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Is private gun ownership harmful? How harmful?

Silent Cal          24 July 2015 04:08 PM

As far as I can tell, the statistical arguments over the effects of guns have gotten nowhere due to the enormous level of confounding. (Sure, the US has lots of guns and a really high murder rate, but Switzerland also has a ton of guns, and their murder rate is among the lowest in the world). On the other hand, guns make killing someone really easy. People do things more often when they're easy. I find this moderately convincing, as far as intuitive arguments go. Which isn't really all that far. My current stance is that it's more likely harmful than not, but without clearer evidence it doesn't make much sense to be impassioned about the issue. PS mass shootings are a tiny fraction of homicides. If you're mainly optimizing your gun policy to prevent mass shootings, then in my book you're wrong whether you're proposing fewer guns or more. PPS I'd prefer not to discuss the qualities and motivations of American gun owners, if we can avoid it.

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melian 26 July 2015 04:29 AM

Sure, the US has lots of guns and a really high murder rate, but Switzerland also has a ton of guns, and their murder rate is among the lowest in the world

In the US, the local homicide rates are determined primarily by demographics. The homicide rates in the North Western states that are right next to Canada are actually lower than across the border.

In general, the effect of restricting private gun ownership depends on the local situation. In the US, there are already millions of guns in private possession. Restricting new sales may deny access to guns to law-abiding citizens but not to criminals.


Fwiffo 28 July 2015 10:18 AM

I don't like the standard framing that good of a way handling the issue. On the usual points I don't have much to say.

If you just own a gun and keep it in a place where it is never retrieved like in a bank safety deposit then clearly it isn't going to do anything. So gun ownership in itself isn't doing that much. Off course if you didn't make it yourself you probably bought from a weapons manufacturer which might have made you financially support pro-gun lobbyist.

If you keep it at a locked door at a shooting range it is likely to be used in a very narrow sense. If you keep it under your pillow or in the closet there is significant risk that your children will accidentally use it to shoot themselfs.

If you keep it on your person your children are still a relevant threat. You might actually end up using it. If you wear it openly that might be an attempt at some kind of communicating. So does carrying it concealed.

I am listing my actual points as seperate posts to experiment on posting styles.