I seemed to have switched over almost entirely to FB, though I take an unfortunate blogging approach to it, linking articles and making short comments. I suppose it forces me to edit and be concise.
Nonetheless, I still feel the urge to make a more complete argument at times.
Gun control came up again, because there has been another shooting. Since then, there has been yet another. You will note that Bethany over at Graph Paper Diaries on the sidebar has a statistics-based post, which has already gotten pushed down the list, but is worth reading. Most of you have likely also seen the Volokh essay from the Washington Post which she links internally. (If not, it shows zero correlation between strictness of gun laws and homicide rates.) For the record. I don't own a gun, and other than the occasional BB gun at another kid's house, my only experience with firearms was .22 caliber target shooting at summer camp. Archery was the only thing I was worse at. Hunting was not part of my family culture. My grandfather went back once a year to Nova Scotia to hunt with his brothers, and perhaps he hunted for food around Westford MA before I was born. My father shot varmints away from Grampa Wyman's garden, I think. I have no desire to take up any of the shooting sports. As I live in NH, my current need for self-defense weapons is slight. Four of my five sons shoot, none often. I have less than zero dogs in this fight.
My simplest formulation is that the government has to show compelling overriding interest in order to take away a right. That evidence just doesn't exist. There are a lot of bad arguments that look like they are relevant, but just aren't. I agree that yes, background checks, waiting periods, and outlawing weapons of warfare sound like they should reduce violence. But they don't. It is actually weird to read comments sections on the issue, because there are lots and lots of people who just know that particular laws will reduce mass shootings, because of some pretty odd reasoning. I will note in passing that locking up all disgruntled loners is not really a mental-health strategy. There are way too many, and it would be a pretty intolerant society.
If you find a gun law that actually reduces homicides, I'm all ears.
This is all complicated by the fact that the pro-2nd Amendment rights people also make some bad arguments, and make them loudly. Nothing convinces some liberals faster than a conservative making a stupid argument. The need to be associated with the thinking of experts, and wise folks, and the Best People trumps everything else. Wherever we're going, it's not there.
For example, references to Obama/Democrats/Liberals wanting to confiscate all our guns is not helping their case. It is true that there are a not-insignificant percentage of citizens who would indeed like there to be no guns. But that doesn't mean anyone will come to your house demanding you hand your firearms over, Bucko. Not gonna happen, so conjuring that image makes you sound paranoid. As a practical matter, there will be continuing pressure to make it harder to get guns by restricting some people. Similarly, guns will be taken from others for reasons, often good ones, though not always. Taxing the hell out of them might be tried. But it won't be confiscation, because, well, we won't call it that.
I note that strictness in gun laws seem to follow in places that already have low homicide rates. They may be a result of less violence rather than a cause. Western Europe had low rates of internal violence - a level of cooperation which also allowed them to engage in warfare against others very effectively. So after WWII, in their horror over all things shooting, they passed more and more restrictive laws about guns. But their homicide rates did not drop dramatically after that, just the same slow decline they had been seeing for years.
The big number differences between wealthy nations, and between American states are deeply tied to black-on-black crime and to different groups of any type living cheek-by-jowl. That latter has been observed worldwide among tribes that are of the same race but see themselves as different. England and Ireland, for example. France and Germany. Tutsis and Hutus. Sunnis and Shias. That this would be present in the US among people who don't even look like 2nd cousins should hardly be surprising, but apparently it was upsetting enough for Harvard's Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) to hide his research for four years, so that people like me wouldn't coming to any wrong conclusions. Looking at the numbers, I would say that Americans do pretty well, compared to everyone else in the world. But when disparate groups are in contact, violence rises in both groups.
As to the former, I don't know why. Conservatives like to point to the breakdown of the black family, which co-occurs, but that's been elusive to prove. Income, education, employment - all sound like they should be factors, but they seem weak at best. There may be something genetic, but that's been more of a process-of-elimination answer, and I don't think we've eliminated all the possibilities. Even at that, it may only mean that there is a greater percentage of low-impulse control individuals, whose anger is potentiated by bad circumstances, leaving the greater percentage of African-Americans about like everyone else, with the greater burden of having to be in close contact with more bad actors.
I also note that not all African tribes are especially violent; there are European tribes which are more violent than others (There's that Hajnal Line showing up again); Native tribes differed greatly in violence, and my loose understanding of Asian history suggests differences there as well. But for whatever reason, the numbers are simply there, an 8x higher homicide rate, that doesn't occur in the Netherlands or Switzerland. Take out those two factors and the American rates are the same as European - and the European rates are climbing.
I had a thought that more armed middle-aged black people would be a excellent, and were more of a thing in their culture. Yet I sense that in African-American culture there is enough horror of violence and wanting to distance oneself from that whole way of living that complete renunciation of guns is more emphatic. But I'm just guessing here.