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View Full Version : Very good editorial - The Riddle of the Gun


Swiss
01-03-2013, 7:22 PM
From a blog actually...

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-riddle-of-the-gun

Libertarian71
01-03-2013, 7:58 PM
Thanks for sharing. Harris is a neuroscientist and philosopher, one of the "new atheists," along with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens. It's good to see a public intellectual like him, not usually associated with the Right, speak out in favor of gun rights.

badicedog
01-03-2013, 8:01 PM
Thanks for sharing...

smogcity
01-03-2013, 8:05 PM
best i've read

aileron
01-03-2013, 8:40 PM
He does suggest its okay to ban assault weapons. Still don't like that idea because its a bogus term that is re-created as we speak to classify any weapon an elected official wants it to be. Or thinks will describe enough firearms to ban this time around without upsetting too much of the base.

otteray
01-03-2013, 9:04 PM
I like some of it- until he discusses further bans and the purpose of the 2nd A. Then he loses credibility as being for protecting our right.

speedrrracer
01-03-2013, 9:07 PM
He's dead wrong on a few issues, and shows a remarkable resistance to learning, even when he is in the presence of facts. Later in his piece, he seems to hit his groove and does a much better job.

First, "Ordinary altercations can become needlessly deadly in the presence of a weapon." as a reason why CCing should not be allowed? Flat out silly. Yes, danger exists in this world, but when the facts clearly show that the benefits far outweigh the dangers, we accept the risks and move on.

The odd thing here is that he cites, in his footnotes, the study that shows how CC'ers commit crimes at a rate even less than police. So he is at least aware that CCers are NOT escalating altercations. Puzzling.

Further, he later mocks gun-control advocates, saying they "seem always to imagine the worst possible scenario: legions of untrained, delusional vigilantes producing their weapons at a pin drop and firing indiscriminately into a crowd." Yet he doesn't realize he himself is guilty of this in his position on CCing.

Also, the "path to increased public safety" is NOT "reasonably clear" by restricting standard capacity magazines. Again, resistant to facts, he mentioned the Virginia Tech shooting, but clearly failed to learn it's lesson -- reloading isn't a problem.

He also fails to realize that standard capacity magazines are potentially life saving in the event of multiple assailants or a defensive standoff, and misses the obvious logic that if a 10-rd magazine is "safer" because a hero could potentially tackle a psycho while the psycho is reloading once every 10 rounds as opposed to once every 30 with a standard capacity magazine, then we should all be limited to flintlock weapons simply to maximize heroic tackling opportunities.

On balance, our side is better served by this piece's existence than we would be by it's absence, but I think an excellent author like Sam could produce a far superior piece with a bit more effort.

MichaelKent
01-03-2013, 9:37 PM
As a general fan of Sam Harris, I was still reluctant to read his blog on this topic this morning. Harris is a brilliant man, but he does tend to be left-leaning, so I was anticipating a case against guns. Imagine my pleasant surprise to find that he's a gun owner, is mostly knowledgeable about the facts, and he offers a very thoughtful take on this issue intended to appeal to both sides yet mostly defends the second amendment and gun ownership. His scathing critique of the media coverage is spot on, the inaccuracies in the reporting of firearms truly is embarrassing. It's also nice to see gangs and the war on drugs as a potential explanation rather than the silly "violent video games!" thing.

While I don't agree with him on everything (especially the magazine thing), he nevertheless makes a lot of very good points, and I've forwarded this to most of my friends (pro gun and anti alike). I'll share one of my favorite paragraphs and one of the best claims for armed law-abiding citizens (and a criticism of "gun free zones") that I've ever seen:

"Needless to say, it is easy to see how things can go badly when anyone draws a firearm defensively. But when an armed man enters an office building, restaurant, or school for the purpose of murdering everyone in sight, things are going very badly already. Imagine being one of the people in the Houston video trapped in the office with no recourse but to hide under a desk. Would you really be relieved to know that up until that moment, your workplace had been an impeccably gun-free environment and that no one, not even your friend who did three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be armed? If you found yourself trapped with others in a conference room, preparing to attack the shooter with pencils and chairs, can you imagine thinking, “I’m so glad no one else has a gun, because I wouldn’t want to get caught in any crossfire”? Despite what the New York Times and dozens of other editorial pages have avowed in the weeks since Newtown, it isn’t a vigilante delusion to believe that guns in the hands of good people would improve the odds of survival in deadly encounters of this kind. The delusion is to think that everyone would be better off defending his or her life with furniture."

Plus the bit about concealed carry permit holders committing less crimes than Police Officers is fascinating.

He does suggest its okay to ban assault weapons. Still don't like that idea because its a bogus term that is re-created as we speak to classify any weapon an elected official wants it to be. Or thinks will describe enough firearms to ban this time around without upsetting too much of the base.

In fairness to Sam Harris, he suggested the opposite:

"The problem, therefore, is that with respect to either factor that makes a gun suitable for mass murder—ease of concealment (a handgun) or range (a rifle)—the most common and least stigmatized weapons are among the most dangerous. Gun-control advocates seem perversely unaware of this. As a consequence, we routinely hear the terms “semi-automatic” and “assault rifle” intoned with misplaced outrage and awe."

But you may be referring to this:

"A renewed ban on “assault rifles”—nearly the only concrete measure that anyone is talking about—will do very little to make our society safer. It is not, as many advocates seem to believe, an important “first step” in achieving a sane policy with respect to guns. It seems likely to be a symbolic step that delays real thinking about the problem of guns for another decade or more. By all means, let us ban these weapons. But when the next lunatic arrives at a school armed with legal pistols and a dozen ten-round magazines, we should be prepared to talk about how an assault weapons ban was a distraction from the real issue of gun violence."

Note how he repeats that "assault weapons" are a distraction from the real issue, and is not an important first step. The "by all means let's ban these weapons" seems more of a hypothetical lead in to his next point (that it would do no good) than a serious statement. Like a "go ahead, jump off that cliff, but when you splatter on the bottom you can tell us all how it felt."

However, while he defends rifles by pointing out they are responsible for far less homicides than bare hands or knives, I do disagree with him that high capacity magazines are a clear cut issue. He doesn't spend a lot of time on it, but clearly cases like Virginia tech show that devastation can occur just as easily without "high capacity" magazines.

First, "Ordinary altercations can become needlessly deadly in the presence of a weapon." as a reason why CCing should not be allowed? Flat out silly. Yes, danger exists in this world, but when the facts clearly show that the benefits far outweigh the dangers, we accept the risks and move on.

The odd thing here is that he cites, in his footnotes, the study that shows how CC'ers commit crimes at a rate even less than police. So he is at least aware that CCers are NOT escalating altercations. Puzzling.

The footnote clarifies the point he was making about armed citizens, pointing out that while CCW permit holders are safe (safer evidently than even the police), many people illegally conceal carry. It's these people he seems to have reservations about. To an extent, I see where he's coming from. People who lack the discipline implied by legit CCW may be more likely to turn to the gun unnecessarily, without thinking things through - particularly for gang members!

aileron
01-03-2013, 9:52 PM
In fairness to Sam Harris, he suggested the opposite:

But you may be referring to this:

"A renewed ban on “assault rifles”—nearly the only concrete measure that anyone is talking about—will do very little to make our society safer. It is not, as many advocates seem to believe, an important “first step” in achieving a sane policy with respect to guns. It seems likely to be a symbolic step that delays real thinking about the problem of guns for another decade or more. By all means, let us ban these weapons. But when the next lunatic arrives at a school armed with legal pistols and a dozen ten-round magazines, we should be prepared to talk about how an assault weapons ban was a distraction from the real issue of gun violence."

Note how he repeats that "assault weapons" are a distraction from the real issue, and is not an important first step. The "by all means let's ban these weapons" seems more of a hypothetical lead in to his next point (that it would do no good) than a serious statement. Like a "go ahead, jump off that cliff, but when you splatter on the bottom you can tell us all how it felt."



Yup... The go ahead statement is what I'm referring to... and while I understand your point about a lead in. A have a feeling a lot of folks are not the type to really consider it as such and his comment does not seem to be at odds with it. So it is viewed by me as a promotion of such thinking; sort of like hunters are about AWB's. He probably needs to go shoot a few AR-15's to get over the hump. Unless he's already there and just doesn't care or he's talking to a liberal mind set. If so hes a genius.

Once again I'll re-affirm. I get his point and you're right a lot of people it might just sink it that an AWB is a waste of time.

LoneYote
01-03-2013, 10:04 PM
He did have a very strong writing style but I agree that he lost me on a few points. The magazine issue being the largest as he highlights only the negative side of the argument and poses no positive as he does with other points.

randomBytes
01-03-2013, 11:20 PM
he made a lot of good points, but afghanistan would suggest that he's wrong on the topic of small arms being sufficient to worry a modern army.

Tempus
01-04-2013, 12:48 AM
Long read but worth it. Makes some pretty interesting and strong points.

Rossi357
01-04-2013, 1:09 AM
Too much fail in the artilce to comment on. He talks in circles.

CaliforniaLiberal
01-04-2013, 1:58 AM
Clearly written, powerful arguments against stupid and silly gun control proposals. Well worth sharing.

Mulay El Raisuli
01-04-2013, 9:03 AM
He's dead wrong on a few issues, and shows a remarkable resistance to learning, even when he is in the presence of facts. Later in his piece, he seems to hit his groove and does a much better job.

First, "Ordinary altercations can become needlessly deadly in the presence of a weapon." as a reason why CCing should not be allowed? Flat out silly. Yes, danger exists in this world, but when the facts clearly show that the benefits far outweigh the dangers, we accept the risks and move on.

The odd thing here is that he cites, in his footnotes, the study that shows how CC'ers commit crimes at a rate even less than police. So he is at least aware that CCers are NOT escalating altercations. Puzzling.

Further, he later mocks gun-control advocates, saying they "seem always to imagine the worst possible scenario: legions of untrained, delusional vigilantes producing their weapons at a pin drop and firing indiscriminately into a crowd." Yet he doesn't realize he himself is guilty of this in his position on CCing.

Also, the "path to increased public safety" is NOT "reasonably clear" by restricting standard capacity magazines. Again, resistant to facts, he mentioned the Virginia Tech shooting, but clearly failed to learn it's lesson -- reloading isn't a problem.

He also fails to realize that standard capacity magazines are potentially life saving in the event of multiple assailants or a defensive standoff, and misses the obvious logic that if a 10-rd magazine is "safer" because a hero could potentially tackle a psycho while the psycho is reloading once every 10 rounds as opposed to once every 30 with a standard capacity magazine, then we should all be limited to flintlock weapons simply to maximize heroic tackling opportunities.

On balance, our side is better served by this piece's existence than we would be by it's absence, but I think an excellent author like Sam could produce a far superior piece with a bit more effort.


Agree with the part in bold. He's coming around, but he isn't on our side yet.


The Raisuli

GaryV
01-04-2013, 2:09 PM
I think it's a really good read for those on the anti side, to show then that a lot of their prejudices against guns are BS. But he has too much anti-BS still in it for it to truly be considered a great article. Besides those things already cited by others, such as the magazine ban and writing off the ability of an armed populace to stand up to a modern military, he also continues to perpetuate the blatant lie that sales at gun shows and over the internet do not require a federal background check. Anyone who has spent any significant time in either venue knows that most sales are made by licensed dealers, not private individuals, and so go through the exact same process as at a gun shop, and interstate sales on-line have to as well, even if between two private parties. So his assertion (made twice) that 40% of gun sales get around the background checks, is seriously incorrect.