January 15, 2013

Why are gun-death statistics inflated with gun-suicide numbers?

"I thought we had a right to die...."

Obviously, one reason is: to get bigger numbers. But I think the people that lump gun deaths together believe (or want others to believe) that guns are really dangerous. When it comes to suicide, there are 2 ways to think about the deadly effectiveness of guns: 1. For those who really want to kill themselves, guns are a sensible choice, or 2. The scary deadliness of a gun tempts weak/impulsive persons to go ahead and do something that wouldn't happen otherwise.

You can easily see that those 2 ways to think represent the mindsets that lead to libertarian or authoritarian answers to all sorts of questions. #1 would allow the individual to make his own decisions and to take care of himself, and #2 thinks the individual — call her Julia — needs to be helped and protected (even from herself).

Sorry to go all gender-y, but I'm interested in talking about suicide and attitudes about guns in the context of gender difference, because 4x as many men as women commit suicide and 56% of male suicides use firearms compared to only 30% of female suicides. Those statistics are skewed by the fact that guns are an effective method. It might be that the gender disproportion is because men choose the method that leaves fewer survivors of attempts at suicide. I note that 40% of female suicides use "poisoning" (presumably, that includes drug overdosing). What's the proportion of females attempting suicide by poisoning to females succeeding in killing themselves with poison?

If you have a fantasy of rescuing those who are in the process of committing suicide, you might think taking guns away will give you a better shot.

ADDED: It occurred to me, after the Sandy Hook murders, that blaming guns is a secular substitute for blaming the devil. People find it too challenging to figure out why a human being would do this terrible thing and they latch on to the idea that the gun made it happen. Suicide presents a similar challenge, and one way to fathom it is to say: It was the gun. Isn't it like saying the devil made him do it? The gun/the devil is a great go-to answer, freeing you from wracking your brain about the workings of the human mind.

127 comments:

Jay said...

And even when they inflate them they don't equal the number of yearly automobile deaths in America.

Again, the use of "assault weapons" in US homicides is statistically insignificant - FBI data shows that 323 murders were committed with rifles of any kind in 2011. In comparison, 496 murders were commited with hammers and clubs, and 1,694 murders were perpetrated with knives.

So of course leftists want to ban "Assault Rifles."

Revenant said...

Obviously, one reason is: to get bigger numbers.

You can stop there, really. That's the only reason they do it.

Jay said...

I thought we had a right to die...."

No, only Terri Schiavo did.

David-2 said...

"give you a better shot"

I like that.

"talking guns away"

Problem is, they want to take them away, not just yammer at you.

bagoh20 said...

I think a big reason for the gender difference is that a gun really messes up your make up, and I'm not kidding.

YoungHegelian said...

What's really weird is that the American ethnic group, i.e. Non-Hispanic Blacks that has the highest rate of gun violence has the lowest suicide rate!

From the linked web site:

Lowest rates:

Hispanics — 6.0 per 100,000
Non-Hispanic Blacks — 5.1 per 100,000
Asian and Pacific Islanders — 6.2 per 100,000

John said...

Why did it take Julia 7 years to graduate college?

traditionalguy said...

Wait, wait. It's not the suiciders, it's the guns. But wait again, it's not the guns it's the bullets. But wait again its not the bullets, it's the magazines they are in.

When will the liberal gun snatchers tell us their final answer?

Levi Starks said...

We need medical professionals to do the analysis, and the deed.
Only trained professionals have the necessary knowledge and expertise. Death is not something that should be left to do it yourselfers.

Tag: ropes, tall balconies, prescription medications, tiger enclosures, autos, ect.

the wolf said...

If those numbers were reversed, the feds would declare a national crisis and demand billions of dollars in spending on suicide issues for women. Since it's a lot of men...meh.

creeley23 said...

Suicide attempts by drug overdose are often not entirely serious attempts. They leave the door open for last minute changes of mind or hopes of rescue.

One woman I knew closely did so every couple years for long enough that we lost count of her attempts. But when the time came and she really did want to die, she sliced her forearms vertically and bled out in a bath.

bagoh20 said...

I would suspect that the low rate among Blacks is due to lower expectations, and thus less pressure from the culture. A lot of suicide is because a person feels they can't accomplish what is expected of them by others.

Thus my motto: Under-promise and over-deliver.

Levi Starks said...

Oh yes I forgot the newest trend.. Helium.

creeley23 said...

If those numbers were reversed, the feds would declare a national crisis and demand billions of dollars in spending on suicide issues for women. Since it's a lot of men...meh.

Very true.

Reminds me of the crisis in education when it seemed that girls weren't doing as well as boys.

However, now that women outnumber men in college 60:40 and rising, the crisis in male education goes unremarked.

Nonapod said...

thinks the individual — call her Julia — needs to be helped and protected (even from herself).

Statistically women are far more likely to commit suicide by either exsanguination or overdosing than by using a gun.

YoungHegelian said...

@bagoh20,

I would suspect that the low rate among Blacks is due to lower expectations,

May be. Or, perhaps a lot of the violence in the black community is just slow motion suicide by other means.

I suspect that many of the "jihadis" in Muslim cultures are suicides by other means, as Muslim cultures tend to be even more opposed to suicide than even observant Christian cultures.

Larry J said...

Lying with exaggerated numbers is a common tactic. Some examples that I recall include:

Claims of "millions of homeless people..." along with efforts to hinder the Census Bureau from actually counting them.

"Thousands of kids kidnapped by strangers each year..." when according to FBI statistics, the number (while still too high) in 2011 was 115.

I also remember a group decrying the "thousands of women" who die each year due to eating disorders (blamed on men, of course) when the actual number was less than 90.

Back in the heyday of the McMartin Preschool molestation hysteria, there were grossly exaggeraged claims for the number of kids abused by care providers.

I'm sure others can come up with more examples.

Richard Dolan said...

"... talking guns away will give you a better shot."

Is that the typo that wasn't? (It is no longer since you changed it, but the post was better with it.) In all events, it also gets to the gender-y difference (gender-y stereotypes?) you raise. Women are more likely to want someone to talk the gun away, even if they are pointing it at themselves. Fewer of the women attempting suicide really want to succeed -- it's all that community feeling, wanting to be loved and be part of the larger whole. Men are more the silent type, just intent on getting on with it and unwilling to ask for directions even as they launch themselves into the last journey.

Levi Starks said...

Of course my Grandpa was old school.
30-30 to the heart, in the outdoors.
He was considerate of those who would have to clean up, and the funeral attendees.

Nonapod said...

If any person can't be responsible for their own life and whether or not to end it, than obviously we're all infants and nobody should have any authority.

Nonapod said...

Good lord, I wish I could edit posts. I gotta stop using "than" when I mean "then"

dreams said...

I've read that more women attempt suicide than men but that more men are successful at suicide and one of the reasons is men are more likely to use guns.

John Althouse Cohen said...

"I thought we had a right to die...."

But is that what you think? I thought you thought suicide is murder.

rpkjr2 said...

Suicide has also been shown to be "means independent" over and over again. Unfortunately, I don't have a reference. Key example - Japan has the highest rate of suicide (adult, I believe) and the most limited access to firearms of any nation in the world. It is disingenuous, at best, to state that guns cause suicide. Foolishness.

Levi Starks said...

Question for the future-
When the suicide pill becomes legal,
How long will it take before it's offered over the counter?
Some parents may find the idea objectionable for their children, I'm sure school nurses will be happy to dispense them without parents consent.

Shouting Thomas said...

No, Althouse, the devil tempts the individual, who fails to resist the temptation, and thus falls into the depths of evil.

Try, Althouse, to cease reflexively pushing away the lessons of tradition. It will make things clearer for you.

Traditions exist because they grew out of human experience.

Nonapod said...

@Levi Starks - Maybe in the future there will also be classes about how to correctly commit suicide so as to cause as little mess as possible, how to compose a proper note and get all your affairs in order ect.

Levi Starks said...

Nonapod said...
@Levi Starks - Maybe in the future there will also be classes about how to correctly commit suicide so as to cause as little mess as possible, how to compose a proper note and get all your affairs in order ect.

Funded I would hope by obammacare. Because if ever there were an opportunity to 'bend the cost curve down" for medical care, this it it.

Revenant said...

blaming guns is a secular substitute for blaming the devil

Ditto for blaming music, video games, movies, etc.

Most people are emotionally incapable of handling the idea that horrible things can happen to them, at any time, for no real reason. Most people think that life is fundamentally "good", and that something has to happen to make it "bad".

YoungHegelian said...

Isn't it like saying the devil made him do it? The gun/the devil is a great go-to answer, freeing you from wracking your brain about the workings of the human mind.

If there was ever an event that was tailor-made for demonic possession as an explanation it was Sandy Hook.

I don't generally like looking for "ghostly explanations" but, boy, does it fit the bill here!

But, ghastly evil coming out of nowhere like that leads the human mind down that path.

cdw said...

The use of the suicide stat was a way that the anti gun folks in canada were able to pass a national registry. However it is now gone after billions were spent on it. In any year there were 1400 gun deaths in Canada, but 1000 were suicide. So what? The other 400 gun deaths were restricted to inner cities and ethnic gangs related to a low latitude. If America allows itself to be enslaved by obama, then I will not be free here in Canada. Keep your guns, and get ready to use them.

TosaGuy said...

Suicide by gun is the gun's fault.

Suicide by Belgian doctor is simply ending one's suffering and reducing one's burden on the state.

The doctor couldn't use a gun though, that would be wrong.

Alex said...

JAC:

But is that what you think? I thought you thought suicide is murder.

What gives you the right to be an utter prat on this blog?

Revenant said...

Traditions exist because they grew out of human experience.

Traditions exist because people are naturally resistant to change.

Traditions that are actively *harmful* tend to go away (eventually), because even human nature has its limits. Traditions that are merely ineffective tend to stay around forever.

Lucien said...

Well, you can't blame high capacity magazines for suicides. I bet most of them involve a single shot, which could be accomplished with a 1787 era muzzle loaded pistol (unless you had a flash in the pan).

DADvocate said...

Some people are terrified of freedom. They believe it's best that people be coerced, even forced, to act and live their lives as they, the terrified of freedom folks, think they should.

Then you have folks like Michael Bloomberg who hate freedom because it interferes with their lust for power and dreams of being Caesar.

dmoelling said...

I don't know if this is tabulated anywhere, but I think teenage girl suicides are overwhelmingly by hanging. My daughter had a friend who did it so that her mother would find her when returning from work. Since hanging required nothing more than a rope/bedsheet/belt/shoelace etc. one cannot regulate the means.

AllenS said...

The reason that non-Hispanic Blacks' suicide rate is that low, is because so many are murdered before they get a chance to kill themselves.

Ann Althouse said...

"Is that the typo that wasn't? (It is no longer since you changed it, but the post was better with it.)"

It was correct, miscorrected, and subsequently unmiscorrected....

Sorry, but I correct typos without cluttering up the front page with notations of where typos have been corrected. I know that's annoying if you've comically riffed on the typo. But I'm thinking of the interests of most readers, and fastidious notations of corrected typos are not worth it.

paminwi said...

Do women need the "death scene" to be more neat and tidy so that the "clean-up" is easier? Is this something men do not think about?


I'd be interested in finding out who leaves more suicide notes to explain their decision - men or women? Is an explanation more important to one gender or the other?

Lem said...

Suicide is for the dead… whereas the right to die is for the living.

Minting the trillion dollar coin is the right to die… cashing it is suicide?
If that makes any sense.

Calypso Facto said...

Funded I would hope by obammacare. Because if ever there were an opportunity to 'bend the cost curve down" for medical care, this it it.

As predicted by Vonnegut's Federal Bureau of Termination or, switching stories, his Ethical Suicide Parlors.

Alex said...

Let's highly regulate the sale of thick rope.

Shouting Thomas said...

Traditions exist because people are naturally resistant to change.

Bullshit. That's a good rationale for remaining ignorant.

Alex said...

In fact let's institute a 1984 style tyranny so that ONLY the state can kill you.

Hagar said...

Four times as many men commit suicide ...

Because they have to live with women?

Levi Starks said...

Just supposing assisted suicide for depression were legal,
If someone was facing a 30 year prison sentence for intellectual property theft, would the prosecutor of the case take a position for or against the defendant being allowed to make an early exit?

Shouting Thomas said...

The issue of "change" seems to obsess the liberal mind.

Change is going to occur no matter whether people try to force change or not. Nobody is in favor of stasis, because that is by definition not possible.

So, the issue is not whether change is going to occur. The issue is how to we deal with it.

Alex said...

ST - well we do have tyrants at the barricades.

Lem said...

Is that the typo that wasn't?

That reminds me of this.

That typo... if that is what it was... made me pause and chew the sentence.

I like typos that do that.

bpm4532 said...

Ignorance, fear and a desire to tell other people how to live. It doesn't matter if their actions are ineffective - they'll never believe it.

Revenant said...

"Traditions exist because people are naturally resistant to change."

That's a good rationale for remaining ignorant.

I'm sure you thought that made sense, but it didn't.

SJ said...

This is something I noticed years ago.

Of course, I have also followed the portion of the blogosphere focusing on gun rights for many years.

And the conflation of "suicide by gun" and "murder by firearm" into the single category of "gun death" has been standard practice by gun-control-advocates for years.

Shouting Thomas said...

The gun/the devil is a great go-to answer, freeing you from wracking your brain about the workings of the human mind.

The tradition of the devil exists so that you can call on thousands of years of human tradition to know the "workings of the human mind."

The vanity of the intellectual demands the he/she devise novel new ideas. It is entirely vanity that forces the intellectual to abandon that which is already known, i.e., tradition.

Vanity is what the devil employs to tempt the intellectual.

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm sure you thought that made sense, but it didn't.

That's because the devil has tempted you with your vanity over you intellect.

Nonapod said...

Just supposing assisted suicide for depression were legal,
If someone was facing a 30 year prison sentence for intellectual property theft, would the prosecutor of the case take a position for or against the defendant being allowed to make an early exit?


It depends if you view the purpose of imprisonment as purely punitive. One could argue that suicide would be getting out of punishment.

CWJ said...

Regarding Althouse's addition to her post, it has often occurred to me that it is the gun control croud that has the gun fetish rather than the gun owning croud.

bpm4532 said...

It's part of their static view of how the world works. Here, they believe if you outlaw guns, then these death's won't happen. They'll never accept that people will find other ways to kill themselves. Kind of odd, because I think it's among the left that euthanasia is viewed most positively.

donald said...

I'm gonna do it on a rental boat out in the ocean.

Not now, but if I got a choice that's how it's gonna happen.

Shouting Thomas said...

By the way, Althouse, I'm going to employ your own method of close examination of text to look at your own statement:

"Isn't it like saying the devil made him do it?"

This is a clear misstatement of Christian theology.

The devil tempts. The individual remains responsible for his actions.

edutcher said...

Why?

Because Lefties can't win an argument - any argument - on facts.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I thought we had a right to die....

But is that what you think? I thought you thought suicide is murder.


It's called sarcasm.

PS Blaming guns is like blaming Hitler. It gives us the out of saying we could never be like that.

bpm4532 said...

We should ask the following questions of gun-control advocates:
1. What are the specific outcomes of this legislation that we will use to measure it's success?
2. If these outcomes are not achieved, will you agree it was the wrong approach and repeal the legislation?
3. In that light, should you set a specific term for these controls, that if they don't achieve the desired results, they automatically expire?

GrandpaMark said...

More men use guns for suicide because more men own guns.

Big Mike said...

This is one case where we can actually do the experiment: what happens to the suicide rate when guns are confiscated. In response to a mass shooting in Port Arthur that left 35 dead and 23 wounded Australia set out to confiscate guns. The results are that suicides by gun are rare, but the overall suicide rate is only slightly down.

The elephant in the room is inner city youth violence. When I read that a young man feels he has been "dissed" and he responds by using an illegal firearm to shoot up an entire group of other young inner city youths, then I have to wonder what sort of culture finds this acceptable.

Paul said...

Here in Texas we are awash with guns. Yet accidental deaths due to firearms are lower than the number of deaths of kids who drown in back yard swimming pools!

Yet there is no hue or cry for banning back yard swimming pools.

In fact suicides by the use of firearms here in Texas are also low .vs. the number of guns. WAY low.

Yes I do know of two suicides here in Texas who used guns. One rented it at a local indoor range and the other, faced with death due to Parkinson's, killed himself with a gun (it was very sad as many people knew the guy.)

But them fast forward over to Belgium were you can get yourself killed by just asking the doctor (Ann, you posted that not far down from this post!) In fact you can get assisted suicide in Oregon, yet somehow they worry about suicides with guns!

Me thinks they are just using numbers to inflate so it looks like guns kill a lot (yea.. look at how many die on highways with cars!)

n.n said...

Scalpels and vacuums are the proximate causes of more human lives (Barack(s), Harry(s), Nancy(s), Julia(s)) lost annually (around one million in America alone) than with any other dual-use tools.

The conflation of disparate issues is designed to increase leverage, typically democratic. It is not uniquely a Democrat phenomenon; but, this particular cooperative has exploited it with great success. They also conflate science and philosophy; general and individual welfare; voluntary and involuntary exploitation; justice and corruption; religion and cults; etc.

There is another large class of gun murderers counted in these statistics: criminals. Counting criminal use of guns expressly serves to reward the criminals, since they are a class of individuals who are not constrained by legal proscriptions.

Shouting Thomas said...

@bpm4532.

Those are good questions, but the current political frenzy is simply a demand that politicians "do something" in response to the Sandy Hook massacre.

They are "doing something," although whether that something does anything to prevent school massacres is unlikely.

This is about job security for politicians.

Kirk Parker said...

" However it is now gone after billions were spent on it."

Indeed, but please don't leave out the "uselessly" part, since not everyone down here keeps track of what's going on up there.

Revenant said...

Nobody is in favor of stasis, because that is by definition not possible.

That's a silly thing to say. Keeping your children safe is as impossible as stasis is; does it follow that nobody is in favor of keeping their children safe? Of course not. There are countless unobtainable goals that people nevertheless strive for.

Bill Buckley described his magazine thusly: "It stands athwart history, yelling Stop". That, dear Thomas, is the statement of a man who favored stasis -- and, of course, tradition.

Shouting Thomas said...

The argument among the left in Woodstock seems to be that gun ownership is in itself a sign of mental illness, since no sane person would want to own a gun.

I assume this is what the leftists are telling one another on a national scale as well.

Revenant said...

Yet there is no hue or cry for banning back yard swimming pools.

Don't give them any ideas. Aside from California most of the left-wing states are in pool-unfriendly climes.

Lem said...

"Why are gun-death statistics inflated with gun-suicide numbers?"

Incidentally...

The inflation of numbers is also the standard practice for construction costs. Meansx2

In the congress is called pork.

In law... its something comical about billable hours.

Union and their overtime pay.

Inflation is a well recognise, time honored procedure.

Shouting Thomas said...

Revenant,

The problem with your theory is that it is built on the assumption that political ideology is what drives social change.

Technology is the primary driver of social change. Has been for a long time. Feminism didn't bring about the dramatic change in the status of women. Birth control did that.

Keeping your children safe is not an example of stasis. You'll have to explain that one to me.

Buckley meant to stop the march of bad ideas that is leftist political ideology. As the 20th century proved. Remember when just about everybody believed that the survival of the Soviet Union was a given that had to be accepted?

The ideas of change set forth by the left are always re-issues of ideas that failed. Leftists just don't understand this.

n.n said...

Big Mike:

A culture which does not respect individual dignity. A culture which does not recognize that life is an extraordinary phenomenon and therefore should not be treated frivolously. A culture which has selective regard for its laws and traditions.

Lonetown said...

If people are willing to hang themselves, letting them have a gun seems like an act of mercy.

Rob said...

In the final paragraph, I find myself staring at Ann's "it's" again.

AJ Lynch said...

It's no different than when they say 160 million working Americans will be affected if Congress allows the payroll tax holiday to expire. Someone grabs a bogus number, it gets out there in the internet and our wonderful media never questions its accuracy.

Freder Frederson said...

I thought you consider suicide "self-murder". So the question you should be asking is "why should suicides be separated from homicides?"

Basta! said...

An adult female relative went to visit her mother and, when the mother went out to the store, shot herself. Leaving an unmistakeable mess/age for Mom.

McTriumph said...

Besides suicides in those gun death numbers are legal homicides committed by law enforcement officers and civilians.

Lem said...

"Why are gun-death statistics inflated with gun-suicide numbers?"

rhhardin said...
Thurber:

"In Chapter I, first paragraph, Dr. Shellow gives the dictionary definition of "personality" as follows: "The sum total of traits necessary to describe what is to be a person." Unless I have gone crazy reading all these books, and I think I have, that sentence defines personality as the sum total of traits necessary to describe an unborn child. If Dr. Shellow's error here is typographical, it looms especially large in a book containing a chapter that tells how to acquire reading skill and gives tests for efficiency in reading...If Dr. Shellow used this system in reading the proofs of her book, the system is apparently no good."


3/25/10, 2:54 PM

Not seeing rh on this tread yet, I thought I pull something... for inflation sake.

McTriumph said...

Of the seven people I know that committed suicide, three were by gun, one hanged, one jumped out of a plane, one overdosed and one on a motorcycle, all left notes. All were understandable, but only one had tried before with drugs, he finally shot himself. I haven't know any women that committed suicide.

Lem said...

You are lucky... I haven't met anybody that has committed suicide... yet ;)

junyo said...

"Suicide was the leading cause of death among men age 20–44. Males are two times more likely to cause their own deaths after a divorce than females. Nevertheless, suicide is still the leading cause of death for women age 15–34 in Japan... Common methods of suicide are jumping in front of trains, leaping off high places, hanging, or overdosing on medication. Rail companies will charge the families of those who commit suicide a fee depending on the severity of disrupted traffic.
A newer method, gaining in popularity partly due to publicity from Internet suicide websites, is to use household products to make the poisonous gas hydrogen sulfide. In 2007, only 29 suicides used this gas, but in a span from January to September 2008, 867 suicides resulted from gas poisoning. This method is particularly problematic, as there is high risk of hurting others in the process."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan

Obviously all those guns.

David said...

"t occurred to me, after the Sandy Hook murders, that blaming guns is a secular substitute for blaming the devil."

Quiet Althouse. Lefties have evolved far beyond such primitive notions.

Plus you might make people think.

Lem said...

There is no way I know of, and if there is I just dont know it... But I'm going to speculate that suicide was not a way of dying for our ancestors the, what do we call them, the neanderthals, homoerectus...

So... if suicide is a relatively new phenomena... why do we not think of it as progress?

William said...

@McTriumph: you seem to know an abnormally large number of suicides. Perhaps you should reconsider your career as a debt counsellor.

David said...

Guns are dangerous.

That's the point.

It's like inhaling.

Carnifex said...

if leftist liberals were really concerned about saving children, they wouldn't be pro abortion...

They just like standing on the graves of children so they can look down their noses about people who actually think.

mccullough said...

The great majority of homicides are male perpetrators against male victims.

So men lead in suicides and homicide perps and victims.

Maybe biology is a lot stronger than we think.

Lem said...

I just realised this tread is more to do with guns... which suicides are tangentially irresponsible for.

ok lets move on.

AllenS said...

I had a good friend who committed suicide by sitting in his car with the engine running and a hose going from the tailpipe into the car.

Carnifex said...

anyone who thinks god and the devil don't exist has never pet a good dog, or knows what a partial birth abortion is.

McTriumph said...

William
I just know a shit load of people. None of them were motivated by debt, mostly women, pending prosecutions or the death of a loved one.

EDH said...

Those statistics are skewed by the fact that guns are an effective method. It might be that the gender disproportion is because men choose the method that leaves fewer survivors of attempts at suicide.

"She's not a girl who
misses much
Do-do-do-do-do, oh yeah"

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Crunchy Frog said...

I wonder about how many suicides-by-overdose are micharacterized as accidental deaths. In the absence of a note, it seems nicer to the family. Lets them blame the scourge of drugs as opposed to making them wonder why their daughter was such a selfish head case that she would kill herself and leave them to grieve.

Lem said...

A spam umlauts?

Talk about inflated influence...

Pam a lot.. parmalat milk...

it's a breast!

Lem said...

Gun death statistics should really not be given out to the public by the government... in the event that the public might want to know which guns work better... wouldn't that put the government in the business of stifling/influencing competition?

I mean... gun-death statistics should be the business of an independent, consumer oriented trusted magazine like Consumer Report.

Who knows.. maybe they that already.

TMink said...

I have two guns, a pistol and a shotgun. Both were gifts from my father, and I have not fired either in over a decade.

I wonder when one of them will kill a member of my family while I sleep?

Trey

Revenant said...

The problem with your theory is that it is built on the assumption that political ideology is what drives social change.

I didn't say that, I don't think it, and it doesn't follow logically from anything I've written. In fact, I didn't state the causes of change at all -- only the cause of human opposition to change. So congrats, I guess, for hitting upon the wrong answer with such laser-like precision. :)

Change is externally driven. Hostility to change and adherence to tradition is human nature. It doesn't matter what the change is, there will always be a healthy supply of traditionalists bitching about it. Your example of birth control is a case in point; traditionalists are *still* complaining about the supposedly negative effects of the birth control revolution, a half century later.

Revenant said...

anyone who thinks god and the devil don't exist has never pet a good dog, or knows what a partial birth abortion is.

I've pet a good dog and had a family acquaintance die from being mauled by a bad one.

From this I have concluded nothing whatsoever about the supernatural. Maybe that's just me.

Shouting Thomas said...

Hostility to change and adherence to tradition is human nature.

Hostility to change has nothing to do with adherence to tradition.

Shouting Thomas said...

Revenant, the fuzziness of this stuff you're talking about makes it almost impossible to discuss.

It is the left that is Luddite. It is the left that continues to hold to the bitterly discredited ideals of socialism and communism.

It is the left that resists acceptance of constant change in response to markets that is the reality of capitalism.

You're on the opposite side than the one you think you occupy.

Birth control succeeded as a result of capitalist innovation.

You're very confused.

Ann Althouse said...

""I thought we had a right to die...." But is that what you think? I thought you thought suicide is murder."

I think rights are something you have as against the government. My position that suicide is murder is a moral position.

I don't think we have a right to demand that the government kill us if we'd like that. There might be a right to require the government not to prevent you from killing yourself, which is similar to the abortion right. I think there are some situations where the govt forcing you to stay alive really would violate your rights.

I'd like to see the particular case.

But I think the Court got it right in Gluckberg.

Big Mike said...

I have two guns, a pistol and a shotgun. Both were gifts from my father, and I have not fired either in over a decade.

I wonder when one of them will kill a member of my family while I sleep?


Neither, if you keep them locked up and unloaded. If you keep eiter of them loaded and readily to hand, then I presume you've carefully weighed the risks and decided that the risk of an accidental shooting is outweighed by the risk of having to deal with a home invasion while unarmed.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't accept suicide as falling within the libertarian idea that it only hurts the person who is making the choice to commit the act.

Big Mike said...

@Professor, isn't it "Glucksberg" with an 's'?

And you a law professor!

Basta! said...

"one jumped out of a plane" That's different --- and took some money up front to arrange.

Hanging is a nasty way to die, and one has to keep one's focus on it for a sustained period of time: getting the rope, making the noose, setting it all up. I don't understand how anyone could have the stamina go through with it.

What one doesn't see too much anymore is deliberately drowning, though maybe it's not recognized without a note having been left. Virginia Woolfe loaded up her pockets with rocks and walked into the River Ouse, the poet Paul Celan jumped off a bridge into the Seine. In Russia drowning was considered a typically "feminine" way of dying, and thus shameful for men. The only Russian guy I know who committed suicide hung himself in a barn --- because no one would "lend" him the money anymore to buy vodka.

bagoh20 said...

"the libertarian idea that it only hurts the person "

That not a libertarian idea. That's just an imprecise to inaccurate idea that few would agree with.

The libertarian idea is that it's your right and that overrides that it might hurt others, just like my choosing to fight for life may hurt others who need the hospital bed at the moment, or don't want to pay higher insurance premiums that my survival may produce..

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

The most successful people at suicide are elderly men. They mean business.

If elderly women killed themselves at the same rate, there would be an outcry and research into the reasons.

Toy

Ann Althouse said...

Glucksberg. Sorry for the typo.

sydney said...

People find it too challenging to figure out why a human being would do this terrible thing and they latch on to the idea that the gun made it happen. Suicide presents a similar challenge, and one way to fathom it is to say: It was the gun.

We have a very long and high bridge in our city that runs over a wide and deep valley. A couple of times a year, someone commits suicide by throwing themselves from the bridge. People blamed the bridge, so the city used stimulus money in 2009 to build a very high jump-proof fence/wall on each side of the bridge. A few months after the fence/wall was completed, someone climbed it and jumped to their death. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Revenant said...

I don't accept suicide as falling within the libertarian idea that it only hurts the person who is making the choice to commit the act.

You're conflating actual harm with emotional harm.

But libertarians reject that you should be criminally liable for an action because taking that action makes other people sad, yes. :)

ken in sc said...

The only female teenage suicides that I know about—former students—were by hanging. I am not sure they were real suicides. They might have been a sexual fad gone wrong.

Synova said...

I think that blaming an evil event on the devil is a bit like calling a natural disaster an act of God.

It's not at all like blaming guns.

Why? Because the explanation of evil as "the devil" is a way of saying and accepting that we can't fix it.

Just like an earthquake or tornado being an "act of God" is a way of saying and accepting that we can't fix it.

Blaming guns is a fantasy that we CAN fix it. Our whole society has become about the fix. Every problem has a solution, every hurt can be healed, everything can be fixed.

Basta! said...

Ken in SC, virtually every instance of known autoerotic asphyxiation has involved men, so I suspect that most of those girls were suicides. But hanging! couldn't they find any drugs?

Synova, exactly. The right to a pursuit of happiness has somehow morphed into the perverse and totally unrealistic ideal, that we MUST be happy, at all times, and, if we're not, then it must be fixable, that if we don't expend all this time and effort on trying to "fix" the sorrows natural to human life, we are mean and uncaring, if not outright evil.

Dante said...

don't accept suicide as falling within the libertarian idea that it only hurts the person who is making the choice to commit the act.

That's odd, I don't hold that anyone has a right to others life. If someone is in massive physical pain, with days to live, shouldn't it be their right to kill themselves? Or is the cost of your taking your own life to high for others that you must suffer alone, in agony.

ampersand said...

If someone attempts suicide with pills and ends up drowning while barfing up the pills, does the toilet bowl qualify as a murder weapon?

Gwen said...

I live in South Korea, which has the highest suicide rate in the world according to many sources. The lack of firearms isn't much of a deterrent. From watching the local news, hanging and leaping from buildings seem to be the most frequent methods.

David said...

Would not the same rationale apply to the cities that produce mass murderers? Why not demonize them? Build walls around them. Make them off limits to other, perfect Americans.

egoist said...

Similar to 'the devil made me do it', what do you think of Italy punishing scientist(s) for earthquakes? I think this all can be understood [at least better] after reading The DIM Hypothesis by Leonard Peikoff. I keep finding striking application.

rhhardin said...

If we lived in a smaller country, the population would be small enough so there weren't any gun deaths.

Then guns wouldn't be a problem.

Think of your neighborhood as that small country.

Guns are safe in your neighborhood. That's how you judge risk, before TV brought the entire US population into your backyard for ratings.

There would be lots of small countries. A few of them would have huge paranoia about guns and insane gun laws, but that nonsense wouldn't take over the landscape. Insanity would stay local here and there.

Segesta said...

Wait, I thought according to the Democrats, America itself was the devil. Or global warming? I know: Dick Cheney.

Every religion picks its own Entity of Evil, even those who aren't religious.

Big Mike said...

Getting back on topic, I understand that the gun-death statistics includes criminals shot to death in self-defense.

I wonder what happens to the numbers when one deletes suicides, people killed in self-defense, and inner city violence?

Kirk Parker said...

Big Mike,

Better then Belgium iirc.

Unknown said...

"I thought we had a right to die...."

Only when you become a burden to the "society". Not only do you have a right to die, you have an obligation to die.