The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.

The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight. Discuss The Unbound Soul Now

The May Philosophy Book of the Month is Misreading Judas by Robert Wahler.

Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Discuss the March 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month, Final Notice by Van Fleisher.
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 20th, 2019, 3:46 pm

3uGHZD4MLj wrote:ok, I've looked around a little, I'm not going to bother listing sources and results, but I can see that you're less safe with a gun in the house, period.
If you let people know (e.g. put a sign in your window) that you have a gun in the house ("and are not afraid to use it!"), then wouldn't this make you "safer", especially so in some neighborhoods? ...and if you don't have a gun (and the bad guys know it) then doesn't this make you "less safe"?

Scott wrote:It should not really be looking at the aspects of gun ownership that lead to the result but just be looking at the net results (i.e. what percentage of gun owners were injured or killed over a certain timeframe versus what percentage of non-gun-owners were injured or killed over the same timeframe).
This is not a fair assessment of gunowner safety ("safer or less safe"). ...how about the percentage of gun owners who were NOT injured or killed (because they owned a gun)?

If you ONLY look at the injuries and deaths (i.e. ONLY the 'bad' stuff associated with gun ownership), and refuse to look at the 'good' stuff associated with gun ownership, then your conclusion will ALWAYS be "less safe"! ...which makes this 'one-sided' study/analysis wholly 'invalid' (aka "totally bogus") for determining "safer or less safe".

Scott wrote:Here is the official conclusion of the meta-analysis:"Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide."
Is this same "access to firearms" ALSO responsible for and associated with saving lives, and protecting one-self from harm? ...or did this study (meta-analysis) conveniently close its eyes to this part?

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by Belindi » March 20th, 2019, 4:22 pm

It depends upon who one is. If I advertised that I had a gun and was not afraid to use it people would assume that I was mad so I'd be less safe. If a policeman advertised that he had a gun and was not afraid to use it he would be safer from sane violent people . If a youth owned gun and was not afraid to use it he would be recruited into a gang then he would get himself killed. Soldiers are often safer if they are armed with guns. Nations are safer if they own guns .

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by LuckyR » March 20th, 2019, 4:37 pm

RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 3:46 pm
3uGHZD4MLj wrote:ok, I've looked around a little, I'm not going to bother listing sources and results, but I can see that you're less safe with a gun in the house, period.
If you let people know (e.g. put a sign in your window) that you have a gun in the house ("and are not afraid to use it!"), then wouldn't this make you "safer", especially so in some neighborhoods? ...and if you don't have a gun (and the bad guys know it) then doesn't this make you "less safe"?

Scott wrote:It should not really be looking at the aspects of gun ownership that lead to the result but just be looking at the net results (i.e. what percentage of gun owners were injured or killed over a certain timeframe versus what percentage of non-gun-owners were injured or killed over the same timeframe).
This is not a fair assessment of gunowner safety ("safer or less safe"). ...how about the percentage of gun owners who were NOT injured or killed (because they owned a gun)?

If you ONLY look at the injuries and deaths (i.e. the 'bad' stuff associated with gun ownership), and refuse to look at the 'good' stuff associated with gun ownership, then your conclusion will ALWAYS be "less safe"! ...which makes the 'one-sided' study/analysis wholly 'invalid' for determining "safer or less safe".
Reasonable questions about admittedly less important (statistically) issues. Broadcasting gun ownership theoretically could lower the chance of home invasion, though since that is incredibly rare and since criminals never plan on getting caught in the act, the chance of such an effect, even if true, which is far from proven, moving the needle much on overall stats likely puts the issue in the insignificant category.

What is not in doubt is that guns are a prime target for burglars because of their high resale value, so I would think twice about a yard sign broadcasting my guns.

Fact is that increased suicide lethality and accidents push gun ownership clearly into the more dangerous side overall, though as I mentioned suicide is not evenly distributed so for certain populations the effect will be smaller (predominantly gun accidents). Remember for the purposes of this thread community effects are not being taken into consideration.

The number of crimes actually thwarted by waving one's gun in the face of a criminal is infinitesimally small though the number of crimes that don't even happen due to gun ownership are difficult to quantify, though since crime morbidity is much, much smaller than that of suicide makes it more of a hopeful rationalization.
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 20th, 2019, 5:02 pm

Hey all, my point is simply this:
1. If you only look at the bad (unsafe) stuff associated with gun ownership, then the conclusion will naturally be "less safe".
2. And if you only look at the good (safe) stuff associated with gun ownership, then the conclusion will naturally be "safer".

Another way to say it:
1. If you compare the 'bad' stuff of gunowners to non-gunowners, then gun owners are "less safe".
2. And if you compare the 'good' stuff of gunowners to non-gunowners, then gun owners are "safer".

So if we wish to statistically determine if gun ownership is truly "safer" or "less safe" (to the gun owner), then we need the statistics on BOTH sides of the equation. Otherwise the conclusion is bogus.

Scott wrote:...what percentage of gun owners were injured or killed over a certain timeframe versus what percentage of non-gun-owners were injured or killed over the same timeframe...
This is view #1. It only compares the 'bad' ("injured or killed") of gun ownership to non-gunowners. It excludes the 'good' of gun ownership to non-gunowners. Therefore the conclusion of "less safe" (based on this one-sided set of statistics) is invalid.

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by LuckyR » March 20th, 2019, 5:25 pm

So who is only citing one set of data?
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 20th, 2019, 5:36 pm

LuckyR wrote:So who is only citing one set of data?
Scott's words --- "Here is the official conclusion of the meta-analysis: "Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide."" --- which is in reference to https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1814

...which is only view #1 !!

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by LuckyR » March 20th, 2019, 5:57 pm

RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 5:36 pm
LuckyR wrote:So who is only citing one set of data?
Scott's words --- "Here is the official conclusion of the meta-analysis: "Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide."" --- which is in reference to https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1814

...which is only view #1 !!
Did you read the article? Compiling overall data on homicide risk between gun owners vs non gun owners takes into account any homicide prevention attributed to the protection afforded by the gun, thus the overall increase in homicide overwhems the protective effect (if any) of guns.

So I guess no one is citing one sided data.
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 20th, 2019, 9:00 pm

RJG wrote:1. If you compare the 'bad' stuff of gunowners to non-gunowners, then gun owners are "less safe".
2. And if you compare the 'good' stuff of gunowners to non-gunowners, then gun owners are "safer".

So if we wish to statistically determine if gun ownership is truly "safer" or "less safe" (to the gun owner), then we need the statistics on BOTH sides of the equation. Otherwise the conclusion is bogus.
LuckyR wrote:Did you read the article? Compiling overall data on homicide risk between gun owners vs non gun owners takes into account any homicide prevention attributed to the protection afforded by the gun, thus the overall increase in homicide overwhems the protective effect (if any) of guns.

So I guess no one is citing one sided data.
Lucky, I re-read this and I only see ONE-SIDED here. I could find NO DATA showing the 'good' stuff (the lives saved), this study only looks at the 'bad' stuff (the lives lost) of being a gun owner. This study focuses only on 'dead' gun owners, not 'live' gun owners.

Again, if we wish to determine if gun ownership is truly "safer" or "less safe" (to the gun owner), then we need to look at BOTH sides of the equation. Otherwise the conclusion is biased, and non-valid.

Bottom-line: Having access to guns can be 'bad' (unsafe) AND it can be 'good' (safe). Those conclusions based on studies that focus ONLY on the 'bad' (or ONLY on the 'good') should not be trusted as valid for determining the safety of gun owners.

Belindi wrote:It depends upon who one is. If I advertised that I had a gun and was not afraid to use it people would assume that I was mad so I'd be less safe. If a policeman advertised that he had a gun and was not afraid to use it he would be safer from sane violent people . If a youth owned gun and was not afraid to use it he would be recruited into a gang then he would get himself killed. Soldiers are often safer if they are armed with guns. Nations are safer if they own guns.
As always, you make very good points here.

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by LuckyR » March 20th, 2019, 9:45 pm

RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 9:00 pm
RJG wrote:1. If you compare the 'bad' stuff of gunowners to non-gunowners, then gun owners are "less safe".
2. And if you compare the 'good' stuff of gunowners to non-gunowners, then gun owners are "safer".

So if we wish to statistically determine if gun ownership is truly "safer" or "less safe" (to the gun owner), then we need the statistics on BOTH sides of the equation. Otherwise the conclusion is bogus.
LuckyR wrote:Did you read the article? Compiling overall data on homicide risk between gun owners vs non gun owners takes into account any homicide prevention attributed to the protection afforded by the gun, thus the overall increase in homicide overwhems the protective effect (if any) of guns.

So I guess no one is citing one sided data.
Lucky, I re-read this and I only see ONE-SIDED here. I could find NO DATA showing the 'good' stuff (the lives saved), this study only looks at the 'bad' stuff (the lives lost) of being a gun owner. This study focuses only on 'dead' gun owners, not 'live' gun owners.

Again, if we wish to determine if gun ownership is truly "safer" or "less safe" (to the gun owner), then we to look at BOTH sides of the equation. Otherwise the conclusion is biased, and non-valid.

Bottom-line: Having access to guns can be 'bad' (unsafe) AND it can be 'good' (safe). Those conclusions based on studies that focus ONLY on the 'bad' (or ONLY on the 'good') should not be trusted as valid for determining the safety of gun owners.
Perhaps the article was too technical or I was too confusing in my commentary.

One potential "good" of gun ownership would be to scare off potential evildoers/murderers, another would be to not be chosen as a victim by evildoers, because of the criminal choosing easier prey/victims. These "good" effects WOULD be captured by the homicide data ie the homicide stat should be lower among gun owners IF the effect existed at all AND if it outweighed the "bad" effect of gun ownership.

To be honest the problem with the study isn't the argument you are trying to make, it's that perhaps gun owners as a group are more vulnerable to violence (by geography, economics or culture) which is the reason they choose to own guns, thus their guns are a marker for murder, not the cause.
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 20th, 2019, 10:58 pm

LuckyR wrote:One potential "good" of gun ownership would be to scare off potential evildoers/murderers, another would be to not be chosen as a victim by evildoers, because of the criminal choosing easier prey/victims. These "good" effects WOULD be captured by the homicide data ie the homicide stat should be lower among gun owners IF the effect existed at all AND if it outweighed the "bad" effect of gun ownership.
Yes, but we don't know the total of 'good' effects versus 'bad' effects of gun ownership, so as to then ascertain if it is 'good' or 'bad' (safe or not-safe) to be a gun owner. We are only told of the 'bad' effects here.

LuckyR wrote:To be honest the problem with the study isn't the argument you are trying to make, it's that perhaps gun owners as a group are more vulnerable to violence (by geography, economics or culture) which is the reason they choose to own guns, thus their guns are a marker for murder, not the cause.
Good point. I can't disagree with you. And as Belindi also pointed out, it depends "who" these gun owners are. If the gun owner is a bad guy, a thug, or gang member, then they will have a higher likelihood of owning a gun and also a higher chance of being a homicide victim. But if you live in a small rural Texas town as I do, then 80% + of us own at least one gun, with all of us still alive, and without being a homicide victim. So gun ownership in our town keeps us all very safe (no one wants to mess with us that carry guns).

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by Scott » March 21st, 2019, 9:27 am

RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 3:46 pm
Scott wrote:It should not really be looking at the aspects of gun ownership that lead to the result but just be looking at the net results (i.e. what percentage of gun owners were injured or killed over a certain timeframe versus what percentage of non-gun-owners were injured or killed over the same timeframe).
This is not a fair assessment of gunowner safety ("safer or less safe"). ...how about the percentage of gun owners who were NOT injured or killed (because they owned a gun)?

If you ONLY look at the injuries and deaths (i.e. ONLY the 'bad' stuff associated with gun ownership), and refuse to look at the 'good' stuff associated with gun ownership, then your conclusion will ALWAYS be "less safe"! ...which makes this 'one-sided' study/analysis wholly 'invalid' (aka "totally bogus") for determining "safer or less safe".
Those are two sides of the same coin. The percentage not injured or killed is 100% minus the percentage that were injured or killed.


RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 3:46 pm
Scott wrote:Here is the official conclusion of the meta-analysis:"Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide."
Is this same "access to firearms" ALSO responsible for and associated with saving lives, and protecting one-self from harm?
Sometimes access to firearms saves the owner's life; sometimes access to firearms does the opposite. Nobody is denying it does both. That was a given, explicitly stated long ago in this topic. The titular question is simply regarding the total net effect.

Please see these following comments of mine from the fourth post in this topic right on the first page which, where I was responding to someone who was making the opposite point as you but thus was off the question for the same reason as your valid points are off the actual question at hand:
Scott wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 10:20 am
Your example only demonstrates what is already a given. The question is about the sum statistical net effect (i.e. the net consequential result when all the ways gun ownership make the owner safer are weighed statistically with all the ways gun ownership makes the owner less safe).
---
RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 3:46 pm
...or did this study (meta-analysis) conveniently close its eyes to this part?
I have no idea what your question means. I literally don't understand the meaning of your sentence. Nonetheless, here is the link to the meta-analysis in question: https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1814 ... systematic

RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 5:36 pm
LuckyR wrote:So who is only citing one set of data?
Scott's words --- "Here is the official conclusion of the meta-analysis: "Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide."" --- which is in reference to https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1814

...which is only view #1 !!
I didn't provide that source/link. Another member did earlier in the topic, and I replied that I believe that link is the most convincing piece of credible evidence in regard to the titular question provided in this topic so far. Thus, based on that piece of evidence, my belief regarding the answer to the titular question has changed based on that evidence. Should more convincing credible counter-evidence be provided, I would of course change my tentative conclusion.

RJG wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 5:02 pm
Scott wrote:...what percentage of gun owners were injured or killed over a certain timeframe versus what percentage of non-gun-owners were injured or killed over the same timeframe...
This is view #1. It only compares the 'bad' ("injured or killed") of gun ownership to non-gunowners. It excludes the 'good' of gun ownership to non-gunowners. Therefore the conclusion of "less safe" (based on this one-sided set of statistics) is invalid.
No, it doesn't exclude the good stuff. If the frequency with which gun owners lives are saved due to their gun ownership is higher than the frequency with which they are killed due to their gun ownership, then the net effect will show that. The net effect shows both. Hence the word net. The titular questions asks for both (i.e. the net effect).
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 21st, 2019, 10:02 am

Scott wrote:Those are two sides of the same coin. The percentage not injured or killed is 100% minus the percentage that were injured or killed.
You are missing the point. You are only comparing those killed or injured to those not killed/injured. How many people are alive (and not injured) today because they owned guns?

Guns can 'kill' people and guns can 'save' people. BOTH of these! Focusing only on the 'killing' part does not tell you how many people were 'saved'. You can't claim that guns are safer or less safe without knowing which number is greater; the 'killing of lives' or the 'saving of lives'.

Scott wrote:Sometimes access to firearms saves the owner's life; sometimes access to firearms does the opposite. Nobody is denying it does both. That was a given, explicitly stated long ago in this topic. The titular question is simply regarding the total net effect.
Yes, agreed! But, to calculate the "total net effect", you also need to know how many were 'saved or non-injured' because of guns. You are only accounting for the people killed/injured, and neglecting those saved/not-injured.

You cannot calculate "net effect" with only one variable (or one-side of the equation).

RJG wrote:This is view #1. It only compares the 'bad' ("injured or killed") of gun ownership to non-gunowners. It excludes the 'good' of gun ownership to non-gunowners. Therefore the conclusion of "less safe" (based on this one-sided set of statistics) is invalid.
Scott wrote:If the frequency with which gun owners lives are saved due to their gun ownership is higher than the frequency with which they are killed due to their gun ownership, then the net effect will show that.
Agreed. But we first need to know the 'good' and the 'bad' numbers to determine the 'net' effect. Note: the good number does NOT equal the total number minus the bad number. For example, if we have 100 gun owners, and 10 were killed by gunownership, and 8 were saved by gunownership then the net effect is that "gunownership" is "less safe" by a factor of 2%.

Again, we can't determine the "net effect" until we know BOTH sides of the equation. This study (meta-analysis) that you reference, only looks at one side; the bad.

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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by Scott » March 21st, 2019, 10:33 am

Scott (in post #4) wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 10:20 am
The question is about the sum statistical net effect (i.e. the net consequential result when all the ways gun ownership make the owner safer are weighed statistically with all the ways gun ownership makes the owner less safe).
RJG wrote:
March 21st, 2019, 10:02 am
Scott wrote:Sometimes access to firearms saves the owner's life; sometimes access to firearms does the opposite. Nobody is denying it does both. That was a given, explicitly stated long ago in this topic. The titular question is simply regarding the total net effect.
Yes, agreed! But, to calculate the "total net effect", you also need to know how many were 'saved or non-injured' because of guns. You are only accounting for the people killed/injured, and neglecting those saved/not-injured.

You cannot calculate "net effect" with only one variable (or one-side of the equation).
I am not calculating only one side. I am not asking people to calculate only one side. I have no idea how a person even could calculate one side.

I am not only accounting the people killed/injured by guns.

Rather, we are including in the calculation all four of the following:

(1) non-gunowners who were killed or injured (e.g. those who may have been killed or injured because they didn't have guns in the sense that they would have been saved from their death or injury if they had a gun)
(2) non-gunowners who were not killed or injured
(3) gunowners who were killed or injured
(4) gunowners who were not killed or injured (e.g. who may have been saved from death or injury as a result of their gun ownership)

#1 + #2 = 100% of non-gunowners

#3 + #4 = 100% of gunowners

#1 + #2 + #3 + #4 = 100% of people

When I ask for the net effect, it necessarily entails calculating all four of those.

Any study is going to have flaws or limitations. But the flaw or limitations you are mentioning are not flaws or limitations in my question and are not the flaws or limitations in the study provided by another member as evidence of an answer to my question. So far in my opinion that particular meta-analysis is so far the most convincing credible piece of evidence that has been provided so far in this forum topic. (Emphasis of the phrase so far intentional.)
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the gunowner safer or less safe?

Post by Beyondthecave » March 21st, 2019, 10:35 am

@RJG wrote
But if you live in a small rural Texas town as I do, then 80% + of us own at least one gun, with all of us still alive, and without being a homicide victim. So gun ownership in our town keeps us all very safe (no one wants to mess with us that carry guns).
You may believe high gun ownership rates in the town make all of the people in the town safer. I do not. If we are rational, we should be able to rationally resolve the dispute by looking at the data. I provided that data in my prior two posts. @Teralek also cited a wealth of data. The data show that higher gun ownership rates correlate with higher homicide and suicide death rates. People are generally less safe when factors are present that correlate with higher death rates.
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Re: Gun Control Series Q1 -- Does gun ownership make the GUNOWNER safer or less safe?

Post by RJG » March 21st, 2019, 11:57 am

Scott wrote:Rather, we are including in the calculation all four of the following:

(1) non-gunowners who were killed or injured (e.g. those who may have been killed or injured because they didn't have guns in the sense that they would have been saved from their death or injury if they had a gun)
(2) non-gunowners who were not killed or injured
(3) gunowners who were killed or injured
(4) gunowners who were not killed or injured (e.g. who may have been saved from death or injury as a result of their gun ownership)

#1 + #2 = 100% of non-gunowners

#3 + #4 = 100% of gunowners

#1 + #2 + #3 + #4 = 100% of people

When I ask for the net effect, it necessarily entails calculating all four of those.
What do "non-gunowners" have to do with anything??? --- What do bananas (non-apples) have to with the 'color' (green or redness) of apples?!!! (i.e. "What do non-gunowners have to do with the 'safety' (safer or less safe) of gunowners?")

Note: If you are interested in the 'safety' of "non-gunowners" or of the "whole bowl of fruit", then you need to change your topic question accordingly.

Beyondthecave wrote:You may believe high gun ownership rates in the town make all of the people in the town safer. I do not. If we are rational, we should be able to rationally resolve the dispute by looking at the data. I provided that data in my prior two posts. @Teralek also cited a wealth of data. The data show that higher gun ownership rates correlate with higher homicide and suicide death rates. People are generally less safe when factors are present that correlate with higher death rates.
Yes, but unfortunately this "wealth of data" only shows the death rates and the 'bad' stuff. It only shows the 'cons' (the bad). And if we wish to rationally determine if guns are good or bad, then we need to compare the good with the bad; the 'pros' with the 'cons'. ...for a one-sided singular view of the 'bad', ALWAYS looks bad!

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