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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Unintended Guns

Can you ban heroin use? Given that US federal law for being caught with a mere pound of heroin is life in prison yet more than a half-million people in the US have used heroin in the past year, I'd say either no or that the cost of doing so would be intolerably high (for example, killing on-the-spot anyone even suspected of either buying, selling or possessing the drug without due process might work, but that cost would be awfully high and probably intolerable). And heroin use is probably not protected by the constitution.

Can you ban AR-15s? Just like heroin, you can pass legislation to do so, but in reality, no, you really can't. Because unlike heroin, AR-15s are easy to make. Really easy. Unfortunately, because of fear of anti-AR-15 legislation, there is now a burgeoning underground market for the equipment to make critical AR-15 components:
But even fears of such legislation have lead gun owners to stock up on guns and ammunition after every mass shooting in recent history. And now a newer trend has emerged in the days since Omar Mateen killed 49 people with a handgun and a Sig Sauer MCX rifle: sales are spiking for the equipment and materials used by DIY gunsmiths to make their own, fully-functional, semi-automatic weapons. 
Using power tools, chunks of aluminum, and cheap, consumer-grade digital gadgets, those firearm-focused members of the maker movement fabricate homemade weapons like AR-15s and AR-10s that skirt all regulation and would be untraceable in some imagined, future crackdown in which the government were to seize registered weapons. “People are hopping off the mainstream train and accepting an underground dissident mentality when it comes to guns,” says Cody Wilson, the founder of the Austin, Texas-based DIY gun group Defense Distributed. “They’re making the connection: If [an AR-15 ban] is enacted, I can get this machine and make one anyway.”
Since the fall of 2014, Defense Distributed has sold approximately three thousand of the $1,500 devices it calls the Ghost Gunner, a computer-controlled, one-foot cubed milling machine designed to let anyone carve their own aluminum body of an AR-15 at home. Since all other parts of the gun can be bought without any regulation, the result is a lethal weapon that’s free from background checks, waiting periods, serial numbers, or any other government involvement.
On a typical day, Defense Distributed sells four or five of its gun-making machines, according to Wilson. But on the day after the Orlando gun massacre, it sold seven. The second day after the killings, as Democratic senators were filibustering, it sold 11. In all, Defense Distributed’s total revenue has jumped from around $30,000 a week to more than $50,000 last week, the most sales it’s seen since the hype around the Ghost Gunner’s initial launch 20 months ago.
Those are basically cheap CNC mills that are the same as what's used to machine every metal prototype part in the world, so those can't be banned without bringing new product innovation all over the world to a complete halt.

So congratulations anti-gun people. You have now guaranteed that not only can the AR-15 never be eradicated (and it never could've been), you've also guaranteed that any criminal and/or would be terrorist can make an untraceable AR-15 cheaply and easily no matter what future legislation is enacted.

I'm guessing that's a good example of an unintended consequence.

38 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

I must tell, I much admire the DIY culture in the USA.

Now, quite sincerely, you should thanks every anti-gun person in your country for boosting entrepreneurship.

Harry Eagar said...

Hmmmm. So the killing and maiming of 10,000,000 Americans since 1975 was an intended consequence? Congratulations, gun nuts.

You should be proud.

Harry Eagar said...

As for heroin, let's note that the penetration of heroin into society is something like 1/100th of the penetration of guns.

Heroin is less harmful, by any measure

Bret said...

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has an interesting take.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "...killing and maiming of 10,000,000 Americans...You should be proud."

We are. Very. Or at least we would be if it were true.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "...let's note that the penetration of heroin into society is something like 1/100th of the penetration of guns. Heroin is less harmful, by any measure..."

Since gun deaths per 100,000 is around 10 and heroin overdose deaths per 100,000 is about 3, given you're 1/100th penetration, that would make heroin 30 times as deadly, no?

erp said...

Bret, no fair using arithmetic.

Harry Eagar said...

1 American in 100 will be shot to death. Many fewer will die from opioid overdose.

It is rare, indeed, that anyone dies from a drive-by heroin overdose

erp said...

More arithmetic:

One in every 100 (or one percent) of Americans will be shot to death.

There are 300 million Americans (not counting illegals).

One percent of 300,000,000 = 3,000,000

... Harry, what time frame are you thinking?

Harry Eagar said...

Average lifetime, say 80-some years

erp said...

More arithmetic II:

3,000,000/80 = 37,500 Americans have been shot to death per year for the past 80 years.

Is this your contention, Harry?

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "It is rare, indeed, that anyone dies from a drive-by heroin overdose."

To me, dead is dead.

Of course, if one has a pathological subjective hatred of guns, then I suppose dead by a gun is different than dead by not a gun.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "10,000,000 Americans since 1975 ... Average lifetime, say 80-some years..."

2016 - 80 = 1936, not 1975.

erp said...

... arithmetic is hard; koolaid drinking is easy.

Harry Eagar said...

Two separate ideas, which I am able to keep in mind at the same time.

One includes the maimed, the other only the dead.

Not so hard when you read what's written

Harry Eagar said...

'I suppose dead by a gun is different than dead by not a gun.'

Not dead is different. Nobody dies from drive-by heroin injections.

It is not obvious that gums make life better and very obvious that having one (or 10) in your house makes it worse:

http://wonkette.com/603433/texas-gun-enthusiast-kills-daughters-aims-at-cops-has-gun-taken-from-cold-dead-hands

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "...very obvious that having one (or 10) in your house makes it worse..."

Very obviously NOT or people wouldn't choose to own them.

erp said...

Harry, here's what you said (June 27, 2016 at 12:06 PM):

1 American in 100 will be shot to death. Many fewer will die from opioid overdose.

It is rare, indeed, that anyone dies from a drive-by heroin overdose


When I asked the time frame, you said (June 27, 2016 at 4:20 PM):

Average lifetime, say 80-some years.

My numbers reflect what you said above.

On June 28, 2016 at 9:34 AM, you replied with another of your patented non-sequitors,

Two separate ideas, which I am able to keep in mind at the same time.

One includes the maimed, the other only the dead.

Not so hard when you read what's written.


Perhaps you should take some time to sort out your multitudinous ideas and see if you can come up with a coherent one.

Harry Eagar said...

10,000,000 killed or maimed since 1975.

3,000,000 or so killed since 1920.

2 different ideas. Each in itself simple.

Any way you slice it, about 1 in 100 Americans dies of gunshot. You'd think that would be an issue.

Bret said...

Harry,

You need to supply some links (to government databases, not some random spot spouting nonsense) or I'm calling bullshit. Looking at the numbers there have simply been nowhere near 10,000,000 americans killed or maimed since 1975.

Howard said...

This infographic shows gun deaths in relative perspective quantitatively.

Then there are other perspectives: (video) not the guns, Kulturkampf, rights.

erp said...

Howard, to be fair, Harry got the 1% right.

Howard said...

This is a version that includes a transcript with the video.

erp said...

Howard, thanks for this. I only watch videos of cats or my grandchildren. Whittle is witty -- I didn't know there were transcripts of his stuff. I literally lol reading it.

Harry Eagar said...

I suppose you think that infographic make a point, but it just confirms what I wrote.

The parts that aren't fantastical, that is.

Bret said...

It confirms that "10,000,000 Americans" have been killed or maimed by guns "since 1975"?

I think not.

Howard said...

It confirms that "10,000,000 Americans" have been killed or maimed by guns "since 1975"?

I think not.


In the infographic guns account for 1% of premature deaths. Then there are naturally occurring deaths. Even spread over the time frame under consideration, 1% equating to 10,000,000 implies wiping out the entire population and then some...even after all kinds of adjustments.

Harry Eagar said...

'and mimed' does not mean 'died.'

Sheesh

I thought you were all math wizards.

30,000 a year times 100 years is 3,000,000. 3,000,000 times 100 is 300,000,000, the current population.

The chances that an American in the 20th c. died of gunfire was quite a bit better than one in 100.

Hey Skipper said...

Harry makes, again, for the manyeth time, the mistake of including suicides in gun deaths.

There is precisely zero coefficient between gun ownership and suicide rates, but there are with gender and culture. Men commit suicide four times as often as women. Cultures with practically no guns (Korea, Japan) have far higher suicide rates than the US. Countries that have confiscated guns haven't experienced any change in suicide rates.

Since 2/3 of the deaths that Harry cites are due to suicide, and he is fanatical about banning guns because of deaths, then he must, if he has any intellectual integrity whatsoever, strike suicides from the total, because they would have happened anyway.

This isn't the first time Harry has trotted out this decrepit nag.

Which, to be completely fair to Harry, he didn't defend when challenged.

Just to reiterate -- striking 6,600,000 off that total leaves 3.7M, and a far, far, lower actually attributable rate. As for the remainder, what matters is net, not gross. Since people get killed by other means, then unless Harry is asserting that all murder would stop in the absence of guns, then what is really at stake is the net. That is, murders that wouldn't have happened at all if not for guns.

He has absolutely no idea what that number is; no one does. Indeed, it is a fact that over the US's history, the murder rate has gone down as gun ownership has increased. Is that proof of anything? But it is a very good reason to suspect that the net number of deaths due to guns is much smaller than 3.7M.

So when Bret says Harry's number is bullshit, that is putting it charitably. The bull undoubtedly put more thought into that steaming pile than Harry does to 10,000,000 gun deaths.

erp said...

... Something just popped into this ancient head. Is Harry counting all the millions shot to death by his heroes, Stalin, Mao ... ?

Bret said...

I'm still waiting for the links Harry...

Harry Eagar said...

'There is precisely zero coefficient between gun ownership and suicide rates'

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-gunownership-suicide-idUSBRE98Q0S320130927

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] 'There is precisely zero [correlation] between gun ownership and suicide rates'

Here is the study. Its conclusion:

If even 1 in 10 of the approximately 22,000 persons who attempted suicide with firearms in 2010 (the 19,932 who died and the approximately 2,000 who survived) substituted drugs or cutting, there would have been approximately 1,900 fewer suicide deaths. The potential for substantial reduction in suicide rates is apparent in our comparison of suicides in high– versus low–gun ownership states, where suicide attempt rates are similar, but the rate of suicide is twice as high in high–gun ownership states.

On the face of it, that seems a pretty compelling reason to expect that eliminating guns would save 11,000 lives per year. (Roughly half of suicides are by firearm).

However, I'm skeptical, for several reasons.

First, there are these two facts: While males are 4 times more likely than females to die by suicide, females attempt suicide 3 times as often as males.

On top of that, there is an obvious correlation between suicide rates by state, male to female ratio by state, and gun ownership by state.

Yet the study says not a word about sex ratios when discussing the factors for which it controlled ([our study] is consistent with previous ecological work that controlled for aggregate-level measures associated with suicidality, including rates of major depression, serious suicidal thoughts, serious mental illness, alcohol and drug dependence and abuse, urbanization, poverty, and unemployment).

Hey Skipper said...

But wait, there's more.

Another suicide fact: whites commit suicide at almost three times the rate blacks, and more than twice as often as Hispanics. So perhaps it is worthwhile to look at the correlation between states with the highest percentage of caucasians, and suicide rates.

Given that the correlation is obvious, one would think it worth controlling for. The study's authors, however, did not, nor did they even mention that as a complicating factor.

Consequently, I don't think the authors can justifiably assert they have isolated guns as significantly risk factor in suicide rates, rather than merely being the means at hand in places where there would have been more suicides anyway (more male, more white).

But wait, there's even more.

Successful suicide is predominantly male, because males predominantly choose very lethal means (60% by gun). Therefore, if guns are a significant risk, and males would, per the tendentious "if" in their conclusion, choose drugs or cutting instead, then in states with low gun ownership the M-F suicide ratio must be significantly lower.

(It isn't. In fact, the 4:1 ratio is so universal that there are no rankings in variation by state.)

And that, right there, rubbishes the entire exercise.

Hey Skipper said...

Which shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, Australia's and England's suicide rates have been completely unaffected by gun confiscation, and, as I mentioned above, Japan and Korea have much higher suicide rates than the US, in the nearly complete absence of guns.

All of this raises some questions: why are confiscationists so credulous? Harry, the actual study, as opposed to some journalist's incompetent description thereof, took me seconds to find. Did it ever occur to you to look at it to see if it passed a sniff test? Or was its adherence to the narrative the only fact you needed? That tendentious "if" I mentioned above should have been a giveaway: there is absolutely no reason to think that if a particular highly lethal means of suicide was to disappear, men would suddenly approach suicide as women do.

In other words, Harry, help me understand why progressives are so crappy at even simple analysis.

Finally, there is another serious point to be made here. Republicans long ago prohibited the CDC spending any money to analyze gun violence.

This study is exhibits A, B & C as to why. This study is a glaring example of numbers marshaled to prop up a pre-existing conclusion, to the extent that it fails even the most elementary deductive conclusion. Moreover, I strongly suspect that if the authors had included gender and race ratios — both of which are whopping great differences when it comes to suicide — they would have concluded that legal gun ownership is merely a proxy.

Suicide is the disease, not guns (or ropes, fourth floor windows, etc — none of which confiscationists want the CDC to investigate).

erp said...

On a happier note, Happy 4th of July.

Howard said...

...help me understand why progressives are so crappy at even simple analysis

Lousy critical thinking skills seem to go with the territory. Partially, it's about an unwillingness to accept the constrained or tragic vision of human nature.

Hey Skipper said...

Obviously, even more gun control is required.