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Contagion in Mass Killings and School Shootings (2015) (plos.org)
72 points by tysonzni 79 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

While our analysis was initially inspired by the hypothesis that mass media attention given to sensational violent events may promote ideation in vulnerable individuals, in practice what our analysis tests is whether or not temporal patterns in the data indicate evidence for contagion, by whatever means.

In truth, and especially because so many perpetrators of these acts commit suicide, we likely may never know on a case-by-case basis who was inspired by similar prior acts, particularly since the ideation may have been subconscious.

But they do tend to leave behind a manifesto or social media history that can point to their thinking and influencing factors.

This is a sad effect of national media attention (Click bait and headline bait). I watch the news sometimes and wonder if we'd all be better off if it didn't exist...

Obligatory mention that There were more murders in Chicago this week and it gets no media headlines.

Ultimately it's all because of ads. If we all had to pay for our news, then we'd be more cautious and reluctant about clickbait headlines. And media would not be in a race to the bottom, affecting news quality.

I doubt this. Reason clickbait works is because it's more attention grabbing. It's more attention grabbing because it appeals to human innate fears.

And even if clickbait is banned and subscription mandatory, media would be in a race to the bottom. Just a slightly different one.

Reason clickbait works is because it is needed to drive page views. In a subscription model, media sites would have an incentive to put out stories that are interesting beyond the first page view.

Ok. But if you can't view more than a paragraph, why not just judge the article by the headline.

If there were no media headlines, then the amount of murders would fall if headlines were the causal effect. You're undoing your own point.

There were more murders in Chicago this week

Oops, you forgot to change the capitalization on your copypasta.

News that is free to consume is the same as any other free product: the reader/viewer is the product.

Many countries with a tremendous backbone in journalistic research have done pretty well using public funded news.

The BBC and it’s ilk was a beacon for years. The trope is exhausting.

Funded via public revenue isn’t the same as ad-supported. The former is still paid for by the group that many consumers are a part of. It’s only “free” in the manner that a public road is “free”.

"Several past studies have found that media reports of suicides and homicides appear to subsequently increase the incidence of similar events in the community, apparently due to the coverage planting the seeds of ideation in at-risk individuals to commit similar acts"

I've suggested before on HN that active shooter drills- which are apparently widespread now in US schools- might be themselves a source of contagion. Because they provide exactly those "seeds of ideation", both by simulating the events and by implicitly suggesting that these kind of occurrences are in the realm of possibilities and somehow expected.

This is a fine line to tread, without a doubt. It’s the same “if we don’t give them the idea, maybe some of them won’t think of it otherwise” thinking that has been a theme throughout the history of education. Similar thought process to sex education, leaving out certain anti-government parts of history, etc. (and those are just examples in the US, let alone stricter education systems).

You’re making it seem like it’s a super risky and tenuous approach, but it’s long been understood that discussing “why suicide is a bad idea” with certain populations increases the odds of suicide in the group.

Right, but it still needs to be discussed.

Framing suicide as a bad solution to a problem reaffirms that it is still a solution, and gives room for the individual to justify away the taboo aspects (my situation is different because...). I don't know the right, ethical approach and I'd prefer to leave that discussion to psychologists, but we absolutely need to address it so people know what to look for in loved ones who may be at risk.

Personally, I think some people who may consider suicide are terrified of death in other situations. For some reason, suicide is different than dying in some other manner. Maybe it's about control, maybe it's a cognitive disconnect, IDK. What I do know is that it's a problem that we need to address through eduction, I'm just not sure on the best way to do it. Ignoring the problem seems to just push it online where the information can't really be controlled, so I think parents need to learn how to broach the subject.

I agree, though I think that "not giving them the idea" trivializes a bit the concept. The idea of sex, or of criticizing those in power, or even of murdering innocents, are not discoveries that need to be transmitted, they are naturally available to each of us. But constant availability certainly normalizes them, makes people more receptive to the possibility of enacting them.

Not to mention the absolute terror you are putting into kids’ (and teachers) minds.

No way will I subject my child to this. It seems far more damaging than helpful.

There is a good piece out today by the sociologist Kieran Healy about shooter drills as ritual: https://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2019/08/03/rituals-of-...

AFAICT the model seems fitted to historical data, and fit well. I'd be curious to see if they or anyone else kept tracing events using the model to check its predictive ability.

> on average, mass killings involving firearms occur approximately every two weeks in the US

This seems significantly higher than what I'd think. Do most mass killings not make the news? How is this defined?

It's generally an issue that a person's definition carves out instances that are not useful to their desired narrative. A consistent definition is required when discussing the topic, and unfortunately the definition practically needs to accompany its use simply because so many disparate definitions are used.

You could check a popular reference source to become familiar with the factual background. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_...

Right, so the majority of these incidents are gang-related activity.

Not saying it's not a "mass shooting", but the thesis in the OP article needs to be understood in such a context.

Gang violence/vengeance isn't going to be influenced by media or copycat effects one iota.

Right, so

I'm not endorsing you, I'm suggesting you consult available reference material before you start asking rhetorical questions. A Socratic/tendentious style of argument where you solicit participation from your interlocutors doesn't play well here. If you have a point it's better to just make it and back it up with reference material as many participants have busy lives of their own.

Is this only happening in the United States?

How frequently is this happening in other countries?

The US isn't even in the top 100 when it comes to homicides. I haven't been able to find statistics on "mass murders" which include firearm, arson, bombs, knife, etc attacks. All the media and sensationalist headlines have drowned out any hope I had of quickly researching this issue.

Here's what I've found so far:



So, indeed, compare USA's violence score with: * those of the countries where the USA have put their own violent influence to steer benefits back to them (Central & South America). * or those where another white supremacist ideology has been prevalent and is being actively fought against (South Africa).

But, surely, don't compare with countries that would be good reference to compare against (aka, friends with which you ought to have shared some common history, like, Europe).

This is a false equivalence; The foreign policy of the state has nothing to do with the levels of violence between its citizens.

The point was not comparing foreign policy, but in-society violence. Foreign policy here is what triggered instability and in-society violence.

Mostly, yes. And it's happening more and more.

Little in comparison.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_shooting#North_America > United States

"The United States has had more mass shootings than any other country in the post-WWII era. (five references)"

Things that we can do about this:

1) Firearm control - complicated political issue, with reasonable people on both sides of the issue. And even if there were federal (executive, legislative, and judicial) political unanimity on action (there is not and can't be for decades), it remains a larger practical problem than in any country that has so far banned guns. State and city-level action has not proven very effective.

2) Political control and censorship - only a fraction of these killers seem to be radicalized, and they generally seem to be lone-wolves. It seems a course ripe for abuse.

3) Drug enforcement - it has been pointed out that almost all of these killers have addiction problems of some kind. Anti-depressants may also play a role. But drug use seems too tenuous a connection, and these substances are used by such a broad swath of the population without this effect, that it would be hard to fix this with drug enforcement alone.

4) Psychological intervention - could the right sort of intervention at the right time avert these killings? It's hard to believe not, but since we can't predict the killings, we can't do much here. But if we had better knowledge, it's possible to imagine something as simple as voluntary social media guidelines (for 24-hour news, Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), that might alleviate the problem. Or something far more heavy handed and open to abuse or misuse, including high school psychological testing and reporting, mandatory social services checkups, etc.

If I were an engineer tasked with solving this problem, I would try the full-court press solution on all of these, rather than fixating on any one component.

Solution "4" is the most interesting to me, because it seems the least explored, and the place where increased knowledge and new techniques could possibly have the greatest effect. I think that we should be especially interested in how exactly people become killers, whether there are multiple types (there certainly are), and what are the necessary stages in the process. Studies like this are especially vital and interesting to me, and we need to spend far more effort on this type of research.

The biggest danger that I can see is that political and emotional energy on the impossible solutions prevent useful action anywhere.

EDIT: More on this study. The nice data fit on their contagion equation is very interesting because it begs to be expanded. The "contagion" is mediated by the media somehow. Is it as simple as reading stories about other shootings leading to more? Or is there a media climate effect? What other types of media can lead to shootings, etc. It would be tremendously helpful to learn enough to be psychologically precise about all of this.

5) Media policy.

Terrorism and lone wolf massacres feed trough 24/7 catastropheporn in the news.

Let's face it. Our society is entertained by news reporting. Discussing it with others is fun. May be a taboo to say it aloud.

The idea that minimizing the media coverage would make the problem go away isn't supported by evidence. China tried just doing a complete news blackout on the protests in Hong Kong but it wasn't effective. In a less rigidly controlled society other news outlets offering more detail would simply fill the vacuum.

Even as things are, the US media omits a great deal of information about terrorism and mass shootings out of a mix of sensitivity and caution.

That was actually point 4, if you were to read the post.

You frame it as psychological intervention to stop killers.

But media and audience live in symbiotic relationship with killers. Everyone gets value from the killings.

How do you break the profitable and addictive value chain?

There really isn't that much profit involved in this coverage. It seems much more likely that it's being driven by accident rather than by any nefariousness on the part of our evil media overlords.

I did not assume neferiousness, but profit and value is there. TV-networks get more voewers and money.

> We find significant evidence that mass killings involving firearms are incented by similar events in the immediate past.

This reminds me of the suicide study discussed in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point.

People seem to want to be famous, and recent events remind at-risk people that committing a mass killing is a quick way to be noticed. This is part of your #2, but I think it can be improved without abuse.

I think that if we can drastically reduce the reward for committing these acts, they'll decrease. I don't know the proper solution here, and I'm definitely not suggesting 1st amendment restrictions, but perhaps police can work with the media in a way that we can improve the reporting of these events to reduce copy cats without impacting the ability of police to investigate the crime.

That being said, we also need to determine whether any proposed cure is better than the disease. #1 and #2 enter a dangerous constitutional area, #3 has arguably caused more problems than it solved (helps organized crime), and #4 is a huge expense without proven results. The average person's risk of being involved in one of these events is vanishingly small, but you wouldn't think it from watching the news. Before jumping to solutions, we need to quantify the benefit and the cost in a way that the average person understands, and that is a very hard task.

I think that controlling psychological rewards is more of a psychological intervention than a political intervention, but I'm agreed. (A political intervention would be called for if we were looking at IRA type events in Ireland, for example, with substantial networks devoted to providing practical support.)

One thing that I've begun to think is that as a nation our overall social climate has declined over the past few years, post-social media and iphones. It's hard to imagine that social climate issues wouldn't be related to a change in violence. (But maybe it's just my post-2015 family dinners and nobody else's!)

I'm sure there's a good study out there on the impact of social media on social connectedness, and I'm guessing it's a negative correlation. People seem to be using social media as an alternative for real social interaction, which increases rewards (more eyeballs) and decreases consequences (no "real" friends; can always find a community to approve of you).

I'm not sure what the solution here is, but I'm worried that we'll trample our rights in attempting to solve the problem without actually solving it.

Other things we could do: Remove all cameras from schools. Remove police from schools. Remove metal detectors from schools. Restore ability for students to leave campus during the schoolday. Stop persecuting the most vulnerable kids on the basis of nonsensical 'warnings signs' lists derived from no rational basis or evidence.

Restore as much autonomy to especially adolescent students as possible while still accomplishing education. Stop driving kids into a corner and making them feel so desperate and trapped that they're willing to throw their own life away just to do a little damage and escape.


Are you referring to students as minorities? I don't think that is accurate. Also, the study states attacks are more likely to spark other, similar attacks in the first 13 days on average. I think your statement is overgeneralizing here.

It is possible to radicalise anyone.

It is not about politics at all. You can convince even the hippiest left-wing peaceniks into terrible activity.

All you have to do is fixate the subject on either side of a dialectic argument involving force, violence, duress .. injustice. Or even better, all of the above.

The root of all radicalisation is individual responsibility.

Do you have evidence of a number of "leftist" activists that have approximately the same count of murders as right-wingers/white supremacists have?

I mean, something to balance and show some equivalence?

You don't.

Because the single biggest real threat to any US citizen today is an other US citizen that can grab a weapon at will.

And it happens that in the overwhelming number of cases, the person that becomes a mass-murderer is a white, conservative, pro-right, pro-weapon, pro-republican.

Not acknowledging this is either total denial - or total complicity.

And. This is totally about politics (how a government deals with its people). NRA politics; that serves a very specific ideology.

Look in Wikipedia this category: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Mass_shootings_by_cou... - then browse by country.

All countries, but the USA have sporadic sub-articles. USA has whole sub-categories.

USA are the _single_ country in the world where there are as many mass shootings, every year. When there are been more than 250 in the USA in 2019, there hasn't been even 10 in any other country in the world.

(to the down voters: downvote as much as you want guys - facts are facts - you are only deluding yourselves - you should look in the mirror more and stop considering the USA as the center/perfection of all things, because it's not)

The USA is also the worlds worst murderer of innocent people, in terms of illegal acts of war. It has been bombing innocent people at the rate of one bomb dropped every twenty minutes for the last 20 years.

So? The world knows that American's are okay with violence. We haven't been hiding ourselves from its victims, or at least .. a big portion of the world sees and knows all too well, what most American's don't or won't: a principle product of the USA is violence.

Leftists have obviously been radicalized in the past and they have a large body count in places where there have been left wing insurgencies and revolutions, but that is not what’s happening in the us right now.

Can you cite some evidence on this? I haven’t heard about any right-wing terror cells in the US. The attackers appear to be “lone wolves”. They may have been radicalised to be right-wing online, but I haven’t seen any evidence of some organised group arranging or encouraging these attacks.

Either way, the two (radicalisation and contagion) aren’t mutually exclusive. In my opinion a large part of the motivation behind these shootings is the potential for fame and for the actions to be seen by the whole world - regardless of whether they’ve been radicalised or not.

Just one point before i get down voted into obscurity. but an effective regulation of firearms would go a long way to resolve this issue.

I don't think you should get downvoted for sharing your opinion, but who do you really think would benefit from regulating firearms? There is a very good reason the constitution provisioned firearms and I think people are starting to forget.

All citizens that wouldn't be killed: * by mistake because it found one in a cupboard? * by someone who gets to discharge his feelings?

if you think people with automatic rifles are going to be anything other than a minor annoyance to an organized army you're in for a shock. On this very site there's been articles about the gorgon stare. Rifles don't compete against that technology.

All true if you think terms of taking and holding territory, not true at all if you step away from the geographic paradigm. The US military is very powerful against other states but ultimately it's a force that clings to Clausewitzian doctrine in a Boydian world.

You don't need an "organized group" (in the old meaning of "organized group") to consider a larger pattern.

And the fact you made an account specifically for writing what appears as rational arguments but aren't at all (and are in fact dog whistles), doesn't go in your favor.

There isn't an organized group with a hierarchical chain of command saying 'launch an attack here' or 'units X, y, z, carry out an attack next Wednesday'.

But there is absolutely crowdsourced coordination on identification of targets, weapon platforms, and methods. And as everyone on HN already knows, crowdsourcing is a highly effective tool for getting things done. It works just as well for terrorism as anything else.

> I haven’t heard about any right-wing terror cells in the US.

Uh, have you heard about the KKK?

There is no KKK. There are several dozen. They generally aren't very organized and don't really Burn buildings and flip over cars like Antifa and BLM. You of course know that they aren't classified as a terrorist organization. Some call them that, yet these same people often won't say the same about left wing groups we see doing 95% of the violence and destruction.

It is very telling that supporters of the 2nd think it should be upheld without ANY limits or backstops.

Freedom of speech is not absolute, why in the world should owning a device intended to kill be unlimited?

Some 2nd amendment supporters think there should be no limitations but in my experience that is not the majority. Most people agree with background checks, restrictions on automatic weapons, bans on felons buying guns, etc.

Many are against the return of the assault weapons ban and banning of higher capacity magazines. In general I find that many 2nd amendment supporters are fearful of an expansion of gun control laws, but they're not out there arguing there should be no gun control laws.

Agreed, but the majority are not setting the policy agenda.

Yep, gun lobbying groups have succeeded in convincing lawmakers to be hardliners despite what most gun owners and non-gun owners actually support.

If you look at gun crimes and gun enthusiasts, most gun crimes are not committed by gun enthusiasts, and most gun enthusiasts are willing to go through the hoops required to get a concealed weapons license, which requires a background check and training.

Most gun enthusiasts I know hate gun bans because they hurt responsible gun owners far more than criminals. Many gun enthusiasts like "tactical" weapons and mods, and these are precisely what these bans hit. They've already shown willingness to go through hoops, so I think a different approach is in order.

I believe all weapons should be legal, but more dangerous weapons should certainly be harder to get. Automatic weapons, for example, should require more training and secure storage than handguns, and some handguns should require more training and secure storage than hunting equipment.

Some proposals:

- guns unlikely to be used in crimes (single shot hunting rifles and shotguns, revolvers) should require ID + quick background check (submit name to police database for smoke test) to purchase - larger magazines, semi-automatics, and self defense ammunition require passing a basic gun safety course and access to secure storage for protected items (e.g. home safe) - automatic weapons require regular inspection by some local authorities that checks correct storage habits

And so on. I think most gun enthusiasts would be okay with this, provided independent third parties can do the checks (gun club, dealers, etc). Gun owners would then bring documentation showing that they're allowed to buy firearms of a given class. Everything should be as anonymous as possible (separate ID from proof of compliance and require a warrant to link the two).

That being said, most proposed legislation seeks bans, not reasonable regulation, so it's understandable that gun enthusiasts push back.

A lot of what you wrote is reasonable, but it should be clarified that in the United States, at least, (which is presumably the country many of us are talking about) private ownership of automatic weapons has been heavily regulated since the 1930s to the point that it's nearly (but not quite) impossible to own an automatic weapon as a private citizen.


And I think it should be made more accessible.

Automatic firearms are so restricted because they didn't think a complete ban would be upheld by the courts, yet the restrictions are essentially a ban since I cannot reasonably get access as a mentally stable (I hope) person without any record.

Automatic weapons are fun, and at least in my area, I can rent them at local shooting ranges. But going the extra step and buying them it apparently way more difficult. The net result is that only the military, police, and criminals have automatic weapons, so average gun owners are the only real people affected. It makes sense that gun owners are against new regulations, because these regulations seem to just restrict their rights without solving anything.

Another silly thing is that guns tend to get restricted based on how they look, not on how dangerous they are. "Tactical" guns are considered "assault weapons", while the exact same gun without the trimmings are considered "hunting equipment" and not subject to the same restrictions. Does a pistol grip and some black plastic/metal decorations really make a gun more dangerous? No, but they make a gun more fun to own.

It seems people aren't really interested in actually solving problems, they're just interested in looking like they're trying to solve problems, and the average voter isn't educated enough about guns to recognize reasonable regulations. IMO, we should be educating people about guns instead of trying to ban them. Perhaps we need to include gun training in our K-12 education since it's part of the Constitution. IMO, respect for guns is the biggest deterrent to gun crime.

> It is very telling that supporters of the 2nd think it should be upheld without ANY limits or backstops.

Any additional limits. There are already plenty of laws on the books around gun control, it’s disingenuous to pretend as though none exist.

This is the main consideration I give to gun ownership.

When there is a tyrannical government in power who is violently oppressing the people, would any new laws eventually prevent me from walking up to an agent of the tyrannical state and shoot them in the head? i.e., would it be possible to have localized insurrections against government? Make no mistake, it is this fear that prevents most governments from overreaching.

If the answer is no, then the rule is not allowed. Licensing would be a slippery slope into complete gun control and consolidating power over the people.

If you want further proof, look at what is happening in the socialist countries in South America. The government is murdering their own people who are defenseless.

If you want further proof that an armed populace is a good check against (real or perceived) tyranny, look at Afghanistan, Iraq, and of course USA (hello UK!)

In Afgahnistan, AK-47s are so common that the US has air-striked weddings due to celebratory gunfire.

Which should probably tell you something about the assumption about the accessibility of the guns, and the likely outcome of your fantasy there...




Whether you like it or not, the US lost in Vietnam, they lost in Afghanistan though I haven't kept up on Iraq, reading a few books about the topic showed me that the main impetus for leaving is that it is hopeless for the US to "win".

Edit: IF memory serves, this was the plan laid out by Bin Laden. The guy even put it on video and the stupid US government followed through. Unfortunately, web bitrot has made it difficult to find the relevant articles.

The US is/was not the local government in Afgahnistan, Iraq or Vietnam. Nor has it ever had a clear definition of what "victory" actually looks like in those places (nor any policy-level understanding or interest in the local culture and political dynamics that might enable it to develop one).

But it's worth noting that no victory was achieved by the insurgent forces that ever lasted in any of those places: the US, so long as it maintained the military will to stay, could bomb and destroy the insurgents indefinitely. It just couldn't tolerate the political cost of why it's people were being sent to die "over there", and a public which was and is dissatisified with foreign civilian casualties inflicted by US military missions.

Well, ok. Bombing the shit out of everyone is a possibility but would lose major political points. No allies left after that move.

I suppose the closest analogy is Syria but even there, there is so much proxy war going on that it's impossible to discern the reality of the situation.

Bottom line is that it is in the best interest of the political elite to avoid angering a non trivial portion of an armed population. There is no such restriction on a disarmed population.

"Local SWAT engaged in a firefight with an armed extremist group today..."

You seem to be building a lot of assumptions into "the government is tyrannical but don't worry everyone will definitely support me when I start shooting at cops because that's how that works.

And you build in the same assumptions. For now, there is no such worry.

> (hello UK!)

Brit here. What are you on about?

Fair cop! upvoted.

Just this conversation made me miss my British work buddies.

The right wing people seem to be ok with a dictatorship if it gets them what they want. Left wingers are less likely to open guns so this point is moot. Also what chance do these guns have against the army's artillery.

cheez 79 days ago [flagged]

The point is not that the populace can win. It's that the populace can make it difficult enough for them to give up.

And just FYI, most government murder of their own citizens has been done by left wing governments in the last century.

Want to guess what Nazi was short for? National Socialist Party.

Want to guess the first step of murderous left wing governments? Gun confiscation.

Am I saying that the US government is going to murder citizens (lol, already does it)? No. But don't make it easier.

Curious why this was flagged?

‘You are bringing a musket to a drone fight’ - Jim Jeffries

He's a brilliant comedian, but he doesn't understand that people have successfully fought off the might of the US army in recent decades. That's why China colonizes economically.

Laws yes, substantive laws... debatable.

More significant measures like requiring a license or limiting magazine capacity are somehow characterized as over reach.

Would be interested to hear how that is rationalized.

Because we take the right to bear arms very seriously in the US. In our constitution that right is enumerated second, just after the one about freedom of speech and religion. Licensing is a mechanism of control over who can and cannot exercise this right, and such mechanisms are often abused to suppress minorities and dissidents, which is contrary to the reason the right is enumerated in the first place. Similarly this is why people sometimes oppose mandatory background checks; though you will find much broader support for voluntary background checks by private citizens [0].

Limiting magazine capacity is opposed because it is an ineffectual restriction that largely serves to annoy hobbyists. Many proposed restrictions are like this. That's one of the reasons people encounter so much resistance to proposals, because they're often obviously rooted in ignorance and have little regard for their side effects. For instance, since "history of mental illness" is one of the things that could be used to restrict one's ability to purchase firearms, many enthusiasts who may be suffering from mental health issues will not seek treatment.

[0] In many states I can sell a firearm to another individual without involving a licensed middleman (FFA), but I do not have access to the system they use for background checks (NICS).

Regarding NICS access, spot on. I believe it would be constitutional to hold private sellers responsible for a limited period (1-2years) for firearm crime by purchasers. Give a safe harbor for private sales which include a NICS check, but this would require opening NICS access in some way.

Please note that 'FFA' in the above should be 'FFL'. Chalk it up to an early morning brain fart.

9 states have magazine limits. Does it make a substantive difference? If not, then what is the rationalization to make it Federal?

Which other Bill of Rights freedoms require a license to practice? Certainly free speech can and does lead to violence. Should we also require a license for that?

Would be interested to hear how that is rationalized.

What most people fail to grep is the Bill of Rights were put in place to _limit_ the tyranny of government. You start taking those things away, restricting them, marginalizing, licensing, etc. what you'll get is tyranny in one way or another.

Do some research on Venezuela, it happened in this decade. You can go back further if you'd like.

> 9 states have magazine limits. Does it make a substantive difference? If not, then what is the rationalization to make it Federal?

Your questions point to the answer: city and state laws are far less effective when someone can bypass them by taking a short drive.

> Which other Bill of Rights freedoms require a license to practice?

Note that in this case, the freedom in question starts with “well-regulated” and that was commonly accepted as having meaning until the post-civil rights act backlash caused major reversals at groups like the NRA. Accepting some limits is literally just rolling back to the mainstream consensus position from the founding of the republic until the 1970s.

The phrase “well-regulated” is part of “well-regulated militia,” and means orderly or disciplined, in the same manner a regulator in electronics keeps current managed or a regulator in mechanics keeps spin precise. It does not mean government regulation, and does not apply to the individual portion of the Amendment.

It’s only recently that people claim regulated means government regulated instead of how the term was used when written, as clearly explained in writings of the times.

Note that 45 or so states, modeling their constitutions after the Federal one, and not misrepresenting this phrase as you do, also include personal right to bear arms. This is further evidence of how the term you misrepresent and selectively misquote is meant.

That you have to spin it against the original meaning as written by Founding Fathers in the Federalist papers, as detailed in Congressional Research Reports, as evidenced in numerous State, Federal, and recent Supreme Court cases, shows the absurdity of this misrepresentation.

If you're honestly interested, here [1] is the text of a study commissioned from the 97th Congress on the topic, with plenty of historical citations on the meaning of the terms you selectively misquoted. It gives the history of how the term came to be in the constitution from common law, clearly showing they did not use it as you claim.

[1] https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Downloads/CommitteeM...

Which CRS report are you referring to? I’m assuming not the one which recognizes that as a modern development:

“Before the Supreme Court’s 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, the right generally had been understood by federal courts to be intertwined with military or militia use.”


The next sentence after the one you quoted: " Still, there had been ample debate in the lower federal courts and political discussion over whether the Second Amendment provides an individual right to keep and bear arms, versus a collective right belonging to the states to maintain militias."

It's also the meaning more clearly laid out in the 45+ states constitutions explicitly naming a personal right, since they modeled their Constitutions after the Federal one. The distinction between the two is a very modern dichotomy. And I listed the text of the CRS report above.

Wikipedia has a decent summary of US legal cases [1]. Note the Supremes ruled it was individual in 1939 according to this summary.

Here's a summary of state Constitutions [2]. Note how many explicitly give personal, mot militia, rights to bear arms. These are modeled after the meaning of the Federal Constitution as those states saw it when adopting their Constitutions.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_keep_and_bear_arms_in...

[2] http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/beararms/statecon.htm

Yes, especially the next sentence you didn’t include:

> Pre-Heller, the vast majority of lower federal courts had embraced the collective right theory.

Similarly, it would be useful if you discussed the reasons why the founders chose not to include any of the proposed individual rights language in the second amendment draft. It was a deliberate choice not to and there’s plenty of historical context available.

All of the Bill of Rights are individual rights, crafted to address complaints of the states about individual protections, most notably by the Anti-Federalists.

If, as you claim, there was not individual rights in previous drafts, it would be useful if you addressed why in the ratified Amendment they did add it. Because if it’s as you claim, that is pretty solid evidence they wanted the individual rights.

Also, why did the vast majority of the states make it abundantly clear when making their constitutions, modeled on the Federal one?

You don't even need firearms to inflict mass causalities, so magazine limits are political theater imho.


Firearm restrictions also inhibits civilians from resisting state violence if it ever came down to it. I've heard the tanks/planes arguments, but if those are so effective why are we still in Afghanistan? (hint: they have firearms)

In my humble, outsider (i.e.: non-US) opinion, when weapons get involved (on any side), things escalate. In other words, would something like the Kent University massacre have gone differently if protesters were armed (not considering the ideological weirdness of such a scenario)?

I see what's good in the argument that people should be able to respond to tyranny with force, but I'm wondering how often this could actually happen on such a big scale that it would matter instead of being crushed by the State in a matter of hours or days, at best.

And I furthermore wonder whether weapons being legal would matter much in such a situation.

> magazine limits are political theater imho

Wow. Seriously?

The best chance of subduing (by any means) an attacker is when they aren’t actively shooting at you. That only happens when they need to stop to reload or change weapons.

I would agree that it's political theater. A few of the shootings, the criminal didn't empty the magazine anyway. (I'm purposely not mentioning the shooters names or the incident.) Others, the criminal simply carried extra "California legal" magazines or extra firearms.

Reloading time is negligible. There are many youtube videos showing this. It takes no time to switch to a different weapon.

Firearms; the support of a large fraction of the population, government, and army; and an occupying force which is trying to avoid excessive casualties. In most cases, an oppressive government looks more like Russia, China, Syria, etc. where the power imbalance is insurmountable. If it ever comes to a civil war in the U.S. it’s going to depend on those factors, not a bunch of 18th century LARPers.

“well-regulated” refers to the militia, not the right to bear arms, and means “in proper working order” (in the sense of a breathing regulator), not “controlled via legal regulations”

Can you argue that the bill of rights is just wrong and should be ammended?

Treating firearms like every other object in our world is a false equivalency. They are created to kill, period.

I grew up target shooting weapons of all sizes and shapes. It is a lot of fun, no doubt.

But their capabilities to inflict massive damage in seconds should make it clear that they require special consideration.

In addition, the objects we are talking about today are orders of magnitude more deadly than those originally considered by the Bill of Rights.

They had warships when the 2A was written, some of which were privately owned.

They also had things like the puckle gun and the founders were aware of advancing weaponry.

> orders of magnitude more deadly than those originally considered by the Bill of Rights

They had small bore cannons back then, you could legally own those under the 2nd amendment. You're telling me that artillery, which can be fired at effect 1000 yards away from it's intended target, is less deadly than a semi-automatic rifle?

Can you conceal these cannons when you walk into a mall before shooting others?

As the US allows private guns to prevent government tyranny, in people's views wouldn't it also be right to allow privately owned cannons, assorted artillery, explosives and the entire military toolkit (so long as they could pay for it)? After all it would greatly help civilians throw off oppression, and that's what it's all about.

This isn't sark, just pointing out a reasonable logical destination for the reasoning.

If you have enough money you can actually own and operate fully automatic weapons, cannons, flame throwers, artillery, etc.

... and if you're the leader of a large enough nation, the US will even sell you planes and tanks.

In our shortsightedness we are dismissing the future possibility of foreign invasions, domestic tyranny, and civil war. Let's consider the former; if the US has registration laws and China invades/wins, then all of a sudden Chinese officials have the addresses of every potential source of violent dissent in their hands. I realize the threat of invasion isn't really practical today, but with policies we put in place today we'd effectively be putting our ancestors in the worst possible situation in the event they ever had to defend themselves against tyranny whether foreign or domestic.

I understand that gun violence sucks, but regulation/registration has consequence - we may see benefit, some of it we may never see but our children will (for a rather recent example, see Venezuela). Our communities are living with these monsters, we are ignoring them because our lives have become so centered around live news, social media, and debating over the internet instead of talking to each other.

Banning guns, knives, bats, fertilizer, whatever isn't going to stop this epidemic - and doing so will just prevent ourselves from being able to prevent those who are determined to do so.

Sure, they could even use it against enemies of America too. One of the other rights the Constitution gives Congress along with the right to declare war is the right to issue letters of marque, meaning it is still legal today for the US government to give any random citizen the right to raid a foreign state

"so long as they could pay for it"

what if they can't pay for it? are gun manufacturers now violating the "equal protection" clause? they're denying people the ability to exercise a constitutional amendment simply based on their ability to pay.

Currently it doesn't matter whether they can pay for it or not as legally they can't have it (gov't tyranny?)

So let's ignore the cost; in principle, for defence against an out of control government for which guns are needed, are USAians who are pro gun also pro the idea private citizens owning serious artillery, explosives, tanks etc?

It is legal to own tanks and flame throwers now.

Would you support a license requirement or a word limit for the First Amendment?

Sure, for all the words that can be used to kill people.

Okay. Let’s say we’ve gathered a list of the most dangerous ‘violent’ words (e.g. kill, harm, murder, cleanse, racial epithets, etc.) that could be used in a direct incitement to violence. Would you support a license requirement and word limit on these words? Nevermind that they have various legitimate lawful uses, people’s lives are at stake!

You just killed...

Maybe we should consider one for arguments to avoid arguments like yours

Thank you for your valuable contribution to the discussion

Many supporters of the right to bear all arms without limitation are at the same time also supporting the right to absolute freedom of speech, including hate speech like calls for extermination or unconstitutional expulsion of "foreigners" (or what they see as foreigners). I think there's a pattern here...

You are correct, the pattern being evident in the numerous limiting laws that allow an officer of the law or a government official to arrest and detain you for any minor infraction, real or precieved. The erosion of personal freedoms like free speech is just the start down a slippery slope.

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