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

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tilting at Windmills

In the continuing saga of Dr. John D. Kelly IV, associate professor and vice chair of orthopedic surgery at Temple University School of Medicine, he has responded by email to my reply to his previous comment, found below as the update to my fisking of his Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed "Too Many Guns." Dr. Kelly is typically brief:
Kevin, just as slavery was abolished, Americans need to address the killings. How else do you propose to stop the flood of weapons to children? It is easier to carry than to get served for the youth in North Philly. How many guns do you need before you feel secure? Life is sacred and there remains too many guns. One of our docs visited a gun shop and stated he could have purchased 3-4 guns in less than an hour. Guns (and people) kill, JK
I, typically, am not:
Dr. Kelly:

First, I'd like to thank you for your willingness to continue this discussion. I don't know if you realize just how rare this is.

Again, however, I'd like you to read your last email to me carefully. "Just as slavery was abolished, Americans need to address the killings." As I noted, we went to war over slavery. "How else do you propose to stop the flood of weapons to children?" Again, you're inverting cause and effect. Are you at all aware that from 1994 until 2005 homicide and aggravated assault both declined? In 1993 the national homicide rate was 10.1 per hundred thousand population. In 2000 the rate was 6.1. In 2004 it was 5.5. Nonfatal firearm related violent crime dropped as well, from 600 per 100,000 in 1994 to 140 per 100,000 in 2004. Granted, these aren't stellar numbers, but they represent the lowest level of violent crime in this nation since the early 1960's, and during this decade at least two million new long arms and one million new handguns entered the civilian market each and every year. You may claim that the 1994 "Assault Weapon Ban" had something to do with this decline, but the National Academies of Science would disagree with you.

What I find most interesting is the order in which you put the two thoughts: "Americans need to address the killings," "how else do you propose to stop the flood of weapons to children?" Well, which problem do you want to address first? "Addressing the killing," or stopping the "flood of weapons to children?" Because the two don't seem to be directly linked. From 1994 to 2004 killing declined dramatically, even among "children," without our doing anything about gun control.

You say "It is easier to carry than to get served for the youth in North Philly." I'm sorry, I don't understand what that means, exactly, but I assume you're referring to the availability of firearms in the black market. I noted to you previously that in the UK they have banned handguns outright. All the registered, legally owned ones were turned in to the government, yet their handgun-involved crime - including homicide - has gone UP, dramatically. England, Wales, and Scotland exist on an island. They share a common gun law, yet they cannot stop the "flood" of weapons to criminals even though they've done everything that gun control groups here have told us would make us safer.

So what are you suggesting we do? Repeat the same behavior while expecting different results? Or, instead, should we attempt to solve the more difficult problem of why North Philly youths kill each other at a rate more than six times that of the general public, and at a rate higher than in any other large American city? Why did Philadelphia have 27 homicides per 100,000 population in 2005, while Phoenix, Arizona had 17, and San Antonio, Texas had 11? How is this caused by guns, and if guns are at fault, why the differential?

Committed with, yes. Caused by, no. This is not a distinction without a difference, because what you are advocating - disarmament of the criminally violent - cannot be accomplished. Not only is it politically difficult to initiate, it's simply logistically impossible to achieve. Much as with drug prohibition, you cannot keep guns away from the people willing to use them illegally. If nothing else, England proves this. Instead, you must work to affect demand, because the supply required to feed the criminal market is tiny, and the business is lucrative.

"How many guns do you need before you feel secure?" How many fire extinguishers do you have in your home, and do they make you feel secure against a home fire? I own firearms for a number of reasons, defense is just one of them. How many guns would you allow me to have? How many scalpels do you need to perform your job, and how many should I allow you?

"Life is sacred and there remains too many guns." This is known in logic as a non sequitur - one is not related to the other. What does the "number of guns" have to do with the proposition that life is sacred? And how many guns is "enough?" Who decides? What are the criteria?

Life is indeed sacred, and I intend to protect mine and the lives of my family from those who do not consider them sacred as best I can. Say, for example, as a young man here in Tucson did Tuesday night, or Margaret Johnson did in Harlem last September, or the Algiers Point "militia" did in New Orleans after Katrina just to name a few. Believe it or not, by the absolute lowest estimates over 100,000 defensive gun uses occur each year. What you are asking for is to disarm people like this without disarming the people they need to defend themselves against. It is my intent to ensure that these people are not left helpless because people like you don't understand the actual problem and believe that "gun control" is not only a solution to it, but the solution to it.

"One of our docs visited a gun shop and stated he could have purchased 3-4 guns in less than an hour."

I'm sure he could have. How much would it have cost him? He'd have had to fill out 3 or 4 BATF form 4473s and undergone a background check, too. If the guns he bought were handguns, the dealer would have also had to provide the BATF with a multiple-handgun purchase form letting them know that he had done so. What's your point? We have a number of existing gun laws, some good, some not, yet we're told that they're never enough.

"Guns (and people) kill." No, people kill with guns. People also kill with sharp objects, blunt objects, and their bare hands. Guns do not load themselves, aim themselves, or fire themselves. But guns are the only weapons that make a small woman dangerous to a large man, that make the elderly or infirm dangerous to violent youths, or make the individual dangerous to the mob.

I don't expect you to have read this entire missive. I think you're too enamored with the beautiful but flawed idea of "if there were just no guns" to actually listen, but I appreciate the opportunity to at least present my side.
I'm curious to see if he'll reply again. He surprised me once.

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