Is US gun control an important issue?

After the shocking massacre in Connecticut it looks like gun control is going to draw a lot of attention from Obama and Congress this year. This got me thinking about how important gun control might be as a political cause. The potential good achieved by focussing on this policy is in large part determined by the damage done by guns in the first place. In that light, does it deserve it?

A natural measure of the importance of the problem is the number of years of healthy life lost due to gun violence. At  the moment there are a bit over 8,000 murders with firearms each year in the US, some two thirds of the total. If we guess that the typical age of death from gun violence is 30, then the average survivor would have enjoyed another 50 years or so of healthy life. Firearm homicides would than lead to the loss of 400,000 years of healthy life each year. We would then have to add health problems among survivors of gun violence. To confirm that these figures are sensible I looked up the World Health Organisation’s Global Burden of Disease, which suggest ‘intentional violence’ as a whole cost the US and Canada about 1,100,000 years of healthy life each year. Two thirds of this would be 650,000 years, a figure which amounts to about 0.8% of the total burden of disease and injury in the US.

Another even larger problem than murder – at least as far as years of healthy life lost – is suicide. Easy access to guns makes suicide attempts more likely to succeed. The US suicide rate is 12 per 100,000; tragically high, though sadly unexceptional by international standards. If the typical suicide victim would have lived another 45 healthy years, this amounts to an annual burden of 1,600,000 each year, roughly the WHO’s figure. [1]  Firearms are used for about half of these suicides, so we’ll say they have a burden of 800,000 years of healthy life, or about 1% of the total burden of disease and injury.

How much could the US hope to reduce these figures? Of course the relationship between the number of guns and violence is contested, and I don’t really want to get drawn into that debate. I will just assume, for the sake of argument, that gun control policies could indeed help reduce violence. For that purpose, let’s imagine it could get firearm violence and suicide down to the average of other OECD countries. [1] Doing so would reduce the gun death rate (and I will assume injuries too) by 80% from ~10 to ~2 per 100,000. This is wildly optimistic given the other drivers of violence and suicide in the US, and the timidity of any likely gun control laws under the Second Amendment. Even if guns did become hard to access, we would expect to see substitution to other weapons. Nonetheless, it offers a useful upper bound.

An 80% drop in firearm deaths and injuries would prevent the loss of 1.15 million years of healthy life each year, or around 1.4 per cent of all the damage done by disease and injury in the US. This falls inconveniently between ‘very little’ and ‘quite a bit’. How can we put this figure in perspective? One option would be to consider how much people claim to value their lives, while another would be to compare it to other available options for saving lives. Here I will use the latter to give some idea of how focussing on gun control compares to other policies or causes that might improve the health of Americans.

How much does it cost to save a life in the US?  The NHS in Britain conveniently uses £30,000 (around $US50,000) for each year of healthy life as the highest price at which a treatment is worth funding. The US has no central body for making these decisions, so no generic ‘marginal cost’ exists. A conclusion of the classic paper, Five-hundred life-saving interventions and their cost-effectiveness, is that the cost of extending lives varies across several orders of magnitude depending on the approach you take. Nonetheless, many interventions in medicine and general safety fell between $5-50,000 for a year of life, at least in the mid-90s. A quick search turns up vaccination of US girls against HPV, which buys a year of healthy life for about $44,000, total knee arthroplasty for $18,300, HIV screening for under $25,000 and flu vaccination at $8,000-52,000. The availability of all of these could be expanded. At a rounded $50,000 figure, the equivalent of 1.15 million years of healthy life could be saved for $57 billion, or 0.38% of US GDP – a significant sum, though under a fifth of long run annual growth. By comparison, the US Federal Government already spends about 24% of US GDP, and all healthcare spending accounts for some 15%. Based on Robin’s work on the inefficacy of much US healthcare spending, redirecting some of that enormous budget to truly life-saving activities would go a long way.

If American activists or voters currently preoccupied with gun control were willing to look farther afield in their desire to prevent unnecessary death, directing government spending to provide bed nets to protect children in developing countries against malaria could save 30,000 kids for a meagre $70 million, or 0.00000046% of GDP. Sadly, the effectiveness and size of US foreign aid is barely discussed.

Of course this health story is not the full picture of the damage done by gun violence. We ought also consider the:

  • Costs incurred in trying to stay safe
  • Costs of caring for the injured
  • Loss of human capital from adults dying
  • Resulting distress and fear
  • Reduced urbanisation as a result of crime (which lowers productivity, among other things).

I would appreciate attempts to quantify these costs but don’t have time to pursue them myself right now. I would note in passing that many other interventions that improve health and safety would also reduce these harms to some extent.

My interpretation of the above is that gun violence is a serious issue in the US. It is not being blown out of proportion like shark attacks or terrorism. At the same time, the impact of guns on US health-span is modest, and lower than many common and avoidable diseases or accidents which fail to inspire a national conversation. Guns have become a hot issue because of their grisly and visible results, as well as fierce identity politics, rather than the absolute scale of the damage they do. If the main goal of gun control advocates were to save lives, their cause would not stand out as low-hanging fruit, especially if they cared about foreigners as well as Americans. Given the host of major problems facing the US, the limited attention of Congress and the White House, and the improbability of achieving a significant reduction in the number of dangerous weapons available, it is not a cause I would jump on.

[1] Some would say that a death by suicide isn’t as bad as a murder, because someone who is preventing from committing suicide probably has a low quality of life. There is some truth to this but I will ignore it, consistent with my desire to define an upper bound.

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  • http://jimamberger.name/wordpress/ jim

    Nothing wrong with a nice back-of-the-envelope calculation but frankly I found this particular one quite sloppy. 

    • Robert Wiblin

      Let me know what you would like done differently.

      • JordanViray

        For one, I think your numbers are off – not to mention the problems of using “wildly optimistic” estimates to arrive at a $57 Billion figure.

        The OECD link is broken but the claim that suicide/firearm violence levels average 2 per 100k in OECD nations as a whole seems incorrect. From the suicides tab in the following spreadsheet:http://www.oecd.org/els/healthpoliciesanddata/OECDHealthData2012FrequentlyRequestedData_Updated_October.xlsThe OECD average is 12.9 (2010) with the United States at 12.0. The average does not, however, take into account population size differences so the US might indeed be above average.Looking back at the data, we see that the US had a lower rate than Australia from 1996-2002 and a lower rate than Canada from 1971 to 2003 excepting 1975 and 1990. The current Australian rate of 10.6 is not 80% lower than the the American rate of 12.Further, those costs that you mention we ought to consider are also critical in evaluating the monetary impact of gun control. Ultimately, a scenario analysis is most appropriate here where you have wildly optimistic to wildly pessimistic projections. There is good evidence that gun ownership ends up saving more lives than not which suggests that gun control ends up costing society more. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

         “The United Kingdom has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides
        in the world with 0.07 recorded intentional homicides committed with a
        firearm per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009 compared to the United States’
        3.0 (over 40 times higher) and to Germany’s 0.21 (3 times higher).[3]“–WP

      • JordanViray

        Peter, it’s a common error to conflate firearm homicides and suicides with homicides and suicides as a whole. In fact, the original article does just that.

        “let’s imagine it could get firearm violence and suicide down to typical levels in the OECD. [1] This would reduce the gun death rate (and I will assume injuries too) by 80% from ~10 to ~2 per 100,000.”

        The average suicide rate in the OECD excluding the United States is about 13 per 100,000 versus 12 in the United States. The murder rate excluding the United States is about 1.4 per 100,000 versus 5.6 in the United States. So we have a total suicide/murder OECD minus the United States of 14.4 per 100,000 versus 17.6 per 100,000 in the United States. Even if we attribute ALL of the difference to firearms, and suggest that gun control can eliminate this, the reduction is not 80%.

        Indeed, the OECD points out that “in the United States, Washington DC, [has] murder rates four times higher than the country average”

        This is despite the gun ban. 

      • Robert Wiblin

        I’m comfortable using a wildly optimistic figure because I don’t think the case is strong even on that generous interpretation.

        How did you get those OECD figures? I got mine by averaging the firearm related death rate for OECD members here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate . Most OECD members have total firearm death rates well under 3 per 100,000.

        I doubt that widespread gun ownership saves more lives once you consider suicides and accidents.

      • JordanViray

        Robert, I got my figures for suicide from the OECD.org’s “Health Data 2012″ spreadsheet here:

        http://www.oecd.org/els/healthpoliciesanddata/OECDHealthData2012FrequentlyRequestedData_Updated_October.xls

        The murder rates were from a document at OECD-library.org entitled “OECD Regions at a Glance 2009 – Safety: Reported murders”. I averaged the murder rates (I didn’t weight by population) to get the 1.4 figure. 

        http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/0409011ec032.pdf?expires=1360121475&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=2C28F36F6A3AE22BD00D0E7DD94FF2A6

        What I don’t understand about the dataset is how the overall murder rate in the US is 5.6 but according to the regional statistics, *every* state is under 2 except for DC at nearly 6.

      • Douglas Knight

        Jordan, I think this is a better link to OECD Regions at a Glance 2009 – Safety: Reported murders though google may be a better answer. The last page of that shows unsurprising murder rates by state. Maybe you’re reading the legend wrong? Two other sources for by state rates. Note that murder is down 20% in the past 5 years, after years of plateau.

      • Robert Wiblin

        Jordan is your point that I should take them to mean OECD suicides, not mean OECD firearm suicides? I tossed those two up and erred on the latter to be generous.

  • Jan

    It would have been helpful and instructive to include traffic deaths in the above discussion. While I don’t have data on the number of auto accidents caused by drivers of low skill and selfish drivers, it seems very likely those groups cause a significant fraction of the traffic deaths.

    Robin mentions how the war on terror has a low ROI, as a contrast, there are dangerous behaviors that are totally unregulated in traffic: Intentionally driving in the low demand line prior to a choke point (an acceptable calculated risk) hoping for an opportunity to change the last moment is totally unregulated. If the opportunity does not present itself in time, the “Righteous Man” will take it as a lost gamble, and reroute. However, it seems like a big fraction of drivers in that situation, will simply stop, causing a backup, and speed suddenly dropping from 55 mph to zero, both inconveniencing those behind, and causing an unavoidable risk of getting rear ended at highway speed.

    Enforcement against such dangerous behavior seems to be non existent, it does not compare to speed traps in dollars collected per officer hour expended.

    There are in fact lower hanging fruits than the guns in order to reduce risk, and it seems like gun control is really an issue of controlling and annoying ones political opponents, using a massacre as an excuse.

  • Dave92F1

    “This is wildly optimistic given … the timidity of any likely gun control laws under the Second Amendment.”
    Politics is the art of the possible.  Considering the US political situation and history, any change to the gun situation in the US is going to be small and at the margins. That’s not to say  modest reforms aren’t worth pursuing, but they won’t be more than minor tweaks.  Go find something else to campaign about.

  • http://profiles.google.com/philoscase R S

    All of the metrics you cite for life years lost to gun murders and to other causes are based upon a life expectancy limited by the diseases of aging. If it is even in the realm of possibility that the processes of aging are amenable to treatment then it should be the number one national issue. 

    Strangely, while advocates of action on climate change cite concerns about the welfare of people a century and more hence, people are incapable of evincing the same concern about the eventual fruits of anti-aging technology if they end up only benefiting their children or grandchildren.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       There is no technological barrier to the US enacting gun control tomorrow morning. What anti aging technology is actually available?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        Well, a lot, actually.  Let’s start with Stephen Badylak’s regenerative medicine…   More would be available without the tyrants at the FDA and DEA who claim first ownership of our bodies…

  • the_unloginable

    Your analysis assumes that suicides would either not occur or not be successful in the absence of firearms, otherwise your expected life-year savings would not materialize.  (It also assumes the same of murders, but that seems more justifiable.)

    • Robert Wiblin

      Yes I agree I’m particularly optimistic on that point. But the Australian experience suggests significantly fewer successful suicides after gun control legislation.

      • http://twitter.com/AlexeiSadeski Alexei Sadeski

        That seems a leap in logic… suicide by non gun method decreased quite a bit too. And suicide by gun had decreased by 50% in the ten years before the ban.

        http://www.gunsandcrime.org/suichisty.gif

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

         “Firearm suicides have fallen from about 22% of all suicides in 1992[26] to 7% of all suicides in 2005.[27]
        Immediately following the Buyback there was a fall in firearm suicides
        which was more than offset by a 10% increase in total suicides in 1997
        and 1998. There were concerted efforts in suicide prevention from this
        time and in subsequent years the total suicide rate resumed its decline.” –WP

      • Hugh Parsonage

        That supports Robert’s point. Both gun and non-gun suicides decreased after 1997.

      • Joeftansey

         So what Peter is saying is that banning firearms + “concentrated efforts in suicide prevention” = less suicides.

        Clearly, it’s the firearms.

      • Robert Wiblin

        “So what have the Australian laws actually done for homicide and suicide rates? Howard cites a study (pdf) by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University finding that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides. That provides strong circumstantial evidence for the law’s effectiveness….What is significant is the decline the laws caused in the firearm suicide rate, which Leigh and Neill estimate at a 74 percent reduction for a buyback of that size. This is even higher than the overall decline in the suicide rate, because the gun buybacks’ speed varied from state to state. In states with quick buybacks, the fall in the suicide rate far exceeded the fall in states with slower buybacks.”http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/02/did-gun-control-work-in-australia/

      • Doulgas Knight

        A picture is worth a thousand words.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        blame Canada

  • IMASBA

    I think we should also consider the damage done in Mexico with American-bought guns, yes, Brazil also has loose gun laws (but that country might be more likely to restrict them if America leads by example), but it’s America is the obvious place for Mexican cartels to get guns, because it’s closest but also because it’s entirely legal in states like Arizona. Besides, it’s not like congress’s is doing much else of importance: if they don’t address gun laws that time would not go to some other important topic, it would just go to waste and if stricter gun laws are passed the effects of them will add over the years: people living 1000 years from now will still profit from it. Finally, gun control like Obamacare may change American society into something more modern, something more competitive with other developed countries.

    • Sigivald

      The scary guns the Mexican drug cartels have mostly don’t come from the US.

      When they get their machineguns and grenades seized, those don’t come from the US – because you can’t just buy them at a gun store, even in Arizona.

      (There is some smuggling of ammunition, and of “common” arms like pistols. But those aren’t exactly terrifying, nor are they the backbone of the Cartel arsenals.)

      I also dispute the idea that “gun control now” provides benefits in 1000 years. Mainly because I dispute that more gun control provides benefits at all, but also because the 1000 year scenario requires that there be a legal ratchet; otherwise a loosening in 100 years undoes that “benefit”, does it not?

      • IMASBA

        “The scary guns the Mexican drug cartels have mostly don’t come from the US.”
        Your source’s argument is “well, we can’t all trace them back officially to the US, so they must be coming from somewhere else, never mind that it would not make any sense for the cartels to get these weapons elsewhere (the Asian and Eastern European manufacturers aren’t exactly around the corner and even Brazil isn’t exactly convenient) and nevermind that some US states, like Arizona do not require registration of the weapon or the purchase (the weapons can therefore be expected to not be traceable).

        “When they get their machineguns and grenades seized, those don’t come from the US – because you can’t just buy them at a gun store, even in Arizona.”

        Those are a tiny minority of their weapons and may still very well come from the US.

        “I also dispute the idea that “gun control now” provides benefits in 1000 years. Mainly because I dispute that more gun control provides benefits at all, but also because the 1000 year scenario requires that there be a legal ratchet; otherwise a loosening in 100 years undoes that “benefit”, does it not?”

        Sure, it could always be overturned, but a) that is unlikely since future Americans will probably appreciate the guns laws like the rest of the world does (just like Americans learned to live with equal rights for blacks and medicaid/medicare and are learning to live with equal rights for gay people) and b) my point was that you shouldn’t just take the benefits of one year into account: every subsequent year that the laws are in effect should also be counted, unless you really expect the laws to be repealed after only one year.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        Well, that and the fact that “gun control now” tends to produce democide.  Democide is worse than even the rape and murder in our “Land of the Free” cities of disarmed tax-serfs.  Chicago, LA, NYC, and other places where rape and murder victims aren’t allowed adequate tools of defense lead the nation in gun violence.  Wait …I thought prohibition worked.  I also thought everyone knew what “the law of unintended consequences” meant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

      [Finally, gun control like Obamacare may change American society into
      something more modern, something more competitive with other developed
      countries.]
      But because anyone who knows anything about history, economics, philosophy and logic knows better, we’re not going to try it.  You see, every democidal regime has first banned guns for non-incumbent power.  The result is mass murder on a scale you can’t even wrap your tiny mind around.  So yeah, …not gonna happen.

  • Curt Adams

    For saving human lives, there are certainly more efficient options because so much of the world is poor. But for saving American lives, I can’t think of a more cost-effective move than gun control (leaving aside the substantial political difficulties). There are certainly ways to improve health and welfare – less driving for less accidents, more walking for less diabetes, less sugar for less diabetes, free basic care for certain treatable conditions, food and water quality improvements, faster emergency response, etc. But they generally are either expensive or intrusive. Less driving and more walking, for example, is a distinct win – but we’d have to rebuild our living/shopping/working infrastructure and that would be phenomenally expensive. 

    Generally speaking, effective interventions will require either government regulation or redistribution and so they would be politically controversial as well. Gun control does seem to inspire a particularly fanatical opposition, but Obamacare and greenbelt restrictions take a lot of heat too.

    • Robert Wiblin

      Gun control is expensive in political capital due to the opposition. I am taking them as a given. Serious gun control is also very intrusive in the views of many.

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

         Funny how no one regards it as intrusive that dirving is highly regulated, or that they can’t casually buy poisons and explosives.

      • Sigivald

        You can casually buy an immense number of poisons – and it’s equally trivial to make any number of explosives (see T. McVeigh).

        People consider gun control “intrusive” because historically it’s been openly called a prelude to complete confiscation and bans, not mere “regulation”.

      • IMASBA

        Yes, it is strange and there are only a few countries on Earth where people feel that way and to top it off the US is probably the only country where people use “so we can fight a hypothetical tyrannical government” as an argument for gun ownership, in all the other countries people want to own gun to defend against violent gangs and militias and would happily give them up if these groups were eradicated.

      • IMASBA

        “You can casually buy an immense number of poisons – and it’s equally trivial to make any number of explosives (see T. McVeigh).”
        Buying poisons in large quantities will get you the attention of some agency (so you can kill a handful of people with them but you won’t get away with it), buying large amounts of ingredients for explosives is actually very hard (hence there only being the 18 year old example). In Norway Anders Breivik had to buy a farm and pretend to be a farmer for years before he could get the ingredients for his explosives. It’s really not as easy for a deranged loner to pull off.

      • Curt Adams

        Agree that there’s a lot of opposition to gun control; I’m just pointing out that there’s a lot of opposition to other ideas as well. I was mostly trying to suggest that the proper comparison would be to similar back-of-the-envelope comparisons to other strategies to improve life expectancies, like soda taxes, walking neighborhoods, diabetes treatment, and colon cancer screening.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        the US is probably the only country where people use “so we can fight a hypothetical tyrannical government” as an argument for gun ownership

        The extended frontier experience has made the U.S. a particularly violent country. The American belief that they need guns to defend themselves against the government responds to the fact that the U.S. government is more likely than most other governments in advanced countries to use arms against the people (even the Obama administration, with its drone strikes against citizens).

        Within the last century, Americans have used guns to defend themselves against government tyranny: from armed self-defense among Blacks in the 60s going back to the labor struggles at the beginning of the 19th century. For example, in 1914, 21 striking miners in Ludlow, Colorado were gunned down by state militia. But the Uniited Mine Workers had armed the union members, and for 10 days 1,000 armed workers fought back. One reason people aren’t so concerned about having guns in other advanced countries is that the police in those other places are less likely to massacre citizens.

      • IMASBA

        Srdiamond, you need to brush up on your history if you think the US is unique in using violence against minorities. I’m not aware of any civil rights movement (equal rights for blacks, LGBT rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights) in the US succeeding through violent means, it has never happened and never will happen because things only change when a majority of the population wants them to change and then it happens without gunfights. If you start a revolution that most people oppose you will be crushed, if most people do support it you may succeed because some of the military and police will switch sides (see Arab Spring). Gay marriage will not be instituted through violent means, even though there are more gay people than soldiers in the United States.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        IMASBA,   

        I’m not aware of any civil rights movement (equal rights for blacks, LGBT rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights) in the US succeeding through violent means, it has never happened and never will happen because things only change when a majority of the population wants them to change and then it happens without gunfights.

        To circumvent the limits of my historical knowledge, consider something I can remember. The Black urban riots did more to advance the cause of civil rights in the U.S. than all the peaceful marches. 

        Or, to approach the question from another angle, cognitive dissonance theory [see my "Uncomfortable ideas and disfluent expression affect us similarly" -- http://tinyurl.com/aekg393 ]  showed that people can be coerced to change their beliefs–they just don’t realize why their beliefs changed or even that they did.

        But I agree I probably overstated the American exceptionalism. Still, I’d wager that American cops are more brutal than elsewhere in the developed world.

      • Curt Adams

        I’m kind of curious about how the black urban riots (starting with Watts in 1965) helped pass the Civil Rights Act, which passed in 1964. Is there a way to use these time travel effects in other ways to benefit society?

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        The Civil Rights Act didn’t do squat for the real welfare of the vast majority of impoverished Blacks. The urban rights heralded the infusion of money into the inner city. Racism is institutionalized in American society: it doesn’t rest exclusively or even significantly on mere formal-legal restrictions. 

  • http://twitter.com/AlexeiSadeski Alexei Sadeski

    There are large parts of the US which already enjoy low murder rates, you know.

    Here’s a map:

    http://i.imgur.com/txJvAC2.jpg

    Would probably be cheaper, politically and fiscally, to get the violent parts of the US to be more like the peaceful parts of the US. Seems like it’d be a lot easier than trying to get both to be more like, say, Italy. 

    Of course, guns are legal in Italy too, but hey who cares right?

    • IMASBA

      Nearly all the American regions on that map are still more dangerous than an average Western European country. 

      “Of course, guns are legal in Italy too, but hey who cares right?”

      They are in many countries, even in Europe, the difference is their authorities wouldn’t buy some BS that you need an AK-47 to hunt or protect yourself against a burglar, they also require you to prove that you can actually use the gun and are not insane. In American even that is too much to ask: the NRA wants to sell as many guns as possible for their gun manufacturer sponsors, so they oppose mandatory training for gun owners: they know many gun owners would not pass, but they don’t care, they don’t have to deal with the violence, they live in secured gated communities. Like most organizations of their kind they don’t care what happens to the common man, as long as a small group of people gets richer.

      • http://twitter.com/AlexeiSadeski Alexei Sadeski

        If one is concerned about murderous lunatics, it seems quite bizarre indeed to want them to be well trained in the use of firearms. 

        High capacity pistol magazines are legal in Italy. Not in California nor New York. How strange.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        Only the murderous armed GOVERNMENT thugs in the USA can be trusted with scary “high capacity magazines” and machine guns (stop calling them assault rifles, idiots!).  Their slaves cannot be so trusted, as evidenced by Fast and Furious, and the Waco massacre, and the commonplace murder of mostly black and latino teenagers in the “Prohibition 2: The Revenge” inner cities.

      • Anonymous

        OOoooga booga scary assault rifles. Oooga booga evil NRA.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        Hmmm.  In the USA, the people who have been least responsible, least well-trained, and most callously murderous with their firearms are both (1) the police (Washington would have called them a “standing army” generally kill people like Donald Scott and Cory Maye, but Cory Maye was a little quicker on the draw) and (2) the ATF (several thousand deaths resulting from “Fast and Furious” although you brainless prohibitionists might not think they count, because they’re brown.  As well as 86 whites in Waco, and a nursing mother shot in the neck, and her son, in Idaho). So, you do want to disarm the ATF and the police, right?  Or could it be that you’re an authoritarian who believes the government should have absolute power to kill dissidents and the political opposition of the incumbent party?

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

    The analysis is oddly conventional for someone with your beliefs. You’re a great proponent of animal welfare, no? And the main argument you hear for gun rights extols the American culture of hunting animals for sport. What about the animals killed by guns? I would think you should jump at the opportunity to disarm these slayers of innocent beasts!

    Not that I want to advise you on how to pursue your misguided agendas. But the inconsistency is jarring.

    • Robert Wiblin

      I don’t believe any gun control policies being proposed would target hunting, so I did not consider effects on hunting.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        But this is just myopic (from your perspective)–unworthy of a student of Robin Hanson. Any further control of guns would help delegitimatize the U.S. hunting culture.Anyone who really cared about animals (as opposed to disdaining farmers and denigrating humanism) would see this.

      • Robert Wiblin

        I seems very unlikely that any gun control laws that could pass would ‘delegitimise’ game hunting. Furthermore, it is not clear that hunting wild animals lowers animal welfare overall.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        I seems very unlikely that any gun control laws that could pass would ‘delegitimise’ game hunting. Furthermore, it is not clear that hunting wild animals lowers animal welfare overall.

        It was somewhat demagogic of me to contrast your approach so starkly with Robin’s: Robin would probably analyze the issue in much the same “utilitarian” fashion–rendering a critique more important, despite my personal satisfaction that you approach this particular question so narrowly.

        Of course, any gun-control legislation goes toward delegitimizing the hunting culture. (Do you believe you understand the symbolic interests of that culture better than its participants, who oppose all gun control mainly because of its disparaging effect on hunting?)  You can see this through a straightforward Hansonian status analysis. Gun-toting hunters thrive on the status afforded by the 2nd Amendment, which makes their guns a symbol of patriotism. Gun control turns gun owners into seekers of special privilege rather than performers of patriotic duty.

        Whether hunting itself “harms” animal welfare directly is rather beside the point. Hunters are less like to have sympathy for the “plight” of livestock: they are unlikely to see infrahuman beasts as “beings,” except in the special case of their pets, particularly the hounds who help them hunt. If you want to cultivate “empathy” for animals, you would take a dim view of slaughtering them for sport.

        Utilitarianism as moral philosophy is pretty near vacuous. As psychology, it’s completely bogus. (I’d suggest reading Jonathan Haidt rather than David Deutch–certainly rather than Eliezer Yudkowsky!–on the psychology of morality!) Utilitarians capitalize on the doctrine’s (merely) formal rigor to endorse its completely spurious psychological implications. Utilitarians are masters of this bait and switch.

      • robertwiblin

        Given how lengthy and tenuous that causal chain is, I expect the impact of any likely gun control laws on general compassion towards animals to be very small. But I do agree if I believed it were large, I ought to try to factor it in.

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

    The right to commit suicide may be an undiscovered argument for the ready availability of guns. (Even from a utilitarian perspective, life is more pleasant if people know they can opt out, so that nothing worse than death can befall them.) [See my “Moralism: The State Bar, Capital Punishment, Euthanasia, and Suicide” — http://tinyurl.com/aubuplc 

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       Reallly? Would you want to right to suicide to be based on a causal urge, or would you want people  to go through extensive counselling
      first?

      • Sigivald

        My (imperfect) understanding about the modes of suicide is that people trying to do a “cry for help” deliberately don’t choose modes of action like firearms or hanging.

        Precisely because they’re almost always successful.

      • Douglas Knight

        Crying for help is probably an instinct, not a deliberate thought.

        Female nurses and doctors have the same high rate of attempts as the general female population, but they know what they’re doing and they die.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        The right to commit suicide is one place where I’m anextreme libertarian. It’s a little perplexing that in a forum with many libertarians, posters are so ready to restrict our right to kill ourselves, even casually.

        I can’t, in honesty, completely dismiss the paternalistic argument that people may want to be protected from themselves. But I’ve never heard someone other than a mental patient claim the need for such protection when it comes to dying. I’m not against involuntary hospitalization, but I can’t see restricting the rights of those who are mentally intact and want to die to protect the severely depressed from themselves. Sometimes, people only get up the courage to commit suicide on impulse. People are, it seems to me, entitled to their personal philosophies on when is the right time to die and how casually or seriously to treat the issue.

        Of course, society should afford better ways than putting a gun to one’s head–but we’re all realists, right?

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

        ” It’s a little perplexing that in a forum with many libertarians, posters are so ready to restrict our right to kill ourselves”

        It’s more than a little consternating that anyone would encourage casual suicide, when so many people who attempt suicide subsequently change their minds. If you see someone teetering on the precipice, do you give them a helpful push? Really?

        “…even casually”

        I don’t see how rights somehow get better when they are made casual. Do we need causal gay marriage? Surely the point of marriage is that it is a commitment.

        “But I’ve never heard someone other than a mental patient claim the need for such protection when it comes to dying.”

        Huh? Doesn’t retrospective gratitude for being rescued from a suicide attempt count?

        “I’m not against involuntary hospitalization, but I can’t see
        restricting the rights of those who are mentally intact and want to die
        to protect the severely depressed from themselves”

        I didn’t say I was. You can protect a right to die
        for those who are genuinely determined, sane, etc,
        whilst protecting the interests of those who are not in their right mind. You do that by allowing a right to
        die that is *not* causal. A la Dignitas.

        “Of course, society should afford better ways than putting a gun to one’s head”

        It could. It’s already happened. Dignitas.

        “We’re all realists..”

        I’m not sure about extreme libetarians…they seem to overestimate the extent that people are in charge of themseles at a any given point in
        time…if that were really true, there would be no
        need for traffic laws (etc etc etc).

        Like Reply

      • Hedonic Treader

        Peter David Jones seems to be under the impression that Dignitas is an organization that allows you to realize your right to die after counselling, but in reality, you also need a terminal disease in addition. If I need terminal cancer to have a right, it’s not exactly a right to begin with.

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

        @Headonic Treader
         The point of bringing in DIgnitas is not that is solves the Right to Die problem per se, but rather that it is a model that doesn’t have the disadvantages giving people access to guns (why not vodka and paracetemol while you are at it?)

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        It’s more than a little consternating that anyone would encourage casual suicide, when so many people who attempt suicide subsequently change their minds. If you see someone teetering on the precipice, do you give them a helpful push? Really?

        You respect their autonomy. 

        As to changing their minds, I think you’re confusing the cry for help phenomenon with suicide, and as other posters have demonstrated, cry for help has usually nothing to with guns. There are plenty of people who regret not having committed suicide when they had the nerve.

        Here’s what I think is the essence of the opposition to suicide rights, masquerading as paternalism and benevolence. We are prisoners of the theistic belief in hell as just punishment, and we resent that people should be allowed to avoid their just comeuppances in life by resort to the expedient of suicide.

      • VV

         @c8a614e88d7192ec025dbbf1bd724340:disqus
        Dignitas allow people with clinically diagnosed major depression to commit suicide.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        Of course, ironically, I have to demand the right to “kill” myself, so that I can actually save my life from being permanently thawed/murdered by the state.  This is why the libertarian legal concept of self-ownership is so vital, and why theocracy is still such a threat to civilization.  Read “The First Immortal” if you don’t get it.

      • Margin

        @f26939f398e5b2e21ea353b06370c426:disqus

        “We are prisoners of the theistic belief in hell as just punishment, and
        we resent that people should be allowed to avoid their just
        comeuppances in life by resort to the expedient of suicide.”

        It’s not just theism.

        It’s also the other religion.

        You are expected to worship The Tribe.

        If you refuse, The Tribe wants to hurt you.

        Severely.

  • Douglas Knight

    You don’t have to guess about the age of homicide and suicide deaths. You can look them up.

    In particular, less than half of US suicides in each of the age buckets up to the age of 55 are by firearms. From there it climbs to 3/4 of suicides of people aged 75-85. It won’t make a big difference to your numbers, since the modal suicide age is 50, but it is suggestive about substitution.

    • Douglas Knight

      A few comments on homicide rates, unrelated to this post. The firearm homicide rate is sharply peaked on the 20-25 bucket, with the adjacent buckets pretty big. Ignoring infants, who have a non-firearm homicide rate higher than the teenage firearm rate, the peak age for victims of non-guns is not at all sharp at all, but spread out 20-55. I find this very surprising.

    • Robert Wiblin

      Thanks Douglas!

    • Hedonic Treader

      I find it absurd to count access to suicide methods as a negative. It is a positive, because in the case of suicide, “life lost” means “unpleasant life-years that the person didn’t want to experience prevented”, i.e. “disutility reduced”, i.e. “utility increased”.

      You would have to prove that all of these people are systematically irrational in a way that top-down authoritarian overrides of their choices can overcome. I think this is an absurd assumption.

      • http://www.facebook.com/meaty Robby Bensinger

         In the U.S., most people who try and fail to commit suicide are later grateful that they failed.

      • Robert Wiblin

        This is my reason for counting suicides as a harm. People who commit suicide generally (though not always), do not place as much weight on their future welfare as I would. Or they incorrectly expect to remain unhappy forever.

      • Hedonic Treader

        Valid argument, but incomplete on two levels:

        1) It ignores symmetrical considerations in favor of the other direction: Maybe there’s a conflict of interest between the current self who doesn’t want to go through the unpleasant process of suicide, and the future selves who will experience a greater total of long-term medium unpleasantness if the current self doesn’t commit suicide. In this case, the non-suicidal unhappy person is akratic, and according to your logic, aggressive paternalists should use coercion to override his akrasia. For every grateful person who didn’t commit suicide, you could have two quietly suffering regretful people who would not want to repeat their past 5 experience-years. How do you know this is not true?

        2) It ignores conflicts of interests between all of the suicidal person’s selves on one side and completely different people on the other side: If a legislator believes in a religious commandment to omit suicide, but none of the different time-local selves of the suicidal person share this believe, then the total conflict of interest between the legislator-selves and the suicidal-person-selves is much greater than the intertemporal conflict of interest between the suicidal-person-selves alone!

        In addition, remember we will all die even if suicide is forbidden. Everybody dies. To defend a blanket prohibition of suicide and euthanasia, you would need to prove that this entropic process is strictly superior than a controlled process of chosen demise, which is clearly absurd.

    • stevesailer

      It’s not uncommon for old men dying painfully of disease to shoot themselves and leave it to their womenfolk to clean up the mess.

  • Sigivald

    My interpretation of the above is that gun violence is a serious issue in the US.

    The other problem is that the analysis doesn’t include non-violent (or justifiably-violent) uses of firearms – most defensive use of arms [bracketing the debate over how much of that there is] doesn’t involve shooting anyone, let alone killing them.

    Unlike disease and death-by-accident, there’s an upside to arms possession by the non-criminal.

    One can debate how much of an upside, and how much it’s worth, but it is present, in marked contrast to disease and famine and accident reduction.

    (Minor quibble: What’s a “dangerous weapon”? Can it be distinguished from a “useful defensive tool”? And is there a “non-dangerous weapon”?)

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       “Unlike disease and death-by-accident, there’s an upside to arms possession by the non-criminal”

      Which is what? It certainly doens’t consist of  a low firearm homicide rate by international standards. IF you are facing an armed criminal THEN you might be better off armed … but in a nation with effective gun control, you are much less likely to face an armed criminal in the first place.

      • IMASBA

        Indeed. Besides, coming across criminals with guns is pretty rare, even today and even in the US (unless you’re in a gang or running a jewelry store in Compton). Burglars are smart: they don’t want to get into a fight with you. They try to target buildings where no one is at home, if there are people asleep they work quietly, if they get caught they run. They don’t want to get caught and in Europe they certainly don’t want to get caught carrying a firearm.

        But then again, Americans don’t have guns to defend against criminals, they have guns because they like to cling to the fantasy of one day fighting a tyrannical government, destroying tanks and gunships with their semi-automatic that they barely know how to fire.

      • Anonymous

        If you try to confiscate guns, you’ll find it will be far more than a fantasy, and that semi-automatics are more than enough to overthrow a government.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        You know not of what you write.

      • Canadian

        Just like gun free zones prevent criminals from getting in and using a gun to kill every last defenseless person in there…..

        cough mexico cough

  • Joshua Fox

    > “Based on Robin’s work in the inefficacy of much US healthcare 
    spending, redirecting some of that enormous budget to truly life-saving activities would go a long way.”

    Actually, Robin has said that we don’t know how to efficiently redirect health spending.

    As for suicide: It is not clear that controlling guns reduces suicide, in contrast to murder.

    As to other costs of gun deaths, you say:
    > “Loss of human capital from adults dying
    > Resulting distress and fear”

    But note also, that people fear purposeful human attack more than accidental  death. So, guns are scarier than disease, even adjusting for  number of people killed.

    • Robert Wiblin

      “Actually, Robin has said that we don’t know how to efficiently redirect health spending.”

      Given other countries do much better at prioritisation, I don’t agree with him on that, But even then we needn’t spend the money on healthcare (as opposed to other safety measures).
      “As for suicide: It is not clear that controlling guns reduces suicide, in contrast to murder.”
      It seems like it did in Australia.

      Agree murder is scarier.

    • Carl Shulman

      Actually health care seems to have been extremely effective in reducing gunshot deaths:

      http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/12/16/gunshots_are_up_but_murder_is_down_thanks_to_better_health_care.html

  • Email

    You show that gun control has little upside. You do not, however, show that gun rights have little upside. You don’t bound Utility(2nd Amendment) at all.

    • Robert Wiblin

      I don’t intend to. The point is just that gun control is hard to do and there will be a big fight. Even if the opponents are wrong and gun control is desirable, their existence is a given. There is only so much reform that is possible.

      • Email

         You’re begging the question by assuming that “reform” has to be pro-control. Liberalisation can be reform, too. Though this would be even more politically difficult, you don’t show it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

  • Radford Neal

    When looking at the number of lives saved by gun control, you need to look at the net number, after subtracting the number of people killed by government agents enforcing gun control laws.

    The correction may not be too significant when looking at the totals, but it will be if you’re for some reason focusing on rare massacres.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

      Yeah, they are kind of murderous, aren’t they? I noticed that, too.

  • Tony

    What makes anyone think that gun control laws would have any effect on all the millions and millions of firearms already out and about?

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       I’m not sure anyone has assumed they can be made to vanish by magic.The Asutralian Buybakc scheme has been mentioned.

    • Curt Adams

      The primary problem with guns is that they are readily available when homicidal or suicidal impulses arise among the general population. Even if laws only force guns to be hidden or sequestered that means they are less available and will reduce the carnage. It will greatly help the dynamics if people need to hide guns from estranged spouses rather than brandishing them.

    • Robert Wiblin

      I doubt they will make much difference in the short run, hence the numbers I’ve offered are an upper bound.

    • Mickey_disqus

       Presumably some of the millions and millions of firearms already out and about have known owners. If the guns are rendered illegal to own, some of these known owners will surrender their firearms.

      That’s what makes us think that gun laws would have an effect on some of the millions and millions of firearms already out and about.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        [If the guns are rendered illegal to own, some of these known owners will surrender their firearms.]
        Like 1928 Germany’s Jews did, and Stalin’s democided Ukrainians did, and Mao’s…
        I’ll stop listing them, and just list the end number. It’s a nice large number that’s easy for irrational people to ignore (with glazed eyes): 170,000,000+.  That’s how many innocent people were murdered by becoming demonstrably inferior in power to the stormtroopers of their government.

        We had a DEA, ATF, and IRS before 2001.  Now we have a DHS.  WTF???!!!!  Department of Homeland Security?  What’s next?  Sturm-abteilung?  Volks-Guard?  They pop up like mushrooms after a rain.

  • http://invariant.org/ Peter Gerdes

    I’ve always found it quite weird that people use lost life years as a metric for harm.

    Do you really believe the world would be twice as good if we had a lifespan of 160 rather than 80?  Would aliens whose lifespan was 40 years rather than 80 years be obviously must worse off than we are?

    Seems to me that we should take the idea of utility seriously and equate the harm of someone’s death to be their average level of happiness multiplied by the number of expected life years plus any external effects.  Now, unless we believe that we have a moral duty to radically increase population (because the externalities of someone’s existence are much less than their expected happiness) then we can’t regard the mere loss of potential life years as a great harm.

    If we take this view seriously and believe that murdering depressed people is wrong then we are forced to the position that the largest effect on utility from someone’s death is the external effect on family and friends.  If this is true it might be that gun violence is substantially more harmful than other kinds of deaths because it creates more anger and unhappiness.

    • Hedonic Treader

      because the externalities of someone’s existence are much less than their expected happiness
      This is far from clear, especially if you consider the opportunity costs of any utilitarian project (including charity and high-leverage research projects) that could use the resources more efficiently than by creating more babies.

      If we take this view seriously and believe that murdering depressed
      people is wrong then we are forced to the position that the largest
      effect on utility from someone’s death is the external effect on family
      and friends.

      Murder is a special case because it has a game-theoretic component: The primary disutility from tolerating murder is not life-years lost, but the broad erosive effects on the general level of trust in society.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

        [The primary disutility from tolerating murder is not life-years lost,
        but the broad erosive effects on the general level of trust in society.]
        Tolerating murder sucks.  …Yeah, like in that video, “The Cannibal Warlords of Liberia.”  Man, this conversation is getting far afield of common sense.  I mean, you’re right, it just kind of sucks that you need to explain that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       Lifespans wre about 40 in the stone age and more like 80 now. Most people think that;s a good thing.

  • JW Ogden

    So what would be better to work on gun control or good cheap always available defense against guns?

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       Which would be what?

  • Daniel Carrier

    “Another even larger problem than murder – at least as far as years of healthy life lost – is suicide.”

    Considering that they’re committing suicide, it seems likely that their life has negative value. This should be an argument against gun control.

  • R0ck3t3r

    I believe a better method of accounting for “years of life lost” would account for those years in a TVM method where future years are discounted at some rate. Does anyone know of such a system?

  • Mike

    Hello Robert,

    Here is another post that may be of interest to you: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-riddle-of-the-gun

    I would also like to point something out that I find odd/disturbing. Republicans are by and large against gun control of any kind. Many are endorsed by the NRA. However those same Republicans are vehemently anti-abortion. The disparate nature of their opinions regarding the sanctity of life make me believe this is a strong political issue and not a safety issue.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       An obvious answer to that is that republican thought is about innocence versus guilt, not about life versus death.

      • Mike

        Thanks for the insight, I have never heard anyone frame it quite like that. If that is the case though, are the victims of movie theater shootings not innocent?

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        If that is the case though, are the victims of movie theater shootings not innocent?

        The font of knowledge for the moralistic bases for political differences between (Managerialist) liberals and (Demagogist) conservatives [ http://tinyurl.com/6pt9eq5 ] is Jonathan Haidt. Liberals no doubt respond to the shooting almost entirely in terms of the care-harm ethic. Conservatives have a weaker care-harm ethic, but I don’t think the shootings fail to trouble them. But the liberty-oppression framework in which gun rights are viewed is stronger. 

        That leaves the question of why anti-abortionism can be strong among conservatives: it seems (at first sight)  to rest on care-harm, although Haidt doesn’t discuss it (a somewhat odd omission, I think). My guess is that conservatives reject abortion primarily for religious reasons, and religious belief rests primarily on a different ethical axis: authority-submission (on the last Haidt would agree).

        It’s easy to overstate the sway of care-harm when dealing with ethics. Care-harm owes its origin in biological evolution to the succor parents provide their children, and it isn’t easy to extend this ethic to entities that don’t automatically elicit the responses due children or at least others who are noticeably human. Livestock rights activists would like us to think they operate from care-harm, but it’s hard to care about caring about animals bred without regard to their appearance, such as hogs and chicken. It’s also hard to feel genuine care-harm empathy for fetuses  particularly when before they look like anything lovable, and even after they do, they’re not publicly visible. While anti-abortionism rests primarily, I think, on authority-submission, livestock rights (it seems to me very tentatively) rests on liberty-oppression rather than care-harm.

        Incidentally, it’s been claimed by some posters that all charitable giving involves (in essence) care-harm signaling. I think that’s wrong. In addition to some causes signaling submission to authority, such as anti-abortionism, doomsday cultists seem to be involved with yet another moralistic strain: loyalty-betrayal. They are the ones truly loyal to the group (humanity).

        Read Haidt. ( http://tinyurl.com/bh5jdvr ) My reinterpretation of Haidt’s insights in terms of my habit theory of morality is at “A habit theory of civic morality” ( http://tinyurl.com/6uqusqc ) and “The practical basis of mass ideologies: Construal-level theory of ideologies meets habit theory of civic morality” ( http://tinyurl.com/6uqusqc )

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        Here’s the succinct answer. (Disregard anything before that contradicts.):

        The conservative ethic grounding opposition to abortion comes from the sacred-profane axis rather than the harm-care axis. It is based not on an empathic feeling for the fetus, at least not primarily, but on a moral principle that “Human life is sacred.” (Same holds for beastly rights, with the sacredness of sentient life replacing the sanctity of human life, insofar as it isn’t just “I’m not a psychopath” type signalling.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

         Yes. The guilt is on the shooter — not, as any NRA type will tell you, the gun. Liberals want to save lives, conservatives want to assign blame.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ srdiamond

        Liberals want to save lives, conservatives want to assign blame.

        And let there be no question that you’re a liberal! But no. Liberals (and those further left like me) want to assign blame for the war crimes of the Bush administration (in some cases the Obama administration too). And conservatives want to save lives: by instituting harsher  punishments. (They would say that liberals don’t care about saving lives when they oppose harsher sentences–for example, capital punishment.

        The way the moralistic difference between liberals and conservatives plays out in the shootings is that liberals want to save lives by limiting liberty and conservatives want to save lives by strengthening authority.

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

         US conservatives have arleady got harsher punishments, by Western standards, and they’ve got more murder too. They don’t seem to care about that.

  • stevesailer

    “If the typical suicide victim would have lived another 45 healthy years,”

    Nah, a lot of gun suicides are terminally ill old men with a few months to live. This isn’t widely known because it’s not usually mentioned in obituaries.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jake.witmer Jake Witmer

      Also, why are we even discussing this in a gun rights thread?  It’s irrelevant.  The guy who wants to kill himself has a right to own a gun, so long as he doesn’t get brains on the drapes.  (Seriously, the heroin would be a lot less costly in terms of pain and cleanup, and you could even make it look like you wanted to continue living around all the boring, uneducated, pretentious, socialist, mongoloid American submitizens you’re surrounded by.)  Besides, his right to off himself is compatible to some extent with his right to own a firearm.  Especially if he does it outside, and/or standing directly next to a really annoying anti-gun politician.  Also: suicides don’t count because the gun was both used as intended by the purchaser, and because the intentional (non-cry-for-help) suicides have other viable alternatives, assuming they have an IQ over 50.  You can’t ban tall buildings and cliffs, nor can you ban heroin or alcohol (effectively).

  • roberts707

    The one thing they didn’t give stats for is how many were accidental shootings vs how many were honest citizens defending their home?  yesterday an 8 year old boy was upstairs unsupervised and found a gun in a bottom drawer fired it into the floor and hit someone downstairs in the head. It’s true criminals will not pay attention to the law but most of their guns were stolen from honest citizens or bought from a private party. I don’t want your guns if you are sane I just want you to be responsible with them and keep them locked up and put a trigger guard on them if you have kids at home.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

      “I keep it unlocked and loaded so I can see off intruders”

      “Whats the disutility of being robed against the disutility of your kid killing themself?”.

  • Dave

    The huge cultural and experiential differences  between the partisans in both issues is important. Gun control advocates and vegans tend to be urban. Everything they know about guns and killing animals is on paper,or comes wrapped in cellophane from the grocery store. Reality testing is reduced because it is unmodified by actual experience.

    They have seldom even experienced hunger or poverty. Everything they know comes from extreme examples and statistical factoids.

     Here is a small example of how guns and animal welfare could be related:
    I went to the site of a deer hunt and there were 12 dead deer. All would be used for meat. Everyone had guns and there were dogs and children everywhere. A man pointed out several large bucks. He showed me how their teeth were worn down and said they were losing weight. Would they have starved that winter?  What solution to this kind of  suffering would you suggest? If you don’t know about it does it not exist?
     

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterdjones63 Peter David Jones

       But most gun control advocates don’t want to take guns away from farmers,etc.

  • Paul Torek

    A good article, but a better rough estimate of the effectiveness of tight gun control measures could be derived from Australia’s experience.  Drawing crude moving-average type curve fits pre- and post-law change shows maybe a 30% drop in gun related deaths.  http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/gun-deaths-in-rapid-decline-since-buyback/2006/12/13/1165685752421.html

  • Robert Koslover

    I find Bill Whittle’s arguments made at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T-F_zfoDqI&feature=youtu. to be extremely persuasive.

  • Carolyn Holland

    I’m concerned about an incidental (and likely unwanted) possession of firearms and ammunition—it’s an issue I haven’t seen discussed anywhere: An Undiscussed Gun Issue: Disposing of Guns from an Estate (http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/an-undiscussed-gun-issue-disposing-of-guns-from-an-estate/

  • CAnadian

    all these gun deaths include criminals shot by cops and moms defending their children vs bad guys that would otherwise kill them, for example…

    and even with that the author notes they are better off spending money going after diseases or accidents not related to “gun control”

    a good read either way