Recycling old breath

Not always, but when there’s a shooting I often get a few emails asking what we should do about mass shootings (or school shootings, or any shooting).

In modern vernacular, this would labeled as micro-aggression because I know 1) no one expects me to provide an answer and, 2) it’s just a way to remind me that — by virtue of liking guns — I’m at fault.

The more charitable (if annoying) interpretation is they want to enjoy my reaction.

My immediate answer is “I don’t know” but that’s not the whole of it. I think we should discuss and make realistic proposals. I think discussion is the only chance we have at doing something about any problem we face, including gun violence.

Unfortunately, most discussions start like this: we should ban guns and if you don’t agree, let the blood of innocent victims be on your head.

Call me ignorant but that’s not what I would classify as a good start to a discussion. Especially since “ban guns” is the totality of what they propose. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but that suggestion shows a level of ignorance about the topic of gun control that I can only understand (and partially excuse) in the context of emotion-fueled thinking devoid of any actual thinking.

I’ve dropped blogs for unreasonableness on matters of not only guns, but also health care, climate, religion and/or other supernatural beliefs.  I define unreasonableness as holding absolute positions with no room for differing opinions or willingness to compromise.  Lost me some friends, too, but I’m sure they were glad to see me go.

THIS is a link to most of what I wrote about gun control. If one is interested in engaging me in a discussion, I think people should read all the posts (including the comments) but I want to highlight three posts (for them who only have time for three posts) that encapsulate where I stand on the issue and, again, the comments sections of these posts are worth reading. 

The first:

The second:

The third:

Remember this:
I don’t have the answers. I would just like to elevate the level and quality of the discussion to where it has a chance of being useful and productive. I know, right? Fat chance on the age of Twitter and Facebook and emoji-laden communications.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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20 Responses to Recycling old breath

  1. Well, I apparently got your juices flowing. Warmest regards, Ed

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      We didn’t interact at the level I describe here. I’ve come to expect interactions after these incidents; interactions from people who know me and (think they) know my stance on guns. This post is directed at them.

      I’m also keeping off Twitter and Facebook because they are likely awash with banal snippets and accusations flying back and forth and people “liking” and reposting all manner of nonsense.

      In your case, I’m the one who asked the questions in direct response to your post. Normally, I would have ignored the post (and unsubscribed from your blog) but I got curious about the narrow stance you took and wondered if you could defend it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting you should want me to defend my position. If you look closely at the beliefs that anyone has, they are tautological and thus are not really defendable. I find most can not face that little problem and simply dismiss the other belief. Kudos to you for not doing that, at least immediately. Warmest regards, Ed


      • disperser says:

        I’m referring to non-tautological statements you made.

        Wait . . . you now said something implying no belief has any worth or basis whatsoever.

        But, if I believe I’m better off facing a charging bear armed with a rifle than a stick and you ask me why I believe so, I have a fair amount of data and metrics and simple physics I can marshal in defense of my belief and none of it is tautological.

        There is a difference between saying “I believe so because of these facts” and saying “I believe so because that’s what I believe.”

        Or, am I missing something?

        Now, I grant you that abolishing guns would greatly reduce the number of homicides and suicides by guns. That’s a narrow and obviously tautological belief. It’s another matter to claim fewer homicides and suicides overall.

        Most people clash as much about what should be done as the claimed results based on a given action. The obvious and extreme examples are “ban all guns” and “everyone walks around armed with a gun”. Those are two very different perspectives of what constitutes safety. Especially, safety from what?

        I have a low to-no fear of being shot at. I mean, it could happen.

        Relatively speaking, I have a much higher fear of being mugged or otherwise assaulted (something about me having a punchable face). It’s why I would rather walk around carrying a gun than walk around wearing a bulletproof vest. In fact, I have no plans of buying a bulletproof vest but plan to get a license to carry.

        That, by the way, is why travel to places like England is not as attractive as it might seem to others. Brits frown on methods of self-defense. That seems plain nuts to me, especially since:


        • Emily Scott says:

          What you’re not taking into account from the last crime comparison link there is that the British are natural worriers and Americans are natural optimists (generalisation – but still). Also, we don’t know anything about the contributors to that data – except that they’re self selecting, which is never very scientific.


        • disperser says:

          This is from 2017 . . . I can’t find an article I read earlier this year but I don’t think the situation has improved much . . .

          Understand, it’s not the crime itself I’m focusing on. It’s the inability to defend oneself without running afoul of the law.


        • disperser says:

          I also don’t agree American are optimists when it comes to crime. We are bombarded by the media to think mass shootings are rampant. In fact, it’s what drives conversations and why I get annoyed with laws targeting mass shootings.

          It’s akin to parents being afraid to leave their kids unsupervised (and being criticized if they do) because there’s this perception child abduction by strangers is rampant. Fewer than 100 children are abducted each year (and more than half are returned) by the stereotypical strangers (1%). In fact, going by the numbers, children are much safer with strangers than they are with relatives. But that’s not what you hear.

          Likewise, the odds of being in a mass shooting event are very small. But that’s not the impression the public (and people in other countries) have about these events.

          This is a graphic compiled by the CDC and Time:

          And those numbers included the Las Vegas shooting which had a higher body count. Understand, I’m not minimizing the horror of mass shootings. I’m saying they are oddities made out to be common-place. I’ve quoted before links to FBI and Law Enforcement studies basically concluding there’s no way to guard against those kinds of events.

          And, yes, there are more gun deaths here than there, but then we need to look at the number of Metropolitan areas (where most of these crimes are concentrated) here versus there. Also, a large number of gun deaths are suicides . . . and suicide rates are about the same the world over. They just find other means to kill themselves.

          But, again, mass shootings . . . no way to predict them, and no way to preemptively stop them. For that matter, your current laws (and Australian laws) are not magic bullets. You and Australia can easily experience mass shootings. As an aside, gun crime is on the rise in England, so I’m not all that confident your laws are effective in reducing it.

          By the way, one of the common arguments against armed citizens is that they make matters worse. But:

          And, that’s not including statistics for armed citizens intervening before the actual mass shooting occurs. Because you see, when an armed citizen stops an attacker and there are no large numbers of casualties, it doesn’t count as a mass shooting.

          It’s a complicated issue and misinformation keeps us from making any headway into addressing it.


  2. colonialist says:

    Cars kill people. Lots and lots of them. Let’s ban cars.
    As with guns, a large part of the answer is the constant drumming in of responsible use, and preventing those who might abuse the privilege from having it. And taking the privilege away with the slightest misconduct.
    I was brought up to handle firearms from early boyhood, and the cardinal rule was that you never pointed one at a person — even a toy — unless it was to save life: your own or another’s. It made my “stick-’em-up”s a bit silly in playing cowboys and crooks, but I abided by it.


    • disperser says:

      This is one area where gun owners can be obstinate. They’re suspicious of any such measures for fear of abuse.

      And, in their defense, anti-gun groups are outspoken of their plans to chip away at rights until guns are illegal to own.

      That’s another obstacle toward workable solutions because it doesn’t look as if one side is negotiating in good faith.

      Liked by 1 person

      • colonialist says:

        That is true. What next? Knives? Clubs? Baseball bats? Golf clubs? Or just Hard Stares as with Rupert the Bear?


      • disperser says:

        Sadly, speech is under a massive attack here. You can get into trouble for not knowing that something that used to mean one thing to you has suddenly changed to mean something else to others.

        We are raising generations of people who will assiduously work not to achieve, but to position themselves as victims. Victimhood has become the most coveted badge.

        I mean, do you know how much I could have achieved if I’d been a few inches taller and more handsome and didn’t stutter and had been born rich or had worked harder? Why, even now I languish in relative obscurity, the world refusing to acknowledge the greatness within me (the one I keep hidden).

        It’s not fair, I tell you, that all these other people invented stuff and made a lot of money. Or that someone incredibly talented in one thing or another is world-renowned and I can barely tie my shoes without whining about the laces being too rough. Worse yet, no one cares about my shoelaces plight.


    • Emily Scott says:

      In most countries you need to pass a driving test to drive a car. In some countries this test is pretty difficult and often requires several hours of lessons, with a fairly low pass rate the first time. This takes into account that cars can be dangerous to both the driver and others without proper training. Is there an equivalent test in the US before you can own a gun? If not, why not?


  3. I think people should be allowed guns but there should be a level of control over which people can be allowed guns. There is probably more control about weed killer than owning guns. You guys in US are plumb crazy. I of course do not understand why pulling a trigger gives any sense of satisfaction.


    • disperser says:

      I absolutely agree about levels of control!

      For instance, I’ve strongly argued and still maintain that anyone who drinks should not be allowed to even own a car, let alone drive one. Come to think of it, they shouldn’t be allowed to have kids, either.

      Also, if someone wants to own a pet, they need to promise said pet will never annoy, attack, or otherwise bother anyone. And, no pooping in my yard, thank you very much. Also, that barking thing? Yeah, not a fan and I think people should have to pay fines if I hear their dog while in my yard. Come to think of it, that goes for kids, as well.

      And cats; cat owners who let cats roam free should pay restitution for the damage to songbirds and small mammalian species. In fact, cats should be registered and if a person loses a cat or it runs away, they should be required to notify authorities. We should also institute periodic inspections to make sure said cats are properly confined from the outdoors. Come to think of it, that goes for kids, as well.

      Now, let’s talk kitchen knives . . . dreadful and deadly things, they are. I just don’t see why anyone should be allowed to own one. I mean, since I have no use for them, I can’t fathom what others see in them or understand why anyone would want to own not just one, but multiple knives of different designs and sizes. I make do with a small pocket knife and I think that’s all anyone needs.

      Music . . . did I mention that 95.63% of all music sucks? I just don’t see what pleasure people derive from noises I find annoying.

      And FOOD! FSM does most of it smell bad! Why can’t people use regular spices and ingredients instead of stuff that smells like dirty laundry? And what’s with that awful green stuff? Vegetables, I think they are called, and especially the foulest of them . . . broccoli. The stuff should be banned.


      • Interesting and amusing but doesn’t really address the issue of a country, a government and a society that will not address the issue of gun laws and tragic loss of life!


      • disperser says:

        Not sure what you mean by won’t address. Lot’s of laws about what you can and can’t do with guns. Lots of red tape to buying a gun and even more red tape about getting a permit to carry.

        If I’m lucky, I’ll have a permit sometime before the end of the year.

        Now, if you are talking about the illegal use of guns . . . well, there’s no law that will stop that. Let me remind you that we spend 4 billion+ each year on the war on drugs . . . and it does nothing. We had us an amendment prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol (think of the number of lives that could have been saved and misery that could have been avoided if it would have been enforceable) and all we got for our trouble was the rise of organized crime.

        I’m a fairly tolerant person when it comes to opinions, but what you say strikes a nerve because it sounds as if it comes from willful ignorance. It also means you didn’t bother reading my voluminous contributions to the discussion nor learning about what can and cannot be done.

        Let me throw something at you and see what you think about it.

        The UK has twice the incidence of rape than the US. Why can’t the UK do something about that? Don’t you care for the safety of women? Why won’t the UK address this problem?

        . . . I’m waiting for answers . . .

        By the way, check the statistics on rape in the UK . . . victims don’t fare well and justice is rarely served. From the outside looking in, it appalls me to read women are not allowed the opportunity to forcibly and lethally defend themselves against attackers.


      • disperser says:

        So, let me try a more measured response. There’s plenty of data from countries (including yours) on the effectiveness of gun bans on the homicide rate. Specifically for yours, the homicide rate increased after the handgun ban and only started to decrease after an increase in the number of police officers.

        Had you bothered to read some of my previous posts, I do a comparison for the per capita law enforcement numbers between the US and England. Also, the vast difference in land area and proximity to law enforcement assets.

        There’s one other thing with the UK: it’s an island. It’s a lot easier controlling the influx of guns because guns can’t swim very well, and those that do corrode pretty quickly. Automatic weapons are illegal here and yet, they find their way in the hands of non-law-abiding citizens. That’s because we have two very large and largely unsupervised borders.

        Say that the US would manage to make massive changes to our constitution (requiring 2/3 of states — and their populations — to all agree on the wording of something restricting or eliminating guns . . . we would still be awash with illegal weapons. The only difference is law-abiding citizens wouldn’t have them.

        But, let me be clear . . . our Constitution would have to be changed. You guys can’t even agree on Brexit and that’s a mandate by the people that’s still uncertain and still hotly debated.

        By the way, gun crime is on the rise in England as well, so it’s not like you guys know the answers because let’s face it, quantity aside, if you were good at controlling gun violence and gun crimes, they wouldn’t be on the rise.

        So, when you point a finger and accuse “us people” of not wanting to do anything, take a moment to work out what exactly could be done.

        But, before that, you guys should really do something about that rape thing. At the very least, you should allow women to carry and use pepper spray.


  4. Emily Scott says:

    I couldn’t reply above because WordPress wouldn’t let me, but just wanted to say I actually agree with you that mass shootings, hugely tragic as they are, are not the biggest problem as they only account for a small percentage of gun related death.

    It seems even sadder to me when children accidentally get hold of guns in their parents own homes and shoot themselves. The very guns intended to protect those children directly cause their deaths. 73 of these deaths occurred last year (and a similar figure most years) if this article is correct –

    Would you be against extra training being required before a gun can be owned? Both practical training and perhaps a multiple choice written test or classroom training. One of the lessons being – don’t keep loaded guns around when you have children in the house. You have a responsibility to keep those children safe. If you want to own a gun you should be prepared to invest a small amount of time learning about it.


    • disperser says:

      First of all, I agree that anyone wanting a gun should be mandated to have trained both for their own safety and the safety of others. Understand the Second Amendment makes this a dicey preposition because there would have to be agreement on some sort of standard of proficiency.

      You then mention about safety training if you have kids. Let’s unpack some of this.

      You likened it to driving tests . . . I’m not sure how it is in England, but the “passing” grade for driving licenses here is minimal (because we realize everyone needs a car). You pass if you get 80% of the written test correct. Frankly, I’m not happy about that. I would require at least 95% correct answers to pass a driving test, and preferably, 100% because we’re giving people access to a proven weapon of mass destruction.

      And, yes, I would require a high amount of proficiency and knowledge about guns before one is allowed to own one.

      But, fortunately, or unfortunately, owning and driving a car and owning and using a gun are not covered by the same laws. Only one is considered a right in our Constitution, the other is not.

      But, let’s look at that a bit closer. Lots of people drive without a license. Lots of people drive drunk or otherwise impaired. Do you know the leading cause of death for kids? Automobile accidents. Why aren’t parents be scared shitless of putting their kids in a car? Should it be pointed out they need more safety training and performance driving training and strict attention while driving? People look on in horror if they even see a gun but have no problem stuffing their kids in the Number 1 killer . . . automobiles.

      Some might point out firearms are also up there in number for child mortality. . . as homicides. The death rate by firearm accident is much less than that of homicides. Don’t worry, I’ll provide links at the bottom.

      Remember, I’m for mandatory training if one wants a gun . . . but I’m also for something else. Responsible parenting. Let’s look at some numbers, shall we?

      ~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0
      “Across the United States, around 800,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room each year because of accidental poisoning. Of these, around 30 children will die, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

      “Overall, accidental poisoning is the #2 cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, second behind car crashes, according to the CDC.”

      “In 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States.1 In 2015, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served more than 311,0002 child victims of abuse, providing victim advocacy and support to these children and their families.”

      “Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S annually. An estimated 683,000 children (unique incidents) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2015, the most recent year for which there is national data.”

      “A study in the journal Forensic Science International looked at three decades worth of filicide — or child killing — cases (between 1976 and 2007) and found they occurred about 500 times a year in the United States. Almost 72% of those killed by their own parents were 6 years old or younger and one-third of the victims were just babies under 1-year-old.”

      “While mothers killing their children get a lot of press time, moms represent 40% of the killers, while fathers make up 57%. Cheryl Meyer, co-author of several books on the subject, told CNN that a mother kills a child somewhere in the U.S. once every three days.”
      ~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0~ 0 ~ 0

      It annoys me that the focus is not on the parents but the gun when clearly it’s nowhere near the leading cause of deaths. Especially since parents are occasionally homicidal and opt to use a gun (they would have used other means if a gun were not present).

      500 intentional killings a year versus 73 accidental. And that’s atop incidences of abuse and neglect.

      I’m not trying to mask the problem with the illegal use of guns . . . but I am saying people are looking at the wrong thing when they look at gun crime.

      . . . and I’ve not even mentioned the influence of alcohol in all this (massive) and probably (now) things like opioids.

      But, if we want to concentrate on kids, why do we let just about anyone have a kid, often with little to no training and no ongoing supervision?

      If we were really concerned for the welfare of kids, parenting should be highly regulated and supervised and require many hours of training, much more so than the current regulations for guns. Psychological testing should be done both to get a permit to have kids and in subsequent follow-ups.

      I’m not using irony. I have an intimate knowledge of a number of people who should not have had kids. Unfortunately, having kids is seen as some sacred right. The reality is that I can randomly point to a given parent and I bet I could find at least a few objectionable, dangerous, and possibly illegal instances of bad parenting in their behavior with or around kids.

      Let’s get back to guns . . . yes, there should be training.

      But you’re looking at guns as a problem when kids get shot instead of bad parents being the problems. Here’s a thought; if you need to be trained/taught guns are dangerous and you should be careful with guns if you have kids, maybe you shouldn’t have kids in the first place.

      But, sure; let’s double or triple the training if you want both a gun and kids. Plus, let’s require a driving proficiency that is well above the average. Also, no drinking and no drugs of any kind. Also, a couple of courses in child and behavioral psychology so that one is prepared to deal with those difficult times that might make one want to murder their own kids.

      All this sounds like I’m mad.

      I’m not, but your suggestion of training to get a gun is looking at the wrong thing. The gun is only a small part of it. Will you grant me that having a parent be careless with a gun around a kid is more an indication that they shouldn’t have kids than they shouldn’t have guns?

      There should be a realization just what kind of responsibility parenting carries if done properly. I’m occasionally asked why we opted not to have kids. A big part of it was awareness of the responsibility having kids entails, and we wanted no part of it. Heck, we never even owned a dog because we weren’t sure we could allocate the time to it. Children were out of the question from the get-go.

      So, when people tell me they are concerned for kids as they speed, roll through stop signs, and generally disregard most driving laws — all the while with their kids in the car — I know they are full of crap. When I see parents shopping and there’s beer in their cart, I wonder what kind of life those kids have.

      Yes, yes, YES . . . we need better regulations for guns. To bad no one is even suggesting anything other than “ban this or that gun”.

      But, I also think we should mandate training on how to safeguard children from parents. I wish I was joking or using irony, but I’m not. I seriously think kids need protection from a large percentage of parents.

      Let me restate that I come from the perspective I should not be made to pay for other people’s stupidity, ignorance, irresponsibility, and so on. I also should not be made to pay if a person uses a gun to kill a child, especially when often it’s their own child.

      Here are some links. These first three are probably of most interest:

      Other interesting links pointing to many parents being not so good at parenting:


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