July 14, 2024

What to do about America’s guns…

Tonight on Dogma Debate, David Smally and I will argue opposing views of the gun control issue with disarmed Britons, Thunderf00t and DPR Jones. 

UTS-15 tactical shotgun

I need these two in case of … you know… zombies.

Frankish bearded axe

I need one of these too, but they’re illegal to carry, because if you have one of these, then people think you’re a dangerous psycho.

71 thoughts on “What to do about America’s guns…

  1. I’m a Canadian, and really don’t understand the American obsession with guns. The best I can come up with is that you have a right to own them emphasized in your Constitution, and therefore take advantage of it.* (So if you had to Constitutional right to own a chainsaw, many people would own one even if they lived in an apartment building).

    My understanding is that statistics show that an owner’s gun is, more often than not, used against them in an altercation. In addition, countries with strict gun laws have relatively little gun violence (eg. England, Australia, Japan, etc.). The correlation is clear. The testosterone rush, and the feeling of power, as the only positive benefits I can see to owning semi-automatic or automatic weapons. Hunters are welcome to single shot guns, eg. rifles.

    *Canada has a similar climate, geography, culture, etc. to the U.S., however we don’t have an emphasized right to bear arms in our Constitution. So I see that as the main reason we don’t have a similar gun problem. We don’t have the ‘peer pressure’ to buy guns.

    1. Yeah, but once in a blue moon somebody actually does successfully defend their home against a dangerous intruder, instead of members of a family killing each other, a neighbour, a large number of neighbours, or, in the case of the very young, themselves accidentally.

      The case for gun ownership rests.

  2. “Whatever be the Constitution, great care must be taken to provide a mode of amendment when experience or change of circumstances shall have manifested that any part of it is unadapted to the good of the nation.”

    ~ Thomas Jefferson

    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    ~ Second Amendment to the US Constitution as ratified

    We must take several things into account about the the difference between the way things were during the time in which the Constitution was written and today:

    1. There was a citizen militia (hence the requirement for a “well-regulated militia” which was the reason the 2nd Amendment was written). They did not have a standing Army, as we do today. Nor did they have a police force, or a Navy, or an air Force, or a Marines, or a Coast Guard, or a National Guard, or ATF, etc.

    2. Warfare was different. One man with a musket was as good as another man with a musket. Reloading took ten to fifteen seconds. They did not have rockets or computer-guided drones or land mines or tanks, let alone semi-automatic weapons or even revolvers, and certainly no magazines with multiple rounds ready to fire as we do today. Weapons were very short-range, and nowhere near as accurate (or deadly) as weapons are today.

    3. America was still concerned about defending herself against threats from overseas, as well as Native Americans, the Spanish, and anyone else that was not us. Today, from “sea to shining sea,” our country is secure from ground invasion.

    Now, it is difficult to say that individuals with weapons of war (not talking about hunting rifles or pistols here, I’m talking about weapons designed to kill human beings quickly and efficiently) are a “well-regulated militia. In fact, it would be more accurate to describe them as an unregulated rabble. This is not what the founding fathers were talking about.

    If the argument is that we have to have these guns to protect ourselves against a tyrannical government, I think it falls on its face. I don’t care how many guns you’ve got, there’s no competing with the world’s largest, best funded, best trained and best armed (and armored) military. Nor is there any indication that we have a tyrannical government to defend ourselves FROM.

    I don’t think anyone who is for gun control wants to take away all guns or even to limit the sale of all guns. I think the most common argument is that we don’t need guns that can kill so quickly and efficiently available at Walmart or at gun shows. These sorts of guns are designed to put as much lead downrange as possible as quickly as possible and as accurately as possible. They are designed to kill lots of people all at once. Thee argument is that these sorts of weapons need to be controlled, just as we control who can own explosives, poisonous gases, etc.

    If the argument is that if we didn’t have these guns, people would still kill one another, well, sure. But not en masse. Do we have a culture of violence? Certainly. Do we have a mental health problem? Absolutely. But we also have a gun problem in America. The 2nd amendment is outdated. It’s time we did as Thomas Jefferson recommended. Circumstances have changed.

    -Mark Kuykendall

  3. So if in 2 out of 10 home intruders is driven away by the owner with a gun, but in the other 8 out of 10 cases the intruder finds/takes the gun and uses it against the owner, this justifies owning a gun?? I’m making the stats up to illustrate my point, but as I originally stated, in altercations the owners gun is used against them more often than not. Does the fact that in the unlikely event of an intruder attacking you in your home, that say 40% of the time you successfully drive them off, really justify the much more likely events of “members of a family killing each other, a neighbour, a large number of neighbours, or, in the case of the very young, themselves accidentally”???

  4. @Mark Kuykendall

    You contradicted yourself here:

    1. There was a citizen militia (hence the requirement for a “well-regulated militia” which was the reason the 2nd Amendment was written). They did not have a standing Army, as we do today. Nor did they have a police force, or a Navy, or an air Force, or a Marines, or a Coast Guard, or a National Guard, or ATF, etc.

    Now, it is difficult to say that individuals with weapons of war (not talking about hunting rifles or pistols here, I’m talking about weapons designed to kill human beings quickly and efficiently) are a “well-regulated militia. In fact, it would be more accurate to describe them as an unregulated rabble. This is not what the founding fathers were talking about.

    Is the (unorganized) militia intended as a “replacement” of a standing army, or isn’t it?

    I can go further and cite evidence of historical intent, understanding, etc., but I’ll refrain for now. The short version is that the militia was to include all able bodied men, not those merely in official service. “well-regulated” meant “in a proper operating state”, “not government controlled and organized”. Furthermore, remember the US constitution, article 1, section 8, which gives congress the power to grant letters of marque, that is to authorize private citizens who already happen to own and operate ships of war, cannon and all, to engage in acts of war. It was common practice for private citizens to keep and bear cannon.

    The 2nd amendment is outdated. It’s time we did as Thomas Jefferson recommended. Circumstances have changed.

    A reasonable position.

    Let me quote some (accidental) words of wisdom of Scalia. He’s a complete asshole, but he got it right here:

    DC vs Heller SCOTUS opinion


    We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this

    country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the

    many amiciwho believe that prohibition of handgun

    ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the

    District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that

    problem, including some measures regulating handguns,

    see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26. But the enshrinement of

    constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy

    choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibi-

    tion of handguns held and used for self-defense in the

    home. Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amend-

    ment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is

    the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces

    provide personal security, and where gun violence is a

    serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is

    not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to

    pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

    PS: Where’s my “preview” button? Hope this is right.

  5. I don’t think the second amendment should be extinct, just that it is outdated and should apply to every damned thing. “You want a long gun for hunting? Sure. Get a license and a background check and we’ll sell you one. Pistol for home security? Same. A gun that puts more than thirty rounds downrange in thirty seconds? sorry, we’re not going to do that.”

  6. IMHO, constitutional gun rights for hunting is a red herring. Your particular view on constitutional gun rights for home self defense is almost a red herring. If you do not include in its protections the right and power to be competent militarily, then you have lost the heart and meaning of the second amendment, and in effect declared it extinct.

    I was just re-reading some of the arguments around the passing of the civil rights act, the fourteenth amendment, and related laws. It seemed almost given in those congressional debates that there was a constitutional right for the individual to keep and bear arms apart from some formal military or militia service. For example, this is made clear Freedman Bureau Act. A fair amount of the debate was to ensure that blacks had the right to keep and bear arms, to protect them against abuses, including from police and militia composed of the former rebels.

    I don’t know where offhand our culture lost the understanding of the intent of the second amendment, but we clearly have. I do not think that constitutionally guaranteed rights should go “poof” because the people forgot what they are, or chose to forget, or chose to by redefining terms. That seems like legislative power over the constitution, which neither the congress nor the supreme court may do. That requires an amendment or constitutional convention.

  7. I think part of the problem is that America is so isolated from the rest of the world, that the general public has a warped view on the world. You have your two oceans on either side, a province called Canada above you, and your servant supply country below you. You have no need to come in contact with anyone who is not American, and this relationship is bad for the progress of ideas. America lives in an echo chamber, and seems to like the noise. Any idea that even slightly catches the eye of the American public gets repeated again and again, until it is accepted as fact, that is why conspiracy theories take hold so readily in the US. They have nothing else to temper and dilute them. So the idea that you need guns and this militia things to protect everyone from your government has become the public fact, when in reality you already have a perfectly working mechanism to change governments, and have just recently use said process, successfully without having to kill any government workers.

    Some times it seems to me, that Americans actually do not understand what democracy is. In the simple form, is it the will of the majority that is put in place. So this means if you want to change a thing in governance, you have to go out into the public arena and convince enough people to accept your point of view, and vote as you want them to, so that you get the changes that you want. Talking about ‘Watering the tree of freedom again’ is only possible if you have a culture that believes that guns are the solution to any problem. When you look at the rest of the world, how many governments have been changed successfully though the use of weapons, and especially weapons use by the general public.

  8. @Mark

    You do understand that your requirement of “no guns that can shoot 30 rounds in 30 seconds” would ban all handguns, right?


    FBI studies have shown that a novice can fire three shots in less than a second, and a trained shooter can double that. (Two of the officers in the 1999 Amadou Diallo shooting emptied their 16-bullet magazines in about four seconds.) That means an experienced gunman can fire off a 20-round magazine—the likely capacity of Hasan’s gun—in 3.3 seconds. Reloading takes under two. You just press the magazine release button with your shooting hand and insert the new magazine into the grip with your offhand. * Experts holster extra ammunition on the side of their nonshooting hand to speed the exchange and can have the new magazine loaded before the empty one hits the ground. So each 20-round magazine would take no more than 5.3 seconds, including time to reload.

    Even being generous for incompetence and lack of familiarity by multiplying the time by 3x, your standard would basically ban all handguns.

    PS: I still want that preview button. Where did it go?

  9. I still don’t know how I personally feel about the whole gun rights issue… On a personal level, I don’t really like guns (plus, the whole idea of using a contained explosion to propel a chunk dense metal at someone you don’t like, just sorta bothers me, seems inefficient (note: not ineffective), etc.).

    On the other hand, the idea that an object (whether it’s a mechanical device (gun), information(too many to list), or chemical (drugs, etc.)) can be considered sorta bothers me – I lean towards the idea that actions should be illegal, but understand some of the problems with that view.

    Anyways, yeah, there is also a lot of misunderstanding about guns/firearms, terminology, etc. As codemonkey mentioned, almost any semiautomatic is capable of that rate of fire. it’s all up to the user – (granted, not many will be accurate at that rate of fire, but that’s one of the benefits of a high rate of fire – you don’t need to be accurate, just getting more lead down-range is beneficial in a firefight). Think of playing some sort of arcade game where your rate of fire was limited by how fast you could click the mouse/pres a key – that’s about the same limits (with loss of accuracy) you will have with most semiautomatics. It’s pretty easy to empty a 30 round magazine on a standard military m16 in a couple of seconds.

    So, aside from that, it really bugs me that guns are such a protected class of items, when things like knives and axes (which can be quite useful tools as well) can be heavily penalized.

    Plus, I think the best argument for gun control I’ve experienced is simply talking to some of the ‘pryitfrommycolddeadfingers’ crowd. They kind of scare me, they basically exist waiting for an excuse to exercise lethal force on another human.

  10. The best argument for gun control is Alex Jones on CNN. He perfectly illustrated the typical psychotic gun nut in America. Nobody could ever feel safe knowing they lived within say fifty km’s of him. People like that should not have guns, yet it’s these people that hoard them and are the ones to worry about. These are also the people that just tuck their gun into their belt with the safety off and a bullet in the chamber, which kills their kids or other innocent bystanders. Then of course, they are never sent to prison for their crime, but it’s written down as an unfortunate accident. And the culture allows it and worships them. It is a sick culture that truly makes me very sad for the sane Americans that have to live in fear of these dangerous people, and by laws which continually make allowances for their bad behaviour.

  11. “You do understand that your requirement of “no guns that can shoot 30 rounds in 30 seconds” would ban all handguns, right?”

    Not if you have to reload. Show me a guy with a revolver with six chambers and no speed loader that can put 30 bullets downrange in 30 seconds.

    Also, the pause for reload is the only moment when an unarmed person has a chance against an armed assailant.

  12. This whole gun issue is alive with extreme attitudes of all type.

    But the idea of “I got guns to protect myself from the US gov’mint.” is ridiculous.

    How about the lady in Maine whose home was invaded by the ATF (By mistake-something they do often). She protected herself and fired on them person coming thru her door and shot him 3 times before she was torn apart by return fire. If she would have not had a gun, she would have been terrified, scared, and inconvenienced for a few hours, BUT ALIVE!

    Want self defense in the home get a big dog and an alarm system. There have been no reported cases of an intruder ordering your own dog to bit you.

    As an interest point, what do I have? Well a big dog, and 4 of those lovely Frankish bearded axes pictured above at my bed side and yes I do practice and can reliably put one into someones chest at 15ft or less. I do not own a gun, but do know how to shoot. Besides I prefer my bow and broadheads as they will go thru kevlar.

    My personal view is to allow limited gun ownership but there is no real reason to own military style weapons so they should be restricted as are rocket launchers.

    And the type of people who trains to shot accurately 60 rounds in 10sec from a semi-auto pistol is not the one I would worry about. Its the nutter that can just go buy an AK47 (& there is no real reason to own one), and then go to the local school, that worry me, but then I’m just paranoid as no one would ever do that.

  13. @Mark Kuykendall

    So, now we’re going to outlaw speed loaders? That was not part of the original statement. You are ‘moving the goalposts’.

  14. I say we outlaw *anything* that enables a gun to fire 30 bullets in 30 seconds. That rate of fire has no other purpose than shredding *people* – not “intruders” or “tyrants” or any other word designed to distance the gun owner from the fact that they not only are equipped to but *want* and greatly desire to kill real, living, breathing, people as a first response.

  15. When it comes to the idea of imagining an interpretation of the constitution through the eyes of a man in a powdered wig and knickers whose got to put his wooden teeth in, there is an amusing bit of irony in that Thomas Jefferson had a rather interesting quotation about not doing things or interpreting it the way they did:

    “I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

  16. @Carol Lynn

    You might be able to accomplish that, I suppose. Ban all speed loaders, or ban all revolvers. Require all semiauto handguns to have a particularly annoying and difficult method to remove or insert the box magazine. Etc. If you’re particularly hardcore, ban all semiauto pistols and all double action revolvers, aka ban everything except single-shot weapons, i.e. leaving legal pump action shotguns, bolt action rifles, etc.

    Would you then ban rifles which can be fed by stripper clips? Consider:


    My gun nut friend is not that impressive, and when using a bolt action rifle, internal magazine of 10 rounds, reloaded with a 5 round stripper clip, he is able to get more than 30 hits on a 12 inch target at 250 yards in 1 minute. Consider what this means – he has to pull the bolt before every shot, take aim, and fire, and he has to reload the internal magazine after every 5 shots from a 5 round stripper clip. So, in 60 seconds, he reloads at least 5 times, and pulls the bolt at least 30 times. Again, this is not anything particularly impressive.

    In case you didn’t read the short wiki entry, this was originally training for the standard WW1 rifleman grunt. When you say that 30 rounds in 30 seconds is too high for any conceivable use except killing a bunch of innocents in a confined space, you are grossly underestimating how long 3 seconds is to reload in the middle of a combat situation, and you are grossly underestimating how fast you can fire a semiauto accurately at an enemy.

    Now, while 30 bullets in 60 seconds does not fit your threshold of 30 in 30, it does come close. Do you want to ban these WW1 bolt action rifles? Your threshold is close enough that I think you need to rethink your position. Exactly what kinds of firearms do you want to ban? Think about the implications of your policy statements. This may require that you educate yourself a bit about firearms instead of “shooting from the hip”.

    Finally, if you handicap all civilian firearms as such, then you will affect military competence, which is an inalienable part of the second amendment.

    @Psychopomp Gecko

    I like the way Thomas Paine put it when responding to Burke: People have the right to self determination, tyrannies are bullshit, and a particularly bullshit kind of tyranny is the tyranny of the dead over the living.

    PS: Because people are unable to differentiate between an argument for historical accuracy and rule of law, and an argument for individual gun ownership, let me make it clear. I am rather undecided on if I think individual gun rights are a good idea in today’s US. However, I am adamantly for the true historical meaning, intent, understanding, etc., of the second amendment, and I am adamantly against any insane method of jurisprudence that would allow us to completely upend and ignore the heart and soul of the second amendment.

  17. The problem I have with militias is that they tend to be a bunch of people who are just gearing up for a fight with the U.S. government. I consider it naive to think firearms available to civilians could possibly compete with tanks, the nuclear program, the largest navy in the world, and robotic bomber planes. So there goes the idea that civilian firearms reasonably constitute an effective means to fight against government tyranny.

    Another one is that a civilian who is really wanting to fire his gun at another human being and kill them is exactly the last person I want to have a gun. So all those types going “Oh, I hope someone tries something like that here.” are to me about as moral as the person doing the shooting. Me, I’d hope no one walks in and starts shooting at anybody. Bringing me to another point…even if a good guy with a gun can counter a bad guy with a gun, that still means that the bad guy with a gun got to the shooting stage. So how many people wounded or dead are acceptable in this fantasy of some gun nuts? And how well are they going to do in a dark movie theater with smoke, panicking people running around, and an opponent in a bulletproof vest?

    Plus, the weapons we have today are not what they had back then. It was difficult to perform a mass shooting when the Constitution was written. You had to either have a lot of people helping you or carry a lot of guns. Either way, not really something that could be done. Compare to the ease with which the modern day handgun weapon can kill.

    Because that’s important. It’s a weapon. It serves no other purpose than to kill. If you want to keep a gun for self defense then you’d better be capable of taking the life of another human being. You’ll have to because thanks to gun proliferation, they’ll have one too. Handguns are the weapon of choice in most gun crime in the U.S.

    Compare gun crime in the U.S. to gun crime in other first world countries that have better restrictions on firearms and you find that even in countries that begin to approach our rate of gun ownership, they have far fewer gun homicides (Mexico is an exception to this if you count it in on this due to the drug war. Turns out keeping all that stuff illegal does kill people).

    So we have a problem with shooting each other. Obviously we’re not adult enough to handle these weapons we have. Both the nature of firearms and the ability to defend ourselves against a tyrannical government have changed incredibly. It seems the only adult thing to do is put some restrictions on gun ownership. We have a whole lot of choices on measures we can take considering all the other countries who have solved the problem we have.

    Not meaning to be particularly hostile to you, codemonkey, but I think there are some dead people who deserve to have a say in this situation. And the number of them will only keep increasing if people keep buying into the promise that the ability to own a gun is more important than the lives of a few firefighters here, or moveigoers there, or children in a school over there, or teens over here, or people at a meet and greet with their congressperson.

  18. Bearing arms isn’t about guns, it’s about weapons. Why allow some weapons and not others arbitrarily?

    My solution:

    1) ban handguns and automatic weapons. I do understand that some rifles are used as tools to keep predators at bay, so licence those very carefully.

    2) To avoid inconveniencing the 2nd amendment, allow everyone to wear a sword at their hip. Really, if the government decides to go tyrannical, or a foreign power decides to invade, it’ll be *just* as useful.

  19. I’d just like to say as a “disarmed” Briton, that a semi-automatic shotgun is perfectly legal here – if you have a shotgun licence. You’d be limited to three shots unless you had a full firearms licence, in which case you have a larger mag, or could still own an AR15 style rifle. I say this because it seems to be common view in the USA that guns are banned in the UK, which isn’t the case, with the exeption of handguns. There are strict rules for getting a licence, including background checks, police interview, storage inspection and professional references. On the whole, this system keeps guns out of the hands of the death fetishists but allows folks who can demonstrate a legitimate use to have them.

  20. It’s a common misconception amongst the gun nuts that any kind of gun regulation is “banning all guns” no matter how much we point out that almost no one wants to do that.

    And thank you, Apostalypse, for pointing out some of those measures that we could stand to learn from.

  21. @Gecko

    I take that subtle jab as partly directed at me.

    It’s not my fault that earlier speakers in this thread are ignorant. I was merely pointing out that the aforementioned proposed policy would have a far greater effect than intended, and perhaps the speakers should educate themselves so that they can propose policies which achieve their desired ends, instead of accidentally almost banning WW1 era bolt action rifles. However, perhaps they did intend to ban WW1 era bolt action rifles? I can only ask, but the other speaker has not answered.

  22. It had more to do with Apostalypse talking about the idea that they aren’t allowed any guns there.

    I’d mainly worry about the semi-automatic handguns first and foremost. Those are the ones that most get used in crimes. But really, a good regulation of any guns would help. With a little evaluation, we can determine if someone is getting a gun for legitimate purposes or not and make sure they are fully prepared to handle the safety issues of it. Hunting can be a legitimate reason provided you don’t add “human” in front of that or are Dick Cheney. If you are Dick Cheney, you have a fleet of Star Destroyers anyway and don’t need the gun.

    But if you’re a survival nut who wants to stockpile in anticipation of the end times or you’re prepping with your militia buddies to fight the government, you probably shouldn’t have a gun. Anyone who believes enough in black helicopters, FEMA concentration camps, or any president being the Antichrist has already demonstrated they can’t be trusted with that grown-up of a responsibility. Otherwise, an exception might be made if you can demonstrate exactly how your AR-15 is going to shoot down a UAV or take out a Destroyer.

    On the ammo side of things, there is no good civilian reason to own armor piercing bullets.

  23. In listening to the Dogma Debate pod-cast I was shocked by how much the topic sounded religious. You could replace the word gun with god in another context and the conversation would still make sense. The irony was not lost on me that the participants are usually quite skilled at confronting religious claims. AR’s comments were exclusively emotional and anecdotal. He appealed to the “tradition” of firearm ownership. He cited the experience of people in his social group that had seldom experienced gun related violence. Somehow the feeling of wanting to own a gun is supposed to usurp all of the related dangers. David seems to be stuck on the idea that we’ll never be able to get rid of the guns so we shouldn’t even attempt it. Furthermore, these statistics on states are nonsense. It isn’t like there is a high fence and border patrol in between the states. When I lived in Atlanta many people would regularly drive to South Carolina or Alabama to get fireworks which were prohibited in GA. The borders of those states are plastered with vendors serving these customers. It is just a meaningless point to the conversation. Clearly gun violence rates in these states owe their cause to other factors.

    So what are the real aspects of this debate?

    Our constitution: first of all how cares what it says? I don’t say that to be disrespectful to our founding fathers but it is absurd to say that the learned people of today are any less able to determine a proper legal framework than our predecessors. It is also crazy to think that they could have predicted the world that we find ourselves in today. It is not a sacred document and was not the result of divine edict.

    Clearly there is a not a situation where individuals could participate in an armed confrontation with the US military. So would we be arming people for a Red Dawn type resistance or maybe after the insurgent/Taliban methods in Afghanistan? These are the only scenarios where I can imagine having a firearms cache would be useful. Do we want to structure our legal framework for this scenario? Is the unlikely possibility of these scenarios worth the thousands of firearm deaths we see each year?

    It was mentioned in the pod-cast that no one over the age of 3 thinks that firearm ownership is “cool” or something to that affect. That is an absurd statement. It takes about 10 minutes perusing YouTube to find hundreds of people that quite clearly get off on the “coolness” of guns. These guns, especially the AR15, are clearly manufactured and marketed with a focus on their coolness factors. They even make a pink variety for the ladies…

    This is an issue of safety. As with any issue of safety we need to analyse the statistics and make changes that are in the best interest of the health and well-being of the citizens. We should be very careful not to step on freedoms in the pursuit of safety but doing nothing is irrational. The fact is that we need to have a rational dialogue about this issue which is absent of emotion and appeals to tradition or aesthetics and inclusive of real data. I have yet to see many attempts to do so.

  24. Being undecided on this issue, I found it much easier to be impartial than in the usual atheists vs. theists debates. I was quite astonished at how easily both sides made appalling arguments on each side of the issue, and somewhat appalled at how blithely the participants gave opposing arguments interpretations that were uncharitable to the point of ridiculousness. It was almost as if the participants cared more about winning the argument than finding the right answer. Surprising, considering the stakes in this question are so high. Occasionally some good arguments were made, but I came away thinking you should all be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.

  25. Clearly there is a not a situation where individuals could participate in an armed confrontation with the US military. So would we be arming people for a Red Dawn type resistance or maybe after the insurgent/Taliban methods in Afghanistan? These are the only scenarios where I can imagine having a firearms cache would be useful.

    I think you contradicted yourself. “Clearly there is not, except for this situation that I’m about to name.”

    Do we want to structure our legal framework for this scenario? Is the unlikely possibility of these scenarios worth the thousands of firearm deaths we see each year?

    As I said, I am undecided. Here are the plausible arguments I can see in favor of mostly unregulated gun ownership (besides rule of law aka if we were starting from scratch):

    1- overthrow tyrannical governments

    2- stop foreign invasion

    3- self defense from criminals, police, etc.

    4- gun culture as a positive for freedom

    A pure self defense argument is iffy. The numbers I’ve seen are usually bad. The anti-gun side often includes criminal on criminal gun deaths when making self defense arguments, which IMHO is bullshit. They also often include suicide numbers, which is again bullshit. The pro-gun side likes to cite that one guy, whose name I forget, which is unable to do basic statistics – aka does not understand the implications of even a small false positive response rate.

    There’s also the argument to be had that an armed population is a deterrent to crime. I haven’t done the thorough research to see if this is actually true, and to what degree. The numbers are just so hard to isolate. Too many confounding factors, and too many dishonest people making stuff up to suite their ends.

    I think that overthrowing tyrannical governments is not as completely far fetched as you would make it out to be.

    As an aside: It is no exaggeration to say that firearms is a primary explanation for why we live in a free society today. Before the advent of firearms, a small standing army could easily suppress any revolt. A knight in mail on horseback is quite a formidable warrior when all you have is pitchforks. A longbowman takes years to train, and is more dangerous in combat than a musketeer. With the advent of firearms, suddenly the military power balance changed. Suddenly, a peasant population could provide a credible military threat against the small standing army of the king. While there still might be a difference in power between a trained army and a militia, you can become decently proficient in the use of a firearm in a week or less, and pose a credible threat, whereas before it was simply beyond the realm of plausibility. Example: A trained English longbowman has a higher rate of fire and is more accurate than a trained musketeer, but the longbowman takes years and years to train, whereas the musketeer takes weeks. It’s a leveling of power.

    In today’s age, the only argument that I can really endorse that might be comparable to the thousands of deaths each year is the same as the founders’s. In a free society, the people should not be afraid of the government. The government should be afraid of the people. The government exists at the people’s pleasure, and no longer. I do think that a certain kind of gun culture helps promote this feeling of independence and freedom. I think it helps counteract a potentially dangerous feeling of subservience to the government, and counteracts a feeling of hopelessness compared to the government. I am an European Enlightenment liberal. I think that this kind of culture would make revolution unnecessary.

    You have to understand the positions of those like Thomas Paine. They did not feel that revolution should be taken lightly, that you should revolt over any little thing. As long as a republican / democratic solution remains open, you should prefer that to the death and carnage of war. However, if that option does not exist, and your cause is just, then so is war. I do not favor the kind of irresponsible gun culture where you shoot representatives you don’t like. I favor the kind of gun culture that reminds us of the values at which I’ve spoken on at length.

    Again, though having said all of that, I am quite undecided still on to how much benefit that actually is, compared to the immediate demonstrable harms of firearm deaths. It is a fool that says availability of guns is independent of homicide rates (though one might make the argument that it might be lowered because of a deterrence effect – I don’t know). Still, in a population of 300,000,000, when we’re talking about a number of deaths each year of maybe around approx 300 accidental shooting deaths and 600 purposeful homicides not including criminal on criminal (the rest being suicide and criminal on criminal homicide), then I’m really strongly tempted to err on the side of the nebulous and iffy freedom argument. Quoting the unpopular Sam Harris, we are talking about a number of deaths comparable to accidental drownings in a back yard swimming pool.

  26. @codemonkey: I too am undecided on this issue so I think you might have misunderstood my point. I said that we wouldn’t be able to fight the organised US military. All I’m saying is that no matter what we couldn’t take our AR15s and fight a battalion of marines with all of their firepower and other equipment. I was contrasting that with the insurgent type resistance the Taliban conduct against an occupying foreign force. I just think the scenario in which the ruskies take over our cities and we flee to mountains to mount a gorilla resistance is not something rational for which to prepare.

    Warfare is just different now. As you said we are a long way from swords and longbows. So while you and I could easily take the redcoats out with a few ARs it would be the same imbalance of power with us against tanks, apache helicopters, 50mm sniper rifles and attack drones. The idea that the US will deteriorate into a state such as Libya where we have to take up arms against the government is equally as likely as the zombie apocalypse. Furthermore, if we did get to that point I think we would have a lot more to worry about than how we would fight the government. Any situation such as that would necessarily coincide with a global breakdown of society. I think some of these same points would apply to foreign invasion. If this force was powerful enough to destroy our military then is it reasonable to think our hand guns and assault rifles are going to be effective?

    I agree with you on the self defence side. These statistics are so skewed and inconsistent it is really difficult to interpret the data. My completely unscientific thought is that it seems far more likely that my family or I would be injured by a gun than a scenario where my only option was to shoot someone.

    So the final issue is freedom and this is the toughest part for me. I hate the idea that the government tells us what to do. I think that things like seatbelt laws are ridiculous. If I won’t to do something dangerous for myself then I should be able to do it. The problem is that guns obviously step over that barrier where they affect others. Because of the diverse nature of society we have people that are responsible, people that are irresponsible and people that are plain crazy. The burden of living in a social group is that we have to make policy in the best interest of the group. Sometimes we might have to make rules that restrict the freedoms of responsible people because we have to protect the group as a whole.

    1. How was the anti gun side weak? AronRa’s main argument was ‘I think weapons are really cool and they make me feel tough and I don’t want that taken away from me’. He seems to think people are impressed with his “skills” with battle axes and sticks, and that his “tough guy” image is to be respected. It was just him telling stupid stories about his fighting skills and killing rattle snakes. His arguments were pathetic, he just tried to stroke his ego the whole time and act badass. I’m not impressed at all. He saw people getting shot in the head “on a regular basis”? Liar.

      1. Hey, I’m on the anti-gun side which is why I was so disappointed! I was expecting much better arguments from both sides, I completely agree that Aron’s reliance on anecdotes about his friends is ridiculous and the petulant (libertarian?) sounding, ‘I want one so I should be allowed one’ should have been dealt with more rigorously.

        They barely covered domestic gun violence.

        Thunderf00t kept going back to Sarin gas which is not analogous and for the first 45 minutes the anti side were ignoring everything the pro side said to make their points. The female (I assume) who said they were talking passed each other was spot on and the anti side were more to blame.

        I was also really disappointed that not once was the assertion that mental health checks on gun applicants would make everything better. Without even delving into the assumption that all ‘lone wolf’ massacres are perpetrated by the mentally ill they could have argued that mental health can change over time. Right now I don’t have any mental health problems but who’s to say what will happen to my psyche in 10 years? What about crimes of passion?

        I only started reading FTB as TF left so I’d not paid him much attention to him due to the vitriol he’s aimed at the site since he left. I was hoping that it was just on feminism that he’s off the mark but he seems to be a poor reasoner generally.

        1. Sorry I assumed you were on the pro-gun side. My personal opinion is David and AronRa’s arguments were much weaker. DPR did really well toward the end but yeah Thunderfoot talked too much with little substance. I do however feel that his use of Sarin gas was valid. Aron thinks that if you want an army tank you should have one. But seems to draw the line at chemical weapons. Why? If I think chemical weapons are “cool” I should have them. It shows just how dumb his argument is. He didn’t even have an argument, he repeatedly said “I don’t have to have a justification”. He even said “if you take my guns I’ll build a rocket launchers!” He’s a dork in love with weapons who’s not even trying to be rational or objective about it. He loves his battle axes so much that taking his “zombie” killers away would ruin his very identity — the “Star Wars kid” with a bow staff.

          1. I have to say I felt that the “anti-private-gun-ownership position” (my position) was represented so feebly in that debate that it was almost comic. We certainly didn’t hear anything convincing from the pro-gun side, but their opposers’ failure to use obvious counter-arguments with factual support was cringeworthy. I actually had to stop listening for a while when Thunderf00t said “I don’t have those statistics in front of me.” Why not? Was this a surprise debate? Why would you not have that information available at the crucial time?

      2. I have to wonder what I actually said that made people think I said something else instead. I did NOT say that weapons were cool, except maybe from a collector’s standpoint. In fact, I said that a lot of gun owners are paranoid, especially the conceal-and-carry guys, and that the ‘gun culture’ was driven largely by fear. I have many times objected to sensationalism in the media trying to keep society fearful. I also said that the meager weapons I have are so that I have the option to be merciful rather than lethal, hardly the position of someone trying to seem like a bad-ass.

        I’m talking to someone who lived all his life thinking that ‘possession’ of a firearm means not even having possession of it, because someone else has it locked up downtown. Obviously the only way to convey what it is like to live in the US is to through the account of someone who lives here. Yet I am criticized for talking about NOT having experienced any of the terrors the Brits are so concerned about.

        I also never saw anyone shot in the head, and I never said that I did. So don’t call me a liar for saying what I never said, or for saying the opposite of what I actually did say.

        1. Unfortunately it was recorded and anybody can go back and check. Here is what you said about people getting shot int the head:

          “…so then when I got to Texas –at that time – Texas did not yet have a concealed carry ability. You didn’t have any weapons on you at all in Texas and what we had in the neighborhood that I moved into, when I moved back to Texas from Arizona was we had carjackings in front of a hundred witnesses and there was nothing anybody could do about it. A guy would just simply walk up and shoot somebody in the head and take his car because he didn’t want to hail a taxi for a ride home. That’s how little human life mattered in that situation… when you have a concealed weapon anbody…”

          Thunderfoot “Aron I don’t think that’s a realistic..

          Aron: “Ten seconds later, if I may, if I could just get ten more seconds. Yes this is realistic. When you can’t tell if that hundred people has twenty guns among them that changes the scenario significantly. Now I don’t keep guns for protection I don’t even endorse guns for personal protection but that is a reality that I can’t ignore and neither can you.

          Thunderfoot: “Uh just to pick up on something Aron, the idea that um people shooting people because they couldn’t be bothered to hail a taxi, I think is unrealistic.”

          Aron: “Real life!”

          Thunderfoot: “I just don’t believe you.”

          Aron “Real life! I saw it regularly.”

          I’m with Thunderfoot on this one. I just don’t believe you. I will assume that by “seeing” it “regularly” you mean on the news or something. Not in person but I still think you are lying. You DID NOT see, on a regular basis, people shooting people in the head in Texas “because they didn’t want to hail a taxi for a ride home”. I think you completely over exaggerated (lied) to make your point. Which is what Christians do when they describe miracle stories. Most of your stories sounded so over the top and exaggerated that it was hard to take you seriously. Your table leg saved your life a couple of times? Who’s trying to kill you?

  27. AronRa said: “The only weapons I’ve ever had on hand than I’ve ever had to use for defense of myself has been a heavy oak table leg … which has saved my life a couple of times because I’m really good with it and this Viking bearded axe .. I felt very competent with that as well …It takes skill and it takes strength and it takes commitment to kill somebody with a melee weapon. I would prefer to go with a melee weapon, even if I’m going against a gun … you haven’t seen my axe, I have a collection of throwing axes that will scare you.”

    I’d like to know how you get “really good” with a table leg? I’d like to see his badass moves. And we can test his ability with a “melee” weapon against somebody with a gun. I’ll give him a foam melee weapon or plastic bearded axe and I’ll get a paintball gun and we can see how many times he gets hit with paint vs how many times he can hit me with his ninja moves.Yeah right Aron. Nobody believes you. You should post a video of your awesome table leg skills.


    1. Josh, you want to know how to get ‘really good’ at fighting with a table leg? Well you could start with regular [weekly] training in stick-fighting. After more than a decade of that, it would be fair to say that you should be pretty good at it. However I didn’t say I was good with the table leg; I said I was good with the axe, and I said that because I used to practice with throwing axes during my time in the S.C.A.

      I thought I had made it very clear that I was more afraid of having guns than of not having guns. But it doesn’t seem to matter what I say, I’m going to be criticized for it either way, and ridiculed regardless.

      1. “However I didn’t say I was good with the table leg; I said I was good with the axe,”

        Yeah actually you did, again it was recorded and you can check. I’ll quote you again.

        “The only weapons I’ve ever had on hand than I’ve ever had to use for defense of myself has been a heavy oak table leg … which has saved my life a couple of times because I’m really good with it and this Viking bearded axe .. I felt very competent with that as well”

        You were all over the place with your over the top fighting stories, shooting rattle snakes and “skills” with melee weapons. Which is what somebody who thinks they are badass does, tell exaggerated stories to make others think they are badass. That’s what you did for much of the three hours on the radio. I am listening Aron I just don’t think you realize how thick you lay this tough guy image thing on and it really makes it hard to take you seriously at all.

    2. Anyone who has weapons and children in the same house should be concerned about what would happen if the two come together. That’s why I said, “It takes skill and it takes strength and it takes commitment to kill somebody with a melee weapon”. If a small child finds a large axe, there is much less chance that he will kill himself or anyone else with it, than there would be in finding a loaded gun. Also when you find yourself facing an intruder, that gun will still wield 100% of its fury whether you meant it to or not. But with a melee weapon, your humanity can still stay your hand -even in mid stroke. That’s why I would prefer to go with a melee weapon than with a gun. There is much less chance of killing someone -even if you originally intended to. I don’t know how much clearer I could make that, and yet it still seems that no one understood me.

  28. As difficult as it can be to detach one’s ego (especially a masculine ego) from what one says, you seem to have done it on your second go.

    Now if you could get rid of the silly hat and bolo tie and beard and long hair and all of the other props that you’re hiding under, that’d be great 😉

    1. Likewise I would say that you should feel free to look however you want regardless how insulting some insignificant ass may be about that. You can’t please everybody, and some people aren’t going to be happy with anything anyway, especially the ones who want to suppress your expression. There’s no objective criteria for which hats are ‘silly’, and you certainly don’t need some other schmuck’s approval for which tie to wear. Your style is your choice. You’re not a drone clone with no mind of your own. So be yourself honestly and let the judgmental stiffs be content to cower in their conformity.

  29. Hey, I understand where you’re coming from. I had a punk haircut, a long trenchcoat, safety pins in my jeans, combat boots, you name it. I had a lot of props to make me seem tough. Then I grew up, and actually became tough, and I guess I just lost interest. Now I choose clothes for their utility. Likewise for my hair and beard styles. I like them simple and easy to manage. Priorities, I guess. Perhaps being a semi-celebrity causes one to focus more on presentation. If you want to look like a WWF manager, it’s certainly your choice. But I get to fuck with you about it.

  30. Josh, you say I’m exaggerating, yet you would have me believe that you’ve never been in a fight with a stranger in your whole life? Really?

    It is not ‘unfortunate’ that the recording vindicates what I said. If you don’t want to believe me, don’t. I never said that I saw anybody getting shot in the head, not even the guy who was shot in the head not ten feet from my door. When I came out to see what was going on, his body was on the other side of my car. I didn’t see anything. The guy who was car-jacked between our complex and the freeway? I think he was shot in the head too, but I don’t know, because I didn’t see that one either. Like you said, I saw it on the news, heard it going on, and heard about it later. I’ve even been shot at, but I’ve never seen anyone being shot.

    Did I mention on the show that our apartment complex was nick-named “Little Beirut”? I worked for them briefly when we first arrived. The rental manager told us that our complex had an average of at least one murder per month, but -as if this was some sort of defense- she said that none of the people killed there were actually tenants. So yeah, I saw a lot of uncontrolled gun crime “on a regular basis”, and that seemed to die down once they allowed for conceal-and-carry licenses. Shortly thereafter that place was condemned and we bought a house in much nicer area.

    1. Do I have to quote you again? You’re not reading it apparently, You didn’t say you were “pretty good” with the table leg, you said you were “really good” and you saved your life with it a “couple of times”.

      1. OK, if I said ‘really good’ that works too. I took this leg off an antique dining table that was being junked. The weight and balance and general feel of the carved hardwood were perfect. So I kept it. It was the only weapon I could have “on-hand” that cops didn’t give me crap about. I fought hardsuit in the S.C.A. for years, but it’s no good if you’re using a poor stick.

  31. OK, I didn’t remember it correctly, but it doesn’t matter. If I said I was “pretty good” with a paint brush, that ain’t saying much. That sounds like I’m giving myself a C+ or maybe a B rating. If someone said he ‘pretty good’ with a guitar, I would think he was being pretty humble, competant perhaps, but no more. I certainly wouldn’t accuse him of bragging that he was Randy Rhoades. But if I say I’m ‘pretty good’ with a particular club, then the trolls say I’m pretending to be a ninja. And you say it’s hard for YOU to take ME seriously? How unrealistic are you?

    1. I’m pretty good with a guitar. Again you said “really” good not pretty good. You were just boosting yourself a lot to make your points sound stronger I guess and it showed. Nobody else said ANYTHING about their fighting stories or weapons skills or personal stuff like that. They wanted to talk about the data more. But you seemed to want to talk about yourself more and your action stories.

      1. If I wanted to talk about action stories, it would have been a much longer conversation. Remember that I was trying to explain to Brits that we don’t all need to have guns to protect yourself in America, and that that’s not the reason I’m arguing in defense of guns. Don’t lose the context of the conversation. The topic requires that I summarize the worst altercations I’ve had in my life in order to illustrate the point of what it is really like living here. Although I have done an awful lot of LARP stick-fighting, I can count on one hand all the actual fist fights I’ve had in my fifty years. Two fights I didn’t have were against guys with knives, and both of those occasions were averted because I had a club within arm’s reach.

        Now one of those occasions was highly escalated, and I realized -just in time- that I had a choice in whether to kill this man. I used that as my example of why I prefer melee weapons to guns. If all that seems ‘over-the-top’ to you, because you’ve somehow never experienced anything like that yourself, -ever- then I don’t know what that says about you. I’ve experienced fewer occasions like that than most of the people I know, so I don’t what you’re stuck on.

        Remember also that I have a collection of axes including a couple good ones, and I used to carry an 18″ Bowie every day when I lived in Arizona. But if I had to pull a weapon, I would rather it be the table leg. Now think about that logically. What happens to someone who gets cudgeled as opposed to chopped, stabbed, or shot? Remember I’m not so worried about anyone that I am ready to turn them into meat. So the club has been good enough.

  32. OK Mark, so you were a poser and you’re still a pretender. But just because you’re wrong about what is or is not a ‘prop’, that does not afford you a permit to make fun of other people. Don’t make excuses for poor social skills.

    All the other men in my family wear cowboy hats and/or ball caps, and there are some hard bastards in my family. I am the only one who wears a Fedora. Can there be a more classic hat for a man? Which is the ‘sillier’ hat, Mark? Is it just whichever one I’m wearing? Just cuz you say so? Get over yourself.

  33. There has been an inordinate amount of attention placed on “assault rifles” rather than the substantive issues regarding gun violence in the United States. Rifles of any kind are responsible for about 4% of all firearm related deaths in the US, and military-style semiautomatic rifles less than 2%. Handguns are BY FAR the preferred weapon of choice for firearm-based violent crime. For rational people, an assault rifle ban should not even make a top-100 list of priorities for addressing gun violence.

    Fully automatic weapons are expensive, rare, require a federal permit, and an FBI background check. They’ve been banned since 1936 for civilian ownership apart from these collector’s permits, and a properly licensed automatic weapon has never been used in the commitment of a crime since 1986, when the ban on their manufacture went into effect. Unfortunately, when most people hear the term “assault rifle” they immediately conjure up images from Hollywood action films with lead being sprayed all over the place. The millions of AR-15 owners in the US do NOT own automatic weapons.

    Also, I have often heard the descriptor “high-powered” placed in front of the term “assault rifle,” which is also misleading. High-powered? Compared to what? The muzzle energy (bullet mass x speed of travel, I.e., how “power” is measured) of a .223 round is substantially LESS than that of a 30-06, a .308, or a 12-gauge slug, all of which are conventional deer hunting loads. If an AR-15 is NOT fully automatic and fires a smaller bullet, how can it be called “high-powered” with any credibility?

    Kooks who use an assault rifle on a killing spree are just living out a delusional fantasy. Tactically speaking, a rifle is the wrong weapon for close quarters combat. Rifles are for long range targets. A pair of semiautomatic pistols or a shotgun with bird shot would be more lethal in a crowd. FWIW, the biggest school massacre on record was committed in 1927–with a series of DIY explosives.

    All this is a complete smoke screen to avoid dealing with the real issues, the ones much more difficult to demagogue or pluck the emotional hearts strings for: treatment of the mentally ill and coping with inner city violent crime.

    The big elephant in the room is this: of the 10,000+ firearm deaths per year, nearly 5,000 are of one particular type–an African American male killing another African American male with a illegally obtained handgun. That’s nearly two 911-scale slaughters per year, every year. These have absolutely nothing to do with legal ownership of firearms. Factor out this one type of crime and the US firearm death rate comes down to rates similar to the rest of the developed world.

    Instead of the gun ban dog and pony show, lawmakers should investigate what should be done to end this horror afflicting the urban poor. Those discussions would be complex and difficult, so they have little appeal to grandstanding politicians who would prefer to prey on the irrational fears of the uninformed. Maybe relax the largely ineffective “war on drugs?” More funding for inner city schools? Address cultural issues stemming from the destruction of two-parent households? I don’t have the answers, but addressing this issue is far, far more important to our society than banning 30 round magazines for weapons that are very rarely used in the commitment of violent crime. Or do you think it’s more productive to obsess over a weapon system that causes less than 200 deaths per year vs. issues that account for the other 9,800?

  34. I wish I could +1 this. “I’d take you more seriously if only you looked more like ME” is just… silly. And reeks of desperation.

      1. Have you ever watched the television program “Face Off,” like Top Chef but where the contestants do special effects makeup? They’ve got a judge named Glenn Hetrick on there and he’s obviously a sweet, roly-poly middle aged dude. He overcompensates in every conceivable way, right down to plucking his eyebrows into a sinister arch, tattoos, piercings, highlights in his hair, overstyled beard, etc. etc. I like the guy. BUT he’s overcompensating. The same is true of Aron Ra. I disagree with him, but the fact that I ALSO think he’s overcompensating has NOTHING to do with that disagreement. From what I can tell, Aron is winning the gun argument. I just happened to mention, as an aside, that I notice the effort he has made to appear bad ass. I take him seriously. I follow him on YouTube and Facebook. But I do get to notice and fuck with him about his overcompensation.

        I was listening to “A Prairie Home Companion” a couple of years ago and Garrison Keillor said that a girl had mentioned to him that he should trim his eyebrows. Garrison said he wished someone had mentioned it earlier, because as a man, he simply hadn’t noticed that there was a problem.

        Well, I’ve mentioned it.

        1. Because everyone should look like you, or else they have some sort of insecurity? Why can’t people just dress the way they want to? What makes your look so special?

          I’m sure Aron’s never ever had his appearance pointed out, ever, especially in this fundie-ass, conservative, paranoid society of xenophobic, grown-up high schoolers. I’m sure that deep inside he’s very grateful that you were so graciously willing to fill the void and tell him that he should get a goddamn haircut.

        1. I’m annoyed, and with good reason. But okay, “You’re angry, therefore I don’t have to listen to you.” Because emotions are bad. Cool.

          It’s as though people are surprised when someone responds to their arrogant assholery with anything but congeniality.

          1. You’re free to act like an ass, but don’t be surprised if people treat you like one in response.

  35. I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I was looking for this info for my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top