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Principle of Inclusion

by apotheon (Deacon)
on May 18, 2006 at 17:18 UTC ( #550296=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

This may or may not be off-topic. It does involve Perl, at least peripherally, though.

Not long ago, I found myself telling someone "People who live in houses made of Windows shouldn't throw stones." The follow-on to that, of course, was my statement that "I'm glad Linux was built from reinforced concrete."

In relating this to another audience, being inordinately impressed with my own cleverness, I got this response from Sterling "Chip" Camden: "So you only have to avoid throwing jackhammers."

Being the contemplative sort that I am, I found myself considering that statement as it relates to concrete (pun intended) reality. I noted that Linux seems to come with the software equivalent of tools like jackhammers (and backhoes and water saws and every other frighteningly powerful industrial tool out there), while Windows mostly seems to come with pebbles. As I considered it in more depth, I realized that this correlation of included tools' destructive ability to the power and flexibility of the system seems to bear out across other OSes as well, and even into other realms.

Two other realms in particular to which I've applied the concept conceptually are the sociopolitical and programming languages. Most of you will have heard Perl called the "Swiss Army Chainsaw" of programming languages, of course: if you're not careful, you could easily saw off your own leg, to say nothing of the fact that it's ugly and noisy and belches noxious fumes while you're using it, but that all provides a great deal of versatility and power that is rare in other languages. What it really boils down to, as far as I can tell, is this: By providing the tools, you empower those who know how to use them to do great things. Those who are both incompetent to use such tools effectively and too irresponsible to avoid dangerous tools when they should do so become victims of their own willful ignorance. It requires a little bit of willingness to take responsibility for one's own actions to avoid being a menace, but when others who have that sense of responsibility have the same tools they provide sort of an insulating layer against the behavior of the irresponsible few, and the system as a whole is strengthened.

There was a lot more thought going into this than the above, but that's kind of a summary of some of the important stuff. Ultimately, I distilled the whole thought process into what I call

Perrin's Principle of Inclusion:

The strength of any system is directly proportional to the
power of the tools it provides for the general public.

I guess it's sort of an answer to (for instance) the Perl-dismissers amongst the Java crowd who complain about how "dangerous" Perl can be. The answer is that the language is merely powerful and flexible; it's the programmer who can be dangerous. Allowing the programmer that power and flexibility is a net win, however, because of what I (hubristically) called Perrin's Principle of Inclusion.

print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
- apotheon
CopyWrite Chad Perrin

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Principle of Inclusion
by sub_chick (Hermit) on May 18, 2006 at 18:06 UTC
    I enjoyed reading your "Principle of Inclusion" and its explanation. Just a couple of days ago, I had a talk with a C Programmer who displayed his dislike of Perl. When I asked 'Why?', he replied, "Because it's a programming language made to be very loose and flexible and therefore very vulnerable."
    I then explained the TMTOWTDI viewpoint and itsflexiblity in hopes that was the reason why he called Perl "loose". He eventually saw the light and realized that its based solely on the programmer's skills and experience. Lastly, he decided to give Perl another try and actually READ books and manuals this time around.

    Es gibt mehr im Leben als Bücher, weißt du. Aber nicht viel mehr. - (Die Smiths)"

      C Programmer .. it's a programming language made to be very loose and flexible and therefore very vulnerable.

      pot meet kettle ... kettle, pot

      -derby

      Has he gotten around to reading said books yet? Is there progress? Enquiring minds want to know — or, at least, I do.

      print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
      - apotheon
      CopyWrite Chad Perrin

Re: Principle of Inclusion
by BrowserUk (Pope) on May 18, 2006 at 20:55 UTC
    Actually . . . there's statistical evidence to suggest that more lax firearms laws lead to reduced violent crime rates

    In 2001, the USA suffered 29,573 deaths by gunshot from a total population of 285,317,572.

    In 2001, the UK suffered 167 deaths by gunshot from a total population of 58,789,194.

    In 2000, 75,685 people were treated for non-fatal gunshot injuries in the USA.

    In 2000, 102 people were treated for non-fatal gonshot injuries in the UK (England and Wales).

    You might *feel* you are safer due to your right to bear arms, but you aren't.

    And your feeling about OSs is equally coloured by what you want to believe, rather than reality.


    Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
    Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
    "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
    In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
      Do many people care what method/instrument was used to murder them? Wouldn't a better statistic be the overall murder rate?
      • United States  --     0.042802  per 1,000 people
      • United Kingdom --     0.0140633 per 1,000 people

        Do many people care what method/instrument was used to murder them?

        Depends how much the process hurt and if there is an afterlife

        Cheers,
        R.

        Pereant, qui ante nos nostra dixerunt!
      In 2001, the USA suffered 29,573 deaths by gunshot
      Can you please provide the source for your data? The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program lists 8890 murders by firearms. And it looks like there were 14758 firearm suicides in 2001.

      Thanks.

        Gun deaths in USA 2001


        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
        Personally, I'm not worried about criminals with guns, I'm worried about idiots with guns.

        From your cdc link: "and an estimated 29,721,821 persons with nonfatal injuries...27,551,362 (92.7%) were unintentional"

      Your gunshot statistics are almost useless. A single variable in a vacuum proves very little. How many gunshots were inflicted in self-defense? How many would-be violent offenders were stopped by the brandishing or use of a firearm? How many of those gunshot wounds and deaths would have occurred anyway, by other means?

      Useful statistics include stuff like these, from Kennesaw, GA, which enacted a law in 1982 requiring heads of households to maintain a firearm:

      • Total Part 1 crimes (consisting of "violent crimes" plus Burglary, Larceny, Auto Theft, and Arson) have dropped from an absolute number of incidences of 228 in 1981 (the year before the ordinance was passed) to 165 in 1982.
      • Total Part 1 crimes reached 227 in 1998, which is still lower than pre-ordinance figures and constitutes a rough decrease of 72% by population density — an even lower per capita crime rate than in 1982 — due in part to explosive population growth in the area (normally associated with increasing crime rates).
      • Burglaries dropped from 54 in ’81 to 35 in ’82.
      • Only one more burglary occurred in 1998 than in 1982, which means that there was a decrease in the incidence of burglaries in Kennesaw of 81.6% by population density.
      • Since the institution of Section 34-1, not one accidental firearms-related death of a child has been reported in Kennesaw.
      • In the period between 1982 and 1998 only two murders were committed, both with knives.

      Similarly, the increased relaxing of concealed carry permit issuing regulations in Florida has seen a decrease in crime rates. In 1987, a law was signed by the Governor making it possible for anyone statewide to get a concealed carry permit after a fingerprint-based background check — no "demonstration of need" or other California-esque restrictions existed. Before the law, Floridians were about 36 times more likely to be murdered than Americans on average. After it, comparative murder rates have dropped to below national averages.

      By contrast, California has a per-county policy, similar to (but slighlty less onerous than) Minnesota's. In a study performed by David Kopel and Clayton Cramer, it was found that more liberal concealed carry permit issue policies had notably lower average crime rates than those with more restrictive policies. Meanwhile, those with restrictive policies likewise had notably lower crime rates than those that generally prohibited concealed carry altogether.

      A study conducted by University of Chicago law professor John Lott and David Mustard, examining crime statistics for more than 3,000 counties, found that rural communities with changing gun control laws experienced little or no variation in crime rates in general, but urban communities experienced substantial declines in robbery, homicide, and other violent crime rates where concealed carry permit issue policies were made more permissive. Non-confrontational crimes such as larceny and (non-carjacking) auto theft increased in frequency in some counties, however — indicating a notable preference for criminals to avoid confronting a potentially armed victim.

      As of 1992, Lott and Mustard estimated, based on their statistical data, that a nationwide adoption of concealed carry permit issuing policies would result in 1800 fewer murders and 3000 fewer rapes annually. This seems to be borne out by the fact that between 1992 and 1996 more than a dozen states started issuing concealed carry permits, and national murder rates declined. While concealed carry permit issuance is likely not the only factor contributing to that decline, it seems doubtful that it didn't contribute at all.

      A study conducted by Psychology Today determined that, of "good Samaritans" who came to the aid of victims of violent crimes, 81 percent were gun owners and many carried firearms in their vehicles or on their persons.

      Damn right I feel safer due to legal protections of my right to keep and bear arms. I feel safer because I am safer.

      print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
      - apotheon
      CopyWrite Chad Perrin

        That you think that your quoted statistic for one abberant town representing 0.01% of the population of the USA is more relevant than the total fatalities and injuries speaks volumes. For comparison, my home town is roughly the same size, and has had no incidence of a death, injury or incident involving a firearm (other than airguns), in recorded history going back some 80 years.

        That you seek to make fine distinctions as to the circumstances of a particular death or injury speaks volumes more.

        Another interesting statistic. The UK total of 2270 deaths from firearms injuries in the tens years between 1994 and 2003 compares favourably with the number of deaths of people 19 and under in the USA for the year 2001 alone--2973 include 66 homicides of children under 4 years old.

        Of course you are right. My statistic is flawed. There is no way to compare incidence of injury due to firearms between the USA and the UK. With so many fewer guns per head of population, of course there will be less injuries as a result of them.


        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

        Every time I see this argument I think of a quote attributed to Mark Twain: "There's lies, damned lies, and statistics."

        Within the US the states in the Northeast have lower overall and violent crime rates than states in the South and Southwest. They also tend to have more stringent gun ownership laws. (incidentally, where I live, a pistol permit is a permit to carry a concealed weapon; with fairly few exceptions -- such as police forces and specifically authorized groups, such as Amtrak's police, security guards at defense contractors, and some campus police departments -- carrying a pistol openly is illegal)

        The states with higher tax rates also tend to have lower violent crime rates(Massachusetts has a lower crime rate than Texas or Florida). (see, for information http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/.

        Correlation doesn't prove causality; drops in crime statistics can be due to many factors (including the police cooking the books) which have absolutely nothing to do with gun ownership laws or tax rates.

        emc

        "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
        —G. Steele
        Apologies in advance for continuing to drag this thread off-topic, but I feel compelled to respond to this:

        Useful statistics include stuff like these, from Kennesaw, GA, which enacted a law in 1982 requiring heads of households to maintain a firearm

        Personally, I find that extremely disturbing. In my view, any society that has to resort to requiring their citizens to maintain firearms is in a very sad state indeed.

        You can quote all the statistics you like, but this is most definitely a society I would not want to live in.

        And, isn't there a law in the US that protects the right of all individuals to bear firearms? If that's the case, then surely the converse must be true - that is, shouldn't individuals be free to choose to not carry firearms? Doesn't the above law make a mockery of that?

        In the country where I live, it's almost impossible to find a civilian with a firearm. Whether or not the law here allows it I don't really know. I suspect that it doesn't, however I believe that (here, at least) the law is irrelevant. People choose not to carry firearms because:

        • a) they have no desire to, and
        • b) they feel no need to

        And that makes me feel pretty comfortable living here.

        Cheers,
        Darren :)

        Damn right I feel safer due to legal protections of my right to keep and bear arms. I feel safer because I am safer.

        The US is full of people who are raised on the principle of "might makes right". It's endemic in their view on capitalism, world culture, sports, and just about everything else.

        Gun culture is just another ugly facet of this. In some countries, most people aren't going to kill you if you show weakness; and since most people aren't criminals, the trick is to find the violent, antisocial wingnuts who want to shoot others, kill and or deport them, and leave society safe for those who aren't planning to kill or attack others.

        In the US, this doesn't work, as it's traditionally where the violent wing-nuts got sent, and so many of the people in the country *are* trying to trick you, hurt you, steal from you, or mug you, and the nice, honest, polite, and non-violent people are the exceptions to the rule.

        Just understand that the US is an anomoly, and you'll get why the rest of the world is so horrified by gun culture, and why they think it doesn't make life any safer.

Re: Principle of Inclusion
by TedYoung (Deacon) on May 18, 2006 at 17:42 UTC

    Added Note: Sorry, I didn't want to start a debate on gun control and end way OT. I was only making a joke about using a gun for day-to-day things like opening a can of soda. I was just exaggerating and being silly, not expressing any particular oppinion or datum.

    Good thoughts! This reminds me of guns. Guns don't kill people, people do. But, there are many people who use guns regularly (i.e. turning the TV on and off without getting up or opening a can of soda) without injuring anyone. Getting rid of the guns might help with the crime rate, but it will make those day-to-day tasks harder.

    Seriously though, I remember the day when software came with one to two inch thick manuals. There was an expectation that the user would read it before using the software. Nowadays, people think they should be able to sit down with something they have never used before and be instantly productive. Perl has a really thick manual. Those that choose not to read it, do so at their own risk. Those of us that do, reap the benefits.

    Update: fixed some speeling erors.

    Ted Young

    ($$<<$$=>$$<=>$$<=$$>>$$) always returns 1. :-)

      Actually . . . there's statistical evidence to suggest that more lax firearms laws lead to reduced violent crime rates. Check crime rate statistics for Kennesaw, GA when it instituted a local ordinance requiring that every head of household maintain a firearm back in the early '80s, and for the state of Florida when it instituted its "shall issue" policy for concealed carry permits.

      Violent offenders tend to be more afraid of private citizens with guns than the police. "Getting rid of guns" doesn't seem to help with the crime rate at all.

      As for the rest of your post, I like your observations, and tend to agree. Thanks for the kudos commentary.

      edit: Please ignore my bizarre term substitution. I don't know why my fingers decided to type "kudos".

      print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
      - apotheon
      CopyWrite Chad Perrin

Re: Principle of Inclusion
by Anonymous Monk on May 18, 2006 at 17:57 UTC
    Most of you will have heard Perl called the "Swiss Army Chainsaw" of programming languages, of course: if you're not careful, you could easily saw off your own leg, to say nothing of the fact that it's ugly and noisy and belches noxious fumes while you're using it, but that all provides a great deal of versatility and power that is rare in other languages.

    And yet, many professional carpenters prefer tools with guards, guides, cutoff switches, and other niceties over an unguided chainsaw. They prefer CRC milling machines over an expert artisan standing over a dremel tool all day, even though configuring the CRC machine sometimes has a long and painstaking setup and test process. Flexiblity is not the only good; although it is what's good about Perl.

    I think Perl is less like a chainsaw than a jigsaw with the ultimate cutting blade; it will cut through just about anything, including chewing up just about any guide you put on it, unless you're painstakingly careful about how you reign it in.

    Perl is good for flexible, freehand work. It's not a substitute for a bandsaw, drillpress, or lathe. It's much better tool for artists than for craftsmen.

Re: Principle of Inclusion
by Anonymous Monk on May 18, 2006 at 22:07 UTC
    if you're not careful, you could easily saw off your own leg, to say nothing of the fact that it's ugly and noisy and belches noxious fumes while you're using it, but that all provides a great deal of versatility and power that is rare in other languages.
    Could you clarify what you mean by "versatility and power"? Or maybe quantify what "rare" means. In the following list of languages, which are less versatile and less powerful...
    1. Python
    2. Ruby
    3. Lua
    4. Smalltalk
    5. Haskell
    6. ML
    7. Common Lisp
    8. Scheme
    9. Java
    10. C++
    11. C#
    12. Prolog
    13. Icon
    14. Erlang
    15. Rebol
    16. PHP
    17. JavaScript

      Sorry about the tardy reply. I was actually thinking about how to put my thoughts on the matter into words in the intervening period. The intent I tried to convey seemed so obvious from my perspective that I had to reorient a bit to see what needed to be explained. My failing, not yours.

      Basically, I'm not saying that languages having versatility and power (like Perl's) is necessarily rare. Rather, I'm saying that the sort of versatility and power you get with Perl (as opposed to types of versatility and power you don't get with Perl, like Ruby's excellent object model and the full range of Lisp macro capability) is generally rare in other languages. Language features like proper lexical closures (my favorite Perl toy these days) are not widely accessible in many other languages.

      Besides, there are a few languages out there that I wouldn't really call particularly "versatile" or "powerful" except within very narrow ranges of use, such as PHP, Javascript, and QBASIC.

      print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
      - apotheon
      CopyWrite Chad Perrin

Re: Principle of Inclusion
by swampyankee (Parson) on May 21, 2006 at 22:53 UTC

    Perl is powerful. So is VB, which is neither here nor there: any significantly useful programming language will give you quite enough rope to accidentally or deliberately hang yourself. Perl probably makes auto-hanging a tad more difficult than does C (or C++); some of the OO languages (Smalltalk, Eiffel) and functional languages (Haskell) probably make it more difficult still. A robust O/S -- and Windows is more robust than some people give it credit for being -- makes it more difficult for a language to hang random people in the neighborhood. Where Windows fails badly in the robustness department is that most users are logged on with administrator privileges; Windows (even XP) seems culturally wedded to the idea of being a single-user O/S. Non-administrative accounts are frequently unable to install software (any software), fonts, burn CD's, etc, which means that non-administrative accounts are too restricted to do much more than run Office and IE. The solution? Give them administrative privileges. Brilliant. It doesn't matter if the walls are reinforced concrete or papier maché when the doors are left open. This is where *ix descendants are clearly superior: Windows seems largely rooted in its past as an isolated, single user system; the *ix descendants evolved from a multi-user system.

    emc

    "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
    —G. Steele

      Please define "robust" in terms of OSes for me without making reference to whether a given OS has a multi-user architecture. I would like to have a better idea of what, specifically, you mean by "robust" in this context. Is robustness, for you, simply a design that helps keep the user from shooting himself in the foot?

      print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
      - apotheon
      CopyWrite Chad Perrin

        Well, keeping users from stomping all over other users' processes or critical system processes is certainly a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for being robust. I would also include the ability to prevent badly written apps from doing the same thing. After all, it's not the user's fault if an app has a memory leak or randomly sucks up every available system resource (I remember an X app -- I think the name was technocron -- which was a graphical depiction of the time of day, which showed the terminator line; it pretty completely wedged the console on Sun, Solaris, Ultrix, or Irix systems, and had to be killed by remotely logging in). Not crashing, regardless of what an app does, is clearly critical. Not corrupting storage in the event of a power failure is critical for desktops; servers and mainframes can be expected to have a UPS, even so, techs have been known to accidently disconnect power.

        My current list of robust O/S? Beware, I do not work with most of these currently. In the desktop world, FreeBSD and its close relatives (NetBSD, OpenBSD) are probably more robust than Linux. Any of the current commercial *ixen would fit my criteria for robustness. Tandem's non-stop O/S. VMS and possibly OpenVMS (both, alas, nearly defunct), and the IBM mainframe O/S, with VM probably superior to the MVS offspring. Properly configured Windows NT and XP are reasonably robust; although their security features are usually crippled by the tendency for users normally operate with adminstrator privileges or as administrators. In the non-robust arena, some older Max O/S (before they went to a BSD core) had some problems (my sister's pretty much spontaneously destroyed some critical O/S files), Windows 9x (with 95 worse than 98) and ME. Windows 3.1 and before quite fragile.


        grammar correction

        emc

        "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
        —G. Steele
Re: Principle of Inclusion
by TedPride (Priest) on May 19, 2006 at 10:47 UTC
    You're perfectly free to not carry a gun if you don't want to, and I don't carry a gun myself (the area where I live is relatively safe), but considering the right to bear arms is specifically stated in the United States Constitution, and that the statistics show a sharp decline in crime across all categories when concealed gun carry is allowed, it's a matter of principle to help defend that right for anyone who -does- want to carry a gun. Think about it for a second. How many of the evil-horrible-guns-must-be-stopped school shootings were done using legal weapons? How far do you think those killers would have gotten if the teachers were all carrying?

    Also, since virtually all violent confrontations happen at short range, removing guns from the equation entirely just means that the bigger, stronger, more experienced attacker has all the advantages. A kitchen knife or baseball bat can kill you just as dead as a gun (in fact, I read an article some time ago about doctors considering -knife- safety...) The object of guns is to make everyone, even the weakest old lady, as strong as the strongest attacker, thus either deterring criminals or giving the people being attacked at least an equal chance at survival.

    (Caveats: Never point your gun at something you're not willing to kill. Never fire without aiming first. If you're not sure if you can use your gun in combat, don't carry one.)

      The object of guns is to make everyone, even the weakest old lady, as strong as the strongest attacker, thus either deterring criminals or giving the people being attacked at least an equal chance at survival.

      You clearly ignore the art of Gun fu.

      Also, since virtually all violent confrontations happen at short range, removing guns from the equation entirely just means that the bigger, stronger, more experienced attacker has all the advantages. A kitchen knife or baseball bat can kill you just as dead as a gun (in fact, I read an article some time ago about doctors considering -knife- safety...)

      No, the police, who retain the guns, have the real advantage. It's harder to kill someone with a knife or a club than a gun; a defender has some viable defenses against hand weapons, including the obvious one: "Keep your distance from psychos who carry knives or bloodstained baseball bats around in public, and discretely call the police when you see someone carrying an illegal weapon".

      The object of guns is to make everyone, even the weakest old lady, as strong as the strongest attacker, thus either deterring criminals or giving the people being attacked at least an equal chance at survival.

      Guns favor attack; not defense. It's not impossible to dodge or block a knife attack. You can stop a knife strike by blocking the knife arm, or block with common household items like brooms, glass bottles, pool cues, knitting needles, folding chairs, etc). Same goes for clubs, like bats. But you can't stop bullets, unless you happen to be wearing a bulletproof vest (which are, ironically, illegal in some states!)

      If some wierdo wanders up towards my grandma with a knife or a bat, and acts all threatening towards her, me and all my buddies will beat the crap out of him before he gets near her, and he'll go to jail for assault with a deadly weapon. If he's got a gun, and wants to hurt her for some twisted reason, he'll just blow her away before her shakey hands can even begin to pull the handgun from her purse, shoot me as I draw on him, and then some of my friends may well die to friendly fire as they all unload on the homicidal bastard.

      I'd rather the psycho didn't get a chance to take me and my friends with him when he dies; but that's what raising deadliness threshold can do. Escalation serves only to provide greater violence.

      Ask yourself, would you feel better about your odds of survival if Iran (and every other nation on Earth, including the ones run by total psychos) was armed with nuclear weapons; or if no one had them? And if you don't, why is this military escalation different from the escalation from a society with minimal guns to one full of them?

        No, the police, who retain the guns, have the real advantage.

        Only if they are the only ones with the guns, of course. So that's why they shouldn't be the only ones with the guns.

        It's harder to kill someone with a knife or a club than a gun; a defender has some viable defenses against hand weapons, including the obvious one: "Keep your distance from psychos who carry knives or bloodstained baseball bats around in public, and discretely call the police when you see someone carrying an illegal weapon".

        I cannot reasonably leave the safety of my family up to the police. That would be shirking my responsibility to my family. Police may not be able to do anything, in time or at all, if too busy, or prevented by other problems.

        Guns favor attack; not defense

        False. A gun is an excellent means of defense. A criminal who knows I have a gun is less likely to bother with me, and if he insists on attacking, I can drop him. How many cops have ever shot somebody, versus how often they deter violence by simply having a gun? The ratio is astronomical in favor of guns as a deterrent.

        As George Orwell said:

        ... ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, thanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon--so long as there is no answer to it--gives claws to the weak.

        Note the imagery of "claws to the weak," referencing "common people have a chance." It's not about the people being able to win, but about being able to have a chance: you will be far less likely to shoo away a snarling dog than a happy one, because even though you know you could take that snarling dog in a fight if your life depended on it, you don't want to get scratched and bit.

        So even if you would lose in al all-out fight, the gun still provides a significant deterrent against both criminals and tyrants.

        I'd rather the psycho didn't get a chance to take me and my friends with him when he dies; but that's what raising deadliness threshold can do. Escalation serves only to provide greater violence.

        The psycho will be able to get a gun no matter what. But even if you think we can possibly signifcantly reduce the number of cirminals with guns, we can only do so by taking away the primary defense of the people against the government, and that is unacceptable.

        Ask yourself, would you feel better about your odds of survival if Iran (and every other nation on Earth, including the ones run by total psychos) was armed with nuclear weapons; or if no one had them?

        That's an extremely poor analogy, for one obvious reason, and one reason that should now be obvious in light of Orwell's quote. Firstly, weapons of mass destruction or an entirely different sort of threat. To compare them make no real sense. Second, such weapons are, as Orwell said, tyrannical weapons, and guns are democratic ones.

Re: Principle of Inclusion
by TedPride (Priest) on May 18, 2006 at 20:00 UTC
    I also agree with apotheon. Getting rid of guns doesn't stop crime, since criminals don't bother to apply for permits. All getting rid of guns does is disarm the law-abiding citizens and make them helpless. In point of fact, allowing citizens to carry concealed guns significantly reduces violent crime, since would-be killers and rapists think twice about trying to mug someone if there's a high probability they'll just get shot. Even if they aren't deterred, they won't be committing any more crimes if they're dead, and since 3/4 of all violent crimes are repeat offenses, that should solve at least half of your crime problem right there.

    What's the safest country in the world? Switzerland. Unversal gun ownership :) And any area in the US that allows concealed weapons shows reduced crime levels, so I'm a bit confused how the anti-gun lobby still has a leg to stand on. For that matter, making it illegal to plea-bargain doesn't reduce the number of criminals being convicted or pleading guilty, either (this has been tested - criminals just like to confess) so the whole plea-bargain system is basically there for the convenience of criminals and their defense lawyers. We shouldn't go back to the days of back rooms and rubber hoses, but things are getting a bit ridiculous now.

      Actually, in Switzerland only men who have done their military service and are in the reserves have their military firearm at home, with the ammunition stored separately and sealed and with regular checks on the seals (and I assume harsh penalties if the ammo box was unsealed). So it is not as if in Switzerland anyone and everyone is running around with a firearm or even has easy access to it.

      CountZero

      "If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler." - Conway's Law

        On the other hand, military service is (or at least was until very recently; I seem to remembering hearing that they were debating changing that so they could be a full member of the EU) mandatory, so that's pretty much everyone with a gun. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that if someone tried to invade your home and do violence, and you had a rifle and a sealed box of ammunition handy, you'd break the seal and defend yourself. From the would-be criminal's perspective, the situation is almost identical to that in Kennesaw.

        print substr("Just another Perl hacker", 0, -2);
        - apotheon
        CopyWrite Chad Perrin

      On the subject of Switzerland, a recent BBC article noted a rise in domestic violence ending in murder (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4755143.stm).

      I don't claim that either the BBC's article or TedPride's message accurately reflects the situation in Switzerland. I don't have enough information to make a case either way, I just remembered the article after reading this post and thought the opposite view should also be reflected.

      My personal views are mixed. I grew up in an area with a lot of guns, which were used for hunting. I now live in a place where guns are very restricted, and mostly limited to sporting clubs. I'm inclined to think that there isn't a universal best way, but that it instead depends a lot on the place and the people in it.

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