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Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

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Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:01 pm

Mr. Dave's followup article on guns uses the tragic death of a youth to advance an unoriginal position that he clearly already held before the event. I have no particular sympathy for the neighborhood watch captain who allegedly murdered Trayvon Martin and truly feel sorrow for the murdered boy and his family. I still have some points to pick with Dave.

First off, his article is not an exemplary piece of fact-informed opinion. In comparing US violence statistics with other developed nations, Dave makes the following unsupported assumption:
Are Germany, Britain, and Japan any less violent than America? Is the rate of depression any less? I don't think so. And yet Germany's gun murders are only 200 to 300 a year while Japan comes in at around 50 and Britain at 20.
Did you try to Google that first, Dave? It's easy to find the statistics on gun ownership, gun-related homicides, total homicides and population. If you subtract all the gun homicides from total homicides, the US homicide rate is still 3.5 times that of Germany and 5 times that of Japan. Of course, with guns involved, the relative rates are even more dramatic, but the point stands - Dave made an uninformed assumption about the violent natures of different cultures that is completely wrong. Rates of violent crime in the United States are much higher than in other developed nations for reasons that go beyond differences in gun laws.

In the article, Jason Joyce adds a comment that links to another article about a recent spike in gun violence in Chicago, including the tragic shooting death of a 6 year-old girl. In the article, this is mentioned:
Police say gangs are to blame for much of the violence, including Aliyah's killing.

I think that this is an extremely important issue to consider, and it's one that Dave did not mention in either of his two articles on gun violence and policies to deal with it. While gang violence did not cause the death of Trayvon Martin, it is arguably a much larger problem, statistically speaking, than the occasional trigger-happy neighborhood watch captain. If one wants to start citing statistics about gun deaths at the national scale and recommending policy paths, then one should start by recognizing national-scale problems, not hinging an argument on anecdotal and emotionally-charged tragedies that can be considered statistical outliers.

Regarding gun-related suicides and the implication of high rates of clinical depression - this is definitely another major issue to tackle, but I think Dave jumps to conclusions in using gun-suicides as evidence to support a blanket gun ban, which we suspect is what he wanted already anyway, independent of suicide considerations. Regarding suicides, I'd first ask why so many people are driven to depression, and whether the best place to invest our political capital is a policy that merely denies suicidal people access to guns without addressing the underlying problem of their depression. With such a policy (if it were to work as intended, which is highly debatable), we'd still be left with a lot of near-suicidal people who are still gravely depressed. Of course, Dave might also support measures to address widespread depression, but I don't think that it's in good taste to trot out these bad situations gone worse (gun suicides) as support for your anti-gun argument. The point should be to reduce undesired deaths, not eliminate guns, and I think it's important to keep one's eye on the ball, so to speak.

So why is this in the Comments on Isthmus section of TDPF? As a fairly new resident of Madison (<5 yrs), I was at first somewhat impressed with Mayor Dave, and was interested to see that he would be contributing to Isthmus after leaving office. However, I've been disappointed in the content that's been written. Dave - you seem to have a lot to say about national issues that you have no more control over than the average non-ex-mayor citizen, and on those issues you tend to follow the Democratic party line pretty faithfully. When your "Idea of the Week" is basically just a repetition of something that we could read from Paul Krugman (e.g. on economics, the stimulus) or from any of a number of anti-gun activists at the national scale (in regard to the more recent articles), then what are you really offering, other than filler content, for Isthmus readers? When you comment on city and local issues (which you often do, I recognize that), you can really offer unique insight and draw on experience that vanishingly few other people have. Anyone can repeat the national talking points, and we can get the national talking points from a number of excellent writers from nationally-syndicated sources. Why not skip national politics in your column altogether?
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby fisticuffs » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:01 pm

75 pages of Dangerousman begins in 5...4...3...
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:06 pm

Fisticuffs, I'm impressed with your speed reading!

I think that my comment was longer than Dave's published column, so I'll preemptively concede that Citizen Dave is a more concise and to-the-point writer than I.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby Crockett » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:13 pm

As I've said in previous posts, I've found most of Mayor Dave's columns banal at best.

His column - coupled with some of his actions during the election - make me think that his loss to Mayor Soglin was justified.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:23 pm

fisticuffs wrote:75 pages of Dangerousman begins in 5...4...3...

I brought up the Florida homicide in the ongoing Gun Mania discussion. Doesn't look like DMan wants to touch it. He would rather just stand his ground.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby snoqueen » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:33 pm

To be fair, we've said before that arguing from anecdotes is relatively weak -- but this particular anecdote encompasses just about every factor that makes personal gun-carrying vigilantism such a bad idea. Race issues, self-appointed-heroes, unarmed and harmless victims, the whole nine yards.

It just made me sick reading about this innocent young man killed on his way home from the store, and hearing his mother cry on the radio. This is exactly why I think the more popular gun-carrying gets and the more it is encouraged, the more damage will be done to our society overall. And this story shows exactly the kind of damage I mean.

I've even got to take the time to say the shooter himself is a tragedy too -- surely his life is ruined and he'll never get over what he did. Somehow he got into his head the idea he could solve (perceived) neighborhood problems with a gun, and because it was legal it looked to him like a good idea to go outside with that intention. Where could he have gotten such a notion?
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:03 pm

Good thoughts here, Sno and Henry. Crockett - I largely agree, Dave's columns have been lackluster, but especially so on national issues.

Sno, I agree that gun-powered vigilantism is a problem that should be addressed, but the solution is not to simply confiscate all guns. You can tone down the gun-empowerment culture without eliminating the Second Amendment. However, Mr. Dave for some reason feels that this rare tragedy (rare, say, compared to the ten gang-related shooting deaths in Chicago in a single weekend) is a worthy vehicle for his already extant argument to rescind basic freedoms, and I have a problem with that.

We should examine the "castle doctrine" or "stand your ground" laws and probably reemphasize the idea of proportionate response in self-defense situations. Similarly, the idea of proportionate response should also be applied to policies that result from the discussion of this incident. From what I'm reading of the coverage of the Florida case today, the argument that the shooter acted in self defense is pretty much dissolving - he shot while the kid was walking away and talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend who has now come forward with her story.

edited for poor writing skills
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby snoqueen » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:18 pm

We should examine the "castle doctrine" or "stand your ground" laws and probably reemphasize the idea of proportionate response in self-defense situations.


I agree with that. For the record I don't think we should confiscate any guns at all, unless it's from felons and those mentally unfit to carry a burned-out match. We just don't need to encourage people to carry guns around the way this individual was doing.

For instance, if you look at the incidence of road rage, wrecks that happened while a driver was using a cell phone, and drunken driving you can see the general public already uses pretty bad judgment a lot of the time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out guns are going to be used by the same populace using the same qualities of foresight and thoughtfulness.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby john_titor » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:10 pm

It feels like The Isthmus replaced Blaska with Dave.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby ArturoBandini » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:26 pm

snoqueen wrote:For instance, if you look at the incidence of road rage, wrecks that happened while a driver was using a cell phone, and drunken driving you can see the general public already uses pretty bad judgment a lot of the time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out guns are going to be used by the same populace using the same qualities of foresight and thoughtfulness.
What you've said is unfortunately true - people often make bad decisions that are amplified by the high-powered devices they have access to. But to hammer the original point home, the solution to these problems is not to ban cars, guns, alcohol or cell phones, but try to help people develop and practice foresight and thoughtfulness.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby pjbogart » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:37 am

Why is it wrong for Mayor Dave to use the Trayvon Martin case, which has become somewhat of a national discussion, to criticize our conceal and carry law? What difference does it make that Mayor Dave was already against conceal and carry before the Martin case took the national stage?

Guns facilitate deadly force in instances where deadly force would have seemed unlikely otherwise. I think we can all agree that car accidents, bar brawls and workplace disputes are always going to happen. If you got into a car accident would you feel more safe or less safe if the other party was carrying a gun? If you had to terminate an employee would you feel more safe of less safe if you knew that the employee had a gun in his car? People under a great deal of stress often do irrational things. The presence of a firearm can turn an otherwise uncomfortable situation into a deadly situation.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. But if you're really furious that I just rear-ended your brand new car, I guess I'd rather you punch me in the nose than shoot me in the chest. Inserting a firearm into the scenario can lead to no good.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:39 am

Art, the only person mentioning banning all guns is you. Straw man.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby wack wack » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:44 am

ArturoBandini wrote:In comparing US violence statistics with other developed nations, Dave makes the following unsupported assumption:
Are Germany, Britain, and Japan any less violent than America? Is the rate of depression any less? I don't think so. And yet Germany's gun murders are only 200 to 300 a year while Japan comes in at around 50 and Britain at 20.
Did you try to Google that first, Dave? It's easy to find the statistics on gun ownership, gun-related homicides, total homicides and population. If you subtract all the gun homicides from total homicides, the US homicide rate is still 3.5 times that of Germany and 5 times that of Japan.


Dave asked two questions: Are Germany, Britain, and Japan any less violent than America? Is the rate of depression any less?

Your information seems to affirm his first assertion, does nothing to address the second. So really, what is your point, other than to demonstrate that you don't like Dave? If you're going to be snarky about using Google, how about understanding what you need to use Google for first, like trying to refute his position by actually addressing his position?
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:50 am

Henry Vilas wrote:Art, the only person mentioning banning all guns is you. Straw man.

Citizen Dave wrote:My bold proposal is to simply ban the manufacture, sale and possession of all handguns and automatic weapons everywhere in America.

From his first column on this issue.
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Re: Citizen Dave on Guns - Unoriginal Ideas of the Week

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:57 am

wack wack wrote:Dave asked two questions: Are Germany, Britain, and Japan any less violent than America? Is the rate of depression any less?

Your information seems to affirm his first assertion, does nothing to address the second.
No, the facts speak against Dave's answer of "I don't think so", applied to his first question. The facts suggest that Germany and Japan are much less murderous, per capita, than the U.S. even if you strip out all gun crimes from all countries in question.
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