ayjay + guns   4

Gun Culture Is My Culture. And I Fear for What It Has Become. - The New York Times
I don’t like being in places where I can’t find the exits. I don’t like crowds and being surrounded by more people than I can keep my eyes on. For the most part nowadays, I stay at the house. When I have to leave, I slide my holster into my waistband before I put on my boots. When a book tour sends me out of North Carolina, 36 states honor the concealed-carry license in my wallet. Unlike a lot of those who carry, I don’t buy into that only-way-to-stop-a-bad-guy-with-a-gun-is-a-good-guy-with-a-gun bravado. I have no visions of being a hero. Instead, I find myself looking for where I’d run, asking myself what I would get behind. The gun is the last resort. It’s the final option when all else is exhausted.

When Ashley and I left the store, we headed toward the Levi’s outlet, where she planned to buy a new pair of jeans. The walkway narrowed, and the sidewalks were filled with people and noise. Even though I knew the risk was remote, my mind raced with all those questions of what I’d do if someone suddenly opened fire. As we walked, I could feel the pistol holstered on my side, the weight of my gun tugging at my belt. The fear was lessened by knowing that there was a round chambered, that all it would take is the downward push of a safety and the short pull of a trigger for that bullet to breathe. I felt safer knowing that gun was there.
[What if always having a gun is not what eases the anxiety but what creates it? What if carrying a pistol everywhere you go keeps you constantly in mind of circumstances in which it might be used?]
april 2018 by ayjay
How to Tear a Nation Apart - The American Interest
After 9/11 and the Boston Bombings, Americans grieved together and comforted each other. They resolved to fight their attackers as one nation. Insofar as there was partisan dissension, it was mostly contained to cranks on either side. But the attacks at San Bernardino and Orlando have yielded an altogether different response, dominated by hostility, mistrust, and outrageous partisan attacks. Part of this is because the latter two attacks took place during a hotly-contested election season that has brought fevered populism to the fore on both sides of the aisle. But perhaps the most important reason Americans have been divided, rather than united, in the face of terror over the last year is simply because the terrorists elected to kill their victims with bullets. If Omar Mateen had planted Tsarnaev-style pressure-cooker bombs in the crowded Pulse nightclub on Saturday night, he may well have claimed just as many casualties. But the attack would not have immediately set off a political firestorm over gun control.

Guns occupy a critical space in America’s increasingly acerbic culture wars, a manifestation of the broader social convection currents taking place below the surface. For Jacksonians who are losing faith in the ability of established institutions to preserve order, the Second Amendment is a bulwark against totalitarian movements, like Islamism, that would undermine American liberty. Under this deeply held view, attacks by ISIS-enthusiasts strengthen, rather than weaken, the case for gun rights. But for cosmopolitan liberals, gun rights are an anachronism—a symbol of all the wrong-headed views espoused by working class whites. Set these two warring camps against each other in the context of an ongoing terror threat, and you push an already divided society even further down the path of tribalism and fracture.

The attackers in Orlando and San Bernardino accomplished something the attackers in Boston and New York didn’t: They drove a wedge between patriotic Americans, and managed to ensure that our grieving over the dead was polluted from the outset by a din of vicious political assaults. By any measure, they and their fellow travelers must consider this a great success. Perhaps terrorists who choose to carry out their massacres with guns are actually “taking advantage” of American society in a rather different way than many liberals think.
guns  politics 
june 2016 by ayjay
What’s Pro-Life About an AR-15? | The American Conservative
So it struck me as all the more strange that, in complete contrast to the abortion debate, when it comes to guns American conservatives reverse their priorities. They rank freedom over life. “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” Dr. Ben Carson’s response to the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon befuddled me.

Presumably, those who own guns for self-defense wouldn’t accept the claim that they rank freedom over life. They would say the freedom to own guns is precisely a freedom to defend life, their own and other people’s. Yet are more lives saved than lost by people having such easy access to lethal weapons?

The sociologist Max Weber famously argued that the state should exercise a monopoly on coercive force, and we Brits basically subscribe to that view. Let the police do the policing. The fact that that assumption is not shared this side of the Atlantic is what I’ve been slowest to realize. Yet, and again this is just the tentative observation of an ignorant outsider, is there not a temptation in a machismo culture to overestimate one’s ability to be Jason Bourne when the time comes?
guns  rights  seamlessgarment 
march 2016 by ayjay
Guns And States | Slate Star Codex
In summary, with my personal confidence levels:

1. Scatterplots showing raw correlations between gun ownership and “gun deaths” are entirely driven by suicide, and therefore dishonest to use to prove that guns cause murder (~100% confidence)

2. But if you adjust for all relevant confounders, there is a positive correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates (~90% confidence). This relationship is likely causal (~66% confidence).

3. The majority of the difference between America’s murder rate and that of other First World countries is not because of easier access to guns in America (~90% confidence).

4. But some of it is due to easier access to guns. This is probably about 0.5 murders/100K/year.

5. An Australian-style gun control program that worked and had no side effects would probably prevent about 2,000 murders in the US. It would also prevent a much larger number of suicides. I am otherwise ignoring suicides in this piece because discussing them would make me too angry.

6. Probably the amount of lost gun-related enjoyment an Australian-style gun control program would cause do not outweigh the benefits.
guns  politics  data 
january 2016 by ayjay

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