27 thoughts on “Some Public Policy Would be Useful

  1. CoRev

    This latest shooting appears to be Islamic terror related, as was several of the others in the sourced article. The biggest cause apparently is from mental illness. Both areas are seriously weak in funding and policy initiatives.

    Is that what you meant?

    1. Rick Stryker


      Menzie doesn’t know what he means. Of all the issues he’s confused on, he’s most confused on gun control. Case in point: somehow he twisted my linked statement into the ludicrous assertion that the way to stop mass shootings is to have everyone join the NRA. In that linked comment, I was responding to another reader’s naive longing for a world in which guns are not glorified, especially for children. That would be nice if we could live in such a utopia but if we wanted to get there, we could start by asking all the progressive producers, directors, and actors in Hollywood to stop making millions glorifying guns and violence on the movie set while denouncing them off the set. Is that going to happen? Are we going to outlaw shootemup video games?

      My suggestion was more practical. The NRA de-mystifies and de-glorifies guns for kids. It teaches them that guns are dangerous and must be handled safely. They learn that having a gun isn’t cool. Guns are used for specific purposes and must be handled with the utmost responsibility.

      I’ve asked Menzie many times what his preferred policy is on gun control. I never get an answer so I must assume he doesn’t know.

      1. Robert Hurley

        Common thread in these cases seems to easy access to guns especially high capacity guns. Since we cannot id all potential killers but we can restrict high capacity weapons I think the answer is simple. Why not make it more difficult for people to get these weapons. Canada seems to able to do it.

        1. CoRev

          Robert, how does limiting ?high capacity? guns even help the problem of mass shootings? Just what is a ?high capacity? gun? How would limiting a ?high capacity? gun stop a terrorist from mass killings? If it reduced the number of deaths from a single incident, what number is appropriate? You have a solution looking for a problem.

          The common thread in these cases is not the gun, but clearly is the mentally disturbed and terrorist gun users.

        2. Rick Stryker


          I don’t think it’s a simple matter of the availability of high capacity guns. The current shooting was certainly pre-meditated and likely either related to or part of a planned terrorist attack. The shooters had tons of ammunition, many bombs, and bomb making materials. It seems that they had much bigger plans but were preemptively stopped by the police.

          France has very strict gun control, but that didn’t prevent the attackers from obtaining assault rifles and bombs. Despite the strict gun control in France, there are places around Paris that you just don’t venture into. Even the police won’t go to those areas, because they will be shot at. California has the strictest gun control in the US. The Norwegian mass shooter bought his guns legally in Norway, which has stricter gun control than the US. More gun control in America will not prevent what happened in California.

          It’s very possible to commit a mass shooting with very limited firepower. A good example is the case of Derrick Bird who killed 12 and wounded 11 people in 2010 in England. Bird had a double barrel shotgun and a bolt action .22 rifle.

        3. Bob

          Seems they had easy access to pipe bombs too. Those lax CA gun and pipe bomb laws…..yea, that’s the problem.

          When existing gun laws aren’t enforced (the government rarely prosecutes those who fail gun background checks or those caught with illegal guns), the result is easy access to guns. If liberals (and their comrades in the media) focused more on ‘why the government refuses to enforce existing gun laws’ and on homegrown Islamic terrorists instead of deionizing law abiding gun owners, we might make some progress. But alas, liberals are more interested in demonizing conservatives than in real solutions to the illegal gun problem.

          How many innocent blacks were slaughtered in Chicago today? Last week? Last year? And never a peep from Obama, the apparent leader of the black lives DON’T matter crowd.

  2. PeakTrader

    If someone wants to kill as many people as possible, they’ll find a way, including smuggling guns or buying them on the black market.

    They seem to prefer soft targets. More gun laws haven’t solved the problem.

      1. PeakTrader

        Robert, if you outlaw guns, then only criminals will have them.

        Private citizens in this country have the right to defend themselves.

        Guns saved many private citizens from criminals and reduced mass murders, in this country, which you rarely hear from the mainstream media.

  3. Nathan

    Menzie, what do you really want to happen here? California makes it as hard as possible to acquire “assault weapons”, and yet some if not all of firearms used in the attack were legally purchased. Are you asking for a change to the US Constitution? More extensive background checks?

    If the latter, what factor(s) in this particular case would have prevented the perpetrators from owning the weapon?

    I feel like in this case and Sandy Hook the practical effects of gun control are zero unless you are talking about eliminating the second amendment.

    1. c thomson

      Nathan is of course correct but the implications are so awkward that his point has to be ignored by Prof Chinn and others.

      ‘Just do something and see if it works’ is what they offer. Bit like the war on drugs?

      Plus the French have had more mass killings this year than the US and guns are tightly controlled in France.

  4. Jason

    Fewer guns correlates with fewer deaths and injuries across the world and within the US. This is a tough fact for many to fit into their worldview so they ignore it. But it’s really the most important single fact in this debate. Ignoring it is a sign of foolishness.

    1. PeakTrader

      Jason, that’s not true. The U.S. has remarkably few homicides per 100,000 people, given how many guns there are per 100,000 people in the U.S. compared to other countries.

      Although, more guns like more cars kill people, guns in the U.S. work as a deterrent.

    2. Kirk

      Rural America generally has higher amounts of guns and lower crime rates than cities. Seems to go contrary to your thesis…

  5. uber_snotling


    The U.S. has a far higher firearm-related homicide rate per capita than any other developed nation, although it is only 3.55 deaths per 100,000 people for 2013. To put that in context, motor vehicle deaths are ~11.4 per 100,000 and the total death rate is 810 per 100,000.

    That said, the US suicide rate with firearms is almost twice that of homicides and most people don’t need an assault rifle to commit suicide.

    1. PeakTrader

      The U.S. has far more guns per capita, 112 per 100, than any other country.

      Yet, there are many countries with higher firearm related death rates, which include suicides.


      If criminals can have assault rifles, why not non-criminals?

      It should be noted, blacks commit over 50% of the homicides and Hispanics commit many more homicides than whites.

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        PeakTrader: Not sure where you get your statistics. For 2013, DoJ/FBI stats indicate 2755 homicides by whites, 2689 by blacks. Homicides by Hispanics counted at 621, which is not (in my world of mathematics at least — maybe you’re using the arithmetic equivalent of Boolean geometry?) a majority.

        1. PeakTrader

          Menzie Chinn, according to Race and Crime in the U.S. – Wikipedia:

          “The UCR classifies most Hispanics into the “white” category. The NCVS classifies some Hispanic criminals as “white” and some as “other race”. The victim categories for the NCVS are more distinct.

          …a study of government data from 1980–2008 found that the reduction in Black violent crime relative to White violent crime was an artifact of those previous studies, which was due to Hispanic offenders being counted as White in the comparison. The Hispanic population has been increasing rapidly and Hispanics have violence rates higher than that of Whites but lower than that of Blacks.”

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Peak Trader: Are you trying to tell me that the murder White count of 2755 vs. the Hispanic count of 621 in 2013 can be overturned by measurement error?????? Are you serious? In other words, are you asserting that out of the total of something like 3400 observations, something like 2100 observations are in error? If so, I would like to know (1) what textbook you used to study statistics so I can warn my students to keep away from it, and/or (2) what you have been smoking.

          2. PeakTrader

            Menzie Chinn, I wasn’t clear about homicide rates. If Hispanic homicides are under-counted and white, and “other,” homicides are over-counted, then the Hispanic homicide rate is actually higher, and perhaps higher or much higher than the white homicide rate.

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