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How NOT to Comment on the SlowFacts Blog

April 28, 2013

Nathan Richkind left a comment that is worthy of reply.  He replied to my post called “Sowell Says Guns Save Lives.. or Why Have Them”.

I included select excerpts from Dr. Sowell in the hope of teasing my readers to look at his entire article.  Sowell’s article takes a utilitarian approach.  He comments that the media does not show examples where guns save lives.  In fact, Sowell’s article has that as its title, “Guns Save Lives”.  He argues that we need to get past the media bias of.. ‘if it bleeds, it leads’.. and ask the utilitarian question if guns are a real benefit.  He cites approximate statistics to indicate that guns do safe lives.

Now along comes Nathan with his comment which I give you in full.

“But how many of those people NEEDED an AK-47 or AR-15 to defend themselves? I bet most of those people used a pistol or shotgun. Also, how many of those people would have been turned down from being allowed to buy a gun if a background check was done on them? Also,what “defensive situation” were they using their guns for, specifically. I can’t help but notice that those people “reported using a gun in self-defense” themselves, meaning that they THEMSELVES defined their acts as being in self defense. But people have a nasty tendency to INITIATE conflict and justify it as DEFENSE afterwards to themselves and others…”

Nathan responded with his own speculation rather than fact.  He could easily find out that the AK-47 is a select-fire automatic rifle and requires a federal NFA stamp to purchase.  He could find that new AKs have not been imported for many years.  The AKs are collector’s items in the United States, and AK-47s are not used in self-defense or for crime.  The one exception may be Mexican drug gangs at the southern US border.  It is a trivial web search to find this information.

Mr. Nathan Richkind could also discover the number of people who failed a background check.  He could have compared that to the total number of NICS checks.  He could discover that criminals don’t guy guns through established and regulated dealers.  He didn’t find the original research that polled a random sample of citizens about self-defense.  (I’ve read it and also heard the author lecture on the nature of bias he expects in his results.)  Instead, Richkind offered us his undocumented speculation.. actually he offers us his fantasies about firearms.. with attitude.  Richkind tells us far more about his private fantasies than about the relative incidence rates of armed self-defense and crime.  I don’t think he read either my post or Sowell’s very carefully.  Nathan is not alone.

Chris Keene managed to get treated as spam.  I have to give Chris credit where due because he is one of the first to be banned.  He offered me his opinion, much like Nathan did, though longer and a bit better written.  Since Chris was a first-time commenter, he was put into the queue for approval.  That is the WordPress default action since I get 10 to 20 comments a day that are porn/ credit scams/ Viagra adds.  I explained that to Chris who then tells me that I censored him because he disagrees with me.Modern-Musket

No, Chris.   I treated you as spam because you offered your opinion and insult in a dull way.  If you’re going to insult me, you at least have to make me smile at your cleverness.  If your comment is boring I might not post it.


Rob, the easily bored.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2013 2:19 pm

    Not to be argumentative here Rob, but you can buy semi-auto only versions of the AK. I am not sure if they are legal in California, but there were several on display at the SHOT show. I myself have fired an AK 12 gauge shotgun that is semi-auto in the past few months.

    The rest of your rebuttal is dead on.


    • April 29, 2013 6:41 am

      Hi, Paul. We disagree. You won’t find a semi-auto only version of the AK if you read the history of the AK. The gun you and I could buy over the counter might have the cosmetic features of an AK, but you don’t buy a true AK at the local sporting goods store, not even a Chinese copy. We buy semi-auto clones just as the AR is a semi-auto clone of the M-16. Nothing we are allowed to buy would be fielded by a military force.


      • April 30, 2013 9:36 pm

        The AKs that are available have just about as much to do with what military units use as what the AR-15’s that are available have to do with the M-16, so you are absolutely correct in that, I do concede on that, however many (if not most) of the people who own a semi-auto of something that looks cosmetically like an AK calls it an AK, unlike the clip/magazine references that if you get it wrong will almost instantaneously get the rest of whatever statement was ignored by the pro rights community. Also in the original comment to your post the guy was grouping AKs and ARs together. ARs are absolutely semi auto and are not select fire. We are splitting hairs here though, and I still say that your response was dead on.


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