The La Salle Falconer

Banning Guns Won’t Solve Our Problem — Here’s Why

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Shak Saidjanov, Editor

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Many voices in the political theater and the media have been telling us for weeks that further gun control is the logical answer to our mass shooting problem. However, the facts don’t support their argument.

According to the Cato Institute, there were roughly 38,000 gun deaths in 2016. Two thirds of them were suicides.

Currently, it’s estimated that there are over 300,000,000 guns in the United States. Between 1993 and 2003, gun ownership increased by 56%; in that time, gun violence per capita decreased by nearly half.

According to the FBI, there are four times more murders by knives than by rifles.

A study conducted from 1993 through 2011 by the US Department of Justice found that handguns, not assault rifles, are responsible for more than 80% of total mass shootings. And since 1950, nearly all mass public shootings have occurred in designated gun free zones (for more on this topic see The New York Times’ article, “The Assault Weapon Myth”).  

The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, yet ranks 28th in gun murders, and 31st in general gun violence; that’s less than 4 deaths per 100,000 people. Developed countries such as South Africa and Thailand are among those with much higher rates of national gun violence, even though Thailand has extremely strict gun laws and South Africa has banned private gun ownership altogether.    

Switzerland, a nation with a population of around 8 million, currently has around 2 million guns in circulation (roughly one gun for every four people), with little gun legislation. Switzerland’s overall gun homicide rate is practically non existent, and they haven’t had a single mass shooting since 2001.

Between 2013 and 2015, the six states in the US that banned the open carry of firearms (California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and New York) experienced higher rates of murder, especially police deaths. Out of 20,000 police chiefs and sheriffs surveyed by National Review, 86.4% support concealed carry, and all police, including those involved with response to mass shootings, are overwhelmingly against any further gun control.

Yet, many citizens continue to advocate for it.

Surely, it’s ignorant not to admit that the United States has a school shooting problem. This is why many of us, even Lasallians, have taken to the streets in a “March For Our Lives,” rightly emphasizing that enough is enough; the tragic and horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland is being treated as a last straw. And I agree; it’s horrendous that over decades of school massacres in the United States, students have learned to accept school shootings as a reality.

In no way is an argument against gun control an endorsement of this violence.

We have a problem. But while recognizing our problem and working toward a bipartisan advancement of dialogue and solution on this issue is a noble pursuit, that is not what’s being accomplished in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. Rather, what is being orchestrated is an ignorant and misguided crusade against gun ownership, gun owners, gun heritage, gun culture, and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Naively, we have stopped fighting for our rights, and have started fighting against our rights.

A common argument in favor of stricter gun legislation is the suggestion that although our founding fathers may have written the right to bear arms into the U.S. Constitution, they didn’t foresee school shootings or high caliber assault rifles and machine guns. That argument is factually inaccurate. Not only were the first modern machine guns being invented as early as 1718, but school shootings have always been a sorrowful reality in America, with records dating back as early as 1764.

Consider watching this video, created by conservative personality Stephen Crowder, on our founding fathers’ understanding of high capacity weapons:

Although I may not agree entirely with Crowder’s rhetoric in this video, he does prove a point: our founding fathers believed in the rights of citizens to bear arms, not simply for sheer pleasure, and not strictly for hunting; rather, with the Second Amendment they solidified our freedom to hold ourselves in self government for generations to come, knowing the responsibility, liberty, and power that came for gun ownership. If we ban or restrict guns now, we will be trashing that legacy and punishing future Americans.

Ironically, the leaders of this gun control movement are the survivors of the Parkland tragedy, the future Americans that a gun ban would affect.

In a well written piece for The Guardian, editors from Stoneman Douglas’s student newspaper outline what they hope to gain from the movement; it is their ‘manifesto’, so to speak. I agree with some of the points they make in this guest editorial, including changing “privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement,” and I encourage you to take a look at the piece. These fellow high schoolers have gone through what we at La Salle hope we never have to experience, and their activism is brave and needed.

But their activism is politically misguided. And their activism is factually ill informed. This is made clear by their emotional battle with gun owners and the NRA.      

Surely the NRA  is not without fault; it’s no secret that the NRA pours money into politicians in hopes of advancing their own agenda. But could the NRA be pouring money into various political platforms at least partly with gun owners’ interests in mind? And consider this: Planned Parenthood donates millions to politicians, which is equally as controversial, as one could argue that Planned Parenthood is in the business of systematically killing and harvesting unborn children.    

Consider watching this video from NRAtv on the National Rifle Association’s fight for civil rights:

To go as far as calling the NRA a “terrorist organization” or a group of  “child murderers”, as Parkland survivors have done, is a woeful misstep.

By calling the NRA a terrorist organization we are, in effect, calling its 5 million active members (and by extension all gun owners) terrorists. If calling the NRA a literal terrorist organization and advocating for bans that would affect all gun owners after the actions of a lone, mentally insane perpetrator is considered appropriate, I wonder if calling Islam a literal terrorist organization and advocating for bans that would impede all Muslims after the actions of a lone, mentally insane perpetrator is also appropriate.

The answer, of course, is no.

Calling all Muslims terrorists or immediately calling for bans or restrictions on people within Islam would today be considered discriminatory, racist, and divisive. But that’s my point — if Islam and our entire Muslim population cannot be held responsible for the acts of a sole, mentally deranged radical terrorist, then logically the NRA and our entire population of gun owning citizens also cannot be held responsible for the acts of a sole, mentally unstable radical shooter.

Especially when these proposed bans would have absolutely no consequential effect on gun violence in America. In fact, we have already tried a ban on “assault weapons” during the Clinton presidency; after a Republican majority Congress failed to renew the ban in 2003, a later study by the University of Pennsylvania in a report for the Department of Justice proved the ban was completely ineffective, and any fall in gun violence in those years was due to other factors.

We need to be focusing on the real issue here.

We need to be focusing on mental health. We need to be focusing on social structures and hierarchies in the school system. We need to be focusing on bullying. We need to be addressing the devastating fact that people are literally killing themselves and others simply because no one will talk to them. Addressing those issues is a sound, attainable, hopeful, and logical pursuit. It’s how Switzerland, with limited gun legislation, have had nearly no gun violence; they put an emphasis on mental health, not guns. They taught respect for their country’s gun-loving history, they relayed a sense of duty and power unto future generations and those future generations, armed with knowledge as well as guns, are now living in freedom. They addressed the real issue.

But it seems as though most of the teens behind the weapon ban movement, nationally led by Parkland survivor David Hogg, have no interest in that kind of logic. David Hogg was invited over the phone to the White House for an open dialogue with President Trump himself; David Hogg hung up on that phone call. His actions, and the broader movement he is leading, are immature, reckless, and compulsory.

But that’s what we teens are: immature, reckless, and compulsory. We need to stop ignoring the facts on guns and realize that the real issue is right under our noses. We need to realize that banning guns will have no effect on our school shooting epidemic, and that massacres will continue to happen regardless of how much infringement we place on the Second Amendment.

Facts don’t lie: we shouldn’t restrict guns. Let’s restrict insane ideas instead.  

Creative Commons photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobili/40965029732/

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About the Writer
Shak Saidjanov, Editor

Shak is a senior at La Salle, where he played varsity football. In his free time Shak enjoys trout fishing and writing, as well as listening to a copious...

23 Comments

23 Responses to “Banning Guns Won’t Solve Our Problem — Here’s Why”

  1. Jessica Loboy on April 11th, 2018 5:48 pm

    This is a very, very well written article. I agree with your opinion completely and appreciate you writing this and speaking up for what you believe. Great work!

    [Reply]

  2. Ryan Dooris on April 11th, 2018 6:50 pm

    Shak, you always write incredible articles and this one is no exception. I appreciate the dense set of facts you provide to reinforce your opinion and the numerous counter points that surely silence any opposition. Your opinion is one that I’m afraid is being heard less and less in Portland and I applaud you for providing your insight. I look forward to seeing more articles like this in the future.

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  3. Carson Ogard on April 11th, 2018 7:03 pm

    Shak, thank you for writing this article and informing people about this topic. Talking about this subject can be very messy, yet you are very mature, logical, and true. I completely agree with your views. Again, thanks for writing.

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  4. Ashtin Gohman on April 11th, 2018 8:49 pm

    This article is extremely well written and holds a lot of valuable facts to back up your claims. I admire your willingness to speak your mind on such a controversial topic.

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  5. Sara Nasuta on April 11th, 2018 9:33 pm

    Thank you for writing this article! I loved how it was based on facts rather than opinion, unlike many things that are presented in the media today. It was very well written and I applaud you for writing this as these viewpoints are not often even listened to or considered in today’s society.

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  6. Lauren on April 11th, 2018 9:53 pm

    I’m glad you decided to step up and say what nobody else wants to!! I totally agree with your article and believe it should be read by EVERYBODY. You wrote it very well and made sure that there were facts to back up everything you had to say. Thank you for writing this, it is very important.

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  7. Lexi on April 11th, 2018 10:28 pm

    This was a very courageous article to publish and it was a very well written, factual article. This is an interesting article to read in today’s day and age.

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  8. Elsa on April 11th, 2018 10:34 pm

    You are truly the best writer I know. Words flow so beautifully when you write them. I agree with your article 100%. Keep up the good work:)

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  9. Luca Blue Tidrick-Schmidt on April 11th, 2018 10:53 pm

    Love this, said the same sort of things to people shooting down (pun intended) any other opinion than the one they believe is right about gun control. So happy there is a article about this made in the falconer. I’m with it.

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  10. John Jensen on April 12th, 2018 9:23 am

    I think this is a great article because it addresses such a controversial topic in a fair, informed manor. Too often in our school and city, a pro-second amendment stance is villianized and slammed by people who want to over simplify a complex issue. Talking away fundamental rights baised on a fear baised dialect is extreamly dangerous, and has led to disaster throughout history. Calling for the ban of “assault rifles” does nothing to help our school shooting problem, but rather gridlocks the political theatre preventing any common sense, practical solutions from being discussed, let alone passed into law. I wish more people would look at the facts from a subjective viewpoint before jumping to uninformed, illogical conclusions. Thanks again for articulating this issues in such a thorough, strong manor.

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  11. Owen Tunstill on April 12th, 2018 11:04 am

    Although I disagree with your opinion, this is a very well written article. However, painting the NRA as a civil rights advocacy group is completely incorrect. It is an industry lobby group. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when they try to suppress the CDC on reaserching gun violence and convincing Americans that an AR-15 is a good gun for home defense is disgusting. It is a modified M4, the most common weapon in the US military, and is meant to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time. I agree in saying that banning all guns is bad, but why not ban Assult rifles? They are meant to kill as many people as possible. A shotgun is significantly better home defense gun that an AR-15, a hunting rifle is better for hunting, eliminating any actual need for assult rifles other than killing people. If you disagree with me, feel free to discuss with me. Thanks!

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    Matthew Werner Reply:

    Assault rifles are already illegal. By definition, an assault rifle is a weapon that can switch between fully-auto and semi-auto.

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    John Reply:

    Your definition of “Assault Rifle” as exclusively automatic firing is not correct, AFAIK. If you know of such a legal standard, please post the reference. I suspect you are thinking of the Federal laws that banned automatic weapons, but they do not use the term “assault rifle.” The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban included semi-automatic firearms.

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    ssaidjanov Reply:

    An assault weapon and an assault rifle are two very different guns. Assault rifles are illegal to manufacture or bring into the US, and it has already been decided by federal law that they are not protected by the Second Amendment. The Assault Weapon Ban was later repealed, having no consistent or quantifiable affect on gun violence in America.

    ssaidjanov Reply:

    “The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are often confused.

    According to Bruce Kobayashi and Joseph Olsen in the Stanford Law and Policy Review:
    “Prior to 1989, the term “assault weapon” did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of “assault rifles”.”

    (from the above source)

    ssaidjanov Reply:

    “In 1993 the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was introduced in Congress which would ban the sale of new assault weapons to U.S. civilians. Since “assault weapon” was a made-up term, it didn’t have a definition. Legislators had to come up with one. Since assault rifles were already banned, and a ban on all semi-automatic firearms wasn’t realistic, the AWB defined assault weapons as “semi-automatic firearms that share too many cosmetic features with their fully automatic counterparts”.”

    (more from the above source).

    ssaidjanov Reply:

    Owen, thank you for your response. Matthew is right: further production of assault rifles has been illegal since 1986. Now to buy an assault rifle, one would have to buy from a registered prior owner, which ranges from $15,000 to $40,000 in pricing:

    The assault rifles that are up for purchase are “any assault rifle that was in the US before May 18, 1986 that is registered with the federal government and owned by a licensed owner willing to sell theirs. The purchaser must first pass all of the federal requirements to qualify to become a licensed owner. Such weapons are so rare, old (at least 31 years old), and expensive that they are strictly luxury collectible items for the very wealthy.” – from Quora.

    And you’re right: the NRA is in fact an “industry lobbying group” and there is “nothing wrong with that.” But here’s why I believe that they are justified in their protection of the AR-15. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle; AR stands for Armalite, the brand behind the weapon. And you’re argument that the AR-15 is a variation of the M4 is incorrect: in fact, the M16 is a variation of the original AR, and the M4 is the successor of the M16. Basically, Armalite took their civilian rifle, the AR-10 and 15, and created a variation for military use. Today, the military will not and cannot use the AR-15. They are not effective on the battle field. If your argument that the AR-15 is a military gun disguised as civilian weapon was true, then truly all guns in the entire world are in some ways variants of a military weapon.

    Still, it is clear that the AR-15 is being used by maniacs and murderers for the sole purpose of killing many people. Thus, many advocate for a ban. But to ban the AR-15, a civilian rifle, you would have to ban all guns that have that same caliber. Sure, the common AR-15 we see on the news looks like an assault weapon; but there are hunting rifles that hold the same caliber and size as the AR-15. There are hunting rifle variants of the AR-15. In other words, if you ban the scary looking AR-15, you will have to ban the rest too. If you’re advocating for the banning of all of these variants and common AR-15 rifles, you’ve disagreed with your own point.

    Again, we need to focus on the real issue: our ignorance toward mental health.

    [Reply]

  12. Matthew Werner on April 12th, 2018 12:15 pm

    This is possibly one of the most well written, intelligent and all around amazing articles I have ever read. Somehow this article is able to portray my thoughts to a tee. Much praise Shak!

    [Reply]

  13. Max Havely on April 14th, 2018 5:05 pm

    What a well written and thoughtful article Shak! I share the same point of view and totally agree with your article. It was great to read this because of the factual evidence and to read your side. It is definitely harder to get this side of the argument heard nowadays, but you did a fantastic job of portraying your thoughts and backing them up with facts. I really admire your ability to write, and to share your point of view even if it is controversial. Great article Shak!

    [Reply]

  14. Connor Culhane on April 19th, 2018 7:01 pm

    I’m going to preface this by saying this: I don’t necessarily disagree with the conclusion drawn in the article(that gun control would not help mass shootings), but I don’t believe there is a very nuanced argument being made here. I’m going to be blunt, I think there is some incredible misrepresentation of statistics in this article..
    The preface of the article mentions mass shootings as the topic, but then it uses statistics drawn from overall gun-violence as support for the argument. Mass-shootings are an incredibly small sub-category within the broader problem of gun-violence. The average mass shooter is in no way representative of the average person who commits gun violence. Their motives are different, their demographics are different ETC. it is only reasonable to conclude then that data drawn to represent the problem of gun-violence as a whole is not at all representative over the problem of mass-shootings unless a link can be proven.

    So then why does the article utilize statistics quoting the overall homicide rate/gun-violence rate in an article supposedly about mass-shootings? These are inherently different factors, with different compounding variables.

    “Currently, it’s estimated that there are over 300,000,000 guns in the United States. Between 1993 and 2003, gun ownership increased by 56%; in that time, gun violence per capita decreased by nearly half.”

    Actually gun ownership has not risen by 56%, the number of guns in the country has. In fact the gun ownership rate has gone down somewhat since the mid 80s (source: http://gss.norc.org/Documents/reports/methodological-reports/MR123%20Gun%20Ownership.pdf) All this means is that relatively less people own guns, but the people who do, own more. I could argue that the correlation between the lowering gun ownership rate and the decrease in gun violence as evidence to gun violence being lowered by less people owning guns, but I won’t because that would televise a gross-misunderstanding of statistics. There are a hundred billion things(not literally) that affect something as complicated as gun-violence in a country as big and diverse as the United-States. Just because two statistics seem to correlate means there MIGHT be a relationship, but you cannot really derive what the relationship is. A simple conclusion that explains the correlation between total guns in the US and gun-violence is that as the U.S. Economy grows, technology advances, quality of life and education improves there are continually less people involved in gang culture and people have a higher percentage of their income to spend on their hobbies, such as firearms, but firearms as a whole have become slightly less popular of a hobby. The only thing we can say from this data is that there is/isn’t a correlation, and nothing else; it does not prove causation. At the end of the day none of this has anything to do with mass-shootings anyways as General Gun violence != the Mass Shooting rate

    “The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, yet ranks 28th in gun murders, and 31st in general gun violence; that’s less than 4 deaths per 100,000 people. Developed countries such as South Africa and Thailand are among those with much higher rates of national gun violence, even though Thailand has extremely strict gun laws and South Africa has banned private gun ownership altogether. “

    Again, there is some gross-misrepresentation of data going on here. First of all, there is some cherry-picking going on with Shak’s choices in examples. 1. These aren’t really representative at all of the united states. 2. Countries which are much more representative of the United States(like all of western europe) virtually all have a lower gun-violence rate and general violence rate. It’s a bit misleading to say “hey look we’re behind 31 other nations in gun violence, we’re doing pretty good!” when those 31 other nations are mostly 2nd or 3rd world nations and basically every other developed country is doing much better than we are. And again, there are a billion factors which determine a country’s gun violence rate. Thailand might have strict gun laws, are they effective? Are they enforced? What is the organized crime culture in thailand? The UK and Australia have also banned almost all gun ownership and have a much, much lower gun violence and general violence rate than the USA, but I don’t see those being mentioned in the article. the morale of the story is the same as before, trying to derive causal relationships from seemingly connected statistics from different countries is impossible. This doesn’t mean that the lack of or presence of guns has no effect.
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-u-s-gun-deaths-compare-to-other-countries/

    “Between 2013 and 2015, the six states in the US that banned the open carry of firearms (California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and New York) experienced higher rates of murder, especially police deaths. Out of 20,000 police chiefs and sheriffs surveyed by National Review, 86.4% support concealed carry, and all police, including those involved with response to mass shootings, are overwhelmingly against any further gun control.”

    First of all the article Shak uses as a “source” doesn’t actually sorce the information he is quoting, so I had a hard time evaluating the truth of it, i’m not sure how Shak managed to do it. After crawling around the internet for a while I managed to find some of the data of that’s mentioned in the article, and it is entirely misrepresented. First of all, California banned open carry in 1967, I don’t understand how one can come to the conclusion that because in the last two years the homicide rate has gone up somewhat it can be attributed to fifty year old legislation.( https://openjustice.doj.ca.gov/downloads/pdfs/hm16.pdf and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulford_Act ). Might I also add that the trend has gone up somewhat in the last two years, it trends massively downwards over the last 30/20/10 years. Over the last 2 years the rate of homicide has gone up .2 per 100k people but over the last 10 years has gone down 1 per 100k people. The same is true for florida, New York, DC, and South carolina as they banned opencarry a long time ago and have also undergone a similar reduction in homicide rate over the last 30/20/10 years. (http://archive.flsenate.gov/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0790/sec053.htm#0790.053). The district of Columbia and New York also has a downward trend in the homicide rate over the last 20 years while south carolina’s has remained relatively constant over the last 20 years. I couldn’t find homicide satistics for the other stats, but it doesn’t matter because they all banned conceal carry a long time ago, so you cannot attribute any new increase in the homicide rate to this legislation. Also illinois actually does have legal concealed carry with a permit. (http://www.sled.sc.gov/documents/CrimeReporting/SCCrimeBooks/2015%20Crime%20in%20South%20Carolina.pdf ) This statistic is complete bogus, it means nothing and is cherry-picked to the extreme. Here are three meta-studies(studies that compile data from many other studies), conducted by Harvard, Boston University and one authored by a professor at Columbia which all came to the similar conclusions. Harvard; “The available evidence is quite consistent. The few case control studies suggest that households with firearms are at a higher risk of homicide, particularly firearm homicide. International cross-sectional studies of high-income countries find that in countries with more firearms, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.”
    https://www.scribd.com/document/116869256/Firearm-availability-and-homicide-A-review-of-the-literature

    Boston University: “We found no robust, statistically significant correlation between gun ownership and stranger firearm homicide rates. However, we found a positive and significant association between gun ownership and nonstranger firearm homicide rates.” non-stranger homicide rate accounts for a vast majority of homicides by the way.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167105/

    The Columbia study was a meta-study covering the effectiveness of gun control legislation at reducing the homicide rate: “ 1) The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple elements of firearms regulations reduced firearm-related deaths in certain countries; 2) some specific restrictions on purchase, access, and use of firearms are associated with reductions in firearm deaths; 3) challenges in ecological design and the execution of studies limit the confidence in study findings and the conclusions that can be derived from them.” I don’t want to misrepresent this study as it states there were many ambiguities present after compiling this data. I’m including it for a couple of reason’s, first of all it shows that gun regulations can have a negative effect on the firearm homicide rate. 2) Again, this study echoes have I have been saying this whole comment; there are a billion and two things that affect something as complicated as the homicide rate/gun violence rate. Coming to a conclusion based on a correlation is nieve.

    https://academic.oup.com/epirev/article/38/1/140/2754868#50644490

    The statistics seem to show that there is a correlation between gun ownership by household and the homicide rate, that doesn’t mean there is a causal link. The data just doesn’t support Shak’s narrative however.

    “Out of 20,000 police chiefs and sheriffs surveyed by National Review, 86.4% support concealed carry, and all police, including those involved with response to mass shootings, are overwhelmingly against any further gun control.”

    Again there is some misrepresentation going on. First of all police are not a very representative of the average person. On average a police officer is White, male, middle aged, conservative ETC. If you asked 20000 people who average out to be: white, middle aged, male and conservatives would you get a very different response? I’m not sure, perhaps. Second of all, the question in the survey that the Article is referencing doesn’t really ask a question regarding gun control, the question was “Does your department support nationwide recognition of state issued concealed weapon permits”. At first glance it seems like it is, but in reality the question is posed in the context of a new federal law allowing nationwide concealed carry as long as you have a concealed carry permit in your home state. There are a multitude of reasons why a police officer might support this bill including being against gun regulations; however, you cannot derive from this data that the people who voted in this poll were against gun regulations.

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/38?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22concealed+carry+reciprocity+act%22%5D%7D

    https://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NACOP-surveyresults-2016.pdf

    “A common argument in favor of stricter gun legislation is the suggestion that although our founding fathers may have written the right to bear arms into the U.S. Constitution, they didn’t foresee school shootings or high caliber assault rifles and machine guns. That argument is factually inaccurate. Not only were the first modern machine guns being invented as early as 1718, but school shootings have always been a sorrowful reality in America, with records dating back as early as 1764.”

    And

    “Although I may not agree entirely with Crowder’s rhetoric in this video, he does prove a point: our founding fathers believed in the rights of citizens to bear arms, not simply for sheer pleasure, and not strictly for hunting; rather, with the Second Amendment they solidified our freedom to hold ourselves in self government for generations to come, knowing the responsibility, liberty, and power that came for gun ownership. If we ban or restrict guns now, we will be trashing that legacy and punishing future American””

    this is incredibly intellectually dishonest. You cannot possible argue that because machine guns existed ( in a form not even close to the weapons of today) that the founding fathers totally could have foreseen the problems we’re having 200 years later. Sometimes legislatures write legislation that they think is good, and it really turns out to be bad. For instance, prohibition or the articles of confederation. The founding fathers wanted slavery too, that doesn’t mean it should be legalt. The “school shooting” you referenced really isn’t a school shooting, it was an act of war in Pontiac’s war. Secondly, the natives who raided the school scalped the people inside and maybe shot one. There is an incredibly nuanced discussion to be had here over interpretations of the constitution, the role of the constitution, the intent of the constitution ETC, but pointing out that machine guns existed by-passes all of that and ignores the real discussion. Secondly, I fundamentally disagree over the notion that the intent of the founding fathers matters much. At the end of the day the document they created was intended to allowed for slavery. But we changed the constitution to get rid of slavery despite this intent, why? Because the intent of the framers no longer coincided with the society we wanted to live in. That, in my opinion, is the role of the constitution. To set up the society we want to live in. If we no longer want to live in a way that the framers wanted us to, we’re not bound to it. I know this is going to sound weird, but bare with me. Giving up a freedom, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. By definition, when living in a non-anarchistic society you are giving up some rights. The government has laws that you must follow, so you’re not free in wherever those laws infringe on your ability to do something. Unless you’re an anarchist, you willingly give up some of your inherent rights in order to live in a better society. If repealing the second amendment lead to a much better society, then I would probably be for it. I am personally not in favour of repealing the second amendment, but I disagree with your methodology in utilizing it.

    “Especially when these proposed bans would have absolutely no consequential effect on gun violence in America. In fact, we have already tried a ban on “assault weapons” during the Clinton presidency; after a Republican majority Congress failed to renew the ban in 2003, a later study by the University of Pennsylvania in a report for the Department of Justice proved the ban was completely ineffective, and any fall in gun violence in those years was due to other factors.”

    This is the most blatant example of misrepresentation so far. The article shak is quoting says this, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.” The study is saying this within the context of the data being discussed. If you actually read the study, here’s what it actually said in the whole section, “It is Premature to Make Definitive Assessments of the Ban’s Impact on Gun Crime • Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. However, the ban’s exemption of millions of pre-ban AWs and LCMs ensured that the effects of the law would occur only gradually. Those effects are still unfolding and may not be fully felt for several years into the future, particularly if foreign, pre-ban LCMs continue to be imported into the U.S. in large numbers.” The study is literally saying that it can’t really tell what affects the ban had due to the circumstance, timeframe and outside factors such as smuggling.

    Why did I write this response? Because I find articles, such as this, incredibly toxic to journalism as a whole. Misrepresentation cast over preconceived bias is all it is. Look at all of the other comments; without a lick of criticism they praise something for showing the “facts” because it’s something they already agree with. If you come across something you already agree with, your initial response should be skepism, not praise. It’s so, so easy to fall into an echochamber without even realizing it. Everyone who disagreed with this article at La Salle simply looked at the title and swiped it away while everyone who already agreed with it simply blindly took it as “Fact”. Here’s the kicker, I don’t even disagree with the premise of the article(that banning assault rifles won’t help mass shootings), but this article doesn’t really advance the discussion at all because its not actually based on any fully-represented fact. So we’re still at square one and haven’t really managed to have a legitimate, intellectually honest discussion about the issue yet. I want to write more, but I think picking apart all of the “facts” as not really being fact at all is enough.

    [Reply]

    Shak Saidjanov Reply:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    Firstly, I would like to address your statement that it is allowed in Illinois to conceal carry. It is not. Yes, by Illinois law it is technically legal, but by Attorney General opinion it isn’t permitted whatsoever. There are too many sources for this to cite here, so I encourage you to simply google “what states do not allow concealed carry” and make your way down the list of sources that back this fact.

    You took great offense to the paragraph “Between 2013 and 2015, the six … any further gun control”, calling it “entirely misrepresented”. You are entirely false. First, nowhere in that paragraph do I state that these six states outlawed concealed carry in 2013; I simply state that in states without concealed carry, between 2013 and 2015 they experienced higher rates of violence. According to your sources, violence has decreased in these states over time; my sources say that concealed carry has been, and will lead to, a 15% increase in crime rate over time (https://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Do_Handguns_Make_Us_Safer_John_edits_6_9_2017_stamped.pdf). Furthermore, you don’t need a source citation to conclude that an armed civilian is more apt to stopping crime, whether that be an active shooter or a robbery (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/good-samaritan-kills-active-shooter-texas-sports-bar-police-n755136).

    Which brings me to your citing of the Harvard study which states “The few case control studies suggest that households with firearms are at a higher risk of homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” This study was and is so misleading and “entirely misrepresented” that we actually discussed it in our government class. This study is a blatant example of causation versus correlation. Yes; there is a correlation between a household with guns and higher rates of crime. Of course there is. Families living in neighborhoods with higher crime rates are more likely to have a firearm in the house, and therefore houses with firearms are more likely to experience crime. The notion that because a household has a firearm they will suddenly become the victims of crime is absurd. It’s not the cause.

    Your Boston article has the same issue; in fact, they themselves state there’s an “association” not a cause. Your Columbia article discusses firearm “regulation” in multiple countries; this could mean many things, and does not address what regulations those countries already had in place.

    Your notion that my citing of gun violence statistics to support my stance on guns in relation to mass shootings is somehow misleading or incorrect, is itself incorrect for you to state. Mass shootings ARE gun violence. In fact, I cite that a majority of mass shootings are done with handguns; this is a fact, check it for yourself. “Mass shooting” is a term being used to specifically describe insane people preying on the innocent, and therefore perceived as separate from general gun violence, but consider: this year as of February, 297 people had died of gun violence in Chicago. Even if we consider mass shootings and general gun violence as separate, then gun violence is the bigger issue. If gun control can’t fix the mass shootings on our streets and inner cities, then how can we expect it to save victims of mass shootings in our schools? We can’t. This is why I cite gun violence statistics.

    But yes, you are right; there are a lot of different factors that go into gun violence, and that go into mass shootings, that have nothing to do with the amount of guns in the US. I 100% agree with you. That is my whole point, after all. We have to discuss the difference between a mass shooter and just a general gun wielding criminal; I 100% agree with you again. That is also part of my point.

    Next, you take issue with my stating of the fact that the US is 31 in gun violence per capita. I cite Thailand and South Africa, but you are right: the countries above us are mostly 2nd and 3rd world countries. We absolutely have a gun violence problem. I’m not saying we do not. Rather, I’m arguing that gun control will do nothing to change that. I cite statistics on Switzerland; they love guns even more than we do, it’s a vital part of their history. They have almost no gun legislation. Yet they have a significantly lower gun crime rate. They put an emphasis on mental health, which allows them to accomplish this. I’m sorry if you misunderstood this.

    You try to discredit the statistic of police officers against gun control. Your argument is that “White, male, middle aged, conservatives” who are not police officers would have similar opinions. I’m sure they would. But what seperates a police officer from a civilian is that one works against crime, and one does not. To have to face gun violence and still be against gun control, is significant to me.

    Now to what you claimed was my most “blatant example of misrepresentation so far.” I cited a study on the effects of the assault weapon ban. You say that it cannot be used as a viable source because it is unfinished, that they could not draw a conclusion and that further study is needed. I disagree. I can, and I did in good conscience, use this as a source because it was a published study by a reliable firm. And I didn’t grab it off some far-right conservative blog; I was introduced to it in the New York Times article I cite in this piece. If you have an issue with this source being used to back an opinion, I suggest you take it up with the Times’ editorial board.

    Which brings me to my final counter argument: the notion that the founding fathers would not agree with this. You called it “incredibly intellectually dishonest”. I’m not sure how an opinion can be dishonest, but I’ll go with it. The articles of confederation were doomed to fail from the beginning, and they did and we wrote the constitution. Prohibition wasn’t written into the constitution by our founding fathers, it was an amendment that was later repealed. Slavery was not exclusively written into the constitution. But gun ownership was. It’s my opinion that the founding fathers, seeing how quickly guns were evolving, knew they would evolve further. That is my opinion, of which I am allowed to have.

    I take great offense to your notion that my piece is toxic to journalism. If I felt I was purposefully misleading people, I wouldn’t have placed my sources right there in the piece for anyone to click on. And I do in fact believe the conversation is being forwarded by my piece; I mean look what we’re doing right now.

    [Reply]

    Connor Culhane Reply:

    It is indeed legal to conceal carry in illinois state and I could find no proof of your claim that it is illegal to conceal carry in illinois(https://www.isba.org/ibj/2013/12/thenewillinoisconcealedcarrylaw). Illinois is also a “shall-issue” state which means that “the Department must issue a license to an applicant who meets the requirements.”. I also did as you asked and googled “is conceal carry legal in illinois” and the first response agrees with me(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States). While it was legalised in 2013, most people were not able to receive a permit for 8-9 months afterwards, regardless it is legal.

    On to my bit about the “2013-2015” quote. So the reason why I brought up the fact that none of these states banned guns in 2013 is because it matters, a lot. One of the whole points of my original response was to get the idea across that 1. Statistics are really, really, really hard to interpret correctly. Now I thought my reasoning behind bringing up the fact that these states had not banned the guns in 2013, or at any recent point, was explicit; however, I will elaborate. So when you want to understand the effect B has on A, you set up an experiment. You explicitly look at A without B and another, separate A that is being affected by B. This way you can look at the result of both trials and compare the differences. This is the basis of research, but there are a lot of problems when trying to apply this principle in the real world because you can never single out B alone. You can almost never set up a situation where B, and only B, is the thing affecting A in both trials. In the real world there is always going to be an outside factor, C, affecting your results. So you can never be sure whether your results were due to C,B or any other unknown factor. With that out of the way, there are two logical inconsistencies in using the data you chose to use to support your argument. First of all you have no idea what caused the increase in the higher rates of violence because the conceal carry bans were enacted a long time ago. To actually understand how the bans affected the rate violence, you would have to look at the trends in violence from BEFORE, the ban to, after, the ban. But in reality this doesn’t really work either because, like I said many times, there are a billion outside factors which affect something as complicated as the general violence rate. Secondly, There is no way that you can utilize such an insanely specific statistic of “6 states from the years 2013-2015” as evidence for anything. Statistics Are meaningless without context, sure the rate of violence may be going up in california, but what if the national rate violence is increasing at a much quicker rate than california’s is? Well then California is doing much better than the average state, even though the rate of violence is increasing. So when you take such an insanely specific statistic, such as you did, it’s impossible to take anything meaningful away from it. So when you use such an insanely specific statistic without providing any context for it, you’re not presenting the evidence honestly. This Is why I said you misrepresented the statistics. Based on your usage of them you’d think they support your argument, but in reality they don’t at all because of the greater overall context of the decreasing rate of violence, and through the fact that you can’t really derive the effects of a conceal carry ban has on gun violence without using it as a remedy and studying its effects.

    So when it comes do the stanford study, you realize that it actually argues against you?: “ The extensive array of panel data and synthetic controls estimates of the impact of RTC laws that we present uniformly undermine the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis. There is not even the slightest hint in the data that RTC laws reduce violent crime” just because one factor increases the amount of crime doesn’t mean that the overall trend will increase, it just means that that factors contributes a netpositive(more violence) to the equation.

    “Furthermore, you don’t need a source citation to conclude that an armed civilian is more apt to stopping crime, whether that be an active shooter or a robbery” yeah, and I don’t disagree. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that if more people own guns, less violence will occur. Sure, maybe more armed robbers are stopped, but what if the result of having more guns means there are now more successful suicides and more accidental firearm deaths. So maybe having more guns leads to more death. Neither of us knows if we’re correct here in this regard. So to try to argue against gun control using this argument seems a little naive as neither of us can be sure one way or the other without statistical evidence supporting our opinions.

    On to the harvard/Boston study: So your point about correlation vs causation is exactly the point I have been making the whole time. I never argued that the harvard study provided evidence in support of the idea that more guns = more crime. I just used it to show what the actual facts are instead of the cherry picked ones you provided. It is fact that where there are more guns, there is more crime. You cannot contest this. I never made a claim about this data like you did. The study also never made a claim about the cause of this data, all it shows is that there is a correlation, and that’s all I said. The rest of my response was about how statistics are really hard to interpret and why your interpretations of them are not necessarily true. After saying that, I love how you instantly go on and try to interpret the study “ Yes; there is a correlation between a household with guns and higher rates of crime. Of course there is. Families living in neighborhoods with higher crime rates are more likely to have a firearm in the house, and therefore houses with firearms are more likely to experience crime. The notion that because a household has a firearm they will suddenly become the victims of crime is absurd. It’s not the cause.” But you don’t necessarily know any of this, your interpretations of the data are as good as mine, neither of ares not backed by anything empirical. Sure the statistic could be caused by families living in more violent places but it could also be caused by some/ any number of other factors such as the idea that guns allow for easier violence leading to violence being committed by people who normally wouldn’t do it.

    “Your Boston article has the same issue; in fact, they themselves state there’s an “association” not a cause. Your Columbia article discusses firearm “regulation” in multiple countries; this could mean many things, and does not address what regulations those countries already had in place.” Again, I never made an argument using this correlative data data, but you did using cherry picked data of Thailand and south Africa and switzerland. I provided this evidence to show how your use of statistics was out of context and misrepresentative.

    Yeah mass shootings are gun violence, but you never addressed my justification in my original response for treating them as separate. So gun violence is a very broad definition, it includes gang violence, to suicide, to premeditated murders. You cannot, possible, argue that all of these subcategories with the broader category of gun-violence would be equally affected by outside factors, such as gun legislation. They just won’t, the idea that they would is poposterouse as the average gang member comes from a wholly different background and has inherently different motivations to the average school shooter. Because of this, just because X has an affect on gun-violence, that doesn’t mean that X has an effect on mass-shootings. If gun legislation makes it harder for the average person to get a gun,and let’s say this makes it harder for people to commit second degree murder as people attempting it on average have access to a less deadly weapon. But let’s say this legislation has very little effect on prospective mass shooters as they don’t carry about following the law. Then this legislation would cause a decrease in the overall gun-violence rate with absolutely no effect on mass shootings. See how different sub-categories can be affected separately even though they are all considered “gun-violence”?

    “297 people had died of gun violence in Chicago. Even if we consider mass shootings and general gun violence as separate, then gun violence is the bigger issue. If gun control can’t fix the mass shootings on our streets and inner cities, then how can we expect it to save victims of mass shootings in our schools? “ Firstly I never once made the argument that gun control would prevent school shootings. Second of all you’re making a pretty big claim here with little evidence to back it up. You basically claim that because Chicago has a lot of gun control and a lot of violence gun control doesn’t work. You’re ignoring everything I said, and you say in the next paragraph, about statistics. Sure lots of people died last year in chicago, that statistic alone is meaningless without context. What is the trend of gun-violence in chicago? Is there any identifiable change in state laws, the economy, drug culture ETC that would lead to to more violence? Just because Chicago has strict gun laws does not mean that the laws don’t have a positive effect on the gun violence. Looking at this statistic on its own TELLS US NOTHING.

    “ I cite Thailand and South Africa, but you are right: the countries above us are mostly 2nd and 3rd world countries. We absolutely have a gun violence problem. I’m not saying we do not. Rather, I’m arguing that gun control will do nothing to change that. I cite statistics on Switzerland; they love guns even more than we do, it’s a vital part of their history. They have almost no gun legislation. Yet they have a significantly lower gun crime rate. They put an emphasis on mental health, which allows them to accomplish this. I’m sorry if you misunderstood this” So what was my whole point in providing the columbia meta-study that we looked at above which showed a correlation between. To show the thing, that that “some specific restrictions on purchase, access, and use of firearms are associated with reductions in firearm deaths”. (BTW you claimed this study doesn’t source what it looked at: it definitely does https://academic.oup.com/epirev/article/38/1/140/2754868#50644406) This study shows when looking at western countries there is a correlation between some specific gun-control legislation and less firearm-death. You waved my usage of the article for it being non-specific. But why does switzerland, a country of 8 million, a single datapoint, outweigh my peer-reviewed META-study which shows a correlation against what you’re arguing. If you want to discredit my usage of comparing different countries to each other to see the trend in legislation, then why does your single data-point of switzerland hold any water at all? Switzerland is just one example, my study looks at many and cross compares them. Like I have said a billion times, there are a billion things which affect something as complicated as gun-violence. Just because switzerland has few gun laws and apparently doesn’t mean that’s why their violence is relatively low or that gun legislation has no effect anywhere.

    “You try to discredit the statistic of police officers against gun control. Your argument is that “White, male, middle aged, conservatives” who are not police officers would have similar opinions. I’m sure they would. But what seperates a police officer from a civilian is that one works against crime, and one does not. To have to face gun violence and still be against gun control, is significant to me” sure, that is reasonable, But I personally think looking at empirical data is always going to be much more accurate than choosing to believe something because other people do.

    “ You say that it cannot be used as a viable source because it is unfinished, “ no I say it cannot be used as a source because it literally says in the conclusion it says the the data is ambiguous and doesn’t necessarily mean that the law itself was ineffective: “It is Premature to Make Definitive Assessments of the Ban’s Impact on Gun Crime • Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. However, the ban’s exemption of millions of pre-ban AWs and LCMs ensured that the effects of the law would occur only gradually. Those effects are still unfolding and may not be fully felt for several years into the future, particularly if foreign, pre-ban LCMs continue to be imported into the U.S. in large numbers.” I don’t have a problem with the study, I have a problem with your usage of it and misquoting the conclusion of it.”

    Intellectual dishonesty means : “Intellectual dishonesty is a failure to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion”

    “Prohibition wasn’t written into the constitution by our founding fathers, it was an amendment that was later repealed. Slavery was not exclusively written into the constitution. But gun ownership was” Actually gun ownership was not, the bill of rights was amended into the constitution four years after the ratification of the constitution. And slavery was in the actual initial constitution while gun rights were not. It was Constitutionally mandated that fugitive slaves be returned to their owners.”

    “it’s my opinion that the founding fathers, seeing how quickly guns were evolving, knew they would evolve further. That is my opinion, of which I am allowed to have.” Sure, you can, but I fundamentally disagree with it. Just because the founding fathers liked guns doesn’t mean they could have foreseen all the issues we have today surrounding them. The founding fathers were also fans of slavery, doesn’t make it any more defensible.

    I apologise for calling your piece “toxic to journalism” I realized after posting my response that i definitely should not have said that. I applaud your efforts to write about something you believe strongly about; Discussion is always better than none.

    [Reply]

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