If gun control isn’t the answer, then what is?

Once again, a mass shooter has demonstrated to the world the meaning of the word “evil.” Whether it’s some racist kid with a funny haircut, an introverted former IRS agent with a gambling problem, a BLM activist angry about police brutality,  or a Norwegian right-wing anti-feminist, the carnage is brutal and horrifying. Predictably, people who don’t think very much about guns before such an attack immediately demand that “we” (whoever “we” is) “do something” to prevent it from happening ever again. That call is immediately amplified by those who would enforce greater restrictions on gun ownership. I have to warn you: I don’t have the answer to preventing mass shootings, or massacres, or Islamist terrorist attacks, or for that matter, drone bombings,  forced marches, ethnic cleansing, genocide, or the carnage of starvation and disease under totalitarian governments. The title question of this essay was one I answered on Quora over a year ago that’s continued to get upvotes and comments and shares, so I wanted to share the information in it with a broader readership:

If gun control isn’t the answer, what is?
The answer to what? The question doesn’t say, so let’s see what possible questions one might have in mind and try to answer them:

  • If gun control isn’t the answer to the rising rate of homicide in the US, what is?

A valid question, IF the homicide rate were rising in the US. It is not. It is declining.

Even as the number of guns is increasing

But maybe that wasn’t the question you meant to ask. Let’s try:

  • If gun control isn’t the answer to the horribly high rate of homicide in the US compared to other countries, what is?

That would be an excellent question. Except the US is nowhere near the top in terms of number of homicides per 100,000 people

Hmm. Perhaps that wasn’t the question you meant to ask. How about:

  • If gun control is not the answer to the epidemic of violence against women in the US, what is?

Ok, let’s try this:

  • If gun control is not the answer to the rising rate of violent deaths among blacks in the US, what is

I know. Let’s look at:

  • If gun control is not the answer to the rising rate of GUN homicides, what is?

Even if you believe it is tremendously better to be knifed, stabbed, bludgeoned, or strangled to death rather than shot, it looks like this one doesn’t apply either.

  • If gun control is not the answer to the rising rate of accidental GUN deaths in the US, what is?

Okay, okay. Let’s try a question that might actually not contain a false assumption:

  • If gun control is not the answer to the US’s high rate of GUN death compared to other countries, what is?

The US is 26th in the world in gun deaths. But, aha! It is the highest by far in number of gun deaths amongst the 12 top nations in the Human Development Index. This is true. So, if you have a strong preference for a different means of dying, gun control is your answer! It seems rather obvious that in a country with more guns, gun deaths are more common. I’d also hazard a wild guess that swimming pool drownings are  more common in Australia than in Canada, and murder by pushing someone off a mountain is probably more common in Switzerland than in the Netherlands.

Perhaps, though, you’re the type of person who is easily affected by emotional media coverage of mass shootings, especially at schools, which are a tiny fraction of a percentage of homicides, even of children. Thus:

  • If gun control is not the answer to mass shootings, what is?
  • First, let’s disabuse you of the notion that mass shootings are a phenomenon predominantly confined to the USA:

    All but one of the 20 worst non-governmental mass public shootings, 45 of the worst 50, occurred outside the United States, the majority of them in Africa.

Global mass shootings CPRC

…And Europe’s rate is 25% higher than that of the US despite much stricter gun laws:

US vs Europe Mass shootings

And it appears that  the majority of locations where mass shootings take place in the US are places where guns are prohibited.

  • However, it does appear that a sizable number of the US mass shooters were diagnosed as mentally ill in advance of the incident

Of course, there were literally millions of people diagnosed with mental illness who did NOT commit mass public shootings, or any shootings, for that matter.

Psychiatrists admit that they can barely do better than random chance at predicting which of their patients will become violent, according to The British Journal of Psychiatry. On the other hand, mentally ill people living in the community are 11 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the average person. The actual degree of effectiveness of guns as self-defensive deterrents to violent crime for a given individual is still not well-established, but one must wonder if disarming all or most mentally ill people might not cause more violent crimes than it prevents.

And, finally, here is a really good question, which I think a person with a penchant for supporting gun control really ought to ask but rarely do. It is the only question about gun use and gun control which actually proceeds from concern about a problem which is getting worse:

  • If gun control is not the answer to American’s rising rate of suicide, what is?

Unlike every other means of violent death, suicide in the US is actually increasing

Looking at the chart above, it appears possible that suicides can be reduced by around 30% by requiring a background check for private handgun sales. This is easily explained by the fact that a gun is the most effective way of committing suicide, so more attempts are likely to be successful when guns are readily available. The preference for guns among male suicide attempters explains part of men’s greater rate of successful suicides. Furthermore, most people who are dissuaded from committing suicide once do not go on to commit suicide later.

On the other hand, the evidence from Canada, where registration of all guns was required beginning in 1993, shows that the rate of gun suicide decreased by almost the exact same number that the rate of hangings (the second-most-effective means of suicide) increased

The author of that paper concludes, “There were 3,605 suicides in 2000 before the registry started and 3,741 in 2005. Clearly, this analysis suggests that the money wasted on registering guns would have been better spent on suicide prevention efforts.”

So, my question is this: it’s been pretty clearly established that gun control does not decrease violent crime; it does not even decrease mass shootings. It probably doesn’t even decrease suicides. The one thing it does is do is decrease the rate of gun crime, which we’ve seen just represents the substitution of other weapons for guns. So when are the people shrieking about “doing something” going to recognize the reality of the situation and start focusing on what might actually represent some sort of solution to these horrific and dramatic events which affect a tiny percentage of the population but have such a disproportionate affect on the national psyche and mythos? I would really like to know.

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The More People Trade, the Better Off Everyone Is

What’s the worst government statistic, based on whether it distracts from sound thinking and encourages bad policy? Well, I definitely think gross domestic income is a better measure than gross domestic product if we want insights on growth, so I’m not a big fan of GDP data. I’m even less enthused about the Gini Coefficient […]

via Time to Celebrate America’s Enormous Capital Surplus with the Rest of the World — International Liberty

9,000 years of anarchy in Ireland?

On the Mark

I posted once before on Ireland and their anarchy that lasted for more than a thousand years:

This most remarkable historical example of a society of libertarian law and courts first came to my attention while reading Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty. This was a society where not only the courts and the law were largely libertarian, but they were basically anarcho-capitalist in the modern sense of the phrase. This Celtic society was not some primitive society or tribe but rather it was a highly complex society. Ireland for centuries was the most advanced, most scholarly, and most civilized society in all of Western Europe. And all without a government!

Murray Rothbard documented the Irish Anarchy in his book “For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto were he wrote in part:

The most remarkable historical example of a society of libertarian law and courts, however, has been…

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Should Have Known Better

1.   Feel: Felt

Felt is fibers that have been rubbed and cooked and stretched until they are deformed, and by their deformity they have become intertwined. By being intertwined, they have become thicker but less flexible. Felt does not stretch. Wool, nylon, cashmere, rayon: it doesn’t matter. Felt is thick, heavy, dull. It gets wet and stays wet. It grows mold.

 

Children cut felt with safety scissors into the shape of hearts and glue on sequins and little pompons. They give each other these felt Valentines if they feel like it. Some teachers make every child give every other child a felt heart, but children have ways of making it known whether the gift is heartfelt: the snicker, eye roll, rude noise once the fat girl has turned away.

 

2.   See: Saw

A saw cuts wood, but thanks to the numbing and insensible action of modern anesthetics, people don’t remember that surgeons cut bones with saws as well. They cut bones with saws, skin with scalpels, and the layers of connective tissue that form a network within the body, they sever with scissors. Some of these look like children’s safety scissors. Some of them do not.

 

Surgeons cut into bodies with their owners’ full knowledge and consent, cutting, suctioning, ripping, and extracting things which people hope will make them better, change their lives. Do you like the response when they see new hairstyle or a new dress? Just wait until you see eyes light up at your new nose, lifted belly, and pumped-up ass! People form a judgment of you in less than three-quarters of a second of seeing you for the first time.
Fun fact: The scissors surgeons use can also be used to cut out hearts.

3.   Smell: Smelt

There will be a day when your panties turn yellow and you don’t know why. Your crotch will burn, especially when the boy who never looks at you is near. Your long bicycle rides alone will be a solace and an escape from the percolating pressure in your pelvis. The pumping of your thighs as you pedal makes them throb like iron. The moisture has an odor. You are afraid he can smell it. You want him to. You know he knows; you know he doesn’t know. Later, you will realize that boys mature later than girls, and he had no idea; he never caught a whiff and if he did, he probably thought it was the smelts at the fish market next door, where the crabs clambered up each other’s backs and pulled each other down, so none could escape.

4.   Hear: Herd

Cows produce methane when they fart and we are given to believe it will lead to the end of the world. The rude noise made when the fat girl turns away often sounds like a fart, and everyone reacts when they hear it with silence or nervous laughter. They are part of the cow herd. The truth is that there is no danger from cow farts, there never was; what causes the world to end is the sound.

 

The sound, and the silence. The silence is the silence of the ones who were thoughtful, but stand, corrected, following unspoken orders. They will not make eye contact in the future, now that hear has become herd. Their faces become bovine.

5.   Taste: Tasted

In the sense that it does not change when it becomes the past, this sense makes no sense. This sense is the sense which only lets us know when we transform its object within our bodies. This sense is the most private sense. This sense does not need to change to toast, test, tossed, when it has passed, because it is never really past.

 

The fat girl’s brain lights up like a Christmas tree, all dopamine, when the taste of chocolate cupcakes or fruit punch soda hits her mouth. At that moment, one or two of the herd will meet her eyes as though she was human. They see her joy, and raise her ante with disgust.

 

The flavor works its way into the fibrous network of her body, grape-like globules under the skin of her belly, butt, thighs, arms, cheeks, and chin. The taste is always with her, but she is the only one who is unaware of it; for her, it dies like a bell that’s rung, like a flash of lightning.

 

It’s the only way of knowing left to her.

The Time Is Now

This is really happening. The only people who don’t see that government—all government— is lying and manipulating and deceiving and intimidating us are the people who are religiously devoted to one faction or another. True believers, equally matched, who completely balance each other out! All the rest of us (the vast majority who are sane and reasonable) have to do is allow them to engage in their death grapple until they force each other off the cliff. What’s left? Chaos and anarchy? Yes, in the sense of chaos being an exquisitely interconnected system in which small changes can have great effects; yes, in the sense of anarchy being being the state of individual freedom and self-governance.

IMG_4282The free circulation of information is now making it clear that we are being fed lies to keep us in fear. Perhaps the only time a politician told the truth is when the master propagandist FDR said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” That he then proceeded to create a leviathan based on protecting the “tribe” from non-existent threats is just a demonstration of the cognitive dissonance inherent in an institution which claims to be keeping the peace even as it also claims a monopoly on force, fraud, spying, extortion, and violence.

It is only a matter of time before the entire world wakes up. The color revolutions of the early aughts were just a rehearsal, a mere shadow of the transformation in the offing. It may be that my nation of birth will be the last holdout, clinging desperately to its illusion of exceptionalism and its narcissistic addiction to dominance. But the foundation has already crumbled. The head is cut off the chicken and it’s running around the barnyard, not yet realizing  that it is dead.

Truth, Like Glass in the Street

I have not published in a long time. It has been hard to write truth in the face of lies. It has been hard to espouse consistent principles while watching the liars try to mold reality as though it were clay, mud, dough.

It has been easier for me to read novels, short stories, and nonfiction, to copy edit scientific manuscripts when they come, to watch entertaining series on DVD. The slow-motion car wreck will not end. The best and most faithful are, not crucified, but smeared with excrement and shunted aside. The truth sits like a diamond in the middle of an intersection full of shattered glass.

Yet, when I turn away from mass media, including online networks, I realize: The change is here. It is more profound than the posturing pompous pricks in power or the women caricaturing themselves in cuddly cunt costumes can even imagine! Every human in the entire world is waking up to the reality of individual agency and setting aside the collective fantasy of authority. Poverty is subsiding; population growth is slowing; warfare is guttering out like a flame whose fuel is exhausted.

The years ahead will truthfully see enlightenment in full flower.

2016: A hard rain

the fifth wave

Four Hairmen of the Apocalypse: Trump, Johnson, Wilders, GrilloFour Hairmen of the Apocalypse: Trump, Johnson, Wilders, Grillo

The Tipping-point of Revolt

In 2016, a furious political tempest ravaged the democratic world.  Popular politicians – presidents and prime ministers – were toppled from on high and hurled into oblivion.  Exotic creatures, originating far from the old mainstream, were raised to prominence and power.  Seemingly permanent structures, like the European Union, began to crack apart.  The two great institutions that hedge our lives, modern government and the nation-state, under the hard rain of events were shown to be increasingly helpless, dysfunctional, and disorganized – and not only in the bloody Middle East.

None of this was new.  The storm didn’t begin in 2016.  The crisis of the institutions was the theme of The Revolt of the Public, published in 2014.  A grinding subterranean struggle was already evident, then, between a networked public and the elites who control the great…

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News Sources Worth Checking Out

I have been asked repeatedly what my favorite news sources are so I thought I’d dash off my top ten pending further refinement (or expansion!) Please keep in mind that I am listing news sources I think offer original insights and aim for the truth but I don’t agree with or even vouch for every one of them in their entirety. One, for example, seems legit but then has a contributor who most definitely sold out along the way; some are mixed bags containing some truth but some disinfo as well; others have politics with which I don’t agree. I think these sources are worthwhile, however, either because they offer a different perspective, a deep insight or hard to find information. (For a quick scan of today’s headlines from across the web, scroll down the right column of this page.)

In no particular order other than top ten top-of-mind:

  1. Newsbud

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The Scapegoat and the Silence

The brouhaha about Trump’s most recent crudeness had me totally and utterly confused. Why could it be that the media, as well as authorities in the party which nominated him, are suddenly disavowing any allegiance to him over this one thing? This one thing, which is as common as a dead animal rotting by the side of the road?

Like most pretty young girls, I was subject to sexual harassment and sexual assault/attempted rape by figures of authority too many times to count in my youth, from middle school onwards. The only way to cope was to dissociate, wall it off in my psyche, and regard it as something unpleasant from which you try to move on, like stepping in dogshit on the street. One learns at an early age that it doesn’t even matter if anyone believes you when these things occur. The people you go to with complaints or allegations, be they family or teachers or police, may believe you. They probably do. But there is a certain type of silence which falls over them. A certain silence which says, “You are not a person any more. You are a problem.” This silence allows you to slink away; if you press your claim, you will be freshly verbally humiliated by your supposed protectors.

But the story which is most grievous to me comes from later days in my life, when I had matured and fattened past the point of being prey for such hyenas (And isn’t this one of the best arguments for remaining obese? Perhaps why many women do? But I digress.).

This story takes place in my town of Tallahassee, where a certain colleague of mine practices. He is board certified in a specialty. He practiced in partnership with a chiropractor who was the son of a respected local minister, a man who was politically connected, who eventually served on the Board of Chiropractic for many years.

It was my second or third year of practice that the first young woman came in to see me after leaving his practice. She was about 22. She had long straight hair, big eyes, a slender build, and large breasts. She said, “I know that chiropractic care can help me. But Dr. X insisted on having me undress completely for my examination and then he did a breast exam. Is that normal?” (No, it is not normal.)

Later, a massage therapist asked me if I was on the provider list for a particular HMO. This HMO restricted its chiropractor list to a very few practitioners, and getting added to the list is highly political; you have to “know someone” to get on the panel. I knew that Dr. X was on the panel, so I mentioned him. My massage therapist friend said, “No, this is for a female client. Dr. X uses, er, handles when he adjusts.” My friend put his hand over his nipple to make it clear what he meant.

Another young woman came in. Big eyes, big boobs. Cried when I asked why she was switching from Dr. X. Refused to say more.

A male patient mentioned his daughter had gone to see Dr. X and been molested; the male patient went to Dr. X’s office and threatened to punch him in the nose.

Another young woman who fit the description of Dr. X’s preferred victim came in. When I heard her story, I went into my office, printed out a copy of the Board of Chiropractic’s complaint form, and gave it to her with encouragement to report. I never saw her again.

I had lunch with Dr. X and another chiropractor. Dr. X was urging us to refer patients to him for evaluation in his specialty. I told him I would never do that because he fondled his patient’s breasts. He said “Well, you never know if a woman’s headaches could be caused by metastatic breast cancer, do you?” He changed the subject abruptly, excused himself, and left a few minutes later. The other chiropractor, a man, complimented me once we were alone for calling Dr. X on his behavior.

I was advertising for a receptionist and I interviewed one candidate who had worked six months for Dr. X. (I eventually hired someone else for the job). I asked her, “Why did you leave?”

“Because of what I saw there every day. Dr. X is a pervert and I couldn’t keep silent and be a part of that behavior.”

The next time a 22-year-old, big eyes and breasts, long hair, came in, and I saw on her paperwork she was a former patient of Dr. X, I had the complaint form all ready. All she needed to do was to write in her short description of the molestation and sign. I even had a stamped envelope ready, addressed to the Board. I gave out four more of those forms with the ready envelopes over the next fifteen years.

At a chiropractic society dinner one evening, I was seated next to a married couple who are both chiropractors. The husband mentioned that Dr. X was going to an offshore medical school and was thinking of becoming a gynecologist. I said, “Really? And would you want Dr. X doing your daughter’s first pelvic exam?”

The wife interrupted. “We are not talking about Dr. X any more at this meal. And, Peri, no, he is not touching my daughter.” She abruptly changed the subject. Women, like Hilary Clinton, learn the rules if they want to get ahead.

One day at a chiropractic convention, I met Dr. X’s former partner, who was by that time on the Board of Chiropractic. We were standing in a registration line together. I asked him point-blank why nothing ever happened to Dr. X and how he could stand to be associated with him.

“I was never associated with Dr. X. And I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. And that silence came over him. You know, that silence I talked about? When you stop being a person and you become a problem? That silence. And I knew at that moment, if I wanted my chiropractic license to remain clear of discipline, I had better shut up about Dr. X.

My point is: men in positions of power commit this type of behavior wholesale, every day, everywhere, in public and in private, and are protected by both men and women who overlook it. From Kennedy through Clinton, Presidents have behaved this way, and they’ve been given a pass by their subordinates, their opposition, and the media. The only difference with Trump is that he never put a hypocritical face on it; he was openly a pig from the very first day he hit the public eye, and he has never changed.

So what’s up, that all of a sudden, his supporters seem to have “woken up” to what a pig he is? It surely wasn’t that video; he’s said things in public, on record, many times which were just as offensive. The only way I can understand this story is as a scapegoating narrative. The scapegoat is an ancient custom; a goat is chosen to represent the sins of the village. The goat is driven out by the shouting of the whole village and banished to the wilds, to be eaten by wolves, or stoned to death just beyond the village gate and left for scavengers. The primitive archetype is saying: drive Trump out and government will be clean and pure again.

Ludicrous! Nonsense! Some people, given power over other people, will abuse that power. Power thus attracts people who want to commit abuse. If their taste runs towards sexual abuse, sexual abuse will happen and the victims will be powerless to stop it. This was true in the days of the Renaissance, when the Pope was the protector. It’s true today.

These life experiences are part of why my political beliefs changed over the years. In my teens and twenties, I was a radical feminist, a socialist progressive. I bushwhacked into the wilderness for a week on Election Day 1980 to avoid watching Reagan be elected. I listened to Maya Angelou’s “On the Bright Pulse of Morning” and wept for joy. However, I evolved. Now, on some days I am a bleeding-heart libertarian. Other days, I would be best described as an anarchist. Whatever the label, I have certain core convictions, certain consistent principles.

The first of those principles is this: whenever and wherever possible, deny others power and authority over you and over those you care about. And the second goes hand in hand with the first: care about the helpless.