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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You missed the paradoxical intention in TNT's "Yes I know, you think other methods of murder are totally cool."

Yes, I took it for irony, not paradox.

What are your feelings about other methods of murder and their consequences?

You know there are other methods. You know that murder harms people other than the deceased.

Yet in everything you've posted, you have acknowledged nothing.

It's true that I've omitted a lot of cabbages and kings, but the thread is about guns and gun control so I felt there was justification.

But the OP itself is "un-atheist" in that it's an unreasonable question, setting up a straw man debate. The trick to critical thinking is to not let yourself be limited by a absurdly limiting question, and address the real facts and evidence, instead of dogma.  Evidence that anti-gun laws significantly reduce rates of murders is sorely lacking, even in this discussion.

The people here who think restrictions on assault rifles may be helpful are hearing from TNT that we can't supply hard data that proves gun controls make a difference.  TNT rejects the comparisons to other countries because they are different cultures.  I don't think you should be able to do that. But lets look at a culture in the U.S. that changed with a different law enforcement approach.

Why don't we go with a New York cultural example.  I remember a time when it was considered very unsafe to visit the city.  That got dramatically turned around by policing methods that were cutting edge.  I don't think the top cops looked for an experimental model to justify their actions - they reasoned and acted and got results. 

TNT - are you advocating that until hard data comes in that satisfies your atheist critical thinking skills nothing should be done to improve on a country with one of the worst records for developed nations?

Maybe we should try a controlled experiment where one State has all guns banned, another State gets some guns and one State has open season on all types of weapons.  Wait ten years and see what happens.

I think the current Mayor of New York has a good read on the access to weapons problem in the U.S.

Russell, the NY reduction in overall crime rates has been sociologically studied (I'm not going to cite all the articles on the topic, but they're researchable and there's plenty of them). And the general conclusion is that the drop in general crimes rates in that city are multi-factorial and ANOVA statistical analysis fails to point to a specific policy change that is the preponderant causal agent.

The proof we have that anti-gun laws are not singly effective is all the graphs that have been presented here and the www generally, show there is no significantly positive outcome after such laws. The experiment has been done, and it's inconclusive.

I'm watching Piers McDonald at the instant and I'm reaching the point at which I'm going to have to never watch that show again because his speaking tactics are equal to FOX Tv.

As atheists, we need to focus on hard facts... up to this day in time, there is no CAUSAL LINK established by any of our stats.

INCONCLUSIVE: an important word in the assessment of causal agents.

TNT - Did you read that article.  It ends with the following:

"Like race relations or gay rights, gun regulation will be a product of cultural change along with legal reform. The entire nation has a role to play. The first move, however, belongs to Washington. Mr. President?"

Let's hope the U.S. is up for a cultural change and their homicide rates drop to be more in line with other developed nations.

I hope nobody will argue that if the culture does change to be more like Canada or England (less than half the U.S murder rate) and Norway (about 1/7 the U.S murder rate) that they would not want to be part of that culture because it happened to include a ban on assault rifles.

But I've been surprised before.

Not paradox, but paradoxical intention - intensifying an emotional state in order to make more clear the irrationality of the emotional reaction.

A person's, especially an intelligent person's, focusing exclusively on one explanation reveals an emotional state whose existence s/he will probably deny. TNT deconstructed your argument, or read it closely, for its implication that "other methods of murder are totally cool."

Other methods of murder are relevant; cabbages and kings are not.

Sorry, but nothing in my argument could reasonably be construed to carry such an implication. My point was that the division between gun-related homicides and others is quite different in Canada and the United States so that using only the statistics for all homicides distorts the picture.

Dr. Clark, I write on law-related issues and occasionally, upon re-reading for clarification, find that I produced a sentence too complex for my mind, let alone for the average mind.

Your post's second sentence--The notion that no restrictions consistent with Constitutional rights can be placed on gun ownership which will improve safety in public places is not sensible--is such a sentence.

Decades have passed since I last felt a need to parse an English-language sentence. Yours seemed to make sense after I took out the "no" before "restrictions".

I long ago decided that voting Democratic or Republican required me to decide first whether I'd had enough soft-in-the-head politics or hard-in-the-heart politics.

Soft-in-the-head? The Mariel Boatlift, when Castro emptied a hard-pressed Cuba's prisons and mental institutions and put them on boats to Florida. Democrats welcomed them. Add Clinton's signing the Glass-Stegal Act repeal.

Hard-in-the-heart? The mid-1980s decision by Republicans, who had tried but failed in Congress to cut social programs, decided to borrow the country into bankruptcy. They succeeded. Add the policies of today's Republican Party.

Your insistence that guns be registered betrays your lack of understanding that America's political parties are, and have long been, in the employ of those with wealth. The parties have always been in a state of economic warfare with America's working people.

Evidence? Read American history.

Not high school history, but the Records of the Federal \Convention of 1787, where for instance Alexander Hamilton said the rich and well born should govern, and James Madison said the government should protect the minority of the opulent from the majority.

Or, the history of the US Supreme Court. From shortly after the Civil War to the 1930's depression, the Court's rulings were more than friendly to Business; they were hostile to Labor. For instance, the 1905 Lochner ruling. Its social Darwinism embarrasses many of today's attorneys, except of course many corporate attorneys.

No alert American trusts this government of, by and for the wealthy.

No alert gun owner wants the world's most militarized government to know who has guns.

Dr. Clark, you are not in touch with economic reality.


Sounds like the wealthy are doing just fine and all the guns in the deep South do not really make a difference.

Here is a letter I had published in one of our national newspapers about attack ads that wonders about how money is influencing policy.  Having no gun controls doesn't have any impact on the outcome of injustice.

Gerry Nicholls says that negative ads “inform voters about a candidate’s possible flaws.” A textbook example of that is demonstrated in the documentary Hot Coffee and the negative campaign to oust Oliver Diaz from the Mississippi Supreme Court to insure a big business slant in the judicial system.

Deep pockets financed a smear campaign in the election and Oliver, with less money, was still able to prevail. The meager funds he did get resulted in a bogus charge of bribery. After he showed that to be spurious, he was hit with another bogus charge of tax evasion.

Completely exonerating himself from those charges took up three years and people with their busy lives only remembered the bad press. In the next election there was a lot of good material for special interests to draw upon and Oliver was bounced. This new Supreme Court routinely ruled in favour of big business over the little guy.

Negative ads allow those with money and power to hire communication consultants to influence citizens to go against their own safeguards.

Russell Pangborn, Keswick

Russell, I don't understand how the points in your reply relate to those I made.

Dr. Clark, I write on law-related issues and occasionally, upon re-reading for clarification, find that I produced a sentence too complex for my mind, let alone for the average mind.

Your post's second sentence--The notion that no restrictions consistent with Constitutional rights can be placed on gun ownership which will improve safety in public places is not sensible--is such a sentence.


Not my best effort to be sure, so let's restate the entire thought in better form:

1. We can sensibly place restrictions on gun ownership to improve public safety.

2. Those restrictions can be consistent with Constitutional rights under the second amendment.

Dr. Clark, you are not in touch with economic reality.

When someone raises 'economic reality' as the clincher in an argument, it signals to me a demand to be allowed to make a profit no matter what the consequences. That was the argument against restrictions on tobacco years ago: you could not interfere with the right of tobacco farmers to make a living from their crop even though it was killing people. Economic reality then was that you could make ten times as much from planting tobacco as from any other crop.

I am quite aware that we live in a plutocracy and not a democracy. The government for the most part serves the rich, not the poor. However, the rule of the rich is not absolute and once in a while the government is forced to do the right thing. If being in touch with economic reality means foregoing hope that things might improve despite the dominance of the wealthy, yes, I'm deliberately out of touch with that kind of reality.

Decades have passed since I last felt a need to parse an English-language sentence. Yours seemed to make sense after I took out the "no" before "restrictions".

There's the problem—you're out of practice or you're reading below grade level.

Every person must parse occasionally or lose the skill.

My referring to the views expressed by Hamilton and Madison did not make sufficiently clear that the economic reality to which I referred is the economic war waged by what is now a highly militarized government against the non-wealthy in America.

America's wealthiest have long needed only to buy the legislation they need. During the 1930s Depression, a few of them feared that the economic harm being done to the non-wealthy would weaken trust in capitalism. They plotted to overthrow the Roosevelt administration. ((Read about it in Wikipedia; search on "Smedley Butler".)

Protecting a freedom newly won from England was an original purpose of the Second Amendment. Protecting our freedom remains a purpose, but an attack on our freedom now will come from America's wealthy and their militarized government.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

To minimize any likelihood of misreading the above:

Such an attack won't come from the enemies George W. Bush claimed to see; he was making propaganda. The attacks we have experienced are payback for decades of American foreign policy in the Middle East. That the attacks have been carried out by "non-state actors" is an inevitable result of the decades during which America has paid off the rulers of their states.



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