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Old 21st December 2012, 06:36 PM   #1
383LQ4SS
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A different discussion regarding gun control and mass shooting in the US

There are plenty of threads dealing with the recent shootings. There are plenty of threads dealing with gun control. This thread is from a different angle regarding how policy changes in a civilized society are tracked for effectiveness.

Please bear with me...I am trying to get this idea out with an economy of words.

What are the parameters or areas that could be adjusted to have an affect on gun violence and mass shootings and overall body count? I will name a few obvious ones but I am sure others will add more.

1) Sheer number of guns in circulation
2) gun law and policy (who can buy, what type, etc)
3) mental illness (this could be seperated out into many subgroups such as how much help is available, social stigma, rights and ability of doctors to take action, etc etc)
4) security in areas such as schools and malls
5) Arming people in critical areas such as teachers, pilots, and general security
6) increased concealed carry presence of citizens
7) add more......

In this thought experiment I view all of the above parameters as settings on a scale that could be altered. I picture a mixing board used in mixing music using dials or slides that can be adjusted to zero...or full scale.
Take parameter #1 for instance. At the moment that parameter is turned up very very high. As a result there are probably as many guns as people in the US. Also as a result..practically anyone who wants a gun can get a gun. Legally or otherwise. One effect of this is it allows anyone who wants to take their own personal security in their own hands to do so. Successful defense of would be criminals and murderers does happen. At the same time it makes guns readily available to the mentally ill and criminals. As a result tragedies like the recent shootings happen. The number of guns also has other more vague and less talked about effects. Systematic govt oppression is probably less likely with so many guns in the hands of the people. Sure there is no threat of that currently and no reason to think there would be in the foreseeable future. But it can not be ruled out completely. Certain people do hold ideas like this as valid and important to them. Again there are probably many other things to consider.

The initial point I am trying to make is that each of the settings of the dials outlined above could be easily moved to maximize the reduction in gun violence....but it would be at the expense of other factors. Some of those factors are deemed very important to many people.
If in our fantasy land you take dial #1 to zero...you have in fact reduced individual freedom. But likely saved many many innocent lives. But in fact you may have actually taken the lives of others who would have successfully defended themselves by use of a gun. This entire idea of adjusting these dials is in some ways a moral dilemma. Clearly, adjusting these dials is not linear but it does appear to be somewhat of a zero sum. If you move a dial to affect outcome A it will undoubtedly affect outcome B.

Now on to the final question and the crux of this post. Is it possible that we as a society may have ALL of the dials and parameters set on our imaginary mixing board as to maximize the outcome for all involved....and have no idea that you are in this "best case" position as a society?

In other words....we as a country/society could have all the laws, regulations, resources set at a place that provides "best possible outcome" and we will still have mass killings. And when we have mass killing people will still scream out for change....yet any actual change from current parameters would only worsen the scenario as a whole. In principle we could get there. In practice....there will be no way, that I can see, to know you are at bottom?

Now please dont attack me and say I am against any changes or that I am claiming we are currently in a best case scenario. Obviously we are not. We have to make some changes. All I am saying is that the total of all parameters should be taken into consideration. Body count is not the sole consideration. And as we make these changes....we should be very very cautious and limit reactionary changes.

Will we as a society ever be able to gauge and adjust our position accurately? or are we doomed to a sine wave of "better/worse" reactionary policy?
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Old 21st December 2012, 07:03 PM   #2
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Set 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 aside for the time being, work to resolve the economic disparity, and get rid of the war on drugs.
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Old 21st December 2012, 07:20 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
Set 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 aside for the time being, work to resolve the economic disparity, and get rid of the war on drugs.
Apparently Drugs have been winning that "war", and the "War on poverty" has become a "War on the Poor".
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Old 22nd December 2012, 09:26 PM   #4
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Too many threads on this already.

Is this really necessary?

Joe, the war on stupid isn't going well either.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 09:41 PM   #5
Delvo
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Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
1) Sheer number of guns in circulation
This is the part that's often presented as impossible to change, but I put it on my list of things the government hasn't succeeded in because it hasn't tried hard enough (or at all). It would just need to be tackled in more than one way.
1. Ban or severely restrict manufacture & sale other than to police and military services.
2. Offer buy-backs, and trade-ins for stun-guns or mace
3. Restrict quantity of guns that an individual is allowed to own (which is not a ban)
4. Make ownership of guns above and beyond what you're allowed a crime with severe enough penalties to give owners an incentive to turn them in; no, this doesn't mean searching people's properties without cause to try to find every single one in the country immediately, but it does mean keeping & destroying them when they're found during searches for other causes and prosecuting their owners
5. Disallow gun ownership by not only felons (who already aren't allowed to own them), but also certain kinds of mental patients, possibly those who are convicted of some kinds of misdemeanors, and other people who live with them; confiscate & destroy any found on whatever occasions they are found, and prosecute the owners; also consider periodic searches of the property of people serving a period of probation, house arrest, or such for felonies
6. At any "busts" of criminal enterprises, even those that aren't for gun crimes, such as sweatshops, drug dealing, human trafficking, and money laundering, confiscate and destroy the organizations' guns

Anti-gun-control people will point out that once such a set of policies are enacted, the guns won't immediately disappear. But that will be engagement in the fallacy that anything less than immediate 100% disappearance is not progress, and in real life the number of them that are present will go down, year after year.

Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
3) mental illness (this could be seperated out into many subgroups such as how much help is available, social stigma, rights and ability of doctors to take action, etc etc)
Keeping guns out of the hands of people with certain conditions, I would support. But we don't even know of a way to predict which individuals with any given mental condition will become truly dangerous and which ones won't, so we're nowhere near being able to cure them to prevent it. Until that changes, prevention would need to be done not by psychiatric/psychological methods but by just keeping the weapons away from them.

Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
4) security in areas such as schools and malls
Not particularly effective for the added cost and creation of new kinds of risk

Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
5) Arming people in critical areas such as teachers, pilots...
Even worse. People whose primary job doesn't involve use of guns will mostly not have the necessary training & practice in their use, or the necessary combination of mental readiness to use them when they should and restraint when they shouldn't. Those issues are already difficult enough in police forces, where dealing with them is everybody's full time job. This work is not for amateurs.

Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
6) increased concealed carry presence of citizens
Only if there are a significant supply of people who possess the right abilities & mindset but have for some reason been rejected for permits before. I suspect that rather few people fit that description.

Last edited by Delvo; 22nd December 2012 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 12:59 AM   #6
383LQ4SS
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I realize there are way too many threads regarding the shootings and guns and as a result maybe some of you have skimmed my post. Thats why I suppose the replies so far have dealt with the details leading up to my actual question...and not my question. Please take another look. This question could be applied to anything we as a society try to "improve". The question deals with how could we ever hope to know we are in a place where best practices are currently being utilized when the reaction to any tragedy would be exactly the same....a massive cry for change.

Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post

In other words....we as a country/society could have all the laws, regulations, resources set at a place that provides "best possible outcome" and we will still have mass killings. And when we have mass killing people will still scream out for change....yet any actual change from current parameters would only worsen the scenario as a whole. In principle we could get there. In practice....there will be no way, that I can see, to know you are at bottom?

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Old 23rd December 2012, 02:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
we as a country/society could have all the laws, regulations, resources set at a place that provides "best possible outcome" and we will still have mass killings. And when we have mass killing people will still scream out for change....yet any actual change from current parameters would only worsen the scenario as a whole. In principle we could get there. In practice....there will be no way, that I can see, to know you are at bottom?
I am not convinced of the question's premise that people would still scream for changes when we have mass killings, or even that "we still have mass killings" would be an accurate or publicly believed statement. One recent Scandinavian event dwarfs several of the perceived major ones in the USA combined, but how long had it been since the last one they had there before that? Did it make mass killings something that people there perceived their country to have if they didn't before? Was there a public outcry to change something to prevent them? A few years before that, there was one in Germany that I remember hearing German commentators describe as an American curse that the USA had somehow exported to them, so they weren't thinking of it as something inherent to Germany, and there logically can't be a not-yet-implemented German solution for something that isn't a German problem. Offhand, I can't name another such event that didn't involve a civil war or terrorists, so maybe there are countries where it just plain hasn't happened at all in living memory.

Maybe the kind of event and reaction you're talking about would happen, but I'm unaware of the evidence for it.

Anyway, if that did turn out to be the case, I don't know how it would be determined that any possible changes would only make things worse, because statistical analysis of this kind of thing seems to involve a lot of factors, some of which are still unknown.
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Old 26th December 2012, 10:19 AM   #8
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This seems to be as good a place as any to bring up this point:

People are very bad at analyzing risk. See this article: Drawing the Wrong Lessons from Horrific Events [schneier.com]

How many students aged 5 - 25 are in classes in schools and universities on any given day of the school year?

What is the risk over the course of their lifetime they will be the victim of a random mass murderer?

What is the risk over the course of their lifetime they will be killed in a vehicle/vehicle or a pedestrian/vehicle accident while going to or leaving school? (Probably considerably higher than the previous scenario.)

My point is that measures like arming teachers, adding armed guards, or building bunkers into schools is addressing the wrong problem. The measures will be expensive and likely will never be useful in the vast majority of schools in which they are implemented.

The real problems are madmen (they exist in every country in the world) with access to firearms (probably an issue in most countries of the world, regardless of their firearm laws) and a culture that seems to believe shooting people is a handy way to solve problems (most prevalent in the USA.)
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