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Comments on Sunday 28 November 2004:
Annoyingly ambiguous word for today - "prevent". How many arguments have there been about whether gun control 'prevents' gun crimes? And the arguments aren't because anyone has their facts wrong. Nobody who says gun control laws prevent gun crimes thinks that there are no gun crimes in places with gun control laws. Nobody who says gun control laws don't prevent gun crimes thinks that there have been no gun crimes averted by some nutbar somewhere not being legally allowed a gun. So when I say "X prevents Y", do I mean that in the presence of X there can be no Y ("X 100% prevents Y"), or do I mean that some instances of Y are prevented by X ("X prevents Y by more than 0%")? You don't know, and a lot of the time, if I'm a typical arguer, nor do I. Let's have an extended argument about whether the statement is right without figuring that out first! And, on the flip side, let's all let people say either of these unchallenged, when we know someone is going to interpret it as strict even though nobody ever means it that way!

To be fair to the language, it's not the word that causes problems - if people said "X prevents more than 0 instances of Y" and "X doesn't prevent all instances of Y" there would be no argument even though the word 'prevent' is used. So as always, people are to blame. Language doesn't cause stupid arguments, people cause stupid arguments. People using language. And sometimes language that's been left out with the safety off. [10:57]

Digi
To me, "Gun control prevents gun crimes" would be a more accurate statement. My point being that 'gun crime' refers to the existence of gun crime in general, whereas 'gun crimes' refers to two or more such crimes. But anyway, it's still not true; banning guns doesn't *prevent* any gun crimes, it *suppresses the likelyhood* of them happening (arguably).

RavenBlack
If a gun crime would have happened in the absence of a factor, and doesn't when that factor is present, that factor has prevented the gun crime. What you're saying implies that nothing can prevent something without waiting for it to have already started. Like having an impenetrable vault doesn't prevent a bank robbery, only having security guards shoot the people who are robbing the bank prevents a bank robbery.

Stupid American criminals apply for gun permits which require fingerprints, and claim not to have a criminal record when they do. These criminals end up back in jail as a result. I would suggest that each time that happens, that's very likely at least one gun-related crime prevented.

Nameless
This type of language problem is when it's annoying that, in English, you are not forced to specify whether you mean some or all. In french, it would be les [instances of gun-related violence] if it were all and des [instances of gun-related violence]. I think it's the same in most romance langauges. Everyone should speak Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, or that other one that I think is a weird mutt breed of Romanian and Spanish.

Some gun crimes are prevented by gun control. Some gun crimes could be prevented by a nutbar not being allowed a gun.

James
We're very responsible in our use of language. We keep all the really dangerous words locked up in the word cabinet, and teach our children how to use words properly before they're allowed to play with them unsupervised.

James

Paul
Guns kill people like pencils cause misspellings. Every society that has enacted strict gun control laws has had an increase in "gun crime", since very simply criminals prefer an unarmed populace upon which to "feed". Statistics generally show that; 1. Guns in the hands of law abiding citizens prevent crime 600,000 to 2MILLION times every year. The wide range being allowed for the majority that go unreported.
2. 55% of criminals, currently in prison, state that they would EASILY procure another gun upon release, in spite of current regulations.
As the old saying goes: If you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns.
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