Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Henry Vestine was right on

Henry Vestine, who was the guitarist in Canned Heat, once (or maybe more than once, I don't know) gave a PSA at a concert in LA. Quoting from memory, it went: "If you are big, strong and stupid, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department needs you."

And will give you deadly firearms, even if you are also a hotheaded drunk.

In discussions about firearms, the gun nuts often say that CLOs (certified law enforcment officers) are an example of how very safe firearms can be in the control of a trained professional.

That's reason #867 we call them gun nuts.


What could possibly go wrong?

 A Republican state senator from Arkansas who is leading a legislative committee on the subject of giving guns to school teachers accidentally shot a teacher during an "active shooter" drill earlier this year, the local paper of record has uncovered.
Please read the whole thing, on my best day I couldn't make this up.



  1. So are you now proposing that we also disarm law enforcement folks?

  2. Well, I didn't say that, but it's worth considering.

    My point was that no one with a gun can be trusted not to shoot me.

  3. Bret, are you aware that many countries do have policie forces that carry no weapon?

    Or, if carrying it, only in boxes accessible at their cars if the situation they are going to explicitely calls for it?

    Would you believe if I tell they have crime rates orders of magnitude lower than the USA?

  4. Clovis,

    Are you now proposing that we disarm law enforcement in, say, Brazil? Or the United States?

  5. Bret,

    Not at all!

    I just wanted to point out that there are other possible worlds.

    I do know that Brazil is not ready for that (although accidents with arms are less of a problem here then in the US).

    The USA, on the other hand, being the advanced place it is, does not make the leap because... well, it does not want it.

  6. Because the NRA would go out of business if its members ever realized their childish fantasies about intervening to stop bad guys have no basis in reality.

  7. Good discussion on NPR Science Friday today (you can get a podcast) on death and firearms.

    Twice as many suicides as homicides with firearms. No. 1 predictor of successful suicide: firearm in the home.

    3 to 5 times more successful suicides in homes with firearms than in homes without.

  8. Clovis, some of the inner cities in the U.S. are not much better than war zones. I don't think it would possibly work to have unarmed law enforcement there.

  9. Harry,

    Not being religious, I don't have a problem with suicide. If someone is done with life, they might as well check out as far as I'm concerned. And if they're going to attempt suicide, they might as well succeed. So, to me, it's a feature, not a bug, of gun ownership.

  10. You might want to read up on suicide and its motivations. That podcast was a good place to start.

    Many many suicides are passing fancies. The determined ones, who try over and over till they succeed, are the minority.

    Of course, if they pick up a gun, they seldom have a chance to consider again.

    It isn't a matter of religion but of public health. And even of taxes, since the vast majority of what we might describe as ill-considered first-timers using guns are breadwinners, leaving somebody to pick up the bill for raising the children.

    Clovis, Bret exaggerates. No inner city is that violent, although certain blocks concentrate violent people. When I lived in Des Moines almost all gang and hoodlum-related gunplay occurred inside or on the pathway between two saloons. 50 feet off that track was where my wife worked and never experienced any problems even at night.

  11. Clovis,

    A young black male from Washington, D.C. who enlisted in the army and went to fight in the Iraq war last decade was LESS likely to die a violent death than if he stayed home. I consider that not much better than a war zone, whether or not Harry considers that an exaggeration.

  12. Clovis,

    Here is a link comparing death rates in the Iraq war with death rates of a similar population in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is more dangerous.

  13. I thought the rightwing view was that the war was over in days and after that peace broke out.

  14. We both know that wasn't the prevailing view.

  15. We do? Mission not accomplished? I 'eard diff'rent.

  16. Twice as many suicides as homicides with firearms. No. 1 predictor of successful suicide: firearm in the home.

    What is the UK's suicide rate compared to the US?

  17. [Clovis:] Bret, are you aware that many countries do have police forces that carry no weapon?

    Name two.

    Would you believe if I tell they have crime rates orders of magnitude lower than the USA?

    More than one order of magnitude lower? No, I don't believe it.

    Especially if you are going to compare like against like -- exclude African Americans, and the US crime rate sinks like a greased safe.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Suicide rates differ in the US by a factor of 2 or 3 among states (highest in gun nut states), so your question is unaskable.

  20. No, it is completely askable. First, there is a number for each. Second, if taking away people's freedom to do X on account of reason Y, then, having done so, there should be some discernible payoff for having done Y.

    Finally, you completely overlooked something. Let me restate the obvious for you:

    "The national map of suicide lights up in states with the highest gun ownership rates. Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the states with the three highest suicide rates, are also the top gun-owning states …"

    This is either intentional deck-stacking, or profound ignorance. How so? There is something completely germane, yet wholly unmentioned throughout this entire article: gender. Males attempt suicide much less often than females, but are far more frequently successful*. Indeed, the second sentence begs examining that possibility. After all, besides guns, the other thing that lights up in states with the highest gun ownership are also the highest Male to Female ratios ...

    * Four times as successful, in fact.

    So congratulations, you have used suicide rates as a proxy for gender imbalance.

    Of course, using entire US rate v. the entire UK rate neutralizes that effect. Economically and ethnically speaking, the US and the UK are similar. One very big difference, though, is the number of guns.

    If the UKs suicide rate didn't change over time, and is comparable to the US's, then the case for prohibiting guns for the purpose of reducing suicide becomes a matter of religion, not fact.

    And you still haven't touched why someone else's decision to commit suicide should restrict my ability to own a gun. Which, if you try, will lead you directly to the problem inherent in collectivism: there is no logical limit to your tyranny.

    After all, if the argument works for guns, then it works for swimming pools, too.