Adventures in Logic ~ Lesson 1: Responsible Owners

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    Adventures in Logic

    Lesson 1: Responsible Owners

    (Part 1)



    Question: What do pitbulls and guns have in common?

    Answer: They both have responsible owners.




    –No really. I am not being ironic. There are plenty of responsible owners of pitbulls and/or guns out there. I know this for a fact, because I know many of them personally.

    But even if didn’t know any, all I’d have to do is wait for another tragedy involving a pitbull or a gun to come along. Whenever that happens, I know I can count on dozens of responsible people coming forward (on responsible forums like this one) and saying things like: I’m a responsible owner, and my experience has been blah-blah-blah . . .

    Conversely, nobody will come on here with things like: I’m a crazy, IR-responsible owner, and I gotta tell ya that blah-blah-blah-blah-blah . . .

    –Well, actually, we did have one gun guy on here talking some crazy shit about defending himself from the government, but I haven’t heard from that dude for a while.

    [ wink ]

    Anyway, from what you read in the editorial pages, you might conclude that every owner is a responsible one. But if you did that, you would almost certainly experience cognitive dissonance, because as soon as you turned back to the news pages, you would see that there is at least one owner out there who wasn’t responsible.

    So what to believe? Are most gun owners responsible? Or are they irresponsible?

    Sorry. I can’t tell you that; you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

    While you’re doing that, I would remind you to be cautious of making unsupported inferences on either side of the issue, but I would urge you to be especially wary of claims of responsible gun ownership, for when it comes to that we have only the claimants’ personal assurances to go on, whereas when it comes to the irresponsible ones, what we have is proof positive – in the form of body bags, grieving families, cities and towns in shock, and a nation in mourning.


    cognitive dissonance



    Responsible Owners

    (Part 2)

    For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that what’s at issue with gun control is not whether Americans should be allowed to own guns but simply whether the government should be allowed to restrict gun ownership.

    Let us also assume that the majority of gun owners ARE responsible people, who use and store their guns safely.




    Bueno. For gun rights people, one of the central problems with gun control is that restrictions on gun ownership punish the good guys.

    And it’s true . . . in a sense. If you look at gun restrictions as punishment, then yes, restrictions do hurt the good guys along with the bad.

    Waiting periods? Background checks? Insurance? Registration? Yup, they’re a hassle.

    Ban on assault weapons? No doubt. Unfair to collectors and hobbyists. (I’ll talk about gun bans in another post; for right now I want to focus on restrictions.)




    Good. So now that we’ve gotten that out there, let’s make some comparisons. Are there any other examples of where the government is “unfair” to one class of people?

    Oh yeah. You betcha. Plenty.

    In fact, nearly every civil code that’s ever been written has some kind of relative unfairness built into it.

    Consider one that everyone knows about: driving.

    If you wanna drive a car in this state you have to take a test, buy a license, and buy expensive liability insurance.

    How is that fair to you? You’re a good driver. You know the rules of the road. You don’t yap on the phone while driving. Why do you gotta go through all this, just because of some idiots who don’t know how to drive?

    On a personal level these restrictions are not fair to you. But on a social level, they are. Society – of which you are also a member by the way – has a more compelling interest in disregarding your claims that you’re a good driver than in accepting them.

    Car accidents happen even to the best of drivers as we know, and in any case the Department of Licensing doesn’t have time to weigh the truthfulness of every applicant’s claims to the effect that he’s a good, safe driver. Ergo: Get in line and take the test, Bub. And make sure you’ve got that insurance card before you get behind the wheel. Or else.




    Now if the kootchman were still around, he would object that my analogy is kaput because, whereas there’s no Constitutional right to drive a car, there IS such a right to own a gun.

    Ahem. True enough. The Constitution says you can have a gun. But that in turn raises another question.

    Two questions, actually.

    Question 1: Can government mediate any right granted to citizens by the Constitution? Or are Constitutional rights absolute rights?

    Question 2: If Constitutional rights are absolute, what happens when two of them are in conflict?

    But that’s a topic for another thread . . .




    I’m trying very hard to stay out of this but…

    ” And make sure you’ve got that insurance card before you get behind the wheel. Or else.”

    Right. Now why is it that I have to carry Uninsured/Underinsured Driver coverage for when I get hit by someone who is ignoring that law?

    That’s where the logic falls apart. Responsible drivers make sure they are covered as required by state law. Irresponsible drivers do not.

    See where I’m going?

    BTW, I’m not arguing your point, just trying to point out that the situation isn’t as cut and dried as some think.



    The government says you cannot drive a car (legally) without a license or insurance. People do it every day anyway.

    Being as I am not a gun enthusiast, I cannot tell you if guns are as easy to come by as cars, but I know that the laws do not stop people from driving when they (legally) shouldn’t.

    I don’t know the answer to all of this, I don’t pretend to begin to, but I think the guns = cars thing is just not helpful to the situation.



    CM: I don’t believe you have to carry uninsured/underinsured driver insurance. Your insurance agent might have told you that, but it’s not true. And it’s not like there’s no sanction for those who don’t buy insurance. If they get caught, they get punished.

    And yes, they do get caught and punished. Fear of being punished motivates lots of people to buy insurance who otherwise wouldn’t. (See below.)


    >>Responsible drivers make sure they are covered as required by state law. Irresponsible drivers do not.

    This statement is true, but it is somewhat misleading. Yes, responsible drivers get insurance. But why are they doing that? Is it because (a) they care about making sure everyone’s damages are covered or (b) because they know they could get in trouble if they don’t do it.

    For some drivers, the answer will be (a).

    For some, the answer will be (b).

    The (b) folks are the ones whom the law is really aimed at. Same for gun owners. One thing we know about Nancy Lanza, for example, is that, in spite of her bad judgment, she was a law abiding citizen. Therefore, if there had been some law requiring that she not keep guns in the house, there’s a good chance she would’ve abided by that. Which would’ve saved lives.



    deb, thanks for your comments.

    Please be careful with terms like “not helpful to the situation.” I assure you that any good-faith attempt to understand and address the problem of gun violence is indeed helpful to the situation. If I make a false analogy, then the most you can say is that it’s not helpful to my own argument.

    I believe that the gun/car analogy is a strong one, as far as it goes. Both guns and cars are things that many people consider a social good, and both are things that also involve a great amount of immediate risk to society, if they are not properly regulated.

    I also believe that the more people think about the situation, the more they’ll come to reject the idea (put forward largely by the NRA) that guns are fundamentally different from other dangerous things, and that they are therefore “above the law.”


    Now let me quote you something our President said yesterday:

    The fact that this [gun violence] problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.

    –This is encouraging, because it shows that Mr. Obama gets it. Unfortunately, it still leaves an opening for the NRA to come back with some poppycock like, “Hey! We’re trying to reduce the violence, too, by arming more citizens.”

    I’ll be looking for strong, clear statements from him in the days ahead, along with strong, clear actions.



    You are, or course, correct. I do not have to carry un/underinsured coverage, but I do because I’m one of those pesky responsible people. In many ways, if you catch my drift. (No, I don’t own a pitbull)

    But I do buy it because I recognize the risk and am also aware that typically, if I am injured or my property is damaged by someone without car insurance, there will be little or no recompensation for my loss. Sure, the other party is legally on the hook, but good luck actually getting your money. Trust me.

    So, if gun owners become required to buy insurance, should all of us go out and also do the responsible thing and buy un/underinsured gun owners insurance to protect ourselves from the irresponsible gun owners who don’t follow the law? Pretty slippery slope, there.

    Again, I’m not arguing against the points you are making about gun control issues, I’m just trying to point out that its really not a simple issue, and gets complicated really fast.



    Yes, it is time to to SOMETHING. I agree, 100%. I just dont know that someone set on murdering many people is too worried about those [sarcasm] pesky things called laws.[/sarcasm]

    I am of the belief that laws keep the honest people honest.



    What happened to Kootchman? I am so busy at work I must have missed it.



    Yeah, CM. You’re right. It’s complicated.

    kootchman hasn’t been around for several weeks, Bostonman. Don’t know if he’s sick, if he’s been snubbing us, or if he was forcibly ejected.

    If he was forcibly ejected, I’m sure it was for cause.



    Don’t get me wrong, DBP, I am most definitely NOT arguing that we shouldn’t do anything. Something does need to be done, I just am not sure what the right course of action really is.

    More laws? More or new restrictions? I don’t know. What I do know is that wescoastdeb is right:

    “I am of the belief that laws keep the honest people honest.”

    What I also know is that I and many other people I know grew up in responsible gun owning families and never once thought of doing anything other than using them responsibly.

    I also know from first hand experience what can happen when people do not have that set of moral/ethical/responsible guidelines.

    I’m not trying to be inflammatory, but I think, or perhaps feel, that the issue is larger than simply gun control. Read this very carefully: I don’t know what the answer is. But, I wonder if it is more a question of cultural morality (I’m making terms up, but I hope you understand).

    Sometimes I wounder whether simply regulating dangerous things away is really the right course. I don’t know.

    Unfortunately, what I do know is that the last “assault weapons ban” was really a joke. Because of all the politicized loopholes, it was really just a “scary looking rifle” ban and for those that really understood the details, was completely ineffective at changing anything except the comfort level of uninformed people.

    That’s not a dig at anyone, I’m just afraid that is where will end up if we don’t approach the issue intelligently and without a very reasoned, “big picture” method.

    Yes, I believe it should be harder to buy or even access guns, but I also firmly believe that there needs to be a paradigm shift (even if I hate using that buzz-phrase) in our society’s approach towards the responsible ownership of weapons.

    ….And there’s my albatross. I have absolutely no idea how anyone or any group can effect that change, and I worry that simple legislation may not be the answer.

    BTW, Thanks for the intelligent and reasoned thoughts DBP. I do believe that is the only way the issue can be addressed.



    i think there is an easy way around this

    you don’t need to control guns if you regulate and track the sale of ammunition



    JoB, it would help. But it would simply be another attempt at prohibition. Look at the history…of alcohol, drugs, anything else we’ve simply legislated. Responsible, law abiding people would comply.

    Unfortunately, however, with the proper knowledge, tools and resources, it’s a relatively easy task to produce, use and possibly distribute (given a lucrative enough market)……wait for it……

    Alcohol, meth, and even ammunition. (for examples)

    Not to mention smuggling from other countries.

    Again, I DO NOT know the answer, I just hope we approach it intelligently and don’t end up with some politicized, knee-jerk legislation that in the end, really doesn’t address the root cause.

    Sorry, I’m not trying to start a debate, I’m just trying to wrap me head around the issue and think it’s a much larger and more complex issue than many people realize.

    OK, truth be told: I’m rehabilitating from an injury and have too much time on my brain, so please don’t think I’m trying to start anything. I’m just enjoying the opportunity to share some intelligent and reasoned conversation.



    It is a tough problem, but if you want to talk about some possible helpful solutions NYC mayor Bloomberg laid out some ideas in an op-ed for USA Today.

    Why don’t we just stipulate A) no set of laws can instantly solve it all B) nothing can stop crazy people from doing crazy things C) we’re not going to get rid of the 2nd amendment D) we need to do something on a national level to create some kind of policy that might help the situation.

    Bloomberg’s ideas-First,he backs a renewed assault weapon ban, as well as a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.”Banning these weapons and ammunition does not mean there will never be another mass shooting. But these weapons were designed for mass killing, not hunting or self-defense. They do not belong in our communities.”

    The task force Obama announced will likely suggest this as well. This is looking do-able at this moment.

    He also suggests fixing the nation’s background check system, pointing out, “nearly half of all gun sales in the U.S. are conducted without a background check.” There are plenty of loopholes for people who aren’t allowed to buy or own guns.

    This would require a national policy. I don’t see why that can’t happen.

    Bloomberg also reprimands Congress for failing to appoint a new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives head for the past six years. In his news conference, President Obama addressed this as a problem Congress should fix, but Bloomberg suggests Obama make a recess appointment, which would not be subject to Congressional approval, after Congress breaks for the holidays. This seems do-able to me and it seems insane that Repubs have been able to hold up an appointment like this. Illustrating why we need the filibuster reforms.

    The other suggestions Bloomberg makes all involve the criminal justice system: making gun trafficking a felony, and asking the Justice Department to prosecute more people caught illegally buying guns, as well as the dealers who sell them illegally.

    Any of that seem sensible?



    ALL of that seems sensible. To me.



    CM: If you apologize for yourself one more time . . . I’ll shoot myself.


    I will never have a problem with comments like yours or deb’s. It is never a bad thing to say . . . It’s complicated. or But what about a-b-c-d-e ?

    Conversely, it’s never a GOOD thing to go off half-cocked (oops!) when making public policy.

    So I say . . . Yes! Let the debate begin, already. And let it be a vigorous one.

    What bugs me most is that for decades, pro-gun groups have effectively shot down any discussion (oops again) by wrapping themselves in the 2nd Amendment, bullying politicians, and threatening the rest of us with slogans like, “Want my gun? Come and get it.”

    That era finally seems to be coming to an end, and I for one am glad of it.


    Back to this question of how the law works. I think it is not correct to say laws are good only for keeping honest people honest. If that were true, then why are we putting so many dishonest people in prison?

    No, it seems to me that the threat of swift and sure punishment, in addition to keeping good people good, also scares the bejeezus out of the bad ones. And for the rest, there’s prison.

    Moreover, when it comes to guns, please consider that many criminals actually get theirs from non-criminals: at gunshows, through friends of friends, and so on . . .

    Meet Gun Show Sam

    Sam’s a good guy. Really.

    But what if he sells a gun to someone who later uses it for a crime?

    –Not his problem, right? Well, under the current system it’s not. And that’s why I’d like to change the current system.

    So what would be a good way to discourage good people from giving/selling guns to bad people?

    –A gun registry and a requirement that every gun transaction be recorded. Including gun “thefts.” With a gun registry, you could penalize anyone (not just dealers) for giving or selling a gun to someone who shouldn’t have one.

    Would this cover stolen guns? No. But on the other hand, it might catch a lot people who are transferring guns to felons under the cover of bogus robberies.



    Don’t take me wrong, DBG, I just don’t want to come across as the (unfortunately too vocal in my opinion) NRA type, Charlton Heston-like, “You can take my gun when you pry it from my blah blah blah”, you know the drill. That’s the only reason I’m apologizing.

    You have all pretty much figured out that I am a gun owner. At the same time, some people may be surprised that I am shocked at how easy it is to purchase firearms, legally or not.

    One of the problems that I have is that with all the background checks that are currently in place to purchase a firearm, there are too many loopholes. Obviously I’m agreeing with all of you about restrictions on private party sales and the gun show loophole.

    What bugs me most is the basic concept behind it all.

    To wit: I grew up in a house where the guns were stored in a display case in the den, because my parents (both of them) were proud of their collection and it was a point of pride for them. I never touched, or thought of touching any of them until I was told I could…and even then, it was only to use them for responsible, intended purposes, with adult supervision until they decided I was mature enough to be trusted with them.

    Those responsible uses were target, skeet and trap. No more, no less. Ever. End of story.

    So, the $100,000 question is: Where is that moral direction in our society?

    That is my concern. How does a government legislate what is essentially a moral compass for our society?

    Anyway, I’m just babbling.

    And just because it’s the internet and I can still type, I’d like to point out one thing.

    The M1 rifle or M1 Garand, which (can be argued) effectively won WW2, since the Germans and Japanese had not been able to recreate those rifles’ semiautomatic performance, not only were legal during the last Assault Weapons ban, but would still be legal in the new proposed Assault Weapons ban.

    Kind of a scary thought, isn’t it?

    I just don’t want us to end up making politically influenced legislation that bans things that really do not address the underlying issues, and somehow I feel that it’s an issue far beyond regulation, prohibition or some arbitrary limit on capacity or appearance.

    In other words, since I’m tired and need to go to bed: What ever happened to just simply not doing bad things because we were taught not to, and taking full personal responsibility for our actions?

    So am I now officially a curmudgeon or what? :)



    “What ever happened to just simply not doing bad things because we were taught not to, and taking full personal responsibility for our actions?”

    There has never been a time in the history of the world when everybody did that. and I boldly predict there never will be. That’s why we invented laws and the justice system, imperfect tho it may be.



    ditto what dobro said…



    Here are a few studies that show that a majority of kids cannot resist guns and there are others out there via Google. I’m sure there are some kids who can resist as in the case of CM, but they are more anomalies.

    Hardy MS, Armstrong FD, Martin BL, Strawn KN. A firearm safety program for children: they just can’t say no. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1996; 17 :216 –221

    Connor SM and Wesolowski KL. “They’re too smart for that”: predicting what children would do in the presence of guns. (Electronic article.) Pediatrics 2000; 111 :e109-e114

    Jackman GA, Farah MM, Kellerman AL, Simon HK. Seeing is believing: what do boys do when they find a real gun? Pediatrics 2001; 107 :1247 –1250

    Hardy MS. Teaching firearm safety to children: failure of a program. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2002; 23 :71 –76

    There WILL be a percentage of adults who don’t store weapons responsibily and there WILL be a large percentage of children in homes with guns that will figure out how to get to those guns. This much we know to be true! So how do we preserve our freedoms and cut down on gun death and injury by and of kids?

    Maybe by taking lessons from other activities we limit to adults… alcohol, driving, etc., and the laws around how we do that. Of course we won’t be able to stop it all. But maybe, just maybe we can start diminishing the numbers that shock us each year and maybe we can keep a few more guns out the hands of the mentally ill… and maybe, just maybe, we can begin to turn the tide on this problem. We have to start somewhere. I would like to very much to remove the image in my head of 6 year old little kids being gunned down in their classrooms at school.



    So the NRA guy says the solution is armed guards in every school. Every school. Starting in two weeks, when kids come back from holiday break. I suppose this is the Repubs idea of a jobs program. That is the most insane, impossible to implement, impossible to pay for,and just plain stupid idea you could put on the table. And it took these clowns a week to come up with it. Any truly responsible gun owner who is an NRA member should be on the phone right now.



    This harebrained scheme does not surprise me at all coming from the NRA. They have always said that the answer to gun violence in public places is . . . get this . . . more guns.

    After the Aurora massacre, NRA types were claiming that if everyone in the theater had been carrying, someone would’ve taken down the shooter before he could’ve done much damage.

    This is how these people think, so don’t be surprised at anything they say.



    “Any truly responsible gun owner who is an NRA member should be on the phone right now.”

    Dobro, that is the truth. Unfortunately, an extremely large percentage of the responsible gun owners that I associate with want absolutely nothing to do with the NRA. Also unfortunately, the NRA will not listen to anyone who doesn’t pay their dues, which would be, to many of us, similar to financially supporting a political party or candidate that you have nothing but distaste for. (Oh darn, I ended a run-on sentence with a preposition!)

    I have nothing but disgust for their latest position, but I also know that because of that, I am not the NRA’s demographic. They do not represent me or my friends.

    Can I point back to my own post regarding not wanting knee jerk reactions? Point made, I believe.

    Total thread hijack, DOBRO, is that a Gibson or a National in your avatar? I’m jealous. Mine is a home-made cigar box 3 string…and I still haven’t figured it out.



    That guitar is a 1930’s era Dobro brand dobro. Gibson bought the rights to the Dobro brand name several years ago but Dobro was its own company from the 1920s forward.



    You are a very lucky person. I’d love to find even an early Gibson/National, but to have or find and restore an early real Dopyera Brother’s guitar would put a big smile on my face. Even if I couldn’t play it the way it deserved.

    Sorry for the complete hijack.

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