Atheists are a small minority in the U.S.  Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions.  There are probably divergent views.

I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes.  It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.

As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion.  I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes.  Gun control and universal health care.

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I’m enjoying this debate but let’s get back to the original topic:  what is Atheist Reasoning on the issue of gun control.  To my mind, I blame organized religion for most of the problems in the world.  The notion of afterlife undermines the beauty and wonder of this life.  People wouldn’t be shooting and bombing one another if they realized that this is all there is; we only go around once and we’re so lucky to be alive.    

People wouldn’t be making babies like crazy either.  There’s no doubt in my mind that overpopulation engenders violence.  WWII is a perfect example:  Japan’s 1930s invasion of Manchuria, Germany’s intrusion into the Poland and Russia both had lebensraum (living space) as a primary cause.  There’re countless other examples throughout history: the Cimbri incursion into Italy, the Viking exploitation of Europe, the American manifest destiny.  Overpopulation was at the root of all of it. 

Consider Nigeria, a country of 80 million living in the area the size of Texas.  No wonder they’re throwing bombs in churches, drafting children into rebel armies and hanging gays.  I don’t think strict gun control laws would help alleviate the country’s problems.  How about using oil money to reform and foster education, installing planned parenthood centers on every block in Lagos, enacting draconian anti-corruption laws to punish politicians who cause untold poverty and misery, and above all bodily throwing the Catholic cardinal out of the country and making every priest, mullah and rabbi in the country get a job like everybody else. 

If my proposals work in Nigeria, they might work here as well.  We have to get to the root of the problem and that’s overpopulation, hence religion.


Richard, don't you sometimes ask how intelligent the xian intelligent designer was?

For any atheists capable of critical reasoning following critical reading of graphs, we should all be able to see that shooting trends were on the decline before various states/countries passed their various anti-gun legislations, and that rates did not drop faster immediately after such legislation, and have continued to drop at globally similar levels since such legislation. Furthermore comparing countries of different cultures is pretty useless.

A more valid comparison is between Canadians kill rates and USA kill rates, which have been getting closer through the years, even though one would expect them to stay at the same difference from each other.

There is an issue which is always silenced EVERY time there a crime spree and there are crime sprees in all countries, no matter the country... it's always religious males (well nearly always). Religiosity is a mental illness, combine this with "boys will be boys" parenting techniques, and you get rampaging males killing more females and children, because men feel entitled to dominate all around them, because they're boys.

This listing provides the top 15 rampages in each category and in each country, you can go beyond each top 15 and look at each list individually. Have fun counting the females, you don't need many fingers.

If being atheist is at all relevant in this topic, it should mean being able to look at stats critically instead of listening to media fear hype. Hopefully, atheist breeders don't use the "boys will be boys" parental technique.

Speaking of guns in schools - I wrote this a couple of years ago.  A brief moment of intense fear, a confessional to a wimpy response in the face of a perceived danger and how I made my daughter really paranoid.

Growing up, my parents were friends with a couple a couple of villages away. We'd visit each other on weekends. Their mom and my mom are both high anxiety, but I'm a rebellious kid by nature, so I always scoffed at my mom. But the other mom's anxiety levels were sky high. She had two daughters, the eldest has become a nut case, the second one is a stereotypically normal human being.

We can only hope that your daughter is the kind of person who has the ability to resist parental fears.

There is another aspect of this issue that needs attention: the reluctance of people to get involved in a situation where foreknowledge could prevent a tragedy. I have a specific example in mind, but it suggests the broader context.

My youngest son lost a friend in a campus shooting exactly twenty years to the day before the shooting at Sandy Hook. In this case the college knew the shooter had weapons in his dorm room against their rules, but preferred not to invade his privacy. The campus mail room knew that he had received ammunition through the mail, but did not confiscate it or notify anyone. The resident assistant in the shooter's dorm was warned by friends that the shooter was after him and that he should leave campus for the weekend. He did, but told no one in authority. The shooter positioned himself so he had a bead on the library door and killed one faculty member and one student, my son's friend.

Stricter gun laws can help to reduce violence overall, but in individual instances there are often people aware that someone is becoming dangerous and there are authorities who can act. Our laws should protect those who give advanced warning. Often people with mental problems only hurt themselves, but you don't know that in advance and speaking up can make the difference between tragedy and tragedy averted.

Charles M. Blow has an op-ed piece in this morning's New York Times accompanied by a chart that shows clearly how exceptional the United States is among the high income countries of the world in its policies and their results. (Unfortunately the chart exceeds the size allowed here by quite a bit, but you can find it online at the NYTimes.) Blow summarizes the statistics in these words:

In the wake of the horrible school shooting in Connecticut and on the heels of politicians finally being smoked out into the open to talk seriously about sensible gun control policies, it’s important that we understand just how anomalous America is on the issues of guns and violence among developed countries. This table shows how shamefully we measure up against other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among the O.E.C.D. countries that the World Bank groups as “high income,” America has the highest gun homicide rate, the highest number of guns per capita and the highest rate of deaths due to assault. In fact, America has more homicides by gun than all of the other high-income O.E.C.D. countries combined.

It’s just shameful.

[My emphasis]

Thanks for that info.  Some interesting graphics here.    also here.    How do people get past, we have the most guns and the most gun-related murders.  Coincidence?  Of it's Americans that the gun owners are afraid of, since they consider Americans so violent?  

I like the usefulness of the "Surging gun and ammo purchases", surging purchases yes, BUT look at the trend in crime over time I posted, during that very same period, crime was going down faster in the USA than Canada. Graphs that do not take trends over time are useless and  cherry-pick data.

You seem to be equating the terms crime, homicide, and firearm homicide. See my reply above—your trend graph doesn't show what you think it does.

Dr. Clark,

I hope the measures you cited are not the only measures that lead you to conclude that the US of A is exceptional, anomalous, and unique among the world's high-, medium-, and low-income nations.

BTW, is not the phrase "sensible gun control" an overused cliche? It says as little about gun control as the House Republican term "spending cuts".

As the saying goes... Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn... how they're dying, only the total homicide rate is of interest to me. Looking at one one homicide style and closing our eyes to the other homicides is a wonderful form of cherry picking data for an ideological stance. The facts are that the total homicide rate is and has been for a long time, on the decrease, and all of the knee-jerking going right now on because of a couple of highly mediatised events is totally irrelevant to a rational assessment of facts. It depresses me that people who claim to have critical thinking do not see through this media hype.



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