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Friday, June 17, 2016

I Guess I'm Callous

I was shaken when the aircraft slammed into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. It thrust the world into a unknown state. Were more big attacks coming? What was our reaction going to be? Was it going to dramatically alter our well-being and lifestyle? What was it going to take for New York to recover? And, yeah, I felt bad for the dead and their families and friends.

I no longer feel bad for the dead from mass shootings (and the families and friends). That's at least partly because I've been desensitized. And partly because, well, I don't have time to feel bad for everyone that dies.

Approximately 7,000 people die in the United States each day from all causes. Each day, several dozen people are murdered. Twice as many are wounded from attempted murder each day.

Forty-nine people were killed in a nightclub in Orlando. I don't have it in me to feel more for them than the other 7,000 people who died that day or the other dozens of anonymous people who were murdered across the country that day. The dead in Orlando don't feel more special to me. I don't know why I don't feel more since they apparently do feel more special to virtually everybody else in the entire country.

It's interesting to look at the reactions of others from my detached state. The two big hot button issues that were pressed by the Orlando shooting are the role of Islam in events such as these and the role of gun control or the lack thereof.

Within seconds (maybe minutes) of the news breaking, people began to use the event to further their agendas in these areas. Others were saying things like, "how can you use a tragedy like this to further a political agenda?" My response is that there's no better time. If you have a weak or subjective position, using a time when people are all upset and emotional is by far the best time to advance your agenda because they're not thinking straight.

Let's start with guns and gun control. On one hand, the guy put a lot of bullets into a lot of people with a gun, so those in favor of control can use this incident to claim that gun control is critically important. And if we refuse to get rid of all guns and bullets, then let's at least get rid of those particularly scary looking guns like the AR-15 that was used at the Orlando nightclub. And after such an incident is a really great time to make such an argument because objectively, it makes no sense whatsoever; consider the following table (via Marginal Revolution):


Only 248 of 11,961 murders were perpetrated using rifles (plus some fraction of "type not stated") and that includes "assault" rifles like the AR-15. Banning assault rifles will simply make no noticeable difference at all in the number of gun murders and it's a foolish thing to focus on if reducing murder is the goal. But if banning AR-15s is your thing, then using this incident and people's emotional response is a really good idea.

On the other side (the anti-gun control side), we have people noting that the nightclub was a gun free zone. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that having drinking establishments be "gun-free" might actually be a good idea since people don't always make the best decisions when drunk and some people are quite violent under the influence. Some have suggested the compromise that non-drinking folks should be allowed to carry in drinking establishments and that seems at least a little more reasonable to me. Yet it's not clear it would've made much of a difference. There was an armed security guard at the nightclub and he didn't even slow the gunman down. These things are going to continue to happen and there's not much that can be done to stop them.

Now, onto Islam. Omar Mateen was crazy, completely deranged, totally nuts. To me, that's the fundamental explanation of why he did the totally insane thing of shooting up a nightclub. To claim this was caused by Islam seems misguided to me. To claim that restricting immigration would prevent stuff like this is even weaker given that he was a U.S. born citizen. At best, restricting immigration now might prevent something like this in several decades.

On the other hand, I don't think Islam is quite completely free of culpability.

It is true that vast swaths of Christianity are at least uncomfortable with homosexuality. And it's also true that some christian clergy in the United States have called for killing homosexuals. But there are more than a half-million clergy in the United States and only a tiny handful are that extreme and out of a half-million people some are statistically going to be crazy. The rest of those uncomfortable with homosexuality are more the "hate the sin, love the sinner" types or at least don't go around calling for the execution of gays.

Compare that to the fact that 100 million people live in Muslim countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. In other words, killing gays is simply much more mainstream in the Muslim world than in countries that are predominantly Christian.

So if you're a deranged lunatic who happens to be Muslim, the voices whispering in your head from all over the world are kinda gonna be egging you on to kill gay people instead of holding you back. That's a problem, perhaps one with no solution, but I can't ignore the fact that people immigrating from those countries have been exposed to and grown up in an environment that I consider to be relatively barbaric. I don't find that thought to be comforting.

37 comments:

Bret said...

On the other hand, a friend of mine also happened to die (cancer) on the same day as the Orlando shooting so maybe my emotional sensitivity was used up by that.

erp said...

Bret, so sorry about your friend. As you get older, friends and family who pass away get closer and closer to your own age and pieces of your childhood and early life go with them. Worst of all is when people die well before they've reached their allotted fourscore and ten.

BTW, there are 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.

Bret said...

erp,

Yes, but only (merely!) 100 million live in countries that openly execute gays.

erp said...

Bret, not arguing your numbers about legal executions, only saying that since gays are not tolerated in any Moslem controlled areas and that will include parts of Europe where they are in the majority, probably here too in the not to distant future, how are gays treated in the rest of the Moslem world?

Bret said...

Jonah Goldberg weighs in with "Why Can’t the Left Distinguish Conservative Christians from Islamic Terrorists?" Excerpt:

The notion that American Christians, even the most ardent Christian conservatives, are indistinguishable from Islamists — or even the typical “moderate Muslims” of Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. — in their attitudes and practices with regard to homosexuality is not just stupid and ignorant; it is almost literally insane. If you doubt that, read Andy McCarthy’s piece from earlier this week. Or look at global surveys of public opinion on homosexuality. Or look at the list of ten countries where homosexuality is punishable by death.

I understand why gays can’t stand it when some American Christians talk about “curing” homosexuality. But (a) that is not the law in America and (b) no matter how you slice it, wanting to “save” gays from perceived sin is just plain different from wanting to kill them. No seriously, you could look it up. Wanting to maintain the traditional definition of marriage is different from throwing gay people off buildings or crushing them with stones.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Actually, the case for restricting access to weapons such as the AR15 is not as weak as you pose. It is a more lethal weapon than the standard shotgun out there:

http://www.wired.com/2016/06/ar-15-can-human-body/

To outlaw them wouldn't reduce murder rates by much, but it could make a dent on mass shooting effectiveness.

erp said...

Clovis, re-opening up the institutions for the criminally insane would do a lot more to stop crazies than restricting free access to law abiding citizens. Remember the slippery slope, first they came for the ... .

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "It [AR-15] is a more lethal weapon than the standard shotgun out there..."

True, but that's apples vs. oranges. The question that would be more relevant is whether or not it's substantially more lethal than other rifles, for example semi-automatic hunting rifles, and I believe the answer is either "no" or "not very much more lethal." You can't really go deer hunting with a shotgun. Nor human hunting for that matter.

Clovis wrote: "To outlaw them wouldn't reduce murder rates by much..."

That's my point.

Hey Skipper said...

The NYT, as with progressives in general, has become completely unhinged by this.

Contrary to a couple moronic, extremely nasty, editorials, this isn't about scary looking guns or Christians.

To presume otherwise requires that this atrocity would not have happened without a scary looking gun, or the US's widespread availability of guns.

That is provably nonsensical. After all, look at what kind of guns Islamists used to blow up the Brussel's airport. Wait. What?

Or, back in the seventies, when someone used lighter fluid to torch a gay bar in New Orleans, with more than 30 dead.

Or, much more recently, the Paris atrocities, committed by Islamists= that occurred despite strict gun control laws.

Yet it's not clear it would've made much of a difference. There was an armed security guard at the nightclub and he didn't even slow the gunman down.

Don't forget Ottawa. The NYT did.

We could have a militia along the lines of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. We could introduce that complication into terrorist assumptions they will be in threat free zones.

But we won't, because progressives its subjects to be unarmed victims.

[Clovis:] It is a more lethal weapon than the standard shotgun out there:

Depends on the range. Also, in most states, hunting larger animals with an AR15-type weapon is prohibited because they aren't powerful enough.

erp said...

Re so-called assault weapons. Here even previously sensible people are starting to get on board with banning "military" weapons for civilians.

Clovis e Adri said...
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Clovis e Adri said...
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Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
The question that would be more relevant is whether or not it's substantially more lethal than other rifles, for example semi-automatic hunting rifles, and I believe the answer is either "no" or "not very much more lethal."
---
And that's why I used the term "weapons such as the AR15".


Skipper,

---
That is provably nonsensical. After all, look at what kind of guns Islamists used to blow up the Brussel's airport. Wait. What?
---
There again, the argument is about effectiveness. Do you deny there are weapons more effective than others to carry on a mass attack?

---
Depends on the range.
---
What do you mean here, Skipper? I suppose an AR15 bullet leaves the gun barrel with more momentum than a standard shotgun. Are you arguing it will have less momentum [than the shotgun bullet] at later points of the trajectory?


Erp,

---
Here even previously sensible people are starting to get on board with banning "military" weapons for civilians.
---
I wonder, in which way a citizen will be deprived of his right of self defense if such guns are banned?

Bret said...

Clovis,

Except for a handful of really extreme gun control advocates, nobody is proposing banning most hunting (which would be the result of banning hunting rifles which are as deadly as AR-15s). Therefore, "weapons such as the AR15" won't, in general, be banned, so why the focus on the AR-15?

erp said...

Clovis, I put the word, military, in scare quotes because the media decides which guns are military and which guns are for hunting, etc. I have only ever seen a gun in museums and never had one in my hand, but I still advocate individuals being able to decide what they want, not Loretta Lynch et al.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] There again, the argument is about effectiveness. Do you deny there are weapons more effective than others to carry on a mass attack?

Depends. A car bomb in the right place can be far more effective. The two worst mass murders in the US, Oklahoma City and a school in the 1920s I can't remember the name of offhand, caused several times more deaths than this latest Islamist atrocity.

A pressure cooker bomb in Boston didn't kill as many, but grievously injured far more. Moreover, it provided the opportunity for the attackers to survive to attack again.

[Hey Skipper:] Depends on the range.
---
[Clovis:] What do you mean here, Skipper? I suppose an AR15 bullet leaves the gun barrel with more momentum than a standard shotgun. Are you arguing it will have less momentum [than the shotgun bullet] at later points of the trajectory
?

A few details here. Shotguns are unrifled long guns. Although they can fire a slug, typically they use pellets. The point to using pellets is to overcome deficiencies in aim with spread. The mass of pellets, and the propellant mass, are many times more than for an AR15.

An AR15 has very little kick. Shooting a 12 gauge shotgun without some sort of pad on the stock gets very painful very quickly. Within 20 yards or so, a 12 gauge tears the target apart. Outside 75 yards or so, a 12 gauge won't inflict significant wounds.

An AR15 leaves the barrel with more velocity, but since the round is so much smaller, it has less momentum.

I wonder, in which way a citizen will be deprived of his right of self defense if such guns are banned?

"Military" weapons are semi-automative rifles with that look scary and are customizable. They are no more lethal, particularly in mass-shooting situations than a 9mm pistol. And it is nearly impossible to define just what constitutes a military-style weapon without including all kinds of other guns. This shouldn't come as a surprise, since the differences are cosmetic.

There is no defendable reason to ban military style weapons.

Which leaves two options: emotion driven policy, or the first step in banning all guns.

I'm going with option 2.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

----
Depends. A car bomb in the right place can be far more effective. [...] pressure cooker bomb in Boston didn't kill as many, but grievously injured far more.
----

AFAIK, both car and pressure cooker bombs are outlawed in the USA. Or aren't they?

Somehow people thought that restricting free market acess to such bombs would be good. How mistaken were such restrictions?


---
An AR15 leaves the barrel with more velocity, but since the round is so much smaller, it has less momentum. [...] An AR15 has very little kick. Shooting a 12 gauge shotgun without some sort of pad on the stock gets very painful very quickly.
---
Thanks for the class on both guns. I mean it, I didn't know most of what you explained.

But now, since you look to know them very well, pray tell me: which ones would you choose to carry on an Orlando style mass shooting? The one that gives you pain after a few shots, or the one light and efficient like the AR15?


---
"Military" weapons are semi-automative rifles with that look scary and are customizable. They are no more lethal, particularly in mass-shooting situations than a 9mm pistol.
---
The article I quoted begs to differ:

"Compare the damage an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun can do to the human body: “One looks like a grenade went off in there,” says Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona. “The other looks like a bad knife cut.”


---
Therefore, "weapons such as the AR15" won't, in general, be banned, so why the focus on the AR-15?
---
To be clear, I have no particular interest in the AR15. I just pointed out that the case for banning weapons too effective for mass shootings purpose was better than you portray it.

Hey Skipper said...

AFAIK, both car and pressure cooker bombs are outlawed in the USA. Or aren't they?

I'm not sure. In many places, it may be entirely legal to blow up your own car, or pressure cooker, on your own property.

However, using them to kill people is entirely outlawed. Which should go a long way to demonstrating that making something illegal doesn't stop that something, it only provides a pretext for punishment.

Baseball bats aren't outlawed, but bludgeoning someone with one is.

But now, since you look to know them very well, pray tell me: which ones would you choose to carry on an Orlando style mass shooting? The one that gives you pain after a few shots, or the one light and efficient like the AR15?

Neither. The problem with an AR15 is concealment. It is much harder to sneak into someplace with an AR15 than a 9mm Glock. And once into a confined area, a 9mm pistol is just as lethal as an AR15.

"Compare the damage an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun can do to the human body: “One looks like a grenade went off in there,” says Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona. “The other looks like a bad knife cut.”

I don't disagree. However, the push for smaller caliber combat rifles came about for several reasons: changing tactics, logistics, and lethality.

Tactics changed to closer combat — that mitigated the need for a bullet with a long effective range.

Soldiers can carry twice as many rounds that weigh half as much.

And you want to wound soldiers, not kill them, because a wounded soldier takes two or three off the battlefield, a fatality removes just one.

erp said...

... , because a wounded soldier takes two or three off the battlefield, a fatality removes just one. First time I've heard that statement? Please explain.

Hey Skipper said...

Because a dead soldier can be left in place, but a wounded one needs evacuating, which takes at least one, and often two, unwounded soldiers to accomplish.

erp said...

... how can they determine if a soldier is dead or wounded without checking him out?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
I'm not sure. In many places, it may be entirely legal to blow up your own car, or pressure cooker, on your own property.
---
You almost changed subject - my question was about market access. Can you buy bombs to blow up your car in a store?

---
And once into a confined area, a 9mm pistol is just as lethal as an AR15.
---
There again, it is not. You are counting hits, I am counting deaths.


---
And you want to wound soldiers, not kill them, because a wounded soldier takes two or three off the battlefield, a fatality removes just one.
---
This looks devilishly smart. You just made me remember why wars are so hateful...

Harry Eagar said...

So the rush of gun nuts to buy still more AR-15s is arguable on which grounds?

There's a phrase been going around for a while: So you say an AR-15 is no more lethal than a knife, a car or a baseball bat? You already have a knife, a car or a baseball bat? Why do you need an AR-15?

Mateen had a handgun and a rifle and did not prefer to use the handgun.

Skipper is incorrect to say a Glock and a semiauto rifle are equally effective in a mass shooting situation. Most people cannot hit anything with a pistol even at ranges of inches.

Hey Skipper said...

So the rush of gun nuts to buy still more AR-15s is arguable on which grounds?

Because people want them, and don't need to justify themselves to you or anyone else.

So you say an AR-15 is no more lethal than a knife, a car or a baseball bat? You already have a knife, a car or a baseball bat? Why do you need an AR-15?

I know there is supposed to be no such thing as a stupid question, but I think we just found the exception here.

Obvious answer: Range.

(Seriously, you couldn't figure that intellectually vacuous prog talking point all on your own?)

Skipper is incorrect to say a Glock and a semiauto rifle are equally effective in a mass shooting situation. Most people cannot hit anything with a pistol even at ranges of inches.

That statement is even more ignorant than the one above. Especially when no one is shooting back.

erp said...

... Because people want them, and don't need to justify themselves to you or anyone else.

<<<< B * A * Z * I * N * G * A >>>>

Harry Eagar said...

Suppose they want bazookas? Some do, you know.

In any case, that's the argument of a 3-year-old.



erp said...

... bazookas it is then.

erp said...

Harry, I've been meaning to ask: what's your take on government agencies, the IRS among others, stockpiling weapons, tanks ... and for all we know missiles and nuclear bombs?

Harry Eagar said...

Indifference.

erp said...

... not outrage?

Hey Skipper said...

Suppose they want bazookas? Some do, you know.

Harry, that question has already been answered in SCOTUS decisions. Do your own homework.

In any case, that's the argument of a 3-year-old.

How about quoting what I said, so I have some idea what you are talking about.

[erp:] ... not outrage?

erp, Harry isn't fussed at all when the overlords have guns. But we subjects? Cue the outrage.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "So the rush of gun nuts to buy still more AR-15s is arguable on which grounds?"

It (may or) may not be arguable on any objective grounds. Are you trying to make a point? My point is simply your attitude is causing there to be MORE access to guns, not less. Is that what you're intending?

Harry Eagar said...

The overlords are not shooting at me. The same cannot be said of the subjects.

Bret, technology has made access to workable firearms immensely greater for nearly two generations now. As has greater wealth. I'm told that a cheap plastic part you can buy by mail from Russia turns your AR-15 semi-auto to full auto. I don't doubt it.

It is true, though, that restrictions (or incentives) can alter the use of anything. Cigarette taxes seem to have cut down smoking quite a lot.

It is not really possible to increase access to guns in America. We are way past peak gun nut.

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] I'm told that a cheap plastic part you can buy by mail from Russia turns your AR-15 semi-auto to full auto. I don't doubt it.

You should doubt it very, very, much.

(Sidebar question: Why is it that progs spout so authoritatively on guns, and gun laws, while knowing next to nothing about them?)

It is not really possible to increase access to guns in America.

Yes, it is.

New Jersey Woman Stabbed to Death by Ex While Waiting for Gun Permit.

A New Jersey woman was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on Wednesday as she waited for approval from the state to buy a handgun.

...

Unlike most states, New Jersey’s restrictive gun laws require a permit to purchase a handgun. The permit process can take several months to complete.


(Sidebar question: Why is it that this happened practically next door to NYC, but wasn't picked up by the NYT?)

Bret, technology has made access to workable firearms immensely greater for nearly two generations now.

What technology? How?

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "It is not really possible to increase access to guns in America."

The point of my other post is that illegal and untraceable access to guns can increase and is in fact increasing because of increased likelihood that access to legal guns might be reduced. And therefore, only law abiding access will be reduced. Good job anti-gun folks.

Harry Eagar said...

'What technology? How? '

The same technologies tat made vacuum cleaners cheaper and more reliable.

Hey Skipper said...

The same technologies tat made vacuum cleaners cheaper and more reliable.

That has to be the most non-responsive answer to a straightforward question I have ever heard.

Try again.