And Now a Thought From Justice Scalia

From the 2008 DC v. Heller ruling, written by Scalia, and one of the very few Supreme Court cases to touch on the Second Amendment at all:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Remember: Written by Scalia, i.e., not one of those liberal judicial activists you hear so much about.

There is no constitutional bar to some limitation and regulation of firearms. The real question — the only real question, to my mind — is whether there is the political will for it.

660 Comments on “And Now a Thought From Justice Scalia”

  1. The usual “be nice to each other/argue facts not personalities/don’t make me Mallet you because I will” caveats apply here. Seriously people, it’s the weekend. Don’t tie me to the computer for the next two days watching this thread just because you can’t be rational or pleasant on this particular subject. Thank you.

  2. I don’t want to get into talking points about guns, but, rather, can see issues relating to mental health, stigmatization, and extrapolating a future where Threat Assessment has replaced Profiling.

    Statistically speaking, if nothing changed, for any given school, there would be far fewer than one shooting in a thousand years

    Science Fiction people might be well-equipped to discuss cost-benefit analysis of the public policy transition towards better access to mental health treatment, without stigmatization, and the “If you see something, say something” step of Threat Analysis, which can become a problem itself taken to extremes.

    “Statistically speaking” does not help much if you’re a mom of a shot child. However, probability is part of the risk-benefit calculation that each parent, each school, each school district, county, or state must make.

  3. I would turn in every gun I own if I thought it would stop these atrocities. No hobby is worth a child’s life. Unfortunately lookng through history people will find ways. Look at the Bath Highschool bombing in the early 1900s. Drugs are illegal and yet readilly available on the street. Guns would be no different. I don’t know what the solution is. I wish I did.

  4. Too bad he doesn’t remember his own words. He has consistently ruled against gun controls and once speculated that a rocket launcher could be privately owned.

  5. I think a lot of people who feel their position is under attack often dig themselves into an entrenched position, for fear of the “slippery slope”. I see this in so many arguments (deliberately not using the word discussion because that would be inaccurate) over a wide range of issues, not just gun control/rights.

    I’m on the verge of losing one of my sons, so I really feel for those parents in CT. I just hope this tragedy spurs real discussion rather than sending everyone more vehemently into their respective corners.

  6. That may be what he said then but recent signs points to him lately getting a case of Obama Derangement Syndrome.Who knows how he’d rule now? I’m not against ownership per se, I used guns in compeition while in Boy Scouts. We just need sensible gun laws.

  7. In a free society, horrible events will happen every once in a while. In an unfree society, horrible events will happen all the time.

    It is therefore a mistake to use horrible events as an excuse to move from a free to an unfree society.

    We (the American people) are very predictable when these things happen, because we believe in action when things go wrong. This can be a virtue at times, but in cases like this, there’s nothing we can do to bring those poor kids back, and there’s little we can do to stop something like this from happening again. But we can’t accept this fact, so we always pass more laws, tighten security, put more signs up on campuses saying “No Guns Allowed!”, and so forth, even though they do nothing.

    The school where this tragedy took place, they had *just implemented* new security protocols to prevent exactly this event from happening (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/12/14/newtown-conn-school-district-had-recently-installed-new-safety-protocols/).

    But we can’t accept that. We’re Americans. We fix things.

    So we’re going to go through another round of meaningless kabuki to convince ourselves that we’ve done something that made a difference.

  8. Bruce Diamond – Flyover Land on the teeming Mississippi River – Despicably proud old man. Text-extruding asshole (thank you, John Scalzi) with a skewed vision on life, pop culture, writing and general assholiness. Not a scholar, not a gentleman, not Martin or Lewis. But still trying to make life fun and funny.
    Bruce Diamond

    Why do I expect a certain VD contingent to come stomping all over everything in their stormtrooper boots?

  9. FYI, I have been a gun rights proponent for as long as I can remember. I was raised around guns, they have been a hobby and a sport I have always persued, but as I tucked my kids into bed last night I had a realization that for me personally that has changed forever.

  10. There seems to be a perception out there that guns and gun ownership is not currently limited or regulated.

    There’s the additional perception more laws would make “the problem” go away, or as some advocate “limit the damage”. Most laws are not aimed at prevention, but at punishing those who transgress them . . . by definition, an admission the laws will not prevent said transgressions.

    I would point to drug laws, alcohol regulations, or any existing laws as examples, but the counter argument (usually without justification) is “not the same”. Right . . . bash away.

  11. The ongoing argument gets depressing.
    The Liberal left will call for a ban on all guns.
    The Right Wing NRA will declare that if only the 5 year olds had ben armed…….
    And in the end (to quote the Beatles)
    Nothing will be done and we’ll all reset and wait for the next atrocity.
    I believe that we’ve reached the point in this country where we will just have to accept that in this country there are mentally ill people that will have access to high capacity semi-automatic weapons and that’s just the way it is.

  12. I don’t honestly know how this particular post is germane, John. If the guy had gone in all Tactical Teddy with a battle rifle or something, then the “sane and sensible limits on weapons” argument would be a great one. But this unspeakable human-shaped sack of shit seems to have just used a pair of normal handguns according to the report. Nothing fully automatic, nothing with exceptionally high-capacity magazines; just normal, modern handguns and a hopelessly up-fucked brain.

    I honestly don’t know what kind of solution there could be. Hell, I’ve lived almost all my life in the UK where after Dunblane and Hungerford, pretty much all guns were banned, everywhere. It doesn’t stop crazy people being stupid and murderous.

    I think this is more a societal issue, where “crazy” means “get this person help” rather than “take all their things away and lock them in a rubber room”, more than it is “No more than four bullets in a magazine and you can’t buy more than 20 bullets at once” or any other bit of pointless legislation.

    In principal, I agree: As much as I want a Gatling gun, there’s no real reason for me to have one. In the instance of this atrocity, I’m not sure what you’re saying.

  13. I’d just point out, in 2009, there were 9146 murders by firearms in the US. And 39 in England. (Adjusting for population difference would make that 159.) I don’t really see any use for handguns. The given one seems to be self-defense, but it’s pretty well established that a household with a handgun in it is far more likely to suffer a handgun related death than the ones without.

    I think at its core, the problem is cultural, and I’m not sure how you change the cultur.

  14. “In an unfree society, horrible events will happen all the time.”

    This is the world we live in. You can define for yourself how free we are, but the facts confirm that horrible events do happen all the time. In 2009, 16,799 people were killed with guns. That’s 46 people, every day, many of them not much older than the ones killed yesterday. The attention of American society seems to lock in on large-scale tragedies while ignoring the creeping normalcy transforming our streets every day. Our nation doesn’t need more gun control to prevent these “once in a while” events. Let’s do some A/B testing, and test the theory that Americans would be just as homicidal if they couldn’t easily obtain projectile weapons.

  15. Wasn’t there already a gun ban in effect in the public school system in Connecticut? Doesn’t that sort of emphasize that for people intent on killing others (and themselves), rules, regulations, and laws don’t matter all that much?

    I have had a CCW for several years. I used to live somewhere that made me feel it was about my only chance at ensuring my family’s safety. I took notice of the places that said, “Don’t bring your guns in here, even if you’re licensed” like the post office, certain churches, Costco, etc. I dutifully obliged those rules, and didn’t bring my gun inside.

    But if there was someone hell bent on a massacre, isn’t that exactly where they’d be drawn to? The places that even the law-abiding gun carriers wouldn’t be carrying?

    I’m not advocating that there should never be a place where guns are prohibited, only that additional regulations seem certain to fail in acting as a real deterrent to those who would do something like this. Almost every time I hear about a mass shooting, it’s always in a government building or school where nobody is allowed to be packing heat. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection. If I’m one of these psychos and I still possess enough rational thought to plan something like this, why wouldn’t I pick a place where I’m less likely to face resistance?

  16. I fear that the answer to your question is “no” and that nothing will change. No change in gun laws to make it harder for irresponsible people to get them, no requirement for safety training, no appreciable change in mental healthcare.

    I hugged my daughter hard first thing when I came home yesterday.

  17. First things first: The Second Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows:

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

    There are already a good number of public figures and organizations today (nevermind internet commentors like us) who have made it publicly known that they don’t seem to notice or care about the first three words.

    Now, that being said, the big problem here isn’t necessarily guns themselves, it’s that the United States is pretty much unique in having a gun culture. As of 2007, per capita ownership of guns in the US was at a mind-boggling 89%, which is 30% higher than the the next country. And that’s just from surveys, which means that it’s possible the number may be higher. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that 89 out of 100 Americans owns a gun, but it does mean that there are a hell of a lot of guns. There are 130,000 federally licensed gun retailers in the US, which is over 3 times as many locations as grocery stores, almost 10 times as many locations as McDonalds. And most tellingly, that’s more than twice as many locations as the 58,000 facilities that can treat Americans for mental health issues.

    And I feel this needs to be pointed out to some gun owners: The NRA is not your friend. They are almost entirely representative of the gun and ammunition industry, not of gun owners. Indeed, surveys show that a large percentage, possibly a majority, of individual NRA members disagree with their specific policies. They exist to ensure that more guns and ammo is being sold, gun owners are just a political pawn for them. They’ve spent the last 4 years peddling myths about the government being just around the corner from taking all your guns, despite there being a minimal amount of regulation proposed, let alone enacted.

    We can also discard the arguments from both sides for complete bans or complete freedom. The Second Amendment allows for ownership of guns, and unless it is ever repealed, that’s in enshrined in our body of laws. That being said, there is nothing in the Second Amendment that prohibits gun control, strict or otherwise, as John pointed out. You do not have to pick sides between “liberty” or “killers,” or between no regulation or full regulation. Those are strawmen, false dichotomies meant to shut down any meaningful discussion or compromise between participants.

    I feel it’s also worth pointing out that, at the time it was written, the Second Amendment dealt with single-shot weapons that could take several minutes to reload. Semi-automatic rifles (to say nothing of handguns) were decades away, and automatic weapons nearly a century away. And firearms at the time were as important to nearly every person for subsistence as well as defense. No matter how forward-thinking you think the people who wrote the Constitution were, they did not have the power to see the future of scientific progress. The weapons available now are not made for the purposes they were in 1776. Not to be flip, but they aren’t called assault rifles because they’re made for hunting venison and plinking bottles off a fence. In the same vein, there is really no reason that any weapon or magazine for personal should have the capability to hold dozens of rounds, or really more than, say, 4 to 6 for that matter. If you are not able to hit your target, especially relatively still animals, with that many rounds, then quite simply you do not know how to use a firearm properly. Similarly, you also don’t need boxes full of ammunition unless you live well apart from the rest of us and use guns for subsistence. In most other countries, these types of weapons and magazines and ammunition are almost entirely the province of armed forces and LEO. If we are going to have them be a part of our world, then they must be given extra levels of scrutiny, perhaps exponentially so.

    And because I know it’s going to come up, there’s really very little sense in comparing guns to cars, planes, chainsaws, etc. Unlike any of those, guns were invented for the purpose of killing or injuring living creatures, primarily humans. Full stop. As such, they must be afforded much more caution than any of those things for that reason alone. Not abhorrence, or obsession, merely caution.

    And one final thing: The day that something happens is always a day too late. Anyone–from either side–saying “today is not the day to have the discussion” is wrong. As is made obvious by the fact that a horrible thing happened, a time for discussion can not always be at some nebulous point in the future. Discussion must be held to prevent things like this from happening.

  18. lloeren – Originally from Bridgend in South Wales, I live in Brittany, France with my husband and two youngest daughters. My eldest daughter now lives in North Wales. I no longer work as I have severe depression but in a previous life I was a Java developer. My passions are knitting, spinning and other fibre arts. I also read vast amounts of science fiction and fantasy or as I prefer to call it - speculative fiction. I can be found on Ravelry.com as Lloer.
    Emma in France

    I hate guns. Being a Brit in France, even after 7 years I get the chills when I see the gun in a gendarme’s holster. I think the attempt at a solution has to be multi-pronged. The US definitely needs better mental healthcare that is accessible to all and mental illness needs to have the stigma removed, especially for men. It needs stronger gun and ammunition controls. It needs to change the culture in high schools that pushes so many children to the edges and places jock/cheerleader culture on a pedestal. It needs to get rid of the all pervasive bloodthirsty news reporting style.

    I do have concerns about the sheer quantity of FPS video games and the fact that quite young children are playing them rather than the target audience. I’m also concerned about the role that these games combined with news-reporting lead to a desensitisation towards violence among society as a whole. While FPS games aren’t my thing, I do understand why people enjoy playing them, I used to have a great time playing Carmageddon but never went out and ran someone over. I’m not trying to say that they need to be banned, by the way.

  19. timeliebe – Central NY – Dreaded Spouse-Creature to bestselling fantasy author Tamora Pierce (SONG OF THE LIONESS, THE CIRCLE OPENS, BEKA COOPER: A TORTALL LEGEND series), a co-author of TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, Co-author with Tamora Pierce of Marvel's WHITE TIGER: A HERO'S OBSESSION for Marvel Comics. Contributing Editor for VIDEO Magazine during the 1990s, Columnist for C/Net 1999 - 2002.
    timeliebe

    Agree with Jonathan Vos Post on how this conversation needs to turn more to how we deal with (or ignore) the mentally ill than “ban guns forever!” – which is what “gun control” means to most of my fellow progressive gun control types. As Ozzie says, it won’t really make a difference – you can’t prevent violence by banning specific objects, because crazy will find a way (also thinking of the spree in China where a madman knifed 22 schoolkids).

    Also – wouldn’t it be great if the Mainstream Media actually waited until they had their facts straight before jumping in and reporting…?

  20. I’m not advocating that there should never be a place where guns are prohibited, only that additional regulations seem certain to fail in acting as a real deterrent to those who would do something like this.

    Prove it.

    And while you’re at it, feel free to propose actual, real-world tested solutions for dealing with the problem. Because that’s the one thing that I rarely see coming from the discussion when these things happen. Mainly from die-hard guns rights advocates, but anti-gun advocates screaming for it to be all shut down aren’t helping either.

  21. Hell, I’ve lived almost all my life in the UK where after Dunblane and Hungerford, pretty much all guns were banned, everywhere. It doesn’t stop crazy people being stupid and murderous.

    And the number of mass shootings in the UK since Dunblane? 1. And the number of mass shootings in the United States since 1996 (the time of Dunblane)? 7.

    By the way, I note that a mentally ill man went on a rampage in a Chinese school last week, violently attacking children. The casualties? 0 dead 22 wounded. The difference? He only had a knife, not a gun.

  22. Handguns are illegal here on the basis that they only exist to kill people.

    We have fewer gun deaths and shockingly, fewer murders in general — and if someone is killed, people don’t spring up saying “well if they’d only been armed, they would have been okay!”.

    Reading the US news I have never, ever seen “fortunately, someone was armed with a gun and therefore the crime didn’t happen”. I have seen so, so many “however, someone had a gun and now someone else is dead” for anything from Wal-Mart shoplifters to kids carrying Skittles in their pockets and walking down a street.

    I don’t live in fear of being murdered where I live, and I don’t live in fear that everyone around me has a gun, so I need to protect myself from them. People here can be just as cruel, just as scary, just as human as anywhere else in the world… but they don’t have the same incredibly easy ability to end my life in a sudden fit of anger or miscalculation or fear or hatred.

    You can be a free country without everyone owning a gun. We’ve also never had a problem with our government trying to enslave us or take away our human rights, which are ranked some of the highest in the world. You don’t need your populace armed for that, either.

    I don’t say this to say our country is better — just to say it can and is very possible, and I wish desperately that people in the US didn’t have to experience these tragedies every day.

    Saying “Well people will break the law, so we might as well not even have laws” is not the answer — not having the things that are designed to kill people so prolific, so readily accessible, and so hotly defended even when used to kill innocents is one of the answers.

    Blaming the thousands of gun-related deaths a year in the US on mental illness is also not the answer and very unfairly stigmatizes people with mental illnesses, which is the most prevalent (and yet most treatable) illness out there — saying 50% of the population can become unhinged at any moment and kill people does a huge disservice to other people out there. Or, if you really do want to argue that point, is even more reason not to have guns anywhere they can get at them.

    Please note all of this applies to civilian, everyday life — armed services and police are another matter, and their necessity is a different discussion.

  23. Sadly the sort of behavior has been with use for a long time–look up ‘amok’ sometime and be horrified by human behavior. The Chinese are dealing with a similar problem as well: http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-man-slashes-22-children-near-china-school-20121214,0,6383015.story How do we screen for this sort of behavior? They will do this again and again and again–with or without firearms: homemade flame throwers, bombs,etc.

  24. And the number of mass shootings in the United States since 1996 (the time of Dunblane)? 7.

    Actually, that’s a wild underestimation. There have been 61 mass shootings in the US since 1982, 40 of which have occurred since 1996.

  25. The normal police-to-citizen ratio in the U.S. is about 1 to 1000 or 2.3 to 1,000, depending on whether you are measuring total employment or officers on shift at any point in time. In the (disarmed) UK, it is about 3.3 and they have MUCH higher rates of home invasion, assault and other crimes against the person and property. From the Telegraph:

    “The total number of violent offences recorded compared to population is higher than any other country in Europe, as well as America, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

    Opposition leaders said the disclosures were a “damning indictment” of the Government’s failure to tackle deep-rooted social problems.

    The figures combined crime statistics for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    The UK had a greater number of murders in 2007 than any other EU country – 927 – and at a relative rate higher than most western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

    It also recorded the fifth highest robbery rate in the EU, and the highest absolute number of burglaries, with double the number of offences recorded in Germany and France.

    Overall, 5.4 million crimes were recorded in the UK in 2007 – more than 10 a minute – second only to Sweden.”

    Empirically, if you disarm your friends and neighbors, and double your police force, you will be much less safe than you are right now.

    Additionally:

    1) Federal background checks are required nationwide prior to purchasing any kind of civilian firearm, whether it is scary-looking or a simple revolver. Military-grade weaponry is already banned.

    2) Additional checks are mandated in a number of states.

    3) The vast majority of states already require further training and education along with more stringent background checks before they issue concealed-carry permits to people seeking them.

  26. The Chinese are dealing with a similar problem as well

    Similar problem? 22 children were attacked with a knife, and all of them survived. Big difference.

  27. KIA: Who said anything about disarming people? All of the numbered reasons you provided have been successful overall at reducing gun violence, and are the type of things being proposed.

  28. Hi Fred, what country are you taking about?

    Hi Emma, I visited France a couple of years ago for two weeks and had a great time! However, I saw more guns in France than I see in the USA in a normal day. And I am excluding the WWII museums that I visited in Normandy (they awesome and I highly advise visiting them). The guns that I saw were in the train stations, Charles De Gaulle airport and the Eiffel tower. All those places had soldiers? police? in camo in groups of three walking around with machine guns. And two of them always had their guns at ready. To be honest, it was unnerving.

    The USA to me (a life long Texan) is the world’s greatest social experiment. We are throwing a vast multiple of societies here into the “melting pot” and hoping that it all works. People come here to get away from government controls. Adding more and new government controls will not solve the problem. Locking up all the guns will not solve the problem. Locking up all the crazies will not solve the problem. To be honest, I do not know how to solve the problem, we may just have to live with it.

  29. I should begin by disclosing that I like firearms. I am an avid target shooter and I live in a largely urban area so I don’t own firearms to hunt. I own them to enjoy and self defense of my home and family. In light of yesterday’s tragedy my feelings have not changed. I am a responsible firearm owner. My guns are secured in a safe. I don’t feel I should be deprived of my rights when I have upheld the letter and spirit of the law.

    The real root cause is that we as a society need to do a better job of engaging people that have mental health issues. In almost every instance of a mass shooting (the racially motivated killings in Wisconsin might be an exception) these were young people who were/are obviously disturbed that slipped through the bureaucratic cracks of our institutions and the ambivalence of society. It’s not an easy solution and it opens other issues (civil liberties of people with mental health problems, etc.) but until it’s addressed, no amount of “gun control” or legislation is going to stop some people from killing. Just my opinion, but I wanted to share.

  30. “They will do this again and again and again–with or without firearms: homemade flame throwers, bombs,etc.”

    As far as I recall whenever I’ve seen footage of US soldiers in action they seem to favour firearms rather than clubs, knives, homemade flame throwers, garrotes, bombs, etc. I’ve always presumed that this was because firearms were far more efficient at killing.

  31. Lynn:

    All those people carrying guns in France? CCW without some regulations around it just means we don’t know who has the guns, and more importantly whether or not they are trained or even informed in how to use them. And as I said upthread, if you’re just going to make blanket statements about government regulations being ineffective, you’re going to have to prove that. Same goes for proof of majorities asking for all the guns and crazies being locked up.

  32. crotchetyoldfan – The Crotchety Old Fan is Steve Davidson, also know as Rimworlder on many SF forums. Steve maintains the Rim Worlds Concordance project which is devoted to the works of A. Bertram Chandler and his most enduring character - Commodore John Grimes of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve. Grimes is science fiction’s original ‘Horatio Hornblower of Space’. More information about Chandler, Grimes and the Rim Worlds can be found at www.rimworlds.com. Steve also maintains a visual index of volume 1, number 1 pulp science fiction magazines on the same website and is a devoted collector of the same. ‘I’m an ‘old’ SF fan, which you can take whichever way you like, as I love the old masters (Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, E.F. Russell, Piper, Cordwainer Smith) and I’m well beyond the age you’re not supposed to trust anymore’. This blog is devoted to an investigation of the growing divide between ‘old’ - or ‘classic’ science fiction and the moderan literary genre that is currently sold under the same name. Steve has also begun writing reviews for www.SFReader.com, expects to be doing the same for www.SFSignal.com, and is contributing various non-fiction pieces to various other websites, all of them concerned with science fiction of one stripe or another. Early in 2008 he became completely disappointed with the SciFi Channel and created The Classic Science Fiction Channel website that gathers links to public domain radio, television, film and literary properties. Steve had a successful non-fiction writing career - writing articles and books dealing primarily with the paintball industry (Four books and several hundred articles including editorializing, product reviews, sports reporting, educational and more) - which he has since given up in favor of blogging and fiction. (Leaving the paintball industry after 25 years.) One final book on this subjected is scheduled to be released in early 2009 (A Parent's Guide To Paintball). Current work on fiction includes several completed novellettes/novellas curently in submission hell and various chapters of three novels. Freely distributed current work - including several chapters of a science fiction/paintball novel and a pulp/comic book/fairy tale mashup can be found on his website.
    crotchetyoldfan

    Elephant in the room: too many freakin people. Too many people is why we have things like “mandatory sentences” and “zero tolerance” bs instead of being able to deal with things on an individual, case-by-case basis.
    And in this case, someone, somewhere is going to propose that we strengthen whatever the name is for the law that will allow the authorities to lock someone up – based on hearsay and the testimony of those uneducated in how to assess mental health – for a 48 hour “observation” period.
    We’ll all be surrounded by amateur behavioral analysts – and god forbid someone should have a bad “mental” day….

  33. A week ago my high school student complained about having a lockdown drill. Yesterday he learned why they have them. I really wish he hadn’t had to learn that. Please, let us have a reasonable national discussion about this now. There is a lot of room between the laws we have now and banning all guns. There are reasonable limitations on automatics and semi automatics. There are better ways to treat mental illness that do not involve stigmatization or the current “catch and release” system now promoted by insurance companies. Teaching compassion and community and tolerance is not a conspiracy by liberals or gays or anyone.

  34. Actually, that’s a wild underestimation. There have been 61 mass shootings in the US since 1982, 40 of which have occurred since 1996.

    I was using 10 fatalities and above as the definition of a mass shooting. Given that, it’s 7. Putting it at five raises the number substantially.

    We don’t disagree on the larger point, though.

    Empirically, if you disarm your friends and neighbors, and double your police force, you will be much less safe than you are right now.

    The numbers you cite are compared to other EU countries, all of which have stringent gun control laws as well. What are the numbers compared to the United States?

    I’ll give you one:

    US murder rate (2011): 4.2
    UK murder rate (2011): 1.2

    What were you saying again?

  35. I was using 10 fatalities and above as the definition of a mass shooting. Given that, it’s 7. Putting it at five raises the number substantially.

    We don’t disagree on the larger point, though.

    Yeah. IIRC, the official legal definition is 4 or more.

  36. I was skimming, so I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it, but Lanza’s mother–his first victim–was the owner of the weapons he used (to kill her first), all of which she legally bought. I don’t know why she felt the need to own so many guns, but her son did not go out and buy them from some suspect-looking person in the dark corner of a dank bar somewhere. They were at Mom’s house.

    To me the bigger issue here is actually the issue of mental health care in this country. We’re already hearing Lanza was “mentally ill” (no specifics on the nature of his illness) and medicated. The problem is that helping the mentally ill and their families achieve equilibrium and safety got a lot harder in the 70s and 80s, when most mental institutions were closed; the length of stay in a mental institution was rendered far shorter, and the mentally ill were sent home to the care of their (ill-equipped, untrained, sometimes hostile, sometimes overwhelmed) families or to the streets–thus the boom in homelessness during the 80s. Now the mentally ill, unless they have no family at all or are completely incapable of caring for themselves and pose an insupportable burden on their families, are given pills, a prescription, and a prayer.

    Most people with mental illness are too wrapped up in their own problems to attack anyone else. But too many of this year’s mass shooters–14 so far?–have been people with mental health problems. I can’t promise they would have been getting continuous care, even hospitalization, under an expanded mental health care system, but even one less of these events a year would be a merciful thing. John Lanza might have been institutionalized for a month or two until his meds were evened out and his mental state was such that he could appreciate what might happen if he went off them. Then it might not matter that his mother had legal guns in her house.

  37. There is no constitutional bar to some limitation and regulation of firearms. The real question — the only real question, to my mind — is whether there is the political will for it.

    I think that the practical problems are also significant. I’ve seen estimates that there are around 300 million guns in the U.S.–that’s more than the number of passenger vehicles in the U.S., and it’s about a third of all guns in the world. (Numbers are approximate.) Say that we muster the political will to institute limitations and regulations–say that 90% of the population agrees. That still leaves us with 30 million people who own a lot more than 30 million guns, and I can imagine they’d be very stubborn about giving them up. Maybe what I’m saying is that we need an enormous cultural shift to go along with political changes.

  38. Sadly, I don’t think gun control matters at this point. There are 300 million guns out there. Close to half of households own a gun. Controlling the further sale of them isn’t going to affect things materially. I’d like to think that we could learn to spot mentally unstable people and get them help before they do things like this, and while we can do better at that I don’t think we can do it at close to 100%. And before someone says “Well, if everyone was armed and trained, this wouldn’t happen” let me remind you of the number of shooting incidents that have been stopped by an armed civilian… zero. None. Nada.

    We’ve made our bed… a society so entranced with fantasies of needing to guard against an evil government, so inured to violence and death that we will beat our breasts over this… and nothing will be done. 20 small children will never grow up, but enough people will scream about their 2nd amendment rights (tell me, what ‘well-regulated militia’ do you belong to?) that rather than fix this, we’ll accept the deaths of innocents.

    In a few days we’ll all be about our business… and in a few weeks or months another shooting will happen. The same outrage and shock will be expressed. And nothing will happen.

  39. The US needs to restore bans on automatic weapons that were in effect until Bush removed them. Australia banned automatic weapons in 1996, and they haven’t seen a mass shooting since. Mental health care is a side issue. Some people are going to have bad impulses; the problem is the technology that enables them to instantly act on and multiply the harm from such impulses.

  40. Can we wait a few days before talking about you personal political agenda, and maybe a post about the tragedy first… I live in CT and even in our state liberal state we are waiting a few days before getting to political…

  41. Jacob: And when, exactly is the right time? July wasn’t the right time after Aurora, last week wasn’t the right time after the mall shooting, yesterday wasn’t the right time after Newtown, today isn’t the right time after the hospital in Birmingham…

    Get the picture?

  42. Genufett wrote: “And while you’re at it, feel free to propose actual, real-world tested solutions for dealing with the problem.”

    I do have a proposal: Guns should be regulated with the intent of seriously lowering their rate of fire.

    David Brin’s version of this was that everything faster than bolt-action rifles should be banned. That should greatly reduce the mortality when a crazy person starts shooting, while not having much impact on using guns for hunting and home defense.

    The problem with this is that there are a LOT of guns out there already, and it doesn’t seem fair to make people turn them all in. Would it be technically possible to outlaw magazines, instead?

  43. David: Exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, and regulations around magazines and ROF are two things I’ve offered as a step in the right direction as well. Let’s see how many people agree.

  44. Genufett, Monday works, I live 15 miles from the school, I am a friend of a friend to several people who have passed on. I saw the State Police on their way to the scene being held up by out of state cars who refused to get out of the travel lane even though the cars were displaying lights and sirenes. We have been through a lot, is it to much to ask that we as a State and Country take a few days to mourn, instead of using this as an immediate excuse to put forth a controversial political agenda?

  45. In response to DAVID:

    “The numbers you cite are compared to other EU countries, all of which have stringent gun control laws as well. What are the numbers compared to the United States?”

    Actually, no. While all EU countries have more stringent gun laws than the US, many of them do not have very stringent gun laws and, more to the point, ALL of them have substantially less stringent gun laws than the UK. Meaning: countries with less stringent gun laws than the UK nevertheless manage to have lower homicide rates than the UK – substantially lower in many cases – and also lower rates of violent crime overall. I think the UK is actually a really interesting case in point – for the twin reasons that (1) it DOES have a substantially lower rate of *gun* homicide than most developed countries, which would seem to indicate that the handgun ban there is effective BUT (2) it has a much higher overall violent crime rate than most other developed countries, which would seem to indicate that banning handguns merely forces violent people to look for other methods. Other countries which have rather high rates of personal gun ownership like Finland (2nd or 3rd in the world if I’m not mistaken) have much lower rates of violent crime than the UK, and much lower rates of violent gun crime than some of their more strict neighbors. My overall point: it’s a thorny debate, there is no silver bullet example that decides the case for one side or the other, and simply trotting out the UK to prove that gun bans are effective leaves a lot of other pertinent questions unanswered.

  46. A lot of talk . . . some insults . . . no credible suggestion on how to “regulate” guns.

    As a gun owner, and a concealed weapon permit holder (by the way, you have to pass tests, show proficiency, have a background check, and understand the limits of the law to get one), the concern I have is that whenever I listen to a proponent of gun control, one of the first things I hear is “I don’t see a use for guns”.

    Immediately I know they live a privileged life. That article from Scalzi, a few posts ago? The one about “The Easy Setting” in a game, and how privileged people don’t realize they have a privileged life?

    It’s them.

    The very idea that we could legislate away these kinds of occurrences is ludicrous. Norway has “sensible” guns laws, restricting both type of weapons and caliber of handguns. It did not keep one man from shooting 69 people at a youth camp, and another eight with a bomb.

    Immediately someone will start typing that it was only one event, versus the more frequent incidents here. So? I thought the debate was in “preventing” these kinds of things from happening in the first place, and doing it through gun control.

    For that matter, I can point out the US has over sixty times the population of Norway, and lots more guns. So? What does that prove?

    As an exercise for people who want to “understand” why people commit mass murder . . . do a search on mass shootings, massacres, bombings, etc. . . I’ll give you a hint . . . it happens, guns or no guns. Saying “only” 8 kids were stabbed to death at the Osaka massacre (15 injured), does not make it any better for those who died.

    I am, in fact, in favor of honest gun control, with the assurance guns will not be confiscated at some later point. My weapons are registered, and I would be in favor of a federally issued permit for me to carry my gun wherever I pleased. I would take any test, background check, psychological evaluation, etc. for that to happen.

    . . . except . . . there are people who, without knowing anything about me, my situation, where I live, etc. will automatically see me as mentally unstable for even wanting a gun, let alone carry one with me.

    Even with that, I’m open to suggestion beyond the laws we already have in place. BUT . . . point me to studies, other places, any data showing how what is proposed will work to . . . well, also show me what the goal is. What is the acceptable number of casualties from a deranged person choosing a gun as his tool of choice?

    Oh, and please codify the assurance the sliding scale of “acceptable losses” will not keep sliding in the vain hope to make this a “perfectly safe society” through limiting the availability of one particular tool.

  47. Banning guns will not solve this problem. Better mental health screening/treatment is the ONLY way to prevent this from happening. More regulation on guns will not solve this problem.

    @rickg17, These types of events have been stopped by the law abiding gun owner in the past, they are just not as widely covered in the news. Also concealed carry permit holders tend to be very law abiding so they would most likely not be carrying their weapon at or near a school since it is a gun free zone and there for illegal.

    @Alex, Automatic weapons have been banned in the US for a very long time now, nor was one used in this shooting. Nor was the ban you speak of (Assault Weapons Ban) removed by Bush it was not renewed after it had expired its 10 year limit.

  48. Jacob, I’m curious. Exactly what “controversial political agenda” do you see Scalzi advocating in his post? List for me, if you will, what this agenda consists of.

  49. With this ruling, I’ve been debating the relevance of the 2nd Amendment in today’s time. For example, its express purpose in allowing people to carry “arms” is because its “necessary to the security of a free State”. When the State can bear such weapons like missiles, chemical/biologicals, drones, submarines, helicopters, stealth bombers, and hydrogen bombs, and limit the people’s access to them, what relevance is an gun? Can a weapon even be necessary to the security of a free State any longer? I answer no, because the other answer, the ability for a person to carry any arm no matter its destructiveness (say, a nuclear weapon?) is infinitely more dangerous than slagging all guns.

  50. Jacob: I’m not talking about passing a law, I’m just talking about having a dialogue.

    disperser: No one here is making the suggestion of any sort of blanket ban, and as I pointed out above, they should be taken about as seriously as people that say there shouldn’t be any regulation at all.

    Paul: Why are mental health and regulations mutually exclusive? Where are the statistics on CCW stopping events like this, and at what point does it just become an arms race and/or situation where so many people being armed makes the situation worse? FWIW, I don’t really have a problem with CCW, but I do think that it’s something that requires at least a little bit extra effort (renewals, training, etc), as many localities already do.

  51. Sadly, I don’t think gun control matters at this point. There are 300 million guns out there. Close to half of households own a gun. Controlling the further sale of them isn’t going to affect things materially.

    Well, it wouldn’t change anything the day after it happened, or even a year after, probably not a lot of change after even ten years. In thirty, or forty years time, well then you’d start noticing changes. Fifty years, sixty, even the best maintained gun has its limits. I’ll bet most of those guns would not be being maintained at their best. Even the ones that are, well, they’d still be taken out of circulation. After ten years a few well placed “cash for guns” amnesty would take out of circulation a lot, as the holders of them encounter poverty or they move into the hands of other family members who may not be so attached to them.

    Gun bans are no magic bullet (if you’ll pardon the pun) in a society like modern America’s is (I strongly doubt one exists). They would be a good first step in a long term plan for change though.

  52. More then anything, I’d like to see the media show some responsibility and stop making these murderers famous. I wonder sometimes how many fewer of these mass murders we’d have if the media didn’t advertise the events so widely.

    http://imgur.com/gallery/f3e27

  53. While all EU countries have more stringent gun laws than the US, many of them do not have very stringent gun laws and, more to the point, ALL of them have substantially less stringent gun laws than the UK. Meaning: countries with less stringent gun laws than the UK nevertheless manage to have lower homicide rates than the UK – substantially lower in many cases – and also lower rates of violent crime overall.

    As I said, all of them have stringent gun control laws. I’m betting that they’re all close to Britain than they are to the United States. I’m also betting that their homicide rates are all quite close to Britain’s and certainly much closer to Britain’s than Britain’s is to the United States. So, no, your argument doesn’t hold up.

    More, why are you eliminating the United States from the picture? That strikes me as a way of avoiding the subject which is, after all, mass killings in the US.

    @disperser: Once you’re willing to argue with actually people in this actual thread (ie not random gun control folks you claim to have heard say “there’s no use for guns”), then we’ll talk. At the moment, you’re just spouting absolutist nonsense (If we can’t eliminate every single mass killing then we shouldn’t even try to reduce them is just the worst example) and talking points.

  54. All rights issues aside I’ve never fully understood why the U.S. doesn’t have similar processes as other (ok mostly European ones) countries when handling gun ownership. That is having courses and training like before a driving permit before you can own or use a gun. I mean you wouldn’t let someone drive a car without the proper training and without a valid drivers licence would you? That could kill someone!
    That alone would probably reduce the accidental home shooting incidents that claim the most lives because people don’t know how to use their guns properly. And it functions as a screening method as well, those who can’t handle tests and instruction on weapons or fail to respect them are rejected. So gun ownership will inevitably drop reducing the access that people have to guns.

    While I don’t think that outright banning guns is something that should be done, there are some areas of the world that simply being seen likely to be carrying or having a gun in your home reduces the chances of crime towards you. But in most Western societies it’s totally unnecessary to own a gun for other than hunting and recreation. People talk a lot about having a weapon at home makes them safer but then never seek the proper training in handling themselves in those circumstances.

    And then there are the types of weapons, owning an assault rifle has to be cool as hell, but do you seriously see the need in owning an semi-auto AR-15 for home-defense?!? It’s unwieldy and impractical for most household scenarios in which you’ll maybe confront a burglar.

    It’s a sticky issue that I think has become way to emotional in the U.S. for a reasonable middle ground resolution. People over there seem to focused on either having no guns, or everybody has guns. I’m rather sure that there is a middle ground that can limit guns to those that can according to a set standard use and want to own guns. (Yes I’m aware that criminals won’t respect those rules but proliferation can be reduced over time).

  55. Jacob: Are you arguing just for argument’s sake? You seemed to have missed my point, which is that every time we put off talking about it, something else happens that we say we have to put off talking about it, and nothing ever gets done. Maybe that’s how some people or organizations want it to be, but that just means they win and the world gets worse and worse.

    At some point we have to just tell the people who want to wait until it happens again to do or say anything that something happening again is already a day too late.

  56. I have two boys in school kindergarten and third grade, I understand the statistics and realize that the chances of something like that happening in one of their schools is very remote…and yet I am not sure I want to send them to school anymore.

    I keep hearing that the problem of guns is impossible, we can’t take everyone’s guns away. Actually I do not want to take everyone’s guns away but do we need 15 round magazines or even larger for handguns? Do we have to sell bullets designed to do maximum damage to people’s bodies? The guns people buy these days along with high capacity magazines and bullets that can rip a bear apart are simply not needed for home defense, hunting, or target practice. Obviously if people want to kill other people they will find a way, however there is a big difference between shooting 2 people to death and 28.

  57. Jacob:

    IF “a large percentage of voters disagree with gun control” it might be “controversial”, yes. Have you seen this poll from last summer? Of NRA members?

    http://www.businessinsider.com/nra-and-gun-control-poll-gun-owners-colorado-theater-shooting-batman-2012-7

    Or this one from last year, in which only 11% of the people polled favored “less strict” gun control?
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx
    So clearly SOME gun control, whether it be the current amount, or more than that, is favored by the fast majority of Americans.

    People who disagree with gun control are a very small percentage of this country. So your “if” statement fails.

  58. I teach college – and even though they are not children technically any more, I still worry about keeping my students safe. I have rehearsed in my head what I would do to protect my students if shooting broke out while I was teaching a class, or if, God forbid, someone with a gun walked into my classroom. It scares me that I couldn’t do much.

    I am hearing a lot of the same old rhetoric I have heard every time something like this happens – more laws, loss of freedom, yada, yada, yada. We have too many guns out there in this country and we must start somewhere to deal with this. Making it harder to legally get a gun if you are mentally ill or a mentally ill person could have access to your guns is a start.

    I grew up around guns, where people hunted and I have no issue with guns used for hunting. Most of the hunters I knew growing up were careful and responsible about their guns. I do have an issue with handguns – their only purpose is to kill people. We need to figure out a way that people who would use guns carelessly can not get them legally — or we need to give up private ownership of guns.

    But that wouldn’t stop people from getting guns illegally. No, it wouldn’t. But if the only guns out there were illegal, then anyone with a gun could be charged with that, taken off the streets and their guns destroyed. If we were to do that for 20 to 30 years, there would be many fewer guns out there in that time.

    But people have to defend themselves? Fred made a point – how often do we hear of someone with a gun successfully defending themselves, or preventing a crime with their gun? How many times do we hear of someone killing an innocent with their gun? The relative numbers speak for themselves.

    I agree that the words “well regulated” are the key to the second amendment rights – we need to regulate guns better than we are doing now. And our representatives on both the state and national level need to find the resolve to do that.

    I would suggest that if you agree, you might write to your state and national representatives and tell them just that – the NRA will innundate them with pro-gun postcards this week or next, so perhaps if they hear from the rest of us, they’ll actually do something.

    Sorry this was so long.

  59. Genufett says:
    “I feel it’s also worth pointing out that, at the time it was written, the Second Amendment dealt with single-shot weapons that could take several minutes to reload.”

    A point of clarification, if it’s not already been made. The standard for reloading a single shot muzzle loading gun was 3 shots per minute. That is: It takes about 20 seconds to reload, aim, and shoot, not several minutes.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a life member of the NRA. It’s my belief that having armed and trained teachers in classrooms would pretty much eliminate attacks of this kind.

    That said, the reason politicians don’t help mentally ill folks is they don’t vote. Remember, Reagan in the late 70’s closed many of California’s mental health facilities because of budget crunches. And that’s a symptom of the real problem in this country. Too many folks with mental health problems not getting help.

  60. The thing that really bugs me, whenever the subject of gun control comes up, is that everyone wants an easy answer to it. There are none. We have far too many guns in this country to ever get a real handle on them. We like to blame it on mental health and yet there is some evidence that spree killers are not necessarily delusional or psychotic (though sociopathy does seem to come into play, as well as a deep belief that the killer feels like a failure or persecuted while blaming that failure on society). We blame it on all sorts of things and the truth seems to be that it isn’t any one thing, but lots and lots of things. So yeah, no easy answers. We need to change our culture, we need to change our gun laws (at the very least tighten and enforce them – gun shows? collectors? types of legal firearms?) and so much more. I live just a couple dozen miles from Clackamas Town Center and that was heartbreaking enough, but Connecticut? That was devastating, made worse by the pundits who had to trot out the “this is no time to talk about the politics of gun control” and the “if just one of those teachers had been armed” and the favored “if only we hadn’t taken God out of the schools” nonsense. It is so much more than either of those things, and so much more than anyone has been willing to step up and deal with.

  61. Jacob: No, because you’re hell-bent on not having until Monday, or whenever, because apparently if nothing can be done by then, it’s not worth having.

    Marty: To be fair, my point was more about automatic and semi-automatic weapons than the nitty-gritty over musket reloading times. And without getting into the statistics of the efficacy of arming people like instructors and administrators, considering so many people think those folks don’t deserve fair pay and things like smaller classes and more institutional funding, I don’t see how you’d swing that.

  62. @Genufett: “Similar problem? 22 children were attacked with a knife, and all of them survived. Big difference.”

    This time. This is not the first time someone in China attacked kids with a knife, and the other incidents did result in a lot of deaths.

    Any time someone tries to break out stats surrounding gun control, I internally cringe. A very small segment of the American population is responsible for most of the gun homicdes – gangs. Who mostly use guns to kill other gang members. If you pull gangs out of the picture, America is a much less scary place. Disarmament will not cause gang members to turn in their guns unless the culture changes.

    Look to Northern Ireland for an example of how gun control laws failed to disarm the populace until it got buy-in from its own citizens.

    And no, Genufett, the 2nd Amendment doesn’t apply just to muskets, or to just organized militias. The SCOTUS addressed that issue in Heller (what Scalzi is quoting), saying “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home… The ‘militia’ comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.”

  63. Genufett, All I am asking is your heartless pursuit of a political agenda justified because of the rightness of its cause?

  64. Jacob – You know, if you don’t want to talk about policies around this issue because the pain is too raw, you can choose not to talk about it. Saying it’s too soon and repeatedly arguing here seems…. odd.

    Paul – let’s see some links on incidents that have been stopped by armed civilians (and remember, I’m talking mass shootings, not home invasions). Pulling out they ‘the news media doesn’t cover them’ card gets uncomfortably close to conspiracy land for me.

    Disperser – You sound reasonable but most people don’t, in fact, need guns for personal protection. Most people simply don’t live in that kind of danger. They may convince themselves that they do, but they don’t. Even fewer people really need to carry concealed weapons everywhere and frankly, if you genuinely do, you might want to move.

    That said, I dont really care if sane, responsible people who keep themselves trained and in practice own guns. You’re not the danger and so even if I think your perceptions aren’t representative, eh. My desire is to see assault and sem-automatic weapons restricted, guns kept out of the hands of mentally unstable people and for people to periodically have to certify proficiency with guns just as we do with cars. As I noted above, though, with the number of guns out there it won’t matter what new policies we put in place.

    Finally, the entire “they’ll come to our houses and confiscate our guns” talking point is right-wing paranoia. No one is proposing that and it wouldn’t ever happen.

  65. What, you didn’t look at the Gallup poll? Here’s what the question was: “In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?”

    That’s the definition the Gallup poll used. And by that definition, only 11% wanted laws covering the sale of firearms made less strict.

    As for the NRA poll, of the various categories of restriction of gun purchasing named, the lowest number for a category was 71%. In one category, restrictions were approved by 87%. So 71%-87% of NRA members are in favor of some kind of gun purchase restrictions. That’s only 13% not in favor gun control, from the class of people that one would expect to be most against gun control laws.

    You know, that’s why I gave you the links. So you could read them for yourself.

    So much for “a large percentage of votors disagree[ing] with gun control”.

  66. Just a small, random note: I just find arming the teachers such a bizarre idea, because it was a teacher who did the shooting at a school near me. “Luckily” they aimed for their colleagues and bosses, and not the children.

  67. There seems to be a sizeable number of people who sincerely believe that if a behavior or a substance or a class of devices is a “problem,” then it can be solved by making the “problem” illegal. Has there ever been an instance – in America, anyway – of this procedure actually working in the intended manner?

    The question is of course totally beside the point for those individuals who have no interest in the larger outcome, but who simply are satisfied with ensuring that their hated neighbors’ offensive habits are curtailed.
    .

  68. illmunkeys says:
    “what relevance is an gun” in the context of a military with many more and more powerful weapons.

    The answer is relatively simple: A gun is used by every military in the world to complete the winning of a war. i.e. there is always a need for an armed infantry man.

  69. To paraphrase a friend of mine, if an elementary school teacher has to carry a piece just to do their job, we’re pretty fucked up and I don’t want to live there.

    Arming teachers is not a solution.

  70. @Jacob: Yes, we use guns in war. But boots on the ground without support from all those other weapons is a useless military tactic in the modern world. Lets take Libya. Without Western aid in creating a no-fly zone within the country, and utilizing air strikes to keep that no-fly zone, the rebel forces would have been overpowered and overrun. Consider then, the US who has the largest military with the best shiny weapons in the world. Without outside aid, and even with it, a rebellion here with just boots on the ground would be a lesson in futility. Lets just say the south will never rise again.

  71. shakauvm: I wasn’t saying that it applied only to muskets, only that it’s something that interpretation is required for. And please provide your statistics re:gangs.

    Jacob: Heartless? Please. For someone who started out just mentioning not wanting to talk about it, you a) obviously really want to talk about it but only with people who have concerns, and b) are using excuses suspiciously similar to the ones people who have financial and political reasons to not talk about it are using. BTW, trying to shut down conversation is just as much, if not more, of a political football than encouraging dialogue.

  72. stencil: Is this supposed to be a strawman, or just poorly worded? Almost everyone is actually asking for regulation with reduction outcomes rather than blanket illegality with elimination outcomes. The prevalence of stuff like murder, rape, and theft has been reduced due to regulations and punishments appropriate to each one.

    And yes, we’ve had more regulations and less violent crime in the last several decades.

  73. Genufett, Heartless may have been to strong a word, and I apologize. We certainly have had some dialog, all I ask is that you question your ideals which drive you to talking about this tragedy just as I have now.

  74. My ideals are reducing violent deaths by gunfire. I’m not going to question them at any point before, during, or after any tragedy. Like I’ve said, every time we wait until the next time, it’s already too late.

  75. Jacob, you’re moving the goalposts. After I asked you what specific agenda you think John is pushing, rather than answer me you said and I quote, “Well if a large percentage of voters disagree with gun control, wouldn’t it be the definition of controversial???”

    Clearly, a large percentage of voters do NOT disagree with gun control. Even when you restrict that population of voters to “members of the NRA”. Heck, “less” gun control isn’t equivalent to “no” gun control, so the percentages are logically only a fraction of that 11 or 13%.

    So, again, what precise agenda do you see John pushing in his post? Now I’ve shown you that your conditional doesn’t hold, surely you can actually answer me?

  76. This time. This is not the first time someone in China attacked kids with a knife, and the other incidents did result in a lot of deaths.

    I’m sure that the 22 not-dead Chinese children will be glad to know that they are not enough of an example.

  77. “Armed and trained teachers in classrooms”? Stupidest thing I’ve heard today. You obviously don’t know many teachers, who, wait for it, are just as crazy as everyone else. That would have one CERTAIN effect: the number of gun homicides in the USA would go up.

  78. @Jacob: The Syrian gov’t and has a measly 1.8 billion dollar budget. They have chemical and biological weapons they’ve refrained from using due to the fear of Western retaliation. They use SCUD missiles, but infrequently due to potential backlash of surrounding countries. The gov’t itself is being embargoed by nearly every single nation that matters. Rebels themselves are armed with more than just guns, and receive supplies and support from outside forces. Syria, when compared to the US, is not an equal in any argument.

  79. Then how are the Syrian rebels doing it?

    You are now–though you clearly don’t understand it–arguing for the legalization of the following things: RPG anti-tank weapons, portable anti-aircraft missiles, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, artillery, and fully-automatic assault weapons of all sorts.

    Is that, in fact, what you are arguing for? That all of those things should be legal for private citizens to own in America? Because that, my dear deluded sir, is “how the Syrian rebels are doing it.”

  80. “The US needs to restore bans on automatic weapons that were in effect until Bush removed them. ”

    Automatics weapons are just as banned as they ever were, which is to say mostly. It is theoretically legal to own some automatic weapons as a collector, but this is expensive and difficult to do.

    None of the mass shootings involved automatic weapons. The assault weapons ban you’re talking about banned specific weapons that were, basically, scary looking. It didn’t have much to do with whether they were being used as weapons in crimes.

    As to whether we have the political will – the question ought to be, should we?

    Americans love guns. We fetishize and adore them. And by and large, we handle them safely. Yes, really. There are 300 million or so guns in the US. We purchase, in fairly average years, billions, with a B, of rounds for them. So we have lots of guns and at least a decent number of them are getting decent numbers of bullets put through i.e. used.

    And in spite of that, we have only a hundred thousand or so deaths and injuries from their use. You can make the argument that you should take away something that most of the people that own use safely and responsibly (or don’t use at all) but it’s not necessarily a rational conclusion based on, well, damn near everything else we do.

    We could, for instance, build cars that are govern to only go as fast as the passengers could be expected to survive the impact (and build them so that this number is higher than it is now) but we don’t.

    We could ban swimming pools, which are statistically more deadly than guns and kill and injury many people each year, quite a lot of which are children.

    But we don’t.

    We could make the NYC subway platforms so that people can’t get to the tracks when the train isn’t there. But we don’t.

    That last one I mention because it applies to this: you shouldn’t make decisions based on outlier incidents. And mass shootings are that. Assuming the reported facts are true, nop gun law short of an entire ban on guns starting decades ago could have prevented this particular tragedy.

    At the same time, asking for all teachers to be armed is also deeply silly. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of three million teachers in the elementary and middle school systems. That’s three million people carrying loaded weapons, all the time. There’s a very good chance that this would increase the chances of children being hurt and killed.

    I’d be all for more gun control, but this tragedy is not an example of why we need them.

  81. @shakauvm

    Look to Northern Ireland for an example

    If you are saying that the US is in the same state as Ulster was during the Troubles then that is a pretty damning indictment of US society. I wasn’t aware you were in a state of virtual civil war with your own citizens. I know the US seems divided, but I wasn’t aware it had reached open warfare. I don’t think the situation in Ulster is even remotely the same as the situation in the US (although admittedly a huge amount of the guns there were funded by Americans, so I’ll give you that similarity).

  82. Genufett,

    Gun regulation has failed miserably as a means to prevent violence from occurring, the US government has admitted that gun control laws have not done much to prevent crimes from being committed with a gun (http://realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-10_19_05_JS.html). Not the link I wanted but it was the only one I could find.

    Mental health screening and treatment, is the only way to find and help people who need this kind of treatment, in fact if you look at some of the recent shootings; AZ shooting of a US congress women, and CO Movie theater; they are a clear case for this argument.

    As for CCW preventing crimes I can site a couple of different sources on Defensive Gun Use (not just limited to CCW) although not surprisingly there is a difference of opinion on how often DGU occurs (so I will give the ones that agree with what I have read in the past and some of these are a bit dated).

    2.5 Million defensive gun uses per year.
    http://www.gunsandcrime.org/dgufreq.html

    A study on Armed Resistance (Tables and other Date are towards the middle)
    http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/kleckandgertz1.htm

    So there are sever claims out there on DGU frequency; between 68K to 2.5Mil+ a year that pretty big range but even so that is still a lot.

    Anyways the point is, that disarming the law abiding is not going to solve this problem, in fact making it more difficult for the law abiding to defend themselves isn’t working, gun free zones don’t make you safer, in fact they seemed to be magnets for the guys that want to make a statement with a gun.

    Finally I think, it just come down to this I would rather have the choice of being armed and never having to defend my self, than not having the choice of being armed and needing to defend my self.

  83. I have an honest question, because I am not a gun enthusiast. What are the legitimate civilian uses of semi-automatic weapons? Are there any that could not be accomplished at a shooting range? If not, I wonder if we could all agree that ownership of semi-automatic weapons could remain legal, but that the weapons would have to be shipped directly to a shooting range and kept there.

    I am completely in agreement with efforts to improve our mental health system. But treating mental illness is difficult and complex, because the illnesses themselves are complex and present in complex ways. Our understanding of the illnesses is far from complete. Most of the drugs we have to help have very unpleasant side effects. I do not think it is likely we could solve this problem by simply improving our mental health system. We do not have treatments that will quickly “cure” this sort of mental illness. What people are really proposing when they propose better mental health interventions in response to an event like this is involuntary commitment. But how will we decide who to commit? For how long? This is not an easy thing. I am amazed to see so many people willing to seriously limit the freedoms guaranteed by the 5th and 8th amendments by proposing more involuntary commitment for mentally ill people but absolutely unwilling to limit the freedoms guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.

  84. The last time that “arming the teachers” came up in a blog or on Facebook, or wherever it was that I commented, I gave details about a high school history teacher at a school I often subbed at in Pasadena being arrested for shooting dead the current boyfriend of his ex-wife. He thought he was being clever. He parked a few blocks away, so nobody would see his car near the shooting, skateboarded to the house, knocked on the door, shot the guy point blank in the face, and skateboarded back to his car. When cops seized him in the car, it had a post-it with the boyfriend’s address, and a second post-it with the address for another of the ex-wife’s boyfriends. I’d been creeped out by him in the faculty lounge. He loved to show off his heavily-tattooed biceps, and used to arm-wrestle with his students in the classroom and cafeteria. I’ll say my opinion again: this is NOT about guns. It’s about mental illness, how treated or not treated, and how stigmatized.

  85. @Paul: Gun control in the short term will always fail. It isn’t a short term solution (guns, after all, last a hell of a long time), and banning weapons in one states, doesn’t prevent you from crossing to the next and buying them there. While I agree, mental health screening and treatment is number one on the docket. However, the idea gun control doesn’t lessen gun violence is a ludicrous argument when our gun violence is greater than any other industrialized nation in the world (most of which have gun control). (Sidebar: when all violent crime is considered, we actually do quite well in incidents per 100K. Its only our criminals tend to pack guns.)

    We track every single car sale in America. Every car is tagged and licensed. To drive one, you have to pass a safety test. To sell it privately, you have to transfer the title. Considering the sole purpose of a gun is to kill _something_, at minimum we should have the same requirements to own a gun, and possibly, higher ones, and limits on the how much destruction it can do.

  86. Also, to point out, I’m not just talking about limiting the destructiveness of an automatic weapon either. For example, I think the most sold handgun is a 9MM which seems to be able to pack up to 17+1 rounds. What the heck do you need 17 rounds for? Are you hoping the criminal misses 17 times too?

    In NY, a man executed another. He began to walk away. Police confronted him. He pulled his gun. Police fired. 5 people were injured in the crowd. This was during broad daylight, by trained professionals, in a highly emotional, adrenaline pumping state. Who missed. Lets take a casual every day Joe with 17 rounds, who passed a “safety course”, and has received no other formal training. Yeah. No thanks. I’d rather take my chances with the criminal.

  87. “Armed and trained teachers in classrooms”? Great idea. Having experienced bullying abusive teachers that thought scares the crap out of me.

  88. Something I heard on the radio this morning made me think that re-defining the subject might be what’s needed. Instead of ‘gun control’ what about ‘gun safety’? I’ve seen all of the stats on NRA members agreeing on things like background checks, and anyone who has a CCW permit in Any state has to go through a background check, training and licencing. The second amendment is what it is and has been confirmed by recent Supreme Court decisions. It’s there and you work with what you have. What about expanding where and how you can get the weapons? What about insisting that you have to have a licence, permit whatever along with the training (to be proved and demonstrated)? What about some insurance thrown in there? You own a gun that’s registered to you and it ends up being used in a homicide, you’re responsible. It’s stolen, report it. You lose it, report it. You sell it, report it. It’s Your job because it’s Your gun. Just my thoughts.

  89. Genufett says: “Almost everyone is actually asking for regulation with reduction outcomes rather than blanket illegality with elimination outcomes. ”

    And so you believe that it is possible to craft legislation that will reduce the number of armed attacks while still permitting individuals to defend themselves against those attacks that leak through? And is there some level of successful aggression, or failed defense, that you are comfortable with? It certainly appears that there is call here for “do something even if it’s wrong and we can tweak it later.”

    Of course it would be nice to be able to identify malefactors in advance – that’s what they did in Florida in the 1870’s, when limited gun control was introduced. Limited, in that white men of good character could carry without let or hindrance. There are nine and sixty ways, but Kipling was an optimist.

  90. We have guns. My husband and son use them to hunt. I would have NO PROBLEM with laws to require insurance, safe gun handling classes for an ownership license (with periodic renewals) and even a requirement for guns to be stored in a locked safe at a gun club. These are reasonable restrictions and would eliminate the availability of guns used in many (but not all) crimes. There should also be limitations on the types of guns and ammunition available and the amount of ammunition a person can buy and take home. Ammunition bought and used at shooting ranges would not be included in the limitations.
    ALSO, crimes committed with firearms should have serious, mandatory sentencing guidelines.
    I think these changes, plus better access to mental health programs, would prevent tragedies.

  91. I honestly don’t see why any person would need a semi-automatic or automatic anything. Rifle for hunting? Sure! Handgun for protecting your house/person? Sure? More than that is not necessary for anything by the average citizen.

  92. First, thank you @Andrew Hackard for your kind thoughts. I am at least grateful for the time we’ve had with my son this fall and winter. As painful as it has been to prepare to let him go, I can only imagine the pain of having a child unexpectedly ripped away from you.

    Second, a lot of the discussion I’ve seen has been staunchly monolithic. Gun control or not. More support and treatment for mental health issues. In such a difficult time, it’s understandable that people want easy answers. There are no easy answers. We should examine the details of the gun laws, whether or not they are ultimately changed. We should examine how we handle mental health treatment. Violence comes from many sources and no one solution is the answer.

  93. “Also, to point out, I’m not just talking about limiting the destructiveness of an automatic weapon either. For example, I think the most sold handgun is a 9MM which seems to be able to pack up to 17+1 rounds. What the heck do you need 17 rounds for?”

    Need? You don’t*.

    But I don’t consider need a very good argument. But whether reducing the number of shots down to something lower would make an appreciable difference in, well, anything is debatable. It takes a literal second to swap out one clip for another and chamber a round.

    This matters in an honest to god firefight. But those are, to be charitable, not common. In stalk and kill situations it’s likely to make no difference at all, and this is true of most of the ways we use guns to kill people.

    And the “guns sole purpose is to kill something” is not likely to be a compelling argument to anyone who doesn’t already agree with you. A gun’s sole purpose is to send a piece of metal down a tube at high speeds. This isn’t even a way of saying guns don’t kill people, people do. I could define any knife, ever, as being “sole purpose to kill something” even though it’s not, you know, true.

    *Generally – police, military and such excluded.

  94. stencil: I do, in fact believe that it is possible to craft legislation that will reduce the number of armed attacks while still permitting individuals to defend themselves. After all, as the health and safety data provided by the states shows, in aggregate there are significantly less deaths in states with stricter gun control legislation, specifically those states that ban assault weapons, and mandate trigger locks and strong gun storage policies. BTW, that article has a ton of other interesting data that people in this thread may want to pay attention to, including:

    * There is no significant statistical association between gun deaths and mental illness, stress, illegal drug use, higher levels of unemployment, or higher levels of inequality
    * There is a correlation between gun deaths and poverty, percentage of working class jobs, economic development, education levels, and levels of happiness and well-being.
    * Roughly speaking, there’s an exact opposite correlation between “red” and “blue” states, where there is a positive correlation in the former and a negative in the latter, although the article points out that this isn’t due to political affiliations, but rather the economics and–surprise–strength or lack thereof of gun control policies
    * There is actually a negative correlation between gun deaths and immigrant populations

  95. @ Jonathon Von Post: Rarely does something in the real world have only one contributing factor.

    Yes, it’s about mental illness. And it’s about the role of violence in — and by — the United States. And it’s about the availability of firearms. And so on.

  96. 2jrt – We are two fab JRTs. Our Alfa Dogs was born in the Czech Republic, what ever that means. There is also Doll and Millachek living with us. Check out our cute stories.
    2jrt

    Also – it is very sad, that mother who bought guns to PROTECT herself and her family was at the end shot with them by her own son! They didn’t protect her and her family at all

  97. It’s interesting to me that someone early on brought up the Bath School Bombing.

    Explosives, unlike guns, are aggressively regulated. If you want a bomb, you will have to build it yourself; despite the fact that instructions for doing this are available, this is not as easy as the bad guys in movies make it look. Moreover, buying certain materials will quickly attract the attention of the authorities. I’m pretty sure that if you are discovered to have a large stockpile of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in your basement and insist it’s just for your rosebushes, they don’t say “oh, carry on then” and leave you to your business. Finally, you can’t go down to your local bomb shop to pick up bombs. (Well, in Wisconsin you can buy fireworks. But again, there are complicated regulations on consumer-grade fireworks that are designed to minimize the actual explosive power anyone is going to have in their hands.)

    The net result is that we have very few bombings. There are exceptions, but even there — did you know that Klebold and Harris (the Columbine killers) had actually intended to blow up their school and shoot the survivors? Had their bombs worked as planned, the death toll would have been far higher.

    Because, as it turns out, making weaponry illegal does in fact make it harder to get, and to use to commit crimes. And when only outlaws have bombs, it gives you a lot of tools for tracking down those outlaws.

  98. Oh, and BTW, even in Israel, a country that actually does have at least some valid reasons for a well-armed populace, gun control is very very strict (emphasis mine):

    [T]hey’re very limited in who is able to own a gun. There are only a few tens of thousands of legal guns in Israel, and the only people allowed to own them legally live in the settlements, do business in the settlements, or are in professions at risk of violence.

    [Israel and Switzerland] require you to have a reason to have a gun. There isn’t this idea that you have a right to a gun. You need a reason. And then you need to go back to the permitting authority every six months or so to assure them the reason is still valid.

    The second thing is that there’s this widespread misunderstanding that Israel and Switzerland promote gun ownership. They don’t. Ten years ago, when Israel had the outbreak of violence, there was an expansion of gun ownership, but only to people above a certain rank in the military. There was no sense that having ordinary citizens [carry guns] would make anything safer.[…]
    In Israel, it used to be that all soldiers would take the guns home with them. Now they have to leave them on base. Over the years they’ve done this — it began, I think, in 2006 — there’s been a 60 percent decrease in suicide on weekends among IDS soldiers. And it did not correspond to an increase in weekday suicide. People think suicide is an impulse that exists and builds. This shows that doesn’t happen. The impulse to suicide is transitory. Someone with access to a gun at that moment may commit suicide, but if not, they may not.
    […]
    Israel rejects 40 percent of its applications for a gun, the highest rate of rejection of any country in the world. And even when you get approved…“all guns must have an Interior Ministry permit and identifying mark for tracing.” That seems like it might make people think twice before they shoot from a gun they know the government can track.

  99. I am a licensed clinical social worker in Illinois, and I’ve spent almost a decade working with severely mentally ill people. I can diagnose all sorts of mental illnesses. I can treat clients using various therapies, and hook them up with a doctor for medication. I can de-escalate conflict and prevent some types of violence. But one thing I can’t do is reliably predict who is going to commit gun violence. And I would challenge any mental health professional who thought they could.
    It’s hard enough to determine if someone needs to be involuntarily committed because of homicidial or suicidal thoughts in the short-term. Most people do not tell you the full story of what’s going on in their head when you talk to them. While we absolutely need better access to mental health assessment and treatment in the US, I’m not sure it would reduce mass shootings without consistent training of mental health professionals.
    We can help to reduce violence in general though. It should be mandatory (and it’s not) for all mental health professionals to be trained on identifying sociopathic behaviors. This would help us determine who is actively lying to us. When someone actively lies to you in counseling, it could be a sign to pay more attention to their aggressiveness. However this is a tricky proposition. The vast majority of people do not act sociopathic. Some people lie because they are scared or ashamed.
    A few years ago I saw a study showing that people with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators. If we came up with aa awesome screening tool to ID likely mass shooters, we would still identify a lot of false positives. Right now the tools out there seem rather blunt, when what we need is precision.
    One thing I would say with confidence is that the likelihood of committing violence goes up when the individual is using alcohol. Disinhibition is a real risk.
    Personally, what I think would help is if we had a culture in America that took all threats of violence towards others very seriously, to the point that the vast majority of threats were investigated by law enforcement. Moreover, there needs to be more follow up counseling with perpetrators of violence. It is harder to commit violence if there are professionals involved in your life looking at your risk factors.
    Of course, most gun violence seems to actually be perpetrated by gangs or in domestic dispustes, not mass shootings. Maybe we should also address our failed drug war and a culture that accepts male violence against women.

  100. The guns are here now, banning has been ruled unconstitutional, and even if you changed the constitution or had a constitutional ban, the process of getting rid of them would have insane unintended consequences. How would the authorities round up all the guns in the US?

    “Banning” is only as useful as the security at the door or border.
    Even if we had a 100% ban, it would continue to be trivial for people to get guns from other countries and bring them here.

    So we are back to changing culture, of which, about half of the US citizens own guns. So how do you change half of a population without imposing the will of half onto the other half?

    So what can we do short term? Vigilance? Would help some. Schools with single points of entry and no entering of unauthorized people while school is in session and full body searches? But this would not stop someone from planting a bomb on the weekend. Plus in order to enforce these rules, the punishment would need to be enormous to have any effect. “Just her son, of course you can bring her lunch to her.” “Why would the rules apply to her son? he is safe!”

    So short term, there will be no change in guns laws, which leaves, dealing with the mental health side of the equation. For which we have few tools and little to no will.

    TADA – We will do what we do after every single mass killing event. Wring our hands and then move on. So we are screwed.

  101. @ illmunkeys

    And yet more people are killed by cars then by guns. In addition the Constitution does not limit the Governments ability to regulate your ability to own and use a car, the 2nd Amendment does limit their ability to regulate a firearm. I don’t think criminals are that worried about a gun control laws, guns are pretty easy to conceal, transport, and sell; it is only the law abiding that gun control truly affects, case in point, DC and Mexico.

    @ Genufett

    Surveys are generally how these topics are studied in academics, in fact I don’t know if there is anyone that keeps an accurate record of defensive gun use, I am looking at the FBI National Crime data to see what I can find, but a portion of DGU isn’t going to get reported or end up with some one dead. The point I was making about CO and Tucson, AZ isn’t that they would have been stopped by a CCW is that they could have been prevent all together if there had been a better effort made to get them the mental health care that they obviously needed, thus preventing the shooting. Nor was I trying to state that you were asking for disarming the law abiding, that was more of a general comment that I was making, and wasn’t applied to you.

  102. I’m not opposed to any kind of gun control, but I think it needs to be very moderate. To say that no one should have a gun is to say that the only people that should are government agencies, and I’m not comfortable with that. That kind of thing is really just an attempt to control things that just can’t be controlled.

    Consider: The same day in China, which has very strict gun control, a man walked into a primary school and stabbed 22 children.

    Consider: Why do these monsters shoot up schools and movie theaters rather than, say, a police station? Simple… too many guns there.

    I think we need to look at alternative methods. Security guards – armed security guards – or lockdown systems, things like that. I know we hate to do it because we hate to admit the kind of society we live in, but it’s the truth.

  103. I just want to add a small comment again: not every bad act is done by someone with clinical mental illness. Plenty of people just suck.

  104. Maybe we should also address our failed drug war and a culture that accepts male violence against women.
    Yup. These are so much larger problems. And kill so many more people. We really need to work on ending our wars. The war on drugs is lost. Legalize, tax, treat and educate. This alone would be cheaper, easier to implement, not have constitutional issues and save more lives per year than a war on guns. And yet, we wont even discus the issue. Political will.

    Which leads to SF, I have read tons of SF with personal responsibility and gun ownershipt (heinlein), but I am struggling to think of a near future book which addressed a method for a country like the US to get rid of guns. Anyone have a good example??

  105. Paul: Surveys are not the norm in academics when studies are readily available. But thanks for clarifying the disarmament statement, I’ve seen way too many people jump to that conclusion when I make my points.

  106. @david . . . I took the time to read the comments before I wrote my comments.

    I addressed what I read. Did I miss a proposed law that would help beyond current laws?

    Did you make a proposal I missed?

    “Absolutist nonsense” seems to me a reasonable response to vague assertions I read above.

    And as much as this is one of literally thousands of places where these discussions are going on, it does not appear to be of any higher quality or greater details than others I read.

    My comments were generalized because that is the level of discourse in this forum.

    And, read the comments . . . am I wrong in discerning the implication this tragedy would have been avoided if only were were more like other countries? Or had more laws? Fewer guns?

    From what little I can find out, those were legally purchased guns, the kind I might have. I’m open to hearing how this tragedy could have been prevented by additional restrictions, background checks, new laws, etc.

  107. Oh, and if anyone is looking for facts, the CDC has some.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158433081/guns-101-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont

    2009: “there were 34,500 motor vehicle deaths, and there were 31,400 firearm deaths. But what we know is that motor vehicle deaths have come down so that they have come down to 32,000. And we also know that firearm deaths may be rising. So there may actually be, this year to come, more firearm deaths than motor vehicle deaths.” …. “the number who are reported with non-fatal injuries from firearms through hospital emergency departments in 2009 was about 58,000 people.”

    “The rate of homicide fatalities from guns is eight to nine times as high for black males as it is for white males.”

    “families and homes in which there was a gun, not only were they not protected against homicide, but the risk of gun homicide to people in those households was 2.7 times greater than the households without a gun. And the risk of suicide in those households was 4.8 times greater in the households with firearms.”

    Of course, maybe people who own guns are more likely to live in high-crime areas, but the CDC’s funding is limited, so it seems like they don’t track data on that granularity.

  108. Also – it is very sad, that mother who bought guns to PROTECT herself and her family was at the end shot with them by her own son! They didn’t protect her and her family at all

    How is this sad? The mother was irresponsible. The guns were not in a safe, which only she knew the combination. The guns were not trigger locked, with only her having the key. And, you do not know why she had the guns. Safety could have not been an issue. Could have been hunting or target shooting.

    And none of this matters. The kid went WACK. He would have gotten a gun from somewhere else, someone else and done the same thing. Certainly the mother made it easier for her son to have access to the guns.

    I can not imagine owning guns which were not completely safed and having anyone in the house.
    But then again, I own VERY sharp knives and I watch the kiddies very close when they are over visiting.

  109. @ Genufett

    I am not sure how one would otherwise study the defensive use of a firearm. I have actually followed this topic for awhile and everyone that I am aware of including the government, academics, and other independent organizations, use surveys as a means to study the defensive use of firearms. There is no other mechanism that I am aware of to gather this kind of information other than asking people if they have ever use a firearms in self defense or as deterrence.

  110. @ Paul

    Doesn’t law enforcement track whether firearms were used in self-defense? I would think that would be critical in determining if they have to charge someone with a crime.

  111. Just want to point out that Justin your either a liar or just pulling numbers out of your ass. Deaths from swimming pools are less than one twentieth that of guns. About 33,000 deaths this year from guns. About 3000 deaths from drowning(swimming pool or otherwise).

  112. NRA-Gun-Logic applied to any other topic, sounds insane:

    People still break gun control laws, therefore there’s no point in having any laws on gun control. Change it to any other topic and it is obviously insane: People still drive recklessly despite all the laws against reckless driving, therefore there’s no point in having any laws against reckless driving. People commit murder despite all the laws against murder, therefore there’s no point in having any laws against murder. People commit rape despite all the laws against rape, therefore there’s not point in having any laws against rape. Uh, no. That’s crazy logic.

    People are using this shooting tragedy to push their gun control issues on the rest of us. Change it to any other topic and it is obviously insane: People are using this drunk driving tragedy to tighten laws about driving drunk. People are using a woman’s death in a domestic violence case to tighten laws around domestic violence. People are using this case of steel mill monopolies to enact restrictions against all monopolies. People are using this individual case of snake oil medicine to regulate all medicine. People are using this individual case of bad meat in hot dogs to regulate all food sales. Uh, yeah, that’s how normal people fix problems with the law.

    The NRA-gun-logic wants anonymoust gun deals as the defacto standard for how guns are treated. Any paper trail, they will argue, will automatically slippery slope into UN black helicopters sweeping in and seizing all the guns.

    From http://www.salon.com/2012/07/23/nra_a_lobby_for_criminals/

    thanks to the NRA, there is no centralized database. Instead, gun sale records are “archived” by the nation’s 60,000 federally licensed firearms dealers at their places of business. Oh, and the BATF has estimated that 1 percent of those dealers are corrupt, which means there are about 600 dealers regularly funneling guns to criminals. But that 1 percent figure may be way off the mark. When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent undercover agents to gun stores making it clear to salespeople that they were illegal straw purchasers, 25 percent of dealers broke the law and sold them guns anyway. At gun shows — which sell about 30 percent of the guns identified in criminal trafficking cases — a staggering 94 percent of licensed dealers were willing to make such illegal sales.

    But the NRA can’t allow it because their utopia version of life would have mail-order machine guns shipped overnight and assault rifles sold for cash in vending machines. It’s insane.

    Actually, there’s probably a good political cartoon in there. a vending machine that dispenses glocks, colt45’s, and even ar15’s, and a sign at the top that says “Brougth to you by the NRA”.

  113. @ Todd Stull

    Law enforcement tracks this kind of information up until a point, but the problem is that not all cases are going to get reported to the Police or other law enforcement types. I would imagine this is especially true in high crime and poorer areas in the US.

  114. @Judy in SATX, you have my sympathy as well. I think it says good things about you that you’re paying any attention to the outside world at all. I hope the time you have left with your son is good. At least you know it’s coming and have had some time to prepare, unlike the parents in this case.

  115. @ Todd Stull,
    Part of the issue seems to be that (at least in some stories) ‘guns in self defence’ can range from actual use down to showing a gun/telling you have the gun to scare the ‘probable attacker’ away.

  116. disperser: There are a number of proposals put forth in this thread and elsewhere, including the regulation of semi-automatic weapons, large magazines, tracking systems, enhanced training programs, etc. You may want to go back and re-read the thread, because they’re right there.

    Paul: If you’re only finding surveys instead of statistical research and studies, especially from governments and academics, you’re not looking in the right places. Every state and federal executive department has at least one statistical bureau. Any LEO that is not including due diligence reporting on how a crime is being stopped is being negligent, and I know from experience that most LEOs are very diligent. Some portion of this will be self-reported, i.e. only available from interviews, but much of it can be determined via scientific methods (ballistics, surveillance, etc).

    That being said, it can be difficult tracking this sort of stuff down. I didn’t get a lot of information about criminal activity until I started a graduate program related to the field, and much of the information requires jumping through a lot of hoops and may not be readily available or in machine-readable formats (don’t get me started on messing around with SAS or SPSS) that aren’t something you can just link to.

  117. I think Digby gets it right at her blog Hullabaloo when she suggests reducing the supply first, then moving on to resolve some of the deeper issues – such as America’s cultural obsession with guns, mental health assessment and treatment. She uses the example of Australia, where a gunman killed dozens of people in Port Arthur, Tasmania in the late 90’s. I’m a New Zealander and I remember the incident – it was horrendous and shocking, and it galvanised the government into sweeping changes to gun regulation. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since.
    Here’s a link to the post in question: http://digbysblog.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/shut-down-pump-little-parable-for-our.html

  118. @paul: your car statistics are a misdirection. Cars and gun deaths are not comparable. I think you missed my entire conversation about the relevance of the 2nd amendment with respect to this ruling which basically does give the government the constitutionally relevant power to restrict weapons. So, go scan through all that.

  119. “There is no constitutional bar to some limitation and regulation of firearms. The real question — the only real question, to my mind — is whether there is the political will for it.”

    There are hundreds of gun laws and regulations. I think a better question is what works and what doesn’t. In the US, places with bans and other restrictions don’t experience a higher level of safety. Politicians seem more interested in looking like they are doing something, as opposed to being pragmatic and doing what will actually work.

  120. Genufett says: “…there are significantly less deaths [ by gunshot] in states with stricter gun control legislation,…[ link to AtlanticMonthly article] ”
    It is no small thing that the author of this article admits that the death figures he displays include righteous killings, suicides, and “accidents.” CDC data break these categories out of the mass; yet he made no effort to differentiate between felonious assault and laudable defense, taking instead processed figures from a California health-insurance firm. Would limiting himself to criminal behavior have helped his – and Genufett’s – case, or harmed it? We’ll never know. The conclusion that G is led to by this data – that any old ragbag of restrictions of firearm ownership will have a beneficial effect – is not demonstrated. Correlation, causation, yatta yatta.

    There will always be bad people. They will always seek to do bad things. Sometimes they will succeed. You will not reduce the likelihood of their success by making it inconvenient to defend against them. Freya always fails, Hoder is always devastated, Baldur always dies.

  121. And actually, to all you people arguing that stricter gun restrictions would not help prevent mass shootings, what is your explanation for why we have so many more mass shootings here in the US than they have in countries with tighter laws? What is the other thing that is unique to the US? Mental illness exists everywhere. Angry people exist everywhere. Bad people exist everywhere. What is so unique about the US if it is not our lack of gun laws?

  122. Scalzi … you went there. Good on you. Hope the uproar hasn’t been too bad.

    Decades ago, I called the local newspaper Ombudsman and asked why a friend’s armed citizen’s arrest of a felon hadn’t been in the paper (I knew that the paper knew of it because I’d seen one of their staff photogs at the station when I went to get my friend and take him home, she asked why I was there and he told her.) “Tom, I’ve got the story on my desk. It’s not news. News is man bites dog. This is man doesn’t bite dog. This is how things are supposed to work, and it’s not news.”

    It does happen, and it actually does get reported from time to time, and sometimes someone will send a link to Armed Citizen, a kind of link list at the (shudder) NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (who makes up these names?)

    It really is a people problem. People can violate the laws. Perhaps because they’re ignorant of them, or they think they have a good reason to disobey the law. Sometimes the violation turns out to have been a good thing, and people object to the perpetrator being punished for the violation.

  123. I’m kind of done with the indulgent bickering about mental health and gun control. Parse it however you like, our country is shockingly lenient in the way it controls gun ownership. Our country’s health care system rarely has working support in place for individuals suffering from any number of mental health issues. Would having stronger gun control laws and better mental health care have made a difference in this tragedy, we will never know, we do know it would greatly reduce their frequency.

    I don’t know or care about the details that led to the shooter doing what he did. He crossed a line with the first shot.

    At the end of the day though I only care about:
    Charlotte 
    Daniel 
    Rachel 
    Olivia 
    Josephine 
    Ana 
    Dylan 
    Dawn 
    Madeline 
    Catherine 
    Chase 
    Jesse 
    James 
    Grace 
    Anne Marie
    Emilie 
    Jack 
    Noah 
    Caroline 
    Jessica 
    Avielle 
    Lauren 
    Mary 
    Victoria 
    Benjamin 
    Allison 

    They are dead, their families and friends and community mourn them, they will never be able to share their stories again.

  124. stencil: You are aware that this makes things look worse rather than better? In other words, a number of them are completely preventable. See my other linked article regarding Israel and the portion about suicides for an example. FWIW, there’s >a href=”http://www.kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2012/07/21/assault-deaths-within-the-united-states/”>relevant info on assault deaths as well (interesting data point: the US is significantly more violent than most of the OECD, and the Southern US is more violent than other regions). And as for restrictions not being effective, that’s just a flat-out lie, as states with restrictions are specifically extracted from the data. In any case, if you’ve got data to refute the assertions linked, you’re free to provide them, otherwise your assertions are nothing more than biased assumptions.

    Also, I’m not sure what “a California health-insurance” firm has to do with anything. They’re getting their data from government sources, not making it up out of thin air. And if your answer is “shit happens, let’s not do anything about it,” then you are, in the parlance of our times, doing it wrong. You’re also in disagreement with 90%+ of Americans, including 70%+ of NRA members.

  125. “We could make the NYC subway platforms so that people can’t get to the tracks when the train isn’t there. But we don’t.”

    WRONG – modern subways are designed with inner walls and doors so people can’t leap/ be shoved to their death. Hard to retrofit existing systems – just like we can’t change that America is chock full of guns now – but a badly build current environment doesn’t mean there are no better options. There are better ways of doing things, for subways and gun regulation.

  126. At the risk of repeating myself, if you think that proposed gun control is the wrong way of doing things, then you’re welcome to provide solutions that have proven to reduce the problem in the real world. Some folks here are doing this, but a lot of it is starting to sound like it’s recycled from the usual NRA Underpants Gnomes methodology that has thus far proven to be ineffective if not contrary to the reduction of gun violence.

  127. htom: If the NRA “Armed Citizen” spent a the majority of the money it raised lobbying Congress with improvements to firearm education and proven gun violence prevention methods rather than regaling readers with horror stories saying that, even though it didn’t happen this year, Obama and liberals are taking away their guns and repealing the Second Amendment *next* year, maybe they’d have some credence.

  128. I have a lot of Thoughts on this, being someone who works with firearms professionally. Most are points people are already making, so I won’t belabor them. But I do want to respond to all the people saying, “But I’ve never heard of someone defending his/her life with a gun! And you hear about innocent people being shot all the time! Therefore, nobody should have guns QED!”

    Among the people I know:

    * Quite a few people I know personally have defended themselves with firearms, including both home invasions and being threatened with knife-, club-, or gun-wielding perpetrators on the street. This happens. It’s real. I have people in my life who would not be alive if they hadn’t been carrying.
    * On top of that, I’ve heard countless more stories from people I meet about family or friends or other people they know using guns to defend themselves. This has included little old ladies stopping home invaders, fathers protecting their families, elderly men defending themselves against gang members wielding tire irons, and single women defending themselves. This has included people protecting themselves during the Rodney King riots, when the police were no help, by brandishing weapons or firing in the air. Because I work in firearms, people tell me these stories as conversation openers / small talk, whether I meet them working or at parties or whatever — and most of these stories come from people who are not gun people. (It’s possible you know people who have similar stories but they just haven’t told them to you — I think it’s more common than you think.)
    * Three people I know have pretended they had firearms (put their hands under clothing as if they were about to draw, or shouted about having a gun) to get out of a bad situation. Two of these were on the street; one was a home invasion. Fortunately the criminals did not call their bluffs.
    * I’ve been told countless times, including by law enforcement officers, that it would be a good idea to illegally carry concealed when traveling to certain areas at night (which I often have to do for my job). I haven’t, but I’m looking into getting my CCW because I know they’re right about the danger. Unfortunately, a CCW is almost impossible to get in LA County, where I live.

    This is all anecdotal, but please consider that maybe gun defense just isn’t as reported on as gun violence is, particularly when the defense is the threat of the defender having a gun even if the defender didn’t actually have to discharge it. And another poster got it right when s/he said that saying “nobody in America needs a gun!!” is an incredible expression of privilege. Not everyone is lucky enough to live a life in which s/he has the privilege of never feeling threatened, and to assume everyone has that option, or can “just move,” is absolutely blind. Maybe you feel that you don’t need a gun — but a lot of people legitimately feel they do.

    I know people who have been shot at, knifed, attacked by thugs, raped, cornered by biker gangs, or threatened with physical violence by much larger people. I know people who have had their homes broken into, who have had their children threatened, who have had a death threat put out on them because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who have actually had a school shooting happen at their school. Argue whether you think gun control will decrease total violence, fine. That’s a legitimate argument to have. But don’t tell me “nobody needs a gun” for self-defense. Because that is straight-up not true, no matter how much we all wish it were.

  129. slhuang: Notwithstanding the “anecdotes are not the plural of data” standard, the thing is that almost nobody is telling you (or anyone else) that nobody needs a gun. The vast majority are, in fact, arguing that gun control will decrease total violence.

  130. Kevin Canady,
    -in Oregon, the civilian never really engaged the shooter. The civilian claims the shooter saw him, and then took his own life. I find that claim dubious at best.
    -in Colorado Springs, the civilian was, in fact, a former police officer working as security, so I don’t think she really counts as a civilian.
    -in the other two cases, the civilians didn’t become involved until after several people were already dead, and in those cases subdued the shooter. (This is relevant because the fantasy is that an armed civilian will return fire after the first shots, and kill the shooter before more than a very few are injured.)

    Still, thank you for being one of the very very few who can actually point to any cases of civilian involvement in the resolution of a mass shooting.

  131. @Genufett: Sorry, I should have been clearer — I wasn’t responding to the people who were making the absolutely legitimate arguments about total violence you speak of. I’m enjoying reading those arguments and even agree with some of them. My post was directed specifically at the few people who did make the “nobody needs a gun ever” argument, of which there have been a few (again, not the majority of posters).

    Sorry I wasn’t more clear about whom I was responding to. I’m actually not black-and-white against gun control myself, as long as the regulation makes sense. Please continue making good arguments, all.

    (And anecdotes do not equal data, but they do provide proof by counterexample, if someone makes the sweeping statement about “nobody needing a gun ever.”)

  132. slhuang: Gotcha. Re: anecdotes, I’d say that neither is a counterbalance to the other, but between our perspectives, it’s six of one, half-dozen of another.

  133. Slhuang

    It’s incredibly difficult looking at this as an outsider because it is so profoundly different to my own experience living in a culture in which gun ownership and gun use is rare.

    I don’t understand why the capability to murder easily is regarded as a basic human right to be defended at all costs…

  134. What I am sick of the most is this: “gun control won’t prevent this sort of thing, they’ll just get the weapons illegally”. It’s lazy thinking and it’s just an excuse to give in to the despair and depression that come just from hearing about these terrible shootings. And it’s only one step above the “ignore it and it’ll go away” a.k.a. “if the media would only stop publicizing the shooter blah blah blah…” response.

    It’s just disgusting to witness the same tired hopeless rhetoric again and again. After 9-11, a much less likely event than a mass shooting, we didn’t pull this tired BS out. We made dang sure that no lunatics with boxcutters were going to hijack a plane again. Even if it meant a lot of expensive useless security. How is this any different?

    We need to realize that Gun Control isn’t about banning guns. It’s about *controlling* them so that people who aren’t right in the head have a very difficult time getting ahold of them. The govt has a role in that they should be keeping certain kinds of weapons, like those with a high rate of fire, from circulating and also doing more to help troubled people get treatment be we also need to change attitudes towards guns.

    We are not treating these things with the respect the deserve. We need gun owners to think about who else may get access to their guns and maybe rethink how it’s being stored or whether the need those guns at all. We need gun sellers to drop this political 2nd amendment rationalization and start thinking and checking into who they’re selling to a bit more. We need more people watching out for troubled people with guns and generally being a busybody.

    We need more celebrity PSAs and less macho 2nd amendment political posturing. This action isn’t about crime, criminals are at least somewhat rational actors. It’s about public safety, and we need to treat it that way. If we can change attitudes about seatbelts, drunk driving, and airport security in a generation, there’s no reason we can’t at least try to make a dent in this.

  135. @Stevie — It’s weird. I grew up in a place where no one owned guns. Never heard about gun violence. My parents were anti-gun.

    Then I grew up and moved other places and interacted with people of lots of different backgrounds, and I also started working in firearms which makes people eager to tell me all sorts of these stories. And frankly, it’s terrifying the amounts of violence some people I know have seen. Good people, people who are not violent themselves. I tell my friends from college stories sometimes, and they’re stunned, because they live in worlds where that doesn’t happen. But there are plenty of places in America where it does.

    And like I said to Genufett, I’m honestly not sure whether more or less gun control, or what kind of gun control, is the right answer. It’s a complicated issue. I’m the first to admit that. (And I really am enjoying the discussion, on both sides.) But I do understand why people want to hang onto their guns — because they’ve been in positions where they’ve had to use them, and they don’t trust the government to protect them. It’s not about the right to be capable of murder; it’s about the desperate desire to make sure those senseless murders don’t happen to you. It’s not a simple issue, unfortunately.

  136. I think that one problem of ongoing debates is the propensity for people to demand a quick fix and immediate solutions. The argument that gun control wouldn’t stop atrocities from happening makes perfect sense if you view it from that perspective, but over a longer period of time reducing the number of guns in the country through registration and policing seems like a coherent and rational response to a far-too-common occurrence.

    Perhaps it doesn’t impact on the underlying causes that motivate people to engage in such horrors, but the notion that amelioratives shouldn’t be pursued while also seeking a address the deeper concerns isn’t one that I hold in high regard.

  137. This is tragic, but though the woman who owned the weapons her son used is also a victim, she bears responsibility for allowing her son to gain possession of the weapons. The mentally ill should not be painted with a broad brush, but it seems that the combination of mentally ill and guns is a bad combination leading to tragedy. Find me a policy or course of action that keeps the mentally ill from gaining access to guns, and school children, but doesn’t impede my ability to defend my family from someone attempting to assault us, and I’ll vote for it.

  138. Re: those who have mentioned the possibility of arming teachers . . . most of you have flatly rejected the idea, for which I would like to say “thank you.” As a teacher myself, of several decades standing: no. Just, no. And not because my colleagues and I are just as prone to bullying or to becoming mentally ill as anyone in any other kind of work. Rather, because we don’t, shouldn’t, need guns in order to do our jobs, and because–frankly–we are by and large not the most technologically sophisticated population out there, and guns are fairly complex pieces of technology. I mean, I can’t even make the copy machine work right most of the time, or the remote control for the overheard computer, and you want me to be responsible for a gun? Even with extensive training, the best outcome I can imagine is that I would shoot my own foot off. The worst? I shoot someone else, or have the thing blow up in my hand because I screwed up basic maintenance. If you plan to arm every teacher, then you are going to be giving guns to a great many people who don’t want guns, who don’t want to learn how to use guns, and who will probably never learn how to use guns very safely. If only one or two teachers in a school/department is armed, then you’ve essentially got a teacher acting as a part-time security guard–which I also don’t think makes much sense, since that wasn’t the job they signed up for.

    Personally, I think that the idea of registering guns the way we do cars is a useful one to explore. Arming people who do not wish to be armed, who didn’t come up with that option on their own? Not worth thinking about. Please.

  139. I meant to add, John Brunner was a remarkably prescient writer, and coined the term “muckers” in his novel Stand on Zanzibar. The term was used to describe those who seemingly spontaneously run amok in public places, as a reaction to society, technology, and associated factors. I recommend this book, along with Brunner’s “Shockwave Rider” and “The Sheep Look Up”

  140. @ Mary Frances I don’t want to sound argumentative at all, but if you were in the situation several teachers found themselves in yesterday, what would your reaction be? I imagine you’d wish you were not in the situation, understandably.

  141. @Rob G: do you need a semi-automatic weapon in your home to protect yourself and your family? If not, and you want to own one anyway, would you be willing to store it at a gun club and only use it on their shooting range? Would you be willing to undergo a licensing process before being granted the right to keep a gun in your home? Would you be willing to either keep your guns in a safe that only you have the key to or have everyone else who lives in your home undergo a licensing process? Would you be willing to sign up to the legal responsibility to report the fact that a member of your household has developed signs of a mental illness, and have your ability to keep a gun unsecured in your home re-examined if such a thing happened?

    These seem like possible starting places for discussion to me. But I am not a gun owner, so I do not know what gun owners will find reasonable. I would be very interested to hear.

  142. Sihuang,

    I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe that most people see violence of the kind you cite. A few points…

    a) MOST people. I know violence of the kind you describe exists, but I do not believe that half the population faces those situations and yet almost half of households have guns. Do some of those people truly need guns as protection? Sure. Do most of them? I doubt it.

    b) personal anecdotes are not data. You know people who’ve faced violence and survived because of being armed. I don’t know anyone like that. Neither of our experiences means that most people are like us. And while you know people who live because they had guns… there are 20 children dead today because someone unstable had a gun. Children who did not, in fact, put themselves in an unsafe situation. And yes, I think that most people who face violence often enough to need a gun for protection could remove themselves from that situation.

    c) No one here has said “No one needs a gun ever” so you’re setting up a hyperbolic strawman. What I will say is that comparatively few of the people who own guns really do need them for protection. Many more create a version of reality in their heads where they think they need guns… even though they’ve never been close to a situation where they did, in fact, need them.

  143. slhuang}} I have a lot of Thoughts on this, being someone who works with firearms professionally. Most are points people are already making, so I won’t belabor them. But I do want to respond to all the people saying, “But I’ve never heard of someone defending his/her life with a gun! And you hear about innocent people being shot all the time! Therefore, nobody should have guns QED!” {{

    You know, I’ve read this whole thread. I I don’t remember anybody saying anything like that, except to argue against it. Which people in this discussion are the “all the people” (wow! sounds like a lot of them!) who are saying “But I’ve never heard of someone defending his/her life with a gun! And you hear about innocent people being shot all the time! Therefore, nobody should have guns QED!” In case I’d forgotten someone, I did a search on “nobody” and on “need” and couldn’t find even a single person saying any such thing. Much less “a few” or “all of” them.

  144. Rob G – part of the issue is that it’s incredibly unlikely that any given school teacher will ever find themselves in such a situation. And if we have a society where the only way to be safe is to arm every school teacher we have a much sicker society than I want to live in.

  145. Rob G: That’s an extremely odd hypothetical. Without the proper training and–let’s face it–motivation or ability to injure or kill another human, even an antagonistic one, it’s near to impossible to know how to react. Even with that, it’s difficult. Using the situation where there’s a mandate for the teacher to be armed and without knowing the killer’s motivation, the possession of a firearm or the killer’s knowledge that the teacher would be armed changes their status from possible target to definite target. That likely wouldn’t have made the difference in this situation, but in one where the assailant is making more tactical decisions than emotional/snap judgement ones it would in all likelihood be the difference between life and death.

  146. And to echo what rickg17 and several others here and many many others here have said: When we’re having discussions about arming kindergarten teachers, the problem is very deep and very cultural. It means we’ve crossed a line that should make all of us very scared and ashamed of how far the desire for maintaining guns at all costs has trumped maintaining children and education at all costs.

  147. @ Cloud, Personally, I’d own a single shot, a revolver and a semi-auto handgun, and a few long arms, and keep them in my home under lock and key. While I would take measures to have a family member treated for a mental illness, and notify the government as required if a family member had a mental illness that would have bearing on their ability to possess a firearm, I would not give the government the right to tell me whether or not I could possess one.

    @ rickg17, while it may be incredibly unlikely, it does seem to occur often enough, with tragic results, in schools and other public places. Forewarned is forearmed, sad but true.

  148. @Rob G- so what is your proposed solution? That we should all just fear for our children when we send them to school? That I should be willing to sacrifice my children to your right to avoid any government-imposed mandates on your gun ownership- even mandates to take actions that you say you are willing to take? That I should seriously contemplate the idea of arming elementary school teachers? I am willing to consider other options, but so far the only ones on offer make me either want to weep or throw up.

  149. Rob G. at 7:55: Well, in the “shooter on campus” drills we have, I lock the classroom door and keep students down and away from the windows. If the shooter is already in the room before I hear the alarm, I’m supposed to try to keep his attention focused on me for as long as possible, while shouting at the students to leave by whatever means they can; I sincerely hope I’d have courage enough, and presence of mind enough, to do that. On the whole, I am afraid I wouldn’t–but there is a better chance that I’d succeed in following that training that I would in firing a gun in any way that would be helpful to the situation. I know me, and what I’m capable of: I’m a klutz, at best. What I’m really terrified of is that my panicky attempts to stop the shooter would add to the death toll among my students–I can see that happening all too easily.

    If you’d told me when I decided on teaching as a career that carrying a gun was part of said career, I’d have gone into another line of work. Period, and for exactly the same reason that I never considered a career in law enforcement. I’d be willing to bet that most of my academic colleagues have similar feelings, and I’d probably include the ones applying for teaching certificates even as we speak. We are not a good population to offer this responsibility. Now, maybe if we start training and hiring new teachers in the understanding that defending classrooms with guns is part of the job, we’ll have a cadre of comfortably-armed teachers in a generation or so . . . but I kind of doubt it. I suspect we’d just have a lot fewer teachers.

  150. We certainly do have gun control laws on the books; and they certainly are supposed to keep people with histories of criminal activity or mental illness from owning a gun. But those persons’ relatives, room-mates, spouses and good buddies can still own guns. The latest murderous nut-job found all the guns he needed right there at home, because his mother (who was his first victim) was a gun enthusiast and owned several, which she apparently did not keep in a gun safe.

    We certainly do have gun control laws on the books; and they certainly are supposed to keep people with histories of criminal activity or mental illness from owning a gun. But that means doing background checks, which means buying guns from a licensed dealer. The famous “gun-show loophole” gets around background checks and waiting periods because people who are not licensed to sell guns can sell, trade, or give guns at gun shows as “private individuals.” Private individuals may sell, trade or give away guns without keeping any records or doing any checks at all.

    We certainly do have gun control laws on the books; and they certainly are supposed to keep people with histories of criminal activity or mental illness from owning a gun. But laws have to be enforced, by law enforcement agents checking records and verifying information. You need actual agents to do that, and they need access to constantly-updated databases to do that. All of which requires money. Tax money. You want better enforcement of the gun laws we already have? Splendid! Tell Congress you support tax increases to fully fund the law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing gun control laws. Good luck with that.

    We certainly do have a national epidemic of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. What should we do about it? More testing, more follow-up, amend laws so potentially-dangerous people may be monitored or institutionalized as preventive measures? More available and affordable mental health care and treatment? That will take money. A lot of money. Money to devise the tests, hire the clinicians to analyze the tests, more clinicians to treat people, still more clinicians to do follow-up and monitoring, more clinics and hospitals to put people in (not just to warehouse them, either, but to treat them so they can re-join society, which is a lot more expensive than just drugging them into quiescence). We’re talking money. Vast quantities of money. Mostly public funding, which means tax dollars, which means – again! – tell Congress you support tax increases to fully fund the effort to treat the national epidemic of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. And, again: good luck with that.

    The overlap between the people who do not and will not support fully implementing and enforcing current gun control laws, and the people who do not and will not support increasing taxes to pay for any workable solution to this mess, is at least 80%. Even the ones who like to sound reasonable about supporting a few half-measures here and there, won’t support paying for any of it.

  151. Silhuang

    Our backgrounds are very different; my parents were both career military. I grew up with people whose job was to kill people. They weren’t murderers.

    My point remains that guns are the capability of murdering people easily; you dropped the word ‘easily’ in your response, unsurprisingly since it does rather screw your hypothesis…

  152. Weep, throw up or make hard, clear choices? I don’t want to get all Dirty Harry here by any means. Disarming the populace will have the unintended consequence of allowing criminals to prey on the vulnerable, criminals might no longer shoot their victims, they’ll just beat them or stab them. I’m sure that the victims will feel better knowing that at least large scale shootings are not occurring.

    So what can be realistically done? First, as a cultural thing, gun owners like the now-dead mother who owned firearms must be encouraged, “shamed” fined, etc in order to ensure that they don’t allow the weapons in their possession to be used improperly. Second as a cultural thing, we have to encourage honest mental health screening starting with parents, schools and communities, wit ha lot of checks, balances and oversight lest we repeat the abuse that occured in mental health care in the early 20th, but also averting the issues caused by “mainstreaming” the mentally ill in the latter half of the 20th century. By all accounts so far, the shooter was bright, but exhibited warning signs for several years, and it could well be that immediate family was in denial of the obvious.

    Next, restrict access to schools by increasing security. No one likes the idea and the image it may present, it will cost more money, but it’s almost surely going to save lives. This guy drove into the parking lot of the school, reportedly with a rifle in plain sight, and walked into the school. Most schools allow that much access, it’s a security risk that needs to be addressed, a hard choice. Just keeping out “bad guys” might be enough to eliminate the need for armed persons inside schools.

    Last, parents, school boards, and teachers are going to have to decide what level of protection they want for their schools, and implement them accordingly. ( If school choice was the law of the land, this would be easier to implement, but that’s another topic)

    Feel free to shoot holes in my suggestions, no pun intended.

  153. For the hojillionth time, no one here is proposing universal disarmament. And by your rationale, teachers will require military-level training (gotta prevent that crossfire). Why not show them and the parents all of the mass shooting crime scene photos? That should really help with the whole school choice thing.

    Do you see how far down the rabbit hole this goes when we’re trading a lax gun culture for the security of the populace?

  154. @Rob G- so I go back to my earlier comment. What a lot of the freedoms guaranteed by the 5th and 8th amendments you are willing to force other people to give up just so you don’t have to accept more restrictions on the freedoms you believe the 2nd amendment guarantees you.

    I disagree with your interpretation of the 2nd amendment. And the data disagree with your argument about whether or not more restrictions on guns will reduce deaths.

  155. @rickg17 and @Cally:

    Re: Responding to other people — I was paraphrasing with “nobody needs a gun ever.” (Should have quoted.) I started rereading the thread to find what I’d been responding to.

    rochrist at 1:16 pm said, “I don’t really see any use for handguns. The given one seems to be self-defense, but . . .” and then went on to argue against self-defense as being relevant.

    Fred at 1:50 pm said, “Reading the US news I have never, ever seen ‘fortunately, someone was armed with a gun and therefore the crime didn’t happen’. I have seen so, so many ‘however, someone had a gun and now someone else is dead’ . . .” and went on to say a lot more in a similar vein.

    rickg17, you yourself said, “let me remind you of the number of shooting incidents that have been stopped by an armed civilian… zero. None. Nada.” Now maybe you were talking about mass shootings rather than personal incidents, but it’s not clear.

    I don’t have time to reread the whole thread, but there were similar sentiments expressed by others, so, no, not a “hyperbolic strawman.” I do apologize because I think I came off as more vehemently anti-gun control than I am — I am the first to admit it’s complicated and that sane regulations make sense. And I also don’t believe, to respond further to rickg17, that *most* people in America face this kind of violence — but I wasn’t trying to say most people do; I was trying to say SOME people do. Because people making blanket statements brushing off guns as legitimate self-defense pushes my buttons, as it’s discounting the very real experiences of people who HAVE needed to use them that way, and this is mucked up in my head with regard to class/gender privilege, because a lot of people who make sweeping statements like that are speaking from a white middle-class (and sometimes male, which is relevant) place. Which is why, I think, my post came off stronger than I intended it to.

    I’m absolutely not trying to sound off against valid gun control concerns (sorry for the confusion) — I haven’t jumped into the other parts of the discussion because most of what I would say is already being said more eloquently by other people, and I didn’t want to post a repetitive sort of comment. I was instead responding to a very very narrow argument that I saw some people making (not a lot but enough to make me react) and that I hadn’t seen anybody else address. I do think I came off wrong; my post was meant to be more of a “some people DO have experiences in which guns are relevant to self-defense” to those who were saying they don’t (which again, is NOT most people in the thread). Because minority experiences *are* relevant, even when they’re not shared by the majority. It’s absolutely my fault for not being clearer with my point, for which I apologize.

  156. Rob G. at 8:38–You’re welcome, for what my comments were worth. Me, too (hope I never have to do any such thing, that is.) The comments below aren’t specifically aimed at you, or any of your other comments; just something that occurred to me after I’d responded to you.

    For everyone else: I’ve actually been sitting here worrying about possibly derailing the discussion because my instinctive reaction to the idea of someone handing me a gun to protect my classroom/students with was to hyperventilate. I thought, “well, that isn’t ever really going to happen [I’ve worked in way too many schools to think it’s likely], so why am I digressing?” Then I realized that whenever horrible incidents like this one happen, whenever someone begins to talk about “what to do about the guns,” someone in the group brings up the possibility of protecting the innocent by arming more of their guardians . . . and I think that that is at best a distraction.

    Arming people who have not entered a profession that includes bearing arms is not the solution. If guns are the problem–and I personally believe that they are at least part of the problem–then we have to do something about guns. Now, I also believe that there are probably other things that we can/should do, as well–better treatment for the mentally ill springs to mind as worth discussing; turning schools into armed fortresses is one that doesn’t strike me as worthwhile, though I’m willing to discuss it–but in any case, “doing something about guns” has to stay on the table, too, in my opinion.

  157. @Stevie — Um, I wasn’t trying to be slippery when I responded. Actually, leaving in the word “easily” makes what I’m talking about more relevant, since needing a gun for self-defense is more relevant for smaller, weaker people who might need an “easier” way of doing violence against an attacker.

    Of course, the ease of hurting people with a gun as opposed to other weapons is also relevant to violence in society as a whole. That is OF COURSE true. But that wasn’t what I was trying to address, since lots of people are already talking about that very articulately. From the responses I’ve gotten I obviously failed miserably at being clear with what point I *was* making, though. :-/

    And yes, we do have very different backgrounds. That’s sort of my point. Gun violence means very different things depending on one’s individual experiences. Again, I was only responding to a very specific point I saw some people making (the “guns aren’t needed for self-defense these days” argument), not trying to address the gun control argument as a whole, and I clearly did it badly.

  158. Rob G

    It is absolute tosh to pretend that there is no significant distinction between being beaten, being knifed and being shot.

    You can shoot someone at a nice safe distance, whereas with your fists and your knife you are up close and personal, with the risk of losing the fight and suffering injury to yourself.

    Of course, guns are exceedingly convenient for cowards who want to kill without risking themselves, but ‘Convenient for Cowards’ is not the sort of slogan which sells many guns..

  159. @ Genufett, I did look over all of your posts, and while you don’t outright advocate blanket disarmament, you don’t offer any practical solutions that aren’t de facto disarmament.

  160. Also, @Rob G- who is going to pay for the school security guards and the physical plant enhancements you recommend? Are you going to agree to tax increases for this? Or should we fire some teachers and get even bigger class sizes to pay for it? Or do you think I should take up a collection amongst the parents? And if I have to do that, why cannot I not also reasonably ask you to make some compromises to support a safer society? You sure are asking me to accept a lot of things I don’t like. What are you willing to accept that you don’t like?

  161. @ Stevie, so a 70 year old pensioner should go hand to hand with some chav trying to knick his wallet in order to prove he is not a coward?

  162. Since the guns belonged to Lanza’s mother, I wonder what gun control regulation could have prevented this tragedy. Perhaps prohibiting people from owning guns if the guns can be accessed by mentally unstable family members? I really don’t know.

    In general, I’m anti-gun. But I understand that Americans as a whole support “responsible” gun ownership, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

  163. Rob G: At what at what point do I advocate de facto disarmament? At a quick review I see what I mentioned above: restrictions on high-powered weapons and large-capacity magazines, improved education methods, and improved (but not outlawed) CCW laws.

    Please demonstrate with direct quotes where I have offered any solutions that are de facto disarmament.

  164. @ Cloud, I guess the “who pays” argument will be answered by whether you’re a big-government type or not.
    IF you assume that disarmament, or at least “gun-free” zones will make everyone safer, there’s nothing I can say to convince you otherwise.

  165. Rob G: There’s a difference between government and “big government.” At the same time, you’re welcome to point out the free-market solutions that have worked in the real world.

  166. How about these two ideas for (relatively) cheap first steps to preventing school shootings:

    1) Have an armed security guard in every school building. Yeah, maybe not palatable on a lot of levels, but I think it would prevent some of these shootings. This would not be practical on college campuses unfortunately.

    2) Every person reading this blog, at least, should not hesitate to contact law enforcement if they hear violent threats. That’s the policy at my work, and while we’ve only had to do deal with this maybe 5 times out of tens of thousands of client interactions, it has given us peace of mind and (this is key) it helped connect some clients with supportive services.

    Fortunately, the people I’ve dealt with who threatened to go “Columbine” or blow up something were just impulsive, angry, and shooting off their mouth. In the end, they realized that what they said had consequences, and some of them actually became less angry afterwards. There are cases, however, that have been prevented because someone made the call law enforcement. I don’t understand why American culture tolerates violent threats so much.

  167. slhuang
    “… please consider that maybe gun defense just isn’t as reported on as gun violence is, particularly when the defense is the threat of the defender having a gun even if the defender didn’t actually have to discharge it.”

    Gun defense has to be the single most over reported thing in all of society next to the “Small business owners” who make over $1 million. My friends and family who carry guns tend to “defend themselves” once or more a year. Meanwhile those of us who don’t carry guns seem to get along just fine without being the victim of any sort of crime at all. Well… Identity theft.

    Now I think this is mainly a matter of definition and exaggeration. For me, a homeless person accosting me for money or alcohol isn’t a situation which I really need much defense against. Just Ignore them and walk on past. For my gun-toting friend beside me, this became an “Attempted Mugging”. It took so long to get to his gun that the “threat” had passed long before he brandished it. But to hear him describe it. A heoric gun defense saved our lives. Its the old proverb. If you have a Hammer… you start looking around for nails.

  168. Slhang

    Sorry, but you have just segued into the NRA propaganda about smaller, weaker people need guns to protect themselves against bigger and stronger people.

    And once you do that you have lost all credibility….

  169. @ Genufett, perhaps I did not read carefully enough.
    Please put some numbers and quantifiers behind “high-powered” and “high capacity”.
    I agree that education is an absolute must, though I’d like to see a program of instruction before I endorse a specific plan. CCW? In my state it’s not easy to get a CCW, the requirements are pretty rigourous for most people, but I don’t understand why CCW has anything to do with what occurred in Sandy Hook.

  170. @Cloud. I think that taxpayers should have a choice of how and where the money is spent on the schools they choose to have their children attend.

  171. NRA gun logic applied to aircraft. We should all be able to carry firearms on planes. Armed passengers is what will make aircraft much safer.

    Yeah. TOTALLY INSANE.

  172. @Rob G. I see. I should get to choose between instruction and safety? My schools have already had to lay off librarians and school nurses, so realistically, the only option for adding a security guard is to cut a teacher and accept larger class sizes. Unless, of course, we could raise taxes, but it sounds like you don’t like that idea.

    You also didn’t answer my other question: let’s say I accept this compromise on my principles and agree that to stay in America I have to send my children to heavily armed schools (and I guess I’d better ask my day care to add a security guard, too). What things that you care about are you willing to compromise on?

  173. @ Cloud Would I accept a higher student to teacher ratio in a safe school? Yes. Would I accept an increase in taxes? Yes, but only if I could ensure that every dollar in increase went to paying a security guard/increasing building security and not be sidetracked to a bureaucrat, a boondoggle, or a politician.

    Would I sacrifice my right to take personal measures to defend my family if the need arose? No.

  174. Rob G: I said this upthread:

    [T]here is really no reason that any weapon or magazine for personal should have the capability to hold dozens of rounds, or really more than, say, 4 to 6 for that matter. If you are not able to hit your target, especially relatively still animals, with that many rounds, then quite simply you do not know how to use a firearm properly.

    When I say “high-powered” I’m referring to either high-caliber (say, .45/10mm or higher, though this is just rough estimation) or weapons and ammunition designed for high velocity and maximum penetrations and/or shrapnel like the Bushmaster. As for education, I’m talking–at a minimum–many hours of both reading and experience, including “consequences” training (like the driver’s ed films of old), most or all of which should be renewed on a regular basis, preferably annually. For CCW, there should be–again, at a minimum–additional training and licensing, registration of the firearm(s) that will be carried (as there is in Israel), and anyone with CCW involved in a judicial violation as either an antagonist or defender must provide LEO with proof and a full recounting of events, with the understanding that if it does not match evidence at the scene, that they are responsible for providing evidence to corroborate their claims. Personnel that will required to enforce safety zones must undergo the same training that LEO/military undergoes, if for no other reason that the people they protect require as much if not more protection than those that a member of the uniformed services are responsible for. If taxpayer funds are prevented from being used for that training, it is required by law to be paid for by private organizations calling for the services, especially in the case of non-public institutions. Failure to comply will be enforced with financial and judicial punishments as necessary.

  175. @Stevie — Actually I don’t care for the NRA. But clearly we’re not being productive along this line of discussion, so I think I’ll bow out.

    @tag — Hmm, interesting. Your response made me think. I guess it’s possible that all the people who have told me stories of using guns to defend themselves were exaggerating, but I don’t think so, particularly because most of these stories were told to me in detailed versions that I’m not going to post on the internet. I suppose there’s no way to know, however.

    And yeah, I don’t have any problem believing you get along just fine without a gun. So do I (I don’t have my CCW and don’t carry, and I’ve never felt my life was specifically being threatened, even though I’m often in dangerous places). So, honestly, do most of the people I know. But I know a lot of other people who got along just fine without a gun until the day they didn’t. Which is what makes me sympathetic to people who want to carry (and yes, makes me wish I could carry in specific situations, just in case). It’s totally possible, of course, that this is either an invalid feeling (or is rendered invalid by the comparative benefits of stricter gun control)…..but like I said in my other responses, I got miffed by what I saw as people discounting the experiences of people with other types of lives, and that was what I was trying to weigh in on.

  176. Cloud and Rob G: So we are going to have the conversation about turning schools into fortresses. Well, okay. It’s at least worth talking about, though personally, I honestly don’t think it’s much more than a distraction either. Not because it would cost too much or we can’t afford it. True, funding would be difficult–it’s difficult enough to fund schools already–but whether or not we can afford to do it doesn’t really impact whether or not we should all that much.

    I believe that increasing security at schools to any serious degree is not a particularly useful proposal because I genuinely don’t think it would work. Not “wouldn’t work very well,” but “wouldn’t really work at all, really,” and certainly “wouldn’t work long term”–because of what schools actually are and how they are supposed to operate. Schools are by definition places that people go into and out of repeatedly, over the course of the day. Not just students, teachers, and staff, but delivery people, occasional custodial workers, parents, all sorts of people. Some schools are single buildings; some are multiple buildings with open campuses. Could the campuses be fenced in like prisons? Probably. Could every entrance to the building be equally guarded in such a way that fire safety is not compromised? Maybe, though I doubt it; we’d likely have to rebuild every school in the country along the same design, all at once–and (expense aside) I don’t think we’ve got the physical resources to do that. None of that will change the fact that schools are places that people are supposed to go into and come out of on a regular basis. Try to treat access to schools like Homeland Security treats airports, and the school day will become 12 hours long, or longer. And that’s just a minor problem, because people intent on doing evil will still slip through, still get through, in exactly the way that things slip through airport security. Only more so, in my opinion.

    I’m sorry. I’ve been part of one too many locked-down drills to believe that increasing security in schools is going to do much good. I’ve known one too many schools with major security to think that this is a truly useful option.

    Can we maybe get back to discussing registering guns and keeping track of them like we do cars, only better? Because I really think that that might help, and I’d like to hear what people who know more about the proposal than I do believe.

  177. Aw crap. I’m with Jacob. Let’s at least wait until after the funerals befor we use this tragedy for politics. No I don’t own or want to own any guns. No I don’t have a problem with gun control.

  178. slhuang}} Re: Responding to other people — I was paraphrasing with “nobody needs a gun ever.” (Should have quoted.) I started rereading the thread to find what I’d been responding to.

    rochrist at 1:16 pm said, “I don’t really see any use for handguns. The given one seems to be self-defense, but . . .” and then went on to argue against self-defense as being relevant.

    Fred at 1:50 pm said, “Reading the US news I have never, ever seen ‘fortunately, someone was armed with a gun and therefore the crime didn’t happen’. I have seen so, so many ‘however, someone had a gun and now someone else is dead’ . . .” and went on to say a lot more in a similar vein. {{

    Right. So nobody actually said that nobody needs a gun ever. Or anything like it. rochrist came the closest, but he only talked about handguns, not shotguns or rifles, and he didn’t say that they should be banned, just that he didn’t see a need for them. I don’t see a need for basketball; that doesn’t mean I think it should be banned. You go on to claim that because of this, what you said wasn’t a strawman, but since absolutely nobody in the thread said anything like “nobody needs a gun ever”, I’m afraid I don’t agree. When you claim you’re responding to “all of the people” in the thread that thought all guns should be banned, and nobody actually said such a thing, that’s a strawman. Or really bad misreading. Take your pick.

  179. Just for clarification regarding “many hours” in my above post: In my home state of Virginia (former home of the Confederacy and hardly a bastion of “big government”), you are required to have no less than 45 hours of supervised driver education before attempting licensure for vehicular operation. Given that a car is a tool not explicitly designed for destruction of life or property and that firearms are designed for that purpose, I would estimate that no less than 3 to 5 times that amount of recorded, supervised time with a weapon, including the “consequences” information I mention, should constitute the minimum in most locations. Those with criminal records or similar circumstances would require a maximum level of training and testing. If the supervised time was found to be entered fraudulently, both the supervisor and the potential licensee would have their licenses revoked, and financial and/or judicial punishments as necessary. To regain licensure, additional training and licensing will be required.

  180. megpie71 – Australian, female, fat, born in 1971. Been hanging around the internet (first Usenet, now blogs) since about 1997. Far too cynical for my own good.
    megpie71

    Just a comment here from a country which DOES have tough gun control. Okay, the circumstances prior to Martin Bryant deciding that he was going to make his name shine by killing a lot of people here in Australia weren’t the same as those in the USA for a lot of reasons. We never had the kind of gun culture the USA has. Part of this came from our origins – a penal colony isn’t going to allow all and sundry to have access to firearms, for some very obvious reasons. Also the UK had learned from the lessons of their American colonies, and when we decided we wanted to be a separate country, they let us go willingly, so we never had to wage war to obtain our independence. Further, we don’t have the kind of ecosystem which can support widespread hunting except under certain rather restricted circumstances. So the majority of Australians didn’t have guns, didn’t need guns, and didn’t particularly want to own guns prior to the Port Arthur Massacre and the new laws which came in as a result.

    That said, we haven’t had a repetition of this sort of atrocity since. Yes, criminals can get hold of guns – but the kind of person who decides their only path to any sort of “success” involves getting their name linked to a large list of victims generally isn’t in connection with the kinds of career criminals who use guns here. We probably still have people of this personality type – they aren’t likely to vanish. But they don’t have the “easy out” of mass murder by gunshot as a way of venting their feelings and getting their names in lights (so to speak).

    A small point to be made, however: being mentally ill is NOT a good predictor for violence. People who are mentally ill, even in the USA, are more likely to be the ones assaulted than the ones committing the assault. I’ve been mentally ill for most of my life, and in all that time, the only person I’ve physically hurt is myself. As someone who is mentally ill, I’m more likely to be hurt by someone else (“for my own good”, most likely) than I am to hurt someone else.

    I’m crazy. I’m insane. I’m mentally ill. But I’m not the kind of over-privileged, over-entitled nincompoop of a white man (and yes, these sorts of crimes are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male in nature, both within the USA and otherwhere) who feels that because I’m not a “success”, by whatever means I define it, by some arbitrary age (there’s a group of mass murderers who “peak” in their early twenties, another group who “peak” in their mid to late forties) then I’m permitted to – entitled to – seek out my “success” by killing other people and having my name linked to theirs as their killer.

    So I find it rather offensive and hurtful the number of comments in this thread which are basically talking about the mentally ill as a homogeneous group, as though we’re all equally likely to be the ones who are perpetrating these atrocities. Let us be honest – it is not the emotionally disordered (the depressed, the bipolar) or the perceptually disordered (the schizophrenic, the neuro-atypical) who are largely committing these crimes. Instead, it is the personality disordered ones – the ones who can easily pass for “normal” because they’re not generally labouring under the burden of a brain that hates them.

  181. @ Genufett, thank you for the summary. I think that while it seems reasonable and accountable on paper, it also places a heavy burden in both time and money on potential gun owner, and that will have an impact on a number of responsible gun owners who cannot afford to meet those costs. In the end, they will either have to disarm voluntarily, or becomes criminals themselves, and it will not protect them from the true predatory criminals among them, and among us as a whole.

    Your suggestions for CCW have some merit as well, but place similar burdens above. None of my responses are in any way meant to downplay the tremendous and ultimate responsibility a gun owner bears.

    For the group, a question I haven’t seen answered is “Does an individual have a right to self-defense?” IF so, at what cost, if not, at what consequence?

    This has been a much more pleasant conversation than what I’ve seen on Whatever. It’s been a long day, a hope you all have a safer tomorrow.

  182. @Mary Frances, for what its worth, I think increasing school security is a lousy solution, but I was interested to see what the proposed solution would be, since @Rob G and other gun proponents dislike the solutions I think are reasonable and good.

  183. Rob G: Every freedom comes with a price, whether financial, chronological, or political. I feel that the types of weapons and regulations around CCW and similar laws I identified are adequate, although I’m aware there are those that disagree. I am under the impression from both personal experience and from what I’ve seen in documentation that that is sufficient in most cases, but as I mentioned above, data trumps anecdotes. FWIW, I believe individuals have a right to self-defense, but that comes with the same prices as many other societal issues do. I agree that this has been among the more pleasant conversations I’ve had on the subject, though, and I hope that continues.

  184. megpie71 – Australian, female, fat, born in 1971. Been hanging around the internet (first Usenet, now blogs) since about 1997. Far too cynical for my own good.
    megpie71

    One other thing: my feeling is that one cultural alteration which may work to reduce the incidence of such shootings (even in the absence of comprehensive work to reduce the number of guns readily available to malcontents within the US population) is to alter the way such things are covered by the press. Don’t mention the name of the shooter – the shooter is, after all, attempting to get his name linked to those of his victims. So deny the shooter his prestige. Leave the shooter anonymous – “the gunman”, “the shooter”. Never mention their name, not in the press coverage of the atrocity, not in the press coverage of any later trial, not anywhere. Certainly, mention the names of the victims, but the perpetrator does not deserve the celebrity. If nothing else, it will reduce the “reward” potential of such acts. The name of the shooter does not deserve to be forever linked to those of his victims – instead, he deserves his non-entity.

    In addition, and again for the media coverage – don’t mention superlatives. An atrocity is an atrocity. Mention the number of casualties, but don’t use words that describe them in terms of other such events. Don’t use terms like “worst” or “biggest”, or even “more” or “less” in describing the way things turned out. Stick to the numbers and the facts – so many dead, this many injured, the gunman has been arrested/killed himself at the scene. Don’t compare them, don’t link it to other events. Again, the aim is to reduce the social “reward” for committing such an act.

  185. @Cally — I wasn’t responding to people advocating outright banning guns (not many people in the thread (if any?) have), but to the people saying there wasn’t any NEED for people to have or use guns (the implication usually, but not always, being that we shouldn’t have guns). My way of stating it was meant to be a summary of the general feeling I got from a number of repeated posts. You clearly feel this was a mis-characterization of those arguments in the thread. I still don’t see it that way, but I apologize to anyone who thinks I misappropriated their sentiments, and if I could edit my post I would. Clearly there are better ways I could have introduced my point; next time I’ll quote directly (I was trying to do a summary paraphrase of what I felt the argument was, and I also didn’t want to attack anyone directly, since I felt like I’d seen the same sentiment quite a few times). The lack of clarity was my fault and I apologize, again.

    It’s possible nobody was trying to express the sentiment I thought I was responding to. If so, then my post is out of left field for this thread, but I think the point (about people having other experiences) is still relevant, though I obviously would have worded it much differently (or not brought it up at all) if I’d read the thread the way you did.

    Can I just say that I’m at fault for not wording it better and can we leave it at that? I was trying to make a point about people having other experiences. I made it badly. I apologize. If you’d like to discuss the comparative experiences of different people having the necessity (or not) for guns, I’m happy to do that.

    (Also, by “all the people” I meant “all the people who are saying things like this,” not “all the people in the thread,” since that phrase seems to bother you. Again, I could have worded it better.)

  186. slhuang: Thank you. I’m afraid I tend to default to “pedantic”, and statements that strike me as strawmen really bother me. I appreciate the clarification.

  187. @Cally: Thank *you*. Upon rereading my post and your thoughts I really agree with you about the way I said it. Next time I’ll take more care.

  188. @Rob G – does keeping your right to bear arms as unfettered as possible trump the right of others not to be shot by the bearers of those arms? The fact that people small and otherwise are dying as a result of gun violence in much greater numbers in the US than in other comparable countries seems often to be lost in these discussions. Gun ownership is not prohibited in other countries, but is much more tightly overseen. In NZ gun owners have to meet with the police, have referees vouch for them, and have to store guns under lock and key. And the ammunition/clip has to be kept separate from the rest of the gun. I think handguns have to be stored at licensed gun clubs rather than in private houses. Rates of gun violence are very low here.

  189. I did my sobbing-to-sleep thing last night. eNuff bowt dat.

    I’ve never seen an intelligent discussion about weapons.
    I will say that the little bit I’ve read here and elsewhere says that weapons
    kill.
    Yup, indeed so.
    That’s the plan.
    Swut weapons are for.
    I’ve also seen articles that say that the USA has the highest such murder rate.
    Nope.
    Those who so say are IMO idiotic fools.
    I don’t know which country has the highest such murder rate, but IMO it is a
    country that has horrible a civilian death rate from IEDs and etc created by
    people who say that they are whatever they say about themselves, and who
    probably want to shave Salma Hayek head because she can read.

    I’m not sure. Would it have been useful for the janitor to have a gun?

  190. “Just want to point out that Justin your either a liar or just pulling numbers out of your ass. Deaths from swimming pools are less than one twentieth that of guns. About 33,000 deaths this year from guns. About 3000 deaths from drowning(swimming pool or otherwise).”

    Indeed, but there are not fifteen million swimming pools. Generally, there are seven to ten million. Any one of them is more likely, individually, to be involved in someone’s death or injury than any one gun. They are much more likely to be involved in the death of a child than a gun.

    Likewise, every car is more likely to be involved in a death than every gun.

    Indeed, given the number of guns around, it’s astonishing how infrequently we use them to successfully kill each other. Assume that 33,000 all involve seperate guns. That’s. 0.00011 percent of the 300 million believed to exist.

  191. yeah, these tragedy’s never happen in countries that do not allow guns. There are already laws to controls guns, gun ownership, etc. To think or suggest that removing the ability for anyone in the country to obtain guns is retarded, unenforceable, against the constitution (whatever that is worth these days) and would not prevent these things from happening….

    I for one wanted to take away people’s kitchen knifes when OJ killed his wife, take fertilizer off the market after OK bombing, etc…

  192. For a change of pace, my wife and I went to see The Hobbit this afternoon. Though some critics have sniffed “ponderous” — we found it very enjoyable. I’m not changing topics. The point is, though there is much mayhem with deadly weapons, a great deal of violence is in the Three Stooges/Wile E. Coyote variety. Well acted, great costumes/set design/set decoration, especially vast interior volumes, Howard Shore music, good foreshadowing, great to see old friends of several species, and more character development than the same snarky critics admit. I for one welcome back our Peter Jackson overlord. But I do wonder — though escapist for me and my wife, is this appropriate right now for kids with questions about Newtown?

  193. Cloud @ 9:51–Mary Frances, for what its worth, I think increasing school security is a lousy solution . . .

    That doesn’t surprise me, Cloud, but enough people over the years have told me that “increasing security in schools” is THE answer to school shootings and gun violence in schools–if only we were willing to pay the price–that I tend to want to point out that the price isn’t the only thing that’s relevant. I genuinely don’t believe that increased security would work, and so I have a rather knee-jerk reaction to that argument. Sorry.

  194. megpie71 @ 9:47–If we can’t all agree that not all those who suffer from mental illness are violent in any fashion (let alone in this particular fashion), then I suspect we’ll never agree on anything, ever, and we’re all just wasting our time.Which . . . I really hope we aren’t. After all, not all people are violent, ill or healthy, and that too is worth remembering.

    That said, thank you for specifying that using the term “mentally ill” to describe people such as the school shooters without acknowledging that this is a (blessedly) rare and atypical form of mental illness is a bad idea. It’s too easy to demonize those who suffer from mental illness as it is–and I don’t think it’s particular helpful to look at a man who shoots up a school and say, “eh, he’s crazy!” either. How is he “crazy”? How can we learn to recognize and protect the community from his particular disorders? Without harming other innocents? Those are some of the questions we need to ask, I think, but tossing around blanket terms won’t help the discussion.

  195. The thing about arming teachers probably comes from stories about Israel arming teachers. As I remember it, there was a rash of terrorists raiding schools and killing teachers and children. The government asked military veterans to serve as armed teacher’s aides and they did so. A couple of weeks later another group of terrorists showed up, started shooting, and were shot by the aides. One or two of the terrorist targets died, I don’t remember if any of the terrorists died. There have been no reported further terrorist attacks on school classrooms by persons who could be shot by teachers or teacher’s aides. Or so the story goes. There are occasional photos of what appear to be school children accompanied by armed persons; teachers, aides, vets or military people who happen to be standing nearby, who knows.

    The NRA does lots of things besides lobby Congress. http://programs.nra.org/ The school age program is called “Eddie Eagle”, and it’s not about shooting. It’s a ten word mantra, for when kid finds a gun:

    STOP

    Don’t Touch.

    Leave the area.

    Tell a responsible adult.

    There’s not a lot of reasonable criticism that can be made of that, but since it’s the “evil” NRA ….

  196. @Greg: I’m not a fan of the NRA, but the airplane analogy you mentioned above isn’t sound. Airplanes are special environments where everyone can be disarmed. The NRA’s position on gun control assumes that (a) there are lots of armed people everywhere, (b) some of them are ill-intentioned, and (c) you might need a gun to fight back against those people. None of those premises is false, though the likelihood of (c) is grossly overstated.

    One thing I wish I could change about America is that there are so many cheap, small guns here. There is no realistic way to get rid of them at this point. They are here to stay. Mea wrote, above, that it is “Hard to retrofit existing systems – just like we can’t change that America is chock full of guns now.” That’s really the heart of the gun control problem.

    I work in a field where I see, on a daily basis, the profound, senseless violence that is enabled by the proliferation of handguns in our country. It’s not violence inflicted by assault rifles that is our country’s big problem. It’s also not the spectacularly horrific brutality of sociopaths who decide to slaughter children or mall-goers or Sihks. The real problem — the big problem, going on around us every day — is the countless fights in parking lots that turn into murders, the robberies that turn into murders, the small confrontations that escalate so easily when a gun is involved. I think it’s most useful to focus on those mundane, barely-reported events when we think about what our nation’s attitude about handguns should be.

  197. @Mary Frances, I suspect people who think school security will be the answer haven’t really thought it through. There was a school shooting north of San Diego a year or two back. No fatalities- the shooter “only” had a magnum.357. The school had a fence and security measures. If I remember properly, the shooter jumped the fence. My daughter’s school has a fence, too. It could be scaled, too. Are we going to put barbed wire on top?

    @Rob G, thank you for the honest and civil conversation. I truly appreciate it. This probably doesn’t surprise you, but I think the deal you offered was no deal at all. You want me to compromise my beliefs and accept limitations on what I think should be done to protect my family, but are unwilling to offer up even one restriction on gun rights- saying you won’t compromise protecting your family. As far as I can tell, the compromise you are willing to make is that you are willing to help pay for a solution I do not think will work and do not think is right. While I am very grateful for your discussion here, if you are representative of the views of gun proponents, I despair for our chances of finding a reasonable compromise at the national level. I’m back to wanting to weep. However, I think that in my home state (California) there may be more people who think like me than think like you. Perhaps the place for me to start working for gun law reform is at the state level.

  198. Wow, htom. 10 whole words? One of them even has 4 syllables. And a trite but alliterate title, to boot? Man, that must have taken a massive redirection of resources to come up with! I mean, honestly, how did they ever find the time to engage in their usual 2nd Amendment fetishism and “Libruls r gonna take yer guuuuuuuuuuuns!!!!1!!” scare mongering that morning?

    Since you’ve been pretty defensive about criticism to your posts of late, let me just say that I, like everyone else here, is well aware that the NRA does more than lobbying. However, the NRA’s lobbying efforts make up a rather substantial part of their public image. And that lobbying wing of the NRA has shown no qualms in recent years towards employing piss poor logic and blatant scare mongering.

  199. “or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings…”

    Now, if only, *if only* we could get the criminals to follow those laws!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to keep guns out of schools. I really would. That, in my opinion, would be the best way to keep kids from being shot at schools. But here’s the thing. Barring some magical forcefield, you can’t actually keep guns out of schools in the face of someone willing to violate the laws already in place barring people from taking them in.

    I’m not saying arm the 5-year-old kids. A teacher or two couldn’t hurt. Some parents maybe. Just lift the ban stopping concerned, law-abiding, well-trained citizens from packing, and maybe the nutjobs won’t see it as a free-fire zone anymore.

  200. Every School in Israel has at least one armed guard. During heightened security situations, such as during the intifadas, volunteers are added. On Field Trips the students are accompanied by armed adults.
    The Ma’alot massacre in 1974 was the impetus for this level of protection. The last school attack in Israel that occurred happened in 2008. There may have been more since but I am not sure. In 2008 , one terrorist went to the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva after hours and opened fire on a gathering there. He killed eight and wounded eleven before two former students who were visiting that night killed him with their own personal weapons.

    It’s believed that the recent shooting at Clackamas in Oregon a few days was ended sooner by a man with a CCW permit. He hid behind a pillar, pulled his weapon, moved to fire but didn’t because there were people behind the shooter and he was afraid of missing. The shooter didn’t shoot back at him because he was trying to clear his weapon (it had misfired, thankfully); the man with the CCW permit hid behind the pillar again, and the next shot the shooter fired was the one that he killed himself with.

  201. htom, that reminds me of the tobacco companies’ brochure on how to talk to your kids about smoking. It recommended that you tell them it’s something only adults should do.

  202. Doc RocketScience – I believe you’re are engaging in a little goal post moving. Here is what rickg17 said to which I was responding: “let me remind you of the number of shooting incidents that have been stopped by an armed civilian… zero. None. Nada”

    The links I posted were found with one Google search. I did not claim that armed civilians would prevent anyone from being shot. Just showing that armed civilians have indeed stopped spree killers, contrary to what rickg17 claimed.

    This is not surprising to those who have studied spree killers. They often continue attacks against the unarmed until the first sign of armed resistance and then suicide.

    Since this is true, it would seem logical to increase the chances a spree killer meets armed resistance. This could, in many instances, result in lives saved who would otherwise die. CCW is one way of increasing those chances.

    Since Florida started in 1987 there are now 8+ Million active CCW license holders in the US. Over 40 states have “shall issue” CCW laws. During this time period crime has fallen to levels not seen in 50 years. Hysterical claims of “blood in the streets at the hands of CCW holders” have been debunked. CCW criminality rates aren’t much different than that of the police.

    Since there is no way short of a police state to eliminate the 300+ Million guns in the US, increasing the chances of the “good guys” being in the right place/right time to stop these spree attacks looks to me like a viable alternative.

  203. Theodore Minick (@ 12:41): Actually, I am of the opinion that arming a teaching or two could hurt. See what I have to say above, about teachers not generally being a good population to offer guns to, even with training. In any case, it just seems counter-intuitive to me to argue that adding more guns (even in friendly hands) to a school zone is a helpful proposition.

    Todd (@ 12:43): I’d be interested to hear more about the Israeli experience. On the whole, though, it sounds as though the presence of armed individuals in the crowd didn’t prevent the incident form happening. That does ring true, for me, and probably explains at least part of my response to “let’s arm teachers” scenario. Then–well, there are schools near where I live (Illinois; outside Chicago) that have had constant armed guards for the past few decades, and it doesn’t seem to be that solid a preventative against violence in general–and the armed guards are usually trained law enforcement personnel, not teachers. In Israel, at least, there is the chance that a much larger percentage of the teaching population has had military training. That’s got to help? Some, maybe? Might be worth considering just what kind of background the Israeli school security guards have, and how the volunteers are organized.

    As for the Oregon incident–you mean the shooter saw the man with the permit pull his gun and then duck back behind the pillar, and that led the shooter to kill himself next? Seems a bit of stretch, but it’s possible. My initial response to that story, though, was: “Thank goodness the man behind the pillar had sense enough not to fire into the crowd himself!” Because there are people who would have done just that; I’m afraid that if I were a teacher with a gun, that is exactly what I would do, in that situation–which is one of the reasons I don’t even want to think about the possibility of “armed guard” being added to my job description . . .

    I just can’t accept that arming teachers is the answer–or even an answer, to tell you the truth. The idea horrifies me, as a teacher of considerable experience. Nor can I see how an armed security guard, or even several armed security guards, is going to be all that helpful a preventative, really, but that’s more part of the “I don’t think turning schools into fortresses will work” conversation, and I’m willing to discuss the options (concerning the value of security guards, I mean; not about the schools-as-fortresses premise, I’m afraid). The guards can’t be everywhere at once, after all, and schools are–as I’ve also said above–designed for people to go into and come out of on a regular basis.

  204. @ Mary,

    My reading of the 2008 incident was that the two men were on a different part of the campus and made their way to where the shooting was.

    In Oregon, the shooters gun misfired, and he was attempting to clear it when the man with the CCW and weapon stepped out and did not fire. When the shooter cleared his weapon, he pointed it at the man with the CCW permit, who ducked back behind cover. The shooter with the rifle then killed himself. With regards to shooting into a crowd, remember at the Empire State building shooting, it was the NYPD officer responding to the scene who were responsible for 9 of the 10 wounded…I’m not going to fault them for that, in those situations you make the best decision you can in the time available.

    You say you live outside of Chicago, which has had some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Do you think they’ve helped keep crime in the city low?

  205. Mary, I understand where you’re coming from. But the options are:

    1. Ban *all* guns, everywhere, and somehow also prevent people from making guns;
    2. Turn our schools (and anywhere else we decide to disarm the law-abiding) into fortresses/prisons, with only one or two ways in or out, heavily guarded and fully enclosed;
    3. Accept that random spraying of bullets into unarmed civilians is just something that happens once in a while; or
    4. Allow people to keep their weapons when they enter public spaces like this.

    Since 1 is impossible, and 2 and 3 abhorrent, I’m left with only 4 as the only viable choice to advocate. Laws (or signs next to doors) don’t keep bad people from doing bad things. The only rational thing is to allow good people to defend themselves when the bad stuff starts going down.

  206. htom: Israel is a country that is surrounded by millions of people that want to kill them and have the capability to do so at any time. Are you really telling us that America has become that, and that the solution is more guns for the populace and less restrictions? Because, despite their situation Israel has come to the opposite conclusions. This isn’t a question of naivete or blocking out reality, this is organizations telling us that they would rather our teachers run around armed and trained to kill (without ever mentioning funding of that) than even consider a modicum of rethinking about how we approach gun culture. And re: the NRA, how much money have they spent on coming up with a ten-word mantra that basically says “go find adults” (what an incredible brain trust that must have taken!) compared to how much they’ve spent lobbying against trigger locks, or gun safes, or high caliber/high powered semi-automatic weapons, or gun show sales tracking, or large magazines? How much time during Obama’s administration, a period which saw 5 of the 12 deadliest shootings in American history, have they spent making education and proven gun safety methodology the focus compared to telling gun owners and Congress and the media that he’s coming for their guns? How many times have their statements to the media expressed any recognition of gun safety procedures compared to hints of conspiracies and false-flag operations?

    Todd: As I’ve said before, if there’s any hard data rather than self-reporting to NRA newsletters of the efficacy of armed private citizens in preventing crimes, you guys are welcome to provide it.

    Kevin Canady: Same as goes for Todd. There have been 61 mass shootings in the United States in the last several decades, you provided 2 instances (3%) where an armed citizen intervened. If we add in the third instance, we’d have to greatly expand the total population of shootings since it didn’t fall under the official definition of “mass shooting,” and at least one of the incidents you mentioned involved a semi-automatic weapon. Meanwhile, we already have statistics that among other things show that states with overall stricter gun laws have resulted in less gun deaths over the last 25 years and that gun ownership has declined in the same period. What we don’t have are statistics that prove that any significant reduction came from relatively unfettered CCW or a proliferation of powerful weapons or larger magazines.

    Theodore Minick: That seems like a pretty strong and arbitrary limit to our options. Myself and others have listed plenty of other options, and that’s just for starters. You can’t honestly believe that it’s more important that we let the public–including and maybe especially children–adopt a siege mentality and not change anything except for loosening restrictions who can can carry weapons in public places rather than start with some restrictions (some of which have been statistically proven to be at least somewhat effective) and see how well they do.

  207. Bear in mind, when discussing US criminality, that US crime rates are generally
    equal to or below those in the developed world. The statistics that are off the
    charts are murder, generally due to gun policy, and prison sentences, due to
    drug policy.

    Apparently that’s the way Americans want it, so it’s not going to change.
    Unfortunately other countries, such as Mexico, get the backwash.

    Will

  208. I think the discussion unhelpfully hovers around guns and mental health, both of which contributed to this catastrophe but I now wonder if they are truly at the heart of it. I think there is something more going on at a cultural level in this Country that is becoming more apparent every day. It isn’t just violence or deaths like we had on Friday. I think there is just a basic level of humanity that is lacking in our nation. I saw it put recently that we as fellow citizens are having a harder time recognizing the humanity in each other. When one sees another person as something less-than-human, it becomes easier to remove them from our minds or sightlines or worse our streets and schools.

    The less dangerous version of this is we marginalize people we don’t agree with. We ignore them or what they have to say. This moves on down the dangerous line as we start to talk about people we see as less than human in terms that actively strip their humanity. The way some people who hate those who are gay or liberal or fundamentalist Christians or Muslim or whatever. We start to talk about them in terms that reduce their humanity. When these creatures fail to live up to what one considers to be human is it any surprise that they can more easily go from marginalized to killed without much thought between?

    We are so fearful about the strangers around us and see them as alien to the point where some of us feel we need to arm our selves wherever we go ready for the moment when some two-armed creature will turn on us. We cultivate this at our political level without a doubt (we cherish describing humanity in percentages any more…how helpful is that in recognizing humanity?). We cultivate it online. We cultivate this belief in our churches and around the water cooler. No amount of guns or mental health medication will help if we simply see those we don’t agree with, don’t look like, don’t sound like or don’t pray like as “other” or alien.

    Two points: First, How can a person be alone when surrounded by other people? Secondly, a quick story. A young woman with mild mental retardation was abducted from a busy mall 20 years ago near where I live. She knew the person abducting her was bad and dangerous but she never once asked for help from those around her. Why? They were all strangers, too, and she was taught to fear people she didn’t know. Because she didn’t cry out or struggle no one was the wiser. Is that how we all see those around us?

  209. several — “Eddie Eagle” was supposedly designed to teach to six-year-olds in fifteen minutes. I’m sure you can do better. I’ve tried, and haven’t found something better. Rather than sneering, invent something better, please. Some of you seem to have already forgotten the first six words. There should be some joke here about first graders but the topic is more important than that.

    Mary Frances — The idea of “armed teachers” is not to prevent violent attacks. It is to provide someone to respond to an attack within seconds, rather minutes, with violence if necessary. Do you object to fire extinguishers? Object to having one in your classroom? Fire extinguishers do not prevent fires, they are used to extinguish them; think of an armed aide as a violence extinguisher. (The children marching out, hand on shoulder, makes me shudder. I understand the idea of retaining control by reducing chaotic running, but have the PTB noticed that they are lined up as targets for someone with a shotgun? Especially a second shooter, whether outside the school or inside shooting outside?)

    Genuflect — Of all of the things to advocate, trigger locks. A perverse device that seems designed to cause more accidental shootings. You do know that people have been shot installing them (because they mistakenly thought the firearm was unloaded) and they have been shot removing them (because they mistakenly thought the firearm was unloaded)? And that some firearms can be loaded while a trigger lock is installed? You should really recommend cable or chamber locks if you’re actually interested in safer storage without locked boxes. You lobby for the things you want, we’ll lobby for the things we want. I think your side has focused on the wrong targets, the firearms that are not killing very many people. I assume this was an attempt at a “sausage slice” campaign, that few would object to the loss of these not especially common firearms (at least when your sides campaign against them started) but in something like the Streisand Effect, you’ve publicized them and caused their sales to soar.

    In any case, the problem is the criminal shooters, self-selected goblins who are choosing not to obey the laws the non-criminal shooters are obeying. Maybe you should concentrate on crafting a law saying that criminals should obey the other laws.

  210. CW Rose:

    Bear in mind, when discussing US criminality, that US crime rates are generally
    equal to or below those in the developed world.

    [citation needed]

  211. While those directly associated are still grieving you push a personal agenda while claiming you’ll mallet anybody not being nice. That’s amazingly hypocritical John.

    You’ve lost a reader with this one. May you someday live in the world you wish for, where humans are no longer allowed the tools to defend themselves.

  212. Genufett – You are goal post moving. My comments were in response to rickg17 who stated emphatically that there were zero instances of civilians stopping mass shootings. This is, of course, absolutely untrue. So you’re moving the goal post to state that only a small percent are stopped by civilians. Your math is unpersuasive as you assumed the instances given are the only ones in existence. This is also untrue. I just posted a few I was familiar with. There are others that can be found with some Google Fu.

    Your dismissal of one instance because it involved a semi-auto weapon seems like a non sequitur. I fail to see the relevance of weapon type used by spree killers or armed civilian as to the point being made.

    I would also like to point out that intervention by armed civilians can prevent an attack from ever becoming a “mass shooting”. If a spree killer is stopped after one innocent death then by definition no mass shooting has occurred. But in this hypothetical it would have become one if not for the presence of an armed civilian. Has this actually occurred in the past? I don’t know, but it’s definitely possible that it has.

    So to reiterate, spree killers rarely continue an attack after meeting armed resistance. Armed civilians have stopped spree killers in the past. 8+ Million citizens with CCW licenses have not increased crime and may share some responsibility for decreasing it in the last 20+ years. Spree killers almost exclusively target “gun free” zones, schools, businesses that allow no CCW, etc. decreasing their risk of meeting armed resistance. Therefore we should increase their chances of meeting armed resistance by allowing the trustworthy CCW holders, teachers, principals, custodians, etc. to carry their weapons in more places so as to decrease the chances a spree attack turns in to a mass shooting.

  213. Some numbers from the barest google:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    The US fairs better than some former USSR European countries in the latter, but is 2-6x worse that most of its European economically-comparable friends. And 14x Japan.

    On a per-state basis, looks like the South has the most homicides. North and South Dakota have the least. (what are you going to kill? wasteland?)

  214. aczarnowski:

    Your first error is in assuming that you know what my personal agenda is with regard to this topic.

    Your second error is assuming that my asking people to be polite on my personal site whilst discussing a contentious topic is in some manner hypocritical.

    Your third error is in thinking I give a good goddamn whether I’ve lost you as a reader or not.

  215. If teachers are to be given guns, will they also be given combat training, and combat pay? I think if I’m ever expected to do something like that I get a $100,000 combat ready bonus. Same for every carrying teacher?

    Also: guns (or people carrying them) != fire extinguishers. Seriously, wtf? It’s very hard to kill someone with a fire extinguisher, intentionally or accidentally. Harder still from 50 feet. Although the image of trying to hunt deer with one is spectacular.

    Let’s compare them to video games or plushie toys next, because they both can be used for pleasure.

  216. htom: Namecalling, ever the refuge of the immature. Anyway…

    The idea of “armed teachers” is not to prevent violent attacks. It is to provide someone to respond to an attack within seconds, rather minutes, with violence if necessary. Do you object to fire extinguishers?

    Again, are you willing to pay for their military/LEO-level training to ensure that the utmost care is taken? And if so, are you willing to pay the increased health care costs attendant?

    Of all of the things to advocate, trigger locks. A perverse device that seems designed to cause more accidental shootings. You do know that people have been shot installing them (because they mistakenly thought the firearm was unloaded) and they have been shot removing them (because they mistakenly thought the firearm was unloaded)? And that some firearms can be loaded while a trigger lock is installed?

    Trigger locks were one suggestion, and I’ve been asking for others. And as I pointed out above, we have evidence showing they helped reduce gun injuries and deaths. Where’s your evidence to the contrary?

    You should really recommend cable or chamber locks if you’re actually interested in safer storage without locked boxes. You lobby for the things you want, we’ll lobby for the things we want.

    That is of course what I’ve been saying this entire time.

    I think your side has focused on the wrong targets, the firearms that are not killing very many people. I assume this was an attempt at a “sausage slice” campaign, that few would object to the loss of these not especially common firearms (at least when your sides campaign against them started) but in something like the Streisand Effect, you’ve publicized them and caused their sales to soar.

    Aaaand here come the conspiracy theories and accusations of false flag efforts from liberals. FWIW, I think the much larger problems from a technical standpoint are large capacity pistol and rifle magazines and unnecessarily high-firepower rifles. If you’re too incompetent to hit a target without a 10-, 30-, or 100-round magazine, perhaps there’s a problem with you using a firearm in the first place. I also believe that we should be requiring anyone using a tool designed to hurt or kill or destroy property (and no capacity to create it) to have well above the level of training we currently do for tools that don’t. I think that if we’re going to ask that firearms become a larger part of the public sphere, then those who use them must be required to accept a higher level of scrutiny and regular review than those who don’t, and should be prepared to shoulder the financial and judicial costs of refusing or breaking the trust that would be placed on them. I think that . And then perhaps we can address the issue of why we can buy firearms at twice as many locations as we can get mental health treatment.

    In any case, the problem is the criminal shooters, self-selected goblins who are choosing not to obey the laws the non-criminal shooters are obeying. Maybe you should concentrate on crafting a law saying that criminals should obey the other laws.

    And maybe you should concentrate on asking why the hell we need 90 guns for every 100 Americans, why we have the highest rates of gun violence, and why the need to have unrestricted access trumps the needs of safety? Or maybe you should ask why conducting an escalating arms race just because of “if we criminalize even one firearm, then only criminals will have them” is preferable to bothering to come up with even a modicum of restraint towards them? Or what about holding gun rights organizations to a standard of lobbying for common-sense solutions rather than lobbying against them to protect the firearms industry? And why not craft laws around the weapons that are major threats? In fact, you said it yourself, that the focus is on “the firearms that are not killing very many people,” so since by necessity you believe that there are firearms that killing many people, why not focus on them?

    I said it above, and I’ll say it again: The Second Amendment to the US Constitution reads “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” You can’t say that the the first three words, combined with the decisions handed down by those who define the law of the land, have no more meaning than the last four.

  217. 2jrt – We are two fab JRTs. Our Alfa Dogs was born in the Czech Republic, what ever that means. There is also Doll and Millachek living with us. Check out our cute stories.
    2jrt

    Kevin Canady – I believe that more guns in hands of more people will result in more deaths of people, IMHO your idea will not solve anything

  218. Genufett – regarding the meaning of the Second Amendment’s militia clause this quote from the Supreme Court’s Heller decision:
    “Held:
    1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a
    firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for
    traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
    Pp. 2–53.
    (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but
    does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative
    clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it
    connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms”

    It seems to me that the Court held that the first three words do indeed have no meaning in any legally binding sense.

  219. Kevin Canady:

    You are goal post moving. My comments were in response to rickg17 who stated emphatically that there were zero instances of civilians stopping mass shootings. This is, of course, absolutely untrue. So you’re moving the goal post to state that only a small percent are stopped by civilians.

    Well, no, I’m not moving any goal posts, because I’m not the one who made that claim. I was just responding to your specific instances.

    Your math is unpersuasive as you assumed the instances given are the only ones in existence. This is also untrue. I just posted a few I was familiar with. There are others that can be found with some Google Fu.

    At no point did I ever assume the instances were the only ones in existence, nor did I state that. I merely pointed out those that you had.

    Your dismissal of one instance because it involved a semi-auto weapon seems like a non sequitur. I fail to see the relevance of weapon type used by spree killers or armed civilian as to the point being made.

    Because semi-automatic weapons are one of the areas of focus in gun regulations.

    I would also like to point out that intervention by armed civilians can prevent an attack from ever becoming a “mass shooting”. If a spree killer is stopped after one innocent death then by definition no mass shooting has occurred. But in this hypothetical it would have become one if not for the presence of an armed civilian. Has this actually occurred in the past? I don’t know, but it’s definitely possible that it has.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just asking for you to present some hard data on how often it actually happens. I don’t see why that’s so difficult to understand.

    So to reiterate, spree killers rarely continue an attack after meeting armed resistance. Armed civilians have stopped spree killers in the past. 8+ Million citizens with CCW licenses have not increased crime and may share some responsibility for decreasing it in the last 20+ years. Spree killers almost exclusively target “gun free” zones, schools, businesses that allow no CCW, etc. decreasing their risk of meeting armed resistance.

    Again, provide some proof, that’s all that’s being asked. You’re combining”mays” and “possibles” with statements of fact that have not yet been supported.

    Therefore we should increase their chances of meeting armed resistance by allowing the trustworthy CCW holders, teachers, principals, custodians, etc. to carry their weapons in more places so as to decrease the chances a spree attack turns in to a mass shooting.

    Then as I’ve said several times, those who advocate for those solutions must be prepared to bear the numerous and expensive additional costs for training and constant review of skills that makes them as safe as uniformed services around those specified zones, the health care costs for dealing with any mental health issues and physical injuries, the “hazard pay” required for those that are in potential areas of harm, and procurement of all equipment.

    And, not to put too fine a point on it, those that haven’t advocated that the teachers, principals, custodians, etc., be given additional funding already for subsistence, higher-quality peer-reviewed materials, proven educational assistance such as smaller classrooms and building safety, and improved health care should be asking themselves why that has all come a distant second to running an arms escalation process.

  220. It seems to me that the Court held that the first three words do indeed have no meaning in any legally binding sense.

    Read again what our host posted from the same decision, and the words “traditionally lawful purposes” in what you posted, and point out how they do not apply.

  221. maybe you should go to the local fire department and learn how to use a fire extinguisher?

    No need to be condescending on top of name-calling, especially if you’re refusing to answer the question posed to you.

  222. 2jrt – Your belief is not supported by the facts. We have run a nation wide experiment for the last 20+ years in what happens when you allow 8+ Million regular folks who reach the age of 21 with no criminal or mental illness record to carry deadly weapons in public with very few restrictions. Many literally predicted “blood in the streets”. That did not happen. Instead, the crime rate dropped to 50 year lows. The ABSOLUTE number of people murdered per year dropped in almost each of the last 20+ years.

    In addition to the massive increase in CCW about 4-5 Million new guns are purchased each year, adding to the total in circulation.

    So, the facts are that increasing the total number of guns in circulation and increasing the number of citizens carrying firearms in public on a daily basis has resulted in fewer deaths. It appears my idea does indeed help solve something.

  223. Your belief is not supported by the facts. We have run a nation wide experiment for the last 20+ years in what happens when you allow 8+ Million regular folks who reach the age of 21 with no criminal or mental illness record to carry deadly weapons in public with very few restrictions.

    What facts support your belief? We also instituted a number of stricter gun safety and anti-violence laws in the last 20+ years, laws which have been shown to have a positive correlation with rates of gun violence. The use of CCW laws has not had near the same level of correlation. Again, if you’ve got proof to refute this, then provide it.

    So, the facts are that increasing the total number of guns in circulation and increasing the number of citizens carrying firearms in public on a daily basis has resulted in fewer deaths. It appears my idea does indeed help solve something.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but according to the data, this is not the case. That, of course, hasn’t affected the total number of guns, just their concentration. If we want to see if what happens when we increase the number of guns, there’s substantial evidence that indicates that more guns means more murders. If you’ve got data that says otherwise…well, you know the drill by now.

  224. htom: Notice I said “very hard” not “demonstrably impossible in any way shape of form.” Reading comprehension, please.

    For that matter, you can drop basically any household object from 5 stories up and kill someone with it, potentially even very large plushies. That does not make them comparable to guns. My point stands. Guns != fire extinguishers.

    Also, “go to the local fire department and learn how to use a fire extinguisher” – you’re saying the way to use a fire extinguisher is to drop them out of tall buildings and kill homeless people? That’s more than a little disturbing.

  225. BTW, here’s an article which discusses a peer-reviewed study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine that finds that that those who had control of a firearm were 4.5 times more likely to be shot during an assault than those who didn’t:

    On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.

  226. @ Genufett:
    Thank you in general.

    I cited NPR citing that earlier, but I think it got lost. Or people aren’t using it.

    The way it was originally phrased made me wonder if people living in more dangerous areas and more likely to get shot anyway were more likely to own firearms (which isn’t far-fetched), but it seems like the study was done in a very small area where the relative danger is more likely comparable across all the people in the study. Good to know.

  227. htom — … The idea of “armed teachers” is not to prevent violent attacks. It is to provide someone to respond to an attack within seconds, rather minutes, with violence if necessary. Do you object to fire extinguishers? Object to having one in your classroom? Fire extinguishers do not prevent fires, they are used to extinguish them; think of an armed aide as a violence extinguisher. …

    minaria — …Also: guns (or people carrying them) != fire extinguishers. Seriously, wtf? It’s very hard to kill someone with a fire extinguisher, intentionally or accidentally. Harder still from 50 feet. …

    htom — maybe you should go to the local fire department and learn how to use a fire extinguisher?

    Genufett — No need to be condescending on top of name-calling, ….

    I’m sure you’d find my explaining the concept of analogy condescending. I’ll elaborate.

    fire : fire extinguisher :: violence : firearm (note that both fire extinguishers and firearms are generally useless without human users.)

  228. Genufett – I accept your contention about goal post moving. You intended to change the focus of the discussion regarding zero instances of civilian interventions in spree attacks and I failed to notice that.

    I still disagree about the focus on semi-auto weapons. I maintain the weapon of choice of spree killers is irrelevant as to whether armed civilians can be effective in stopping such attacks.

    My hypothetical was trying to show that it was possible that the intervention of an armed civilian can hide the fact that a mass shooting was intended by the spree killer. I contend that by definition this type of intervention, while plausible, is difficult to determine.

    As to facts, it is a fact that while over 8 Million CCWs are out and about in public, crime has dropped to historic lows. It is a fact that armed civilians have stopped spree attacks. It is a fact that the criminality rate of CCW holders is extremely low, on par with the police. It is a fact that the majority of spree killers suicide or surrender at the first encounter with armed resistance. I contend therefore that increasing the odds of a spree killer meeting armed civilian resistance is a net positive.

    School funding and resources is a huge issue that diverges from the primary thread topic. I have expressed no opinion on that topic in this thread. I will say one way to increase the odds of stopping spree killers in schools requires no extra funds. Among the 8+ Million CCW holder are many school personnel. We could simply allow those existing CCW holders, who have already proven themselves as a group trustworthy, to carry in the schools.

  229. Oooh, analogies! I can do those, too! Thank you, SATs!

    guns: enjoyment :: plushes : fun

    Notice how that doesn’t make guns and plushies equivalent?

  230. @Genufett

    How much training did those NYPD officers responding to the Empire State building have? After all, of the 9 people injured in that attack, they were responsible for injuring all nine of them. If we’re OK with the trained professionals doing that (And keep in mind both those 15 year NYPD vets had never used their firearms while on duty before) can we not hold armed civilians to the same standard?

    With regards to your question about people being stopped by other armed persons:

    http://www.volokh.com/2012/12/14/do-civilians-armed-with-guns-ever-capture-kill-or-otherwise-stop-mass-shooters/

    There are more examples out there, but seeing as how your source biased, I believe your missing the point. If you believe that the hard reports of civilians stopping an armed shooter are nothing more than NRA propaganda pieces, where are the stories debunking them? Where are the stories and news reports proving those NRA reports are nothing but made up lies and propaganda? Surely proving the NRA is not only making up numbers but lying about the efficiency of armed citizens is newsworthy?
    And then, as a corollary, if these NRA reports are true, why is the NRA seemingly the only institution interested in publishing and promoting them?

    “And why not craft laws around the weapons that are major threats? ”

    At an estimate, there are 20000 state and federal firearms laws in the US. Is there any reason to believe that laws haven’t been created to address “Major Threats?”

    Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in America. Yet, despite those laws, its violent crime rate was 148% higher than the national average in 2010, and it’s 2012 murder rate is higher this year. So exactly how are more laws restricting guns going to help?

  231. I’m sure you’d find my explaining the concept of analogy condescending. I’ll elaborate.

    Indeed it is. Your analogy makes zero sense. Fire extinguishers exist for one purpose: to extinguish fires. Firearms do not exist solely for the purpose of extinguishing violence, and more often than not are used in the commission of violence (their original purpose) rather than disruption of it. The operator is not an analogy of the utility.

  232. As an elementary school teacher, I have a question for those who think that arming teachers is a good idea. Others have brought up the issue of the cost and training for such an endeavor (as an aside, my district has failed three tax levies in the past two years and is currently on our fourth round of RIFs and program cutbacks–so where in the world money for firearms training, not to mention the firearms themselves along with the their maintenance, is supposed to come from I have no idea), so I won’t get into that.

    Instead, how exactly is the notion of arming me as a teacher supposed to work in a practical sense? I am surrounded all day long by 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 year olds, many of whom are constantly grabbing at my arm, tugging at my shirt or belt, bumping into me, and spontaneously jumping at me for an impromptu hug. Under those conditions, is anyone proposing that I have a GUN strapped to my side or my hip? I cannot fathom that anyone who actually thinks that through would believe that to be a good idea. Or is the school supposed to install some sort of gun safe in every classroom (yet another expense)? If so, how do we handle the issues of substitute teachers, aides, parent volunteers, and others who could gain access in one way or another? For that matter, how do we ensure that the STUDENTS would never gain access? It would only take a single instance of a teacher being careless or forgetful (and yes, as a group teachers are just as much those things as anyone else) for a different kind of tragedy to occur. What sort of discussion will we be having at that point?

    Personally, I am not against gun ownership in general. I believe it should be regulated and monitored far more stringently than, say, automobile ownership, but for those who use them responsibly I don’t see that as a drawback. I have shot a gun exactly twice in my life, and have no real interest in ever doing so again–but if someone can convince me that arming me in my classroom would ENHANCE my students’ safety, I’ll reconsider. Right now, though, all I can imagine is that putting guns in every classroom in the country would only make the number of victims of some sort greater, not smaller.

  233. Genufett – The CDC issued a report essentially saying that there was no evidence gun control laws were effective. In a blow to my side they also found no evidence CCW laws were effective.
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm

    But what we do know for a fact is that that are now over 8 Million CCW holders in the US. At the time that number was increasing the crime rate dropped. Other commenters claimed crime would rise as a result of increasing guns in public. That fact belies that assertion. Did increasing CCW help decrease crime? I suspect we’ll never know for sure, each side can trot out their favorite studies “proving” their case. But increasing CCW rates has correlated with, but not necessarily caused, decreasing crime rates. This was the exact opposite of what many predicted would happen. That was my main point.

  234. So, synthesizing the thread, it seems like almost everyone essentially agrees that the minimum standard for owning a fire-arm should be what is currently required of CCW. So, why not start there? Why not reform our gun safety laws so that the lowest common denominator is higher than the current LCD? Make it a 20-year regulation that terms with an option to renew with a simple majority. That gives us a whole generation to see how it works.

    If we’re willing to experiment with more and more guns, and are unhappy with the outcomes, e.g. mass killings in schools, then why not try moving in the other direction? America is, after all, a “grand experiment,” so let’s get serious about it where it counts. Then we can count the bodies, and see who wins.

    Personally, I think the example of other societies is pretty convincing evidence that the US body count will be lower with stricter gun safety regulations, but 20 years is certainly time enough to prove me wrong. Maybe we, as a nation, are just so blood-thirsty that nothing can reduce the death toll, and the city on the hill is painted red with the blood of first-graders. I would hope that that is not the true meaning of American exceptionalism, though.

  235. timeliebe: “ban guns forever!” – which is what “gun control” means to most of my fellow progressive gun control types.

    I want you to read this very slowly: I am a progressive and I am a better shot than you.

    Do you understand?

    I don’t want to “ban guns forever”. But the NRA has fought to allow cash sales of guns with no paper trail and no checks whatsoever. And that’s insane. I have to register my dog, for fuck’s sake.

    I don’t want to “ban guns forever”, I want background checks, I want some minimum requirements for ownership like not-a-felon, and I want a paper trail to convict anyone who violates those requirements and sells a gun to someone they shouldn’t have.

    Genufett: feel free to propose actual, real-world tested solutions for dealing with the problem. Because that’s the one thing that I rarely see coming from the discussion when these things happen. Mainly from die-hard guns rights advocates, but anti-gun advocates screaming for it to be all shut down aren’t helping either.

    Ya know, every time a gun tragedy comes into the news, gun nuts will say that the only “valid” gun control proposals that can be considered at the moment must be proposals that solve whatever specific tragedy just hit the news, and any wider discussion of gun control is unacceptable.

    That’s as insane as reading a headline about Rosa Parks not giving up her seat on a bus, and insisting that the only “valid” solutions to be considered right now would be solutions related specifcially to bussing, and that the topic of segregation as a whole is magically off the table.

    That’s divide-and-conquer bullshit. Fuck that.

    Kevin: As to facts, it is a fact that while over 8 Million CCWs are out and about in public, crime has dropped to historic lows.

    Facts, eh? OK, I’ll play that game: machine guns have been heavily regulated since 1934. Number of crimes commited with machine guns is near zero.

    Now tell me gun regulation can’t reduce gun crime.

    I don’t have a problem with CCW. I have a problem with unregulated CCW.

    I don’t have a problem with machine guns, I have a problem with machine guns being sold without the regulations like class three firearms licenses keeping machine guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

    so, while you’re trying to make this about CCW => low crime, you’re logical problem is that I’m not going to bother to disagree with you on that. It’s irrelevant. I’m not oposed to concealed carry. I just want it regulated.

    but see, this is where the true motives of gun nuts get revealed. They really don’t care about whether CCW lowers crime or not. To them, its just a cover to move the argument away from reasonable gun regulation. They want people to be able to walk into a gun show, pay cash for a gun, and walk out with it with zero paper trail. That’s insane. And it has nothing to do with concealed carry reducing crime or not.

    It is nothing more than a reflection of their complete paranoia. And I’m sick and tired of gun laws being driven by paranoid doomsday survivalists whose primary concern is those black helicopters from the UN taking their guns and putting them in concentration camps.

    So, you can have your CCW. I just want it to be regulated to some degree so that if you are carrying a concealed weapon and you shouldn’t be, you can be arrested before you commit a crime with that concealed weapon. Like, shoot up a school.

    You can even have your machine guns for all I care if you want. Just get yourself a class 3 federal firearms license. And if your machine guns help reduce crime too, hey, more power to you.

  236. mintwitch – We’ve already run your proposed experiment. Over the last 20+ years the number of people legally carrying weapons in public has increased from a small number to over 8 Million. Fewer people are now murdered each year than there were 20 years ago. I’d say the experiment was a success.

  237. mintwitch — in many ways a good idea. Sadly, the political process has poisoned that well and you’ll find it very hard to get the gun owners (including me) to drink from it. We’ve had too many of these “just a little, nothing bad will happen” laws over the decades and no longer have any faith in government’s ability to conduct such licensing and registration with the promised intent and lack of consequences to the law-abiding.

  238. Todd: How much training did those NYPD officers responding to the Empire State building have? After all, of the 9 people injured in that attack, they were responsible for injuring all nine of them. If we’re OK with the trained professionals doing that (And keep in mind both those 15 year NYPD vets had never used their firearms while on duty before) can we not hold armed civilians to the same standard?

    Actually, that’s a terrible argument. Mostly because there are reports in the news ALL THE TIME about cops shooting people they shouldn’t have and cops using tasers when there was no need. The idea is that even after all the professional training cops are getting, they’re misusing their weapons. They are shooting people armed only with wallets, or armed only with hands that are black, and as Stephen Colbert shrewdly pointed out, black hands look like guns.

    If we allow civilians to do the same sort of thing that cops do, then that would look something like a civilian shooting and killing someone armed with a bag of skittles. Granted that’s just a hypothetical outcome. But if it did happen, it would be bad.

    So, no. Some of us are not ok with that.

  239. Todd: I’m sorry, which of my peer-reviewed sources was biased? Was it the Harvard School of Public health or the University of PA? And how is a noted libertarian blog an unimpeachable source?

  240. This certainly has been an interesting thread.

    For those who think we shouldn’t be discussing this now, all I can say is: this is me trying to protect my family.

    For those who are gun proponents, I sincerely wish we could find some compromise that would get the rest of us more safety while still protecting your ability to pursue your hobbies, but I have yet to see you offer up any meaningful compromise to the people who disagree with you.

    For those who think more like me, I urge you to tell the people who matter. Sign the petition on WhiteHouse.gov (http://wh.gov/RN6U), write your elected officials, write to the NRA… basically, stop being silent on this issue.

    For those who think we need to focus more on the mental health aspect, I am all for that, too. Consider donating to an appropriate charity that works on those issues. I did.

    I wish you all the peace of this holiday season. I wish I could find it.

  241. “Justin Jordan: Actually, your numbers work out to about 0.01 percent.”

    Wait, which numbers? There are supposedly 300,000,000 guns in the US, and the number mentioned for deaths was 33,000 which looks to work out to 0.00011 anyway I figure it.

    “WRONG – modern subways are designed with inner walls and doors so people can’t leap/ be shoved to their death. Hard to retrofit existing systems – just like we can’t change that America is chock full of guns now – but a badly build current environment doesn’t mean there are no better options. There are better ways of doing things, for subways and gun regulation.”

    The point I was making is that despite being occasionally killed by falling onto the tracks, the sheer economics of refitting those stations hasn’t been a priority. Hell, the subway thing could be solved fairly cheaply if inelegantly by temporary barriers and an on duty cop there.

  242. htom: Well, I’m a gun owner, and I would happily register it six ways from Sunday and take a mandatory fire-arm safety course. If I found it too onerous, I guess I would just turn it in. It’s not like I’ve ever used the thing. So, for this particular gun owner, the only poison well is the one we’re currently drinking from.

  243. Gregg – You are correct that heavily regulated machine guns are rarely used in crime. The repeal of prohibition may have something to do with that. But that is speculation on my part.

    As to CCW, the vast majority of “shall issue” states do in fact regulate CCW. Very few allow unlicensed CCW. I think only Alaska & Vermont allow that. Last I heard Vermont was not considered a hotbed of crime. :^)

    I object to being labeled a “nut”. Our esteemed host has asked for civility and I have not hurled pejoratives at anyone. I ask for the same consideration from you.

    As to your concerns about the criminality of CCW holders. Their violent crime rate is so low as to be statistical noise. They, as a group, are as likely to commit a crime as the police. I believe your concern in that regard is overwrought.

  244. @ Canyon42: Thank you for being a teacher.

    @ Kevin Canady

    But what we do know for a fact is that that are now over 8 Million CCW holders in the US. At the time that number was increasing the crime rate dropped… But increasing CCW rates has correlated with, but not necessarily caused, decreasing crime rates.

    Yes. Correlation is not causation. However, additionally, other potential causative factors (in this case: incarceration, abortion, a wellspring of human goodness*) might also have prevented an increased gun supply from increasing gun violence. I know this is another barrel of worms, but it’s the only example I can think of at the moment: some scientists 40 years ago were predicting a global cooling; the fact that there is global warming means they were wrong, but because of other causative factors, not because of their models or reasoning.

    I’m not saying that is what has happened, but it is something to keep in mind.

    * if anyone’s found this, we need more of it. =(

    As for the others, more info if anyone is curious: US incarceration rates, The most infamous abortion and crime study, and just a useful graph

    Actually, @ Kevin Canady:

    We’ve already run your proposed experiment.

    We haven’t. There are millions of other factors involved. You see to acknowledge this (correlation doesn’t imply causation), and then… state that they don’t matter as fact. I’m confused. Does correlation imply causation or not?

    @ greg:

    I want you to read this very slowly: I am a progressive and I am a better shot than you.

    It wasn’t quite a lol, but yeah.

  245. minaria – I agree, correlation vs. causation. Very hard to tease out. But I disagree about the experiment not being performed. It was well as one could expect in a large complex society. We increased public carrying of weapons. Some predicted an explosion of crime, others a drop in crime. Those who predicted a crime drop were correct. There’s no way to control the “millions” of other factors.

    I actually don’t agree with the notion abortion caused a crime drop. We’ll never know for sure. My personal preference is lead removal from gasoline and and paint. Lead exposure in developing children is nasty, nasty stuff. Highly correlated with violent tendencies in later life.

  246. @ Kevin Canady

    They, as a group, are as likely to commit a crime as the police.

    First: citations, please! (I’d generally like to look this up. I quick google and I found anti-government sites, so if you have them handy, that’d be useful)

    Second: Isn’t that true of the general population? About .7% of the population is in jail, 3.1% on probation…. so maybe not. Although if we’re going to argue about the safety of certain “groups,” we could just ban men from owning or carrying, since they’re 98% of spree killers and 10x as likely to commit murder. (I am being entirely facetious)

  247. I agree, correlation vs. causation. Very hard to tease out. I disagree about the experiment not being performed. It was well as one could expect in a large complex society. Some predicted an explosion of crime, others a drop in crime. Those who predicted a crime drop were correct. There’s no way to control the “millions” of other factors.

    So: you agree about correlation vs. causation, but not in this instance.

    I could predict the weather tomorrow; so could the US Navy meteorological people. I could be right; they could be wrong. This does not mean they are not better than I am at reasoning about weather.

    But in general, yes, I agree with you; predictions are the foundation of science. When they are not born out, it causes a re-evaluation of models or examination of other external factors. It seems you wish for the model of “increased CCW causing increased accidents” to be thrown out entirely, whereas others are examining many other potential causes.

  248. Kevin: first off, as Genufett said, they’re not my goalposts, so I really can’t move them.I am only pointing out that your examples are falling a bit short and/or wide. Of the four examples you referenced, one wasn’t a civilian at all. (That’s wide.). In another, the civilian didn’t actually do anything (That’s short.) In a third, the shooter was reportedly out of ammo (or nearly so), indicating that the civilian mostly did the apprehending, and is fortunate the shooter wasn’t suicidal. The fourth was very similar to this. (Those are hitting the uprights.) But in none of these cases was the mass killing stopped because of armed civilians – the killing had already occurred. It may have gotten worse before the police could intervene, or it may not have. I tend to think the latter is more likely. But since your argument is that these civilians stopped a mass killing, speculation on how much more life would have been lost is a bit academic at that point. Also, in none of these cases did a civilian stop a shooter by winning a gunfight, which is absolutely the fantasy being promoted by the “an armed citizen would have stopped this” crowd. Frankly, I don’t care that these were the first 4 examples you found in one Google search. You don’t get an A for effort if your evidence isn’t all that convincing.

    htom: I didn’t say the Eddie Eagle campaign was ineffective (though my sense of the NRA’s credibility saps a lot of my sense of it’s potential effectiveness). I was pointing out that it’s Eddie Eagle campaign is very, very simple, requiring almost no effort on the NRA’s part, and thus not really a great example of all the “other” things the NRA does.

    Also, are you really going to argue that trigger locks are a bad thing using cases of “law abiding gun owners” who couldn’t be bothered to follow the First Rule of Firearms (it’s loaded, no exceptions)? Does that sound like the kind of person who should be allowed to own a gun? Shouldn’t that kind of lack of basic competency be the number 3 reason to invoke the ruling John cited in the post (right after criminal record and demonstrated mental instability)? I mean, hell, we take away driver’s licenses for less, and the use of a car is, in this country, far more necessary for daily life than a firearm.

  249. minaria – I cannot find the cite I remembered. I thought it was in this study but it’s not. The GAO study does show a small number of revocations vs the number of licenses in various states. But it does not support the assertion I made. http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592552.pdf

    This site reports on a Texas study showing the low crime rate of CCW holders but doesn’t appear to mention the corresponding police crime rate. http://www.campuscarry.com/supporting-facts-arguments/

    Apologies for relying on my aging memory, it always gets me into trouble. :^).

    So the cites I can find show very low crime rates of CCW holders vs the general population. I can find none that I think you would find reputable about CCW vs police.

    So I will modify my claim to CCW holders are very law abiding vs the general population. Increasing CCW rates have not resulted in an increase in crime, but have rather correlated with a reduction and I will stop there with those facts.

    As to male violence, I’m with you there. As a father with a daughter in the dating pool the appalling rate of male on female violence keeps me up at night. I’m just glad she’s a CCW holder. :^)

  250. Political will. You hit the nail smack dab on the head, John. I don’t know that it’s quite there either. Too many people like their firearms still, and so by association won’t do anything to limit the proliferation of firearms as it presently exists in the USA.

    Will this change? I have no clue and tend to think it won’t, at least not until people are presented with an alternative device that can provide equal ‘guarantee’ against an attack–especially with firearms. Yeah, now I’m talking science fiction, but that’s what it’s going to take, I believe. Something like a personal forcefield or similar. And that’s the saddest part really. It’s not going to happen because too many people–including our own children–are getting blown away by firearms. It’ll be because firearms won’t be as powerful anymore.

  251. Genufett, “That seems like a pretty strong and arbitrary limit to our options. Myself and others have listed plenty of other options, and that’s just for starters. You can’t honestly believe that it’s more important that we let the public–including and maybe especially children–adopt a siege mentality and not change anything except for loosening restrictions who can can carry weapons in public places rather than start with some restrictions (some of which have been statistically proven to be at least somewhat effective) and see how well they do.”

    You do understand that the restrictions on guns in schools are not something that were put in place by the founders, right? I’m merely pointing out a failed law, namely The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. Like so many other laws, this one has had unintended consequences, specifically the proliferation and exacerbation of shootings at schools. When you take guns away from the good guys, it’s not rocket science to predict that if a bad guy shows up, he’s going to be able to shoot whoever he wants with impunity. I’m not saying hand out guns to kids, or to teachers. Just stop taking them away from the CCW and other legal gun owners who work at or visit the schools.

    If restrictions on gun ownership and laws preventing guns from entering schools actually work, then could you explain to me how he managed to get a gun past those laws? Don’t they stop them at the door? Don’t the laws in CT stop people under 21 from having guns? How did he get his hands on one, then?

    That’s my point. Laws only affect the law-abiding. Someone determined to do damage will ignore those laws, and the consequences of those laws, because they know how this is going to end. When they get bored, or run into some opposition, they’ll shoot themselves. A jail term, even a death sentence, is no deterrent.

    We’ve seen how well restrictions do. The law-abiding follow them, the criminals and nutcases don’t, and this is the result.

  252. Doc Rocketscience — I think that trigger locks are one of the worst inventions of the 20th century. Since they shouldn’t — and this warning is frequently stamped on them — be used on a loaded firearm, I don’t see how they can even be used, since, as you said, “1) The Firearm Is Always Loaded.” (and Cooper’s Rule 3 applies, too, Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire.) I beg you, if you have them, buy cable or chamber locks and destroy the trigger locks. They actively invite the accidents they claim to prevent.

    Driver’s Licenses. [long story not typed] The bureaucracy of government can’t even keep those straight. They can’t even keep track of the Title III firearms (how many are there, a million? They don’t even know for sure how many they have correct registrations of!) Why is it at all reasonable to expect them to keep track of two hundred million others as well — and their owners and users status? Identity theft + firearms database –> mess. And the leaks will lead to more thefts.

  253. Doc RocketScience – We’ll have to disagree as to whether you’re moving goal posts. I refuted the claim that zero mass shooters were stopped by armed civilians. Now you’re splitting hairs by arguing that a woman 10 years removed from being a police officer isn’t really a civilian anymore. Disregarding another because no shots were fired by the civilian. Dismissing them all because there wan’t some “shoot out at the OK corral” scenario played out. And dismissing them because the civilians didn’t prevent anyone from being killed prior to them taking action.

    None of your objections are relevant to the point being made that armed civilians have stopped mass shootings. The facts are that in some cases civilians confronted a mass shooter and no further loss of innocent life occurred. I was specifically refuting the contention that there were zero of these incidences. A shooter can be stopped even though zero shots are fired by armed civilians. There does not have to be wild west shootout for a successful intervention.

  254. “There are supposedly 300,000,000 guns in the US, and the number mentioned for deaths was 33,000 which looks to work out to 0.00011 anyway I figure it.”

    By that logic, given that there are likely billions of Staphylococcus aureus organisms in the U.S. and, as of 2007, only 94,000 staph-related deaths a year, staph infection isn’t a significant enough problem that we need to regulate the medical industry to deal with it.

  255. Canyon42, as a high school teacher, my response to anyone suggesting, even facetiously, that teachers should be armed has been a very short and direct “Fuck you.”

  256. Todd (@ 11:47): Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation? Wow. I honestly didn’t realize we were even in the top five of major cities–and kind of disturbed by that, to tell you the truth, because Chicago’s gun laws have more loopholes than a crotchet table cloth. Still. Chicago does have a high crime- and violence-rate, with homicides peaking last summer. Part of that seems to be the way the city and state budget cuts have impacted neighborhood anti-violence programs and the way budget cuts across the board in the Chicago Police have strained them to the breaking point; I don’t think restrictive gun laws can prevent crime at that level, but I also don’t think that requiring gun registration, a training program, and a 72-hour waiting period for hand guns (24 for long guns) is all that unreasonable. It seems like a reasonable part of a comprehensive anti-violence campaign. There is also the problem that a municipality-based approach to gun control laws doesn’t seem to work very well even as ; the most sensible Chicago voice I’ve heard, in the way of the recent tragedy, is from the current Police Superintendent, believes that the nation needs “a better firearm tracking system”:

    A national recognition that there has to be some sort of tracking, not even gun control accountability for gun owners,” he said on Saturday. “It doesn’t mean you can’t have your gun, but there’s a requirement to report the loss, theft, or transfer of a firearm.”

    McCarthy explained that most guns in Chicago are legally purchased, but illegally transferred into the city.

    On the whole, I’m not sure it really matters how restrictive Chicago’s gun laws are, if someone can bring a gun in from Cicero or Forest Park without even changing trains. We’ll see what happens now that the Illinois CCW law has been struck down by Federal ruling; personally, I suspect it won’t make much difference, one way or the other.

    htom and others: Um, I don’t think I’ve ever had a fire extinguisher in my classroom; I certainly don’t have one there now. They’re in the halls, in some buildings . . . but to answer the question in the sense that htom meant it: no, I don’t object to fire extinguishers, but I don’t know that I’d be able to use one effectively to put out a fire. It isn’t part of the fire safety drill where I teach, and never has been. The extinguishers are there, I believe, for the first responders, namely the school security guards and maintenance workers, who are trained in their use. My job is to respond to the alarm (or pull the alarm I suppose, and then respond) by getting the students out of the classroom and the building as quickly and safely as possible, following pre-planned routes and using procedures which we practice regularly. If I did try to use a fire extinguisher, I’d probably make a mess of it and risk leaving my students in harm’s way while I fumbled with it. Even if I’d been trained–my job description does not include “put out fires.” It does include: “remove students from building in the case of a fire.” So . . . I don’t think the analogy works all that well.

    I repeat, if you try to give me LEO training to handle a gun, try to make me carry a gun in class, I’m gone.I don’t care what the school district offers to pay me, I could not do that, I wouldn’t not trust myself to do that. I look at my colleagues, and I wouldn’t trust most of them either. If trained and dedicated law enforcement personnel have problems using guns to defend themselves and others, how is it a good idea to arm a person who deliberately chose a professional where she knew her personal physical incompetence in such matters wouldn’t be an issue? Not to mention (as Canyon42 points out), giving me a gun to carry now means that I am also responsible for keeping said gun out of the hands of my students! I can’t keep track of my stapler, and you want me to keep track of a gun? Not a good thought.

    Please. I’m willing to admit that greater security in schools might help. Talking about arming teachers is just a distraction, in my opinion.

  257. mkschlam – Sarastoa, FL USA – I am retired, but I have a lot to talk about. I am married and we have 5 children and 3 grandchildren. I have a masters degree in mathematics and I have had various jobs ranging from working in a sewage treatment plant to teaching at the college level. I may from time to time tell you parts of the story of my life. These are generally, the stories of our lives. I will tell you mostly true stories about mostly fictional people. You might ask, huh, how can you do that? The day to day lives, crises, joys, and horrors we all experience are the truth. I have seen enough of them. One or two may resonate with you, but the people are made out of whole cloth tie-dyed in the vat of my experiences.
    Martin

    I am going to a mall cineplex with the sign “no weapons allowed”.

  258. I’ve been trying to boil this down to fundamentals for years. Here’s where I wind up.

    1) There are a class of people who take personal responsibility for their own safety and that of their friends and family. These are not all police officers or military and there is no requirement for such a person to belong to the police or military. In fact, many are normal, responsible civilians, your friends and neighbors. This was the “armed citizen” who formed the nation’s first militias and took up arms when necessary to defend their nation. They may or may not currently own guns. If they own guns, as responsible adults, they tend to learn the proper ways to maintain, store and use their tools. I sincerely hope that this class is not seen as a problem, because, objectively speaking, it does not appear to be a problem.

    2) There is a group of, let’s call them “yahoos” who are not models of responsibility with respect to, well, a lot of things, but are particularly cavalier about their ownership, storage, and use of guns. This group causes image problems for the responsible folks and tends to be the images seized upon by the sensationalist media. These folks tend to be a problem because accidents, theft, and general perceptions of dangerous or irresponsible behavior muddy the waters. I tend to think this group is relatively small, as every gun owner I have ever met has been responsible and respectful, but it exists somewhere and its’ negative impact is disproportionate.

    3) There is another class that is constantly terrified that death may find them from some source somewhere and is lashed onward by this fear without regard for history, rights, legality or any other principles of cooperative living. Hollywood continually churns out movies on this theme and the media plays on these fears continually, so it is unsurprising that this group grows and expands over time. The group is a problem, however, because no amount of legislating will ever be able to fully assuage their fear. There is literally nothing which can be done, even in an absolutely fascist state, to make them feel secure or to guarantee insulation against death to an entire society. Nevertheless, they push toward total control and fascism because they desperately need to feel better. Again, I believe this group is relatively small, but their fears get played large when there is a tragedy.

    4) There is another group who routinely relies upon the safety offered by a stable society and the rule of law and doesn’t pay much attention to why the society has evolved to its current state. This is a problem because when tragedy strikes, they suddenly wake up, feel threatened, and want to “DO SOMETHING!” which usually tends to be enact laws leading to fascism at the behest of #3 people above. This is probably the largest group of all, and to them I would say: don’t get stampeded off a cliff. Pause and look where you are going.

    I believe a review of history will show that personal rights and freedoms have evolved more or less simultaneously with increases in personal protective power. Feudal rule under the absolute rule of the king and his armored knights became threatened by the longbow, then the crossbow which made knights vulnerable even to crudely trained peasants. The Pope, at the behest of the ruling classes, promptly decreed that the crossbow was illegal and could not be used by any Christian. By the time single-shot firearms became available, armor disappeared along with oppressive knights, and the Renaissance bloomed. As the ability to effectively defend onesself evolved, the “natural rights” philosophers arose and fleshed out the principles which gave rise to the American and French revolutions. The forces of oppression, however, did not simply give up. Many of the anti-firearms laws in the US were first passed, notably in New York, following the US Civil War, in part because of the fear that recently freed slaves would violently demand redress, and in part to make sure that the ruling elite retained their privileged status. If you look at those laws, you will see that many specifically targeted minorities while allowing whites to bear arms without restriction.

    Is it really coincidence that as mass-produced firearms became commonly available in the middle of the 20th century that we saw rights for women and minorities became enforceable? I think not. The elites had to concede the rights or show their hand in what would have been an obvious, and bloody power-play. No, friends, ownership of the absolute right to defend yourself against oppression should be a cherished right for anyone whose history includes domination and repression, who is not able to physically overcome a street gang or would-be rapist, or who has ever read of a corrupt police officer or politician.

    This holds true on the world stage as well. There are a substantial number of historians who believe that Japan didn’t invade the west coast in World War 2 because they feared the sheer number of armed Americans would overwhelm any force they could deploy. It is our final defense, that a free people will not surrender their liberty so hard won and maintained over the centuries. We love our equality, the rights of all to be equal and enforced, and should never, ever, forget how that came about and why it remains.

  259. Justin Jordan: Indeed, your figures come out close to 0.00011. However, they do not come out to 0.00011 PERCENT, which was your first statement. The word “percent” moves the decimal point over a couple of spots.

  260. Sadly, the political process has poisoned that well and you’ll find it very hard to get the gun owners (including me) to drink from it. We’ve had too many of these “just a little, nothing bad will happen” laws over the decades and no longer have any faith in government’s ability to conduct such licensing and registration with the promised intent and lack of consequences to the law-abiding.

    I’d like to know what, exactly, “bad” has happened to gun owners. And if you have so little faith in the government’s ability to conduct licensing and registration, what evidence do you have that private organizations doing so will work any better? I’m sorry, but if there’s such a problem with devices like cars that are not invented and used primarily for violence towards objects and people, then perhaps we should rethink the idea of encouraging even looser regulation of those devices that are until such a solution is found. I’m concerned enough that my state (home of the Confederacy) requires less than 50 hours of supervised training and 5-year reviews to operate motor vehicles; the idea that education and licensure of gun ownership should loosened to well under that or eliminated because people aren’t willing to fund or operate the bureaucracy better to be appalling. We know the government registration and tracking solution can work in countries with somewhat similar firearm usage (see also: Israel and Switzerland) in a way that reduces gun violence and accidents, we should attempt to model ourselves on them.

  261. KIA: Bravo, you have managed to fail at the history of feudalism, the Papacy, civil rights, women’s rights, and manufacturing in one fell swoop.

  262. == Off topic recommendation about fire extinguisher training etc ==

    Mary Frances — I urge you, in all seriousness, to call your local fire department (not the 911 line) and ask if there’s some local program where you can be shown (and if possible practice) using typical home fire extinguishers. I am astonished that you do not know how to use one, and suddenly suspect you’re not alone in that. (When I was in school, 5th grade, Mrs. Hill, we all, each and every one of us, had to demonstrate that we could put out a paper fire in a waste bucket out in the yard using the soda&water extinguishers commonly used in the 1950’s.) You really don’t know when you’ll be called on to put out a fire on a stove, in a fireplace, … yes, call 911 first, get everyone out second, but sometimes after that, third, you can put it out before they even get there.

    Check the fire extinguisher in your kitchen, outside your kitchen, and your car trunk; Halloween is the traditional time but Christmas or New Years works too.

    First aid and CPR, too. “First Responders” are really fourth or fifth responders. You — each of you — is THE first responder when emergency hits. You call 911. The person who answers is the second responder. The dispatcher is the third. The fire crew & EMTs are the fourth (fifth in cities where dispatch is routed through a call center.)

    == ==

  263. htom: Way to miss the point on the training and health/injury concerns of one’s self and wards of a relatively innocuous device compared to a firearm.

  264. Genufett — actually, I’ll point at the Guillotine, electric chair, axe and block, and post, with or without blindfold, as machines invented for the killing of humans. Firearms have many other uses, most of which you seem to insist on ignoring.

  265. Kevin, you’ve missed my point completely. You said:

    Kevin: As to facts, it is a fact that while over 8 Million CCWs are out and about in public, crime has dropped to historic lows. It is a fact that armed civilians have stopped spree attacks. It is a fact that the criminality rate of CCW holders is extremely low, on par with the police. It is a fact that the majority of spree killers suicide or surrender at the first encounter with armed resistance. I contend therefore that increasing the odds of a spree killer meeting armed civilian resistance is a net positive.

    Let’s pretend for a moment that we both agree that these facts are true. Not only that, but lets pretend we both agree that the the causation that you’re implying, that arming citizens in general will cause crime to go down, is also true. That it’s a hard link, somehow proven scientifically.

    With me so far?

    OK. Even if we both agree that armed civilians will reduce crime, my question to you is this:

    How will licensing the owners and registering those guns inhibit those civilians from their crime fighting ways?

    This is where the resistance to gun-control collapses, and therefore this is why people against gun control always change the subject to something else. The argument about correllation-versus-causation is irrelevant to gun control, because even if we accept the most extreme pro-gun view about armed-civilians-reducing-crime, the thing is those armed-civilians could reduce crime just as easily if their guns were registered, if they had background checks before purchasing them, and if there was a paper trail all the way back to the gun dealer who initially bought the gun from the manufacterer.

    Am I right?

    So, I’m not trying to stop you from your superhero crime fighting ways. If you want a machine gun, I don’t mind if you get a class 3 federal firearms license and buy a fucking ma deuce on a tripod and shoot targets miles away. If you want to conceal carry, I don’t oppose that either, I just want people to get a license to do that. If you want to buy a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, I don’t mind that either, as long as you have somethign that shows you meet the background requirements and your purchase has a paper trail with the govenrment.

    If you’re only concern is that armed-civilians-stops-crime, then fine. You can be armed. I just want everyone to have a firearms license of some kind that shows they meet some minimum requirements and a paper trail any time a gun changes hands.

    If you’re opposed to that, if you’re opposed to a license and a paper trail, then this talk about armed-civilians-stop-crime is a smoke screen trying to change the subject.

    So, then, my question to you is this: Would you oppose licensing of all gun owners and would you oppose registering a paper trail for all gun sales?

    If you don’t have a problem with license and registration, then we are actually in agreement.

    If you DO have a problem with license and registration, then this talk about stopping-crime is irrelevant, because even if we agree with you on the armed-civilians-stop-crime idea you keep pushing, you oppose gun regulations that would in no way hinder armed-civilians-from-stopping-crime. So bringing it up is just a smoke screen.

    So, back to my question: Would you oppose licensing of all gun owners and would you oppose registering a paper trail for all gun sales?

  266. htom: No, I’m not ignoring them, I’m placing them in the context of other devices. You’re the one who is making direct analogies between the historic lethality of fire extinguishers and that of firearms. And as I’m sure you know, all of those devices–at least those still in use–are in fact highly regulated and controlled, if not operated exclusively by, the government.

    At no point have I advocated that firearms are exclusively for use as killing of humans, just that they are unique in that they were, in fact, invented and continue to be designed for that use, and are at the same time advocated to be less regulated than devices that are not.

  267. Oh, and you’ve still not answered my questions as to whether, as an advocate of arming the populace in specific targeted locations, you would agree to bear the additional costs for training and constant review of skills that makes personnel as safe as uniformed services around those specified locations, the health care costs for dealing with any mental health issues and physical injuries, the “hazard pay” required for those that are in potential areas of harm, and procurement of all equipment.

  268. Mary, I’m not advocating forcing you (or anyone) to train in the use and safety of firearms. All I want is for the dangerous and damaging restrictions on willing citizens’ ability to defend themselves be removed.

    Would you be OK if one of your fellow teachers decided that it was worth his or her time to train in the use and safety of firearms, and carried, in the intent to protect the children in the event of something like this happening again?

  269. Theodore: All I want is for the dangerous and damaging restrictions on willing citizens’ ability to defend themselves be removed.

    Oh yes, making machine guns require a class 3 federal firearms license is so dangerous and damaging. My god, just look at the damage.

  270. Greg, having had my driver’s license repeatedly cancelled by the DMV because the VA insisted on delivering medical records to the DMV the way federal regulations required, instead of the way the Commissioner of DMV wanted … no. I’ve got no faith in firearms licensing. The several-times burnt child shuns the fire, and has no desire to discover a SWAT team breaking in because of some other twit’s desire to demonstrate the length … I’ll stop. NO.

  271. htom: Greg, having had my driver’s license repeatedly cancelled by the DMV

    Slippery slope.

    One could just as easily point to prohibition and say that any restriction on alcohol is just a heartbeat away from going back to total prohibition, and therefore we can have no faith in alcohol licensing or restrictions on the sale of alcohol, and must oppose restrictions on the use of alcohol such as having blood alcohol limits for drivers. Because, ya know, prohibition had their own version of SWAT teams breaking down doors because of some twit’s desire to demonstrate….

    So, no. That doesn’t fly in my book.

    Theodore: Would you be OK if one of your fellow teachers decided that it was worth his or her time to train in the use and safety of firearms, and carried, in the intent to protect the children in the event of something like this happening again?

    I’d be fine with that if he was subject to a background check and license for possessing the firearm, if the purchase were registered with a paper trail.

    Deal?

    That was easy.

  272. Greg, had I been saying anything about machine guns, had this anything to do with machine guns, you’d have an excellent point. Since I didn’t, and it doesn’t, that’s just a cute little straw man.

    Gun free zones are nothing but shooting galleries for people willing to break those laws.

  273. Greg, “I’d be fine with that if he was subject to a background check and license for possessing the firearm, if the purchase were registered with a paper trail.

    Deal?”

    Deal. Now, can we take the “No one will fire back at you here” signs down?

  274. htom (@ 1:59): I appreciate the advice and thank you for your good intentions. I could probably manage to use a fire extinguisher in the backyard, with training. Beyond that–I don’t think I could. Again, this is me, and I know myself and how I tend to react physically in emergencies. I work on preventing fires in the classroom–I once had a student set his desk on fire, so believe me, I acknowledge that fire might happen in the classroom (in that case, running for the extinguisher would have done no good at all, but specific anecdotes prove nothing and I can conceive of different situations); I’m still don’t see putting out fires as part of the job description. I also don’t own a fire extinguisher, and I likely never will. My response to a fire larger than flaming vegetables in a frying pan is “get out, now.” My firemen relatives tell me that that is likely the best thing I could do, in most circumstances. However, that is me (they know me, too); I could see other teachers disagreeing, though I’d hate for “using a fire extinguisher” to become part of the job description because I honestly don’t think I could live up to that responsibility very well.

    Theodore Minick (@2:18): In the abstract, I can see how it’s possible that a school might have one or two well-trained, armed and willing teachers; it’s why I asked about the Israeli practices. In specific, I look around at my colleagues and try to imagine which of them I would trust with a gun, and the answer is, emphatically, none. Most of them, if I found out they were carrying a gun on campus, I’d quit my job in a heartbeat and starting trying to find out if Macdonalds was hiring–and I love my job and loathe Macdonalds. That’s why I don’t think “let’s give teachers guns” is worth discussing; there are damn few of us who should be trusted with classroom guns, even among the willing population. The profession just doesn’t seem to attract people who would be suitable to that sort of training. Again, I’m sure there are exceptions, but I don’t believe there are sufficient exceptions to make this proposal worth bringing up–and it does seem to come up, every time a school shooting happens. Security guards? Maybe worth talking about. Armed teachers? Not a really large-scale helpful solution, in my opinion.

  275. Like many others, I do not for the life of me know what to do about all this. I like to shoot; I love the engineering and manufacturing detail on a good gun. I do not, however, understand why any normal person thinks he/she needs a military grade weapon.
    Also – all y’all who are all about the “armed citizen crimestopper” – I always want to know this: What makes you so goddam sure you are gonna win the gunfight? Just because you’re the good guy in the white hat? Rubbish. Highly trained police and military LOSE the gunfight every day. Adrenaline, the inherent difficulty of hitting ANYTHING with a handgun at a range of over a few feet, moving bystanders, ricochets – every shot fired has the potential for horrendous unintended consequences.
    I am perfectly willing to accept reasonable restrictions on when, where, how often, and what type of firearm I can purchase. If YOU are not, you really need to think very hard about why. And no, “INFOWARS says there is a secret plot between Obama and the UN” is not a good reason.

  276. Theodore: that’s just a cute little straw man.

    Uhm….

    All I want is for the dangerous and damaging restrictions on willing citizens’ ability to defend themselves be removed.

    Strawman? Is that you? What’s with the kid, the dog, the lion, and the droid?

  277. Greg – First, thank you for not calling me a nut again. But I find this bit of condescension uncalled for: “So, I’m not trying to stop you from your superhero crime fighting ways.” I am in no way attempting to be a superhero.

    On to the discussion. So if you assume arguendo with the net positive of CCW holders then it follows that increasing the number of CCW holders should be a priority. And any actions that result in a decrease of the CCW population to be avoided. Agreed?

    Increasing license and registration requirements on CCW holders beyond the minimum necessary will necessarily raise the cost of obtaining a CCW license. Econ 101 says increasing the cost of an item will mostly result in a decrease in demand. Therefore increased licensing and registrations will reduce the supply of CCWs, resulting in a net negative to society.

    You also seem to still be laboring under the misinformation that the vast majority of CCWs are unlicensed. As I stated above that is untrue. Only a handful of small population states allow unlicensed CCW. The vast majority are licensed with training and proficiency exams required.

    Though somewhat tangential to the point I was making of CCW being a net positive, here are my thoughts on license and registration.

    I oppose the majority of them for some practical and philosophical reasons. One could (and many have) write a book on the history of gun control in the US. But here are a few practical reasons:
    – Almost every single gun control law in the US up to, but not including the Brady Bill, was explicitly racist in origin. Starting in the South after Reconstruction and in the North as exemplified by New York’s Sullivan Laws gun control was targeted at Blacks and new immigrants from the southern Mediterranean region and other “undesirables”. I have no confidence that such laws wouldn’t be targeted to today’s “undesirables”.
    – Registration lists have been used in this country, notably with California and New Jersey’s “assault weapons” registration lists, for confiscation. I have no confidence such lists wouldn’t be used for such purposes in the future.

    Philosophical reasons:
    – For no other Constitutional right does one have to have permission from the authorities to exercise like the licensing and registration schemes you propose.
    – I object to restrictions on Constitutional rights due to the actions of a small number of insane madmen.

  278. Well, Mary, all I can say is that’s a problem of people, not guns. Merely the fact that some of the adults in the school might be armed would at least reduce the likelihood of a shooter picking that particular spot to go on a rampage. And even if it doesn’t, one or two armed staff will be in a much better position to stop it than will the police.

    Compare Pearl, Miss. to Columbine.

  279. Given how much public school teachers have been denigrated in the last year by politicians, I’m not sure arming them is a good idea.

  280. Greg, I’ve been down the slope already. Don’t want another trip. Terrified of changing my meds because it might start me down that slope again. One seizure would do it, and there’s no medical way to predict other than to try it. Better than being staked out in the moors, like they used to do to epileptics in the 1600s.

    minarea — no, I lost a job because my driver’s license was canceled. I’ve had friends raided by SWAT teams because of stupid screwups in firearms databases. I found LEOs in my home because of a different one (but it wasn’t a SWAT raid.)

  281. “Strawman? Is that you? What’s with the kid, the dog, the lion, and the droid?”
    Greg, I think you may be confusing me with someone who is using this tragedy to argue for less restrictions on gun ownership.

    I’m merely trying to stop further tragedy by removing restrictions on where people who already can legally own and carry weapons can bring them. If a man is trusted to carry a gun in his car, it is not likely he’ll flip out and start shooting kids if allowed to carry it into a school.

  282. Kevin: my thoughts on license and registration. I oppose the majority of them

    Then it doesn’t matter a rat’s fucking ass whether armed-citizens-reduces-crime is true or not.

    Even if we agree with you on your most extreme armed-citizens-reduces-crimes “facts”, there is no point in finding any sort of common ground with you because, in the end, you oppose any and all licensing and registration for guns, of any kind.

    Therefore, if people are ever going to get some sort of gun licensing and gun registration in place, they need to acknowledge that they are going to have to do it with complete and total opposition from people like you, and they need to stop trying to appease the unappeasable, they need to stop trying to get agreement from someone who will agree to nothing, and they need to stop trying to find a reasonable compromise from the extreme gun people who are completey and totally unreasonable and uncompromising.

  283. Okay, since nobody calling for arming all the school employees seems to want to tackle the costs of doing so, let’s break out the calculator to help them along, shall we?

    I don’t have specific numbers on hand, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are at least 7.2m teachers and 250k administrators, so including all the support staff, let’s just say 8m just for schools, almost 5 times the number of active duty soldiers in the US. BTW, I’m assuming this is both public and private, but if not, the number would be higher.

    Now, for the costs of outfitting the school staff with military/LEO-level support. Again, no real numbers, but estimates for the US armed forces range from over $150k to $850k (or possibly $1.2m) a year for salaries, training, health care, benefits, and equipment for each soldier. Let’s lowball it and split the difference and say $450k a year including hazard pay. Run that through the magic numbers machine and we come up with…$3.6 trillion per year. Of course, that number could be as low as $1.2 trillion, or it could be as high as $9 trillion. Just for comparisons’ sake, the total expenditures for the entire US government this year was $3.8 trillion, so with the middle-ground estimate we’re essentially doubling that. And we haven’t got to any other service sector yet!

    Any bright ideas on where to come up with that kind of scratch, guys?

  284. 2jrt – We are two fab JRTs. Our Alfa Dogs was born in the Czech Republic, what ever that means. There is also Doll and Millachek living with us. Check out our cute stories.
    2jrt

    teachers and guns do not go together
    Teachers and education does

    I do not think teachers should be babysitters with guns instead of teacher… then if these children see guns all around them what it teaches them? that to have gun and use it is OK? which it leads to violence – especially with so many violent movies on TV and theaters….

    another point of a view – I heard or read somewhere (I am not sure if it is true) that the frontal lobe of our brain matures as a last part of the brain sometimes after age of 20 or so… if that is true, then the kids may not understand that it is wrong to shoot the gun, because they lean by examples of adults and if they see the guns, I think, they could tell to themselves – “the person I admire is using the gun, so it is OK to use it.. I could try what it does… hmmmm what it I point it at my friend… hmmm and what if I pull the trigger…” the child does not understands the dangers until their brain matures… and we as adults are teaching them with haing guns in our houses and the movies we watch that it is OK to have gun and USE IT

    and then there are people with mental disability – here is an interesting article:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html

  285. 2jrt – We are two fab JRTs. Our Alfa Dogs was born in the Czech Republic, what ever that means. There is also Doll and Millachek living with us. Check out our cute stories.
    2jrt

    sorry about misspellings

  286. Greg – I answered your questions in order to further civil discussion. Rather than discuss my concerns on the practical and philosophical objections to many proposed licensing and registration schemes, you hurl a profanity laced rant back at me. You did not address a single one of my points. And yet you call ME “extreme”, “unreasonable” and “uncompromising”. So it unfortunately seems we have reached an impasse with no productive way forward.

  287. Theodore Minick (@2:59): Well, Mary, all I can say is that’s a problem of people, not guns. Merely the fact that some of the adults in the school might be armed would at least reduce the likelihood of a shooter picking that particular spot to go on a rampage.

    I respectfully disagree, on both points. The faculty where I teach isn’t unlike the faculties at any of the last six or seven schools I’ve taught at (I’ve been a a teacher a long time); I firmly believe that it is fairly representative of the teacher population in this country. In other words, to make any significant difference, we’d have to start hiring and training teachers in the same way we hire and train law enforcement people; the current population just isn’t expecting guns to be part of their professions. If nothing else, good eyesight and hand-eye coordination has never been a criterion for becoming a teacher. Me, I’d be willing to at least try to learn to use a fire extinguisher if required by my school, but a gun? No. The chance of my doing harm, to myself and others, is just too great.

    As for the presence of armed teachers being a deterrent–I don’t know. Law enforcement seems to believe that widespread knowledge of guns in schools will have the opposite impact; a local suburban school district was planning on keeping locked rifles in the schools, only to withdraw the proposal once it got into the news. (Plainfield, IL, if you want to look it up–the situation was more complicated than I’ve indicated here, but the chief of police specifically said that once it was known that the guns were there, they would become a danger rather than a potential tool.) If I understand what happened at Pearl, Mississippi, correctly, the assistant principal retrieved a gun from his own vehicle and stopped the shooter from driving off (I gather they were pretty sure he was heading to another school, which I believe is what makes this incident relevant? otherwise, the shooter would just have been captured, not prevented from doing more damage). But the principal didn’t have the gun on his person, and we don’t know what would have happened if he had–or if the shooter might not have been stopped on his way to the other school by law enforcement personnel who had been alerted to the situation. I don’t see that as particularly powerful evidence that giving guns to teachers to carry in the classroom is a good policy; even the assistant principal in question (who presumably qualifies as a responsible gun owner, in your reading of the story, and whom I am willing to accept as such) left his gun locked up outside of the school building initially.

    This is just not a useful proposal, in my opinion. If we want teachers to carry guns, we need teachers who were considering a career in some field that required guns prior to choosing to become teachers. Maybe we can raise up a population that can meet those standards–I doubt it, myself–but that’s a solution that is at best a generation of teachers from putting into place, maybe longer. Giving guns to the teachers we have now is not going to prevent tragedies like this one. In fact, it might well cause different kinds of tragedies–and I really think we (the whole country “we,” not just this thread) would be better off talking about something that might help, and sooner.

  288. Genufett – I don’t recall anyone on the thread calling for “arming all the school employees”. I personally suggested allowing school employees with valid CCW licenses to carry on school premises. Total cost to the school: $0.

  289. Kevin: Your evidence regarding CCW is still shaky, your assertion regarding gun laws was both shaky and is not applicable to any modern regulation or legislation, you provided no evidence for the “no reason” confiscation, you forgot that one must register to vote and maintain said registration (and the ability can sometimes be taken away, such as felony commission), and the number of incidents (gun injuries or deaths, accidental or intentional) is not limited to a small number of madmen.

    Maybe Greg could have worded it better, but he’s got a point.

  290. Genufett:

    If anyone thinks the people are going to want to pay higher taxes, or increase teacher salaries to compensate for having armed-guard duty, or even buy guns and ammo for teachers, I’ve got a nice bridge I’d like to sell you.

  291. Kevin: It was suggested or supported as a desirable solution several times. Your suggestion that they merely be “allowed” carries with it a number of attendant issues (health care and training among them) that you’re not addressing.

    Regardless of whether or not one finds CCW a viable solution (still unproven), but allowing CCW in a situation with children, in what is being considering a high-risk zone, with no additional training or services beyond what is standard for CCW, and no additional reviews or regulations covering those circumstances should be completely unacceptable.

  292. Mary, he had the gun in his car because he was legally prohibited from carrying it in. Had he been able to, he might have saved some of his own students, as well as the ones at the other school. But I’m not here to argue might-have-beens. I’m here to argue facts: The laws preventing people from taking their guns into schools were enacted in the mid-nineties. The school shootings started getting bad in the… mid-nineties. This is not a coincidence.

  293. Any of the “amed-citizens-reduce-crime” folks feel like addressing my question above? I’ll ask again: “What makes you so sure you are gonna win the gunfight?”

  294. “What makes you so sure you are gonna win the gunfight?”

    Dave, most of these shooters kill themselves as soon as they encounter resistance. We wouldn’t have to “win” the fight, just showing up for it would be enough.

  295. Theodore Minick (@ 3:54): The laws preventing people from taking their guns into schools were enacted in the mid-nineties. The school shootings started getting bad in the… mid-nineties. This is not a coincidence.

    Maybe it isn’t, but I can’t help but remember that the Winnetka,IL, school shooting was in 1988 . . . and that that’s when we started getting “shooter on campus” drills around here. Or that local public schools starting putting in metal detectors in order to try to keep kids from bringing guns into their schools around that time, too.

    I think I’m going to have to call a halt to my part of the conversation, here, though. I just spend the last ten minutes trying to look up CCW laws (Illinois’s law is currently being re-written and I suspect would not be an acceptable example anyway) to see if I could find anything in there that would make me feel better about my teaching colleagues who happened to have CCWs bringing guns into the classroom–and I couldn’t. Which means I’m probably not going to convince anyone that putting guns in the hands of our current teaching population isn’t going to help prevent school shootings–isn’t a good idea–and I know that no one is going to be able to convince me, because this isn’t a new issue for me. So all I’m doing is contributing to a discussion that I entered by saying, “this isn’t worth talking about” . . . which is kind of self-contradictory on my part.

    Final statement: I honestly don’t believe that arming teachers will help. I also don’t believe that if we do try this method, we’ll do it in any safe way–because I don’t believe that there is a safe way to arm the current teaching population and so bring guns into the classroom. Several thoughtful people on this thread disagree with me, and I respect that–especially Theodore and htom, I’m looking at you in particular. Thank you for your responses. If we do wind up going down this road, then I sincerely and profoundly hope that I’m the one who is wrong. Even if I have to leave teaching, which would be a hardship and a grief for me personally, it would be worth it.

  296. Genufett – I don’t see how the CCW evidence is shaky. CCW holders have very low rates of criminality. During the 20+ years of increasing numbers of CCW, and contrary to the assertion of those opposed, the crime rate has dropped. Mass shootings have been stopped by armed civilians. Those facts are undeniable.

    It is an undeniable fact that the origins of gun control in the US is explicitly racist in origin. Would modern gun control laws be fairly applied? Maybe, but that is an assertion you make in defiance of history. Related to this is the uproar recently over Voter ID. Many objected to the, seemingly on its face unobjectionable, requirement to provide ID to vote. Why? Because many remember the explicitly racist origins of Voter ID laws in the past and have no confidence in it being fairly applied now.

    Here is a link to news about California’s confiscation of “assault weapons”. It is an NRA site, so I’m sure you’ll take it with a grain of salt. :^)
    http://www.nrawinningteam.com/confiscation/calockyer.html

    For info from an even more extreme pro gun organization:
    http://gunowners.org/nws9911.htm

    Accidental firearms deaths have been declining for many years now. Criminal misuse of firearms has declined in the last 20 years. The CDC has found no evidence any licensing and registration laws have had any impact on the crime rate as per the link cited in a previous post. Criminals are unaffected by licensing and registration schemes. In fact a Supreme Court opinion exempts criminals from having to register! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haynes_v._United_States

    So what’s the point of license and registration schemes if they don’t work, cost money and criminals are exempted?

  297. Dave Edgar – Some civilians will lose in an encounter with a mass shooter. Some will win. There are no guarantees. But I advocate allowing the law abiding to maximize their ability to survive such an encounter, if they choose to intervene.

  298. During the 20+ years of increasing numbers of CCW, and contrary to the assertion of those opposed, the crime rate has dropped. Mass shootings have been stopped by armed civilians. Those facts are undeniable.

    But you have not yet been able to tie those two together directly. Thus, shaky.

    It is an undeniable fact that the origins of gun control in the US is explicitly racist in origin.

    Yes, but not necessarily in states where there is tighter gun control now. In fact, there’s quite a bit of negative correlation there.

    It is an undeniable fact that the origins of gun control in the US is explicitly racist in origin. Would modern gun control laws be fairly applied? Maybe, but that is an assertion you make in defiance of history. Related to this is the uproar recently over Voter ID. Many objected to the, seemingly on its face unobjectionable, requirement to provide ID to vote. Why? Because many remember the explicitly racist origins of Voter ID laws in the past and have no confidence in it being fairly applied now.

    The major differences between voter ID and gun control is that the positive correlation between states that had historically used voter ID for racist or other suppression purposes was very high (almost 1:1), and that in many if not most cases personnel responsible for legislating voter ID specifically stated that was for suppression. There’s a strong case for the opposite when it comes to gun control in both cases.

    Here is a link to news about California’s confiscation of “assault weapons”. It is an NRA site, so I’m sure you’ll take it with a grain of salt. :^)
    http://www.nrawinningteam.com/confiscation/calockyer.html

    For info from an even more extreme pro gun organization:
    http://gunowners.org/nws9911.htm

    I do take it with a grain of salt, because apparently it never happened, or at least not how they’re presenting it.

    Accidental firearms deaths have been declining for many years now. Criminal misuse of firearms has declined in the last 20 years. The CDC has found no evidence any licensing and registration laws have had any impact on the crime rate as per the link cited in a previous post.

    Could you point me to that link? And of course, I should point out that if you want to cite the CDC there, then it’s fair to point out that CDC has found no evidence that CCW has had any impact on the crime rate, either.

    Criminals are unaffected by licensing and registration schemes. In fact a Supreme Court opinion exempts criminals from having to register!

    Which is, of course, a Fifth Amendment case, not Second. It doesn’t say criminals are exempt from registration, either. If you’d bothered to read the article thoroughly, you would have seen that this is no longer the case due to the National Firearm Act being amended and being upheld in another case.

    So what’s the point of license and registration schemes if they don’t work, cost money and criminals are exempted?

    Well, you haven’t proven that they don’t work, everything costs money, and criminals aren’t exempt. So…

  299. Theodore and Kevin: They’ve also maximized the chance that something could go wrong and innocents that may have otherwise not been harmed be injured or killed.

  300. Genufett, it is clearly your religious belief that guns are evil, and no one should ever have them. I make it a policy to never argue religion, especially when I am arguing politics, so I will have to respectfully bow out of conversing with you. Have a beautiful day.

  301. “Any bright ideas on where to come up with that kind of scratch, guys?”

    Yes. Ban Motor Vehicles of any type and their use in the Unites States.

    You will save the money spent on the 1.5 million people injured in motor vehicle accidents every year. Not only that, you’ll be saving 30000 plus lives every year as well, and who doesn’t want to do that? Plus there’s no reason to maintain all those 6 and 8 lane highways, so the money spent building and maintaining those every year is saved as well.

    Think of the other fringe benefits: Emissions are substantially lowered, so your slowing global warming, You don’t have to worry about any foreign adventures to protect the primary source of your fuel…heck the world was doing fine prior to the introduction of the automobile in 1888…nations and empires rose and fell, commerce was reaching every corner of the world…

    So ban them. More people are killed and injured by a motor vehicle than firearms on a yearly basis anyways, so why not address the greater danger to a persons life first?

    Besides, banning motor vehicles will be way easier than banning firearms, there’s no constitutional amendment to worry about overturning.

    Problem solved.

  302. Theodore & Kevin – I don’t entirely disagree with you – if you DO really need a gun, nothing else will do. I still say most people advocating this attitude are living a “white-hat” fantasy. Studies of police gunfights show the vast majority occur at very short range, and almost all (in spite of TV) shots miss. Trained police officers, mind you. Statistically, every shot you fire will miss. Those bullets go somewhere; they do not evaporate because they didn’t hit the intended target. Ricochets, people moving, poor lighting, adrenaline… Ask a combat vet or a cop about how likely you are to do any good under those conditions. And let’s remember, the “Dark Knight” shooter was wearing full body armor. How about we spend some time and mental (and political) energy figuring out how to make the scenario unnecessary?

  303. Genufett: Please do enlighten me, then, rather than snarking up the place. I’d simply love to hear a real argument addressing core concepts of liberty and freedom as opposed to your attempt to ignore the issue altogether.

  304. Dave Edgar (@5:03): Ooh–I like that idea! Not sure how it would work in practice, but if we accept the gun/automobile analogy, requiring gun insurance of some sort seems like a logical step and might even be more helpful in reducing irresponsible gun ownership than registration proposals . . .

    It wouldn’t be a direct fix against school shooters, of course, but as a contributing assist, I think it has potential. Speaking personally.