Guns

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by [PCE]el_Prez, May 1, 2003.

  1. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    Sander- with regard to suicide rate- there is a widely held belief that many of the people who commit suicide do so because they feel despondent, and that such feelings are treatable in many instances, allowing the person to have a meaningful life.

    But the response to Gwydion- yes, the problems is that guns are a form of easy empowerment. The problem is insecurity among people and that too has an economic cost. Insecurity is wasteful of money. That money could be utilized for higher end, more productive uses. Furthermore, people are willing to use guns for quick profit (through theft or to secure their participation in illegal trades). If you are able to limit their access to guns, then you less willingness to participate in those trades.

    The problem is economic. But Gwydion, I am not against gun ownership per se. I just think it needs higher regulations. Guns are used to kill, that makes them inherently dangerous. That should make them more regulated. Things that are inherently dangerous (like explosives and dangerous wild animals) are usually held to a higher standard.

    One of the arguments about gun regulation is a poor comparison with cars. But ok, lets start there. We regulate cars, we register them each time they are sold. Much of our law of tort has involved the issue of cars, including issues of strict liability. So why not apply similar rules to cars.

    If a gun manufacturer is selling guns to a straw man whom he has reason to suspect is reselling those guns without properly going registration, and those guns later are used for a crime, than he should be liable for what those guns do because he profits from that sale, and indirectly from the sale of weapons. This is not to make the manufacturers liable for every transaction down the line, but rather the next step down the chain of commerce.

    At the same time if a lawful citizen owns a gun and then tires of it, sells it to his friend, then what is the deal with registering that sale with a local state or federal authority?

    This way the hunter still get can his gun, the owner can still have a weapon in his house, and the career criminal will have a harder time getting weapons.

    Cost? yes, but also compare the high ownership of guns in Canada with the low use of guns in homicides. Which is more, the finances used for registration or the savings in the value of lives saved.

    I concede your point, that the cops will never be able to come to scene of a crime before the crime occurs. This is especially true if the cops are eating donuts. I doubt they will ever be able to stop the spouse from killing her cheating spouse who has been using match.com a bit too much. But police can be used to deter crime and those who commit crimes with guns should be held to a higher punishment.

    The long term problems are usually socio-economic. But in the short-term a lot more could be done just by controlling guns and making the punishments for misuse more harsh.
     
  2. Gwydion

    Gwydion Vault Senior Citizen

    May 6, 2003
    Sander, the largest mass-murder of American citizens occurred without a single shot being fired. It is the will of the murderer that makes murders happen, not the tools. The best response is not to ban items that have been used in murders but to address the social problems that lead to this type of crime.

    This is what I don't understand. Guns are already one of the most highly regulated items in America. They're the only American product which requires government approval for each and every retail sale. Anyone who sells guns for a living requires a federal firearms license to conduct business and is required to log every gun that comes in and every gun that goes out, even the guns that are being added to a personal collection. On top of that, they are requiring by law to keep the original copy of the 4473 NICS form from the transaction at the dealership at all times. There are strict laws in place that prevent dealers from even transferring a handgun or handgun ammo to anyone under 21. If my Dad where to drop his handgun off at a dealer to have work done on it, I couldn't even pick the thing up from the dealer legally because of these laws. If you're a felon -- even someone guilty of nonviolent crime -- you can't even hold a gun without committing a crime with a mandatory 5 year sentence. That's also true in many cases of people guilty of misdemeanor crimes like domestic violence, or of people who have restraining orders placed on them, which require no court approval or hearing. If you knowingly let a felon hold a gun even for a second, you've committed a crime.

    You keep saying, "Guns are dangerous, why shouldn't they be more regulated?" but for some reason ignore the fact that they are already regulated, that they are already held to the highest standard. There are probably more laws in this country about guns than any other single item or act.

    Right, let's discuss cars for a minute. You know, some people make the statement that cars are more heavily regulated than guns, and others even claim that guns should be as regulated as to cars. Neither of those statements really makes sense, though. After all, retail car sales don't require background checks, age verifcation, proof of insurance or proof of license, and they don't have to be registered immediately or at all if you don't use the car on public property. Sure, if you're going to operate the car on public roads than you need to have a license, it needs to be registered, and you need to have insurance, but there's no enforcement of that at all until you've already been in an accident. Cars are a very poor example of that point, because there's no attempt to enforce any of these laws before the fact. Even though cars are possibly as dangerous as guns, they're regulated far more loosely.

    And, of course, cars certainly are dangerous. Remember that recent case of the old man that drove his car through the crowd of people. I guess it was supposed to be an accident, but he killed like 10 people in the process. This to me dramatically illustrates two points:

    a) Cars, which are far easier to get than guns, are potentially more dangerous when misused. I mean, when's the last time you've heard of negligent firearms discharge that led to the deaths of 10 people?

    b) The will of the person on the other end of the tool is more important than the tool. What if this had been intentional? What if the old man had "snapped"? In just a few short moments he ended the lives of 10 people and in doing so nearly matched the body counts of some of the most infamous shootings in recent history.

    The Beltway Shooters -- calling these guys "snipers" would be an insult to real marksman -- had the benefit of being on the lam. In fact, the cops weren't even looking for the right people. Remember the whole deal with the two white guys in a white van? How wrong can you be? Despite being persued by cops who didn't even understand what they were looking for, the shooters only managed to kill about 13 people or so.

    Likewise, the Columbine shooters were firing at trapped and panicked people. These people were pretty much defenseless, the cops were even keeping a distance for most of this. Yet they also killed only about a dozen people.

    Not to undermine the tragedy of these two events, this comparison is necessary to understand how dangerous cars can be. If these people don't have guns to turn to, they're still capable of murdering scores of people via other means, like cars. While you push for more gun control, these tools are already easier to obtain than guns.

    Ok, I want to clear up a misunderstanding you seem to have, here. Most manufacturers don't sell directly to consumers. Gun manufacturers sell to people holding federal firearms licenses (FFLs) who then sell to people. Oftentimes, manufacturers sell to distributers holding FFLs, who then sell only to others holding FFLs, the individual dealers or collectors. The people making the sale to straw men aren't manufacturers, they're way down on the chain. Of course, if these dealers suspect that someone is making a straw man purchase, they have every legal right and responsibility to refuse the sale. It's illegal, and reasonably so, to sell a gun to a person you know is going to use it in the commission of a crime. Of course, keeping track of how well these dealers follow the laws is up to the BATFE. That's the whole point of the FFL system. It's unreasonable to expect firearms manufacturers to spend resources on redundant checks that they probably can't even do as thoroughly as the BATFE.

    Why should I have to ask the government permission to sell my private property? I mean, this won't really stop all that many crimes from happening. Straw man purchasers are already breaking the law, they'll simply ignore this law. Forcing NICS checks on private sales is in many ways an unenforceable waste of money, unless of course you're advocating complete firearms registration, which is an entirely different can of worms.

    You don't really believe that, do you? You think a significant number of criminals get guns via private transactions with completely unsuspecting citizens?

    The gun registry in Canada has not been used by the government to solve one crime despite all the money being poured into the product. Not one crime.

    Really? I'm not so sure about that. I believe I've sufficiently illustrated that guns are already the most heavily controlled items in America, additional laws beyond this point wouldn't do a whole lot. Canada's registration nightmare has proven that option to be an expensive long-term, rather than a short-term, issue. Nevermind the issues raised by requiring government permission for sales of private property between citizens, or the fact that gun registration has not yet been proven to be an effective crime-fighting tool. Requiring NICS checks on privately-owned firearms is not worth much without a gun registry system because the only people who will comply will be the law-abiding citizens. Banning more fictional firearms classes like "assault weapons" certainly won't solve the problem because it doesn't take firearms off the streets.

    You know, I cannot see any gun control options that could provide relief to the problem in the short-term. How about you?
     
  3. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    This is one issue I won't argue. The amount of violence is symptomatic of other problems, and these are usually of a socio-economic nature.

    But I think Sanders point is not that a person couldn't commit murder without a gun, but that guns make murder easier. For example, you can kill just as many people with cyanide or a hammer. In one case, all you have to do is deliver the cyanide to unwitting people- easy. But to bludgeon many people with a hammer wouldn't be. But then poison should be regulated and hammers are not.

    Likewise, the point of cars. Yes, it is easy to kill people with a car. That's why cars go through periodic safety, why they have to be registered, why failure to have a registration is a violation, why if you use a car when drunk you are subject to a DWI. So the danger to the public merits comparable regulation.

    Yes, people kill lots of folks without guns, but not nearly as regularly.

    This is what I don't understand. Guns are already one of the most highly regulated items in America.
    You keep saying, "Guns are dangerous, why shouldn't they be more regulated?" but for some reason ignore the fact that they are already regulated, that they are already held to the highest standard. There are probably more laws in this country about guns than any other single item or act.
     
  4. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    Do you really think , Gwydion, that I believe that merely having a gun makes you a murderer? If that were the case, I'd be scared of the cops. No, the problem is that guns make it much much more easier to do such a thing, YES there are other problems to it, however, problems never have ONE cause, they always have multiple causes, and eliminating the gun problem is much easier to do than the socio-economic problem.

    But this is simply a conflict of principles, you cannot argue over principles, it is all a personal choice...
     
  5. Gwydion

    Gwydion Vault Senior Citizen

    May 6, 2003
    But if you don't remove the social problems that make it likely for people to commit these crimes, Sander, than you don't stop people from committing the crimes. If you make guns illegal, criminals will still find ways to get guns and other weapons and only the law-abiding will be disarmed.
     
  6. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    Sander- I have to agree with Gwydion on this one, to some extent. To limit your answer only to controlling guns misses the point. There are reasons why crime occurs and its not merely owning a gun. High crime and crime related fatalities is symptomatic of deeper socio-economic problems. You will probably always have some crime, but the levels are subject to fluctation.

    World Bank studies have recently indicated a strong relationship between income inequality and violent crime.

    If you only target gun control you may sideline the reasons why violent crimes happen, which may be the bigger and more important issue. You have to treat the disease not the symptom.

    On the other hand, ignoring gun control also misses the point too. That violent crimes occur is probably unavoidable. But limiting them or making it harder for violent crimes to happen would help resolves some of the other ailments. Violent crime increases personal insecurity and frustrates economic advancement and civic community. Reducing the number of guns on the streets would help.

    But I don't think Gwydion's main point is not that we shouldn't keep the number of guns out of the hands of criminals, but that we need to protect the right of people to lawfully own guns.

    Frankly, while I sympathize with the argument, I am not wholly convinced of it. Lots of fatalities occur with legally owned guns and citizens aren't using guns just to protect themselves, but are reselling them at profit and occassionally use it in ways they feel are personally justifiable, but which are not.

    Of course, Chris Rock offers an interesting solution. Make not guns illegal but bullets expensive. $10,000 a bullet would put a dent in any criminal use of firearms.
     
  7. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    Where did I say that you should ONLY target gun control, but if there are multiple problems, you must address all of the problems.

    I certainly hope that you didn't think I was as stupid that I thought that gun control would solve everything. It might help, but it certainly won't solve anything.

    Meh, as I said, gun control is a matter of opinions, discussing it won't help, unless you're discussing it with someone who is uneducated on the subject.
     
  8. Choro Ex

    Choro Ex First time out of the vault

    29
    Apr 15, 2003
    Hmmm... Gun Controls. We always talk that at World Guns web site..

    Few weeks ago, a famous Indonesian Lawyer talk, "To prevent crime, we must ban the guns from public!!"
    I said, "Idiots!!!"
    The Indonesian law is very harsh. You could have any gun as long you have money to purchase it, or connection in gov. At about $300 tax per month for Mauser type hunting rifle, hardly ordinary folks could have guns. The price also very expensive. My friend purchased a Sako Valmet .308 semi auto hunting rifle for $5000 (licence not included. That cost another thousand). Even the CO2 Walther CP-99 self defense gun cost 2500!!!
    I knew some one who owns 2 mausers, 1 remington .22, and another hunting gun. Plus suppressor (this thing legal here!!)
    If you owe an illegal arms, you could sentenced for 25 years. Still, I knew someone who got MP5, AK47, M16, M4, Colt Commandos, and Glock 18s in his house, all legals (and all of the Rifles and SMG are "assault" version...)

    Let see the criminals.
    Last month, a president of Indonesian famous company killed in the street. An assassin doing GTA style drive by with an SMG, probably Madsen type or MP5.
    Also the rebels in Aceh somehow got AKs, RPDs and RPGs..... no matter harsh the law. There were also a county here famous for its gunsmith and air gun, but they also made illegal gun.... Some military guy also sells illegal gun.....

    See, how a law could effects the criminals!!! There were no criminals using "legal" firearms!!! And banning the guns from the public won't affect this. Also the bullets. If the bullets is expensive, the criminals will also buy illegal bullets. Bullets are easy to made and the case easy to reloads and if you knew someone in the Army, you could get plenty of its!!! That's no secret!! Few month ago, someone stole 60.000 rounds from an Army Depot. Fortunately, the culprit, an Army Sergeant, captured before he could "distribute" the bullets.

    I didn't owe any firearms, just airguns. My dad, a Colonel, sometimes carry guns to my house. An FN pistols, M16A1s, etc. Sometimes i hunt with my friends with Mausers, or visit museum just to "feel" the old Enfield and Browning... Even I knew several directors at Indonesian Arsenal and Gun Factory, the Pindad, and feels their new Sabhara V1 and SMP-2 Machine Gun (you could check the pictures in my last posts in Air soft thread in this forum) even dissassembles one of them in a police expo.

    Perhaps if i got nuff money, i'll purchase a Lone Eagle pistols or Mausers....
     
  9. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    No offence Chloro Ex, but you really can't compare a country like Indonesia to the more developed nation-states of the US, Europe, etc. You could compare it effectively with Brazil which has a major problem with violent crime and has had little success thus far with crime control. Because this is kind of interesting to me, I am going to respond at length. Hope you don't mind.

    But that's not to say that control of fire arms has been useless. Look at your neighbor across the straights in Singapore where the regulations against guns are very heavy. As I recall, robbery with a fire arm gets you the death sentence, traffic in drugs (if enough) the death sentence, having a part of a weapon illegally (significant jail time). But that didn't stop terrorism or completely end crime. It has made terrorism and crime much more difficult. However, even Singapore doesn't compare with Indonesia. Singapore, with its low unemployment, high levels of growth and high levels of both industrialization and per-capita living is more like a city of Europe than of the region.

    There are problems in Indonesia-
    For one thing Indonesia is porous. It is easy to bring in illegal materials off a ship and drop them off on an island. The islands of Indonesia are notorious for piracy. In Singapore they used to complain that the pirates were often members of the Indonesia navy.

    For another you have significant sessession movements, so Indonesia is a nation-state that is desperately trying to hold on to its territorial integrity. You generally don't see that in Western Europe (Northern Ireland and the Basques not withstanding) where the social groups usually use peaceful means (even if they occassionally threaten violence).

    You have significant inequality in Indonesia, a history of the military being high favored by the state (especially under Suharto) in terms of payments for allegiance, and low quality in terms of military and police capacity. Match that with the desire for many folks to have personal security, middle and upper classes worried about lower class violence- and you have a recipe for a high level of gun ownership in your government.

    Lastly, Indonesia has been suffering some pretty tough times since the Asian Financial Crisis and is going through a difficult transition for a patrimonial state headed by Suharto (who used to say that only a strong man can hold Indonesia together) to a difficult transition towards a more democratic state. The bureaucracy leaves a lot to be desired, and you have high levels of corruption.

    In that sense you are more like Brazil, where many people have lost faith in the state in providing basic security and have elected to do so themselves. At the same time, the weakness of the state (primarily its inability to extract revenue or utilize it capably) allow for criminal and political violence to play a larger role.

    Theoretically that could happen in the US. We have high income inequality, urban areas with lots of violence that don't get the police enforcement that they merit, and occassionally the corruption problems that you have in Brazil or Indonesia. But none of these are on the scale in which you find in other countries.

    But this does point out a couple of things. One- that socio-economic conditions matter. High inequality and low state ability to respond to issues of internal insecurity shift the issue of personal insecurity from the state to society. That's dangerous for everyone.

    One of the primary roles of the state is to maintain internal security, to enforce contracts and adjudicate disputes, and to protect the public. In doing so the state is supposed to provide the public good of basic safety and trust so that people can lead productive lives. You see that a lot in Europe, less so in the US. But the idea of removing the self-help mechanism of conflict resolution (through violence) has been a part of the process of economic growth in virtually all states- developed or developing.

    OF course one of the dangers here is that the state has often been responsible for more deaths in society than society itself in many countries. One argument for keeping people armed is to keep a check on the tyranny of the state. On the otherhand, the institutions of democratic governance should allow the society to restrain the state from its repression and desire for power.

    YOu did not have that in Indonesia which is why Suharto and family got to own parts in all the major business and at the time of Financial Crisis and was considered to be worth net $80 billion at the start of the crisis. When the IMF and World Bank asked that the Suharto deregulate banks and other industry (which were family owned) he balked and delayed. That got the students protesting, and it was end of subsidies on kerosene (which is used by most Indos for cooking) that got the protests going. It is interesting that your current and last presidents were not at the forefront of that movement to oust Suharto but that much of the power came from students and Muslim groups that sought to take away a lot of power from the military.

    The argument that people should not trust the state for police protection and adjudication of disputes and should self-enforce (through access to guns) is therefore a roll-back on role of the state as defender of public safety and the end of self-help. The inability to regulate the flow of guns allows creater use of guns by criminals thus increasing public insecurity within the state, shifting away energy from productive endeavors towards more un-productive means of security seeking.

    For those Weberians- this is why the Protestant Ethic matters (at least according to Weber). It wasn't Protestantism per se, but the regularized commercial interactions that became part of the Protestant life (following one's calling for a career and regular commercial activities based on trust and investment) that shape the beginning of modern rational capitalism.
     
  10. Gwydion

    Gwydion Vault Senior Citizen

    May 6, 2003
    "Do we have a republic or a monarchy?"

    "You have a republic, madam, if you can keep it." -Paraphrased


    Welsh, I feel tired. You know, I'm 19 years old. I fell in love with firearms about three or four years ago by watching the History channel. This channel did not portray guns in any political or social perspective, but rather a romantic historical perspective. I would see a show about the weapons of WWII and hear not just the stories of the development of these firearms, but the stories of men who wielded them. These were more than just well engineered devices of steel and wood, these were artifacts that carried with them powerfully emotional stories of courage, brotherhood, and in sense heroism. I fell in love with those images and ideals. Though I enjoyed studying weapons history and design, at that time the idea of actually taking up shooting as a hobby was something that simply did not occur to me. Of course, it was only a matter of time until I took that road.

    As I began to enter the "gun culture" in my own right, I also entered another world. A convoluted world of politics, emotion, old men, old documents, and even older, God-given rights. I changed from being a moderate who supported many modern liberal programs out of a general sense of good will to being a conservative to finally being what I guess is a libertarian. I am too young and in many ways too weak for these phases to have any real value, so the changes were purely philosophical. The whole of my actions on this issue has been internet discussions. Throughout these discussions, some of which have been with like-minded individuals and others with people who disagree, strong opinions have formed in my mind. I know that every individual has rights. I know that government is formed with powers derived from the people for the sole purpose of serving the people. I know that no modern government fully embraces those ideals. I know that many people don't want government to take that role; many want a government that passes laws because things are scary, because people have gotten hurt, or because some get a raw deal in life.

    As surely as I know those things are true, I know we are losing. I have only to open my eyes to see the course the world is taking. America may well be the most conservative nation on earth, but already it is so, so far away from those incredible ideals expressed by many of the founding fathers of this nation. Within my lifetime, the right to keep and bear arms will no longer exist. It will not happen with one fell stroke, nothing happens that way anymore. Instead, it will be eroded into nothing by thousands of laws and court rulings. Other rights will go with it. Bites will be taken out of them by horrific legislation like the Patriot Act or Total Information Awareness. We may see a time in which we must acquire "Free Speech Licenses", for the general welfare of the people of course. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword, and words can do a great deal of damage. What does it hurt if we have to fill out some forms, pay a fee, and get a little background check before we can post on the internet or publish an article? Honest citizens will still have the right to say what they want, within reason. Heh.

    I have fought a digital battle, welsh. This is just one front. I don't know if guns really have more benefit than they do harm. I don't see how anyone on earth can really be sure of it. As surely as you tell me that guns empower people to commit crime, I can tell you that gun control has not produced significant results in many western nations that have tried it. Great Britain, Canada, and Australia have all experienced crime increases despite their "progressive" firearms legislation. Did you know that the man who inspired Crocodile Dundee is dead because of Australia's gun control? It's not about the right to own a hunting rifle, I don't care about that. It's not even really about self-defense. It's about the right to be a citizen instead of a subject. It's about the idea that government is still answerable to the public. I have right on my side, just as you believe you have right on yours. In the end, it comes down to a verbal battle of attrition, and I'm so tired of it.

    It's all moot anyway. Within my lifetime, the right of the people will be meaningless words on an outdated document penned by idealistic optimists. This just all feels like an exercise in futility now. (As if this idiotic rant didn't have enough cliches)
     
  11. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    ...

    Gwydion, you are a very depressed person if I look at your words, but I have to disagree with you-to a certain extent.

    I agree that freedom is one of man's rights, and taht it should be maintained, I agree that the government shouldn't limit the freedom of people.
    However, I also think that the government should protect people, and in my opinion, guns do more good than bad. Why? Because they empower people to be able to do something more dangerous than there normal crimes. Instead of burglary, they will go to armed robbery, which is more dangerous?
    However, this is just an opinion of mine, there is no use in discussing it with me, nor is there any use in me discussing this with you. Everyone has their opinion, and everyone has a right to those opinions.

    There is a line somewhere between freedom and protection, adn who really knows where that line must be? Noone knows what the right thing is, but everyone tries their best to put that line where in theur opinion it should be. In other words, everyone tries to do what's right.

    That's it, I'm out of this debate now, it has no sense, and I feel that it is dead...
     
  12. Loxley

    Loxley Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    911
    Apr 11, 2003
    I have to laugh of all the people that say that they need guns to keep the gouverment in check. Any dictator that has the intention of staying allways has some backing of the army. Saddam had it and so do others.

    I will come with an historical example. Right after the second gulf war there was a short rebbelion in iraq. the people rebbeled and in short took controll of most of the country, basra and many other citys were controlled by the rebbels who thought they had a chance of sucsess. The saddam sent in tank forces who slaugthered most of the oppostion. He had in other words loyal soldiers behind the best guns, and no hand gun can stop a tank.

    If there should be a dictator in the us, he will have to have the support of the people with the best weapons, that means the army. And how much help is a m-16 against an abrahams tank? It is not any help at all. I doubt however that this is goin to happen in the us since it is such a civil country, and i doubt the army there would fire against it own people. However with the weapons of modern warfare i feel that the original reason that people should have a gun in the us constitution has fallen away and that protection against crime is just an exuse for people that likes guns.
    I like guns too, i have a beatifull shotgun, beretta silver pigeon , wich is probably my most priced possesion. I use it only against birds and one or another fox that sneaks by. purely for hunting purposes. So i do understand that love for guns you have gwyndion, but I also understand how easy it is to kill with a shotgun. And i will not support people that say that they need it because they love guns, then they should rather get another hobby. I use it for hunting and the training i can get from hunting, pluss i love hunting. But it is so easy to kill with it, one shot from thirty forty meters is lethal for any man if you hit right and has the right shocks in the weapon. And neither is too dififcult to do.
     
  13. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    Gwydion, since your post is more about attitude than guns, than I think it best to respond to that point.

    When I was 19, I too had strong opinions, and again when I was 25, than 30. As I have posted, I am very much involved in a university and most of my students are people of about your age. It's also been a great pleasure to get along with my students, that we are often friends long after classes have finished. As most teachers will say, they learn much from their students, often as much as they teach.

    This thread has forced me to take another look at gun control issues, and I give you a lot of credit for forcing reconsideration and to reexamine the literature. I have used some of this to argue against gun control advocates, although I tend to that side.

    But that's the beauty of all of this, the opportunity to think and to interact, to question oneself and to learn. To be critical and re-examine as well as explore ideas. This fundamental of learning at the university level. In fact, that is the unique opportunity of college- that for a period of years you are not more concerned about making a living, paying bills, etc. But that you have some time just to think about things.

    The great danger to that is being dogmatic- to accept beliefs as fact without testing, with questioning. There are so many folks out there trying to sell you on ideas, and sometimes the ideas seem pretty good. People, especially young adults, are often willing to adopt or seize ideas and make them their own. In the market place of ideas, there are many ready buyers. My advice is not to be a ready buyer, but to question everything.

    There is also the danger that conversation or debate is like war. You win or you lose. If you argue from a position of what you believe, you must dominate and win. Maybe its part of our cultures. But that too is counter-productive.

    Debates should be dialogues, should be about thinking and criticising, about being self-critical and listening too. This is the process of learning.

    As Sander pointed, your message is depressing, especially from one who is really at the beginning of their adult life. But you know, almost everyone has that sense, from time to time. Just like your own views have changed over the past four years, on some things they will continue to change over the next four, and then four again, and on an on. The process is not about reaching an end philosophy, but by questioning and letting your thoughts grow and evolve.

    Don't be fatalistic. The world is not as bad a place as you may believe or have been led to believe. It is a better world in which we live than it was 100 years ago.

    One's perceptions of the world is bound by what you sense and what you believe. In that sense we are all bound in prisons of our own perception. The process of learning is about expanding the horizon of perception outward, to extent to encompass a larger view of the world. This is why learning should be a life time occupation.

    I've enjoyed this interaction a lot. Don't be depressed, its just a debate, and this has been one of the best interactions I have had with a person of your age in a long time.