No Illusions #49 – Rob McNealy on Gun Ownership

Rob McNealy is back on the show (see gdayworld #329 for his last appearance four years ago) and he’s talking about gun ownership. Rob is a huge believer that citizens need to have weapons to defend themselves against a tyrannical government and for self-defence.

Just in time for the show, here’s a quote from a recent article by former PM John Howard:

Research published in 2010 in the American Journal of Law and Economics found that firearm homicides, in Australia, dropped 59 per cent between 1995 and 2006. There was no offsetting increase in non-firearm-related murders. Researchers at Harvard University in 2011 revealed that in the 18 years prior to the 1996 Australian laws, there were 13 gun massacres (four or more fatalities) in Australia, resulting in 102 deaths. There have been none in that category since the Port Arthur laws.

(Thanks Angus for the link!)

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11 thoughts on “No Illusions #49 – Rob McNealy on Gun Ownership

  1. Paul Bonneau says:

    For your massacres, you have 102 deaths for 18 years, or an average of under 6 per year, essentially about as worrysome as getting struck by lightning, although a lot more newsworthy. Your traffic fatalities run about a thousand per year.

    Why are Australians allowed to drive cars? You put up with a death rate 175 times that of firearms massacres. Obviously you’ve made a decision that the goods outweigh the bads about driving, and that there is a basic issue of liberty involved too.

    How are firearms different? You (not I) think firearms have no legitimate utility. I guess you are OK with genocide (rare, but as the last century demonstrates, far from impossible). I just wonder what you are going to do if you suffer a home invasion. Are you really that comfortable being completely defenseless? Are you doing your duty by just asking the criminals not to harm your family?

    The country comparisons are very problematical if you ask any statistician, because crime has many factors contributing, and you have to take all of them into account. Gun controls are actually a minor factor. In the US the war on drugs is a very important factor. The US is not Australia, sorry.

    Anyway this is all irrelevant. Cameron you are talking about this as if your opinion mattered, or as if US gun prohibitionists’ opinion mattered. Of course that is not true. It matters what the gun owners think, since they are the ones with the guns. They are not convinced by gun prohibitionist arguments. They don’t think it is safer to disarm themselves and make their families vulnerable, even if you think so. In fact the US has been moving culturally AWAY from gun control. Concealed carry is possible in almost every state now, and open carry is increasing. We are not turning our guns in. The government will have to try to take them, if they want them. Good luck. Oh, and just think of the deaths that would occur if they tried? Gun prohibition would be the cause of huge numbers of deaths.

    About those 10,000 firearms deaths per year, 1) that’s 10,000 in a population of 300 million – no rational person would worry about getting shot, unless they were into drug dealing. 2) Those stats include justifiable homicides and suicides, even police shootings. 3) Why ignore non-gun deaths? Those people are still dead, even if they seem not to matter to gun prohibitionists.

    • cameron says:

      Paul, unfortunately the evidence doesn’t support your argument.

      The data from Australia and England seems to indicate that making it as hard as possible for people to get weapons reduces firearm deaths and that, in turn, makes everyone safer.

      Gun prohibition has not lead to more firearm-related deaths or increases in crime, so that argument is also invalid unless you can back it up with evidence.

      10,000 deaths out of 300 million may not seem a lot to you, but its 9 times as many deaths as Australia and 59 time as England. If you can make your family safer by reducing access to weapons, why wouldn’t you want to do so?

      The argument that U.S. culture is somehow significantly different from Australian and English culture – and therefore what works here wouldn’t work there – needs evidence before it’s a valid argument.

      You’re right that *my* opinion doesn’t matter. But that doesn’t change the facts.

      • Mark Smith says:

        “We are not turning our guns in. The government will have to try to take them, if they want them. Good luck. Oh, and just think of the deaths that would occur if they tried? Gun prohibition would be the cause of huge numbers of deaths.”

        Paul, that’s just plain silly. Nobody is trying to “prohibit” guns. What I would like to see is some sensible regulation. I really get sick of this sort of “all or nothing” kind of argument, just as I get sick of the testosterone induced fantasies of armed resistance to nonexistent government confiscation of our guns. I have a gun. Nobody will find it, even if they “come after me”. Which they won’t. So stop with the Red Dawn fantasies, please, and face facts: we are killing innocent people in this country at rates which are completely out of sync with the rest of the world, and we can fix it.

        Prohibition – no. Sensible regulation – yes. Please!

  2. Mark Smith says:

    Excellent discussion, Cameron. Rob McNealy presents a rather cogent argument: that unlimited and unrestricted gun ownership can stand as the last bulwark against government tyranny. I say that his argument is “rather cogent”, but ultimately it just seems like some sort of childish fantasy of empowerment. What can a gun do against mass surveillance, financial malfeasance, and the general assholery which passes for intelligent discourse in this country? It’s as if Rob not only expects the tanks to come rolling in, but somehow looks forward to it, just so that he can stand in his driveway with the homemade AK47 that Obama and his jackbooted thugs somehow didn’t manage to confiscate. Come on, man. Give me a break.

    The one undisputed point that needs to be held on to in this argument is that easy access to guns leads to more deaths. It doesn’t matter if you factor out the black population or not – I think they count. I would be more than willing to look at other factors, such as poverty, overprescription of anti-depressants, lack of nurturing families, consumer culture, Fox News … or what have you. That’s a great discussion to have if you’re into big ideas. But this is a little idea. The little idea is that more guns lead to more deaths. Dance around that any way you like, but it’s a very simple concept.

    McNealy speaks of “prohibition” early on in the discussion (and you let it slide) but nobody is talking of prohibition. We’re talking about regulation, just as we regulate alcohol (we don’t prohibit it), regulation of who gets to drive ( you have to be old enough, you have to pass a test, you are subject to certain laws and penalties), or even regulation of drugs (heroin is just plain illegal). Yes, I would like to prohibit the sale of semi-automatic weapons to citizens, but that’s not the same as a general prohibition against guns, just as regulation of alcohol is not the same as a general prohibition against it. Even though McNealy is not a member of the NRA he employs the same specious “slippery slope” argument as they do, namely that any change or regulation against the proliferation of any kind of guns (even bombs, apparently!) is somehow a form of tyranny. What utter nonsense. It’s just boys wanting to be warriors and looking for someone to fight.

    Lastly, you are probably aware that Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” is now ten years old. Moore was on the CNN Piers Morgan show last week talking about what has changed in those ten years (nothing). Towards the end of the interview Moore said, “You know what .. I’m just not going to do this any more.” Basically he got fed up going over the same old arguments, the same tedious faulty reasoning, the same political interests and inertia. What is the point? That’s what it’s come to. We’ve let the bastards beat us down. We listen to pronouncements that we know are utter bullshit, but instead of saying “that’s utter bullshit” we seek out another opinion to “balance” the argument. We don’t even have the will power (or brains, apparently) to assert the bloody obvious any more. As I recall, the main point of “Bowling for Columbine” was a comparison between Canada and Untied states, two countries with remarkably similar cultures, lots of hunters and firearm owners, etc. And yet, Canada’s rate of gun deaths is a small fraction of ours. Why? According to Moore, it’s the climate of fear which predominates in the US. We are in a constant bunker mentality, thanks to the 24 hour news cycle and the focus on “unfolding events, even as we speak”. I would be happy to look at what’s wrong with our country, why we are so fear driven and untrustful of the world in general, but in the meantime let’s get some of these damn guns off the street, so that the crazies who actually believe the fear-driven bullshit peddled by Fox News can’t so easily go out and get what they need to act out their violent fantasies. We can fix this … but we won’t. That’s pretty sad.

    • cameron says:

      “some sort of childish fantasy of empowerment” – I tend to agree, Mark. As I pointed out in the show, if the object of owning weapons is to defend the people against a tyrannical government, then what are they waiting for? Rob is well aware that the govt / elite are plundering the economy. And yet I don’t see any hint of armed revolution from the gun owners.

      • Mark Smith says:

        Yes .. so what are they waiting for? If you want to get really depressed about the state of play here in the US, check out the graphic in this link:

        http://www.thenation.com/article/169295/gun-control-dream?rel=emailNation#

        Essentially it shows that support for a ban on handguns and (yes) semi-automatic weapons has actually gone down over time. Could this have anything to do with the widely perpetrated notion that Obama is a socialist, an alien, not “one of us”? If the guy in charge of the gov’t is seen to be deliberately running it into the ground (because he hates America, after all), it stands to reason, doesn’t it, that we need to arm ourselves. Ah yes .. the fear-based community.

        • cameron says:

          I think the rise of Fox News in the last 12 years probably has a lot to do with the decline in support for gun controls. Their successful strategy to divide and conquer seems (from the outside) to have created a society of heightened fear and distrust.

  3. Tony Kynaston says:

    Cameron, I could drive a truck through Rob McNealy’s arguments. the main thrust of which is he wants to retain gun ownership and use in case a rebellion breaks out that takes back the government. LOL. Good luck. I note he lives in Wyoming, his gun is going to do him a fat lot of good if a rebellion breaks out when the road tips up and an ICBM flies up his kasi.

    He believes that prohibition will reduce automatic weaponry to 3 percent. That’s a pretty good start. Not only will it drive up the price of the weapons that remain, it will be much harder for the criminally insane to obtain weapons. And that is who undertakes the shooting sprees, the Martin Bryants, the Hoddle St Massacres, the postal workers. When idiots have access to guns they do stupid (and horrendous) things.

    • cameron says:

      I agree. And Rob is a good bloke. Smart, savvy, and I think you and I would agree with him about a lot of other issues. I’ll have him back on the show soon to discuss other stuff.

      So I guess the question is – if these are the arguments that the more rational Americans in favour of gun control are making, and we agree that these arguments are pretty thin, why then is the issue so hard for the progressive elements of American society to crack through?

  4. Tony Kynaston says:

    Some good thoughts. I suspect that the gun lobby was strong before the advent of Fox News, but FN has probably provided unity, which is empowering those people who subsribe to those points of view.
    Another thought I have on the US gun culture is that it probably goes hand in hamd with economic disadvantage. The Economic divide is widening in the US. Mr McNally made references to beimg born in a violent area in Detroit and operating a liquor store in a rough area in Colorado. I can see why he wants to defend himself.

    When I see that the average US worker in the 60′s typically had a full time job, earned roughly $60k in todays $, had a pension plan and health benefits. Something has gone horribly wrong in America. It would appear that the only thing that has trickled down is bullets

  5. [...] got into a Facebook discussion today with Rob McNealy, my guest on a recent podcast about gun control in the USA. Rob posted comparing gun laws in Mexico to America, suggesting that [...]

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