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Debate with my anti-gun brother (who is a judge)

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by rainbowbob, Apr 15, 2008.

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  1. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    I recently engaged my brother, who happens to be a judge, in a rather long debate on gun ownership. This was accomplished via email, and I post it here for those of you might be interested. It is long...and nobody is "converted" - but some decent points are made (mostly by me ;)) and it gives you a perspective on what the "other" side is thinking.


    Rich –

    I’m not expecting to change your mind, nor is it my intention to needle you - but I came across the following [excerpted from a long article] that may cause you to at least reconsider how conclusions based on flawed statistics have been used repeatedly to mislead the public. (e.g., “Guns in the home are 6 times more likely to kill an innocent person than a burglar.”)

    You may have heard this statistic somewhere and assumed it was an accurate and reasonable conclusion. We all do that from time to time – especially when the statistics support our foregone conclusions. I only want to point out that (as you already know) statistics can be used unfairly and, if left unchallenged, can muddy the waters of an already fractious national debate. Next…I will cite statistics and use them to support my already foregone conclusion. ; - )

    I realize you are probably not interested in taking the time to read much on this subject – but this is pretty short. It refers to a study that is generally considered to be the most rigorous study, with the largest sample-size, of any study on the defensive use of guns by ordinary citizens in this country. That study – as well as a dozen others – support estimates of between 1.5 and 4.5 million defensive gun uses per year by ordinary citizens in this country. It also indicates that the incidence of injury in violent crimes against innocent victims is appx. 17% for those that resist with a firearm – and appx. 25% for those that do not resist at all.

    Brother Bob



     
  2. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    So what did Judge Rich say?
     
  3. SsevenN

    SsevenN Member

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    Thanks for the post Bob!;);)
     
  4. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    Rich –

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I will now attempt to thoroughly repudiate it [my comments bracketed in red] within the body of your email (your comments in blue):

    ______________________________________________

    Bob -
    I read the article, at least the highlighted parts. I think I may have seen it once before. Of course, it doesn’t change my opinion, but you figured that. I am sure this won’t change your opinion either, but I thought it was ironic that the week after we had our discussion, a kid in Centralia was killed playing around with his father’s unlocked gun and in another city, an elementary school boy brought two loaded guns to school.

    [These tragic cases are not ironic…they are cases of negligence. There is little difference between these incidents and those that result from leaving out prescription pain meds, or poisons, or even the keys to the car. And they are preventable. Firearms should be locked out of the reach of very young children, and they should be taught that guns are very dangerous and can kill them…to not touch a gun if they see one…to tell an adult if they do see one…to leave immediately if they are at a friends house and see one. Older children should be taught how to shoot and handle a firearm safely. A corollary would be to instruct small children to stay away from swimming pools and other bodies of water unless an adult is present…to take effective preventative measures to insure that they do so…and to teach older children to swim.]

    I’m not so sure about leaving out the suicides. Many people attempt suicide with pills or by strangulation. If found in time they might survive, especially from pills. It is hard to put the top of someone’s head back on. As you know depression is a disease. It can strike at any time. Who is to say that an otherwise careful person won’t develop clinical depression and use the handy gun?

    [That is a good question. However…clinical depression can and does cause some people to attempt suicide with our without a gun. The statistics I have seen indicate there is no significant difference in the rate of completed suicides in areas where guns are not legally available. It would be interesting to know the number of gun-related suicides in those areas. If that number is significant, it might indicate that making guns illegal is ineffective in keeping them out of the hands of people who desire to have them for whatever reason (much like every other attempt at prohibition). My understanding is that such unfortunate persons can and will find effective alternative means in most cases…. ]

    I had a case like that at *** —very intelligent software engineer, lived on Lake ******, careful with his guns, keeping them locked up. Until he became depressed. Fortunately, he was not killed by the swat team that showed up, and I got to deal with him.

    [...including “suicide by cop”. He (and the officers involved) were fortunate that they had the training and ability to resolve the situation safely.]

    I am 59. I have lived in a bad neighborhood for 34 years. I lived next door to a crack dealer for awhile. We have gang graffiti on fences. Someone could kill me in a drive-by, or break into my house. I have a dangerous job. Someone could shoot me after I walk out of the door of the courthouse. I still do not believe that being prepared to fight violence with violence is the answer. I’d rather not play.

    [Is there an effective alternative answer I am not aware of? I know you don’t mean to trivialize the dangers you enumerate but - I must insist it is NOT a game. Nobody else is playing either – least of all the potentially violent people you have identified. You have identified a number of very real risk factors in your life. This is not paranoia – it is reality. I have seen numbers (Again with the statistics?) indicating something like 87% of us will be the victim of a violent crime some time in our life. Like any statistic, that may be misleading. For example: I have no idea how many of the victims in those crimes were involved in mutually criminal gang-banger incidents in which the victim was also an assailant. Those numbers would obviously not apply to you or me. Whatever an accurate applicable statistic is for you and me…the point is that there is SOME significant level of REAL risk for ordinary, law-abiding citizens – and we don’t get to decide if, where, when, or how it might happen. If it WERE to happen to you, I find it somewhat hard to imagine attempting to avert a violent assault or murder attempt with kind words and a hug. I also cannot accept the idea of rolling into a fetal position and going off quietly and cooperatively into that long good-night.

    You do, of course, effectively apply the use of violence, or more accurately, the threat of violence, every day you go to work. I presume there are armed guards in your court-room to maintain order and to protect you. I must also assume that if the lawful orders issued by you are not obeyed, armed officers will enforce them. If persons ordered to appear do not do so, people with guns may appear at their door and arrest them - by force if necessary.

    “Well…” (you might say) “…Those are professional law enforcement personnel…that’s different. You should call the cops if you have a problem.” (I apologize for putting hypothetical words into your mouth.)

    But the courts have ruled that law enforcement has no duty to protect citizens, or liability if they fail to do so. I have been told by very experienced cops that they can not be everywhere, and, should you be so unfortunate as to be the victim of a violent crime, they will not likely show up until it is over. When they get there, they are little more than public stenographers documenting the scene (their words). They have told me it is the responsibility – and duty – of every able individual to defend themselves and their loved ones if the need should arise. I trust their professional experience and take them at their word. None of us can carry a cop with us wherever we go.]


    I do have a couple of excerpts of my own:


    [They are confusing cause with effect. More people living in higher crime areas will likely be motivated to acquire some effective means of defense. The important number is: In any particular area, how many crimes were successfully averted by the defensive use of a gun in the hands of an innocent victim?]


    [If any of those guns are being used to commit crimes – the criminal is subject to arrest. Let us assume for a moment we could legally rescind the Second Amendment and/or Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution. Is the solution to the problem of criminal possession of guns to prohibit law-abiding citizens from owning them? Can anyone seriously believe doing so will keep guns out of the hands of criminals? (Hint # 1: Criminals don’t obey gun laws any more than they obey burglary laws or murder laws. Hint # 2: Prohibition of anything does not work.) ]


    [They don’t seem to give much consideration to the very real benefit of the 2 million or more crimes averted by legitimate gun owners every year. The researchers you quote here seem only to be interested in measuring the “costs” - without accurately representing the “benefits”. You can’t do a cost/benefit analysis if you ignore the true benefits.]


    The writer is a professor of public policy at Georgetown University

    The letter writer collaborated on a book that I have not read, but it sounds as though it may try to take a balanced and statistical approach to the issue. Perhaps we should each read it and then continue the discussion some time.

     
  5. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    Rich -

    I’ll read yours – if you’ll read mine:

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

    Again, I will answer between the lines of your post [my comments bracketed in red].

    - Bob

    ________________________________________

    Bob -

    So there we are.

    Just for clarification—I am not advocating banning guns, so the question about whether banning guns would reduce crime is not relevant to our discussion.


    [I am happy to learn you are not an extremist. I am curious, however, to know why you do not advocate the banning of guns?]

    The question is “Does voluntarily refusing to possess a gun increase my risk to an unacceptable level? You say yes—I say no. I believe that you and I can only answer that question with our gut.

    [I would not presume to answer for you whether your unwillingness to effectively counter a violent assault raises your risk to an unacceptable level. I do believe it increases your risk of experiencing a bad outcome from a criminal assault, should one occur. If that is acceptable to you…by definition it isn’t unacceptable.. Conversely, the answer to the question whether or not keeping a firearm increases one’s risk to an unacceptable level is equally personal. The empirical answer may be (and I believe is) available from the statistical evidence. As you say…we can only answer that for ourselves. In the end, we each believe what we choose to believe.]

    Secondly, the Ludwig Cook book is not “my” book. I don’t even know if it would support my position. I was struck by the comment “The chapters in this volume do not conform neatly to the claims of any one political position.” as a possible indicator that the authors do not try to take a position on the issue. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t really know what their position is, but in this subject, any book that starts from the premise that gun control is right or wrong will likely find the statistics to shore up the preconception. There is a fair amount written on the effectiveness of gun control, but not a lot written on the personal crime-reduction benefits of owning a gun.

    [Interestingly, I have never read a credible treatise on the effectiveness of gun control. I could however, provide you with an extensive reading list on the personal crime-reduction benefits of owning a gun. Go figure!]

    I have no doubt that if we had the time, we could go on endlessly finding support for either side of this discussion. Ultimately, this is a personal moral decision and I have made mine.

    BTW, have you ever left your gun in your coat pocket, unlocked dresser drawer or another accessible location?


    [Not with Alonzo (my grandson) or any other child in the house...not once. Nor have I left him unattended with access to the pool, or let him play in the parking area without first blocking the driveway.]

    I know I have done a lot of stupid, careless, absent-minded things in my life that could have been fatal to me or someone I live, and I have been fortunate enough “to dodge the bullet” (to coin a phrase).

    [My previous comment is not meant to imply that I have never done anything careless or stupid. Of course I have - we all do. Most of the time we are fortunate and no tragedy occurs. But when tragedies DO occur – for whatever reason - they can very often be attributed to negligence. They are almost never the fault of inanimate objects. The more careful we are, the less likely a tragedy will occur.]

    I hope this response does not sound flip—it is not intended that way—but I’ve done my bit to convince you that your choice is unwise, and if I haven’t convinced you by now, I know I won’t.

    [Likewise…if I have not convinced you that your choice is unwise – I know I won’t. But we are not really so far apart. We share equally the desire to reduce the effects of violence on innocent people.

    Peace Brother

    - Bob]
     
  6. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    In addition to the statistical flaws in the Kellerman study, do not forget to point out that comparing only burglars KILLED by firearms ignores the fact that 98% (Gary Kleck) of defensive firearms use involves just the display of a firearm. Are those people any less saved because they did not kill their attacker?
     
  7. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    Bob -
    The reason I don’t advocate gun control (now) is that I do not know enough to know whether that form of prohibition would be effective. I don’t plan on studying the pros and cons because I have other fish to fry in the social reform arena. I should mention that I do support limitations and restrictions on some forms of firearms.


    [Then you DO advocate at least SOME limited forms of gun control...as do I. We may not agree completely on WHICH limitations and restrictions, but we may be closer than you think. For example: I support restricting violent criminals and the violently mentally ill from possessing firearms.]

    I also oppose interference with freedom of speech, but support restrictions on some forms of pornography.

    [As do I. For example: I support criminalizing child porn.]

    I also support licensing dangerous apparatus’, such as cars, guns and aircraft, and requiring that the operators be trained before getting a license.

    [As do I. Although operator training for a CPL is NOT required in our state, it is in many states. I could support such a requirement here.]
     
  8. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    See Japan.
     
  9. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    No offense meant, I know he's your brother and all, but...
    how have we come to the point where a sitting JUDGE thinks only part of the Bill of Rights are actually rights, and other parts can be infringed upon? Again no offense, but I can't imagine Judge Roy Bean being like this - bring 'im back!
     
  10. misterwhipple

    misterwhipple Member

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    Other developed nations

    It may be a mistake to look to any other country for a moral or social yardstick by which to evaluate crime, violence, and the right to self defense, for two reasons.

    First, I have yet to learn of any other nation where sovereignty proceeds both in law and in fact from the citizenry.

    Second, I know of none in which the rights of individuals are treated as an absolute limit in law on the authority of government. While this principle may be rampantly flouted and flagrantly neglected by the power of government in recent generations, it is still the bedrock of our law.

    I believe these two principles are inseparable from, and demanded by, the inherent dignity of the human person. If that is true, then surely no nation that lacks them can serve as a reliable guide in these matters.

    [There is also a religious argument to be made on this subject, which I would gladly discuss privately with anyone who's interested.]
     
  11. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    misterwhipple:
    I agree it is probably not worthwhile to compare our apples to any other country's lemons. You present the arguments for that very well in your post.
     
  12. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Member

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    I didn't read all of the long dialogue. However, I may be able give some useful insight.

    I'm a lawyer. I was anti-gun about a year and a half ago. No amount of debating led me to my current strong pro-gun stance. I went to the range, took some courses and came to some realizations on my own. It's unlikely that you'll be able to convert your brother through debating.

    I mean no disrespect to your brother. However, becoming a judge is largely political once a lawyer gets to that level. His stance on guns probably helped him to get to where he is.
     
  13. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    Jake:
    Say it aint so...you're a lawyer? ;)

    Seriously - as an anti-gunner - what made you want to go to a range and shoot?

    Actually my brother is a County Commissioner. They are appointed (not elected) and must go through a grueling vetting process. there is actually very little politics involved. He presides as a judge in family law, mental health, and juvenile cases. He really is a good man, and a good judge...just a little misguided on some issues.
     
  14. misterwhipple

    misterwhipple Member

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    "Violence never solves anything"

    I must admit, it is puzzling that a judge would think such a thing. Many of the routine acts of criminal law enforcement are universally considered violent when individuals undertake them without the authority of law. Do you think your brother is aware of the contradiction?

    [Oops, missed the part about County Commissioner and family court.]

    Still, some of the same applies. I don't necessarily suggest bringing it up, but has the subject come up on its own?
     
  15. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Member

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    To be totally clear, I'm no longer anti-gun.

    When I was anti-gun, I started off with a one-on-one course for shotgun sporting clays. It was "like golf" and a "sport". I had such a good time that it consumed me in no time. Eventually, I figured what the hell and went to the handgun range. It dawned on me that the people I met at the ranges were some the coolest people around. At that point, my anti-gun views had faded away. After some research, I became strongly pro-gun.

    =====

    I fully understand your brother was appointed. It's still very much political. Think about how judges are selected for the Supreme Court. The judges’ political views and prior decisions are given a complete colonoscopy before the President appoints. Also, rubbing elbows at the local bar gatherings helps. Certain judges are appointed for being consistently anti-gun, and vice versa. Your brother may not admit to the appointment process as being political. Nevertheless, it is.

    Make no mistake. I'm not slighting his credentials or intelligence. Those things are assumed at that level.
     
  16. BAT1

    BAT1 Member

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    Gun debate

    If he is a judge, he probably carries, if he is smart. If a thousand judges says it is wrong, it does not make it right if you get your door kicked in and killed. You must be your own advocate in this situation. I'm sure he has seen his share of gun violence, but has he ever had to worry about it coming to his home affecting his family.
     
  17. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    Jake:
    I went through a similar evolution from mildly anti-gun to vehemently pro-gun.

    You are probably right in your assessment of the political overtones associated with my bro's appointment. He did not have to 'run' in the usual sense, however.

    misterwhipple:
    I wrote the following to him (post #4):



    That was a paraphrase of an insightful response from another writer (I wish I could remember who) on a previous thread of mine here at THR. My brother did not directly respond to that...but did change the subject shortly thereafter. ;)
     
  18. rainbowbob

    rainbowbob Member

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    In my brother's reply he writes:


    I replied:
     
  19. BB62

    BB62 Member

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    Jake,

    Exactly why did your anti-gun views fade away?

    I mean no insult to you, but by the way you phrased it, it almost seems that since the range people were "cool" you could not square that with your stereotype of gun owners.

    Not to put words in your mouth, but I, and I think many others would LOVE to hear exactly how you came to see the light.

    We (okay, maybe it's just me) tend to talk in ways that "we" understand - but that doesn't necessarily hit home with people on the fence - hence my request.
     
  20. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Member

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    Hi BB,

    You literally made up something about what I said. I can't respond. Have fun.

    -Jake
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2008
  21. BB62

    BB62 Member

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    Hi Jake,

    What did I "make up"?

    I see your original post was this:

    So, covering all bases, I will answer your original post also.

    Your original post was unclear to me, even though you felt you explained yourself well enough - hence my question.

    I didn't say you had a stereotype of gun owners, I said that my interpretation was that that was a possible meaning of your phrasing.

    I don't want to argue, I want (and wanted) merely to understand more clearly how your conversion progressed.

    It is a shame that you don't recognize, or choose to recognize, that one ought to clarify intent/meaning/etc. before assailing another.
     
  22. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I would do it like this: Did you take the oath required in Article 6 of the Constitution?
    (My emphasis)

    There is no escape clause there -- he didn't swear to only support those parts of the Constitution that he likes.

    If he cannot keep the oath -- for whatever reason -- he must resign.
     
  23. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    Did I miss something, or did he completely fail to address your apt statement that he's perfectly comfortable using force and the threat thereof by armed agents of the state?

    If in fact he did totally skate by that, it hardly surprises me. The "violence never solves anything" crowd almost ALWAYS do that. The one or two percent who don't, fall back on the lame dodge of the War Resisters' League, namely, "We didn't create this problem, how do you expect us to solve it NOW?"

    Anybody who claims that "violence doesn't solve anything", but who habitually employs men armed with firearms to enforce his will is a hypocrite.
     
  24. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    He's not a federal judge. He's a county commissioner, by virtue of which he "presides as a judge in family law, mental health, and juvenile cases." Not sure how that works, but that's what we are told in post #13.
     
  25. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I am a mere county election commissioner, and I had to take that oath (with the Constitution of Arkansas added on.) I suspect he did have to take it -- and to my mind, violation of a sworn oath is moral turpitude, which should render the violator inelligible to hold any office.

    My position is, "You don't like the Second Amendment? Fine. You're free to start the amendment process to repeal it. But until it's repealed, I expect you to faithfully execute the oath you took when you assumed office."
     
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