Gundamentalism January 9, 2016

I shared the above image with the following comment from me:

I continue to hear from people who don't think America has a problem. One common suggestion from Christian gun lovers is that this is not a gun problem but a sin problem. That must mean that Americans are worse sinners than other democratic, economically developed nations. And I can believe that – because loving firearms is one of our national sins.

Another commenter introduced the word “gundamentalists” and I thought it deserved to be shared. It seems like a perfect term to demote those who stick adamantly to their faith in guns in spite of evidence that ought to undermine their worldview, if they were approaching the matter rationally.


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  • “That must mean that Americans are worse sinners than other democratic,
    economically developed nations.”

    -It appears so.

    “And I can believe that – because loving
    firearms is one of our national sins.”

    -Saying something doesn’t make it true.

    And most of those gun deaths were suicides.

    • Upvoted for “most of those gun deaths were suicides.” Although mass killings get the most publicity, the vast majority of gun-related deaths are self-inflicted.

      The most effective way to reduce gun deaths would be to put more resources into suicide prevention and treatment for depression.

      • David Evans

        This is going to sound harsh, but I feel that a suicide is not necessarily as tragic as the death of someone with a happy life and no intention of dying. Some of those who commit suicide have good reasons for doing so. Preventing them would reduce gun deaths but might not be the best way of reducing the suffering caused by guns.

        • jjramsey
          • David Evans

            I did say “some” and “not necessarily”. There are other cases, of people with incurable, painful diseases where they and their loved ones agreed death was the best option.

    • Yes most are suicides in recent years, about 61% (which is bad enough). But the remaining percentage that are not suicides is still incredibly high, especially when you compare the U.S. to other developed nations in the world.

        • If you are trying to argue that gun violence affects African Americans disproportionately, you can use much clearer statistics than the weak correlations in the article you have cited. Here are much more definitive statistics:

          But the impact of our high rate of firearm deaths is hardly lessened by the fact that black Americans are roughly twice as likely to die from firearms than white Americans.

          There are also statistics showing a high correlation between poverty and gun deaths.

          Of course, if you leave the poor and the minorities out of your statistics, you could argue that America has fewer of all sorts of problems. Wash your hands and walk away.

          • Now that’s just a blatant lie. An R-squared of .5987 is not a weak correlation by anyone’s measure.

            There are also statistics showing a high correlation between poverty and gun deaths.


            Of course, if you leave the poor and the minorities out of your
            statistics, you could argue that America has fewer of all sorts of

            -Indeed. And you’re referring to non-Asian minorities here. Do Asians exist?

          • Bless your heart, do you always default to “liar!” when you see better data? Whether or not you really understand the nuances of correlation coefficients (I rather doubt it), the study you referenced is weaker by comparison to a study that cites the actual number of gun deaths by race, rather than simply correlating gun deaths and population statistics.

            It’s like trying to show that children eat a lot of candy with a study that “candy sales are highest in states with lots of children” while there are already studies directly showing that “children eat statistically more candy than adults”.

            You’re the one who brought up statistics about black Americans. Do YOU think Asians exist? or Native Americans? or Sudanese? Any other pointless questions you’d like to ask?

          • Michael Wilson

            So you don’t disagree with what Harding is trying to argue, you just suggest a clearer study.

            I think that fact, and the facts regarding poverty and gun murder, are significant here because it suggest that love of guns is not the problem, but the poor morals, or sin, of the poor. I have read, and you and Harding can fact check for me, that when you adjust for poverty bkack and white homicide rates are not much different, and especially between whites and blacks of southern descent, that is to say from families with a tradition of living in the south. The thought is that southern society unlike the puritan Yankee north put a high value on defending ones honor, even with deady force. It is that moral distinction that accounts for so much of the difference in gun murder. This, I think explains why gun murder rates are so much lower in western states like Montana and Wyoming which have very high gun ownership rates. The settlers there were not particularly southern, black or white.

            Further, and I think Dr. McGrath and other progressives should deeply consider this, arguments aimed at shaming “gundamentalist” about supposed evidence that should undermine their world view. For most gun owners in America gun violence is not a problem in their community. It is primary a problem of the poor and especially the black community. If DeGras Tyson only had casualties from spree shooters in his statistics the number of gun deaths would be insignificant compared to the other causes of death. While people that don’t own guns, don’t enjoy gun sports, may think any death from the use a gun is intolerable, for the half of America that owns a gun those rare incidents don’t warrant taking their gun which has a virtually zero chance of being used in a spree killing. Did even the Norwegians close the hunting clubs after that neo-nazies rampage? At some point the happiness that millions derive from gun sports out weighs the occasional tragedy, no matter is extremity of a comparative few. And again it is the maniac that is the ultimate agent of the tragedy.

            And of course many own guns to protect themselves from the murderers in their midst.

            We should demand more accountability, more enforcement of laws to prevent guns from being diverted to criminals. The President’s executive order helps, but only insignificantly.

          • What point do you think Harding is trying to make by correlating race and gun violence?

            My point is that we have a problem with gun violence in this country no matter how it is correlated with race. I rather doubt that is the point Harding is making.

            There is no evidence that gun ownership prevents gun violence. You might consider the substantially lower rates of gun violence in developed nations with stricter gun controls:


          • Michael Wilson

            I did not say the rate was lower because of guns, only that their high gun ownership does not correlate to high gun murder, so it is not true that more guns mean more gun murder. It depends on who owns them.

            Harding’s point, if I might be so bold as to speak for him, is the it is not surprising that the U.S. has more gun murder than other developed nations, we have a greater share of people that think killing is ok, not that owning guns is ok, and that attitude is disproportionate among a cornerstone of America’s liberal coalition, African Americans. Liberals need to pull the plank from their own eye before hectoring conservatives about the speck in theirs.

          • Gun control doesn’t necessarily mean fewer guns; it means tracking gun ownership, requiring licensing (and in some cases, training) for gun owners, and restricting gun ownership for those with criminal records, mental handicaps, and non citizens. I personally can’t understand why we can require testing and licensing to use a car in this country, but not a gun.

            There is clear evidence that nations with stricter gun control legislation have lower rates of gun violence.

            As usual, I find your basic argument bizarre. The problem with gun violence in this country is that “liberals” support African Americans and African Americans think “killing is ok”?! Really?!

            In what world does that make sense. Are you suggesting that liberals not support African Americans? Are you suggesting that conservatives don’t support African Americans? What exactly are you suggesting? Racism?

          • Michael Wilson

            “There is clear evidence that nations with stricter gun control legislation have lower rates of gun violence”

            Not all cases. It is not true then, that everyone would benefit from stricter laws.

            “As usual, I find your basic argument bizarre. The problem with gun violence in this country is that “liberals” support African Americans and African Americans think “killing is ok”?! Really?!”

            You misunderstand the argument. First, I said African Americans support liberals, not the other way around. Liberals don’t support blacks, they only think/say they do.

            Second, saying that blacks think killing is ok is a gross overstatement bordering on racism. It is bad character to let your judgemnt rush to simplifications like this. I’m appalled by the frequency liberals assume that discussions of crime and delinquency must mean “blacks” it communicates to blacks that criminality is a vital part of their society, and leads to the hero worship if petty criminals like the ones black lives matter rally around.

            Back to the point, most blacks probably don’t think murder is ok. a lot of them, as is the case everywhere, probably think it’s justified in a number of circumstances. But the fact is African Americans, about %20 of the population, commit about 50% of its murders. Again, I think that about correlates for their share if poverty, but still it says that while gun murder is a problem for white and black Americans(as it is for white and black; Canadians, Icelanders, Swedes, Japanese, etc) it is particulary a problem for blacks, even though their rate of gun ownership is half what it is for whites.

            If liberals want to reduce gun violence, they should spend less time mocking rednecks that are mot irresponsible using firearms and more on why liberals have so many killers in their midst.

          • Yes, Michael, your comments do not “border on racism”. They are racist comments.

            To say that liberals have a beam in their eye because “African Americans support liberals”, and African Americans “have a greater share of people that think killing is ok”, is frankly repugnant. Most political parties these days claim to support the African American community. To claim guilt by association is doubly racist, first by associating all African Americans with the small minority that commit crimes, second by imagining that African Americans are a group with which one must avoid association.

            Even if you were to ignore the disproportionate crime that exists in the African American community, white murder rates in the U.S. are still twice as high those in developed nations such as Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, and Japan.


            Are you just too dense to see how abhorrently racist your “killers in their midst” line is?! Liberals are have “killers in their midst” because there are black liberals?! Presumably there are no black republicans?

          • Michael Wilson

            Black Republicans have been forthright in challenging their communities to stand up to violence rather than blame others for it. Its not abhorrently racist, you’re just not very bright.

            Yes, I’m aware if the high statistics for white homicide in America. As I’ve addressed earlier, my argument is not that blacks = murder. That is the straw man you insist on arguing against.

            It may be repugnant to you but it is true. Blacks overwhelmingly support the liberal party and are much more likely to commit murder than other races, reflecting their greater poverty levels and southern heritage. Poor southern whites are just as problematic, but the aren’t as big a share of the American whole as poor southern blacks are if the black total. I don’t associate all African Americans with the few nor say they should be avoided. Again I don’t know why you keep saying that.

          • Sorry Michael, but this statement of yours is no strawman:

            “a greater share of people that think killing is ok, not that owning guns is ok, and that attitude is disproportionate among a cornerstone of America’s liberal coalition, African Americans. Liberals need to pull the plank from their own eye”

            You can’t arbitrarily backtrack by praising “black republicans”, while claiming that “liberals have so many killers in their midst”, simply by virtue of the fact that there are black liberals.

            Speaking of “not very bright” (as well as racist).

          • Michael Wilson

            Beau, it is a fact African Americans are several times more likely to commit murder than the U.S. population generally, as much as 7 times. Do you deny this? We can discuss the evidence if you want.

            Further Blacks support the Democratic party by a margin of 80-99%. That is a community that is much more likely to commit murder. I doubt that the pool of murders, their friends, their family, neighbors, who contribute to their world view, is limited to some fraction of a % that doesn’t support liberal politics.

          • Wow! You’re just going to continue this racist rant, aren’t you.

            Of course, the numbers of homicide perpetrators (as well as victims) is disproportionate among African Americans. Nor do I deny the large support for democrats by African Americans.

            But it is ignorant (and obviously racist) to compare these independent statistics as thought they bear any relation to each other. Do you have any idea the vast difference between a percentage of black voters, and a comparison of criminal probabilities?!

            Let me spell it out for you. African Americans may be 7 times more likely to commit homicide, but if you check the same government document from which these statistics are derived:


            You’ll see that the ACTUAL percentage of African Americans who commit homicide is about 0.034 percent of the African American population! In other words, there may be more black murderers, but they are still a TINY PERCENTAGE of the black population!

            Hardly comparable, much less relatable to the huge percentage of black voters who support Democrats. And considering the fact that virtually all of the murderers in the former statistic are in prison, virtually NONE of them are able to vote for Democrats!

            This is the trouble you get into when you stupidly try to juggle disparate probabilities to support your own racist propaganda.

          • Michael Wilson

            It is interesting that you are comfortable saying that America’s high rate of murder as compared to other developed nations is meaningful and says something is wrong with our society, but when the sane reasoning is applied to a particular subset of Americans, you don’t think a high rate of murder says anything about the community it occurs among.

            Do you think that murders like Dylan Roof or Tim McVeigh are just spontaneous aberrations with no connections to the company they kept and the values of communities that raised them? Do you suppose it is only coincidence that murder rates are so much higher among the poor?

            Our murder rate, I argue, is not coincidence but a product of our values that at the margins those values produce murder. If addressing those values are not necessary because only 0.034 of the population, then it is even less for the greater population.

            You can’t have it both ways, you can’t argue that America has a gun problem because of all its murders then say a group with even more murders per capita has no gun problem. Your resort to wild racism accusations and assertions of stupidity do not cover the logical flaws in your thinking. Ignoring the roots of violence does not make it go away and blaming guns and poverty is confounded by the knowledge that the correlation is in exact. It is more than guns and poverty that drives murder and those that cling to these explanations for Black murder rates are in effect denying that Blacks are as capable of self control than others.

          • Well, now you’re just throwing out new arguments. Of course we should deal with values and poverty in our society that lead to violence. I never said otherwise. Who would say otherwise? That’s just obvious strawmanning.

            Sorry, Michael, but you can’t say things like “Blacks overwhelmingly support the liberal party and are much more likely to commit murder than other races” and then claim “I don’t associate all African Americans with the few”. You just did. Anybody can see right through such nonsense.

            To associate liberals with murderers through the African American community as a whole, makes about as much a sense as saying that Black Churches are less moral than White Churches because there are more black murderers. It is possible to see and respond to all the factors that contribute to violence in a community (including poverty, values, and gun access), without demonizing the the community itself.

            But for the sake of argument, let me get this straight. Are you trying to draw the conclusion (based on the number of African Americans who are liberals) that liberals teach values that lead to murder?

          • Michael Wilson

            “You just did. Anybody can see right through such nonsense.”

            But I clearly didn’t, you just assume people that disagree with you on this issue are racist. You don’t know what racism is. Facts, such the ones you admit to being true here,

            “Of course, the numbers of homicide perpetrators (as well as victims) is disproportionate among African Americans. Nor do I deny the large support for democrats by African Americans.”

            Compare to my statement,

            “Blacks overwhelmingly support the liberal party and are much more likely to commit murder than other races”

            The same meaning, but you think your not racist because your not willing apply the same standards to blacks, which ironically is racist. But maybe its only supporters of your politics that get a pass, so maybe your only chauvinistic.

            But to answer your question, in a nut shell yes. Liberal ideology leads to more murder, and people that identify with the hell raisers of pop culture and its celebration of immediate gratification and machismo over sober living are creating the breeding ground of murder. When liberals say, no poor, it isn’t you, its someone else, someone else must change before you can be expected to rise.

            This ideology has been very seductive to the black community. While many push for their neighbors to take responsibilty, far too many scapegoat, a popular salve for the ignorant to bolster their sense of self worth, blaming people outside their experience. This what Trump provides for his followers, that every thing would be grand if it weren’t for dastardly foreigners. Democrats appeal to minority votes by propagating the idea that other whites are racist and conspiring to keep them down and only they can protect them.

          • I have no idea what standards you imagine I’m not willing to apply to blacks. I have no interest in arguing with your imagination. I do not blame any population (much less an entire race) for the few violent offenders in their midst. I blame the offenders.

            There may be things a population can do to lessen the numbers of violent offenders. Blaming the entire nation, community, or race is not one of those things. The only people to blame for murder are murderers.

            Immediate gratification and machismo are not liberal ideologies. Neither is the vague strawman notion that “someone else must change before you can be expected to rise.”

            And then you attribute such strawmen to the black community:

            “This ideology has been very seductive to the black community. While many push for their neighbors to take responsibility, far too many scapegoat, a popular salve for the ignorant to bolster their sense of self worth, blaming people outside their experience.”

            When we admit that America has a problem with homicide, it doesn’t mean that we impugn the morals of the vast majority of Americans. But that’s what you are doing to the black community – making sweeping accusations about what “has been very seductive to the black community” based on the tiny fraction of black murderers in prison.

            Michael, there are white and black murderers in prison. There may be proportionally more black than white, but both are a tiny fraction of the population as a whole. We can certainly try to address the violence, and look for special problems in communities where violence is disproportionate. But blaming communities is ugly, short-sighted, and solves nothing.

            Singling out blame to communities according to their race is more than ugly; it is racism.

          • Michael Wilson

            When it comes to crime, we all do our part and share blame, some more than others. Perhaps you disagree. This thread started with my critique of the notion that America’s gun violence problem is a result of the sin of America’s love of guns. Perhaps you disagree with that idea because only murders are to blame for murder, not guns, not people that oppose more restrictions on guns. ??

            Sorry, I did not mean to equate liberalism and low living. I should have clarified better. Liberal responsibility for crime is indirect, and people that are politically involed tend to be less violent citizens, if not necessarily more moral. My contention is crime in black communities is driven by those that subscribe to ideals of fast living and machismo, the same is the case among high crime white/latino communities. Liberal ideology allows subscribers of these world views to blame their problems on their “oppressors.” Of course many blacks do not subscribe to all the tenants of liberalism, and support democrats for personal or local self interest over ideology.

            Here is a relevant exchange between Director Spike Lee and leftist pundit Chris Hayes that mirrors our conversation.

            Now I’m sure Spike and I differ on many issues, but here he is attacked by a leftist for challenging problems within the black community. Perhaps Spike is a rascist, that he has learned to identify with his oppressors and shares their values, but I think he makes a good point and this exchange illustrates the problem American liberalism has run into, as you demonstrate, that talking about crime in black communities is racist. That it somehow paints all blacks as criminals. Hayes’ comments are the sort that lead me to think liberals are not properly addressing crime in America.

          • You are still caricaturing liberal ideology as a move to “blame their problems on their ‘oppressors'”. That is not liberal ideology. Nor can you caricature that as the ideology of most black Americans.

            I find it ironic that you reference an outspoken liberal, Spike Lee, as a voice against your strawman. Spike Lee is as liberal as they come, but you choose to paint liberals as the most extreme opinion in a conversation between liberals.

  • aar9n

    I am far from a gun nut; and I do think that we should have a complete background system, but I just haven’t seen strong evidence for either side of this.
    Yes, an ungodly amount of people die via firearms in this country. However, violent crime and firearm related deaths have been decreasing for several decades (if you believe some economists, that is due to the availability of family planning).
    Yes; cities with stricter gun laws have more gun violence; however not only does correlation not equal causation, it tends to be that these cities have higher rates of poverty which drive the crime level.
    There is no evidence that good guys with guns make everyone safer, but neither is there evidence that concealed carry makes these communities less safe.
    Most mass shooters use legally purchased guns; but most gun violence in general uses illegally procured weapons.
    Places like Australia, and the UK have robust gun laws that work; that’s primarily because they are an island; when we have replicated those laws in communities stateside they have not fared as well.
    There is no evidence that an assault weapon ban does anything.
    The one good thing about gun control is that despite is not being shown to decrease gun violence, it does decrease gun related suicides.

    Overall, it seems that though liberals tout stricter gun laws, and conservatives tout concealed carry, neither really has an impact.

    There is one main contributing factor to gun violence, however:


    • AliKat

      The reason we don’t have strong evidence either way makes me think that America’s gun fetish is too strong. In 1996, a bill was put forward that made it so the CDC couldn’t perform research on the causes of gun violence (because they couldn’t do anything that might be viewed as promoting gun control) or fund other researchers studying the topic, and later on this restriction was expanded further to the Department of Health and Human Services, in general.

      • aar9n

        Too true.

    • I don’t think you are correct that “most gun violence in general uses illegally procured weapons”, at least not in this country. There is no need to “illegally” procure weapons in the U.S., even if you’re a criminal. Buying a gun legally is as easy as falling off a log.

      • aar9n

        Excluding mass shootings (which account for a minority of gun violence) a very small amount of criminals actually purchase guns from a gun store. Most are bought from other people.

        • Well, yes, you have to exclude the mass shootings, because those are usually bought legally:

          And I don’t exclude them, because they have a huge effect on national morale.

          You would also have to exclude accidental deaths by gun, which, while substantially fewer than murders, still account for a much higher number than is found in other developed nations. Virtually all of those weapons are purchased legally.

          You would also have to exclude the huge number of suicides in this country committed with legally purchased guns. Suicides committed by gun almost always “work”, whereas suicides by other means usually fail. The vast majority of failed suicides do not make later attempts.

          Statistics are shakier on the legality of weapons purchased for crimes. It depends on what you mean by legal. This survey of prison inmates found that 40% were purchased illegally on the street, 10% were purchased legally by the criminal, and about 37% were obtained from family or friends (borrowed – as it were).

          You might think that background checks and licensing would have no effect on illegal guns or “borrowed” guns; but it is an important start for police being able to track down weapons and their use throughout the country, including tracking down those who sell them illegally, and those who “lend” guns, opening themselves to charges of accessory to murder.

          What many have proposed is that purchasing guns is made to be at least as difficult as getting a driver’s license. In other words, requiring safety training and passing tests.

          • Michael Wilson

            Whether you exclude or don’t exclude them, arr9n makes a valid point, that they are a tiny fraction of American gun violence (a tenth of one percent ) Important to remember when people talk about control to stop these particular events. Laws aimed at these crimes don’t consider 99.9% of gun murders. Is it a great achievement to reduce murder by .05%? So focusing on guns at point of legal sale ignores the many murders committed by illegal transfers, including giving/selling guns to a known fellon, perhaps friend or familly.

            I’d like to add that considering deaths from suicide and accidents aren’t likely to persuade people to seek greater gun control. Every body knows how dangerous driving is, climbing ladders, ATV;s swiming, etc are but they still do it.

          • Most guns are legally made. It is later in the history of the gun that it becomes illegal. Tracking the legal point of sale is the first step in helping law enforcement agents stem the tide of illegal distribution. Why would we not do this?

            Guns are the most lethal form of suicide available. 85% of suicide attempts by gun end in death. When guns aren’t available, suicides more commonly use drug overdoses, which only lead to death in less than 3% of cases. Fewer than 10% of those who survive a suicide will attempt it again.


          • Michael Wilson

            We do track them at point of sale. It doesn’t stop them all from being transferred to criminal hands. More extensive laws could lessen this, but trying to track the 300 million guns in circulation is a daunting feat for a government that cannot track 10 million immigrants. Do it by all means, but don’t expect a miracle.

            On suicide, that’s all fine and good that guns are great for killing yourself, but as a veteran of Tipper Gore’s war on metal, I don’t want to let other people tell me sight unseen I can’t own something on the off chance I might kill myself. Let me worry about killing myself or or deciding I want to be a character from an NWA record.

          • You have to start somewhere, and the president is starting by closing the loopholes at the point of sale. Tracking guns may well take time, but it is worth the effort if only for future generations.

            If you are an American citizen who doesn’t have a mental illness or a criminal record, noone is keeping you from carrying a gun.

            Again, Michael, you offer no solutions to the rampant gun violence in this country – none. You just give up and offer ugly racial scapegoating.

          • Michael Wilson

            I agree with you first two points, but I have not given up or offered racial scapegoating. I agree that their should be increased efforts to regulate gun circulation and demand accountability. But regulation and training is not counter to “loving guns.” Demonizing gun enthusiasts is not the way to convince them that they should support gun control measures, and their will be no gun control measures without them.

            Further people of their own initiative have to take charge of raising the next generation to respect life and peace. It does not help to scapegoat racial others for a communities problems as liberals do on violence, blaming the criminality of poor America on gun owning, middle-class, and largely white America.

          • I wish there were more conservatives that agreed with you that there “should be increased efforts to regulate gun circulation and demand accountability”. Unfortunately, the NRA and it’s backers tend to attack any such attempts.

            And your charge that liberals “scapegoat racial others” because some gun owners are white, while claiming that liberals have “killers in their midst” because some liberals are black?

            Oh, dear.

          • Michael Wilson

            Yeah, I wish there were to. The NRA is rabid about opposition to gun control supporters of gun control are much less so, and frankly I’m not rabid about gun control, its low on my priorities.

  • Pete Migdale

    Membership of a well organized militia should be mandatory for American gun ownership.
    What say a 3 month amnesty during which current gun owners could join such militia, then all guns not held by members be deemed illegal and handed in to police. After a further 3 months to comply, possession of a gun be a criminal offense and the use of a gun in perpetration of a crime triple the penalty imposed.
    There we go, a six month solution to the problem.

    • Sounds like a plan! And more realistic than one a friend of mine came up with, which is that you can have as many guns as you want, but are only allowed a maximum of six bullets. 🙂

    • Let’s have legal requirements for those militia’s including membership tracking, regular contact with state and local peace officers, and safety training.

      • Pete Migdale

        “Well regulated”, is probably the right term. If, as a foreigner, I recall the US constitution correctly.