The Grand Formal Amalgamated American Gun Thread

Continuing the discussion from In the 334 days of 2015, America has seen 351 mass shootings (and counting):

So I’ve been getting sick of the gun threads here lately. I decided to wade into one a little while ago and I decided to skip every single post that was an argument I’d heard before.

I ended up reading the joke posts and that was it. So I’ve come to a shocking conclusion: No one has not heard the arguments. No one has anything new to say about this. Yes, that means you. Personally. I know you think that you’ve got some extra special metaphor/thought experiment/gun-related fish pun that will blow people’s minds. The reality is that it’s going to be a retread of well-established tropes and the only minds it will blow are those of the people who agree with you.

With that, and the incalculable challenges of what I’m about to propose in mind, let’s settle this.

As much as I would like to put this whole matter to rest in favor of the results of a sumo-wrestling match between Wayne LaPierre and John Kerry, I suspect that this will not mollify people.

I want this discussion to be highly formalized. I propose the following rules:


  1. No personal attacks. No veiled personal attacks. No veiled insults, and no insinuation. It’s not because this is fallacious reasoning. “You’re stupid, therefore you are wrong,” is a fallacious argument. “You’re stupid,” is just a potentially provable argument. Mostly, it’s off-topic. We can discuss other commentators relative intelligence in other threads.

  2. No analogies. You are not permitted, for the purposes of this argument, to draw any kind of analogy to prove your point. Again, this isn’t strictly speaking related to fallacious reasoning. Mostly it derails discussion and quickly goes off topic. Suddenly the subject at hand becomes whether the analogy is apt, and all analogies break down at some point. It’s a waste of time, and your brilliant analogy never really was going to convince anyone anyway.

  3. No refutation of others’ citations, without evidence to the exact contrary. You have to accept the facts and figures of any organization, researcher, or group not directly linked to a commentator. You can argue with an interpretation of statistics, but you may not claim that they were fabricated. This avoids a lot of wasted time. If you have a conflicting study, you must demonstrate that the study is somehow superior, but under no circumstances is researcher or organizational bias to be taken into account. Partly this goes to the ad hominem fallacy. That someone is passionate about a topic does not mean they are wrong about it. In fact, certainty breeds confidence. If I got into a passionate argument about what 2+2 equals, my passionate love of the number four will not mean my research and proof of this fact can be dismissed because of my bias. Another reason for this policy is to avoid lazy armchair dismissal of what is certainly an endeavor that took a lot more money and effort than you sunk into you comment. You’re not allowed to simply wave things off because you don’t like the messenger.

  4. No statistical or scientific citation sourced from any major news organization. You can link to a news story about a study done by someone else, but news organizations suck at controlled studies and surveys as a general rule. Think about how often they throw something up where in the corner it states, “Not a scientific poll.” They are journalists, cite their stories, not their research.

  5. No personal anecdotes. I don’t care about you.

  6. No allegations or assertions of mental illness unless diagnosed by a qualified medical expert. (And no, not an expert on television who performed a distance diagnosis.) I think that’s an impeccably fair standard for diagnosis. Also, don’t assert that mental illness made anyone do anything without evidence that the action was directly controlled by the mental state. (Basically, if they can’t get a positive verdict with an insanity plea, we as a society decided they are culpable based on the standards for culpability in relation to mental illness.) This avoids extensive navel-gazing about whether or not someone was, or wasn’t, or could, maybe, possibly, likely, at some point, maybe presently but not before, be mentally ill. Frankly, you’re not a doctor, and if you are a doctor, you didn’t examine them.


  1. Define your priorities for society; the broader the better. In a debate like this, it really comes down to what kinds of sacrifices you’re willing to make. If your priorities are “I don’t care how many people die as long as I can own guns,” then you don’t belong here. Seriously, what are you going to argue? Conversely, if your argument is “No one can or should own guns under any circumstance, because not one death is acceptable,” then you don’t belong here either. There is no debate to be had with these priorities. There’s literally nothing to argue. You have to state clearly what you consider acceptable. I recommend this be done in bold font, and any change in position also be done in bold font. You are not allowed to change your position on your priorities without stating so clearly and directly.

  2. Leave the thread if you’re starting to get mad, frustrated, or angry. Drink some tea, read a book, pick lint out of your belly-button. Whatever relaxes you. Until you’ve calmed down, you don’t belong here.

  3. Link that shit. Don’t just say, “a study found this, this, and this,” without linking directly to it if possible, even if it’s paywalled. You can certainly link to both a news story and the article if possible. Some of us have access to these resources and would like to read the whole thing instead FoNNBC News’s laziest summary.

  4. Argue in good faith beyond reproach. Honesty is the best policy. If you know you were wrong about something, admit it. It doesn’t mean your whole position is demolished, and digging yourself into a deeper hole is often a lot worse for your argument than you realize. Of course, if you don’t know you’re wrong about something, this is impossible, but give it some effort.

  5. Segregate opinion and personal history from argument. Sometimes I like to read about how people formed an opinion, or changed their mind. This history is never relevant to the strength of their argument, but it can be helpful to see where someone is coming from. This is a half-exception to the personal anecdote rule. Since this is extraneous to the argument, place it in a separate paragraph in italics.

  6. Lead with a strong claim. This is more stylistic, but it is incredibly helpful. Saying, “Guns are bad but some people like them,” is not a strong claim. Saying, “Guns have killed X number of people and there is no alternative now but to place a tracking chip in the genitals of all gun owners,” is a strong claim, and a strong position statement. It has solid points that can be argued with.

  7. Refuse to engage any argument made without sufficient citation. Bearing in mind DON’T #3, you are under no obligation to engage an argument based on an unlinked, uncited statistic or fact. If someone wants to claim X number of people killed by Y proves Z, then X and Y require citation. If nothing else, it keep people from assuming their facts are correct.

  8. Read the damn rules. This includes the BBS Community Guidelines.

#Have at it!


No this, no that. Dude, you just outlawed all the fun. What is this, an academic paper?


It’s secretly a demonstration that everyone is talking out of their ass. Yet somehow everyone is really, really, really, sure they’re right.


Is this the thread where we outline our thoughts and policies and when we get another thread about gun control can just save time by providing a link?

Arguments could then be:



“Haha, I’ll just add #17!”

It would save everyone a lot of time, because we’re sure as hell not changing any minds.


You know, my opinions sometimes change as a result of things I read. Some people call that flip-flopping. Others call it learning.




I think @milliefink took care of that one, but let’s try to keep this SFW.


You talkin to ME?!

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Okay, ready?

We’ve got a lot of different types of people in this Nation and world, and we’re not all going to agree. I don’t think we should HAVE To change everyone.

Instead I think we should have options. I think the birth-Nation lottery is part of the problem. We are all fundamental equal at birth and we are all capable of great or awful things. To take things to another level, it must be a choice, I believe.

What I think we should have is an institution, whether it be a corporation or a governmental one, in which people can choose to join but are held to a higher standard. The intent of the standard is the key (which is to enable people to live productive and happy lives without worrying about other people ruining their day in exchange for them committing to the same).

Within this institution there are a broad set of general principles designed to achieve the above goal, they should not be set in stone and should instead be improved over time as we learn more and gather more evidence.

While in this institution, Dunbar’s Number is not ignored or worked around, it is instead exploited. Any group as small as 42 people can create their own full-featured governmental, economic, and social systems in exchange for useful work coming out of the community. The more heavily customized the better. Nerdtopias for D&D gamers who are allergic to peanuts, Cosplay island for people who are agoraphobic, Peaceful communities of therapists and engineers creating Teddy Bear Herders, Rural farming communities that have social dinners, technocratic groups trying to invent a wearable holodeck, Groups of people living in hobbit homes who also have heavily customized gun ranges where they can shoot down trees with chainguns but don’t have guns for ‘self defense’, whatever works. The only rules are that the general rules must be followed and nobody can be trapped.

Every quarter, people can use an online ‘life builder’ (a RPG character builder, basically) to choose to remain or to move somewhere new. People vote with their feet and groups are competing for people by being more awesome for that particular person than anything else.

That way we leave this mess behind by depopulating it rather than fighting against it. If you need a gun for self defense even when you can choose the people who surround you then it’s not for you, but then you’re not a danger to everyone else when somebody gets drunk and tries to use their key to get into the wrong house…


Has your stance on gun control changed as a result of any discussions online? I’ve found it’s very rare, which is why I’m interested.


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I’ve become more resigned to the whole thing, if that counts.


Ah, the ol’ #12.

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Ditto here. No more trying to convince anyone of anything. Better to fight to let those of us who’d happily not have guns to live far away from those who ‘need’ them.

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Picking belly button lint is very satisfying though. I’ve a particular T-shirt that produces loads. It’s orange, too. Maybe I should go put it on.


Back in the ol’ days of BB, with open world comments, there was much more interaction and opportunity for mind changing. You had all-comers.

I for one evangelise that we should try and change minds.


I’ve honestly giving up on trying to convince people of anything…too exasperating.

I’m busy gearing up a few more skills so I can start a seed company and just sprawl out from there. I can satisfy all the requirements in a co-operative, and I have a very profitable business model and free niche in a particularly messy part of the Private-Public partnership (HP will lose their Healthcare Data Warehouse work within a few years if I have my druthers)

It’s easier to show and not tell, after all…and trying to get past ‘TL;DR’ with anybody who could do more than I could with it was stressful as hell.


Not really, because I knew quite a few hunters before I ever learned what an at-sign was, and they taught me to be pretty moderate. I’m for vigorous regulation, but I think most responsible gun owners are, too.

Well then, I think you’ll find we are right back here again: