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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Right to Self Defense, Gun Ownership, and Deterence of Crime
Thread: Right to Self Defense, Gun Ownership, and Deterence of Crime [ This thread is 55 pages long: (1) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 ]
Elodin
Elodin


Promising
Legendary Hero
Free Thinker
posted April 28, 2011 04:47 PM
Edited by Elodin at 16:49, 28 Apr 2011.

Right to Self Defense, Gun Ownership, and Deterence of Crime

Should people be allowed to carry fire arms? Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house? Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim? Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?


Clicky

Quote:

LAWYERS, GUNS, AND BURGLARS

David B. Kopel [FNa1]

Copyright © 2001 Arizona Board of Regents; David B. Kopel

I. Introduction

   So we drove down the road, and I was lookin' for a house that looked like if there was somebody at home that it'd be somebody that didn't carry a gun or didn't have no weapons in the house, so they couldn't use them.
   -- Arkansas burglar [FN1]

In recent years, litigators have begun to displace legislators as American lawmakers. Recently, more than two dozen cities and counties, under the coordination of an anti-gun organization, have filed suits against handgun manufacturers. [FN2]

While the effect of these suits may be to impose de facto handgun prohibition by driving manufacturers out of business, or by making handguns affordable only to the wealthy, these suits claim that handgun manufacturers should be held accountable for the externalities imposed by their products. For example, since city government hospitals spend money treating the victims of *346 gunshot wounds, it is argued that handgun manufacturers should be forced to reimburse city governments. [FN3]

The handgun suits are not unique; they are the latest manifestation of a growing trend to have litigators and courts decide complex questions of social policy which had previously been reserved to the legislature. Alcohol, prescription drugs, high-fat foods, and automobiles have all been discussed as potential future lawsuit targets if the handgun cases succeed. The handgun cases, it should be noted, are partly funded with the plaintiffs attorneys' winnings from the tobacco cases. [FN4]

This Article analyzes one specific reason why courts are ill-suited to exercise legislative functions, as the handgun suits and similar cases ask the courts to do: courts cannot properly assess the true socioeconomic costs and benefits of controversial products. To illustrate the point, this Article looks in detail at a very large positive externality which is overlooked in the handgun suits: the major role that widespread gun ownership plays in reducing the rate of home invasion burglaries (a.k.a "hot burglaries"). Because potential burglars cannot tell which homes possess guns, most burglars choose to avoid entry into any occupied home, for fear of getting shot. [FN5] The entry pattern of American burglars contrasts sharply with that of burglars in other nations; in Canada and Great Britain, burglars prefer to find the residents at home, since alarms will be turned off, and wallets and purses will be available for the taking. [FN6]

Consequently, American homes which do not have guns enjoy significant "free rider" benefits. Gun owners bear financial and other burdens of gun ownership; but gun-free and gun-owning homes enjoy exactly the same general burglary deterrence effects from widespread American gun ownership. This positive externality of gun ownership is difficult to account for in a litigation context (since the quantity and cost of deterred crime is difficult to measure), and may even go unnoticed by court--since the free rider beneficiaries (non-gun owners) are not represented before the court. [FN7]

Part International Comparisons of this Article looks at the differences between the behavior of American burglars and their cousins in other nations. Part Risks to American Burglars specifies the risks that American burglars face from various deterrents, including armed victims. Part Target Selection by Burglars details how burglars choose targets, while empirical data about burglary deterrence are analyzed in Part Real-world Tests of the Deterrence Model. Part Confrontations Involving Burglars looks at what happens during confrontations between burglars and victims. Part Guns Compared to Other Anti- Burglary Devices compares and contrasts defensive firearms ownership with other anti-burglary strategies, such as guard dogs. Policy implications and network effects of firearms ownership are explored in Part Policy Implications.

*347

II. International Comparisons

It is axiomatic in the United States that burglars avoid occupied homes. As an introductory criminology textbook explains, "Burglars do not want contact with occupants; they depend on stealth for success." [FN8] Only thirteen percent of U.S. residential burglaries are attempted against occupied homes. [FN9] But this happy fact of life, so taken for granted in the United States, is not universal.

The overall Canadian burglary rate is higher than the American one, and a Canadian burglary is four times more likely to take place when the victims are home. [FN10]

In Toronto, forty-four percent of burglaries were against occupied homes, and twenty-one percent involved a confrontation with the victim. [FN11] Most Canadian residential burglaries occur at night, while American burglars are known to prefer daytime entry to reduce the risk of an armed confrontation. [FN12]

Research by the federal government's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that, based on 1994 data, American youths 10 to 17 years old had much higher arrest rates than Canadian youths for every category of violent and property crime. The lone exception was burglary, for which Canadian youths were one-third more likely to be involved. [FN13] In cities such as Vancouver, home invasion burglaries aimed at elderly people have become endemic, and murders of the elderly during those burglaries all too frequent. [FN14] Unfortunately, help from the government is not always available. In Quebec, the provincial police (Sureté du Québec) are under orders from their commander to reduce arrests for burglary, because the jails are full. [FN15]
*348

A 1982 British survey found fifty-nine percent of attempted burglaries involved an occupied home. [FN16] The Wall Street Journal reported:

   Compared with London, New York is downright safe in one category: burglary. In London, where many homes have been burglarized half a dozen times, and where psychologists specialize in treating children traumatized by such thefts, the rate is nearly twice as high as in the Big Apple. And burglars here increasingly prefer striking when occupants are home, since alarms and locks tend to be disengaged and intruders have little to fear from unarmed residents. [FN17]

In Britain, seventy-seven percent of the population was afraid of burglary in 1994, compared to sixty percent in 1987. [FN18] The London Sunday Times, pointing to Britain's soaring burglary rate, calls Britain "a nation of thieves." [FN19] In the Netherlands, forty-eight percent of residential burglaries involved an occupied home. [FN20] In the Republic of Ireland, criminologists report that burglars have little reluctance about attacking an occupied residence. [FN21]

Of course, differences in crime-reporting and crime-recording behavior between nations limit the precision of comparative criminal data. Nevertheless, the difference in home invasion burglary rates between the United States and other nations is so large that it is unlikely to be a mere artifact of crime data quirks. [FN22]
*349

Why should American criminals display such a curious reluctance to perpetrate burglaries, particularly against occupied residences? The answer cannot be that the American criminal justice system is so much tougher than the systems in other nations. During the 1980s, the probability of arrest and the severity of sentences for ordinary crimes in Canada and Great Britain were at least as great as in the United States. [FN23] Could the answer be that American criminals are afraid of getting shot? The introductory American criminology textbook states, "Opportunities for burglary occur only when a dwelling is unguarded." [FN24] Why is an axiomatic statement about American burglars so manifestly not true for burglars in other countries.

III. Risks to American Burglars


A. Risks to Burglars from Victims

One out of thirty-one burglars has been shot during a burglary. [FN25] On the whole, when an American burglar strikes at an occupied residence, his chance of being shot is about equal to his chance of being sent to prison. [FN26] If we assume that the risk of prison provides some deterrence to burglary, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the equally large risk of being shot provides an equally large deterrent. In other words, private individuals with firearms in their homes double the deterrent effect that would exist if government-imposed punishment were the only deterrent.

How frequently are firearms actually used in burglary situations? The only comprehensive study of the subject was undertaken by five researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"). [FN27] Although some CDC studies on firearms have been criticized for obvious technical errors and bias, [FN28] this particular study simply reported the facts as the researchers found them. In 1994, random-digit-dialing phone calls were made throughout the United States, resulting in 5,238 interviews. [FN29] The interviewees were asked about use of a firearm in a burglary situation during the last twelve months.
*350

Thirty-four percent of the interviewees admitted to owning a firearm. This figure is low compared to dozens of other national studies of household firearms ownership. [FN30] Perhaps the telephone interviewers encountered an especially high number of people who were unwilling to disclose their ownership of a gun (and would therefore be unwilling to disclose, later in the interview, their use of that gun). [FN31] Thus, the burglary researchers are more likely to have underestimated anti-burglar firearms use than to have over-estimated it.

The researchers found that six percent of the sample population had used a firearm in a burglary situation in the last twelve months. [FN32] Extrapolating the polling sample to the national population, the researchers estimated that in the last twelve months, there were approximately 1,896,842 incidents in which a householder retrieved a firearm but did not see an intruder. [FN33] There were an estimated 503,481 incidents in which the armed householder did see the burglar, [FN34] and 497,646 incidents in which the burglar was scared away by the firearm. [FN35] In other words, half a million times every year, burglars were likely forced to flee a home because they encountered an armed victim.

A much more limited study about home invasion burglaries has achieved more notoriety than the national study discussed above. An article by Arthur Kellermann examined police reports of burglaries in Atlanta. [FN36] Out of 198 burglaries, Kellermann found only three cases in which the homeowner used a gun against the burglar, according to the police report. From this finding, Kellermann concluded that defensive gun use against burglars was rare. [FN37]

Unfortunately, Kellermann's study could not have been better designed to produce a gross undercount. Kellermann relied on burglary report forms compiled by the Atlanta police. Those report forms, however, do not include any field for the police officer to report defensive gun use by the victim. Furthermore, Atlanta police officers are not trained to solicit information about defensive gun use from the victims. [FN38] Thus, the only time that a defensive gun use ("DGU") would be recorded on the offense report would be when an officer spontaneously decided to record it on the free-form section of the burglary offense report. In other words, *351 Kellermann used a data set (burglary offense reports) that was not designed to record DGUs, and on the basis of this data set he concluded that DGUs were rare.

Besides the obvious inadequacy of the burglary offense reports, the Kellermann study was further flawed by its failure to account for the large number of cases in which a burglary victim scares away a burglar but does not report the incident. Less than half of all burglaries are reported to the police. [FN39] From the average homeowner's viewpoint, there would be little to gain in making such a report. While society as a whole might gain something from the report, the homeowner personally would not; the burglar, while still at large, would presumably focus on other homes not known to contain an armed occupant. By making the report, the citizen might perceive that he would take some risk of being charged with an offense (especially if he fired at the burglar) or of having his firearm confiscated. This perception might be particularly strong in Atlanta, where the Mayor and his police chiefs are well known as advocates of strict gun control. [FN40] Even when reporting a burglary, a citizen might choose not to disclose his use of a firearm.

The 1994 national CDC survey, discussed above, avoided all of these problems. [FN41] By making phone calls to a national random sample, the CDC study had a better chance of receiving information from burglary victims who chose not to call the police. Because the burglary victims were talking to a pollster, rather than to a police officer from a notoriously anti-gun administration, the victims would be more likely to acknowledge defensive gun use. And because the CDC pollsters (unlike the Atlanta police) were actually asking all burglary victims about DGUs in burglaries, [FN42] the pollsters were much more likely to find out about DGUs. Accordingly, the CDC study's figure, approximately a half-million annual confrontations between armed citizens and home invasion burglars, is plausible (although perhaps low), while Kellermann's assertion that such incidents hardly ever occur is not.

The most thorough survey of citizen defensive gun use in general (not just in burglaries) found that in well over ninety percent of incidents, a shot is never fired; the mere display of the gun suffices to end the confrontation. [FN43] The CDC study did not specifically ask whether a gun was fired. [FN44] Accordingly, it is reasonable to infer that burglary DGU is similar to DGU in general, and that most incidents end with the burglar fleeing at the sight of the armed victim, rather than the victim shooting at the burglar.

*352

B. Risks to Burglars From the Judicial System

Only 13 percent of burglaries are ever cleared by an arrest. [FN45] (This means that in 13 of 100 burglaries, someone identified as the burglar is eventually arrested. One arrest can "clear" dozens of burglaries. [FN46]) Many arrests, of course, do not lead to felony convictions. Of the felony convictions for burglary, [FN47] fifty-two percent lead to a prison sentence, twenty-three percent to jail time, and twenty-five percent to probation. [FN48] The median sentences are forty-eight months for prison, five months for jail, and thirty-six months for probation. [FN49]

On the whole, state prisoners serve about thirty-five percent of the time to which they are actually sentenced. [FN50] The above figures represent felony convictions. Misdemeanor convictions resulting from a burglary result in significantly shorter sentences. Given the criminal justice system's focus on violent crimes and on drug crimes, burglary has become a relatively low priority. [FN51]

IV. Target Selection by Burglars

A. General Principles of Target Selection

Scholars have long agreed that the physical characteristics of a potential target have an important effect on its likelihood of being victimized. For example, Oscar Newman's book Defensible Space looked at the importance of architectural design, emphasizing that good architectural design would help to create "strongly defined areas of influence" that would intimidate potential predators. [FN52] In Residential Crime, Thomas Reppetto linked home burglary to a target's ease of access and visibility to surveillance. [FN53]
*353

Increasing attention to the victims of crime has led criminologists to find that certain lifestyle choices can influence the risk of being victimized. [FN54] Among important lifestyle choices are whether the potential victim's routine activities offer "guardianship" of possible criminal targets. [FN55] For example, apartments with doormen have lower burglary rates. [FN56] All this supports the common-sense conclusion that burglary rates will be higher, other things being equal, where the opportunities to perpetrate a successful burglary are higher.

Thus, as the percentage of working women in the population has increased, leaving more homes unguarded during the daytime, the percentage of daytime burglaries has also increased. [FN57] According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, between twenty-one percent and twenty-three percent of American burglaries involve an entry into a residence at night. [FN58]

B. Advance Planning by Burglars

American burglars tend to "work" at hours when persons are unlikely to be in the home. [FN59] Consistent with the desire to avoid a personal confrontation, burglars prefer houses, such as those on corners, where the risks of being observed by a neighbor are reduced. [FN60] Two hours are spent on the average suburban burglary; most of that time is spent "casing the joint" to ensure that no one is home.

One burglar told of watching a particular house and noting that the occupants all went to church for four to five hours on Sunday morning. [FN61] Another explained, "You just knock on the door to see if they're there. You bang, you *354 bang, you look through windows, nobody's in bed. I mean, you gotta make sure they're not home, make sure they're not home." [FN62]

C. In Homes and on the Street

Rengert and Wasilchick's book about how burglars work reveals that fear of armed homeowners played a major role in determining burglary targets. Burglars reported that they avoided late-night burglaries because, "That's the way to get shot." [FN63] Some burglars said that they shun burglaries in neighborhoods with people of mostly a different race because, "You'll get shot if you're caught there." [FN64]

The most thorough study of burglary patterns was a St. Louis survey of 105 currently active burglars. [FN65] The authors observed, "One of the most serious risks faced by residential burglars is the possibility of being injured or killed by occupants of a target. Many of the offenders we spoke to reported that this was far and away their greatest fear." [FN66] Said one burglar: "I don't think about gettin' caught, I think about gettin' gunned down, shot or somethin'...'cause you get into some people's houses...quick as I come in there, boom, they hit you right there. That's what I think about."

Another burglar explained:

   Hey, wouldn't you blow somebody away if someone broke into your house and you don't know them? You hear this noise and they come breakin' in the window tryin' to get into your house, they gon' want to kill you anyway. See, with the police, they gon' say, "Come out with your hands up and don't do nothing foolish!" Okay, you still alive, but you goin' to jail. But you alive. You sneak into somebody's house and they wait til you get in the house and then they shoot you.. . .See what I'm sayin'? You can't explain nothin' to nobody; you layin' down in there dead! [FN67]

In contrast, Missouri is one of only nine states which has no provision for citizens to be issued permits to carry handguns for protection. Thus, a criminal in St. Louis faces a very high risk that the target of a home invasion may have a lawful gun for protection, but minimal risk that the target of a street robbery will have a lawful firearm for defense. The same authors who studied active St. Louis burglars conducted another study of active St. Louis armed robbers. [FN68] They found that "[s]ome of the offenders who favored armed robbery over other crimes *355 maintained that the offense was also safer than burglary. . .." [FN69] As one armed robber put it: "My style is, like, don't have to be up in nobody's house in case they come in; they might have a pistol in the house or something." [FN70]

On the streets, many of the St. Louis robbers "routinely targeted law-abiding citizens," [FN71] who, unlike their counterparts in most American states, were certain not to be carrying a gun for protection. Law-abiding citizens were chosen as robbery victims because, as one robber noted, "You don't want to pick somebody dangerous; they might have a gun themselves." [FN72]

In addition to the St. Louis study, the Wright-Rossi National Institute of Justice surveyed felony prisoners in eleven state prison systems on the impact of victim firearms on burglar behavior. [FN73] In that survey, seventy-four percent of the convicts who had committed a burglary or violent crime agreed, "One reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot." [FN74]

Surveys of prisoners may not be entirely representative of criminals as a whole, since prisoners comprise the subset of criminals who were caught and sentenced to prison. [FN75] Thus, non-prisoner criminals might be more "successful," perhaps because they are more skillful, more risk averse, or are in some other way better at burglarizing. To the extent that prisoner bias would influence the results of the burglary question, it might be expected that non-prisoner burglars would be even more averse than imprisoned burglars to occupied-residence burglaries. After all, criminals who are not prisoners stay out of prison by avoiding unnecessary risks.

Fortifying the widespread presence of home defense firearms in the United States is a legal culture which strongly supports armed home defense. Colorado, for example, specifically immunizes the use of deadly force against violent home intruders from criminal and civil liability, regardless of whether lesser force would suffice. [FN76]

The South Carolina Attorney General recently instructed all prosecutors to refrain from bringing charges against "citizens acting to defend their homes," including citizens who use firearms. [FN77] Supplementing the additional factors may be the legal attitudes towards resistance to burglary. Although statistical evidence is hard to come by, it appears that homeowners who defend themselves against burglars in Canada and England face a substantial risk *356 of criminal prosecution--even if the defense does not involve a firearm. A highly publicized 2001 English case involved the successful murder prosecution of a farmer who shot a pair of career burglars. [FN78]

V. Real-world Tests of the Deterrence Model

Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Washington, "One loves to possess arms, but one hopes never to have to use them." [FN79] The mere fact that about half of all homes could use a firearm against burglars helps to reduce the number of families who actually have to confront a burglar. Measuring deterrence is often difficult; even the deterrent effects of the entire criminal justice system are hard to quantify. [FN80]

It is possible to criticize the notion of armed deterrence to burglary (and, by implication, most other efforts to deter crime) by asserting that burglars are too irrational and impulsive to be deterred. But an English study of 309 burglars found that many burglars are careful and deliberate and that more than half of them perpetrate planned burglaries. [FN81] Another study found that burglary and auto theft were the two crimes which were most deterred by the potential offender's perceived risk of arrest. [FN82] Likewise, research on commercial burglars in the Netherlands found "more than eighty percent of the commercial burglars can be characterised as to some degree, rational." [FN83] A smaller survey of fifteen active residential burglars in the Philadelphia and Wilmington region found "the residential burglars in our sample respond to the risks and rewards associated with committing a burglary in line with expectations from deterrence theory." [FN84]

Real-world experiments yield results consistent with burglars' reports of their desire to avoid confrontations with armed victims. In Orlando in 1967, the police responded to a rape epidemic by initiating a highly publicized program training women in firearms use. [FN85] While rape increased in the nation and in *357 Florida over the next year, the rape rate fell eighty- eight percent in Orlando, and burglary dropped twenty-two percent. [FN86]

The same year, rising rates of store robberies prompted a similar (but smaller-scale) program in Kansas City, Missouri, to train store owners in gun use. [FN87] The next year, while the robbery rate in Missouri and the United States continued to rise significantly, the rate fell in the Kansas City metro area. The trend of increasing burglary in the area also came to an abrupt end, contrary to state and national patterns. [FN88]

In 1982, the town of Kennesaw, Georgia, passed an ordinance requiring every home to have a gun. [FN89] Exceptions were made for conscientious objectors, people with criminal records, and for people in various other categories. [FN90] In the seven months before the ordinance, there had been forty-five residential burglaries; in the seven months after the ordinance, residential burglaries declined eighty-nine percent. [FN91] Over the next five years, the residential burglary rate in Kennesaw was eighty-five percent below the rate before the enactment of the ordinance. [FN92]

The ordinance may not have actually changed gun ownership patterns much in Kennesaw. The mayor estimated that even before the ordinance, about *358 five of every six Kennesaw homes contained a gun. [FN93] But the publicity surrounding the Kennesaw law may have served as a very powerful warning to persons contemplating a residential burglary in that town: any homeowner confronted during a burglary would almost certainly be armed.

Consistent with the hypothesis of the deterrent effect of home firearms, lower-income neighborhoods have higher burglary rates, [FN94] while lower income persons are less likely than the rest of the population to possess firearms. [FN95] Of course, there are likely other contributing explanations. Lower-income homes may be less likely to have sturdy locks. It is not unreasonable to expect that a combination of all the defensive weaknesses of lower income homes play some role in the higher burglary rates.

VI. Confrontations Involving Burglars

Some individuals may choose burglary because they dislike confrontations; however, not all burglars are non-confrontational by nature. According to the Wright-Rossi prisoner survey, sixty-two percent of burglars had also perpetrated robberies. [FN96] The study of currently active burglars in St. Louis observed: "Most offenders in our sample...showed little concern for the well-being of their victims. In fact, several of them said they were prepared to use violence against anyone who got in their way during the commission of an offense." [FN97]

A. Confrontations with Armed Victims

What happens if a burglar does confront a family, and the family is armed? Gun prohibition advocates warn that the burglar will probably take the gun away and use it against the family. [FN98] But "take-aways" occur in no more than one percent of defensive gun uses and are only possible if the gun owner is so *359 indecisive that he holds the gun far away from his body and fails to act as the burglar comes near. [FN99]

More common is that the confrontation ends badly for the aggressor. Summaries of such incidents appear every month in the National Rifle Association's member magazines, supplied by newspapers with an apparently endless stream of such stories. The stories always include citations to the newspaper article and are not based on mere self-reports of gun owners. Below are some of a typical month's worth's of incidents, from the January 1996 issue of American Rifleman:


   Plans to slay everyone in the Muskegon, Michigan, store and steal enough cash and jewelry to feed their "gnawing hunger for crack cocaine" fell apart for a band of would-be killers after one of their victims fought back. Store owner Clare Cooper was returning behind the counter after showing three of the four conspirators some jewelry, when one of the group pulled out a gun and shot him four times in the back. Stumbling for the safety of his bullet- proof, glass-encased counter, Cooper managed to grab his shotgun and fire as the suspects fled. They were all later apprehended, and the three present during the shooting face life imprisonment. (The Chronicle, Muskegon, MI, 8/23/95).

   It was only fifteen minutes after police visited his Wyoming, Minnesota, home to warn his family of two robbery suspects believed to be at large in the area, when Mike Stich discovered a man and woman hiding beneath a blanket in the bed of his pickup truck. With the police warning in mind, Stich had toted his wife's .25 cal. handgun with him when he went outside to move his truck. Noticing movement under a blanket in the truck's bed, Stich parked the truck, circled to its rear, and ordered the fugitive couple out of his truck at gunpoint. Stich commanded the suspects to stand against a tree while his son ran inside and had Stich's wife call police. (The Times, Forest Lake, MN, 9/21/95)

   Lisa Woods' ex-boyfriend had already broken into her Anderson, South Carolina, apartment once that night, hitting her in the head before police arrived, scaring him away. Four hours later, the man returned, brazenly forced his way into the home, and sprayed a friend of Woods' with mace. When the homebreaker attempted the same treatment on Woods, she shot him once, mortally wounding him. The ex-boyfriend had already been put on trespass notice at the apartment complex where Woods lived because of prior harassment incidents. (The News, Greenville, SC, 8/25/95)


   Joann Harrison decided to buy her first gun for protection after someone cut her telephone lines and slashed a window screen at her Anderson, South Carolina, home. Just three weeks later, *360 Harrison was forced to fire that gun at an intruder who broke into her home after cutting power to the house. A single shot from her .22 cal. revolver sent the man fleeing to a nearby yard where he collapsed from a fatal bullet wound to the chest. (The Independent / Mail, Anderson, SC, 7/28/95) [FN100]

The listing of these incidents is not meant to prove a statistical case. It is interesting to note, however, how rarely such incidents are reported by mainstream media outside the area where they occur. In contrast, gun accidents involving children, and gun homicides, are often national stories.

B. Confrontation with Unprotected Victims

When burglars do encounter victims who cannot protect themselves, the results can be tragic. In thirty percent of these cases, the victim is assaulted or threatened. [FN101] In ten percent of these cases, the burglaries turn into rapes. [FN102] Over the ten-year period of 1973-82, this meant 623,000 aggravated (felony) assaults and 281,000 rapes. [FN103] Overall, the victim rate of death from "hot" burglaries is six times the death rate from street muggings. [FN104]

C. The Reduction in Assault from Hot Burglary Deterrence

Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, in his award-winning book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, explains the implications of these assault statistics. Suppose that the percentage of "hot" burglaries rose from current American levels (around twelve or thirteen percent [FN105]) to the average rate of Canada, Great Britain, and the Netherlands (around forty-five percent). [FN106] *361 Knowing how often a hot burglary turns into an assault, we can predict that an increase in hot burglaries to the levels of other nations would result in 545,713 more assaults every year. This by itself would raise the American violent crime rate 9.4 percent. [FN107]

Put another way, the American violent crime rate is significantly lower than it would otherwise be, because American burglars are much less likely than Canadian burglars to enter an occupied home. Given that the average cost of an assault, in 1990 dollars, is $13,490, [FN108] and the cost of rape $56,419, [FN109] the annual cost savings from reduced assault amount to more than seven billion dollars ($7,361,668,300). The savings from avoided rapes would be roughly similar. [FN110]

The seven billion dollar saving from reduced assaults is, by the way, much larger than the revenue of the every American firearms and ammunition manufacturer combined. [FN111]

VII. Guns Compared to Other Anti-Burglary Devices

Gun ownership for home protection is considerably more beneficial to the community than many other anti-burglary measures. Burglars do not know which of their potential victims may be armed. Until a confrontation with a homeowner, the potential burglar generally has no idea whether any given homeowner has a gun.

Thus, careful burglars must (and most do) take care to avoid entering any home where a victim might be present. Because about half of all American homes contain a gun, burglars tend to avoid all occupied American homes. [FN112] People who do not own guns--even people who belong to gun prohibition organizations--enjoy free rider safety benefits from America's armed homes. This free-rider *362 problem is present in many cases of crime prevention which rely on changing the physical environment in which the criminal operates. [FN113]

In contrast to guns, burglar alarms appear to have no net community benefit. Burglar alarms have been shown to reduce burglaries for homes in which they are installed. [FN114] However, the presence of many burglar alarms in a neighborhood does not appear to affect the burglary rate of unalarmed homes. [FN115] In addition, false alarms (which account for ninety-four to ninety- eight percent of all burglar alarm activations) impose very large public safety costs through misappropriation of limited police resources. [FN116] False- alarm signals travel over 911 lines and may crowd out genuine emergencies. [FN117] Thus, alarms impose substantial external costs on other homes in the community. Guns, of course, lie inert until someone decides to use them; they do not go off because a cat jumped into a beam of light.

Gun prohibitionists make all sorts of claims about the risks of "a gun in the home." [FN118] These claims have some validity if the gun is in the home of a violent felon, an alcoholic, or a person with suicidal tendencies. [FN119] But in responsible hands, guns are no danger at all, since the gun will only shoot in the direction in which it is pointed and will not fire unless the trigger is pulled. Whatever the risks of a gun in the home, the risks are borne almost entirely by the people in that home. The non-gun owners in the community get the benefit of safety from home invasion burglars, while assuming no risks at all. (The most significant external danger of a gun in the home is if the gun is stolen by a criminal, a risk that also applies to any other device that could be stolen and used by a criminal, such as a car or a crowbar, or any valuables that could be sold and the profits used to buy crime tools.)

Guns stay quiet and unobtrusive until needed. They do not bark all night and wake up the neighborhood, as dogs often do. Nor do guns rush into the street to attack and sometimes kill innocent people, as some guard dogs do. In New Zealand, where defensive gun ownership is unlawful, a surge of home invasions has led to greatly increased sales of aggressive dog breeds. [FN120] It is not clear that *363 New Zealand neighborhoods are better off with more Rottweilers (which may be owned without restrictions) and fewer shotguns.

Firearms, which are typically stored deep inside a home, do not make a neighborhood look ugly. Passive deterrents, such as window bars, give a neighborhood the appearance of a prison and some can trap the occupants of a home during a fire.

Most people consider it rational for householders to have burglary insurance. Yet insurance premiums must (if the insurance company is to stay in business) be set at a level for which the cost of the premiums exceeds the probable payout by the insurance company over the long run. Insurance is, therefore, a bet on the wrong side of the odds for the insured. If it is reasonable for people to reduce the risks of burglary by buying insurance, it is also reasonable for people to reduce the risks of burglary by purchasing a gun for home protection. Over a ten-year period, the cost of insurance premiums far exceeds the cost of a good gun. [FN121] The gun, unlike the insurance premium, can actually prevent a victim from being injured. And unlike insurance premiums, a gun helps benefit the entire community, since all American enjoy the 9.4 percent lower violent crime rate attributable to defensive gun ownership in the home. [FN122] Insurance companies, which already subsidize various home protection systems such as burglar alarms, should begin giving substantial discounts to policy-holders who verify that they have a gun and have been trained in defensive gun use.

VIII. Policy Implications

A. Undersupply of Firearms

The "diffusion of benefits" is good news for people who do not own guns. They get the full free rider benefit, while incurring none of the expense to buy a gun or the time to learn to use the gun, practice with it, and clean it. But when free riding of a good is possible, then the good will be undersupplied.

Consider a recent study of a device called LoJack, designed to prevent auto thefts. [FN123] The LoJack is a radio transponder hidden in a car. When the car's owner reports that the car has been stolen, law enforcement can activate the transponder via radio signal. The LoJack transponder then begins emitting a radio signal, making it easier for police to locate the stolen car. [FN124] Like guns in the home, *364 LoJack is unobservable to a criminal considering potential targets.

Thus, LoJack (like guns in the home) benefits the entire community equally, rather than conferring a benefit mainly on the owner. A one percent increase in LoJack installation in an area led to a twenty percent decline in car thefts in big cities, and a five percent decline statewide. [FN125] The total benefits of LoJack were fifteen times greater than the costs. But less than ten percent of the total social benefits went to LoJack owners; the rest went to the free riders who did not install LoJack. [FN126] As a result, LoJack was "dramatically undersupplied." [FN127] The small insurance subsidies for LoJack installation were not sufficient to correct this problem. [FN128]

With guns, the undersupply problem would not be as severe. Besides preventing burglaries, guns have various benefits that are available only to the user (such as use in the shooting sports). On the other hand, many jurisdictions, such as New York City, impose severe externalities (expensive taxes and fees, complex licensing systems) to discourage gun ownership. [FN129] A few jurisdictions (Chicago and Washington, D.C.) totally forbid possession of handguns, the gun most useful for defense in confined urban settings. [FN130]

Consider the scenario faced by burglars if the possibility that a victim would be armed were to increase to nearly 100 percent, that is, if almost every home had a gun that was readily deployable for home defense. It is not unreasonable to expect that the home invasion rate would drop to near zero. As noted above, as long as gun ownership did not increase among the small percentage of the population uniquely likely to abuse firearms (self- destructive substance abusers and violent criminals), an increase in defensive home gun ownership would have large social benefits and few social costs.

Thus, jurisdictions with prohibitory or repressive gun licensing laws should consider whether those laws, by depressing the rate of defensive gun ownership, may be imposing high costs on everyone in the jurisdiction. While a safer society is generally considered good, some firearms policy lobbyists morally oppose gun ownership for defensive purposes. As Mrs. Sarah Brady explains, "To me, the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes." [FN131] The *365 anti-defense view underlies a wide variety of gun control proposals, such as following Canada's lead by requiring that guns in the home be locked and stored so "safely" as to be inaccessible for defensive deployment during a break-in. [FN132]


B. Network Effects

In economics, an externality can be found where "an agent does not bear the full cost of his actions." [FN133] Although the concept of externality is most often used in cases where the agent inflicts costs on others (e.g., the agent's pollution falls on someone else's land), the concept can also be used when the agent reaps only part of the benefits of his actions. Firearms in the home appear to be this latter type of case.

A network effect may be found when "the utility that a user derives from consumption of a good increases with the number of agents consuming the good," [FN134] or when "one consumer's value for a good increases when another consumer has a compatible good." [FN135] The intensity of network effects varies along a continuum. At the highest end are actual communications networks.

For example, a telephone would be of little use unless many other people were on the same telephone system. "At the other end of the continuum are a variety of phenomena in which provision of a good for service positively relates to some level of scale, but in which the scale economies themselves create the value rather than interactions among users of the good." [FN136]

In the context of home invasion burglary deterrence, firearms appear to be associated with network effects at the lower end of the continuum: the more homes with firearms, the greater the burglary deterrence. Thus, if one person in London were granted an exemption from English gun laws and were allowed to possess a firearm for home protection, there would be no improvements in burglary deterrence. From the burglar's point of view, over 99.999% of London homes would still be unprotected. Conversely, extra gun density in Kennesaw benefited the existing home owners with guns. If burglars see Kennesaw as an extraordinarily well armed community, then burglary deterrence increases.

*366

One of the strengths of a free society is the potential for non- hierarchical coordination. Sophisticated social tools can be created without central planning. For example, "Millions of people have incrementally helped shape the English language into an enormously ornate and valuable institution. Those who have contributed to this achievement have acted without the help of the state or any other hierarchical coordinator." [FN137]

Public security via private firearms ownership in the United States has likewise evolved through non-hierarchical coordination. Yet even though an armed citizenry may in some situations make society safer, the very notion that citizens can use force (or threaten to use force) against criminals is an offensive notion to some people. [FN138] These people believe that public security must be ordered only by the government, and failure to rely exclusively on the government is an unbearable insult to the government. For example, in 1953, when the British Parliament was outlawing the carrying of sharp objects, such as knives, for defensive purposes, some M.P.'s pointed out that an elderly woman who worked for Parliament carried a knitting needle for protection on her walk home. [FN139] Advocates of the new law replied indignantly that such carrying implied that the government could not keep the peace. [FN140] Apparently, preserving the government's self-esteem was more important than allowing the woman to protect herself from criminals.

That firearms in the home appear to display network effects reinforces the importance of the effect of firearms laws at the margin. Consider a hypothetical that a given firearms law has no actual public safety benefit but does provide emotional satisfaction to some people. Gun "buy-backs" appear to be such a law. [FN141] Many people who are skeptical of gun surrender programs consider them harmless, since they do not disarm any person involuntarily. But the presence of network effects in home invasion deterrence suggests that any program which disarms non-criminal elements of the population (even voluntarily) may harm the entire population. If a citizen disarmament program reduces household gun density in a city from 43.5 percent to 43 percent, then the network effect of burglary deterrence are weakened.

C. Courts and the Costs and Benefits of Firearms

Evaluating the total costs and benefits that firearms create is difficult. The fact that firearms ownership is protected by the U.S. Constitution and forty-four state constitutions suggests that firearms ownership (like the free exercise of *367 religion, or freedom of the press, or other constitutionally protected acts) has already been set above the standards of cost/benefit analysis. Security in the home, like attending the church of one's choice, has a value that cannot be quantified and is immune from any attempts at constriction based on a cost/benefit analysis.

Firearms also appear to provide protection from an extremely costly, but rare event: genocide. Every government in the twentieth century which has perpetrated genocide has first disarmed the victims. [FN142] (Of course the reverse is not true; only some cases of disarmament are followed by genocide.) The cost of one incident of genocide is vastly greater than the cost of all the crimes perpetrated by criminals with guns in the entire history of the United States. How to precisely value the protective value of firearms in an American context is a complex question. Whether one thinks that the risk of genocide in the United States rises to, say, the one percent possibility over a 50 or 100 or 200-year future projection depends in part on how one views past actions towards minorities (e.g., blacks, American Indians) in the U.S., and to what degree one thinks that the U.S. is susceptible to the evils of human nature which have plagued other countries.

In a more mundane context, the economic benefits of firearms are just being discovered. John Lott's research has gone a long way toward identifying societal benefits that accrue from laws allowing licensed citizens to carry firearms for protection in public. [FN143] But very little has been done on the quantifiable benefits of firearms in many other contexts--such as protecting store proprietors from robbers, or protecting domestic violence victims from stalkers and similar predators. Criminologists and other social scientists will continue to study these topics, and legislatures will continue to make firearms laws based in part on this social science.

It seems doubtful that the function of making determinations based on criminology and econometrics should be transferred from legislatures to judges and juries. [FN144] Figuring out aggregate costs and benefits becomes especially difficult for juries when the beneficiaries are not before the court--and may not even know they are beneficiaries. This is the case with home invasion burglary deterrence, in which most non-gun-owning households are not even aware that they are beneficiaries. While readers may agree or disagree about the exact degree to which U.S. firearms density deters hot burglaries, the very inability to come up with a precise answer suggests that resolution of the firearms cost/benefit issue is not appropriate for the judicial system.


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blizzardboy
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posted April 28, 2011 04:56 PM

That's a lot of words. I feel demoralized.
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angelito
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posted April 28, 2011 04:57 PM

I haven't read such a nonsense for a long time....seriously. Maybe this guy should take a look outside of the "peaceful superpower country called the USA"?
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1910
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posted April 28, 2011 05:02 PM

Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?

Should people be allowed to carry fire arms

Simple answer? No. Firearms are the main problem, in my opinion, for crimes in the countries that allow them. I just wrote a post on it in the Bible thread. If you are to rob somebody and you have a gun then there's the possibility that you could take their life and that alone is what scares people into giving you their things. If you didn't have a gun, then they could knock you on your arse and you could be sent to jail. There's the threat of death there with guns and without, then you could be caught and most likely would. Not that all countries don't have their crime but I don't think having guns helps the crime rate go down. Makes it go up really. They're easy to carry and one quick pull of the trigger and you could be driving away scot free and somebody could be dead. You can't really do that if you don't have a gun and that's why other countries don't have as high crime rate. I know that's definitely not the case here in Australia.

Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?

Simple answer? No. I've seen a few stories where kids find their parents guns and, not knowing what they're doing, pull the trigger and somebody is dead. Ten there's the chance of if there's a gun in your house and you're feeling depressed or whatever then you could kill yourself or kill others. Kids seeing all the violence they do nowadays with games and movies and them having a gun in their house could also give them ideas, especially in the early teenage years. I just don't think it solves a thing by having a gun in your house. A lot of people say it's for self defense but how exactly is killing somebody who enters your home without your permission self defense? That's murder. You took a life whether they were trying to steal or whatever. That's the problem that guns cause, as I see it. You could say that if they had a gun then they might shoot first but thenj look at it like if guns weren't allowed then he wouldn't have one and there's the chance you could defend your home and yourself and family without killing anybody.

Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim?

Everybody can be a victim whether they have a gun or not. I'm a victim. There will always be somebody out there stronger than me and able to get me if they wanted to whether they had a gun or not. Really, it's only one pull of the trigger and that's it. They could do that to you before they even knew you had a gun or before you even pulled the gun out. Even if you do take it out, what are you going to do then? I can understand using it as a threat to stay the hell away from you but if you shoot them then that makes you no better than them. A court room will probably not listen to self defense argument or anything. You shot and killed a man. I see no purpose in carrying them around with you. I like that I can walk the streets in Australia and feel safe that nobody has a gun. I grew up without a gun and everybody else grew up without a gun so it's all safe really. Even if I was in trouble, I could probably have a chance of getting them before they get me anyway without anyone dying. I know I'm saying that a lot but that's just what I really think.

Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?

Everybody does have the right to defend themselves but there's self defense and then, as I've said before, there's killing. No matter how much you try to justify it, Elodin, you still killed somebody and you will go to prison for that. There are other ways to defend yourself rather than taking somebodies life with a Gun. How do you think other countries manage? If guns were so useful for self defense then how has Australia managed for so long? How have other countries managed for so long?

This is just what I think and all.

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JollyJoker
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posted April 28, 2011 05:03 PM
Edited by JollyJoker at 17:04, 28 Apr 2011.

On the other hand the answers are pretty simple:
Quote:

Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?
No.
Quote:
Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?
No.
Quote:
Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim?
No.
Quote:
Should a person have the right to defend himself?
Of course. But not with fire arms.

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Adrius
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posted April 28, 2011 05:17 PM
Edited by Adrius at 17:19, 28 Apr 2011.

*looks at massive article*

...whoa.


"Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?"

Hmm... nah why should they? It's just an unnecessary risk imo.

"Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?"

Yeah, if they have a license for it. Like a hunting license or perhaps some kinda membership in a sharp-shooter club or something.

"Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim?"

I guess it could, but killing a person in self-defense will likely make you end up in emotional trauma (or in most countries afaik, make you end up in jail), and so you become a victim in a whole other way. So it has its risks as well.

"Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?"

Of course everyone should have the right to defend themselves; within limits.

I think the main problem with firearms when it comes to self-defense is that they can cause a whole lotta damage with very little effort, I mean, just getting scared is enough for you to accidentally pull a trigger.

You don't accidentally stab someone 'til they die. Well... often.
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OhforfSake Online
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posted April 28, 2011 05:29 PM

Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?
Yes, I would like that. Because I'd like people to have as much freedom possible without limiting the freedom of others.
Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?
Yes, I would like that. The same reason as above.
Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim?
I don't think so. But I understand we might have a different idea of what it constitutes to be a victim and you might also be more creative in the ways to use a gun, than I am.
In any case, from my point of view, a gun can at most either scare or harm the other guy. An ideal tool to prevent someone, no matter if they're innocent or not, to become a victim (for physical attacks) would be something that actually make said physical attacks impossible, independent of the attackers state of mind or health of body (where a gun, as I see it, would limit either the state of mind (fear) or health of body (shot), to have any effect). As such, when guns are used, I believe there will always be at least one victim. I can't say for sure, if the victim will be innocent or not though, I believe there are too many possible varying factors to take into consideration than what I am able to.
Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?
The question is a bit too vague for me. Also I am not certain those two scenarios are completely mutually exclusive. But they probably are mutually exclusive in most cases of todays society, though.
In any case, defining defend very broadly, then yes. As long as no one gets their freedom limited, to the only limit of not limiting the freedom of others as well.
However, if defining defend as harming others, then I'd say neither of the two options.

PS: I didn't read the very long text. Am I supposed to do that before I answer?

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angelito
angelito

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posted April 28, 2011 05:55 PM

Quote:
Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?
Yes, I would like that. Because I'd like people to have as much freedom possible without limiting the freedom of others.
So you are ok to let a known former child molester work in a kindergarden? It won't limit YOUR freedom in any way.

You just have to realize, not everyone is "able" to carry a gun and use it "wisely".
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OhforfSake Online
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posted April 28, 2011 06:00 PM
Edited by OhforfSake at 18:01, 28 Apr 2011.

I think it's completely okay a former child molester works in a kinder garden.

I'd not like it, if it's a current child molester, however.

((I understand former as one who once was, but is not today, is that correct understood?)).

Edit: Also it is nothing to do with my freedom, but the freedom of everyone!

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Adrius
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posted April 28, 2011 06:04 PM
Edited by Adrius at 18:04, 28 Apr 2011.

Yeah I also try to be as pro-freedom as I can in every aspect, but sometimes it just doesn't work out with society.

Like that kindergarden-molester example, you have to consider the parents' mental health.

Ideals are nice though.
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OhforfSake Online
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posted April 28, 2011 06:07 PM

Yes of course you're right Adrius. It's not my business either to tell a kinder garden who they should hire, or not.

Hopefully one day, we can live in a world, where it'd be impossible to do harm in the first place. Life would be so much easier, then.

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Meroe
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posted April 28, 2011 06:20 PM

The realities are that our 'freedom' can often mean infringing on someone elses'.  So we are left with a balancing act, a compromise.  And its that balancing act that our governments are supposed to help us with ... our laws and legislations.  And these laws are designed to assist most of the population who can abide by them without losing too much freedom.

No-one is truly 'Free'.  And there will always be others who wish to harm us.  So we try to live our lives as law abiding (therefore meaning respectfully aware of others too) as possible.

Therefore some people can keep guns, and only use them for recreational activities; others for hunting and never hurt or affect others.  And there will be 'normal' people who can keep a gun, never hurt anyone and decide to blow their own brains out with it.  And there will be those who want the guns to commit crimes and intentionally hurt others.  We can only plan for things.  There is very little we can do to otherwise.  No one law or rule will make the world perfect, or truly Free.
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OhforfSake Online
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posted April 28, 2011 06:41 PM
Edited by OhforfSake at 18:44, 28 Apr 2011.

Yes most certainly. In todays society, we must make compromise, limiting our own freedom, for others to be free, an act of balance. Not all can own the same house, etc. Like you say, we do so through laws, expecting the government to be what must balance this, exactly! At least that's my impression as well.

I do however think that todays system will be replaced by much better systems. Laws are from back when you could not prevent a crime, all you could do was punish. So you punished, you made an example. People would fear punishment, so they behaved. If the punishment was in optimal accordiance to the crime (depending on society, environment, etc.) that specific group of people would do better (not too limited, not too chaotic).

I am however certain that in the future, it's not a question about catching those who're guilty. Rather I hope we'll be able to actually prevent the bad stuff from happening in the first place. Which is why I think this:
Quote:
We can only plan for things.  There is very little we can do to otherwise.

Is wrong.
And of course this:
Quote:
No one law or rule will make the world perfect, or truly Free.

Is spot on. Laws and rules won't make us free. But when our defensive capabilities exceed our offensive capabilities and we've the technology and sufficient ressources to apply said technology, I am certain no bullet, rock or meteor would be able to hurt us!

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Fauch
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posted April 28, 2011 07:11 PM
Edited by Fauch at 19:25, 28 Apr 2011.

hunting is good?

Quote:
Rather I hope we'll be able to actually prevent the bad stuff from happening in the first place


what do you mean? like in minority report? or do you mean that the idea of commiting a crime would just never come to any mind?


Quote:
Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?

actually, like ohforf said, yes, if you respect liberty. and it's not saying that everyone should carry a fire arm. but when the number of people carrying a gun increases, the risks most likely increases too. I mean, it is more important that people be responsible, than to say them what to do and what not do.

Quote:
Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?

it isn't much different from the precedent question.

Quote:
Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim?

I think it could, if the potential agressor is aware that you are armed and it frightens him. like in cold war. however, it could result in him getting better prepare to attack you.

another reasoning is that if you have a gun, then, you are trying to protect something, which might be a reason to attack you. I mean, everyone knows that banks have safes, cameras, guards, and it's not for the decoration...

Quote:
Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?

that's a silly question, if you are threatened to death, and you wait for the government or god to help you, you will die.
well, unless you think that defending yourself necessarily means killing the offender.

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OhforfSake Online
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posted April 28, 2011 07:13 PM

No. Neither of those.

If someone decides to make a crime against you, from their perspective they make the crime. From yours, they don't. All are happy.

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Fauch
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posted April 28, 2011 07:31 PM
Edited by Fauch at 19:33, 28 Apr 2011.

and how would that happen? that means you can accept everything?
one guy comes, and tells you he wants to torture you, before skinning you and eating your entrails, and you say, ok, no problem?

I think you would have to seriously brainwash people to make them accept that, and it's not my definition of liberty.

that's like the soma in brave new world, it makes you happy, but you are still living a meaningless live, as a robot executing instructions without ever having any control about it.


oh, and also, in that case, I'm not sure you can call it a crime? if the other guy knows everyone will accept what he wants to do, will he think it's a crime?

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OhforfSake Online
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posted April 28, 2011 07:33 PM

guy A want to "torture guy B, before skinning guy B and eating guy B's entrails, and having guy B say, ok, no problem?"

From guy A's perspective, all this happens.

From guy B's perspective, none of this happens.

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Fauch
Fauch


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posted April 28, 2011 07:57 PM

then we are playing a video game

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del_diablo
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posted April 28, 2011 08:38 PM

Before I answer these questions 4, I shall state my inital opinion.
If the police can get the job done, without the civilians needing to left a finger, then frankly the civilians have no right to even defend themselves because the police can do it.
HOWEVER, since the police are people, and people are bound by limitations, they can not offer a 100% protection against threats, so each individual needs to be able to defend themselves to some extent.
That extent however can be discussed back and forth depending on society.
But a keyword is game theory.

Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?
No.
I will get back to the reason for that in question 3.

Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?
Yes, because people hunt and some are in shooting clubs.

Does gun possession by an innocent person help prevent that person from being a victim?
Yes.
However, if everyone carries a gun it affects the person committing a crime, since that person want a sort of a advantage.
It could range from simple(knowing that they most likely will outrun anybody who chases them) to... a bit more sincere(want a massive advantage in terms of power output, as in weapons).
By forcing people to not carry guns, knives, or weapons, you basically stop anybody from initiating a arms race, even if the enemy does not exist.
By forcing people to be aware that nobody is armed, you basically enforce a mentality of that nobody is armed, leading to less paranoia.
Now, if you could get the news to be both credible AND for them to not overreport violence in order to get sales, you could decrease a populations level of paranoia, leading to less amount of illegal carrying of weapons.
By decreasing illegal amount of weapons, you greatly reduce the chance of severe injury or death happening under random circumstances.

Now, if one can somehow manage to get people to not carry weapons, one can get the police to walk around unarmed, which again will lead to less paranoia.
If the level of paranoia gets low enough, people will start leaving their doors to their homes unlocked, and they will never realize that someone in a crowd could be armed and lethal.
The goal is to get to this low level of paranoia, because it is better for a society as a whole.
However, to get there, more than just mugging must be dealt with. But it is still a noble goal.

Should a person have the right to defend himself or should everyone be forced to rely on the government alone for self defense?
Because the law enforcment can not physically give a person the 100% protection it is suppose to give in theory, it must then mean that each person should be allowed to defend themselves.
However, the wise still argue over the extents.
At the least you should not be forced to flee instantly, and you should be allowed to hold your ground, and deal out "appropriate force".
In theory it is nothing wrong with a person using a gun to defend his home, but in practical cases you realize at some point everyone will get the most powerful firearm possible for self defence, leading to the criminals doing the same, leading to more death, leading to the police at some point being "forced" by this arms race to carry weapons.
Which means that in order to own a gun, it should by default be locked properly in safe storage unit. If someone just so happens to have it accessable, and don't use it, nothing is wrong by that in itself.
However, if it turns out some paranoid maniac had it under his pillow on purpose, it will become a quite fun court case.....
And I will not judge that either...
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Fauch
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posted April 28, 2011 08:57 PM
Edited by Fauch at 21:03, 28 Apr 2011.

Quote:
Should people be allowed to carry fire arms?
No.
I will get back to the reason for that in question 3.

Should people be allowed to have fire arms in their house?
Yes, because people hunt and some are in shooting clubs.


how do you hunt without carrying a gun?

there is something I didn't think about, just having fire arms at your house, as decorative items.

Quote:
Now, if one can somehow manage to get people to not carry weapons, one can get the police to walk around unarmed, which again will lead to less paranoia.

ah, yes, when I was in Paris, I think, in the train station, were military guys with Famas. I'm not sure how it is supposed to make you feel safe, but well, I hear some people feel safer when some guys are wandering around with assault rifles...

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