Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gunfights Cause Collateral Damage

I heard on CNN that applications for gun permits are on the rise in Colorado. Apparently there are people who think that arming everyone will cut down on crime. They seriously believe that if more people in the Aurora Theater shooting were packing then there would have been fewer deaths and injuries. The idea is that a gunfight between the psychotic killer and an average citizen would have resulted in the killer's death.

Here's a bit of news from Toronto that might help put this in perspective. On June 2, 2012 a gang member opened fire on another gang member in the food court of the Toronto Eaton Centre. The intended target was killed but so was a nearby shopper. Three others were wounded. On July 15, 2012 two or three rival gang members decided to have a gunfight at a barbecue in a Toronto suburb. One of them was wounded. Two innocent bystanders were killed and 22 others were wounded [Scarborough shootings: What really happened on Danzig?].

Turns out that the average citizen isn't a very good shooter. More often than not, they miss their intended target and hit someone else. Lots of people die in gunfights, not just the bad guys—it's called collateral damage.

Imagine what the death toll in Aurora might have been with more than one person blasting away with an automatic weapon.

All civilized nations have strict gun control laws. Their citizens have this strange notion that killing other people is never a viable option and they can't imagine why anyone would deliberately buy guns with the intention of shooting a fellow citizen, even in self defense or prevention of a presumed crime.

I guess some nations have a long history of solving problem with gun violence and it's difficult to abandon that option.


Image Credits: Charlton Heston (top), Tombstone (bottom)

24 comments :

  1. Not to mention that the Aurora shooter was covered in body armour - apparently in anticipation of a shoot-out with cops. So your average civilian with a pea-shooter in their purse would have just made themselves a bigger target and wouldn't have stopped anything.
    It's amazing how these arguments get trotted out each time, even when shootings happen in states with ridiculously lax gun control laws. Obviously, letting practically anyone carry guns doesn't do much to ensure that someone will be armed and ready to take out the crazed shooter, or we would be reading more stories about it. But the lax gun laws do make it extremely easy for the shooters to load up on military-grade weaponry.

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  2. A Dutch quality newspaper gave the following data on 23 July (source: FBI):

    Murders in the US per year, with gun and otherwise (graph readout):
    2005 10,000 5,000
    2006 10,000 5,000
    2007 10,000 5,000
    2008 9,500 5,000
    2009 9,000 5,000
    2010 8,500 5,000

    About 48,000 gun deaths in the 4 years of a presidency.
    More than any other source of death?

    The same newspaper had the following statistic for 2007:
    Fire arms in private hands, world total: 875 million
    Fire arms in private hands, US: 270 million.
    That is: 31% of privately owned fire arms were in the hands of US citizens in 2007.

    The estimate for fire arm possession in the US for 2012 is 300 million, 30 million more than in 2007.

    In the US, 90 privately owned fire arms are present per 100 persons. Highest for the world.
    Next is Jemen, with 61 private fire arms per 100 persons. Jemen, of course, is a notably unruly

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  3. I think this graph of gun ownership versus intentional gun-deaths by country really says it all: http://www.leftfootforward.org/images/2012/07/Gun-ownership-gun-deaths-correlation.jpg

    I honestly can't think of a single situation where the introduction of an extra gun would reduce the chance of people getting shot or killed.

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  4. You all do realize that, like a zillion other blog commentaries secondary to the Colorado theaters, a whole bunch of statistics get bandied about which have nothing to do with deranged shooters opening fire with the intent to kill innocent bystanders. And, btw, I am sure the NRA can quote chapter and verse of examples pistol-packing Joe Citizen taking down criminals and saving the day. Nice balance, there, Larry(?)

    If we want to reduce firearm mayhem in America, the first thing we should do is legalize drugs.

    Anf we really want to help more Tea Party candidates to get elected, the first thing we should do is bandy about irrelevant crime statistics and urge liberals (right after the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed 2nd Amendment protection of an individual's right to own guns for self-protection, no less) to press for gun control.

    More people get killed by getting hit by lightning every year than get killed by deranged rampage shooters. We have issues like Climate change, where billions stand to lose their lives by starvation and disease and we really, really do not need to serve up Tea Party seats on a silver platter. The left has to be batsh*t crazy to keep making this an issue and, frankly, the world can not afford it.

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  5. In Larry’s post, “Religious Intolerance: United States Is more Tolerant than Europe,” the consensus of Sandwalk fans is that the act of taking a defenseless human life (abortion) is OK, as long as it’s the Mom’s decision. If that’s so, why, in this post, is it implied that James Holmes’ taking of defenseless human lives in Aurora, Colorado is not OK? Is there something from a exclusively philosophical naturalistic evolutionary (non-societal, non-governmental) view that supports the idea of one having ‘rights’ over one’s own body, as in a Mom’s decision to end a pregnancy? If so, what? And, if so, how is a women’s personal decision to take the defenseless life in her body different from Holmes decision to take the defenseless lives of people outside his body? Can anyone at Sandwalk respond solely on the basis of their philosophical naturalistic evolutionary beliefs, without propping-up their argument up with negative references to things they don’t believe, like the Christian notion of life’s sanctity?

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    1. Mr. Denny, as usual, shows himself to be totally inept at critical thinking. The difference between a woman having an abortion at 3 months or less and James Holmes murder rampage is obvious to anyone not brainwashed by religious crap.

      Just for the information of Mr. Denny, his non-existent god is the world's greatest abortionist as most initial pregnancies are naturally terminated by the failure of the blastocyst to implant itself. According to the anti-abortionist nutcases, life begins at conception, the blastocyst is post-conception, and therefore failure to implant amounts to a spontaneous abortion.

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    2. Can anyone at Sandwalk respond solely on the basis of their philosophical naturalistic evolutionary beliefs,

      If I had a philosophical naturalistic evolutionary 'belief' ... ! I simply consider evolution to be the best explanation for our existence. That does not mean I couldn't care less about people (even 3 month old foetuses). You have a bizarre, but not uncommon, view of what the intellectual/social consequences of 'naturalism' should be.

      I am 'pro-choice', with reservations. I don't see things as black-or-white. A jar of semen and another jar of eggs - not really something I should worry too much about. Those two jars mixed? Becomes a jar containing zygotes. Some of those zygotes implanted in a womb? Hmmm. One week later? Weeeell ... 3 months plus? OK, now you're just... one year later ... ?

      I presume you see the 'point of no return' at fertilisation, or shortly after, and would legislate accordingly. Fair enough, you will never have to make that really tough decision, and you don't want anyone else to either. But we have a real world that we have to put these people in. I think having a period where unwanted pregnancy can legally be 'undone' is justified. I can't say I am wholeheartedly in favour of it.

      In your other post, you seem to oppose arguments for gun control. For what purpose, in God's good name, would anyone carry a gun? To threaten, kill or maim. And that is OK? Disguise it as self-defence if you like, but that is the bottom line. A nation infested with card-carrying 'turn-the-other-cheek' Christians is, with a strong bias towards members of that very same group, absolutely determined to preserve the right to carry personal weapons that demonstrably harm thousands annually. And to kill a segment of society - full-grown humans - by more cold-blooded methods. I've got moral issues? Please!

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  6. Larry said, “All civilized nations have strict gun control laws.” – Larry didn’t define “civilized” (Case in point being North Korea’s strong gun controls.) So (quoting mining fans), taking from Thomas Sowell’s ‘Gun control fails to provide solution,’ “Britain [has] stronger gun control laws than the United States — and lower murder rates. But Mexico, Russia and Brazil are also countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States — and their murder rates are much higher than [the US’s]. Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States — and much lower murder rates than ours [US].” So, Larry, after defining the word “civilized,” and through the eyes of someone who believes there is no special purpose or meaning to human life, where’s the support for your statement?

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    1. Mr. Denny's citing of a self hating Afro-American like Uncle Tom Sowell is yet another reminder of what a clown he is.

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  7. Oddly enough, I've never heard a 2nd amendment fan say that Trayvon Martin would be just fine today if only he had been armed. I wonder what the difference is, hmmm?

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    1. there's a far better chance that Martin would have been just fine today if Zimmerman had not been armed.

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  8. This Canadian insists gun laws are bad for a free people and not needed.
    I love the Heston picture and recently saw the Tombstone movie. it was second rate, as modern westerns are, and never will i watch it again.

    Its not the guns but rather its the intent to murder that is the problem. There is very little gun damage to innocent people in america relative to size.
    Few people murder people or ever will.
    These cases are rare and weird.
    Perhaps its not the guns but high education to blame as the killer here was seriously studious.
    Just kidding!

    regulation but not prohibition is all a nation need do.
    Gang problems can be fixed if they want to.

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    1. Guns make it far easier for people to kill their intended victims and far more likely that bystanders will die too. Making it harder for people to commit crime is a no-brainer.

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  9. It’s clear that SLC is unable or unwilling to make a critical rational argument for his beliefs that stands on its own. Is there any Sandwalk fan, who, with an exclusive audience of naturalists/atheists/evolutionists, unconcerned with theistic views, could make a reasoned argument for how evolution’s humans can claim rights, like natural rights that would support one kind of killing (abortion) and oppose another (murder)? Some animals eat or simply kill their young. Is it the same (in naturalistic/atheistic/evolutionistic thinking) for a human female, when she decides to abort a baby at any stage of development? Is it the same when a human male mows down defenseless moviegoers? What’s the naturalists’/atheists’/evolutionists’ answer that is not supported by a disagreeable view of someone else’s opinion?

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    1. Excuse me, it's Mr. Denny who fails to provide a reasoned argument. In particular, he fails to respond to my statement that his nonexistent god is the worlds greatest abortionist, as the majority of blastocysts, which are fertilized eggs, fail to implant are are aborted. Since according to Mr. Denny, life begins at conception, the failure of blastocysts to implant is an abortion, and therefore a destruction of life. Apparently, in the comic world of Mr. Denny, god is to be absolved of murder.

      However, let's ask Mr. Denny some questions. Is it murder when an aircraft drops bombs on a city and kills hundreds, if not thousands of people, including pregnant women? If so, then Roosevelt and Churchill are as guilty as Frankenberger and Tojo. Is it murder when someone who has not killed anybody is executed by the Government (Caryl Chessman anyone)?

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  10. Allan,

    Thanks for a respectful thoughtful response. Larry has a way of raising some of the most difficult and controversial issues with which humans grapple. Death by surgery and death by gun are examples. My core questions are typically aimed at discovering a philosophical naturalistic evolutionary (and all the other synonyms) view vs. a theistic/Christian view – because it’s those underlying worldviews that shape other things like ‘science and human origins.’ I’m curious about how philosophical naturalistic evolutionary principles explain the underlying notion that humans acquire things like rights.

    Speaking for myself, I think the notion of rights goes to things that are not material, which leads to the issue of the spiritual. If one intellectually and philosophically denies the spiritual, what’s the material explanation that leads to abortion is OK and gunning down people in a theater is not.

    I appreciate your statement, “I simply consider evolution to be the best explanation for our existence.” OK.

    I don’t know what you think my “view of what the intellectual/social consequences of 'naturalism' should be.” I simply don’t know how humanists support their views outside a biblical framework. I’ve read the Humanist Manifesto a few times, but it seems shallow and fuzzy to me, and does not recognize the depth and complexity of the human condition.

    Your other ‘abortion’ paragraphs are revealing. Thanks. My interpretation of them is that, again!!! – in the context of meaning vs. no meaning – they reveal an aspect to the human ‘nature’ that goes beyond the material.

    Your points about gun control again raise the issue of meaning and purpose for me. Humans don’t limit their entire existence to simply killing something to eat or protect a territory. Or do they? The Aurora killings look like evil to me. But, what’s evil? It doesn’t seem to me that James Holmes had any natural need to kill people. Does a naturalists think in terms of evil, and how would that square with materialism?

    You said, “I've got moral issues? Please!” I never said you are anyone at Sandwalk didn’t have morals. I question the basis of the morals, if human life has no purpose and, as Neil deGrasse Tyson has said, is “headed to oblivion.” Then what’s the point of morals?

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  11. Denny,

    I think you can be rather touchy over rhetoric!

    Many Christians equate atheism with amorality, and questions linking one moral issue with another are frequent fodder for the 'atheists-no-moral-compass' brigade. I was playing around with that with my final rhetorical flourish.

    As to the source of morality, I think it is simply a combination of our shared genetic heritage and shared cultural conditioning. We feel a sense of constraint - we are social animals, and either directly or indirectly, a set of behaviours builds up in us that contains some common elements and some a little more flexible.

    You would presumably have it that common morality indicates a common restraint external to ourselves - and this sense may bolster your faith. But for me, not so.

    I think the 'point of morals' is to cement social structures. Some specific behaviours may have been favoured because they allowed more offspring to be generated in a social group. A more general set of genes presumably underpins the more general sense of 'wishing to belong', which is more capable of tuning by the prevailing cultural mood. The result is a set of restraints which we mark both by their effect on our behaviour, and our wish to see others agree. Some people felt the need to write down their moral sense in their holy texts, and reify it.

    Just because life is pointless does not mean it isn't worth anything!

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  12. Thank you, Allen, for more thoughtful respectful comments.

    I do not equate atheism with amorality.

    While, I do see in your remarks where ‘genetic material’ would apply in the question of morals or human/cultural rights, one would have to be an evolutionist to agree with your points. There are many cases of biological social cultures. I keep bees. They are very social. I detect no sense of moral constraints. In fact, I see no moral aspect to their behavior whatsoever. One colony will rob another vulnerable colony without concern for the negative consequences to the robbed colony. Is there another example of ‘genetic material’ permitting moral constraints, outside of humans? I’m sure you can see where I’m going. What makes humans so unique and special, with regard to traits like rights and morals – things that seem to have less to do with physical survival (for the sake of the species) and more to do with existentialism? The Bible attributes human’s uniqueness and specialness to an act of the Creator. To what would a naturalistic evolutionists attribute our perceived uniqueness?

    Another question for you is about fairness. Humans persistently and intrinsically have a sense of fairness - whether things are fair or not. I do not perceive that any other creatures have that sense. As a wildebeest is about to be consumed by lions, I do not think he complains of the unfairness of it all. I’m still probing the things that humans have seen as distinctions between them and the rest of creation, confirmed by unconnected, unrelated recorders over long spans of time in the Bible and other holy books. How does an evolutionist see the issue of fairness emanating from genetic material?

    “Just because life is pointless does not mean it isn't worth anything!” – Wow! I knew you would likely say something like that. But, I think you would have a hard time selling that concept to most of the people in the world. I think most people would think life has a point (even if they couldn’t articulate it) and therefore valued, or pointless and therefore worthless. I wonder how value and worth are assigned or gain their meaning (especially existentially), when pointlessness is acknowledged. I suspect that you would agree that most people (who don’t have the benefit of cosmic scientific knowledge) would struggle with pointlessness. So, here I go again, how does an evolutionist explain the apparent human need to have value and worth, from a materialistic perspective?

    If you agree with my assumption that most people would struggle with pointlessness, Why would they? What have evolutionists to say as an explanation for what seems common to the human species, as it relates to human worth?

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    1. I don't expect anyone to agree with my points, Denny, I'm simply saying how I rationalise the phenomena.

      I think human uniqueness is simply a perception we have. I am the only instance of consciousness of which I have direct experience. I figure that other members of my species have a similar experience. But other organisms with nervous systems have their own experience of existence (so far as I can tell) and might well consider their experience pretty unique as well.

      We do have some pretty remarkable features, and one is a capacity for empathy. This, we don't seem to share very widely. But fairness? How do you tell? I can empathise with the wildebeeste. I get the distinct impression it is a genuinely horrific experience. We cannot get the wildebeeste's opinion on the matter.

      I don't have any particular answers on value or worth, any more than I can really explain a sense of humour or love of music. Consciousness is a complex phenomenon, and I am not even sure it is possible to fully comprehend it. Remarkable enough that a collection of atoms can reflect upon itself! But extending it outside of the bones in which it resides does not solve that problem, and creates a new one - the mind/body problem, and the means by which immaterial volition becomes (say) muscle movement. And the reason why such coupling is necessary just in our species.

      I reckon it happens in much the same way in us as it does in the duck-billed platypus, and the mind/body problem is a perceptual one - they seem separate, powerfully so.

      I have no wish to persuade someone that life is pointless; I merely express my opinion that it is. But it's a shame you equate 'point' with 'worth' - I was rather pleased with my little slogan! :0) What's the point of a sunset? Or a million flamingoes on a lake? A blizzard, or the white tops when it lifts?

      I can't really explain the common desire for something outside the self. I can pontificate, but it would be guesswork.

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  13. I don't expect anyone to agree with my points, Denny, I'm simply saying how I rationalise the phenomena.

    I think human uniqueness is simply a perception we have. I am the only instance of consciousness of which I have direct experience. I figure that other members of my species have a similar experience. But other organisms with nervous systems have their own experience of existence (so far as I can tell) and might well consider their experience pretty unique as well.

    We do have some pretty remarkable features, and one is a capacity for empathy. This, we don't seem to share very widely. But fairness? How do you tell? I can empathise with the wildebeeste. I get the distinct impression it is a genuinely horrific experience. We cannot get the wildebeeste's opinion on the matter.

    I don't have any particular answers on value or worth, any more than I can really explain a sense of humour or love of music. Consciousness is a complex phenomenon, and I am not even sure it is possible to fully comprehend it. Remarkable enough that a collection of atoms can reflect upon itself! But extending it outside of the bones in which it resides does not solve that problem, and creates a new one - the mind/body problem, and the means by which immaterial volition becomes (say) muscle movement. And the reason why such coupling is necessary just in our species.

    I reckon it happens in much the same way in us as it does in the duck-billed platypus, and the mind/body problem is a perceptual one - they seem separate, powerfully so.

    I have no wish to persuade someone that life is pointless; I merely express my opinion that it is. But it's a shame you equate 'point' with 'worth' - I was rather pleased with my little slogan! :0) What's the point of a sunset? Or a million flamingoes on a lake? A blizzard, or the white tops when it lifts?

    I can't really explain the common desire for something outside the self. I can pontificate, but it would be guesswork.

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    1. Damn! Double post? Don't know how that happened!

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  14. Allan Miller said, “I don't expect anyone to agree with my points, Denny, I'm simply saying how I rationalise the phenomena.” – I believe you. The context of my remarks is usually within the context of what I believe Sandwalk to be – a forum for Larry to promote atheism, naturalism, and evolution, the only (or primary) point being to push against theism, supernaturalism, and creationism in general, including progressive/old-earth creationism. To me, that means we are at least on the periphery of a greater contest of ideas among many people.

    Allan Miller said, “We do have some pretty remarkable features, and one is a capacity for empathy. This, we don't seem to share very widely. But fairness? How do you tell?” … “I don't have any particular answers on value or worth, any more than I can really explain a sense of humour or love of music.” – I raise these issues because I think they go to areas that cannot adequately be explained by atheism, naturalism, and evolution. Therefore, I think they reduce the explanatory power of atheism, naturalism, and evolution. All humans know that those more existential questions are as real as a tree or the Sun. The Bible, on the other had, which should never be taken to be a dime-store novel, speaks to both the natural/material world and the non-natural/non-material world (I leave out here things like young-earth creationism). There is a lot of noise out in the marketplace of ideas. I think that market is proof that there is more than the material world, which is necessary for physical life. I think religion, (generically-speaking) is man’s response to the reality of the non-natural/supernatural. I think Larry’s enthusiasm to push against theism, supernaturalism, and creationism is also an example of the existential aspects of life – otherwise why would he care if he had to occupy space with IDiots? I think I understand the personal expression of your views on the question of fairness, worth and value. But, I find it curious that in science, many skeptics dig deeper and deeper, while examining less the apparent human need for non-material answers to those questions. I personally find it difficult to reason that, 1) answers to non-material questions can be found in the material itself, and 2) I can assign to myself value and worth, if there is no true ultimate source of value and worth, one that transcends my limited personal perspective.

    Allan Miller said, “But it's a shame you equate 'point' with 'worth' - I was rather pleased with my little slogan! :0)” – Your slogan was catchy. But how do you separate 'point' from 'worth'?

    Allan Miller said, “I can't really explain the common desire for something outside the self. I can pontificate, but it would be guesswork.” – The Bible takes some of the guesswork out of that question. This again, is an area where it’s best if one gets away from some of the noise of the marketplace. Using the principles of the scientific method is helpful.

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    1. The Bible takes some of the guesswork out of that question.

      But provides no answer. Just someone else's guess. If it speaks to you, fair enough, but I regard it as the myths of a bygone era. The people who wrote it shared your sense of 'something outside', and they grew up in a culture where that was taken as a given. Its contents formed their answer to these questions - but I find them non-questions. What's the point? There isn't one. Does that matter? Not to me. There either is or there isn't (a God, a point, Something Else). If there isn't, no amount of wishing on my part will make it so. If there is, I'll find that out. Or not.

      But I feel my life has worth, nonetheless. To me, to other people in the here and now. If it has worth to some transcendent being, that's fine too, but I don't think it does, and it doesn't matter if it doesn't.

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    2. Well, Allan. In some future Sandwalk blog, I'll look for an opportunity to share what I see as obvious. Maybe next time, they'll be a more scientifically based example.

      My Best.

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