Thursday, November 16, 2017

David Kopel at VC: Most Mass Shootings In Gun-Free Nations

Not exactly sure what to make of this argument off the top of my head...but you know how I like arguments that confirm my prejudices...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd also point out that most mass shootings are nothing like the events that get media airtime. They are basically gang shootings, where the participants would have only possessed illegal firearms anyway. This is more illustrative of how difficult it is to get a signal out of really anomalous data though than a point scored for the gun rights crowd.

But if we are really going to push a non-PC, contrarian line, I'd love to see mass shootings versus an index of racial/religious diversity. I bet there would be a relationship in that case.

Also, what's up with Iraq? Is it because most violence is classified as due to war, not mass shooting? But then why does Yemen still stand above everyone else?

8:31 PM  
Blogger Aa said...

Most of the cases in that article appear to be mass shootings due to war, civil unrest, or with a government (such as the Soviet Union) behind them. I'm not sure how that relates to what we currently label as mass shootings (i.e., one individual shooting many others). Unless I missed something.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Right about gang violence. In fact that's a giant chunk of gun violence in general.

Is your second point that gun violence could as well be attributed to racial diversity as gun-ownership?

I have no answers about Iraq and Yemen... Curious...

12:07 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, that's the primary reason I expressed skepticism about the argument.

But isn't Kopel's point that, if you look at all mass shootings (and: most are organized governmental murder) it would have been better had private citizens been armed?

Then the response is: ok, overall that may be true...but we are in a special circumstance, such that that's not the main threat we face.

Then the counter-response is: that's the threat we face *right now*...but it's irrational to respond to that in a way that makes us vulnerable to the larger, longer-term threat...

I don't know how to settle this. At least no on such consequentialist terms.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is your second point that gun violence could as well be attributed to racial diversity as gun-ownership?"

Yeah, off hand, we know increasing diversity strongly decreases social trust and increases feelings of social isolation, which could contribute to some of the psychopathy that we see in the lone wolf cases. But also, a lot of basic human tribalism goes into gang violence as well, latino gangs fighting with black gangs, etc. And what really interested me was France's high score, likely because of terrorism/Muslim violence.

But to get even more non-PC...blacks simply have higher rates of deadly violence by like 7x, even outside the US if my understanding holds. If you index on that, it should be a much tighter relation than gun ownership I'm sure. It's just a brute mathematical fact.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Wow, you're a brave man, Anon...such things must not be acknowledged, even anonymously...

But you're right--that's a tighter relationship.

It's complicated, isn't it, by the fact that the left wants to focus only on a certain *type* of mass shooting...and further complicated by the fact that they may be right, in a backhanded way, for doing so: gang-on-gang violence is a kind of different thing that nobody knows what to do about, and nobody does...nor maybe much about...

Eh...I think we may be venturing into possibly- losing- my- job- if- this- discussion- ever- came- to- light territory... Free inquiry is no longer academically correct.

OTOH, though, what about the male thing? Now *that*s a tight relationship...and a PC one...

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"OTOH, though, what about the male thing? Now *that*s a tight relationship...and a PC one..."

Unfortunately most countries have close to 50-50 male/female, so there will be no variance to correlate against.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But yeah, men are going to be virtually all the perpetrators here. No idea how to handle that.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Wow, Godwin's Law with a vengeance. The argument is literally GUN CONTROL = NAZIS!1!11!1

There's a serious problem with priors in this argument: in the primary examples in this case, gun bans were explicitly part of establishing a totalitarian state. At this point I stopped reading, since I was expecting places like Canada, Australia, modern Japan, much of Europe. But... that's not the argument being made.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


This isn't actually a legitimate "Godwin's law" reference. You're going to need a better argument against Kopel than that.

Kopel wins the point, as I noted...but then we can also ask about another question: what if we basically cheat and take governmental violence out of the picture and focus only on other types?

Still an interesting question, I'd say...but if Kopel is right, it's dangerous to forget that it's basically gerrymandered.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

I read the rest of the article, and it's not bad. But it's not good either. Taking the issue seriously should address automation in warfare: an armed society cannot truly Defender against automated drones. (It'd have a hard time against tanks, but there at least you have at least a chance of subverting the crew.) Any serious discussion needs to address this issue. He also really slides over the issue of actually existing regulation, which is rather more apposite. Yes, government genocide has historically been a problem (just ask the American Indians.) But...that doesn't say much about mass killings in the US today, where very few people indeed believe banning all guns is the solution. It's worth noting that one recent mass killing used a truck, and only killed 8. The killer only had a fake gun, presumably because of NY's gun laws. With a real gun, he'd have killed more. It's a bit of weight on the other side.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You seem to think that a population armed with (say) AR-15s wouldn't be effective against a modern army, but we know this isn't true (just ask the Iraqis).

As for automated drones: that's a stretch into sci-fi that isn't so relevant, seems to me. But the only important point, really, is: an armed population is *always* better off against a murderous occupier than an unarmed population. Even autonomous drones won't be magic.

Though Kopel's main point just seems to be the descriptive one: most mass shootings have been in largely gun-free nations. He's just right about that. As I noted, we can also ask: what about mass shootings unrelated to military operations?

Then, of course, there's the more normative question: what's the most prudent policy about firearms.

At any rate, restricting firearm ownership by ordinary, sane citizens probably shouldn't be on the table at all until we've tried out wacky ideas like enforcing existing laws, taking 'me away from crazy people, and so forth.

9:55 PM  

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