Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Kai Becker (
Date: Tue Jan 01 2002 - 07:04:16 MST

Am Montag, 31. Dezember 2001 18:49 schrieb Lee Daniel Crocker:
> Your point 3 contradicts your point 1, because you /do/ in fact want the
> policeman to carry a gun, otherwise he will be unprepared to deal with
> the possibly dangerous and violent situation for which you called him.

(1) I don't want the policeman to carry a gun. I want him to clear the
situation. I don't want someone shot dead, I want to drink my beer without
being threatened.

(2) I have explained in another mail why I consider a professional police
officer here (I've also explained the differences in training and
supervision) to be more competent than a wannabe hero with a gun.

(3) Please look at the german crime statistics. German policemen use their
gun very seldom:

Use of firearms by the german police in 1997 (the newest data I found):
   (1) Self-defense or defense of others
       29 uses against things (incl. animals like mad dogs)
       37 uses against persons
   (2) prevention of crimes
       2 uses against things
       12 uses against persons
   (3) prevention of flight of persons under suspicion
       15 uses against things
       10 uses against person
   (4) prevention of flight of prisoners
       1 use.

(, sorry, only in german)

Total: 106 uses, 60 against persons.

In Bavaria, our most right-wing/"law-and-order" state, the secretary of the
Interior, Günther Beckstein, said in 2001: "Thanks to the extensive and
de-escalative training of the Bavarian police, first all other coercives
like the newly introduced pepper-spray are used, while the use of firearms
is only the ultima ratio."[1]

Is de-escalation a part of your concept of self-defense? Do the training
courses for self-defense with firearms in the US emphasize de-escalation
and consider the use of firearms only as ultima ratio? Or are we again at
the point of no-alternatives like in the Afghanistan discussion?

Germany has 80 mio. citizens. Our population density is 250 persons/sq km,
compared to 27 p/sq km in the US and >250 in New York. We have far less
legal weapons here and according to official estimations far less illegal
weapons than in the US. is an
interesting comparison between the legal systems, the prosecution and
justice of the US and Germany.

Once again my question: Can you explain why the crime rates and use of
firearms here is so much lower than in the USA? If it isn't the tech and it
isn't the weapons, what magic is it then?

> You seem to have a typically European bias that somehow the policeman is
> more qualified to "play hero" than other citizens, while the American
> tradition leans more toward self-reliance.

The question of "bias" mostly is a question of whom you ask... IMO, the
"somehow" can indeed be shown by comparing the education and training, but
that's another thread.

> Secondly, how do your feelings deal with the fact that technologies are
> on the horizon that make a handgun seem like a child's toy? The
> "problem" (if there is one) with firearms is no different from any other
> empowering technology: it empowers evil people to do more evil, and good
> people to do more good--but since we fear the former, we restrict the
> technology which ends up limiting the latter. The extropian ideal is to
> create new and better technologies that empower the good guys more, to
> keep ahead of the bad guys, and figure out what causes people to become
> bad guys and deal with that.

(1) What magic will take care, that the "good guys" (who defines "good",
btw?) will always be smarter and have the better tech?

(2) I've tried to shift the topic onto a more sociological level and a more
global perspective, i.e. "figure out what causes people to become 'bad'
guys", but this either ended in "tech will solve everything" (how? why?) or
"don't know, I quit" (the easy escape) or "but handguns are okay" (no real
argument, regardless of no. of repetitions)

In fact, I feel the sheer horror when I think of, e.g. Mike Lorrey define
what's "good" (from his point of view) and go around with a "meme changing
device" to brain wash everyone. No thanks. I don't even want one nation to
define what is "good".

> > I have heard this argument before: "The minorities" are far more
> > violent and criminal than the rest. (I won't discuss prejudices of the
> > police and justice here) It is sad to say that the numbers seem to
> > confirm this theory, in the US as well as here.
> Mike said nothing of the sort, and nothing even remotely resembling this.
> It seems clear to me that you didn't even try to read and understand what
> he did say, and this reflects very poorly on the value of anything you
> might have to say.

Nice but unsubstantial rhetoric. The argument of the "more violent
minorities" came from another author, that's right, I'm sorry. But
incompatible subcultures that lead to burning discos are not a sign of a
peaceful society either.

So, what can we do to come to a peaceful society, not only in the US, but
in the world? If you ask me, it can not be the "<insert your favorite>
culture for everyone", but only a balance of many.


[1] "Es ist der umfangreichen und deeskalativen Aus- und Fortbildung der
Bayerischen Polizei zu verdanken, dass bei Gefahrensituationen zuerst alle
anderen Zwangsmittel, wie z.B. das neu eingeführte Pfefferspray, angewandt
werden und die Schusswaffe nur als Ultima ratio zum Einsatz kommt."

== Kai M. Becker == == Bremen, Germany ==
"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced"

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