Thursday, May 27, 2004


A reader who takes more of an interest in guns than I do has emailed me as follows:

"The Australian compulsory gun "buyback": See the red line in slide 17 of this Australian Institute of Criminology report (PDF). (Background to the report here). Note that the "gun buyback" happened in 1997 but the national homicide rate showed not a twitch in response.

A more international flavoured report is here (PDF) which describes Australia's gun-buyback scheme and associated bans as a "failed experiment". The article concludes: "In all cases, disarming the public has been ineffective, expensive and often counterproductive". Also of note is this summary of the Australian statistics -- showing that "The number of (firearm) offences has increased even when 642,000 guns were destroyed".

It is not necessary to agree with Lott's contrarian "more guns equals less crime" hypothesis to support the long established right to own firearms -- as this summary of British history shows. This Austrian paper (PDF), for example, accepts as a starting position the idea that reduced gun availability would reduce crime, but then argues that the cost of enforcement and the extent of evasion undermines the practicality of the whole scheme. The real value of Lott is that his work dramatically shows that the much more widely believed "less guns equals less crime" hypothesis is based on not much more than wishful thinking. Sometimes science requires stirrers to shift the dead weight of unthinking complacency. The relationship between guns and crime is probably complex, changeable, highly dependent on other factors, highly variable between societies and even generations within the same society, and not easily subject to any simplistic "one size fits all" rules.

Unfortunately legislators and antigun zealots think we belong to a deterministic world where humans behave as predictably as Skinner-box pigeons. As humans are not pigeons, their ham-fisted legislation almost always fails, usually producing unintended consequences that the hapless social engineers never imagined. In general the great cost of establishing and enforcing these systems is money that would be better spent on more direct crime prevention and law enforcement measures. Something many police forces have actually pointed out: "The New Zealand government discontinued firearms registration in 1984 after the New Zealand police recommended it's termination. The Canadian Police Association was at the brink ofwithdrawing it's support of the firearms registration because of it's serious shortcomings. At the height of the Austrian gun debate some two years ago leading police officials stated that a then called-for prohibition of handguns would not only be senseless and a waste of time and money, but that itwould be outright dangerous because of it's impact on the black arms market." (Source again here [PDF])

This Canadian site calls gun control advocates. Hoplophobics. It's great to see the old leftist debating device of psychologising every competitive opinion (eg xenophobia, homophobia etc) used against them!"



An email from a born-in-Seattle reader: "More silliness in Seattle is on display as Seattle refuses to punish lawbreakers and votes to dump a law that impounded cars from people who had their licenses suspended. The newspaper headline is a classic, "City Council votes to dump unpopular impound law." I'm sure the law was unpopular with it's criminal targets. The argument used to oppose the law is a real head turner, "opponents said the law amounts to economic injustice because it treats violators who pay tickets better than those who do not, regardless of the public danger posed by both groups of drivers." The Seattle Council takes another step in the direction of creating another dysfunctional city".

Peggy Noonan: "Fast Eddy Doctorow told a story at the commencement all right, and it is a story about the boorishness of the aging liberal. An old '60s radical who feels he is entitled to impose his views on this audience on this day because he's so gifted, so smart, so insightful, so very above the normal rules, agreements and traditions. And for this he will get to call himself besieged and heroic -- a hero about whom stories are told! -- when in fact all he did was guarantee positive personal press in the elite media"

Amazing. The fat filmic slob is in favour of school choice: "Every parent wants to do what's best for their child. Whatever I can afford, I'm going to get my kid the best education I can get" More on Moore on the Adam Smith blog.

"Neocon" nonsense: "Although there are notable exceptions, many European commentators and much of the public are resorting to conspiratorial theories to explain the direction of U.S. foreign policy and somehow overlook the fact that American public opinion runs in favor of the president's handling of foreign affairs. Perhaps more important, however, they overlook the deep historical roots of the current direction of American foreign policy. It is not driven by a "neocon cabal." Rather, it is that certain individuals associated with the neoconservative label have been particularly articulate in expressing a set of policies that flow from two ideas that resonate deeply in American public opinion. The first is a belief that the United States has a responsibility to spread its vision of individual liberty. The second is that the primary and perhaps exclusive task of the federal government is to protect its citizens from external threats".

Carnival of the Vanities is up again -- blessedly free of strained attempts at humour this time.

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Mirror sites here and here


The Left cannot face the fact that the American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq is fundamentally humanitarian. The most effective response to the 9/11 events and the one in America's own best interests would have been a retaliatory strike using nukes to take the whole of Afghanistan off the map -- followed by a threat that Mecca would go sky high if there were any further Islamic attacks on the USA or its allies. That would have made Islam a religion of peace overnight. But GWB rightly rejected that easy road because it would have involved the death of millions of innocents. He chose instead to go after just the bad guys -- an extremely difficult task. And its difficulty is causing continuing American deaths in Iraq to this day. But Americans have always given their blood in order to be humane. They did it in two world wars and in Vietnam and they are doing it now in the Middle East. The only alternative strategy that the Left have is to do nothing -- thus inviting more and more attacks.

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