Gun Control Won’t Make Mass Shootings Less Likely to Happen, Academic Says

  • Affirmative Argument Week 3

By: Joseph Ng

An article by Christopher Goins titled, “Gun Control Won’t Make Mass Shootings Less Likely to Happen, Academic Says,” contains support from author John Lott who wrote “More Guns, Less Crime,” that debunks common beliefs concerning gun control. Too often people are quick to blame the presence of guns for the violence and mass shootings that occur through the United States. Goins and Lott address popular issues and explain why it is not necessarily the guns that people should be worried about, but rather how people are using them. A lot of arguments have appeared since the shooting in Aurora, Colorado in a movie theater. First, the movie theater had a “no guns allowed” policy. However, this did not stop the act of violence and Lott argues that regulations and rules “actually make them (mass shootings} more likely to happen. They don’t stop those events from occurring.”

The main argument of the article is what Lott just mentioned. There is belief that more strict gun regulations and rules on guns may make mass shootings more likely to happen. Goins and Lott explain that gun control is not the answer. Lott continues to explain that “laws that restrict gun ownership do nothing to deter someone who’s decided to fire on fellow citizens,” rather it was already pre-meditated or a decision was made before they opened fire.

The next argument states that even if a location is a gun-free zone, it will not stop the shooter from breaking the law. Almost all cases of public shootings have taken place where concealed handguns are not allowed. It is publicly known that carrying a gun around, even a handgun, if you are not a police officer is seen as deviant behavior, as in it is not commonly acceptable. However, when someone makes the decision to shoot innocent citizens, they have taken their place as a law-abiding citizen out of the equation.

Later, Lott explains that any argument that makes guns bad and easier for people to kill others, there is an argument for people to use guns for self-defense. The counter to ban all semi-automatic weapons is that they can benefit someone who needs to defend themselves. In relation to self defense, there is an issue with killings occurring in a gunowner’s home which comes from the claim that guns are more likely to end up killing someone you know. Lott picks apart this argument by recognizing that “if you own a gun in the home and you died from a gunshot that it was that gun that was used in the death.” The data shows that the majority of killings occurring in a home have occurred from weapons being brought from the outside.

Another argument is guns being used as part of suicide attempts. Lott provides statistics that “14 percent of the deaths that were being attributed to guns being in the home could actually be attributed to those guns in the home” the remaining 86 percent were from weapons brought from outside. Instead of looking at each scenario on a larger scale, it is important to observe each situation as its own. As a whole, guns look bad because of acts of violence and crime, but each situation is different.

The final topic that Lott argues is the ease of obtaining guns and using them to kill other people. Lott claims that the “cities that have the highest murder rates, they are the ones that tend to adopt the strictest gun control laws.” This statement piggybacks  off the idea that most crime involving guns happens from a weapon that is brought from the outside.

While this article did not provide many statistics, it gave a new perspective and outlook on gun control. Lott’s explanation and counter arguments to gun control emphasized how important it is to look at the individual situation rather than gun violence as a whole. The media portrays guns as the problem, but Goins and Lott target the individuals who commit the crimes and create the mayhem of mass shootings. If someone is willing to murder others, the law does not register in their mind.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/gun-control-won-t-make-mass-shootings-less-likely-happen-academic-says

Increased Guns, Less Violence

By: Mona Zaini

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation?page=1

Graph from Motherjones.com

This Mother Jones article attempts to correlate the increasing amount of guns in the United States with an increasing number of mass-shooting victims annually.  The trend in the chart is immediately noticeable but also obvious is the bold inclusion of famous mass shootings that have happened within the past 8 years(Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Virginia Tech) and one from 15 years ago (Columbine). Conspicuous reminders of notable mass shootings from 1982 to 1998, an additional 16 years, are intentionally left off the chart.  In 1991, 23 people were shot and killed in a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. In 1984, 21 people(including five children) in a California Mcdonalds. Several other shootings are never mentioned, despite having more victims than Columbine.

Another problem with the article is that it fails to account for differences in population. In 1982, when the graph begins, the population of the US was roughly 230,000,000; in 2012, it was around 313,000,000. Of course more people would equate to more shooters and naturally, more victims. But even those conclusions are not cohesive—in 1984, there were around 28 mass murder victims, this is even more than the 18 victims seen in 2011 despite a substantial increase in population. 2012 is an outlier with nearly 80 fatalities and skews the appearance of the trend in the graph. I’m not denying that a slight increase can be seen regardless of that end-year, however when considering the total population increase, the inconsistent data (1999 had over 40 victims, yet the subsequent five years have astonishingly low victim counts), the use of numerical victims instead of rates, and the unusual addition of injuries to obscure results, the articles argument comes off as a bit far-fetched. The questionable nature of the trend is even further reinforced when considering homicide rates over the years. In 1982, the homicide rate was 9.1; in 2012, it was 4.7. With these statistics, a legitimate trend contradicts the dubious trend in the Mother Jones article—the rate of homicides is steadily dropping each decade, despite an increasing number of guns.

The biased article makes outlandish claims that there will soon be significantly more guns in the US than people. The article tries blame “Republican-controlled statehouses” for allowing people to carry concealed weapons, suggesting that this somehow could be responsible for mass shootings. People aren’t “allowed” to murder, yet they do it anyway. Someone who has the intent to murder innocent people is not worried about the legality of carrying a concealed weapon. Again, there is little correlation. Republican states with relaxed gun laws do not necessarily have the most mass murders. California, a Democratic state, has had an overwhelming amount of mass shootings. Similarly, the New England states from New York to Maine have had a substantial amount of mass shootings, despite being largely Democratic. Republican states such as Louisiana and Alabama have never had a mass shooting.

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This article has some decent points yet falls short at proving the supposed trends beyond coincidence. Perhaps more guns could mean more murders, however it is likely that if a shooter wanted to acquire a gun, they will do so(and have done so) irrespective of the abundance of guns. The fact remains that majority of the guns in the country do not get used for mass shootings or even murders and that mass shootings have been committed regardless of firearm abundance and laws.

Additional sources:

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

http://myfox8.com/2014/08/29/26-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-us-history/

Constitutionality of Firearms / Causation and Correlation

Constitutionality of Firearms

Affirmative Argument Week 1

By Andrew Zuckerman

During the wee hours of Sunday, October 19, 2014 as the University of Maryland was wrapping up its Homecoming festivities at the McDonalds along Baltimore Ave, a stone throw away from the main campus,  a fight broke out on the counter. As the altercation escalated into a full on brawl, the security guard at the location faced significant danger and was forcefully put to the ground by the gang of men. Needing to react quickly the security drew his weapon and fired a shot. But it he hit a bystander, the brawl in the McDonalds ended swiftly prior to any further escalation. Though a side debate can be made over the urgency to give this particular security guard a weapon when he missed his intended target, that is not part of the debate at hand. Rather the need for the security guard at a McDonalds to posse, possibly even own, a weapon in response to the environment of where he works to protect himself is vital. He had a gun for the constitutional rights previously mentioned, being necessary to protect the patrons of the McDonalds from harm and provide them a safe atmosphere. In response to the incident the three individuals he clashed with have been charged with disorderly conduct with one of them, Clarence Kirksey-Walcott, also being charged with second-degree assault. Yet at this moment no charges have been filed against the security guard for his actions that night.

mcdonalds sign

This example though may seem foolish to have taken place in a McDonalds compared to the general theme of protection of the public from major enemies, is a clear and present reason for the ownership and possession of firearms by individuals, be it police officers, security guards, or common Americans, to insure, provide, and secure justice, domestic tranquility, defense, general welfare, and liberty for the public of the U.S. from immoral and plainly rotten people of society.

While every debate over firearms in the country brings up the Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms as a basis for the necessity of guns more so the U.S. Constitution provides an overall document for needing some type of weapon.  The constitution preamble states “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. Important in that highly quoted text is the ability to insure, provide, and secure, all words associated with the need for protection by the people to ensure they live blissfully under the banner of the United States of America.

Even though any astute person can provide numerous reasons for the necessity of gun control laws, these same measures need not infringe upon the Constitutional rights of the people just because a small percentage of bad apples in this country have taken it upon themselves to act villainously with machines designed to provide for the safety and livelihood of the public. The demand for personal gun ownership is such that those same villains need to be stopped if they infringe upon the righteous and moral classes of America.

For the basis of gun ownership played a major role in forming the country where as a well regulated militia of the people for the protection of the country brought about stability and respect within the world powers. Ownership of guns in the U.S. harps back to the first Europeans arriving on the Atlantic Coast and has been a steady part of society ever since. From providing protection on the Western Frontier from outlaws and Native American attacks to the security of city dwellers guns have played an important role in American history. Though it may seem like a rigid example for the common thought of a split country, when the South went to war, many in the Confederacy’s standing army and local states’ militia used their own firearms to defend their home. For this the only reason why the Confederacy was able to stand for how long as it did was for their prior inclusion under the U.S. Constitution and Second Amendment. Thus because for the safety and protection provided by personal gun ownership the American Way and Constitution providing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all has not been trampled or driven out after 237 years of existence and will be steadfast for centuries to come.

Annotated Citations:

The sources used in this blog post have a direct correlation to the second amendment. The second amendment is for the protection of the American people because it gives them the right of defense. 

“Preamble.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/preamble&gt;.

The preamble of the constitution is the foundation in which America’s rights stem from. The second amendment is the ‘right to bear arms’. 

Snow, Jeremy. “Three Men Charged with Disorderly Conduct after McDonald’s Shooting.” The Diamondback. The Diamonback, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <http://www.diamondbackonline.com/news/article_79463358-58cb-11e4-8ada-001a4bcf6878.html&gt;.

The local example of the accident in McDonald in which a security guard was attacked and accidentally shot a bystander is an example of how guns should continue to be allowed for self defense in public even though accidents can happen. 

Civil War Trust. “Small Arms of the Civil War.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/warfare-and-logistics/warfare/smallarms.html&gt;.

The right to bear arms has been imprinted in the American culture since the colonization. Without the use of arms in previous decades the way of life would have been impaired and the ability of prosper as a nation and people would have been impeded. 

Causation and Correlation 

Critique/Refutation Week 1

by: Mona Zaini

The Boston Globe has an article titled “The Gun Toll we’re ignoring: suicide“.  The article takes a different approach at advocating for gun control in case murder statistics were not enough. The statistics in this article show that states with more guns have more suicides, however I would disagree that the two correlations are directly causational. The article admits that there is no evidence proving that gun owners are more likely to commit suicide however the trend can be explained. Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming appear to have the highest suicide rates, and yes, more than 50% of the households contain guns,  but there is no evidence to prove that suicides result from this.

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Instead, the high rate of suicide may stem from a sense of isolation. All three states are under-populated and frankly, depressing because of it. Similarly, the same isolation would encourage households to own a gun, because if there are no other houses within a mile or yours, and the closest police station is fifteen miles away, you’re going to want to protect yourself with a firearm. Hawaii displays a low ownership of guns yet has a high suicide rate, which would only enforce the theory of isolation. In fact, most of the high-suicide states could also be considered isolated states(West Virginia, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, etc). States such as New York, New Jersey, and California would generally be considered among the least isolated states and consequentially have very low suicide rates(as well as less of a need for a firearm in the home). As a result of having a gun accessible, people hailing from the isolated high-suicide rate states may be more likely to commit suicide with a gun. In Montana, 66% of suicides used firearms.

It is the sad truth that those who attempt suicide with a firearm are much more likely to succeed than by any other method. It is not to say, however, that there would be significantly less suicide attempts if guns were not abundant in these states, there would perhaps be less successes. Hawaii has one of the highest suicide attempt rates, greatly outnumbering Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming. It’s just that most people in Hawaii aren’t likely to succeed—for every 1 suicide death, there are 27 attempts. The lesson should be to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, not out of the hands of everyone else. The only real conclusion I can gather from this article is that people who live in isolated areas are more likely to own guns to protect themselves from danger and those same people are depressed and suicidal over their isolated situation. Conversely, states with dense populations are more likely to have gun murders than suicides(think inner city). The District of Columbia overwhelming has the highest rate of firearm deaths, a distant second would be Maryland. Both of these states have relatively low gun-suicide rates.

The people who are committing suicide with firearms vary greatly from those who use firearms to commit murder. Suicide is more common in isolated areas while murder is more common in densely populated areas.

Each gun represents 100 deaths by firearm in 2010.

Citation:

Neyfakh, Leon. “The Gun Toll We’re Ignoring: Suicide – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. The Boston Globe, 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/01/20/the-gun-toll-ignoring-suicide/xeWBHDHEvvagfkRlU3CfZJ/story.html&gt;.

Additional sources in favor of the second amendment and how it should continue to be enacted in today’s society.

 NRA Video, “Commentators Ep. 100: “Our Founding Fathers Weren’t Stupid” With Billy Johnson”. 

This NRA video comments on how guns and technology should not not hinder the second amendment. 

John R. Lott Jr, More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws  

Do guns increase crime, or is it just a myth?

One of the best 2nd amendment gun speech

This video shows the reaction of a veteran and the implementation of regulations on guns.

Suicide Prevention

If you are thinking of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1800-273-8255