A few things you won’t hear about from the saturation coverage of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre:
Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.
In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.
The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.
Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.
Almost all of the public-policy discussion about Newtown has focused on a debate over the need for more gun control. In reality, gun control in a country that already has 200 million privately owned firearms is likely to do little to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. We would be better off debating two taboo subjects — the laws that make it difficult to control people with mental illness and the growing body of evidence that “gun-free” zones, which ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding individuals, don’t work.
First, the mental-health issue. A lengthy study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.” New York Times columnist David Brooks and Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson have both suggested that the ACLU-inspired laws that make it so difficult to intervene and identify potentially dangerous people should be loosened. “Will we address mental-health and educational-privacy laws, which instill fear of legal liability for reporting potentially violent mentally ill people to law enforcement?” asks Professor Jacobson. “I doubt it.”
Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive. “Guns are already banned in schools. That is why the shootings happen in schools. A school is a ‘helpless-victim zone,’” says Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff. “Preventing any adult at a school from having access to a firearm eliminates any chance the killer can be stopped in time to prevent a rampage,” Jim Kouri, the public-information officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me earlier this year at the time of the Aurora, Colo., Batman-movie shooting. Indeed, there have been many instances — from the high-school shooting by Luke Woodham in Mississippi, to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. — where a killer has been stopped after someone got a gun from a parked car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.
Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.
I spoke with Lott after the Newtown shooting, and he confirmed that nothing has changed to alter his findings. He noted that the Aurora shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals. All of the other theaters allowed the approximately 4% of Colorado adults who have a concealed-handgun permit to enter with their weapons.
“Disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks,” Lott told me. “A couple hundred people were in the Cinemark Theater when the killer arrived. There is an extremely high probability that one or more of them would have had a legal concealed handgun with him if they had not been banned.”
Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”
There is no evidence that private holders of concealed-carry permits (which are either easy to obtain or not even required in more than 40 states) are any more irresponsible with firearms than the police. According to a 2005 to 2007 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Bowling Green State University, police nationwide were convicted of firearms violations at least at a 0.002% annual rate. That’s about the same rate as holders of carry permits in the states with “shall issue” laws.
Despite all of this evidence, the magical thinking behind gun-free zones is unlikely to be questioned in the wake of the Newtown killings. Having such zones gives people a false sense of security, and woe to the politician or business owner who now suggests that a “gun-free zone” revert back to what critics would characterize as “a wild, wild West” status. Indeed, shortly after the Cinemark attack in Colorado, the manager of the nearby Northfield Theaters changed its policy and began banning concealed handguns.
In all of the fevered commentary over the Newtown killings, you will hear little discussion of the fact that we may be making our families and neighbors less safe by expanding the places where guns aren’t allowed. But that is precisely what we may be doing. Both criminals and the criminally insane have shown time and time again that those laws are the least of the problems they face as they carry out their evil deeds.
In the aftermath of the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, the reaction to my plain on the face observation that white man are grossly over-represented among mass shooting killers like Adam Lanza has been fascinating — albeit not surprising. Whiteness does not like to be confronted. It also hates being exposed to the light of truth.
Oy. What a gift to those who live on emotional responses.
The latest report is that Adam Lanza, an adult, age 20, had a quarrel with 4 of the teachers at that school, and when Mommy took her vacation, he went in search of a gun. And declined to take part in Connecticut's 14 day mandatory background check.
Once again, had this been an adult male, it happens, who had an incident in the workplace and returned with a gun, perhaps people would be able to dial down the hysteria and realize that Violence Just Is.
On the night of April 20, 1914, members of the Colorado National Guard assaulted a colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado. After setting fire to the miners' tents, the guards shot people as they fled, mowing them down with rapid fire from Gatling guns. The results, described in Woody Guthrie's song, "The Ludlow Massacre," were devastating: Twenty-five people died, including two women and eleven children.
It didn't stop there. The guards massed for a second assault, but the miners had a plan. As Guthrie describes it, some of the women took potatoes to the nearby town of Trinidad, traded them for firearms and sneaked the guns into camp. When the guards attacked again, "The redneck miners mowed down them troopers/You shudda seen those poor boys run" (from "the Ludlow Massacre"). The song simplifies what actually developed into a 10-day conflict over a 40-mile front, a raging battle that historian Howard Zinn called "the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history." But it gets the essence: Because the miners armed themselves, they saved their families from further murders, and wreaked a certain justice on the Colorado National Guard.
And now, because a nut job went wild at Sandy Hook Elementary in a mass murder, about which reports have been absurdly incompetent and incomplete, a group of people calling themselves "Liberals" would like to strip the people of their right to bear arms. Do not say you wish only to "control" guns. To take away the right to own firearms of at least semi-automatic capability — and that is the essence of legislation put forth by Dianne Feinstein and endorsed by President Obama — is to avoid thinking clearly and rationally about a pressing subject by simply saying "I'm a Liberal, and Liberals think X."
I have yet to see an argument for the confiscation of semi-autos that contains facts and figures in support of confiscation. This is probably because none exists. What I do get is people saying things like "Don't bring up the fact that Hitler confiscated the Jews' guns in 1938" and "Stop telling me you can fight government forces with small arms" and "Don't quote Mao Zedong's adage that 'Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun'" and "Don't tell me about all those citizens who own firearms in peaceful Switzerland." Apparently, certain arguments are verboten if they make a case against a smug and pre-ordained political stance that makes one, you know, better (sniff) than those nasty gun-owners.
From the standpoint of the Liberal mainstream, I am the most unlikely of second-amendment advocates. My firearms ownership is tiny and includes nothing that could be labeled an "assault weapon," whatever that is. I don't fit in with so-called "gun culture," and the two times I have attended gun shows I had the uneasy feeling I would soon be accosted by bad country music or some wild-eyed maniac with a petition to reinstate the Confederate flag. My stand is based wholly on principle, and on the facts supporting the urgency of that principle. The cliché of the beer-bellied, ignorant, dull-eyed slinger of AKs and AR-15s is based on pure cultural bias against the Other, and feeds Liberal emotionality. Firearms owners in fact fill a much wider profile. How does Liberal bias fit the lives and personalities of the many gun-owners I know? The software designer, the sex therapist, the classical singer, the schoolteacher, the psychiatrist and the ophthamologist are none of them even remotely ignorant. To the contrary, they are informed, thoughtful and aware of the world around them, a great deal more than I can say for the knee-jerk advocates of confiscation.
If the advocates of confiscating "assault weapons" were aware of the world outside their own safety net of Acceptable Ideology, they would notice that the power of large States is growing, and that in particular the power of the United States government is growing and taking on the attributes of Frankenstein's monster. The monster, in the form of a foreign policy that invades every country it deems "anti-democratic" and that kills every individual it labels "terrorist" (including, so far, two American citizens) and domestic policies that obliterate any rights that get in its way, from free speech — which has been marginalized by the creation of "free-speech zones" — to the bald and disgraceful violation of the Fourth Amendment by the TSA's pat-downs and x-rays of air travelers. This is no trifle. In fact, this is the very heart of the matter. For the advocates of gun confiscation are saying that only the monster should have major weapons, that large caliber semi-automatics and 50-round magazines and the like should be only in the hands of the military, the police, and security agencies, and not in the homes of private citizens.
One can understand supporters of State power taking this stand. It is the proper position if you believe the State to be the omnibenevolent protector of your wellbeing. And while I've couched the matter in the grossest of terms, there actually exist a frighteningly large number of people who think this way. Of course, they don't call it "State power," they call it "freedom" or "America" or even "morality." Just turn over more of your rights to the government, support "our troops" and let those in charge take care of us. For such folk, gun confiscation is a natural outgrowth of their belief system. These people are the silent majority, the non-Libertarian Right, and moderate Democrats who keep saying "give Obama a chance" no matter what he does, from drone-killing innocent Pakistanis to cutting Social Security. I'd say they are the shame of the nation, but they are not even that. They are the politically lazy — typical, apparently, of every culture throughout history.
As I am forbidden to mention how the State has, throughout history, confiscated guns from citizens as prelude to massacring them (research what Turkey did to the Armenians) and forbidden as well to mention that the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto night have broken out if they'd been armed to begin with instead of having to scramble for weapons — I suppose I must stick to saying, "Well, my guns is my property, and you all ain't gonna get "em." There. That make you feel warm and snugly in your superiority? Here's another thing I am probably forbidden to mention:
The presence of guns in the hands of innocent citizens does not increase crime, it deters its commission, and it cases where the crime is already being committed, frequently stops it. Instances of the latter are almost constantly occurring. The day after the Shady Hook shootings, a man in Oregon drew his pistol on a man who had opened fire in a shopping mall. The shooter saw the man's gun, and immediately shot himself — a reaction strangely common among mass shooters. Adam Lanza reportedly killed himself upon hearing the sirens of approaching police. If a trained teacher had pulled a firearm on Lanza, chances are he might have shot himself a lot earlier. The opposite is also true: the lack of guns in the hands of innocent citizens increases crime. This is the fact that generally gets a very large sniff from the gun-confiscation nuts, followed by immediate and indignant demands for statistics. And then, when I supply them, it doesn't change their attitude, because their attitude is based solely on their need to identify with Acceptable Ideology.
Look up the violent crime rates in Mexico, where it is nearly impossible to obtain a gun legally, versus those in my home state, Arizona, where firearms are everywhere and anyone can conceal carry. Go ahead, do it. Of course you won't, because the results will contradict your "Liberal" stance, and the one thing you never want to do is to violate the tribal beliefs of your particular Ideological group. I can hear wheels inside the minds of certain readers grinding out the following mantra: "This writer is a Conservative and that's bad; I'm a Liberal and that's good. To stay a Liberal I must believe that gun confiscation is a good thing." From my sad experience, this is what passes for thinking on the part of most people. And I'm including Conservatives, whose idiocy shows up in myriad ways, chief among them the support of military actions that contradict the very principles they claim to espouse. Liberal/Conservative is a false choice, a shell game like "Left/Right" that divides the people against themselves and serves only to strengthen the State.
To support the confiscation of semi-automatic firearms from the People is to strip the striking cola-miners at Ludlow of their defenses and to condemn them to further devastation; to doom the Jews at Warsaw to fighting and dying with bolt action weapons; to sniff smugly as millions of Armenians and Chinese and Africans die at the hands of the State, disarmed and helpless. It is to look the other way as the poor in American cities like Chicago — where guns are all but impossible to obtain lawfully and 500 people died from gun violence in 2012 — endure the oppression of gangs who, of course, always manage to get firearms no matter the law. It is to make sure that gun-free zones like Sandy Hook remain gun-free and thus totally open to the horror of mass murder. It is all those things, but it is also safely to rest beneath the mantle of being a "Liberal" without having to think further on the subject. My hope is that, among the readers of this tiny essay are a few who will reach the conclusion clear to any rational being, namely that one of two things are possibly true: 1) Gun confiscation is not an authentically Liberal position, no matter how many times it is called that, or 2) If these things are indeed what it means to be a Liberal, then only a damn fool would be one.
EdGlaze said in 47719.239: The problem with the anti-gun rights folks is that they blame the gun and not the criminal and seek to impose restrictions that affect the legal gun owners and which the criminals ignore or bypass.
ValPatenaude responded: That's a very tired old argument. Most people are just fine with folks having guns to protect their homes and places of business. If you're willing to live with the greater risk to your family from having guns in the house, so be it.
The problem is the weapons of mass destruction that nut cases seem to get hold of so easily. If there is no legitimate reason to have them, get them off the streets by not making them available and by taking the existing ones out of circulation. Seems pretty much a no brainer as it has worked where it has been tried in other places.
You have greatly mischaracterized WMDs if you mean any form of handheld firearm.
There is — and always has been — a problem with a very few people who seek to commit mass murder but, as already pointed out to you, it doesn't take a semi-automatic firearm to do so. Serial killers, nut cases or not, have victimized people throughout history and did so even before gun powder. Many mass killings have been justified based on religious, political, or rascist beliefs and decimated millions. The problem of mass murder is far larger than just a handheld weapon. If you are really worried about mass destruction shouldn't we really characterize the death and destruction causes by tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and other things which are far more deadly than firearms.
None of the current or proposed gun control laws will keep the nut cases from finding a way to kill others. Whether they do it one at a time, like a serial killer, or by attacking groups the killings will continue and usually be a surprize when the identity of the killer is revealed. There is no way to know ahead of time just who will eventually decide to kill others or what method they will choose.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are defined in US law (18 USC §2332a) as:
“(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title (i.e. explosive device);
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title)
(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life.”
WMD is often referred to by the collection of modalities that make up the set of weapons: chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE). These are weapons that have a relatively large-scale impact on people, property, and/or infrastructure.
Following the terrifying events in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead — including 20 children — the nation has turned its attention to the topic of guns and gun control.
Considering the fact that Adam Lanza’s murderous rampage occurred just five months after James Holmes stormed a theater in Aurora, Colo., shooting 70 people and killing 12, it seems that the nation, to a certain degree, is determined to speak more frankly about guns and gun-related violence and debate what should be done.
However, this is where we get into an odd area.
It appears that the gun control debate is being dominated by bad information and that the chance for thoughtful and meaningful dialogue — let alone solutions — is being lost.
For instance, in what appears to be an attempt by one side to push for stricter gun laws, there is a wealth of misinformation out there regarding semi-automatic rifles. One side argues semi-auto rifles are the real root of the problem, the other side would like a focus on safety and mental health.
However, if U.S. lawmakers are actually going to enact laws aimed at semi-automatic rifles (or “scary looking” semi-automatic rifles, as Glenn Beck has pointed out), the legislation should be based only on the best and most accurate data. Unfortunately, much of what’s being said today about semi-automatic rifles is either misleading or flat-out untrue.
So what’s the truth behind those so-called “assault weapons”?
We’re glad you asked. In order to answer some of these gun-related questions, TheBlaze consulted with the experts at Daniel Defense, a Georgia-based group that specializes in providing “small arms product solutions to our Military and Law Enforcement community” with “innovative engineering and our state of the art manufacturing facility.”
In a debate on gun control involving technical and historical questions on firearms, we thought it would be best to involve those who have dedicated their careers to understanding firearms. Similarly, if we were discussing legislation that proposed to confiscate, say, all Gibson Les Paul Recording models from U.S. guitar players, we’d ask a professional luthier about the guitar, not a politician.
So, in an attempt to wrap our minds around the current debate on gun control, TheBlaze and Daniel Defense worked to identify the five most common misconceptions regarding semi-automatic rifles and mass shootings in the U.S.