Gun Control and Mass Murder

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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#586  Postby -1- » April 19th, 2017, 1:41 am

Rederic wrote:I'm sorry, but you're so hung up about your rights, that you've lost your common sense.


Rights, religion, and republicanism, the three Rs of the American spirit of societal self-preservation, self-induction, and self-destruction.

This replaced the four Fs: Freedom, Foreign Aid (Marshall Plan) and (manu)Facturing (ef)Ficiency.

I know, I'm using the three Ts: (s)tretching the (accep)tability of (acronisms)t.
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder



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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#587  Postby GE Morton » April 19th, 2017, 10:41 am

Mark1955 wrote:An alternative question you Americans might ask yourselves is why with a gun in every household, Switzerland has so little violent gun crime.


Switzerland has a much different demographic than the US.
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#588  Postby Steve3007 » April 19th, 2017, 12:12 pm

G E Morton:
Should we be required to "justify" why we should be allowed free speech? In general, behaviors that violate or threaten no one else's rights require no justification.


I would say that behaviours that have no effect on anybody else could be said to require no justification. But there are no such behaviours. Speech clearly does affect other people. If it didn't then politicians, for example, would have no power to change the world. Presidents don't do physical work. They speak for a living. Clearly the things that presidents say profoundly affect other people.

But even if there were actions that literally had no effect on others, nearly all societies disagree with you that we should be freely allowed to do things that only affect ourselves. Nearly all societies regard the role of law as being at least partly to protect ourselves from harming ourselves. Hence crash helmet and seat-belt laws. You could argue that not wearing a seat-belt in a car affects the people who have to scrape your bloody remains off the road after a crash. But it's hard to argue that that is the only reason for making the wearing of seat-belts compulsory.


So yes, I think we do have to justify what we are and are not allowed to say without fear of legal action. The main justification is that being allowed to freely voice opinions so long as we do not libel or insight harm is vital for the free exchange of information that is required for other aspects of justice to work.

-- Updated Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:20 pm to add the following --

G E Morton:
What requires justification is restricting those behaviors, the presumption (in free countries) being that persons may live their lives in any way they choose, may do anything they wish to do, as long as they violate no one else's rights.


I know this is the standard traditionally libertarian view espoused by such people as J S Mill, but I think it simplistically ignores the obvious fact that we all live in the same universe, breathing shared air and generally living off shared resources. We live in societies. The mere fact of our continued existence means that we affect other people. So certain behaviours have to be restricted even if it cannot be immediately shown that they directly and traceably violate the rights of somebody else.

-- Updated Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:27 pm to add the following --

No. Unlike personal firearms, weapons of mass destruction, if ever used, by definition pose risks to others.


Why don't personal firearms pose those risks? Is it just a question of scale?

Why should I be deprived of my WMD because it would cause a risk "if ever used"? This is a speculation about something that might happen in the future. As I understand it, your view is that you are not permitted to restrict my freedoms due to guesswork about what I might do in the future. If I ever did use my WMD then by all means prosecute me and stop me from owning WMDs in future. But unless or until I do that you have no right to take my possessions from me. That is your view isn't it?
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#589  Postby GE Morton » April 19th, 2017, 4:00 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
I would say that behaviours that have no effect on anybody else could be said to require no justification. But there are no such behaviours. Speech clearly does affect other people.


Of course speech may (and typically is intended to) effect other people. But mere effects, per se, do not require justification. The only effects which require justification are those which impose injury or loss upon other moral agents, i.e., they violate others' rights. You are certainly not required to "justify" your speech merely because it discomfits of offends someone. Other people's opinions of and emotional reactions to your speech are their problems, not yours.

The same holds for other, non-speech behaviors. If they impose no injury or loss on anyone else, they require no justification, no matter how many others find them ridiculous, unseemly, distasteful, "unnatural," blasphemous, "politically incorrect," shocking, or offensive. No one has a right not to be offended, and no one has any duty to conform his lifestyle to other people's tastes, preferences, or dogmas.

The essential virtue required of humans living in civilized societies is tolerance. I.e., "live and let live." Christians must put up with Jews and Muslims in their midst; heterosexuals must put up with homosexuals, jazz afficionados must put up with heavy metal bands, "health food" zealots must put up with MacDonald's, right-wingers must put up with left-wingers, subcultures must put up with other subcultures..

Someone who expects to be unaffected by other people has no business living in a social setting.

But even if there were actions that literally had no effect on others, nearly all societies disagree with you that we should be freely allowed to do things that only affect ourselves. Nearly all societies regard the role of law as being at least partly to protect ourselves from harming ourselves. Hence crash helmet and seat-belt laws.


Seat belt laws can be justified on the grounds that they reduce the risks to others, such as passengers in your car and other drivers, by helping you maintain control of your vehicle. But Western governments have indeed enacted many Nanny State laws --- laws intended to "protect" persons from themselves --- since the middle of the last century. No such laws are morally defensible (and most are counter-productive)..

So yes, I think we do have to justify what we are and are not allowed to say without fear of legal action. The main justification is that being allowed to freely voice opinions so long as we do not libel or insight harm is vital for the free exchange of information that is required for other aspects of justice to work.


That is the standard utilitarian justification for free speech (e.g., Mill's). It is sound, but superfluous. Speaking is an innate ability with which nearly all persons are naturally endowed. There is no a priori need to morally justify the exercise of natural abilities. We need not justify walking or sleeping in most cases either; they only require justification when they result in loss or injury to others. Someone who proposes a restriction on one of those abilities, on the other hand, must justify that action, since it prima facie imposes a loss on the person so restricted.

What requires justification is restricting those behaviors, the presumption (in free countries) being that persons may live their lives in any way they choose, may do anything they wish to do, as long as they violate no one else's rights.


I know this is the standard traditionally libertarian view espoused by such people as J S Mill, but I think it simplistically ignores the obvious fact that we all live in the same universe, breathing shared air and generally living off shared resources. We live in societies. The mere fact of our continued existence means that we affect other people. So certain behaviours have to be restricted even if it cannot be immediately shown that they directly and traceably violate the rights of somebody else.


That is a non sequitur. You cannot deduce "X must be restricted" from, "X affects other people." You'll need a whole lot of moral argument to link that conclusion to your premise. Specifically, you'll need to show that the effects in question are morally relevant, i.e., that they impose injuries or losses to someone.

No. Unlike personal firearms, weapons of mass destruction, if ever used, by definition pose risks to others.


Why don't personal firearms pose those risks? Is it just a question of scale?


No. It's a difference in the nature of the weapons. If I justifiably shoot a burglar, I impose no loss or risk on anyone else. But I could not use a nuke (or even a hand grenade, in most cases) for that purpose without inflicting injuries on many others.

Why should I be deprived of my WMD because it would cause a risk "if ever used"? This is a speculation about something that might happen in the future. As I understand it, your view is that you are not permitted to restrict my freedoms due to guesswork about what I might do in the future.


No, it isn't a speculation. The proposition, "If Alfie uses his nuke, injuries to others will result," is a certainty. The antecedent "Alfie uses his nuke" is not certain, but that is irrelevant. I assume Alfie wishes to own that weapon because he foresees possible future uses for it. If none of them are allowed because injuries to others will result, then Alfie's desire to own it is irrational.
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#590  Postby LuckyR » April 19th, 2017, 5:11 pm

Mark1955 wrote:An alternative question you Americans might ask yourselves is why with a gun in every household, Switzerland has so little violent gun crime.


The answer is quite obvious and simple. The US has relatively very few Swiss, while Switzerland is full of them.
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#591  Postby Felix » April 19th, 2017, 7:37 pm

The answer is quite obvious and simple. The US has relatively very few Swiss, while Switzerland is full of them.


Ah yes, isn't that a shame? Reminds me of a George W. Bush quote: "We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#592  Postby -1- » April 19th, 2017, 9:10 pm

Felix wrote:
The answer is quite obvious and simple. The US has relatively very few Swiss, while Switzerland is full of them.


Ah yes, isn't that a shame? Reminds me of a George W. Bush quote: "We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."

A toronto radio station in the nineties which specialized in airing new music, ran an ad campaign to attract listeners at Christmas time promising to play "The best new music of all times."

-- Updated 2017 April 19th, 9:14 pm to add the following --

Felix wrote:
The answer is quite obvious and simple. The US has relatively very few Swiss, while Switzerland is full of them.


Ah yes, isn't that a shame? Reminds me of a George W. Bush quote: "We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."


...and seven patriotic Patriots refused to dine with GWB.
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#593  Postby Steve3007 » April 20th, 2017, 7:45 am

G E Morton:
But mere effects, per se, do not require justification. The only effects which require justification are those which impose injury or loss upon other moral agents, i.e., they violate others' rights.


You probably think I'm being pedantic or getting hung up on semantics here - or just waffling. But I think all actions and words (at least theoretically) have to be assessed to find out whether their effects are benign or impose injury/loss. It is in that sense that actions such as speaking have to be "justified". Clearly there are some acts of speaking that do cause injury/loss or violate others' rights and are therefore proscribed. Libel or incitement to violence, for example. So speech is not really fundamentally different from other types of action. They all have to be justified in the sense that they all have to be shown not to violate the rights of others.

But I guess you would reply that the difference is in the initial presumption: innocent until proved guilty. All acts, including the act of speaking, are assumed to be harmless to others unless shown to be harmful. Clearly some are obviously harmful so that process is instantaneous. I agree that you are right about that.

You are certainly not required to "justify" your speech merely because it discomfits or offends someone. Other people's opinions of and emotional reactions to your speech are their problems, not yours.


Yes. I agree.

The same holds for other, non-speech behaviors. If they impose no injury or loss on anyone else, they require no justification, no matter how many others find them ridiculous, unseemly, distasteful, "unnatural," blasphemous, "politically incorrect," shocking, or offensive. No one has a right not to be offended, and no one has any duty to conform his lifestyle to other people's tastes, preferences, or dogmas.


I agree.

Seat belt laws can be justified on the grounds that they reduce the risks to others, such as passengers in your car and other drivers, by helping you maintain control of your vehicle.


And, as I said, they can be justified on the grounds that if I die horribly in a car crash, even if nobody else is involved, there is an emotional and financial cost to my family, to some paramedics who have to scrape my remains off the road, to society in bearing the cost of treating me, etc. When all of those, sometimes deeply hidden or delayed, costs to others are factored out, if we still think that seat-belts should be compulsory (to stick to this example) then we are saying that there is an element of that law that is purely intended to protect us from our own actions. I think there is. I think that when you boil off all direct and indirect effects on others you're not quite left with zero. If you see what I mean.

But Western governments have indeed enacted many Nanny State laws --- laws intended to "protect" persons from themselves --- since the middle of the last century. No such laws are morally defensible (and most are counter-productive)..


We'd probably have to argue about individual cases involving particular examples of these "Nanny State" laws. Once the effects on others had been factored out ("boiled off"), we might still disagree on at least some of them but I don't know for sure. I personally am not wholly opposed to the concept that is sometimes characterised using that phrase "Nanny State". But I suspect a lot of discussion would first take place as to the extent that laws which appear at first glance to be pure "Nanny State" laws (designed purely to prevent self-harm) actually have a large element of protecting society from the indirect and hard-to-pin-down consequences of our actions.

If I went through that process it's possible that I will find that I actually agree with you in principle and that my reason for supporting a particular "Nanny State" law was actually because of these kinds of indirect effects on others. But I also suspect that you might find that, due to the complex webs of inter-dependency, there are far fewer acts that harm only ourselves than we think there are. In which case it's not black and white. There's always going to be a judgement call as to how far we go in assessing the harmful effects of our actions. The world doesn't divide cleanly into "acts that harm only ourselves" and "acts that harm others". It's a greyscale.

Many people, including myself, would take into account the effect on society as a whole of some actions: the kind of society that we regard as "healthy". For example, although I wouldn't class myself as a socialist and I don't regard inequalities in material wealth as inherently wrong, I do think that extremes of material inequality in a society can have a tendency to harm all, both rich and poor - high crime rates, the necessity for gated communities and so on. So such things as taxation to fund public services like health and education can be justified using a long-term argument about harm to society as a whole, even if they can't be justified by an individual-to-individual action-causes-harm argument. I suspect you disagree?

That is the standard utilitarian justification for free speech (e.g., Mill's). It is sound, but superfluous. Speaking is an innate ability with which nearly all persons are naturally endowed. There is no a priori need to morally justify the exercise of natural abilities. We need not justify walking or sleeping in most cases either; they only require justification when they result in loss or injury to others. Someone who proposes a restriction on one of those abilities, on the other hand, must justify that action, since it prima facie imposes a loss on the person so restricted.


Yes so I think what you're talking about is essentially burden of proof. Innocent until shown to be guilty. OK, I agree, but with all the provisos in my previous comments!

That is a non sequitur. You cannot deduce "X must be restricted" from, "X affects other people." You'll need a whole lot of moral argument to link that conclusion to your premise. Specifically, you'll need to show that the effects in question are morally relevant, i.e., that they impose injuries or losses to someone.


Yes and, as I said above, this is where we have to make a judgement call (i.e. a somewhat arbitrary decision based on personal preference) as to how far we go in assessing the consequences of actions. What about cases where the injury or loss is so broad or intangible that we can't unambiguously tie one individual's acts to another individual victim of those acts?

I guess another classic example might be something like climate change. Leaving aside any detailed technical/scientific argument about the extent to which climate change is (a) harmful and (b) caused by human actions with viable alternatives. Do you think, as a general rule, that legislation to penalise CO2 emissions can be justified in your libertarian (if I can call it that) world view?

No. It's a difference in the nature of the weapons. If I justifiably shoot a burglar, I impose no loss or risk on anyone else. But I could not use a nuke (or even a hand grenade, in most cases) for that purpose without inflicting injuries on many others.


But you haven't used your WMD. You've just bought it. You say that it would be irrational to buy a WMD without intending to ever use it, but (in a libertarian world) who am I to judge your motives as irrational? Until you actually use it, your motives are entirely your own business aren't they?

And what about weapons somewhere in between small firearms and WMDs? How about, say, assault rifles? In deciding whether the use of a weapon is likely only to serve the purpose of personal protection, how far do you think we ought to go and what ought we to take into account? Should we, for example, take into account the purpose for the weapon that was intended by the manufacturer?

No, it isn't a speculation. The proposition, "If Alfie uses his nuke, injuries to others will result," is a certainty. The antecedent "Alfie uses his nuke" is not certain, but that is irrelevant. I assume Alfie wishes to own that weapon because he foresees possible future uses for it. If none of them are allowed because injuries to others will result, then Alfie's desire to own it is irrational.


Yes, the proposition "If Alfie uses his nuke, injuries to others will result," is a certainty. But as you said, the premise "Alfie uses his weapon" is not. As I said above, in a libertarian world, why should our assumptions about what Alfie wishes to do in the future and our opinions about his rationality be used to confiscate his property? For all we know, he might just admire the weapon's design. Until he actually commits a crime, isn't that none of our business?
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#594  Postby LuckyR » April 20th, 2017, 11:13 am

Felix wrote:
The answer is quite obvious and simple. The US has relatively very few Swiss, while Switzerland is full of them.


Ah yes, isn't that a shame? Reminds me of a George W. Bush quote: "We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."


But seriously, if you have less uneducated and chronically impoverished people, you have less crime in general and gun crime specifically. Apples and oranges, really.
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#595  Postby Steve3007 » April 20th, 2017, 11:27 am

Or maybe the reason why the Swiss have loads of guns but don't kill each other much is because they're unimaginative cuckoo clock merchants? As Orson Welles said in the Third Man:

"in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#596  Postby LuckyR » April 20th, 2017, 11:56 am

Steve3007 wrote:Or maybe the reason why the Swiss have loads of guns but don't kill each other much is because they're unimaginative cuckoo clock merchants? As Orson Welles said in the Third Man:

"in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."


Sounds cool in an online Forum, but really where would you like to enjoy the median income/social position: Switzerland or the US?
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Re: Gun Control and Mass Murder

Post Number:#597  Postby -1- » April 21st, 2017, 3:07 am

Steve3007 wrote:Or maybe the reason why the Swiss have loads of guns but don't kill each other much is because they're unimaginative cuckoo clock merchants? As Orson Welles said in the Third Man:

"in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

I've long been saying, "life is either a period of stability, stagnation and -- let's face it -- boredom, with relative levels of wealth, or else it's a period of upheaval, rapidly changing mood of environment, and interesting, even romantic or sentimental calamity, coupled with hunger, dirt, mass refugee movement, and war."

(Most novels and literary/ musical / film creations specialize in happening in the latter, except for a few exceptions, such as the topics or subject material of a brilliant writer, Istvan Fekete, who could write incredibly beautiful, calmly uplifting, serene stories about nothing special happening. He mastered the art of taking everyday events, talking about them in a natural voice, without ever becoming sensationalistic or provocative AND making it an easy read, a captivating read, for the riveted reader. His books made you read through their 2-300 in one sitting without your ever getting up. You truly could not put down his books -- and there was almost literally (but in a literary form) nothing that happened in them.)

In fact, in the nineteen seventies and eighties it was in vogue to walk around parties and say to people, "there is an ancient Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times.""

-- Updated 2017 April 21st, 3:12 am to add the following --

LuckyR wrote:But seriously, if you have less uneducated and chronically impoverished people, you have less crime in general and gun crime specifically. Apples and oranges, really.

I am not sure that I could agree. Most gun crimes of murder are committed in inner-cities, in Detroit, in places where the rule of thumb is the law. Meaning, drug turf wars, tons of desperate, incredibly poor people driven insane by drug dependence, who got nothing, and nothing to lose.

You hear poof-poof in wealth, rich neighbourhoods, too, no doubt, but they are not nyiffing each other out, because they got

-- Updated 2017 April 21st, 3:15 am to add the following --

What happened? I am typing along, peacefully, when the screen went berserk and it said "new topic" and bang, I was kicked out of the edit window.

... because they got some things to lose, and are imaginative enough to see that jail is not a good place to spend a very long time. Inner city populatin looks at jail as a safe haven, with three squares a day, little chance to get murdered, and lots of free sex.

-- Updated 2017 April 21st, 3:23 am to add the following --


[Moderator edited content in response to off topic post that was removed]


-- Updated 2017 April 21st, 3:54 am to add the following --

Steve3007 wrote:Or maybe the reason why the Swiss have loads of guns but don't kill each other much is because they're unimaginative cuckoo clock merchants? As Orson Welles said in the Third Man:

"in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."


This, of course, immediately makes you wonder, what the other two-thirds comprised? And what business Mr. Welles had had in occupying this being.

-- Updated 2017 April 21st, 4:04 am to add the following --

LuckyR wrote:Sounds cool in an online Forum, but really where would you like to enjoy the median income/social position: Switzerland or the US?

If I wanted serenity, calm, and stability, I'd say "median in Switzerland". If I wanted to be surrounded by obnoxious know-it-alls who have an arrogant attitude, carry and don't shy away from using guns, and scream "blue murder" at abortions, and I want to have a constant fear of losing it all, wife, home, money, if I get sick, then I'd choose the median in America.

But, for me at least, the ideal would be the golden middle between the two medians. Which is either in the middle of the Atlantic ocean somewhere, or else deep inside the Earth, below the Mantle. (This latter, if you decide the golden middle by a literal straight line, not a virtual one, drawn on the map on the surface of the planet.)
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