Society

America as a Free Fire Zone

Copyright 2010 by Ernest Partridge. Published here with permission of the author.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. — Second Amendment,
United States Constitution

On January 12, thirty thousand people attended a memorial service for the seven victims of the Tucson massacre.

Thirty thousand: that’s about the same number of Americans who died in 2006 from gunshot wounds. Almost one hundred every day.

That is a statistic that stands alone among the civilized nations of the world. The Brady Campaign reports that the annual gun homicides in Finland were 17, in Australia 35, in England and Wales 39, in Spain 60, in Germany 194, in Canada 200, and in the United States 9484. This means that homicides amounted to almost one third of gun deaths in the United States.

Compared with other industrial countries, the U.S. firearm homicide rate was:

  • 5 times that of Canada
  • 10 times that of Finland
  • 13 times that of Germany
  • 19 times that of Australia
  • 24 times that of Spain.
  • 44 times that of England and Wales

These are hard, authenticated facts. Whatever position one takes on the gun control issue, statistics such as these must be acknowledged and dealt with if one is to be taken seriously in the debate.

So what is to account for those 30,000 gun deaths in the United States? There are many hypotheses, by no means mutually exclusive: A “gun culture” based upon a long historical tradition, the depiction of gun violence in the popular mass media (movies and TV, computer video games), the large number of privately owned firearms (though less, per capita, than in Canada), and finally, the almost total absence of laws restricting gun ownership.

The unrestricted access to and ownership of guns in the United States is largely a result of the lobbying of the gun industry through its surrogate, the National Rifle Association, which wields virtual veto power over the Congress. This despite the fact that a majority of the American public, including the rank and file members of the NRA, approve of restrictions on gun ownership. In particular: 79% of Americans and 63% of gun owners support a requirement of a police permit for gun purchases., and 87% of Americans and 83% of gun owners approve of background checks before purchasing guns.

Following each assassination or massacre in the United States, there is a public outcry for gun control: the Kennedy and King assassinations in the sixties, the Columbine High School Shootings in April,1999, the Virginia Tech massacre in April, 2007. The Tucson shootings last month, however, were ominously different. This time the members of Congress, the President, and the media, while deploring the incident, had little if anything to say about legal control and registration of firearms. Such is the control today of the gun industry and the NRA over public discussion and legislation.

As I contemplated writing this piece about the gun menace in the United States, I revisited an internet essay I posted it in May, 1999, a month after the Columbine incident. To my profound sorrow, I discovered that very little had changed in the intervening twelve years, and that much of what I wrote then applies equally today. The propaganda and rationalizations of the gun apologists are virtually identical today to those that were presented twelve years ago. And so, much of the remainder of this essay will draw upon that earlier work.

Then, as now, I asked myself, what more can I say about the gun menace in the United States, that has not been repeated, time and again, ad nauseam? What could I possibly add to the debate?”

Perhaps my contribution might be drawn from insights gained from my four decades of toil as a professor of philosophy and a frequent teacher of critical thinking. The horrible incidents in Littleton, Colorado, Blacksburg, Virginia, Tucson, Arizona, and other places too numerous to mention, routinely provoke in the public media a flow of logical fallacies, originating from or encouraged by the gun lobby, sufficient to launch a thousand books devoted thereto. Even a brief treatment of the identifiable fallacies appearing in the public debate over the “causes” of gun violence would easily fill a book. And I have other books to write. So I will examine only five fallacies.

There is, I submit, no moral justification for tolerating the conditions in our society that lead to the untimely deaths of 30,000 of our fellow citizens each year. Moreover, the arguments of the gun lobby and gun enthusiasts in favor of allowing these conditions to continue can not withstand logical scrutiny. Or so I will argue in the remainder of this essay.

Common to most of these fallacies is scapegoating and rationalization – the “not us, it’s them” response. The first two on our list, “the slippery slope” and “the fallacy of the sacred text” are so commonplace among the NRA and other Second Amendment absolutists that they demand our attention. The other three all rest upon weird theories of causation and proof – theories so outlandish that a simple explication thereof, separated from the political rhetoric, should suffice as refutation.

The Slippery Slope – (alternatively called “the domino effect” and “the camel’s nose”). We’ve all heard the argument: “once they (meaning , of course, the government) take away our assault weapons, what’s to keep them from confiscating all handguns, and then our sporting and target rifles? Where do you draw the line?” An interesting but often overlooked feature of “slippery slope arguments” is that the slope slips in both directions. Hence, the arguments of the gun-control advocates: “once you allow citizens to own assault weapons, why not artillery, or even atomic weapons? Where do you draw the line?”

“Where do we draw the line?” Quite simply, we “draw the line” where, in our collective and considered wisdom, we choose to “draw the line.” Simple as that. The drawing of legal “lines” is both commonplace and generally uncontroversial. There is no remarkable difference between the political judgment of a seventeen and an eighteen year old. But clearly six year-olds should not vote, and thirty year-olds should not be denied the franchise. So we “draw the line” at eighteen, simply because we have to “draw” it at some age. We have collectively agreed that eighteen “seems about right.” Likewise in the cases of the legal ages of consent to marry, to purchase and drink alcoholic beverages, to operate a motor vehicle, and so on.

Both nature and artifice are chock-full of continua – gradations from “too little” to “too much,” with no identifiable “line” between the extremes. The list is endless: vehicle speeds, truck load limits, blood alcohol content, ambient noise, water and air pollution levels, and so on.

Civil comity and personal safety both require some “drawing of lines” across such continua. The “line” along the continuum in the right to bear arms should reasonably be drawn beyond registered ownership by non-felons, and before the ownership of assault or nuclear weapons by felons. The NRA complaint against “line-drawing” is specious.

The Fallacy of the Sacred Text.  To the NRA and other gun-advocates, the Second Amendment simply means what it says. More precisely, they hold that the second clause regarding “the right to keep and bear arms” means what it says. They conveniently overlook the first clause which justifies the second through the “free state’s” need of a “well-regulated militia.” And the less said about that word “regulated” the better. Like scripture, say the absolutists, the Constitution is exempt from the ordinary weaknesses of human language such as ambiguity, vagueness and historical contexts. The founding fathers speak, say the absolutists, like the voice of God, unequivocally, clearly, and with ultimate authority.

Accordingly, the Second Amendment “means what it says – ‘shall not be infringed.'” Period!

But why should this “right to keep and bear arms” be absolute, when none of the other constitutional rights are absolute? As Justice Holmes famously remarked, the right to free speech does not allow one to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Nor does the freedom of religion allow human sacrifice or even permit parents to deny on religious grounds, appropriate medical attention for their children. The right of the free press is limited by the laws of libel, and the right of free assembly does not sanction lynch-mobs or the obstruction of traffic. None of these “constitutional rights” are absolute. Why then should the “right to bear arms” be an exception?

Religious conservatives, in their defense of “absolute morality,” commonly condemn “situation ethics.” And yet, whenever one is obedient to two or more moral rules, “situation ethics” becomes unavoidable. (The religious conservative claims obedience to at least ten). As the late philosopher Charles Frankel once observed, exclusive obedience to a single moral rule is not “morality,” it is fanaticism. The ten commandments forbid “bearing false witness,” murder, and stealing. But what if one must lie or steal to save an innocent life? Two or more moral rules raises the logical possibility of, and often actual encounter with, moral conflicts — the plain impossibility of avoiding the violation of one rule through obedience to another. Enter “situation ethics.” (See my A Defense of Moral Relativism).

If “the right to bear arms” is to be absolute, what other social, political and moral desiderata are to be sacrificed to this one absolute? Let’s start with “the right to safety in one’s home, property and person.” To their profound grief, Gabrielle Giffords and her Tucson constituents faced the implications of this sacrifice on January 8, 2011. Must we all?

There is an alternative to Second Amendment absolutism which has been adopted by all civilized societies (including our own, though to a minimal degree): admit that “the right to bear arms” must, along with all other rights, submit to limits, defined by the values we accord to our other rights.

The Fallacy of the Single Cause. “It wasn’t the availability of guns and high-capacity magazines that caused the mayhem in Tucson. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was a nut case.” “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Similarly with the Columbine tragedy: “It wasn’t the availability of guns, it was video games.” “No it wasn’t, it was the mass media.” “No it wasn’t, it was poor parenting.” Back again to “no it wasn’t, it was the availability of guns.” And so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Common to all this buck-passing is the assumption that “if someone else is to blame, then we are not – if some other enterprise is the cause, then ours is not.” And so the search continues for the cause of the tragedies.

The cause?” Why just one cause? What is logically wrong with suggesting that “the gun culture,” and video games, and the mass media, and alienation, and absentee parents all may have, to some degree, contributed to these atrocities? Why must there be only one cause, the discovery of which fully exculpates all other suspect causes?

Answer: there is nothing whatever wrong with searching for, and addressing, multiple causes. If we are well-educated and logically savvy, we don’t ask, “what is the cause of cancer?” Or “What was the cause of the Russian Revolution?” Or “what was the cause of Barack Obama’s election?” Why then should we tolerate, without rebuttal, the attempts of the gun lobby, the video game entrepreneurs, Hollywood film makers, or whoever else, to evade responsibility by locating “the cause” gun violence “somewhere else”?

But the “multiple causes” approach can itself be an oversimplification, for it evokes a mind-picture of separate legs holding up a table. This view suggests that each of the “multiple causes” is independent and discrete. But surely that is not the case. These several “causes” (in the social science jargon, “contributing factors”) constitute a web of intricately interacting “causes,” aptly described as “the culture of violence.” Thus media depiction of violence fosters a fascination with and a collection of firearms, and thence an absorption with violent video games, etc. (or vice versa – these “causes” are, after all, reciprocating). Attempts to solve “the gun violence problem” by attacking just one “cause” (such as gun ownership) is as useless as an attempt to kill a tree by cutting off one branch.

All-or-Nothing Causation. This fallacy is heard in the remark, “millions of kids play video games and watch violent TV and movies, but they don’t all go on shooting rampages.” In this we hear echoes from the tobacco industry: “millions of people smoke, but most of them don’t get lung cancer. Ergo, smoking does not cause lung cancer.” But smoking was never claimed to be the sole and certain cause of lung cancer. Instead, it is claimed (now with conclusive scientific evidence) to be a contributing and aggravating factor in carcinogenesis. Statistics tell the story, as we compare mortality figures for smokers and non-smokers. Similarly, while the vast majority of young people who play computer games or watch “slasher movies” admittedly do not commit homicides, this fact in no way discounts the possibility that some murders may be “triggered” by immersion in violent media. At the very least, that possibility deserves careful study, and I am told that such studies are very disquieting.

Proof-Positive or None. This sophistical device has been also been prominent in the apologetics of the tobacco industry. About the time of the first Surgeon General’s report on Smoking and Health (in 1963), we read such dismissals as “nobody has ever shown anything conclusive about cigarettes and health – lung cancer and all that. It just hasn’t been proved.” And “there is no proof – no established proof – of cigarettes being harmful.” (Thomas Whiteside’s “A Cloud of Smoke” in The New Yorker, November 30, 1960). Closer examination shows that such dismissals rest upon an alleged failure to discover a “definitive causal connection between tobacco smoke and cancer.” However, as David Hume argued in the eighteenth century, and as philosophers of science have since then generally concurred, “definitive causal connections” are not “observed” as such, they are inferred from the “constant conjunction” of events. Scientific “proof” is not only probabilistic (i.e., “a matter of degree”), in addition valid scientific hypotheses must be “falsifiable in principle” – i.e., the proponent of the hypothesis must be prepared to describe “what it would be like” (contrary to fact) for the hypothesis to be false. It is unlikely that “hired gun” debunkers in either the tobacco or the firearms industries are prepared to tell us what sort of “proof” might convince them that their products are, in fact, public menaces. (See my “Cigarettes, Sophistry and David Hume.”)

A lack of “established,” “conclusive” or “positive” proof does not amount to no proof at all. In both scientific practice and in practical life, we are best guided by probabilities. We buckle our seat belts, exercise regularly, avoid drug abuse, in the reasonable but less-than-certain belief that such precautions are warranted. And if the purveyors of the instruments and depictions of violence correctly point out that there is no certain evidence that their products promote mayhem, strong, albeit less than perfect evidence should suffice to justify a curtailing of their activities.

Fallacy and the Subversion of Public Debate. As the above (very partial) list of sophistries indicates, the rhetorical armament of commercial apologists is vast, subtle, and often ingenious. There are few public issues that can not be argued with apparently plausible arguments on both sides. Even with seemingly scientific issues such as global warming, biodiversity, pesticide use, and now the “causes” of gun violence, the targeted industries are routinely capable of producing “expert scientific” rebuttal witnesses. Thus the public comes to believe, as one wit put it, that in the arena of public debate, “for every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.” It doesn’t take much logical acumen to understand that if all sides to an issue can be equally well supported, then no side can be supported. The coin of “expertise” and “evidence” is thus debased. Public debate becomes, as G. W. F. Hegel put it, “a night in which all cows are black.”

Eventually, much of the public comes to believe that there are no facts, only “beliefs;” no evidence or proof, only “persuasion.” Rational political debate is replaced by “public relations.” According to some trendy scholars, expertise is to be regarded as “oppression,” and science itself demoted to merely another (white-western-male) “social construct.” Enter the “post-modernists.”  Appropriate responses to global emergencies such as climate change and mass extinction are thus postponed indefinitely, until long after it is too late.

If there is to be no place in the “post-modern” world for critical scholarship and science, and thence for effective public policy derived therefrom, then in that world there will be many more Tucson tragedies, catastrophic weather events, ecological disasters, economic chaos, and much more, as shared community concerns fade into insignificance in the arena of competing private and commercial interests. Not a happy prospect.

Unless, Unless — we come to our communal senses and appreciate that not all arguments are created equal; that there are objectively better (cogent) and worse (fallacious) modes of argumentation, and that a recognition of these modes of thinking can be taught to all ages. In particular, science teaching should include an understanding, not only of the content but also of the methodology and logic of science, so that a student, and eventually a public, can understand why there are good reasons to believe in astronomy, and no justification for believing in astrology, and why the warnings of government atmospheric scientists should carry more weight than the reassurances of the hired guns of the energy conglomerates. “Current events” discussions in high school and undergraduate college classes should cease to be mere sequences of “I believe thats,” each regarded as “equally precious” and “true-for” the student.  Instead, student utterances of “belief” should be followed immediately by the challenge, “why should we believe you? What is your evidence and your argument?” Class discussions should become disciplined exercises in critical expression, defense and rebuttal, all with an aim, not to persuade, but to discover confirmable truths.

Alas, there are precious few teachers trained to lead such discussions, and fewer still being taught such skills in the Schools of Education. The results have been alarming, to say the least. Sara Rimer of The Hechinger Report (Teachers College, Columbia University) writes:

An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn’t learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study….

Forty-five percent of students made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college, according to the study. After four years, 36 percent showed no significant gains in these so-called “higher order” thinking skills.

A reversal of this dismal situation will require a renewed commitment to public intelligence and reasonableness whereby we may learn and appreciate once again that there are discoverable causes of and effective remedies for our social problems.

We hear a great deal these days about “teaching morality in the public schools.”  Perhaps we should. But even before that, perhaps we should start with a investment in the teaching of “critical thinking.”

What is to be done? Those of us who were alive and alert during the sixties, who lived through the Kennedy and King assassinations and the urban riots of that decade, have repeatedly experienced the same dreary sequence which follows each prominent assassination or mass murder: public outrage and grief, demand for action, apologetics from the media and the NRA, “outrage fatigue,” and finally a return to status quo ante – until the next atrocity. There is little indication that the aftermath of the Tucson incident will be at all different.

However, as some wise person once commented, hopeless causes are by far the most interesting: such “hopeless causes” as the non-violent overthrow of the British Raj in India, of Apartheid in South Africa, of legal segregation in the American south, and of Soviet communism. As the great Russian dissident, Andrei Sakharov, reflected:

There is a need to create ideals even when you can’t see any route by which to achieve them, because if there are no ideals then there can be no hope and then one would be completely in the dark, in a hopeless blind alley.

We begin by acknowledging the brutal facts. As the Sixties civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael remarked, “violence is as American as apple pie.” He was right. The culture of violence is woven into the fabric of our society, continually nourished by the profit motive, and defended by the virtuoso skills of corporate public relations. And as we noted above, the “usual suspects” trotted out after each new horror – the NRA, the arms industry, computers (games and internet), the media (cinema and television), absentee parents – are not independent “causes” of youthful violence, they are dynamically interacting and reinforcing factors in that “culture of violence.”

And as the statistics cited above clearly indicate, the consequences of that “culture of violence” are palpable.

The official response to the Tucson shootings has been profoundly discouraging. Comments such as “this is a terrible tragedy” are utterly uninstructive: we already know that, and need not be told again. Any proposals, from the President on down, that follow “let us all resolve to ….” are likely to be useless and unproductive hand-waving. We hunger for the bread of decisive and practical leadership, and are given stones of empty rhetoric.

The culture of violence will have to be attacked on many fronts, and at the roots. Firearms registration and control is not the answer – but it is an essential ingredient of the answer. Neither are restrictions and regulations of the internet, computer games or the media, enacted separately, the answer — by themselves. But they are ingredients of the answer. On the other hand, voluntary restraints by the commercial media are unlikely to count for much, as recent history has amply proven. We’ve heard it all before: “If we don’t portray violence, someone else will, and if that’s what the public wants, our reward for moral restraint will only lead to our bankruptcy.” As William Vanderbilt said, “The public be damned, I work for my stockholders!” “The invisible hand” of the free market, it seems, is without conscience. Proof? Again, look to recent history.

History also indicates solutions. Let the law (i.e. government) enforce upon all, what the conscientious businessman would enact for his firm “if it weren’t for what my competitors would do to me.” Garrett Hardin calls this “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon.” “Government interference?” Of course! But such “interference” took opium out of our drugs and pollutants out of our air, lakes and rivers. “Government interference” also requires that no medicines be prescribed unless proven safe and effective, protects us from tainted food, and protects our life savings from bank failures. Not very long ago, only the radical right and a few hard-shelled libertarians would suggest that we abolish the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Now, to our great sorrow and peril, we find that those radicals are apparently in control of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives. So we must argue anew in defense of regulations designed to protect the minds and morals our youth and the very lives of our citizens.

Talk is cheap. It remains to be seen if we are sufficiently outraged by “the culture of violence” to be actually willing to pay for long-term remedies.

As I have argued above, “the culture of violence” does not have a single cause, and thus does not have a single remedy. But if asked to identify, in descending order of significance, the root causes, I would begin with this: depersonalization. We live in a society that reduces persons to “personnel” in corporate structures, to “consumers” and “utility maximizers” in our economy, and to targets in our media. . To the Columbine killers, Harris and Klebold, their fellow students were no more “persons” than the video images in “Doom” or the cinema images in “The Basketball Diaries.” It all comes down to this: a deranged individual is capable of shooting at human-flesh-as-object. However, except in such desperate circumstances as warfare or self-defense, or in cases of extreme stress, few individuals can shoot to kill someone recognized as a fellow personal human being.

The core of morality in the great world religions, and in the secular “contractarian” ethics that I espouse and defend is empathy and compassion: the recognition in the other of the humanity and personhood that one cherishes in oneself.  This is the essential message of the golden rule. Conversely, as the psychologist in the movie “Nuremberg” concluded, after interviewing the Nazi criminals, “lack of empathy [is] the one characteristic that connects all the defendants: a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy. (The quotation accurately conveys the conclusions of the historical investigator, Dr. Gustav Gilbert). Thus it is that in modern society, thoughtless economic “happenstance” (“the invisible hand”) erodes the humanity of others until one finds oneself surrounded by humanoid “objects.” Accordingly, “banksters” and billionaires, with the purchased support and assistance of their political and media patrons enablers, loot our governments and deprive millions of our citizens of their homes, their livelihoods and their health. These plutocrats do all this heedless of the misery that they are causing in their seemingly limitless demand for more, still more, personal wealth.

This evil, issuing from the privation of empathy, must be thoughtfully resisted and reversed – in our personal lives (“let us resolve to…”) but also through rigorous research, through public investment, through education, and through a collective demonstration of public outrage such as we are seeing today in Madison.

47 Comments

  1. I don’t see how this article has anything to do with permaculture.

    The author here takes a definite political position on a controverisal issue.

    As far as I know, permaculture does not have an official political slant. I know Mollison was generaly critical of politicians, liberal and conservative, favoring grassroots action.

    This isn’t the first article I’ve seen here that seems to side with a certain political view, without much reference to permaculture methods.

    These article may confuse readers, perhaps leading them to think that the entire permaculture movement takes an author’s particular political stance. These articles may have a polarizing effect and discourage a diverse following.

    While I agree with the author on many points, I contend that permaculture need not neccessarily be pro-gun control (that is, top down gun control, by governments). A good argument can be made for the place of ungregulated firearms in a permanent culture.

    I highly recomend the book Military Organization and Society, by Stanislave Andreski. Andreski shows how the development of the rifle had democratizing effect on the world, by ending the monopoly feudal lords had on military force. Fuedal lords maintained supremacy with expensive weapons, armor, horses, and extensive training. Because rifles were relatively cheap, deadly, and easy to use, the general populace could effectively revolt, and eventualy overthrew oppresive feudal systems in Europe. Andreski cites many examples.

    The internet is a similar weapon, leveling the modern playing field. This weapon is obviously playing a role in modern revolutions like the one in Egypt.

    The whole world was once occupied by permanent cultures, living in balance with the land. One of the ways the dominant culture came to marginalize these others was military might. Had these traditional cultures been able to respond with recipricol force, they might never have been wiped out.

    Presently our ‘permacultures’ are safe from exploitation only because local governments defend our property rights (with threat of force). How well would we fare if, in the age old pattern, powerfull outsiders came to destroy our culture for short term gain?

    I think a permanent cultures should be sustainable in all aspects: ecologicaly, economicaly, educationaly, even militarily. Might guns have a place there?

    Is there anything intrinsicly bad about individuals or cultures being powerfull, even dangerous? After all, all organisms have their defenses.

    Was the Tucson crisis a failure of government? Or was it the failure of any number of other institutions which regulate individual behavior (family, community, culture, religion)?

    Does our movement need to have a stance on this?

    -Kyle

  2. One only needs to take a look at the history of this world and the millions that have been murdered by there governments and the Catholic Church. The right to bear arms is the right of the people to protect themselves from from the above should the situation arise.

    The main reason for the increase in murder and crime is because of a class of wingers that want God out of the way. Take God out of the family and the Government and you end up with what you have today. Teach evolution and the kids become gods and respect nobody

    The result is what you see today and who’s fault is it. The ones that say you can teach my kid about God or creation. Well if you don’t want your kids taught the truth stop your winging because you are only reaping what you sow.

  3. 1. why is this on a permacuture website?
    2. it’s probably better to keep permacuture separated from these kind of demented political hot topics. I see this kind of stuff on political forums all the time, and there is never a winner in debating this.
    3. permaculture encompasses everything, but it is wise to not alienate a massive number of gun enthusiasts without getting anything in return. they could just as easily become partners(many are nature lovers), but the second you start putting up articles like this you split the community directly in half
    4. where are the statistics/pictures that gun enthusiasts love to parade? they equally have a place in a unbiased article. A very simple one that doesn’t fit the less guns less violence thought process is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland.
    5. it gives me chills that something like this is popping up on a website that gives me hope for the future because I believe this is not good for permacuture. my personal view is that guns don’t have an ultimate future in a civil, and sustainable world, but until we take the steps towards that they aren’t going away anytime soon.

  4. I would also like to comment on the purpose of this article and voice my opinions on some other issues. I would like to see permaculture stay away from politics also. Almost every aspect of american organizations are either soaked in politics or religion and most of the time they are intertwined making people like me keep a safe distance. I would also like to see those articles on global warming be saved for some other outlet. GW is also an issue that is too politcally soaked. I would like to see more of an emphasis on how permaculture is biologically superior and the data behind it (which there has been plenty of on this site to my great liking). There is a danger of people writing permaculture off as being “hippie”. We have to accept that we live in a complex modern society and that a good deal of the rules that we have in place are actually good and they work. Like ideas of private property ownership including land that belongs to the people. Im not saying that all permaculture reeks of hippie communes, but that demographic is there. To be successful and reach a larger audience those parts should be downplayed while emphasizing the effiency and integrated systems design that would help the worlds growing population have access to better security and higher living standards.
    just my 2 cents

  5. If you look at the numbers as a proportion of gun related homicides to the population (using https://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country%3AFIN&dl=en&hl=en&q=what+is+current+population+of+finland ) as the source for population data, you will find that the United States isn’t even in the top three!! Talk about some hard data. You can make raw numbers say whatever you like, but by percentages by population, here is the actual ranking.

    Canada: .059%
    Germany: .029%
    Spain .013%
    USA: .003%
    Finland: .003%
    Australia .001%
    England & Wales .001%

    One gun homicide is too many, but don’t try to fool people into thinking that the US is so terrible. We’re not.

  6. In my PDC, taught by Geoff and Bill Mollison we were told politics, religon and metaphysics do not have a place in Permaculture. It is a design science. If we want Permaculture to become mainstream this is an excellent rule to stick to.

  7. Jenny,

    where are these numbers actually from? Anyone familiar with the situation in Germany will certainly tell you that the idea of having a 10x higher gun death rate than in the US cannot be correct. Germany’s firearm-related death rate (deaths per 100000 people per year) actually is about one order of magnitude lower than the U.S.’s.

  8. This has nothing to do with permaculture, can we move on from this crud please,,, and other related stories by political writers please,,,,, maybe ex-war artillery gun barrels recycled as chimneys or something might be fun.

    Can you spare us this rubbish please.

    Thanks,
    Adam

  9. I got the population data from https://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country%3AFIN&dl=en&hl=en&q=what+is+current+population+of+finland#met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:DEU

    If you take the number of gun related homicide deaths and divide by the population, we get the percent of deaths by gun wielding persons based on the population of a given country. Germany has a population of 81,879,976 as of 2009 according to the above website. If we divide the number of deaths by guns – 194, by the total people living in the country, we get .029%. So for every 100 people, 3 one hundredths of a person are murdered by a gun wielding person. In the United States, our population is 310,893,832 based on this website https://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html . If you divide the number of homicides by gun in the US – 9484 by 310,893,832, you get .003%. So for every 100 people, 3 one THOUSANDTHS of a person is murdered by a gun wielding person.

    So yes, if you look at the numbers as a percentage of population, which actually gives you meaningful data, not bare numbers that are out of context, you see that we aren’t even in the top three. Numbers can be made to show almost anything. Make sure that the numbers you are using either have meaningful context or are actually comparing the same things.

    You would expect a country with a population that is 2% of another population to have a much lower raw number of gun related homicides. (Like Finland, Population of 5,388,395 with only 17 gun related homicides) which they do, but if you actually look at the percentages, which actually compares the same unit, you see we have the same amount of gun related homicides per 100 people.

    But that data isn’t as inflammatory or scary as saying the US has over 9 thousand homicides and Finland only has 19!! Obviously we should be more like them!!!!!! Oh wait…statistically, we are!

  10. Jenny,

    that’s one of the reasons why I so strongly emphasize developing an intuition for numbers. Germany has about 80 million people (slightly more), the U.S. about 310 million people. That’s slightly less than four times the German population, right?

    You quote 194 gun deaths for Germany. So, if the U.S. had the same gun homicide rate, you would expect a number in the ballpark of 4*200 or about 800 or so, right?

    You quote a number that is more than ten times as high for the U.S., yet miraculously get a gun homicide rate that is about 10 times lower than for Germany. Shouldn’t that have made you suspicious?!?

    So, let me give you some proper numbers:

    Germany: 194 people out of 81.9 million = 0.00024% (2.4 per million).

    U.S.: 9484 people out of 311 million = 0.003% (30 per million).

    So, the U.S. gun homicide rate is indeed more than ten times higher than the German rate. Did you actually make a mistake when converting a fraction to a percentage? That would explain why you were off by two orders of magnitude here.

    Let’s talk about this not in terms of people shot dead per year, but per a lifetime timespan. An average one-in-500 risk of being shot dead as an U.S. citizen does not sound too reassuring, does it?

    Oh, by the way, this is not related to the maths, but some maybe interesting background on this: basically all of the the most spectacular cases of gun homicide in Germany (people running amok at school) involved weapons owned by sports marksmen. (We have stringent gun control laws in Germany.) One of the main reasons why controls have not been tightened here is that many of our politicians count on having good relations with all sorts of societies, including marksmanship societies.

  11. Jenny,
    You need to go and learn some maths.
    If Germany has a population of 80 million with approximate 200 gun deaths per year, and America is approximately 4 times the size, then you would expect the gun deaths to be 800 or so, to be on par. But America has nearly TEN Times the rate at over 9000 deaths.

  12. Article has nothing to do with permaculture.

    Getting my gun license in a month, so I can hunt the odd roo to feed the dogs and in the event of any sick animals on the farm.

  13. Stick to Permaculture. Not Politics.

    This site is going more toward political discussion and its getting to the point where I check it less and less.

  14. Well its okay to harvest wild food from zone 5 right. Does anyone think using a gun to shoot a wild animal – provided you have the necessary licence and its in season – is not permaculture? Geoff Lawton does a lot of fishing (including at his farm) and Mollison did a hell of a lot of hunting in Tasi. I own two guns for the day when hunting could come in handy. Fortunately game is plentiful and hunting as a sport has plummeted.

    As for the US, the gun industry is what feeds the prison and judicial industry. A sort of permaculture system of its own …

  15. Everyone has a right to his opinion, but I don’t think this article has anything to do with Permaculture.
    Permaculture means “Permanent culture or permanent AGRI-culture.” It’s about a sustainable, long-term, beneficial relationship between man and the land. That’s the area of it’s expertise, it’s a very important role, and it should stick to this role. It’s very badly needed.
    The original vision and ethics of the founders of Permaculture must be kept pure and alive, not permitted to get perverted, used or hijacked by political or other entities for their own end.

  16. Check your numbers again Jenny, You might have missed a 0 or 00.

    USA
    9484/310000000
    = 0.00003059355*100
    = 0.003059355

    Germany
    194/81880000
    = 0.00000236932
    = 0.00000236932*100
    = 0.000236932

    The graphs are here,
    https://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir_percap-crime-murders-firearms-per-capita
    (Germany’s software piracy rate is 7% higher though!)

    The linked sources
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

  17. Unbelievable. Keep this off this site.

    And for the record, if you have a right to your life, then you have a right to defend your life. Guns are tools for this purpose. I love guns.

  18. People love guns just for the same reason as they love cars, simply because of its glorification by the Hollywood film industry and corporate manipulating of media. You are all victims of false images!

    Personally I hate both cars and guns, just as much as I love bikes and bow and arrows.

    Anyway, I suspect most comments on this thread are made by an undercover agent from the weapon industry.

  19. I think some of the people here are just trolling, so best not to respond to their irrational outbursts.

    Permaculure is as much about social conditions and systemic analysis as it is about growing fruit and vegetables.

    And the article is an interesting example of using rational thinking and analysis to a modern problem (guns).

    We can learn from the rigour of the analysis.

    Change the topic from guns to peak oil, or climate chaos, and we can see the same kind of specious arguments used by people in denial.

    Or we can see the same kind of arguments used to support industrial agriculture as are used by the gun-lobby.

    I believe we can learn alot from this article. We can learn to debunk myths and falsehoods that keep the industrial-military-corporate status quo.

  20. “Anyway, I suspect most comments on this thread are made by an undercover agent from the weapon industry.”

    And I thought that I was in to conspiracy theories….

    I don’t love guns, but I’m going to be getting one for practical purposes on the farm. In fact the things just down right scare me.

  21. In response to the article: One’s personal opinion aside, this is all politics and no permaculture; it does not belong here.

    In response to Øyvind: I do not doubt that your heart is in the right place, but I couldn’t help but hear a hypocritical echo in your comment. You claim that you hate cars and guns, but love bicycles and bows and arrows. And you made this statement on the internet with a computer. I can understand a hate for cars, but do you hate everything made in a factory? I’d then advise you to cancel your internet service and stop using your computer. What is inherently worse about the industrial production of a gun than the industrial production of a bike or computer? I’ve seen videos in which Geoff Lawton hires big excavators to dig swales. Is Geoff Lawton evil or sinful for this?

    Do you think independently about the claims you make? Or are you blindly following an aesthetic ideal? A “false image,” perhaps?

    I have recently read some articles here about confirmation bias and the like. Well, you and I are as susceptible to confirmation bias as the worst consumerists; it is folly and hubris to think otherwise. Let us not get comfortable in our own unquestioned ideas. I challenge you to think of times where YOU accept things without properly thinking about them. I know that I do, and I try to recognize and rectify it.

    And it is just silly to think that commenters are undercover employees of the weapons industry.

  22. Take this article down. Seriously? I’m a secret agent cause i love permaculture, and I don’t want politics to divide the community? I’m sitting here in my parents house cause they are on a trip. I have to feed their dogs, and such. It snowed last night, and the smorning which fills the rain barrels :D. The Internet is a scary place because of vested interests with the intent to control of information, but I assure you I’m just a regular permaculture enthusiast from Arizona who is very uncomfortable with permaculture going into abortions, gun rights, socialized medicine, and any other topic that isn’t clearly permaculture. I’m all for issues like preservation of rainforests, no GMO politics, and many other political topics having to do with landscape, and sustainable living, but guns could have their place sustainably. They might not be the guns of today, but nonetheless we need to let permaculture evolve to that state before we put our foot down, and say they have no place, or that they have a place for that matter. Now for the love of god somebody take this off the website.

  23. Now isn’t it curious how – as it seems – specifically readers from the U.S. react so strongly to just touching the question of guns in society – in particular with requests to not have such a discussion.

    As an European, I actually find it quite sad how – to a large extent via U.S. television series – people around the globe are familiarized with the concept of a fairly simplistic gun-centred brutality as the “normal” way to deal with problems – regardless of whether that actually would be even anywhere near resembling what’s normal in their own societies. (And it’s certainly not that European cultures would be a shining light of non-violence.)

    I get the impression that to the vast majority of people on the planet, the question what rules societies should come up with to prevent the availability of firearms from becoming a major problem is perfectly normal to ask and debate. It’s specifically in the U.S. that just raising the question keeps on provoking strong allergic reactions.

  24. Thomas,
    Gun rights/controls are debated fervently in American politics; it is not that we do not want the question raised. It is that we do not want an ANSWER to the question on the front page of the premier permaculture website. This is to be debated, just not here. We might give passersby who don’t know any better the wrong idea about what permaculture is.

  25. I don’t think anybody is allergic to debating the merits of gun ownership. The facts are certainly in favor of free gun ownership.

    What I’m allergic to is arguing with people with a deep seated irrational fear of guns because their dad never showed them how to use one, and who are in no danger whatsoever of opening their mind and changing positions. Especially on a gardening website.

  26. Charlie,

    but you appreciate that this is pretty much a “perception of permaculture specifically by people from the U.S.” problem? 95% of the global population probably won’t see any problem with this.

  27. While I agree that posting this article on a permaculture website is questionable, this can serve as food for thought.

    In a permaculture context, one can ask, “Would it be permissible to have guns in hand as a measure of defense against those who would (thoughtlessly) attempt to obliterate our society and culture?” Although the ideal in permaculture is to deal with the situation as “naturally” as possible (i.e., without the need for force), not everyone is or is willing to be so enlightened. Thus, there will always arise situations where the only solution is a properly placed bullet or knife.

    And the increase in food prices brought on by increased destruction of wild areas and increased cultivation of the earth’s soils – as well as the human desire for more and more wealth – may well result in an increase in situations in which guns are used frequently.

    For law-abiding citizens to be denied the right to possess firearms for personal protection – while criminals and other anti-social elements possess them regardless of whatever legislation is in force – does not hold any promise of serendipity. This has been proven with scientific rigor time and time again.

    To make it short, either everyone has guns or no one has guns.

  28. P.S. : To reinforce my opening sentence, I agree with Caleb. Perhaps this article should be placed in a “miscellaneous articles” section or something. I do not see how this is part of permaculture’s core knowledge.

    At the very least one should read the above article only after developing a solid permaculture background ^o^

  29. This comment thread is fascinating. It reminds me of the chorus of a song: “U can’t touch this”. Some things just should not be discussed, apparently.

    I couldn’t disagree more….

    When you look at a ‘blank canvas’ piece of land, the first thing you have to do, after some good time spent in thoughtful observation, is to design the mainframe elements – water, access, structures. Get these right, and subsequent elements and their functions will work most effectively and efficiently. Get them wrong, and, well, you’ll exert a great deal more energy to get the same result.

    To say that permaculturists should not discuss poltical, social, economic issues is like saying we should forget the mainframe design of society – forget about invisible structures.

    Do we not realise that the mainframe design (or lack of) in our present societies are causing us, as permaculturists, to consume mammoth amounts of energy and time to acheive very little of merit?

    What if we redesigned our political/economic/social structures to incentivise and incubate and nurture sustainability?

    I’m sure most of you would complain about laws that effectively make sustainability illegal – like laws against composting toilets or hanging your washing out in the noon-day sun, etc. These are clear examples of problems with our present ‘mainframe design’. Indeed, most of the time it is designed to incubate and incentivise the very worst ‘elements’ and ‘functions’ in society, giving the very worst results (industrial agriculture, consumer driven boom and bust economy-must-grow economics, and a society that glorifies all the wrong things – like muscled hollywood heroes, violence, hedonism, and, yes, guns).

    I find it sadly amusing that people in this thread are so quick to put this topic into a box and shut the lid. Apparently it’s a ‘political issue’ that should not be discussed. Give me a break. The article asks some good questions, and provides some valuable food for thought, and brings out principles of thought that can be applied to other topics also.

    If you believe this site is just a ‘gardening website’, then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. This site is where people are discussing all the ‘elements’ needed to create a harmonious, healthy and permanent culture. If you can’t see the need for a systemic change to our societies’ mainframe designs, then perhaps you would be better contributing to just a ‘gardening website’. To say it’s off limits to discuss if 100 gun deaths per day could be eliminated or reduced is just plain playing into the hands of corporate interests. I think most of the people, at least those outside the U.S., would prefer to ponder the principles involved and see what they can learn from it. I almost get the feeling that people in the U.S. have been so well trained to ‘just get on with it’ (get on with the consumer life) and leave politics, economics, etc., all to the hands of specialists. Don’t ask any questions. And whatever you do, don’t think.

    It was nice to see another reader ‘get it’. See the 2nd last paragraph of Sam’s comment here:

    Craig has said it over and over again that the system and design that we live in deeply influences our way of life despite our best intentions. Like a dug out irrigation channel directs the flow of watter. If we want to change we have to expend some energy to change that channel then switch back to lower energy when we’re happy with the direction. So giving up is only a perception of our current situation and lack of energy to fix it. If some people’s lives seem similar that is because the design around them is similar and therefore if that design is changed then lives will be changed.

    Oh, and it is not true that Geoff and Bill say never to discuss politics. Indeed, permies should be getting more involved:

    https://www.permaculturenews.org/2010/04/09/permaculture-groups-and-government-influence/

    Even if Bill and Geoff did say that, I’d still disagree. The moment you take the word of ‘Bill and Geoff’ as being the last one – like infallable statements from a higher being – then you make permaculture into a cult, not a progressive movement seeking broadscale social change.

    P.S. With the exception of Thomas, who isn’t complaining about the post, hands up all who’ve contributed an article to this website?

    Please submit the kind of articles you’d like to see in the world…. We even go so far as to pay you for it:

    https://www.permaculturenews.org/2010/08/18/get-paid-to-share-your-permaculture-passion-with-the-world/

  30. Ok Craig. We’re getting impatient though. Can the PRI hurry up and finish releasing all your positions papers? Why not go ahead and settle the religion question for us, too? That’s gotta be a big influence on resource use. What about sex practices? Abortion? And while you’re alienating 95% of your former audience, could you also tell us whether toilet paper should unroll overhand or underhand?

    Permaculture is ecological design science of landscapes. At least that’s the useful part to me. I would never suggest anyone read “permaculture” writings for ethical or political insight. There are far better sources of thought on those topics elsewhere.

    Turn your website into yet another ‘progressive’ political forum if you want; I’m sure the wisely apolitical permies.com will appreciate the new traffic.

  31. Opinions are like anuses most people have at least one. You can take numbers out of context to population and say anything you want just to slant things any way you want to. Politicians have been doing it for years to justify raking their constituents over the coals. I was reading a medical journal study on one thing or another with a big announcement that this thing or that thing was toxic. Just reading how they did the study showed that they had slanted their study to make it support their hypothesis instead of letting the facts be objectively analyzed. Stop mucking with politics and stick to agriculture/permaculture.

  32. Wow, this author is quite clueless as to history, the law, and the causes undergirding the things he comments on. If you’re going to venture into politics this is not the way to do it.

    The raw US statistics don’t even tell half the story. Most of the gun crime and killings are drug and gang related. The root cause of those deaths isn’t related to our possession of guns but to our political system and the so called war on drugs. Why does the US lock up more people than any other country now or likely in history? Why do so many people kill people?

    If you want to talk politics dig into that gold mine instead. In the mean time the farmers and regular Joe’s in the US will keep using guns like any other tool, whether it be for hunting or self defense and will ignore permaculturists bringing such ill informed diatribes.

  33. If permaculture wants to make great inroads in the US you are going to need to come to realize that tying yourself to progressives like Partridge is not the way to do it. The truth is usually found somewhere in between the two extremes and both liberals and conservatives in the US are beset and boondoggled by the same forces. The people that speak the truth most powerfully are those who cross the line and speak equally well to the concerns and beliefs of those on both sides of the left-right divide while showing how they’ve both been fleeced and pitted against one another.

    But getting tied up in silly, childish, ill-informed arguments over left-right wedge issues is the way to guarantee permaculture will be pigeon holed and marginalized as a fad among one folks on one side of the divide only. To heal you must bring both sides together.

  34. This issue, like many other “contemporary moral issues” is best avoided. The energy spent attempting to influence policy and opinions on this subject could be better spent in another location.

    This issue arises out of broader issues and we would find ourselves better off dealing with the root causes.

    I think my disappointment in seeing this article here stems from the fact that I am seeking knowledge and techniques to identify and deal with those root causes. This only serves to dilute that pursuit.

  35. Let’s keep in mind that our current post-modern society arose ultimately from agrarian ones. I can understand the need for a farmer to use armed force to prevent the theft of his harvest and/or the confiscation of his land. Same thing with gangs and drug cartels. Gangs use armed force to protect their territories – and the benefits provided the same. Drug cartels use armed force to protect their market shares (i.e., production and/or distribution networks). This is not unlike lions killing cheetahs and leopards to reduce competition for food.

    I believe the concept of private property arose with the advent of agriculture. And, by extension, the need to protect that which is claimed as such.

    Permaculture is important in that it can help reverse some of the symptoms generated by the current global social régime.

  36. There is one word that destroys the entire warped argument of anti-gun and therefore anti-life radicals: democide ( Death by government – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide )

    The whole premise of their argument can only be described as radical, because they always miss the key issue, which is governments ( politicians ) having their guns controlled first! They are happy to ignore the 262 million killed by governments in the last 100 years, and point out all the skewed statistics and cliche reasons as to why its a good idea for mankind to be killed by psychopaths even quicker. This author is so hypocritical I don’t even know where to start, e.g. Many shootings were stopped because someone had a gun! But because he lives in a false paradigm of cliches, he can never actually know what ‘critical thinking’ and ’empathy’ is, e.g. see key point about democide

    This topic does have a place in permanent culture, but if you want to destroy culture and any semblance of freedom, just keep gun ownership in the hands of politicians. Jbob has it right, either you have a right to life or you don’t, and if you don’t believe you do, a mental institution should be your next destination, because why would you rather trust a psychopathic dictator then your own neighbour

    Ill give this to the author, at least he has touched on what I think is one of the leading causes, those who stand to gain from engineering a society of violence, drug use and outright control and extraction of all our energies. There are extremists who have controlled and manipulated mankind for centuries, and until we stop being cowardly and examine the true causes and do something about it, we will always spout ridiculous cliches and absurd dribble that gets us nowhere. Hint: the answers are controversial and conspiratorial!

  37. Ok Craig. We’re getting impatient though. Can the PRI hurry up and finish releasing all your positions papers? Why not go ahead and settle the religion question for us, too? That’s gotta be a big influence on resource use. What about sex practices? Abortion? And while you’re alienating 95% of your former audience, could you also tell us whether toilet paper should unroll overhand or underhand? — JBob

    JBob – the PRI won’t be putting up ‘position papers’. But, we will continue to allow contributors to post articles that are in alignment with the three permaculture ethics (i.e. they’re about how we can better the world we live in and our lives within it).

    I’ve requested multiple times for you to post articles yourself. I’d be particularly interested, as mentioned before, in hearing your outline of what would transpire (how it would all pan/play out) if we were to move to the particular libertarian political scenario you subscribe to. What are your projections for what the world would look like in 2, 5, 10, 20 years time from now? This would be most interesting and helpful, so then we can properly discuss your views. This is preferable to you just dropping negative comments everywhere, and when you run out of argument just stopping and popping up on another thread to start it all over again.

    Again, the site is here for discussion. You don’t have to agree with everything on it. I don’t agree with everything on it. But people here have a right to express their views, and such articles are here so we can discuss, learn, and potentially change/re-design things for the better. Often commenters can help shape the thoughts of the writers as well. It happens often to me when I post my own articles.

    Too many seem to think that we should only be talking about redesigning our gardens, not recognising that if we stop there, we might as well not bother at all. Revolution will sooner or later stomp all over your back-yard labours. Again, mainframe design is essential.

    To others – I suspect many of you have read this article with preconceived notions about it in your heads, or you haven’t read it all, or at all. The article doesn’t say there should be no guns, or that nobody should have them. (In certain circumstances I would probably have one also – like living in the woods in Alaska, or similar.) The article instead talks about where to draw the line – who should be allowed to own one, and who should not. We wouldn’t want a five year old being able to buy a gun, and in the same vein there are many other people who should not own one. And, significantly, where should the line be drawn about what kind of weapons are allowed? If ‘anything goes’, then everyone could have one of these. (It’d give a whole new meaning to ‘drive by shooting’.)

    If we don’t want everyone to have one of those monsters, then lines need to be drawn. i.e. we need regulations. JBob subscribes to complete deregulation, but having a court system to settle disputes. The problem is that if person X flips out and kills person Y, then person Y is not exactly capable of suing person X. This is where it necessarily gets political, in that I’m sure person Y would have preferred better preventative measures being in place.

    The article is about ‘People Care’, and how members of society can be protected from other members of society. It seems to me that to give free or very easy access to just about anyone to pretty much any kind of weapon then we’re negligent as a society. By our inaction (and our refusing to discuss this) we’re effectively accomplices to the 100 daily gun deaths. We have to sit driving tests before we can get a driving licence for similar reasons. A completely unregulated society would see us scared to go out into traffic.

    I think Ernest’s article gives a lot of food for thought.

  38. Wouldn’t the call to confiscate firearms and forcibly restrict which ones we might be allowed to own be the ‘negative’ comment? Protecting the right to defend oneself seems pretty darn ‘positive’ to me.

  39. I am a little scared as to how many people seem to think that permaculture is a systemic system that deals solely with agri-culture and not culture in general. As Craig and one or two other people have said, surely permaculture is about systemic thought/ design of the whole system. Redesigning how we interact with natural systems will only get us so far if the cultural systems, stop us (ie. compost toilets being illegal in most countries) every step of the way. So there is as much need to question our cultural assumptions to help us to move towards a better future, as to question the agri-cultural assumptions. So basically I believe that this is actually a very permaculture article. Especially as (or even because) it doesn’t give a conclusion of what we should do, it just tries to debunk certain myths that surround an issue and tries to get us to think a little more about the issue.
    I guess how ever the problem that so many commentators here have is that we either do or don’t live in the states. I think for a very large percentage of people who aren’t from America the point is moot. We don’t feel that it is the Right of every living breathing human being to have a fire arm. It hasn’t been forced down our throats every breathing second of our lives, in fact we feel that the touchyness of Americans is if any thing a little funny, and childish. How ever we don’t live in the States and generally don’t know what it is like to live in a culture where everyone does have a gun (I originally come from the UK where even cops don’t normally carry guns, so going to a country where you see Police on the streets carrying guns can actually be very threatening) I am amazed when asking (as I often do) American friends if they or family have a gun. The answer is always that at the very least that there family has a gun. Ask a European the same question and you don’t get the same answer, they are no where as prevalent. Part of the reason that Americans always give me as to why there parents have a gun is ‘what happens if some one breaks into there house and attacks them and they have a gun…….’ It’s kind of like the M.A.D. theory of nuclear weapons, they have them so I need them, its a never ending spiral. So its no wonder that they feel so strongly that the government shouldn’t stop them having a fire arm when, they are sure there is some one waiting out side there window just waiting for the day so they can start robbing, because as has been said government control will only take them from law abiding citizens. (Is it just me or can any one else see the connections with the Mcarthy era of witch hunts in this thinking!) Not that any one has even remotely suggested depriving them of fire arms all together I think at the strongest people are saying they should be restricted and there should be safeguards, like we have for driving etc.
    One more thing I have to add before I end my waffle ;) One of my American friends pointed, out to me many years ago and some one talked about it in passing. The whole reason why Americans have a right to bear arms is solely to form militias to counter and keep in check there governments. I think we can fairly say that this isn’t going to happen, there are people out there I am sure who believe that they could stand up to the American government, and yes to be honest the Iraqi people are doing a pretty good job to be honest (oooh he didn’t!) But the right wasn’t made so rednecks could go out into the desert and just fire off round after round. I don’t believe that the right was meant to mean that every American should just have guns, it was meant to be a check and balance system, which it isn’t so I think that they don’t deserve the right any longer, sorry

    Oh yeah and ps. if you don’t believe America has a high rate of gun crime, then like most Europeans you don’t have any need to own on!

  40. Wow. This website really disappoints me in their political distractions. There is nothing more positive than being able to defend yourself, and the proposed solution to allow a monopoly of people with guns(the government) to take guns away from everyone else seems a bit out of touch with reality. There is permacultural about this article.

  41. I debated whether to comment on this and then decided yes I should,
    it does not matter what my or your opinion on gun control is, the only thing that matters in this instance, is this appropriate for this website, there are those that are for and those that are against this topic, My opinion is that this is like a bunch of lifers showing up at a Boy scout rally with fetus dolls screaming abortion is murder. I believe that if you took a poll most people show up here for a very narrow purpose (living with nature)yes some politics does get thrown in (it is illegal to use grey water in Colorado we need to change this)but those topics are closely related to what they come here to learn about. So like my grandpa use to say there are certain topics best not discussed (gun control, abortion, Republican Vs Democrat, and who is sleeping with who). And before the free speecher’s start, remember this, this website is owned by someone else and we are granted the privilege of posting here, or in simple terms we are invited to a party at someone’s house they decide what is or is not appropriate conversation and if we don’t like it we can leave.

  42. I need to add to what I wrote and clarify something, to the author of this article I realized after I made my post that it was very insulting to you comparing you to rabid lifers, that was not my intent and in fact even tho I dont agree with everything you wrote it is a very well written article. Now to clarify something every topic has three points of view, the left, the right, and the majority in the middle. Since this topic is gun control I will use it, the far left confiscate all guns the are evil with out them we would have utopia, the far right my right dont touch repeal all gun laws because if every one had a gun crime would go down, then the middle a nice mix of could care less about owning a gun but if you want one fine by me and the collectors that enjoy shooting them. Those of us in the middle don’t have a problem with background checks or special permits for certain things such as select fire weapons, but we do have a problem with the extremes, With Columbine a law was created that outlawed firearms at schools, when the Georgia School shooting occurred teachers that could not used there concealed carry permits a retired state Trooper that was teaching at the school all had to watch a slaughter because of ill thought out law that forbid law abiding citizens from protecting themselves and others,ATF agents that act like thugs because we have a restricted weapons or being demonized by anti-gunners. Because of these extremes the topic has become very touchy to many, if you bring up gun control those of us in the middle who are law abiding citizens that just want to be left alone tend to lump you with the fanatics and say this is not an appropriate topic get it out or here. Maybe there are those that are right and it should be discussed here in a calm and rational manner without any fanaticism.

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