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Virginia tech gun dealer visits campus to sell guns-What do you think?
Posted: 24 April 2008 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I just came across this story. I heard the dealer speaking on the news and making a comment to that “If there was even one student in that classroom with a gun at least half of the deaths could have been stopped”. I couldn’t believe my ears. This guy sold the guns to the madman that killed all these kids and his solution is to put more guns in kids hands.

Its only my opinion, but even if his estimate is true, you would have to arm hundreds of kids on each of the three thousand campuses across the country to have saved a dozen or so lives lost to a madman once every couple of years. It seems to me that with hundreds of thousands of newly armed college students across the country we are going to have more than a few deaths from accidents and roommate or girlfreind issues that escalate from a heated debate to a gunbattle. College students aren’t exactly known for their sober restraint.

I realize this is a hot button issue with many groups, but I don’t see how any rational thinking individual can honestly believe that putting more guns in the hands of college students is the solution to this sort of on campus violence.

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Posted: 24 April 2008 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, I’m with you for certain. We cannot eliminate the human propensity for violence, or for madness, but we can minimize the harm done by reducing the availability of highly effective tools of violence. I doubt that more guns would mean less shooting. And while the usual comeback here is “Well, he could just a easily killed them with an axe,” I think it is fairly clear that more harm results from more effective weaponry, and most of the guns we’re talking about are designed to do nothing else except harm people.


I also agree that we will never win over the staunch gun rights activists. I think we live in a fearful culture, and one that emphasizes the individual solving his/her own problems. This leads us to fantasize about the average Joe stopping the bad guys as long as he can bring his six shooter. Sadly, I think the evidence shows this to be a dangerous myth, but one which I despair of every taking the luster off of. Heck, the supposed strict constructionists on the Supreme Court, the ones who claim to read the Constitution literally and without outside interpretation, and the same ones who claim to support states’ rights over federalism, somehow still manage to read the 2nd Amendment as if it intended to provide an absolute right to private gun ownership untouchable by state or local laws. You can’t get that kind of mental contortion out of an otherwise intelligent, rational, educated person without some pretty fervent underlying commitment to gun ownership on principle, at all costs. And such a commitment reason can have little impact on.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 03:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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[ Edited: 30 July 2008 06:45 PM by jholt ]
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Posted: 25 April 2008 04:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Agreed, macgyver. The proliferation of guns in our society—particularly handguns—is one reason why the US murder rate is significantly higher than in other first-world countries. It’s a foolish, head-in-sand response to think that more guns would make things any better.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree.  There is no reasonable way to argue that guns have any valid place in the hands of ordinary citizens.  Certainly not any more of a valid place than rocket launchers, grenades, heavy artillery or nuclear bombs.  All arms dealers should be out out of business and dealt with as criminals.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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arrgh, most of the way through a long reply and the explorer window locks up!  grrrrrr.

anyway,

In the uk. few guns, so no justification of carrying a gun for personal protection.

the US, even if handguns were banned tomorrow through the states, criminals and nut-jobs would still be carrying them for years to come. - The cat is out of the bag - I have some sympathy for the position that those who have shown they can be responsible (no criminal record etc) should be allowed to carry.  It is both true that the guns sold to the ‘nut-job’ enabled him to murder all those students, but it is also true that, as everyone else followed the rules and didn’t carry a gun, there was no-one to stop him.

With any vetting procedure, there will be failings, however, i would support a program where individuals are trained and vetted to carry firearms. (although i don’t live in the US so maybe my perspective is a little off!)

One thing that should be noted.  The large number of murders in the US is a reflection of the culture.  If one looks at the US role models and how they behave I think it is easy to see that violence is almost idolised is US culture when compared to other first world countries. Sadly, many will not fully separate the action hero, or the cowboy, from the realities of living in a ‘civil’ society. The classic comparison, is with switzerland. EVERYONE is required to practice with firearms every year and many people have weapons in cluding assalut rifles. The murder rate is very much lower than the US, because it is not cullturally seen, that violence is an acceptable solituion to a problem.

so, the US has a naturally more violent society, and the means to act on it. - not a good combination. So to take guns away from those who would be able to step in….That would take some serious thought.

Ski.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m not so sure Ski.  Consider the following statistics.

1. Assaults per capita
UK = 7.45959 per 1,000 people (rank #8)
USA = 7.56923 per 1,000 people (rank #6)

2. Murders per capita
UK = 0.0140633 per 1,000 people (rank #46)
USA = 0.042802 per 1,000 people (rank #24)

3. Murders with firearms per capita
UK = 0.00102579 per 1,000 people (rank #32)
USA = 0.0279271 per 1,000 people (rank #8)

The assault rate in the UK and the US is virtually the same.  The murder rate shows a difference.  The difference in murder rate involving firearms is significantly higher then the overall murder rate.

The statistics on total murders also include murders involving firearms, so it can be deduced that the vast majority of murders in the US involve firearms, and that without firearm murders the US would rank somewhere near that of the UK.  Subtracting the number of murders involving firearms from the number of total murders in each country, the remaining number of murder that did not involve firearms would be:
UK = 0.0130376
USA = 0.0148749

Not so different, eh?

Of course, a case could be made that Americans who murder with firearms might find some other way- that if there is a will there is a way.  But this would not be consistent with the point that assault and other violent crime are about the same in the UK and in the US, as are non-firearm murders.  It is only murder involving firearms that occurs significantly more in the US.

[ Edited: 25 April 2008 02:00 PM by erasmusinfinity ]
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Posted: 26 April 2008 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 25 April 2008 01:52 PM

I’m not so sure Ski.  Consider the following statistics.

1. Assaults per capita
UK = 7.45959 per 1,000 people (rank #8)
USA = 7.56923 per 1,000 people (rank #6)

2. Murders per capita
UK = 0.0140633 per 1,000 people (rank #46)
USA = 0.042802 per 1,000 people (rank #24)

3. Murders with firearms per capita
UK = 0.00102579 per 1,000 people (rank #32)
USA = 0.0279271 per 1,000 people (rank #8)

The assault rate in the UK and the US is virtually the same.  The murder rate shows a difference.  The difference in murder rate involving firearms is significantly higher then the overall murder rate.

The statistics on total murders also include murders involving firearms, so it can be deduced that the vast majority of murders in the US involve firearms, and that without firearm murders the US would rank somewhere near that of the UK.  Subtracting the number of murders involving firearms from the number of total murders in each country, the remaining number of murder that did not involve firearms would be:
UK = 0.0130376
USA = 0.0148749

Not so different, eh?

Of course, a case could be made that Americans who murder with firearms might find some other way- that if there is a will there is a way.  But this would not be consistent with the point that assault and other violent crime are about the same in the UK and in the US, as are non-firearm murders.  It is only murder involving firearms that occurs significantly more in the US.

That is why my comparison was with switzerland, not the UK.  We (in the UK) have many of the same cultural ‘issues’ when it comes to the use of violence to solve problems. In the UK few people have access to frearms, so there is no justification for an ‘ordinary citizen’ to carry one for self defence.

My comparison to switzerland where acces to firearms is relatively open, was to highlight that culture has a MASSIVE influence on the murder rate, more so than access to an easy means of commiting said act.

Ski.

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Posted: 26 April 2008 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Ski,

Maybe I jumped the gun LOL a bit in defensiveness, by focusing on comparisons of the US & the UK.  I suppose that I often get defensive because the portrayal of the US as particularly violent through Hollywood movies, which are very popular throughout the world, is so skewed from what actually happens here.  But Switzerland is a good place for comparison and reflection in the way that you did.  It is noticeably less violent on all of the measures that I listed above.

I agree with your basic point that we need to take a critical look at the cultural factors that go into violence in societies.  I also think that we should work to change these things.

Perhaps the legality of handguns, to begin with, is a reflection of that violent streak in American culture.  If only better managed in the UK.  It seems likely, from the statistics, that if guns were taken off the streets then US homicide rates would be reduced to about a quarter of what they currently are.  Undoubtedly a more substantial decrease than could be brought about by any other single measure.

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Posted: 26 April 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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There appear to be so many guns in legal ownership as well as in the wild that I wonder how the tide can be reversed.  It seems too late and too difficult now.

I’m not American, by the way.  Even reasonable Americans I know believe in their inalienable right to carry guns. 

Even though violence is not uncommon in most western countries, gun ownership and use tends to lead to a ‘final’ outcome.  Angry people with guns can kill more people.

I just don’t know what the US can do about the problem of gun ownership and use now.

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Posted: 26 April 2008 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Light60 - 26 April 2008 01:45 PM

Even reasonable Americans I know believe in their inalienable right to carry guns. 

Well, I read the Second Amendment to the Constitution as being quite clear that the right to carry guns exists only in the context of a “well regulated militia”.

[ Edited: 26 April 2008 02:01 PM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 26 April 2008 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Yes, I am aware of that as well.  Americans frequently claim that they have a constitutional right to carry guns, despite the fact that it’s debatable.

Even without this supposed ‘right’ it just doesn’t make sense to allow the widespread distribution and use of guns.  Yet it’s widely accepted that this is all right.

How do Americans change that?  It seems almost impossible but all power to those who try.  How many have to die in the mean time?  Gun deaths seem to be as acceptable as road deaths.  They seem to be something that Americans grieve about but do little to prevent.

I know this seems like a simplistic debate.  It’s much more complex than my few opening sentences recognise.

After the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania in 1996, the Australian Government introduced gun control laws which have been imperfect but effective.  We have a much smaller population, however, and such laws were much easier to implement.  There was a massive gun buy-back.

I think 35 people were killed by one man at Port Arthur and it shocked the nation.

[ Edited: 26 April 2008 02:23 PM by Light60 ]
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Posted: 26 April 2008 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Light60 - 26 April 2008 02:17 PM

Yes, I am aware of that as well.  Americans frequently claim that they have a constitutional right to carry guns, despite the fact that it’s debatable.

Even without this supposed ‘right’ it just doesn’t make sense to allow the widespread distribution and use of guns.  Yet it’s widely accepted that this is all right.

How do American’s change that?  It seems almost impossible but all power to those who try.  How many have to die in the mean time.  Gun deaths seem to be as acceptable as road deaths.  They seem to be something that Americans grieve about but do little to prevent.

The media doesn’t help.

Agreed. As to what we can do to change things, all I can suggest is to keep people informed about the problems of gun violence. But realistically, I have to say that I expect any substantive change to our gun laws is probably a political impossibility at this time.

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Posted: 26 April 2008 11:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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...and if you will notice that the cartoons our children watch, quite frequently use violence as the first answer to any problem.I can’t believe that this does not contribute to the problem, especially in homes where the television is used as an unsupervised babysitter. 
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Posted: 01 May 2008 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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The right to bear arms is going to be tested very soon, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari to a case regarding the DC gun ban that may allow the Court to speak to this issue.

Doug you mentioned that the 2nd Amendment only allows the states to maintain “well regulated militias.”  However, that clause describes only one reason the right to bear arms is necessary.  The heart of the Amendment states that the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  This clause is an expansive statement of a right that goes beyond just a militia.  As with other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it should be interpreted that way. 

I also take issue with the statement that the possession of guns is tantamount to murder and mayhem.  While the US has a high percentage of gun owners, it’s actually not significantly higher than a number of other nations.  I was looking for stats on Canada and was surprised to learn that 32% of Norweigian homes possess a firearm. 

http://www.allcountries.org/gun_ownership_rates.html

The murder rate does not correspond to the percentage of gun owners.  39% of Americans have firearms with a gun homicide rate (not including suicide) of 6.24 per 100,000.  Whereas in Canada, 29% of households have a firearm, but only 0.60 people per 100,000 are victims of a gun related homicide. 

http://www.allcountries.org/gun_deaths_by_country.html

I would argue that guns are a symptom of the problems our nation faces not the actual problem.

All of this being said, I don’t think it’s a good idea to have students packing heat in college classes.

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Posted: 01 May 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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JRM5001 - 01 May 2008 02:36 PM

The right to bear arms is going to be tested very soon, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari to a case regarding the DC gun ban that may allow the Court to speak to this issue.

I have no doubt how they will vote ...

JRM5001 - 01 May 2008 02:36 PM

Doug you mentioned that the 2nd Amendment only allows the states to maintain “well regulated militias.”  However, that clause describes only one reason the right to bear arms is necessary.  The heart of the Amendment states that the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  This clause is an expansive statement of a right that goes beyond just a militia.  As with other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it should be interpreted that way. 

Yeah, we had a big discussion about this awhile back. The point of the amendment is that this right is not absolute, it is dependent upon the existence of a militia, and a well-regulated one at that. People are supposed to have guns in order to participate in this organ. It’s not clear at all that the right would exist except for this militia, which as far as I can tell is now the armed forces and national guard.

As for guns in other countries, what percentage of them are handguns? Semi-automatics? Because it’s one thing to have a .22 or shotgun in the house for hunting, etc., and another to have a pistol or uzi. Or at least so it would seem to me.

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