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Shooting Rampage at Virgina Tech

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I'm glad that you feel safe, but Taiwan's murder rate is higher than the U.S.* -- although possession of a firearm in Taiwan is a capital offense. In any case, such inter-cultural comparison are strongly affected by cultural factors - such as Taiwan's homogeneous society and lesser influence of materialistic nihilism.

*Kates Article at 554 & n. 163, (citing Greenwood, supra note 13, at 7-44; Don B. Kates, Firearms and Violence: Old Premises and Current Evidence, in Violence in America 201 (Hugh D. Graham and Ted R. Gurr eds., 1989)

Wrong. Murder rate in Taiwan is actually far lower than the United States. As of the year 2000, the murder rate per 100,000 person in Taiwan is 1.17, compared to 6.32 for the United States. Granted that culture is a factor, I'm not sure if there are any actual correlation between societal homogeniety and murder rate. Many countries with higher murder per capita rate than the US have homogeneous societies (at least relative to the US). And I'm also unsure how you came up with the conclusion that Taiwan is necessarily influenced less by materialistic nihilism than the United States, how you would measure the said influence, or even how the the said influence impact murder rate.

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I think that what gun-control advocates ultimately fear is their inability to control their own actions.

I think that's a logically questionable conclusion.

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Wrong. Murder rate in Taiwan is actually far lower than the United States. As of the year 2000, the murder rate per 100,000 person in Taiwan is 1.17, compared to 6.32 for the United States.

You need to cite your source for that. I'm comparing the homicide rates, non the firearm murder rates. It's 8.12 Taiwan versus 5.17 US. http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvinco.html

Again, these statistics alone are meaningless due to cultural differences. Finland has the one of the highest firearm ownerships rates in the world - United Nations International Study on Firearm Regulation reports Finland's gun ownership rate at 50% of households. The firearm murder rate is 0.86 versus 3.72 U.S. It's 27% and 0.58 for Switzerland. By contast, N. Ireland has a 5.24 firearm murder rate and 8.4% ownership rate.

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It sure will be interesting to watch how this one is spun in the media.

I think your connections between Cho's rants and religious morality (hating the selfish, hating the wealthy, hating the asinine collegiate drinking culture, etc.) are well founded. Unfortunately, the media is not really that philosophical and will fail to make this connection. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity for philosphers to step in. Although it is probably best to wait as new developments keep on being released every few hours.

My prediction is that this atrocity will make gun control one of the biggest issues of the 2008 Presidential election. Furthermore, there will be an even greater demand (when compared to the Columbine shootings) for an explanation as to where Cho's ideas came from. Last time, this bolstered attacks on the "violent" video game industry (especially from Senator Joe Lieberman) and also on heavy metal bands, such as Rammstein.

On a side note, the most memorable of all, was Tom Delay's assessment of what caused the Columbine Shootings:

Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills.

The incredibly religious House Majority Leader could not have been anymore wrong.

That group [which is defending Cho] only has 19 members.

Unfortunately one is too many. Given the number of crazy people in the world and the extended media infamy Cho is posthumously receiving, I ruefully expect there to be a sad number of copy-cat crimes.

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Unfortunately one is too many. Given the number of crazy people in the world and the extended media infamy Cho is posthumously receiving, I ruefully expect there to be a sad number of copy-cat crimes.

I'm afraid you're going to be correct. Does anyone other than family and friends remember the names of the Columbine victims? Doubtful, yet we all know the names of the shooters, Klebold and Harris. The media have a way of assisting these scumbags by giving them the fame in death that they could never achieve legitimately in life.

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Again, these statistics alone are meaningless due to cultural differences. Finland has the one of the highest firearm ownerships rates in the world - United Nations International Study on Firearm Regulation reports Finland's gun ownership rate at 50% of households.

Do you know to what frequency individuals in Finland (or any other populous country with a large gun ownership rate and a small firearms-related homicide rate) carry their guns with them in public?

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Do you know to what frequency individuals in Finland (or any other populous country with a large gun ownership rate and a small firearms-related homicide rate) carry their guns with them in public?

I think you guys are wasting your time comparing statistics. Although I suspect that statistics pragmatically support gun ownership as a crime deterrent, the objective support for gun ownership comes from the principle that rational men must be allowed personal firearms to protect their own lives. A government with the amount of power to provide the same amount of protection for every individual as a personal firearm does is probably impossible (and certainly undesirable).

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I think you guys are wasting your time comparing statistics. Although I suspect that statistics pragmatically support gun ownership as a crime deterrent, the objective support for gun ownership comes from the principle that rational men must be allowed personal firearms to protect their own lives.

Perceiving reality is never a waste of time. I would like to know how the firearm-related homicide rate of populous nations where a significant percentage of pedestrians routinely carry guns in public, if such countries exist. The principle that rational men must be allowed personal firearms to protect their own lives is certainly not axiomatic. I would like to learn more about this issue.

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OK, try this:

http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvintl.html

I don't feel like dusting off my statistics textbook to analyze this right now, but maybe someone else does. I still think your going at this from the wrong direction although I'll have trouble articulating it correctly: basically, you can't expect to develop a principle like "the right to bear arms" by doing a cost-benefit analysis weighing the cost of an occasional accidental shooting vs. the benefit of being able to prevent the actions of future Cho Seung Huis.

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asically, you can't expect to develop a principle like "the right to bear arms" by doing a cost-benefit analysis weighing the cost of an occasional accidental shooting vs. the benefit of being able to prevent the actions of future Cho Seung Huis.

Rest assured this is not what I am trying to do.

Thanks for the link.

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OK, try this:

http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvintl.html

I don't feel like dusting off my statistics textbook to analyze this right now, but maybe someone else does. I still think your going at this from the wrong direction although I'll have trouble articulating it correctly: basically, you can't expect to develop a principle like "the right to bear arms" by doing a cost-benefit analysis weighing the cost of an occasional accidental shooting vs. the benefit of being able to prevent the actions of future Cho Seung Huis.

Yes, it's very utilitiarian and not objectivist at all. If a human has a right to life, he has a right to materially defend is life, the fire arm is the best rational tool to do that. Additionally these utlitiarian cost benefit analysis can never be accurate as they do not ever include in statistics the number of lives that were saved by deterrence from the prevalence of guns used for self defense, nor do they properly attribute the extra deaths that could likely be coming from the lack of the ability to defend one's self. While the nations with higher fire arm ownership tend to have higer handgun murder rates, in the nations with extremely strict gun laws, *every single murder could justly be attributed to the strict control itself* that is, the fact that the government has taken away the ability for a person to defend themselves is the reason why the person was attacked and subsequently killed in the first place. The cause-effect relationship between these is impossible to determine, and the tens of thousands of dettered incidences can not be tracked let alone splashed all over headlines every where.

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Greetings all,

Rocker Ted Nugent wrote a pretty good editorial on the VT incident and gun control. CNN.com published it here. My only beef with his editorial is that he presents the right to bear arms as a "self-evident truth" and a "God given right." Besides this (very important) flaw, I thought his article was dead-on.

--Dan Edge

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Rocker Ted Nugent wrote a pretty good editorial on the VT incident and gun control. CNN.com published it here. My only beef with his editorial is that he presents the right to bear arms as a "self-evident truth" and a "God given right." Besides this (very important) flaw, I thought his article was dead-on.

Thanks for sharing, Dan. That really was a good article.

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Yes, it's very utilitiarian and not objectivist at all. If a human has a right to life, he has a right to materially defend is life, the fire arm is the best rational tool to do that. Additionally these utlitiarian cost benefit analysis can never be accurate as they do not ever include in statistics the number of lives that were saved by deterrence from the prevalence of guns used for self defense, nor do they properly attribute the extra deaths that could likely be coming from the lack of the ability to defend one's self. While the nations with higher fire arm ownership tend to have higer handgun murder rates, in the nations with extremely strict gun laws, *every single murder could justly be attributed to the strict control itself* that is, the fact that the government has taken away the ability for a person to defend themselves is the reason why the person was attacked and subsequently killed in the first place. The cause-effect relationship between these is impossible to determine, and the tens of thousands of dettered incidences can not be tracked let alone splashed all over headlines every where.

You did a good job refuting the straw man of Pragmatism here, but nobody was actually advocating the use of Pragmatism to decide issues of morality and issues of politics. At this juncture, I think it is important to again remind us all the dangers of taking principles of Objectivism, such as that one should use principles and not resort to Pragmatism, as dogmatic floating abstractions instead of principles in the context of a discussion. The principle of acting on principle is not logically equivalent to “thou shalt not examine statistics.” To treat it as so, would not be Objectivist.

Perhaps this was done by an honest mistake. However, given the context of quote to which you responded, this seems to be what you are insinuating.

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DarkWaters,

I never said looking at statistics was a waste of time (in many contexts it is useful). However, I have no idea what you seek to determine by examining statistics for this issue. As long as we are in agreement that a statistical analysis isn't going to allow you to determine if men should be allowed guns (on principle), I have no problem with you calculating all the correlation coefficients you wish.

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However, I have no idea what you seek to determine by examining statistics for this issue.

I just wanted to see them.

I have no problem with you calculating all the correlation coefficients you wish.

Be that as it may, I would have a problem if you tried to employ linear regression on a sequence of heteroscedastic observations. :lol:

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Forgive another digression but I found the criminal case of Bernhard Goetz a.k.a. the New York Subway vigilante to be quite an interesting read especially given the discussion of carrying firearms as a means of self-defense.

I will do my best to summarize the situation as follows. After being mugged multiple times in New York City, Bernhard Goetz carried a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver with him at all times for self-defense. Before doing so, Mr. Goetz had prior firearms and target shooting experience. In the early afternoon of December 22, 1984, four young menacing men surrounded Mr. Goetz on a Subway car, two of which were deliberately blocking his path to the exists. One of the men demanded that Bernhard "give him five dollars." After the demand was repeated a second time, Goetz rose from his seat and fired five quick shots hitting each of the men. According to Alan Dershowitz's (a Harvard law professor) book America on Trial, the men were carrying sharpened screwdrivers although according to Wikipedia these were not used to threaten Mr. Goetz.

Anyway, the ruling of the criminal case was that Mr. Goetz's actions were indeed reasonable in terms of self-defense although he was charged with illegal weapons possession.

The Wikipedia article on this can be found here.

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Rocker Ted Nugent wrote a pretty good editorial on the VT incident and gun control. CNN.com published it here. My only beef with his editorial is that he presents the right to bear arms as a "self-evident truth" and a "God given right." Besides this (very important) flaw, I thought his article was dead-on.

Ted Nugent has them in a strangle hold, baby. :lol:

That is an excellent article.

This is a great point:

Thirty-two people dead on a U.S. college campus pursuing their American Dream, mowed-down over an extended period of time by a lone, non-American gunman in possession of a firearm on campus in defiance of a zero-tolerance gun ban. Feel better yet? Didn't think so.

Essentially, what gun bans do is disarm the good guys making them sitting ducks for the bad guys, who will arm themselves to the teeth in defiance of the law. If someone is willing to point a gun at an innocent person and pull the trigger, then they would certainly be willing to steal a gun or break a gun law.

A few more points, Switzerland has a higher rate of gun ownership than the U.S., and they have very low murder and burglary rate. Guns clearly aren't a problem there.

Back in the old West people carried guns on the street all of the time, going by Westerns, yet the worst massacre in U.S. history occurred in 2007, when very few people carry guns.

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While I like Nugent's article, I think it's important to remember that more "gun rights" don't necessarily mean all these problems would be averted. Private property owners would (or should) still have the right to ban the carrying of firearms on to their property. It's quite likely that a university would still be a "gun free" zone, if only by means of their own rules and admissions requirements.

I'm fairly certain that I read somewhere that some gun rights activists would have their right to carry firearms supercede another private property owners rights to how they would use their own property. In other words, "I have the right to carry a gun on your property regardless of what you say." I disagree with this.

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Private property owners would (or should) still have the right to ban the carrying of firearms on to their property.

Absolutely. People have the right to be idiots. And other people have the right to not attend their death-trap universities. But as it stands, the law says that regardless of whether the non-idiots of the world don't want to risk their lives, we still have to if we ever want to attend or even set foot on a school. And of course for those who have children, those children are not allowed to be defended by responsible adults - they are forced by law to be defenseless against inhuman filth who would murder them.

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Absolutely. People have the right to be idiots.

I don't agree that not allowing firearms (or otherwise regulating them) on one's property necessarily makes one as an idiot.

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I don't agree that not allowing firearms (or otherwise regulating them) on one's property necessarily makes one as an idiot.

No, of course not. I meant for the context given: a university campus.

Edited by Inspector

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In the context given, it does. We are talking about university campuses here, after all. There are many contexts where it wouldn't be so.
I don't understand this. Your saying that if I got to set policy for my university and I wanted to have a policy that restricts firearms on campus, that it would be idiotic for me to have such a policy? Presumably because this has something to do with the fact that we're talking about a university for god's sake, a place seething with insane students who need to be shot on sight. What is a context where you think it would not be idiotic to restrict firearms (and I mean "restrict, by private policy". In no instance am I talking about legal restrictions)? For example, I personally think it would be most idiotic to restrict firearms at bars, banks, movie theaters and hospitals. I agree with the law that requires people to carry heat outside of the city limits in Svalbard, and think it would be idiotic to not be well armed. It would be fairly idiotic to restrict firearms at restaurants and grocery stores. On the other hand, I think it would be most idiotic to not restrict firearms at universities and high schools, day care centers, and post offices. If you could explain what contexts you think restrictions against firearms would be at least worthy of consideration, I could better evaluate your position.

[ed: My question still stands, given your revised post]

Edited by DavidOdden

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David,

I think one situation in which it would not be idiotic for a property owner to have a restriction on firearms would be a private residence in which he required his guests to check their guns at the door, where he himself was armed. I mean, that wouldn't necessarily be idiotic. Another situation would be where there was a well-armed security force already in place - then it wouldn't necessarily be idiotic to expect guests to disarm.

On the other hand, I think it would be most idiotic to not restrict firearms at universities and high schools, day care centers, and post offices.

Are you serious?

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Are you serious?
Not about the post office: that was just a comment about postal workers being intrinsically dangerous and having a propensity to go postal (I mean, there's even a verb for it). But yes about schools. In general, I would want to restrict possession of firearms if there is a reasonable chance that people who were packing were not competent, in tems of fire-arms training or general temperment. There is no reason whatsoever for a 5 year old to be packing, and virtually no chance that the kid would be technically or tempermentally competent to be dragging around a hog leg. I might consider allowing it in high school, subject to some kind of advance examination, and similarly with a university, but that would be quite exceptional. The burden would be on the student, and it would be a powerful burden, to prove that they are fit to haul around a weapon. Obviously I also wouldn't tolerate assaults in my school so there would be no need to carry (as there could be in NYC on the subways, for example). I have no general objection to people being armed, as long as I can be reasonably certain that their existence is not a threat to me. Armed university students would, in my opinion, one of the least wise things I could imagine allowing, unless in a particular instance there were evidence that the individual was fit to carry a weapon.

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