Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

If you're going to look elsewhere, that opens up a new can of worms about what to consider or ignore. Take gun laws. Wildly divergent in law. Widely divergent in practice. wildly divergent in results.

I agree that the debate often ignored existence proofs, but... It can be hard to take this a whole lot further.

The Aussie gun example is used mostly because the narrative fits. The Tassie shooting leading to a buyback. But, there are lots of counties with all sorts of policies and realities. Which to compare to? Details can matter, as can all sorts of context.




> Which to compare to?

Like any-friggin-one! You had to compare to bottom of the barrel to find a country that has the worse situation with guns than US.


I don't live in the US, but I'm skeptical.

There are a lot of places where civilian gun ownership causes problems, gun crime, etc. Some of the places where it does not cause big problems (eg Switzerland) have liberal gun laws and high ownership rates.

There are examples where widespread gun ownership/availability causes exactly the kinds of is "problems" that (according to some) the American founders intended it to cause. Basically, armed revolutions.

There are confusing examples where laws are liberal but ownership is rare. There are opposite examples.

I'm not saying ignore all this. If you want to learn about policy areas, you need to study examples. Just beware the anecdote, attributing cause and effect. Beware within heated political debates, they are known to cause insanity. There is rarely some objective fact that proves your argument, just a collection of facts that may, taken in context, convince you.

Back to drugs policy, Portugal had its own set of cultural norms, problems they were trying to solve, political considerations...

I think Mexico and some other big transit countries need to look at radical liberalisation options. Portugal is a good guide for some of their issues, but overall their situation is very different. They have nasty problems with the wholesale dealing, and the organized crime that goes with it. The street level crime and consumption is not their biggest problem, like Portugal.


Even Switzerland.

From wiki about gun laws there:

In 2016, the defence ministry estimated that 2 million privately owned guns are in circulation, which given a population of 8.3 million corresponds to a gun ownership rate of around 24 guns per 100 residents. This is roughly a quarter of the rate in the United States, and lower than that in the neighbouring countries of Germany, and Austria, but about the double of Italy and France.

Quarter of guns per person US has. If US taxed gun manufacturers an used that money to buy back 3/4 of guns off the market it would surely have bit less gun related problems.


Switzerland has a gun homicide rate of 0.50 per 100k population. The US rate is approximately 3.53 per 100k population.[0] So this begs the question, if the per capita gun ownership in Switzerland is 1/4th what it is in the US, why is gun homicide 1/7th? Are Americans just more homicidal than the Swiss?

Guns are certainly an issue but not the issue. If you cut American gun ownership by 75% you'd still have more per capita gun crime than Switzerland, why?

[0] Homicides, not all gun deaths. It's important to compare apples to apples.


You have to dig a little deeper. Swiss gun ownership is primarily guns owned by those in mandatory military service. The have guns, but most do not have ammunition with the guns. The majority of Swiss gun owners simply cannot shoot someone with their guns without first obtaining difficult to obtain ammunition.

Looking at the numbers alone is not enough. Just like looking at the US numbers alone doesn't really tell the real story. Guns are definitely part of the problem, but it's the rest of the culture and economic factors that tells the story of why the US numbers are so high.


Ammunition is not difficult to obtain in Switzerland. Essentially anyone who can legally possess a gun can buy it from a gun store.

Government-issued ammunition is difficult to take home, but there's plenty of commercial ammunition that will work in the government-issued rifles.


Maybe difficult was too strong of a word. There are plenty of barriers to obtaining both guns and ammunition, far more than in the US.


I don't know if it's fair to say that it's not the issue. Unless we have a crystal ball that will reveal the exact breakdown of causal factors, it certainly seems reasonable to address the big ticket items that we are aware of, and are reasonably sure will have a positive impact on the homicide rate. Let's not let perfect be the enemy of good when it comes to incremental social improvement.


> So this begs the question, if the per capita gun ownership in Switzerland is 1/4th what it is in the US, why is gun homicide 1/7th

Not every relationship has to be linear. Also there might be other factors. They might be easier to spot if you take away 3/4 of all guns in US.


What? The US has 96 out of 100 people owning guns? (24 X 4) I call bad math somewhere


Some people own multiple guns. This statistics just shows how many guns are in the country vs how many people live there not how many people are armed vs total.


> the American founders intended it to cause. Basically, armed revolutions.

So ... After all the history that passed since then, after all the civil wars and armed revolutions do we still believe they are good idea?

I guess US military thinks so after supporting so many in the middle east. Europe I think has different take on the subject.


That is certainly debatable. Americans seem used to the idea, but to the uninitiated the idea of building armed insurrection into the governing system seems pretty mad.


How is it mad? Government's are capable committing atrocities of unprecedented scale against their own citizenry. I wonder if the Russian Kulaks could have organized an armed resistance, or perhaps the Chinese peasants during Maosism.

Also, I recommend to you the fascinating history of the African-American tradition of arms in the US. Black's used firearms to defend their families and communities against KKK and white mobs.

"A good revolver is the best response to the slave catcher" - Fredrick Douglas


Both the Russians and Chinese had big civil wars in which the governments you mention eventually came into power. The question of armed resistance isn’t a hypothetical. It was tried and it failed.

The notion of gun rights as essential to defending against tyranny is inherently self-defeating. If all it takes to defeat gun owners is passing some laws making them illegal, won’t a tyrant do that before they start with other forms of oppression? If gun control works, tyrants will use it too. If it doesn’t then you don’t have to worry about it.


You are just ignoring things you don't want to see.

Russian peasants actually did stop the government from taking over in 1920. Lenin was forced to enact the NEP because their policies were literally collapsing.

There was no other plan behind the NEP, it was written within a 3 month period.

It took a massive effort and practically a civil war by Stalin to collectivize agriculture.

While the state was eventually successful in that case, it clearly shows that resistance is possible.

In many other countries in the middle east for example, the governments know that they can not implement many polices, so they don't even try.

It also depends on level, if you are 1 of 50 people who oppose the government, its not gone go well. However if there is widespread support then the cost of the government goes up hugly if citizens are armed.


Why didn't the USSR or these Middle Eastern countries just enact gun control first, then enact these other policies without resistance?


Because people don't follow the law when they don't think the government legal code is legit.


Meaning enacting gun control wouldn’t actually work? Why do gun advocates worry about it so much?


You keep regurgitating this line of reasoning like it's some sort of profound "gotcha" logical trap. We worry because we do not wish for things to escalate. And I can assure you, they will escalate, as armed separatism would be inevitable.


I keep regurgitating it because nobody addresses it.

If the reasoning was “don’t pass gun control, or you’ll have an armed insurrection” then that would make sense. But that’s never what gun advocates say. They always portray gun owners as somehow being simultaneously the final bulwark against a tyrannical government, and vulnerable to even mild gun control laws.


Hey, perhaps you have a mistaken impression - the existence of gun control advocates does not imply those who oppose them are "gun advocates". There do exist freedom and liberty advocates who would prefer to be law-abiding and do not appreciate gun control advocates constantly demanding and enacting a blizzard of laws expanding state authority to curtail freedom in the name of the public good. State authority is exercised with the implicit alternative of violence, so any proposed expansion of laws should be weighed accordingly. There exists historic precedent of a cause for action when a plethora of laws is enacted, each simple in object but collectively enabling state harassment of the law-abiding into giving up freedom to remain law-abiding. The success of such action to retain freedom in the face of state power is not guaranteed, so a reasonable free citizen will try to hedge in favor of retaining freedom without the need for armed insurrection.

A "mild" law will carry all that as an implicit potential consequence, so perhaps it should not be enacted, thus sparing us the possibility of having to deal with an lawfully empowered tyranny (tyranny is usually lawful, btw).


I don't care. I'm neither american nor interested in american gun culture. I'm just pointing out that it is simply false that citizens with guns can not have any impact.


That isn't what I said. I said that the notion of gun rights as essential to resisting tyranny is self defeating. Guns themselves may be useful in this respect, but gun rights cannot be.


Both the Russians and Chinese had big civil wars in which the governments you mention eventually came into power. The question of armed resistance isn’t a hypothetical. It was tried and it failed.

This has nothing to do with my point, or if it does, it certainly isn't clearly elucidated. As far as I'm aware, there is no strong history of armed resistance from either of the groups that I mentioned. And I'll leave you to the research the history of successful resistance movements, as there are many. I would start with the American Revolutionary War and then perhaps the importance of guns and armed resistance by blacks during Antebellum South and the Jim Crow period.

The notion of gun rights as essential to defending against tyranny is inherently self-defeating. If all it takes to defeat gun owners is passing some laws making them illegal, won’t a tyrant do that before they start with other forms of oppression?

Your argument is circular as it's based on a false premise. Yes, they may very well begin with outlawing guns. Which is why we have guns. If you try to take my gun by force, I will shoot you.

If all it takes to defeat gun owners is passing some laws making them illegal

This isn't what it takes. This would be the first formal step, but what it would take is for the State to pry them out of my hands, which would be met with resistance. Not just by me, but by the millions of gun-owners across the country - which is precisely why it won't happen.


Right, but why is there always such a fuss about gun control laws? Every time politicians propose some restriction, gun advocates talk about how this is dangerous because it will leave us unable to resist tyranny.


>Which is why we have guns. If you try to take my gun by force, I will shoot you.

So, just to be clear, if the government outlaws your guns, when they come for them, you're going out shooting?


Why is that the question? Gun control people always try to propose the hypothetical as a "voluntary buyback" rather than jackboots kicking doors down.


I don't know. Why don't you ask him why he said it?

>Yes, they may very well begin with outlawing guns. Which is why we have guns. If you try to take my gun by force, I will shoot you.

>This isn't what it takes. This would be the first formal step, but what it would take is for the State to pry them out of my hands, which would be met with resistance. Not just by me, but by the millions of gun-owners across the country - which is precisely why it won't happen.


Poster was asked what it would take for gun control to be effective as a precursor for tyranny. Poster responds with an answer which goes beyond the pale for what most civilized countries would consider. I asked why you were incredulous, and you responded that you were incredulous about an incredulous hypothetical. The part you quoted says it's untenable.


Oh, I misunderstood you. I was incredulous because most people would not admit that. I wonder if the poster has considered who would be coming to take away his guns. Most 2A advocates are thin-blue-line apologists.


That's a fairly recent development. Only about 20 years ago, the NRA was going on about "jack-booted thugs" and the gun enthusiasts in general were pretty skeptical of law enforcement.

It's been interesting, and more than a little disturbing, to watch it change. I'm not a big fan either way, but I much preferred them when their gun advocacy was part of a larger libertarian framework rather than a fascist one.


Yes, many of us do. The vast majority of US gun-owners are not criminals, and the social problems that gun ownership seems to correlate with can be argued, debated, and squared away with "other" strong correlations, so the debate is certainly not settled.

Both the American Revolutionary and Civil War have only hardened my position on the importance of gun ownership.

There is a fundamental ideological divide between us that drives these positions. You can call me a cook, crank, nutter, clinger, whatever you want, but the fact is this:

I simply don't trust the government and I believe in the right to arm and protect myself at any and all costs.


> I simply don't trust the government and I believe in the right to arm and protect myself at any and all costs.

But you are aware that your government has tanks, drones and vast selection of chemical weapons. Soon they'll have lethal drones small enough to make a person with gun just as harmless as a person without a gun.

People that want guns, I feel, think they are living with their minds in the future where they heroically oppose facist leaning government with their trusty guns. I feel they are in fact living in the glorious past when such thing was possible, not even in the present when goverment has all the power industry manufactured for military since the beginning of industrial revolution. Definitely not in the future when you'll be just labeled domestic terrorist and bombed, gassed, sniped from at least a mile or assasinated by a drone.

Guns today in context of opposing government are just imagination enhacers same way as D&D figurines, just less harmless.


All that technology, and yet a bunch of Vietnamese living in small villages and mud huts put up enough of a fight to create a permanent sore spot in US military history.

Also, those guys we've been trying to kill for the past 15 years in the middle east keep coming back fiercer than ever.

And who do you think operates all that fancy technology? Men who own guns and whose fathers owned guns before them. No, not all of them, but by and large. So I wouldn't be so sure that they would be on "your" side if push came to shove.


> All that technology, and yet a bunch of Vietnamese living in small villages and mud huts put up enough of a fight to create a permanent sore spot in US military history.

The table titled Belligerents on the page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War doesn't say "US gov" vs "mudhut villagers".

Do you expect Soviets to help you with your struggle with your oppressive US government?

Besides it was 40 years ago which is pretty much ancient time for military and anti-riot technology.

> Also, those guys we've been trying to kill for the past 15 years in the middle east keep coming back fiercer than ever.

So losses of 15000 isis soldiers for each US military soldier dead is for you "guys ... in the middle east coming back fiercer than ever"? You'd like to be of the loosing side of such conflict for whatever reason?

> And who do you think operates all that fancy technology? Men who own guns and whose fathers owned guns before them.

Not necessarily own, just operate. I don't think that soldiers have significantly higher gun ownership percentage than civilians. Also all of them have a strong opinion about obeying your superiors, kinda goes along with the job. I don't think they'll be sympathetic to bunch of civilians that don't obey their superiors.


The civil war?


The Civil War was, essentially, fought to preserve the institution of slavery. The period after the Civil War was marked by incredible violence against blacks by the KKK and racist whites and white mobs.

Blacks protected themselves, their families and their communities through armed resistance. They could finally "shoot back". In fact, some of the earliest gun control measures were taken up TO KEEP GUNS AWAY FROM BLACKS, so that they could not resist against the atrocities of slavery.

It isn't talked about because white liberal academic elites are so hostile to guns, but armed resistance and guns were a central part of the civil rights movement.

Recommended reading for you:

We Will Shoot Back - Umoja

Negros With Guns - Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., Truman Nelson

Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms - Johnson


> Some of the places where it does not cause big problems (eg Switzerland) have liberal gun laws and high ownership rates.

So you don't consider suicides to be a 'big problem', eh? https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/switzerland-s-troubling-record-...


Seems that Australia has a higher suicide rate than Switzerland. Didn't Australia ban guns?

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/who-findings_switzerland-report...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/09/27/australias-suici...


Not entirely, but they made owning them very tricky unless you're a farmer AFAICT. City dwellers can own handguns, but they must stay locked up at the gun club when not in use at the gun club.


Sorry. I never should have used guns as an example.

I don't know much about it, and it's hard to deal in "not a problem" terms when it comes to life and death.

I do think even this speaks to my point though, about looking at examples as fully fleshed out examples. There are all sorts of "gun problems." All sorts of "gun rules." All sorts of simple and complex relationships between those two things and a whole lot of other things.

The relationship between gun accessability and suicide is fairly straightforward. But both suicide and gun availability are related to a bunch of other things.

*I'm not talking about gun laws (don't live in the US, own guns or have a strong opinion), I'm talking about how we think of policies using examples.


It's frustrating to keep seeing people use the phrase "buyback" when they mean "confiscation". In the US, at any rate, a "buyback" is voluntary. For linguistic comparison, the taking of land by eminent domain includes compensation, but one certainly would not say the government "bought" the land.


In Australia it was voluntary.


"You may sell the thing that's about to become illegal for you to possess to the government for a price set by the government" stretches the definition of voluntary.


Classes of firearms were made illegal. Do you mean the newly illegal classes were grandfathered and those owned before the ban could be legally kept by their owners?


> Take gun laws. Wildly divergent in law. Widely divergent in practice. wildly divergent in results.

And then we get into the practicalities and the politics!

In order to have strict gun control you first need strict border control.

Yet the group that wants strict gun control is strongly opposed to strict border control.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: