Author’s Talk: “The Gun Debate” at Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium, 5/8/14

Thanks to Lewis, who gave me a heads up, I took the train into NYC  to attend the event at the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium.  “Economist Philip J. Cook and political scientist Kristin A. Goss discuss the issues, slogans and ideology central to our national dialogue on gun control, covered in their book, THE GUN DEBATE: What Everyone Needs to Know.” I counted only 22 people in the audience and that had to include a few people who were part of Cooper Union or were with Cook or Goss.

What everyone needed to know is that Cook and Gross are for gun control with their biggest point being the number of suicides with guns being high in the US.  As most pro-rights people know, this is just more of the same old – same old.  The US list as #33 for suicide rates on Wikipedia.org, with Greenland being #1.  In Greenland suicide numbers show that in one year 46% were done by hanging and only 37% were done with shooting even though Greenland has most of the gun control laws that many seek. Greenland also has an almost double the rate per 100,000 homicide rate of the US but with a much smaller population the total homicide numbers are very low.  Japan, with it’s almost total gun ban, is rated #10 with suicide by hanging leading the way, (Does Japan need rope & string control and registration?) and where suicide by train is popular but unpopular with those on the train who are late to work. “However, suicide by train persists despite a common policy among life insurance companies to deny payment to the beneficiary in the event of suicide by train (payment is usually made in the event of most other forms of suicide). Suicides involving the high-speed bullet-train, or Shinkansen are extremely rare, as the tracks are usually inaccessible to the public … and legislation mandates additional fines against the suicide victim’s family and next-of-kin.”  I would guess death by train is just a efficient as death by firearm, one of the main arguments for even more gun control being the efficiency of committing suicide using a gun.

While Cook and Goss are for gun control, just look at some of the books they have written, they were fair in some ways.  They did not cut me off and they allowed me to finish what I was saying.  They also acknowledged some of the points that I made that were correct and corrected some of the people in the audience.  A woman behind me asked the “NRA being funded by gun companies” question and Gross pointed out the fact that the “gun companies” are not really that big and while the “gun companies” do give money to the NRA, the “gun companies” are not the NRA’s major funders.  (I did bring up NSSF as the “gun company’s” group.) They also acknowledged that the pro-rights people are much more motivated than the anti-rights people are and money, in the form of Bloomburg’s $50 million, will not change things as much as the anti-rights people want.  (It is not like Bloomburg’s money is something new and he has not already spent $50 million on MAIG and other groups and people that he has supported in the past.)

All in all, Cook and Gross were much fairer that I expected or normally encounter with anti-rights people however they still ignore the obvious, the best example being the first question asked by one of the 22 people who attended.  The question; “In gun related deaths and injuries, how do you separate  ‘good shootings’ from ‘criminal shootings’?”  Gross’s answer was the normal, we don’t know and can’t tell.  So, from the anti-rights point of view, a police office shooting and killing a criminal who is shooting at the officer is the same as a criminal shooting and killing a police officer because a gun was used.  Following their logic, it is some how be better if the police officer is killed by stabbing but bad if the police officer shoots and kills the person stabbing the police officer.

Some of the other points:

  • Just because Pres. Obama has not passed gun control including bans and restrictions, it is not like Pres. Obama does not want to and some states have passed gun control measures.  This is, in part, why more people are buying guns before more or new gun control measures are passed on a federal, state or local level.  See: NOW IS THE TIME: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.
  • Many people are buying guns because 42 states now have “Shall Issue CCW” or don’t require a license to concealed carry and most of those states don’t require anything other than the normal NICS check to buy and own a handgun.  We have no states that don’t have CCW on the books but only 8 states have the “May Issue” type though in some of those states one of the requirements to get a CCW is the ability to walk on water.
  • Gross and Cook don’t give enough credit to state and local groups and gun clubs for getting pro-rights laws passed and anti-rights laws and politicians defeated.  You cannot give all of the credit to the NRA as big as it is.  It is the local “feet on the ground” that are responsible for most of what happens with the NRA ILA’s major contribution being to make the average NRA member aware of what is going on and voting records using NRA News, NRA magazines, emails, postcards and other direct methods.  The NRA also does more than anyone else to educate people about gun safety through the 115,000 NRA Instructors and that effort is responsible for much of the reduction of injury from gun accidents.
  • Bloomburg, Soros and others have been giving $10s of millions for years and most press supports all gun control laws and most reportes don’t know anything about guns.  Anyone who wants to can find many examples of the press using “machine guns” or “automatic guns” instead of Assault Rifle or showing a picture or video of a machine gun shooting while talking about banning Assault Weapons when the guns they are talking about are the standard semi-auto guns.  NY State now even includes handguns used to shoot in the Olympics as Assault Weapon under the new NYSAFE definition.
  • Gross totally dismissed John Lott’s More guns, less crime book.  If you believe in gun control you dismiss the book.  At worse, the data shows that having a CCW law is netural while the fact that all of those new CCW laws and new CCW gun owners along with the reduction in the crime rate would argue the fact that more guns have some positive impact.
  • Weak gun laws in some states provide guns for the high crime rate areas that have strict gun control.   This ignores the fact that it is the criminals in high crime states that are exporting crime from the states that have so called “weak” gun laws but also have lower gun crime.  Gun dealers in “weak gun law states” are not teleporting guns to the so called “strong gun law states.”  No, it is the criminal that will buy a gun illegally in one state and transport that gun illegally into another state.  It also does not explain the crime guns that are from the same state or from a state that has strict gun control laws. (I guess that the reason that NYC, DC, and Chicago are having such a big heroin problem is because of the weak heroin laws in other states.)
  • The 2007 repeal of a Missouri law that required background checks and licenses for all handgun owners appeared to be associated with a significant increase in murders there.  The study, paid for by Bloomburg, from the anti-gun Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, cherry picked the year and the state to support their conclusion.  (While Bloomburg should be commended for the $1.1 Billion plus he has given to John Hopkins, does anyone really think that any report or study from John Hopkins will be fair and honest?)
  • Cook did take a question about “smart guns” and correctly said that one of the problems was the NJ law that will require all guns have the “smart gun” technology 3 years after a gun with the technology is sold in the US.  I brought up the fact it was my understanding that the gun cost $1,400, (correction, not $1,800,) and the watch $399, (correction, not $1,400,) also that the gun had a 10% failure rate and was only available in 22 cal. and that is not really a self defense caliber. (Shout out to Bloomburg, why not show the way and announce that your body guards are only going to be caring the new smart gun?)
  • Cook stated that gun ownership had gone from about 50% of the population to 35% of the population.  I say that no one knows what the number is.  In the past when our rights were not being attacked, people had less of a reason to lie when they answered that poll question.  That is not the case now.  For example look at Connecticut.  Before the new AW registration was passed it was estimated that gun owners in Connecticut owned 350,000 or more so called Assault Weapons however only about 50,000 guns were registered by the deadline.  Does this mean that the estimates were wrong or that all of those people who said that they would not register their guns were telling the truth and now their are hundreds of thousands of new criminals and 300,000 or more “illegal” guns in CT? If someone took a telephone poll in Connecticut and asked people if they owned guns, who thinks that any one with an unregistered “Assault Weapon” would say, yes they own guns.  Based on the numbers in Orange County NY, the number of brand new handgun owners have increased from the average of 435 new handgun owners a year to 1,735 new handgun owners in 2013.  Almost a four fold increase.  That number represent brand new handgun owners who have never owned any handgun.
  • Georgia was ridiculed because of Georgia’s new so called “guns everywhere” law especially because it allows guns where alcohol is served.  That ignores the fact that almost all states that have laws require that if you have a gun on you, you are not allowed to drink at all.  I only know of one state that allows you to have a gun and go to a bar and get drunk, can you guess the state?  Why NY, land of gun control, of course and we have never had a problem in NY that anyone can point to.

I had fun and enjoyed the ride on the train.  I got the senior discount so the ride in and back only cost me about $20 both ways with parking.  Goss and Cook came all the way from Duke U but Oxford University Press picked up the tab.   They did get extra points from me for not cutting me off and letting me ask more than my fair share of questions and for putting up with me interrupting them several times.  I don’t think that they would have put up with the interrupting except I was making some very valid points.

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