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'd tweek that, if the thief is still in the house, TV in hand or not, sure, shoot to kill, because I agree, it's an impossible risk-to-self to assess.

However if the solo thief is halfway down the driveway with his back turned, no, the TV is not worth a life, the risk-to-self at that point has been clarified.

Across Canada, there is a very distinct trend in crime types, in Quebec, and in much of eastern Canada, material crimes are very high, in some locales ridiculously high, but people's personal integrity (disregarding 'stuff') is extremely safe. As you travel westward, the stats change gradually, until in Western Canada there is a complete reversal of stats, there is much more crimes against persons than against stuff. In Canada this trend is easier to see because our provinces are all lined up in a neat little row. Stats get messed up when you look at the northern territories whose demography is entirely different, but they're (we're) only a drop in the Canadian population, so not very relevant.

Moose, the punishment for stealing a TV is not death.

The experience of other countries is relevant

This is only partly true, as the impact of culture and resistance to change should not be underestimated. If you changed the US laws to match the UK I suspect you could wait decades and not see gun related deaths drop to the same levels (although you would see a drop in the long term).

What I think you would see in the short term in a spike in gun related deaths as people shoot the police who are trying to take their guns away and crime increases as people disarm themselves and criminals don't.

In Germany, gun ownership is 30.3 per 100 population and gun related deaths are 1.10 per 100k.

In Austria the numbers are 30.4 ownership per 100 and 2.94 deaths per 100k.

In Switzerland it is 45.7 ownership per 100 and 3.5 deaths per 100k.

There is certainly a trend, but changing cultural attitudes is also important.

A comparison can be made with drunk driving fatalities which have declined over the last twenty years to half their previous rate through tougher law enforcement combined with a national rise in the legal drinking age to 21. For those under 21 the rate of drunk driving fatalities has declined 63%.

Changing the law can accelerate cultural change.

The rate of drunk driving fatalities in the United States is now one third the rate of fire-arm related fatalities.

The number of preachers arguing the shooting in Newtown is the result of some godless action in America is growing. Amazingly, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is holding forth that gays and abortion are the cause of the shootings, even though his own mother was killed in those shootings. (Yes, she was.)

On the other hand, Ray Comfort is holding forth that Godless Brits like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are perverting our youth with their suave accents and higher educations and thus the cause of the crime.

In the meantime, here in the Greater Broadwater Metroplex, the same argument on a smaller scale is occurring in our home, between Beth and me.

Essentially the argument breaks down over whether any crime less than the threat to life (self or another) is cowardice (Beth’s word) if not met with lethal force. For example, an armed intruder stealing our microwave. An ancillary argument is the registration of firearms, as only handguns are registered (long guns are not), and whether handguns (registered or not) actually have an effect on crime reduction.

Beth holds it is cowardice if another option is available and taken (such as withdrawing out the back door) versus standing up to the intruder and shooting him. If one chooses to withdraw when that option is available, it encourages other criminals to take the same actions, and is thus cowardice (failure to take decisive action).

As a former military person, risk and penalty weigh in the decision of cowardice (choosing not to risk my life in armed opposition to someone stealing my microwave is not cowardice), and infinite punishment (death) is immoral in the face of finite crime (theft). Moreover, if killing armed intruders were a common everyday feature of the American landscape, then it would never make the national press (it would not be news); and if it were effective it would prevent intrusions.

That is not to say I wouldn’t use my shotgun (if I weren’t prepared to use it I wouldn’t own it), just that I do not see it necessary or justifiable when there is no risk of life or assault to another or me. Moreover, the time taken to get it, load it, and prepare would give up any element of surprise I might have.

Property is not worth the death penalty to me. Beth holds the opposite view (though sometimes she is so good at sardonic humour it is tough to tell if she actually believes her positions—she would make a good sardonic neo-con radio host, in the same way the Landover Baptist Church satirises religion.)

It is a frequent argument from the NRA that the right of gun ownership is that the government should fear its populace. (There is nothing like that in the II Amendment; in the amendment the purpose of bearing arms in a well-organised militia is the security of the State). I would also argue that no amount of armed populace could effectively oppose the armed forces.

I wanna tell you, it turned into quite a heated discussion, but we kissed and made up. = James.

Please consider reading and signing my atheists, agnostics, and nones acknowledgement petition on the White House petition Website. Petition must reach 150 to be visible on the site, 25,000 to be addressed by January 10. It has 53 signatures.

Even if you choose not to sign, please consider what it means when a sitting president's campaign adviser can blithely state that he does not view 1/5 of the American public as a constituency, what it means for our civil rights, and what it means to others who are religious that hear that. It is as egregious as Mitt Romney’s infamous 47% remark.

Umm... read this. It's always the guns fault, the video games fault, the devils music, or some other lame excuse for the actions of crazy people.

Attributing actions of people entirely to mental illness or personality characteristics instead of situational factors is called the fundamental attribution error.

If the only explanation we give for unusual acts is that the actor is crazy, we can overlook crucial contributing factors such as the availability of firearms or the unavailability of help.

Right, so let's forget all this mental illness hoo-doo and blame the culprit:  guns.  We don't want to push some sort of knee-jerk agenda, now do we? :)  Blame the guns!  Baaaad bullets.

You seem to be attributing to me an argument I have not made and your sarcasm suggests you lack a cogent argument of your own.

And one would note no one has come forth and said "he is my patient and he was under treatment." Or "he was my family member and he had thus-and-such."

Slinging around the mentally-ill argument with no evidence of it is dangerous to the mentally-ill, the most assaulted group of people in the USA. More than blacks. More than gays. More than children.

Yes, blame the guns. The experiment has been run. In the civilised world, where gun restrictions are much greater, the murder rate is much lower. Do all murders end? No. Have they been significantly reduced? Yes.

Beyond comparing culturally different countries, and irrelevant numbers, the thing to look at as atheists, is long term graphs of trends. Trend charts simply fail to demonstrate that anti-gun have any significant effect. Shouldn't atheists be concerned with statistically numbers and not ideological opinions? Yes armed people kill, No anti-gun laws are not effective. As countries, we're different, because we're culturally different. 
Here's a graph showing TRENDS in homicides, demonstrating that since 1990, they're falling faster in USA than Canada, yet our changes in laws is not the cause. This is the only type of graph that is valid, comparative trends over time.

There are problems with your graph and comparisons between the United States and Canada.

1) Homicide is a general term that includes both firearm homicides and non-fire homicides. Your graph seems to deal with all homicides and not just firearm homicides.

2) In the U.S. firearm homicides account for about 2/3 of all homicides while in Canada, they account for roughly 1/3. Consequently comparing total homicide rates for the two countries gives a false impression.

3) The firearm homicide rate in Canada is about 1/5 th of the rate in the United States.

You've not presented a valid comparison at all, but chosen one that you think favorable to your argument.


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