Gun Control – I Told You So

Believe it or not, I find absolutely no glee in issuing one “I told you so” after another on the abysmal failure of the Obama presidency. I’m a very patriotic guy and I desperately want our country to succeed in all realms – social, economic, foreign policy, domestic law enforcement, etc. But, that doesn’t change the need to occasionally point out when I get it right.

After the horrible tragedy in Newtown, CT where 20 innocent children died, I wrote a blog wherein I extended an open hand to liberals to find a path to better and more relevant gun laws that might have an impact on gun violence. I followed that up with a second blog with some interesting data on gun violence and challenged liberals to approach the problem of gun violence and gun laws with data-driven analytics, not the emotion they bring to most policy debates. Unfortunately, I predicted they would not do that. I predicted they would follow their usual pattern of hysteria and, if they did, I predicted we would get nowhere.

Sadly, I was correct. President Obama used the Newtown tragedy to go for the usual far left policy on gun control. He threw in the kitchen sink. He made no attempt whatsoever to meet conservatives, like me, who want better gun laws, in the middle with sensible data-driven legislation. He just went for the full monty. He wasn’t even able to get his own party to support it. So, for now anyway, it appears that efforts to improve gun laws have failed. As is his habit every time he does something stupid, Obama blamed others – in this case the republicans (with no mention of the democrats who also voted against it). But, in this case, liberals have nobody to blame but themselves. I gave them a roadmap to work with us on gun control. They ignored my advice and reverted to the emotional left.

I told you so.

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About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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16 Responses to Gun Control – I Told You So

  1. It’s kind of weird that the Congress ignored your advice.

    Anyway, I am charmed by the thought that the Republicans in Congress are open to any plan brought to them by Democrats under the right conditions of data-drivenness. In fact, right now I am enjoying the fiction that elected Republicans will have any openness whatsoever to absolutely anything suggested by Democrats. Sadly, there hasn’t been much sign of cooperation. As I mentioned to you off-blog, there is absolutely no dialog between the two sides.

    It seems to me that the data you are looking for might not exist. For example, if I were to offer a case where a city toughened its gun laws and crime went down, you could respond that crime was going down anyway, and besides, cities are not the same as the whole country. We have never tried gun control at the national level – we don’t have data at the level you seem to need.

    To the left, it makes sense that certain kinds of firearms are used only for mass destruction and should not be available to John Q. Public. The fact that they have never been prohibited before means there is no data on this point. There is no data on whether legalization of nuclear weaponry and sharing of bomb designs on the internet will lead to nuclear proliferation. But we prohibit it because common sense tells you it is dangerous to let dangerous people get ahold of this technology. If you are not permitting common sense to enter into the discussion, we’re all in trouble.

    • Actually, we have tried fairly draconian gun laws and none of them has worked.

      Maybe the data are not fully developed, as you suggest. But, what’s clear is that Obama did what liberals always do – he reached for the far left stars instead of trying to find a middle ground that we can all live with. Data or no data. He would much rather go for the far left agenda and fail than ever find a way to work together. Sad.

  2. bvanatta says:

    I’m not sure stronger gun laws will actually help. Without enforcement of what is already there what’s the purpose of creating more laws that will just be broken. While it would be great to have better checks to find out it someone has mental health issues and limit there ability to purchase a gun – I don’t think that is possible – where do you draw the line?

  3. Kathy says:

    Daniel, are you saying that there has been no gun control legislation attempted and therefore we have no basis to assess its success or failure?

    • Oh, hello Kathy! No, that’s not what I’m saying. Since you are a reader of Bruce’s blog, you know that he is quite intelligent. Our world is an extremely complicated place. Events are open to huge numbers of interpretations. I think Bruce could argue that the sky is not blue (here in Wisconsin, he’d be right, since it’s still snowing). For example, we could discuss Chicago, where there is gun control and an increasing crime rate. I’m guessing Bruce would point to this as a failure of gun control. I might argue that gun control is often enacted at times of desperation, such as when violence is spiraling out of control. You don’t get an immediate reduction in crime when the law is enacted – indeed, you can expect the crime level to keep going up. That is just one example of how the concept of “data-driven” can be misleading. Gun control can appear not to “work” in such a situation.

      I used to live in New York City. When I moved there in the 80s, crime was pretty bad. But it started to take a nose dive in the 90s. Some say this was because of more beat cops on the street. Some say the crack epidemic had crested and was receding. Some say it was the “broken windows” theory. There is even an argument that the passage of Roe v. Wade some 20 years earlier was responsible. Some might argue that, because the ebbing crime was not accompanied by new gun laws, we see that other factors are more important. The point I am making is that there are many interpretations of data.

      We have not tried a national gun law. There have been some local laws restricting gun use, but teasing their effectiveness out from huge masses of data is not only difficult, but very susceptible to political bias. Indeed, while I was writing this, Bruce posted the comment that “we have tried fairly draconian gun laws and none of them has worked.” That is a very definitive statement, and I’m sure one can find data to support it, but such an interpretation is in no way conclusive or the last word on the subject. In the absence of the trial-and-error process of a federal gun law, there simply will not be any data on whose interpretation we will agree. Even then, we won’t agree.

      This is why I make the point I made about common sense. Now, I recognize that gun control will not stop loony people bent on killing from getting a gun. I understand that we need to enforce the laws we have to a greater extent. But isn’t there some common sense, just to take a first step, in closing the gun show loophole? If we make getting a gun a little harder, we may stop some people from getting a gun. If we make it a lot harder, we may stop more crazies from getting a gun. I think this is common sense.

      I know that Bruce is concerned about unintended consequences. I have yet to be convinced about what the unintended consequences of gun control (for these military-grade weapons) would be. And, when we are talking about unintended consequences, there’s not a whole lot of data available, because we haven’t tried to close these loopholes.

  4. Kathy says:

    Oh Hi, Daniel, I didn’t notice your response/post and should have checked back sooner.

    I can empathize with your lack of sunshine in Wisconsin as I sit here on this rather gloomy day in Iowa and we are having SNOW. Yes. Six inches. May 2. Mmmmhmmmm.

    So I’m always a little cynical when people talk about global warming, for example, when we have been cooling for the past 10 years, but … I digress.

    And yet, it is a similar issue we are discussing here, because there is a story that is being told. We are told to believe that global warming is a fact and that we are causing it and that is being used as a justification to tax our carbon or other unacceptable energy use. Today’s story is that the existence of guns = violence. Therefore, if we can do away with the guns, the violence is also gone. We use Newtown and Aurora as emotional examples of our position. We used the global warming hysteria as emotional examples of our need to shut down oil production (and thus continue using Middle Eastern oil supplies). Oh again! I digress. Sort of.

    We absolutely cannot have another Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Columbine or … Paduca … The World Trade Center and Boston bombings, on and on. Why are these things happening. Is it the guns? Would gun laws eliminate these violent events? The media is in my face every day demanding that I run to my Congressman and Senator and immediately insist upon stricter gun legislation. In the meantime, because I’m a little cynical (I won’t apologize), I do a little research on the side and find out that our own government is buying up ammunition like it’s the end of the world. Why? I thought (and sorry, I’ll digress here a moment again!) that we had a sequestration emergency and that we had no funds available (or at least no funds available for the FAA Air Traffic Controller jobs). It’s all about politics.

    Fine.

    Let’s look at the local efforts – sure, let’s look at Chicago. Okay, let’s not. I was there, yes, for the past three years, I lived and worked there and had the chance to witness (news) firsthand the extraordinary violence befalling our schoolchildren in that Chicago. I guess if you’ve researched this issue, then you know that there are tough gun laws in Chicago. So why hasn’t the violence stopped? What is the source of the violence? Is it the gun, is it the person?

    • Global warming: not sure where you get your information that is has been cooling for the past ten years (though it certainly has here for the past few days). Even many scientists who were vehement opponents of the global warming hypothesis have now swung around. Most of the people who think we are not having human-caused global warming come from the political realm. Very few scientists are in doubt. I am friends with a meteorologist here at UW who studies temperature and climate. Temperatures are definitely going up where he is measuring, and he is certainly not alone – this is being seen around the globe. My only other point here is that, if the scientists are right and the others are wrong, we will pay a heavy price. If the scientists are wrong and the others are right, but we cut our emissions anyway, that is still a good thing. Have you ever been to Mexico City? The place stinks of exhaust. If scientists discover that it is totally fine to breathe in exhaust, I’ll still be happy that I live in a place that doesn’t stink. I find it rash for us to keep on polluting to such a high extent now.

      Guns: I agree that in the aftermath of Newtown and Aurora the push for gun control is largely an emotional response. There are many more murders of innocent people on the streets than mass murder victims, and in the case of many of the mass murders, the guns were acquired legally. We have, of course, tried an experiment with zero gun regulation. I’m referring to the wild west. In the pioneer era, everyone had a gun and order was kept, to a degree, but it was largely kept out of fear: anyone could have a gun, so you didn’t mess around with anyone. That’s not the kind of society I want to live in.

      Right now, we have a system that makes it quite easy to buy a gun legally, which means LOTS of people can be armed. I don’t, however, detect a trend of citizens with their guns preventing or stopping crime. Yes, it happens, and you can point to the rape victim who pulls a gun out of her purse and blows away her assailant, but these big mass murder crimes that keep happening are NOT being stopped by “a good guy with a gun.”

      As for Chicago, the place is awash with guns. It takes a long time for gun laws to begin to have an effect.

      • Dan, I have to jump in on the global warming piece. She is correct that temperatures have been steadily declining. This is why liberals switched from “global warming” to “climate change.” Your statement that “very few scientists are in doubt” is (you know what word is coming) preposterous. The liberal scientists who control the agenda have all agreed. But, that’s like saying “all chocolate ice cream lovers have agreed that chocolate ice cream is awesome.” If the vanilla ice cream lovers never get interviewed, you might believe that there’s unanimity that chocolate is best. And, I’m not just talking about the liberal mass media, though they are clearly complicity. I’m talking about the “scientific literature.” Go read the East Anglia e-mails. There was a 20-year effort to close ranks and keep all dissenting views out of the “scientific literature.” I use quotation marks b/c, of course, there is no science here. Science is developed by open discourse and fairly peer-reviewed journal articles. When you have editors emailing other editors saying, “let’s you and I agree not to publish Smith’s work” you cease to have science. You just have one group using a journal to express their opinions. As I’ve written before, the fact that warming alarmists, sorry, climate change alarmists, use the phrase “a majority of scientists agree” is proof-positive that nothing is settled. Can you imagine someone writing “a majority of scientists agree that E=mc^2.” No way. That was proven with data. the alarmists “proved” their theories with intimidation.

        Now, what about the notion of “why not?” Suppose Kathy and I are wrong and humans really are impacting climate in a negative and irreversible way? You argue that we’ll all be screwed if we do nothing. And, you further argue that there’s no downside whatsoever to cutting emissions, etc. through draconian measures. So, why not just do it? Well, the answer is that the so-called green energy policies have a huge impact on the economy and, as you probably noticed, the global economy is in the shitter. So, enacting massive environmental reform would put a huge drag on the economy at exactly the wrong time. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take based on a bunch of hocus pocus pseudo-science that’s never really been peer reviewed. Did you read “Liberal Hypocrisy, Part IV” yesterday? This is a classic example. Your approach will disproportionally crush the lower and middle classes, for whom the monthly electric bill is a very high percentage of family costs. Let me be blunt. I have no clue what my monthly electric bill is. If it doubled, I would never know it. The power company gets directly paid from my checking account. But, a family of 4 living on $60K will be crushed by a doubling of their energy costs. So, again, the conservatives in this country are looking out for the little guy and the liberals are trying to crush them with added costs. And, all based on very uncertain data.

        As I’ve said before, I live on the same planet (literally, clearly not figuratively) that you do. I have every bit as much motivation as you do to keep it clean and safe. But, we have to do it in a way that is thoughtful and data-driven and respects the needs of all people, not just the wealthy greenies in Palo Alto. We’ve never tried that.

  5. R says:

    First off, I’ve never done this blogginess thingy. Never felt the calling. Don’t do Twittery either. Don’t even do bumper stickers to try and influence others. Have always been a firm believer in “Ya can’t fix stupid”. But, since I live with the lady above who “digresses” a lot, I thought, what the hell, I have some time to fritter. So, here’s how I see things…
    Once upon a time there was a huge beautiful field, with wonderful grass and fertile soil.
    One day, some people found the field. They marveled the greatness and natural splendor of the field, took long walks, picnics and leisurely naps in the tall grass.
    More people began to discovery the field and they too enjoyed its beauty.
    One day, a number of people said, “We can make this field even better. We can plant flowers and vegetation and trees.” So, they did. And the field became radiant with color and fragrance unimaginable, a true paradise. Everyone believed that everyone else was a good steward of the field , would not take the field for granted and it would be maintained and protected.
    Then one day, a subset of the people said, “Hey, we want to plant thistles. Thistles are plants, too, and they can have pretty colors, as well.”
    So, the collective reluctantly agreed. But, the thistles would be limited to the back part of the field, so little children and wondering Alzheimers patients wouldn’t get punctured. The subset concurred.
    As time went by other subsets emerged, each wanting to plant something that wasn’t necessarily beneficial or attractive to the entire collective (sumac, elderberry bushes, poison ivy, marijuana, etc.), but arguing their position of entitlement. After all, it was a damn big field and they had a right!
    So, eventually, much of the field became over grown with unpleasantness.
    The majority of the people still believed in the beauty of the field and had faith that, somehow they could change the minds of the subsets, and someday convince them to help revive the original beauty of the field.
    Then, one day, a subset argued, “The field is huge, and the walk from our section to the field exit is long, and we need to piss.”
    So, the majority reluctantly agree. But, the pissing will be allowed in only one place. The subset vehemently disagreed, “We have the right to piss wherever we want!”
    And, thus, it did happen.
    Then, another subset argued, “The other subsets have been allowed to piss wherever they want. So, we should be allowed to shit wherever WE want!”
    And, thus, it did happen.
    Years went by. The once beautiful field had been reduced to just a few areas of flowers. Thistles, elderberry bushes, poison ivy and weed covered the land.
    Then one day, a subset raged, “All the people that have those beautiful flower patches should pay for our birth control, remove the borders of the field and give up the right to own Round-Up sprayers!”
    And they replied, “Fuck that!”

  6. Kathy says:

    Okay.
    Here’s an article from today that sums up rather nicely what I would have said in fewer words if I had that gift. Please read – it cites Chicago, Cuba, Sweden, Switzerland … compares and contrasts those with and without strict gun control laws.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/347263/dishonest-gun-control-debate

    And of course points out what may not be obvious: The argument itself is a political distraction, meant to change the subject and find a villain with an intention to prevent the reader or television watcher from seeing what’s happening over there in Ring Number One (schoolchildren in Chicago getting killed EVERY DAY) among strict gun control legislation).

    • I very much enjoyed reading that article. I come into contact with very few conservatives (my cousin Bruce is one of the few I know), so this is a fascinating discussion we’re having. The author makes some undoubtedly good points about lots of gun violence being related to suicide. I don’t know if he is right or wrong, but I think guns are in fact frequently used in suicide. Whether having those guns available for this purpose is or isn’t a good thing is something we can all think about.

      Two points in the article got my dander up (actually, way more than two, but I’ll mention two). First, and I quote, “The unspoken endgame is having the entire country adapt Illinois’s gun laws. But it is very likely that if the country did so, Chicago would still be Chicago, with all that goes along with that. Chicago has lots of non-gun murders, too.” For me this is the SPOKEN endgame. This is precisely what I want – federal gun regulation. Yes, Chicago will still have murders, and it will still have gun murders (the guns that are there now will not evaporate the day the bill is signed.” But there will be less gun violence. We have lots of laws – probably most of them – that aren’t enforceable. Why have a speed limit – people are going to speed anyway. Well, we have decided that a speed limit will keep most people from speeding and from speeding too egregiously. We’ll still have road deaths, but fewer. We give up the right to drive as fast as we please in order to make our roads safer.

      Second, when he’s talking about cities like Detroit and Philadelphia, and comparing them to San Diego, I find him incredibly unpersuasive. Detroit is a city that blossomed with the auto industry, and suffered from terrible white flight, and has been decimated by a weak economy (I know, that’s a whole different discussion). Philadelphia is a cramped, very old city with a creaking infrastructure and age-old problems. San Diego is a completely different kind of place, with a pile of money and, incidentally, plenty of issues. The author admits that things have gotten much better in Philly and Detroit and even NY. He tries to take credit for republicans in NY while dissing the mayor as not being a true republican. None of this makes any sense. It’s impossible to tease one factor out as being responsible for the overall vibe of a city. Not convincing to me.

      • Dan, on what conceivable basis can you make a statement like, if we have federal gun laws, “…there will be less gun violence.” Not only do you have no data to back that up, the data I have supplied in my prior posts from the state level are in direct contravention to your statement. It’s also nice to want things, but we have this little thing called a constitution that was put in place because the dudes who got this place started really didn’t want a federal government telling us what we can and can’t do. Many of us still believe in that approach, whether it’s guns, education, or something esle.

  7. Kathy says:

    Daniel, I can tell that you have read the fascinating book “Freakonomics” as you seem to be referring to the authors’ conclusions that Roe v Wade caused a high proportion of black babies to be aborted and thus ultimately fewer crimes were committed (rather than the “broken windows” theory for the drop in crimes). This sad conclusion, if true, that a higher proportion of black babies are being aborted, should be considered tragic – certainly more than just an “unintended consequence.” Laws and court decisions DO have consequences – often unintended.

    So. Wouldn’t it make sense to think through decisions and possible implications, including whether or not laws will be enforced, before implementation?

    Back to guns (and you might want to re-read Freakonomics about true causes of crime and whether guns are more dangerous than, say, swimming pools …). And here is an article which cites the existing Federal statutes which are already on the books (you say you that the law has to pass first before we see what the consequences are). Well the laws have been passed.

    But really? Why do we need to wait to pass the bill or write the law and THEN see what happens? Why not think through those intended and unintended consequences. Well, I can think of a reason not to do that: good Chicago style politics tell us to never let a good crises go to waste = use every crises to make a political ruckus (aka distraction). Create an argument out of straw men and create a person or group to blame. Then sit back, let the media do the rest of the work, and then laugh all the way through to the winning elections. Meanwhile, problem = not solved.

    Thank you for the opportunity, Bruce, and Daniel, et. al., to have a meaningful and civil discussion. Civility is becoming more rare and I truly appreciate it when it occurs.

    • I find it fascinating how much I disagree with both Kathy and Bruce. First, to the point about my lack of evidence that gun laws create less violence. Both Kathy and Bruce argue that we have tried strict gun control and it hasn’t reduced violence. I believe that the evidence you cite is that, after the gun laws went into effect, violence increased. Do I have that right? I would maintain that there are a few problems of interpretation here. First of all, the passage of gun laws does not immediately cause the disappearance of the guns already in place. Secondly, in the case of a place like Chicago, you have easy access to neighboring states with more lax gun laws (not an issue with federal-level gun control). Thirdly, we don’t know if the rate of violence would have increased even more in the absence of gun laws.

      Kathy, whether or not pools are more dangerous than guns doesn’t seem to me to be material here. If you are calling for more regulation of pools, that’s one thing (I doubt you are), but there is a difference between pools and guns, which is that pools are not used for violent purposes, whereas guns are, and right now people are scared by guns (except for you and Bruce).

      When the founders of our country set out to create our democracy, they needed to create something new, that hadn’t existed before. The “data driven people” around at the time could have easily objected (I haven’t read the Federalist Papers, but I bet they DID object) that there were no data to prove this would work. When something hasn’t been done before (e.g. national gun control), you don’t have data to support whether it would work or not, and any data are open to interpretation. The majority of Americans and the majority of NRA members (!!) support the meager increases in gun control being proposed. Against that, we have your argument that increasing gun control might increase gun violence.

      Data is not a black-and-white thing. It is always subject to interpretation.

      I guess my question is this, to Kathy and Bruce: do you really want to give people easy access to guns (on the theory that we will all be safer that way), or is it just that you are made nervous by the federal government having the power to regulate them. If you really want easy access to guns, I have to say I am mystified.

      So, we come to global warming. My first point here is that I am always surprised when people suggest a global scientific conspiracy to support the theory of global warming, or climate change, or whatever you want to call it. Bruce, you worked among scientists for a long time. You should remember that they NEVER agree on ANYTHING. The notion that they would come together around this one issue because they all share the same rabid liberalism is beyond the realm of belief for me. My former neighbor goes to his weather station and takes the temperature readings. These are matters of fact. The polar ice caps are receding. There are 400 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. This has gone up much more quickly than expected. Low lying island countries are being flooded. The last 10 or so years have been the warmest on record.

      Now, Bruce, you are worried about crushing the middle and lower classes by addressing these issues now, and that is a great thing, because those huge number of people are not doing well. I would agree with you that the government has done little to help them, though I would argue as to who is responsible. For instance, most of Obama’s policies have not been enacted, so you are seeing the results of inactivity rather than the results of Obamian liberalism (I totally agree that Obama has been a miserable politician, with no sense of how to get the country behind him and his ideas). Nonetheless, I would ask you to consider the potential cost of NOT acting, which could be much higher. Now, do I have a pain-free solution to this problem? I do not. We will have to try something new, which makes people like you very nervous because there’s no proof it will work. I hope that we have people in this country (or other countries – perhaps in “old Europe”??) who can find a way to guarantee that we won’t find ourselves sliding down a slope past the point of no return.

  8. Kathy says:

    Oops, the article citing the many laws (Federal) already on the books, is here: http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/02/wayne-lapierre-not-enforcing-existing-gun-laws-thats-a-crime/

  9. Kathy says:

    I noticed two misspellings in the posting dated and timed May 3 at 6:15 pm. Crises should be crisis, and I apologize!

    Cheers!

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