David, I’ll address the issues you’ve raised separately, as each one is somewhat of a separate issue.
Coming at this from an American perspective, which is what I understand, and have observed we can look at the discussion of Gun Control.
It is a topic I am passionate about, as I’ve been affected by this myself. I live in Oslo, which was subject to one of the worst terrorist attacks in modern European history in 2011, when right wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik bombed downtown Oslo and continued to massacre youth at the Island of Utøya with a semi-automatic, killing a total of 85 people and injuring hundreds.
I remember walking downtown the day after with my young son and wife. Shards of glass everywhere. The shock waves from the blast actually blew through several buildings in large radius, knocking out the windows.
I was member of AUF, the youth organization for the Norwegian Labour party, and spent a summer on Utøya, where Anders Behring Breivik tried to massacre the whole youth organization. It is a tiny Island in the Oslo fjord.
So naturally it has been very much on my mind how anything like this happened in Norway, which tends to be very low on violence. He killed more people in one incident than get killed in a whole year all over the country.
We are quite fond of guns in Norway. There is a long tradition for hunting, and shooting in sports like Biathlon. We have a similar system to Switzerland, where assault rifles are kept at home, by part of the population. Yet guns are quite strictly regulated. The terrorist Anders Behring Breivik did not like these laws at all, as it is a time consuming process to acquire a gun. So instead he went to eastern Europe to try to obtain gun on the black market. He had to give up. It is simply not as easy as people claim.
He was forced to go through gun training at a club in Norway to obtain a license. But he was a patient and dedicated man. Still it seemed like we had been able to thwart him, because high capacity magazines are not legal in Norway.
But there was a loophole, Norwegian authorities missed. In 2004, the American assault rifle ban expired. It banned high capacity magazines. That was Breivik’s chance to carry out his mass murder. He obtained high capacity magazines from the US fully legally. Combined with a regular semi-automatic rifle that became his instrument of mass murder.
This brings me to an important point about lax American gun laws. You guys always talk about it as if it is an issue affecting only Americans. You talk about “your” rights. What about our rights? Do you know how much American guns are flowing out of your country due to your poor gun control? Over 60% of the guns used by criminals in Canada are obtained from the US.
Did you know that most of the guns the Mexican cartels use in their drug wars are from the US?
I have written about American gun regulation many times. As I’ve pointed out in “The Criminals Get Guns Anyway”, there are no manufacturer, making guns for the black market. The guns used by criminals in the US, Mexico and Canada have been made and sold legally to a buyer in the US.
The Gun Rights Advocates will often bring out reputable studies which show that around 88% of all firearms crimes are committed with illegal firearms. Of the remaining 18%, this represents less than 1% of legal firearms owners.
When laws are as weak as in the US, the legal gun market is like a leaky bucket into the illegal market. Your laws are simply reckless and irresponsible in my humble opinion. Toys are frequently subject to stricter regulation than guns in America. With a car you need get a license. You need to do training and demonstrate ability to handle the gun safely. In Norway we require this. But in the US, requiring something that basic is apparently to stomp your inalienable rights.
There is also proof that firearms are used around 2 million times a year to prevent crime; for example a woman is about to get raped, she pulls a gun and the would-be-rapist decides that he has somewhere else to be.
I’ve actually written a piece about the problem with this argument: Game Theory and Gun Violence. Criminals are not stupid, if they know you are likely armed, they will get even better armed. All you got yourself is an arms race nobody can really win.
And that does not even take into account the injustice you hear of in some countries where a house is broken into, the Home Owner feels threatened, defends themselves with a bat or knife and is arrested, because one does not have the right to defend one’s life or family. That is the duty of the Police.
Few countries are like that. I suppose places like FOX News like to present it that way. In Norway violence in home break-ins is exceedingly rare. A burglar will more likely run away. It is rare for them to carry guns, as guns are hard to obtain and getting caught with one while doing crime will get you a lot heavier prison sentence. There is also no point for a burglar. The home owner is unlikely to have a gun, and so you don’t need a gun to protect yourself if you are a criminal. Remember criminals are humans too. They also care about their own safety.
Castle laws like you have in many American states are also highly problematic. I believe there was a Norwegian student who got shot for ringing a doorbell to ask for directions. The owner walked because castle laws are too protective of property owners. Combined with the no-knock practice of American police it is an utter disaster. Police knock down your door in the middle of the night. What is a home owner to think? He shots at what he thinks is a home invasion.
The problem with the argument that guns protect civilians is that high gun ownership adversely affect the behavior of cops. American cops are more than 100 times likely to shoot a civilian dead than in the UK. You are more likely to be shot by cops in a small town in America than a metropolis like London. No matter how you look at this, something is amiss in America. Either high gun ownership is causing this, or American cops are trigger happy maniacs.
No matter how much evidence is presented the average Gun Control Advocate will simply ignore the facts and double down on their position. They simply claim that you don’t care about people dying, and shut down the conversation. I have personally seen this.
But that is exactly how I view gun advocates. I can understand your frustration with gun control advocates who primarily try to guilt trip you into their view. However don’t be blind to the lack of rational at your side of the fence.
I almost never get a straight answer to why one cannot have sensible gun regulation in the US. I’ve outlines some rules here, and why I believe the 2nd amendment is fundamentally misunderstood.
I believe the evidence is firmly on the side of the gun control advocates. Look at this piece from New York Times e.g.
Rather, they found, in data that has since been repeatedly confirmed, that American crime is simply more lethal. A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.
They concluded that the discrepancy, like so many other anomalies of American violence, came down to guns.
You can pick any two comparable countries and the one with more guns will typically have more gun violence. We see the pattern repeated all over. European countries with more liberal gun laws, tend to have more shootings.
Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people — a distinction Mr. Lankford urged to avoid outliers. Yemen has the world’s second-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States.
I find when discussing guns with gun advocates, that they have zero trust in liberals and their agenda. There is a severe breakdown in trust. If a liberal says “I want to regulate gun ownership,” I conservative seems to hear “I want to take away all our guns.” They view it as a slippery slope towards a full ban.
But why believe this. A lot of countries far more liberal than the US, still maintain quite high levels of gun ownership, such as many Nordic countries.