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“Those who say that you can solve this problem (of school shootings) with gun control are engaging in a fantasy. Can you prevent some cases of this by locking up all the guns? Sure. Is that politically possible in the near term in the United States? No. My problem with the gun control argument is that it so grossly over-simplifies what’s going on here. …

“You know, we had tons and tons of guns in this country and no school shootings for a long time. So school shootings are not a necessary or inevitable consequence of having lots of guns. What we’re looking at here is a powerful, contagious adolescent cultural pathology that has used the availability of guns to extend its reach.

“Now, let me say one crucial thing here. This should in no way undermine the importance of gun control. Gun control can solve the much bigger problem of the kind of un-premeditated shootings done in the heat of passion or drunkenness or drug use that claim the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every year. That’s the reason to ban guns.

“School shootings are a wholly separate and complex phenomenon. Let’s not muddy the waters by trying to extend an incredibly powerful and important social initiative to this specific difficult issue of school shootings.” – Malcolm Gladwell in Malcolm Gladwell on Understanding School Shooters [via]

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  1. ‘Gun control can solve the much bigger problem of the kind of un-premeditated shootings done in the heat of passion or drunkenness or drug use that claim the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every year. That’s the reason to ban g uns.’

    First, there aren’t ‘tens of thousands of Americans’ murdered every year, premeditated or not, and the majority of the murders are gang related. Don’t hold your breath on MS13 giving up their g uns or not being able to procure illegal weapons. Second, most of the incidents he describes are incidents of domestic violence where the man is almost always perfectly capable of un-premeditated murder with a wide variety of weapons such as kitchen knives, baseball bats or bare hands. Third, what banning g uns does do is prevent the weak from defending themselves from the strong.

    Just because a broken clock happens to be right at the moment doesn’t mean it’s not broken.

    • And the real factor in domestic murder is not the presence of a gun, but the drug use, alcohol abuse, and/or violent/criminal history of the people in the home. This is how the anti gunners lie about guns in the home, they take violent homes with drugs and alcohol abuse, and try to say that normal homes with guns are just as dangerous. Criminals in the home will do what criminals do……women need to have better partners, it isn’t the gun that is the problem.

      • True. In fact it is the presence of a person with criminal record that is the severely elevated risk factor in domestic murder be it of partners or children, not any particular weapon.

      • In the case of domestic violence as well as suicide, the actor will use whatever is available. I’ve seen a wide range of cases over the years. One guy used a piece of wood intended for the fireplace to bludgeon his wife to death in the middle of winter. Golf clubs, the family car, kitchen utensils including rolling pins and knives, electricity (radios, heaters, hair dryers, etc), gas, etc. have all been used. Suicides have included cars in garages, pills and/or alcohol, razor/razor blades, poison, intentionally driving against traffic, etc. You can’t permanently stop someone from committing an act of violence against another, or to take their own life if that is their intent. Sooner or later they will find a way.

    • “My problem with the gun control argument is that it so grossly over-simplifies what’s going on here.” The first step in a journey of a thousand miles . . .

      More than anything else, we need voters to understand that death-by-gunshot is NOT a SINGLE kind-of-issue. At the most elementary level of classification, we distinguish among:
      1. suicides
      2. homicides
      3. accidents

      These three phenomena have nothing to do with one-another, excepting for the instrument. The most cost-effective solutions to suicides won’t inform those applicable to homicides. If – and to the extent – of practical substitutes (rope, garrote), instrument-control is ineffective.

      We ought to applaud gun-controllers who seem to grasp this first insight

  2. And, for what it’s worth, this was published back in October 2015. (No “edit” button for some reason.)

  3. …Can you stop unwanted people or relatives from taking your car….No…Not all the time…How many parents have had their 16- 18 yr go off with the family car…Happens more often than one thinks…Not to mention strangers steal cars all the time….

    • I know I took my dad’s 1969 Malibu Classic for a joyride with a girlfriend. Man was he mad…loved that car😄. Make all the laws you want. It sure stopped all those illegal drugs…

  4. Always fun to watch the more STEMy ones get brought so close to the edge by reason only to be yanked back by their politics. I can see them now all disheveled in a room of flying papers, hands up in exacerbation, shouting “but gun control has to be the answer!!”

  5. Blame guns for all of society’s ills. No reason to put the blame where it belongs. The lack of a mental health system. Media glorifying the criminal who comits the crime. The justice system for not locking them when they show their hand by their previous deviant actions.

    • AS to the justice system, a mandatory death sentence if you take a life during the commission of a crime would deter a lot of potential shooters/murderers. I realize it would do nothing to stop the suicide shooter, but IMO it would make some shooters think about consequences. But will gun grabbers get behind a mandatory death sentence? Probably not.

      • No, it wouldn’t. The evidence from looking at places where the death penalty was started and or stopped puts lie to this bit of ‘common sense.’

        The reason is pretty clear when you think about it. People don’t commit murders thinking that they’ll get caught. Many of them don’t think about the consequences at all, or they wouldn’t do it.

        So you can say that the death penalty would do some things- it can certainly prevent more violence from the defendant in prison if enacted quickly (it never is). But there is zero evidence that it ‘deters’ anyone more than, say, spending every day for the rest of their life in prison.

        • Deter does not only involve the thought process of the agent. But the ability as well . An executed person cannot commit murder. A person put in jail for life even without parole, can very often be paroled, and can — and DO commit subsequent violent crime including murder.

          And people also commit murder in prison while serving life sentences, both of other prisoners — and of guards and hostages.

      • Someone who gets a death sentence and is put to death, will never kill again, by definition. The logic is very straightforward and clear.

  6. Gladwell’s interesting in how he mixes firmer insights with squishier speculations … as long as he gets to sound clever n please the right people. So, clever and grounded, to note school shootings didn’t happen. Then assume that gun control gotta be based on … What?

    Sort the TED talk template.

    This is something like the Motte n Bailey rhetoric, except with how firm the argument. It’s a bait n switch on how sure vs how far.

    Lawrence Lessig does something similar. His reasoning about I P n licenses is more specific, while his “solutions” about “broken” politics are more speculation. But, he’s for or against the right people, so…

    Lessig’s squishy notions of direct e-democracy amount to “government by Facebook” which in practice The Right People don’t like so much, so, he’s quiet about that now. Some folks had a “Who watches the watchers?” critique from day 1, but that was crap until we could accuse the right people of the problem – discuss.

    Pinker is interestingly different. He says sagely challenging things that don’t put off his audience. Then he shuts up when the next implication would be uncomfortable.

    All three are academics. Contrast with Taleb, who puts out closely reasoned, but uncomfortable ideas. Or Scott Adams. This does ‘t mean they are right. Indeed, clearer reasoning leaves them open to more concrete challenges.

    This is the opposite of one of Clay Shirky’s techno-utopian aphorisms about free communication on the interwebz: “Strong opinions weakly/ held.” In the event, that has gone the opposite way: squishy meanings, but by god we’ve taken a position, n B T W, you suck. All this easy content n disintermediation made a haven for tribes, not a platform for finding truth. Wikipedia got invested by a gaggle of right thinkers, shading this “reference” toward a P O V, n cliques. And so it goes…

    But, what else in a world where The Watchmen is understood to be an anti-Nixon screed – because we “know” he’s a bad guy – when it’s about … well, not that.

  7. I’m sure all those broken homes created by the welfare state (as Mr. Sowell has pointed out so often) have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the problem…

  8. Ohh, you almost got it! Gonna have to be faster that that.

    Why is it that while these these people recognize that murders still occur in the face of the failure of banning alcohol and drugs to prevent these tragedies, that these people still think a ban on guns is going to work?

  9. The left always seems to think that control is the route to betterness. Reality has proven reliably that the opposite is true. The more we regulate, the more crime rises. It seems so obvious, but so many refuse to see. However, once you realize that safety and prosperity are NOT the goals of the left, their refusal to accept what is so plainly obvious begins to make sense.

  10. It’s like he wants to use his brain, but cant quite take that final step to do so.

    Guns have been available to the masses in most forms for almost two centuries now- well beyond the muskets antis like to point at -and somehow we’re only having issues now. He’s spot on there. But he cant quite bring himself to accept where that logical conclusion leads, and his brain turns off. Where is that statistic concerning gun use in drunken rampages and drug use? Is it anything like the 25,000 person a year suicide rate of japan sans firearms, that is to say enough to deprive everybody else of their constitutional rights because of known deviants?

    Kinda doubt it.

  11. Malcolm Gladwell in a nutshell: Articulate a broad principle that’s surprisingly perceptive, and then ruin it with absolute ignorance of facts pertaining to said principle.

  12. Not only is the number of gun murder absurdly inflated with “tens of thousands. and Gladwell has idiotically packed in the 2/3 of gun death that are suicide as “murders” in the past, but

    – Between 85% to 94% of US murder is criminal on criminal.
    – He wont mention the central trend: US gun murder has been on a long term DECLINE, the rate was more than twice as high a generation ago (when there were gun bans, less guns, and 1/10 the number of concealed carriers, and 350,000 “Assault rifles” in civilian hands instead of the 20 to 40 million today.)

  13. Solving all the problems related to murder in our society by gun control is a pipe dream of the liberal left. Sorry folks that ship sailed ages ago – it can’t be done. The only guns you will take are those owned by law abiding citizens – it will have ZERO effect on criminals who will NOT turn in their guns, because they’re criminals and don’t care about the law. Why is this so hard to understand? As for “heat of the moment” murders, well, there’s plenty of other weapons out there that can and would be used in place of a firearm. Knives, bats, metal pipes, ice picks, iron pans, vases, electric guitars, hammers, screw drivers, wires, rope, plastic bags, small furniture, lamps, TV’s, computers, chair leg, pesticide, bathroom chemicals, etc, all can kill someone (just from looking around the house briefly). If someone wants to kill someone else, you certainly don’t need a gun to do it and frankly, it’s often a poor choice of weapon. The liberal left is simply terrified of guns because they don’t understand them – a fear of the unknown – not to mention how the TV, gaming and movie industries portray them. Why do we allow those industries to portray such violence and teach our kids how to kill? It’s all glamorized. Maybe we should look at banning the use of guns and other violence in those industries first and see how that works – we all may be pleasantly surprised.


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