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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Mathew, no need to create one, it's existed for a long time, but it's terrible inactive.

Here are a couple of tweets from Richard Dawkins about gun control:

"Guns don't kill people, crazy people kill people." Can you believe anyone could be so STUPID as to trot that out, yet again?

"In every country, there are narcissistic, inadequate, fame-hungry losers who want to kill someone. In most countries they don’t have guns."

Here is a posted reply considering his scientific credibility:

‘Why can’t this limey bastard understand that high-powered murder weapons actually save lives?’

Because he studies statistics? That’s what Professors do apparently. They consider the facts, like gun homicide rates, gun violence rates, etc.,

In 2000 England and Wales had a 8% firearm homicide rate while the US was 65%.

That might be why Dawkins has the opinions he has about guns.

Just a guess on my part though. Perhaps he cares more about people in modern societies than the US Constitution and it’s unquestionable right to let the populace arm itself.

He's not using numbers, he's using ideas, just as we're doing here. In fact Dawkins often argues from an ideological perspective and not facts. It's of course his right, specially in circumstances where no good statistics are available. Dawkins is no god, and his word need not always be adulated. Adulation is a suspicious behaviour. For an entire population of "free-thinkers" so spend so much time quoting just a couple of pop figures is more than depressing to me. Thankfully, Dawkins has not been over quoted in this conversation! or else I'd have left before. As a fellow biologist and teacher, we are allowed to have debates and disagree yes? This is the type of thing which happens when faced with a lack of real facts. People disagree and must debate ideas instead.

Now what would be a true atheist position, or an improved one would be this: Given the lack of experimental evidence regarding the efficacy of random anti-gun legislation... we should conduct an experiment. In the USA, chose a few states of similar economic disparity and wealth, and test various versions of anti-gun legislation. Let this run for a decade, then draw some real conclusions from at least relevant studies.

I support psychological help and education and finances to test and train public school facilities to prevent entry by terrorism.  Social discussions on styles and functions of different guns can certainly be debated and challenged.  The focus of safety in perspective of time should be afforded to the immediate needs of school safety and health, as well as other public areas.

"You know what atheists like to do? We like to pretend we are reasoning."

Yeah, I'm back. Perhaps briefly.

Weeks of reading the views here on gun ownership resulted in my writing those words in an essay on why I like A/N and similar sites for non-believers. Most of us do, on many issues, rely on the methods of science. Here, not so much.

Posting statistics, metaphorically hurling them at each other, is not reasoning; it is an emotion-based substitute for reasoning. Happily, statistics are not lethal. Also happily, I can read and be either persuaded or not persuaded by them.

If we Americans were to vote on gun regulations we would have background checks...for the law-abiding among us. We would not surrender our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

At TNT666:

Actually those who would place certain restrictions on gun ownership (not "anti-gun folk") do have statistics.

The II Amendment does not trump the other amendments and Constitutional rights (such as voting, free speech, free press, &c). The II Amendment also calls for a "well-ordered Militia, necessary for the security of a Free State." It was a court case that decided "individual" is the functional equivalent of "well-ordered militia." It is also noteworthy that American Rifleman when it quotes the II Amendment always seems to leave out the first clause of that amendment.

How has the restriction on your purchasing hand grenades or anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles impacted on your right to bear arms as part of a well-ordered militia? Those are arms. The II Amendment does not specify which kind of arms.

We'll start with cars. One hundred years ago states started licensing drivers and autos; this did not result in the taking of cars away from owners; it did result in better prosecution rates for auto crimes.

In the Seventies, the "impossible" ruling of installing safety belts in autos came into force. No surprise, auto deaths per 100,000 crashes plummeted.

Stricter rulings against drunken driving have been adopted by all states. Drunken driving deaths have plummeted too, though no one came for the alcohol or bars (it was the religious that did that in 1919).

Every Western nation that has imposed gun restrictions of some sort or another has seen a concomitant reduction of deaths by guns. This experiment has already been run, repeatedly.

Now in the USA, thanks to restrictions placed on the government studying gun violence and mitigation factors thanks to legislation crafted long ago by the NRA, we do not have recent data here, and it is unlawful for the government to gather such data.

Why would the NRA support such legislation, and continue to this day to fight against the idea that gathering empirical evidence is bad? Could it be they are afraid of the result? After all, the tobacco industry did the same thing for many years, and look what happened when the government was allowed to gather evidence for the putative health benefits of smoking. (Yes, the tobacco industry used to tout smoking as healthful.)

We have the evidence from Mexico, that its own gun control laws were in fact reducing gun deaths, until the War on Drugs arrived, and hundreds of gun shops opened along our southern border selling weapons to straw buyers to carry to criminals in Mexico. Aside from any issue of whether guns made Mexico more safe (they did not), said gun dealers and their NRA masters are in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (subverting the laws or officials of a foreign country is against the law here).

But like Fox News and Rupert Murdoch, the NRA and its gun dealers will not be prosecuted: follow the money.

"But like Fox News and Rupert Murdoch, the NRA and its gun dealers will not be prosecuted: follow the money."

Cynicism can quickly relieve the symptoms of stress; it does not relieve the stressor. It's also resorted to by people who feel powerless.

Except that it is not cynicism when it is true. And you assume I am powerless, and that I am cynical . . . seems quite a stretch on one remark I made, and you didn't answer the issue of why we need so many gun shops along the desert boundaries of the USA when hardly anyone lives there, or why we are not enforcing our laws. Those were not cynical statements, those are truthful ones.

Fox News openly states that they report the "other side of the story." That implies that stories only have two sides, and Fox only reports one of them.

Have you seen Rupert Murdoch prosecuted yet for News Corporation's paper News of the World in the phone hacking scandal in England? For corrupting Scotland Yard inspectors and members of the UK Parliament? Rebeccah Brookes (his final editor of News of the World, selected after the paper was called on the carpet) was jailed.

Our laws say the corporation should be heavily fined and its officers jailed. Didn't happen, isn't happening. The congressional commission called to study the issue never released a report one way or the other.

Fox News reporters themselves were caught on tape noting they would not cover the issue (from CNN:

For scores of examples of how Fox manipulates the news, see LiberalViewer's channel on how they selectively quote, edit, cherry pick, &c.

He goes after other news outlets on this channel when they make such "errors," but Fox is the overwhelming host of the entries.

James, what follows are my conclusions and opinions. You need not agree.

Political idealism and cynicism differ from the philosophical idealism and cynicism I studied in college.

A political idealist needs the world to be better than it is; a political cynic needs the world to be worse than it is.

A political realist deals with the world as it is. Henry Kissinger used the German "real politik".

Politics is about power and four years in hardball politics, during which six men lost their jobs and one man lost his life, changed my perspective. My political idealism became political cynicism, until my opponents gave me a compliment; they'd recognized my power.

You predicted, "...the NRA and its gun dealers will not be prosecuted...." A prediction might be accurate; it is neither true not false.

Your prediction expressed pessimism about the future.

Your "follow the money" identified a motive, and a pessimistic view became a cynical view.

You predicted failure, powerlessness. I would have said it's for someone to prosecute, keeping my power.

James, you're free to reject my conclusions and opinions; your choice will affect your future, not mine.

Tom you are focusing on James predicting failure and powerlessness. Isn't the person who needs guns predicting failure of government or failure of law enforcement.  You might reply that you are being a realist with that approach. But, a realist should also have to acknowledge those approaches are working in other countries and the numbers coming in from those countries back that up.

Mathew, most of this we've done/said here enough that I don't feel like going over it again. But on seatbelts, no, it's a totally different math altogether. Seatbelts were fully tested before they were mandated. Thousands of test dummies were put through the wringer (unlike light-weight helmets in sports) and were amply demonstrated to EFFECTIVELY RESTRAIN PEOPLE IN THEIR SEAT. Since being thrown from the vehicle was a major cause of serious injury and death, keeping the person in their seat was demonstrated, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to save many lives. They do what they are meant to do, it was demonstrated with solid statistical analysis before laws were passed. That was a correct procedure to follow.

Numbers from other countries are just numbers in a void. There is no indication whatsoever that they provide insight on the efficacy of anti-gun legislation. You're focusing all your math inquiry into a social snapshot instead of looking at long term trends. That simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

And I'm sorry to inform you, but your example of "scientific" procedure is simply misinformed. In order to test whether anti-gun laws are effective, if you refuse to actually run a proper experimental model, and desire against rationality to rely strictly on demographic data, then, as I've indicated to Russel several times, your graphs must accomplish this: demonstrate a STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT difference between the "before" trend and the "after" trend. Without a conclusive demonstration of CAUSALITY, any data purporting to be "scientific" is just hot air. Comparing Canada and USA has no scientific credibility. We have different population density, different wealth disparity, different demographics (Canada's violence is incredibly unequal across the country), different drinking ages, different gun manufacturing industries, different educational attitudes and different healthcare. Comparing Australia to Canada would make a little more sense...

If personal knowledge is worth nothing in a conversation my dear, then acquiring that personal knowledge is worth nothing... then the entire debate on educating people to reduce social problems must be in vain too.

TNT, you're right about statistical significance. There once was a time when researchers could ignore it and get their work published. Not now.




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