“Good” Guys With Guns

Big hat tip to Kay at Balloon Juice, for “Good guys and bad guys and real life.” She links to an NPR program that points out the fallacy behind “stand your ground” laws.

Hoekstra recently decided to analyze national crime statistics to see what happens in states that pass stand your ground laws. He found the laws are having a measurable effect on the homicide rate.

“Our study finds that, that homicides go up by 7 to 9 percent in states that pass the laws, relative to states that didn’t pass the laws over the same time period,” he says.

As to whether the laws reduce crime — by creating a deterrence for criminals — he says, “we find no evidence of any deterrence effect over that same time period.”

Hoekstra obtained this result by comparing the homicide rate in states before and after they passed the laws. He also compared states with the laws to states without the laws.

Still, based on the available data, it appears that crafters of these laws sought to give good guys more latitude to defend themselves against bad guys. But what Hoekstra’s data suggest is that in real-life conflicts, both sides think of the other guy as the bad guy. Both believe the law gives them the right to shoot.

In a separate analysis of death certificates before and after stand your ground laws were passed in different states, economists at Georgia State University also found that states that passed the laws ended up with a higher homicide rate.

That study also tracked the increased homicides by race. In contrast to the narrative established by the Trayvon Martin shooting — many people believe black men are more likely to be the victims of stand your ground laws — this analysis found the additional deaths caused by the laws were largely concentrated among white men.

“The imperfect but growing evidence seems to suggest that the consequences of adopting stand your ground laws are pernicious, in that they may lead to a greater number of homicides — thus going against the notion that they are serving some sort of protective function for society,” he says.

The part about the additional deaths being mostly of white men makes sense, since the redneck yahoos who think a trip to Home Depot requires carrying a concealed weapon mostly stay in the company of other redneck yahoos. Hmmm …

See also “More Guns = More Killing” by Elisabeth Rosenthal:

I recently visited some Latin American countries that mesh with the N.R.A.’s vision of the promised land, where guards with guns grace every office lobby, storefront, A.T.M., restaurant and gas station. It has not made those countries safer or saner.

Despite the ubiquitous presence of “good guys” with guns, countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Venezuela have some of the highest homicide rates in the world.

“A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down,” said Rebecca Peters, former director of the International Action Network on Small Arms. “It’s shocking to hear anyone in the United States considering a solution that would make it seem more like Colombia.”

As guns proliferate, legally and illegally, innocent people often seem more terrorized than protected.

The gun nuts say they have to have unfettered freedom to carry all kinds of firearms in order to be able to fight against tyranny. Liam Maddon, an Iraq War vet, wrote,

The Second Amendment stopped giving the insurrectionists among us a chance as soon as military technology advanced beyond the rifle. No modern Shays’ Rebellion is viable, militarily speaking, unless the Second Amendment is read to protect an individual’s right to bear surface-to-air missiles, personally owned Abrams tanks and state-sanctioned depleted uranium artillery. Who in their right mind would want to live in a place that gave access to these things to any person, no matter how law abiding or responsible?

Even if you would prefer that much more dangerous world, it doesn’t exist, thankfully. Because no group of armed citizens is on par with U.S. military power, the “guns guard our freedom” argument is hollow and insane. The “guns guard our freedom” perspective is the bedrock of the anti–gun control movement, and until we speak to it with respect and honesty, we will not sway the disenchanted and angry among us who feel the pain of the mothers in Newtown but fear, rightly or wrongly, the Orwellian implications of disarming. Frankly, arguments to anyone else is preaching to the choir.

The terrible irony is that the real power to be feared doesn’t come from guns; it comes from money. Steve M points out that

The gun lobby is part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. The NRA has long been in bed with the pro-plutocrat lobbyists of ALEC. I’m not sure there’s a conscious strategy at work here, but is it really surprising that plutocracy advocates want to hollow out America’s middle class and create a class structure more like those in Latin America (where U.S. corporations have traditionally found cheap, willing workers), while their pro-gun allies want us seeing one another as (literally) mortal enemies, while we lose focus on what the plutocrats are doing to us economically?

Is it unreasonable to see these as two aspects of the Third World-ization of America?

It is not at all unreasonable, I say.

21 thoughts on ““Good” Guys With Guns

  1. Naw, you mean to tell me when murder is legal, more murders happen? That’s like science or math or something evil like that isn’t it? Logic isn’t the strong suit of the NRA’S target audience. They are more the praise the Lord and pass the ammo kinda crowd.

    As for the good guys vs. bad guys it turns out whom ever is dead is the “bad guy” by proxy and the way I see it a lot of gansta murdering thugs are gonna use this in their legal defense in a war between gangs. Equal protection right? So if your rival gang gets close off them and claim stand your ground, no more doing time for killing your enemies and more room in jail for some 70 yr old grandma they caught smoking a joint! We are not ganstas but even we know if one side see’s the other it is a real threat , it goes far beyond “could be”..the bad guys should be using this to walk.

    And in other “good guy/ bad guy ” news.. I actually had a pro- gun person who is in support of putting armed guards in every school and arming every teacher defending a “shoot out” between school employees and a would be crazed gunperson where children were in the middle caught in the cross fire by telling me he would feel better as a parent if it were one of his children , to know the bullet that killed him/ her came from the gun of one of the “good guys”.It struck me that he lives in a world where he is afraid himself to go out un armed in a world he makes his kids go out in everyday defenseless( a fraction of his size, unarmed , and never took a survival quiz in guns and ammo)- talk about self preservation.

    And here is a question for the NRA..Why is “full body armor for kids required school gear” the solution to the problem instead of more guns? Seems we already have access to all the guns it takes to gun down entire class rooms. But if we are going to send in our teachers prepared and a guard prepared why not kids? And if you are a parent are you not guilty of neglect if you send your kid out un prepared to deal with the world you created?(did you ever fight to stop this before little children died? If those kids were 10 yrs older would it have just been blown off like columbine?) I mean for” back to school” whatever part of your kid you don’t cover in Kevlar you are saying you don’t really care if they have a hand or a foot shot off. No Kevlar shoes? Pat the little tike on the behind and tell em ” yeah— good luck with that”- then strap on that big ass gun and chalk it all up to the price we pay.

    And I have been giving strong consideration to the comments about the mental health issue and I am in agreement that we need to do a better job of id’ing those with serious mental illness and making sure they don’t have access to weapons and they are in and responding to whatever treatment they require. That will not solve our issue, we still need to do it but thats not enough.

    The problem is still going to happen. Perhaps billy bob is a responsible gun owner. A responsible parent. A good husband and a hard worker. Either one day he just snaps or he has always been very very ill but was a “functioning” very ill person and was able to mask it..till one day. Like Suicide- most of the time who knows what triggers it? Life has it’s up’s and some times decades of downs but most of us don’t head out to the barn with jumper cables…trust me, I have been to the funeral- some do. Mental health is a fine line. I believe someone fine yesterday, fine all of their lives is still going to snap on a regular basis. Even if we locate all the current possible threats and contain them, reality and lack of the ability to cope with it creates 1000’s of new ones.

    I listened to one of the Moms sometime back on the radio saying she had no idea there was even a problem with her son. Suppose she wasn’t / isn’t in denial and she honestly had no clue? I also heard ( as well as had already read it) the letter written” I am Adam Lanza’s mom” speaking about her own son and her in- ability , despite her best efforts, to get help for him. She gets it and can’t fix it. Maybe she has no guns but her neighbors do.

    We can’t outlaw mental illness- hell we would all be locked up- who would be left to enforce the law? We already do commit people seen as a threat to themselves and / or others . but I still believe one could predict the powerball numbers will more ease than finding the next ill person before they snap. This shooter, he was ill but he snapped that day and took ill to a whole different level. We can’t put every potential person who may do this away but we can change the gun laws.

    Everyone keeps saying the parents should have kept the guns out of the hands of these mass shooters and thats true, but it is small picture. WE should have kept guns out of the hands of these killers. WE are the parents. It takes a village.It is on us all to take that responsibility not just individuals.No one seems to be ready to hear that yet. So you tell me, what is the magic number of kids we will accept gunned down before anyone hears it? Does anyone even know the number of children under 18 killed by guns in this country last year?

    Notice no one has the balls to be standing up to the NRA now? 20 kids gunned down and still no one could grow a set or even borrow one?The NRA holds a press conference and no other side holds one after for the media to cover? Crickets. If a collation of moms, women came together they would become the most feared group on the planet. No lie. Where are they? I am confused, do we still even like kids in this country?

    A mentally ill person is not much of a threat

    A empty gun is harmless

    Add bullets and people die

  2. I believe it was about 2 years ago when a couple in central Florida lost their toddler son when their pet python got out of the cage in the middle of the night. The immediate result was Jailing the parents and a state wide crack down on exotic pets, especially pythons, several species of pythons don’t get large enough to eat children, but that didn’t concern the outraged public.There was no big stink made about python owner’s rights.
    I suppose more people own guns than pythons, and pythons certainly trigger a primal fear in many people.I can imagine what would have been done if 26 people had died from snake related incidents in one Florida town in one day. The result would not be more snakes for everyone, and people suggesting snakes were just doing their snake thing, and they had a right to keep dangerous / invasive exotics in their homes would be looked upon as nuts.
    In a conversation last week with several of my co-workers, I was informed that outlawing assault weapons and high capacity clips would not do any good.It would impinge upon their 2nd amendment rights, and the bad guys would STILL get them.The boys said what is needed is to get weapons away from the “crazies”.I asked them to define crazy.
    I’m pretty certain that if Adam Lanza’s mom had an RPG launcher lying around the house, he would have used it, with even deadlier results.Luckily, its against the law to own one.

  3. Gun rights discussions are mainly about free-dumb, from what I have heard. The times have changed, and we don’t have a militia anymore. Hank Williams Junior seems to ilustrate the level of sophistication in the thinking of the NRA’s sheeporters. There seems to be a back-brain paranoia underlying much of the gun rights talk. As if there were going to be an armed revolution in this country. They did not shoot any banksters, who have been the biggest threat I’ve seen to this nation. Some of them are probably waiting to have what Zandar would call a “black-blackity-black-black” bankster exposed so they’ll know theyre getting a twofer with their expensive ammo. There is nothing I can imagine that would draw out anything more than some few wanna-be-but-didn’t-enlist survivalist types to do any shooting. It is all about a self-image of courage and protecting the “homeland”, a word Dumbya dropped on us that made me think of the “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” number in Cabaret.

  4. Let me go out on a limb and suggest that, in spite of the data, there will still be some states, mostly in the South, with SYG laws on the books 5 years from now. Corrupt politicians know who owns them– and it’s NOT the citizenry.

  5. “…stand your ground laws are pernicious, in that they may lead to a greater number of homicides…”
    But, of course, this is a deduction, based on statistics using empircal evidence and math.
    Nowaday’s, you’d probably find more Conservatives who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Socialism, than believe in any of the above.
    And how many of these “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) deaths, are the result of an argument between two neighboring (white) men, over a borrowed drill, or whose dog’s poop that is in whose yard? Or, one of the Mrs’s words or actions, seem to indicate a flirtation, maybe even – GASP! – the coveting of your neighbor’s wife’s ass?

    It’s against my nature, but let me look at the glass as not completely empty.
    Rome wasn’t built in a day, so maybe a baby-step or two in the right direction, might at least start saving some lives.
    Maybe if we start with SYG, and work from there, to the size of the clips, maybe some progress can be made.
    I see some hope in that stastic, where, most of these “SYG” killings, were white men killing other white men.
    If it was mostly black men or boys being shot, I wouldn’t see much hope.

    But, maybe if we can keep showing this stat to the armed Bubba’s in this country, then something might finally penetrate their thick craniums, that most of these SYG deaths were some neighbor’s shot 25 times, and not white guys who expertly picked-off 25 members, one bullet each, of a ‘Joint Crips & Bloods Touring Baseball Team,’ on a home invasion spree, maybe we can go back to the old laws. The laws which basically did allow someone to shoot back at an invader in your home – only with some real consequences if evidence showed that it wasn’t reallly self-defense, and/or a home invasion, or, claiming that terminating with extreme prejudice, the guy who cut in line at WalMart for the latest cellphone, or for your favorite BBQ joint on a busy Saturday night, was a case of “Standing Your Ground” – and not what it is today, the “Get Out Of Jail Free” card for murder/manslaughter, that SYG has become.

    justme, and erinyes,
    GREAT comments!

  6. Great comments on an interesting post, everyone.

    When people talk about “keeping the guns away from crazy people” I wonder how they would handle the level of surveillance and intrusion necessary to bring that about. As has been mentioned. Mental instability is often episodic, as “justme” noted, people “snap” often they were functional as passed as functional. The next thing you know they’re on all the news channels.

    Sometimes, there is a warning. My neighbor in Tampa carpooled with a surly guy that he didn’t know much about. He wound up killing some family members and two policemen. It all ended in a standoff and suicide. But, of all the people who got a bad vibe from the guy, no one knew quite what to do. The policemen he killed made the mistake of trusting him and he was good at putting on a front.

    The other problem is that so many people seem half way around the bend, ready for something to crank the anger and fear up a notch and take them all the way to Crazytown. A lot of these people are convinced of every lunatic conspiracy theory available. They are the people who really shouldn’t own gun, but they’re the ones most likely to have a hefty arsenal.

    We’re in a big mess and even with the best of luck and effort, it will take a long time to dig our way out.

  7. Why is it, Swami, that I suspect that there’s a chance there in FL, that either a jury, or judge, will find that this stupid peckerwood was just ‘Standing His Ground,” when he got out of his car, and stalked and shot this swarthy, non-white feller, because he had the audacity to be with a white woman, in The Year of Probably Not-His Lord, 2013?

  8. Thanks for the link, Swami.
    I have a friend that I’ve known since I was in the Boy Scouts who looks middle eastern (his dad was born in Iraq).My friend came to my rescue once when I almost lost my house because a General Contractor I was “subbing” from went bankrupt, then again when I needed a lawyer during an estate problem and couldn’t afford one. Since 9/11, I’ve been worried that some idiot might attack him.Thankfully, he has not been bothered.

    Here in Kissimmee, we have a fairly large population from Trinidad of east Indian descent, some Muslim.Hindu, and Christian.We also have 3 Mosques and a Sikh Temple.
    I do worry that some yahoo might do something stupid.
    I make that “pilgrimage” to Home Depot at least twice a week; most of the patrons where I shop are hispanics and older farts like me;I do have to pass a gun shop on the way. The gun shop is where the really “colorful” folks hang out.I went in once about 4 years ago to check it out, that was enough for me.

  9. I remember once when the NRA was fond of pointing out that if you used a gun in self defense, even in the cleanest of uses, you could expect to spend a great deal of money proving your innocence, but urged you to remember that it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6 – if you *do* end up in front of a jury, at least you’re still alive, right?

    That was a respectable notion, and it laid out how a society should work. Yes, the US said you could carry a gun to protect yourself, but the laws protect *everyone* and you’d better not forget that, and if you’re not willing to risk a trial (and a possible guilty verdict – even if you were in the right, juries make mistakes), then you shouldn’t draw the gun – and maybe should leave it at home.

    That also set up a rational decision making process. “If I’m really in danger for my life, then I should protect my life – even if it means going to jail. On the other hand, if I’m just over-reacting to a spot of nervousness, do I really want to risk jail – plus the humongous legal costs of avoiding jail?”

    The support of “stand your ground” laws completely erases that.

  10. Naw, you mean to tell me when murder is legal, more murders happen?

    And look what they call the stupid laws. “Stand your ground” makes it sound like homicide is not just legal, but mandatory.

  11. SYG is pure stupidity. A responsible gun-owner or martial arts master knows the obligation that goes with the ability to commit mayhem. The difference between martial arts and concealed-carry is the years of discipline that goes into mastery of Karate, Savate or any number of killing skills. The delay involved in acquiring mastery in the martial arts tends to instill an appreciation for the power and a reticence to use force when other options are available.

    Buy a 9mm for $200 and then an extra $100 for the permit and you are a mobile killing machine – a superhero waiting for the chance to be immortal. I have mentioned my brother who is a marksman, has a concealed-carry permit and a proper attitude about the extra responsibility – burden – obligation that comes with the steel. He has spent years of time and thousands of dollars cultivating his skill.

    IMO, gun ownership is a right. But that right can legally be linked to a level of proficiency consistent with use. So a small caliber weapon with a small clip and no concealed-carry permit would require the lowest level of training – and as the use escalates, so does the licensing and training. The other component which does not infringe on the 2nd, IMO, is linking the transfer of ownership (sales of new and used guns and gun components like clips) to a background check – which would also be tied to the required training and licensing.

  12. I wrote the following fable concerning the illusion of “good guys”:

    “Not Me”

    Once upon a time two mighty nations laid waste to the land in pursuit of wealth. The forests fell, and Gaia cried out, “Who will rid me of these pests?”

    The Devil said, “At your service, milady.” So the Devil visited the King of the Trogs, and he whispered, “I do not exist here, in you; but I do exist over there, in them.” Then the Devil visited the Elf Mage, and he whispered the exact same thing.

    A mere millennium later, the forests grew tall, but not one single Trog or Elf remained.

    Moral: It’s always the other guy’s fault.

  13. goatherd…I remember that incident you mentioned above..The guy’s last name was Carr and he killed three policemen ( 2 Tampa detectives and 1 Florida State Trooper) and his girlfriends young son. He shot the kid point blank in the face with a Chinese SKS assault rifle initially claiming that the gun went off accidentally, but it was later found out that he shot the kid to punish his girlfriend for her disobedience or just to keep her in line.

    A sick dude..I’m sure if the Tea party was in existence when he was still around..He’d be a card carrying member..just refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots.

  14. Yes, Swami, that’s the guy. I had already moved from Tampa to NC, but I was trying to freshen up my bachelor pad for sale at the time.

    He was able to convince the policemen that he was heartbroken over the accidental shooting. If he could fool two policemen, who had training and experience, I imagine he could fool those of us without either. It really was a tragic event, especially since the policemen were both young with families. I think the girlfriend wound up doing time because she didn’t advise the authorities that he had several guns, despite being a felon.

    We actually have slightly rate of gun violence per capita here in NC than Florida has, which is hard to believe, but, the numbers don’t lie.

  15. I remember that incident too, it was at the exit from I-75 to SR.60.
    I used to ride my dirt bike at Croom right near that exit.

  16. I wonder with all the loose gun law talk will I be able to conceal and carry my nine into the Capitol building, Supreme Court, FAUX news?

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