Gun Rights

Gun-Owning Expert on Logical Fallacies Deploys Them Against Gun Ownership

Psychologist Daniel Levitin describes his decision to keep firearms for self-defense as emotionally satisfying but irrational.

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Daniel Karmann/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

Daniel Levitin, a psychology professor at McGill University, is the author of Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era, which according to The Wall Street Journal "lays out the many ways in which each of us can be fooled and misled by numbers and logic." Levitin illustrates a couple of those ways in a recent New York Times op-ed piece about his decision to keep guns at home for self-defense, which he portrays as emotionally satisfying but logically deficient.

Levitin want his audience to know he is not a right-wing gun nut. "I am comfortable with guns," he writes. "I grew up shooting targets for sport and took part in marksmanship competitions. I have also voted for Democrats in most elections, strongly support gun control and am against the death penalty. I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone's hands." But they did envision that Americans would have a right to armed self-defense, a right that Levitin seems to denigrate even as he exercises it.

"Rationally," Levitin writes, "I know I may even be worse off with a gun. A study by epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that having a firearm in the home almost doubles the risk of a violent death there. Another study, by the Violence Policy Center, found that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable gun homicides (that is, people turning the tables on an aggressor), but more than twice as many unintentional fatal shootings."

The CDC study cited by Levitin, which was published in 2004, found that "persons with guns in the home" were twice as likely as people living in gun-free residences to die "from a homicide in the home." Contrary to what Levitin says, that does not mean "having a firearm in the home almost doubles the risk of a violent death there," because correlation does not prove causation. It could be that owning a gun increases the risk of being killed, but it also could be that other factors increase the risk of being killed as well as the likelihood of owning guns. If people who anticipate violent confrontations, such as residents of high-crime neighborhoods or women with angry ex-husbands, are especially likely to arm themselves, for example, that tendency could partly or completely explain the association found in this study.

The other source cited by Levitin, a 2015 report from the Violence Policy Center, compared the number of justifiable gun homicides in 2012 (259) to the number of fatal unintentional shootings (548), the number of criminal gun homicides (8,342), and the number of gun suicides (20,666). But these are not the relevant numbers for someone trying to figure of whether it's a good idea to keep a gun for self-defense. The number of times firearms are used for self-defense each year is a matter of considerable dispute, with estimates ranging from less than 100,000 to more than 2.5 million. But survey data indicate that defensive use rarely involves firing a gun, let alone injuring or killing anyone. Justifiable gun homicides therefore represent a tiny fraction of the defensive benefit from gun ownership.

The fact that brandishing a gun is typically enough to ward off an attacker is also relevant to Levitin's other major reservation about keeping firearms for self-defense. He describes an incident in which he "retrieved a gun and loaded it" in response to a "sketchy-looking stranger in my backyard" who seemed to be casing his house for a burglary. After calling the police, Levitin decided to leave his home rather than confront the intruder. "There is nothing in my home worth a man's life," he writes. "They are just material possessions. I can defend my life if called upon, or the lives of my family, but I don't need to defend my stuff by shooting someone. That's just crazy."

That is one way of looking at it, and Levitin has a right to retreat if he thinks that is the best course of action. But the research on defensive gun uses suggests the likelihood that he would have had to fire his gun was quite small, and one could argue that a burglar who is undeterred by a visibly armed homeowner poses a general threat to public safety that is worth confronting rather than evading. Either way, Levitin should not have to apologize for the choices he makes regarding the defense of himself, his home, and his family, and neither should anyone else.

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  1. Honestly, I bought my rifle as a screw you to Hillary, because I assumed she would win. It’s a Mosin-Nagant (Yes, an actual assault rifle with a bayonet and everything), and I happen to like it because A) It has a bayonet, and B) It’s a historically significant weapon I could afford reasonably (Can’t get an Garand with the prices for a good one or remake at $1500 or higher).

    1. I got my CCW 10 years ago and have never carried once. I got the license because, damn it, I’m a free citizen and I can. So screw you, gun grabbers.

      I had inherited some handguns, but never had one worth carrying. I sold or trashed them all. I just bought my first one a couple months ago and still haven’t carried, although I’ve shot it. It’s a tool but also a symbol.

      1. I’m a free citizen and I can

        This is the funny kind of irony. You’re so free you can petition the government to give you a permission slip to own a gun.

        Not picking on you, just pointing out the absurdity.

        1. “This is the funny kind of irony.”

          It only seems ironic if you ignore what the word ‘citizen’ means. Not to say that I agree with the laws that require a permit to carry, just that the concept of citizenry sometimes means things are a bit more constrained than one would like.

          1. So the term ‘free citizen’ is ironic?

            1. Not really. If anything it is somewhat redundant. A citizen is someone who possesses the freedoms and responsibilities associated with a particular polity. Be it ancient Greece, or a 17th century pirate ship.

              But someone who is completely free cannot be a citizen, because citizenship does imply some duty towards whatever that polity entails.

              1. E.g. there are no ‘unfree citizens.’ At best those people would be described as subjects.

              2. A citizen is a legal member of a sovereign state. Freedoms and responsibilities have nothing to do with it.

        2. This…thought the same thing

      2. I’m glad I put off renewing mine for too long. Now my state does not restrict concealed carry.

        I occasionally carry, mostly because I can.

        1. I want to move to an open and carry state and walk around everywhere with my Five-Seven and RM07 TT

      3. If you were truly free you wouldn’t need the CCW.

    2. Bayonet, huh? You’re gonna need one of those things that goes up.

    3. Honestly, I bought my rifle as a screw you to Hillary, because I assumed she would win.

      Hillary sure saw you coming. She was all set to be the next great gun salesman. Trump hasn’t done dick to increase sales.

      1. Huh… I heard that a bunch of leftards were suddenly making noises about “resistance”. I guess their notion of resistance is just snivelling as loud as they can and breaking windows out of retail establishments.

        -jcr

    4. I bought my rifle as a screw you to Hillary

      Pretty stupid reason to buy a firearm.

      1. Eh, people buy yellow Ferraris too.

      2. And yet it is the basis for every post you make.

      3. The only bad reasons to own a firearm are criminal reasons.

      4. Best reason to buy a firearm.

        It’s not enough that I win, it’s that my “enemy” must lose.

    5. Ha, I got one of those Mosin-Nagants in my collection. I got it for $100 and it is from 1942. I like to think it was used by some Finn against the Russians.

    6. … I am not going to accept a Nagant as an “assault rifle” under any definition of the term.

      1. yea…its a basic rifle….he clearly doesn’t know prog terms….granted CA senators dont either 😀

  2. A study by epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that having a firearm in the home almost doubles the risk of a violent death there.

    No it didn’t. It found a correlation between risk of a violent death taking place and having a firearm in the home. His interpretation assumes that the gun is the causal factor, which is not a reasonable assumption. It’s quite likely that people more at risk of suffering violence or needing to kill in self defense are more likely to have guns.

    But I guess this guy thinks correlation is causation.

    1. There’s also gangbangers. Were they considered? I wonder who was counted — some of the CDC gun studies have been so biased and poorly selected, you’d almost think the researchers wanted to pre-select the results.

      Half the country owns guns. If owning a gun was such a sure fire way to double your chances of getting shot, I think anecdotal evidence would reflect that.

      Some “studies” include 18-19 year old as “children”, and deplore the number of “children” dying from guns. Once you throw out gangbangers, criminals, etc, the number of actual children being shot drops considerably.

      A real study looked at shootings in Chicago for one weekend. Almost everyone shot or shooting had a lengthy criminal record. One of the few exceptions was a baby in a car seat driven by two criminals. Sorry for the kid, but you can’t blame her shooting on guns, only on the parents’ lousy lifestyle choices.

      1. There’s also gangbangers.

        Yes, that’s another fact that people ignore. The “gun violence” rate in the US is so high largely because of criminal gangs killing each other. Which isn’t a good thing. But ignoring that information makes it sound like risk of being shot is a lot more randomly distributed than it really is.

      2. “you’d almost think the researchers wanted to pre-select the results.”

        I predict within 10 years, this statement will be considered hate speech.

    2. Psych prof – what can you expect?

      1. At a university in Canada, we might add.

    3. Well, that and “people who are themselves violent criminals are more likely to have a [usually illegal] gun and shoot someone in their home”, seems likely.

      Until the data includes “was the gunowner a felon-in-possession” we can’t tell.

  3. Self defense is not the point of the second amendment, a militia is. And a militia needs military grade weapons to be effective. “shall not be infringed” means exactly that.
    ” I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone’s hands.” What they clearly intended, because it is what they wrote down and signed, is that everyone who chose to could posses what at the time was the most potent weapon at the time, a musket.

    But he is right in feeling that a pistol may not be the most effective form of home protection. Most in home defense will be within a range of 20 feet or less. (how big is the biggest room in your house? How far apart will you be figuring in the furniture against the walls? Even a .22 cal can punch through a couple layers of drywall and a little insulation, what’s on the other side? Blunt instrument trauma, and/or edged weapons are a better choice after a little training. And a lot less likely to get you in trouble in jurisdictions that ignore the second amendment.

    1. Frangible bullets. See “Glaser Safety Slugs”. You’re welcome.

      CB

    2. “Blunt instrument trauma, and/or edged weapons are a better choice after a little training.”

      Horse shit.

      Get into a knife fight and you will get cut. Never mind that, when employed effectively, all are lethal weapons. Or that your melee weapon and training wont do much against a firearm equipped criminal.

    3. A pump action shotgun is the best home defense weapon. The round in the chamber can be “less lethal” just in case of an accidental shoot. The next round can be buckshot or whatever you prefer-all you have to do is work the pump.

      1. Kel-Tec KSG. 12 gauge pump action with two magazine tubes each holding 7x 2.75″ shells and a toggle switch to select tubes. Plus a Picatinny rail to mount flashlight, red dot, etc. One tube with less lethal rounds, one tube with buck shot. Absolutely perfect home defense weapon.

      2. Kel-Tec KSG. 12 gauge pump action with two magazine tubes each holding 7x 2.75″ shells and a toggle switch to select tubes. Plus a Picatinny rail to mount flashlight, red dot, etc. One tube with less lethal rounds, one tube with buck shot. Absolutely perfect home defense weapon.

        1. Never in a billion years will I trust my family’s life to a Kel-Tec. Feel free to watch any of the myriad YouTube videos showing the KSG failing to feed, as is usual Kel-Tec protocol. Get one if you’re a super tacticool dude, and you and your thousand dollar piece of shit will suffer the indignity of getting murdered by a criminal with a Hi-Point. Maybe you’ll get lucky and both of you will have a misfire fest. The Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 are popular for a reason.

          1. 5,000 rounds through it. 3 misfires. As reliable as anything I’ve ever seen anywhere. You’re looking at Gen 1’s from 2011 or so.

            1. That is to say, the issues you’re talking about have been dealt with long ago.

              1. “We fixed it this time” is Kel-Tec’s official motto

          2. Mossberg 500 here. Couldn’t be happier.

            Besides, the first warning is pumping the gun. That sound can’t be mistaken.

      3. This^

        There may even be an opportunity for a company to market a time-delay acoustic device. Put on windows and doors and it gets triggered when those are opened/broken. A minute or two later and speakers elsewhere in the house play the sound of a pump action being racked – chuckchuck. Ain’t too many intruders who will wait around to see if its real. And if they do – well – they mean to do you serious harm and that’s the sort of info homeowners often need to have before they head into a potential firefight.

    4. A militia is part of the set of ‘self-defense’. You have not right to self-defense if it doesn’t include the right to defend yourself against a government.

    5. Even a .22 cal can punch through a couple layers of drywall and a little insulation, what’s on the other side? Blunt instrument trauma, and/or edged weapons are a better choice after a little training.

      IMO, the militia ship sailed April 9, 1865. All the Ruby Ridges and Wacos since have only served to reinforce it.

      Nothing will substitute tactical awareness and/or preparedness. Shotguns are generally (IME) the preferred weapon for home defense as, depending on choices, over-penetration is easily mitigated and the learning curve is lesser.

      Unless you grew up in an area where blunt instrument and/or edged weapon training was the status quo from a young age, and you’ve maintained it, it’s likely that your robbers/assailants will be just as experienced, if not more than you are at melee combat. On top of that, you don’t control when the bad guys decide to strike, they do.

      So, if you’ve ever pulled a muscle or had your arm in a sling and had to rely on someone else to defend you, your ‘best’ or ‘worst case scenario’ weapon choice should reflect that. I’d rather use the shotgun while on crutches or hand it to my wife than a bat or a knife.

    6. “Self defense is not the point of the second amendment, a militia is”

      What is the function of a militia?

      1. “the security of a free State” according to the amendment.

        1. Also known as ‘self defense’. See Agammamon above.

          1. As long as we are being obnoxiously pedantic, a militia would be for collective defense. Self defense would be “the security of a free individual”.

            Regardless of the purpose, it says what it says, which is that people’s right to be armed is protected.

            1. My family is a collective. Or is there a magic number that the collective must reach to have proper recognition? And to rely on the definition of collective its counter to the idea that caused the states requirement of the 2A.

              Britain wanted to take guns from all. Not just the militias.

      2. Note that self-defense is not mentioned primarily because it never occurred to anyone proposing amendments that Free Americans (who shared the common-law heritage of Free Britons) would ever have to worry about their own Government trying to ban self defense.

        Because even King George hadn’t tried that against Britons, just annoyingly rebellious Americans.

    7. The musket was hardly the most potent weapon at the time. The most potent personal weapon was the rifle. They wanted people to own them. Cannon were privately owned. So, for that matter, were cannon armed ships.

      The idea that the framers ‘didn’t envision’ private ownerhip of modern firearms is self-satisfied bullshit dreamed up by elitist assholes who are frigtened by the idea that The Unwashed might be armed.

      This jackass clearly likes the idea of being armed himself, it’s US he wants disarmed.

      Which is why he would look well decorating a lamp post.

      1. “The most potent personal weapon was the rifle.”

        Really depends on how you define potent. Rifles were typically more accurate at range. But also of much reduced caliber and slower to reload/quicker to foul to the point of uselessness when used in combat.

        A typical rifle caliber was .36 – roughly 80 grains (about 5 grams) of lead.
        The British Brown Bess was .75 caliber – roughly 600 grains (39 grams) of lead.

        Either will kill you if you they find center mass. But a Brown Bess hit in the shoulder or thigh was catastrophic.

        Unless I am a dedicated sniper, operating alone or in a pair, I’d want the Brown Bess or similar.

        1. Rifles were more “typically” of more like .45 caliber. .36 was small for the era, even for a rifle.

    8. Blunt instrument trauma, and/or edged weapons are a better choice after a little training.

      All right, let’s experiment with that. Inside the house, you take your choice melee weapon and give me pretty much any common firearm. You, ahem, “come at me, bro” and we’ll see if you can kill me before I kill you.

      Or if you don’t want to duel, we could use rubber knives and airsoft.

      I wouldn’t bet against me in that case…

    9. Self defense is not the point of the second amendment, a militia is.

      No, the point of the second amendment is to forbid the federal government from infringing our right to keep and bear arms. Citing a militia as one reason for this is beside the point. Note also that the amendment doesn’t presume to be granting the right. It acknowledges it as already existing.

      -jcr

    10. Personally I would go with a crossbow. Gives me a ranged option that won’t easy for a child arm and hurt themselves with.

    11. Blunt instrument “trauma” or edged instrument. Really? I suppose a 100 pound woman would totally take down a 200 pound home invader with a hammer or a knife and a little training.

  4. Interesting timing for such an op-ed when a man with an AR-15 just killed three armed home invaders today.

    1. An 8 year-old was also killed by an accidental discharge of a shotgun.

      1. That sucks. People should be careful with guns.

        But people own guns, so bad shit can happen. It’s not a reason to give up a very important right.

        1. It’s not a very important right. But I suppose that’s entirely a matter of opinion.

          1. No, it’s a matter of what you believe rights are and why we have them.

          2. Certainly not important in Mexico, where in 2014, students protesting educational reforms and increasing fees were murdered by government agents. The students, naturally, were unarmed, as Mexicans do not enjoy 2A rights.
            But, of course, it’s an NRA fantasy that a government could possibly act indiscriminately with regards to shooting civilians.

            1. Certainly not important in Mexico, where in 2014, students protesting educational reforms and increasing fees were murdered by government agents. The students, naturally, were unarmed, as Mexicans do not enjoy 2A rights.

              To be fair to the Mexicans, anytime a “militia” forms in Latin America it tends to be put down (real hard) by government forces/death squads. Ask FARC or the FMLN (or any villager mistaken for one).

      2. Most gun accidents are avoidable. This is most definitely the parent’s fault. However, this is irrelevant to the issue of gun ownership or the 2nd Amendment. Unless Tony also wants to outlaw cars because car accidents kill so many.

        1. kitchens and bathrooms too. they are very dangerous. so many er visits stem from a kitchen.

        2. Tony doesn’t want you protected. He wants you controlled.

        3. I think “sensible regulation” on cars can do a great deal of good without harming anyone’s rights.

          The only reason you think otherwise with respect to guns is because your brain has been curdled by lobbyist propaganda.

          1. Such as?

  5. Blunt instrument trauma, and/or edged weapons are a better choice after a little training

    A well-trained 120-pound woman with a bat still won’t do squat against a 200-pound burglar or rapist except piss him off. A 9mm round to center mass will do a lot more.

    1. According to FBI studies, neither will that 9 mm. 45 ACP or GTFO. Or, better, something out of a shotgun or SBR.

      1. That ‘FBI study’ was all about percentage of one shot stops.

        The answer is simple: Don’t buy a single shot pistol.

        1. Except that getting multiple hits on center mass in a high stress situation is very very difficult.

          1. Any gun is still better than no gun.

  6. “I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone’s hands.”

    Pretty sure the Founders also didn’t envision the internet, ergo the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to online magazines?

    1. People have made that argument.

    2. Almost certain the Founders also didn’t envision tenured psychology professors.

    3. We had a lot of weapons that were multi-shot, or much quicker on a reload. The brits had a few guns that were up in the 15 second reload time. I refuse to believe the founders didn’t think that through.

  7. We really should restore the militia to its original function. Yes – states abused and neglected that responsibility and were allowed to do so by a federal govt that neglected its own constitutional responsibilities for same prior to 1903.

    But it’s pretty clear to me that a whole slew of problems – excess overseas involvement by a standing army, overly professionalized police that don’t really recruit in all neighborhoods, overly militarized police, failure to make the US population itself a hard target against asymmetric threats posed by lone wolves and terrorists, overreliance on ‘professional guardians’ by a passive population which leads to ‘gun control’ as an easy out, AND the obsessive nutjobbery shown by some re weapons. All of those have an origin in the failure of local neighborhoods to muster and take adult responsibility for their own community’s safety.

    1. Once the government got away with having an unconstitutional standing army, they figured why not remove the populaces ability to defend against their new toy. That is about as simple as it gets. Of course, the government wants you to believe that it’s ‘for your safety’ when empirically there is zero evidence that’s the case. A cursory glance at police response times gives away the lie.

      1. It’s not primarily the federal govt that destroyed the militia or that created gungrabbing. States are the ones that abused it as an instrument of oppression and neglected it when they weren’t abusing it. They are the ones who created gun control. I doubt the feds had a devious 150 year plan to step into the vacuum that states created – even if doing so creates new problems.

        Only 21 states have even a nominally ‘active’ state militia now (separate from the Natl guard which is the federalizable force) and only 3 or 4 of those are remotely capable of deploying for some emergency. States have to take this responsibility back – and show they’ve learned from their past. Once that happens, things can change. Things will never change with an exclusive focus on either the individual or the federal.

  8. If more guns does not simply equal more gun violence, then we must be an exceptionally homicidal, suicidal, and accident-prone country.

    1. Mexico doesn’t have a gun-violence problem though – since they’ve nearly outlawed possession after all.

      And the UK is such a safe place – you rarely get stabbed or bludgeoned.

      1. The UK is also a place where anything not nailed down gets stolen and people have bars on ground floor windows even outside of big cities.

        1. In Mexico it’s bars on all access points below the third floor.

          1. I’m sure the UK loves to brag that it’s safer than Mexico.

    2. Drug wars suck, don’t they? Also, police worship doesn’t help things…

      But yes, a gun doesn’t necessarily make one more safe or less safe. A gun is a tool. An axe doesn’t make the tree fall down, it gives a person a chance to cut down a tree if they want to.

      Getting well trained (the 1890s phrase would be “well regulated”) and having (“bearing”) are necessary in order to give the person the option of using the gun in order to protect themselves.

      1. Except that evidence suggests strongly that the mere presence of a gun does make you less safe.

        Which shouldn’t be an astounding factoid considering what the point of a gun is.

  9. If more guns does not simply equal more gun violence, then we must be an exceptionally homicidal, suicidal, and accident-prone country.

    1. Yeah, pretty much since day 1. Welcome to history.

      And more guns simply does not equate to more violence. As an objective fact. Welcome to empiricism.

      1. Or Switzerland.

        1. No longer fully true. While the Swiss reserve still have select fire in most homes they no longer have the ammo.

    2. Actually we are pretty homicidal compared to many other nations. We had more homicide than the UK and Japan before those countries enacted their respective gun control laws (which BTW were not enacted to address violent crime but rather other concerns).

      1. I like the part of your comment where you noted that other countries, especially the U.K., measure crimes very differently, their populace is roughly 1/4th that of the U.S., and the fact that automagically stabbing crime made up the difference post-gun outlawing.

        It’s a good thing you mentioned it, because otherwise I would have been sure that you had no idea what you were talking about.

    3. And let me remind you that the most dangerous places in the US are exclusively inside jurisdictions that are have both been controlled by Democratic supermajorities for over a generation *and* heavily regulate the possession of firearms.

      1. False. The worst gun death place in the US is the Deep South and it’s not even close. That’s hardly a big blue area. When people without skin in the game do studies, they find pretty much zero correlation between gun laws and gun deaths.

        1. So, you’re telling us that Chicago isn’t the murder capital of the United States or you’re telling us that using the murder rate is the wrong metric? I’m confused.

          1. I guess there’s some ambiguity there. Same as in the original comment. It’s pretty hard to compare red cities versus blue cities, as there really aren’t any red cities. Moreover, talking about policies in cities makes very little sense for a gun rights advocate. In general, gun rights advocates tend to cite other factors as being important for the murder rate, such as the inner-city drug trade, etc. Those sorts of things are pretty much independent of which party is in control of a city.

            On a state-by-state level, the worst are red (LA, MS, etc) but there are also high murder rate blue states and very low murder rate red states. At the state level, the correlation between murder rates and where the state leans on the political spectrum is basically zero.

            I’m simply saying that the original comment is overly simplistic and ignores basically all of the data on the subject. I say this as a gun rights advocates. I could have said much more.

    4. Appa-fucking-lachia.

      We’ve got guns coming out of our ears, the last shooting in this county was six years ago, and that was a woman from New Mexico who drove here apparently specifically to murder her daughter’s boyfriend.
      I couldn’t even tell you when the next most recent was.

    5. Suicide and accidents = violence?

      Is this like freedom = slavery?

    6. There’s 310 million guns in the country owned by 81 million of us. Only 33 thousand people a year get killed by guns, 2/3 of which are suicides. 0.00011 of a percent of the total population.That’s statistically insignificant.

      If we were as stupid and dangerous with guns as you say we are, you wouldn’t be able to walk outside without tripping over a body.

      You’re just a hoplophobe and I suspect, a coward to boot.

  10. …because correlation does not prove causation.

    What kind of researcher doesn’t immediately think this?

  11. It’s hard to tell if posts are eaten by the squirrels or merely delayed.

    So what do you do to prevent double-posting?

    You post a test.

    TEST! 123 . . .

  12. There’s nothing that says exercising our rights needs to pass some rationality test in order to qualify for legitimate protection.

    Does the First Amendment only protect rational speech, or does it protect stupid speech, as well?

    Does the First Amendment only protect rational religions, or does it protect irrational religious beliefs, too?

    Our rights are a right to make a choice. They arise naturally as an artifact of human agency. Respect for people’s right to make choices for themselves shouldn’t be predicated on the apparent rationality of their choices. If there’s any justification for disregarding our right to makes choices for ourselves, it’s only after we choose to violate someone else’s rights.

    Merely because other people’s choices aren’t rational is certainly no justification to violate their rights.

    Oh, and, in addition, some people’s qualitative preferences for relative safety over other considerations isn’t inherently rational. The proper term for people who qualitatively prize safety above all other considerations is “paranoid agoraphobia”. It is not rational.

  13. I prefer riding a motorcycle to work rather than a car because although it’s more dangerous, it costs less, gets me through traffic faster, and it’s more fun. I prize these things over the safety considerations. Even if I only rode my motorcycle because it was more fun than a car, that wouldn’t make my choice irrational. It would only mean that my qualitative preferences are such that I prefer some things more than the risk they present to my safety.

    Some people like to fly in airplanes, eat fatty foods, or keep guns in their homes. That doesn’t make any of them irrational–not even if having a gun in your home really does double the chance of homicide.

    1. But you aren’t allowed to force someone else to take a motorcycle.

      1. And the Second Amendment doesn’t protect the right to indiscriminately shoot people.

        It simply protects your right to choose to own and carry a gun. You can still be held responsible if you choose to use your gun to violate someone’s rights.

        Why is this not obvious to you?

        1. I like to call it “intellectual impetus”, the desire to never change your mind regardless of any logical obstacle put in your way.

        2. Since the presence of guns makes people less safe, say the children in your house, your right to own a gun is coming into direct conflict with their right to be safe from violent death.

          You can argue for maximum gun rights but don’t pretend that there are no consequences to that position.

          1. I spoke to this directly, Tony.

            The presence of swimming pools in the backyard presumably increases the incidence of children drowning by some multiple–should we ban backyard swimming pools, too? Every time you pull your car out into the street, you’re increasing the risk of death for pedestrians–should we ban cars? What about banning alcohol in restaurants and bars? Every year someone’s child is killed by a drunk driver.

            Safety is a qualitative preference secondary to other considerations, in some respect, for everyone–except for the insane.

            Either you’ve chosen not to understand what I wrote or it was beyond your comprehension.

            1. Let’s be fair, Ken. It’s certainly possible that neither of the two options in your final sentence are true. A perfectly credible third option is that he understands it, but wants to hold on to his flimsy argument because he’s so invested in it, and doesn’t care that his position has a weak foundation.

      2. Because people will be forced to own guns? Or are you saying that people who enter the home of a gun owner are unknowingly putting their lives at risk?

  14. ” I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone’s hands.”

    I think the author has no clue how the performance of a hollow point compares to that of a soft lead ball. But I am quite certain the drafters of the second amendment clearly understood just how deadly a round ball is.

    The jacket of a hollowpoint is not there because it improves lethality. The jacket is there because it reduces barrel fouling. The hollowpoint is there to allow the pullet to expand – just like a round lead ball does – on impact. Unlike a fully jacketed bullet, which typically does not expand.

    Arguing from ignorance was his first mistake.

    1. And, just to be complete, as to the first part of his statement, I think the drafters envisioned the people possessing weapons of up to or equal in efficacy to that of current military standards. Semiautomatic pistols, concealed or otherwise, hardly being the equal of any current standard military issue long arm.

      1. The funniest/most pathetic part of the leftist lament that “the founders never meant us to own military-grade firearms!” is that smoothbore muskets and long rifles were military-grade firearms during the Revolutionary period.

        They’re trying to make the point that the founders never envisioned the effects of the scale of modern technology, but that’s no more applicable to the 2nd Amendment than it is to any of the other amendments.

      2. The funniest/most pathetic part of the leftist lament that “the founders never meant us to own military-grade firearms!” is that smoothbore muskets and long rifles were military-grade firearms during the Revolutionary period.

        They’re trying to make the point that the founders never envisioned the effects of the scale of modern technology, but that’s no more applicable to the 2nd Amendment than it is to any of the other amendments.

      3. And just to be complete as to what the drafters envisioned, I’m pretty sure that they were smart enough to extrapolate from an existing semi-automatic military rifle (the Girandoni) to possible future pistol-sized versions that might be concealable.

    2. I think the author has no clue how the performance of a hollow point compares to that of a soft lead ball.

      It also shows a bit of hoplophobia or hoplo-centricity to their thinking. I’d rather take a JHP to the gut in 2017 than a lead ball to the hand in the late 18th/early 19th cent (and more, obv.). Given the lack of asceptic technique and antibiotics, I’d almost prefer the JHP to an extremity to shaving in 1776.

      The idea that our FF couldn’t imagine massive destruction or gore is idiotic and ignores the oft-lamented curse of modern combat/warfare; where a pilot presses a button to destroy a village whereas his predecessors had to slay half of them by the sword before burning the other half alive.

      1. ” I’d almost prefer the JHP to an extremity to shaving in 1776.”

        Come come, don’t you know that a decoction of vinegared horse urine is the perfect after shave?

        1. Back in the day when acute lead poisoning wasn’t a euphemism.

  15. emotionally satisfying but logically deficient

    How much weight did you give to the emotional satisfaction when you did that calculation? It’s not necessarily logically deficient to value emotional satisfaction, you dolt. People tend to “illogically” bet on long odds when the risk/reward factors are way out of whack – ask anybody who buys a lottery ticket. It’s mathematically illogical to buy a lottery ticket, but for a buck you can fantasize for a while that you might win and how exactly is it illogical to say maybe a dollar’s worth of dreaming is a dollar well-spent?

    1. Having qualitative preferences isn’t inherently irrational?

      Who knew?!

      P.S. What does having a swimming pool in the backyard do to the chances of one of your children drowning?

      Will somebody please think about the children?

      1. ” What does having a swimming pool in the backyard do to the chances of one of your children drowning?”

        If more people knew there would be a lot less backyard pools.

    2. I don’t buy lottery tickets ever. I do buy guns. Buying guns is far more rational. Lottery tickets really lose value quickly and contain very little clever engineering.

      Self defense is not the top of the list of why I have guns. The real reasons are 1. I really like guns for the amazing machines that they are, 2. I really like shooting, 3. Civilians should be armed, it’s insane how many people think it’s a good idea for only the government to be effectively armed, 4. self defense.

      1. Buying guns is only far more rational if you are happier buying guns than lottery tickets.

        It’s like I always say with regards to these studies that show how much drug use costs society – they never count the enjoyment of the drug user as a benefit. If I’d rather have a hundred bucks worth of coke up my nose than the hundred bucks, shouldn’t it be obvious the enjoyment of the coke is worth more than the hundred bucks to me? Is it irrational of me to prefer the happiness of the drug to the cost of the drug, am I not better off in my estimation?

        1. Well, yes, you do have to define what your goals are before deciding what actions are rational to take. Fair point. If you value immediate pleasure, or wasting money (or whatever it is that people get out of lottery tickets) above all else, then it’s perfectly rational to spend your last $100 on coke or lottery tickets. I just have zero interest in lotteries or gambling and I hate it when I’m in line behind someone taking forever buying stupid lottery tickets.

  16. I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone’s hands.”

    I don’t understand why anyone would think this was relevant.

    Look at it this way – self-defense requires *parity* (at a minimum) between aggressor and defender. As such, what the FF ‘envisioned’ is not material. If the aggressor has a pointy stick, you need a pointy stick or better to defend yourself. If he has a wheelock pistol, you need the same. If he has a semi-automatic handgun you need the same. If he has a tactical nuclear weapon, you need the same.

    The above logic is why police go around armed with ‘patrol rifles’ (ie ‘assault weapons’) and no one blinks an eye. The military spends $150 million on an air superiority fighter and who knows how much on nuclear weapons to maintain parity and people consider that perfectly rational.

    But a private citizen arming himself to counter potential threats? Inconceivable!

    1. The Second Amendment was primarily intended 1) to counter the need for conscription and a standing army and 2) so average citizens could rise up against an oppressive dictator and his army.

      I doubt the framers ever envisioned that our military would have average citizens so severely outgunned. The military has helicopters, drones, jet fighters, bombers, tanks, APCs, etc.

      1. I hear a variation of an argument along these lines often. That the current military weapons make ownership of small arms with the intent of repelling tryanny a joke. But haven’t we already seen small arms compare quite favorably against the mighty U.S. military a lot lately? Asymmetric warfare seems to work quite well.

        1. Even more so in a situation where they were in a position to oppose US citizens. Yes, the US military has tanks. That doesn’t mean that citizens with ARs and 9mm’s are unable to defend themselves against the US military. God forbid such a situation actually happened… but, it’s one thing to order a military unit to round up and detain a bunch of American citizens. It’s another thing to ask them to round up American citizens who might shoot back. That is the kind of difference that would push military from saying, “i know this is wrong, but people are complying, so fuck it” and get them to start saying, “this is fucking wrong and i’m not risking my life to do it.”

          1. Totally agreed. The notion that small arms would be useless in deterring an organized military seems to fly in the face of everything we’ve learned from warfare since at least Vietnam.

            1. Uhh, or we could use the example of the Revolutionary War where a bunch of ‘irregular’ farmers whipped the shit out of the British Empire by doing exactly this. Yeah, I think the framers knew.

              1. Not to bash the minutemen or anything, but the Revolutionary-era militia sucked ass. They were ill-trained, inexperienced, inadequately armed, and fled whenever the Brits fixed bayonets and charged. They were better off serving as tactical bait like at Cowpens, or doing hit-and-run style attacks against Indians or isolated British outposts. If anybody won the Revolutionary War, it was the Continental Army.

          2. I know plenty of marines that are totally cool with killing Americans if the time comes. I also know most of them are to stupid even with help to figure out what a can of A-I-R is.

        2. You may be right, but my point above wasn’t meant to be applied to every argument that comes down the pike. I was responding specifically to the suggestion that framers had no idea that civilians could be so heavily armed. Point being, they expected us to be on parity with the military–so that we wouldn’t need a standing army and so we could hold our own against an oppressor and his army.

          Hence, the suggestion that the framers didn’t comprehend our firepower is off.

  17. . . . but I don’t need to defend my stuff by shooting someone. That’s just crazy.”

    Socialists everywhere thank you for your consideration. And thank you for your tv.

    1. He’ll leave the ‘shooting people to protect his shit’ up to the police.

      Because they have proven themselves timely, and prudent in such matters.

      1. So yes, he is quite attached to his own superstitions.

    2. I certainly think people are justified in shooting people who break into their homes. But I can quite understand deciding not to shoot someone to protect your property, or choosing to retreat rather than confront an intruder if it’s safe to do so. Doing so may expose you to unnecessary risks. And killing someone, even if justified, can cause psychological distress.

  18. “I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone’s hands.”

    Does this shit-flinging Progtard not realize the goddamn Founders envisioned citizens with their own fucking cannon and warships? Seriously, how can these jagoffs be this fucking ignorant? And really, the 2nd Amendment is a Negative Right: the Government is forbidden from INFRINGING because it is preexisting part of the human condition. Government’s do no grant rights.

  19. If the professor wants to be “rational” he should consult with experts in self-defense rather than epidemiologists.

  20. some guns from the 17xx’s. take two, because the comments are broken AF.

    1. or, apparently just held in the nowhere for a few minutes.
      FIX THIS POS.

  21. Sometimes folks leave their logic at home. If I have a gun in my house, it’s in my house for many tens of thousands of encounters with people that live and visit my house. The chance of a home invasion is low; it may never happen. So while the chance of someone (and it’s not a random event, so “chance” is a poor choice of words) being killed on a “per event” basis is much higher for the home invader than my wife or kids. (And, ya know, on a “per contact” basis, a white guy is more likely to be killed by a cop than a black guy. But there are just a lot more “contacts” with blacks and cops.)

  22. I do not think the drafters of the second amendment envisioned concealed semiautomatic weapons and hollow-point bullets in everyone’s hands

    So, a bunch of words he thinks are reason, but are emotion.

    Concealed? Well, I don’t recall the Founders mentioning it at all, and certainly there’s no reason a gentleman of 1789 couldn’t conceal a small flintlock – or even a “brace of pistols” as one of the Founders is known to have carried when traveling.

    Hollow-point bullets? What, a 9mm hollowpoint is seriously worse than a .52 ball? Does he think gunshots were harmless before the invention of the wicked hollowpoint dumdum murderbrick?

    Hollowpoints make small projectiles somewhat more effective; that’s it.

    And semi-automatics? Well, they didn’t exist in 1789, no. But … multi-shot pistols did. Pepperbox pistols were being marketed by 1790, and the earliest percussion caps existed by the War of 1812, not prompting any change in the Amendment to meet the horror of better guns.

    The idea that the Founders would recoil at modern handguns rather than embrace them is … ahistorical.

    They did, after all, accept, promote, and protect the private possession of cannons, legal to this day.

    But, like I said. His argument is not rational, but emotional.

    (It’ll become more rational when he extends his “could not have foreseen” to undermine rights he approves of for other people, not just for himself.)

  23. Mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin..

    Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

    Deceptive Transformation: The Truth of Soviet Influence in America and Gun Control..
    The idea of using mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin, and the social sciences, or the studying of human behavior has its roots in early twentieth century Russia when Ivan Pavlov developed his
    “classical conditioning” theories. In fact, Pavlov was disturbed that Vladimir Lenin would use these conditioning methods against the people in order to get them to accept communism. Since that time the social sciences have been used as a means of maintaining control over populations and getting them to accept their own down fall.

  24. There are over 370 “mental disorders” listed in the latest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) The list includes “Tobacco Addiction Disorder” among other equally mundane and ridiculous so-called “mental illnesses.”

    If the DSM is the standard by which politicians wishes to remove our rights to own guns, then I’d guess 90% of the American people could probably be classified with a mental disorder of one kind or another.

    BEWARE, BEWARE

  25. Twice in the last 25 years I have had some unknown man enter my home. The first time, it was about 7 AM. My wife and I were in bed and I heard someone coming up the stairs to where our bedroom is. I said hello several times and got no answer. I grabbed my loaded pistol, which was in a drawer by the bed, and stood at the bedroom door with the gun at my side. There was a man at t the top of the stairs. I asked what he was doing and he said “Don’t shoot”. I said to hit the road, which he did. I have no idea what he was up to.

    The second time was about 3 AM and I was in my attic studio. I heard what sounded like someone coming in the front door. Again, I got my pistol and went downstairs. There, I witnessed a man, obviously drunk, come staggering out of the downstairs bathroom. I told him to get out, which he did. In both cases I called the police immediately after, but the intruders were not located. Also, in both cases, I was supremely grateful that I had that gun.

    FYI, we began locking the front door after the first incident, but had overlooked locking it prior to the second.

  26. Typical, “I like guns but…” I hear from many anti-gun liberals. Only a fool falls for it.

  27. He certainly lives in the US because he could not do this in Canada.

  28. The estimate by the DOJ of “less than 100,000” Defensive Gun Uses is deceitful, if not deliberately mendacious. The survey did NOT ask any direct questions about Defensive Gun Uses.

    It also stated outright that it was carried out by the Justice Department and required respondents to give their name and address which were recorded. So all survey respondents were required to identify themselves to the government department which could prosecute and imprison them for any illegal gun use…

    see http://www.DiscourageCriminals.net/ho…..-are-there

  29. Justifiable gun homicides therefore represent a tiny fraction of the defensive benefit from gun ownership.

    There, I thought that sentence ought to be in boldface.

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