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

> This does not follow.

If the ban didn't actually lessen the number of handguns, then we don't have the left hand side of the implication! These are two things:

ban on handguns -> less handguns

less handguns -> fewer deaths

Someone argued that the second is true, and you seem to refute it by saying the first isn't. So maybe you aren't talking about the same thing. I'm going to argue that the second thing isn't controversial. What's difficult and possibly controversial is whether item #1 is possible in Brazil, or the US (where guns are already common).

My take on it is this:

stricter laws + wait 2 or 3 generations -> fewer guns.

fewer guns -> fewer deaths.




Your implication fails in the real world in the same way that banning, demonizing, and siphoning drugs out of the country has failed. Yes, stricter laws, a buy-back policy and a generational shift will most definitely lower the current amount of guns in circulation in a given society. But just like with drugs, and sadly with a lot of gun-strict cities in the US, it has no bearing on the subsequent widening of the illegal gun pipeline. Not to mention the ever-present lack of a generational shift among current and potential illegal gun owners.

It's interesting to me that a lot progressive, popular armchair analysis of the issue advocates for strict gun laws, and at the same time advocates for loose drug laws. What are the inherent differences between both problems that most people use to reconcile the cognitive dissonance?


> it has no bearing on the subsequent widening of the illegal gun pipeline

All guns were legal at one point. Buy backs, fewer sales etc mean fewer legal and illegal guns in circulation (unless you see an increase in illegal smuggling and manufacturing - but obviously that's a problem you need to address first then). There will always be demand for weapons, legal or illegal. Just like with drugs. If you don't want people to buy illegal drugs or illegal guns, you only need to keep supply so low that prices are too high for most.

The problem for the US is that there are already so many guns, that effective legislation is problematic. For any legislation to be effective you'd first need to lower the amount of guns in society - because as you say otherwise there are too many guns that flow into the "illegal gun pipeline". So it's a chicken and egg problem. The questoin is: is it really an ok solution to say "we can't change regulation to something that would mean less guns in society because we have too many guns"?

> It's interesting to me that a lot progressive, popular armchair analysis of the issue advocates for strict gun laws, and at the same time advocates for loose drug laws

I think progressives mostly argue for looser drug laws for USE, not sale, apart from possibly also legalizing a few drugs. I don't think many progressives argue for lower penalties for drug smuggling, manufacturing and sales. The big difference between gun ownership and drug use in that context is that gun ownership would be a choice. If you are conservative you might argue that using drugs, being gay etc. is also a choice - but that's the philosophical side of it - I won't go there.


drugs involve physiological dependency and addiction, so the comparison seems like a stretch. consider that there aren't gang wars and other wild stuff going on (dealers on every corner) over banned substances like ephedrine, because there aren't strong secondary factors (addiction) propping up a significant demand to exploit.

as well, drugs are "the product" to a large semi-captured audience, but guns don't share this sort of situation. it's not clear that "illegal guns" and "illegal drugs" share much in terms of the market behavior.

most progressive drug reform isn't necessarily for legalized production and sale (perhaps it is for some libertarian progressives) - rather it's focused on decriminalizing most end-user behavior so they can both work with police without fear and have much improved access to help getting sober.


A law to ban guns will lead to less guns... but only in the hands of people who care about laws.


That's a pretty tired tautology.

It might also lead to less guns also in the hands of those who don't care about laws. For example because fewer guns can make them a lot more expensive and/or more risky to aquire illegaly.

One can't simply argue that "A law against X only affects those who care about laws!". That's always the case. Seatbelt laws leads to fewer deaths - among those who care about seatbelt laws. A ban on smoking in restaurants leads to fewer people who care about bans smoking in restaurants...


Those are absolutely flawed comparisons, because a criminal, by definition, is someone who doesn't care about the law. You cannot make that assumption about smokers or drivers.


> a criminal, by definition, is someone who doesn't care about the law.

That was my point too: that it's not really a good argument to argue against laws because they are uneffective against criminals who don't care about them.

Laws against child abuse are only effective on people who care about child abuse.

Laws against plane hijacking are only effective on people who care about laws on plane hijacking.

What's the difference?


The correct question following your line of reasoning is not the one about gun ownership, but "Laws against murders are only effective on people who care about laws about murder".

However these cases are fundamentally different. Only criminals abuse children, hijack planes or commit murder.

Guns, on the other hand, are not only used by criminals. They can be used by citizens for their own protection, to prevent crimes. For example, consider a woman preventing a rape attempt by using her gun. Or the recent case of the Texas church, which could have resulted in many more deaths if not by the actions of an armed citizen.

When you forbid gun ownership, then only criminals will have access to them. You remove access for regular people but keep it for criminals who would already have access to them anyway.


I wasn't talking about guns in general, I was talking about "illegal guns" (with some definition of illegal). They can be illegal because they are stolen, because they aren't allowed to be owned by people in general (such as an anti aircraft missile) or because the owner doesn't qualify to own it for some other reason - perhaps because of previous convictions in weapons related crimes etc. Let's just say that regardless of the actual legislation, there are always gun laws. Why the gun was illegal was beside the point, the point is that there are guns you don't want people to own, and people who you don't want to have guns (children, whatever) so there are laws agsinst it.

> They can be used by citizens for their own protection, to prevent crimes. > For example, consider a woman preventing a rape attempt by using her gun. Or the recent case of the Texas church, which could have resulted in many more deaths if not by the actions of an armed citizen.

Right. And in countries with fewer guns that citizen wouldn't have been there with his gun - but on the other hand the chance that someone has a semi auto high velocity gun at a church service in the first place is almost zero. There are just 3 societies here: one where everyone has guns, one where only the criminal has a gun, and one where almost no one has a gun. I prefer the last, even if there is a small number of people that have a gun and I don't (I also live in that kind of country so I know it works pretty well). To put this another way: if seeing someone next to me in church had brought a gun would make me feel safer than before because "good they can protect me if a madman starts shooting" then something is already wrong.

One can't argue with that you can stop an individual criminal with a gun. What you can argue about is (for example) whether owning a gun uts you at more risk of being shot than not owning one. Or whether, for society as a whole, guns cause or prevent violence as a net effect. I also think it's problematic to begin by categorizing people into "criminals" and "others" and assuming only people form the criminals group will commit crimes. One has to assume anyone can be a criminal tomorrow.


I don't think we're in complete disagreement. I'd just to comment on two points:

> but on the other hand the chance that someone has a semi auto high velocity gun at a church service in the first place is almost zero

Indeed, but w.r.t gun restrictions, I don't see this guy thinking "Going for a spree kill today... oh wait, guns are forbidden! Guess I'll stay home and watch something on Netflix instead". My point being, someone with the intention to kill will find a way to get a gun, with or without gun ownership restrictions.

So in my view, the such a law does nothing against the bad case, but prevents the good case (i.e. someone being prepared for the low-probability event).

> then something is already wrong

Well, that's the thing, something is always wrong. I live in a country where criminals regularly commit crimes while carrying assalt rifles. Heck, they carry their rifles even in open space parties: https://s03.video.glbimg.com/x720/6261094.jpg

I don't know in which country you live but I'm sure it has less wrong things than in Brazil. However, here they will kill you even if you don't react, so I see no benefit in removing from citizens even the chance of trying.

Incidentally, in 2005 we had a referendum about the prohibition of guns. The majority vote was against the prohibition, and yet the government ignored the result and prohibited them anyway.


> Indeed, but w.r.t gun restrictions, I don't see this guy thinking "Going for a spree kill today... oh wait, guns are forbidden! Guess I'll stay home and watch something on Netflix instead". My point being, someone with the intention to kill will find a way to get a gun, with or without gun ownership restrictions.

I think the problem here is: what makes a person even think about the concept of a mass shooting? What makes it even enter someones head? This is obviously very hard to provide any facts on, but I think it's an athmosphere in society. If you are wronged/crazy/whatever - why are guns even a thought? Or put another way: why doesn't this happen anywhere else - regardless of gun concentration? It has to be either genetic, environmental (lead in the water??), or cultural. There is no fourth option. And I don't think it's genetic. I think people are just as evil and crazy all around the world, but elsewhere people are much less likely to be mass shooters regardless of whether they have guns.

So I completely agree - the problem isn't that the individual criminal had a gun. The problem is that guns permeate society in such a profound way that guns are the go-to idea in so many situations. And that can either be seen as good/inevitable/bad - but it's certainly "different".

Similar thing: why does a fight escalate to a shooting? Why does someone being stopped by a police car escalate to shooting (regardless of whether the driver had a gun)? Because one person (for example the police officer) was afraid the other might have a gun, so pulled a gun. Now you have potentially dangerous situation, regardless of whether the driver had a gun (doubly so if he does, obviosly). Fear is the big driver.

I think perhaps I can express my opinion on why fewer guns is good this way: for shootings to stop, you need to get the gun out of the peoples heads not out of their hands. But you can't just magically make people belive that no one has a gun so they don't need one. You can't magically make police officers calmly approach any vehicle in any neighborhood without worrying that there might be a gun in the vehicle. For that to happen you have to actually lower the odds of there being a gun there.

> I don't know in which country you live

Sweden. And my opinions on most things political assume "stable/functioning/non-corrupt public institutions". I think things can be very different if you aren't so lucky.


> why doesn't this happen anywhere else

I think this is a misguided perception:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jun/...

https://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from...

But anyway, thanks for the thoughtful conversation!


I completely agree that death rate per million is going to let the US off the hook on mass shootings. But statistics is hard. I'd be significantly more worried about being in a shooting in the US than in Norway :D Yes thanks.


Fewer guns does not equal fewer deaths in the developed world. You are doing exactly what you claim to be against. Cherry picking data to suit your narrative.


It's the second time you mention this without providing any source. Can you please elaborate?


> Fewer guns does not equal fewer deaths in the developed world

I didn't argue against cherry picking (which I'm also against) I was arguing against the parent opposing something entirely different than the post he was responding to. I divided the implication into two.

The guns-to-deaths implication isn't clear cut either, but less so than the laws-to-guns one.

My argument is that this is mostly cultural, which is why it's so hard to measure. The reason being that gun culture both creates a cliate of many guns, but also the other way around (many guns means people are more likely to use/buy guns). Comparable societies (such as US vs rest of western world).

By "more guns" I include not just more guns sold/owned but "more guns in circulation" i.e. number of guns on streets, in cars, in bedside tables, as opposed to in gun safes.

A lot of countries with lots of guns have mostly locked up rifles and very few handguns. That blurs these statistics.


Yeah it does, Australia. That's the prime example of fewer guns = fewer deaths.


Australia also had reduced number of gun-unrelated deaths. In fact the percent reduction in those cases was larger than the reduction of gun deaths.

So the stricter gun laws can't be considered the sole explanation for fewer deaths.


There's been a world-wide reduction in crime since the 1970s. It's very possible to isolate the impact of Australia's gun laws by comparing to other similar countries that didn't implement a major gun ban at the time.


Has that been done? I think it would be quite hard to provide any meaningful comparison between countries, because the results would be clouded by many other factors that can influence them.


I don't have a horse in this race, but this argument seems to do double-duty:

> "Violent crime without firearms went down, maybe it was just people getting less violent."

> "Violent crime without firearms went up, people are going to be violent with or without guns."




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

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

Search: