December 17, 2012
Heritage on Gun Control
From their website:
The wake of a violent tragedy is an appropriate time for reflection, investigation, prayer, and the promotion of healing. It is a particularly inappropriate time for political opportunism. ...
... After last weekend’s tragedy in Arizona, Congress should put the brakes on any desire to ram through gun-control legislation that will neither solve the perceived problems in federal law nor prevent any future assaults on public officials. Observation teaches us that in the wake of crisis, politicians’ instinctive reaction is to check the legislative box and claim that they have solved a problem by passing legislation – any legislation. More often than not, however, such knee-jerk legislation fails to deter future bad actors and creates more problems than solutions.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) have also proposed banning high ammunition clips in the wake of Saturday’s shootings. The most likely idea on the table is to reinstate two provisions of the assault weapons ban law that expired in 2004. According to the National Journal, Lautenberg and McCarthy “plan to introduce legislation to limit high-capacity clips that allow shooters to fire a large number of rounds without reloading.” McCarthy introduced a bill in 2007, H.R. 1022, that reinstated two provisions of the Clinton Gun Ban (Sections 7 and Section 9). These provisions banned the transfer of large capacity ammunition feeding device and the importation of large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Regardless of what one thinks about this policy, it remains clear that such provisions would not have prevented the massacre at issue because the alleged weapon used was a Glock and the provisions in existence between 1994 and 2004 would not have banned the magazine used by the killer.
That quote is from January 13, 2011. It would be interesting to see if there has been any re-evaluation; my guess is for Heritage it's always a time for "reflection" on this issue. Today's front page actually features DeMint, Sandy, Fiscal Cliff, N. Korea, and Freedom.
Update, 10:40am Pacific, 12/19/2012: On today's Heritage website, the main topics are "Bork, DeMint, Fiscal Cliff, N. Korea and Religious Freedom". The most recent item found using the search facility is from 9/11/2012.
Update, 12/21/2012: I missed this posted on 12/17:
Many Americans will find it difficult to return to their daily routines today. The massacre at a Connecticut elementary school Friday, in which 26 people were murdered in an act of senseless violence, including 20 small children, has left the country shocked. The Heritage Foundation expresses its condolences to the families and friends of the victims and grieves along with them.
Posted by Menzie Chinn at December 17, 2012 09:54 PMdigg this | reddit
The Connecticut shooting of school children was a massive failure of government.
The shooter, that no one denies was mentally troubled, was denied the right to purchase a weapon. Connecticut has a gun law against assault rifles, but the law failed to keep a gun out of the shooter's hands. It is clear that the shooter would have found some way to do his destruction no matter what. He ignored and violated the law.
What we know about mass shootings is that they take place in gun free-zones where the shooter can act without threat. We also know that in this incident the teachers and the administration did not know how to deal with the situation. Some of those killed rushed directly into the fire of the shooter in an attempt to save lives, but was this the best action?
So what do we know about stopping or at least limiting the carnage? First, we know that gun-free zones attract such killers, especially when they are advertised. How many of you would put a sign up in your front yard announcing that your home was a gun-free zone? Yet, this is exactly what we do with our schools.
We know that these shooters often kill themselves when they are finally confronted with someone carrying a weapon. Police allowed the Columbine shooting to continue for 45 min. while they waited outside. The two shooters killed themselves when finally confronted with armed resistance.
We also know that someone intent on such murder will find a way. The worst school massacre was in Bath Township, Michigan where 38 children were blown up with a bomb. Recently in China 20 children and 8 adults were killed with a knife. so the implement of the carnage is less important than the killer's intent.
There is no way to stop such horrors 100% but the best solution is actually relatively simple.
1. All teachers should be required to take a gun safety course so that they know what they might have to deal with. They should learn the type of weapons and the best method of defense.
2. Teachers should be given the right of concealed carry if they so choose but this should be totally voluntary.
3. Principles and Head Masters should be required to keep an automatic weapon in a locked safe and they should be required to take a course or appoint someone assigned to the school to take the course in how to use the weapon for self-defense.
4. And perhaps the most importantly, it should be broadly advertised that schools are NOT gun-free zones and that students will be protected at all cost. Any shooter will face armed teachers and armed administrators.
If you are serious about stopping, or at least minimizing these events, you must support the implementation of policies that will actually address the problem, not simply pass laws to further some Progressive political agenda.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 18, 2012 05:31 AM
I expect a number of comments given the circumstances. Here's my thoughts:
We've made gun rights "fundamental" in a way that stretches beyond the Constitution. We've taken the word, which used to refer to the enumerated points and added a sacredness to it so "fundamental" now means absolutely fundamental instead of Constitutionally fundamental. The difference is huge.
As religion has become more prominent - partly as a reaction to Roe v Wade and the politicizing of the anti-abortion movement - we have become more a nation of believers. Our beliefs, which come from God, make America the greatest nation on earth. That is our "exceptionalism". We've attached to guns a belief, rooted in religion, that our freedom depends on gun, that guns defend the Constitution, that the freedom to on guns is what makes America special and thus the favorite of God. The history behind the argument is mostly nonsense but that doesn't matter.
Of course the Constitution was for 2 centuries seen as a contract among people and states listing the basic outline of how it should exist going forward. But now it is more and more a sacred document handed down to us by God through the Founders. Scalia openly says the Constitution is not living but dead. It is not inaccurate so say his view treats the Constitution as a thing from the past whose hold is like that of a revelation which never changes. Religion again. As was said in the Inquisition, let no new thing arise.
The problem with fundamental rights when you add God to them is they become matters of belief not common sense. The idea is now that any restriction on guns and gun ownership infringes not only on some old-fashioned Constitutional right but on "the" right of freedom. You can't restrict guns themselves, meaning their technical capabilities, because that limits what the free person can do and that means freedom in America is diminished and that means we are going against God. Without that last point, the argument is merely that restrictions burden people. With that last point, the issue becomes holy driven belief.
Thus, the NRA and some conservative legal groups have successfully pushed bills to make it easier for the mentally ill to get their gun rights. (In 2007, the NRA managed to get the federal government to allow vets declared mentally ill to be able to own guns again.) Thus, they have fought for open carry laws. And the right to carry weapons in gun free areas like schools and hospitals. (As we saw with Michigan, which passed a law doing that the day of Newtown.)
Why? Because if you have a belief and have transformed a practical Constitutional right into a belief driven absolute right, then the answer must always be "more". More guns must be answer because fewer guns is against God's will. Dress that up and say "it infringes on a fundamental right" but what is meant is that God wants us to have guns because guns are our freedom. This goes hand in hand with the movement to teach and even enforce that America is a Christian nation.
So gun policy? It will be more of the same. It has to be because belief does not yield to facts.
The US is now "massacre nation". We will continue to be "massacre nation" and the believers will insist the answer is more because to say otherwise would betray their beliefs. Three times before the cock crows.
Posted by: jonathan at December 18, 2012 06:35 AM
Um, Ricardo, where did you get your information? A lot of that is contradicted in the reports I've seen.
- "No one denies the shooter was mentally troubled." From what I've seen, there was no police or mental health record that prevented him from buying guns himself. His mom seems to have protected him from such a record. Clearly he had something wrong upstairs, but I've yet to see anything that said he was on some do-not-sell list due to mental issues.
- "Was denied the right to purchase a weapon." Who says he tried? That hasn't been reported anywhere I've seen. The guns he used belonged to his mom anyway, who had no legal issues buying them.
- The gun was illegal in CT. This article from the Hartford Courant says it was legal:http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/newtown-sandy-hook-school-shooting/hc-newtown-assault-weapons-20121217,0,7818253.story
So far it looks like the only law he ignored was taking a firearm in to a school zone and killing people with it.
Posted by: KJMClark at December 18, 2012 08:23 AM
Sorry jonathan but your post in nonsense. I have heard no person, other than you, bring God or religion into the right to own a gun. The right to own a gun is the right to self-defense; end of subject.
Your mystical Progressive interpretation of the Constitution turns it on its head. The whole issue of gun ownership was always intended to be self-defense. Even the NRA takes that position by agreeing that some weapons do not fall under the 2nd amendment protection.
The religious fervor is actually with the Progressives who have an illogical belief that laws and signs will prevent crime. Laws punish crimes they do not prevent crimes. But laws in the Progressive's hands allows the Progressive to act as God by imposing restrictions choosing for another life or death.
Your "massacre nation" is not backed up by any data. For example there was no change in the frequency of crimes with assault weapons either before they were banned, within the period when they were banned, nor when the ban ended. This argument is a red herring for Progressives to impose their dangerous belief system on society.
The burden should be on the Progressive to demonstrate that his impositions on the liberty and freedom of his fellow man is justified. But usually Progressive operate from a position of hubris assuming that they know what is best and so need not demonstrate that their imposition will succeed as they claim. Taking away a person's right to protect him or herself must not be done in a cloud of illogical emotionalism.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 18, 2012 08:28 AM
These public mass shootings always cause anxiety. A feeling of complete and utter helplessness sweeps over me. Public policy could reduce the frequency and impact but will never eliminate this insanity. See Canada and Norway for other horrible tragedies.
Restricting, perhaps banning high-capacity clips would amount to a de facto tax on firing bullets. A black market probably already exists for high-capacity clips and will continue to thrive in the context of a ban.
On the one hand, America has a collective gun psychosis. On the other hand, perceived insecurity pushes many ordinary citizens to acquire guns for self-defence.
Frankly, guns are highly over-rated for personal defence; the average American is not sufficiently 'trained' to properly deploy guns for self defence. Too many Americans are lazy, push-button, drop-a-pill type warriors. Those who live passive life styles and become obese have essentially reduced their personal security from the get-go.
Developing and promoting substitutes for firearms based home defence strategies would go a long ways to reducing popular demand for fire-arms. Though I suppose training civilians to essentially kill--without firearms--in the hope that homicides are minimized--will not be popular with the broader public.
Posted by: westslope at December 18, 2012 08:40 AM
Michigan didn't pass a law the day of the shooting. A bill made it out of the legislature that day, but the Governor is trying to decide whether to make it law.
With the recent Supreme Court rulings, the options to change anything are limited. They should try another assault weapons ban, but it may well get struck down by the SCOTUS. The best option is to amend the Constitution. Good luck with that.
But I'd propose that we add a new amendment to replace the 2nd amendment, that reads:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, Congress shall make no laws regulating or nationalizing state militias."
Then leave it up to the states to set up their militias with whatever laws they want WRT weapons. Anyone who's a member of a state militia has whatever rights regarding weapons that the state sees fit. Anyone who's not in a state militia has no constitutional right to keep or bear arms. Congress can make any laws it wants about firearms that aren't a part of the state militias, including an outright ban on all firearms not owned by someone in a state militia.
That way we also get back to the states having the ability to check federal power that the founders wrote into the constitution all over the place. The states can decide how well-regulated their militia are. Some states will just automatically make every mentally competent adult a member, other states will limit it to full-time active-duty members.
Posted by: KJMClark at December 18, 2012 08:47 AM
Maybe some sort of reasonable restriction on the NUMBER of guns one can own?
"but she had at least six firearms registered to her, including the semiautomatic assault rifle used in the massacre"
Why does anyone need (at least) six guns?
Posted by: Nick at December 18, 2012 09:00 AM
"Recently in China 20 children and 8 adults were killed with a knife."
Citation please! I wonder if you are thinking of the recent knife incident in Guangshan except that nobody was killed by that madman since he lacked access to deadly weapons.
Or were you making just a general statement that in some undefined recent period in China there were that many knifing casualties?
Posted by: mobk at December 18, 2012 09:09 AM
Jonathan hits it out of the park. There is an evil loose in the land and it is the acceptance of regular gun massacres as "Normal".
Posted by: dilbert dogbert at December 18, 2012 09:23 AM
I forgot an example of a "fundamental right" that hasn't been touched by religion. One is the 4th Amendment right limiting search and seizure. Unlike the right to bear arms, there is no doubt in the wording; it says explicitly "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,". And yet we allow multiple ways in which this right is limited. Students have no right to personal space. The police may stop any car. The police may now demand identification. And so on. All because we consider the burdens as appropriate.
Another example of a right that hasn't been tinged with religion is the main part of the Fifth Amendment: no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." It would take pages to list the ways this has been limited. States have taken private property for private ownership that then is considered as benefitting the public. There are multiple ways in which silence is used against defendants and even more where defendants "testify" against themselves through compelled physical evidence, forced re-enactments, etc.
But the 2nd Amendment has been converted to a sacrament and thus anything which limits the "right to keep and bear arms" is considered a material infringement. Other fundamental rights are so limited in the name of the public interest in keeping the peace and convicting the guilty. But not this one.
Thus the believers will assume the only way forward is more guns in more hands. So get used to more massacres.
Posted by: jonathan at December 18, 2012 09:30 AM
Well, obviously there has to be a line somewhere because we don't allow people to run around with RPG launchers. Personally my right to bear arms would be we'd all own suitcase nukes. That would keep the neighbor off my lawn. Maybe.
Of course as soon as you say you'd like to ban "assault rifles" you get a bunch of trumped-up outrage from gun fetishists that you don't know what you're talking about - assault rifles lolz etc. So you can't go there.
I say we just accept this as the price we pay for our various absolutist pledges to various special interest groups until an NRA lobbyist's kid is gunned down then we may come to a consensus.
Posted by: randomworker at December 18, 2012 09:43 AM
Ricardo said "Recently in China 20 children and 8 adults were killed with a knife,"
but I'm guessing he meant to say "A Chinese man attacked 22 children and 1 adult with knife...no deaths have been reported."
Althoug that, by it self, doesnt discredit the entire argument... It does call into quesiton the type of "fact-ish" material thats being drawn on to make a point. Thats not to say the rest of the argumen isnt rediculous. Teachers and principles should now be... what.. cops? SWAT?
School shootings are crises situations, far more extreme than anything cops have to deal with on a regular basis. Teachers should be expected to handle this?
Posted by: Blev at December 18, 2012 10:35 AM
Yet more evidence that the Founding Fathers had feet of clay. They gave us slavery, the Electoral College and the 2nd Amendment.
And check this out:
I think I hear black helicopters circling overhead as I type this.
Posted by: 2slugbaits at December 18, 2012 11:35 AM
William Catton's "redundancy anxiety" at work:
Too many people; too few resources per capita and gainful employment opportunities for males; a winner-take-all system of income and wealth distribution; and a gov't that exists to enable and reinforce the system of maldistribution and hierarchical power relations.
Posted by: Bruce Carman at December 18, 2012 11:36 AM
I think that when someone argues we need to arm school administrators and allow teachers to carry weapons in case some evil and/or crazy person decides to shoot children that person is unhinged and reflects exactly the kind of thinking I wrote about, that guns are some sort of special right which cannot be limited by law.
Think about the argument: we should arm schools because we refuse to prohibit rapid fire weapons, large amounts of ammunition, etc.
America's new slogan: Massacre Nation.
This is, I'm afraid, how this era will be remembered in the future: as the era when people allowed repeated mass killing of innocents and believed the solution to that was more weapons.
Posted by: Jonathan at December 18, 2012 12:32 PM
Your "massacre nation" is not backed up by any data. For example there was no change in the frequency of crimes with assault weapons either before they were banned, within the period when they were banned, nor when the ban ended.
Here is the data.
yes, America is a violent nation. Compared to other developed countries, it is off the charts.
Posted by: SS at December 18, 2012 12:36 PM
If you do a little research you can answer your own questions.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, reports have surfaced that shooter Adam Lanza suffered from some sort of mental disability or disorder, the exact nature of which is thus far a matter of dispute. Neighbors have described Lanza as odd, remote, and reclusive ; schoolmates recall him as a brainiac, with a flat affect; and a longtime family friend reveals that Adam lacked the ability to feel pain. His brother, Ryan Lanza, told ABC news that Adam "is autistic, or has Asperger syndrome and a 'personality disorder.'" Police authorities, meanwhile, have alluded to the shooter's "checkered past," calling him a "troubled youth."
The primary weapon used in the attack was a "Bushmaster AR-15 assault-type weapon," said Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance. The rifle is a Bushmaster version of a widely made AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. military. The original M16 patent ran out years ago, and now the AR-15 is manufactured by several gunmakers. Unlike the military version, the AR-15 is a semiautomatic, firing one bullet per squeeze of the trigger. But like the M16, ammunition is loaded through a magazine. In the school shooting, police say Lanza's rifle used numerous 30-round magazines."
Posted by: Ricardo at December 18, 2012 02:16 PM
The records show that gun owners who have concealed carry permits commit less crimes than policemen who are allowed to carry a gun. Those with concealed carry permits are more safety conscious than the police.
More crimes are prevented by citizens with concealed carry than by the police. The citizen with a concealed carry permit is often on site to prevent the crime. The police are involved after the crime has been committed. Citizens with concealed weapons permits prevent crimes almost every day, but it goes against the media agenda so you can only find the information if you dig. The media is opposed to the 2nd amendment.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 18, 2012 02:23 PM
The article I read was later corrected from murdered to injured, but the following will make my point.
March 2010: Nanping school massacre
On March 23, 2010, Zheng Minsheng 41, murdered eight children with a knife in an elementary school in Nanping, Fujian province; The attack was widely reported in Chinese media sparking fears of copycat crimes. Following a quick trial, Zheng Minsheng was executed about one month later on April 28.
April 2010: Just a few hours after the execution of Zheng Minsheng in neighboring Fujian Province, in Leizhou, Guangdong another knife-wielding man named Chen Kangbing, 33 at Hongfu Primary School wounded 16 students and a teacher. Chen Kangbing had been a teacher at a different primary school in Leizhou; he was sentenced to death by a court in Zhanjiang in June.
On April 29: In Taixing, Jiangsu, 47-year-old Xu Yuyuan went to Zhongxin Kindergarten and stabbed 28 students, two teachers and one security guard; most of the Taixing students were 4 years old.
On April 30: Wang Yonglai used a hammer to cause head injury to preschool children in Weifang, Shandong, then used gasoline to commit suicide by self-immolation.
On May 2010: An attacker named Wu Huanming, 48, killed seven children and two adults and injured 11 other persons with a cleaver at a kindergarten in Hanzhong, Shaanxi on May 12, 2010; early reports were removed from the internet in China, for fear that mass coverage of such violence can provoke copycat attacks. The attacker later committed suicide at his house; he was the landlord of the school, Shengshui Temple private kindergarten, and had been involved in an ongoing dispute with the school administrator about when the school would move out of the building.
On May 18, 2010: at Hainan Institute of Science and Technology, a vocational college in Haikou, Hainan, more than 10 men charged into a dormitory wielding knives around 2:30 am; after attacking the security guard and disabling security cameras, 9 students were injured, 1 seriously. The local men attacked the dorm in an act of revenge and retaliation against college students following conflict the previous day at an off-campus food stall in which 4 students were injured, for a total of 13.
On 4 August 2010: 26-year-old Fang Jiantang slashed more than 20 children and staff with a 60 cm knife, killing 3 children and 1 teacher, at a kindergarten in Zibo, Shandong province. Of the injured, 3 other children and 4 teachers were taken to the hospital. After being caught Fang confessed to the crime; his motive is not yet known.
August 2011: Eight children, all aged four or five, were hurt in Minhang District, Shanghai when an employee at a child-care centre for migrant workers slashed them with a box-cutter.
In September 2011: a young girl and three adults taking their children to nursery school were killed in Gongyi, Henan by 30-year-old Wang Hongbin with an axe. Another child and an adult were seriously wounded but survived. The suspect is a local farmer who is suspected of being mentally ill.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 18, 2012 02:37 PM
I agree with you that the government violates the 4th amendment as well.
Your argument against school administrators being educated in safety for childres demonstrates brainwashing. I doubt you have any objection to teachers being required to take anger management classes if they demonstrate anger, or sensitivity training if there is a problem with discrimination, or school safety related to students crossing a street, or swimming, or going on a field trip, and hundreds of other safety courses. But when it comes to the most dangerous situation of a nut with a gun suddenly you become completely illogical about training in safety techniques. This is not reasonable, it is emotional fantasy believing that laws are going to prevent the crazies from killing. The insane have been killing since man took his first step (consider the story of Cain and Able).
You want to blame anything that will keep you from confronting the evil within you. Only when the evil is confronted is it defeated.
If administrators simply wait for the police to arrive they allow the murders to continue for a long time.
I want my childen protected right now, before the crazy has time to kill them and 20 or 30 of their friends.
Sorry but you are the one who is illogical and dangerous in your thinking. I assume you also approve of advertising gun-free zones so the crazies know where to commit their horrors.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 18, 2012 02:52 PM
In fact, there is very little difference in assault deaths between white Americans and other OECD countries.
Here's US versus other OECD countries:
Here is US assault deaths by race:
Although the US has had its share of mass killings, other countries are not immune. Norway and Britain come to mind.
As it is, the US's comparatively high level of assault deaths are almost entirely attributable to rates in the black community. Which is why Bloomberg's stop-and-search policies have proved so successful--they primarily target young black and Latino men.
And I might add that the large drop in US assault deaths corresponds to the period of welfare reform.
Now what are your policy prescriptions?
Posted by: Steven Kopits at December 18, 2012 03:36 PM
Bravo Ricardo--excellent points.
Of course Heritage should not be re-thinking gun control because guns are not the problem.
People think that school shootings are an American phenomenon problem produced by an alleged gun culture but they unfortunately happen abroad as well. For example, a teenage gunmen in 2009 killed 16 people at his former school in Winnenden (near Stuggart) before being killed by police. In 2006 a gunmen injured 11 people in a school in Emsdetten before committing suicide. In 2002, an expelled student murdered 16 people and then committed suicide. These crimes happened in Germany, a country that has much more severe gun control than in the U.S. It's not really about access to guns. "Assault weapons" are already banned in Germany.
People also don't realize that most mass murder gun crimes occur in areas in which the likelihood of guns being present is low. The reason is that most of these shooters are quite rational and don't want to encounter armed resistance. The Cinemark theater in Aurora, CO, where James Holmes committed his atrocities, has an explicit no-guns-allowed policy, unlike competing theaters in the town. The same is true of Va Tech, where Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people. Virginia is a shall-issue carry state but you are not allowed to carry a legally licensed gun on campus.
Contrast these school shootings, in which the killer generally dies by suicide or in police gunfire with the school shooting at Pearl High School in 1997 in Mississippi. The reason that then 16-year shooter Luke Woodham is in jail rather than deceased is that assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved his .45 auto from his truck and subdued the killer. If had had more immediate access to his pistol, perhaps Myrick could have saved the 2 students Woodham shot and the 7 students he injured.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 18, 2012 06:42 PM
One other addendum to Ricardo's points. It's not commonly known that Eric Harris, who masterminded the Columbine attack, originally intended achieve a dramatically higher death toll, not by using guns but rather by using home made bombs. After a year and a half of meticulous planning, Harris had designed and built a number of large bombs, pipe bombs, etc. and had made Napalm, all from instructions on the internet. In the first phase of the plot, he planted a large timed-bomb in a park near the school. The reason for that was to distract the police (the guys with the guns who could stop them) so that they had more time to carry out the second phase of the attack, which was to blow up the school. Apparently the two killers wanted to exceed Tim McVey's record for mass murder. The guns were a minor part of the plot and were obtained illegally since Harris and Klebold (the other killer) were under age.
The reason most people think that Columbine was a gun crime is that most of the bombs failed to work, thankfully. But to Ricardo's point, how do stop people from doing these things? Do you censor the internet? Prohibit people from buying items that could be used as bombs, such as propane tanks? Gun control is the easy, silly answer but it's a much more complex problem really.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 18, 2012 07:38 PM
We shouldn't enact strict gun control because citizens need guns to defend against violence from citizens armed with guns? Well, I'm convinced. No holes in that argument.
Posted by: Rodrigo at December 19, 2012 03:56 AM
Um, Ricardo, did you actually read your sources before you put them up? The LA Times piece says he went in to buy a gun, found out there was a 14-day waiting period, and walked out. He wasn't denied, he decided against it.
And do you know what the term "selective fire" means? The weapon he used was a civilian version, and wasn't capable of automatic fire. Sorry, but the Courant article still says it was a legal version for Connecticut.
So again, you said he was denied and he wasn't. You said he broke the law in having those guns, and so far there's no evidence that he had a mental illness record that would have prevented him from buying them. And so far the best sources say the weapon he used was a legal version for Connecticut.
OTOH, going along with Steve's points, this old Telegraph article says that our overall violent crime rate is fairly low compared to a lot of European countries: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5712573/UK-is-violent-crime-capital-of-Europe.html. That raises the question of whether we have less violent crime overall because of the higher gun ownership rate.
Posted by: kjmclark at December 19, 2012 04:07 AM
Here's what seems a sensible proposal: restrict the availability of destructive ammunition.
It won't reduce the amount of gun violence, but could materially reduce the harm inflicted.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at December 19, 2012 05:12 AM
Check out the latest. The killer's mother was in the process of having him declared mentally incompetent so that she could have him institutionalized. His neighbors knew of his problem and his mother's actions.
Normally autistic children do not do what he did. He was a unique case. But he still had problems.
The more you argue against is mental state, the weapons he used, the more you demonstrate that no law would have stopped him, and the more you support the fact that an armed teacher with a wellplaced shot would have. Thank you for supporting my position of teachers and administrators protecting their students.
By the way, teachers being armed to protect their students is a way of life in Israel. There has been no problem with a teacher committing violence in Israel for being armed, but sadly they have not totally prevented the murder of children by anti-Semites. There is simply no reason we should not be as safe as Israel. If it were known that teachers might be carrying defensive weapons these shooting would be rare indeed.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 19, 2012 08:07 AM
Your link on restricting ammunition reminded me of the restrictions place on teflon coated bullets years ago because they penetrated protective vests. It was found that criminals in Miami were having them specially produced and imported. Restrictions do not keep the items out of the hands of criminals. Seriously, the only solution is self-protection. Those intent on doing harm will find a way. We must allow people to make their own decisions of self-defense.
No one has a right to thrust himself into the
affairs of others in order to further their interest, and no one ought, when he has his
own interests in view, to pretend that he is acting selflessly only in the interest of
others. - Ludwig von Mises describing liberal thought. Progressives are not liberal.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 19, 2012 08:15 AM
Ricardo, Rick and Steve-
I tip my hat to you. Keep up the good work "pushing back the frontiers of ignorance", as Walter Williams would say.
Posted by: Rich Berger at December 19, 2012 08:26 AM
your collection of stories illustrate
1) There are ill or evil people in China just like in the US (not a big surprise)
2) Lacking access to truly deadly weapons in China the death tolls from these school attacks there are much lower. Several of the articles you cited didn't mention any deaths and the highest death toll was eight.
So you seem to have demonstrated that restricting access to firearms may result in reduced death tolls when crazy people attack.
And you are arguing against gun control?
Posted by: mobk at December 19, 2012 09:08 AM
"pushing back the frontiers of ignorance"
I guess taking a different perspective from the three names mentioned would make me part of that "frontiers of ignorance" problem.
Some of these, hands down, are the most ridiculous arguments I've read on the issue of gun control. This is probably why law school students/graduates/professors don't try to pontificate about things they don't grasp well-- economics.
I wonder how different certain comments to this blog would be if we weren't allowed to pontificate behind a dead economist's name. Moreover, if people were held accountable for their opinions on this blog, I think individuals would put a lot more thought into what they write before they post.
Posted by: Kenneth at December 19, 2012 09:25 AM
Ricard - geez you're dense. All I've done is point out your second paragraph of your first post didn't match what happened. I don't disagree with your teacher bit - I've thought of that and don't have an opinion on it. I think if the police were in favor of that, and did the training, I'd be fine with it.
Unless his mother had finished the process of getting him declared, your second paragraph of your first post is *still* wrong. I've checked out the latest, and haven't found anything that agrees with you. All I've said is that you were wrong to say he was breaking laws by having the guns in the first place. That's part of the problem here - he and his mom weren't breaking any laws until he shot his mom. Hardly a failure of government. Not at all clear that he would have found a way no matter what.
Posted by: kjmclark at December 19, 2012 10:47 AM
Ezra Klein at WaPo's Wonkblog weighs in:
Though the "more-guns-wouldn't-help-look-at-his-mother" argument doesn't say anything - she was asleep.
As he points out, the biggest problem is that most of the things we would think of to stop this wouldn't have worked, since he & his mom didn't break any laws until he killed his mom.
Posted by: kjmclark at December 19, 2012 11:45 AM
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the regular posters on these comment threads who are consistently wrong about everything are also wrong about guns.
If that didn't work, http://i.imgur.com/i8lr4.png?1, its a little scatter plot I made of OECD countries. x = guns per 100 people, y = gun murders per 100k population. source, this article today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list
Posted by: Nick at December 19, 2012 12:44 PM
I say we go all in. I think people have been focusing on the gun angle because it seems the easiest, most obvious, and least costly solution, especially for those who do not use guns.
On Guns, the below could all be effectively self-funding:
1. Reinstitute the Assault Weapon Ban, including high-capacity magazines and clips, with a no-questions-asked buy-back program.
2. Tax bullets.
3. Enhance gun registration requirements, including:
a. a gun tax that funds enhanced background evaluation,
b. a background check, an exam, and an affidavit from two people vouching for your safety and training.
4. Individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness should not have access to guns, either through personal ownership or by other members of the household.
5. Introduce liability for actions taken with a gun registered in your name, much like if you lend your car to someone and they run a school bus off a bridge, perhaps allow for some negligence standard.
6. Introduce liability for gun stores that improperly sell weapons that are used in crimes. There should be some negligence standard, but the analogy is the bartender who over-serves the drunk driver at the bar.
On School Security, it's a bit more expensive, but I'd be for adding armed security to schools. I prefer police officers in this role over teachers and administrators, though at $5B/year nationwide, that might prove too costly. I do fear that these resources would be diverted from the already limited funds available for education itself.
On Mental Health, that's where it gets really costly, and you'll have to deal with the Scientologists:
1. Enhance access to mental health evaluations, giving greater weight to statements by family members and caregivers to characterize a patient's symptoms.
2. Bring back voluntary mental health hospitalization and provide programs that separate those who have already demonstrated violent tendencies from those who haven't. At present, a legal hold is essentially necessary for reimbursement from insurance (and even then it's no guarantee of payment).
3. Expand the availability and duration of day treatment programs, reducing the out-of-pocket costs for access and streamlining the insurance review process.
4. Introduce a mechanism for mandating medication compliance, again relying heavily on the testimony of family members and caregivers for verification and symptom evaluation.
Posted by: Tudor at December 19, 2012 05:09 PM
Ricardo is right that assault weapons are banned in Connecticut. And KJMClark is right that the weapon the school shooter used, the Bushmaster AR 15, was legal in CT. But Ricardo is also right that we are once again seeing a failure of government and gun control.
If you think about it, the fact that the CT shooter was able to carry out a heinous assault without violating CT gun laws tells us something about the failure of gun control. CT has some of the strictist gun laws in the nation and is one of a handful of states that the Brady project awards 3 stars for its gun control laws, along with NY, NJ, and MA. Only California gets 4 stars. Here's what they say about CT gun laws on their website:
"Connecticut has strong gun laws that help combat the illegal gun market, prevent the sale of most guns without background checks
and reduce risks to children, according to the Brady Campaign." But these laws did not prevent the Sandy Hook massacre.
With such strong gun laws, how can the Bushmaster AR 15 be legal in CT? CT like other strong assault weapon ban states bans assault weapons
by name and otherwise has a "2 feature" test. The Colt AR 15 is banned by name but not the Bushmaster. Thus, we need to look at the
"2 feature" test. CT's definition is identical to the definition used in the 1994 Federal ban, and says that an assault rifle is a semi-automatic rifle that takes a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of a list of characteristics, the first being the pistol grip that all of these rifles seem to have.
Since the Bushmaster AR 15 does not have any other characteristic on the list besides the pistol grip, it's not banned.
The natural reaction of gun control advocates at this point is to argue that the gun laws aren't tough enough. We just need to get tougher and go to California laws. Indeed, if you check, you'll find that the California's assault rifle definition is the same as CT but stricter, in
that it has a "1 feature" test,one of the reasons it's the only state to get 4 stars from the Brady Project. Moreover, CA limits magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds.
Since all these Bushmaster rifles have the pistol grip, they automatically fail the 1-feature test. Thus, Californians can't buy these rifles, right?
Here is a California-legal Bushmaster AR 15.
How can this be legal with the pistol grip? The key is that to be illegal the rifle must have a detachable magazine. Note the "bullet button" feature. That means that the magazine can't be detached with a finger but the button must be pressed with a bullet to attach and detach the magazine. Thus, the magazine is not technically detachable and you can keep the pistol grip.
Note also the 10 round mag to keep it within the limits of the nation's most severe assault weapon law.
You might think we just need to go farther then. But what you may not know is that the pistol grip really isn't necessary for a semi-auto rifle. The pistol grip is designed to help the shooter reduce the recoil on burst or full auto mode, since you can push the rifle forward more easily. But civilian models don't have burst or full auto mode.
Gun control doesn't work.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 19, 2012 05:26 PM
I do not understand how people can say gun control does not work when it has not been tried.
I also need someone to show me a case where an armed citizen prevented a crime. I would think the odds are better at hitting the powerball than producing such a story.
Posted by: EMIchael at December 20, 2012 04:38 AM
I’m from Europe and happy with the status quo on gun control over here. However, I believe there is a debate to be had on this, but on a substantially less partisan and emotionally driven level than shown here. To do so I’ll try to bring the debate back to economics: it seems to me that arguing against gun laws on the basis of averages is somewhat misleading. It's the tail that is catastrophic, not the average responsible citizen. It seems to me that it is also an hidden information problem (I'd like to think that none would knowingly sell a gun to someone planning a massacre). As such, one should be able to analyse gun control as a particular problem of hidden information where the design of the optimal preference revelation mechanism would have to differentiate between agents that choose to own a gun because they are very risk averse or because they are extreme risk lovers (as a suicidal massacre perpetrator would need to be). I have not thought it through very much, but maybe there is a more liberal way than a blanket cover law decree to regulate this. Maybe taxing or selling guns based on various insurance records/premiums would effectively discriminate between the two people. Maybe governments can regulate gun control by providing (monetary?) dis/incentives for risk averse gun-loving types to behave more like their risk-averse non-gun-loving counterparts. Compulsory seat belts, car insurance, consumer protection schemes are all very uncontroversial examples of the above. The main problem with answering these questions is that guns are essentially imposing a binary outcome on people’s lives and at some point someone trying to solve this problem will need to answer the uncomfortable questions of how and how much do we value someone else’s life. The risk-averse gun-loving types may have a relative answer of the type “not as much as mine”, the risk-averse not-gun-loving people may attach an absolute infinite value on it, whilst the risk-taking gun-loving guy may attach none at all. Indeed, an equilibrium to a similar problem with a similar payoff structure has been found over the past 20/30 years, but on a much bigger scale. How many of the gun-loving people would you say would also argue in favour of a safer world through unchecked proliferation and availability of nukes?
Posted by: AtoZ at December 20, 2012 05:04 AM
@Rick Strykes People With Bullets
USA versus OECD on gun ownership and gun deaths.
Posted by: Nick at December 20, 2012 06:03 AM
Actually, it's pretty easy to produce stories of armed citizens preventing crimes. One of the many benefits of NRA membership is that you get a subscription to the American Rifleman. That magazine has been running a long standing column called "The Armed Citizen" in which they collect stories from the press around the country of ordinary citizens protecting themselves, family members, and others from violent crime using guns. They now run that column in an online blog in which they document current cases as well as pull cases from their historical archive. It's available here:
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 20, 2012 08:03 AM
@Rick Strykes People With Bullets Because He Lives His Life Constantly In Fear
Submit a request for accidental firearm injuries.
23,000 in the year 2000. Feel safer?
Posted by: Nick at December 20, 2012 09:10 AM
I see you are trying to use a simple correlation of wikipedia data to argue for the old canard that more guns means more murder. I bet you thought "Bowling for Columbine" was the definitive analysis of the Columbine massacre too.
For a comprehensive analysis of this question, take a look at "Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide: A Review of the International and Some Domestic Evidence" by Kates and Mauser that appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
By looking at a large body of evidence, both domestically and internationally, they show that more guns does not mean more homicide and suicide and that nations that imposed gun control have not been able to reduce homicide or suicide meaningfully.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 20, 2012 10:22 AM
To your point on firearms injuries, here's a question for you. What is more dangerous for children: having a gun in the house or a swimming pool in the back yard?
Here's the answer:
Where is the Brady Swimming Pool Project when we need it?
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 20, 2012 10:31 AM
I've never seen bowling for columbine, sorry.
All I know is:
I want my kid to grow up in a world where owning a shiny piece of metal that can instantaneously end human life with little effort is not normal, or something to be proud of, in the modern world. It's going to be tough to teach my kid that in this country, where people like you are running around in circles claiming that we all need as many guns as possible.
Posted by: @Strykie at December 20, 2012 10:35 AM
I hate to pull this out, Rick, but....
you thought Romney was going to win. And now you have nothing left to do but fight the good Goldwater Republican fight on battlegrounds of internet blogs until the black helicopters swoop in and declare Obama emperor for life in 2017. I'm so sorry.
Posted by: Nick at December 20, 2012 10:47 AM
You all know, of course, that Gandhi had a revolver hidden in his loin cloth, just in case.
I can't believe that people treat seriously the argument that in order to prevent gun violence we need more guns. It's the same as believing when you have a hammer the whole world is a nail.
Here's a philosophical argument that says among other things: "An armed society is the opposite of a civil society." and "Liberty entails precisely the freedom to offend. A gun in every pocket would stifle that." http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/the-freedom-of-an-armed-society/
As for myself, I want to live in communities where I do not feel the need to own a weapon.
Posted by: joey at December 20, 2012 10:51 AM
I see no reason for owning assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Banning them should not be so objectionable.
However, that is a purely "feel good" delusional act that will have no impact on reducing or detering gun crime. It will merely cause a change in the choice of weapon.
Posted by: Macrotimer at December 20, 2012 01:00 PM
#1: I'm for stricter gun control - it'll cut down on gun accidents and make the nation less nervous
#2: Stricter gun control would not prevent mass shootings, you can just as easily and quickly kill 20 kids with a shot gun - one or two shots would do it
#3: Guns are useless for self-defense against this kind of incident. I was in the army, and we always carried loaded weapons. During training we KNEW that we'd be attacked on our march to X, we just didn't know exactly where. And yet, we almost always got "killed" by the ambush. Guns are inherently an offensive tool. It is true that a readily available, loaded gun in the hands of a trained, fore-warned user can, sometimes, reduce the kill rate - but that's a LOT of "if's".
#4: The exception to #3 is in case of total break down of civil society, e.g. after an earthquake - then a shot gun could be effective when protecting your property - but it requires that you stand on guard 24/7
I'm bewildered by American attitudes to guns - Jonathan appear to be correct about gun being an almost religious thing here, both for and against gun-control
Posted by: bewildered at December 20, 2012 01:56 PM
"I want my kid to grow up in a world where owning a shiny piece of metal that can instantaneously end human life with little effort is not normal, or something to be proud of, in the modern world."
I would agree and so in this Holiday season I'd like to suggest something that you can put under the Christmas tree: a junior membership in the NRA. It's only $15 and includes a subscription to Insight magazine. The junior memberships are great ways to teach kids about the proper, legal use of firearms and the importance of gun safety.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 20, 2012 04:02 PM
Rick Stryker What is more dangerous for children: having a gun in the house or a swimming pool in the back yard?
And that higher risk will be reflected in your homeowner's insurance. If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, then you are also liable for any drownings...accidental or not. It doesn't matter if kids sneak into your yard without your knowledge. You are simply liable...period. Would you accept the principle of unlimited liability of gunowners? So if you're gun is stolen and later used in a crime, then the gunowner is liable both criminally and civilly. If you want to drive a car, then you must buy insurance. Why not require gunowners to buy insurance? If you want to buy ammo, then you pay an ammo tax.
Posted by: 2slugbaits at December 21, 2012 07:34 AM
Changing insurance requirements would have no effect on violent crime.
The problem is not finding someone to pay for the damage. And shifting all such costs to an insurance company will not change the behavior of crazy violent people.
Posted by: Macrotimer at December 21, 2012 08:31 AM
Macrotimer You missed the point. Making people responsible for their guns is part of the answer. One way to do that is to increase the cost of owning a gun. According to the CDC there were 11,493 US deaths due to firearms last year. I do not care whether those deaths were accidental or not. A death is a death. If we guesstimate the value of a human life at (say) $5M, then the annual cost in lives is something like $57.5B. With ~300M guns, that works out to an insurance premium of not quite $200/yr. So if you want to own a gun, be my guest; but pay up first. The point is that if you impose a significant economic cost on the ownership of guns, fewer people will own guns. Assault rifles are essentially vanity weapons. Will people really want to pay $200/yr just to own a vanity weapon that has no practical purpose?
Posted by: 2slugbaits at December 21, 2012 02:58 PM
It's simply untrue that pool owners have unlimited liability and that if kids sneak into your pool and drown, you are liable. No one would own a pool if that were true. As in the case of guns, there are federal, state, and local laws that you have to comply with in order to avoid liability. Civil liability is basically governed by tort concepts such as negligence, product and premises liability, and attractive nuisance (for small children). As I say, you have to follow federal, state, and local law, but in general you'll need a lockable fence that's at least 4 feet high (to keep small children out), a pool cover for when the pool is not in use, perhaps an alarm that goes off if the pool or water has been disturbed, and warning signs.
The same is true for guns: liability depends on federal and state law. For example, in NJ, you are civilly liable if an assault weapon is stolen from you and used in a crime if you don't report the theft within 24 hours of becoming aware of it. If you know that a gun might be accessible to a minor, then you must store it in a locked gun safe in a secure place with a trigger lock and are criminally liable if you don't. The exception is if a minor (under 16) steals a gun from you by breaking and entering, you are not criminally liable.
Just as pool accidents can be covered by a homeowners policy, so can firearms accidents. Rates depend on the insurance company. In some cases, they my not increase the rate if guns are present and in some cases they may, reducing the rate if guns are stored in gun safes unloaded and/or with trigger locks.
Homeowners insurance can introduce interesting incentives. If someone is involved in a self defense shooting at home, he will have to face both criminal and civil liability. It is not uncommon in these cases to be cleared of criminal liability but still be sued. In some cases, the plaintiff's attorney will try to argue that the shooting was an accident. That way they can tap into the homeowners insurance. In fact, I've even heard it recommended that if you are going to keep a revolver for home defense, the hammer should be bobbed to make it double action only. The reason is that there have apparently been cases in which the plaintiff's attorney has tried to argue that the homeowner cocked the hammer before firing. If a jury can be persuaded of the possibility, then it could be argued that the homeowner was startled by a sudden movement and fired accidentally, given the light trigger pull in single action mode. That turns a self defense shooting into an accident and triggers the homeowners insurance. Bobbing the hammer makes that line of argument impossible.
Regarding insurance, one of the many benefits of NRA membership is you get insurance. An annual member gets $5000 in death or dismemberment benefits resulting from a hunting or shooting accident. Through the NRA, you can also buy excess liability insurance. That will provide coverage of up to $250K against liability suits involving hunting or shooting accidents. You can also get self defense insurance that will pay criminal and civil defense costs (provided you are innocent of criminal charges) as well as provide up to 250K in liability coverage.
In general there are a plethora of laws already on the books for both pools and guns which affective incentives and define liability.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 21, 2012 08:30 PM
Every gun shop I’ve been in (even one with a pistol range) has a sign outside that reads “Firearms must be unloaded before entering.” Every gun show I’ve been to has the same sign outside, but also requires you to submit your firearm for inspection before entering the building, the inspector using a zip tie to lock the weapon before handing it back to you.
Yet these same people would flip out if the local mall required that your weapon be inspected.
Posted by: Craig at December 22, 2012 04:15 AM
Thanks for agreeing that there are evil people all over the world. Now let's move forward from there. Is it more logical to allow the sane people to defend themselves against evil people or to remove self-defense from the sane allowing the insane a free hand.
Your point about guns being able to kill more people is actually not relevant to this discussion. The nuts can and do get weapons of mass destruction. Most of the mass killers have acquired their weapons from others. That proves that they are intent on doing evil and legality will not stop them.
Let's look at the sane question is what is the best way to stop the nuts from killing so many? Can you name one instance where a crazed killer has faced a defensive gun and committed mass murder? You have to face reality. Mass killing does not happen when the killer faces a defensive weapon.
A crazy killer facing real defense is impotent. A rapist with a knife will always win against an unarmed woman. A rapist with a knife will lose big time against a woman with a pistol. Why are there gated communities? Why are there armed guards at banks, political offices, watching movie stars, and on and on. Everyone knows that defensive weapons work better than anything else. Even the most avid politician who opposes guns for self-defense has a gun himself or a body guard.
Words are cheap expecially when they apply to someone else, but when the rubber meets the road the human actions are totally logical and rational. Guns for self-defense are totally logical and rational.
Posted by: Ricardo at December 22, 2012 05:20 AM
Rick Stryker In the case of private swimming pools I cannot think of any good reason why liability should not be unlimited. Limiting liability is just a fancy way of subsidizing pool owners.
Virtually all of the things you mentioned regarding guns are either state & local or voluntary. And don't be naive about the $250K liability insurance you can buy from the NRA. The point of those kinds of small insurance policies is to effectively set a maximum value on liability without imposing a significant cost on the gun owner. If a child is accidentally killed and you are at fault, the parents of that child can sue for millions, but they might as well sue a turnip. As a practical matter the amount that they will get will be pretty close to the value of your liabiilty insurance policy unless the gun owner is quite wealthy. We see something similar with automobile liability. Insurance policies like those offered by the NRA are worse than nothing because they encourage moral hazard by offering low cost liability protection while at the same time effectively capping that liability. My argument was for a mandatory insurance tax that would both reflect the true value of a human life and be costly enough that gun owners would have to actually think about the costs.
For example, in NJ, you are civilly liable if an assault weapon is stolen from you and used in a crime if you don't report the theft within 24 hours of becoming aware of it.
Why should the act of reporting a stolen gun absolve the gun owner from liability? The obligation should not be one of reporting a stolen gun; the obligation should be making sure that the gun isn't stolen.
In general there are a plethora of laws already on the books for both pools and guns which affective incentives and define liability.
Then you shouldn't mind one or two more.
Posted by: 2slugbaits at December 22, 2012 08:34 AM
Your world of unlimited liability is a world that is not governed by ruling legal principles and in which the facts of the case don't matter. I think I prefer the world we actually live in.
Mandatory insurance seems to be the gun control idea du jour. The idea is that insurance companies will figure out who is most at risk for causing gun-related death and charge appropriately. But it's a fantasy to think that mandatory insurance is going to prevent all the drug related homicides, suicides, and school shootings by psychos.
I'd like to suggest an alternative policy that should be simple and effective: Make sure at least some teachers are armed with an appropriate defensive handgun and make sure that they have undergone rigorous training in its safe use.
If a teacher volunteers to be armed, then after an appropriate background check they should be allowed to choose a handgun, ammo, and a training course from an approved list, all paid for by the school. They should also be required to satisfy range time requirements and re-certification. The school district should also pay for ammo, shooting glasses, and ear protection.
An example of an acceptable choice of weapon, ammo, and training would be the Glock 21 loaded with 200 grain jacketed hollowpoints and the Mag/40 training course described here:
Governor Mcdonell of Va and others have already suggested that this idea should be explored and a bill is being crafted in Va:
One texas school has had armed teachers since 2007.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 22, 2012 12:30 PM
Rick Stryker: I think your measures are insufficient. We need at least an APC or M1 tank for each school. Be prepared! Festung Grundschule kommt!
Posted by: Menzie Chinn at December 22, 2012 12:48 PM
Harrold, Texas has implemented what they call "The Guardian Plan." It's similar to what I earlier suggested for arming teachers with a major improvement. Armed teachers in Harrold are required to use ammo that breaks apart upon impact with a hard surface so that it won't go through walls or ricochet easily, similar to what air marshals use.
Superintendent Thweatt who developed the plan said: “My call, to the parents at the end of the day, is your child is coming home, the bad guy is dead.”
It's refreshing to hear that someone has come up with a serious, realistic plan to protect innocent children rather than blathering about the need for more gun control, as much of the educational establishment is now doing.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 22, 2012 09:50 PM
Rick Stryker, do you expect the teachers will be better trained than the sheriff's deputy at Columbine? I'm curious about what the stock NRA response is to his apparent ineffectiveness.
Posted by: Tudor at December 23, 2012 04:21 PM
I'm giving my own views, not the NRA's. I realize that a number of journalists have been making the claim that the "armed guard" at Columbine was ineffective but, as usual, they know nothing about what actually happened and the opposite is true.
Columbine was intended to be a bomb attack with a very high casualty rate. It was masterminded by Eric Harris, who did most of the planning, bomb construction, and ultimately the murdering. His confederate, Dylan Klebold, was primarily interested in suicide and was persuaded to participate, although he apparently did so half-heartedly. The attack had three stages. In stage 1, a timed bomb was set to go off in a nearby park, drawing the police away from the school: in the second phase, bombs planted in the school were supposed to detonate, killing most students in the blast. Harris and Klebold had set themselves up outside of each exit and were planning to murder those who managed to escape in phase II. In the third phase, timed bombs that were planted in the boys' cars were supposed to explode. Harris and Klebold planned to commit suicide in the third phase.
However, the bomb in the park only partially went off and the bombs in the school did not detonate. Their plan having failed, Harris and Klebold decided to improvise and began shooting students outside of the school, with Harris doing most of the shooting.
Deputy Neil Gardner was not an "armed guard." Rather he was the community resource officer who worked for the sheriff's department and was assigned full time at the school. His job was to be a liason from the school to the police department, to watch for stuff like pot smoking, break up fights, etc. He was armed but was certainly not supposed to be a personal swat team. Rather, he was supposed to develop a relationship with the students. Most everyday, he ate lunch with the students in the cafeteria.
When Harris and Klebold started shooting, which was at lunch time, Gardner was sitting in his patrol car eating a sandwich with an unarmed school security guard. Gardner heard gunshots, saw smoke, heard a 911 call, and got a call from the school custodian. He drove towards the shooting, lights and siren on.
At this point, the shooting had gone on for just a few minutes, but some students were dead, some wounded, and others were pinned down outside. Eric Harris, who did most the shooting, was looking for new targets. Part time art teacher Patti Nielsen saw the two shooters and thought there were making a noisy movie. With a student, she came down to tell them to keep it down and were shocked when Eric Harris fired on them. They ran inside and expected Harris to follow. However, just at this point, Gardner arrived and Harris started shooting at him. He fired 10 times, missed all shots, and then his rifle jammed. Deputy Gardner fired 4 times and missed, and then Harris cleared the jam and fired at Gardner again, missing. Harris then went inside. Gardner did not pursue, consistent with police protocol, but radioed for backup.
Motorcycle cop Paul Smoker arrived just after the gun battle between Gardner and Harris. He saw a bleeding student hiding behind a shed and another in the grass. Gardner was back out of his patrol car with weapon drawn. Gardner spotted Harris in the doorway and fired again. Harris retreated and returned fire, trying to hit students who were trying to escape as well. Harris missed and retreated into the school, not coming out again.
By pinning Harris down the first time, Gardner stopped Harris from shooting more students. He also stopped him from pursuing the fleeing art teacher and student. When Gardner fired on Harris the second time, he prevented Harris from shooting students who were coming out of concealment to escape. Having an armed person on the scene that day saved lives. Had armed teachers with the proper training been at the school, perhaps more lives could have been saved.
When you study these shootings, the key fact you see is how quickly they happen. Someone needs to stop the shooter immediately. Even a minute matters. The shooter does not necessarily have to be shot or killed for lives to be saved.
That's why armed teachers with the proper training would save lives.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 23, 2012 10:10 PM
Rick Stryker: I think you need to expand your mission for guards to the Fire Department; ein Panzer mit jeden feuerwehrwagen!
Posted by: Menzie Chinn at December 24, 2012 03:40 PM
The debate over gun rights always get to this point eventually. Either the gun control advocate says "Sieg Heil or Heil, mein Führer," or repeats your gun freedom argument back to you with a German accent, or gives you the Nazi salute, or, in Menzie's case, replies with jokes in German.
Whenever this happens, you know you've done a good job making your case. The gun control advocate thinks he can stop the debate in its tracks by implying that gun rights advocates are making the same arguments the Nazis did.
I always find this last desperate gambit so ridiculous. The Nazi's wanted more private gun ownership? Really? They wanted a world in which people own guns and defend themselves without the permission of the police? Really?!
Well, of course not, as a moment's reflection on the nature of Nazism makes clear and history confirms.
Let's take a brief look at gun control in Germany leading up to the Nazis. In 1919, the Weimar Republic passed the Verordnung des Rates der
Volksbeauftragen über Waffenbesitz (Regulations of the Council of the People’s
Delegates on Weapons Possession) which required that all weapons and ammo be turned in to the government immediately. The penalty for not doing so was 5 years in prison and a 100K marks fine. Of course, these draconian measures never work and the German people were not disarmed.
Ultimately, in 1928 the Weimar government passed Gesetz über Schußwaffen und Munition (Law on Firearms and Ammunition)which was a less strict set of gun control laws than the 1919-1920 versions, but laws that they believed were actually enforceable. Interestingly, these laws were similar to what we see in states like CA, NJ, NY, and MA but in some ways went farther along the lines that gun control advocates in the US would like.
When the Nazis took power in 1933, one item on the agenda was a reconsideration of the 1928 law to make sure it met the needs of the Nazi regime. The main people involved in this reexamination were Hitler, Frick, Himmler, and Goring. However, they didn't get around to amending the law until 1938 since the 1928 law already worked very well for the Nazi regime. In 1938, the Waffengesetz (Weapons Law) was decreed and signed by Hitler and Frick. The law essentially kept most of the features of the 1928 law. The main differences were to exclude Jewish people from the firearms business and to make it easier for bonafide Nazis to possess firearms. The main features of this Nazi law were as follows:
1) requirements for licenses to make and sell firearms
2) record keeping for all sales accessible to police
3)licenses for permission to obtain or carry firearms only to those who prove need and are approved by the police
4)denial of licenses to those who are acting in a way "inimical" to the state or who may endanger public safety
5)banning of weapons that have features not consistent with hunting or sport shooting (their version of the assault weapons ban)
Himmler followed up this law with a general order that no Jewish person would be allowed to possess any firearms whatsoever. We now know that was a necessary step for what they had in mind for German Jews.
So, gun control advocates out there. The next time you are tempted to shout "Nazi," you might want to think about where the Nazis really stood on the subject of gun control.
Posted by: Rick Stryker at December 25, 2012 09:35 AM
Rick Stryker: I have never made reference on this weblog to the person you referred to, nor to the ideology you mention. These items must be weighing heavily on your mind, which doesn't surprise me. But since it does...let me put it in English, so you can understand the concept. A tank with each fire engine seems to be the logical implication of your comments and recent events. Please explicate if you don't understand the logic.
Posted by: Menzie Chinn at December 25, 2012 12:06 PM
re; taxes specific to bullets and guns - unconstitutional as are poll taxes and newspaper taxes - you can't diminish civil rights through taxes.
most 2nd amendment discussions fall apart as one side claims it means nothing while the other says it means everything. Historical usage and past court opinions suggest
Citizen arms – individual operated, solid firing, home kept, sport and defense
State arms – crew operated, shell firing, arsenal kept, defense and attack uses
with state used in the sense of government overall.
Posted by: bobmark at December 31, 2012 07:54 AM
Wow, there's some appalling ignorance here. I remember why I stopped reading this blog.
Menzie's trolling on an issue I happen to know something about makes it impossible for me to trust his comments about subjects I don't know about.
Congratulations on totally undermining your credibility with everyone who doesn't agree with you on every issue you address so flippantly.
Posted by: eggo at January 7, 2013 10:43 PM