallbore rifle as it requires minimal physical strength. It’s also parent-friendly, being reasonably inexpensive.

  87. Sure, Terje, next you’ll be telling me Santa Claus doesn’t exist, but I saw him at the ALP Conference, promising to give the Unions all they wanted by Christmas!

  88. While I would be preferred to be called anti-intervnetionist or anti-gun control rather than “pro gun”, the gun control lobby are not well represented in that debate over at Nic Gruen’s Club Troppo. Gummo and David R are getting very off topic after being presented with some facts laid down by Terje which do not support their case and can’t admit that utility is a tradeoff between safety and freedom – because freedom allows choice between activities. The question is how do we change perceptions?

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