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by Peter Moskos

November 6, 2009

Lack of Gun Control

Nice to know that all those places with right-to-carry and relaxed gun laws, like military bases and the state of Florida, are safe from gun violence.

Florida, for some strange reason, is often held up by gun-righters as an example of a good state. Yet Florida is violent and has become more so since gun control was relaxed.

Here's my logic:

The problem with people who don't believe in gun control is that Cell #2 is impossible to achieve so they choose to live in Cell #1.

Gun haters believe that Cell #4 is theoretically possible (and desirable), but it isn't politically possible in this country.

So we're left with either Cell #1 or Cell #3. And either way we're left with some gun carnage.

And though it certainly may seem that Cell #1 the better of the two ("if criminals and crazies have guns, better for us to, too!" ...Assuming we're not crazy, of course).

The problem is that there is a correlation between the general availability of guns and the odds that a criminal or crazy carries a gun.

I'd prefer to live in Cell #3 than Cell #1 because they'll be less carnage and I'll be safer, even though I would have to give up some feeling of control over my environment. That's why we have police.

Speaking of which, can somebody tell me why it takes a civilian police officer on or near an army base to shoot somebody? Don't the soldiers have guns?


Anonymous said...

To answer your last question (why it takes a civilian police officer on or near an army base to shoot somebody? Don't the soldiers have guns?): No. Military personnel who are not on an active security duty (gate guard, roaming patrols, fixed high security facility) are NOT allowed to have their issue weapons. And any personal weapons must be locked in the base Armory as well, not kept in base housing or the dorm.

Compare to Switzerland and Israel, where non-duty personnel still keep their weapons.

PCM said...


What's the logic behind that?

eric said...

Strangely, the military realize that loaded guns are dangerous. Although I wonder how much of this goes back to when we had a conscript army.

I also think that there are some civil liberties implications (keeping the military out of civil affairs) of having an armed and ready military within the confines of the US Territory when not under active threat. Its sort of the flip side of "Armed citizens = Liberty".

In regards to the rest of your post...I'm always so torn. I like guns. I like shooting them. I even like cleaning and maintaining them. To some degree I think there may be some correlation between the right to own a gun and liberty (I believe it is mostly symbolic in this day and age). But how anyone who has handled a gun...anyone who understands how incredibly dangerous a gun is...can think that more people walking around with loaded weapons makes the world safer is beyond me. I think less people should be allowed to handle things as dangerous as cars. A gun is small and easy to operate at a basic level, but so hard to handle with any degree of accuracy (particularly under stress). The thought that those same people who seem only marginally qualified to operate a car are going to come to my rescue with a gun is pretty silly.

PCM said...

Thanks, Eric.

Thanks to you and all my readers (or at least those who comment), I think this might by the only blog in the world that can hold a rational discussion about gun control.

Doug Gaff said...

I hate to even weigh in on this one because this debate is so complicated, so fraught with statistical manipulation on both sides, and so emotional that it's next to impossible to have a rational debate. So I'll just give you my opinion and leave it at that.

I prefer #1, for three reasons. First, gun control is a band-aid that really doesn't work, as PCM has pointed out several times in his blog and at least once in his book. Well, it does work in reducing legal ownership, but it doesn't take guns out of criminals' hands. The real solution to reducing the number of crazies goes to a much deeper level. We have to reduce the conditions that lead to violence. More political emphasis should be given to that reality. One example - ending drug prohibition, as PCM advocates. I believe that if we remove the economy that breeds some of the gun violence in our society, we take a step towards reducing gun violence.

Second, I personally would like to have the opportunity to protect myself and my family in the (hopefully unlikely) event that we become victims, rather than having to wait for the police to show up. But this right comes with a responsibility to train. I personally train about twice a month, once a month in tactical situations. Anyone who owns a firearm has a responsibility to train. Otherwise, it's a useless and dangerous tool.

Third, I do agree with Eric that there is a correlation between the right to bear arms and liberty. Whether it's still relevant in this day and age is probably the most divisive aspect of the pro-gun/anti-gun debate. While I think it's very unlikely that the world is going to collapse into chaos anytime soon, I do believe that the second amendment is one of the checks-and-balances setup by our founders to remind governments who they work for.

Jeff said...

Just to satisfy my curiosity, do you own a gun PCM?

PCM said...


Anonymous said...


You're certainly free to not own a gun, but why would you deny me the right to come to my own rescue? Do you know me better than me? Why would you desire to limit my freedom so you can feel better?

Oh, and then there's that pesky 2nd Ammendment.

PCM said...

I understand your position, but can you really not understand why somebody might want to limit your gun-carrying capabilities?

I mean, 1) you might be crazy.

And 2) the more guns that are out there, the less safe I am without one.

There are lots of cases where we limit personal freedom for the greater good (take bans on driving drunk). It's not so crazy that people want to limit guns for the same reasons.

Anonymous said...


But the cases you describe are ones where the action cannot be performed safely, e.g. you cannot operate a car safely while drunk.

I'm not drunk. I'm not crazy. My guns don't affect your safety in the least. So again, while do you feel the need to deny me my freedom so you can feel better?

There is no Constitutional guarantee to "feel safe", but there is a Constitutional guarantee (widely abused by law) for me to be armed.

I can safely own a gun. That you cannot (or will not) is not my problem, it's yours. You don't solve your problems by denying me my freedom.

From a practical perspective, if you want to reduce gun violence, end the prohibition on drugs.

Doug said...

Yeah, I'm definitely with Anon here.

Let's stop talking about guns and start talking about ending the war on drugs and drug prohibition.

We have to get to root causes.

Anonymous said...

Do you think gun control is such the failure that it is because we are so adamant on supply-side enforcement and not demand side?

I believe I'm correct in saying that they're over 100 million firearms in circulation in the United States. Even if we stopped producing guns or bullets, or heavily regulated them, in the United States there are so many guns already in circulation that we'd still have problems.

If we continue law enforcement's current attitudes toward firearms, in addition to more gun control, all we are doing is restricting law-abiding citizens from defending themselves. Criminals don't give a rats ass about breaking the law by there very nature! I don't agree with the faith you have in the police to protect us and I certaintly wouldn't want to have this uncertain faith when it comes to the safety of my family.

I agree, we should focus on ending the 'war on drugs' instead. There is entirely too much violence occuring which directly stems from the illegal drug trade.

DJK said...

I like (as a point) this from this post:

"I'd prefer to live in Cell #3 than Cell #1 because they'll be less carnage and I'll be safer, even though I would have to give up some feeling of control over my environment. That's why we have police."

Which seems to allude to the idea that police keep us safe and come to our rescue.

But then from your next (Oh the Stink!) post:

"So the public saw an uncaring police department while police saw an uncooperative public. This is inevitable when a system wants cops in cars instead of on foot and favors rapid response over slow deduction."

How, can the police protect us, if we're not allowed to protect ourselves, especially on foot?

Sitting ducks we are in that case.

I tend to agree with Mr. Gaff on all points. There are definitely underlying issues (poverty, drugs, corruption, etc) that make us far less safe than do people who carry a sidearm or concealed weapon.

DJK said...

So, I agree with Mr. Gaff, Doug, and Anon.

But, I haven't seen anyone mention stiffer penalties for violent crime. How about we start executing people who execute others. Publicly even. Rapists? Kill 'em. Robbers? Lop off an arm or hang 'em.

DJK said...

So, these guys get to have weapons...but we don't get to have anything to protect ourselves from them. It's a shame that nobody had a little .380 or a nice .45 to put a little lead into these pieces of shit. The beat down was nice...but not many people are able to serve up anything like that.