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Good Guys With Guns, and 194 More Dead Children

[ 177 ] December 15, 2013 |

Relentless in bringing to light the problems with limited regulation of firearms, on Friday Mother Jones discussed the 194 children killed by guns since Newton. They break it down as 103 homicides, 84 accidents, three suicides, and four “unclear” (but just as dead). 127 were killed in their own homes:

And the vast majority of them were killed in homes—127 in their own, and another 30 in the homes of relatives, friends, or neighbors.

In 39 cases, children were shot intentionally in their own homes by their parents or adult guardians, accounting for more than a third of the 103 total homicides. And out of 84 total accidental shooting deaths, at least 49 involved kids handling a firearm left unsecured inside a home.

And worse, in “accidental” cases, adults are rarely held responsible:

Moreover, when it comes to the accidental gun deaths of children, adults are rarely held criminally responsible. In 72 cases in which a child or teen pulled the trigger, killing themselves or other kids, we found only 4 cases in which an adult was convicted. (Charges may still be pending in some cases.) In part that may be because only 14 states and the District of Columbia have strong negligence laws with respect to children and firearms.

Given my pessimism about progressive change on this issue, one of the best things we can do is what Mother Jones has been doing: stubbornly publicise the issue, every aspect of the issue (including the obvious political economic links between the firearm industry, the NRA, and an unwillingness as a society to confront this issue) and hope for marginal, yet consistent, change in public opinion.

One step we can take as a society is to eliminate the concept of accident when a child has access to a gun in an unsupervised situation. Regardless of where or how or why, if a child gets his or her hands on a firearm, it’s not an accident. It should be legally characterised as reckless negligence, and the responsibility for the resulting injury or death should rest with the adult.

In other words, a child gets your gun and does something stupid? It’s your fucking fault, and you are criminally negligent.

And of those 194 dead children, where the hell were all the good guys we’ve been promised?

Post-script: (A girl’s seven year old voice, in a beautiful English accent).”What are you writing, daddy?”

“Nothing you’ll need to worry about any time soon, sweetheart. You can go back to sleep.”

 

Comments (177)

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  1. Bartleby says:

    What is it even like without an abundance of guns around all the time? I can’t even imagine the situation as a thought exercise. Any time I try, I just end up imagining a Middle Earth-type society instead of a modern society without guns. They are just too prevalent over here, and it’s depressingly scary.

    A lot of gun advocates are absolutely convinced they will need to use their gun in one of these dangerous situations (and soon). Not infrequently, they also believe they will perform better than trained police officers whenever the inevitable situation arises. I personally know several that complete the trifecta by disregarding any evidence that more guns lead to more violence, so sure are they that guns reduce violence.

    A lot of strawmen and anecdata here, so it’s not great as an argument, but I really am interested in what it’s like without guns everywhere.

    • guthrie says:

      Guns? What guns? You just don’t think about them at all, and you don’t worry about getting accidentally shot. It’s just something that never enters your head*, like having to fill out massive forms and hand over your credit card to get hospital treatment.
      Or in other words, it is hard to explain because it’s like trying to explain the concept of air and living on the surface to a water dwelling creature.

      * obvious exceptions being the armed response teams and gangsters who have guns and their friends/ enemies, and people who live in high crime areas, but since they are usually poor, often immigrants, nobody cares about them.

      • slightly_peeved says:

        In Australia, given the relatively low gap between rich and poor, you do see some gun violence in well to do areas. that being said, it is still, by and large, gang-on-gang violence. worrying about it happening to you would be like worrying about lightning strikes.

        One aspect of it in Australia – there are very few places in the country where I would fear for my life if I was walking around at night. there’s a few places I’d fear getting punched, and that can certainly be fatal, but the chances of someone shooting me are so low as to not be on the radar. I’m pretty happy about walking drunk through any Australian city at 2am, provided I’m in well lit areas and preferably have some company. even alone, I’m far more afraid of losing my wallet than my life.

    • Major Kong says:

      I believe it’s called “Europe”.

      Yes there are guns in Europe but they’re pretty tightly controlled. The laws vary by country of course.

      It’s not an inherent part of the culture like it is here.

    • Nathanael says:

      Also “Canada”.

      They have a strict safety and marksmanship test before people can get guns.

      The accidental gunshot rate went WAAAAAY down when they installed this. It’s close to zero now.

  2. herr doktor bimler says:

    the obvious political economic links between the firearm industry, the NRA, and an unwillingness as a society to confront this issue

    Seems from this side of the world that the arms dealers in the US are industriously creating an atmosphere of terror (by selling guns to people) and then using that atmosphere to demand their political agenda (Oh noes, there are all these crazy scary people with guns shooting up schools, you need to change the laws to make it easier to buy guns!). Isn’t there a word for that? Starts with ‘T’?

  3. Lee Rudolph says:

    A tiny bit of good news from a tiny state. (Maybe Loomis will post at length on this.)

  4. LeeEsq says:

    The main issue is that a lot of Americans feel very passionate about their guns. They love them and hoard them. Thats why we have just as many guns as people. They more or less have the Constitution as interpreted by current case law on their side and powerful economic and political interests to further support them. Besides gun control, we also need a mass gun confiscation program. Unless we can get more Americans to be just as passionate as gun control and confiscation than we will not get anywhere.

    • Major Kong says:

      I don’t see that happening. Even if I thought it was a good idea, I doubt they’d get many volunteers to go door-to-door in rural Idaho confiscating guns.

      • LeeEsq says:

        The problem is that without gun confiscation, without really reducing the number of guns in circulation, than you really don’t change anything. Even if we can pass meaningful gun control legislation and have it stick; the number of guns is too great. Accidents, homicides, and suicides are still going to happen. You need to find a way to get rid of hundreds of millions of guns or nothing changes.

        • Nathanael says:

          Buybacks reduce the number in circulation quite quickly…

          …if there’s some way to prevent dangerous idiots from buying more.

          Canada’s gun control laws seem to be quite effective.

        • GoDeep says:

          The problem is that without gun confiscation, without really reducing the number of guns in circulation, than you really don’t change anything.

          That’s the reason I’ve largely given up on gun control, but I read recently that ~3% of gun dealers account for ~60% of the guns used in crime. So we might not win a War on Guns, but if we could take down that 3% of gun dealers, that’d be quite an event.

          • Malaclypse says:

            I read recently that ~3% of gun dealers account for ~60% of the guns used in crime.

            I read recently that 97.43% of the unsupported statistics on the internet, particularly the wildly implausible ones like the above, are made up.

            • GoDeep says:

              Your snarky comment was right. I was wrong. There. You have it. I hope you’re happy now.

              It wasn’t 3%, it was 1%. Fuhshizzi.

              According to data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, approximately 1 percent of the nation’s gun stores are the source of 57 percent of the firearms traced to crimes. It took the Washington-based lobbyist group Americans for Gun Safety six years and three lawsuits to get the names of the gun stores that sell a disproportionate number of the guns traced to crimes.

              The group’s study found that just 120 dealers in 22 states sold nearly 55,000 guns linked to crime in five years. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=129253

              Try again, Mal.

              • Dave says:

                So, 55,000 guns. Out of 300 million. If you publicly, ruthlessly and permanently shut down that avenue of acquisition, exactly how long do you think it would take for another to open up?

  5. jon says:

    Too bad there wasn’t a good guy with a gun right there to keep those kids from getting killed by guns. Clearly, more guns and fewer regulations are the answer.

  6. victorkiloalpha says:

    Longtime reader, first time poster:
    Look, I’m not a gun rights fanatic, and consider myself pretty moderate. But, a good guy with a gun was present recently in Colorado- the Sheriff’s deputy had one when he entered the library, and that action is credited with causing the shooter to commit suicide. Is it really that far of a stretch to say that a police officer should be stationed in every school?

    Also, consider this: the NRA isn’t driven by it’s corporate donors. If they were, the NRA would be all for Universal Background Checks- Gun Manufacturers lose money every time a non-background checked gun is sold, because those are private sales: All FFLs selling new guns already require checks. The Gun Manufacturers are driven by Gun Owners- and any company that breaks with the NRA gets hit with a boycott and might go out of business.

    Finally, its not really clear if gun laws will actually help: Mexico and Honduras among many other nations have strict gun control laws, and still have skyrocketing crime. Switzerland and Israel traditionally had very low levels of crime, and high levels of gun ownership. The problems may be more associated with poverty, and our society’s failure to tackle the inner-city ghettos that are destroying generation after generation of African American and Hispanic men and women.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Is it really that far of a stretch to say that a police officer should be stationed in every school?

      You realize that many communities have more schools than police, right?

      Finally, its not really clear if gun laws will actually help: Mexico and Honduras among many other nations have strict gun control laws, and still have skyrocketing crime.

      Clever to only discuss nations plagued by both poverty and drug cartels, while ignoring Australia completely. I doubt that anybody will notice that glaring dodge.

      • Hogan says:

        Gosh, I wonder where all those guns in Mexico came from. Do they have a lot of gun manufacturers? Or perhaps a problematic border with some crazy people?

      • slightly_peeved says:

        Gun control isn’t meant to reduce total crime; it’s meant to reduce the lethality of crime. people still get in fights, or break into homes, but the chances of either ending up with someone dead are significantly reduced.

        • guthrie says:

          Yup. The UK has a higher violent crime rate (although I read that was down to differences in recording and reporting methodoloty) than the USA, yet many fewer people end dead, because very few guns are involved.

          • sibusisodan says:

            I’ve probably mentioned this before – so apols for the redundancy, but if you look up violent crime rates on Eurostat, England is quite staggeringly violent; much more so than Scotland or Wales. I think that the classification for violent crime in England is much broader than our fellow members of the UK, which would help to explain the discrepancy.

            I’ll sign on to the general point, though – having less lethal tools available reduces lethality.

            • Snarki, child of Loki says:

              if you look up violent crime rates on Eurostat, England is quite staggeringly violent; much more so than Scotland or Wales.

              It’s that “sneering with intent to humiliate”, nobody does it better than the English.

    • GoDeep says:

      I thought the opposition to policemen in schools was odd. It seemed entirely reflexive to me, as if they object to guns period. Both my middle school & my high school had cops in them & that was way back in the ’80s, so I’m very comfortable w/ the idea! It worked great for us. Mr. Taylor was one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever known.

      Abt the only reasonable objection I hear to policemen in schools is that it would further the over criminalization of student infractions that we already have (eg, arresting & incarcerating kids who should really just be suspended).

      • Malaclypse says:

        Abt the only reasonable objection I hear to policemen in schools is that it would further the over criminalization of student infractions that we already have (eg, arresting & incarcerating kids who should really just be suspended).

        And aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

        • GoDeep says:

          As I said, Mal, I had a policeman in school from 6th thru 12th grades. We didn’t have a problem with him & we didn’t have a problem w/ over criminalization of students either. So I know it can be done right. You’re projecting a false choice.

          • Origami Isopod says:

            Because if there’s anything kids really need it’s yet more propaganda about how Mister Policeman is there to serve them (versus, you know, serve them up).

      • Bartleby says:

        Also, there’s no money for teachers, but somehow you think communities should be forced to use some of their limited funds on a police officer in their schools?

        Is this in all schools? Public? Private? Charter? Parochial? Grade schools? Junior highs? High schools? I’d rather they hire an additional teacher at each school.

    • sibusisodan says:

      I congratulate you on your post. It is a classic of the genre.

      Finally, its not really clear if gun laws will actually help

      You mention Switzerland. Where, like Israel, a large number of citizens are reservists, and can keep their issued firearm at home.

      I’m not sure if this applies to Israel, but the Swiss model apparently runs like this: you can store your service weapon at home, but not the ammo. I have been read that if your service weapon is used in a crime, you are tried under military not civilian law.

      That doesn’t account for all private ownership in Switzerland, but given that gun use is very tightly intertwined with legislation – that of setting up the militias and mandating arms storage – pretending that all international gun ownership is equal is really quite silly.

      • victorkiloalpha says:

        Thank you for your sincere congratulations. And I certainly acknowledge that examples exist of other countries where gun ownership is very low- such as Great Britain, Australia, and many others. However, even in Great Britain the type of weapon used in the Colorado attack and the Navy Yard attack (a shotgun) is available with some background checks. This is precisely my point.

        I happen to be a medical student who is interested in research integrity, and both sides in this debate are guilty of picking examples favorable to their point of view. The reality (and my point) is that there is no clear causative relationship between gun control laws and gun violence. Even in the US, some states that have greater gun control laws do have lower rates of violence. But once controlled for poverty, race, and geographic area (basically, take South Central out of California) those advantages disappear. Chicago had (up till a few months ago) even stronger gun control laws than NYC, and yet had over 5 times the gun murder rate. Why? Perhaps it was due to NYC systematically strip searching every black and hispanic man in the city, perhaps it was due to completely different factors, but no one can really know. The vast majority of research in this area is simply not valid because of the lack of controlled variables.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          Perhaps it was due to NYC systematically strip searching every black and hispanic man in the city,

          • Hogan says:

            Yeah, game over.

          • Malaclypse says:

            It seems plausible that an actual medical student interested only in research would completely ignore 1) the lead hypothesis and 2) the fact that crime dropped everywhere, not just NYC, in favor of jumping straight to flat-out racist speculation.

            • Hogan says:

              What is this medical school where “research integrity” means “the black guy did it”? Because I want to avoid their graduates like, as they say, the plague.

              • Malaclypse says:

                It should be obvious that victorkiloalpha goes to the Baby Doc College of Offshore Medicine.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  I used the example of “Stop and Frisk” because I am bitterly opposed to it. The perspective that Stop and Frisk is responsible for NYC’s significantly out-sized decrease in firearms deaths is from none other than Mayor Bloomberg: The idol of the Gun Control movement.

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  Why would any American politician be the idol of the gun control movement? they’re all pretty weak on gun control compared to the rest of the world.

                  it’s like healthcare reform – there’s no need for an idol when the policy you are espousing is standard practice in the rest of the world.

                • GoDeep says:

                  That’s ok, VKA, I hear you. I’ve personally struggled over the Chicago vs NYC question a lot. Criminology is a hard area, esp now. There are few quantitative models which explain our declining crime rates very well, and the one that does seems the least plausible ( http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline ).

                  Have you ever tried comparing Birmingham, AL to Chicago, IL? Both have high #s of gun crimes, and (maybe) similar socio-economic characteristics, but they have totally different legal approaches to guns.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  Heh, thanks GoDeep. I’d heard about the Lead hypothesis, and you’re right that it’s pretty hysterical. For that matter, cat urine might be causing us all to go crazy (look up toxoplasma gondii). I haven’t looked at Birmingham/Chicago but, but I’ll check it out-

                • wjts says:

                  It should be obvious that victorkiloalpha goes to the Baby Doc College of Offshore Medicine.

                  I’m thinking Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              Not that I’m defending VKA, but there are some pretty racist medical “professionals” out there.

        • slightly_peeved says:

          The examples favourable to my point of view are every country in western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. I don’t need to do much cherry picking.

          • Snarki, child of Loki says:

            Plus Japan.

            And I hear that “death by Ninja” is way down this year.

            • slightly_peeved says:

              how would you know?

            • victorkiloalpha says:

              Western European countries and Japan are ethnically homogeneous to a far greater degree than the USA. They also didn’t enslave and then oppress 10% of their population for some 300-odd years and counting, nor do they have millions of undocumented persons who can’t go to the police and report crimes for fear of deportation.

              Look, any given ‘Gun Control’ policy might work- but it also might be a complete failure. I just object to the intellectual arrogance (I say this as an unabashed intellectual) that assumes that we know best and that the answer is obvious from our research (which consists of observational studies only- not one randomized controlled trial). That same arrogance led to us in medicine giving women hormone replacement therapy for 30 years, and doing all kinds of harm.

              • slightly_peeved says:

                Australia and Canada are the most ethnically diverse nations in the world. Both oppressed their native populations for similar amounts of time. England has been oppressing other parts of Britain’s population for longer than the US has existed. Europe has a tremendous problem with undocumented immigrants.

                Not that there is any reason why any of these factors would lead to the five-fold increase in homicide rate for the US compared to some of these countries. The fact that the US has undocumented people who won’t go to the police would suggest the US homicide rate is under-reported. are you suggesting ethnic diversity leads to murder?

                Public health questions can never be studied in the lab, so you go with the track record in the real world – a record which is clearly in favour of gun control versus gun carry. The homicide rate in the US is several times worse that of Australia or most of Europe – the idea that gun control could make that worse is arrant nonsense.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  The colonization of Australia, Canada, and the US was characterized by the destruction of their native populations, in comparison to the colonization of India and Africa. The difference is that neither Australia nor Canada ever imported a large number of slaves to form a new underclass. In contrast, in Honduras and Mexico, the native population was somewhat more preserved and was enslaved for many years before mixing somewhat with the invading Spaniards. The diversity in Australia and Canada is largely due to immigration, not historical enslavement: immigration tends to add people to the middle class- not the working/lower class. Meanwhile, diversity in the US, Honduras, and Mexico is due to a combination of immigration and slavery. Of those three countries, the latter two have strict gun control and high murder rates. Which model do you think the US will lean toward should it implement gun control?

                  The high population of undocumented immigrants simply suggests an environment where smaller crimes go unreported and murder is gotten away with- where criminal activity flourishes overall.

                  Have you considered this? That perhaps “Gun Control” becomes the War on Drugs part 2? That rich white suburbanites will go through the trouble of applying for permits and the like while the urban poor are arrested and sent to jail for ever-increasing amounts of time? Have you thought that perhaps the solution to gun violence is vastly increased funding for inner-city violence prevention programs? For police officers to constantly be present at every neighborhood park so that kids can play outside without fear of getting shot? For rehabilitation and jobs programs to help ex-cons get back on their feet?

                • wjts says:

                  The diversity in Australia and Canada is largely due to immigration, not historical enslavement: immigration tends to add people to the middle class- not the working/lower class.

                  I don’t know anything about the history of Australian immigration law, either. I’m particularly ignorant about South Sea Islanders brought to Australia as indentured servants, the role they played in driving the adoption of the White Australia Policy, and the ways in which that policy drove the creation of an ethnic underclass in 20th century Australia.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  wjts,

                  Fair point. I was not aware of that phenomenon. Thank you for educating me.

                  Still, from my review of the topic on wikipedia, only 10,000 South Sea Islanders were in the country by 1900, when further immigration was banned by the White Australia policy (wikipedia again states that this was explicitly done to avoid a “negro problem” like the US had. The racist irony is so ridiculous I don’t know whether to laugh or cry). Again from wikipedia, 80% of Australia now is of European and most of the rest is Asian- who face discrimination but again are largely forming the middle class. I don’t see South Sea Islanders on there, and Indigenous Australians (who are in similar circumstances to Native Americans) are living in remote communities- not in concentrated urban ghettos.

                  I believe my point stands. One cannot compare Australia and the US due to their very different demographic make-ups and problems.

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  So by ethnic diversity, you don’t mean ethnic diversity – you mean a black underclass.

                  To go back to my previous point, why exactly would you put that a black underclass would lead to higher homicide rates? You could maybe argue that income inequality is a contributing factor to homicide. That’s probably a more solid economic theory of crime, and it has the nice advantage that it doesn’t sound so breathtakingly racist.

                • GoDeep says:

                  Business Insider listed the Top 50 most violent cities in the world a few weeks back & almost all of them were in the Americas. Its hard to believe that this is somehow mere coincidence and not a result of the New World’s violent colonization. It may be that we praise “frontier justice” more so in the Americas than in Europe, and place a premium on the ability of guns to deliver it. After all European leadership always tightly controlled guns whereas that has never been true in the US (and I don’t know abt the rest of the Americas but my hunch is not).

                  http://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-violent-cities-in-the-world-2013-11

              • herr doktor bimler says:

                [Japan] also didn’t enslave and then oppress 10% of their population for some 300-odd years and counting

                You might want to look up the history of the Burakumin caste.

                • wjts says:

                  See also Japan’s Korean population and the Ainu.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  I again wasn’t aware of this- thank you “herr doktor bimler” for educating me.

                  But again, per wikipedia there are less than 20,000 distinct Ainu left, the Burakumin comprise less than 1 million, and the Koreans approx. 500,000 in a nation of 125 million. And that’s ignoring the fact that the Burakumin are indistinguishable from their skin color or other characteristics- one has to consult records (access to which is restricted) to find out about ancestry in the first place.

                  Yes, these issues exist- but are you really saying that Japan is not significantly more ethnically and culturally homogeneous that the US? From what I hear, you can leave your bike outside of work with no lock there, and expect it to be there when you return. Try doing that anywhere in Boston or New York.

                  I think my point is still valid: comparisons of policies in the US vs. foreign countries is difficult-to-invalid due to differing demographics and cultures.

                • wjts says:

                  I think my point is still valid: comparisons of policies in the US vs. foreign countries is difficult-to-invalid due to differing demographics and cultures.

                  Given that you don’t seem to know much of anything about the demographics, culture, or history of the foreign countries in question, I’m not entirely certain that your point is quite as valid as you think it is.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  wjts

                  My previous knowledge was incomplete. But can you answer how you can compare Japan, a country where one can leave one’s purse attached to a bike outside on a busy street and expect to find it later, to America? And the same question with regards to Canada and Australia, the latter of which apparently specifically and successfully adopted policies to prevent the formation of a darker-skinned underclass like in the US?

                  Or for that matter, answer how NYC and Chicago had near-identical policies for decades, but incredibly different gun homicide rates?

                  My points remain unanswered, as is my conclusion. By and large gun control can not be supported by observational statistical evidence.

                • wjts says:

                  …the latter of which apparently specifically and successfully adopted policies to prevent the formation of a darker-skinned underclass like in the US?

                  This is my point. The White Australia Policy did not prevent “the formation of a darker-skinned underclass”. You consider yourself qualified to offer an opinion on ethnic diversity, race relations, and demographics in Australia despite not knowing that the White Australia Policy was a thing that existed, and continue to feel qualified to speak about these questions despite not knowing what the consequences of the WAP actually were. It’s tantamount to offering up an analysis of American race relations and subsequently being surprised to learn of the existence of Jim Crow laws.

                • herr doktor bimler says:

                  thank you “herr doktor bimler” for educating me.

                  I concede for the record that my comment was playing ‘Gotcha’ rather than a serious contribution to the discussion.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  wjts

                  That’s fair. I was not aware of the specifics of Australia’s history of racism. I had heard of the White Australia Policy, but I had not been aware that it was implemented partially in response to the “negro” problem in the United States (my clearly erroneous conception was that it was a post-war policy of the 1950s-1980s/90s).

                  Can you share any specifics? How many of Australia’s citizens form such a “dark-skinned underclass”? Is there a significant group in Australia whose number plight and circumstances are similar to that of African-Americans in the US?

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  To be clear, what I would like to know is this:

                  If such an ethnic/racial underclass exists in Australia, why is it that that underclass is not plagued with the same rates of gun crime as the American underclass? What did Australia do specifically that may have worked, which was not done by Chicago? From my understanding, Australia had a gun culture before a public massacre led to legislation against the possession of many types of firearms.

                • wjts says:

                  First, gun ownership in Australia is considerably less wide-spread than it is the U.S: Wikipedia says 5.2% of Australian adults own a gun compared to 34% of American adults. Second, in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre, Australia introduced sweeping gun control legislation at the national/federal level. In contrast, much of the firearms regulation in the United States is a patchwork of municipal, state, and federal regulations. As an example, although it’s impossible to legally acquire a firearm within the Chicago city limits, regulation is much more lax in most of the rest of the state and even laxer in neighboring Indiana. Finally, domestic production of small arms in Australia is minimal, meaning most firearms in the country need to be brought in from overseas. Contrast this with the U.S.’s extensive firearms industry.

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  Australia has never had a gun culture. The idea of owning a gun purely for self protection is viewed as paranoia here.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  What did Australia do specifically that may have worked, which was not done by Chicago?

                  Have a national policy. Chicago doesn’t have borders with customs agents.

              • junker says:

                Look, any given ‘Gun Control’ policy might work- but it also might be a complete failure. I just object to the intellectual arrogance (I say this as an unabashed intellectual) that assumes that we know best and that the answer is obvious from our research (which consists of observational studies only- not one randomized controlled trial).

                “Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, who knows!” Doesn’t seem like the position of an “unabashed intellectual.”

                That same arrogance led to us in medicine giving women hormone replacement therapy for 30 years, and doing all kinds of harm.

                As far as sequiturs go, this one is non.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  My apologies- I see how it may seem like a non-sequitor. I am approaching this issue from one of research integrity and validity. For many years, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy was touted, based upon observational studies only. Then, in the 1990s Dr. Avorn and others finally did an RCT. Then, they found to their horror that hormone replacement therapy hurt the majority of those who took it. The benefits came from the fact that those women who had been taking them were upper class and likely to take care of themselves better than women who didn’t take it.

                  Similarly, I don’t believe observational data of gun control should lead us to make recommendations regarding public policy decisions.

                • junker says:

                  And yet, we HAVE evidence from natural experiences where some places enacted powerful gun control laws and had success bringing down gun crimes and homicide rates. This is not “mere observational data.” You have either failed to adequately explain why the results we have seen aren’t “real,” or in some cases have applied a double standard to what evidence you argue is permisable and what evidence isn’t (as in your argument that the failure of Mexico’s gun laws is evidence that gun laws don’t work, but Western Europe’s success with gun laws is not evidence that they do).

                  You have constantly tried to present yourself in this thread as an evidence driven, neutral observer, and yet you have failed to make any kind of evidence based, empirical critique of the US gun situation, and repeatedly ignore evidence provided to you on the contrary.

                  In short: you are a troll.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  junker,

                  You seem to misunderstand my point. I never argued that Honduras and Mexico is evidence that gun control won’t work. My argument is that Mexico and Honduras are reasons why you can’t cite other countries- such as Japan, Australia, and Great Britain- as examples of gun control’s success. My argument is that demographic and cultural factors prohibit the comparison of international countries’ policites.

                  You’ll note that in my second comment, I specifically state that:

                  … and both sides in this debate are guilty of picking examples favorable to their point of view. The reality (and my point) is that there is no clear causative relationship between gun control laws and gun violence.

                  The evidence doesn’t show that gun control would work- it also doesn’t show that it wouldn’t work.

                  Those natural experiences you cite ARE observational data. It is no more valid than saying that the number of guns in circulation in the US over the past 20 years has sky-rocketed, therefore guns in circulation reduces crime (to be clear, I am citing this as an example of a statistical fallacy). You are guilty of ignoring data- not me.

                  We need a randomized controlled trial to prove anything: that means that in the United States, as a nation we ban guns for 5 years, legalize them again for 5 years, and repeat 20 times. Then we’ll get valid evidence of the answer as to whether gun control will work in our country- even then it won’t be completely valid due to natural economic and social shifts (and without gun confiscation).

                  Thank you for your personal attack on me, when I have striven to be respectful at all times during the debate (which you apparently believe is a smokescreen).

                • junker says:

                  You are obviously shifting the goal posts here. your original claim:

                  Finally, its not really clear if gun laws will actually help: Mexico and Honduras among many other nations have strict gun control laws, and still have skyrocketing crime. Switzerland and Israel traditionally had very low levels of crime, and high levels of gun ownership.

                  Your argument, very explicitly stated, is that Mexico and Honduras are evidence that gun control laws don’t work.

                  When Sibusodian, among others, bring up pretty much every western European nation, suddenly looking to other countries for examples is wrong.

                  Gievn your statement, there is no “cherry picking” here. If I can cite a few dozen countries where gun control laws work (as Sibusodian claims above), and you can cite two, you are cherry picking, I am not.

                  We need a randomized controlled trial to prove anything: that means that in the United States, as a nation we ban guns for 5 years, legalize them again for 5 years, and repeat 20 times. Then we’ll get valid evidence of the answer as to whether gun control will work in our country- even then it won’t be completely valid due to natural economic and social shifts (and without gun confiscation).

                  Your insistence that the only way to know something is through randomized control trials that makes me think you’re a faux-sophisticated troll. This is absolutely not true – natural experiments, like, say, different countries enforcing gun control laws within their borders, can also act as evidence of the success or failure of different policies.

                  It is incumbent on you to make the case that the US is fundamentally different from other countries where gun control works. When you react to evidence by throwing your hands up and saying “No one can ever know anything!” you are a know-nothing, and your veneer of intellectualism is absurd.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  This will be me last post- I have final exams to study for.

                  Junker,

                  You state that I am moving the goal posts. I will admit to inartful phrasing, but I have repeatedly (as you have called out) stated that we can’t know for sure. My position is not that we know nothing- it is that it is wrong to use the veneer of science in a field that does not deserve it. To do so is akin to those in the early part of the last century who ran IQ tests upon African-Americans, saw that they were low, and then used that to justify miscegenation laws and Jim Crow. Observational science is more prone to give erroneous results than randomized controlled trials.

                  You state that it is incumbent upon me to prove that Honduras and Mexico are more similar to the US than Western European Countries. How about this? The poverty rate in the US is 16%. Meanwhile, Canada and Great Britain have a rates of more like 5%. The US is the only “western” country with a child poverty rate over 20%.

                  Do you think that concentrated poverty might affect the violence rate non-linearly?

                  I take offense to your personal attacks. I have not made a single comment against you personally, and I have taken care to speak with respect and acknowledge when I am wrong (as I apparently was about Australia’s history). I ask that you behave with the same courtesy.

                  Respectfully,
                  victorkiloalpha

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  The benefits came from the fact that those women who had been taking them were upper class and likely to take care of themselves better than women who didn’t take it.

                  You mean, better able to take care of themselves.

        • Chris J says:

          For you, a medical student, from me, a medical school professor, courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s an editorial summarizing the research on handgun violence and gun control measures. I recommend it to you, plus the references.

          http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe0805629

          • victorkiloalpha says:

            Professor,

            The NEJM does not hold the ring of authority anymore for me, not since they published both the Rofecoxib paper (Vioxx for everyone not in the medical field).

            The NEJM article’s point about suicide and firearm ownership rates is disputed: (http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf)

            The authors cite exactly one article in favor of their argument, which is rather cherry-picked. The data represents a drop from 13 homicides to 9 homicides per month. While adjacent areas did not experience the same drop, the article neglects to mention that the areas surrounding DC include some of the wealthiest areas in the country, while DC in 1980s had terrible problems with poverty and violence in it’s “ghetto” areas. Did any similar effect occur after NYC or Chicago implemented their weapons bans? We don’t know- the one paper doesn’t present any comparative data.

            The IOM report here paints a rather more mixed picture:
            http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Priorities-for-Research-to-Reduce-the-Threat-of-Firearm-Related-Violence.aspx

            Among their findings are that defensive firearm uses may be in the range of 3,000,000… or 100,000. No one really knows. Also, the assault weapons ban would have been entirely useless in stopping crime, and it isn’t clear if other common ‘gun control’ methods would actually work. What does the IOM suggest? More research into the characteristics of gun violence: how do guns get into the hands of criminals illegally? Where do those guns come from? How can we stop them? The fact is Universal Background Checks may help- or they may do nothing at all. We don’t know.

            Respectfully,
            victorkiloalpha

            • Chris J says:

              You complain about a lack of data. I agree we need more — we always need more. But I think the preponderance of what we have, particularly all the international comparisons folks upthread have noted, favors regulation at least of handguns.

              And snarking about the NEJM does not advance your argument.

              • victorkiloalpha says:

                Professor,

                My apologies. I was not snarking. I legitimately have complaints about NEJM’s policies. Have you seen Dr. Drazen’s editorial to “just believe the data” regardless of industry funding of research? The NEJM, which previously led the charge to form clinicaltrials.gov gave up it’s mantle and has gone over to the other side. Perhaps this is because over 50% of it’s income comes from Pharma company ordered reprints of articles in favor of a new drug’s usage.

                As I note above, foreign comparisons are problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which are the existence of countries with high gun ownership rates and low gun crime (Israel, Switzerland), low gun ownership rates and low gun crime (GB, France, Australia), and laws against gun ownership and high gun crime (Mexico, Honduras). Combined with America’s extremely unique demographics, I think this data thus supports no side.

                Finally, I ask you to consider this: the medical profession should be “doing no harm”. It is quite possible that new gun control policies will lead to harm- when they are selectively enforced as drug laws have been against minority populations, while richer individuals will file the appropriate paperwork to be grandfathered in/continue with their status. Not to mention, it is conceivable that the medical community will unnecessarily alienate much of the country if they take too strong a stance- especially when the evidence is not clear. We need our patients’ trust- even the patients who listen to Rush Limbaugh and are convinced that black helicopters will drop swat teams to grab their guns. Without clear and convincing data that gun control will save more lives than policies such as violence intervention and rehabilitation for ex-convicts, I would propose that we promote policies such as the latter which have no downside.

                Respectfully,
                victorkiloalpha

                • junker says:

                  So, legitimate question: Should Doctors not give out vaccines, for fear of “alienating patients?” Should doctors just never engage in any type of medical practice or advice that might have even a hint of controversy attached to it?

                  or is this just an excuse to fight gun regulations?

                  PS: When commenters address your points about the rate of gun crime in other countries, and you ignore those points and repeat your claims, it makes you look like a “no nothing.”

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  junker,

                  I addressed all of the points given. Can you name a single point I haven’t addressed above?

                  And no, we shouldn’t relent upon vaccines. But the efficacy of vaccines has been PROVEN by randomized controlled trials. Such trials are impossible to carry out in the field of public policy. All data in support of gun control has been observational only. As such, making recommendations with the authority of medicine behind our backs with regards to gun control actually decreases our credibility when we try to get our patients to take their vaccines.

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  Israel has very low gun ownership rates. If you aren’t active military, you generally don’t have a gun. Switzerland ownership rate is well below the US. in both cases, given the level of training required to own a gun, they have strong gun control even if they had high ownership rates.

                • GoDeep says:

                  I’m no MD, but I’m with VKA on the idea that good public policy is grounded on good empiricism. These 2 links here cast doubt on Australia’s success with the full banning AND FORCED BUYBACK of semi-auto weapons… So I’m a little on the fence data-wise on the efficacy of gun control.

                  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/02/did-gun-control-work-in-australia/

                  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-18/opinion/chi-the-failure-of-gun-control-in-australia-20130118_1_gun-control-mandatory-gun-gun-deaths

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  The reason some researchers found no further decline in gun homicide rates after the gun buyback was because the gun homicide rate was already so low, die to existing controls and low ownership rates, that banning semiautomatics affected a tiny amount of people. can you see the problem with complaining that the gun buyback was ineffective because there were already so few gun homicides? If it was ineffective, it was because gun control is already a success in Australia.

                • junker says:

                  Uh, first, you keep bringing up the Mexico / Honduras/Switzerland/Israel thing without addressing numerous comments on why those comparisons are poor.

                  Second, now that I think about it, you seem to think that international comparisons are acceptable when they might prove your point, but unacceptable due to demographics and history when they would disprove your point. In fact Australia and Western Europe seem much more like the US than Mexico and Honduras, yet you seem to think those latter two are good to use as models and not the former.

                • victorkiloalpha says:

                  Junker,

                  Again, you misunderstand my point.

                  I never said Honduras and Mexico are good models. I posit that Canada and Australia aren’t necessarily better. As wjft above pointed out, Australia’s gun ownership rate before gun control was 5%, compared to a US rate of over 30%. You state that Switzerland and Israel are poor models- I would disagree. Shooting is a national pastime in Switzerland, which I argue is good evidence for a gun culture, and in Israel from my understanding all reservists keep arms in their home (and all young men are reservists).

                  I am arguing this: that the use of foreign statistical comparisons to the US is invalid as evidence in favor of the implementation of gun control- not that gun control wouldn’t work.

                • junker says:

                  To quote you, again:

                  Finally, its not really clear if gun laws will actually help: Mexico and Honduras among many other nations have strict gun control laws, and still have skyrocketing crime. Switzerland and Israel traditionally had very low levels of crime, and high levels of gun ownership.

                  Your explicit argument: the fact that Mexico and Honduras have violent gun crime in spite of their stricter laws is evidence that gun control laws don’t work.

                  When the commenters here cited the numerous other worldwide examples of places where gun control has worked, and explained why your examples are cherry picked, you have shifted your position to “Well, no one can really every know anything, can they?”

                  You have consistently applied a double standard to your arguments, and, having failed at that, you are now trying to shift the debate.

  7. Abigail says:

    Is it really desirable to prosecute parents whose children die through their negligence? Around here, when cases like this happen*, the police investigate, but they’re only prosecuted when it’s clear that the negligence crossed the line into abuse. Often I get the sense that the investigation only happens in order to publicize the case and educate other parents so they won’t make the same mistake.

    I mean, I understand the political importance of prosecuting these cases, and of course the larger point that is the horror of nearly 200 dead children is well taken. But I’m not sure I see that there’s any need to punish a parent who’s been the cause of their own child’s death. (That’s distinguishing from cases in which a child gets hold of their parent’s gun and kills another child, where I might have expected prosecution and/or a civil suit.)

    * Not children killing themselves with guns – I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a case like that around here. But this last summer there was a rash of children dying of heatstroke after having been forgotten in locked cars. In all cases, the parents were interviewed by the police, but I don’t think any of them were prosecuted.

    • Bartleby says:

      Is there no such thing as criminal negligence? Not prosecuting all of these cases only reinforces the “responsible gun owner” meme. If they were really responsible, they would still have all of their children. Is it really that hard to keep a weapon secured? (Hint: It’s not.)

      Their actions contributed to the death of a child under their supervision. Yes, it’s incredibly painful to lose a child, but it doesn’t change the fact that they committed a crime. A lot of people are killed by drunk drivers, who then have to live with the knowledge that someone (occasionally even a close friend or relative of the driver) dies as a result of their actions. Somehow, drunk drivers are still routinely prosecuted for their crimes.

      • Abigail says:

        Is there no such thing as criminal negligence?

        Obviously – as in the case noted below of a child who was allowed to play with an Uzi. But that’s part of the point I was making, that in almost all cases I’m aware of a parent being investigated for causing their child’s death, the conclusion was that they were negligent, but not criminally so.

        A lot of people are killed by drunk drivers, who then have to live with the knowledge that someone (occasionally even a close friend or relative of the driver) dies as a result of their actions. Somehow, drunk drivers are still routinely prosecuted for their crimes.

        Are they, though? Is it really that common for someone to go to jail for killing their own child while driving under the influence? I’m seriously asking, because off the top of my head I can’t think of a case like that, but then drunk driving isn’t as widely reported around here as other forms of negligent homicide.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      Is it really desirable to prosecute parents whose children die through their negligence?

      Yes.

      Seriously, “they’ve suffered enough” is bullshit. If a daycare worker or someone else not the parent had left a gun around for a kid to play with, or left them to cook in a hot car in the summer, they’d face prosecution. Just because you (the hypothetical “you”) produced that child doesn’t mean you get to walk away with a slap on the wrist. And you don’t think that kind of slap sends a message to parents with malign intentions?

      • Abigail says:

        Just because you (the hypothetical “you”) produced that child doesn’t mean you get to walk away with a slap on the wrist.

        I guess I’m trying to understand what the purpose of punishing parents who have caused their children’s death is. In general, we assume that the purpose of punishment is either to act as a deterrent, or to offer some sort of karmic counterbalance to the misdeed (there is, of course, the additional issue of keeping an offender from repeating their offense, but strictly speaking that’s not the purpose of punishment as our courts define it, and in the cases we’re talking about is anyway an issue for family services, completely separate from whether or not the parent is being prosecuted). In cases like these, however, I genuinely don’t see how any punishment a court could hand down is worse than losing your child and having it be your fault, and as for deterrence, surely a parent who isn’t convinced by the argument that you shouldn’t keep guns around because your kid might die won’t be swayed by the argument that you shouldn’t keep guns around because your kid might die and you could go to jail for it?

        And you don’t think that kind of slap sends a message to parents with malign intentions?

        Uh, no? I specifically noted that the purpose of the police investigation in these cases was to determine whether there had been abuse that led to the child’s death, much less premeditated murder. In those cases, of course the parents are prosecuted.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          I guess I’m trying to understand what the purpose of punishing parents who have caused their children’s death is.

          Because children are people, and people deserve justice.

          • Abigail says:

            What does justice mean in this context, though? When a young woman is mowed down by a driver who doesn’t even slow down, and in fact hightails it to the airport to escape prosecution in his native country, where he continues to drive recklessly (true story), it’s obvious to me that justice involves some way of making this person recognize the reality of the life he took. But I assume that most parents are aware of that reality. If “justice” means punishing a killer, then again, I think that in cases like these the offense is its own punishment.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              Justice is about both reform and punishment. I realize the latter is controversial, but punishment can provide closure for victims and community.

              Let me go back to address this:

              I specifically noted that the purpose of the police investigation in these cases was to determine whether there had been abuse that led to the child’s death, much less premeditated murder. In those cases, of course the parents are prosecuted.

              There need not be a history of abuse for a parent to decide that, perhaps, they’d rather not be a parent anymore.

              • Abigail says:

                punishment can provide closure for victims and community

                That’s probably true when “victims and community” and “perpetrators” are different groups. I’m not sure it’s the case when they are the same, as in the situation under discussion.

                There need not be a history of abuse for a parent to decide that, perhaps, they’d rather not be a parent anymore.

                So in the scenario you’re describing, a parent who has, suddenly and with no history of abuse, decided to kill their child sees that parents who negligently led to their children’s deaths by leaving loaded guns around are not being prosecuted, and knowingly leaves such weapons within their child’s reach in the hope that they’ll shoot themselves? I think that’s a sufficiently unlikely edge case that it probably shouldn’t shape the policy on this issue.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  Never heard of insurance policies, have you?

                  Seriously, this whole line of concern trolling smacks of the idea that children are the property of their parents, not actual people, and that parents are entitled to a few “whoopsies!” now and again.

                  As for so-called “restorative justice,” I am not terribly impressed by its frequent focus on the perp being vewwy vewwy sowwy for having caused their kid to die, or having raped that woman, or having stolen that widow’s money, and can’t you just forgive him already?!

                • Hogan says:

                  That’s probably true when “victims and community” and “perpetrators” are different groups. I’m not sure it’s the case when they are the same, as in the situation under discussion.

                  And in many, many, many other situations that are routinely prosecuted. The idea that victims and perpetrators come from different planets is just not so.

                • Abigail says:

                  Origami Isopod:

                  this whole line of concern trolling

                  Ah, I see we’ve reached the stage of the conversation where my disagreeing with you can only be taken as a sign that I’m not arguing in good faith, and am no better than a rape apologist. Because obviously, on a subject as fraught as whether parents should be prosecuted for negligently causing their children’s deaths, it is plainly impossible for reasonable people to genuinely disagree.

                  Never heard of insurance policies, have you?

                  So, to expand your scenario, a parent who decides to kill their child sees that other parents whose children died because they were left alone with firearms were not prosecuted and decides to do the same, not before taking out an insurance policy on their child, and the police don’t work out that this is a murder.

                  Yeah, I’m still pretty comfortable ignoring this hypothetical in a discussion of broad social policy.

                  Hogan:

                  The idea that victims and perpetrators come from different planets is just not so.

                  Clearly, but I was responding to OI’s claim that punishment is desirable because it can bring closure to the victims of a crime. In the case of a parent responsible for their child’s death, I don’t think that’s a likely outcome.

                • Hogan says:

                  Children generally have people in their lives other than their parents. It’s their loss too.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  Ah, I see we’ve reached the stage of the conversation where my disagreeing with you can only be taken as a sign that I’m not arguing in good faith, and am no better than a rape apologist.

                  Touchy, touchy. I can’t imagine why someone with an unfamiliar handle whose MO is to reply multiple times to every single person who disagrees with her would ping me as a concern troll.

        • Hogan says:

          surely a parent who isn’t convinced by the argument that you shouldn’t keep guns around because your kid might die won’t be swayed by the argument that you shouldn’t keep guns around because your kid might die and you could go to jail for it?

          It’s not just about the argument. Being convicted of reckless homicide would probably put a major crimp in your legal ability to own guns.

        • Hogan says:

          In cases like these, however, I genuinely don’t see how any punishment a court could hand down is worse than losing your child and having it be your fault

          This is the inverse of the classic definition of chutzpah: killing your parents and then asking for mercy because you’re an orphan.

          • Abigail says:

            In that joke, though, the orphan is a deliberate murderer, not an accidental or negligent one.

            • Hogan says:

              And I would argue that that distinction can be fully taken into account by charging the parent with reckless homicide rather than first- or second-degree murder. Mitigation, not a free pass.

              • efgoldman says:

                And I would argue that leaving an unlocked, loaded weapon around where a child can get it and do harm to him/herself or others is in fact, and should be in law, a criminally negligent act.
                Let’s get away from the rare hypothetical about collecting on a kid’s insurance policy, and look at something simpler: Four year old finds dad’s loaded, unlocked pistol in a nightstand or desk drawer, picks it, fires it, is so scared by the noise he drops the gun and runs away crying. The round exits the house and kills the dog next door.
                Criminal negligence? I think so. Suppose it kills grandma next door. Same thing. But if the gun discharges when the kid drops it, and kills him, then we don’t prosecute because the parents suffered enough? Which is the greater crime? Yup, I want the gun owner in jail, even if its only for a token sentence. I want a felony conviction on his record.

                • Abigail says:

                  And I suppose my point is that, yes, I do see a difference between a case in which your negligence kills a dog, or a stranger, or even a friend, and one in which it kills your child. I’m also not sure about this “suffered enough” business. I would assume that someone who has killed their own child is in for a lifetime of suffering.

    • efgoldman says:

      Is it really desirable to prosecute parents whose children die through their negligence?

      Short answer: yes, when a weapon is involved. Make an example.
      Remember this? http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27399337/

      An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.

      I would put gun negligence in the same category as drunk driving. How do you feel about a drunk driver with a kid in the car?

      • Abigail says:

        Short answer: yes, when a weapon is involved. Make an example.

        So what you’re saying is that cases like this should be prosecuted for political reasons, specific to the cause of death. Given the terrible statistics this post started with, I can’t say that’s an unreasonable stance. It is, however, presumably an unworkable one. Surely, if there was a willingness to prosecute such cases on political grounds, there would be a willingness to enact the kind of meaningful gun control that would make them much less common.

        • Malaclypse says:

          So what you’re saying is that cases like this should be prosecuted for political reasons, specific to the cause of death.

          That’s pretty much exactly happened with drunk driving back in the 1980s. As a society, we decided that what had been regrettable accidents were now crimes.

        • Hogan says:

          1) “Make an example” is not a political reason; it’s a valid goal of law enforcement. There’s just shit people shouldn’t be doing; if too many people are doing it, it should become a priority.

          2) Legislation is a very different process from prosecution; inability to do the first doesn’t indicate any inability to do the second.

          • Origami Isopod says:

            “Make an example” is not a political reason; it’s a valid goal of law enforcement.

            YEP. Seriously — deterrents? How are those not a valid goal, and tool, of law enforcement?

          • Abigail says:

            “Make an example” is not a political reason

            “Political” as in “policy,” a conscious decision to prioritize a certain type of crime and its eradication (as in the example given above of drunk driving). And again, surely if there was a willingness to enact such a policy, we wouldn’t be seeing so many deaths of this type to begin with?

            • Hogan says:

              Again, drunk driving. Organized citizens can in fact change the priorities of elected prosecutors. The fact that it hasn’t happened yet in this case doesn’t mean it can’t.

            • junker says:

              “Political” as in “policy,” a conscious decision to prioritize a certain type of crime and its eradication (as in the example given above of drunk driving).

              You act as though the justice system can and should be blind to the type of crime being perpetrated.

              Of course police and prosecutors have to make decisions, given limited resources, about which crimes to prioritize.

              • Abigail says:

                I think that was my initial point. Prosecutors always have discretion about which crimes to pursue. I was pointing out that in my country, they often use that discretion to choose not to prosecute parents who have negligently caused their children’s deaths.

                But given that in the US prosecutors, at least at the top of the food chain, are elected officials, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which prosecutors begin targeting parents who leave loaded guns around their children as a way of enacting a pro-gun-control social policy.

                • Hogan says:

                  Encouraging parents to lock up their guns so their kids don’t get killed is not “pro-gun-control social policy.” It’s no more than enforcing existing laws, which is exactly what the gun nuts keep saying they want. And any DA who loses an election because s/he got more serious about protecting children probably shouldn’t have been elected in the first place.

    • Peter Hovde says:

      I’d subject them to criminal penalties, but give them the option of community service, where the community service consists of making harrowing PSAs and giving harrowing talks about the consequences of carelessness with guns.

      • Abigail says:

        I wonder how many parents whose children die under these circumstances come around to the notion that it’s dangerous to mix kids and guns, and how many become even more entrenched in their guns-for-all mentality.

        • Snarki, child of Loki says:

          Well, that tell you which ones need to be prosecuted, doesn’t it?

          • slightly_peeved says:

            Rehabilitation is a key part of punishment. if your child shot themselves with one of your guns, and you don’t change your behaviour with guns, you need to be rehabilitated for the same of other children.

            • Abigail says:

              That’s related to a point I made elsewhere in this thread, though. The issue of whether a parent should be prosecuted for causing their child’s death is completely distinct from the issue of whether their parental rights over their surviving children, if any, should be terminated or curtailed. One is a matter for prosecutors, the other for family services, and it’s entirely possible for one of these bodies to act while the other doesn’t.

        • herr doktor bimler says:

          Zardoz cannot fail. Zardoz can only be failed.

  8. e.a.f. says:

    Mother Jones’s decision to go with the article is commendable. One is too many. Children should not be placed in danger by adults who leave guns around. Children being able to access guns simply is outrageous. Its a form of child neglect.

    If the number of death by guns in the U.S.A. the public would be clamouring for huge government funding to eradicate the disease. guns are not a necessary part of life. We don’t have a whole lot of them in Canada and those that are around, well you need licenses and there are game rules. Japan has some of the most stringent gun laws in the world. some years there are only 9 people killed by guns in a single year

    the amount of money flowing in American politics will ensure there is no real gun control in the U.S.A. there is simply too much money to be made in guns and no one wants to give that up. the gun industry will continue to finance politicians and there will be no gun control. For gun control to be a success in the U.S.A. they will first have to reform how politics is financed. In countries where there is strict gun control there is also frequently strict rules about the financing of political campaigns. As it now stands, there will be no effective gun control even if 100 children a month were killed because of guns. the gun industry has convinced people they need their guns and nothing is going to change that. there is too much money involved. the shareholders and owners of the gun industry only care about money. the life of a child should not stand in their way to make profits.

  9. Nutella says:

    I am struck by the difference in assigning blame here.

    A parent leaves a loaded gun around in a house with children and the children die. No blame for that gun violence.

    A man runs into the street, acting crazy and blocking traffic. Police shoot at him and hit bystanders. Man is blamed for that gun violence when he didn’t have anything to do with the guns at all.

    Makes perfect sense: A man blocking traffic is prosecuted for gun violence. People making loaded guns available to children are not prosecuted or or even blamed/shamed for gun violence. It’s just one of those things, right?

  10. K says:

    Guns themselves cannot cause violence of any kind. People decide to commit violence first, then they figure out the details. Removing or limiting access to guns only changes the second part, the person/people considering violence are still going to do whatever violent acts they were planning, just without guns. Or just do it with homemade, stolen, or smuggled guns. Plus you are going to have groups of people who will endeavor to keep their shootin’ irons despite new laws, and some percentage will succeed, meaning that criminals who disregard laws, and government will be the only ones left armed. It’ll be great, criminals are awesome, just ask a rapper, and the government would never take a golden opportunity to screw us over, again, right? I mean politicians are always trustworthy, and never, ever take special interest money or do anything shady. Oh, wait…

  11. K says:

    As for the issue with storage, if parents of a given child/children are so dumb that they need a law telling them to make it so said child/children cannot readily access things that can easily kill them, said child/children are probably going to reach an untimely demise when they get into the cleaning supplies, power tools, car fluids, kitchen knives, or lawn implements. I can hear the 911 calls now “hey, uh, can you guys come and surgically remove a pitchfork from my sons leg, then straight after that, can you remove the screwdriver that my son stuck in his sisters left but cheek for stabbing him in the leg with the pitchfork, then straight after that, could you treat the head to toe cuts and abrasions on my son that he got when his sister tried to weed whack him for stabbing her in the left butt cheek with a screwdriver, then straight after that, … Good thing we took the lock off the tool shed to comply with new gun storage laws, otherwise that could have been a real mess.”

    • Malaclypse says:

      Worse still are all the television shows that glamorize the drinking of Drano. Why, just the other day, as a concerned parent, I realized my child was playing “Plumbers and Drano.”

      Truly, I blame the culture.

  12. K says:

    Great counter arguement, except a lot of the people who make a killing off of glorifying gun violence are the ones saying the gun violence they glorify is a problem. Thats the first fishy thing ive noticed about the push to regulate/ban guns.

  13. K says:

    2nd fishy thing is that when it comes to banning specific guns, they focus on a type of gun that is ill suited to crime as it cannot be concealed easily, and in fact is not even involved in 1% of gun murders. The ar15 is most specifically mentioned. This gun is semi auto, meaning one bullet per trigger pull. Comes standard with 30 round magazines, so when the smoke clears and the guns empty, that comes to 30 .223 of an inch wide projectiles downrange. Not too shabby, but not ideal for multiple moving targets, like the school shootings that are supposedly going to stop when we ban ar-type guns. One type of gun that would be ideal is a 12 gauge pump, typically holds six shots with one in the chamber, and you must pump between shots, but when the barrel is over 3 times larger in diameter than that of an ar15, the pumping is a nice little break between the recoil you can use to re aim. This is a shotgun were talking about, so it fires multiple lead balls instead of one solid projectile, unless you use slugs. The lead balls, or shot comes in many sizes, the particular one i favor is 00 buckshot, a shell loaded with 15 lead balls .33 of an inch in diameter. So thats like 15 ar15s going off at once with each and every shot. Plus, the shot spreads out over distance, so its theoretically possible, however highly unlikely, to kill 15 people with one shot, so 2 or 3 dead and injuries is not going to be uncommon from one shot at multiple moving targets grouped close together. So if your 12 pump holds the standard six shells, thats a total of 90 separate lead balls screaming downrange, thats a lot of lead. And they are not even on anyones ban list that specifically bans guns, and nobody is proposing any laws that include them specifically in any way, either to regulate or track/license. Its like either A. The anti gun people are blissfully ignorant of the existence of this type of weapon, B. They are aware, and hope that criminals arent now aware/never become aware of them, or C., my choice, they are up to something fishy.

  14. K says:

    3rd fishy thing, a lot of the gun laws proposed and passed banning semi autos with over 10 shots specifically exempt .22 calibre rimfire guns, the very same bullet that killed president Kennedy. If it can kill a full grown man, it can kill children easier. Yet every 10 shot cap law law ive ever seen specifically exempts them.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      You don’t seem to get it. I want the government to come into your home and take all of your guns.

    • Barry Freed says:

      .22 calibre rimfire guns, the very same bullet that killed president Kennedy.

      For someone who talks like a gun nut enthusiast, you don’t actually know very much about guns (or you’re deliberately lying). The bullets that killed JFK were 6.5×52mm Carcano, an Italian full power military center-fire cartridge. Not some plinker’s .22 rimfire.

  15. K says:

    Loomis, do you know how much money that will cost? Just putting enough feet on the ground to go around and ask all the known gun owners nicely to pretty please give up your guns to save the children is an undertaking that would dwarf the cost 0bamaNOcare. And even if somehow the government is successfull in that endeavor, and they are the only ones left with guns, then the same entity who botched hurricane K aid, herded Japanese Americans into concentration camps after pearl harbor, and massacred native American Indians like it was going out of style will be the only ones capable of discharging high powered weapons around everything you love, should the need arise, and they get there before its more of a clean up job than anything. But thats ok, right, i mean, cops never get drunk on duty, and they would never ever do the drugs they confiscated off a kid they “let off with a stern warning”, right?

  16. K says:

    On that note, i read somewhere that the new York police department shot like 300 something rounds in the course of duty one year, something like 14 of them actually ended up in perps, however 24 or so ended up in dogs, for whatever reason. This means that all but 14 were misses out of 300, unless the 24 dead pooches were intentional. Must be some shifty dogs over there in the big apple.

  17. K says:

    Jim, just so were clear, i keep a 12 gauge on hand and loaded for when some methhead runs up in my house with an empty stomach and a full clip, and his trigger finger itchin. When whatever lowly paid government official comes to sniff around this dirt road off a two lane highway smack in the middle of nowhere, lookin for me and my guns, we’ll be scarce, real scarce. Might stash the guns in a cammo bag up a tree in the woods and hide underground, might bury the guns and wait up a tree in full realtree cammo with a bow, lots of options open to me. Right now theres enough snow in my front yard to hide an elephant and his 4 closest homies.

  18. K says:

    Well ok i was wrong about the size of the bullet that killed Kennedy by a millimeter. Still doesnt change the fact that a headshot from a .22 is extremely lethal because it has just enough energy to go in the skull, but not enough to punch out, so it just bounces around in there. Congratulations on proving me wrong about history, my history teacher could tell you that its no great feat, but i hope you feel special.

  19. K says:

    And im not on some “country boy will survive” shit, i know full well that tomorrow’s not promised today, hence the loaded gauge. Do you really think that they are going to look for guns under every rock and patch of recently stirred up dirt between LA and NYC?

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      of course not. nobody believes that, except for the people who send their hard-earned money in to the nra every time wayne la pierre wets his diaper on national television

  20. K says:

    That and i dont think you have proper respect for how much snow is actually in my yard right now. Its up to your knees most places, and wind blows it into piles up to your nose in some places. You’re not shoveling paths anymore, your digging trenches. I could just toss the guns out in a snow drift wrapped in triple white hefty bags and sealed with white duck tape, and in 10 minutes falling snow will cover the hole they made on the way in, or wind will blow existing snow into the hole, depending on weather the snow is falling, or blowing, the only two options for around here this time of year.

  21. K says:

    The people who are actually shooting each other with guns are in the inner city, and they dont care what the law says, because they get their guns from the trunks of cars. And the guys selling them out of cartrunks dont care what the law says, because the people they bought the guns from stole them or bought them from someone who did, and they dont care what the law says because they are stoned like a bible whore, jacked up on crack or meth, drunk like a sailor on shore leave, or some combination of all of those. And the people who sold them the drugs dont care about the law because they just bought a new heater off the guy in the back alley standing next to a cartrunk full of guns, so they’re fittin’ to let lead fly if the pigs give them any trouble. You think one more broken law will matter to them? You think the gangsters in the hood are going to go “well, i cant post up on the corner to sell meth, crack, and weed to school kids while drinking liquor straight out the bottle, then drunk drive over to an underage chicks house to have unprotected sex with her, because the law says my stolen gun is illegal, so i have to go turn it in.”

  22. K says:

    “hey now, a bunch of gangsters strapped, so make way now, when they come waivin’ them gats, you better lay down and give ‘em all you got, cause its a shakedown” Akon. 4th fishy thing, people who favor a total gun ban want to have the government do millions of shakedowns for guns, supposedly to prevent gun deaths, party due to shakedowns gone awry.

  23. K says:

    “hey now, a bunch of gangsters strapped, so make way now, when they come waivin’ them gats, you know to lay down and give ‘em all you got, cause its a shakedown” Akon. 4th fishy thing, people who favor a total gun ban want to have the government do millions of shakedowns for guns, supposedly to prevent gun deaths, party due to shakedowns gone awry.

  24. K says:

    Oops, oh well, it bears repeating. 5Th fishy thing. When the left wants teachers unions, they portray elementary and highschool teachers as hardworking, highly trained and qualified professionals, but when we suggest letting a few of them keep a small pistol on them so the psycho aint the only one who brought a gun to the gunfight he scheduled for then and there, and neglected to inform everyone of their plans, they suddenly become blundering idiots who leave loaded guns out for children while they leave the room, and if by some un worldly miracle they do have the brains to keep it holstered, they certainly won’t have the wearwithal to avoid being disarmed by grade schoolers.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Also, too, the damn teachers unions have rules about so-called “run-on sentences.” Let people pack heat, and those sentences won’t run. Don’t let anybody call you an illiterate moron, K. You can write as well as any second-grader on meth.

  25. K says:

    6th fishy thing anti gun people are always the first to sling mud, at least in my dealings with them. The reason i suspect that there could be a meth problem in my neck of the woods is that they busted a meth lab in 2012 straight across the highway from the dirt road i live on, less than a half mile as the crow flies. But hey, you guys go ahead and use them blankets. Im sure when a cracked out goon runs up in your house and lifts a loaded ak in the air, he will wait patiently for you to dial up the cops, and for said cops to arrive before he shoots anyone, because if methamphetamine is known to do one thing, its known to make you patient, real patient.

    • wjts says:

      Buddy boy, the cops busted a goddamn meth lab IN MY APARTMENT COMPLEX in Lubbock, TX and yet I managed to survive 2.5 years there without owning a gun. But I’m terrified that there might be a manticore or a leprechaun in my basement, so I’m not wholly unsympathetic to your imagined plight.

  26. K says:

    Its amazing how people can pick at spelling and grammar, yet miss the bloody knife sticking into the heart of their argument. Leads me to the 7th fishy thing, when anti gun people exhaust their logical arguments on the subject at hand, they immediately, if not sooner, clean up their grammar and spelling and become grammar police.

  27. K says:

    8Th fishy thing, piers Morgan, anytime he gets behind something, i question it. I dont like him, and i dont like his kind. And by his kind, i do not mean British people, British wankers, (entire sub-set of British people, of witch, Piers is a member) fat people, ugly people, or loudmouthed jackasses. By his kind, i do mean people who hide behind well armed guards, high fences, and fancy gated communities, and tell everyone else to give up their protection, and how they have to live.

  28. K says:

    9Th fishy thing, anti gun people claim the death toll from guns is 30k per year in the usa, and that that is terrible, we should rid ourselves of these death machines, and when someone like me says cars kill the same number of people, anti gun people say that cars are properly regulated, and not designed to kill, despite the fact that guns kill the same number, and need further regulations because thats too many dead bodies. You can’t have it both ways.

  29. K says:

    Ill bet there weren’t any bears in that apartment complex. Or tasty deer to shoot during hunting season. There are many reasons im armed, the methheads are the reason the guns are loaded.

  30. K says:

    Barry, im glad you feel so special. You seem to have completely missed the point of me bringing up .22s, witch is that they aren’t much different from other guns in the sense that when you shoot a bunch of holes in someone with one they bleed and die, not necessarily in that order, but thats ok. And since apparently i know nothing, I’d better ask you, how do i know weather or not to load 3 1/2″ shells into my 12 gauge?

  31. K says:

    See, the law is actually only as good as its enforcement. So far, ive just mentioned the obvious ways that one could hide a gun around here, how far do you suppose the already broke government can afford to take a gun grab? I mean when i politely tell the gun grabbers that there are no guns here, we sold them all to friends that sold them, they were stolen, we destroyed them ourselves, etc, and an initial search of the premises turns up no weapons, are they going to take my word for it then, or will they go get metal detectors and look 20 ft around the house, 50, 100? After that turns up nothing, will they send divers into nearby lake superior to look? Will they kick over the woodpiles? Shovel out the snow buried truck to check if i stashed them in the box or under it? Will they rake the snow off all the roofs with the roofrake to see if there are any guns up there? When that all turns up nada, will they say they quit looking and believe me, leave and come back in 20 minutes to catch me pulling up gun parts out of the well with fishing line? Thats a solid days work right there, are they going to work that hard everywhere to find guns? Because as i write this, someone somewhere in America is either buying gun(s) to bury, thinking about where to bury gun(s), actually burying gun(s), or just finished burying gun(s).

  32. K says:

    Well, the roads are like an ice rink, its cold enough outside to pee on the ground and have it bounce, and the only real attraction in this no-horse town is to go out and get drunk, then attempt to drive the ice rink home drunk, and hope the cops dont throw you in the can when they find your ass sliding around drunk. And even if you sober up or catch a cab, you can still have other drunks slide into you. And its not like these people aren’t drunk enough all the time, but for some reason, today and last night are extra special, so people gotta get extra stupid, yesterday there was a truck upside down on the way to town. I mean im not against drinking booze or anything, but maybe pounding a bottle of jack Daniels and driving on slippery roads isnt a good idea, but watch that not stop anyone from actually doing it, then ending up stuck in a snowbank with a stupid expression on there face like “how on earth did i end up here? I was only doing 80 down a 55mph road you could iceskate on.” so, yes, i elected to stay home this new years and skip straight to the punchline, the drinking.

  33. K says:

    Back to the subject at hand, the 10th fishy thing about the push to disarm America. A man gets drunk, kicks a baby down a flight of stairs, then washes in clothswasher and dries in microwave, we blame man. A man gets drunk, beats his wife to death, we blame man. A man gets drunk, stabs another man to death, we blame man. A man gets drunk, shoots someone dead, he is partly responsible, but the real bastards are Wayne LaPierre and the NRA for making it so easy to get guns.

  34. K says:

    Wait a minute guys, maybe these guns are a problem, i see my two, off in the corner, all loaded up, giving me the awkward eye. Just a couple of weeks ago, i caught them huffing solvents and drinking oil. I blame the media, hyping these ar15s and ak47s, talking about their high capacity magazines and military styling, and they never come right out and say it, but you know, they’ve been huffing solvents and drinking oil as well, its deplorable. Its only natural for young, impressionable guns to emulate. Just yesterday i spotted about 20 or so rifles just loitering around a counter, and pistols just laying around, no doubt they too were “well lubricated” and nearby, bullets running the streets in packs 20, 50, even 100 deep. And when i confront my two guns about this, they just say “if you dont stop pushing my buttons and screwing with me, i just might go off on your ass” im at a total loss as to what to do.

  35. K says:

    AR15s and AK47s combined kill fewer people than dishwashers. Dishwashers are the most dangerous appliance you can own, because many people load knives in the utensil rack point up, and then someone falls on them.

  36. K says:

    Thing is, regardless of what we do with the laws, in order to actually reduce the number of deaths by guns, cops are going to have to go into the ghettos and confiscate all the illegal guns. These guns are already illegal, so making a law making all guns illegal really doesn’t change the task at hand any, still going to have to go in and take them by force. Some of these ghettos are so bad, they shoot white people on sight, just to see if the guns still working. Why don’t we just do it? Its going to need to be done eventually, and it wont stick the first time, even if you outlaw all guns, most hardware stores sell the right size metal pipe for 12 gauge shells, and the Russians are never going to run out of AKs and corrupt generals willing to “misplace” a few cases for drinking money.

  37. K says:

    11Th fishy thing, every time anti gun politicians or anti gun groups get on the news and talk gun control, gun sales hit the roof. It would seem then, that if their goal was to stop or slow the sale of guns, they would not talk about it so much on the news. If they had not been pushing so hard for national gun control, i don’t think i would have bought one this past year. And with all the people out there stockpileing out there, and over 300 million guns out already, with every new demand spike, that last 1% of guns gets bigger and bigger. Already, if the government is 99% effective in removing guns under a total ban, that leaves over 3 million guns in the hands of criminals. Thats the same number Australia had in circulation BEFORE their gun laws. And a total gun ban means that 100% of the remaining guns are in criminals hands, since the very act of owning one would be a crime. Of course, good ol’ uncle sam will still have his shootin’ irons, and he always knows whats best, right?

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