Piers Morgan is Clueless About Guns and Violence

Last Sunday it was announced that Piers Morgan’s prime-time show on CNN was going to be canceled. The British Morgan had become best known to his new American audience for his anti-gun positions in the wake of the 2012 massacre at Sand Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Indeed, it has been pointed out that Morgan's comments on guns may have contributed to his show's sinking ratings. As a fellow Brit I understand Morgan’s bemusement at Americans’ fascination with guns. However, Morgan’s anti-gun crusade demonstrates not only an understandable anthropological confusion with the U.S., it also highlights a common misunderstanding of America’s relationship with violence.

I have lived in the U.S. most of my life and in 2009 gladly became an American citizen. While it is of course for others to judge, I like to think that my understanding of my adopted home has become better with time and travel within the U.S. I have come to understand that Americans (for whatever reason) like mind-numbingly boring sports, have an affinity for family sized portions, possess an admirable sense of optimism as well as a healthy skepticism of government very rarely seen in Europe, and hold onto a perhaps sometimes misplaced faith in American exceptionalism.

However, I am almost resigned to the fact that guns are one of the two cultural pillars of America (the other being the degree of religiosity in the U.S.) that I will never fully understand. I suspect that Morgan may have felt the same way while observing the gun control debate in the wake of the shootings that took place while he was hosting “Piers Morgan Live.” To someone who has grown up in a country where the state has banned nearly all private ownership of guns, it is almost beyond belief that after a mass shooting lawmakers wouldn’t take swift action, as was seen in the U.K. after the Dunblane massacre in Scotland and in Australia after the Port Arthur shooting. Morgan was a fan of pointing out that the number of gun deaths in the U.S. was far higher than any other developed nation. It is true that the U.S. has far more gun deaths per year than any other developed nation, it is also true that the U.S. has far more per capita assault deaths than almost any other country in the OECD (see graph below).

Yet despite all of Morgan’s talk about gun violence, there are a few facts that he should have discussed. As inconvenient as it might be for Morgan to come to terms with, the U.S. was far more violent than England long before the invention of automatic weapons and the introduction of restrictive gun control legislation on either side of the Atlantic. In 1870, Britain introduced a license that was required for anyone wanting to take firearms off their property, and in 1903 a law was passed requiring a license for guns with short barrels. After the First World War more restrictive gun control legislation was passed. Graph from Eric Monkkonen's Murder in New York City comparing American and English homicide rates from 1900 to 2000, which is featured in Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Natureis below:

Pinker explains in The Better Angels of Our Nature that America’s rate of homicide is notably higher than Europe's even if you only consider non gun-related deaths. Pinker also summarizes a theory put forward by historian Pieter Spierenburg, who has suggested that America's high murder rate could be explained by the fact that “democracy came too early” to the U.S.:

In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the people took over the apparatus of the state. In America, the people took over the state before it had forced them to lay down their arms — which, as the Second Amendment famously affirms, they reserve the right to keep and bear.

That Americans have historically been more homicidal than the English is almost never discussed in the contemporary gun control debate, and it is understandable that pro-gun control advocates would be hesitant to highlight this fact. Something else you don't hear often mentioned by gun control advocates is that even in Europe there are plenty of illegal guns. Gun control advocates of the British variety don’t like to point out that gun control in the U.K. did not reduce the number of murders. In the Institute of Economic Affairs book Prohibitions Professor Gary A. Mauser points out that the homicide rate in England and Wales continued to rise after a handgun ban was introduced. Below is a graph of English and Welsh as well as American homicide rates with the British handgun ban introduced after the Dunblane massacre highlighted:

Given that data shows that the U.S. has long been a more violent country than England and that the handgun ban in England failed to slow the murder rate, it should be considered that Morgan’s anti-gun crusade on his prime time CNN show was founded in part by an immigrant’s misunderstanding of his new home’s culture. And you know what? I get it. As stated above, I don’t understand the American relationship with guns. I don’t think guns are somehow testosterone-boosting or particularly fun to shoot. The ability to kill something at a great distance doesn’t impress me very much.

That said, firearms have been a part of some of my family’s life. Below is a photo of guns my uncle Mike recently said he was trying to sell. Mike, like my father, is a New Zealander and because the weapons in the photo are so-called A-Category firearms, a standard firearms license is all he needs for them. The Heckler and the AR-15 are legal as long as a magazine that does not have a capacity of more than seven rounds is put into them. The maximum capacity for a Ruger 10-22 magazine is 15 rounds. 


Perhaps because I didn’t grow up with guns I will forever find them alien and not particularly appealing. That said, facts are stubborn things. The reality is that violence is complicated. It is widely used as an enforcement mechanism by people all across the world who live in effectively stateless societies and is the predictable outcome of awful policies such as the war on drugs, which forces buyers and sellers to operate in a dangerous black market. Perhaps at his next gig Morgan will spend more time addressing how to reduce violence, however it is carried out, and not the particular violent tools he finds so disturbing. I’m not getting my hopes up.

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  • BakedPenguin||

    Professor Gary A. Mauser points out that the homicide rate in England and Wales continued to rise after a handgun ban was introduced.

    Too easy...

  • mtrueman||

    It's surprising that a Brit wasn't more familiar with the role of slavery in US history, and how guns made it possible. Or how the second amendment to the constitution was sought by fearful slave holders who needed a guarantee that they had the means to enforce their regime on a population who vastly outnumbered them.

    I remember reading how historians today question our view of the ancient world. We've all seen Charlston Heston, (coincidentally a gun advocate) slaving away in Egypt building pyramids. They now figure that the labour force was voluntary. Unless the Egyptian overseers had something more than whips and spears, they didn't have the wherewithall to force so many into doing the things that bugged Heston so much, like working until they dropped dead from exhaustion. Guns would have done the trick.

  • Brian||

    Right, but history often forgets the eastern slave trade: white people, and people from Africa, being sold into slavery to the east. The white slave trade is frequently ignored.

    And, that slaves were purchased from Africa, where Africans were enslaving people and selling them.

    The reason that there are not black populations in the east, despite the slave trade, is because of how much more brutal slavery was in the east. Castration was frequently popular, and the children of slaves were frequently murdered.

    The institution of slavery did not begin with guns.

  • mtrueman||

    "but history often forgets the eastern slave trade"

    The eastern slave trade was marginal compared to the transatlantic one. America's most important industries, cotton, tobacco, and sugar relied on African slaves. White workers, whether slaves or volunteers, couldn't possibly have done the work because of their suseptibility to malaria.

    I get the impression that in the east, slavery was limited to household servants, harem girls, bodyguards and the like. More like valuable and treasured luxury items than the foundation of national wealth as it was in the west. Eastern slavery is justly discounted, in my opinion.

  • Brian||

  • Brian||

  • Brian||

    That's OK, though. I take it you have a western historic perspective, dismissing other parts of the world. I don't mean to be dismissive.

  • mtrueman||

    "I guess they're statistically insignificant?"

    I would guess they are not. The difference I am trying to point out is that in the west, the 3 largest and important industries, the foundation of a national economy, could not have existed without slavery from Africa. This is not the case in the east.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    The difference I am trying to point out is that in the west, the 3 largest and important industries, the foundation of a national economy, could not have existed without slavery from Africa. This is not the case in the east.

    But, there were slaves in Egypt picking cotton:
    However, during the cotton boom (1861–64), some 25,000 to 30,000 slaves, were brought to Egypt each year to satisfy the demand for labor generated by the rapid expansion of cotton cultivation.

    Cotton and slaves go together in more places than the southern United States.

  • mtrueman||

    "Cotton and slaves go together in more places than the southern United States"

    A fair point but your figures show that the number of slaves was a small fraction of the larger non slave workforce, less than 10%. This was not the case in the west.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    A fair point but your figures show that the number of slaves was a small fraction of the larger non slave workforce, less than 10%. This was not the case in the west.

    But you're just using the fraction of the population that were slaves. 10% of the population were slaves. That doesn't factor in "workforce", or cotton farming.

    The total population included 3,953,761 slaves, representing 12.7% of the total population.

    So, there's about the same percentage of the population as slaves in the US as there were in Egypt.

  • mtrueman||

    "So, there's about the same percentage of the population as slaves in the US as there were in Egypt."

    I think the slave population in the plantations, were cotton, tobacco and cane were produced, the % of slaves was much much higher than 12.7 %. Higher than 50% and growing. It's important not to forget that above the line of malaria, in the northern states like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts etc, slavery was not an important part of the local economic life. That was true of the south only.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    I think the slave population in the plantations, were cotton, tobacco and cane were produced, the % of slaves was much much higher than 12.7 %. Higher than 50% and growing.

    I also bet the population of slaves on cotton farms in Egypt was higher than the typical density across the entire Egyptian population. I'm not sure what the point is.

  • mtrueman||

    "I'm not sure what the point is."

    Go back and re-read my original post here. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

  • mgd||

    I don't think you can call the eastern slave trade "marginal" just because they didn't use the slaves as efficiently. They didn't make very good use of technology that was available, either.

  • mtrueman||

    "I don't think you can call the eastern slave trade "marginal" just because they didn't use the slaves as efficiently."

    We can quibble over whether it was marginal or something else. You seem to agree with me about the "very good use of technology." With more guns, the east could possibly have built a more efficient enslavement machine. Without sufficient firepower, slavery can only go so far, as I attempted to point out in my comments out the pyramid builders of ancient Egypt.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    Unless the Egyptian overseers had something more than whips and spears, they didn't have the wherewithall to force so many into doing the things that bugged Heston so much, like working until they dropped dead from exhaustion.

    I'm a little skeptical of this.

    I can imagine a scenario like this:

    1. OK, we want to enslave these 10,000 people.
    2. Let's get 50,000 well armed troops and go over there.
    3. We'll threaten to kill every man, woman, and child unless they disarm and start doing our bidding.

    Sure, you can't keep every single one from escaping, if someone wants to go run into the mountains. But, you can conquer people and enslave them. I think it's happened before.

    I mean, once you disarm them and disrupt their ability to practice agriculture collectively, they depend either on scavenging or whatever sustenance they get from slavery to survive.

    I wouldn't go for the "enslaving is impossible without guns" argument unless this was demonstrated further than certain historians failing to imagine how it's possible. Arguments from ignorance are fallacious in nature.

  • Brian||

    Further, I don't see how one can make a case that slavery is impossible without guns, without also making authoritarian dictatorships and tyranny in general impossible without guns.

    If you can't enslave a group of people to do your bidding without guns, how do control them, in general? Is it impossible to run an autocracy without guns?

    This would seem to imply that human beings were largely uncontrollable without guns, making all of history before guns one big, free market history, until guns came about.

    Is this the way we look at history?

  • mtrueman||

    " I don't see how one can make a case that slavery is impossible without guns"

    Straw man.

  • Brian||

    Mtrueman:
    "They now figure that the labour force was voluntary. Unless the Egyptian overseers had something more than whips and spears, they didn't have the wherewithall to force so many into doing the things that bugged Heston so much, like working until they dropped dead from exhaustion. guns would have done the trick."

    If your point isn't that things must have been voluntary until guns came about, or that Alavert couldn't have happened without them, then you should probably not say so.

  • Brian||

    *slavery

  • ||

    Perhaps because I didn’t grow up with guns I will forever find them alien and not particularly appealing.

    FAAAAAAAAAAAAAG

  • MJGreen||

    I don't believe he smokes, darling.

  • Paul.||

    like mind-numbingly boring sports

    Which country doesn't?

    Cricket? SOCCER? CURLING FOR THE LOVE OF PETE?

  • Juice||

    In the UK they have sheep shearing on TV.

  • Spawn of Nyarlathotep||

    Don't forget darts!

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    And billiards.

    Did he seriously say this?

    The only sport on the planet that has constant action is hockey and that can get boring too.

  • 21044||

    Lacrosse

  • Sevo||

    "In the UK they have sheep shearing on TV."

    You sure it's sheep *shearing*?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The country with sheep tupping on TV is likely Holland.

  • ||

    In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the people took over the apparatus of the state.

    I like the half-sentence summary of thousands of years of the peasants being disarmed and ground into the dirt by the church and the nobility. If America's rate of violence is the price to pay for us not having been serfs, it sounds like a good trade to me.

  • Paul.||

    Nail, head, hit.

    I don't consider an uptick in the firearm homicide rate to be good cause for mass disarmament of The People.

    It's reasonable to assume that as cars were introduced to the public, vehicle accident rates were bound to rise.

    What's remarkable is the sheer number of guns circulating through America vs. the firearm homicide rate. Once you start looking at it in those terms, you realize just how peaceful gun owners are in this country.

  • GregMax||

    It isn't about logic with gun-phobes. Liquor, cigs, too much food all kill far more people. They're just irrational and fear-driven, but it's gonna be a permanent battle to keep idiots from letting them vaporize the 2nd amendment protections.

  • R C Dean||

    In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the surviving people took over the apparatus of the state.

    Let's not pretend that Europe isn't covered with the graveyards of those for whom the monopoly on violence was experienced very first-hand.

  • ||

    This x 1000

    Reading this I get the impression Feeney is the type that never looks you in the eye.

  • ubik||

    Brit by birth, American by choice...

    Probably many Brits actually agree with most Americans on the whole self defense issue and truth be told 2nd amendment issues, however have been cowered into submission.

    Americans need to understand, most Brits think Piers Morgan is a total asshole too.

  • Jon Lester||

    He was basically rescued by CNN, right when his career in the UK had effectively ended.

  • Will Nonya||

    Perhaps not the price as much as the result.

  • ubik||

    The right of self defense as embodied in the 2nd amendment is non-negotiable.

  • mtrueman||

    "America's rate of violence is the price to pay for us not having been serfs, it sounds like a good trade to me"

    But if you had any familiarity with American history, you would be aware of the institution of slavery which prevailed until some 150 years ago. This institution was propped up by guns and a constitution that sanctified gun ownership, at least for the non-slave portion of the USA.

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    Virtual slavery in Europe was propped up by the long bow and broad sword, so what is your point?

  • mtrueman||

    Americans were not serfs, or virtual slaves. Millions were actual slaves, thanks to the enhanced killing power of the weapons, firearms rather than broadswords, that made the regime possible. Do I need to make it any clearer than that?

  • Brian||

    We have better weapons than that now, and much less slavery. Which implies that slavery is not a function of weaponry.

    Gun control didn't end slavery.

  • mtrueman||

    "Gun control didn't end slavery."

    This is not my point. Maybe you can find someone else to argue this. I ain't me, babe.

    I thought my point was rather clear. You want to preside over millions of slaves, forcing them to do your bidding without the use of firearms? Go ahead, get back to me on how that works out for you.

  • Brian||

    mtrueman:

    I thought my point was rather clear. You want to preside over millions of slaves, forcing them to do your bidding without the use of firearms? Go ahead, get back to me on how that works out for you.

    I'm sorry: are we only allowed to talk about what you want to talk about?

    And, if you really want slavery to work, you need the state.

    After all, if you, as an individual, want to try enslaving hundreds or thousands of people on your own personal property, and enforcing that upon them, then, a musket isn't probably going to work.

    But, if the government enforces it for you, allowing you to socialize the cost of slavery by having government provided forces and conscript people into slave capturing duty (as happened in the Confederacy), then you can enjoy all the privatized good of slavery, while socializing the cost.

    Slaves were being freed at such a rate that, if they had kept up, all slaves would have been freed a few times over, if not for law.

    Slave codes:
    Owners refusing to abide by the slave code are fined and forfeit ownership of their slaves
    No slave shall be allowed to work for pay, or to plant corn, peas or rice; or to keep hogs, cattle, or horses; or to own or operate a boat; to buy or sell; or to wear clothes finer than 'Negro cloth'

  • Brian||

    Slave codes (con'td):
    If a slave leaves the owner's property without permission, "every white person" is required to chastise such slaves
    Any slave attempting to run away and leave the colony (later, state) receives the death penalty
    Any slave who evades capture for 20 days or more is to be publicly whipped for the first offense; branded with the letter R on the right cheek for the second offense; and lose one ear if absent for thirty days for the third offense; and castrated for the fourth offense.
    Owners refusing to abide by the slave code are fined and forfeit ownership of their slaves
    Slave homes are to be searched every two weeks for weapons or stolen goods. Punishment for violations escalate to include loss of ear, branding, and nose-slitting, and for the fourth offense, death.
    The fine for concealing runaway slaves is one thousand dollars and a prison sentence of up to one year
    A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for employing any Black or slave as a clerk
    A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for teaching a slave to read and write, and death is the penalty for circulating incendiary literature
    Slaves were prohibited from lifting a hand against a white person, even in self-defense

    It appears that the guns of the state were pointed at society, on behalf of slave holders.

    Maybe slavery wouldn't have been as bad without the state.

  • mtrueman||

    "Maybe slavery wouldn't have been as bad without the state."

    No argument there. But this second amendment business. That has 'state' written all over it and I've yet to see it criticized in these pages.

  • Brian||

    That's because the 2nd amendment is a limit on the state. It doesn't limit the people.

  • JWatts||

    "This is not my point. "

    Ok, but what was your point?

    You seem to imply that slavery was based upon gun ownership, even though slavery preceded the invention of guns and slavery disappeared (for the most part) during a period in time when the ownership of firearms was rapidly increasing.

    Do you realize that gun ownership was far rarer in 1800 (even in the slave states) than it was in the year 1900?

  • mtrueman||

    "Ok, but what was your point?"

    I didn't think it was all that difficult. Earlier, one of the morons posting here wrote the following:

    "America's rate of violence is the price to pay for us not having been serfs, it sounds like a good trade to me."

    Millions of Americans were not serfs, but actual slaves, a fact that nobody but yours truly seems to be aware of. The constitution and the second amendment did nothing to put firearms into the hands of those Americans who needed them the most. You do realize that however rare gun ownership was in the slave states, gun ownership among those Americans who were slaves was even smaller. Think about it for a moment, you want to enslave millions? It makes things much easier if they are unarmed and you can point even a few firearms in their direction.

    I doubt that the regime of slavery could have been instituted in the US, especially at the large scale, without, armed overseers presiding over unarmed slaves. That's not to argue that slavery before firearms was impossible, it was, or that firearms somehow necessitate a regime of slavery. I think it was Aristotle who spoke of sufficient and necessary causes. Interesting notion if you can spare the time.

  • silent v||

    like mind-numbingly boring sports

    Soccer is becoming more popular over here, so I guess so.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I have to say; I have never understood the attraction of watching sports. I can understand the attraction of DOING sports, although as a longtime bookworm it doesn't get to me personally. But WATCHING?!? I just don't get it.

    And that's OK. I don't have to get it. I don't much feel the need to try to stamp out pastimes that baffle me, and when I do get the urge I do my very best to stifle it.

    Hell, Opera bores me, but I like to watch a symphony being played. Go make sense of THAT.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Im in the same boat, everytime some random sporting event happens my less educated peers will try to invite me to attend a drinking hooting and hollering fest at the electronic box i call this activity Sportsing because of my lack of participation or general fucks given about the outcome.
    Watching any sport for me is mind numbingly boring...
    that said, have you listened to the Heavy Metal Sci-fi Opera "Ziltoid The Omniscient" by Devon Townsend?

  • steedamike||

    It helps you develop bonds with the other people from your own team. Similar to ritualistic dancing, drilling, moving in unison, battling in war, etc. I'd recommend reading The Righteous Mind by Johnathan Haidt, or at least watching some youtube vids if you are lazy :)

  • Paul.||

    The ability to kill something at a great distance doesn’t impress me very much.

    I'm sure that woman who got raped and killed in her apartment had an opinion on the subject.

  • R C Dean||

    The ability to kill something at a great distance doesn’t impress me very much.

    Then you are a fool. Even if you don't respect the skill required to actually place a shot on target at "a great distance", you should respect the power being exercised..

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    This guy should watch just a few vids of pig hunting from helicopters...that's friggin' awesome.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    The ability to kill something much larger, stronger and dangerous tends to impress most people regardless of range.

  • SIV||

    Phyllis Schlafly did a study on how un-American our recent crop of immigrants are. I wonder if Feeney was part of her data set?

  • Agammamon||

    I have come to understand that Americans (for whatever reason) like mind-numbingly boring sports. . .

    Yeah, yeah - show me a country in the fucking world whose most popular sports *aren't* 'mind-numbingly boring' to watch.

    Baseball
    Football
    Basketball
    Hockey
    Soccer
    Cricket
    Golf
    Tennis
    Curling!

  • VicRattlehead||

    Japan, They consider sexual activites sporting events. Even if they do have the FCC from hell ruining the show

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    There is also poop omelets to consider...wonder if that'll make Iron Chef someday?

  • RFID||

    I would like to see an in-depth analysis of how those homicide numbers were came up with as well. I'd bet that the US overcounts (for police funding reasons) and that euros undercount (for tourism reasons).

  • Agammamon||

    I wouldn't.

    On the other hand - the violence number-counters tend to ignore non-lethal violence when talking about guns.

    That's on top of ignoring regional differences. The UK is a tiny fraction of the size and population of the US and the difference in violent crime between, say, metro Chicago and the rest of Illinois is staggering.

    And then let's talk about non-lethal violence. You don't really see US youts going around 'happy-slapping' random people.

  • R C Dean||

    You don't really see US youts going around 'happy-slapping' random people.

    You do now. Google up some "knockout game".

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, all those reports have the hallmark of 'media inflamed circus' rather than a real trend.

  • SIV||

    "Media inflamed" or media ignored?

  • ||

    Yeah, SIV's right on this one. The "knockout game" thing was around long before the regular media ever discovered it. It was just happening in places that weren't NYC or LA, so the people who brought you wilding never noticed it.

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    Open carry would mitigate that shit.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Homicides aren't the right numbers to be looking at anyway. Violent crimes per 100k are the numbers that should be compared as guns also dissuade crime. And they dissuade crimes OTHER than homicide such as robbery and rape.

    What's GB's violent crime rate compared to that of the US? 4:1

  • Tejicano||

    I couldn't tell you the reason why but the murder rate reported by the UK only counts acts which are charged and convicted of the crime of murder. Anything which gets pled/convicted to a lower charge does not get counted as murder in their statistics.

  • gimmeasammich||

    This is something that a lot of people don't understand. They just accept whatever they are fed.

    From the House of Commons' own website in section 35...

    Since 1967, homicide figures for England and Wales have been adjusted to exclude any cases which do not result in conviction, or where the person is not prosecuted on grounds of self defence or otherwise.

    http://www.publications.parlia.....95ap25.htm

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I have read several distinct articles that Britsin only counts guilty verdicts as homicides, with the rationalization that all the other suspicious deaths could be suicides or accidents. I believe the US resolution rate for murder is around half or 2/3; if Britain is the same, that brings them up a lot closer to ours.

  • KPres||

    In Sweden its only 5%. Think about that for a minute...if you kill someone, you have a 95% chance of getting away with it.

  • KevinP||

    With the sole exception of homicide, the UK is a more violent country than the US. You are more likely to become the victim of a crime of violence in the UK than in the US.

    UK is violent crime capital of Europe
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....urope.html

    Quote:
    It means there are over 2,000 crimes recorded per 100,000 population in the UK, making it the most violent place in Europe... By comparison, America has an estimated rate of 466 violent crimes per 100,000 population.

    At the turn of the 20th century, the UK had virtually no gun control laws and very little crime. Any person could carry a revolver in his pocket anywhere in the UK. Like slowly boiling a frog in water, the right to keep and bear arms was extinguished in the UK while the crime rate has soared. See page 14 of this UK parliamentary report for a fascinating graph.

    http://www.parliament.uk/docum.....99-111.pdf

  • Agammamon||

    . . .(the other being the degree of religiosity in the U.S.)

    This part is simple - we don't have a state religion. Market forces in action have tailored our religions to meet their customers needs.

    Just looking at Christianity, even with a single sect, their are vast differences in church cultures. And Christianity alone has a multitude of sects, from huge and mainstream to so tiny they're practically cults, to choose from.

  • ||

    I would even go on to point out that the two (or three) go hand in hand. With a largely unfettered market the only thing to prevent someone from taking any given action is another person with precisely opposed morals willing to lay down their lives to prevent them from doing so.

    Not that every murder is a principled stand against abusive husbands or the bourgeois who walk down the dark alley but that we have a greater cultural capacity to understand and/or sympathize with these acts. Guns and religion both helped replace the notion of 'stiff upper lip' with 'from my cold dead hands' on this side of the pond.

  • VicRattlehead||

    “Religion is still useful among the herd - that it helps their orderly conduct as nothing else could. The crude human animal is in-eradicably superstitious, and there is every biological reason why they should be.
    Take away his Christian god and saints, and he will worship something else...”
    ― H.P. Lovecraft
    Kinda like the Socialists deification of the state.
    Belief in God is the path to freedom, for if all rights are inherited from the creator than none are granted by the state and no one shall be denied their God given rights by mortal man.

  • Raven Nation||

    Basic point in Nathan Hatch's Democratization of American Christianity

  • Response||

    I thought I had read that the reason Americans are more violent is because we have the freedom to be more violent. We are generally not oppressed. We have a far greater integration of varying lifestyles, cultures. And we have the ability to increase our status. Everyone is constantly competing and the concept of knowing ones place is completely foreign. The results are that when confronted (physically, intellectually, emotionally, culturally, economically, etc), we don't back down (relatively speaking).

    I think Feeney gets it right when saying that removing guns doesn't change that.

  • VicRattlehead||

    "The results are that when confronted (physically, intellectually, emotionally, culturally, economically, etc), we don't back down (relatively speaking)."

    Except for that part where our president granted himself all sorts of unconstitutional powers, then used them to target the American way of life and nobody did anything but bitch on reason

  • Brian||

    I think that Piers Morgan came out for gun control because of his poor ratings. I assume he was trying to piss off the pro-gun crowd to gain publicity.

    The only time I remember his show being remarkable was when he was saying stupid things about guns.

    You can only make a song with one note for so long, I guess.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Unless you have the power of Tenacious D

  • ||

    Yeah, re-reading this article, I want Piers Morgan back.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Feeney doesn't get that a lot Americans care more about their freedom than their security. He also doesn't get that we trust ourselves to protect ourselves more than we trust the government to protect us. Also, he doesn't get that, like the Ukrainians, we may need to violently overthrow our government someday--no, really.

    Honestly, I don't understand how a libertarian can buy into the government's monopoly on violence, and I don't understand why our gun rights would be any different if we had overthrown our government after we'd lost our gun rights. It's not as though any of our rights derive from government anyway. Not if you're a libertarian.

  • ||

    He also doesn't get that we trust ourselves to protect ourselves more than we trust the government to protect us.

    He does more than just that.

    America's history of mistreating serfs/natives/peasants and disregarding religion is no comparison to Britain's. Saying America (and Americans) are violent but Britain isn't is a little like saying a hitman is violent but a mafia don is less so. Ascribing America's internal violence as a negative aspect of the culture, as a Brit, almost seems like a unforgivable libertarian sin IMO. The single thought plays against the freedom to freely believe and bear arms while simultaneously ignoring massive amounts of violent oppression that was actively and directly exported from the homeland (often hand-in-hand with or under the banner of religion).

    The case could easily be made that the unusual strain of anti-homosexual Christianity that runs Uganda owes it's origins more to the British Empire than any other Christian or Vatican group. Similar assertions could be made for radical portions of Islam.

    I'm as much an anglophile as the next guy, but a Brit being baffled by America's (or any other nation's) religion and fascination with guns is a little 'head in the ground' to me.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Just judging from acquaintances, I've met several Brits who seemed quite surprised to hear that just because "That was the way we did things in the U.K." really wasn't considered a persuasive reason to do...anything.

    It was as if the nicest thing they could say about a place was that it was "just like in London"--as if the rest of the world were uncivilized and "civilization" were defined as British.

    The "White Man's Burden" really does extend to civilizing white people, too! Especially Americans, the wretched savages.

  • VicRattlehead||

    ^this
    Every time my ship had the misfortune of going to London and we went out in the town, we were always treated with disdain and outright hate. Mr. I don't understand "family sized portions" is full of shit they serve meat pies in London and those things are just as big as a Chicago deep dish pizza, on top of the Beers being much larger than in America, serving size my ass.
    And again the European concept of freedom being granted by the state instead of being inherited from our creator is just inane babble, as if some magical force field is in place when the state prohibits something that prevents you from using your free will and doing it anyways more often than not peacefully and victimless

  • Ken Shultz||

    They must really, honestly, truly, not believe that our rights and freedoms originate from something other than government.

    You also see it in their science fiction. I've seen it several times, where they always seem to imagine that in the future, our freedom was our apparent downfall, and the United States is doomed to civil war.

  • The Terminator||

    Freedom as we know it really does come from the state.

    Imagine a jungle filled with man-eating tigers. Within this jungle is a compound which is protected by tall walls that the tigers cannot overcome. Are you free inside the compound, where you are safe but your movement is restricted, or outside the compound, where you can go where you please but you're liable to be eaten by a tiger?

    All rights are man-made.

  • gimmeasammich||

    The fuck you talkin' 'bout? Tony?

    Do I have the right to leave the compound if I want? Who built this compound? Who administers it? How did I get there in the first place? Was I born into it or brought into it? Define "safe." This has to be one of the dumbest analogies that I have ever read.

  • The Terminator||

    It's a thought experiment, not an analogy. Can one really be considered free if one must live in fear of being killed at all times? There are no rights in a state of nature; that which is stronger will destroy or subjugate that which is weaker. Freedom exists only because we have created it through restrictions.

  • gimmeasammich||

    So your thought experiment consists of one person or group that has the ability to control or overpower another person or group, and therefore rights only come from the stronger group because they can?

    What if the first person was out in the world with no knowledge of the second, and was snatched up by the second and put in the tigerless compound "for their own good." What would that be then? Was that person not free before, but not now?

  • The Terminator||

    The compound isn't run by anyone; it's an abstract idea. The whole point of the thought experiment is simply to illustrate the fact that freedom does not mean the complete absence of restrictions; in fact, restriction is a prerequisite to freedom.

    Following this line of reasoning to it's logical conclusion, all freedom is ultimately derived from whatever central body exists to enforce these restrictions. Simply put, there is no freedom otherwise; there is only fighting to survive.

  • Brian||

    Terminator:

    Following this line of reasoning to it's logical conclusion, all freedom is ultimately derived from whatever central body exists to enforce these restrictions.

    Really? I thought the logical conclusion was "Freedom from violence is sometimes better than freedom in movement."

    What it has to do with a central body, which may or may not protect you from violence, and may or may not inflict violence itself, and how it goes about that, is a completely different question.

  • JWatts||

    "Especially Americans, the wretched savages."

    I think you misspelled violent rednecks.

  • Kevin47||

    "As a fellow Brit I understand Morgan’s bemusement at Americans’ fascination with guns."

    They worked pretty well against you candy asses.

  • Hayeksplosives||

    Hah! I logged in just to thank you for that comment.

  • Kawliga||

    Yes. Excellent reposte. The English are such toffee nosed twits.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Because "FREEEEEEDOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!"- Sir William Wallace

  • Boisfeuras||

    After the disastrous evacuation of Dunkirk, in Britain's darkest hour, it appeared that Nazi Germany was an unstoppable juggernaut poised to invade their island. Because the British government had all but eliminated private firearms ownership in the 1920s, the woefully ill-equipped Home Guard drilled with canes and umbrellas, and even resorted to manufacturing 500,000 steel pikes.

    At the request of the NRA, American citizens donated thousands of their personally owned firearms to aid the defense of Britain. The British government repaid the favor by destroying them after the war.

  • Boisfeuras||

    As a fellow Brit I understand Morgan’s bemusement at Americans’ fascination with guns.

    Still bemused, you smug self-righteous asshole? Do you realize that the Second Amendment was essentially lifted from the Bill of Rights of 1689—which restored natural rights arrogated by a tyrant—way back in the days of yore, when your country of birth was populated by men?

  • fish||

    ...and to think we could have had the Top Gear guys.....and yet Piers Morgan was chosen!

  • Winston||

    Do you really want the Top Gear guys to discuss politics?

  • fish||

    Much lower wuss coefficient than Morgan!

  • LibertarianX||

    Oh heck yeah! I'm sure they have a better understanding of what it takes to run an industry then Piers Morgan. They certainly have more respect for freedom than he does. And their interviews are far more entertaining.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    The Top Gear guys pretty regularly discussed politics (primarily with regard to speed limits and red light cameras) on their show. I rarely took exception.

  • Benjamin||

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfzu2ObrYzc

    Once, Jeremy Clarkson punched Piers Morgan in the face, my friend. Yes that really happened. Well, everybody saw it, hah. Everybody laughed and clapped because it was awesome. The way that Piers got punched.

  • ||

    Really Feeney. Grow a spine. I got queasy reading this.

  • DH||

    + 1

  • KPres||

    He's a fucking embarrassment. I have no idea why they publish him. Are they trying to discredit libertarians?

  • Winston||

    So does Feeney prove or disprove the need for immigration reform?

  • ||

    Yes.

  • DH||

    " To someone who has grown up in a country where the state has banned nearly all private ownership of guns, it is almost beyond belief that after a mass shooting lawmakers wouldn’t take swift action, as was seen in the U.K. after the Dunblane massacre in Scotland and in Australia after the Port Arthur shooting."

    Maybe because allowing the government to have a monopoly on power is a bad idea? I think history will validate my statement.

  • Remnant Psyche||

    It always amuses me when a non-American wonders just why we would even WANT the right to own guns.

    Read a history book. Watch the news. Just because our social systems have eliminated the need for regular violent self defense doesn't mean we're different creatures than we were thousands of years ago. Democracy is not the norm in human history.

    Everyone should read the Cormac McCarthy novel Blood Meridian. It illustrates, among other things, who and what we are (and will always be) as a species, regardless of how we feel about or justify it. We have the same traits as our ancestors. We risk oppression as we always have.

    That's why we own guns, ultimately. Our leaders serve at our consent. They are not our betters.

  • Alien Invader||

    ...Our leaders serve at our consent. They are not our betters.

    They know who you are, sucker.

  • Remnant Psyche||

    Good thing we're armed!

  • Johnimo||

    And WE know who THEY are also.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "In Europe, first the state disarmed the people and claimed a monopoly on violence, then the people took over the apparatus of the state."

    The idea that the state doesn't have a monopoly on violence is so horrifying to so many people. It should be the opposite. The idea of the state having a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence should scare the shit out of people.

    The state's monopoly of the legitimate use of violence myth is probably a necessary ingredient for effective oppression. I can't think of many ideas that are more antagonistic to libertarianism.

    The legitimacy of our right to self-defense does not derive from the state. If the state says we don't have a legitimate right to defend ourselves against them--because they're the state--then they're wrong.

    In fact, it's the state's use of violence that is always suspect as illegitimate. We won't even let the state imprison criminals without first seeking the unanimous legitimacy conferred by 12 non-state "peers" in a jury.

    Seeking to defend yourself and your rights is what gives your acts of violence legitimacy--that legitimacy doesn't come from the state--and the state needs to meet the exact same criteria to use violence legitimately. State violence is only legitimate when it is used to defend people and their rights.

  • Frank Bieser||

    A nice discourse on the often looked over datum of the gun violence debate. However, like Piers, it misses the point of why the 2nd amendment exists in the constitution. The founders were not concerned about personal self defense. What tools individuals might be allowed to own to defend themselves personally from assault was not in question at the time. The 2nd amendment is to insure the people have recourse when all the other amendments have failed. That is why "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

  • Remnant Psyche||

    But but but muskets!

  • ||

    And militias!

  • chmercier||

    Nah, they only meant guns to be for hunting game and sport!

  • GregMax||

    While that may be the reason that tools of lethality are specifically protected by the Constitution, the right to have those tools to hunt, self-defense or plink or whatever are still rights that exist beyond the authority of government to regulate or infringe upon.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I think we are more violent because we rebel against the idea of an Upper Class. We have rid ourselves of several, including fighting the bloodiest war in our history to do away with one (the Planter Aristocracy). We don't allow ourselves to be dictated to as if we were peasants. And BOY do the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive Twitocracy hate that about us.

  • KPres||

    Nailed it. Guns are the great equalizer which is why elitists hate them so much.

  • Kawliga||

    Hey Feeney, you almost got it right. Read John Lott, you silly pranny.

  • Daily Beatings||

    "I don’t understand the American relationship with guns."

    I don't understand the British relationship with curry. Over 90% of Europe's curry restaurants are in the UK.

  • ||

    The key to understanding the American love of guns is very simple. We love our guns in much the same way we love printers and computers and (insert holy book of your choice here).

    We love them because they are the tools effectively required to exercise our human rights, whether it be the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion or the right to self-defense.

    Over time, they have come to symbolize those rights. We react with perfectly understandable hostility when someone tries to take away our human rights, particularly when the one making the attempt is an outsider.

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  • Otisjay||

    "like mind-numbingly boring sports"

    WTF is SOCCER besides "mind-numbingly boring"

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    The maximum capacity for a Ruger 10-22 magazine is 15 rounds.

    That must be a legal limitation in NZ. Ruger makes them that hold 5, 10 and 25, but no 15-round mags. After-market mags are mostly upwards of 25, though I've seen tenners before.

    BTW, notice three of the rifle have suppressors on them? NZ considers them no big deal. And a 10/22 with that, subsonic rounds and a bolt buffer is a damn quiet gun.

  • judeoconnor@mac.com||

    History in England shows that violence was a standard upheld to the culture. How about the British soldiers killing civilians here during the Revolutionary war? If it was not for the USA German language would probably be the language of the land. More people are murdered by knives than guns here.

  • HenryC||

    People are generally safe from each other in a totalitarian state, unlike the US. In a totalitarian state you only worry about the government. Freedom is dangerous, so it its lack. Cars still kill a lot more people in the US.

  • steedamike||

    "I don’t understand the American relationship with guns."

    In my view, as a Libertarian, I value freedom and liberty above most if not all things. Things like being able to make the choices that I want, to go where I want, protect myself, my things, and my loved ones, etc.

    Having firearms empowers me to be able to continue to make these choices, and deters anyone from attempting to remove this ability. If guns are removed from me and law-abiding citizens, then only gov't and outlaws will have guns. Then they can just pop over to my crib and pull out their gun and now they have total power over me. I've now lost all my rights. They can make my choices for me, tell me to go where they want, destroy my life, my things, and my loved ones, etc.

    The second amendment helps to protect all the other amendments.

  • steedamike||

    It appears that the UK defines homicides differently than the US:

    http://rboatright.blogspot.com.....rates.html

  • ElDuderino||

    Why does anyone give a flying shit what Piers Morgan thinks anyway?

  • mgd||

    "I don’t understand the American relationship with guns."

    And I don't understand the British relationship with their royal family. Americans cling to a useful tool, Brits cling to useless tools.

  • FuriousFatMan||

    holy hell, for the 529083742903th time, America does not have a gun problem, it has a single mother problem.

    -FFM

  • Gary T||

    Wow, that was an interesting point from left field.
    You happened to be absolutely correct, of course, but that caught me, pleasantly, by surprise.

  • AnCapNow!||

    The violent crime rate in England is higher than that of the USA.

  • Waterfall67b||

    Most crime is actually institutionalized by individuals who've assumed some fictional legal alias (The United States, Ohio, Los Angeles, England, etc.) and executed by others with military licenses.

    If every DEA or IRS agent knew there was a one in, say, twenty chance he wouldn't make it home alive when he went to some stranger's home to discuss their tax problem or drug problem,...well, you get the picture.

  • Dogwater||

    Did Britain enslave a whole race of people, only to have them living in taxpayer-funded ghettoes a hundred and fifty years later?

    That might explain the difference in the violence numbers.

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