Weekly Poll, police shooting

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When should a police officer be allowed to use his service gun?

Only when there is an immediate treath to his life or that from others
5
29%
When there is a reasonably assumption that the target poses an immediate indirect/direct treath to his life or that from others
8
47%
When the target is suspected or charged of/with serious crimes and tries to flee or otherwise obstructs his arrest
1
6%
When the target has killed (or is suspected of killing) another law enforcer
0
No votes
Whenever the target is fleeing from a crime scene
0
No votes
Whenever the police officer feels like it and the target is from an ethnic minority
1
6%
I like shooting ducks
2
12%
 
Total votes: 17
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Postby Feud » Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:55 am

vanarbulax wrote:The thing is you're saying guns aren't scary because if used right they pose no threat, but unless I am interpreting you wrong that is basically saying no object ever is scary.


That's actually not what I'm saying (or, at least, not what I'm trying to say).

What I'm saying is that they aren't inherently scary. If one is just sitting on a table minding its own business, there's no reason to fear it. There's no reason to say, "I see a gun, I'm now scared." I can understand looking at a lion sitting somewhere and being scared, cause at any moment that lion might stand up and come try to eat you. Same with a bee, a thug, or a snake, even if they seem totally benign, at any moment that might change. But a gun is just going to sit there, it has no ability to think or act on its own. There is no reason to fear it, because it has neither inherent ability nor desire to harm you. It's just a thing.

But, I agree that people can be scary, and their use of guns can be scary. A person might be scary, and if they have a gun then one might be more scared of them. But, that's not an issue of the gun itself being scary, it's an issue of the person, and how they choose to use it.

Now, of course some people are scared of the use of tools, either by themselves or by people around them. I think there's some benefit to that, it helps keep us from doing something reckless or dangerous. But that's different, that's fearing a result of use, not the actual thing.
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Postby vanarbulax » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:16 am

Okay yes fine, I fear the result of a use of a gun, not a gun itself. But now we're getting into semantics. I would have thought the main essence, the inherent qualities of a tool is it's potential use, and since many of the uses and consequences of a gun are scary I would therefore say that danger and fear are an inherent part of a gun. Now clearly we see differently, you somehow able to split the use of a gun from a gun itself, I however would be nervous of potential harm and if I walked into a room with a gun (rather anthropomorphically) "minding its own business" I would be nervous of being near where it could be potentially used. Sure you could add layers of assurance and protection on top of that situation, but I still think in essences guns are dangerous things.

Or on the other hand maybe I'm just a sook.
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Postby jelco » Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:08 pm

The "it can be used for non-lethal purposes (as well)"-argument is such an easy way out. It may not be incorrect, but it tends to be quite irrelevant. Whether you agree with its correctness or not, a lot of people will instinctively associate something with the thing it's most used for (which may or may not be with context). When people see a gun, it's natural for people to think it's meant for shooting. At a range this may be a lot less shocking that on the street. The same goes for knives, which tend to be a lot less shocking when spotted in a kitchen than when someone is carrying one while walking a dog. The fact that TVs can kill when you smash them over someone's head doesn't mean the general public will associate it with anything other than watching the moving images its screen produces.

My father tends to be quite annoyed by the warnings on cigarette packaging ("smoking kills" etc). Although he hasn't actually done it, I know he's announced more than once that he would put a sticker on is car saying "driving kills" or "can be lethal" or whatever. That's something I can more or less get into; although it's not an incorrect claim that you can die sooner from smoking a lot, there's not really any more direct risk someone will die than whilst (e.g.) driving a car (of course in the long run this is an entirely different debate - note it's just an example). It's just ignorant however to claim that a gun does not bring up associations with killing.

It would greatly help if you could see there's a difference between instinct/opinion and the actual truth. What people think may not actually be correct, but if enough people assume it is it's generally accepted as such. This means that, no matter how much you keep shouting that the killing factor is the human and not the tool, we all still feel that the tool is a pretty important aspect. When talking about how sighting guns scares people, that's the kind of thing you should be discussing - not hard facts.

I wish we could have at least one debate about guns where such a nonsensical argument is not brought up. I personally tend to feel like I'm not being taken seriously and/or the opposing side doesn't feel like putting effort into a proper discussion whenever I hear this.

Carry on.

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Postby Feud » Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:48 pm

jelco wrote:The "it can be used for non-lethal purposes (as well)"-argument is such an easy way out. It may not be incorrect, but it tends to be quite irrelevant. Whether you agree with its correctness or not, a lot of people will instinctively associate something with the thing it's most used for (which may or may not be with context). When people see a gun, it's natural for people to think it's meant for shooting. At a range this may be a lot less shocking that on the street...

I wish we could have at least one debate about guns where such a nonsensical argument is not brought up. I personally tend to feel like I'm not being taken seriously and/or the opposing side doesn't feel like putting effort into a proper discussion whenever I hear this.


There are almost 280 million guns in the US. About 240,000 will be used in crime in a given year. As such, each year .06% of guns in America will be involved in a crime.*

You want to talk about instinctive association with what something is most used for? Fine. Most guns are not used for crimes. Around here, 99.94% of guns will not be involved in a crimes. Unless you're breaking into people's homes or assaulting random people on the street, they will not harm you.

Now, I never said people shouldn't associate guns with shooting. That's what they do. But, there's no reason that a natural reaction should be that they might harm someone by shooting them. Based upon an argument of what most guns do, most guns will not harm anyone. They'll definitely shoot stuff. But not people.

As you said, there is sometimes a difference between instinct and truth. In this case, you are arguing a false instinct. While I appreciate that such might be instinctive, there's no reason to get pissy about me not indulging a false world view. I'm sorry if facts are inconvenient to your opinion, I've tried to avoid them (until this post) and work on rhetorical argument and anecdotes. If you don't like facts, if you don't like rhetoric, and if you don't like anecdotes, then I'm really not sure how you want me to discuss the issue and argue in favor of an opposing view point.

This entire discussion I've tried to make my case on the terms that the other side has presented. I've never once resorted to a "the government is going to come and get you", "it's in the Constitution so it must be morally true", "if all guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns", or any of the other stereotypical arguments.** Instead, I've striven to fit my argument within the context of the opposition, to win on their terms and on their ground. And you're then going to complain that I'm not putting an effort into it? :roll:

I might not be right, and I might not have always correctly understood a point someone was making. I'm human, what can I say? But saying that I'm not taking you (or anyone else) serious, or that I'm not putting effort in trying to have a proper discussion is absurd. Unless you're opinion of a proper discussion is that everyone agrees on the matter and praises the high minded sensibility of your opinion, I'm not sure how much more proper this discussion could get.

So, I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to talk down to me. It might make you feel better to make self righteous remarks about how you're actually trying while the other side refuses to act like an adult, but it's not particularly helpful to the discussion and it certainly doesn't encourage them to make a greater effort to meet the confusing standard that you seem to be hold them to.



*Source: http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunsinamerica

**Admittedly, I've been going along the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument. But, given that someone else raised the issue of guns being naturally scary, it invites a discussion about whether the gun is singularly something to fear, or whether it requires a person using it for that fear to exist. I realize that such fear might naturally exist for some, my point is that since it is not based upon a rational premise, that such fear isn't rational and they should try to avoid letting it dictate matters of public policy for them.
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Postby jelco » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:31 pm

Feud wrote:But, there's no reason that a natural reaction should be that they might harm someone by shooting them.

Just filtering out this sentence to highlight that you're kind of missing the point I was trying to make, which is that regardless of proper reasoning, a reaction may be such. I never blamed you for "not indulging a false world view", I'm just saying you shouldn't deny that there are others who do, or try to argue that just because they're wrong they don't have a point. You can talk all you like about facts and debating rhetorics, but regardless of the means the point you're trying to prove is flawed. In my opinion, of course.

The core of this discussion (which has gone sideways several times now, and has become difficult to untangle) was about how these natural reactions affect the opinion of certain people and/or the general public regarding guns. It's at this point that you should just assume that people have certain views (which you may or may not agree with) and go on from there. It's become pretty obvious by now around here (in fact, it has been for years) that your views are different, but arguing such a natural assumption isn't going to make a lot of converts. You have to agree that while there's certainly a human factor, there's more to it; it's much more interesting to argue that remaining part of the equation.

Now obviously I went slightly overboard on purpose to get some attention. Of course you're not the unintelligent debater I was referring to, I know that (it was more of a general comment) but you have to understand when certain phrases come around the corner that I've seen used to kill debates as a "this beats anything you can say"-argument I get a little twitchy. ;)

Mind you, I still haven't fully made up my mind about whether or not gun legalisation is good or bad, which is why I've mostly kept myself out of this discussion.

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Postby trickser » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:07 pm

The problem with Feuds arguments about guns and such-a-like is: regardless if they have a good point or are ridiculous they all share the same motive: gun adoring. And if you already feel the motive is stupid, the argument deduced from it feels exactly the same.

Its kinda like trying to have a pleasing conversation with Jehovah's Witnesses or to enjoy a cheap movies where you already know what's going to happen next.

To overcome this I would like to try something more polemic, please forgive me.


Guns are the biggest conceptual flaw in the history of penis enlargements. While penis enlargement are meant to impress the ladies, guns also serve the purpose of disabling the competitors. But without competitors you will fall behind in the penis-enlargement-race compared to regions without guns. So gun users must spread guns everywhere to make them worthy penis-enlargements.
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Postby Feud » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:22 pm

jelco wrote:Just filtering out this sentence to highlight that you're kind of missing the point I was trying to make, which is that regardless of proper reasoning, a reaction may be such.


Of course there are those reactions, I've never said there weren't or that even a large number of people don't do such.

We (not just you and I, as a general forum) seem to be chasing each other's tails on this one: You say "this is how it is", and I say "yes, but this is how it should be." To which the reply is "but this is how it is, you aren't understanding that," to which I reply "of course I understand that, but just because that is how it is doesn't mean it's right."

I understand that some people are scared of guns. I get it, I wouldn't have kept posting if I didn't understand that fear was out there. My point has been that such fear isn't warranted, and it's based upon a false premise. I realize that even if someone understands that a fear is irrational, they might still be afraid. Innate fear is like that sometimes, and I have some of my own. I also realize that some disagree with my assertion that such is an irrational fear, and that's their right.

What frustrates me though is that many take their irrational fears of guns, which are not based upon facts and reality, and instead decide to legislate their fears and imaginations, or create social standards and policy based upon them.

Me, I have a weird fear of heights. I love to skydive, fly, etc, but if I get near a ledge or more than a rung or two up a ladder, and it gets to me. While there is some danger of falling, I realize that most people who climb ladders won't fall of them, and most people won't randomly fall over a protective wall on the upper deck of a stadium, yet the fear is there.

But, even though it bothers me, I realize that my personal fears far outweigh the statistics and larger public risk. So, I don't get preachy about how people shouldn't climb ladders or go near ledges. That doesn't happen with guns though. Granted, there is some difference, but my point has been that the difference is the human element (in that a person with a gun acts upon you).

So people preach against guns, and try to legislate them away, when what they are really afraid of are people. Gun owners get blamed as being paranoid and fearful, and some are. But what people ignore is that at the root of the anti-gun argument is that it is based upon a fear of one's fellow man. People say, "gun owners are so afraid that they think they have to carry a gun," when the other side of that coin is "anti-gun people are so afraid of their fellow man that they think they have to preemptively prohibit their ability to hurt them."

I realize that if someone is naturally afraid of guns, I probably won't convince them otherwise. Exposure often does, but reading something on the internet? Probably not. Hy hope though is that they might at least realize that no matter how real that fear is to them, that if it isn't based upon reality then it isn't right to force others to act upon it.

trickser wrote:Guns are the biggest conceptual flaw in the history of penis enlargements. While penis enlargement are meant to impress the ladies, guns also serve the purpose of disabling the competitors. But without competitors you will fall behind in the penis-enlargement-race compared to regions without guns. So gun users must spread guns everywhere to make them worthy penis-enlargements.


Sounds like someone has penis envy. :P

The guns=penis argument is popular, but it's nothing more than simple ad hominem. There's no fact to it, no research or reason. But like most sexist stereotypes, it gets tossed out as a justification to write off the argument by attacking the person making it. It's just as baseless as if I were to say: the only people who compare guns to penises are those who are so ashamed of their own lack of manhood that they have to try and emasculate anyone they feel threatened by.
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Postby Cooper42 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:36 pm

I'd just like to reiterate my problem with guns. Maybe I needed to use italics before.

Feud, it's not that guns might harm someone. It's not that they could be dangerous. Statistical reasoning usually would sway me, but it's missing my point here.

Guns are designed, from the start, to maim, injure or kill. This scares me.

These are not tubes of steel with gunpowder in them cobbled together for Feudal warfare, these are the culmination of centuries of military development and major world conflicts, resulting in incredibly efficient, diverse and exacting methods of killing people.
An MP5 might just be a protective weapon for police officers, but it's also the result of millions of hours of thought, vast sums of productive materials and technological capacity run, designed and sustained to make people dead.

Guns are not, like the jet engine and many other things, useful technological advancements for civilians borne out of military design.
They remain true to their purpose - exactingly designed for death.

I don't baulk meerly at their existence; the world is full of really bloody frightening things and people working hard to make things I hate. What I find frightening, what scares me, is their normalisation. I am fearful for any culture or society that finds weapons designed for death in anyway a normal part of life. These things should be exceptional.
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Postby Feud » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:49 pm

Cooper42 wrote:These are not tubes of steel with gunpowder in them cobbled together for Feudal warfare,


I see what you did there... :wink:

Cooper42 wrote:I don't baulk meerly at their existence; the world is full of really bloody frightening things and people working hard to make things I hate. What I find frightening, what scares me, is their normalisation. I am fearful for any culture or society that finds weapons designed for death in anyway a normal part of life. These things should be exceptional.


Fair enough. I would point out that many guns are not designed with killing as the primary purpose, but with such I admit that many are designed for police or military applications (including one of the two guns that I own).

For better or for worse, I think that normalization of such is, in fact, historically normal. That might actually reenforce the idea in your mind, but I think it's worth noting that with very rare and limited exceptions (most of them within the last few decades), weapons always have been considered "normal" parts of life for societies.

Whether such ab-normalization of weapons is "good" for society, I guess that largely depends on what you think the greatest (or most likely) danger to your society might be.
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Postby Jordy... » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:18 pm

trickser wrote:The problem with Feuds arguments about guns and such-a-like is: regardless if they have a good point or are ridiculous they all share the same motive: gun adoring. And if you already feel the motive is stupid, the argument deduced from it feels exactly the same.

Its kinda like trying to have a pleasing conversation with Jehovah's Witnesses or to enjoy a cheap movies where you already know what's going to happen next.

To overcome this I would like to try something more polemic, please forgive me.


Guns are the biggest conceptual flaw in the history of penis enlargements. While penis enlargement are meant to impress the ladies, guns also serve the purpose of disabling the competitors. But without competitors you will fall behind in the penis-enlargement-race compared to regions without guns. So gun users must spread guns everywhere to make them worthy penis-enlargements.


Shut up douch.


EDIT: Balance restored
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Postby Xocrates » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:38 pm

Feud wrote:My point has been that such fear isn't warranted, and it's based upon a false premise.

That the fear is unwarranted, sure, but I still fail to see how is it a false premise.

Because other objects and tools can be lethal? Wouldn't that support the "fear isn't warranted" part as opposed to any issue with the premise? We probably wouldn't need to look too far in order to find someone afraid of knife and cars, and we both know they would be fully justified in doing so.

And that's the thing, as cooper pointed out, guns are designed to kill/maim/destroy. Whether they're used for that or not is irrelevant on whether or not to the premise that guns are scary and/or potentially dangerous when handled.

We can argue that exposure shows the fear to be unwarranted, but that's only true on the basis that the reason not to fear people with guns is because we assume they know how to handle them, which is NOT the case outside of gun cultures like the US.
Heck, just to reinforce my point, I live in a rural area, and as such know several hunters. Many, if not most, of them probably have a first person story about hunting accidents.
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Postby Feud » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:12 pm

Xocrates wrote:
Feud wrote:My point has been that such fear isn't warranted, and it's based upon a false premise.

That the fear is unwarranted, sure, but I still fail to see how is it a false premise.


Because, to me at least, it makes no sense to fear inanimate objects that lack the ability to spontaneously harm.

Regardless of what it was made for (and again, not all guns are designed to kill or maim people, that's an oft repeated but factual inaccurate statement), I don't find the design purpose to be the deciding factor in whether something is scary or not. There's no soul in the object to imbue with harmful intent, it's just a thing. As I said before, like a jet at an airshow, the scariness is a matter of application, not origin.

(As an aside, I think that labeling guns as "designed to kill" is a rather biased way to say it, that serves to reinforce the existing stereotype of the "scary gun". The flip side of that coin is that, since we are talking about combat intended weapons, we could say that the purpose of a gun is to save lives. I'm not aware of any massed produced guns that are designed for the intent of murder, and so if one is to argue that the gun is intended to be used to combat a threat, then it's purpose is really to maintain the life of the user. It might scare someone, wound someone, perhaps even kill, but those are secondary. Whether the threat is dead or whether the threat leaves or surrenders, so long as the user is alive then the gun has achieved its purpose. Death is just a possible byproduct.)
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Postby Xocrates » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:21 pm

There are more things that you can kill than people.

Guns were designed to kill. They are the technological evolution of the bows and arrows our ancestors used to hunt. That they were eventually used against people and adapted into other uses, does not change the fact that they were, from the beginning, designed to maim and kill.

Also, what you said was:

Feud wrote:My point has been that such fear isn't warranted, and it's based upon a false premise.

Your reply shows you're confusing the fear with the premise it is based on. The fear may be unwarranted, but it is based on a true premise.
Last edited by Xocrates on Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby martin » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:00 am

Feud wrote:Because, to me at least, it makes no sense to fear inanimate objects that lack the ability to spontaneously harm.


If someone comes at me with a fist, broken bottle, knife, brick or golf club, I can be fairly confident in disarming them. Even if not, at least I'd probably see them coming.

Guns allow someone to kill you, with very little effort and almost no possible defence from a large range. I don't find the gun itself scary, just the possibilities it opens up for people.

So going back to the original argument from Cooper that police within guns are scary, you may say "Well, if you're not scared of the gun but instead the person wielding it, who better to have a gun than an upstanding officer of the law?". Good point, but in a riot it gets confusing, even with the best will in the world the officers are gonna find it pretty hard to distinguish rioters from bystanders. On top of that, anyone can miss a shot and hit an innocent standing by. And of course, that's assuming we trust the police to use those weapons responsibly, there have been plenty of incidents of police brutality towards innocents in other situations that would make me *very* nervous around a policeman with a gun.

Feud wrote:and again, not all guns are designed to kill or maim people, that's an oft repeated but factual inaccurate statement


Out of sheer curiosity, what things are some other guns designed to do which doesn't involve killing, maiming or seriously injuring?
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Postby xander » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:12 am

martin wrote:If someone comes at me with a fist, broken bottle, knife, brick or golf club, I can be fairly confident in disarming them. Even if not, at least I'd probably see them coming.

While I come down closer to the anti-firearm camp than the pro-firearm camp, this argument is hogwash. In many situations, a knife is far more dangerous than a gun. At any range less than 5 feet, I would much rather have a bladed weapon than a firearm.

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