Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Escalation of Failure

When someone tries to use a strategy which is dictated by their ideology, and that strategy doesn't seem to work, then they are caught in something of a cognitive bind. If they acknowledge the failure of the strategy, then they would be forced to question their ideology. If questioning the ideology is unthinkable, then the only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn't executed sufficiently well. They respond by turning up the power, rather than by considering alternatives. (This is sometimes referred to as "escalation of failure".) - Steven Den Beste
Today's example comes from the City of Boston, as reported in today's Boston Glob, er Globe. To wit:
City plans a retooled buyback of guns

Exchange may offer gift cards instead of cash

The City of Boston and community groups plan to launch a gun buyback program as early as next month that may offer gift cards instead of cash to people who turn in weapons, community leaders and a police spokeswoman said yesterday.

The buyback program, the first such effort in a decade, is being designed to avoid some of the problems a similar program faced in the mid-1990s.

From 1993 through 1996, the city collected 2,800 guns by offering $50 for each weapon. While there was some evidence that the program took some of the targeted weapons off the street, criminologists who studied the program found that many of the guns were older and not the guns typically used in crimes. The program was abandoned as violent crime fell and as police and critics raised questions about its effectiveness.
Note that, as I've mentioned before, violent crime fell everywhere. Gun "buybacks" had nothing to do with the decline.
This time, said community leaders involved in the planning, they will try to recruit more grass-roots groups that work with young people involved in crime. Police want the new campaign to use gift cards instead of cash; criminologists found that some people used the buyback money to buy newer guns.
You. Don't. Say.

Imagine that! (And note that it says "newer" not "new.")
Pending final approval from Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the city has made a preliminary pledge of about $25,000 for this year's campaign, said community leaders who have been planning the effort with City Hall. They hope the final amount will grow with private pledges from businesses, neighborhood groups, and others.

In addition, city officials plan to try to leverage the initial $25,000 by getting businesses to give significant discounts on gift cards to stores such as Target and Best Buy. Community leaders said the buyback program probably will offer gift cards of around $100 for each working gun.
I wonder if the drug/gun dealer on the corner will take the gift cards in exchange for his products? I mean, $100 is $100, right?

Aren't Lorcins going for about $65 these days? They "work." Kinda.
The program is proposed as City Hall seeks answers to an alarming surge in firearm violence, in which 99 people were shot in Boston this year by April 6. The number of shootings has risen over last year, when there were the most shootings since 1995.

At the same time, police believe there are more guns on the street than in at least six years. Last year, police seized 797 guns, a 35 percent increase over 2004, and the number of seizures through the middle of March was up over last year.
I don't know about Boston, but I've driven Tucson's streets for years, and I have yet to find a gun laying on any of them.

And that pisses me off, because Diane Feinstein promised there would be AK-47s and Uzis on the streets after the Assault Weapon Ban (that wasn't) expired. I want an H&K MP5, but I'll settle for an Uzi.
Menino's office declined to comment yesterday, but Police Department spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll confirmed that officials have been meeting with community leaders to plan for a probable buyback debut next month.

"It's still in its conceptual phase," Driscoll said yesterday. "Although we are well aware of the historical perspective of this program, both in favor and opposed, we know it is our responsibility to explore every possible avenue in our efforts to decrease violent crime."
With the glaring exception of allowing the law-abiding to carry a firearm for self-defense. "Every possible avenue" but that one. More "guns on the street," you understand.
Driscoll said that officials are trying to design a buyback program that weds the best aspects of the effort of the mid-1990s with fixes to the worst. She said officials still believe that offering amnesty to people turning in illegal guns is a good idea, while offering cash incentives for turning in guns is a bad idea.
Yup. Let them turn in guns used in crimes for destruction and give 'em $100 that they can use to get a newer "hot" gun. It doesn't matter if it's cash or a gift card. It all trades the same on the street.
"Cash awards were inappropriate," Driscoll said. She said officials are focusing on gift cards for guns as a "way to ensure that incentives are being used for proper reasons."
And how, exactly are you going to do that?



Driscoll declined to discuss the $25,000 figure, saying, "We are still actively exploring potential funding options, as well as soliciting corporate donations."

The effectiveness of gun buyback programs, which became popular across the country during the 1990s, has been questioned by criminologists who have concluded that few guns used in crime are turned in.
You know, the English have found that to be the case too. (But at least the Brits got a rocket launcher!)

But cognitive dissonance prevents anyone from actually learning from experience. So, $50 didn't work? Let's try it again only harder! Certainly $100 will bring in those evil crime guns!
Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, found that a buyback program there had little impact on violent crime. In addition, many people used the cash rewards for new guns and others turned in guns they no longer used while holding onto other, more favored firearms, he said.
Like I said, if I could get a $100 gift card for a $65 Lorcin or Raven, I'd be down at the local gun shop like a shot (pun intended.)

But instead, what they get is stuff out of people's closets and from under their beds. Sometimes historic weapons like the Japanese Arisaka pressure-test rifle World War II Navy veteran Bruno Filippelli turned in for a $75 Target gift-card in 2005, or the 18th century Brown Bess musket turned in during an amnesty (no compensation) in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada. Yeah. Real useful.

But what are they good at? Getting attention. Drawing press. It's the appearance of "doing something" - and, since the job of politicians is to keep getting reelected...
"Gun buybacks don't have much of an impact on crime, because they tend not to attract guns from the segment of the population most likely to use them in crime," Rosenfeld said. "City officials know they are popular, they attract attention, and they can attract attention to the overall crime problem."

John Rosenthal, a close ally of the Boston police on efforts to fight violence and cofounder of the nonprofit Stop Handgun Violence, said he does not support buybacks because they don't work.

"I applaud the mayor's office and City Hall for trying to do anything and everything, (with the one, noted, exception) but the sad reality is Boston Police, among the best law enforcement agencies in the country . . . are never going to stop the flow of crime guns into Boston or any other city across the country until there are uniform federal laws that restrict gun access to criminals," Rosenthal said.
Read that: "Uniform federal laws that restrict gun access to everybody BUT criminals." No matter what, the criminals will get all the guns they want. Notice how Rosenthal's comment echos that of Britain's shadow home affairs minister James Paice from that BBC link: "Nearly all gun crime involves illegally-held handguns, not legally-owned shotguns or rifles. The real problem is that illegal firearms are flooding into Britain because the government cannot secure our borders."

Rosenthal thinks that uniform federal laws will help keep guns from "flowing into" his city. England has uniform laws. It's a freaking island. They've got a handgun BAN. And with all of those preconditions they can't keep guns out of the hands of the people willing to use them in crime.

Once again, everyone's concentrating on the wrong problem. But guns are the easy target. Everyone knows that it's the number of guns that's the cause of all this crime. Right?
However, Rosenthal said he is pleased that the city will not be giving out cash. "In the past, kids would bring in cheap guns and would go out and buy a better gun," he said.
I LOVE the fact that they keep repeating this. And where do kids buy guns? Not at the local federally licensed dealer!

And this time will be different... why?
But community leaders helping to organize the buyback and make it an annual event said that they believe it can make a difference and that taking even a few guns off the street is worth it.

"Even if we take off five, 10 guns that stopped a shooting that could be potentially fatal, I think that we've succeeded," said Jesús Gerena, director of community development and organizing for the Hyde Square Task Force, a nonprofit that works on youth development in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.
Yes, if it saves just one life! Except they've proved pretty conclusively that "buy-backs" don't.

But to those suffering from cognitive dissonance, this matters not! The philosophy cannot be wrong!
Jorge Martinez -- director of Project RIGHT, a Roxbury community organization, said the buyback program will include public service announcements. He said the program aims to persuade friends and relatives of criminals to turn in guns, as well as residents who know or discover so-called community guns: shared weapons that are used for crimes and then returned to a hiding place.

"We're not talking about the high-tech guns that criminals are going to be using," Martinez said. "We know we won't get those folks to turn in their guns. That would be foolish. We're talking about mothers who find guns, youths who know where guns are."

Kathie Mainzer, a Jamaica Plain restaurant owner who helped launch the first gun buyback program more than a decade ago after a shooting on the playground of her daughter's school, said that many guns that appeared to be active were turned in the last time.

Michael Patrick MacDonald, who answered the hot line for that campaign and whose well-known book "All Souls" chronicles life in South Boston, said he received calls asking where to turn in guns from street workers helping teenagers leave gangs and from former girlfriends of men in jail.

"It's really important to get the guns out of circulation, and it should be done every year," said Mainzer, who is helping city officials plan the new buyback. "We want people to have an opportunity to safely get rid of a gun without turning it over to another 15-year-old or selling it, which happens."
Excuse me, but I thought there was a program already in place for that. It's called a police department?

As far as doing this every year, won't the Violence Policy Center issue a press release accusing the gun manufacturers of using buy-backs to create demand for new guns?

Oh, I see. It's useless, and it's a media circus opportunity. A "Win-Win" scenario!

(h/t to Dodd, who I sincerely hope is writing somewhere under a pseudonym.)

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